Category Archives: writing


I've been reading up on blogging, since I want to get a firm grip on the kind of software I'd like. Yes, I'm not supposed to be thinking about it right now, but I am. So, what am I looking for?

I seem to be looking for a strange mix between wiki and blog - a WikiBlog. I want it to be easy for people to jump to today's entry, and I want it to be easy for them to look at all the pages I'd edited for the day. I want to make it easy for people to subscribe to pages they're interested in and to have the day's work delivered to them in their mailbox at, say, midnight the next day.

Bah. Forget them. ;) I want something that can organize information for myself. For the most part, planner mode and emacs-wiki suffice. But I also want to be able to make this information usable to other people, and that means formatting it nicely.

Short story: SMOKED

"All right, kiddo, cough it up."

She shook her head, mouth clamped shut.

Exasperated, he pinched her nose.

When she gasped for breath, he grabbed the saliva-coated cigarette. "This is bad for you." He was about to chuck it into the trashcan when nicotine pangs hit. Wiping it on his sleeve, he lit it up.

E-Mail from Irv Pliskin

Business Writing Seminar

My mom sent me information on a seminar ( on business writing, knowing how I'd like to improve my communication skills. P 8,500 (early bird discount) buys a lot of business writing books, though, and I don't think I'll be able to make use of these skills just yet. Perhaps after grad school?

Does your job entail a lot of writing? Do you panic when confronted with a writing assignment? Does preparing a business report or a business proposal send shivers up and down your spine? Are you unsure of what words to use? If so, then this workshop on effective business writing is for you. Peppered with exercises and easy-to-grasp, practical tips for better business writing, this workshop is designed for Executives like you who regularly compose their own correspondence. You'll benefit from on-the-spot mentoring and participating in discussions that identify and address your own particular writing challenges.Plus, you'll take a look at what works and what won't in writing:
  • Cover Letters
  • Sales Letters
  • E-Mail Messages
  • Memos
  • Business Reports
  • Business Proposals
  • Responses to Complaints

Maybe later, when I think I'll be doing a lot more writing. Right now, I'd love more classes on presentation and public speaking. Actually, scratch that—I know the _theory_, but I want to see it in _practice._ I want to listen to good speakers, people who aren't dependent on random Microsoft Powerpoint transitions or pretty clip-art, people who don't read off the slides, people who can hold an entire hall captive with just voice and a few visual aids. I want to meet masters.

That's what I picked up from Ranulf's talk at La Salle. He and Niel Dagondon talked about game development in the Philippines, but what _really_ struck me was their presentation styles. Ranulf was a typical geek; sincere, informative, but with halting delivery and not much audience connection. Niel—Niel knew how to work the crowd. He got them to laugh. He made them feel special. My (paper) notebook was full of notes on his speaking style. Niel's not perfect, but he's better than Ranulf, and he's more at ease with the crowd than I am. I have much to learn.

I'm a strange kind of geek. I devour books on public speaking, negotiation, sales, even marketing—all of these things that most geeks don't think necessary. I _like_ presentations. I enjoy getting up there and sharing what I've learned. Yes, my knees get weak and I get annoyed with myself when I can't figure out a good way to explain something, but it's _fun._ Scary, but fun.

I like explaining things. I like exciting people, making them curious, helping them get started. I twitch whenever I see a nifty idea obscured by poor presentation skills. I hate it when people think computer science is boring or difficult, because it can be so much more fun than that. I want to learn how to sell ideas, how to set people on fire.

E-Mail to Harvey Chua

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Paul Lussier on possible Planner Linux Journal article

I just started getting you blog via rss yesterday, and just read the discussion you had over writing an article on planner. I just wanted to say that I think that is an AWESOME idea.

As Travis mentioned in the discussion, I too, have become totally adicted to using planner (which, ironically, helps me procrasinate from doing the stuff I need to, but "planning" it :)

There were a couple of points you mentioned that I'd like to touch on, and share my experiences with emacs-wiki, planner, the community, etc. Perhaps it's something you can use in your articles, perhaps not, but I'd like to share it with you nonetheless :)

   We're sitting on something cool here. We're sitting on a
           software project crazy enough to interest people who
           ordinarily wouldn't consider Emacs.

I think this is a fantastic observation. My own experience isn't too far off. I started using emacs over 10 years ago. But it was "just a powerful editor". I used it for the obvious things writing perl/shell code because I just liked the font-lock colors. And I used it for somewhat less obvious things like the column/rectangle manipulation which comes in *real* handy for dealing with things like large /etc/hosts or DNS zone tables which are all column oriented data. I had hacked a few functions of things I found useful, but maintained a rather small .emacs file.

About a year ago, my manager was gone for 6 weeks (boy was that nice :) She and I didnt' get along overly well, but the guy who stood in for her I got along with quite well. He happened to be a project manager, who has had MS Project surgically implanted :) I needed something I could keep track of things with. I found etask, but then saw emacs-wiki and planner. This seemed a more natural way of planning.

As I started in using planner and emacs-wiki, I very quickly became addicted. This was almost literally, an overnight conversion of my life. I no sooner started using emacs-wiki/planner, than I found myself using erc. Reading johnw's README for planner led me to his site, where I discovered ledger (John's unbelievably powerful financial app.) and eshell. Then came (in no specific order) w3m, muse, remember, bbdb, and last, but not least, gnus. The last three are significant. I had been mostly happy with my prior e-mail environment of an mh-backend based e-mail solution for the better part of a decade. But there was no way I could hook that in to planner, and after a several months of resistance, I attempted the switch to mh-e which, as you may remember, didn't go so well :) So, now I'm on gnus, and almost every facet of my life is now hooked into emacs. I've learned more about emacs and lisp in the past year than I have in the past 10 years.

A more profound observation is this:

   Heck, we're even getting non-programmers into Lisp.

I wouldn't consider myself a non-programmer, but I'm not a programmer either. I've got a degree in CS, and know my way around C a little bit, but my strengths, as a sysadmin, are really in perl. I love perl, think in perl, and can solve almost all my problems in perl. All except the hacks I want added into planner :) As a result of planner though, I've felt very much at a loss. The ability to contribute is so obviously there and within my reach, but the capability not so much. I can plainly see that if I could think in lisp, I could contribute to planner, but the stumbling block is my thought process, which is wired to think in perl. As a result, planner has inspired me to begin learning lisp, merely to be able to help myself, and others through what contributions to planner I may someday come up with. I learned perl out of necessity because it was better for the job I needed to do at the time. I'm learning lisp out of love of an application written in it, and a desire to help make it better :)

Then there's this:

   - We don't hide the Lisp code. It's there. Newbies get
           exposed to it. The way we deal with it, though, is by asking
           people to describe--in English--what they want to do--their
           dream PIM--and more experienced people would give them
           snippets of code and tips for making it happen.

This has been instrumental for me. To be able say "when I do X, I want Y to happen", and have that feature within minutes (or seconds!) available to me is astounding. The hack you presented for getting remember to know when it was on a task and create a related note, while I don't understand it yet, works superbly! That I could ask for that feature, and you could provide it is both a testament to how easy it is to extend planner and to how welcoming the community is of requests and features that may not be immediately useful to anyne else but the requestor (err, have I mentioned how much hippie-expand ROCKS lately ;)

   Yes.  But was this growth conscious?

This is a great question. And I think the answer is twofold. Did johnw intend to create such a vibrant community around planner? No, I don't think so. He was scratching a personal itch. Did you intend/expect this to explode the way it has, or did you plan it? I don't think so. In retrospect though, I think we could say that it was inevitable given your personality, love of people, and desire to help/teach others. Those who actively reach out, soon find themselves surrounded by others of like quality. Once you realized there was a community growing though, I think it became very much a conscious thought as to how to grow the community, and how to get planner to fit as many people's habits as possible. The open acceptance of hacking the code to custom fit anyone who happened to be interested is the obvious way to do that. Planner's design which allows people to choose from a menu of features, and to start out extremely simple and build up slowly is also very much a factor in why the community has evolved the way it has.

Planner seems to have created friendships and acquaintances across a diverse set of individuals. Some of us are #emacs, some are on the mailing list, and some are on both. A few of us see each other in other IRC channels as well (of course, the common link is johnw, which is why I think we should really create #johnw :) Regardless, planner has definitely had quite an impact on a lot of people, and I don't see that ending any time soon!

I guess that's it. I'm beginning to ramble now :) I just wanted to share that with you, and wish you luck on the forthcoming articles for LJ. I'll certainly be eagerly awaiting those issues!

Oh, and if there's any help I can provide for the articles, I'd be happy to assist.

E-Mail from Paul Lussier

隣人は4人姉妹と猫1匹です。 My neighbors are four sisters and a cat.

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Blogging party

The U.P. Law Internet & Society Program will be hosting the first Philippine blogging summit entitled “iBlog” on May 7, 2005 Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm at the UP NISMED, UP Campus. This is a FREE event but registration at the iBlog website ( is required.

This will be a whole-day conference featuring CICT Commissioner Dondi Mapa, The Sassy Lawyer, Yugatech, Dean Alfar, the PCIJ Bloggers and many more.

See you folks at iBlog!

I guess I'll take the Mensa test in the morning or something like that...

E-Mail from Janette Toral

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

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