Pointers on WordPress customization please

I’ve had my blog for a couple of weeks by now. It was hosted by MidPhase. I used it because it had good reviews and a colleague recommended it. Based on my experience so far, I am not too happy with it. I will leave that for another post.

Anyway, I am actually pretty happy with WordPress so far. The installation and initial configuration was not bad. I’ve downloaded a few themes to play with. I’ve settled on this Almost Spring theme from Becca. I did some tweaking myself, mainly on sidebar.php and style.css files. I am a newbie in both PHP and CSS.

I also studied some other people’s blogs for ideas and inspirations, mainly from Chris Hedgate and Danny Howard. That is a big help for me. Thanks guys.

I want advice on 2 issues below:
1. I thought it would be neat to create a table that stores all books that I have read. I can use that to create a WordPress page for those books. Do you know if there is a plugin just for that? I know there is a plugin for you to create tables in MySql. That is no big deal, as I can do that easily using mysql command line. The challenge for me is to write the PHP code and integrate that on the sidebar.

BTW, thanks Danny for this post, I’ve read the book. Wow, it really changed my thinking on a lot of things after reading it.

2. What tools do you use for trackbacks and ego search? I’ve used http://www.technorati.com/, but it would be nice to have a tool or plugin to do that work.

If you have some other cool tips and pointers that you can share, that will be greatly appreciated.

Pumpkin farm visit

Yesterday we did our now traditional October farm visit. It was a gorgeous day. (Speaking of gorgeous, if you say something is drop-dead gorgeous, it will surely make my six-year old first grade son laugh. For some reason he thinks the phrase drop-dead gorgeous is funny. Mom says that he got that silliness from yours truly:).

Anyway, we had a good time there. There was not a single cloud in the sky. Temperature was comfortable. The leaves are changing colors. We did the corn maze and hay ride, visited a haunted house, played in the playground. I couldn’t help but thinking of how fortunate I am, being with my family and enjoying those things that we can afford.

Here are some pictures, if I can manage to upload them and get the links right.

Update: Not sure how to upload pictures yet. It’s getting late, I will retire in a few minutes. Will look around later to see if it is possible.

Hello World


This is my first blog post. So let me start by introducing myself.

My name is Haidong Ji. I am a senior DBA in Chicago. I was a VB6/COM developer before my current position. I’ve been writing for SqlServerCentral for a couple of years now.

I grew up in a rural village in ShanDong province, China. Most people in the village have the same surname, Ji. Therefore it was aptly named as the Ji Village. I went to elementary school there. My middle school years were spent in a small town not too far from the village. I went to high school in our county town. After I flunked the college entrance exam the first time, I endured the shame of taking one more year of high school and succeeded in my second try with flying colors. I can laugh at it now, but then I was really embarrassed by that failure (Plus, the fact that I failed to enter a good middle school and good high school due to my poor exam performance didn’t really help things;). So much so that I never told any of my university classmates that I failed the first time. It felt terrible to hide that from them. I suspect there were quite a few others like me in that regard.

I went to university in Xiamen, southeast China. It was a beautiful city and I miss it a lot.

I came to the US in 1995 for my MS degree in Economics, after working/slacking in Beijing for one year. I started working in the IT industry in 1997. My formal computer science education is laughable. In Xiamen University, I took a PC(DOS) introductory course and a course on dBase. In the US, I took an introductory programming course. That is all the formal computer education I got. The rest of my IT knowledge was self taught over the years. I acquired my first PC in 1998. So when people talk about their first Commodore 64 or Sinclare, I’ve absolutely no idea of what they are talking about:)

Haidong is my given name. In Chinese, it literally means “east of the sea”. However, since I live in Chicago, I figured it would be easier for other people if I adopt a western name. I travel quite a bit, so this name has to work in most countries I travel to. Therefore, I picked Alex as my adopted western name;) I am a classic guy with a classic name, what a great combination:)

I started reading blogs about 3 years ago. I found it to be a very good way to communicate and reach a wide audience. I decided to start my own blog after I came back from PASS conference in Grapevine. Since I started my technical writing at SqlServerCentral, it makes perfect sense that I should start my blog writing here as well.

I will write a lot of Sql server related stuff here. I will focus on automation, scripting, performance, and monitoring. Hopefully you will find them interesting. And please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Please excuse the dust for the next few days/weeks, as I try to polish the design a little bit.

Update: The first few posts were copied from SqlServerCentral.com blogs. This site will be my primary blogging site. The SqlServerCentral.com blog will focus primarily on Microsoft Sql Server. This site will include that, with additional posts on everything else that I can think of.