Saturday, 28 December 2013

Gender Bending My Male Papaya Tree

Male Papaya Flowers

I am now embarking on an experiment of my own in my backyard. I am trying to get a male papaya plant, which yields no fruit by the way, to produce female flowers so that it can bear fruits. I accidentally came across some blog posts saying that this 'gender conversion' is possible. However, the details are a bit sketchy.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ripping The Content Of A DVD To A .ISO Image File

My Success With "Free DVD ISO Maker"

I have just spent the last 2 days trying to figure out a way to rip the content of my DVD and save it into the ISO image file format (a file with a .ISO extension) so that I could mount this file as a 'DVD' under Oracle VM Virtualbox. I thought this would be an easy process but it did not turn out to be so.

After various attempts, I ended up using a freeware by MiniDVDSoft called Free DVD ISO Maker that allows me to easily extract directly from the DVD and save the content into a file in the .ISO format. Virtualbox mounted the .ISO file successfully, just like a real physical DVD. Wonderful little software. And it works beautifully without any problems.

Below is a description of my other (failed) attempts. It is just for my reference and also to others who may be interested.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Minimizing NTFS Corruption In C: Drive

A "WinLogon" Event After A CHKDSK Has Been Performed Upon Rebooting

Nothing terrifies me more than to receive a message from the Windows XP operating system telling me that one of my disks needs to be checked for consistency upon booting up. I have received no less than 4 of these messages this year alone, and it always happens on the C: drive. Files and/or directories will get deleted everytime when this happens. To restore the deleted files from my backup, I will first have to look in the corresponding "WinLogon" event in Event Viewer. The list of deleted files/directories are all there. I have been lucky so far as only noncritical files were deleted - Windows is still bootable in all cases. I always do a graceful shutdown of Windows before turning off the power to my computer. So this is something that should not be happening.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Switching To Zoundry Raven From Scribefire

I have made the switch to Zoundry Raven (or Raven) as my offline blog editor of choice. In fact, I have been composing and posting my blogs with Raven since 21st September 2013.

I was using Scribefire Classic (a version that is no longer supported) on Firefox version 3 previously. I have been happily using it for about 14 months until I had problems inserting "Amazon Affiliate iframe" ads. There were other minor limitations that I have encountered previously in Scribefire Classic but I have always been able to figure out a way round them. Unfortunately there is none that I could find with these "Amazon Affiliate iframe" ads. Upgrading to Scribefire Next/Chrome would be the most logical choice but regrettably there are just too many shortcomings with the later versions - and some are really odd ones. There have been no fixes and development to Scribefire since 2011. So Scribefire Next/Chrome is a no go for me.

Raven is not perfect either. Like Scribefire, it appears to have been abandoned and its support forum has gone offline. But luckily, Raven's code is available online as it is open-source. I have peeked at the code (I have a background in computing by the way) and found the Python code to be well designed, written and easy to follow - much better than Scribefire's. I do have to put in more effort at times as I am still new to the Python programming language. And I made my first fix about a month and a half ago.

Friday, 25 October 2013

My Picture Uploads To Picasa Web Got Modified

My Picture Upload To Picasa Web

The same picture file. One gets uploaded to Picasa Web (picture above) and the other to Flickr (picture below). Can you see the difference?

My Picture Upload To Flickr

The picture that was uploaded to Flickr looks identical to what I have on my computer. But my upload to Picasa Web was not. It got modified somewhere during the upload. It became brighter and as a consequence it looks grainier, and it looks terrible. I was horrified! Definitely not what I wanted.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Picture Of A White-Throated King Fisher Up-close

I participated in the 2012 and 2013 MYGB (My Garden Birdwatch) bird count. And now, I am hooked on bird watching. Any sound that a bird makes (a chirp, a hoot, a tweet) or the ruffling of leaves in the trees now thrills me. I cannot help myself each time when this happens. I just have to take a peek outside hoping to confirm what I have heard is indeed what I have guessed; or just to take a snapshot; or simply just to admire them. Indeed, I have even identified a number of birds that I never knew existed in my neighbourhood. They were always there but I just wasn't looking.

White-Throated King Fisher

Monday, 7 October 2013

My Online Shopping Experience At Lazada Malaysia

I bought a Nikon Coolpix L27 digital camera online at Lazada Malaysia last month and what a great bargain I had. I actually saved at least RM70 compared to the next best price that I could find, either online or in local stores. The price paid includes an 8GB Panasonic SDHC memory card, a case and 2 AA sized alkaline batteries. Things went quite smoothly on the whole. I placed my order on September 15th 2013 and I paid online via debit card. I received my camera 3 days later via the local courier company GD Express. All items were packed neatly in a 18cm x 17cm x 11cm cardboard box. I think I could have received my package a day earlier if not for the public holiday on 16th September 2013.

The Lazada Box In Which The Camera And Other Items Were Packed In

Friday, 27 September 2013

Zoundry Raven: Preventing Double Line Spacing In Blogger.com

Enable "Remove Newlines" To Avoid Getting Double Line Spacing Between Paragraphs In Blogger.com

I have to enable the "Remove Newlines" option, found in the "Account Manager" dialog box, when publishing my blog post to Blogger.com. If I do not, I will get double line spacing between paragraphs.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Zoundry Raven: Inserting Amazon Affiliate "iframe" Ads

With This Modification, There Should Be A New Version For Zoundry Raven

The offline blog editor Zoundry Raven converts my Amazon Affiliate "<iframe><iframe/>" tags to "<iframe/>" upon publishing my blog posts. As a consequence, my Amazon Affiliate "iframe" ads do not get displayed correctly when viewed from the Opera desktop and Opera Mini web browsers, and perhaps on other web browsers too. What puzzles me though is that Raven displays these ads correctly while editing - albeit the ad must be inserted at the end of a blog post and no editing is allowed in the "Design" tab after these ads have been inserted. I wonder why?

The Problem

After having successfully installed the development environment, I went about searching and digging into Raven's source code and I managed to narrow down the problem to the 4Suite XML processing library that Raven uses.

For any XML tags containing empty element (elements are the text between the opening and closing tags), the tag will be represented as a single tag ended with a slash in 4Suite. Amazon Affiliate "iframe" ads have empty elements and hence, self-terminating "iframe" tags upon publishing.

My Work-around

To enable me to insert these "iframe" ads, what I did is to filter my blog post through uTidyLib just before publishing so that any invalid HTML tags generated by 4Suite will be corrected by uTidyLib (uTidyLib is just a wrapper for TidyLib, and TidyLib is just a library version of Dave Raggett's HTML Tidy, a program that fixes invalid HTML markups). To achieve this, I added 3 extra lines of code (enclosed between "# ---- START ----" and "# ---- END -----" in the code below) to the function _transformContentForPublishing in the file "zoundry\blogapp\services\pubsystems\blog\blogpublisher.py".

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ginger And Turmeric - The Best That I Have Ever Grown

My Row Of Lovely Ginger And Turmeric

I am so happy. Since moving them into the shadow of my house in April this year, I now have the healthiest and loveliest ginger and turmeric plants - the best that I have ever grown. The leaves are lusciously green with abundant foliage attached to thick stalks and shoots. And as an added bonus for me, the plants on some pots are beginning to bloom too.

A Ginger Flower Stalk - Not In Full Bloom Yet

I have been planting ginger and turmeric for about 8 years now after been inspired by a local TV documentary that I saw back then. My success have been mixed previously. Direct sunlight and ginger is actually a bad combination (likewise with turmeric as it is a plant that belongs to the ginger family). But I did not know about this until recently. Previously, I have always assumed wrongly that I had problems with the soil whenever I get ailing looking plants. I tried adding additional fertilizer and this obviously did not help. It is only later that I realized, through my own observation and confirmation from Google searches, that ginger and turmeric must be kept away from direct sunlight.

 A Young Ginger Plant

My wife loves home grown ginger and turmeric. And I like growing them. They are some of the easiest thing that I have ever grown as they do not require much care. The only pests that I can see so far are grasshoppers and garden snails, but that is not something that is unmanageable. I used to plant them in the ground, but these days, I only plant them in pots so that I can move them around easily when the need arise. I only water them like once a day at around noon - lazy me. I also mulch the top soil in the pots with garden clippings to minimize weeding.

I will need to find a new place soon for my ginger and turmeric plants as the sunlight is slowly creeping nearer and nearer towards the house as we head towards the end of the year. The sun swings from the Northern to the Southern sky between the June and December solstice, and then back again from the Southern to the Northern sky between January and May. Some sunlight is already touching the outer and top leaves on some pots at noon.

A Turmeric Plant - Can You Spot The Flower?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Setting Up Zoundry Raven's Development Environment

When Push Comes To Shove

The offline blog editor Zoundry Raven self-terminates my Amazon Affiliate iframe tags. It converts my <iframe><iframe/> tags to <iframe/> upon publishing my blog posts. And my Amazon Ads do not get displayed correctly when viewed from the Opera web browser. I reported this issue at Zoundry Raven's Open Source website, but I received no reply. I tried accessing the Raven's support forum but it seems to have gone offline. So the only thing that I could do is to install the Raven's development environment, peek at its source code and try to fix this problem myself, if possible.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Displaying Amazon "iframe" Ads Without The Scroll Bar In Scribefire

As I have mentioned previously, a scroll bar will appear when I place an Amazon "iframe" ad in Scribefire Chrome for Opera, resulting in the ad not being displayed as it should while editing, and indeed after publishing, while in "Edit Visually" mode.

After having gathered enough courage to peek at Scribefire's source code, I am glad that I have found a fix to this problem (see Note 1 below on extracting the source code from the Scribefire Extension file "scribefire-4.oex").

This is what I did to remove the scroll bar. I appended additional parameters to line 964 in the file "events.js" - they are actually just parameters found in the code given by Amazon that were not defined in this line. Below is how the line looks before modification:

extended_valid_elements : "iframe[title|width|height|src|frameborder|allowfullscreen]",

My modified line now reads:

Friday, 19 July 2013

Inserting Amazon Affiliate "iframe" Ads With Scribefire

Scribefire Classic Fails With "iframe" Ads

I use Scribefire Classic (version on Firefox (version 3.6.8) to compose my blogs. I tried inserting three Amazon affiliate "iframe" ads into my blog post last week and failed. Not only did the ads not get displayed in the Scribefire's "Rich Editing" tab, but upon publishing and accessing my blog post from Opera desktop and Opera Mini, only one ad was displayed instead of three.

When I looked at the HTML source (by selecting "source" when I right click in Opera desktop), I noticed that the "iframe" tags in my Amazon ads were modified by Scribefire upon publishing. The closing tag "</iframe>" was dropped and the opening tag was modified by making it self-terminating for each inserted ad. For example, the tag code provided by Amazon was:

Sunday, 30 June 2013

My Contribution To The 2013 MY Garden Birdwatch Survey

Common Garden Birds In Malaysia - Picture Taken From http://www.mygardenbirdwatch.com

Here is my contribution to the 2013 MYGB bird count (MY Garden Birdwatch) - an annual survey of garden birds in Malaysia, initiated by the birdwatching chapter of the Malaysian Nature Society. I did my bird counting of my front garden up on the first floor from my bedroom window on 15th June 2013, between 4:15pm and 4:45pm. This is the second year that I am participating in this survey. Participation is voluntary. I find that the count is more or less the same as last years. I did my count last year on 3rd June 2012 between 4:00pm and 4:30pm.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Revoking Picasa Access Rights From Scribefire

I do not use Scribefire, a free Mozilla Firefox add-on offline blog editor, for uploading my blog pictures to Picasa Web Albums anymore. Instead, I am now using Picasa3 Desktop. Uploading pictures via Scribefire is a little rigid and the pictures' file names do not get set upon a successfully upload. In contrast, Picasa3 Desktop has more options - like selecting a destination web album to upload to for example - and I do not lose my pictures' file names.

The right thing to do, since I do not use it anymore, is to revoke all access rights that I have granted to the website www.scribefire.com previously. After some searching, I finally found the URL for doing this - which is at the Google "Account Overview" page, and not at Picasa Web Albums website. Yes, a little misleading.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Faster Page Loading With Google+ Mobile On The Desktop

Mobile sites are websites that are designed to be viewed from a mobile device, like on a mobile phone for example. They are simpler in design and more focused. I love using mobile sites, quite simply because I can get faster page loading time on a desktop browser even though I am still using a slow 50kbps dial-up line. I am not really into those dynamic and interactive web pages. So the absence of such feature on mobiles sites is not a problem for me.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Daily Programme Summary For TV Alhijrah

I have finally found it. I have been looking for this for quite some time now. There are actually some decent shows and documentaries on TV Alhijrah. And the list of TV programmes for the day for TV Alhijrah can actually be found at their Facebook page.

TV Alhijrah's Facebook Posting - Programme Summary For The Day

Now, if only the other Malaysian TV stations would follow suit since most Malaysian newspapers have stop publishing complete daily TV programme summary for quite some time now. A bit unfortunate and unconvenient I think.

Update (4th July 2013)

TV Alhijrah has stopped posting the list of programmes for the day at their Facebook page, as mentioned above. Instead you can now find it at their website at the following URL : http://www.tvalhijrah.com/jadual-rancangan.aspx - not just for the day but for the week and with synopsis too. Yeah!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Building Up My Flock Of Seramas Again

I have to build up my flock of Seramas (or "ayam cantik") again after losing 5 of them to a python last month. I have always hatched my chicks naturally. Serama hens always go broody after laying around 9 or 10 eggs. However, this time I have to let a first time hen sit on the eggs. My reliable hens died last month because of that python.

5 Week Old Chick With Its Mother

The picture above is the latest addition to my flock - a 5 week old baby chick. I was hoping for more but things were just not meant to be. The hen laid a total of 7 eggs, but I removed 3 as I noticed that the hen had trouble sitting on all 7 eggs. Of the 4 eggs, only 2 hatched and only 1 chick survived. The other chick had trouble breaking out from its shell. I tried helping but the chick was just too weak. The lone surviving chick actually looks a little weak too during the first 7 days. But luckily it survived.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Google+ On Opera Mini

Google+ On Opera Mini Accessed Via URL http://plus.google.com/app/basic/stream

I am now accessing Google+ on Opera Mini via the URL http://plus.google.com/app/basic/stream. This is the only URL that I know of that will give me a decent looking Google+ Stream on Opera Mini. I have tested it on a mobile phone and also on a J2ME (Java Micro Edition) emulator running under Windows XP (I am using MicroEmulator). They display perfectly, much to my satisfaction.

Accessing Google+ Via Opera Mini's Pre-configured Speed Dial

When accessing Google+ via the "Speed Dial" that came pre-configured with Opera Mini Version 5 and 7, most of the Google+ options will go missing. They were there previously but for some reason they have gradually disappeared over the last couple of weeks, making the Google+ page looking rather plain and uninteresting. I wonder what happened?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Turmeric Flowers

Before I started planting them, I did not know that turmeric produces flowers.

Turmeric Flower

I have been fortunate enough to have some flowering turmeric during the last couple of weeks. It is not often that I get a bloom. Sometimes, I do not get any even though the plant has matured and the root is due to be dug up. One has to be patient sometimes I suppose.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Dwindling Number Of Garden Snails

Empty Snail Shells - What Is Killing Them?Back in February and March 2013, there were a few blog postings at Ipoh Happenings talking about some extreme levels of solar UV radiation that was bombarding Ipoh back then. The weather in Ipoh has definitely been quite extreme in recent months. I can feel in it my skin while doing my gardening. The day time temperature can be quite unbearable at times. And this can drag on for a number of days, sometimes without any rain to cool us off.

I do wonder though if this excessive UV radiation and extreme heat is taking a toll on the snails in my garden. There seems to be a significant drop in their numbers, although nothing much has changed in my environment. There is still enough shady places for them to hide. I first noticed this back in January 2013. At that time, I could not find any live snail but just some empty snail shells under some shrubs and overgrown weeds. I had a peek at my garden again yesterday, and all I could find was just a single snail, measuring about 2 inches in length. Still a lot of empty snail shells, although the colour of these shells do appear to be fading.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spicing Up My Garden With Ginger

Lovely Ginger

Mixed Yield

Over the years, my success with growing ginger have been mixed. At times the yield was good. At times, all I got were just skinny ginger roots. And at other times, there was nothing at all - the ginger that I planted just rotted away instead of sprouting.

Ginger Plant That Has Been Grown Under Direct Sunlight

I have had my suspicion with the pot placement. I grow them in pots instead of the ground, by the way. Pots placed under shadier area seems to produce healthier looking plants with bigger and better ginger roots. For pots placed under direct sunlight, young shoots will just turn yellow and eventually dry up. Or will have leaf stalks that are just about 12 inches in length (when it should be about 2 to 2½ feet) with skinny ginger roots.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Some Restriction With FlashGet At Oracle

I tried downloading the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) from the Oracle website using FlashGet but failed. It seems that Oracle has placed some restriction in using a download manager utility software (FlashGet in my case) in performing downloads. I wonder why? I never had this problem 5 or 6 years ago when Java was still owned by Sun Microsystems - albeit I have to use Sun's own download manager. If not for a dial-up line, I do not need to use FlashGet.

McAfee SiteAdvisor Says That The Site oldapps.com Is Safe

In the end, I downloaded the JRE from http://oldapps.com/ - with FlashGet. Fearing for Trojans, Virus or Malware, I scanned the download file with Avira and it appears to be clean. To be safe, I double checked the site http://oldapps.com/ with McAfee SiteAdvisor and it reports that the site is safe.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Scribefire Can Only Retrieve The Last 25 Posts

It seems that there is a limit to the number of posts that ScribeFire (an offline blog editor) can retrieve from my blog. All that I can see is just the last 25 posts when ScribeFire connects to my blog. For the moment, I will have to use the online blog editor at Blogger for any updates to my older blog posting that ScribeFire does not retrieve. This defeats my purpose of using an offline blog editor in the first place. I have been happily using ScribeFire for about 8 months, but now I am disappointed.

It is a pity really. Although it is no longer supported, I find ScribeFire Classic version for Firefox to be quite a decent offline blog editor - and to be the best among all versions of ScribeFire. I am using ScribeFire on Firefox version 3.6.8.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

One Snake Too Many

Help! A Python

I do wonder why has there been an increase in the number of snake encounters around my house in recent months. Between 1998 and 2011, we have had only 3. But during the last 12 months, my wife and I have had 5. The latest being on the morning of 3rd March 2013 when I found a python in one of my Ayam Cantik's (a bantam breed of chicken) chicken coop. 3 out of 5 chickens were killed - 1 missing, presumably eaten, 1 being coiled and another lying motionless. I had to call the Fire Department (the default snake catchers in Malaysia) to help me remove the python. It is about 6 feet in length.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Accessing Facebook Via Facebook Mobile Site From My PC

With a dial-up line and a 14 year old Windows 98 PC, accessing Facebook via the URL http://www.facebook.com/ is a pain for me. Compared with Firefox version 3.6.8, the Opera web browser provided some improvement in terms of speed in rendering the Facebook pages. But on the whole, things are still crawling. Disabling the loading of graphic images does not help much. It has more to do with the heavy usage of Javascripts, I believe.

Facebook Mobile Site http://m.facebook.com

It is a welcome relief when I started accessing Facebook via the Facebook Mobile Site http://m.facebook.com/ on my desktop PC. My experience on Facebook has certainly improved. I have been using this URL instead of http://www.facebook.com for about a week now. With less graphics and Javascripts, the responsiveness of Opera is certainly much better, even when I have 3 other tabs opened simultaneously in Opera - and this is on a Windows 98 PC with 128 MB RAM and AMD 333MHz processor. Also, I do noticed that hard disk activity is significantly less compared to previously.

The user interface design of the Facebook Mobile Site is definitely plain, with not much bells and whistles. But I believe all the functions on Facebook that one normallly use are still there. I think I will be adding more Facebook Pages to my news feeds in the days to come. I could not do much previously as Opera was crawling all the time when loading Facebook.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Converting YouTube's .FLV files to .MKV format

This is what I did to convert YouTube's .FLV files to the .MKV format with Avidemux. Video and audio in the .FLV files are encoded in the H264 and AAC codec, respectively.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

FM Radio Stations In Ipoh

Playlist In Winamp - List Of Local FM Radio Stations In Ipoh

Here is a list of FM radio stations that I can tune in to in Ipoh. There is a total of 21 radio stations in all. I do not think I have missed any out. I wish I could tune in to more FM radio stations like what they have in the Klang Valley, especially the news and talk radio stations (e.g. BFM - The Business Station).

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Traxx FM, Broadcasting To Ipoh In Stereo But Audio Output Is In Mono

Gnomeradio - TraxxFM

One can tell if a radio broadcast on the FM band is in stereo by just looking at the LED indicator on a radio set. When a broadcast is in stereo, the LED indicator will be illuminated.

One can tell if the audio output is really in stereo by using a pair of stereo headphones, or by just placing ones head directly in the middle between a pair of speakers of a radio and listen attentively. In mono, the audio output in the left and right speakers will be the same, while in stereo it will be different.

I find it strange that RTM's Traxx FM (formerly Radio 4, Blue Network) is broadcasting to Ipoh in stereo but its audio output for music and jingles is in mono. I have tried it with 2 radio sets, Winamp TV (on Windows XP), and Gnomeradio (on Ubuntu) and it is all the same. It has not always been this way though. I have some tapings of BBC World Service's "Top Of The Pops" that were broadcast about a year ago by Traxx FM and all were in stereo till around January 30th 2012. Everything went mono after that. And it still is today. I wonder why? Perhaps somebody forgot to flip on a switch or something at the transmitting station at Kledang Hill.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Where Are The Free FM Radio Tuners For Windows?

Winamp Playlist - List Of FM Radio Stations

I find it odd that there are not many free FM Radio tuner software for the Windows platform. FM Tuners for Linux, yes - and with the source code too. But for Windows there is none. The best that I could find is just a plug-in for Winamp called Winamp TV version 1.9Beta8 - the page on this link says version 1.9lite10 but upon installation the Winamp TV documentation says version 1.9Beta8.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Defective Card Reader From DSTT

DSTT For NDS With Card Reader

I just found out that the card reader that came along with the DSTT For NDS cartridge is defective (see http://www.dgemu.com/forums/index.php/topic/400563-flashcart-dsttttds/). During the last 3 years or so, I have always been curious as to why IPodDS will misbehave, or why MoonShell or any other .NDS program will not load successfully after some months of DS usage. A reformat and a restore from backup to the MicroSD is the only option when this happens. For a time, I was having suspicion that I have got a defective MicroSD flash memory card, but I was having trouble believing this.

Guess I have to get a new card reader now. A multi-card reader would be a better investment for the long run I suppose.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Cranky Power Button On My Nintendo DS Lite

I thought I have found an alternative way to power on my Nintendo DS Lite by simultaneously pressing the L, R and X button without using the side Power Button slide switch. After doing some thorough investigation, it turns out that I was wrong.

The Power Button has been cranky for about 4 months now. There was a time when the DS will power itself on without anyone touching it - and it can even turn itself off sometimes. This morning, I found out that I could trigger the DS to power itself on/off by just pressing down hard on the X button. And if I have used the slide switch, and everything is just in the right orientation somewhere in the DS, a gentle push on the X button is all it needs.

Still, this is an option that I could use when the power slide switch is not responsive.

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