My 2010

Another year draws to a close. 2010 was an eventful year, probably the highlight of which was me and my siblings' trip to Cambodia. On the downside was my aunt Conchita getting kidnapped back in my home town. Thank God she was freed, but there's no way to bring back the body guard and driver who were killed.

But on to more mundane things. Last year, my resolutions were:

  • Read more, fill up that book collection
  • Travel more, even if it just means taking the ferry to Vashon island
  • Explore more restaurants
  • Pay off my car

I got to read a whole lot this year. The book of the year for me is The Windup Girl, which I wrote about a couple of posts down. I think partly because it's one of the more recent books I've read, so it's still fresh in my memory, but it's really good. Plus, one of the protagonists is a crafty old Chinese businessman named Tan Hock Seng who could totally be some sort of distant relative!

Runner up: The Catcher in the Rye. The book every serial killer reads.

On the travel part, aside from Cambodia, I got to go to the Philippines, Singapore (briefly), San Diego, LA (briefly), and various parts of Washington State (but not Vashon island though). The restaurant part maybe I haven't explored as much this year (maybe a side effect of Rob moving to NC, heh). Oh and I paid off my car! So all in all, I think I mostly passed on my new year's resolutions.

One of my fitness goals for the year was to be able to do one (1) pullup. I just tried, I still can't do it :P. I feel healthy though.

2010 was also a year of gadget lust for me. This year, I got an iPad, an iPhone, a Windows Phone, a desktop computer, a digital camera, and a Kinect. Plus various software that goes with these gadgets. Next year, need to do less gadget shopping, although I'm already wanting a Nintendo 3DS. Hehehe

Aside from all that, I switched teams at Microsoft, got on a paper published at PLDI, and put up my Christmas tree before Christmas. So all in all, 2010 was a good year. Here's to an even better 2011!

Wootcher: My First Windows Phone 7 App

W00t! The Windows Phone 7 app that Donny and I have been working on was just approved by Marketplace. It's called Wootcher, it's tracks the deals that happen at the Woot website (you might have to install Zune software to get to the app's link).

I think the app's pretty cool, lol. It's free, so if you have a Windows Phone 7, you should definitely try it out. It looks like this:


I thought it was a pretty fun process to learn to develop apps for the phone, though maybe Donny would disagree, since he did the bulk of the work! :)

Reading The Windup Girl on the Kindle

So I spend some part of Thanksgiving weekend reading The Windup Girl on the Kindle for iPad app. It's a great novel set in a post-oil Thailand. It's got great characters an interesting plot and a great premise.

But I wanted to talk about the iPad reading experience. I was skeptical that it would work, that the device was just a bit too heavy, and that the lighted up screen would cause eye strain.

It turns out that the iPad is comfortable enough to hold curled up in bed. The lighted screen isn't a strain on the eyes, and I don't have to get up when the light fades. And the experience is just as immersive as reading on a printed page. I love how I never lose my place, but hate that I don't have a sense of how far I am to the end of the book.

It's surprising that books are one of the last media to transition from physical to purely digital, since books actually require much less bandwidth to transfer than music or movies. I guess we are only now getting devices that are good enough for reading comfortably. There's still an advantage to physical media though -- my biggest problem now is that I liked the book so much I want one on my shelf!


Tomorrow is election day here in the US. Washington state has one of the most hotly contested Senate races here, but the atmosphere is relatively muted. Unlike back in the Philippines, where there's a cornucopia of banners and signs and posters, and every square inch of space is covered with election material.

Election day is not a holiday here. And in Washington, you don't even go to a polling center! Everyone votes by mail. It's amazing how reliable the postal service is; and how much of the voting system is based on *trust*.

I wouldn't mind a few banderitas strewn here and there though.

Banderitas, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Bye bye summer

See you next year!

Whee, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

A few more pictures from the summer:


Rob looking into the unknown

Seattle Skyline

Woodland Park Zoo

A few weeks ago, I went to the Woodland Park Zoo. It's a nice decent sized zoo, with all sorts of interesting creatures. I went there by myself since it seems quite rare for people over 8 to want to go to the zoo, haha.

I was most fascinated by this display of roaches under the broom. Ewww, just imagine what is in the dark corners of *your* house.

Roaches, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

I got a few more pics from the zoo on Flickr

Still here

People have been bugging me to update the website. So Here a post about plans to post more often. :) Stay tuned.

4th of July

.... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...

fireworks, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Knuth to make "earth shattering" announcement?

I just started reading Knuth's book Digital Typography today (here's a paper included in the book). Anyone of us reading anything typeset on a computer (that's everyone reading this blog!) owes a lot to the man. Now I learn via slashdot that Knuth is set to announce something "earth shattering" tomorrow!

Is Volume 4 finally coming out? Will Windows get METAFONT support? I guess we'll find out soon!

Update: Apparently, it was some sort of joke. Knuth trolled the world :P

Ready to wear

Thanks to Netflix, Ive recently been able to watch a bunch of older movies (like Blade Runner and Citizen Kane) that I've been meaning to watch, but never had the energy to hunt down. I just saw Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter tonight. I remember seeing it in the theater when it came out in the 90s; I was kind of struck by the movie and yet was utterly confused at the end. Well, it seems I was confused because the Philippines's censors butchered the ending! Can't have nudity, you know.

Just like when they cut the suicide scene out of Romeo and Juliet. Er, Romeo + Juliet which was a good enough movie if you discount the girls behind me in the theater who were shrieking every time Leonardo ("ang gwapo ni Leo!!!!") had a scene. Good thing I now live in a country where no entity has the power to arbitrarily censor works of art!

My iPad

While everyone's queueing for their new iPhones, I just got an iPad. I'm using it a lot more than I thought I would. It's great for bathroom reading! It's not without flaws however... I can't really figure out how to hold it. My thumb is always accidentally on the screen.

Also, I wish I could develop iPad apps in the iPad. Even something limited, like a modern-day version of BASIC that used to come with every computer.

my ipad, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Box of ramen

I ordered a box of ramen from just because I can. I probably could find these at the local asian groceries, but somehow ordering online is more fun. :P

Box of ramen, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Summer Vacation 2010: Angkor

Our trip to Cambodia was so much fun, despite the extremely hot weather. Marion and Tom have written about the trip. And since they have better memories and English composition skills, you should just read the links. :)

I have more pictures here.

Group picture in front of Angkor Wat, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Summer vacation 2010: Coron + Batangas

It's still spring in Seattle, but summer is in full swing here in the Philippines. Vacation is off to a good start, with a 4 day trip to Coron, Palawan. Then, not having had enough time on the beach, took a day trip to Batangas after 1 day rest at home.

Martha and Me, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Updating my blog

You might have noticed that I've tweaked some of this blog's look and feel. It's a work in progress, pardon the dust.

Unique Lunch

Every couple of weeks, my friends and I go out to have lunch together. The rule is simple, every time we go out to eat, it has to be somewhere new; we are not allowed to eat at the same place twice. We've done this 4 or 5 times now. This week, we went and ate at a pork truck.

Maximus minimus

The mobile eatery is called Maximus/Minimus. They basically serve pulled pork sandwiches (they have a vegetarian sandwich too, so Pooja didn't go hungry). The sandwiches are good, but eating them by a mobile pig just completes the experience.

Hiking Lake Serene

Went hiking with Rob to Lake Serene on Saturday. It was a pretty steep 3 mile hike to the peak, and my legs were sore for a couple of days after. But the hike paid off with some of the most majestic views of a frozen lake under towering peaks.

It's hard to convey the vastness of the scene with a photograph. There's a little side trip to a falls as well, which has a different kind of grandness. It might be worth going back in the summer when things have thawed. I have a few more pics on flickr.

Lake serene view, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

This blog has moved

Welcome to the new blog, same as the old blog. Google is deprecating the old ftp style blog, so I've migrated to having them host it. Probably all for the best.

Thought about pre-odering an iPad today...

But decided not to. I've been having some gadget lust lately, lol. Spent a lot of time looking at digital cameras on Amazon. Anyone want to buy me an S90?

Oh well... Your camera doesn't matter.


Our team's morale event was skiing at Crystal Mountain. I almost forgot that (1) I really liked skiing and (2) I'm horrible at it. Lol, only fell down once though. That's a record for me.

Me at Crystal Mountain, originally uploaded by flyingroc.

Marlon's visit

Finally found some time to put up a few pics from Marlon's visit. Marlon was here for some sort of boot camp thinger on some sort of business scorecard thing. Lol, all I know was that it was an excuse to fly out to San Diego. Traveling more is after all part of my new year's resolution.

It was fun whirlwind tour of 3 cities in 5 days.

Solving my shoelace problem

The way I used to tie my shoelaces, they would come undone every few minutes. So much that I just wore them untied a lot of times. As usual, the internet comes to the rescue and I found Ian's secure knot. I've been tying my shoelaces like that for a couple of weeks now, and they haven't come undone so far!

Ian has plenty more stuff about shoelaces at Ian's shoelace site. He may have just saved me from an inglorious death of tripping over my own shoelaces.


Had a fun time in Amarillo, Texas, visiting my cousin Matt. The sky is so wide open in Texas, almost as if you can see all the way to heaven.

Palo Duro Canyon Park

We also drove to Lubbock to see Bibins, who I learned is now engaged. Congratulations! Matt got a speeding ticket on the way back to Amarillo. I didn't even realize we were going so fast--the roads were so straight and even. It was really good to have a change of scenery; the sun and the sky comes out so rarely in the winter here that I almost forgot what they looked like.

New Year's Resolutions

Last year's resolution was "keep a tidier apartment." I don't think I can say I kept that one. So this year's resolutions are hopefully easier to achieve--do more of things that feel good:

  • Read more, fill up that book collection
  • Travel more, even if it just means taking the ferry to Vashon island
  • Explore more restaurants
  • Pay off my car

And ultimately, have more fun.