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Thursday, April 23, 2009

1st Drupal website: Ecotourism in Yunnan, China

For a while now, I've been working on making a new website for Xintuo Ecotourism, an ecotourism company based in Lijiang, Yunnan, China.

The old website was not well compatible with Firefox and was difficult to update. I considered WordPress but I have finally chosen the famous Open-source CMS Drupal as a platform for the website. Mostly because I wanted to learn by doing and this opportunity allowed it, I was sure I could do a decent website with Drupal.

I'm pretty happy with the result. I haven't been disappointed with the possiblities. The only thing is : Drupal is much more hard to keep up to date (Modules, Themes...), but maybe it's not that important once your website is up and running.
I find the theme update most troublesome, because I did some change in the theme, but when you update it (when the author released a new version for bug fix for example), you have to do these changes again...

The most difficult task was maybe to get Clean Urls to work. At first I had difficulty to understand the "help" section about this. But I finally succeeded.
My biggest disappointement was about some modules which are not available in Drupal 6 (but in Drupal 5, which makes it frustrating). For example, a module to deal with Picasa Web Album, or to have a Google Sitemap.

I had fun to play with the Weather and Maps modules, and I had difficulty to find a WYSIWYG editor but in the end, i think it's a good website for that company.

List of the main modules I added:
Views, CCK, GMap, Location, Google Analytics, Tagadelic, Wysiwyg, Fivestar...
Theme:
Marinelli

Next time, i'll write a bit about 2 other websites I did, this time with WordPress.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Newspaper interview

Today, I bought the local newspaper. No, I still can't read most of it! It's just that today, they had a supplement about young Laowais (foreigners) in Kunming and I was one of them. Earlier this week, I had answers a few questions by email and forwarded my picture. A friend of my friend is a journalist for 春城晚报 (Chuncheng Wanbao), the Spring City Evening Paper.

Here's the result:
Here's the content online. And here's a direct link to my interview. And here's the pdf file (same as image above).

亮相:Philippe Semanaz(菲利普),法国人,27岁,在昆明学习中文,希望能找到份好工作。

  

  第一次见到菲利普是在KTV,卷卷的头发,戴着眼镜,文质彬彬的感觉。菲利普很聪明,学什么东西都比较快就能学会,玩骰子、吹牛,赢了众人好多次,搞得“老江湖”们有些汗颜。第二次在打架子鼓的酒吧里看见他,没想到,这位外国朋友一打起架子鼓来,非常地投入和忘我……

   通过交谈了解到,菲利普是法国人,因为非常热爱昆明,所以决定留在这里。他说:“当我还是一个工程学学生时,因为一个项目,我很幸运地在昆明度过了一个 学期。然后我回到法国继续学习。毕业后,我在巴黎做了一年IT工程师。我并不讨厌那里的生活,但我想到国外去体验一些不同的东西。而且我不想等到找到工作 才着手准备。所以目前我在昆明学习中文,希望能够在这里找到一份很好的工作!”

 [Above is my friend's description: we first met in KTV (friend of a friend) and then we went to Speakeasy, with the same group of friend] 

  对话菲利普

  Q:为什么选择留在昆明?昆明最吸引你的地方是什么?

  A:我认为这是一个学习中文非常好的地方,我从来没在上海或北京生活过,我也不打算这样做。当然,我也喜欢昆明的天气,云南的文化很多元,在这样的氛围中学习和生活很不错。这里丰富的生物资源以及奇妙的景观,让人惊叹。

  Q:在中国,1980年后生的一代人被叫做80后,在你们的国家,20~30多岁的年轻人有特定的称谓吗?

  A:在法国,我们称之为“千禧一代” 或者“ Y一代” 。众所周知,这一代人是非常灵活而又十分叛逆的。

  Q:你如何看待昆明的年轻人?

  A:我在昆明认识了许多年轻人,他们绝大多数都对我的国家以及文化非常感兴趣,并且他们提问时都十分友好。

  Q:法国的年轻人有什么比较特别的?

  A:似乎我这个时代的人都被国际化的职业所吸引。我有已经结婚的朋友,我觉得对我们而言,结婚并不是优先的,事业更重要。

  本报记者 杨颖


My original presentation and answers in English:

I'm from France and when I was an engineering student, I was lucky to spend a semester in Kunming for a project. I then came back to France to continue my study, and when I was done, I worked 1 year as an IT engineer in Paris.
It's not that I didn't enjoy my life there but I felt like I wanted to live abroad to experience something different. and I didn't want to wait until I get a good job opportunity. So now, I'm learning Chinese and I hope to find a good job here because I really enjoy to be here.

1、为什么选择留在昆明?昆明最吸引你的地方是什么? [why Kunming?]
For the moment, i think it's a very nice place to learn Chinese because the city life is particularly enjoyable. I have never stayed in Shanghai or Beijing and I'm not planning to do that unless I find a good job there. I like the weather of course, but the thing that I like the most, is to be in Yunnan, this region of China that has so much to offer: so many different cultures, rich biodiversity, wonderful landscapes...


2、在中国,1980年后生的一代人被叫做“80后”,在你们的国家,20—30多岁的年轻人有特定的称谓吗?你怎么 理解?[how do you call the generation of people who were born under 1980, I made some Internet research for that one :-)]
In France, we call it the "Millenium Generation" (because they got in the working life after the year 2000) or the "Y Generation" (because born after the "X Generation" which is the generation after the "Babyboomers"). This generation is know for being flexible but also rebellious. Only our grand-parents have know a war on our territories and our parents are often Babyboomers. We generally feel European and we gave up our national money (Franc) for Euro when we were young enough so we adapted quickly.

3、你如何看待昆明的年轻人? [What do you think of Kunming's young people? question piège :-D]
I have met many different young people in Kunming but I have to say, most of them were very curious about my country and my culture, and always asked me very nicely. It's always interesting to exchange about cultures.
It feels like many of the young people I met would like to travel abroad but it's still difficult and expensive: I feel very lucky to be able to be here.
(On another note, I know most of them are only childs and I always wonder how this might affect a whole generation's "personnality". I have to say that I have yet to find out about this.)

4、在你们国家,年轻人都追求一些什么(尤其是80或者90后)? [what are people from that generation are looking for?]
Well, it seems people from my generation are attracted by an international carreer. I have friends who have gotten married but that's maybe not a priority: I feel the carreer is more important for most of my schoolmates. We tend to think we can deal with that later, maybe in our 30's.

[I'm still not sure how my answers where translated...]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Test

some issues with the Disqus comment system. this is a test post

Monday, January 12, 2009

Websites without RSS feeds...

Yes, there's still website without RSS feeds outhere, and if like me you can't accept that idea, or if you find RSS to practical to live without, then you find a way to make your own, and/or find something to replace it.

I've been doing exactly that for a while now, and I felt like sharing about 2 tools I find very useful to do that (Feedity, to create free RSS feed from a website, and Update Scanner, a firefox add-on) through some examples (GoKunming's classified, GoKunming's calendar).

Feedity
It's been a while since I have been using this service and it proved itself to be quite valuable. It's not that easy to set-up but when it finally works the way you want to (if it ever does), it's great.
For example, GoKunming has a feed for its article section but not for its classified section. And if you live in Kunming, you might wanna keep a look on that without having to visit the site everyday. Well, that's what RSS feeds are for, right?
Feedity let me create this feed which is working well for now. Might not work forever as it depends on how the website is built. if the said website change something, it might not work anymore. You then have to create it again if it's still possible.
GoKunming classified (Kunming, China)


Update Scanner
This tool proved to be useful when feedity was no help. Because it's not always possible to create the feed you want.
Then, this Firefox Add-on will help you to scan regularly the webpage you want to find if anything changed. It will even tell you what changed!
For example, look at that calendar page on GoKunming... I've tried to create a feedity feed for it, but it didn't work. So I've just added the page to the Update Scanner list : Whenever they add events there, I know it quickly (you can set up how often it should scan the page):

Well, if a website doesn't give you what you want, you might be able to get it anyway. It's not perfect, I wish all webmasters would use modern tools... (and opening up their site). Sometimes, you can also ask for it, like I asked GoKunming to have a RSS feed and got it. I've been wanting to do another wishlist for them but it's just too damned long...

But I'm ranting... This post is about how to keep an eye on website you love but don't have RSS feeds :-)


[update] sorry, comment section is missing because of a blogger-Disqus issue I'm trying to fix. please email/twitter me. or comment on friendfeed.

[update2] Funny how GoKunming just changed its calendar page - to something worst - the same day I published this. When I say worst... just check it out.

[update3] March 12, 2009. Calendar has been improved from last time. Now you get all the month events on the page again. so it means you can use "Update scanner" again! Let me see if I can make Feedity feed...

[update4] not so good but here it is: