Category Archives: Technology

Besta MT-7000, Chinese-English electronic dictionary and e-tutor


I have finally received my Besta MT-7000! It took me a few weeks to find it. I tried to order it from China and Singapore, but the stocks of the sites that offered it were wrong and after a few unsuccessful attempts I was back to square one. I ended up ordering it on Amazon. The Besta MT-7000 is the best electronic Chinese-English dictionary on the market (This is strictly my point of view.). And it’s not very expensive. I should start by saying that it is much more than an electronic dictionary, as it features lessons ranging from characters to pronunciation, daily and business conversations, and a list of tools from a diary to a calculator, games etc. I love the fact that you can either use a keyboard or write directly on the digital screen with a small pen to look for a word or a character. You can even write sentences and the Besta will translate them for you! I have been playing with it non-stop since it arrived, and I am taking it with me on my business trip to Sydney next week. It replaces many books that I have been schlepping around for a few months. Being small, you can carry it in your pocket and use it whenever the need arises. I highly recommend it to anyone learning (Mandarin) Chinese.

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The First Day (Le premier jour) – Where is Marc Levy’s respect for his readers?


Among the great mysteries in the world of books and literature is Marc Levy’s success. He is the most read French author outside French borders: 10 novels, 20 million copies sold, 41 languages… quite an achievement. Another mystery is why on earth I picked one of his book a few months ago. I had read Mes amis, mes amours a few years back, and didn’t like it. So what possessed me to give him another go? What I found in Le Premier Jour (The First Day) appalled me. Levy doesn’t write well, but that’s okay. We all know that you don’t need to know how to write to write books and be successful. There are innumerable examples of this. No, what really irked me this time is the obvious lack of respect of the author for his readers. The book is full of blatant errors which show that he didn’t even research his facts before writing his novel. Let me give you a few examples so that you understand where I am coming from. The two protagonists are an astrophysicist and an archeologist (I don’t know enough about archeology and Ethiopia to be in a position to say anything about that aspect of things, but I bet it’s full of inaccuracies like the rest.) The astrophysicist is searching for “the first star, the mother of all stars….” (sic). The descriptions of world astronomy sites are wrong: telescopes are described as ten story buildings, when in reality they are only twelve meters in diameter, for example. The story’s heroes land in the Nicobar islands in India and see… toucans (which only live in Latin America). They travel from Europe to China  – They want to go to Xian – so they book a flight to Beijing and rent a brand new four-wheel drive!!! For those who have never been to China, you should know that you cannot rent cars in China, because you are not allowed to drive with non-Chinese licences. What you do is rent a car with a chauffeur. Levy must have realised there was a problem because he says his hero was smart enough to use a GPS to drive all the way to Xian (probably to avoid having to read road signs in Chinese… very smart…). A GPS in China? How ridiculous. And no one in their own minds would dream of driving from Beijing to Xian – You fly. But of course the heroes had to drive, otherwise they would never come across Hua Shan… Too easy, Mr Levy. Oh, and what about this one? Get ready. From Xian, the protagonists need to fly to the Nicobar Islands, so they simply rent a small, old plane (with a pilot this time!), which takes them there and back in 48 hours or so… And how do they cross some of the best protected borders in the world? “By Flying low, and crossing borders at lunch time when custom officers are having lunch…” (Please take a breath.) Guess what? You reach the end of the 500 page book to discover that the story doesn’t end there, but that there is a second part (The First Night), which you need to buy if you want to know the end of the story… Great marketing device, but too low for my liking! Enough said, you won’t hear another word from me about this author.

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Filed under Books, China, Reading, Technology, Travel

iPad anyone?


I read an interesting article about using the iPad as ebook reader by Dominic Knight in the “Australian Author” magazine today. Knight seems to think the iPad is far superior to the Kindle for reading books, although it is much more pricey. I wonder if anyone reading this post has had any experience with reading books on the iPad and what they think. From what I’ve seen, it looks pretty cool. My biggest worry with my Kindle is that I might end up with a Kindle library that I won’t be able to read on any other device when the technology has evolved and I use another device, not unlike what’s happened with records and even CDs (I only download music these days).

On another note, the shortlist for this years Man Booker Prize has just been announced in London. The six books on the shortlist are:

  • Peter Carey with Parrot and Olivier in America (I’m very happy about this one)
  • Emma Donoghue with Room
  •  Damon Galgut with In a Strange Room
  • Howard Jacobson with The Finkler Question
  • Andrea Levy with The Long Song
  • Tom McCarthy with C

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