Monday, May 26, 2008

A Time Capsule for T

About a month ago, T's MacBook crashed. A hard disk failure can be like a death in the family especially when, as in T's case, her last backup was from a year ago. (Of course, the lack of backups was my fault, but I won't get into all that.)

Here's part of T's Inquirer column about her Mac crash:

Parting with my cyber memories
By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:16:00 04/27/2008
MANILA, Philippines - Lost in cyberspace, I have a year’s worth of digital photos and files waiting to be retrieved hopefully by some computer geek. Just last week, my iMac’s hard disk crashed. When the screen went blank, my electronic life flashed before my eyes! But as with any loss, I’ve learned to “just let it go!” To help me move on, this week I want to write about cleansing, both in the real and cyber worlds.
I had failed to back up my files, so my first call was to Mac genius Elbert Cuenca. I went to visit him in his superb restaurant, Elbert’s Steak Room at Unit 3-A, an almost hidden walk up the side stairs of the Sagittarius Building at 111 H.V. De la Costa St. in Salcedo Village, Makati. If you’re lost, call 3393363 or make reservations at

Unfortunately not even Elbert could save the disk. All T had done was initiate the Shut Down procedure and then closed the MacBook cover. Elbert said that wasn't the cause, but who really knows with computer gremlins?

MacBooks are equipped with SATA hard disks, which have a small failure rate. Worse, when a crash occurs, the SATA drives have a rep as being unrecoverable. All this was explained by the techies at Ynzal and Xyon Systems, where we sent the hard disk for any possible Lazarus effects. They suggested sending the hard disk to the U.S. for clean room recovery, but the price tag on that is $2,000. Hmmm. Luckily, T said no.

After I got her new hard disk installed, I decided to also get a Time Capsule for the house. I first read about TC from David Pogue's column, Pogue's Post, in the New York Times (which unfortunately came out two weeks after the crash).

TC backs up a computer automatically, constantly and wirelessly. I named the machine Yellos Base, after one of Tyrone's Internet code names. YB does a backup of T's Mac every hour, on the hour. At the end of the day, it saves one version for the day. It does the same at the end of the month.

In the event of a hard disk failure or if T wanted to find a file she had previously deleted, all she'd have to do would be to start up Time Machine. The display would show a space continuum with all the backup versions lined up. When she finds what she's looking for, she simply clicks Restore.

At home, YB is not a one-trick pony. It's connected to the main internet cable and acts as a wireless router to connect Tyrone's, Annika's, Tessa's and my computers together. So all our computers are now backed up regularly. Of course, true disaster-recovery pros would still scoff, since our backups are not stored offsite, but hey, these aren't the Bangko Sentral's records.

Also when we have guests who want to connect to the web, they can easily do that since YB acts as a wireless hub. Why talk when we can just check each others' Facebook accounts from across the table? That's what I call cloud socializing!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Garage Sale

I never thought a garage sale was a bloggable event, but apparently, T's garage sale made the blogosphere. As always, it was another of her charity fundraisers together with her Assumption Batch 81 classmates.

I was just amazed at the whole production, from the posters to publicize the event all the way to the security guards to - what? Guard against shoplifters?

I also found out that in Forbes, you can't just have a garage sale. You have to notify the association and, I love this, pay a garage sale fee. It's all of P50 so I don't even know what this covers.

The complete post, including great photos of the stuff that was sold, is here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kids are coming!

I can hardly wait...

Daisypath Vacation PicDaisypath Vacation Ticker

P.S. Thanks to Meyan's blog for introducing me to

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Mom's Day Surprise

On Mother's Day, I found myself lounging around the Polo pool with the rest of the Valdeses - a laid back way of celebrating the day. Suddenly my cell rang. Joey Campillo, an old friend I hadn't seen in ages, was asking where I was. Minutes later, he was walking towards our cabana.

That's when I noticed there was a wide-brimmed hat bobbing up and down behind him. T was back from Tubbataha one day early! She had enlisted Joey's help to be able to sneak up on all of us.

It was such a cool Mom's Day surprise, especially since all the kids are in Oz and the house has been empty.

Tubbataha weather had turned bad on their last day, so they had come back a day early. More photos of their trip are on Vina M's Multiply site
and will eventually be on Cris H's Multiply site, when our fave photog gets the energy to post them. This photo by Cris is a good example of the great viz they had during their week there.

T's early return without advance warning to me generated a lot of funny comments. The best was from her Tita M, who noted, "You're lucky. Many wives would be the ones who are surprised."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Acquire Night

Over the past decade, four friends and I have been playing Acquire. We average four nights a year when we all get together at someone's home and play three games for the night.

Total accumulated winnings for the evening determine the winner and runner-up, who then share our prize pool in a 2:1 ratio. The pool is pretty small, P500 each plus fines for latecomers and for the last to arrive. The pool just brings a bit of excitement to the game.

The complete rules for Acquire are here.

We've been playing so long that when we first started, the game looked like this, with a Dracula-type banker on the box cover. (It was produced by 3M, the Scotch tape guys. The modern version above was developed by Hasbro.)

On Acquire Nights, we bring our wives, who gossip on their side of the table while the five of us play and chat on ours. (Note that I'm being politically incorrect by saying the women "gossip" while we "chat," as if our talk was any more substantive than theirs.)

Over the decade, four of the five of us have remained with the same spouse, which is a pretty good batting average for Manila. Also, about five children have been added in that decade, which is a pretty low figure for the country.

Acquire was invented by a board game designer named Sid Sackson in the '60's (interesting job title). Sackson also collected games and when he died (in 2002), had over 18,000 in his collection. As a nice touch, when Hasbro updated the game, they named one of the corporations Sackson (although they also used it for the cheapest corporation, which is kind of a cheap shot).

There are various websites that talk about the history of the game, its rules, variations, tournaments and all sorts of Acquire trivia. Naturally I read through it all, especially since there's nothing to do when nobody else is at home.

The point of all this is that we had an Acquire Night last night and I just now figured out we've been doing something wrong all this time. We've always dealt each other $5,000, and just tonight I read the exact rule:

Each player begins the game with $6000 in cash ($1000 x 4, $500 x 3, $100 x 5) and six tiles picked at random for their starting racks.

Oops, time to return all bets!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Athena's Birthday

I called her up this morning. When it's your third birthday, it's important to get a call from Daddy.

We had a fairly long conversation too, as discussions with three-year-olds go. She was babbling away and in the back, I could hear Yaya Juvy instructing her, "Thank you, Daddy," "I love you, Daddy," and finally "Bye-bye, Daddy."

All the kids are in Oz with their Prieto grandfolks; T left yesterday for a week of scuba diving in Tubbataha... the house is dark, hot and humid. To keep myself occupied, I played 22 holes of golf and swam a kilometer yesterday and then swam another today.

At home, it's the second round of mechado and binagoongan, but one hardly cares when you get home from the office past ten. And anyway afterwards, there's this blog to keep me occupied!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Why We Should Scrutinize Our Meralco Bills

I've often been amazed by our electric bill, which makes me feel like I might have an entire barangay surreptitiously connected to my meter or something. Last summer, for instance, T and the kids were all in the U.S. for a month. So I decided to "minimize my carbon footprint." At the end of a month of April's heat and darkness, our bill was still over Php 30k.

Here's a classic story of a guy with a high electric bill who should have bothered to look into it, from Agence France Presse:

AMSTETTEN, Austria (AFP) — A former tenant in Austria's "house of horrors" ... could have pointed to the secret dungeon where a woman was held as a sex slave by her father for 24 years, in an interview published Friday.

Sepp Leitner told the daily Die Presse he had come eerily close to discovering the windowless prison a decade ago. Leitner lived for four years in a small flat on the ground floor immediately above the cellar in the 1990s. He said he could never understand why his electricity bill was so high, considering he was frequently absent and did not even have a washing machine.

Leitner only realised this month after the case emerged that he was paying the utility costs for the underground prison as well, which had an elaborate security system installed by owner Josef Fritzl, a former electrician.

"If I'd been a bit more persistent and not let it go until the mystery of the high electricity consumption had been resolved, perhaps we'd have found out about the dungeon earlier," Leitner said.

This month, Ty, Annika and Athens are all in Oz with their grandparents. Only T and I are home, but she leaves for a week of diving in Tubbataha on Sunday, while I hold the proverbial fort. With the lights and the aircon shut off...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You Can HAVitALL!

It's not often that T's "SE" (social events) stuff can actually be fun, but it was when HAVitALL multivitamins paid for us plus six friends to have a scuba weekend at Dive Solana.

We ended up inviting u/w hockey players aka the Solana Six (although the rest of the group who didn't get to sign up called us the Solana Seniors). All our pix are on our Multiply sites, so you need to click here to see them.

Here's what Tessa had to say about the weekend in her column:

New challenges

The newest multivitamin in the market, HAVitALL, has been actively promoting their product by inviting friends to take on new challenges. The invitation was a marvel of cute packaging, encouraging me to take up a new activity, like surfing, karting or even pottery making. Although I already scuba dive, I chose this activity so that I could bring along my husband, Dennis, and several of his friends from underwater hockey.

Dive Solana was our chosen resort, because of their friendly service and homey accommodations. In between the dives, we visited with agency bigwig Ichay Bulaong, who was spending her weekend on a personal social responsibility project with her family and friends—to help paint an underwater mural on the fence of the San Teodoro Elementary School in Barangay Mabini. The project organizer, Sandy Hammet, noted that the mural painting was part of Project Utay Utay, the barangay’s environmental initiative.

It’s great to see how many Pinoys find different ways of helping their communities. For me and the underwater hockey group, it was a great way to spend our HAVitALL weekend. Indeed, good deeds are cleansing for the soul!

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