Chi Zhang

A Crazy World

April 12, 2020

I have been working from home into the 3rd week. I am trying to improve the performance of it, I read the tips and good practices of the remote work, I started using the Pomodoro technique and tracking my time again. I see some improvements after adopting them.

It looks like many countries are taking Singapore’s coronavirus control as a good model. When I talk to people that Singapore is to put more restriction in the country soon as the things are a bit out of control, for example, all the people need to work from home, all the shops and services need to close except only the essential services(e.g. supermarket, pharmacy, restaurant), they are a bit surprised as they thought Singapore is doing great and everything is under control.

Singapore is doing great, but in the meantime, the virus is hitting the country intensively. The government is strong, the leaders are good, the technology is utilized a lot in the city, cameras are everywhere and everything is monitored, a clean and a fine city, very low crimes. It has a natural advantage that it is a city-country, but also it relies on the resources from the outside, the imports and supplies a lot. When the Malaysia lock down the country and many patients from neighbor countries rush here for better treatment, and the imported cases emerge quickly, the increasing number jumped from 10 cases per day to 70 cases per day just in 2 weeks, the country is put more restriction in the country to control the situation and slow down the infections.

Working From Home

As almost all time quarantined at home, make sure that we have good productivity working from home is critical now, I plan to do a couple of practices to improve my working from home productivity.

  • Wear the clothes you wear in the office when working at home - During the VC meetings I have to do it, but I find it also works when no meetings, it makes you feel more like being in the office. I already practice this every day, it does help.
  • Bring the outdoors inside - Play some video or sound from the outdoors, like the crowded cafe or the subway station, it will help pretend you are working in the outdoor and surrounded by the people. Tried a bit it works good, and I found this one YouTube channel is good.
  • Create rituals you look forward to - Before starting the work or after the work ends, add a step and make it your habit, for example, do some workout, take a shower, reading, etc. I am going to try reading, every morning, before starting the morning meeting, I am trying a quick 10mins walk outside before working.
  • Make your feet warm - It works for me. When I put on double socks on my feet, I don’t have cold feet which make me feel bad anymore during the meetings.

I find many people/companies share their tips, like this, they are quite useful.


  • Mailbrew - After using this email digest tool, I start my day from it, every morning, an email “Morning Brew” waiting for me to read. You can set up your favourite news sources together in one email, like Twitter, Reddit and RSS feed, control the format like how many posts want to see, and generate your own email digest sent to you regularly or on a specific time.
  • Draft - I heard about this app a long time ago but never really use it. I use Bear notes a lot to take daily notes, as I am looking for another one for starting my journals, the Draft app came into my sight again. It has good Markdown preview, and very flexible on customizing the font, the paragraph and the view, many actions to support integrations with other apps.
  • RescueTime - Tracking my time in details. I have tried different ones for this purpose, RescueTime so far is the best one.


Double strike of the Trade War plus the COVID-19. Companies are looking for changing the strategy from relying on a single manufacture location like China to the geographic spread of facilities. Apple will not take some quick action1 on this because of the virus situation but they are in that direction. The interesting locations would be Taiwan, India and Vietnam.

Dark Sky acquired by Apple. Dark Sky is a popular weather information service, they provide API for other apps/services to use. They have their apps, both on Android and iOS, their Android app will be removed after this acquisition.

The impact on ads market The online usage spike as people swarm to the internet, while the ads spending decline steeply. There is a 30% ~ 40% drop expected in the ads overall. In the long term, the big players will benefit from this2.

The winners under the outbreaks Travel and Aviation industry are doomed and companies are dying, however, there are still some companies are oppositely getting benefits, for example, the online retail industry(Amazon, JD in China), online pharmacies and online educations, online communication tools, online streaming services(Netflix), basically the trend is the requirements from physical offline usage transit to online usage, and also weak requirement suddenly becomes a strong requirement. I heard that Cisco in China get big hit by the virus and even plan to layoff employees, the quarantine makes all the people stay and work from home, it leads to the spike of sales on the VPN products in China, they turned much better thanks to this. Five startups are seeing a COVID-19 bounce3, we might get a feeling of what kind of companies are good under the current situation.

Written by Chi Zhang who lives and works in Singapore. Follow me

© 2020, Chi Zhang