December 2004

The cost of plagiarism and laziness

December 1, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I am deeply saddened to read the message posted on , which I reproduce below:

Recently, one of my essays—originally an article posted
on Usenet titled “What is philosophy?”—turned up in an eastern
Wisconsin high school. There it was submitted by a student who claimed
it as their own work. After exchanging a few e-mails, the teacher
presented evidence to me, in the form of an electronic log, of the
student having authored the article before me. Since my own proof is
no more substantial, the essay was accepted by the school as the
student’s own.

In light of this, and the possibility of future occurrences, I am
ending my Web-publishing endeavors. I will continue to write, but
through printed outlets, where the role of authorship cannot be
disputed. It is not so much the accusation of plagarism which troubles
me, as the doubt it casts on the very aim of my writing: upholding the
glory of a life lived for the Truth.

My apologies to all who found this site encouraging or inspiring. If
you wish to write me at, I would be happy to
continue a private dialog with you on whatever subject interests you

To that student, whoever you are, wherever you are: I hope you’re
proud of yourself. Idiot. You may have taken the easy way out now, but
I hope you wise up before someone out there finds out you’re a fraud.
Even if no one catches you, there’ll always be that nagging feeling
that you haven’t really explored your potential.

John, don’t stop writing. Keep sharing your ideas. Keep thinking out
loud. Live. Dream. Inspire. One person may not believe in what we
value, but there are people in the world who listen to what you say
and who share your thoughts.

UPDATE: 2004.12.03 , from John Wiegley

Hello! to everyone who wrote after my website was taken down: After
thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I decided it was too harsh a
measure. I hope everyone will continue to visit again. I’ll start
posting blog entries again tomorrow.

Reflections: Random thoughts on presentations

December 1, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Not in any order.

- Focus on what people want. Whether you’re selling an idea or

teaching first-year students the joys of programming, you have to
show your audience what they’ll get out of the talk. Restructure
your talk if you have to. What makes sense for you might not make
sense for them.

- Don’t read off your slides. This is a canonical rule, but I’m still

surprised at how many people break it. If you summarize your points
using incomplete sentences on your slides, you’ll find it easy to
follow this rule.

- Break long slides into more slides. Whitespace is your friend. Watch

your font size. If it goes below 20pt, chances are you’re trying to
cram too much data on one slide.

- Tables full of data are evil. If you find yourself with a table of

numbers, see if you can make a graph instead. Make sure you choose
the appropriate type of graph. Bar graphs and line graphs show
growth and relative levels, pie graphs show percentage.

- Make sure your text is readable. Light-on-light is unreadable even

with drop-shadow. Be careful about dark-on-dark, too. Projectors
don’t handle some colors well. If possible, test under the same
conditions as your actual presentation. Try to take color-blindness
into account, too.

- Use your background as free advertising. Add a logo related to your

talk or your company. I like putting Tux on my Linux-related talks
because Tux is cute and the logo reminds people they’re listening
to, well, a Linux talk. Think subliminal.

- Animation should feel natural and be almost unnoticeable. You want

animation that just makes sense. Never use random or gratuitious
animation. Make sure each animation has a purpose. If you use slide
transitions, pick one transition and stick with it. You do not want
your audience to be going “ooooh, what a cool animation” unless
you’re selling them presentation software.

- I find it helpful to provide an overview on almost every slide.

../presentations/2004113-taming-the-todo.pdf has an example.
Some people like seeing the bigger picture when they’re learning
something. The overview also makes it easier for people to estimate
how far they’ve gotten in your talk.

One thing I’d like to experiment with would be using blanks in my
slide text. (Remember those fill-in-the-blanks from school? Right.) I
wonder how that will affect audience concentration…

Another recruit for the wonderful world of Planner hacking!

December 1, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Chris Parsons wrote:

Well, I was using the excellent new planner-create-note-from-task, and
thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have the note optionally created on the
plan page rather than the (less useful) date page? I must ask Sacha to
do that.”

And then I thought, “No! I’ll venture into the previously unchartered
depths of lisp programming… and work out how to do it myself.”

Here’s my diff. Pass a prefix argument to always create on the plan
page. Perhaps this should be the default – Sacha’s call, I guess.

Be gentle, it’s my first proper lisp coding :)

Wheeeeee! Another person discovered the joys of Emacs Lisp hacking!

See, Planner is easy to hack. =)

E-Mail from Chris Parsons

XF86Config-4: Linux on the Fujitsu Lifebook P1110

December 1, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Important notes:

- Use the ati driver.
- Modeline “1024×600″ 51 1024 1040 1216 1328 600 600 606 626

See LinuxLaptop#3 for the whole config.

Emacs for my Mom

December 1, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Do you think Emacs is something we can learn?

I think Emacs is something my parents can learn, but something they
currently don’t have reason to study. Even the PIM aspect won’t be
helpful, as my mom is really uses Outlook synchronization with mobile

Right tool for the right job, I guess. =)

People sometimes try new things for the sheer heck of it. My dad tries
different lighting techniques. My mom tries new ways of management. I
try new sites and new software (mostly related to PIMs). We do that
because we are interested in the topic and we can see the long-term
benefits either directly caused by the tool or indirectly due to
keeping our minds flexible. We serve as gateways (or gatekeepers?) for
other people who don’t have the time to explore these things.

Sometimes we’re not looking for new ways to work. Sometimes we’re just
curious about stuff. That’s cool, too. If my mom’s curious about this
software program I keep writing about, she can give it a whirl. =) seems to have Emacs for
Mac OS X, although I’ve never actually tried it because I don’t have a
Mac. (Hint? ;) ) Pick “Emacs for OS X (your version here)”. Err, I
don’t know what “mount the DMG disk image” means under Mac OS X, but
it might be something you can find under the option-click (or one of
those funky buttons) menu…

Knowing my mom, hmmm… I suggest trying out Tools: Games: Tetris
first. =)

Web site design

December 2, 2004 - Categories: emacs

After seeing the quotation from the web design firm my mom’s thinking
of using, I have gotten sufficiently annoyed about the current design.
I will apply my one-hour hacking challenge to tomorrow. That is, in one hour, I will try
to whiz through as many improvements as possible.

It’s been enough time that I’ve forgotten what their design looked
like. I’ll sit down tomorrow and hack up something small and simple.
Neat. No frills. Clean and elegant, though, and search-friendly. It
won’t get picked up by the search engines right away, but I’ll see
what I can do about that also.

If they think the design resembles theirs too much, I can modify it.
<shrug> Still, better to have code I understand than autogen
code I don’t.

Some insights:

- Websites can be tweaked over time, just like software. I can improve

it incrementally. I should think of it like planner.

- I wanted a professional design firm because I wanted a real

copywriter to go over the stuff. I don’t want people to just
copy-and-paste blocks of text from the company profile.

- I also wanted someone to do the initial implementation so that I can

just do maintenance, which I enjoy. If I’m sufficiently annoyed,
though, I can just evolve the site. One of the most effective ways
to get me to do something is to make me annoyed enough with the
current situation.

- Design: As long as it isn’t horrible, it’s okay. People will visit

for photos and information, not for website design tips.

- Future: Stock photos CMS, delicious-style tagging. But not now.

Small hack forward.

Emacs on Mac OS X

December 2, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Sven Kloppenburg said:

using Emacs on Macosx myself, I can tell you that emacs 21.2.1 comes
with macosx. If you want a more recent version, you can just checkout
the CVS-Emacs and cd mac; ./make-package —self-contained to get an
installable macosx-app that plays nice with planner.

btw.: a .dmg file is mounted by double-clicking it ;-)

Ooooh, nifty. I wonder if it comes with pretty widgets. I want my mom
to have a menubar right away. <grin>

Thanks for the tip!

E-Mail from Richi’s server

The one-hour hack strikes again!

December 2, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Not bad for a one-hour hack straight out of bed. Time to change
clothes and eat breakfast…

Tokyo LUG December nomikai, tentative list

December 2, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

- 1. Chris Sekiya
- 2. Vic Thacker
- 3. Stephen Turnbull
- 4. Michael Moyle
- 5. Sacha Chua
- 6. Alberto Tomita
- 7. Kinichi Kitano
- 8. Michael Reinsch
- 9. Mudreac Nelu
- 10. ITSUMI ken-ichi
- 11. Rena Abe and Kensuke Chigusa (My friend)
- 12. Zev Blut

Stephen Turnbull! Stephen Turnbull of XEmacs!

E-Mail from Stephen J. Turnbull

Slashdot humor

December 2, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From nyteroot‘s comment at :

 1n r3sp0ns3 t0 th1s, 1 h4v3 0nly 0n3 th1ng t0 s4y:

    $ m4n scr33n
    -bash: m4n: command not found


One-hour hacks

December 2, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Do tell me what happened with your web development company. At the
moment, I’m wondering what caused you to initiate your one-hour hack.

Just Because I Can. <impish grin> Never underestimate an annoyed
geekette with a block of free time.

Seriously, keeping track of how much time it takes me to actually
implement things… Wow. Thanks to
../emacs/dev/planner/planner-timeclock.el, I can tell you how long
something took to implement. That’s given me a newfound appreciation
for lunch hour and (formerly) free time. Lunch hour is another new
planner feature, or a new website look, or a few new discoveries on
the Net.

I don’t think we’ll be needing the web dev company any more. I think
that at this point we aren’t likely to see significant improvements
with professional design, given that the company isn’t into
copywriting. I would’ve greatly appreciated the services of a real
copywriter who can, say, review our documents and write for the web,
but the web firms in the Philippines don’t offer this as a service. I
suppose I’ll just have to trust my senses when it comes to the Net.
The current Adphoto website is still
too marketing-fluffy for my tastes, but I can tweak that when I get
better ideas.

Reflections on what I value

December 2, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

- I love teaching. I love getting people to understand and appreciate

technology. I want to help people develop a sense of control over
their computers. I want them to be able to have fun while
programming, to see the creative side of technology. I also enjoy
exploring new ways of teaching, and I want to be able to experiment
with lots of techniques while adapting to individual differences.

- I love learning. I want to keep computer science fresh in my mind. I

also like exploring new technologies. I like playing around with
ideas, keeping a rough index in my head of things that may be useful
to other people.

- I want freedom. I want to be able to learn whatever I want to. I

want to work on projects of my own choosing and teach lessons I want
to teach. I want to be able to take off in the middle of the week
for a conference or a meeting.

- I love presenting ideas, tools. I want to present to and receive

ideas from as many people as possible in as many places as possible.

- I like writing. I want to write about new technologies and new ways

of working, turning the spotlight on past work and contributing new
knowledge to the world.

- I love working on open source.

This will be followed by a long reflection on teaching and other
options tomorrow.

PHP photo galleries

December 3, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I’m looking for a file- or MySQL-backed PHP photo gallery that allows
you to tag photos for later searching (maybe like, as
I’ll be tagging pictures with topic as well as photographer. Most
image galleries seem to be strictly hierarchical (if not flat).

I’d like it to automatically create thumbnails, too. I hope has gd or imagemagick. If not, I’ll just have
to do the image uploading and tagging myself…


The description for mentioned being able
to search by keyword, so I think I’ll go for that one.
Gallery (
also looks useful.

Update from John Wiegley

December 3, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

In 2004.12.01#note1, I expressed my regret that John Wiegley
took his blog down because of plagiarsm. Here’s an update:

Hello! to everyone who wrote after my website was taken down: After
thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I decided it was too harsh a
measure. I hope everyone will continue to visit again. I’ll start
posting blog entries again tomorrow.




December 3, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Wasn’t that such a wonderful thing to do? <impish grin>

Go and do a good deed today.

More gallery stuff

December 3, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Tala said:

You might also want to try Coppermine. =)

E-Mail from Richi’s server

Reflections on teaching

December 3, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

It was a joy to teach brilliant and enthusiastic students who learned
by leaps and bounds. I hope I had in some way accelerated their
learning, widened their horizons and helped them enjoy computer
science even more.

Dearer to me, though, are students whose aha! moments are few and far
between despite their efforts. They were the reasons why I taught
before, and they are the reasons I want to return.

Asian governments start to speak the same language on Linux implementations

December 4, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

12/3/2004 12:05:53 PM -
by Vawn Himmelsbach


Could Asia become a Linux stronghold? It’s positioning itself to become
one, as governments here try to limit their dependence on the Windows
operating system.

E-Mail from Manny Amador

Ching blogs!

December 4, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Food and leisure around Makati. Found through John Valdezco’s site at , which was news to me too. <laugh>

Hard disk restore

December 6, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Having journal problems with my ext3 /home partition. I, err, dropped
my laptop, and lots of errors started showing up in my /home. _Only_
my /home partition, strangely. Just like last time.

Sync’d over my private stuff and grabbed the rest from the Net. I can
tolerate missing messages in my ~/Mail, but not corrupted files in my
arch repositories or my Emacs directory. Fortunately, I have
known-good copies on several sites.

I’m getting good at this /home restore thing.

I’ll try reformatting the partition later and seeing if that’ll do
anything. If not, well, this new partition is actually bigger than my
old /home, so…

I should lose a number of corrupted mail messages at the most, as
everything else is either safe or unnecessary.

Sleeping cat

December 6, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized
      |\      _,,,---,,_
ZZZzz /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_
     |,4-  ) )-,_. ,\ (  `'-'
    '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)

Thanks to Dominique for forwarding the ASCII art cat in someone’s sig. =)

E-Mail from Dominique Cimafranca

My mom’s started blogging!

December 6, 2004 - Categories: emacs

(Won’t give anyone the URL until she gives the go-ahead.)

I’m reading my mom’s very first blog post. I wish she had started
earlier. These are stories I would never have heard even if I had been
there. How is it that a journal entry or a letter can feel more
intimate than spoken conversation or actual presence?

Was I even actually present? When I was in the Philippines, I spent
most of the time in the Internet room, doing my mail, hacking on
planner.el or browsing the Net. This was, for me, being in touch with
the world. At some point in the evening either my dad or my mom would
call up and say “Come here and talk to us,” and I would try to think
of whatever they might find interesting in my rather uneventful day.
Sometimes I’d have lots of stories—after an exam, for example—but
after the first flush of excitement, we’d peter off. Some days, the
only time I saw my parents was right before going to sleep. (Don’t
worry, it got better after a while.)

I want to be present. I want to go beyond the anecdotes that just
graze the surface of one’s day. I want to delve beyond the first or
second thought that comes to mind, to hear the stories from long ago
or the stories hidden in today’s events. I want to think about “why”,
too, but at a leisurely pace that allows us to really reflect instead
of scrambling to answer right away.

I think that’s it. It’s not about being there in real life or not, but
it’s about presence and insight. Going beyond the obvious stuff. It’s
like the way that people who chat with me in real-time might find out
current events, but people who read this can get an idea of how I
think. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that even among my friends I
think of myself as present in varying degrees.

Anyway. Presence.

Today’s stories made me feel present.

My mom’s stories today are stories that can only be told on drowsy
afternoons with nothing else to do—and there’s always something more
to do. These are stories of leisure to be told among long silences,
and we were never quite a family for long silences. These are stories
meant to be told and heard at leisure; perfect for letters.

Today’s letter was about a family party on my father’s side. I would
have probably not wanted to go to it, would’ve sat quietly and tried
to figure out what to talk about if I had gone. I usually dread family
reunions because there are all these people I’m supposed to know and
yet don’t really, and yet it’s difficult to overcome my embarrassment
at not knowing anyone and actually go and try to get to know people.
(That probably didn’t make sense to you.)

Reading her account of it, though, I felt more _there_ than I had
been, say, during my grandmother’s funeral. My mom tells people’s
little stories. She makes them come alive. Next time I go to these
things, I’ll be able to fake knowing a little bit about what’s going
on. I’m almost looking forward to that.

So, dear Mom: Continue writing. Protect that time. Block it off.
Consider it sacred. Give yourself at least 15 minutes a day to reflect
on what you did, what you could improve, and where you’re going—or
simply to tell us about some wonderful thing that happened that day.
Writing on the Internet is this strange mix of writing to loved ones
as well as complete strangers, and sometimes you’ll find you can say
things to one that you wouldn’t have thought of saying to the other.

(Like this reflection on presence, which might not have been a
conversation I would’ve started with you but which, now that it’s out
there, I wouldn’t mind your comments on. =) )

(Hope other people aren’t getting weirded out about these reflective
blog posts. Think of it like lifehacking. I’m debugging my internal
processes. Think of this as me thinking out loud, testing my ideas for
coherence and sensibility. If you really find it strange, e-mail me at what you like and don’t like hearing about and I’ll
see if I can split off a separate feed for you. See WelcomePage for a
list of my RSS feeds.)

E-Mail from Harvey Chua

Tagalog dictionaries as a Debian package

December 6, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From Jan Alonzo:

Just want to let you guys know that I just finished packaging the tagalog
dictionaries for ispell and aspell. The dictionary is not that big yet and we
(me and Ramil Sagum) would really appreciate any sort of help increasing the
word lists so it will be more usable in mainstream applications like
OpenOffice, Mozilla, etc..

In your sources.list:

deb unstable/
deb-src unstable/

It will be uploaded in sid once somebody sponsors it.

E-Mail from Jan Alonzo

On being an assembly-line programmer

December 7, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

It’s recruitment time in the Philippines again, and companies in
search of fresh programming talent are hitting the colleges to chat up
the latest batch of computer science soon-to-be-graduates.

I read and thought I’d reflect on
this industry thing. This is still not a full reflection, but we’ll
eventually get somewhere.

I’m learning a lot of things from my internship here in Japan. The
most important thing I’ve learned about the computer industry, I
think, is that I’m not cut out for the usual positions.

Don’t get me wrong. I love programming. I love the thrill of getting a
system to work. I love it when people write me with thanks and feature
suggestions. I love taking something unknown—a new toolkit, a nifty
idea—and figuring it out, making things work. I can spend days
programming. It’s fun.

However, I don’t see how software companies will let me also indulge
my love for teaching. I love that, too. I love explaining things to
people. I love getting people to figure something out. I love computer
science. I can’t stand it staying just in my head.

And yes, I want my social life. I want to interact with people. I want
to feel I’m making a difference to people I know. I don’t want to be
hidden behind layers of management. I don’t want to work on things I
can’t talk about.

But then again, I want to be able to match a student’s pace much
better than I would be able to do in a lecture. I want to reach
students who don’t normally go to teachers for consultation, too. I
also want to be able to help students of differest schools, and I want
the freedom to take off in the middle of a semester for some
conference somewhere.

I also enjoyed the short course on Perl I gave some time back. I’d
like to do Linux and OSS training as well.

I’m seriously considering tutoring and training, with the occasional
short consulting thing on the side. I have from now until February to
figure out how this is going to work out. =)

Philippine websites ranked

December 8, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From the Philippine PHP mailing list:

here’s a site that lists the philippine’s top sites by alexa. the one on
cebu-online doesn’t allow you to add new sites, this one does.

My site outranks the Philippine Web Awards and the Philippine Blog
Awards. That’s odd.

I also outrank
Bluepoint Institute of Higher Technology Foundation. I like Engels and Magie, so I’m going to link to them here. <laugh>

Surprisingly, Adphoto — advertising photography and digital imaging outranks my website, at least
according to Alexa. There, Mom, I hope you’re happy. ;)

Must sit down and write more things. Also should make such things
easily accessible.

E-Mail from edson pabilona

Demo tomorrow

December 8, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Objective: Give Prof. Chignell some ideas about Planner so that he can
introduce me to the wearable computing and personal information
management research groups.

I don’t have to convince him to let me do this kind of research for my
master’s. I could use more time to bring out and document different
usage patterns, anyway. I do want to show him that I care about users
and I’m good at tweaking things for particular needs, though.

Medical handhelds seem very interesting. I don’t have to take personal
information management up for my master’s as long as I make sure I
talk to the people in that group and learn how they do research.
Medical handhelds would be far more useful to people in the
Philippines. I should get in touch with Doc Oly as well as the UP
Manila folks.

What points can I highlight that will transfer well to that field?

- Different requirements: interface, functionality.

- Minimizing attention required: context switch, distraction,

automatic context.

- Evolving functionality based on user feedback. Quick development.

User-contributed code.

‘course, I’ll have to rewrite my StatementOfPurpose at some point.

Panic, panic

December 8, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

MIT application coming up soon. Dec 15. Nearly forgot about it.
Embarrassing, as I’m into personal information management. At least my
statement of purpose has been put together already. May as well give
it a shot. Need my transcript data, though. That will take me a day or
so to key in, but I need the data first. Maybe my mom can take a
picture of it and send it over tonight? Then she can work on the
financial stuff – estimates should do – and we can finally get this
application out the door.

On effective websites

December 9, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

We’re looking at two audiences here: people who check out our website
to find out more about Adphoto as a company, and people who are
looking for advertising photographers—nothing in particular.

Good, clean website design will catch the eye of the latter. Even
better – crisp, clear images. There is, however, such a thing as too
much design. If the current design is good enough—or at least, not
horrible—then I think we’re better off focusing on developing content

If we want Adphoto to go up in the search engine rankings, what we
need is something _useful._ If we have content, design is icing on the

The best way to do that is to give things away for free. For example,
if Mom gives me lots of pictures of the Philippines with photo credits
and URL embedded into the picture, then maybe other people will borrow
those for their own websites. I’ll need to make sure they’re not
linking directly to the images so that we aren’t paying for the
bandwidth, but it might be a good idea.

Mom could also write articles on photography. How to get started. How
to manage the business. Stuff from Papa’s talks.

Whatever it is, it needs to be something other people will find useful
or cool.

Random notes from meeting with Prof. Chignell

December 9, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Sharon Strauss, lead of the project. Introduction.

Order tree interface for searching. Clinical evidence at the point of
care. Doctors can’t remember what they were talaught in med school.
Young doctors remember the facts, but don’t have the skills and
experience. Reverse true for old doctors. Lots of details that people
can’t remember. Clinical evidence. Drug interactions. Big volumes of
clinical evidence. People are dying because doctors don’t have the
right information at the right time. Wireless handhelds. Data
formatting. Search engine. Design the interface. 30 seconds. Clinical

Electronic health records and combining those. Drug interaction,
online prescribing. Straight to the pharmacy.

Recording meetings. Playing back conversations. Speech transcriptions.
Visualizing meetings. NSlides from a lecture. Speech. Visualization of

Doctors. How doctors have conversations and how to record them. 45
minutes. One minute discussions. That night, new shift. Situation of
awareness. Make it available. Bullet round. Bullet round, couple of
students working on this for a class; requirements analysis done.

Very interesting topics: tracking tutoring data, bullet rounds for
medical data.

From Doc Mana: We made it to the finals!

December 11, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I am very proud to announce that Ateneo de Manila University’s
programming team, “Res cogitans”, made it to the
ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals
which will be held in Shanghai, China, on April 6, 2005.

The list of finalists is available from,

The team won second place in the Asia-Manila regional programming
contest on November 12, 2004, and solved 7 out of 8 programming
problems, the same number as first place winner, University of
Tokyo’ team, “Squeeze”. Ateneo’s team was also declared
“Philippine Champion”.

I believe that this is the first time a Filipino team ever made it to the
ACM-ICPC World Finals, since the contest started in 1977.

Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!

See, I _told_ you they’d do Really Cool Things…

E-Mail from Pablo Manalastas

Open Source Conference 2005 / Tokyo

December 11, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized
開催日時:2005年3月25日(金)・26日(土) 10:00-17:00
開催場所:日本電子専門学校 7号館(東京・大久保 2004と同じ会場です)
      OSPN(Open Source People Network)

ARGH! I’ll miss it!

E-Mail from Hiroshi Miura

On call centers

December 11, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Nix wrote about his unsavory experience with call center recruitment
at .

The excerpts make me really nervous about what people in the
Philippines are getting themselves into. I’m glad Nix had the critical
thinking skills to spot the dodgy segments and walk away, but what
about all those people who are grabbing at straws?

What can I do to make things better?

Evolution as a Planner user

December 11, 2004 - Categories: emacs

(Posted to emacs-wiki-discuss some time back.)

Me, I started by using Planner+Remember to scribble down random
thoughts and put them somewhere publishable. It’s kinda funny. Here’s
the very first entry I have on 2001.11.02:

 .#1 Playing with planner (linux, emacs)

 Today's been a busy day. I don't suppose I can get planner to nicely
 work with all the rest of emacs, can it? I rather like emacswiki...

 Alright, seems to be fine. Planner's actually pretty nifty. I'll pop
 the description into my remembrance agent index on the next scan, I
 suppose; maybe it'll be useful.

 I wonder if I can get the wiki to recognize non-wiki words. That would
 be pretty nice.

 Off to dinner with me now.

Used it for a week, then stopped using it. Resumed on 2002.06.20,
having discovered remember-mode and the joys of blogging. For two
months, used planner as a blog.

Then my 2002.08.17 epiphany note:

 .#1 Planner is actually quite useful. So is emacs-wiki.

That was when I started really using tasks. They were linked to
project pages, but I didn’t have Gnus integration then. The first time
I created a task based on an e-mail message seems to have been
2003.07.31. Almost a year of using Planner as just a blog, and that
was before planner-rss.el!

It took me another 8 months to realize that it would be a good idea if
I could make a task from an e-mail message _and_ assign it to a plan
page. My first such task is on my 2004.03.12 entry. (That’s this year!)

Somewhere along the way, we added a few modules for integrating with
other parts of Emacs, so we moved to more flexible URL handling. The
number of modules increased even more. People add stuff to link to
whatever they use frequently. For example, I added the planner-erc
module so that I could keep track of who asked for what planner
feature on #emacs… ^_^

So don’t worry, you don’t have to start with a really funky Planner
config. Use whatever you feel like using. Feel free to ask questions.
If something is missing, we’ll try to see if we can hack it in. =)

By the way, you don’t need to remember the history of planner. I
didn’t realize I took _that_ long to come up with obvious tweaks until
I, err, reviewed my planner files in the course of writing this
message. That’s why this community is such a wonderful, wonderful
resource. People come up with all the coolest things… =)

Novell Linux-Certified Professional

December 12, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Dominique‘s the first
Novell Linux-Certified Professional in the Philippines. He doesn’t
want to gloat on his blog. I, however, can gloat all I want.

Incidentally, he was also the first Microsoft Certified Solution
Developer in the Philippines.

Scrabble game with him. Me: 243, Dominique: 270. Waah. In the nicest
way possible.

On the Map

December 12, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized : street-level Flash-based map site for the Philippines. Nifty.
Thanks to Dominique for the link!

Kanji sentence for the day

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


選択してください。| Please choose.
新規作成を選択してください。| Please choose “New…”.
メニューファイルで、新規作成を選択してください。| Please choose “New…” from the File menu.

Kanji for last Saturday

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


ばいしゅうされました。| [It] was bought.

コンピューターメーカーに買収されました [It] was bought by a computer maker.

中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。| [It] was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker.
事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。| The business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker.
コンユーターの事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。| The computer business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker.
IBMのコンユーターの事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。| IBM’s computer business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker.
9日、IBMのコンユーターの事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。| IBM’s computer business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker on the 9th.

代表者によると、9日、IBMのコンユーターの事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。 According to a representative, IBM’s computer business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker on the 9th.
IBMの代表者によると、9日、IBMのコンユーターの事業は中国最大手のコンピューターメーカーに買収されました。 According to an IBM representative, IBM’s computer business was bought by China’s (big hand?) computer maker on the 9th.

More about call centers

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From Levi Guerrero:

While I must say that ePerformax’s contract does indeed reek of bull crap, I know for a fact that not all call centers in the Philippines operate that way. I’m a senior geek in what could be called a call center (though not in the usual sense of the term, in that our sales guys don’t sell stuff for other companies, but rather sell *our* stuff on behalf of *our* company — I otoh, maintain and enhance our internal web apps), my problems so far have been of the software-entropy-kind (and the occassional noisy-environment-kind), rather than the stupid-binding-contract-kind. Neither do the few friends I have in sales have any such problems — all they have to worry about is just doing what they were hired to do, and that’s selling. Their jobs don’t require them to be rocket scientists, but they most certainly don’t work under oppressive contracts such as that described by your friend Nix. What the “Philippines is getting into” is showing them Indians and Chinese that we Pinoys can be just as good or even better at what we do, whether it be selling or programming. Well, at least in my neck of the woods it is. Of course, as always, when wandering the various call centers in Ortigas and Makati, you’ll find that YMMV. :)

E-Mail from Richi’s server

More about call centers

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From Sean Uy:

I’m thinking that maybe the graduates should be warned
about going to work in the local call centers. It’s
good money, I suppose, but unless one’s a very
studious person, one’s technical skills are very
likely to stagnate.

That said, though, one of my blockmates ended up
sticking with his call center, and now he’s a
high-ranked manager with money to burn…

E-Mail from Sean Uy

Upcoming Dreamworks movie

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Penguins rock.

Of joy

December 13, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

“…it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets
tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness,
but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance,
in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially
enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not
absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality,
because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want
things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and
the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.”

Kanji sentence

December 14, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


減速する。| [It] will slow down.
伸びに減速する。| Growth will slow down.
1けたの伸びに減速する。| Growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure.
低迷などから1けたの伸びに減速する。| Because of sluggishness, growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure.
需要の低迷などから1けたの伸びに減速する。| Because demand is sluggish, growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure.
家電の需要の低迷などから1けたの伸びに減速する。| Because demand for home appliances is sluggish, growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure.
デジタル家電の需要の低迷などから1けたの伸びに減速する。| Because demand for digital home appliances is sluggish, growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure.
今年度はデジタル家電の需要の低迷などから1けたの伸びに減速する。| Because demand for digital home appliances is sluggish, growth will slow down to a 1-digit figure next financial year.

PLUG Christmas Party

December 14, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I would like to invite you to attend and celebrate with us in our upcoming
Christmas party and General Assembly this coming Saturday, December 18, 2004
which will be held at the Asia Pacific College, Magallanes, Makati City.
Kindly visit for more
information about the said affair.

Wish I could go!

E-Mail from Marvin Pascual

planner tweak: What am I supposed to be doing?

December 14, 2004 - Categories: emacs

This snippet helps me keep track of what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’ve bound it to F9 F9. Calling it with C-u brings me to the planner
page so that I can complete the current task or look at the context.
F9 F9 from that page will restore my window configuration.

(defvar sacha/window-register "w"
  "Register for jumping back and forth between planner and wherever I am.")
(defvar sacha/planner-current-task nil
  "Current task info.")
(defadvice planner-task-in-progress (after sacha activate)
  "Keep track of the task info."
  (setq sacha/planner-current-task (planner-current-task-info)))

(defun sacha/planner-what-am-i-doing (&optional prefix)
  "Make it easy to keep track of what I'm supposed to be working on.
If PREFIX is non-nil, jump to the current task, else display it
in a message. If called from the plan page, jump back to whatever
I was looking at."
  (interactive "P")
  (if planner-timeclock-current-task
      (if (string= (planner-task-page sacha/planner-current-task)
          (jump-to-register sacha/window-register)
        (if (null prefix)
            (message planner-timeclock-current-task)
          (frame-configuration-to-register sacha/window-register)
          (planner-find-file (planner-task-page sacha/planner-current-task))
          (planner-find-task sacha/planner-current-task)))
    (if prefix
      (message "No current task. HEY!"))))


Oh, blast. MIT application incomplete.

December 15, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

They need a paper copy of my transcript. Also, recommendation letters
from my teachers haven’t reached them yet.

I’ve probably deep-sixed my chances of going to MIT next year, as I
think I come across as an irresponsible person who can’t keep track of
deadlines and who will thus be perpetually late for other
requirements. And to think I maintain a personal information manager!

It’s true, though. I didn’t give this application as much care as I
should’ve. Something to learn from, I guess.

Kanji for the day

December 15, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

このセミナーは事前登録にて会費無料となっておりますのでお気軽にご参加ください。| This seminar’s registration is free of charge, so please join!

Personal blog

December 15, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Personal stuff will now be posted on . There be dragons. Here,
however, will be lots of Emacs hackery and technical goodness.

Kanji for the day

December 16, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

hajimete au hito to hanasu toki, kinjou shinaide ganbatte kudasai.

頑張ってきださい。| Try your best.
緊張しないで頑張ってきださい。| Try your best not to be nervous.
話す時、緊張しないで頑張ってきださい。| Try your best not to be nervous when you speak.
初めて会う人と話す時、緊張しないで頑張ってきださい。| Try your best not to be nervous when you speak to someone you’ve just met for the first time.

Updating the timelog

December 16, 2004 - Categories: emacs

I often update my task descriptions. We haven’t found a neat way to do
this in-buffer, so I use planner-edit-task-description. However, if I
update the task description or replan a task, my timelog data gets out
of date. This code snippet updates all matching tasks in the timelog,
and can serve as an example for code that updates things after a task
is edited.

(defadvice planner-replan-task (around sacha/planner-timeclock activate)
  "Update the timelog as well. Warning! Do not have duplicate tasks!"
  (let ((info (planner-current-task-info)))
    (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect timeclock-file)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (while (re-search-forward
               "^. [^ ]+ [^ ]+ "
               (regexp-quote (planner-task-plan info))
               ": "
               (regexp-quote (planner-task-description info))
              nil t)
        (replace-match (ad-get-arg 0) t t nil 1))
      (kill-buffer (current-buffer)))))

(defadvice planner-edit-task-description (around sacha/planner-timeclock activate)
  "Update the timelog as well. Warning! Do not have duplicate tasks!"
  (let ((info (planner-current-task-info)))
    (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect timeclock-file)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (while (re-search-forward
               "^. [^ ]+ [^ ]+ "
               (regexp-quote (planner-task-plan info))
               ": "
               (regexp-quote (planner-task-description info))
              nil t)
        (replace-match (ad-get-arg 0) t t nil 1))
      (setq planner-timeclock-current-task (ad-get-arg 0))
      (kill-buffer (current-buffer)))))

Factors for idea growth

December 16, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From ParaMode in ZhurnalWiki :

But the history of Para mode does highlight three deep sources of
that, in one form or another, lie behind all successful new
ideas —- and not just in the software realm. Those power sources are:

- a boundless extensibility —- the potential to modify, customize,

and reconfigure something far beyond the original conception.
People’s minds have that. So do human languages and mathematical
systems. So does software … provided the initial developers don’t
get selfish and lock the doors to change.

- a solid foundation —- something to build upon that does at least

part of the job well, something reliable yet elegant and æsthetic.
It’s impossible to do everything ourselves; we must rely on the work
of our ancestors.

- a culture of sharing —- so that several people, each with a piece

of the jigsaw puzzle, can get together and come up with a solution.
Sharing works well (or should) within a family, a small group, or a
properly-run company. Ill-wrought “Intellectual Property Rights”
laws, however, truncate the sharing process and give short-term
profits to idea-squatters … at the expense of long-term progress
for all.

ParaMode in ZhurnalWiki

Refactoring Planner annotation code

December 16, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Many planner files just contain code for creating hyperlinks from the
current buffer. This does not have anything to do with the idea of
planning, but simply makes planning information available from more

If we separate this functionality from planner.el, we can make it
easier for people to play around with context-sensitive hyperlinking
without having to deal with planner’s complexity.

To make it easy for other people to play around with this, the
composition function needs to be flexible. Annotations should be
returned as (uri text) pairs, and a -composition-function can put the
two together in the appropriate format, escaping as necessary.
Highlighting will be provided in a separate file that defines a minor
mode that can be placed anywhere.

Other people’s code for creating annotations, then, would just involve
calling -get-uri, or -as-kill, or -to-string. We can use the hook
mechanism to get the appropriate annotations for the current buffer.
-core.el will provide a method for resolving links, and it should be
something that can be used as browse-url-browser-function.

planner code also specifies how to mark up links. If we’re moving the
annotation code into a layer that doesn’t know about publishing, what
will happen to the code? In that case, we will define URL
transformation functions in either emacs-wiki or planner. Yes, that
would work…

I need to think of a good name for it. uri.el? Yeah, that sounds okay.

YDC Festival: Puppet shows

December 16, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I caught the tail end of a puppet show carried out with store-bought
dolls: Barbie, Billikin… I was surprised at how far one could get
with a lapel mike, a box frame, nice backgrounds, and wire hooks to
hang dolls from. It might be fun to do something like that for kids.

On the virtues of idleness

December 17, 2004 - Categories: life

Read Quitting the Paint Factory and reflect a bit on the space we should create in our lives. =)

Kanji of the day

December 17, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


送り返します。| [It] sends [it] back.
情報を送り返します。| [It] sends back information.
対応する情報を送り返します。| [It] sends back the corresponding information.
それに対応する情報を送り返します。| [It] sends back the information corresponding to [that].
wwwサーバーはそれに対応する情報を送り返します。| The web server sends back the information corresponding to [that].
受信すると、wwwサーバーはそれに対応する情報を送り返します。| When [it] is received, the Web server sends back the information corresponding to [it].
要求を受信すると、wwwサーバーはそれに対応する情報を送り返します。| When the request is received, the Web server sends back the information corresponding to the request.
Webブラウザから要求を受信すると、wwwサーバーはそれに対応する情報を送り返します。| When a request is received from a Web browser, the Web server sends back the information corresponding to the request.

Summarizing reading 8-2-1

December 17, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


Tip: For summaries, end sentences with nouns like こと or 原因.

The uses of darou: だろう

December 17, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

In writing, 本当のだろうか is preferred over 本当ですか. のでしょうか
is the polite form.

Other uses of darou

1. 推測 (guess, conjecture) だろう でしょう
2. 疑問 (question) のでしょうか のだろうか
3. 原因、理由の推測 のでしょう のだろう
4. 主張 (persuasion) (の)ではないでしょうか (の)ではないだろうか

Linux advocacy: not just preaching to the choir

December 17, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Graphical user interfaces have their advantages and disadvantages.
While they present information in an easy-to-understand manner and
make it easier for new users to start doing powerful things by hiding
the details, this detail-hiding could also lull users into a false
sense of competency. Although desktop users may not need to mind this
problem that much if their computer was set up properly,
administrators need to be careful about this. Administrator used to
point-and-click tools may come to believe that Linux requires very
little maintenance instead of being as vigilant as they should be.
I know I’m not administrator material! <laugh>

Command-line interfaces can also be friendlier to power users than
graphical user interfaces are because command-line interfaces are
easier to script and automate. They make batch operations easier. For
example, I _could_ use a graphical file explorer to rename files,
but why rename files individually when a command like ‘rename’ lets
me do that with a little typing?

You can’t expect newbies to know about these little tips and tricks,
though. So how will people learn these nifty shortcuts? That’s where
guides and gurus come in. Newbies can start with graphical interfaces
so that they get used to the system. However, they should also
remember that more is possible. Exploring the menus and the help often
turns up interesting features you might not have learned about
otherwise, and that’s one way newbies can progress toward mastery.
However, many things are not exposed through menus. If you read a
Linux guide or ask a Linux guru for help, you may learn far more.

People can happily use Linux without recompiling their kernel or
running programs off CVS. I feel, however, that every newbie should
have someone to run to with questions, someone who’ll occasionally
pass on tips or remind them to do things like update their software.
We need gurus to show us the power of the command-line, to inspire us
by showing us the tips and tricks they’ve discovered over the years.

That’s why Linux advocacy doesn’t stop when you’ve convinced someone
to use Linux, but rather continues as you show people how to do even
more wonderful things.

E-Mail to ph-linux-newbie

Philippine OSS news: NCC eGov Center for Excellence

December 17, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From JJ Disini:

The NCC launched its eGov Center for Excellence on Monday. Maybe I’m
wrong but I think this is a signficant development in FLOSS adoption
in government projects. Fore more info, see:

E-Mail from JJ Disini


December 18, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I love knitting
I love knitting

Scarf, bunched up
Scarf, bunched up

Wearing the scarf
Wearing the scarf
Wearing the scarf

I’m giving this as a gift tomorrow, so I have to take pictures of it
today… <laugh>

Emacs Lisp mentioned in job ad

December 18, 2004 - Categories: emacs
 job --> "SDE, Tech Assessment Team - US-WA-Seattle
          equivalent, proficiency with at least one functional language (such
          as Lisp, ML, or Haskell), strong Java 2... modeling, and emacs-lisp
          programming are strong plusses. External/Internal Candidates
          .Location: Seattle"
 "emacs-lisp programming strong plus". when will you ever see that


Scrabble with Sean

December 18, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized
sachachua 316
wintermarch 288

Random cool stuff on the Net

December 20, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

From Clair:

I stumbled upon this page

I got a link from
about a song featuring elements from the periodic
table (which is here:

I couldn’t help but have a kick out of these cats
looking at the screen, watching other cats, watching
other cats. *laughs*

E-Mail from clair ching

Anything But Microsoft Retail Store Pushes Linux, Open Source

December 20, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Yet another good reason to go to Toronto. Hey, if their geek community
can sustain something like this… <laugh>

From Manny Amador’s post to openminds_ph:

Anything But Microsoft Retail Store Pushes Linux, Open Source
By W. David Gardner, TechWeb News

The Linux and open source software movement has a retail store ” possibly
the only one in North America ” and it is offering a low-cost, very
lightweight laptop computer that is devoid of Microsoft software.

The Sub300 store could be called a Mecca for the Anything But Microsoft
crowd. The store’s president, Marc Silverman, says most people who contact
the store do so because of an intense dislike for Microsoft.

“A lot of people are sick of Microsoft and Bill Gates,” he said in an
interview. “They hate that their computers crash once a week. They hate
viruses. They hate paying so much for Microsoft software.”

On Friday, Silverman announced that his Toronto-based store will begin an
intense marketing campaign of its Ultralite Laptop for $799.
The 2.9-pound laptop has the Linspire Linux operating system and
OpenOffice software including word processor, spreadsheet and data base

“We are avoiding the ‘Microsoft tax,’” said Silverman, adding that
Microsoft software can add from $200 to $400 to the cost of a PC or
laptop. He said customers have been drawn to the store and its offerings
for a variety of reasons, most of which are based in a dislike of
Microsoft products.

Many are driven to seek out the Sub300 store because they are frustrated
by the high number of spam, viruses, worms and other computer cyber
pestilences that attack Microsoft software. Others like the low prices.
Silverman believes still others will be attracted to the firm’s extremely
lightweight Ultralite Laptop. In addition to the Linux operating system,
the laptop features a 1GHz VIA processor, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive,
PCMCIA slots, Ethernet and USB links, as well as a 12.1-inch TFT display.
The laptop is made in Taiwan for Sub300. (Because of currency differences
the store is known as Sub500 in Canada.) Silverman and the store’s
co-owner, brother David Silverman, believe that stores specializing in
Linux and open source software have a bright future. “Linux-based software
is only now beginning to reach the desktop and PC market,” he said. Marc
Silverman said visitors have come from the U.S. and even from as far as
Germany to visit his store. Located next to a school in Toronto, the store
is often visited by high school students. Silverman said when they use
Sub300 computers, they don’t realize they have no Microsoft software on

Silverman said he believes the Sub300 store is the only store specializing
in Linux and open source software in North America. He said there is a
similar store in Australia. Supporting U.S. sales, Sub300 operates a
warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y.

E-Mail from Manny Amador

E-mail indexing

December 21, 2004 - Categories: emacs

I’m now using swish++ to index and search my mail. It’s really handy,
particularly with the patched nnir.el and
doc/examples/email_indexing/Email-Indexing-Mini-Howto.txt . I’ve set
it up to index my misc mail and my planner mail, as those are the
things I search rather often. Should set it up to incrementally index
things before I go to sleep.

The Graphing Calculator Story

December 22, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

The power of skunkworks – how an unofficial team of developers got a
really cool application together.

My skunkworks project was beginning to look real with help from these professionals as well as others in graphic design, documentation, programming, mathematics, and user interface. The secret to programming is not intelligence, though of course that helps. It is not hard work or experience, though they help, too. The secret to programming is having smart friends.

I view the events as an experiment in subverting power structures. I had none of the traditional power over others that is inherent to the structure of corporations and bureaucracies. I had neither budget nor headcount. I answered to no one, and no one had to do anything I asked. Dozens of people collaborated spontaneously, motivated by loyalty, friendship, or the love of craftsmanship. We were hackers, creating something for the sheer joy of making it work.

On the cult of personality

December 22, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Following a link from plug-org, I came across Linus Torvalds’ answers
to the following questions in

- What Linux myths or misconceptions do you find particularly galling?

I don’t get upset that easily, so I can’t say that there is any in particular that I find galling. One myth
that I find interesting, but which has nothing to do with Linux or even the IT sector in particular, is the
myth of how a single person or even a single company makes a huge difference in the market. It’s the belief
that things happen because somebody was visionary and “planned” it that way. Sometimes the people themselves
seem to believe it, and then the myth becomes hubris.

I have to continually try to explain to people that no, I don’t “control” what happens in Linux. It’s about
having an environment that is conducive to development, not so much about any particular leader. And I think
that is true in most cases, be it the “great sport coach” or the “great spiritual leader.”

- I’ve always been skeptical of the great man theory of history,

though it’s had its moments. On the flip side, you clearly have had a
pretty big influence over Linux, and Linux has a big influence over
the computing industry. Has Linux made you more humble or has it
boosted your ego?

Hey, it’s not like my ego was that small to begin with, but Linux sure as hell hasn’t made me more humble.
What it has done is to make me realize just how much the movers and shakers really do depend on the
environment they are in, or have been able to build up around them. And while that still doesn’t make me
humble, it hopefully keeps me at least a bit more grounded.

And I’m not trying to say that individuals don’t matter. Individuals do matter, and I’m a huge believer in
the theory that a motivated and smart person can do more than a thousand people who aren’t. But what matters
more than any individual is the kind of environment that brings in the people who shine. One of the things I
think Linux has succeeded really well at is to let people shine.

E-Mail from

Windows XP Demo offer for students

December 23, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized


Think you’re an expert in Windows XP and can present in front of small
(5-10) or large (100-300) people? Be part of the Windows eXPerience
Tour! From now till January 7, we are looking for students who are
full of energy (and patience) to demos the latest, the greatest, and
the coolest features of Windows XP.

PLUS! If you are graduating college senior, get a chance to OJT and
Intern at Microsoft.

All those who are interested. Please e-mail me at

Hmm. I want to do something similar, but for Linux. (Naturally.) We
don’t need to wait for conferences or other formally-organized events;
we can (and should! =) ) do Linux demos for our friends. It doesn’t
have to be anything fancy. Show people how you can surf the Net
without popups while still enjoying Flash and Java. (I play Scrabble
all the time.) Show Gimp’s Script-Fu. Talk about the free software
you’ve tried out and liked. =)

E-Mail from Mark Punzalan


December 25, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized
sudo mount -t smbfs -o codepage=cp932,iocharset=utf8 //\ _files mnt

smbmount japanese codepage conversion failure

Proof-of-concept code for autosensing task information

December 27, 2004 - Categories: emacs
(defun sacha/planner-create-task-from-buffer ()
  (let ((annotation (run-hook-with-args-until-success 'planner-annotation-functions))
        (default-text "")
        (case-fold-search t))
    (setq planner-default-page
          (if (and (planner-derived-mode-p 'planner-mode)
                   (not (string-match planner-date-regexp
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (when (and (re-search-forward "^+++" nil t)
                 (re-search-forward "^@@" nil t))
        (setq default-text "Merge patch for ")))
    (setq task-text (read-string "Describe task: "
    (when (or (string-match "planner" annotation)
              (string-match "planner" task-text))
      (setq planner-default-page "PlannerModeMaintenance"))
    (setq date (cond
                ;; Universal prefix means pick up from current page
                ((and current-prefix-arg
                      (derived-mode-p 'planner-mode)
                      (string-match planner-date-regexp (planner-page-name)))
                ;; Date selected in calendar
                ((condition-case nil (calendar-cursor-to-date) (error nil))
                 (planner-date-to-filename (calendar-cursor-to-date)))
                ;; Prompt for date
                (t (let ((planner-expand-name-favor-future-p
                          (or planner-expand-name-favor-future-p
    (setq plan
          (if (and current-prefix-arg (planner-derived-mode-p 'planner-mode)
                   (not (string-match planner-date-regexp (planner-page-name))))
              ;; Universal prefix means pick up from current page
    (planner-create-task-from-buffer task-text date plan)))



December 27, 2004 - Categories: emacs
(defun sacha/planner-strip-task-numbers ()
  (while (re-search-forward "^#.\\([0-9]+\\)\\s-+.\\s-+" nil t)
    (replace-match "" t t nil 1))


Waah. Bad day, code-wise

December 27, 2004 - Categories: emacs

A bit of code thrashing in planner.el as I… err… committed silly
mistakes. How embarrassing. I’m so, so sorry. I hope no one caught
planner in the middle of broken-ness.

FreeBSD installation plans

December 27, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

I would like to install FreeBSD, just for kicks. I need a primary
partition free, though. That means I’ll need to move my root partition
over, as everything else is on an extended partition.

Keeping track of time with planner-timeclock and planner-timeclock-summary

December 29, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Today I discovered the immense usefulness of keeping track of time. I
had converted the TODO my teammate sent me into entries in my
JapanProject plan page, and before starting my work I came up with
rough estimates of the time it would take me to do the tasks. I also
marked which tasks I felt were best suited for my coworker so that he
could get started without worrying about conflicts. I like working on
little tasks first, so I estimated the time it would take me to
complete each task and sorted by my estimates using the ‘sort’ command
and some cutting and pasting.

Then the fun began. I wanted to see if I could match my estimates.
Before I started working on a task, I used C-c TAB to mark it ‘in
progress’ and start the clock. When I finished it, I used C-c C-x
(planner-task-done) to mark it completed and automatically clock out.
This is not yet done for cancelled tasks, so I clocked out of those
manually with C-c C-o (timeclock-out). I also clocked out whenever I
caught myself being distracted so that the totals wouldn’t include the
time I spent chatting on #emacs or checking out links. ;)
At the end of the day, I used
‘planner-timeclock-summary-show-range-filter’ to show me the time
elapsed for all of the tasks I’d worked on over the past two days.
Here’s the report for that project, edited to reflect how it looks on
my screen and annotated with comments:

Timeclock summary report for 2004.12.28 – 2004.12.29

Project Time| Ratio| Task

JapanProject| 0:23:17| 3.6%| Translate javadoc comment for

0:33:48| 5.3%| Translate javadoc comment for
1:54:07| 17.8%| Study Struts in Japanese
0:46:08| 7.2%| Add javadoc tags for input, output and forwards
1:03:48| 9.9%| Help review code
0:04:14| 0.7%| Import todo list
0:00:37| 0.1%| 2min Fix Menu Action’s unnecessary code (delegated)
0:01:01| 0.2%| 2min Remove unnecessary list in UserRemoveSetupAction (cancelled)
0:02:10| 0.3%| 2min Remove hard-coded database path from MenuAction
0:02:46| 0.4%| 30min Create a superclass for our action classes that handles initialization of database and handling of privileges – remove all privilege handling in logic classes. …
0:07:32| 1.2%| 5min Add a method that returns the validity of a user in MUserPeer.
0:08:28| 1.3%| 5min Fix indentation
0:03:52| 0.6%| 10min Fix UserPeer so that it doesn’t get null pointer exceptions
0:04:34| 0.7%| 5min Add current password field in user_modify page (cancelled)
0:21:56| 3.4%| 15min Make a super class for our service classes that will receive the database connection. (cancelled)
0:06:05| 0.9%| 10min Remove hard-coded constants from the Logic classes
0:10:55| 1.7%| 10min Move logic from UserBean.checkPassword to UserListLogic
0:01:20| 0.2%| 20min Guard against null pointer exceptions in peer classes
0:04:57| 0.8%| 10min Instead of displaying uneditable data with bean:write, just disable the html:text element
0:25:03| 3.9%| 10min Deploy 10:00 version
0:04:46| 0.7%| 5min Separate the configuration file of database and system into another uninternationalized property file.
2:09:48| 20.2%| 1h Decide on a naming convention for localized messages and update files
0:00:07| 0.0%| 20min Explain what is happening in UserModifyAction’s nested ifs (pending)
1:50:23| 17.2%| 2h Write Javadoc comments in English and Japanese to explain bean structure
0:04:19| 0.7%| 2h Write Javadoc comments in English and Japanese to explain peer operations (pending)
0:05:40| 0.9%| 20min Make a factory class for the database (pending)
Total: 10:41:41|100.0%|

Day began: 13:03:58, Day ended: 20:51:46
Time elapsed: 31:47:48, Time clocked: 10:41:41
Time clocked ratio: 33.6%

The time record isn’t perfect. I cancelled some tasks after thinking
about them a little and did some tasks simultaneously. Sometimes I
didn’t notice that I was getting distracted, too. Still, having all of
that time information neatly summarized made me realize a number of

First, I goof off much less when I have a nice, broken-down task list
in front of me. There’s just something about knowing there’s a five-
or ten-minute hack you can get out of the way. I found myself looking
forward to getting to the next task just to see if I could make my
estimate. That said, seeing a five-minute task stretch and stretch due
to unforeseen problems did make me a little nervous. I should probably
just make generous estimates so that I don’t end up with bugs because
of haste.

Second, I don’t goof off as much as I thought I did, although there’s
still room for improvement. Yesterday’s workday was 9:00 – 12:00, 1:00
- 5:30—7.5 hours. Today was the last day of work, so cleaning and
celebration interrupted my hacking at around 3:00—5 hours of work.
According to my task list, 10:41/12:30 was productive work. Hmm. 1:49
hours unclocked time when I was thinking or goofing off.
planner-timeclock-summary-show for today reveals that I actually
clocked 5:30 today, which means the goofing off happened yesterday.
That makes sense; I remember a pretty long unclocked segment
recuperating from Japanese overload. (This was before we came up with
the task list.)

Third, keeping track of time is way, way cool even if you don’t bill
anyone for your time.

Like the idea? It’s easy to try out. If you use the development
version of planner, just add

(require 'planner-timeclock)
(require 'planner-timeclock-summary)

to your ~/.emacs. If you want to try it out now, eval those statements
in your Emacs session. After that, simply use C-c TAB to ‘clock in’ a
task before you start working on it, and use C-c C-x
(planner-task-done) to mark it completed. To see a summary of how you
spent your day, check out the different functions in

If you use the stable version of Planner, you
can grab planner-timeclock.el
and planner-timeclock-summary.el from , try out the
dev version, or cherry-pick the relevant arch patches. If it works for
you too, please e-mail me so that we can merge it into stable! =) (I
tend to trust myself very little, seeing how I manage to screw up dev
from time to time.)

Happy hacking!

Interview: Chris G. Haravata

December 30, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Asia Pacific College is one of the best
examples of Linux education in the Philippines and a favorite venue
for Linux- and tech-related events. I e-mailed a few questions to
Chris Haravata, who started the Open Source Lab.

1. Why did you start the Open Source Laboratory, and how would you
describe your progress so far?

When I was still the system/network administrator of APC
2 years ago, I’d already wanted to put up something that would let me
work (read as research) on Linux alone. After I took a month-long
leave back in July 2001, I embarked on setting up the Open Source
Research and Development Group (OSRDG) as it was formerly known.
Finally, on January of 2002, I was given a couple of workstations, a
couple of servers, and some pats on the back for thinking about this.
The only consideration was that I rename it to something else, as the
management abhorred anything named Research and Development. So, the
Open Source Laboratories was born, with the main objective being R&D,
but seconded by teaching these researched materials to
students… much like a transferance of knowledge.

The progress? I would say it has been a great 2 years for the OSL. One of
the good things that came out of the OSL is the addition in the Curriculum
of a 4-term course named OSS, a full-Linux study, of and about Linux
(device driver development, GUI programming, creating your own Linux via
LinuxFromScratch, etc). Students at APC now have confidence in using
Linux in their everyday lives. Whereas before…

2. What was the biggest problem you faced setting up the Open Source Lab
and how did you deal with it?

Logistics! Just like in any new venture, this would be
the biggest problem to hurdle. But with the use of about 26 Pentium
100s, a couple of 16-port unknown switches, and one roll of UTP
cables, I’ve managed to set up the laboratory, with the use of [Linux
Terminal Server Project]. My initial installation of LTSP two years
ago is still the same installation up until now, with just a few
additions and alterations.

3. How did you get students interested in Linux?

That’s easy! We integrated Linux into their studies… parang we force them
into it. I’ve found out over the past couple of years that if you give
students choices on what to use, they will readily turn to the Dark Side,
since that would be the easiest way out. But if they find out that they
HAVE to learn it or fail the subject, then you will be surprised at the
outcome. Students, later on, come to me and say “Sir, thank you nga pala.
Kung hindi dahil sa course nyo, hindi ako matatanggap sa trabaho ko ngayon.”
The feeling of hearing those words will really make wonders to your heart.

4. What are some of the coolest projects that have come out of the Open
Source Lab?

I can’t say they’re the coolest ever, but since they came out of the
OSL without any help from outside forces, I’d say [one project] would
be the Student Login/Logout Facility using a Smart Card and a Reader,
being used in tandem with Linux. I’ve seen so many products using the
card and the reader, but none of them ran entirely on Linux. It is now
being used. Parents and guardians can simply call the OSL and find out
if their child is in school or not. Cool, no?

There are others, like the IPv6 research we have been doing. Now, THAT
is making a headway! We can now do several servers all running on
IPv6. Though still not pure, as they still need to piggyback over
IPv4, but at least, we are the only school in the country (that I’ve
heard of) doing such a thing.

5. What are you planning to do next?

[...] I believe that that office can do wonders, with the right person
at the helm (ehem, ehem.. hahaha) and with the backing of the
management. There is a limitless potential to Linux. As I always
tell my students, biases aside, Linux will be the computing platform
of tomorrow, if not today!

E-Mail to Chris G. Haravata

Surrounding myself with ideas

December 30, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

If I had my own house, I’d scribble on its walls. Perhaps the walls
will be made of glass backed by white paper so that I can paint and
draw on it, washing off old work and doodling on new work. Perhaps
they will be enormous whiteboards or blackboards set into the walls,
with colored markers or chalk everywhere. I want to surround myself
with ideas, mindmaps, little sketches, notes. I want a house that
changes every day, a house that lets me be creative.

(Got that insight after reading about the real use of white ceilings
as set out in

Open Source Speaks Your Language

December 30, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

(title needs tweaking)

English is the language of education, business and government in the
Philippines, but many people are not as fluent in English as they are
in Tagalog and other dialects. As a result, they find it difficult to
use English-only software, learning how to use programs through rote
memorization and relying on icons and positions to find commands. This
discourages them from exploring the computer or improving their skills
on their own, and increases resistance to change.

With the rapid progress of volunteer efforts like the Debian Tagalog
project, it would not be surprising if a full open source desktop in
Tagalog and other dialects would be available in a few years’ time.
Because these programs are free to download and use, computer shops,
cybercafes, schools, and offices would include them in standard
installations. People would be free to explore computers and learn how
to use them, not hampered by the dual barriers of language and

The Philippine software market is too small for multinational
companies like Microsoft to consider localization as economically
viable. Piracy reduces the attractiveness of the market even further.
Unlike other Asian countries, we do not require special alphabets or
fonts in order to produce documents required by government and
industry. Localization does not offer a competitive advantage that can
be exploited by closed-source software.

On the other hand, open source is uniquely suited for localization
efforts. Communities do not have to wait for companies to decide to
produce localized versions. They can make the changes themselves. More
importantly, they can use and distribute the modified software so that
other people can benefit from their work, narrowing the digital divide
and making technology available even for people who are not
comfortable with English.

In this scenario, a number of issues present themselves. Would
employers discriminate against experience in localized open source
software on the grounds that those skills may not translate to English
closed source software? Would the popularity of translated software
result in the deterioration of functional English skills, making us
less globally competitive? Would dialects further fragment our IT
industry along regional boundaries while making it difficult for
people to take advantage of worldwide resources?

Skill transference is an important consideration. Job advertisements
specify “Microsoft Office experience.” Employers may be hesitant to
hire someone who doesn’t have all the buzzwords listed. Schools train
people in popular software so that new graduates can work right away.
Business-minded students and professionals worry that their experience
in open source alternatives like will not be recognized
by employers. As open source software grows in features and
compatibility, not only will transitioning to equivalent closed source
software become easier, but using open source alternatives
side-by-side with or even in lieu of closed source software will
become more feasible.

What about the English language? Wouldn’t promoting localized
computing negatively affect English language skills and reduce one of
our competitive advantages over other Asian nations? We promote the
use of English in classrooms and offices. Wouldn’t localization be a
step back? Wouldn’t people find it difficult to use non-localized
software? On the contrary, localized software can help strengthen
people’s communication skills. With confidence based on their
experience with native-language applications, people can then explore
English applications with the benefit of having solid mental
constructs to which they can then assign English terms.

With the wealth of regional dialects in the Philippines, wouldn’t
localization further divide our fledgling IT industry along regional
boundaries? On the contrary, developing regional centers of excellence
in computing will help the industry grow, and bring the benefits of IT
to people previously excluded by their unfamiliarity with technical
English. If the applications people use were available not only in
English but also in regional dialects, then more people would be
encouraged to explore how they can be more productive with computers.
Knowledge is not trapped within a single community, but shared with
other regions and the world through community members who are
comfortable with English or multiple dialects.

Localization is one of the most powerful advantages offered by open
source software. Open source is about freedom and choice, and
translation efforts springing up around the country are a shining
example of how the ability to modify software allows people to add
value to it for their community. Volunteers working on translation and
localization of open source software are not doing it for themselves,
but rather to make it easier for their family, friends and townmates
to learn more about computing and use computers to improve their
lives. Through open source, Filipinos open doors.

Other interesting resources:

Debian Tagalog Translation Team

Filipino Linux Documentation Project

Ramil Sagum, aspell-tl

Jan Alonzo, packaging aspell-tl for Debian

Open source’s local heroes

Web browser speaks Xhosa

Snow picture

December 30, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Me in the snow

From yesterday, 2004.12.29

January in review

December 30, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

- 1/1: I kept one resolution: to chat with friends often.
- 1/4: Dominique had a run-in with Neko. He was amused by how I kept him anonymous in the anecdote.
- 1/11: Helped my dad with the computer, learning more about him in the process
- 1/12: More about people around me
- 1/15: Photo shoot with Mobile Philippines. Videoke with my sister. Candy during midterms = good thing.
- 1/16: Went for the Cosmo VTR. Nothing happened.
- 1/18: Ran into Sean at the scifi convention. It’s odd meeting someone after a long time.
- 1/19: Reflected on the second sem.
- 1/23: Reflected on moving into Ching’s room. Also, reflected on difficulties students were having with my exercises.
- 1/24: First piece of flash fiction.
- 1/28: Students found stepwise decomposition easier than nested loops.
- 1/30: “A Stone’s Throw” – first piece of flash fiction that impressed my friends.

February in review

December 30, 2004 - Categories: emacs

- 2/4: Wrote “A Fairy Tale”. Many repercussions.
- 2/10: My students found this exchange hilarious. Continued here.
- 2/15: planner-rss.el; yay!
- 2/17: Reflected on tests
- 2/20: Lecture notes on file systems
- 2/23: The Great Planner Split: divided planner.el into lots of little files.
- 2/26: Interesting ideas for planner. 5 out of 7 – way cool!

More Filipinos into open source development

December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

sachac: there’s also my former work colleague – pol babao III -

he’s the author of phpmylibrary.


December 31, 2004 - Categories: emacs

Lots of Planner hacking.

- 3/7: Techie dinner with William, Miguel and Jijo. Told him about fai. It made his Shopwise project lots of fun.
- 3/25: Long reflection about planner.
- 3/27: My first batch of students graduates.
- 3/30: Zapped my home directory. Lost my secret key.


December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

- 4/3: Assigned ERC copyright to GNU. Yay!
- 4/8: Sand cats
- 4/13: Started aikido
- 4/14: Posted teaching evaluations
- 4/15: 2nd sem reflections on teaching
- 4/17: Get rescued by Dominique from Kathy’s clubbing gimmick
- 4/22: Lots of teaching-related notes
- 4/23: Stories about high school competitions
- 4/29: Benefits of small commits


December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

- 5/12: Reflections on the Getting Things Done methodology

Boring month. ;)


December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

Many notes on cooking and teaching.

- 6/27: The start of my life as a street performer / amateur arsonist


December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized

7/21 Made it to the shortlist of the AOTS program, then 7/28 finally got confirmed. 7/30 Said goodbye. 7/30 Also got hooked on social bookmarking.

And the rest of the year passed by in a blur

December 31, 2004 - Categories: !Uncategorized
August Turned 21. Threw birthday party/send-off party. Didn’t blog much; was very busy.
September, 2004.10.01 Japanese language studies. Lots of lectures blogged.
November Training at MSI. Met Prof. Chignel of UToronto. Gave talk on PIM for Tokyo Linux Users Group.
December More Japanese langueg studies.

Somewhere along the way, Dominique and I formalized our relationship.
=) (Don’t ask me when, though; I don’t know.)

More open source work

December 31, 2004 - Categories: opensource
 sachac: you'd be remiss if you don't include pmana's work. ;)
 and of course, iptraf is by a pinoy.