The Zone

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The Zone is the mental sanctuary wherein feelings are held in an infinite stasis. There is only peace and calm in the Zone. Why don’t I go there often?

Half-baked tag


I like freebies may it be useful or a one-time quirky curiosity thing. I admittedly have a weird standard on what counts as curious which sometimes explain the amount of trash in my storage spaces. My wife calls them junk, I call them as my collection of “probably usefuls”. 😀

I also have this limit on what I would like to get. To the probable disbelief of those who know me, I can say no to a freebie especially if it fails to rouse my interest. One such thing is the freebie that the company hyped and gave its employees: a dog tag.

Not the actual dogtag freebie

Yes, a dog tag. And no ordinary dog tag like what is in the image above. The dog tag is engraved with a list of qualities that the company wants everybody to be governed with in their everyday life; to breathe and live so to speak. The thought is sweet but I wonder what kind of crack is being smoked by the person who conceived this “promotion.” This is for the same company who revamped the design of its electronic badges because it doesn’t want the badges to have a distinct link to the company as a form of security against lost and forged badges.

The day they sent out the invite, Mike and the others in the Bench project was asking if I was going to get my dog tag. I gave them a big “HELL NO!” for the simple reason that I don’t see any practical nor interesting use for it. I like war video games like the Medal of Honor series which revolves about war campaigns but I am not fanatical enough to consider dog tags as a cool accessory. I also don’t have any dog that I can attach the tag. 😛 I am also trying to minimize the weight of my electronic badge since its weight alone is already noticeable. I gave a tongue-in-cheek retort that maybe we can collect all the dog tags in the project team and sell them in the junkyard for twenty pesos and buy ourselves two sticks of banana-que. 😛 Nope, I am not going to go into long queues to redeem that.

Early last week a company memo was sent to the email system which made me drop my jaws with laughter. The memo was warning against selling the tags and giving them away to non-company employed persons (e.g., friends, family, etc.). Much as I find it funny that somebody had the cajones to actually sell the tags, it kills me to think that somebody actually bought the craptag. /lol

And then here is the final kicker: I was told that the tags, like the electronic badges, should not be displayed when outside the company premises as they provide a direct link to the company. They should be hidden when going outside.

Yeah right, like I would go through the hassle of queuing for the tags, weighing down my e-badge, and then remind myself to keep it hidden from plain sight. I wonder if the organizers of that promotion really believed that people would wear them in company premises willingly. I can’t figure out any reason though but there must be something out there even if they are beyond normal reasoning.

Maybe they should have given out board magnets. Or maybe paper weights. Or maybe something useful like a shirt, notebook or bookmarks.

[update] Curiously enough, another memo is sent out regarding this illustrious freebie. It seems the voice of the disgruntled is strong. The memo clarifies that the dogtag can be worn outside office premises but should be on a separate chain than the e-badge. The rationale is that the dogtag, which displays the company name, will link the e-badge back to the company if it gets lost. That makes sense, sort of. The wife makes a strong argument against that logic: but WE KNOW that badge is from your company. Apparently taking out the company name and colors from the badge will prevent outsiders from putting two and two together and arrive at the conclusion that persons wearing badges coming out of offices with big company logo is not affiliated with the company. Yeah, that makes absolute perfect sense. In the ideal world, everybody hides the badge every time they go out.

Oh, I got a deed here for the Guadalupe bridge for anybody willing to buy it. I am selling it cheap. 😀


Go process!

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Nazistic proxy love that is.

For the first time in 5 years in the company I finally experienced being ‘benched’. That is the local term for any resources who are in-between projects. After going through several mind-benders, I figured this is a welcome opportunity to get some training done.

I have two options, either go for the trainings in the company online learning repository or pursue more job-directed tutorials that proliferate the net. In my perspective the second option means a wealth of information right in my fingertips as soon as I get clearance from my superiors that I can do so. First I have to make sure that I have completed all of those mandatory trainings. Ok, fair enough. I even tried taking some of the available CBTs to (in the words of my counselors) “round-up my non-technical skills.” Being a geek by nature, I can describe those trainings in two words: boring and under-estimated. Boring does not need further explanation and yes I already sent the proper feedback. Under-estimated means that the allocated time to complete each course is severely underestimated. My impression is that whoever timed these courses have used people gifted with super-human reading and compression skills. For the rest of us, good luck in finishing the courses in the allocated time. Think about what you can remember on the course on your way home.

After the non-technical traiing torture has ended, I set my sights on these cool Java frameworks and technologies that I kept promising myself that I would get an overview. I am talking hibernate, spring, struts, aspect oriented programming, design patters, eclipse framework, and what have you. The mere thought makes me salivate. 😀

First in line is the spring framework as this is being touted as the emerging de facto standard for J2EE development. The spring home site has a nifty tutorial that is easy to follow. Since the tutorial uses Apache Tomcat for deployment and testing and I am using Eclipse as my IDE, it makes logical sense to install an Eclipse plug-in to manage the Tomcat start/stop process. That is the goal of IDEs in the first place: so you have a one-stop shop for all your development needs.

Ok, now to put the good idea in practice: Fire up google, search for “best eclipse tomcat plugin”. What do you know, the first few hits lists the eclipse plug-in central site. The cherry is that you can sort based on rating and the best one is the sysdeo plugin which I remember using eons ago. This is where the love entered the scene: clicking the plug-in homepage returns a proxy blocked page because it is classified under “Freeware and Software Download”. Very nice. /roll-eyes

And now in order to use this “should-have-been-a-great-idea” I need to secure a manager’s approval, hunt down whoever is managing the elusive Websense white-list, make the actual appeal, probably need to secure a local security exception for something that common sense should dictate as something useful, which in turn would probably result to securing a global exception, and then doing the whole red-tape-esque dance of e-paper processing. Assuming my request gets approved I guess my grandchildren who would be in the company by then be able to use an Eclipse Tomcat plug-in if I am careful enough to word it that the request is not version-constrained. 🙁

Or I can circumvent the process by downloading the plugin from outside the external network and then send it in.

Or revert to using one command terminal to start tomcat, and then my IDE for development.

Guess which one won? Yay for progress and efficieny. CLI rules. 🙁


Leo the Archer update: ntfs-3g and sound

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This is a post on my attempts to run an ArchLinux-based desktop on Leo thus the codename “Leo the Archer”. Leo by the way is Betsy’s replacement which we picked up last July prior to my Denmark assignment. The attempt to create an ArchLinux system is partly due to the lack of support of the Mandriva 2007.1 installer (the one I had handy at the time) for the JMicron motherboard controller. Between Ubuntu and ArchLinux, I think I would learn more if I use ArchLinux. 🙂

Last night’s development included the following

  • Update to the latest release. This is what is great about rolling distributions, the option to use the latest and the greatest are always at your fingertips, assuming you have an available broadband. 🙂
  • better acquaintance with pacman. Installing new packages from Internet repositories does not include specifying -A or –add in the command line. That is reserved for installing local packages.
  • NTFS-3G works. This is my first Linux distro that I have easily achieved successful NTFS writing support.
  • Sound still does not work. I followed the beginner’s guide for getting sound but no sound devices are being detected.

As it was already getting late, I decided to call it a night. The fact that my wife is practically breathing down on my neck to go to sleep had nothing to do with it. PROMISE! 😉 I hope the restart would make udev detect and produce the right devices when I start it up again. All in all, not a bad piece of update.

[edit] the sound device got created after the reboot but for some reason flash sound (i.e., youtube) is not being processed.