A busted Apple AirPort Express

Today, our Apple AirPort Express died. According to my mother, who was the sole witness to this event, a loud “pop” came from the device and the rest was history. No more green light, no activity, nothing.

The Experience

This thing gave us our first taste of wi-fi and the small sucker really made things easy. We are not really Mac users, only my sister is, and I thought I would have had a hard time setting this thing up with our computers. This thing ranks up high in my definition of Plug & Play. Other than that, the reception was quite good, it did not reach our second floor but we did not really care as long as it covered the whole first floor.

Farewell

So after about 15 months of continuous usage, it finally died. We did not turn this thing off (is that necessary?) except for the ocassional restart and Milenyo. We were not even able to use the AirTunes and the Wireless Print functions. But, I say it served us well. We would have had this thing repaired but since our lives depend on the internet and the nearest Apple service center is not really near, we just bought a new and different router.

Havaianas not so much

Enter Havanas

The Philippines’ answer to an overpriced, over-hyped trend that is nothing more than your average tsinelas. At only Php 60 a pair, 1/6th the price of real Havaianas, Havanas are made to look exactly like Havaianas. The logo written in the same font, the flags, the color combinations. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve already fooled with this. Add that to my rich-kid-looking feet and who would believe I’d wear nothing but the originals. Plus, after letting them into the secret, conversations would always end with laughter. Can your Havaianas make people laugh?

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A blog category for my projects

I have decided to add a category for my projects (sites) to add a more personal feel to them. Aside from the usual Site Updates and News which can be located within the sites, this new blog category will have a more in-depth reporting of what I am currently doing with my projects and why. I might also include some promotion and monetization techniques as well as those that failed.

I guess creating a list page for my projects would make sense.

What a night in One Side

Last night I decided to pay One Side in Mabini, Malate a visit. I’ve heard so many good things about this billiard hall and I also went there during the the World Pool Championship (usually around 11 p.m.) but most times I would end up forgetting I was wearing my trusty Havana’s. They are really strict with the whole dress code thing.

In one night I was able to witness a Francisco Bustamante vs. Jeff de Luna 10-ball match, an Alex Pagulayan vs. Dennis Orcullo 10-ball match, a Darren Appleton (what’s he still doing here?) vs. Jharome Pena 9-ball match and a Bert Dy (Bert Pasay) vs. a young up-and-comer (sorry first time I saw him) 10-ball, with a 9-10 handicap, match. There was also this other table featuring 2 more tiradors, the one’s name is at the tip of my tongue. Simultaneously! And believe me, the class and skills they show in money-games are nothing compared to the tournaments. Pool-heaven-post-WPC galore.

The new server – Dual Xeon Dempsey 3.0

I guess upgrading is inevitable in this business. For some time now my old Pentium IV 3.0 has been having problems keeping up with site traffic. My CPU load (in WHM) has been shooting up to 30! Although that old server was also under high DDOS attacks, we were able to minimize the attacks by some scripts and by installing APF and BFD. However, it still could not keep up.

Enter the new server

Dual Processor, Xeon Dempsey 5050 (with Hyper-Threading) 3.0GHz (4 x 2MB cache) with 2 GB FB-DIMM Ram and 2 x 250GB SATA II Drives. This in theory mimics 8 processors.

Already I’m seeing an increase in speed (site loading) and a decrease in CPU usage. But I’m also already thinking I made a mistake by not getting 2 separate lower spec’d servers. Why? I do not know. Why I did not get an AMD? I do not know. But still, this thing is adequate enough. I hope it can keep up much longer since server costs are killing me.

Our champion – Ronnie Alcano

He is the world champion. Ronato Alcano, recently nicknamed “The Volcano”, a native of Calamba, Laguna, has won the World Pool Championship at age 34. He defeated Ralf Souquet of Germany earlier today by 6 racks in a race to 17 (alternate breaks 17-11). He is also the 3rd Filipino to win the championship – Efren Reyes in 1999 and Alex Pagulayan in 2004.

Alcano’s World Pool Experience

In the group stages, Ronnie only won 1 of 3 games. In his first game, he lost to Luong Chi Dung of Vietnam 7-8. In his second game, he lost to Christian Reimering of Germany 3-8. Heavily unfancied to qualify, he needed to win 8-2 (a tall order) in his 3rd qualifying match against Marcel Martens of the Netherlands. Obviously he was able to accomplish this and because of the three-way tie in his group (28) he qualified via “racks lost”. His was 18 and the next player’s (Christian Reimering) was 19. He then proceeded to the knockout-stages beating Roberto Gomez (Philippines) 10-1, Efren Reyes 10-7, Kuo Po-cheng (Taiwan) 11-5, Wu Chia-ching (Taiwan) 11-6 and finally Li He-wen (China) 11-8 before proceeding to the finals.

The Finals

Alcano’s soft-break-with-a-twist proved to be his main arsenal for the final match. He hit the balls softly from the left side of the table which led to the wing ball dropping in the top left corner but he also drew the cue ball back which would hit either the long left rail or the short back rail and finally settling on the the lower middle part of the table. The one ball would always end up in the absolute middle wherein he would have a shot to the side or to the end corner. The final match was sort of one-sided and at one-time he led 8-2. The closest that Souquet got was 14-9. In the last rack, Alcano broke but he did not have a shot on the 1-ball. He then played a tight safety which Souquet broke. He played another safety which Souquet fouled, leaving him a 1-9 combination shot worth $100,000 for the championship.

What I know about Ronnie

I have been following Ronnie’s game since I first saw him play a tournament in Gameworx (Festival Mall Alabang circa 2001). He did not win that tournament (Antonio Lining did), but I was impressed at his shot-making. This made me curious about this tall, lanky man of about 6-feet. I would hear stories about a certain “Ronnie Calamba” but I did knot know him by that monicker until he started appearing in local televised matches. One incident I can’t forget was when he was competing against Edgar Acaba in Metropolis and he was about to shoot the winning 9-ball but before he did, he raised his cue to signify his victory but he missed the 9. Edgar ended up winning the game!

I also remember watching him play against Django (Francisco Bustamante) in Astrobowl, Magallanes. The game was rotation he was given a handicap of 50-70. Django was about to win, it was a hill-hill match for Php 50,000, but he missed a ball. Ronnie then cleared the table. I also won Php 1,000 from that match because I bet for Ronnie (side bet). At that time he was using a Viking production cue.

In the World Pool Championship I could have sworn that I saw the Viking logo in his cue but sources tell me that it was a borrowed cue from a certain Ariel Carmelli because his custom was still in the making.

I also know that Ronnie is mischievous from “dropping” money games. I’ve heard this from a couple of sources but I do not have any proof. I also heard that he has a case in the U.S. for this but again, I’m not sure. What I do know is, even if he did such things in the past, winning a World Championship will change the man a lot (both financially and mentally) and I expect to see a humble and definitely more-talented Ronnie minus the negative comments in the future.

Ronnie Alcano image

A week’s excuse not to blog

The World Pool Championships. Held here in Manila and of the tournament’s nine days I was there for four. It was a blast. I was there the first day and the by the first glimpse of the whole setup it was pool nirvana. 128 of the world’s best players, 21 of which are from the Philippines, 1 main television table, 1 secondary television table, 4 more (un-televised) match tables and 4 practice tables. Even from the the organizers point of view, the PICC Convention Center was made as if it was meant for this event. I was also there on the third (Monday), fourth and sixth day.

Today it was the semi-finals and although the heavily favored and favorited Efren Reyes did not make it to this point, a Filipino by the name of Ronnie Alcano has entered the finals! I’m sure you pool fans are familiar with him and for those who are not, he has been campaigning under the shadows of Bata and Django for a couple of years now and has also won Rookie of the Year in 2003. He was also the one who eliminated Efren earlier in the tournament. This is also a special treat for me since I’m known by my pool friends to have always been a follower of Ronnie’s game. He will battle Ralf Souquet of Germany tomorrow at 2 p.m.

A view from the top - World Pool Championship in PICC

More pictures here

The Suffering

I’m an obsessive-compulsive. I’m not an obsessive-compulsive. I’m an obsessive-compulsive.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychiatric disorder; more specifically, it is an anxiety disorder. It is manifested in a variety of forms, but is most commonly characterized by a subject’s obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or rituals) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.

So where’s the fun in that? But how many times have you heard people say “I’m an OC” or “I’m really OC about… (Add any movie-popularized display of OCD here).” These people jump at any opportunity to brag and display their obsessive-compulsive personality. They might be obsessed and compulsive, but this in no way is a disorder. To make sure things are at absolute right angles to each other, that’s just a good sense of neatness. Intense hand-washing, that’s just cleanliness. Repetition and other ritualistic behaviors such as counting your steps or double or triple-checking that your appliances are turned off are just boredom and a sense of safety for the latter.

Although these are all symptoms of someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), publicly basking in these activities or even being caught doing one of them does not swing with a clinically-diagnosed sufferer. And that’s exactly what it is – a suffering. An obsessive-compulsive is very much aware of his abnormality; and, like any normal human being, they can function surprisingly “normal” in the real world. The Obsession is what bewilders the mind. Most often than not, these obsessions are irrational and insignificant. For example, obsessing over neatness and cleanliness; a sufferer will most likely have a set of rules or standards that even the cleanest of places can not comply with. The sufferer is aware that his or her demands are outrageous; but, can not stop obsessing about it. To stop obsessing therefore, he must act in ways that are abnormal and time consuming – The Compulsion.

The compulsion really is just a way of escaping the obsession – which is really strong and persistent, that although it is just a product of the mind, it sometimes presents itself as a physical feeling; for example, literally feeling dirt for someone obsessive about cleanliness. It’s pretty much a balancing act of neutralizing a strong obsession with an outrageous compulsion. And this goes on and on everyday, consuming at least an hour’s total daily to a sufferer. It’s a battle. It’s chaos within oneself.

A sufferer never ceases to attempt to win the battle over his unworldly obsessions. But more often than not, attempting to win a battle over one’s mind is time-consuming and depressing as well, that the sufferer submittingly chooses the compulsion side. In his mind, it’s a case of let’s get it over and done with.

The suffering; imagine a smoker fully aware of his unhealthy behavior – he obsesses about smoking and satisfies his obsession by lighting a cigarette. The same is true with an obsessive-compulsive; only, the smoker feels pleasure in smoking, while the sufferer in his compulsion does not.

This condition affects the sufferer’s personal life, his daily duties, his ability to make decisions and think straight; especially when the compulsion itself is also within the mind -for example, counting by pairs, grouping items imaginatively or canceling out bad thoughts with good thoughts.

Still, the sufferer wishes to be treated as a normal person, and because of this he tends to hide his erratic behavior to the public. Not being able to do his compulsion in public literally drains the sufferer. One might hide away from view or sometimes load up in compulsion to satisfy his obsession longer. For example – the need to make the body feel equal, in a long and packed car trip, one’s right arm might be directly in front of the air conditioning vent. Normally, to make things “feel” equal, the sufferer will turn his body over to cool his left arm. Since the car is packed, he cannot simply ask whoever’s beside him to move so he can turn his body. He’s also ashamed of this as well. In the next stopover, the sufferer might take a cold drink from the cooler and literally freeze his left arm with it, so when they drive again, the air vent cooling the right arm is just “equalizing” the already very cold left arm.

If you experience some minor symptoms, do not will yourself yet as someone with OCD. Get clinical opinion. Sometimes people come off gallivanting their obsessive-compulsiveness as way to be seen differently. But, unless it is the real disorder, the only thing an obsessive-compulsive ever wants is to stop seeing him as different.

I’m an obsessive-compulsive. I’m not an obsessive-compulsive. I’m an obsessive-compulsive. I’m not an obsessive-compulsive.

My take on Sky Cable’s ZPDee

I love it. Used to be a Destiny user, have also tried PLDT myDSL (both at home & office), SMART WiFi, and who could forget Sky Internet (Dial-Up, now that sucked at service and speed big time!)

But I’m sticking with ZPDee for now at least. We first switched to ZPDee from Destiny because at that time, Destiny was also providing our cable TV. But then they got wise and removed all the wonderful channels like STAR World, ESPN, etc., we decided to switch to Sky Cable and hence to avail of the discount for TV and Cable internet, we switched ISP’s as well. Not that Destiny’s cable internet was one to deserve my praise, I was surprised at how better ZPDee’s service was. And for them to match the downtrend of their competitors prices was a big plus for me. Now at an affordable Php 999 per month (384 kbps, their cheapest is Php 690 for 64 kbps), plus the 15% we get from being a Sky Cable subscriber, I would say their service and uptime is worth it. Our total downtime for 3 years is only around 6 days, 4 of which happened during my father’s death. Now who’s to say that was not my father taking away all possible distractions from us mourning him? I think so. Other than that, other downtimes are minimal would only last hours at a time.

AVG Anti-Virus is still free!

During the last update, I seem to have been under the impression that my AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition will expire in January 2007. After updating, a pop-up will appear saying that your AVG 7.1 edition will expire on January 2007 and it is versed (very well) in such a way that users will think that AVG is ending their free service (which usually happens when a software company has accumulated loads of followers) for life. At least that’s what I, a couple of colleagues, and apparently some international forumers as well (Googled) thought. Following the link from the pop-up will also land you in a very confusing page that was not really meant for us free users.

It’s still free.

What we only need to know is that version 7.1 will cease to be free in January 2007 but the latest version (7.5) will still be free. All one needs to do is to upgrade to 7.5.

To upgrade to 7.5:

1. Go to http://free.grisoft.com/.
2. Click on Downloads.
3. Go to Installation files & documentation.
4. Download the appropriate file and look for Update of AVG 7.1 to 7.5 (Additional instructions there)