Daily Drawing: Nadine and Helix

Nadine and Helix. Click here for the bigger picture.I wanted to post this yesterday but I only finished it just before going to bed. It’s another drawing I quickly sketched up just to meet my goal of drawing something worth posting everyday for practice. As you can see, it’s not the most polished work I’ve drawn to date but I figured it’s good enough to upload.

For those of you who haven’t read my Lovarian Adventures comic, these are two of five main characters of the series: Helix (rogue character) and Nadine (suspected mentally unstable warrior). Before I start drawing the comic again, I want to create new character designs for the lead characters. So here, I deviated from their de facto costumes.

I’ll try to have a more polished drawing for next time though.

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Published in: on August 19, 2005 at 12:30 pm  Comments (2)  

Redirected Old Blogger Posts to WordPress Posts

I spent quite a bit of time just trying to figure out how to redirect my 200-odd old Blogger-created blog posts to their corresponding posts. Before switching hosts last week, I used Blogger to maintain the Palabok blog. A single post would have a URL in the following format:

http://palabok.com/2005/12/topic-title-here.asp
(Yeah, the old host is an ASP/ASP.Net host)

When I started the new WordPress-powered Palabok blog, I chose the following permalink format:

http://palabok.com/salansan/123
(where 123 is the Post ID)

I didn’t know how to use redirects in .htaccess at the time so what I did was use my new host’s cPanel interface to redirect my pages for me. It was a very time consuming procedure, let me tell you. For each page I had, I had to go through two forms just to set up a redirection for it.

Later on I realized that what it was doing was simply adding a simple line for each redirection I created in the .htaccess file on my root folder. Since we had over 200 posts at the time, the resulting file was a bit long. Here is a line of redirection added by cPanel to my .htaccess file:

RedirectMatch permanent ^/2004/09/settling-in.asp$ http://palabok.com/salansan/3

Before I moved from Blogger, Palabok’s Google rank seemed to be quite high because we would consistently come up in the first 20 links on topics that were discussed on the blog. Now, using the same search criteria that used to give us a lot of hits, the site no longer appears on the first 20 links (if at all).

I then decided to change my permalink format hoping that it would improve my ranking with Google again. I used a new format that is similar to the old Blogger-powered post URL but instead of the topic name ending with “.asp”, it now ends with a “/” slash:

http://palabok.com/2005/12/topic-title-here/

My problem afterwards was that I had to delete all the redirections on cPanel and add new redirections to the new permalink one at a time. That was, unless I manipulate the .htaccess file directly instead. I thought it was about time I learn more about .htaccess.

With the help of Google search, I was able to find what I needed to make a simpler and shorter .htaccess script that will just do what I want:

<ifmodule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{1,2})/([^/]+).asp(/[0-9]+)?/?$ http://palabok.com/$1/$2/$3/$4 [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^salansan/([0-9]{1,3})$ http://palabok.com/index.php?p=$1 [R=301,L]
</ifmodule>

With the above script at the top of my .htaccess file, the server now performs a redirection whenever there is a call for one of my old Blogger-powered posts (those ending with .asp). Since I was at it, I also included a line that will redirect any call to the old permalink format I used when I had set up Palabok (the /salansan/123 formatted one).

So, why did I post this for? Well, just in case somebody else is in the same predicament I was in, that person could just do the same thing I did. Provided that person finds this post, of course.

Published in: on August 18, 2005 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drawing Again

I’m back into drawing again. It’s been a while since I last updated my webcomic Lovarian Adventures and now I’m seriously thinking of taking it up again. But before I do so, I will want to make some character design changes including their equipment.

With that, I’ve posted a page from my drawing book where I have different designs for Helix’s dagger/knife.

Anyway, I’ll try to draw daily to avoid losing my drawing skill. I’ll post any new drawings on this blog.

Published in: on August 17, 2005 at 9:44 pm  Comments (4)  

Australia Needs 20k Workers

On today’s issue of The Australian is an article by Elizabeth Colman and Samantha Maiden titled Global hunt for 20,000 workers. To sum it up for you, it just said that Australia is launching a global recruitment drive to attract 20,000 skilled migrant workers from the world over.

According to the article, Australia is in desperate need of tradespeople (plumbers, carpenters and the like), engineers and doctors. So, if you’re into one of these fields and you intend to migrate to Australia, this may be your chance.

To quote the paper:

“The Immigration Department plans to advertise in overseas newspapers from September, inviting prospective skilled migrants to meet employers and state and federal government representatives at the series of expos as part of a $3million skills roadshow where officials will present options for migration under recently relaxed regulations.”

But the most important news for fellow Filipinos back home is that the Immigration Department is “considering hosting a further round of expos in 2006” in Manila. So, watch out for this next year. Just read the article linked for more details.

Published in: on August 16, 2005 at 5:26 pm  Comments (4)  

Baon

Starting today, Raquel and I will be bringing baon (means “provision” in Tagalog and usually just means “packed lunch”) to work. Raquel figured that we could save some money by bringing our own lunch rather than spending over $20 every weekday for food.

I realized that it was easier to bring packed lunches while we were still in the Philippines where most offices have their own pantry that was also a dining room. If there wasn’t one, the office was usually in a building that has its own cafeteria where you can eat the lunch you brought.

When we moved to Canberra, we could eat our baon at the staff cafeteria there. But, since we lived near where we worked, we usually just ate at home anyway and got to watch VHS, DVD or the Jerry Springer show (yeah, yeah, it was either that or a TV soap opera).

We started buying lunch again when we moved to Melbourne. There were a lot of places where you can eat in the city and the meals weren’t too expensive. Still, the expenses add up over a month’s time. We know. Well, Raquel knew (she does the budget).

There was a slight problem with bringing our own lunch though. Our current office does not have a dining table in either of its two pantries. We could probably eat at our desks but I would prefer not to for the following reasons:

  • I want to be able to talk to Raquel when we eat lunch. If we eat by our desk, courtesy dictates that we should speak in English for the benefit of our co-workers who would be seated at their own desks around us.
  • I don’t want to subject my co-workers to the smell of the dish we brought. Sure, I think that Raquel’s cooked lunch smells delicious but would non-Pinoys think the same? Would they find the smell too garlicky, for example? I don’t know. I mean, I’m not a big fan of the overpowering smell of Indian food in small enclosed space, for example. What if a co-worker feels the same way about Pinoy food?

The solution we came up with was to just microwave the ulam (viand/dish) and the rice in the office pantry and afterwards hurry along to the nearby mall’s food court to eat our lunch there. That’s what we did today. Good thing the mall was just a two blocks away from the office so the food was still warm when we got there. The other advantage of eating at the mall was that if for some reason we ran out of ulam before our rice ran out, we could easily just buy an additional small dish at the food court.

I’m glad we’re doing this. Not only are we able to save some money, but I get to eat more of Raquel’s delicious cooking. 😀 Yummm.

Published in: on August 15, 2005 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drawing Notebook

I haven’t picked up my pencil to draw anything for a while now. It didn’t help that I really hated drawing on my current batch of drawing books with its extra coarse pages. The paper felt like it was resisting my mechanical pencil’s lead whenever I draw on it.

Sure, my old batch of drawing books were of the same brand and had coarse pages, too, but they were somewhat more conducive to drawing. It’s very difficult to explain but suffice it to say that my newer drawing books weren’t a pleasure to draw on.

While drawing my Lovarian Adventures webcomic over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that I like drawing on smooth paper (like photocopy A4 paper or coupon bond paper) rather than drawing paper. I thought that maybe if I draw on photocopy paper instead, I can rekindle my passion for drawing.

I then cut 20 pages of A4 paper in half (making them A5-sized paper) and stapled them together to form a makeshift drawing pad. I just wish I knew how to bind because having loose sheets of paper stapled together meant I need to have a hard surface before I could draw. With an actual drawing book, it’s thickness plus the cardboard backing made it so that I could draw standing up which is helpful when you are drawing outdoors.

Alternative I could purchase a notebook without lines on the pages. Notebook pages tend to have the same smoothness I’m looking for so I thought it’d be perfect, if it weren’t for the lines. I looked around Melbourne and actually found what I was looking for early this week in Dymocks.

Apart from selling books, the shop also sold these artsy-looking hard-bound notebook diaries. I was very pleased to find that there were notebooks without lines on them. I was stoked! It was exactly what I wanted. I picked up one notebook and flipped it to see how much it would cost. To my surprise, it was selling for $40! No way I’m going to shell out that kind of money for a notebook. It wasn’t meant to be, I thought then.

Fortunately, nearby was Dymock’s competing bookshop, Angus & Robertson, and they also sold some notebooks there. Among the variety of notebooks they offered, mostly with lined pages, was an A6 sized leather-bound notebook without lines. It was the last one they had on display and in stock. I grabbed it immediately before somebody else buys it. To top it off, the notebook only set me back $7!

It’s small that I could easily put it in my coat pocket and bring it everywhere with me. It’s easy to refill, too. Just cut up some A5-sized photocopy paper and punch a hole in the absolute middle of it. The notebook has a leather string that goes through the hole to tie the paper to the rest of the notebook.

Now the only thing left to do is draw.

Published in: on August 12, 2005 at 11:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tips for Pinoy Migrants to Australia Part 2

In the first part of this series, I posted a list of suggestions for would-be Pinoy migrants to Australia while they were still cooling their heels in the Philippines. This time, I have listed down hints that will hopefully help new migrants like you, perhaps, survive their first odd couple of months here.

To make writing this post easier on me, I will assume that you’re a potential migrant and from here on in, I’ll be referring to the migrant as you. Now, let me list what I think are the essentials. Meaning, you’ll probably need to do these things no matter what your situation is when you get here:

  • Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN).
    You do this by submitting an application to your nearest Australia Taxation Office (ATO). You will be required to present your passport which has your working visa or permanent visa so bring that with you when you apply. They should mail you your TFN within 28 days after your application.

    Alternatively, according to the ATO site, you could apply for a TFN online here. If you apply online, ATO will verify your identity through the Department of Immigration and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA’s) systems. For further details regarding TFN applications, read the ATO document “Getting a tax file number.”

  • Open a bank account and get a debit card.
    You will want to have the money you brought with you to Australia stored in a safe place. And there’s no safer place for it than in a bank. Open a bank account as soon as you get here. Why?

    Well, anybody opening a bank account in Australia is required by law to first passThe 100 Point System.” In this system, each form of identification is assigned a number of points. You’ll need a total of 100 points or more to be able to pass. Since you’re new to the country, you’ll likely to only get 70 points max for either your passport or birth certificate (they will only accept one or the other but not both). However, if you open a bank account within the first three months of your arrival, the rule is relaxed and you’ll only need your passport to open an account. So, don’t wait too long.

    I also suggest you open an account with a bank that offers an ATM card that is also a debit card (like St George Bank for example). A debit card is just like any other ATM card except you can use it like a credit card. When you make a purchase using it, the money will be drawn straight from your savings account. Here in Australia, most banks impose fees for frequent ATM withdrawals. But with a debit card, you won’t have to withdraw often because you can pay with you “credit card” and it won’t count as a withdrawal.

  • Get a computer and a prepaid Internet access.
    Owning a computer with an Internet access is almost a necessity when you get here. You can use it to search for potential jobs or apartments. You can use it to spiffy up your resume. You can use it for researching about almost anything. You can use it to keep in touch with friends and family via email or through an instant messenger application like Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger.

    What’s more, most of Australia’s institutions have web sites you can browse through if you should need information about them. For example, you need to know about taxes? Go to http://www.ato.gov.au/. You need to know about immigration? Go to http://www.immi.gov.au/. Want to know more about St George Bank’s accounts? Go to http://stgeorge.com.au/. Want to know more about Melbourne? Go to http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/. You get the picture, I’m sure.

  • Buy a prepaid mobile SIM card.
    Assuming you’ve read and took my advice in Part 1 to bring your GSM mobile (cell phone) here, all you need now is to get a GSM SIM card for it. If you didn’t bring a mobile, that’s okay, too. They have promos here for free mobiles even for prepaid plans.

    Anyway, you’ll definitely need a mobile so that you can easily be reached by prospective employers. So, even though you’re outside looking for work, you can still catch calls from any employers interested in hiring you. Another very important reason for having a mobile is so that in emergencies, you’re just a phone call away from help.

  • Get a map of your desitnation city.
    Upon arriving to Australia, remember to pick up those free tourist booklets in the airport. Those booklets would contain a map of the city you’re in. Although this is a good start, these booklets don’t have detailed maps of the areas outside the city’s central business district (CBD). For a more comprehensive map, you need to buy one.

    And even though you can look up a place you want to go to online (like on Whereis.com), you couldn’t bring it with you when you are outside looking for that office where you’ll be having an interview in 10 minutes. At least with a map book, you can bring it anywhere and refer to it any time.

That’s all I have for the essential tips at this time. As for not-so-essential tips, I have those, too:

  • Don’t be too picky with jobs.
    Finding that first job here can be difficult since employers will prefer somebody who had previous Australian work experience. Chances are, the companies that will want to hire you anyway won’t be your first, second or even your third choice. But that’s okay. Take it anyway. You can always continue looking for your dream job while you’re employed in your first job.

    Your priority should be to start earning money. You wouldn’t want run out of savings. I know this sounds like common sense but I have known of people who are too picky with jobs and ended up going back to the Philippines because they ran out of cash.

  • Get a Learner’s Drivers Licence.
    Whether or not you are really interested in getting a full drivers licence eventually, a Learner’s Drivers Licence will be handy whenever somebody requires an identification card (like for membership at a DVD rental shop). Note that an Australian drivers licence (even if it’s only a learner’s licence) is more easily acceptable as a form of identification than your Philippine passport. Also, in the 100-point system mentioned earlier, a drivers licence is worth 40 points which, along with your passport worth 70 points, will give you a total of 110 points.

    To get a learner’s licence, you just need to take a multiple-choice type computerized driver knowledge test. The test will ask you questions based on their Road Users Handbook like that provided for by the Roads and Traffic Authority ( RTA) for the state of New South Wales (NSW – where Sydney is). RTA even has an online mock test on their site for you to test yourself until you’re ready to take the actual test.

    Note that other states will have a different traffic and roads enforcement agency so be sure to look up those institutions on the Internet and study their own version of the road rules. It is also likely that they’ll have their own online mock test on their site.

  • Get used to the slang and accent.
    One of the biggest hurdles I had during my first few months here was that I found it difficult to understand some Australians. Specially those who speak real fast in their typical accent while at the same time using slang and idiomatic expressions I never even heard of.

    First, you must read up on Australian slang so that you’ll know what they mean when Australians use them. Next, you have to get used to the way they speak. One way to train yourself for this is to watch a lot of Australian TV programs.

  • Get a library card.
    There are a lot of public libraries in Australia where you could loan books, magazines and even audio CDs and DVDs for free. Just as long as you register for a library card first, of course. Another advantage of having a library card is that it gives you access to free Internet usage on the library’s computers.

That’s all the hints I can come up with for now. If I think of anything else, I’ll surely post a blog about it here. For more info about living in Australia, I also recommend buying a book about it. The one we’ve bought is “Living and Working in Australia: A Survival Handbook” by David Hampshire and its been a very handy reference for when we want to know something about Australian living.

I truly hope that my list of tips will help you survive your first few months here in Australia. Good luck.

Published in: on August 12, 2005 at 12:19 am  Comments (11)  

Chosen

If there’s one place where you could find most Filipino bloggers congregating, it would be at Pinoyblog.com where bloggers could register and post a short teaser to attract some traffic to their sites. We’ve discovered numerous Pinoy bloggers from back home as well as diverse far-off places through the site. We’ve laughed, cried and despaired at some of the entries in those blogs but our lives have been richer because of them, their voices resonating in our minds and celebrate what it truly means to be Pinoy, regardless of physical location.

This morning, Gj told me that Palabok had been chosen as the blog of the week and we’re so stoked! Thanks for choosing us, Pinoyblog! Don’t mind the stupid grins on our faces all day; can’t you tell we’re over the moon?

Published in: on August 11, 2005 at 10:59 am  Comments (2)  

What Happened to Lovaria?

I have just received an email from Theresa regarding my webcomic, Lovarian Adventures. She wrote:

Hi! I was a fan of your comic Lovarian Adventures several years ago. I had lost the link however, and only recently found it again, but the website (lovaria.com) doesn’t seen to be working! Have you removed your comic, or is there another place where I can read it?

As we have noted, we have recently moved hosts. As of this time, I was only able to move the Palabok.com areas on to the new server but not the Lovarian Adventures areas. The reason for the delay in moving the Lovarian site was because I have yet to change the ASP scripting I did on the Lovarian pages over to PHP scripting.

I’m looking at having it all done before Monday next week. But I’m not promising anything here. I’m just letting you know that I haven’t completely abandoned the Lovarian Adventures site.

Update:
I have just finished setting up a barebones version of the Lovarian site. Although most of its pages still aren’t fully functional, you could at least read the comics now.

Published in: on August 10, 2005 at 8:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Run, Raquel, Run

I’m not certain now how old I was then but I am pretty sure it happened while I was still in grade school. It was during recess and as usual, I was running. I was playing tag with a group of classmates and was rounding a corner when the world suddenly came into slow-motion. I collided with a younger, shorter kid walking round the corner and I’ve hit my lower lip against her forehead, hard. The impact made my lip burst open and splattered blood into my white shirt as the kid started to cry. I think we were both taken to the clinic and I was even made to lie down on the bed, I don’t really remember much after the collision anymore. I later found out that my front teeth left a small imprint on the kid’s forehead but she was okay otherwise.

I remember thinking on my way home that day that I would surely get a dressing down from my mom who has always scold me when I ran around the neighbourhood. I thought about the crying kid and although I didn’t consciously remember deciding anything then, I stopped running soon after that incident.

Which really is a shame, because I used to love running. I like the feel of the wind on my face and everything becoming a blur, it’s like the world just falls away and there’s just you and your rhythmic breathing. I think I used to be a fast runner too since the boys would always pick me to be on their team to play ball or tag, and I rarely got tagged.

Fast forward to recent months when I have been forced to run after trains/trams before they pull away from the stations. It was a strange feeling to realise that I could no longer run fast, Gabriel would normally run ahead of me and hold the door while I huff and puff to the door several seconds after him. Since learning that I am flat-footed, I’ve also been worried of injuries since I don’t want to be in pain for several days in exchange for a few minutes of running.

Last week as hubby and I was walking toward a pedestrian lane, I told him that the lights indicate that pedestrians could cross. He took this as a sign that we should hurry to be able to cross the street while the light is still green and ran toward the crossing without a word. I sprinted after him but as I approached the corner of the building, I saw a man walking across my path. Suddenly, everything went into this crazy slow-motion mode again. My left foot was in the air but since I need to stop immediately, I quickly stamped it down the pavement. I felt my left knee go weak and quickly tried to balance my body with my right foot. Unfortunately, the man tried avoid me too and is now swaying in my direction. In addition, I twisted my ankle as my right foot as I was trying to find my foothold in the uneven floor.

I went down in a heap and since I wasn’t able to reduce my speed much when I fell down, I slid several centimetres across the pavement. I swore I might have left skid marks. As I was going down, I remember thinking I wouldn’t be able to make it across the crossing after all and that someone should tell Gabriel, who by the way is still blissfully running toward the other side of the street. I saw him turn his head and I noticed that my face is so close to the pavement I could see the specks of dust on it. The man who almost collided with me was asking me if I was okay and was trying to help me off the floor. My ankle was throbbing painfully and my left palm was also complaining. I sit up and told him I was fine but he was offering his hand, as if insisting that I get off the floor quickly. Gabriel came back on my side of the street and helped me up while I apologised to the man. The man had this look of disapproval, as if saying that it serves me right for trying to run around the corner and nearly colliding with him.

After he walked off, Gabriel asked if I was really okay. Nothing hurt except perhaps my pride? Well, oddly, it wasn’t my pride that has been hurt but my foot. I was actually amused by the whole incident and would have been laughing if not for the pain in my ankle and palm. Aside from that, I was worried that I may have torn something that would need more than time and some balm to heal.

I got a bruise at my base of my hand which I might have used to break my fall and my ankle was a bit swollen by the time I got home. Thankfully, the fall didn’t seem to have done any serious damage to my ankle and the bruise is healing. Would I run again? Most probably, but perhaps next time I’ll go slower to make sure that I won’t have to kiss the pavement when somebody suddenly blocks my path.

Published in: on August 9, 2005 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment