20 years of False Positives

False Positives LogoOn April 1st 2003 I posted Heard from my Brother yesterday that he survived another round of purges on BlogSpot. The original blog is still there, although all the content was imported into wordpress on Friday, August 19, 2005.

20 years, and 1343 posts! Wow!

FalsePositives (note that it is a plural) was named due to 2 things :

  1. In 2002 Paul Graham wrote about A Plan for Spam about a statistical approach to email spam. And so I (re)learn more statistics. At one point this sites subtitle was the hope “HAM not SPAM”
  2. The 2003 outbreak of SARS aka SARS-CoV-1 aka Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome. Starting in Guangdong China, spreading to Hong Kong and then Toronto where it caused 247 probable cases and 44 deaths. From outside Toronto it seems Toronto must be a deserted apocalyptic hellscape (although it was easier to get a seat at the favourite dim sum place for months after). So that was a False Positive. The original subtitle for a short time was “Not Dead Yet!”

The intention of FalsePositives was sharing funny/interesting links with a few friends and former co-workers. The Logo is a negative symbol above a positive symbol or -+ or negative positives aka a false positives. Okay it’s a stretch but it was the best I could come up with!

Those 1343 posts have always covered a mess of travel and tech, personal and media.

Posting frequency has certainly declined :

2003 : 189 posts
2004 : 503 posts
2005 : 297 posts
2006 : 80 posts
2007 : 85 posts
2008 : 50 posts
2009 : 37 posts
2010 : 20 posts
2011 : 13 posts
2012 : 10 posts
2013 : 15 posts
2014 : 12 posts
2015 : 7 posts
2016 : 7 posts
2017 : 2 posts
2018 : 1 posts
2019 : 3 posts
2020 : 3 posts
2021 : 5 posts
2022 : 1 posts
2023 : 3 posts

I made heavy use of the del.icio.us bookmarking site since its start in 2003 and its folksonomy tagging approach. When Delicious declined I didn’t migrate to pinboard but just used twitter with commentary and . Joining twitter in 2008 (also in April) really sucked up the links for better or worse.

If the volume of posts dwindled, the posts that remained were more likely to be more personal essays, almost a web diary, on events (like Blackout of ’03, a delayed Y2K experience in Toronto), Film and TV reviews (Five films from the TIFF), celebrating life (Celebrating Lunar New Year and Long Life with Tam Kwai Lan) and, unfortunately, far too many obituaries. There have also been many detailed code related postings, covering many lotus domino, ruby and rails, and javascript topics, as well as links and thoughts on tech things happening IRL as well as other websites.. Many of which still get regular traffic, even years after being posted, to my shock.

Beyond the original intention, FalsePositives has served as a personal exo-cortex of my own brain. I have frequently used it to solve / remember programming problems. Indeed the very act of writing some small programming challenge has helped me learn, and (based on feedback) helped others. It also captured what I saw on various trips (like a brief visit to Portugal in 2015, the Bacalhau, Egg Tarts, and Port tour!, and what I experienced and felt at the time.

Blogging can be a very egotistical pursuit of traffic but also involves a lot of humility given (for me) the large amount of effort involved.

The payoff has been a record of memories from the last 20 years, learning around code and other subjects as writing things down can help improve the clarity of one’s thoughts (even if only slightly), and working on the craft of writing and improving my communication skills (again even if only very slightly). I hope I can also provide some value to those who read, but ultimately my most important reader must be myself. Here’s hoping for another twenty years and more Ham, learning, and hacking!

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