Tag Cloud

I’ve been wanting to redo my keyword system on PaperDemon for a while. There were a couple things I wanted to change about it. One was to change it from storing the text of each keyword everytime it’s used. The other, is I wanted to change it to a tag cloud where it makes the common words larger and less common words smaller. I love this type of visualization of data.

So I decided today was going to be the day that I build my tag cloud class. And it only took me a day’s work to finish it! So far I have only integrated it into the Blogs system. This is because PaperDemon’s blog system did not have a keyword/tag system yet so it was easy to plop one in. You can see the start of our very own blogging tag cloud here:


I will migrate artwork and comics to it eventually. However, I’d have to first migrate any existing data into the tag cloud which is not going to be an easy feat. Especially considering artwork has +75,000 keyword entries.


Another project on the horizon

Back in January I talked about the status of my web dev projects. Basically I’m rewriting all my software to turn it into more of a platform or package that I can just plug in and reuse more easily on multiple websites.

My friend Potter, whom some of you may know as Jiita and Piccolo in ZMT, came to me recently with a cool idea for a website. Now I have even more motivation to finish my software so I can use it on this new project.

Here’s a quick lowdown on status since the last status update:


PD GALLERY UI – members area selection of galleries is ~COMPLETE~ but still need to redo the browsing menu.

AJAX COMMENTS – I’m still stuck on this one due to a technical problem with jquery’s form plugin file uploads. I’m working to resolve this still.

ADVERTISEMENTS – I’ve been trying a variety of ad networks. So far I’ve tried BuySellAds.com, Project Wonderful, AdEngage, BlackLabelAds, in addition to Adsense. Some have been more successful than others.

AdEngage was probably the most dissapointing. I tried it in the adult section of PaperDemon and didn’t get any buyers for ads. Instead my ad units just showed CPC ads that got me only about $0.02 per click. I’ve since removed most of the AdEngage ads and replaced them with BlackLabelAds (Adbrite’s adult ad network) which turns much higher profits than AdEngage does. Adengage also uses CPC but the money earned per click is much higher than AdEngage.

I tried out BuySellAds but realized I don’t have enough traffic on the ad unit for it to be worth $5 per month for an advertiser. This is the lowest price you can go. Plus it would be showing the same ad for the whole month and a lot of my traffic is repeat visitors. I doubt my visitors would like seeing the same ad for a whole month especially if I have to put it on every single page to give it the traffic it would need. If I could get my traffic to triple I’d have a much better chance of selling an ad unit and I could place it on the art pages which typically have more random visitors, it would be a better value for the buyer.

With ProjectWonderful I have 3 ad units each getting somewhere between $0.01 and $0.10 per day. It fluctuates a lot. I plan to put the skyscraper ad unit on more pages in hopes of getting it more traffic and driving up the price of the unit. And at least 0.02 is better than a giant blank ad that says "your ad here" and not getting any money at all.

It’s unfortunate I can’t place Adsense or Project Wonderful in my adult section because the adult section is doing very well traffic wise. But I guess BlackLabelAds will have to do for now.

Strangely, my Adsense revenue has dropped significantly as of late. I’m not sure why that is as most of the adsense ads that I removed and replaced with Project Wonderful were underperformers. I did hear something about other publishers reporting a drop in their Adsense revenue and that it had to do with the fact that advertisers are spending less money on advertising. This means the cost per click is lower and my revenue goes down.

Basically in the end it all comes down to needing more traffic. I need to try some more SEO strategies.


Learn the libraries or reinvent the wheel?

For the most part of my time working with PHP, I’ve done things my own way. I don’t use a lot of libraries or read too many articles or books about how to "correctly" develop web applications. I know that most developers stay up to date with the latest libraries that help alot with development. There are also a lot of premade free packages out there that can give you a content management system in minutes such as Word Press. And there are probably a lot of things I’m doing wrong since I’m self taught. Yet I’m still doing my own thing and dread the idea of doing it any other way.

And for a long time I felt like I was an inferior web developer because I wasn’t taking that approach to web development. It’s like I’m reinventing the wheel, the same wheel thousands of other developers have already made.

But an interesting thought occured to me today. With music, I typically don’t like to read sheet music when I play the piano, despite being fairly quick at sight reading. I’d rather figure out the notes myself by ear and then rearrange the music in a different way. And when I do it this way, I understand the music far more than if I had learned it through sheets and it becomes more enjoyable to play.

So maybe that’s my nature; figuring it out for myself. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative person. It seems more fun to me to build an app myself rather than just downloading an existing app and customizing it or plugging in this library with that library.

So here’s to all you reinventers of the wheel out there!

But I make an exception for Javascript. It’s too much of a pain in the ass to write it myself and I’m going to use jQuery to do all the heavy lifting. F*** you, you stupid DOM and your stupid nuance differences in browsers! I HATE writing Javascript!


Latest project happenings

So back in November, I mentioned I’d be dedicating myself to Webdev for at least 6 months before returning to my Multimedia projects. Here’s a quick look at the in-progress webdev projects I have completed, have in progress, and future planned projects.

Completed Projects

UTF-8 – I migrated the site to UTF-8 back in late November. This is something that needed to be done since I will be developing more XML based apps.

REDESIGN – I just finished a visual redesign of PaperDemon.com template. It’s not a major overhaul but it does resolve a few issues that I had with the older layout. It’s mainly a change to the header and footer and a few color tweaks.

REFERRALS – Just created a new referral system the other day on PD that allows members to recruite newbies and get free premium accounts. I’ve done this in an effort to increase traffic and activity (and hopefully increase ad revenue).

In Progress Projects

ADVERTISEMENTS – I’m also working on adding more advertisements to PD, particularly adding adult ads in the Red Curtain. My hosting costs far outweight the ad revenue and I’m hoping to change that now that I have a mortgage to pay (just bought a house, whoo!).

AJAX COMMENTS – The commenting system is something I’m working on a major rewrite of. I rewrote it to be more exportable and have made it an XML based output with XSL and AJAX using jquery stuffs. It’s nearly done but I’ve run into a snag with the jquery ajax image uploader. This project started out as a good candidate for experimenting with XML/XSLT based reusable system but ended up being more complex than I thought and is taking forever to finish.

GALLERIES UI – The galleries system for artwork on PD right now has been very confusing for a lot of users. I’m working on a new interface and reorganization of the gallery trees. Not sure when I’ll have this done but I’m hoping to have it done by end of February.

WEB PAGE CMS – I’m in need of a simple yet flexible content management system for web page content for the ShrunkenHeadMan club at SJSU. I’ve started work on this and am about half way through. Content is stored in a database but is served in XML and converted to HTML via XSLT. It allows for multiple layouts and uses YUI Grids for the layouts. It also archives past edits of a page.

SHM REDESIGN – working with the SHM webmaster and have developed a new template for the site. Working on implementing the new template now and should be done within the next couple weeks.

Future Projects

MEMBERS/LOGIN/PROFILE REWRITE – the code for member logins, profiles, etc is my oldest code and is just a huge mess. I can’t easily plug it in to my other projects. I’m rewriting this one and want to make the profile thing xml/xslt based so it can easily be customized for my other sites like PaperDemonMedia, SHM, and a family site that I want to start soon.

PHOTO GALLERY – I’m going to rewrite my simple photo gallery that is used on PD and add a couple features like albums and upload from picasa. Will use this for the family site and for SHM.

FAMILY SITE – once all of my code is rewritten for better reusability and customization, i want to create a new site that uses all my existing software just for my family to post photos and connect with each other. I might integrate it with other apps such as twitter and facebook.


As you can see, I have a lot going on. I jump around from project to project. I’m thinking 6 months isn’t enough time. It’s already been more than 2. Well, back to work.


Dedicating to Web Dev for 6 months

So now that my cosplay endeavors are over for a while, I’m going to spend some time on heavy development on PaperDemon and other projects.

I have some other website projects that will need code from PD. So I’m working on making it easier to customize and reuse.  I estimate to have the majority of my planned work done in about 6 months. Once that’s done, I’ll get back to working on my multimedia projects.

I’m really excited about jQuery. I just got a lesson from a colleague at work and I’m totally reved up about it. I can’t wait to start doing some awesome ajax and dhtml work with jQuery. I wish I had learned about this a long time ago. Currently, I’m using the Sarissa js library. But jQuery is so much better. it has such a better structure. The code is easier to understand and will result in you writing less lines of code. And the things it can do with the DOM are amazing. Why couldn’t they have designed Javascript to function like jQuery from the start? It’s so unfortunate that Javascript had to be such a poorly structured language. Traversing the dom is rediculous, not to mention all the weird browser compatability problems. Gah! But jQuery will solve ALL of those problems.


Quarter of a Century


Today I’m a quarter of a century.


my top tracks from the last 12 months according to last.fm:

  1. Chrono Cross – Dream of the Shore Bordering Another

  2. Final Fantasy IX – Crossing those Hills

  3. Chrono Cross – Home Village of Arni

  4. Lee Holdridge – I Will Remember You Still

  5. Kelly Sweet – Giorno Dpop Giorno

  6. Final Fantasy X – The SIght of Spira

  7. Final Fantasy IX – Freyja’s Theme

  8. Final Fantasy X – Besaid Island

  9. Final Fantasy V – Ahead On Our Way

  10. Chrono Trigger – Secrets of the Forest

  11. Paul Schwartz – Bel Di

  12. Sasha Lazard – Princess Mononoke

  13. Kelly Sweet – I Will Be Waiting

  14. Final Fantasy VII – Tifa’s Theme

  15. Kelly Sweet – Caresse Sur L’Ocean


cool apps/services I’ve been using:

  • Google Reader – omg i love reader and i’m new to it this year

  • iTunes

  • Last.fm

  • Google Apps – Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Sites

  • Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Corel Painter X

  • Google Picasa and Picasa Web Albums with face recognition

  • Firefox with these notable plugins: Gmarks, Firebug, Web Developer Toolbar

  • Tortoise SVN


Stuff I’ve learned this year:

Learned XML, XSL and started to use that on PD to separate data, PHP code, and presentation logic.

More experience with Linux

Using Tortoise SVN to version control my websites



Modding updates, workin’ on ST

My "Project Time" is working out really well so far. I have drafted storyboards for the first two scenes in Surviving Together and started the third. There are a total of 4 scenes. I’m finding it quite difficult to storyboard. It’s difficult to imagine characters in a setting, decide on camera angles, and have it all make sense. I’m also trying to reuse shots whenever possible to save time in the animation stage. Also I’m trying to avoid showing any characters walking because that’s difficult to animate. I want to get this first episode done. Then I can work on more challenging animation shots. Right now I’m being as conservative as possible. Once I have the boards together I’ll scan them all in and create an animatic to share with a few people to give me feedback. More updates to come.

I’ve spent some considerable time the past couple weeks reworking the tools the Moderators use at PaperDemon. We’ve been short staffed as of late and there have been a lot of submissions coming in. I figure if I can improve the tools to make it easier to mod and have it take less time, we can get more done with less staff. The tool uses a lot of nifty AJAX. I just learned XML and XSLT at a 1 day class at work and am trying to put it to good use. I have a php script that generates the XML file and an XSLT style sheet that states how the file should be formed. Then I use Sarissa to submit post data of my form, get the xml back from php, and then apply the style sheet to the data.

So far the only problem I’ve run into that I can’t solve is that it doesn’t work for some reason in IE 6. I haven’t tried it on 7 yet. Sarissa has trouble applying the XSLT on the XML for some reason. It  doesn’t make any sense because if I access the XML file directly and put in a line in there to use my XSLT file it outputs the formatted HTML correctly without any errors. Is this a problem with Sarissa? I tried searching the net but haven’t found a solution yet. Works just fine in Firefox.


I met Mickey

I went to Disneyland on Tuesday. The company I work for went there for an offsite and it was loads of fun. I got to meet Mickey Mouse! See? Here’s my proof!

BogusRed and Mickey

It was fun. Mike and I will probably start planning our trip to go down there very soon. We will probably go in May or something. There’s a couple of other parks we want to see down there too.

I’ve made a lot of small updates to PD lately. Revamp of the view art submission page, new [codes], Ajaxifying add artists. I also made a couple of new profile skins based on Zarbon’s Masterpiece Theater. They don’t look as good as I think they could be though. I think I need to try harder. I’m also preparing to start selling the Premium accounts. There are just a few details I have to work out and I’ll be ready to start selling them.

I’ve taken a very short break from PD Media. I’ll get back to working on the episode pretty soon. It’s been tough scheduling meetings. But I’ll work it out. We are trying to use Google Apps to stay better connected.

I’m also working on a new OC Remix submission. It’s part of a OC Remix project that I was invited to work on. I can’t talk about the details though. I think the organizers want this project to stay quiet for right now. They’ll probably announce it in a couple months. Yay more piano music!


Polls system is still a work in progress

Well I’m still working on the poll system. It’s taking longer to revamp than I originally thought. Mostly due to debugging IE Javascript errors and IE CSS display errors. I wish Firebug‘s CSS/DOM inspector worked on IE 🙁

But I’ve finally got the poll working (hopefully). All I really have left to do is the backend and adding the polls to the groups system. I’ve planned ahead for adding this to groups so the polls php class is all ready to work with groups. It should make it especially handy for when we have contests and want to poll the PD members on which contest entry should win.

I must say though, it’s looking a lot nicer than the old one did. I hope to have it all finished this weekend. More updates to come. Hooray for cleaning up old decrepid code!


Animating and Coding

This past weekend was spent animating. I have almost an entire scene from our new anime spoof show fully animated. It still needs some revisions but it is close to final. However, there are still 13 other scenes to the episode… oh wait.. and we just added a couple more to the episode… well at least its coming along! I’m excited about it.

It’s getting me thinking about Surviving Together and I’m starting to think that perhaps I really am ready to take it on. But can I really handle working on both the new anime show AND Surviving Together? Perhaps I would be MORE productive if I worked on multiple projects because I’d enjoy flip flopping. I’m not sure what I want to do about the animation style for it though. I am thinking about possibly doing it in the same style as the new anime spoof show which is flash like. It’s faster to do and easier. But I feel like it may be too stiff. We’ll see.

I’m also getting the inkling to revising some old decrepid code on PD. I haven’t done much yet this year with programming but I think the first thing I want to tackle is this horrible polling system I wrote back in the day. I want to change it to CSS Div layout instead of tables and have it as a feature for groups and premium accounts. The poll can blend with the users profile skin too 😀 It wouldn’t take much work to get this thing updated and in better shape. I could have it ready for betas to test within a few days probably. I’m looking forward to working on it.

I also want to tackle rewriting the code for handling member accounts. It’s all a big mess. It’s like the oldest code on PD and its messy and hard to read. And I want to make it more exportable so I can use it on other projects. It’s just plain poorly written. Gah…

I’m tired. I had a very unproductive evening. I was chatting with a friend the whole night about various web development stuff and though it was neat and interesting to talk about all those different things, if at the end of the day I can’t see any sort of sign of having completed something or making progress on something, I sort of go to bed feeling a little depressed. I kind of want to stay up late and work on something just to feel better. But it’s 1am here and I have to get up for work at 8:45ish.

I think I’ll decide to sleep. :sleep: This forum post is my last 20 minutes of my day to make an effort at something constructive…. some how I don’t feel that much better…but tomorrow is a new day!