Archive for Life Online

Blogging: Everyone’s doing it

I was listening to the latest Bloggercon (IV)'s podcasts on ZDnet, and they had one called "The emotion (sic) life of bloggers", which featured, among many semi-famous bloggers in the US, Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome fame (who'd led another session called The User Complaint session, which turned out to be another mega-software corp bashing session and didn't make any real sense at all in the end, but that's another story).

And it got me to thinking about why people blog, and why it's just so popular.

Was journal-writing and diary-keeping ever this hot? Is putting your thoughts out there for friends and strangers the reason it's hot? If so, why?

Why do I blog?

Revisiting this topic, it's because I was a journalist, and I'd wanted to write about other things in my life, put stuff out there I otherwise would not have the opportunity to write about, use that creative side of my brain a little. Rant a little. Share info, links, opinions. I started blogs for my girls because I'd wanted them to have something to look back at when they grow up, an accessible, searchable archive of their lives as little babies and kids.

Looking back, blogging rounded out my 'public personality' a little. It used to be that I was this geeky writer who was neither here nor there, writing about games, technology, AND relationships (yea, I'm diverse like that). People, friends and strangers, got to know me as a woman who had relationship problems, who found the love of her life, got married and now living out the rest of her life as a muddled-up mom. It was my way of letting the world know that I existed.

You don't have to climb Mount Everest or swim the English Channel or pose naked for Playboy (well, maybe some still do) to become famous these days. All you need is a computer and a blog account, average writing skills, a nose for what people want to read, and you're in the race to be seen and heard. Even if you're not in it for the money (direct or otherwise) or fame, simply putting your life out there will get you enough attention to make friends out of strangers, and enemies of friends and family members.

After three years of partaking in this pleasure, I've observed three things about blogs and bloggers:

1. If you're just coming into this phenomenon, the best kind of blog to have is an anonymous one. This is odd coming from me because I hate anonymous commenters but I think if you want a blog that gives you the freedom to vent and rant and say what you want without getting fired or get any significant backlash from, you will need to stay anonymous. Assume an alter ego because when you can blog in the knowledge that nobody will ever find out who you really are (with the clever omission of certain personal details and the right software), you will be able to say whatever it is you want to say. The downside is, of course, you can't publicise it as much as you like and as twisted as it may sound, the reason TO blog is that other people, complete strangers, perverts, quite possibly your mom, will read it. Otherwise, you'll keep it offline.

2. There are bloggers and there are writers. That is why journalists and writing in the traditional sense is still necessary. Bloggers like Scoble, I find, are famous not for their ability to write, but for their knowledge of the industry they're in, the status they're in and the resources they have. Bloggers like my friend Karli and so many like her, may not blog about much, but man, can they write the hell out of their otherwise mundane lives. Ordinary people who write extraordinarily about what it is to be human. They may not get a lot of hits and hence, make a lot of money, but if the blogosphere ever wants to be considered seriously for its artistic, emotional and intellectual integrity, it is people like these that will carry the legacy of humanities through to the next generation, not the technology.

3. Podcasting and vlogging are quickly coming into their own as popular platforms to be seen and heard, which sends a very simple message: You don't have to know how to write to blog. You don't have to have a recording contract or movie deal to be a star. And as an audience, we don't have to pay to be entertained anymore (well, except your ISP bill). All you need is the right technology, genuine talent (for stupidity or otherwise), and you're set.

So what happens when most of the world put their lives online, in more ways than one? What happens when you have so many outlets to speak up and be heard? What happens when everyone lives so publicly?

I can hear my father's answer to this question.

"Then noone really is."


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Should I take my kids’ blogs down?

As with many times in the past, this whole Justin Berry business has gotten me a little concerned about placing images of my kids on the Internet.

People have asked me why I don't seem worried about putting my kids out there, where someone could so easily take Rae's pics and use them in lewd ways. What if she's found on some of the secret paedophilic websites out there?

Of course I'm worried. I'm a parent.

But then I got to thinking about the kind of irrational fear one is always in danger of adopting everytime something pops up in the news about sexual predators on the Net or on the streets. Am I to keep my kids under lock and key all the time? There is only so much a parent can do.

I think so far, Lokes and I have done a good job setting our kids' expectations right as far as their privileges are concerned. We don't put a computer in Rae's room. We limit her use of the family PC and the TV to an hour each a day. We watch her like a hawk whenever she's on either. We are registered with the National Alert Registry where we get a monthly report about sex offenders around our home.

After all, it's all about setting the right foundation, right?

Paedophilia is more than just getting hold of pictures of kids. Sure, the thought of someone fornicating to a picture of your ten-year old can make you mad, but at the end of the day, that's all they can do – until they get a chance to interact with him or her.

The one thing to remember is that paedophiles are mostly cowardly monsters. Most require some kind of cooperation from a child to go any further, and I think I can teach Rae and Sky what to do with them, when the time comes.

For now, I am doing everything I can, without giving up their blogs.

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Not mature enough to be anonymous

People will be people.

Give them a way to be nasty without being punished, and you have chaos in your hands.

But I must admit, I'm a little confused at the issue. While I do not like giving everyone equal power to be faceless (some people ARE nastier than others) on the Net, I do think it is necessary for freewill-based interaction to continue. People are nastier, but they can be more honest when they know they won't be found out for their opinions, no matter how ridiculous or unreasonable they might be.

Apparently, honesty isn't exactly the kindest policy.

Of course, opinions aren't the only thing people can give online. Because of this anonymity business, you have more than just nasty people out there plying their trade. Try dangerous. Paedophiles talking to little kids. Scams. How-to instructions for making bombs or poisons. Other 'versions' of the truth.

Fact is, the Internet isn't a safe place. It has never been anyway.

What are we going to do about it?

What CAN we do about it?

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’nuff said and done

Someone asked me if I’d heard of the whole inappropriate European comic and Singaporean phone porn fiasco that people have been blogging about this last couple of weeks, ‘coz if I did, why hadn’t I posted my opinion on the matter.

And I’m not linking those either for the same reason.

I think enough has been said already and those who can’t stop talking or blogging about it are just traffic whoring, right (been waiting all YEAR to use that phrase LOL – c’mon lighten up. You can blog about anything you want!)?

I have other things to worry about, like trying to settle down in my new home, and wondering if my stuff’s okay at sea, and missing my friends and family back home in Malaysia. Minding my business, that is. There’s been enough over-reaction over both issues.

Truth be told, I did DO something about the comic. Just that it wasn’t on this blog. I emailed a certain someone about how I felt he should’ve handled the NST whole matter. He responded in kind. And that was that.

And that’s why my blog will never see the business end of WordPress’ fastest growing list or top blogs ever!


ps. For another perspective on the comic issue, read New Yorker’s The Talk of the Town comment called Images by Jane Kramer.

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Today’s top ten stories


Have to run for a movie later (am going with the preshcool’s mommies for Pink Panther!) so here’s a quick rundown of what I found interesting/fun/hilarious in my inbox today:

1. Maaaaaa-aaaa-aaaarry me!
2. First disposable digital cameras. Now this.
3. History in motion
4. Gladwell you’re here.
5. Disemvowelling
6. Einstein writes
7. Asus notebooks go LV
8. Casual games reviewed
9. Toldja the best stuff is still the real stuff
10. No more piracy? Maybe for a while.

Slater ladies.

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Really Simple ‘Splanation for RSS

Although I’ve been blogging for a couple of years, I’ve just started to use an RSS reader (or aggregator, as it is also called) to get feeds of blogs I like.

I was initially confused as to what an RSS was. Lokes tried explaining it to me but they sounded, in the end, like newsletters. To a geek wannabe like myself, the difference between subscribing to an RSS feed and a daily digest was a little unclear.

Until I started subscribing to my own RSS feed.

The most significant use of RSS, to a casual blogger such as me, is that I don’t have to build a newsletter anymore if I wanted to tell people I’ve updated my blog (provided they’ve got an RSS reader and subscribed to me). I used to have to send my friends and family members an email each time I updated my blog or my daughters’.

These days, some of them subscribe to my feeds. I still need to send that email, but it becomes less and less necessary as time goes by because in that email, I explain to them how to use an RSS reader and subscribe to my blogs and even news feeds of their choice). So as an avid surfer, I now have a more efficient way of reading the sites I like. Before, I only went two posts/pages deep on average on any blog or site, and I never visited more than five places at once. These days, I read almost all of the 59 feeds I am subscribed to, as they are updated.

So the next question would be, where is the RSS activation for one’s blog? As far as I know, for MSN Spaces, WordPress and Blogger, it’s automatic. You just look for a link or button on your blog and that’s the one your readers need to copy the link from and insert it in your RSS reader. Look for it under subtitles at the side panel of your blog:


For MSN Spaces, it’s ridiculously obscure, at the bottom right of your blog, and in the form of a button:


For Blogger blogs, you will need to put a button of your feed, but first need to configure it in at Settings>Site Feed, to look like this:


My daughter Skyler’s blog’s feed URL is then This is what subscribers need to insert in their readers in order to get the feed.

Making the link to your feed visible on your Blogger blog is a little more complicated because you will need to insert the link yourself, through your template’s HTML editor, like this:


Save it and then republish the index, to see the link appear on your blog’s links panel, to make it easier for your less-than-blog-savvy readers to subscribe.


As for as RSS reader, there are plenty around. Some popular web-based ones (which means you go to ONE web page to read ALL the stuff you’ve subscribed to) include Google Reader, Newsgator or Bloglines. New ones like Pluck also are quite robust in their functions. All you have to do is sign up and start adding in the blogs and sites you like (which have RSS feeds) and you’re good to go. Everytime you click on your reader, you’ll get all your subscriptions!

The one I’ve plugged into my Microsoft Outlook (so I can read my emails and feeds in the same place) is Blogger’s (or should I say Google’s) RSS Popper. It’s free and easy to install and looks like this:


And the feeds come into automatically folders in your inbox, looking like this:


For a more detailed, yet not-so-technical explanation of the difference between a blog and an RSS feed, read this.

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More cute stuff from my mailbox

Lokes is making his first business trip in his new job – to Vegas, no less – in two hours. It’s just going to be for one night but I’m gonna miss him. In-laws are here so I won’t be all alone. Can’t imagine when the time comes that he has to travel overseas for his month-long rounds.

Anyway, here’s more stuff that arrived in my RSS reader this morning. Must see!:


– rare images of Disneyland (and other famous theme parks) taken by people back in the day it was still constructing! Isn’t that cool? For some reason, the original blog‘s images are not showing but I do have the one (above) that came in my reader as sent by

– don’t be duped into buying this iPod nano. Can they get more brazen than that?

– the X360 gets yummier.

– oh, my God. Check out the tin-foil hatter’s comments *chuckle*

– a game for the girls. No, really. Blake, what’re you waiting for?

oh wow. How can I not hear of this for four years?! More to the point, where can I get one?

– this isn’t cute; it’s revolutionary. Indeed.

– More power to the non-geek from Google, but alas, overwhelming demand has rendered their invitation premature. Oh well.

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