The RubeTube

Life's a cube.  Solve it.


August 31, 2006
Move over, Jerry Yan. There's a new idol from Taiwan and he plays some wicked guitar (and he has long hair too).



His name is Jerry Chang, or "JerryC". The song he's playing is a kick-ass rock version of Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D, a classic classical piece. He wrote the arrangement himself and if you want to rock as hard as Jerry, you can visit his website and pick up the tabs and the background music track there (in the "Lessons" section). I guarantee that after listening to it a few times, you will get a serious case of Last Song Syndrome. You can download a WMV version of the video here.

Ironically, a guy named "funtwo" was the one who got famous on YouTube (most discussed video of all time!) for performing JerryC's "Canon Rock" arrangement. The New York Times did an article on him which revealed his true identity: Jeong-Hyun Lim from Korea.



There's been some serious JerryC-versus-funtwo debate about whose performance was better, but I couldn't care less (though I feel that JerryC is better just because he's the original). I just wish I could at least play the chorus.

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August 30, 2006
Did a bit of blog-tweaking:
  • Removed the meebo me widget. I timed the loading times of the RubeTube with and without the widget, and it was significantly faster without. It was cool a while back because I could see if there were people on my blog but it was rarely in use. Perhaps I'll put it back in the future if I become an A-list blogger. I still use meebo though.
  • Modified the template so that the you can see the blog entries organized by date. I've been meaning to do this for a long time already.
  • Rearranged the sidebar so that the important items are more easily accessible at the top.
  • Changed the look of the title more to my liking.
I felt really productive today.

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August 29, 2006
For the longest time (not counting my dorm days), I've been sharing a bed with my brother. It's a double-size bed that probably 20+ years old which used to belong to my parents.

Don't get me wrong; we don't do it out of "brotherly love" (yuck) or anything like that. We all sleep together at night in the master's bedroom: my parents, my older brother Jerome, and me. It's basically two to a bed. That's been the arrangement at our home ever since we discovered the energy-saving benefits of using just a single large bedroom with an airconditioner running. My brother and I have an actual room of our own but the last time we slept in it was when I was seven years old (if I recall correctly). My two sisters had their own room which was similarly "abandoned" (my eldest sister Vanny moved out this year).

But since my sister Tricia moved back into the house (she used to stay in an apartment near the Internet café she runs), the family bedroom became a little bit more cramped. Because there was no extra bed in the room, she had to squeeze into my parents' bed. Now, a month later, my parents decided that we should move out. My brother and I moved to our sisters' old bedroom which already had two single beds. My sister took the double bed with her and settled into my old room. There are aircons now in both rooms but we don't use them to save on electricity.

To be honest, I'm having difficulty adjusting. For one thing, there's no television in our room. And I'm used to sleeping with the aircon on. But I really miss being in one room together with my family. I don't miss sleeping uncomfortably and having to jostle for the remote control. I simply miss being in each other's company, even if we don't talk to each other a lot. Our family doesn't have many problems, but admittedly, we're not very close to one another. Even if it is a little bit forced, it'll be hard to replace the quality time we spend together every night.

I'm going to miss my dad's incredibly loud snoring. I'm going to miss watching my mom do her novenas before going to bed. I'm going to miss those moments when we all decide to watch a movie on HBO or a golf tournament past midnight.

I feel like a part of myself has already been lost.

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In belated celebration of the 21 years and 1 week of my life, here are 21 random facts about myself. Exclusively on the RubeTube, of course.
  1. My all-time favorite food is bacon. I'd eat it for breakfast without hesitation. Same goes for lunch and dinner. I like 'em slightly burnt, toasted to a crisp, with all the excess fatty oil removed.
  2. A teacher from fourth grade (Mr. Angeles) in Ateneo Grade School was the one who gave me the nickname "Punzki". He wasn't even one of my regular teachers; he just proctored us for one of our quarterly exams. He announced the top scorers for each subject and he got tired of saying my full name so he came up with this ridiculous nickname.
  3. I failed Biology in Philippine Science High School in my third year for one quarter. I flunked because I didn't do my lab reports and I always went to lab sessions unprepared.
  4. 17 is my favorite number. It's the most beautiful number one can think of. Prime numbers are inherently beautiful, and 17 is the "most prime" prime number. And 17 is so obviously prime. You can't say the same for "2" or "29" or "97". 13 comes a close second though.
  5. My parents say I looked like E.T. when I was a baby. And sadly, it's true.
  6. My preschool years were spent at G.O.A.L. Montessori, a school inside our subdivision. G.O.A.L. stands for "Gift of Advanced Learning". I'm not sure if I ever learned anything advanced.
  7. I am one of the most asymmetrical people you will ever meet. My left hand fingers are longer. I can hear better with my left ear. My left foot is bigger and that makes it hard to buy shoes. When I say every part of my is asymmetrical, I mean every part.
  8. I've always been good at math, but I never really liked the subject. I just wanted the A's.
  9. I first used a computer when I was 5 years old. I started with GW-BASIC on a Philips 286 PC clone which cost a fortune back then.
  10. My first email address was mark@freemail.webquest.com. Webquest is a long-dead Philippine ISP. I remember having to use Eudora Lite as my POP3 email client. Do people still use that?
  11. My ICQ number is 19812952. Now when was the last time I used it? Heck, I had to search for myself on their People Search to remember my number. I'm pretty sure that's me unless there's another Mark Punzalan born on August 22, 1985 nicknamed "Punzki".
  12. I learned how to whistle by sucking air in instead of blowing it out. I always thought that was the way most people did it.
  13. I composed the musical arrangement for our high school batch's graduation song. Well, most of it anyway.
  14. I once had an allergic reaction from eating a choco-flavored lollipop. I thought it was absurd to get an allergy from a choco-flavored lollipop but I've never had any since then.
  15. I actually like airline food. Most of the time.
  16. I have never played DotA and I've only played Counter-Strike once. I don't like to be "in" when it comes to gaming.
  17. I never learned how to properly eat with a spoon until I was 16 years old, in high school. I always thought you were supposed to hold it like a shovel at all times until someone pointed out my lack of dining etiquette.
  18. I totally pissed my brother off when I deleted the hard disk partition from our 286. I was 6 years old then and I was curious if "fdisk" was a game.
  19. My favorite computer game of all time is Civilization. Sid Meier is a genius. Who cares if it's unrealistic that a phalanx can defeat a battleship?
  20. I puke whenever I try to eat squash or any of its derivatives.
  21. I can't swim to save my life. They say it's impossible for a human being not to float in water but I'll never believe them. I don't float.
As a bonus, here is a cute (?) kiddie photo of me, circa 1988:



Boy, this is gonna be much harder next year...

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August 28, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

I had loads of fun hunting for a job, but it's gotta end sometime, right? Read the first two parts of this trilogy for a recap. First up, the companies I didn't end up with and why I won't be working for them. BTW, there's a new entry on the list (stag).
  • BlastAsia - They actually gave me the best offer in terms of base pay. However, I didn't feel that BlastAsia was a place where I wanted to build my career.
  • Google Labs - I was rejected by them after interviews. It's either they didn't have a position for me or (more likely) I wasn't qualified enough.
  • Matahari Studios - I turned down their offer earlier on in the process because I felt that the game development industry in the Philippines wasn't mature enough. Also, I simply didn't feel like taking another game development job.
  • Microsoft Philippines - I guess my application was eternally in limbo; never got to the interviews.
  • Navitaire - Still don't know why I was rejected.
  • Orange & Bronze - I have nothing but the greatest respect for these guys in their mantra of "Software engineering done right." I think they will do well in the future and will make a name for themselves. However, I was a bit apprehensive about working for another smal; startup.
  • Pointwest Technologies - A solid offer similar to BlastAsia's, but there was nothing that set them apart from the other software companies offering me a job.
  • Smart Communications - Smart came a close second. Good compensation package with lots of benefits and they offered a challenging position where I was sure to learn a lot. However, one of my short-term goal was to get exposure in software engineering and an R&D position at Smart couldn't really offer much of that.
  • stag - Type 2. Jojo referred me to them. I got an offer right away but it wasn't particularly enticing.
  • Stratpoint Technologies - For some reason, they never got back to me on that postponed offer appointment date.
  • Webworks OS - Of all the software companies I interviewed with, I honestly felt that Webworks had the best setup. They worked with the latest Microsoft technologies, weren't into outsourced or consulting work, and they had a wizard of a CEO. I turned down their offer because I didn't feel like Webworks was the kind of place that I could make a name for myself on the long run.
And surely by now you must've figured out (or scrolled down to find out) where I'll be working...



Why did I choose HP? Take a look at the five things I wanted in my next job. HP certainly fits the bill for me (or at least it's the best available fit).
  1. Opportunity to learn. HP will groom you and set you up with what you need for success your position. And the great thing about it is that you have a say on what you want to be.
  2. Good working environment. HP has a nice, well-lit workplace, with offices in convenient locations. I have no doubt that HP is among the places with the best working conditions.
  3. Opportunity to work with the best people. I am not so sure about who I'll be working with; HP is a huge company after all. However, if there's one thing I really like about HP, it's that the managers are your friends and they really care for you and your career. Even one of my friends who resigned from HP after less than a year couldn't deny that fact.
  4. Opportunity to make an immediate impact. I don't know so much about this, but my manager has assured me that he will personally set me up for success. I expect to be working on the most challenging assignments where my skills will be really put to the test.
  5. Compensation package that will make me hard to say no. To be honest, I almost wanted to say no. Yes, HP laid a decent offer on the table, but the truth is that it was disappointing for me. However, after considering the additional benefits (of which there are many) and the other factors mentioned above, I accepted their offer. Besides, if I'm really as good as I think, I could just work my way to the top, right?
So that's that. In summary, I chose HP because of my long-term career goals. HP offered me the opportunity to remain in control of my career. HP is the place where I could make a name for myself in the I.T. industry (and not just locally). I'm an achiever and I feel like a person like me would fit perfectly in HP.

I signed up with them last Friday, August 26. My official job title is "ITO Support Specialist 1" simply because every recent grad starts off as that. The kind of work I'll be doing is in software development. I'll be working out of HP's office in Ortigas. I'm still in the process of completing the paperwork but I don't expect any problems with that. My first day of work is this Friday, September 1. I was given the option of starting on the 18th but I didn't want to wait that long. I'm excited about getting down to business and showing them what I've got.

Hello, working world!

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August 26, 2006
Ever wondered how to add those "Add to..." buttons (e.g., "Digg this!", "Add to del.icio.us") to your site or blog? A lot of people are doing it and there are some good sites where you can learn how. It takes a bit of effort though because you have to copy and paste those URLs and add those cutesy little icons too.

I soon gave up on this because I figured that there just had to be an easier way. Enter Bookmarkz. It's a service that makes it a cinch to add social bookmarking links to any page. Just select the social bookmarking services you want to use (a whopping 94 to choose from!), choose whether you want just icons/text/both, specify a separator, insert the generated HTML code into your template, and that's it! Here's an example of how it'll look like:



One disadvantage with Bookmarkz is that it's a bit slow to load. So if you noticed, you won't see any bookmarklets on the RubeTube's main page, but you'll find them in the individual item pages (take a look here). But that's okay because Bookmarkz will only work on individual pages because it bookmarks by the page title and URL, so I can't use it with every single item on the main page.

If you are using Blogger, you'll probably need to add Bookmarkz' HTML code someplace after <$BlogItemBody>. Enclose it in an tag to make sure it only appears in the individual item pages:

<$BlogItemBody$>
...
<ItemPage>
<script src=...></script>
</ItemPage>


Give Bookmarkz a try today!

P.S. You may have noticed that I have no shame in promoting services that I like. It's just my way of helping out; people who have a normal life don't have time to learn about these things. Too bad I'll never get any endorsement deals (probably not anytime soon anyway).

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This handy-dandy tip is for Blogger users who want to get rid of the Blogger NavBar that pollutes the top of your blog. If you've decided that you simply cannot live without the NavBar, then turn away before things get messy.

Edit your blog's template and add the following HTML code in between the <head>...</head> section of your template. It should be near the top.

<style type="text/css">
#b-navbar { height:0px; visibility:hidden; display:none; }
</style>


For Blogger beta users, use #navbar-iframe instead of #b-navbar:

<style type="text/css">
#navbar-iframe { height:0px; visibility:hidden; display:none; }
</style>


If you already have an existing CSS stylesheet, then simply add the above rule for #b-navbar (#navbar-iframe for beta users).

BTW, I am not saying that you should remove the NavBar. I believe that you should have a choice in whether or not you want a NavBar on your Blogger blog, especially if you think that it affects your site's aesthetics (like I do). Consider that having a NavBar can be a benefit to your readers, especially to those who like to blog-hop.

Also, another thing to consider. I'm not a lawyer, but after carefully reading through the Terms of Service, I don't believe that removing the NavBar counts as a violation. Take a closer look at point #10, which states that you can't remove Blogger's advertising. I don't think the NavBar counts as advertising; they don't make any money from having it displayed. However, be a nice fella and provide a link or a button back to Blogger somewhere on your blog.

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August 25, 2006
Three minor changes to my blog over the past day:
  • A button to Pinoy Top Blogs over there on the bottom of the sidebar. Keep on hitting my blog to boost my ego, or at least get me to the top 150. Also click on the button to vote for the RubeTube. I don't know if the voting system actually works though.

  • MyFavatar
    A nifty favicon, hosted online at MyFavatar. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Looks kickass, doesn't it? I got sick of that crummy Blogger "B" icon. If you can't see a tiny Rubik's cube icon in your address bar or browser tab, clear your browser cache and reload.


  • Finally, an upgrade to Blogger Beta. Saw the invitation to switch to the beta on my Blogger dashboard and didn't hesitate to click. I want to start using labels, but since they're not yet supported by the old templating system, I'll have to wait awhile.
Man, that favicon really looks kickass.

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(Nope, I'm not referring to myself.)



Believe it or not, this guy is a Filipino. Here's the proof. Well, he's half-Filipino, but we'll proudly claim anyone famous with even a tiny drop of Pinoy blood as one of our own (sad, but true).

Ryan Patricio's the current world record holder for solving a 3x3x3 Rubik's cube with one hand. That's the record-setting 20-second attempt in the video. Mabuhay ang mga Pinoy! More about Ryan here.

I pride myself in being an above-average Rubik's cube solver (50 seconds on average), but I'd already be in Rubik's cube nirvana if I could do 20 seconds with two hands (my current record is 30 seconds, and that was a fluke). I ought to buy a good cube online because the ones available here in the Philippines just plain suck; you can't turn a face with just one finger.

Unsurprisingly, Ryan ascribes to the Fridrich method of cube-solving, arguably the fastest method available. I don't use the Fridrich method myself, and neither do I plan to. I use a personalized version of what is simply known as the "X method". Don't try to Google for it; you'll never find it published anywhere. I just learned it in high school from a classmate, who learned it from another classmate, who learned it from... well you get the drift.

Nobody knows the origins of the X method, and it has very few living practicioners. But that's gonna change once I tell the whole world about it. I'll be detailing the X method here one day, exclusively for the RubeTube (now you understand what's with my blog's title), so that you too can do the cube the "X" way.

Anyone know of tools for creating Rubik's cube diagrams?

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August 23, 2006
It's no longer August 22 in any part of the world. It's so nice to know that the Earth is still in one piece after some wacko scholars predicted the beginning of a nuclear war on my birthday. World peace? Best birthday gift ever. What more could a guy want?

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Sacha came up with this interesting idea: advertising on a laptop. The target audience is relatively small, but the rates are dirt-cheap and you have the premium option of having Sacha do your sales pitch.

With a little more time and planning, and better execution, this idea could seriously take off. Your ad-space won't get mass media-level exposure, and it probably won't make you a net-millionaire, but it's definitely worth a try if you're the sociable type of geek like Sacha. However, no one can beat Sacha when it comes to pure, unadulterated geek appeal:
It's the irresistable combination of cute geek girl _and_ insanely tiny laptop.
On a side note, the idea of advertising on personal objects is not entirely new. Take the case of Formula 1 race drivers who are walking billboards:


And more recently, we have the Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao, whose million-dollar boxing trunks in his bout versus Oscar Larios were a stroke of lunacy genius:


At the front...


...and of course, at the rear

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On my way home today from HP in Ortigas (job offer), I rode the MRT, as usual. One of my fello standing passengers was this foreign lady (caucasian, most likely American) who had a male Filipino companion. As the train was passing over the bridge overlooking the Pasig River, she pointed out to the shanties by the river (which looked half-decent from afar) and remarked to her friend, "Wow, it sure must be nice to have a home by the riverside!"

Hmm...


Yeah, I guess it would be a nice place to live in, if you ignore the fact that your toilet would still be cleaner than the river even if you didn't flush for a week.

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August 22, 2006
Oh yeah, I just turned 21 an hour ago!

Happy birthday to me!

A comment would do. Electronic greeting cards are also welcome. You may email me at punzki [at] gmail [dot] com. Or SMS me at +639064973012. Now would be a good time to try the meebo me widget on my blog. How about singing "Happy birthday", recording it, and sending me an MP3? Or a video of it? Better yet, post your video on YouTube and send me the link!

Or... how about doing all of the above?

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August 19, 2006
Question: How do you declare a constant/finalized/unmodifiable C-style string in C/C++?

If you answered

const char * s = "I AM CONSTANT";

then you are dead wrong. Just try adding

s = "DEAD wrong i tell ya";

and get WTF'd. If you tried it out and got stumped by the result, you're not alone. I thought I was a C/C++ hotshot myself until I read about const-correctness. Digest the following, please:

// changeable pointer to a constant string
const char * s1 = "i am a constant string";
s1 = "not really"; // legal - literal strings return a char *
s1[2] = '!'; // illegal - s1's contents are read-only

// constant pointer to a changeable string
char * const s2 = "Let's try this again";
s2 = "sure that works"; // illegal - s2 itself is read-only
s2[2] = '!'; // legal - DANGER! will crash program

// constant pointer to a constant string
const char * const s3 = "i am teh ultimate constant string!";
s3 = "yep"; // illegal - s3 itself is read-only
s3[2] = '!'; // illegal - s3's contents are read-only


Working in C/C++ can be such a pain at times. There's just too much mental wrestling involved. You would think that just by saying "const" that it'd be obvious to the compiler that you don't want it to be modifiable. The language doesn't make it easy to express what you want to express. Maybe that's why I'm trying to learn Ruby.

(Many thanks to Miguel who was WTF'd by "const char * const" and challenged me to find an explanation for it.)

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August 18, 2006
There's been quite a lot of progress since my first report (read for a recap).
  • BlastAsia - Status: Job offer received (software engineer). No difference from last week, except that my deadline for deciding passed two days ago. I've asked for an extension though.
  • Google Labs
  • HP Philippines - Status: Waiting for job offer. I'm done with all the interviews and I should be expecting an offer by Tuesday.
  • Matahari Studios - Status: Job offer rejected (game developer). I've already informed them that I won't be accepting the offer. I told them the truth: that a position in game development is not the best choice for my young career at this point.
  • Microsoft Philippines - Status: Waiting for interview schedule. My application seems to be in limbo but Jojo has assured me that it's being taken care of.
  • Navitaire
  • Orange & Bronze - Status: Job offer received (software developer). There's really no deadline on this one.
  • Pointwest Technologies - Status: Job offer received (software engineer). I just received an offer from them via email. It's a good offer and they've given me up to Wednesday to decide on it.
  • Smart Communications - Status: Waiting for job offer. I'm done with all the interviews (not to mention a hellish medical exam) and I should be expecting an offer by Tuesday.
  • Stratpoint Technologies - Status: Waiting for job offer. I was supposed to come to their office this morning but they rescheduled the appointment at the last minute to next Wednesday.
  • Webworks OS - Status: Job offer received (software developer). They made a solid offer but I told them I couldn't make a decision at this point. The deadline was today and I've been told that there would be no assurances that the position would still be available next week. Still, I'd rather risk that then regret a hasty decision.
So now I'm just waiting for all the offers to come in. I have two top candidates at the top of my list but there's no telling where I'll end up until I make a final decision. I honestly am a bit annoted that some of these companies are pressuring me into making a quick decision, but I understand that they've got a business to run too.

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August 17, 2006
I'm one disgruntled and frustrated Smart BRO customer. And I'm not the only one. I rarely go bonkers over anything, but the constantly resetting connections and incompetent call center agents will drive anyone crazy.

But despite all its failings, Smart BRO is still better than no Smart BRO. The broadband revolution is upon us, my friends. It is time to unlearn the virtue of patience that our forefathers have taught us. The information superhighway is no place for plodding pedestrians.

Damn, dial-up is slow.

P.S. Please don't subscribe to Smart BRO unless you enjoy pain. You have been warned.

(I got so carried away, I totally forgot that I'm waiting for a job offer from Smart. Oooh boy. Bah, whatever... customers have a right to complain!)

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Should I use Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, or some other alternative? I'm looking for an online photo album, not just a photo hosting service like ImageShack. Any comments for or against any of these? Thanks.

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August 16, 2006
In case you hadn't noticed, I've made some changes to my blogroll. But that's okay, you shouldn't be able to notice the difference anyway.

I decided to migrate my entire blogroll to my del.icio.us. I took a look at BlogRolling as an alternative but I decided to use del.icio.us since it could serve the same function and I don't like having too many accounts on all those services trolling the web.

There are a number of advantages to this. If anyone wants to see my blogroll, you'd just have to look at my bookmarks tagged "blogroll". Also, it's easier to maintain since I don't have to fiddle with my Blogger template when I need to make changes. All I need to do to display my blogroll is to insert a nifty linkroll script. Lastly, if ever I decide to move my blog, it'd be easier to move the blogroll as well.

BTW, if you're still not on my blogroll (and you want to be on it), please drop a comment.

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If all goes well, I ought to have a job by the end of next week. I've narrowed my choices down to around four; more on that in the next jobhunt update.

Thus begins my countdown to employment. Most people would spend their final days of freedom being a bum at home or going out with friends (although this is impossible for me since all of my friends are already employed). But I am determined to make the most out of this opportunity to learn a few things that I might be able to use at work.

My current to-do list is as follows:
  • Read up on agile software development. Martin Fowler's articles are a good resource; also check out this article for a good overview (with parts 2 and 3). So far, I am a believer. I've done some Extreme Programming before (as an elective) but I never really saw the light before because our instructor was such a pain.
  • Learn Ruby on Rails. There's a lot of buzz going around that it's ten times faster to develop a website on RoR; my goal is to separate the hype from reality. From what I hear, it's probably that much faster when compared to PHP, but I'm an ASP.NET person so I'll be coming from a different background. Good tutorial here and an e-book here. I haven't experimented much with it so all I've learned so far is that Microsoft makes the best documentation in the world and that open source communities don't put as much effort.
  • Watch Ouran High School Host Club. 13 episodes lined up. Hey, who says I can't bum around just a little?

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August 15, 2006
Here's a trick on how to generate more visits for your blog by exploiting Yahoo Messenger status messages and the voyeuristic nature of human beings.
  1. Think of an interesting statement, one that simply begs for attention. Example: "Argh, I was tricked!!!"
  2. Append the URL of your blog to the statement generated in Step 1. Example: "Argh, I was tricked!!! http://punzki.blogspot.com"
  3. Use the statement from Step 2 as your status message on YM. Your status message will appear as a hyperlink to your blog on your contacts' lists. Also works for meebo or any other multi-protocol chat client that supports customized messages.
  4. Watch that counter skyrocket in a matter of minutes as your YM friends fall for your trap!
  5. Generally effective for 24 hours, though it helps to reformulate your status message every once in a while.
Bwahahahaha!

(Addendum: Alright, enough of this; I won't use this cheap tactic again. Sorry to those who were bothered. But it really did work though.)

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It's just speculation, but I sure hope that the nuclear apocalypse could wait until after my 21st birthday. Crazy American (and Russian) prophets.

Seriously though, according to the Mayans (the true masters of the universe), the actual end of the world won't come until December 2012. It's either on the 21st or 23rd, depending on which Wikipedia article you want to believe. Until then, carpe diem!

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It's been a while since Blogger's had any new features. There's good reason to believe that Google's been ignoring the Blogger community while the rest of the blogosphere (e.g., WordPress, LiveJournal) has been steadily moving forward.

Google has recently rolled out "Blogger Beta". Check out the new features here: a blog designer, more feed options, and of course, labels (didn't I predict they would use the term "labels"?). Kudos to Google for listening to their users and finally getting back on track in the free-blogs competition.

Like any Google beta, not all existing Blogger users have been given an invitation to migrate their blogs to Blogger Beta. However, unlike your usual Google beta, anyone is free to try it out.

Thank you once again Google, for all your hard work, but where's my invitation?!?

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August 14, 2006
You've heard the buzz about Windows Live Writer. It's a true WYSIWYG blog editor (Windows-only, of course) that lets you see how your entries will actually look once they're posted. I think this is a great idea coming from the Live team... if only it would work for me. I've been searching all over for any advice on what's causing a "QI for IEnumVARIANT failed on unmanaged server" but it seems that I'm the only person in the whole blogosphere experiencing this.

I've already reported the bug but I'm not hoping for a response; I think mine is an isolated case. In the meantime, I've stumbled upon a very capable alternative: Performancing. It's a Firefox-only plugin and it doesn't offer true WYSIWYG, but if this entry is successfully posted (I'm using it right now), then I'd say it works pretty well. They also offer a service that tracks your blog's metrics. Try it out and see for yourself.

Drawback: there's no feature like in Blogger's editor that allows you to upload photos. Hence no obligatory screenshot. There are also a few kinks here and there, but nothing too annoying.

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August 13, 2006
Today, the 13th of August 2006, marks the first anniversary of my wonderful romance with my one and only Andreé.

For those of you who don't know her, we've been blockmates/coursemates/batchmates for four years in college and we graduated together last March. She's working right now for Canon (in Eastwood, Libis). Our hearts met 365 days ago and we've been going strong ever since.


Don't we look so good together? I love you, hon!

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August 11, 2006
After resigning from E-Commerce Percs, here are the companies that I have applied to, in alphabetical order, along with the current status of my applications, the company's type, and a few personal notes:
  • BlastAsia - Type 2, 3. Status: Job offer received (software engineer). BlastAsia is almost purely a .NET shop. They were nice enough to give me two offers: one contractual, and the other as a regular. The environment seems nice but night shifts are not uncommon.
  • Google Labs - Type 3. Status: Rejected after interviews. Google would probably be a really nice place to work for me, but maybe I'm just not ready yet. At least I can say I was good enough to be interviewed.
  • HP Philippines - Type 2. Status: Waiting for interview schedule. HP offers specialized training and a good working environment.
  • Matahari Studios - Type 3. Status: Job offer received (game developer). Matahari Studios is a gaming company whose headquarters is in Australia. They recently opened an office here. I'm not too hot with the prospect of working as a game developer again though.
  • Microsoft Philippines - Type N/A. Status: Waiting for interview schedule. This application is not for a software developer job. Jojo Ayson told me they are looking for a full-time academic developer evangelist. Great company and an interesting career option.
  • Navitaire - Type 3. Status: Rejected after interviews. I still don't know why I was rejected. The interviewers seemed really excited to get me on board.
  • Orange & Bronze - Type 2. Status: Job offer received (software developer). Actually, it's not a formal job offer; I'm just supposed to tell them if I want to join O&B. Small start-up consulting firm specializing in Java solutions.
  • Pointwest Technologies - Type 2. Status: Waiting for job offer. Nice office and the company is not too large that you'll feel like a mere cog in the machine. CMMI Level 3.
  • Smart Communications - Type 1. Status: Waiting for job offer. This is a Type 1 job of the better kind. If I join Smart, I'll be part of their research and development team who gets first shot at new ideas and technologies. At first I thought I'd be offered a developer post, but now they just made it tougher to decide.
  • Stratpoint Technologies - Type 2. Status: In interview process. Stratpoint is currently in the process of moving to a new office. There's something a bit creepy about the fact that I was asked what my relationship status was.
  • Webworks OS - Type 3. Status: Waiting for job offer. Former internship company. One of the more "hardcore" .NET software development firms. Solid leadership and technical direction. They use only the latest Microsoft technologies and practices. Somewhat inconvenient location.
It's no joke to apply for so many companies at the same. I feel so stressed out already, and I'm not done yet. I've had 1-2 interviews/appointments per day this week. The interviews aren't the source of my stress; in fact, interview are really fun! It's the constant commuting and the long walking stretches that get to me. But still, I would rather have as many options open as possible. As Calen from Orange & Bronze told me, when you make the decision to join a company, you have to have no regrets whatsoever. I'm having trouble deciding though; I have a short-list of candidates, but I'm not leaning towards any particular company yet.

Time to rest now. Thank God (most) offices are closed on weekends.

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August 10, 2006
I don't usually recommend a lot of movies, but if you have a few hours where you've got nothing to do, watch the movie Click. I know I write sarcastically a lot but this time I'm dead serious. But you have to watch this movie my way. Here's how.

The first step is not to read any material about it. Don't read any reviews or any blogs that discuss the movie.

The most important thing that you must do is to watch the movie by yourself. I know it's a comedy, but don't bring any friends, siblings, parents, kids, or even your significant other. If you can, find a seat that's isolated from the other viewers. And don't bring in any food into the theater. No popcorn, no hotdogs, no soda. Turn off your celfone and don't let yourself get distracted. Just sit down, watch the movie from start to finish, giggle by yourself a lot, but you have to immerse yourself in what you're watching and remember everything you watched.

After the movie, relax in your seat for a minute or two while the credits roll by. This next instruction is as important as the previous ones: don't discuss the movie with anyone. You can say you've watched it, but don't give hints about the plot, don't write any reviews, don't blog about the story. In fact, don't even comment on this entry to tell me how much you loved or hated the movie. But you have to encourage everyone you know to watch it the way you just did (if you followed my instructions).

Oh, and if you followed my instructions and you didn't experience the Click effect, I'm truly sorry. If you feel like I've convinced you to waste your time, let me know and I'll try and find a way to make it up to you.

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August 09, 2006
Last Saturday, I had a chat/interview with Joey Gurango, Microsoft Solutions Architect MVP, CEO of Gurango Software, and also CEO of WEBWORKS OS, where I worked as a software developer intern for two months last year. I was interested in what's been happening at WWOS since I left the company, but more importantly, I was interested in an entry-level position.

It turns out that after my stint, WWOS had transitioned from being a consulting/outsourcing firm to one that focused on product development (and they massively cut down on the number of their employees in the process). I was wondering what the difference was when Joey mentioned that there were essentially three kinds of software development jobs:
  1. In-house software development. You'll be working to develop software for your employer, just for internal use or for providing services to their customers. If you work for an "I.T. department/group", then this is probably the kind of software development job you have. Basically, the company isn't really a software company and instead of having some consulting firm address their needs, they decide to do things on their own. One obvious disadvantage of this kind of job is that the software development process will most likely be very informal; the software might not even be subjected to any QA work at all! Because of this, project lifecycles tend to be short. Of course, this depends on the project; if the system will be used by customers, it will have to undergo rigorous testing before it goes into production. But chances are that you will probably not learn much about processes and methodologies even after a year.

    If you are serious about learning the craft of software engineering, you really have to think about the experience you will gain from working for a Type-1 company. Examples of Type-1 companies in the Philippines: Smart, Globe, any bank, any organization that's not a software company.

  2. Consulting/outsourcing. Your company addresses the I.T. needs of other companies. Therefore, the quality of the software you produce determines your company's reputation, and hence the number of future projects will you get from your clients and from referrals. Quality is given more emphasis than in a Type-1 company so the processes and methodologies used are well-documented and strictly followed. QA work is a must and the painful steps of requirements gathering and system analysis are given much thought. The source code is usually turned over along with the finished product. As opposed to Type-3 companies (see below), Type-2 companies tend to become bigger and bigger over time in order to be able to handle more projects. Because they need to get as many minds as possible, their hiring standards are relatively low (but this is definitely not a rule).

    You'll gain experience with software development, but the amount of experience points you'll get depends on the reputation of the company and the potential for growth within the company. It's possible that you'll just be a coder for years without getting an opportunity to participate in design and planning. Examples of Type-2 companies in the Philippines: Accenture, HP (does consulting for P&G), Soluziona, Orange&Bronze, tons of companies out there with "Solutions" or "Consulting" in their name.

  3. Product development. The experience with a Type-3 job is very similar to the one you'll get with a Type-2, but Type-3 companies develop software (usually proprietary) that is ready for customers to use. As a rule, the software is of the highest quality because one small bug will cause headaches for all your customers and for your tech support team. Much of your work will revolve around a few product lines, and depending on the maturity of the product, you'll either be working on the initial release, fixing bugs, or upgrading the product. Very few Type-3 companies in the Philippines develop software that is sold off-the-shelf; they are usually sold directly to customers.

    Type-3 jobs are great opportunities to pick up experience. However, there are very few Type-3 jobs available here in the Philippines. Examples of Type-3 companies in the Philippines: Navitaire, WEBWORKS OS, Lakeside Technologies, can anyone name others?
In any given software company, it's possible that they have all three kind of software development jobs available. If you don't know what kind of job you'll be getting, don't be afraid to ask your interviewer! There should never be any regrets when you accept an offer.

I'm sure that there are people out there who are looking for a first job in software development but don't know what options are available for them. This blog entry is for you guys and gals who "just want a programming job". I'm not an expert on the subject by any means (anyone know of a Type-4?). But I hope I was still able to help out. Good luck (to us)!

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August 07, 2006
I talked to Ealden on YM last Thursday (?) and we discussed the possibility of me trying out the company he works for, Orange&Bronze, a relatively small consulting firm here in the Philippines whose core competency is Java EE solutions. I have a strong phobia of Java EE (from taking a tragically mishandled J2EE class) and I have doubts about the future of Java EE and Sun in general. (Former officemate Miguel also works at O&B now, as well as a bunch of notoriously well-known Pinoy geeks.)

But O&B and Java EE are not the subjects of this entry. During our chat, I described to Ealden the qualities I'm looking for in my next job, of which there are five (from most to least important):
  1. Opportunity to learn. This may come in the form of formal training or in the kind of work that the company does. If I feel that my abilities will stagnate (i.e., not having learned much) with the company, then working there will just be a complete waste of time, regardless of the compensation. In the case that I decide to seek a job elsewhere, I want to be able to say that I've grown as an I.T. professional because of my stay in the company.
  2. Good working environment. I'm a sucker for snazzy office set-ups. Pantries are a huge plus. Good lighting and ample work space is essential. And I look for small things like attention to cleanliness and good flooring and wallpaper. But it's not just the physical working conditions. I also include in this category the software development processes and tools that they use. The company should believe in rigidly setting standards for themselves. I want to experience working in a formal setup.
  3. Opportunity to work with the best people. I want to work with the best people in the business because I'll get to learn from them. I admit that much of my skill is "raw" and needs a lot of work. Working with people whom I respect will greatly accelerate the process. Also, the people who work for a company says a lot about the company's dedication to quality. A good company knows that to be the best, you have to hire the best.
  4. Opportunity to make an immediate impact. I know that I can contribute right away to any company with the skills that I currently have. And I want my next employer to recognize that. I guess this is a bit of arrogance on my part, but I need to be recognized for the years of effort I've put into distinguishing myself as one of the top prospects available.
  5. Compensation package that will make me hard to say no. The reason this is at number five is because the first four really are more important, but compensation (base salary, future raises, other benefits) is still something that I will consider seriously in any offer. I've worked my butt off in college so I want to get what I've earned. Also, the compensation package should be one that will not only pay well in the short term, but also make me want to stay in the company.
Of course, other job-hunters out there will have their own priorities; these are just mine. You've got to understand that I've barely recovered from my traumatic experience with my last job and I'm looking to establish myself in the I.T. industry to make up for lost time. There's a time-limit to which I can look for a great job (that I really want to stick with) until my credentials will start losing their luster. If I wait too long or if I hop around jobs too much, potential employers will begin questioning the career decisions I've made up to that point.

I'll be giving a status report on my current jobhunt soon. In the meantime, wish me luck!

(10th post! Wahoo!)

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August 06, 2006
Here on the RubeTube, we care about the quality of content that we deliver to our customers. We don't want to serve you trash because we truly care about the Internet environment. And face it, there's a lot of trash out there and they clog the Internet's tubes. That's why we have rules set in place to guarantee that the RubeTube is 100% filth-free.

Numero uno is: Links stink. The RubeTube is not digg. We don't tell you about the hottest news or the coolest websites because frankly, most people don't care. And if you're the type who has to be "in" on all the latest Internet phenomena, then just digg for it okay? The world doesn't need another blogger whose every post goes like "Hey wassup ppl check out this found this kewl page/Flash game/YouTube movie dat I found, enjoy!" Take our lead. We use del.icio.us to satisfy our look-what-I-found whims. You should too.

But from time to time, we do have entries that contain links to some kewl page/Flash game/YouTube movie. That happens when we find stuff (mostly dugg up) that we feel the whole world must know about. And even then, we have to channel some divine inspiration to make a writeup that lives up to the standards of witty journalism that we've imposed on ourselves. If we're out of luck, we just throw link away to the del.icio.us trash bin.

Remember, we make these rules up for you so that you can rest peacefully, knowing that we don't spew up any more crap like that last entry we posted.

(BTW, so sorry about that last blog entry. I don't usually post stuff like that. I was possessed, I swear! But really, you should check out my del.icio.us page for my bookmarks.)

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August 05, 2006
Miguel gave me this link: World eBook Fair. Free e-book downloads until August 11. Says that they've got "1/3 million e-books", which means they have a non-discrete number of e-books.

I didn't actually find anything I like there... well, nothing that I want to read right now (was looking for some good computer books to read). There's a lot of trashy material like this Adobe Premiere 6.5 New Features Highlights press release (it's an e-book?) that makes it hard for anyone to find a real gem, but you might be able to pick up a good e-book if you look hard enough.

BTW, please let me know if you find something there that's particularly interesting. Or if you find that 1/3 of an e-book that's left over.

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August 04, 2006
Don't you just love opening packages?

Dad came home yesterday with a surprise package: a brand-new Canon Digital IXUS i Zoom. My brother bought a Canon Digital IXUS II a few years back and it worked fine for a while, until it conked out sometime two years ago. He turned it in for repairs, and I don't know why, but the good fellas at Canon decided to just totally replace it with a IXUS i Zoom. How nice of them, except that they could've done it before I went to Singapore, Seattle, and San Antonio. (I had to make do with a lousy film camera on those trips.)

Anyway, this new IXUS is pretty neat. 5 megapixels, 2.4x optical zoom, yadda yadda yadda. It has a nice "cradle" which is used for charging and connecting to a computer. They were also kind enough to provide two power cords with different plugs, except that neither of them fit in standard Philippine power outlets. Geez.

If you followed the link above to the IXUS i Zoom, you'll notice that it's dated August 22, 2005: my birthday last year. So I guess I'll be keeping this to myself as an overdue birthday present. I don't think my brother needs another digital camera anyway; he's got a PowerShot A620 anyway (we just love our Canon digital cameras, don't we?).

BTW, it's my nephew Anton's 3rd birthday today and we have a little family get-together to celebrate. What a great opportunity to try this baby out!

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August 03, 2006
I have contacts on Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, and heck, even Google Talk and I find it a hassle to have all three official chat clients (two, if you consider Gmail "official") open at the same time (not to mention that YM is a notorious memory hog). Thus began my quest to find the ultimate multi-protocol IM client. I've tried a number of the multi-protocol offerings available: Gaim (looks like GTK-crap), Miranda IM (better but still looks like crap), and Trillian (looks great! but works like crap, plus no Gtalk). All of them were dead ends.

I stumbled upon meebo on my travels and I was instantly meebo-ed. I like the fact that it's web-based... and that's pretty much it. It lacks in many features but it's stable and the interface is clean and not painful to look at. I'm not saying that everyone should use it, but it works pretty darn well for me.

Oh, and as an added bonus, they've recently come up with a new feature called "meebo me". It's essentially a Flash widget that you can embed into your blog/website which allows your visitors to chat with you instantly, if you're logged onto meebo at the same time. It's just another good reason to switch to meebo.

See it in action by using the "Chatterbox" on my right-hand sidebar. Ping me and let me know that you care enough about me to read my blog!

(Not a paid advertisement by Meebo, Inc.)

I have to apologize though if sometimes I don't reply. I'm not a snob; it's just that my Internet connection has been unstable lately. Also, if you see that "punzki is away", that's usually not true. That happens because setting a customized status message in meebo automatically flags me as "away".

P.S. If you think that the meebo me widget is somehow hindering you from reading my blog properly, let me know and I will gladly remove it, if enough people complain.

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I can't sleep. It's three in the morning and I have to wake up at six for an eight-thirty interview. I'm not a chronic insomniac, but from time to time I experience bouts of sleeplessness.

The reason? I've been too caught up in my recent blogging frenzy. Right now, I can't think of anything else but things to write about during the next blogging cycle. I even have tentative titles and entire opening paragraphs stored in my head. (Please take note of the following future entries: "Job-hunt despair" and "What am I blogging for?")

Heck, I even tried counting sheep to help myself fall asleep. Seriously. You know, like in those old Ernie and Bert segments on Sesame Street. And to my dismay, at the same time that I was mentally counting sheep (it's harder than you think), I couldn't help but think about blogging about counting sheep.!I thought that this was so ridiculous (and it really is!), I just had to get out of bed blog about it. Hence this entry.

GOOD NIGHT!!!

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August 02, 2006
Every writer has a handful of words and phrases that he/she uses instinctively, without giving a second thought as to whether or not they're appropriate. These are the words and phrases that have proven useful to the author over time in those situations where you can't just think of the right transition, adjective, or conjunction to spice up an otherwise uninteresting series of sentences.

People develop these not-necessarily-bad habits by virtue of overuse. Sure, it's okay one or twice, but at some point you'll use them one time too many unless you're very careful with your word usage. If you go through the entries in my old blog, you'll notice that there's a select number of "Punzki-isms" that are used over and over again. I try to be vigilant but once in a while I'll end up using a Punzki-ism in every other sentence. On the other hand, they come in handy when trying to "stretch" an essay or a paper to make it reach the minimum-word/page-limit.

Without further ado, here's a (partial) list of Punzki-isms in no particular order, with sample Punzki usage (in italics) and commentary. Optional parts are enclosed in [brackets]. You may notice that sometimes, removing the Punzki-ism hardly makes an impact in the essence of a passage. That's just part of their mysterious nature.

basically
- "I'm a professional bum right now. My job is to basically just eat and sleep the whole day." Notice how "basically" can just be removed from this example. My hypothesis is that most Filipinos who speak decent English are guilty of overusing "basically", especially in conversations. An even more deadly combination is "so basically": So basically I rule, right?

I suppose/I guess
- "I've been gaining a few pounds lately; I suppose/I guess I need a stressful job to stay fit." Similar to "basically", it is absolutely unnecessary except as a means to get rid of that my-sentence-feels-too-short feeling.

so
(at the start of a sentence) - "Google invited all the ACM finalists to one of their offices for an interview. So we got to go to Google India since it was the nearest." The word "so" is used to express a cause-effect relationship between two events. But in this example, it would've been better to put the two sentences together or get rid of the "so" altogether.

quite/rather/particularly/somewhat
- "As you can imagine, it was quite/rather/particularly/somewhat surprising that they didn't want me on board their company." No complaints about this Punzki-ism either, except that I occassionally use it absentmindedly when a lesser degree of effect was not intended.

I'd like to think that
- "I'd like to think that they didn't hire me because I was overqualified." Nothing really wrong about it, except that it suggests a lack of confidence.

pretty [much]
- "I'm not worried; being a Microsoft MVP pretty much assures me of getting a job someday." This is one habit that's tough to get rid of. I think it's horrible when "pretty" is used in any manner other than as an adjective, but I just can't help myself. Also, it dilutes the sureness of the "sure" that follows it.

[should] probably
- "I should probably stop ranting now." I just use "probably" too often. Maybe I'm really just tentative by nature?

ought to
- "I ought to go out and look for a job instead of waiting for one to come to me." See "[should] probably".

[but] in any case
- "My friends say that with my credentials, I'll be hired for sure. But in any case, I prepared myself for the possibility of being rejected." Again, not too bad, but I tend to use "in any case" literally in any case, i.e., when it's not properly used.

[but] anyway[s]
(at the start of a sentence) - "Anyways, I'm going to go to sleep now and hopefully I'll get over it." Not much different from in "[but] in any case", but nobody ever says "in any cases". Gosh, it's so annoying when people use anyways. It's double annoying when I use it.

...
- "Goodnight, everyone..." This is, without a doubt, my number one pet peeve when it comes to communicating with people.

An ellipsis is used: 1) to indicate the intentional omission of any part of speech; 2) to indicate a pause in speech, or a trailing off into silence; and 3) to indicate a certain meekness when talking to someone you're afraid to offend someone, e.g., "I'm sorry, please don't get angry..." The three previously mentioned uses are fine. What is oh-so-annoying is that when people use ellipses as if they were m.f.-ing periods. For example: "Hello... My name is Mark... I'm a CS graduate from the Ateneo... Nice to meet all of you... I hope we'll all be friends..."

You may think that's an absurd example, but I bet you know a number of people who write like that. And it's worse when you talk to people like that on IM (or SMS): "hi.. r u busy? ah ok, sorry.. talk to u later.." (notice the inappropriate use of ellipses with just two freakin' periods; what's up with that?)

(I will save a more comprehensive rant on the misuse of ellipses for another entry. In the meanwhile, watch how you use those ellipses, people. I simply cannot overstate how annoying all those ellipses are! I notice that this "ellipsis addiction" is common among non-native English speakers, e.g., Filipinos.)

In any case, I suppose I should probably impose a rather intimidating rule that should pretty much prevent me from basically overusing those words and phrases. So I guess I ought to slap myself quite hard in the face when I use them more than once in successive paragraphs. I'd like to think that that'd be a particularly interesting method. Anyway...

What are the words and phrases on your list? Feel free to share them by dropping a comment. I'd like to see if I've missed some common ones which should belong to mine.

(BTW, I'm sorry if I offended anyone with my ellipsis rant...)

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Tags. The feature that is number one on every Blogger blogger's wishlist. If it is not at the top of your list, then please tell me what could possibly be more important in this Web 2.0 world we live in. And I don't want to use some silly hack like this or this, I want built-in support.

The guys working on Blogger will figure this one out soon enough. I mean, if I didn't have faith in them in them, I should've just gotten myself a Wordpress blog, right? But noooo, I just had to go get myself a Blogger blog. I still don't know why I didn't go for http://rubetube.wordpress.com (not a working URL). It should be simple enough since they have an import-from-Blogger tool. But right now, it's too soon to give up on Google (and it's too soon to spam my friends again to tell them about another blog when this one barely has any entries). Perhaps in the far future, if (not when) I become as famous as Robert Scoble (who uses Wordpress).

(And I will never use Windows Live Spaces, a.k.a. the MySpace wannabe.)

When (not if) tagging is integrated into Blogger, I boldly predict that the feature will be called "Labels", in true Google fashion. "Categories" is probably a good candidate as well. "Tags" won't work because they're used in templating.

But to be honest, I must confess that I'm not used to the whole concept of tagging (even if I am an avid user of del.icio.us). I'm terribly OC when it comes to consistently naming tags. Right now, it annoys me to no end that I have a tag called "parody" and another one called "oldies"; shouldn't they both be pluralized (or maybe not)? And how much different is "nostalgia" from "oldies"? Tagging becomes too much of a chore at times. Maybe the Blogger team is coming up with a feature that analyzes the contents of an entry (only available to blogs in English during beta) and then automatically assigns them tags that are consistent with those used by the rest of the blogosphere. Heck, maybe I should write this nifty program (and win an award or two).

To summarize, I began this entry clamoring for the addition of a tagging feature, and ended with an emotional critique/bashing of the tagging process and a proclamation that will most likely never come to pass.

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August 01, 2006
I've been spending the past three hours trying to study how to make my own Blogger template. (I have a lot of free time at hand.)

In the end, I grudgingly settled for a free template (K2) from Blogger templates, slightly modified to my preferences. I was getting quite frustrated already with HTML/CSS at the end of the second hour. Never was any good at web design, and it's pretty tough without an HTML/CSS reference. Nevertheless, I shall bounce back from this minor setback with a template that I can proudly call my own.

As you can see, I have a blogroll now on the right-hand side of the page. It's practically empty right now since I actually don't have a list of which friends of mine (regularly) maintain their own blogs. If you would like to be on my blogroll and/or you think I want you on my blogroll, drop a comment with the URL of your blog. Thanks.

I'm not being lazy! You see, this way I don't have to ask permission from each and every one of you. But in any case, if you're one of my friends and you decide not to post a comment, I might add you to my blogroll soon enough, if I know your blog's URL.

Disclaimer: Being on my blogroll does not guarantee that the amount of traffic to your site will increase! FYI, in case you assumed as such.

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About me



Mark Punzalan
a.k.a. "Punzki"
Location: Redmond, WA
Occupation: Softie

Current tag-line:
I'm alive!
Now reading:
The Bible (really!)
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NBA playoffs (via streaming)

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Email me: punzki@gmail.com

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