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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, [...] but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons are not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and said, 'They're scared to pass the ocen, it's too far.'

- Richard Dorson

There is no better way to start a review on American Gods than state the quote written at the start of Neil Gaiman's bestselling novel.

Synopsis: Shadow dreamed of nothing but leaving prison and starting a new life. But the day before his release, his wife and best friend are killed in an accident. On the plane home to the funeral, he meets Mr. Wednesday — a beguiling stranger who seems to know everything about him. A trickster and rogue, Mr. Wednesday offers Shadow a job as his bodyguard. With nowhere left to go, Shadow accepts, and soon learns that his role in Mr. Wednesday's schemes will be far more dangerous and dark than he could have ever imagined. For beneath the placid surface of everyday life a war is being fought — and the prize is the very soul of America.[Source: Powell's books online ]

The novel starts in such a low tone that I had to drag myself to read the first few chapters, but it's just right that it sets the mood for what the main character is experiencing. Though when Shadow starts to accompany Wednesday, everything turns interesting and very intriguing. As every charpter of the first part passes through, you get to see yourself getting more and more immersed in a world where the impossible becomes possible while, at the same time, the boundless is bound by the limits of the modern world.

The second part of the book, we get a taste of how our world would work like, reminding us that despite all of the possibilities, we still live in the same world that we had been before. Also, this is my favorite part of all the four parts since it helps us understand more about Shadow, what kind of person he really is and not a shallow person as presented on the first part.

The third and the last parts will be just a breeze, since one cannot stop reading or even put the book down. Revelations come after another until the ultimate sacrifice and secret is revealed.

If you are to think of the concept of the book, one thinks its impossible to be written, much less for it to be believable. But Gaiman is just amazing. He has made a feat that no modern writer would be able to do (yes, I dare say that, Stephen King). He makes this world of the gods very real, that one may even consider that it exist in our world. As I've said before, he uses magic to create a place where the impossible becomes very possible yet is still bound by the rules of the modern world.

American Gods is a must read, whether you're a Neil Gaiman fan or not. Five stars out of five!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pinoy on Technology

The surge of the use of technology and the boost of social networking sites these days is proved to also be true with the Filipinos. Juan de la Cruz seems not to far to the currents trend, just as recent surveys has showed.

First up, the just released 2008 Functional Literacy and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) results indicated that 58 million of the estimated 67 million Pinoy with ages 10 to 64 years old are functionally literate, or they can read, write, compute, and comprehend. This is a big improvement as to the functional literacy rate is now 86.4% compared to the 2003 FLEMMS result, which was 84.1%. More details of the report can be read in The Manila Bulletin official website.

On another hand, the latest report of the IT research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. states that the Philippines leads Asia on worldwide social media usage. In simpler terms, Pinoys are the most avid users of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in Asia.

The report had said that, "While Asia's biggest economies have been slow to embrace the global social communities of Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, many countries in the region have followed the adoption patterns of Europe and the US. The most avid social networkers are in the Philippines, where Facebook is the country's most visited Internet site."

Does the two reports mean something that is good, I don't know? But it does mean that we are improving. Despite of the problems we encounter, I am still proud to be pinoy! Yeeehaa!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Computer Games and Surveys

A former student of mine asked my help with a paper in one of their classes (I'd assume in Filipino) and it made me think of some of my stand on computer gaming. Well, it was a little research wherein I would answer few questions. Well, I'm not a fan of surveys but since she was good in my class (and a very nice student), I gave in. Just wanna share my answers. (translated in english)

1. What is your current profession?
I am currently teaching computer to high school students in Ateneo de Iloilo.

2. How old are you?

3. Why are you giving importance to playing computer games?
Playing computer games help me with my focus on tasks ahead of me. On instances that I'm fatigued with work, along with opening social networking sites, it helps me clear my mind off things, giving me the more opportunity to compose my thoughts better.

4. When you were still studying, how do you manage your time between playing computer games and your studies?
To be honest, during my college years, I got addicted to online games. It came to the point where I skip classes just to play. I do not know how, but it came to point where I realized it was unhealthy, so I made a decision to leave my 3 year old account and give more focus with my studies. though I still use game applications, online games are off-limits.

5. Why are you giving all your with playing computer games?
During the times where I was addicted to online games, the main reason why I continue playing is because it gives me a sort of feeling of fulfillment. Finishing quests and leveling up increased my confidence and self-esteem. (It was only later that I realized it does the opposite)

Please understand that these was true in my came but may not be for you. Don't try this at home! LOL! Yadda!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Google Doodles!

Google's best feature for me is their Doodles, or the change of their logos every time there is an occasion, whether it is globally or for a certain region only.

Well, I enjoy looking at the logos, and it entices viewers to use Google more! Take a look at their logo last April 22, 2010, Earth Day.

Earth Day

Also, I liked their Philippine Independence Day logo. Try to check it out. They list all their logos at Google Doodles page.

Sorry for not being able to write well these days. Been very tired and exhausted. Yadda next time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Now, we all know that this blog's purpose is to seek and prove that still, there is a human side for technology. This in fact is also the purpose of almost all advocates of the correct usage of technology. Well, we just got another day, today, to prove our gift of maintaining humanity in this modern and technological age.

Today is Earth Day!

According to Wikipedia.Org,
Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. The first Earth Week originated in Philadelphia in 1970 (starting April 16 and culminating on Earth Day, April 22.) Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 on virtually every country on Earth. World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the principal United Nations environmental observance.

So what's the whole point of celebrating this day? This gives us, as users and beneficent of Mother Nature, the responsibility to take part and be aware of protecting her, not just today, but any other day of the year. What do we need it for? Why do it? Why not depend on technology? The answers to these questions are already known to us. It's either we embrace it or we pretend not to know.

Happy Earth Day!

(Photo source: http://www.theothero.com/media/2009/090422_earthday/earth_day.jpg)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Blogger's Code of Ethics

Sorry, been a while since my last post. Been very very busy at work. Damn! Now I really know why teaching is called a vocation! Haha!

Anyways, I thought of dropping by now because a co-teacher of mine placed something on my table. Now, I've been familiar of this Blogger's Code of Ethics before, still, it was a nice thought that he shared it with me. So here I am, sharing it to the world. Just wanna let you know that this list came from Cyber Journalist.

Here we go:


Be Honest and Fair

  • Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Bloggers should:
  • Never plagiarize.
  • Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
  • Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
  • Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
  • Never publish information they know is inaccurate -- and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it's in doubt.
  • Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
  • Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

Minimize Harm

  • Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.
  • Bloggers should:
  • Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
  • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.
  • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.

Be Accountable
Bloggers should:

  • Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
  • Explain each Weblog's mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers' conduct.
  • Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
  • Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
  • Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
Nice list, eh?

I'll try to update The Human Side of Technology, at the same time, my Ateneo de Iloilo Computer Teaching blogsite.