Do people like, still blog?

Tag Archives: orangefever

I started my lifestream over four years ago as an evolution of my blog. At that time, there started being many more avenues where I was putting content on the web than my blog – it was easier to put links on Digg, photos on Flickr and even my Xbox360 was blogging! It made sense to combine all of the content I was creating and output it on my blog.

Now, four years later, there’s still a lot of ways that I share content – although most of it is centered around my phone. Some platforms are still the same: Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, Youtube, & my blog. But others have withered or died (such as Digg and Flickr). I’m using a couple of new services like Instagram, Mlkshk, and Reddit but never got around to integrating them together. Even though I think there is still a need for a lifestream, I think what is finally killing it is the downfall of Google Reader and by proxy, RSS.

Instead of people using one source (RSS) to read content, it is now spread out into separate platforms that don’t inter-operate with each other well, unless you consider importing the content into Facebook as the medium. I don’t like using Facebook as “my blog” because you don’t have control over your content, and your feed is combined with 100s of other people.

From a personal point of view, the software I’m using has problems. It flakes out sometimes (or my RSS feeds do) and posts content from a long time ago. Or it will just post a lot of errors. Plus if anything breaks, I’m too lazy to fix it. Combined with the fact that a lifestream doesn’t even make much sense anymore, I’m inclined to just point to my blog again and simplify my life.

For the last few days, I’ve been fighting with a worm on my web server. I think my site was infected when my host (Dreamhost) had its FTP passwords compromised, but I didn’t detect it until now. The hack is pretty innocuous; it simply injected some JS that would load a page in a small or hidden IFrame. The purposes, I suppose, is to increase page hits on those pages. I didn’t notice it for a long time because my browser’s AdBlock plugin blocked the IFrames!

This type of hack has been discussed quite extensively on the WordPress forums and the advised solution is to delete everything and re-install WordPress (thankfully, the database is unaffected, so you can re-install on top of your existing installation). After some investigation, the reason for this is because the worm injects JS into every single Javascript file it can find (anything with .js extension). In fact, it’s not restricted to WordPress; it’ll look for anything in the file system!

I’ve cleaned my WordPress several times, but the worm has re-appeared. I think that it placed a .php file somewhere on my host which, when run, will perform the file system scan and add itself to JS files. To combat this, I’ve been systematically going through and deleting files that I no longer use. Fingers crossed that I found the root file!

It’s a bit frustrating to have to combat this. Originally I was annoyed at WordPress for causing this problem, but it turns out that WordPress is just another victim. I can’t even play the mainstream-software-sucks card!

You may have noticed, that I have a new theme. I’ve been using the Elegant Grunge theme ever since I switched over to WordPress about a year and a half ago. Now I’m finally tired of the extra whitespace that the theme uses so I decided a change was in order.

I’m actually quite frustrated with the WordPress themes. They all seem SO BORING. Almost all the themes have the same layout structure. I would love some variety and uniqueness to the themes; but maybe that’s when you have to start paying for themes.

I’m also too lazy to write my own and do the graphics for it. So this is one of the better ones that I’ve found; but what is up with the font??. Another thing I would like to do is post larger (i.e., wider) photos so I may look around for a more fluid layout. I’m not completely happy with this one (so may change again shortly in the future), but it’s the best that I found so we will have to live with this for awhile.

When I used SweetCron as my “main page” in place of my blog, it was in a hurried state-of-mind. I was excited to make my lifestream accessible outside of a RSS feed so I wanted to make the change quickly. But I didn’t want one of the generic themes so I mopped up something quickly and changed my main page.

I wasn’t happy with the design though; it looked a bit dated, like it was from the early 2000s or something.

I finally got around to theme-ing it a bit better now so that it is more modern. It has more stylistic rounded rectangles and transparencies (unless you are using Internet Explorer where you don’t get all the new luxuries). It should also dynamically adjust to the width of the browser, although if things get too thin then the content starts overlapping.

I’m still not entirely happy with it, most notably because there is a lack of images to break up monotony of text. I think it’s a bit hard to put pictures in since the feed itself doesn’t have pictures but maybe I can put some more profile pictures or something in.

I also added a Reddit feed to my lifestream. I finally joined Reddit because I was frustrated with Digg not having stories about some of the cool links I found; but Reddit seems to have the same problem. I am really trying to avoid using because I don’t want to type in a description text for my bookmarks.

For some long, I’ve wanted to print my own t-shirt about my own website. It’s a ripoff though, having looked at Cafe Press and Zazzle in the past. I didn’t want to pay $20+ for a custom t-shirt, and then shipping and exchange rates. Especially when I was a student.

Now I have more disposible income so I splurged on an orangefever shirt! It’s cheaper now too, at least at spreadshirt. It came out to about $20 ($12 + $7 shipping – $3 coupon + conversion).

Wow I’m such a geek.

Ever since I moved my blog to WordPress, I’ve had a plan to change what you see when you go to Right now, you see my blog, but what I wanted is to have you see my lifestream when you first visit my page.

I installed Sweetcron awhile ago. You can use it to import feeds from a bunch of websites into a single feed. It’s like the Facebook news feed, you can have photos, videos, blogs, etc. It was exactly what I wanted, except that I didn’t like the themes available for it.

It’s been a few months since I installed it but I’ve finally gotten around to fixing it up and I’m ready to make it my front page. I think it’s an improvement, even though you have to click-through to my blog posts. But, my (online) life isn’t just my blog, it’s all the things I do on the web, and I think this is a better representation of me. Besides my RSS has been like this for like forever!

I feel like the winner of a reality TV show, because my blog just got a makeover! Goodbye 5th generation. It was actually a lot quicker and not as painful as I thought to move on to WordPress. My blogs, tags, and your comments all made it over. The permalinks and pictures in posts still work (recent ones at least – pictures from 2004 have been long dead). Your user accounts are dead, so you’ll need to create new ones (if you’re commenting) and my links blog is dead now too.

The links blog is really the only casualty. I didn’t know how to bring it over without mangling my database and sacrificing my blog’s permalinks (since they both share the same range of unique IDs). I’m fine with it though, because lately I’ve been thinking that I should quote the interesting portions of links as part of a “links blog”, so they will just evolve into smaller blogs (and so we’ve come full circle). My old links are no longer on orangefever, but fortunately I have a script that mirrors them onto, so they are still available under my account.

I’ve added my account to my lifestream RSS feed. If you’re subscribed to my RSS but not my lifestream feed, then you’re doing it wrong!

I knew this day was going to come eventually – I’ve decided to move my blogging off of my own software. Lately, I’ve been wanting to update my site a bit, some of the static text and links no longer make much sense, and I want to move it in a new direction; but I’ve been too lazy to update the content or the look.

Plus, it’s not as important anymore for me to be able to have a full understanding of the code base, previously it was nice to be able to hack my own code base to create tag clouds or what not, but now it’s not so much high up on my priority list. Instead, I wouldn’t mind having a sandbox area for bits and pieces of future blogs, commenting that actually works (hi Nelson!) and quick/easy integration with future web technologies.

I’ve already started the process of converting my existing database structure and archive to using WordPress. There’s a CSV import plugin out there, but I didn’t find it as flexible as writing my own scripts to populate the database (I want my links and tags to survive to move). I guess I still need to roll my own way.

I signed up awhile ago to FriendFeed, although I never really used it (I had to get my username before someone else took it you see). FriendFeed is kind of like the Facebook newsfeed in that it aggregates everything you’re doing into one stream, except it’s not limited to Facebook, but the entire web (although you lose granularity of course). The trick is that it scrapes your RSS feed from various sites, and aggregates them into one single feed.

I’ve been thinking of replacing the main orangefever RSS feed with FriendFeed, but FriendFeed isn’t exactly what I wanted. FriendFeed’s RSS feed of me just lists the headline of each item in my aggregated feed, but I would rather have a “lifefeed” that contains the content of all of my feeds. Instead, I slapped together something in Yahoo! Pipes, and now I proudly present my LifeFeed*.

My LifeFeed contains my old “everything” feed (blogs, links and comments) and now replaces it. You’ll also get my Facebook status feed, YouTube feed, new Flickr pictures (Flickr’s no longer in my doghouse), Digg history (I should Digg more…), my public Picasa web albums, and my Xbox blog. Have fun stalking me!

* Internet life only

I have been passively searching for something more creative to work on than playing Warcraft to whittle away my time. Previously, I would probably have been interested in scripting orangefever more, but I think the software and functionality is now pretty mature; plus I don’t have a web environment setup on my new computer to test changes.

One idea was to write a program on Eclipse, mostly because that’s what I spend my days doing anyways. The difficulty was deciding what to build. Initially I thought of writing an address book application, but I already wrote a web-enabled version which is pretty complete for what I want to do. Recently I came upon the idea of writing my own RSS reader. One of the problems with my new computer was that I couldn’t find a good RSS reader. Feedreader, the one I use is adequate; but it doesn’t scale well, has a bunch of quirks/bugs, and is butt ugly.

I think I can do a better job, or at least write a reader that has quirks that I want, so my new project is to write a RSS Reader on top of Eclipse. Fortunately, there is a Java library called Informa that does all the heavy lifting of modelling and retrieving feeds, so I can concentrate on the UI. Now I just need to think of a name and create a sourceforge project.

I made a quick change, which had been on the back of my mind for awhile, to the blog tag cloud on my sidebar. Before it used to show an aggregate of the tags from every blog on orangefever, which wasn’t that reflective of what I am really blogging about nowadays (for example I would expect blogs tagged with to stop). Now I’ve updated it to only aggregate from my blogs of the last 12 months. Yes, I’ve been tagging a lot of blogs with dumb in the last year.

Next thing on the agenda is to improve my tagging folksonomy so my tag cloud will be more puffy. Either that or blog more.

I’ve kept most of my old websites around for nostalgia reasons and to see just how much time I’ve wasted on this hobby. It’ll probably be one of those things I can show my kids when they’re making their own web-houses in Second Life. This is where things got started you young’uns!

Looking through them last night, I discovered that when I started porting everything over into my first “real’ blog, I “missed” some entries; probably less that I overlooked them but more so because they were stupid. Perhaps now I am more secure in my writing skillz because I’ve added them in my August 2001 and September 2001 archives. There’s really nothing noteworthy in them, aside from maybe my 9/11 entries.

Also, it is in fact quite embarrassing how poor and juvenile my non-formal writing used to be. This was in 2001 which was 2nd year University! Yes blogging does help your writing (and capitalization, punctuation; not so much speeling though).


Today is a momentous occasion, because I’ve blogged my 1000th blog. I started some five years ago with title-less posts full of ellipses, and lacking capitals. Back then, I wrote about every little whim that came to mind, with a generous sprinkling of interesting links.

Over time, I re-learned how to use punctuation and capitalization. I’ve added titles, and syndication feeds. I started forming more coherent thoughts and arguments, and expanded my written vocabulary. I’ve tried writing tidy, concise blogs and long, rambling rants that belong in a diary. I branched out with , and a photoblog; in addition to incorporating photos and videos into my blogs.

There have been times when I ask myself why I bother writing to no one in particular, but I am writing for someone — me. My blog is documenting my life: the books that I’ve read, the concerts I’ve attended, and the places that I’ve visited. I can look back and see what I liked in 2004, and 2005. I can reminisce about how Warcraft and Urban Dead took a part of my life away.

Sure, the stalkers of the world can read about my public life; but I don’t care. I know there’s a fine line between blogging and losing your privacy; so that’s why I blog about the things that I would tell my friends anyways. I’m don’t try to be pretentious or misrepresent myself as being someone I’m not. If you google me and find my blog, you will meet the same person in real life. My blog, all 1000 entries of it, is the last five years of my life, in a nutshell.

I have a mental block preventing me from blogging (a blog, not links) more than once a day. The point of this is kind of like the photoblogging mentality; blog consistently and there won’t be long blocks of time where people visit your sites without any updates. So instead of blogging 5 times in 1 day, and then no more for the rest of the week, I just spread my posts over a week. Of course this point may be moot now that everyone uses RSS (you do use RSS right??).

I also have another mental block which prevents me from blogging multiple topics within one blog since it is an organizational nightmare when it comes to tagging. So, some days when I have a variety of marginal thoughts about various topics I don’t end up blogging anything. And I don’t blog them over several days because since by themselves the ideas aren’t substantial enough.

Also, I realized that I didn’t like blogging more than once a day because I wrote the code for the blog display in such a way that if I had multiple blogs per day, the date (i.e. day of the week) would appear multiple times. This doesn’t matter for the particular layout I have now, but it looked dumb previously. I seem to remember fixing this problem, but hey habits die hard.

So why don’t I blog more? I don’t know! I should. That will be my New Year’s Resolution for November.

Friday, a bunch of people went to go rock climbing again. I’m not really interested in rock climbing so I passed, but they came up to my ‘hood for some dinner at like midnight, so we hung out for awhile. I didn’t order anything, but it was at some Korean place whose name doesn’t come to mind, so there was a lot of freebie side dishes to feast on.

Saturday, Pauline and I went karaoke and then to this neat restaurant around the corner of Pacific Mall. I forgot the name of it now, the Chinese name makes more sense, because the English name is something like Honey & Garlic Restaurant, although they seem to serve all types of Chinese food (which may or may not have honey and or garlic). The place is neat because it was nicely decorated, well lit, clean and cheaply priced. They seem to have an abudance of dishwashers as they had a variety of saucers, lids and what not that was plainly unnecessary.

Sunday, I fixed up the orangefever layout a bit (new header, footer, and sidebar). Before, I was more in a rush to upload all my code changes, that I just slapped some sort of newish design up. It started bothering me so I created a new one. I also started playing some Warcraft 3 AT. DotA’s starting to get kind of boring, so I guess it’s time to switch back to what Warcraft really is.

I blogged previously about creating a new orangefever, and had been working the last few weeks on o5, my codename for this new version. Since I registered, I think I’ve created 5 major versions of this site hence the name. I had started out planning to make it all Web 2.0-y, but as I played around with some ideas, I came to realize that I couldn’t really make a blog UI very flashy (or couldn’t think of how to). The major Web 2.0 type things would be on the admin interface; stuff that doesn’t matter to you.

So I went ahead and recycled my code, adopted some best practices that I had learned since my last major version, and continued my evolution to a complete CSS layout. I was almost done, except for the comments section, when I couldn’t stand working on it anymore. So, now you see o5 released the public.

As I mentioned, the commenting system is not upgraded yet, you can still add comments, although you have to be logged in, but I want to make it refresh automatically, and pluggable into the individual post pages. Stuff that I suppose I will work on when I’m less busy.

Back in the day, I started orangefever and its previous incarnations (which were on free webspace sites like Tripod) writing plain old HTML. I guess I had a blog, but it really consisted of: “I added links”, or “My links are under construction”. It was really low tech, and I didn’t really know what to do with it aside from flexing my design aspirations.

Then, things progressed and becamse what we now call blogs. I wrote my own blog software because I was picky and wanted to do my own adjustments. At the same time, free software packages became better and better, WordPress became de-facto over Blogger, but yet I resisted moving to an established blogging solution. And I don’t think I ever will.

But what this blog is really about, is that I think it will become increasingly difficult to create your own website from scratch. Sure, it’s not too hard nor time consuming to write something that achieves what I have written now, but if you’re trying to write a web2.0-like website, it would take forever! Fortunately for us, this web 2.0 movement has matured the blog (and in general, web design) community so now we have libraries to call upon to do our dirty work.

So I have started working on orangefever 5.0, which will be a web 2.0 version of orangefever. I would love to make it all shiny and interesting, but I can’t really figure out how to integrate all these new bells and whistles into something useful!

Recently, I’ve been having issues with my photos on orangefever. For the last couple of years, my workflow for my photos consisted of:

  1. selecting some better or interesting ones,
  2. cropping them to a manageable size (800×600 but more recently 1024×768),
  3. rotating them if necessary,
  4. uploading them onto my web server,
  5. running a script to add them onto orangefever,
  6. adding a title, captions and tags to my photos

When I was not at home, I was OK with this doing this since I didn’t really have much to do otherwise, but now with the availability of TV and other random stuff at home, I’m too lazy to go through this process, especially when I have thousands of photos to go through from China and France.

So, I’ve been scratching my head about how I want to handle this. I still want to share my photos to other people, but I want to make it easier. The first solution I thought of was to use my backup. For the last maybe year or 6 months ago, I’ve been uploading all my photography online and slapping gallery2 in front of it to act as a UI. This seemed to be a good solution because I had to upload everything anyways (for backup), and if people are more interested in my work they had an opportunity to see everything. However, I soon found numerous drawbacks:

  • I take too many photos so it’s almost impossible to view all my photos (even I get bored looking at them),
  • Some of my photos are public and some are “private” but the permissions system in gallery2 sucks ass,
  • I had to manually rotate each photo individually, and 50% of my photos are vertical,

These may seem like small nitpicks, but they are not. In fact, if I had a better alternative, these disadvantages would be show stoppers!

So for solution #2, I looked at Flickr. Almost as long as I’ve been hosting my own photos, I’ve had a parallel Flickr account for some arty photos, but honestly I haven’t really uploaded photos nor used Flickr. With Flickr, I decided that I should pick only my best pictures and upload those. This idea also sucked because:

  • I like a “tiles” type of navigation and don’t really like flickr’s method of viewing photo (not really) thumbnails,
  • Flickr’s navigation makes it difficult to go through a large number of photographs without sets,
  • I don’t have a pro account so I can only have 150 photos, 3 sets and upload 20 mb per month,
  • I can’t rotate photos in my primary browser so I need to start up another one whenever I want to do this,
  • I don’t want to pay for a pro account because I already have tons of webspace, and Flickr’s UI sucks,

So there goes that idea.

Next, I found another webalbum type software called Zen Photo. It wasn’t really better than gallery2 aside from being more minimalist and simplistic at the cost of features (although it wasn’t so dead slow). This in itself wasn’t a great idea (at least gallery2 had permissions) but I also decided to limit the amount of photos I would be displaying. I decided on something called Annuals, which would be a set of photos that best described what I did in a particular year; not simply better or interesting photos from my collection. This means my photos are more viewable (i.e. there are not more than 50 per year) and because I plan on only updating them maybe every year or 6 months (or 3), it won’t be a lot of work. Unfortunately I lose my ability to tag photos and navigate in that manner.

Of course, because I don’t necessarily have confidence in this approach yet, I have kept all the previous options and my old photos online! You can choose what you want to do.

Recently, I have been rather lazy and unmotivated to put my photos on orangefever. I remember the year before, I would put tons of photos from wherever I went on here, but I think the fact that I am living at home has changed this. Now, I take a bunch of photos and have them sit in Picasa and only upload select (i.e. few) ones to orangefever. In fact, I could do away with hosting my own photos and use flickr due to my low amount of photos! Although, I am playing around with backuping up all my photos online, so maybe I will just send the traffic over there.

Also, since I had some rather noisy photos from China, I decided to stop using my camera’s auto ISO setting and shoot everything at ISO50. Seems to work pretty well in France, although I haven’t really spent time taking photos in dark places so I will need to see how that works out.

I’ve had a links blog called suberfantacularizzle for almost two years. I started it hoping that it would be a collaborative blog where everyone posts interesting links, but it turned out that I was the only one actively posting. So then it worked well for awhile as my web-enabled bookmarks.

So it has been like that for awhile, and since I didn’t really advertise it, it hasn’t really grown. Now I’ve decided that it doesn’t make sense for me to have a links blog separate from orangefever so I’ve added it back into the fold as a links miniblog. At some point I will also have the most recent links on the front page, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

The last while I’ve been c+p the old suberfantacularizzle content into the new links blog. Takes awhile as I had over 400 posts. Although I would say about 10% of the links have since disappeared. For this new links blog, expect more links to be posted but each having shorter descriptions (think of it like an elongated title). My previous goal for suberfantacularizzle was to have about a paragraph per link, but that actually ended up being hard to do.

As always, I’ve created a feed for my links and I think it makes more sense being viewed from the RSS feed.

I changed the layout slightly with the additions of some hip Web 2.0 corners. I thought it would be hard to do, but it’s actually simple. You just need to create a couple of images. Although, I am not particularly found of having to create the images themselves and would appreciate if 1) they could be generated completely, and easily from CSS, or 2) there was a PHP script that could create a corner given foreground and background colours and a radius.

Piggybacking on the whole Podcasting thing is Photocasting. The idea is sound, in the same vein as RSS feeds, I don’t want to bother checking if you have new photos, why don’t you tell me when you have new photos. So now I have a photostream over RSS.

But, I don’t really think it’s sound. Why? because it works great if I’m adding a couple of pictures each day. What if I add 100 photos all at once? You’ll only see the last 10 or 20 of them. So maybe RSS isn’t the way to go.

Last year, I uploaded about 635 photos onto orangefever, an increase of about 537 photos, or ~600%. It seems like a lot, and it is a pretty overwhelming number to have to look through in one sitting, but in reality it is only a fraction of the pictures that I took. My primary camera, which I started using midway through last year has a counter at about 3000 now so orangefever only has about 1 out of every 4 photo.

Even with that low of a ratio, I’m wondering if I upload too many photos. On the one hand, it would be nice to upload every photo I ever take so that I have an online copy, of course I already do that somewhat with my trip photos. On the other hand, that’s just way too many photos to go through for me let alone a visitor to my site. So this year, I think you will see a decrease in photos, unless I happen to go on a boat load of trips (which I doubt).

I installed and played around with Gallery v2 and it was pretty neat with lots of features. But, I don’t think I will switch over to it to display my photos anytime soon. Much like my blogging software, I like how I understand it and can customize it to my needs. Plus, I like the fact that I can tag everything.

P.S. If you can’t view my photos, it’s probably because you need to create an account and login first.

I’ve added an RSS feed for comments here on orangefever, so add it to your bloglines or whatever other RSS reader you use unless you like checking the site every day to see if anyone has commented (I know I don’t).

Here’s the url:

I have a whole bunch of things on the go that are half done but need to be done at some point. Anyways, today I was working on getting more exposure for these tag things on my blog.

Tags are I guess my take on blogging categories. I just file various posts under various categories by tagging them. It’s kind of the hip thing to do and easier than trying to figure out what category a blog belongs too. Anyways, I added this feature awhile ago (looking through the archives, I guess I never wrote a blog about it) and it’s been sitting languid for awhile.

So today, I added recently tagged blogs onto my sidebar, which is the main tags that I’ve been tagging my posts with lately (i.e. hot topics on orangefever). Also since some of my tags have a lot of posts (see music or school), I added pagination to the tag pages. Fortunately, it wasn’t as tough or time consuming as I thought it might be.

Ok, enough geek talk, time to half-do some other things.