Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Physical Fitness

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Physical Fitness is not only a required course for college freshmen but a continuation of a lifetime process of building a healthy body for the individual person. To gain these health benefits, physical fitness contains various exercises suited for every individual’s capacity and even adjusted for any body limits and medical conditions or handicap.

Based on my experience from the previous semester, I listed down the advantages of being physically fit.

Benefits of Physical Fitness
  • Identify or measure the individual’s capacity and subsequently set exercises aimed to extend such limit.
  • Self-performed exercises are taught in order to be able to train individuals on their own without constant watch from a coach.
  • Instill self-discipline by making these exercises a regular part of an individual’s daily activities.
  • Prevent muscle fatigue and strains by learning warm ups and cool downs before strenuous exercises.
  • To not only be able to identify the physical, mental, social, psychological, and psychomotor aspects but also instill and apply them through exercises performed.
  • Gain not only social interaction but also a time of enjoyment and harmony by doing group calisthenics with matching music.
  • Be able to identify an individual’s certain weakest aspect of physical fitness and therefore focus on exercises aimed to improve such aspect.
  • Though with less priority, other exercises are performed to maintain other parts of the body.
  • Learn proper scheduling or time management for exercises and body building through a self-made fitness program.
  • Learn how to commit to a goal and gain a sense of accomplishment by fulfilling the fitness program.

On my next post, I will be showing you the results of my fitness diagnostic test. Truth be told, I did not fare well. At least I have something to look forward to doing to for the next months to come. You can also use the accompanying fitness program for your own physical fitness.

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University of San Carlos Intramurals Closing

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Yesterday I posted my experience on the opening ceremony of University of San Carlos Intramurals 2010. As continuation, below is another record of what transpired during the culminating ceremony.

After a number of activities, the USC Intramurals finally came to a stop at its closing ceremony held at A. Bustos Sports Complex, Main Campus on the 27th day of August. The ceremony began with the return of so-called Filipino-American Heartthrob John Hammond who sang I Believe, followed by a female trio called Premadonna singing Angels Brought Me Here. Solemnity continues with the opening prayer and singing the school and national anthem. A subsequent dance intermission broke the ice by moving to the song Ole, Ole, Ole by Ricky Martin. The awarding of chess, table tennis, and lawn tennis then took place.

Without further ado, the much anticipated Pop Jazz dance battle between the different colleges of the university began. Avatar, both the blue-skinned extraterrestrials and the animated cartoon, were the theme of some groups. Others took different approaches and were inspired by multiple themes such as psycho-thrilling mimes, ancient Egyptian and other cultural influences, and the classic school scenery. All seven groups individual displayed their artistic dances, which was followed by a grand finale or showdown. Obviously all groups tried hard to outmatch each other to win the competition.

USC College of Engineering garnered 1st place in Pop Jazz Competition.

While the judges tallied the scores, the Premadonna once more entertained the audience, accompanied later by a dance group. The awarding of winners for the remaining sports competed in the intramurals then followed. A spectacular performance of two fire dancers succeeded with much enthusiasm. Lights were turned off that time to complement the grandness of the performance. The audience with much delight waved their mobile phones with their bright screens on.

Fire Dance Intermission – USC Intramurals 2010

And at last, the event came to a climactic end with the announcement of winners for the Pop Jazz competition. The College of Engineering won the grand prize, replacing the defending champion the College of Nursing. The College of Architecture and Fine Arts trailed behind as 3rd placer.

In comparison to the opening ceremony of the intramurals, the closing ceremony was arguably the better event overall. The minor booboos scattered throughout some performances were hardly noticeable. The performances themselves were even better this time, especially the aforementioned fire dancing which simply left an awe-inspiring impression. However, as the event was still held at the same location as the opening ceremony, the tight space and intolerable heat remained as definite setback to the entertainment. Had the activities been held in a much bigger location, the would-be comfortable accommodation would then help the audience become more active due to better mood and spirit. On the other hand, the host for the event was also better received because of his successful attempts to be in with the students.

My recommendation to hold the event to a better setting persists. With that said, I can hardly find anything more to say against the event. I actually enjoyed such occasion which I thought to be a bummer because of being required for a critique paper. My only other suggestion is for the performers and event handlers to just keep up the good work.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

University of San Carlos Intramurals Opening

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Every year the University of San Carlos hosts a week long event including sports, cheer dance, and pop jazz competition for the staff and students to enjoy. Being a Carolinian, I witnessed the whole event. With much gusto, I spectated and recorded the opening of the intramurals.

The opening event started some minutes after eight in the morning on the 24th of August 2010. Beforehand, an orchestra at the gym stage entertained the near-full stadium with goofy music. Moments later an announcer informed the start of the opening ceremony of the Intramurals. Performers known as USC Dancers flocked to the center court and did a number with a combination of dancing and illustrations of various sports expected to be among the event competitions. Soon came the entrance of the colors by the high school boy scouts as well as their drum and lyres corps marching behind. The different colleges of the university were then introduced, each being led by their representatives for the Mr. and Mrs. Intramurals. John Hammond, labeled as a Filipino-American heartthrob, lavished the audience with a relevant song Go the Distance.

John Hammond sings I Believe. (Sorry I couldn’t find his Go the Distance performance.)

The event then paid tribute to the school, the nation, and the Almighty by holding a prayer and singing the national anthem and school hymn. The school president was then acknowledged and gave an inspiring speech about transcending of stories from the usual classroom boundaries to the courts and playing field. The flags of the colleges were then raised and the participants of the sport events were then requested to take an oath, of sportsmanship among others. With that said, the University of San Carlos Intramurals became officially open. Judges for the Mr. and Mrs. Intramurals were then introduced. Consequently after intermission, the pairs from the colleges showed up once again, emitted vigor, and posed with much poise to please the judges.  The much-expected main course for the morning activity, the cheer dance competition, finally began. Each college showcased a group of performers, adorned with different themes, to wow both the audience and judges with acrobatic feats patterned in dancing and style.

USC College of Commerce Cheerdance Group

After another intermission, the awarding of the Mr. and Ms. Intramurals took place, with my home college, the College of Engineering, garnering 1st place for Mr. and 1st runner up for Ms. A ceremonial ball toss by the university president transpired with success after three misses on the ring. And finally, the key moment the audience was looking forward to, the announcing of the winners for the cheerdance competition happened. Now for seven years running, the College of Commerce has still defended its crown as the cheerdance champion.

In my most impartial opinion, the event was generally a success. It was however far from perfection. Embarrassing mistakes as though the event was ill-prepared were found all throughout the event. For instance, some dancers missed their marks on their performance. There were some temporary problems with the sound system that only left one speaker working at some point. Coincidentally, a pair of tango dancers had to perform without music, with lackluster results. The ambience of the setting did not help either, as the audience had to endure the heat and the tight spots they were seated. Even the announcement of the Mr. and Ms. Intramurals didn’t go without flaws. A 2nd runner up for the Mr. Intramurals have been called and awarded a sash but only to be dethroned immediately and return to other contestants. Fortunately he went back to be among the winners as he was actually the 1st runner up. While annoying, these blunders were not with long lasting repercussions. The audience didn’t even mind the mix up and was still enjoying as ever, even if they actually jeered for the errors.

As mentioned before, the event was generally a success. The latest addition to the program, the Mr. Intramurals, was met with positive reception. What would have been more entertaining are other segments for the Mr. and Ms. Intramurals, even if they have to take place on other parts of the intramurals. The catwalk segment where the contestants walk and pose, though satisfying in itself, was meant only for teasing. Nonetheless, the event livened up to how opening programs should make audience expect a good time during the intramurals.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Email is not Dead

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Email is neither obsolete nor dead.

Exchanging information over the internet has diversified that lead many to declare that email, a traditional tool, is dead. Communicating with friends and colleagues is now possible through social networking (Myspace, Facebook), instant messaging, and even microblogging (Twitter). I, however, guess that email will mutually coexist with these services if not outlast them.

The reasons below are among the bases for the death of email, but they are neither unique nor drastic:

Address inconsistency

Email addresses can be confusing. We have been given the freedom in creating an address which leads to people with something irrelevant to their identity such as 0l3ic_10.03@gmail.com. Additionally, chances are after a month or two they abandon it to establish another account. I must admit that I myself tend to change my email address a number of times. It must have been to relieve myself from unwanted mail (spam) and to finally create a permanent address. Changing address, however, will worsen the connection to contacts. Then again, there are ways to circumvent this. Just like when transferring to a new home, common courtesy states that people ought to inform friends of their new location. And honestly, I don’t see any problem with befuddling addresses. Once a friend’s name and their address(es) are added to my contact list, all I got to do is type their real name in the “To:” field and their respective addresses will be shown (at least Gmail have this feature). No need to memorize trivialities at all.

Taking care of the junk

When something becomes popular, it’s bound to attract evil. For instance, viruses are prolific in Windows because that operating system is widely used. The same thing happens to email in the case of junk mail or spam. And just like Windows with its antivirus programs, email providers supply filters to help segregate unwanted mail from the legit. And just like antivirus programs with their false positive results, filters sometimes mistake genuine mail as spam. It’s all down to users periodically maintaining their accounts, just as Windows users manually scanning their systems every now and then. “Constant vigilance,” says one fictive character I like.

The competition

Yes, IM’s are instant and social networking provides more features to, well, socialize. The problem however is that they only provide services to their members. On simpler terms, if you’re not a member you can’t get in touch with those inside. So how many accounts will that be if one friend is at Facebook, another one uses AIM Messenger, yet another one is hanging around at Twitter, etc.? On email you don’t have to join Yahoo! to contact Gmail users and vice versa. Email is universal.

Email simply cannot cease to exist just yet. In fact, it keeps on evolving, even if slowly, to adapt to the current needs of society. An email account may be dead for one, but one must ask if that account was given importance. Was the account frequently used? Was the inbox kept clean and important mail properly archived? Did the user even avoid practices that will likely reveal their address to spammers? Maintaining the account alive is just the same as one would when they keep their homepages on social networks updated and customize it to their liking. The notion that email is dead is down to personal preference and responsibility. I love sending email and this hobby will live for me for a long time.

This post is a response to John Dvorak’s 9 Reasons E-mail is Dead.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recovering Lost Love

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After learning that I was to write a reaction paper to either “Fifty First Dates” or “The Notebook,” I decided to choose both films instead to better peak my curiosity in two stories. I remember the former movie quite well while the latter only an inkling of what it is about. Indeed I was delighted to know both movies similarly dealt about a mental ailment that deteriorates memories. What is even more intriguing is how the protagonist in both movies defies what is scientifically proven just to save their love companions from the dreadful fate of being lost in their own mind, oblivious to self and others.

The story of The Notebook begins as an elderly man Duke narrates to an elderly woman a story of a young couple deeply in love with one another, even unable to forget their affections for each other despite a seven-year long separation and having lived different lives. It turns out that both the old couple and the couple in the story are one. The elderly man whose real name was Noah Calhoun reads a notebook everyday to his wife who is suffering dementia in hopes of bringing her back with her memories intact just so they can spend another time together even for just five minutes to reminisce and reassure their love for each other. The notebook remarkably turns out to be written by his wife that has an inscription saying “The story of our lives, by Allie Hamilton Calhoun. Read this to me, and I’ll come back to you.”

The Notebook starring James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams.

On the other hand, the Fifty First Dates tells of a happy-go-lucky man Henry Roth who is smitten by a beautiful woman Lucy Whitmore he met at a diner. But the next time they meet each other, Lucy acted like she has never seen Henry before. It transpired the she had lost the ability to gain short term memories, hence she forgets anything that happens around her the day after. This however didn’t dissuade Henry to give up on her. Instead, he believes Lucy must be free of the confinement of daily repetitions she is not aware of until it is late. He suggests instead letting her watch a home movie that narrates what has become lately to keep her informed for all those she lost after sleeping. The movie enables Lucy to move on and even have “first dates” with Henry. All this effort resulted to Lucy remembering at least a glimpse of Henry in her dreams.

50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Both movies try to tell us what precious memories and values are lost once a mental ailment hits a person we love. The male lovers, backed only by sheer determination and blind belief, ignore the reasoning of science for they just know their lost women are still in there, only trapped within their minds. Recalling their romantic past through reading a notebook or watching a video log is what triggers the lost to come back. All those invaluable moments in the past is what fuels them to recover what is gone even if it only lasts for a short while.

Old Noah may be frail and helpless while Sandler seems irresponsible, but all these are ignored once constantly stricken by their affections for their love companions. Noah has never given up until their death in reading to Allie their past lives. Meanwhile, Sandler has stopped being unreliable as he takes care of her would-be wife every passing day. Physical appearances don’t mean much when you discover the inner traits and wholesome desires of a person. Even more outstanding is their undying love for them, in spite of knowing that one day all their efforts will mean nothing once the ailment becomes too severe for recovery.

The central theme in both movies, having used mental illnesses as a major element, is how we should cherish moments from the past, present and even those yet to happen. Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss are only a few of many threats to couples whose union can be so easily severed. This indicates how we should prepare ourselves for the worst, hence to plan ahead.

Love is insignificant when you don’t know how to make it last for a lifetime.

 

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Make the Most of Online Comments

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Working out online comments to a writer’s advantage can be beneficial to themselves, their article, and their website overall. But for that to happen, they must know how to influence users and the entries they submit. One technique is done indirectly through the article while another is having control over the comments.

But first, how exactly can a comment help writers, bloggers, and columnists alike?

(As I have said in my previous post “Understanding Online Comments,”) analysis of feedback can help refine an author’s writing style, revise inaccurate or misleading details in a published work, and learn other standpoints for a topic.

Having quite a number of comments on an article also means a steady buzz and interest within the audience. They attract more readers and extend the longevity of the article. Thus, the tone of the comments matters. For instance, gaining a generally disapproval of the arguments mentioned in the article may lower the writer’s reputation. The structure and content quality also affects how long the discussion of the article remains active.

So how can a writer obtain, maintain, and control a favorable amount of positive quality feedback?

Influence through your Pen and Paper

The first option available is done indirectly: It is when you actually write your article. Looking forward for promising feedback requires excellent writing skills and a writer’s knowledge about themselves and their readers. Also, the following must be considered:

Have the users refrain from commenting on word choice, grammar, punctuations, etc and instead focus on the issue itself by providing them an exceptional composition that has been proofread and reviewed.

Being aware of one’s own background, affiliation, and experience helps a writer identify their own prejudiced view of an issue. This also applies towards the targeted audience’s background, affiliation, etc. By being aware, a writer stays politically correct in their ideas.

A writer wanting to hear comments that specifically deal with a certain part of their article will to be detailed and thorough in that particular part of the article to attract attention.

Comments Systems

Another method is done through direct control of the submitted online comments. Various blog services and web hosting providers supply site owners a number of useful techniques when dealing with comments. The following are the most common, from light to heavy control:

Word Filter. Thanks to the anonymity online and having no fear for consequences, users freely express their opinions albeit insulting and insensitive to the writer and readers. Using word filter, words and/or phrases are censored, keeping the site and the comment thread free of vulgarity. This basic method is easily bypassed however by merely substituting a single character or two in a word. It then becomes unknown to the word filter but still comprehensible by the readers.

Report Abuse. In another system, a link named “Report Abuse” is supplied in every comment entry. Once clicked by users who deem a comment offensive, the entry will be subject for removal. The removal process however is left to the moderator’s decision. The problem here lies to the moderator’s devotion in handling the reported comments and their own judgment. The system can also be abused by users reporting even acceptable comments.

Vote ranks and elimination. Comment ranking is prominent in a dynamic comment system (Comments here are moving, not static.). Entries are sorted according to their ratings, with the highest rated comment displayed first (or at the top) while low rated entries moved down, minimized or even removed. The system works best when many participate in voting, especially when comments are abundant. Moving the position of comments based on ratings discourages trolls and incessant exchange of insults but also lessens further discussion between useful entries.

Manual review. If a writer wants supreme power over all submissions, they can choose to decide whether an entry is acceptable for display or not. Manual reviewing is not efficient however on a large number of submissions. Chances are only the comments submitted earlier may be reviewed and subsequent but better entries are ignored. On the other hand, at least offensive comments are not displayed without prior approval as well (unlike in Report Abuse). The abuse of this system is up to the writer (the reviewer) themselves. With the desire to only display purely positive comments to improve their article’s image, they may not include constructive criticisms.

Many of these systems are subject to bias however; Different users have different criteria for a vote, rating or decision and many do not practice fair judgment. Hence criticisms that are helpful and well structured may not see the light of day.

Be Among the Crowd

A third option to generate positive feedback is through participation of the writer in comment discussions. While being lenient to submitted criticisms and even offensive feedback, they can then reply and defend themselves and their article to convince these naysayers into agreeing with them. Among others, their participation can help clarify their points of view and cite examples or explanation in case someone asks. Nonetheless, there may be issues involved in an article where a number of users will always disagree with the writer. What is left then is identifying the reason for the disagreement and providing an appropriate response. These are done perfectly by exercising an impartial attitude when reading and answering comments. Writers can directly keep the discussion healthy and faithful to the topic in case someone veers off the topic, to boot.

Comments, be it online or obtained from friends in the real world, is essential in exchanging ideas. Access to a certain feedback a writer will want to hear, however, requires careful choice in their style and actions.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Search for Wisdom

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To die for the search for wisdom was Socrates’ noblest cause. Every loathing by the people of Athens was the result of Socrates’ constant nagging about the pretentious behavior of people with regards to wisdom. During the final hour of his life, he explains why he does so. His last breath gave us enlightenment about wisdom, death, and most importantly, ourselves.

The excerpt entitled The Defense of Socrates from Plato’s Apology explains the former’s inquisitive yet utterly frank nature and the reason why he was condemned to death. But in directness, he says he has wisdom that any men can attain and that which was proclaimed of highest in rank by the God of Delphi. This god made him confused enough to disprove this assertion by searching for the wiser man. Socrates, knowing his own capability or the awareness of what he does not know, has met pretentious people claiming to be wise. Men ranging from politicians and poets, in their mastery of their affairs and the art, to artisans in the fineness of their products were tested. None stood out. In the process however, he accumulated enough hatred that resulted to his trial. This loathing trickled from his obsessive questioning to people about their wisdom. Socrates would find flaws in their statements, therefore their ignorance, and interpret it as their feigned wisdom over his feigned ignorance.

He would have been given freedom had he accepted to forbid himself of further inquiry and speculation to people through his manner in exposing the ignorance of others. Socrates, however, remained obeying God and stood by his practice and teaching of philosophy, to exhaust a man in all his excuses of ignoring wisdom and soul and prioritizing the less important. He stood by this notion, accepted to be called a mischievous person for his teachings, and declared not to change his ways even if death comes so repeatedly.

In talking about death and punishment, he disagrees that prosecution condemns a man with injury. He pronounced that no evil can harm a good man for which he would continue discussing right after he compared himself to the gadfly, his poverty as sufficient witness to the truth in his words, his knowledge yet avoidance of politics, and devotion. For who wouldn’t want a state of the mind where the mind itself is undisturbed, or where there is a change and transfer to another world? This was a gain for Socrates; in dying were tranquility and a chance of renewal after what would seem like a single night.

In his final moments Socrates asked but one favor: to mold his sons the way he was. He would want them to grow and care not about riches but knowing the unknown. Both he and his prosecutors would be contented in this wish, the later deeming this as justice and the former a continued search for wisdom. Socrates left the world leaving us to wonder that which only God knows, if living is worthier than death.

In my part, I am amazed on Socrates' demeanor. His behavior, known as the Socratic irony, would strike me down fast if he would meet me and start to interrogate. As a human being, I tend to reflect deep down and think about things like my reason to exist, on why there is a need of empathy and to express feelings myself. In this nature I am aware that I am far from becoming wise. Yet sometimes my pride and the greed for power or at least a reputation in the community as an intellectual with a superior mind have pulled me away from pure wisdom seeking.

By reading Socrates’ defense, I remembered the idea of the ivory tower, where a writer sits atop. He pretends to have a wide array of knowledge as he has a full view of the world from this tall building. But in reality, he merely knows the surface of a very deep twisting, interconnected tunnels of information. I might claim that I may have already gone down such a tower and mingled with people, but I can never say I learned everything. For if a person like Socrates would ask me, I would eventually end up mute, unable to explain more for then I had reached the capacity of my wisdom.

Just as relevant is the bravery in Socrates. It was not just any bravery, and was even far from being foolish. He chose to speak up his mind and stood by his principles. He was never dissuaded by punishments and even appreciated the death offer. In his devotion he was engulfed in poverty. Still, he never faltered.

As I end this writing, I am overwhelmed with a mixture of sadness, regret, and astonishment. Out of laziness, I am once again saddened by the fact that it is quite a struggle to keep moving forward in life and experience new things. I am panged with guilt for all the times I had wasted and invested on the less important. And yet I am a little bit shocked of myself, having reached this far. If indeed our souls leave our rotting body and be given rebirth, then one cycle of life is just another attempt to garner wisdom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kinds of Terms in Logic

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According to Bachhuber in his book Introduction to Logic, the term can be classified as univocal, equivocal, and analogous by basing on the term’s relation to more than one inferior.

Univocal Terms

When a term is being applied to their inferiors in the same exact essence, such term is univocal.

For instance,

  • a drum and a piano are both occurrences or inferiors of the term instrument, making it univocal or having only one meaning, which is an object that produces music.
  • The term Filipino is univocal in relation to the Surigaonon, Kagay-anon, ManileƱo, Cebuano, Ilocano, and any other social division of people within the Philippines.
  • Boeing 777 and the stealth bomber B-2 Spirit are instances of the univocal plane, an engine-driven flying vehicle.
Equivocal Terms

When instances are under the same term but of entirely different meaning, the term is equivocal. The term is referred by instances of different meanings.

For example,

  • the term rat applies not only to a long-tailed rodent that is larger than a mouse but also to a person who is deceitful and betrays confidences.
  • A faggot becomes equivocal when applied to the bundle of sticks for firewood and the slang for a gay man. Similarly, the term gay has over the years evolved to adapt a new meaning, that of being homosexual, entirely different from gay as in being merry.
  • Equivocally, a fan can signify the tool for moving air and an enthusiastic admirer of a celebrity or public performer.
Analogous Terms

Terms become analogous when their inferiors are partly the same but also partly different in their use or essence. The emphasis on the analogy of inferiors, in this case called analogues, depends on the degree of their relation with each other and to the general term.

  • Magic is analogous to the sleight of hand or conjuring tricks and illusion and to the fictional magic such as a fireball invoked by a wizard and the dead raised by necromancers. While both are in a way fantasized and admired, the former is done with dexterity and speed to trick the minds of the audience and the latter is supernatural and impossible to perform.
  • The term Filipino can become analogous if it is not just applied to the races but also to the country’s language (Tagalog, Bisaya, etc), and culture (food delicacies, dances, lifestyle, etc). These inferiors in themselves are distinct but all point to identity of the Philippines.
  • The head as in the chief executive officer and the head in a person are both the topmost part of a company and the human body, respectively. They are in some way similar and vital but have no direct resemblance to each other.

Reference:

Bachhuber, S.J., Andrew H. Introduction to Logic. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1966.

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Understanding Online Comments

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Every social person loves hearing feedback. An essential part of communication, its purpose lies in exchanging feelings and ideas. Writers, for instance, obtain assessment from experts and reviewers which they can use to better their style of writing, revise a published material to make it more accurate, and possibly discover a new angle for a topic (or an entirely new topic). Hence, even blogs, columns, or articles posted online usually provide an option to submit comments.

The value of comments found online, however, varies on a broader range when compared to their offline counterparts. The dynamic nature of the Internet and the anonymity it provides helps users partake more confidently on activities such as commenting without major consequences. In other words, people who do not frequently speak up in person may find it easy to express ideas and thoughts online. Sadly, freedom from identification also attracts the undesired trivial and insulting interaction between users known as flaming, especially when the comment thread runs too long.

Bear in mind though that one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. When many thinks of comments (be them flame messages or not) as useless, one with an analytical mind is able to dissect through the mess and salvage information that are useful to them.

To start with, a better understanding of online comments is needed.

Any form of feedback can influence the minds of people in a community. For example, comments that are cleverly written with underlying meaning can negate claims and arguments stated in an article, generating a negative attitude towards the article.

Static or Dynamic? The arrangement of comments online can be divided into two types: static and dynamic. In a static system, comments are posted on permanent spot; the first post remains at the top. This system encourages discussion, making comments into a thread (series of messages replying to previous posts) though it risks veering the conversation off course. On the other hand, dynamic comments are arranged based on their ratings or votes; posts with the highest ratings are displayed at the top. Hence, discussions among comments are minimal and most entries talk about the article instead.

What the comment itself is. The contents of a comment must also be scrutinized. Is the comment perfectly structured, constructive, and unbiased? Does it have verifiable references for claims mentioned? Is it only a mere praise/reproach comprised of a few words? Has the comment become a mere flame message? Does it not cover the article at hand but rather argues on extrapolated political or religion issues? When these questions are answered, comments can then be organized for further analysis.

Commenter's identity. Last not but not least, with the given freedom due to anonymity, comments may tend to be subjective, incomplete, irrelevant, discriminatory, and insulting without justification. Fortunately, there are certain ways to alleviate these types of comments to an extent albeit people will find ways to subvert them, even ignore them totally.

Comments is a wild form of business that, when tamed, can help complement another business. When the aspects of online comments mentioned above are understood, writers can then manage to work comments to their advantage.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sarah Palin ‘going Angry Birds’ in PCMag

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I have been going through my daily website readings and found this article on PCMag (screenshot below). I just don’t get the reference…

So what has Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue: An American Life got to do with the apology of the Angry Birds devs? Weird…

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Globe Tattoo Broadband Nostalgia

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The moment Globe Telecom has abused its Fair Use Policy for its mobile unlimited internet service – Globe Tattoo Broadband Super Surf – I knew someday my unwavering loyalty to Globe will falter. Last month I finally gave up on it and transferred to Sun Cellular’s Easy Broadband. So far things are good under a different internet service provider, but there are times that I really miss being a prepaid Tattoo subscriber.

GCash Discount

SuperSurf uses Php220.00 of phone balance or load to be activated for 5 days. Using Globe’s virtual cash system – GCash – I can buy the needed load amount with a 10% rebate. Sure when you do the math, Easy Broadband is still cheaper (only P799.00 per month). But I can use the rebated amount for my calls and SMS messages.

Globe Rewards Points

Aside from the rebate, Globe also rewards points to subscribers when buying load. The points can be used to claim prizes such as phones, cameras, etc. I’m actually 150 points short of claiming movie tickets for 4 but I can’t reach that amount anytime soon since Super Surf was my main reason to frequently buy load.

Free SMS messages

I also miss the 20 free SMS messages that came along buying Php40.00 load. Since the 5-day internet subscription costs Php220.00, I buy Php40.00 of load five times (plus the remaining Php20.00), giving me as many as 100 free SMS messages every time I subscribe.

It’s not just the freebies and the loyalty points, I miss the torrent speed too.

High torrent speed

Easy Broadband may reach as fast as 2 Mbps kbps but that’s only for browsing and direct downloading. I noticed my torrent download speed won’t go beyond 40 kB/s. Whereas on Tattoo, the torrent speed could reach as fast as 100 kB/s kbps during peak hours, and even 250 kB/s during off peak hours.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

He Exists

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Ah… the old Atenean times.

His name was Angelito, and most people had given up on him. More or less brought to the world and still needed to be molded, what could he possibly do to get their attention? Hardly taught of anything, all he could probably do was cause more trouble just to make people feel his existence. He was calling for help, for someone to acknowledge him. A simple child, Angelito could not understand the world. He seemed to ignore everything but deep inside he may be disturbed, vainly trying to reach thin air hoping that someone may grab his hand.

The National Program Service Training (NSTP) tutors arrived outside the gates of Payatas B Annex Elementary School. Nauseous from the hour long ride, not to mention the disgusting smell coming from the garbage dumpsites we passed by, it was hard to be looking forward to teach and interact with the young minds. Nonetheless, we were told to proceed to the classrooms to be introduced to the tutees. I reluctantly entered the room and immediately sat to the most comfortable seat I could find. Oblivious to the instructions being given, all I wanted was to get this done with so that I could go home and rest. But my name was finally mentioned with another name, Angelito. There he was among crowd of children, orangey brown hair and skinny. I could not help but notice his impaired eyes too. How unfortunate this kid was. I approached and led him to the seats to familiarize ourselves with one another, but I could not utter a single word; aside from my reclusive character, I was occupied by his appearance and stature. We left the school after some time.

He was never absent during next tutorial sessions. His mind however was hard to penetrate. Distracted, he would often wander off from me and started playing with other kids without tutors. Many times I tried grabbing him back to our seats and teach him something. During reading tutorials, he would imitate what I just pronounced, but I doubted that he was paying attention. It was only after the next meetings that I was shocked to hear from his own voice the words and lessons I taught him; He remembered. I was actually on the verge of giving up but I was lucky enough to see that it paid off well. I realized how patience was important and how things would work out if I give enough effort into it.

A simple child indeed he was. Often laughed at his appearance, he would merely smile back. He kept reaching blindly and at last someone caught his hand. A person who tried to be for and with others has finally helped him. I just wished that when we end our NSTP insertions, someone would continue my efforts to nurture his youthful mind.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spam: Verify your Gmail

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I received one email so remarkably close to being legit that it can possibly fool people had it passed through Gmail’s spam filter. Too bad I already clicked Delete Forever long before I thought of pressing Print Screen first – the biggest regret bloggers can have. Anyway, pasted below is the hoax mail in its whole extent.

(Newbie intro to spam: it’s an electronic junk email usually unsolicited and commercial, but at times targets users for their personal information such as passwords.)

Verify your Gmail

We apologize if you receive this message in spam, We are conducting another system enhancement. To keep your account's details secure and up to date we need periodically to verify your identity. Please proceed right away by providing us with the information bellow;

<user name>
<password>
<birth date>
<country>.

Refusal to verify your information will result to the account been permanently closed.

The email was sent by a certain accauthenticationgrp01@gmail.com accompanied by the name The Gmail Team. If you’ll recall the first three emails you’ll receive on Gmail are from the real Gmail Team.

Had it not for the improved grammar and content structure, I wouldn’t have bothered posting this spam. Also, the spam emails I usually receive are all about viagras, penis-lengthening drugs, and other cheap drug offers. But I was actually impressed on how the spam above actually has gone to another level, save a few grammar errors. It seems the spammers have finally gotten an English teacher. And slowly, they’re learning, lol.

Anyway, email users must always be aware of spams like these. I’ve got a few tips below on how to identify which emails are spam.

  • Got placed in Spam or Junk. Most email services automatically scan and filter whether messages are spam or not. Messages not passing through the filter are almost always spam.
  • Phony email addresses. Spammers may impersonate well known users but their email addresses uncover their real identity. For instance, the real Gmail Team uses the address mail-noreply@google.com.
  • Spelling and grammar. An email simply loses its credibility when its content is not checked for spelling and grammar errors.
  • Too good to be true. When messages offer products with highly unbelievable deals, it probably is fake.

If you want to know more about other popular spam and hoaxes, check them out at Snopes.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Top 5 Google Chrome Extensions

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Google Chrome is a very fast browser, no point arguing that. Its built for speed and minimal look however has left it lacking with much needed features. That’s actually a good thing for me since I can install only the extensions that I want.

Many of my extensions allows me to do many tasks without leaving Chrome. So without any more delay, here are my top 5 Google Chrome extensions:

RSS Subscription Extension

As a blogger, I need to keep up to date with my fellow bloggers. By subscribing to their feeds I can be notified of new posts without checking their blog everyday. This applies to news and online magazines too. With RSS Subscription installed, it automatically detects websites with feeds and lets me add a subscription to my favorite reader or feed aggregator.

Google Reader Notifier

My favorite feed aggregator is no other than Google Reader. Just like with the extension above, having the Google Reader extension lets me know if I have new unread items in my account and also provides a preview by clicking on its button.

SiteAdvisor for Chrome

One thing I miss most on Firefox is the SiteAdvisor extension. After a few years, its Chrome version has finally arrived, albeit unofficial. It will check whether the page I am currently browsing is safe or potentially hazardous. When it does find a dangerous site, it prevents me from proceeding to the page and instead redirects me to the SiteAdvisor website. There I can see the full details of the exploit site in question.

Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on

I happen to visit my own blog frequently to check for comments, to publish new posts, or to just admire my accomplishment :) . This used to be quite troublesome since I am using Google Analytics for visitors statistics – by default it records my own visits and therefore botches the whole statistics report. Luckily I found Google Analytics Opt-out Add-on – created by people at Google themselves. When installed, all information about my visits to any websites tracked by Analytics will not be sent and recorded.

IE Tab

Even during these days there are still websites that are not fully compatible with all browsers, including Google Chrome. With IE Tab I can see those sites in their entirety without leaving Chrome and opening a separate Internet Explorer window.

 

Got a Google Chrome extension to recommend? Share it at the comments below!

Annoying Roommate

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Had a roommate with a pesky attitude? I did. It was unbearable enough that I had to report him. I could’ve confronted him head-on but he has an inflated opinion of himself. Also, I approach many things indirectly, passive-aggressively even. So I thought a letter of complaint against him is the most appropriate.

Rules mainly exist to uphold order and balance; hence not a single person must be an exception. Otherwise, any unwanted exceptions to the rule will eventually be the root of disharmony and misunderstanding. I write this letter to complain about the misconduct and disrespect that Mr. John Smith* of Room 3, St. Arnold’s Hall has done during his nine months of stay here at the dormitory. He has been repeatedly reprimanded by seniors and officers to conform to the rules and regulations of not just the dormitory but also of the whole university. Even so, he still shows self-importance and disregard for other dormers.

I believe it was already on record that Mr. Smith has already been given a second chance for his misdemeanor during the first semester. That was probably why at the start of the second semester, he seemed to have humbled himself and regarded the interest of fellow dormers. In time, he has however forgotten to remain in such behavior and went back to be the same old, backstabbing, ill-mannered person. His insolence starts from subtle impoliteness such as raucous singing and playing loud music and games when even someone is studying or sleeping. He was also seen trespassing inside St. Mary’s Hall which is supposedly for female residents only. In addition, he also has major violations that should be dealt with accordingly: He had a dispute with the security personnel in regard to his continued non-use of school uniform and manner of appearance (use of distinctly colored hair dye and unacceptable long hair).

His offenses do not only cover school regulations; his relationship among many fellow dormers is hollow at best. Due to his habit of backstabbing and gossiping false information, he already had a disturbing number of quarrels with fellow dormers. His failure to trust even his roommates is one of my reasons of writing this letter. He habitually belittles officers of our dorm organization, his laundrywoman, the security guards, among others, and continually reasons that the wealth of his family places him on top of others.

It is understandable that Mr. Smith has the right of residence in the dormitories and was admitted for being deemed of good character. On the other hand, whatever first impressions he made will not remain applicable as days pass. His true personality eventually revealed itself and proves how his character is actually unfit for residence with fellow students, unless he decides to adjust for the sake of the dorm spirit. Even then, adjustment is difficult for a person who is arrogant on what he believes, in addition to selfish and repugnant.

It is therefore in my opinion that the eviction of Mr. Smith is appropriate if possible. Alternately he can be transferred to another room. Perhaps being in the same room with a childhood friend, Mr. Eric Forster* of Room 4, and with new roommates might lessen his undesirable manners for the rest of the semester. These courses of action are merely suggestions and I can only wait for those in position to convict Mr. Smith. I am merely a freshman member of the dormitory who has provided my own point of view regarding this matter. But I am however longing for an effective resolution that will benefit both the accused and me in behalf of other complainants. I acknowledge that the assessment for this complaint cannot be completed within a short duration; therefore I am willing to wait for as much as needed. If it speeds up the process, the male dormers, especially his roommates, and even the female residents of St. Mary and St. Joseph Halls can vouch for the credibility and truth of this letter.

I have been constantly patient and tried to put myself in his place to better understand him. But these nine months of stay at the same room with him made me conclude to report his case to the people in authority. I may not be a very active dorm member but I have at least tried my best to keep a wholesome and harmonious relationship with other dormers by, for example, helping people in their academics.

I plan to continue staying at the dorm and making sure that rules are implemented; therefore I only wish that that Mr. John Smith had done the same, or it would not have come to this. All in all, I submit this letter of complaint for the sake of what is right. I am very much hoping for your kind consideration regarding this case. Thank you very much.

* Names have been changed to protect their privacy and identity.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poster Ad for My Printing Business

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Our school term has recently begun and therefore my printing services are back in business. I needed to put up a poster advertisement to entice both new and loyal customers to avail my services, thanks to low pricing and decent quality prints.

My previous poster was pretty much okay for my taste. It also had everything there is to know about my business: contact info, service hours, available types of prints, pricing and discount options. This time however I have extended my services – basically just document printing – to include photo printing, an expensive yet hopefully high-yielding choice. So I thought there’s nothing better to introduce this service by producing an ad printed on a photo paper.

I’m not much of a designer or artist so I figured I’ll just make a collage out of stock pictures, add the necessary information and print it. After much deliberation, I finally came up with the final poster ad.

I used Picasa, Google’s photo organizer with basic editing tools, to create the collage for me. As for the text and its semi-transparent white background I used Adobe Flash CS5, although Microsoft Word would have done the job just fine.

There’s not much to look at but I’m still pretty impressed with the output. I immediately printed three copies and posted it at strategic bulletin board locations. I’m hoping this semester I can earn as much as Php10,000.00 (around $220).

Oh, and for those wondering why my business is called Godsmack IV, it’s because that’s how they know me at school.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Work in Progress: Sudoku Game and Solver

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For my Java course I was required to submit a program that can communicate with a database to retrieve and save data such as personal information, contact etc. I proposed programming a Sudoku game and solver.

A little bit of Sudoku background

Sudoku is a mind game using number puzzles. Logical thinking is required to get through the game. Nonetheless it is enjoyable, making it a regular pastime for people all over the world.

Sudoku has a distinctive game mechanics and techniques in order to solve it. The aim of the puzzle is to fill whole 9x9 grid with digits from 1 to 9 such that only one instance of a digit can be found per column, row, and the nine three-by-three sub-grids.

Project background and status

The goal of this project is to provide a fully functional Java-based Sudoku game that does not only provide a predefined number of puzzles but can also generate its own puzzle. A saving feature will be added to save current sessions to be able to resume it in the future. The game will also have the ability to create player profiles, each having statistical information that displays best records and winning streaks, among others.

This project, as the post title mentions, is currently a work in progress. The deadline will not be until the end of our school term so it may take me a while to finish it.

In the meantime, here’s a preview screenshot:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Overcoming Writer’s Block

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Have you lost the will to write? Have you forgotten what keeps you writing? It’s time to recover and turn that light bulb on on your head with strategies for overcoming writer’s block.

  • Time Management. If there is a time to work and to play, naturally there is a time for writing. Set a particular period of the day solely for writing. It forces our minds to focus and think on writing only during that period.
  • Relax/Meditate. Do not forget that the excess of one thing is harmful. Writing is not an exception. Pause after some writing and try to relax, meditate, and get some fresh air to rejuvenate your minds.
  • Lapse of A Day or Two. There are times when we are oblivious to our own composition regarding its grammar, content and everything else especially if we review it right after composing it. Giving ourselves a gap of a day or two not only helps us effectively criticize our own work but also to improve it as well.
  • Unusual Activities. If lack of new ideas is the problem, unusual activities will be useful for sparking creativity. Or tackle usual activities but in another perspective, therefore renewing it.
  • Brainstorm. When beginning to write, brainstorm. This is to obtain creative ideas impulsively that are related to each other.
  • Freewriting. Freewriting is like a casual form of brainstorming; writing down whatever comes to the mind, be it relevant or not. These scribbles might show something valuable for writing. Digging up lost ideas in our minds is also possible through freewriting.
  • Outlining. It would not hurt if there is some organization in your work. In writing, outlining comes in handy. It keeps you on track and with the flow of your work.
  • Scholastic/Educational Entertainment. Do activities that bring inspiration and not for mere fun. For instance, why watch wrestling matches when the topic to write about is documentaries. Unless it is specifically about wrestling, then feel free to watch these.
  • Self-esteem. Believe in one’s self. Disregard what other people say. Convince one’s self that they can do it. With a pen and a piece of paper, writing is possible.

Do you need ideas for your blog’s posts? Find ways to replenish your depleted blogging inspiration.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Windows Live Writer - Adding Captions

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Switching to Windows Live Writer from the Blogger post editor has worked wonders for me. But admittedly nothing is perfect; I noticed one function Writer does not have: adding image or photo captions.

I listed below three workarounds on adding image/photo captions using Windows Live Writer, with each having its own advantages.

Note: This guide was created using Windows Live Writer 2011 installed on Windows 7 operating system.

Watermark

The easiest, and possibly the best, method to add captions to images is through watermarking.

How to watermark a image/photo:

  1. Select (by left-clicking) the desired image/photo to watermark.
  2. Once selected, go to the Format tab that appears on the ribbon toolbar.
  3. In the Picture styles group, click Watermark.
  4. A dialog box will appear where you can customize your watermark.

Only the text, its font, font size and position on the image/photo may be customized. The text must fit in one line only, since there is no option to wrap text.

Watermark is a convenient way to copyright your photos. When positioned cleverly, a watermark can deter people from using the image as their own without acknowledging you as source.

Be careful with the positioning though, or your image or photo may lose its beauty; We don’t want to distract your viewers with annoying text.

Polaroid Picture Plugin

Writer has a free-for-download plugin called Polaroid Picture. It is similar to the normal inserting of pictures but presents the pictures a la Polaroid style.

How to insert a picture and add captions via the Polaroid Picture plugin:

  1. Download and install the plugin.
  2. Once installed, click Polaroid Picture… that appears on the list in the Plug-ins group on the Insert tab.
  3. Browse and select your desired picture.
  4. If the inserted picture is selected, the plugin’s options pane appears at the right side of Writer.
  5. At the options pane you will find the ability to add the caption for your picture.

The caption is positioned below the photo and aligned in the center.  Unlike the watermark, captions using this plugin is multiline when the text becomes too long. There are also more options for the font’s appearance.

Borderless Table

The last method is done by inserting a 1x2 (1 column, 2 rows) table with no visible borders. The first row contains the photo while the second has the corresponding caption.

How to insert a borderless table:

  1. On the Insert tab, click Table to open the Insert Table dialog box.
  2. Enter 2 for Rows, 1 for Columns.
  3. The width depends on the size of your photo. (This can be adjusted later.)
  4. Uncheck Show table border.
  5. Click Insert to finish.
  6. Insert the photo in the first row and the caption in the next row.

Chrysanthemum

Note that while editing your post, dotted lines represent the borders of your table. This will disappear when you publish the post, as shown in the photo above or when viewed in Writer’s preview.

Also, the borderless table method is excellent for inserting pictures from the web, as pictures stored online cannot be edited.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Disable Adobe Automatic Updates

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adobe updater

While an excellent suite of productivity software, Adobe Creative Suite has become so bloated that updating all the included software would amount to gigabytes in size. Users who have slow internet connection and can’t afford to have their browsing speed slowed down by automatic updates may want to disable or control Adobe Updater, the download utility that comes with the suite.

By default the Adobe Updater checks for new updates for all installed Adobe Creative Suite applications every week and automatically downloads them. The Updater will notify you only when the updates are completely downloaded and ready to install.

We can change this preference such that the Updater will check for updates less frequently, ask before it starts downloading, or not update at all.

Here’s how:

Note: This guide was only tested on Windows 7. It is however expected to work on previous Windows operating systems: Vista and XP.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 (Adobe CS3)

There are two ways to change the updater settings for Adobe CS3. The easier method requires an active Internet connection. The other requires editing a .dat file using Notepad.

With Internet connection:

Navigate to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Updater5 and start Adobe_Updater.exe. (Note: Program Files (x86) on 64-bit Windows)

When Adobe Updater finishes checking for updates, the update screen will appear. Click the Preferences link/button.

adobe updater update screen

On the next screen, a list of options are available. You can:

adobe updater preferences

  • Uncheck Automatically check for Adobe updates to manually check for updates next time.
  • Let it check for updates but only let it download them when you tell it to do so.
  • Select which applications to update.
  • Select download location for all update downloads.

Without Internet connection:

For Windows XP: Navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Updater5.

For Windows Vista/7: Navigate to C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Adobe\Updater5.

Open AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat in Notepad.

Find the tag <AutoCheck>1</AutoCheck>. Change the value from 1 to 0. If it does not exist, add <AutoCheck>0</AutoCheck> outside other tags but still within the <AdobeUpdater></AdobeUpdater> tags.

Close and save AdobeUpdaterPrefs.dat.

Adobe Creative Suite 4 (Adobe CS4)

Changing the updater settings for Adobe CS4 is basically the same as Adobe CS3’s. However, instead of the folder Updater5, look for Updater6.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5)

Turning off the automatic update mechanism for Adobe CS5 requires creating a .dat file using Notepad.

Create a plain-text file using Notepad and paste the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<Preferences>


<Suppressed>1</Suppressed>

</Preferences>
Save the file as AdobeUpdaterAdminPrefs.dat.
Put the file in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\AAMUpdaterInventory\1.0 on 32-bit Windows XP and later. For 64-bit Windows XP and later, put the file in C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\AAMUpdaterInventory\1.0.
adobeupdateradminprefs
This disables updates using Adobe Updater and through individual application update checks. Restoring the ability to update requires removing or renaming AdobeUpdaterAdminPrefs.dat or downloading from the official updates site.
flash cs5 disabled updates

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Making Things Work Out for You

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You can't always get what you want.  Life is not what you thought it would be. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Yadda yadda yadda.

Cheer up! When some things just go wrong, find something else to counterbalance it. I, for instance, have my own share of problems but I still manage to find a compensation, if not a total fix, for them.

488px-Tensionheadache1

Here's one thing that I find most irritating:

Have you ever noticed the things you lose often turn up at a place that would have been obvious had you not forgotten it? There was even this one time I got so furious with myself for losing my glasses (can’t see without them you know), only to fume more because they were just dangling on my front pocket.

These days I tend to place my phone, my wallet, and sundries in just two places: the pockets of my pants and my bag. So when the unfortunate time comes, I only need to search two places first: the pockets of my pants and my bag.

Even annoyances occur in the computer world just as much in real life:

When what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editors fail to publish the same appearance that I saw when I edited my articles. 

What I did: Lately I've been trying out Windows Live Writer as substitute for the Blogger editor. So far, the resulting published articles are most of the time exactly the same as when they were still drafts.

When I have to switch back to Internet Explorer because a website is not compatible with my favorite browser, Google Chrome. Broken layouts, missing interactions, sluggish performance are the common annoyances to name a few because of incompatibility.

What I did: The thriving community who creates extensions for Chrome have come up with IE Tab. With this extension I can view a website using IE but without leaving Chrome.

When you’ve got a lot of things that is bugging you, I’d recommend letting it out (say, in the comments below or as your own blog post) rather than cooping it up inside you until you freak out. Take a leaf out of Ladaisi’s book.