Favicons

Personally, I think “favicon” is a really stupid name, but that’s what Microsoft came up with. A favicon is a tiny little icon (.ICO file) which goes on your bookmark (favorites) list in your browser when you bookmark a website. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Yahoo has one. Google has one. Most major sites have one. This site even has one. If a site doesn’t have one, IE users will just see .

Several people have asked me how I made mine, so I thought I’d give a little description of the process. There’s actually plenty of documentation on the web about it, but if you don’t know the name “favicon,” it can be kind of hard to find.

First, a .ICO file is not just an ordinary image file in a tiny size. It’s a special format, and the only one that can be used for the purpose of creating a favicon for your website. Second, the favicon must be 16×16 pixels big and be in 16 color mode. All the instructions you need can be found on this site, as well as links to the one small program you’ll need. There are many ways to make an .ICO file, but I think the IrfanView image viewer (also linked to on the above page) is the easiest way to go about it, and I’ve done it several different ways before.

So, in a nutshell, this is the process:

  1. Go to this site, read it all, and download and install IrfanView.

  2. Choose or create the image file you want to be your favicon. The more exacting favicon creators will probably want to start big in Photoshop, then shrink the file down to 16×16 pixel size. Make the appropriate modifications if you don’t like how it looks tiny, then save it as a .BMP file. (I do not recommend creating the icon file from scratch pixel be pixel. You will get very choppy-looking results.)

  3. Open the image file in IrfanView, and then save it as a .ICO file. Remember, it must be 16×16 pixels, and only 16 colors.

  4. Upload the favicon.ICO file into your website’s root directory.* That should do it!**

* If you don’t have your own .COM, you can still have a favicon for your site. Refer to the page above for detailed instructions.

** If you had a different favicon before, or have already bookmarked your site before, you will have to follow the steps explained on the page referenced above in order to see the favicon. Unfortunately, your readers will as well. New readers will see the favicon as soon as they bookmark your page.

It’s actually simpler than it sounds, but you see very few favicons on personal sites. I’m thinking bloggers just don’t realize how simple it is, but if they did, we’d see a lot more favicons out there. I’m hoping, anyway.

[Further reference on favicons.]

浩室音乐

你知道“浩室”(House)音乐是什么吗?好像在杭州这种音乐越来越流行,但是人人并不一定知道是什么。我也不是很了解这种音乐,不过我知道一些。

浩室是一种舞曲音乐(这里有更丰富的解释),比杭州大多数的蹦迪音乐轻松一些。杭州蹦迪喜欢放的是pop trance,在国外已经很土的一种舞曲音乐。

杭州早就有一家酒吧叫“浩室就把”,但里面放的音乐不是浩室音乐。今年南山路上开了一个“绝对浩室”迪吧。我只去过一次,但我觉得放的音乐很不错,挺有个性。的确是正宗浩室。下面“Launch”party也是浩室。很好跳的。

如果你没听过浩室音乐的话,我建议你听听。不过其实光听也不够。应该在蹦迪或者酒吧里享受着气氛听。而且真的要欣赏这种音乐的话,得跳舞。

更多LINKS: 你知道舞曲音乐有多少种类吗? 另一个舞曲音乐类型解释

Ichi

I just watched the movie Ichi the Killer tonight with some of my ZUCC co-workers. Carl and Alf have been itching to get me to watch that movie ever since Carl borrowed my DVD collection while I was in Japan this past August. I told them I hadn’t seen Ichi the Killer, and they misremembered my mention of the movie as a recommendation. Anyway, they watched it and were psychologically scarred, so they wanted to return the favor.

The movie was very disturbing. Ultra violent, and just plain sick, sick, sick. I really don’t see the point in making a movie like that. The director, Miike Takashi (三池崇史), is evidently pretty famous for the movie Audition. I haven’t seen it, but I don’t plan to.

Perhaps the only semi-worthwhile part of my movie-watching experience was a reflection I had about Japanese and Chinese relations. Anyone who has studied the rape of Nanking (Nanjing) knows that some sick, sick atrocities were committed on Chinese civilians. All kinds of people have tried to explain the actions of the Japanese soldiers — their dehumanizing of their enemy and their blind obedience to their superiors.

When Chinese people say they hate the Japanese, I try to suggest to them that what happened during the war was committed by people in a different time, who were products of their particular circumstances. I don’t mean to excuse what those people did, but the youth of today’s Japan didn’t do those things. But the Chinese often hold onto a “you don’t understand the Japanese. They’re clever. They’re twisted. You just don’t understand” mentality.

Movies like Ichi the Killer lend credence to those kinds of opinions. At least the “twisted” part. Miike was born in post-war Japan.

I’d like to see more GTO, Spirited Away, and Kikujiro. I’m going to stay away from Miike’s films. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

(Oh yeah — also, Carl and Alf are mean.)

Asia Weblog Awards

What could be geekier than blogging? Blogging about blogging, perhaps. (Yes, I’m guilty.) But if you want to get even geekier? Starting an award system for blogs, with votes and promotion, and all that stuff. OK, it’s geeky but it’s kinda nice. And Phil put a fair amount of work into it, so let’s give it some attention.

I speak, of course, of the Asia Weblog Awards over at Flyingchair.net. You can nominate blogs and vote for blogs, and all that good stuff. It’s a pretty slick system that Phil put together. I think I’m in the running, as are a few others in the Sinosplice Network.

Anyway, give it a look.

Making the Band

Recently my co-worker Greg (of Sinobling) developed a really fun activity for English class. A lot of the other teachers here (including me) have tried out his activity as well, and it has gotten top scores all around. It’s been weeks and he hasn’t blogged about it. I guess maybe describing an TEFL activity doesn’t lend itself well to Greg’s awesome powers of humor.

The concept is that you break the class into groups of 4-6 people each and give them the task of creating an imaginary band. Clearly, there’s plenty of “pre” work to be done. What is a band? What types of music can bands play? What instruments can be played in a band? After you discuss these questions with the class and make sure they understand what’s going on, you tell them to come up with some of the following (be selective depending on how much time you allot to the activity):

  1. Band name
  2. Genre of music
  3. Band member names (these should not be the same as their English names — this is the time to come up with creative English names!)
  4. Musical instrument that each member plays (don’t forget vocals!)
  5. Story of the unusual circumstances under which the band met
  6. Name of the band’s first smash hit
  7. Lyrics to the hit song (if you have a lot of time to kill…)

This activity absolutely works magic on the students. I can’t explain it, but it seems to awaken deeply buried creative juices in the students’ cute passive little skulls. The activity inspired some of my students to write lyrics when I didn’t even ask them to, and to even voluntarily perform their songs in front of the class! Greg says he got almost all his groups to perform by telling them that any group that performed got him as a backup dancer. Cool trick.
Greg’s favorite band name out of all his classes was Milk Cow Goes to Australia. I gotta admit, it really works. Carl‘s favorite hit song out of all his classes was Love me, love my dog.
The following are some of my classes’ results:

Moth is a rock band bringing you the hit song Transform.

11pm is a light music band. Playing violin, piano, lute, and bagpipes, their hit song is Dreaming of Tiger Spring at Hupao Valley.

The industrial band Noisy is: Shadow on guitar, Blue on bass, Kid on drums, Dust on vocals, and Ghost on the keyboard. Their hit song is Waste Gas.

Seasoned Band is a rock band comprised of Curry on bass, Mustard on drums, Vinegar on vocals, and Ginger on the keyboard. Their hit song is The feeling of sweet and sour.

Super Chemical Girls is a hip hop band comprised of Oxygen on guitar, Hydrogen on bass, Atom on keyboards, Silver on drums, and Carbon on vocals.

Falling Angels is a metal band. The band members are Ghost, Sorceress, Demon, and Satan. [The 4 girls in this band are some of my sweetest students, too.] Their hit song is Hell Gate. Below are some lyrics: Wings broken, Falling falling Soul gone, leaving leaving hell gate, opening opening Death hands, waving waving

Rock on, Chinese students. Rock on.

Hong Kong Bloggers

I don’t regularly read Hong Kong blogs, so I was in for a surprise recently when I visited Flyingchair and took a good look at his blog links. There are so many new ones! Flyingchair is pretty much the gatekeeper of HK blogs, it would seem. You may want to check out the Hong Kong blogs in the China Blog List to see the new additions.

Also, the HK bloggers had a pretty big face-to-face meeting of bloggers recently. Kinda reminds me of my high school BBS days. We had a few meetups back then (oh man, it was scary!). Anyway, if you’re interested, Ukjoe gives a pretty complete account.

[Side note: Simon provides graphical evidence of the “Muzimei Spike” phenomenon rippling through the blogosphere. The idea is that any blog that writes about Muzimei gets a huge surge in traffic. Hailey reported it almost a month ago, but it seriously intensified a week or so ago. Sinosplice hasn’t felt it.]

Movable Type

This past weekend I finally made the switch over to Movable Type. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, influenced by John B, Russell, Andrea, Brendan, and Adam. I recognized the superior blogging technology and wanted to use it, but I was just lazy.

I didn’t completely relinquish my lazy ways, though. The switchover is not yet total. Although the installation was utterly painless, I haven’t done the archive pages and some other fine tuning. There’s no good way to import the Haloscan comments. (This one looks good, but apparently the plugin is not online!) There are lots of little problems.

Why does my <p> text formatting go awry any time I post a picture, use a blockquote, or use a list? (It’s especially obvious on my Chinese blog; I’ve made some cosmetic alterations on this one.)

Why doesn’t the Textile plugin work even though I followed the installation instructions exactly?

OK, sorry this post is incredibly boring. Everything should be squared away soon. In the meantime, the old Blogger archives are still there.

Thanksgiving and Melancholy

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and ZUCC teachers and friends had a great meal at the Holiday Inn. 148 rmb per person is pretty steep, but it was all you can eat (and all you can drink), and the food was top notch. I had at least 5 plates. I was hurting. It was all worthwhile.

There was great turkey, with gravy. There was cranberry relish. There was pumpkin pie. There almost wasn’t mashed potatoes, but Heather, having read my account of Thanksgiving at Holiday Inn last year, fixed that problem. She called ahead and requested mashed potatoes at the buffet. As a result, there were mashed potatoes, and they were good. There were tons of other non-Thanksgivingesque selections as well, such as sushi, steak, “roast beef salad,” and pasta. But we were all happy to see the Thanksgiving traditional dishes represented.

So I guess now it’s back to Chinese food every meal, every day.

Regarding the melancholy, there are a whole lot of factors contributing, and it’s a strange mix of emotions. I have already committed to a move in early January, and I’m not looking forward to leaving Hangzhou and all my good friends here behind (look at Greg’s sweet Thanksgiving post). Yet it’s time for a change. So there’s a lot of excitement and uncertainty too. I think I’ve found a great job, but it’s not quite finalized yet, so I don’t want to announce it publicly.

Also, next month I take the HSK. That’s the big Chinese “TOEFL.” I have been skipping too many classes lately and not studying nearly enough. It’s time to really buckle down. If I don’t get an 8, I’m going to be sorely disappointed and pissed at myself for not working harder. I know I can get an 8.

Also, I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s partly because I don’t have much time for it, but also because lately I’m feeling a little unhappy about the whole deal. I’m not sure why, exactly, and it’s hard to pin down the exact emotions, but I have some vague ideas.

One of the biggest changes to the “China Blog Community” of late has been the addition of Living in China. It’s a community blog in every sense of the word, and the founders did an amazing job. The site looks awesome, and there are new posts frequently, on a wide range of topics. The site is just so professional. It deserves every hit it gets.

Still, there’s something about it that feels strange. I agree with Richard’s assessment. I suppose I really like the process of browsing blogs, and I’ve never been a fan of RSS feeds. Now it kind of feels like if you don’t have an RSS feed then you’re out in the cold. I guess the need for RSS is an inevitable development given the tremendous surge in the number of China blogs. But I still feel a little bit like the Wal-Mart of China blogs has arrived, if that makes any sense.

I’m not trying to criticize Living in China, though. What they’re doing is great, and my reaction is strictly a personal one.

Along those lines, though, it’s been disturbing to me seeing the personal, nasty side of the China blogs. Attacks on Glutter, Hailey…. Why is “who’s right” always the most important issue? Why do blogs tend to encourage raging, ruthless egos?

I guess I just miss the good old days when everything seemed so intimate and friendly. But things change, and that’s fine. For the time being, though, I’m very content with being pretty quiet. But I’ll stick around.

Fixing what's screwed up

You gotta admire people who see a problem and then actually do something about it. I’m not talking about just words, I’m talking actions. I try to adhere to this philosophy in my own life (hey, the Sinosplice Network!), and I applaud it when I see it.

One of the things foreigners quickly recognize as very wrong in China is the horrible dance music played in clubs. It’s really bad. You really need a good dose of alcohol to withstand it for any decent length of time.

When Wilson was here, he tried to bring some better music to Chinese clubbers by DJing at two different clubs in Hangzhou. Now some friends of mine are taking a slightly different approach. They’re renting out a club, hiring their own DJs, playing good music, and charging a small admission. They’re even keeping beer prices low somehow. This could be the start of something big. Definitely check it out if you’re in Hangzhou Saturday, November 29th. It’s all going down at “Sacred Chrees Pub” on Ding An Road by West Lake Boulevard.

(Note: DJ “Nasdaq Composite” has his own site!)

Clear Skies

I think Hangzhou is a great city as Chinese cities go, but one of the things I really don’t like very much about it is the weather. Particularly the winter weather, not because it’s cold but because it’s basically just rain, rain, rain. Hence my last post, which was basically an elaborate “I hate puddles” whine.

That’s why I am really happy about our weather of late. It’s winter already, but the weather’s great, and doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Loving it. (Too bad it’s causing a drought.)

Click for Hangzhou Weather (weather.com)

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