Starbucks Coffee 2007 Planner

\"Starbucks\"I\’m actually game enough to complete the Starbucks promo this year. Last year, I only had two (2) stickers which is somewhat pathetic because I didn\’t bother collecting the stickers even though I love Frappuccino. Today I collected 2 stickers.

I\’m joining the Starbucks bandwagon because most people in our office would like to collect the limited edition Starbucks Coffee 2007 Planner, and I certainly want one just for fun. It would hurt my budget a bit but I guess the coffee experience is worth it. Since I frequently get sleepy in the afternoon, it\’s very timely to have an ice or Frappuccino blended coffee break at those times. Let\’s see and wait if I would be able to collect 21 stickers to claim the planner. :P

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PC Hardware, Mix and Match

For the last two weeks, I\’ve been buying and selling computer parts in order to upgrade my Pentium 3 computer.

Initially, I bought a 2nd hand 1.0 Ghz Pentium III socket 370 (Coppermine) together with a motherboard, all for P1700. Then, I also bought an old Nvidia Riva TNT2 64mb graphics card for only P300. So I was able to upgrade my testing PC for only P2000.

The older motherboard of my Pentium III 550 Mhz slot 1 (Katmai) seems to be already defective because I have tested the memory modules and they seemed to be free from errors. I don\’t plan to sell the old 550mhz P3 slot 1 because I would collect it. :P I have a small collection of processors at home, starting from an x86 AMD processor I collected from my neighbor\’s PC parts and a 133 Mhz Pentium 1 from my old Compaq Prolinea 575. I\’m starting to fascinate with processors. The trend with processor is obvious — multi-core is in, single core is out. It\’s probable that about 5 years from now, single core processors would be history already.

The P3 Coppermine\’s motherboard is problematic with Ubuntu. I tried other distros but the LAN card and PCI graphics card could not be identified properly so I resold it the same price I bought it just to \”dispose\” it as fast as I could (I don\’t want my room to serve as stock room). I bundled it with 256 Mb Kingston SDRAM so the whole package costed P2,300. Right now I have a Pentium 4 1.6Ghz socket 478 (Northwood) in ECS PF1/648 motherboard bundle which I bought for only P3000. I had to take one 256Mb Geil DDR off my Pentium 4 2.4c to make it run.

I sold my old Linksys router for P1300 because I recently replaced it with a new wireless router (also Linksys). So, if I compute the total money I cashed out in order to replace my old P3, that\’s P1700 + P300 + P3000 – P2300 – P1300 = P1400. If I would sell the semi-defective P3 motherboard and P3 processor, and its 64 Mb SDRAM leftover, I would have probably even out my expenses. Nowadays, PC hardware could be dirt cheap.

My purpose of building this P4 system is for me to experiment with Ubuntu during my free time, and use it as a tunneled proxy server in the office. I will resell this lower-end Pentium 4 and I expect to get back at least 90% of the money I spent with it. Then, I\’ll get a brand new Core 2 Duo system this Christmas to replace my primary workstation at home. :)

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Halloween Sickness

I\’m not sick of spooky costumes, decorations or whatever, I\’m just sick — as in ILL.

Last Sunday, I felt that my body was aching so much like I was battered or something to that effect. I was still able to watch a movie and eat Whooper at Burger King, but the next day, I suddenly felt feverish. I could not withstand the coldness in our office anymore even if I am wearing 3 layers of clothes. I tried to stay back but I could not tolerate my shivering anymore. I decided to go back home after lunch.

It seems that I have flu — symptoms include fever, combined with colds, headache and sore throat. I don\’t mind most of these except sore throat because I could not easily recover from sore throat. Most of the times, it will develop to tonsillitis which is even more problematic. As a child,¬†tonsillitis¬†was my common illness.

Good thing, it was Ramadan last Tuesday and was a public holiday so I was able to rest the entire day. With the help of medicines, I was able to recover soon. I went to office from Wednesday to Friday with slight fever and colds. It\’s not fun but I needed to work since I don\’t believe that I could get any better lying in bed.

If I could have just taken multivitamins more often, I\’m probably more resistant to flu and other common virus. Well, lesson learned. I should not let stress and fatigue get the best of my work and life. Sa panahon ngayon, bawal ang magkasakit.

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The Departed Infernal Affairs

I watched the movie \”The Departed\” this afternoon and I was really entertained. I didn\’t expect much at the beginning because I knew from reviews that it is a remake of a Hong Kong 2002 movie \”Infernal Affairs\”. I haven\’t watched the original so I did not have any idea how the remake would be.

It\’s a cop movie but there\’s not much chase-and-run scenes here. It\’s a detective story with a perfect blend of action thriller and drama.

Set in Boston, the undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) joined the mob syndicated lead by Costello (Jack Nicholson). He leaks information to South Boston Police Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg). On the other hand, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) gained high position in the Special Investigation Unit using his wit and raw talent in solving cases while serving as Costello\’s mole in the police. Soon, Costigan and Sullivan would have to unveal the identity of the mole so it became a race against time on who would be the first one to uncover the true identity of the other one.

I\’ll just jump to the ending but I won\’t tell any spoiler here. It is shocking. If you haven\’t watched the original movie, you will be surprised. It\’s not the way I would imagine the ending of the characters at all. The twist is just too unforgiving.

Since then, I wanted to know more about the film so I watched \”Infernal Affairs\” and I found out that the ending of \”The Departed\” departed from the the original. I would prefer the ending of the original but the ending of \”The Departed\” is also brilliant. There were subtle differences in the story but \”The Departed\” is essentially an American remake with added action and a bed scene. There\’s only one woman involved with Sullivan and Costigan but in \”Infernal Affairs\” there were several. I would think that at some point, the original is better than the remake but I would rate the two of them 5/5 solely for the story. \”The Departed\” was Americanized and re-interpreted to suit the environment in Boston since Hong Kong police is very different. And since \”The Departed\” has a different ending, there won\’t be any sequel to it unlike \”Infernal Affairs\” that has a sequel. However, I doubt that Hollywood would remake a sequel. That is way too much…

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DIY PSU Installation

Today I have to uninstall the faulty six-years old power supply unit (PSU) in my old Pentium III PC so that I could install a relatively-new-yet-old power supply which currently works only half of the time. What I plan to do is buy a branded power supply unit with twin fan for my Pentium 4 PC and replace the semi-faulty power supply in my Pentium III computer so that every power-related problem I have with my PC will be resolved. I run my primary PC 24/7 so I have to buy a reliable power supply geared towards the overclocker enthusiasts to avoid heat problems resulting to abnormal shutdowns.

I\’m quite hesitant at the moment because I\’m deciding to buy an Enermax EG465P-VE (430 Watts) power supply. At the moment, I have a generic 350 Watts PSU which is not enough according to my experience. Even though my PC is quite aged already, collectively I have 5 fans to keep the system cool including the fan for graphics card, the chip set and the processor. I also have one extra fan at the side of the casing and an exhaust system fan at the back of the tower casing. Include my devices that hooks to my USB ports — printer, scanner, mouse, and occasionally my flash disk and Nokia phone cable — that\’s already 5 devices. Inside, I have an integrated 10/100 LAN card, integrated sound card, Radeon 9550 256 MB video card, 1 Gig DDR memory and an \”extension\” card containing firewire and additional USB ports. I run 2 hard disks, a DVD-writer and a floppy drive which I have not used for almost 3 years. I may plug in more devices in the future so to make my upgrade future proof, I think that a 430 Watts PSU would be the right choice. I have read very good reviews about Enermax and it seems to be the most available PSU in my favorite PC shop.

Why do I have to do all these? Well, first of all, I want to transfer the current PSU in my primary PC to my old PC to replace the PSU it has, yet again. Secondly, I do not want my PC to restart every day due to heat problems. I care for the integrity of the data in PC because some of them are really precious to me. I have created back ups but it\’s too troublesome to find out one day that my PC is clinically dead due to power supply issues. I do not want that happening to me since I do not have much time for PC repairs during weekdays.

Perhaps I will buy my new PSU on my next salary and I\’ll post a review about it after I have used it continuously in a week.

Btw, the main reason I am hesitant to buy the Enermax PSU even though I\’m almost ready to buy it is because of the price… I\’ll have to shell out 4k just for the unit. I should have been saving up for PS3, not PSU! x_x

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Canyon Woods

\"CanyonI\’m really running out of luck. I have to spend a little more money last Saturday. Our team has to threat our Belgian boss to tourist spots as part of his visit in the Philippines. Tagaytay is one of the more accessible places we could bring him. Of course, we want him to remember his visit in the Philippines as one of his most memorable and heart-warming experience.

Canyon Woods is an excellent choice because it is in touch with the nature and has complete amenities for group activities such as bowling, badminton, mini golf, basketball, swimming, etc. Our team leader is so resourceful that even if we did not have membership, we still got a decent package for the trip.

Our group has to split into several smaller groups. Five (5) people drove their car and carried passengers. I\’m just a passenger and I was assigned to ride inside my boss\’ car. She drives a Honda Civic 2004 model. There were three (3) Civics altogether and 2 other cars. The plan was to meet at 6750 Ayala Bldg between 8:00 to 8:30 AM but most people arrive between 8:30 to 9:15 AM. I really thought that most of them would be punctual. Apparently, they were not. I arrived 3rd out of 25 people!

So now that the attendees were complete, we rode inside our respective cars assignments and headed to Tagaytay immediately. I\’m not sure how the organizers delegated the car assignments I wasn\’t sure enough why I was riding the car of my boss — and with the Belgian guy as well. It was pretty challenging to keep up with the conversation. There were two more passengers at the back seat. During the entire trip going to Tagaytay, the conversation centered around music and iPod because my boss have this kind of iPod transmitter accessory that creates local radio frequency so that you can tune in to your own custom radio station. You won\’t plug in your iPod to the car stereo; the music is played back as if you are listening to normal radio station. It\’s quite cool and my boss has a wide variety of songs from that everyone can listen to. She let us play with her iPod so that everyone gets to play his or her own type of music while we were on the road.

And so we arrive at Canyon Woods. We were not the last group to arrive, but we were second to the last. We arrive there at around 11:30 so the day snacks and lunch were prepared at the table at the same time. I did not appreciate the day snack and practically everyone did not eat it. What a waste.

The first activity was \”Nature\’s Trail\”. I thought we were going to ride an elephant or something along that line but I was greatly mistaken. We were supposed to walk on the rocky trail. So we took the nature\’s trail around Canyon Woods. It was quite exhausting since the tracks were quite steep and hard to hike. There were also hanging bridges to add adventure. We walked more than 30 minutes and at the end of the trail, everyone was sweating and panting like dogs. It was really exhilarating. We ended up at the other side of Canyon Woods and we did not want to walk back at where we started so we called the bus service to fetch us from our location. Very convenient indeed.

We had our delicious lunch and within minutes, people started to do their own stuffs. I chose to play Bowling with the majority of the group. I must admit I suck at playing bowling now since I didn\’t have any practice for the last 3 years! All along I was really eager to play bowling but I did not have chance. I like bowling and I really hate it when I couldn\’t get a strike.

After bowling, I decided to be alone for a while and paddle the boat at the pond. The boat should be run by two people but since I do not have a partner on the boat, I paddled the boat all alone. It was fun hanging around with the solitary duck in the pond. That duck became the center of my attention. I tried to catch the duck but even if I paddled the boat as fast as I could, I could not come closer to the duck! How pathetic. My muscles were already aching due to excessive paddling so I stopped.

The afternoon snack was served by 4:00 pm. Together with our boss and some of my colleagues, we played Taboo at the lobby. It was exciting because it was my first time playing the word guessing game. Later on, the group decided to play badminton so borrowed rackets so I could play doubles with them. The more interesting part is when my boss participated the match and she was a complete beginner.

While we where enjoying our own stuffs, some guys played basketball and billiards. I could not track what the rest of the people did but I\’m sure we were all having fun. We had to leave Canyon Woods already and we were way late to our schedule time of departure. Some people went to massage parlor while the majority waits. For the record, we are not yet done even though we were all exhausted already.

To call it a \”day\” we have to eat our dinner outside. All of us dined in together just like one big happy family. It was like a festive season. We ordered a set of meals that was good enough for 25 people. We ended the night with picture taking and farewell to our Belgian boss. It was a day full of sporty activities, team building and bonding.

Links:
Canyon Woods: www.canyonwoods.com

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Haiku and California Pizza Kitchen

\"CPK\"I normally do not eat in a fine dining restaurant but my preference on dining changed a bit when I started earning money out of my own effort. Before I got a job I won\’t even dare entering these kind of restaurants. Now, I could occasionally eat good food since I could afford my own expenses. Of course, I do not go to these restaurants too often. Going once or twice a week is enough. Sometimes, I even think that going to expensive restaurant twice a week is a little bit excessive and impractical since a decent meal from a fast food restaurant would suffice. However, it has become part of my routine already. During Fridays, my officemates would eat outside; within the vicinity of Makati CBD. I like their company so I go with them. Our lunch would take longer than usual. It\’s a common practice ever since.

Recently, one of our boss from the upper management in Belgium visited Philippines. He\’s our direct boss; the counterpart of our department manager in the Philippines to Belgium. To welcome his presence, our team leader and people manager organized a big dinner in Haiku at Greenbelt 3. I didn\’t know the menu but it\’s very Japanese. I ordered the famous Katsudon (breaded pork). I wanted to try how their Katsudon compares to other Japanese restaurant. Then, I ordered Four Seasons drink. After several minutes, the meals were served. Their Katsudon was okay but I really don\’t think it\’s better than Tokyo Tokyo. I actually preferred Toyko Tokyo\’s Katsudon because it is crispier. Haiku\’s Katsudon was more tender and is comparable to authentic Japanese Katsudon. Our Belgian boss enjoyed the food and I think he realized that we were all eating Japanese foods; not Philippine foods. And so, we dared him try some exotic Pinoy food — Balot and Penoy. We couldn\’t really persuade him because he insisted that we would only eat Balot, if and only if, all members of our team eat Balot. To me, it\’s not a problem at all but to so some people, it\’s almost a Fear Factor challenge.

Then, I tried California Pizza Kitchen to eat some pasta. At first, I would like to try their pizzas but due to time constrain, I chose pasta. I suspected that pizzas would take some time to prepare so I just took Chicken Kung Pao Spaghetti instead. It\’s a hot and spicy oriental spaghetti. It was truly one of the best pasta I have tasted recently. I think I have to try more of their pasta to evaluate how good CPK really is. :) My only complain is the slow service of CPK. Well, what do you expect. They are not a fast food chain anyway. They took more than 25 minutes to prepare the pasta and it\’s not even a \”full\” dish. I only ordered \”half\” dish. Is it really normal to wait that long if you ordered in a fine dining restaurant?

Link:
California Pizza Kitchen

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