Monthly Archives: January 2009

No More Strangeness

It took a little bit of effort but the stange characters that WordPress was displaying through a significant number of posts have now been removed.

I went looking briefly about what might have caused the problem and can confirm that it is related to the character encoding in MySQL. There are numerous posts in the official WordPress support forums and on blogs dating back to 2006 – so it isn’t a new problem at all.

After removing them from the site, I’ve subsequently verified that the database encoding is UTF-8 and WordPress is publishing in UTF-8 according to the content type in the meta data. That makes me think that those strange characters could have been present in my site from an earlier upgrade of WordPress and I’ve just never noticed it before.

I think this might be karma for not doing enough housekeeping on my site.

Year In Review

Hugo Lattimore in Dad's arms when he was approximately 4 months oldTime just seems to keep on zipping by and 2008 is already behind us.

I think I can safely say that last year was the most incredible year that I’ve ever experienced and it has everything to do with Hugo. I  had no idea that a single little person could have such a profound impact on your life but it has been magnificent.

At the end of 2007 and the start of last year, I had a seemingly endless run in with different fauna:

Thankfully since the start of the year, we haven’t had any more wasp stings, massive cockroaches or cane toads inside the house.

At a similar time to all that going on, I bought the insides of a new computer to help re-establish my geek prowess and for the first time in a long time – had a bit of trouble with things. First off it was the power supply whirring, which took longer to fix than it should have. That was followed by a video card making high pitch squealing noises. After far too many weeks and months had passed, I finally got everything back together and now the fan on the video card is playing up! One of these days I’ll get everything sorted and I’ll have a fully functional and very fast desktop computer.

April saw a bit of activity as we were able to get out and about a little bit. We travelled out to Somerset Dam for Phil’s birthday bash with family and friends. Phil and Cam brought their new jet skis with them and I came very close to being bucked off the back while Cam was driving at a moderate pace. It’s been about five years since I’d ridden a jet ski, so I’d forgotten how much power they have and how aggressively you can turn them – it was great. I got to go and watch the Gold Coast Titans play the New Zealand Warriors at the new Skilled Stadium at Robina. The stadium was great, easy to get to with public transport (no on-site parking) and the venue itself was easy to navigate. We both went and saw The Phantom of the Opera as a present to Claire from her parents and it was positively magnificent – I’d see it again in a heartbeat. At the end of the month, I set up a blog for Andrew & Belinda which they’ve taken to with gusto – now I just have to get the others to get one!

July and August saw Claire and I attend antenatal classes on the Gold Coast. Over the five different antenatal classes, for the impending birth, we both learned a lot. Our instructor, Alex, was young and energetic and delivered each class really well. She was open to what probably seemed like odd questions too. I was surprised that the average age of our class would have been close to 35 and after watching some of the videos during the classes, I developed a whole new level of respect for women and the human form!

September saw the arrival of Hugo Rankin Lattimore at 12:50PM on Thursday 4th September. Claire was due to have Hugo at the end of August or possibly the first day in September but that wasn’t to be. Following is a brief chronological list of events from the day in question:

  1. 12:00AM: Induction
  2. 08:00AM: Waters broken
  3. 08:30AM: Drip attached to bring on contractions
  4. 09:00AM: Things are underway
  5. 10:30AM: Epidural
  6. 11:00AM: Action stations!
  7. 12:50PM: Hello baby!

From that time onwards, our lives have been changed forever and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We noticed early on that Hugo has definitely inherited some skin colouring from Claire. I’ve posted three major updates since then, 1 month, 2 months and 4 months. At the moment, Hugo is still growing like a little trooper and weighs in at approximately 8.8Kg and 70cm long. Those sorts of figures put him right at the top end of the growth charts for a baby of his age. It may sound like a lot but he is in good proportion and certainly isn’t overweight – just a big boy, which I think is awesome!

I suspect we’re no different to most other new parents in that we had a limited amount of knowledge about how to care for a newborn child. Over that time, we’ve stumbled and fumbled our way through, learning as we go, which has been really rewarding. Claire has been positively magnificent with Hugo, the understanding, care and compassion she shows him amazes me daily. One thing that I’ve come to realise, with a little help from Claire, is that babies will do baby things, whenever they want. Early on in the piece, I had an expectation that they’d know what was best for them (instinctively) and would march along to their own beat. At times that didn’t happen and I’d get frustrated because I thought I wasn’t able to do the whole baby thing. As it turns out, I was just anxious and not long after, I found my own drumbeat to march to.

December is meant to be relaxing, with Christmas and the new year to ring in – however this year it was rather busy. Mid-month we made our way up to the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre to attend Lucy’s graduation and were pretty disappointed with the parenting facilities (how life changes!) and the lack lustre cafe. We embarked on our first major road trip with Hugo on our way out to Chinchilla – approximately four hours worth of driving. We weren’t sure how that was going to pan out but with a little planning, it was smooth sailing and no screaming! Christmas was meant to be a low-key affair this year, however that just didn’t happen – I don’t think I’ve seen so many presents before in my life and soon thereafter I turned 28 and got more wicked presents!

Early indicators suggest that 2009 is going to be a bender, I can’t wait to see what it offers.

Strange Characters

Strange non-ASCII characters being inserted into WordPress postsWhile reviewing a swag of older posts tonight, I noticed some strange characters throughout my posts.

The strange characters were not something that I’d have put there, they don’t make sense and are rather random. Some of them there is a pattern to, for instance a single quote seems to be consistently replaced with three different characters.

At a guess, it looks to be some sort of an encoding problem. I doubt that it’ll be a problem with WordPress itself as it multi-lingual capable, so it’ll probably be something to do with the rich WYSIWYG editor that WordPress uses or possibly a database encoding issue.

2008 Blogging Statistics

Matt Mullenweg and Alex King have posted some blogging statistics again in their respective end of year posts. Being an curious kind of chap, I wondered what my own blogging habits have been over the years.

2004 1 478 487 0 0.0
2005 82 1949 159835 511 12.7
2006 103 1837 189259 865 4.5
2007 127 1977 251150 229 1.0
2008 68 1597 108623 78 0.6

The longer posts are typically caused by rants to do with things like Australian Idol, which coincidentally also tend to generate a lot of comments. The higher frequency of posting in the past has also been made up of technical style posts, which after realising I had a bit of a split personality – I have moved over to #if debug.

For those that are interested in doing the same, I have modified the SQL that Alex used initially to generate his results so that it’ll collate the blogging statistics for all years at once. Computers are good at computing and laziness is a virtue of a programmer.