Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year: Media Noche and Computing (Jan 01 09)

My family usually spends New Year's Eve at home with us, sharing the traditional Filipino media noche, the midnight dinner of spaghetti, queso de bola, Filipino tsokolate, and fruits. The spaghetti was vegetarian, tomato and mushroom with semola spaghettini. I got the cheap Balducci semola, which is almost half the price of San Remo. For the non-vegetarians we had hotdogs and salami on a separate platter, far away from the vegetarians. We also had vegetarian hotdogs and ham, which my wife bought from Harvesters' Veggie Mart, the vegetable store and bakeshop next to Bodhi Vegetarian on Banawe Street in Quezon City. My neighbor, the Oafallas, gave chicken cordon blue and Korean noodles, so the non-vegetarians had two additional dishes.

Before dinner, we exchanged gifts. Every year, we had this problem of drawing names of the family member for whom we buy our annual Christmas gift. The problem is there were too few members of our family: wife Dulce and myself, son Paul and wife Mia, daughters Karen and Abigail. (This year, Abigail is in France on a Mundus Forum scholarship, so she missed our media noche and gift giving). The chance that we draw our own names was so great that we had to redraw many times until we got a satisfactory draw. This year though, Karen discovered Elfster:

http://www.elfster.com/

and Elfster solved our problem for us. Elfster not only drew unique names for everyone, but also Elfster gave everyone a chance to specify the gift she/he wanted. If you have a small family like ours, you should check out Elfster.

After dinner, I told Paul and Mia that Karen and I are working on a tiling problem that we intend to present to the 2009 Philippine Computing Science Congress in Siliman University, Dumaguete City:

http://computingsoc.blogspot.com/
http://ccs.su.edu.ph/pcsc2009/theconference.html

Mia got Paul interested, and Paul agreed to help. When I showed Paul my notes, he immediately saw a error in my brute force enumeration, which of course, got corrected. The rest of the early morning (after midnight dinner) was spent by my children working on the tiling problem. I believe that this is a good way for a family to spend New Year together.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ubuntu's New Network Manager Autoconnects to Smart (Dec 27 08)


Ubuntu Intrepid has a new Network Manager that automates the connection to mobile broadband providers Smart, Globe, and Sun. The process of connecting to the dial-up or 3G network has been made simple. First cable your 3G phone to your laptop, then turn the laptop on. After logging in, Network Manager recognizes the 3G connection, and will configure the connection for you, do the auto-dialling, and give you the option of keeping the connection alive. You will be given a list of available providers to choose from, depending on the area where you are located (I think). In my case, the list included Globe, Globe WAP, Smart, and Sun. Since my Nokia 6680 has already been preconfigured with Smart Internet/MMS/etc settings, I chose Smart from the list of choices provided. The connection took only a few seconds, and I had Internet service right away. I was able to check my Ateneo mail and Yahoo mail before things started to go wrong. After a period of use, the connection is dropped and I had to reconnect by clicking on the Network Manager icon on the panel (task bar on top of the screen). This dropping happened several times afterwards, that I got tired, abandoned Network Manager, and reconnected using wvdial instead.

Well, that's so much for Network Manager for me for managing mobile broadband connection. I will stick to wvdial, until I figure out what went wrong.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Big Daddy Laptop: A New Toy (Dec 26 08)


We spent Christmas day in the traditional Christmas party-reunion of the Guillermo clan. Anyone married to, or are children of, or descendants of, or dating any of the Guillermos was there at the Dennis Lim residence in Don Jose Subdivision in Quezon City. There were many people in the party, including the illegitimate wives and children, which just goes to show how democratic and how prolific the Guillermos are. Our Christmas party will not be complete without the gift-giving part. My niece, Marissa Mesa (sorry for the senior moment, but I forgot her married name) gave me a Big Daddy laptop computer, the red thing shown in the pictures above. The actual advertisement on the package says, Big Daddy Solar Powered Desk Top Calculator. Ay calculator pala, akala ko pa naman ay computer! But computer or not, it is still impressive. It comes in size A4, parang US bond paper sa haba at lapad, at ang kapal ay mga isa't kalahating sentimetro, kaya't manipis lang siya. Tamang tama sa malaking daliri tulad ko, at tamang tama rin sa malabo ang mata na tulad ko. Iba na talaga ang tumatanda. Bakit nga pala Tagalog-Ingles ang post ko ngayon? Pasensiya na, bahagi ng senior moments.

Merry Chrsitmas ulit!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Browsing with Smart 3G (Dec 25 08)


I was at McDonald's Banawe (near Orthopedic Hospital) last night, waiting for my wife to get off from work, and browsing the Net while waiting. This McDo branch did not have wifi, so I had to connect to the Net using wvdial (ppp) under Ubuntu. I used my Smart Gold Lite (PHP300.00 / month subscription, consumable) using my Nokia 6680 3G phone. Smart promises 384kbits / sec, but last night, I was getting 70-90 KBytes / sec, which is quite surprising, since I hardly get that kind of speed on my Smart Bro 384kbits / sec microwave link at home. Of course, I am not complaining of this good fortune, and am in fact extremely happy about it.

It must be the season. Merry Christmas, Smart Communications!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas! (Dec 24 08)

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth"

Merry Christmas, and may you have peace and God's blessing today and for the rest of the New Year. For yourself, for your loved ones, for your neighbors, and for the world. God's peace and blessings be on all of us!

Enjoy life, Linux, Leopard, Windows, and everything that's beautiful! Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

MSI Wind keymap for Mac OSX Leopard (Dec 23 08)

The keyboard of the MSI Wind does not have Mac labels, so the new Wind Leopard user will have to get familiar with the Wind-to-Mac keyboard mappings. The ALT key on the Wind keyboard actually corresponds to the COMMAND key on the Mac, and the Windows key on the Wind keyboard corresponds to the OPTION key on the Mac.

So the OPTION-COMMAND-ESCAPE key combination to do a force quit of applications is accomplished on the Wind by using the WINDOWS-ALT-ESCAPE key combination. Also the key combination SHIFT-COMMAND-3 to do a screen shot of the entire desktop is done by the key combination SHIFT-ALT-3. Similarly SHIFT-ALT-4 will do a screenshot of a user-selected portion of the desktop.

It should be simple enough to print two key labels "WINDOWS-OPTION" and "ALT-COMMAND" with gummed backing, and stick them onto the two keys, at least until we get used to the keyboard mapping.
  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Getting the MSI Wind Webcam to Work under Ubuntu (Dec 22 08)

My MSI Wind triple boots to Windows XP, Mac OSX Leopard, and Ubuntu Intrepid. Since I have been a Linux user (Linux user #5037) since 1993, it is obvious that Ubuntu is my favorite of the three operating systems. So it was quite disappointing when I could not get the proper drivers for Ubuntu for the built-in webcam. What good is Skype when you have no camera?

Fortunately, the MSI website in Taiwan makes available a version of the webcam driver for Suse Linux that works for an older version of the Linux kernel than the one on Ubuntu. Here is the download link:

http://download1.msi.com.tw/files/downloads/dvr_exe/camera_linux_u100_nb.zip

Uncompressing this zip file gives the following rpm package:

uvcvideo-kmp-smp-r171_2.6.16.46_0.12-3.1.i586.rpm

The linux kernel that I am running in Ubuntu is 2.6.27-9-generic, so we see a possible version incompatibility problem. But I proceeded (nevertheless) to install this driver for an older version of the kernel, hoping that it would work for the newer Ubuntu kernel.

First I needed to download "alien", a package for converting Suse/Redhat RPM packages to Ubuntu DEB packages. The following command takes care of the download:

sudo apt-get install alien

If this does not work, you might need to download rpm, rpmlib, libbeecrypt, etc, first, but apt-get is usually intelligent enough to pull in all the dependencies that alien needs.

Next, we use alien to convert from the Suse webcam rpm to a deb package that we can install in Ubuntu. This command takes care of the conversion:

sudo alien -k uvcvideo-kmp-smp-r171_2.6.16.46_0.12-3.1.i586.rpm

This command produces the deb package:

uvcvideo-kmp-smp_r171_2.6.16.46_0.12-3.1_i386.deb

Then all we need to do is install this package:

sudo dpkg -i uvcvideo-kmp-smp_r171_2.6.16.46_0.12-3.1_i386.deb

The lsmod command should show that uvcvideo has been loaded as a driver module:

uvcvideo 62728 0
compat_ioctl32 9344 1 uvcvideo
videodev 41344 1 uvcvideo
v4l1_compat 22404 2 uvcvideo,videodev
video 25104 0
output 11008 1 video

Next we need to download a web camera application. Checking the Net shows that the program "cheese", as in "Say cheese" is a very popular web camera program for Linux. So just go ahead and download it:

sudo apt-get install cheese

On my system, cheese was installed in Applications -> Graphics -> "Cheese Webcam Booth". Now click on that menu item for a proof that your camera works. The enclosed screen shot says it all. Never mind the good looking old man in the picture; just imagine the delicious BK Joe coffee.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Intrepid Leopard XP on My MSI Wind, Part 2 (Dec 20 08)

This is the second installment of my account to install Windows XP (SP3), Ubuntu 8.10, and Mac OS X 86 Leopard 10.5.4 on my brand new MSI Wind U100x, so that this UMPC triple boots to any of the three OSs.

In my earlier post, I mentioned that PC Corner created a 30GB primary partition and installed the default (legally licensed) Windows XP there.

When I got home, I prepared a USB installer for Ubuntu 8.10.  I already have an iso image of Ubuntu 8.10 upgraded with the latest packages, plus development packages of my choice,which include gcc, g++, perl, mysql, etc.  This iso image is available for download from

http://curry.ateneo.net/~ambo/yebuntu.html


On my desktop at home, I created the Ubuntu USB thumbdrive installer from the Yebuntu iso image, using the Unetbootin utility, available for download from:

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

I then booted the MSI Wind using this Ubuntu USB installer.  I created a 30GB primary partition that I reserved for Leopard, a 30GB primary partition for Ubuntu, and the rest of the 160GB I created into logical partitions for Linux swap (4GB swap for my 2GB real memory) and Linux /home.  The installation of Ubuntu proceeded without problems, and the default grub bootloader was installed in the boot sector of /dev/sda.  I then made some desktop reconfiguring to allow me to conveniently use the 1024x600 screen, as mentioned in my previous post.

Next comes the magical moment: the installation of Leopard on the MSI Wind.

First you must buy a license to use Leopard.  In the Philippines,you need to go to any of the Power Mac Centers to buy your license:

http://www.powermaccenter.com/contact.php

A single PC license will cost you a little over PHP7,000.00.  If you are a student or an educator, you can get an academic discount:

http://store.apple.com/ph-k12/product/MB576Z/A?fnode=MTY1NDAzOA&mco=MTYwMDcyMg

and the Leopard license will cost you only PHP6,690.00.  I wish, though, that Apple will sell the license to teachers at ten percent of a public school teacher's salary, or under PHP2,000.00, so that it becomes more affordable to teachers in the third world, like the Philippines. Software licenses should be priced like books, so that students and teachers have not only the freedom, but also the ability, to buy them.

So much for the advocacy.  Now for the hard work.

The original Leopard DVD will not install on the MSI Wind.  Use your favorite torrent program to download the file MSIWindosx86.iso, which is available from many torrent sites on the Net. The 3.5GB iso image took me around two days to download on my 384k SmartBro microwave link. Then you need to burn this file as a DVD image, using your DVD burner.

Now, the MSI Wind does not have a DVD drive, so you need to cable your external DVD drive to a USB port of the Wind. Place the MSIWindosx86 DVD in the DVD drive, and power up the Wind.  Press F11, and select the USB DVD drive as boot device. The Leopard installer will boot.  When you see the [Mac Installer] task bar appear, select [Utilities], and click on [Disk~Utility]. On the left frame, you will be shown the various partitions available for installing Leopard. In my case, the partitions are:

Partition1:  NTFS for WinXP
Partition2:  Linux (free)
Partition3:  Linux (containing Ubuntu)
etc

Now click on Partition2, and click on erase to format the partition.  In the drop-down menu, select the partition type [HFS extended, journaled].  Name the partition with some convenient name, like Leopard, and then click [erase]. Now exit the Disk Utility [click on the red button]. When you reach the final installation screen, click on [Customize], select [Patches], and uncheck the [Kernel] patches, since the kernel patches are for the AMD processor, and will not work with the Atom processor of the Wind. Exit the customize screen, and click on [Install]. The installation will take about 30 minutes or longer.  At the end of the installation, you will be asked to reboot the system. When the system reboots, uncable the DVD drive, and you will be booted into Ubuntu (my default choice, since I am using the grub bootloader).

While in Ubuntu, you need to fix the boot order. Go to /boot/grub, and edit the file menu.lst

cd /boot/grub
sudo gedit menu.lst

At the end of the file menu.lst add the following entries for Leopard:

title Mac OS X 86 Leopard (Darwin 10.5.4)
rootnoverify (hd0,1)
chainloader +1


In the entry "rootnoverify (hd0,1)", the device (hd0,1) stands for /dev/sda2, where Leopard is installed.  Next look for the line with the entry

hiddenmenu

Comment out this line by preceding it with a sharp sign, so that it now looks like:

#hiddenmenu

Now save the file menu.lst, and reboot the system.  When the system reboots, you will be given a grub menu from which you can select which of the three operating systems to boot:
Windows XP, Ubuntu, or Leopard.

If you select Leopard, you will get an initial welcoming screen where you can enter your user data. After this, your Leopard system is ready to use. You will discover that the wireless card and the web camera do not work.

Just recently, Realtek Taiwan made available the Leopard driver for the RTL8187SE wireless adapter on the MSI Wind,you can download the driver from RapidShare:

http://rapidshare.com/files/171809218/Realtek_RTL8187SE_MacOS10.5_Driver_073_UI_1.6.2.zip

Now you can truly enjoy your MSI Wind Mac Mini Leopard 10.5.4!




Please get your legitimate Mac license, from the URLs that I mentioned above. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Intrepid Leopard XP on My MSI Wind (Dec 17 08)



My wife told me that my Dell Inspiron 6000 was too heavy at over two kilos, for an old man like me to be toting around. So I got myself an MSI Wind U100x, which weighs just a little over one kilo. This Wind had the famous Atom N270 processor that runs at 1.6GHz, 2GB memory, 160GB SATA disk, six-cell battery providing about 3.5 hours at this configuration, and cost me about PHP21,500.00 at PC Corner on Gilmore Street in Quezon City.

I asked the store technician to install the default WinXP Home (SP3) on a 30GB partition. This is the Microsoft-licensed OEM version that ships with the Wind.

When I got home, I prepared an Ubuntu 8.10 installer on a 2GB USB thumbdrive, using my Yebuntu installer, a Ubuntu installer with development packages and manpages-dev and various developer documentation. Yebuntu can be downloaded from:

http://curry.ateneo.net/~ambo/yebuntu.html

Aside from the 30GB primary partition containing Windows, I created a 30GB primary partition for Mac OSX Leopard, a 30GB primary partition for Linux root, and the rest of the 160GB as extended partitions for Linux swap and Linux /home. Ubuntu 8.10 installed without problems, except that I had to get the Realtek 8187se WiFi driver from

http://boskastrona.ovh.org/

Ubuntu runs fine on the Wind. I had to remove the bottom panel and retained only the top panel (task bar), since the 1024x600 resolution is too little for two panels. But one top panel is fine. I added to the top panel a Window Selector, to select from active windows using a menu. If you add a Window List instead, you can select from active windows using buttons, but the top panel becomes too crowded with buttons that you can not read the button text anymore, making them useless for switching between windows.

Next I will describe how I installed Mac OS X 86 Leopard 10.5.4 on the MSI Wind. More on the next post.



Monday, December 08, 2008

Installing Microsoft truetype fonts in Ubuntu

A. Create the Microsoft truetype directory in Ubuntu:

sudo mkdir /usr/share/fonts/truetype/microsoft

B. Copy the ttf and TTF fonts from the Windows Fonts directory into the directory created in step 1. Here ${NTFSHOME} is the mountpoint in Ubuntu of your Windows filesystem (when using ntfs-3g). Otherwise, just copy all the ttf/TTF files from Windows onto USB thumbdrive and transfer to Ubuntu:

cd /usr/share/fonts/truetype/microsoft
sudo cp ${NTFSHOME}/WINDOWS/Fonts/{*ttf,*TTF} .

C. Make all the ttf/TTF files readable by everyone (when copied from USB it is probably rwx by root and no permissions for anyone else--this is bad):

sudo chmod 644 *ttf *TTF

D. Install the ttmkfdir package. Omit this step if you already have it:

sudo apt-get install ttmkfdir

E. Create the fonts.scale and fonts.dir files in the microsoft truetype directory:

cd /usr/share/fonts/truetype/microsoft
sudo ttmkfdir *ttf *TTF
sudo cp fonts.scale fonts.dir

F. Recreate the font-cache files for X font server

sudo fc-cache -f -v

G. Start OpenOffice writer and check if you can access the fonts "Times New Roman" and "Arial". If you can, then you are done. Congratulations!

oowriter

Monday, December 01, 2008

Oh Unix, Oh Linux! (Dec 02 08)











I have read three nonfiction novels about Unix/Linux, and I thoroughly enjoyed all three. For someone who reads only Tom Clancy, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, George Martin, Orson Scott Card, Terry Brooks, and similar fantasy authors, this is saying something heavy and important about these Unix/Linux stories.

First is the novel "Quarter Century of Unix" by Peter Salus. Here Salus talks about how the CSRG folks Kernighan, Ritchie, and friends at Bell Labs wrote the Unix operating system in the early 1970s. Next is the novel "Soul of a New Machine" by Tracy Kidder. This is a suspense thriller about how programmers at Data General (now nonexistent, like Digital Equipment Corporation) ported the Unix OS to their new 32bit minicomputer. The third one is the almost-autobiography "Just For Fun" in which Linus Torvalds talks to writer David Diamond about why and how he wrote the very popular Linux OS, a modern Unix-workalike, now sweeping the computer world like a storm.

I recommend these three novels to all computer science students, and even to normal folks. They are all very nice reads, and they give you an idea about all the excitement that surrounds the life of a programmer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Corruption in the Philippines (Nov 15 08)

While in bed at the hospital, or resting at home after my hospitalization, I had occasion to watch the entire proceedings of the Senate inquiry into the Agriculture Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante's "Fertilizer Scam" and Police Controller De La Paz's "Euro Contingency Fund". I have come to the conclusion that we are NOT the most corrupt country in the world. Corruption happens everywhere, even in the United States of America, and we are not any better or worse than the U.S.A in the matter of corrupt practices of government officials or their friends. What we are well-known for is the ability of our media (radio, TV, print) to expose in a grand scale corruption, no matter how big or small, and blow that issue out for the world to see and to label us as the most corrupt country in the world. The Senate, of course, is contributing to enhancing this popular image of the Philippines as the most corrupt country in the world, by its addiction to TV coverage of all the lurid details of its investigations in "aid of legislation", which also happens to provide free advertising for the presidential wanna-be's in 2010. In our desire for "transparency", which is a "good thing", we give the impression to the world that corruption is everywhere, when in reality, we are just successful in exposing corruption in many more cases here, than the rest of the world. But is that not a good thing?

Journey into Myself (Nov 15 08)

The past few weeks have been terrible for me. I was hospitalized in Medical City in October 22-26 for extreme allergies to antibiotics, to rule out Steven-Johnson syndrome. Then again I was hospitalized in St. Luke's in November 11-13 for vertigo, and to get cardiac and colonic check up. For several occasions this year, I had severe vertigo attacks, requiring me to assume a restricted positioning of the head when lying down or sitting up, for otherwise, the world literally spins, causing extreme dizziness and nausea, and preventing me from doing the normal work of a teacher. Carotid ultrasound revealed that circulation to my head was normal, and so the vertigo could not be due to bad circulation to the head. The vertigo must, therefore, be vestibular in origin, that part of the inner ear that contributes to sense of balance and spatial orientation. Dr. Allan Carpella prescribed Serc 24mg two times a day, an increase in dosage from the old magic of Serc 8mg three times a day. Furthermore, he prescribed head rotation exercises, which seem to be doing some good.

During this interlude at St. Luke's, Dr. Canlas did a colonoscopy, a detailed movie-camera exploration of my large intestines, to check if the irregular bowel movement of this 62-year old man is colonic in origin. To prepare, I was starved from 8:30 PM of the evening before the colonoscopy up to the actual colonoscopy itself, which happened at 12:30 PM of the following day. Which means 16 hours NPO -- no food or drink. I was given 4 tablets of Dulcolax, and two 250 ml bottles of liquid magnesium citrate -- and these constituted the enema to flush out the colonic contents. When I was a small boy, my mother accomplished this enema by using one bag-full of lukewarm soapy water to flush out colonic contents, which, by the way, is many times more effective than Dulcolax plus magnesium citrate. By 12:30 PM, I was so hungry and so weak, that all I wanted was for the procedure to be over. Dr. Canlas was assisted by anaesthesiologist Dra. Estrella. I requested Dra. Estrella if I could be kept awake so that I can watch the colonoscopy on the TV monitor, and she agreed to use only the smallest dose of anaesthetic. As Dr. Canlas performed the colonoscopy, I kept asking questions. Have we passed the transverse colon yet? Why is the pechay that I ate still intact and undigested? Is that mucus from my congested nose that I see in my colon? And Dr. Canlas was saying: I see a polyp, but it looks benign, but I'm going to take it out, nevetheless - for biopsy. And so on. Watching a journey into your own colon, complete with tour-guide explanations from the doctor, can be a very enlightening experience. How many people that you know have experienced such scientific adventure? I have.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Murphy's Law in My Life (2008 Nov 07)

Since my last post a month ago, a lot of things have happened to me. We had final exams for the first semester at Ateneo de Manila University, and I had to struggle through grading my students' exam papers. I accompanied the Ateneo programming team to the ACM-ICPC Asia-Jakarta regional programming contest, where we came out at rank 19 among 49 teams of collegiate programmers, our most dismal performance in a regional contest since year 2000. I got hospitalized in Medical City for four days in October 22-26, as soon as we arrived in Manila from Jakarta, for severe allergy to Flucloxacillin and Cefuroxime. I had diabetic foot infection, and Dr. Tongson of Capitol Medical Center prescribed Flucloxacillin when I told him that I did not have any allergy to antibiotics (which is the truth at that time in my life). Fluxcloxacillin is so new and as yet untried by me, and I did not know that I would have such severe reaction to it. When I showed Dr. Tongson allergic rashes on the upper surface of my hand, he immediately changed my antibiotic to Cefuroxime, another antibiotic that is so new and untried by me. The Cefuroxime only aggravated my allergy, and I did not know what to do except to write emails to Dr. Tongson, since we were already in Jakarta. I could not even buy the anti-allergy medicines that my wife was suggesting for two reasons: (1) I do not have a doctor's prescription since Dr. Tongson did not check his emails. (2) Even if I produce a fake doctor's prescription, I do not know how to get the prescription filled in Jakarta. I had to wait until we got back to Manila before my allergy could be treated. Since Medical City was the closest to where I live, in Antipolo ibaba, near Sta Lucia mall, my wife decided to bring me there for consultation. The emergency room doctor recommended confinement to rule out Steven-Johnson syndrome (sounds like Murphy's Out-of-Luck Syndrome). Dr. Kasala, endrocrinologist-diabetologist, and wife Dra. Kasala, allergologist (I did not even know that such specializations existed, foot-diabetologist?) eventually ruled out Steven-Johnson syndrome. I was given intramuscular injections of steriods until both left and right arms would not accept any more injections. I was given insulin to counter the increase in blood glucose that is a by product of steriod therapy. I was given isotonic intravenous drip where a host of other medicines were injected. My hospital confinement was the most unpleasurable four days of my entire life, and add to that the fact that the hospitalization cost me PHP37,000.00, after senior citizen discount. I had to pay this amount from my personal funds, since Ateneo took away my HMO card when I retired in 2006. Why is the Philippine HMO system and Ateneo so unfair that you are not entitled to HMO benefits when you need it most?


Why do Filipino doctors today prescribe the most expensive medicines, in a country (the Philippines) which sells the most expensive medicines in all of Asia? Do Filipino doctors and pharmaceutical companies have a conspiracy to kill patients by prescribing medicines that patients can not afford to buy? Dr. Tongson prescribed Flucloxacillin and Cefuroxime, probably the most expensive antibiotics in Manila. Dr. Kasala prescribed Actos 15mg, an antibiabetic pill that sells for about PHP188.00 each pill (the cost is so much it can kill you).

Now I believe in Murphy's Law, and it applies when you least expect it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yebuntu: Programmer's Ubuntu (Oct 08 08)

I wanted to create my own Ubuntu distribution, which will satisfy my requirements as a developer/programmer. It should have C, C++, Java, Perl, MySQL, Apache, etc. It should also have the manpages, manpages-dev, and java-docs. I would not mind if it did not have Eclipse or Netbeans, since I do not want a very big and heavy distribution. Ideally it should fit in one CD, but if it slightly bigger, it would be acceptable if it had all the above programmer's utilities. Now I came upon the Ubuntu program remastersys, which is ideal for creating such a distro, so I got remastersys, and tried it out. If you have your Windows partition mounted under Linux, you should first unmount it, so that it is not included in the remastering process. The result is my own flavor of Ubuntu, which I now call Yebuntu. Originally, I wanted to call it Devbuntu, or Debuntu, or Progbuntu, etc. Those names are already taken, but Yebuntu is free, so I decided to use that name instead. You can download a copy of the iso image of Yebuntu from the site:
http://curry.ateneo.net/~ambo/yebuntu.html

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

La Boheme (Oct 01 08)


I saw this invitation from TheBachelorGirl to come watch the run-through rehearsal of La Boheme at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater in the evening of October 1, 2008:

http://www.thebachelorgirl.com/2008/1035/an-invite-for-bloggers-to-compare-la-boheme-and-rent/

To help bloggers do the comparison, BachelorGirl gave this link to Karla Gutz' comparison of La Boheme and Rent:

http://karlagutz.multiply.com/journal/item/120

On Monday night, I saw a sneak preview on TV of La Boheme as it will be shown at the CCP, and I watched "Mimi" singing one of the most beautiful love songs that I have ever heard. The song (operatic aria) was in Italian, and my knowledge of Italian is zero, so I did not understand the lyrics, but the melody was a perfect reminder of an English love song that I heard when I was in grade school. I checked with Google and found that the love song was by Della Reese in the late 1950s and was entitled "Don't You Know":

http://www.lyricsdepot.com/della-reese/dont-you-know.html

Here are the lyrics:

Don't you know
I have fallen in love with you
For the rest of my whole life through

Don't you know
I was yours from the very day
That you happened to come my way

Can't you see
I'm under your spell
By the look in my eyes
Can't you tell, can't you tell

Now, don't you know
Every beat of my heart keeps crying out
I love you so
Don't you know

Don't you know
Every beat of my heart keeps crying out
I love you so
Don't you know

You can hear Della Resse's original rendition of "Don't You Know" on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKO5PleuvGA

To prepare to see the run-through rehearsal of "La Boheme", I decided to read up on the opera. Fortunately, a libretto in English, together with musical score is available from the University of Indiana:

http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/bhq3853/large/index.html

Unfortunately, this version is available only for online viewing, and can not be downloaded. But, since "La Boheme" is quite old and should be in the public domain, Gutenberg Project has made the English libretto available for download:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13843

Isn't the Internet wonderful? You not only get the new stuff, but the classics as well.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Confucius Day (Sep 28 08)

Today, September 28, 2008, Asians celebrate Confucius' birthday. Confucius is the English name of the Chinese philosopher Kong Tzi. Many Chinese schools in the Philippines also celebrate today as Teachers' Day, because Kong Tzi was a teacher, the most famous one.

To Kong Tzi, where ever you are, happy birthday! To all teachers, happy teachers' day. May our tribe increase!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pinoy English (Sep 25 08)


My daughter Karen saw this on TV.

After a game of 9-ball pool in which Filipino champion Joven Bustamante (or is it Dennis Orcullo?) won the game against a Chinese Taipei player, Georgina Chang was interviewing the Filipino winner of the game.

Georgina: What do you think is your edge against your opponent?

Joven: I heard that he is 35 years old. I am only 29.

Of course, most of our 9-ball pool players are world class: Joven, Dennis, Alex, etc. With them winning the important tournaments, who cares if their English is not world class.

Mabuhay ang Pinoy pool players! Sana ay kumita kayo ng limpak-limpak tulad ni Manny Pacquiao, at ng makatulong kayo sa kapwa niyo Pinoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Didith: I'm Not the Only One (Sep 23 08)


In the Wikiquote page for Linus Torvalds:

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Linus_Torvalds

he is quoted as saying:

Software is like sex; it's better when it's free.
[Attributed to Torvalds at 1996 FSF conference]

So, Didith, if the God of Linux can talk like this, does this give me a license to talk the same way?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's Wrong with Fedora Revisor (Sep 15 08)

Revisor is the Fedora package that allows you to create your own installer CDs/DVDs/USBsticks that include the latest versions of packages available at the time of creation of the installers. The original Fedora-9 installer DVD:

http://ftp.cse.yzu.edu.tw/pub/Linux/Fedora/releases/9/Fedora/i386/iso/Fedora-9-i386-DVD.iso

was made available for download on May 8, 2008, and included the latest Fedora packages as of May 8, which includes Linux kernel version 2.6.25-14. If you used Revisor today, you could create an updated Fedora installer DVD with all the latest versions of packages as of today, and will include Linux kernel version 2.6.26.3-29 which is the latest version of the kernel available from a mirror site:

http://www.gtlib.gatech.edu/pub/fedora.redhat/linux/updates/9/i386.newkey/kernel-2.6.26.3-29.fc9.i686.rpm

When I was using Fedora-8, Revisor worked perfectly, and I could generate updated installers for Fedora-8 regularly, on a monthly basis if I wanted to. Now that I am using Fedora-9, I could not get Revisor to work anymore. First, there was this inability of Revisor (or yum) to macro-replace the variables $releasever and $basearch in the *.repo and *.conf files in /etc/yum.repos.d and in /etc/revisor/conf.d. So I manually did the macro-replacements, making sure that every occurrence of $releasever was replaced with "9", and every occurrence of $basearch is replaced by "i386" or "x86_64", depending on which system I am running Revisor on. So Revisor was successfully able to download the all the packages or their latest updates. I reached up to the point when Revisor is now creating the iso images of the installers, and at this point the programs mkisofs and implantisomd5 both exit with errors, and the installer CD/DVD is not created. I googled these Revisor errors, and the various Revisor fora do not mention these problems at all.

If you are working with Revisor for Fedora-9, I would appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction, and help me solve my problem. Thanks.

Empty Nest (Almost) (Sep 15 08)

I have three children.
1. Abigail, BS. Physics 1995 Ateneo, B.S. Computer Engineering 1996 Ateneo,
2. Paul, B.S. Physics 1996 Ateneo, B.S. Computer Engineering 1997 Ateneo,
3. Karen, B.S. Molecular Biology & Biotech, Summa cum Laude, 2006, UP, Palanca 1st Prize 2005 Futuristic Fiction

Paul got married to Mia in 2006. He now lives with her in another house, but visits from time to time on weekends.

Karen is waiting for a research assistant position from an American university, and in the meantime, has accepted a research assistant position at the University of the Philippines National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. She still lives with us, writes fiction and poetry on her tiny MSI Wind notebook, and experiments on vegetarian/healthy cooking.

Gail went to Reims, France on September 7, 2008, and will be away for two years on a Mundusfor grant to do a masters degree in education. Last Sunday was the first weekend that she was not at home. The house felt empty with only Karen, my wife, and me.

When Karen leaves for graduate studies, the house will be truly an empty nest.

But our house is not really empty. We have ten dogs, a few cats, and many wild birds eating the ripe guavas in my garden!

Life is good. All we have to do is live it!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

How to Create Your Own Website (Sep 7 08)

First you should read the following document on how to create your own website:

http://www.thesitewizard.com/gettingstarted/startwebsite.shtml

Even if you do not create your own website, but you hire a professional web designer, you should read this document, since it gives you an idea of the activities involved in creating a web site.

You might want your website to be interactive (allowing inputs from your viewers) and dynamic (allowing the page contents to change depending on who the viewer is). For interactive, dynamic content, you need Javascript, PHP, and Perl, and this document tells you what they are:

http://www.thesitewizard.com/html-tutorial/what-is-html.shtml

Where do you put your website? You have two options.

(1) Buy your own high-end Intel PC with lots of disk space, install Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP-Perl (Fedora-9 Linux with web-server and development support will be sufficient for this) and connect this PC to the Internet using a PLDT myDSL connection or Globe DSL. PLDT or Globe has to give you a live IP address so that your PC can be reached from the outside world, and such an account can be very expensive.

(2) Rent web space from a web hosting company. The monthly rent varies, depending on how much disk space the web hosting company gives you, the number of domain names you carry, monthly data transfer volume, how many webmail accounts you want, web-design and programming tools available, and website control tools.

The following document compares the top 15 web hosting companies in the Philippines. You should check them all and find out which one suits your budget and gives you the design and programming power that you need.

http://www.webhosting.info/webhosts/tophosts/Country/PH

At the Philippine Linux Users' Group (PLUG), where I am a member, we have an active discussion on the best "value-for-money" web hosting services available for Filipinos. These web hosting services do not have to be situated in the Philippines, since most Philippine internet service providers (ISPs) are one-hop away from the US, so US web hosting services are just as good for Filipinos. Furthermore, local ISPs are not even connected directly to each other, and so in a way, a local web hosting service may not be the best location for your website. The following are popular web hosting companies for members of PLUG.

1. web.com.ph
2. www.bizhost.ph
3. www.itdev.ca

They are listed in order from cheapest to most expensive. The more expensive web hosting services usually offer more space, bandwidth, tools, etc.

I hope that you find these links useful when you build your website.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack Obama's Democratic National Convention Acceptance Speech (Aug 29 08)

Day 4 of the Democratic National Convention, August 28, 2008, 6:00 pm in the United States and August 29 in the Philippines, and Barack Obama delivers his speech accepting his nomination as presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. This is a great historic moment for America, the first time a black candidate will run for the highest office of the land. This is a chance for America to prove that it is a true democracy; that it can uphold in principle and in practice that all men are created equal, regardless of race, or sex, or religion. Here is MSNBC's video of Barack Obama's speech: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/26447607#26447607



A report on this speech is given in FoxNews, but it is better to see the entire video of his speech. I am not American, and I can not tell the Americans how to vote in this election. But if the Americans do not vote for Barack Obama, then I believe that America will have lost another opportunity for greateness.

Installers for Debian Lenny (Debian Testing) (Aug 29 08)

The current release of the Debian distribution of Linux is version 4.0r4 and is codenamed "Debian Etch". This was released on July 26, 2008, and comes with kernel version 2.6.18. If you want a kernel and packages that are very well tested and works reliably, this is the Debian version to use.

If you are one of the Debian developers, you have to use the unstable release of Debian called Debian SID (still in development). This is the version in which packages are initially tested and if any of the packages breaks, the developers normally know what to do to fix the bugs.

Somewhere between the stable "Etch" and the unstable "SID" is the almost-stable "Lenny". Packages that have been tested in SID (don't break easily) are submitted to Lenny for further testing. After a package is tested in Lenny and found to be stable, it is promoted to Etch.

One nice feature of Lenny is that packages are almost bleeding-edge, and yet reasonably stable. For example, it uses kernel version 2.6.25, iceape (firefox) 3.0.1, and openoffice 2.4.1. That is why I love to use Lenny.

There are three different "versions" of the Lenny installers that you can use. These are (from most stable installer to least stable installer) Lenny Beta2, Lenny Weekly-Build, and Lenny Daily-Build. I recommend the use of Lenny Beta2 and Lenny Weekly-Build, but not the Lenny Daily-Build installer. On more than one occasion, I get install errors, and the installation could not proceed when using Lenny Daily-Build, and the behavior of the resulting partial installation on the hard disk is unpredictable.

Also, for Lenny Beta2 and Lenny Weekly-Build, you have the option of installing a 150MB netinstall iso image, or one or more 650MB CDs, or one or more 4.4GB DVDs. If you use the 150MB netinstall iso image, only the core os components are installed, and the rest of the installation is done by downloading from the Debian mirrors during the installation. If you have a 384KB SmartBro connection like the one I have at home, netinstall will require 12 to 18 hours to complete downloading, depending on the Debian mirror used, and on the packages that you selected to install. I like using the first CD or the first DVD to install Debian Lenny, so that only a few hundred more packages need be downloaded from the Debian mirrors during the actual installation.

You know that you are installing Debian Lenny, if you get the following initial installation screen:
The actual installers themselves can be downloaded from www.debian.org. If you are having problems locating the installation images, you can use the following links. The Gnome, KDE, and Xfce CD installers for Lenny Beta2 are available from the following links:

http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/lenny_di_beta2/i386/iso-cd/debian-LennyBeta2-i386-CD-1.iso
http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/lenny_di_beta2/i386/iso-cd/debian-LennyBeta2-i386-kde-CD-1.iso
http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/lenny_di_beta2/i386/iso-cd/debian-LennyBeta2-i386-xfce-CD-1.iso

The Gnome, KDE, and Xfce CD installers for Lenny Weekly-Build are available from the following links:

http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/weekly-builds/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-CD-1.iso
http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/weekly-builds/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-kde-CD-1.iso
http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/weekly-builds/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-xfce-CD-1.iso

The 150MB-180MB Gnome netinstaller for Lenny Daily build, if you are bold enough to face possible installation breakage, is available from the follwoing link:

http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/daily-builds/daily/arch-latest/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso

Whatever installation method that you use, you would not regret installing the greatest and the best Linux distribution: Debian Lenny.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vege-Sandwich at Starbucks (Aug 22 08)

On most Fridays, I have a breakfast of coffee and sandwich at Starbucks. Since I'm vegetarian (lacto-ovo vegetarian: milk products, eggs, vegetables) I have problems selecting a proper sandwich from the Starbucks menu. Recently, however, they started offering a sandwich of tomatoes, cheese, and basil on multi-grain bagel. This is high-protein food, with the protein coming from the bagel and the cheese. This would have been a non-cholesterol breakfast, if not for the cheese. The sandwich is really good, that is, if you are vegetarian like me.

Bon app├ętit!

Xubuntu Workbench: Wow!!!

During Ubuntu Loveday last Saturday, August 23, 2008, one of the presenters talked about Ubuntu derivatives. One derivative that he mentioned is Xubuntu Developers Workbench. I googled and found its download site in:

http://my-codebits.site88.net/workbench/index.html

The installer is a 1.6GB DVD iso image, and since my DVD drive is not working anymore, I decided to use Unetbootin to prepare a USB stick installer from the Workbench DVD iso file. Unetbootin is available from:

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

Using the USB stick installer, I installed Workbench on our old Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop, on which I have 2GB ram. I believe that 2GB ram is just the right amount for program development. After installation, I got the beautiful desktop shown.

Some things worth noting: the base operating system is Xubuntu, so that you get a lightweight desktop environment. Workbench then adds in loads of developer utilities including Anjuta, Bluefish, Eclipse, Gambas, Geany, Glade, Lazarus, Monodevelop, Netbeans, SVNWorkbench, Umbrello, and wxGlade. Also added in are lots of different editors like Gedit, Cssed, gPHPed, HexEditor, ManEdit, Poedit, etc. You will find the desktop excellent and wonderful since you get a MacOS-Leopard-like dock, and your choice of screenlets like CPU meter, Clock, NewsFeed, Weather, etc.

After installation, I checked if all the tools that I needed are already there. I found that I had to install the following myself: manpages-dev, g++, gmp3, and mysql-server and apache which I need for LAMP-development (LAMP stands for Linux-Apache-MySQL-Perl for me, but Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP for others).

YouTube worked right away, which means that Firefox-3 has pre-installed flash. I'm still trying to get Totem to play DVDs, but I'm not sure if the problem is the lack of proper codec or my hardware problem with the built-in Sony DVD/RW.

I strongly recommend Workbench for students of computer science who have to do a lot of programming in various languages, and for professional developers.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Karen Celebrates 23rd Birthday

My daughter Karen turned 23 yesterday, August 10, 2008. We had dinner at "Fish Out of Water" in Glorietta 5. We were a small group: Karen and friend Jerik, Paul and wife Mia, oldest daughter Abigail, wife Dulce, and myself. Since my wife and I are both vegetarians, we had very few choices, but the choices we made were quite delicious: squash soup, saluyot-lettuce salad, eggplant parmigiana on spaghetti with pine nuts. The children had semi-hot prawns, pork barbecue, fried tilapia sliced butterfly style, and ostrich on shiitake-mushroom-rice. The bill was reasonable, the place has ambiance, and the service is excellent.

After dinner we had crepes and coffee in Glorietta 3. If you are not diabetic, you'll love crepes for dessert: peach-chococate-icecream, apple-icecream, and mango-cream. All sinfully sweet!

Happy birthday Karen.