September 2005

Progress at cooking!

September 1, 2005 - Categories: cooking

I had microwaved the chicken and slathered on barbecue sauce when I
realized something important: I was out of cooked-and-frozen rice. I
was out of potatoes, too, and I didn’t think the chicken would go well
with hurriedly-thrown together spaghetti.

Then I discovered the wonders of couscous. Once you get the water
boiling, it takes 5 minutes to get nice, fluffy couscous. Instant
carbohydrates! Yes! Another staple for my diet!

Feeling emboldened by my couscous success two days ago, I tried doing
something equally fancy for breakfast today. Besides, I had run out of
oatmeal, and I needed to work on finishing the tomato sauce I opened
for last night’s 6-bean mock chili (can of 6 types of beans + tomato
sauce = quick meal).

I took two hamburger buns out of the freezer, opened them up, and
popped them into the oven. When I eventually remembered them
(accompanied by requisite panicking and reflections on whether or not
burnt food was really as carcinogenic as my sister said), I was
pleasantly surprised to find out that they were… umm… only
slightly burned. I spread copious amounts of tomato sauce onto each
half-bun, topped it with sliced cheese, put a little more tomato
sauce, and added pineapple chunks. Then I spread some foil to catch
any spilled cheese, popped the buns back into the oven and set the
oven to cook for 2 minutes, watching the buns vigilantly. When the
oven beeped, my very own pizza buns were wonderfully warm and yummy.
Whee!

The Great Tomato Adventure continued at dinner. My roommate bequeathed
to me half a bag of fusilli, and I knew spiral pasta would be just
fantastic with tomato sauce. The question was, what should I put on
it? Adobo? Err, maybe not. Roast chicken? Maybe if I covered it in
cheese, but not really…

AHA! I had bought fresh mushrooms on a whim two weeks ago, and they
were starting to make me wonder whether or not mushrooms get moldy
(err, well, moldier). I fetched a saucepan, cut off a generous portion
of butter, melted the butter, washed and sauteed the mushrooms (by
which I mean I hovered about the pan wondering whether or not I was
burning the mushrooms already), and had six nice, big mushrooms nicely
browned just as the pasta finished cooking. I drained the pasta and
added it to a large bowl together with the mushrooms. Because this was
an exercise to get rid of the tomato sauce, I poured a lot more sauce
than I thought I needed. Turned out to be just perfect: the noodles
picked up the taste of the sauce and the mushrooms provided delicious,
buttery contrast.

I arranged the other mushrooms on a plate, added more butter to them,
and put them in the oven with the timer set to 10 minutes. I still
need to figure out how to properly grill vegetables, though, as they
came out tasting cooked but a bit bland. Hmmm…

Progress! I feel like a sliiiiightly better cook. Yay!

Book notes: Financial Freedom on $5 a Day

September 2, 2005 - Categories: book

Title Financial Freedom on $5 a Day
Author Chuck Chakrapani
ISBN 0-88908-952-3

Like most personal finance books, Financial Freedom on $5 a Day
suggests a regular savings plan, dollar-cost averaging for no-load
mutual funds, and eventual diversification into investments that can
weather recession, inflation, and growth markets. The book also talks
about other investment options such as gold and silver trading.

I did find a nifty little tidbit, though: three different techniques
for saving a chunk of your income so that you can invest it later on.
On page 17, Chakrapani describes:

Minus Ten Automatically deduct 10% of your paycheck and put it into a savings account before you even see it. (Pretty standard advice.)
Plus Ten Every time you spend, put aside an extra 10% for your savings. Think of it as extra tax.
Day’s Due Save every day. Minimum recommended: Annual income / 3500. (Was that gross or net?)

The suggestion of saving $5 a day will be difficult for me to meet
considering my already-trimmed budget, but if I stick to my savings
plan and relieve my book expenses by satisfying my addiction at the
libraries, it might actually be doable.

The copy I read was so old that Amazon doesn’t carry it any more, but Amazon lists the 7th edition for USD 2.50 (used). Not worth shipping, though. Read this one at your local library.

Book notes: Rules for the Road

September 2, 2005 - Categories: book

Title Rules for the Road
Author Eve Luppert
ISBN 0-399-52411-8

Luppert’s guide to surviving an entry-level job is a good read for fresh
graduates who need tips on surviving the mindless drudgery of their
first year. “Do stupid things brilliantly,” Luppert counsels, giving
hundreds of tips on surviving everything, including office gossip.

Of particular interest to me was the short segment on managing a
hands-off boss (hello, Mark! ;) ) on page 28. Luppert suggests finding
other people who have done what I’m trying to do and asking them
questions. Saving questions and ideas will help me make the most of rare
moments of contact, and I should take care to update him with tidbits
and stuff. Because he won’t give me constant feedback, I’ll need to give
myself whatever encouragement I need. Hmm.

Book notes: Life Matters

September 2, 2005 - Categories: book

Title Life Matters
Authors A. Roger Merrill, Rebecca R. Merrill

I totally, totally, totally like this book. It’s just _packed_ with
gems. A few pages into the book, I realized I had another must-read in
my hands. This book talks about balancing work, family, time, and
money, and it’s full of very real and warm stories. Don’t be
intimidated by its size. It’s really fun and easy to read!

Let me give you an example of how deep and wonderful this book is. In
the section on work, you won’t find tips on how to cut corners on the
job so that you can spend more time with your family. You won’t find
wheeling-and-dealing tips to help you get ahead. You will, however,
find them not only quoting Kahlil Gibran’s “Work is love made
visible,” but infusing every page with that creed. You’ll hear about
how involving your children in work can help give them an appreciation
of the joy and dignity of work. You’ll learn how to make the most of
your time, and how to stay energized and loving after a long work day.
This is Really Good Stuff.

What I really like about this book is that Rebecca’s stories show the
value of homemaking and how you can learn important lessons from that
underappreciated kind of work. I rarely find women’s insights in
productivity books unless the books are oriented toward women.
Rebecca’s stories about her family and her society, her writing and
her life were given just as much importance as Robert’s stories about
business.

There’s even an audio CD version for all of you podcast- and
CD-listening people out there. Get this book. It’s good. In fact, I
want to buy several copies of this to give to friends. It’s _really_ good.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahoooooooooooo! Published!

September 2, 2005 - Categories: emacs

Bob Erb wrote:

Reading Linux Journal at work today, I get to the article
about todo lists, browsing through it, getting interested when it
started talking about plain text files, then excited when planner-mode
was mentioned, then thinking, “I’ll have to tell emacs-wiki-discuss
about this!” as the discussion of planner-mode continued, then, wow,
it’s you!

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooooo! I’ve been published!
My article on Taming the TODO came out in
Linux Journal #138, October 2005. Buy a copy!

Thanks in no small part to Travis Hartwell (who poked me into actually
_doing_ something that had been on my TODO list for ages), Dominique
Cimafranca (who helped me fix my absolutely horrible first draft),
Jill Franklin and Don Marti of Linux Journal, and of course the
absolutely wonderful Planner community…

Happy happy joy joy! Happy happy joy joy!

E-Mail from Bob Erb

Penguin powwow

September 2, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We, the Penguins of Sacha Chua, are delighted to welcome four additions to the Penguin Circle.

Penguin powwow

Candle-penguin tried its best to stay serious, but the Sock-penguins
and Purse-penguin just couldn’t stop clowning around. As the Linux
penguin, Tux felt slightly jealous because _it_ had started this
entire penguin thing in the first place.

Anyway, we had a nice chat while Sacha went off to watch
March of the Penguins. She came back and told us about the amazing
stuff other penguins go through in the Antartic just to ensure the survival of our species.

If she doesn’t find us tomorrow, you know where we’ll be!

Teaching Carnival

September 2, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Check out the Teaching Carnival for excellent blog posts about education. Good stuff!

Picked up the link from Marcia Hansen’s blog. Read her wonderful reflections on her first experiences as a teacher. Awwwwwwwwww!

Learning how to be an adult

September 3, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Posted a rather painful and educational experience on my LiveJournal as a friends-locked entry. If you want to read about my internal conflicts (don’t know why), send me your LJ id.

Book notes: The 5 patterns of extraordinary careers

September 3, 2005 - Categories: book

Title The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
Authors James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith

Citrin and Smith draw upon extensive experience in executive
recruiting (and we’re talking CEO searches for _big_ companies here!)
to describe the career patterns for high-level executives. Not really
my career path, but people who are interested in rising to the top
through a mix of potential-based promotions (up) and experience-based
promotions (generally sideways) will do well to read this book.

Check out 5patterns.com for a self-test,
a useful job survival guide, and other goodies.

Lifehack from Mom: Drying your drip-dry and dry-flat clothes? No problem!

September 4, 2005 - Categories: family

My mom is _amazing._ I told her about my problems finding a neat and
roommate-friendly way to dry clothes that were too delicate for even
the light cycle on the machine dryer. Hanging clothes on the bath
curtain rod resulted in far too much dripping on the linoleum floor,
and I had no idea how to go about satisfying those finicky dry-flat
clothes. I needed expert help.

And Mom rose to the occasion.

I couldn’t do anything permanent to the bathroom walls, so we searched
for a suction-based portable clothesline. That was easy to find. Then
we needed to figure out how to handle dry-flat clothes.

Mom suggested a boot tray with highly-absorbent towels or cloth
diapers on top, but we couldn’t find a nice tray. We found a sweater
rack with air holes, but we still needed to catch the liquid somehow.

Drawing upon years and years of dealing with spills and messes, Mom
came up with a brilliant idea: use a baby change pad. Highly-absorbent
cotton on one side, waterproof lining on the other. _Perfect._

Wow.

Love

September 4, 2005 - Categories: love

I’m such a lucky girl to have such an amazing family. I love them sooooooooooo much.

Being in the moment

September 4, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

There are so many things that my mom and I should do before school
starts, before she leaves, before everything else happens all at once.
But all I want to do is rest my head against her shoulder and hug her,
to breathe in and out with her, to drink in her presence and savor
just being there.

Only those who have the luxury of time can waste it in silence. To be
in the moment, not thinking about where to go next or what to do. To
simply be _there._

Developing a system

September 4, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m quite pleased with my household chores whirl. It’s all neatly pipelined.

Roughly:

  1. Sort clothes into hand-wash and machine wash piles. Strip bed and put linen into machine wash pile.
  2. Set up hot soak in sink and cold soak in large bucket. Soak hand-wash laundry.
  3. Dump machine wash pile into washing machine. Set the timer when I get back.
  4. Microwave rice, roast chicken + barbecue sauce, and frozen vegetables.
  5. Enjoy meal.
  6. Scrape leftovers into trash can and soak dishes in soapy hot water.
  7. Transfer machine-washed clothes to dryer.
  8. Hand-wash clothes and hang them up to dry.
  9. Wash dishes.
  10. Dust surfaces.
  11. Vacuum floor.
  12. Pick up dry clothes, fold them, and put them away.
  13. Make bed.
  14. Do other tasks.

Shameless plug for Software Freedom Day

September 6, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Celebrate Software Freedom Day on the 10th! It’s a great time to score Linux CDs for people who haven’t tried Linux yet. For all you lucky Cebu-based people out there, check out the Open Source & Computer Security Laboratory for training. Say hi to Justin Wiley, the guy who asked for this shameless plug! ;)

Fixed

September 6, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Apparently, all that’s needed to get me past something traumatic are
several very good cries and a nice long weekend with my mom.

One of the coolest things about publishing your task list

September 7, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Comment from Randy Park:

Hi Sacha! I just happened to Google my name (for research purposes)
and your page came up, with me on your to-do list (not done yet…) I
did see your note on the form, and am very interested in sharing of
information. I live/work near U of T so maybe we can do coffee some
time.

=)

On social networks

September 8, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Jared Spool of UIE is trying out LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network.

Here’s what I like about LinkedIn.

- Discovering people who are in my area. For example, I’ve found a

number of personal coaches in Toronto who are connected to me some
way or another. Isn’t that nifty?

- Referring people to others. Big win. Great fun.

- Learning about the companies people work for. I don’t often hear

about someone’s employment history unless I happen to stumble upon a
relevant question, but seeing people’s backgrounds lets me go, “Hey!
Travis! You work for a game company?!”

- Keeping up to date with people’s changing e-mail addresses. Better

than having a separate address book web app, which might be more
spammy.

MIE1407F: Engineering Psychology and Human Performance

September 8, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Paul Milgram talked about the course mechanics and gave us a whirlwind
tour of incredibly complex systems that are out there. I’ve heard this
course is a lot of work, but it’ll teach me a lot. I’m going to need
to work on statistics and experiment design, as I don’t have much
background in that.

Research interest: social information systems?

September 8, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

As I think about what I’d like to spend the next two years studying, I
find myself going between personal information management and
something (new? old?) that for lack of a better term I will call
social information management. Blogging, social bookmarking and
social networking aren’t quite personal-information-management topics,
but they aren’t quite groupware either. These tools support weak ties
with people outside your usual circles, and I’m fascinated by how much
we gain when we share information with strangers.

Personalized personal information management systems

September 8, 2005 - Categories: emacs

Don Marti quotes an e-mail from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer:

The productivity software we have today is designed for
everyone, but it doesn’t really map to the specific kinds of jobs
people have.

Sophisticated, feature-packed personal information managers are out
there, but most people use a fraction of the functionality, or even
throw their hands up in despair and stick with e-mail as their
task-manager and calendar all in one. We’re moving towards
simplification. 37signals.com‘s big win
is that they make web-based task managers that are simple enough to do
just what people want and not more.

I think that the biggest win in terms of personal information
management comes when we customize software to the kind of data people
work with—and more importantly, the _way_ they work with that data.
The ultracustomizable
Planner showed
me that even something as small as task sort order could be incredibly
individualized. For example, today I tried sorting my tasks by role
and then by my usual stuff. Other times I’ve sorted it by combinations
of categories. Other people have written code to sort it by importance
and urgency, following Dr. Stephen Covey’s suggestions, and yet others
sort by more sophisticated rules. All of that from something that
traditional PIMs would limit to predefined table headings like “Due
date” or “Category”!

How would this kind of tailoring scale? Boxed software products aim to
satisfy the majority and make their profits on economies of scale.
Customized software takes advantage of the economies of niches, of the
long tail effect of the Web.

When it comes to Planner, I don’t mind spending time writing code for
just one person. Chances are, other people will find that code useful
too. Besides, most tweaks are created and shared by the community, and
that’s ubercool. I learn _so_ much from them, and I’m grateful for the
opportunity to help tailor Planner to become _their_ personal
information manager.

Looking at all the Web 2.0 stuff coming out, I think that kind of
customization is going to be even more important. User-centered design
is front and center. Users take an active role in shaping the features
of an application. Software is turning into a conversation.

That’s cool.

Social software

September 8, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Ethan Zuckerman writes about how a large volunteer effort was quickly mobilized on the Net. The software support was crude: wikis, databases, data chunks for manual entry by a massively parallel array of humans. The end result: fantastic. Read it and start thinking about ways to make things better.

Ethan also points out the power of posses. Amen, brother! One of my greatest
treasures is the group of friends I can call on for a cause or an
emergency. Social software extends that beyond the small group of
people in my address book to anyone who cares to read my blog, and
it makes it easier for people passing the call on to _other_ posses,
other cliques, other groups through their own blogs. Very good stuff.

Link from Don Marti’s post on “Genetically Engineered Cash Cow”

Planning reflection

September 8, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I haven’t posted a planning reflection in a while. I thought I’d think
out loud again after rereading Covey’s _First Things First_ and the
Merrills’ _Life Matters._ This isn’t _the_ way to use Planner. In
fact, I like thinking out loud about my planning style because I love
getting suggestions and advice from others. (This community is
amazing!)

Today I experimented with dividing my tasks according to roles. It’s a
little like planner-trunk.el, but I added the labels manually. This
lets me make sure I’m doing something useful in the roles I wanted to
concentrate on. I would like to eventually move to doing weekly
role-based planning, but I haven’t quite figured out a nice way to do
a week plan.

Here are my thoughts on my planning method so far:

Roles

Bunching my tasks according to roles makes it easier for me to
concentrate and prioritize. You can use planner-trunk to do that
too, or just rearrange your tasks and add blank lines between them.
Blank lines don’t automatically get carried forward, though.

Weekly planning

The main reason I have a paper planner (8.5″ x 11″: weekly calendar +
todo list + notes) is have that week-at-a-glance view. I like iCal’s
interface for planning tasks on a weekly basis, but I’m not entirely
sure how to map that onto Emacs, and I like my daily notes and my
day-view task list.

So now I’m trying to figure out how to do exactly what was discussed
on the mailing list a week or two ago: good week planning. I don’t
think I’ve ever come across an Emacs PIM that made me go aha, yes,
that’s the way to do it, although howm’s searching comes close and
org’s outlining can sort of do the trick. Well, so can Planner with
new plan pages, I suppose.

As I was trying to figure out how to do weekly planning, I realized I
didn’t know a nice, easy Emacs function for finding the current week
number. Would anyone happen to have that handy? Alternatively, I could
use something like Week.2005.09.05 to signify the week starting on
2005.09.05 (depending on calendar-week-start-day).

Maybe I could vertically divide the screen between a week view, with
tasks indicating my priorities, and a day view that shows the actual
goods. Then I can use planner-multi to schedule tasks from the week
view, and page forward and backward on the day view to check my load.

With planner-cyclic and planner-deadline in place, that would actually
be better than my paper planner. =)

I keep wondering whether we should do what everyone else does and
store a task once and only once. I don’t know how to hack that so that
it will let me manipulate the tasks as plain text, though. I like
adding blank lines in the middle of things, or changing the sorting
order, or doing other weird stuff. So I guess duplicated text works
better for me.

Undated tasks

Undated tasks tend to get forgotten, but the
sacha/planner-schedule-next-task code I had in my config was a bit
annoying. When I caught myself unscheduling a task even before
properly reading it, I turned that off in my config.

I think it’s because I need to rearrange the tasks in my plan pages so
that the important ones come out first. I’ve already tweaked
sacha/planner-schedule-next-task to add a new task only when I’ve
finished all scheduled tasks on that page for that particular project,
but it seems that after I finish a sublist of tasks, I feel like
changing contexts.

Maybe I can make a next-actions function that goes through a list of
projects and tells me what the next action is. When I have
unexpectedly free time, I can hit a shortcut to call that function,
and it will list the most important task (and perhaps the least
important as well? ;) ) in various pages.

Hey, that would be a low-cost thing to implement. We already have the
pieces for that…

Publishing

One of the side-benefits of publishing your task list is that
occasionally people will go and do the tasks for you. For example, one
of my TODOs was to write the speaker at a recent convention. I liked
his talk and I wanted to learn more about personal coaching. Because
I’ve been busy these past few days (my mom’s visiting, school’s
starting, etc.), I kept putting it off…

… until I got a note from him saying he searched for his name, found
my TODO, and decided to write to me. ^_^ Yay!

What’s this? I’ve been fooled!

September 8, 2005 - Categories: life

My stationery envelope doesn’t have any adhesive! It’s not a
lick-and-seal envelope! I’ve been fooled!

I don’t have any stickers handy. =( I should go out and get a pack of
nice stickers tomorrow.

Notes from meeting with Stephen Perelgut, Neil Ernst and Alvin Chin

September 9, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We met at Bahen to talk about the upcoming IBM CASCON workshop on
“cool technologies.” Stephen gave us an idea of the kind of demand:
we’ve got the biggest room, the best machines, and we’re doing the
workshop _twice._ I’m _really_ looking forward to evangelizing these
insanely useful tools!

We talked about the structure of the CASCON workshop and how the
topics would flow into each other:

Introduction of topics, how to post comments on blogs Stephen
Blogging Alvin
Aggregators Alvin
Wikis Neil
del.icio.us and social bookmarking Sacha

A good lead-in for the workshop would be to have participants add the
following to an introduction thread for the workshop:

- Who are you?
- Why are you here?
- What do you want to get out of the course?
- Link to webpage, etc.

This not only gives them a taste of how easy it is to respond to a
blog, but also gives us plenty of feedback to work into the 3-hour
tutorial.

We want to show them that blogging isn’t just about personal journals.
Getting them hooked on topic-related blogs and convincing them to use
project-related blogs or boss-blogs to communicate with others would
be a big, immediate win. Blogs are great as a personal lab notebook,
and wikiblogs would be even more fantastic.

We talked a bit about the use of blogging in universities. The
humanities people really caught on to the idea of blogs. In fact, most
of the activity I’m seeing in the edublogging frontier comes from
English teachers. Isn’t that so cool?

For wikis, we want to emphasize the use of wikis for intranet
documentation, because that’s another immediately useful big win for
them.

I’ll get to evangelize social bookmarking. Yay! Yay! I’m a really big
fan of using del.icio.us to discover new, useful sites.

Next steps: prepare content for the workshop, move the CASCON blog to
the new server, and write content for the blog.

New planner tweak: sort tasks by time

September 9, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I’ve taken to tagging my tasks with times, and here’s some code to
automatically sort tasks by time, status, and priority. I use it on
day pages. My plan pages are sorted differently. =)

I could go on and on about how powerful customizable task sorting
functions are. Kudos to Jody Klymak and John Sullivan for suggesting
this last December! It’s one of the things I love about planner. =)

(defun sacha/planner-sort-tasks-basic ()
  "Sort tasks by time (@1030, etc), status (_P>XC) and priority (ABC)."
  (let* ((info (planner-current-task-info))
         (status (aref (planner-task-status info) 0)))
    (concat
     ;; time
     (or (and (string-match "@[0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]" (planner-task-description info))
              (match-string 0 (planner-task-description info)))
         "@9999")
     ;; status
     (cond
      ((eq status ?o) "1")
      ((eq status ?P) "2")
      ((eq status ?>) "3")
      ((eq status ?X) "4")
      ((eq status ?C) "5")
      (t "9"))
     (planner-task-priority info))))

See my planner-config.el for my
complete task sorting code and lots of other config stuff. =)

Personal productivity reading list

September 9, 2005 - Categories: productivity

Dean Michael C. Berris commented on my blog:

Great online PIM links! I’ve fallen in love with Ta-da and backpackit! :D

There’s plenty more where that came from. Let me tell you how I get my
productivity news so that you can catch the same wave.

- I learn about cool new sites through

del.icio.us, a social bookmarking service.
Check out my inbox to see my
subscriptions. I don’t visit all the new sites every day. I usually
page through a few screens, opening interesting or popular sites in
background tabs until I feel I’ve caught up well enough. I don’t
worry about missing good stuff because I’ll catch them when other
people bookmark the sites again.

- I read many productivity blogs in my feed aggregator. I like

Bloglines because it allows me to
categorize my subscriptions. I can read all the productivity-related
entries in one go. You can check out my subscriptions.

- I get comments on my blog. Thanks for all the tips!

If you’re just starting out in personal productivity, particularly
geek productivity, here’s what you should read:

- Danny O’Brien. One of the guys who started the whole thing. Check

out Cory Doctorow’s notes on his talks about lifehacks.
http://www.craphound.com/lifehacks2.txt looked at alpha geek habits.
http://www.craphound.com/etech2005-lifehacks.txt .

- http://www.lifehack.org/ , a linkblog fueled by an active community.

http://www.lifehack.org summarizes and links to good posts from many
blogs, but you might also want to add some blogs to your aggregator to
make them easier to visit. Here’s what I’d recommend:

- http://www.43folders.com – Merlin Mann’s posts ripple through the productivity blogosphere
- http://www.to-done.com – Clear writing
- http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog – Longer, more reflective articles

Have fun, and happy lifehacking!

Planner for Eclipse?

September 9, 2005 - Categories: emacs

One of the things I really love about Planner is that
my blogging and task tracking tool is built into my working
environment. A task or note is never more than a keystroke away.

When Stephen asked me if there was a blogging plugin for Eclipse, I
thought: hey, there should be one. Why hasn’t something like Planner
been written for Eclipse yet? It’s insanely useful. A search for
“blog” on the Eclipse plugin page turns up nothing promising.

Right after Stephen asked me about blogging plugins, Alvin remarked
that it was too much trouble to switch to a separate application for
blogging. _Exactly_ why I like Planner so much.

And exactly why a pluggable and hackable wikiblog like Planner would
be perfect for Eclipse.

I wonder if we’re on to something here. Building blogging and wiki
tools into a development environment allows the blog/wiki engine to
take advantage of rich metadata. We can make it easy for people to
keep project blogs and personal knowledgebases. This would be Good
Stuff.

And—more challenging—we can go beyond the line-number hyperlinking
done by Planner. We can take advantage of Eclipse’s semantic parsing
to attach entries to pieces of code that might be refactored. How
would that work? I don’t know how to do that yet.

What do we get? A developer’s notebook. This is good stuff. Time to
find out if it’s masters-level good stuff…

Sprinting

September 11, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I really wanted to spend today with Mom, but I realized that I needed
to prepare for the start of school. My mom (being an absolutely cool
and wonderful mom) went ahead with her plans to visit the zoo with one
of the Canadians we hosted three years ago, and I spent the day going
through my high-priority tasks.

Planner really helped keep me on track. I started the day by listing
all of the things I needed to do in order to prepare for the next two
days. I arranged them so that I’d be doing related things together,
and I set times. Then I just plowed through the tasks. Fun!

Some thoughts:

- I need an audio timer. I can probably use my computer for this.

Extra points if I can get it to automatically pick up the details
from my planner page. This might be good for remind or appt.el…

- Suggested review questions are very good for active reading.

Unfortunately, my enggpsych text doesn’t have them. I currently
write down my notes on an index card and re-encode them as part of a
mindmap. I should write myself review questions for flashcard-style
or fill-in-the-blanks reviews.

- As a teaching assistant, I can skim the text looking for important

points. I don’t need to score 100% on tests. I just need to find
ideas to tie into lab exercises.

- I’m running into some problems with my Toastmasters speech on

introductions. I initially imagined it with a strong
personal-coaching slant, plenty of passion, that sort of delivery.
Thinking about it a bit more, though, I don’t think I should sell
the idea so strongly, given the fact that the audience is older and
more experienced than I am. I’m currently favoring an advice-seeking
approach telling my own story instead of focusing on what people
should do.

- I should work on finding a note-taking style that fits me. I’m

moving away from paper again because my 8.5″x11″ binder is a bit too
big and heavy. I _might_ use index cards to capture diagrams and
notes that I can’t easily describe.

Life on a good network

September 12, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Pulling packages from ftp.ca.debian.org:

Total Progress:  [ 54% ] (3173kB/s, 1m27s remaining)

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Spending time with my mom

September 12, 2005 - Categories: family

One of the best things about keeping a TODO list is being able to
spend time on things that are important to me.

My mom is leaving in a few days, and today my TODO list reassured me
that I can spend time with her and still know that the important
things I needed to do are either all done or doable.

I overextended myself last week, but I feel confident that I
can deal with the extra urgency.

Presentation insights from science competitions

September 13, 2005 - Categories: speaking

On community.lifehack.org: presentation tips from a science fair competitor. Makes me wish I’d gotten into the science fair circuit!

I’ve given many presentations on topics like wearable computing,
embedded computing, Linux in education, and personal information
management. I used to think, “Oh no, they want me to talk about
wearable computing again?!” Then I realized that the more I talked
about something, the more comfortable I became with the topic, and the
more I could connect with a large audience. I started telling stories
and showing comics, and presenting became tons of fun.

I think I should hook up with a few other Toastmasters clubs so that I
can give the same speech to many different audiences. It’s good
practice for me, and a whole lot of fun.

ACM training again

September 13, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I saw a poster for the ACM programming tryouts. I’m really rusty, but
it would be good for me to find other geeks and learn from them. =)
Besides, I’m curious about their training. Will I qualify, though? I’m
not sure if my one class in an MAEd counts. I need less than 5 years
of post-secondary studies. Ack, ack, ack.

It’ll be fun to go anyway. =)

Teaching assistantship

September 14, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The teaching assistant for the next class promised to pass by at 1:00
to pick up the projector, but he didn’t show up until 2:00. I couldn’t
leave the projector alone and the office was closed, so I ended up
waiting in the lab for an hour. I used the time to read through
lecture notes. Interesting handouts! I particularly liked the articles
from business magazines on decision support systems and change
management.

I also reviewed Excel features in preparation for my labs. It’s such a
pity that the book I was reading was published in 1994. Yes, it’s
_that_ old. Egads. I really need to find a newer book on Microsoft
Excel. Yes, guys, my job as a teaching assistant involves preaching
the goodness of Excel. It’s not a bad tool, really. I like Solver and
I think PivotTables are really powerful in the right hands.
Microsoft Excel is abused far less often than Microsoft Word. (Hear
that, all you people sending DOCs when web pages or text files would
do?) It’s also less insidious than Microsoft Powerpoint, which stunts
most people’s presentation skills. Microsoft Excel is not a bad thing.

=)

I need to figure out a good way to do the labs. The room is a classic
computer lab with big monitors on rows and rows of desks. At 5’1/4″, I
can barely be seen from the back row—and that’s already with my
attention-getting red-and-orange outfit!

Demonstrations would also be hard to follow from the back. There are
far too many distractions: the hum of the airconditioner, the
clickety-clack of other keyboards, the glow of almost forty other
monitors… And it’s 12 – 1 PM, too! Heck, _I_ felt kinda sleepy.

On the plus side, one student said she liked me because my voice was
loud enough to be heard. Hooray for drama in education, and hooray for
Toastmasters!

So.

How can I best help them learn?

What am I there to help them learn?

My job is to help them learn how to apply ideas from their decision
support systems lectures by using software such as Microsoft Excel,
Jess, and Weka.

I _could_ stand up there and demo everything, but I don’t think
they’ll walk away with important lessons. I want them to try out at
least one new feature: to know that it’s there, why it’s there, and
how to learn more about it. I want them to have time to work on their
project, too, but that’s really something they’re going to end up
working on outside class. I need to talk to Peter Shepard about how
much time they should budget for that project.

Self-paced lab exercises helped my first-year Java students back in
Ateneo de Manila University, and something like that just might work
here as well. I’ll need to prepare interesting, engaging exercises
that will expose the students to various features of Excel. I can
spend 5 – 7 minutes (hah! A Toastmasters talk!) at the beginning of
the class to establish the importance of the topic and perhaps take
any questions, let them loose on the topics, and then wrap up at the
end. I’ll need better feedback than waiting for questions. Maybe
comments on a blog or on the (very slow) course website? Little slips
of paper? Index cards? I don’t know yet. I need to figure that out
before next week.

It’s fun teaching again…

Discovering my inner nerd

September 14, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

People who’ve known me since childhood know that I’ve never been an
academic geek. Who, me? Grades didn’t really matter. In fact, one of
my teachers once tsktsked and said he’d never seen such an
underachiever in his life. (Ds. In English. Sheesh. My department
chair scolded me about that.)

All of the exciting stuff in my life was extracurricular. Programming
competitions didn’t require straight As. Open source advocacy didn’t
require cum laudes. As long as I didn’t get kicked out of school, I
was fine.

I don’t know when I started to take school more seriously, but one day
I must’ve decided to see if I could do it. Just for kicks. And I did.
I decided to enjoy my Philosophy course, and that was just wonderful.
People were copying my philosophy notes. That was probably
because I was typing near-transcripts of his stuff in realtime,
although in retrospect, none of that turned out to be useful for
anything other than recognizing his classic rants. People weren’t just
downloading my notes, though. They came up to me before class and
asked me to explain passages. That was fun. =)

Hmm. Explaining stuff. That could be another factor, too. I moved into
the dorm halfway through college. Being around other people taking the
same course certainly made a difference. I loved joining group study
sessions because I could test my knowledge and help people learn
something new. Yeah, that was a key thing. Group study. I should write
about that for the On Campus magazine; that’s another key thing I want
to tell students about.

I’d like to find out if I’ve got an inner nerd. Might not be a good
idea to do that because I might end up kicking myself over the stuff I
missed before! <grin> But what’s done is done, and I haven’t
done too badly either. Graduate school’s a second chance to see if
I’ve actually got it in me to slog through textbooks and keep
everything organized. Now that I’ve got a personal opinion of myself
to live up to (and scholarships I’d like to apply for or retain!),
having fun studying certainly makes more sense.

I was really worried about statistics. See, the last time I did an
ANOVA test was in high school, and I wasn’t really paying attention
then. I’d never used Minitab (or even other statistical packages), but
after experimenting, Googling, and asking classmates for help, I
figured out how to import data and produce a couple of graphs. I
explored the features of the software and found a couple of useful
functions. I also asked my lab partner and the teaching assistant to
teach me how to interpret two-way ANOVA results. Crash course in
statistics! =) I feel confident about that part now. Next: learn about
human factors and read some of the suggested references so that I can
use their insights in the report.

You know, this studying thing can be kinda fun… =)

Discovering exercise

September 15, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Today I not only discovered my inner nerd, but I also started down the long and slippery path of cultivating my inner jock. ;)

Well, no, not really. But I _did_ step inside the athletic center just
across the street. After all, my funding’s already paying for it.
Might as well use it at least _once_ in the semester, right?

After wandering through twisty little passages (all alike), I
eventually found a drop-in class that promised a good workout. The
Steps workout is an aerobic thing that uses, well, a step in front of
you. I floundered like the uncoordinated geek that I am, but I managed
to enjoy myself. Forty minutes of workout flew by really quickly!

So that was fun. Stretching was fun, too, but I still have a terrible
time doing crunches. I had to stop several times just to catch my
breath and untangle my not-quite-there-yet abs.

Good workout. I think I’ll go again next week.

I tried the exercise bikes, too. There were really cool ones that
measure your heart rate and adjust the resistance automatically. I
didn’t have the time or energy to stick it out through the whole
30-minute thing, though, so that’s something I’m going to try again
next week. =) Something to look forward to!

No 30-day pledges, no promises to stick to a thrice-weekly schedule.
I’m just going to see if I can make it back next week.

Places to shop

September 16, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized
ACT TWO 596 Mount Pleasant, 416-487-2486 Designer cast-offs
CHOCKY’S 352 Queen West, 416-977-1831; 2584 Yonge, 416-483-8227 Pajamas and jackets
ENDS 1930 Queen East, 416-699-2271, etc. Wool overcoats, etc.
JO’S CLOTHES CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE 682 Queen East Designer cast-offs
ROZANEH 7998 College vintage

Geekwear

September 16, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I actually like wearing geek swag: clothes and accessories with a
logo or geek reference. Geek swag identifies me to other geeks and
makes it easier for geeks of similar interests to start conversations
with me. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

I want geek swag, but I want geek swag that fits my lifestyle.

- I occasionally wear T-shirts. My Linux conference baby tee is

much-loved and often-worn.

- I really want some kind of geek bag, but I also want my

multi-compartment tote with all sorts of nifty pockets.

- I want a geek sweater or hoodie that I can wear more often than a T-shirt.

- I want geek earrings. (Anyone who makes pretty Tux earrings for a

reasonable price will have my business.)

- I want an index card holder with a pen loop. This is more for my

D*I*Y Planner geekiness.

- I want stickers. My current sticker reads “The geek shall inherit

the earth.” It’s bright red and white, and can’t help but draw
attention to my ubercute-and-small laptop.

- I want a D*I*Y 1″ or 1.5″ zippered binder, just because. Yes, I have

far too many binders already. That doesn’t stop me from wanting a
D*I*Y Planner one.

Okay. Let’s see. I can focus on making either a geek hoodie or a geek
bag, and then move on from there.

Hmmmm.

I know people who have silkscreened stuff.

Heck, I stenciled a shirt in grade school. And it turned out quite
good, too.

I should be able to do it again, but this time, cooler.

I should learn how to silkscreen. That’ll probably be easier once I figure out how to get frames sorted out…

Silk-screening workshop

September 16, 2005 - Categories: learning

Peach Berserk‘s
silk-screening workshop looks amazing. I love their dresses, but not
their prices! <laugh>

Let’s start out by silkscreening something small, and see
how much I can figure out by myself…

Microsoft booth babes

September 17, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Regarding the latest LinuxWorld Philippines:

happy_eclair there were so many babes at the MS booth
sachac <roll eyes> It figures. Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks… ;)
happy_eclair they even had Barbie Almalbis of Barbie’s cradle
happy_eclair Yeah. Manny Amador was saying PLUG only had one booth babe – me! *laughs*

Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks…

I know all’s fair in love and business, but must Microsoft _really_
stoop to stuff like that? All the comments I get about LinuxWorld
mention the ‘MS babes’ some way or another.

From Jijo’s comments:

It was truly weird entering the exhibit area to be greeted by their big booth located front and center, with attractive (and distracting) Microsoft Babes at their booth and at the entrance. I also caught the tail end of a talk on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2005, which was a time slot ahead of my talk, in the same room.

Oh, wait, it’s Microsoft. Right. They’re not exactly known for ethics.

This is what makes me grit my teeth and remember that somewhere in
Microsoft are good people who like making things that help others.
I have friends who work at Microsoft. They’re decent people.

They’re just weighed down by a terrible corporate culture that focuses
on crushing the competition. Court docs: Ballmer vowed to ‘kill’ Google. At least IBM has guidelines telling employees never to trash-talk the competitors.

Congratulations, Microsoft. You’ve just succeeded in your marketing
objective: distract people from your real problems.

When are we going to see _real_ answers to the stuff we keep
complaining about?

I’m going to write someone I know in Microsoft to say how disappointed
I am in their marketing…

UPDATE:
- Clair’s entry

Phonecards

September 17, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Turns out that the phonecard I’m using gives me great rates for
calling cellphones in the Philippines, but has ridiculous surchanges,
so it’s better to use all 40 minutes at once. That’s the $5 Yoyo
prepaid calling card.

There’s another phonecard without connection fees, but the cellphone
rate for that one is probably higher. I’ll try getting that one later.

Pfft. Open source isn’t much better at dealing with this.

September 17, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized
jsgotangco but the babes where fun!!!! *hides*
sachac And people wonder why there aren’t many girls into IT… ;)
jsgotangco girl
jsgotangco clair hasn’t told you about Red Hat’s booth
jsgotangco it had this huge pic of carmen electra saying fsck me…

SHEESH. Shame on all of you.

Remembrance agent for GUIs for the Mac

September 17, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Onlife looks ubercool.

Onlife is an application for the Mac OS X that observes your every interaction with sofware applications such as Safari, Mail and iChat and then creates a personal shoebox of all the web pages you visit, emails you read, documents you write and much more. Onlife then indexes the contents of your shoebox, makes it searchable and displays all the interactions between you and your favorite apps over time.

It’s like Remembrance Agent (Emacs) and Dashboard (GNOME), but cooler.

That settles it. I want a Mac when this computer falls apart. =) All
the interesting productivity developments are happening on Macs.

E-Mail from Sven Kloppenburg

The Great Merge

September 17, 2005 - Categories: emacs

Thanks to Yann Hodique‘s totally awesome
backend structure in hodique@lifl.fr—test/planner—merge—1.0, the distinction between planner/emacs-wiki and planner/muse is on the way to disappearing. Yann’s Elisp-fu is far beyond mine, and it shows in the elegance and cleanliness of the backend code.

It’s much, much better than my kludgy attempts when I wrote the first
port of Planner to Muse. I kept running into problems thinking of an
elegant way to combine both backends. I just wanted to get Planner out
the door, so I tagged a new branch and replaced all the emacs-wiki
code with muse equivalents.

That spurred a lot of development on the planner-muse front, and we
blessed Michael Olson’s tree as the canonical planner-muse branch.
Keeping up with patches became a real headache, though, because of all
the translation between branches.

I’ve tagged a new tree off Yann Hodique’s branch and made emacs-wiki
work again. I’ve also brought it up to the latest dev (I think!), and
I’ll be using it for the next few weeks. A number of modules still
require emacs-wiki, and with the Planner community’s help, we hope to
open them up to Muse people as well!

You can grab the merged tree with

tla register-archive http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/arch
tla get sacha@free.net.ph--main/planner--merge--1.0 planner

Back up your plans and customize planner-backend. Have fun!

More about call centers

September 17, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

A lot of people look down on call centers. I think that’s wrong. I
think there’s dignity in the work that people do at call centers. I
think that people pick up so many transferable skills. Call centers
are great at helping people learn how to deal with difficult people.
Call centers teach people patience, because people can’t yell at
customers online (even if they’re being really dumb!). Call centers
teach people how to deal with stress. Call centers help people learn
how to communicate, and that’s probably the most important skill in
today’s world.

I firmly believe that tech graduates should be exposed to customers
and trained to communicate even if they’re eventually going to go into
deep systems hackery. There might be better ways to learn these
things, but a call center job isn’t a complete waste of time. If
people learn how to make the most of even their call center
experience, then they’ll be much better off.

If people think that call centers are a dead end—well, that’s _our_
fault! Are we building the companies that provide opportunities for
others? Are we offering interesting challenges and competitive
salaries to attract and retain people? Or are we just sitting back and
complaining about the lack of real opportunities in the Philippines?

Oooooh. Linux Journal editorial calendar up!

September 17, 2005 - Categories: geek

Check out the Linux Journal editorial calendar to see what they’re planning to feature next year, and you’ll immediately see which issue I am _definitely_ submitting a proposal for…

Programming languages: Quantity? Quality? I think we’re asking the wrong question.

September 18, 2005 - Categories: emacs

More from Francis Ocoma:

Should I try to master every popular programming language
that I come across, or should I just pick the ones I really like, and
stick to them (Right now my favorites are Ruby and C++)? Our school
currently forces us to learn such uglies as VB.NET <http://VB.NET> and
VBScript, imagine that! And now I’m having a hard time concentrating
on my self-study of Python, which I know is far more popular than
Ruby. Is it really worth learning these programming languages now,
just because I might end up being hired by a company that requires
them in the future?

I could tell you to focus on quality, not quantity. I could advise you
to pay attention to what you need for your school and your career. Or
I could point out that we could be missing the big picture here.

I think that how many programming languages you know is far less
important than what you actually _do_ with those languages. A lot of
people focus on listing programming languages on their resume, but
they don’t show how they’ve actually _used_ these languages beyond the
toy exercises in the classroom.

I think this is where most graduates fail. That’s why they have such a
hard time finding jobs. They can list popular languages, but they
can’t show what they can do with them, and they can’t speak with any
real passion about their work.

What does it mean to have studied VB.NET for a semester? What does it
mean to be able to make graphical applications in Java? What does it
mean to have two years of experience in C++? It takes ten years to become an expert.
There’s a huge difference between ten years experience, and one year repeated ten times.

That’s why open source projects are so important. They give you
real-world opportunities to work with other people. If you’re lucky
enough to work for a company that’ll pay you while you figure out a
new language, good for you. If you’re not, open source gives you a way
to experiment and keep learning.

The amazing thing is that you don’t have to know a lot in order to
contribute. I joined the iPaq bootldr project only vaguely remembering
C and without any assembly experience. I started maintaining Planner
barely comfortable with Emacs Lisp. All you really need is the ability
to read other people’s code and create a solution that fits in—a
skill highly prized by employers.

Your work will be reviewed by other developers, who’ll tell you what
you can improve and teach you better ways of doing things. It will
also be inspected by your users, who’ll judge your code not by how
elegant it is or how long it took you to write it, but whether it
works for them. And when you read other people’s code, you’re going to
learn the idioms and tricks that people accumulate with years and
years of experience.

Even more important: you’ll pick up domain knowledge. Software engineers are useless. Generic software engineers, that is. Programming is not an end. It is a _means_.
Learn enough about at least one area to make a difference in it.
And you know what? If you find the domain you’re interested in and you
become comfortable with the programming languages you need to solve
problems in that domain, then you’ll probably be able to choose any job you want.

If you’re not interested in the domain, however, then no amount of
programming expertise can make your work truly satisfying and
productive. You’d be a hammer in search of a nail, a solution looking
for a problem. You need to be interested in your work. You need to see
how you’re making a difference. If not, it’s just a 9 – 5 job with too
much overtime and stress, and you’re going to burn out.

So get out there, find out what you’re interested, and learn with a
purpose. Don’t just collect computer languages for the sake of listing
them on your resume. Solve real problems and make a difference, and
you’ll have plenty of experience and transferable skills to enrich
your career.

Technology transforming education

September 18, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Check out this ubercool educational technology post on Students Producing Content for Real Audiences. Hats off to teachers who can reimagine their classrooms and use technology to get students even more involved!

Great job ad

September 18, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

IKEA: We’re Hiring Why Sayers.

Just for that, Ikea gets karma points. Read the blog post and see if your job ads are as good as that.

Walked for 5 hours today

September 18, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I guess that satisfies my exercise quota. ;)

I wanted to get started in screen printing and decorating. I _could_
hand it off to someone to mass-produce, but I’ve got quirky ideas that
would probably make learning how to do it myself pay off.

I bought a screen printing kit and I’ll be making shirts for myself.
I’ll also make a special D*I*Y Planner shirt for Doug. =)
And if I really like it, I’ll play around with other designs…

I also bought some canvas so that I can make my own patches. I want a
D*I*Y logo on my bag. Or a geek logo. Hmmm. Maybe I can do something
to make the patches hotswappable…

I’m tired! I’m not going to make the shirts today. I’m going to rest a
bit and then work on my lab report so I have something to show
tomorrow. =) I’ll do the shirts tomorrow night.

Awww, how sweet!

September 18, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Webcomic: How Dave and Raina Got Engaged

Pinoy Teachers Network

September 18, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Pinoy Teachers Network totally rocks.

We are professional Filipino educators. We are going to inspire, be proactive, give hope, and go the extra mile.

Hats off to them! =D

Networking for Geeks: Finding the Bleeding Edge through del.icio.us

September 19, 2005 - Categories: connecting, geek

Want to plunge into a field? Here’s how to figure out who the early
adopters are and what you should be reading in order to get on the
bleeding edge.

What are people paying attention to?
del.icio.us tells you what’s the latest and
greatest. Find out which tags match your interests and subscribe to
them.

_Who_ are people paying attention to? Click on the “… and
1487 other people” in del.icio.us link descriptions and you’ll get a
list of all the people who bookmarked something. Take a look at the
people who first picked it up and you’ll get a good idea of who to
watch. Even better: use CollaborativeRank to automatically find the ‘experts’ on a certain tag: people who link to helpful/timely URLs early.
For example, CollaborativeRank lists the following experts on “philippines”: 1. eclair, 2. eastwestinvest, 3. MrShark, 4. alxklo, 5. schee. Check out their bookmarks and inboxes!

Keep an eye out for people who are cited again and again. For example,
productivity posts by Steve Pavlina and
Merlin Mann often ripple through the
blogosphere as they get quoted and commented on. Also look for people
who filter far more information and repost significant items. Add them
to your newsfeed in order to get a news digest of all the other sites out there!

How do _they_ get their news? You’ve found your experts. How do
they get _their_ news? Check their del.icio.us inboxes. If you can
find their websites or e-mail addresses, send them a note asking how
they get their news. Then hook into those sources, if you can. Keep
going until you hit the people making the news in the first place! =)

That’s how you can find the bleeding edge using del.cio.us.

Next in Networking for Geeks: How to Write Fan Mail. ;)

Hmm. Must hack my breathing.

September 19, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Breathing has been sub-optimal these past few days. It seems I run out
of breath so quickly, and when I do breathe in, I don’t get the
feeling that I’m breathing all I can. When I try to breathe deeply
enough, I get a little faint. I don’t smoke. I don’t slouch. I walk a
lot, although I’m going to increase my amount of exercise soon. I need
to get to the bottom of this, as it’s not the first time it’s
happened…

Mac

September 20, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and a Mac Mini
shall find its way onto your desk.

My former desktop got conscripted as the new blogging server after I,
err, dropped the computer intended for that use. A replacement Dell
desktop arrived last week, and I was supposed to meet Anna to set it
up with all the stuff I need.

In the middle of telling my research supervisor about a number of fun
Mac OS X applications he could try out, I realized that the department
had perfectly usable Mac Mini just wasting away, unloved.

They were thrilled to find someone who wanted to use a Mac, and that
worked out very well for everyone involved. Now I have a pretty
computer I can use to play around with Onlife, Quicksilver,
Textpander, and other fun things.

Apparently it was a first-gen Mac Mini without built-in Bluetooth
(duh!), so the wireless keyboard we bought from the campus computer
shop didn’t work out of the box.

iCal and Microsoft Entourage were less thrilling than I thought. I
liked iCal’s color-coding and promptly set up four different
calendars. Microsoft Entourage allowed me to drag-and-drop tasks onto
my calendar, but didn’t really link them.

I guess if I really want a good calendar application, I’ll have to
write it myself. Must learn AJAX.

Essential things I installed right away: Firefox, AquaEmacs, NeoOfficeJ.

Comments! Finally!

September 20, 2005 - Categories: emacs

After receiving so many helpful and caring comments regarding my breathing post
(eat well, get plenty of rest, etc.), and seeing wonderful well-thought discussion over at Clair’s blog, I finally got motivated enough to hack dynamic comments into Planner.

Haloscan made it a piece of cake! Search for the segment on “Permalinks and comments” in ../emacs/planner-config.el to see the actual code.

So please introduce yourself in the comments to this entry, and see
who else reads this blog! =) Who are you? What are you interested in?
How did you find out about this blog? (How on earth do you put up with
my rambling? =) )

Changed commenting system

September 20, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

… and after all of two minutes I’ve decided to drop Haloscan and go for Blogkomm instead, because Blogkomm is just soooo much cooler.

=)

Comment away!

Headless chicken impression

September 21, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Lab 1: What If? Scenarios in Microsoft Excel turned out to be an
excruciating demonstration of Murphy’s Law straight out of a Worst
Case Scenarios book. I put the Microsoft Excel file on my website and
confirmed that it worked before the class started. I had my spiel all
set up and ready to go. I labeled each desk with teams to help people
find each other. And then I waited.

Ten minutes. Fifteen. People still weren’t there, so I started the lab
with just half the class present.

I told them about my commitment to not just teach, but help people
learn. I got their feedback on what works for them and what doesn’t.
(Good: provide lots of exercises, ask questions, give help. Bad:
computers that don’t work, teaching too fast.) I asked them to help me
remember to slow down.

Then I started on the lab.

Or at least, I tried to. Murphy’s Law just steamrolled right over me.

sacha.free.net.ph was unreachable. I had a copy of the lab on my
computer, but no USB disk. I couldn’t connect my laptop to the lab
network. I couldn’t even remember my password to the course website in
order to upload the file after a resourceful student lent me his USB
disk.

I was sweating floods of panic.

Backup plan: I bookmarked a video demo of scenarios accompanied by a
text description. I told students to check that out while I
frantically looked for ways to get the file online.

When I couldn’t figure out a way, I started Excel and tried to show
it–but the screen would’ve been nearly unreadable from the back. I
quit that in frustration and started telling people instead about why
they should learn about Scenario, Goal Seek, Solver, and other cool
functions, but hearing someone speak about the coolness of Scenario
and other things is really no substitute for actually doing things,
actually trying things out.

And when I said all that I needed to say about that, I apologized for
wasting their time and being such a terrible TA. I had done very
things I hated about ineffective teaching–boring lectures, unprepared
chaos, unclear structure. That was my responsibility, and I flubbed
it.

The students were amazingly supportive. “It’s the effort that counts.”
“Don’t worry, there’s next time.” “You’re better than some of our
other TAs.” (Funny how that one comment can be both encouraging and
saddening.)

And they _applauded._

They clapped for the girl up there in front going to pieces in front
of the crowd, who had nothing going right for her but who still kept
going anyway because passion wouldn’t let her just give up and not
care.

They smiled.

They told me they believed in me.

I’m there to help them learn about decision support systems, but
they’re going to teach me far more about teaching and learning and
life.

I’m going to listen to the recording of the session later. It’s going
to be absolutely painful, but I’ll learn from it anyway. (Must stock
up on chocolate before I do that.)

What did I learn?

- Upload copies of lab stuff _everywhere_: CCNet, my website, Gmail, etc.
- Add stuff to the S: drive so that people can easily grab it.
- Might be better to use lab time for questions; need prelab activities.
- When things get really messed up, that personal connection is what’s going to pull me through the painful moments.

Easily my worst-ever speech. Easily my worst-ever class session.

… and the most instructive and inspiring moment in my life so far.

Pleased with myself

September 22, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Joined hour-long exercise class for the second week in a row! Didn’t
feel completely wiped out afterwards, either. Had plenty of energy for
pizza dinner at campus fair in Graduate House. Let’s see if I can make
it back next week. If so, maybe I can start going twice a week…

Also accompanied Cathy to check on lab experiment in pharmacy building
(walking alone in the rain to do some work isn’t fun, so I thought I’d
provide company). That was very interesting—so many beakers and
burettes! We talked about the weather on the way back. <laugh>

Met a new student on the way in. She asked where the common room is. I
dropped off my umbrella at my room and grabbed a map, then headed down
to show her the common room and see if I could introduce her to any of
the RAs around. Over the course of discussion, it turned out that she
had just finished the very same course I’m taking up—human computer
interaction—and in fact my research supervisor was the one who
encouraged her to apply for a Ph.D. at U of T. Good deed for today:
introduced her to a couple of other people and made her feel welcome.

=)

Great evening!

Wrestling with Windows

September 23, 2005 - Categories: geek

They seem to be blocking Skype. WAAAAAH!

I booted the Vaio to see if Yahoo Voice still works. Took me almost
ten minutes to get the computer to stop thrashing. Windows. Pfft.

Discovering my inner nerd II

September 23, 2005 - Categories: geek

My first class clued me in to my inner nerd.
My first lab report brought my inner nerd out in full force.

It’s a good thing that I blocked off the entire day for the lab
report, aside from a few hours in the morning to fix up a package for
IBM.

I spent almost four hours practically rewriting the lab report. I
fixed spelling, grammar and style. I fleshed out the report with ideas
from a number of other papers, all properly cited. And I had _fun._

‘course, as I was printing a copy for the teaching assistant, I
started wondering whether having an undergrad lab partner was a good
thing. I’m going to ask the teaching assistant if I could pair up with
another grad student who also has the urge to write things nicely…

I don’t feel so bad about my undergrad education now. I must’ve
learned _something_ along the way.

Blog envy

September 24, 2005 - Categories: emacs

How can Zak make Planner look so cool?

I need to develop mad CSS skillz.

Annoyed with self

September 24, 2005 - Categories: life

One of my problems is that I often misplace things. Today I left a pack of stamps in my coat. They must’ve fallen out as I rummaged
through the Japanese Paper Place. I also spent a fair bit of time looking for my idea notebook, which turned out to be in my drawer.
This problem is costing me time and money, and I need to fix it.

Here’s how I think I can address this problem:

More about Spec Ops

September 24, 2005 - Categories: philippines

Jon_P wrote:

Also, don’t forget that most hardcore geeks in the
Philippines dabble in Linux. The extent of familiarity with MS
technologies you will see in local programmers are relegated to VB
programming, which is nowhere near the level of sophistication needed
to contribute to a project like David.

Wrt to SpecOps’ hype, I initially had a similar reaction as you
expressed above when I saw their first generation web copy, but
closely scrutinizing a succeeding version, they actually made a small
bit of effort to explain some technical details behind what would
possibly make David an improvement over WINE. Still far too little
though, and now such details are gone again.

I don’t think that hardcore geeks in the Philippines are just limited
to Linux. I know a fair number of .NET-wielding and C++ hacking
Windows geeks. ;) Although Microsoft doesn’t really do development in
the Philippines, there’s still a lively developer community. I
remember joining a well-attended Microsoft DevStock convention in
Manila.

So yes, there are hardcore Windows programmers. In fact, they’re quite
cool.

They’d have no reason to work with SpecOps, though. Why bother?

With regard to SpecOps’ hype: explanations of technical details
are just handwaving until they show us a product, not a rigged demo of
someone else’s code. Considering that they were supposed to have a
working demo last year—or was that two years ago?—then they _really_
should have something to show for all their time, money, and hype
about contracts here and agreements there.

Too little, too late.

I don’t know how they managed to get people mixed up in it. I’m _so_
curious about SpecOps now. I want to know the whole story. For
example, Caslon Chua’s name has been liberally splashed over the story
from the beginning. I’ve been wondering why he hasn’t backed out of
it, given that he’s with DLSU. I always thought teachers needed better
BS detection filters than most people, or else students would have a
far too easy time with their subjects. I think he’s probably bought
into it big, and he can’t afford to discredit them or pull out because
he’d lose his investment. What’s up with Turbolinux, too?

I have very good reasons to believe that SpecOps name-drops more
than it should, which is one of the reasons why I don’t like them. I
find it difficult to trust a company that’s so… well… “trying
hard.”

Still, maybe they’re on to something.

Riight. More likely that they’re on something.

Sheesh.

Samuel 17:40? More like Jeremiah 9:3.

(By the way, I’m ordinarily a very nice person. But SpecOps insulted the talent in my country and made a laughingstock of us on Slashdot not just once, but every time they’ve made it there. I get along with business people, but I want business to be backed by substance.)

Business speaker in the Philippines: Bob Martin, ex-CEO of Walmart

September 25, 2005 - Categories: philippines

On Friday 7 October 2005, Mr. Bob Martin, retired President & CEO of the
largest retail operation in the USA shares with the members and friends of
Entrepreneurs Society of the Philippines
<http://www.entrepreneursociety.com.ph/> the highlights of his career and
his insights on business and entrepreneurship. This unique, not be missed,
special evening at the New World Hotel is from 6:00 pm to 9:00 p.m. and it
is open to members and friends. The entrance fee is only Pesos 300.00 to
cover the cost of the venue and a light snack. Seats are very limited and we
require pre-registration and payment of the tickets. Please call Pres. Jimmy
Siybauco at 726-6740 or 726-5466 or email your reservations to
esp@rmpconsultancy.com.

E-Mail from Rafael M. Pefianco

Stranger and stranger

September 25, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

More from Jon_P:

To infer from what I read on one of the now-absent pages in the
SpecOps website which had technical details, Caslon _is_ the guy who
was responsible for the breakthrough innovation that underpins David
and differentiates it from WINE. I’ve since forgotten what exactly
that supposed innovation is, and since SpecOps is not even bothering
to explain it today, I don’t know why they deserve the media mileage
they are getting with their extravagant, unsubstantiated claims (i.e.
the stuff that gets reported in Erwin Oliva’s columns like).

David smells to me like Freedows redux, except on a bigger scale and
with commercial vendors sucked in by the hype.

The media have been too kind to SpecOps, but I’m glad that Chin
Wong and other writers don’t just publish the company’s press
releases but also report the other side of the story.

You know, one of the things I would _definitely_ like to read—would
even pay a reasonable price for—would be an account of what’s
_really_ going on at SpecOps. How long are NDAs binding? When can
a journalist get in there and crack this case wide open? Do you think
any whistleblowers will come forth? I can smell a nice business book
coming out of all of this; heck, even a documentary like the one on
Enron… Heck, I’d be really amused by even a hype-laden
we-are-the-best book or press release.

Seeing a company spiral into the depths is strangely fascinating.
Their last-ditch attempts remind me of someone grasping at straws.
They complained about the lack of talent in the Philippines and made
some noises about outsourcing, then they showed up at LinuxWorld
Philippines soliciting random people for cold interviews. They’ve even tried
appealing to people’s greed with an unrealistic contest.

When the company dissolves and the NDAs are no longer in force, I want
to find out the whole story. I want to piece together exactly what
happened. I want to see what’s on the other side. I want to know why
they’re doing this, what pressures they’re facing. I want to be able
to say I understand both sides. I would _love_ to talk to their HR
person after all of this is over. Wow, what a challenge. What a tough
job. And oh, what lessons we could learn from all of this.

No, it’s not crab mentality. We’re not trying to prevent them from
succeeding. We just won’t take BS from them.

You know what could save them at this point?

A confession. An apology. A much more realistic and humble plan to
make things work.

I don’t think they’re going to do that any time soon, so pass me the
popcorn. We’ll sit back and watch the Titanic sink. And then we’ll wait for the book.

E-Mail from Richi’s server

Looking for role models: Marissa Mayer

September 25, 2005 - Categories: women

Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are. – Creole proverb and many other variants

Role models are important to me. Job titles don’t tell me enough about
work, but people’s stories show me what I want for my own life. When I
read people’s stories, I find aspects that I’d like to include in my
life. I learn about skills I need to develop. I find names for the
things I want to do.

I’m going to share my role models with you as I discover them. You’ll
get a sense of what I want to do, and you might find some of these
role models also inspiring.

Today from tech.memeorandum: Marissa Mayer of Google.

Managing Google’s Idea Factory: Marissa Mayer helps the search giant out-think its rivals

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_40/b3953093.htm

What Mayer does is help figure out how to make sure good
ideas bubble to the surface and get the attention they need.

I want to do that. I want to be exposed to all sorts of ideas bubbling
around me. I want to listen and draw ideas out. I want to connect
people to other people and resources they need to make their ideas
reality. I want to know who’s doing what and make it easier for them
to do it.

I’ll need to work on:

- listening really well
- evaluating ideas quickly
- combining ideas in my head
- remembering people’s names, faces, and interests
- meeting more people

Wiki for rolemodels

September 25, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’ve decided to put up a wiki to list my role models. =) It’s at
http://sacha.free.net.ph/rolemodels/ . Still incomplete. There are
so many things I need to flesh out, but it’s a good start!

Please be nice to the wiki or I’m going to make it read-only. =) Feel
free to leave comments, just make it easy for people to tell the
difference between your thoughts and mine.

On booth babes and sex in technology

September 25, 2005 - Categories: women

Jon_prez reacts to my comments on Microsoft booth babes and open source posters:

Be fair to Microsoft… those booth babes are still in much better taste than Red Hat’s lame ‘fsck me’ – Carmen Electra ad.

Right. Hence the “SHEESH. Shame on all of you.” comment in 2005.09.17#5.

In fact, open source companies have done a _lot_ worse. Was that Red
Hat with a poster of an almost-naked women with… err… just a
strategically placed penguin or something like that?

<sigh>

And they wonder why girls don’t really like tech.

_Definitely_ one of the things that gets my goat.

Brain Gain Network

September 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Brain Gain Network: a worldwide network of technopreneurs for the Philippine IT industry.

BGN seeks to counter the Brain Drain by fostering
entrepreneurship among technology practitioners and by reconnecting
expatriate Filipino professionals to Philippine based entrepreneurs
and collaborators.

Join! =)

Not a geek for nothing

September 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

One of the good things about being a geek is being able to fix someone
else’s comment script when it’s badly broken.

Case in point.

Paragraph comments should work now, although I accidentally lost a
number of comments. I still have e-mail copies of them, though! =)

I didn’t lose the stamps after all!

September 26, 2005 - Categories: life

Yay, yay, yay. =)

Apparently left them in my cubicle.

David Allen rescues kittens

September 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

http://www.davidco.com/blogs/david/archives/2005/09/the_new_kittie.html

karma++.

Achievement!

September 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

After having successfully managed to go to the gym two weeks in a row,
I decided to see if I could up it to two times a week. I’ve just come
back from 20 minutes of light cycling at the gym. I feel a bit fuzzy,
but I’ll get better over time.. =)

On polls and the ‘best’

September 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

From Brain Gain Network: BGN Poll: Which is the Best Engineering School in the Philippines?

We love ranking things. The best this, the best that.

I think that our focus on ranking things misses a lot.

I don’t want to know what the best engineering school in the Philippines is.

I want to know what makes schools good and what makes schools bad.

That way, there won’t be just one “best” school; there’ll be a lot of great ones.

What do I want to do with my life?

September 27, 2005 - Categories: plans

What it is that you do? What is your core expertise?

That made me stop and think.

Effective mission statements aren’t born in a vacuum. Rather, they are
recognized in what’s already happening.

I needed to figure out what I stood for.

I started with a bunch of index cards. I wrote keywords and phrases
that appealed to me. Random stuff I’d been thinking about.

Not in order: Passion. Ideas. Public speaking. Coding. Writing.
Networking. News (cool tech, etc). Productivity.

One of the cards didn’t quite fit in. Even as I wrote it down, I
thought to myself, “I should write this down, but I’m not really that
passionate about it.”

Realization #1: Even if my background is in computer science and I’ve
been programming for as long as I can remember, programming itself
doesn’t make me happy unless I’m making an actual person’s life
better. I can’t work with an abstract idea of a user. I need people
with quirks and idiosyncrasies who’ll be addicted to my software. I
don’t care about coding itself. I care about what I can do with it,
and that was already part of “Productivity”. I put the “coding” card
aside.

Now I had a set of cards, all related to each other. I needed to
find out how they were related to each other.

One word jumped out at me: passion. Realization #2: Passion makes
everything else make sense. Everything fell into place around that.

I reviewed my cards, trying to see if I could classify them. My first
list was speaking with passion, helping people find passion, and
helping people pursue their passions.

When I tried to fit my cards into those categories, I realized that
everything I wrote down applied to all of them, and that speaking with
passion was part of both helping people find their passions and
helping people pursue them. Realization #3: Everything I wrote down is
part of both aspects of passion.

I wrote the table and posted it on
http://sacha.free.net.ph/rolemodels/ .

So here’s my brief mission statement, what I _do_:

I help people find their passions and pursue those passions effectively.

This is not something I came up with, but something I just recognized.
I need to reflect on the relationship between my skills and my mission
statement so that I’ll know what I need to focus on. I also need to
show how what I’m currently doing is connected to my mission.

Lapping up lentils

September 27, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The past few days have been repeats of previous CookOrDie successes,
so I figured today I’d cook something in the true spirit of CookOrDie:
throw things together and see if it works.

I felt like having lentil soup today. I poured lentils into a pot,
covered them with lots of water, added chicken stock powder, and set
that boiling. Then I went “Hmm.” Chopped up two medium-sized onions
and threw them in, too. For good measure, I threw in a chopped tomato
and a couple of bay leaves at some point.

Good stuff. I originally planned to have some today and some tomorrow,
but at the rate I’m going, I’ll have it all today…

Ahhhh.

Needs slightly more liquid, but is otherwise great.

You know, I just might be able to survive on my cooking after all…

Lentil lunacy

September 27, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I will never underestimate lentils again. They give me a warm and
fuzzy feeling of being quite full. A bit too full. I could’ve
saved half of the soup for tomorrow… =)

Finding names: the 100th monkey

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Charo inducted me into the 100th Monkey club.

it’s something we talked about on mensaphilopen about how certain people, given the right network and personality, can change the lives of those around them

She pointed me to the thread, which reminded me about The Tipping
Point, which made me realize I already had names for the person I want to be!

Maven knows a lot and collects interesting news and ideas, like the way I watch a large number of feeds and experiment with tools
Connector has a great social and business network, like the way I’m working on getting to know people
Salesman gets people enthusiastic about something, like my Toastmasters thing…

New names, new searches… Wow! I can’t wait to find out what these insights will lead to!

Solopreneurship and the Tipping Point

September 28, 2005 - Categories: entrepreneurship

Small Business Branding: Content Management suggests a curriculum for the solopreneur. The stuff I’m interested in makes up for of his bullet points. Hmmm… Possibilities…

- Collaboration/Networking/Social Capital Development
- Productivity and Project Management
- Leveraging Technology
- Personal Knowledge Management

Should check out Solostream, too.

Forrester Consumer Forum report

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The numbers are in. 10% of consumers read blogs at least once a week, 6% use RSS, and 4% use social networking.

Hmm.

Learning changes

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Via Weblogg-ed: Connecting for Life comes this blog post on Elearnspace: Connectivism, which points out that learning these days isn’t just about constructing knowledge in your head, but connecting to knowledge that’s out there. The post goes on to say that education should be reshaped to fit that new need.

Amen! One of the reasons why I love teaching how to use del.icio.us, Google, social networking tools, and other fun stuff…

Cognitive analysis of tagging

September 28, 2005 - Categories: research

Rashmi Sinha: A cognitive analysis of tagging

Yay! Another paper to add to my research question.

Makes sense. Figuring out exactly where to put it in a hierarchy is
harder than slapping a whole bunch of keywords on it and relying on
search…

Collaboration

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Also via tech.memeorandum: Chris Pratley: Working as a team with a shared notebook

Interesting support for collaboration…

Jotspot Live

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Via TechCrunch: Jotspot Live now open. It’s a hosted wiki for simultaneous collaboration, with slick AJAX and great editing. Interesting…

More collaborative software

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Via Social Software: Gobby is a cross-platform collaborative editor. Finally!

Voice messaging network

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Also via Social Software: Yackpack is a pretty social voice messaging thing. Web-based, so it doesn’t hurt to try it out. Wonder if it works with Firefox and Linux…

On the Philippine Question

September 28, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

An excerpt from the speech of Senator George F. Hoar, in the
Beveridge-Hoar Debate on the Philippine Question, delivered in the
United States Senate, April 17, 1900, as cited in the book “Something
to Say, How to Say It” written by GRenville Kleiser and published in
1920.

ON THE PHILIPPINE QUESTION

I have failed to discover in the speech, public or private, of the advocates of this war, or in the press which supports it and them, a single expression anywhere of a desire to do justice to the people of the Philippine Islands, or of a desire to make known to the people of the United States the truth of the case. Some of them, like the Senator from Indiana and the President of the Senate, are outspoken in their purpose to retain the Philippine Islands forever, to govern them ourselves, or to do what they call giving them such share in government as we hereafter may see fit, having regard to our own interest, and, as they sometimes add, to theirs. The others say, “Hush! We will not disclose our purpose just now. Perhaps we may,” as they phrase it, “give them liberty sometime. But it is to be a long time first.”

The catchwords, the cries, the pithy and pregnant phrases of which all their speech is full, all mean dominion. They mean perpetual dominion. When a man tells you that the American flag must not be hauled down where it has once floated, or demands of a shouting audience, “Who will haul it down?” if he mean anything, he means that that people shall be under our dominion forever. The man who says, “We will not treat with them till they submit; we will not deal with men in arms against the flag,” says, in substance, the same thing. One thing there has been, at least, given to them as Americans not to say. There is not one of these gentlemen who will rise in his place and affirm that if he were a Filipino he would not do exactly as the Filipinos are doing; that he would not despise them if they were to do otherwise. So much, at least, they owe of respect to the dead and buried history—the dead and buried history, so far as they can slay and bury it—of their country.

Why, the tariff schemes which are proposed are schemes in our interest and not in theirs. If you propose to bring tobacco from Porto Rico or from the Philippine Islands on the ground that it is for the interest of the people whom you are undertaking to govern, for their best interest to raise it and sell it to you, every imperialist in Connecticut will be up in arms. The nerve in the pocket is still sensitive, tho the nerve in the heart may be numb. You will not let their sugar come here to compete with the cane sugar of Louisiana or the beet sugar of California or the Northwest, and in determining that question you mean to think, not of their interest but of yours. The good government you are to give them is a government under which their great productive and industrial interests, when peace comes, are to be totally and absolutely disregarded by their government. You are not only proposing to do that, but you expect to put another strain on the Constitution to accomplish it.

Why, Mr. President, the atmosphere of both legislative chambers, even now, is filled with measures proposing to govern and tax these people for our interest, and not for theirs. Your men who are not alarmed at the danger to constitutional liberty are up in arms when there is danger to tobacco. As an eloquent Republican colleague said elsewhere, “Beware that you do not create another Ireland under the American flag.” Beware that you do not create many other Irelands—another Ireland in Porto Rico; another Ireland in Cuba; many other Irelands in the Philippines! The great complaint of Ireland for eight centuries was that England framed her taxation and regulated her tariff, not for Ireland’s interest, but for her own; that when she dealt with the great industries of that beautiful ilse she was thinking of the English exchequer and of the English manufacturer and of the English landowner; and she reduced Ireland to beggary. Let us not repeat that process.

Certainly the flag should never be lowered from any moral field over which it has once waved. To follow the flag is to follow the principles of freedom and humanity for which it stands. To claim that we must follow it when it tands for injustice or oppression is like claiming that we must take the nostrums of the quack doctor who stamps them on his wares, or follow every scheme of wickedness or fraud, if only the flag be put at the head of the prospectus. The American flag is in more danger from the imperialists than it would be if the whole of Christendom were to combine its power against it. Foreign violence at worst could only rend it. But these men are trying to stain it.

It is claimed—what I do not believ—that these appeals have the sympathy of the American people. IT is said that the statesman who will lay his ear to the ground will hear their voice. I do not believe it. The voice of the American people does not come from the ground. It comes from the sky. It comes from the free air. It comes from the mountains where liberty dwells. Let the statesman who is fit to deal with the question of liberty or to utter the voice of a free people lift his ear to the sky—not lay it to the ground.

Mr. President, it was once my good fortune to witness an impressive spectacle in this chamber, when the Senators answered to their names in rendering solemn judgment in a great State trial. By a special provision each Senator was permitted, when he cast his vote, to state his reason in a single sentence. I have sometimes fancied that the question before us now might be decided, not alone by the votees of us who sit here to-day, but of the great men who have been our predecessors in this chamber and in the Continental Congress from the beginning of the Republic.

Would that that roll might be called! The solemn assembly sits silent while the Chair puts the question whose answer is so fraught with the hopes of liberty and the destiny of the Republic.

The roll is called.

- George Washington: “No. Why should we quit our own, to stand on foreign ground?”
- Alexander Hamilton: “No. The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental constitution of every state.”
- Thomas Jefferson: “No. Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Every people ought to have that separate and equal station among the nations of the world to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them.”
- John Adams: “No. I stood by the side of Jefferson when he brought in the Declaration; I was its champion on the floor of Congress. After our long estragement, I came back to his side again.”
- James Madison: “No. The object of the federal Constitution is to secure the union of the thirteen primitive States, which we know to be practicable, and to add to them such other States as may arise in their own bosoms or in their neighborhood, which we can not doubt will be practicable.”
- Thomas Corwin: “No. I said in the days of the Mexican War: ‘If I were a Mexican, as I am an American, I would welcome you with bloody hands to hospitable graves’; and Ohio to-day honors and loves me for that utterance beyond all her other sons.”
- Daniel Webster: “No. Under our Constitution there can be no dependencies. Wherever there is in the Christian and civilized world a nationality of character, then a national government is the necessary and proper result. There is not a civilized and intelligent man on earth that enjoys satisfaction with his condition if he does not live undre the government of his own nation, his own country. A nation can not be happy but under a government of its own choice. When I depart from these sentiments I depart from myself.”
- William H. Seward: “No. The framers of the Constitution never contemplated colonies or provinces at all; they contemplated states only; nothing less than states—perfect states, equal states, sovereign states. There is reason, there is sound political wisdom, in this provision of the Constitution—excluding colonies which are always subject to oppression, and excluding provinces, which always tend to corrupt and enfeeble and ultimately break down the parent state.”
- John Marshall: “No. The power to declare war was not conferred upon Congress for the purpose of aggression or aggrandizement. A ware declared by Congress can never be presumed to be waged for the purpose of conquest or the acquisition of territory, nor does the law declaring the war imply an authority to the President to enlarge the limits of the United States by subjugating the enemy’s country.”
- John Quincy Adams: “No. The territories I helped bring into the nation were to be dwelt in by free men and made into free states.
- Aaron Burr: “Yes. You are repeating my buccaneering expedition down the Mississippi. I am to be vindicated at last!”
- Abraham Lincoln: “No. I said in Independence Hall at Philadelphia, just before I entered upon my great office, that I rested upon the truth Thomas Jefferson has just uttered, and that I was ready to be assassinated, if need be, in order to maintain it. And I was assassinated in order t omaintain it.”
- Charles Summer: “No. I proclaimed it when I brought in Alaska. I sealed my devotion with my blood also. It was my support and solace through those many long and weary hours when the red-hot iron pressed upon my spine, the very source and origin of agony, and I did not flinch. He knows our country little, little also of that great liberty of ours, who supposes that we could receive such a transfer. On each side there is impossibility. Territory may be conveyed, but not people.”
- William McKinley: “There has been a cloud before my vision for a moment, but I see clearly now; I go back to what I said two years ago: ‘Forcible annexation is criminal aggression; governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not some of them, but all of them.’ I will stand with the Fathers of the Republic. I will stand with the founders of the Republican Party. No.”

Mr. President, I know how imperfectly I have stated this argument. I know how feeble is a single voice amid this din and tempest, this delirium of empire. It may be that the battle for this day is lost. But I have an assured faith in the future. I have an assured faith in justice and the love of liberty of the American people. The stars in their courses fight for freedom. The Ruler of the heavens is on that side. If the battle to-day go against it, I appeal to another day, not distant and sure to come. I appeal from the clapping of hands and the stamping of feet and the brawling and the shouting to the quiet chamber where the Fathers gathered in Philadelphia. I appeal from the spirit of trade to the spirit of liberty. I appeal from the Empire to the Republic. I appeal from the millionaire, and the boss, and the wire-puller, and the manager, to the statesman of the elder time, in whose eyes a guinea never glistened, who lived and died poor, and who left to his children and to his countrymen a good name, far better than riches. I appeal from the Present, bloated with material prosperity, drunk with the lust of empire, to another and a better age. I appeal from the Present to the Future and to the Past.

More about lectures

September 29, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Today’s class in Engineering Psychology and Human Performance was a
lot more engaging. Prof. Milgram walked us through a typical problem,
and there were plenty of opportunities for class interaction.

I talked to Prof. Milgram after the class, thanking him for the
exercise. I told him about my difficulties with lectures, and he knows
that I’m tring all sorts of tricks to keep myself tuned in. I told him
how I need to be writing, doing things, explaining things, trying
things out…

Today’s new trick: mentally repeating, “I love lectures. I love
lectures.” Didn’t really work. Ah well.

Not joining the Rotary Club

September 29, 2005 - Categories: connecting

Frank Adamo suggested joining the Rotary Club or the Rotaract Club, so
I filled out the online application form for the Rotary Club of
Toronto.

They politely suggested that I check out the Rotaract Club at the
University of Toronto because I’m still young and unaccomplished (that
is, I haven’t yet completed my education and I’m not working
full-time). I wrote them asking if I could attend as a guest anyway,
and they said they don’t allow guests because then there would be no
reason to pay membership. They also pointed out that I probably won’t
be able to afford the rates unless I have a full-time job.

I can’t afford their rates, and I’m not going to make joining them one
of my financial goals. $175 per quarter + $30 per week is a whole lot
of water systems for villages, hot meals for the homeless, books for
kids… I’ll focus on making the most of Toastmasters (I’d like to
participate at higher levels). I’m also looking for a foundation that
helps the homeless get back on track. Does anyone have a favorite
Toronto-based charity that does that kind of work?

Synchronicity

September 29, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Life happens when you open yourself to unexpected things.

Today I talked to James, Greenpeace volunteer in front of Graduate
House. I mentioned Greenpeace’s initiatives to publicize the
staggering volumes of E-waste each year. James told me about
http://www.rebootcanada.ca , a non-profit foundation that provides
hardware, training and support to charities and people with needs.

I like what they’re doing. Pity they’re Microsoft-sponsored, though; I
don’t suppose they’ll let me get away with volunteering to teach open
source software…

Today I also chatted with Mike Chi. See, I was reading the paper in
the 5th floor common area when he asked me if he could read the
sections I finished. I couldn’t help but overhear and get drawn into a
conversation he had with someone who was visiting Grad House. After
the conversation, we swapped names and courses. I told him I’m taking
my master’s in HCI, and he was, like, “No way.” Turned out that he’s
also from HCI, but part of a different lab. We chatted about memory
aids and PIM, del.icious and flickr, lots of other cool things…

Anyway, he told me he’s taking this awesome course on
computer-supportive collaborative work, which sounds exactly like what
I should be getting into. It conflicts with the MIE class I’m taking,
though. Tough decisions! Really tough decisions! I want to take it up.
I need to make sure I’m not past the deadline yet, and I need to run
it by Mark tomorrow morning to see what he thinks.

I like this. Meeting totally random strangers is like opening a
treasure box…

Watched improv comedy

September 30, 2005 - Categories: life

Bill Thanis of the Toronto Linux Users Group invited me to the
pay-what-you-can improv comedy show at Bad Dog Theatre. It was fun!
The actors were really creative, and the long-form improvised comedy
totally rocked.

On boycotts and lower gas prices

September 30, 2005 - Categories: life

I received a forwarded e-mail exhorting Filipinos to boycott Shell and
Caltex in order to force the two companies to lower their gas prices,
and thus affect gas prices everywhere.

Something about that approach strikes me as wrong.

First, it ignores the law of supply and demand. If all the faithful
boycotters get their gas from independent gasoline stations (of which
there aren’t that many, especially along the highways), what’s to
prevent those gas stations from raising _their_ prices?

Second, it feels like a solution from the wrong side of consumerism.
Let me quote a segment from the e-mail:

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need
to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come
down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their
gas!

And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How?

Since we all rely on our cars, we can’t just stop buying gas. But we
CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a
price war.

There are two ways to reduce your gas expenses. Hold your breath and
wait for the company to lower its prices, or look for ways to use less
gas. Which do you think would be better for you in the long run?

Many people don’t like being responsible consumers because it HURTS.
It requires sacrifices. It requires change. They’d rather complain
about rising gas prices and traffic and a lot of other things than
take action to help solve the problems themselves.

What’s missing from that forwarded e-mail?

RESPONSIBILITY.

By boycotting Caltex and Shell, all these consumers would be doing is
passing the responsibility off to the gasoline companies to lower the
prices. Gas companies charge too high, they say. It’s the gas
companies’ fault.

But we are responsible for this crisis. We with our SUV-choked streets
and our gimmick addiction, with our overcrowded cities and
underdeveloped provinces; WE bear some responsibility for this mess.

We should accept that responsibility. Instead of asking gas companies
to give us lower gas prices, we should look for ways to minimize our
dependence on gasoline.

Here are a few concrete, common-sense ideas for reducing dependence on
gasoline. You know this already. You just have to LIVE it.

- Walk instead of taking the tricycle.

- Bike.

- Carpool.

- Take public transportation instead of your car.

- Take fewer trips. Spend more time in your neighborhood. Spend more

time at home.

You are NOT powerless. You are NOT dependent on your car. You are NOT
dependent on the gas companies. You are the lucky few who actually
have a choice. The people who are going to get hit hardest by rising
gas prices aren’t the ones with SUVs. They’re the ones who can’t
afford a peso increase in the cost of food, the jeepney drivers whose
margins are devastated by the increase in costs, the low-paid workers
whose raises will lag behind any increase in the cost of
transportation.

You are NOT just a consumer. You are a CITIZEN. You bear a
responsibility not only to yourself but also to the people around you,
to the people who are tied to their long commutes and low wages. Help
create local opportunities! You bear a responsibility to the children
who will live in this world long after you have passed away. Help
preserve the environment!

Are you going to be a consumer and just wait for lower gas prices to
be given to you, or will you reduce your gas consumption and work on
making a difference to your community?

ARGH. And yes, you can forward this to whomever you want.


Note: This rant is about the content of the forwarded e-mail, not the
writer. The writer and the people who forwarded this acted in good
faith, but it’s easy to overlook things in the knee-jerk response of
consumerism. One of the things I do is point out uncomfortable truths
from time to time. I’m not right all the time and I do miss some
things, but I like helping us stay human.