I converted over the long table of Russian ship names last weekend, a task that, remarkably, turned out to be even more tedious than I had imagined. Somewhere in the course of doing endless find-and-replace searches to strip out useless tags inserted by Microsoft FrontPage, I realized that managing these things would be a lot easier if only I would step out of 1998 and actually put some of this stuff into a database. (This would also simplify updates to the air campaign tables, which currently exist as five separate hard-coded web pages.)
So, the lunacy continues: I am now learning MySQL/PHP. Hope to have a test database up this weekend.
Ma Xing and Zhang Jun may believe their obsession with all things military is just a hobby. That may be true but earlier this week, they saw something that made headlines across the world, and turned them into celebrities.
They got some of the earliest glimpses of China’s first stealth fighter plane.
In December, after word about a possible radar-evading plane circulated on the Internet, both men began monitoring a local airport widely considered the home base of such planes.
This is the PRC, mind you, where traditional attitudes toward “state secrets” are not ordinarily conducive to amateurs watching “local airports” where unannounced fifth-generation stealth fighters happen to be based. Especially amateurs with websites:
Each time he saw something worthy of sharing, he told his friend, who passed it on to Zhang, 32, another military fan in Jiangsu Province. Zhang posted the information on fyjs.cn, a military forum he established in 2004.
On Tuesday, after Ma saw the J-20, he immediately called his friend, and Zhang did not wasted a moment before he posted the news on his website.
Domestic newspapers, such as Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post, referred to Zhang’s website. Zhang was surprised that even the Wall Street Journal quoted his website.
“I thought the website was just a platform for interaction between military enthusiasts. I did not think that both the domestic and foreign media will be concerned about it,” Zhang said. “The military strength of China is enhancing, which enables the country to have an impact on the international stage.”
Official, unofficial, or “unofficial,” the proliferation of open sources on Chinese military modernization makes for an interesting picture. The times, they do change.