Monday, 31 March 2008

The internal structure of Dalai Lama Ltd

I just read this article ( in the People's Daily and it is fairly obvious that it is a propaganda piece as it a blatant finger pointing. If you are used to reading the Chinese press though you get over that indignation fairly quickly and move on to see what you can actually extract from any news article. What I would love to read is someone from the Western media (not CNN I imagine) to verify those facts and then put their name on it!

In this article though won't comment on who I think is right or wrong (as in my previous piece it is obvious that I do not know right from wrong). I simple want to raise a very important question. What is the corporate structure of the Dalai Lama's organisation?

In most religions there is some sort of hierarchy. Growing up in a Catholic primary school and then a Anglican high school I got a glimpse of how these Christian organisations worked. In primary school I recall that the Parish Priest was just that. He was the priest. That was his job and thats all that he did. In high school the Anglican Reverend (who was married) was also a teacher, also coached a football team. So in my mind Catholic's are like full-time public servants and Anglicans are like part-time entrepreneurs.

I know that there is a heirarchy in the Islamic faith as well as the Jewish ones, but when it comes to Buddhism and particularly Tibetan Monks, I am at a bit of a loss. The reason is simply that Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Hindu's are exclusionary faiths. You can't really be a Christian Jew, or a Muslim Christian. You are one or the other but the way I understood Buddhism (and I am really illustrating my ignorance now) was a personal search of enlightenment. It it not a faith based on meditation and being "one with everything" (I will dispense with the hotdog joke). Also in Islamic Government's the head of state is normally not the spiritual leader. (aside from the pope who's landmass is somewhat limited anyway). But as far as the media has presented, the Dalai Lama is the head of state as well as the spiritual leader. How does this work?

Based on the article I mentioned before he has a Dalai Clique. Is this an inner circle type of Clique or is it the cool monks who used to smoke behind the tool shed at the monastery. Does this "clique" report to the Dalai Lama himself or are they like Oliver North and Ronald Reagan. Do they have their own power and make things happen without the Dalai Lama's expressed knowledge but he recognises their existance? Or are they like the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) that are disavowed if they get caught by the enemy.

Then there is the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). This name is also quite misleading in that it sounds like the cross between a community social club and the Hitler Youth. From what I understand from the article they are organising guerrilla attacks. So obviously they are not Monks because guerrilla warfare would be quite useless if you are wearing orange robes. I know that there are non-priests working in the Vatican. The Swiss Guard for example are not even from Rome. I did however assume that those working within the Catholic organisation, even if they were not priests or nuns, they were at least Catholics themselves. So are the TYC a Buddhist organisation? Do they also seek enlightenment?

The article says there are also some other key players in this thing. Organisations that I have not heard of before nor have I read in the Western media. (Which I am not surprised because I really never read about Sunni's and Shiite's until after Sadam was caught and troops kept on dying.) These organisations include the "Tibetan Woman's Association" (TWA), "Students for a Free Tibet" (SFT) the /'National Democratic Party of Tibet" (NDPT) and the "Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet" (GCSMT). A name that I am ashamed not to have come across before as well is Samdhong the "Prime Minister" of the "Tibetian Government-in-exile". So hierarchically speaking, does that make the Dalai Lama like Tibet's Monarchy?

Now I am not sure if the same imagery is being conjured in your mind but I am seeing a Monty Python sketch in the "Life of Brian" film.

I'm confused! Can someone draw me an organisational chart please.

P.S. I wonder if the Shaolin Monks would have better luck at gaining independence. At least they are trained to fight.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Backlash 2.0

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to....aggregate?

Having just read the Facebook Suicide blog entry by SHL I began to consider my own web mortality. A couple of years ago my journey into the tangled web 2.0 began when I joined Friendster. Invited by my single friends who used this tool to pick up English speaking girls in Shanghai I realised that this was more than just an online singles bar. of course being married I could not partake anyway.

So Friendster led to Linked in, my attempt to waste my time in a manner that I could almost justify as business usage. I discovered MSN Spaces and MySpace where I promptly put up pages to express my feelings or show photos from my camera phone. Shortly after that I joined Facebook and reconnected with those whom I lost touch with decades ago. Then it became an obsession. I started tweeting, blogging, social bookmarking and RSSing. My time is becoming more scarce and now I have just discovered FriendFeed which aggregates and displays the extent of my obsession. I find that I do not hesitate in signing up to any new social network that comes about to the point where I am now signed up to some Chinese sites that I cannot even read.

But unlike the Facebook suicidee, who deleted his accounts in an attempt to regain his real life social networks, I realise that I have no such network to return to. Prior to this 2.0 addiction I used to vicariously live through the exploits of my single and promiscuous friends. Hearing about their parties and conquests allowed me to maintain my fulfilling "1st Life" as a father and husband without having to cheat or lie. I simply listened to the stories of the live of others to get my fill of adventure (of course I never got into the reality TV thing and have no real interest in Brad, Angie, Victoria or David). I didn't have the bandwidth to have a "2nd Life" and now what I have found was that my 2.0 life remained quite fractured amongst over a dozen social networking sites. In essence visiting and linking to me on any one of the dozens sites that I frequent would provide you with only a facet of my personality.

Throughout these proxy social interactions I have attempted to be true to myself and my mediocrity however, a tweet here, an article here, parts of my true identity were scattered amongst the various shards of the blogophere. Now with FriendFeed, Pulse on Plaxo and even through Facebook apps that aggregate feeds from my other existences, I am beginning to see the personality I am projecting with greater clarity, and to be honest, what I am seeing is somewhat frightening. I am now realising that my Freudian Ego and my Cyber Id do not necessarily correlate.

Who is this person that is looking back at me through my FireFox browser. I do not recognise him? This person on the other side of the mirror not only has a political opinion (where I in real life have none), is somewhat communist (something I would never admit in good company), has very cynical view of the world and holds the unpopular position on most issues. This is not the person I knew myself to be. In real life I see myself as a compassionate, friendly and mostly diplomatic being but this other me... he is downright offensive at times. He sees no compassion in the plight of the Tibetans, he doesn't give a hoot about the environment and feels no empathy towards those who in real life might cause me to feel hollow and sad inside.

Is this other personality the real me? or is the person I thought I was the real me? I shudder to think of the day when, through perhaps during a non-voluntary Earth hour, this online Mr. Hyde, without the internet to channel his persona overcomes the politically correct and sensitive Dr. Jekyll , becoming a real life monster.

Who is this facade that has become the one true me.
Please save me from myself Oh Timothy Berners-Lee!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Through the looking glass

I typed up this article over lunch today and I thought to myself, should I post it. It's very long and personal and maybe no-one will read it. But then I thought what the heck. If I am going to be ignored then I might as well be blabbering something while that's happening. So here goes.... Send.


Watching the World from China is a unique perspective. Over the last 8 years in this country my views on the World have changed which makes me question whether this is the result of the Chinese propaganda machine or lack of the propaganda from Western nations such as Australia. I would like first however to explain that this is not a sociological study, not is it something that I have done vast amounts of research on. It is purely a representation of personal experience and observations from my life.

Growing up in Australia from the age of four I consider myself first an Australian Immigrant then a subject of the British Empire in Hong Kong. My ties to Mainland China has always been slightly prejudice as Hong Kong people were in the 70's. I make this point not because this article will look at China but because I want to make it clear that I am not trying to spew forth pro-Chinese propaganda myself.

Prior to the turn of the century my views of the world were pretty much the same as most Australians. I viewed Australia as the "Lucky Country" and view the British as annoying elder brothers. The US I viewed as the retarded cousin who married into a rich family that we had to put up with. My views on China at the time were that it was a huge expanse of peasants who were culturally raped by the Mao era. I believed that the last bastion of true Chinese culture came not from China itself but by those who had fled and brought with them the pre-Communist beliefs. This was in the back of my mind but honestly it was filed away so well that I barely gave it second thought in the 90's as I never thought I would come to be in China.

When I arrived in China in 2000 I knew that it was not a backward country, but I could not shake the feeling that touching down in Shanghai I would see rice fields and farmers wearing straw hats ploughing the water soaked fields behind an ox. When I arrived, I was taken to the Bund on my first day and saw something that could have come from an episode of Buck Rogers.

So for eight years I have worked and loved here, raised a family and I look outwards to what could have been and see things that an Australian wouldn't necessarily see. I feel things that in the circle of friends from my uni days would frown upon as insensitive and I ask myself, "Am I
odd one out or are they the ones that are disillusioned? Am I no longer able to see what is right and what is obviously wrong?"

When I talk to people in China about Taiwan, I ask them. "Do you really believe that Taiwan is a provence?" and from people who are born, educated and are about 25ish in age, they will tell you without hesitation. Yes! I sometimes ask if they feel democracy is better than communism and they will once again reply without hesitation that democracy is not as good because people do not always make decisions that are for the good of the people.

Hearing these honest opinions repeatedly in a country that censors the Internet, prohibits foreign media and where people do not vote is interesting because in Australia the freedom of speech, the freedom of information, and the right to elect those who will govern you is the basis of democracy. But are Chinese people oppressed? At least in Shanghai and Beijing and other major cities, they do not appear to be. The seem to continue their daily lives, earning money, dreaming of owning their own home, meeting a partner, having kids (or kid I should say). The need to vote does not seem to be as precious as democracy says it should be.

From inside looking out through my magic looking glass this is what I see. I see an American Empire making decisions for those who did not elect them in such as the Iraqi's, the North Koreans, the Taiwanese, the Tibetan's, Israeli's and the Afghans. I see Islamic fundamentalists
executing infidels but mostly white Americans, I see rioting in Tibet from monks for independence from China on the streets of Tibet and Sichuan but fail to see how overturning cars and destroying property in their home country will prove that an Independent government will make things better for the local inhabitants. I see the Islamic nation of Malaysia having it's first fair democratic election, the aftermath of which is political infighting, racial conflict that caused by the constitution and a parallel monarchistic system that chooses to flex it's muscle to destablise the national government. I see the removal & execution of a tyrant that resulted in anarchy and 4000 American troop deaths and a landscape littered with exploding devices and the nuclear
threat emerging from Iran that was formerly suppressed by that tyrant who in turn was originally armed by America. I see all this through the looking glass that is limited to only what I have experienced and seen before.

I ask this question from a Communist nation who is not being attached by anyone with WMD's, who is not interfering with domestic conflicts except when expressly asked to (ie they are talking to North Korea but not doing anything to ease the pain in Sudan) and who are experiencing double digit economic growth in major cities (as well as the inflationary affects thereof) and are increasingly harming the environment but not at a level that "First World" nations are yet. They
are also restricting the independence of Tibet and Taiwan (Of course if Queenland seriously wanted to be it's own country then I am sure there would be some resistance as well), arresting journalists, relocating entire towns beneath the 3 gorges dam and artificially manipulating the value of the RMB.

And the question I ask is What is Good and What is Evil? Are my views the result of being brainwashed by an oppressive regime for eight years or is it because I am now free from political spin that influences popular public opinion?

To be honest, I do not know, and until I find out I cannot with certainty distinguish right from wrong. Perhaps if I relocate to Fiji my view of the world will change again.

Monday, 24 March 2008

This is like the preface to a Sci-Fi movie

Before I get into my rhetoric about a recent article I read in the IHT I would like just to thank Diana from Rouse & Co. for saving my week from eminent disaster.

And now my rhetoric. This morning I was doing my usual scan of international news and the Bear Stearns saga and how JPM will be upping their offer to $10 per share to quell the cries of the Bear Stearns shareholders (obviously the American homeowners don't scream loud enough for the Fed to bail them out) and I saw an article at the bottom of the IHT page entitled "Star Spanish bull to be cloned in bid to preserve fighting genes". I couldn't resist so I clicked and found this:

So let me summarize this in laymen terms. They are cloning a bull that dies spectacularly. The article goes on to describe "The bull allows the matador to create a work of art, a beautiful dance," said Lázaro Carmona, a veedor, or inspector, who visits ranches on the matador's behalf and helps select animals for the fight. "It's a joint performance."A strong, aggressive bull that runs at the matador's cape allows him to shine, he said. "I think the bull should take 90 percent of the credit for a matador's triumph," Carmona said.

I don't know about you but I find that creepy. Not only does bullfighting itself seem stupid but then copying a losing bull is like Dante's hell meets groundhog day. No matter how many times you kill it. It comes back the next day with no memory of dying, fully healed as if yesterday never happened. Except the matador continues to age. Day by day this endless onslaught of identical bulls are killed and weathers down the matador until one fine day......the bull wins. The matador (aged 50) is gored by the seemingly indestructible horn. The matador vision starts to blur as the blood loss causes his body to shiver. The sound of the screaming fans fade to silence and the blue sky above fades to white as his eyes close for what he thinks will be the last time.

The screen goes black and there is silence for a moment. Then suddenly, the sound of the crowd jolts open the matador's eyes and there he is standing upright in the middle of the arena again. Cape in one hand and sword in the other. Disoriented for a second, he realizes that he is facing the bull again. But this time his strength and his youth has returned. He too has been cloned to preserve the spectacular fight between man and beast.

The next scene is 3 men in thick spectacles and lab coats sitting in a room with no windows counting the money from the ticket sales of this gladiator style event......

Like I said creepy.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

President Bush Fire? Congratulation on your success.

On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War 2.0 I feel compelled to comment on the current state of affairs regarding Iraq.

First of all I'd like to commend the Bush strategy's "War on Terror". The more I think about it the more it makes perfect sense. Terrorism is like a bushfire that has raged out of control. Bushfires are good things. They rejuvenate the foliage and make way for seeds to grow into the trees of the future. It's Mother Nature's way of saying "We're Gonna Have a Revolution...". So lets consider this forest that is burning the the Middle East.

But when the fire catches a gust of wind and spreads to your million dollar home in the Hollywood Hills, something must be done. You can't douse a bushfire. The only way to stop it is to back burn. To, in essence, fight fire with fire!

And there is the logic genius in the "Fight Fire with Fire" attitude of the Bush administration. When you back burn to control a fire that is out of control you burn parts of the bush (no pun intended) in a controlled manner so that the uncontrolled fire has nothing left to burn and burns out. (in case you haven't worked out the metaphor here yet FIRE = TERROR) By creating manageable terror in the US over the last 8 years, it have taken the edge off anything Osama and his troop of roving bombers can throw at the US Empire. Think about it. If you are scared of the CHANCE that your next door neighbor is a terrorist, then real terrorist might not bother to scare someone who is already scared and if you're already scared chances are that you have a 12 gage next to your front door so why risk serious injury.

Brilliant! huh?

But why stop there. Osama is probably in Afganistan or Pakistan. So lets carpet bomb Bagdad! Scare the f@#k out of the Iraqi's. Genius! Back burn even before the fire get close to the Hollywood Hills. In fact let's back burn before there's actually a bush fire.

Even Saddam tried it. Lets pretend to have weapons of Mass Destruction (by his own admission on death row) to scare the US. Although his attempt didn't work exactly as planned.

Chinese Toys, Mexican Immigrants, Dangers of Pesticides, Cancer from cigarettes, Speed Limits. All strategic ploys by the Bush Administration to create controlled terror in the hearts and minds of US citizens to make them immune if not completely prepared for any potential evils that lurk in the shadows of international diplomacy.

At the end of your second successful term as leader of the free world, I applaud your foresight. If only the incumbent will have the same wisdom as you to keep this back burning going to protect the free from the tyranny of real terror.

PS. I know, lets characterize the Chinese as a suppressive regime. It will be like the cold war all over again. You bring the popcorn, I'll bring the beer!

The opinions expressed in this blog entry do not reflect that of or any other associated company or organization or even in fact the Author of this blog who, as the blog suggests, is sometimes ignorant and often misinformed.

Stay tuned for our next article "Am I the only person who thinks Obama sounds too much like Osama?"

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Religious Olympics

I guess Hollywood got it wrong. Monk's are not bulletproof. (I know, I know, it's in bad taste to write about something like this when people are being oppressed. It would be like writing "if you don't want to be run over by a tank...don't stand in front of them". Doctor, Doctor my arm hurts when I raise it. What can I do? Don't raise it!)

So first Myanmar, now Tibet. It seems that Buddhists have caught the "putting themselves in harms way" bug. Honestly though I can't blame them. Buddhists for centuries have been the Steve Wozniak of religions. The Hindu culture was thought to be linked to Buddhist origins, There is speculation that Jesus even spent time with Buddhists during his biblically absent years. (Turning water to wine -----Absent----- trashing the synagogue). But where is Buddhism today?

Gold - Christianity
Silver - Islam
Bronze - Hindu

And the wooden spoon goes to....

The pope has his own piece of land in Rome. Gets to go through the diplomatic lane at the airport, and he's a religious leader. Why can't the Dalai Llama get a passport with his own logo on it?

The fact of the matter is, in this day and age, there is no separation of powers. This seems to be the trend. Gone are the days when God, Queen & State were separate. Henry the VIII would be rolling in his grave now. You can't teach religion in US schools but the US banknote has "In God We Trust" written on it. (Really it should be "In <<insert your deity here>> We Trust"). Anglican is just another way of saying "Church of England". Islamic moral ethics are law on Islamic states in Saudi, Iran, Afghanistan and even Malaysia. So why not a Buddhist Independent State. Why should Buddhism be the only non-hypocritical religion?

I am sure that if this violence keeps up, the number of Buddhists around the world will increase to the point where Hindu's will be knocked out of third place in the Religious triathlon. (Individual events being self mutilation, waging war and oppressing sexuality.) Because we all know what all religion is about. REAL ESTATE.

And let me say to all the Hindu's out there today... You only have Gandhi to blame. (Yah yah, I know Gandhi is not strictly Hindu but I am writing to the ignorant. Gimme some poetic license here.)

P.S. Whoops forgot the Jews. But that's an article for another day. "God and Network-centric warfare"

SUB PRIME is code for Stu-Pid

Bear with me but my high school economics is a bit rusty.

The Sub Prime Crisis (SPC)... I'm going to digress here and marvel at wonders of the English Language. My wife has asked me a couple of times what the Sub Prime "thing" is and I don't blame her. The name "Sub Prime" suggests something financially technical but in essence it is a
way to describe people with shit credit. It just made it easier to refer to them in business. Can you imagine people in the mortgage industry saying "Hey Bob, well done on last months results. How many of those contracts were WORTH SHIT?"

The way I understand it (and I welcome your corrections...of course no one reads this so I will forever remain oblivious) The SPC and subsequent downfall of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and other investment banks is the result of relaxing lending standards to boost the economy.
Mortgage brokers who in essence are Sales people working on a commission. They don't actually care if the person who is borrowing the money has the capacity to pay because they get paid at the commencement of the mortgage. The payoff for having shit credit, is the mortgage has
a higher interest rate attached to it. ....

Ok, here's where you lose me. If you are lending to someone with bad credit. Why would you create a product that makes it hard for them pay it back?? Isn't that just inviting them to default on their loan? But anyway, it was what it was and nobody thought it was a BAD idea to lend to people without the capacity to pay back and the brokers went on a free for all.

Of course on the other side of the coin, If you have bad credit and someone offers you a loan, regardless of the interest rate you're gonna take it. Why? because your bad credit rating exists BECAUSE you have a history of borrowing money that you don't have the capacity to pay back!

ANYWAY, The mortgage originators therefore throw all this money at the folk who won't pay it back and of course the money ran out. So they take all these worthless high interest sub prime contracts, securitize them and sell them to the investment banks. High risk, High return right. So
the mortgage originator offloads the risk to the investment banks who in turn give them more cash to lend out. (Simplistic I know but I am a simple soul)

So this goes on for a couple of years, China becomes a threat, taking away heartland American manufacturing jobs. Mortgages are defaulted, the Mortgage Backed Securities turn to shit. And Bear Stearns gets bought out by JPMorgan. - Then we discover that throughout all this time of
loose lending the US was actually in a Recession. Thats like buying a vacant block of land, planning to build your own house and realising you have an advanced case of cancer.

Hmmm. So you artificially stimulated spending and you still went into recession you might think to leave the economy alone right? Let it heal a bit. Find that mythical equalibrium. I also realise that there are may other factors in play here, and my summary could probably be better illustrated in cartoon form but I ask the question now. What is lowering interest rates going to do?

Mr. Moore my High School Economics teacher taught me to memorise the effect certain monetary policy initiatives would have on the economy and if I recall correctly, lowering interest rates will reduce savings, increase lending, increase spending, boost the economy, lower the value
of the dollar and pretty much make the US economy think that it is an end of season sale..... Sounds like a happy ending except that relaxing lending criteria was also a policy to stimulate spending too, and look where that landed them.

This is where my economic understanding gets a bit blurry. If by artificially stimulating spending through relaxed lending criteria nobody foresaw that the MBS would default, what will the unforeseen ramifications of artificially lowering interest rates in a time when the greenback is experiencing already all time lows. Back in the 90's Australia in the PM Paul Keating years experienced the "Recession they had to had" when they relaxed controls of things like exchange rate to make the Australian economy more lean and reactive. Recent actions by the Fed & US Treasury seem in the opposite spirit. Years of economic over-management is going to cause the machine to break eventually and the recession that the US is now will pale in comparison to the
Depression that they will have in the future.

The only light at the end of tunnel though is that over the past 7 or so years, the Government has dumped billions into the war, creating employment & stimulating certain sectors of the economy. If that ends, then the US is going to really be SUB PRIME.

Good Luck Y'all, I'm off to buy some Gold.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The King's Big Stick

Governor Spitzer. What were you thinking? Why would you ask a hooker to travel from New York when Washington is full of Whores. But I don't want to talk about him. I want to talk about evolution.

In my mind a pimp is a Snoop Dog looking guy in a purple suit, a wide brimmed "Starsky & Hutchesque" furry hat and a 400lb bald side-kick OR a Heidi Fleiss/ Joan Collins style madam. Looking at the screen grabs for the Emperor Club VIP site, this looks like a really we designed site, unlike the Google Ad links I get on the margin of my Plaxo page for Shanghai massage parlors.

So I am interested in seeing if some enterprising investigative journalist is going to report who is behind this business. A business that provides side income to struggling students, out of work models and busy New York business women who just don't have the time to date. Will it be a college professor at Harvard? Will it be a pimply faced computer geek, running the site from the basement of his mothers suburban bungalow in Queens? Or will it be an advertising exec misappropriating the resources of his company to make some money from all the girls he meets at product launches and fashion shows?

My question is as we enter a new post-Bush era, who is the pimp in our society?

<<BREAKING NEWS>>;_ylt=AoJ_i.Vs6NlX3mFrQ6d2nGBH2ocA

My question is answered. Thank you Adam Goldman of Associated Press.

"Mark Brener, 62, and Cecil "Katie" Suwal, 23, are accused of running the agency.

Brener, an Israeli native with an expertise in financial consulting, recruited the prostitutes and marketed the club, and Suwal, who graduated from the prestigious Blair Academy in New Jersey, handled its day-to-day operations, prosecutors said."

A Jewish financial consultant and a co-ed boarding school graduate. This is what pimps have become? Internet marketing, recruitment, administrative management? This almost sounds like...nay... it does sound like a headhunting company. Has Fuzzy Bear thrown in his street
corner for an MBA, a downtown office and Powerpoint presentations?

I read also that the sum of money paid by Spitzer was for partially for services rendered as well as for future services. Are we talking pre-paid cards? Is there opportunity for RFID technology providers in the sex trade. Will we be able to use our Octopus Card for my train fare, a sandwich and a blowjob? The future of the worlds oldest profession looks bright.

If we extrapolate further... can I accumulate miles or rewards points?, and if so did Gov. Spitzer use those points to pay for the extra room at the Mayfair. (What a value proposition, the more I cheat on my wife, the easier it is for me to afford it.)

You know folks. All this stinks of legitimate business. There was no talk of drugs or violence. It was an out of work musician...(I was almost on the money there) and a married man who happened to hold public office. The Emperor Club simply put them together. Both client and
worker are screened. The call girls travel internationally as well as interstate. This simply looks like a case of supply meeting demand.

I know I know, think of the family/ think of the children (who incidentally is 4 years younger than the call girl) but at the end of the day, you give a man enough money and power, he's going to cheat anyway. Isn't it better that the woman is paid in cash rather than affection?... the only real victim of this crime are the guys that can't afford $5,500 per hour of gratification.......

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Photo Storage Sites (Who do you use?)

I have about 40-50Gig worth of digital photos that I have on a portable HDD at home. These are photos of my son and daughter mostly and I am terrified that a power surge will blow up the last decade of memories for me. Short of burning this all onto DVD or printing them I have been seaching cyberspace online photo sites. I know that nothing is safer than managing my own backup but for convenience sake it would be nice to have something online, so that if ever I decide to take a long trip down memory lane or I decide that my work is good enough to show off then my images can accessed from any computer. And of course if it's for free then all the better.

Here are some of the sites that I have found and a little about them. This is the obvious one. Sign in with your Yahoo sign in and upload from a photo manager, the New Windows live photo manager or from a browser. The downside is that there is a monthly bandwidth limit of 100Mg and will only display the last 200 photos you uploaded. They do not specify a size limit but at 100Mg per month you can only upload 1.2Gig per year. Their Pro account at $24.95 per year gives you unlimited storage and bandwidth but Flickr is more of a 2.0 site than a serious photography storage service provider. I see the HP logo on their site and it is designed with an e-commerce feel to it. It is an online storefront for photo printing products but if you make one purchase per year (365 days) they will provide unlimited storage and bandwidth. Still it feels like keeping your vintage wine at the local pub. has a similar model to Snapfish but with a more vague commitment to storage. They do not specify a limit (not that I can find easily) but seem to avoid using the word unlimited. They say they will store your photos indefinately as long as your account remains active. To keep your account active you have to log in at least once every 30 days. is another online printing business but without restrictions. They will provide unlimited storage and bandwidth indefinitely. The thing that makes me worry is I only found Winkflash because I found a free unlimited photo hosting site called Winkflash either acquired or inherited Clubphoto's member photos when it went belly up. This makes me a little concerned about a business model that obviously didn't work for one company already. once again falls into the online printing business model again but by far they have the most confusing interface and have the same "one purchase every 12 months" policy as the others. they can also store video but for no longer than 30days and have an file size limit of 15Mb for images and 150Mb for video. Incidentally they are really slow in China.

The other problem I have about these sites that would like me to purchase is they are generally US based and being based in Shanghai for the moment, it doesn't really make sense to buy anything from them.

The next 2 sites are more Flickresque. is a google site that offers 1 Gig photo storage and unlimited bandwidth (I assume as they make no reference to bandwidth at all in their site). It has a nice clean interface and unlimited albums. This is the one I currently use, but in the last 6 months I have used a lot of my 1Gig already and it seems that the upload options lower the quality of the images because the default image size is 1600 pixels. You can rent more storage space for $20 per year for an additional 10Gig (that you can use in conjunction with your Gmail account) or $75/ year for 40Gig, $250/ year for 150Gig or $500/ year for 400Gig. Not too expensive but still, I'd like to upload full size images in case I want to print a poster sized image of my left nostril. similarly provides a similar low res storage solution that provides 1Gig for free. The problem with the free account is that images cannot be larger than 1Mb. Fortunately there is ample bandwidth of 25Gig. This is great for online low res images. The Pro account does support higher res images of up to 5Mb, unlimited bandwidth and supports video files but it does not unlimited storage at 5Gig. The good thing about this site is that it apparently links to myspace, facebook, blogger and some other social and blogging sites. Really this is a great solution for bloggers but probably less suitable for photographers.

The final two sites I will mention I found because my cousin and my friend (who are photography enthusiasts) use them to showcase their work. is a paid service that charges $39.95 per year for unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth. The interface is clean, attractive and designed to show off photos. There is a Power User account for $59.95 per year that allows you to customise your page further and a Professional account for $149.95 per year that lets you really create your own site, watermark your images and actually sell the images. is also designed for the photographer in mind, although it may be more expensive in the long run. For $23 a year you get 500Mb of storage space. For $60 a year you get 1500Mb and then you can purchase more space in 500Mb increments. So for those using the site as a alternative backup option this may not end up being such a good choice but I get the feeling the photographic community on Pbase is better than Smugmug.

So that's what I have found and I will continue to be indecisive about my options until my 1Gig is used up on Picasaweb. I've taken the time to write all this in the hopes that someone will read it and then comment about how they store & showcase their images online......

Happy Snapping