YouTube: The Movie

Written by Verne on January 19th, 2008

So they finally made a movie based on the YouTube phenomenon that triggers the voyeuristic individuals inside most of us that enjoy watching seemingly real and uncut footage of, well, just about anything.

And they called it Cloverfield.

Our move

Written by Verne on January 16th, 2008

BlackBerry 8320I just picked up my new used BlackBerry 8320 Curve yesterday – my first handheld complete with WiFi functionality. Naturally I spent most of the afternoon and evening toying around with it, and in the few hours that I was able to experience the supposed greatness of the mobile browser it occured to me how far behind the mobile surfing experience is from the one we’re used to on a computer.

Granted, the 8320 is not the iPhone (I’m sure there are many of you who will be ready to pounce on that tidbit). But recognize also that the majority of the mobile users are not iPhone users either (not sure how this demographic will change in the next few years though). Plus, while the iPhone’s Safari browser is a few leaps ahead of the rest of the market, it’s still far from delivering a flawless surfing experience.

It’s certainly a give and take situation – web designers need to make their sites more mobile-ready while mobile software developers need to up the firing power behind the mobile browsers. But somebody should be the bigger man, and in my eyes, I think it’s the web designers’ move next.

What happened to the .mobi movement? If web designers start building sites that are more compatible for mobile browsing, the customers and end-users will have more incentive to demand better technology on their handsets. Users don’t buy fancy handsets to see crappy websites.

On a lighter note, my 8320 is probably the one single environment where Windows Live trumps Google. That made me smile… and then cry.

The after shots

Written by Verne on January 10th, 2008

Once upon a time in July, I had the ambitious dream to convert the room that I had lived in for more than 10 years and had never renovated into a legendary home office (yes, legendary). It took a whole 3 months to get off my ass and make my way down to IKEA to pick out some furniture. Then it took another 2 months (that’s 5 months in total now) to actually start the renovation process and build that furniture. See kids, reach for the stars and you’ll eventually get there – half a year later.

But don’t let the sarcasm fool you – I’m stoked. My room is awesome (by my standards). On the legendary scale, we’ve long passed the le, zipped by the gen, and are excitedly partying in the da. Yes, I’m missing a few things still that will thrust my room into ry, thereby completing the legendary home office I had always dreamed of. One step at a time.

Let me give you the tour.

The before-after 360 tour

Italics represents furniture or supplies purchased for the remodelling of the home office

pho_before_closet.jpg

Before, the closet

pho_after_closet.JPG

After, still the closet (L to R):

  • No mirror (but still self-absorbed): the blank space where the old vertical mirror used to be, and where a new mirror will soon be.
  • A reminder of before – discolored closet doors that, when asked about, I say match the off-white of my new drawers. But they don’t.
  • A sideview of my new drawers.

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Before, desk 1

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After, the drawers (L to R):

  • IKEA Malm Chest of 6 drawers ($149)
  • A row of reference books and interesting reads (behind)
  • My 2 greatest achievements framed: Co-op Student of the Year Award and my girlfriend. Haha.
  • Things that make me smell pretty

pho_before_desk2.jpg

Before, desk 2

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After, the bed (L to R):

  • The Blue Wall: smothered in my agency’s brand color, it screams “See, I can be interesting too!”
  • New window blinds (nothing interesting, just the fact that they’re new and match everything else)
  • The new bed that looks surprisingly like my old bed (free!)
  • Bed sheets and cover that no longer match anything in the room.

pho_before_shelf.jpg

Before, the shelf with lots of stuff

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After, the corner with lots of nothing (L to R):

  •  The beautiful marriage of blue and white on my walls that screams “Okay, I get boring from herein.”

pho_before_bed.jpg

Before, the bed

pho_after_desk.JPG

After, the desk (L to R):

  • IKEA Vika Amon Table Top + 4 Vika Curry Legs ($79.99)
  • IKEA Global Work Lamp ($39.54)
  • Sony XD200 Headphones that I bought myself for Christmas
  • New Comstar 500GB hard drive that I will use to back my entire life up into
  • 21.6″ LG LCD, now mounted on a wicked Ergotron Neo-Flex monitor arm ($112.99)
  • IKEA Goliat Drawer Unit (underneath) ($45.19)
  • Mesh Office Chair ($79.07)
  • The new desk that I can actually work and be productive on (priceless)

pho_before_door.jpg

Before, the door

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After, the door (L to R):

  • Bare walls = empty canvas
  • Active hat and jacket roster, including my new too-gangster-for-my-own-good American Eagle Alpine Bomber Jacket (most left)
  • Tuff & Tidy over the door coat hooks ($5.40) means no more jackets slung over the chair (I had a bad habit of doing that before)

Ta-da! As you can see from the before-after 360 tour, the room is actually a lot emptier than it was before. The walls, for one thing, have yet to be touched, but overall everything in the room actually has an active purpose now.

Here’s a closer look at a few cool features I’ve added to my room:

pho_after_desk_corner.JPG

Probably the coolest new addition to my room is the aforementioned Ergotron Neo-Flex monitor arm. Here’s a better look.

pho_after_monarm.JPG

Here’s a better view of it from behind – 5 pivot joints!

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Best of all, here’s the view from my bed that the pivoting action lets me have while I’m kicking back and watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother (a show that shares the same legendary features as my new home office).

pho_after_secretary.JPG

I even splurged to get me my own secretary to answer my phone calls (okay, Manga Spawn is just a cool action figure that needed a home).

The Bill

When I set out on this project, I actually didn’t define a budget. In fact, as I write this out, I’m calculating the sum of my expenses for the very first time. This should be fun.

  • Paint… free (it’s great to have family in the renovation business)
  • New Bed… free (handed down from my brother who used the bed for a mere 4 months during his brief move downtown)
  • IKEA Malm Chest of 6 drawers… $149.00
  • IKEA Vika Amon Table Top + 4 Vika Curry Legs… $79.99
  • IKEA Global Work Lamp… $39.54
  • Ergotron Neo-Flex monitor arm… $112.99
  • IKEA Goliat Drawer Unit… $45.19
  • Mesh Office Chair… $79.07
  • Tuff & Tidy over the door coat hooks… $5.40

Grand total: $511.18

Not too shabby considering no piece of furniture from the old room remains!

To-do’s

  • Shelves! There’s still too many things lingering on my desk (like my action figures) that need to be on a shelf somewhere. The plan is to have a headboard shelf installed above my bed, and two rows of shelves above the desk.
  • Pictures, certificates, and a giant whiteboard: I have a few things that I want to hang and display and there’s a really cool giant whiteboard waiting to be put up.

But one step at a time. It may take me another 5 months to get the above 2 items up, but even then, it’ll be a pretty damn good 5 months!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

How to use WordPress to build a website with user-generated content

Written by Verne on January 7th, 2008

WordPress

User-generated content is not uncommon to websites today and its popularity has grown over the years with the public’s demand to have control and input over what they’re seeing on websites. Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, and countless others will typically offer a form on the front-end of their website for users to submit content for immediate publishing, enhancing user interactivity and overall experience.

For WordPress users, this is usually a problem because the post and page-writing functionalities are hidden away in the back-end admin panel of WordPress. Not only that, but users are required to have a registered account before being able to access these functions. Add on the fact that logging into the admin panel exposes the user to a different interface and visual environment, and you’ve got yourself a bad user experience and little incentive for the user to want to submit content.

So how do you create a site that offers a usable front-end form that will allow users to publish content immediately onto your site while still taking advantage of the powerful publishing engine of WordPress?

This tutorial will break down one way of overcoming this obstacle using cantwaitforchristmas.com to illustrate examples.

Read the rest of this entry >

Resolutions… done and done

Written by Verne on January 7th, 2008

It seems like I’ve been on holiday duty with dinners, socials, gatherings, reunions, get togethers and what not since the very first day the holidays started. And even though holidays are mostly a myth in an entrepreneur’s world, I’ve been so busy with festivities that work has sort of been pushed to the backseat during the last 2 weeks (both a blessing and a nightmare). 

But I’m back and boy am I happy to see 2008. It’s going to be an exciting year, I can feel it. We’re only a week in, but I’m already off to a great start. I’ve fulfilled all my resolutions!

Okay, so I only made one. But that’s because I wanted to be realistic this year. And what is this one special resolution? It’s something that I’ve been putting off for far too long – no, it’s not getting in shape or eating more healthily (though those were strong contenders for resolutions - but again, I wanted to be realistic). Nope, my one and only resolution this year was actually to finally remodel my room into my home office.

I’m psyched to say that I did it! Well, I’m 90% of the way there, but as I sit at my new Ikea desk in my blue and white room that is equally Ikea-branded, I can’t help but feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. There are still a few things lying around but I’ll have pictures up in the next few days. Stay tuned!

For now, I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on what’s coming around the corner:

  • Back to work, back to life, and back to regular blogging!
  • I’m polishing up the last bits of my WP tutorial based on the cantwaitforchristmas.com project, so you should see that post go up tomorrow or Tuesday.
  • As mentioned, the after-shots of my home office will be going up shortly too.
  • This site has been running for just about 6 months now, is it time for a new look? Whether you said yes or no, I’ve got something in the works!
  • A lot of subtle How I Met Your Mother references – I’ve been getting a healthy dose of episodes from all 3 seasons this holiday, and it’s just been the most awesomest experience (thanks John!).

I hope all your 2008′s are off to a great start as well! Looking forward to another great year ahead.