Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Looking for a New Blogging Solution

[Before reading, I warn you that this post is technical in nature. This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t tech-savvy, you shouldn’t read this. You may learn something from it. However, if you are tech-savvy, you may be able to help me, and thank you in advance for that.]

For those who don’t know, the software I’m currently using to run my blog is Blogger. In particular, I’m using its SFTP publishing feature, meaning that Blogger actually stores the content of my blog in their database, and whenever my blog is updated, Blogger will identify the affected pages, re-render them, and post them to the server that actually serves the pages, i.e. my blog server. This works well enough for me.

However, this won’t work in about a couple of months, as Google, the owner of Blogger, decides to stop supporting SFTP publishing. It’s clear that my blog is affected. They favoured their custom domain solution. I had tried it before they announced they would scrap SFTP publishing, but I immediately switched back to SFTP publishing. I’ll tell you why it didn’t work for me, and why it won’t work for me if their custom domain solution will still be like what they describe.

The main appealing advantage of custom domain publishing is that there is less network traffic (and hence faster publishing). All in all, I like all the advantages of custom domain publishing. However, they come with trade-offs. Firstly, the NavBar. I’m not totally against it, but how it is at the moment just doesn’t meet my requirement. The “Next Blog” link is a distraction. What is the content of the next blog? Is it something you will like? Is it something you won’t like? I’m sorry, but not all surprises are pleasant. Also, I don’t like the search functionality. I want the search results to appear like, e.g. Google search results or Yahoo! search results. It would also be better if the NavBar position can be customised. I’m aware that the NavBar can be hidden altogether, but what is the point of loading it the first time then? It’s an extra cost for the users.

Now, what kind of blogging solution am I after? In short, something that works like Blogger SFTP publishing. In details, keep on reading.

What I need: Here are what I can think on top of my head at the moment. This list may grow:

  1. Free: Sorry, not being an annoying cheapskate here, but I have paid for a hosting service, and it can be used for blogging already.
  2. Customisable template: Down to the HTML+CSS level. I want the level of flexibility offered by Blogger SFTP publishing. (That means, free WordPress.com is a no go.)
  3. Static HTML page rendering: Yup. Efficiency. I want to minimise the use of database processing.
  4. Keep the current post permalinks. Obviously. What I’m willing to break: individual comment permalinks.
  5. Manual HTML input. I just need it to make sure my post markup is (mostly) clean.
  6. Web-based user interface. Sure, I can ssh, but it’s not something I want to do every time, and it’s not available in some places.
  7. Secure data transmission. Clearly.

What I avoid: Please, no flame wars on any of these items. This list may also grow:

  1. MySQL. I had an awful experience with it. To be fair, it only happened once, but it hit me so badly. Honestly, I still use MySQL to power my family blog, but I would like something better. This blog is currently hosted on Dreamhost. It only runs MySQL. I have voted to have them run PostgreSQL, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m happy with flat files, as long as static HTML page rendering is supported.
  2. XHTML: It’s OK if the provided templates are all XHTML, as long as I am not forced to use XHTML.

Do you have a solution, either full or partial, to my problem? Please help.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Help Haiti by Buying Music

I’m sure you have heard about the earthquake in Haiti. Here is one way you can help.

Starting from today, 25 January 2010, for 2 weeks, for every CD or full-album download purchase via CD Baby, 1 US dollar goes to Haiti relief funding. If you buy more than one copy of my CD, you will get a discount, but the $1 won’t be discounted, e.g. if you buy three copies, $3 will go to the Haiti relief funding. You can use the following link to go straight to the CD Baby website.

ade ishs: Visions

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Join My Contest and Win a Prize

I will organise a contest soon. The prize will be a special copy of my next album. By special, I mean, it will be signed by myself. To be eligible for the contest, during the full period of the contest, you must either (at least one is enough):

In case of a tie, the amount of support your demonstrate to me will become a deciding factor. For example, if A and B obtain the same score, A subscribes to my mailing list and supports me on Facebook, whereas B only follows me on Twitter, I’d rather give the prize to A.

Now, what will the actual contest be? Stay tuned, as I will announce it in a couple of weeks.
[EDIT 9 Feb 2010: overstruck]

See the contest description. [EDIT 9 Feb 2010: added]

The prize and eligibility criteria are subject to change.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Beautiful Mistakes

These days, my eldest boy is learning a Latin alphabet, A to Z (just in case you’re wondering why I didn’t say “the Latin alphabet,” there are multiple Latin alphabets. Go figure). Almost always, he can’t (or I guess he never tries to) hide his excitement when he spells out “Aeee, Beee, Ceee, ….” Sometimes he points to a letter and spells it incorrectly, like pointing to “U” and saying “Veee.” But he is quick to correct himself.

Alphabet; Photo by teresiaI looked back to the times when I started learning music by playing the pianica that I believed was bought somewhere in Saudi Arabia. It was exciting, and later I got excited playing electronic organs, and got excited again when my aunty taught me to play notes on my grampa’s piano.

Fast forwarding, my parents got me a beautiful (in both look and sound) upright Yamaha piano and I started taking piano lessons. The first few lessons were fine. I learned about basic fingering, the pedal, and the basic necessary things. But after a while, things became very different. Suddenly I hated playing the piano. I hated everything by Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and all those geniuses. They were too hard to play. I got about 9 out of 10 notes wrong when I was lucky. I made so many mistakes. I couldn’t enjoy playing the piano anymore.

Somehow, I hung in there. For years. Years! I don’t remember whether it was because my parents pushed me or I was too chicken to tell them “I quit.” And suddenly, I loved playing the piano again. And I could play hours non-stop. I don’t know if that was caused by puberty hormones or anything else, but what mattered was that I loved playing it again. And I started composing songs independently.

As all music players do, I made mistakes, and I still do. Up to now. Also for the skill that my son is now trying to acquire, I still make reading mistakes even though I have known A to Z since …, um, … I can’t even remember since when! And lots of people still make the same kind of mistakes.

One night, I had met this guy called Sulaiman Duffond. Out of nowhere, he just had knocked at my door and asked for my parents’ permission to play our piano, and also asked me to play some of my songs. He had come some other days again, and he had invited me to perform at his community centre on a certain date. I came at the time he mentioned, and I did perform. He noticed that I made small mistakes, but he noticed something that even I didn’t notice: I reacted to them smoothly so that the mistakes that didn’t sound like mistakes. Oh my, I had never really been aware of that!

I remember this up to this day, and I always try to have this awareness. I’ve made some mistakes in Visions that got left unedited. This time, I mean mistakes as sound that I hadn’t listened ahead. But because I felt they weren’t terribly annoying, I felt OK leaving them recorded. (Actually, during the recording session, there were a total of 12 songs recorded, but they had somewhat annoying mistakes, and hence didn’t deserve a place in the album.)

So, let us not be afraid of making mistakes. What’s important is recovering from them, possibly turning our performance even better than what we have planned!

[Photo by teresia]

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Plans for 2010

With all due respect, I don’t believe in new year’s resolution(s). By that, I mean, I don’t put a new year as a special time to resolutions. If I think of improving a certain aspect of myself in February, it’s a long wait for the upcoming January, isn’t it?

Anyway, that’s not the topic of this post. I’m now talking about my plans for 2010.

Imprimis, March—April, performances in Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve been in contact with fellow Gadsby members, and it looks like a plan that I’ll take my post as a keyboardist again with Gadsby. If you’ll be in Jakarta during that period, come to my gigs! Details will come later.

Number two, at indefinite date, new album! It’ll be likely another solo piano album. Perhaps, middle 2010 or end of this year.

Third, closer to the album release, update my website (including this blog) graphical design.

Last but not least, prepare materials for a future album featuring electronic sounds. This is still far away, and very unlikely to be released this year, as I haven’t got enough materials yet. But the idea is there already.

Please pray that everything goes well, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my music.

Oh, and if you have suggestions, I’m welcome. Thanks.