Wednesday, October 26, 2005

[Blog Entry] This Week's "Links" Entry...

This Week's "Links" Entry...

According to The Guardian, I should be popular by now. Because apparently, books are the new status symbols. At least in Europe.

Dean Alfar has something to rejoice. One is Canada's Speculative Fiction site, while the other is an article by The Independent, which does an article on a self-published writer who's now picked up by a publisher. Sounds familiar? Of course the story tells an interesting marketing tactic for would-be self-publishers.

For movie fans, here's a big trailer of Narnia. I hope you're on broadband!

Here are notes for the sequels to Pirates of the Carribean and Underworld. As far as sequels go, fans might say goodbye to the lead actor of Harry Potter.

Lastly, the George Perez covere for Infinite Crisis #2 is up.

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[Plug] Comics Comics

Comics Comics

Glass House Graphics Asia & Studio Sakka COMICBOOK SEMINAR

October 29 &30, 2005
SM Megamall, Bldg. B
Megatrade Conference Center Room B
10:00 am to 7:30 pm

Seminar Speaker: Mr. David Campiti

Tickets at Php 1,000.00 (includes food for two-day seminar)

Reservations and inquiries, call: 912 5028 (Glasshouse Graphics Asia Office)

0916 6458660 (Beth Rivera/ Seminar Coordinator)

Visprint's "MyFavoriteEver!" Book Signing Day

Powerbooks Live!, Greenbelt 4, Makati
October 28, Friday
3pm to 6pm

At the event...

Manix Abrera (Kiko Machine Komix 1)

David Hontiveros (Penumbra)

Carl Vergara (Zsazsa Zaturnnah)

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[Blog Entry] PLDT DSL Problems

PLDT DSL Problems

My family smartened up and finally got a DSL connection (hey, they're the ones paying the bills, not me) last Monday. Usually, I'd be there to supervise whatever installation occurs. Because in the end, it falls down to me to troubleshoot.

Of course since it was installed, I've been encountering some problems. Mainly the fact that I can't access some sites. JM Ibanez tackles the problem well. What it means for me is that I have "sporadic" access to sites that get affected, which unfortunately includes my email (yahoo). Other sites including various blogspot blogs (because blogs have lots of headers), certain bulletin boards,, and certain other websites (sorry, I don't surf for porn, so I don't know if they should be affected). I suspect the place I go to chat doesn't work as well.

Working for customer service before, the big problem about complaining is that these problems aren't reproducable. What I mean by that is I can't consistently prove to them that there's a problem. Sporadic is sometimes worse than never working at all.

While JM does put up good points, the case at home is something more difficult. Theoretically, users of Windows XP shouldn't be having problems. We have two computers at home, one running on Windows 2000 (mine) and another Windows XP (my sister's). I have a firewall (ZoneAlarm) and I thought that used to be the problem. Turned it off, reset my cookies, and still same problem. Tested it on my sister's computer and apparently she has the same problem as well (and she doesn't have a firewall).

What gives big problems is the fact that my family availed of PLDT's new wireless service, which means I'm using WiFi for my broadband. While paying P999 for 256k is cheap, I suspect that's partially causing the problem. (So now I look forward going to work in order to check email and check other people's blogs). And if you're suggesting we switch providers, you're locked into PLDT for one year. And we just got it a few days ago.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

[Essay] Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the Unknown

As much as we’ve made lots of discoveries over the past few decades, human beings will never abolish ignorance... and the fears that come along with it. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of things we won’t know, and probably will never know. Some people, however, fret about this uncertainty.

I believe that within each human being is a desire for knowledge. It’s not an infinite well though, and some people are content with knowing certain things and ignorant of others. My mother, for example, while claims she’s interested in learning about the latest technologies, show’s no real interest in it. As long as she can use her mobile phone, program the VCR, and order us children to check her email, that’s fine. The only time she persists in being up to date is when me and my sister leaves he house. My mom wants to know where I’m going and what time I’m coming home, even if I myself don’t know the details. Just the other day, I went to a nearby Internet Cafe three streets away from our village. Immediately my mom came calling, disrupting my reverie (as much as playing games in a noisy venue can be called a reverie). Never mind the fact that I’ve been to that place several times in the past, or the fact that it’s walking distance from my home. Did I mention there are security guards outside the Internet Cafe, because it’s right next to a bank?

Their fears are the result of ignorance, which in turn gives rise to paranoia. The paranoia, however, is not the product of ignorance but human creativity. Some children (and even some adults) fear the dark. What’s so scary about darkness? It is a natural phenomenon after all; the sun rises in the morning, and sets in the evening. What’s the big deal about the night? Why is it usually associated with evil or unspeakable horrors? Mainly because the darkness conceals, it shrouds something with mystery. What’s horrible about ignorance is that people seldom leave it at that. They try to piece things together, whether it’s factual or not. Why do we have myths? Because people tried to piece together how the world worked. Why do we gossip? Because we pretend to be knowledgeable about someone or something. Of course this pseudo-knowledge must come from somewhere. That’s where our imagination comes in. Why are most myths fantastical? Because that’s what our minds could imagine. Why does gossip often stray from the truth? Because we replace facts with theories, conjectures, and conclusions. And why is darkness scary? Because the darkness is like a blank canvas, and we fill it with fears we would otherwise not have thought of.

That’s not to say fear of the unknown is a bad thing. It’s what drives us to attain knowledge after all, to be well informed. However, it is capable of conquering us, breeding in us seeds of paranoia and despair. We have the saying “better safe than sorry.” In one application, it’s good since we take precautions to cover our ignorance. It’s like bringing an umbrella on a sunny day, especially when we haven’t heard the weather forecast. On another, it can be a drawback. We might make too many precautions that we might never accomplish what we set out to do. It could be going on a camping trick but packing everything you need, from the refrigerator to the kitchen sink.

The thing about uncertainty is that we should accept it. There will always be some things we’ll never know. It’s like studying for an exam. No matter how much you study, there’ll be a point where you won’t know what questions your teachers will ask. Rather than spend 24 hours a day studying, just study all you need to study (whether it takes you 2 hours or 15 minutes), and stop worrying about it. What will come will come. The opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but trust. Trust in your own skills. Trust in a higher being. Trust in your friends, your children, your parents. And more importantly, trust in humanity. How many times have you heard a parent saying to their child “It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s all those other bastards out there I don’t trust!”? If the parent truly believes that, then why bother living in that society? Move to another village, state, or country. But in the end, the same problems will arise. I’m not saying trust everyone you meet, but one can’t obviously live a life where you distrust everybody and everything.

What’s the best way to combat ignorance? Equip yourself with knowledge. When that fails, equip yourself with trust. And if your fears still come true, accept your fate, and learn to deal with it the best way you see fit. I can’t prepare for everything, but I can expect the unexpected.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

[Blog Entry] Surprising History

Surprising History

Every now and then, I make a post that people don’t expect. Or I reveal a facet of my life that catches them completely off-guard. Anyway, here’s a list of facts about me that I’m sure some people know about, but not everything that’s mentioned.

The Ironic Things

1) I used to play a music instrument and was actually part of the high school Glee club. I’m currently working for Pulp magazine and the now-defunct MTV Ink. Of course the surprise is that a) I don’t watch MTV, b) I don’t listen to the radio, c) I don’t listen to music, at least conventional music, and d) karaoke is my worst nightmare, because I simply don’t know any of the songs that’s being played.

2) I was news editor of our high school paper, and even spent a day or two editing at the Philippine Star offices during summer. Of course it has to be said that I don’t read the newspaper, and it’s only this year that I actually started doing so (because I need to do so for work).

3) Many people associate me with books, but the fact of the matter is, I only started reading novels at around thirteen or fourteen. Before that, I was immersing myself with video games, game magazines, and TV. I’m not really a well-red person, and my only introduction to the classics were books required by school (whether in high school or college).

4) Some might think I’m Mr. Popular, thanks to all the people I know. I spend many lonely nights though, and I was pretty unpopular as a kid, earning the enmity of my entire class, and a virtual reject of our high school. In college, I’d be hanging out at the library steps, away from my other blockmates. And of course, I even have worse luck with girls.

5) While I’m clearly of Chinese descent, I can’t speak Chinese to save my life. In fact, my Japanese (as rudimentary as it is) is probably better than my Chinese.

6) I graduated with degree in Creative Writing, but one of my favorite subjects was actually Math and Physics. In high school, I also liked Chemistry, as well as programming. Of course it also needs to be mentioned that I’ve flunked Math and Science. Another interesting factoid is that in grade school and high school, my highest grades were in CLE (Christian Life Education). In college, the one subject that I failed was Theology.

My Hobbies

1) My first love was video games, everything from Street Fighter to Final Fantasy to Contra to Golden Axe to Mega Man to Simcity. And yes, Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. In grade school, I was either at the arcades, or playing at a friend’s house.

2) Then I switched to Collectible Card Games (CCGs), more specifically Magic: The Gathering. I played the game thoroughly, subscribing to magazines and the like. Fondest memory was probably in the three tournaments that I played, I was a semi-finalist in one of them.

3) Sometime between both of those, I was also into comics. I was originally a Marvel fan, reading everything from Secret Wars to Infinity Gauntlet to the Dark Phoenix Saga. Later exploits in the DC Universe include Zero Hour, the Batman: Knightfall story arc, Superman’s Death and Return, and the Eclipso saga.

4) Shortly before I got into CCGs, me and my friend started reading fantasy novels. The first fantasy book I read was (sorry, not Lord of the Rings) Scions of Shanarra, thus I finished the quartet. After breezing through Terry Brooks, I got into David Eddings, which my friend had a complete collection, and then Wheel of Time which a friend recommended. Of course my tastes now is something less mainstream.

5) While I claim that I was always an anime fan, I shifted into high gear somewhere during high school. Back then, cosplays and conventions weren’t that prevalent, although I did attend the conventions which managed to mix my interests (comics, CCGs, anime, etc.). Also volunteered with film showings at UP. And then anime got the attention it deserved, and friends who were anime fans soon became cosplayers more than anything else.

6) In college, rediscovered pen-and-paper RPGs, notably Dungeons and Dragons. Had a blast playing it.

7) Again somewhere in between, I somehow found the time to learn the rules of miniatures game Warhammer 40K, play several other CCGs, read comics like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, the occasional arcade game shoot-em-up, and built Gundam model kits.

8) A reunion of sorts with my batchmates (none of which are my classmates) from high school, we’d meet up to play various LAN games, whether it’s Rainbow Six, Starcraft, or whatever multiplayer game we could get our hands on. Later I took up RTS seriously and became a very good player at Warcraft III.

9) These days, I’m a hodgepodge of all my previous hobbies, and committed to a few that rotates every so often. I also gave up TV to spend more time doing everything else, from writing blog entries to reading books.

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