Tag Archives: Blog


We’ve become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things.

But the most powerful tool on the web is still words.

I wrote these words, and you’re reading them: that’s magical. I’m in a little city in British Columbia; you’re probably somewhere else. I wrote this early in the morning, June 20th, 2013; you’re probably reading it at a different time. I wrote this on my laptop; you could be reading this on your phone, a tablet or a desktop.

You and I have been able to connect because I wrote this and you’re reading it. That’s the web. Despite our different locations, devices, and time-zones we can connect here, on a simple HTML page.

I wrote this in a text editor. It’s 6KB. I didn’t need a Content Management System, a graphic designer, or a software developer. There’s not much code on this page at all, just simple markup for paragraphs, hierarchy, and emphasis.

via Words.

In my never-ending quest for a new blog theme, I’m constantly on the lookout for something that looks similar to the ideal theme I have in my mind, which is as whimsical as a light summer’s breeze. I’ve used the current theme for around two years, and as much as I like it, it might be time for find something new.

Choosing a new theme is harder than it might sound: you can’t just pick any theme that you think looks good. Most of the time, the live demos of potential themes don’t really give you a feel of how your content will look in different skin. When looking for a new theme, you have to consider things like typography and layout, and even then, you still have to worry about the WordPress-specific stuff; post formats, video embeds, images with captions, and so on. You have to be super picky about the theme that you do eventually choose, because it’ll likely represent the whole look and feel of your blog/website for years to come. It’s no small undertaking, if you take it seriously (which you should).

And honestly, one of the hardest things about making choosing  a new WordPress theme is that it’s kind of hard to find something even vaguely suitable, never mind one that has the layout and features you might be looking for. There’s an absolute tonne of themes out there — which you might think is good, until you actually start looking for something that suits your particular site. Check out any theme catalog and you’ll see a million and one themes which are totally unsuitable for a blog. I know that WordPress is now a fully fledged CMS and whatnot, but remember when it was about writing content that you could publish online? What’s with the portfolio/magazine/everything-but-a-focus-on-actual-words themes all over the place? Look at the first nine or so themes on WooThemes — apparently one of the better WordPress theme shops out there — and tell me how many would be suited to, you know, publishing actual words.

Even those statically-built websites (Jekyll, Octopress, and the like) have great default themes. As much as I like WordPress, I’ve been tempted to switch to blogging with Octopress in the past, but haven’t really looked into it seriously. There’s a lot of WordPress advantages that mean I haven’t left just yet. It has an insane community, for starters, and it’s extremely extensible and customisable. Plus, I’m kind-of, sort-of, familiar with PHP, making WordPress a pretty good fit so far. Unfortunately, it’s also a victim of its own popularity: it’s gotten to the point where trying to find the right thing for what you want to do might be more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe I should have backed the Ghost Kickstarter after all.

Either I’m not looking in the right places, or what I’m looking for — a minimalist theme with great typography that’s responsive and optimised for the kind of writing you see right here — just doesn’t exist. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever find the perfect WordPress theme. The current theme — Minblr, from Themify — is pretty good, but it’s not perfect. There’s honestly not a lot I could do to improve it without making some major changes, and if I’m going that far, it might just be easier to find another theme altogether, you know?

Of course, I could just go ahead and make my own from scratch, but WordPress themes are a lot of work. Besides, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel — if I can get by with customising something someone else has already made, I’ve saved a tonne of hassle, and probably extended my lifetime by a few years to boot. You don’t know pain until you’ve experienced web development pain.

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On Starting Again, Earth-Scorching, and Legacy

You’re familiar with the scorched earth concept, right? Wikipedia says it’s a military strategy where a retreating force destroys anything in their path that might be useful to the enemy. It’s this idea that if the enemy captures that territory, it’ll be useless to them. The scorched earth concept is mostly applied to retreating forces since there’s a higher likelihood the enemy will capture that land anyway, but here’s the rub: it can also be used for advancing forces, too.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of starting an entirely new blog in my head over the past week. Not just “Benny Ling’s Bling 2.0”, but something entirely new and fresh.

On the one hand, the idea of starting again is exciting. Leaving all the old stuff behind so there’s no baggage, nothing tying me down or holding me back. Free to explore new horizons, a place to write about stuff I find exciting and things I’m enthusiastic about, and so on.

On the other hand, I’m the kind of person that would feel extremely sentimental about all the old stuff I’m leaving behind. I mean, I get sad throwing away parts of my childhood, even stuff that I have absolutely no rational use for today or in the future, stuff that I haven’t touched for years. There’s quite a number of posts here that are nothing more than short sentences on a particular topic — which is great, sure, but compared to some of my longer pieces?

When I first started this blog I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be a Tumblr-style reblog-fest where I’d repost any old trash from my social network, or whether I wanted it to be only about my writing. At first it was the former, and for a little while, I wrote a few bits here and there about cool things. But somewhere along the way I must have decided that maintaining such a blog was either daunting/exhausting/too-much-work or all of the above, because I soon stopped posting about stuff I had written and simply linked to stuff online that I thought was cool.

And don’t get me wrong, I still think most of that stuff is cool and/or worth your time, it’s just that, well, is my blog the right place for it?1 Do I want that stuff to have the same permanence as the stuff I’m proud of, the stuff that I’ve written personally? Stuff like my gaming reviews, pieces on why iOS is kicking Android’s butt, and putting together home servers.

Which is why I’m drawn back to this idea of starting again, and having a place for just my writing. It’ll mean less updates, even more sporadically than they currently are, but maybe — hopefully — it’ll mean an increase in quality.

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A few blog-related things…

Quick update time: after much gnashing of teeth and fighting with ALL THE STYLESHEETS, I’ve made the theme a little wider which means it now fits images a little less than 720 wide.

The good news is that this theme is nice and responsive, which means it looks different based on how wide your monitor is — go on, resize your browser and try!

The bad news I think I broke YouTube links. I think YouTube videos now look a little different than they did before, but it’s not a huge deal.

Oh, and I also updated the theme, which means that photo and video posts will actually show photo and video content when you’re looking at the RSS feed. Sorry to my RSS subscribers who had to click through every once in a while.

That’s it for now!

This post part of Blogtober 2011, just a little thing of mine where I (attempt to) post something up on my blog every day in October 2011.last week, people. Home stretch!

1000 Posts!

good idea

via Buttersafe – Updated Tuesdays and Thursdays » Archive » Lightning Safety.

Have you ever had an idea that made total, complete sense at the time, but looking back you see that that couldn’t have been further from the truth? Hindsight, after all, is 20/20.

That’s pretty much what the above comic illustrates.

1000 posts, huh? This doesn’t have anything to do with hindsight, apart from the fact that I’ve never regretted a moment of it. Seriously, I’ve had a blast — when this little blog started up at the end of July 2008 with a massively profound video from Steve Jobs, I had no idea what to expect.

Hopefully this blog has been a little slice of the internet as experienced by myself — from the notorious “is awesome!” posts to every post that contained a part that (usually) didn’t have a “Part I”. From all the posts that were posted via email from Posterous (that I’ve now stopped using), to the post that explained why social networking is hugely overrated (oh, wow). Through all the good times, the bad, and all the cute girls inbetween, it’s been awesome.

So, dear reader, it’s late and I have work tomorrow — here’s to the next 1000. Perhaps if I feel like it I’ll post up something a little more meaningful a little later on, but that’s it for now.

Oh, you said you wanted a pic for proof?

Why I dont write more often

Short answer: I’m lazy.

Long answer: I’m laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy.
(Whoa, just noticed that WordPress doesn’t seem to wrap long text?) Lame Zero Punctuation puns not withstanding, it’s not just because I’m lazy, it’s that most of the time, the time spent writing could be doing something equally as rewarding, time-wise.

I just counted up last week’s articles that weren’t automatically generated, (i.e. I had to actually do something to blog them, even if it was just hitting a couple buttons), and I counted eight. Just eight. Not ten, not even nine, but eight. At an average of just over one a day, that’s abysmal (more on this later).

Okay, so that’s maybe not the full truth. Maybe it’s because the content I usually want to write about deserves so much more than the paltry couple paragraphs I can produce in any short amount of time. As you may have seen from the Severus quasi-build log, it’s hard to actually put everything I want down if I just say to myself “yep, gotta get this done within the next hour or so”. Not saying that it can’t be done, but it’s certainly a little harder than it needs to be.

Maybe it’s something to do with my writing style (I can usually just bash out any paragraph without going on too much of a tangent), and maybe some forward planning would do me good, but I’m not sure. To truly cover some of the topics I want and do them the justice they deserve, I’d start to be creating articles as long as Anandtech’s Gargantuan SSD Articles of Death – and you, dear reader, without any knowledge of iPhone app Instapaper or the attention span longer than a minute (I’ve seen the Analytics logs; you can’t fool me!), would utterly hate me for it.

It’s not that theres any huge lack of content, either. I might have told you about this before, but I have a note on an app on my iPhone which I write notes in about good things I might want to blog about – once upon a time I would have told you that I kept it as a secret backup store for my weekly blog postings (back in the day when Freshbytes wasn’t, you know, defunct), but now, it’s merely a place to draw inspiration from, a place to put long-term thoughts that don’t necessarily go in a tweet, status update, or elsewhere. Sometimes I get lonely at night and bring out that list again, but for all other times, it’s just the keyboard and I.

When I talk about eight being a pathetically small number for a blog in a week, think of the times where you’ve visited the site and found all (12?) of the posts on the front-page to be different from the last time you visited. Hopefully this isn’t a huge number, and with any luck, it’ll be zero. While I believe in having awesome new content as often as possible, sometimes there are too many things on these big, bad internets, and some things don’t make the cut. That being said, if I ever put some ridiculous number of things up in a day, I officially allow you to come over to my house and trash my room. Or whatever makes you feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, though: I LOVE writing. I’m no Shakespeare, but there’s something intrinsically satisfying about being able to string together words which convey a simple thought, concept, or rambling. That’s just awesome, and being able to do so in a coherent manner ever more so.

So, dear reader, I apologise for what may as well be the umpteenth time for not writing as often as I’d like, and to those who maintain their own (completely user-created) blogs, I salute you. I know full well that you’re a better blogger than I am.

Update on Windows 7 RTM – Windows 7 Team Blog

We are close, but have not yet signed off on Windows 7. When we RTM you will most certainly hear it here. As we’ve said all along, we will RTM Windows 7 when it’s ready. As previously stated, we expect Windows 7 to RTM in the 2nd half of July.


How do I get a 64-bit copy of Windows 7?

The Upgrade and Full packaged retail product of Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate will come with both 32-bit and 64-bit DVDs. With Windows Vista, the 64-bit version was only available with Windows Vista Ultimate. Due to the incredible adoption of 64-bit today and customer feedback, we decided to change this for Windows 7. Now all copies of Windows 7 in developed markets will ship with both 32-bit and 64-bit DVDs.

via Update on Windows 7 RTM – Windows 7 Team Blog – The Windows Blog.

1. There’s a Windows blog?

2. Good news for those that want a 64-bit version of Windows 7, now you don’t have to buy both copies!