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Archive for June, 2007

As you may have noticed, my Chinese blog has become completely wrecked over the last couple of weeks. It happened when I restored an SQL backup (made through phpmyadmin). 道聽塗說 became é “è ½å¡—èªª, and all the other Chinese characters (i.e. the whole blog) became similarly corrupted. I’ve tried deleting the whole database and creating a new one. It’s clear that the problem is related to SQL character set encodings, and so I’ve tried importing my .sql backup as a variety of character sets, including Latin-1 and UTF8, but to no avail.

However, I don’t think my blog is irretrievably lost. The Chinese in my .sql backup is readable in UTF8! If you know anything about SQL and have the inclination to help, I’ll get you a copy of it.

The file has to be viewed in UTF8 for the Chinese to display properly and it’s filled with DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1 commands. That’s probably what’s causing the problem, but I’m just not familiar enough with SQL to know how to repair it.

I don’t even know what to make of this. Some guy who sells cell phones for a living showed up on Britain’s got Talent, saying he wants to be an opera singer. The audition didn’t go at all like I thought it would:

Update: Paul Potts has won the semi-final!

For the past week and a half, Wayne has been staying at my place. He just moved into the city from rural Yilan, and needed someplace to crash. What’s interesting to me, is that I even met him at all.

When I first created this site, my main inspiration was my favorite blog- A Better Tomorrow. Written by a young American who had studied abroad in Beijing, and then gone on to travel all over China, it represented the most credible, most human account I’d ever seen of someone of a similar background who had learned Chinese well. Since that had been my original goal in coming to Taiwan, I read each page of A Better Tomorrow with anticipation. The tales of being swindled at knife-point in the north-west, the updates about classes, the uncensored observations about people… all of it was fascinating to me.

After the Nanjing-Hopkins program that the author, the very same Wayne mentioned above, had been enrolled in was canceled due to SARS, I was shocked to learn that he was coming to Taiwan, the place I’d chosen to study Chinese! On, I kept reading, entertained with stories of “stuff you wouldn’t see in mainland China” (such as Buddhist televangelists), translations of Lian Zhan’s political ads comparing himself with Gandalf and his rivals with Sauron, and a hodge-podge of other things. Then one day, Wayne abandoned blogging in favor of photography.

After I started blogging myself and this site became one of the larger Taiwan blogs, I eventually met Wayne via mutual friends who blog, such as PR and Poagao. It’s kind of amazing to me that due to this site, I’ve been able to get to know someone who was once “that guy with the coolest China blog on the net”. Even more surprisingly, he’s restarted A Better Tomorrow… sort of.

Reading reddit this afternoon, I was surprised to see that the partially constructed Burj Dubai has already surpassed Taipei 101 as the tallest building in the world. While 101 was going up, I wasn’t really that impressed with the idea of making a gigantic building right in the middle of an earthquake zone, but now that it’s already been surpassed, I feel oddly unsettled. I’ll bet a lot of elementary school textbooks in Taiwan will have to be updated.

Architecture, Real Estate
(image credit: Hatim Saleh)

Once it’s finished, the Burj Dubai will be an absolute monstrosity- far, far larger than 101. The site for it is filled with the usual stuff:

The goal of Burj Dubai is not simply to be the world’s highest building. It’s to embody the world’s highest aspirations.

Burj Dubai looks different depending on where you’re standing. For those living nearby, it is a shining accomplishment- tangible proof of Dubai’s central role in a growing world. For those standing in other global capitals, it is a shining symbol – an icon of the new Middle East: prosperous, dynamic, and successful.

I hope Burj Dubai generates a decent return on investment, but it won’t be easy. 101 is still mostly empty, and the construction and maintenance costs were astronomical.

Here’s the mid-2007 update for my portfolio. All the quotes are from the close of June 1, 2007. As usual, I’m not posting my IRA investments.
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