Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch


About Minh

I’m Minh Nguyễn of San José, California.

I was born a few decades ago to Vietnamese immigrants in New Orleans. While growing up in Loveland, Ohio, I attended St. Columban School and St. Xavier High School, then headed out west to study Computer Science at the Leland Stanford Jr. University. I spent a couple years writing Mac applications for Microsoft and a few years working on pomological implements.

Over the years, I somehow found free time to pour into a number of side projects. I helped kickstart the Vietnamese-language Wikipedia back in high school. Eventually I learned some Vietnamese. Out of necessity, I developed AVIM, a free browser extension that, at its peak, enabled thousands of Vietnamese speakers to type in their own language without compromising convenience or privacy.

While in college, a combination of homesickness, procrastination, and roadgeekery led me to map all of Cincinnati and beyond as a volunteer for OpenStreetMap, the world’s most ambitious world map. That led me to a job as an iOS developer at Mapbox and a seat on the board of OpenStreetMap U.S., which is how I manage to have no free time today.

About his name

So undoubtedly, you’ve seen my full name and screamed “$(*$@#(%*$@#*????!!!�?” (Because you love rattling off the names of punctuation marks.) For the record, here’s how it’s pronounced:

Yes, I just said my name backwards. It’s intentional.

About this site

Those who’ve seen my notebooks, scratch paper, or sketchpads consider inebriated Klingon inscriptions more intelligible. But thanks to the wonders of transistors and Times New Roman, you have it all here in an easy-to-read, hard-to-decorate-with-coffee-stains format.

I started Minh’s Notes in March 2002 as an afterthought “What’s New” section for my nascent personal website, MingerWeb. I had big plans for MingerWeb, but soon, the “blog-in-kind” pretty much took over. It was just so much easier to type up an update in Movable Type than to fiddle with FTP and such to update any other part of MingerWeb.

My blog covers an exciting medley of topics, including technology, language, and the occasional vignette from my personal life – though you won’t find out what my cat had for breakfast last Friday, because I don’t have a cat. No one-paragraph description of my blog would do it justice, since it’s just a big conglomeration of things that interest me. So go ahead and gander at the front page and the archives, which stretch back to March 2002. Better yet, read Gems, a collection of my finest writing at this blog.

To attract more readers – and their ire – I mirror Minh’s Notes at Facebook, and occasionally at Blogger. There are even Spanish and Vietnamese translations of this blog that I’ve updated on, oh, eight occasions tops.

You’d figure that, given several years, I’d be able to turn the blog into something worth reading. I’m still working on it, but hopefully the self-deprecating humor is helping.


In the past, way back when, I used to mock pages up in Microsoft Publisher 2000, craft the HTML by hand in Allaire HomeSite 4.01, and take a nap while waiting for everything to finish uploading. Those days are long gone. My copy of Publisher croaked as soon as I upgraded to Windows XP, I was estranged from HomeSite as soon as I switched to the Mac, and a Stanford courseload forced me to stop wasting my time on naps. So desperate am I that I’ve taken to mocking up pages on dead trees and bringing them to life in a repurposed Web browser. Nothing quite replaces my trusty old tools from the nineties.

On a lighter note, this site is a veritable bastion of PNG transparency and CSS3. That’s what allows for cool effects like a “hole” cut into the masthead and objects that seem to hang right off the page. It also means the site looks absolutely hideous in older browser. I’m perfectly fine with that. Some of the textures on this site originated in ArtRage 2.5. From there, I touched up the textures and added transparency using ImageMagick and Seashore, a Mac fork of the GIMP that, unlike the GIMP, doesn’t resemble oncoming sludge.

Some key images were based off work by other individuals, so I’m very grateful to:

Most of this site is set in plain vanilla Times New Roman, but certain pieces, like the wordmark, are set in American Typewriter (where available) or Courier New.

The sheer amount of content on Minh’s Notes is only possible thanks to Movable Type 4.2, which has made blogging at times bearable and at times insanely difficult. Despite the ups and downs, I’ve been an MT user since version 2.0.

This site’s current design is a testament to my uncanny ability to procrastinate. Begun summer 2006 and mostly complete a year later, it took me until late 2011 to finally get my act together and upload the lot. That explains why the table already shows some signs of wear. Ah yes, the aging process brings out the best in a website design! However, if you must steadfastly cling to the Minh’s Notes of old, you may retreat to the comfort of a previous design:


Minh’s Notes collects the following information about you:

If you do comment, some information you provide will be made publicly viewable on this site. This information may include your name and website URL, depending on your method of authentication. For instance, logging in via TypeKey means that your TypeKey user name and profile page are exposed, while logging in using your AIM screen name means your screen name is exposed. If at any time you decide you don’t want this information blasted at 10 Gbps across the globe, just let me know and I’ll take it down.

Your e-mail address is never shown publicly at this site. I’m not in cahoots with spammers. (But I like SPAM.)


The views expressed herein, whether in the form of entries, comments, TrackBacks, or eraser marks, are representative of their respective authors as individuals, not of their employers. The blogger who blogs this blog blogs on his own free time and of his own volition. Said blogger’s employer exercises no editorial control, nor does New Dream Network, which hosts the blog.

Although said blogger makes every reasonable attempt to cover his bases, he publishes this blog “AS IS” and waives all legal responsibility, to the maximum extent permissible under applicable law, for consequences, catastrophic or otherwise, resulting from consumption of or action upon the content herein. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or deceased, is purely coincidental (except when it isn’t). No profit is derived from the publication of this blog.

Oh, and void where prohibited.

So here’s the deal: I’d be happy if you were to somehow find a use for my work, even if it’s a commercial use. Just give credit to me in a reasonable way. More specifically, this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution license, version 3.0, unless otherwise noted. Quoted material is occasionally included in this blog under fair use, subject to the original author’s copyright provisions. If you’d like to reuse anything here under different terms, please get in touch so we can work something out. Which brings me to…

Contact Minh

Send me your comments, questions, compliments, flames, and spam via e-mail or Jabber. My e-mail address and Jabber ID are both as follows: the user name mxn, followed by the at-sign (@), and finally the server name 1ec5.org. Once you figure that out, take comfort in knowing that you aren’t a spambot.