Freewares Online

My mother’s 2-year old PC remains almost in its pristine condition. Until now, the only files that got updated or added are pictures. And normally, it is always us who did the downloading every time we pay them a visit especially during December. The whole year round she uses it only to get connected to us through emails.

Having used it again for this week’s short vacation, I had mixed feelings when I discovered about its almost untouched state. I feel happy that at least she haven’t installed any bootleg software but at the same time I feel a bit frustrated as it still obviously lacks MS Office, photo editors, file compression and other tools that I need to post blog and also share pictures to my distant sister who always craves to see what’s happening back here. So instead of wishing I have another $100 to shed for a genuine MS Office installer, I checked the web for what might be legally free so I can proceed with my business of blogging, editing, and uploading of pics.

Fortunately, my web search became fruitful enough and with the help of my mother’s PLDT Vibe connection I diligently spent some time checking these freebies:

*OpenOffice. This is an underdog with a surprising package compared to Microsoft’s Office. I’ve heard about this before from a friend who is an OSS (Linux) fan. But since I have a genuine MS Office software back then, I ignored the existence of a free OpenOffice. Now, after downloading the 150MB plus file, I became a fan. I never knew that this free software will match that of its Microsoft counterpart. In fact, I’m now using its Writer for this blog post and I find the interface and features not so far apart from MS Word. It has all the basics such as spell checker, formatting buttons and what surprised me most is that it also has an autorecovery feature–no need to worry when the PC shutdowns after the baby has pressed on some buttons in.

*GIMP 2. It’s short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. I downloaded this free photo editor with the intention of just resizing the large image files for an easy Flickr.com upload. It came as a surprise when I saw that this one is almost the same with my Canon photo editor. One cool feature I find is its ability to scale an image just by selecting the scale button and then dragging the corners of the picture. During the process, a window shows the aspect ratio of the file so that one can stop at the desired size. The downside of this software though is that it’s a bit slow and cannot accommodate multiple files in an instant. File size: 15MB.

*VSO Image resizer. Now this one means business when the job is just about resizing. VSO resizes multiple files in a jiffy. Period. This one is highly recommended. File size: 6MB.

With these files I now feel that I’m getting hooked to legit online freewares. I’m now looking for a free screen grabber but so far the one that I’ve downloaded (sreengrabberinstall.zip) seems to be a disappointment as its installation requires another file. Anyway, the three files that I have mentioned may be enough for now. Somehow, this just proves the cliché  the best things in life are free.

***

I said to mark the word diligently when using PLDT Vibe’s connection. Why? That’s because it did not perform to my expectation. My mother has a P999 plan and it’s supposed to have at least 500kbps (or even more) connection speed but upon using speedtest.net’s tester it only yields 196kbps download speed. My Digitel connection at home can even match that at some point and my subscription plan is just for 128kbps. I have doubts now if I’ll change DSL provider next year. Ti abi.

***

Mood: 3/10Honks!

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Home Again

“Great things come in small packages” – anonymous

This afternoon I woke up from a long nap and being half awake half asleep, I strolled around the yard. Coming from a distance, I heard a familiar music playing that reminds me where I’m currently at.

The music was Life Dance followed by another which I’m quite sure I heard decades ago when both are still the in thing among the youngsters. I hate to admit it but I was one of the fans of these songs. My guilty pleasures, then and now. After catching myself pausing briefly to listen to the music which I know for a fact and based on experience, are all coming from a baylehan (dance/fiesta area) as we call it, I began to remember that prior to my mandatory siesta, we actually just had our son’s baptismal.

This event, thankfully, happened after one postponement due to a problem we encountered when we initially scheduled it in my wife’s place back in Batangas. This time, it was finally realized and despite bits of snags, upsets and confusions before and during the ceremony. Thirty minutes after the baptismal rites and photo ops, we ended at Imay’s restaurant where a simple yet fulfilling celebration with our closest family and neighbors took place.

I’m now still groggy and trying my best not to blame it either to the brandy I had nor the jet lag since we arrived yesterday lunch time. But deep inside I feel happy as after all the excitement from welcoming Marcus to the Christian world, I suddenly remember that also today is our father’s 75th and likewise my 35th birthday. Right now, I can’t think of a better way to be home again in Bacolod.

Baby window

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks!

In English Please

My recent blogging inactivity did not keep me away from English. Instead, what I lacked in English writing was compensated by opportunities that compelled me to speak the language which I always thought has been my forte. I was wrong. I once again realized that English remains foreign.

When I was in grade school, I was among those who would rather speak than compute if I can avoid it. I was always more comfortable filling pages after pages of theme writing compositions than competing with someone else in the mathematical flash cards race. I did well in English than math. I just love words more than numbers.

It wasn’t surprising then when I jumped into the blogging bandwagon right after I got hold of my own internet connection at home. I dumped my pens and paper journals. And although I only rate myself as among those considered average in terms of English skills, it didn’t deter me to post my entries in the form of blogs. Practice, practice, practice was my mantra.

So just imagine how excited I was when I found a couple of perfect excuses to speak English. First, our son’s arrival meant that my much awaited time to teach English to someone came. And I find it funny that while he’s learning the basics—alphabet, words, and vowels — I on the other hand was silently relearning most of it. I correct myself every time I pronounced a word wrong. Second, l attended a training last week wherein our instructor was Tenora—a black American with a doctorate degree. Obviously in this training, interactions were all in English.

Other than learning how to become a good manager by using the Symphony/Conductor metaphor, I also began to make a conscious effort to get my message across by trying to speak up every time I had the chance. And just as I was persecuting myself for the mispronunciations I regularly had, I was quite surprised when at one point Tenora had to write something on the flip chart and seemed to have doubts whether she’s spelling the words right. Sensing that some of us might be looking at her, she admitted that often times she’d falter when it comes to writing. She even joked that someone once said, “Only a wise person spells one word in different ways.” She’s not sure if it was from Thomas Jefferson. Whoever it was, at that point, I was smiling. Nodding. Well, I can’t be that bad then.

***

One of the newspaper clippings I keep until now is a poem which Philstar’s Mary Ann Quioc Tayag posted on her February 13, 2005 article: So what if my English sounds funny? This one is like a year of speech class com- pressed in one tiny clipping. Here it is:

Hints on pronunciation for foreigners (by TSW) I take it you already know

Of tough and bough and cough and dough? Others may stumble, but not you

On hiccough, thorough, laugh and through? Well done! And now you wish perhaps

To learn of less familiar traps? Beware of heard, a dreadful word

That looks like beard and sounds like bird. And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead

For goodness sake don’t call it deed! Watch out for meat and great and threat,

They rhyme with suite and straight and debt. A moth is not a moth in mother

Nor both in bother, broth in brother And here is not match for there

Nor dear and fear for bear and pear

And then there’s dose and rose and lose

Just look them up – – and goose and choose And cork and work and card and ward

And font and front and word and sword And do and go and thwart and cart Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start! A dreadful language? Man alive,

I’d mastered it when I was five.

***

And here’s a hilarious poem I found while searching related topics:

I have a spelling checker

It came with my PC

It plainly marks for my revue Mistakes I cannot sea

I’ve run this poem threw it I’m sure your please to no, It’s letter perfect in it’s weigh My checker tolled me sew

– anonymous

(Source: http://www.etni.org.il/quotes/spelling.htm)

***

Oh by the way, I also tried searching for Thomas Jefferson’s quote related to spelling and what I find is completely opposite to what Tenora mentioned:

“Take care that you never spell a word wrong.  Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.” – Thomas Jefferson, to his daughter Martha.

(Source:      http://www.wisdomquotes.com/cat_spelling.html)

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Wife and baby sleeping)

 

We Are Now Parents

baby blogger
Baby blogger

It’s been a week already since we welcomed a third member at home. He’s the reason every routine changed completely. On his very first day at home I realized soon enough that despite the long preparation—mind setting, shopping of baby stuffs, reading of articles about having a baby, and other things we did to prepare for such day—we still seem to be overwhelmed by the mere presence of a little boy.

This little boy whom we’ve anticipated–like normal parents would–since early this year has taken charge of our lives. Now our sleeping and waking hours depended on his. My brewed coffee turned cold. Other meals have been skipped. AXN has been traded with Cartoon Network. Mythbusters was crushed by Dora. We’re now out of our comfort zone but we’re not complaining because we’re now officially parents.

One of the things I missed is having the time to blog. There’s no more time to kill. Like now, kid’s now watching TV and sooner will be begging to have his bath and I’d have to cut this entry short. So to end this post, I will leave a touching poem (by an unknown adoptive parent) which was shown to us on the first seminar we attended when we decided to have an adoption:

Once there were two women who never knew each other One you do not remember, the other you call your mother.

Two different lives shaped to make yours one One become your guiding star the other your sun.

The first gave you life the second taught you to live it

The first gave you need for love the second was there to give it.

One gave you nationality the other gave you a name

One gave you the seed of talent the other gave you an aim.

One gave you up – – it was all she could do

The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.

And more you ask me through your tears, The age old question through the years.

Heredity or Environment, which are you the product of? Neither my darling – – neither. Just two different kinds of love.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

 

November So Far

The 11th month which happens to be our birth month seems to be totally ours. Although it has not yet reached even its middle part, everything that has occurred after 11 days is like life itself compressed in two weeks. There was confusion, anxiety, boring times, and of course, funny and exciting moments as well.

As previously posted, November 1 was better than compared to last year’s. The days that followed have been spent waiting for results, results that would dictate how 2009 would be for us. And yes that’s right, this month I’m thinking that this may be the conclusion of our 2008 already.

I’m very excited to share the details but unfortunately there are reasons (one is time) as well that hold me back from doing so. Instead, I’ll just be brief about what has happened so far: Yesterday, I’m resetting my countdown to bumhood; And tomorrow, we’ll have one that will complete our family. Needless to say, both of these are blessings that I can never thank enough.

For now, I’m just feeling lucky even if the news coming from our TV is just as bleak as the weather outside.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

 

Changes and Transitions

The problem with having a rather routine task every week is that time flies so fast that by the end of each week I’d wonder what kept me busy, why I was busy at all, and my frequently asked question during every weekend, “What have I accomplished so far?” Sad to say, my frequent answer is, “I actually don’t know”, and sometimes worse, “None.”

Having these questions and answers may therefore just lead to a conclusion that during most part of the week I had another dose of the SSDD syndrome or simply put, boring days.

Luckily, as I reflect on what has happened so far this week, my days haven’t been SSDD at all. In fact, some of the days have been interesting enough that I regret at the thought of not having the 25th hour for me to write about it.

Last Thursday, I attended what seems to be among the best Front Line Managers sessions—despite being the last one. Initially, I responded to this invitation as tentative because for some reason I got the feeling that this session could be like any commencement exercises that are as predictable as clockwork. With this thought in mind, I dragged myself just thinking to make the most out of it and at least end it with a perfect attendance. Little did I know that a couple of minutes after the session started I’d be as attentive as if I was at home watching the Mythbusters on TV.

Team FLM
Ooops, wrong forum. I thought I was attending a trick or treat event.

The invited speaker was a former employee of our company. Beth Arriola was once our HR Manager. Although her name was one of the most familiar during her tenure, it was my first time to listen to her talk. She discussed the difference between change and transition—topic I’ve written several times, without knowing that although being seen as synonymous, both are in fact far different from each other.

To explain the difference between the two, Beth referred to William Bridge’s definition of changes versus transition. Looking at the meanings of these words—with the global recession going on I’m sure that these two are as popular as Obama and McCain—one will see that each has its own essence, and by understanding both will help guide a person to which one he is currently dealing with. The explanation she had on Powerpoint was the simplest yet the clearest I’ve read so far (or I haven’t read that much lately).

Beth
Beth explaining the role of a manager.

Beth made strong points. She advised everyone to have the mindset that there’s life after work—whether one is leaving it after 4 PM or leaving it for good. She also reminded us to keep our external networks connected. And more importantly, encouraged all of us to never let our self-respect and pride (Filipino) down even during this time of uncertainty. Kayang-kaya nga ba kung sama-sama?

 

On my way home that afternoon, I did realized that I’m quite lucky that I changed my mind and attended this final session. Had I skipped this one, another opportunity to learn (both about the subject matter and the speaker) would have been lost. And did I mention already that I got a free book, The Toyota Way, for having attended all the FLM sessions? I can’t wait to claim and read it – I’ll have 365 days to read it next year.

***

Also related to this topic of change are the news that made it to the headlines this week. I’m sure that everyone by now knew that Barack Obama had a historic win over John McCain as the first black American president.

But I’m also sure that not everyone knew about the recent Formula One’s (F1) event, which despite being the last race for this season was nevertheless among the exciting. This race in Brazil had me and wifey sacrifice precious sleep by waking before 1 AM for the live feed on TV and just in time to see the race start after a brief downpour that added the element of excitement – as if the close match between Ferrari and McClaren isn’t enough.

Eventually, Lewis Hamilton grabbed the 2008 driver’s championship title by one point (thanks to Timo Glock or Toyota) over Felipe Massa. And this one is another historic race in F1 as Hamilton being the first black driver to attain the most coveted title in auto racing.

I now wonder, if Michael Jackson’s changing color? My bad, can’t help it. She said anyway that “It don’t [sic] matter if you’re black or white…” Ti abi.

***

Erratum: My editor-in-chief (that’s my wife) said I can’t have a mood rating of 10/10 Honks and be happy – although I argued that the more I honk at other drivers the more I’m pleased. Anyway, to avoid further discussion, I’m now changing it – 1/10 is the highest. 10/10 is the grouchiest. *LOL*

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Ghost Sightings

San Vicente, Batangas. We’ve been here since yesterday to spend our Halloween weekend together with wifey’s family. So while the rest lazily settles in front of the TV and watch the movie Robots on DVD, I’m thinking of testing their newly installed internet connection and try to post a blog for the very first time from here.

***

One of my blog rules dictates that I should not write anything that hundreds or even thousands other bloggers (and even professional writers) will for sure write due to its current popularity or just for the sake of doing so.

But there is always an exemption and one of which that cannot be avoided is Halloween. It’s that time of the year when the grinning plastic pumpkins, skeletons, and scary costumes come out. It’s also my cue to panic and think about what gift I should be giving to wifey–Halloween is also when she celebrates her birthday.

It’s a good thing that this year is a lot more different than last year. Back then, wifey and I had to go to Batangas separately because I was still busy at work; we also had no car yet after selling our old Kia Pride; traffic was worse then. I remember arriving by lunchtime after leaving work at around 8 AM with the last two hours spent travelling from Turbina to San Vicente.

This year is a lot better. (Though I miss covering the hundreds of microprocessor chips before a cold shutdown. You’ll know what I mean.)

***

While on our way to Batangas yesterday and while driving at a snail pace in the middle of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), I honked at another driver when he tried to get into my lane without signaling his intention to do so. My wife commented, “Aba, that’s the first honk for today!” I was laughing hard after realizing that she’s actually taking notes of it. Then she added, “I’ve actually started measuring your mood by the number of honks you make.” Ti abi.

That short exchange on my driving habit made me smile. I’m now thinking if it would be a good idea to indicate my mood using “honk” score – 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Not bad. Thanks wifey for giving me the idea. Oh by the way, happy 32nd birthday.

***

Not to be outdone by others who have given their own scary ghost stories, video captures and even trick or treat experience, I might as well post my own. This one though isn’t fabricated in any way. This one is real and I captured it on October 31 when I was in the parking lot of SM Dasmarinas just minutes before sunset.

I was having our car seat cover replaced with fake (which others will call faux just to make it sound a not so cheap) leather and decided that it would be a good idea to take pictures of it to show how it will be done and to see the improvement right after. After I got my camera from the trunk and aimed it towards the workers I saw what appears to be a couple of ghostly figures inside the car after the pictures came out of the LCD screen. Scroll down to see the pictures…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha! These are Ace Hardware employees in their Halloween costumes. Kudos to these guys. Waiting for the leather seat to be installed wasn’t boring at all.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks!