And then there was one…

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Francis is flying back home to the Philippines and Arvin is in Malaysia. I am left holding the fort alone for the next 3 weeks. It is a good thing that men are built with less emotional tendencies or else I would have been depressed. Well maybe not all men are built that way but I am a lone wolf ever since I have found that I enjoy books than playing outside. The same rule applies and there is still Ivy whom I can still talk to in Tagalog.

Have a safe trip Soy. Enjoy the short reprieve that you are getting because we both know that you will be back in the bloody frontlines soon enough.


Some Java and MySQL Connector/J tips

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Ok, I and others have been bitten by some of these oversights so I hope it will be of some use to some:

1. Dont use the jar file ending with -g. That will require the aspectj libraries which is a paradigm for simplifying inclusion of boiler plate code (e.G. Debugging, etc.). Use the other one.

2. At least in the development phase: DO NOT WANTONLY OVERRIDE EXCEPTION MESSAGES AND STACKTRACES. They may seem ugly but they have their purposes. Handle the exceptions but output the error somewhere to help you debug. You can remove the debugging statement later.

As an added tip, use a unique word to tag statements that you will remove later (e.g. prepending System.out.println messages with “[REMOVE]”) to facilitate search and remove later on. Or use the task feature of Eclipse if you are using it (i.e. start a comment with “//TODO” and it will appear in the task list) .

3. Use PreparedStatement calls whenever possible. However, DO NOT USE them when executing SQL INSERT statements with embedded SELECT statements. Construct your SQL statement via plain-jane string manipulation and execute them with Statement objects.

When constructing SQL statements for PreparedStatement objects, escaping strings that will be dynamically specified are not required. Just make sure that the question marks have spaces before and after.

4. The latest MySQL Connector/J drivers require JRE 1.4.x. Aside from that, aim for the lowest JDK possible to ensure maximum compatiblity. Java Runtime Environments are usually backward-compatible.

5. Modularize your code. This way you can do unit tests on your methods before integrating them to the main code structure.

6. Maximize comments. Make sure you create comments for all methods (no matter what the scope is) to describe what it needs to do. It is also good to create multi-line comments on how you would proceed in the body of the method. It gives focus on what you need to do and what will come after it.

I’ll just post additional ones as I encounter them.


Zempt, shave, SQL and sleep

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Zempt has a flaw. It keeps on escaping single and double quotes repetitively that the resulting post is rather unsightly. I end up having to edit it on the blogsome web interface. I have already raised this in the zempt forum and I think the developers are too busy with their real lives. The disadvantage of using FLOSS. 😀

Shave. I got around to shaving my head yesterday using Arvin’s electric razor. Being accustomed to having very short hair, the hair on the side of my head are beginning to irritate me. I am also beginning to develop a mannerism wherein I am pulling those hair so it was about time I mowed them down. I know I promised my wife I will let them grow for the duration of my stay but it is already driving me crazy. And no, trimming them with the local barber is too expensive. I just hope I shaved the back portion to a passable level. 😀

SQL. I am done with the BK and VER command in my IS238 TMA. The BK was the most complex since it involved a lot of trapping. And it also dictates the structure of my classes. I assume the others will be a breeze since they are simple in comparison. I did the VER command in an hour so I should be able to start the documentation on Wednesday since I still need to iron my clothes and cook my baon and dinner for the week.

Sleep. One thing that I am being deprived of. I cant wait to finish this TMA so I can get some well deserved rest.


Small world

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The dinner was great although Francis re-clarified that birthday dinners here does not mean that the person inviting (celebrant) is going to shoulder the tab. Unlike the custom back home, almost everything here is dutch treat (on some restaurants you can even request the bill to be split individually).

Did that mean that dinner was not free? Not quite because it was Francis’ despedida so it counted as a team-building dinner and Tomas picked up the tab. The cajun steak was alright but the serving was a little bit on the skimpy side, or maybe I just really have a big appetite.

One of Ivy’s Fiipino friends joined us. I initially thought it was Pen but it turned out that it was ‘Pheng’. I did not know her but she looked very familiar. Ivy said Pheng did not work for the firm so I was really trying to remember where I saw her. Apparenty she also recognized me and thinking along the same lines. I do not know if I am really that bad with faces or women just have better recall but when Pheng asked if I was from Tsukiden it dawned on me: she was from the Infosys group. That explains why I cannot recall her name or where I met her because technically we did not meet since I was in another group. What a really small world….

After the dinner at Eatz, the group went to Angleteria which is about a minute away from Arvin’s apartment. I did not touch any liquor or else risk pulling another ‘Jojo’ because I ate sorbet during the dinner. And my stomach was already rumbling. Somebody was already playing at the darts area so Ivy decided to move to another bar. The plan was that we (the onsite guys) would not go and do some Tekken tournament before Arvin goes to Malaysia tomorrow. But since Francis was already drinking beer he was easily coerced to go. The Tekken tournament did not push through since Arvin and I were already sleepy.


When will databases leave me alone?

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Two days of feverish (ok so feverish is an exaggeration) work on my TMA and I am yet to finish one command. I have been working on the booking command and it was taking waaaaay too long. I did not realize there were a lot of things to be considered. A huge thanks to the Eclipse IDE for making the debugging work easier although it manages to freeze my laptop whenever I am alt-tabbing to switch applications. It does not seem to be in friendly terms with Firefox and Thunderbird. Firefox is needed for the API browsing so Thunderbird has to go.

I find it ironic that for somebody who keeps on telling the world that he doesn’t want database work gets hounded by database tasks. Database backup and restoration is one thing, but doing SQL work is really a chore for me. It is a little bit above testing and documentation but a chore nonetheless. SQL work has the same effect on me as a warm milk on others: they make me want to fall asleep. IT is all about information, and information means storing them in digital format. Database work is inevitable in IT but I still would want to avoid it as much as I can.

Back to slugging it out with the TMA. The internet radio seems to be not agreeing with me either. I was hoping to hear some oldschool alternative music (e.g. eraserheads, yano, the youth, siakol, etc.) but Xpidernet and Pinoy Radio is bombarding me with Regine Velasquez, Rey Valera and occassional Renz Verano’s. Nothing good is on TV which I think is a good thing, less distractions for somebody who is screaming to get this TMA over and done with.

Plus side, dinner is going to be free courtesy of Ivy’s birthday celebration and Francis’s farewell dinner. Im getting sick of this mexican weekend meal escapade. Maybe a steak is in order… What the heck, it is free. :woot:

Which reminds me, I need to butter up my excuse dispenser since Francis and Arvin might do a last ditch attempt to coax me to treat them. Yeah right, you guys need to provide me with a very good reason why I need to treat you. Besides, I did not charge you for eating my Nilagang Anak ng Tupa the other weekend, right? 😛


The mexican fiasco

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I spent the whole day at home working on my IS238 TMA. Getting bored with adobo and other tomato (insta-mix based viands included), I decided to have a mexican meal parade. I grabbed half a kilo of ground pork (beef is too expensive here, costing as much as 30 euros per kilo), some tomatoes, a small head of lettuce, a texmex mix, a bag of salted nachos and a pack of soft tortilla wraps. I did not find any grated cheddar so I opted to go with grated mozarella since I figured it is also a hard cheese. Bad move but not a complete disaster. I also picked up 1.5 liters of coke to complete the extravagant parade. More or less I spent 10 euros which is not bad since this will be enough to last me 3-4 meals.

The plan was to make the ground meat based stew as the base for the nacho dip and filling for the burritos. So I chopped up some garlic , onions and a few of the chili peppers (siling labuyo, the taiwanese variety) that I bought from the asian store a month ago.

DANGER!!! Cover your nose with a cloth when sauteing the chili pepper. Putting it in hot oil will make the capsicum evaporate which produces a burning sensation on the sinuses and makes you want to sneeze worse than ground pepper does. When will I remember this lesson? 🙁

Ok, back to the pot. In goes the garlic and onion, then the ground pork. Add tomatoes when the pork has been browned then added the tomatoes and texmex mix, some salt and pepper and let everything simmer for a while.

Apartment lesson number 1: The range hood is not enough to absorb the smell of the tex-mex mix. You need to open the windows. WIDE!

Then it started to rain. Hard. I had to close the windows because water was getting in. Now the studio type apartment smells like it was sloshed in jalapeno pepper. But any filipino would tell you it smells like a certain anatomical crevice of a “5-6er”.

Overall, the nacho dip was ok. Just dont use mozzarella on top of the dip because it melts but does not disintegrate. Then I forgot that I left the softdrink in the freezer and it was nearly frozen. I placed it the sink and immediately unscrewed the cap. I was expecting to get a fine spray of cola but what happened was my first viewing of a slurpee rocket! 😀 A cork-sized frozen cola rocketed upwards up to eye-level.

One word describes it: COOL!

I need to get back to my TMA and eating nachos. I will do the burritos tomorrow.


The talk of the (geek) town

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Google has launched its own IM and Voip service and it is free! Wait scratch that, it is not just free but without annoying ads! Like it’s Gmail service, google-talk is still in beta but if you already have Gmail then you can use that to sign-in on Google-Talk.

Google-talk is based on the Jabber framework so you can use other IM clients to chat with Google-talk users. Google even provides an inital list and their capability/availability matrix. Too bad you can only use the talk functionality when you use the official Google-Talk client.

The client is pretty slick (and mine is pretty barren at the moment). You can enable the “friend’s list” to include everybody in your contacts list but if you are like me then that list contains 400 entries and I dont want them to be listed in the talk client. I wish there is an option to limit that to Gmail contacts but according to Google help center the people you most frequently ‘communicate’ with will appear in the list. Even if this people dont have Google-Talk, you can still use these contacts for sending email. You just have to click the gmail envelope across their names. Now if only you can specify which browser it uses because I have mine defaulted to IE as required by the office.

The hype on this service is pretty high and since it is still in beta stage then expect some problems now. I suggest waiting till most of the furor settles down. And since it is still in beta, the functionality offered by Google Talk is rather sparse and Google would need to add more features that is at par or better than the ones offered by current IM providers before it could sway people to their fold. Knowing Google, this is already planned so all we could do is wait. And watch for those saying Google is evil since this is another ammunition in their argument bank. 😀


David shows its ugly head again

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Who remembers or has even heard of David, the supposedly ingenious Filipino project that will enable Linux to run windows executable?

The first time the news of it came out only the ‘uninitiated’ bought it. Most ‘techies’ I have come across all cocked an eyebrow and muttered ‘Wine?’ SpecOps Labs insisted they did not use any Wine code but no techie worth his salt is biting. Why should they? To them David is nothing but vaporware that is going to rip the Wine project because it won’t give proper credit to where it is due. Bad move because it will only generate bad press.

Anyway, when I received this post that SpecOps is hiring again, I thought that it was amazing that David still survives until this day. I only became aware that SpecOps has generated (again) bad press from the local OSS scene again by being quoted in a news item that there are no sufficient local talent that will sustain the development. Only this time SpecOps has admitted to using Wine code.

And then I got wind of the this blog which is links to other criticisms that project David has already accumulated.

The new item said that David is already nearing completion. Let’s wait and see but I am not holding my breath.


Bottomfeeder out, Zempt in

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Good riddance Bottomfeeder, I have already found what I would replace you with when I am in windows. Zempt is currently not available in Linux but according to some reports (I did not subscribe to their mailing list and I cannot find information on their webpage) it will be available in other platforms as well. If it does not then drivel is still there.

I cant say that I will miss bottomfeeder because it was more temperamental than I am. Good thing I am a web-wanderer or else I would not have stumbled on Zempt. And it is not based on .NET which is good since I dont need to install additional libraries.


Exasperation on Distance Learning


This is my reply to a recurring trend on my experiences with being a distance learner at the University of the Philippines Open University. This was triggered by the recurring theme of not getting enough time slice from the faculty-in-charge(fic), especially for an information system project…

< rant mode on />

Another thing that confuses me is that the course guideline talks about masteral research and the likes but the course catalog description is

        IS 295a   Information System Project I (2 units)
                    Design of an information system 
        IS 295b    Information System Project II (2 units)
                    Implementation of an information sytem 

I know we are masteral students but that description is misleading. In my opinion theses are over-rated since it only proves you are specialized in one aspect of a field. That is the reason why i picked this program, both because i can manage my time and not do a thesis.

At this point in time, introducing an ‘innovative’ addition to the knowledge tree is a tough act considering that almost everything has already been done and tried. You dont believe me? Then try wading through the site. Almost everything is done at least two ways.

One more stumbling block is that you have to have an organization as your target user and you have to get your proposal approved by your adviser/committee as well. I do not know if that is just me but i have a hard time explaining to a prospective sponsor about the course proposal and then just find out it will be rejected afterwards. Getting them to at least spend the time to evaluating my request for ‘sponsorship’ is hard enough that transforming this into a chicken-and-egg (err. organization-or-adviser in this case) scenario is downright frustrating.

I can only imagine the paperwork piled on top of the FICs but these is already bordering on the absurd. They should have instituted a screening process that only students with pre-approved proposals are permitted to enroll in the course, that way the time of the majority is not wasted waiting for the second coming of Christ.

I am already thinking that we are getting what we have paid for. We paid for an ‘inexpensive’ program and look where we are: a bunch of students trying to find our bearings while being guided by overloaded fics who barely have time to spare for distance-learning students. Prof. Anacleto once told me that he has a personal theory on why the MIS only has 1 graduate so far. I think I also have mine: reality erodes idealism. Bok Apao and the rest who already dropped out are proof of that.

< rant mode off/>


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