Tag Archives: Tweaks & Tech


Going through the old stuff

While packing, I discovered this old laptop:

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I have NO idea where I got it from or why I had it…

Running Windows 98 with a hard drive less than 1GB, and a whopping 48MB of RAM… by today’s standards, completely obsolete.  But it works fine!  Bootup and shutdown are snappy (heck, faster than my current Vista system) and the hardware all worked perfectly.

I’m hanging on to it still actually… if only for nostalgia. 😉

P.S. And that last picture is of a hard drive I had as well – one with a  humongous 500MB capacity. :p

Tweaks & Tech


A new kind of search engine just launched today.  Dubbed a “computational knowledge engine”, it leverages Mathematica, an extremely powerful technical computing software.  I played around with Mathematica very briefly while in university, but math has always been beyond my ken and my experience with the software was very akin to that of someone gingerly prodding a mysterious and somewhat frightening object with a stick.  It didn’t bite back, but I knew to leave well enough alone.  I did realise that it was capable of much more than I could ever hope to understand though, and the thought left me somewhat wistful even as I bid it adieu.

Now it’s back, and in a much more accessible form dubbed Wolfram|Alpha.  Aside from what I think is a very cool name, it makes complex mathematical calculations possible even by people who are as mathematically dense as myself.  Beyond that though, it presents information in all sorts of fascinating ways as you can see below.

The first query was of my company’s name, and the second was of a random math formula that I ripped off Wikipedia (heavens, don’t even think I would claim to have the slightest inkling of what that formula is looking for – all mathematical formulas make me go cross-eyed >_<)

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You can even do a search for “mongolia weather” or (this is very cool) “International Space Station 4/6/09 at 7:45pm

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Wolfram|Alpha is no Google killer, at least not yet.  The vast majority of internet surfers are not going to change over anytime soon, not when Google finds relevant information so quickly, and so accurately on such a wide range of queries such as telephone numbers to that bakery store down the street, addresses/directions to Yokohama, images of lolcats, reviews of the new Star Trek movie, links to downloads, walkthroughs on gamefaqs… heck, the everyday questions one comes up with.   Wolfram|Alph DOES shine when it comes to more scientific/professional usage, and I can see it becoming a big hit with that community.

It’s still in it’s early stages though.  Google didn’t get to where it is now overnight, and I have a feeling that as time goes by, Wolfram|Alpha will definitely improve and become more accessible.  At the very least it will serve as competition to Google and give users another way to access the constantly expanding amount of data that’s out there.

Tweaks & Tech

Google Chrome tweaks – Accessing Hotmail

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  Last night while troubleshooting Meg’s computer, I learned that Hotmail does not appear to work in Chrome (as of build  You are able to log on to Windows Live, and view your inbox, but are unable to click on any of the messages.  That is rather bizarre, and I don’t know whether the fault lies with the Google or Microsoft.

Personally I like Firefox at work with the NoScript plugin for security, and like Chrome for use at home due to its speed.   Also, I don’t use hotmail (prefer GMail) so it took me a little while to figure this particular puzzle out.

The solution that seems to have solved the trick involves the following steps:

  • Close chrome, making sure no instances are running
  • Go to your desktop (or wherever your shortcut to Chrome is located), and right click on the Chrome shortcut, choosing “properties”
  • When the properties box comes up, look for the “Target” field and paste the following after \chrome.exe:

–user-agent=”Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1 Safari/525.19″

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Two points to be aware of:

  1. Make sure there is a space between chrome.exe and the text you paste (for example: \chrome.exe –user-agent….)
  2. Make sure there are actually TWO hyphens before the word “user” (ie [hyphenhyphen]user-agent, NOT just [hyphen]user-agent)

After you’ve pasted that line after chrome.exe, hit OK, and you should be set!  Double-clicking on the Chrome shortcut should bring up Chrome normally and you should now be able to access the hotmail.com site and logon to check your mail without any problems.

Hopefully this issue will be resolved fairly soon…

Source: Google Chrome Release Blog


Joomla Tweaks – resolving (maybe) character encoding issues

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During the course of helping Yuko with her site, I came across similar issues related to character encoding as I wrote about in my previous post.  However, since I’ve been trying to use Joomla for her site (my rationale being that since her site is going to be business-oriented, Joomla would probably be a more robust platform than WordPress), troubleshooting is vastly different.

I’ve also used Joomla for the TUJ Alumni association site and though it is very useful once set up, the process of getting the hang of the interface, distinguishing between articles, categories, pages, etc., can get a little overwhelming for first time users like myself.  Fortunately, the hosting service (Lunarpages) that I use and have recommended to others makes it incredibly easy to setup Joomla – essentially a point and click process.  The difficulty though, comes when you need to make adjustments to the default setting.

As indicated by the subject line, I encountered issues when publishing articles in Japanese where double byte characters would be converted to a series of question marks (?????).  Unfortunately, unlike WordPress, the resolution to his issue wasn’t as simple as just editing a config file.  Instead it took me a good couple of hours at least and advice from the friendly Lunarpages support staff to finally reach what I hope is a resolution.  For the sake of my own future recollection, and in the hopes that others may find it useful, here’s what I did. (please remember to BACK UP your databases before attempting this!)

  • First, you will need to access the admin interface of the database, and this can be done from the Lunarpages cPanel.  From the Control Panel, go to [ MySQL Databases ] and scroll all the way down till you see a link to [ phpMyAdmin ] and click on that.  Once in there, you should see your Joomla! database, usually called something like [ <your_username>_ID ] – click on that.You should now see a long list of tables.  For some reason, it looks like the default Joomla install sets the collation of each table to be [ latin1_swedish_ci ] – I have no idea why.Currently, I don’t know if it’s necessary to edit every single one of them.  For now, at least with the little testing I’ve done, the only one you need to edit is the “jos_content” table.  At the top of the page, you’ll see a tab named [ SQL ] – click on it.
  • That will bring up a screen where you are able to input SQL queries – enter the following:


  • Then click on “Go” on the bottom right of the input field.
  • If all goes well, you should see a confirmation of success, and going back to the table list (by clicking on the “Structure” tab), you should see that the “jos_content” table collation is now set to be [ utf8_general_ci ] instead of [ latin1_swedish_ci ]

That should do the trick! 🙂

Tweaks & Tech

WordPress tweaks – resolving character encoding issues

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Yay – I’m finally able to type in Japanese on WordPress!  I wasn’t able to do so when I was writing about my Kusatsu experiences because of character encoding issues.  Every time I tried writing any Japanese characters, they would display as question marks (??????)

However, after searching around (yay for Google), I found that commenting out 2 lines in the wp-config.php file resolves this issue.

Just for reference, in case anyone stumbles across this post while trying to resolve the same issue, the following lines need to be commented out:

define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);
define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8’);

Commenting out is easily done, by adding two forward slashes in front of those lines, like so:

//define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8’);
//define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);

Just remember: BACKUP your original wp-config file – work on a copy, so that you can always restore the original file if something goes wrong!

As a final note, also make sure that permissions to the file are correctly set – for some reason, uploading the edited file removes some of the original permissions, and I have to manually reset them to match the original settings.

Final note!  I would recommend using a program such as Notepad (or even better, Notepad++) to make any edits.  I originally tried Dreamweaver but that scrambled something and WP wouldn’t even let me access the admin logon page anymore…  (x_x)