Please Read This If You Subscribe To Updates

If you subscribe to updates from this blog through a reader (like Google Reader) or email, it’s possible that I may encounter some serious problems in getting those updates to you in the near future. Essentially, Google appears to be extremely meh about Feedburner (the service I use to get those updates to you) and may soon be shutting it down for good.

Read on to make sure you stay subscribed!

Collected Tweetlinks

Twitter link flotsam from the past few weeks, which I persist in collecting here because I can’t quite handle the ephemerality of Twitter. But do follow @syntaxfreeblog if you’re into that!

Don’t Call it A Comeback, I’ve Been Here For Years

From The Blogging Cycle – Back To The Beginning (found via another good take on the subject, Are Personal Blogs Making A Comeback?):

I’ve noticed an interesting shift in blogging. In short, there’s a trend moving away from hyper-focused niche blogs, back to what I’d call “personality” blogs. It makes me think of when I started writing online in 2000, and I like it.

As someone who also started writing online in 2000, I have often wondered, in observing the massive changes to the blogosphere over the years, whether I should jettison this blog and start a new one which focuses on just one of my various interests (and doesn’t do weird non-SEOptimized things like quoting LL Cool J for its post titles). As pitiful as it sounds to say this about something that’s been a part of my life for the past 12 years, the days when it had many regular readers and active commenters seem long past and I have a feeling hardly anyone would notice its disappearance. But each time I consider the idea seriously, something in me can neither bear to abandon something that I’ve truly loved creating, nor change its essential premise.

I unfortunately doubt the purported comeback of the personal blog will do very much for the fortunes of this particular personal blog, unless there just happen to be hordes of people roving the Internet in search of that one other person who also loves Sonic Youth, roasted chickpeas, lindy hop and tiny zoological museums containing walrus penis bones (just taking a cross-section of the most recent 2 pages of content). But it is nice to know I am not alone in my attachment to the idea of a blog which is simply intended to reflect the personality of its writer, without simultaneously attempting to shoehorn that personality into a “personal brand” for monetization.

Collected Tweets

Twitter link flotsam from the past few weeks. Follow @syntaxfreeblog if you want to get these when they’re funkyfresh!

Collected Tweets

I decided to add a little value to the @syntaxfreeblog Twitter account by tweeting here and there about stuff I’m enjoying, but I still like the idea of collating those here for the record rather than losing them forever in the Twitter swamp. Where possible, I might also rephrase them better than I could on Twitter, or add a little value here which I didn’t have space to mention there. Here are a bunch:

Slightly Social Syntaxfree

Just a quick note to let you know about some minor tweaks I’ve made over here:

  • You can now follow @syntaxfreeblog on Twitter to get notified of new posts, or if you prefer email notifications you can subscribe to those instead. (As always, you can also subscribe in a reader, which is my own preferred way of keeping up with the blogs I read.)
  • If you find it a hassle to type in a name and email address to leave comments, you can now comment using your Twitter or Facebook identity. Bear in mind, though, that this is purely for your convenience – I personally still prefer to choose which name and email address I want to associate with comments I leave elsewhere.
  • If you are reading this on a smartphone, you are seeing this blog repackaged in a smartphone-friendly format. Yay!

Tenth Blogging Birthday!

Is it weird to want to hug a bunch of electrons? And is it even weirder that I made them a little birthday bunting?

Technically, today just marks ten years of blogging for me – in essence, ten years of applied self-absorption – but I feel instead like it’s my child’s birthday or something, and that if I don’t make enough fuss over it, the blog will be sad. Which is why I ended up spending a truly embarrassing amount of time trying to make that crappy bunting in Photoshop Elements. I even learned how to use brushes and all, but let’s just say everything looked much better in my head.

So yeah, welcome to the party! Have a balloon! Might as well make as much use as I can out of the damn brushes.

Now that I’ve managed to break my own heart with the shitness of my party deco (the same strange part of my imagination that made me ascribe human emotions to a blog is now picturing said blog wearing a dented party hat and giving half-hearted honks on one of those curly party horns), I’ll redirect your attention to the other redecorating I’ve done around here. It’s not a radical makeover at the moment and is still a work in progress, but it’s a good foundation for the additional tinkering I intend to do in future. What do you think? More grown up? More boring? More cowbell?

Anyway, HAPPY TENTH BIRTHDAY, DEAR BLOG! I love you very much, even though I bet you wish you’d got a McDonalds party instead.

Veni, Vidi, Voltaire

Over the years I have used many excuses for neglecting this blog, but I bet invoking Voltaire is still a new one: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” The various other distractions in my life have meant that I haven’t been devoting as much headspace to writing blog entries as I used to, with the result that I have a bunch of incomplete ones lying around which I started, felt dissatisfied with, and never finished. Of course, this means that rather than deciding to either work on improving those entries or trashing them and starting anew, I became hopelessly trapped in a quagmire of guilt and inertia.

In my defence, while I admittedly lack this basic life skill of Not Being So Freaking Neurotic, I did spend the time away somewhat usefully. I’ve done some good cooking, taken photographs I’m proud of, stencilled my own T-shirts and made a photobook of our January trip to Laos, among other things. It may not seem like much, but when you’re not very artistic it can take up a lot of time and energy to design and lay out a photobook which doesn’t look like it’s been authored by Stevie Wonder.

Anyway, where I’m going with all this is that this blog turns ten – ten! – years old on November 7th, 2010, and I couldn’t bear the thought of letting that anniversary pass with the deafening silence that’s been the norm here lately. I love this blog, and I regret that I’ve let it slide so much over the past few years. I update my Facebook profile often enough with random observations and drunken Youtube odysseys, but obviously that will all disappear into the ether when Facebook’s star fades and we all move on to the next big social networking thing. And whatever transient warm fuzzies I might get from a few “Likes” there, nothing really compares to the joy and satisfaction blogging has given me – the internal ordering of thoughts that writing always forces me to tackle, the intrigue of other people’s responses, and, years later, the invaluable experience of being able to look back in time with far more clarity than memory alone will allow.

So all this has been a convoluted way of saying I’m back, really. Cross my heart, pinky swear, back. I can’t promise that all my posts will be humdingers because I have embraced Monsieur Voltaire as my new yogi in this regard, but they will at least appear more regularly than they have been. And because another quote attributed to my new yogi is “The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out,” I’ll end here for now. See you soon. 

Clearing Decks

I’m all “New laptop! New start!” at the moment and totally geeking out over reinstalling all my favourite software (which of course also includes copious online research on whether all these programs are still theeeee best ones for me), and since I spend more time surfing the web than any responsible adult should, a big part of this is achieving optimal Firefox zen. But before I went on a trawl for shiny new extensions to fill surfing needs I never knew I had, I decided I needed to do a little bookmark pruning. I haven’t been the best at keeping my bookmarks under control over the years, which became a lame reason for me not to use online bookmark syncing services like Foxmarks because I felt like this would only encourage me to perpetuate my disorganized shitpile rather than lick it into shape, and this needs to change soon.

A particularly mucky sump in my bookmarks toolbar was the folder I’d called “To Blog”, where I would happily drag links with every intention of blogging them but then blithely continue surfing and never get round to writing the entry. Once the dropdown list of bookmarks in this folder reached the bottom of my screen, I ostriched my head in the sand and just stopped adding bookmarks there. To the best of my recollection, the contents of this folder have not changed since maybe 2006. But upon exploration I found there was still some good stuff in there! Just so that I can delete it with peace of mind, here it is:


  • Grief, Gratitude and Baby Lee: Beautiful, poignant article about perinatal hospices. I hope people know that the anti-abortion community isn’t actually all about murdering doctors and hating on women.
  • Soulseeking: From now-defunct (and sadly missed) Stylus magazine, Nick Southall writes about the conundrum of loving music so much that you sometimes forget how to love it, something I’ve grappled with for years. In 2005 when the article was written, there were definitely some readers of this blog who would’ve identified with it. I’m not sure if they’re still here any more but if the article resonates with you, holla.



I only mentioned File magazine once here before but loved way more photographs than I linked to at the time.