Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop





Movies This Week (5/11)

Posted 11 May, 2007 at 11:32pm by Michael Chu
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Most of my time (nights included) was spent getting Fan Picks done for Fanpop, but I did manage to catch the opening of Spider-Man 3 (3/5). Here's my analysis:
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Movies This Week (5/11)

Fanpop Fan Picks

Posted 10 May, 2007 at 10:44pm by Michael Chu
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I finished a new feature on Fanpop today that we're calling Picks. It's like a souped up version of polls that enables fans to share their opinions in a fun way. On your user page on Fanpop, you'll find all your picks gathered in one place to share with other fans and maybe find a common favorite character or have dissenting opinions about ice cream. Take a look at my picks or take a look at what some of the popular questions on Fanpop are.

My tongue has a mind of its own

Posted 10 May, 2007 at 1:15am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life) 3 comments

Returning to the dentist today for my cavity work, I discovered that my tongue does not behave the way I expect it to. I moves on its own and even when I tell it to go somewhere (for example, to one side of the mouth) it may or may not. The weirdest part about it is that I have NO idea where my tongue is at any given moment. Sure, I can tell it's in the center of my mouth and touching the inside of all my teeth right now, but if my mouth was wide open (as it was on the dentist's chair) and my tongue was NOT supposed to touch anything, then when I tell the tongue to go to the right (away from the drills and instruments), I believe that it goes to the right. However, it also lifts up on the left side and into the way of the tools. I had no idea that it was doing this. Apparently I have defective proprioception (the sense of where your body parts are relative to the other body parts) when it comes to my tongue. It wasn't until I was handed a mirror that I could see what my tongue was doing and then adjust. Only then would my tongue listen to me.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Posted 9 May, 2007 at 1:06am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) No comments

Bundaberg Ginger BeerWhen I toured New Zealand, I discovered Bundaberg Ginger Beer (an Australian import). The ginger flavor is very strong in this non-alcoholic, carbonated soft drink - it even has bits of Australian ginger pulp floating in it. I like ginger sweets (but not ginger in savory dishes - savory dishes with ginger are fine, but the ginger itself is something I can't stand) so it wasn't surprising that I'd enjoy the Bundaberg Ginger Beer. What was surprising was that I thought it was one of the best ginger ales I had ever tasted. The sweetness (from cane sugar) is perfectly balanced with the spiciness of the ginger. The bottle is also interesting. The cap is popped off by pulling on a tab that practically rips the metal cap in two. Needless to say, you'll be finishing the bottle in just one sitting. Luckily, I've managed to find some at my local Beverages & More! (about $5 for a pack of 4 375 mL bottles).

Welcome slashdotters!

Posted 7 May, 2007 at 12:35am by Michael Chu

Well, I just got slashdotted. That's one for each of my websites. It took Cooking For Engineers about 3 months to get slashdotted and basically put me on the Internet map. I owe much of the success of Cooking For Engineers to that particular post on slashdot. (I had nothing to do with the potentially sexist comments.) Imagine my surprise when this time around, it took 3 weeks. Granted I wrote a brief article on how I solved a mysql migration issue which is a more relevant topic to slashdotters than food and cooking. Of course, this time there isn't the sexism controversy, so I'm not sure what load of traffic will be hitting the server. (Although, I expect there will be the controversy over whether or not my mysql tip is more harmful than useful since I'm not a mysql expert in any way and my advice could be poorly written and ill conceived.) In any case, I have a general idea what the load is going to be like, so don't hate me, but I'm turning on my adsense for the next couple days. Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with this action.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to get wp-cache working with Wordpress 2.1.3, please let me know. I've had some issues.


Posted 6 May, 2007 at 10:44pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life, Web 2.0) No comments

My friend Jeremy (who I've known for 2/3 of my life!) had his birthday party today and I got to participate. I hadn't seen Jeremy in a couple years (in the last decade we've seen each other probably 4-5 times), but a couple years ago I signed up on his calendaring/shared event website called Mosuki. I added Jeremy as part of my network and then never returned to the website. Two years later, it paid off. As part of joining the network, I opted-in to receive periodic e-mail updates so I can see what events are going on in Jeremy's life. I never actually participate in any of them even though some seem quite interesting (and some seem just plain weird). So, I open my e-mail on Saturday and see that Jeremy is having a picnic in San Francisco followed by a private tea presentation at the Imperial Tea Court in Chinatown. I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me to see my friend again, so I logged back into Mosuki and responded that I would be going.

The tea presentation was very interesting and informative as well as relaxing as I caught up with Jeremy on what's been going on with our lives and smelled the aroma of several teas while they were dry, just rinsed, steeping, and poured into tea cups. The flavors were also quite interesting and diverse between the varieties and learning how the tea was picked and prepared added to the experience. It was good times and I owe it all to Mosuki.

Mysql database migration and special characters

Posted 5 May, 2007 at 10:12pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Web 2.0) 96 comments

So, I keep having all sorts of problems when moving my mysql database from one machine to another. The issue is that in text or varchar columns containing data that have special characters like smart quotes (those crazy curly quotes), accented letters, etc. result in scrambled data. For example the following phrase


results in


in the database and then renders incorrectly on the website as


This is supposed to be a popular problem when moving from mysql 4.0 to 4.1 or later, but I seem to have this problem moving data from one database to another on the same mysql installation. Moving from one maching with 4.1 to another with 4.1 also results in this crazy character problem.

Most of the solutions I found online end up with complicated find and replace functions to remove these problem characters. Unfortunately, that just not a solution that I'm okay with. After fiddling with it for most of the day (and giving up several times in the past), here's what I did that worked for me.
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Mysql database migration and special characters

Movies This Week (5/4)

Posted 5 May, 2007 at 12:03am by Michael Chu
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Busy week this week coding for Fanpop and Cooking For Engineers, so I only managed to watch two movies on DVD: You, Me, and Dupree (2.5/5) and Smokin' Aces (2.5/5). Here's what I thought.
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Movies This Week (5/4)

Non-American Novels and Name Changes

Posted 3 May, 2007 at 10:37pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Books) 4 comments

So, I was thinking, why do they keep altering the names of novels when they publish them here in the United States? They don't do it all the time, but I don't necessarily understand when they choose to. The two main examples on my mind are Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone and His Dark Materials 1: Northern Lights which carries the name His Dark Materials 1: The Golden Compass. The Harry Potter example never made sense to me - what's a sorceror's stone? I understand most young readers won't know what a philosopher's stone is/was but at least it's a term that has been historically used and has some meaning. Sorceror's stone doesn't mean anything. I guess I can understand why the Northen Lights was renamed because the other two books have titles that are objects that can be held while the Northen Lights is a bit vague and may sound like a science book.

Books - His Dark Materials 1: The Golden Compass / Northern Lights

Posted 2 May, 2007 at 6:05pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Books) 1 comment

I finished listening to the first His Dark Materials book by Philip Pullman called The Golden Compass here in the U.S. and Northern Lights everywhere else. I listen to a lot of books on tape (actually CD and MP3's on CD) as I drive. I also read paper books (you just can't beat the feel of paper between your fingers as you flip pages). In any case, I listened to The Golden Compass which is one of the best produced audio books I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.
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Books - His Dark Materials 1: The Golden Compass / Northern Lights