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.

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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.

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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!
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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. 

Honey, I’m Home?

After some nail-biting and a lot of much-appreciated help from Karen it looks as if things might have moved over properly, but please let me know if you experience any errors accessing the site. I’m hoping this site’s new home will be more reliable than its last, and Karen has given me far more server space than I need. I guess it’s time I start distributing pr0n.

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A House Is Not A Home

I know it’s been quiet around here lately, one reason being that my web host’s uptime has been extremely sporadic. The last time this happened, Karen very generously offered to host me. I didn’t make use of it at the time because I didn’t have the spare time to research moving WordPress between servers and was scared I’d screw something up, but I’ve finally managed to look into it and will be taking the plunge this weekend.

So things may be a bit iffy around here for a few hours or days as the move takes effect, but hopefully I shall emerge from the murky depths dripping resplendently like Ursula Andress. (Aside: I googled “Ursula Andress bikini” just to make sure I’d got the pop culture reference right, and this was the first hit. I know the wonders of the Internet should cease to amaze me at some point and I would have fully expected to find bikini photo galleries from my search, but not a site that apparently bases most of its analysis “upon the work of Flugel and his study of the shifting erogenous zones”.)

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Feed Foulups

If you use Google Reader to keep up with this blog, I’ve noticed that it’s often out of sync with the latest updates, and some (like my recent blip about a Microsoft Paint summary of Watchmen) never get displayed at all. I’ve looked but haven’t managed to find out how to deal with this, so:
– if you’re a Google Reader user and it looks like I haven’t updated in a while, try visiting the page itself
– if you’re not a Google Reader user, please bear with me if you see things republished a few times, I’m just trying to figure out what the hell will make Google Reader figure out that something’s been updated here

Meow Culpa

Google’s cache allowed me to restore all the posts I thought I’d lost, but not all of the comments. I’ve manually re-entered the comments that the cache did capture, but unfortunately I know that at least some comments by James, t, dubdew and Kelly (possibly others which I can’t recall) were lost. I’m sorry about that, everyone – I do really love that people participate here, and I wish I’d protected your comments better.

As a mark of my penitence I have made this commemorative lolcat.

pensive casey lolcat

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The short explanation is that my incredibly incompetent host 24hostingnow culminated many years of highly unsatisfactory service by descending into a massive downtime lasting several days, after which they were of course unable to restore my site to anything other than an error-filled shitfest. Since their backups were ridiculously outdated, the site eventually had to be restored from my relatively less outdated backup – which still means I’ve lost almost every post since the redesign.

I am obviously rather bummed by this, but in the context of eight years of blog content, 1.5 months is not a tragedy. It’s my own fault for not backing up more regularly, given that I already knew my hosts were nimrods. I guess I’d never got into the habit before because with Movable Type my content always survived server problems. Yet another way WordPress makes my life way more troublesome than Movable Type ever did, but what’s done is done.

I’m not sure whether to try and recreate the lost posts or just move on. There’s a lot of background work I will definitely have to do (because I’d done a lot of category resorting and tagging which was probably lost as well), but hopefully that shouldn’t affect the surface functioning of the site. But anyway, I’m just glad I could finally tell you guys I’m not dead, just technically incapacitated. In the meantime, anyone got a good, affordable web host to recommend?

Update: Praise the Lord, Krishna, Guan Yin, Xenu and above all, GOOGLE! Have recovered a fair amount of stuff from Google’s cache, and will reinstate it soon. Yay!