Hatkirby on October 2nd, 2011 at 11:32:40am
Guess what's happening here? That's right, I'm reviewing an album! I haven't done this in a while, but then again, I haven't really been posting too frequently either. Well, that's about to stop. Let's talk about Kerli, and her debut album Love Is Dead.
I'm going to do this review in a different manner than I usually do album reviews. Usually, I write a track-by-track critique of the album, but I've found that that's actually really awful and not how, well, anyone else does it. Instead, I'm going to weave you a tale of ice cream mountains and chocolate skies. Yes. I just quoted a Kerli song.
Why I Bought It
I first heard about Kerli the same way I first heard about most of the singers I like (including Kate Nash and Regina Spektor!): my buddy last.fm recommended her to me based off the artists I already like. This was back in June/July, I believe, and at the time I wasn't really in the state to buy a new album (I had just purchased two Regina Spektor albums, received two other albums for my birthday and had a line of albums waiting for me in the upcoming months), but I decided to check her out on iTunes anyway. I listened to the song Love Is Dead and, you know, after recovering from the ensuing fainting episode, I decided I had to have the album. It would have to wait, though, because, as I said before, other albums were calling my name. That's right Christina Perri and Adele, I'm talking about you.
Fast forward to September, and next up on my list of albums is Biophilia, Björk's new album. The only problem was it wasn't out yet. It had, for some reason, been pushed back to October, so, seeing as my next album after that had to be purchased in October (I have a schedule for Regina Spektor albums, don't laugh!) and the album after that was also only coming out in October, it appeared I had a vacancy. So, it was with glee that I walked into a Best Buy near the end of September and purchased one of their two copies of Love Is Dead (which surprised me seeing as they were the only Best Buy in the area that even had the album). When I got home, I ripped it and immediately started listening to Love Is Dead, the track, I mean, but also the album. You know what I mean.
The HighlightsLove Is Dead (the track) is fantastic. I mean, I feel like that song has been swimming within me for months, ever since I first heard that snippet on iTunes back in June/July. Have you ever heard a song you really like, but don't want to listen to until a certain date and then you spend months trying and failing not to listen to it in your head? No, that's just me? Yeah, that's what I though, and perhaps I was setting myself up for this experience, but Love Is Dead gave me shivers. A truly spectacular song, it's like the epicness of Björk's Army Of Me meets the heartbreaking pain of Fefe Dobson's Scar. Seriously, it's not a common occasion that the verses of a song make me want to sing along just as much as the chorus does. The song is a journey, it really is: the song starts and it's epic and Kerli sings you through what's happening and suddenly, BAM, the song explodes into the chorus and although she's not screaming, you can hear the pain in Kerli's voice as she almost dejectedly sings "But love don't live here anymore" and muted, almost childish voices back her notion up: "Love is dead, love is gone, love don't live here anymore." Repeat that, and then, without losing flow, the song dives back into the verse with my favorite line of the song: "I know that you think of me when you're beside her, inside her." After another passionate verse and chorus, Kerli goes into another chorus and suddenly the pain is palpable and Kerli's life is being sucked from her as she repeatedly, losing strength every time, sings "Love don't live here anymore!" until she can't sing another word and the pain consumes her. Looking back at this paragraph, I'm almost definitely insane, but trust me, this is an epic song which is worth a listen or sixty seven. Trust me.
Next, Walking On Air. I actually didn't think too much of this song (though I didn't openly dislike it) the first few times I listened to the album, but after I showed the album to my good friend Drifty, to whom Walking On Air stood out as the best track, I tried it again and realized it was actually a really powerful song. Unlike Love Is Dead, this is a song whose chorus really stands out as the best part of the song, and that's because it's just flows so well. Kerli manages to sing us a mostly-monotonous chorus and make it magical at the same time. Combined with the the backing music/beat (is that clapping? Who knows, it just sounds amazing) and the incredible catchiness of the thing, Walking On Air is definitely my second favorite track on this album.
Creepshow, for another, is a really intense song. I've noticed that I'm picking out all the singles here, but whatever. Creepshow basically consists of Kerli taunting her listeners because she's "from a land called Secret Estonia" and "nobody knows where it's at." I'm not sure if Estonia actually has ice cream mountains, chocolate skies, cinnamon houses or licorice ties, but she's probably right about the nobody knowing where it is thing. Nevertheless, it's actually incredibly catchy, even when Kerli continually insists via yelling that it's a creepshow. The only weak point is the bridge, which is actually in Estonian and, well, to be honest, sounds like a bunch of made up words said in a creepy childlike voice. Still a very good song.
This album actually manages to hide a lot of gems amongst its somewhat-popular singles. The Creationist is a song that almost seems too happy for Kerli, considering most of her other songs, and I didn't like it at first but it's really grown on me. Life is awesome and all of that, yeah. I Want Nothing is another change of direction---instead of dark pop, it's some kind of rock. Once again, very catchy. Kerli wants nothing from you but to listen to her album. :P Hurt Me returns to the dark pop, but you'll find that the yelled line "go on if it makes you soar!" from the chorus gets stuck in your head pretty easily. Anger is an instrument, it totally is. Butterfly Cry is a beautiful, heartbreaking song in which Kerli is trying to convince someone that everything's okay ("Yeah, 'cause the world is wonderful..."). A slow and beautiful song. Finally, Fragile, a slow and solemn ballad, makes me tear because I associate it pretty strongly with someone for some reason and shut up why are you asking me so many questions. Listen to this album, it goes in every direction possible and manages to do it wonderfully.
The So-Sos and the ShadowsOf course, not every album is perfect and I'm not going to have deep, emotional connections with every song. For instance, the song Bulletproof, while strong and saddening, didn't make the list of best songs. It's emotional, it's painful, but it's not as powerful as Love Is Dead or Butterfly Cry. Beautiful Day is another departure from Kerli's usual dark pop, but it sounds far too much like a song better sung by Lily Allen and it's just not as catchy as The Creationist. Seriously, go listen to LDN by Lily Allen and tell me Beautiful Day doesn't sound anything like it. Strange Boy, for a third, is another rockin' song like I Want Nothing, and don't get me wrong, it's really good. This will get stuck in your head: "Strange boy, innocent, you're here, magnificent." I feel guilty for putting these songs in the "so-so" section now, I just couldn't put every song in the highlights, you know? :P
Finally, there was one song that I just didn't like. Well, an album can never be perfect, can it? Well, unless it's Soviet Kitsch by Regina Spektor, that thing was flawless. But I digress. The song Up Up Up really just didn't do anything for me. It didn't have a cute melody, no people breaking into tears of angst, no hip-hoppin' dudetastic beat, just, meh. Kerli, I'm disappointed. But not really.
The VerdictLove Is Dead is an insane album, and it manages to go in so many directions that it actually amazes me how much of it I love. If I average the tracks, Love Is Dead gets 3.75 stars out of 5. Goodness, you know, I'm happy with the way this album review reform worked out, but I really need to find another method of getting a final rating of an album because one straggler brought the entire album down. Whatever. I really recommend you listen to this album, and if I pay her $5, I'm sure Drifty would recommend you listen to it too. It's on iTunes, dudes! You can listen to free samples! Or you could listen to the whole thing on Spotify or Youtube, whatever floats your boat. :P Starla out!
Hatkirby on September 30th, 2011 at 6:24:35pm
When I logged into Four Island late yesterday, just to check on things before going to bed, I was greeted by my lovely Wordpress dashboard. At least my website doesn't think it's ubiquitous anymore, eh? Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary---Google Analytics looked like it hadn't even changed---but I was interested in the list of links under "Incoming Links." I mean, most of them looked fairly shady. I decided to click on the one from someone called Amy Starlight Lawrence, since a) it wasn't blatantly obviously spam or b) me leaving a link to my site in a comment on another site. It led to a legitimate-appearing news article, which was interesting but didn't contain a single link to Four Island. Okay. I decided to check out the comments and a moment later emerged, coughing, from a sea of poisoned spam. The spam on that article was atrocious. What really disturbed me, however, was this:
What exactly is a Four Island domain doing in a link in a spam comment? What, I ask you, WHAT? I clicked the link, however, and things started to make sense.
thenest.fourisland.com is a Four Island subdomain that most of you probably haven't heard of, and that's because the project it represents really never took off. For another thing, it wasn't really my project: TimTam had an idea and asked me if I could host it, because I happen to really enjoy hosting things for some reason :P. Believe it or not, it's also incredibly old: it was September 28th, 2009 when the following Google Talk conversation happened:TimTam: i had an idea that we should have a forum TimTam: just as normal TimTam: but everyone has to act as a made up person TimTam: i would soooo be TheDarkOne Starla: :) Starla: Like Fourm RP? TimTam: yes TimTam: except that you are jus one user TimTam: rather than lots TimTam: it would have to be a full forum though TimTam: rather than just one topic TimTam: as in, a new board TimTam: i would be so happyWe developed the idea a bit, and I put up a new phpBB3 installation at thenest.fourisland.com. We then promptly completely forgot about the project until December, and then a little bit of work was done in January, and then The Nest pretty much officially died. What a valiant life it led.
SpamFour Island has had a long-standing problem with spam. I've frequently been forced to completely disable user registration on The Fourm because of spam registrations. I decided to open registration back up around January of this year, and was buffeted by the influx of Fourm spammers. I found, around the same time, the website Stop Forum Spam, which is basically a database of usernames, email addresses and IP addresses of spammers. I joined and decided that I would use my situation for The Good Of Mankind. I developed a daily routine in which I'd, at lunch, go through the 30 or so emails I'd received in the last day from firstname.lastname@example.org and check the new user's details in the Stop Forum Spam database. If the email address matched at least once, or if the IP addresses matched a large number of times, I'd submit the spammer to the database (strengthening the evidence against that spammer) and then delete them from The Fourm. I actually think it was kind of awesome how skillful I became at doing this quickly, using keyboard shortcuts and muscle memory; so impressed was I that it took me at least two months to realize that writing a Ruby script to do the entire thing for me would be incredibly easier and wouldn't take nearly as long. So, I did. Eventually, after 3330 spammers, I got tired of this, and just disabled Forum registrations again.
Now, mid-February, TimTam suddenly brings The Nest back up. Why? Oh, you know, it's just covered in spam. Still in my Stop Forum Spam frenzy, I got all excited and decided that I would also prune The Nest of spammers daily, and since user verification wasn't required on The Nest and spammers just started spamming as soon as they registered, I didn't have to check the spammers against the database and could simply submit them as spammers. I could even use the contents of their posts in the "Evidence" field on the submission form. Anyway, like I said before, I eventually stopped spam pruning and eventually completely forgot about The Nest again. Until today.
Go to The Nest now. I dare you. Go to it, look at the topics, but don't click any links in any post. In my spam pruning absence, the Nest flourished with spammers. There are 57336 posts on that Forum and approximately 78.30 posts are posted every day. It's complete and utter mayhem, what with there being over 5000 users and a registration rate of ~7.46 new users a day.
I find this fascinating.
It's like my own little AI simulation, like that XKCD I once actually tried to emulate before getting laughed at on some random IRC chatroom when I asked them for viruses. Every one of those 5000+ spammers on The Nest is an automated program. Sure, they're all incredibly stupid programs, most of which can't form actual English sentences (or phrases), but they all try to some degree. Every one of them had to input some information about themselves when they registered: their birthdate, their location, their occupation and interests; it's just so interesting. Look at the bottom of the forum index: look how many spambots' birthdays it is today! How cute! The interaction between the spambots is what most interests me, though. We have our really active members, like sesiaMopejelp who rules the site with 5434 post and seems to really only want to help us get that free Viagra, and our incredibly inactive members. It just warms my heart to see spammers replying to other spammers' spam. Some cute stuff findable on The Nest of Spam:
- old man group sex, a topic in which poor ol' Optiomiut posts over and over again, hoping that someone will read his topic and find his elderly pornography. Seriously, the topic is 160 pages long and as far as I can tell, all 1500+ of those posts are his. Double post, anyone?
- Free sim cards - The Normal Sim Card Provides. Wow, is that English? Not very good English, but it's definitely readable. Good on ya' sara356. Too bad arrodortecy just wants to talk about his porn. Sigh, it's okay sara, just go back to your job as an "CalndrOprator,ArtfcalLathr."
- This dude, Plomeshes, has never even posted, but his website is an IGN article about lift chairs. Really. What.
- Hello very cool site!!! - innottmag is understandably very excited about his first day of spamming.
- Если разрешение 800х600 вас убивает, то можете скачать патч - The amount of Russian spam on this site is very amusing, though if I were at the level at which I could actually read the spam, I'd probably be less amused.
- cerita ngentot menantu - Awww, it seems like grerfergy doesn't have any confidence in his spamming. "delete plz" is right. Oh, don't worry though, Optiomiut's got his back.
- The Adjustments Bureau - What the eff, is that Lord of the Flies in there?[1. Have I mentioned my screenplay about how much I hate Lord of the Flies? :P]It just goes on and on and on and on ad infinitum. As fascinating as this computer to computer interaction is, it's probably not very good for Four Island. First off, I can't start getting linked to by other spammers like in that Amy article waaaay back at the beginning of this post. I might get marked as a spam site on Google and Lord knows that wouldn't be good for my traffic. Second of all, the MySQL database for The Nest is over 360MB. That's several times larger than even Four Island (the blog, the Fourm and the Quotes DB combined) is. The database is so big that if you try to search for anything using the search form (that is supposing that you can manage to come up with terms that aren't deemed "common" by the forum software), you get a long error message saying that the table crashed. Something has to be done.Time to end this. As of now, I've disabled posting (by setting the flood limit time to a very high number) and disabled new user registration. What else I should do is up to TimTam, since it's technically his site. I also don't really want to delete the entire thing because then the links in this post would be broken. So, at least for a little bit longer, The Nest is in limbo. TimTam, it's your call. What should be done about the failed RP-project that hilariously ended up turning into a vibrant spam farm?
Hatkirby on September 22nd, 2011 at 11:54:22am
Well, it's finally here. I'm sure a lot of you weren't convinced that it would ever happen, but here it is. Four Island 3.
For those of you who don't know, Four Island 3 is the third major revision of the Four Island codebase. Basically, I've reimplemented the entire site, a feat I performed once before: Four Island 2. Four Island has been running on the Four Island 2 codebase for quite a while (three years as of this June) and as I've worked on it and modified it over the years, it's become incredibly messy. In fact, I wrote the entire thing back in a time when I may not have had the best knowledge of design patterns anyway. It's been time for a change for quite a while now, and finally, it's happened.
Now it's time for me to bore you.
Four Island 1, or The Original Four Island, was pretty horrific, let me just say. It was 2007, I really didn't have that much experience with website design, the only other real website I had created being The Private Site for my cousins and I. The Original Four Island was a hideous mess of code that somehow fit together and resembled a working website. The very very first revision of the codebase, I literally threw together in a day when I decided I wanted to make a public website. It was a simple blog, and I called it Hatkirby CDI. It was so simple that it didn't even record the dates on which I published posts. Comments, for Pete's sake, were stored in static HTML files. Over the following months, I gradually added more features while also doing my best to make the website less aesthetically hideous. It worked, for a while, but let me tell you that I still have nightmares about that code sometimes. Not really. I do still have the latest revision of it, though. It's quite an interesting piece of history.
Sometime late May, early June of 2008, however, I realized that Four Island simply needed a whole ton of work. Back in that time, I had an obsession with integration. The Four Island blog is my website, but so is the Fourm and the Quotes DB and the wiki--they should all be integrated into one website! A fool's dream. The New Four Island (Four Island 2) came out June 13th 2008 and while the code was a whole lot better than Four Island 1, it wasn't perfect--not by far. I was rather proud of myself for throwing together a rudimentary routing system, but didn't even learn about MVC until quite sometime later. Also, all of the components of Four Island--the blog, the Fourm, the Quotes DB, the wiki...--all of it was merged together into one visually constant website. As I would come to learn later on, this didn't really work too well.
It wasn't really until January of last year that I first voiced my intention to rewrite Four Island again, but it would be a long time (as you can clearly see) until a finished product revealed itself. The first reason is revealed in that same Fourm topic that I just linked to, two posts down, when I say that "any code to be used as a base framework for Four Island must be written by me." I've, for a long time, been incredibly opposed to using any code not written by me (other than phpBB and MediaWiki, of course) on my website, and for what reason? I think it was pride. I think I had pride in being able to completely design and build a website from scratch, but just because you can do something, should you do it? Just because you built your website from scratch, does that make it better than a website running on Wordpress, a community package worked on by tons of people for years in order to get it as perfect as possible? Just because you want people to know you're awesome, you don't have to make yourself suffer. Really, after all of this time, and perhaps with a little growing up, I've realized that the smart thing to do, the reasonable thing to do, is to switch my blog from my own homegrown code to Wordpress. Really, three years ago, what was my biggest argument against Wordpress? It didn't have a pending queue. I don't even use a pending queue anymore, and even if I did think pending queues were a good idea anymore, I'm sure there are plugins available to provide that functionality. Seriously, getting over my obsession with homegrown code was a major breaking point for Four Island. If I hadn't had this breakthrough, we may have never seen Four Island 3, or if it did ever come out, it would suck eggs. I originally planned to rewrite phpBB using Ruby on Rails. Try telling me that's not mentally deranged.
This brings me to my second fault. Integration. I was obsessed with integration. And... why? I haven't a clue. Maybe it was cool or something? Perhaps it was comment lust. I've realized, though, that independent entities with distinct functions work far better than a kludge of several completely different things mashed together in some kind of website facsimile. My blog is my blog, the Fourm is the Fourm and the Quotes DB is the Quotes DB. You shouldn't need to be able to log into my blog with your Fourm account in order to comment. It's simply not necessary. This brings to mind my third problem with the original plan for Four Island 3: absolutely effing insane feature creep. Feast your eyes on the original Four Island 3 specification. Yes, I recognized that my commenting system was terrible, in fact, I blogged about it. That post also contained the idea to not only reform my commenting system, however, but also to create an independent commenting system package like IntenseDebate or DISQUS which, aside from using on Four Island, I could put up for download and let other people use on their sites. I wanted to create a network of users called FourNetwork which would allow you to single-sign-on to any FourNetwork site and comment/post/whatever. It was even supposed to have control of ACLs for each website. I wanted to create a freaking chat system, which would run on an XMPP server configured to recognize FourNetwork accounts, and would also have a Facebook chat-like interface present on Four Island, so any freaking person who visited Four Island could chat with their other Four Island buddies. I'm sorry, but while I would love to have a nice XMPP-based chatting system to use to talk to my friends with (because a few of them still insist on using Facebook instead of Google Chat, and I'm sorry but Facebook really seriously just sucks eggs), it's not at all appropriate to integrate into my personal website which exists for the sole purpose of other people reading it. Did I perhaps think, for a moment, that I was creating a new Facebook? If you haven't already, read the entire specification--some of the things in it are quite hilariously insane. A freaking search engine for Pete's sake--and the sad thing is that I had already implemented it, back in 2009. It just never ended up getting integrated.
So, what, after all of these revelations, did Four Island 3 eventually turn out to be? Not an insane integration-amalgamation of random stuff. Not The One Website with everything you could possibly need in it. No, Four Island 3 is a newer, cleaner and better working version of my personal website, with a Fourm and a Quotes DB, both of which, however, have been separated from the blog. I may eventually, some day, do some of those other things, but most of them probably won't be integrated into Four Island.
FeaturesHere's what you've all been waiting for. What the heck is new in Four Island 3? Well...
- The blog now runs on Wordpress, which means it's much stabler and, well, doesn't suck.
- Commenting is now not something you do as a last resort before your escape pod runs out of oxygen--no, now you no longer need either a Fourm account or a heck-load of patience to comment on my blog. You can either comment anonymously, which is totally awesome and not the huge hassle it used to be, or you can comment using your Facebook, Twitter or OpenID account.
- I may get into a posting groove now that I'm able to use MarsEdit to publish to my blog :P.
- On that note, emoticons now no longer shift blocks of text around with their larger-than-text-height.
- Unlike after the transition from Four Island 1 to Four Island 2, all legacy-style links to posts will be 301 redirected to their new locations. Backlinks, awesome.
- An entirely new theme, which is a modified version of K2. I've also written a whole page about Four Island's themes. As a side note, the Theme Switcher has been abolished.
- Four Island also now resides at www.fourisland.com, breaking my No-WWW vows I took so foolishly, for the sole reason that Bluemonkey gave me in a comment on the post I just linked to. How silly am I? :P
- Ding dong, the witch is dead, which-o-witch, THE BBCODE! Finally, with Wordpress, I've abolished that silly BBCode Four Island's been using since Four Island 2 came out, and possibly even before that. Now, users comment with whitelisted HTML. It's all good. :D
- A mobile layout, for those of you (including me) who like to visit Four Island on his or her superphone. :PThe Fourm
- The Fourm remains mostly the same, though it has been upgraded to phpBB 3.0.9.
- It also features a brand new, beautiful theme, one that was not descended from prosilver and one that does not look horribly like the rest of Four Island.The Quotes Database
- The Quotes DB was rewritten entirely in Ruby on Rails and separated from the Four Island blog.
- Quotes now keep track of how many upvotes and how many downvotes they each received, rather than simply their ratings.
- Quotes can now be tagged.
- Quotes can now have notes attached to them, separating information about the quote from the quote itself.
- You can now, after having voted on a quote, revoke your vote by voting in the opposite direction. For instance, if you upvote a quote and later decide to downvote it, you can downvote it, returning the quote to a non-voted on state, and then downvote it again.
- There's a pretty stats page now.
- You cannot use a Fourm account to bypass moderation when submitting a quote. However, quotes entering moderation are now emailed to me, ensuring that I'll get to them quickly.
- Spam prevention techniques have been put into place for submitting quotes.
- Nonsense, the weird quote generator, has been integrated into the Quotes DB.
- The Quotes DB now resides, as it did in Four Island 1, at quotes.fourisland.com. However, legacy-style links to fourisland.com/quotes/ quotes will 301 redirect to their new locations.
- I've selected an assortment of humorous one-liners from quotes and other Four Islander situations, which I can continue to add to, one of which is randomly displayed at the top of every page in the Quotes DB, along with a citation link (or none if no web source is available).
- An entirely new design, which while looking nothing like the rest of Four Island, was actually adapted from one of the early designs for Layout 8.
- Quote flagging, now that every quote must go through moderation, has been removed.Well, how about it? How excited is everyone? Four Island 2 is behind us, Four Island 3 is a go! Can't wait to enjoy it with all of you by writing posts, communicating on the Fourm and reading quotes. Now, since Four Island 3 just came out, I can't be sure that everything's going to work perfectly. If you find anything that doesn't work as it should, or if you see something that didn't quite survive the upgrade (such as missing pictures from posts), please either email me or comment on this post. I'd love to hear from you!Oh, and, in case you didn't know, happy fourth birthday Four Island. :P
Hatkirby on September 18th, 2011 at 2:13:51pm
Four Island has gone through a variety of design revisions since its creation. Here are a list of them. Note: Not all themes have pictures available. Theme versions prior to Four Island 3 (a.k.a. v6) also have an alternate name, which is listed.
v1 - Hatkirby CDIPublished: ?
Hatkirby CDI was the name of Starla Insigna's website before September 22nd, 2007, when she bought the domain "fourisland.com" and renamed her site to Four Island. She redesigned the site on the same day, creating theme v1.1, but before that, v1 looked very similar to v1.1 except without the background and with solid blocks of different colors as the backgrounds of the header, the main content and the sidebar. No official starting date is available for the same reason that the actual creation date of Insigna's website is not available: she created her blog ~1 week before purchasing "fourisland.com", but did not give her blog the ability to log the publishing dates of posts until October 15th, 2007.
v1.1 - Layout 1
Published: September 22nd, 2007
v1.1 was created after Starla Insigna renamed her website "Four Island" and differs mostly from v1 in that it features a new background portraying Four Island and a four character named Fourie.
v1.2 - Layout 2Published: ?
v1.2 was a minor update to v1.1 that moved the sidebar into a purple CSS float. No starting date is available because, although it has for quite a while been thought of as a major layout update (for some inane reason), its creation was never documented in a blog post.
v2 - Layout 3
Published: December 3rd, 2007
v2 was the first theme version to utilize a navbar under the header instead of a sidebar like v1 had. It was also the first theme version to not use the entire width of the browser window and instead show its contents in a center-aligned width-restricted column.
v3 - Layout 4
v3 was Insigna's attempt at a more professional looking website. It uses several concepts from the design of phpbb.com.
v3.1 - Layout 5Published: May 15th, 2008
v3.1 was a failed attempt at a minor update to v3. It looked almost exactly like v3, except the column was left-aligned and designed to look slightly like a notebook. It was disliked by most Four Island regulars and broke in most browsers/screen resolutions. Four Island reverted to v3 after only eight days.
v3.2 - Layout 4.5
Published: June 12th, 2008
v3.2 came out with Four Island 2, the first complete rewrite of the Four Island codebase. It therefore differs greatly from v3, not in design but more in organization. It also introduced the round-blue-bubble motif that would stick to Four Island for quite a while.
v4 - Layout 6[gallery include="3584,3585" columns="2" size="medium" link="file"] Published: November 22nd, 2008 (beta); November 30th, 2008 (final)
v4 was created after Insigna started to get bored of v3.2--however, she didn't think things through carefully enough and ended up publishing a not yet completed theme on November 22nd, 2008. She continued to work on it the following week and published the completed theme on November 30th, 2008. However, due to complications, Insigna got the idea that v4 was not being well received and thinking v4 was receiving the same fate as v3.1, reverted to v3.2 on December 6th, 2008, only to bring v4 back later that day when she was told otherwise. It is the first theme version to have a sidebar on the left instead of the right. The v4 beta was the first theme version to not include the island backgrounds which had been present since v1.1; they were, however, added back in v4 final.
v4.1 - Layout 6.1
Published: January 1st, 2009
v4.1 was the first minor update to v4, and, responding to user feedback that the text could be hard to read, it encapsulated the content column with a border and a background, like v3 had.
v4.2 - Layout 6.2
Published: February 4th, 2009
v4.2 was another minor update to v4, this time adding semi-transparent backgrounds to the main content column making it easier to read the main content while still keeping the artistic backgrounds visible.
v5 - Layout 7
After almost a year of v4, Insigna began to tire of the theme and wanted a newer, more professional, and less ugly theme for Four Island. v5 is the first theme since v1.2 to use the entire width of the browser window instead of a fluid width centered column. It also acknowledges user complaints that the sidebar was too long by moving several sidebar modules into the footer. v5 also brought with it the AJAXification of many processes on the site such as commenting, rating and voting on quotes.
Published: September 22nd, 2011
Four Island 3 was released on September 22nd, 2011, after more than two years of v5 and more than three years of Four Island 2. The Four Island blog was switched to the Wordpress engine with Four Island 3 and underwent a large number of changes. v6 is a largely modified version of the Wordpress theme K2.
Published: December 23rd, 2012
While looking somewhat similar to v6, v7 was in fact written from scratch. It brings the sidebar back into the main column and all links are now red.
Hatkirby on September 3rd, 2011 at 7:50:29pm
So, as you may have noticed, Four Island was just down for about a week. Nearly. Well, you may have not in fact noticed this because you may have instead noticed that I haven't posted for about four months. Yikes. I have some weak, barely feasible excuses that I will talk about later, but I first want to talk about Four Island's recent downtime.
As you may know, Hurricane Irene recently hit New York, bringing with it a huge reaction of "WHAT THE FRUGALITY IS GOING ON I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS AND THAT MAKES ME ANGRY" from virulent New Yorkers who have never seen a hurricane before and really just wanted something to overreact about. Sure, if you add the earthquake a couple of weeks ago, we have been experiencing some natural phenomena that we aren't really used to as East Coasters, but Irene was just downright exploitable. I'm getting kind of sick of the "HURT BY IRENE? WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK--AND YOUR TORSO TOO! LOL" commercials all over the radio. Oh, and I don't care that Irene was only a category 1 tropical storm by the time it reached New York, it has an official name. That name is Hurricane Irene. Stop trying to be so smart.
Irene did have quite an impact on Four Island, anyway, as it caused a record number of power outages across Long Island. Yeah, we were all quite angry at LIPA. I've never been in a power outage longer than a day before and this was pretty ridiculous, especially considering LIPA completely refused to give out any information to anyone. I walked down the street I live on (since by the third day, everyone around us (we live on a corner) had regained power and it was pretty much just our street that was still out) and saw a broken box with severed wires hanging from the power line and took a picture of it, as can be seen to the right, but apparently that can't possibly cause a power outage. :| The actual problem was a whole bunch of fallen power lines down at the end of the street, but still. At least power has finally been restored.
Now, on a completely different subject, as an official iOS developer (check out the business my friends and I set up! Apathetic Ink), I have access to some neat prerelease stuff. This includes iOS 5 beta, which has been tempting me for a while and god I just have to try it out. My dilemma? No untethered jailbreak. I wasn't really sure if I would be cool with a tethered jailbreak, but I eventually figured that the main and almost only reason I jailbreak is for scrobbling, right? Well, if I tethered jailbreak, it's A) unlikely that I'll ever really be more than a day away from my computer, so I'll always be able to rejailbreak pretty quickly and B) I could find some ugly app on the App Store that scrobbled in the foreground and use that when I lost my jailbreak. Sounds okay, right? Besides, iOS 5 just sounded so great and I had to have it.
Well, how did it go? Well, first of all, iOS 5 is just amazing. Can't wait until Apple releases it, hoping they first polish some stuff up. Notification Center? Freaking amazing. I love you, I love you Notification Center! iMessage, too, is amazing and makes me wonder why I even installed WhatsApp. Syncing in the background, though I already had that functionality through my jailbreak, is another great feature and all the other little features Apple has sprinkled over this update really just... make it difficult for me to go back to 4.3. Why would I do that? Well, remember when I said I would only have a tethered jailbreak? Yeah, barely. Somehow, before upgrading to iOS 5 (perhaps because I hadn't read it yet), I missed this paragraph in the text about redsn0w for iOS 5 beta:
THIS JAILBREAK IS INTENDED ONLY FOR DEVELOPERS OF JAILBROKEN APPS! There are just too many broken components (Apple’s official apps, 3rd-party App Store apps, Cydia apps, MobileSubstrate apps, etc) for this to be useful to anyone but those truly looking to fix bugs in their iOS 5 jailbroken apps. (Seriously!)
There was one app, ONLY ONE APP that I needed to work on jailbroken iOS 5... and Scrobbl disappointed. Gah. I tried to find some way to survive; I downloaded iScrob from the App Store, and as you can see to the left, it is rather ugly. Sorry developer. Sitting here, listening to Adele (darn this is catchy), I decided I really was not very happy with it, and I was especially not very happy with having to break away from the official Music app. I'm fairly sure now that after I'm done writing this post, I'm going to restore to iOS 4.3.3. Thank god for SHSHes.
Apple, please listen to me: INTEGRATE LAST.FM INTO iOS. You integrated Twitter, why not last.fm? Spotify has it, please join the party. You would make a lot of people very happy and I probably wouldn't even jailbreak if I could scrobble songs from the official Music app.
Now, finally, I'm going to talk a little about Four Island 3. I've been mentioning the new version of my website for quite a while now and while I don't want to get any hopes up, it may be coming out fairly soon. As soon as I get a good upgrade plan down (god I'm busy), it should be good to go. The reasons I haven't really been posting lately are A) April-June was an ehh time for me and posting wasn't really my first priority and B) once I finally had some free time around August, I decided I didn't want to post until Four Island 3 came out. Then, Irene and iOS 5 happened and I realized that, ugly as my website is at the moment, I really want to write stuff and have other people read it. I'm really hoping, though, that I'll get around to releasing Four Island 3 soon because it will be great and awesome. Expect a massive post explaining a whole ton of superfluous stuff when it gets released. :P
Hatkirby on April 20th, 2011 at 8:32:35pm
As a potentially insane individual, I obsess quite a bit over music. I'm sure others can empathize, right? Well, aside from the need to scrobble absolutely EVERYTHING I listen to, one thing that annoys me is the decision "Where should I listen to my music? With iTunes or on my iPhone?" There are advantages in both directions: on iTunes, my Adium buddies get bombarded with my "listening to"s and I can easily open the lyrics for a playing song by going up to Audioscrobbler.app in the menu bar and clicking "Lyrics". However, the iPhone has the advantage of allowing you to get up and dance like an idiot while listening to music. Also, what if you started listening to a song and then saw a sock on the floor? MUST. PUT. IN LAUNDRY. Except, you just started listening to a song! Now you've got to either wait until it's over or pause it! Inconceivable! Plus, with iTunes, I sometimes get halfway through Мальчик гей before I remember that Audioscrobbler.app sucks with Unicode and the scream of scrobble-denial is heard down the street.
There is a solution, though, and it randomly appeared in my news feed about an hour ago! An iPhone/Mac app pair called "Seamless"! Seamless allows you to seamless transition from listening to a song on your iPhone to listening to it on your Mac, or vice versa. LOLOMGIWANT. The Mac app is free and the iPhone app costs $0.99, so it won't break the bank, and if you are crazy/have experienced the delusional problems listed above, this app is a must! "It saved my life!" claims random testimonial zombie one. "I won't listen to another song without it!" barks random testimonial zombie two. You've heard the people, this app pair is awesome!
You set it up by downloading both apps and then launching the Mac app. Then, you go to the iPhone app and tap "Add a Mac". It'll detect your Mac (as long as the iPhone and Mac are in the same network) and once you tap on it, your Mac will ask you if it's okay to associate with the iPhone. Click "Allow", and you're done! Now, the next time you start listening to Russian music with iTunes and you realize your mistake before the song finishes, you can just open up Seamless on your iPhone and tap "Transition Music from Mac"! HORRAY, SCROBBLING.
Okay, I understand that my warped ideals do not necessarily reflect those of everyone else (Я сошла с ума!) but there are uses of this app for other people too! The aforementioned ones, or the ones on the app's website! Oh, just go to the website and watch the author's video. Trust me, this is awesome. :D
Seamless | Five Details
Hatkirby on April 1st, 2011 at 8:15:32pm
Hello, everyone! It is I, your non-humble new leader, Rebecca Black! I was just on my way to Space Costco when I spotted a strange, four-shaped island in the middle of the Pacific that hadn't yet fallen to my Hypnotic Powers Of Tween Decisions Related To Which Seat I Should Take In A Vehicle Driven By A Likely Evictable Xenophobe Which Continues To Prove That I Should Be Buckled Up Because I Could Die So Much More Easily And No One Wants That, Amrite? (or HPOTDRTWSISTIAVDBALEXWCTPTISBBUBICDSMMEANOWTA, for short). I landed my RebeccaShip (made from the enslaved remains of Thursday and Sunday) and contacted the local Rebecca Black Fan (every country needs to have one!). Luckily, the silly human was also the ruler of the island and she handed over the power to me after only 45 autographs.
There have been some changes made around here recently, and I'm sure you'll all agree that they're for the better. First of all, I gave this hideous website quite a facelift, funrite?
I've also instituted a few new FRIDAY!~!!!!!11!!rules that take effect immediately.
- No Monday. No exceptions. Our death squads are working on making this impossible.
- FUN FUN FUN FUN.
- From now on, whenever you're going to post something on the Fridaym, you must prefix your text with the following disclaimer:
Rebecca Black Is The One. She Sings Good Songs And Has Nice Hair. Let Us All Dance Circles Around A Gyroscope While Our Death Squads Eviscerate The Monday. Afun. 4. Sparly, my pet Friday, must be fed daily. He likes to eat Apple products. I expect the people of Four Island to pitch together to pay for Sparly's iFood. 5. All quotes have been changed to reflect that fact that I am the only person whose autotuned voice is worth listening to. For instance:
Rebecca Black: I'm afraid Drifty will laugh at me if Friday starts appearing on my last.fm Rebecca Black: lol Rebecca Black: Hey—the version I bought doesn't have the rapper in it! Rebecca Black: That actually made the song better! Rebecca Black: did you just say... bought? Rebecca Black: DON'T JUDGE ME Rebecca Black: lols Rebecca Black: lol
- Everyone who isn't, must, and also should always, because without doing, it's just as not much fun. And the fun is the most important part.
- All cars must have a front and back seat. Possibly even a side seat. No exceptions. On an unrelated note, I've placed resident Tamesis Gethin under double-FRIDAY!!@11~11-house arrest.
- Anyone caught listening to anything other than their required 24-Friday listens-a-day will be made into iFood for Sparly.
- There must be at least three pedophiliac rappers in every city of Four Island. This will surely increase the FUN to near FUN FUN levels.
I hope everyone enjoys living under my new Friocracy! These rules will most definitely increase the number of four-seater cars around and science has shown that more four-seater cars means more people driving four-seater cars and more people to pass four-seater cars down to their underage, possibly xenophobic kids. Which means more making out in back seats. And more head-on collisions in front seats. This place is going to be awesome. Rebecca Out!
FUN FUN FUN FUN
Hatkirby on March 13th, 2011 at 12:31:50pm
Dear God, it's me. I haven't posted in quite a while. Sorry, I've been busy with stuff and not busy with stuff and this apology is going nowhere because it isn't happening. Well. First of all, I've failed an annual goal and haven't posted in more than a month. I think that I have a ton of stuff going on right now and I'll try to post when I can, but it won't always be possible. Second, I'm doing a musical review! I haven't done one of these in a while and I usually sucked at it, but hopefully this time is different. Today, I'm reviewing the album Far by Regina Spektor, who just recently became my official favorite artist. :D Nowai.
Now, usually what I do is I create a list of the tracks on the album and review them individually. Well, that's what I'm going to do this time as well. Hopefully it works. :P Here goes:
- The Calculation - One of the most upbeat songs on the album. It's really quite catchy, especially the chorus (Hey, this fire, it's burnin', burnin' us up), but you get a little tired of it after a while. 3 stars
- Eet - A really quite beautiful song about comparing a breakup to forgetting the words to your favorite song. It's quite piano-y, but it's not really a ballad; it's more of a pop song in that it's also really catchy, and not just beautiful. 4 stars
- Blue Lips - A similar type of song as Eet, but even more beautiful. The verses are powerful and dance-y, and then the piano comes crashing and into introduces us into the quiet, simple chorus, before jumping back into verse. The best part is the bridge, which is pretty fast-paced and awesome. 5 stars
- Folding Chair - Another upbeat song, but this one is catchier than The Calculation and doesn't get too boring. There's not too much else to say about it. 4 stars
- Machine - This is fantastic. A song about a futuristic world where people and machines have merged. The verses are metered and beautiful and then Spektor dives into the chorus which sounds like nothing you'd expect from her, with her practically yelling "HOOKED INTO MACHINE." I also quite love the verse/outro after the final chorus (Everything's provided / Consummate consumer / Part of worldly takings / Apart from worldly troubles...). It's just such an unexpected song and I love it so. My favorite on the album. 5 stars
- Laughing With - A slow, piano-y song about God and peoples' interpretations of God, like those who say that he "hates us" and those who expect God to just do stuff for them "like a genie who does magic like Houdini." It's quite a beautiful song and it does eventually get stuck in your head. 4 stars
- Human Of The Year - This a weird song about someone who receives an award "that obviously doesn't exist," according to Spektor. It's quite slow, with the chorus randomly bursting in with an enthusiastic "You've won!" The best part, however, is the bridge, which is perfectly metered and upbeat (Outside, the cars are beeping out a song just in your honor...). The rest of the song isn't too difficult to bear and I think it's worth it because of the great bridge. 4 stars
- Two Birds - An incredibly upbeat song that nevertheless actually has a sad meaning, as it's (probably) about two people who are in a relationship, with one having commitment issues or something. The verses are fast and upbeat, and the choruses are slow and beautiful (I'll believe it all / There's nothing I won't understand / I'll believe it all / I won't let go of your hand). 5 stars
- Dance Anthem of the 80's - Yes, I'm fully aware that should be "80s", without an apostrophe, but that's just how the song is titled, okay? It's an incredibly upbeat song about more sad stuff, which apparently includes prostitution, heroin and physical abuse. The bridge is just so beautiful, though, as it takes a break from the fast beat of the rest of the song and switches to a softer, quieter melody (I went walking through the city, like a drunk but not) before exploding into a passionate mixture of intense piano, quick lyrics and the harmonization with a vocoder. It's incredibly intense. My other favorite song on the album. 5 stars
- Genius Next Door - A song about masturbating in a lake and then committing suicide. Not even joking. It's really quite a sad song and it's actually just too slow for my taste. 1 star
- Wallet - A song about finding a lost wallet and then returning it. It's kind of catchy, but sounds a bit too thrown together for my taste. 2 stars
- One More Time With Feeling - A slow song with a moderately catchy chorus that's sadly not catchy enough for me to want to endure the verses for it. 2 stars
- Man Of A Thousand Faces - Spektor ends off the album with a really beautiful piano piece about a man with multiple personality disorder. The unwavering piano melody in the background is just great and the entire song, really, is singable. 4 stars
I don't think that was too horrible, now, was it? Totaling the scores together, however, reveals a 3.7 out of 5 stars. Ooooh, that's not too good. I think the disappointing few songs after Dance Anthem of the 80's really killed the average. Well, that's Regina Spektor. A very awesome artist. I may eventually do another Regina Spektor review, of her album "Begin To Hope", which is actually one of my favorite albums of all time from any artist. Also, if anyone reads this and then listens to Far (or listened to Far before reading this), comment and tell me if you agree with my opinions of the songs! Starla, away! flies away
Hatkirby on February 6th, 2011 at 2:23:07pm
Hi! Guess what came out a few days ago! The long-awaited iOS 4.2.1 jailbreak! Horray! At least, that's what I was thinking, having been stuck on iOS 4.1 for months. I eagerly downloaded Greenpois0n RC5 and tried to jailbreak. This was my horrific experience:
- First, I downloaded Greenpois0n RC5. Not as simple as you would think because so many other people were trying the same exact thing. I finally managed to get it off a mirror, though.
- Second, I upgraded my iPhone to iOS 4.2.1. It took quite a while and when it finished, it popped up with Error 1013 (or something like that) and demanded that I restore my iPhone to factory settings. I would rather not.
- Going out on a limb, I tried using RecBoot to kick my iPhone out of recovery mode and, what do you know, it worked! I later discovered that Error 1013 was a result of having Cydia's TSS server in my /etc/hosts file and that practically everybody knew to use RecBoot at that point. :P
- Now for the exciting part: untethered jailbreak. I ran Greenpois0n and... nothing happened. Greenpois0n said "Complete :)", but when my phone finished restarting, I could tell that clearly, nothing had happened. Wow. After a few more attempts with nothing happening, I gave up.
- Still needing a jailbreak, though, I downloaded redsn0w and an ISPW file.
- Then, I gained a tethered jailbreak using redsn0w. I was excited to see that, even though I had to reinstall all of my Cydia apps, all of my settings were still there.
- Upset that I was tethered and slightly regretting upgrading at all, I tried to get an untethered jailbreak again and re-ran Greenpois0n. This time, instead of just failing like usual, it got my iPhone stuck in the Apple Logo Boot Cycle Of Death. You know, when the phone starts booting and then restarts over and over again?
- Guess what the only solution to that is? Restore your iPhone. Great. Just great. I avoided having to do it before and now I'm ending up doing it anyway.
- I waited like a half an hour for it to finish and you know what happens next? Error 1013. (Or something like that). So, I blanked my iPhone and it was still stuck in the boot cycle. I did some research and discovered the cause of the error was the entry in the hosts file, so I removed the entry and restored again.
- Okay, better; it worked that time. Good thing I had a backup of my device from before I jailbroke, otherwise I would've been very annoyed at that point. Restoring from the backup also took a bit of time
- Then, I had to sync all of my media. Goodness, that took a long time.
- Finally, I was back to the point I was at during step 4, but this time, there was a new version of Greenpois0n to try: Greenpois0n RC5 v2. So, I tried to jailbreak and this time, instead of silently failing, it said "Failed :(". Wow, that's so much better.
- I decided to get serious and took a peek at the logs. They were filled with libusb errors and such, so I did some research and downloaded the newest version of libusb from MacPorts.
- Did that do anything? Nope. Very annoyed at this point, I opened my Twitter client and saw that some people suggested running the actual binary (instead of the bundle) from the Terminal as an administrator.
- ohmygoditworked. :D Finally, after a whole ton my time was wasted, I got my untethered jailbreak back. Except, I didn't have Cydia yet. And the Loader.app wasn't working.
- Not a problem, though, because I had previously read that the strain put on Greenpois0n's servers had stopped Loader.app from working and that you could instead install Cydia using redsn0w without breaking your untethered jailbreak, so I loaded up redsn0w again and installed Cydia.
- Horray! Now, I just had to reinstall all of my apps (thankfully, the configuration was all still there, probably thanks to my backup) and I could finally listen to music on my iPhone again! You know, because I'm a last.fm nut and I can't listen to any music if it won't get scrobbled. :P
Upgrading to 4.2.1 certainly was an ordeal, but was it worth it? Well, so far as I can currently tell, not really. Well, sort of. I set up Find My iPhone and am very happy with it, though I think it's a bit unlikely that I'll lose my iPhone. You never know, though, right? Besides that, well, though I am very excited to have AirPrint, I'm not sure when I'll ever use it. Ditto to AirPlay, seeing as we don't actually have any AirPlay speakers and I would rather have an iTunes instance controlling AirPlay speakers. Also, I hate the new Voice Memos icon. Whatever; I guess it just best to always have the latest software.
Have you had any horrific jailbreaking experiences? Do you want to jailbreak and now can because of Greenpois0n RC5? Do you want a burrito? Leave a comment and I'll consider taping it to my fridge!
Hatkirby on January 30th, 2011 at 6:07:19pm
This is a problem. It's seriously a factor in why I don't post so very frequently. My website just really looks terrible. I want my website to look smooth, simple and easy to read. Instead, it looks like this:
Not only does it look bad, but its internals suck too. Why is three-year old PHP code from a time when I thought MVC and <!DOCTYPE> tags were bad running my website?
Four Island 3.
It's a comin'.