Thursday, January 29, 2009

VPSLAND killed Foldees, scared the crap out of us, and brought us back

At this point, we're struggling to find the appropriate words for the usually good-natured Foldees blog while dealing with the current situation. As you can see, we've already failed with the blog title.

The past 48 hours have been the scariest of our brief existence as the world's only designer-created greeting card site. Here's what happened:-


About a month ago, we had some serious outages with our site due to a highly unstable server provided by our hosting provider, VPSLAND. This resulted in our site being down during our crucial contest submission, which we then had to extend.

During this period, we were in frequent contact with VPSLAND to get to the route of the problem, and they suggested migrating over to one of their more "stable servers". We came to an agreement that we would get 5 days to perform the migration, while VPSLAND kept both the old and new servers active. We decided that the low period of late January would be a good time to do this.

On Tuesday night (Jan 27th), we emailed VPSLAND to start up the new server to begin the migration. On Wednesday morning, we woke to find was unreachable. We sent several emails to VPSLAND that day (they have no phone support, which should be a fair warning) to restore the site, but they only sent one support email back saying that the site was fine and that the connection was "verified".

However, as you guys know, the site has been down for the past 48 hours. After three days of frantically emailing our hosting provider, the Foldees team went through some of its darkest hours in our brief existence. We feared the worst, that the server instance had been deleted and that we would lose our database.

Would we be able to recover the database? What about the contest ratings and comments? In this time, they did not reply a single one of our panicked emails as we set up a quick program to continually ping the server to let us know if it ever came back to life.

Half an hour ago, the site magically came back up. I'm not by any regard a religious person, but at moments like this, one has to thank the big guy upstairs. Also, even though we'll be leaving you very soon, thanks to VPSLAND for at least bringing the site back up (even if it was your bloody fault in the first place). Quite a few of you have sent your well wishes to us about the site, and we'd just like to thank you as well. Your support during this brief, but trying time has helped greatly, and we love you for it!


Anyways, just to let you know, we have already signed up for a significantly pricier (and more reputable) host called Blacknight in Ireland. We are also putting significantly more frequent backups in place to ensure that this does not happen again. While I'm on this point, let me add something of value a midst the death and despair.

<valuable advice>

How we stumbled upon our current hosting company was through searches for "best VPS provider" on Google. The lesson we've learnt here is that in future (and this is awesome advice for all professionals sourcing for suppliers), is to do the opposite. Having searched "VPSLand sucks", we found a slew of sites condemning our current provider to Internet hell. Other words we found linked to them include "incompetent", "buffoons" and "nightmare". All sentiments we can share at this point in time.

So, the painful lesson we've learnt here is that for any future sourcing for providers of anything (plugins, hosting, blog engines... etc), do make sure to search for "<provider's name> sucks" on Google

</valuable advice>

We are currently checking our database to ensure that no data has been lost in this time. If you feel something has gone missing, do let us know at and we'll do our darndest to get everything back working the way it should.

Once again, we offer our apologies for your inconvenience, our gratitude for your support, and our humble hope that you will stay with our little site for a long time to come :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The site might be experiencing some outages

We're trying to migrate to a more stable server, but immediately after requesting the transfer, our site is noticeably dead. We are currently talking to the provider, but please be patient as we sort this out with VPSLAND.

Yes, let's publish their names here. You have been warned.

Happy Chinese New Year!

New year means different things to different people. To us, it means a brief break to feel like kids again. For those 20-somethings (barely) from chinese families, you'll know exactly what we mean.

Yes we still collect Ang Pows (red packets given from married people to single, regardless of age), we gamble alot just like we used to (although the stakes are a little bit higher) and we also follow our parents around and pay our respects to our elders.

In other words, not much has changed in this routine since we were kids, and thus, every year, we feel like kids again, just for a few days. Here's a brief pictorial of my CNY


All three elements of CNY in a nutshell - oranges, money and lots of sitting on floors


Really cheap wine, usually free if you order a set meal. Separates the real connoisseurs ("No thanks, I'm driving") from the real chinamen ("Wah... not bad wor this wine. Free somemore from FRANCE!").


Found the morning of Chinese New Year. Quickest photo essay. Ever.


A bench I found in my hometown in the middle of a residential area. Lemme zoom that in for you...


Happy Chinese New Year, fellow chinamen!

Note: for those of you who ordered cards last week, you might have to wait a few days longer as our printer has closed for Chinese New Year. They'll be open tomorrow so the cards will go out to the post office tomorrow, which means within Malaysia you should get your cards within the week, and by the first week of Feb for everywhere else! Sorry, Malaysians really do love a good holiday :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

14.2% OFF all Foldees cards and you don't even need a credit card!


As you can see, Pink is our new obsession!

We've got some Double Happiness coming your way before Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to do a CNY contest, so you guys'll just have to make do with our lovely gaming-related love cards from "The Game of Love".

Speaking which, all cards on the site will be 14.2% off until Valentine's Day! As mentioned on the flyer, if you need to ask why we chose that magic number, you'll probably need to buy a stackload of em :)

The 2nd bunch of happiness we're bringing is a new tie in with MOL to purchase cards using MOLePoints! MOL is short for Malaysia On Line, and MOLePoints are their primary offering (and incidentally Malaysia's #1 prepaid online currency)! You can purchase MOLePoints at any 7-Eleven in Malaysia. With these points, you'll be able to come to our site, and use 'em to buy Malaysia's #1 greeting cards with an attitude!

Unfortunately, this function is currently available only for the Malaysian public, but very very soon, we'll also be integrating with MOL's other branches in India, Singapore and China! This is good news not only for Indians, Singaporeans and our Chinese brothers, but also great for all you designers looking to expose your work around the world, and us (of course!).

Spread the love peeps!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Start a Facebook Boycott for Shark's Fin this Chinese New Year! HOO-HA!

In case you didn't know, Foldees was started by 3 bored Chinese dudes from Malaysia. Being Chinese, we get to celebrate the New Year twice (yay!). First, we drink to the high heavens on 31st Dec (as demonstrated here), and usually about a month later, Chinese New Year falls, which means gambling, visiting relatives who keep telling you you get bigger every year, and of course, the annual reunion dinner.

The reunion dinner is a tradition for Chinese families all around the world, where relatives meet once a year to welcome the new year. Usually, this means a ten-course dinner with a red table cloth, and of course, the obligatory Shark's Fin Soup.


I've been eating this stuff since I was a kid, and never thought twice about it, except that the soup tasted pretty good with some vinegar as you grew older. The shark's fin in it? Well, we always kinda ate it cos it was there, felt like we were getting back at JAWS, and someone told us it was expensive and "good stuff, so don't waste it".

About five years ago, my sister, who has always been a bit of a rebel, refused to eat the shark's fin soup because it was "cruel". Sure, I already knew that sharks aren't half as dangerous or evil as what people claim but to be honest, she has new causes every week, so I just ignored this boycott as one of her phases. This year however, a friend recommended I watch "Sharkwater", a film about sharks, and how it's not just cruel to sharks, but dangerous for the entire underwater eco-system and thus, us.

It's a beautifully-shot movie. It's got some of the most amazing underwater footage I've ever seen in it, and I'd recommend it to anybody who has the same fascination that I do with what's undar da sea. However, beyond that, it also shows what's going on with the shark trade around the world.

Basically, sharks are already an endangered species. This is because the Chinese people (like us) demand it, and at such high-prices, that it has become a literal gold-mine for fishermen, more so than any other fish. also, because only the fin is sought after, it takes ALOT of sharks (100 million a year and climbing at 5% annually) to make up for the demand.

100 million sharks.

And yes, sharks do get back at us... there are about 70 shark attacks each yea, usually resulting in 1 to 3 human fatalities per year.

Heck, I was reading an article today that showed that Malaysia alone has an average of 6000 deaths from road accidents every year. That's more than 16 deaths a day from those evil cars. Spark-plug soup anyone?

Because of this voracious demand, sharks are already dwindling in supply all over the world. As such, fishermen who still need to make their quotas are going to only two places in the world to fish where they're still in abundance. The film focuses on the Galapagos (yes, the island with the giant turtles and funny statues of David Coulthard), where fishermen are illegally killing sharks, and the governments are politically inclined to close an eye.

It really is cruel seeing the sharks getting their fins cut off and thrown back into the water, but that's only part of it. Studies have shown that when shark populations go down, other species do as well, because they're part of the eco-system (for instance, there's less tuna because sharks prey on other animals that would otherwise prey on tuna), and the ocean's eco-system is so fragile that it might just come crumbling down.

All for something that tastes like gummy noodles. Honestly, if you took the shark's fin out of the soup and replaced it with a similar looking noodle, most of us wouldn't notice. Thing is, as long as shark's fin soup goes for up to US$300 a bowl, there'll always be one guy who's willing to fin for em and make a mint, and 10 other guys who'll say "It's already happening, so why don't I just get my share?". That's why the only way to stop it is to stop wanting it.That's why I have politely declined shark's fin since CNY last year.

This year, I've decided to go one small step further and message all my cousins on facebook (children of the same generation usually sit together at these reunion dinners) to ask them if they'd like to opt out of shark's fin this year. I don't want to impose my personal beliefs on the older generation just yet, but I'm pretty sure that the young influential ones will probably join me, and the rest will follow suit due to peer pressure. With this, we can agree early on enough to let the organisers (my uncles) know to cancel the bowl of shark's fin this year.

If everyone here just did the same, a quick message to your relatives on Facebook (don't need to create a group or an event cos that's too distant, but just a quick Facebook mass message to vote NO on shark's fin for reunion dinner is something people can easily achieve), and we can do away with one piece of tradition that's not doing anyone any good.

Except for a few illegal fishermen. We'll send them a few I'm Sorry cards on your behalf.

Feel free to pledge to mass message in the comments below :) Happy CNY everyone! (sharks included)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Start rating our "Game of Love" entries and get a FREE CARD!!

Sorry for the delay guys, we were waiting for a few small fixes to some of the entries, and right on schedule, VOILA! The tragic Foldees team has missed another deadline.

However, we received some CRIMINALLY wicked cards this time around, with themes that varied from Donkey Kong to Poker! We did receive quite a bit fewer entries than usual this time around, which we assume is because everyone's having a rollicking good Christmas (ourselves included!)

But that's good news for the rest of you... the less cards to rate to get your free one! As has become our tradition with Foldees, each of you gets to send a FREE card to anywhere in the world, as long as you take the time to vote for all the entries in our contest!

Don't forget.... vote unfairly (and we do have ways of finding out) and your vote gets nullified. So please do save us, and yourselves the time and try to be fair to all the participants :)

So far, as you can tell, our winners have always been deserving, not due to popularity but sheer appeal of their designs, and this time isn't going to be any different.

We also have some rather interesting announcements coming up in the next coupla weeks, specifically for those of you without credit cards.... Foldees will be offering some payment options that'll open us up to a whole new audience.

So stay tuned, and start rating out our fab new designs here (you need to be logged in first)

Closing date for ratings is 3rd February 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Foldees Top Five Moments of 2008

5. Playing Fallout 3 for the first time

There's nothing quite like your first time. Furthermore, this is Fallout we're talking about here. For those who don't know, Fallout is a series of games based on a post-nuclear holocaust world stuck in 50s era music and technology. I'll just refer you to the wiki right here for more information. That's because for those who are Fallout fans, you already know what I'm talking about... and well. There's no such thing as a casual Fallout player. We're all fanatics. Put two complete strangers who've played Fallout in a small room, lock them in there for four hours, and they probably won't even notice.

Here at Foldees, 60% of the office are hard-core Fallout fans. So you can imagine that December wasn't exactly the most productive month for us here :) That aside, the feeling of walking out of your Vault and adjusting your vision to seeing sunlight for the first time falling on the wasteland that was once Washington DC.



4. Obama winning

We thought the world had gone crazy for 8 years. Or at least America had... Many of us here remembered avidly watching the John Kerry-Bus debates and being darn sure that Kerry would win hands down.

That same shock-horror threatened this time around when waiting for the final polls to come in for the 2008 election, much less with the US's potentially first African-American president. We love Obama here. We love the hope that he represents for the rest of the world, and we were all cheering madly when he won. We also watched the victory speech and were reminded of those American action movies where there's a rallying speech from the president, and a surging orchestral score.

We named our new company dog after him. Meet Barrack. Or Barrie, as I prefer to call him.



3. Our all-nighter launching the Foldees Shopping Cart

Launching your first shopping cart is a harrowing experience. Many of you Foldees fans out there know that we're not exactly known for our timeliness. One of the unfortunates of having a really small team is that there are no contingencies when things sometimes don't go according to plan.

This was one of those moments. For various reasons (Paypal, Javascript, database...etc), we were ironing the bugs up to 11am in the morning - three days in a row, with barely 4 hours of sleep the entire weekend. In that time, we consumed about 28 packets of instant noodles, and countless cups of instant coffee (damn Coffee Bean for not having 24 hour delivery) and Red Bull. We did also, however, play quite a bit of PS2 along the way as well to chill-out (ironically, our game of choice was Burnout), and I've gotta say, our team was much stronger coming out of that than going in.


You can see in this picture that our notebooks are right next to our PS2 controllers.

Nothing unites people like a common goal, and that's to bring the best greeting cards in the world to the public.

2. Watching the Dark Knight for the second time

I wasn't really raving about Batman Begins. Sure, even some of the other guys here at Foldees thought it was awesome, but personally, I thought it really needed a proper villain, and I couldn't even pronounce Ras Al Ghoul's name (or spell it without referring away from this page).

All that faded away once Heath Ledger walked on screen. With the shadow of his death leaning over that very first bank heist scene, it lended an even more mythical feel to the entire movie, helped along by one of my favourite actors, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent.

Watching it the 2nd time was even better. When you know when all the big surprises, explosions and deaths are coming, you're even more surprised to find out that they still affect you. And you realise the little nuances like the fact that Harvey Den'ts famous coin was burnt on one side during the explosion, and not scratched by himself (showing his transformation was involuntary in this movie). It's a real ballet of tragedy that's beautiful to watch.

This is the best movie I've seen in years. Ok ok, so It's my top 5, but since I'm in charge of the blog, the others can go hootie-patootie.

1. Seeing all the entries come in for "We Are All Geeks"

When we first decided to launch our site on June 16, we had absolutely no idea what would happen. Would designers join? What if the prizes weren't attractive enough? What if there was something wrong with the Template, our engine or our hosting provider?

Of course, it didn't help that the majority of the entries came in at the 11th hour (and 59th minute), leaving us absolutely balls-out anxious until those entries started coming. And boy did they start coming! We received over 70 entries in the last hour itself.

Seeing all the awesome designs and ideas coming through was really a dream come true for all of us. Seeing the thousands of comments flow in just hours later, made everything... all the hard work, planning and praying... absolutely worth it. We had something that worked.

Now, a short six months later, we're into our third contest, sold hundreds of cards and things are moving a bit more smoothly than they used to. We know roughly what to expect, although the design approval process is still very much our favourite part of the process.

That being said, I'm sure you guys can understand... There's nothing quite like your first time.

Thanks for supporting us guys! We are so going to rock it up for you in 2009.


Happy New Year from the Foldees Team!