A picture of Mark Chambers, a white guy with a full beard wearing a white button-up shirt and a loosened collar and necktie.

In the early 1990s, elementary schools across the US were opening the first “computer labs”. As a 9-year-old, using an Apple IIe and being responsible for my own floppy disk was pretty cool. One of our projects was to write a short fantasy story. Once we had our final draft, we entered it into a word processor, saved it to our disk and gave it to our teacher. Each student's story — along with our own illustrations — was compiled into a book. In retrospect, there was likely a purpose behind this assignment. My first impression of the computer had been connected with creativity.

The computer lab got an upgrade almost every year. We watched it go from megahertz to gigahertz, megabytes to gigabytes, 2-tone screens to millions of colors, floppy disks to thumb drives. It was an exciting time to grow up! If that was your thing.

Public libraries 

In 1995, we purchased our first family computer, an IBM Aptiva. Having our own computer at home was very different. I stopped visiting the public libray. It was a gaming was Microsoft Paint. I recall painstakingly illustrating the front of a diesel locomotive pixel by pixel.

Our generation either embraced the computer or got by without it.

Having mastered my first video game titles like Myst, Tomb Raider, and MechWarrior II, I started dabbling with Microsoft Paint. I recall painstakingly illustrating the front of a diesel locomotive pixel by pixel. I actually found the file.

Later I got my hands on Adobe Photoshop and started experimenting with photo manipulation and layers.

“Yes, I love technology,
But not as much as you, you see,
But still I love technology,
Always and forever.”

This new hobby continued on the first floor. In my sister's bedroom sat a brand new beautiful blue and white Apple Power Macintosh G3. After adding a few more video games to my repertoire (Avernum, Cythera, Riven) I decided to put my graphics skills to practical use. I began building my own Smashing Pumpkins fan website from the ground up with the original Macromedia Dreamweaver. DW never did what you wanted it to, so I learned HTML by studying the code it generated. It was this foundation which would later help me find my way into the professional world.

I put my creativity on hold for a couple years. After working in the service sector, doing a bit of travelling and binging on games (StarCraft, Morrowind, Lineage II), it was time to think about my future. I decided to go to college and study graphic and web design — the obvious choice. I enrolled in every art and design class I could, also breaking into photography for the first time.

I bought my first Apple computer for my studies: a brand new Mac Book Pro. It was the first of the Intel line, a vintage machine. That baby was my daily driver for over 10 years. Lots of work done on it, new skills acquired and of course gaming (Age of Empires, Civilization, Railroad Tycoon). Now I'm doing things I never imagined: bringing my designs to life with content management systems. People talk about WordPress, but Drupal is where it's at. I can spend hours on end turning my ideas into realities — it's better than gaming!

Mark Chambers

You need at least version 5.5.3 of MySQL. Check your version number before you proceed:

mysql --version

1: Edit MySQL settings

1.1: Edit your MySQL config file:

sudo vi /etc/mysql/my.cnf

1.2: Add these lines in the [mysqld] section:


1.3: To load the new settings, restart MySQL:

sudo service mysql restart

2: Convert database

Before you begin:

2.1: Download script

drush @none dl utf8mb4_convert-7.x

2.2: Go to your Drupal root

cd /var/www/html

2.3: Put your site into maintenance mode

drush vset maintenance_mode 1

2.4: Run the script

drush utf8mb4-convert-databases

2.5: Update settings.php

Open settings.php in your favorite text editor:

vi /var/www/html/sites/default/settings.php

Add these lines to your database array:

'charset' => 'utf8mb4',
'collation' => 'utf8mb4_general_ci',

It should look like this:

$databases['default']['default'] = array(
  'driver' => 'mysql',
  'database' => 'databasename',
  'username' => 'username',
  'password' => 'password',
  'host' => 'localhost',
  'charset' => 'utf8mb4',
  'collation' => 'utf8mb4_general_ci',

2.6: Take your site out of maintenance mode:

drush vset maintenance_mode 0

Enjoy the emoji support!