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Crimson Crux

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

Cubicle Workplace = Bad Company?

Sunday, October 30, 2005 at 7:20 PM
Cubicle Workplace
[Photo courtesy of ioillusion.]

IT employees will do good to avoid companies offering cubicles as workplaces, according to the ACM Technews/Sys-Con Media (France) article, "When to Leave Your First IT Job".

A bad work environment (i.e. "cubicle farms") is a clear warning sign for you to leave the job. As the article says:
"Working in cubicles is the sure sign that you're not working for a successful company. If the company will not or can not spend the money to create offices for its knowledge workers, so they can get into the zone, the odds of it creating a successful software product and capitalizing on it are about the same as you becoming a millionaire by going to Las Vegas..."

Well, the above scenario might not apply to Philippine IT companies, but it's still worth thinking about if you're a present IT employee or one who's looking to land an IT job.

Korea Building Tech-Paradise City

Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 2:30 AM

Rising in South Korea is New Songdo, which ACM Technews describes as an
"ubiquitous city where data is shared by all key information systems, and where residences, office buildings, and streets have built-in computers". Sounds pretty much like a techie's haven, though of course 'shared data' reeks of citizen privacy issues.

According to the article:
"...A smart-card house key will be the starting point of U-life: The key can be used to access public transit, process transactions, borrow free materials, etc...New Songdo residents [are foreseen to enjoy] universal wireless access to their digital content and property, video on demand, and videoconferencing calls with neighbors."

Wow. I believe "U-life" here pertains to Ubiquitous-Life, the lifestyle for the New Songdo "U-City".

You can read a New York Times article here, though you''ll need to have an account to view it. (Don't worry, registration is free.)

Also, here's a Google search on New Songdo, for those who are really interested and don't mind doing a little bit of research.

100 Million Downloads of Firefox!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 7:05 PM
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
A glorious day!

Borrowed from a friend's email:
Firefox Surpasses 100 Million Downloads!

October 19, 2005, (Mountain View, CA). The Mozilla Corp. extends 100 million "Thank you's" to Firefox community members for reigniting innovation on the Web. As the browser's first anniversary approaches this November, Firefox adoption numbers have exceeded expectations with more than 100 million downloads since Firefox's introduction in 2004.

Firefox's download success is a direct result of the collaborative efforts of thousands of contributors worldwide. Their work developing and fine-tuning the Firefox browser ensures the best Web experience available. Volunteer extension developers further enrich Firefox's capabilities by enabling users to customize and enhance their browser and truly take back the Web.

Mozilla also congratulates the members of the Spread Firefox community for their success in reigniting the Web by driving the popularity of the browser. Their global grassroots efforts have set a new standard for software marketing and played a significant role in helping Firefox to achieve this amazing milestone. Stay tuned as the Spread Firefox community launches an even more innovative campaign for the upcoming Firefox 1.5 release later this Fall.

Get Firefox now!

How Basketball Shorts Became Longer

at 4:00 AM
Michael Jordan
Two words: Michael Jordan.

In this excerpt from GAIN's interview with Thomas Hardy, VP and Creative Director for NBA Entertainment, the reason for the disappearance of those thigh-hugging short shorts of the past is none other than His Airness himself.
"The long pants came from Michael Jordan, which is a great story. Jordan would get tired because he played so many minutes when he was with the Bulls in the mid-‘80s, so by the third quarter he would be exhausted. He would be doing a lot of this leaning over and catching his breath. Eventually he was starting to grab his pants, to hold onto them because he was exhausted. As time when on, you could see that by the end of the game his pants were long because he had just stretched them. He finally asked Champion, the uniform manufacturer, for more length in his shorts, so that he could hang onto his shorts. The next thing you know, the kids see the longer shorts and everybody’s wearing longer shorts. He created a fashion without even knowing it."

For an NBA addict and MJ fan, this is an incredible story, indeed. For the rest of the in-depth interview, visit this
page. You won't regret it.

ACM Crossroads (Fall 2005 Issue)

Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 4:50 PM
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I've just received my very first copy of Crossroads, the ACM Student Magazine, and I'm happy with its selection of articles. The Fall 2005 edition features interesting articles such as Game State Fidelity Across Distributed Interactive Games and The Development of a Game Playing Framework Using Interface-Based Programming. Both seem to support the rising importance of game development in computer science, as mentioned in my previous

Crossroads is also distributed free of charge on this website, though you must be an ACM Member to receive the print edition.

Ms. Philippines Wows Them All!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 2:30 AM
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Precious Lara Quigaman (Ms. Philippines)
Miss International 2005
[Photo courtesy of CebuCentral.Com Blog]

(Received from an email forward.)

Beauty aside, Miss Philippines' performance in the Q&A portion was what probably made the judges ultimately decide in her favor:

Q: "What do you say to the people of the world who have typecasted (sic) Filipinos as nannies?"

A: "I take no offence on being typecasted as a nanny. But I do take offence that the educated people of the world have somehow denegrated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is. Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you -- your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people. So to those who have typecasted us as nannies, thank you. It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people. And for that, I am forever proud and grateful of my roots and culture."

And as the email goes, insert the most thunderous of thunderous applause here.

I don't know about you, but I am impressed. Very much so.

Bravo to Ms. Precious Lara Quigaman. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Gaming in CS Curricula

Monday, October 17, 2005 at 1:50 AM

I quote from a
TechnologyReview.com article:
"In a report for the National Science Foundation in 2000, the Carnegie Mellon researchers showed that freshmen in CS1 who used Alice [a program to teach programming through a game framework] average a B grade, while those in the control group who didn't use Alice averaged a C.

Furthermore, retention rates -- the proportion of students using Alice in CS1 who moved on to CS2 -- rose from 47 percent to 88 percent."

Several universities around the world are also using gaming-related courses to reverse the alarming slide in computer science enrollees.

I wonder when will UP Diliman's DCS have a course on gaming or gaming development. Closest to such a course might be CS 176 (Computer Graphics) and CS 174 (Mobile Computing -- mobile phone games, anyone?). Here's a confession: as an avid gamer in high school, I took BS Computer Science because I wanted to create my own games.

Fortunately, our student organization, UP ACM, has two Special Interest Groups (SIGs) related to gaming -- the Gaming Guild and the Graphics SIG. I really hope the SIG Heads present more exciting and informative projects for the second semester.

Humans Getting Smarter?

Friday, October 14, 2005 at 12:20 AM

This article reports on a certain Harvardian's belief in "Homo digitas", the next step on the evolutionary ladder for the Homo sapiens species.

If you come to think about it, just how much information does your brain process day in and day out? If you're reading this blog, then chances are you've spent a considerable number of brain cells in absorbing, organizing, and judging the veracity of gigabytes of data from the Net, usually on the fly.

As a student, for years I've mused about one challenge facing people of our times -- to learn the world's past and present knowledge, which has been expanding with each new day, year, decade. Every generation learns the knowledge of their predecessors, adds to it, and passes it to the next generation.

Admit it -- even just once you had thought that "I'm smarter than my parents; I know more things than they do." If your computer scientist dad had to learn the basics of algorithms and operating systems in college, you now have to learn all of that plus pervasive computing and complex network protocols. (Might be an exaggeration, but you get my drift.) We have to learn the basics -- be it about science, humanities, and the arts -- and then progress to more complex topics.

And indeed, it might be true that each generation of humans is smarter than its predecessor. The same article states, "A New Zealand researcher named Jim Flynn discovered in the 1980s that the average IQ test scores were ticking up by three points--a full standard deviation--every decade since the beginning of the 1900s."

Which might mean that when my (future) son boasts to me, "Hey Dad, I'm waaay smarter than you are!", I'd just have to smile and accept the truth.

Rolling Out the Web Domains

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 3:15 AM

Scanning my old ACM Technews articles, I came across a mid-September item on the approval of a new World Wide Web domain, .cat (sites that promote the Catalan language and culture). A decision on whether or not to approve the controversial .xxx domain was deferred, as was the case for the .asia domain.

If you'd ask me, I'd prefer to just have a site under either .com or .net domains, and maybe .ph. As if I can afford it. Anyway, most people love to have choices, and ICANN, the 'big brother' of Internet addressing, has got a lot of those to offer.

Presently, there are over 260 domain names, a number that's going to balloon as people find more and more 'genres' to chop up the Internet into. Most familiar of these are the 'generic' domains -- .com (commerce), .edu (educational institutions), .org (organizations), .net (network providers), .gov (US Federal Gov't). Other generic domains include .int (international entities), .mil (US military), .biz (businesses), .info (information), .mobi (mobile services), and .name (you guessed it right -- people's names). Throw in the country domains (.ph, .us, .ch) and you've got a veritable domain paradise.

Of course, there are no draconian rules on who's allowed to get this and that domain. Except of course for the .gov and .mil domains, everything else might be considered fair game. Chances are you've visited a personal site (yes, cheesy stories on high school crushes and all) under a .com domain, or a business enterprise under a .org guise.

The 100$ Laptop

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 at 2:10 AM

The 100$ Laptop
(Photo courtesy of www.macworld.com)
Specs: Linux OS, 500 Mhz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel, Wi-Fi and Cellphone-enabled, USB-capable

Reading last Saturday's issue of Business World, I came across an article on a 100$ laptop being developed in the MIT Media Lab. Yep, that's right. One hundred US dollars. Barely 6000 Philippine pesos. And I thought a Php 30K laptop was dirt-cheap.

Anyway, the said laptop isn't meant for commercial distribution -- it's meant to educate children in developing nations. It doesn't take a genius nor a saint to appreciate the nobility of this pursuit. In UP ACM's essay for its winning bid for Outstanding Community Service, I wrote:
[In] a Third World country such as the Philippines...some of the more expensive physical resources, i.e., computers, are luxuries. These tangible assets must give way to an intangible one -- knowledge. In our country, knowledge is of the utmost value -- it has no price tag, but it is priceless. It does not crash, it does not break down, and it will serve you for life. Practicality dictates that in lieu of supplying people with computers, we must educate them about these machines.

With the advent of these 100$ laptops, basic computer know-how for children is fused with day-in, day-out hands-on practice. That's a powerhouse combination.

To know more about the 100$ laptop, drop by MIT Media Lab's official website for the project. Kudos to these brilliant researchers!

Sinfinity and HAMSTER

Monday, October 03, 2005 at 3:00 AM

Presenting two of our "babies" who ate up our time for the past month:

Qualifier, Philippine Emerging Startups Open (PESO) Challenge
Finalist, UP Diliman College of Engineering Marketing Competition

Sinfinity is a commercial mobile phone service being developed in UP Diliman. Specifics are under wraps...for now. Behind the concept of Sinfinity is Team Rijndael (pronounced "Rhine-doll", after a Belgian-born cryptographic algorithm).

Team Rijndael made it to the September 9 Finals Night of the UPD Engineering Marketing Congress, an event dominated by Industrial Engineering majors. I tell you, it is hard to convince a geriatric judge how wonderful an intangible product (i.e. technological service) is when your opponents are marketing soaps, gasoline, and tea. Ia Lucero and I presented Sinfinity, in addition to writing the 18-page marketing plan.

But still, Team Rijndael disproved the theory that Computer Science majors are tongue-tied geeks who know how to program their software but not to market them. (We were the only Computer Science team in a field of seven finalists.) As consolation, we bagged the Best Exhibit award.

As mentioned, Sinfinity is a commercial service; "brand name" would be an appropriate description. It runs on top of HAMSTER, which is the Team's thesis itself.

Highly secure Adaptive Mobile multimedia STreaming sERvice

FYI, Ia designed both the Sinfinity and HAMSTER logos. Presently, Team Rijndael is in the thick of things at the PESO Challenge, a technology and innovation business plan competition modeled after the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. It is being held by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship and the Ayala Foundation. Sinfinity is one of the 37 'companies' (pruned from 72) that made it through the first round. Again, I was Team's business plan writer. Talk about having a stereotype job, haha.

I'll be posting on our experiences regarding the first PESO Participant Enhancement Workshops in a few days. Wish us luck!

UP Parser Showtime!

Sunday, October 02, 2005 at 3:50 AM

The UP Parser, Official Student Publication of UP Diliman's Department of Computer Science, has released its first issue for the academic year. Original release date was set in mid-August, but due to circumstances beyond our control, release was pushed back to September 15, 2005.

Apologies for the delay, but hey, we believe it was worth the wait. Eight hundred full-color copies, with a free MMORPG CD to boot! This is Parser Showtime, ladies and gentlemen.

You can view the online version here. For the PDF version, you can email us or drop a comment below.