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Happy BlueDay to me!

Posted: - Modified: | career, yearly

Today is my one-year anniversary at IBM! Yes, I know, I’ve been on the IBM network for a couple of years now, but I was a graduate student then, and before that, I taught university-level computer science. This is my first year outside the academe and my first year working with IBM, so I’m going to take this opportunity to look back, celebrate what I’ve learned, and celebrate the people who made this possible.

Over the past year, I’ve grown tremendously as a developer. I learned how to develop on the Drupal content management platform, and I’ve contributed back to some of the modules we’ve used. Applying the principle of relentless improvement, I invested time in setting up unit tests and functional tests, creating build and deployment tools, integrating the tests into the deployment script, and managing multiple branches of source code. I also acted as the system administrator for our project, developing installation scripts, setting up multiple testing and production environments, and keeping them running. I’m a much better developer now than I was one year ago. I’m looking forward to growing even more. Thanks go to Robert Terpstra and Ted Tritchew, who arranged my first Drupal project; Jennifer Nolan, who worked with me on my first and second Drupal projects, and from whom I learned a lot; Daniel Kumm and Kamran Khan, who gave me that second Drupal project where I learned how to really rock it; Stefan Nusser and the other Drupal-using folks in IBM; Waclaw Ferens, whose CSS skills helped me avoid the frustration of cross-browser coding and just focus on the code I really liked to do; and the tons of open source developers out there who shared not only their code but also their insights on how coding can be done better. Yay!

I also grew a lot as a speaker. This year, most of my presentations were about Web 2.0, Gen Y, or social networking. While helping another IBMer, I stumbled across a distinctive personal style of hand-drawn illustrations that resonated with people. Applying that style, I won a category prize in’s worldwide Best Presentation Contest, delighted senior-level clients, and helped many people think of IBM as just a little bit cooler and more creative. I’ve spoken at numerous conferences and delivered part of two keynote speech, one of which was in front of 700 people. I’ve delivered remote presentations that informed and energized people. I’ve participated on panels, facilitated workshops and brainstorming sessions, and even helped organize conferences. I’ve presented to fellow new hires and to IBM’s technical leaders, to internal teams and to our clients. Presenting teaches me a lot about a topic, and I enjoy making things easier to understand. I’m looking forward to even more presentations, particularly when that intersects with my consulting. Thanks go to all the people who gave me opportunities to speak and to learn from other people, to my manager for being fairly liberal when it came to travelling to speak at conferences, and to the wonderful people who listened to what I had to share (and especially to those who gave me a high rating afterwards ;) ). Particular thanks go to Laurie Friedman, who nudged me to figure out a way to explain to Gen Yers coming out of college that Web 2.0 _does_ work at work.

I haven’t been doing as much Web 2.0 consulting and coaching as I’d like, but I’ve been able to help a few clients learn more about Web 2.0, incorporate the concepts into their strategy, and learn how to use these tools more effectively. My youth and my lack of industry experience means that many clients and account teams feel more comfortable with the more senior consultants on my team. However, I occasionally get to offer a Gen Y perspective, pitch in for others, or help with background work such as doing industry scans, brainstorming ideas, or capturing the discussion. I’m good at that work, though, and I can see how it adds value. I also help connect the dots, bringing opportunities into my team and helping my team members find resources throughout the company. I can get even better at this by exposing myself to more ideas, by exploring clients’ interest in Gen Y and collaboration, and by developing marketing materials for my team. Thanks go to Aaron Kim for getting me into this terrific opportunity and for encouraging me at every step of the way; Robert Terpstra, for giving it a try and bringing together this team; Bernie Michalik and Jennifer Nolan, for guidance and good examples; Jenny Chang and Tom Plaskon, for helping our team grow; Jennifer Okimoto, Pauline Ores, Kathryn Everest and all the others who sent insights and opportunities our way; the account teams we’ve worked with; and the clients who figured we had something good to share. (And we do!)

I’ve helped a number of IBM communities, teams, and individuals. Again, I’ve not been able to do as much as I’d like (still no New Bee’s Cartoon Guide to Web 2.0 at Work), but I’ve tried to make sure that people could reuse as much as possible. Next year, I’d like to not only help put together that guide for new hires, but also make it part of the new employee orientation process, link it up with all the new hire groups and campus hire groups, and set up mentoring and reverse mentoring relationships among many people. Thanks go to the totally awesome Web 2.0 evangelists; people all over IBM who are interested in learning about these new tools and who keep us busy; to the new hire network AS Foundations which made IBM feel even more welcoming; to the new hire networks and the other people around the world that I’ve had the pleasure to reach; and to everyone who, through blogs, other social computing tools, e-mail, or instant messaging, shared their insights with me and mentored me.

I’ve been really lucky to learn from and share what I’m learning with lots of people. I’ve not only been able to post chunks of what I know, but also learn from other people’s contributions and get a sense of the value I’ve created and passed on to others. I’m thrilled that I’m one of the top contributors, and I’d love to help more people contribute there and on our other tools.

It hasn’t been a perfect year. I’ve seen a number of my mentors and role models leave for other companies, and that frustrates me. I’ve heard some of the difficulties encountered by fellow new hires and experienced IBMers, and that frustrates me, too. On the plus side, I’ve been glad to share my energy and enthusiasm with lots of people, and I’m glad I’ve helped some of the people I look up to remember why they enjoy their work. Many people have returned the favor, including David Singer, who shared a great perspective on the bigger picture.

When things get really bad, there’s always getting a hug from my partner. He’s awesome. And we have a cat who loves giving massages. My parents and I have worked out the distance thing, I think. People in IBM are amazing, too, and there are even more people and things outside IBM helping me find energy and happiness when I have one of those maybe-I-should-start-my-own-company days. ;)

And of course, there’s so much more I won’t be able to fit into this already-long blog post… but thanks. =)

What an amazing year. I’m looking forward to the next one. I would love to keep myself booked doing things I love: developing quick community sites using Drupal and other open-source platforms, helping people learn more about Web 2.0, brainstorming ideas, developing strategy, designing and implementing systems, and coaching people and groups.

There are also a number of things I’d like to help do in order to help make IBM a better place. I want to see the campus hire and new hire networks around the world linked up (maybe even recognized as a formal diversity group?) so that we can share resources, get representation, and make it easy for people to bounce ideas off us. I want to help put together different guides to Web 2.0 at Work that can be incorporated into the new employee orientation process or into the community-building cookbook. I want to put together a set of conference social networking tools that’ll help people make the most of those face-to-face or virtual get-togethers. I want to teach everything I’ve learned (or at least capture it somehow) so that I can understand it better, so that I can share it with others, and so that I can go and learn even more. There are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s plenty of time, and there are plenty of people who are passionate about similar things who can help make it happen.

At the end of it all, I want to be someone who’s contagiously happy: someone who loves her life _and_ her work, someone who helps other people be happy with their life and their work, and someone who’s making a difference in people’s lives. I’m already like that, on a small scale, and I look forward to growing.

So that’s what my year’s been like (fantastic!), and that’s what my next year will probably look like. Why am I sharing all of this with you? Not just because I’m patting myself on the back – although I literally do that even for small victories, as it’s fun to celebrate the small things… Here’s why:

  • There’s so much to share and not enough time to share everything, so if you’ve come across something I know that you’d like to know as well – ping me or leave a comment!
  • I’d love it if you spent some time reflecting on your year, too. What did you learn? What did you get better at? What do you want to do next? Who do you want to become?
  • I want to help other people have this kind of an amazing year. What would it take? How wonderful can it be?
  • And hey, if you know what I’m good at and what I’m interested in, maybe you’ll think of me next time an interesting opportunity comes your way. =) Share what you’re interested in too, and I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for you!

Thanks for an amazing year. Let’s see what the next one can be like. I’ll keep you posted!

(UPDATE: Fixed HTML tags. Teeheehee!)

Year in review: Life as a 24-year-old

Posted: - Modified: | life, yearly

I’m turning 25 in a little over a week. Birthdays are a terrific opportunity to look backward and look forward–what I’ve done, how I’ve grown, and what I want to do or be next. I’ll be celebrating my birthday in the Philippines, among family and my oldest friends. But I’d also like to celebrate my birthday with you, as through my blog, you’ve shared my journey too.

The blog makes it easy to review the year. So, how am I different from the person I was in August 2007?

There were three major changes in my life, all related to each other.

The first is my relationship with W-, which began in March 2008 and is now such a core part of my life. I can’t say enough good things about it without sounding like a Hallmark card.

The second major change is the transition from the academe to the industry: I finished my master’s degree and joined IBM Canada as a technology evangelist and application developer.

The third major change followed naturally from the first two: instead of going home to the Philippines, I’ll be in Canada for a while. Because of W-, I chose not to return to the Philippines after the completion of my studies, and because of my work, I had the means to support myself here. This change was the most challenging, but I’m sure it will work out somehow.

Along the way, I learned how to sketch, cook, defend myself, do yoga, drive in winter, make it across the monkey bars, go on the static and flying trapezes, grow a herb garden, script virtual worlds, manage my retirement investments, survive the conference circuit, dictate to the computer, inspire my colleagues, share thoughts about my generation, develop with Drupal, and connect with amazing people.

I’ve grown as a person. I’ve learned a lot about love. I’ve learned a lot about fighting for what I feel and building bridges after the storms. I’ve learned about the wonder and delight one can feel in ordinary things. I’ve learned about the kind of person I can be.

I’ve grown as a writer, speaker, and developer. I’ve learned about how writing fits into my life. I’ve learned about my personal style of presenting (interactive, enthusiastic, practical). I’ve learned about configuration management, testing, and all sorts of tweaks to make my development environment a better fit for me. I’ve shared what I’ve learned along the way.

What will the next year be like?

I’m looking forward to deepening my relationship with W- and seeing what another year of shared experiences will bring us. I’d like to get better at connecting with friends and family. I hope to get an even clearer idea of how I can contribute professionally, and to do so. I’d like to explore other ways to work and live more fully.

Here are some of my measurable goals for the next year. By August 2009, I’d like to be able to look back and say that I’ve:

  • completed a book on Emacs (whether published by No Starch Press or self-published)
  • increased my reach and responsibilities at and outside work
  • completed my paperwork for the permanent residency application (Canadian experience class?)
  • continued to donate 10% of my income
  • continued to save at least 50% of my income
  • developed another income source aside from salary, interest, and index growth
  • learned how to cook at least 20 new recipes

Join me as I figure more things out! =)

A fantastic year

Posted: - Modified: | yearly

Every year is better and better. This year was more intense and
tumultuous than the last, filled with challenges and accomplishments
and new opportunities. I growed a lot, too. It was painful,
particularly coming to terms with the very real stress that travel and
distance can put on relationships. But it’s the kind of pain that
forces you to keep growing, and I’m looking forward to next year and
the years after that.

The key lesson I learned this year was that of finding my own
happiness. Not that I’ve figured everything out—no, I have a long way
to go. But I’m getting better at making my own decisions and standing
up for them; not accepting just what everyone else accepts, instead
reaching for more; and also being open to the experiences and insights
of other people around me—open, but selective.

This year, I felt the limits of books and magazine articles. Some of
the things I think about, some of the things I deal with… I can’t
find best practices. I can’t find research. I just have to keep
figuring things out until I get deeper insights that connect to lots
of other people’s experiences.

I’ll share some of my goals for next year in another blog post.
I know it will be an amazing year. =)

Random Emacs symbol: message-subscribed-address-functions – Variable: *Specifies functions for determining list subscription.

Reflections on 2005

Posted: - Modified: | emacs, yearly

This year saw me in three countries: Japan, Philippines, and Canada.
On the surface level, I learned about a fair number of things: Jakarta
Struts, Ruby, engineering psychology and human performance…

Other things I learned:

  • I love writing. One article in the Linux Journal resulted
    in dozens of e-mail. My column in Computerworld On Campus got a lot of
    feedback from students whose lives I'd touched (even if only lightly).
    My weekly posts on get feedback, too. I love writing. I
    can affect people through it. What took me so long?

  • I need people. This was the year that my current barkada
    really came together. The year started with the Digital Pinay fiasco,
    which was how Clair and I really got to know each other. The year also
    saw Slycesoft developments and our little triumphs and crises. I'm
    also very glad I have Dominique and my family. =) With them, the
    future looks even better.

  • I have much, much more to learn about the working world.
    If I could do one thing over this year, it would be that span
    of time at a company in Cebu. Looking back, I can see how I could've
    been more politically sensitive. It was a valuable lesson, and one
    I'll keep in mind.

  • I want—no, _need_—to make a difference. =)
My biggest challenge for 2005: graduate school

My biggest challenge was adapting to graduate school. I found it
difficult to be motivated and confident. I had a really bad attack of
the impostor syndrome that made me almost quit my teaching
assistantship because I felt I was doing the students such a
disservice by teaching something I didn't really know. The students
reassured me, my professor and the previous teaching assistant helped
me, and even the assistant department chair called me in and
half-scolded, half-encouraged me.

The engineering psychology and human performance class was
interesting, too. The lab reports really helped me review statistics,
and I enjoyed writing. If I could do one thing differently, I wish I
had kept my new-found study habits instead of getting frustrated in
lectures. I used to read ahead, but I found it difficult to pay
attention in class, so I ended up just reading afterwards. Maybe
graduate-oriented classes will be more engaging.

Searching for a good project was also very difficult. My research
supervisor and I went through so many ideas. Because I didn't have a
clear research question in mind, I felt adrift and frustrated. I
wasn't sure if graduate school was worth the opportunity cost. I'm
happy now, though. We've found something that not only fits in with
our short- and medium-term goals, but also helps me with my long-term
goals. I think social search provides interesting possibilities,
particularly if we can make it much easier to do, much more
mainstream. I'm curious about whether we can make it easy to filter by
multiple networks, too. I still feel a little guilty about not having
completed my reading paper, but I resolve to turn in an absolutely
wonderful one next term! =)

I think the secret to life is being fully in the present, wherever I
am. I'm looking forward to throwing myself into the metadata course
when I get back to Canada, and I'm setting aside time to read papers
while on vacation.

Best memories for 2005

Listening to my family's stories. Chasing horses and ice cream carts
while learning photography. Hanging out with my friends. Geek lurv.
(Hi Dominique! Hi Clair and JM! Hi Paolo and Kris! Hi Marcelle and
Gin! ;) ) Digital Pinay smackdown. Long phone calls and Skype
sessions. Cryptograms. Graduate House people and activities. New
friends and old friends. =)

Goals for 2006

  • Read more. I want to read at least a book a week and a
    scholarly paper a day.

  • Write more. I want to write a scholarly paper. I want to
    continue writing articles for magazines. I want to post thoughtful
    pieces on my blog more often. =)

  • Study more. I want to make my department glad they took a
    chance on me. =)

  • Do more. I want to lay the groundwork so that I have an idea of
    what to do after my master's degree.

  • Live more. I want to make more friends in the Philippines and
    in Canada. I want our barkada to grow—fresh blood! =)—and I want to
    find a group of people I can hang out with in Canada.

  • Be more. I want to make a difference (even a small one!) at
    least every week.

Resolutions for 2004

Posted: - Modified: | yearly
  • Speak slower and lower.
  • Check requirements within 3 days.
  • Log all of my expenses in plain text in Emacs so that I get forced to develop a ledger mode.
  • Journal every day. 23:00 – 23:30 is my journaling time. Drop everything and write (unless have earlier substantial journal
  • Visit at least one new website related to computer science education every day.
  • Play at least one game of chess a week.
  • Chat with friends at least once a week in order to swap stories and get ideas.

Plans for 2004

  • Visit AU and NZ during the summer. Sit in classes, visit friends, meet professors.
  • Collect or compose at least 100 exercises, examples, and ideas for introductory computer science education.
  • Collect at least 30 CookOrDie recipes and stories into something publishable.
  • Apply for an MS or PhD program in computer science education or computer science.