2014 in review

Some filler while I think of blogging again.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Way – Frank Sinatra

I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

— Tagtag na empleyado

Para sa mga taong solo flight, tumatapos ng mga responsibilidad ng mga pabaya, at pinamumunuan ng mga seagull, inaalay ko sa inyo ang awiting ito. Pampalubag-loob, nawa.

Mabuha, mga martir.

Paalala: Paabiso po sa comments kung hindi na gumagana ang video sa taas, upang mapalitan. Maraming salamat.

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09 Nov 2014 · 0:08:57 UTC

Grind With Me – Pretty Ricky [NSFW]

Grind with me.
– MRT passenger sa palabas na pasahero

Para sa mga mananakay ng MRT, lalo na tuwing rush hour.

Lalong-lalo na sa mga bumababa sa mga istasyong walang gaanong human traffic, gaya ng GMA-Kamuning at Santolan.

Mukhang ito ata ang nararapat na ipatugtog sa intercom ng tren; pampalubag-loob sa mga pasaherong nag-a-ala-sardinas para lamang makarating sa paroroonan.

Ika nga ng kasabihan:

Trains: more fun in the Philippines.

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Hindi Kita Iiwan – Rey Valera

Tinangka nating mangarap sa mundong sadyang mapagkait.
Ngunit ano man ang mangyari sa ating pagmamahalan,
Mahal ko, laging umasa.
Hindi kita iiwan.
Hinding-hindi kita iiwan.

— Naniningil ng utang

Para sa mga naniningil, at sinisingil, ng utang.

Paalala: Paabiso po sa comments kung hindi na gumagana ang video sa taas, upang mapalitan. Maraming salamat.

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Phones, Water, and Rice

Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of dropping my Xperia Neo L in water (more like it slipping out of my pocket and dropping into my laundry tub). It was shocking and fun at the same time.

I managed to fish it out after about 3 seconds. It was not that soaked; however, everything is wet and the majority of the area of the screen is somewhat darker in color due to the water entering it. I proceeded to dry it all I can with a towel.

Then I did some stupid things:

  1. I turned it on again. I was really amazed that it was not short-circuited or anything, but noticed that the touch screen behaved erratically: it seems like invisible hands are treading on it constantly. But the phone still functions as usual: buttons still work, and it still responds to the headset buttons. I can still play audio, and when I plug in and out the headset, music plays and pauses respectively. (I have my phone configured to do that.)
  2. I tried to manually extract the water out of it by shaking it like a salt shaker. I managed to extract some water out of the phone, but not all. It also left streak marks on the touch screen, easily viewable by tilting it upwards when the phone is on.
  3. As per suggestion, I tried to take it to a local repair station (not the Sony Service Center) for drying. At this point I observed that as the phone dries the touch screen tends to return to normal (btw, before doing #2 the touch screen does not work; afterwards, it did with its erratic behaviour), and since I do not have the tools to open it I was hoping that the local repairman was cooperative enough to do this for me for a small amount. However, he seems not to know what he is talking about (he said about the screen needing total replacing), so there goes my help and an increase in dread that I need to go to the Sony Service Center to have this thing fixed.
  4. I bought some screwdrivers so that I can open this thing on my own. Resolving not to go to the Sony Service Center before doing everything I can, I bought some tools at a total of about ₱300 and tried to open up the phone. I ended losing a screw and frustration for it won’t open.
  5. Goto 1. Repeatedly. Yes, that’s so stupid of me. But then, I resolved that my phone’s not really FUBAR and I just need to let it dry and I can use it again like normal. I was even ecstatic when I saw some moisture forming on the camera eye and the sides of the phone’s screen (not on the display, just the case that covers the screen), even though I could not wipe it off. I deduced that if I kept the phone hot enough (by its CPU heat) it will help in the drying process.

Sometime during the night I had the insight of googling about the problem, and saw that it was common with solutions not necessarily having to go to the Sony Service Center or replacing the screen or buying a new phone (plus I learned about the water damage indicator and that it’s now red, consequently voiding my warranty). And even though I know my phone is not that FUBAR, it gave me additional hope that the screen need not be replaced as the local repairman preached.

That’s where rice comes in.

The topmost result suggests rice to drive moisture out of the phone, with the stern precaution of not turning it on or even trying to. Several sites and various suggestions and tales later, being the Filipino I am, I resolved to buy a half-kilo of rice, crossed my fingers, buried my phone in it, and slept fitfully.

And I also researched about desiccants. Wikipedia tells me that

[a] desiccant is a hygroscopic substance that induces or sustains a state of dryness (desiccation) in its vicinity.

And hygroscopy means

… the ability of a substance to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment.

As a commenter succinctly puts it,

A bag of rice has a super dry, “please feed me moisture”, type of atmosphere.

I also finally learned what silica gel is, and why there are those little bags of “beads” in almost every shoebox. As this website puts it,

Silica gel is a “desiccant,” a substance that sucks up water in its environment. There are several different desiccants out there—clay, for example, which is what’s in a lot of cat litter. But silica gel is hands down one of the best desiccants going.  That’s why it was in your shoebox. It absorbs the moisture that might otherwise ruin your new footwear.

And maybe that’s also the reason why shoeboxes retain their factory smell.

Anyway, after waking up this morning I excavated my phone from its ricey grave and turned it on. And what do you know, the rice worked! The rice managed to extract the moisture on the camera eye and on the sides of the screen, and somewhat diminished the streaks on the touch screen. Best of all, the touch screen is now working as usual. I buried it again and hopefully by tomorrow more moisture would be driven out (after all, the sites recommended burying it for at least 24 hours, not for about a meager 8-10 hours).

Obviously, this had been a shockingly very fun weekend. And what I have learned, dear Princess Celestia?

  1. Keep a level head. As with any emergency situation, some detachment is needed in order to make rational decisions. Panic won’t solve anything and may even worsen the problem and lead to blame passing, which does not solve anything. You’re not stupid for letting that phone meet water; it’s an accident (unless you do it on purpose; in that case you should assume some level of responsibility for that deliberate decision).
  2. Desiccants can save wet phones. Just like the solution for a malware-laden diskette is not throwing it away and buying a new one but an anti-virus (as it is commonly known today), a phone is not necessarily FUBAR the time it decides to swim. Do not let the phone soak, wipe it gently and do not attempt to shake out the water as it can cause further damage, bury it in a desiccant, cross your fingers, and pray to a divine being to save your phone (or just grab a beer and drown your worries away). And check on it after at least 24 hours.
  3. Never turn on wet phones. Or even try to. It’s tempting to do it to check if it still works, but water is a conductor of electricity and it may short out some internal circuitry and worsen the situation. Maybe I’m just lucky enough not to short anything serious, though I think I managed to short the flashlight mechanism because when I insert the battery the LED lights up but turns off as soon as I press the power button and stays that way when I shut down the phone.
  4. Do not go to any service center until you have tried everything. The Internet is a very useful forum; a little searching and literacy helps a lot. You’ll save a lot of money in the process, learn something new, and will help to keep the anxiety level down because nothing shoots it up the roof if the man you are talking about says you need to replace some parts or buy a new phone (let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he/she is not taking advantage of the situation to rip off your hard-earned money).
  5. Go to the service center if you have tried everything. And do not try to hide the situation; remember the water indicator? It will just give you a very bad reputation, and nothing irks people more than when they see through a bold-faced lie. And when I say a service center, it should be the manufacturer’s accredited service center, not just some ad hoc vendor in the sidewalk claiming he/she can fix everything for you can end up with a brick and exorbitant service charges.
  6. And I forgot to mention, water damage voids a phone’s warranty? Just like dropping it and breaking the screen as a result, water damage is considered user negligence. So there goes the free service charge. That’s why I recommend going to the service center last because it can cost a lot if you just surrender your waterlogged-phone to their technician (the moment they inspect it, their money meters start ticking).

For those of you wondering about the current status of my phone, well it does look somewhat good.

  • Touch is fully responsive now, just like before it decided to go on a swim.
  • The screen still has water streaks; hopefully I can still get it out with rice.
  • As far as I can test, all are still functional. Buttons work; programs work. I haven’t tried to call or SMS anyone yet, as well as connecting to the Internet, GPS or Bluetooth. Maybe I’ll post an update on this, but (as far as this blog history goes) do not depend on it.
  • Maybe the flashlight mechanism is short-circuited; I really don’t know.
  • I lost a screw. Not really life-threatening, but one reason to completely void my warranty.
  • The water damage indicator is red. The main reason that voids my warranty. (Luckily there’s only 2 months left.)
  • I have not tried to charge it yet; will try after the phone completely dries up.

Other things I have garnered from this experience:

  • A new appreciation for rice. I am a Filipino, and rice is the staple of every household. So it tends to be a bit boring, especially if you are exposed to foreign cuisine and love pizza. That experience helped me appreciate rice more, for aside from saving lives it can also save gadgets. Now if it could only eliminate entirely the water marks on my touch screen…
  • Discovering silica gel. Yes, I really don’t know they’re called as such, and I really don’t know what those funky packets they put in most boxes heavily laden with poison marks are and what they’re for. But now I know, and that I should store them for future use instead of discarding them. Just in case.
  • Discovering the need for small screwdrivers. I am a computer scientist so I don’t get to fiddle around with bare hardware often, but I realized the need to have spare tools for cases like this. Anyway, there’s no harm in having them stored in a secure container all the time somewhere, right? (Except maybe for rust, but that can easily be dealt with.)

Hmmnn, it seems like having your phone wet is not really a waste of time, and can be a source of knowledge for future references (and apparently blog entries). This reminds me of this Nichijou episode.

And if you ever get your phone wet, here’s a motivational message for you.

But maybe, the best thing to save your phone from water death is not having it wet in the first place. For starters, you can start by temporarily waterproofing your phone.

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World: EOT

This morning, while eating breakfast, I wondered about the status of the latest phenomenon to grip the world, the end of the Mayan bak’tun 13 that was scheduled to occur on December 21, 2012 in the Gregorian calendar. During this date, it was prophesied that the world would end, wiping out civilization and mankind as we know it.

But the date passed without the book of Revelation fulfilling itself, and today is January 5. People are still reproducing, some restoring the environment while others continue destroying it.

So I proceeded to re-read the Wikipedia article about the issue, and was surprised by two changes.

  1. The article is now written in past tense.
  2. Additional sections were added, primarily describing what people around the world did days before and during December 21, 2012.

I also found a related article, Wikipedia’s “List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events“, which will be the main focus of this blog entry.

Reading through that article, the first thing we notice is that there had been numerous failed predictions for the end of the world in the past, with December 21, 2012 the latest to be added as of writing. Also, there is another list of predictions with dates occurring in the future.

What I’d like to point out, however, is these predictions follow a certain format, a template, depicted as follows.


WHO: Everyone
End of the world
WHERE: Earth
WHY: <reasons>
HOW: <event>
TODO: <choices>
BY: <predictor>
DISCLAIMER: This is not true.

And that the process of coming up with these dates that can be summarized by the following flowchart.

End of the world flowchart

End of the world flowchart

Let’s examine deeper each pattern.

Prediction Template

The template above can be broken down into two components: constants and variables.

The constants are:

  1. WHO. End of the world predictions are almost always targeted to all of humankind, regardless of race, culture, nation, or religious orientation, much like a general announcement or an advertisement, though the scope may change (e.g., the destruction of the Roman empire).
  2. WHAT. The subject does change its wording, but it always pertains to the end of times. As above, the scope may change.
  3. WHERE. Of course, the “where” is always the Earth, in whole (e.g., the 2012 phenomenon) or in part (e.g., the predictions referring to the destruction of Rome), though I presume that if in the future mankind successfully colonized space, the “where” part will become a variable.
  4. DISCLAIMER. The last constant is the disclaimer, for as of writing, there are a total of 197 predictions listed on the page, with 187 of them failing to happen. Simple computation yields a 94.92% failure rate. But then, the computation is actually erroneous, for it assumes that 5.08% of the predictions are successes, and simple logic will dictate that you cannot count those future dates for the simple fact that they still have not passed. Thus, discarding the 10 future predictions, we come up with a 100% failure rate, which is consistent with the empirical fact that Earth, and civilization, is currently undestroyed.

Meanwhile, the variables:

  1. WHEN. This is actually the most entertaining variable, for this is the answer to the core question of when the world would end. As said above, many predicted dates have gone and past, and I sincerely believe that as long as there are people out there with too much free time on their hands, more dates would be cited as “the end of the world”.
  2. WHY. I believe this is the second most interesting variable, and the main reason that predictions don’t happen. I admit that I do not know by heart (or even by rote) all the events listed in the article, so based on what is listed in the tables, we can categorize the usual WHYs into the following:
    • Religious. Usually associated with the second coming. Predictions come from religious works such as the bible, oftentimes with the application of numerology and astrology.
    • Terrestrial. Usually about natural disasters predicting the second coming.
    • Astronomical. Usually about planetary and galactic alignments, and comets.
    • Extraterrestrial. Usually extraterrestrial “ambassadors” relaying alien messages.

    To those who want to know why these WHYs are almost always easily discredited, here are some of the answers.

    • Religious. For the Christians, the Lord explicitly states that no one really knows except the Father when He will come again, since most of the religious predictions concern the second coming of Christ. I really don’t know what to counter for other religions not believing in Christ, or His Father (which is, in a way, sad, for it demonstrates my ignorance of other theistic paradigms).
    • Terrestrial. These events are mostly predictable, and natural. That’s why they’re called “natural disasters”, for they happen naturally, regardless whether humans exist or not.
    • Astronomical. The usual argument here depends on what is being leveraged as to be the “cause” of the tribulation. For a real life example, you can visit NASA’s article about the 2012 phenomenon and read the astronomy-related causes supposed to bring about the destruction of the world last December 21, 2012.
    • Extraterrestrial. So far, there have been no extraterrestrial life forms detected. Though the theory of panspermia attempts to explain how life on Earth came about (apart from others), this theory has not been conclusively proven as time of writing. Thus, these facts alone can discredit people who boast that they had received information on when the world will end. Please do notify me, however, if any of these have been proven THROUGH SCIENCE, not via crop circles and blurry images of lights during a foggy night.

    Of course, I am not saying that these are the only reasons usually posted in the WHY section, but these are the usual ones. Usually, only the wording is modified.

  3. HOW. This variable describes how the apocalypse will take place, which can be through alien invasions, planetary collisions, or through events outlined in the book of Revelation. This variable usually expands the WHY variable through horrendous events, such as very strong earthquakes. This can be said as the third most interesting variable, and is often the source of ideas for entertainment firms such as Hollywood.
  4. TODO. This usually tells people what they should do to survive the apocalypse or, in case of the second coming, how to be saved. Common TODOs include repentance and food stockpiling.
  5. BY. This is the person/s who has/have predicted the destruction. This is a very useful variable in my opinion, for sometimes it helps the public calm down when the person has a history of failed predictions.

Prediction Flowchart

It cannot actually be helped that there is such a thing as a “prediction flowchart”, since all predictions to date have failed (see the DISCLAIMER argument for discussion). The usual process is that when an initial prediction fails to pass, the predictor almost always says that he/she miscalculated/misinterpreted something, then proceeds to publish a revised date with an accompanying explanation of the encountered “anomaly”. A case in point is the predictions of Harold Camping on 2011, which have cast fear upon the Filipino people during that time.

Even the scientifically accepted date of the end of the world, the time when the sun expands to a red giant as it nears the end of its life, is not expressed in exact dates but in estimates. But then, it still can be said that this prediction follows the flowchart, for it may be revised as man gain more knowledge about the interactions of astronomical bodies in space.


As far as end-of-the-world predictions go, we can only conclude the following facts.

  1. No one knows the exact time when the world will end.
  2. Many more predictions will come and go until the world truly ends.

But then, maybe the business of predicting the end of the world is not a waste of time, after all. Just like the entertainment industry, it is somewhat an easy way to be famous, though some do become infamous after their predictions fail. They can also serve as a meter to “measure” public gullibility and ignorance of some basic phenomena, for in most predictions the implications of simple events, which really have no implications at all if experts are to be consulted (e.g., the gravitational effect of galactic and planetary alignments to Earth), are explained through esoteric ways

Consulting again the Wikipedia article, it seems that the world is again due on May 19, 2013 according to Ronald Weinland. Following our template above, here is a summary of what he essentially talks about on his website (as of January 5, 2013).


WHO: Everyone
End of the world
May 19, 2013
WHERE: Earth
WHY: Second Coming of Christ
HOW: See book of Revelation*.
TODO: Repent and prepare
BY: Ronald Weinland**
DISCLAIMER: This is not true.

*This is an assumption, for his blog entries are really long and I’m not patient enough to read them.
**According to Wikipedia, this is his third prediction.

Let’s see each other again on May 20, 2013.


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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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