Shrimp Fishing

Shrimp fishing is both a way to pass time and to prepare the next meal. There are indoor tanks in Taipei open 24 hours a day! The shrimp (more precisely, the king prawn) is brought in from the sea and thrown into a water tank where people can fish it. The waters are opaque so we can’t easily see where they are, as if we were fishing in the sea or river.

Now, given the choice of a good vegetarian meal versus meat or fish, I usually go for the first one, for many reasons. Shrimp, for example, is a bit controversial due to the high percentage of bycatch in industrial fishery. That aside, going fishing is definitely an interesting experience, even in hard ground. There’s more nature contact in the wild waters, but in turn the tanks provide a social atmosphere. We got the help of a few people and even doubled our prawn-count thanks to a friendly and generous couple that was fishing beside us.

Though we weren’t fishing directly at the natural hangout place of these prawns, it was still interesting to make that effort for a meal, an effort that goes beyond paying for something pre-hunted and sold at a supermarket or restaurant. It enables a connection that has been lost with the modern food industry, not only because we get to hunt but also because we have to kill our own food before eating. But I have to say, from a shrimp perspective, there are better ways to die than being shoved on a stick; suddenly, boiling water seems more attractive!

All in all, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening… and most importantly we survived it! Just today I came across this article in the news: “Escaping shrimp infects woman, causes death.” Yikes.

From Alien to Local

Good news: I don’t feel like an alien anymore.

Some places are now familiar, and working outside the house becomes easier as you discover more comfy coffee places. Cafés in Taiwan don’t necessarily open early, but I like to leave the house in the morning. The only good spot open before 10am is the Starbucks second-floor balcony by the river. By the afternoon, I’m usually at a nearby gourmet burger bar with an even better balcony.

So what were the highlights of my second week in Taipei?

Certainly making the first Taiwanese friends, improving my status of worst bowling player in the history of humanity, and trying many more food delicacies such as bubble tea and tempura-style squid! You can also find a local version of the Portuguese Pastel de Nata in some places, but it pales in comparison… The local ice-cream is a more intriguing choice: it’s actually not cream, but real ice bits with your choice of topping. You can see a cup of it among the pictures below where I mixed almost all toppings:

Thoughts on the new Webmaster Guidelines

Google has just updated its Help Center with renewed Webmaster Guidelines. In an effort to increase awareness, a few more details are now given to webmasters.  A very welcome addition is the official positioning on the Rich Snippet manipulation, which gives an indication that this issue is being more closely followed by Google.

Besides a few clear examples of hidden text and unnatural linking techniques, the focus of the new communication was also on the need of original, high quality content in place (or in complement) of content that is:

  • auto-generated,
  • scraped,
  • or affiliate-based.

One aspect that is still a bit unclear in these guidelines is the one related to making “reasonable efforts to ensure that advertisements do not affect search engine rankings.” Since the Page Layout algorithm improvement has come into effect earlier this year, you could expect some mention of the use of advertisement on-page. Hence the rules of common sense remain as the only recommendation:

  • to not fill (especially the upper part of) your webpages with ads,
  • and to keep considerable organic content above the fold.