On Pauses and Breaks

A month ago, all I looked up to was the end of the semester. I thought much of the stress would come to a halt. I thought a lot of the pressures would ebb with school at a standstill.

I never couldn’t have been more wrong.

I’ve never seen problems at work pile up this much in the last couple of years. I’ve almost forgotten how the end of the day felt this much of a relief. Watching television doesn’t help either as there’s nothing much there except the pardons for those once controvertial persons convicted with life imprisonment, the worldwide ripples of the Wall Street problem and more social, political and economic problems everywhere.

So to try lighten up the mood, here are some things to contend with the seriousness of the times though.

  • 150 Best Online Flash Games – Just dumped it here for easier access come the time when I can bum more and worry less. I wish that time comes soon enough though as I can’t even remember when was the last time I’m driven nuts at work.
  • Earth from Above – I might not be even a step on the way towards good photography but I do appreciate good snapshots when I encounter them. I have to admit too that it was pretty relieving to see the planet in different and awesome angles.

On Best Practices

The previous semester had me pouring a good deal of time and more than a pound of neurons into an ethics portfolio as part of the requirements for a class in computer ethics. It was then when blogging and my internet journeyman experience came in handy. I was surely thankful all those times and effort I put into writing and wandering around in cyberspace turned out to yield something to my favor after all.

For instance, here’s the Sept 3 Dilbert strip which turned out handy in one of the pages of my submission:

Boss: We will be adopting the best practices in our industry, just like
everyone else.
Dilbert: If everyone is doing it, best practices is the same thing as mediocre.
Boss: Stop making mediocrity sound bad!
Dilbert: Sorry.

Apart from the humor, it sure proves to be a worthy old-content kicker here too.

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.

Diminishing the Slice

The Philippines ranks second to the last after Indonesia in terms of the average annual salary of IT professionals. That is if the ZDNet Asia IT Salary Benchmark Survey 2008 is to be believed.

Early this month, ZDNet Asia released an online article summarizing the results of the survey. There the Philippines ranked 6th among 7 countries where it was reported that IT professionals averaged an annual salary of $12,425. Indonesia placed last with its pros getting $7,709 annually.

Get more information from the detailed report here. Registration is required though.

72 Months Hence

It was only recently that I’ve realized that it has been six years since I started working. Perhaps it was this collection of ID pics from my first job that caused the pause to look back at what happened and changed over that span of time. Looking at my pic there, it does seem a no-brainer that I changed.

Normally I’d be offended with anyone posting my pic elsewhere but the time capsule idea struck me as wonderfully thoughtful. So there’s one change. That and the ones fatherhood, IT, postgraduate education, and corporate and filipino life I’ve been subjected through all those times. To the first I now owe my disposition and happiness, the second through the fourth professionalism, and the latter the roots of my culture and beliefs. To all however a great deal of dedication.

Finally the fact that I don’t recognize a lot of faces there let alone remember a lot of those persons says a lot of the amount of time that passed and how I actually got to spend such time in this minute corner of the universe. Hell, I might even be able to write truckloads of posts on all the incidents and experiences all throughout but why bother when even time rolls along so elusively to capture everything in our finite spaces.

One thing nice about life is that it allows us to take brief pauses along the way to glance back before yanking us to move on ahead. It might not mean a lot but it sure helps somehow.

A Software a Day

Because of my recent crash course with the LAMP mix for a real project, I got to add another duo of softwares in my computing sleeves.

Notepad++

notepadpp.jpgI never went out of my way looking for a trusty Notepad replacement because I didn’t use it much then. When I ended up opening different file types for different scripts and file formats among others however, I knew I had to start searching.

I encountered Notepad++ in a forum back then so I decided to try it out. Among the things I liked about it compared to Notepad are:

  1. It simply has lots more functionalities. Editing’s definitely easier because of more advanced find and replace allowing the user to specify regular expressions. Another plus is the ability to split the window to allow two views of the contents of the same file.
  2. It supports various syntax of different programming languages. As a Developer, I don’t even wanna think about how much time and effort the software’s creator put into including such functionalities as reserved word highlighting and collapsible blocks of code. Luckily for this one, I’m the end user needing something for PHP, HTML, CSS, DB scripts, INI and log files.
  3. It supports a lot of plugins. Since I was very busy to install Hiew back then, the Hex Editor plugin was sure helpful.
  4. It allows me to open various files in different tabs in the same window. Ever since I have always preferred different files to be opened by the same application opened using minimal number of windows. That was one reason why I switched to Firefox years ago when I had to put up with such behavior of IE6.

Firebug

firebuglogo.jpgThe code’s there but the functionality’s not. Not surprising as it’s oftentimes been told that a rule of thumb in programming is that things don’t always work properly the first time.

Prior to Firebug, debugging web applications was so much a pain in the neck. The Firefox extension however has proven to be helpful in going about with Javascript and most especially CSS that I’d be sharing the sentiment of those guys from the review who wouldn’t be doing web development without Firebug anymore.

Modern-day Trends

IT Anyone?

While the IT-sector of the Philippine economy has undoubtedly grown, I never thought the figure’s currently pegged at 400,000 related jobs from 8,000 last 2000. That is if co-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, Cesar B. Bautista is to be believed.

In an Infotech article written at PDI today, he spoke of a positive outlook for the country’s BPO services sector as something “to overtake India” in the near future. This as he cites a Frontier Strategy Group report released early this month as the reason for the optimism.

I hoping that the present crop of IT workforce could stand up to the challenge-if ever there really is going to be one.

What was that again?

A PC World article featured at Yahoo news tells of the effect of frequent mobile phone usage that is brain slowdown. The result of a study on 300 persons for nearly two and a half years indicated that the slowdown was still considered normal though.

However plans on expanding the study this time for a longer period of study on 17,000 people, is already on the drawing board.

Now that’s something definitely worth looking into as mobile phone usage has made it to the just about any common man’s routine. That and the fact that society adapted to it so quickly that just a decade ago, only the most affluent in this third world country could be seen flipping their phones in public, all point to a possible health hazard to a mobile generation of humans.

The Long Way Home

So the average L.A. driver gets to spend the longest time in traffic according to a Reuters report on the 10 worst metropolitan traffic in the U.S. In particular, those in L.A. waste 72 hours annually in traffic, (that’s 3 whole days of a year spent in traffic alone.) Runner-ups include (unfortunately) San Francisco, Washington D.C., Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arllington area, San Diego, Houston, Detroit, San Jose and Orlando in that order. Read the rest of the whole article here.

I’d like to see an independent study come up with something on Metro Manila traffic to give L.A. a run for its money though. :))

I Want My Money Back

One of the reasons why I keep few personal stuff besides not wanting to spend for something I won’t use often is that protection for consumer rights here in the Philippines still has to go a very long way. How many times has the mediocrity of products and services been read or heard?

Sadly I’ve had my share of things such as the shrug of the shoulder, inefficient support and downright defective products and service. The thing is protection for small-time public consumers is still practically non-existent here even if service providers are given the green light to clamp you down with an exclusive contract for a good number of months.

In a society whose government does strive to protect the voter’s interest, some steps on complaining do get results. Looking at that article, it’s not hard to see how much consumer protection in this country still has to improve on.

Technology and Etiquette

Pulled from 6 Things to Consider are bad technology habits and email etiquette I wish a lot of people these days would read and keep in mind. The gist of the first goes:

  1. Talking on the cell phone at inappropriate places.
  2. Interrupting a conversation to answer you cellphone.
  3. Constantly checking email.
  4. Don’t use unusual ringtones.
  5. Hiding behind Voice mail.
  6. Calling back a number on CallerID when a message wasn’t left in voice mail.

Especially for us Filipinos, I still see a lot of people guilty of point number 1 and point number 2. The former is even unheard of to a lot of people here while I get to see people do the latter even if the guilty one’s conversation is that of business.

Also I’d like to add not to forward contact information without its owners permission. That goes for mobile numbers, telephone numbers and email addresses. Sensible persons should respect the privacy of other people so it goes without saying that when they give their contact information, one should appreciate the fact that they think they can trust you with it. It’s just sad that even those with the latest and sleekiest mobile phones and PDA’s are even ignorant of this simple point.

As far as the second list, it goes:

  1. Be polite.
  2. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  3. Don’t leave out details, but at the same time don’t put in to much information.
  4. Watch the use of attachments.
  5. Use email responsibly.
  6. Address emails correctly.

As far as the second point there is concerned, I’d like to see more people practice it. I know it takes time but it says a lot about one who submits something haphazardly done. Read a lot of the same glaring posts and comments in forums, discussions and blogs and the sensible one can’t help but feel dismay at the lack of effort behind the reads.

Given the sheer volume of such erroneous stuff, is it still surprising that the growing number of offenders have it their way in calling those who still bother to practice corrections OC?

The images btw were taken from Open Clipart: the first one here and the second one here.

Hard Copying

No matter how long you’ve been wrestling your brand of technology, something just tantalizingly time-consuming and frustrating pops up once in a while. Oftentimes it’s just something overlooked among the sea of possibilities today’s technology allows us to do.

As far as my four years of stay in the Notes/Domino development arena, I have my share of these as well. Just this week, I was replacing the design of a new database with that of an existing one. No problem I thought. I’ve done countless Database-Replace Design’s in the past.

But that was just what I thought.

When I opened the database however, a lot of the important views were not there. Instead of the default frameset launched, the user saw one where all views in the database is displayed in the left pane and the selected view on the right. The frustratation built up further as subsequent copy and paste of the views from one DB to another failed also while the deadline loomed so near.

In times like those, I start turning to Notes.net even though scurrying for pertinent answers there has become painstaking more and more in the recent months. A lot of minutes after my nosedive, it came. It was pretty wonderful for the same guy who asked the question to take time to sensibly post the thing he overlooked:

SILLY ME

It had to do with the access rights of the view. The view from the source DB had a role assigned to it that was not defined in the target DB. Once I deselected that role the views copied over.

Been doing this for years and still learn something new everyday.
And I bet I should of searched before I posted this cause I’m sure someone else has encountered this issue.

Not really. Did just that and it got me here. :))

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

I used to feel some sort of loss when after participating in forums for quite a time, the community ends up with that mediocre scene which makes the more sensible ones leave the venue. This is especially true when the stay there proved worthwhile for quite sometime that when new members injected into the community, the older ones tend to get irked when a number of the new comers utterly disregard consideration put forth to make the community conducive for everyone. And when such points come across flamewars the exchange just adds up to the divide among the netizens.

As for me, I spend a great deal of time getting to know the ropes of a “cool” community before having it put up with me. To me it seems only fair that an aspirant try to fit in first before actually doing anything there. After all it was those older people who molded the community into that “cool” site that made you want to stay. It’s just sensible to take the time if the group’s for you if bending towards anyone’s not exactly your cup of tea.

It seems apathetic of me but I guess the influx of stupidity doesn’t spare even online communities. Call it one more attribute of the internet that makes it similar to the universe, (where stupidity outweighs sensibility.) So to cap off a trio of Lotus Notes/Domino-related development entries, this post goes on to poke fun at two posts related to the presence of such unsympathetic and inconsiderate newbies from the Notes.Net forums: one from the 4 and 5 forum and the other from the 6 and 7 forum. Non-Notes-adept people may want to proceed to the second subheading though as it doesn’t need you to know about Lotus Notes for you to capture the humor started off by the original poster there.

Anyone There?

That same sort of loss is apparently what Ben Poole had in mind as he featured this Notes.Net post. In a rant post unusually posted in the technical forum, Randy Rhoades aired his frustration on the quality and horrible volume of a lot of posts in Notes.Net recently. Gotta love that title too:

Are there any real Notes developers left? – RANT!

Is it just me or is this forum beginning to become a place for new-bees to learn Lotus Notes? Some of the questions in here lately can all be answered by reading either the notes client or designer help file – gee, there is a novel idea.

It makes me not want to visit this forum anymore since the questions are not really challenging (not tooting my own horn – like I said, a lot of these things are in the help file). Its just getting more difficult to sift through the “give me free lotus notes consulting” questions.

It’s never been ages that I’ve wielded my Lotus Notes/Domino expertise like these guys but I definitely know what they’re talking about. Some people just don’t take the time to think and try out things themselves anymore. I used to take time to help some guys there but the growing number of posts about things that could easily be resolved with the aid of the Help file or a simple forum search suggests that the influx of idiots hasn’t spared that forum.

And talk about an exciting follow-up, this guy really knew how to make a point in that discussion:

Hi
i have i changing question for u ….

please help me how to set session expire in my own web appliction …
i.e if user becomes idel for 30 minute session should expired
and he have to login agin same as our web mail……

LOL…

Another One Bites The Dust!

Of course an extreme form of utter retardedness in the Notes/Domino forums is to disregard forum etiquette and sensibilities altogether and make use of terrible english enough to make even the most patient altruist make a run for their money. Here’s a perfect example not only because of the downright rudeness of the specimen but because it tells of a time when big time experts of the technology knew how to have fun. Excellent title again btw:

OPEN CHALLENGE FOR EVERY LOTUS PROFESSIONALS,CLP’s?

HI EveryBody,

This is an Open Challenge for every one who has cleared CLP or working in Lotus Or who ever so called lotus professionals.

My Problem is i have an combo box and a Embedded View In a form.Now i am displaying documents based on combobox Value selection.For this i am using Single Category(i,e IN a Single Catgeory selection option in a Embedded view i have specified the ComboBox Field Name).This works Fine.But now i need to display 10 documents in one page and another 10 documents in next page and so on.So i have placed Next And previous button to navigate forward and Backward.

So when i select the Combo box value it displays 10 documents fine.But when i click on Next Button it takes to next page and display as No Documents Found though there are documents in a view realting to that value.I can prove this as really bug in Lotus Software .By this it proves that lotus software is of no use to work and it must be thrown to DustBin and not even to recycle bin.

This Bugs the developer a lot.

Now if anyone can prove that this probelm can be solved can u come out with the solution.I think there are many CLP’s & PCLP’s in lotus notes.They are of no use if they don’t solve these problem and its a utterly waste of there certification if they don’t solve these problem.

Good Luck For Everyone if they r trying otherwise better throw this software.

I HOPE THERE ARE MANY SO CALLED CLP”S WHO CAN TRY THIS.AND IF ANYONE FOUND THE SOLN PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

The forum poster makes your average retarded poster look so pro so if you’re having a rough and tough Monday, I suggest you read that one for a good laugh. You don’t even have to be a Notes/Domino developer to get what the “so called CLP’s” are talking about. (Common sense’s a prerequisite though.) :))