That Facial Expression

Monday, January 31, 2011

I saw this ad in Harrison Plaza yesterday. I don't know whether they were having a two-for-one sale on equipment or statutory rape.

School Fairs Suck

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mission Fair, School Fair, Mini Fair. We have a lot of names for this particular school activity, but no matter what it's called, it mostly sucks. The only reason why I have so many fond memories of it is because when I got to experienced it, I was young, gullible, and easily amused. Even then, I wouldn't really have it any other way, because hey, if it took me away from having to put up with reading books, wearing uniforms and eating shitty cantee - oh wait - scratch that one. In any case, anything that breaks the monotony of school life, be it a fair, a program, or the occasional threat of one of our antediluvian wooden buildings burning down due to embers coming from the canteen chimney, it's always more than welcome.

Minifairs are held once a year in our school, almost always under the premise that any income generated from the fair will be donated to the funds of our adopted missionary institutions. Everybody is welcome to put up their own booths for generating money from both students and visitors alike. For students in an all-boys school this is also an opportunity to convince ourselves that there are women in this world who aren't as old as our parents and teachers. (Something I did not fully understand until college) It's almost like visiting hours for a prison - except unlike prison visitation hours, mini fairs don't happen every day. To ensure the fair has constant population, students are required to attend at the threat of teacher-related retribution, and are not allowed to leave for a set amount of hours. Again, like prison. I'm not saying our school IS prison, but I bet if we annexed paranaque city jail we wouldn't least feel different.

Here are some of the things that are worth noting about minifairs in our school:

Chits - Chits are like the equivalent of Disney Dollars - they're the official currency of the mini fair. I don't know who it was that thought of it, but he or she should be commended for thinking of "chits". Bloody GENIUS.There are moneychangers at the entrance of the fairgrounds that exchange your money into flimsy token representatives of the money you should be holding in your hand. They are usually constructed with special paper that cannot be counterfeited since they're so easy to ruin, merely looking at them the wrong way can disintegrate them. So yeah, they're basically Disney Dollars, except you are not in Disneyland, and the chits are only valid for the one or two days that the fair is occurring. Come end of the weekend, your chits magically turn into bullchit. It's a one-way investment that's rigged to make you lose money. The basic idea of chits is - trap the population of a congressional district into an enclosed space half the size of a football field, and then refuse to accept Philippine pesos in any booth so people either use your currency or have them starve/get bored to death. Money comes in and it never comes out. Kim Jong Il and that Jew from The Merchant of Venice would be so proud.

Raffles - no minifair would be complete without raffles where nobody ever wins. I was in the school for ten years and never have I seen anybody even remotely related to me win anything. Not even a goddamn toaster. I figured the winners are actually also from the fair committee who, after claiming the prize, secretly return it back to the prize stash for next years fair. That damn toaster is probably older than me too. The raffle tickets are very cheap, but they are given as a whole booklet to every student who are then forced to SELL THEM TO EVERYBODY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Think about it. Each class in school has 40 kids. There are five sections for every level, six in gradeschool, four in highschool. that's 40 x 5 x 10 = 2000 children with 50 tickets each. 100,000 tickets all in all. The population of the entire CITY OF PARANAQUE - and this includes the farflung areas who couldn't give a shit about our school - during the 90s is pegged at about 400000. That means if the children of our school wanted to avoid having to buy our own tickets, we will have to sell a ticket to 1 out of four citizens of Parañaque, including Septuagenarians, retards, homeless people, and babies. YES IM MAD GOD DAMN IT. GIVE ME A MINUTE.


Okay, let's get a move on before I pop a nerve.

Food - The food is probably the reason why people buy chits. You can always starve yourself of entertainment, but not of food. To ensure that you're bound to go hungry, jail booths and "jailers" are put in place so the majority of people will be in constant tension and occassionally have to run. Apart from that, all students are required to do field demonstrations. We'll get to both of those in a moment. Back to food. Now food in minifairs is food when there is no minifair. The same shady-looking canteener who wouldn't look out of place in Tales from the Crypt is the same person cooking minifair food. The only difference is that prices are jacked up a notch, on the premise that "it's all for the mission". I can't help but think that the "mission" is a mission to strip you of any material belonging so we can all live like John The Baptist or something. To make things worse, since everything is traded by chits, it's not unusual to find that some store booths start running out of chits for change. So what do they do? They shift the currency to CANDY, as though it holds some sort of magical monetary value. Yeah, that's what children need. Less money, more sugar. Because really, fuck capitalism.

There are other guest food providers like Pizza Hut and Jollibee, but of course, they also have jacked up their prices. When you are a kid given a paltry allowance everyday, as is most of the kids back then, being able to afford a Chickenjoy is a sign of affluence. Being able to buy Chickenjoy DURING a fair when the prices are exoribtantly higher shows you have enough money to not give a shit. It's the ultimate symbol of luxury, the equivalent of overpriced cocaine for kids.

Program - Since we're not in a war and it's technically illegal for schools to detain non-students, the organizers are forced to prepare a program beforehand to "entice" outsiders to come into the school and pay the entrance fee. (Yes, they actually forced you to pay to enter school during fairs, even though you're a student, even though most of the time you're also helping out with some booths.) Anyway, my experiences came at about the time cable tv was just starting to take hold of people's attentions, so this wasn't so hard. All they had to do was invite "stars". By stars I mean not the A-listers, by stars I mean, "people who might or might not have appeared on TV on more than one occasion, and is probably related to one of the organizers by sheer luck". Still, their performances and mere appearance are more than enough to attract people.

Apart from the stars, students of all levels in gradeschool are also encouraged to do "field demonstration" which is something sort of an organized dance - which is kind of a misnomer considering all dances are supposed to be organized in one way or another. For FD's, organized means you have students of an entire level doing the same action formed in lines like the military, under the heat of the sun, forced to show the fruits of the labor of practicing for several weeks in lieu of actual academic work (which is okay too, I guess) to the parents, who for some reason always act bewelidered at the idea that their son can actually dance like everyody else in their level, or for the case of my parents, at the idea that their son cannot dance, period.

Thinking about it, Minifairs are just like longer versions of recess for us children, in the sense that it keeps us away from the classrooms, and that the amount of what we get from the experience depends on how far our allowances will go.

Okay, I've written a fairly long entry already, but I still haven't gone over the types of "booths" you can actually enjoy. Let's leave that for part 2.

Tom Clancy's SSN - A Book Review

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The first thing you need to know about this Tom Clancy's SSN is the one thing I had to learn the hard way. Contrary to what the title says, this is NOT a Tom Clancy book. Some toolbag author supposedly cowrote it and then Tom Clancy passed by, took a shit on the manuscript, and called it "cowritten". I've seen Call Of Duty fanfiction that sounds more Clancy than this book. Suffice to say, it appears that the whole theme of the book is disparaging disappointment.

The second thing you need to know about SSN is that it's written based on a GAME. And while there are books that actually pull the transition off, good for them, bad for this book. I can't say much about the SSN game because I never played it, but I was expecting a lot more from this book - being that I've been wanting to read it since I was in third year highschool.

The story starts with a very interesting premise. What if China went to war with the US? Nevermind how ridiculous this sounds now (as it did before) but who wouldn't want to see that? Keep in mind that this was written back in the 90s, just before the cold war ended, long before China started catching up on the US military program through a systematic nationwider version of "may I copy your homework". The result is pretty obvious. America triumhps effortlessly and rapes practically every piece of military unit that China has with just ONE submarine. It's so ridiculous at points you'd think it's written as substitute porn for hardcore military enthusiasts. The whole China/US battle is just slightly a notch above the premise of America invading Somaliland pirate coves.

The story is centered on Captain Mack, who, unfortunately, is the only named person in the WHOLE FUCKING AMERICAN NAVY. By comparison, a single chapter of the Chinese story Three Kingdoms which is the oldest novel in existence, has 20 characters with different names. Everybody else is named after their function and their ranks, and possess personalities no further than that of their position in the submarine. SSN chronicles the captain and his ships missions done throughout the war on several ridiculous rambo-style missions (which is kind of understandable since it's a game) and does not really go far into detailing the US-China war itself.

Most of the narratives sounds like it was written as though whoever wrote it really really hated the game, submarines, and fiction in general. Parts of it, no, a good healthy portion of the book is practically a slightly embelished activity log of somebody who knows half shit about submarines. To make things worse, the enemies are about as poorly constructed as the main storyline, most of them acting mindlessly as though they've never received even the most basic of training or even a hint of common sense. The way the Chinese navy got portayed in this story is so poor, you might as well call it blatantly racist. There's not a drop of Chinese blood in my veins but hell, even I got offended.

I read this book only during the times I had to take a dump, so I read slowly - and it was like watching a very slowly unfolding trainwreck that made me cringe every other chapter. The writing quality is rudimentary, repetitive and absolutely horrible to the mental facilities. Dialogue sounds like it's being spat at by one of those Command and Conquer units, limited to only one or two unique lines. I tried skipping an entire chapter and found nothing of value was lost. As I've said earlier, I've seen far better work in the annals of the internet. Writing quality-wise, this has got to be the worst book that I have read in many many years.

As a final word, the only way I can recommend this is if you have brain cancer and the only way for you to survive is to kill enough of your gray matter cells as fast as possible. At a little over 350 pages, this piece of bajongo shit is a better alternative than the much more elaborated and painfully meandering Twilight series.

Verdict: Fuck you Tom Clancy you fucking sellout sunnovabitch. We loved Rainbow Six and Red October but this is just too much to put up with.

Buendia Bus Bombing - My Take

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A so called "big bomb" is said to have destroyed a bus along Buendia avenue earlier, but according to Senior Superintendent Froilan Bonifacio, chief of police of Makati, they're still determining what kind of bomb it is. It's a true tragedy indeed, and it starkly reminded me of what happened a few years back, which also happened early in the year, if anybody remembers. The Valentine's day bombing, attributed to the Islamic group happened along EDSA and killed and injured a lot of people as well. I can't begin to imagine how people really find motivation in doing these things. What could be so bad that injuring innocent commuters would be justifiable? We're not in the Middle East. We do have religious friction but thankfully not enough to cause this kind of atrocity!

I don't think the damage sustained by the bus looked like it's a very big bomb. But then again, we have to at least have an idea what the cops think of a "big bomb". I feel that releasing such a statement so early in the investigation is both haphazard and sensationalist, and the media will have another field day with this one. Just take a look at how close the media got to the bus (yet again)

I do hope that this has nothing to do with the military looking for an excuse to start moving against whichever objectified threat they have in mind. While I can't claim that this has been true for previous cases, theories that go around the net like this can't possibly have zero basis. So here's to hoping.

As for the unfortunate victims, right now, I just hope for the best for them and their families.

p.s. I wanted to get into more detail on the bomb specifics, but I'd rather wait this one out first for more information to be released. So far, everything's just sketchy. Will update as soon as we have more data to crunch. If I were to make a half-assed guess, judging from the partial vectorized explosion of the shatterproof glasses, it'd be a high-impact fragmentation grenade of sorts. 40mm? The energy is too focused and there's not much burn inside.

How to Spot Batingting/ Catch tampered taxi meters

Working in a field that renders me lacking sleep a lot of times a week forces me to take the taxi very often. Even though I often say I want to die in my sleep, I have no intention of doing so behind the wheel, where insurance does not cover me. But it's not like taking a taxi gives me a license to relax and just sleep. On the contrary, I feel more stressed riding a taxi than riding a jeep. While the latter's lack of suspension makes you feel like you're being constantly ass-wrestled by a midget, the former is more likely to rip you off.

Batingting is a term for modified taxi meters, presumably based on the sound that plays in the drivers head everytime he gains a peso out of naive passengers (a tagalog equivalent of KA-CHING). I encounter batingtings a lot and by a lot I mean from 2004 up to now, I've already lost count of the times I spent finding how taxis cheat their meters in the Philippines. So much so, it's turned into almost a sport for me. Or maybe more like a gamble. Spot the cheat, save money.

Sometimes when I call their BS, the drivers are honest enough to come clean. Other times it don't end aspeacfully. For the cases of the former, I have in my possession a lot of recorded statements from taxi drivers about these things. For both, I have various information on how batingtings really work.

1. Rule numero uno is to not follow the LTRFB guidelines. An unbroken meter seal (that blue/yellow plastic rope that ties the meter down) does not prove shit. A lot of drivers testify, the modified meters are being installed from within LTRFB, BEFORE the seals are applied. That's like the cops being the ones responsible for stealing your shi --- oh wait.

2. Batingtings are not limited to old cars, old meters, and old drivers. One driver admitted he'd only been in the business for a few months. His car was a latest model Vios and his meter was one of the fancier ones I've seen. These heinous meters are so ubiquitous, I wouldn't be least surprised if pedicabs started carrying fake meters.

3. Pushbutton batingtings are waning already. The past few years, I've been seeing less and less drivers who rely on batintings that require them to trigger a button to increase the fare. I suppose it's already become too obvious to anybody who pays attention, when the meter starts jacking up two increments higher in a single breath. This is partially because the newer cars have much more sensitive electrical circuits, and adding a connection from the aircon or the radio to the meter will cause the whole thing to short. (The problem's already existed before, but it was usually not bad enough to fuck up the car computer. This is also the reason why the older batingtings are attached to radios with busted displays)

4. The new batingtings, specially for the newer meters rely on adjusted distance. The standard distance-based fare is 30 pesos for the first 300 meters, then 2.50 for every additional 200 meters. Fake meters alter this and make it 150 meters or even 100 meters. It's harder to detect because 1, passenger eyes are not accurate distance measurement devices and 2, the driver doesn't have to do anything. It's also preferred by drivers because they always have the "oh the meter's broken, thank god you noticed" excuse when caught. The "running horse" meter, or the one with the animation of a running horse is particularly notorious for this because the adjustment feature is already built into the frigging meter, like it's been built specifically to buttrape passengers.

Here are some tips in catching these batingtings/fake meters:

1. If you ply a route often, set various waypoints for a particular route and try to memorize how much the meter reads on the average. After a while you'll see the price stabilize, and a spike reading beyond two fluctuations or so might mean you're being gipped. Keep in mind that even though you're in traffic, the wait-based fare doesn't increment until after a couple of minutes so it should not affect the fare that much unless you're in really heavy shit. This has got to be the most effective tool in catching crooks, unless in some twisted future all taxis are cheating - in which case I do hope our GPS devices will get more accurate distance measurement features - and laser beams that can destroy souls.

2. Fake meters usually come into play at night, as told by at least three drivers. This is because some batingtings still require some alterations to the meter, which would come in the form of thin wires attached to the meter. Keep a sharp eye on weird protrusions on the meter.

3. Related to #2, some batingting drivers have the habit of holding the stickshift in such a way that they are blocking the meter. To work around this, sit in front or since that's not as advisable for when you confront the driver, sit in the middle of the back seats.

4. For the newer batingtings that alter the distance increments, notice that some drivers tend to keep a low maximum speed even when in high-speed areas. You will notice these by the fact that they never go over third gear even when its clear that they can have the economy advantage of shifting up. This is because the moment they get too fast, the increments will happen at an impossible rate, and the meters will look obviously tampered.

5. For the older batingtings, it's pretty standard fare, as mentioned in my previous article. A broken radio, a driver who keeps on pressing things that shouldn't be pressed, and increments that happen too close in succession.

6. The last thing I can say about detecting batingtings is that the ones using them are just humans - not in a sense that they bleed but in a sense that they cannot keep up the BS without flinching. A lot of them tend to start getting distracted when you look like you're paying too close an attention to the meter. Some of them will try to keep you distracted by talking to you, but if you know your psychology, a man who has something to hide will always sound different from somebody who doesn't. Keep your guard up and your instincts sharp.

As a final word, I refuse to acknowledge that all taxi drivers are scamming dickheads. I have met a lot, more than I can count, of drivers who honestly go to work everyday expecting fair pay for fair service. Sometimes the meters are indeed defective, and they come out with it the moment you ride. Even if they don't, sometimes it's not really the drivers fault. A polite inquiry into an unusually fast meter oftentimes results in a peaceful resolution of the matter. It's all a matter of taste, really.

Executive Entertainment Malacañang Style

Monday, January 24, 2011

And now for the most important news of the day, selectively censored in the spirit of Philippine Journalism.

Because when the most important man is on a break from pleasing everybody else, somebody's gotta please him back.

Math and Journalism

Friday, January 21, 2011

They don't mix.

Associated Idiocy

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I don't really get how some people can be proud of really useless things. Like parents who are proud of having tall kids. Tall kids? That's lazy. It's not like you worked hard to make your kid grow taller. That's genetics at work. You basically just sat there and waited for your offspring to hit it big in the genetic powerball. And what does being tall do to your kid anyway? I mean apart from being a choice pick in barangay league basketball and getting to stand at the far back during class pictures? Pointless shit.

Another thing I don't get are the people who tend to associate too much pride in membership of a certain group. Schools seem to be a number one example here - specially when the UAAP season kicks in. I don't get it. I'm a graduate of DLSU, but never do I find it necessary to use it as an excuse to make it appear I'm so much better for it. DLSU is filled with just as many retards as there are good, outstanding citizens. And even if I do happen to be the one idiot standing amongst a company of geniuses, that's not going to make me any less of a jackass would it?

And it doesn't stop in schools. In the corporate world, you'd see people proudly waving around their company like its Fortune 500 status somehow reflects in the boring lackluster jobs they're holding. That's like bragging around that you and Angel Locsin are hitting it off because you happen to pass by her billboard every morning. (hint: You are not)

I dread the day I take pride in where I belong rather than in how I am regarded there. Because otherwise, I'd be practically a groupie. Groucho Marx once said "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member". I suppose the same holds true for me.

The Secret Of Immortality

I saw one of my oldest stories again on some website a while ago, posted by a person I have never talked to, met, or even crossed online paths with. He's not even Filipino, and I can't recall any friend from his race. But it's there, and he says it's his favorite. He even made a nice caricature for it - something I've always wanted to do but never could for the lack of talent.

The story is almost seven years old. I realized just now that these things we impart our momentary feelings on - these short, ephemeral, dreamful tales - they just might outlive us, being passed from one imagination to another, never stopping long after our ink has run dry, our flesh has returned to the earth, and our bones have turned into ash.

Perhaps therein lies immortality.

Sanduguan: How it really happened

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Red Book - What School Was Like

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(note: this is just an overview. There are a lot of seperate posts on the topics covered here, and I tried my best to include them all under the same tag, for your reference)

See, my school wasn't exactly one of those high end educational institutions that had their own swimming pools, airconditioned classrooms, or covered basketball courts. What we had on campus was our own quadrangle which I've always thought as oddly named because the vacant space in the middle of our campus had more than four sides. It served as our basketball court, playground, and marshalling field. How we made use of the vacant space was up to our imagination. Occasionally, it will rain so hard that the only drain in the middle of our campus gets clogged so our quadrangle turns into a makeshift swimming pool - or rather puddle, which we kids took advantage of by running around getting our shoes and clothes wet, for reasons I still cannot recall, but back then it felt like such a brilliant idea.

So yeah, there wasn't much recreation to go around, which is probably why I have assloads of memories of us playing the usual games of taguan, cops and robbers, agawan base, patintero, and "suntukan hanggang may umiyak". But then again, if you've been keeping tabs, I spent my preschool and first grade in a school fit into a single floor of a particularly rundown building built by people from an alternate dimension where windows don't exist. Any classroom setup that let me see the outside world every now and then, and did not contain refugees from the Gulf War was an upgrade.

One thing worth noting about our school is that while other schools like to claim they were built on top of cemeteries, WW2 concentration camps, and vampire lodgings, ours was the real fucking deal. Everytime somebody tried to dig around, bones would turn up. That kind of explains why we never have gardening class, and why there's always that weird guy from Funeraria Jose gleefully standing by whenever there's construction going on.

Our school looked like a fort, with three buildings and the nearby church forming concentric walls that protect the quadrangle from the prying eyes of the outside world. Each building was a about three floors, with the lower grade classes on the lower floors and the higher grades on the higher floors. This was designed on the basis that younger children have not yet learned to avoid hauling packs of books everyday by finding improvised lockers, since lockers seem to be tools of satan in the view of our teachers, and having to climb three stories everyday with such a load would turn them into vegetables by the time they hit fourth grade.

As for facilities, we had a library which housed materials that haven't been updated since 1982 (this was still the case up until 1999, seven years after the cold war ended). We had a canteen, crewed by the living dea - err - our dear canteeners. We also had a media room, which still had those fancy slide projectors that haven't been in production since the Vietnam war. It wasn't really until two years before I graduated that the school wised up and started upgrading their equipment. By the time I left, we had a library that had data on the last two administrations, working internet, and a science laboratory that no longer looked like it was bought second hand from a mad scientist (although the preserved fetuses were still around. Who the fuck uses those anyway? It's not like we need to see dead babies to study biology.) We also had a music room, which had no music instruments save for a vertical piano which I've always wanted to use but could never do so because we weren't allowed to touch it or even look at it directly.

Interestingly enough, there's only one music teacher for the entire school, teaching 6 gradeschool levels, 4 highschool levels, at 5 sections per level on the average, containing about 45 students per class. You do the math.

The tuition fee was lower than average, but it was still well above public school education. The place was founded and run by Belgian missionaries, which may sound good Chocolate-wise, but trust me, there is no chocolates involved other than what my mom used to bribe my teachers so they won't snap one day and just strangle me to death instead of sending me to the principals office. These bribery cases are more often than one might think, since it's more of something that's bound to happen at least once per school year (yes, I was quite the little tool back then). But I digress.

PS3 Jailbreak Philippines/Greenhills : A Guide

Monday, January 17, 2011

This article post serves as a repository of what I know so far about PS3 Jailbreaking, specifically for people who aren't savvy enough to break their own system, and have to rely on them usual shops in Greenhills.

I finally bought a PS3 this weekend after three years of long contemplation. Contemplation involved reading up on the current events in the PS3 homebrew community. After late last year's revelation of the PS3 primary keys, I figger it's only a matter of time before the PS3 as a whole is fully cracked, and there'd be not much need for shady solutions to *ahem* direct drive loading of games. It's a very interesting time to be involved in the community.

I won't bother to explain the jailbreaking history so far. Right now, however, jailbreaking your PS3 simply means you can play games that have been copied directly to your hard drive, or games stored in an external hard disk connected to your PS3. This means you can get backups of games from certain shops, load them into your PS3 or HD, and you can play them already as though you had an original disk inserted in your PS3. To add icing to the cake, backup games are loaded faster than the originals, although they tend to eat up more space. I'll take the time now to say that the best unit for jailbreaking are the large hd models like the 320GB and the 500GB, because while you can store the games in a portable hard disk, storing it inside the PS3 is actually much faster.

So what PS3 models can be jailbroken? The answer is everything, except R2 (Europe). From what I learned from the peeps at Greenhills, some units tend to reject the Jailbreaking tool. I don't know a lot of details though. In any case, any variation of the Fat/Slim units in any disk size should be fine.

To jailbreak, you only need to buy a jailbreaking tool, which is a USB dongle. I haven't memorized the procedure yet, but I'm sure you can find the exact procedure online. The most popular version available in the Philippines right now is the Amazebreak, which isn't the original, but works just as fine. It costs about 1500 including "labor", if you call it that, in Greenhills. It's noninvasive, so you shouldn't have any problems with warranties as long as you uninstall the software before sending it to Sony if ever anything goes wrong.

Backup images can be downloaded in Greenhills at about 100 pesos a pop. Not bad, but do consider that some games may have certain compatibility issues. You can check online listings to see which these games are. Metal Gear Solid is already one of them.

The downside of JB'ing your PS3 is that you will not be able to access the PSN. The PSN requires the latest version of the firmware. Amazebreak requires, at the moment, only 3.41. If you upgrade to 3.55 or higher, it will disable amazebreak and if you're SLIM, as mentioned above, you will have no choice but to avoid jailbreaking the unit again. In the future, the required firmware of newer games will be higher than 3.41 such as GT5. Currently, Amazebreak manages to spoof the version by telling the PS3 it's already in 3.55 even when it's not. This allows games like GT5 to be played, but it can't work for all situations. For more concrete solutions, we're relying on the community to provide something in the near future.

As of writing, downgrading from firmware version 3.55 to 3.41 is only available for the FAT models. Attempting to do so in SLIM models will BRICK the model. So if you updated via PSN or GT5, you gotta just sit tight and wait for better solutions to come up.

So that's about it. The future of bootlegged software in the PS3 is brighter than it ever was for the last four years. Even with the limitations today, there's a lot more in store for the community, and it's only a matter of time for even the exceptions to be removed.

As a last word, I'd still say I'm buying original whenever I can, partly because I want the best games to be played stable, but also partly because I want to support the games development community. How you go about things, however, is entirely up to you.

Basic Meeting Minutes

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ano Ang English Ng Singaw?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The official medical term for "Singaw" is mouth ulcer, which sounds worse than it really is. Americans also use the term Canker Sore or Cold Sores, probably just to spite the British for laying the claim of naming one of the most common oral annoyances next to uttering the word "actually".

Singaw is derived from the local idea that when heat builds up in the mouth, it has to release it somewhere, causing the lips to bloat and eventually develop a hole from where heat is expelled. I'm guessing somebody teaching a class of students accidentally switched his geology manual with the one for biology, so now we have to deal with volcanoes in our mouths.

All things considered, there is no real quick cure for singaw. I should know. I get these sores at least once every two months, more often if the weather keeps on switching from blistering hot to nipple-chillingly cold. It happens so often I wouldn't be surprised to see one day a singaw developing inside a singaw. I should go get surgery and attach a zipper to my lips. When a singaw is about to form, I'd just unzip that motherfucker. "There you go, minivolcano."

That said, having a singaw is not fun. You sound like an idiot when talking and trying to avoid hitting the sore at the same time, and you can only eat certain types of food without ending up twitching on the floor in agony. Of course people will always act like they've never had singaw before when they ask you what's in your mouth.

To which, it's always interesting to say, "Oral Herpes. Wanna kiss?"

Philippine Current Events, The Lighter Side Of

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A brief summary of news:

1. LRT and MRT hikes have been approved. On one hand, a lot of people will now be forced to use other means of transportation, on the other hand, reduced ridership equates to less chance of having to travel from Taft to North station with some dude's armpit stuck 2mm away from your nostrils.

2. Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo cannot be sold, says Senator Recto. The two places are historical. If by historical, he means that the place is filled with old people and antiquated equipment that wouldn't be out of place in a WW2 film, then yes, he's correct.

3. Still more brouhaha from that one representative who badmouthed a stewardess. Somebody should tell them the MMFF is already over and done with. No more awards will be given. The stewardess is acting like she hasn't been in the industry for 20 years and the congressman is acting as if we actually voted for him.

4. BOI has reported that immigrants from China and Korea have grown by almost 50% between 2007 and 2009. By 2015, Malate will be renamed Little Korea and the rest of Manila will be annexed by the new Metro Chinatown.

5. Charice makes a perfume endorsement. If she requires you recruit 2 members to be come a member of the sales team of the perfume, we may be looking at a real Pyramid scam in the works. Okay that was low. That's not the real news. The real news is the news is actually running out of interesting things to report on. Nobody cares about this.


Monday, January 10, 2011

So I was visiting the new Ragnaboards earlier, convinced that my day has been good so far, until I chanced upon a sidewall that said:

I died a little. P***ina, ano daw?!

Red Book - Childhood Chow

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Back then, if there's one thing I sucked at more than Math, Art, Science and pretty much all school subjects in general, it's the ability to not lose my lunch kit. From the first grade up until senior highschool, I probably lost enough Tupperwares and Colemans to send the children of a house-to-house salesman to a college somewhere in England. After a while my mom kind of wised up and thought it more cost effective if I just bought food in school for lunch. This post is my recollection of the places where I spent those lunches in (whenever I hadn't unwisely spent/saved my lunchmoney for other things stupid kids waste money on).

Chirlay - Chirlay sold affordable tapsilog, longsilog, and tocilog meals. From what I recall, at one point in time, the franchise was successful enough to have two branches. The branch where we ate, however, was a bit more special due to its location. While the place itself was decently clean, it was situated strategically beside the Parañaque river, which gladly gave us the entertainment of guessing what kind of dead animal was floating by (it seems we saw at least one everytime we tried) or what kind of garbage was nearby basing solely on the putrid smell emanating from the waterway. The damn place was beside something that was less of a body of water than an open canal so that was kind of expected. The tapa was good though, and when you're a kid looking for a decent budget eatin', that's about all that matters.

Ka Pabeng - On the grounds of bang for buck, Ka Pabeng has to be the cheapest. Even as late as 1999, Ka Pabeng offered a heaven of a lunch for a paltry 35 pesos. You get one viand, which is often touted as catering-quality, a cup of sopas (albeit the sopas tasted like water with macaroni bits - which my friend Chris fondly called "sagmaw" or water used for washing rice), and unlimited rice. Read that. Unlimited RICE. They'd serve a plateful of rice on your table and everybody around you could get their fill. When the plate goes empty, they replace it with more. If you were early enough, that rice could also be fried rice. I'm not sure you remember for your case, but if you're adolescent, it seems that your body requires you enough calories to run a steam locomotive. Giving a teenager unlimited rice is like throwing water into a nuclear meltdown. It will help, but you're going to need assloads. I'm not sure if this place is still around, or if teenagers like me have cleaned the place up. You never bet against the appetite of a teenager. Never.

Palengke TakeOut - Admittedly the shop does not have any name, and this is about as close as a name as I can give it. Located on one of the aisles of the old La Huerta fleamarket, the PTO offers meals packed into one styrofoam, which in my humble opinion, is a generous amount of serving already - and at the vice-friendly price of less than 25 pesos. PTO proved essential during those times that you needed to take your lunch somewhere away from school due to lunchbreak play practices, newspaper collection drives, and simulated prison breaks. Best item on their list is the everpresent spaghetti which includes half a tasty slice. The sauce doesnt taste like spaghetti sauce any more than the bread tastes like garlic bread, and the color seems to be caused by Achuete, but for some reason I really liked it.

Minute Burger/Burger Machine - You know something that's surprising about Burger machine and minute burger? Their bulilit burger back in 1998 costs about 10 pesos for two pieces. This is at about the same time as when a regular yum costs 15 pesos. Now the regular yum costs about 40 pesos, while the bulilit burger is 20 a pair. It's still damn cheap - as it was back then, which greatly enabled us to save money for other shit like playing computer games at rental shops until our eyes turned red from exhaustion.

Bahay ni Mrs. Andrade - One of the more seasonal places where we ate - our grade five adviser managed to convinced us to eat at her house, which was a stone's throw away from our school. Even then, we knew she was a widow and that it'd help boost her household income, and she knew what exactly we undernourished kids needed - academic leverage. It was the ultimate combomeal. You got food on your table, and plus points on your exams. If you're a kid struggling with grades like me, that's what a real happy meal is all about. Of course there's always that weird vibe of having to eat inside a stranger's house complete with the literal teacher's pet DOG whose only wish in life is to TEAR THE HUMANITY OUT OF YOU with its MONSTROUS CANINE TEETH. But then again, the embotido of Mrs. Andrade was barking awesome so it was a well-offset risk.

Sol-Anne's - Back in the early ninety's, two women Sol and Anne decided to stop working for hotel establishments and just start their bakery for god knows what reason. This became what was to be known as Sol-Anne's. The meals in Sol Anne's was anything but cheap. Even in 1996, a meal there would fetch you 40-60 pesos, and the servings was just enough. The cheapest meal we knew there was the Lumpiang Ubod with rice, which is probably the best vegetarian meal that my young finicky self accepted, not counting cheese curls and other junkfood. For its price though, you get treated to really awesome tasting food, and sightings of lots of Paulinians (students from the all-girls school across ours). Even to this day, if you ask me where to find the best tasting versions of certain viands, I'd point that place out. Even after they relocated to somewhere further, I gladly walked fifteen minutes just to get dem good eatin.

Airport City Mall - This has to be the ultimate dining experience for me back in highschool. Airport City Mall is not a restaurant. It's a freaking mall. It's also worth noting that it's situated 1.5 kilometers away from school, whereas every other entry in this list is no more than 200 meters away. In exchange of course, at my time ACM was the only place there was a Jollibee, a decent arcade, a cinema, and cheap shit merchandise. Its very existence was like a gauntlet thrown at the faces students. Adding to the difficulty of distance, jeeps only passed by the place when they're going towards it. Going back means walking about 300 meters before you can ride a jeep. It was always a dare to go there, at risk of being late, to reap eating regular Yum and playing arcade. The only safe way you could go there without cutting classes was to rely on the "shortened period" system which is so complex that I'd rather not explain here. Short version of it is you get to have a lunch longer than one hour so you get more time to go there. But not us of course. We beat the game, managed to go there, eat lunch at Jollibee, play an entire playthrough of Soul Edge, and run back to school with just enough time to catch our breaths before the school bell rang. It's a power lunch story I'd be so proud to share even to my grandkids one day - but they'd probably be able to play arcade from their brains with their neural implants, and tell me I'm just making shit up to sound like I had it hard. At which point, by the powers bestowed by the Republic to aging people, bitchslap them until they start believing in my story and in the Second Coming at the same time.

But I digress.

You're probably wondering why, for all the horrors and complaints that I have on these establishments, I still end up eating there anyway. The answer is quite simple - the better known alternative, which is staying in school and eating canteen food, is still far worse in my opinion. We've always thought that the only difference between our all-boys school and prison is that at the end of the day we got to go home, while they on the other hand got to eat better.

5 Types of Drivers You Meet At the Parking Lot

Thursday, January 06, 2011

1. Man in the middle
Remember back in preschool there was always that one particularly handicapped kid in EVERY class who just couldn't keep color with crayons within the lines no matter how hard he tried? Remember how he messed up every coloring book in the playarea with his shitty muscle control? Well, that kid has grown up and has apparently managed to save enough to buy a car. Now he's messing shit up in the parking lot instead, parking in middle of TWO parking slots whereas ONE slot would have SUFFICED. This guy doesn't understand the concept of parking lines - yet somehow, miraculously, manages to not choke to death when breathing through his stupid gaping mouth.

2. The waiter
Okay, so not all parking lots are as vast and accomodating as McKinley Hill (Where the ratio of parking lots to actual cars interested in visiting the borefesta that is the Piazza is 50 to 1). At some point in our lives, we have to wait for a free slot because the parking area is full. For The Waiter however, "some point" might as well be "always and forever". Any parking slot farther from the mall entrance than by at least six meters is already equivalent to a 25km endurance run for this lazy bastard, and might as well be nonexistent. Nevermind the fact that the 1 minute additional walk is paltry compared to the half an hour spent waiting for a slot near enough for this sloth-of-a-driver. To make things really retarded, this is the same bastard who was driving like the world is ending behind him earlier, presumably going by the logic "the sooner he gets to the parking lot, the sooner he can waste time waiting for shit" .

3. That guy with a deathwish
As early as 1846, mankind already knew the deadly effects of Carbon Monoxide on people. That's a good 164 years ago. You'd think by this time, people would already know better to not stay inside vehicles that tend to produce assloads of this gas when idling. Apparently, stupidity is more persistent when horsepower is involved. No, that guy with a deathwish will have none of that monoxide poisoning nonsense. He will sleep inside his mini-suite, crank up the airconditioning, and rest the good rest - possbily for good. He goes by the defense that if car companies did not wish for drivers to sleep inside their cars with the engine running, why did they make the driver's seat reclinable and the aircon only available when the car is started?

Throughout the animal kingdom, various species go into rituals of mating calls to attract potential partners in procreation. FLOWIN BEATZ mimics this by playing RnB, house, and sometimes unforgiveably novelty music loud inside his parked car with the windows rolled all the way down, hoping that his god given talent in pushing the volume button would be enough to attract fertile women across the savannah. Unfortunately for this guy, he achieves the exact opposite, warding off any potential copulation from a two hundred meter radius. Sometimes I still wonder why these types exist. I assume they're not getting sex, but somehow they still manage to increase in number - which brings up the theory that sound waves from shitty songs induce male asexual reproduction. Doctorate candidates take note - this is one for the books.

5. The Sadist
The sadist is the top predator of the parkinglot ecosystem. He knows how to push all your buttons and by god he's going to push harder than a mother who's giving birth to a fully furnished luxury SUV. The Sadist has a lot of moves, but nothing better exhibits his characteristics than when he's about to leave an obviously crowded parking lot. When a lot of people are waiting for freed up slots, you'd see him go to his vehicle and spend half an hour preparing to depart, occasionaly stealing glances at the ever growing impatient you with a tacit message "fuck you bro. You want this slot? You wait for it". He'd take his time checking tire pressure, arranging the groceries, and learning some new trade skill like organic farming, all at the expense of your time. And just when you've had it, he walks out of the vehicle and LEAVES. Because he wasn't really GOING ANYWHERE. He just knows you want his slot so bad. And he wants you to writhe in pain for it. In another instance, the SADIST drives up to a payparking exit seemingly without any idea of what people do in payparkings (they park and then they PAY). The sadist will pull up at the cashier who asks for a parking ticket, and look at her as though she's asking for his first born as payment. Nonetheless, the sadist will look for the ticket as though it were the holy grail, and would only find it THREE DAYS LATER when the line behind him would already have accumulated to about half of EDSA's rush hour population. He will then gladly proceed to pay with either the highest possible denomination (if a 100,000 peso bill exists, the Sadist will keep it just for this occassion) or in the lowest possible increments (forty pesos in one centavo coins is 4,000 pieces of useless shit) and count them one by one like a Shakespearean Jew and then proceed to haggle, not because he's cheap, but because he knows YOU are behind HIM and YOU HATE what he's doing. Avoid this type at all costs, even if it means you have to turn your car over to the towing company for parking somewhere illegal. Trust me, a towing fee and a traffic violation is a lot cheaper than hiring a top criminal lawyer to absolve you of righteous manslaughter.

1AM Thought

Our obsessions with movie sequels show us that we're a culture that's becoming more and more afraid to experiment with new things. Our penchant for the past seen in revivals of the dead and dying instead of creating wholly different works show us that we're becoming more and more afraid of the future. That whoever says that tomorrow will be brave, bold, and strange, and live to see it will be dumbfounded by the reality that the future will in fact be cowardly, trite, and exactly as it was in the past.

Don't Have Enough Friends In Real Life?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why not try buying your way online? Smart's Pasaload integration with facebook is the biggest thing to Sex EB since the launch of those TV text chat channels. People who are coddling fake accounts of sexy fictional women are probably creaming their pants right now.

PLDT Bandwidth Cap: Why It Makes Sense

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

This article is a repost of what I wrote a few months back, after rumor spread that ISPs in our country are implementing speed capping. Speed capping is different from bandwidth capping (the one approved by ITC) in a sense that instead of limiting the total amount of data you can get from the internet, ISPs will limit the maximum speed that you get it. While this is happening already in a sense because your ISP package has speed limits, speed capping also applies for selected services, like torrenting and video streaming. But I digress. Speed capping is NOT implemented as far as I know, but in the near future, bandwidth capping might. And even if clients do get pissed off about it, PLDT/Globe/Bayantel still has a lot to gain even at the cost of losing clients. (hint: This is for those angerfags who say "I'll just switch to the other ISP! You'll see!)

People of course are saying it's a bad business call, and barring any moral transgressions/indignations it may have, is it really a bad business call?

On a pure business sense, I think it's sensible.

See, ISP connections to other countries aren't like the ISP connections that we have at home. They're not exactly unlimited, and the business model of giving people unlimited internet connection is based on the idea that people will never be able to utilize their internet connections's actual worth when translated to the per byte fee ISPs have to pay for some of the outgoing connections (due to some arrangements with other ISPs in other countries)

Network equipment, of course need to be constantly upgraded for as long as bandwidth peaks rise, since most equipment can only handle a certain amount of bandwidth before they gain sentience, look for a pistol, and shoot themselves. Upgrading costs more than a shiny penny, that I know.

Above is the traffic internet percentage trend from 1996 to 2006 and as you can see now, it's speculated that more than 60% of the total bandwidth consumption online is because of peer-to-peer. It's said that somebody who uses torrent consumes the BW load of at least 20 normal users (even those fags who use youtube whose videos average 40mb per video)

That also means maintaining the account of a single torrentfag who downloads at least 1 gigabyte worth of data every other daycosts at least 20 times as much as a normal users who contents himself in sending email, and answering facebook quizzes with only occasional downloads.

Suppose one in every five ISP user is a torrent user and after the cap, he leaves for another ISP. That means the total average consumption will go from 24 average users to just four average users and still maintain payments for four users. That means the profit margin actually will rise if the torrent users leave for other ISPs.

The decrease in cost is so great compared to the decrease in earnings, I wont be surprised if all ISPs start pushing hard for this capping even though most of the users will rant to hell and back.

Bottomline is, if losing 20% of your customer base causes your costs to fall 95% for the total population, it's practically a goldmine strategy.

Of course, this move is a huge step back for people just beginning to exploit the potential of the internet in the only way third world countries can. As for myself, I'd stay neutral until I see where this leads.

In any case it'll be a most interesting case.

p.s. (Most interesting will be the wails of dramafag torrent junkies who'll pull no punches in making the most ridiculous of justifications despite the bottomline that majority of torrenting/p2p is really just related to pirating shit off the net. Don't be hypocritical, you know what I'm talking about.)

When Not To Use Agile SCRUM

Note: This is a bit of a technical post. I was planning on writing something absolutely useless as always but I got preoccupied at work. So here's a short article on something work-related instead.

SCRUM is an iterative, incremental methodology for project management often seen in agile software development, a type of software engineering. But seeing as you're already reading this, I assume you already half understand what it's supposed to be.

Personally, I think AGILE is the revival of the hacker ideal. By limiting the normal overhead that plagues more traditional project management, developers are empowered to be actually more productive. The system is not without drawbacks, but by God, it really works.

Now the problem with AGILE is what's also so good about it. Because it works for some cases, a lot of people tend to start assuming it will also work for a lot of other cases. Simple isn't always the best. Because if we'd always think simple, we'd still be using abacuses to read this blog entry, if that's even possible.

So when does AGILE not work? Here are some situations where applying it may be forcing the issue:

1. When there simply aren't enough people. AGILE/SCRUM is an overhead-saving tactic, but it doesn't mean it has no overhead of its own. For very small tasks or very small teams that can be easily coordinated through other more ad-hoc means, AGILE/SCRUM is overengineering (ridiculous as it may sound, it does happen)

2. When the budget/schedule is fixed. The thing with AGILE/SCRUM is that it relies on the idea that the cycles are sustainable, ideally for a lot of iterations. In reality, this is hardly the case. Very few products that stay in an evolutionary development phase for so long tend to survive financially. Clients want their product stable, finished, and perfect. Theoretically speaking, the first iteration should produce something usable already and the succeeding iterations are for evolving this first release. The problem with this is that one, the client/schedule is almost always greedy and will keep wanting more, and two, when the budget is fixed, you only get to have a finite number of cycles - which forces you to plan out in detail, which defeats the idea of SCRUM in the first place - which is to avoid the rigidness of planning. In the end, when you use AGILE for the highest level of project management, you are forced to either deviate from the dogma of AGILE, or extend beyond the budget, which is almost always a project killer.

3. When the requirements aren't managed well. The basic idea of AGILE is to code fast, show to the user, and let them tell us what they think of the system. In a positive scenario, for every iteration, only 20% of what was added gets to be modified. Anybody who's worked with particularly influential clients, of course, will say that never happens. Without strong grounds for locking down what is needed, a simple change in whim, point of view, or even contact person will combine with the AGILE ideology and cause utter chaos on your project. Large chunks of rework means additional resources being consumed by the project, which is exactly what you need to avoid if you need to keep things "simple".

As a conclusion, I'd just say that AGILE is a really good tool, but purists are most definitely wrong when they start saying that it's something that replaces traditional project management entirely. On most pure large scale scenarios in the corporate industry, relying solely on AGILE/SCRUM is a big no no. A lot of real-world factors, some not mentioned above, will affect the effectiveness of the methodology unless duly addressed by supplementary techniques.


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