Tag: site news


Nov 2004

To my commenters

First and foremeost, I’d like to say thank you. This blog receives a ridiculous amount of comments, and I enjoy reading them (for the most part). I especially like the comments that really contribute something (often on-topic, even!). Gin, Jing, wulong, JFS, Chris, Prince Roy, Brendan, ÍÐµÄ — you guys are especially good at that, time and again, and I do appreciate it.

Second, I’d like to say I’m sorry. I have been lax in my efforts to create an atmosphere that encourages the kind of comments I want to see and I want to share on my website. I’m going to start being more active in eliminating the trolling.

I’m all for freedom of speech, but I’ve got to draw a line somewhere. I am not trying to single out any one person here; I think the unwarranted negativity comes from multiple sources. But I want to improve the overall quality of my weblog, and the comments are a part of it. I also think there are some commenters out there that might have something worth saying but are afraid to venture into the “fray.” Differing opinions or corrections are always welcome, but my comments shouldn’t be a “fray!”

What has really spurred me to action on this was when I thought about how seldom my own family comments nowadays. And I understand why they don’t. That is not OK.

So that’s it. Civil comments. Starting now.


Oct 2004

Bandwidth Exceeded

If you visited my blog yesterday you might have seen a “Bandwidth Exceeded” error. It wasn’t for a reason as glorious as a good mention on Metafilter or anything like that. It was partly due to my own stupidity, and partly due to our good friend Google.

A while back I made a Chinese fonts page, and I put some online for download. Seemed simple enough, and I sort of forgot about it for a while. In the meantime, Sinosplice was quietly climbing Google’s rankings for chinese fonts. It now occupies the #9 position for that search, so it’s on the first page of the search results.

Thus the fonts, many upwards of 5 MB in size, were getting downloaded left and right by anyone who searched for chinese fonts on Google. I caught onto what was happening earlier in the month when I started monitoring my bandwidth after making the Yueliang Daibiao Wo de Xin page. I took the fonts offline, but the “damage” was done and I finally went over yesterday.

But enough of that boring stuff.

In other site news I redesigned my Chinese blog so that it’s no longer a clone of this one, and I think it looks pretty cool (and better in Firefox than in IE). Those who want to see my handwriting in Chinese can finally see it (hit refresh to see more). Note, though, that what you see there is my normal Chinese handwriting (on a Wacom tablet), not my attempt at being artsy or beautiful or anything — I certainly can’t afford such vanity in my Chinese studies!


Oct 2004

The Moon Represents My Heart

The moon represents my heart. I wince when I type out this sentence. It’s terribly awkward English, but I really don’t know how else to translate it. I’m no accomplished translator or anything, but I’ve given this quite a bit of thought and come up with nothing better.

月亮代表我的心 (“The Moon Represents My Heart”) is an extremely famous song in China. Most foreigners here know it, and every Chinese person seems to know it. It’s a pretty simple song, but I just can’t seem to translate that line. I’m of the opinion that pretty much anything has a good translation if the translator is clever enough. I’m ready for someone cleverer than I to show me the way.

Even if I can’t translate its title well, after four years of living in China I’ve developed something of an affection for the song. I think it’s sort of a mandatory study for anyone living in this culture.

I feel a bit silly about it, but after searching a bit for a good translation of the song and downloading different versions of it via Baidu’s MP3 search, I thought I might as well put this stuff online for other people to benefit from as well. I even made it kinda pretty, I think.

Check it: Sinosplice’s 月亮代表我的心 page. (Get the MP3s now if you want them — if they drive my bandwidth up much I’ll have to take them down.)


Sep 2004

Finally back up

Sinosplice is finally on its new server. I never intended to take such a long break from blogging, but I needed outside help to do the transfer, and that involved quite a delay. In the meantime I didn’t want to blog because anything I wrote about my blog would just be more whining. I’ll spare you those “fascinating details.” Suffice it to say that there were way more obstacles than I anticipated, and I actually switched to two different hosts in the past two weeks. But all that’s behind me now. (How’s the speed where you are?)

I no longer have cause to whine, and I have a lot to write about. Expect frequent updates in the days to come.

For now let me just give a big thank you to Wilson, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to make the hosting switch.


Aug 2004

A Victim Again

I could swear this website is being dogged by a curse. I change hosts, but it finds me again. This is the third time.

Some time during the week I was in Hubei it began. At the time I thought it was just a Hubei thing, but I was wrong. Within China, it is now very dificult to access Sinosplice. The blog will usually load, but very slowly and sometimes incompletely. Getting into my webmail is difficult. If I can get in at all, I can expect to wait 1-2 minutes for an e-mail to open. Fortunately, POP access still works, although it’s way slower and much less reliable than it used to be. Movable Type is also being very difficult. I’m hoping to get this post online in this precious moment of connectivity. What’s most maddening, probably, is that MT Blacklist won’t work anymore. When I click on “DeSpam” the browser starts loading and never finishes. My comments are getting clogged with spam, and I’m powerless to stop it.

I’m not sure what to do. Changing hosts again isn’t really an option this time; there’s now no refund for unused service. Should I pay for a good proxy? I hate to have to do that, and I really want my site accessible in China.

Man, this is driving me crazy. I hate being a censorship casualty. Again. And again.

I’d appreciate any suggestions regarding hosting, MT, MT Blacklist, or reliable proxies. You should probably e-mail me. I’ll probably get it.

Also, I’d appreciate it if people in China could tell me if they’ve been having trouble accessing my site (along with their location).

I’m hanging in here.


Jul 2004

Network Update

There have been a lot of changes recently in the Sinosplice Network.

You might have noticed that long-time member Derrick of Derrick in Dalian, AKA The Chinese Bazaar is no longer in the network. Well, it’s for a happy reason. Derrick decided that he was ready for his own domain and his own hosting, to move onto bigger things. I, for one, am happy that he’s come so far. I think his site’s recent redesign at the new location, Maskofchina.com, is a nice improvement. Check it out.

The other two to depart are Andrea of T-salon and Wayne of A Better Tomorrow. It was a hard decision to come to, but I basically decided that it was too risky to host blogs that touch on sensitive political issues. I just moved onto a new host that I really like, and while I feel pretty certain that my last host’s slowdown was not at all related to internet censorship, I just want to do what I can to steer clear of that potential hazard altogether. I have plans for my site that require it to be accessible in China, and I have no desire myself to write about those issues online.

Fortunately both of them were cool and understanding about relocating. I was able to find Andrea a supportive host through Adopt a Blog*. You can access her new location at T-salon.net.

Wayne opted to move onto some of Brendan‘s space. (Unfortunately, since Brendan is using the same hosting as I was before my recent switch, that means Wayne’s site may now be difficult to access from mainland China, as mine was for a while and Brendan’s is now.) You can access A Better Tomorrow at its new location via ABTom.net.

The newest member is Australian Matt of Chabuduo. I’m glad to have him aboard. He’s actually learning to use Blogger now, instead of doing straight HTML editing. Pay the new Chabuduo a visit (but you may want to give him a little more time to get settled).

So those are the changes. Update your bookmarks.

*Adopt a Blog is not dead, but it did run into some unforeseen technical difficulties involving PHP mirroring for Typepad sites. It’s still a viable solution to blocked bloggers running on platforms like Blogger, but the “adoptees” were outnumbered by the volunteer hosts by about 20 to 1. Basically, not enough people came forward to be adopted! Solutions?


Jun 2004

New Host

Sinosplice is now on a new server. I took long-time commenter Pketh‘s suggestion and went with Surpass Hosting. Thanks Pketh, their hosting package is really incredible. I hope the speed will be comparable to my last host’s, but even if it’s a little slower, I’m still getting way more space and other features for less money.

It seems like the DNS entries have just about finished switching over, but I think my e-mails are being delayed. If you e-mailed me in the past 48 hours and I haven’t responded, you might want to wait another 24 hours and resend it. I’ll try to get all that straightened out ASAP.

Due to the way DNS entries propagate, yesterday I could view my site on the new server all day at work, but when I got home I was still viewing it on the old server! I knew because of the comments. The good part about that is that I was able to easily save the new comments for my last entry that were posted in the DNS switchover period. I’ll put them back up when I get home.

A big thanks also to Wilson for doing the actual data transfer for me from San Francisco. I couldn’t do it myself because my FTP connection with Webmasters was completely unusable.

So here’s hoping that everything returns to smooth normality soon…


Jun 2004

Sinosplice is in Trouble

Readers in China may have noticed that recently Sinosplice has suffered a major slowdown. The phenomenon is not limited only to this site, however; other friends in China have supported my observation that there seems to be an overall slowdown in traffic from international sites. Unipeak, a free proxy service that has recently become popular, has been shut down shortly after adding a Chinese version (which was stupid).

The problem is that Sinosplice has gotten so bad for me that server requests frequently time out. Using webmail and the hosting service’s control panel has become frustrating. My FTP connection is now so tenuous as to be rendered useless.

My hosting service, Webmasters, has been a pretty great host (especially when compared with iPowerWeb, “host of the damned”), but there’s nothing they can do about a problem that only exists on the China side. Dammit.

So my options are: (1) wait it out, and do very little with my site in the meantime, or (2) find a new host. I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new host, but I certainly have no reason to believe that Webmasters’ servers are going to get any faster in China. Also, probably now more than ever before, I have lots of cool (non-blog) features that I want to implement, which makes the timing particularly maddening. So I’m looking into option #2. This option is actually feasible because Webmasters will refund any unused portion of the year’s payment. Sweet.

Dreamhost, a host I discovered through the truly awesome, musically ingenious Songs to Wear Pants To (go there now!), has a really good package. I have yet to determine how good the speed in China is.

So I think Sinosplice has some rough waters ahead, and possibly even more downtime. Any hosting recommendations or other solutions are greatly appreciated.


May 2004

Alcohol Vocab

I want to add more Chinese study material to Sinosplice, and the latest is a vocabulary list. Of Western alcohol. You won’t find any form of baijiu on the list, but if you ever wanted to know how to say “Guinness” or “Jim Beam” or “Sex on the Beach” in Chinese, this is for you.

It’s noteworthy that many of these names do not have a standard name (especially mixed drinks), so many variations are possible, but the names in my list have all been verified through online sources and/or in actual Chinese bars.

Some of the ones I find interesting:

  1. Sex on the Beach. The literal Chinese is “sexy beach.” I guess a faithful translation would be too racy for printing on a menu in a Chinese bar?
  2. Absolut. In Chinese, it’s just “Swedish vodka.” Boooooring. The name in English is kinda cool.
  3. Cocktail. It’s literally “chicken tail alcohol.” Of all words to translate absolutely literally (which the Chinese don’t really do so often), why this one??
  4. Draught beer. It seems that in the south it’s more often called sheng pi (生啤), whereas the north prefers to call it zha pi (扎啤). Sheng pi means “raw beer.” (It also happens to be exactly the same thing the Japanese call it: 生ビール.) I really like that. “I’ll have a beer. Make it RAW.” Badass.
  5. Smirnoff. In Chinese it means “imperial crown.” Since the Chinese name sounds nothing like the actual name, I’m guessing that’s a translation of the Russian. Cool. Learning Russian through Chinese through booze. How scholarly. [Update: That guess was wrong. See comment #14.]

Sinosplice vocabulary: Alcohol

Special thanks to Brad F and Brendan, who helped me a bit with my research.


May 2004

Derisive Dashan, RIP

Did you ever take a look at my Derisive Dashan? Mainly because Dashan’s image is squeaky clean and all-around nice, it’s funny to see him get “belligerent” in Chinese on the page.

Well, I just got an e-mail from Dashan. I never intended for Dashan to see the page (or my blog entry about him, which isn’t completely complimentary). I didn’t realize, though, that because of Derisive Dashan Sinosplice had taken over the #2 spot in the Google search for “dashan,” second only to Dashan’s official site.

Anyway, apparently Dashan has been aware of the page for some time. He presented his case, asking if I could take it down now. I’m a reasonable man, and deep down I know that Dashan really is a good guy. It’s not his fault that Chinese people are always comparing other foreigners to him. So I took it down.

I guess it wasn’t really a good idea to publicly target a specific person for ridicule. I’m not normally the type of person to do that, but Dashan definitely feels more like an institution than a person. Until he sent me an e-mail.

Sorry about that, big guy.


May 2004

Sitemeter, Hair

Is it my imagination, or is Sitemeter now blocked in China? That is just downright annoying. If it is now permanently blocked, I need to get it off all my templates, because it’s slowing my page load way down.

In other news, I recently shaved my head again (I do that from time to time) and I’m growing my beard again. So I look something like a convict. I look a lot like I do in this picture from a few years back. I’m too lazy to take a new one.

Brad, Carl, Jamie, and I recently made a trip to the barber shop supply section of town. Apparently that’s the only place to get clippers for shaving one’s head. We also picked up some of that temporary spray-on hair dye. I tried white hair out Thursday. I’m really not sure how the so-called “temporary hair dye” differed from spray paint. It had the little marble in it and everything. That’s what we get for 8rmb ($1) a can.

So I had a spray-painted head for most of Thursday. My hair was stiff like a wire brush. Brad tried it out too, but then aborted because his hair is too short and he realized he was just spray painting his head. As far as I know, Carl and Jamie completely wussed out. They skipped town rather than following through on their promise to be badass crusty spray-painted hair brothers on Friday.

From the Sitemeter site:

SM5 Server Status

Friday, May 7th

Dear Valued Customer:

Today the hard drive of the SM5 Site Meter server, where your account
is located, failed. When we attempted to restart the server, the hard
drive in it would not boot.

We have setup a new server and are currently working to recover the
files from the old server and will have it back up as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience during this process.

We appreciate your business.

Well, crap. I guess that explains it, though. (I should really stop being so quick to suspect a blocking every time a site goes down temporarily…)


May 2004

Archives at Last!

I installed Movable Type way back in November, 2003, but it wasn’t until this week that I finally got my archives all in order. Let me tell you, it’s a nightmare to take 200+ old posts that had been formatted for Blogger, reformat them individually (MT can only do so much when it imports them), and assign categories to each. I even fixed my old internal links so that they point to the correct new MT entry instead of the old Blogger entry. Ugh. But it’s all done, will never need to be done again, and I really like the results.

Please check out the newly revamped Sinosplice Archives. They’re very browsable now. In reorganizing them I spent a lot of time reading old entries, and I was surprised at how many good ones I wrote back in the day. If you’re a relatively new reader and like what you see here, take a look.

Many thanks to John B of zerodispance for the MT tag free handout. I really like the way he set up his archives, and it saved me a lot of trouble because I didn’t have to figure everything out on my own.


Apr 2004

Back Online

Sinosplice was down for about 3 days, but it’s all been sorted out. I had renewed for another year with my host (Webmasters.com), but what I didn’t know was that after the first year, the domain name registration is not included. So my domain name registration had expired and had to be renewed. That’s done now.

A big thanks to my dad, for taking care of all that. More news soon.


Apr 2004

Jobs in Shanghai

My company is looking to hire a few people for part-time or short-term work, and it has enlisted my aid. I decided to add a new section to my site:

Sinosplice Jobs

If you’re looking for work or for teachers, please take a look. Feel free to link away.


Mar 2004

Shanghainese: a Flash soundboard

Not long ago, when trying out some soundboards (normally used for prank calls), an idea came to me. Why not make a soundboard for an educational purpose? OK, so it’s not nearly as funny, but the idea had potential. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

A few weeks ago I made a whole bunch of sound recordings. Then I learned the basics of Cool Edit Pro and edited the crap out of them. In the two weeks to follow I struggled through the process of teaching myself the Flash MX necessary to do what I wanted to do. Timelines, scenes, keyframes, buttons, mask layers, preloaders, ActionScript… I eventually got through it all. To make this “soundboard.”

What this Flash soundboard does is provide audio samplings of a collection of basic Chinese words/phrases in pairs: one in Mandarin (普通话), and one in Shanghainese (上海话). It’s really very simple. Place your cursor over the sentence you want to hear and click. You can even switch between pinyin and Chinese characters, and view my notes on the soundboard.

I expect there to be a few issues with the soundboard, particularly with the Chinese character representations of Shanghainese. The problem is that there’s no real standard, and even native Shanghai speakers do not necessarily know the original (often archaic) characters which correspond to the words they speak (if they even exist). I haven’t gotten around to picking up a better book on Shanghainese, and the stupid bookstore I need to get to closes at 6pm on weekdays.

In essence, it’s a very scholarly notion reduced to a hobby side project in soundboard form. So if you’ve got the Chinese background, just enjoy it. Even if you don’t understand Chinese, you may still enjoy hearing the difference between Mandarin and Shanghainese.

Crank up the volume.

Check out the Shanghainese soundboard.


Nov 2003

Movable Type

This past weekend I finally made the switch over to Movable Type. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, influenced by John B, Russell, Andrea, Brendan, and Adam. I recognized the superior blogging technology and wanted to use it, but I was just lazy.

I didn’t completely relinquish my lazy ways, though. The switchover is not yet total. Although the installation was utterly painless, I haven’t done the archive pages and some other fine tuning. There’s no good way to import the Haloscan comments. (This one looks good, but apparently the plugin is not online!) There are lots of little problems.

Why does my <p> text formatting go awry any time I post a picture, use a blockquote, or use a list? (It’s especially obvious on my Chinese blog; I’ve made some cosmetic alterations on this one.)

Why doesn’t the Textile plugin work even though I followed the installation instructions exactly?

OK, sorry this post is incredibly boring. Everything should be squared away soon. In the meantime, the old Blogger archives are still there.


Nov 2003

New China Blog List

China Blog List

New CBL logo

It’s something I’ve been meaning to implement for many months, and now it’s finally almost complete. The problem was obvious: as the number of China blogs increased dramatically over the past year, the China Blog List was getting way too long, and there was no order to it other than a loose geographical grouping. My solution: make the list sortable by several fields. I tried to accomplish that on my own with my extremely limited programming skills, but failed. One of the new teachers here, also named John, was willing to do the PHP coding for me, though, so it’s finally done! I didn’t even have to pay him, but I will say that there was an exchange of delicious cheese flown in from Paris.

The new list has a slightly different look, a new URL (http://www.sinosplice.com/cbl/), and a new logo. Anyone who has studied Chinese characters for any length of time should recognize the special arrangement of the “CBL” for “China Blog List” that I came up with. Furthermore, the list is sortable by Name and by Location. Double clicking the filter reverses direction of the listing. It can also be filtered by region. John did an awesome job.

It’s actually still undergoing some fine-tuning. The Chatboard has been removed because it was making the page load really slowly. Instead, there will be a form to submit new blogs. Adding new blogs has been greatly simplified for me, so the new ones will be added much more quickly from now on.

Anyway, the new China Blog List is online. The old one will stay up a little while longer, as the new one is still being worked on, but soon the new one will be complete and the old URL will simply redirect to the new version. The old list will no longer be updated. There are already new additions and corrections on the new list. Happy surfing.


Oct 2003

Dumb Pronunciation

That pronunciation guide I made turned out to be a big pain for me. It has gone through multiple revisions, but I think it’s pretty done now. The latest revisions included adding “pinyin clarifiers” in red which may very well only make it all more confusing. Oh well. I also changed the tone of my “condemnation” of pinyin to satisfy the pinyin fanatics out there who can’t bear to see the word “inconsistent” associated with pinyin (OK, that’s a joke — calm down).

I hope it’s more accurate, more balanced now. The “Background” section was never even supposed to be the important part, so those of you who haven’t done so already long ago can forget about it now. The people who were paying the most attention to it probably don’t need it anyway. The following is an e-mail I got from a learner who found my pages via Google.

> John,

> I have recently begun learning Mandarin. I knew there was a difference in pronunciation between j & zh, x & sh, q & ch, but I was very frustrated in my attempts to find a clear explanation of the difference. You’re website is like cool water in a desert! Marvelous!

> Thank you very much for putting so much effort into setting the record straight! Now, at last, I can get my pronunciation close enough that my tutor can help me fine tune it.

> Great job John! God bless you!

> Charles

That’s exactly what I made the pronunciation pages for. They’re working. I am content. Thank you everyone. I exit now to sleep, and to later arise and report another day on my Chinese studies which have been consuming so much of my time of late…


Sep 2003

Chinese Pronunciation

I noticed recently that there’s a lot of bad information out there on the web about the pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese. So I created this new section on Sinosplice to address the issue. It’s quite long, and I think it’s quite thorough and accurate. This is for the people that are having trouble mastering the harder consonant sounds of Mandarin like q, x, and j.

Please let me know what you think or if you find it helpful.


Aug 2003

Looking for what?

I think it’s high time I did the “weird search terms people entered to stumble upon my site.” I’ve never done it before. Now that I’m hosting a bunch of other blogs as well, it’s hard to say who exactly is responsible for these. What’s more, putting these terms in Google frequently does not get a Sinosplice result, so I’m not sure what search engines these weirdos are using. Without further ado, some of the results:

> bleached hair pics (26)
With is one that I actually understand. I do have a pic of this. What’s surprising is that it got me 26 hits!

> shu qi nude (12)
Ah yes, that was a good post. Adolescent boys everywhere (well, maybe 12 of them, anyway) are thanking me for that link, I bet.

> �߿� entrance exam (10)
This is because of Prince Roy. I think it’s kind of odd, though, that so many people seem to be looking for information in English but can nevertheless enter gao kao (the name of the Chinese college entrance exam) in Chinese.

> dalian girls (10)
Undoubtedly Derrick‘s doing. That guy wouldn’t shut up about the dazzling beauty of Dalian girls the whole month he was here. It was jealousy of Hangzhou and Shanghai’s abundance, no doubt.

> depressing monologues (3)
Hehe… ssshhhh! Don’t tell Hank!

> how can i improve my students spoken english (2)
Well, that one was because of me. I don’t think many people are reading it, but if you’re a brand new teacher in China (or anywhere in Asia, really), you might find my guide useful.

> underaged girl gets covered in cum (2), older men with big dicks (1)
OK, these I really cannot explain. I thought maybe someone in the network was writing about something I didn’t know about, but I did a search in Google, and Sinosplice was not among the pages and pages of other wholesome family entertainment that turned up. Weird. You can’t find mention of this stuff on Sinosplice! Well, er… until now, that is….

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