The real reason for blogs

I came across a series of photos at Notes From A Desi Geek that show the amusing-yet-interesting cultural oddities in India. One thought led to another and I arrived at the conclusion that the blog is the perfect vehicle to show all my international oddities discovered on my own travels. I think I am developing a hobby in this respect, as this follows on from a previous post about the best onions in China. Still, photos for amusement sake are fine by me (and I so wish I had a photo of the Chinese shampoo ‘Ugly Girl’).

Anyway, the first picture is of the control panel on my Chinese microwave. It is innocuous enough until you look closely and discover that an ordinary microwave can possess the power to cause universal discord.

Chaos Button

Sadly the actual meaning is ‘defrost’, but way to go on that translation! A nice touch is the coupling with ‘white fungus’ – you can either cause havoc, or zap mushrooms (white ones anyway).

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Proliferation of plugins

Yet more WordPress activity. This time I’ve organised my collection of hacks and made a seperate plugin page, available from the navigation menu. Now I can contemplate the calm and zen-like organisation of the rest of my life.

The plugins are:

  • Jump-To – Direct navigation from multi-page posts
  • PageView – Embed an webpage inside a post
  • HeadSpace – Manipulate meta-data

Dissection of a WordPress theme: Part 1

Life as a WordPress blogger has become remarkably easy. If you can hold a mouse and follow instructions then you’re most of the way towards carving out your own niche on the internet. A fresh installation gives you a powerful and attractive system with minimal effort, and with a little luck you can be blogging in under half an hour.

Despite the availability of hundreds of themes, and the general goodness of the default Kubrick theme, sometimes you just want to give your blog that personal touch, and the only way to do this is by going under the hood and having a look around.

A month in to running a WordPress-based website and I find myself doing the very same thing. None of the themes were exactly what I was looking for, and after investigating the internals of WordPress I realised it was a lot more involved than it initially appeared. I could certainly imagine a beginner being overwhelmed by the mass of acronyms and incongruent technologies.

With this in mind I decided to write a guide that would help not only myself, but might also help others who have been put off trying to experiment with WordPress. I make no claims of being a style guru and will rely on common sense and basic design principles.

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The Old Order

While I appreciate the cultural significance1 of a band such as New Order, I was never much of a fan. Their music often sounded like it was made on a cheap Casio keyboard, or was the recorded drone from a tinnitus patient. There was never any incentive to investigate further, and this was reinforced by many years of suffering World In Motion – some say the high-point of English footballing music, but as I do not care for football then it just compounded my distaste for the whole subject.

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Apple iPod Shuffle

So what can be said about Apple’s latest product that hasn’t already been said in a thousand other reviews, and hasn’t been dissected in essays and dissertations across the world? Love them or hate them, Apple have managed to create a modern religion by fusing technology with style, and setting a price point high enough that it forces people to part with their money. People will, it seems, pay almost anything for something when it looks good, and when their friends have one.

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Air Rage

On the flight back I experienced an occurrence of what is now known as ‘air rage’, although I prefer the term ‘stupid drunk person’. A man, one seat over from me, began the 11 hour flight by drinking from a bottle of Whiskey he had secreted in the front pouch. While this was initially met with the thought ‘are you kidding me?’ it did become more worrying when he’d drunk nearly half of a 1.5L bottle within a few hours.

This incident made me think about what would happen if he turned violent. My first thought was that either the flight staff, or some passengers, would restrain him. However, the man was big, and obviously a bodybuilder, so I couldn’t imagine that happening without problems.

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StatTraq admin link

Another technical posting…

I was looking for a way to obtain site statistics, and discovered the WordPress plugin StatTraq. It looked perfect in the screenshots, but unfortunately doesn’t work with WordPress 1.5. However, a nice hack is available at AdsWorth which does the trick.

By default, the plugin does not create any link to itself from the administration screen. A suggestion was made on the StatTraq forum, but again this doesn’t work for WordPress 1.5. It is very easy to adapt it though, and I’ve included the change here in case it’s useful to anyone.

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Best onions

Freshly returned from Hong Kong, I remembered this photo I took in Zhaoqing, in Guangdong province, Southern China. As far as I can tell, this may be the best example of Chinglish discovered. I should add that I did not go on an onion-smelling tour (the bus actually stopped at a mushroom farm, but that’s another issue), and the area was not known for its prize onions.

Best Onions

I managed to loose my mp3 player on arrival to HK, which caused much distress, but fortunately it was found by Lufthansa when I returned to the airport. Probably as a product of this, and the fact that gadgets are quite a bit cheaper over there, I picked up an iPod shuffle. A review may ensue.

Other than that I turned 30 and had a super time.

We’re off to see the wizard

So today I am flying to Hong Kong, via the less exotic Frankfurt. I’ve already checked-in online, which is pretty amazing really. According to the web blurb I can collect my pass 30 minutes before take-off but… I don’t think I’ll risk it just yet, and will arrive my dutiful 2 hours in advance. Despite being a computer nut, I’m still sceptical of these things actually working in the real world.

And why is it that no matter how many times I select the vegetarian option I still get ‘no meal preference’. Gah!

Thanks for that, Jackie!