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Me voilà au petit écran

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Eh ben si, j'ai passé à la télé de Radio-Canada, pour parler de mon blogue Comme les Chinois. En prime, Mitsou!

Comme les Chinois

Shameless self-promotion of one's piece of web estate. Yesterday, I put the final touches to the interview I did with Roland Soong, the blogger behind the extremely influential blog EastSouthWestNorth (to the point of steering the focus of news about China in some very important media outlets, I found - and regularly quoted in the blogosphere). We talked about the obvious: media, politics, etc, etc, but we also ventured in the more pleasant, like Roland special relation with the Lust, Caution movie (based on a Eileen Chang short story - his parents were personal friends, and their family keeps number of items belonging to Chang), and about running, a hobby that the blogger was practising when he lived in New York City.

CLC: Run races? You mean, just like (upon) hearing rumours of races...

No, no, no, it's like I had a team, and it's like a couple of hundred people. I write gossip about them.

CLC: About the track community?

No, it's just my club - I don't care about anyone else. It was just a little bit weird, it just had a very strong personality because it was a little bit what you call quirky. You know, it's like, a lot of stuff tends to be really really funny. For some reason, the stories that I want to focus are the really weird ones? So, I have one teammate, who was in the business of collecting lost gloves. You know, it's winter, and once in a while we lose gloves, don't know where it went.

CLC: Heh.

And it's lost somewhere, and she just collects them. Then, periodically, she would make an announcement, and say, I am bringing all my gloves down to the playground to the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway. I welcome anyone - you can come down and if it's one of your gloves, take it, even if it isn't, take it anyways. So, she got featured in the New York Times, who wrote this follow-up... Like, why are you doing that? (laughs)

And, this stuff about people running races? You have tons of people running races. These people are runners, and runner do run races. It's one thing for you to... They are mostly New York City residents, so you can run local races - on Thanksgiving, you go race somewhere.

Now, an excerpt of Roland's answers on his appreciation of Lust, Caution:

CLC: Did you like it? Did you see the rendition of it?

I actually saw it here (at Palace IFC - since we were at IFC's Pacific Coffee). Because they had the premiere, so I guess that they felt they had to give me a ticket. (laughs) Actually, when the publisher first told me that Ang Lee was going to make a movie, and I hadn't read the so-called short story carefully before, so, I went back and looked at it... So how are you going to make a movie out of this? (laughs)

So, Ang Lee has actually significantly expanded it, but in a way that, I take, he necessarily had to. Because otherwise, it was way too subtle in an audio-visual media. You can't really communicate... Because you can't really have the kinds of monologues that, you know, a first-person observation, that you could have in the novel. So, you can't express these, can't expect the actors or the actresses to communicate through facial expressions or hand gestures.

Um, so usually people would say, oh, there are those three bedroom scenes that were not in the book. That's somehow, I felt, they just had to be there, because it's not the identical bedroom scenes, because it clearly shows the shift in the so-called power relation, power, politics if you will, as it starts off with the man being dominant, and then by the end, it's really the woman taking charge? But without that, you couldn't really tell what exactly had really changed.

And, you know, it has been asked enough that, how do I feel about that - how do I think Eileen Chang would've thought - I felt sorry? (Editor's note: lost with the recording...) Or let's say even my father would have thought about it. I think the answer is, um, they wouldn't have minded, because both of them were actually script writer. My father was a film producer.

Read the entire interview on Comme les Chinois.

Roland Soong

In early May, I got the chance to meet EastSouthWestNorth's Roland Soong in Hong Kong, someone who I find plays an immensely important role in transferring the information generated in Chinese-speaking territories to a non-Chinese-speaking audience. I've transcribed three interviews in a week and a half. Maybe I can do a fourth one for next week (but this one is twice as long as the three previous combined). So, I suppose that I can announce that this interview should be published on Comme les Chinois at some point in the next two weeks.

In the meanwhile, I invite you to check out the equally interesting interviews that I did on my trip, with Tiffany Wong, Duggar Parrish, Joe Kan, Terry Chan, Raymond Walintukan and Edmond Hung, Patricia Li, Lee Clow, and Fiona Lee. Two more, with Ashley Wong and Derrick Chang, will follow.

After celebrating just six months of existence, this interview with Mr Soong would be my 17th interview on CLC.

The highest peak in nb of visitors was attained on May 12th (I remember it, b/c it was the same day that the Sichuan earthquake hit) when Radio-Canada linked to an entry on my blog, not about the earthquake, but about my realization that was once again behind the Great Firewall (I was returning from Hong Kong on May 10th).

Comme les Chinois @ Google Analytics - 2008-05-17

Previously, I was mentioned in the Montreal Gazette, and La Presse, but the surge of visitors to Comme les Chinois caused by these occurrences was dwarfed on Monday and Tuesday when my article on Radio-Canada being blocked again in China was quoted by an article on Radio-Canada's Sur le Web blog.

I may have also had almost 100 hits from people searching the Dujiangyan (Sichuan) earthquake, which happened on the same day.

Comme les Chinois

Article de Marie-Claude Lortie
sur la communauté chinoise à Montréal.

Third time this week that I am plugging Comme les Chinois on Smurfmatic... Ok, I will have Montréal en Lumière pictures to show on this blog later today / this week. But for now, a tutorial on Chinese languages... in French.

comme les chinois

Went tonight on the Cantonese show "是日精選 - SPECIAL DU JOUR" co-hosted by Yvonne Lo on Radio Centre-Ville. It's from the 40th to the 50th minute of this file.

Comme les Chinois

Clinched the interview with Simon in 3.5 hours. Who said that Q&As were easier? I wanted to cut down from what I've written down, but the editorial board (me) thinks that all parts are needed to illustrate Simon's multi-talented nature. We talk about un-conferences, Being Chinese (tm), Go, Shenzhen, sex-based stereotypes of Asians, and Toronto versus Montreal.

In any case, do read Comme les Chinois, and you may show your appreciation by linking back, if you did not do it already! Thank you!

Flickr with stats, finally

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Yesterday, Yahoo! finally decided to release a statistics page for Flickr pro users. If you want your stats for Flickr, you must go to in order to activate them. It must be a very tough job, computationally-speaking, to keep track of all clicks for every single one of your thousands of photos - even YouTube keeps only a minimal trace of how users get to a video page... But seriously, as the ad says, I am thrilled, because I can now determine how people find my photos. :)

Phew. It's solved now, and my tables have been made in utf8!

Basically, I got backups from the MySQL console, then went to the Movable Type back-end to get further backups (this time, not dependent on the database's encoding), and changed the table charset (from the MySQL console), and restored the MT blog data to a new blog. I'll need to do some clean-up and will be done with this op.

Blog encoding imploded (again)

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Blah blah and blah. Movable Type required that I upgrade my database schema to the new "4.0026" version, and caused something to go awry with my mt database character encodings. I am not too sure what the original encoding was, but I think it was latin1, even if unicode characters were present all over (I clearly do not understand the logic behind these things). After the blowup, all my "é" (French e acute) became "é", and the Chinese characters in my entries were transformed into gibberish.

After a fix that emerge out of magical incantations, at least the French accents work again, but I'll need to obtain a clean backup to figure out if it really did. The trick was to make my database latin1 again (I made it utf8, thinking that a consistent encoding environment would solve things), while keeping the tables in utf8. Chinese characters still don't appear at certain places, seemingly those after one or two other Chinese characters. Strange... Of course, I'll need to know more about how characters are managed. It seems like it's a seasonal thing to struggle with.

Seriously, this time it works! You can try authenticating using LJ, Vox, TypeKey or OpenID for comments, and they are posted automatically (when it goes back to the original page, just refresh to see your own comments).

It turned out that I forgot to refresh my MT's site Javascript, one of the index templates, and consequently the "writeCommenterGreeting()" JS function required to show the "Sign In" link and hide the default anonymous form wasn't present (it was called "writeTypeKeyGreeting" in previous incarnations of MT, allowing only one type of authentication).

Comment away!

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I enabled comments on this site, after upgrading to another release candidate of MT4. Apparently, MT4 now indeed supports authentication schemes other than TypeKey out of the box, meaning that you may supposedly comment using only your Livejournal or Vox.

Finally, I moved my templates to be compliant with MT4. I am not sure why it happened, but I needed to recreate all my templates (not styles, but really the underlying structure) that were originally made under MT version 3.1.

The most tedious part was to get the default templates of MT4 to appear, as there were no default templates in my backend, even after running the mt-upgrade script. I didn't read readmes, so don't know if that was to be expected until some official release, but I really wanted to try the built-in styles (such as this one here, Hills Green). To get the default templates, for index templates, I first had to change the template type for existing indexes from "custom index template" to whatever it was supposed to be - and as for those that did not exist, create a blank one, while guessing the names of the templates to be (can be based on previous versions of MT) and then do a "refresh template" from the plugin action drop-down menu (it's a preinstalled plugin).

Also, all the widget that I previously had were not good with the built-in styles CSS, because they used "modules-*" as class/id names instead of "widget-*".

Also, interesting news about Movable Type is that Six Apart announced an open-source version of MT (this site is currently using MT4 Beta 7).

I made a test installation ( of Wordpress the other week on my home server (runs Ubuntu), and it took exactly fifteen minutes to set up (create a new db in mysql, configure apache, and 'apt-get install wordpress'). Wordpress is open-source and free and has the great benefit of being multi-user. By contrast, Movable Type, which currently runs this blog (, is proprietary, and its free version is single user. MT personal boasts multiple blogs, which WP's cost-free version doesn't have - but who gives? Because you can still install multiple WP blogs that don't interact with each other (on separate directories w/ separate databases).

Unless I get convinced otherwise, WP has really distanced itself from MT, by being open-source. WP is also written in PHP, a programming language that has become the lingua franca in web programming today (MT uses Perl), a great plus when designing templates, or even hacking into the code that makes WP and its plugins.

With a server at home, and a dynamic dns service, you can run a WP blog with your own domain on your own server for 40CAD or less for domain registration and a dynamic dns service, like for .ca domains, and for all other types of top-level domains (a standard in the industry, I've used it for four years, and most recently to make point to my home server). Typical hosting services generally cost 50-100USD per year for domain and hosting, and it is the price to pay for reliability.

If you are a DIY type of person, WP on a personal Linux machine is an excellent starter sys admin experience. The only inconvenient is if you ran it on your home connection - whereas it is fine for a text-only blog, once you start putting pictures and get more than a few hundred visits a day, you might start feeling the toll on your upload rate. If you ever reach that point, it might be time to start putting ads, and upgrade to those SME Internet service packages that your ISP may have.

Ok, and let's see here now

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I didn't get around the mt-comments.cgi problem yet. Now if I do something as simple as stupid as changing the directory name, and putting a blank page of 0 bytes instead of the old one, would it solve my problem? Sometimes, a Livejournal/Blogger/Xanga/whatever seems so much easier...

Welcome to 3.31

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Of MT, testing, testing. :D

And let's see how it fares against the comment spam...

... and the answer being, not very well. XD

Ok, i've reinstated mt-comments.cgi. Let's hope it doesn't choke on spam again...

Edit: fuck that, script's getting pwned like on the second I re-enabled it...

In the meanwhile, I've uploaded pics to my Flickr.

The crabapple tree has flowered sometime between yesterday and Tuesday. It's now even more flourished that yesterday, and probably by tomorrow it will look more or less like a cloud of pink floating below my bedroom window. There are also pictures of a few things I cooked in the past month (the lamb couscous, and then the pork roast) and also when I visited my grandmother (and perhaps I should go again today - an occasion to take a breath of fresh air, go to the pool, get some work done, and not witness the Senators early playoffs elimination on TV).

This the second time I eat zongzi in three days. My other grandmother (my mom's mom) brought a couple of rice dumplings yesterday evening, on her usual post-dinner walk with grandpa. Extremely nice of her, despite that I got three of them at the same place on Saturday. Nonetheless, it must be the first time I eat freshly-made "zong" at home (we end up buying them or keeping them frozen), and not that I notice any real difference, but it's kind of neat to be able to steam them instead of boiling them away. Ok, it's beeping downstairs.

As for the domain, it's back to normal now. I've been relocated from their US server to one of them in Europe. One day down seemed like forever, can you imagine?

Oh great, a real tropical summer without having to leave the country. Those linen cloth shorts will feel very good in a month...

reinstated side links

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Yeah, I did. I disliked putting side links, b/c people in them usually didn't update for months (or never, sometimes). If not on there, it's b/c you're on some blogroll.

But that is irrelevant for most people getting this through syndication on LJ or GJ, and will be too in a near future when RSS is going to be integrated to Windows (or when usage of web-based software like Google Reader picks up). Here's my RSS feed.

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