Showing posts from January, 2011

Not hearsay #13111

“All you really need is a bed to sleep in.”Overworked and overseas HR Manager from India named Dhawal

Awesome 13.3 Lenovo Ideapad Z360 Part 3: Why Windows and Microsoft Office 2010?

Now, this isn’t a rant for Windows.  As part of the review of the Lenovo Ideapad Z360, it’s necessary to discuss Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, which I purchased as a bundle with the Ideapad.  Being a Linux convert and a regular user of openSUSE, Mandriva, Ubuntu, and Knoppix (my emergency USB distro), why would I spend my hard-earned cash on Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows 7?  Linux certainly provides all the conveniences of Windows minus the problems associated with Microsoft’s flag products.I was one of the thousands who signed up to test Windows 7 when it was released for free from the Microsoft site and even then, I was fairly impressed with it.  I had studied Vista somewhat extensively and used it for awhile in order to provide better technical support for the OS.  It had its issues, but I had no serious problems running it even on a Pentium M laptop – so 7 was definitely a pleasant experience.7 has been around for awhile now and after having used it at work and with the…

Kismet in 5 Courses–Fourth Course

Weddings and wedding receptions are like carousel rides.  It’s initially fun to watch people enjoy themselves.  Then, it becomes quite repetitive and the guests/visitors start getting dizzy and start feeling not a little bit queasy.  Pretty soon, the ride’s incessant music and screams begin to grate on the spectator/outsider.“I’m your uncle,” the congressman beside me said in a hurt voice. It was mostly because I didn’t recognize him.  I was more concerned about my overinflated tummy than trying to recall faces.  I answered noncommittally that I did know him and it was nice seeing him again.  I excused myself and weaved through the garishly decorated tables, hooting guests, and screaming children.  I could already foresee the scrumptious dessert being served after the cake cutting was over.  I needed to free up space and defragment my hard drive.  The function room where the reception was held was situated on the 2nd floor of a building (of what seemed to be a converted chapel or rect…

Filipino Fatalist

The Philippine people have topped surveys regarding the happiest or most content people in the world.  In local newspaper surveys from The Philippine Star and Daily Inquirer, the majority of the populace also attest that their lives are not easy and filled with difficulty.  These attributes may seem irreconcilable unless you’ve read old Filipino history or social studies textbooks about the country.  The Filipino’s penchant for inevitability is well-known and accepted by even the most distinguished Filipino writers and historians.Children may or may not learn “Bahala na” from school.  More likely, they’ve heard it from their parents while growing up.  Loosely translated, it means “It all depends” or in today’s more slang-ridden age, “Whatever.”  It is argued that the phrase originated from “Bathala na,” an expression hailing from the ancient natives who had a strong faith in their god or gods.  “Bathala na” is Tagalog for “It depends on God.”  Didn’t study for tomorrow’s exam?  Bahala…

Kismet in 5 Courses–3rd Course

I'd like to say I'm as observant as Sherlock Holmes and I wasn't really missing out on any of the events occurring around me.  The truth is she was the only interesting person in the whole wedding reception.  I could, however, vaguely recall the songs being played as I sat and fought through the immense meal:  Big Mountain's "Baby I love your way," Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden," Color Me Badd's "Wildflower," and "So Young" by the Corrs.The beguiling creature I was trying not to watch ate using only one hand with a fork while I was morally enforcing myself to munch through the lengua estofada and rice.  I realized it was the generous appetizer of cheese sticks, spinach, and green tea an hour ago that ruined me.  I'm not a social animal by any stretch of the imagination and I'm proud of the single monthly social event I maintain.  This wedding was (and yes this is a cliché) my mother's fault who obligated …

Travel Tip #123011–Keep your pockets as empty as possible

Unless you’re MacGyver who can fashion makeshift gadgets with paperclips and twine or James Bond with his exploding pen, keep your pockets as empty as possible.You’ll look better for your Facebook pictures without a horribly bulky front or back pocket.If you decide to jump into a river, lake, waterfall, or fall out of a sampan you’ll end up losing your precious souvenir, ticket, digital camera, or MP3 player.  Think Thailand’s floating market.Say goodbye to whatever’s in your pocket if you decide to ride a rollercoaster or even a simple theme park attraction.  Macao’s skywalk will provide a special jumpsuit but you’re probably going to forget to empty it if it’s your first time in Disneyland Tokyo, Seaworld Australia, and Universal Studios Los Angeles.  The lovely attendant will probably remind you but some tourists are just hard-headed . . .Pickpockets are rampant even in places as exotic as Athens.Riding animals require some effort as it is without you having to worry about your key…

Kismet in 5 Courses-Second Course

She was wearing an elegant velvet black one-piece dress with only a wide red belt as her accessory.  She was also wearing tasteful strappies with heels that assisted her petite frame (forgive my poetic license but I'm no fashion guru).  The rest of the peacocks at her table were wearing shiny trinkets and too much skin.  Our shy attendee, however, shone with an almost unhealthy pale complexion.  Occasionally, the lady at her right would give her a courteous nod or remark.  She would then give a repressed smile that gave away a simple dimple at her right cheek.  I was severely thankful for being undeservedly seated at Table 2 because it meant that I wasn't required to line up at the buffet.  It was hard to pay my respects to the bread and Swiss butter served.  I made my way through the skillfully prepared salad.  Unfortunately, even before the waiters dropped the clam chowder soup, the pork roast, chicken, fish fillet, and lasagna, I was already full - or at least my attention …

Kismet in 5 Courses–First Course

You can always tell when someone attended a wedding without really wanting to be part of the wedding.  She's the girl with the apprehensive expression who scrambles for the thrown flower a bit too frantically than the rest in the hope of not being left out as the sole person without one (who eventually becomes a vulnerable target to the overly enthusiastic host).  Wedding games are only fun for those who actually want to be there.  They should make it optional for everyone else.  She sits at the table quietly with noisy guests.  A wrinkle appears on her forehead a few moments after the photographer calls out for "friends of the bride."  She's really unsure of which group to join.  She's not family and is certainly not a close friend of the groom or bride despite being seated on Table 3.  I know because I'm seated on Table 2 and I don't know the newlyweds either.  As if to put emphasis on this fact, her lovely ensemble doesn't match the color theme of …

Awesome 13.3 Lenovo Ideapad Z360 Part 2: Choosing the Brand (Apple, Acer, MSI, and Asus)

Besides reading about hardware and reviews of specific laptops, one of the things to consider before buying a laptop (or any other device for that matter) is the brand/manufacturer.  It’s important to note here that I was looking for a Thin-and-Light and not a Netbook or ultraportable or desktop replacement.  My minimum requirement was a Core i3 with 512 or 1GB of dedicated video.  As for screen size, I had planned to get a 14” but ended up with a fantastic 13” instead. APPLE It seems obvious now to admit the hands-down winner would have been Apple as I had been itching to study OS X extensively for the last 10 years now.  There were two huge obstacles to getting one though. #1 I could only afford the Macbook White which would have cost me at least 30%-45% more than either an MSI, ASUS, Acer, or even the more expensive Lenovo (purchasing “Office for Mac” would’ve sent me begging for food stamps for the rest of the month).  #2 There were moments when I had weakened and decided I could …

Podcasts: Working around Device compatibilities using Banshee and Clementine

There are many fantastic music players in Linux such as Rhythmbox (which comes with Ubuntu).  Rhythmbox works very well with syncing podcasts and MP3s with my Creative Zen.  Moreover, a quick installation of the MTP package for Banshee (another popular Gnome MP3 program) makes the Zen work in a cinch on Ubuntu if Banshee is your preferred app of choice.

openSUSE or Mandriva, however, can have issues working well with older Creative Zen models like mine, which are not nearly as popular as the ubiquitous iPod, iPhone, and iTouch.  Also, if you're planning to use phones such as the Nokia E63 to play video podcasts or MP3s, it is fully possible that they aren't recognized as music players and may not be detected properly by Rhythmbox or Banshee.

This is easily solved by a great program called Clementine.  Clementine is a heavily modified version of the popular Linux jukebox Amarok.  Now, this may turn off some people who may not have warmed up to Amarok - Amarok has faced its fare …

My Two Cents on the Linux, Mac OS, and Windows Debate

Almost a decade ago, I spoke to my brother about buying a Mac.  At the time, I was playing around with a Chinese keyboard equipped purple-colored eMac at the office and I wanted to learn how to use it more efficiently.I could never forget this pic from an ad in Time Magazine introducing the famously delicious-looking eMac.My technically-inclined brother, who had started with a Headstart IBM clone, was unabashedly a Windows-user even back then and dissuaded me from getting one.  As it turned out, his advice was well-founded as I realized that I would require quite a bit of education in Windows years later while supporting Dell’s Dimension systems (top of the line at the time).Today, as evidenced by this blog, I’m an openSUSE, Mandriva, and Ubuntu user.  Banshee is one of those Linux programs that blows me away.  Works well with all the distros I’ve used so far.The debate between the OSs can be pretty heated and yet fascinating to read.  It’s hard not to create stereotypes – though ever…

Review: Japanese Tales (translated by Royall Tyler)

April, 2005 - Royall Tyler's thick collection of translations focuses on quantity and entertainment value. His liberal changes to the stories (best seen in a tale Donald Keene had already translated in his Anthology of Japanese Literature) make for interesting reading though many would doubt the accuracy of his translations. Many of the stories in this book are abridged and lacks the whimsical and pedestrian flavor of Japanese stories. Still, Mr. Tyler does Japanese literature readers service by providing selections that are rarely found in equally voluminous anthologies. In fact, the bulk of his 250 tales cannot be found in Davis' popular Myths and Legends of Japan, Yakumo Koizumi’s In Ghostly Japan and Kwaidan, Madam Ozaki’s Romances of Old Japan, A.B. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan or any of the collections I've read so far. The stories are classified according to theme, allowing readers to perceive different facets about a particular creature, place, event or phenomenon.…

Tea and other Marvels

There's this classic book by Kakuzo Okakura called the Book of Tea.  The title makes it seem like the book discusses the ways of drinking tea, its scientific properties, the various types, its origins - a scientific analysis of the well-loved drink.  However, the Book of Tea is actually an ode to tea.  The author writes eloquently about appreciating tea and its nuances.

The Book of Tea (Penguin Classics)
The Book of Tea is now part of a huge library of books on Public Domain and can be downloaded from
It doesn't require great profundity to write about tea.  The web is filled with resources regarding its history, scientific benefits, and classifications.  Surprisingly, tea sometimes take a back seat to coffee, a somewhat more addictive and (according to coffee lovers) more flavorful drink.  The two are both great drinks and have contributed greatly to society and civilization as we know it.  
Tea is associated with the East, but this isn't quite accurate as any …

Awesome 13.3 Lenovo Ideapad Z360 Part 1

After more than 4 years of running a Pentium M powered 14.4” Acer Aspire, it was time to upgrade to the Intel Core i3 plus finally get a taste of Dedicated Graphics Card goodness.  I had skipped the Core 2 Duo generation despite its amazing performance but could not help but finally get a an i3 coupled with Nvidia’s Optimus technology.The Z360’s i3 base system was cheap (Php 32,500 with only 2 GB of 1066 RAM), made only expensive by the extra 2 GB of RAM and boxed edition of Windows Home 7 Premium and Microsoft Office 2010 I purchased (which added around Php 10K).  I had decided on the i3 version over the 14.4 inch i5 Lenovo Z460 for two reasons: Intel Core i5 is only superior to i3 due to its Intel Boost technology.  It’s very tempting considering the price difference was small.  However, the technology is NOT compatible with Linux and therefore a huge deal breaker.A 14.4” display is awesome for watching movies, but I already had my Acer Aspire for that size of a display.  The 13.3 i…

KDE Plasma Netbook Interface Overview Part 1

The Mandriva 2010.1 KDE installation on my Asus 1000H was a great success though there were minor issues such as slow boot up and shutdown and sound problems.  The KDE interface of Mandriva suffered from a poorly designed menu, but otherwise a great and easy-to-use Desktop. 
With openSUSE 11.3 out for months now, it was time to test out the KDE Plasma Netbook Interface, which has been under the radar for quite some time.  After installing the ever-impressive openSUSE on my 1000H, it was a small affair to head over System Settings>Desktop>Workspace.
I’ll be bringing up several points regarding the Plasma Interface in the course of the next entries.  Suffice to say, I’m impressed and delighted with the transitions, the visuals, and overall practicality of the  Netbook interface – its definitely a great Desktop and a brilliant idea for Netbooks and I’m sure works even better for Netbooks that run on Dual core processors. 
The screenshot below is my customized KDE Plasma Netbook

A Better Man

I had mentioned the remark for the first time years ago to Lucas. 
"Any man I witness walking down the aisle and devoting their life to a single person for the rest of their lives is a better man than me," I said.
"You sell yourself short," Lucas responded dryly.  "The wedding day is also supposed to be the happiest day of woman's life.  I suppose women sell themselves short too when it comes to other happy days in their lives."
I never quite understood what he meant until after being invited to 5 consecutive weddings a decade later.

Reminders from Taotie and Hotei

A statue of Budai (Hotei in Japanese) is a good guy to have around especially during the New Year because he reminds us of happiness and more importantly contentment.  There is a different ancient creature that may have even greater importance during the holiday festivities and the coming new year.  The mythical monster Taotie, found emblazoned in ancient vessels, represents incalculable greed and gluttony - a perfect reminder for revelers of Christmas and New Year to take it easy during the dinners and buffets.

Scholars of mythology, religion, and ancient cultures have long upheld the belief that the gods, immortals, and mythical creatures represent truths and ideas - and Taotie has his place in the scheme of the universe.   The monster Taotie was said to be a criticism and symbol of the Taotie civilization.  In many ways, the image and reputation of Taotie's frightful gluttony (said to be so great he ate himself) should be quite relevant to today's generation also.  Consumeri…