Bo Yang Passed Away

He died on April 29, 2008 at the age of eighty nine (1920-2008).

His books I once read:

  • The Ugly Chinaman
    A relentless incision of the national character of the Chinese people.
  • The Schematic History of Chinese People (or An Outline of Chinese History)
    The title is my translation. It is the best Chinese history book I ever read. This book is not just a history of China, but a panoramic presentation of the fate and the destiny of Chinese people. Your understanding of Chinese people will be greatly deepened after reading it.
  • Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government or Zi Zhi Tong Jian in Chinese Pinyin.
    Bo Yang translated this classic Chinese history chronicle by Sima Guang into modern Chinese. In the preface, Bo Yang said it was impossible to understand China without reading this book on Chinese history.

Read more of his works

If you read Chinese and are interested to read his book, here is an ed2k link to a complete collection of his books from Emule.

A selective biographical chronicle

I translated a chronicle of Bo Yang, which you can find on this blog.


Offline Blog Editor for WordPress

Writing directly on the WordPress interface can be very time consuming. I realized how much time I wasted in the process of formatting and publishing a blog entry.

The solution, it seems to me, is to write blog locally and publish it with a click of a button. I asked this question on WordPress forum and got a pointer to a few programs:

Though I am wary of the Microsoft programs in general, Word 2007 is currently the only editor at hand to do this job. Right now I’m writing this post under Word 2007 and I will see how it works. So far I have noticed it lacks the following features:

  • No tagging capabilities
  • Probably insecure authentication handshake
  • No “read more…”
  • Can’t schedule a time for a post to be published

I haven’t tinkered with image insertions in Word 2007, but I’ve noticed how much faster to publish a post using a local blog editor!

I will try other local blog editors in the future, preferably a free editor with advanced blog editing features. Stay tuned.

Update: WordPress provides a complete list of “weblog clients”. Go there and pick one for your own needs. Right now Zoundry Raven is my choice.


A Breif Review of Qumana — the Heinous Blog Editor

Warning: Do not use Qumana (version 3.0.1) to edit the old posts which has html code <!–more–> in it.

Because Qumana can only see the content before <!–more–> markup in your post, and the rest of the content will be permanently lost if you edit your old posts and save them under Qumana. I have lost a great proportion of my Ron Jeremy post because Qumana only showed part of my post, leaving me the impression that the post was incomplete. After I pressed Update Post, I only had one sentence of my post left.

Due to this serious design flaw, I will not use Qumana and do not recommend it to anyone who will edit their old posts.


  • multi-platfrom since it is base on Java
  • can insert tags in posts
  • decent image insertion functions


  • destroys your old posts which have html code <!–more–> in it
  • not responsive and resource hogging because it is Java-based
  • marks posts with UTC time, totally unaware of time zones

This is my first post under Qumana and it will be the last one under this post-destroyer.

Side thoughts: Stay away from Java-based programs. I don’t need the portability of Java programs and I don’t want to sacrifice performance for portability.


Upload images in WordPress 2.5.1

When I attempted to upload an image to WordPress 2.5.1, I was prompted to input my login and password in the image uploader. After feeding the information to it, it just gave me an error and no image was uploaded at all.

I used the No-Flash-Uploader plugin and the issue is gone. The moral? The newest version isn’t necessarily the best version!

Update: The plugin appears to be the simple solution to the problem of failing to upload pictures in version 2.5.1. But I recommend you to upgrade your WordPress to a newer version to avoid using an extra plugin to upload images. Right now I am using version 2.6.1 and the default picture uploading function works well.


Simplified Chinese Translation of Dkret3

Here is the Simplified Chinese (zh_CN) translation of drket3 version 1.9.

I haven’t thoroughly tested it on my blog, but it should be usable generally. After I test it or get some feedbacks from other users, I will update my translation.

Download: dkret-zh_CN Version 1.9

Update: I keep this post for its reminiscent value because dkret3 has been upgraded to Version 4+ as of writing this upgrade. Although I use other themes, I still love this theme and planning to use it someday.


Three Questions to Ask When Deciding a Career Change

Ask these three questions and the decision whether to pursue a new career immediately becomes clear:

  • What do I want out of my life?
  • What can I do to get what I want?
  • Is what I am doing now leading toward the goal of my life?

China Featured

The Kang Bed in Northern Chinese Villages

1. What is it?

The Kang bed is a sleeping platform widely seen in the villages of Northern China. It is a rectangular construction built on the ground of the room, and is usually located by a window. As its other name—Fire Kang—suggests, it is mainly a heated bed, which is indispensable in the rural areas of China during winter.

2. What is it like?

Bricks or cheap fired clay are used to build the Kang. While the size varies, it provides enough sleeping space for a few people. The Kang generally consists of three parts: a stove for fuel, the bed itself, and a chimney. The heat from the stove is directed through flues under the bed and the smoke is released through the chimney. To capture as much heat as possible, the formation of the flues is very important. The flues can resemble a maze which allows for the maximum exposure of heat to the surface of the bed. Still, the area close to the stove is usually warmer, and becomes a reserved spot for elders.

3. Fuel sources

Wood, grass, coal, straw and corn cobs are common fuel sources for the Kang. Since bricks and fired clay take longer to heat up and cool down, fuel is burned in the stove a couple of hours before going to bed. When the Kang gets warm enough, it can take a whole night to cool down, providing enough warmth in the freezing winter.

4. Coverings

The surface of the Kang bed is fired clay and big straw matting is placed over it to lessen the heat and avoid the dirt. A thick quilt is the second layer of covering, followed by a cotton-padded blanket and a bed sheet.

The Kang table, a short-legged small table, is sometimes placed on the Kang bed. The table comes in handy for placing cups or food on it. Sometimes people eat their meals on the Kang table.

5. Other functions

The Kang bed is multifunctional. It can serve as a bed, floor, table and chair. Its stove can be used for cooking and boiling water for drinking tea. In many rural families, the Kang bed is the only source of heat and this makes it a great place for families to come together and talk, tell stories, or sing during the cold winter nights. It is quite common for parents to sleep on the same Kang bed with their children.

In some places, mourning services and marriage ceremonies are carried out on the Kang bed as well.


The Most Unnecessary Government News Release

My Translation of a press release on Xinhua website:

A Press Release by the News Office of the District Government of Jiangjin, Chongqing Municipality

In the past few days, a hearsay that “a woman cadre in the government was raped by vagrants” has been widely circulated in Jiangjin area and on some web sites. After investigation, it is confirmed that this story is completely of gossipy and rumor-mongering nature.

The News Office of the District Government of Jiangjin, Chongqing Municipality

April 11, 2008

Below is the original text

The Screenshot of the Government Website

NYT: Reading and Comments about the Olympic Torch Relay in Paris

I read and commented on an article by the New York Times, for the language learning purposes.

And in China, a different sort of backlash has been taking shape — against the companies from countries that seem to be putting pressure on China. French companies like Carrefour are a particular target because of the mayhem during the Paris leg of the torch relay and because the French president has said he may skip the opening ceremony in Beijing over China’s human rights record.

Backlash: a strong and adverse reaction by a large number of people. Mayhem: disorder, chaos

“I think boycotting Carrefour is a peaceful and polite way to express our anger, our Chinese feelings got deeply hurt by France,” said Li Meng, a 25-year-old mechanic who is selling T-shirts in support of the boycott movement in the city of Yantai, in eastern China. “France humiliated China during the torch relay and keeps making trouble for the Olympics.”

Nay. Don’t mix the country with the people. It is better put in this way: “Some French” humiliated China. CCTV reported that Chinese journalists hadn’t received the treatment they expected in Paris. A journalist in a television interview said that the French Authority didn’t give the the Chinese journalists sufficient leeway and good camera positions to cover the torch relay. I am not sure what happened. Maybe those journalists were used to the preferential treatments at home, and they didn’t adjust their mentality well in abroad?

Some photos available on the Internet showed that the French police force had no mercy towards the trouble-makers on the scene and arrested lots of them.

American brands like McDonald’s and KFC have also been named as targets of a boycott because some American politicians seem to be supporting the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing blames for instigating violence in Tibet to disrupt plans for the Olympics.

It is a false alarm. I haven’t heard anything about boycotting these two fast food companies at the moment. What happened in Tibet was violent riots. There is no doubt about it. Many western media, while reports the number of deaths in the violence, failed to admit the rioters were guilty of killing innocent people. This made me realize how prejudiced the western media was in the matter.

No one knows whether there is widespread support for the boycotts, but the opposition comes at a time when many of the world’s biggest brands — including Coke — are expanding aggressively in China and planning huge sales and marketing campaigns to coincide with the Olympics.

No boycott at all for American companies as far as I know of this time. When the Chinese embassy was bombed in Yugoslavia, many Chinese boycotted these two companies, but I don’t think those people never went to McDonald’s afterwards.

Coca-Cola’s most recent quarterly results suggest the extent of its reliance on the Chinese market. During the first quarter, Coke’s unit case volume sales in China were up 20 percent in the quarter, one of the highest figures from any country. Over all, the company’s net income rose 19 percent in the quarter, to $1.5 billion, from $1.26 billion a year ago.

This sentence and the one above really explains it all. Coke is profiting handsomely in the Chinese market and will continue to do so, and only a fool will ruin this good business. Unit case volume sales: what is it? Anyone knows?

Neither Coca-Cola nor any of the other Olympic sponsors has flinched in its public support for the games, but the groups that are protesting China’s policies in Tibet and Darfur are vowing to step up their pressure. This could lead to showdowns, or even to a possible whipsaw for the companies if Chinese youths start protesting en masse in the other direction.

Flinch (its support): make a quick, nervous movement as an instinctive reaction to fear or pain. Whipsaw: a saw with a narrow blade and a handle at both ends, used typically by two people.

Ms. Tethong added, “You have influence, and you know you have influence. Please don’t hide behind a spin.”

Spin: when an idea or situation is expressed or described in a clever way that makes it seem better than it really is, especially in politics, e.g “They have tried to put a positive spin on the situation.” Source URL


How to find the perfect theme for your blog

Finding a theme is as important as choosing a name for your site. Once you pick a design or presentation for your site, it becomes your identity and you generally don’t change it. Every blogger wants to have a perfect theme for his blog. Here is how I located my perfect theme.

  • Find a good theme site. Sites that have a large pool of categorized themes will save you a lot of time. The official theme site does a good job in this respect.
  • Know your personal preferences. Limit the pool of themes by deciding the color scheme, number of columns, and sidebar positions for your blog. Some features like widget and plugin support should also be considered. I like themes with clear and decent design, and avoid the themes that obscure the contents. Use filters on the theme site to narrow download your selections.
  • Test the themes on your blog. You can preview and test run the themes, but the first impression is often deceptive. You need to test them one by one on your blog. Here is the steps I took to quicken the process:
    • Let your browser automatically download the theme files when you click on a download link.
    • Use Winrar to extract all the theme files in a batch.
    • Use a FTP client to upload the theme folder to your site. C-Panel is just too weak for mass uploading.

    Some themes look great, but they may not have the features you want. For example, some themes do not support widgets and this is a big minus.

  • Meet the designer. After picking out your favorite themes, visit the site of the designers and see how the theme is maintained. Some designers may no longer maintain the theme, and some don’t bother to answer the questions.

After testing about 50 themes one by one on my blog, I finally picked dkret

and I must say it is just perfect for me. It has the right font size, good widgets and plugin support, and the general design is just elegant! There are other themes that had my attention in my quest for perfect themes: Complicated (by a French, a bit out-dated), CypherFS Bliss, Clasikue, Estila, Soft White, Conestogastreet and fHeaavn.