This is a colophon, which tells you something about the more technical details of this site. Mine is rather long-winded, so you might want to grab something to drink.

A Brief History of Just a Gwai Lo

There is already page explaining the origin on the name of this blog, but here, a brief history. The blog started out under a very boring name, not worth repeating here. This blog started as many, many blogs do: I saw a site called Blogger and wondered what the big deal was. It was primarily a personal-life blog, with links and such interspersed. That lasted from December 2000 to about May 2003, during which this site moved to a domain (in 2001 to and independent server space. In October 2001, I moved this site to Movable Type. In April 2002, a section of this site called Filter originally written with Movable Type, took care of the just-links part of the blog and allowed the personal site to live on its own. That section is from June 2004 to November 2005, powered by WordPress. I burned out of the personal life stuff in May 2003 and, after a brief hiatus, the main site has taken on the content of a links-commentary blog. From May 2005 to early 2006, Just a Gwai Lo aggregated content from all the blogs I write onto a single RSS feed. (It used to create the front page, but no longer.) That was done through the magic of PHP, MySQL, Magpie and elbow grease.

Technical Details

Success in validating this site as XHTML 1.0 Strict hinges on how vigilant its author is in writing with valid code. His vigilance varies on a day to day basis. The site makes use of CSS for formatting and positioning. There is a small amount of PHP in the backend, as well as Javascript for keeping statistics. table elements are used for table data only.

I mostly look at this site in Safari for the Mac, so it may not always look its prettiest in IE 6 for Windows.

I don't use a WYSIWYG editor and code my HTML by hand, partly because the good web development platforms are too expensive, and also because it allows for the most flexibility. It also allows for the most typing, which can gets really tedious sometimes. <opinion type="personal">It doesn't matter how you code, as long as the site looks good and the markup is clean.</opinion> That said, this site is updated through the the best PHP CMS there is.


Since November 2005, the front page has been powered exclusively by Drupal, now at version 6. An incomplete list of contributed modules:

  • CCK with some add-ons

CCK modules

  • Link for store URLs for bookmarks and Flickr photos
  • Viewfield to embed views within nodes, especially SkyTrain station pages (example) and the SkyTrain map (in order to fit a map view in a book outline)

Other contributed module

Custom modules

  • Fenchurch, an omnibus module adding some theme functions. It replaces Content Template for per-content type formatting in a few contexts, mostly to modify the output of RSS feed items
  • Quotable, which styles external quotes

PHP libraries

I use the phpFlickr library extensively on the site, both to display my own Flickr photos but also to show photos tagged with the same tags I used, for example the sidebar of the 'Vancouver' tag on this site.


Non-English words (except for onomatopoeia and proper names) are italicized. An example would be raison d'etre and ni hao (which, respectively, are "reason for being" in French and "hello" in Mandarin Chinese). Emphasis (either a slight pause, louder when spoken, or both) are in bold. An example would be "It wasn't what he said, but rather what she said." Words or phrases that I wish be de-emphasized are written like this. Titles of print publications (be they magazines, newspapers, books, etc.), movies and music CDs are also italicized (this marks a departure from my previous practice, which was to underline), even within links if it has an online presence. An example is The National Post (but not, however, Slate, the online-only political affairs and American culture magazine). Every effort has been made to wrap acronyms in the acronym tag, but there are some acronyms (like RSS) that stand for different things, depending on whom you ask, and therefore are not wrapped in acronym.


Every effort is made to use the Canadian spelling of words. Yes, that's right: superfluous U's! This means that I sometimes misspell American organization names (the last word in "Department of Defense" is commonly misspelled with a C instead of an S). Wikipedia's Canadian English page is a useful guide to how I spell words. Inevitably, you will come across a poorly spelled word, and I'd thank you if you pointed it out gently. And privately.


No comments on blog posts anymore since I'm fussy.


This site is hosted on a Linode VPS. Previously, I hosted on Slicehost VPS and before that, this site was hosted by Bryght, and before that, Vervehosting. My domains (all 15 of 'em) were registered at NameCheap.

Some animals may have been harmed during the production of this website, but luckily the SPCA didn't notice. That's a joke. Get it? Funny? Ha ha?


This page may contain wild inaccuracies. They will be corrected at my leisure. I fully intend to forget to do so. Everything I write is an accurate reflection of how I felt at the time.