Kapanalig Sa Wala - Literally, one who also have faith in nothing, is a play on words and wasn't really intended to mean something. It was made in jest to call the atheist camp when I was still actively debating god in one of the demised public forums out there. I think walang pananalig (faithless) would have proven to be more precise but I think the intended humor will be lost.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Power of Prayer

Everytime I leave the office, I say my goodbyes to the people who are still working. In IT, you know a lot of developers do it as programming is a creative process. I have a few colleagues who are Pinoys and I always make it a point that I'd drop by their cubicles before I leave. My favorite expression to them is Magpakabait ka (be good). This evening, it's my turn to be left behind and W, my Pinay colleague who sits next to me, said the same thing. "Yes, I will," I replied. Then put my hands together as if in the act of praying. She said, being good is doing good not in praying to be good. Now, this is what I also believe. Being good has got nothing to do with praying. She said, it's like praying to be rich. You can pray all you want but no amount of praying, if praying is all you do, can make you rich. You have to work (hard) for it. That is obvious of course. What is not obvious for the believers though is this: you need not pray at all in order to accomplish anything, including getting rich. Prayer has got nothing to do with work. I asked her if she's heard about Occam's Razor. She said she haven't so I proceeded to explain it to her. What you have just told me is practical Occam's Razor. I will give you another example. I have this paper cup on my table. I placed it in front of me and pretended I was praying. I told her, I can pray all I want but the paper cup wont move, no Divine Intervention coming my way. I know it and she knows it and you know it but if you are a fanatic, you wont be able to accept it, but it's true nonetheless. What I can do is use my hand to move the cup, which I did. Normally, one would not see anything unusual in this simplistic exercise. It's not an issue as moving the cup is a straightforward undertaking where there are not much unknowns involved. But as more unknowns are added into the situation, as more ignorance is involved, bigger and bigger portion of the exercise are attributed by the religious that a Cosmic Force is out there helping us thus, "sa awa ng diyos, nailipat ko yung tasa." Such is the supposed power of prayer. To me, it's nothing but a function of the believer's ignorance and misguided belief.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Love My Pointers!

As I mentioned in the earlier post, I am very reluctant to switch to Java as my main programming language at work. Why? I guess one reason is that I have this fetish of feeling the wires of the machine in my own programs. I don't want to stay away from the 0s and 1s. As much as possible, I like to have the illusion of control on my pointers, memory, and registers. I tried looking for assembly language work but they were scarce then, and scarcer now than before, so I settled for C programming. When I first did C++/C programming, I immediately loved it. My cousin wanted to have a pulldown menu system in his Clipper application and I volunteered to write one for him, in C. I read up on how to interface Clipper with C modules. It was sweet. I like to visualize my functions on how they will look in the stack, how my data structures will populate the heap, what the application footprint will be. Because of this, I was slower than necessary in finishing my programs. I tend to do premature optimization and always conscious of memory footprint and application performance. This is a product of my abnormal passion to do assembly programming. I remember in COBOL class, my teacher Miss Chua noticed that I was having trouble with my workstation so she approached me to ask me what seemed to be the problem with my COBOL program. The assembly language program I was debugging in the COBOL lab was hung and even a Ctrl+Alt+Del wont do to abort it as the BIOS interrupts were messed up already. Yes, that was DOS era and I am talking about BIOS, interrupt handling, and a COM program as opposed to an EXE program. I was debugging a small COM program that's supposed to be for my Operating Systems class under Mr. Didulo, a memory-resident utility I affectionately called Looney Tools. It was made to intercept the BIOS keyboard interrupt and scan the key combination of Ctrl+Alt+T and it will kick in, much like the Borland Sidekick. She asked me if I wanted to do my COBOL machine problem in assembly. I restrained myself so I wouldn't get into trouble any further but deep inside of me, I wanted to scream: YES! Fuck COBOL, give my pointers back!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

13 Years Of Being A Code Monkey

Next month, I shall have been programming, officially as my job, for thirteen years. In all these years I have done mostly C++/C programming in various platforms including DOS, Windows, and now UNIX (Solaris). But nowadays, I have been spending less than half of my time on programming and finding myself doing more and more of paper pushing, chasing signatures, and being the dump site of the miscellaneous stuffs that other co-programmers don't want to do - mainly, paperwork. I am starting to feel I am losing that technical side the more I do this. Part of this is that I have been resisting being absorbed by the Java wave as I seem to be reluctant to spend considerable effort on getting acquainted with the Java class libraries. I have been doing mostly C++/C programming and with which I feel I am still not an expert, yet I must build my skills again from the ground up for yet another programming language. I have many books that I have yet to read but my motivation is so low. Part of this is because I don't see myself as programming in Java full-time but rather, the skills that I need to acquire is to give me a certain level of proficiency where I can jump into the code and fix small items to help the team by focusing on the things that don't seem trivial and easy while others devote their time and energy on solving the biggest issues of the day. Any problem that will require longer time to do than a day or two will just drag on and on as I get interrupted with the other stuffs that I would be looking after, e.g., replying to trivial queries from other groups, attending meetings, reporting status, and so on. I know this look like I am stuck badly but I see something at the end of all this. I know there is some value in what I do but I cannot give a name to it somehow. At any rate, I can go back to programming any time if I choose to yet I haven't done so. I am at the crossroad. I am re-thinking my next move all this time. Meanwhile, I am giving myself a few petty projects that should finally help me re-gain that competitive technical skills that I will be needing in the next few months.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Independence Day

In my opinion, you don't have the magnitude to imply things like what you belive in, because if there's no God then you wouldn't have a purpose at all in this world even if you control the whole world with your computers.

If you will read "The Purpose Driven Life" and "Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom you'll be enlightened.

Believe you me I got this piece of unsolicited advice from somebody who admitted he got agitated because I wrote a statement of fact: that I don't believe in the concept of god. Based on this mere statement, he was able to write a lot about me. Frankly, I don't know how to react to his post because I don't like to stir the forum with a non-issue. But I think he read too much between the lines, flamed me, but got a blowback instead. Good for him.

I must tell him though, that the people who read The Purpose Driven Life are still in doubt about (a) their purpose, or (b) their life. Seriously though, I haven't read that book myself and I will do so only if somebody will lend me his copy - by all means, let me see if I will be enlightened! Do I need a purpose in life? Naaah. I am happy with what I have and what I am and what I live for. It doesn't sit well with me the idea that there is some cosmic force (farce?) out there that is interested in my life and how I live it, whether I screw up or not.

Happy Independence Day. I hope today your mind is free.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New Dawn Fades

I am listening to Joy Division - my reliable source of self-induced depression. This song is one of the most intense I've ever heard and is a personal favorite.

New Dawn Fades (by Joy Division)

A change of speed, a change of style
A change of scene, with no regrets
A chance to watch, admire the distance
Still occupied, though you forget
Different colours, different shades
Over each mistakes were made
I took the blame
Directionless so plain to see
A loaded gun won't set you free
So you say
We'll share a drink and step outside
An angry voice and one who cried:
"I'll give you everything and more,
the strain's too much, can't take much more."
Oh, I've walked on water, danced with fire
Can't seem to take it anymore
It was me, waiting for me this time
Hoping for something more
Hoping for something else
Me, waiting for me this time
Hoping for something more.

Here is a great acoustic cover by John Frusciante. Please take note that the lyrics is somewhat different.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Zard Vocalist Sakai Izumi Dead At 40

I was shocked and saddened to hear the news, though a week late, about the passing of Sakai Izumi, the vocalist of the very popular J-pop group Zard. When I first came to Japan, I immediately felt at home because of J-pop. I bought this cheap component system with MD player/recorder entirely from the points I got when I bought my SLR film camera from Yodobashi. I would borrow CDs from this CD/video/DVD rental shop near my place in Hatagaya (near Shinjuku via Toei Shinjuku line) and I'd record them in MDs. Zard was one of the bands I liked listening to because of the very enthusiastic beat that made me feel light and happy. Zard's melodies set me into an optimistic mood.

Here is one song I like to listen to.

She will be missed by fans.