Going to the Movies? How to use Your Smart Phone to Buy Discount Movie Tickets

My wife and I have lived in Beijing for several years. Over the years we’ve had many friends venture to the movies theaters to watch the latest hits while we stayed home and enjoyed the savings of 10RMB DVDs. Now certainly there is a worthwhile savings for those who are patient enough to wait for a quality copy to come out to the dwindling number of DVD stores, but we all know that going to the theater is just not the same experience. There’s just something about the big screen, especially in 3D that blows away the home viewing experience.

 

A few months ago a local friend gave us some free movie tickets. Another friend then told me about an app that would allow a view of all the current movies and where they were playing. I then chose a 3D movie I knew my life would love to see for her birthday, but you guessed it, the free tickets were for 2D movies. I was now finally motivated, I had to have those tickets, but the price! So I asked another friend and they told me about the app. I actually bought the tickets while standing in line at the theater and saved substantially at the counter.

 

So, if you have an interest in either watching Chinese or Western movies (in their original language) in Beijing, with the original voice soundtrack, and don’t mind or actually would enjoy practicing your Chinese reading by following the Chinese subtitles, then this app is a must. The app is free and is called Mtime, or in pinyin – shiguangwang (时光网). Below is the step-by-step process for downloading and using Mtime.

 

Note that these directions are specific to making your purchase using a Chinese bankcard.

 

1)   Download the app and open it.

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2)   The Home page is at center bottom and the current movie list is displayed with a customer rating from 1-10 (this post will not go into what the other bottom tabs are for).

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3)   Scroll through and pick the movie you’re interested in.

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4)   Push the orange purchase ticket (购票) tab.

 

5)   Here you will have a choice of dates at the top and below a scroll down for movie theaters showing your movie pick. I prefer to narrow the options by tapping the middle green circle tab (地区) so I can choose theaters in my district. If you’re in Chaoyang District you might want to choose the second tab for your nearby (附近) theaters.

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6)   Scroll down and select the tab for your choice of theaters.

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7)   You will see optional show times and prices for your movie tickets. Touch the tab for your preferred show time.

 

8)   Reserve your seat(s) by touching the seats you prefer. You can touch and order as many seats as you want from those that have not been reserved. The seats you reserve will appear orange while the rest are blue. The bottom will display the row (排) and seat numbers (座). When you’re finished you can press the orange next (下一步) button.

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9)   Enter the cell phone number and password you would like to use (there should be at least one numerical digit).

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10)  Now push the light blue register tab (免费注册) (In the future, once you’ve registered, you can tap the log in (登录) tab, that is, assuming it remembers your phone number).

 

 

11) Enter your phone number and your preferred password, then push the tab to obtain your verification number (获取验证吗) and you will receive a text with your verification code.

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12) Enter the code and push the (提交) tab.

 

 

13) You get a pop up window that asks you to confirm that you want to go forward. Touch the definitely (确定) tab if you definitely want the tickets.

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14) Now you have two choices, either registering your email address or cell phone. If you want to order tickets only with your phone, then touch the submit (提交) tab (this post only follows the track of using your cell phone).

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15) You will get a screen that confirms you order and the amount. If it all looks right tap next (下一步).

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16) Now you have a choice of payment options. The simplest is to use the Union Pay online option (使用银联在线付款) which is the second orange tab.

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17) Now enter your bankcard number and touch “next”. You will get a second window. Enter your pin# and your registered phone number and then touch the orange SMS tab. You should receive a text with the required SMS number. Enter the number and touch “Start Pay”.

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18) When processing is complete, Mtime should hold a record of your ticket purchase. You should also receive a text with the purchase details. You can show either of these at the ticket window to receive your tickets.

 

 

Of course I accept no responsibility for the accuracy of this post, or any losses you may incur as a result of following the above instructions.

 

There you have it. Enjoy your movie!

Learn Chinese Through Listening to Chinese Music

google-musicA small follow-up of our previous post on methods on how to learn Chinese by watching Chinese TV shows, another way that you can improve your Chinese is to listen to and learn Chinese songs- and don’t forget to put it all to practice by going to the KTV with your friends!

There are many online music streaming websites in China, but one of the popular ones that I enjoy to use is Google China’s 谷歌音乐 (Google Music), however I believe that this service may only work for users who are located within China, as I know that users from the US aren’t able to connect to this service.


We’ll walk through some of the basic features of the Google Music website.

google-music-menu

Looking first at the search bar, we can see several options of searching for the music that you’re looking for:

In the search bar, you can search for songs [搜索音乐] sou1suo3 yin1yue4, or you can search the website [搜索网页] sou1suo3 wang3ye4:

[输入歌手] shu1ru4 ge1shou3: Enter singer’s name

[专辑] zhuan1ji2: Enter album name

[歌曲名称或歌词] ge1qu3ming2cheng1 huo4 ge1ci2: Enter song name or lyrics


google-music-menu

You can also browse the website by looking through the menu:

[首页] shou3ye4: Home page

[排行榜] pai2hang2bang3: Browse by top charts

[音乐分类] yin1yue4 fen1lei4: Browse by song genre

[挑歌] tiao2ge1: Customized selection

[歌手库] ge1shou3ku4: Browse by artist name

[私房歌] si1fang2 ge1: Artist’s recommendations


google-music-homepage

On the homepage, the main view lets you browse by songs of different languages:

[语榜单] hua2yu3 bang4dan1: Chinese Songs

[欧美榜单] ou1mei3 bang4dan1: Europe and American Songs

[日韩榜单] ri4han2 bang4dan1: Japanese and Korean Songs


You can also see a listing of new songs, and popular songs of each language category, and on the very far right, a listing of the popular artists.

[新歌] xin1ge1: New songs

[热歌] re4ge1: Popular songs

[歌手] ge1shou3: Artists


Hopefully this gives you a good start on browsing Google China’s Music service, and will help you on your way in improving your Chinese language learning. [Google Music]

If you have any other popular Chinese music streaming websites that you like to use, be sure to share them with the rest of us in the comments!

Chinese Character Writing Competition – Top Finalists

This past week we had a chinese character writing competition among our students at school. Students were allowed to write either a short essay, or just characters from their new vocabulary list from their lessons. After our students had submitted their entries, teachers and fellow students were given the opportunity to vote for which student had the best written characters.

Congratulations to Ruth for taking first place!

Chinese Character Writing Competition

Chinese Character Writing Competition

Chinese Character Writing Competition

For those who are looking to improve their Chinese character writing, one of the most important aspects is understanding the stroke order of Chinese characters. If you’re unsure of how a character should be written, most online Chinese-English tools will have an animation of how particular characters should be written.

The three most popular among our students is Skritter – a web app that helps you learn Chinese characters fast, nciku and MDBG, which they all show the stroke order of characters.

1. Skritter is a web app that helps you learn Chinese characters, with a focus on writing and vocabulary, using handwriting recognition and advanced spaced repetition scheduling algorithms, Skritter is the most efficient way to learn those thousands of characters you’re going to need to tackle one of these languages.  They stated that you can learn a new character every 192 seconds and remember 95% of what you learn. I heard very positive feedback from our current students, you can sign up for an account to use this awesome tool for two weeks for free, no harm to find out. Click to get your two week for free.

Learn to write Chinese characters


2. On nciku, you can see the stroke order of a character by clicking on the button to the right.

NCIKU Character Stroke Order

3. For MDBG, the stroke order feature isn’t as obvious, but you can access it by clicking on the yellow brush image to the left of the character.

MDBG Character Stroke Order


If you have any other tips that have helped you learn and write Chinese characters, please do share them in the comments!

Zhongwen: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Chrome

Here’s another one for all you Chinese-learning Google Chrome users out there- this follows suit after our previous post about the Perapera-kun Chinese translator plugin for Firefox. Likewise, Zhongwen is a Google Chrome extension that brings up pop-up translations of Chinese characters and words from webpages that you are browsing.

 

The Zhongwen plugin translates both traditional and simplified Chinese characters into English, and uses the popular CEDICT Chinese English dictionary to do so. Most importantly, it also shows the Hanyu Pinyin along both the simplified and traditional characters.

Installing the Zhongwen plugin is quite a bit easier than the Perapera-kun plugin. All you need to do is navigate to the Zhongwen plugin page and click install; no separate dictionary file installation is required. Activating the plugin for use just requires you to click the plugin button in your browser, and mousing over Chinese characters will automatically call the translation popup to show.

Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension

 

Zhongwen Google Chrome Chinese Dictionary Popup Extension

 

To get started with the Zhongwen Extension:

1. Get the Google Chrome browser

2. Install the Zhongwen Extension

Happy surfing!

功夫梦 – The Karate Kid Streaming Online

For those who have yet to watch the latest 2010 remake of the 1984 “The Karate Kid”, you can stream it for free through QiYi.com (奇艺 qi2yi4); though I feel that the movie title should be changed to “The Kung Fu Kid”, since the Chinese title of the movie is 功夫梦  (gong1fu meng4 – aka: dreaming of Kung Fu), and the martial art in the movie is no longer the Japanese Karate, but the Chinese Kung Fu- but that’s just me =)


I hadn’t heard of QiYi before, so I did a bit of research, and I found out that the difference between qiyi.com and other mainland online streaming video services, such as tudou.com and youku.com, is that QiYi aims to gather all of its video content through legal means through several copyright intermediary sources. This also allows QiYi to obtain higher quality and resolution videos, which is pretty nice if you’re wanting to project a movie on a screen to watch with friends.

Here’s the direct link to The Karate Kid on QiYi.com
(http://www.qiyi.com/dianying/20100725/n26619.html)

By the way, if you are those who would like to learn Chinese by watching movies, I’d recommend a product launched recently, it’s great option for those who wanted to learn Chinese in a casual and fun way.

Perapera-kun: A Chinese Pop Up Translator for Firefox

I wanted to highlight an awesome translator pop-up tool for those who use the Firefox internet browser, called Perapera-kun. Perapera-kun is an extension add-on for Firefox that acts as a pop-up translator for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, into English or German. I haven’t tried out the Korean, Japanese, or German dictionaries, but the Chinese-to-English dictionary provides translated meanings of words, and also the pinyin pronunciation of the word. This is a great tool to have if you’re wanting to venture into the Chinese net-space to browse some local BBS forums or news sites.

 

 

To get started with Perapera-kun:

1. Get the Firefox browser

2. Install the Perapera-kun add-on

3. Install the Chinese-to-English dictionary file

(Note: The Perapera-kun website is hosted on a WordPress site, which is blocked by the Chinese firewall. Here is a direct link to the Chinese-to-English dictionary file)

Happy surfing!

Wubi and Pinyin – Which Chinese Character Input Method?

Chinese Input Method KeyboardWriting Chinese characters by hand is a confusing task of memorizing strokes and characters, but the use of computers has made it slightly easier- perhaps an unfortunate blessing since I’ve heard time and time again from local coworkers how their grasp of writing out Chinese characters has regressed because they only now need to recognize characters due to their constant use of Chinese input methods. There are many types of input methods available; some which are based on pronunciation, while others on character structure, character set or a combination of pronunciation and character structure. I’d like to talk about two of the popular Chinese character input method editors (IME): Pinyin and Wubi.

Pinyin (拼音输入法)

Pinyin Chinese Input MethodThe Pinyin IME (拼音输入法 pin1yin1 shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters by typing in the pinyin of a Chinese character, and the Pinyin IME then presents the user with a list of characters with that pinyin pronunciation. The advantage of the pinyin input method is that it’s very easy to learn for Mandarin speakers, since those who are familiar with pinyin will already be able to input Chinese characters with almost no training, which is not the case with other input methods. The Pinyin IME is very popular in mainland China, since children are already required to learn pinyin in school. However the Pinyin IME was created based on the pronunciation of standard-Mandarin so native Mandarin speakers who speak with accents will have a hard time distinguishing a number of similar sounding syllables, such as c and ch, s and sh, z and zh, n and ng, h or hu and f, or n and l. Moreover, Chinese dialect speakers who don’t know pinyin, or speak Mandarin, will not be able to use this input method at all.

Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法)

Wubi Chinese Input MethodThe Wubi IME, short for The Wubizixing (五笔字型输入法 wu3bi3zi4xing2shu1ru4fa3) allows users to input Chinese characters based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, making it possible to enter Chinese characters even when the user doesn’t know the pronunciation, or if the user speaks a dialect of Chinese. As the name suggets, the Wubi 五笔 (wu3bi3) IME divides the keyboard into five regions, which is assigned a certain type of character stroke, which allows for the user to efficiently write characters with at most 4 keystrokes. Another efficiency in using Wubi over phonetic character input methods, is that users don’t have to select characters from a list of similar homo-phonic choices, and so there’s a greater ability for a Wubi typist to ‘touch’ type without having to look at the computer screen. However, a major drawback to learning Wubi is that it has a high learning curve, and requires memorization and practice for a user to use it proficiently.

Which Input Method?

My recommendation for choosing between these two Chinese character input methods would be to consider your goal for typing Chinese. If you aim to be a professional Chinese typist, and need to input Chinese characters at a high rate, then it may be well worth your time to learn the Wubi IME system. However, if you are a standard-Mandarin speaker, and only need to input Chinese for casual computer use such as online chatting and surfing, then the Pinyin IME system will be more than sufficient for your needs.

Are you a well versed Chinese typist? Share your views on these two Chinese character input methods, or any other input method that you may be using already, in the comments below.

Learn Chinese Characters