August 30, 2006

Okay, back on track!

August 30, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Today is going to be a terrific day. =) I'm really looking forward to having a barbecue with Quinn Fung, Ian Garmaise, Alan Hietala, Syed Dilawar, Sander A. Smith, and Simon Rowland. I'm particularly looking forward to picking their brains about networking and evangelism.

A number of people I really want to meet will be in Toronto two weeks from now. They're among my role models. If I can get one deep conversation instead of just watching them from my general-admission seat at the motivational event, that would totally rock.

I'll write about them soon and see what I can do about volunteering at the event...

Backlog: A great weekend

August 30, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

We visited Simon's parents over the weekend to get a bit of a break from the city. His sister had moved to New York, so I stayed in her room. Simon was working through a particularly thorny business problem. He had to make a few really difficult decisions, but it was very good for him to have the support of his parents. Being able to feed raccoons was also quite calming!

We met Mike Edmonds' parents and sister while Simon was giving me a tour of the places in his neighborhood, so the tour turned into a wonderful conversation instead. The mists settled on the fields, forming a perfect backdrop for our chat.

Then we headed to Zest to join his parents and their friends, with whom they had had prior dinner arrangements. I chatted with Masumi in what little Japanese I'd retained from my six-month technical internship there, and was briefly introduced to Rob (who turned out to have the same birthday as I do). Sally and Greg asked me about my research, and I explained a bit more about what I do. It was nice meeting them.

On the way back, Simon showed me Trinity, a school he'd gone to before. The large brick buildings in a beautifully laid-out complex and the fact that the school drew people from all over the world made me wonder once again what I could've done with resources like that. I told him about my occasional frustration with schooling in the Philippines and how I'd once thought of taking my undergrad in the US. (He was surprised to hear that I got 1590 on my SATs, having missed one math question - but standardized tests are just standardized tests...) He was quick to remind me that such speculation was useless and that our experiences help make us into whatever we are. Besides, he reminded me, my schools were pretty good too—he'd heard me rhapsodize about them often enough. Good to be reminded of these things when I forget, even momentarily.

The next day, his business problem came to a head. The situation was quite stressful, but firm decisions were necessary. It was instructive seeing him work under such pressure from all sides.

His mom suggested a walk through the woods around their house, so Simon and I headed off while discussing his business situation. Carefully navigating through fallen leaves and branches with my slippers, I was alarmed when Simon looked back and casually pointed out poison ivy. Poison ivy! I reminded him that not everyone grows up learning what poison ivy looks like and that he very well might go traipsing around in his pants and closed shoes, but I (in malong and slippers, no less!) had no idea what to avoid. He laughed, apologized, and pointed out a clear path. (Next time, I'm wearing hiking boots.)

He kept trying to find something that suited everyone. When he realized that he couldn't, he did the difficult but right thing.

In the meantime, his dad and I had a number of great thought-provoking conversations about corporations enroaching upon the private life, what a good life is, and other topics. I enjoyed stretching my mind and learning from other people. =)

I also managed to get most of the way through a new edition of "Spirit of the Web", one of the books his father wrote about technologies for communication. =) I laughed at a lot of the stories he'd dug up about the history of radio and other techs. Quinn Fung had it as the textbook for one of her courses, so I can chat with her about it.

His mom told me a few more stories about the raccoons that regularly visit them, too. It was fun feeding them peanuts. Oh, and I saw a hummingbird! =) They're so cute!

I'm happy with the weekend. Although it meant moving things around a bit and having the rest of my week a little bit tighter, it was the best way I could've spent that time. (And yes, that's even considering the BuskerFest... <laugh>)

I'm looking forward to visiting them again. I've been sternly warned not to bring them any more gifts. <laugh> See, I baked cookies for his mom and his sister the first time I was there - it was their birthdays, so I had an excuse. Then I couldn't help think of them when I saw those cat postcards in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. =) Now I am tempted to get a baking pan, an inside joke about that delectable peach pie which was made of peaches so juicy that they overflowed and burned into the pan.

A good weekend indeed.

My Big Brother Database and social networking sites

August 30, 2006 - Categories: connecting, emacs

Yes, I keep a database on people. ;) I use an Emacs module aptly called the Big Brother Database (BBDB), which is just a keystroke away from my mail (Gnus) and my blog (Planner). I keep all sorts of notes in it, like when I met someone or what their food preferences are.

The following bit of Emacs Lisp code extracts all the names and e-mail addresses from my BBDB. I have 1852 distinct e-mail addresses, although a number of them are not for people.

(mapc
 (lambda (rec)
   (if (bbdb-record-net rec)
       (let ((name (bbdb-record-name rec)))
         (mapc
          (lambda (addr)
            (insert name "\t" addr "\n"))
          (bbdb-record-net rec)))))
 (bbdb-records))

I uploaded the list to LinkedIn and OpenBC, my two favorite business networking sites. I found that a lot of my contacts had joined the services since I last checked. It was great being able to refer to my notes and make those connections. For example, one record said that I'd met someone in 2004 at a Tokyo Linux Users Group meeting - something I'd probably not have remembered on my own...

Some of the records didn't have much annotation aside from the note "personal mail", which means I probably should set up mail indexing and search again. Hmm.

It's nice to have these notes at my fingertips.

On Technorati: ,

Awesome! One of my favorite authors just started blogging!

August 30, 2006 - Categories: life

Tim Sanders, author of "Love is the Killer App", has just launched a blog: http://www.sanderssays.com . "Love is the Killer App" is a book that I enthusiastically recommend and even give away to other people. Given that I'm on a grad student's budget, that's quite a strong statement. ;) I know so many people it describes so well, and I want to be the kind of person it envisions.

I'm really looking forward to listening to Tim Sanders at the Power Within event on September 13. How can I go about connecting beyond the anonymity of a general-admission audience? I would love to have a longer conversation. I'm good at mingling with diverse groups and would probably find a way to fit into the VIP lunch if I could talk my way into it, although I might need help convincing them to let me in. I know I'd have interesting conversations. Hmm. Coffee? Dinner? I'd be happy to be squeezed into a meeting with other people—all the better, actually, because then I'd get to meet other cool people.

I wonder if anyone on my LinkedIn or OpenBC is linked. Hmm, there's a leadership coach named Tim Sanders at Yahoo!, but he has only one connection, so that's kinda odd. Not on OpenBC either.

*boggle* I have more LinkedIn connections than Keith Ferrazzi, who's actually just three degrees away - but he's not open to Introductions or InMail, so I'm going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. Let me ask Erwin Oliva...

A fountain pen again

August 30, 2006 - Categories: writing

Essence du Papier called me recently to tell me that the Waterman I'd been pining for had arrived. I headed over there to pick up the beautifully patterned red fountain pen, an exact replica of the one I'd misplaced.

I will keep it with me always. Well, not always. Apparently, you can't take pens on international flights. How broken is that?

With air travel being such a pain, I'm starting to think that the terrorists have won.

But I have a fountain pen again, so all is right with the world, and I can once again use my pretty writing-paper to keep in touch in style. =)