Tala Ko

Archive for July 2008

Light pollution isn’t a new idea, and it isn’t a matter of aesthetics, either. I first read about it in high school. It disrupts human sleep and hormonal patterns, and in some places, you can sue your neighbor for having too much light.

I think if I ranked the types of pollution according to how much I cared about them, light pollution would be third, after air and water. I guess that comes from having grown up under a clear night sky and then suddenly moving to a place where I could see only the brightest stars, only once or twice a week.

clipped from www.disinfo.com

Around the world, the night sky is vanishing in a fog of artificial light, which a coalition of naturalists, astronomers and medical researchers consider one of the fastest growing forms of pollution, with consequences for wildlife, people’s health — and the human spirit.

About two-thirds of the world’s population, including almost everyone in the continental U.S. and Europe, no longer see a starry sky where they live. For much of the world, it never even gets dark enough for human eyes to adjust to night vision, reported an international team that mapped the geography of night lighting.

“Our children grow without seeing what is possibly the most extraordinary natural wonder,” says Italian astronomer Fabio Falchi, one of several U.S. and Italian researchers who used military satellite images to compile the first comprehensive global atlas of night-sky brightness — a 2001 orbital survey published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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Yesterday was my first day at my first job (yay for me!) as a writer/researcher for the website of a local megachurch. :) I’m pretty psyched.

I don’t have a workstation of my own yet, so I had to borrow a laptop from their tech bank. It’s an IBM unit that runs Windows XP. A few minutes into working, and I started to wish for that feature in Ubuntu that keeps a certain window on top, no matter what. :/

But to be honest, what I do in Ubuntu isn’t all that different from what I used to do – and what I have to do again at work – in Windows. My copy of XP is original, too, so I don’t have anything to worry about from the software police. Because I’m not a programmer, I don’t get to fully exercise the freedoms that FOSS offers.

I just like knowing that those freedoms are there, and that they help make the computing world a little smaller and a little bigger all at once. Using Ubuntu and the free programs it comes with is just my way of supporting those freedoms.

Oh, and I finally got to use FirefoxPortable as well. :p It’s fast and it’s mine, but I don’t want to exact too much of a toll on my flash disk. It’ll tide me over till I get a workstation, I guess.

By the way, does anyone know where I can find a portable media player with ogg vorbis support? Locally, if you please. :) Thanks.

I signed up for blip.fm. I think it’s one big collaborative online radio station with Twitter-like features. It’s fun, and I get to hear a lot of interesting music. Check it out. :)

“Highly complex DNA structures can be tranformed into musical sounds, which might eventually be used to monitor sick patients. In the acoustic translation, harmony represents good health, and discord indicates disease.

Finally auditory information will allow surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other physicians to be able to focus on their task and listen at the same time.”

Wooooooow. This just blows my mind. I wonder what my DNA sounds like! Click on the link at the bottom to listen to a sample – it’s awesome! Read the rest of this entry »

This makes me wonder what creatures didn’t crawl out of the sea thanks to this. It also makes me think of Italo Calvino short stories.

If this is true, can you imagine what kind of world we’d be living in if the eruption had never happened and petroleum had never been created? Read the rest of this entry »

… because apparently, the ISP here at my relatives’ house doesn’t approve of sharing. :p

Wah.

Come on, guys. What’s wrong with learning something new, and saving your school money while you’re at it?

clipped from newsinfo.inquirer.net
MAKATI City, Philippines — Local school St. Paul College Pasig (SPCP) has recently decided to replace its existing open source system to standardize on Windows Vista and the latest Microsoft Office system, Microsoft Philippines said.
Microsoft Philippines said the Windows Vista and Office 2007 licenses will be fully deployed in the upcoming school year.
In a statement, Sr. Teresita Baricaua, SPC, SPCP directress, said students and the faculty were looking for programs and applications that were not available in Linux. Students, she said, were often using Windows in their home, thus the confusion in the use of applications.
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I’m trying an even more different format for a wikiwalk entry today. I’ve been reading the free ebook of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise,” so yesterday, I decided to begin a wikiwalk into the Jazz Age. I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring 20’s – the exuberance, the fashion, the music – perhaps more than by the hippies of the 60’s and the bohemian lifestyle.

How I started reading the novel is a short game of connections in itself. I read somewhere that Brad Pitt was going to play the title role in a movie version of Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I looked up the Benjamin Button page, then decided that I wanted to read everything by F. Scott Fitzgerald, having read “The Great Gatsby” already sometime in high school. On the F. Scott Fitzgerald page, I learned that “This Side of Paradise” was his debut novel, so there I went.

On the “This Side of Paradise” page (I only read as far as I’d already gotten in the book; I don’t want to spoil anything for myself), I saw links to Ginevra King and Zelda Sayre. From Zelda’s page, I clicked on to the flapper, and from there to the Eton crop, and from there to Josephine Baker.

Read the rest of this entry »

A look at the first three pages of both Google and Yahoo! search results are enough to refuel my desire to write for the sake of Philippine science. I’m not talking about just IT, though it seems that I have been for the past few entries. But for a while now, I’ve wanted to learn and write more about other fields – biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, mathematics, engineering, etc. – and the headway that we Filipinos may be making.

I say “may” because, well, I’m finding it hard to learn about it. It’s easy enough to search “science news Philippines” and be led to single articles on renewed preservation efforts or the discoveries of new species in the country. There’s also the occasional weather (typhoon) report. But I can’t seem to find out enough about what our scientists are doing in other fields. What if I want to know, for instance, what comes out when our tax money goes into funding for local sci/tech? What if I want to know whether sci/tech in this country is really as bad as some kabayans think it is?

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I know Portable Apps has been around for a while. In February, I wanted to present my thesis using OpenOffice.org Impress – to Impress them with Impress, so to speak. Because my thesis was about FOSS, I wanted to go from start to finish using FOSS. But because I didn’t have a laptop from which to give my slide show, I had to borrow my roommate’s Windows-running unit.

There had to be some way for me to use the program short of actually installing Impress (she didn’t have that much hard drive space left). First, I tried PenDrive Linux, but the window displayed was too small. Then, I tried a portable version of Impress, but it ran too slowly on my roomie’s laptop. I was forced to use her PowerPoint. The presentation went fine, but I can’t help thinking that it would have made more of an impact if the panelists had seen an actual FOSS program at work.

Anyway, last bit of backstory yakking. My mom has me do simple graphic design work from time to time. Recently, she asked if I could whip something up for her Ladies Club back home. I couldn’t seem to find enough time at my relatives’ desktop PC (there are four of us competing for time) to do the work, but I knew that I’d be hanging out at my uncle’s office for most of the day. (Job interview at a building near his office.)

The same dilemma came up as I copied my files into my flash drive. My uncle would need his computer, but in the past, he’d let me use a spare laptop at the office. There wasn’t a lot of space left in its hard drive, though, so I couldn’t install the GIMP. Anyway, I didn’t like the idea of installing a program on a computer that wasn’t mine – even if I cleaned up afterwards. What was I to do?

After a quick search for a portable version of the GIMP, I found myself back at Portable Apps. I installed GIMP Portable, popped my flash disk into the spare laptop’s USB drive, and voila! The GIMP was running just as smoothly and as quickly as it did on my own CPU, without a hiccup. I finished the design in a few hours, and I left my uncle’s laptop clean.

Portable GIMPing

The ease and speed of everything has me wondering next about what other applications I should bring along with me. I can’t help remembering, though, how slow the portable Impress was on my roommate’s laptop. How do I know it won’t happen wherever I bring my portable programs?

Also, I can’t seem to find any information on the site regarding RAM. I can’t remember whether I got that version of Impress from Portable Apps or whether I’d simply used the installer at OpenOffice.org. Is Impress a larger program than the GIMP? Or did GIMP Portable run fine on my uncle’s laptop simply because he had 1Gb of RAM? I can’t remember how much memory my roomie had on her laptop, but my own desktop has only 384 Mb.

Be right back. To check these things out is the perfect excuse to download Firefox Portable. :)

Sometime in the summer, I had the great opportunity to tag along with some marine scientists as they conducted a survey of dugongs in the area of my province. :) I wrote an article, and it was published in the local Dumaguete news as well as here.

It’s not my best writing, but then I was rusty at the time I wrote it. I’d really love to write stuff like that again.