Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did you laugh?

Well? Did you?

I did. Heartily too. My computer was lucky that I wasn't holding a mouthful of coffee or water in my mouth when I came across that statement.

$50 to opt-out. For one year. Brilliant! Hahahahahaha ...

If you're an Entrecard member, and if you haven't already known, according to some fellow Entrecarders, it has been announced that firstly, the sponsored ads campaign has been postponed to 5th of October, instead of 28th of September; and secondly, you can now opt out of the sponsored ads by paying a minimal amount of $50 ... for one year.

Hmmm ... how do I start?

I'll start with - In my personal and humble opinion -

I guess EntreCard had grown in its value when its membership expanded significantly some times back. Having its widget appearing in thousands of blogs probably means a great potential in internet marketing. But how do you convert this great potential into cash? Mr G failed. And by the look of it, in my personal and humble opinion, so would Ms C.

"That's so not the way to do it."

"Yeah? You got any bright idea?"

"You shouldn't have given them choices! Be firm. Corner them. Then offer them a lifeline by paying cash. That way, we earn from the sponsored ads AND from those who don't want sponsored ads. Win-win! Muahahahaha ..."

Yeah. Right.

There must be something that these EC people see that I don't.

Four points.

But before that, let me state that I totally understand and accept that it requires funds to run something like Entrecard. If the EC people can make money out of it as well, I'm happy for them. But this should be implemented in a way that's acceptable to people who makes it successful, or valuable, in the first place - the members. And - I'm not leaving Entrecard just yet. I'll stick around to see how this will turn out. And to my favourite bloggers that have stated their intention to leave Entrecard, I'll be bookmarking you all for future visit.

OK then.

The first point - the intention of Mr G in launching the paid ads campaign a few months ago is understandable. But I guess the members' negative reception to his paid ads was probably not something he expected. So he learned. And he backed off.

So when Ms C decided to launch her sponsored ads, did she not have the knowledge of what Mr G experienced previously? If she knows about the episode and still goes ahead with the sponsored ads, then there must be something very, very profitable about these paid ads or sponsored ads that I fail to see. Or maybe her brilliant $50-opt-out is her ulterior motive? Maybe there's something that I've missed.

Secondly, assuming paid ads or sponsored ads is the way to go about in solving the financial issue of Entrecard, there is something not right with how they launch it. I assume what makes Entrecard widget attractive to advertisers is that its widget appears in thousands of blogs - great exposure. And I assume, ultimately, external or third party advertisers are their targets for some serious money.

"Come, come buy our ads, you'll get exposure in thousands of blogs. Great value for your advertising money. Come, come. But before that, we'll drive away many blogs to devalue the advertising potential of Entrecrad. Come, come place ads with us." - make sense?

Or, maybe they have a brilliant plan to attract thousands more bloggers into Entrecard after this round of exodus, for the second time. Something I have missed?

Thirdly, did it cross the brilliant minds of the EC people that there are more than one way to opt out from the sponsored ads? Hmmm ... if I'm so concern about the sponsored ads, should I pay 50 bucks, or delete the widget? Pay 50 bucks? Delete the widget? Hmmm ... that's a tough one.

Or maybe they've secretly re-coded the EC widget such that it can't be torn away from our blogs. And to make it sponsored ads free, we'll have no way but to pay the $50. Again, is there something that I have missed?

Lastly, if I'm concerned about the sponsored ads, and I want to remain in Entrecard for the traffic, is $50 worthwhile?

Compared to Adgitize, where members are induced to click on ads by money, EC members are rewarded with ECs (and nowadays, they don't get any if others click on the EC widget on their blogs) that cannot be converted into cash, and can only be used to buy ads on other EC blogs, which starting from 5th of October will get only 85% exposure.

And with most EC blogs now have Adgitize ads displayed on them, the Adgitize ads will be the more likely exit point, compared to EC ads, for most widget surfers. I know I do. Therefore, when we place EC ads on EC blogs that also have Adgitize ads (and there are a lot of them), it's likely, and that's what I've observed over the past months, that we'll get less click through from the EC ads that we buy. Value for money?

I guess the greatest beneficiary from the side effect - the exodus - of this sponsored ads will be people like Adgitize, or CMF, or ... wait a minute, maybe the EC people IS the Adgitize people ... Hmmm ... There must be something that I have missed.

I like this community of Entrecard. And it is a community. Unlike BlogCatalog or MyBlogLog (I think), with Entrecard, whenever someone drops on my blog, I feel bounded by a sense of fellowship to drop back. Thus the reciprocal visit is more than likely to occur. Although, how to convert this traffic into readership is something to be considered.

Again, I totally understand the need to find money to finance this beloved community of ours. But is there a better way to do it without offending many of our members? And I guess most feel offended by these changes because they are implemented halfway through. Nothing was stated about the one-page-down (is this still being enforced?), or the paid ads, or the sponsored ads when we joined this great community of Entrecard. And I guess for the goods of the community, nobody would object to changes that are beneficial - to both the management and the members. But when it's forced down our throats without our consent, nothing nice will come out the other end. Anyway ...

I wonder how sites like Facebook or Twitter survive financially.

Oh, and if you want this piece of junk out of your face, you can just pay me $50 too.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The tiled roof of the little brick house splashes a warm red against the cold whites on the ground. The greens of the lone pine tree standing guard to the little house blend quietly with the reds and the whites into a perfect picture of winter serenity.

This is her favourite place to visit in search of inner peace. When she is trapped within the four walls of unbearable sadness, when stress comes close to suffocation, when she can't muster another strand of energy to take another step forward in her quest, this is the place to seek solace, nourish her strength, resuscitate her heart in despair, and take a much-needed rest. This is where the world around her stops spinning.

She could almost see traces of smoke billowing softly from the chimney on the roof. Through the wood paned windows of the little house, she could almost see the light emanating from the firewood. How peaceful it must be lying by the warmth of the fireplace in the winter cold - with a book she loves in her hand, and within the vicinity of her loved ones. Oh, how she yearns for the embrace of such warmth.

As her mind is taking a leisure stroll into the placid whites of the winter world, she is slowly leaving her worries and anguish behind. Or perhaps the snow has prevented them from hurting her by burying them deep within the ground.

There is nothing more soothing than the image currently being reflected in the mirror of her eyes. No, there is one ... She gives the quiet world a little shake.

The snow lifts itself from the ground and swirls around the little house and the tree. They are dancing elegantly to the silence of winter. When the swirling stops, the winter whites drop softly towards their resting place again. Winter has just got slightly livelier and more captivating being showered by the falling snow. She pictures herself standing in the middle of it, stretching her arms wide to welcome the falling grace. Some rest on the roof of the house, some on the top of the tree, though most will fall back to the comfort of the ground. She takes a deep breath. She could almost smell the cold air and the snow.

She promises herself she will one day stand in front of just such a house and next to just such a tree on just such a snow-covered ground. She promises herself she will work hard towards this dream. Like the snow slowly thickening its blanket over the ground, hope fills her heart, and thereby burying her angst.

As she looks longingly into the winter globe by her bedside, her imagination continues its journey into the winter land. While the warmth of the tropical night dries her tears, tiredness gently put weight on her eyelids. Her breathing gradually draws longer and deeper, and she softly closes her eyes ...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


His heart was beating fast, knocking furiously against his chest. He had never felt his heart thumped so violently, and loud. So violent, he swore his shirt was fluttering because of it, and not the high wind. So loud, it was the only audible sound amid the screams of fear within him.

He dared not look beneath his feet, lest his strength would be sapped away from propping him up. He didn't want to fall out of dizziness, or wobbling feet. Trying desperately to calm his racing heart, he took a deep breath, and another, and another ... trying to inject a dose of sedative calm into him. One more inhale, and he held it. He opened his eyes and casted his sight forwards, careful to snap the view in front, and not below. Then he let out his breath slowly.

It was not the most magnificent view he had ever seen. But without a barrier of any solid form to prevent him from taking a step into thin air atop two hundreds feet, it was breath-taking.

From afar, the different shades of blues of the sky and the ocean drew a perfect horizontal line. The crashing waves splashed a vaguely visible white wriggly line between the ocean and the beach. The greens of the few rows of tress guarded the sandy white beach from the encroaching civilisation of roads, tall buildings, houses, cars and their occupants. Under the morning sunshine, above two hundreds feet, it was grand. But could it be the last scenic view of his life? He did have his fear.

As overwhelming as his fear was from two hundreds feet, his worldly worries were always lurking behind his mind. A sudden, but not unexpected, loss of job was the trigger to his predicament. Its entailing loss of income magnified his financial burden to a suffocating level. The mortgage loan grew in its weight on his shoulders. Installments on the cars, the piano, the home theater system which once seemed insignificant hung heavy. The insurance premiums, his mother's medical bills, the kid's tuition fees and school supplies, the credit card debts, the uncertain future ... were all simmering his heart.

"Arrrghh ...." an anguish shout rang through the air.

He drew in another deep breath of the thin air, focused his eyes squarely to the front, clenched his fists, muscled up his guts, knelt slightly, spread out his arms and pushed his leg back with all his might. He jumped.

For a brief moment, everything around him seemed frozen in time. But two hundreds feet above the earth with nothingness beneath his feet, he started to fall.

As the earth pulled him towards the ground in accelerating speed, he forced open his eyes. Whoosh! He saw only blur. He heard nothing but the howling air. Whoosh! His face twitched uncontrollably. His internal organs were being churned. Whoosh! His limbs were stiff. His fists clenched tight. Whoosh! Million thoughts flew by his mind, millions thoughts crushed. Whoosh! His fear was so overbearing, it crushed itself. Whoosh! His mind went blank. Whoosh! Then he let go ...

The surface pressed towards him fast, as was his rush of adrenalin that displaced his fear. He could only scream towards such concoction of extreme sensations. As the surface crashed into him, he closed his eyes. Then it happened.

He felt a tug at his leg. His fall broke. As the grip on his legs get tighter, his dive slowed. Then he stopped. The howling stopped. His thoughts stopped. The world stopped. He opened his eyes.

Before he could give out another shout, he was yanked back towards the sky. At the top of his flight, he finally managed to shout again, in delight. He punched his fists in the air. He laughed. He did it.

After a few more bounces in the air, he was hanging about ten feet above the ground above a huge airbag. His feet tied to an elastic cord dangling from the top of a two-hundreds-feet high crane. At that point, he was looking at the world from an unfamiliar angle - upside down. As he hung waiting for the bungee jumping crew to get him, his worries seemed distant and minute. In fact, nothing seemed insurmountable.

When he finally stood on the ground looking upwards at where he was a few minutes ago, his wife and kids rushed towards him, and gave him a supportive hug. He is ready to take on the world again.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Night

The moon is full. Her scars of age and wisdom are clearly visible, and proudly worn. Up in the sky, she is strolling majestically in the centre of the thickest of the blacks, or is it the deepest of the blues? As she glides slowly across the sky, she is enjoying the view illuminated by her magnificent shine. But the one half of the blue planet is not the only recipient of her captivating light.

The moonlight has drawn out a perspective of depth on the few thinly clad clouds that accompany her tonight. Without heavy clothing, the clouds are flowing frivolously across the sky in a much hastier manner. They are seeking their companions that have gone into hiding from the scorching sun during the day. And when they unknowingly block the view of the moon, they soften her glow, at the same time enhancing her mythical beauty, crowning her with a ring of outer shine.

Being a considerate host, the sky is thoughtful in shooing off the multitude of stars. This night belongs to the moon, and nothing should take away her radiance. Though a few cheeky starlets that escape the chase are playing the twinkling game at a far corner. And they are winking to a song being played by the wind.

Although the wind is in no rush, his path through the trees is leaving a soft trail of rustling and whistling. The trees are happy to have the cooling wind for company; they sway willingly in accordance to the baton of the wind. Their reflections on the moonlit river are dancing in tandem, swinging to the rhythm of the night.

Just as the wind is heading towards his destination of the night, the river is on her way to hers, though she is flowing at a much more relaxing pace. The night is still young, there is ample time to make it to her rendezvous with the rising sun at the eastern ocean. While she is winding her way along the line of trees towards her destination, she takes time to give thankful pats to the grass that protects her shoulders, and kisses to those that are long enough to reach her. For those playful rocks that try to catch a glimpse of this beautiful night by protruding their heads above the river, she gives them teasing splashes on their heads. And that makes a perfect accompaniment to the tune the wind is playing.

As busy as the river is doing everything else, she never forgets to capture the tranquilities around her with her reflective surface. She is creative in giving a rippling effect to the scenic image to add a feel of liveliness.

And upon this lively picture of calmness, the night is breathing softly, drawing in the remnant heat from the day and gently exhaling the coolness of her serenity. Her breathing is tender, taking care not to wake up the animals that are sound asleep after a hectic day of activities. And as they sleep, up on a branch of a tree, an owl is keeping watch - in a night when the moon is full.



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