Category Archives: purpose

On technology and lifestyle

About my father

Perhaps he and I are more similar than we thought. I know I am cross
and irritable when my computer malfunctions, particularly when I need
it most, and profoundly grateful to those who help me restore it to a
working state. Yesterday it was my turn to rescue a computer, and at
no time have I been more grateful for the opportunity to be of help. I
saw my father’s face light up when the Vaio slept and woke at his
touch. I heard him laugh appreciatively as the Vaio chimed to indicate
an increase or decrease in volume. I felt the life flowing back into
him, the accustomed excitement returning to his voice. He lived,
loved, _was_ – and I was no longer afraid.

About passions

It is important to me to find a friend with similar dreams. I need
someone I can compete and cooperate with, someone who will help spur
me to heights of greatness. Hacking on Emacs is so much more fun when
I can tell stories about it – another reason why open source community
is so important to me. Trying to improve my teaching is easier when
there’s someone who’ll be ecstatic when I have great class days and
sympathetic when I wonder if we really make a difference.

I want international prominence, and by that I mean I want to
contribute to major projects and get to meet people who are really,
really into working with technology. I want to help people mix. I want
to promote technology. I want to promote _social_ technology,
technology that helps makes people’s lives better.

I thought about crossing fields and helping Eric out, but my heart’s
not really into graphics. I am, however, into funky devices, so am
exploring gesture-based Linux. wayv looks potentially useful, although
still a little raw. Last active development was 2001. Might go into
alternative input and output devices; close enough to my wearables

A little note about gadgets

I am not into gadgets for gadgets’ sake, and personally I find it hard
to understand why people are into the latest phones “just because”. I
don’t see technology as a way of separating myself from other people.
In fact, I prefer to see it as a way of connecting me to others. I
guess that’s why I prefer my unassuming headphones+audio getup to that
visually impressive but technologically aloof head-mounted display
that people like focusing on so much. With a HMD, other people focus
on technology. When technology disappears into the background, they
can focus on me – and I like that. ;) That’s why I take notes with my
computer under the table. My focus is on the other person, not on the

Imagining my future

Richi: Thank you for that long, well-thought reflection on being in
another country. =) Thanks to your insights, I don’t feel so much in
limbo any more.

Happiness is knowing that I am in the right place, at the right time,
doing the right thing.

When the fear of goodbyes clouds my vision of the future, friends,
remind me that I don’t have to know where I will be decades from now.
All I have to know is that at each step, I am following my heart, my
mind, and my conscience. Remind me not to feel guilty about my home
nor to be afraid of becoming part of the brain drain. If I live for
something greater than myself, then I belong to the world and not just
to my country.

If my path leads back to the Philippines, I will strive to do my best
there. If my path keeps me here in Canada for a while, then I will be
fully here, not anxiously awaiting my return. Life will take me where
I need to be.

I am here to learn as much as I can and to do whatever I can. If I am
to live here, even just for a while, I want to live for something
greater than myself. I want to be part of my community, wherever that
may be. I want to make a difference.

And even in this country, there are things I can do

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Random Japanese sentence: 強盗は屋根からあの邸宅に入ったに違いない。 The cat burglar must have entered the mansion from the roof.


I love studying in the common room. I like the floor-to-ceiling
windows facing the courtyard. I like the sun-drenched white walls and
the gently rippling water. I love the opportunity to encounter all
these interesting people in Graduate House.

Alejandro is one of the maintenance staff here. I first encountered
him and his co-worker when I was practicing billiards. They joked
about not wanting to play against me because I looked so serious, and
thereafter I smiled at them whenever I ran into them.

Today we chatted a bit more. He asked me what I was taking and where I
was from. Upon learning that I’m from the Philippines, he said a few
words in Tagalog. (Aww!) He also asked if I was planning to return or
stay in Canada, and I told him that I wasn’t sure yet. A PhD is
tempting, and so is work, but I miss my country.

He asked me what I was doing, and I told him about the reading paper
that I’m working on. “You should be outside,” he said. “It’s a
beautiful day. You can study until fwop,” and he mimed a clock’s
hands, “and then you can go dancing.” He proceeded to demo salsa,
merengue, and other Latin dances. And he knew how to dance really

A Spanish teacher in his native Chile, he found upon arriving in
Canada that few of his university credits would be honored and that
he’d have to start all over again. He said, “Forget it,” and started a
pizzeria. He worked hard for six years, but it folded and he was left
with a huge debt. Now he works at Graduate House to pay the bills.

I told him how even PhDs from developing coutries are often forced to
give up what they had trained to do, and how many people from the
Philippines go to other countries to find better opportunities but
don’t get further than being a domestic helper or a construction
worker, much less open a pizzeria. I said, “Well, at least you have
salsa…” He laughed.

Canada has its own little sorrows.

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.

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Rails pub night

I had tons of fun at the Toronto Rails pub night. Met some really cool people. =) Pictures to follow.
Finally got to listen to Joey de Villa (The Accordion Guy) play, and his stories about the perks of accordion-playing were absolutely hilarious. Also greatly enjoyed chatting with the other Rails geeks there… =) Totally, totally cool.

I love going to events like these because I not only get to meet
interesting people, but I also understand more about the social and
technological space we work in.

From the experiences of others, I also learn a little bit more about
what _I_ want to do. I’m starting to realize that my ideal life isn’t
one of teaching within the four walls of the classroom or the
four/five months of a term. I want to be out there, teaching really
diverse groups of people: schoolkids, seniors, entrepreneurs,
volunteers. I want to help people discover how to make the most of
technology. It isn’t just about teaching, either. In the process of
helping people discover something, I learn more about their needs and
opportunities for technologies to adapt to people (instead of just the
other way around!). That’s what I love about the stuff I’m doing at
IBM. It’s not just data crunching and visualization. I’m there because
I’m excited about trying new things _and_ bridging the gap for other
people. That requires speaking and writing skills, yes, but that also
requires deep listening skills, and I hope to learn all of those
really well. =)

If I’m going to go down this path, then – training, teaching,
mentoring, coaching, what-have-you – I’ll need more experience in
order to have more things in common with the people I want to teach.
For example, I care deeply about encouraging people in developing
countries to make their own opportunities, start their own business,
build interesting and useful things. If I’m going to help people
create opportunities, then I should immerse myself in the culture and
experience here so that I can share those things with them.

That sounds like a plan…

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Random Japanese sentence: すると、ねこが一匹もいなくなっていました。 They could not see a single cat! Suru to, neko ga ippiki mo inaku natte imashita.

Finding a niche

Enterprise social bookmarking. That’s what I’m into. Plenty of interesting questions and opportunities. It’s not going to be my main thing forever, but I’ve got an intuition that there’s still so much benefit to find in that space.

Also, technology evangelism. I can very much see myself doing tech
evangelism for the next ten, twenty years. For that one, I need to be
close to the people I train—but the world is changing, and it’s not
just North America any more. I wouldn’t mind being based in Asia, for
example… ;)

I like that more than serial startups. =) As for startups: I don’t
mind just convincing someone else to teach people how to get started.
I don’t have to teach it myself. I just have to connect people who
want to learn with people who can and want to teach…

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