Thanks, Dad

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday. Like in previous years, I’ve missed his birthday bash again this year, just like I missed Mom’s birthday bash last month. Living in another country does have its downside.

In the past, I just sent them money and I let them buy themselves their own gifts. This year, Raquel and I thought that maybe it would be nice to send them actual gifts for a change. Yes, something that is handpicked by us and bought in Australia.

Anyway, since I couldn’t physically be home for the party, I just called in and greeted him over his mobile. After talking to Dad, I went into a sort of melancholic mood. I remembered how big an influence he was in my life.

I don’t smoke nor drink alcohol because my Dad didn’t. Even when he was with his friends, a lot of them would be smoking and drinking while he would just drink one can of beer (two cans at most). I’m into drawing and comics and animation because he bought comics, watched cartoons with us and, if I recall correctly, he used to draw, too.

I learned different sports such as badminton, bowling, tennis and darts because he was into them. I took up Electronics and Communications Engineering in college because he had exposed me to a lot of electronics when I was growing up. I’m into computers and was programming at a young age because he gave me computers back in the 80’s. I’m into a lot of different types of music because so was he.

Simply put, I’m into a lot of things because he was into a lot of things and I’m not into some things because he wasn’t into those same things.

Apart from things I do and don’t do, Dad also influenced the way I mapped out my life. When I was still in Elementary school, I realised that we lived a comfortable life. We get to visit different countries during Summer break and I usually get what I asked from Dad. I even get what I didn’t ask from Dad and it was usually something really interesting (read as geeky). I understood that our comfortable life was all because Dad was working abroad. So, at a young age, I’ve planned out that I was going to be just like Dad. When I grow up, I, too, will work abroad like he did so that my family will live a comfortable life like I did when I was young.

I remembered that one time he came home from Brunei for a vacation and he took me on a commute to Binondo (part of China Town in Manila). I can’t recall the reason for the trip but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that on the trip he related to me about how difficult his life was when he was younger. Being an orphan, he didn’t easily get what he wanted while he was growing up unlike my brother and me. He had to work hard for everything he had ever gained.

He also told me that before he got accepted for a job in Saudi Arabia, he went to the church along Santa Cruz in Manila to ask God to help him get this job. And wouldn’t you know it? He did. That was the start of our comfortable life right there. Hard work and a little faith. That’s what’s needed, I said to myself.

Still on that trip, he told me that we had money saved up in the bank for our future. That meant that even if we didn’t work hard to be successful in life, we would still have money. He then posed a challenge for me which I took to heart. He asked me if I could make more money than he did at the age of 40? I told him, I would. And that challenge became a driving force for me to succeed. It was a goal I focused on.

On the way home, he also gave me an advice that I never forgot and helped me get to where I am now: grab an opportunity when it comes, for it may never come again. And that’s just what I did.

I don’t claim to be as financially successful as my Dad was at the time. All I’m saying is that I probably wouldn’t be the least bit successful if it wasn’t for my Dad.

Thanks, Dad. Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me in words and in deed.

Published in: on February 16, 2006 at 1:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Retrieving Podcasts

In the rush to leave the house and get to the train station to catch the 8.26am train, I forgot my Sony Network Walkman NW-E507 on the kitchen counter. By the time I realised that I had left it behind, there was no more time to run back to the house and get it.

So, today, I didn’t get my morning dose of podcasts on the forty minute train ride to the city. I had to make do with reading the book I always carried around just in case I get the free time to read it (like this morning). I also had to endure the shrill noise coming from somebody’s earphones who had his iPod’s volume turned way up. I’ll bet good money he’ll be needing a hearing aid in a few years.

Apart from the train ride to and from work, I also listen to podcasts when I’m taking a breather from my work and even while I’m actually working. Well, except for the times when I really need to concentrate on a programming problem, then I put the MP3 on hold. But for the most part, I can easily do my programming chores while listening to podcast banter.

Now, if you are wondering what is this “podcast” thing I’m talking about, let me elaborate. Podcast, which was declared Word of the Year for 2005 by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary, is essentially an audio voice recording saved in MP3 format for download on the Internet.

Podcasts could take the form of a spoken blog. Sometimes, if the podcaster is a bit more ambitious or creative, it takes the form of a radio show. In fact, some actual radio shows are also available as podcasts.

I was talking to my brother via Skype the other day and I asked him if he’s into podcasts. He said no. Even though he has an MP3 player, he wasn’t into it because he simply didn’t get what it is. So for his benefit and even for the benefit of others who, like him, do not know how to retrieve these so-called podcasts, I’ll try to explain how to get them.

At its simplest, you can simply go to the blog site (it’s usually a blog site) of the podcast you wanted to listen to and save the linked MP3 file of the latest blog entry. This MP3 file is the actual podcast. Once you’ve downloaded the MP3 file on to your computer, you can then upload that file on to your MP3 player. It’s that easy.

Remember, audio podcasts are usually in MP3 format so you do not need an iPod to listen to podcast. As long as your MP3 player can play MP3 files (it should!), then you can listen to podcasts.

Of course, it’s a big hassle to go to all of the podcast sites just to see if there are any new podcast episodes and download them. That’s where the podcast client software comes in.

You download a podcast client like Nimiq and install it. Once that’s done, go on over to a podcast directory site like Podcast Alley and choose from the podcasts you may want to listen to listed there. As of this writing, the number 1 in the Top 10 for February in Podcast Alley is MuggleCast, a podcast about Harry Potter.

To subscribe to MuggleCast, click on the MuggleCast link (which expands to reveal a summary of the podcast as well as three links at the bottom). Then, click on the Subscribe link. It takes you to a page where the URL for the podcast is listed. Copy that URL which, in this case, is “” (without the quotes).

Assuming you went with my recommendation and you installed the Nimiq podcast client, open Nimiq. Click the New Subscription button on the tool bar, paste the URL in the dialog box that will popup, then save it. Click the Start button on the toolbar to initiate the download of subscribed podcasts.

So, Nimiq will now download the latest MuggleCast podcast into your assigned podcast folder. And the next time you hit the Start button, it’ll download a new episode of the show if a new podcast was posted by the creators of MuggleCast. After downloading, you can copy the MP3 file onto your MP3 player and listen to it later.

If you are an iPod user, then downloading podcasts are a lot simpler because it’s been integrated with Apple’s iTunes software.

Now, if only my brother would read this.

Published in: on February 16, 2006 at 12:02 pm  Comments (2)