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Crimson Crux

Pseudo-techblog where the Corsarius gets serious. Visit blog.corsarius.net for his alter ego.

Corsarius, One Year Old Blogger*

Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 11:45 PM
The Corsarius. Illustration by Mai Sibayan.
Slip of the Pen, my main blog -- or, to put in business-like terms, "flagship" blog -- celebrates its birth this day. Because it's my very first blog, this also means I've completed my very first year as a blogger. Hurrah!

I started Slip of the Pen half a year earlier than this one, and through the months I came to brand it as my "personal slash literary" blog. Do read the blog birthday post, which also lists the year's best pieces.

On a more technical note, I'm happy that 75% of my visitors at Slip of the Pen were using Firefox. Internet Explorer users have dwindled over the year, starting at 50% (December 2004) then descending to 21%. Opera and Safari each have 2%.

As I wrote in the blog -- Fortuna dies natalis, Lapsus Calami!


*Apologies if the title misled you. Why, ain't the guy in the illustration above still a toddler? A writing toddler, that is.

Artificial Edible Meat, Anyone?

at 11:30 PM
Image courtesy of Yellowicon.com
Actually, it's not artificial at all. At least, it uses a single cell from an animal to culture the meat!

This Gizmag article is old news, and I just wanted to post my thoughts on it, albeit belatedly. Large scale production of laboratory-grown "meat" -- beef, poultry, pork, and so on -- is a distinct possibility in the near future, a scientific paper has claimed. Certainly, this isn't lunacy; after all, small amounts of edible "meat" were laboratory-grown in NASA space experiments. They're now chasing after the technology which allows large-scale production. Read the article for the details. Better yet, read the Tissue Engineering paper itself.

If you'd ask me, I'm all for this venture. People will be apprehensive about eating something which popped out of the test tube (well, not exactly like that), and there will be both scientific and ethical concerns. But then, I believe trading in the slaughterhouses for meat culture factories is all for the good of the world.

Just ask the turkey above if he'd prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving alive or served on a plate. I'd really like to eat my sumptuous steak without my conscience nagging me, thank you. Cultured edible meat might just prove to be the savior for guilt-stricken people who love meat but don't have the willpower (or the stomach) to be vegans -- people like me.

"With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world's annual meat supply," the article quotes a scientist. "Cultured meat could also reduce the pollution that results from raising livestock, and you wouldn't need the drugs that are used on animals raised for meat."

One amusing 'problem' with cultured meat is how to give the meat a natural, appetizing texture:
"The challenge is getting the texture right," says Matheny. "We have to figure out how to 'exercise' the muscle cells. For the right texture, you have to stretch the tissue, like a live animal would."

I wonder how they're going to do that. Anyway, you can support the technology by visiting the website of
New Harvest, a nonprofit research organization for the advancement of meat substitutes.

I tell you, once this technology hits full stride, abattoir and livestock farm owners will rise up in arms, but animal rights activists will spread their love among them and nullify their anxiety, all in the name of Gaia.

Or not.

Have a Geeky Christmas, Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 at 6:05 PM

From BBSpot.com, the
Top 11 Ways Geeks Celebrate Christmas. My favorites:

  • Printing out "One Year of Free Computer Service" certificates to give to the family
  • Decorating the tree with SDRAM and CPUs burned out from your last overclocking experiment
  • Rewriting Christmas carols in Tolkien's Elvish
  • Programming the christmas lights to flash out "I hate this holiday of unbridled consumerism" in binary
Also, check out this other BBSpot article. If you had committed one of these acts, then you've been naughty this year, hehe.

Have a Merry Christmas, everybody!

SEA Games Merchandise, Where are Thou?

Thursday, December 22, 2005 at 1:10 AM
Gilas figurine
I'm running late with this question, but does anyone know where to buy 2005 SEA Games merchandise? I've seen a scant number of t-shirts here and there, but not a single shop which sells them. The closest I've found is a little stall in SM Megamall (I think it was called Reynaldo's) which boasts of SEA Games figurines, keychains, and pen/memo holders. But no shirts! (I've given up the search for Gilas stuffed toys -- maybe they're exclusive for the winning athletes only.)

If you still want memorabilia of the Games, do rush to SM Megamall's ground floor, near the iceskating rink. I got my Gilas figurine slash pen/memo holder for only Php 200 -- the original price was Php 400. Yes, that's 50% off. There are available sizes other than the one in the picture.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
As a side note, the original mascot for the 2005 SEA Games was a tarsier. Whoa. I'm just glad they changed it to the monkey-eating eagle, Gilas. That bird is simply the best symbol for the victorious Filipino athletes; I can't imagine the tarsier being the same.


Postscript. The 2005 ASEAN Para Games ended last Tuesday. Host Philippines garnered 19 gold medals, good for sixth place. This has been labeled by sportswriters as a "surprising" performance, as we won just 2 gold medals two years ago in Vietnam. Again, great job, athletes!

Current Trends in Programming

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 11:59 AM

What's hot and what's not in the programming world are all summed up in Infoworld's 2005 Developers Research Report. Infoworld based their results on a sample of approximately 300 developers.


A preview:

What's Hot:

  • Web services
  • Service-oriented architecture
  • Open source tools for the business community
  • Dynamic scripting tools
  • Linux (to be the standard mainframe OS)
  • Java
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Microsoft's .Net environment
  • Mac OS X

What's Not:

  • Pure compiled and traditional development languages (e.g. Ada, C, C++, Fortran)
  • Assembly languages
  • Win32
  • Unix (being supplanted by Linux)
  • Solaris (only being "able to tread water")

Now, I know some of you might be a little bit surprised that C and C++ are included in the What's Not list. Even the article ("C and C++ Give Way To Managed Code") states, "C remains the implementation language of choice for Linux, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database, and other key open source projects". But then it adds, "It’s a terrific language for systems programming and infrastructure-level software, but it’s less suited to the needs of straightforward applications." You be the judge if this is true or not; read the article for more details.

Scientific Approach for Scientific Resumés

Saturday, December 10, 2005 at 5:10 PM
Image courtesy of Yellowicon.com
There is an abundance of resumé-writing how-tos on the Net, and another one won't hurt. In this article I found through ACM Technews, three recruitment consultants share their insights on how to write resumés (CVs) for jobs related to science and technology.

The crux of CV-writing, as most experts often stress, is to put your best foot forward, in terms of relevant achievements and skills, while avoiding information overload (especially the irrelevant ones). The stuff you prune from your paper CV (the hard copy) can go into your online resumé, after all.

After reading the article, I felt that I needed to revise my own CV. Several worthy points discussed there:

  • Keep the CV short. Employers scan the document for less than 30 seconds. If they get lost in a jungle of jargon and irrelevant info, you CV ends up in the trash bin.
  • Changing your CV for each job is dangerous.
  • Information such as references, publications, and articles may go into appendices; main CV looks clean.
  • Keep the CV up to date!

Curtains Fall on SEAG 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005 at 6:30 PM
Courtesy of www.2005SEAGames.com.ph
23rd SEA Games Final Medal Tally

I was glued to the TV last night, as host nation and overall champion Philippines bade farewell to its Southeast Asian neighbors in the
SEA Games' closing ceremony.

The event's festiveness and grandeur were several notches down compared with the opening ceremony -- the final parade of athletes felt lacking (too rushed, no formal announcement that the Philippines bagged the championship), and the performance of Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and the San Miguel Philharmonic Choir didn't match its opening rites level (but that's setting the bar too high, as they were still damn good). Hell, even the PA butted into President GMA's formal closing of the Games! (You can, of course, find that entertaining.)

However, the event did serve its purpose, namely to ease the competitive tensions built up during the course of the biennial meet. The fireworks display was one of the best I've seen for the whole year, lasting for more than 20 minutes. And of course, the frenzied motions of the Ati-Atihan dancers spiced up the night.

As Channel News Asia said, "The closing ceremony was filled with an explosion of music, dance and colours only the Filipinos can provide." That's quite a compliment, don't you think?

Congratulations to the Philippine athletes, organizers, and volunteers for staging a successful SEAG. They didn't have the most abundant of resources and facilities at their disposal, but they still came through in the end. After years in the muck, the Philippines re-establishes itself as a sporting power in Southeast Asia, garnering over 25% (113) of all the gold medals at stake. (Wushu was the biggest goldmine, where we got 11 gold medals.)
Image courtesy of www.2005seagames.com
Let's hope this brief, brilliant moment inspires us to reach even greater heights. The 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar fast approaches, and even the next SEAG meet (2007) at Bangkok, Thailand. And of course, the big one -- the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

As our battlecry goes -- Team Pilipinas, One Big Fight!


Postscript. The Philippines will also be paying host to the 2005 ASEAN Para Games, to be held on December 14-20 at Manila.

The Philippines: New SEAG Champion!

Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 11:57 PM

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Image courtesy of www.2005seagames.com
The Philippines has won the overall championship of the 2005 SEA Games, bagging 114 gold medals after the second-to-the-last day of competitions! We only needed 106 gold medals to bag the championship, and we've exceeded that by 8 -- a shining testament to the skill and excellence of our athletes.

Sunday, December 4 was touted as the "D-Day" of the Games, as 100 gold medals were at stake. Prior to Sunday, the Philippines had 91 gold medals in the bag, and -- according to experts -- were 15 shy of the overall championship. Now, as we move on to the final day of competitions, Team Philippines is assured of its first SEAG championship, by virtue of its insurmountable lead. (Second running Thailand has 86 gold medals, and only around eight gold medals are up for grabs tomorrow.)

The Games' Closing Ceremonies will begin at 5:30 PM, at the Manila's Quirino Grandstand. Without doubt, the host nation will be throwing a big party to celebrate the Games' spirit of "One Heritage, One Southeast Asia", as well as the Philippines' epic triumph.
Image courtesy of www.2005seagames.com
In these times of crisis and uncertainty, our athletes have given us hope and pride in the nation and our race. These men and women have given their blood, sweat, and tears for this historic triumph. Sa mga atletang Pinoy ng 2005 SEA Games -- Maraming maraming salamat, mabuhay kayo!


Postscript
. As a side note, the Thai Prime Minister's insinuations of cheating by the hosts should now be laid to rest, seeing that even Filipino athletes were seemingly bamboozled of their gold medals in Saturday's boxing finals. The fans in attendance were so infuriated by the goings-on that they began throwing coins and plastic bottles onto the ring. Undoubtedly, each country had and has its own protests, but the Thai PM's childish remarks are way off the courtesy chart. Anyway, all's well that ends well.

.com Domain Prices to Double?

at 1:20 PM

That is, if the deal between
Verisign and ICANN pushes through.
Image courtesy of Verisign.com
Under the deal, Verisign will drop lawsuits filed against the Internet regulatory body in exchange for the power to increase .com prices by 7% a year starting in 2007. According to the
CBR Online article, current domain price stands at $6, but if Verisign took advantage of the price hike every year, we would end up paying $12 by 2012!
Image courtesy of Icann.org
So unless you foresee a wage hike in your country in the next few years, then maybe it's time to buy that .com domain you've always wanted. (Though you'd still have to renew it, and with a price increase every year...damn.) Or at least, fervently pray that this nightmare of a deal between Big Internet Company and Big Internet Body crumbles.

If you're lamenting this impending development (as I am), feel slightly comforted by the thought that we're not alone -- already, the proposed deal is coming under heavy flak, both from consumers and small registrars. You can read the whole story here.