Jerome's incomprehensible but improving...
Thursday, September 04, 2003

[BACKLOG ~8/23-Today]

Ack, almost forgot to write this.

Diane from Chipi's group invited me to judge for the upcoming ACM (?) contest to be held here. Had to mention that with Mark joining, is possible conflict of interest. Diane says Chipi's ok with it since he "trusts" me. Hehehe....

There's supposed to be some activity Sept 13-14, but since I have to help out in warlord I doubt I can come. No update from Diane yet.

Ronald our instructor always says, "OOOHKAAY!!!" to begin a discussion.

Interesting fact about EduPro, where we're training -- it's a sister company of Nexus and Jupiter Systems. The latter was the first company, and as the business got larger they merged with a hardware supplier which became Nexus, and EduPro became a separate entity focused on training.

Training's been great so far. Have a pretty good handle of .NET classes, ASP.NET, tracing, DataSets and XML (use with CMS XMLPlaceholder!), server controls, and.NET config files. Feel quite more confident with our VE-CMS project.

Food's great! We get a late breakfast, lunch and merienda. You have to mix your own coffee. Though just today, they "upgraded" to this dispenser device which you still have to turn some dials but automatically measures out the ideal amounts of Nescafe, Coffemate, and sugar.

We've had a number of quirky conversations during our breaks and right after our lab exercises, on the following topics (non-exhaustive)

- Bisaya (kaluuy in tawn)
- The state of the Philippine coconut industry
- Where did the words "bug" and "shell" and other computer coinages come from
- The word "gay" and "faggot" (erstwhile "straight" words)
- Our disliked foods (ampalaya, liver)
- Diabetes and liposuction (both inspired from watching the Jessica Soho Reports show I think)
- How Ernie Baron handles callers
- About removing "uban" as a business
- How do you commute to Baguio?
- F4 (no-brainer)
- Office gossip (but of course!)

Shucks, I forgot a lot of others, I'm sure. We really have a lot of these conversations in lunch at the office (as is the case with a lot of people I guess) we just don't remember them very well after lunch.

Of note, there's an FX that passes along Amorsolo to Ayala Ave. Dad has been kind enough to take the Amorsolo Skyway exit for the past two days to get me quite near to the training place (2/F #114.) I've tried riding that, riding a bus at Ayala and (crazy!) walking from Amorsolo to EDSA.

Have to make index cards of JITSE stuff. Will sleep at Mark's tomorrow, review with Amil on Saturday. Promised Mark will help in Project Warlord after Sept. 7. JITSE day, on graphics etc.


[BACKLOG FOR 8/26-8/29]

Before I forget...

We had our MS Content Management Server training last week. Our instructor was nicknamed Molds. (Roland? Ronald? Sorry can't remember exactly which.) He seemed to know the product fairly well, but for the advanced stuff, well, I guess we'll have to ask the consultant who has more actual experience. Week was about eating and running through MS CMS, .NET and ASP.NET exercises. I've gotten quite familiar with VS.NET. Overall it was a good introduction into thinking in terms of CMS and .NET and new tools. Looks like we'll have some things made for us (editing, publishing.) But we have some work ahead of us (server controls to bind to CMS placeholders, workflow processing, etc.)

Lots of eating, free merienda and all. Found out that George doesn't eat red meat. Training was in OfficeScan. Really really cold. Was great finishing a bit early for a change.

Just noticed we couldn't really focus on training at times since we would get those "usual" requests (need to modify Update Center, respond to this email, take note about this meeting, etc.) We also talked loudly (well not loudly, but aloud, while typing the exercises) to each other, about the training material, work, stuff that just pops into our email real-time (like Mark H resigning) and VE plans, almost seamlessly switching from one topic to another.

I always finish the exercises first. I have my doubts we can deliver good results with pair programming if I don't get George up to speed on implementing. Have to do the initial design well so we can have good estimates, so I can determine early if we'll have to put aside that XP concept for the time being. Don't believe what the book says always...

The XP Programming and Refactoring books were good. Hope to introduce some concepts into our project, just taking care that I don't force the matter and cause delays just to get to implement the new techniques.

Monday, September 01, 2003

First of 5-day training at EduPro today. MS Course 2310, ASP.NET Web Programming on Visual Studio.NET. Really really basic, but I always believe in the value of a fundamentals course formally taught, as it gives you an idea of "where to start." Also since I finish the exercises early I get to help the others (as with the CMS training last week) and I get to experiment with a bit more advanced stuff (custom controls binding to XML data for example.)

Gloria's birthday today! Went with Mylene to Glorietta to meet her. Bought Lord Stow's egg tarts as impromptu birthday present (My-my just told me about it on the FX to Ayala.) Some catching up on latest office happenings. Then went home in half an hour to do my JITSE review.

Re-read the first reviewer volume. That makes 2 volumes re-read. Four volumes to go! Very doable (1 per day, to Friday). To-do: give Amil the reviewer he needs and swap with him (probably Wednesday.)

Of note, was in incredible snacking mood. I just had to get out and buy some snacks at 24-7 just to continue reading the JITSE reviewer. I guess should just keep things in balance (i.e. watch what I eat but get to enjoy it and if some snacking makes me more productive, a little can be allowed I suppose.) Again, just watch it.


My Search Engine implementation resulted in 5.2 GB of cache files. Really bad implementation. I promised to fix it next Monday after my ASP.NET training this week.

Talked to RJ from Sustain on the phone (on a Sunday!) to fix this, and other issues. Really feel that I�m causing them the trouble (add to this list the UC DTS package headaches.) Should make it up to them by programming my stuff better, besides documenting stuff and helping them out (I�m not going to be there all the time.)

Programming is fun, but programming something that works takes commitment. Ack, that�s so obvious!

Somehow I feel lot�s of eventful things happening recently... Fr. David lecturing isn�t very memorable per se though. Maybe am just more conscious of events now. =)

I�ve always looked up to Fr. David as a public speaker. He gave this Sunday�s gospel at Della Strada. I remember he had a rather academic homily in a Mass a few months back (an exegesis of Jesus� sermon about the wedding where guests were cast out with wailing and gnashing of teeth), but today�s Mass was a very practicable one. He mentioned about external piety and internal holiness.

A rather poor paraphrase of a story he told:
A young man who was a candidate to be a rabbi told a rabbi that he always dressed in white, never drank alcohol, slept in the snow, and gave his back 40 lashes daily. The rabbi pointed to a white horse, who drank from the water trough, slept outside in the winter, and who surely received its own share of abuse from its master, and asked the young man, what was the difference between him and the horse? Is that being a saint or a beast of burden?

Told my brother about him, about the long lectures, how he would rant for half an hour if you couldn�t answer his question, the photocopies which purportedly would cost you P1,000 for the entire semester (didn�t verify, and prices would have changed by now.)

Anyway, I just thought that his lecture today was something to keep in mind. Try to be holy on the inside, try to keep your motives towards good things, by my own effort, and getting to know different kinds of people (hmm, just remembered about the party I had the other day at Selena�s) and of course God (my relationship with him is something I have to work on more, I admit.)


Sounds like quite a mundane activity but it had its highlights.

We ate lunch first, at Red Panda. Had to show him the really �sulit� value meals!

To evoke a clear memory of this day for posterity: I had the fish fillet meal, he had the wanton mami meal. Told him about the Ina R party, and we had some catching up with the latest Pisay 97 gossip (apparently Lexi is a good source.) Of note: Angel is pregnant (or gave birth already.) Cesar N is a confirmed homo now. Just verbatim. Not that I am a gossip person, but feel must log detail for posterity.

Went to Ateneo afterwards. Saw the improvements, some good, some rather kitschy. Noted the brick-colored paint of renovated De la Costa Hall, and the gravel �river� with the bridge (what�s that supposed to be, not even good �rock garden� rocks, just construction-work type gravel I think.)

Found litter here and there as we went around SEC. We�re really such litterbugs in the Philippines. We love our alma mater, our country and all, but somebody else has to pick up the trash while we study/work/do projects/make a difference in something else.

Told Amil I remember telling him that in the US, people who eat at fastfood clean up afterwards. Or at least they take their tray, dump the contents, and return the tray (note that I do remember seeing here those trash �cabinets� where you can put the trays on top.)

So we studied JITSE. Did adequately in the first half (80+%) and finished the programming (actually more of program tracing). We were complaining about the wordy roundabout style of English (correct but we just couldn�t understand the sentences without reading them again.) My guess is that it has to do with scarceness of commas, and dangling modifiers, and not using certain exam phraseology which we�ve gotten used to.

We took a break and ate at Cervini Caf. Talked about some of our reflections on the software industry. Main topic was, why does software engineering not seem as thorough as other engineering areas? I thought it was because we haven�t standardized on the higher levels of abstraction (like, we all use binary, 2�s complement in most areas, consolidated number of OS�s and platforms), but beyond that the interfaces, the specifications change, we�re always reinventing our versions of �the wheel�, looking at C to Java to .NET.

Just a realization as of writing -- the reason why we keep reinventing the wheel perhaps is because we progress so fast that we can see how we can improve the wheel. To paraphrase Moore�s Law, something like, we are able to double the speed of the wheel every 18 months. It�s just that with that, we don�t get to care about improving on the reliability of the wheel since we�re going to chuck it out in a few years at the longest.

Another reason is that IT is market driven. That alone is not a good reason. Somehow, many areas of the software industry works late hours, and has a higher tolerance for bugs. The reason why we choose to sacrifice quality to get something to market is because the competition does the same thing.

Then we had a discussion about XP programming. Amil thought that it may be hard to justify, and that, heck, BP hasn�t even tried a working structured software development methodology yet, so how will XP work when we don�t know much about process anyway. I told him it was at least worth a try.

He also told me about his thoughts about Jong of AV. He told me about the time that AV changed some email format and PSP didn�t work, and Jong emailed that he was laughing at the fact that BP programmers were not smart enough to handle the changes. He was expecting the program to adapt or something. I don�t know if it was really a minor change or otherwise, didn�t ask, but Amil told me how he felt about that conversation.

We both got text from Deo, and Amil from a friend, about watching the Dying Confessions of Kit Mateo (?), RPN-9, 6-7PM, a tape that ABS-CBN allegedly refused to air because it had damaging facts about Ping Lacson.

We found an example with a database table called �Table of Data�. We were really laughing out loud on that. Our DBA is going to have a fit with these:


Afterwards, I invited Mark to join us for dinner at Eyrie (?). So Amil (my Trend Micro contest contemporary and officemate) and Mark (the erstwhile �freshman sensation�) now know each other.

Slept at Mark�s place. Helped implement registry persistence of game settings for our XChallenge entry (a.k.a. Warlord) the next morning.

This day (August 29) also happened to be the last day for our batch of OJT�s. I couldn�t attend the farewell dinner =/. I rushed to Shopwise to buy snacks (pulutan), and took a cab to UP Village

Selena opened the gate. She was quite surprised -- she didn�t know I was coming! She was quite surprised and happy that I came (we haven�t met and I was the special guest of the party and she told me she saw me 2 weeks ago in Katipunan and she thought that oh Punzie we used to be close (as II-Sampa classmates) but I can�t approach him anymore and say hi because he might snub me but she�s so glad now that I came (and she kept saying things from the aforementioned over and over during the party so I had to tell her to stop it =P)

[TODO] [This really deserves more writing time that I have at the moment]


That was a very, very interesting and fortunate get-together. Just in case I wasn�t able to blog the prelude to this:

Just had some free time for catching up on �life� so I visited pisay97 egroups. Made a post, and almost instantly got contacted by Ina and Dottie. Some catching-up talk. Of note, Ina�s boyfriend JJ also works in Trend, and Dottie works in KFC at Roces Ave. I also got to talk to Tess Gusad. Jon Limjap and Bernice sent me an email. I really have to get to meet the others in person. Found out Ina was having a drinking party (!) at Selena�s place in UP Village, August 29, Friday.

So I was scheduled to go to Ina�s birthday party.

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