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Ivan Teoh

Something personal yet public

As a toastmasters member, I keep remind myself, I must attend one of the toastmasters meeting in Beijing. This week, I decided to have a very early dinner and attend it at A1 Toastmasters Club.

The meeting was held in the training room. Once I entered the room, I was greeted by a friendly girl named Tina. She handed over me a registration form, agenda of the meeting and speeches evaluation form. On that day the meeting was hosted by Cheryl. Great opening with sharing with us some Chinese poems. The theme of that meeting was "Things behind the beauty". Word of the day is "supposed to". After explaining each of the roles by Addy, impromptu speech started with very interesting title. One of them is giving reason on choosing either buying one house with parents or buying two houses for himself and his parents. During the break, Kevin, VP membership, came to all the guests and introduced himself. After the break, three speakers attempted their Competent Communicator (CC) manual speech. After this, the speakers will be evaluated and followed by reports from ah counter, grammarian and timer. Lastly, Tina confirmed next meeting's roles. At 9pm, the meeting dismissed. Attending toastmasters meeting always a knowledgeable experience.

Having dinner at Le Petit Gourmand was an interesting experience. It wasn't just an restaurant. It is a library too. That's what my friend said when he first enter this place.

This place was nicely decorated. Although the place is lighted up with dim ceiling lamps. They also put reading lamps on some of the table for guests that like to have a nice reading session there. My friend ordered a couscous. Another friend ordered a mushroom soup. Although it is a common western soup, she said she had the best mushroom soup in Beijing so far. She kept praising the soup whole evening. I order a seafood dish. It was three prawns wrapping with Sole, a type of flat fish and spinach mashed potatoes. Lastly, we ordered opera and egg white custard as deserts.

I had a great day yesterday. Since it is my last weekend in Beijing, on this short trip assignment, I decide to visit Huanghuacheng (Yellow Flower City, 黄花城) Great Wall. Some called it Lakeside Great Wall (水长城). As this Great Wall is nearby a lake and a reservoir.

Very early morning, I took bus no. 916 at Dongzhimen (东直门) from Beijing (北京) and reach Huairou Coach Station (怀柔汽车站) at in Huairou (怀柔). With a travel card, it will cost RMB4.80. After one hour and twenty minutes, I met up my friend at coach station. He had been to Lakeside Great Wall for many times. He know the way reaching there. We need to take another local bus to reach the intercity bus station. This bus station is located 4 stops to north by taking local bus no. 916 outer ring (外环). It will cost RMB0.80 with travel card. The area of the intercity bus station is called Yujiayuan (于家园) near Xiaobaiyang market (小白羊市场). From there, we took intercity bus that costs RMB3.60 with travel card to Lakeside Great Wall (水长城). We spent quite a long time waiting for the bus. After we asked the bus conductor, she said the bus interval is 40min for off peak and 20min for peak season. We spend around one and a half hours on the bus. After we reached there, it almost noon. We had a lunch before we enter the reserve area. The entrance ticket is RMB25 per person. Different experience. We did not climb the Great Wall. We mainly just walk around the lake and see the Great Wall from different angle. Interesting trip I would said.

After video tag supported in Firefox 3.5, we would like my AVI video to convert to open standard video format, OGG. How? Currently, we believe the easiest way would be through VLC. The screenshots that shown below are using VLC version 1.0. The steps on converting AVI to OGG are as below:

  1. On the main window, click Media > Convert / Save menu item to open Open Media dialog.
  2. Click Add... to select avi files that are needed to convert to ogg format.
  3. Click Convert / Save button to open Convert dialog.
  4. On the Convert dialog, click Browse button to open Save file... dialog.
  5. After the path is selected and the file name is written, click Save button.
  6. Select Video - Theora + Vorbis (OGG) for the profile settings.
  7. Click Start button in Convert dialog to start the converting process.

After we have one OGG file, for example video.ogg, we test it out with the html code below in Firefox 3.5.

107-theme.html (Source)

<video width="427" height="240" controls="controls">
    <!-- Adjust width and height to match your video -->
    <source src="video.ogg" type="video/ogg" />
    <!-- Firefox 3.5 will play this -->

Since it is new apartment, it means it is an empty cell and waiting for renovation. It was an interesting experience. As if I am buying the apartment in Beijing. It is beyond fifth ring road. It is near Huoying (霍营) line 13 subway station. But currently south gate of this subway station haven't open for public. It will took about 40 min from this subway station to the apartment. On the other hand, taking bus no. 691 will reach at the apartment on the last stop (北京轮胎厂). Interesting, they used solar energy for energy saving and environment friendly. I like it. After that, we had our lunch at Xie Lao Song Spicy Crab (蟹老宋香锅) around 2pm.

Last Sunday, we had a crazy idea during our lunch. Instead of going to crab island (蟹岛), we decided to try the super fast train from Beijing to Tianjin in half an hour. The train ticket is cost RMB58 one way. I watched the display inside the train. The maximum speed was 330km/h. After reaching at Tianjin, we walked around the city, seeing the many different design of bridges and some of the historical buildings. Nowadays they converted most of them to banks. After these, we took a taxi to Tianjin airport. My friend told me that we got cheated. The taxi driver took a longer way. He drive us to the south of the city and then highway to the airport. It costs us RMB50. On the way home, we took a van that cost RMB10 per person from the airport to Tianjin train station. It is a service from the Tianjin airport. This time we noticed, the van driver took a shorten path, WeiGuoDao (卫国道). Later we grabbed a simple dinner and took a slow train (RMB19) back to Beijing. By the time I reach home was 10pm. A half day interesting trip to Tianjin.

After shopping at China brands factory outlets (天兰尾货奥特莱斯) in DaZhongSi (大钟寺), we went to Tibetan vegetarian restaurant (香阳小筑) for lunch. Although the entrance is small, the space was quite big when we were inside. It was decorated with Tibetan theme. At the two of the wall, they put some books. I don't know these are for sell or user to read. Beside serving food, they also sell vegetarian food that we can buy and cook ourself. In general, the food was tasty and not too salty.

Do you notice any different on my home page? Yes. It is not longer very static informations. It does have a brief introduction. Of course, that is static. Then there are two parts that are dynamic information. The first one is the recent posts of my blog. The second one is some random images from my gallery. How these can be done? You can refer to the references below. The final home page template is shown as below.

102-index.php (Source)

 * @package WordPress
 * @subpackage Your_Theme
Template Name: Home
get_header(); ?>
<div id="container">
<div id="content">
<div class="entry-title">
</div><!-- .entry-title -->
<div class="entry-content">
<p>This place for sharing the things that I know. Hope you guys like it.</p>
</div><!-- .entry-content -->
<div class="entry-title">
<h2><a href="./blog/" title="Blog">Blog</a>: What's Fresh</h2>
</div><!-- .entry-title -->
<div class="entry-content">
$how_many=8; //How many posts do you want to show
$news=$wpdb->get_results("SELECT ID, post_title FROM $wpdb->posts
    WHERE `post_type`=\"post\" AND `post_status`= \"publish\" ORDER BY
    `post_date` DESC LIMIT $how_many");
 foreach($news as $np){
    printf ("<li><a href=\"index.php?p=%s\">%s</a></li>",
</div><!-- .entry-content -->
if (function_exists("nggDisplayRandomImages")) {
<div class="entry-title">
<h2><a href="./gallery/" title="Gallery">Gallery</a>: Random Images</h2>
</div><!-- .entry-title -->
</div><!-- #content -->
</div><!-- #container -->
<?php get_sidebar(); ?>
<?php get_footer(); ?>

After using Google Analytics for few months, we are very happy with it. Today we knew about Google webmaster central. This site contains lots of webmaster resources including tools that helping to improve traffic to our site.

After we start to use the site, we realize that we need to have Sitemaps in my site. We found this WordPress plugin, Google XML Sitemaps. This WordPress plugin will auto generate a XML sitemap whenever the content of the site is changed. Both sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz will be generated at the root folder after activating the plugin and clicking the setting to build the files for the first time. Then at Google webmaster central, we need to verify our site by inserting meta data on WordPress header template file. Google webmaster tools will auto detect the sitemap file of the site. The rest will be exploring other features available in Google webmaster tools.