Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Google!

Google is 9 or 10 years old this month, depending on who's history account one looks at.

This site dates it from the registration date of the domain "" on 15 September 1997; others, in its incorporation in September 7, 1998.

However, if we go to Google today, the no. 9 takes the place of the lower case 'g'. Anyhow, our internet lives have been made so much easier Googling just about anything, fulfilling its mission statement: to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Happy birthday, Google. Hope to see my nieces and nephews grow up still Googling. :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

He's for real, your honors.

ONE OF THE OBVIOUS REQUIREMENTS to being elected in the Philippines these days is the ability to keep oneself within the range of media. Usually, like for a senator, one does not need to say something enlightening or brilliant or something full of wisdom. As long as one is quoted, no matter how incongruous or convoluted, his or her aim is to fulfill a Warholian statement declared in the days when statesmanship was what made certain individuals different from those who voted them into office.

The basic qualifications of an elected Philippine official

Not even being awash with cash is enough to get one elected, if one does not have these prerequisites:

grand·stand [gran-stand, grand-] noun, verb, -stand·ed, -stand·ing, adjective (From


1. the main seating area of a stadium, racetrack, parade route, or the like, usually consisting of tiers with rows of individual seats.
2. the people sitting in these seats.
–verb (used without object)
3. to conduct oneself or perform showily or ostentatiously in an attempt to impress onlookers: The senator doesn't hesitate to grandstand if it makes [his/]her point.
4. situated in a grandstand: grandstand seats.
5. having a vantage point resembling that of a grandstand: From our office windows on the third floor, we had a grandstand view of the parade.
6. intended to impress an onlooker or onlookers: a grandstand catch.
[Origin: 1835–45; grand + stand]

—Related forms
grandstander, noun Unabridged | Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.(v 1.1)

From Apple box

Apple box
The term apple box, or apple crate, is used in the production of film or photography to indicate a mobile box or platform sturdy enough to support weight. The generally accepted dimensions for an apple box are 12" × 8" × 20" (30 × 20 × 50 cm), though they may vary by three to five inches (around 10 cm) in any direction. Any insignificant deviation in size does not disclude an object from being an apple box, though significantly smaller or larger items may be termed a "half-apple," "quarter-apple" or sometimes "double apple." An "eighth-apple" is sometimes called a pancake or a lift.

The very first apple boxes were simple crates used in apple orchards, the modern variety should not be confused with the crates used in modern orchards as they vary in size up to a four-foot cube.

Towards the end of the Marcos administration, too many voices emerged, perhaps the result of decades of silence. Ironically, the loudest still came from Marcos himself and his followers at the time, criticising the gender and capability of his last political opponent. Totally nonsensical. Then came other voices during the Aquino era, some of which were too loud and angry it resulted in the silence of innocent civilians. Following that came yet a cacophony of mostly hoots and cackles when, from the rat holes, emerged a plethora of discordant personalities.

The political landscape changed since then. No longer was the apple box sufficient in airing one's view. It used to be that one only needed to stand on a makeshift box or a bench to get people to listen because there was a lot of truth from the sayer. The bigger the arena became, though, the more the listeners had to strain to hear the facts and understand the real meaning of what was being said. Now, even a grandstand has become inadequate for the posturings of our honorable senators.

The Proactive Choice
Somebody in my Mac forum said that he took the proactive choice of turning off television and turning to his computer to save him the inanities of Philippine media and personalities. Not only do I agree with him, I, too, have done the same years ago. Rather, I since stayed away from local TV as much as I could after the hoopla of EDSA 2 had died.

Just how hopeless it seems the Philippine political situation is is evident in these televised proceedings. In particular, a ruthless former police general, a mustached ham actor, a former anti-Marcos personality who seems to be on the verge of senility, a neophyte lawmaker who seeks the limelight and loves to be shoved the microphone for his shallow one-liners, are all addressed 'your honor' by their guest resource-speakers. Now, the only reason they are ever honorable is because they shouted the loudest to the masses and got their votes in return. And they made the loudest noise so that the masses will forget that they were once involved in some bloody trangression, were in some badly scripted, badly acted film flops (and who, without an inherited name and form could not have made it in two sectors by himself); have flitted from one party to another or were simply flip-flopping mouthpieces. I sincerely hope 'sir' or 'madam' would suffice and they drop 'your honor' altogether, but they bask and wallow in this self-indulging privilege they will most likely keep it that way.

Anyway, I guess my mistake was turning on the television today to watch the proceedings of a controversial investigation. (Heck, if it weren't controversial, there wouldn't be an investigation to start with.) Anyway, I did watch not because I wanted to hear 'the truth', as those conducting the hearing repeatedly utter with abuse, but to be reaffirmed that the man of the hour they had so wanted to grill will hold up to their senseless questioning.

Professor, Director, Secretary

The hearing's man of the hour was the elusive Romulo Neri, a professor, author, economist and now cabinet secretary.

Anyway, this space wasn't created to flame anyone or squeal on clients or personalities my group and I come into contact with, but I would like to say that I've had the pleasure of working with Prof. Neri on his first book "Economics and Public Policy" in 2001 when he was still with the Congressional Planning and Budget Office (CPBO) of the House of Representatives. I did not know him before that nor knew that such an office existed. We first met at his room at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) for the initial briefing of his manuscript which was already published by the House. It wasn't yet a book as we know it, though; rather, it was a bound collection of sheets of paper done in Microsoft Word© to be published by the AIM intended for a wider readership.

Well, 'pleasure of working' it really was not. The process was quite tedious as Prof. Neri, it turns out, was obsessive-compulsive about retaining as much of the original form, i.e. the Word© version, and I was not to mess with (read: 'beautify') the graphs and charts at all, if I could help it; needless to say I had some lecture on the nuances of these charts and other graphics. He was also very particular with retaining the margins, paragraphs and typeface of the original that it came to the point of me questioning whether our group's services as designers and publications consultants were needed at all. He was also very particular with sticking to the budget at all costs.

Prof. Neri is a stickler for time and rules. He initially struck me as a serious post-graduate professor with no interests outside of putting things in order (his small room was quite chaotic and we had to make do with whatever available table space there was, twice), dealing with students' defenses or running to the next meeting. As the project was underway, it became difficult to get a meeting with him because he was juggling schedules and was always either at a forum, in a meeting, a defense or a consultation in UP or AIM.

Prof. Neri initially looks like someone with a short attention span and as we got to know him, it turns out four or five other things were on his mind on top of the scheduled agenda, therefore, one does not waste his time. Once he focuses, however, one better be prepared. Turns out, too, he does have a good sense of humor.

And then there was the time when a particular printer won the bid for his book. This printer I wasn't very fond of because we had worked with others whose business is printing the real perfectly bound books, among others. I, in particular, could also be as close to the machine operator as possible especially when it came to running the colored pages and covers. But the winning bidder was a big printing house and, from experience, I'd be passed on from one AE to the next just to get a schedule for proofing or running, etc. I also had an issue with the way their colors came out, as Prof. Neri's book cover was to be in full color.

Anyway, the only thing that mattered to him was that AIM had conducted the bid, a printer had satisfied all their requirements and won it and we were to stick with it. All other concerns were dismissible, yet we were expected to still come up a good looking book. Tall order, that, especially from someone who, halfway into the project, we communicated with only by phone or through representatives and whose comments were written on the drafts or were relayed to us by someone else. When I did attempt to 'beautify' one graphic, I did get a call from him -- surprise! -- and he wasn't very pleased. Other than that, I wouldn't have been surprised if, as weeks passed working on his book, he would forget my name and I'd have to reintroduce myself.

Finally, months after, everything was satisfied (I wasn't with the book's cover), he was satisfied, AIM was satisfied and the book was set to launch. We missed that event, but, even if I, personally, had the chance, would've chosen not to go anyway because he was such a difficult person to work with. He was such an OC, so particular, and so going by the book, so to speak, that when the cover I made for him didn't come out the way I wanted I was so dissatisfied and it saddened me somewhat. Also, I knew from the start that the binding would fall apart in time despite my comparing the binding of others to that of the awarded printer's. But hey, he got the book and that's all that ever mattered, and we didn't hear him complain about anything besides that I came late -- twice -- to our meeting.

Then one day, a messenger came to our office to deliver three copies of "Economics and Public Policy". When my partners and I opened our copies, each was dedicated and signed. Much later, he left the CPBO to join government.

I honestly think no one in the roster of the senate, save perhaps Sen. Joker Arroyo, can lay claim to being consistently sensible and worth the voters' time. Secretary Neri, on the other hand, has since been the sensible voice in the government he chose to be part of, especially during its most trying moments. He does not seek media and does not feel the need to be in it. He knows what he says and has no time to be bluffing people. As in person, he says little but says a lot.

Your 'honors', get a hold of your senses, the ones your parents taught you, not the crap you feed the masses in the hope of getting their votes. Get down your high horses. Get real.

In the moments of suspension...
...the honorables fish for opinions
Sept. 26, 2007 10:09 a.m.

SENATE PRESIDENT: Sa kabuuan ba nito Sec. Neri, sa mga nangyayari na ngayon, naririnig n'yo lahat sa investigation natin lahat ng mga witnesses, lahat ng statements, sa palagay nyo ba, may nagsisinungaling dito sa nangyayaring ito ngayon?

MR. NERI: I'd rather, Mr. Chair, Your Honors, that you ask me direct questions as to the facts. My opinions are probably not as important as the statement of facts.
...or give their presumptuous verdict
SEN. LACSON: Sec. Neri, I believe you are a man of integrity...but I think you have missed your defining moment...

NERI: I will be the judge of that, Your Honor.
Hmm, serves the inquisitor right -- what arrogance! I assume any of them would've flunked Prof. Neri's classes if the tables were turned, plus bring home with them some lessons on humility and doing one's homework the right way.

You can make your guests look stupid all you want, your honors, but please, spare us the spectacle for when it backfires. And make sure if you shoot yourselves in the foot, that it does not happen in Luneta.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bip, you have spoken peace.

Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?
~ Marcel Marceau 1923-2007

Ah, September. Silencing yet another voice.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A lecture on living

One of things I sorely miss about being on campus is attending lectures, especially when my world expanded from the confined walls of my college to what the other courses and disciplines were offering.

I then evolved to being a lecture junkie, but not so much the type that I had to sit for as part of the semester's schedule and other such prerequisites. When my schedule became more loose as I stayed longer on campus, I found myself more and more attracted to talks and discussions of various topics hosted by other colleges and institutions: anthropological, socio-political, cultural, theater, music, and, of course, the arts.

The discussants, lecturers and moderators would become my friends, if they weren't to start with, and, sometimes, the lectures and discussions would continue on in such unlikely places as the campus hostel café over bottles of beer, or in corner stores or hidden campus shacks. More often, my friends and I found ourselves among these older 'men (and women) of wisdom' moving over to someone's living room or transferring to other joints just to finish the discussion: we were usually the only females in the group (if no 'women of wisdom' were around), generations younger and from a motley of courses and interests. In reality, no discussion actually ever ends that is to the satisfaction of anyone well beyond the empty beer bottles and plates of peanuts and chips.

However, when I physically got out of college (rather informally, that is; I have yet to really finish my course formally), I was more and more removed from the academic milieu. Occasionally, when the old group got together, we'd get to know about someone's paper that is yet to be presented, or about how mundane issues as 'language use' or how the 'insurgency problems' in other areas could have progressed into a more positive and productive way, or why an art exhibit debut bombed, not because of poor attendance, but because of poor concept or rationale. Sometimes, too, we'd be the imaginary audience to a lecture whose intended audience are yet to be gathered. And sometimes, yes, these get-togethers would be dashed with gossip as was usual. You see, not all lectures are straight and boring. Interesting behind-the-scenes developments ensue, with the most likely casualty being someone's ego.

Last year, by virtue of affinity and a freer schedule, I was fortunate to attend Dr. Shaidul Alam's first lecture at the ADMU campus on photojournalism. This activity was the first in a long while. It was a breath of fresh air — a clichĂ© I never thought I'd truly experience — from the intoxicating environment of corporate blah, of running after checks and presenting design drafts and layouts and, yes, petty local politics. Nothing beats attending lectures, especially if by men and women who add their life experiences to the agenda.

A few days ago, I came across yet another interesting lecture but this time on the internet. It is by Randy Pausch. As you can see, the venue for lectures and discussions has already transcended the physical auditorium of a campus to my living room thousands of miles across the globe.

Watching this recorded talk brought back memories in college both during and right after leaving it. Of course, the video no longer provides the intimacy of the usual lectures and the opportunity to ask or interact with the speaker and the audience. However, I have yet to come across — in real life, that is — a speaker as animated, funny and poignant as Randy Pausch.

Randy Pausch's last lecture

A few days ago, a member of my Mac forum posted a link about one's time of death which really was an online "Death Meter" questionnaire about health and eating habits, habitats and other such contributory factors to one's lifestyle vs. life span (my end is supposedly Jan. 12, 2045). But what if the results turn out to be shorter and more definite than the usual ones that were generated after one clicks submit ? And besides, who is Randy Pausch?

Randy Pausch is a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction and Design (computers). If you found CG Disney rides fun (I haven't tried any), think using Google's services a joy ride (I most certainly do) and think that VR technology is cool, thank Randy Pausch.

USC School of Engineering. Information Science Institute:
...He has consulted with Walt Disney Imagineering on the user interface design and testing of interactive theme park attractions, particularly for the "DisneyQuest" virtual-reality based theme park. He also consults with and on user interface issues...

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which has recurred, and is given just a few months to live.

From: Randy Pausch
Sent: Sat 9/8/2007 10:15 PM
Subject: my last lecture

To my friends and colleagues,
I have one last talk to give, and I would be greatly honored by your attendance. If distance does not permit, Carnegie Mellon will also be webcasting the talk. (details to follow).
Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you see fit; I believe the talk will be especially valuable for undergraduates.

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
Tuesday, Sept. 18th, 4:30pm McConomy Auditorium

Randy Pausch
Professor of Computer Science, HCII, and Design
Co-Founder, Entertainment Technology Center
Abstract Almost all of us have childhood dreams: for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. Sadly, most people don't achieve theirs, and I think that's a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I've actually achieved most of them. More importantly, I have found ways, in particular the creation (with Don Marinelli), of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center (, of helping many young people actually achieve their childhood dreams. This talk will discuss how I achieved my childhood dreams (being in zero gravity, designing theme park rides for Disney, and a few others), and will contain realistic advice on how you can live your life so that you can make your childhood dreams come true, too.

Well, thank you Randy Pausch, for sharing your positive energy to the world.

Full video (streamed; will open to video link):

Photo above is courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's article on Randy Pausch: CMU professor gives his last lesson on life
On YouTube, minus the introductions
His homepage

If you can download the video for offline viewing, it will be a better experience, like for lecture junkies such as myself. It's very funny, informative, bittersweet and kind of long at 10mins or so, but it's worth watching. :)

EDIT: The Post-Gazette's direct video download link for Mac in Quicktime format.

EDIT2 | Sunday, 12:08 am: The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) of which Dr. Pausch is co-founder and VP, will make the video available in two weeks' time. Please check out details from the ETC Global News here.
EDIT3 | Saturday, Sept. 29: Received an email from Dr. Indira Nair, Vice Provost for Education of the CMU of the availability of Dr. Pausch's full lecture which can be viewed here.

EDIT4 | Tuesday, Oct. 30: Thanks to fellow blogger health - pomegranate I am sharing this online, fun quiz On Randy Pausch's lecure.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Positive Power

There are those who, in life, inspires us to aspire, and who, in their passing, inspires us further to live our lives better.

Luciano Pavarotti's distinct, powerful voice recognized everywhere gave life to works composed lifetimes before him. Even if I do not understand the language, I am moved by the music.

In Anita Roddick's holistic work, the one which has the most impact on me, on the other hand, was giving her voice to those who do not have the facility to communicate vocally: speaking on behalf of the animals. Yes, Dame Anita, I know they thank you, too.

Image courtesy of The Age

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Your voice and joie de vivre will be missed. Grazie, il sig. Luciano, il Maestro. Riempia il cielo di vostra voce dolce.


Page Navigation