I learned of foxmail.com as an email service provider through correspondence with a guy (who was using it himself) who dropped out of Harvard’s PhD program in economics to do startup in China. He actually commented a few times on this very blog. (See this and this.)
I’ve already sent some emails with my foxmail.com email account now. What initially disappointed me was that it for some reason wouldn’t let me authentic using several email clients I tried, including the default Mail on Mac as well as Mozilla’s Thunderbird, not mention Tencent’s Foxmail client itself. I don’t like to use web client for email, mostly because Google, as great as its technology is, is so monopolistic and privacy invasive. Yes, I’m not going to let you log all my searches by my email account. But with the email clients not working, I was left with only the web client, which is not bad. I had tried Sina email before, and the whole user experience was pretty shitty, leaving me with a poor impression of Chinese tech companies.
Through Foxmail, I learned of Weiyun, Tencent’s cloud storage service. Before that, I tried Baidu Yun, and it was quite disappointing, with very low reliability, though now in hindsight I would expect the paid version to work at least reasonably well. File transfer to Weiyun was initially only about 100 KB / s. But its paid version, which comes with 3 TB storage plus 30 GB worth of fast file transfer per day, costs only 10 RMB / month (< $2). Seeing that, I promptly linked my credit card to WeChat Pay to subscribe to it. After that, its performance vastly exceeded my expectations.
The file transfer speed went up significantly, with what’s shown in the screenshot before an underestimate (it’s usually 500 KB/s)
Moreover, they support notes in Markdown.
Now, this would be the perfect place to store all my notes and lists.
I guess we wouldn’t be surprised that its stock has still gone up so rapidly the past few years, notwithstanding its size. I can’t believe its market cap is already 3.5 trillion. Even Google and Microsoft are not in the trillions. It was back in 2014 when I first heard of BAT (for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent). Interestingly, the three are in different cities, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen respectively. Now, of the three, Baidu is by far the weakest, with less than 100 billion market cap. Even Alibaba, at around 500 billion, is nowhere close to Tencent.
Back in 2014, these Chinese tech companies were basically completely off my radar. I barely used WeChat then. And Alibaba is e-commerce in China, so I have no reason to use it. Baidu’s search engine I had started using since probably around 2007, so that’s the one my personal experience has been closest to. I guess that might change now with Weiyun. I’m honestly pretty impressed with Tencent, though admittedly, its WeChat isn’t all that great. WeChat’s security has been questioned; it does not implement end-to-end encryption, which is when the server does not store the message in plaintext. For those of you who want end-to-end encryption, there’s WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. WhatsApp was bought by Facebook. Signal started off through a non-profit relying on donations and grants but that underlying organization was acquired by Twitter. Telegram was created by a Russian who earlier founded vKontakte, the Facebook of Russia, who later became somewhat of a Russian dissident, now in the UK.
Speaking of political dissidence, turns out so is one of the main creators of the celebrated Markdown, Aaron Swartz. Sadly, he committed suicide at age 26. Kind of like a Galois of programming.
As for his background, Jewish American. But looks like he was super against the system, I guess in the “libertarian” way? Seems like a real genius too smart and creative and anti-authoritarian for his own good, and he really suffered for it in the end. There are a lot of Jews like that (Ron Unz is rather close, and so is Bobby Fischer maybe), though of course, there is more of the money and power, Zionist, pro-American establishment type of Jew. In any case, Jews tend to be really politically outspoken and active. I guess they feel much more at home in Western society, unlike East Asians. There are plenty of politically ambitious and radical Chinese, contrary to the stereotype, but they tend to be in China. The whole Chinese revolutionary culture and tradition is quite another matter, and very foreign to the West. As for those liberal Chinese dissidents in the US, they are kind of a joke in terms of what they have actually achieved. In any case, I’ve noticed that in the US, it’s not really that socially acceptable for a Chinese-American to be too political and outspoken, the way Jews can do and get away with on a regular basis, for obvious reasons (the foreign culture combined with lack of media ownership and representation), unless one decides to become anti Chinese government, in which case support from various American political organizations and Congressmen won’t be all that hard to find. In any case, Chinese in America are but a passive minority. The Chinese with real leadership and political ambition should definitely stay in China.