Skip to main content Relaunching After a Decade

· 11 min read
Software Developer @ TuSimple
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This article was translated by ChatGPT automatically, with minor manual corrections.

For the past decade, the homepage of has always featured the following text:

Since my DreamHost hosting is out-of-date, I moved to Linode VPS. However it will take a period of time to write a new blog application and import old data. Please be patient, will come back!

Of course, there's also the bit that was added later:

Well, it's not back yet. I'm not sure when it will be back although the main part of the blog app is finished.

To be honest, I never had a clear plan for the website's relaunch. So, when it finally was about to go live again, I found myself at a loss for what to write. After all, the relaunch, much like the initial downtime, came unexpectedly.

Having not produced any new content for a long time, naturally, I want my first piece of writing upon returning to be something comfortable. So why not start with something I’m clearly familiar with—the time around the website’s shutdown ten years ago.

Web 2.0 and Weblog

Despite beginning our conversation ten years ago, we have even more history to cover. Thirty years ago, the concept of blogs, a new form of internet-based information, began to emerge.

According to the records (A Chronology of Blogs), the earliest blog-like website appeared around 1993, and the word "weblog" was first documented in use in 1997. People weren't as fancy with words back then; a "web-based diary" was simply referred to as a weblog, a fusion of "web" + "log". By contrast, the term "VLOG" seems perplexing—when I first encountered this concept, the only time I'd seen VLOG() was in programming code.

It must be said, perhaps thanks to these "unfancy" internet users, the online environment then wasn't as intense as it is today. Most people started engaging with the internet by discovering blogs, realizing that they could not only consume information online but also share their knowledge and insights as producers of content.

And the simple ethos of the populace naturally brought a wholesome community spirit. The prevailing environment was one of expressing ourselves freely and embracing diversity, where both the technically capable blog builders and the forum lurkers had a strong desire to share. Though Blogger was not available in China for various reasons, domestic companies quickly noticed this vast market opportunity.

From the early Sohu and Sina blogs to later ones like Baidu Space, Hexun blogs, and less frequently used services like blogbus or standalone blogging programs and 72pines for website building—they all, without exception, like the burst of microblogging services that sprang up later (what is now referred to as weiblogs or Weibo, the latter term having been appropriated by Sina Weibo, which sounds weird to me so I'll keep calling it "microblog"), tried to capture the market with diverse specialty services. The competition in the international market was even fiercer; I remember Microsoft having not only traditional blog service MSN Spaces but also another community-like platform using their Silverlight technology, which if it had VR and AI, might just be today's metaverse.

Today's 72pines

The reason I mention 72pines, which is probably unheard of, is that I genuinely used it—at some point when I organizing old articles from the previous version of, I stumbled upon my old 72pines link and discovered the domain had turned into a gambling website. A true sigh of the times.

In that era when everyone was chanting Web 2.0 but no one really knew what it was, these services managed to last a surprisingly long time.

Not a Beginning, But an End

Around 2005, I was still a high school student, happily shifting between different services and occasionally publishing blog articles to compare different providers' services. One day, by some twist of fate, I came across sofish's personal blog—an elegant WordPress setup where, as a front-end developer, he enjoyed sharing site-building tips and WordPress theme modifications.

sofish's blog

Unfortunately, his blog is also no longer maintained, and visiting it now only reveals a line of text with a typo—"hi their".

It was around this time that I, who had only ever written command-line programs for computer contests, learned about what front-end and back-end development is, about CSS, and about VPS and WordPress. Trust me, if these terms sound foreign to you now, I was just as clueless back then.

Not long after, in 2008, I got admitted to university a year early thanks to computer contests. This meant I had no academic responsibilities for my entire senior year. A year of senior high isn't particularly long or short, but I had to keep myself busy with something—so naturally, I set my sights on independent web building.

In short, after some learning, I chose Dreamhost as my VPS provider, WordPress as my blogging platform, and registered the domain name After a brief period of tweaking, officially went live. Before this, I mainly used Baidu Space for blogging, but from 2008 onward, most of my blogs were published on this WordPress site.

PHP wasn't the best language yet?

A fun fact: Like most complex web applications of the time, WordPress was developed in PHP. If memory serves, PHP and ASP were the front runners in dynamic languages (ASP not as much, considering the expense on Windows servers), AJAX had just become popular, and "PHP is the best language" wasn't yet a meme.

But it was at this time, around 2006, that Twitter emerged and slowly rose to fame. Fanfou, the microblogging platform, had begun its beta, and these microblogging services achieved an unexpected effect by limiting the number of characters per tweet: People found that producing information became even more effortless. Unlike blogs where no one could write lengthy essays due to character limits—ensuring even less proficient writers could contribute—their rise was imminent. From terms like "microblog" or "Weibo" (sounds strange after Sina Weibo claimed it, hence I refer to it as "microblog"), it's clear that blogs still had competitive strength in China at that time, even as the new platforms leveraged their names.

The forgotten Fanfou

Surprisingly, Fanfou is still operating to this day. This is my Fanfou profile, though I hardly use it now.

However, by 2009, I entered university, and those four years of college life were richer than imagined. I went on long-distance trips for the first time, played sports daily, hung around in research labs, delved into anime culture, created music with VOCALOID, and despite a consistent blog output, I could sense that my writing became more focused on everyday life.

Of course, I also tried some intriguing things, like puzzle games based on PHP web (I didn’t even know about CTF back then), things like "three-word stories" for those familiar with "Literature Girl", and a few articles popularizing my field of study.

This period of blogging allowed me to make many good friends and even land opportunities to write for paid platforms like Guokr. But as university ended, and work began, the rhythm of life seemed instantly disrupted. To say it was disrupted may not be entirely accurate—it felt more like life was being constrained within a framework: Daily activities fell into a predictable pattern, and tasks became monotonously repetitive.

From the time I graduated in 2013, whether it was updating my blog, producing VOCALOID music, or even my leisure sports activities, it felt like everything had come to a halt. Although the job was decent, the salary quite high for a fresh graduate, and the workplace being Microsoft, known for its work-life balance, I felt that I was gradually losing the "life" part of that equation.


Speaking of VOCALOID, I did invest a lot of time back then, starting from scratch with no music theory background and slowly exploring, much like my initial foray into site building—these things always have an irresistible allure to me.

You can listen to my VOCALOID works from that period, limited in proficiency, but also a part of my memories, feel free to check it out.

In 2014, my blog was first suspended by Dreamhost due to an excessive amount of spam comments, followed by my neglect to renew the expired Dreamhost service. Overnight, the blog application I had maintained for years was gone.

After careful consideration, I decided to temporarily transfer my server to Linode, which was then in its heyday, and hang a static HTML page with the two paragraphs mentioned at the beginning of this article—I didn't even bother to style the page with CSS.

At that time, I was newly introduced to back-end architectures like MVC/MVP/MVVM, briefly learned Django, and had thoughts of writing my own blog application. Honestly, the blog application was already 80% complete: The blog posting and commenting systems were done, and the user registration system was mostly functional; the repository is still in my private GitHub repo. However, I suddenly realized I had no knowledge of front-end development or CSS nor any artistic sense—the webpage looked terrible, and front-end maintenance was a nightmare.

This was the dilemma: Continuing meant producing something of unsatisfactory quality, unfit compared to WordPress; but opting for WordPress felt unrewarding, already trampled ground, and my blogging motivation had waned. Returning sometime later, I found the Django framework had updated to a major new version, requiring substantial code edits, making restarting its maintenance even more daunting.

Little did I know, this unborn project was the conclusion of an era, an intermission that would last nearly ten years.

And that decade marked the twilight of the blogging era.

The Twilight Years of Blogging

A notable but not quite significant event occurred on August 14, 2009: Sina Weibo began its beta (info source: Wikipedia - Sina Weibo). In the same year, Fanfou, the vanguard of domestic microblogs, faced a substantial suspension in the second half of 2009 and wasn't lifted until late 2010. During the first half of 2010, Fanfou's founder Wang Xing had already decided to venture into a new business, now the giant Meituan.

Regardless of its connection to Fanfou's ban, what is certain is that domestic tech giants began their foray into the microblogging business in late 2009. NetEase, Tencent, and Sohu launched their microblog services, with Sina Weibo evolving most rapidly. Eventually, its competitors fell by the wayside, Fanfou never recovered, and even Sina Weibo trademarked “Weibo,” becoming the de facto Chinese Twitter substitute.

Previously dominant blog domains were battered by "accessible to everyone" and "strong social attributes" microblogs. Writing blog articles required literary skills, and building a reader base demanded consistent output and reputation—a far cry from microblogs that could reach hundreds or thousands with a few hundred words.

In my view, the rise of microblogs shares the same essence with today's profitable media—they effectively capture user attention and translate it into revenue.

For profit motives, blogs are a project with a terribly low input-to-output ratio. Bloggers spend an immense amount of time writing, often requiring multiple times that for knowledge accumulation. Blog length limits audience size, needing significant reader time investment, despite supports like RSS, and early blogs struggled to accommodate growing fragmented reading habits. In short, despite the buzz, blogs were a niche from start to finish. In the accelerating pace of modern life, people's attitudes towards blogs resemble that of news—consider traditional media's state today, and blogs' decline seems less peculiar.

The nature of the rise of microblogs and subsequent media is well understood by modern netizens, so I'll not dwell on it. But not long afterwards, in 2012, Baidu Space shifted to become a "light blog" (info source: Wikipedia - Baidu Space). "Light blog" was rather a term referenced from a foreign product—Tumblr, also known as "汤不热" in Chinese.

However, even Tumblr struggled to operate without support from adult content markets in recent years. Chinese content creations grew increasingly rigid post-2009, leaving Baidu Space's shift a reluctant necessity, but it still failed to retain its dwindling user base. Finally, on May 7, 2015, Baidu Space officially shut down.

I remember this date clearly because it happens to be my birthday. If it were the old me, I would've penned a lengthy blog post to commemorate the closure of a long-used service.

I don’t recall whether I wrote a short remark to reflect on the turning of the tides, but I am sure I did not produce what could be called an "article." Perhaps this Baidu Space Article Comment Extraction Tool is the last act of defiance from that time.

In the subsequent period, blogs disappeared as quickly as microblogs had risen. As if overnight, most blogroll links became inaccessible, or at least weren't updated once over the course of a year. Perhaps we should have realized the times were changing when Google Reader announced its permanent shutdown in 2013.

Technological Explosion and Over-Engineering

The advent of the mobile internet era accelerated the turnover of network service providers. More people began to realize that no so-called "big company" was reliable; storing data with others is precarious, service shutdowns mean high data migration costs, and potential data loss.

The tech circle of these years has been consistently explosive.

GitHub, alongside Git, owns half of the open-source domain. SVN faded, and Git's primary advantage of being "distributed" means code exists in countless backups on one's own devices and across community corners.

Chrome won the browser war against IE/Firefox/Opera with the V8 engine not only standardizing the browser’s engine, but enabling JavaScript to transcend as not merely a front-end language, blurring the lines between front and back ends.

People realized—hosting data on GitHub, rendering static pages in Markdown, serving static pages—wasn't this the ideal form of a blog?

Even the thorniest comment system found solutions, starting with various JavaScript-based dynamic comment plugins to later using GitHub as a database substitute (I now use giscus as such a tool). Eventually, everyone could breathe easy—keeping data in hand, depending only on a stable, open-interface service like GitHub, is far better than relying on an unpredictable service provider.

During this time, blog applications mostly evolved in this direction. Aside from WordPress, which remained unrivaled in the CMS field (really?), personal blog building shifted towards static generator tools like Hexo/Hugo.

But for me at the time, even these tools were more monotonous than setting up a WordPress, clearly lacking the motivation to explore them.

Encounter with Opera

Speaking of Opera, they were in the office below us when I first arrived in Tucson in 2017.

Not long after, perhaps due to downsizing, they moved elsewhere. Our team was still expanding and naturally took over their office.

What stuck with me was the Opera logo still adorned the bathroom on that floor.

And the technology boom didn't cease. Gradually exposed to more front-end knowledge at work, I discovered frameworks like Vue/React and technologies like Webpack.

Essentially, these provided a wealth of tools for developers to abstract and easily reuse components while transforming traditional AJAX interaction APIs into a "subscription" model. Undeniably, they propelled front-end development. By heavily abstracting, they freed front-end developers from low-level logic, shifting focus to reasonable abstract architectures, implementing fancier features, and more.

I've witnessed dissenting opinions believing the software industry suffers from excessive abstraction, making it increasingly difficult to grasp underlying principles. Personally, I believe these technologies are essential for developing larger, more complex tools. There may come a day when these abstractions render software complexity unmanageable—perhaps even now. Still, even then, the edifice of software engineering won't collapse overnight. People will learn to scale back project sizes, control complexities, and perhaps new technologies will emerge to address these issues, just as they arose to begin with.

After all, perhaps the fate of every person, community, even human civilization, is to return to simplicity.

Returning to Simplicity

My current blog setup involves the React-based Docusaurus framework, deployment via function-compute technology on Cloudflare Pages, comments facilitated by GitHub Discussions-based giscus, content and development assistance by GitHub Copilot, and even an initial logo generated by Midjourney.

These technologies indeed simplify the blog system construction. But upon reflection, without these, would I truly be incapable of creating a blog?

Perhaps the real reason for rebooting the blog goes beyond technology—it's having something to say again. To put it grandly, it's following the original aspiration.

Over the years, I've pondered the essence of life. Even after so much time, perhaps the answer remains unchanged: Doing what I desire constitutes my life.

Yet, this answer has evolved distinctly from its past interpretation. Previously, I might have questioned the correctness of this reply, felt lost, anxious, afraid. Presented with myriad choices, I was indecisive. Now, confronted with the same answer, I'd say: Don't overthink it, just do it.

Maybe life's true meaning is about boldly making choices, diving in with time and passion, and then returning to that initial self—fully and fervently affirmed.

Just like the line written on my blog's homepage:

Change is a part of life and takes part in finding us who we are.

Years ago, the phrase I referred to more often contained "making" instead of "finding". I used to wonder what the original line was and which was accurate.

Now, I'm sure: The me today is the one I've found after these many years, and I can proudly say that I haven't been molded by life into something else.


I started writing after work and finally finished before going to sleep, managing to get it all out in one go.

Even towards the end, my keyboard's 'I' and 'O' keys began to fail. Since it's my first blog entry in a long while, a broken keyboard seems worth it (though I'll still claim the warranty—recently, my router and keyboard have successively broken down, damn Asus!).

I might consider migrating some of my previous posts and updating the blog to add a Telegram bot alert for new posts. Although past writings may be somewhat embarrassing, they are a part of the past—best to return them to the Internet before they're lost for good.

Before then, if you want to keep up with updates, consider subscribing via RSS at the top, though hardly anyone uses it these days. And if you wish to comment, you'll need a GitHub account—it's challenging to survive moderation, so let's make do, considering anyone reading this article probably knows how to use proxies or VPNs.

Take it slow, take it slow.