The RubeTube

Life's a cube.  Solve it.

November 30, 2006
There goes the long weekend...

Watch it live!

Prepare for the inevitable blackout, people.

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Happy 21st birthday to you, my one and only Andreé.

I pray that you continue touching and blessing other people's lives as you have mine. I love you, honey!

(Today is November 30, 2006.)

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November 29, 2006
This is what I've been working my ass off for the past week. It was shown at our quarterly HP Philippines coffee talk yesterday. It was one of five presentations (all videos) done by new-hires from July to September, and our video won the new-hires presentation contest! The theme given to us was "Halloween before Christmas". Watch it, rate it, comment on it.

Now I can get back to my real job!

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November 25, 2006
Happy Feet has got to be one of the worst animated films in recent history. I can't imagine how it's been getting fairly positive reviews.


The animation of Happy Feet is top-notch. The songs are great. The singing and dancing is so good, it's hard to tell if they wanted to make a musical or a dance movie. But that's all the praise I'm willing to heap upon this movie. On a scale of 1-10, I rate the plot a big, fat zero. I can't think of any plot spoilers because this movie offers absolutely nothing interesting, even for kids. The purpose of the story is for the animators to have an excuse to make thousands of penguins sing and dance.

And the characters? Don't get me started on those. The main character, Mumble, is a penguin who can't sing like his fellow emperor penguins, but he is instead gifted with mad tap-dancing skillz. Towards the end of the movie, all the penguins are able to follow his dance steps, effectively nullifying any advantage he might have had with the girls. Speaking of girls, there is an attempt at having a love story with the penguin of his dreams, Gloria, who is absolutely drop-down gorgeous. Unfortunately, she is as sexy and attractive as every other emperor penguin in the movie, male or female; they all look alike. Note: you can tell if a penguin is female if its lips are pink. Oh, penguins don't have lips. Right.

The bulk of the comedy is provided by a bunch of Latino penguins (Latino penguins?!? WTF) who have nothing better to do than follow Mumble around. There are too many inside jokes that only the penguins in the movie audience will be able to relate to. As for conflict, I thought that the sea lion (was it a sea lion?) that chased Mumble all over the Antarctic continent had the potential to be a great villain. He even had an awesome parting line: "I know where you live." He made good on his threats by never showing up again for the rest of the movie.


Andreé and I watched this movie after a long, hard day at work. She was really looking forward to it. After all, one gets the impression that Happy Feet is one of those movies that you watch just to relax and feel warm and fuzzy afterwards. The actual effect is the opposite. The movie isn't even that cute. Mumble is a cute baby penguin for the first thirty minutes of the movie, until he grows up and starts talking like Frodo Baggins (voiced by Elijah Wood, by the way). The only cute parts are the ones you saw in the trailers. And speaking of trailers, for a movie that has been showing trailers for so long, you'd think Happy Feet would be the animated film to end all animated films. Unfortunately, it just doesn't deliver on the hype.

The RubeTube's official rating: a well-deserved F-. "What's your heartsong?" my ass.

(Happy Feet was so horrible, I was tempted to start a new feature similar to the Pick of the Week, but instead showcasing the worst crap the world has to offer.)

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November 23, 2006
First meaningless post ever?
November 19, 2006
The RubeTube is proud to present to you a special edition of the Pick of the Week.

Pacquiao knocks out Morales in three rounds. I'm not a fan of boxing or of Manny Pacquiao in particular, but this victory makes all those maddening advertisements and nauseatingly excessive media coverage worth it.

For delivering the knockout punch for Filipinos around the world, Manny Pacquiao is (also) this week's RubeTube Pick of the Week. You are a real winner, Manny. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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Everyone could use a little extra hard disk space. With the proliferation of broadband Internet, it's so easy to run out of room for all those animé episodes and Mozart MP3s. Developers like me have the added burden of supporting multiple IDEs, DBMS's, Web servers, virtual machines, frameworks, SDKs, and all the documentation that goes along with them.

80 gigs just doesn't cut it anymore. 160 will give you a lot more breathing room, but you're bound to hit the wall eventually. Burning DVDs is a great solution, but there's still the question: exactly what is eating up all your precious hard disk space?

SequoiaView is the answer. SequoiaView presents a visual representation of each individual file and directory on your hard disk and how much space they're taking up. It uses a technique called "squarified cushion treemaps" to give you a bird's-eye view of your hard disk. Below is a snapshot of what my 80 GB drive looks like in SequoiaView (click on the image to view the whole screenshot):

Each square/rectangle represents a file on my hard disk and the larger the rectangle, the larger the file is. Hovering the mouse pointer over a rectangle gives you a tooltip containing the name and size of the file. The giant rectangle on the right represents my free disk space. Using SequoiaView, I can clearly see that the main culprits are two files... and unfortunately both of them are virtual hard disks that I can't delete. On the other hand, I can free up a lot of space by deleting some CD/DVD images which I've already offloaded and burned to a DVD.

SequoiaView has a few extra features which are really useful. One of them is color-coding. For example, the green rectangles in the screenshot represent audio files. Color-coding also makes the treemaps much more pleasing to look at. Another nice feature is the filter. For example, you can tell SequoiaView to just display files accessed before a particular date so that you can get rid of files that you aren't using anymore. Needless to say, SequoiaView and all its neat features are available for free.

For helping squeeze out a little more mileage out of my hard disk, SequoiaView is this week's RubeTube Pick of the Week.

(Trivia: "Sequoia" is the shortest word in the English language that contains all five vowels: a, e, i, o, u. Amazing!)

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November 13, 2006
In my two-plus months here at HP, I have learned to avoid touching anything metallic, be it a door handle or a cubicle divider.

Carpeted floors. Zzzt.

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November 12, 2006
Newsflash: Robot thinks people taste like bacon.

The article's over a month old, but interesting nonetheless. It is definitely no coincidence that bacon just so happens to be my all-time favorite food. Does that mean I have good taste?

Soylent green, anyone?

P.S. That has got to be the most delicious, most mouth-watering photo of bacon that I have ever seen. Click on the image to behold bacon in all its glory.

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My brother left for Taiwan this morning. He's going there on official company business (Trend Micro). He'll be staying there for a month and will be back in time for Christmas. It won't be the first time he's lived abroad for an extended period of time. As for myself, I haven't been out of the country for more than a week. It must be really lonely to be in an unfamiliar place, away from the people you love, but it's probably exciting as well. I'm looking forward to the same experience some day, if that's what the future has in store for me.

On a related note, my dad also left for Cebu today. He'll be back by the middle of next week. Just a normal business trip.

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November 11, 2006
When it comes to music, I feel like an old person already. My idea of an awesome song is stuck in the Eraserheads era, back when they still made good music. I play the guitar, but my repertoire has not expanded by any significant amount since my high school days. The "golden age of music" for me is the late 90's (seriously, they don't make music like they used to). I get an odd feeling when my favorite songs are playing on the "rewind" programs on the radio and on MTV.

That's just not supposed to happen when you're 21. A 21-year old is still supposed to be "in" when it comes to the latest in the music scene. I'm supposed to know who the hottest artists are. I shouldn't feel left out when someone mentions the latest song that's hitting the airwaves.

Enter Pandora Internet Radio. It's a totally awesome tool for discovering new songs! I first checked it out when Cricket did a plug for it on his blog. I became an instant fan after just one song. (Because I'm lazy) I'll let Cricket describe how Pandora works:
Here’s how it works: first, you are asked to give a song title, or an artist name. The engine will then search for your query and look for songs which are similar to that artist or song. For instance, when I search for Jason Mraz, Pandora will give me a play list with songs “that exemplifies the musical style of Jason Mraz which feature minor key tonality and acoustic rhythm guitars”. It’s smart enough to recognize patterns in the songs and search for music similar to what you inputted, and creates a play list for that particular genre. And all of this is happening right at your Internet browser, so you can just leave that window open to listen to songs.
What makes Pandora so cool? For one thing, if you're not feeling picky about a particular song you want to hear, all you need to know is the name of just one song or artist that you know you like. Pandora will do the work in finding music that suit your tastes. In other words, it's perfect for people like me looking to broaden their musical horizons. Pandora has over 400,000 songs from 20,000 artists so I'm confident that I won't have trouble finding songs similar to The Corrs' or even The Beatles'. (You can take a look at my Pandora stations here.) And the best part of Pandora is that it's free (and it works just fine on a 384 kbps broadband connection).

For being a godsend to this musically deprived blogger, Pandora Internet Radio is this week's RubeTube Pick of the Week.

As a bonus, here are some tools that will enhance your Pandora listening experience:
  • OpenPandora allows you to listen to Pandora without an open browser window (although it technically still uses IE). This is what I use all the time to tune in to Pandora. Features I like: global keyboard shortcuts, and auto-updating of my playlist. It eats up a fair amount of memory though. Check out a screenshot below:

  • Pandora's Jar is a Java-based client that works similar to OpenPandora. As an added feature, it allows you to rip the songs as MP3s as you listen to them. I think this feature as great (albeit unethical) but I don't use Pandora's Jar simply because it uses Java (sorry to Java fans). Instructions on how to rip songs here.
  • FoxyTunes is a Firefox and IE plugin that allows you to control your music player from your browser. The latest version supports Pandora. I don't use it though because it lacks the controls that OpenPandora does, and I don't want to leave Firefox open just to listen to music, with the memory leaks and all.

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November 10, 2006
I attended the Philippine .NET Users Group's (PHINUG) Tech Sharing last Wednesday night. As a speaker. My brother Jerome is the president of PHINUG and I sort of volunteered to make a presentation. I was supposed to present some of the things I learned about Sharepoint at work, but I couldn't find the time to set up a Windows Server 2003 Virtual PC image (Sharepoint doesn't run on Windows XP) so I changed my topic to multithreading in .NET 2.0 instead.

I've forgotten when was the last time that I participated in a Microsoft event. I've been practically invisible to the Microsoft community for over a year now. "punzki" used to be one of the most active members in but he simply disappeared one day. I wasn't surprised at all when my MVP status wasn't renewed last month.

(What, you didn't know? That's okay, I don't think I ever blogged about it. I enjoyed my two years as an MVP and my only regret was that I failed to live up to it.)

It was tremendously nerve-wracking to be speaking in public. I had gotten used to it a long time ago, but on Wednesday night I was sweating profusely a mere minute into my 15-minute presentation. I think my presentation and my topic was a bit too "heavy" for the time alloted, but all in all, it went fairly well. It was really nice to see old and new faces alike in the Microsoft developer community. I hope to be appearing in more Microsoft/PHINUG events soon.

You can download my slides and examples here (courtesy of fileXoom).

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November 06, 2006
Every great ACM problem consists of three acts.

The first act is called "The Deception". The judge shows you an ordinary problem, but of course... it probably isn't.

The second act is called "The Dilemma". The judge makes his ordinary problem turn into something extraordinary.

Now if you're looking for the special case... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Despair"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where submissions hang in the balance, and the final test case is something shocking you've never considered before.

(Original lines from The Prestige. Spoiler warning!)

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November 05, 2006
After five days of continuous Wget-ing, I have finally managed to download the entire Mozart collection: 2578 songs, 7.3 GB, and 7.5 days worth of music. That is sick. That's two DVDs worth of music from a single person.

Who wants a copy?

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Ever wondered why your shoelaces get undone all the time? Find it annoying to have to stop and kneel down in public just to redo your shoelaces? You're probably tying a "granny knot".

I had been experiencing slipping shoelaces with my black leather shoes ever since I bought them. I've only had this problem with this particular pair because it has particularly slippery shoelaces when compared to the other pairs I own. But the weird thing is, only the shoelaces on the right shoe get undone all the time. The shoelaces on the left are perfect and have never come undone. What's more, my left foot's noticeably larger than my right, so it makes even less sense! I have been tying my shoelaces the same way ever since I was little, so you can probably imagine that this predicament of mine was driving me nuts.

After coming across Ian's Shoelace Site (everything you need to know about shoelaces, including 17 different knots!), I diagnosed myself as having a "granny knot" problem (I tie a standard knot, by the way). Spot the difference below. How on earth could I have gotten it all wrong? Sheesh. I'll make sure to buy blue and yellow shoelaces next weekend.

A correct/balanced standard knot

A "granny knot"

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November 03, 2006
Andreé and I went for dinner at Almon Marina last night, followed by a nightcap at Starbucks. Our talk-about-whatever-comes-to-mind conversation led to the topic of Mastermind, the game about the ultimate triumph of logic and wits over deceit and trickery.

And so we played Mastermind, using the receipt as the playing "board" and the paper wrapper of a straw as the place to keep the code pattern secret. To make the game faster, we played the variation where there are no duplicate colors (Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, White, blacK) in the pattern. We had just enough time for six games and we alternated roles. I lost our matchup by the slimmest of margins: Andreé solved in 4, 4, and 4 moves while I cracked the code in 4, 4, and 5 moves. Oh well, I made no mistakes except for being unlucky in that last game. We played one last match via SMS when we got back home, which I also lost, 5-4.

I just love spending quality time together.

(Interesting tidbits: Remember the picture on the Mastermind box cover? With the seated distinguished white gentleman and the alluring Asian woman standing behind him in a mysterious dark room? WTF was that about, anyway? Billionaire tycoon with exotic bodyguard? The picture was shot back in 1972 and they reunited for another shoot in 2003, for old times' sake.)

Original picture (1972)

31 years later (2003)

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November 02, 2006
Buking ang blog ko. Haha! Eugene kasi eh. Hehe.

P.S. 100th post!

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Think of the phrase "circus music". What's the first tune that comes to mind? Undoubtedly, you thought of this piece: "Entrance of the Gladiators".

Entrance of the gladiators? You don't believe me? Listen to a MIDI of the tune first. That's the one you were thinking of, right? It is the "circus music" or the "clown music" (much like Jean Reno is the "French guy").

Written by the Czech composer Julius Fučík, "Entrance of the Gladiators" was originally written as a military march. Its original title and composer has faded into obscurity as people all over the world have become accustomed to associating the tune (particularly the first third of the song) with circuses and clowns. Nobody knows what could have led to this tragedy. Rather ironic considering that Fučík (left) looks like he could have made an awesome ringmaster with that mustache of his.

The next time you hear the tune, remember the title. Entrance of the Gladiators.

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November 01, 2006
I learned about this site a few months back on digg. It has a complete collection of MP3s of all of Mozart's compositions. I'm not really a fan of Mozart or of classical music in general, but I am trying to broaden my musical horizons.

I told myself back then that I'd download all of this some day, when our broadband connection at home got fixed. Well, it's finally fixed (yahoo!). So my next problem was: how do I download all of the MP3s on the site automatically? I surely wasn't going to manually crawl the site to download every link.

Luckily, there's a tool for situations like this: Wget. Linux/Unix users are more likely to be familiar with Wget, but I'm betting that the more recent *nix adopters don't know about Wget or what it's really capable of. Most Linux distros should already have Wget, but Windows users can download the binaries here. The nice thing about Wget is that you can use it to download entires sites, i.e., create an offline mirror of everything on a site: pages, links, images, files. You can read the documentation yourself and figure out how to do this, but I'm telling you right now how to download the entire Mozart collection:

wget -m

The "-m" switch basically tells Wget to crawl the entire site and download everything on it. Use "wget --help" to see all the neat options that you can use with Wget. The great thing about mirroring the Mozart music site is that you also get the HTML pages which give you a nice little directory that you can use to browse the selection.

It'll take some time to get all the MP3s. I'm not even done yet and I've been downloading the whole day. Mozart is a freakishly prolific musical genius; even he would be surprised to learn how many gigabytes of music he's created. I've only downloaded 1 gig and I don't think I'm even at one-tenth of the entire collection.

The more recognizable Mozart pieces are "Symphony No. 40 (Allegro vivace)" under "Later Symphonies" and "Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Allegro)" under "Serenades for Orchestra". Happy listening (and Wget-ing)!

(Where can I find the complete Beethoven collection?)

(Addendum: After five days of continuous Wget-ing, I have finally managed to download the entire collection.)

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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!)
Latest obsession:
NBA playoffs (via streaming)

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