Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pop Quiz

June 12 is celebrated in the Philippines as our Independence Day.  This year here in Singapore, a bunch of organizations came together to give us Filipinos staying here a whole-day event to commemorate the holiday.

Out of the entire program they publicized, one thing stood out to me:  The UP Alumni Association of Singapore was hosting a Quiz Bee competition!

My friends would know that I'm very fond of quiz contests.  This one, I felt, I couldn't miss -- especially after seeing that the prizes were well worth competing for.  So I signed up to join it.

When the day arrived, I made sure to get to the venue early.  I didn't want to miss the qualifying round just because I got lost.  To my relief, the place was quite easy to find.

The qualifying round would cut down the number of contestants to fifteen.  This first round was a written exam, scheduled for one hour.  At 10am, the scheduled time of the qualifying round, there were just a handful of us.  A fellow contestant joked that they shouldn't disqualify late-comers, which would ensure that the five or six of us present at the moment would surely go to the next round, since we were way below the cut-off of fifteen.

I finished the exam in fifteen minutes.  All the questions were mutliple-choice, so when I didn't know the answer (which was more than half the time), I just quickly put in my guesses.  The questions in the exam were mostly really obscure Philippine trivia, and I wasn't so sure of my chances of qualifying, if it all came down to everyone guessing through the exam (throughout my quiz contest career, I've always been horrible at guessing).

The organizers said they'd give me a call or send me an SMS around an hour before the next round (at 1pm), if I qualified.  I went out for lunch, walking and sulking, waiting for that call.

I was biding my time going up and down the escalators of Plaza Singapura when I received the call.  What a relief!

The next round of the competition would be held on-stage.  I've always thought I've already overcome my stage fright, but this time I felt a little bit nervous.  It's been so long since I've been on any kind of stage.  Most of my anxiety was from my fear of embarrassing myself if I couldn't answer correctly.  That'll really hurt my pride.  :-p

For the second round, we were given four huge flash cards for letters A through D.  The game master will read the questions out loud, and then he'll read four choices of answers.  We'll then be given three seconds to flash the card containing the letter of our desired answer.  The top three scorers at the end of the round will proceed to the third and final round.  I answered nine out of ten questions correctly.

When the results were announced, I was indeed qualified for the final round.  There was a tie for third place, so we had to wait for their clincher round.

For the final round, we were given whiteboards, markers and erasers.  We will be asked ten questions and we had to write down the exact answers -- no more choices.  The questions were very difficult.  At the end of the final round, all three of us finalists each got only one correct answer.

To break the three-way tie, we went to a sudden-death clincher round.  After almost ten questions, this one guy failed to answer what the other guy and myself answered correctly.  He was declared the third-place winner.  We continued to battle for first place.

After what seemed like more than ten questions, our tie was never broken.  The allotted time of one hour for the competition has elapsed, and we were told that we had to leave the stage to give way to the next event.  The sponsors were very mindful of the time that they bought.  Because of that, we had to continue the clincher round in the backstage.

Backstage, we were seated in an air-conditioned room and there was only a small group of spectators, so it was less stressful than when we were on stage.  But my nervousness never left me.

I think it took us twenty questions of giving the same answer, whether right or wrong, until a spectator remarked that we finally answered differently.  To add to the suspense, the game master took a couple of seconds before checking if one of us gave the correct answer.  He peeked at his question sheet and announced what all of us had been waiting for:  we have a winner.

See the official announcement of the results here:  PIDC Quiz Bee Winners

See photos of the event here:  PIDC 2011 Quiz Bee etc

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Close Your Eyes

I'll pretend that I'm kissin'
The lips I am missin'
And hope that my dreams will come true

Friday, March 25, 2011

Up And About

Man, it feels nice to.. uhmm.. not feel bad.

This past week, I've had quite awful nights.  My body ached and felt stiff, and my hip threatened to act up again. I'm glad I didn't force myself and rested early.  I actually (foolishly?) over-stayed in the office, and when I got home, I had nothing else in mind but dress down, hit the sack, and end my day.

A lot of my planned activities had to be shelved for a while.  I had to accept that some social network backlog, I needed to ignore (which comes pretty easy these days).

I did enjoy the extra rest I had.  However, I really miss how sharp and active I could stay way into the night.  This growing old thing?  I, fortunately, don't have the extra energy to feel bad about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

PicLyf #2

New gadget in town: the HTC Sandwich - Ham, Tomato and Cheese! XD

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Content Farms Are Amazing


I've known about such Web sites before, but it's become more pervasive in my line of work after Stack Overflow (also known as SO) boomed.

Stack Overflow's content comes from the hundreds of thousands of programmers from all over the world who post their programming questions and answers in the site.  SO licenses their content under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.  This means that what the SO content farms are doing is perfectly legal.  Even if they simply mirror the original Q&A page from SO, as long as they link back to it, they're covered.

However, I'd say that what they're doing isn't different from what the ad farms and SEO-mongers do -- they hijack search results traffic from the original source of information, which in this case is SO (that they link back to SO doesn't matter).  It's legal, but it's not something to be proud of.  Personally, I frown on them.

Jeff Atwood, one of the co-founders of SO, has already written about the issue of rip-off sites in his blog post Trouble In the House of Google, although he did focus on faulting Google in their failure to keep the content farms from out-ranking them.

What pushed me to write about it was my surprise in seeing how seemingly instant this hijacking occurs.  I just read about Google's Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, and it reminded me of this issue. I installed the extension and I tried to search for a question I asked in SO several hours ago.

A content farming site topped the search results -- and SO was not even in the top 5!

See how the site complies with the Attribution-ShareAlike license by linking back to SO:

And here's the original content in SO, and notice how fairly recent it was posted:

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not incriminating this particular content farming site.  They might be totally legit and "nice".  It's just that I think it hit me hard enough to feel uneasy about it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Creepy Kid

Last week, I ate dinner at a hawker center.  I shared a table with an elderly man who was with a boy of around 8 to 10 years old.  The boy rambled:  "I'm going to sell it for a million dollars.  A million, billion dollars. No, a zillion-zillion-zillion-zillion, trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion, billion-billion-billion-billion, million-million-million-million--"  He takes a deep breath-- "thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand, hundred-hundred-hundred-hundred, ten-ten-ten DOLLARS!"

I was impressed that he got his decimal groupings right, so I listened on, curious of what he was talking about.

The boy stood up, went closer to the old man, stretched his arm, reached towards the old man's chest and continued, "I going to take out your heart, and sell it for lots and lots and lots of DOLLARS!"

Then an elderly lady arrived, and they left.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Caught Myself Staring At The Mirror

Because all I have to do is stare above my laptop screen, and I'm already looking at the mirror.  =p

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I, Fan

I've been caught up in Isaac Asimov's stories ever since my library membership here began. Even if I found them in different library branches, Asimov's books were still very accessible that I couldn't pass them up, especially since I've wanted to read his Robot books for so long.

I've only gotten started on the Foundation and Empire series, and the Robot books I've read are Robot Dreams and The Complete Robot.  The Robot novels are almost always unavailable, on loan.

A couple of weeks back, I suddenly remembered that I haven't watched the movie I, Robot.  Last weekend, I finally did.  Here are my thoughts (I took notes while I was watching =p):
  • It's a swell Will Smith movie.
  • I read that some people hated the Converse product placement -- I thought it was amusing.
  • The liberties the movie took with Asimov's characters (okay, specifically -- or maybe, just Susan Calvin) were a serious disservice to the fans of the books. What endeared Calvin to readers, her cold attachment to robots they stripped off, and I didn't like her slight interest/fascination(?) with Will Smith's character. The Calvin in the movie was simply.. someone else.
  • I didn't think they should've played off the robot-as-monster theme, since.
  • I know that Asimov did write some action scenes (though not in the Robot stories), but the way they did it in the movie just didn't work for me. For example, I hated the revolving cameras in the final action scene.
  • Forgivable changes:
    • What happened to Lanning in the beginning of the movie. It fit the plot quite smartly.
    • Robertson's A-hole-ness.
  • It was nice how they integrated the central ideas of many of the robot stories:
    • the lost robot
    • robot + detetive -- weeell, I wouldn't call it a partership, just a pairing
    • the dream
    • the different interpretation of the Three Laws
  • I was hoping to see a Powell and Donovan cameo. =p
(WTF -- Ctrl+P in Blogger's editor means Publish.  But I'm not done yet!)

Overall, I still liked the movie.  =)

So, naturally, I felt that I had to re-watch that other movie based on Asimov's Robot stories:  Bicentennial Man.

And it was AWESOME.

I haven't read the novel, The Positronic Man, yet, but it was quite faithful to the short story. The parts that differed from the short story were subtle changes that didn't touch the core of the story. While I was watching it, I felt the same way as when I was reading it.  Simply fantastic.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Didn't Everybody

..else back in high school wish they were a Super Saiyan?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Hello, Lamppost!

After sooo long, I finally added a header background to this blog theme of mine!  Can't remember when I first applied this theme, but it's got to be more than a year now!

Friday, January 07, 2011


This is how I remember myself back in Junior Casa in Asian Montessori Center in San Fernando, Pampanga.  I was 4 years old, and I felt everyone was watching me.  It didn't help that my teacher made me sit in the middle of the class with her (we usually formed a circle around her) with my head tilted aback, whenever I got a nosebleed (which was unusually frequent).