December 2005

Discovering my inner librarian

December 1, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Just as my friends and I have corrupted
Marcelle and brought out his
inner geek, Clair exposed my inner
librarian. And to think it all started when she convinced me to
bookmark stuff using del.icio.us… Now I’m
flipping through the course listings for the Faculty of Information
Studies and wondering how I can fit some of those courses into my
M.A.Sc. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering program!

Here are all the courses I’m considering.

MIE (I need one more class from the department):

MIE 1510 Formal Techniques in Ontology Engineering Tue 2-4 Need instructor’s permission because of prereqs. Might be too formal? Would help with project, though
MIE 1403 Methods in Human Factors Does this fit the kind of work I might do, or should I go to FIS and learn how to measure the performance of information retrieval systems?
MIE 1409S Human Computer Interface Design for Complex Systems Mon 9-11, Th 9-12. Potentially useful, but it’s a joint undergrad class that starts on January 9, so I might end up missing two lab sessions in a row. Also, undergrad-synched classes probably won’t give me the full grad experience

Non-MIE courses:

KMD 2002 Technologies for Knowledge Media Summer?
KMDI 1001 Fundamental Concepts in Knowledge Media Design Not offered this spring
KMDI 1002 Research Frontiers in Knowledge Media Design Wed 2-5. Might require KMDI 1001? I want to learn more about knowledge media
CS 2537H Hypermedia Need instructor’s permission
FIS 2168H Information Retrieval Systems Analysis and design? Tue 1-4
FIS 2186H Metadata Schemas and Applications Tue 9-12, could be useful but might be more for librarians and information scientists
FIS 2169H / KMD 2001H User-centred Information Systems Development Wed 9-12
FIS 2140H Young People: Current & Emerging Information Practices Could be interesting; may be more of social science, though
FIS 2142H Theories of Classification and Knowledge Organization Mon 9-12
KMD 2001 Human-Centred Design Wed 9-12
KMD 2003 Knowledge Media & Learning Likely offered in summer 2006. Check in again.

Another picture posted

December 2, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

New readers to my blog: No, this blog isn’t primarily about photos of
me. It’s just that I’ve had two photo deadlines (my mom’s Christmas
letters and Calum’s Lego thing), so I decided to go ahead and post
them here.

I’m quite finicky about portraits. It’s a side effect of being the
daughter and sister of professional photographers who don’t mind a
little photo-retouching here and there. My mom told me that I once
steadfastly refused to have my picture taken by the school
photographer. I had to have the best photographer in the world—my dad! =)

Check out yesterday’s page for a self-portrait that almost manages to look okay.

Looking forward to Monday

December 2, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I am _so_ looking forward to being finished with my enggpsych paper. Grumble,
grumble. Humbling and annoying to think I’ve only written ~ 4160 words
so far. I have no idea how the people who wrote the A+ papers he
posted managed to write that much. C’mon, 26 pages, single-spaced?
Okay, well, the 26 page single-spaced one was a bit fluffy in terms of
language… But still. <mumble>

I am relatively happy with it now. There are a couple of paragraphs
here and there that I still might want to write, but overall I won’t
be too annoyed with myself if I handed this in. It’s been a good way
to review the textbook, too…

Computer science: universities and technical/vocational schools

December 3, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

One of the things that always gets me on my soapbox is the complaint
that universities’ computer science curricula don’t meet the needs of
the real world because they don’t teach the most popular language of
the day or because they have classes on artificial intelligence rather
than building e-commerce sites.

This frustrates me because people expect universities to be more like
technical/vocational schools. They’re different. They _should_ be.

Vocational schools are where you learn the skills you need for a job.
They should be strongly industry-oriented. They should teach the most
popular languages of the day. They should be specialized. People who
are interested in web development should take a whole bunch of courses
related to web development, while people interested in database
management should take a whole bunch of courses related to database
management. Vocational education should be short programs so that
people can take them, learn new skills, and get into the workplace.

Universities are where you learn the skills you need for _life._
Universities should _not_ be too pressured by industry to teach the
most popular languages or tools. Universities should be general,
helping students develop skills that can be applied to any field—even
fields outside computer science and information technology. Not
everyone who takes computer science will go on to be a computer
scientist, but the logic and pattern-recognition they learned in their
computer science education should help them elsewhere.

Computer science should not be the only thing students learn in
university. Students should learn mathematics, technical writing,
business, and all of those other courses that don’t seem to have any
immediate use for a programmer. Why? Because each computer science
graduate must have an appreciation for other fields. Computer science
itself is a science that serves other fields, and university provides
students with an excellent opportunity to take up electives in other
areas.

Most computer science graduates might never write their own sorting
routines out in the real world. Programming libraries have efficient
implementations. Computer scientists should apply that knowledge to
real life instead—for example, by teaching other people how to
quick-sort by hand. That’s what computer science teaches us: not how
to program a computer, but rather how to program a _system_—and that
system could involve both people and computers.

We bet that this education will pay off years and years down the road.
Computer scientists should ask questions and dare to try the unknown.
They should wonder if there are better ways of doing things, instead
of just following the status quo. They are our ambassadors to new
fields, using creativity and critical thinking to find ways to apply
computers to new problems.

Vocational schools must prepare its students for work. Universities
must prepare its students for the unknown.

Why hire a computer science graduate, then? If I’m just looking for
programming experience, then most technical school graduates would
probably be better than most computer science graduates, all other
things being equal. But if I want someone who can wear many hats, I’d
bet on computer science graduates. I’d take the chance that something
in their education might give them insights into my business. I’d
invest time in training them because technical knowledge can be
taught. It’s easy to cost-justify a short course on Java programming.
It’s harder to cost-justify a course on philosophy, which is really
more about critical thinking and writing than it is about particular
philosophers.

This is one of my causes. I want to do something about this confusion.
I want to speak at high schools and help the students learn the
difference between vocational schools and universities. I want to
speak to vocational schools and universities to help them rethink or
reposition themselves when they recruit students.

One of the reasons why it’s so hard to differentiate vocational
schools and universities is that quality is just _so_ variable. There
are a few vocational schools that are pretty good and that even
include a number of liberal subjects. There are many colleges and
universities whose computer science curricula are almost the same as
those of vocational schools. I hope better positioning clears this up,
because as it stands, the confusion doesn’t help anyone.

Conferences and Macs

December 3, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Picture from Kevin Marks:
Bloggercon

I’m seeing a _lot_ more Macs at tech conferences. Heck, I’d go for a Mac if they made them in the size I like (< 12", maybe around 10").

I think this is a Good Thing. =)

Teaching software engineering

December 3, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Mario Carreon writes:

Gosh though, one of the things i lack as a teacher is how software
is developed in the “real world.” It would be great if i could give
a glimpse of what happens outside in my classes.

As much as students and professionals complain that teachers don’t
have enough industry experience, the reality is that most people with
industry experience don’t teach, and many teachers find themselves
forced to teach pretty much anything the school needs them to do.

I taught software engineering before. We had no choice because the regular
teacher was on sabbatical. I had to co-teach it with another, more
experienced teacher. I handled C++ and design patterns, and he handled
the management side.

I was _way_ out of my depth. It was a disservice to my students
because I didn’t have the war stories that an experienced teacher
would have, but at the same time it was better than not offering the
course at all. That was the semester I learned to make these
compromises. That was also the semester I learned to make the most of
my friends’ stories about their lives outside the ivory tower.

It was the same in my decision support systems course. I’ve never
built one, but by happy coincidence a new friend of mine had been the
database administrator for a large bank that used data mining and
expert systems with terabytes of data. I told his stories to my class,
and I hope that gave them a little appreciation for the real-life
applications for these things.

That’s the only thing we teachers can do, I guess. It would be nice if
we could work in the industry for a decade or two in order to gain
experience, but even if we did that, we’d never get enough experience
to teach all the things our schools ask us to do. We have to learn how
to borrow bits and pieces of other people’s lives, to collect insights
from other people and to bring those insights into the classrooms. We
are how people in the industry can teach hundreds and hundreds of
people throughout the years.

So fellow teachers: reach out to the people in the industry. We need
their stories. We need their experiences.

And for those of you in the industry: adopt teachers. Tell them your
stories. Share your experiences. Tell them about the mistakes you’ve
made, because they can help other people learn how to avoid repeating
those mistakes.

Grammar blog

December 4, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Argh, I think my sense of grammar is slipping. I need to find a good
grammar blog that’s above the level of “your” versus “you’re”. I need
to read a lot of well-edited work instead of just reading blogs and
scientific papers. My textbooks are pretty okay, although they’re a
bit dry. Hmm. I need literature!

It doesn’t help that I’m a geek. Geeks do weird things to punctuation,
too. For example, it’s hard for me not to put punctuation outside
quoted strings, such as the “you’re” in the first paragraph. I can’t
remember how to punctuate embedded sentences. I may just go and get
myself a copy of “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves”…

Mumble.

Thought for the day: Follow your bliss

December 4, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The things that one most wants to do are the things that are probably most worth doing. – Winifred Holtby, O Magazine, September 2002

Or, as Joseph Campbell said:

My general formula for my students is “Follow your bliss.” Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Find out what you are truly passionate about and give your all to it.

Week in review: December 4, 2005

December 4, 2005 - Categories: weekly

I spent some time thinking about what to do during my Christmas break. Aside from brainstorming sessions for education, geekettes and making a difference, I’m also thinking of having some round-table chats about our quarter-life crises.

Monday was a blast with a tango party. Then it was back to work, with lots of papers to write and books to read. I took some time out to take the winter clothes pictures my mom’s been asking for, and I also took a self-portrait. I raided the library for a whole bunch of books and started thinking about the classes I want to take next semester. My week wrapped up with an IBM meeting, and my weekend started with a bunch of rants and reflections on computer science education.

Tomorrow I’m going to hand in my MIE1407 paper and then work like heck on the project proposal for IBM due on Tuesday. Then I need to work on my application for the Delta Kappa Gamma scholarship and finish marking the papers for the DSS project. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to study for my finals exams on Monday, too!

Hectic week up ahead, but with judicious planning, I’m sure I can survive.

Let me just say…

December 5, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I love my geek. =)

What gets me excited about social bookmarking?

December 5, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

First, there’s personal organization. I could never get the
hang of bookmarks and folders, and it was hard to remember what to
search for.

Then there’s social discovery. I check my del.icio.us once in a
while in order to find out what the latest bookmarks are in a certain
area, although I’m now slightly annoyed about the fact that most
bookmarks are either stuff I’ve already seen or stuff I don’t care
about.

So that’s not what I really like, either.

I somewhat like using del.icio.us to share URLs, but those tend to be
special-purpose tags we’ve agreed on beforehand. I don’t really tell
people to check out my http://del.icio.us/sachac/social links, for
example, because there are just too many links for people to sort
through properly. It’s the problem of navigating through someone
else’s personal information space.

Social search a la http://myweb2.search.yahoo.com isn’t that big for
me either because (a) I’m not connected enough to get much better
search results, and (b) I don’t trust that all the relevant sites have
been bookmarked, so I may as well go through a regular search engine.

Hmmm.

On the other hand, using event- (http://del.icio.us/tag/torcamp) or
issue-oriented tags like digitalpinay
(http://del.icio.us/tag/digitalpinay) made it easy to quickly gather
bookmarks without having to set up some kind of groupblog or wiki.

And I totally, totally, totally love checking out people’s bookmarks
and getting an idea of their interests.

Totally.

That’s my killer app for del.icio.us. Stalking. ;) No, no, it’s called
keeping up with old friends and making new ones.

And that’s why people check out my bookmarks,
too. Okay, well, they don’t really have a choice because
I include my bookmarks in my blog feed for my tech-savvy friends who
read lots of blogs, so other geeks can’t help but notice whenever I
bookmark tango websites and whatnot.

I wonder if there’s a business use for this, like the way I would
_really_ like being able to flip through other people’s
bibliographies. Stuff like that.

I CAN DO THIS. I just have to make sure that it’s not a solution in
search of a problem! <laugh>

See, PhD students can spend time figuring out what the problem is and
then thinking up a solution. What’s a master’s student supposed to do?

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Open-source doctor one of Ten Outstanding Young Men for 2005

December 5, 2005 - Categories: philippines

Posted by Ricardo Gonzalez on PLUG:

Congratulations to Dr. Alvin B. Marcelo of the
UP-Medical Informatics Unit for winning the
prestigious 2005 TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) in
the field of Medicial/Health Information.

The TOYM award was given for his use of Open Source
Software in his community health based projects.

I think we now have a new “poster boy” for the open
source movement in the Philippines.

More power and success to Dr. Alvin Marcelo.

Awesome!

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Commercial support and free software

December 5, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Commercial support for free software makes plenty of business sense.
Check out Free Grows Revenue – Just Ask Your Carrier. =)

Excerpt:

Because no Fortune 2000 customer on earth is going to run the heart of
their enterprise with products that don’t have someone’s home number
on the other end. And no developer or developing nation, presented
with an equivalent or better free and open source product, is going to
opt for a proprietary alternative.

Outreach: CompSAt I.T. Literacy Training for Public School Teachers

December 6, 2005 - Categories: education, philippines

In Manila and want to help out?

Check out Mark Punzalan’s post:

CompSAt RnD has an I.T. outreach project entitled “I.T. Literacy
Training for Public School Teachers” (what a mouthful!). This is a
project with DISCS and ACED (Ateneo Center for Educational
Development). Through this project, we aim to provide grade school
and high school public school teachers with I.T. literacy training to
help them teach their students about computers. You may not be aware
of it, but a lot of public school teachers have little experience with
computers, and the average Ateneo student probably knows a LOT more
than they do.

We NEED volunteers for the training sessions. Training sessions will
be held every Saturday from 8-12 in the morning at F-227, starting
this Saturday, Dec. 10. DISCS will provide the curriculum for
instruction (simple stuff like using Word, Excel, the Internet, etc.)
and possibly refreshments.

We only need two volunteers every Saturday. We’re sorely lacking in
volunteers. If you want to help out, please contact me via email or
mobile phone (see my contact details below). We will be having a
meeting this Wednesday at 4:30 PM, venue TBA (probably at Faura). You
can drop by even if you don’t notify me, but it’d be better if you let
me know beforehand. Feel free to ask your friends to help out. More
volunteers are very much welcome! :-)

Thanks, and have a nice day!

Mark C. Punzalan
Vice President for Research and Development
The Computer Society in the Ateneo
punzki@compsat.org

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E-Mail from Mark Punzalan

Any Web 2.0 Philippine startups?

December 6, 2005 - Categories: philippines

Miguel Paraz wants to hear from you. Heck, _I_ want to hear from you. =)

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Ateneo team to compete in ACM ICPC World Finals!

December 7, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

From Didith’s blog: The top Atenean team will compete in the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Competition World Finals!

Way cool. =)

Inggit! ;)

December 6: Ecole Polytechnique massacre

December 7, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Sixteen years ago, 14 women were massacred by a man who hated feminists. Most were engineering students who had the gall to study at a school that hadn’t accepted him.

via Joey de Villa

The Power of the Human Spirit

December 7, 2005 - Categories: career, education, life, passion, teaching

Irine Yu pointed me to the speech delivered by Intel Excellence in Teaching awardee Dr. Josette Biyo:

When your job becomes your mission, your primary concern is giving your best in everything you do. Knowing that you have contributed
significantly towards the creation of a product which can make a difference in your company and the larger community is reward in itself.

We can make a difference no matter who or what or where we are. If we know _why_, then the _how_ follows. =)

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From elsewhere: Linux: a social experiment

December 8, 2005 - Categories: linux

Linux advocate disguised as panhandler gives CDs away. Interesting social results: most people don’t read signs, and panhandling is fairly lucrative. <wry grin>

Would be tempted to do something similar if I also had a stack of Ubuntu CDs.

Or—evil thought!—sneak into Microsoft dev event with button that
reads “Ask me about what I geek out about” and a bag full of Ubuntu CDs… ;)

(Convert the world one geek at a time! ;) )

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Secret Santa exchanges the Web way

December 8, 2005 - Categories: barkada

Elfster makes it easy to set up Secret
Santa gift exchanges. It automates signing up, drawing people, and
even anonymously asking questions. Here’s the one I made for one of my
barkadas. (Small group because everyone had to know everyone else
well…)

Christmas is about love, not shopping. ^_^ So let’s have a letter
exchange! Instead of scouring tiangges looking for the perfect gift
that’ll fit into your already tight budget, write a nice, long, warm,
heart-felt letter instead. Also, make one New Year’s Resolution and
dedicate it to your recipient. We could all use a little help in
keeping _those_… =)

Incidentally, the organizer can rig it. I didn’t, though. ;) It would
be fun to have it randomized. Of course, nothing’s stopping us from
writing letters for _everyone_, if we feel particularly diligent… =)

Check out Elfster and set up your Secret Santa gift exchange soon!

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Squidoo now on public beta

December 8, 2005 - Categories: social, web2.0

Squidoo opened its doors to the public today. Open beta. Try it out if you’re into Web 2.0 stuff.

I’m personally a little underwhelmed, although I can see how something
like this might be useful for all the niche site probloggers who don’t
have their own server/space or who want to take advantage of extra
visibility through squidoo, although I’m not sure how much better that
would be compared to, say, making a new website that’s indexed by
Google.

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To write well, one must have leisure

December 8, 2005 - Categories: writing

To write well, one must have leisure: leisure to read, leisure to think, to talk things over, to talk oneself in and out of a position, to compose and rewrite and polish, to travel, to observe, to listen, to let the sounds and voices sink into one’s consciousness until they are ready to come out again, having “suffered a sea-change.” All this requires leisure, and leisure is an expensive commodity.

- Miguel A. Bernad, SJ

One of the reasons I want to figure out how to retire early or enjoy great work-life balance. =)

Discovered via a comment left by purpleslurpee on charlesatan’s essay on writer’s block.

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Two years ago

December 8, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Was it really just two years ago today that I learned that free tech
support gets you so much more than just vanilla ice cream from
Jollibee? <impish grin>

Wow.

For the record, I’m _soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo_ glad that I
got into Linux. =)

Ruby: Turn bash.org quotes into a fortune file

December 8, 2005 - Categories: ruby

The following code turns XML quotes from bash.org (a popular IRC quotes server) into a fortune-cookie file.
Handy for using with ../emacs/flashcard.el and my ../emacs/flashcard-config.el, which pops up a fortune
every time I get a correct answer.

bash-org-to-fortune.rb:

require 'rss/1.0'
require 'cgi'
require 'net/http'
host = Net::HTTP.new('bash.org', 80)
if ARGV[0] then
   resp, data = host.get('http://bash.org/xml/?top&below=' + ARGV[0], nil)
else
   resp, data = host.get('http://bash.org/xml/?top', nil)
end
parsed = RSS::Parser.parse(data, false)
parsed.items.each { |x| puts CGI::unescapeHTML(x.description.gsub('
', "\n")); puts "%\n" }

Call like this:

ruby bash-org-to-fortune.rb > bash; strfile bash; fortune bash

# or to get the top quotes with score < 1000
ruby bash-org-to-fortune.rb 1000 > bash; strfile bash; fortune bash

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Learning Bisaya

December 9, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Are there comprehensive Bisaya references with example sentences,
aside from http://www.bohol.ph/books/Jimenez/EnglishBisayaGrammar.html
?

I’d like to learn Bisaya, but I’m worried I might end up with archaic
forms… <grin>

Have you the bread? Na-a ba canimo ang pan?
Yes, sir, I have the bread Oo, ania canaco ang pan.
Have you your bread? Na-a ba canimo ang imong pan?
I have my bread. Ania canaco ang acong pan.
Have you the salt? Na-a ba canimo ang asin?
I have the salt Ania canaco ang asin.
Have you my salt? Na-a ba canimo ang acong asin?
I have your salt. Ania canaco ang imong asin.
Have you the soap? Na-a ba canimo ang sabon?
I have the soap. Ania canaco ang sabon.
Which (onsa nga) soap have you? Onsa nga sabon ang ana-a canimo?
I have your soap Ania canaco ang imong sabon.
Which shirt have you? Onsa nga sinina ang ana-a canimo?
I have my shirt Ania canaco ang acong sinina.
Have you much money? Daghan ba ang imong salapi?
I have much money Daghan man ang acong salapi.
Where is your sister? Hain ba ang imong igso-on na babae?
She is at the garden (tanaman sa mga bulac) Tua didto sa tanaman sa mga bulac.
Where is your father? Hain ba ang imong amahan?
He is here. Ania dinhi.

Although if I stick with the guide, I’ll be able to say things like
“Daco man ang castigo nga ipahamtang canimo sa infierno.”

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Trend Micro Tech Challenge, blogged

December 9, 2005 - Categories: philippines

Check out the MSU-IIT coach’s blog entry about the Trend Micro Tech Challenge. =)

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Snow Ball was a ball =)

December 10, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Lots of great food and lots of dancing. =) I was a bit shy about
dancing in the beginning, but once the sugar and the vibe hit, I was
all in.

During one of my rest breaks, I managed to sit down next to what was
probably the only other Emacs person in the room. How did I find out?
Well, we started talking about courses, and then he asked me what
programming languages I use, and I said Lisp, and he asked if that was
the language used for Emacs, and I was like… whoa. =)

He then proceeded to tell me about his only gripe about Emacs – lack
of on-the-fly spellchecking.

… and I of course proceeded to tell him about emacswiki.org and
flyspell.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Even though I was dressed to the nines
(black velvet floor-length gown with red satin ribbons/and paper
roses), I was still a geek…

Awesome fun. Totally worth it. Met interesting people, too. =)

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Argh.

December 11, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Hoping I recover full use of my legs by 7:00, or I won’t be able to
make it to the International Day of Tango celebration. It feels like
I’m walking on swords. Walking on the balls of my feet is out of the
question, which means I can’t properly do the tango walk. My heeled
shoes help a bit, although ochos – where I have to pivot around one
foot – hurt like heck.

Note to self: next time, stretch before dancing energetically.

ARGH!

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Pinoy Blog Aggregator

December 11, 2005 - Categories: philippines

Check out the Philippine Blog Aggregator. It would be nice to see that populated by the blogs on PinoyTopBlogs

Hmm. No easy-to-find contact information, though, so I’m just going to have to wait until someone there notices my blog and adds it… <laugh>

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Scrabble

December 12, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

In between review sessions for my final exam tomorrow, I managed to
play Scrabble with Steve (Biology) and Mike (Math). Much fun. =) Mike:
191, Steve: 128, Sacha: 190.

Missing

December 14, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Finals were great. =) Now to figure out where the missing pieces are…

I remember going back to my room this morning to get the key for my
mailbox. I don’t remember where I put my Vingcard after that—my room
key. The door to my room was open because Mariana was still in the
room, but I definitely used it to get into the suite. I remember
carefully tucking my mailbox key into my red purse in order to keep it
safe. Where did I put the Vingcard? Hmm.

Likewise, my ID. I think I remember holding it the other night as I
returned from the tango party, so I probably didn’t lose it there. But
it wasn’t in the pockets of my jackets or on my desk, where I normally
put these things.

Here’s hoping I get good, lucid dreams tonight.

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I’ve figured out why I’m here! =)

December 15, 2005 - Categories: research, social

I love application essays. They make me think about what I’m doing
with my life. Sure, I could probably just make something up or use my
StatementOfPurpose from last time, but I actually like having to stop
and think.

And I’ve figured out a little bit more about how my project with Mark
Chignell fits into the grand scheme of things!

You see, I’d like to make it easy for people to collect and share
Internet resources that they’ve found useful. For example, consultants
in large software companies should be able to find out which documents
other consultants in their group found useful. They should be able to
find experts on a given topic, and they should be able to explore
other people’s interests too.

Although several web-based services allow social search and discovery,
they haven’t yet been widely adopted. My thesis will give me time to
think about what we can to do make these systems easier to use. My
human-computer interaction coursework will teach me how to measure the
effects of the changes we make to the interface. My background in
programming and computer science will allow me to quickly prototype
new interface designs.

And the grand scheme of things?

I think it would be fantastic if teachers could have that kind of
network. Imagine if I could filter my search for programming exercise
ideas according to what other introductory computer science teachers
found useful, or if I could explore what other people found useful.

Imagine if teachers could choose a set of useful webpages and make it
easy for students to prioritize those pages when searching. Imagine if
students could contribute their own hyperlinks. I think that would be
really cool.

But the interface needs to be much simpler, and it needs to be robust
and accessible. We can’t rely on constant high-speed Internet
connections. Consultants use laptops and teachers in the provinces
might connect only once in a while. Both sets of people are Really
Busy and don’t have the time or patience to muck about with
complicated interfaces. It needs to be simple and distributed, and it
needs to pack a lot of value.

Right.

That sounds like a great challenge. That’s what I want to do, and I
can see how it might be useful. If only because I would _love_ to know
what other teachers bookmark, and I want to have a quick and easy way
to tell people about interesting websites without flooding their
mailbox…

Mmkay. I’ll formalize this after I wake up, but I think I’m onto
something here.

On Technorati: , , ,

Feedburner rocks

December 15, 2005 - Categories: geek

Feedburner just added interactivity to
RSS feeds. People reading my RSS feed
through Feedburner can now easily e-mail things or add them to
del.icio.us. I should add similar links to my regular blog.

On Technorati: ,

ARGH! I hate forms

December 15, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

So the application form for the Delta Kappa Gamma scholarship was a
password-protected Microsoft Word document that included precise
instructions to type everything using 10pt font. Which would have been
nice, if the bloody password-protected file allowed you to actually
_do_ any of that instead of limiting you to size 8 all-caps. The thing
missed a couple of fields, too.

An hour after I submitted it, I decided to try the somewhat shady DOC
- RTF – DOC-and-unprotect trick. That worked, and I finally got to
edit the document.

Of course, I didn’t have a copy of my application data any more.
Didn’t get saved in the bloody Microsoft Word document. ARGH. And I
didn’t think of printing off another copy for my records. Lesson
learned: always print applications twice.

I’m planning to wander over to the admissions office early tomorrow
morning and ask if I could photocopy my application for my records.
I’ll mention the problem I had with the font size on the document. If
they think it might be a big thing, then I can spend the rest of the
morning feverishly retyping the form, getting rid of all the fields and
making sure the font size is just right.

I should also go and ask my supervisor to fax a copy of his reference
letter.

Right, that sounds like a Plan.

Today: lots of checking.

On Technorati: , ,

The Year in Bookmarks

December 16, 2005 - Categories: emacs, ruby
Top 10 tags for 2005 productivity(104) web2.0(88) digitalpinay(88) social(84) useful(83) business(80) blogs(70) research(69) lifehacks(68) blogging(60)

Check out my year in bookmarks for more detail. =) If you want me to analyze yours, just save http://del.icio.us/api/posts/all to all.xml and run this Ruby script. You can also e-mail me (sacha@plannerlove.com) your all.xml if you don’t want to go through the hassle yourself.

Much fun!

#!/usr/bin/ruby

require 'rexml/document'
require 'date'

include REXML

YEAR = 2005
USER = "sachac"
doc = Document::new(File::new('all.xml'))

month_hash = {}
month_total = {}
tag_total = {}
doc.elements[1].elements.each {
  |x|
  date = DateTime::parse(x.attributes['time'])
  if (date.year == YEAR)
    x.attributes['tag'].split(' ').each {
      |tag|
      month_hash[date.month] ||= {}
      month_hash[date.month][tag] ||= 0
      month_hash[date.month][tag] += 1
      tag_total[tag] ||= 0
      tag_total[tag] += 1
    }
    month_total[date.month] ||= 0
    month_total[date.month] += 1
  end
}

s = "Top 10 tags for " + YEAR.to_s + " |"
tag_total.sort_by { |tag,total| -total }.slice(0, 10).each { |tag,total|
  s += ' " + tag + "(" + total.to_s + ")"
}
puts s

month_hash.sort.each { |month,tags|
  s = Date::MONTHNAMES[month] + "
(" + month_total[month].to_s + " bookmarks) |" tags.sort_by { |tag,total| -total }.each { |tag,total| s += ' " + tag + "(" + total.to_s + ")" } puts s }

On Technorati: , ,

Characters blogged versus bookmarks

December 16, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Blogging statistics for 2005

My blogging activity is similar to my bookmarking activity, so that
means that bookmarking stuff with del.icio.us doesn’t mean I don’t
blog as much. =)

Friday night

December 16, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Ack! I guess I really am an extrovert now. I find it to be
_dreadfully_ quiet for a Friday night. The kind of quiet that makes me
wonder if everyone else is at fabulous parties that I just don’t know
about. Oh well.

It’s so good to be home!

December 22, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Home home home home.

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! =)

Social bookmarking in the Philippines

December 25, 2005 - Categories: philippines, social

Check out http://www.oks.ph , a Philippine social news site along the
lines of digg.com . Stories are bookmarked and voted on by users, and
popular stories are displayed on the front page. It’s a new site and
doesn’t quite display properly on Mozilla Firefox, but hey, it’s nice
to see other Filipinos into social bookmarking… =)

On Technorati: , ,

Catching up with mail

December 25, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Over a thousand messages. Hooray for Gnus and adaptive scoring!

Happy holidays, folks! =) It’s good to be home.

Learning photography

December 25, 2005 - Categories: philippines, photography

My dad’s been teaching me how to shoot. =) Check out my pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sachac !

Covering all the bases Meow

On Technorati: ,

Fireworks festival

December 26, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Went to the first day of the international fireworks festival at
Manila Bay. Papa wrangled a press pass. =) Took pictures, but haven’t
uploaded them yet. Australia’s choreography blew China’s technology
out of the water. Neato!

Time management for system administrators

December 28, 2005 - Categories: productivity

John Anderson (genehack) recently reviewed Time Management for System Administrators,
an O’Reilly book on how to survive a highly interrupt-driven job. =)

On Technorati: ,

Top 13 questions to ask yourself

December 29, 2005 - Categories: life

From Kevin Eikenberry, forwarded by Mom:

  1. What did I learn this year?
  2. What did I accomplish this year?
  3. Which accomplishments am I proudest of?
  4. Knowing what I know now, what would I have done differently in the past year?
  5. What will be my greatest lasting memories of this year?
  6. In what ways did I contribute?
  7. What were my biggest challenges or obstacles?
  8. What obstacles did I overcome?
  9. Who are the most interesting people I met?
  10. How have they changed my life?
  11. How am I different now than I was at the start of the year?
  12. What am I most grateful for?
  13. What else do I want to reflect on?

Reflections on 2005

December 29, 2005 - Categories: emacs, yearly

This year saw me in three countries: Japan, Philippines, and Canada.
On the surface level, I learned about a fair number of things: Jakarta
Struts, Ruby, engineering psychology and human performance…

Other things I learned:

My biggest challenge for 2005: graduate school

My biggest challenge was adapting to graduate school. I found it
difficult to be motivated and confident. I had a really bad attack of
the impostor syndrome that made me almost quit my teaching
assistantship because I felt I was doing the students such a
disservice by teaching something I didn’t really know. The students
reassured me, my professor and the previous teaching assistant helped
me, and even the assistant department chair called me in and
half-scolded, half-encouraged me.

The engineering psychology and human performance class was
interesting, too. The lab reports really helped me review statistics,
and I enjoyed writing. If I could do one thing differently, I wish I
had kept my new-found study habits instead of getting frustrated in
lectures. I used to read ahead, but I found it difficult to pay
attention in class, so I ended up just reading afterwards. Maybe
graduate-oriented classes will be more engaging.

Searching for a good project was also very difficult. My research
supervisor and I went through so many ideas. Because I didn’t have a
clear research question in mind, I felt adrift and frustrated. I
wasn’t sure if graduate school was worth the opportunity cost. I’m
happy now, though. We’ve found something that not only fits in with
our short- and medium-term goals, but also helps me with my long-term
goals. I think social search provides interesting possibilities,
particularly if we can make it much easier to do, much more
mainstream. I’m curious about whether we can make it easy to filter by
multiple networks, too. I still feel a little guilty about not having
completed my reading paper, but I resolve to turn in an absolutely
wonderful one next term! =)

I think the secret to life is being fully in the present, wherever I
am. I’m looking forward to throwing myself into the metadata course
when I get back to Canada, and I’m setting aside time to read papers
while on vacation.

Best memories for 2005

Listening to my family’s stories. Chasing horses and ice cream carts
while learning photography. Hanging out with my friends. Geek lurv.
(Hi Dominique! Hi Clair and JM! Hi Paolo and Kris! Hi Marcelle and
Gin! ;) ) Digital Pinay smackdown. Long phone calls and Skype
sessions. Cryptograms. Graduate House people and activities. New
friends and old friends. =)

Goals for 2006

  • Read more. I want to read at least a book a week and a
    scholarly paper a day.

  • Write more. I want to write a scholarly paper. I want to
    continue writing articles for magazines. I want to post thoughtful
    pieces on my blog more often. =)

  • Study more. I want to make my department glad they took a
    chance on me. =)

  • Do more. I want to lay the groundwork so that I have an idea of
    what to do after my master’s degree.

  • Live more. I want to make more friends in the Philippines and
    in Canada. I want our barkada to grow—fresh blood! =)—and I want to
    find a group of people I can hang out with in Canada.

  • Be more. I want to make a difference (even a small one!) at
    least every week.

On Technorati:

Mr. Yoest’s Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter

December 29, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

And I thought my OnLove page was weird. ;)

Rule Five:
It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is “early.”

Adphoto website plans

December 29, 2005 - Categories: adphoto

My dad wants to be able to update the pictures on the Adphoto website
easily. The iPhoto Flickr export plugin looks pretty nifty, and if I
can make something similar, that would be ubercool.

Hmm. Must redesign site. Brochure-ware, perhaps also stock photography?

On Technorati:

Looking for a new web host for Adphoto

December 29, 2005 - Categories: adphoto

The .ph domain will be a hassle to update (maybe we should just get
that delegated?), but it might be worth switching to a new web host.

I need PHP, MySQL, mail hosting, FTP access, 1 GB storage, and
ImageMagick support. We use less than 1 GB a month. I’d like
shell access. Python and Perl support would be really fun. Ruby would
make me thrilled. I plan to set up a tagged photoblog / photographers’
portfolio.

We’re currently paying ~ USD 8 / month. I’d prefer to keep money in
the Philippines, and most of our traffic comes from the Philippines
anyway. Know of any locally-hosted servers? If not, I’ll probably go
for http://www.site5.com/hosting/comparison.php .

On Technorati: ,

RSS mess

December 29, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Darn. Why are things getting double-escaped in my RSS feed?

Testing, testing.

Fire

December 31, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

There was a big fire right next to our house. We all got out safely, including the pets.

Fire

In the meantime, check out Peppy’s narrative at
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ninjapeps/130624.html for pics.

I need to learn how to be the keeper of stories. My dad told me some interesting
ones. Keywords:

Insightful

Funny

The five-year journal

December 31, 2005 - Categories: writing

Check out Cool Tools: The 5 Year Journal for a journal that promotes seredipitous discovery and reflection. =) Maybe I should customize my website to display headlines from the last few years…