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Poverty Sucks
John Almirante

Very few people, if any, would disagree with the phrase “poverty sucks”. No matter which socio-economic class a person belongs to, no matter what socio-economic and political principles and associations a person adheres to, this phrase would be regarded as a universal truth, even though its interpretation would still vary according to the perspectives of the person or group.

People mired in poverty would regard the phrase “poverty sucks” as perfectly apt for their situation and condition. They are clearly aware of not only their own cruel existence but also the harsh lives of other people who endure the same dire conditions, especially the people that they are in daily contact with.

Income earners are the class of people I define who rely on the income they earn from their professions for their daily needs and the upkeep of their lifestyle. For these people, “poverty sucks” expresses their fear of losing their jobs, ending their career, sliding into poverty, and being unable to meet even the base minimum of their daily needs. Income earners are only a loss of a job away from experiencing poverty so this issue is always on the forefront of their list of concerns in regards to how it affects themselves rather than how it affects others with similar concerns.

For entrepreneurs, the term “poverty sucks” reinforces their drive for success and position in society. Although unlikely to experience poverty first hand, entrepreneurs regard poverty as a constant reminder of the hardships and pitfalls of society and what they must do and strive for, in order to succeed. Entrepreneurs only view poverty as a motivating factor for their own purposes and don’t really see it as an issue that affects their lifestyle or which demands their attention for very long.

For elitists, this phrase expresses their distaste for a lower-income lifestyle and their aversion for associating with anyone from the lower classes, while blissfully enjoying their own prosperity. For them, “poverty sucks” expresses their horror at the possibility of being in contact with poverty and the people afflicted with it, rather than the fear of being in poverty, since, for them, that possibility is extremely remote. In the minds of the elite, poverty is a condition that is someone else’s concern mostly because they’re so far removed from it, that they really can’t comprehend that kind of experience and aren’t willing to waste their precious time dealing with an issue that has no direct impact on their lifestyle.

There is a special group of people who believe that poverty is a disease and for whom the phrase “poverty sucks” is an excellent reason why poverty should be eradicated. These socially aware individuals recognize the concerns of those afflicted with poverty and are able to make a connection to the problems of the group as a whole, almost as if these problems were their very own.

For me, the meaning of the phrase “poverty sucks” is two-fold, a personal and social meaning. Being an income earner as well as being the bread winner of my family, I consider myself very concerned with continually meeting our needs and doing my best to provide a consistent means of financial support. Because of this, the threat of poverty is a personal issue. Also, because of my fear of poverty and of losing my job, I can understand and sympathize with those who have lost their jobs and are now barely making ends meet or even with those who still have a job and are still barely meeting their daily needs. I can only try to imagine what it must be like for those who are even less fortunate. I would not want my family to be in that situation; but the problem is, there are other families who are in that situation and are suffering. It is because of this, that I believe, that poverty sucks because it is an undesirable, inhuman condition that no human being, most especially the members of my family and myself, should endure.

Re:Why not the Philippines?
Post in Slashdot Article - Asian Nations Battle for Google Data Center

I haven't posted in years although I still read Slashdot everyday; but since the Philippines was being mentioned, I just had to post a comment on the replies to the parent post. I just hope my post gets modded up, so it can be read, since my posts have never been modded up.

I am a Filipino. I am an employee of one of the largest multinational OEM computer manufacturers in the world. We have many expats working in our offices and they are comfortable working in our business district and other central areas of commerce, as well as living in our posh areas of residence.

I would say that the Philippines is far from being the front runner, mainly for the relative lack of broadband capacity in comparison to countries like Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Our government, or even the private sector, haven't invested in our broadband infrastructure to make us competitive with other Asian countries.

The PERCEPTION of instability is another factor that works against my country. I say perception because the actual threats of military, communist, and Muslim terrorists and rebels, have never hindered the business activities of multinational or foreign companies doing business here, especially, if they are located in our business district or other central areas of commerce.

Most rebel and terrorist activity are far away from the capital, far enough such that, most Filipinos working in the capital consider it a world away. The problems in the south never enter our minds. We feel safe here, safe enough for many Filipinos to stay and raise their family, even though they would be qualified to work abroad.

The only reason why Filipinos would want to work abroad is their desire to earn more income. If ever I felt that my family would no longer be safe while we live in Metro Manila, I would have no problem packing our bags and migrating to another country. My brother works in the US as a doctor and he is planning on returning here. If it weren't safe here, I would advise him to stay there just as I advised him to stay there because of the dire financial status of doctors here in the Philippines.

Microsoft and HP maintain a presence here, and are steadily growing their workforce because of the availability of manpower and the excellent english and technical skills of my people. Many more American, Canadian, and multinational companies are setting up branches here in the country in order to outsource various portions of their business processes.

A bigger and more important threat to companies thinking of doing business here, has always been the financial instability of the country (mostly brought on by the PERCEIVED political and military threats) and the lack of buying power due to the low wages of most Filipinos. However, it is the low wages, combined with the english and professional skills of my people, that make my country attractive to outside investors.

What most foreigners don't realize is that we have posh areas and poor areas. You can live and stay in the posh areas without ever seeing the poor areas. It's like you can make believe you're in an industrialized nation. Just like people in industrialized nations are never aware of the poverty in other countries, you can also ignore poverty in our country if you choose to.

Trust me, it is possible to live in your own safe and perfect little world, here in the Philippines, without ever being affected by the problems in the impoverished and unstable regions of the country. Most of the wealthy people here do exactly that and most foreigners working here are considered wealthy by the living standards here.

By our living standards, most foreigners from industrialized nations can live like a king off of their savings here. They would be treated like a king or queen. They could have a big house with maids, nannies, a driver, all attending to their needs - which they couldn't get in their own country because they couldn't afford it. In our country they can because real estate and manpower are affordable. They can live in the safest places in the country - the posh residential areas of the rich and wealthy.

So I really don't understand why most foreigners think that the Philippines is not a safe place to do business in. I hope this post can be modded up so I'm able to enlighten visitors of this site.

Microsoft put the final nail in the coffin
Post in Slashdot Article - Be Throws in the Towel

I'm really sad to see them go. I just downloaded BeOS and QNX last month and installed them on my FAT32 partition. They were extremely easy to setup. It took only a few minutes to setup, compared to 30-60 minutes for a Windows 98 installation, and an hour or more for a Windows 2000 installation. They detected all of my hardware except for an old ISA SCSI card that BeOS didn't support. I fell in love. I love both of these OSes because they boot up in 30 seconds and have a very responsive feel. I can immediately start surfing and checking my e-mail. I have to wait 90 seconds for Windows 98 to bootup and wait 2 minutes for Windows 2000 to boot before I can start surfing. Because of this, I have become (belatedly), a BeOS supporter - just as I became a Linux supporter a handful of years ago.

I thought that with the ease of install, the fast boot times, and their being freely available, people would be encouraged to try these OSes out and love them just as I do. I realized how easy people could triple-boot their PCs with Windows, BeOS, and QNX and unlike Linux which generally requires you to install it to its own partition. But then I realized that both BeOS and QNX requires either the config.sys or autoexec.bat to be able to properly boot from the hard disk. Without these, you are forced to boot from a floppy - which takes away the boot speed advantage and is a hassle to use all the time.

I realized now the reason why Microsoft took away the config.sys, autoexec.bat, and DOS Prompt access from Windows ME. This would prevent alternative OSes from being installed and booted from a FAT or FAT32 partition. Aside from preventing the use of BeOS and QNX, this also prevents the use of UMSDOS implementations of Linux, preventing many new users from trying these OSes out because they don't want to repartition their hard disks.

There are many ways to go around this but they all require more work than most people are willing to do. Even if Be would have survived until next year, most people by then would be running either Windows ME, Windows 2000, or Windows XP which doesn't give all the alternative OSes much chance to be used by new, inexperienced users. This definitely would have been the final nail in the coffin, hammered down by Microsoft.

As for me, I'll continue to use BeOS, QNX, as well as Linux and I'll continue to support them. I currently boot these 3 OSes as well as Windows 3.1, 98, and 2000. Maybe I might give Solaris a chance once I get an 80 gig hard disk.

Computer Store Sites in the US
John Almirante

My family has been doing this for a couple of years now. We buy all sorts of stuff from the Internet using our local Visa/Mastercards and then send it to my brother in Maine. We've bought books, DVDs, toys, PC components, electronic gadgets, etc. I've even bought toys from Japan which I had shipped to Maine to avoid customs taxes here. He then ships it by a Filipino freight company in a well padded and sealed balikbayan box.

The important thing is for your credit card company not to question your purchases if you have a different shipping address from your billing address. They will not question a purchase if the amount charged is small. They will not question a purchase if the address you shipped to has been used in a previous purchase, i.e. they already have that address in their records.

If you're shipping to a different address for the first time, make sure the amount you purchase is small so you won't have problems clearing it with your credit card company. It would then be safe to purchase larger amounts after you've gotten your billing statement since the address you shipped to is already in the records of your credit card company.

You have to check if the online store you're buying from has separate forms for your billing address and shipping address. For these stores, it is ok to have a different shipping address from your billing address. A good store to start with, is They don't have any problems with purchases from foreign customers and will gladly ship to a different address, no questions asked.

Bridging Time and Space
John Almirante

It was Milla's first day on the job at the veterans nursing home and she was secretly listening to the old man in room 143 while she was cleaning up after him. She had been warned by the rest of the staff that the old coot was one weird fellow. They had told her that he babbled incessantly and most of what he said seemed to make no sense. They said that he was brought there by a well-meaning samaritan who found him walking aimlessly along the Einstein-Hawking Bridge wearing a tattered military uniform, dog tags, and various pieces of identification which placed him as a soldier in their armed forces. What the old man was doing there on the bridge, wearing a uniform after he had long left the armed services, no one knew.

The nursing home's staff asked him over and over again regarding his personal history and his replies were consistent but unbelievable. He said that he was from another city in their state and that right before he appeared on the bridge he was a young man on a training mission. When asked what he believed the current year was, he consistently gave a figure that was several decades in the future. The problem was, when asked about past events which supposedly took place in the current time frame, they were all totally wrong. None of what he said jibed with present history. Because of this, his claims and requests were totally ignored and most of the staff regarded him as a crazy old man who was lost in his own imaginary world.

Since no one really wanted to listen to his claims and his requests, loneliness and depression began to eat away at the old man and he began talking to himself. Milla was told to ignore the constant chatter from the old man; but something about his voice and his tears moved her and so she listened. She caught bits and pieces at first but as the hours passed, she was able to gather his story and his request, even though it sounded so absurd. There was a sincerity, a pleading in his voice and in his eyes that almost convinced her that what he was saying was the truth. At the very least she thought, the old geezer truly believed whole heartedly in the reality of his fantasies.

Dining out after work, Milla discussed the matter of the old man's crazy story with her boyfriend, Jack. His response was that the old guy had a fantastic imagination and that he had read about a similar speculative fiction story about a man from an alternate timeline whose history was different from their history and who was stranded in this world, making him a stranger in a strange land. Jack raised the possibility that the old man had read a story similar to the story Jack had read and the old man had made it his own story. Milla said that the only thing that the old man was requesting was that he be allowed to get back to the bridge where he first appeared and that he could try to get back to his own world. Jack replied that it would do no harm to give in to his request. Milla agreed and asked Jack to come along so that they could bring the old veteran back to the Einstein-Hawking Bridge.

After picking up the old man from the nursing home, the three of them arrived at the bridge. Alighting from the car, Jack started pushing the wheelchair which seated the feeble old man, from the foot of the bridge towards the center. Milla noticed that as they got nearer to the center of the bridge, the old man started sitting straighter. The color of his cheeks became rosier and his eyes seemed to become more alive. Suddenly, the old man raised his hand and signaled Jack to stop. Jack stopped and the old man got up off the wheelchair and started walking. As he got nearer to the center of the bridge, from a slow walk, he went to a brisk walk, and then to a jog, and finally he was sprinting as he got to the center of the bridge. Jack and Milla were in shock. A fog had built up at the center of the bridge in front of the old man who turned and faced the couple. Standing there in place of the old man was a younger man but Milla could still recognize his features. The man waved goodbye and disappeared into the fog and after awhile, the fog also dissipated but no trace of the old man could be seen. Jack and Milla stared at each other in disbelief for a few moments but smiles appeared on the couple's faces. They hugged then started slowly walking back to their car, holding each other's hand.

Suggestion Please
John Almirante

If you want a computer course, your money is better spent on industry specific courses taught in training centers. For example, Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, and Sun certified courses rather than getting a computer degree where you learn theoretical stuff that misses most of what is needed in the real world.

My own I.T. certifications more than made up for my lack of a computer-related degree. My college degree is in the social sciences. I have 3 certifications and I didn't pay a cent to take a course since I studied on my own.

Database admins/developers make the most money. Oracle is basically the hardest to get into. I suggest you take an Oracle course that will get you in line for an Oracle Certified Associate or Professional qualification. After this, Java programmers are in very high demand. Sun offers the Sun Certified Java Programmer qualification.

Japan is in desperate need of I.T. personnel. They offer the JITSE certification which would qualify a person to work in the I.T. industry in Japan and would be an advantage when applying to local branches of Japanese companies.

My suggestion is still to get a non-I.T. course in college that will supplement your I.T. knowledge, such as writing, speech, accounting, or business management. If you are as technology oriented as I think you are, you can always learn outside of college. In college, you need to learn things that you wouldn't try to learn on your own.

Teen Safety on the Internet
John Almirante

The Internet has become a huge part of young people's social lives. With chat rooms, blogs, social networking sites like Friendster and MySpace, forums, online multiplayer gaming, and even popular sites like YouTube, there are just so many ways for young people to express themselves and meet and communicate with other people, no matter what age group. Going online to connect with others has become almost unavoidable for young people nowadays because of the general lack of any barriers to online access, the huge number of social networking options available to them, the desire to make new friends and experience the feeling of belonging to a group or virtual community, and just the natural behavior of following the trends that are prevalent among their peers.

The problem with so many young people having easy access to online virtual relationships is that so many of them believe that the Internet is different from the real word in that it is a perfectly safe environment and everything they see and read online is harmless, real, or true. This is not the case. Not only are there online individuals who deceive, use, and prey on unsuspecting young people but there are groups and even companies who deceive and wish to steal your personal information and profit from them or even destroy your important digital documents.

Young people should develop a healthy level of skepticism when meeting someone new online or reading something new. Don't act on impulse. Before performing a significant action like sending money, giving out their password, giving their credit card information, giving their personal, private details, scheduling and showing up for a real world meeting, they should think about it carefully and research thoroughly on the transparency and reputation of the individual, company, or group that the young person will be interacting with. Take the necessary precautions like installing security software that will warn them or prevent them from continuing if they are visiting a scam site and having a friend or friends accompany them to real world meetings.

The important thing to realize is that, like the real world, the Internet offers the good and the bad, and, just as in the real world, it is important to exercise an appropriate level of caution and to take the necessary precautions. Like the real world, the Internet can be a great opportunity to meet new friends and have fun; but very much like the real world, it can be a dangerous place when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. With the right level of awareness and precautions, young people can avoid experiencing the pitfalls of going online and still have an enjoyable and safe stay on the Internet.

This experience has really unnerved me
John Almirante

The good news is, the personal VPN solution I was looking to put together for me and my family finally worked. The bad news is, I think a hacker got into my computer while I was testing the VPN. Has this happened to anyone here before? I know the Windows 98 PC we used to use as router had several viruses and trojans uploaded to it and ran everytime we rebooted it but this time I think someone was able to login through Terminal Services into my PC.

I'm really disturbed by this and I still have 3 hours to go before I can go home and check my PC. I'm very worried and I can only fear the worst.

I had to open a few standard ports because I wasn't sure if I could get in using a tunneled port through a NATed firewall and a router with mapped ports to my PC. Well, I got the tunneling to work but after 2 hours that my ports were open, I noticed someone from a 213.x.x.x IP trying to access my port 443 (https). No problem, that was the tunneled and encrypted port.

Later, when I was attempting to get my Terminal Services connection to work through the tunnel, it finally worked but I saw that someone had attempted to login as exchsrvcs. Again, no problem, because I didn't have MS Exchange on my PC.

Still later, I disconnected from my normal Terminal Services connection, hoping to connect again through the tunnel and this time, I couldn't get in because there were already two users logged in to the TS! One user was me and my disconnected session. Who was the other user? Someone had gotten in, probably the guy or bot who was attempting the previous login and port access.

I panicked! Since I was in the office and I couldn't access TS anymore, I had to wake up my grouchy wife and my mom to shut down my PC. Now I dread booting up my PC because of what I may find. I hope the hacker who got into my PC is a non-destructive hacker. I hope he did not get any sensitive information as well. I think the hacker was logged in for only 15 minutes at most. I hope this isn't enough for him to fully check out my hard disk since it is 40gb and has 10 partitions.

Don't worry, VPNs are still secure. It was my carelessness (stupidity?) that allowed this to happen. I didn't think anyone would notice that my ports were open, after all, I just opened the ports some hours ago. It seems hackers move very very quickly.

I left open some standard ports - 443, 1494, and 3389. 443 is https and isn't used if you don't use a web server. 1494 is the Citrix port. 3389 (RDP/Terminal Services) is used by default in every Windows 2000 server. I was using port 443 as my tunnel port. The hacker was able to get in through 3389. I needed port 3389 open in case I couldn't get through the tunnel port so I could still access my PC. Lesson learned.

We use a Netgear router and its built-in firewall at home. The VPN solution I'm using is the open-source Zebedee and I was finally able to get it working today. I finally tunneled my Terminal Services connection through it.

Any User Feedback On Xda2?
John Almirante

I've had the XDA2 for 3 months now. It's pretty annoying if the battery runs out since I lose all my files and messages.

The first week I got it, I took video clips and pictures at my daughter's birthday party. I transferred a few clips & pictures over to my MMC but forgot to transfer the rest. I just downloaded an overclocking program and I tried to set it to the higher settings. It then locked up and I lost all the video clips and pictures of daughter's birthday party that I forgot to save to the MMC.

Since then I always remember to transfer any picture or video clip I take to the MMC as soon after I take it.

I thought that this would not become my primary phone or that I'd get annoyed over the fact that, as a PDA, I had to recharge it more often than a Palm.

But what happened was, because it has a cradle which I bring everywhere with me, it's pretty easy and convenient to keep it charged all the time. So, compared to my ordinary cellphone it's always charged, all the time. So when I need to use it, it has a charge.

My other phone, I frequently forget to charge it so it’s mostly in low-batt status just when I need it the most. This happens very rarely with me and my XDA2.

Also, since I use its PDA function frequently, it’s a great value. I now use it as my primary phone since I know I won’t let it reach low-batt status.

I don't think that it is as handy as a phone though, because I'm scared to take it out when I’m traveling by public transportation; and it is somewhat bulky and difficult to send text messages since you have to use two hands.

As far as hanging is concerned, if you use it mostly as a phone, just like other cellphones it will rarely hang. So far, I've had it up for a month now. But I make sure I back up all my files and all my messages (using Smartphone Studio which you can get at

Try FIREFOX. Much better than IE
John Almirante

I must say that Opera has been my choice of browser ever since version 3.62. It still is the fastest browser around. I never considered Mozilla, Netscape, or Firefox as a secondary browser. My previous secondary browsers were IE-shells (MyIE, Maxthon, Avant, and recently, GreenBrowser). Netscape and Mozilla were too bloated and Firefox lacked enough features to woo me. That all has changed.

Lately, I've been frustrated with the slowness and instability of Maxthon and Avant Browser. I recently upgraded to Firefox 1.5 to test if it was any better. I started out downloading themes to make Firefox look better but ended up learning about its true power - its configurability through its extensions.

I saw how easy it was to install themes and I wanted to see if it was as easy as well to download extensions - and it was. With each extension I downloaded, I could see how different and better Firefox could be. I could actually make Firefox behave almost like my beloved Opera but with much more options and with more features. Opera's features are hard-coded into the browser by the developers and it cannot be added-on. Firefox has just so many extensions created by different developers and is easily accessed, installed, and updated.

The killer extension for me is IE tab. This allows me to open a webpage in a tab using the IE engine. This essentially makes Firefox an IE shell, making this the best IE shell around! Other extensions worth getting are the 4 games available - Mines, Blockfall, Card Games, and Clines.

Another feature of Firefox that convinced me to install on my system is its portability. The version of Firefox allows you to install it on a flash drive or in any directory and then have the option to move it to any other directory without breaking anything.

There are just so many other useful and entertaining extensions that this has convinced me that Firefox is the most powerful browser around. I don't understand why 85% of the world still uses IE when more powerful and secure browsers like Firefox and Opera are available. IE is just so plain, basic, and lacking innovation. It just plain sucks. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do.