In Which I’ve Been Up to No Good Again

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My Good Ol’ Photoshop in Action (Painter tab is minimised there)
Again, it’s a Reborn! fanart. What else do I draw this past few months? Lol.

I’m finally updating this blog after a long while. My inconsistency astounds even myself, and that’s pure sarcasm right there. Hur. I’ve been updating my Livejournal, Dreamwidth and some other logs, but not my main blog. What a shame. Since I’m still lazy to construct proper paragraphs, I’ll just write in bullet points.

  • Rikaichan has been pampering me way too much and now I’m lazier than ever to browse through my dictionary for unfamiliar kanji characters.
  • I just realised that I can now understand 98% of fast Japanese speech in J-Dramas/Anime without looking at the dictionary. This helps when I’m watching (more like listening to, actually) Zetsubou-sensei’s random tales dripping with pure poisonous sarcasm. Who said self-teaching doesn’t pay off, huh?
  • Japanese writing skills have improved at least 50% more now that I have a bilingual Japanese/English fanwork site to maintain. Replying to visitor comments, e-mails and webclap comments helps a lot.
  • My drawing skills are improving steadily although they still suck like there’s no tomorrow.
  • I may need to buy a new tablet before going back to Malaysia. Problem? I’m broke. Broke. BROKE!! *sobs*
  • I think my Linguist 307 assignment was CRAP. Oh well, the subject IS crap anyway.
  • I should be doing my Langtchg 302 assignment, but I’m still procrastinating
  • I’ve been reclaiming all blog posts that I can retrieve from my old domains via Wayback Machine. It’s a great, great help. I’m feeling nostalgic just looking at those old sites. Greymatter, b2, Movable Type and Newspro days! How nostalgic indeed~
  • Services offered by FC2, Ninja Tools and a few other sites ROCK!! I’ll be perusing the web for more similar awesomeness.

Before I forget:

HAPPY RAMADHAN AND HAPPY FASTING TO MYSELF AND ALL MY MUSLIM FRIENDS!

Now I wonder how long it’s going to take until my next update.

Moving and Choosing a New Web Host is Taxing

Time for another long rant. I’m trying to save money by moving to a new host. Media Temple has been VERY wonderful to me that the only thing I worried about was money (hahaha). I worked last year, so paying for the site isn’t so bad. This year, though, I just did a little bit of work for very few clients before stopping completely. I’m in my last semester of university before I’ll be flying back to Malaysia for my last year teacher training (dread, dread, dread!). I like repeating that last sentence. It gives me a reality check aaaalll the time.

I actually have no idea why I’m being extremely picky about choosing a new webhost. Maybe I’m creeped out by the WP-Memory-Usage plugin showing me that on PHP 5.2.6, a very small blog like Caramel Toffee uses at least 20.2mb memory. Imagine throwing two more WP blogs, one Wacintaki Poteto board and one SMF board into the pit. The ease of mind only comes because I know at least 99mb memory is allowed by my current host. On Tektonic, I was always reduced to tears because of the VPS memory issues. On Hostgator, I was asked to either upgrade to a dedi or leave because of memory issue PLUS server load.

Oh, the heck? Caramel Toffee only gets 300 visitors at most per day. On normal days, it’s either 50 or 125 or so. Even Junjou only gets 500 to 1000 visitors per day and our forum isn’t as active as it once was. So what’s killing the memory? Poor scripts?

Oh, back to the memory usage stuff. On PHP 4.4.8, Project Catharsis uses up 15.6mb, but that’s understandable because I’m using NextGen Gallery plugin. I still need to be careful, though because Lax Host only allows 32mb memory limit. I don’t think I’ll move PC from Lax Host. It only costs me $10/yr with the free domain. The only dissatisfaction I have with Lax Host is that I have to manually CHMOD folders to 755. By default, new folders would be assigned to the permission of 775. I realised this when I was trying to get my CGI scripts to work. I kept getting 500 error page. Ugh.

I installed Akismet too late from getting Project Catharsis to accumulate over 1,800 spam comments labeled as ‘Awaiting Moderation’. Thank goodness for Akismet. Got it to check for spams, managed to get all messages labeled as spams and delete them all in one go. I need to remember to disable comments because PC is only using WP as a CMS, not a blog.

Basically, what I’m looking for in a new host and what I need are: Apache 2.2 or Litespeed, PHP 5.2.x, MySQL 5.0.x or 5.1.x, CGI/Perl, SSI, extra bonus if the server supports SQLite. If t supports multiple domain hosting, I want each domain to have its own root, not just an add-on domain where it points to public_html/addondomain. In other words, True Multiple Domain Hosting. SSH is a big plus because I’ll be needing it to do SQL dumps and direct file transfer from good ‘ol {mt} to the new host. From what I’ve read, most free site migration services only extend to sites previously hosted on WHM/cPanel. Well, what the hell? If I’m on WHM, why the hell would I even want to waste time waiting for them to migrate my sites when I could damn well do it on my own easily from the control panel? Somehow, the offer sounds very unattractive.

I’ve been offered reseller accounts, but I don’t need a reseller account. I don’t even need unlimited anything because well, it is limited (inodes, CPU, whatever else – what’s the point of having unlimited storage when you only have, say, 50k inodes?). I only need around 2-10GB of space with at least 10GB monthly data transfer (50gb-100gb at most).

Although paying for a whole year of hosting is money-saving, I don’t think I can do that. This is not about chucking out a lump of money. It’s about satisfaction. I like being able to pay on a monthly basis because then I could cancel my account and look for other hosts if I’m not satisfied (or need more features) after 3 to 6 months. I’m capricious that way. If I don’t like it, I move on.

I was seriously considering going for Vector Level until this evening when I get the glorious Page Load Error message. Their main site was (and still is at the point thentry is being writen) down. So much for still having 100% uptime for July (I checked their Pingdom). Hosts I’m still considering now are: Crucial Paradigm, Site5 and Webfaction. I’ve been considering A2 Hosting too, but then I won’t get the multidomain hosting that I want although their PHP memory_limit is set to an atractive 128mb. Aquarius Storage has 100mb initial memory limit which you can ask to be raised, and Pronet Hosting has the limit of 64mb, but the latter’s offering super cheap 1 year of shared hosting for signups in July – I figure they’re going to get heaps of signups. Then there’s AnHosting and Midphase, Pivotal Web and a bunch others which promise high performance hosting. I also looked at Malaysian hosts like DataKL, Mercumaya and Serverfreak, but of course they only offer yearly signup (like AnHosting and Midphase).

I need something of high performance because I’m developing something (more like experimenting) with RoR (pretend you didn’t hear that from me). Searching the web for something like ‘Top 10 Webhosts‘ is of no help. Most of them are listed as TOP 10 because they offer very attractive affiliate rewards. I believed them, once, and went for Hostgator. It brought me to tears six months later and I started cursing ‘unlimited plans’ like there’s no tomorrow.

This post is getting too long for my liking. I shall go back to lamenting and searching and comparing, then.

p.s/ Webfaction is winning my heart like WHOA at the moment~

Why Blogspot When I Have Livejournal and Dreamwidth, etc?

I seriously need to work on my holiday and practicum entries, but I’m feeling extremely lazy for lengthy recaps. And some people who asked me these questions left me thinking:

Friend A: Why aren’t your journals on Blogspot?
Friend B: What’s Livejournal?

They’re so internet savvy, so it appals me that they don’t know about Livejournal. I can be sure they have no ideas about the LJ Strikethrough that shook the blogosphere or the recent development and emergence of Dreamwidth. If you ask me to compare Blogspot with WordPress, Livejournal and most recently Dreamwidth, I’d say Blogspot is MOST DEFINITELY on the bottom of my list. Heck, even Vox is at least ten times better.

Purpose of A Blog, and Privacy Level

Is it personal or commercial? Why are blogs suddenly popular after a few years of it’s initial existence? Why do everybody have blogs now? Some keep blogs for commercial purposes, but some wants it to be personal. It makes me wonder why personal blogs are kept on Blogspot, which offers no post privacy filters. If I want to keep it personal, and allow only a few to read my entries, or even keep the blog entries to myself, I would choose a blog provider which allows me to control ‘who can certain entries’. It’s more effective than making the entire blog private. Sometimes, you want to share your entries with select friends. Sometimes, you just want to keep them to yourselves. Sometimes, you want to share your entries with anyone at all.

This is why I love Livejournal (LJ) and Dreamwidth (DW) so damn much. Of course, I love InsaneJournal, Greatestjournal, JournalFen (IJ, GJ and JF respectively) and other LJ-based providers too, but my best experience had been with LJ and recently DW. I can make it so that my blog entries can only be read by friends who also have accounts there. I can make it so everyone in the WWW can read them. I have that freedom.

The new development of Dreamwidth (currently in open beta) is even more wonderful. New privacy options let me have greater control of my journal entries. If you were to have a look at my DW now (http://adlina.dreamwidth.org), you can only see one entry when I actually have a total of 5 entries. Same with my Livejournal. Out of 325 journal entries (I’ve been using LJ for six years~ 325 is a small number, sadly.), the public eye can only read 160 of them. The rest are either private or shared with friends, who are DW/LJ users.

Ongoing Conversation and Meaningful Discussions

LJ and DW makes me feel alive. You write something, someone clicks reply, and you can click reply on the person’s comment. In other words, the wonders of threaded comments (like WordPress, but we all know WP is a bit slow to implement this features). Have a look at a sample comment thread from my LJ:

ljcomthread

It’s an ongoing conversation, people. It looks alive. If you have something you disagree with, you can always argue. The arguments can continue. Other people can also join in the discussion. The thread doesn’t have to be between two people.

If you want to one person’s comments invisible to other commenters, you can screen the comments. This way, no one knows about your private discussion with the other person. You can also delete their comments if you want to.

Sense of Community

You can join and create communities with LJ-based journals. What’s the point of keeping your short stories or poetry or even songs to yourselves? Joining specific communities can help promote your artistic pieces. Share them with other people and get into discussions about them. It’s your chance to get feedbacks and even constructive criticisms. The latter is hard to come by these days. Comments of “Wow, it’s cool!” is getting so old and lame and bleh.

communitydwOne of the communities I’m in helps me with my language learning. It’s very useful when you have native speakers correcting your works and help you improve. Information exchange, file sharing – you name it. We have it all.

Friends Page / Reading Page

You don’t have to individually open each blog to read your friends’ newest entries. You don’t even have to subscribe to their RSS feeds if you don’t feel like it. Just click on your friends page, without the apostrophe, (or ‘reading page’ in DW) and then you can read the entries of everyone you have access to. If you want to comment, just click on comment straight away. Easy as that. Your friends page will also show newest posts in communities you subscribe to if you don’t filter them out. I usually filter communities and individuals

profilepage

You can always go to your profile and click on ‘view entries’ for friends or communities. Instant filter 😉

Conclusion to Friend A: No, I will never have a working journal on Blogspot.

To Friend B: I hope you have a clear idea now.

Project Catharsis + $10/yr Hosting + Free .Com Domain = A Giddy Me

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Umm…. It’s kind of overwhelming, really. I went through a few stages before buying this new domain for my project.

Stage 1: Too lazy to think of a new, extravagant name, I settled for my old project name – Project Catharsis. It’s about time I realise this project. I’m so old already (ahh, I’m going to turn 22 by the end of this year?! Oh, time…). It would be a waste if I don’t use up my RPG Maker VX license. I wanted to buy project-catharsis.com from Namecheap. And then GoDaddy has this promotion for .info domains, selling at $0.99. Add another $14 and I’ll get both .com and .net domains too. So, I went “Hmmmm….”.

Stage 2: I was browsing around lazily for a new host. I thought of hosting this project on another server because Junjou is consuming a hell lot of resources because of the traffic boost (I was sure it quietened down, but well). For lulz, I randomly searched for $10/yr domain hosting. Hey, there’s one over here, $10/yr for 100GB diskspace and 2000GB bandwidth/month. Cool~

Stage 3: I was so sure I was going to buy a .info domain and buy hosting from the site above. I logged on to my Web Hosting Talk account and suddenly saw this thread by a person from LaxHost. Er… What, $10 annually for 3GB of space, 40GB monthly bandwidth and a free domain name? I’m a sucker a cheap stuff. Hehe… Yes, I just never learn, but I have had experience with LaxHost before, and they’re kind of nice. None of Hostgator’s bastardry that I can remember from them.

Stage 4: Though the space and bandwidth is a lot less from the one I previously considered, it’s still a very good deal for me. I won’t be using much space, and I don’t think I’ll ever get much  traffic from a small, non-profit, personal project (not counting the t-shirt designs and XHTML/CSS business, of course). So I settled for LaxHost’s generous offer and grabbed myself a spot for a mere $10 per year.

Project Catharsis: Shut up, I know it’s a lame name. Possibly the lamest you’ve ever heard, but I still like it. It even shortens to PC, lol. PC is a collection of my original works – novels, comics, RPG games. I’m quite a dreamer, and I’m sometimes always overwhelmed by random ideas and plotlines. It’s high time I put my ideas on paper (internet, whatever) and put it somewhere memorable. Contributions like graphics, sprites, and ideas are loved and happily welcome~ Heck, I’d welcome anyone who’d like to join PC too. Fantasy world rules!

I can go at a leisurely pace with this project since it’s not a blog. Yay!

p.s/ On a random note: Until today, I still have a soft spot for Surpass Hosting. They’re the first hosting company I’ve ever been with, and they’re awesome.

Poetry Migration + Garden of Lies

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I’m currently in the middle of migrating all my poetry and lyrics to the Creative Vault section. It’s going to make my life a whole lot easier to keep them in one place where I can access them as well as my blog entries. It’s going to take a while, since I have a huge library of lyrics and poetry. It has also been a while since I last written anything that I could claim to be ‘poetry’. Muse, where art thou? The lack of thy presence saddens me, for I can’t craft without thee. Lol.

Resurrecting my old original story + RPG project is even harder. RPG Maker is behaving wonderfully, so I probably could start with the map soon. Let’s see how patient I can be this time around. I remember the time when my RPG project using RPG Maker was a huge success, complete with my own music, characters, backgrounds and of course, events and special effects. The ‘me’ who was a lot younger was more creative than the ‘me’ now. Whatever did I do to myself, I wonder?

As a fresh start, I’ll be changing the title to Garden of Lies. Despite it being such a lame ass unoriginal title, it fits the storyline. Heck, I even pissed myself off with my own plot. It’s not everyday you feel like strangling your own characters and the f-ed up world they live in.

The best part about this original story is the law – the judicial system in the Garden of Lies. I get to design the tradition, the constitution, decrees – just about everything. Fantasy is a dangerous thing, but it helps with creativity, no?