Thursday, December 24, 2009

Many run, but who's run to save oneself?

Many people are into running now, but I bet only a few had run to save themselves. I had this kind of experience, more than 2 years ago. Running is experiencing a revival in my social circle, so this old blog entry (over at Multiply actually) is seeing a repost, with a few edits.

I had a dinner with some of my P&G colleagues in the G/F restaurant of 6750 (the one before Lolo Dad's), and after nice food and talk, I finally left for home at around 1030PM. I commuted home.

At the time of this event, I lived in San Nicolas Street, a few meters from Chinatown Steel Towers, the 28-storey building in Chinatown (of course). It was already 1130 by the time I got there.

To help visualize the path, I have to walk along the Asuncion street side of the Steel Towers, and make a left turn into San Nicolas Street where my house was located. Asuncion is a brightly lit street, San Nicolas is a darker street with many vehicles parked alongside.

As I turned the Asuncion-San Nicolas intersection, I noticed two men sitting on a stump near the intersection. Being naturally observant, I took a quick glance at them - one guy seemed to be sleeping and the other was looking blankly into space. They didn't seem to be dangerous. Anyhow, I walked past them and around the intersection, into the darker street.

I was now walking along San Nicolas. Have you ever experienced that at times you can somehow feel if someone's looking at you, or even following you? I got this weird feeling a few seconds after turning the corner, and trusting my instincts, I turned around a few seconds after.

And, I saw the guy who was staring into space at the intersection. He was walking silently behind, following me. He must have been following me for about five seconds already.

There was absolutely no one (awake) within my immediate vicinity. There were a few sleeping people, but they were behind a truck and couldn't see me. Even if they were awake, I'm pretty sure these people wouldn't help me (the bystander effect). I've experienced it once before: I was robbed in broad daylight at knife point, and people saw it but just stood there, passively.

As I turned around seeing the person, the person's face suddenly became aggressive and started to chase me.

I carried a heavy bag, I was tired, and my mind was rather preoccupied with work. But seeing the person start to give chase (I only got to see his face and some features, I couldn't make out what he carried, he is probably carrying something), I had no choice but to run. For a split second, I thought of fighting - but I also remembered that this guy had at least one companion - who knows if he has more companions on the other end of the street.

Run on a silent, dark street at 1130 in the evening.

I ran, and I shouted while I ran to call attention nonetheless. I made a quick turn behind a truck, got near the sleeping people, and darted to the door. The guy must've panicked when I did that (again, I can't be sure, everything is so blurry). That noisemaking, along with the facts that I have a much longer stride than the guy, and there were people and street lights around 30m away, might have bought me time and I managed to get to safety and get into my house.

No one woke up when I shouted. My legs felt extremely tender then, and I felt that at anytime during the chase, I could've fell down. But it was just a short chase, probably lasting less than a minute.

The local government or the baranggay should be making sure its constituents are safe... Or, people can be more vigilant and form some kind of group. I am not sure.

What could have happened if I didn't trust my instinct and turned to see the guy? What could have happened if I fell down? We can never know for sure. Somewhere in the multiverse, my friends there know - if the multiverse exists.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peace in the middle of the fire.

Thích Quảng Đức was a Vietnamese Buddhist priest who set himself on fire as protest against the abuse of Buddhists by the government. This singular act was seen as the pivotal point that ultimately toppled the then-reigning regime.

But that is not my main point in writing about him. I'd like to mention what journalist David Halberstam wrote after witnessing the event:

I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think... As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.

This is courage. You have to wonder how he endured that until the very end.

I oftentimes quit some endeavors even though I haven't poured out all my effort into them. Sometimes I feel I lack guts, or the determination to press on. I can learn some things from Thích Quảng Đức.

(img from Wikipedia)

Monday, December 21, 2009

My favorite "athletes" #1 - Lee Jaedong

I think that Filipinos in general take "athletes" to be basketball/football/tennis/track-and-field/boxers/etc players. While yes, of course they are athletes, I think there's many more athletes that many Filipinos quite ignore. Let me talk about my favorite "alternative athletes."

Thanks to nerdnexus.com for the image

Pro-gaming - Lee Jaedong
20 year old Lee Jaedong is a Zerg progamer, and in my opinion one of the best Starcraft players ever. He has extremely solid mechanics. (very fast hands - over 400 actions per minute. Think about that. One action could be selecting a unit or morphing a larva or attacking a unit. 400 apm is close to 7 actions a second!) But more than mechanics, he has amazing game sense (timing), effective scouting, and even more effective aggressiveness/harassment. More on this later.

I can say that pro-Starcraft is a combination of several facets of other sports:
-> It is as strategic and rigorous as chess. "Build orders" or the order with which you build units, buildings, expansions, and upgrades are studied and practiced - think chess openings. As an example, in Terran vs Zerg, if you miss the timing for producing missile turrets by just 15 seconds, mutalisks will have already come in and ravaged your mineral line. Likewise, if the Zerg misses the timing for Dark Swarm upgrade, Terran siege tanks will have already destroyed your natural expansion. Which is why scouting your opponent's base is critical in Starcraft, to determine how your opponent opens, and know the appropriate timings of their attacks.
-> It requires as much alertness as contact sports like basketball.  On the spot decision making is critical in Starcraft. When an opponent attacks your base, do you pull your forces back, or do you counter? In Protoss vs Zerg, a lone dark templar left unchecked can kill dozens of drones unless you bring detectors and attacking units to fend it off. And more often that not, you only see it as a blip on the minimap. A sneaky shuttle dropping a high templar on your mineral line, if not stopped, will often kill your entire mineral line in a few seconds. Pros need to see these things and move their miners out a few seconds before the enemy drops, or take it out with scourge (Zerg)/placing anti-air (Terran and Protoss).
-> Apart from these, it requires multitasking like no other sport. Harvesting resources (and controlling idle workers), creating unit-producing buildings, producing attacking units, upgrading, attacking your units, harassing enemy bases, expanding. All these have to be done in rapid fashion to keep up. This is especially true for Zerg, as units are fragile, and the units require a lot of clicks to manage (lurkers, clumped mutalisks, defiler/ling/ultra combos, scourge suicide attacks). I can not multi-task like this, so while attacking, my production buildings are not running at full throttle. It's amazing because pro-gamers can simultaneously attack, defend, build units, expand and more.

Take a look at this recent Jaedong game. You can see how the points above come to life.


The level of decision making these players have to think about are generally split into two: micromanagement and macromanagement. Good explanation here, and I quote: Good micro means efficient and precise use of individual fighting groups in specific encounters, and good macro means economic expansion, mass unit control and production, and appropriate technology choices. While a few years ago great micro was enough to dominate, today the emphasis is much more on well-rounded players with macro skill that will make up for errors in their micro control. In other words, Starcraft continues to become more and more competitive even at its highest levels.

The only bad things here are that you have to do this sitting down, your hands will eventually give up, and your eyes will be messed up. Which is why some teams require their players to go to the gym.

And this guy is a practice freak - according to a coach, "The gamer that possesses everything a coach wants is Jaedong. Not only he has an amazing record, his mindset and attitude and everything else is flawless. For example, when a coach asks a gamer to practice over 100 games to win a game, many gamers complain. However. JD takes such a demand for granted - a natural way to improve himself. That's the difference of mindset." This is the Nadia Comanece principle.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our DLSU LEADERS student projects

So the DLSU run of LEADERS (Leadership course, taught by retiring P&G Philippines General Manager Jim Lafferty) has come to a close. I'm happy with how the class has turned out, especially with the great projects done by our students. There were 10 groups all in all, and here they are one by one:

Note that these projects were taken from conceptualization to execution within a time frame of 8-9 weeks, by students who are pretty much busy with their other academic commitments, so the scale of their projects are not that big. Due to these constraints, these projects effectively served as "proofs of concept." There's definitely potential to make these projects even bigger, if the right organizations are tapped in the future!

1. "Leading them out of poverty" - This project jumpstarted a livelihood program (haircutting, etc) in a community in Tondo. The students had to find a community, and also an NGO that specialized in teaching livelihood skills. Since the entire training program lasts 6 months, the project was transitioned to an organization in DLSU.

2. "Flush less, save more" - This project aimed to reduce the water consumption within DLSU by putting water banks in DLSU's (old, high water consuming) toilets. They were able to perform a test in one toilet with considerable improvements, and is now being considered for scaling up.

3. "Budget management 101" - This project helped security guards in DLSU manage their own finances by partnering with BPI to administer a budget management seminar to them. The guards found this useful, and are looking to make this a regular activity.

4. "Let's make way for volunteerism" - This project was an NGO awareness week held inside DLSU. The students invited 6 NGOs to spread their advocacies in the school (a rarity) and also to get sign-ups from students. Many students visited the NGO booths and a good number also signed up.

5. "Taft guys think green" - This project advocated the use of hemp bags as an alternative for plastic bags. The students had to handle the entire supply chain and were able to sell a good number of bags. Proceeds went to Gawad Kalinga.

6. "sTARP it" - This project collected used tarpaulins and partnered with a business establishment to convert them into usable items like bags. They also sold these bags within the University and a store outside. Proceeds went to the environmental fund of DLSU. The store now wants to continue the sale of tarp-bags.

7. "Health alert" - This is a health awareness campaign specifically targeting Business students. They partnered with the Physical Education department to heighten awareness and increase reach. Additionally, their materials are going to be used by the department in their future activities.

8. "iMedical" - This project created a web app that contains data of hospitals within the Philippines, presented with a Google Maps-like interface. (They started with 50 hospitals entered in the system). To manage the site after the course, they partnered with an outside group.

9. Tree planting for kids - This project took a few dozen kids from a certain community to a tree-planting activity, with the intent of helping foster environmental awareness in these kids. The students were able to invite student volunteers to help out in the actual activity.

10. Course introduction videos - This project aims to help high school students make the right decision on what course to take up in college. A series of introduction videos for courses have been shot and recorded and uploaded in youtube. See an ECE sample.

So what did I like about the projects in general?
  • There is much diversity in this class, as seen in the projects they did. It is also nice to see people from different course backgrounds collaborate and come up with unique ideas.
  • It's interesting to see that this course provided a venue for the students to do something they probably would not have done otherwise. I have not done something like this in my college years.
  • It's also leadership in action. Since this is a leadership class, we wanted the students to practice leadership in practical situations. It's nice to see people applying the frameworks on leadership and project management that we shared during the course.
  • Finally, with their projects, they have helped some people in their own ways.
It was a great opportunity co-facilitating this class!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Places I want to go to - Socotra

This is a place I want to go to at least once in my life! Socotra or Soqotra (Arabic سُقُطْرَى ; Suquṭra) is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean and is presently part of Yemen. Many blogs I've read regarding the place describe it as the most alien-looking place on Earth. I agree and you'll see why later. That's the reason why I want to go there!

The island is very isolated and DRB said it's been isolated from Mainland Africa for 6-7 million years, and so a third of its plant life is endemic to Soctra, in other words it's found nowhere else on the planet. If you're a plant or animal enthusiast, then this will be heaven on earth.

Socotra is famous for the so-called Dragon's Blood tree. It's a unique plant found only in Socotra, and you can see how its trunk suddenly spreads out into tiny branches in a mushroom-like manner. (photo thanks to besthike) It is called dragon's blood because the sap of the tree is a bright red color.


Another famous plant in Socotra is the Desert Rose (adenium obesium). People describe it as a blooming elephant leg. (img from fun2fun)


Another famous plant in Socotra is the Dorstenia Gigas. It's a very tough plant, and can plunge its roots down solid rock. (img from Flickr).


Apart from fascinating plant life, Socotra also has very unique animal life. According to ftiyemen, at least 80% of Socotra's reptiles are endemic. Some animals here include 20cm giant centipedes, huge spiders which spin yellow webs across woodland gaps, and the Egyptian vulture.

It's not just plants that are cool here. Check this out, Al Hajarah. (img via Christopher Fowler)


Or the beach, or the shipwrecks.



Want a slideshow instead?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

[reblog] Boxer's brutal, realistic take on eSports

Slayers_Boxer (Lim Yo Hwan in real life) talked about the current state of eSports in Korea. Boxer, being the man who almost single-handedly created the pro-gaming industry and creating countless Starcraft innovations (M&M play, Dropship play, micro in general), tells the brutal truths in today's pro-gaming scene. This is so eye-opening I had to repost from Teamliquid.

I am a pro-Starcraft fan, and I'm a fan of current players Jaedong and Flash. This article is not going to talk about the basics of Starcraft, so don't expect to know about how the game has matured over more than a decade - more info on Starcraft pro gaming is here.



On the past 10 years of eSports

It's a big accomplishment to have a market this big, from nothing. In the beginning, players worked as freelancers trying to win the competition prizes. It was the time when a sense of professionalism and teamwork didn't exist. It was basically playing for fun and going on to tournaments when they came around. After that, the team system was established because practice partners and a system were necessary. Still, there was nothing but the tournament prizes. Back then team managers didn't have other revenue models and things went on like that.

Then ProLeague started and corporate-sponsored teams were established. There was salary for players who aren't necessarily good or win tournaments. It was a good period as the team system got implemented.

Honestly, nowadays fans are leaving. When the time was good we should have pulled more corporations, embraced the existing fans, and attracted new fans. Even looking at ProLeague now, things are awkward for players. It's a feeling of not perfectly modeling it as a sports. It's the positioning of a half of sports and a half of entertainment.

One reason that fans are leaving is that the biggest chunk of eSports, StarCraft, does not have a big market globally. It's popular in Korea and there are tournaments, but oversea there isn't much attention. I felt the limit as I won WCG twice. It didn't feel great even after I won the gold. Not much attention from Korean media either.

The scale is different for basketball or other sports. Fan service is different, and with cheerleaders, gifts, and events, fans are totally occupied. You can even eat in stadiums. eSports stadiums don't sell food, and there's no entertainment beside watching the game. Fans concentrate when games are exciting, but when game are boring they lose focus. eSports is emotional, so more investment in fan service is needed to grab audience's attention continuously.

Replay is a big problem too. The retirement of old progamers was influenced by replay. Even when Nal_rA and others pulled off an interesting strategy, copying it a day or two after is possible because of replay. As the old progamers went down, fans left. More effort was needed to hold them, but such effort is insufficient nowadays.

When I met the former Korean president Roh, I asked for a government support to grow eSports. But the government said that since Korea is eSports' home and it will grow on its own, let's just watch it. No special attention.

I hope that government helps it grow more. Instead of just supporting baseball, basketball, and soccer which came from abroad, I hope that the government supports the domestically-grown eSports. Instead of just growing it in Korea, I hope that those who had their foot in Korea go abroad and help develop eSports. There's no answer unless things go globally.

On StarCraft 2

I haven't played it. But I hope that it spreads globally. When StarCraft 2 comes out, or even some other game gets to be competed internationally, it might be bigger than StarCraft-oriented eSports. When PC cafes are spread, popular games get support, so when StarCraft 2 comes out and other countries open more PC cafes, people might play it more. I'm worried that even if StarCraft 2 leagues are developed, they become a Korean thing after couple years.

On the gaming culture

Society's perception on gaming is still not good. When I was practicing in ACE, an army officer took a kid to the practice room and asked me, "He's so into gaming. Please tell him to stop playing." I was in the army, but it was awkward because I was still a progamer. It's not enough for me to tell him to keep trying, but how could I tell him to stop. Parents know that it's a tough path and they know about the income distribution of progamers. It's difficult for reporter-loved progamers to come out either. Fans are diminishing too. It's a bad cycle.

On SKT T1's Chinese player

The company had expected much, but he didn't meet the expectation. Even before that, bringing in non-Korean players for Hexatron failed. Unless eSports becomes really a sports, I'm worried that we might have to buy some broadcasting rights from China. Talking about it isn't enough. Specific plan needs to be laid out. Korea has better driver experience, but China has better engine. You can't ignore China.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What does AIDS awareness and Adolf Hitler/Josef Stalin/Saddam have in common?

An ad campaign is the answer.

Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler figure in an AIDS awareness campaign. What I like about this particular campaign is the shock value - it doesn't get more shocking than this. The creators of this probably wanted AIDS awareness to be discussed widely and yes, they were successful.

If this was done in the Philippines, they can utilize the recent Maguindanao massacre in place of the three.







Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make love, not porn - an interesting (but tricky) TEDtalk

Make love not porn. Cindy Gallop talks about how hardcore pornography has influenced how young men think about sex. Since porn is readily available, it has become the default sex education of young men. Because porn is generally not realistic, argues Cindy, young men learn sex the wrong way. She also argues the need to reeducate and reorient their thinking.

Watch the TEDtalk below. There's graphic language but I think with the way she delivered the talk, that's fine.

My Nov 2009 HK experience in pictures

This is my HK experience in a few pictures. Blogger isn't a very user-friendly blogging platform for uploading photos so I'll upload just a few.

Dinner at Cafe de Coral! The food there tastes good!
Majority of the food is already inside the pot.

At Stanley Market. We met two cute Spanish toddlers here. Charmagne wanted so much to take a photo with the kids.

At The Priory, we met three new friends there - Neva, Tami and Colleen. Hoegaarden was great - not cheap though - 65HKD (~400PHP) for 1 pint.


One of the attractions at Ngong Ping is the Tian Tan Buddha. You have to climb 268 steps in order to get to the top. It was foggy then so I couldn't get a clear picture of the Buddha.


Below the Tian Tan Buddha, there are several statues giving "offerings".

Nice view of the pillar, e? :) This is in the Buddhist temple.

Jet Li

A tourist's best friend- the always reliable MTR.
Bruce Lee.


My TEDxManila experience, and 3 things I've learned



Social business, environment, and education topics were the recurring themes in the Philippines' first ever TEDx event held in the Malcolm Hall of the University of the Philippines last Dec 5.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading." While originally starting as a conference focusing on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, its scope has gradually increased to cover more topics like science, arts, politics, education, culture, business, global issues, technology and development (wikipedia). TEDx stands for an independently organized TED event.

Roughly 200 people from the academe, industry and civil sectors attended the event.

Tony Oposa talked about the environment, and the misconception of consumption and extraction (of the Earth's natural resources, to a point it exceeds the rate of replenishment) being used to gauge a country's progress. He advocates for a change to CPR economics - Conservation, Preservation and Restoration.

Mark Ruiz shared his idea of social business, specifically his work in Hapinoy and how it has been improving the lives of small sari-sari stores in the country. Illac Diaz illustrated his many ideas of using locally available materials to build sustainable and durable housing materials for people. More than being reactive to natural disasters Illac maintains that we should be proactively preparing for these. His way is by building these durable houses and empowering the locals to build them on their own.

Graham Glass emulates the Swedish system of knowledge schools in his educational venture called Edu2.0 and shares his vision of the future of education. Edu2.0 is an online learning management system offered free to schools. This enables students to learn at their own pace and in the comfort of their own homes. Glass believes that adventure learning leveraging games would be big in the near future. Mel Tan shared the progress of the government's elearning initiative eSkwela. Since 2007, 2500 learners have benefited from the program.

TED videos shown during the event included William Kamkwamba's brilliant innovativeness in building a windmill for his community using only materials found from the scrapyard and a few books. Pranav Mistry stunned the audience with his revolutionary SixthSense technology, a technology that brings the digital world into the physical world.

What did I learn from Ted?
1. The alternative view that an economy based on extraction and consumption is wrong. Primarily because this is not sustainable. As Tony Oposa illustrated, the Earth is like an inheritance of money from our forefathers. We should use only the interest and not eat up the capital. But at the rate we're using the Earth now, there would be no capital left for the next few generations. Global warming is the accumulated consequences of what we've done so far.

2. The right mindset in battling natural disasters should be prevention through proactive methods. Focus on the high-risk areas, but utilize cheaper alternatives so it can be reapplied faster. Social business can play a part in making this happen.

3. There are many things that can be done in life, we've got to go ahead and try them.


A small cocktail outside the Malcolm Hall after the event - This is where conversations happened.


Illac Diaz is a genius. Loved talking to him after TEDx. How he cools and lights his house is amazing!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Using boobs to promote shoes

Ingenious ad by Reebok uses talking boobs to promote its new running shoes...


They say sex sells :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Castrated for the love of music - the castrati

Castrati are male singers who have singing voices equivalent to sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, or contraltos (female voices essentially) due to castration (removal of the testicles) of the singer before puberty or have never reached sexual maturity by some reason.

It is obvious that castration prevents the necessary flow of hormones to stop a boy from reaching puberty, hence the vocal cords cannot enlarge and cause his voice to become lower. As a result, castrati had the high voice of a boy soprano but the lung power of a grown man. Castrati were treated like superstars in the 18th century due to the popularity of opera. They made a lot of money and had throngs of fans. Girls would even seduce them and have sex with them because they were sure they wouldn't get pregnant.

Their training regimen seems to be harder than present-day singers. Wikipedia recounts "The regime of one singing school in Rome (c. 1700) consisted of one hour of singing difficult and awkward pieces, one hour practising trills, one hour practising ornamented passaggi, one hour of singing exercises in their teacher's presence and in front of a mirror so as to avoid unnecessary movement of the body or facial grimaces, and one hour of literary study; all this, moreover, before lunch. After, half-an-hour would be devoted to musical theory, another to writing counterpoint, an hour copying down the same from dictation, and another hour of literary study. During the remainder of the day, the young castrati had to find time to practice their harpsichord playing, and to compose vocal music, either sacred or secular depending on their inclination. This demanding schedule meant that, if sufficiently talented, they were able to make a debut in their mid-teens with a perfect technique and a voice of a flexibility and power no woman or ordinary male singer could match."

Wondering how a castrati's voice sounds like? Listen to the clip below. Comments to that video seem to indicate that this is Alessandro beyond his prime, so his voice quality has already declined. He does not seem to be the best castrato either, but he does hold the distinction of being the only true castrato singer who was ever recorded.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How academics differs from business.



Spot on. Another amazing piece by XKCD that highlights the big difference between an academic career and a business career.

If you're interested, read up on Guy Kawasaki's blog on things that should be taught in school. He mentioned "Perhaps in school people have plenty of time and no money, so long papers, emails, and presentations are not a problem. However, people in the real world have plenty of money (or at least more money) and no time."

Friday, November 20, 2009

The most beautiful man in the world...

...is this guy. Search for Nong Poy on Google.

Slideshare has a detailed presentation about his journey, plus some more of his pictures.




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good afternoon, my name is Russell, and I am a wilderness explorer...

Does this kid look like Russell from Up or what?

This is the real Russell. Found by my brother on Facebook.


Anyway, cue Russell's lines: (thanks to kpbs.org)

RUSSELL: Good afternoon. My name is Russell. And I am a wilderness explorer in tribe 54, Sweat lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?

CARL: No.

RUSSELL: I could help you cross the street

CARL: No.

RUSSELL: I can help you cross your yard.

CARL: No.

RUSSELL: I could help you cross your porch.

CARL: No.

RUSSELL: Well, I gotta help you cross something.

CARL: No, I'm doing fine.

RUSSELL: Good afternoon. My name is Russell. And I am a wilderness explorer in tribe 54. Sweat Lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today...(door slams).

Gotta love Twitter's scheduled maintenance image

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raise your voice for Climate Change - support the Filipino voice

It's pretty rare to have unknown people raise their voice in a big way for climate change. That's exactly what my friends Paul Garilao and Ponching Orioste are doing right now, joining the COP15 Raise your Voice 2009 campaign. To vote for their entry just visit www.youtube.com/cop15; click vote; search Philippines on the videos per country; and click the green thumbs up sign for the entry entitled: Raise Your Voice by Filipino environmental advocates.

Please vote for them! :)

I've been thinking myself about what steps can be taken to help the environment. Often we focus on big controversial problems (like the recent Ondoy/Ketsana storm) and use that as a springboard for discussion. But I think some more fundamental aspects of our city life can be changed to produce significant results for our environment. Here are my ideas:

1. Improve traffic conditions
Problem: 5.3 million cars as of 2006 and an increase at the rate of 5-6% per year means a lot of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere. Given the bad traffic situations in majority of the country, these cars spend more time than they need to on the road, burning even more fuel. Go to Wolfram alpha to get a feel of how much CO2 is thrown to the atmosphere. Apart from the greenhouse impact, bad transportation also results to anxiety and poor health in people and economic hits due to productivity loss, perishable meats, and more.

What the solution might look like:
Expand train network - The model is Hong Kong. A small place connected by a lot of trains. This reduces people's need for cars, so the carbon footprint per person is markedly reduced. The trains should be underground so we have more space on the ground.

Eradicate jeepneys and other public transport - consolidate public transport under the bus. This seats the most number of people and is most efficient (I think, I have no data). Keep taxis of course. Most valid for large cities.
Disallow parking along the streets - We can plant trees there instead. Requires a cultural shift and the creation of a strong parking industry.

What it will cost: A lot. Billions range obviously over the span of a few years, but the benefit will persevere for decades.
Benefits:
To the environment: lesser greenhouse emissions, fuel stock will last a longer time
To the country: productivity and value creation due to lesser time spent in transit, fuel importation might be decreased
To the people: less stress in travel
I hope a Philippine President addresses this soon.

Other ideas (I like to stress the first one, so I won't explain these.)
2. Modify educational framework to focus on the environment in the curriculum. Intensify the instruction of environmental science, and encourage experimentation/projects in this subject. Better start young.

3. Reward actions that help the environment. Reward citizens for helping the environment (activities, purchasing eco-friendly products) and companies via tax breaks. Reward entrepreneurs for eco-friendly businesses.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Bird is in today's Google doodle!

Today is the 40th day anniversary of Sesame Street!

But honestly, today's doodle made Google read like Googlle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Testing Google Wave - embed a wave into a blog!

I finally have a Google Wave account. Wave is a very nifty tool, and I'm spending some time trying to understand it.

One of the cool features it has is the ability to export Waves to blogs, and have people interact with your wave from within your blog, in real time!

Take a look at the Wave I embedded at the bottom of this blog: (Note: if you don't see the wave, it maybe because you don't have a Google account, or even a Wave account.)

If you can't see the embed below, please refer to the screenshots: Click the pictures to view in higher resolution.

I want a drag and drop feature, I wasn't able to find something like that yet.

PS: I noticed that waves have to be made public so that other people can view them. This is done easily by adding the robot "easypublic@appspot.com" as a contact and adding it to the wave.




Sunday, October 25, 2009

How to do the Nozomi Sasaki dance (for Fit's!)


Nozomi Sasaki starred in a Lotte Fit's commercial which became famous in Japan for this (very) cute dance. This spawned a dance contest in Japan. The steps are quite simple, but nonetheless, a Japanese magazine had to spell out the individual moves, as you can see above! Click the picture above for a high res version.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Did you know? (the extremely fast pace of tech changes)

This is from the Economist. This video's main purpose is to shock a person with numbers to rethink how businesses have been spending on advertising.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer selling Windows (circa 1980+)

LOL. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stars in a commercial advertising the original MS Windows product. As he said, "You get all these features plus reversi... for only 99 dollars!"

Watch the commercial here:



Discovered this via @JimAyson.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twitter lists out as a beta feature


Twitter rolled out a beta feature for lists to a part of Twitter's user base, according to Techcrunch. This summarizes the list feature:

Setting up a list is simple. Currently, the homepage features a Lists banner that allows you to start simply by clicking on the “Create a new list” button. Once you do this, an overlay appears and you just type in the list name (which Twitter then converts into a permalink along the lines of twitter.com/USERNAME/LISTNAME), and set the list to be public or private. This is obviously an important distinction as the public one, others will be able to see, while the private one will be for your eyes only.

On the right hand column of you Twitter.com homepage, you will see a new “lists” area under you bio. Clicking on this will take you to your list overview page where you can manage your own lists, as well as see other user’s public lists that you are a part of. Also, on user profile pages you will see that the users’ lists are now listed under the “Favorites” area in the right hand toolbar.

Clicking on any of these lists will take you to a stream of just the users followed by that list. Basically, this is a filter, if used the right way. This is something Twitter proper has long needed (though plenty of third party services like Brizzly have stepped in to offer it).

Unfortunately, adding people to your list is not as easy as it should be. The reason for this is that there is no user search functionality. Instead, you have to either go to your “following” page, or to that person’s profile to manually add them.

I have created my own list - for "friends." I'm still playing with this feature. As of now, its main benefit for me is to filter my feed according to my own personal preferences.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dear God... (more funny letters!)

After the first post, I decided to find more funny letters to God, and here are some of them!
By the end of the photos, I'd like to connect an amazing TEDtalk to these letters.

1. How hard is it to love people?

2. This reminds me of Kaitlyn Maher's answer to "Are you from New York?" and Maher's answer is... here.

3. Wow, this kid is suggesting to God what He should have done with Cain and Abel.

4. This takes the grand prize for me!

These letters written by kids remind very strongly of Rebecca Saxe's TEDtalk about how the abilities of children/people to reason out and judge scenarios of "people thinking about thinking people" develop markedly and rapidly between the ages of approximately three and seven years old.

She discusses how the RTPJ (the part of the brain that enables us to read minds and intentions) works (geek stuff here), and ultimately how we can influence other's minds (using magnetic devices).

It is a very exciting talk - one of the best I've seen via Ted.com!

Thanks to Geek Army for the letters!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear God...

LOL.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Google barcode logo today!




The Google doodle today is a barcode!

What is the significance of October 7 to the barcode? According to Wikipedia, on October 7, 1952, the US Patent Office granted Patent 2,612,994 for the barcode to Norman Joseph Woodland, Bernard Silver and Jordin Johanson.

The history of the doodle
There's a colorful history to the Google doodle. According to the Google Story, the first Google doodle was designed by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 to serve as an out-of-office announcement to their users. To people who knew, the doodle signified that Page and Brin went to the Burning Man festival, and if Google went down that day, no one will be there to fix it. See the historic doodle below.

Since then Google has been regularly changing its doodles depending on the occasion. According to Wikipedia, "Google doodles have been produced for the birthdays of several noted artists and scientists, including Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Louis Braille, Percival Lowell, Edvard Munch, Nikola Tesla, Béla Bartók, René Magritte, Michael Jackson, H.G. Wells, Samuel Morse, Hans Christian Ørsted and Mahatma Gandhi among others.[2] Additionally, the featuring of Lowell's logo design coincided with the launch of another Google product, Google Maps. Google doodles are also used to depict major events at Google, such as the company's own anniversary.[6] British novelist Roald Dahl has been featured, with the logo containing characters and items from some of his books, such as Matilda. The celebration of historical events is another common topic of Google Doodles including a Lego brick design in celebration of the interlocking Lego block's 50th anniversary."

Here's one doodle that appeals to me - the MC Escher doodle!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wanna have an ID photo like this?


Would you like to have a photo like that adorning your ID? But this ID is nothing compared to...

Batman bin Suparman! I've blogged about this young superhero of superheroes before.

Thanks Oddee for the first pic!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Metallica - Turn the page


This Metallica song doesn't make me sad - but after seeing its accompanying music video, I felt really sad.



It captures in detail the difficult problems of a single mother raising her child. What puzzles me and saddens me is when the mother said at the end, "if I were to live my life again, I would make the exact same choices." It's almost a statement of helplessness.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stranded in DLSU-Manila (thanks to Ondoy) - part 4

Continuation from part 3

When I went back to LS 309 to sleep, Toffee, Tim, MJ, Jessie, and 1 more person were already asleep. Tim, MJ, and Jessie were asleep on the wooden platform below the blackboard; Toffee and the other person (a girl - I don't know her name) slept on chairs. I tried to snuggle myself into a corner, and put another chair for my legs. I generally have a sleeping problem, but this setup complicated things a bit more. Anyway, I think I was finally able to sleep 230am.

Noah's Ark
We woke up around 6am. Looking out, like Noah's Ark survivors we celebrated the fact that we can see more and more land jut out from the water! We felt that we can already leave. Our newfound friends had already left (they slept in a different room)

Walking around DLSU at approx 630am, we saw Aimee Chua ferrying a bunch of sandwiches (breakfast) via a tricycle. That wasn't going to be of much use, since many people have started leaving.

We made our way to the EGI building with a newfound perspective of the power of nature...
... and a 200 peso parking bill, like it was our fault we couldn't leave that night.

The businessperson behind EGI is a rather insensitive guy. They even raised room rates astronomically (from 1500 (per Tim) to 6500 for one night stay)!

Tim and I made our way to McDonald's for breakfast. We saw Jill's group yet again and we had breakfast there. After breakfast and almost 24 hours of staying in DLSU, they were finally fetched. Since the flood in the SM Manila area is still very high and difficult to pass, Tim and I decided to go back to school to wait out a bit more.

Have a safe trip home!
Back at DLSU, the cleaning operation was already at full swing. Janitors were cleaning the pavement, removing water from the Amphitheater and cleaning the buildings. We wanted to walk around a bit more, but we were asked to go to the Chapel to not intefere with the cleaning.

Nothing much happened back in the Chapel. The view from the window presented a very calm and sunny weather - like nothing happened last night. The number of people staying in the Chapel slowly decreased until there was only a dozen people left.

Outside the Chapel, the volunteers assembled a board saying what roads are passable/impassable. That's nice - but it's too fragmented so we can't really use it.

One thing that I really liked was the concern Br Armin and the other leaders showed for the students. Before leaving, students were asked where they went home to, and how they would go home. If they deemed it was unsafe, they politely asked the students to wait out some more. If it was safe, then they were able to go. If it's a tricky situation, then they got the student's number to call him/her later.

Around 11am, Tim and I finally left. To get to my house, it was a little adventure since the water around the SM area was flooded up to the waist. But I was able to go home anyway. (cut out a lot of details here - it's not that important)

What happened to Jim and my brother?
Jim left DLSU at around 12 noon in his car with his driver. At around 1pm, he was still stuck in Taft. He was still in Quirino by 3pm. He actually walked from Quirino to his house in Alabang!

My brother was stranded in a nearby SM. He bought shorts and slippers there because he had to wade through waist deep waters. The waters eventually reached neck level, but by that time he was already safely in SM. At 5am with just 2 hours of sleep, he left SM, waded a lot more, then finally got home around lunch time.

Watch out for my next blog article - helping out in the relief operation!

Approaching a girl on the train - funny cartoon

A break from my Ondoy blogging.


Via XKCD yet again. The image has an alt tag - "And I even got out my adorable new notebook!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stranded in DLSU-Manila (thanks to Ondoy) - part 3

Continuation from part 2.

For the kids
Looking down from the choir loft, I saw a big number of kids (my guess: 100 8-12 y/o kids) sitting on the church pews. Kuya Aldrin from the LSPO told me later that there was a cultural presentation featuring kids from LASSO-supervised schools. Since LASSO has national scope, there were kids and parents from provinces all over the country. The event was to end at 430pm, but they tried to rush the event to end at 1 so that the kids can go home. But it was too late.

One of the kids looked up at me and smiled. I greeted him, and walked away. Now that everyone is all cozy (to some degree - students in the choir loft, Tim in a room charging his computer and phone), I decided to go down and offer what assistance I can give.

Trying to help
This was hard since everyone was busy. I tried walking around with SC President Aimee Chua and learned that everyone has to go to LS Building since power may go out at the other buildings soon. Some of the buildings were already cleared but some weren't. ROTC/Security/Janitors were enlisted to help out in this area.

I ran into Engr Oliva and asked him if DLSU can do something to lessen the flooding, like removing some covers and the like. He said there's nothing DLSU can do for the moment.

The water level at ground floor of the LS building is beginning to rise, so the volunteers tried to get people upstairs to the main Chapel at the 2nd floor. I tried to help out in this area. That proved to be a challenge.

For one, the TV that supplied critical news was in the ground floor. The food supply was in the ground floor. The water levels were still tolerable. Some people were dead worried about their cars and were hesitant to go up. Many people were still waiting for a friend before they would go up. But eventually, people moved up. I went back to the third floor.

At the third floor, volunteers were beginning to lay out mattresses for people to sleep. Priority were the kids. I tried to help move the church pews to clear out space - man they were so heavy. Then we laid out the mattresses in a close, tight fashion. Even the narrow passageways had mattresses. The kids were the priority, and they occupied the mattresses farthest from the edge of the loft.

I was sweating profusely. Thank God a LEADERS student (I forgot your name - sorry!) provided me an extra shirt. I kept the shirt for later use.

Wading
I went down to the 2nd floor and saw a group of student volunteers huddling around Br Armin. It seems some students are still in the Br Andrew building, and someone to go get them. I joined this group - there were 19 of us in total.

While walking, I asked John Bellosillo what we're supposed to do. Escort the students and Admin folks from the Br Andrew Bldg to LS, and we had to wade through the floodwaters. Gulp - I was wearing slacks and a dark blue Chuck Taylor. Never mind - it'll dry out anyway. So we went to the Br Andrew bldg and upon getting there my pants and shoes were soaked. Why wouldn't it be, the water was knee deep in some areas.

I found out that there was a cancer survivor staying in Br Andrew. She wouldn't leave because she doesn't want to get wet. We understood, got her number, and left her with the guards. She was a professor.

On the way back, I noticed how dirty the water was. In the SJ area, a newspaper folded and twisted like candy floated... I wonder what was inside that newspaper.

Dinner + Movies!
There was a very long line when I got back to the LS Bldg. People waiting in line for dinner. Afterwards, I cleaned my feet and shoes with the handsoap in the CR, but of course it still is not good enough. There was no medikit available so I had to ask around for alcohol. I finally got one (c/o Jill. I was actually looking for the kind mother who shared her alcohol with me a few hours ago but I couldn't find her) and rubbed alcohol on my feet generously, and changed my shirt. Then I went to line up for dinner, while chatting with the guard in front of me. A friend told me dinner can still be bought at the canteen so I just went down. (Previous population estimate was at 450 people, however the count was wrong - there were at least 1050 people! I chose to buy dinner so that someone else can eat for free.)

It was around 8pm already. Some students had occupied the classrooms and turned them into moviehouses. I was able to watch Love Actually (nice movie), The Unborn (good scary movie - but not as good as Rec or Inside), and The Proposal (the guard cut us off, as it was already 1am then!) I was also able to inform people that entering sndvol32.exe via Start->Run will display the Master Volume controls. :)

I tried to sleep at around 130am but it's quite hard, since my feet were still... uncomfortable and it's really hard to sleep while sitting!

Part 4 is here.

Stranded in DLSU-Manila (thanks to Ondoy) - part 2

(this is the continuation of part 1)

Lunch, and a whole lot of waitin
g
Tim and I got lunch at Animo Canteen (further inside the Canteen, the one that serves coffee, pasta, Japanese food) and tried to wait out the rain. Many people are eating there although it's a Saturday - because it's impossible to go out, unless you'll wade.

It's been two hours and the rain hasn't stopped. This is becoming a boring situation for Tim and me, so we decided to try and join the group of Jill, one of our LEADERS students, who happened to be eating in the same place a few tables away. After chatting a bit, we moved out to the main Animo canteen area and sat in one of the benches.

Nilometer
We spent the next 1-2 hours between chatting, and going out to check on the situation. The water level had been constantly rising: one minute it was barely touching the benches, the next time we checked, the water was already nearing the pebble-laden sidewalk of LS. Some students even deployed paper boats on the brownish waters. The South Gate entrance has become impassable - the main sidewalk stretching out from the South Gate has become flooded, and tricycles have begun to peddle their services inside DLSU (just outside the LS building, near the men's CR) to students who wanted to go out. At this point, students can not sit in a tricycle the same way, they had to huddle differently to avoid getting their feet and buttocks wet. At 50 pesos a ride, they will transport you a few meters to maybe the mall outside, or McDonald's.

The steps and ramps of DLSU have become a Nilometer of some sort. But the "Nilometers" failed, because the flood waters reached and exceeded their height.

Dars (he'll be videotaping th LEADERS class) said that by around 2PM, the floods at the South Gate had already reached waist levels. He braved the flood, got to the LRT station, went down at EDSA, and was soon able to get home.

LS Bldg = relief center
At around 3PM, the school (led by Br Armin Luistro FSC, Aimee Chua, John Bellosillo, and a few others) began moving people from the other DLSU buildings to the LS building. The LS building was to serve as the main holding area for the stranded students. ROTC officers, janitors, and security helped to move students and admin alike. (I was a former ROTC officer - inside I was partially wishing this happened during my time...)

The university began giving congee in plastic cups to people who were stranded in the school around 3pm. I wasn't in the mood to eat, so I just watched the TV near the accounting office. There I found the real danger Ondoy posed. By that time, water was also beginning to break into the marble floor outside the Conservatory. The path stretching from the North Gate was already a river - a coconut husk floated by as I stood there. I went back to the Canteen.

Back in the Canteen, Jill's group suggested going up to the 3rd floor of the LS building, because the water level might rise even more given current conditions. Someone was even suggesting building a raft!

We went up to the 3rd floor of the LS building, and stayed in the choir loft of the MBS Chapel. I found the handslapping game played by Jill's group quite interesting and fun.

My brother, Toffee, and MJ
My brother was supposed to go to URC in Pasig that day to rehearse for an event. He SMSed me around 1-2pm and told me he was stuck in Kalentong with waters reaching the waist. It's good that he was able to go to nearby SM Hypermarket for some much needed shelter. I was worried sick for my brother - but there was no way for me to check on him, as I can't go there and his battery died soon after. I kept that at the back of my head the entire day.

Toffee and MJ meanwhile were in Sherwood place. They finally came back to DLSU availing of the tricycle service I mentioned before.

(Side note: Jill had a Reader's Digest which I borrowed to pass the time a bit. Inside was a joke about 4 Filipinos sharing their dreams. One dreamed to become a lawyer to help his countrymen. The two others dreamed to be a policeman/doctor to help their countrymen. The fourth dreamed to be a countryman. :) That joke was quite fitting - we became the countrymen that day.)

Part 3 will come soon. I might get some photos from people to add to my story. Thanks in advance!

Part 3 is here.