Headlines for Saturday:

Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AX@1330-1415 Finish writing lab (teaching)
AXSee if we can merge planner/muse and planner/emacs-wiki with a unified backend, thanks to hodique@lifl.fr--test/planner--merge--1.0 (planner)
AXFix team lists, remove wanting gan : E-Mail from Peter Shepard (teaching)
ACSync with planner-muse (planner)
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
BC@1030-1600 Attend ACM programming tryouts at BA3175 (AcmTraining)
AXFix my mail
BXWrite Jill Franklin another note (social)
CXCheck out mario.upb.edu.ph/thesis/slides.html

1. Microsoft booth babes: 09:03

Categories: None -- Permalink
Regarding the latest LinuxWorld Philippines:
happy_eclair there were so many babes at the MS booth
sachac <roll eyes> It figures. Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks... ;)
happy_eclair they even had Barbie Almalbis of Barbie's cradle
happy_eclair Yeah. Manny Amador was saying PLUG only had one booth babe - me! *laughs*
Of all the sneaky, underhanded tricks...

I know all's fair in love and business, but must Microsoft _really_ stoop to stuff like that? All the comments I get about LinuxWorld mention the 'MS babes' some way or another.

From Jijo's comments:

It was truly weird entering the exhibit area to be greeted by their big booth located front and center, with attractive (and distracting) Microsoft Babes at their booth and at the entrance. I also caught the tail end of a talk on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2005, which was a time slot ahead of my talk, in the same room.

Oh, wait, it's Microsoft. Right. They're not exactly known for ethics.

This is what makes me grit my teeth and remember that somewhere in Microsoft are good people who like making things that help others. I have friends who work at Microsoft. They're decent people.

They're just weighed down by a terrible corporate culture that focuses on crushing the competition. Court docs: Ballmer vowed to 'kill' Google. At least IBM has guidelines telling employees never to trash-talk the competitors.

Congratulations, Microsoft. You've just succeeded in your marketing objective: distract people from your real problems.

When are we going to see _real_ answers to the stuff we keep complaining about?

I'm going to write someone I know in Microsoft to say how disappointed I am in their marketing...

UPDATE: - Clair's entry

2. Technology and humans: 10:39

Categories: None -- Permalink
UDPATE: Technology and humans MP3 podcast

Francis Ocoma wrote:

Wow, that's an amazing post you did on call centers. I agree. Call centers (as well as nursing, another industry for which the Philippines is being known as a "factory") are not bad things. It's just sad that many young Filipinos see them as their only viable option for making money *legally*.

You really should write more opinion posts, Sacha. :-) Speaking of which, what's your opinion on technology replacing human workers in the long run? Just curious.

Ooooh. Something else to write about. =)

People have always been afraid that they'll be replaced by technology. Angry Luddites smashed Jacquard looms in 1811, afraid that automated weaving would kill the need for master craftsmen. Factory workers protested the introduction of robots and automated assembly lines. Teachers worried that the introduction of the Internet would phase out the need for schools.

Will technology replace human workers?

Yes! Technology should do the dangerous work. Technology should do the boring work. Technology should free us to pursue what we're interested in!

This anxiety about technology is _not_ new. Think about books and you can imagine that many a monk saw the Gutenberg press as a work of evil. Think about spreadsheets and imagine all of those human calculators crunching numbers. Heck, think about your electronic calculator and imagine having to do square roots on your fingers or on an abacus.

I think there will always be a need for human creativity, human insight, human connection. I think technology frees us to focus on more creative things. We can focus on the big picture.

Technology not only makes things easier, but it also transforms what we do. Take the Internet, for example. I just can't imagine tapping all this information and keeping in touch with so many people without the Internet. It would be too much work! Technology not only makes existing things easier. It also makes new things possible.

There are many things we'll still choose to do ourselves. I write lots of letters by hand even though e-mail is much cheaper and more convenient. I handwash many of my clothes even though I've been told that they'll survive the gentle cycle of the washing machine. I play around with paper forms for organizing my life, even as I work on an electronic personal information manager.

What does technology do, though? It widens the divide. You need capital to buy technology, and technology amplifies your advantage. You need time to learn technology, and most people at the bottom of the heap don't feel they have enough time for themselves. (And what little time they _do_ have, they waste on television!) You need confidence to learn and experiment, and far too many people are afraid to break something or don't believe in themselves enough.

So _that's_ where I think the problem lies: not in technology itself, but in our response to change. I want to help people realize that they can and should keep learning. If people embrace change and grow with it, then how can they be afraid of technology?

3. Phonecards: 11:25

Categories: None -- Permalink
Turns out that the phonecard I'm using gives me great rates for calling cellphones in the Philippines, but has ridiculous surchanges, so it's better to use all 40 minutes at once. That's the $5 Yoyo prepaid calling card.

There's another phonecard without connection fees, but the cellphone rate for that one is probably higher. I'll try getting that one later.

4. New podcasts!: 13:05

Categories: None -- Permalink
I'm starting to find my writing style, I guess. <grin> In response to my post on call centers, Carl Sia said:
All in all, I see an article written in your inimitable style; concise and non-argumentative - did you know you sound like you're talking even when you're writing? =)

So I thought about recording MP3s of a couple of entries so that people who don't know what I sound like can imagine me. 'course, I was just reading prepared text, so I'm not as bubbly as I can get in casual conversations. But it's a good start, and it'll get better as I get used to it. =)

- On call centers MP3 podcast - Technology and humans MP3 podcast

Logos from http://www.timmadden.com.au/podcast-logos.htm

5. Pfft. Open source isn't much better at dealing with this.: 13:21

Categories: None -- Permalink
jsgotangco but the babes where fun!!!! *hides*
sachac And people wonder why there aren't many girls into IT... ;)
jsgotangco girl
jsgotangco clair hasn't told you about Red Hat's booth
jsgotangco it had this huge pic of carmen electra saying fsck me...
SHEESH. Shame on all of you.

6. Remembrance agent for GUIs for the Mac: 14:44

Categories: None -- Permalink
Onlife looks ubercool.
Onlife is an application for the Mac OS X that observes your every interaction with sofware applications such as Safari, Mail and iChat and then creates a personal shoebox of all the web pages you visit, emails you read, documents you write and much more. Onlife then indexes the contents of your shoebox, makes it searchable and displays all the interactions between you and your favorite apps over time.

It's like Remembrance Agent (Emacs) and Dashboard (GNOME), but cooler.

That settles it. I want a Mac when this computer falls apart. =) All the interesting productivity developments are happening on Macs.

E-Mail from Sven Kloppenburg

7. The Great Merge: 17:45

Categories: planner#16 -- Permalink
Thanks to Yann Hodique's totally awesome backend structure in hodique@lifl.fr--test/planner--merge--1.0, the distinction between planner/emacs-wiki and planner/muse is on the way to disappearing. Yann's Elisp-fu is far beyond mine, and it shows in the elegance and cleanliness of the backend code.

It's much, much better than my kludgy attempts when I wrote the first port of Planner to Muse. I kept running into problems thinking of an elegant way to combine both backends. I just wanted to get Planner out the door, so I tagged a new branch and replaced all the emacs-wiki code with muse equivalents.

That spurred a lot of development on the planner-muse front, and we blessed Michael Olson's tree as the canonical planner-muse branch. Keeping up with patches became a real headache, though, because of all the translation between branches.

I've tagged a new tree off Yann Hodique's branch and made emacs-wiki work again. I've also brought it up to the latest dev (I think!), and I'll be using it for the next few weeks. A number of modules still require emacs-wiki, and with the Planner community's help, we hope to open them up to Muse people as well!

You can grab the merged tree with

tla register-archive http://sacha.sachachua.com/notebook/arch
tla get sacha@sachachua.com--main/planner--merge--1.0 planner

Back up your plans and customize planner-backend. Have fun!

8. More about call centers: 23:01

Categories: None -- Permalink
A lot of people look down on call centers. I think that's wrong. I think there's dignity in the work that people do at call centers. I think that people pick up so many transferable skills. Call centers are great at helping people learn how to deal with difficult people. Call centers teach people patience, because people can't yell at customers online (even if they're being really dumb!). Call centers teach people how to deal with stress. Call centers help people learn how to communicate, and that's probably the most important skill in today's world.

I firmly believe that tech graduates should be exposed to customers and trained to communicate even if they're eventually going to go into deep systems hackery. There might be better ways to learn these things, but a call center job isn't a complete waste of time. If people learn how to make the most of even their call center experience, then they'll be much better off.

If people think that call centers are a dead end--well, that's _our_ fault! Are we building the companies that provide opportunities for others? Are we offering interesting challenges and competitive salaries to attract and retain people? Or are we just sitting back and complaining about the lack of real opportunities in the Philippines?

9. Oooooh. Linux Journal editorial calendar up!: 23:14

Categories: None -- Permalink
Check out the Linux Journal editorial calendar to see what they're planning to feature next year, and you'll immediately see which issue I am _definitely_ submitting a proposal for...