Wednesday, March 28, 2012

HOW TO: Log In As Administrator In Windows 7

I learned something new today!

In the course of doing something that may or may not be illegal, I was told that I had to log in as the administrator. Which was weird, since I'm, like, the supreme ruler of this computer.

Once again, Google saved the day. I found a really helpful article in How-To Geek that solved the problem perfectly.

Basically, you just have to:
  1. Go to Command Prompt (Windows icon > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt), right-click it, and choose Run as administrator
  2. Type net user administrator /active:yes in the command prompt
  3. Log off
  4. And, voila, the Administrator account is there to use for logging in

If you've done whatever legal or illegal thing you had to do using the Administrator account, and you no longer want Administrator showing up in the log in screen, just go back to Command Prompt and type net user administrator /active:no.

So easy. Live and learn folks! Cheers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

the 7 most gullible

First off, I just want to say: I love Cebu to death. Born here, raised here, lived here all my life. I love the proximity of the beaches, the taste of the food, the relatively low cost of living, the laid back environment, the nearness of family and friends. For me, it's the best city in the world.

And we're currently ranked #2 in the South East Asia and Oceania sector of the New 7 Wonders Cities competition

Isn't that awesome?!

Except that it's not. Because there's nothing awesome about placing in--or even winning--a competition that has less to do with being a "wonder" city and more to do with the willingness of well-meaning, gullible people to spend time and money voting for the places they love.

The New 7 Wonders Cities is not the first competition of its kind to be organized by the New 7 Wonders organization (N7W). Last year, there was the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It made a big splash in Philippine media, especially when the Puerto Princesa Underground River was said to have won a spot in the final 7. (For some reason, the New 7 Wonders of Nature site does not have a list of the final 7 yet, just the 28 finalists. Their FAQs say a "provisional" list of 7 was announced on 11/11/11. No reason is given as to why the results are still not final after more than 4 months.)

Before that, there was The Official New 7 Wonders of the World, which were announced in Lisbon on 07/07/07. The title makes it sound, well, official, and the organizers touted the attendance of a UN representative as some sort of official endorsement from the United Nations.

But here's where it gets interesting. The United Nations Office for Partnerships, in a July 8, 2007 release, did recognize the efforts of N7W to promote the UN's Millennium Development Goals. However, one day after, the UN body governing World Heritage sites, UNESCO, released a statement stressing that there was absolutely no connection between the world heritage sites and the N7W campaign. It emphasized:

"There is no comparison between Mr Weber's mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The list of the '7 New Wonders of the World' will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world.  This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of  sites elected by this public."

Wait, you might say. What's the big deal? So the N7W campaigns are just popularity contests. They're the American Idol of tourist spots. What's wrong with that, right? No one gets hurt.

Except that there's money involved--lots of it.

First, there's the fee for each place's Official Supporting Committee. The N7W Cities Official Support site says: "As with the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, participating cities in New7Wonders Cities will need to have an Official Supporting Committee recognised by N7W in order to participate." The fee for each Official Supporting Committee for the New 7 Wonders of Nature was $199. With that last contest's success, I can only guess what the fee is for this new competition.

Then there's the voting. In the last contest, we were all encouraged--by our government, our media outlets, our Facebook friends--to vote online or via SMS. We pay for the text messages, of course. To vote online, there was no fee, but we had to agree to N7W's Terms and Conditions, which I'm sure we didn't read, and which included provisions like:
  • "NOWC’s primary goal in collecting personal information is to provide you with the best and most useful content and services." (The New Open World Corporation, or NOWC, is the private company operating N7W.)
  • "NOWC collects personally-identifiable information when you provide it to us.... Several of the services that we offer on our sites, such as voting, may require registration as a condition of use. Once you are no longer anonymous to us. NOWC may also receive information about you from other sources and add it to the information you have provided to us."
  • "NOWC does not warrant that the functions contained in the website content will be without delay or interruption or that the voting or other data transfer will be accurate or complete...."
  • "Where possible and relevant the charges for participating in the [Global Voting Platform] are as notified in the relevant section. NOWC will update this pricing information on a timely basis, but is not responsible for any incorrect information or incorrect charging."
  • "NOWC ultimately decides whether a nominee, Finalist or wonder is able to participate and or retain its status in the New7Wonders campaigns."

Well, you might say, what's $199, privacy compromises, and the lack of a guarantee that the results will be accurate, when compared to a significant boost in tourism to the winning "wonders"?

That's where the real controversies start.

According to Indonesia's vice-minister for tourism, N7W threatened to remove the Komodo National Park from the list if Indonesia refused to host a declaration ceremony for $35 million. (Check out the Al Jazeera report, or Google it.) The possibility of disqualifying winners is specifically provided for in N7W's Terms and Conditions, and in fact, their FAQs tell us that there will be no worldwide official declaration event. Instead, "[e]ach confirmed New7Wonder of Nature winner will host their own Official Inauguration event."

Tourism authorities in the Maldives withdrew support for the N7W campaign last year, claiming that the organizers demanded nearly $350,000 in sponsorship "fees" and additional hundreds of thousands to organize a world tour event.

Tour operators to winning "wonders" were asked to pay NOWC for the use of the N7W trademark if the "New 7 Wonders" label was used to promote the tourist spot.

And on and on. If this doesn't smell like a scam to you, you've gotta get your nose checked.

I don't know what the Philippines or Palawan paid to get the Puerto Princesa Underground River into the final list (that hasn't been officially declared), but the exact amount doesn't matter to me. What matters is that there are people out there who are taking advantage of our national pride to line their own pockets. A tourism official in Maldives said it best:

"Essentially we’re paying a license fee for the right to throw a party, at our own cost, for an unproven return."

Again, I love Cebu, and I love the Philippines, and I would love it if everyone in the world came to realize how much beauty and culture there is here. I just don't like being made a fool of.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

last songs and blogs

What happens to your blog when you die?

Will it live on indefinitely? Will it eventually expire, as you did? And when?

I haven't really bothered to find out. Just wondering, I guess.

A doctor I never met died just recently. I came to know her through our participation in The Blog Rounds. Hers was one of the blogs that really spoke to me. I liked that she wrote about whatever she wanted -- it made me think she wrote because she wanted to, which is my favorite reason for writing. Her posts were personal and unselfconscious. Her pain was especially palpable whenever she wrote in grief of the loss of her longtime partner.

I didn't know she was sick herself. I didn't really know anything about her. I just know that I felt sad when I learned she had finally succumbed to cancer. But it's a sweet kind of sadness, knowing that she will finally be reunited with the person she loved most. I guess some people just aren't meant to be apart for long.

Death is but the next great adventure, so...bon voyage, Gigi.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

keeping dinners down with The Voice

Watching The Voice is one of the things that help me keep my breakfast down. I tend to puke less when I'm distracted, and The Voice is a great distraction. I could look at Blake Shelton all day, and Adam Levine just radiates cuteness and creative sensibility. The coaches make me laugh, and even Carson Daly's droopy eyes have grown on me. And then, of course, there's the music.

(If you don't do anything else all day, do this at least: watch THIS cut from the latest Voice episode. Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evans, one of the first two pairs from Christina Aguilera's team to go into the Battle Rounds, totally kill Alicia Keys' song If I Ain't Got You.)

Aivan and I actually watched the first season of The Voice several months late, and I think we were able to watch all Season 1 episodes in one weekend. The fresh format, the talent level of the contestants and the banter between the coaches keep the show interesting. Even Christina Aguilera's often off-putting outfits are somehow refreshing and more genuine when contrasted with the perfectly packaged Jennifer Lopez of American Idol, whose wide smile always makes me feel there's something not real about her. CeeLo Green is by turns erudite and sleazy, which makes me laugh, as does the bromance between Adam and Blake. So thanks, The Voice, for making my Wednesdays bearable. (Yes, the show's on Monday nights in the US, but the first chance I get to download watch it is Wednesdays.)

options for doctors

At the risk of being the bad guy who entices doctors away from their professions -- and I'm not even enticing, I'm just saying there are options -- I'm sharing a few excerpts from a Medscape article entitled "Tired of Being a Doctor? Choices for Opting Out of Medicine."
"In 2010, 24% of the 2400 physicians responding to a Physician's Foundation survey said they plan to drop out of clinical practice in the next 1 to 3 years by switching jobs. Of those, half said they plan to find a nonclinical job within healthcare, while the other half plan to leave healthcare entirely."

"'Physicians are generally well suited to do almost anything they want,' says Heather Fork, MD, an Austin, Texas-based career coach. 'If they've made it far enough to become a physician it means they're intelligent, dedicated, hardworking and able to work under stress and pressure. Those are qualities that can be applied to any career. The door is wide open, but I think a lot of physicians underestimate what they're capable of.'"

"Medicine is a specialized and in many ways isolating profession, he says. As a result, 'doctors don't know enough people who work in nonmedical settings. They are very uninformed, and so they're skeptical about making big shifts.'"

"Self-assessment is essential for anyone looking to make a transition, Dr. Fork says. People need to have a firm grasp of bread-and-butter issues: How long can I afford not to work? Do my spouse and family support my decision? How much do I need to earn? But they also need to have a firm grasp of their skills and interests. 'They need to see what sort of an environment they want to work in and how they'll make a difference in the world going forward,' she says."
There are many ways to save the world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

the fan

I used to be crazy about basketball. I don't play myself -- I remember trying to shoot the ball in high school and finding it so heavy, I could only muster enough force for the ball to reach halfway through the distance between my arm and the basket (yyyeah, I was that pathetic). But I loved watching basketball games.

In high school, I was a Purefoods fan. I knew all the players' names and jersey numbers. I knew their birthdays; in fact, I still do -- Alvin Patrimonio's is November 17, Jerry Codinera's is November 11, Dindo Pumaren's is November 23, Olsen Racela's is November 1, and Bong Ravena's is May 22. When our cat gave birth, I named the kittens after Purefoods players. Dindo, the only survivor, turned out to be a girl.

At the Cebu Coliseum, not leaving Alvin
Patrimonio alone until I got his autograph

I still remember that season when Chot Reyes had just left, and it was Eric Altamirano's first stint as head coach in the PBA. Purefoods started the All-Filipino Conference with a 0-4 record, and I ended up including them in my prayers all the time. They went on to win the championship, and I was as happy in front of the TV as if I was in the court myself with confetti raining down on me.

Before that season began, the Purefoods team came to Cebu for an exhibition game against Ginebra, and they were scheduled to make a stop in Ayala Center. Two of my classmates and I skipped class just to be there, and we forced our way into the team bus, where Bong Ravena gamely volunteered to take photos of us with the rest of the team.

Inside the Purefoods team bus, photo taken by Bong Ravena

Those were crazy times. Today, when Aivan and I watch the occasional basketball game on TV, he still gets surprised that I know about 3-second violations and pick-and-rolls. I no longer know most of the players, much less their birthdays, nor do I name the neighborhood cats after them, but some of the basketball stuff remains.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

looking back on kindness

When Aivan and I arrived at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore last October 2010, it was mid-afternoon and we were tired, hot and sweaty after spending the whole day in Sentosa. We walked up the driveway -- Aivan in a shirt, cargo pants and sandals, me in a sleeveless blouse, jeans and flipflops -- and were unnerved to find ourselves in a lobby full of people in business suits. A receptionist approached us and kindly asked, "Can I help you with directions?"

We looked like this but worse.

Out of place, totally, but we were supposed to be there. It was the third day of our honeymoon, and a high school friend had gotten us a discount on an overnight stay at one of the Ritz-Carlton's deluxe rooms.

It turned out the receptionist was a Filipina, a HRM student in Singapore for her internship, and she happily led us to the front desk. "They're on their honeymoon," she whispered to the front desk officer, who was also Filipino. He accepted our hotel voucher, looked at his monitor, punched a few keys, looked up and smiled broadly at us.

Moments later we were in our room -- a one-bedroom Millenia suite.

Clockwise from top left: Views from the living room, 
the bedroom, the bathroom and the study

It was a major upgrade. We had a huge living room, a sizable study and a huge bedroom, all with amazing views of Marina Bay. Heck, the bathtub in the main bathroom had an amazing view of Marina Bay. The only rooms that didn't have a view were the guest bathroom and the walk-in closet. As Aivan and I plonked our backpacks in the cushy sofa, we felt unbelievably blessed and just so grateful for everyone's kindness.

The living room view, in the day and at night
Definitely not your usual bed and bath

The day wasn't over for us, though. When we got back from dinner, the scent of roses greeted us. A slice of cake was waiting for us on top of the side table in our bedroom, and a bubble bath had been prepared for us, complete with rose petals and a bottle of champagne.

Icing on the cake

There are times when you feel like the world couldn't get any worse, and then there are times when you just feel on top of it, just so incredibly lucky and incredibly blessed. You realize that kindness still exists and that there are still people who go out of their way to make your life better. It's those random acts of goodness, or the memory of them, that get you through the bad times, and I hope someday I will be in the position to pay it forward.

I was clearing up my desk -- an enormous task, believe me -- when I came across some Ritz-Carlton stationery from that once-in-a-lifetime stay. I can be really cranky and grouchy at times, and I have to remind myself that I've been a recipient of so much kindness, I should really try harder to be kinder. Thank you so much Lani Taboada and Sam Gil!