ten years | random

Ten years. I’ve added at least one post a day since July 2007. Sometimes I backpost a week’s worth of posts, yes. And other times the post of the day is pure filler. But still, thousands of posts.

Just for fun, I generated a few random dates and went back to see what I posted on that day.

29 june 2009

Another anniversary, the walkman was 30 years old, which means it’ll be 40 years old in 2019. Crikey. I think I still have this Walkman in my desk drawer, and some tapes mm and I recorded for each other in our early days. I don’t have my case of mixed tapes anymore though.

7 may 2013

geir168fjord

We were on our scandanavian cruise and on that day we reached Geiranger. Even now I remember the beauty of the fjords. We docked early in the morning and it was a tender port. Walked a bit to the waterfall, the fjord centre and around the port. Didn’t go on any excursions. The scenery as we sailed out was spectacular.

12 july 2007

Wow, this is freaky! Exactly 10 years ago. Day 15 of my big trip. I’d started with an awful delay experience at JFK (the last time I flew delta and likely the last time ever). I rented a car and drove in the night, by myself, from JFK to Chicago. 19hrs, I think. Then Car and I went on a road trip to Fort Worth and Washington DC, arriving on 4 July to watch the fireworks. Got back to Chicago and on that day we went to an outlet mall. A restful and boring day.

website hacked

hacked201703

The website is down. Got an email from ISP support saying it was hacked via FTP so they changed the FTP password, locked the website and restored from backup. I can’t remember when was the last time I used the FTP function, so I’m going to leave it disabled. Changed CP password and scanned the mba too. Very annoyed it’s been one issue after another since I had to switch to WP.

one year on wordpress

cpuminutes201612

When my old website conked out because it became incompatible with Movable Type, I was forced to switch to WordPress. Exactly one year ago, I finished moving all 4,000 posts to WP. It was a massive copy and paste exercise that took a few weeks. I took the opportunity to put static pages to the travel and food sections, and the new look website went live.

So how has it been, one year on WP? Truth be told, I don’t feel comfortable using it. I can’t put my finger on it. There’s nothing wrong with the interface, it’s easy and straightforward to add a post. But still, it’s not MT. For some unknown reason it’s using up a lot of CPU minutes and try as I might, I can’t figure out how to reduce the usage. Googling hasn’t helped. My ISP says it may be due to the dashboard being open and I’ve gotten so paranoid that I’m writing posts on textedit and copying them over. It’s NOT how I want to operate. It’s gotten better recently though but again I cannot explain why and I hate being in the dark.

Posts take forever to save, tags need to be separated by commas, categories have to be selected via a long scroll in a tiny window, I can’t get the RSS to feed full post: these are all negatives in my book. Small things, but they add up to a not quite happy experience. I know there are plenty of add-ons and themes and stuff like that but I don’t feel like tinkering is intuitive. I still don’t know how and where I should be editing files.

There seems to be always someone trying to hack into the website. So much so that my ISP had to add a password to the admin files and it’s screwed up other files too. Annoying.

I know i can’t go back to MT and I’m stuck with WP. Story of my life, being stuck in a situation with no way out. Hate.

WP theme, donation begging

sosimpletheme

I grudgingly make the concession that one of the best things about WP is that I can change themes with just a few clicks. I found one called SoSimple that is, well, so simple. I tweaked it a little, disabled the forced uppercase and changed the link colour. I still need to increase the padding on main entries, but other than that, it’s clean, sharp and uncluttered.

The only problem is that every time I go to the dashboard there is a donation begging notice from the developer.

sosimpledonation

It’s a bit small on the image, it says:

Hi! This is Fernando, developer of the SoSimple theme :).
I am doing my best to make SoSImple [sic] the perfect free theme for you. If you think it helped you in any way to build a better web presence, please support its continued development and updates with a donation of $20, $50,…

I understand that the dev has put in a lot of time and effort to create the free theme. Same with devs working on plugins and everything else available on the web for free. But forcing a begging notice on users is not the way to go. It’s tacky. Like authors who are constantly posting “buy my book” on social media; the good intention becomes a turn off.

A little digging reveals the begging button and text are in the file admin.php. I thought deleting the file would solve the problem, but it wasn’t so simple (pun not intended). There change needs to be in functions.php that calls admin.php. I commented the whole section out:

/**
* Add admin notices

add_action ( ‘current_screen’, ‘thisScreen’ );
function thisScreen () {
$currentScreen = get_current_screen();
if( $currentScreen->id === “dashboard” ) {
add_action ( ‘admin_notices’, ‘donation_notice’ );
add_action ( ‘admin_head’, ‘donation_style’ );
}
}

function donation_notice () {
require get_template_directory () . ‘/lib/admin.php’;
}

function donation_style () {
wp_enqueue_style ( ‘don-style’, get_template_directory_uri () . ‘/lib/admin-style.css’, array (), ” );
}

*/

I don’t have any qualms about doing this. The whole philosophy behind WP is that it’s free. If a dev wants to make money, make a premium version, or offer support for a subscription. Anyway, looking at the code, it’s obvious that the dev intends for the begging to continue regardless of whether the user has donated or not. Every time I navigate to the dashboard, I’d get the notice which I then have to dismiss. Again, tacky.

#websiterebuild recipes menu

Took an easier approach with the recipes section. As I only have around 120 recipe posts in total and I’m not bothered about putting them in any sort of order within their corresponding category, I used the functionality that converts a custom page to a menu item.

If I wanted the recipe for chocolate truffles, I can click on the FOOD menu and select DESSERT. In fact, clicking FOOD calls all posts tagged with recipe.

websitefood

I like looking at recipes, especially ones with pictures. So I don’t mind scrolling down till I see chocolate truffles.

websitechoctruffle

I just have to make sure I tag a recipe post using one of the menu items. I can also change the menu items quickly, as long as I have a tag for it. The other advantage is I can tag, say, vegetarian lasagne both main and vegetable and it shows up under both menus. Honestly, I could have done this with the travel section, but it’s more important trips are listed in an orderly manner.

In terms of website rebuild, this is 95% of everything I want to do. Personal 25 square pages remain, and I have to figure out the best way to display them that doesn’t involve faffing around with css. Otherwise, switching to maintenance mode.

#websiterebuild travel menu

All the individual trip reports have been merged to the main section and identified by categories/tags. So what used to be in MT terms its own blog, is now incorporated into the site proper.

I could just leave it at that. If I want read about, say, that time we went to Alsace for wine tasting, I could simply do a search for travel,alsace and scroll through the results. Except I hadn’t tagged properly and that post wasn’t included in the results.

With a little effort, I consolidated all the trip reports and listed them out neatly by region. So the same search for the Alsace trip will start at the TRAVEL menu at the top.

travelmenu1

The EUROPE page lists trips in chronological order. I can scroll down, or do ⌘-f and search for alsace. Hey presto!

travelmenu2

It took a lot of copying and pasting, and now I can type out ul, li and <a href in my sleep. But it’s all setup effort, adding new trips won’t take long. Yes, it’s a manual process, but I don’t mind doing it because I like the result. If I’m really OCD about it, I’ll list out all trips by year on a single page. Or not.

Next task, do the same for recipes.

#websiterebuild 4000 posts

4000posts

All posts that I want to move over, have been imported. All of the main, technical, travel and recipe sections, with the exception of a few useless posts (IFTTT tests, for example). Other sections will not be moved. They won’t be deleted, just not visible from the homepage.

Posts in what used to be the travel and recipe sections are merged into the main section and tagged. Now I just need to build corresponding main menu pages for them. That’s a lot of copy-pasting. Tedious work that will take another day or two.

#websiterebuild 3000 posts

website3000posts

It’s taken 2 weeks to import 1000 posts; just finished jan-2008 today. Been fixing flickr and youtube embeds to html5 so they can be viewed without flash.

Funny to skim through the old posts to see how quickly some topics become out-of-date. These are all from jan-2008:

Then again, some things never change:

including what Jason Kottke calls the editorial direction of the website:

The best posts from jan-2008: paid off my mortgage and watched layer tennis:

layertennis
layertennis

Just over 4 years to go, to backtrack to sep-2003. Beyond late 2007, it’s not one post a day, so hopefully I can push through the months quicker.

#websiterebuild 2000 posts

website2000posts

#websiterebuild is up to 2,000 posts. Going back in time, I just finished importing sep-2010. Importing around 1,000 posts from the last milestone took just under 2 weeks. Plus of course new posts and I’m counting the drafts that will be scheduled.

It’s quite interesting to read through some of the old posts, like looking at old photos or movies. Moving to London, then leaving. In 2010 I was just about to leave Chicago. My first marathon in 2010. How much more cooking I used to do when I had ingredients I liked. Still lots of travelling. How I saw mm more often when we were living on different continents than this year, when we’re less than an hour away.

Halfway.

#websiterebuild 1032 posts

wp1032posts

#websiterebuild continues. The last 2 weeks has been spent importing old posts from MT to WP. As I can’t access the MT dashboard to export the DB; and am uncomfortable working with mysql and myphpadmin, it’s a labourious process using a html import plugin. It takes

well-formed

static html files from a directory within the same server and imports them to WP as posts or pages. There is limited customisation, the most important being I can specify the tags containing the content I want to import. I know that the actual post content is inside the <div class=asset-body> tag, so it strips out the header, tabs and sidebar of a single post.

The imported post isn’t perfect, the <div> container tags are included, and stupid WP adds <p> tags all over the place. Other manual adjustments: date (everything gets imported with 21-sep-2015 for some reason), categories and tags. Every post has to be opened and edited, no bulk editing available.

I’ve been slowly importing month by month, working backwards in time. I’m now at apr-2013 and have reached 1000+ posts. Only about 3000 to go on the main page. Then I have to tackle the old travel and food sections. May be even the old technical section, although that was mainly how to install MT. Hidden doors will likely not be imported.

Working with WP on a daily basis is like going on an immersion course. Do I like it more now? No. I’m tolerating it. It still feels like a shotgun marriage, where I had no choice. Perhaps the resentment will fade in time and I accept it more. The biggest complaint is the editor. I don’t like the editor font, I hate that it adds stupid <p> tags and ignores my <br /> tags. There’s a lot of scrolling up and down to select categories. Month is a dropdown, why can’t I just type it in a box? After 12 years writing in the MT editor it’s an awkward transition. And I’m talking about the text editor, not the visual editor. Oh, I know there are plugins to fix all that–I read the plugins’ reviews and am not keen to install them.

I’ve also noticed that people (or more likely, bots) are trying to login and attack my website. WP sites are notoriously vulnerable because of its popularity and that it’s open sourced. A bit like PCs back in the day. I installed jetpack and wordfence, which seem to offer good defences. It’s just disconcerting, watching the number of blocked malicious login attempts go up every day. Never had that problem with MT.

So what’s good? It’s quite simple to use, almost too simple. The scheduled post function works. There’s a decent sized support community and codex. If I have a problem, chances are someone has encountered it before.

test ifttt (3)

with excerpt, no image.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a diam lectus. Sed sit amet ipsum mauris. Maecenas congue ligula ac quam viverra nec consectetur ante hendrerit. Donec et mollis dolor. Praesent et diam eget libero egestas mattis sit amet vitae augue. Nam tincidunt congue enim, ut porta lorem lacinia consectetur. Donec ut libero sed arcu vehicula ultricies a non tortor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean ut gravida lorem. Ut turpis felis, pulvinar a semper sed, adipiscing id dolor. Pellentesque auctor nisi id magna consequat sagittis. Curabitur dapibus enim sit amet elit pharetra tincidunt feugiat nisl imperdiet. Ut convallis libero in urna ultrices accumsan. Donec sed odio eros. Donec viverra mi quis quam pulvinar at malesuada arcu rhoncus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In rutrum accumsan ultricies. Mauris vitae nisi at sem facilisis semper ac in est.

Vivamus fermentum semper porta. Nunc diam velit, adipiscing ut tristique vitae, sagittis vel odio. Maecenas convallis ullamcorper ultricies. Curabitur ornare, ligula semper consectetur sagittis, nisi diam iaculis velit, id fringilla sem nunc vel mi. Nam dictum, odio nec pretium volutpat, arcu ante placerat erat, non tristique elit urna et turpis. Quisque mi metus, ornare sit amet fermentum et, tincidunt et orci. Fusce eget orci a orci congue vestibulum. Ut dolor diam, elementum et vestibulum eu, porttitor vel elit. Curabitur venenatis pulvinar tellus gravida ornare. Sed et erat faucibus nunc euismod ultricies ut id justo. Nullam cursus suscipit nisi, et ultrices justo sodales nec. Fusce venenatis facilisis lectus ac semper. Aliquam at massa ipsum. Quisque bibendum purus convallis nulla ultrices ultricies. Nullam aliquam, mi eu aliquam tincidunt, purus velit laoreet tortor, viverra pretium nisi quam vitae mi. Fusce vel volutpat elit. Nam sagittis nisi dui.

test ifttt (2)

pyo004tabletop

two images. 1 = strawberries.

cwall193padice

2 = ice cream van. See which one the feed picks.

No excerpt. How many words will it post?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a diam lectus. Sed sit amet ipsum mauris. Maecenas congue ligula ac quam viverra nec consectetur ante hendrerit. Donec et mollis dolor. Praesent et diam eget libero egestas mattis sit amet vitae augue. Nam tincidunt congue enim, ut porta lorem lacinia consectetur. Donec ut libero sed arcu vehicula ultricies a non tortor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean ut gravida lorem. Ut turpis felis, pulvinar a semper sed, adipiscing id dolor. Pellentesque auctor nisi id magna consequat sagittis. Curabitur dapibus enim sit amet elit pharetra tincidunt feugiat nisl imperdiet. Ut convallis libero in urna ultrices accumsan. Donec sed odio eros. Donec viverra mi quis quam pulvinar at malesuada arcu rhoncus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In rutrum accumsan ultricies. Mauris vitae nisi at sem facilisis semper ac in est.

Vivamus fermentum semper porta. Nunc diam velit, adipiscing ut tristique vitae, sagittis vel odio. Maecenas convallis ullamcorper ultricies. Curabitur ornare, ligula semper consectetur sagittis, nisi diam iaculis velit, id fringilla sem nunc vel mi. Nam dictum, odio nec pretium volutpat, arcu ante placerat erat, non tristique elit urna et turpis. Quisque mi metus, ornare sit amet fermentum et, tincidunt et orci. Fusce eget orci a orci congue vestibulum. Ut dolor diam, elementum et vestibulum eu, porttitor vel elit. Curabitur venenatis pulvinar tellus gravida ornare. Sed et erat faucibus nunc euismod ultricies ut id justo. Nullam cursus suscipit nisi, et ultrices justo sodales nec. Fusce venenatis facilisis lectus ac semper. Aliquam at massa ipsum. Quisque bibendum purus convallis nulla ultrices ultricies. Nullam aliquam, mi eu aliquam tincidunt, purus velit laoreet tortor, viverra pretium nisi quam vitae mi. Fusce vel volutpat elit. Nam sagittis nisi dui.

#website rebuild: xmlprc

Continuing to work on the WP installation. Internally, I’m copying over old posts. November and October 2015 were done manually (as in, copy-and-pasting each post individually) before I discoverd html-import plugin. The posts still need cleaning up after import, but it’s much more time efficient.

jetpackerror

I was also trying to install the popular jetpack plugin. With over 1 million installs (wordpress.com and hosted) it seems to offer a lot of useful modules. Installation wasn’t successful, I got a site inaccessible error.

iftttwperror

So I thought I’d leave it and go do the next thing on my list, set up in IFTTT. Argh. More errors. I have never had trouble activating any channel on IFTTT before.

A lot of googling show tons of similar errors and pleas for help with both errors. Most of the answers were unclear and didn’t offer much in the way of practical solutions. I tried all but the technical suggestions:

  • lame: use www, don’t use www, use http://, don’t use http://
  • somewhat makes sense: disable other plugins, point to wp install directory vs site url, disable two-factor authentication
  • way too technical: DNS/CNAME issue, enable non-https

Turns out, both errors relate to the xmlprc.php file. People are advised to check with their ISP whether this file is restricted. I could see it in cpanel but I got a “Page not Found” error when I tried to access it on my browser.

A little more googling and I found someone with the exact same error who is also an icdsoft customer. So I emailed suresupport and I got my reply in under 10mins (I love suresupport):

Blocking access to the xmlrpc.php file has been implemented as an additional security measure, because xmlrpc.php is a common target for hackers who scan for outdated and flawed versions of WordPress.

Support gave me some code to add to htaccess in the wp directory (not the root htaccess) and that worked. Jetpack installed and configured. I only activated a few of the available options, primarily mobile site and security.

IFTTT channel activated after I figured out the url is domain.com/wp rather than just domain.com. The issue is that IFTTT doesn’t trigger with a test post I added. Seems to be more complicated than it needs to be. What I’m not liking about WP is that there doesn’t seem to be an actual page generated per post. The permalink isn’t html or php–it’s an entry in the database. Same with rss links, I’m used to them being atom.xml or such like, and again there isn’t a actual url. All the stuff I’m having to learn and get used to.

As of right now, my verdict on WP is I’m tolerating it because I have no choice. Yes, the straightfoward stuff is fairly easy to figure out. It’s too easy sometimes, there’s not enough flexibility to tinker and fiddle around.

Oh, I got rid of the slider on the homepage, it was driving me crazy.

 

playing with themes

websitetheme20151126

Played around with themes. Initially found one that was like the modern magazine, with boxes for posts. Looks good but I didn’t like just excerpts on the homepage.

Found another clean looking one that shows full posts but, argh, anyone can see it’s a wordpress theme with their eyes closed. Nothing wrong with the classic look…I’m looking for something a little different.

This is the ifeature theme. At the top is a slider where I can place 3 images. Underneath are 3 pinned boxes. For me, a great place to feature various flickr sets. Full posts with right sidebar and space in the footer for more links.

While I was at it, I copied over the About pages and put them in the nav menu. The 101.1001 challenges are also on the top menu.

wp installation

ara202bamboo

Long story short, I haven’t updated MT since 2007. ICDSoft upgraded their server software causing massive errors to MT and I can’t access the dashboard. MT now costs $499 which, SixApart are you serious?

Options to continue include wordpress, tumblr, medium. Since moving to WP has always been on my mind, WP it is. Played around the free site (wordpress.com). Saw that you can buy a domain name and point it there, so I emailed ICDSoft support on the feasibility. No, no, no. If I point invisiblecompany.com at wordpress.com, it’s for the ENTIRE site. I’ll lose my cpanel and control over all pages and files.

So hosted WP it is. But there is a silver lining, it’s a software included in my domain name. It takes a few clicks and a little tinkering with html and htaccess and it’s done.

Installed a theme, configured footer, added some plugins. Not too bad.

Now comes the hard part. Since I can’t access the MT dashboard, I can’t export the database. It means copying over all 12 years’ worth of posts. I’ll do it slowly, it’s a good opportunity to clean up links and images anyway.

change atom feed to excerpt

The atom RSS feed is full post plus excerpt. I prefer reading full posts in my feed so I don’t limit it. I also use IFTTT to crosspost to fb. Before, it only allowed the entry title, URL and image. Now it allows entry content. I want to change the atom feed so fb shows title, URL, excerpt and image.

A post from 2005 from LMT saves the day.

Find the following code in your Atom Index:

<$MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$> <$MTEntryMore encode_xml="1"$>

Delete the $MTEntryMore line for just main body, not extended. Replace with both lines with

<$MTEntryExcerpt encode_xml="1"$>

for excerpt. Actually, just insert the entryexcerpt field from the dropdown. It works. Now I have to worry about writing good excerpts as opposed to copying the title.

lookback 24-aug

Time for another lookback post.

one year agotokyo trip planning

24-aug-2014 was a sunday; later that week we would be going to tokyo for a short trip, so the post was about trip planning. I made a list of places to go, let’s see how many we actually managed:

  • sukiji fish market — yep, twice
  • ginza — we walked past it, on the way somewhere else
  • shinjuki 新宿 for more shopping — don’t think so
  • shibuya 渋谷 for the iconic busy crossing, shopping at Tokyu Hands and Takashimaya — yep, interestingly our first time to the shibuya crossing, also found a farmer’s market and then visited the meiji temple
  • ebisu 恵比寿 for restaurants and izakayas — nope
  • roppongi 六本木 for bars and clubs — again, walked past
  • akihabara 秋葉原 for electronics — went past on subway
  • ueno 上野 for park and zoo — yep, this was a really interesting area, especially the discovery of Ameya-Yokochō アメヤ横丁 shopping and eating alley
  • asakusa 浅草 for a bit of history, culture and religion — nope
  • odaiba お台場 artificial island with a bridge, beaches, exhibition halls and shopping — nope

View post on imgur.com

Another tidbit from the post was a pic of greater tokyo compared with london. Astounding.

three years agolunch at ledbury, dinner at hawksmoor

It was mm’s last full day in London after visiting me for 3 weeks. We were both really sad that the holiday was over. I was sad to see her leave, but I’d quit my job by then and I knew we’d see each other in a couple of months when I move back.

2012ldnled001 2012ldnled003

I took her to the ledbury for lunch. Borough market and vinopolis in the afternoon and then hawksmoor for dinner. I still think she preferred hawksmoor over the ledbury, and if I had to choose, I’d go for hawksmoor too. Ledbury dinner prices is sky-high but lunch is okay, around the same price as hawksmoor dinner. Still, we can say we’ve been to one of the best restaurants in London.

five years agobooks vs ebooks

A link to a newsweek article on books vs ebooks. Unfortunately 404 error means can’t find page anymore.

ten years agocrimson room game

No post on the 24th, nearest was 25-aug-2005 when I reported that I was playing this game that required finding 13 objects to escape from the room.

If you found:
0-6 items, your IQ is very low, total idiot
6-8 items, Low IQ, you are an idiot
9-10 items, you are normal
11-12 items, your IQ is high, above the average
13 items found and get out of the room, there are less than 4000 people in the world can do it.

I found 12. Sherlock gave me the game, sigh, I need to get back in touch with her. Original link no longer exists, but a little googling gives lots of options. It’s a flash game so I won’t play on the mba. The exact game isn’t an app, but there are now plenty of room escape apps available.

r/blog

notebook02

Culture, fashion, trends. They all seem to go through cycles, don’t they. People left right and centre are declaring that they are getting back to blogging. Matt Haughey (mefi founder), Andy Baio (XOXO co-founder), Gina Trapani (lifehacker founder) are all doing it. I feel like it’s like something that was old-fashioned one minute is suddenly the cool thing to do again.

Except I never stopped. And neither did a bunch of others like Jason Kottke, John Gruber and all the people I follow on feedly, so back is neither here nor there, really.

People abandoned blogging for twitter, facebook, tumblr, youtube, instagram, snapchat and all that. Then came medium and everyone was excited again. Yet medium is considered longer, more journalistic writing. (Or so I wanted to believe, until it slammed its doors in my face.)

A lot of emphasis on simplicity lately. With so many outlets, it does become a personal choice on which platform(s) to use and what to write about. Most of my posts fall under the definition of short- or mid-length. Taking a note of Gina Trapani’s new rules for blogging, with one or two exceptions:

  • if it’s a paragraph, it’s a post — thank you, thank you, thank you. Sometimes I find it hard to write more than a few sentences, so it’s validation of sorts. I’ll even go as far as saying, if it’s just one photograph, it’s a post
  • negotiate a comfort zone on two axes — tech/personal, travel/running something like that. I really have to tighten up my topics
  • traffic is irrelevant, don’t even measure it — my traffic has always been depressing, so let’s give up on monitoring it
  • simplify, simplify — she suggested no comments (yep), no categories, tags, footnotes, special post styles, pages (categories and tags are habit I’ll keep though), default wordpress template (does it mean I don’t need to redesign the site? that’s good news)
  • ask for trusted collaborator feedback — I dunno, I never had collaborators or guest bloggers, I can’t see it happening
  • have fun — I like this one

In sort of related news, I see someone I follow on social media referring to updated posts on livejournal. I’m trying not to roll my eyes here. I think that’s taking simplify and back-to-basics a bit too far. Then again, George R.R. Martin still updates his livejournal. I don’t know what to say.
 

this is a test post with pic

happynoodles01

Testing iFTTT again. A random number generator gave me #17 from my flickr interestingness set. A simple noodle dish with egg, sausages, chicken wings and pork chop at a local family place called happy diner, hence the dish’s name of happy noodles. High rent and poor economy means the place has been replaced by expensive faux hipster joints. 

writing for myself in a social vacuum

A few years ago, I thought about moving to tumblr, because it was it for a while and I was at a low point, trying to find a purpose:

What is the No. 1 reason that people quit blogging? Because they can’t find and develop an audience

At the end it was login problems that prevented the move so I’m still stuck on ancient MT4 on my own website. I know I have a few readers (waves thanks!!!) but mostly I think it has become an internal process. It’s almost like a daily task, and I admit sometimes I write a post for the sake of checking the one-post-a-day task on my invisible to-do list. May be that’s why I don’t have six million views a year, because who wants to read about something that occupies the same level of priority as brushing my teeth or mindful meditation.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Most days I try to think of something worthwhile or interesting to write. It’s still primarily writing for myself rather than readers (waves some more). I should pat myself on the back for maintaining a website for 10 years and almost 7 years of one-post-a-day.

That’s why I was quite excited when I discovered medium. For me, it fills a space somewhere in between my website and tumblr. It’s more public (at least before the recent collection changes, more in a bit) and for some reason I feel obliged to take more care about the craft of writing on medium. I had in mind that I’d crosspost more thoughtful and serious posts to medium, almost like writing for a magazine. When I post on medium, I imagine that I’m writing for my readers.

I was quite sad when I posted my most recent medium article and found that I could no longer submit to collections. Instead of posters being able to freely submit to any number of collections, they have changed it to only one collection and only if you are already the owner or a writer of that collection. Sigh. This is so disappointing. What I liked about medium was that all members were treated equally, that anyone can write anything and submit to any collection. The chance being discovered was equal. With this new change, it’s getting back to the age-old clique. The most popular collections will be of named and featured writers, while us peons will continue to languish at the bottom of the pit. As one prominent user lamented:

It turned a system that was beautifully democratic and turned it into a system of clique based collections that are closed off to the average creator. It’s like content communism.

My cynical view is that the ultimate end game is monetisation. They can charge to feature certain collections belonging to coporates and writers will clamour to be included in that group in order to get exposure. Imagine a Huffpo or Upworthy collection with millions of followers, who wouldn’t want their article to be a part of that?

Will I continue to post to medium? Perhaps. I’ve had to create my own collection. I’m the only writer, and I’m back to writing for no one / myself. It’s a copy and paste job, and my posts look pretty on their clean interface.

What then becomes of tumblr? My login problem has resolved, so it’s active again. I’ve noticed that I’m using it not as a blogging platorm, but to curate content.

iftttflow

Like many people, I have far too many social media accounts (am I spread too thin? That’s another question for another time). When I signed up for IFTTT i had to figure out how my online presence flows. Where are my active vs passive presences. How I use each site:

  • website: traditional blogging — personal thoughts, experiences, longer posts
  • medium: public writing — more “interesting” posts
  • twitter: random observation, log exercise, feeds to google doc for record keeping
  • instagram: started off as food pics, trying to expand and be more interesting, a little more social, keep an eye on niece
  • flickr: photo repository, not using for social purposes
  • facebook: community, sharing, keeping in touch
  • tumblr: curation for my own and other people’s content

Originally I wanted to curate everything to tumblr, then to facebook. I decided against it and made both tumblr and fb end points to the flow. There are certain things I prefer to curate rather than share openly. There are people on my fb friends list that constantly share cat (and worst, dogs, yuck) pictures, inspirational quotes and minute details of their lives. I don’t want to be the tool who does that. I may experiment a little though, not post for a while, over post for a while, crosspost. I doubt anyone will notice, it’s all an empty vacuum anyway.

random post topic

doodle20080214

Yet more people on my twitter and facebook feeds telling the world about their new blog. SMH. And most of them are WRITERS. I wish they’d learn the difference between blog and blog post. grrrrr.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Remember what SB&T has been teaching.

Let it be.

Alright. Do something else. What shall I blog about today? How about using random topic generator. As one blogger described it,

a tool for bloggers utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process

Good one. Sometimes though, I do find myself utterly devoid of inspiration and internal thought process. The most exciting I did in the last 24hrs was I cooked pork chops and okra for dinner. I could write about that, I suppose. How to pan-fry okra without them going slimey. Except I’ve done that already. Or that I made a packet of instant grits, added too much water and had to use up another packet. Note to self: add instant grits to US shopping list.

So, back to random topic generator. Not sure how random it is, or how many topics it has in its database. It splits topics into 12 categories, so let’s try a few of them.

health — eating late at night

I try not to eat after around 9pm, even though my bedtime ranges from 11pm to 1am. Not quite for health reasons, I just don’t like going to bed with a full stomach and (TMI) don’t like waking up all the time to go to the loo. My family’s dinner time is early, sometimes even before 6pm and I try to have some fruit after dinner too.

Even in my younger days when I used to go out drinking, I was never tempted by the post-pub foodstuff like a greasy kebab or fish & chips. There’s a program on tv called last call food brawl where chefs face off against each other cooking epic iconic late night food of whichever city they were visiting that week. The creations are more gigantic, stodgy, crazy than epic. Anything deep fried, smothered with sauce with bacon added seemed to qualify. Who in their right minds would want to eat that? I guess only drunk people at 2am.

Another image of eating late at night is of Nigella, in her sleeping gown, raiding the fridge and getting something yummy she made earlier, be it ice cream, biscuits, leftover dinner or fish finger sarnie. Then smirking at the camera with a combination of self-satisfaction and guilt. Now that’s eating late at night.

science — early uses of the abacus

Abacus
flickr/matsuyuki

I’m not sure what early uses mean. Abacus is a calculating device used in many parts of the world dating back to BC times. It’s pretty much used for the same purpose. Early uses that didn’t include calculation? As a weapon? As a foot massager? To build houses? The random topic generator should have said, uses for abacus in early history.

I was taught how to use an abacus, I can read numbers off it and probably use it very slowly if necessary. It was more a toy. Very occasionally in one of those traditional herbal medicine shops I may see one in use, I hope I remember to take a picture if I see it.

technology — european architecture

prov114abbaye

I wouldn’t put architecture under technology, but I get what is given to me, right? Anyway, one can’t live in or travel to europe without having some appreciation of architecture. Do I know the difference between romanesque and renaissance? I could probably recognise examples if someone told me or I looked it up. Like for romanesque imagine the Tower of London, St Albans cathedral and L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque in Provence, where we visited a couple of years ago.

rome032vatican

And for renaissance what better example than St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

recreation — history of baseball

Skipping the topic. I only have a small passing interest in baseball. I guess if I grew up in the US I’d like it better, I do like playing rounders.

opinion – chocolate or vanilla?

shawnice03

Vanilla. That’s all.

all — cities to visit

kr014guards

There are other categories like businss, world, people, art, music. And then the all categories gave me cities to visit. Now that’s a task by itself. A long list. The next city I’ll visit will be Seoul, going there with mm in a few weeks’ time. New Orleans next July hopefully. There may be others in between.

In terms of travelling, I tend to prefer cities rather than, say, beach resorts. Nothing much there to do at beach resorts since I’m not a big fan of swimming in the sea or getting a tan. I’d rather find quiet time in a park or village café.

 

lookback 14-may

one year ago

cruise0002geiranger

Good timing, a year ago I just got back from the norway cruise and posted my trip highlights. Great memories of Copenhagen, Kiel, Geirangerfjord, Flam, Bergen, Oslo and Dubai. How will the glaciers in Alaska compare with the fjords of Norway as I prepare for the cruise next week. I’ve been a bit down and meh about the trip (not related to the destination because…Alaska) and looking back at the highlights of the norway cruise cheered me up a little.

five years ago

balmoral002street

For the five year lookback I’m going to cheat a little. On 14-May-2009 the post was about coldplay’s latest album which they were giving away as a free download. Aside from gossip inches about chris martin, I hadn’t noticed a lot of news about coldplay in 5 years.

The post that was important that week 5 years ago was on 16-May-2009, when I signed the lease for my chicago apartment. I had been living out of suitcases in a serviced apartment for 5 months so it was particularly exciting to finally have my own furniture and stuff. I would call that place home for the next 18 months and it’s probably my favourite out of all the places I’d lived in my life.

ten years ago

I did not make a single post during May 2004. Those were the early days of blogging and I was travelling quite a bit. The closest was 26-Apr-2004 when I complained of gaining weight. Nothing new, but it would be a good few years before I finally got round to seriously losing that weight.

my first medium post

The challenge is a fresh challenge

I thought I’d give medium a go. Medium has impressive pedigree, founded by @ev and @biz from twitter. I check out posts there a few times a week, and there seems to be a common theme, at least the articles I enjoyed—tight writing on a variety of popular topics by a tech-savvy group of contributors. The Atlantic summarised it as:

a place to read articles on the Internet. Medium is a blogging platform, like WordPress or Blogger. Medium is the new project from the guys who brought you Twitter. Medium is chaotically, arrhythmically produced by a combination of top-notch editors, paid writers, PR flacks, startup bros, and hacks.

Certainly, it feels somewhat like early blogger (before it was google-ized), or even harking back to the wild, wild days of early livejournal (before it got bought for no good reason by sixapart and is now russian-ized). All packaged in an astoundingly clean and oh-so-easy to use interface.

The design and the way articles are grouped in collections means that writing at medium has a different feel to writing on my own website, on tumblr or on facebook. Here on the website, I write whatever I like, and I indulge in topics that may only be interesting to me. Yes, it means I jump from topic to topic and despite it being in existence for 10 years, it’s virtually unmarketable. I don’t do much on tumblr and facebook/twitter updates are as throwaway as yesterday’s lunch leftovers.

Writing on medium is one step up, I guess. Although its referral system works much like reddit, which means my post will likely languish at or near the bottom, I still have a responsibility to write a coherent post, in case it does get some attention. I don’t want to have a popular or even viral post with typos, for instance.

runningmedals01

I’m not at a point where I can write about tech, or food, or travel, or current affairs. So I picked a topic that is on my mind and allows me some room for musing. So, well, here’s the post: The Challenge is a Fresh Challenge, took me about half an hour to write.

It’s not clear to me whether the post will be published immediately or whether it needs to go through a review process. I like the discipline. Find a suitable title, write a tagline, write the article. I agree with Slate’s prognosis:

If I didn’t care about getting paid or having a job and just wanted to write something, Medium is the tool I would use.

look back 21 march

It’s spring. Let’s do another look back in time post.

1 year ago
Video link post about pro scooter riders doing tricks on scooters just like they are skateboards. Awesome. Watch:

I would very much like to have been good at skateboarding, but alas no. I also missed out on the free running / parkour movement. Sigh.

3 years ago
A post about spring, plus the obligatory flower pic. Nice tulip.

5 years ago
Wow, has it already been 5 years? That was the first time I went to a reading. In Chicago. At Women and Children First. I met these awesome people for the first time:

chiss117group

I consider them friends now, some I’ve kept more in touch with than others. I’ve bought every single book this group has published since 2009, and some of the books I read and re-read time and time again. I’ll say it again, an awesome group.

10 years ago
No post on the 21st, but bookended by two strange posts. A random post on the 19th about hair, and I don’t even remember the people I was talking about; and then on the 23rd a depressing, incoherent post about the state of our relationship. Wow, nothing has changed in 10 years.

today we fight back

screenshot20140211

Visitors to the website today 11-feb-2014 may get a black overlay banner that asks them to join a virtual movement to fight back against mass surveillance. Reddit and tumblr and upworthy and many other sites are also part of today’s movement. In the US the purpose is to ask people to ask their legislators to support the USA Freedom Act; in other parts of the world it’s to raise awareness and to ask them to sign a petition in support of the principles against mass surveillance.

I know i’ve said before that I don’t like overlays but THIS IS IMPORTANT. There is such a massive amount of stalking and surveillance by governments that is becoming creepy and intrusive. I’ve also said that I accept that my online activity is being tracked, but I’m angry at the denial and the seemingly ineffectiveness of said surveillance.

Will this protest work? It’ll probably make only the tiniest of dents, as the guardian (always good for an NSA surveillance story) points out,

the relentlessness of the surveillance forces and their enablers in the technology industry, and the fecklessness of the politicians who are supposed to honor their oaths of office, make it hard to be optimistic

For me, the recent Edward Snowden and NSA revelations have made me realise much more about what is going on behind our backs. Is it all in the name of “it’s for your protection and your own good” as governments claim? I think it started there, but has become more of a desire to control and exert power over people rather than to protect them. Governments, corporations and individuals all need to abide by a set of moral code, and although morals have grey areas, respect for human right is so basic that it cannot be disputed.

And privacy is a human right so it’s up to all of us to respect and be aware of it.

look back in time

I have 10 years’ worth of posts here, so it may be interesting to look back in time to see what I was posting.

one year ago:
kids on food

Nice post about eating habits around the world, inspired by a couple of Jamie Oliver food programs and a youtube channel Rinozawa of a Japanese toddler who loves to try new food. The one that caught my eye was the one where Rino, the kid, tries pho. Seems like Rino now has a younger brother, Yuuma, but their foodie ways continue. This one is where they try satay. There are also videos of Rino cooking with mum, she made scrambled eggs and chocolate madeleine, so delightful.

The thing is, Rino is an exception. Many parents I know would have baulked at serving satay to a young child — flavour too strong, too unfamiliar etc. And many parents would have taken the meat off the skewer onto a plate instead of letting their child try the food the way it should be eaten, because skewers are difficult and dangerous if the sharp point accidentally pokes through the mouth. Note that Rino is supervised by both her parents, and they aren’t afraid of letting her eat off the skewer.

Jamie Oliver’s food revolution is still ongoing. American kids still do not recognise potatoes unless in the form of fries. Idiot parents bring an 8-month old screaming baby to a 3 michelin star restaurant. The comments from the Alinea kerfuffle are all focused on “if I paid $400+ per head for dinner I want to enjoy it” are of course true, but my opinion is that it isn’t the price tag, it’s the fact that Alinea serves a tasting menu that lasts several hours in the evening and why would the parents think it’s appropriate to bring a baby to an event lasting that long? It’s not appropriate to bring a baby to the theatre for the same reason.

three years ago:
long surf ride

A video post of a 5-mile surf in Alaska. Beautiful scenery, beautiful photography. Quite peaceful to watch.

five years ago:
cheap brics

Investing in the BRIC markets. It was the thing back then to invest in the BRIC markets, and the 5-year performance chart validates the decision to buy in 2009.

bric5yr

Performance since 2011 has been mediocre, and I’ve mostly exited in favour of the more stable European market. My US investments have done pretty well too, over 5 years.

ten years ago:
bonus matters

Back before attention fell on financial services bonuses, even people like us in support functions got a small share of the pie. Interesting to read my reaction to a lower bonus compared with the year before; that is why I’m not in the front office. I think I got that special award because of participation in a global project, whatever it was, it was great to be recognised for contribution.

Things are so different now, 10 years later. So many scandals, the whole industry dragged down the entire world economy. Huge income inequality and bankers are now regarded as vile. True, the bonuses were outlandish and mostly ill-gotten, but what most lay people don’t realise is that these huge bonuses only apply to the people at the top. When the pie is smaller, these people don’t get smaller bonuses, they get larger share of the pie at the expense of junior people and support staff. Don’t laugh at everybody who lost their jobs when the likes of Lehman collapsed, the top people got their golden parachutes but how about the desk assistants and account clerks and IT staff?

Am I sorry I ended up in the financial services industry as opposed to, say, pharmaceuticals or engineering? I worked long hours and saw a lot of ugliness, but I also got sent all over the world and managed to save up enough to be semi-retired. All in all, not too bad.

look back summary

Hey, this was fun, looking back over past posts. May do it again some other time.

a better feed

Our online lives has gotten really busy. Status update on facebook, witty observations on twitter, ideas on tumblr, food porn on instagram, funny videos on youtube, deep thoughts on wordpress (or MT like me), other people’s deep thoughts to read on feedly, organising our lives on evernote, and not forgetting calendar and email. So if I took a pic of my lunch with instagram, I might want to crosspost to flickr, facebook, twitter and my blog, then back it up to dropbox, send the links to evernote, and send my family an email so they can check it out. I don’t want to physically do all that, I need automation.

Happy to come across IFTTT, which stands for if this then that, and does the automation between web services via what they call recipes. Services like facebook and twitter are called channels and the recipes link 2 channels together. One of the most popular recipes links twitter with facebook:

ifttt-twfb

I’m working through the 101 best recipes, that’s a nice weekend project.

The motivation for this interest in IFTTT came from a problem with my feed. Whenever I add a new post, I had set up networked blogs to create a corresponding post in fb. It’s not the most reliable or prompt service — I never know if a post will show up and when. Things got worse ever since flickr changed their embed method:

ifttt-rssfb1

The link and titles are still there, but the thumbnail didn’t get pulled, even though there is an image associated with the post. A screenshot of the website shows up instead. This is not the first time it happened with flickr images, so time to ditch networked blogs. The IFTTT recipe goes:

ifttt-rssfb

Took a few tries to get the recipe right, detailed process and analysis in a separate technical section post.

ifttt-rssfb4

The only slight complaint was the excerpt wasn’t included as an ingredient in the IFTTT recipe. May be an improvement for future.

test tumblr

Resurrecting tumblr, see how the blog feeds to it now. I stopped using tumblr when they stopped taking full post rss feeds, but I can probably live with truncated post or a link now. I changed the website landing page back to tumblr. This post will feed to both fb and tumblr via ifttt. I have to figure out whether I want tumblr or twitter or facebook at the beginning or the end of the process.

Here’s a picture:

emptypianostage

a bunch of blockquote text

A random link: 10 rules of surveillance dystopia stories on io9.

rss to facebook

The blog feeds to facebook via networked blogs which generates a status message that includes the url to the post, entry title, excerpt and a thumbnail of the first image. Most images are stored at flickr, but since they changed their embed method the feed has not behaved.

ifttt-rssfb1

The link and titles are still there, but the thumbnail didn’t get pulled, even though there is an image associated with the post. A screenshot of the website shows up instead. Looks boring on my fb wall.

I thought the problem may be with networked blogs, in any case I’ve been wanting to find an alternative for a while — they are not reliable and there is often a huge delay. I like the look of ifttt, aka if this then that, which allows me to use a recipe:

ifttt-rssfb

The result is better:

ifttt-rssbb3

No screenshot of the website, but the first image it pulled was the powered by MT4 icon at the sidebar. Not what I wanted either. To find out why, I had to look into the templates. The entry template gave me the resaon:

entrytemplate

The sidebar came first then entry detail. There are a bunch of buttons on the sidebar:

buttons

They were fun 10 years ago, to show the how the site was made and how it’s w3c compatible and all. Not very interesting now, so I pulled them.

I wanted to check if flickr was actually the problem so I made a couple of test posts which used the old html embed and the new iframe embed.

ifttt-rssfb4

No problem, so it wasn’t flickr. The only slight complaint was the excerpt couldn’t be included, as it’s not offered as an ingredient in the ifttt recipe. May be an improvement for future.

landing page

homepage201310

One of the tasks I set for the october tdp challenge was to decide on what to do with the homepage. One of the problems with a website like this which is neatly organised into sections — blog, writing, pictures, travel, food — is that the landing page, ie invisiblecompany.com itself, is redundant. If I were a real writer I’d have images of my books on the landing page; if I were a restaurant it’d inevitably be a fancy flash page with mood music designed to annoy customers; if I were a business I’d have huge banners advertising my products with links to prices, company information etc. But I’m a person, and not a very interesting one at that.

For the longest time the landing page redirected (automatically through htaccess) to tumblr which I had intended to be a catch-all for my website, tweets, flickr, facebook posts, interesting links and random stuff. But when they took away full post importing from MT blogs, I stopped using tumblr. Don’t have time to maintain multiple presences.

So I just did the most simplest and laziest thing, to redirect invisiblecompany.com to invisiblecompany.com/quiet. Again, a one line htaccess statement.

What I’d like to have as a landing page is a welcome statement, some words and/or images of what I’ve done, and recent posts from around the website. But I’ve yet to a) achieve anything worth putting on a homepage and b) figure out how to bring in posts from another blogid. So I just did something temporary:

  • wrote some welcome blurb and saved as a static page, called it using a template module, or what MT calls a widget
  • created a new index template that outputs a file called home.php, using the main index template as base — the index uses mt:include to call the welcome module and the last post on the blog
  • redirected in htaccess to home.php

A bit boring, but a start. Not sure whether I should include just the most recent post or, say, the most recent 3 or 5 posts. Ah well, I’m sure no one cares.

happy 10th birthday, website

siteplan2003

With all my focus on the Japan trip, I almost missed that this webite turned 10 years old last week. The whole invisiblecompany.com dates back longer than that, I first registered it in 1997, early versions of the very basic website was hosted at xoom, which doesn’t exist anymore (xoom.com is now some sort of money transfer site so don’t click on it). Transferred over to tripod, anyone remember that? As Steve Jobs said,

wow

Got my own host and started designing Sept 2003. With a basic siteplan. And those first posts seem so lame now.

Who knows what will bring in the next 10 years? Who will still have blogs? Or self-hosted sites. It’ll all be mobile and instant gratification. The whole concept of websites will probably be something kids scoff as being so old fashioned.

website moved servers

icdsoftprices

Hosting on the website will expire at the end of September. I’ve been with icdsoft for 10 years, and although they are not the cheapest, it’s worked for me so far—barely any outages and prompt response whenever I had to contact support. When I clicked on the link to renew, I was a little bit shocked that I’m being quoted $296 to renew for 2 years, I can’t remember it being this expensive. Looking at their price comparison chart gave me a clue—I’m on the iAdvantage server, which is the most expensive. I’m sure there wasn’t any price difference when I started.

websitemoved

So what did I do? I got Support to move the website to Savvis. They were fine about it, and it took them about an hour. Now I’m on server 327 instead of 212. When I first clicked to check, I saw a “website has been moved” notice, and it told me to reset my DNS server. There are a few methods: for PCs it involves cmd/ipconfig and for macs it’s a Terminal command. I’ll leave google to provide the answers for anyone needing it.

I’m not seeing any difference in terms of…anything, so it’s all good. The renewal price for housing the website at Savvis is now $200 for 2 years. May be one of these days, I’ll look at alternatives.

watch out, i’m posting about running

running20130328

6.40km 50.49min 7.56min/km (12.47min/mi)

It’s been pissing down with rain, but I was determined to go running today and managed to take advantage of a lull in the storm. Pretty slow, but it’s nice to be active again.

And as usual, I posted to twitter, which auto-posts to fb; and updated fitocracy. No action required on nikeplus, it syncs by itself. Compared to other obsessive people, I don’t think I post too much about my running or weight training or other exercise activities.

I don’t post to brag — my results aren’t good enough. I post because I want someplace to record my efforts. It’s motivating, in a way. I made sure I speeded up when my speed fell below 8min/km because I’d be embarrassed to show this slow speed on a public forum.

Seems though that perhaps others don’t share my view. Apparently, people who post about their diet and fitness progress are the worst thing about social media.

Ugh. At least I’m not an overly proud parent, ticket seller or serial commenter.

movable type year 12

movabletype2admin

Movable Type turns 12, which surely is fit for celebration. In this day and age of twitter, tumblr and mobile computing, it’s probably old-fashioned to be blogging, let alone blogging on a self-hosted CMS platform. From its early life as Ben and Mena Trott’s baby, to the glorious early SixApart days, to the disasters that were livejournal purchase, vox and to a certain extent, typepad, it’s been interesting to watch and experience.

I started with version 2 before quickly migrating to version 3. Stayed with version 3 for ages. Now still on version 4. More than 8 years with them.

movabletype5admin

Since the Japanese took over development at version 5, there have been lots more improvements. I’ll get round to upgrading one day. Will I ever switch to wordpress or tumblr? Every so often I think about it, and then I procrastinate.

China IP block

accessdenied

Bandwidth is getting used up faster than I liked, even though I disabled comments sitewide and added the offending IP & domains to the protection control panel. Looking at the stats last night, that did nothing to keep the spammers out, so I emailed my ISP support. Ack, how could I forget? Using the control panel doesn’t work, it has to be done using the .htaccess file. Suresupport kindly added the few IPs I mentioned as well as the awful 163data domain.

It looks like all of this spam is from China, one of the worst spam producing countries. (I was surprised the US is #1 and twice as bad as China, I guess it’s email spam and not this dreadul comment spam.) A little research told me that I could block entire countries by IP. This is exactly what I’m looking for. I copied the entire IP block allocated to China into my .htaccess and denied them all. Yes, it means my website cannot be accessed from anywhere in China, ie if mm and I go to her flat for holiday (moot point, she has no internet there). But it can’t be helped. I’ve been monitoring the stats all day and it seems to have stopped the spam attack.

really invisiblecompany

trafficover

An unexpected consequence of the comment spam attack was that the website exceeded the 20GB monthly bandwidth limit. A normal month, I’m probably at 2GB, and the whole of 2011 totalled 30GB, so this was a big spike. I didn’t even realise it until when I logged in a couple of days ago and saw the error message. Ouch. I had to wait till today to get access back and the first thing I did was to disable comments sitewide. Then it was a matter of going through the stats, picking out the offending domains and IPs and adding them to the blocked list. There are honestly too many, and I’m not sure blocking will do the trick. I’ll have to be extra vigilant. And make time to upgrade to MT5.

spam!

spam

I struggle to get readers on my website. Well, that’s not entirely true because I don’t do any marketing or self-promotion or anything like that. I’m not famous or good looking or have books published or say anything remotely interesting, all I do is post about running and food and stuff I do so who the hell do I think I am?

So far, I’ve escaped the dreaded spam infection that seems to hit hosted websites like wordpress or blogger. MT used to be the market leader (within the tech geek community anyway) but it has been overtaken by the aforementioned wordpress, blogger and even tumblr.

Which is why it amused me to no end when I did routine maintenance and found that I had over 50 spam comments. They don’t show up because I set it so that I need to approve comments. These comments are twisted! For example,

The man underwear hiding more than 10 live hummingbirds were attempting to smuggle, customs and the hummingbird is wrapped body hidden in the men’s underwear, still survive in the new network on 28 September, the smugglers to steal the motion through the customs practices can change rapidly, according to Hongkong “astral island daily” reported on 28, the near future, a Holland tourists have more than 10 hummingbird living hidden in the special underwear, attempting to smuggle clearance, but ultimately not long.It is reported, the capital airport in French Guiana Cayenne, the Holland man put a dozen live hummingbirds with independent wrapped up, to prevent their wings flew, and put them away in only a slit in the underwear special packaging bag.The customs officers noticed the man “suspicious appearance and movements”, in the inspection requirements of he untied the briefs, they found about 12 live hummingbirds, subsequently, authorities seized.Reported that, the man in possession of a hummingbird, no birds anesthesia.It is reported, this man had a criminal record, has since tried to smuggle hummingbird convicted.According to introduction, the hummingbird is the world’s smallest known birds, by flapping wings hovering in the air, about 15 to 80 times per second, the speed of the body depends on the size of.

Seriously!!???!! I guess it’s just random words, they just want the link. But it’s a long way from the makfncilgoiereunarqf from the olden days. Another hilarious example, this is a comment so bot attempted to post on my sparkling cranberries post at Christmas,

I truly wanted to write down a quick remark to thank you for these pleasant secrets you are showing at this website. My time-consuming internet lookup has at the end been rewarded with really good know-how to go over with my contacts. I ‘d express that we readers actually are undoubtedly blessed to dwell in a fantastic community with many outstanding individuals with insightful concepts. I feel rather grateful to have used the web site and look forward to tons of more cool times reading here. Thank you once more for all the details.

snerk.

tweet this post

tweetbutton

So I added a tweet button to the website, at the bottom of individual posts, right after Evan Williams tweeted about it. I’m probably too optimistic to think that my posts will ever get tweeted by the handful people who are kind enough to follow me. If this post gets read, chances are that it’ll be on fb anyway, and how many people actually know about the website or figured out that hitting “View Original Post” will bring them over here. Heh.

p.s. I just realised it tweets the website, not individual posts. Or does it? I’ll have to test.

website rank

I had the website graded by website grader,

a free seo tool that measures the marketing effectiveness of a website. It provides a score that incorporates things like website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other technical factors

Apparently I have no meta data, which is strange cos I thought movable type does that, have to look at the archive templates again. The other point is that I have too many images. Well duh, it’s a blog. On the positive side, I have an Alexa rank of 5,545,875 which is in the top 18.05 % of all websites.

my blog is the exact opposite of me

via mefi again, a tool to analyse the MBTI personality of your blog. This is what I got:

typealyzer

I’m INTJ, occasionally ISTJ. 100% introvert. We all know this. And this here tool is saying I’m ESFP, which is the exact opposite??? I don’t get it.

Well, actually I do.

What I write here can be described as light, light-hearted, and even…trivial. I don’t post about anything controversial or deep. There’s tons of pictures of food, music I found, anything mac related, or quirky stuff I come across. Occasionally there’d be a rant. Mostly, I keep to basically harmless stuff, not only because I am aware that this is permanent public record but because this is a place where I want to record some interesting stuff that I like. It is my little escapist heaven. No wonder the tool thinks the writer of this blog is entertaining and friendly. evil laugh

happy 5th anniversary

Five years ago, there wasn’t facebook and myspace was an unknown site that had just launched. LJ and blogger hadn’t gained the popularity they enjoy now. MT was on version 2.x. WordPress was still in its precursor state of b2. Personal websites existed but most people had their sites hosted at places like geocities and tripod.

My original blog was on tripod and I wrote my first ever post on 23 September 2003. I can’t believe it’s still there.

I had some pages hosted on xoom when it was a hosting site. I’d started a very basic site in 1999 using Claris Homepage but it’d lapsed while I went on assignments all over the world.

I re-registered invisiblecompany.com on 29 September 2003, moved it to a proper hosting company, and started redesigning. I still can’t figure out why I decided to use MT, it’s not like it was easy and it’s not like I was a web expert then. I don’t regret the decision, in fact I think it was a rather good one.

Five years later, I have 7 installations on the site. I’ve written at least one post a day for almost a year. I have over 1,700 posts including blog posts, technical updates, travelogue, recipes and stories. It’s the best method of finding out what I’ve been up to, where I am and what is on my mind. At times I wonder if anyone is reading but mostly I do this for myself.

It’s been a great 5 years with the website. Happy anniversary.

site reorganisation

I did a little site re-organisation. I put the weblog back to the second tab like before. The homepage is now an aggregate of:

  • the weblog
  • tumblr posts
  • del.icio.us links
  • twitters

menu20071108

In fact, the homepage is the tumblr page. At first I followed the official instructions and changed the IP of invisiblecompany.com to 72.32.231.8. This meant invisiblecompany.com points to invisiblecompany.tumblr.com. Unfortunately all my other pages came up as 404 not found — because I changed the IP for the entire site to tumblr. Oooops.

I got suresupport help, logged back into my control panel and restored DNS defaults. I tried another method for redirection. In the root .htaccess file I added one line:

redirect /index.html http://invisiblecompany.tumblr.com/

 

about

I added an about page. The thing about about pages is that, it’s really only useful if you want people to know about you. To strike a balance between revealing too much and being entirely obscure is the trick, and I’m sure I was borderline successful only.

I wanted to include the about page on the main index of the about section. The options were: take it outside of mt and handcode index.php with an include to the mt generated parts; I could post date it so it always appear at the top; I could do some complicated include / exclude with categories; I could hardcode it into the main index template; or I could do it the easy way.

  1. create it as a page
  2. note down its page id — in manage pages hover on the title and it gave me id=1976
  3. create a module called “about” that has the same tags as the page detail module, with one addition: wrap the whole thing in a mtpages tag:

    <mt:pages id=”1976”>
    <div id=”page-<$MTPageID$>” class=”page-asset asset”>
    <div class=”asset-header”>
    <h1 class=”asset-name”><$MTPageTitle$></h1>
    </div>
    <div class=”asset-content”>
    <MTIfNonEmpty tag=”PageBody”>
    <div class=”asset-body”>
    <$MTPageBody$>
    </div>
    </MTIfNonEmpty>
    <MTIfNonEmpty tag=”PageMore” convert_breaks=”0”>
    <div id=”more” class=”asset-more”>
    <$MTPageMore$>
    </div>
    </MTIfNonEmpty>
    </div>
    </div>
    </mt:pages>

    I could have scrubbed the page detail code more, but I left it as default.

  4. in the main index call the module using mtinclude
  5. save and rebuild

The second part of the index page is the latest 25 squares. I have to think of a better way of integrating the two and making it flow better.