Thursday, May 31, 2007

8 random facts

Got tagged by Pieter. I've gotten this meme before but then, it was just 6 random facts. Anyway, I'll just add to my original 6. Here goes:

1. Popcorn and movies are my destressors.
2. I like apple juice and the scent of apples but I don't like the fruit itself.
3. I drive an automatic.
4. I love watching cooking shows but I don't cook.
5. I've never been to Baguio or Boracay.
6. I'm a morning person.
7. I have a pet Black Labrador named Lucky.
8. I'm a look-a-like of the vice mayor of our municipality.

Now, I'll tag these people so we can all learn a little something about them too :)


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

iStockPhoto. iEarn.

Well I haven't actually earned, but my friend Jamie has. She's got graphics designing talents and I don't, that's why. But I believe I can snap up a pretty decent photo so I'm going to try that route. In the meantime, I can also benefit from the millions of pretty pictures and graphic designs which I can choose from and download, in case I would be needing images for the site I am building. So if you think you'll be needing images that are royalty-free, for your website, your printed materials, ad placements, magazine publication, company collaterals, etc., or if you're a photographer or a graphics designer who would like to earn by submitting your photos and designs, just click on the iStockphoto banner at the top of the page and sign-up as a new iStockphoto member. Remember View the Most Popular Uploads and Sign-up

A walk in the mall

I'm not one to read reviews of any kind and I'm not one to give any either. However, I just had to say something about Ayala's latest mall, Trinoma, which I've visited a couple of times already with my boyfriend. The first time we went there was the weekend after its opening on May 16. We didn't even plan to go there yet but I had to buy something from SM City North EDSA, which is just across Trinoma. So we parked at SM, and after buying what I needed, we decided to cross the street and take a peek inside Trinoma.

The first thing I noticed was that there wasn't any signage indicating that the building was indeed Trinoma. There were small streamers along the open parking lot, and of course we knew it was Trinoma, but it would have been better if the Trinoma name and logo was situated where everyone can see it. I heard that there was a signage at the building's entrance facing Mindanao Ave., but the bulk of the people will be coming from EDSA so there should be a signage there as well. Also, it didn't help that there are still some construction going on at the EDSA side but I'm thinking the mall's facade will look nicer once the construction and the painting's done.

Once inside the mall, my bf commented on the floor. I looked down and I saw that the tiles were small, (around 4" x 4"). Well, probably each tile was 1' x 1' and the 4" x 4" smaller tiles are just the design. But still, what's visible are the small tiles and that makes the whole ground floor look like a bathroom's floor. The 2nd to 4th floor tiles had varying designs, depending on the shopping area so they probably had a reason why they chose the small tiles as the design for the ground floor (probably more suitable for the heavy foot traffic).

The layout of the mall was very much like Glorietta; there's an activity center in the middle (the first time we went there, MYMP was having a concert sponsored by Skechers, and the second time, Strawberry Shortcake mascots were entertaining the kids and kids at heart. Hehe) and the boutique shops and fastfood restaurants are situated around it. As expected, most of the shops aren't open yet so we headed to the "Greenbelt area" of the mall where there are a lot of food establishments already open. I call this the "Greenbelt area" because this is where the garden and mini-ponds are located, like how it is at Greenbelt. We stayed at Giligan's Island Restaurant & Bar and ate barbeques, oysters and rice for meryenda! It was a good thing that we decided to roam around a bit before going back to SM or else we wouldn't have found out that there's a Dairy Queen outlet at the 2nd flr. I got a waffle cone with fudge and brownies toppings and my bf got a cherry cheesecake blizzard. Yummy! :)

Our second visit was more productive in a sense that we actually bought something in Trinoma aside from food (we bought a wireless router and USB flash drive from CompLink, located at the 3rf flr I think). Hehe. We still parked at SM because we heard that the parking is difficult at Trinoma so we crossed the street again, which was a hassle because it was starting to drizzle (they really should build a pedestrian overpass connecting SM and Trinoma because people will most definitely move back and forth). We roamed around and saw that more shops are open. We couldn't resist going back to the garden area and that's where we made another good tambayan find - Cafe Breton! We ordered coffee and tea and our favorite dessert, Butter & Sugar, and then we sat outside and people-watched. There were a lot of people strolling and taking pictures in the garden and I realized that we Filipinos really have a mall culture. We spend our weekends, not at home, or at the public park, but at the malls. We can shop, dine, attend mass, watch a movie, see a doctor, and stroll at a park inside a mall! Blame it on the tropical weather; it's easier to relax when you're in an airconditioned mall than when you're stuck at home fanning away (ok, we do have electric fans and a/c units. but turning on the a/c unit can jack up your electricity bill big time!) while looking for something interesting to watch on the television.

Overall, Trinoma is a great mall. Even if it is located in front of another mall, I think that people will still visit just because it has shops different from those that can be found in SM. Plus the fact that is it connected directly to the MRT station makes it all the more accessible to daily commuters. However, the real clincher is that Filipinos just love malls. We can't get enough of them so for us, there's no such thing as too many malls. Just build it and we will come :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chugging along the Alexa redirect train

This meme came from Pieter. I'm not yet quite sure how Alexa works but here goes (you're welcome to click any of the links here too)!

~Start Copying Here~
Alexa Redirect Train by Carl Ocab


1. Put anything you like above this list – Chit Chat, talkies, introduce what this is. Something like that ;-)

2. Start copying on the “~Start Copying Here~” and copy all the things listed without removing the links (Of course, the train would be no use without those links)

3. Move all the sites labeled “Newbies” to the list labeled “Oldies”

4. Add 5 sites that you want to include in the train and make their link like this: then invite them to join the train.

5. Visit all the listed sites! (That’s not much work! Remember, if you plant good seeds they will also grow good) and look at your high Alexa ranking next week!



~End Copying Here~

Friday, May 25, 2007

I play on KONG

Did I ever mention that I like playing games? Oh yeah, I did (see About Me description)! I'm what you can call a casual gamer and yes, I do have a collection of PopCap games. Just this morning though, I tried Kongregate and I was instantly hooked! Aside from the non-stop online playing and huge collection of flash games, there's also a point system and a chance to collect virtual cards. What's also interesting is that the games are developed by the members themselves so you can interact with the game developers, make feature requests and give feedback and ratings.

Did I also mention that I'm a programmer? Hehe. Unfortunately, I haven't tried programming using Flash, much more game programming. But I do want to rise from the ranks of being a casual gamer to being a developer of casual games that's why I'm doing some self-study from available tutorials online. Someday, I'd like to be able to upload my own game and have others play it. Also Kongregate's advertising revenue sharing wouldn't hurt ;-)

So if you also wanna play or if you're a flash game developer who would like to earn, sign up at Kongregate! Kongregate logo

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We want to get out of the rat race!

If you take a peek at our cubicles here in the office, you won't see a single technical or programming book. Instead, you'll find newspapers, magazines and books about business and finance. It's funny because we are all programmers yet we're more interested in reading about personal finance management and how-to's in starting and running a business. I guess this is because most of us have been in IT too long; or if not too long, burned out too early. We want to try something else, but we can't afford to let go of our current earnings just for the sake of a radical career shift. And so we see business and finance management as our ticket to the other real world out there.

I subscribe to MoneySense and my colleague regularly buys Entrepreneur Philippines. I also have Pwede Na! The Complete Pinoy Guide to Personal Finance and another colleague has Wealth Within Your Reach: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo! These books and magazines are in constant borrowing-lending rotation and we're delighted when we are able to convert an officemate into a believer. Our latest "victim" is our junior programmer who just graduated this April and is enjoying and celebrating her new-found purchasing power with clothes/shoes shopping at Greenhills and even on the Internet! Mind you, we didn't force her to read on personal finance management, she just realized on her own that she needs to get a hold of her expenses, before it gets too late and she becomes one of us (did anyone say disgruntled? hehe). This is good because no amount of preaching can force anyone to change one's ways. It has to come from within and that's exactly what she experienced - the realization that she needs to change and the desire to be helped.

Now, if only I can charge a rental rate for those resource materials I lend out ;-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My mother is an activist

As I've said in my pre-elections post, I'll just vote the senators whom my mother told me to vote. And that's what I did. Back then, I didn't know why she wanted to vote for just those two for senator. Now, I've come across this Inquirer article now I know why.

What does the Honasan-Trillanes vote mean?

Here are some excerpts:

But if the senatorial elections were a referendum on Ms Arroyo, what was the implied referendum question? Was it “Do you approve of the government of President Arroyo?” (I shudder when I recall the Ferdinand Marcos-era referendum question: “Would you like President Marcos to continue the reforms needed to build a New Society?” - and a supine nation resoundingly voted, “Yes, please!”)

If it was, the impending victory of 10 non-administration candidates should tell us that the answer is, “No, we reject Gloria Arroyo.” But the expected triumph of Gringo - the poll group Social Weather Stations placed him in the magic 12, ranking him 7th overall, as against his current rank of 8th in the partial results - and the probable upset victory of Trillanes answer an entirely different question altogether. It pertains not to whether we reject Ms. Arroyo. It pertains rather to the “how” of rejection.

The Honasan-Trillanes vote shows a voter prepared to get rid of President Arroyo whatever it takes. It helps that the two are Philippine Military Academy graduates, untainted by graft and corruption, and who embodied to the lay public certain ideals for which they have made personal sacrifices. At least 1.3 million voters so far have cast their lot with two former coup plotters and, irony of ironies, would now reward them a fully constitutional way of expressing their rage.

Yet that doesn’t explain the Honasan-Trillanes vote completely. This attitude is but a symptom of a deeper malaise that has “numbed the Filipino” to the dangers of taking legal shortcuts. The Arroyo government has so strained the fabric of the rule of law, and pushed legal technicalities to breaking point, that it has undercut the legitimating power of the Constitution.

If MalacaƱang can repeatedly flout the law, why should it matter if we all flouted the law ourselves, but for good causes rather than bad? Why should Gloria have a monopoly on short-circuiting the Constitution, while the rest of us scrupulously but helplessly chant the Bill of Rights? Two can play the game, plus Honasan and Trillanes’ 1.3 million and counting.

I am not a great fan of PGMA either. Although, I appreciate her 8 by '08 program, which is her administration's national agenda focusing on eight priority investments (job creation; a better cost of living; a strong peso; more investments; pro-poor education; pro-poor healthcare, housing, food; green Philippines and Anti-terrorism), I feel that she is so consumed by greed for power, and that doesn't sit too well with me. I see her and I remember the saying, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Not a good thing to associate your nation's president with, I tell you.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I am so loving my communities at MyBlogLog! I'm quite picky with the communities I join because I don't want to clutter my Communities page with blogs that I won't be visiting regularly anyway. However, I can't keep the number of my communities from growing because there really are a lot of interesting blogs out there. I usually just visit my communities and those who have visited my site; but the next thing I know, I've hopped from one blog to the next, and the next, and the next! And if I really like the blog's content, or if I think I may find the need to contact the author in the future, or if I'm simply amazed by the blogger, I just go ahead and add them to my Contacts list. This list is even shorter than my communities so I'd like to give them special mention:

I'm sure there will be additions to this list in the future. I'm even thinking of adding a link list at my side menu but I think this will do for now :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Out with the Old, In with the New

When my father was alive, he bought an old, beaten 6-cylinder 1966 Ford Mustang coupe with plans of restoring it. He and my brother set to work and had it appear as good as new. Too bad he didn't live long enough to be able to drive it around. There was still a problem with the alternator when he passed away. My brother worked doubly hard to get it fixed and I even pitched in some money for the repairs, just so that we can complete what my father started. And now, we're selling it. That's it, the blue car on the top picture.

The reason why we're selling it is because my brother saw a V8 1970 Ford Mustang coupe (which was upgraded to a Mach1 by the previous owner) on the Internet, being sold by an American (or British, I'm not sure) who was leaving for the States to have an operation. His initial intention was to buy and sell it. So he borrowed money from my mother and together with an uncle, they went to Subic where the owner and the car was. The owner already prepared the necessary papers so that if my brother decides to buy it, they can already bring home the car. My brother inspected it to be good, and even found out that the registration is current. He paid the owner, signed the papers, and was able to drive the yellow car from Subic to Manila without any problems. Seeing that it's in very good running condition, plus the fact that it has a more powerful engine than our blue one, he decides that he's not going to sell the yellow car; instead he would be restoring it. And the money that he is going to use for the restoration and for paying my mother is the money he will receive by selling th blue car. He even justifies it by saying that my dad would have done the same thing, because he really wanted a V8 but just couldn't find any so he just bought the 6-cylinder (it was not color blue then, more of rusty-orange). And I do agree with that. Plus, after my brother restores the V8 and he decides to sell it, it would fetch a far greater price than the 6-cylinder ever could. But that's just the practical side of me convincing myself that it's ok to sell the blue Mustang. The other part of me doesn't want to let it go. My father bought and restored that car, and I remember he even intended to give it to me because he doesn't want me to drive a Japanese car that could easily crumple (with me in it) in case of collision. Sad to say, my father died, I'm driving a Mitsubishi, and we're selling our blue Mustang (I even have a name for it already, Lalaine).

If I just have the money, I would pay my mother what my brother owes, pay for the yellow car's restoration, and keep Lalaine for myself. Then everybody would be happy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Here's a good news ... I think

DTI to issue regulations protecting online buyers

Since they are still drafting the implementing rules and regulations, there's a long way to go. But it's a step.

Monday, May 14, 2007

We've been duped!

Below is a sad story of my brother's experience with online trading. Pardon my French for the any cuss words you may find within my narration. Apologies also to anyone who might get offended, as long as you are not guilty or party to any offenses stated herein.

My brother does a lot of buy-and-sell over the internet and he's been pretty successful in snatching up good deals and and selling the items for some profit. The last time however, he got burned pretty bad when he ventured into cellphone trading and decided to choose a Chinese supplier to transact with. Before contacting the supplier, my brother did his usual investigation by checking the websites and viewing the customer feedbacks and rating. Comforted by the positive feedback and high rating, my brother emailed the supplier at this site to inquire about available phone models and price list. A certain Jeff Li of Fuzhou Wolong replied to my brother with the following:

Dear sir.
Thanks for your esteemed enquiry.As the first-hand supplier,we own the abundant various styles in stock and can offer you the best competitive price.

[Price list of Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Nokia models inserted here]

You are welcome to visit our official website: .Any interest or question plz don't hesitate to write me,we shall do our best to serve you.

As a golden supplier of ( the business with us,means that you can get more high quality goods, secure and honest business and also the fast delivery time.

Anything plz feel free to contact us.

Thanks and best regards.

Fuzhou Wolong
Tel: 011-86-591-22650360

After a few more email exchanges to verify the phone specs and negotiate the prices, my brother decided to get 6 units of Nokia N95 (6 units was the minimum placement order). He asked how he can send the payment and this was Jeff's reply:

Dear sir .
Thanks for your reply.The spec of N95 as below:
Item Specifics - Mobile Phones
Brand: Nokia Type: Smartphone
Model: N95 Condition: New
Network Standard: UMTS Simlock: Unlocked
Camera: 5 Megapixels Bundled Items: Adapter, Cable, Battery, Hands-free Kit,
Headset, Software, Wall Charger
Features: Bluetooth, Color Screen, Email / Web, GPRS, GPS, IRDA, Infrared, Java
enabled, MMS enabled, MP3 Player, Streaming video, USB, Vibration
The delivery time is about 4-6working days to Philippines.It's ofcos can be available in Philippines.
[Agreed price of the 6 units of Nokia N95, plus shipping, plus insurance inserted here]
The payment info as below,you can choose one of the ways to pay it .
Western Union info (It's the prior payment way,the fastest)as follows:
First name: Juan Xiu
Last name: Chen
City: Fuzhou
Province: Fujian
Country: China
When paid,plz write me the MTCN # ,the total amount.And also the sender name of payment !
Moneygram info :
First name: Juan Xiu
Last name: Chen
City: Fuzhou
Province: Fujian
Country: China
When paid,plz write me the Reference Number,the total amount .And also the sender name of payment !
Band transfer info:(It need 3-5working days to withdraw the funds.)
Beneficiary: Chen JuanXiu
A/C No. 6013821600601934798(USD Account)
All order will have a tracking number available and will have delivery confirmation to insure arrival.When paid,plz inform us,we shall do the shipment in the day when get your funds.
Thanks and best regards.

Jeff Li.
Fuzhou Wolong.
Tel: 011-86-591-22650360

Because his money is short, my brother even had to borrow some money from my mother just so that he can pay for the goods already. After sending the payment, he emailed the payment details to Jeff, then Jeff emailed the tracking number and shipment details of the goods and then we waited.

After 5 days, we received a letter from the courier saying that we have to pickup our package at their office because it was put on-hold by the Customs office. It turned out that packages containing electronic items are considered "hot items" by the Customs office, especially if the origin of the package is also within the Asian region. So my brother, together with my mother, went to the airport where the courier's office and the Customs office are also located. Lo and behold, when the package was opened for inspection and tax computation, two of the boxes didn't have the N95 phones in it. My brother and my mother argued with the courier that the package should contain six units instead of four. Then the customs officer showed that the weight of the package matched with the declared weight before it was shipped. Baffled and angry, my brother couldn't do anything but to pay the computed tax and left together with my mother.

Our troubles didn't end there though. When they got home and my brother inspected the phones, he found out that they were not genuine Nokia N95 phones! Only the front looks like N95 but the back doesn't. Even the features did not meet the phone specs. What we got were Nokia N95 clones, very similar to this. My brother immediately emailed the supplier and related missing 2 units and the 4 FAKE N95 units which he got. It took a couple of days before Jeff responded. He said that he will get in touch with his courier, but failed to mention anything about the fact that he sent fake N95s. A couple more days later, he replied with the following:

Dear sir.
The weight of the package can speak the fact.We really shipped you the 6 pcs .
The china EMS replied it's stolen by your local mail carrier.
For the insurance,it's the Customs insurance.If the goods detained by Customs,the express company shall resend the goods.Hope you can understand.
Also,if the goods are missed in china,then the express comany also can resend it .Whether you pay the insurance or not.
You can call your local postal company to investigate it .
Best regards.
Jeff Li.

Just a curt response, putting the blame on our Customs office and then that was it. Again, no reply as to the items he sold being fake phones. Until now, my brother is still trying to contact him, but without any success.

Due to that very unfortunate incident, I searched the net and found out that we were not the first ones who have been victimized by Chinese suppliers selling fake phones and gadgets. There's even a term for it, "Keeping it real fake phone/iPod/etc." The modus operandi is also very typical; they'll sell you the items as if they were the genuine articles, they'll take your money, send you the fake goods (or should I say bads), and then walk away. My brother paid that son-of-a-bitch Jeff Li of damned Fuzhou Wolong Networking Co.,Ltd a big sum of money for those 6 Nokia N95 phone units, thinking that he was buying the real deal, only to receive clones. To add insult to injury, that motherfucker Chinese supplier didn't even honor the insurance (to cover any damage, mishandling or loss of the items before it reaches our doorstep) my brother paid on top of the shipping cost.

What puzzles me is that the supplier has a high rating. Maybe he rigged it, or maybe his previous buyers were really satisfied with their transactions with him because they really wanted to buy fake items. Well sorry if we didn't know that buying fake/imitation/clone of branded products, especially mobile phones, iPods and other electronic items, is perfectly normal in China. In our country, NOBODY BUYS FAKE NOKIA N95 PHONES, so we find that practice just a little odd. If we can't afford the really expensive phone models, we will just buy the lower-end ones. You go and enjoy your (FAKE) status symbol; don't mind us, we're happy with our (GENUINE) basic phones, thank you very much.

In a few more years, China will become a global economic power. The US cannot stop that from happening. The world cannot stop that from happening. But what the companies and corporations who value their brands (and I'm sure they all do) can do, is to run after those unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers who imitate their products. China has a whole industry for imitation products (probably because they have a market for these imitation products) so if they don't act now, the world will be flooded with fakes, imitations and clones. Sooner than later, they won't be able to tell the difference between their products and the fake ones. And ultimately, it will be us consumers who will suffer.

For our part, us consumers should be vigilant and diligent in doing our homework before buying anything. I sent my brother the following links to help him assess the risks and scrutinize would-be suppliers before transacting with them. I hope you would find them helpful as well, especially if you engage in online trading.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lolo SB

Given the sorry state of Philippine politics, especially with the coming National Elections, I am tempted to NOT participate in the upcoming electoral process. I would rather NOT exercise my right to vote than be at the receiving end of the mockery of the Filipino people that occurs every election, as manifested in the rampant vote-buying and blatant cheating at the polls. However, despite my determination to boycott tomorrow's election, you would probably see me at the voting precincts first thing in the morning tomorrow, lining up to cast my votes. What can I do, voting is a family affair in our household. My mother, being a model citizen, would probably drag us down to the voting precincts if needed, just to make sure that we vote.

Needless to say, I don't have a list of who I'm going to vote yet. I'll probably vote whoever my mother wants me to vote for senator. At least I have a name in mind for our municipality's mayoralty post, the incumbent mayor, Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte. In fact, there is no other name I can write for mayor because he, together with most of the QC SB Team candidates, is running unopposed. Look at his picture, doesn't he remind you of a kind and gentle lolo, the kind who would give you money and sweets when your mommy's not looking? I'm sure he would win and I hope he does do he can continue the programs he has started for QC.

Note: Photo lifted from the National Statistics Office website.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wormtongue for Senator

Took me more than two hours to get home last night. A miting de avance of some politician (who happens to be a son of a former QC mayor, and who happens to father a sexy actress) running for congress was being held along Commonwealth Ave. and of course, the traffic was horrendous. Well generally, traffic has been really bad because of the coming elections. The volume of vehicles usually go down during summer because school is out. However, this summer is an exception. You just have to look at the vehicles on the road and you will know why. Stickers and streamers of political campaigns adorn vehicles of every kind, making you wonder if the vehicles are transporting political campaign materials or just roving around the roads for maximum exposure of the campaign ads. It's not only the traffic that's affected by the ongoing campaigns. Try to watch local television channels and you'll be bombarded by senatoriables' commercial ads. Even radio airwaves carry campaign jingles and political endorsements.

All these set me to thinking. The Philippines must really be a rich country for all these politicians to be scrambling to get the people's attention and votes in order to be put into position. I even got an email containing Miriam Defensor Santiago's exposition of how much budget a senator gets and I was astounded by the figures. This is where the people's hard-earned money go? Money that could have been put to better use by funding infrastructure development and quality public education were instead going straight to the politicians' pockets. No wonder political rivalries sometimes even reach the point of killing and violence. Those government seats are so worth fighting for because with the fame and victory come the power and the gold.

And they say that they are pro-poor.

The great Google franchise

I've been going through the rounds of Pinoy blogs lately and I've noticed that almost all had one thing in common: Google AdSense. In fact, I've seen a few individuals turning pro. These probloggers own multiple websites and blogs with content ranging from how to drive safely to how to become a problogger yourself. They are also members of blog networks and blog sites with group revenue sharing. At first I thought this is a violation of Google's TOS but a little googling revealed that it is not and is in fact widely practiced.

It's not only the bloggers who benefit from Google AdSense. Even some companies rely heavily on the revenue generated by the Google AdSense in their sites. Gone were the days when the sales and marketing people of these sites would have to go knocking on each and every potential client who would want to advertise on their site and explain the benefits of banner ads, page hits, click-throughs and such. All the company has to do is to have the Google AdSense javascript plugged into every page of their site and wait for the checks to come in.

The above scenarios are not only applicable to the Philippine cyberspace; they are prevalent in other blog and websites the world over. All these add to the ever-growing number of Google AdSense success stories. And with the recent acquisition of DoubleClick by Google, I won't be surprised if the figures double in just a short period of time.

This got me to thinking. In the same way the McDonald's is more of in the real estate business than in the food business, Google may be more about acquiring cyberspace real estate, than it is about serving ads and search functionality! And as Google's web presence grows, more and more would want to be in on the franchise. This could very well translate to more Google checks coming in through the mail, couriers and wires. Maybe in a few more years, Google could even become the world's biggest employer, spanning races, educational attainment, economic backgrounds and age groups. Maybe it already is, right this very minute.

A Google Adsense on every website. Doesn't sound so bad, don't you think?

Open-source woes

Forgive me for being remiss in my postings. I've been tied up with work lately and I've also started tinkering with my other site. I even spent a good deal of the weekend evaluating Open-source CMS software which came free with my web hosting. I figured it would save me a lot of time and effort if I just used an out-of-the-box webapp instead of me building a website from ground up. Alas, it turned out that it was not as easy as point-click-install-login-put content-publish. It was more of point-click-install, scratch head and ask yourself why the page displays an error, go to the site and skim through the documentation, search in the forums for any discussion on the problem encountered, try out each of the suggestions until you hit one that solves your problem, then login. By the time I've reached the administrator area, my stress level was already so high, I decided to close the browser and rest for a while.

When I decided to go back to the computer, my troubles started all over again. My site wouldn't let me log in; it just keeps saying 'Access denied'. At first I thought I just forgot the password so I clicked on the 'Forgot password' link and received an email containing a link that will give me one time access to my site so I can reset my password. I did just that and when I tried to login, same thing happened. Back to scouring the forums I go and I discovered that my problem was more browser-related. I had to change IE7's Privacy Settings to 'Override automatic cookie handling' and 'Always allow session cookies' and only then was I able to login. I figured this would be a hassle for my users who have already upgraded to IE7. But since I don't have much choice, I'm hoping a system requirements info saying "This site works best with Mozilla Firefox and IE6" would suffice for now.

I'm not new to open-source software and web applications, in fact they are widely used where I work. Yet, I still had a difficult time setting one up for my site. The lesson of the story is that nothing in life ever really comes free, even open-source.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Draw me a cat

I've been called a webmaster more than once but I don't think I ever really earned the title. There's just so many things that go into building a website and I don't have the expertise nor the inclination to perform all tasks. Sure, I can create a web application based on the requirements specification and I'll even do the database modeling myself. But ask me to design the webpage and you'll be staring at a blank screen. Ask me to configure the server and it will be me staring at you.

That's why I've always appreciated my co-workers during the many years I've been in web development. We were busy workers in an assembly line. Project manager meets with the client and finds out what they want. PM drafts the requirements document and presents it to the staff at project kick-off. Web designer thinks of the look and feel for the site and makes several design mock-ups from which the client can choose. In the meantime, web developer (that's me!) starts on the DB design and any back-end programming that can do without a fancy user interface. After the web designer has finished the mock-ups, s/he submits it to PM who then presents it to the client. Client chooses a design; PM gives go-signal to web designer to create html pages based on the chosen design. Web designer hands over the html pages to the web developer; web developer plugs in the code into the html pages. Et voila, you have a working website. Of course there are a lot of things that happen and must be done before the client finally signs-off on the project. But you get the picture. Each member of the team has a specific task which must be done within a specific amount of time and each adheres to the development process as much as possible to ensure smooth transitioning of work output.

So that's if you have a whole team. But if you're only two people trying to execute your bright ideas onto a website-to-be then you're bound to have shared responsibilities. I'm not complaining though. Just yesterday, we spent the whole afternoon designing a logo and we're not even finished yet. I struggled with letting my creative juices flow (maybe because I didn't have any) but I did enjoy every pixel-crunching minute of it. :)

After the logo comes choosing a color scheme. I'm surely dreading it but I think we'll get by with a little help from our friend.