January 2006

Indexing pictures

January 3, 2006 - Categories: adphoto

Adphoto is an advertising photography
and digital imaging company. My parents established it 33 years ago.
It’s Good Stuff.

We’d like to develop the stock photography side of our business. For
that, we need the ability to search for images and give clients
thumbnails before pulling out the original images from our archives.
The Digital Asset Management for Photographers book recommended a hard-disk based archive, but I wanted to make something work without disrupting the office (or my spare time) too much. =)

Right now, we use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep track of CDs
and their contents. Our digital librarian is in charge of assigning
numbers to CDs and describing the contents of the CD using keywords
and phrases. When someone asks for stock shots with a certain keyword,
she searches her Excel file and then physically retrieves the CDs in
order to make thumbnails. Our previous digital librarian started
filing copies of pictures in a directory tree arranged by subject, but
this was not accompanied by metadata, and it was hard to keep up to

Our librarian has been experimenting with iView Media Pro and
Extensis Portfolio. After some poking
around, I found out how to do offline indexing in Extensis Portfolio.
That would allow us to index thousands and thousands of CDs while
keeping thumbnails on the hard drive. iView also has this feature, so
we just need to play around with it and see which interface we like

My Adphoto goals for the next two weeks (I have to go back to
Canada in two weeks!) are to:

  • Improve and document the workflow for digital images
  • Transfer the website to another host (must meet Luis Buenaventura)
  • Contract out the redesign of the website and the development of a Flash portfolio viewer
    (might be able to do the Flash portfolio viewer myself if I can find a good photoblog script)

Improving the workflow would include:

  • File and folder naming conventions to support quick indexing and retrieval
  • How to index images
  • How to retrieve images for comps
  • How to retrieve images for use

This will be fun. Hectic, but fun.

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It’s official – I’ll be working on social search!

January 4, 2006 - Categories: research, social

I’m thrilled to report that a large company has given the go signal
for research on social computing. Social search, in particular. I’m
particularly excited about the opportunity to work with their internal
projects. This year is going to be so interesting!

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Web2.0 goodness

January 5, 2006 - Categories: adphoto, geek, web2.0

I had a wonderful chat with Luis Buenaventura of http://oks.ph and a
gazillion other sites. =) Amazing, amazing. He’s a Fine Arts guy who
taught himself how to code in PHP, and he’s not only doing the usual
web design stuff but also thinking of how to build new businesses. We
chatted about Javascript versus Flash for the Adphoto portfolio
viewer, stock photography, and web hosting. For my part, I gave him an
idea for a new game-oriented website. Now all he needs is a name…

He’s a heck of a hacker. I need to introduce him to Paolo Venegas.
They’d get along. =)

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Javascript or Flash?

January 7, 2006 - Categories: adphoto

I’ve been thinking about the Adphoto
portfolio viewer. As nice and, well, flashy as a Flash portfolio
viewer would be, it might also be good to have a simple Javascript
one, just in case (gasp!) someone who doesn’t have Flash installed is
browsing around. Well, ideally, we’d have both versions _and_ a static
HTML one, but it’s easier for me to hack together something in
Javascript (yikes) than it is for me to do something in Flash, given
that I don’t have Macromedia Flash MX.

So, on to the Javascript crossplatform libraries…

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Education brainstorming

January 7, 2006 - Categories: education, teaching

Big thanks to Cindy A. Trinidad, Roy C. Nicolas, Dominique Cimafranca, Charo Nuguid, JM Ibanez, and Clair Ching for sharing their education-related insights with me. They helped me think about what I want to do after graduation. =)

Cindy shared how seminars on teaching technique greatly helped her
manage her classes. She runs an end-user training company that caters
to children and adults. This is how her new hires learn how to teach:

  1. Take a course even if you already know the content. You need to
    learn about technique.
  2. Practice and play around with the product until you feel comfortable with it.
  3. Practice teaching the subject to your teacher, who can give you
    feedback on unclear or incorrect things.

We all think that teachers have to spend a lot of time walking around,
keeping an eye on students’ progress and making sure everyone can keep
up. =)

Cindy also shared with us her thoughts on the need for good textbooks,
and the abysmally low pay for writing such!

By asking questions, Roy helped me narrow down what I want to do.
We came up with something along the lines of:

  1. Find out who my market is and what they need. I’d like to focus
    first on finding highly-motivated teachers in private
    technical/vocational schools and colleges. I want to find out what
    they need.
  2. Profit! ;)

Heh. Well, must figure that out sometime.

That isn’t the only way, though. Dominique told me about Positive(?),
an initiative to help improve computer science education in colleges.
(Whee! I’ll just piggyback on that.) Charo told me about Voice of
America(?) and that one can actually do quite a lot without major
financial backing.

Anyway, here are the main insights:

  • I might be able to turn this into a business. A business means I
    might be able to attract other people to get into it.
  • I might also be able to get this funded by philanthropists. To do
    that, I need a good program.
  • I can start small. Let’s change my corner of the world first.
  • Motivation is key. We spent a bit of time talking about how to deal
    with closed-minded people and people who don’t want to share their
    knowledge. I’m in favor of going after people who don’t need to be
    persuaded to share their knowledge. I want to find people who can’t
    help but teach.
  • Mentoring is very important, but most teachers are on their own in
    classrooms. Waah. Maybe there should be something like
    Toastmasters, but for teachers… ;)

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Things every geek should know

January 7, 2006 - Categories: geek

Whenever I meet geeks for the first time, I tend to run through a list
of tools I think they should try out. Here’s a partial list:

  • *Blogs*: Not just for writing about what you had for lunch. Blogs

    are great for personal knowledge management (keep your own
    learning notebook). Run your own with WordPress or host it on
    WordPress.com, Blogger, or Schtuff.

  • *Blog aggregator*: An absolute must if you read many blogs. I like Bloglines because of
  • *Wikis*: Excellent for quick notes and websites, particularly
    when people need to collaborate. Make one on Schtuff or
    set up your own with Pmwiki or Mediawiki.
  • *Social bookmarking*: Not only is tagging a great way to organize your personal bookmarks, but
    you can discover interesting sites and people through social bookmarking. Most of the early adopters seem to be on del.icio.us, but I think Myweb 2.0 is more promising because it has better search. CiteULike is great for academics.

I’ve got more lists around here. For example, I go through a different set when talking to a Web 2.0 person…

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Cook or Die

January 8, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

Today was Cook or Die dinner with Dominique and Marcelle. I found a
packet of pepper beef stir-fry seasoning mix and a recipe for bean
sprouts with Chinese egg strips. I was supposed to cook it for lunch,
but my family decided to go out then, so I ended up cooking it for

Pepper Beef Stir-fry

  • 500g beef fillet, sliced – I used the beef stroganoff cut
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks spring onions, cut to 3 cm
  • Maggi seasoning mix
  1. Combine 1.5 tbsp seasoning mix with 2 tbsp water. (Probably just pepper and MSG. ;) )
  2. Heat oil and stirfry beef for 3 minutes.
  3. Add mix and onions. Stirfry until beef is done. (What do they mean by done?!)
  4. Add spring onions and stirfry for 1 minute.

I chopped the spring onions a bit more finely than I should. I
completely forgot about the 3 cm description! Oh well. It didn’t turn
out too bad, although the spring onions practically disappeared.

Bean sprouts with Chinese egg strips

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 medium onion, skinned and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, skinned and crushed
  • 1 medium red or green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 4 celery sticks, washed and chopped
  • 175g (6 oz) button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 225g (8 oz) bean sprouts, washed
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan. Add beaten eggs and cook over gentle heat. Remove from pan, cut into thin strips, then cut each strip into three or four pieces.
  2. Heat rest of oil in pan. Add onion, garlic, pepper and celery, and cook for around 10 minutes until soft. Increase heat, add mushrooms, cook until golden brown.
  3. Stir in bean sprouts, soy suce, seasoning, egg strips. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Not a bad meal. Again, I was a bit overzealous with the knife, chopping the green pepper instead of slicing it. Oops. That’s okay, it was still edible.

It wasn’t a particularly impressive meal, but it wasn’t a bad way of using beansprouts.

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360′ virtual tours

January 8, 2006 - Categories: adphoto, photography

How do real-estate websites show 360′ virtual tours of their spaces? I
spent part of the afternoon looking at software for possible business
use. Here’s how they do it, I think.

*Take photos.* First take super-wide-angle shots, rotating your camera
around a fixed point. A number of stores sell fisheye lenses and
camera mounts for this purpose. The mount for spherical pictures (all
directions, including up and down) is more complicated than the mount
for a 360′ panoramic shot. If you don’t mind distortion, then you can
use a regular camera and just take pictures facing different
directions, relying on stitching software to compensate a bit for the distortion.

*Stitch the pictures.* Camera designed specifically for 360′ or
spherical shots may be able to capture the entire scene in one image.
However, if you’re using a rotating mount or you’re taking pictures in
different directions, then you’ll need to combine the images into a
seamless panorama by using stitching software.

*Produce the brochure.* 360′ viewers range from simple ones that
smoothly scroll a panoramic picture, to more interactive viewers that
include floor plans and clickable hotspots in the image. Choose the
software that fits your intended purpose and budget.

Some companies that sell 360′ software:

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Teaching assistant for Praxis II! =)

January 9, 2006 - Categories: teaching

Whee! I was offered the Praxis II teaching assistantship!
It was just _perfect_ for my interests. I’ll get to set up wikis, blogs, and other fun things to help the students manage and publish their thoughts. Whee!

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Creating thumbnails with Imagemagick

January 9, 2006 - Categories: adphoto

Creating proper thumbnails in Photoshop was a mission and a half. I found a handy Imagemagick incantation for thumbnails. Here’s the one I’ll use to create 400×400 centered thumbnails for the photo gallery.

convert -size 400x400 sacha-20051201.jpg -thumbnail '400x400>' -bordercolor black -border 200 -gravity center -crop 400x400+0+0 +repage test.jpg

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The emperor’s three questions

January 9, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

From http://www.textfiles.com/stories/emperor3.txt :

Remember that there is only one important time and that is
now. The present moment is the only time over which we have
dominion. The most important person is always the person you are
with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have
dealings with any other person in the future? The most important
pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for
that alone is the pursuit of life.

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TODO lists in Emacs!

January 18, 2006 - Categories: emacs, goodkarma, planner

E-mail addresses removed. But it’s the real Stephen J. Turnbull… =)

From: "Stephen J. Turnbull"
Subject: Re: TODO extension for source code and Emacs
To: tlug (Tokyo Linux Users Group)
Date: Wed Jan 18 14:17:40 2006 +0800

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Wells (ijw) writes:

    Ian> Actually I was hoping for something that understood
    Ian> todo-lists (i.e. allowed you to tick stuff off and add
    Ian> unrelated items) but I think I may be fantasising.

(a) [the helpful answer] Find Sacha Chua (TLUG denizen), this is up
her alley.

Will write a good reply on the plane.

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E-Mail from Stephen J. Turnbull

Call for participation: 2006 International Symposium on Wikis

January 20, 2006 - Categories: conference, research

This is totally, totally, totally sweet. I _must_ get into this.
Personal information management with wikis?


2006 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym 2006)

August 21-23, 2006, Odense, Denmark
Co-located with ACM Hypertext 2006
Sponsored by ACM SIGWEB

See http://www.wikisym.org/ws2006

Research paper submission deadline: April 15, 2006


The 2006 International Symposium on Wikis brings
together wiki researchers, practitioners, and
users. The goal of the symposium is to explore
and extend our growing community. The symposium
has a rigorously reviewed research paper track as
well as plenty of space for practitioner reports,
demonstrations, and discussions. Anyone who is
involved in using, researching, or developing
wikis is invited to WikiSym 2006! To learn more
about the Wiki Symposium, feel free to browse
last year's program
(http://www.wikisym.org/ws2005/program.html), the
(http://www.wikisym.org/ws2005/proceedings), and
its wiki (http://ws2005.wikisym.org). Information
about the 2006 program will be available at

We are seeking submissions for

 - research papers
 - practitioner reports
 - demonstrations
 - workshops
 - panels

Research paper and practitioner report
submissions as well as workshop proposals are due

 - April 15, 2006

Panel and demonstration submissions are due

 - May 1, 2006

Topics of interest to the symposium include, but are not limited to:

 - wikis as social software
 - wiki user behavior, user dynamics
 - wiki user experiences, usability
 - information dynamics in wikis
 - work group processes, wiki-based collaboration
 - reputation systems, quality assurance processes
 - wiki implementation experiences and technology
 - wiki administration, processes, dealing with abuse
 - wiki scalability, social and technical
 - wikis and the semantic web/ontologies, semantic wikis
 - domain-specific/special-purpose wikis
 - wikis in education


Research papers will be reviewed by the committee
to meet rigorous academic standards of
publication. Research papers are expected to
advance the state of the art by describing
substantiated new research or novel technical
results or by reporting on significant experience
or experimentation. They are reviewed both with
respect to conceptual quality and clarity of presentation.

Accepted research papers will be provided as part
of the conference proceedings. They will be put
into the ACM Digital Library and can be
referenced as papers that appeared in the
Proceedings of the 2006 International Symposium
on Wikis. At the symposium, the presenter will be
given a 25min + 5min Q&A presentation slot.
Research papers should not be longer than 10000
words and 20 pages and should meet the ACM SIG
Proceedings Format, see

Practitioner reports will be reviewed for
suitability of presentation to the community. The
primary evaluation criterion is the interest to
the community. Practitioner reports will be
provided as part of the conference proceedings
handed out at the symposium and can be referenced
as papers that appeared in the Proceedings of the
2006 International Symposium on Wikis as well.
Practitioner reports should not be longer than
6000 words and 12 pages and should meet the ACM SIG
Proceedings Format.

Demonstration, workshop, and panel submissions
will be reviewed for their interest to the
community. A submission should consist of two
pages describing what you intend to do and how
you meet this criterion. It should include a
100-word abstract and one-paragraph bios of all
people relevant to the submission. Demonstrations
will be presented in a joint demonstration
session, workshops will get a half-day or a
full-day and a room of their own (depending on
your request), and panels will get a 90min slot at the symposium.

Please submit your papers or proposals in PDF
format by the respective deadline through our
submission system, which will be available
through the WikiSym website. Questions should be
directed respectively at [email protected]
(research papers and practitioner reports),
[email protected] (workshops),
[email protected] (panels), or [email protected] (demonstrations).


The 2006 International Symposium on Wikis will be
held at the Radisson SAS H.C. Andersen Hotel in
Odense, Denmark, August 21-23, 2006. A special
(reduced) hotel rate has been negotiated. WikiSym
2006 will be co-located with the ACM Hypertext
2006 conference (back-to-back), and participants
may register for the symposium alone, or may
jointly register for WikiSym and Hypertext 2006.
Registration is handled through the ACM Hypertext website.

If you have any questions, please contact Dirk
Riehle through [email protected]


Dirk Riehle, Bayave Software GmbH, Germany (Symposium Chair)

Ward Cunningham, Eclipse Foundation, U.S.A.
Kouichirou Eto, AIST, Japan (Publicity Co-Chair)
Richard P. Gabriel, Sun Microsystems, U.S.A.
Beat Doebeli Honegger, UAS Northwestern Switzerland (Workshop
Chair) Matthias L. Jugel, Fraunhofer FIRST, Germany (Panel
Chair) Samuel J. Klein, Harvard University, U.S.A. Helmut
Leitner, HLS Software, Austria (Publicity Co-Chair) James
Noble, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
(Program Chair) Sebastien Paquet, Socialtext, U.S.A.
(Demonstrations Chair) Sunir Shah, University of Toronto,
Canada (Publicity Co-Chair)


James Noble, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
(Program Chair)

Ademar Aguiar, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Robert Biddle, Carleton University, Canada
Amy Bruckman, Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
Alain Désilet, NRC, CNRC, Canada
Ann Majchrzak, University of Southern California, U.S.A.
Frank Fuchs-Kittowski, Fraunhofer ISST, Germany
Mark Guzdial, Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
Dirk Riehle, Bayave Software GmbH, Germany
Robert Tolksdorf, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

E-Mail from Mark Chignell

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CookOrDie: Champorado cheating and arroz-caldo antics

January 20, 2006 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

I prepared champorado and arroz-caldo today, from the mixes.
Arroz-caldo is probably too light for a packed lunch unless I pack
three or so regular servings, but it’s good for merienda. The dried
ginger used in the instant arroz caldo was pretty strong!

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Chinese cooking and diabolo

January 22, 2006 - Categories: cooking, life

This weekend seems to be for Graduate House socializing. The smell of
rice wine and soy sauce still sticks to me, a souvenir from the
Chinese cooking workshop at 5:00 yesterday afternoon. In the evening,
I performed a very short demo of the diabolo as part of the talent
show. Everyone liked it. I did it to the tune of Jeux D’ Enfants from
the Alegria soundtrack. The audio cable my dad gave me proved very,
very useful. =)

Oh, and I bought myself cute tights. Very 60s. I also wore The Skirt.
Kathy knows which one that is.

ARGH! I forgot to ask someone to take my picture.

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Sorting my clothes

January 22, 2006 - Categories: organization

I organized my under-bed drawers, dividing the tops into:

  • red, somewhat dressy tops
  • casual tops
  • dressy tops
  • everything else

and the bottoms into:

  • skirts
  • casual bottoms
  • slacks
  • really-casual bottoms

With that and the combinations I’ve set out in the closet, I think
I’ve gotten my clothes under control now. We’ll see how long this

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Taming the TODO

January 25, 2006 - Categories: presentation

I gave a presentation on Taming the TODO for the New to Linux Users
Group. It was a very small session, just five people in the audience,
but worth giving anyway. I learned more about the topic as I presented
it, and people enjoyed my enthusiasm. =)

(PDF, OpenOffice.org 2.0)

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Metadata class

January 25, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The metadata class was okay. The professor doesn’t just read off the
slides. She tells stories sometimes, too. I’m glad that we don’t have
too many oral presentations, though… <laugh> My classmates
were informative, but tended to read off the slides.

Scopus – scholarly search on steroids

January 25, 2006 - Categories: research

I am totally in love with Scopus. Try using it to search for scholarly papers. It pwns Google Scholar for structured search. ;)

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Who Moved My Oatmeal?

January 25, 2006 - Categories: Uncategorized

My oatmeal has gone missing. I really, really, really should’ve
scribbled my name on it.

I wrote a note on my receipt (thank goodness I keep records!) asking
if anyone had seen my open paper pack of quick-cooking oatmeal. A
Post-it addendum apologized if I’d been unknowingly taking from
someone else’s supplies and asks that I be informed so that I can
check with the supermarket or just absorb the loss and buy another
pack. A third Post-it note added that if people had been mistaking my
oatmeal for the intact one-minute oatmeal buried behind the brown
sugar on someone else’s shelf, then no problem, but please stop moving
my oatmeal.

Life is too complicated for 8:00 in the morning.

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A waste of mangoes

January 25, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

<sigh> I miss the Philippines and mangoes that ripen beautifully.
I tried one of the mangoes today, and it wasn’t sweet. I should’ve
checked the others regularly.

Next time: put them all in the fruits compartment instead of leaving
them out (remember, indoor heating makes it _warmer_ than home!), and
check them every day.

If I find a proper mango here, I’m going to splurge on getting it.

Return of the Oatmeal

January 26, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

My oatmeal returned sans receipt and note. I feel mildly justified. =)
I want my receipt back, but I think that leaving another note would be

Wild on winter

January 28, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

The free fireworks show at Nathan Phillips Square was totally awesome,
and dragging friends out there was a terrific idea. Thanks to Steve,
Stefan and Mike for humoring me on such short notice! =) Too bad James
couldn’t make it, but he definitely wanted to join us next time.

(I really, really should make a password-protected wiki to help my
friends and family back home keep all these people straight in their
heads. =) )

Wish the JGL could’ve been there. I miss my friends from home! But
it’s nice making sure that the other students enjoy Toronto as well.
I’ve figured it out. I might just stay in my room and surf if I’m by
myself, but now that I know that people out there are like that and
won’t get to experience Toronto well unless I drag them
out… <grin>

I prepared some hot chocolate for my friends as we chatted in the
common room. I showed them the airmail packet and told them how my mom
sent me the chocolate with hankies and lots of love when she heard how
homesick I was. They all went “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…”

And my reading is going well, too! Now that I’ve figured out that I’m
interested in “communities of practice”, I’ve turned up a _gazillion_
papers to read about knowledge management and the spread of
information… I really like writing my thoughts down in that
notebook, and I’m starting to get enough material to want to write a
blog post or mini-lit-search on knowledge management in communities of
practice. Another interesting topic would be inferencing communities
from bookmarks and other shared resources. Anyway, we’ll see.

The temperature may be going down, but life is looking up.

Ong Bak

January 30, 2006 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I can’t believe I decided not to watch Ong Back in the theater. It’s
hilarious! It’s a lot bloodier than the other martial arts films I
like, but the chase sequence in the first half of the film is comedy

Heh. I remember Sean’s blog post…

The Love of Don Perlimplin and Belisa in the Garden

January 30, 2006 - Categories: life

I was thinking of watching the magic show that’s part of the Winter
City festival, but it rained all day today. Gloomy skies and cold
winds are really not fun! I headed out anyway to watch a
pay-what-you-can show at a theater on campus: Federico Garcia Lorca’s
“The Love of Don Perlimplin and Belisa in the Garden.”

It is a story of a love so strong that it ends in death, a favorite
theme of playwrights (and pretty much everyone else) carried off with
a touch of comedy. I figured out how it was going to end halfway
through, and cried a bit even before the actors played it out.
Yes, I’m such a softie.

Good experience. I should keep my eyes open for other plays.


January 31, 2006 - Categories: social

Check out Gibbity, a way for gamers to
list their favorites and find other people into those games.

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