Towards the Horizon Further

It seems there’s nothing wrong with how I did the previous semester. I’m now expecting at least decent grades to keep my status in the program safe. No worries unlike the previous semester in short.

Having IS295a as my only major subject this coming semester, I have to start thinking about the final project required of MIS students before graduating the program. I have some ideas in mind already and I thank the people at the UPOU kapehan for leaving the trails from previous discussions there. For now, I’m reading on related stuff to give me an idea on how much I would score on innovativeness, creativity and usefulness.

As for those MIS classmates from IS201 who have been asking what to expect from the next semester, I gave a rather vague answer in the forum. That is, IS215 is a lot like IS214 in terms of the requirements–4 FMA’s and a 170 multiple choice type of final exam–and IS226 is a web programming crash course. With that said, I discouraged people from enrolling in 9 units again if they already took up 9 units the past semester and found it too difficult to manage their studies among their routines.

To anyone who might find that still unclear, here’s an attempt to explain what’s in store for the student further without getting me in trouble.

While the requirements for IS215 and IS214 seems similar, the resemblance ends there. I can say that while there were tons of concepts to be remembered in IS215, there are even more concepts in IS214. However IS215 outdoes IS214 in terms of the requiring the student to think analytically. Sure there are a number of algorithms discussed in IS214 too but even those taken collectively doesn’t beat having to think of coming up with stuff given just a sequential storage and crude assembly-like language.

So if one were the I-can-remember-tons-of-information kind of person, then IS214 would be easier. If one were the I-hate-having-to-memorize-because-I-was-made-to-analyze type of person, then IS215 would be easier.

I find no point in contrasting IS201 with IS226 however. Taken per se, one is entirely different from the other. The former deals with computer ethics while the latter with Web Technologies. Sure there may be times when both disciplines overlap, (e.g. “How do I go after someone who lifted of my content?”, “How would I be liable if I use this graphic?”) but the amount of time and effort to be spent in either subject depends on the ability of the student involving different skills. IS201 is more on writing and interaction on issues while IS226 is about putting those technologies to use.

So I would imagine someone with the intention to shift to the field of IT having more difficulty learning a whole bunch of technologies and making use of them to come up with the requirements. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised that the student who is almost exclusively a programmer at work would somewhat find IS226 somewhat to his or her liking.

A caveat is in order here though. I’ve been a web developer for many years prior to taking up the course but still had my share of difficulties in managing time in the subject. I may have done web applications in the past but none of those were cross-browser compatible. That’s because businesses tend to limit browser support to the most popular browser, IE, especially when a cross browser compatible site carries a heftier price tag with it or given an idea of the composition of its user base. I’m not complaining though, it makes life easier at work really.

The inexperience on web standards took its toll when I was a student of the subject though. While I already knew of the soup that’s XHTML, CSS and Javascript, it took a more rigid approach and more refinement before my deliverable passed the HTML and CSS validator at W3C. Before I forget, don’t even think of passing off that obfuscated tabled layout.

Someone new to the whole programming-the-web thing will definitely find Firefox and these plugins helpful though. Personally, I’ve used Firebug and Fireshot over there and I can say it works like a charm. Note though that it was still Firefox 2 for me then. I’m having trouble keeping my Firefox 3 sessions last long enough without crashing them so I can’t say that I’m recommending that record-setting attempt for now.

So should someone from the IS201 people find this post, (as my dashboard seems to suggest,) I hope that was more of help.

Footnotes to an Aftermath

So this is the silver lining for me this year.

I just finished the semester at school yesterday after passing my answer sheets for the last exam yesterday. Far more than ending just another episode in the pursuit of that elusive degree on postgraduate studies, I could now sleep for 8 hours like an ordinary person. I could now watch cable TV whose subscription I’ve been paying for yet haven’t watched for nearly a couple of months now. I now get to drink beer without having to the many predicaments I’m met. And perhaps the most important one would be getting to catch up and spend more time with the family.

Prior to yesterday, I just kept on pushing myself, just waiting for the time when I would’ve breached my physical limitations. Prior to yesterday, everything was just about regular work at the office and overtime work at home, studies and diminishing quality time for the family. It was so hectic that I couldn’t remember now how I was able to squeeze in sleep then.

Blame it on last month. My mother-in-law passed away after spending a little over 2 weeks in the hospital. Not to content with saddling me with having to make up work for my absence in these busy days, a little over a week after she was interred, I contracted dengue. Another month in the hospital had me dashing for deadlines at school and piled-up “urgents” at work. This blog which had its fair share of my time then had to take the backseat.

It’s so relieving to see a lot of the stress from school released. It’s so much a welcome that I now get to revel in the slow pace of today and the next few days. It’s so much a relief that I get to set aside the great amount of coffee for now as much as the excuse to exceed my smoking quota for quite a time now. It’s so much a relief that I now get to wake up without much urgency in the day.

This has got to be the best tasting beer for me this year.

School Time

Despite the fact that I have tons of stuff to do at work and school during the weekends, I knew I had to place this somewhere. What can I do? Some things are just too good to leave forgotten among the wilderness of cyberspace. I guess the fact that I’ve decided to go for a postgraduate degree’s the primary culprit here.

Anyway I’ve encountered an English instructor’s rambling take the form of an article. There he writes of the difficulties of teaching Adult education to students who decide to pursue higher education in the United States. Everyone who lived long here in the Philippines have heard in one way or another the degredation of the quality of education here as manifested in the quality of a lot of recent university graduates. Reading a certain Professor X’s piece however, I got a glimpse of other facets of the educational issues–this time in the setting of a developed country.

The first thing that came to mind upon reading the article is a post by leelock sometime ago in highfiber. There she writes of the difficulties she encountered from irate parents when she fails a number of students from a certain university. It’s one of the issues included here as well as the author writes:

…There seems, as is often the case in colleges, to be a huge gulf between academia and reality. No one is thinking about the larger implications, let alone the morality, of admitting so many students to classes they cannot possibly pass. The colleges and the students and I are bobbing up and down in a great wave of societal forces—social optimism on a large scale, the sense of college as both a universal right and a need, financial necessity on the part of the colleges and the students alike, the desire to maintain high academic standards while admitting marginal students—that have coalesced into a mini-tsunami of difficulty. No one has drawn up the flowchart and seen that, although more-widespread college admission is a bonanza for the colleges and nice for the students and makes the entire United States of America feel rather pleased with itself, there is one point of irreconcilable conflict in the system, and that is the moment when the adjunct instructor, who by the nature of his job teaches the worst students, must ink the F on that first writing assignment.

Yup. Everyone’s all for higher learning but it seems not everyone’s prepared to face the realities that come with its pursuit.

Finally just a couple of items more:

  • A coincidental but unrelated bit in what seemed to be a pun at the said article, X-Men’s Professor X (Patrick Stewart) becomes a real professor at the Huddersfield University.
  • I’ve never been much of a Chemistry guy but I give credit where credit is due. In an effort to provide a very substantial and effective reference, the guys at the University of Nottingham put up a Periodic Table of Videos. Though I don’t appreciate what it’s for much, I have to say kudos to the effort and creativity in coming up with something that’s supposed to help hold the chemistry student’s attention for a few more seconds at the very least.
  • Tons of free e-books at Burgomeister’s Books. Be sure to read the disclaimer though.

Time to Unlearn

I don’t recall now but I remember someone pointing out that a lot of the things learned in life later are just really about unlearning things taught to one earlier. While the vein of truth was evident there, it was just earlier when my wife and I were taking a look at the contents of my daughter’s Math book for the incoming school year did the impact of the truism there strike me.

When I was in college I remember a written communications mention how she found it hard to interact with high school teachers given their fondness of what she referred to as common errors. From time to time she made it a point to correct every error we had both written and spoken. Maybe it was her way of promulgating correctness the way she deemed apt.

Back then I didn’t care really because I was there only for the credits. With the following though, I think I now got to understand more what she had already realized then.

Preposition or Conjunction?

If you add 1 to 19, the result is an even number. (Yes/No)

I might be the only one to notice but adding 1 to 19 is not the same as adding 1 and 19. It might be plausible that the latter is school kid material but I’d have a hard time believing n(n+1)/2 has just been rendered grade 1 stuff already in my lifetime that fast.


If you put together two even numbers, the answer is also an even number. (Yes/No)

Unless they actually expect grade 1 pupils to prove that assertion from a given definition, (which should require at least basic knowledge in algebra,) I see no point in asking this theoretical question here. Sure the kid could get away with thinking of two even numbers, say 0 and 2, and adding them to check whether the statement holds.  In the example given it expectedly turns out true. It in fact comes out true for any two even numbers for the particular question.

I find an issue however with how this inculcates and effectively encourages a common mistake among students: proof by example. I have seen for a fact how even a lot of graduates resort to such kind of reasoning. It doesn’t mean it’s right however.

First there’s no actually such thing, (maybe they had proof by counterexample in mind, I don’t know.) Second and more to the point as my Math professor in college told someone when asked why the student’s proof for a proving question in an exam was wrong. Upon knowing that an example was presented he quickly pointed out and emphasized in class that:

An example is not a proof. What may be true for some members of a given domain may not be true for its other members.

Well at least that’s how I remember how he worded the point. At least for me, it would be best not to let kids start off with something they will have to eventually unlearn in the future. After all it shouldn’t be long before they would eventually encounter ambiguity in pushing for such mindset when they resolve a claim that all prime numbers are odd.

What if someone gets to think of 2?

It’s Very Elementary…

For the nth time I’ve never been very much fond of forwarded stuff. I have to admit though that there are worthwhile ones that I come across with every now and then. I find the following for instance an excellent case in point even though I’ve heard it in the news recently.

I’m 100% sure that this income disparity is being replicated in almost all of the provinces in the Philippines. If we had more Ed Panlilios in our government, we would be just like Singapore in a short time. Read on……

We hope we are witnessing what will be a sustained revolution in good governance in the Province of Pampanga , under its newly elected governor, Fr. Ed Panlilio.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer of August 26, only one month after Fr. Panlilio assumed his gubernatorial duties,the province’s income from the quarrying of volcanic ash from Mount Pinatubo had reached P29.4 million. (Haulers pay a fee of P300 per truck of volcanic ash that they haul from the quarry.)

By contrast, during his predecessor Mark Lapid’s term as governor, the province’s income from the same quarrying operations amount ed to only P29 million a year.
This gaping variation in official incomes from the same activity should inspire a new set of textbooks in Arithmetic, especially for the school children of Pampanga.

There is nothing like local color and local situations to cultivate comprehension in young
minds. *

Sample problems: If Fr. Ed’s provincial government can collect P29.4 million in 26 days (we assume no quarrying on Sundays), how much does it collect in one day?

Answer: An average of P1.130 million.

If Fr. Ed’s provincial government collects an average of P1.130 million a day from quarrying operations, how much can it collect in one year of 313 days(365
days less 52 Sundays)?

Answer: P353, 690,000, or P354 million. *

If Fr. Ed’s provincial government can collect P354 million a year, and Mark Lapid’s provincial government collected only P29 million a year, what is the difference in their official yearly collections? *

Answer: P325 million a year.

If Mark Lapid was governor for four years and his provincial government’s annual collections from quarrying amounted to an average of P29 million, how much did his provincial govt. officially collect in four years?

Answer: P116 million.

If Fr. Ed manages to remain as provincial governor for four years, and his provincial government’s annual collection from quarrying were to average P354 million, how much
will his provincial government collect in four years?

Answer: P1.416 billion. *

What is the difference between P1.416 billion and P116 million?

Answer: P1.3 billion.

Where did this P1.3 billion go?

Answer: Only God and the Lapids know. (‘Lapids’ is in plural because Mark, as a second-generation political dynast,succeeded his own father, now Sen. Lito Lapid.*

We don’t know how much Lito’s provincial government officially collected from quarrying operations during his watch. Should be a good investigative project for media.) *

If **Gawad Kalinga spends an average of P75,000 per low cost house, how many low-cost houses can P1.3 billion build? *

Answer: 17,333 low-cost houses.

If the average Pampanga family were to consist of five persons(father, mother, three children), how many people would be benefited by 17,333 low-cost houses?

Answer: 86,665 persons. *

End of Arithmetic lesson.*

Fr. Ed is to be congratulated for setting a high benchmark for collection from quarrying operations against which his predecessors have a moral obligation
to explain why their collections were so low, and against which future governors will be judged by the people of Pampanga. *

Volcanic ash, by the way, is a superior building material. Many of the buildings, aqueducts & monuments of the Roman Empire that have survived for almost 2,000
years are known to have been built w/ volcanic ash, quarried from the environs of Mount Vesuvius after it erupted in 79 AD.

We don’t expect Fr.Ed’s moral victory in Pampanga to be remembered for the next 2,000yrs. We would be happy with five, ten or 20 years, enough,
we hope, to spawn a moral-revolution- by- example to save the Filipinos from their worst enemies – themselves.

GOOD LUCK Philippines. ..*

*”Therefore, the primary cause of poverty is not overpopulation of the Phil! *

*It’s because our counrty is overpopulated with corrupt officials.*

Blog of the Day: John T. Reed

Technically not a blog but a sensible, honest and logical writer’s official site.

I’ve been reading content from John Reed’s official site ever since the time I searched for reviews of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He puts on more than enough, (the stuff there’s too much of an overkill against the book’s author,) to dislodge a lot of financial advice and other things from the book itself.

Anyway though the site’s very much dedicated to selling his books online, I still go there once in a while to read some stuff. Just recently I found a couple of things worth sharing here fortunately.

  1. Dumb things people should stop saying and writing – For instance, I can’t understand why people keep on saying irregardless when regardless alone not only suffices but more importantly is correct.
  2. The real estate B.S. artist detection checklist – True to his reputation as a serious critic of bad apples in the real estate business, he compiled a list of warning signals to look out for when faced with people from that direction. A lot of the items mentioned there even applies to a lot of sales people for other products and services.
  3. The silliness of looking for symbolism in literature – While I might not entirely argue on his tone on this topic, I just can’t help but wonder how much criticisms he got for this. Sure sounds like a time bomb to set off tons of hate-mail from the ever-symbolism-loving world of literature.

Admit One

A couple of IT bits for the non-techie from the PDI website:

Next Stop: College!

The latest addition to one’s online searching suite is Schoogle. This one’s about schools and aims to help graduating high school students in terms of college admissions and scholarships. It’s a nationwide project hence the .PH extension.

Anyway nice intentions there that’s why I’m wishing the endeavor all the best. I sure hope top schools get to produce such programs and projects which actually help people in a very practical way. More of the PDI article here.

Retail Courses

The ‘tingi’ (retail) has always been very much a characteristic of the Filipino culture. In the recent decade for instance, we’ve seen retail Landline, Internet and Mobile Phone usage go retail with the use of phone and internet cards.

What comes as curious though is a service announced recently by One Logic Systech Inc. It’s basically a “low-cost e-learning service that provides online licensure board review modules for as low as P100 ($2.28).”

Now how this online business pans out is something I’d like to see.

More Tech Trends

All PDI InfoTech articles for the week under way:

Low-Cost Laptops for Big Returns in Education

I first wrote about XO in this blog entry after having heard about it early this year. Apparently the laptop bannered as a serious economical alternative for students especially for those in third world countries will hit the U.S. and Canadian markets from November 12 to 26. For $399 the buyer gets one machine while the other one will go to a less-fortunate beneficiary to be determined by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

The cost of a laptop’s therefore still pegged at nearly $200. Though still far from the $150 reported early this year, OLPC hopes though to bring the price down at $100 after about a year.

The Philipine Broadband Scene

One of the signs of rapid technological advances I guess. As broadband usage popularity grows in the Philippines, the country is now projected among countries such as “Greece, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Ireland, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia and Turkey” to be among the 10 fastest growing broadband markets. The PDI article citing the telecom industry analyst Ovum sees the growth of broadband usage in the country from “three million to less than 10 million” by 2011.”


And speaking of broadband growth, a hot current events topic these days is the National Broadband Network, (NBN) the government dealt to Chinese corporation, ZTE Corp. Though it’s been a pretty dated topic, the recent Senate interrogations with those involved in the deal have been sour to say the least as flashes of personal attacks and tirades have all been there. And when bloggers had their say on the matter, you just know that the topic won’t go away soon.

Personally I am very skeptical with the deal and shares a sentiment much like what Senator Francis Escudero has to say in the PDI article on that bloggers’ take.

I can’t believe that the ZTE is the best deal we could get now. True, we live in an archipelagic country and this may be a major factor in the huge bill for a national broadband network, but since technology is getting faster and cheaper at the same time, we might as well look for the truly best deal. There must be other options that are more favorable to the Philippines and that should be protected from the government officials and their relatives who salivate for more money at our expense

One of the early criticisms on the project was from Raul Fabella and Emmanuel de Dios. One thing that captured my attention immediately was the government’s failure to provide a feasibility study before determining just how much the project should reasonablycost. For someone who’s been into several IT projects for a number of years already, the lack of a feasibility study to determine the minimum requirements of such a large-scale project is already glaring. Not only does that leave a wide-open window for corruption, it also presents the possibility of having the client, (in this case the Philippine government,) at the mercy of ZTE’s discretion. Read all of the contents of Fabella and de Dios’ paper, (in PDF format,) here.

Cite ‘Em

One thing hard with citing sources for papers especially for students is that there are many things to consider: citation style, type of resource, author/s, volumes, editions, publication dates, etc.

While there are lots of material readily available for citation styles through the internet, it still takes time to get used to the said styles especially when a student has to make use of more than one established citation style, (APA, Harvard, MLA, AMA, IEEE, Chicago, Turabian, etc,) for more than one field of study. Add to this the amount of time they need to look for persons to interview and studies, papers and other pertinent publications to digest and the amount of effort and hardships on coming up with a decent white paper becomes apparent.

Such effort and hardship only stresses the imperative of respecting someone else’s creative efforts in coming up with academic material that’s why the
on Oct 29, 2000, David Warlick started the Son of Citation Machine of the Landmark Project. As of this writing, the MLA, APA and Chicago style functionalities are fully available and the Turabian style is under construction.

Essentially the researcher just chooses a citation style then chooses the type of source, (book, journal, magazine, etc.) to be cited. From there a form is displayed and the researcher provides necessary info, (author’s name, book title, publication date, etc.) Upon submission, the proper citation text formats for the in text and bibliography citations are then presented and can be readily copy-pasted to the document.

A Little Bit of the News

Virginia Tech Four Months After

In April 16 this year, Virginia Tech got the world’s attention not as a prominent institution of the US academe but because of the rampage involving Korean student, Sueng-Hui Choi. The said student killed 30 people in all including himself so after the incident, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine appointed 8 members of a panel that was to investigate everything.

Four months later, the said panel’s report on the incident was released. An Associated Press report on the findings goes:

The panel concluded that lives could have been saved if alerts had been sent earlier and classes canceled after two people were killed on April 16.

Understandably, Va. Tech president, Charles Steger would eventually defend himself against the calls for his resignation and other criticisms which arouse from the massacre. Thus another Associated Press report the day after the panel report was released goes:

At a news conference where he was grilled about an independent panel’s conclusion that lives could have been saved had the school warned the campus sooner that a killer was on the loose, Charles Steger suggested there may have been nothing anyone could have done to stop the rampage by gunman Seung-Hui Cho that left 33 people dead.

The U.S. Illegal Immigration Scene

From time to time I see campaign propaganda of presidential aspirants for the U.S. touch on the issue of illegal immigrants in television news. The point raised there is that the jobs that illegal immigrants have should go to American citizens.

It didn’t come as a surprise therefore when I encountered this Reuters report on a raid of Koch Food plant near Cincinatti in search for illegal immigrants. The authorities efforts got them 160 illegal workers that day. The report goes:

A day after one of the largest workplace immigration raids in Ohio, the Hispanic community in Cincinnati’s suburbs was scrambling to track down missing family members and arrange care for children whose parents were caught up in the raid.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the raid was the culmination of a two-year investigation of Koch Foods, suspected of knowingly hiring undocumented workers. The company said it was cooperating.

What came as something saddening was an Associated Press report on how an estimated number of 85 immigrant widows are facing deportation because their husbands died before necessary immigration procedures are completed. A case of one married to an American regarded as a hero for saving two boys from drowning is told as the report went:

Jacqueline Coats’ husband drowned after he dove into a fierce Pacific Ocean riptide to rescue two boys. Now the immigrant from Kenya might be forced to leave the United States because he died before filing her residency application. She is among more than 80 foreign-born widows across the nation who face possible deportation because their husbands died before immigration paperwork was approved.

Wow. Shit does happen.

Who Killed Beethoven

Beethoven's imageNot the title of a new Whodunnit but a shot of controversy into the death of one of the great musical geniuses from Germany. If the finding is to be believed, it’s another one for the lead overdose angle proponents as the related Associated Press report goes:

Viennese forensic expert Christian Reiter claims to know more after months of painstaking work applying CSI-like methods to strands of Beethoven’s hair.

He says his analysis, published last week in the Beethoven Journal, shows that in the final months of the composer’s life, lead concentrations in his body spiked every time he was treated by his doctor, Andreas Wawruch, for fluid inside the abdomen. Those lethal doses permeated Beethoven’s ailing liver, ultimately killing him, Reiter told The Associated Press.

The image’s linked from the same report btw.