Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Glimpse of What We Do In Papua New Guinea

There’s a saying that says, “An opportunity only knocks once.” And then it’s up to us to decide in which way it’s better greeted up.

My older cousin, kuya Jun, has invented a series of object classes in a programming language called Visual Foxpro. These classes are mostly an enhanced version of the usual controls that we normally see on desktop computers being run by Windows OS.  To help you imagine what an object class is, you can think of the browser’s title bar as an example where at the rightmost corner of which you can find three inseparable buttons: the Minimize, Maximize and Close button. His classes include a title bar class, and what it does is that it gives other software developers the chance to change the title bars’ appearance during run time and make them look more pleasing to the eye.

A benefit that one gains from such feat, aside from the money that pours in from subscriptions, is a surprising increase in the number of followers that recognize your invaluable contributions to VFP communities.

While I, myself, have been contributing for years in my own leisure, they're just an infinitesimal dot in the cyberspace of history. I wish not be perceived as being cocky, but if someone likes to see the stuffs that I gave away for free, please visit these two links: the Polyclock class and the Number To Word function.

Anyway, the reason being that I have come up with the quote above is because this post is mildly related to that. As kuya Jun’s class increased in popularity, so does the frequency of deposits made to his Paypal’s virtual wallet. The emerging problem thereafter is about finding the way to make use of it because his Paypal account has no link to his other personal bank account. He thought it better to spend them on buy and sell items; like order an item from Ebay with Paypal and sell it locally.

I am one of the few “local” buyers.

A few months ago, I ordered a 120-set of Faber-Castell Polychromos color pencils from him. I got it for less than 20% of the price in the retail market. The delivery was prompt, which did not take more than two months. Before the novelty wears out, I thought it appropriate to take the opportunity of making a drawing with it. That’s my hand in the picture. I’m kind of wearing a crude smudge guard which I made from a recycled glove mitten.
If you’re wondering who it is that I’m drawing, she’s Julia Gillard, one of Australia’s former prime ministers. 

In the office, I continue to be busy on anything I can work on with. The scope, in which the whole weight of my responsibility falls into, is a bit large. While surrounding circumstances make me prioritize software development, I also put myself in charge of our company's digital arts, computers and networking maintenance, and inventory management. An apparent visible cue to having as much work is the agglomeration of various things on my desk.

Although a cluttered desk may receive an immediate impression of being a disorganized old chap, I beg to disagree.  A few mitigating factors involved in having such is my reluctance to dispose of remnants of the finished works, simply for the reason that I find delight in savoring the fruits of labor.

But any of which you see on my desk is regarded with equal importance. Hence, a puncher and a calculator are as indispensable as that of the three-screen display that I have. Working on multiple screen is fun and it can increase productivity to a certain point by reducing the time spent on shifting through open apps. 

In the picture above, on the left screen, is the CinchPro Payroll System that I’m creating for the company that I’m working with. In the middle is the source code editor and the screen on the right is for viewing SQL queries.

Before I knew about the existence of Acrylic paints in tubes, I was using watercolors. The A4 size artwork above is of the cartoon Thomas and Johnny and is what I painted with Mont Marte watercolors. The advantage of using acrylic paints over watercolors is that the former doesn’t fade after it dries out, but the latter doesn’t dry as fast on the palettes. I’ll post some of my artworks using acrylics in the near future if time permits.

Here in Papua New Guinea, we spend most of our times in the office or in the city proper. I find it that there’s not much an opportunity to be out and about and be in one with nature at one's whims. But one such opportunity arises during when I accompany my friends to a morning mass held during Sundays somewhere in Waigani. Even though I just usually wait for them and sit the time entirely in this parking lot that resembles a nature themed park, the experience is worth taking on.

That’s all for this week. Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Making of TWS Banner

One thing that I have developed over the years since the reign of Banner Mania is an affinity for composing graphic arts. The motivating factor behind is fun. While I find it not so hard to do, I don’t claim that I’m good in this niche. But on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s fairly reasonable to say that I’m somewhat comfortable being sited in one’s judicious perception of what the average skill is.

Which is probably close to 5.

This is my design for the banner that we’re planning to temporarily put up in our display room. TWS stands for Total Workplace Supplies and it’s pretty much an emerging company in Papua New Guinea. The initial aim for the banner is to provide our visitors with an instant way of knowing what we’re dealing of. The man sanitizing his hand with what has come out of a Purell sanitizer on the wall is a subtle hint for children that the clear liquid in the bottle is not meant for drinking.  

Actually, I’m just kidding.

A more subtle hint is that when you see a smiling man happily sanitizing his hand before a liquid dispenser, it's probably tempting to say, "Wait, it's not lunch yet?"

I borrowed this photo from the Gojo website. I’m hoping that they won’t mind because we’re actually trying to promote their interesting range of products, which you are most likely to see being used in the office premises and in the lavatories of hotel rooms. 

I have also borrowed one photo from a Google search result, this is what I used for the background.

I was actually browsing for some royalty free photos online but our staff has voluntarily offered that we use his photo instead. So here, we made our own little photo-session in the office. 

He looks more than happy for getting this much attention, I reckon. 

Out of those eight photos, we have chosen this. All of the photos are actually nice but the angle and shades in this photo just fell on the right places. What remains of the other photos is immediately perceived of as the casualty of a propitious photo-shoot.

Oh, by the way, the guy’s name is Stanley.

Here, I’m trying to work out a Photoshop magic. The picture of the office is slightly tilted to the left and is applied with Gaussian Blur of 38.3 pixels. The purpose of which is to create an illusion of depth once in place behind Stanley’s photo.

Next, we’ll remove the background from this photo to prepare it for compositing. I used the Adobe Photoshop’s pen tool to manually trace over an imaginary line around Stanley. The Bezier curve with points above Stanley's hand is an example of how I control the flow of the curves with a pen tool.

A few notable settings that I use when cutting off the background are the following:

Feather = 1
Smoothing = 3
Selection Expand or Contract = 5

Here’s the final image after compositing. I played around and made some changes in Hues and Saturation, Color Balance, Levels and Curves to create an impression that the three different images are of the same photo. The last adjustment I made to this banner was a Warming Photo Filter (85) with a density of 6%.

Printing banners on the canvass is not much of a problem in Port Moresby. The major players in this field are the Colour Boys, Theodist, Moores Printing, Creative Arts and Tiger Signage. The photo above is in the workplace of Tiger Signage.

Have a good day everyone!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Halo-halo and Ukay-ukay

Long ago, a group of Filipino sailors sailed together with Spaniard soldiers for a trade mission to Australia. Within the woody confines of a Spanish Galleon, off they went from the Philippines and into the vastness of the southern ocean. 

They carry with them: buffalo milk, sugar, various kinds of beans like mongo and the other types that look like the modern beans. They also brought eggs and purple yams.

In the midst of their journey, somewhere in the northeast of Papua New Guinea, there happened to be a huge storm billowing over the horizon. Without an Island on sight, the captain of the ship ordered a full speed ahead towards the southern hemisphere. Despite knowing the utmost danger of the harsh waters in the Pacific, the Filipinos obliged.

But the storm had gathered in speed and size much sooner than everyone expected and it was not long until it found the Galleon floating like a sitting duck with her crews scrambling around trying to fix her bearing amidst the strong waves and howling winds.

By then, darkness has already engulfed the ocean and even the wind-proof lamps could not compensate for the diminishing visibility brought about by the mixture of a heavy rain and hales. 

Hale. That was something scarier than one’s average source of fright. For it can punch holes through the brittle hulls of the Galleon and can knock anyone out to a deep slumber. Truly, they were a devastating force for their impact alone had broken off the mast of the ship, rendering it incapacitated. Without the sails, the crew knew they are bound to a gloomy desolation. With the storm this big, all they can do is pray and wait it out to pass. 

The next morning, everything was calm. The storm has passed by. But they couldn’t believe that the strong draught had pushed them all the way down the icy part of the world—the Antarctica! And to make it even worse, their ship has run aground on a big ice shelf.  

Feeling joyful somehow for having survived the storm, they all went down to set foot on the icy continent. That’s when the captain of the ship told the men a quote that had since put up on the annals of the history of men:

“Bring forth the beans, the buffalo milk, the sugar, the eggs and the purple yams for today, we will celebrate! We shall celebrate the day that we have lived when we’re supposed to have been in the hands of death.”

And so, the Filipino men, prepared a fire and cooked the beans. They also made a leche flan out of the buffalo milk and the eggs.  Our Filipino ancestors knew some archaic recipes about purple yams so the crew made halaya out of it.

When everything was done, they set all of the foods on the table. The captain once again spoke, “What seems to be missing? We have beans, sugar, milk, leche flan and halaya?”

Without saying a word, a Filipino crew stood up, walked over to where some pile of snow hasn’t solidified yet and scooped a handful. He came back to the table and asked the other crews to fill their cups with beans and sugar. He then stuffed the cup with snow. One of the crews put a slice of leche flan and a spoonful of halaya on the mixture. 

Seeing that what they are about to make there is something of a novelty invention, the Captain poured the milk over the mixture, thinking that if it’s going to be a success, then it’s worth contributing something even with just a miniscule effort. Alas! They have made something that no one has ever done before.

And that was how, my friend, the halo-halo was invented.

But I was just kidding. I just made that story up. In Papua New Guinea, however, there is a similar kind of halo-halo being sold for less than K10 (Kina) at Kopitiam restaurant. The Malaysian chef there calls it “Ice Ka-chang.” 

One can probably just ignore the tiny differences between halo-halo and the ice-kachang. The reason being for wanting to indulge on sweets like this is perhaps to alleviate what we are experiencing from the heat of global warming. 

Contrary to my made-up story, the ice in the Ice-kachang didn’t come from the Antarctic, but instead it came from the belly of that cute ice grinder sitting next to nanay Ada in this picture. I’m not sure why it looked like a mascot, but with my tendency to over-speculate; I’d probably think that its primal reason for the disguise was to lure curious children into coming closer so it could gobble them up.

Just kidding.

Perhaps, it’s all part of the marketing strategy. Cute things tend to attract more.

Actually, before we went to Kopitiam, me and nanay Ada had spent an hour going through the displays in one of the second hand shops in Port Moresby. This shop is somewhere around the Gordons area, near the Nesa Foam. 

The Kopitiam is somewhere around the Waigani area. The shop is behind these inanimate figures. It’s also near the “tunnel,” and when we mention the tunnel, almost everyone knows where it is.  But the tunnel is somewhat a misnomer, because it’s actually a short gap under a skyway called Poreporena highway. 

Have a nice day everyone! 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

How to Write a Letter of Donation

Quite a few days ago, I was urgently asked by a colleague to help her write a letter of donation to a person who was previously working with us. Unfortunately, that person is unable to work at the time being, or may not be able to work at all, due to a vehicular accident.

I love to claim that I am not an expert in writing letters simply because it's the truth. And the internet has a veritable stockpiles of various letter examples, all that one needs to do is google through them.

But I guess, our friendly Google can also come back empty-handed especially if the topic being looked up is atypical. Sometimes, it treats us instead to a generous serving of hits that have a little significance to what is being asked for. I'd like to think that it's due to its search-algorithm going haywire and deviating from the given task while pretending to be in possession of an intelligence that is akin to a 6 year old kid.

The closest thing that we can probably think of in comparison is the autonomous robot called AMEE in the movie Red Planet. Amee is designed to provide a mechanical support to the astronauts involved in a mission to Mars. A small accident has caused Amee's behavioral shift, and it became a contumacious robot that hunted down all of the accompanying astronauts to death.

Anyway, with the very little time given to do more searches, I am only left with the option to compose my own. So, here's the basic letter of donation that I wrote. I believe that it may help you jumpstart your "idea-machinery" and have you working on your own style in no time.


Dear Employee Name,

We are deeply saddened by the news of your accident. It is unfortunate that despite all of our efforts to stay clear of troubles, nature is habitually unpredictable and oftentimes random in disseminating misfortunes to any of us.

We believe that no human being deserves to suffer from the debilitating effect of a vehicular accident, let alone the unbearable pain that it leaves behind.

Therefore, to assist you with your medical expenses, the company has decided to give you a K500 donation.  We humbly believe that, no matter how trivial this amount may be, it will be of assistance to your medical needs.

We wish you a speedy recovery. We hope that this small token of appreciation will merit a little smile from you.

Thanking you for your service to us.

Yours Truly,

Your Name

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The King of All Corned Beef

How does one make a review of a certain brand of corned beef?

This question has had me mildly stumped for a while, and for once, I found myself stretched out in between the two opposing sides of whether I should write about it or not. But my inquisitive instinct has got the better of me and I thought that, maybe, a short, but a straightforward write up of my own observation would suffice.

Back in the Philippines, Filipino families of all means are blessed with an equally comfortable opportunity of buying canned foods in the consumer market. And having experienced life both being in the poor sector and in the middle class,  I don’t quite remember of having known a particular brand of tin food, like corned beef, for instance, being produced for the upper-class alone.

But perhaps, there exists a brand that is virtually accessible only to the rich ones and such closely guarded existence that has eluded my awareness for years may allude to a possibility that being unaware of it all my life is a proof that it does exist.

I’m probably watching too much movies.

Anyway, in Papua New Guinea, there is a locally produced brand of corned beef that is really nice. The brand is Ox & Palm. It’s so nice that I now consider calling it, the “King of all Corned Beef.”

But how does one arrive at such hasty conclusion, you ask?

I think that a good corned beef is like the product of a good marriage. The perfect balance in the marital mixture of soft beef, salt and sweet produces a unique taste that only Ox & Palm, at the time being, can deliver.

I’ll probably buy a couple and bring it with me to the Philippines so my relatives could try as well.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Filipino Dish

Papua New Guinea has hundreds of acres of viable soil well suited for cultivating vegetable farms, but in the conurbations like Port Moresby, modernization has caught on to it like an emblazoning fire slowly sweeping across a vast dry land, much to the delight of everyone who finds modernization as a welcome excuse to turn everything into glistening concrete pavements.

While a modernization could sometimes mean goodbye to green scenery, that's not necessarily the case for Port Moresby and I would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration to the NCDC, the governor and the Prime Minister for putting up these tree boxes in the middle of most highways around the city. These trees are superbly helpful to the people who loves to go out on foot. 

A better way to make use of an old and rusting metal drum that has seen better days is to turn it into a plant box. A few months ago, a co-manager of mine has planted sweet potatoes (kaukau) in it and this is what it looked like now. She even put up a mesh grill to keep our housedog from burying chicken bones into the potting soil.

I have been asking our local staffs if they know that Kau-kau sprouts are an edible part of the plant besides the root, and the widespread reply is that they had only been consuming the fleshy roots, all the while ignoring the leaves. Just to be on the safe side, what we're actually picking off the stems are the young leaves growing at the endmost part of the stalks. 

The leaves that have gone bigger kind of leaves an aftertaste in the mouth. 

Last Sunday, we thought it was about time to harvest leaf sprouts for breakfast. I snipped off some of the leaves and a lady co-manager provided the perfect recipe for it. Another recipe that has withstood the test of time is to simply put these leaves in a boiling water for a few minutes. 

As what the picture suggests, sweet potato leaves are best served with anchovies (bagoong).
And if you try and add fried Matang-baka (Eye scad fish), fried Okra (ladies finger), fried Ampalaya (bitter gourd), a few slices of mango and rice, like what we’re having for this breakfast, you are about to experience one of the typical dishes that, we Filipinos, have come to love in ages.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...