My rocky road to Android development

It has been a week since I started to learn Android programming…and yeah…it’s not going so well. I’ve learned a few XML and got back to my Java skills, but when it comes to putting things together and thinking of a sensible app, I’M A MESS.

It’s hard to come up with original ideas for an app. In my case, I can barely get some extra time to think of it in between being a full-time intern and thinking of a cool thesis topic and studying data structures and algorithms to get myself to ACM-ICPC Philippines next year. There’s just so much to learn, but Android is just such a MUST-LEARN for me this summer.

I was doing this one this morning, from a tutorial in an Android Development book that was published like a Donut ago. I’m still at DatePickerDialog and TimePickerDialog and some other “fancy views”, as the book called them. Sucks to go so slow.droid

Advertisements

Sublime Text: just the coolest text editor around

Sublime Text: just the coolest text editor around

My supervisor in my internship recently introduced me to one cool editor he’s been using for some time. I tried it out while coding in PHP for a website we were building. The editor’s called Sublime Text. It has this absolutely fantastic interface that gave me a somewhat heavenly user experience. Very original look. For coders out there, you might want to give this a try. Download it from www.sublimetext.com/

My Year 2012

It’s almost the beginning of another year. Looking at it from where we are now, it would seem like everything has gone too fast, almost as if we didn’t go through anything at all, and nothing changed since last year. But when we begin to hop from one memory to another, recalling those days when we were at our best, those days that brought us down that we thought there was never going to be a bright tomorrow, and those days when we laughed and cried, got angry, or confused, let down or hurt – we realize that we’ve been through so much.

Those things that happened only a few months ago, felt like a year or two. But letting all the connections flow through our minds once again, well, that’s different. Those dates on our calendars will no longer matter. Another year will be a new chapter of our journey, another story to tell. On this year, 2012, my story gained more worth – there were more characters, more highpoints, and more insight. This is my Year 2012.

In The Beginning

I started the year feeling lonely, as usual. After skies of fireworks displays and a bottle of good wine on a New Year’s Eve, in three days, I was back to school, doing the same usual stuff an ordinary student would do – homework, exams, projects. But there was one subject I was particularly interested in during that semester, a subject that started to open my eyes to some realities, like what it’s really like to live outside the world that we’ve been raised in. I was at a phase of spiritual questioning at the beginning of this year, and lost my sense of religion in the process. I denied being Catholic for my disbelief in a god. And then I studied Buddhism for a while, but didn’t practice it or any religion. Didn’t feel like I needed to.

Not a lot of people know about me resigning from “faith”, not even my family. Even up to now, I still try to find excuses to not to go to church all because I couldn’t tell anyone that I can no longer digest the concept of divine intervention, not like the way I was years ago, when I was still an active church choir member.

Lambakan 2012

On March 20-22, White & Blue conducted its 5th Luzon-wide cultural and journalism gathering, Lambakan 2012. It was my second time to be part of this event, and my first time to be directly involved in organizing it. At that time, our two Associate Editors-in-Chief were in China for a 5-month exchange study. Our Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Exchange Editor, and 6 Department Heads were left to manage the whole event – from getting all the supplies to contacting the speakers and delegates. Me? I was with the 30+ strong staff who carried tables, prepared food, and did pretty much anything the Heads told me to do. I also did some paperwork, which got me to several hotels and restaurants, and to some of the deeper offices in SLU.

This event gave me a little taste of fun in the middle of hardship. Although I didn’t see it at first, I enjoy this kind of activity that White & Blue does.

Lambakan poster

IMG_4427

Outings

On the same month, some friends and I wanted to go to an adventure before our summer classes start on April. So we looked for a place that didn’t involve any money at all, and finally found a nice spot just around 13 kilometers north of Baguio City: Sabdang. There I experienced a steep hike down mountains, into rows of slippery rocks, three water falls, and almost spelunking  entirely two caves. All that while wearing jeans, a white shirt, and slippers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a couple of days and a little stretching, we went to a resort in Bauang, La Union. When summer classes ended, I went resort hopping but still didn’t learn how to swim decently. For most of the time from June to September, I was going with some friends to various restaurants in Baguio, deciding which ones were good to write about in travel sites. By October, during the semestral break, my high school batch mates and I went to another resort, which already became our annual tradition for us to meet up.

2012-10-18 11.00.20

Personal Records

Yes, I had failures, but I also had things to be proud of in 2012.

People know how extravagantly I spend my money, but for the first time in my life, I was able to save exactly Php 6,000 out of a 700-peso weekly allowance (plus bonuses if I get lucky) in only three months. Personal record breaker. Guess where I spent all that money on.

During this year, I also had so many opportunities to travel to other provinces and cities in the country. Unfortunately, during most of those travels, I had no camera with me, like the time when I went on a one-day solo trip to Pasay to…well, never mind why I went there. I went to SM Mall of Asia and ate lunch at BonChon, a restaurant well known for its spicy chicken. I was so frustrated about not having a camera that I just grabbed a BonChon tissue paper on my way out. When I arrived in Baguio, I borrowed a friend’s camera and immediately took a picture of the tissue paper – JUST TO HAVE SOME SORT OF REMEMBRANCE THAT I WAS ONCE IN PASAY.

Here’s the picture:

my only sep 20 manila trip proof

I also learned new programming languages: C# and Python, and I am currently learning Android programming, after finally buying my first Android phone last October. My Spanish mission did quite fine too, although I slowed down on Skype meet-ups with native speakers now. Oh, and did I mention that I’m already working on a novel?

Ending The Year Right

After the first semester, I already thought that I was going to end this year the same way I ended the previous years: lame. But something changed during that semestral break up to the second semester. I realized that I was hanging around the White & Blue office much more often than I have been since my freshman year.

On October 22, I was fortunate enough to join the White & Blue editors and heads in Inkblots, the 3-day journalism gathering organized by The Varsitarian of University of Santo Tomas. Something about our long and expensive taxi rides, our evening story-telling at a creepy guesthouse, our poorly digested breakfasts, and just simply everything that we did together opened my eyes to a brighter side of the organization.

2012-10-23 09.25.35

2012-10-23 20.43.14

I began seeing it as a family for the next weeks that came, enjoying every event that we held in and out of the campus. The best part of it was that I even got to be the happiest that I’ve been since ever while I was with them. On December 1 and 2, we put up our own fun booth during the Handog ng SLU sa Baguio, an annual fair done by the whole university at the Melvin Jones grounds. We sold dirty ice cream, chicharon, and taho with cleverly thought-of names. Our cartoonists did Henna tattoos and face paints that were mostly provided for free for the staff. Even I got a dragon tattoo on my right shoulder.

There was nothing else that I thought of during those two days except to be there. For a reason even I didn’t know, I felt truly happy at last. After the event, I was able to sleep without any doubt or anger in my head.

SAM_2318 SAM_2340 SAM_2534

***

This year, 2012, I started out clueless about the world and all its wonderful opportunities. And then came people who were always there when I needed help. They were there to teach me things that I barely even knew about before. White & Blue taught me to become human, and it’s still teaching me so much more up until now. In it, I become a normal person – a person with feelings, with likes, dislikes, goodness, and vices. It’s a place where I can be myself, free myself of all the pressure and nonsense inside the classroom. In White & Blue, I have a life.

But then, everything has to end at some point. I know that my time with the people I care about the most is limited, and maybe I’m running out of time. But during this year, I learned that the future is uncertain and the past is out of our reach, so the only thing we can do is to become who we are now, live now, love now, and make the most out of it. This year 2012, despite the failures, the fights, and the disappointments, I can never regret the time when I first entered the White & Blue office – the time that led me to this, a life that’s constantly changing to become a better person than I was yesterday.

How they made one hit and got the world wondering

Mark Foster was a struggling musician back in 2008. Ultimately suffering from writer’s block and lacking consistency in musical genre while working as a commercial jingle writer in California, he was desperate to form a band. In 2009, he met Mark Pontius, drummer, and Cubbie Fink, bassist, and together they started Foster The People, the band that made 8 consecutive weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2011, with their controversial song, Pumped Up Kicks.

This upbeat and groovy song is definitely something teenagers would want to dance to. It takes them back to the 80’s (or 70’s, I’m not sure, but let’s just say it’s the 80’s)…or for teens this year, to the 80’s they have never seen.

It’s a weird feeling every time I listen to it – it makes me feel like I’m going ’round and ’round on an 80’s skating rink playing Indie pop/rock songs in the background. It’s like a hip 80’s song on drugs, says one comment on the music video. Which I heard was partially the sense of it. Mark Foster did admit he was once heavy on the drugs when he was a teenager.

But that’s not what concerns the critics of Pumped Up Kicks. The lyrics struck most of its listeners in the first few months after its release:

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run better run, outrun my gun;

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run better run, faster than my bullet…”

It pretty much left a lot of info hanging, like what the song really means and what thought it’s trying to impose on kids’ minds. It stars a teenager who found a gun in his dad’s closet and was thinking of shooting the kids (the popular ones who can afford fancy shoes, Pumped Up Kicks) who bully him in school and maybe even his own dad. A Chicago Tribune reporter even wrote out:

“Foster is no Katy Perry, brazenly exploiting teen sexuality for the sake of “controversy.” But you can’t do “In Cold Blood” — even a Cliff’s Notes version of “in Cold Blood” — in two cryptic verses and eight repeats of the chorus. There’s just not enough information there.”

It’s like the Lady Gaga issue all over again – does listening to a song with an “immoral message” really make demons and murderers out of children as much as watching murder on TV does? What ever happened to personal expression? Or maybe the existence of ballads, songs that tell life stories, whether happy or sad, safe or murderous, is at question each time someone makes up a story and gives it an addictive beat?

Much of what I’ve heard, Pumped Up Kicks was originally meant to give a message against school shootings in the US, as Mark Foster was affected at some point by the Columbine Massacre in 1999. Peace be with the victims.

Who knows? But haters got to hate, right? Let the world wonder about the true meaning of Pumped Up Kicks. But until then, it remains a damn good song.

The Chorus

Another inspirational song from Donora, plus cute kids in the music video! 🙂

This is such a wonderful song that tells about loosening up and accepting the people who do the same thing too. Love others for who they are and not put so much pressure on them for trying to be someone you expect them to be. At the same time, don’t push yourself too much and too quickly that you lose track of the more interesting things in life.

The song inspires individuality in the best way. I love it because it exactly fits my current philosophies on freedom, on being myself and doing what I love to do. It’s also a nice song that makes me smile whenever I’m on high ground with wind blowing on my face and I have a good view of everything below, like when I’m on top of a mountain or on a rooftop. It almost feels like I’m in those TV travel ads on Discovery Channel. 🙂 I could spread my arms wide and breathe deeply while I listen to this song.

There’s a C# Pain in my Head

I’m off to learning a new programming language in school.

C#

It’s a lot like Java, and similarly addictive especially with the Visual C# Express 2010 IDE, and then making projects in our Programming Applications subject. There’s this whole new throbbing in my head while I’m getting familiar with C#. New keywords, new structure, and truly object-oriented.

Programming is the most fun I’ve had in the college classroom. Beyond the imperfections of our current curriculum, it’s the only thing I look forward to for being a Computer Science major. Sure, it’s a big pain in the head during the first few days or weeks being immersed in a new language, like how frustrated I was when I first programmed in Java and didn’t understand how object-oriented languages work. But I believe that it’s always a tough road before finally achieving one’s goals. I love what I do. I want to be PROgrammer. And I plan on going along with the difficulties until I get to be one of the best.