November 22, 2004

Draft: Surviving College

November 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I received a note from Fr. Alden, the principal of Colegio de Sto.
Tomas-Recoletos (San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, Philippines). He
gives my SurvivingComputerScience talk notes to students who are about
to take up computer science. (Awwwww… =) ) He’s planning to give
practical college survival tips to senior high school students. Here’s
what I came up with on the train home.

– Know where you’re going. Even before you attend your first day of

classes, think about what you’d like to do and whom you’d like to be
when you graduate. Attend career talks for seniors even if you’re
just a freshman. Find out what kind of job you want and what you
need to learn in order to do it. You can change your plan, but it’s
important that you have one.

– Love what you’re doing. If you know where you’re going and you love

what you’re doing, studying will be much easier. Find something
you’re passionate about. The sooner you find this, the more you’ll
enjoy your studies and the more you’ll be able to do.

– Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Your classmates

might know more than you do now, but they started with nothing. They
learned by asking questions. If you don’t want to ask questions in
class, write your questions down. This is important because
questions are very easy to forget. Write them down so that you can
talk to your teacher after class. Your teachers are there to help
you. Ask questions.

– Review. While listening to the lecture, it’s easy to believe you

understand everything. Don’t be fooled. Go over your notes again.
Try to solve problems without looking at the answers. Try to explain
whatever you’re studying to your friends or to your family. If you
can’t explain it in your own words, you need to think about it more.

– Make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of failing. Your teachers need to

know when you’re having problems with the lessons. It’s better to do
badly than to pass without understanding anything. This also means
don’t cheat. Cheating makes you think you can do things when you
can’t. Worse, it makes you think you _can’t_ do something without
cheating, when you actually can (with a little more work).

– Take risks. College is the best time to make mistakes and learn from

them. Whenever you run into a problem, think about that problem. Why
did it happen? What can you do to solve it? What can you do to make
sure it doesn’t happen again?

– Go for more. College gives you whatever you want to get out of it.

If you just wait for people to spoonfeed you, you won’t get much.
Don’t turn off your brain when you leave the classroom. Don’t limit
yourself to the syllabus. Learn. Your teachers know more than they
can teach in class. Your classmates know a lot, sometimes more than
the teachers do. You can also learn many things on your own. You
have to take that first step.

College is whatever you want college to be.

Do you have tips to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please use the
feedback form at the bottom of this page,
or write me e-mail at [email protected] . Thanks!

Page rank and thoughts on online popularity

November 22, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Warning: this entry not expected to be coherent. Following one of my
software mantras, I will get this entry out the door first, _then_
worry about making my ideas neat. I normally try to be more coherent,
but today I also need to pack, so I don’t have the time to make this

(It’s true. Short, clear entries take longer to write.)

I just got mail from, a Philippine e-commerce site. They
offered a link exchange, citing their PageRank of 6 and Alexa
traffic rank of 196,446.

I’m linking to them as a matter of course in this blog entry, but I
don’t think I’ll take them up on the link exchange offer. I don’t want
to inflict advertising on my planner pages. Except for Google text
ads, maybe. =)

Anyway, that made me curious, so I checked my Google PageRank
through the handy non-toolbar-dependent calculator at . It turns out that has a pagerank of 5/10 .

I don’t know if PageRank is all that useful for me. People
generally stumble upon my site looking for very specific things, like
planner.el or my history notes. (Odd, that.) Or they’re my
friends/family and read my blog in order to find out what’s going on
in my life. (Whoops.) Or they’re looking for their own name, and I
have a higher pagerank than they do.

Most of my URL posts are now over at . is cool. You should try it out. I post links here when
I feel the need for commentary, but is good for
fire-and-forget as well as social bookmarking.

Actually, what I need is something that’ll put a mention in both and the URL… Hmm. That’d make a nice remember module.

Anyway, my ego can take the idea that I’m probably just an entry in
people’s RSS aggregators. ;) You know, the kind of thing you subscribe
to one day, and then are too lazy to remove. Hehehe. I’ll try not to
overload your inbox, then, and I’ll try to use meaningful subjects.

Hmm. What is this blog for?

– Not online popularity in itself. That’s silly.

– Personal memory. Seriously. It’s not your fault that M-x remember is

bound to a convenient shortcut (F9 r SPC on this machine), but
that’s the reason you suffer through all the strangest emacs-lisp
snippets and commentary on mail that’s not actually viewable on the
Net anyway.

– Projects I feel deserve more attention. Please check them out. Also,

please tell me about similar stuff I can learn about and link to.

– The occasional rambling pseudo-essay, like this one. I hope to achieve -like coherence at some point in time.
I hope said point is before my death.

– Emacs Lisp code. Shell scripts. Random hacks. Geeky stuff.

– Occasionally, my personal life. Sorry if that freaks you out. =)

If you tell me what you like, I’ll write more about it.

So going back to the very first thing… What sites would I like to link to?

– Thought-provoking questions. Preferably stuff that’ll provide me

with procrastination fodder, causing me to go off on a wild tangent
as I figure out what I think about the issue (and thus avoid having
to think about the packing I have to do later)…

– Nifty hacks.

– Insightful blogs. Interesting ideas. Blogs that show an awareness of

a universe outside the author’s close circle of friends. That sort
of thing.

– Stuff that looks like it should be in my blog, but isn’t.

– Yours. I’m curious about the intersection of interests.


Drop me a note?