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Mail sent to Ateneo CS and CompSAt mailing lists

Updated copy at http://www.livejournal.com/users/sachachua/6605.html .
Please leave comments there.

Miguel Paraz just forwarded a _very_ interesting contest application
to the CompSAt-EB mailing list, and I’m sending this to you because it
is worth talking about, and that is because it is completely wrong.

The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) is doing a search for “Digital
Pinay 2005″. They’re looking for role models for information and
communication technology, “women who exemplify the qualities expected
of future women leaders of the Philippine ICT industry.”

To help them find worthy candidates, their application form asks for
information like name, paragraph or two about why you deserve the
award, IT experience, and such essential information as height,
weight, bust, waist, and hip measurements.

I put up a copy of the form at
http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/personal/digitalpinay.doc . Read it
all the way to the end. You may start out amused, perhaps annoyed. I
hope you end up horrified that such a thing could have been thinkable,
much less thought a good idea. That it was proposed at all could be
chalked up to temporary insanity, but that it reached this point
cannot be attributed to reason.

A beauty pageant does not pretend to be anything but a beauty pageant.
On the other hand, “Digital Pinay 2005″ pretends to define an ideal
woman in ICT, and _that_ is why it is so insulting. Or perhaps our
Atenean curriculum is missing charm classes to help women learn how to
wear business suits and casual clothes well?

Our industry _cannot_ be like this. Until now, I have not come face to
face with such discrimination in what I believe to be such an
egalitarian field. Our industry _is_not_ like this. But the existence
of this contest sends a message to students, to professionals, to
people inside and outside our industry. The message is that ICT in
2005 is about appearance more than substance, that how a woman looks
and how she walks is more important than what she learned and what she
can do. If nothing else, it tells us that our industry thinks this
view is acceptable.

It is a farce that I must denounce in the strongest terms. If the PCS
would like to beautify its meetings with models, it should not pretend
at all to be promoting women in ICT when it is actually doing the
exact opposite. If PCS would like to say that women are valuable
contributors to ICT, it should not attach such values to them. For
what will these women be but stereotypes and living proofs of
discrimination in IT? What is their value? What will they be beyond
a pretty face and a nice body?

(I find it interesting that winners are required to attend all PCS
official functions. Essentially, you can buy a professional woman’s
time for P 25,000. The co-ed winner costs only P10,000 and the
runners-up are free. Why will they grace the PCS functions with their
presence? Who will take them seriously knowing the criteria by which
they were judged? What of this promised visibility in the job market?
Is that really the kind of job markets Ateneans are preparing for?)

The contest insults women by objectifying them, and men for proposing
that such objectification is commonplace and normal. The contest
insults our industry and our society. Will we not discuss it? Will we
not consider how such a situation came to be? Will we not point at it
and say that this is wrong?

Exams are going on and there seems to be no time to talk of things
like this, but these are things that must be thought about. This is
Science and Society. This is the Philosophy of Man. This is, even
without all the subjects you’ve taken up, even if only considering
that still and quiet voice within you—this is a matter of right and
wrong.

So read, reflect, and be angry, for this is the sort of thing that
should never be complacantly ignored. Realize that this _is_ a
problem, that it _does_ exist, and that we contribute to it with our
silence. Affirm what you believe in. Write. Write your fury, your
shock—or casual indifference, if that is all you experience upon
reading this.

As for me, I believe that just because something _is_ doesn’t mean it
has to be.

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Advocacy plans

I will be home in a month!

I am overflowing with ideas I want to share with people, and I’m
planning to go to different places in the Philippines in order to do
open source and computer science advocacy.

  • I want to show people that you can be passionate and enthusiastic
    about computing, and you can share what you know even if you’re just
    talking about simple things.
  • I want to help start geek communities so that people know who’s
    working on what. It’s important for people to know whom they can ask
    for help.
  • I want to find out what issues teachers face in other schools and
    how teachers deal with those issues. I hope to share thoughts on
    teaching introductory computer science and making computer science
    fun and interesting for university students as well as elementary
    students.
  • I want teams from the provinces to perform better in national
    programming competitions.
  • I want to help show people that they can do funky computing stuff in
    the provinces so that they’re not always envious of Metro Manila and
    its high concentration of geeks. ;) I want students to be able to
    consider their local colleges seriously. I want to encourage people
    to hold their own technical sessions and regular meetings.
  • I want to show people that computer science isn’t just about money.
    It helps you learn how to think, and that makes it really useful.

I don’t need to speak to large audiences, although I can do that if
I’m part of a larger event. If I spoke in front of a large audience
all day, I’d bore them—better to reserve that for smaller audiences
so that I can adapt to people better. I don’t need a grand event. I
just need to be there, meeting people, asking questions, exchanging
ideas…

I can start with a small thing. I can talk about computing on XTs if
that’s all they have. I can assume zero background on Linux or even
computing if necessary. It’s just that I’m mobile (aka unemployed) in
a position to do something cool, and I can’t let the opportunity pass.

Summertime would be best. That would mean I’d have to raise PHP 10k
for airfare or so. There’s a Cebu Pacific Air thing running until
March 15, but I won’t get to talk to teachers and students then, so it
might be better to spend that time with my family, use all March to
prepare really good presentations, and head off during April so that I
can talk to lots of people.

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If imitation is the highest form of flattery, I must be very boring

sassylawyer has been plagiarized. That got me to
thinking about plagiarism, and you know? I don’t think I’ve ever been
badly plagiarized. Probably not a single line maliciously lifted from my Ph104 or
JapanTraining notes.
No one reposts me to get +5 Insightful or to increase post count on
some bulletin board. I saw a number of Google queries poking around my
notebook directory back when I still had files from college,
but those were probably people who would’ve copied netlists or
programs from elsewhere on the Net, anyway.

Conclusion: I must be really boring. ;)

I suppose it also helps that the only things I post on my blog are
random code snippets, bad short stories, business ideas,
and my TODO list, all of which can be freely reposted anywhere you want.
(In fact, please steal my TODO list!)

The only people who read my blog are geeks, my family and my friends.
They’re all smarter than I am and have no problems coming up with
insightful posts on their own.

I’m not concerned about plagiarism. I trust that if my thoughts are
being posted to a forum by someone who’s too lazy to think up cool
stuff, the mere fact that the poster would think other people would
find such things interesting means that some of the readers might’ve
stumbled across my blog before. Then they laugh at the poster,
completely destroying the poster’s reputation. Mwahaha.

Even if I never get attributed, it’s nice that the ideas are out
there. My ideas are more important than my byline. I don’t care who
eventually makes stuff happen as long as the stuff happens. I learn by
writing, and I lose nothing if people copy me. If people go to the
trouble of stripping out my identity, then they’ll just have to deal
with questions and bugs themselves.

I don’t care if people stumbling upon my work never bother to find out
who I am. If they find something in my braindump useful, well and
good. If they copy-and-paste what I’ve written into something they
need to submit for class or work, they’ve lost the opportunity to
exercise their mind.

If someone ever accuses me of plagiarizing my own work, I’ll simply
laugh and point to the other stuff I’ve written or to the things I’ve
done. People know I’m real.

So there. I trust you, reader. I’ll never use Javascript hacks to make
it difficult for you to save data from my website.
I’ll never make it difficult for you to syndicate my blog
(RSS feed) or copy it
whole-sale. Heck, if you want
an archive of my planner, either wget -r
http://sacha.free.net.ph/notebook/plans/ or e-mail me for an archive.

Go ahead and steal my thoughts. Add your insights. Make them better.

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Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Hi Sacha,

I just talked to the grad office. They were waiting for me to give my
approval, oops. :) An offer letter should be going out to you shortly.

Mark

Mark Chignell wants me there by mid-May!

We will have a watermelon party later. Yay yay yay yay yay!

E-Mail from Mark Chignell

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About procrastination

From http://www.dictionary.com :

pro-cras-ti-nate

(v. intr.) To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.

(v. tr.) To postpone or delay needlessly.

Procrastination might not be the best word to advertise so
prominently on the wikiblog of personal information management
software maintainer, what with all its negative connotations. After
all, don’t we want software to help us be more productive, not less?

So what’s with planned procrastination, anyway? I renamed my
blog from the informative-but-boring “sacha chua – wiki” to the
huh?-and-slightly-less-boring “planned procrastination” on a whim. I
wanted to mention some kind of planning, but I didn’t want to project
myself as some kind of productivity guru. At least, not yet.

Besides, what’s wrong with the word “procrastination”? I joke about
PlannerMode
being the best procrastination tool I’ve ever used. When I think about
it, though, that’s why I like it so much. Planner doesn’t force
a particular way of thinking on me. It doesn’t bury me under a list of
urgent TODOs that must! be! done! today! Planner simply lets me get
things out of my head so that I can rest assured knowing that things I
plan to do someday won’t slip through the cracks of my memory.

Sure, a lot of self-help books tell you to stop procrastinating and
do things now.
I might be one of the rare people not
bothered by the idea that I procrastinate. I keep ideas simmering on
the backburner, ready for lazy afternoons or moments of inspiration in
the bath. My procrastination is a gleeful exercise of power over my
life, making space for other unplanned things. I don’t mind putting
things off until tomorrow if there are unexpectedly wonderful things
going on today. =)

Note that this doesn’t mean I’ll put off doing things until the
absolute last minute. In fact, I enjoy doing things with time limits
as soon as I can, and I often submitted programming assignments soon
after they were given. I once majorly freaked out when one of my group
projects was delayed not because of my part (which I had finished
weeks before) but because the other group members hadn’t even started
on their documentation until the day before (or something like
that)…

For me, procrastination is simply the ability to choose what I’d like
to work on today, knowing that I can work on other things tomorrow or
the next day or the day after that. It’s not perfect, but it does give
me a happy feeling about how much I accomplish each day and excitement
about what I’m going to do tomorrow.

I’m looking for a stronger title. “productively procrastinating”?
“structured procrastination”? Something that doesn’t mention
procrastinating but still manages to express this idea? =) Any
suggestions?

この猫はネズミを追いかけない。 This cat doesn’t chase rats.

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On organization

joroxx said:

oh man, how do you keep a life so organized? ya know i
love emacs and lisp but i’m bogging down on planner. :-(

i guess i like spontainity and surprises! :-)

Some people look at my website and think I’m organized. I have no idea
what gives them that impression. Maybe it’s the color-coded task list.
Yes, yes, that must be it.

Regular readers will notice, however, that I procrastinate as much as
anyone else. Just check my website tomorrow and see which tasks still
aren’t done. ;) In fact, if you look at the linked pages, you’ll find
lots of tasks I haven’t even scheduled.

I guess I procrastinate in an organized manner. ;) Planner lets me do
that. It doesn’t guilt-trip me into productivity or nag me to do
things. Rather, it helps me keep track of the things I’d like to
eventually get around to doing, and it occasionally reminds me that I
should do some of those things soon.

Planner makes working fun. I love seeing crossed-off tasks on my
Planner. When I break things down into tiny little pieces and cross
them off my list, it feels good. On the other hand, if I don’t manage
to cross off anything on my list, that means I had either made
progress on at least one task or had fun doing something unexpected. <grin>

I love surprises, too. Today I had lunch with Clair and Madj at
Greenbelt. Totally unplanned—actually, I was just planning to sleep
in—but totally, totally fun. Then my mom and I went to a wedding in
Alabang, and that was surprisingly wonderful and sweet… =)

E-Mail from Richi’s server

秘密はもうすっかり知れ渡っているよ。 The cat is well out of the bag.

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