Thursday, June 19, 2008

Organizing a Release Party in 30 Seconds

The irc post that started it all

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, a.k.a. Hardy Heron, was announced available last April 24. A day before that, just out of somewhere in IRC, Jerome suggested having a release party. Within ~30sec, I agreed without thinking. All I knew was that there hasn't a release party for a couple or so previous releases and I wasn't able to attend any before--so I was excited to attend one this time. Knowing how busy Jerome and many of the fellow Ubunteros in IRC were, I decided to step forward to at least make it known that a release party was in the works. I left an email in the ubuntu-ph mailing list, and hoped that the others would join the bandwagon. I simply wanted to start it after all, then let the community drive itself. To my surprise, the community did work by itself. The idea was echoed in the forums, and was frequently talked about in IRC. Cool. Now I'll just have to wait for a week and see what the people have come up with so I can just jump back in. The party was scheduled in May 2, about a week after the release, and the meeting place was set to McDonald's in El Pueblo.

The week passed and the day of the release party came. I checked the mailing list, the forum thread and IRC for updates and to know who will attend and how many. Looks like a lot are attending, I thought, now to check on Jerome. My xchat tab for #ubuntu-ph was highlighted blue, which means my name was mentioned in a post. Unfortunately, something came up in Jerome's side and he won't be attending the release party anymore. To add suspense to it, it began raining hard at Jucato's place and the condition made it harder for him to get out. Without the Ubuntu members in the party, I thought it's gonna be difficult. With nobody to lead the pack, I just had to count on spontaneity and the flash mob thingy that Jerome kept on insisting.

At that point, a couple of hours before the meetup, I felt gloomy and thought that we won't have a successful release party--being too spontaneous and with no plans at all. I hoped the attendees didn't expect too much. Suddenly, a voice in my head said, Just do it! I had to take responsibility since I raised it in the community first. With that pressure taken into account and the encouragement and positivity of the voice in my head, I quickly prepared the iso's for the burnfest and packed some other stuff to share. A few minutes later, it was mentioned in IRC that Jucato was on his way. Good news, he decided to attend. But he'll surely be late because of the terrible traffic at EDSA that time. So, off to El Pueblo I hurriedly went. There were lots to assemble, there were lots to get to know.

"Let's do this!", I thought aloud as I got out of the office building.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Conquer the Mountains With Conquer!

Bleh. Cheesy title. Anyway, I just wanted to keep track of what I started collecting--hiking gear!

First is one of the items I deem seriously essential, the backpack. This device of synthetic material will contain everything else you need in order to survive convenently in the mountains. Take note, I said survive conveniently. Well that's because man can survive even without one. He needs a computer. Haha, bad joke!

Continuing, here is what I currently use--a Conquer Navigator 35! I bought this for just around ~Php2k in the Conquer Mountaineering Shop in Robinson's Pioneer. I used this in our weekend get-away to Anawangin Cove, Zambales.

Conquer Navigator 35 (front)

Conquer Navigator 35 (back)

Conquer Navigator 35 (side)

In looking for a backpack, here are the factors I take into account:

  • Capacity. This basically determines how much you can bring throughout your stay in the mountains. Think water, food rations, clothing, shelter, utilities, etc. Almost everything.

  • Convenience. How the bag comfortably fits your back is how I describe this. Check the shoulder straps, the pad that touches your back, the form factor. You won't last an hour climbing if you keep on fidgeting with your turtleshell backpack! It pays to have something you can just leave in your back without any worries. The key is to let the bag hug you to keep your hands free. You may need to use your hands for urgent matters like balancing along the trail, holding onto trees for support, or even holding your lover's hand for the emotional support! Hehe. Kidding aside, another thing to consider is accessibility. Reaching out for a sip of water from your tumbler shouldn't take long. The same goes when you need to munch on a few trail snacks. Remember, easy access is convenient. You would drag the entire troop down and cause delays if you didn't keep this in mind.

  • Material. It would really help if the backpack is durable enough to stand against the rocks and harsh vegetations in the mountains, and water-resistant/proof to protect the stuff inside from the rain. A water-resistant/proof bag will also spare you the extra water weight the bag absorbs.

The following are the good-to-have features I look for in a backpack:

  • Compressibility. Who wants to bring a bulky backpack anyway? For this, look out for the compression straps. These will prevent shaking and it will keep your backpack solid throughout the hike.

  • Sternum Strap. On rough trails, a shoulder strap falling off your shoulder is one thing you wouldn't want to happen. For one, this will force you to use your hands to hold your luggage while traversing the trail--we don't want that, do we? Another is, when you're carrying a backpack to last a few days, it sure will be very heavy and could probably throw you off balance. Just hope it isn't a steep slope. The sternum strap will do the job of keeping the shoulder straps on your shoulders.

  • Hipbelt. This thing will make your backpack hug you tighter. Remember, be one with the baaag...

  • Mesh Compartments. Getting stuff wet is inevitable. Mesh compartments are located in the outer parts of the backpack so you can put the wet stuff there to drip. Some bags have mesh linings in the bottoms of the side pouches, that's pretty useful too. I put my water containers there.

  • Utility Pouch. I'm what you can say an organized guy when it comes to utilities. I want them where I expect them to be when I need them. Most bags have lots of zippers/pockets/pouches in the outer compartment. That's good enough for my knife, flashlight, etc.

  • Easy Access Pouch. In big backpacks, they have what they call the top load. Daypacks don't have it. Instead, they have a small compartment in the top part of the bag, I call it the Easy Access Pouch. That's where I put the trail food, some first aid stuff, and other essential stuff.

  • Duffel-type Main Compartment. I grew up using a Duffel bag in school, so I'm accustomed to having something like this in a backpack. My reasons for wanting this is:

    1. you can easily open/close the main compartment

    2. it'll make the bag flexible because you can adjust the volume of the compartment

    3. zippers are easily thrown off the zipper-track

My Navigator 35 is a daypack, the 35 stands for "35L Capacity" that's good enough for 3-4days in the mountains. Before I bought it, I first checked how big it would be when stuffed. Then I inspected the manufacturing, it was water resistant and had durable layers. It was an internal frame-type so it had two aluminum bars in the backpad. Internal frame backpacks are most suited to fit you because they have the aluminum bars shaped just right for your back.

Then I tried the shoulder straps. It had S-shaped straps and was very comfy. The sternum strap was flexible and strong enough to hold the shoulder straps. To add, there were also load lifter straps! How convenient, you can adjust the position of the bulk of the backpack by adjusting the load lifter straps--adds to the comfyness. Hehe. After that, I tried the compression straps to see if it didn't strain too much. Two of the compression straps were connected to the bladder pouch, so it adds to the coverage being compressed. I don't use bladders anyway.

The hipbelt was already comfy by itself, but the lumbar pad was awesome! Everything fit right! So I then checked the outer compartment, to see if there were significant pockets I could put my utilities in. "Lotsa pockets!," I thought. It was what they call a technical backpack, for all the pockets to keep you organized. There was a small compartment right above the utility pouch, the thing I call the Easy Access Pouch, and it was spacious enough for the trail food.

Oh there was a secret compartment in the bottom too! It houses the bag's cover against strong rains. That's another bonus I appreciate well. Other bags don't have that, you'll have to purchase a separate one for approximately Php500. And as you can see in the back view of the bag, there's a "Hydro Hole" patch there. The tube to the bladder passes through that hole. But then again, I don't use bladders.

Right... Everything was just right, except for the main compartment. It was a zipper-type! Who cares? I just have to live with it. I doubt there are still backpack manufacturers who make Duffel-type ones. Besides, I'm getting used to it already. And the value? Very good. Other brands cost over 150% of my Navigator and still don't provide what my mine can. Daypacks shouldn't be overrated, don't you think so?

Here are the links to the pictures on the Anawangin Cove adventure:

Ubuntunerong Vizcayano

j u ne 1i

kapichuran, kablogblogan at mga bentables ni ja

More pics from:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Digging Out Memories

Earlier today, me and my siblings completed the major cleaning in the house. We had to re-arrange the furniture, dispose some old stuff and vacuum out those cobwebs and dust balls in the most inaccessible parts of the house. This was to get the house free of allergens before our mom gets out of the hospital tomorrow. Mom was in the hospital most of the week for suffering heavy chest pains. It's surprising that she acquired allergic reactions only lately in her age.

It's been three years since I last cleaned up my stuff in the house--figures how long I'm staying in Manila by myself! I have my stuff of my earlier years sealed in a few boxes. A couple containing elementary school stuff--notebooks, books, medals, toys, puppy love letters, art materials, electronic stuff and anything I've fiddled at that stage of my life. There's a box containing stuff from high school--notes in a few sheets (not notebooks, I was lazy to write notes then), over-eighteen-magazines, deep-think-readables (I thought over my age during my high school), hobby books, trading cards, fan mail and love letters (from girls of other schools), more art materials and still more electronics.

Then there's another big box for my college years. That box contained lecture notes, more notes, serious notes and more scribbled-out-of-the-normal notes (hehe, I was really being radical then). Aside from notes, there are also lecture hand-outs, exercise questionnaires and exam booklets. In UP, we call it the bluebook--because it is literally colored blue! It has 7 leaves, the outermost being blue, stapled in the middle that makes 12 pages to write on. The bluebook is what the institution considers the official answering material for exercises, quizzes and exams. Be it an objective-type of exam or a cover-to-cover terror-type of essay exam. Back in my time, the bluebook costed Php1.25 and can be purchased in the campus cooperative store or in any bookstore outside the campus. Others use it as a notebook, I used it to record Go and Chess games and scribble lots of stuff. Heck, I even made a comic with it!

Looking through my bluebooks in college, I saw again what I buried deep in my stuff. With a score of 5 out of 90, it was a nightmare! With an essay-type of exam for an objective subject, I don't think anyone got a passing grade then! I'll never forget that terror teacher, maybe that's her way of having us remember her! I got score of 130 out of 100 on a subject I really was good at. I also remember getting a score of 2.5 out of 50. At first I read it as 25, only to be really disappointed when I noticed there was a really tiny decimal point between the digits. It was a long quiz on my first of two takes of STAT 101. Then there was one on which my professor had something written like, "You don't need to take this exam. There will, however, be an incentive if you do take this." Wahahaha! Ayun, uno! Social sciences and Humanities was good to me!

It was fun reminiscing that crazy part of my life. Though I admit feeling terrible for remembering only when I see those stuff. Without those, I don't think I can recall the past (is that a bad thing?). And now, I had to dispose some the dusty artifacts. I knew back then when I sorted those out that I still needed those. I think I got that habit from my dad, he always keeps lots of old stuff. Today, I opened those stuff again to see which stays, which didn't last long, which caught lots of dust and which had to go.

It was fun digging out memories. I'm sure there's more, and I hope I get to share them again with the ones I made them with.