“Now living in Taipei”

One of the most-asked questions I hear is why this site prominently states I am now living in Taipei, when I am actually living in Beijing. The answer is, I can’t get rid of the artwork up above. This site’s designer has all the artwork and she appears to have vaporized. Not only that, but she vaporized with $600 I paid her 18 months ago to overhaul the site and get rid of that Taipei balloon and make trackbacks functional, etc. She kept promising me she was working on it, and month after months she said she was almost ready. Then she stopped responding to my emails, and finally she replied telling me she may never finish it but would not send back the money. Based on the tone of this email, I could tell something was a bit off, i.e., she was bipolar or something. She has my sympathy, and my money. And I’m stuck with this site template.

Which all leads me to one question: Should I get rid of this template and do away with a design that one reader told me had become “an icon” (whatever that means)? I either scrap the whole thing or keep what’s there despite its dysfunctionality. Tough call to make after nearly five years with the same design, like giving up your well-established brand.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

It’s a cute design. It wouldn’t be too tough for any half-competent web designer to edit it for you.

January 26, 2008 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

I agree with Dingo. You could certainly keep the look of the site and the main design elements and still make the changes you need.

January 26, 2008 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

Is this the design company that is listed in your metatags, whose name begins with the letter S?
I note that she is still active and working, and that your blog is prominently listed on the front page as part of her work.
Strange indeed.

But to the point: the current design is good but not great, so go for the redo. I’ll take this opportunity to mention that the Peking Duck banner font always looked kind of kitschy to me. Time for something more sophisticated.

January 26, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

I admit, the design is, how does one put it, classic, and I’m sure somebody can update your location. I say keep the old look and thanks for update the link in your blogroll.


January 26, 2008 @ 5:22 pm | Comment

Jeremiah, I love your new blog (and plan to put up a post about it soon) – I was thinking of contacting your designer, if only to help me clean this site up.

boo, yes, that’s the one – she’s vaporized for me, at least. I don’t want to use her or her company’s name, as she could conceivably zap this entire site, as she has the keys to the kingdom. I pity her other customers, who could be in for a big surprise when they encounter her other self.

January 26, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

In the end, the design is yours, isn’t it. Shouldn’t be too hard, like Dingo said, to copy (or rip, or whatever) it from the site itself and edit it, or rather have it edited, from there.

And strange that she would ask to be paid before doing anything. Not like she’s going to build a boat for you and needs money for material. Even if she is afraid not to get paid in the end, she could at least first let you know she’s finished the work and send it as soon as the money is in.

January 26, 2008 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

I think it looks fine. Maybe you could find a friend to help sort it out – for now you just need to change that text. But there’s no rush.

January 26, 2008 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

Lu, I paid her in advance to design the site, and she got it done in two weeks, no problem. She did several projects for me, too, fixing stuff, adding the Taiwan balloon, also no problems. I always paid in advance. Then she turned into Sybil; I have all the emails, which got creepier and creepier and then downright nasty/scary, and I decided to just let her be.

Raj, I hate to ask friends to do me favors like this. If you want to try to get the Taipei balloon off the page, please feel free.

January 26, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Comment


I took the image from your site and edited out the text. It’s not perfect because I don’t have the original files, but I think very few people will notice.


If you decide that you want a new design, feel free to contact me via the email here.

January 26, 2008 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

Darin, thanks a lot! Please send me an email when you have a chance.

January 26, 2008 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

Since you asked…

I never really cared for the appearance of the site. I think it it the muted shades of clay that induce sleepiness as I read and type. The empty right side of the page seems wasteful.

January 26, 2008 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

Content trumps style…but it’s really easy to fix.

Out with the old.

January 27, 2008 @ 2:10 am | Comment

I’ve now gotten a few emails showing me that this is indeed easy to fix – I just don’t know how to do it myself. I admit, I am profoundly IT-challenged.

January 27, 2008 @ 2:14 am | Comment

You have to keep the design. It is iconic. I agree with those who say any half decent web designer ought to be able to remove the “Now living in Taipei” logo in a snap.

January 27, 2008 @ 7:12 am | Comment

Thanks for the input. Sonagi, I created the right sidebar back when I had lots of advertisers. I am too busy to deal with these shady companies anymore and make enough from the google ads to pay for the site plus about 2 months of rent a year, so I just zapped them all. Maybe I should add Amazon reviews or something….when I get the time and energy.

January 27, 2008 @ 11:09 am | Comment

Notice the Taipei balloon is no more – thanks to the helpful commenter who got rid of it.

January 27, 2008 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

While we’re on the subject of design, why does the arrow still go from Beijing to Hong Kong to Singapore? A new reader might think you have freshly moved to Taipei from Singapore and just haven’t had time to update your image.

My thoughts: Change is good. As otherlisa said, keep the main elements and general look that identify the site but go for a more updated look. In the mercurial world of the Internet, a bit of polish is often needed to convince readers that you are still fresh, especially when work- and life-related tasks keep you from updating the content (this is not a judgement on my part). Stale content + stale image = declining interest.

January 28, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Comment

You could always move back to Taipei. ;-D

January 29, 2008 @ 4:13 am | Comment

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