May 2006

Linux Caffe

May 1, 2006 - Categories: friends

I had coffee – well, hot chocolate and green tea – with Simon at Linux
Caffe. David and Seneca were there, which meant that I not only got to
donate my Linux Journal issues, but also lend my molinillo to David
for his chocolate-making experiments. We had a lot of fun listening to
Seneca show off the awesome use of Trac to keep track of their recipes
and other cafe-related information (in a version control system! with
request tracking!). We also chatted about education, service, phone
systems, databases, and other cool things.

We stayed late into the night, two or three hours past the official
closing time. David brought out some brown rice tea and slightly
confused croissants. I left a hefty tip – more than what I paid for
the chocolate and the tea, actually – but hey, I believe in what
they’re doing and I think they’re really cool. =) Besides, that hot
chocolate was really nice. Way better than Second Cup, in my book.

On the way back to GH, we ran into other people we knew. Simon
introduced me to Roger, whose home renovation has turned out to be
quite a project. I ran into Steve, too, and did a few quick
introductions. =)

I love conversation and the company of friends. Hooray for random acts
of kindnesses and a wonderful universe!

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がネズミを嗅ぎつけたようですね。 Seems like the cat had the wind of a rat.


May 2, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Went to Drummers in Exile, a drum jam at Queen’s Park every Tuesday. Brought my poi and diabolo, and had plenty of good exercise. Didn’t bring batteries for the glowpoi, though… =) Anyway, it was tons of fun!

Ubuntu: kid-tested, mother-approved

May 2, 2006 - Categories: geek

Dominique had a very interesting conversation with his mom. Turns out she prefers Ubuntu over Slax. =)

Parents are cool. =)

Random Japanese sentence: じらさないで、そのニュースを私に聞かせてくださいよ。 Stop playing cat and mouse with me and tell me the news.


May 3, 2006 - Categories: entrepreneurship, philippines, purpose

I really enjoyed talking to Winston Damarillo about the Philippines,
and I’m looking forward to introducing him to other people who are
making things happen. He _so_ needs to get plugged into the network.
He plans to do some really cool stuff! =D

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Congrats to Diane on her game design class!

May 3, 2006 - Categories: friends

Diane Lazaro’s just learned that she’s going to teach a game design
class. I’m sure she’ll do a fantastic job! =)

Random Japanese sentence: 猫はトラと近縁である。 Cats are related to tigers.


May 4, 2006 - Categories: toastmasters

We had another executive meeting for Toast I.T. Toastmasters. I’m really glad to have this opportunity to serve the club as the secretary / treasurer, and I’m starting to get the hang of things. I’m planning to run for either VP education or VP membership in the upcoming elections. I know the position of vice president of education involves a lot of work – keeping track of people’s progress, thinking of ways to help them improve their speaking skills – but that’s exactly the kind of coaching I want to do. =) The VP of membership, on the other hand, is in charge of keeping in touch with members old and new, and reaching out to guests too. Either will really help me grow! =)

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Connector, Maven, Salesman

May 4, 2006 - Categories: career, purpose

The Tipping Point – excellent book! – describes three kinds of people who are critical parts of massive change: the maven, the connector, and the salesman. Connectors are “people with a special gift for bringing the world together.”(p.43) Mavens are information specialists.(p.59) Salesmen have “the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing.”

I’m _supposed_ to be a Maven. That’s what computer geeks do – they geek. They grok. They learn something inside out. Strangely, though, I have the feeling that this isn’t quite my thing, that this isn’t quite what I’m meant to do. I guess it relates to my teaching philosophy. I’m not the expert! <laugh> I don’t know everything, and I’m
much happier helping people learn than trying to teach them everything they need to know. Besides, hanging out with people far more brilliant than I am makes me feel decidedly un-Maven-ish. =)

You know what I have _tons_ of fun doing? Connecting people with other people. I really, really want to help people make things happen, and if I can connect them with other people with similar or complementary passions, that would be totally awesome! I also _really_ have a lot of fun listening to people. I sell, sell, sell – not stuff, but ideas,
passion, confidence… I sell people themselves. I sell dreams of what they can do. I _love_ doing that! (And to think I used to be an INTJ…)

So I need your help figuring out what I’m going to do with my life. =) Software developer? I can do that, but there’s just so much else I _also_ want to do. I’d love it if you could help me imagine what my future can be so that I can prepare for it better. =D It’s not exactly the kind of thing you’d find in, say, What Color is Your Parachute…

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May 5, 2006 - Categories: geek

So I’m not completely hopeless after all… ;) Hanging out with
uber-geeks at events such as the International Game Developers
Association social last night has made me feel really non-technical,
but a full day of good hacking’s made me feel okay again. I finally
got the hang of the prefuse visualization library for Java. It didn’t
have documentation and it doesn’t have much of a Google footprint, but
I used my mad source-reading skills to piece things together, cobbling
together pieces from different demos and diving through the API for
things I know should be there.

Java was, as usual, a pain to deal with, cross-platform – version
incompatibilities with my browser plugin at the beginning! – but after
a lot of searching, I finally got that all sorted out. I was very
happy to get the visualizations to work, and a couple of people in the
Cambridge lab had fun with it too.

It’s good that I’ve found something for drawing polished, interactive
visualizations. =) All I need to do now is learn graphviz so that I
can also be an ubercool researcher. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は驚いて飛び上がった。 The cat jumped in surprise.

Also not entirely hopeless in a corporate setting

May 5, 2006 - Categories: career, purpose

Would I fit into a large company? I really, really love doing
technology evangelism. An internal technology adoption role or a
new-products development role might give me that mix of technical and
social challenges that I so enjoy. I love what I’m doing as part of my
research, and I wonder if it’s at all possible to get away with doing
that for serious…

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May 6, 2006 - Categories: friends

The picnic at High Park was an awesome idea, even though we missed
most of the cherry blossoms. I had a lot of fun chatting with Andrew,
James, Joe, Mike, and Quinn over strudel, popcorn, chips, potato salad
(with onions!), tangerines, peanuts, cranberry juice and Sprite. It
was so nice seeing the sun again, too, even though it was quite

Happy girl. =)

Picnic pic 1Picnic pic 2

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Full day!

May 8, 2006 - Categories: friends, ruby, social

I woke up early to check if anyone I knew was online, and I had a nice
chat with Marcelle. I fell asleep waiting for Dominique to come back
online, though, and I had such a vivid dream that I didn’t wake up
until an hour or so later – by which time even my mom was starting to
feel like she was talking to cyberspace… =)

Anyway, it was such a nice chat that I didn’t mind being late to the
clothing show held at Exhibition Place. Quinn and I eventually made it
there at around 12, and we browsed for an hour or so. I bought a
bracelet and two necklaces, all made of shell. I thought they might go
nicely with my ethnic stuff. I didn’t really find anything else that
particularly struck my fancy, as tiered skirts are getting a _little_
too popular for my tastes. I might shift back to nicely colored
skirts, and of course I like wearing stuff from home. I wore the red
malong as a skirt today, matching it with a colorful abaniko fan.
(Thanks, Mom!)

That’s why I was late to the Ruby meeting. =) That was cool, too! As
soon as he saw me, Austin said, “You know Steve Perelgut!” (He’s one
of my mentors from IBM, and a totally totally cool person. The fact
that he reads me blog (Hi Stephen!) has nothing to do with the
gushiness of the previous statement. =) ) Austin shared what he’d
learned from the Ruby code jam (lesson 1: be better prepared!),
particularly the effectiveness and _fun_ of pair programming. It
worked out really well because Ruby novices were paired up with Ruby
veterans, but the Ruby novices were also good at other aspects that
the Ruby geeks might not have learned about. In this case, they were
porting an archiving library to Ruby. =) Good stuff.

We also had a fun chat about how people can learn to read and write
code. Apparently, I _am_ really weird in that I rather enjoy reading
code… =)

Jed and Quinn were there too, although they dropped in and out of the
conversation, as I fangirled a bit about Ruby and got some interesting
tips. Should check out the Water framework for testing web
applications, although that might need Windows. Also, Austin suggested
SVG + PDF for my graph outputs. Whee!

Jed mentioned a samba jam at an art gallery on Queen Street West. In
keeping with my plan to get to know a wide variety of people and
experience more than what I’d ordinarily get just hanging out with
computer geeks and talking about computers, I decided to go. It was
tons and tons of fun! I told them I had no sense of rhythm and that
I’d be perfectly happy just listening and taking pictures, but Jed
wouldn’t take no for an answer. Heck, he didn’t even ask if I wanted
to join. Instead, he held up two instruments and asked which one I’d
like to play. <laugh> I opted for a small drum, and I found
myself picking up the rhythm thanks to the coaching of people around

A photographer wandered in, too, so I adopted her. Marie had just
joined a camera club and was thrilled to stumble across such a cool
event. I gave her the tips my dad shared with me about using long
exposures and lower ISO speeds to capture dramatic action, and she had
a lot of fun exploring that, too. =)

I made it back for coffee time at Graduate House. I had so much fun
catching up with Sam. She wants to do really cool things with
accessibility, and she’s in a terrific position to do so! I’m also
really excited about her application to be an RA for the dorm. I think
she’d be a terrific one. I told her about what’s cool in my life: the
Delta Kappa Gamma fellowship, my research up at IBM, the thrill of
introducing people to other people… She nodded and told me how much
she enjoyed that too. When I learned that she hadn’t yet read Tipping
Point, I ran upstairs to grab my copy. I lent it to her, pointing out
the section on Connectors and adding a note about context. I’m also
going to have to get myself a hardcover (if I can find it!) of Love is
the Killer App, which is another thing that she will _so_ be able to
identify with. (Thank you, Maoi, for introducing me to that book!)

Afterwards, I had a wonderfully geeky chat about computer science and
assorted things with Mike and Joe. In particular, Joe’s overlapping
clustering algorithms _might_ be fun to run against tag clouds, social
networks, and other cool things. I need to show Mark a sample and see
how we can ask for suitably anonymized data…

Happy girl. Full day. Great fun. =) Lots of interesting people!

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古いお話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

Connecting people

May 8, 2006 - Categories: geek, philippines

Revisiting a website comment from Francis, I realized that I should
get him plugged into our cool geek network in the Philippines. So I
e-mailed a couple of friends, and here’s what Francis said:

 *explodes with glee*

Thanks Ate! That just made my day. I can’t wait to get to learn from real
geeks (I’ve been missing out on so much…*sigh*).

(“Ate” = older sister, also used as a term of respect)

He then went on to describe the .NET coding he’s doing as part of his
internship. Winston mentioned the rapid start training program that
his company does so that new grads can be brought up to speed on open
source. =) That sounds like a great way to get into fun and
interesting work! winston.karma++.

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Welcome to the blogosphere, Winston! – OSS entrepreneurship in the Philippines

May 8, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Check out Winston Damarillo‘s blog
and talk about open source entrepreneurship in the Philippines. =)

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は夜のほうがはるかによく見える。 A cat can see much better at night.


May 9, 2006 - Categories: friends

I just got back from Chapters, the main bookstore chain here in
Toronto. I browsed through nine books and bought four. I’ll go into
more detail later, but I just wanted to share with you my joy in being
able to give one of the books to someone who perfectly fits it.
Sambhavi Chandrashekar doesn’t need to read Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders.
She already lives it. It is my hope, however, that the book will give
her even more words to describe her dreams, goals, and passions.

Thanks to Maoi Arroyo of Hybridigm Consulting for insisting that I read the book!

(Hey, I hadn’t realized that Tim Sanders is the “director of Yahoo’s in-house think tank”. Coolness!)

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Raided the bookstore

May 9, 2006 - Categories: book

Good to great and the social sectors: Why business thinking is not the answer
Jim Collins

It’s a slim monograph and fairly expensive for its weight (or lack
thereof – not that I buy books based on weight! <laugh>) ;) ,
but the main points are neatly summarized in four pages at the end,
and its insights are backed by good stories.

A whole new mind: why right-brainers will rule the future
Daniel H. Pink

Title is a bit fluffy, but the book contains surprisingly practical
advice aimed at helping people develop their senses of design, story,
symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Small giants: companies that choose to be great instead of big
Bo Burlingham

Bought it because I felt a strong urge to recommend it to a
California-based entrepreneur who’s been trying to think of how to
help the Philippines get the entrepreneurial spirit when IPOs and
other tech-startup exit strategies are almost non-existent in the
local market.

Love is the Killer App
Tim Sanders

A friend of mine insisted that I read this book some time ago, and I
find myself now infected with the urge to pass it on to others. See earlier blog entry. =)

I skimmed a number of other books, too.

I know, I know, I should just get all my books off Amazon instead of
buying them at Chapters, but I haven’t gotten a Canada-based credit
card yet and I can’t pay for it out of my budget when I use my
Philippine-based Visa. And then of course there’s the way I like
flipping through books… I suppose I could browse at Chapters and buy
off Amazon, but sometimes there’s no real price difference, and
economy shipping takes a while.

Maybe I could use it as a delayed gift for myself, though. Something
to look forward to. =) Besides, I still need hardcover copies of some
of my absolute favorites…

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 問題は誰が猫に鈴をつけるかだ。 The question is who will bell the cat.


May 10, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m starting to feel a little stretched. Too many nights with too
little sleep, too many blog entries that are just reports instead of
reflections, too many way cool things happening both here and back in the Philippines.

Too much fire and not enough water or earth.

I need time to recenter and find my peace before plunging into all the
tech stuff this weekend. I’ll just find a park or walk down to the
lake and bliss out.

Having time to decompress, to digest things that have been going on,
to think about where I’m going and whether that’s right – that’s
really important to me. Right now I think I’m going in the right
direction, but I don’t want to sustain sugar rushes for too long.

I think I’ll cancel my Wednesday plans. I’d like to slow down and let
the universe speak.

Random Japanese sentence: ネコはエジプト人によって飼い慣らされたものである。 Cats were domesticated by the Egyptians.

BBC World Documentary on free and open source software in developing countries

May 10, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Seen on the Toronto Linux Users Group mailing list:

From the announcement:

“Coming Soon: The Code Breakers – a BBC World Documentary on FOSS and

A two-part documentary, “Code Breakers” will be aired on BBC World TV starting
on 10 May 2006. Code Breakers investigates how poor countries are using FOSS
applications for development, and includes stories and interviews from around
the world.”

And most importantly, to go along with the FOSS theme, they state:

“Following its ten transmissions on BBC World the documentary will be
available copyright-free for broadcast throughout the world.”


E-Mail from Jason Shein

Books at the Linux Caffe

May 10, 2006 - Categories: geek

I’ll be writing another blog post about the Linux Caffe, but here’s a
list of the books they have along the windows and on shelves.

  • Rembrandt
  • Pattern Recognition (Sklansky, not Gibson)
  • Am I Too Loud? Memoirs of an Accompanist
  • Fletch
  • A New Kind of Science (Wolfram!)
  • Physical Geology
  • The Secret Language of Birthdays
  • Munschworks
  • Van Gogh
  • Wicked Cool Java
  • My Job Went to India (And All I Got Was This Lousy Book)
  • GIMP Essential Reference
  • Programming Perl
  • Learning Perl
  • Perl in a Nutshell
  • XML
  • DHTML and CSS for the World Wide Web
  • Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference
  • Genetic Algorithms in Engineering and Computer Science
  • Exim: The Mail Transfer Agent
  • UNIX Security
  • Essential CVS
  • Wbe Proxy Servers
  • Switching in IP Networks
  • Effective C++
  • Effective STL
  • Java Threads
  • Common LISPcraft
  • An Introduction to Programming Using Java
  • XML Data Management
  • Java Digital Signal Processing
  • SNMP- SNMPv2, SNMPv3, and RMON 1 and 2
  • Maximum Security: A Hacker’s Guide to Protecting Your Internet Site and Network
  • Python: Essential Reference
  • Writing GNU Emacs Extensions
  • CGI Programming with Perl
  • Practical Internet Groupware
  • An Introduction to Distributed Algorithms
  • MySQL & mSQLL
  • The C++ Standard Library
  • Understanding SOAP
  • Building Wireless Community Networks
  • Write Great Code
  • Project Cool: Guide to XML for Web Designers
  • Philip and Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing
  • Python Developer’s Handbook
  • HTML
  • FreeBSD
  • Information Anxiety 2
  • Design Patterns
  • Berkeley DB
  • Applied Software Project Management
  • Networks and Netwars
  • SGML
  • Confessions of Teenage Hackers
  • Database: A Primer
  • Building Internet Firewalls
  • Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets and Solutions
  • Freeware Encryption and Security Programs
  • Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference
  • Malware: Fighting Malicious Code
  • Practical Unix & Internet Security
  • IP Routing Primer
  • Hacking Linux Ex posed
  • Shell Scripting Recipes
  • Perl/Tk Pocket Reference
  • Running Weblogs with Slash
  • Programming ColdFusion

Linux Caffe

May 10, 2006 - Categories: geek, linux, toronto

I’m sitting in the Linux Caffe working over a wireless connection, having just polished off another cup of their excellent hot chocolate. And it’s not just any hot chocolate, mind you. It’s open source and version-controlled through an internal Subversion repository.

It’s really a geek haven. Computer books fill the
windows and the shelves. Laptops are out, open, and plugged in.
Assorted penguin buttons are on sale.

It’s a great place to run into people. On the way in, I chatted with a
biologist who’s working on bringing the ideas of open source to genome
research. I’m sitting across a geekette with mad AIX skills. David,
the proprietor, is always fun to chat with about everything from the
local geek scene to the latest chocolate concoctions.

I think I’ve found a good home for my get-togethers. I want to get to
know a lot of people, and I want them to get to know each other, too.
It’s difficult to entertain at the Graduate House because of the
security restrictions and the way our suite is laid out; I don’t have
enough space to entertain. Hosting get-togethers at the Linux Caffe
promotes something I believe in, offers people more variety and
choice, and makes it easier for me to focus on people.

Let’s make that happen. Next Friday, I’ll have a get-together here. I
hope to eventually turn that into a lecture series, so that I get to
learn about interesting things from very interesting people. Perfect… =)

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May 10, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Whenever I slow down and let the universe tell me what to do, it gives
me back something amazing. I slept until noon today. I woke up in time
to meet my research supervisor briefly – he teased me about waking up
so late – and then I headed off to a great lunch with my labmates. I
decided to work at the Linux Caffe, making a serendipitous connection
with an open biologist. I picked up a bunch of herbs and a pot of
hibiscus on the way back, and after planting them, I found I had
enough energy to go to the improv comedy night after all. It was
hilarious. During the intermission, I discovered one of my passions,
and now I want to make something big happen. I’ll blog about it in
more detail, but I’ve decided to blog about it tomorrow as soon as I
wake up. That way, I wake up early and with lots of energy! Don’t
worry, I’ve told some of my friends already, so I’m not going to
forget the idea… =)

Totally refreshed. I love how the world works!

Technology evangelism

May 11, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

My research supervisor invited me to give a guest lecture on blogs,
wikis, podcasts, bookmarks, and other cool Web 2.0 stuff. I gave his
graduate class a whirlwind tour of all these cool things that are
driving the mass amateurization of the Web. I didn’t even mention all
the stuff I had planned. I just had so much fun talking about
everything that came to mind. I love doing technology evangelism, and
they appreciated my enthusiasm too! They were a terrific audience with
plenty of cool ideas and good back-and-forth. They chuckled at my
jokes and answered my questions – and asked quite a number of their
own. That was tons of fun!

I wanted to record it, but unfortunately (a) I forgot to hit the
record button, and (b) the batteries I bought just that afternoon
turned out to be dead. Pfft. Oh well. I’d love to do another whirlwind
tour again, though…

On Technorati:


May 13, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The next few days are packed. Solid. Quadruple-booked, even. Somehow
I’m going to have to juggle all of that without losing my sanity. =)

So much for my plan to check out everyone before heading to BarCampTdot. Don’t have time. I’ll just have to do small talk the old-fashioned way.

Long view:

Sat, Sun Engineers Without Borders, Toronto Barcamp
Mon, Tue mesh
Wed Paper, improv night
Thu Paper
Fri Paper due!

Random Japanese sentence: 私たちは猫と犬を飼っている。 We have a cat and a dog.

Ruby versus Java

May 13, 2006 - Categories: barcamp, ruby

This is totally cool. I’m in the middle of a geek crowd discussing
Java vs Ruby, but there’s none of that “my language is better than
yours” vibe that often comes out in Linux distribution discussions. I
think what’s cool about it is that most people here use both, so we’re
just figuring out where one is better than the other for something,
and how we can improve things…

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は2匹猫を飼っている。一匹は黒でもう一匹は白だ。 He keeps two cats: one is black, and the other white.

At mesh conference; Om Malik keynote

May 15, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

I survived the morning rush of registrants at mesh conference in Toronto, and
I’m now listening to the keynote conversation between Mark Evans and Om Malik. I missed the main part, but fortunately Scott Karp liveblogged it.

Here are fragments of what I’ve heard:

85% market share. That demographic hasn’t figured out how to block
ads. This is a highly skewed argument. Mainstream users don’t bother
with these things. They can download software to block ads, but nobody
does that. People actually click on ads. I’m surprised by the number
of people who click on my Google ads.

What do you write for the National Post audience? What do you write about for the Net?
Newspapers – facts. Blogs does spin, opinion. That’s where the value is added.
We can’t just look at blogs or podcasts as just a digital version of news. We need to build loyalty.
build a different voice online.

When you write a story for a magazine, in reality, once it’s inside a
magazine, the story is over. But the story never ends. The story never
dies. You have to follow it. … Whenever we write a story inside a
magazine, we can’t use follow-up information in a month’s time. If they don’t care from me, then maybe I haven’t engaged their mind. That’s very critical. This community aspect.

Three years from now, I see something like the Wall Street Journal
saying, “These bloggers are pretty good.” … give them the
credibility. ZDnet is already doing that. They’re bringing in a lot of
bloggers, figuring out a game plan. You will see all the big media, or
at least the bigger media, actually experimenting and creating their
own blog.

Every user comes with their finger poised on the Back button. As long as you’re worried about that, you have to do great stuff. Bloggers – contextual reading. You will never capture the big story in 800 words. Don’t think of it as traditional reading. It’s almost like a

Mark: What do you see yourself doing three years from now? Om: As long
as they keep paying me well… It’s fairly simple. (more discussion)

Boris Mann: I probably wouldn’t know about either of you if you didn’t
have blogs. I don’t ever go to these websites. I don’t click through.
Everyone who has fulltext RSS feeds, I read directly in my reader.
Blogs are conversations. I can’t have a discussion with the National
Post. Om: Good to finally meet you in person, and thank you for
sending all those comments. You are as important to me as any other
person. … It creats patrons, and patrons are good for advertising,
but we don’t have a good advertising model. All these questions are in
front of us. That’s a challenge, and that’s an opportunity for anyone
who can figure this out. Anyone who can think of a good advertising
model right now can make a lot of money.

Putting my e-mail address at the bottom of the story isn’t having a
conversation. Whether you’re a newspaper online or .., you need to
create a conversation. You need to use the Web and different tools to
draw people in. It’s a nice little phrase: “Let’s have a
conversation”, but the truth is that’s going to drive your business.

Web 2.0. It’s not a technology. It’s not some cool Javascript. It’s a new way of thinking.
Robert Scoble – he helped humanize Microsoft, for goodness’ sake. Just one guy, and he did such an effective job.

Argh. Where’s the mesh conference backchannel? IRC?

On Technorati: , , ,

Mashing the Vote: Web 2.0 for Social Change

May 15, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Phillip Smith, Mark Greenspan.


  • Sacha Chua. Social computing in the enterprise, U of Toronto and IBM. Also interested in grassroots because of the Philippines
  • Julian Scarfe. Free Agent Communications. News oriented for parents and children. Because that sort of demographic has high ideal aspirations in that mental space, something here might apply. Technical director, communications strategist.
  • Robb Creary, Bell Canada. CRM. Pull everything together and kinda see how everything fits in. Better to be prepared.
  • Patrick Gilbert. Word of mouth marketing company called Matchstick. Heading up online marketing and fundraising for Mayor David Miller campaign.
  • Andrew Berthoff. Environics Communications, a PR agency in Toronto and three other cities. Primarily interested in not-for-profit organizations.
  • Madelaine Hamilton. Taking IT Global. Connects people internationally so that they can get involved in the community. 110k members, most based in developing countries.
  • Lars Hansen. C2E Consulting. Learning and thinking about the application of these things, work on a community basis.
  • Rhonda Burke. Organizer. Fundraising. 150+ events that are volunteer-driven.
  • Alexei White. Vancouver company, eBusiness Applications. AJAX components for developers. Very much on the technical side, also very interested in dotversity and the kind of conversation that’s happening.
  • Andrew Heaton. Creative strategist for Trilogy. I’m inthe preliminary stages of starting a non-profit company to raise money for charities.
  • Ryan Ginsberg. Fuel Industries?, marketing, advergaming. Lately, grassroots adverts has been a huge, huge component of it. Fox. There are so many cool things you can do to tap into blogs and message boards etc. At the end of the day, it’s all about the ROI.
  • Patrick Dinnen. Hogtown Consulting, Web2.0. Wireless Toronto.
  • Jen Nolan. IBM. The big newspapers have such a power over our society, our culture. I really love the power of the people.
  • Mark Greenspan. Canadian Film Center’s Habitat New Media Lab. Training new media content producers.
  • Phillip Smith. Not-for-much profit company, Community Bandwidth. Help non-profits to push their missions forward, advocate on the behalf of others, etc. Social Tech Brewing.

What are the principles and tools of Web 2.0?

  • Two-way communication. Read/write Web.
  • User-generated content
  • Wisdom of crowds
  • Participation. Everyone has a voice
  • Collaborative content, harnessing collective intelligence
  • Mashup
  • Web as Platform
  • Long tail, etc.
  • Data is the next Intel Inside
  • Users add value
  • Network effect by default
  • Some rights reserved
  • The perpetual beta
  • Cooperate, don’t control
  • Above the level of a single device

What are the tools?

  • Blogs
  • Social networks
  • Open source
  • Browser
  • Wiki
  • Folksonomy, tagging
  • Blogging, participation
  • Google Maps, AJAX
  • Identity, trust, personal brands
  • Standards/services: APIs, RSs, etc.
  • Group-editable pages, wikis, comments
  • Exposing user data, emergence
  • Creative Commons, GPL, F/LOSS

If we were to think about how to take some of this and put it into action… I thought I’d do a really quick tour of some of the applications I’ve seen over the years. How we can leverage the 2.0 to change the world.

WWF example: “Donate now and put your name in our sky.” The general idea is that if someone donates, they can put their name in the sky. How is it the long tail? There are hundreds and thousands of people who care about issues like arctic wildlife refuge, but it’s difficult to aggregate all of these people into one solid voice. Just to bring these voices together.

This is something that Chris Nolan made for the 2006 elections. Data is the next Intel Inside. The traditional explanation of this is ISBN and Amazon’s extension, the Amazon book number, which has more information about it. This group in the UK has done the same thing for public data, what’s being said in the House of Commons. They’ve really extended it and included voting history, etc. They’ve even made it free.

Peter Tabuns. Provincial election. People in this person’s riding expressing support and plotting that on the map.

Mark: One thing about the last example (theyworkforyou) is that it’s open source, so if you want, you can set it up.

They also do hearfromyourmp and pledgebank. All of these tools are
open source and can be adapted for Canada’s system easily. The best ideas bubble up to the top. One of the ideas that got bubbled up has been taken by Hillary Clinton and she’s going to introduce a bill that ties Congressional pay increases to federal minimum wage.

Network effects by default. Tom Mauser is one of those people who lost a child in Columbine. Forward Track. 6 degrees of separation. Tracking six degrees of separation on a map. When Mark signs up to send the petition, the map centers around him. The network effect by default.!

pledgebank. “I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help me do it.” Some of these pledges are tiny, but others are pretty big. Powerful tools. There’s RSS. You can get pledges in your town. Inexpensive way for NGOs to provide their communities with a way to organize.

Some rights reserved.

Crown copyright. Most documents are released under that, so the Queen owns the data. This makes it very difficult to get what you think should be public data. For example, geocoding data. So some people built their own. Free service, free data. Just launched last month. To hel make sure public data stays public. Taxpayer-funded data, we should have access to it.

So the perpetual beta is one of the neatest ideas applied to grassroots advocacy. There can be an iterative, experimental, evolutionary process around campaigns. The three things I’m going to show here are not Web campaigns, but I believe they embody the spirit.

publicspace committee. Lightning rod for many communities. In Toronto, we have a really strong group. Fantastic experimental projects trying to win back public space. Billboard battalion. Once a week I get e-mail from the “general”. Billboards are illegal in Toronto, and companies have to apply for variances. So what the battalion does is keep track of people who are applying, etc. Guerilla gardening, etc. This is not a large NGO, but just a bunch of people having lots of interesting ideas.

Dave Meslin. How can you bring this idea to city council. What can you do if you’re interested in making Toronto a better place to live?

City Idol. We all know and love Canadian Idol. There are a lot of people in Toronto, and important decisions are made by the 45 people on the slide before. We had a contest where people signed up to participate in City Idol. Over 200 people signed up for the first event. Second round of finals. For every ward in the city, they have people competing to help out.

Mark: American Idol. 60 million text messages.

Jen: Wikipedia has history for all the municipalities in Toronto. Phillip: And it’s really good information too. – Action Network. !! This is cool! Change the world around you. What are the issues that are important to you, and how can you connect with your neighbors? Mark: Again, local organization. Software above the level of the single device. As much as Canada is behind in the mobile space, we’re certainly seeing more interesting work to be done. Mobile phone reporting. Large mobilizations from their phones. Used around the Republican National Convention.

Murmur. Out of the Canadian Film Center. Using Asterix and a lot of ingenuity, two students (Shaun and Gabe) created this audio tourist experience for Toronto. You can find these little signposts where all these red dots are that have a phone number that you can call to get a spoken history for that location. Local participants. Fantastic. They’ve expanded this idea around Canada, and now they have an Airstream bus. Mark: One of the things that really worked for Murmur was keeping it very very simple. Accessible. All you need is a cellphone and the ability to make a local call on your cellphone. Appeal to the lowest common denominator. One thing very important about that project.

Phillip: It’s stunning how many people are not from Toronto and they get a murmur postcard and they walk around. “I want to hear from the woman who’s an expert on this on her blog.” … People are really starting to understand that that kind of integral, honest communication is important. Right now, they pick people. Mark: Interview techniques, narrative-based project. Airstream bus.

Another local specific above the level of the single device is Wireless Toronto. It sounds like another municipal wireless network thing until you get into the idea of location-specific content. If you log on to the network like at St. Lawrence Market, you’ll come to a local portal that aggregates a number of feeds to give you the context for that place. You can see who else is online and you can communicate with them or meet their blogs. Flickr images are being pulled from the tags. The classified ads section is taken from craigslist. Craigslist – continuous live search. If you’re an NGO working on employment, aggregating jobs that are specific to youth, for example… RSS to voice through RSS. (!! Hey, that’s a cool idea and we can do that at home, because phone is free!) (Kagigi – volunteers wanted!! oooh.)

Apartment rental mashup, etc.

One Free Minute. Mobile sculpture for anonymous public speech. Sao
Pauo, Brazil. Warsaw, Poland. London, UK. Canada and USA.

We have a municipal election coming up within the next six months, and we’re not seeing a lot happening in terms of civic participation. What does civic participation look like with Web 2.0?

Two-way street. If you don’t get the eyeballs there and the interest there in the first place… It’s easy to capture the converted. What about the people who couldn’t care less? How do you start the engagemet process? If you can find out how they’re connected online…

In this case, there’s a particular issue: municipal election. How do you connect people to the municipal election?

It’s the candidates and the municipal election itself. People wring their hands and ask why people aren’t interested, but you have a bunch of stuffed shirts and… So how do you get new people?

What kind of offline event drives people to something, and how do you leverage that with Web 2.0?

For example, smart mobs. Street car tours and the pillow fight in Dundas Square. Database of people. Pillow fight announcement, publicity, etc.

How do you market to or engage this population and how do you bring them into the online world and what do you do? Once you’ve got them in the online world, then you’ve got all sorts of tools.

Odd-ball activist. How do we get normal folks in?

When I think of real events around a political campaign… listen to a politician give pre-packaged, overly-analyzed speech… or town meeting kind of thing, where you end up with the same issue, where you get verbose people who end up hijacking the thing… Speed at which you can scan and filter on Web 2.0. Somewhere I can go and find discussions about my local councilor. These issues I don’t care about, these issues I do, etc. A customizable search tool which allows you to scan through the issues… The other thing that would be interesting would be at the municipal election, we don’t have strong political affiliations. Niche interest (Sam Bulte), but other people can affect a really local thing. If there was a site that made it easy for us to keep track of whatever they were saying about different issues… that would help me. And I want to specify my interests. Customizable search thing. All decisions and all issues that stand, etc. Report card. How they voted, absolute transparency and accessibility. Hard data plus softer stuff. Might get filtered too much, though, too compartmentalized. Digg-style popularity.


  • Not a topical wiki, but a scenario wiki, where we can extrapolate from a bill or if this candidate is elected, this is probably what’s going to happen, etc. Putting things in a language that people can understand. Approach in engangig people.
  • Issues that are important to you, access to all the data around it. Absolute transparency. Asterisk to get into people’s homes.
  • Comments on a public blog. An online petition that you could translate into… make candidates for public office understand that to stand in favor of this would mean death, etc.

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Update: Phillip’s posted slides at

Catching up; mesh post coming soon

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Day 1 of the mesh conference, and
day 3 of my conference sprint. (Barcamp was last weekend.) I’m running on a sustained sugar high and very little sleep, but it’s been _so_ totally worth it.

I promise more detailed stories soon, but just in case you’re a mesh
participant dropping by… Hi! You can check out my bookmarks to get an idea of what I’m interested in. =)

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May 16, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I’m also on LinkedIn and 43people. Let’s connect, share, inspire… =)

Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫は台所にいます。 Our cat is in the kitchen.

Mesh magic: Volunteering

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Volunteering was absolutely the best thing I could’ve done. Here’s most of the story:

I had ignored my Web 2.0 blog feeds for so long that by the time I finally heard about mesh (and I think even that was through Quinn, who learned about it from Richard, who lives in Vancouver); anyway, by the time I heard about it, all of the student-priced tickets were sold out. Considering that student rate was $25 and full conference price was $350… well…

I sent a message to the first e-mail address I could find – Stuart’s –
essentially volunteering to mop the floor or do other chores in order
to get into mesh. I heard no response. So much for Plan A. S’okay, I
had plenty of backup plans.

Plan B: Convince the company I’m an intern for that it would be
totally in line with their business and it would create value for
them. They were convinced of the merit, but didn’t want to set

Plan C: Try to get sponsor passes. We eventually tracked down the
person in charge of the Mesh sponsorship, but unfortunately she was
all out of passes.

Plan D: Convince my research lab to spring for it. Mark Chignell
agreed, mock-groaning about the weight on his pocket.

Right after I registered, I got e-mail from Mark Evans asking if I
wanted to volunteer. I had a feeling that volunteering was a very good
idea. So I did, and I loved every minute of it. =)

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Mesh magic: At the registration desk

May 16, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I’m a paid registrant at Mesh today, but I’m volunteering at the registration desk because it’s fun greeting people and making them feel welcome. Late registrants trickle in. Most of them are speakers or sponsors, but occasionally we get people I can actually help. =)

Not too many people are here yet. The combination of a riotous
afterparty at The Drake and the dull gray of a rainy morning must’ve
convinced most people to stay in bed. Note to self: if I’m ever going
to give a keynote address (hah!), I should make sure it’s not on the
second day, or at least make sure it’s the second keynote of the
day… <laugh>

I really, really want to attend the keynote conversation on venture
capital and Web 2.0. I’m interested in how venture capital can help
tiny little Web 2.0 companies, and—also important—what we can do
without venture capital. This is important to me because the
Philippines doesn’t have a strong venture capital base yet, so any
ideas on how to bootstrap cool Web 2.0 companies would be totally

So I’m going to go find someone to cover for me… =) Whee!

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Random Japanese sentence: 雨が土砂降りに振りはじめた。 It began to rain cats and dogs.

Mesh magic: The Future of Marketing

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Stuart MacDonald talks with Steve Rubel of Edelman and I slipped into the session just in time to hear a
few of the questions. Here’s what I’ve heard:

Q: I have an issue with your take on character blogs. Sorry, but you’re portraying character blogs as a negative thing, but you’re endorsing feeding branded messaging to bloggers to put out in the world. How is that different?

It’s very different. In the Walmart example, here is a resource for you, you can do whatever you want with it. A character blog is a controlled message. It puts up a big shield between you and your audience. It says to me as the consumer that people don’t want to talk to me as humans. I think character blogs – I’m sorry – they shield people from their audience.

Q: b5media. I hear where you’re coming from, I really do. I think Tris’ point is valid. You’re creating entertainment, value for the users. I don’t think that you need to say that the character is a human person. The character is the character. I think that if Darth Vader blogged, everyone would read it. (Applause.)

Let’s just try it, let’s see how it works. Traditional PR is in the same situation: how to demonstrate in a marketing revenue way the validity and value of PR. What I think is going to be really interesting is to see lots of people try lots of things and starting to get data. Don’t be afraid to fail. This feels like 1996, generally speaking, with regards to online as this shiny thing in the sky. We’re so earlydays into this that I don’t think anybody has the answers. Put yourself three years down the track and looking back…

I think it’s heading toward a shift. I think social networks is huge. I think that dealing with sites like YouTube… There are going to be sites like YouTube that are going to come up and be huge and then fade away, like Friendster. I think there’ll be an overall shift or a new budget for creating (?..).

What’s the message to agencies?

Step 1. Know where your people hang out. Know where your customers are hanging out. Where on Myspace that is, what blogs they’re reading.

Step 2. Develop the infrastructure to develop a conversation. Figure out how to listen to that conversation. Everyone’s gotta do that.

Step 3. Engage the audience in dialogue. Walmart example. We’re engaging in dialogue with the audience.

Step 4. Empower the audience. What do they want to achieve, and how can we help them do it?

Q: I think that the uestions about character blogs show something important. They’re entertaining, but they don’t engage.

I’ll probably get myself in more trouble if I talk about character blogs. Maybe I can jump in. I think that what’s happening with this sort of thing – I talk, you listen, but call it a blog? … Make a podcast instead. I think “I talk, you listen” still happens, but the more real “I talk, you talk” is, the better.

Q: Blogging – truth in advertising?

Blogging is going to force companies to be more open and honest. The bloggers are the best fact-checking machine in the universe. It’s very easy to smell something a mile away now. If it’s high interest, they’ll know.

Three years from now, is it going to be possible for a consumer-facing marketing organization to control the blogs?

I don’t think it’s ever possible.

Q: Posting various opinions on discussion forums. Gathered huge following all over the world, started charging… Public companies came to me and started asking if I could write about them. My response was that I will if I write whatever I want to write about. They don’t have any control over the message. What was great was that when the mass audience started following me, they knew I was being paid and I was still being as objective as possible. Didn’t skip a beat. I see blogs in the same way.

I think corporations have moved into the neighborhood, and that people are comfortable as long as it moves the community forward.

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Mesh magic: Venture capital and Web 2.0

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Mathew Ingram talks with venture capitalist and blogger Dr. Paul Kedrosky.

Cute snippet from the intro:

has an approach to blogging that I consider almost pathological. He
said once that he wasn’t going to blog because he was so busy, and
then within the next hour he posted 14 items.

Is this another bubble? There’s a lot of talk about Web 2.0, there are
a lot of ideas going around, there are ideas that might not be good
business, etc.

This morning I got a press release – and this is one of the perils of
perpetual blogging, you get fifty press releases a minute – what was
kind of interesting is that these guys sent me a release because
they’d just got venture fund (overlay for Internet Explorer). This
brings us full-circle to 1995, when we funded two browsers.
Nexton(?)’s a great platform, but it’s a front end. uestion about the
bubble: it feels like one. It feels like we’re reenacting things. But
then, so what? I think there is, I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm,
but I also feel that it takes a lot of dead bodies to fill the swamp.
We have to do this stuff. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we get
aces the first time. Make the same mistakes faster. ;) Part of my
answer is yes, but so what? There’s way too much enthusiasm. I see the
same plan four or five times a day, which is crazy. There ware all
these crosspollination things. There’s the Flickr of video – but it’s
getting worse, really, now there’s the YouTube of something else.

There are some great studies out there that go all the way back to the
Dutch tulip bubble. It was a fairly rational response among
policymakers who were responding to the tulip market. Options-based
market. The outcome was nasty, but the process by which it got there
wasn’t nearly as euphoric.

One of the things that might be fueling the tiny bubbles is that there
seems to be a lot of money and people wandering out with bags of money
and they have to make investments because otherwise their money isn’t
accomplishing anything. “Here’s some money, I don’t care what your idea is or what.”

Assets under management. There’s as much money out there as there was
at the bubble time, but it’s just much more concentrated among the top
VC firms. It’s concentrated in what people deem to be the best firms.
Problem is that in the VC world, there’s an idea that the best is
always the best. VC rigged – they fish a very well-stocked pond. It’s
a lot easier to look smart when you’re working in an area where even
bad decisions look good. The problem with everyone else in the VC
market is that they’re fighting for the scraps. I was talking to a
manager of a SV fund last week. He had made a few calls among their
limited partners on a Tuesday morning. Trying to put together 280
million. By the next morning, including faxes, three billion dollars
committed. Concentration of capital, etc. Flooding into what’s
euphemistically called as alternative assets – private equity. Cash is
falling into their hands. Lot of people with a lot of captial trying
to find homes for it, and Web 2.0 and other companies…

If you can finance Web 2.0 companies on your credit card and you can
use online services for all of your work, do you need giant sums of
money that these VCs are handing out? In some cases, companies have
decided not to go for VCs. Is that a problem?

If you don’t need VC, don’t go for it. Do something else much more
notorious. That will give you more notoriety than taking money. If you
can build a company that doesn’t require capital and you keep all the
stock, then go ahead and grow it. The trouble is that there are
legitimately many businesses where that is not the case, and there are
businesses that people think can grow without VC but they actually
can’t, and by the time they need it, they’re in horrible horrible
problems. A lot of the consumer-centric Web 2.0 companies, you can do
them very cheaply.

I talked about getting your head up in the tagcloud. The idea of this
democratization is that all these services that used to cost money are
asymptotically approaching zero. As soon as there’s an interesting opportunity, there are 30 people in it. There’s no barrier to entry any more. Pecked to death by ducks out there. It’s great that the cost to enter has gone so low that you can do it without venture money, so every monkey with a credit card is in the market.

Q: Given that it’s so easy to start a company these days, it’s amazing how these companies manage to raise all this capital without having a real business plan.

Most people believe they can flip it. YouTube is interesting. IP issues are there, of course. It looks to me like a very early mockup of what a television might be. There’s more there to see than you see up front, and you need to figure out how people can pay for it, but yeah.

Can you do what they’re doing, or say, like rocketboom, and then figure out the business model later?

I hate to use the G word, but there: Google. This was a search company with a great technology. The VCs had no idea what the business model was. They “borrowed” their business model. They had no idea when they started that they would turn into a rapidly growing company. Precedent well set. If you do something on a large enough scale, you might stumble your way into a business model. You had better have scale and a business that can run economically.

The problems Google has now is that (you’ve noticed the stock price is down, right?) they’re starting to look like Amazon. Rate of capital expenditure related to growth. Maybe this problem of growing companies isn’t as easy as they thought.

Q: Progression. Thinking 12 months again, what the shifts are going to be, Web 2.0 for the enterprise, do you see that kind of history repeating itself?

Absolutely. I use my inbox as a temperature indicator of what’s going on out there, the stuff that shows up in unsolicited tags. Split between consumer-centric 99%-1% business, and now 60%-40%. The pendulum’s already swinging, and the three most interesting companies I’ve seen in the last six months are all on the business side. They’ve got subscriber models, they’re selling to people in business, and they incorporate intelligence.

… Most people use Microsoft Excel as a really crappy database. Let’s just make shareable databases easy to use and stop them from bastardizing their Microsoft Excel.

Q: Examples of companies in this space that are profitable, that are making money? Good example: Google, how they monetized search.

I’ll give you another Canadian example of a community-centric company that’s insanely profitable. It’s a really funky idea. We’ll build a very utilitarian website so that people can discover each other and undercut the dating market. It’s a very grassroots approach to breaking into a community market that’s gotten stuck on the subscription model, introducing Adsense.

The idea of building communities. There are companies that are discovering that to keep costs down, if you can find communities of similar people, you can actually sell better keywords.

Q about VC in Canada. I’ve been talking to a bunch of entrepreneurs in Toronto. Hard to get attention from financing. What’s your opinion on that?

Everyone thinks they have a seed capital gap. In the Valley, there’s a
perception that there’s a lack of seed capital. I think that in
Canada, there just aren’t enough individuals who will go out and fill
that gap. Economics of seed investing isn’t very good. You can’t get a
return. Very hard under the current structure… Some people will
selectively do seed investing, but they’re not structurally supported
in doing this. Seed captial as marketing sometimes works, too.

Q: While you can build a Web 2.0 company on credit cards, it’s harder
to build 5-year businesses. Is that where VCs can bring in a lot of value?

Most VCs in Canada and the US would like to find exactly those kinds
of company and do the traditional kind of investment, putting money in
over time. Recent experience is that businesses go to mezzanine
financing. Where do I jump in? Too early – broken business model. Late
– competing against big mezzanine private equity funds.

Q: Browser was a feature, not a product. When I hear you talking about (?) getting funding, and that’s just an overlay on Internet Explorer… How many of these businesses are features, not products?

Plausible deniability. Nonsense like that is getting acquired. Some of the larger companies are passing off featres as products, and the line is getting really blurry.

Q: Often talked about: Skype. What’s your business model? Cast a big net out there and hope you get people. Small risk, calculated one. Are there enough technology people, you normally see us business types…

eBay acquisition of Skype. Game-changer. That’s huge. You can see all
the heads swinging toward VOIP. It absolutely focuses peoples.

The death of the IPO. It’s a sad event, it’s very traumatic, but it’s
caused a lot of change. What they’ve had to do is run an acquisition
game for exits. As soon as they’ve seen a big acquisition that’s on
par with what they’ve gotten from IPOs, etc…

We’re now back at the level of online advertising that we were in 2001.

Q: Disproportionately small number of business and consumer companies
in Canada.

That’s an interesting question. Putting it in VC terms… Getting that
pace of deal flow is so different from what it’s like in the US. US,
exploding with flow, numbers game. While it’s up, it’s still much lower on a per capita

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がバスの真正面に走ってきてひかれた。 The cat ran right in front of the bus and was run over.

Mesh magic: Tara Hunt fangirling

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

I am a fangirl of Tara Hunt. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫の舌はざらざらしている。 The tongue of a cat feels rough.

Mesh magic: Fifteen minutes of fame

May 16, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Today’s fifteen minutes of fame focused on some totally awesome social
Web 2.0 orgs and people. There was Favorville, an experiment in
goodwill. There was Gary King, a high school student who totally
understands the power of passion (hey, he got mesh to sell him a
student ticket after they’d all sold out!). There was
Taking IT Global, which is terrific for engaging youth in social

They rock.

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Random Japanese sentence: このワイン、すごくおいしい。 This wine is good enough to make a cat laugh.

Mesh magic: Tara Hunt

May 16, 2006 - Categories: marketing, web2.0

I have big dreams. I have these thoughts I thought I was alone in. Then I found the blogosphere. I found people around the world with these thoughts. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It’s not about a list of ideals or definitions, it’s about intent. Eight months ago, I was really fortunate to be drafted through my blog to join the mecca that is Silicon Valley. I want to get a good sense because what I’m realizing eight months later is that everything has changed. I left thinking there wasn’t a tech community in Toronto, that what I was thinking was crazy. We led into mesh with BarCamp. Stuff around the world. Toronto has a really amazing tech community here. I want to see and gauge, first, where everyone is at.

I like to think that everyone blogs for multiple reasons. I like to think that I’m creating my own personal history. Others to cennect with others. Others to rant, others to report on what’s going on in the industry, sort of thing. Photos online.

What’s happening is that this sort of media is what is buzzing the consumer the revolution.

(Again, few words, lots of pictures! =D Keynote speakers rock. They’re getting it)

“Consumers.” I really hate that word. We’re people, we’re a community…

Anti-consumerist revolution changed here. Good alternatives growing out of the

Threadless. T-shirt design. Oooh.


You can’t create viral. It’s not about creating connections.

  • Inbound messages! Totally!
  • 100% authenticity! Totally!
  • Niche markets! Totally!
  • Open source principles! Totally!

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は猫を部屋に入れた。 I let cat in to my room.


May 17, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

mesh was the best conference that I’ve ever been to. I got so much
value out of it! I would have happily paid for it from my
starving-grad-student budget(*) had my research supervisor not caved
in and handed me his credit card.

What did I learn from mesh? I loved the keynotes by Dr. Michael Geist
and Tara Hunt for both content and presentation style. I enjoyed
Phillip Smith’s whirlwind discussion of grassroots movements and the
Web 2.0. I was fascinated by the not-quite-successful social
experiment of a projected backchannel chat in Michael O’Connor
Clarke’s session on engaging the blogosphere.

But all of those things paled in comparison to corridor chats and
afterparties. Those were totally, totally cool, and I’ll tell their
story after I wake up.

Here are, I think, a few of the reasons why this conference was a spectacular experience for me:

  • Barcamp and other tech gatherings meant that I already knew a few
    people there, which made it much easier to meet others.
  • Volunteering at the registration desk meant that I could say hi to
    all the people I knew and make an impression (positive, I hope!) to
    the organizaton.
  • Smiling certainly helped.
  • Oh, and of course writing down notes in my little black Moleskne
    notebook. =) That way, I can remember a little bit.

Mentors? Everywhere I turned, I found someone who was not only doing
exactly what I want to do but was also happy to help me learn more
about it.

I’ll blog more some other time, as my eyes are closing of their own
will. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow…

(*) Well, not so starving thanks to the fellowship…

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Random Japanese sentence: 犬は猫を追いかけようと木に登ろうとしたが、うまくいかなかった。 The dog’s attempts to climb the tree after the cat came to nothing.

Can I Crash

May 17, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

From a conversation with Chris Messina, Tara Hunt and Andrew Hessel came this mention of Can I Crash ( Check it out and lend your sofa space to a blogger!

See someone’s blog post about Can I Crash?, too.

Tagging places, and the power of stories

May 17, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

When I looked at tag-based applications that didn’t work, I thought geotagging sites like Platial missed the tagging boat. What was the use of tagging Toronto as Canada, for example? But then Chris Messina showed me how he uses Wayfaring, Flickr, and videoblogging to coordinate the search for a good space for coworking. He and a bunch of friends keep track of possible places. They take pictures of addresses and places, and they also take videos for reconnaissance.

Good stuff! That totally makes sense now. I needed his story to figure out how the pieces fit together.

Random Japanese sentence: ウサギの耳は猫の耳よりも長い。 The ears of a rabbit are longer than those of a cat.

On Technorati: , ,

Agile methods for building communities

May 17, 2006 - Categories: geek

Chris Messina totally rocks. He’s into building communities through agile methods such as:

  • barcamp, ad-hoc gathering where people can share whatever they’re passionate about
  • mashpit, day-long hackathons
  • coworking, or creating places where geeks can work and hang out

Good stuff!

Genetic engineering and individuality

May 17, 2006 - Categories: geek

Andrew Hessel, Tara Hunt, Chris Messina and I were chatting about biotechnology and open source. Andrew mentioned DNA vaccines, which can stimulate the production of antibodies – so some cells do pick up new genetic material and do something with them, and scientists haven’t quite figured out how that works yet. He went on to say that if biotech really took off, we probably wouldn’t see the creation of a homogenous master race, but rather an explosion of biodiversity. Imagine all the people who want to have horns or blue skin or whatever else… =)

I thought that was an interesting idea. <grin> Along the lines of self-modification: I probably wouldn’t hack anything externally, but a better memory would be really cool.

Random Japanese sentence: 大まかに言って、犬は猫より忠実だ。 Broadly speaking, dogs are more faithful than cats.

The world is changing

May 17, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Another thought from that conversation: Andrew pointed out that we’re
now less afraid of tangible threats such as lions charging us and more
afraid of intangible threats such as bacteria and viruses. I work less
with physical things than I do with virtual ideas. At the same time,
though, I feel strongly about bringing relationships from virtual to
real-world, and I like making intangible things tangible… =)

Random Japanese sentence: 私たちの子供は犬が好きだが私は猫の方が好きだ。 Our children like dogs, but I prefer cats.


May 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I gave away a Moleskine today to Gabriel Mansour, one of the students
I’d met at Mesh. He’s been enthusiastically going to networking events
and taking down notes, and I saw him struggling with the little paper
tickler he had. The university bookstore didn’t have plain hard-bound
journals in stock, so I bought three packs of thin plain journals
instead. They still have inner pockets, which are tremendously useful
for keeping things like business cards in place. I gave one of the
journals to him, and I’m sure he’ll put it to good use.

It’s a little bit odd to be taking notes during a conversation, yes,
but I’ll take remembering over forgetting any day.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: メアリーは読書をしており、1匹の猫がかたわらで眠っていた。 Mary was reading, with a cat sleeping beside her.


May 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Squishing through the thunderstorm in my soaked red sneakers, hearing
droplets drum the samba on my umbrella, feeling the humid air embrace
my skin – how I felt like I was home!

I normally don’t like rain, but today felt amazing.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 突然、猫の鋭い叫び声が私たちに聞こえた。 All of a sudden, we heard the sharp cry of a cat.

Barcamp explained

May 18, 2006 - Categories: barcamp

Joey de Villa has an excellent blog post explaining BarCamp. Check it out.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きです。なぜなら、前者の方が後者より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter.


May 18, 2006 - Categories: life


I’ll hack my T-shirts but not my hair or skin – no bleaching or dyeing or tattooing or whatever.

Random Japanese sentence: じゃあ、ネコの世話は誰がするの。 Who will take care of your cat then?

Traditional clothes

May 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I like wearing outfits inspired by traditional Filipino costumes. I
love wearing my malongs, for example.

I want more Filipina flair! =)

On Technorati: , ,

Random Japanese sentence: 彼はとても満足そうに見える。 He looks like a cat that ate the canary.

Web alerts, pubsub, and other cool tools

May 18, 2006 - Categories: geek

One of the coolest things about blogs is that they can get indexed almost immediately after they’re posted.
Services such as PubSub and Technorati
make it easy for people and companies to find blog posts that mention something.

This means that I can, say, mention Platial and get this comment from someone who works at Platial:

Thought I’d share a couple of other uses for social mapping/place annotation.

On Platial, primarily people are using tags as a way to find functional places like or based on interest like

But they’re also saving Places and making maps based on common interests like machinima or birding

It’s still very early but the idea of allowing maps to be personal is showing us new ways to use Platial every day. It’s a familiar metaphor that excites people. We get people plotting where they were married, broke up and had their first kiss. It’s pretty incredible to see all of this rich annotation around the world! Thanks Sacha.

As numerous speakers pointed out during mesh: the conversation is happening out there in the blogosphere. The only question is: do you want to join it? Are you keeping track of what people are saying about you, and are you responding?

Who’s been particularly keen at that? The Blinklist guys always turn up whenever I mention it. I got some Google love when I blogged about their recruiting talk at U of T (probably name-based searches). Heck, I read every single blog post in the IBM internal blogosphere, and I keep track of all the posts related to social bookmarking there. Fun stuff.

Can _you_ hear the people out there?

Random Japanese sentence: 彼は猫を飼っている。 He keep two cat.

Woohoo! Free Skype to US and Canada!

May 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

As part of a research study for Bell Canada, I get free VOIP calls to US and Canada. However, that involves booting up a Windows machine, and that’s rather inconvenient at times. Well, Skype just beat that offer.

If you’re in the US or Canada, you can use SkypeOut to call any landline or mobile number in both the USA and Canada for free.

I’ll check that out this weekend. =)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: ピエロを見て少年は物が言えなくなってしまった。 When the little boy saw the clown, the cat got his tongue.

Why I don’t have to make my website pretty

May 18, 2006 - Categories: blogging

Feedburner statistics show that out of 225 blog readers in the past 24 hours, only 12 of them actually visit this site in a browser. 9 Mozilla, 3 Internet Explorer. Everyone else uses an aggregator. <laugh> What a skewed profile!

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: A spot of shut−eye は、また猫のいねむりともいわれている。猫は1度に2〜3分しか寝ない癖があるからだ。 “A spot of shut-eye” is also called a cat nap because a cat is in the habit of sleeping only a few minutes at a time.

Research paper cramming

May 18, 2006 - Categories: research

My research supervisor has just strongly hinted that it would be a
good idea to get some kind of draft in by 2:30 PM. Now is a good time
to wake up and practically inhale papers…

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 「はい、でも私は、ただのみっともないねこでございます」と、こねこは言いました。「だから、あなたが、どのねこが一番きれいかと、お聞きになったとき、私は何も言えませんでした。」 Oh, I’m just a very homely little cat, said the kitten, so when you asked who was the prettiest, I didn’t say anything.

Working at the lab versus working at home

May 18, 2006 - Categories: research

It’s drizzling and gray outside, which makes staying here and working
on my paper more attractive than trekking over to the lab. I’ll go
there after lunch so that I can call into IBM for the workshop
planning meeting.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: あなたのサイトは、猫に興味のある人達にとって魅力的です。 Your site appeals to people who are interested in cats.

Must not panic

May 18, 2006 - Categories: life

I have a few hours to read tons of papers on innovation diffusion,
social network analysis, and other fun stuff. Ack. Must not panic.
I can do this.

Looping over Jed’s cover of Code Monkey. It’s upbeat, and I like it
more than the original because I know Jed. <laugh>

Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table.

I am so dead

May 18, 2006 - Categories: research, sad

My mind’s just blanking out. There’s no way I’m going to finish a
credible draft of this paper within the next 20 minutes. I’ve been
thinking about it all day, but… this just isn’t what I had done my
initial reading for, and the lack of background is really biting me.

My technology diffusion visualizations were born out of an afternoon
of play, a direction I took during a random walk. For some reason,
Mark liked it. Now I find myself scrambling madly to learn about
innovation diffusion theory. (Hooray, Everett Rogers!)

My reading notes are all about bookmarking and its personal and social
benefits. Maybe I can still work that in somewhere, but bookmarking
isn’t the main focus of the paper, and I need to fill in a lot more
back story.

Should I have skipped all the afterparties and focused on this? My
sense is that in the long run, that networking will be of much use.
(Although perhaps I could’ve skipped mush…) Now if only it didn’t
take me so long to get back on track.

If Mark was looking over my shoulder, he’d probably tell me to stop
blogging and concentrate on writing my paper instead. Unless I manage
to unblock my mind, though, it’s going to be pretty hard for me to
make sense of the papers and write a coherent submission.

My problem is that I’ve been giving him all of these half-papers:
teams, personal benefits for social bookmarking, etc. – but we keep
changing my topic after I pass them. I’m sure all of these paper
fragments lying around the place will be useful someday, but it’s
incredibly frustrating having to keep branching out.

I feel like such a research failure…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: その猫は好かれている。 The cat is liked.

Bestest research lab evar

May 18, 2006 - Categories: research

My research supervisor and my labmates are totally awesome. They
listened to me freak out about impending doom and told me that I can
figure things out somehow. =)

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 弟は猫を花子と名づけました。 My brother named his cat “Hanako”.

Finding geeks

May 18, 2006 - Categories: geek, philippines, ruby

I don’t know why people complain about not being able to find talent.
;) I run across so many interesting people while watching mailing
lists or hanging out with other geeks. For example, if you’re looking
for Ruby geeks in the Philippines, Botp Peña sounds really interesting.
Hey, anyone who advocates Rails and volunteers training has to be cool. ;)

if you’re interested to learn ruby, i can provide training session for free. just provide the place and at least 10 people to join. dili nako kaya tudlo isa-isa. ma-luoy mo. dapat naa whiteboard (kung wala projector), mga desk/silya, printer para sa handouts/exercises, and notebooks or desktops na ma-gamit ninyo ug nako (wala koy notebook, sorry). Also, dapat naa mo programming background (any language will do. di nako gusto lurat inyo mata. dapat naka-smile pirmi). i prefer to hold trainings monthly/semi-monthly lang kay para dili kaayo ko hago. one training session will cover the whole day (puwede sab ma-hangyo half-day)

  • Peña, Botp (botp AT

E-Mail from Peña

On Technorati: , ,

Random Japanese sentence: 私はあの店で猫を買った。 I bought a cat at that shop.

Video sharing

May 18, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Now I need to figure out how to get all this data off my system. I should share my videos at least so that my mom can look at them,
but youtube caps at 10 minutes and 100 MB. I suppose I should just look into downsampling my Toastmasters speeches…

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: これは私が今までに見た中で一番大きいねこです。 This is the biggest cat that I’ve ever seen.

Branle Pinagay; also, testing video

May 19, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Trying out YouTube for sharing videos. Here’s a video of our Branle Pinagay…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 犬はその特性が猫とは異なる。 A dog is distinct from a cat in physical characteristics.

Renaissance dance pic

May 19, 2006 - Categories: friends

Renaissance dance

One of my odd diversions.

Random Japanese sentence: ジャックはこわきに子猫をかかえている。 Jack has a cat under his arm.

Oh no…

May 19, 2006 - Categories: sad

I can’t find my fountain pen – the burgundy one my father gave me for
Christmas, when he took me shopping the day before I flew back to
Canada. I last wrote with it in the lab. My research notebook is here,
but no pen… Could I have dropped it on the way to the library? But I
wasn’t carrying anything except for my ID card and my notebook; I
didn’t need to take notes. I’ve turned my pockets inside out, searched
the pockets of my bag, checked every nook and cranny… I remember
noticing that it wasn’t with me when I returned to Graduate House, but
because I didn’t have my research notebook then, I thought I might’ve
left it tucked inside. Waah!

And yes, I know, my fountain pen is one of my guilty pleasures – what
luxury when everyone gets by on ballpens and pencils! – but it has an
old-school charm about it, and I loved using it…

I’ll turn my room upside down later, after my paper. If not, I wonder
where I’ll be able to find a nice, slim, piston converter pen,
preferably a broad-nibbed pen with a burgundy case and some heft…


(And yes, Mark, I’ll get back to work on my paper as soon as I get this thing out of my head…)

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: その子は猫をボール箱の中へ閉じ込めた。 The child shut up a cat in the carton.


May 20, 2006 - Categories: life

schadenfreude: pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune

It’s always nice to know that I have friends who read my blog and LAUGH AT MY PROBLEMS! ;)

(23:05:34) happy_eclair: you talk to Mark on your blog
(23:05:36) happy_eclair: how amusing!
(23:05:37) happy_eclair: hahahaha
(23:05:46) sachachua83: <laugh>
(23:05:50) sachachua83: He reads it once in a while...
(23:05:59) happy_eclair: :))
(23:06:09) happy_eclair: yeah, the panicking on your blog
(23:06:13) happy_eclair: when you ought to be writing
(23:06:22) happy_eclair: that is really funny <laughs>


Research is proceeding slowly but surely. Having found it nearly
impossible to write in a scholarly manner without, err, actually
having read scholarly sources first, I’m chewing through papers I find
on the net. I’m _so_ glad the internet exists, too. Imagine what all
those other researchers had to go through, tracking down paper
sources?! Gasp, gasp. Anyway, I’m reading, and I don’t feel quite so
bad about my progress now.

My pen is still missing, though. =( My mom said that should help me
learn to take better care of things. Yes, I gave myself _that_
lecture already. She also reminded me not to get too stressed out
about the pen. Hey, that’s why I write: I can get the stress out of
my head.

And to all of you laughing out there: I know it’s because you can just
see me doing the Japanese-anime-full-panic mode… ^_^;

Random Japanese sentence: この犬はこの猫よりも私たちになつく。 This dog is more attached to us than this cat.


May 21, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I joined Samba Elegua for the Walk for
Hunger fundraiser at Coronation Park. It was a lot of fun picking up
the beat from other people. The kids were absolutely adorable,
inventing all sorts of dance sequences on the fly.

We had a picnic lunch afterwards, and then we jammed for a while. It’s
interesting hanging out with people who just can’t help drumming
rhythms on whatever’s handy – sticks, cups, roofs, posts. My
background isn’t musical, but I like mimicking and amplifying other
people. I’m learning slowly. =)

Now it’s back to my research…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 村人たちは皆、行方不明になった猫を探すために山の中へでかけた。 All the villagers went out into the hills to look for a missing cat.

Pinoy Web 2.0

May 21, 2006 - Categories: philippines, web2.0

Check out for Web 2.0 geeks in the Philippines. =) Luis Buenaventura is teh cool.

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 秘密をばくろするのは、心理的に最も効果のある時である。 It is the psychological moment to let the cat out of the bag.

Up early

May 22, 2006 - Categories: research

I’m up at 6 on the last day of a long weekend, _and_ I’m reading
research papers. =) I hope Mark’s happy. You know, this waking up
early thing is actually kinda fun…

On Technorati:

Stranger of the Day: Greg

May 22, 2006 - Categories: life

On my way out of the common room to grab some lunch, I saw a very
interesting collection of postcards on the table near the door. I
didn’t recognize the man who owned the cards, but I complimented him
on his postcards and pointed out the Moleskine notebooks we had in
common. (That’s probably the secret handshake of people addicted to
nice writing stuff.)

When I returned to the common room to study, I couldn’t resist asking
for permission to flip through the cards. I introduced myself as well,
of course. So here’s our stranger of the day: Greg.

Greg’s been in Graduate House for a month. He’s not actually from U of
T, but he teaches New Media at Humber. He has this awesome little
scrapbook of his stuff. He’s cool. He came to coffee night two weeks
ago, so I’m just going to have to look for him at the next one. Seems
like a good person to mix into parties… =)

The cards were awesome. I laughed at so many of them. They’re clever!
I’m definitely picking up a set. I normally stay away from cards with
messages on them, preferring monogrammed gold-trimmed Crane cards for
special occasions, paper from the Japanese Paper Place for casual
cards, and cute Korean stationery for letters. But a hundred postcards
with clever illustrations! Nifty.

I am _so_ buying a set on Wednesday, along with a nice fountain pen with a broad nib…

(And yes, I was _quite_ impressed to find a guy who understands the
importance of having a proper stationery collection. Or of snail-mail
writing, even.)

Argh. Now I wonder if he’s the Greg who went to Mesh and has mentioned
a course at Humber… If so, I want to talk to him about Web 2.0 and
social computing!

Random Japanese sentence: 私はこの猫の世話をしなければならない。 I have to look after this cat.


May 22, 2006 - Categories: toronto, web2.0

It’s a good thing that I’ve been cramming my paper all day, or I would’ve felt seriously upset about missing web 2.0 for good, an unconference on social software for social change. Mumble! Actually, no, I still feel annoyed because it hadn’t been on my radar at all. That’s what I get for not watching as often as I should. Blast blast blast blast blast. Next time…

On Technorati: ,

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は生きたネズミをもて遊んでいた。 The cat was playing with a live mouse.

Fireworks and hot chocolate

May 23, 2006 - Categories: life

Jed told me about fireworks out at Ashbridge’s Bay. They were
delightful. Yes, nothing like the grand spectacle of the World Pyro
Olympics held in Manila shortly before I left for Canada, but standing
on a beach and surrounded by all these flares and sparklers was a new
experience. Besides, anything involving pretty explosions is always

We brought picnic stuff along – a mat, an umbrella, even some snacks –
but were too entranced by the flashy stuff to remember to sit, much
less eat anything.

Wonderful conversation afterwards over hot chocolate at a Portuguese
cafe near Dufferin. =) I really enjoyed that, and I look forward to
our next conversation. (We forgot about the oranges then, too. And
they were mandarins, too! My favorite…)

Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table.

Tango thoughts

May 23, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I was surprised to run into Victor Hugo, Carlos, and Israel – all from
Tango Passion. I felt guilty about skipping tango! Once you stop,
well, it’s hard to get back on, and the last tango session I had
didn’t go so well. I enjoy dancing with people who, well, dance me,
who care more about the conversation of rhythm and motion than about
dancing a dance or showing their technique. As much as I appreciate
people trying to teach me cool stuff on the dance floor – and there
are some people who can do that well, adding one or two new tricks as
part of our dance – I remember being rather frustrated by people who’d
keep pushing me to do this one thing, or they’d try all sorts of
advanced stuff and be frustrated when I don’t quite follow.

Oh, and being told that I’m too intense, that I smile too much – I
suppose that does make sense in tango’s traditional poses, but I like
focusing on people, not floors. I dance with my eyes, too. It’s not
that I’m getting my cues from them, but I like having the occasional
connection. I can dance with my eyes closed, and I love that feeling
of trust as well. Still… =b

It’s a pity, as I really did enjoy the contact. Socially sanctioned,
wouldn’t be misinterpreted, safe… <laugh> It wasn’t just that,
either. It was really just being able to follow, to listen, to be the
instrument that another person dances through…

Maybe I should try dancing again. After all, I still have my shoes…

On Technorati:

Said Thomas:

A good dance is like playing a good song, once you get into the groove
your mind comes into the present and you just become the dance or

Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫って甘えん坊で、どこでも私のあと着いて来るのよね。 My cat is such a baby, she follows me around wherever I go.

Too hot, too cold, just right

May 23, 2006 - Categories: research

I sent Mark a draft of my paper, summarizing a number of research
papers on innovation diffusion and technology diffusion and reading
them in the context of blogging and social bookmarking. He sent me
back a polite but firm reminder that this is for a conference and I
don’t have to burden my paper with too much of a review of related
literature. I should focus on my results. I was so worried about that
because the paper was originally supposed to have been my reading
course paper, and the objective for _that_ would have been to
demonstrate that I’d actually read the stuff I’m supposed to have
read. Mark says I should focus on discussing the results, though. I’m
not sure how interesting the results are, but maybe it’ll be clearer
after a 20-minute nap…

Well, third version’s the charm, and I’m lucky to have a supervisor
who makes tons of helpful comments.

Okay, I need to head over to IBM tomorrow and get more data.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 私が出掛けている間、猫の面倒をみてください。 Please look after my cats while I’m away.

Basic Technical Japanese

May 23, 2006 - Categories: japanese

JC Helary reminded me that I’d bought a book called “Basic Technical
Japanese”, which is now sitting uselessly in a box or bookshelf
somewhere in the Philippines. I remember really, really loving that
book because of its examples. I’m serious! The examples talked about
atoms and nuclear fission, beakers, computers… Totally, totally
geeky, and totally, totally cool.

Did I give it to someone else, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to take
it to Canada during the first trip? Argh. Anyway, if I did, chances
are that I gave it to one of my barkada. Anyone?

I definitely have to get it next time I fly home. It’s a pretty hefty
book, but I’ll make space for it!

On Technorati:

E-Mail from Jean-Christophe Helary

Random Japanese sentence: 問題は誰が猫に鈴をつけるかだ。 The question is who will bell the cat.

Darn, double-booked

May 23, 2006 - Categories: emacs

This is what I get for not religiously putting everything into my
Planner. Elie Wiesel’s talk is right after my Toronto Coranto
performance at Emmanuel College. I’ll probably end up hanging out with
the other renaissance dancers and my friends instead of running over
to the auditorium to catch not even a live performance but an
audio/visual feed from another room. It’s a $15 lesson which I’ll be
sure to remember. Then again, I can think of it as my donation to
social philosophy…

Let me see if I can give this ticket away, as it’s Really Unlikely
that I’ll get to refund it.

Random Japanese sentence: どのねこも、どのねこもひとくちずつ草を食べました。すると野原中の草はすっかりなくなってしまいました。 Each cat ate a mouthful of grass and not a blade was left!


May 24, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie, friends

When Steve called me up on my cellphone at around 8:00 and said only
“Help!”, I panicked and nearly fell off my bed. I slipped into my
kimono and went to the second floor only to find that he had conned me
out of bed in order to surprise me with pancakes for breakfast. How

When I learned that he was actually still okay and in one piece, my
non-morning-ness reasserted itself. He was so cheerful, though, that I
couldn’t help but wake up – and the honey-lemon tea certainly helped
restore my voice. He wanted help cooking the rest of the pancakes so
that they didn’t turn out like crepes, though, so I added more mix to
the batter and poured out neat little silver-dollar pancakes. I’m
getting better at them – I burned only two this time!

Hooray for instant pancake mix. Yes, I know, pancakes are so easy to
make from scratch, yada yada, but the recipe requires a whole egg, and
that’s hard to divide. =)

It was very nice of Steve to surprise me with breakfast. I usually try
to wake him up and cook breakfast. He doesn’t have an alarm clock
right now and he doesn’t wake up to his cellphone, so a human without
a snooze button can be pretty effective. Besides, it’s a good way to
force myself out of bed. <grin>

Ay, friends… what would life be without them?

On Technorati: , ,

Random Japanese sentence: ここの家何匹猫がいる? How many cats are there in this house?

Renaissance dance performance

May 24, 2006 - Categories: friends

Toronto Coranto – the renaissance dance group that I got drafted into
– performed for a class on Love and the Renaissance. It was tons of
fun, particularly the workshop part where we got all these students to
try out the branle pinagay. I wish I’d learned the dance of the
flowers. It looked very pretty, all courtly symmetry and

Calum came downtown just to shoot the event. He left after the show,
and I didn’t get to talk to him much about what’s going on in his
life. Should check on him sometime. He has two camera bodies now, and
he’s gotten completely spoiled by not only the ability to switch from
long to short really quickly but also the external flash. Heh.

Jed dropped by, too, even joining the workshop. He joined us for our
celebration at the pub. I had a burger, some Aussie cheese fries, a
plate(!) of whipped cream (I have no idea what possessed Mike to ask
for that!), and a little bit of a brownie.

We had hot chocolate afterwards (oy, sugar overload!), and we chatted
a bit about development, billiards, drumming… Come to think of it, I
don’t think he managed to finish his tea. I really should just prepare
tea next time. Engineers Without Borders gave me a box of tea for
showing up at lunch the other week, and I really should track down the
wonderful tea David served at the Linux Caffe some time back.

Must learn how to listen for rhythms and to tap them out. It’s not
entirely logical for me to keep telling people that they can get the
hang of computer science and that I’m not a special, unique snowflake,
while excusing myself from not being able to get the hang of audio or
visual stuff. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 鳥たちはその猫を見るとビックリして飛び去った。 The birds flew away in alarm when they saw the cat.


May 24, 2006 - Categories: purpose, social

Thanks to a conversation earlier about web development and careers, I
think I’ve figured out a little more about what I want to do. =)

I want to support people and communities through social tools.

I want to help people make the most of blogs, wikis, podcasts,
vidcasts, social bookmarking, social networking, community content
management systems, whatever. I want to help them figure out how to
use version control systems and request trackers and mailing lists. I
want to make it easier to use phone and e-mail and little stickies on
the fridge…

What should I learn more about? I need to figure out how to set up a
blog farm, a wiki farm, a social bookmarking site, Drupal, etc. Bryght
does hosted community sites with Drupal, so they’d be good mentors and
models. I’m also interested in the social aspects of it. My research
into innovation diffusion and technology adoption _totally_ makes
sense in that context.

Mmkay. That sounds like a plan. I’m going to need some help figuring
out how to make it happen, but that resonates with me.

I don’t mind working on mind-numbing web stuff if I’m working with fun
people. I don’t mind explaining for the nth time what a blog is and
how people can use blogs for fun and profit, because I learn something
new every time I talk about that. And of course there are so many things
that aren’t even on most people’s radars…

Right. That sounds like what I want to do. Now, how do I go about doing it?

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きだが、それは前者が後者より忠実だからだ。 I like a dog better than a cat, for the former is more faithful than the latter.

Web 2.0 and entrepreneurship

May 24, 2006 - Categories: entrepreneurship, philippines, web2.0

From the Kagay-anon Linux Users’ Group mailing list:

sa mga hilig ug web/2
one page lang na guide; gamit kaayo..

sa mga hackers ug novell fans

The first link is a quick guide to typical Web 2.0 interface stuff. is an even shorter list. ;)
(Heh. Also read )

I read KLUG every so often even though I can’t understand Bisaya… =)
It’s fun, and I’ve found a number of interesting people that way. For
example, Botp Peña (who posted these links) conducts free Ruby on
Rails training, and it looks like Botp Peña is also interested in

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E-Mail from Botp Peña

Random Japanese sentence: ボップ・ボップ・キャット・ボップ。 Bop, bop cat bop.

More thoughts about social computing

May 24, 2006 - Categories: web2.0

Come to think of it, the hardest and most interesting part won’t be figuring out how the technology works. That takes time and experimentation, but it’s quite doable. What’s really tough and fun is figuring out how people work, how communities work, and how to support that while changing their behavior…

It’s not about blogs, wikis, etc. It’s about communication and community…

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は捕らえたネズミを引き裂き始めた。 The cat began to tear at the mouse it caught.

Microsoft Word in schools

May 24, 2006 - Categories: communication, learning, opensource, teaching

Didith Rodrigo, the chair of my alma mater’s computer science department, seems to be getting a bit frustrated with people who’ve asked her to consider teaching students something other than Microsoft Word for word processing. She reasons: “I think that teaching tools is need-based. If there is some reason that the tool is more appropriate for the need, then fine. If not, then don’t fix what isn’t broken.”

I’m going to go on a bit of a rant because I feel that it’s important
to expose students to choices that they might not otherwise encounter
on their own. I agree with Didith’s main point at the end – that it’s
not about the tools – but my particular bone here is that university’s
also where students should learn to abstract general principles.

This is how I understand the educational system’s _supposed_ to work:
people who want to learn about specific things go to vocational
schools and workshops, and people who want to learn about abstractions
and things they’d never encounter on their own go to university.

We shouldn’t teach Microsoft Word. We should teach writing (note: not
even word processing). We shouldn’t teach Microsoft Powerpoint. We
should teach presentation. We shouldn’t teach Microsoft Excel. We
should teach data analysis.

The problems these students face go _way_ beyond the tools. You can
inflict death by bullet point in Impress just as
easily as you can in Microsoft Powerpoint. So why not spend valuable
class time talking about the principles of the thing instead of the
tools? (Oh, if I had a dime for every word someone’s read off the

Here’s a quote that captures what I think:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Fill them with the longing to write wonderful articles and make
effective presentations! Inspire them through your examples! Help them
reach out through their words! As long as students write only for
their teachers and their classmates, you’ll see bad prose and hear
people read off slides. Show them examples, point out common mistakes
and show them how they can improve, and put them in front of audiences
that care about what they’re interested in… If you can set them on
fire, they’ll _learn_ about all the nifty tricks hidden in whatever
software they use – and it will be about the result, not the tool!

Note to self: I need to learn how to write really, really well. I also
need to learn how to present really, really well. Then I need to
figure out how to teach this while inspiring by example. I _so_ want
to run a class on “Communication for Geeks”, or something like that. ;)

But wait! Wasn’t this supposed to be a rant about open source in education
and how students should be exposed to open source alternatives?

I’ve written a fair bit about this in the past, but let’s look at the
Atenean case more closely. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that
there _aren’t_ financial reasons to choose open source. The stereotype
of the Atenean student is a middle-class or rich student who can well
afford to buy legitimate versions of Microsoft Office. Truth is, quite
a few people are on scholarships. Besides, most people quite happily
pirate software or use whatever their computer dealer “bundled” with
their computer because they just don’t care about software rights or
they don’t think Microsoft deserves even _more_ money.

So let’s ditch the financial and ethical incentives, and talk about
the pedagogical one instead.

I taught for a short while, and even that short a while was enough to
make me feel the pressure to cover everything in the curriculum. If a
teacher’s already having a hard enough time covering all the little
features of one thing or another, how on earth is that teacher going
to find time to explore and discuss alternatives? Won’t that confuse
the students and make them lose confidence?

I feel quite strongly that we should drag people out of their comfort
zones every so often, particularly in university when they can mess up
without losing money. I suspect that one of the best ways to check
whether students can abstract the notion of, say, emphasizing text is
to throw them at an unfamiliar but usable word processor like and see if they can figure out what to do. (Open
source geeks can substitute “Microsoft Word” or “Emacs” as

I _want_ to make students feel a little bit uncomfortable. That
discomfort is what drives learning in the future, where it’s most
important. I don’t want students to stick only to what they know how
to do. They should keep learning!

This belief is probably not going to make me very popular with
students, most of whom would like to get through school with as little
effort as possible – but we need to help them develop critical
thinking and abstraction, and we need to help them figure out how to
figure things out.

I think that to know one thing is to know that one thing, but to know
two things is to know two things, their similarities and differences –
_and_ to know that I can learn more.

It doesn’t even have to be open vs closed source. It could be two
closed source ways of doing things, two open ways of doing things,
whatever. But it has to be sufficiently different to force the
students to think about their abstractions and to expose bugs in their
understandings… =)

Hey, would _you_ test a program with only one test case? ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 「いいえ、ぼくです!、ぼくです!、ぼくです!」
こも自分が一番美しいとおもっていたのです。 No, I am! I am! I am! Cried
hundreds and thousands and millions and billions and trillions of
voices, for each cat thought itself the prettiest. [M]

Blogly angst

May 24, 2006 - Categories: blogging

Hands, a sketch by Dominique Cimafranca

Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we think it should, but then
that could be because it has greater things in store for us than we
could imagine.

Random Japanese sentence: 1匹の猫を別とすれば家は空っぽだった。 The house was empty except for a cat.

Team of Filipino Students Win MIT Entrepreneurship

May 24, 2006 - Categories: business, entrepreneurship, philippines

From: “Santamaria, Samuel” SSantamaria AT

Here’s another victory we can be proud of. Tell your friends about it.
A team of Filipino MIT students headed by Illac Diaz won the Grand Prize for
the US$ 100K MIT Entrepreneurship Competition’s development track for their
business, CentroMigrante, Inc. Read on.

Their project, focused on a business model for social entrepreneurship in the
Philippines, beat out several other amazing ideas. Impoverished people in
developing countries leave their rural hometowns and flock to urban areas to
seek employment but are usually unable to afford decent lodging while
searching and waiting for jobs. In the Philippines, as many as 1 million
Filipinos a year spend up to 3 months away from their home provinces and in
Manila’s port areas looking for jobs as seafarers, most of them living in
shanties under depressed and undignified living conditions. CentroMigrante
Inc. combines developmental architecture with a self-help business model to
offer a sustainable solution that provides clean, safe and affordable urban
housing for such indigent, transient job seekers.

The MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition is designed to encourage students
and researchers in the MIT community to act on their talent, ideas and energy
to produce tomorrow’s leading firms. Now in its 16th year, the Competition
has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup
services to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submitted business
plans for new ventures showing significant business potential. The refinement
process of the Competition, its network of mentors, investors and potential
partners, and the cash prizes awarded have helped many of these teams to act
on their dreams and build their own companies and fortunes.

The MIT Entrepreneurship Competition provides teams who enter with valuable
resources in the following areas crucial to successful entrepreneurship:

  • Networks of world-class entrepreneurs, investors, and potential partners
  • Mentorship by successful and seasoned professionals
  • Content rich feedback on their business model from world class entrepreneurs, investors, and professional service providers on our Judging [panel?]
  • Teambuilding opportunities to create a winning team of founders
  • Broad media exposure and PR buzz

See attached photo or at:

Way cool!

E-Mail from Harvey V. Chua

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Random Japanese sentence: 休暇中、近所の人がうちの猫の世話をしてくれた。 While we were on holiday, a neighbor took care of our cat.

Hooray for people who know how to cook!

May 24, 2006 - Categories: cooking

How to not burn pancakes, from Mom:

use a teflon pan. heat pan. put very very little oil on the pan. pour batter. turn down heat so pancake (first bottomside) will brown evenly. When pancake (topside) starts to bubble, watch and flip pancake as soon as bubbles have burst and batter looks dry. pancake is cooked when it rises (thickens) You can check if the second face is done. If not, you may turn the heat up just a little bit. Remove pancake from pan. Turn up heat again for the next pancake. Use the thickest, flattest pan that you have so your pancakes will brown evenly. Hope this helps. =)

Egg-free pancakes, from Paul Lussier:

Pancakes don’t require any egg at all:

  • 1 cup flour (I prefer whole wheat flour, better flavor, heathier)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Cinnamon/Nutmeg season to taste
  • 1.5-2 cups soy milk
  • Add any variety of fruit: blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, etc.

I love writing about my cooking misadventures because they make my friends laugh and I get plenty of tips, too. =)

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E-Mail from Paul Lussier

Random Japanese sentence: 台所からその猫を追い出してくれ。 Chase the cat from the kitchen.

More thoughts about what I want to do with my life

May 24, 2006 - Categories: purpose, social

Here’s a sketch of what I want to do:

I want to help people connect with people through social software.

That’s a very broad goal. What does it mean?

What do I want to do?

I want to help people make sense of technology. I want to help them
figure out which tools they should try out and how those tools fit
into their ways of working. I want to help them bring the tools into
their culture and adapt the tools to their needs. I want to help
people look at the big picture and see how everything fits together. I
want to help people look at the leaves on the trees and figure out how
to make the most of each piece.

I’m particularly interested in technology that helps people relate
with people. I’m interested in ways for people to discover other
people and other resources, share their insights with others, and
organize things for themselves.

Why is that a good fit for me?

I’m good at keeping track of technology news, which makes it easy for
me to recommend something that fits a situation. I also like
collecting and sharing productivity tips.

I enjoy speaking, writing, teaching, evangelizing, and all these other
ways to help people learn.

Most of all, I love listening and drawing people out. I love learning
people’s vocabularies and telling them stories about other people’s
successes and failures, helping them imagine their own success. I love
stepping into someone’s shoes and figuring out which tools might be
useful. I love coming up with ways for people to slowly make new tools
part of their lives.

What do I need to learn next?

  • I know about the tools. I need to learn about
    organizational behavior, organizational change, information
    technology diffusion, and technology adoption.
  • I know how to spread enthusiasm. I need to also learn how to
    communicate solid business benefits.
  • I know how to set a few things up. I need to become more familiar
    with the different technologies so that I can prototype them
    quickly and show how everything fits together.
  • I know a few people in different areas. I need to develop a rich,
    wide directory of consultants and companies who can implement
    particular solutions.
What’s my next step?

  • Continue with my research at IBM, which is exactly in line with this anyway.
  • Make another speech at Toastmasters, then another and another.
  • Meet other people who are working in the same or similar area. Talk
    to them, ask them for help figuring out this passion of mine, and
    see if I can do anything to help.

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Random Japanese sentence: 秘密を漏らす。 Let the cat out of the bag.

Linux Device Driver Kit

May 26, 2006 - Categories: linux

Always wanted to write a kernel device driver but never got around to it? Now you have no excuse! Check out the Linux Driver Development Kit, which includes:

everything that a Linux device driver author would need in order to create Linux drivers, including a full copy of the O’Reilly book, “Linux Device Drivers, third edition” and pre-built copies of all of the in-kernel docbook documentation for easy browsing. It even has a copy of the Linux source code that you can directly build external kernel modules against.

Totally cool.

E-Mail from Don Marti

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Random Japanese sentence: ネコはネズミを捕まえる。 Cats catch mice.


May 26, 2006 - Categories: cooking

My cooking misadventures always seem to draw the most comments. I guess it’s because people here don’t want me to accidentally poison myself. ;) Cooking is a very geeky thing to do. That said, most geeks are new to the whole shebang also, and it’s nice to know that other people are struggling with the same issues, and some have even figured them out!

So yeah, even if the prevailing wisdom is that people should write topic-focused blogs so that they don’t bother your readers, I’m still going to mix my cooking stories with my research stories and whatnot… =)

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E-Mail from luis buenaventura

Random Japanese sentence: お留守中あなたの猫を世話してあげましょう。 I will look after your cat while you are away.

Philippines 2.0

May 26, 2006 - Categories: entrepreneurship, geek, philippines

Joey de Villa posted a very interesting article on how to be Silicon Valley. Geeks at home: read this and let’s make it happen. We don’t need to be Silicon Valley, but we can still do something really cool.

(Incidentally, Joey’s from Manila, and he now works at Tucows in Toronto.)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がネズミを嗅ぎつけたようですね。 Seems like the cat had the wind of a rat.

Pink and frilly

May 27, 2006 - Categories: clothing

I gave a talk at IBM on a few cool technologies that interns should
know about: blogging, social bookmarking, and the corporate directory.
I dressed up a little for it. I changed as soon as I got home, of
course, trading the pinstripe blazer and skirt for a thoroughly pink
and frilly outfit consisting of a T-shirt, a miniskirt (hello,
Kathy!), pink socks trimmed with lace, and red shoes.

Sometimes you just have to let loose. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は猫を家の外に出した。 I let the cat out of the house.

Collective ingenuity

May 27, 2006 - Categories: idea, work

Let 1,000 Ideas Bloom is a good overview of different web sites that make it easy for people to share their nifty ideas. The article was published on November 27, 2003. What are the Web 2.0 services that have entered the space of idea-sharing since then?

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Random Japanese sentence: その猫は高くのびた草を利用してその鳥の方にしのびよった。 The cat took advantage of the high grass to creep on the bird.

Fountain pen

May 27, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I have a new fountain pen, and all is right with the world. It’s a
Waterman Harmonie with a beautiful red body, some heft, and a fine
tip. It’s a joy to write with.

I shopped at both Laywine’s near Bay Street and Sears in Eaton Centre
before settling on this pen. The sales staff at both stores were
absolutely wonderful, zeroing on the pens that might fit me. They even
joked about trying out the really expensive Mont Blanc pens (“And if
you look over here we have a really comfortable pen for around $725”)
while helping me find a converter-based pen within my price range. The
sales clerk who pointed me to the perfect pen also warned me that pens
can be an addictive habit: “… then you see another pretty one and
you just have to have it, and before you know it, you’re buying a case
to protect and display the pens…”

It’s a lot more expensive than the things I’d usually buy (I bought a
$3 plastic tripod from Active Surplus today! =) ), but there’s just
something about having a good pen…

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Random Japanese sentence: 今すぐ大金をつかみたい亡者がうようよしている。 Greedy cats are out for a fast buck.

My goal in life: sales and marketing?

May 27, 2006 - Categories: purpose

I spent a leisurely afternoon walking around Toronto, wandering into
the buildings featured in Doors Open. I was fascinated by the
historical displays of medals and photographs in the Royal Canadian
Military Institute, the stateliness of Osgoode Hall and the rich
library of the courthouse. Seeing all these places steeped in history
and story helped me think about how I want to change the world. =)

I cooled off in Chapters, reading books on things like T-shirt
surgery, business, and small talk strategies. The ideas blended in
with my reflections on the past few weeks, and I realized something
about myself that I hadn’t dared admit before.

The things I’m good at and want to get better at? They look
suspiciously like sales and marketing.

Now, before all the geeks start booing and hissing me for selling out,
let me explain why I think this is perfectly in line with my geeking.

I love the way technology makes my life better. I love technology so
much that I want to help other people figure out how they can make the
most of technology. I can’t hack _all_ the things I want people to
know about, but if I know other people who can, or I know of products
or services that can do the job, I want people to discover them.

I want to learn more about building relationships with people and
between other people, and I want to build those relationships by
helping people discover things that might be useful for them.

It fits me, too. I love telling people about cool tools and
interesting technologies. I love writing down notes during
conversations and following up with people afterwards. I love
connecting with people and understanding where they’re coming from.
Heck, I love reading every single blog post inside IBM, getting the
overall picture, and connecting people whenever I can.

Hooray! I have more words to describe what I want to do. I can
recognize more opportunities. I have a better idea of what help I need
to get. =) I need to learn more about sales and marketing in order to
figure out how I can get started and how I can scale. I have a long
way to go…

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きです。何故なら前者の方が後者より忠実ですから。 I like dogs better than cats, because the former are more faithful than the latter.

Hacked another T-shirt

May 28, 2006 - Categories: clothing

I simply can’t resist wordplay when it comes to hacking T-shirts. The
bright orange T-shirt I bought at the Wireless Toronto anniversary
party has, now, well, wires – or laces, at least. It laces up the back
with strips cut from the T-shirt. (I didn’t have spare CAT5 lying
around…) Like most shirts, the armholes were way too big, so I cut a
panel down the back and used that as a bandeau under the rest of the
shirt. The panel was just a _bit_ too short, so I laced that one up in
front, too.

Yes, yes, a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I seem to have left
the cable for my camera at the lab. That said, I have a totally
small-time studio now: one warm light (from Ikea), a plastic tripod
($3 at Active Surplus), and a camera set to manual + timer…

If I had a remote and a full-length mirror, that would be even cooler.
That way, I could trigger the timer while making sure I’m in frame.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun making the shirt. I’m thinking of making
short vidcasts showing my different hacked-up computer shirts and
talking a little bit about the events/technologies behind them. =) (If
only to show everyone that yes, you can be a geek _and_ still have fun
being a girl!)

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Random Japanese sentence: うちは黒1匹、白2匹で、3匹の猫を飼っている。 We keep three cats, a black one and two white ones.

Doors Open

May 28, 2006 - Categories: toronto

I wandered into three buildings featured in Toronto’s “Doors Open”
weekend. Beautiful, beautiful architecture and interesting stories. =)
I particularly liked the stained glass windows and the huge libraries,
although the captions in the military exhibits were also strangely

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 小雨のときは、傘は役に立つが、土砂降りのときは、ほとんど役に立たない。 An umbrella is useful in a mild rain, but when it rains cats and dogs an umbrella is of little help.

What a Sunday

May 29, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

Posting long notes because this will help me remember. =) You can skip this if you want.

I woke up to a nice long Skype chat with my mom and dad. =) It was
great catching up again and telling them about the stuff I’ve been up

I helped Brian Wilson buy groceries for the Graduate House Council
barbecue this Monday. We bought 60+ liters of softdrinks and juice,
200 hamburger buns, 100 hotdog buns, and lots of condiments. I took
pictures of the heaps and heaps of stuff at the cashier, and I’ll post
them soon.

Then it was off to Dufferin Grove for the
Wireless Toronto launch. They’ve
blanketed the park with wireless internet. I might need to replace the
extended battery on the Fujitsu so that I can get good battery life
again. It would be so nice to be able to work under the trees!

I had a fun chat with Craig of Kijiji about
social software. He moved to Toronto from Montreal in order to work
for Kijiji, a community classified ads system that emphasizes being
able to meet people in person. It was great talking to him about the
company and how people hear about the cool stuff.

I met Jutta because she was picking leaves off stinging nettles for
use in a nettle pesto for an upcoming party – feeding 700 people! Wow.
She was chatting with Andrew Kegney(?), who’s into Wireless Toronto.
We had a fun conversation about nettles. Andrew’s story about running
into a huge patch of stinging nettles was funny! =) Jutta introduced
us to David of Clay+Paper Theatre and Georgie Donais of, two
interesting projects I should definitely look into.

Another mental note: Check out Patrick Dinnen’s blog post on
electronic communication’s suckiness.

After the Wireless Toronto thing, Jed Smith and I walked to Kensington
Market to take part in the first Pedestrian Sunday for the year. I was
supposed to attend samba practice with Jed, but I felt the pull of
tango too strongly. ;) On the way to the park where we were to meet
for samba practice, I saw that a tango club had arranged a circle of
chairs on the concrete road. I also ran into Leigh Honeywell, who was
waiting for the cooking demo at one of the booths.

A short distance down the road, I met Nana, the girl from the Queen’s
Park drum party who did totally awesome fire poi. Unfortunately, she
absentmindedly left the poi in the park one day. I gave her my
condolences on her loss and lent her the glowy poi (I still haven’t
found batteries!), giving her my telephone number so that she could
get in touch with me just in case she needed to leave early.

Anyway, tango. Couldn’t resist. Instead of going to samba practice, I
walked back to the tango circle ad danced with Trevor Barrie, Peer
Flach, and a few people I hadn’t known: Renett(sp?, Peer’s friend?),
Richard, Ian, and… err… someone whose name I’ve forgotten.
<sheepish grin>

Renett had taken a few tango lessons from Victor Hugo. Richard was an
experienced dancer. Ian was completely new to it, but I managed to
teach him a few basic steps. =) He reminded me that we’d met at a
Python meeting or something like that, and that we were both in Toastmasters. When I heard that he’s working on the Persuasion manual, I told him about my interest in sales and marketing. Now I have a study buddy! =)

When tango wound down, I wandered back to the samba group. We walked
back to Kensington Market, not too far from the tango place. I should
probably have stayed there, then! It was good that I rejoined the
group, though. They had free food and beer at a restaurant near there.

I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry and I really wanted to get my
poi, so I trekked back to Graduate House and picked up my poi and my
diabolo. =)

When I got back, the samba group was warming up, so I slipped into a
Samba Elegua T-shirt (ack! it’s
large!) and played the tambo by mimicking the others. It was _tons_ of
fun, just watching so much energy pour out of the crowd.

It was a little bit weird because this was hippie central and so a
number of people were smoking marijuana. I’m not used to that and I
probably will never be. I tried not to feel weirded out by it, but I
have to confess being a teensy bit afraid of people who were drunk or

The drumming was good, though. =)

After our last set, silence returned to Kensington Market. I brought
out my diabolo and started playing with it while waiting for the samba
group to figure out what to do next. Jed picked it up and tried it
out, too. I still can’t quite believe that this was his first time
with it, as he got the hang of it so quickly. (But hey, this is why I
hang out with brilliant people, right?)

I switched to the cloth poi and played around with it, drawing a bit
of an audience. I met a number of people interested in diabolo and
poi: Alia (happy birthday!), Corin, David, Norman, Denis(?), and Ariel.

I also met Himy again, and he introduced me to Ismael. I should talk
to them more about catalysts, activists, neigborhoods in Toronto…
Himy’s a walking atlas/history maven. Wow. =)

Himy, Jed and I called it a night at around 12, 1. We headed back in
the direction of GH, and had an interesting conversation about
homelessness and politics along the way. I hope Himy becomes a
councilor! He’d do a great job. =)

It will be so hard to wake up tomorrow, but today was definitely worth it!

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は猫を二匹飼っている。一匹は黒でもう一匹は白だ。 He keeps two cats: one is black, and the other white.

Transit, barbecue

May 29, 2006 - Categories: life

The Toronto Transit Commission went on strike today, which meant that
I was stuck in downtown Toronto and couldn’t get to IBM. I caught up
on sleep and tidied my room instead. In the evening, I helped with the
Graduate House barbecue. One of the downsides of hosting such a large
event is that I had hardly any time to talk to people during the event
itself, but I’m looking forward to chatting with people throughout the
next few months. =)

Random Japanese sentence: このようにして、おじいさんは、あたりをみまわすたびに、きれいなねこがみつかっておいていくことができなくなりました。そして知らない間に、そこにいるねこをみんな拾い上げてつれていくことになってしまいました。 So it happened that every time the very old man looked up, he saw another cat which was so pretty he could not bear to leave it, and before he knew it, he had chosen them all. Kono you ni shite, ojiisan wa, atari o mimawasetabini, kirei na neko ga mitsukatte oite iku koto ga dekinakunarimashita. Soshite shiranai aida ni, soko ni iru neko o minna hiroiagete tsurete iku koto ni natte shimaimashita.

Networking with Moleskines

May 30, 2006 - Categories: connecting

I’m somewhat notorious for writing notes during conversations. I keep ‘minutes’ in a little black book that I always carry with me. I can’t help it! I love learning from people, and I don’t trust my memory. I want to be able to get back in touch with people so that I can continue interesting conversations, and I want to be able to introduce people to other interesting people so that I can listen in on _their_ conversations and learn even more. =)

My Moleskine notebook is the perfect size for my conversation notes.
The back flap is great for storing business cards and index cards.
I’ve numbered every other page, which makes it easy to keep an index
at the back of page numbers and contents. This was really handy when I
used my Moleskine to keep lists of random things. Now that I’m using
it for more chronological notes, I don’t need to update the index that

I start the day by writing the date. Throughout the day, I scribble
down names of people I talked to and what I talked to them about. If I
need to follow up with someone, I add a star and a note about what to
say. Action items also get stars – anything I need to do or write. =)

I love having a record of the conversations I’ve had and the people
I’ve met. I hate just having names and contact information in my
address book. I’d rather have stories and vivid memories of people!
This also forces me to listen better and interact more deeply with
people, because I have to be able to write down at least one
interesting thing about them. =)

This also allows me to keep a richer history of the people I’ve met. I
used to keep detailed notes on the people I met through e-mail and
IRC, writing down little tidbits that showed up on my screen whenever
they e-mailed me or chatted with me. For example, one of my entries
starts: “Left-handed, red-headed, uses a kinesis keyboard with a
Dvorak layout, into unicycles…” Bringing my computer out and adding
notes to people’s records while I’m talking to them is really awkward,
though. (Believe me, I’ve tried!) I write notes in my Moleskine
instead, adding them to my computer when I get the chance.

I can add hyperlinks on paper by flipping back to the last time I
mentioned a person, adding an arrow and a note to the current page,
and doing the same to link the current entry back to the previous one.
For example, when I met Himy at the Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington
Market, I knew that I had written his e-mail address down before, and
I trusted that my Moleskine would have it. That allowed me to focus on
our conversation and scribble down things like “giant outstallation
art” and “Toronto psychogeography”.

When I reviewed my notes, I linked the entries together. I met him at
the Mesh afterparty, and it was easy to go back and find his e-mail
address (on page 93!). I then added a forward-link to p118 and a
backward-link from p118 to p93, remembering in the process more
details of our previous conversation. Then I added the data to my
contacts. (Still not complete, but growing bit by bit…)

Good stuff. Very good stuff.

Next step: I’m planning to make a cover for my Moleskine so that I can
keep my fountain pen with it all the time. That way, I’ll always know
where both of them are. I might also keep a tiny, cheap mechanical
pencil with my Moleskine so that I can sketch things. I can also lend
the pencil to people who need something for writing.

Once I finish this notebook (only 68 pages to go!), I’ll try using one
of the thinner notebooks with detachable pages. That would be more
elegant than carrying around a lot of index cards. I’ve gotten used to
being able to just strap random stuff into the notebook, though, so
we’ll see how that works out. Or maybe I should just print more
business cards and put a lot in the back pocket of my notebook…

I’m still figuring out a good way to make incomplete followups jump
out at me. If I was more diligent about margins, I could use circles
in the left margin to indicate the need for a followup. I could then
shade the circle when I’ve followed up with that person.

This is also great when I’m doing something like Greg Narain’s
Stranger-a-Day project. I still haven’t quite gotten the courage to
approach random people and say hi to them, but I’m working my way up
from being able to converse with practically anyone. =) I’ll get there soon!

I’m still bad at following up with people immediately after events. I
need to put aside more time after get-togethers to do that.

I’d love to have a Blackberry so that I can ping people while walking
on my way to class or taking the train to work. Nothing really major,
just quick thinking-of-you things. As small as my laptop is, it’s just
not as convenient as my Moleskine or my cellphone, and wireless
internet isn’t available everywhere. But I can’t send e-mail from my
cellphone, much less my Moleskine. Oh well. I’d like to plan a career
that’ll make something like that cost-effective. =)

Would a PDA be better for this kind of notetaking? I like not having
to look at the paper while I’m writing. I can usually read my
handwriting afterwards. I can use digital ink, I guess, but it doesn’t
quite feel the same. Besides, my fountain pen gets oohs and aahs. ;)
(Yes, I’m silly!) Sure, I have to copy information out again, but that
reinforces the links. (And I don’t have to worry about battery

Still, I’ll try firing up my iPaq again and seeing if that works for
me. Could it be any better than my beloved Moleskine, my little black
book? =) I want to meet more people and learn more things and make
more connections between others. My Moleskine’s a terrific tool for
the job, and I love how it feels, too: cream paper, red-black ink…
It makes me happy, and it makes getting to know people so much fun. =)


Said Bill of Praxis 101:

Sacha, found your nice little post on Moleskine practice via Stowe Boyd.

I use many of the same practices, but I really like your idea for
linking. I’ve done it in a more haphazard way.

Re action items: my practice is to mark actions with an underscore
before them. Like this:

_____ Do this

Then I just put an “X” in the box when it’s done, or a check mark if
partly done. And I cross it out completely when I choose to not do it.

I also carry blank index cards with me at all times. Sometimes these end
up being copied or pasted into my notebook.

I’m not worried about the indexing problem, but I have lost track of a
few references and good ideas.

Thanks again for the practice description.



Said Jason Evans:

I think you will be disappointed if you try to use an electronic notetaking method over paper. You really already made the argument against the switch yourself. Paper and pen are less distracting, never run out of power, and simpler to use for notes like you are trying to do. You want the flexibility to jot a networking note anywhere, anytime, very quickly at the time it is in your brain. I’ve been through various handheld computers trying to do what you’re describing, and I was surprised how much I fell in love with my Hispter PDA that I made from a stack of notecards. I’ve since converted my Hipster cards into pages in my Moleskine pocket edition and it goes with me everywhere. For someone like you, your Moleskine won’t be the only place you keep your ideas and you’ll often need other resources to take action (like sending and email), but the ease of use of paper and a nice pen (mine’s a Fischer Bullet Space Pen) means you’re more likely to capture the idea/conversation/contact in the first place. Like you said, copying it to another resource (an online to do list, an email server, etc.) reinforces the item in your head and can be done when you have more time. Use your iPaq for databases (I’m a physician and I keep a medication database on my Palm that is updated via the Web when I HotSync), highly detailed contact info, and maybe your calendar. Program your email address into your cell phone and send yourself short SMS reminders about other emails (“lynn meeting” to remind yourself to email lynn about that meeting you wanted to schedule the next time you sit in front of your email). Keep the Moleskine.

Welcome to the folks! By the way, I’m into social
computing (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, etc.) and I want to learn
more about technology evangelism. Check out my about:me. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫が部屋から飛び出した。 A cat dashed out of the room. Neko ga heya kara tobidashita.

More thoughts on Barcamp, no answers

May 30, 2006 - Categories: barcamp, philippines, purpose, sad

Dominique helpfully offered suggestions on adapting
BarCamp to the Philippines. He said that
it was doable, but challenging. He asked me the top five people I’d
like to be there. He suggested having interdisciplinary talks by
invited speakers on entrepreneurship, physics, biology, etc. Many of
the Linux geeks who regularly speak at events would no doubt turn up,

I had such a strong reaction against his ideas that I had to stop
myself from being frustrated. I recognized that I felt he didn’t
understand what unconferences were about. I also recognized that I
couldn’t yet articulate the differences between unconferences and
conferences in a way that would make the changes and benefits clear. I
was frustrated, yes, but I was frustrated with myself for being unable
to figure out how to hack unconferences into Filipino culture without
turning the event into yet another thing that divides speakers from
audience instead of creating a community of participants.

I knew Dominique wanted to help me think things through, but the
strength and irrationality of my reaction made me realize that I
needed to first think things over with people who know the
unconference culture and who may have insights into helping a new
community adapt.

I need more insight from people like Chris Messina and David Crow. How
does one hack unconferences into a society’s culture? How can I help
people go from a strongly hierarchical culture to a flatter one? Must
ask Don Marti, too…

I don’t have answers. I don’t even know where to start. One good thing
is that I can recognize when I’m hitting a wall, though. When I heard
Dominique repeat his suggestion for inviting talks from outside
disciplines and I knew I just couldn’t listen well enough to do him
credit, I thanked Dominique for sharing his thoughts and confessed my
inability to discuss things further at this time. I need to talk to
the others first. I need to figure things out.

You know, it’s just _so_ tempting to not think about how to hack
something like unconferences into Philippine society. It would be so
easy to just enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor in a tech
culture that’s starting to take off. But I want to bring these ideas

And you know what? Maybe I don’t need to figure out how to get people
out of their chairs and into the conversation. Maybe I can focus on
just meeting the Web 2.0 entrepreneurs, the connectors who are
reaching out to me and to each other. I’d like to meet them in person
and get them to talk to each other. Maybe I don’t have to think about
doing that this August. Maybe I can do that this December, if I can
afford to go home.

I don’t feel bad about being asked tough questions. I feel bad about
not knowing the answers and not even being able to explain why
something doesn’t feel right. I just need to talk to more people and
try more things in order to figure out what to do.

And I seriously need hot chocolate and a hug, but that’s just because
I’m feeling all lost again… I’ll try to postpone thinking about it
until Friday, as I’m booked until then.

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Random Japanese sentence: うちの猫って甘えん坊で、どこでも私のあと着いて来るのよね。 My cat is such a baby, she follows me around wherever I go.

More thoughts on Barcamp II

May 30, 2006 - Categories: barcamp

I personally am not tired of conferences. I am just tired of tired conferences. Particularly the ones with the same group of twenty talking heads saying the same twenty things. – Stowe Boyd

I know public speaking scares the heck out of most people, but maybe
we can get more people into the conversation…

I remember facing two hundred people at one of the PLUG technical
sessions, all quiet as a mouse. I remember feeling _really_ frustrated
by the notion that they might just be there to listen to people talk
(possibly over their heads, eh?), get their certificate and go on with
their lives. Or maybe they were just thinking about lunch. Ah, well.

I want small groups, so no one can hide in the anonymity of crowds. ;)
I’m tired of audiences. I want participants. I don’t want to hear
presentations. I want to be part of conversations.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫はネズミを追いかけた。 The cat ran after the rat.

Blogging is vanity

May 30, 2006 - Categories: blogging, ibm

Congratulations to Stephen Perelgut for making it to the #1
most-commented blog entry in IBM and #4 hottest blog! Heh. Blogging as
ego-stroking. ;) It was an interesting blog entry, though, and I’m
glad he sparked such a conversation. Hooray for blogs!

I usually hover about #3 on hottest blogs within IBM. Stephen thinks
it’s because my blog title is “geek – girl – dogear dogmatist,” and
the combination of “geek” and “girl” makes most people click. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 太った白い猫が塀に座って、眠そうな目で二人を見ていました。 A fat white cat sat on a wall and watched them with sleepy eyes.

fMRI study

May 30, 2006 - Categories: geek

I’m at the Sunnybrook Hospital waiting for the researchers to do an
fRMI scan of my brain. One of the researchers – Magda – has promised
to e-mail me a JPEG of the structural analysis, and I might hike over
to Hasher Lab to get the time series data as well. =)

It’s good to know that the fMRI console is a Unix box. I can recognize
the fvwm window manager anywhere. ;) Besides, the tech knows at least
a little about Unix. I saw some command-line use over there, and I
think he was using vi too…

Random Japanese sentence: その猫はミルクを飲む。 The cat drinks milk.


May 30, 2006 - Categories: ibm, research

I was panicking all morning because I didn’t have the teleconference
details for something at noon, but fortunately I remembered that I
could e-mail a friend in IBM and ask him to send a message to the
teleconference organizer. I then used Skype
to call in for free. Hooray for Skype! Voice quality is a bit
variable, but it does the job, and it’s saved me from getting another
phone line…

I’m so excited about the tagging panel. It looks like such an
interesting lineup!

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Random Japanese sentence: 飼い猫の毛のつやが悪くなった。 Our cat’s fur has lost its luster.

fMRI scan

May 30, 2006 - Categories: geek

I signed up for a research study that needed functional magnetic
resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans of evening-type right-handed
people. They promised to send me some images, and I thought that would
be _so_ bloggable. <laugh> I’ll post them when I get them.

I needed to make sure I wasn’t wearing anything with any metal, so I
wore a red velvet turtleneck and the red Thai pants, and I took off my
earrings before the scan.

I kept dozing off during the test, though. Repetitive task, horizontal
position, not much sensory input… Meep! And to think they considered
5:00 to be among the peak work hours for evening types…

I hope I haven’t screwed up their data too much. =)

Random Japanese sentence: すると、少し先に、またもう一匹、ふわふわした灰色のねこがめにつきました。そしてこれも前の二匹と全く同じくらいかわいいのです。 But then he saw a fuzzy gray cat over here which was every bit as pretty as the others, so he took it too. Suru to, sukoshi saki ni, mata mou ippiki, fuwafuwashita(!!) haiiro no neko ga me ni tsukimashita. Soshite kore mo mae no nihiki to mattaku onaji kurai kawaii no desu.


May 30, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

It was 37’C (hooray!), so I took the streetcar instead of the bus. A
stranger complimented me on my outfit. Eduardo moved here from Mexico
last August and also finds summer thrilling, particularly after
that winter.

What do you know, I _am_ getting the hang of weather as small talk… =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 「それがいい」おじいさんは言いってねこたちに聞きました。「おまえ達の中で誰が一番きれいなねこだね?」 “Oh yes,” said the very old man, and he called to the cats, “Which one of you is the prettiest?”


May 30, 2006 - Categories: toastmasters

I made it just in time to catch the Table Topics session at
Toast I.T. Toastmasters. I nearly would’ve
won with my impromptu speech about Japan, but Mike Tsang’s
jokes/insightful observations about India (“Chinese food in India is
the same as what they serve in Indian restaurants in China.”) won him
the best Table Topics Award. =) I was glad that he came out!

Michael Chan gave a speech on first impressions. I talked to him
afterwards to give him a more detailed evaluation and do the proper
mentor-ish thing of telling him some of the things I learned from that
speech, and we discovered that we had very similar book interests.
He’s also read things like “Never Eat Alone” and “Love is the Killer
App”. In fact, he goes to the trouble of publishing book reviews on
Amazon. Must keep track of this guy. =)

I was proud of Chris Charabaruk, too, who stepped up and volunteered
to evaluate Michael on his second speech despite just having finished
his second speech as well. I talked to Chris afterwards to give him
some feedback on his evaluation, too. I’m glad they’re both making the
most of the Toastmasters program!

We had our club elections today, too. I got acclaimed to the position
of VP Ed, and I’m looking forward to helping everyone learn as much as
they can… =)

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: 犬が1匹、猫が1匹、カナリヤが3羽います。 We have a dog, a cat and three canaries.

DemoCamp afterparty

May 30, 2006 - Categories: connecting, democamp

I couldn’t make it to DemoCamp proper, but I caught the
afterparty at Molly Bloom’s. I checked all the tables for people I’d
been meaning to ping and say hi to, but I was just starving, so I
spent far too much time waiting for food and then gulping it down.
Next time, I should bring along a little snack or some dried mangoes
so that I can get my energy fix and postpone dinner.

Lots of interesting conversations, though, and lots of role models.
I’ll try to follow up with them over the next few days. I brought my
little black book, of course, and it was fun seeing everyone else with
Moleskines. (They’re like Macs among the geek crowd, only more
portable. ;) )

Note to self: either learn shorthand or learn how to write more

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女は猫を脅かして追い払った。 She scared the cat away.

Programming for kids

May 31, 2006 - Categories: teaching

On the Kagay-anon Linux Users Group mailing list:

we will just help kids learn the basics of programming,
logic formulation, flowcharting and the most important is their typing
speed till they will reach 105 wpm.

Here’s what I think about typing:

I find that as long as they can type without thinking about typing,
they’re fine. Get them to touch-type and they’ll be okay even if they
type slowly. The difference is that if you can’t touch-type, you’ll be
looking at the keyboard, and thus not looking at the structure of your
code. If you can touch-type, then even if you type slowly, you’re
still thinking about your code…

and about kids and programming:

What you really need to do is teach the kids to have _fun._
Show them that, and they’ll learn whatever else they need to.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to
collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach
them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Go back and think about what you found fun. What made you fall in love
with computers? What was your passion?

I loved being able to explore. I loved being able to get the computer
to do what I wanted it to, even if it was such a simple thing. And
later on, when I discovered open source development, I loved being
able to make a difference in other people’s lives – even if it was
just a very little difference… =)

Give kids inspiration by showing them what they can do. Give them time
to play, to explore. Give them hints, not instructions. Help them
discover. Let them own their work, let them feel that it is theirs.
Don’t make it a typing exercise. Make it fun. Make it interesting.
Make it play.

On Technorati:

E-Mail from edgardo bangga

Random Japanese sentence: 猫がソファの上に寝ている。 A cat is lying on the sofa.

Why blogging is cool

May 31, 2006 - Categories: blogging

I hear this story again and again, in different words. This is one of the reasons why blogging is so cool. =)

I have met many wonderful colleagues and like-minded individuals that I would never have met without starting the blog. I have had the chance to speak at various events, to push forward my views on blogs and blog outreach that might put me in the contrarian camp (as Sam Whitmore said to me during a meeting), but a contrarian view that likely will be mainstream view in the not-so-far future.

Link via Tara Hunt.

Random Japanese sentence: じゃあ、ネコの世話は誰がするの。 Who will take care of your cat then?

Being a girl

May 31, 2006 - Categories: emacs, geek

Tara Hunt
knows what it’s like to fade into the background if one has a
partner in crime. I don’t really have that problem, probably because
people are, like, “Ooh! a girl!” Kinda.

I like being a girl. I like turning up to tech conferences in dresses
and earrings. I like hacking my computer T-shirts into something with
more style. I like being me.

I like sneaking into tech get-togethers like the Linux Users Group or
Ruby Users Group without worrying about technical credibility. I blend
in. I’m part of the woodwork. People will just assume that I’m
someone’s girlfriend.

I like playing up my social aspect. I like connecting with people.
Most people find it hard to reach out. They think it’s easier for me
because I’m a girl. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I just use
being a girl as an excuse to get over my nervousness. =)

If I have to bat my eyelashes at people and bribe them with homemade
cookies, so be it.

If I have to jolt people out of their stereotypes by asking
well-thought questions, I do so with great gusto.

If I have to bring out my laptop and do some console work in front of
them to show them I’ve got the chops, fine.

And when the shadows in my head whisper that I’m not as good as the
others, not as geeky as the others, I drown them in Emacs Lisp. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: おしゃべりの人は、いつも秘密をばくろしては他人の利害を冒している。 A talkative person is always letting the cat out of the bag and jeopardizing the interests of others.

I’m sorry!

May 31, 2006 - Categories: blogging

I screwed up, and I feel terrible.

I hate being virtual…

Random Japanese sentence: 猫は夜行性の動物だ。 Cats are active at night.


May 31, 2006 - Categories: life

As guilty as I feel about taking another day off, unavoidable personal
circumstances have come up, and a little bit of downtime will help me greatly.

On Technorati:

Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古い話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

Old friends and familiar strangers

May 31, 2006 - Categories: friends

I don’t know why so many people read about the cooking misadventures
and existential crises of this 22-year-old girl, but I do know that it
makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I hear not only from old friends
but also from familiar strangers. Thank you for sharing your insights
with this newbie who’s figuring out life for the first time!

Random Japanese sentence: その猫の一方は黒で、もう一方は茶だ。 One of the cats is black, the other is brown.

My mom reads my blog

May 31, 2006 - Categories: education, family

My mom reads my blog, and that’s absolutely terrific. =) I love
hearing her insights into the things I’m trying to figure out, and it
makes me feel even warmer and fuzzier because she’s my mom. Here’s one
of her recent comments:

“I want small groups, so no one can hide in the anonymity of crowds. ;) I’m tired of audiences. I want participants. I don’t want to hear presentations. I want to be part of conversations.” This kind of thinking is what is setting you apart as a teacher and as a student. I am proud that this is the way you think and feel, and I know you will try your best to bring out not only the best in you, but also the best in others, and you will acknowledge that the others are doing the same to you. We should approach each other, like you said, not in the traditional manner of teacher teaching and student learning. There is no reason why they can’t be both teachers and students at the same time. I believe that the most exciting times are when teachers and students discover “lessons” (learnings?) at the same time. When a teacher helps to bring a student to where he is by teaching him what he knows, the teacher is still where he is; and save for the additional information, the student is!

probably still where he is, but when they discover something together, both move at least a step higher in the quest for knowledge.

So many of my thoughts on education and other things come from my mom.
She checked out practically every grade school in the area looking for
the best school for my sisters and me, choosing St. Scholastica’s
College because it offered small group instruction with individualized
pacing. She pushed for the creation of a gifted program and then for
its expansion to include all students. She read to me until her voice
cracked: The Three Little Pigs, the Big Fish, One Fish Two Fish Red
Fish Blue Fish… And when I moved on to more complex material (having
figured out how to read The Three Little Pigs upside down), she left
interesting books lying around: kid-friendly encyclopedias and
references, books on business and career, even books on parenting
teenagers (which naturally I read from cover to cover).

She never dictated a career for me, but instead helped me learn how to
listen to the world and to myself. She never emphasized grades, but
instead emphasized the learning experience. That said, when I got
three Ds (got bored in my merit English classes for fiction and
poetry), she warned me that I’m going to have to work extra hard to
get people to overlook that on my record. ;) But she taught me what it
was like to love learning and to want to fill other people with that

I love my mom. =) Give your mom a hug today.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は闇で物が見える。 A cat can see in the dark.

Oatmeal hacking

May 31, 2006 - Categories: cooking

One of the nice things about knowing geeks is that they often have another geek specialty. For example, Paul Lussier is a food geek, and this helpful tip will show you why:

Arrrrrrrrrg! Not quick-cooking! No, no, no. Get yourself some of
those steel-cut oats I recently mentioned in another post and do this:

  • Boil some water just before you go to bed1.
  • Place 1 cup of steel-cut oats in a pot
  • Place 4 cups of boiling water in the same pot
  • Place lid on said pot
  • Goto sleep (make sure you’ve turned *OFF* the stove!)

When you wake up in the morning, scoop yourself a bowl full of oatmeal
and add about a half cup of water. Place it in the microwave on high
for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar or maple syrup, raisins, bananas,
or whatever, and either milk or light cream to taste, mix it all up
and enjoy. A healthy, delicious, very filling breakfast in under 5
minutes :)

Not a burned-pancakes post goes by without great suggestions from him.
=) He’s awesome. He said:

I can’t contribute too much by way of code to many projects, but if I
can keep my elisp inspiration well fed, I figure that’s not a bad
contribution ;)


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E-Mail from Paul Lussier

Random Japanese sentence: 私たちは猫を飼っています。私たちはみなその猫が好きです。 We have a cat. We are all fond of the cat.

Congrats to Von Totanes!

May 31, 2006 - Categories: friends

Von Totanes has just received his Canadian visa, and will be starting his PhD in information studies Really Soon. Hooray for the Filipino Librarian!

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Random Japanese sentence: 小雨のときは、傘は役に立つが、土砂降りのときは、ほとんど役に立たない。 An umbrella is useful in a mild rain, but when it rains cats and dogs an umbrella is of little help.

First baseball game

May 31, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

I watched my very first baseball game last night, thanks to Graduate
House Council’s awesomely discounted $5 field-level seats (face price:
$34.50, pre-tax). It was the Boston Red Sox versus the Toronto Blue
Jays, and the Red Sox won 8-7.

Interesting stuff. It was great going with a bunch of grad students,
as many of us were completely new to the thing. ;)

I found myself unable to boo anyone, though. I clapped and cheered
(quietly) for both teams! =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は猫を二匹飼っている。一匹は黒でもう一匹は白だ。 He keeps two cats: one is black, and the other white.

Yesterday was a hot chocolate day

May 31, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

The hot chocolate at Linux Caffe (Grace
and Harbord Sts.) never fails to perk me up. Yesterday was no
exception even though it was a day particularly in need of hot

David (the proprietor) received a whole bunch of free books and a
number of free T-shirts from Apress. The shirts were adorable! They
read “Every time Linux boots, a penguin gets its wings.” I batted my
eyelashes at David and he very kindly let me have one. =) I’m so
hacking it.

Seneca was there, hacking away as always. Mike Fletcher was at the
same table. Ian Garmaise had briefly introduced us at the other
night’s DemoCamp afterparty, but I hadn’t really had a chance to
talk to him. It was great discovering mutual friends: Chris and Emily,
whom I know through tango and renaissance dancing and whom he knows
through jazz. He knows a bunch of interesting people, and I’m looking
forward to meeting them at a party at his place on Saturday. Whee!

In retrospect, it was good that I ended up over there for hot
chocolate. =) Life works out one way or another.

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Random Japanese sentence: その猫の一方は黒で、もう一方は茶だ。 One of the cats is black, the other is brown. Sono neko no ippou wa kuro de, mou ippou wa cha da.

Social media for social change

May 31, 2006 - Categories: social, web2.0

This is one of the reasons I love technology.

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Random Japanese sentence: ある日、彼女はペットの猫がほしいと私に知らせました。 One day, she told me that she wanted a pet cat. Aru hi, kanojo wa petto no neko ga hoshii to watashi ni shirasemashita.

Another aspect of what I want to do

May 31, 2006 - Categories: purpose

From netsquared comment:

Although I’ve studied the material provided here, what I would really like is to be able to hire someone who is 100% comfortable with these technologies to help me get accustomed to them. Like a “new media coach” ;-).

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