Making Light of Things

May 2004 Archives

Childhood Education

Most people, when asked if their current jobs had anything to do with what they studied, would say there is little or no correlation. I’m three months into my job, and have applied what I studied and what I learnt along the way. Now that the site’s done I don’t know if the rest of the job (the cyclical routine part) will involve the amputation of what I know or what I enjoy continually learning about. Compounded to the problem I seem to have more responsibilities toward a lot more other people than I ever fathomed.

It’s a combination of putting my nose to the grindstone and doing what I truly enjoy. Do you learn to like what you do, or do you do what you like? It’s a chicken and egg question.

I just fear looking up forty years later to discover the plough I was so labouriously pushing hit a solid brick wall thirty-nine years ago.

World Class

This site is hosted under Verve Hosting. I have no regrets and no professional training, and I’d sign with them again in a heartbeat.

An email I received from them today:

The company (Pegasus/Dedicated Now) that the ontario server is leased from is rumored to be moving to a new datacenter this weekend. This rumored move will result in 6 - 12 hours of downtime. Supposedly Pegasus planned to give their customers less than 48 hours notice of this impending move. After this news was leaked, followed by an uproar from their customers, Pegasus will neither confirm or deny the planned move this weekend which was supposed to start at 12 a.m. Saturday morning.

While I can’t believe that such a major provider would pull a stunt like this I need to prepare you for the possibility. There is space available on our newer servers if you would prefer that your site be moved. If you can’t tolerate 6 - 12 hours of downtime this Saturday, simply respond to this message requesting that your site be moved and be sure to include your domain name.

Verve Hosting

Contrast that to Singapore’s own 8toinifnity (which I will not bother to link).

When I couldn’t get the answer I needed from them they emailed with the “we can help you but we’ll have to charge you for it” (on two separate occasions). I can’t even describe how royally pissed-off that made me.

Their reply?

Friend dun sound like that lah, I created for u the link for info

I almost fainted. I honestly didn’t know to laugh or to cry. It felt like I was communicating to a bunch of teenage girls. No top of that, it came across as if providing the information was some sort of favour they were doing for me.

MT on SQL still doesn’t work. Any 8to MT users out there using SQL?

Bling Bling

Argh!!! Blink tags gone crazy on the Rover Ring Tour (in New Zealand) webpage.

Curses, Spacefan for ever introducing this link to the rest of Middle Earth!

Stop Design

Douglas should stop design and play Bowman. I’m William Tell, I tell ya!

When Irish Noses Are Smelling

One of Faith’s students told her “you have a very sweet smell”.

She was inclined to take a whiff in case it was nasty, before realising what the kid meant was “you have a very sweet smile”.

Ching Chang Chong. That’s how we speak around here.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Seems like AL was googling for “nice guys finish last” when she bumped upon this gem of an article that raises the toast to the nice guys who well, finish last.

Reading the article brings back memories. I had an American roommate who was so wary of getting into the “friend zone” with girls, because it meant blowing all chances of “scoring”. Here in Singapore, things are a little different. Being in the friend zone is often a prerequisite to eventual matrimony.

Back to the article. I think I’ve pretty much lived my adult life as that stereotypical nice guy. Being the older brother of two sisters, built into my nature is a need to watch over, care for and protect the womenfolk around me. Truth be told, my marriage to Faith was an extension of that. I wanted to be her nice guy for the rest of our lives.

I still care for the people I used to care for, and the many new ones that come along. But I no longer care for them alone. Faith cares with me. Because two are better than one.

Shakespeare Used a Mont Blanc

The less sophisticated a computer application you use to code your webpages, the more über your skillz; but the more impactful the photographs you take, the more expensive they expect your camera to be.

It’s like telling Michael Jordan it’s all in the shoes.

What a Hack

Yes I’ve been up to my eyeballs designing what seemed like a rather simple site for my new employer. Of course, when you throw in tableless layouts and proper semantics, things start getting a little not-so-simple.

Cross-browser testing takes a huge chunk of your time when you’re going pure CSS.

“Oh it doesn’t work in IE6/PC? Let’s see if the Tantek Box Hack will work”.
“Something not where it should be? Let’s see if we can have that positioned absolutely”
What? IE2/Commodore64? Pleeease. Do us all a favour and update your browser.

Honestly, I’m almost ready to throw in the towel and quit the “Web Standards community”.

Continue reading What a Hack »


I just wanted to leave a comment on a friend’s xanga blog. Honest.

After typing out my carefully worded comment, I clicked on submit. Ok, now they bring me to this place to register before my comment can go through. My mind goes, “oh like Typekey” and I do it.

Bloody hell, now I have a Xanga blog. I feel like I need to go out there and buy a rice rocket with funky neon green lights illuminating the chassis. My Asian American punk-ass has caught up with me.

Changing Acronyms

pMachine has been wonderful to me. They gave me a free copy of Expression Engine!

It is perfect timing on their part, giving away their software when MovableType ran themselves into a ditch. I’m not saying I now hate the MT folks or anything. They certainly opened up a world for me. I supported and continue to support them. While their personal license raised a few eyebrows, I still think their commercial license rocks.

Home is Where

I sat at the coffeeshop downstairs yesterday morning. A coffeeshop in Singapore is not like the coffeeshops in the United States. It is not air-conditioned or modern. It is a rustic gem. Only a few are left relatively untouched by Singapore’s race to mini-superpower status.

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and sit at a café. It is all Sabrina’s fault. Sabrina’s pretty much my favourite movie of all time for the longest time now.

For months, no longer than that, a year, I sat at a café and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then it wasn’t nonsense. I found myself in Paris.

Lines like these, combined with a soothing soundtrack, etches in my mind the utopia that is found in the proverbial greener grass.

Here I am, sitting beside a rather busy road at 7 in the morning. Across the road a hole half a mile deep continues to get dug. A spiffy new train station is to be built there. In a corner of the coffeeshop a deranged man talks to himself. He does this every morning. I order my breakfast, half-hoping that if I wished hard enough, I’d find myself sitting along a river in Paris. Doesn’t happen.

Breakfast arrives. Roti prata (Indian bread) with curry on the side. As I sink my teeth into its flaky crust a slow transformation takes place. The hole in the ground and the deranged man stop being items on a complaint list and become characters in my mental explorations.

Who brings the deranged man here? When does he leave? Who are the foreign (mostly Bangladeshi) workers who toil all day and night, depriving me of good sleep? Where are their famlies?

For all my life I’ve sat at coffeeshops like these, never really seeing things with a tourist’s curious eye. And suddenly it was not nonsense. You could say that I found myself in prata and a bowl of curry.

MovableType Moved Away

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that I’ve been around the block as far as blogging is concerned. I started off hand-coding my pages (which looks like crap), moved to Blogger and bought the t-shirt. Then I paid for Blogger Pro because I thought having a place to put a title was cool. Greymatter appeared and I tried it for a while, then moved to MT because I could create multiple blogs on a single installation. I’ve been toying around with WordPress and Textpattern. Sub-categories. Yummy stuff.

Now with SixApart’s announcement of MT3 and Mena’s reassurance that they’re still committed to making MT free while getting their pricing right I think I’m not the only feeling royally screwed.

The free version only allows one author and three blogs. When I was using Blogger, I used multiple logins to create multiple blogs, and then server-side-includes to pull them all into one page. Don’t think I can possibly live with the three-blog limitation.

You can’t give something away and then take it back. If they offered something more substantial than the free version of MovableType, I may feel compelled to buy it.

I have always outgrown my software. It feels this time like my software has outgrown me.

Never Say Die

I just stunned a mosquito by frantically swiping my hands in the direction of the soft buzzing sound. It fell of my shirt, still moving. Not wanting to stain my shirt with bug juice or human blood, I picked it up by its legs. The bloody (literally) thing bit my finger!

Pissed off as I was, I tried to kill it fast. I mistimed the body slam against the desk and it flew off, scoffing at my incompetence.

Revenge will be mine!


When I first saw the newly redesigned Blogger, I could have sworn I saw Douglas Bowman’s spectre. It had the same feel as Bowman’s redesign. The soft brown shades. The dark blue top is patented Stopdesign blue.

The new rounded corners and generally friendlier atmosphere is a true amalgamation of Google, which acquired Blogger not all that long ago. Ev has a slightly edgier feel, sort of like alternative music. But Blogger, now with Google’s considerable muscle behind it, is nothing alternative.

I’ve written about how blogging-tools-turned-CMS like pMachine’s Expression Engine, WordPress and MovableType have a fierce head-to-head battle lined up ahead.

Blogger doesn’t yet compete on features, but is aimed at the beginner to intermediate blogger. If you remember how Google began, and the vast functionality it is offering as a search engine now, it is almost safe to assume that Blogger will work its way to the masses before adding more features to attract the small trendsetting elite.

Heck, template designs by Dan Cederholm, Todd Dominey, Dave Shea and The Zeldman made me to dig into my old paid Blogger account.

Update: Matt, being the hawkeye that he is, reminds me that Dave Shea redesigned Mozilla, not Doug Bowman. I must still be living in bizarro world where Dave is Doug and Doug is Dave.

Carry Your Camera

Old Donald Rumsfeld being grilled about the “alleged” torture of Iraqi prisoners.

We’re functioning in a — with peacetime restraints, with legal requirements in a war-time situation, in the information age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon.

Ok, when he said “unbelievable photographs”, I don’t think he meant great-looking photos. I can testify that it’s really very hard to photoshop a group of Iraqi prisoners piled up naked in a pyramid.

Call it like it is, Donald. Rape rooms are back.

Too Far Away

I miss you so much. So much I just want to hide a corner and cry my eyes out.

There’s no point crying over spilt milk, they say. But how will I ever know if the milk meant anything to me if I don’t cry? Do I simply take a deep breath and suck it in? I could do that; and I can’t.

I can’t because I love you too much. I see online pictures of your baby, read about how you made new friends in Pittsburg, or the new PDA you bought. The Internet does wonders in bringing people so many miles away close together, yet it only serves to highlight the fact that we are so very far away.

I wish I could have been there. Visited you in California, played basketball with you in Arizona, comforted you in Chicago, accompanied your meet-the-parents session in Japan.

There is a small spark of anger in me at the fact that I’m sitting in my grey cubicle working on something vaguely meaningful while you’re growing up.

I fell in love with you, Arizona. But you’re moving all over the world.

That really breaks my heart, you know?

I Hate My Backspace Key

It is easy to detatch ourselves from the real world, especially when you spend hours upon hours coding. It reality of a colleague leaving hit me when I coded his particulars onto a “Contact Us” page, and then realised I would have to take it out in a month.

The feeling sucks.

Poor Man's Photo

In my opinion, it is harder to be a good amateur photographer than it is to be a mediocre professional photographer.

The pros have budgets to take them places, budgets to buy them backdrops or lighting equipment to get the photograph they desire. They have the time to execute out their ideas because it is their job.

Most of my photos ever since I started work revolve around the journeys I take to and from work. It doesn’t help that work-life in Singapore has us running like cheetahs on steriods. I’m thankful that I get to go home before it gets dark, even though I choose not to a lot of the time.

I wish I had the time to just drive out to the open spaces to enjoy a sunset. Problem is we have no open spaces, and I don’t have a car.

Need a portrait with your loved one? One of your growing kid? Your dog? Got a great view of the sunset from your place? Want to bring me to Italy?

Tell me. I’ve got an extremely twitchy shutter-finger. I need to take some photographs.

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