This is the archive of version one, made in 2006, launched in 2007, and active until 2012. It’s archived to preserve the original design and its content that was referenced in multiple posts, books and galleries. There’s a holding page before the new site arrives.

/ log / 7th Feb, 2008 /

Gong Xi Fa Cai (Happy New Year!)

Rats rejoice, this is your year! I include my father amongst that number, and have a bottle of fine Cognac around here someplace to prove it.

It’s 4706 according to the Chinese calendar. I find myself musing today that the Western new year is so arbitrary, having no relationship to either solar or lunar cycles and yet it still looms larger in my mind than the Chinese version. If we were going to get truly pedantic, new year celebrations would either be at one of the solstices for obvious reasons. Or would they be calculated on a lunisolar basis anyway, as with many South East Asian calendars? I forget, but my main thought was how arbitrary the Western New Year is in comparison.

Maybe we’ve taken a few backward steps: The Sumerians would celebrate their new year around the Vernal Equinox (or the first new moon following,) and the Mayans had a logical calendar of 13 months based on lunar cycles.

Whatever your opinions on my random thoughts for this season, may you and yours have a great new (Chinese) year!

Normal bulletins will resume shortly after the weight of work shifts to a more comfortable position in the next few weeks. On the cards soon: Hybrid, sliding layouts in CSS, more on narrative, experience design and typography, in no particular order.

I know I’ve been a little slack in 2008, but I’d rather have quality over quantity every time, a bit like Ratatoille.


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  1. 1. By dotjay on 7th Feb ’08 at 09:19am

    Gong Xi Fa Cai! (How do you pronounce that?)

    Happy New Year, Jon! I’m a Monkey, myself. I’m going to be celebrating with friends and family in our favourite Chinese restaurant over the weekend. Last year, the meal was complete with dragon dance! I'll try to get photos.

  2. Jon 陳’s profile 2. By Jon 陳 on 7th Feb ’08 at 09:23am

    The literal translation is something like “wishing you good fortune” and it sounds like this. :)

  3. 3. By Simon Clayson on 7th Feb ’08 at 09:58am

    Happy New Year! Pleased I was born as a Tiger. Grr!

  4. 4. By inspirationbit on 7th Feb ’08 at 12:47pm

    Gung Hay Fat Choy! (at least, that’s how they usually spell it here, in Vancouver, in English)

    Look forward to more quality posts of yours in the new Year.

    I’m too glad, I was born in the year of Tiger ;-)

    P.S. Why the use of the paragraph sign § instead of the usual asterisk *? Is it just to stand out in the crowd or is there something else behind it?

  5. 5. By riccard0 on 7th Feb ’08 at 13:28pm

    Personally, I find that one of the most “logical” new year’s days is the persian one: the first day of spring.

    @inspirationbit: § is the glyph for “section”.

  6. Jon 陳’s profile 6. By Jon 陳 on 7th Feb ’08 at 13:42pm

    Thanks Simon, the same to you. :) I still love that image on your index. I discover new things about it every time I look.

    Inspirationbit: The section sign is used partly because of my love for typographic symbols. Standing out from the crowd doesn’t concern me. Also, in my mind it fits too; The asterix traditionally indicated a footnote, and as such the “*required” label explaining why the asterix was there often came after the form. Although that was structurally correct it didn’t help accessibility so we now place the label before required sections to let people know what is required before they start. However, that makes the asterix out of context to my mind (although admittedly it’s commonly understood.) So, instead I used the beautiful section symbol to indicate a required section. The simple logic appealed to me. :)

    To be honest, the most accessible way would be to insert an image before each form label with an alt attribute value of “required:”—something we know screen readers at default settings will read out and be available to anyone with images disabled. Then the explanatory label isn’t required at all. Hope that’s useful in some way.

    Happy new year!

  7. Jon 陳’s profile 7. By Jon 陳 on 7th Feb ’08 at 13:47pm

    Riccardo, after a quick search I realised that the Persian new year (Nowruz) is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, in a similar way to the Sumerians. Not surprising considering the geography, but interesting.

  8. 8. By Steve Avery on 8th Feb ’08 at 06:45am

    Hi Jon.

    I too am a Rat. Hope you enjoy your celebrations.

    Happy New Year mate!

  9. 9. By inspirationbit on 8th Feb ’08 at 21:04pm

    That’s indeed a logical move with the section sign §, makes sense.

    You're right that nowadays * with the required label is placed above the form rather than after, where it makes a logical sense.

    Btw, in Russian § is called a paragraph sign, because the term 'paragraph' is used interchangeably with section and paragraph, hence the confusion with English terms. Although even Wikipedia mentions that "It is frequently used along with the pilcrow (¶), or paragraph sign."

    P.S Another question to Jon: why aren’t you using Subscribe to Comments plugin? This way I would've received the notification of your reply right away, instead of simply coming here myself and checking whether or not you've replied to my comment. :-)

  10. 10. By inspirationbit on 8th Feb ’08 at 21:23pm

    oh, I just re-read your site details in the footer and saw no mention of Wordpress. I guess that would explain why Subscribe to Comments plugin is not used.

  11. 11. By coffeedrinkingperson on 8th Feb ’08 at 23:29pm

    I love the design of your site.

    I think the choices of fonts are marvelous, the odd juxtaposition of horizontal/vertical is so clear and readable.

    I hope to be inspired from all this somehow and yes, Georgia is gorgeous. Just looking at your lovely site and reading it a little has already taught me quite a lot.

    Happy New Year, from a Rooster.

  12. Jon 陳’s profile 12. By Jon 陳 on 9th Feb ’08 at 02:36am

    Thanks Steve and coffeedrinkgperson, happy new year to you too!

    You’re right Vivien, I don’t use Wordpress. The site is powered by a home-rolled PHP app called Lifelong File. It’s very much in alpha, with no community of developers creating plugins apart from multi-talented Jon Gibbins. Lots of bits on on our to-do list, like email notifications, comments feed, Gravatars, better contextual navigation, secure code support in comments and a little AJAX for the archive controls. Hopefully there will be a little time soon to get around to a few. Sorry for any inconvenience in the meantime.

    I never knew the Russian interpretation of the § symbol. Fascinating. You can almost see the history of sections / paragraph and how they developed in grammar from that. Thanks for sharing.

  13. 13. By inspirationbit on 11th Feb ’08 at 09:33am

    No worries, Jon. Now that I know what engine is running your blog, and that you're really good with replying to comments of your readers, I'll be coming back to read the responses.

    Is Lifelong File an Open Source application? If not, wouldn’t it be better to make it available to the public and grow a community of volunteer developers to add to the project?

    I work for a company that makes lots of money with its open source CMS, so it is possible to run a profitable business with an open source.

    Anyhow, good luck with with Lifelong File, and kudos to you and others for developing another blogging platform.

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