February 2005

Weekend with dds and Ben

February 1, 2005 - Categories: geek, japan

dds and his friend Ben came up to Tokyo last weekend, and I had tons of fun hanging out with them. We met at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogaku at 10:00 last Saturday morning. There was a bit of a mixup; I thought I was supposed to meet Sebastian Duval then as well, but it turned out that was supposed to be Sunday. Whoops.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum was a fascinating glimpse of Tokyo before it was Tokyo. I particularly liked the intricately carved minatures showing the architecture of Japanese houses. The splendid portable shrines were also remarkable, as was the elaborate kabuki display. Pity I'd forgotten my camera then! I hope Ben will post pictures soon.

After the museum, we headed over to Akihabara, a must-see spot for all electronics geeks. We had lunch at a little noodle shop near the station. It took me a while to slurp down my hot tanuki udon ( dds teased me about having a cat's tongue), so Ben went off to browse through the bewildering array of electronic devices. Splitting up is normally a Very Bad Idea because Akihabara's just so big, but dds reassured him that we'd be able to find him.

Yeah, right.

Hours later and still no sight of Ben. I started panicking. Poor guy didn't know Japanese. He knew Ben's cellphone number, but I wasn't sure if he knew how to use the phones. We waited by the noodle shop just in case he decided to retrace his steps; no Ben. We made a number of circuits of Akihabara; no Ben. We finally found him near a telephone booth on the far side of a wide street, looking very lost and rather tired.

He didn't get much sleep on the night train, and he really needed to take a nap. We took the train to Shinjuku and started looking for the capsule hotel dds found on the Net. We trudged through a red light / love hotel district, which was a rather strange experience. (Fortunately, it was still early afternoon.) Not a capsule hotel in sight. Eventually we gave up and decided to look for an Internet cafe or a karaoke box we could leave Ben in; those places have relatively cheap hourly rates and a karaoke box is soundproof as well. After a lot of backtracking, we found a reasonable karaoke place that had a promo until 7:00. We left Ben there and started looking for that capsule hotel.

dds was well-prepared. He had a GPS phone with a map that tracked his current position _and_ a watch with a built-in compass, so we confidently set off to find the capsule hotel that was top on his list. We crossed to the other side of Shinjuku station... wandered through a winding alley of little restaurants... wandered around some more... and realized we were well and truly lost, although we knew exactly where we were.

So I popped into a store and asked for directions. (It's fun being a girl.)

... and asked another store for directions...

... and then looked at a map near an underground walkway—they always have maps of the vicinity, which are very handy...

... and then found the capsule hotel...

... right beside the karaoke place.

At least we didn't have to walk very far to get back.

Ben was still sleeping, so dds and I chatted in the cafe first. Had my first hot chocolate of the weekend.

After that, we picked up Ben, showed him the capsule hotel next door, and had a good laugh about the exercise. Heh.

I wasn't quite sure what to do in Tokyo at night—I'm not a nightlife person, you know—but I took them to Harajuku anyway to show them some costume shops and other weird things. That was okay, although not particularly impressive.

After that, we had a somewhat unsatisfying dinner at a small Japanese restaurant. There's a first time for everything, I guess, so that was more of a learning experience than dinner. Not that I was hungry afterwards, but anyway... =)

We walked around a little bit, then they decided to turn in; they were tired from the trip and they wanted to get a good start tomorrow. So I went back to the dorm, looked up nice places to go on the Net, and e-mailed dds an itinerary that included some of the architectural stuff he wanted to see.

After a good night's sleep, I met them at the corner in front of their capsule hotel. We ate breakfast at Matsuya, a 24h store that offers (among other things) a natto combo set. 'Natto' is a dish of fermented soybeans, which most people find a little odd. dds is addicted to the thing. I was thinking of trying it out again, but between my ham and egg meal and the salad Ben passed to me, I got quite full.

We went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office after breakfast. The building complex is majestic and the view from the twin observatories is not only spectacular but also free, so it's a must-stop for Tokyo visitors. Mt. Fuji rose above the mass of buildings glinting in the clear, sunny day; great view.

We picked up a few pamphlets from the tourist information office on the first floor. I needed a map of Odaiba, the artificial island we were going to visit next. Thus prepared, we took the train to Shinbashi and transferred to the monorail, squeezing into the front of the car so that we could see the view.

The Fuji TV building was first on our list, as it boasted a spherical observatory. It would've been cooler if the observatory was mostly glass, but the view was still good. A few old machines were being exhibited—a telegraph machine, some elaborate mechanical dolls—and I was completely fascinated by them. I love looking at minature automata. I am intrigued by the gears and other mechanisms that combine in strange ways to make the models move...

After the observatory, we headed for lunch in Little Hongkong. A delicious ramen meal later, we went to the science museum. That was so, so, so cool. There was an Asimo demonstration, a hands-on model of the Internet using marble drops, lots of information on various technologies, and a really cool spherical display several meters in diameter. The display showed the Earth. It had several modes: satellite images, temperature, prediction, time-lapse... You could also get it to display other bodies in the solar system. What fun! That was really, really cool. Check out the Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) if you ever find yourself in Odaiba.

We also went to Venus Fort, a shopping mall whose interiors resemble a grand 18th century Italian city. A painted sky with changing lights made us feel like we were outside. Columns and drapes stretched from floor to ceiling. An elaborate fountain with marble nymphs and gold decor completed the look. Beautiful place.

We capped our trip by speculating about the techniques used in the color-changing Ferris wheel in Odaiba (must be some kind of LED thing). It was hypnotic. =) After that, we took the boat back to Tokyo.

We had curry at a nearby 24-hour shop and then went to an Internet cafe to relax. Ben needed to transfer photos off his camera and dds needed to do some online banking. After they were done, we walked around. dds remembered a beautiful temple near the Daimon station and he showed me the neat little rows of Jizo statues. (I have a soft spot for Jizo statues; they're so cute...) We also walked through a graveyard and a park before heading in the direction of the next train station, frequently stopping at cafes for a quick coffee / hot chocolate fix.

We still had time to spare when we reached the next train station, so we signed up for 30 minutes of karaoke. That was fun. It was Ben's first time, and he did quite well—particularly when, ummm, he did "Barbie Girl" in this deep voice. I have video. MWAHAHAHA! We did two songs each, then headed to Tokyo station. I kept them company until the train was about to leave. <grin>

I had tons of fun this weekend, and definitely look forward to meeting other geeks. =)

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PCS cancels Digital Pinay contest, cites violent reactions

February 2, 2005 - Categories: digitalpinay, issues, philippines, women

Check out Philippine Computer Society cancels 'Digital Pinay' tilt for PCS' announcement.

Asked what he has learned from the experience, Querubin said: "Well, actually a lot. One is that people really think differently. I was very surprised at the public briefing that some people apparently feel that others don?t have the right to use a word [such as] ?digital? differently from the way they use it.

Hmm. Apparently, they managed to annoy more than just us crazy bloggers. Who'd have thought?

The organizers added that threats to splash acid on the contestants and flood the contest's e-mail address with spurious application forms, also contributed to their decision to cancel the event.

Splashing acid on contestants isn't our kind of thing, although the _organizers_, now... *ahem*. No, no, we're not into physical damage. We'd be happy to flood their e-mail box or otherwise inconvenience PCS, but we don't cross over into meatspace. Definitely some other angry group. What fun.

Asked what he has learned from the experience, Querubin said: "Well, actually a lot. One is that people really think differently. I was very surprised at the public briefing that some people apparently feel that others don't have the right to use a word [such as] "digital" differently from the way they use it.

Now that is a rather strong spin.

I know the people who went to the public briefing. They're nice, rational people who were willing to give PCS a chance. We might not like the way PCS just throws around the word "digital", but we said it might be very misleading, not completely wrong for PCS to use.

That's probably just because we're more in tune with geeks today than they are.

Anyway, good riddance to that Digital Pinay thing. I hope they go back to focusing on the national programming contest, and I hope they do it better this time. I did that schtick throughout high school. Great experience, although PCS screwed up every now and then too.

(Psst! They have a professional category! Reunion, anyone?)

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flashcard-import-from-kill

February 2, 2005 - Categories: emacs

The following code snippet makes it easier for me to import segments from my dictionary files. It uses ../emacs/flashcard.el.

(defun flashcard-import-from-kill (deck)
  "Import cards for DECK from the clipboard, which should be colon-separated.

Question : Answer"
  (interactive (list flashcard-deck))
  (unless (eq major-mode 'flashcard-mode)
    (error "You're not in a deckfile."))
  (with-temp-buffer
    (yank)
    (goto-char (point-min))
    (while (re-search-forward "^ *\\(.*\\) +: +\\(.*\\)$" nil t)
      (flashcard-add-card deck
                          (flashcard-make-card (match-string 1)
                                               (match-string 2)))))
  (when (and (interactive-p)
             (not flashcard-card))
    (flashcard-ask)))

../emacs/flashcard-config.el

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My answers to [[http://home.uchicago.edu/~alexis/ostan.htm][Which OStan are you?]]

February 2, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

You are Linux. You’re not as well known as the others, but you have a devoted following bordering on the fanatical, and with your penguin suit and GNU helmet, you will someday bring Microsoft toppling down.

1. The alarm goes off in the morning. Your first thought is:
(*) Time to get up and fight evil!

2. You get out of bed and start to get dressed. Today you are wearing:
(*) a long coat, some high boots, my glasses

3. Now that you're dressed, you check your reflection in the mirror. How do you look?
(*) I'm probably cute, but I'm too busy to look in the mirror.

4. Okay, so you're pretty cute. Now how about some breakfast?
(*) No time for breakfast! There's work to be done!

5. Okay, now off to work! Are you a good worker?
(*) I'm an expert at behind the scenes work

6. Work can be quite stressful. Just how stable are you?
(*) I'm usually pretty stable until I blow up your monitor.

7. Well, how about siblings?
(*) Yes, but I sort of do my own thing.

8. So how do you feel about rival OSs?
(*) I battle daily to bring about the downfall of windows.

9. So, are you popular?
(*) Most people don't know or like me much, but those who like me are devoted.

10.And now the question no quiz is complete without: what is your favorite color?
(*) black and white, or possibly red

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Mob?

February 2, 2005 - Categories: digitalpinay, issues, philippines, women

Sean Uy wrote:

Congratulations, everyone. We put a stop to an issue that 'insulted' the dignity of women in the IT industry.

And we did it as one big unruly mob.

Are we a mob?

I don't know. I don't think so.

We stand on our individual pulpits or post in our individual columns and we simply speak our mind, letting other people decide what they think and how they feel about the issue. Even my http://del.icio.us/sachac/digitalpinay links feels like a shopping-list of other people who wrote about the issue, and I'm sure there are other blogs out there I hadn't seen.

Nowhere on those blogs did I see anything even remotely close to a physical threat. People joked about having "Digital Pinoy", a male version of the contest. People suggested flooding the mailbox with fake application forms or complaints, or calling them up to register their protest. In fact, some people suggested just promoting it as a beauty pageant instead of something different. I did not see a single thing directed toward the potential contestants. I don't work that way, and chances are, neither do you. I do not know anyone who'd make such a threat. As a rule, the geeks I know prefer the pen over the sword. This is not to say, of course, that no one out there can make that kind of threat. All I'm saying is that there are many, many of us who are more moderate than the press release implies.

I was outraged enough to want to raise hell about it. I didn't want this to be an issue that quietly slipped by. I wanted them to know that I thought what they were doing was wrong. They were perfectly capable of continuing with the original plan, I knew, but maybe they'd listen to the points I raised. I helped spread the word to other people because it was something far bigger than my little corner of the Internet or my little perspective on life, and I was not disappointed by the variety of insights I gained.

I am not against PCS, and I am certainly not against promoting technology. This was not some master plan to bring down PCS nor was it a symptom of crab mentality. I sincerely want to promote computer science in our country, and I spoke out because I strongly felt that the contest I heard about would do more damage than good. I pointed out flaws and offered suggestions. I knew they wouldn't be able to remove the 'beauty pageant' stigma from the event if they continued with their criteria, so I suggested other things they might do instead.

Was it really all the outrage from blogs? Companies have sponsored highly-criticized events before. The Miss Universe contest has legions of detractors. No, I don't think it was sheer outrage. I'd like to think that the sponsors pulled out not because the contest attracted lots of bad publicity but because the sponsors listened to our thoughts and thought we made sense. Money speaks, and it took the sponsors to make PCS consider other ideas. We argued as well as we could, and that resulted in slight modifications of the event. PCS thought it could deal with the other objections, but it took sponsors to really drive the point home.

It's a pity that PCS focused on extreme reactions in their press conference. Instead of making bloggers feel respected and listened to, they polarized the issue, turning it into an us-versus-them fight. That wasn't the best way to deal with this kind of issue. I would have respected them more if they calmly outlined the issues and thanked everyone involved, but I understand why they said those things. They are also human, and it is hard to be calm when you see a pet project fall apart. Other critics are also human, and it's hard to accept someone's words as face value when you see it more as a cover-up. There must have been better ways to deal with the whole mess, but it's done now, and all that is left to do is to reflect on the whole matter.

I must confess being guilty of taking pot shots at PCS when I think what they say doesn't make sense. For example, I think their cancellation is yet another example of bad PR, and I'm half-tempted to volunteer to edit their press releases from now on. I'm allowed to have and express opinions. I'm not a journalist, just a geek. I care not only about my work but also the culture and environment I work in.

That said, they're fine, and they did have good intentions. I can't imagine Leo Querubin waking up and saying "I think I'd like to have a sexist contest," and I believe them when they say they weren't thinking of making it a beauty contest. They just didn't think about it hard enough. Who here hasn't made mistakes like that before? Who here hasn't been defensive about mistakes, trying to rationalize them as long as possible before realizing they were wrong? I appreciate how they invited us to join the press conference, although the timing was bad for practically everyone. (A Saturday would've been better, really, or they could've just held it online. That would've been much more fun!) I appreciate how they asked someone who understood the other side to serve as a consultant. (Hi, Ranulf!) I appreciate how, to the very end, their intentions were sincere. I don't think they were in this just to make money. I think they just picked the wrong way to achieve a goal, and then a wrong way to save face.

PCS still serves a valuable purpose. They have other projects and they don't need to be replaced or destroyed. Besides, there is no organization ready to step into the gap. I hope that the lesson they carry away from all of this is not that the public does not understand them, but that we understand their objectives too well to let them quietly make mistakes. We speak because we care.

Are we a mob? A thousand voices exploding on the Internet may seem like a chaotic mess, but if you listen carefully you would be able to discern the clear, calm tones of people like Dominique, Joey, and Sean. You would hear people who spoke from their hearts _and_ their minds, like Clair and Xenia. You would even hear non-IT people with a clear understanding of the issues, like Marcelle. We are not a mob. We are simply people who know what we believe in and who care too much to be silent.

I will reflect some more on this if other people have interesting posts, but in the meantime, I would like to thank the bloggers who shared their thoughts, the journalists who helped us raise awareness of the problem, and the rest of the gang for listening in.

Although it could have gone better, it was good that we did this.

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If imitation is the highest form of flattery, I must be very boring

February 3, 2005 - Categories: emacs

sassylawyer has been plagiarized. That got me to thinking about plagiarism, and you know? I don't think I've ever been badly plagiarized. Probably not a single line maliciously lifted from my Ph104 or JapanTraining notes. No one reposts me to get +5 Insightful or to increase post count on some bulletin board. I saw a number of Google queries poking around my notebook directory back when I still had files from college, but those were probably people who would've copied netlists or programs from elsewhere on the Net, anyway.

Conclusion: I must be really boring. ;)

I suppose it also helps that the only things I post on my blog are random code snippets, bad short stories, business ideas, and my TODO list, all of which can be freely reposted anywhere you want. (In fact, please steal my TODO list!)

The only people who read my blog are geeks, my family and my friends. They're all smarter than I am and have no problems coming up with insightful posts on their own.

I'm not concerned about plagiarism. I trust that if my thoughts are being posted to a forum by someone who's too lazy to think up cool stuff, the mere fact that the poster would think other people would find such things interesting means that some of the readers might've stumbled across my blog before. Then they laugh at the poster, completely destroying the poster's reputation. Mwahaha.

Even if I never get attributed, it's nice that the ideas are out there. My ideas are more important than my byline. I don't care who eventually makes stuff happen as long as the stuff happens. I learn by writing, and I lose nothing if people copy me. If people go to the trouble of stripping out my identity, then they'll just have to deal with questions and bugs themselves.

I don't care if people stumbling upon my work never bother to find out who I am. If they find something in my braindump useful, well and good. If they copy-and-paste what I've written into something they need to submit for class or work, they've lost the opportunity to exercise their mind.

If someone ever accuses me of plagiarizing my own work, I'll simply laugh and point to the other stuff I've written or to the things I've done. People know I'm real.

So there. I trust you, reader. I'll never use Javascript hacks to make it difficult for you to save data from my website. I'll never make it difficult for you to syndicate my blog (RSS feed) or copy it whole-sale. Heck, if you want an archive of my planner, either wget -r http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/plans/ or e-mail me for an archive.

Go ahead and steal my thoughts. Add your insights. Make them better.

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On disabling right-click

February 3, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

http://www.houseonahill.net/ disables right-click on its pages. I suppose it's to stop people from saving webpages to their hard disk, but it's not a very effective way of stopping people from copying things because people can always highlight text and then copy the text normally.

Disabling right-click punishes power users, though. I can't easily bookmark pages using my del.icio.us. I can't copy a link without visiting it, which means I have to click on the permalink page, move over to the address bar, and copy the address from there if I'm going to cite something in my blog. I can't easily subscribe via http://www.bloglines.com .

I've seen a Mozilla extension for disabling pesky right-click disablers, and I think I'll go install that right now. I could also always browse the website in w3m or some other text browser.

Disabling right-click is a technological attempt at solving a social problem, and although it discourages casual users, I don't think it's worth the cost.

UPDATE: The right-click script sassylawyer uses also results in an error when I middle-click on a link in order to open it in a new tab. The page loads, but I have to click through a "Sorry, right-click is disabled." message. Mrph.

UPDATE: The same site blacklists http://del.icio.us . ARGH.

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Calling all Ateneo programming competition alumni

February 3, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized
March 18, 2005 is graduation day of the Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University. Many past and present members of the Ateneo ACM programming teams will graduate on this day. We will miss them in ACM-Manila 2005 and in future programming contests, but we shall never forget the beautiful experiences that we shared, during practices and at the actual contests.

We are inviting all past and present members of the Ateneo ACM programming teams, whether graduating, not graduating, or already graduated, from batches 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004, and all the faculty coaches, secretaries, and the DISCS chair, to join us in a pictorial at 3:15 pm on March 18, 2005, at the graduation assembly area, at the Ateneo High School. Graduating members and faculty will please wear their academic gown. Present team members will please wear their team jackets. Those who have already graduated please come in semi-formal clothes.

I am making this announcement early, so that you can plan to make yourself free at 3:15 pm on graduation day.

Thank you. See you there!

PMana Coach

E-Mail from Pablo Manalastas

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NEW YEAR’S CAT

February 4, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

687 words

Linlin couldn't wait for the fireworks to start. While her parents watched the New Year's special on TV, Linlin sat by the window, never taking her eyes off the sky.

A loud wail cut through the cool night air. She didn't know they made firecrackers that sounded like alarm clocks, and she looked around to find out what part of the city had already started celebrating. The sky was still dark. It was as if the whole city was holding its breath.

The ringing continued. She looked down and was surprised to find a cat nestled against a big alarm clock that was ringing so hard it bounced.

The cat was fast asleep.

It was not every day that she saw a stray cat on her balcony (they were on the 15th floor, after all) and this was certainly the only cat she'd ever seen with an alarm clock. She shook the cat gently. "Excuse me, Mr. Cat, wake up, wake up..."

The cat yawned and mumbled, "Just a few more minutes, Mouse..." It then turned over and went back to sleep.

A talking cat! She talked to animals all the time, but this was the first time one talked to her! New Year's Eve was really magical. She wanted the cat to wake up and talk to her.

Linlin had a great idea. She went to the kitchen and got some cat food. She didn't think her cat Yumyum would be angry if she gave the strange cat something to eat. After opening the can, she went back the balcony and waved it near the cat. "Wake up, wake up, I've got food for you."

A lazy eye creaked open. The cat's nose twitched and dove into the food, followed by the rest of the cat as it slowly woke up. After finishing the tuna, the cat sat back and licked its paws. "You're not Mouse," the cat said.

"No, I'm Linlin. Pleased to meet you."

"Thank you, Linlin. I'm Cat. If you hadn't woken me up, I would have been late for an important New Year's party. Hey, would you like to come? I think the Jade Emperor would be happy to see you."

"Jade Emperor? Party?" Something clicked in her head. "Who else is going?"

"Don't worry, it's just the usual gang: Rooster, Ox, Goat, and lots of other people... Even Dragon is taking time out from his busy schedule."

The animals from the calendar! Her teacher had told that story on the last day of class. Cat and Mouse used to be great friends, he said, but then Mouse tricked Cat by not waking him up even though Mouse promised. That's why the Cat isn't part of the Chinese zodiac, the animals that protect each year.

Maybe this year Cat could make it!

Cat flicked his tail impatiently. "So, would you like to come?"

She really loved fireworks, but how many times did she get to go with a talking cat to a party? "Let me ask permission first." She turned toward the living room and shouted, "Mom, Dad, can I go with Cat to the Jade Emperor's New Year's Party?"

Without looking away from the television set, they said, "Sure, have fun."

She grinned and turned back to the cat. "Let's go!" Cat held his paw out to her. When she took it, she found herself in front of an elaborate palace. She was shy, but Cat urged her along and introduced her to the whole gang. They feasted for what seemed like hours and Linlin made many friends.

When she got back, she was surprised to find out it was still night. She looked at the alarm clock on the balcony. It was just a minute to midnight! As Cat bowed and waved goodbye, the sky exploded into fireworks.

"Wait! Your alarm clock!" She scooped the clock up and held it out to the cat.

"Keep it to remember me." Cat smiled and disappeared.

As the second hand on the alarm clock hit 12, she grinned to herself. No one would believe her if she told them where she was last night!

(Written in response to the "Last Night" prompt on flashxer)

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Upgrade yourself! =)

February 4, 2005 - Categories: emacs, planner

Creating Passionate Users is a great blog just full of insights. The latest gem is about upgrading users.

Right, that's you. (If you don't use Planner, read on; maybe I can convince you to try it out.)

Planner probably isn't interesting in itself. _You_ make Planner way cool. You aren't just an anonymous person who uses Planner. You are a bundle of unique ways of doing things and maybe I can come up with things that fit you better. I want to know how you think. What makes you tick. How you keep yourself from going crazy even though you have to keep track of so many things.

(If this is starting to freak you out, don't worry; you can pretend I'm just like any other maintainer out there. ;) Ignore that large BBDB in the corner.)

I don't think of myself as hacking just Emacs Lisp. I'm hacking your process. Your way of doing things. _Real_ planner development happens inside _your_ head when you come up with a nifty idea or something you'd like improved. Real planner development happens when you take a look at the way you do things and wonder if you can do them better. My job is to keep track of all these little things people want to do and see if someone else has already done it, I can help you do it, or I can hack it in myself. The Japanese have a word for continuous improvement—kaizen. Process optimization.

We make a lot of progress in small steps. Take that +tue feature. It's not a big thing, but it brings Planner _juuust_ a little closer to the way a lot of people think. Who knows what kind of hacks it just made easier? John Sullivan has plans for that feature, mainly for his template hacks.

The end result is that Planner is this strange, almost bewildering personal information manager that just keeps growing and growing. Sure, the quickstart introduces the essential parts of the system, but there's much more to it. I'm here to guide you through it. I'd love to ask questions to help you figure out how you plan. I'd love to suggest ways of doing things. =) Whether you're a Franklin/Covey or GTD geek or you're using a funky home-brew kind of planning method that changes all the time (I'm like that!), I'd like to think we can get Planner or some other Emacs-based PIM to dance to your tune.

(Of course, there's the danger of spending too much time hacking your process and too little time actually doing things, but I think we can keep ourselves from going overboard.)

So there. Sure, the mailing list is usually where software updates are announced, but think of it as meant for user upgrading.

Keep the suggestions coming. Share your thoughts!

Creating Passionate Users: Upgrade your users, not just your product

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ri-mode bug when there is no current word

February 4, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I replaced the stock implementation of ruby-default-ri-entry with the following code so that I could use it even if I didn't have a current word.

(defun ruby-default-ri-entry ()
  (let (word)
    (save-excursion
      (setq word (or (current-word) ""))
      (if (string-match "[._]+$" word)
	  (setq word (substring word 0 (match-beginning 0))))
      (format "%s%s"
	      word
	      ""))))

../emacs/ruby-config.el

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Adventures with Ruby

February 4, 2005 - Categories: emacs, ruby

This is my second day of Ruby, a programming language that is rather popular in Japan. I'm in love. It's now my second-favorite programming language. (Emacs Lisp is, of course, the first.)

Yesterday's script parsed schedule data and checked that monthly cost and day constraints were observed. Today I wanted to visualize the verified schedule.

At first I tried working with planner (formerly known as MrProject and not to be confused with PlannerMode). I wrote a Ruby program that converted my schedule.csv into XML, and planner loaded it successfully. However, I didn't think planner would let me do funky color coding. I thought about using etask, but ended up deciding to write something using libgd-ruby.

It was surprisingly easy to write a Gantt-like visualizer for the schedule and even easier to manipulate it once I had written it. For example, I could do silly things like

s.to_image((s.schedule.sort { |a,b| a.start <=> b.start }, 0, 2500, 1800, image)

Sorted by start date

to see the tasks sorted by start date. Being a Lisp girl, I had no problems writing silly things like

s.to_image((s.schedule.collect { |x| x if x.person_id == '08-1' } - [ nil ]).sort { |a,b| a.start <=> b.start }, 0, 2500, 1800, image)

but then I realized that this was much cleaner:

s.to_image((s.schedule.sort { |a,b| x = a.person_id <=> b.person_id; if x == 0 then a.start <=> b.start else x end }, 0, 2500, 1800, image)


Sorted by person and then start date

Ruby is so cute!

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Passed JLPT level 3

February 8, 2005 - Categories: japanese

Looks like I passed level 3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Yay.

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Mid-term plans

February 10, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

I am just about ready to go back to school. I don't want to teach yet and I definitely don't want to go into the industry. If I get accepted by UToronto, I will happily take up an HCI degree there. If I don't get accepted (waaah), then I'll resume my long-postponed MA Education (Information Technology Integration) and just have _fun_ studying.

I'm really, really, really looking forward to going back to school again.

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Learning Links

February 10, 2005 - Categories: education, philippines

"Learning Links Center for Alternative Education, an NGO with SEC Reg. No. A20000-8543 housed at Stalls 7 and 8 Sanvil Center, Katipunan Avenue, was founded by Ateneo alumni in the year 2000. Its mission is to help 7 to 14 year old Katipunan street kids and at-risk children get access to supplementary educational activities so they can achieve their fullest potentials and integrate more easily into mainstream society.

Currently, Learning Links is in need of volunteers who can join their twice-a-month Saturday afternoon Ate-Kuya program. Volunteers will have the opportunity to share around two to three hours of their time per session with a group of kids - swapping stories, playing games, engaging in creative tasks or taking a stroll in the Ateneo campus -and act as buddies or even role models to these little ones.

Interested parties may call or text 0917-8269108 (Kuya Froy) or 0917-6939831 (Ate Julie).

Together, let's bring learning back to the kids."

E-Mail from Ateneo Alumni Affairs Office

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Yet another cool little Planner hack: really smart tab expansion

February 10, 2005 - Categories: emacs, planner

One of the greatest things Planner has done for me has been to make it easy to keep track of little tasks. Having lots of things on the shelf makes it far easier for me to take advantage of moments of inspiration and turn them into real code. I do my best thinking on the train, walking home, in the bath: wherever I can squeeze some reflection into a couple of minutes of waiting. Then I mentally run through whatever little tasks I have lying around, and if inspiration hits, I run with it.

Today was pll's lucky day. He asked for ways to easily hyperlink to people's records and to days like "tomorrow", "yesterday", and "today". I remember thinking, "Hey, that would be cute." The feature was really close to something I hacked together over a year ago, so I pulled up my old configuration, tweaked it a bit, and ended up creating this nifty tab expansion module that used hippie-expand to expand planner names in an intelligent way.

I _love_ hacks like that. I love making small and nearly insignificant tweaks to help people fit Planner to the way they want to work. People may or may not use that little tab completion thing. Browsing through my ../emacs/planner-config.el and ../emacs/emacs-wiki-config.el reveals a lot of cruft I wrote long ago but have since then forgotten. The point is, at least we experiment with these things. Planner makes it easy to experiment. Planner makes it easy to try things out.

A major part of my role as the maintainer of Planner is really just to keep track of people's wishes and see if we can kludge together some kind of attempt. While other software projects have awe-inspiring grand plans, we stumble along in the directions people want to go in—sometimes contradictory—and somehow or another, we manage to make an environment that fits us. Planner is not a one-size-fits-all personal information manager. Planner is crafted, tailored for each person. Planner grows just as much as you want it to.

Of course, this constant experimentation leads to rough spots if you track the development branch and try all the new features. There are bugs we still haven't tracked down, particularly the new code that's out there so that people can bang on it and experiment with it and hammer it into something that makes sense.

I think this development model works. That's why the mailing list is essential. That's why #emacs on irc.freenode.net is essential. That's why a constant stream of suggestions really really helps.

Perhaps one day Planner will get buried under features. It already seems to be overly complex at first glance; newbies who take one look at it run away screaming. ;) I think that is something that cannot quite be addressed by documentation or simplification or even reasonable defaults. I will not hide the complexity of Planner. I will not hide Lisp programming from Planner users. In fact, you are very much encouraged to try it out, and if this is your first introduction to Emacs Lisp programming, I think that it is quite good that your first hack is something you will use and benefit from daily.

How, then, are we to manage the complexity as Planner grows more and more features? How are hapless newbies supposed to get into this extremely wonderful thing? ;)

I think the answer lies with people. I learn most by asking people how they use their Planner. I learn by asking people what they want to be able to do with their Planner. I think it's silly to ask people to use all of Planner right away—_I_ don't use all of Planner. Even if you go through the manual, there's just so much information. There are just so many ways of doing things.

The trick, really, is to evolve from something small and comfortable to something slightly larger and perhaps just a little uncomfortable, but something that is still easy to get used to. Show people the bare minimum that they need in order to do their job (or to at least feel they're keeping track of the things they need to do their job), give them a glimpse of what's possible, and encourage them to think of other things they'd like to do.

That's where little hacks like pll's tab completion fit in. Planner encourages people to think about that next little hack as a "nice to have": not something to waste a lot of time thinking about, perhaps, but something to keep on a todo list somewhere just in case inspiration strikes.

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Street performers

February 11, 2005 - Categories: japan

dagbrown and I spent an afternoon watching street performers in Ueno Park. We caught two performers. The first did juggling, hat juggling, diabolo, and acrobatics on rickety chairs. The second did devilsticks and cup juggling. They were really cool, _and_ really funny! (My Japanese is getting better, too. I actually got the jokes... =))

I'm a big fan of street performers, and one of my life-goals is to be good enough to draw crowds. Street performers are masters at getting and keeping a crowd's attention. They're really, really fun. A flair for theater will help me in teaching, too.

Kathy and I don't really have patter or comedy going, but that's something I'd like to explore—perhaps when I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. I should buy a diabolo set before I go home, as they're cooler than devilsticks.

Anyway, that was way cool.

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Letters

February 14, 2005 - Categories: geek, love
1 88 22 2 14 8 18 25 15 21 13 88 8 2 11 14 25
20 9 20 18 25 12 14 88 13 16 16 23 12 24 88 15 7 88 23 2 11 23 13 19 13
20 9 7 88 15 15 7 88 20 9 17 24 11 13 26 88 20 9 3 23 88 19 22 21 23 5 14 20 26 88 13 6
19 17 20 12 18 12 88 23 10 14 15 88 19 16 17 17 88 18 6 22 24 22 19
9 88 12 16 24 8 88 25 16 23 88 4 6 3 21 9 24 26

19 15 17 26 88 2 13 3 17 15 10 26 12 12 88 5 2 20 23 12
23 10 22 11 88 2 2 22 8 8 88 2 19 7 4 24 13 88 9 20 88 23 2 11 23 13 19 13
6 16 20 88 19 17 20 12 18 12 88 19 88 5 25 18 15 19 24 15 22 22

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Encryption/decryption code for Dominique’s letters

February 14, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Emacs Lisp code GPG-encrypted to self so that I can decrypt it just in case I need the encryption/decryption code back.

First cipher: polyalphabetic simple offset based on distance from start of word; 88 as word separator

-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.0 (GNU/Linux)

hQEOAzQ6c9jHW5SMEAP+N77nowspAWxFHCNvzCKOUrsG0O8L93rd0VL0arAj4s6Z
J/QkVEUnHw8Yk5C9ofix2RNt0iVL5PpbGIG0X/UValjnfmvHql+37+7z4FxIn/fs
dhJeLpuWOOPeF8rn5px2DRYOOtKwRBp/JFjtF8svPwxGcXxflqEN1Ow7rd5w/xcD
+wbU8tRSpuS20hQKwP7JRAoAqbLBN0rzf2UanSlYMu0g16fiq0EIdc8hWri0RdnP
L8sL64M5no8UTR0kQXcPtgn+JX2f78cCXEHDHiJE/U+svzdbBOG2X+aUIhcR2xFH
rTEDnsfp1oXUFV8vBtDGd/2LNtDQaExqjzWY3gIVHI5A0sCsAUdbpnYEsfINGXrL
XUl8USe+YS962fQLs/u/dzPiPMSNmIw4bY1UmMGqBawElB3LM+TtBGSZD5i1hiL/
d+n6WtyNilblrSGdLpmM39W6oLFK5OU/jGAoWg+UmPP1Hkn2Ix990T6rqvvJ1aqF
nqKJhOo7CAyuuXYTwG2SKpdfRBwYIHMHZSghwU3yTFr9izlGYrny4k6m3rPjVQyZ
1WwrWlYyX5YVxR5MAkZwyF7NUnEWISPPBbOk7bMgpizN80oJbRB1A8BFFtps9/b3
o4NOTcVCQXT+8COnEsnB1Dl5mLL0P0GrML+DCzqJB44MlaoZN3VPCkFsV2Moy0VE
Pe8pKUqI2o3rTv7B3zzpGPz4ZMiPbztRmfUBF19craoyL7HQmXhlUDiMAdXDAFxR
4SD8cpnjiPICA3Je9/zWeMmsJDO4AZRml5UD5SU3NEGSICPEnF/UWKZWY+wGCaEg
9kToeFJcqeNjhPwj3vdxfg==
=KQgN
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----

Second cipher: double-offset cipher, no word separators

-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.0 (GNU/Linux)
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OJGe4eUWtXRBvDK93rbqehITxQnNP4b/KYSPovc2e8qke/zZtqQ6uNyMrnL573fB
2dQN5w==
=GSeA
-----END PGP MESSAGE-----

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Valentine

February 14, 2005 - Categories: geek, love

Sappy overblown commercialized greeting-card holiday that it is, who cares? It's still fun.

Dominique sent me a cryptogram. =) That was cool.

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Managing my mail

February 16, 2005 - Categories: emacs, productivity

I use Gnus, one of the many mail/news clients available for Emacs. The following features help me manage the volume of mail I get each day.

Mail splitting

Yes, yes, the Gmail way is to keep everything in one folder and then use searches to filter your messages. Still, I like being able to glance at my screen and see 2 personal messages and 3 planner-related messages.

Topics and group hiding

I use Gnus topics to divide my mail into folders and subfolders. Mail groups are hidden unless they have mail. Some groups like mail.misc and mail.planner are generally useful, so I keep them visible even if they don't have unread mail.

Scoring

Gnus allows you to automatically score threads and messages up and down based on various criteria. You can set it to completely hide boring messages, show them in a different color, show interesting messages in a different color, etc.

On most mailing lists and newsgroups, I don't bother reading message bodies. I just scan through subjects, hitting k to kill entire threads I don't find interesting. Gnus remembers what threads I've killed, marks them as read, and scores them down automatically. It also scores up messages containing certain keywords, replies to my posts, and threads I found interesting.

Integration with my contacts

I put interesting people in my BBDB contact database. Gnus indicates messages from them with a little + beside their name in the message summary. If someone I know is interested in a thread, I might find it interesting as well.

Hiding and article washing

I've set Gnus up to hide quoted text. This makes browsing through threads much easier because I can concentrate only on the the new parts. I can hit a few keys to expose sections of the quoted text if the replies aren't immediately obvious from the context.

I can also set it up to remove ads at the bottom of messages, particularly long signatures, To: lines with more than N recipients, that sort of thing. I can tell it to strip out HTML, too.

Displaying parent article

Sometimes I'll jump into the middle of a thread. I can use ^ to get to the parent message.

Searching

I use swish++ to index and search through my personal and planner-related mail.

Planner hyperlinks

Most of my tasks come in through e-mail. Planner lets me keep track of my TODOs easily by automatically hyperlinking to the mail message I'm looking at when I create a task. Dealing with a few items on my TODO list is much easier than going through a large inbox! =)

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Very useful PIM research blog

February 17, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

One week left

February 18, 2005 - Categories: emacs

Seven more days and I'll be home! I need to think about how I'm going to spend my summer.

I've realized that I don't _have_ to do a lot of advocacy talks. People are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. However, I do need to do braindumps of the stuff I learned in Japan, if only so that I can summarize them into presentations.

I also don't need to worry about computer science education just yet, as I won't be able to do much about it at this point in time. Not with just six months before I start grad school...

SO.

What am I going to do?

Adphoto IT geeking

First, there's my family's company. Among other things, I want to work on:

- the Adphoto website - setting up a good long-distance transfer method for large files: need to write instructions for FTP. - figuring out how my parents can do stock photography online - the shoot scheduler

I will set aside regular time for this and my Planner work. =) I think it will be tons of fun, and quite an experience. The major thinko I just had is that hey, look, I've got practically 24/7 access to a bunch of users with different needs. I should take advantage of that. Besides, if we get the processes into place, things will be much smoother.

Hanging out with friends

One of the strange things about my trip to Japan is how much time I've actually spent outside my dorm room. This is in stark contrast to some days at home when it was just Internet room - lunch - Internet room - dinner - Internet room - sleep. I think that knowing you'll only be someplace for six months really wakes you up. I wanted to meet people and see the sights instead of just staying in my dorm room all the time.

So you can expect me to be a lot more social when I get back. I want to see my parents and my sister—and not just a brief glimpse before going to bed. I want to chat with my friends. I want to challenge their minds with all these cute little puzzles I'm bringing back home, or simply find out what they're interested in. Sure, we all have blogs, but it's fun to just relax. =)

This can get expensive, but we'll find ways of keeping the costs down so that it's sustainable. We'll stay at houses and parks instead of in malls, for one.

There are so many people I want to talk to, so many people I'd like to just relax and chat with. =)

'course I might still go all introverted on occasion, but I think I've tipped over into extrovert mode. =)

Reading up on personal information management

In preparation for grad school, of course.

Street performing

I have a staff, a pair of electric poi, and two diabolo sets. I'm looking forward to doing pair diabolo with Kathy. That's not enough for a full circus-in-a-suitcase kind of gig, but it's a good start.

Taking lots of strange classes

Cooking, for one.

Daniel S. Weld: Personalization

February 18, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

K. Gajos, R. Hoffmann and D. Weld, "Improving User Interface Personalization" UIST 2004, Santa Fe, NM, October 2004.
http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/weld/papers/gajos-uist-04.pdf

D. Weld, C. Anderson, P. Domingos, O. Etzioni, T. Lau, K. Gajos, and S. Wolfman, "Automatically Personalizing User Interfaces" IJCAI-03, 2003.
http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/weld/papers/weld-ijcai03.pdf

C. Anderson, P. Domingos and D. Weld, "Web Site Personalizers for Mobile Devices" (IJCAI-01 Workshop on Intelligent Techniques for Web Personalization)
http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/weld/papers/ijcai01-itwp.pdf

C. Anderson, P. Domingos and D. Weld, "Adaptive Web Navigation for Wireless Devices" (IJCAI 2001)
http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/weld/papers/ijcai01.pdf

C. Anderson, P. Domingos and D. Weld, "Personalizing Web Sites for Mobile Users" (WWW10)
http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/weld/papers/www10.pdf

Selected Publications by Daniel S. Weld

[Abrams, 1997] Abrams, D. (1997). Human factors of personal web information spaces. Technical report, Knowledge Media Design Institute Technical Report 1, University of Toronto.

February 18, 2005 - Categories: emacs

http://www.dabrams.com/research/bookmarks/thesis/thesis.pdf

"Human factors of personal web information spaces" is a detailed statistical study of how people use bookmarks, including observations on filing and navigation patterns.

Many of the issues raised in the paper have been addressed by recent innovations in bookmarking. For example, browser-based bookmarks allow you to automatically check if pages have changed or disappeared. The flat tag-based organization of services such as http://del.icio.us reduce much of the cognitive load of organizing projects. http://del.icio.us also offers a chronological view of bookmarks.

This paper made me think about organizational strategies for categorized tasks. Tasks in Planner and other PIMs that allow you to directly hyperlink to resources (Microsoft Entourage, Microsoft Outlook) act as bookmarks, creating a personal information space annotated by the things you need to do.

Task- and schedule-related personal information suffers from many of the same problems as the World Wide Web. Information overload comes in the form of e-mail about tasks and appointments. The inbox is polluted by irrelevant messages. Task- and schedule-related information tends to be less chaotic than the Web because the former is personal by nature, but it still lacks aggregate structure and a global view.

This paper makes me want to look into the organizational strategies of PIM users. For example, how do people categorize their tasks? Creation-time filing or sporadic filing? How do they choose categories? How do they deal with long task lists? Do they really reorder tasks for priorities, or just scan through them and pick items? Can I characterize PIM users by scale, like the way Abrams describes light to heavy bookmark users, citing characteristic strategies?

Modification of johnsu01’s scoring

February 18, 2005 - Categories: emacs, planner

The following code allows you to sort tasks based on regexp matches against the line. It's fairly simple, but may give people ideas about fancier task sorting.

(setq planner-sort-tasks-key-function 'planner-sort-tasks-by-score)

(defvar planner-score-rules '(("read" . 50))
  "Alist of planner scoring rules of the form (regexp . score-value).
Tasks with higher scores are listed first.")

(defun planner-sort-tasks-by-score ()
  "Sort tasks by the rule in the table."
  (let ((score 0)
        (case-fold-search t)
        (line (buffer-substring-no-properties (line-beginning-position)
                                              (line-end-position))))
    (mapc
     (lambda (item)
       (when (string-match (car item) line)
         (setq score (- score (cdr item)))))
     planner-score-rules)
    score))

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Brilliant idea about my summer schedule

February 18, 2005 - Categories: plans

I need to hack a couple of things in Adphoto. For one, the scheduling system needs to be improved. Also, we need to work out a smooth way to transfer files to clients.

The best way to get me to work on these things would be for me to get annoyed with them.

The best way for me to get annoyed with these things would be for me to have to do them.

So that can be my summer job. If my mom doesn't mind having me underfoot, I will work for Adphoto. First, I need to hack scheduling. In the process, I'll probably also tweak office communication. When I'm not scheduling things or improving the scheduling infrastructure, I can work on making the website more informative.

Sounds like a good plan.

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Weekend plans

February 19, 2005 - Categories: japan
Bandai Museum
http://www.bandai-museum.jp/english/miru/g_museum/g_museum.html . Matsudo station on the Joban line. I can do this in the morning or early afternoon.
Tomoko
I want to drop off a pack of mangoes and a set of notebooks. She sometimes works during weekends. However, Kobayashi-san wants to meet on Sunday. The best time to meet Tomoko is probably Saturday evening. After Bandai museum, I can leave for Odakyu Tama Center. It takes about an hour and a half between that station and Kita Senju.

Ah. Hmm. So. Saturday. Wake up early and coordinate with Tomoko about meeting her. If she has work on Saturday, I can meet her at Shinjuku in the afternoon and go back in the evening. If not, I'll visit her for lunch on Sunday.

At any rate, I should visit Bandai Museum on Saturday. It's closer to Kita Senju than it is to Ueno, though, so I'll meet Dave there.

Saturday:

  • Wake up early and coordinate with Tomoko.
  • Go to Bandai Museum.
  • Visit Tomoko for dinner.

OR

  • Wake up early and coordinate with Tomoko.
  • Go to Bandai Museum.
  • Go to Ueno.
  • Pass by wasuremono place just in case the hat's there.
  • Watch street performances.

Sunday:

  • Visit Tomoko for lunch.
  • Meet Kobayashi-san, Elaine and Len-len at Lumine at 5:00.

OR

  • Go to Ueno.
  • Pass by wasuremono place just in case the hat's there.
  • Watch street performances.
  • Meet Kobayashi-san, Elaine and Len-len at Lumine at 5:00.

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Arrange for luggage pick-up by on the 23rd or 22nd

February 20, 2005 - Categories: japan
  • 1950 yen charge for 2nd piece of luggage
  • Pickup from AOTS: 9 - 12 on the 23rd
  • Pickup in airport: 3rd floor, ABC counter, near the JAL counter

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Travel plans

February 20, 2005 - Categories: japan
  • TKC to Kita Senju
  • Kita Senju to Nippori (arrive by 7:00)
  • Nippori (Keisei Line Sky Liner, 7:07) to Narita (arrive by 7:59)

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Karaoke with Dave and Tony

February 20, 2005 - Categories: japan

Did most of my packing today. The big suitcase is jammed with souvenirs and the little suitcase will contain electronics. I'm shipping my clothes home by sea mail, as there is simply no way I can get them to fit into my original luggage.

Had fun doing karaoke with Dave and Tony. Must must must practice more. Eyes on Me is high, so I need to turn down the volume if I'm to hear my voice...

Hour passed by so quickly! Mrph.

Looking forward to doing karaoke with my friends once I get back to the Philippines.

Chatted with Tony on the train ride back. He told me a little bit about engineering in UP. We swapped notes on Japan. I gave him Super Lemon and he totally freaked. <laugh> Looks like an interesting guy, although not as geeky as my other friends. Should look into introducing him to the rest next time he goes to the Philippines.

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See, I’m not the only one weirded out by the word “co-ed”

February 21, 2005 - Categories: issues, women

From: rnewtonATkent.edu on a word-a-day mailing list I'm subscribed to:

The most egregious example of gender-bias in English is, I think, the existence of two words for students. Male students are students; but female students are co-eds. This originates in schools being for males only. So, when they allowed girls to come "along" (this is what co- means), they were viewed as nonessential appendages. Kind of like Adam being created independently, and then Eve was formed to assist him. I have insisted that all my students expunge this word from their vocabulary. I no longer allow them to say they live in a co-ed dorm, for example, since that implies that the dorms are really there for the one sex only. There are only male dorms, female dorms, and mixed- gender dorms (although this is a misnomer, since gender is not the same as sex; but we can't very easily call them two-sex dorms without raising eyebrows; unisex might work?).

E-Mail from wsmith

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“Geek Love”

February 21, 2005 - Categories: geek, love

Dominique Cimafranca's submitting this entry to an Inquirer contest. Awww, melt melt melt...

Geek Love

One of the hallmarks of the stereotypical male computer nerd is his ineptitude with members of the opposite sex. Especially those of the attractive kind. Most especially those of the attractive and intelligent kind. Just read one of the many strips of Dilbert which deals with the subject.

Cliched as the image may be, there's some truth to it nonetheless. I should know. I am a stereotypical male computer nerd.

At one point, I wished out loud to my friends that I could meet a girl that came with an instruction manual. I meant it in jest, what with women being so complex and all. But apparently, there was such a girl—and no, she was not of the inflatable kind.

In doing advocacy work for Linux, I wrote a series of articles on prominent Linux personalities in the Philippines. One of the people I featured was Sacha Chua, a programming wunderkind who was very much in touch with the pulse of geekdom. Sacha was into Linux, Emacs, and wearable computing. Certainly she made good copy, and several people posted links to that article on my web site.

I conducted the interview via email so we didn't really get to meet. Nevertheless, she came across as very intelligent, very articulate, and very personable in our email exchanges.

Sacha also maintained a wiki — a sort of a blog — where she placed all her code and her essays. One of her entries was entitled "On Love", a tongue-in-cheek how-to to on courting geek girls, particularly, Sacha Chua. Finally, a girl with an instruction manual. Was this the answer to my wish, I wondered.

Humorous as the tone was, the instruction manual was in earnest about what Sacha was looking for. At the top of the list was intelligent conversation that would increase her stock of knowledge. Getting to know her family was also important to her. Flowers, stuffed animals, and other girly-girly stuff were a no-no. The bar was set high, but it also gave a clear indication as to what kind of person Sacha was. Was I interested? Absolutely!

Of course, I didn't start courting Sacha on the basis of that manual. Distance was a problem as I was based in the South and was travelling all over. But we did strike up a friendship facilitated by email. Through that I learned of her other interests in books, quirky movies, and puzzles.

We finally met when I moved to Manila. We would see each other from time to time. It helped greatly that we were both speakers at Linux seminars. Sacha introduced me to her wonderful family. She also brought me into her circle of friends, something I deeply appreciated because finally I met people of like minds.

I realized that we had something special when we reached that most intimate moment in a geek's life: after a dinner date, I asked her to set up computer for a demo that I was running the following day. She threw herself at the task, completing in half an hour what I knew would have taken me two hours. For a geek guy, well, that's nirvana.

Even though I know Sacha far better than before, the how-to guide still serves as a handy reference. On occasion, I take a peek at it to gauge if I'm doing things right. Not too shabby, I must say.

Then again, you know you love someone when you know when to break her rules. She was positively giddy about the Tux stuffed toy I gave her.

E-Mail from Dominique Cimafranca

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Geek Love

February 22, 2005 - Categories: geek, love

Revision from Dominique Cimafranca:

One of the hallmarks of the stereotypical male computer nerd is his ineptitude with members of the opposite sex. Especially those of the attractive kind. Most especially those of the attractive and intelligent kind. Just read one of the many strips of Dilbert which deals with the subject.

Cliched as the image may be, there's some truth to it nonetheless. I should know. I am a stereotypical male computer nerd.

At one point, I wished out loud to my friends that I could meet a girl that came with an instruction manual. I meant it in jest, what with women being so complex and all. But apparently, there was such a girl—and no, she was not of the inflatable kind.

In doing advocacy work for Linux, I wrote a series of articles on prominent Linux personalities in the Philippines. One of the people I featured was Sacha Chua, a programming wunderkind who was very much in touch with the pulse of geekdom. Sacha was into Linux, Emacs, and wearable computing. Certainly she made good copy, and several people posted links to that article on my web site.

I conducted the interview via email so we didn't really get to meet. Nevertheless, she came across as very intelligent, very articulate, and very personable in our email exchanges.

Sacha also maintained a wiki — a sort of a blog — where she placed all her code and her essays. One of her entries was entitled "On Love", a tongue-in-cheek how-to to on courting geek girls, particularly, Sacha Chua. Finally, a girl with an instruction manual. Was this the answer to my wish, I wondered.

Humorous as the tone was, the instruction manual was in earnest about Sacha's views on courtship. At the top of the list was intelligent conversation that would increase her stock of knowledge. Getting to know her family was also important to her. Flowers, stuffed animals, and other girly-girly stuff were a no-no. The bar was set high, but it also gave a clear indication as to what kind of person Sacha was. Was I interested? Absolutely!

Of course, I didn't start courting Sacha on the basis of that manual. Distance was a problem as I was based in the South and was travelling all over. But we did strike up a friendship facilitated by email. Through that I learned of her other interests in books, quirky movies, and puzzles.

We finally met when I moved to Manila. We would see each other from time to time. It helped greatly that we were both speakers at Linux seminars. Sacha introduced me to her wonderful family. She also brought me into her circle of friends, something I deeply appreciated because finally I met people of like minds.

I realized that we had something special when we reached that most intimate moment in a geek's life: after a dinner date, I asked her to set up computer for a demo that I was running the following day. She threw herself at the task, completing in half an hour what I knew would have taken me two hours. For a geek guy, well, that's nirvana.

Even though I know Sacha far better than before, the how-to guide still serves as a handy reference. On occasion, I take a peek at it to gauge if I'm doing things right. Not too shabby, I must say.

Then again, you know you love someone when you know when to break her rules. She was positively giddy about the Tux stuffed toy I gave her.

Some expressions of geeky love:

1) The Sacha Chua instruction manual -
http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/wiki/OnLove.php

2) Valentine's Day Challenge
http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/wiki/2005.02.14.php
http://villageidiotsavant.blogspot.com/2005/02/love-as-acm-problem.html

E-Mail from Dominique Cimafranca

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Baguio plans

February 22, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends
 how's this plan
 leave manila thrusday night
 be here friday morning
 have your talk saturday afternoon
 be in manila by sunday mornign
 so that's march 3 - 5

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Watched kabuki

February 22, 2005 - Categories: japan

Watched one act of a kabuki play at http://www.kabuki-za.co.jp/ . It was _beautiful_. Props to dagbrown for that excellent idea. Also, had very unhealthy but fun food—deep-fried buffet.

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Tons of fun

February 26, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends

Clair Ching's birthday party was tons of fun. The scavenger hunt in UP was more of a leisurely stroll around famous UP landmarks, and we enjoyed a great picnic on the grass after all our work.

I'm assmilating JM into our collective. ;) He's a good fit. He's interested in kinesthetic puzzles, chess, books, firespinning, and writing. =)

Dominique has been absolutely wonderful. I'm torturing Marcelle by being so obviously thrilled—but I can't help it. He's just so... <smile>

I'm glad to be home.

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Also saw Diane today!

February 26, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends

Yay yay yay yay! Missed her greatly.

She beat Dominique at thumb-wrestling, so he still doesn't have her complete approval...

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File transfers: Xdrive

February 27, 2005 - Categories: adphoto

Xdrive looks like a promising way to transfer files between clients. It's an additional USD 9.95 a month for 5 GB. If I can find a cheaper mail/web host that still lets me do PHP hacking, then we can move off ipowerweb next year.

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Stock photography

February 27, 2005 - Categories: adphoto

http://www.indexstock.com is an online stock photography service. Check out the guidelines. I think this is a good service for us to look into. Besides, we need to tag photos and cross-reference them with model releases anyway.

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Firedance

February 28, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

You'd expect a show called "Firedance" to have more than ten seconds of fire in it, right?

And not just as some minor decorative touch?

Mrph.

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