Manila Office Life

24 December 2008

2008: The Year of Change

As we approach the end of 2008, it's human nature to look back on the past year and reflect on all the significant events that transpired. I'd like to think of 2008 as a personal "Year of Change".
  • Changed Address: Yep, I moved houses this year from our old residence of 30 years (!).
  • Changed Jobs: My job changed significantly this year, for the better I believe.
  • Changed Bosses: This happened after the job change actually so the job changed first then it was moved to a different shop.
  • Changed Offices: With the change in bosses came a change in offices from the 6th floor to the 2nd floor.
  • Changed Computers: Yep, I finally made the switch from Windows XP to Mac OS X. For me, that's pretty significant!
How about you guys? What was 2008 for you?

20 October 2008

Updates! Updates!

Not much exciting happening, really. Mostly more of the same.

> Gaming - Yes, for all those who know me, I have finally succumbed. Kicked the bucket. Bought the farm. Yes, I have finally started playing World of Warcraft (WoW). At first, I was skeptical especially since I disdained having to pay for gaming. But then, I finally tried their 10-day free trial account. That is probably the most fantastic marketing ploy ever! I was hooked by the time I hit Day 3! And now, I have a level 49 night elf hunter as my primary character with an alternate dwarven warrior and human paladin. Oh, how the mighty hath fallen!

> Movies - All's quiet on the movie front actually. Haven't really gone to see anything particularly earth-shattering lately. Movies I'm interested in catching up on very soon are the following.
  • Wanted
  • Get Smart
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
  • Igor
  • Tropic Thunder

> TV - The fall season has started and my usual shows are coming up again. I've limited my showlist to the following, in no particular order.

> Miscellaneous
  • San Miguel Premium - If you haven't tried it, you're missing out. This beer is awesome!
  • Bugsy's - The hottest watering hole to hit the Ortigas/Pasig area. Beers served ice-cold. Located in the City Golf area along J. Vargas in Pasig City.
  • Highlands Steakhouse (Mall of Asia branch) - This place had a promo on all-you-can-eat steaks for less than Php1,100. The promo's finished but we'll always have the memories!
  • Music - Listening to lots of Dave Matthews Band lately after a band in Makati called Streamline (they play in Bistro 110 on Friday nights) gave a fantastic rendition of Ants Marching. Smooth.
  • Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher - I read Books 1-4 of this series at the urging of a friend and found it highly engaging, surprisingly enough. It's a high fantasy series set in a world reminiscent of ancient Rome, this series will keep you glued to its pages from start to finish. Waiting on book 5 now as well as the next book in Dresden Files series by the same author. Check them out today!

That's about it for me. Till next time!

23 September 2008

Seen at Work Today

We need to keep life in perspective and our five lives in balance: our Work Life;
our Love Life; our Creative/Spiritual/Religious Life; our Athletic/Physical Fitness
Life; and our Altruistic Life.

01 September 2008

Wired Article: Geeky Movies for Kids

Here's an interesting article from about geeky movies for kids. Personally, I'd add The Princess Bride to this list, as well as the cartoon Flight of Dragons. How about you?

10 Geeky Movies to Raise Your Kids On

By Ken Denmead EmailAugust 29, 2008 | 12:30:00 PMCategories: Movies

Pco1013In our never-ending quest to provide you the tools and knowledge to raise your kids in your own geeky image, we present you with a list of 10 geeky movies to raise your kids with. This is a starter list, and by no means comprehensive. It also skews towards the younger set because we have to lay the proper geeky foundation. As always, leave your suggestions for additional titles in the comments.

1. Star Wars: You must, MUST! I say, start your child our with Episode IV: A New Hope. Diligence is key, brothers and sisters, and while your kids will probably enjoy even the new trilogy for its grand spectacle, they must be brought into the fold the right way. Isn't it a thousand times better to fall in love with the non-verbal pluckiness of R2-D2 in New Hope, and then cheer when he pops up in Phantom Menace? I knew you'd agree.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone: The Potter movies are this generation's Star Wars trilogy, and so far, ALL of them have been well-done. The first is a perfect introduction to the world, in a more kid-friendly Chris Columbus way, and makes for a great way to get your kids into all sorts of fantasy literature later. I'll also take my lumps now: I'm *not* putting LOTR on this list because I don't think it's for younger kids - too long for them, and in cases too scary and violent. It'll definitely make the second list, for your Geeky Tweens, though, so have no fear.

3. The Last Starfighter: This is the film from our youth that did the first, and maybe best, job of arguing that being good at videogames could be worthwhile in other aspects of your life (like being able to save the universe someday). They early CG was pretty darned good, too. Classic tale of the downtrodden geeky kid getting to find out they're special, and live out a wish fulfillment.

Totoro 4. My Neighbor Totoro: All Miyazaki is wonderful, with a beauty and spirit we seldom see in American-produced animation (Iron Giant counts as an exception to that statement). I chose Totoro because it's the most accessible for a child, I think (Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke are a bit too scary in parts). The imaginary friend angle appeals to every young-at-heart parent, as well. If you can get your kid in love with this, then follow up with Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Nausicaa.

5. Time Bandits: Another great story of wish-fulfillment for a downtrodden kid, but this one has a merry band of miscreant little-people, time-travel, Sean Connery, John Cleese, and David Warner. Plus, it sets them up for Brazil and all the Monty Python oeuvre as they get older.

The Dark Crystal: The best pure-fantasy movie out there for younger kids, period. There are no human characters in the film at all (yes, I know, they're all puppets), but we still get attached to them and sucked into their world. An also-ran here would be Neverending Story, but I'd put Labyrinth in the tweens list for next time.

WarGames: You could argue for WarGames to be on the tweens list as well, but I like it here because the kids will connect with the computer angle, the being ignored by grown-ups angle. I also like the idea of starting them young with a sense of the government and military being important, but not always bad. Let's just pretend the "sequel" that's out on DVD now never happened, okay?

Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang: The technicolor American musical in all its splendor, with Dick van Dyke at his prime, and a magical car. The breakfast machine in the beginning should inspire many a Maker, and I always revel in noticing Desmond Llewelyn (original Q in the Bond movies - this was an Ian Fleming story, after all!), and Benny Hill as the toymaker.

Goonies Goonies: The perfect geek-gang adventure story with home-made gadgets, pirates, treasure and all, this movie also helps reinforce finding and sticking to friendships. The talk about a sequel for this movie, with most or all of the original cast, really gets me excited (just like the Tr2n footage).

Back to the Future: The best way to initiate your kids into the joys of time-travel stories, and the joys of all things Christopher Lloyd. This is one of those cases where the whole series is enjoyable and family-friendly, and the great geeky repeatable dialog will keep you amused for a long time. Hello, McFly?!?!

09 August 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Animated)

This would have been cool, if it had made it to the small screen.

07 August 2008

Things Not to Say in a Facebook Status Update

A totally hilarious article from Enjoy!

  • 1. Rockin' Freebird!
  • 2. Rubbing cream on that thing I noticed last weekend. Doesn't seem to be working.
  • 3. Buying DC Universe Classics Wave 5 the Atom at Wal-Mart! Build-a-figure Metallo is complete!
  • 4. Feeling trapped in this male body.
  • 5. Jesus, I'm lonely.
  • 6. D'oh! Accidentally trimmed my pickin' nail.
  • 7. Watching The Notebook again.
  • 8. Quick! Does anyone know the age of consent in Kentucky?
  • 9. Just came up with a new emoticon for sanguine [:<≠>
  • 10. Thinking about maybe talking to someone.

28 July 2008

Things That Make You Go "Hmm..."

As a gamer, I've always been fascinated by how gamers in general can spend hours upon hours in front of the computer playing games. Here's an insightful article found in with a halfway plausible explanation. Do you agree?

Back to the Grind in WoW — and Loving Every Tedious Minute

By Clive Thompson

Last week, I finally decided to start playing World of Warcraft again. And you know what that means: Exciting medieval adventures! Chess-like strategizing with guildmates over raid techniques!

And, of course, grinding.

Hours upon hours of mind-numbing grinding.

Even if you've never played World of Warcraft -- or any role-playing game, online or off -- you are probably familiar with the concept. To "level up" your character, you've got to gain experience, and that generally involves doing a few simple tasks -- mostly "killing stuff" and "collecting stuff" -- over and over again.

When I rolled my new Paladin, I had to spend the next eight hours planted at my desk, repetitively clicking through the same tasks as if I were an industrial robot making car parts on the Chrysler line. I slaughtered wolves, bears, a few more wolves, some creepy little Kobold humanoids, then -- hey -- some more wolves. I rooted around in their corpses for random junk. (Woo! A candlestick!) Then I did it again. And again. And again. Until 3 a.m., actually.

This is of the most-prodigious mysteries of the gamer soul. Theoretically, we love multiplayer games because they offer a dramatic alternative to our shades-of-beige meatspace lives. They let us cast off our mundane existence and become a colorful, empowered hero. And what do we do with this second life?

We behave like obedient workers in a Soviet collective outside Stalingrad, circa 1971. Comrade, your job is to collect potatoes. For seven years. We pay $20 a month for this privilege.

What the hell is wrong with us?

There are several obvious explanations for why we grind. Partly, we know that the game gets interesting only once you're powerful enough to fight the bad-ass monsters. We'll endure whatever hazing necessary to get there. We'll grind until the sun explodes.

There's also the addictiveness of it all. And as I've argued before, WoW -- like many RPGs -- was designed to replicate the emotional logarithm of heroin. You reach level 2 quickly, level 3 a bit less quickly, and levels 4, 5 or 22 less quickly yet -- but it's such a blast each time you level up that you can't stop the party. You'll kill yourself to feel that hit one more time.

These explanations are all true, more or less. But I actually believe there's another reason we're willing to spend 20 hours a week grinding, and it's far weirder.

It's because we love it. We love grinding.

We cannot get enough of it.

Why? Because there's something enormously comforting about grinding. It offers a completely straightforward relationship between work and reward. When you log into WoW, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you just plant your ass in that chair for long enough, you'll level up. It doesn't require skill. It just requires putting in the time. Play 10 hours, you'll do better; play 50, you'll do better yet; and yet more so with 500 hours.

The thing is, almost no arenas of human endeavor work like this. Many are precisely the opposite, in fact. When you go to your job at the office, there's little or no linkage between effort and achievement: You slave like a madman all year long, only to watch the glad-handing frat guy hired two months ago get promoted above you. And if you're a really serious nerd, the logic that governs interpersonal relationships -- marriage, kids, your parents -- is even more abstruse: Things can actually get worse the more time and effort you put into them.

But grinding? Grinding always works. Always. You get a gold star just for showing up. This is a quietly joyful experience. It feeds our souls, as well as our sense of justice and fair play. We grind because we can't believe what a totally awesome deal we're getting handed here, often the first time in our entire suck-ass put-upon lives.

Granted, a game based around grinding tends to privilege those with huge amounts of free time, which of course means younger people and robots and gold-farming guys in China (who, incidentally, are sometimes getting handed a much better deal than they'd get in a comparable meatspace job). And here's the inevitable caveat: I realize that WoW isn't only about grinding; it encourages teamwork and cooperation and strategy and woof-woof, meow-meow.

But let's not kid ourselves. There's a lot of grinding going on in that game. Like, right now. Seriously; go log on and check. I'll wait right here. It's cool.

Grinding is idiotic, but it will never go away, because it sustains us. When we're exhausted by things we can't understand, we take solace in things that are what they say they are. Our video games may be idiotic, but at least their idiocies are consistent.