Wondering, wandering, and making sense of the world.


Archive for May, 2014

The frailty of cloud services


Did you know Xanga is gone?

Did you even know what Xanga was?

To be fair, Xanga is not officially dead. The once flourishing blog platform has been rebirthed as Xanga 2.0 which actually is a rebadged open-source WordPress platform. All the features that made Xanga, Xanga, is no longer there. Gone are the eProps, the Pulses, the circles, not that anyone really cared.

Xanga was one of the original blog platforms, before Blogger, Blogspot, Tumblr, WordPress, Typepad. I joined Xanga in the summer of 2004, right after I graduated from college to chronicle my two month Eastern European journey and as a way to keep in touch with my friends from college. At one point I had close to thirty friends actively blogging on Xanga and commenting on each other’s posts. Last I checked, none of them were blogging on Xanga and only one kept up with blogging on a different platform.

I myself left Xanga in 2009 when I moved to Paris and spent an afternoon updating my online life (new hosting service for my website with a new WordPress installation). Without my friends on Xanga and a glut of confusing features that I didn’t need, it made less sense to remain on Xanga.

I didn’t delete my Xanga profile but instead just stopped updating it. Couple months ago, I noticed that I could no longer access my Xanga site and realized what happened to the service. When the founder came to the conclusion that Xanga was no longer working as a business, he decided to shutdown the service unless he could crowd raise $60k to keep the service alive. I didn’t realize this was happening, but luckily enough money was raised so that generic Xanga 2.0 could come into existence.

This was particularly a lifesaver because without it, I may have lost five years worth of posts (445 to be specific) into the vacuum of the cloud. Now all Xanga 1.0 (for a lack of better name) blogs are available to be downloaded, and I was able to port them to another WordPress installation on my website. Ironically, now that the blog is a WordPress installation, it’s actually easier to search through the archives than before. Xanga was notorious for not being search engine optimized.

We say that once something is online, it will never disappear. With this near blog death experience, I may not agree with that anymore. I’m sure parts of my blog were captured by the Wayback Machine but trying to reconstruct it may be logistical nightmare.

Long time ago I wrote about how digital media is so much more fragile than physical media because one hard drive crash could wipe out all digital photos of the ill-prepared family (equivalent of a home burning down with all the albums). I thought there would be a generation of kids with lost childhood pictures, but my opinion on the matter slowly changed as cloud based services started to proliferate (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, Picasa online, etc.). Privacy concerns aside, once pictures go online, they are there forever right?

Well, I’m not so sure anymore. Once upon a time, it was unimaginable that Eastman Kodak, ironically the company most involved in helping people capture memories, would go bankrupt and disappear (which it has for all intents and purposes). It’s not unimaginable that someday in the future, Google, Facebook, Yahoo will cease to exist as new technologies and companies bring forth a new era of media and communication.

So what is the best way of keeping data secure? Printing on archival paper and storing them in a Safety Deposit Box in a Swiss Bank?

(The cover picture is the last archive of my Xanga blog captured by the Wayback Machine, and surprisingly there are only few broken picture links)


Dear thief

Dear person that stole my money and laptop from the hostel in Ghent.

Where are you going with your life?
Is this your profession? Robbing backpackers in hostels?
Or is this a temporary gig until you settle onto something stable?

I’m really curious, because I don’t know anyone else like you.

Do you have friends?
Are they criminals too?
Do you go home and trade notes about your most recent conquest?

What made you go down this dark path?
Did you one day wake up and say you’re going to rob people for a living?
Did something horrible happen to you that made you decide to take advantage of others?

Is it good business?
How often do you rob people?
How much do you make per month? Are you saving for your future or spending lavishly?

What other criminal activities do you partake in?
Are you dealing drugs? Smuggling contrabands?
Do you pickpocket as well?

Are you part of a criminal enterprise?
Is this a starting position before they move you higher?
Do you pay your dues to your bosses?

Is there family waiting for you back home?
Do you send them money? Part of your loot?
Are you married? with kids? What do you want them to grow up as?

I know you won’t answer these questions, but I really do want to ask. Where is your life going? What are your dreams?


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