Monday, December 22, 2008

Mca vs. PC Christmas

Well, it's been a while. In the spirit of Christmas (and with me being a Mac convert), let me share with you this Mac vs. PC Christmas ad. Enjoy! You can check out YouTube for more of them. Warning: It can take up a lot of your time :)

Vacation starts in two days. I can't wait.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Great Moleskine Giveaway continues!

And so, it starts.

It's my turn for the Great Moleskine Giveaway. One of you guys will win a Moleskine Large Plain Reporter notebook, and it will be shipped to you for free!

Visit Strangely Out of Place to join.

- Contest is open to Philippine residents or those with a Philippine mailing address only.
- Contest will run from November 22 to  November 26. At the end of the contest, I will announce the winner and the next blog to host the contest.

Thanks & good luck!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


What are the special things that you look forward to every Sunday?

Even as a child, Sundays were often touted as the family day. My parents would take my brothers and I out, nowhere really fancy, just to the mall or the park. Sometimes, if my grandparents were visiting, we'd schedule some out of town trips with my uncles, aunts and cousins. Of course, if we were in the province, Sundays meant early morning church before everything else. Sundays often become special not because of what we do, but who we spend it with.

Nowadays, Sunday is "me" time. Saturdays are the days where I often go out, meet with my friends or do more active things. Sundays, I do the laid back activities like catching up with my blogging, reading books, or, if I'm up to it, cleaning the house. Sometimes, my brothers and I would go watch a movie and just spend some time together.

What do you look forward to on Sundays?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coming soon! The Great Moleskine Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Just want to give you a heads up on an upcoming contest on my main blog, Strangely Out of Place.

It's a project spearheaded by Jasper Ong of, an online shopping site for books, journals and other great items at bargain prices. The Great Moleskine Giveaway is a series of contests hosted by various Filipino blogs, and as the name suggests, the winner will receive their very own Moleskine notebook.

Currently, four blogs have already done their contest. Mine will happen on November 22 to November 26. I will post the mechanics on my blog on that day, and anyone with a Philippine mailing address is invited to join!

Visit Strangely Out of Place for details. In the meantime, you can check out's blog for the list of blogs that are also in the contest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keeping up

Well hello there.

I haven't been updating this blog much, mostly due to lack of anything to say. Well, let me correct that. I do have a lot to say, but I'm mostly just lazy to say them.

Life has been busy so far. Work is work, no need to expound on that. Changes seem to be looming the the near future, and I hope it's a good change, not one that'll give me and my colleagues more headache.

My aunt and cousin (whom I haven't seen in 18 years) is visiting from Florida. They'll be flying back on Saturday, which is a pity because I haven't really gotten to spend time with them. Hopefully, if things fall into place, I'll be visiting them next year.

I also joined the NaNoWriMo this year. I've been a member since 2004, but I haven't really finished anything. This is the farthest I've gone and also, this is the year where I actually have more friends who are doing NaNoWriMo with me. It makes it more fun because it's sort of a competition on who gets 50,000 words first. Well, to me anyway. :)

My brother's Internet shop is now fully open for business. He's been open since October, but he only had network games. Now, he can rent out computers for people to go online. I'm thinking of getting him a coffeemaker, just for the heck of it.

Oh, and I read Sherrilyn Kenyon's "One Silent Night" the other day. It's Stryker's turn, and there are alot of revelations in that book, not just about Stryker but also about the other characters in the series. I cannot wait for the next one in the series. I finished the book in maybe 4-5 hours, while in between work. Not bad, methinks.

So, how have you been in the last few days?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yahoo Messenger for Mac woes

I'm currently using Yahoo Messenger for Mac (Version 3.0 Beta 3). I rarely use YM for anything except chat. In Windows, I used to play music on Launchcast, or occasionally share photos with friends, but even if I don't have those features in Mac, I'm happy.

I do, however, have some peeves with the Mac version. I've tried to contact Yahoo about them but haven't had much luck in getting any replies. I'll try again though.

Now these are rather superficial concerns, I'd say, but something that irritates me, especially as it's my computer and I should be able to personalize it in the way that I want right?

YM for Mac peeve #1: Changing font colors won't stick
I love colors, as it makes the chat experience more interesting. I use Color Effects with the Windows version, keeping the color in the range of blue hues. It's quite nice to look at, and I was disappointed in learning that the Mac version doesn't have it.

No worries. As long as I can change the font, I'm happy.

On the main menu of the YM, choose Preferences then Messaging. I changed my font to the color I want and... it didn't change. I logged out then logged back in (the usual solution for Windows based programs, a habit I still have hehe) and still no success.

For some reason I pressed Cmd+T and got the text box up, so I was able to change my font color. Yay!

Here's the catch:
1) Font color change isn't automatic for every person you chat with. I have to change the color every time I open up a conversation with a different person.
2) When I sign out of YM and sign back in, the previous changes I made with the fonts are gone. I have to change the color again.

None of the sites (which included Yahoo's own) I tried going to offered a solution that worked. I posted my concern on the this blog entry (scroll to the bottom) but still no success (much thanks to Karl, who replied).

YM for Mac peeve #2: Custom image disappears
I rarely use the YM Avatar. Mostly because I do like to use my own, er, creative shots. I currently use a photo I took of myself with half of my face covered with a book.

One day, I noticed that my display picture was gone. Instead, I had that generic silhouette head. So I went again to the preferences and tried to change the image. I successfully browsed and chose the picture that I want, but the image isn't there.

I keep trying to do these changes but still to no success. It really is quite frustrating. The first time it happened, I decided to stick with the Yahoo Avatar and tried to change it a few days later. Now, its happened again.

I don't know if it's happening to just me, because I haven't run across any sites where people have the same concern. I just hope it could be fixed.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Changing the default file type on Word for Mac 2008

I finally got Office for Mac 2008 installed in my MacBook. Many would say that I could have just gone for an OpenSource program like Neo Office or Bean (both of which I tried and liked immensely except that they don't seem to have the auto-capitalization working), but since I could get Office at a very decent price, I decided to go for it.

Like the version for Windows, the new Office automatically defaults the format to the new "x" file type: .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx, if I'm not mistaken. I encountered this problem in Windows a few weeks back. My mom sent me an Excel file that I had to print but I couldn't open it. A quick Google search helped me identify it and an online converter helped me turn it to a document my older Excel could read.

Eventually, I taught her how to pick the extension .doc everytime she saves it.

My uncle, a recent Mac user, also had problems with the file extension and manually had to change it everytime he saves a document. Sometimes he forgets, so when he sends the document to his clients, they can't open it. Not everyone has made the switch to the new Office in either platforms

Tinkering with Word the other day, I found out that you can change the default file type your document will save in. I think it will also work for Excel and Powerpoint, but I haven't really tried.

On Word, choose Preferences
Under "Output and Sharing", click "Save"
Locate the option that says "Save Word files as" and choose "Word Document 97-2004 (.doc)"
Click on OK.

The next time you save a new document, it will automatically pick .doc. You can change it to whatever format you want though, and this method is only for those who need to send files to others who use an older Office.

Although I hear Neo Office can open .docx files. :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

About the Internet...

Don't you just love the Internet? You get to pick up all sorts of information off it with just a click of a button. It's also so easy to keep in touch with people and keep them updated with your life. Communicating with family abroad is as simple as logging in to a chat software and there you go. There's simply no reason for you not to be communicating, as well as no reason for you to be out of the loop (unless you're lazy or just totally not into the Internet thing).

It's also amazing how you can pick up great bargains through the Internet. Anyone can buy anything so long as they have the money, and everyone can sell everything, so long as someone's interested. Those who are extra resourceful can even pick up huge discounts if they have the patience to look. That's how I got my MacBook.

Another great thing with the Internet is being able to pick up information about anything and everything. Of course, one has to practice caution because you aren't 100% sure the information you're picking up is accurate or even true. That happens! It still helps to have more than two resources, and if you could back it up with a print reference, so much the better.

I've joined plenty of forums in the past years, mostly tech and gadget forums, as well as art and graphic design forums. I loved the interaction and how someone always has an answer to your question that most sites don't seem to have. I joined a forum for Filipino Macintosh users (PhilMug) early last year when my cousin gave me her old iPod Shuffle (1st gen). It won't work, so I joined the forums to ask for help. Unfortunately, no one was able to help and my brother was eventually able to make it run. It has long since died, but I kept my forum membership.

When I decided that I'd get a MacBook, I logged into the forums to search for user opinions about what model to get and how hard is it for Windows users to switch to the Mac OS. I ended up locating a dealer where I could get my Mac at at very good price, and even purchased an iPod Nano 4th gen.

In the same forum, I found tips on what would be a good cleaner for my MacBook and where to get it. I passed by Office Warehouse today, got the cleaning product called Sher and when I got home, used it and it yielded pretty good results.

Like I said, amazing thing, the Internet is. And I haven't even started on talking about discovering old friends, meeting new people and just plain having fun.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hello, Mac

I'm a new Mac user. In my years handling computers, from early highschool to present, I was strictly Windows. Partly has something to do with the mentality that Mac = expensive, and that it wasn't particularly user friendly. Plus, I didn't know anyone who had an Apple machine that I could tinker around with. Those were somewhat rendered obsolete in my country way before I was born (or at least, that was my impression).

Years ago, when I first started doing digital drawings, I came across the debate of PC vs. Mac. A lot of people said that Mac was a better choice, however, I never really knew why. It wasn't until I attended a workshop on Adobe Illustrator that someone gave me a reason why that was so. It had something to do with how a Mac calibrates the colors, he said, but that was way before. Now, I don't really know.

Though I think I digress.

I never really thought I'd go over to the Mac-side, but here I am. The decision was backed by testimonials of people I really know who have switched and loved it. Somehow, reading it online is different from hearing it from people whose opinions I trusted. With that, plus the bargain I got from a local Apple dealer, I took the plunge.

The image
Hanging out with the new iPod Nano 4th gen.

Besides, I figured with my mom and my sister having their own new Windows based laptops, two desktops and one old but still very functional Compaq Armada, it's only fitting to bring in something different. As my Spanish professor said, "Variety delights."

The initial reaction of opening up the Mac would be similar to me opening up a new Windows laptop. I'm sorry if that sounds like heresy, but having no point of comparison with an older Mac OS, I didn't know what to expect. My excitement stemmed more from the though of having a new toy to play with; from finally having a laptop of my own.

The transition wasn't so bad as I thought. Of all the things I've read, many have expressed fear of having trouble using the keys, what with Windows on the Alt+Control sige, Mac with Opt+Command. In my opinion, if you're mouse dependent and don't really use the key shortcuts at all, it doesn't really matter. So far the only "trouble" I had was getting used to the fact that when I need to use "control" on the Mac, it's nearer the spacebar.

I'm still a heavy Windows user, as it's my machine at work and I spend eight hours on it, five days a week. Most of the programs I use at work are in the Windows machine at home (there are Mac counterparts for them but I haven't gotten them yet) too, so when I need to bring home any office related stuff, I end up using the PC. The Mac, for now, is strictly a leisure tool.

Obviously, I haven't fully explored the Mac OS X yet. My "reading list" is full of guides on using the OS X and making the most out of it. There's still so much to explore, and I'm looking forward to that. I have my gripes about the Mac, but so far, it seems trivial. I'm missing the full screen function, especially when I'm typing a document (though I wonder if this is just with the TextEditor and if it'll work fine on Office for Mac?). The trackpad seems too sensitive at times and I kept opening browsers that I know I didn't click on. I hate how all the white seems to attract all the dirt and I have to be forever wiping the wrist area just to be sure there's not a smidgen of dust.

I also miss some of the functions that Windows and it's related peripherals have, like the "page up" and "page down" keys that come in handy when reading. I also found it initially confusing that the "delete" on Mac functions more of like a backspace. I can't find the Equalizer on iTunes, and I can't seem to keep the color changes I make on the fonts of YM. Well, probably that isn't a worry but it bothers me a bit.

I chalk this all up to a typical behaviour from being a longtime Windows user to a newbie Mac user. I think that there'll be a time when switching from one OS to another would be second nature. Until then, I'll going to enjoy this journey of discovering Mac.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WQ#18: Weird Culinary Delights

This is a sequel to the WQ #17 Ugh. about whether to continue eating or to abandon eating lasagna with pig’s brain in it.

So the WQ#18 is related to this and here it goes:


What were the worst or weird food (for you) that you have ever eaten? What were your reactions?
I never got to answer last week's question, though my answer is I'd probably eat one last bite then say, "I'm full." I probably won't eat pig's brain willingly, but since I already did, let's just chalk it up to experience.

Worst or weird food that I've eaten? Hmm. Geez, that's a bit tough for some reason. I haven't really eaten anything that made me throw up. I've eaten snails, frogs, snakes and even (and I am very sorry to say this), a turtle. They don't taste bad, but then I guess it was how they were cooked.

I don't willingly eat liver, but I do eat pig and chicken intestines (isaw for the win!). I don't eat barbequed pig's blood, but occassionally, I will eat dinuguann, especially if there's nothing else to eat. Oh, the first time I ate chicken legs and pigs feet was odd, and between the two, I'd go for the chicken.

Balut? Well, I like the soup, and the yellow part, but when it comes to the chick, you can have it. Cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Montessori education

Months ago, I was browsing Booksale when a lady asked me if I saw a book about the Montessori method in any of the stacks. I asked why and she said that she wanted to read up about it for her son, who was a special child. It was quite an interesting conversation because out of all the people she asked, it had to be me.

I studied in a Montessori school (that as far as I know is the first of the system in the Philippines) from pre-school (called Casa) up to high school. My Casa life seemed more like one huge playtime for me, and it wasn't until I was older did I realize why.

Maria Montessori was born in Italy, as far as I can remember, to an upper middle class family. She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Rome La Sapienza Medical School, and was especially interested in trying to educate what many would consider the "mentally retarded" children of her hometown. Her methods were very successful, and she established a school for children called "Casa de Bambini," hence, why my pre-school life was known as my Casa years.

Maria Montessori believed that a child's brain from age 0-4 can absord anything and everything. She also believed that a child learns best when "work" is incorporated to play, and that children learn best when it is set to their own pace. My memories of my Casa years are still very vivid, and recall them with much fondness and amusement.

One of the more interesting things that I remember, this time from my elementary years, was that many of our lessons made use of visual aids. I suppose my knowledge about the parts of speech has something to do with memorizing their "symbols", and learning how to identify them in a sentence by drawing them above their corresponding word. Even math was fun, especially during the Casa years.

My school had two years in Casa: Junior and Senior. Elementary school had seven years (or at least, when I was studying), while High School had four. Most Montessori schools are usually just for early childhood education, but many branch out to high education. O.B. Montessori also has a college level, established shortly after I entered highschool.

If you want to learn more about the Montessori method and about Maria Montessori herself, you can check out these links:

Maria Montessori at Wikipedia
The Association Montessori Internationale
The International Montessori Index
American Montessori Society
And my school: O.B. Montessori Center, Inc.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Testing... :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Moving to a new platform?

Sharing a computer among three people at home, all of whom, I might add, need the computer at diffrent levels, can br frustrating. Not only you can get kicked off just when you were starting to have fun on the Internet, you have to share hard disk space. Not to mention that your files aren't exactly private (though props to my brothers for minding their own on that haha).

I've wanted a laptop for so long, back since high school when Windows was just at the 3.1 version. Firstly because, hey, that looks cool! Then in college, because it was convenient rather than going to the shop and renting a computer (yay for boyfriends and friends who had their own computers I can borrow haha). Nowadays, it's more for me, plus the fact that I have an online writing gig that I need to work on for hours at a time and cannot be bothered by someone wanting to use the computer.

Now that the time has come that I can finally get one, I am filled with questions and "first time" jitters. What should I get? What specs would be good for someone like me who not only uses the computer to surf the net and write documents, but also draw and edit graphics? Will it be a good investment if I get this or that?

I'm a PC/Windows user, and even had a brief stint as a tech support. I've used Linux Ubuntu when I attended a seminar last year, but I can still remember the days when the aforementioned boyfriend (now ex) had an old, old, not so GUI friendly version on his computer (yes, he's a geek). The only time I ever touched a Mac was when I play with it at Power Mac Center or as of late, my uncle's MacBook.

So I visited forums (Philmug is good. I got a lot of great info on using a Mac as well as where to find the best bargains for one), read blogs and reviews, even posted a question at Plurk about it. Suffice to say, the positive feedback was overwhelming. Many (especially at the forums) were gracious enough to answer questions on the MacBook's reaction to certain functions.

Moving to a new platform can be daunting, but based on the stories of PC to Mac switchers, it wasn't that hard to get used to it. Pretty soon, they said, you'll even wonder why you had your old system in the first place.

I'm still scared of what may happen, but I'm quite ready to take the plunge on moving to Mac. If things work out great as I hope they would, maybe by this time next week, I'll be updating from my new baby. Cheers!

P.S. No, I don't plan on getting the black one. That's just the most decent photo I could find haha.

Interesting reads related to the Mac
Official MacBook site/page
More Mac users? Let’s embrace them
Miss Choi on her Mac

Monday, September 08, 2008

Speak English


Really, don't we all get tired of 'txt spk' on blogs and forums? I'm a big advocate of boycotting text speak except on my cellphone, because it's so hard to read and understand. I've been ranting about that for a long time now, and to my dismay, it's gotten worse.

I even made a comment about it on Yahoo Answers, and to my surprise, my answer was picked as the best one!

Is it ok to use smileys and text lingo like "tnx" in a thank you letter after an interview?

Despite the evolution of text speak and it's adaptation to our daily conversations, I'd say it's much better to stick with what's the traditional and formal format of writing. Many of those who'll be doing the hiring may come from the old school of thought, and may be sticklers for correct grammar and usage. Personally, when I come across anything that's written in text speak (be it a blog or a letter sent by a friend), I usually pass it over. It's actually a pain to read. Plus, getting used to this kind of writing may even deteriorate your skills, and in the long run, that won't be good for you. Bottom line, when it comes to writing, stick with what was taught to you in school and what is generally accepted. Leave the text speak to your cellphones.

We're proud of the fact that our country considers English as a second language, but with the way a lot of people use text lingo to write, I'm beginning to wonder if it still holds true. Ten years ago, when text messaging wasn't even around, my grandfather was already deploring the way a lot of his students speak and write English. I wonder now what is he going to say?


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Being a piece of Peace (repost)

This was posted by my cousin Miel. It's a letter sent to her by Dee Mills, a GX volunteer currently assigned to Iligan for volunteer work. Hope you could pass it along to, in the words of my cousin, "inspire others to help in their own small ways."

As you may or may not know I have been doing volunteer work here in the Philippines for the past 3 months-working in the southern island of Mindanao, Lanao Del Norte in one of the main cities called Iligan.

It have been staying with the most amazingly loving and extremely hospitable family whilst working in Iligan and the experience has been life changing!

But since the weekend a very drastic change has occurred- 3 bombs went off on Sunday afternoon in Iligan City centre, was an awful scene to have experienced people running through the streets screaming and panic everywhere, and I was one of the unlucky few, out of the volunteers I’m working with, to have been in the centre at the time so I could see the effect it had on others as well as myself.

We were evacuated out of Iligan early Monday morning to a city 2 hours away from Iligan where we were much safer, as it was rumored to get much worse and it did get a lot worse the 2 days after we left.

We are staying here for 2 more weeks and have been told we are not allowed to enter back into Iligan as we are potential targets if we go back and will endanger our host families more by returning. This was devastating news to us as we have made such close friends and family and with all the work we have achieved there its so upsetting to know we can’t go back and say our proper farewells to the people we have grown to love and also to the city that I am now so attached to.

We are trying to do as much as we can for Iligan even if we cant go back, people are having to evacuate there homes as the rebel troops move closer and a lot of people have been seriously injured in result to the explosions. They are setting up emergency evacuation centers in Iligan and the Red Cross is sending more food supplies as are other disaster response groups within Iligan. My host mum and sister are also working in these evacuation centres, even though they themselves are under threat all the time.

I wanted to ask if you could consider donating even just £ 5 to the Red Cross Philippines, as at least £ 5 when its converted in the Filipino currency, peso’s, is about 450 peso’s.

The money would go towards food, medication for the wounded, supplies and emotional recovery for the people of Iligan.

A 1 kilo sack of rice feeds 4 to 5 people and it’s about 40 peso’s- that is about 50p to us! You can see how big the difference is there and how useful even a few pounds would be! (Obviously if you could give more that would be great!)

You can read more about the situation and information on the group that is attacking Lanao Del Norte on the BBC World website

I wouldn’t be sending this plea is it hadn’t become so important to me, as Iligan was my home and the people there are amazing and it’s terrible what has happened and I want to try and help them out however I can, and hope and pray that the war will end soon.

If you can donate then please see the attached VSO ( Voluntary Services Overseas) website and it will take you 5 mins to do it- it’s that easy!- any money given will be put straight towards the crisis in Iligan.




Guideline for donations:

£1 = 86 peso’s

So the amounts you can give are-

500 peso (£5.80)
1000 peso (£11.60)
2000 peso (£23.25)
2500 peso (£29.00)
Or more!

Please pass it along, via your blog or through email... every little bit helps!

Crossposted at my Multiply, Strangely Out of Place, and my LJ.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Google Reader

I've only been using Google Reader for a few months. My friend Rain was the first one to tell me about RSS, but I never really paid attention to it. I figured that if I had a site I wished to read on a regular basis, I could just bookmark it and visit it whenever I feel like it.

However, I didn't count on the evolution of sites... or on my rather fickle and very easily distracted interest in these sites or blogs. Well, perhaps I shouldn't say fickle, as I do still read them. It's just that as I get to see more and more blogs I want to read, the older ones get covered by the newer, to the point that I sometimes forget about them.

I wasn't too keen on using RSS readers either. Back when I first began to blog, RSS were mostly text and often truncated versions of the actual posts. It wasn't until I became aware of Google's Reader did I truly began to appreciate RSS feeds.

I'm not here to promote it, as there are many readers out there ad GR may not be the first choice for people, especially those who have been using RSS feeds for a while now. I do, however, find it very convenient and easy to use, thus it's my primary reader. I like how I can create folders to organize my feeds (the downside is if I want to categorize them under more than one labels, the feed is repeated). It's also cool how I can "star" an entry that I find interesting, and even share it with others who are on my friends list in GR. And even if you don't have GR, all my shared items can be seen in my profile page, so you can view that too.

The image

Plus, GR actually shows you the pictures and embedded videos the post has (if any). It's laid out as exactly as it would be on the site itself. That, for me, was the huge selling point of Google Reader as opposed to the others I've tried.

Adding a feed to the reader is easy too. You know how some readers need you to input the feed url itself in order to subscribe (that's for the sites that don't have a subscribe option, but then, that's a rarity)? Just click on "Add subscription", paste the URL and the reader looks for the feed link for you. Neat. (Note: As I haven't really used any other reader aside from this, I can't say if other readers have a similar feature. If you know that they do, let me know.).

I mostly have my friends' blogs added to GR, along with the blogs of people whose works I admire. I also noticed that I have plenty of design blogs added, as well as art blogs and sites. Like in most tech things, when I figure out how to use something that fulfills my basic need, I rarely explore it. Suffice to say, I know I haven't maximized GR just yet, but for now, I'm a happy camper.

Digg my article

Monday, August 25, 2008

Browse: Dogs of War

Browsing through Drawn! today, I came across a link to a blog that showed different satirical illustrations of European maps during World War I. The maps are amazing, both from the historical and artistic point of view. Take a look at them and refresh your knowledge a bit.

You can visit Bibliodessy for more details about these drawings. The picture is linked from their Flickr account.

Digg my article

Sunday, August 24, 2008

29th Metro Manila International Book Fair

Books lovers have another reason to rejoice. The 29th Metro Manila International Book Fair is once again upon us.

The 29th Manila International Book Fair celebrates the power of literature to cross boundaries of time, place and culture, Through books, through language, we can live in a world without borders. In five extraordinary days, we present you with a series of events that expand your horizons, and enrich your ideas, each one carefully crafted and programmed.

Our celebration of books and all that it contains is one of the longest-running in Asia. It is also one of the most accessible and affordable, Through the years, we have welcomed millions of Filipinos to the Manila International Book Fair, which is for everyone of all ages, of all tastes and means and dreams. This year, we are happy to announce that the Book Fair becomes ever more international opening up to other cultures while continuing to champion the best of what Philippine publishing has to offer.

Hmm, hopefully I have enough money for that. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spreading the book love

A few months ago, my best friends and I were talking about our books. It's a big common love we share, and between the three of us, I guess we've amassed enough books to start our own private library. Our tastes are pretty eclectic, but we all love a good romance novel.

I took stock of my collection and realized that I have a lot! I also realised that as time passes, I add more and more to my collection to the point that I don't know where to put them in anymore! My books are spilling over from the bookshelves, from my closet onto the floor. I hate seeing them in a jumble, especially since I try to take extreme care of my books.

With that dilemma and a heavy heart, I sorted my books and decided to let go of a few of them. Believe me, letting any book go is hard! I can't help but look at them fondly and remember the happiness I felt when reading them, and all of a sudden, I don't want to let them go. But I have to.

If you're interested in getting something new to read at a lesser price, you can check out our store over at Multiply. It's called Books and Baubles, and is a collective project between my best friends and myself. We've already let go of several books, and still have some in our inventory. I'm currently sorting out my books again, as I've gotten some new ones and again need the space.

I can guarantee that the books are in good condition, although some may be a bit older, with a few yellowing pages, they were all taken care of by their previous owners. Very few of them are a bit tattered, but we'll tell you up front which ones are. The pictures you'll see are of the actual books, so you can see their actual condition.

For more info, you can look at our FAQ. Happy browsing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy birthday Miss Write!

The Internet is such an amazing thing/place (whichever you want to call it). It has considerably freed up a lot of things, as well as making opportunities available to people that normally would be a bit difficult IRL.

One thing that I find fascinating is meeting people. Browsing and blogging has brought me in contact with people I probably won't meet in my everyday life, being a bit of a hermit and all :p Quite a bit of the people I know now and enjoy talking to, I met online. And being online also helps me keep in touch with friends who live in other places.

One person I met through LiveJournal (though how, I still can't figure out) is Miss Write. I suppose we had common friends in LJ, and one thing led to another until we added each other up to our flists. Oddly enough, I met her sister in a seminar, but I've yet to meet MW in person.

August is her birthday month, and to celebrate, she's holding a contest. Drop by her blog and check out the mechanics. It's pretty easy, and there are great prizes at stake. Join now and give her a great birthday gift, and who knows, you just might wn the prize! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weekend tripping

It was a pretty good weekend. Three days of no work, for for the lucky residents of Quezon City. :D

I went home to the province and got to spend time with my dad, my sister and my youngest brother. Hopefully we can all spend more time together in the future.

I got some new books too, mostly e-books though. I did get some of my old books out of the storage and brought them here to Manila to re-read. Looking forward to doing so.

How was your weekend? :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five

My last post was all about memes, and here we have another one. Friday Five is a long running meme that, you guessed it, comes out on Fridays and as the name implies, comes with five questions. Topics vary, and is also suggested by many of the participants. You have the option to answer questions individually, or in paragraph form. You can even use pictures or illustration to make it more attractive.

For mine, I decided to use the good ol' question and answer kind.

1. What did you last replace batteries for?
Let's see, I gave my brother a few AAA batteries for his mp3 player, but the last thing I remember replacing batteries for was the wallclock (which doesn't work anymore)

2. What have you thrown away that you probably could have had repaired?
The lock for one of the electric fans. Probably could have saved it with super glue, but my mom decided we could make do with something else. So we threw it away.

3. Among items in your line of sight right now, what should probably be put in the trash?
The plastic cover for the straw of the drink my brother drank.

4. When did you last use disposable cutlery while dining in your house?
A few weeks ago, I think, when we got take-out from McDonald's.

5. Whose actions cause you to waste time you otherwise wouldn’t waste?
My own, I think hehe.

Give it a whirl! Visit Friday Five.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

We all do memes. It's a great way to pass time, and if you're stuck with no idea for a blog post, a meme will help you jumpstart.

A weekly meme that I've been doing for a while now is with Booking Through Thursday. As the title suggests, it's a book meme whose question usually is posted on Thursday. It's up to you when you want to answer it (usually before the next Thursday), but being on the +8 GMT timezone, I'm usually one of the few early ones to answer it.

It's not purely about books though. Once in a while, the questions branch out to encompass other fields, but it will more or less circle back to books. Everyone is welcome to join. All you have to do is copy and paste the week's question to your blog, answer it and leave a comment to BTT's entry where other visitors can see it and visit. I usually visit a few of the blogs and make a comment. It's a great way to "meet" people as well as picking up new books to read.

Give it a try! Here's my answer to this week's question: Gold Medal Reading. Or you can read my answers to past questions too. Have fun!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tags: All About Shoes

{Start Copy}

What’s your shoe size? Are your feet the same size as your mom’s feet? How about your sister’s feet? Can you borrow shoes from each other?

Post a picture of your latest shoe buy. Tag the number of women of your shoe size, i.e. size 5 = tag 5 friends. Don’t forget to drop a line in this blog when you’re done.
{End Copy}

At the risk of being ridiculed by my fellow females, I have to admit that I don't really like shopping.

Unless it's for gadgets, books, toys or food, I would much rather stick with what I have and venture out to buy something when I need it. At the times when I do need to buy a dress or any clothing article, I usually have something in mind that I want. When I go to the mall, I look for it, find my size then go home. All done in less than an hour. Browsing a bookstore takes longer for me, I tell you.

Shoe shopping is something I'd rather not do either, unless it's an athletic shoe, sneakers or tsinelas. I remember when I was a kid and we'd be buying shoes for school, I always stick to the same brand and same design until they phased it out. My mother finally convinced me to try Gregg shoes and I was happy that it lasted three years. For my JS Prom, my mom made the unfortunate decision to ask my dad to go along with me. We ended up buying charol for my CAT uniform (picked it out in twenty minutes) before finally deciding on a pair of dress shoes (took us more than an hour).

Oddly enough, I am picky about shoes. Obviously, it shouldn't be small. I don't want it to be exactly the size of my foot either because I know it will still pinch. I usually like to have my shoes one size larger. Besides, it's a lot easier to remedy a big shoe than a small shoe. For work shoes, it has to be flats. No heels, not even half an inch. Believe me, my feet know the difference.

I also walk a lot, that's why I prefer flats to heels; sneakers to pumps or whatever you call them; tsinelas to any sandal that isn't meant for the beach. Once, I borrowed a pair of shoes for a wedding from my best friend, she lent me a glittery, strappy thing with three inch heels. I took one look at it and promptly decided to buy my own pair of slip-on dress sandals that had half-an-inch heels. Still, my feet weren't comfortable.

The kind of shoes I like are usually the athletic wear or casual type. I love the Converse Chuck Taylor ones, or comfy slip on ballet style/kung-fu shoes. Sneakers like Keds are very comfortable, not to mention the ones from Rockport or Naturalizer (if I could afford them, I'd buy a few fancy ones).

I currently have a total of six footwears: two pairs of slippers, one pair of sneakers, one pair of dress shoes and two pairs of for work. The last time I bought one was January, I think. My brothers have more shoes between them than I do, and they get a new pair every few months. One of them even commented that I should go out and buy something. I can't really borrow from my mom because although our feet are close in size, her feet is wider than mine, and when I wear them, they pinch my toes. I can't borrow my sisters because her feet are big (she'll have a better time borrowing from my brothers if she wants to wear their sneakers and rubber shoes).

Picture? Let's just say my shoes look very well worn to be shown in its glory. :)

Tagging: Yvie, Kat A., Krysty, Den, Ching, Jennie, Grace

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Year of Acheron

A year ago, my good friend Den introduced me to Sherrilyn Kenyon's series, Dark Hunters. It is a romance novle series, but a supernatural one at that.

So who are the Dark Hunters?

Dark-Hunters are warriors who have made a bargain with the goddess Artemis: their soul and an eternity of service in exchange for one act of vengeance against the person who caused their untimely death. Their job: to protect humans from Daimons—creatures who live by devouring human souls. Without souls themselves, Dark-Hunters are able to hunt the Daimons undetected, but they must avoid the touch of daylight. Dangerous predators, they walk forever in the night, seeking out the evil that lurks in the shadows. However eternity is a long time and if a Dark-Hunter can pass Artemis’s test, they can return to a normal life (normal being a relative term). Yet if a Dark-Hunter should choose wrongly, something far worse than death awaits him or her... But don’t feel badly for them because these warriors love being the scary things that go bump in the night.

Their backstories can be really more complicated than that, so desribing them in detail may take more time. But in a nutshell, that's what they are.

So, after reading the first book in the series ("Fantasy Lover" which technically isn't really a part of the DH continuity but crosses over to that world. Told you it was complicated), I got hooked. Oh there's the romance, yes, but I enjoyed the fight scenes and the action that you get as the story progresses. Not to mention the fact that Ms. Kenyon describes her characters as... well, I can just imagine them as a lucious chocolate dessert.

What's interesting with the series is that you'll meet characters that you will encounter in future books. Even the "bad" guys get their turn in the spotlight, and you'll be amused at how good they become.

One character you'll encounter in the series is Acheron. His story is so much more complicated than everyone else's, and he's know to hold the Fates (both of the world and of the goddesses themselves) in his hands. Acheron is currently the "boss" of all the Dark Hunters, but very little is known about him.

This month marks the release of Acheron's story.

I finally got my hands on a copy and sped-read like crazy. The Acheron story is done in two parts. The first tells of his past: his birth, his life growing up, his heritage, and how he became to be who he is now. The second part tells of Acheron's new life, how he discovers that he isn't as worthless as he thinks he is, even if people find out who he really is.

And that is all I can say without giving any spoilers. I have to admit that I skipped out so much of the first part. One, because it was too painful to read about Acheron's past (you would really feel sorry for the guy), and two, I really wanted to know who Acheron's partner is, and if she meets the expectations I have (not that I really have any, but due to Acheron's appearance in the past books, it's kind of hard to imagine who will make him a good partner). Lastly, some of the information about Ash was already revealed in the previous books, so delving deeper into his past wasn't something I wanted to do.

I enjoyed this book, as much as I enjoyed the others in this series. Ash acts more human that he has ever had, partly because he finally realized that he was worth something to someone, and that he truly had friends he can count on. I found plenty of funny scenes, especially when Ash, who is normally a very graceful guy, acts really clumsy and so out of character.

Ash's story isn't the end of the series. I don't think Ms. Kenyon will write about all the Dark Hunters and Dream Hunters, but there's still plenty of unresolved conflicts, especially with Ash. So there's still that to look forward to.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Visitation rights

Ever since I put up an Entrecard widget on my other blog, my visits have increased, but only a bit. At first, it was great to see the numbers rising, but after months of that and seeing no comments except for "Dropped here. Hope you can do the same", I realized that people were more interested in the following things:

- Getting more droppers (for the points, I suppose)
- Getting more visitors
- Getting a higher page rank
- Getting more ad revenue

Which isn't bad, especially if you are using your blog as a source of income. I myself have been trying to let the world know about this blog to get those, but not getting any comments on your blog except for exchange links and drop exchange makes me feel that people are more concerned about the numbers game (visits, points, etc) rather than the simple pleasure of writing.

A caller on a radio morning show I listen to said that blogging has changed in the last year or so. The focus nowadays of many who sign up for blogs is now about earning money, wheras before it was just sort of like a personal journal online.

Indeed. When I started blogging in 2003, I was a serial blogger; posting about three to five posts in a day, about anything that pops into mind. My friends from work often visit and once in a while I'd get a note from someone I don't know who has read something I wrote and liked/hated it. It was fun. I don't think I've mellowed over the years, but the purpose is still there: I have something to say, and I want to say it. If you want to react fine. If not, that's ok too.

It just gets to me that there are many visitors who drop by various blogs to drop Entrecards and automatically expect you to do the same... and that's it. Just card drop and goodbye! I check my blog stats and see that the bounce rate is between 75-80% (Google Analytics define bounce rate as "the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page) and is measure of visit quality. A high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren't relevant to your visitors") and visitors often stay for about 2-3 minutes tops. And where are the comments? Zip.

I do Entre-drop, but I do try to read the blogs I pass by. If I find nothing of interest, I just drop and move on. If I see something funny or interesting, then I try to leave a comment. If the blog is good (content, well written etc) then I bookmark it or add it to my RSS reader.

So, what can you do?

When you visit a blog, do take a look through it. If you are using Entrecard, your browser has a link you can click on so the blog opens in a new tab or window. You can find that underneath the navigation buttons.

Browse through the blog and read its contents. Don't just look for the Entrecard widget and drop then leave. Try and see if there's anything interesting to read in that blog. When you do find something, take time to comment. Don't just say, "Hi. Dropped EC, hope you do too," but actually try to say something about the post which caught your interest. Trust me, a nice comment will make the blogger's day and may even score you a higher rate of a visit back, not to mention possible blog readership loyalty.

If the entire blog is interesting, bookmark it or add it to your RSS feeds. Let the owner know how you like it. Visit often and comment as much as you can. You'll not only gain a regular visitor, but you may also get a new friend. I've met several wonderful people via blogs and they're among the nicest people I could ever know. I even met some of them IRL, and that was fun.

Add them to your social media sites like Plurk or Twitter or what-have-you. You don't have to restrict communication via blogs.

Plus, leaving comments will help the blog owner know how to improve the content of his/her blog. Anyone who just gets visits and no comments will wonder and think about ways to get visitors. Tagging people to do a meme gets old, and posting nothing but sponsored posts is liable to turn off more than to attract.

Then again, if truly nothing interests you, move on. No one is forcing you to comment, but don't expect them to visit you back just because you dropped by. Chances are, the same thing will happen. People will visit, stay for a minute or two, then leave.

Happy blog hopping and commenting!

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Mobile reading

I obviously am a bookworm, and I try to read at any chance I can get. However, due to the rising costs of expenses and the lack of financial resources, I don't get to buy the latest releases. A cheaper alternative such as second hand bookstores or swapping my old books is the way to go. Sadly, public libraries are a scarcity here, so that is an option that I haven't really explored yet.

One alternative is ebooks. I have to admit that I am somewhat of a purist, prefering the actual printed and bound book to an electronic one. For one, I like the feel and smell of book. For another, I didn't really have a portable reader so I couldn't carry it around. I still would have to read the books via a computer.

I did have a Sony Ericsson P800, but it could only read text files, which meant a whole lot of converting and editing before I could read one book. HTML was also possible, but sometimes the viewer just won't open.

Since I got my Nokia smartphone, the option for ebooks has expanded considerably. I recently installed Mobipocket ebook reader and loaded the ebooks I had in my digital library. I can now read while on the train, or while waiting in line without the extra weight of a book in my bag.

The Mobipocket reader is easy to use. It is recommended that the Desktop Reader be installed in your PC. This will help you organize and copy ebooks to your mobile phone, where the Mobipocket reader is also installed. The Desktop Reader will detect your phone once it's plugged in and will ask you if you want to tranfer any of the new books you have from PC to phone. It will also convert your files to the mobile format.

The Mobipocket reader responds pretty fast. My settings are at default and I haven't tried tweaking them yey. I like how the software works. Say I was reading something earlier, but had to close it. Or maybe I decided to read a different book for the meantime. When I open the previous book, it will automatically go to the page that I was was in. Neat huh?

The software is free, and the site also offers some free ebooks for download. However, for more mainstream and popular titles from well-known authors, you would have to buy them. Mobipocket's site offers these books, as well as sites like Amazon.

I still prefer actual books, but having this software in my phone is still a big convenience.


Blog browsing: Word Grrls

I was looking through my Entrecard droppers when I came across a blog calld Word Grrls.

As the name suggests, it's a blog that has something to do with words and writing. The label with the most entries is the "writing prompts", where the blog owner, Laura, will give you a scenario or story idea and you can expand on that by providing the dialogue and the ending.

I haven't fully browsed it yet, but with what I've seen so far, it's a pretty good blog to explore. Some of the writing prompts are rather provocative, while a few others are funny and rather cheeky. Methinks I'll give it a try one of these days.

Do check out Word Grrls and try your hand in some creative writing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Laptop wishes

About two years ago, my uncle came home from the U.S. and brought me a laptop. It wasn't new, but rather a Compaq Armada that was upgraded to its maximum capacity, both in software and hardware. It worked very well, and I was ecstatic. But then, my mom asked if she could have it, especially since I recently won a computer in a contest I joined.

I still share the computer at home with my brothers, and I feel so much more at home with my office computer (which goes to show how much time I spend on it daily hehe). Still, I would love to have my own laptop for my use: writing stories, browsing without having to worry about someone trying to get my time, watching DVDs, playing my own games the whole day, reading ebooks...

Yesterday, my mom asked me what would I pick: a MacBook Air, or a Lenovo Thinkpad X300? I don't know why she asked (maybe she's going to be me one? Hehe), but I had read an article about the two ultra thin and light laptops in the newspaper the day before, so I somehow had an idea that she might have read it too. My quick answer would be the Lenovo. My real answer would be, neither.

I find both laptops very expensive (range is Php100,000 and up), especially for their features (or lack of). If I am not mistaken, the Air only has 80 GB hard disk space, which you can't upgrade. There is the option of buying the 64 GB solid state drive or the USB drive, but reviews say it's very expensive too. Neither one has a DVD drive, but you can opt to have one on the x300, just add a few hundred bucks.

I also figured that having a Macbook Air is just going to be a status symbol of sorts, especially here in the Philippines. Useabilitly and practicality is totally out of the question with it. I'd much rather get an ordinary MacBook, or if I'm truly budget strapped, any of the laptops I saw in local computer shops that have adequate specs to meet my requirements, and cost only a quarter of either the Air or x300.

I probably still need to read more about them (not to mention look for more updated reviews), but my general verdict is that I'll get a cheaper, but of still good quality, alternative; and if I want a Mac, the regular MacBook will work just fine.

Thinkpad x300 at
Thinkpad specs
Apple MacBook Air at Cnet
Missing MacBook Air features
MacBook Air specs

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Writing for oDesk

I decided to jump in on the online work force a few months ago. My friend Denise was a writer for an offshore company, and though she was earning good money from that, she wasn't happy with what she was doing. Given that she had a lot of free time, she decided to look for online writing jobs. Her feedback is positive, and that encouraged me to take the plunge.

I signed up for oDesk, but it took me a while to get my profile up and running. I made an account just when they rolled in their new system, so I had to take the oDesk readiness test. Thankfully, I passed it and I was on the Top 10%.

I didn't really apply for any jobs just yet, because I didn't feel like I was ready. I was surprised when someone left me a note inviting me for an interview. Figuring that I won't lose anything, I gave it a shot.

I am now working as a freelance writer for an architectural and interior design site. The work is light, and it involves mostly research about designers and their work. It's been almost a month since I started and it's going along pretty well. My employers are great; they're online most of the time and I can easily ask them questions about my work even if they're located on the other side of the world an on opposite timezones. My teammates are helpful, and one of the is like my "mentor" who sends me updates and tips on how to maximize the quality of my work. Payment is done in a timely manner too, so that's a plus.

My experience with oDesk is good. Some people don't seem to be happy with the software the site requires its providers to install. I do however, find it a rather fair way to monitor one's work hours and methods. I wouldn't want to pay anyone for not really doing their work, and I also wouldn't want to give out shabby work to my employers. However, this method may not work for everyone, so I do advise you to proceed at your own discretion. I haven't compared it with other systems, so I don't really know what is the standard.

Recently, another company offered me a job as a web content writer. I was really stoked to get more invites, however, I had to decline it. Still, it was great to see that my profile was being looked at, and that I do have the skills that many companies are looking for. As soon as this project is finished, I'll check on some new ones.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Pinoy writers in top Asian Lit awards

Four Filipino writers are on top of the second Man Asian awards. Released last July 22, the list includes Alfred Yuson with his novel The Music Child; Ian Rosales Casocot, with Sugar Land; Miguel Syjuco, with Ilustrado; and Lakambini A. Sitoy, nominated for Sweet Haven.

The Man Asian Literary Prize is an annual literary award for Asian novels unpublished in English. The first award given was to Chinese writer Jiang Rong for his novel Wolf Totem in November 2007.

Filipinos dominate Asian literary awards long list
Man Asian favours the Phillipines
Man Asian Literary Prize

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Work at home: Stress?

I have subscribed to Dumb Little Man for life tips and hacks, and general fun reading. Today, they have a post about beating stress when working from home. It is true that many office workers are of the impression that working from home should be relatively stress free, but there are those (pro-bloggers, freelancers, etc) who say that it really isn't.

In that same article at DLM, there's a link to a New York Times article called "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop". Here, the writer talks about the lifestyle of several at home workers, specifically bloggers. He also talks to Micheal Arrington, founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, and Matt Buchanan of Gizmodo.

Take note that the Philippine lifestyle is different from that of the United States. Still, the article is a good read for those who work (and wish to work) at home. One's health and well being is very important, and no amount of money earned can ever compete with that.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adsense alternatives?

Recently, I received a letter from Google saying that my Adsense account has been disabled. I haven't really checked my account in days, and I often do so only when I remember that I have one.

Like anyone who has experienced a cancellation of this service, I was told that in a recent review of their subscribers, my account had some invalid click activity that was a threat to their advertisers, hence the cancellation. According to the FAQ, I have a chance to appeal my case, but many blogs say that the chance of that is slim. But I did submit a request for re-activation anyway.

Still, it's a shame to see it deactivated. Last I checked, I was nearing the $60 mark. That took me nearly a year to accumulate, given that my blog is a personal one and I don't really have much readers except my friends and other online contacts.

So I decided to look for Adsense alternatives. I found a few sites (that's four links, people) that gave a list of their top ten choices. Being outside the U.S., I need one that is valid in my country. So far, my choices are limited. I also decided to check out local pro-bloggers for suggestions. I'm more successful in that search.

Hopefully, I can get those ads up and running.

Edit: An hour after I submitted a request for reactivation, I received a note saying that my request was denied. I wonder if they actually took a look at it or they just have an auto response for that? Oh well, on to the alternatives.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Updating in progress

That's right! I'm planning to upgrade this blog. Hopefully I can get it up and running before the month ends. I'm pretty excited. :D


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Technorati Profile

I recently changed the URL of this blog, therefore I have to re-claim it at Technorati.