Are personal blogs dead?

Kozen's RSS Feed Reads
Take a look at my RSS feed reader list on the left. There is a lot of stuff I read on a quite regular basis and for not being bothered to visit all those websites manually, remembering what I last read and then finding new interesting stuff — I have a feed reader. While for professional web sites like news, webshops or developer blogs, RSS / Atom news feeds are inevitable, personal blogs have those too. A couple of years ago most of my friends started blogs and so did I by writing my first article.

High blog death rate

Like many others, from time to time I neglected my blog for a while, pickup up writing again, got lazy again, picked up again and so on. Most of the friends blogs I subscribed to appear to be inactive. The ones in ocher on the left did not get updated for ages which means, their authors don’t write any new articles. I guess that’s life!

To be honest, it take a lot of effort to write a blog and constantly maintain it. For those of us who have it even running on their own servers you got to think about all the technical stuff like software updates and so on. Despite that, the most painful part for everyone writing blog articles is the actual act of sitting down and hammering a couple of lines into the keyboard. It takes a lot of time and creativity to come up with a topic that people might actually read and you are willing to write about. I could write about my sex-life which would probably be interesting to one or two, but I am not quite comfortable doing so — especially as it doesn’t just involve me 🙂 Anyhow, those who keep writing articles on a more or less frequent basis deserve respect.

Writing is relaxing

Knowing how hard it is to do so, for me this is also about focusing one thing and one thing only: this article. During my work week (which is usually Monday to Friday with little patches during the weekend and public holidays) I tracked the amount of tasks I am working on, thinking about and dealing with at the very same moment over time. On average that is currently something between 5 and 7 and I often get distracted by people popping into my office asking questions. Well, on weekends it is a bit more quiet — sometimes too quiet when my better half has to fly Shanghai and interview another Formula 1 driver. But well, that leaves me time to write an article, right? No distractions, me sitting on the terrace (when there is good weather) having a fresh beer or like today an ice tea, and just trying to write some lines that are not totally bonkers.

That being said, I also consider this a learning process. The more you write, the better you become and may be one day I will develop a writing-style that’s actually worth reading. In the meanwhile, please bear with me and provide feedback by leaving a comment.

Advantages of personal blogs

I have seen a big migration from personal blogs to micro-blogs like Twitter or the Facebook Newsfeeed. Indeed, those sites are very convenient and they made our digital life a lot easier. I am using those as well — mainly from my phone because it is quick and easy to share something that’s happening right now with everyone I know and I can even selectively share certain kinds of information with people I think it is relevant to. Still, personal blogs have advantages which I treasure sometimes: (virtually) unlimited size of posts, images, videos to embed, full control on availability like scheduled publishing, full control over the layout and the possibility of monetization. Right, I said it out loud: I make money with my blog – not much, but it pays for the server. I doubt anyone could blame me for that (but feel free to try :)).

Kozen’s blog allows me to write a little longer articles like this one and giving a bit more context to all of this. Like I mentioned before, I won’t give a promise I can’t keep, but I will post my thoughts about whatever I think might be interesting to you. This time we had a rather plain article with lots of text and a question at the end. I reckon most of you skipped the top paragraphs and jumped right down here. You are still welcome to leave your comments, though.

Twitter version of this article: “Are personal blogs dead? I don’t think so, what do you think?” (please RT or @reply)

P.S.: I got distracted while writing this post as well. An Easter Sunday parade was going on somewhere nearby and they performed a part of Schiller / Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Joy” which is my favorite — even though I had to sing that one in school and not even our music teacher could stand listen to those “tunes”.

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Afternoon Dark in Hong Kong

And again I have a short video to share. This time we see Hong Kong on a Sunday afternoon (today April 17th, 2011) at 3:30 p.m. (for my European readers that’s 15:30 ;)).

The past days we probably had the best weather you can imagine. With an average temperature of 22.5˚C (72.5˚F) April is one of the best months of the year (source Climate of Hong Kong – Wikipedia). It was warm, yet not too warm and still felt very comfy. Yesterday, it got a bit more humid and sticky which – like everywhere – was an indication that rain was about come upon us. At the above video you saw how that can look like — compare that to the sunny day a week ago 🙂

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The Hennessey Roof Top Bar in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Two days ago we went to The Hennessey roof top. It has one of the most amazing views of Hong Kong. Everyone who visited us in Hong Kong knows what I am talking about. For those who consider coming to Hong Kong, here a little teaser recorded with my BlackBerry Torch camera. Lighting is far from optimal and somehow the auto-focus was drunk during the second half of the video. Anyway, enjoy:

At the top floor (#31) you get a quite decent Aussie steak house called Wooloomooloo. They operate a bar / outdoor club on the roof which can also be reserved for private parties. Unfortunately, that was the case when we wanted to bring J & Giz over there (afair).

Remember my post about Scaffoldings? I mentioned The Oakhill building in there and just saw when shooting that video; it has been uncovered. So this what the developer was hiding behind the green covers.

P.S.: I think is down — that’s very unfortunate.

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Hong Kong Weather – The Good Days

China Carbon Dioxine emission per million cubic meters from 1980 to 2009.
Hong Kong with its skyscrapers has not the best reputation in the matter of air quality. Many people say that Hong Kong’s air is polluted and one of the worst in the world. Well, according to plain numbers that’s actually true.

Back in 2010 I read a survey by the World Bank which stated that Hong Kong ranks #7 in the world by bad air quality / air pollution. In fact, 9 out of the top 10 and 16 out of the top 20 cities are from China (including Hong Kong). Not surprising, but still terrifying. Fact is, Hong Kong does not have any heavy industry that pollutes the air anymore. In the past 30 years pretty much all manufacturing industries moved across the border to China. While they remain Hong Kong-owned, lower wages and less environmental regulation were the main factors for their relocation.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory (which monitors Hong Kong’s air and publishes the Air Pollution Index for multiple districts on an hourly basis) most air pollution in Hong Kong is caused by normal car traffic. Though, over a decade Hong Kong’s more than 200,000 taxis and several thousand buses are running on liquefied petroleum gas LPG there are still many Porsche, Mercedes and Ferrari cars driving around.

Besides car traffic Hong Kong’s air quality very much depends on the wind. Just across the border in China lies a region inhabiting 42 million people (half the size of Germany; 90% of all mobile phone accessories; most notebooks and yes, your iPhones are built there) which is soon gonna be one city. In an industrial sense, this is the most significant region in Middle Kingdom and one of the most polluted ones — only topped by the main coal mine areas (AFAIR 70% of China’s electricity is generated from coal). So if the wind adversely blows towards Hong Kong, we can have some sort of hazy air which kind of gets stuck in urban areas.

Back to the good days. Today was such a day: warm, but not too warm; no rain, reasonable humidity (right now 75%) and overall pretty cozy. (No, I didn’t invent that word :)) Without our terrace roof (had to be dismantled according to the Hong Kong Buildings Department — for a reason I still don’t understand) I could look up and see the sky: no clouds and lots of sunshine were candy for my eyes. Check it out yourself:

So that’s how a sunny day can look like when you are living at the first floor in downtown surrounded by Hong Kong’s 7,600 high-rises (#1 worldwide, #2 New York counts 5,800). Time to look for a place with a terrace roof, less high-rises next door or located at a higher floor 😎

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Kozen Reloaded

It feels like Koz is back writing some more articles these days. Indeed, I got a little motivation back for doing so. I don’t know why, but it just happened that I felt I had to express myself again.

Let me take a second here and apologize for switching to English rather than my mother tongue German. I believe my non-German speaking audience is growing every day! 🙂 For everyone who still prefers to read my useless 2 cents in German please find a German flag and link below the article title.

To be honest, I am actually extremely busy these days. A lot happened in the three months that passed this year already. I was traveling a lot which is quite unusual for me: New Year’s Eve party in BL City, BlackBerry Developer Conference in Bali, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona incl. one week Spain holiday, one week Koh Samui / Thailand holiday including severe floods – kind of an adventure holiday.

Business wise, I get asked a lot: “How is it going?” Well, I can say that these are currently very exciting days, weeks, months. Being in the mobile application business for more than six years (way before a word like “app” had been invented) has proven to be a slight advantage over our competitors. Of course, we weren’t the first ones and there is new competition popping up every day. Copy cats here — spammers there — serious competitors around the corner — let’s just say it is challenging, yet rewarding. A lot changed, a lot more is about to change, but one thing is still exactly the same it was six years ago: Even after tens of thousands of reviews and comments we received for our products it still feels good when people just love what we do. Despite all the other stuff that comes with it, that’s what it is about for me.

Well, seems the “writing-flash” hit me today. Still, I won’t promise to update kozen’s blog more regularly. The day has just 24 hours polyphasic sleep didn’t work for me so I have to make the best out of the 16 hours I have of each day. A lot more travels, parties, weddings, may be new boating adventures are coming up and I will see what else I can share. Right here, publicly on my server with my very own privacy controls. You won’t get this on Facebook 🙂

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Koh Samui Floods and What Happened After

Deutsche Version: Google Translate

Even Germany’s ARD Tagesschau was reporting about massive floods on Koh Samui เกาะสมุย, Thailand.

It so happened that my family was on holiday right at that time and I was scheduled for flying over there on Wednesday 29th, 2011. From TV news and phone calls with my relatives I learned that the airport was closed due to massive floods. The airport is owned and operated by Bangkok Airways which I booked a plane ticket with as well. That airline is actually quite alright, once their planes have taken off. Their off-plane customer support / service is just horrible. Concerned as I was, I tried to contact them on all of the four phone numbers on the HK airport. Nobody picked up. So I called their representation at the Bangkok airport. Nobody picked up. Then I called the headquarter in Bangkok. Again, nobody picked up. I just wanted to know whether my plane actually leaves or not. So I went to the airport and luckily I took off about 1.5 hours delayed.

When I arrived in Bangkok, I noticed that there are not many people at the airport. Yeah well, didn’t expect that, but in fact, there was nobody there except us 20 from Hong Kong (the Airbus A319 was quite empty). So the first person at the airport I told that I want to go to “Bo Phut” beach and I want a Meter-Taxi and don’t wanna pay more than 200 Baht บาท (€4,64) laughed at me and said: “No taxi! Water to here! No taxi!” (pointing at her waist) “Can give you big van for 500 Baht!” Yeah, right! (I thought and said and walked away) Then I got to the next counter for taxis. Again, no real meter taxis there and what do I here? Same same, but different: “No taxi! Water to here! No taxi!” (pointing at her waist) “Can give you big van for 600 Baht!” Wow! 100 Baht more, that one must be good. After 15 minutes of negotiating, trying not to get wet because it was still pouring cats, dogs and little elephants; I agreed.

There was only one driver crazy enough to drive me over to that “Bo Phut” beach and one of the shallower parts looked like this:

He switched off the fan and A/C to make sure no splashed water gets sucked into the car. Yet, it was a funny ride. He was joking sort of: “You know, every year we have Songkran – water festival – can have lots of fun now!” At least they didn’t loose their sense of humor in the land of smiles. Apparently, it was the day after the worst day of floods and news all over the world showed massive land slides, military personnel evacuating citizens and tourists with dinghies. Well, not at our place. We couldn’t get out much the first two days I was there, but despite that there was no problem at all. And later on I even had a bird sitting right next to me, waking me up while I was roasting in the sun.

P.S.: I turned out quite pink, not nice roasty brown.

If you want to travel to Koh Samui you may check out the Koh Samui Travel Offers at Agoda.

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