The RubeTube

Life's a cube.  Solve it.

October 31, 2006
Our house-help Marlyn was watching the PBA game between Alaska and Ginebra on TV the other night. I have no doubt that she's a genuine PBA fan, but the real reason she watches PBA games is that she's just waiting for the end of the game.

"Ending" is a (illegal) numbers game that's immensely popular in the Philippine streets. The game goes like this. Players of this game bet on a pair of single digits. Some possible bets are 1-5, 7-3, and 6-6 (the order matters); there are 100 possible combinations in all. A basketball match-up (e.g., a PBA or NBA game) is chosen as the featured game. The ones digits of the fourth quarter scores of both teams is taken as the winning combination. The first digit is the score of the winning team; the order doesn't matter if the game goes into overtime (i.e., game is tied at the end of the fourth quarter). For example, if Ginebra wins over Alaska with a score of 98-91, then the winning combination is 8-1. As another example, if the score is tied at 93-all at the end of regulation, then the winning combination is 3-3. For the most common variation of this game, only one player can bet on a particular combination, but there is no limit on how many combinations a player can bet on. It's a very simple game; there's nothing but luck involved as all combinations have an equal probability of winning.

(If you're wondering why the score has to be taken at the end of the fourth quarter, it's to ensure that all combinations have an equal probability. If we simply took the score at the end of the game, then there will be a smaller probability of a "pair" combination like 5-5 winning.)

I asked Marlyn how much it takes to place a bet on the "ending" game that she regularly participates in. She said it's 10 pesos for each combination you want to bet on. The one who bets on the winning combination wins 700 pesos (i.e., the payoff is 70 to 1) guaranteed regardless of whether or not all combinations were taken.

There are 100 possible combinations in an "ending" game. Let's assume that all combinations are bet upon. 100 combinations times 10 pesos per combination equals 1000 in gross payments for the house (or bookie). Subtract the 700 that goes to the winner, that's still 300 pesos that the house/bookie rakes in per game!

What a racket!

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October 30, 2006
This week's pick comes courtesy of my trip to Hong Kong. I was shopping around for a good laptop mouse and a good set of headphones. For the headphones, I settled for Philips SBC HN110 foldable headphones with active noise cancellation. The HN110 has great, but not outstanding sound, decent bass, cool portability, and effective noise cancellation, but in the end, I decided not to include it in this week's picks because I didn't feel that the HN110 didn't live up to the awesomeness requirements for a PoW.

On the other hand, I fared much better in my mouse-hunt. My first choice was a Targus Wireless Optical Mouse/Pointer/Presenter (what a mouthful!) because the concept of a 3-in-1 mouse was really cool and I'd be the envy of everyone in the office. The only drawback was the cost: HK$ 580 (approximately PhP 4000 or US$ 80). But when it was time to make a purchase, my practical side took over and I settled for something on the cheaper side. (Later on I would also find out that the Targus had less-than-stellar reviews.) For a mere HK$ 180 (PhP 1300 or US$ 25), I got the "Mini Wireless Optical Mouse" ("MWOM" for short). There's no brand or anything; that's just what is written on the packaging. (I found out afterwards that it was an unbranded, factory-priced clone of the BenQ M310.)

How did the MWOM end up as this week's Pick of the Week? It's simple: the MWOM is simply awesome. It works as advertised. The USB wireless receiver stows away into the mouse's body itself. When the receiver is stowed away, the mouse automatically turns off to preserve battery life. In addition, it automatically turns off after five minutes when not in use to make the batteries (2x AAA) last even longer. It moves smoothly on most surfaces and the handle is great for a laptop mouse. And the coolness factor of this baby is simply out of this world. It's no less cool than the aforementioned Targus. I get a kick out of showing the features of my new mouse to my officemates, especially the stow-away function. It has this "I want one of those too!" appeal.

For its outstanding functionality, handiness, and coolness, the "Mini Wireless Optical Mouse" is this week's RubeTube Pick of the Week.

(You're probably thinking: I'm not in Hong Kong, so where can I buy a MWOM? Well, if you've got much more cash to spare than I do, you can purchase the BenQ M310 (link above), or you can look around on eBay.)

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I've been receiving some positive feedback on a few of my posts. I'm particularly referring to the ones where I'm promoting (for free) some product, software, game, or website which I find to be useful, cool, fun, or just plain awesome. For instance, I've been getting messages from my friends thanking me for sharing Taskbar Shuffle; like me, they've been looking for something like that for a long time.

With that in mind, I've decided to start a new weekly series here on the RubeTube entitled Pick of the Week (or "PoW" for short). The Pick of the Week can be anything at all, whatever I want to share with you all. There will be an installment once a week (duh), but I can't promise that I'll be posting on any particular day. I'm assuming I can come up with something every week, of course. If I've got more than one awesome thing to share for the week, then I'll put them up all at once.

I'm doing this as a public service, absolutely free of charge. If you've got any recommendations for my next PoW, you can drop me an email, which you can find on my Blogger profile. Also, I had loads of trouble thinking up a name for this new feature so if you have a better suggestion, fire away. And perhaps you can help me come up with a logo for PoW; should be easy enough, but I just plain suck at anything graphics.

The first PoW will be available tomorrow. You'll be able to view all the Picks of all the Weeks here. Enjoy!

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October 27, 2006

(If you do not know anything about the ACM-ICPC, it's the most prestigious programming contest in the world. I've had the opportunity to be a part of it for four straight years, and I've also had the good fortune to be a part of the top Philippine team every year and making the World Finals during my last two years. Not trying to boast here; just wanted to share why this particular contest is so special to me.)

I was on-hand to watch the awarding ceremonies for the ACM-ICPC Asia-Manila Regionals, which was held earlier this evening at the Holiday Inn near Robinson's Galleria. It was really cool to be able to meet up with our Ateneo contestants after the contest and to cheer for them during the awarding. I even had a nice little reunion with Topher and Allan, my teammates from last year.

You can view the results online here. Be warned though; they are not completely updated because they stopped updating the scoreboard one hour before the end of the contest, to maintain the suspense.

In summary:
  • 1st place and automatic World Finalists - Team "Near", University of Hong Kong (also last year's Manila champs)
  • 2nd place - Team "Makegumi", University of Tokyo (also last year's runner-ups)
  • 3rd place - Team "Maximum Tomato", Saitama University
  • Best Local Team/14th place overall - Team "Persistence", Ateneo de Manila University
  • 2nd Best Local Team/15th place overall - Team "DLSU 1", De La Salle University
  • 3rd Best Local Team/16th place overall - Team "UP Green-3", University of the Philippines - Diliman
Congratulations to team "Persistence" from Ateneo! The team members are Akie Mejia, Kenny Saavedra, and Michael Tan. The gap to the La Salle and UP Diliman teams was paper-thin; they all solved four problems and were separated by only 40 points! The Ateneo has held the title of best Philippine team for five years in a row now. Let's keep it up!

Also, congratulations to the other Ateneo teams on a job well done! We put up a good fight. I am personally very proud of all of you. It feels great to be an Atenean. To all the first-timers on the Ateneo team (including Rocky Camacho, one of my students during the summer), welcome to the Ateneo programming team family. I hope you are all excited to take part in future contests!

I also have some other thoughts on the contest and the current state of the ACM-ICPC in the Philippines. I will leave those for a future entry.

(Update: The official standings are now available.)

(Addendum: In less than a day since I posted this entry, I've had at least 50 people from Japan visiting my blog. You can see this from my Site Meter visitors by location (see below). They were all looking for the contest results. I'm not complaining about the extra traffic; I just find it amusing that the RubeTube has suddenly become the "official news site" for the Asia-Manila regionals.)

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Some highlights from the two-day offsite at Eagle Point, Batangas from October 20-21:
  • Not getting any sleep the night before in attempting to (and eventually failing to) finish our new-hire presentation
  • Getting probably an hour of sleep on the bus
  • Travelling by boat to Sepoc beach for lunch and games
  • Participating in the rebus-solving game and the hellish sack race (ten people in one sack, hopping downhill and then back uphill on the beach)
  • Celebrating with the Orange team for our hard-fought overall victory
  • Wading all terrified through the water back to the boat because it couldn't land near the beach
  • Thinking of ways to cover up our failure in finishing the presentation but never got to execute our plans because of the organizers' fault
  • Acting as a literal briefcase (i.e., wearing Wackey briefs over shorts) in the "Deal or No Deal" game
  • Not being able to finish a can of San Mig Light due to an allergic reaction which made it hard to breathe
  • Playing an hour of table tennis to shrug off the alcohol's effects
  • Staying up all night hanging out with the Supplier Portal team and videoke after 5 AM
  • Finally managed to get two hours of sleep
  • Made it home dreadfully tired, but safe and sound

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October 25, 2006
October 20-21: ADSI offsite at Eagle Point
October 22: Sunday, day of rest
October 23-24: Trip to Hong Kong, Microsoft interview

More updates soon.
October 18, 2006
I have this 13x13 goban (go board, 19x19 is the standard board size) which Miguel gave me some time back. On Monday night, I taught my brother how to play go. We played without him getting a handicap and I overwhelmingly beat him. With all the stones I captured (which we use to fill up his territory at the end), he didn't have any territory left and even got a "negative" score.

On Tuesday night, it was my mom's turn. Who would've thought my 50-plus-year-old mom would be willing to learn such a mind-wracking game? Without a handicap, she actually fared much better than my brother; I still garnered a decisive victory but she had some territory left after counting.

I really enjoyed teaching them and playing go again; the last time I played was probably over a year ago. It's a game I want to be good at but I never had the time to practice. I think I'll start playing go online and watch recorded games to build up my skills.

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To compensate for yesterday's early bird experience, I came into the office today at 1 PM, which is the latest I've ever reported to work as an HP-er.

(Actually I just waited for the Smart BRO contractors to come in the morning and fix our antenna but they never come. Lousy service.)

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October 17, 2006
Barely made it to the office for a 9 AM phone conference/presentation. It's the earliest I've ever reported to work in my one-and-a-half-months tenure at HP. I'm used to coming in at around ten.

On the plus side, our customer was very impressed with my work.

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October 16, 2006
You'll have to download a neat little program called Taskbar Shuffle. It has a small memory footprint (around 5 MB), looks great in action, and more importantly, it works the way you would expect it to. This program will become part of my "must install" list on every fresh Windows XP box.

I've been looking for a program like Taskbar Shuffle for a long time. No more having to close and re-open programs (and Explorer windows) just so they're next to each other on the taskbar. An OC worker's dream!

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October 15, 2006
I drove my dad to the airport (business trip to Cebu) earlier today. Unlike my last driving stint, this time I had to drive the whole trip from start (from home) to finish (back home). I was really apprehensive about taking the car out because it had been two weeks since the last time I was at the steering wheel, but I decided to accept the job because I needed to get some practice in anyway. My brother willingly agreed to accompany us and act as secondary navigator.

The trip to the airport was tense because my dad is a terrible backseat driver, nitpicking at everything I did. The trip back home was similarly tense because I didn't have a driver's license yet, just a student permit. I'm glad to report that my brother and I got back home without much incident.

Driving = FUN!

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October 13, 2006
I've recently taken to tracking my daily expenses. I'm not sure if I'm spending too little or too much that's why I started this new personal habit (my current guess is that I'm spending too little).

Because I didn't know about any good budget-tracking software, I went with an Excel spreadsheet loaded with formulas. I started working on it at home, on my personal laptop. Then I realized it would be great if I could work on my sheet from my office laptop, or from any computer for that matter. So I turned to two online office suites that recently made headlines: Google Docs & Spreadsheets (formerly Writely and Google Spreadsheets) and Zoho.


I'm not here to give a comparative review of the two suites because I've only tried out Zoho Sheet, but from what I've seen, Zoho kicks Google's ass in terms of features and usability. Zoho feels a lot like Microsoft Office, something which millions of computer users are sure to appreciate. Also, Google's suite only offers two applications (word processing and spreadsheets) while Zoho has much, much more (presentations, planner, project management, instant messaging, etc.) and most of them are free.

I'd really like to see Zoho win this battle of the online office suites just so Google doesn't dominate everything on the web. Of course, there's still Microsoft's offering that's yet to come out and I'll be sure to try it out when they launch it.

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October 12, 2006
My parents came home from their trip to Shanghai late last week. Their pasalubong for me was a TAG Heuer Carrera Automatic Chronograph Tachymetre:

Let me make things clear: my parents did not give me something as expensive as a TAG Heuer watch. When you're in Shanghai, why would you be so crazy as to buy the real thing? The bootleg copy I have has different dials and a cheap black plastic strap.

I'd been using the same Casio watch for the past four years already. I figured it might be fun to try something new, especially an automatic watch. Automatic watches are cool because they don't run on batteries; all you need to do is shake them a bit and they'll keep on running for quite some time. They don't stop ticking even if you take them off before you go to sleep, as long as they're sufficiently "charged". And my new watch can also tell you the current month and day of the week. Wow!

Addendum: Aside from the watch, I also got a "Versace" wallet. Coolness.

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I have very weak teeth. I easily get cavities. Every time I get my teeth cleaned at the dentist (twice a year), the dentist always tells me I have at least one new cavity (one-time record: a whopping 13!), which cost a fortune to fill.

The cause has something to do with my genes (mostly mom's side) but I guess it has more to do with my poor dental hygiene habits. In the past, I averaged one toothbrushing a day, before leaving the house in the morning. After every painful visit to the dentist, I get really pumped up about changing my bad brushing habits. I'd get really diligent about taking care of my teeth, but after a week or two, I slip back to my one-brushing-a-day ways.

Right now, I've been having success brushing in the morning (after breakfast) and in the afternoon (after lunch). It helps a lot that I bought a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste that I keep in my office trolley. And brushing your teeth at work sure is fun. It's the habit of brushing my teeth at night that's difficult for me; I just can't get used to it. When I get home in the evening, I'm so tired that after eating dinner (sometimes I even don't eat dinner at home), I rush up to my room and take a rest. Should I remember to brush my teeth, I'm already too lazy to go down (my brush is in the kitchen) since everyone's asleep and it's dark downstairs.

Solution: Buy another toothbrush and more toothpaste to place in the bathroom upstairs. Next challenge: flossing.

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As I was going for my toothbrush break (more on this later), I passed by RJ Mendizabal sitting in the lobby. He was waiting for his interviewer, Eugene Teves, who was under Simon as well, like me. We chatted a bit, catching up on things. While we were talking, Simon passed us by and greeted us both; turns out that Simon was RJ's previous interviewer. Assuming all goes well with his interviews and he accepts HP's offer, it seems like we'll both end up in the same group (Supply Chain Management).

It was not too long ago that I was in the same situation: sitting in the HP lobby waiting for my interviewer. Good luck, RJ!

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Prepare yourself for the shock of a lifetime.
  1. Open Microsoft Excel 2003.
  2. Make sure that Scroll Lock is turned off.
  3. Press the down cursor key. Verify that you have moved from cell A1 to A2. Press up to go back to A1.
  4. Turn Scroll Lock on. You should see "SCRL" appear in the lower-right part of the window, where "NUM" and "CAPS" would appear if they were turned on.
  5. Now press the down cursor key. Better yet, try all the cursor keys.
  6. Repeat step 5 until the novelty wears off and you are no longer amazed.
Amazing! Verified to work only on Excel 2003. Discovered it by accident; it's listed as an actual feature though (see "Use arrow keys to move through a worksheet"). To me it seems like the Excel developers took pity on poor old Scroll Lock and gave it a sense of purpose.

Let me know about the other uses that you've discovered for the ultimate useless button. Long live Scroll Lock!

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October 11, 2006
Why? Because it's freakin' cold out there, that's why. I can't imagine how my officemates can stand this arctic office climate.

Feeling warm and cozy here in my own private little corner of the pantry.

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October 10, 2006
Andreé and I watched the movie Flyboys at SM Megamall last night. And why was I not surprised to see Jean Reno cast as Captain Thenault, French commander of the Lafayette Escadrille?

Outside of French movies, Jean Reno is almost always cast as the primary French character. I know, it makes perfect sense for a French actor to be cast in a French role, but for some reason I can't help but think of Jean Reno as the stereotypical "French guy". Whenever I see a photo of him or a movie or video with him in it, it's always hard for me to recall his name because what instantly stands out about him for me is that "Hey, that's the guy that plays the 'French guy' roles!"

C'mon, I know I'm not the only one here who knows Jean Reno as "the French guy". If you have no idea what he looks like, here are some shots of him in some of his previous Hollywood incarnations:

Does he look familiar now? He also stars in a series of UPS commercials and played a role in Mission Impossible (but I think he wasn't playing a French guy there).

Maybe I've watched too many Jean Reno movies. (Flyboys was a great movie, BTW.)

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All the HP-issued laptops here at the office are Windows XP Professional machines configured to the same standard. For some reason, the Server service cannot be found on the list of services in the Services MMC snap-in (Start -> Run -> "services.msc"). The Server service is necessary to create shared folders and printers that can be accessed over the network. As it stands, there's no way for us to share files (e.g., music and photo albums, movies) to our fellow officemates.

One of my teammates needed to transfer files from his old laptop to his new one (same as mine). Thankfully, I found a way to install the missing Server service:
  1. Go to Control Panel -> Network Connections.
  2. Right-click on your LAN connection (usually named "Local Area Connection") and click on Properties.
  3. Under the General tab, select File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks and Uninstall.
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. Go back to your LAN connection's properties and click on the Install button.
  6. Select Service, click on Add, and (re)install File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks.
  7. Restart your computer.
  8. The Server service should now be listed (and started) in the Services MMC snap-in and you can share any folder by looking at the Sharing tab in its properties.
  9. If there is no option to share the folder, go to Explorer -> Tools menu -> Folder Options -> View tab -> Advanced settings list -> uncheck Use Simple File Sharing.
Hope this hack was able to help someone!

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Exhale all air out of your lungs before descending into the water. This will ensure that you'll sink like a rock. To sink deeper and faster, push your hands up into the water above!

This tip has been personally tried and tested in the swimming pool, by yours truly. If a certified hydrophobiac can sink, so can you! Behold the wonders beneath the surface! Teach all your friends so that you can take underwater pictures!

(Many thanks to Elbert for this life-saving tip.)

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October 09, 2006
The RubeTube was offline these past few days because of this weekend's offsite (an "offsite" is defined as any event that happens outside the office and usually refers to a recreational outing). It was the first offsite of Simon's new organization, the Supply Chain Management group, which has three teams under it: Supplier Portal (my team), SAP XI, and STAR.

The offsite was staged from my teammate GM's house in Tagaytay. Some people (including me) arrived on Thursday night but most arrived on Friday morning. The whole of Friday was dedicated to teambuilding, planning, and recreational activities (videoke, poker, Cranium, card tricks) in the evening. Interestingly enough, I won all three Texas Hold 'Em games we played by a huge margin, which never happened when I was playing with the DISCS faculty. I think the "bet 1700" technique totally messed up my opponents' minds. The food we had was absolutely terrific even though we had chicken for almost every meal, but cooked in different ways. Kudos to the cooking committee for a job well done!

On Saturday, around half of the group had to go home in the morning but the rest went for a trip to Punta Fuego. We had lunch there after which we went to the beach, played some frisbee, and then relaxed in the afternoon with a dip in the infinity pool. Now I am terribly afraid of the water but I reluctantly gave into the pressure, seeing that I was the only one staying away from the water. In the end, it wasn't so bad and I was somewhat pleased to note that I wasn't the only one who didn't know how to swim. We sure had a lot of fun taking underwater pictures; will post some of them when I get a copy.

We had dinner back in Tagaytay on Saturday night and went back to Manila afterwards. Got home at 1 AM on Sunday and promptly dropped off to sleep.

Too many things happened for me to describe the whole experience in detail, but I just want to say that after the offsite, I feel very much a part of the team and the HP organization. I'm happy that I'm not just "the new guy" anymore.

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October 04, 2006
The entrepreneurial spirit is truly an amazing force. Manong (our resident packed lunch magnate) has a new racket: pirated DVDs. He's got the latest big-screen flicks, American TV series, Koreanovelas, and "8-in-1" value packs; 70 pesos for the movies and 100 pesos for everything else. Time will tell whether this new venture will become as much a hit as the packed lunches.

It's becoming a virtual Virra Mall in here. What's next, cheap cellphone casing? Fake Rolexes? Ukay ukay?

(BTW, I forgot to mention there are actually two "Manongs"... There's one for both HP floors: 7th and 14th. The one on the 7th is named "Boni"; not sure what the 14th floor Manong's real name is. They both sell lunch and merienda from the same source. I'm not sure if the one on the 14th sells DVDs as well.)

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My brother was watching Fullmetal Alchemist these past two weeks. I'd already seen the whole series over a year ago and it's easily one of the best animé series I've seen. I watched the last few episodes (and the movie) again with him and we had a blast eating Fukuda while watching together.

This morning, my brother and I somehow got into this word game (this happens fairly often, especially before sleeping) where we find words or phrases that rhyme with "alchemist" and that would go with "Fullmetal _______". Like "Fullmetal Vocabularist" (not a real word), for example. We spent a whole hour commuting to work together while playing this silly game and I do believe we've gotten most of the ones that make some kind of sense. Here are the more memorable candidates:
  • Fullmetal Anarchist
  • Fullmetal ArrayList (what the heck???)
  • Fullmetal Arsonist
  • Fullmetal Botanist (automail plants?)
  • Fullmetal Catalyst
  • Fullmetal Communist
  • Fullmetal Con Artist
  • Fullmetal Guitarist (rock on!)
  • Fullmetal Impressionist (or Cubist or Pointillist)
  • Fullmetal Masochist
  • Fullmetal Metallurgist (or simply "Fullmetallurgist")
  • Fullmetal Metaphysicist
  • Fullmetal Methodist
  • Fullmetal Narcissist
  • Fullmetal Nudist (that is so gay)
  • Fullmetal Optimist/Pessimist
  • Fullmetal Pharmacist
  • Fullmetal Philatelist
  • Fullmetal Rapist (err...)
  • Fullmetal Scientist
What a great way to pass the time!

Addendum: Like I said, this word game is an absolutely awesome great way to pass the time. Here's some more that I dug up on the trip home:
  • Fullmetal Analyst
  • Fullmetal Capitalist (nemesis of Fullmetal Communist)
  • Fullmetal Cartoonist (Hiromu Arakawa)
  • Fullmetal Duelist (favorite card: Brass Man)
  • Fullmetal Economist (will boost your mining industry)
  • Fullmetal Exorcist (begone, demons of steel!)
  • Fullmetal Nutritionist (recommends lots of iron in your diet; see Fullmetal Pharmacist)
  • Fullmetal Orthodontist (specialty: braces)
  • Fullmetal Positivist
  • Fullmetal Relativist
  • Fullmetal Sexist (WTF does "Fullmetal Sexist" mean?)
  • Fullmetal Shopping List (for spare automail parts)
  • Fullmetal Terrorist/Anti-Terrorist (Counterstrike rivals)
  • Fullmetal Thaumaturgist
  • Fullmetal Therapist
Gotta stop. Now.

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October 03, 2006
Today marks one month and two days since I started with HP (last September 1). Just one more month, and I'll have been employed longer than at my previous two jobs!

Here are my accompishments and personal highlights for my first month:
  • Nearly finished memorizing all the names and faces of the team
  • Officially a Nescafé coffee machine addict
  • Starred and made a fool out of myself in our new-hire presentation
  • Finished the required online training, in record time!
  • Won a 100-peso Starbucks gift certificate from an icebreaker contest during an HP training session
  • Increased my knowledge of Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) and IIS a thousandfold by doing some sys-ad work and development using the WSS SDK
  • Hacked out a method to enable the fingerprint reader on my nc6320 (bypassing the Novell login) and gained a noticeable increase in coolness level for making it work
  • Now 50 percent less clueless with HP acronyms!
  • Currently acting as SPOC (Single Point of Contact), room reserver, meeting organizer, and de facto leader for the September new-hire group for our offsite presentation
  • Currently communicating with a British HP project manager and slowly learning to understand the British accent
Not bad. I had expected to accomplish more in my first month at HP, but like Simon told me "Be careful what you wish for." Well, it's definitely been more interesting and productive here than the first month at my last job (unless not getting paid and working in a "war room" counts as "interesting").

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UST won, Ateneo lost. Alright, back to work.

It's understandable for the players to break down and weep after a heartbreaking loss. But if you're not part of the team, then there should be nothing to cry or be angry about.

It's not even about "Win or lose, it's the school we choose." That's the attitude of sore losers and glory hounds who gloat when they win and make excuses when they lose. If you are really proud of someone or of a group of people, you don't focus on the "One Big Loss" but celebrate the "One Big Fight" instead. When you know that your team gave it their all, then there's your reason to be proud.

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October 02, 2006
On our way home from church yesterday, I asked my dad if I could drive us (five of us: me, Kuya, Ate Tricia, mom, dad) home. Just to see if he'd trust me enough to put our safety in my hands. He (reluctantly) agreed. We made the switch after a brief stopover in Rustan's Magallanes and it was probably less than ten kilometers to home.

Following the advice of my driving instructor Alfonso, I tried to keep it relatively slow and safe: no overtaking, no changing lanes, no shifting past 4th gear until told to. His advice made a lot of sense: if I went ahead with my own driving style and my dad found it too reckless (for him), then I won't get a chance to drive the car again for a long time. But less than a minute into driving, he told me to speed it up and do some lane-changing and overtaking. We ran into a bit of a roadblock near Sun Valley but I managed to get past it. By the time we got home, my mom was sweating profusely from nervousness but my dad told me "Pasado na. (You pass.)" He did give me a few tips about following jeepneys and trikes but aside from that, I'd say he was very proud.

Later in the evening, my mom and dad left for a four-day travel tour of Shanghai, China. They're traveling with their mahjong barkada so they're in good company. It's been a long time since my parents went on a vacation together and they really deserve this break.

Before they left, my dad told me "Ikaw na bahala sa sasakyan. (You're in charge of the car.)" Yeah right, as if I'd pay for the gas.

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About me

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

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