Headlines for Saturday:



1. I've got music... - Hosting dinner parties: 01:07

Apologies to Gershwin: I've got music, I've got rhythm, I've got my plates - who could ask for anything more?

Some former suitemate of mine has apparently left a CD player. That rocks. Now I can totally host dinner parties. =)

Let's schedule one for Sunday. This forces me to tidy things up and learn a new recipe.

Mmkay. Sounds like a plan. Let's pick a couple of people who are bound to have interesting stories...

Random Japanese sentence: 猫を殺すにも方法はいろいろある。 There's more ways than one to kill a cat.

2. Think! Friday: 01:39

One of the things I like about IBM is the Think! Friday initiative, which encourages people to use their Friday afternoons to learn about something new.

My job is to think all the time--ah, the life of a grad student!--and Think!Friday gives me that additional impetus to go out there and do something.

A few Think!Fridays ago was Hack Day, an ad-hoc 5-hour hackathon across IBM. I built a social discovery web application that took a list of e-mail addresses, names, Lotus Notes mail IDs and even community IDs. Given a list of people, the tool displayed the latest three blog headlines and bookmarks for people who used the internal blogging and bookmarking services. I'd been meaning to build it for a few weeks, and thanks to the enthusiastic Hack Day vibe, I finally made the time to hack it all together.

Fast forward to today. IBMers voted on their favorite Hack Day hacks. Mine won Best Mashup! That made me ridiculously happy. It was a simple hack--most of the time was spent writing libraries to interact with IBM's services and figuring out how to resolve different kinds of names--but it turned out to be quite useful for finding people. Throwing it all together in Ruby was a lot of fun, too. Ruby makes my brain happy.

Hack Day was a terrific way for me to meet a lot of other early adopters and geeks within IBM. We presented our hacks in two teleconferences, and that was awesome.

Today, I decided to deal with some of the other little projects I'd been meaning to do. I set up RSS2Email (Python) and made it easier for people to have comments on their blog e-mailed to them. Again, a simple hack (took me a leisurely hour or so)--but I think it will have a lot of benefit. I also wrote a little Ruby script that summarized my bookmarks in bloggable form. Happy!

I like days like this a lot. I like sensing the need for a little tool and writing that tool. I like being in the zone, trying things out, geeking out, creating something useful...

Happy girl. =)

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Random Japanese sentence: この鼠は私の猫に殺されました。 This mouse was killed by my cat.

3. Google Trends: 01:58

Interesting conversation on the plug-misc mailing list. Mark Anthony C. Delfin wrote:

On 7/22/06, Daniel Escasa wrote:
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols plays with Google Trends (http://www.google.com/trends) to see what countries Linux is popular. Some excerpts:
Philippines is also on the top 4 for ubuntu. Top 3 for asterisk. Top 7 for mysql. Top 5 for postgresql. And also top 1 on the word corruption :(

E-Mail from Mark Anthony C. Delfin

Random Japanese sentence: 私達は、その猫をたまと名付けた。 We named the cat Tama.

4. The best birthday gifts: 12:47

What do you give people on their birthdays? People struggle so much with that question, often giving up and grabbing the first gift-ish thing they see at the store and accompanying that with a few scribbled words on a Hallmark card.

It's always been hard to think of what to give my parents. They can get anything they want. My father, in particular, is not the kind of guy who will wait for an occasion in order to give himself something. When he sees something he likes - or something that we'll like - he just goes out and gets it.

Ideally a gift-thing would be what people would love but never think of getting for themselves. How deeply you must know someone in order to do that! I still don't feel that I know my dad enough to second-guess his wallet. ;) I'd rather give him something he can't buy: memories.

I think memories are the best birthday gifts of all. You can create new memories by spending time with people and being completely present for them. You can share old memories by telling people stories about how they touched your life. You can help make future memories by listening to their dreams.

Birthdays are perfect times to think about the past year and imagine the next. As natural milestones, they give you a chance to reflect on the meaning of your life in the company of good friends. Unlike on New Year's Day, the celebrant does not have to share the spotlight with other people. Birthdays are a good excuse for people to gather those who are close to their heart and celebrate them, in turn being celebrated by them.

The best birthday gifts I've ever received? Letters, without a doubt. One of my treasures is a clearbook of the letters I received on the occasion of my 21st birthday, when I was leaving for Japan. Whenever I flip through it, warm and fuzzy feelings wrap me, and I remember the laughter and love of friends.

For my 22nd birthday, I asked my friends to write their two-year plans and a short letter on some 3x5 index cards. Although my friends good-naturedly groused about it being the _only_ party they'd ever gone to that had _seatwork_, they wrote - and this deck of dreams is something that I flip through on occasion to remind me that people care.

For my 23rd birthday this August 12, I don't want to receive any gifts. I want memories, stories, dreams. Write me a letter or record a podcast or capture it on video. Tell me a story about how I've touched your life, and these warm thoughts will sustain me through winter and hot chocolate days. Tell me a story that reveals who _you_ are and who you want to be, and that will deepen our friendship. Tell me of your dreams and that will help me help you build your future.

Send my parents a thank-you note, too. After all, my _mom_ did all the hard work on my birthday... <laugh> What parents wouldn't like to hear about how wonderful their son or daughter is?

Know anyone whose birthday is coming up? Put away that credit card and send some memories instead! =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫はミルクを全部飲んでしまったの、とメアリーはたずねました。 Mary asked if the cat had drunk all of the milk.

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  9. Dan Howard, Ian Garmaise, Simon Rowland: Dinner party Sunday July 23 7:00 PM?
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  12. Mama: Re: sachawiki: 2006.07.21
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