Hot Air Balloon Festival (Photo Gallery)

Date: February 13, 2005
Venue: Clark, Pampanga
Photos by: Chette Soriano

These photos were taken last February in the otherwise tidy surroundings of Clark, Pampanga.

Lesson learned: The Festival highlight is right before sunrise, when the balloons are being blown up and prepared for flight. The rest of the day is pretty much uneventful :)

Frequently Asked Questions


{mosimage}


Who are you?

Chette.

And by the way, that’s pronounced as "chet."

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What’s your name?

Chette. Seriously.

I’m officially Franchette in my birth certificate. Among other things. I am the unwilling recipient of a very long name (39 characters, to be exact); which I’ve always believed was caused by a creative clash between my parents on that fateful day in September.

I am also known as Che-chette, Chetteskie, Chettee Girl, Franchetteee, Chettelog, Maldita, and Darna — the reasons of which will not be covered in this FAQ.

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What is chette.com all about?

The good thing about having your own personal website: You can write (almost) anything you want.

The bad thing: People keep on asking what your website is all about.

As with your typical homepage, this website contains knowledge, opinions, and basically any information that the author would like to impart.

It originally started as an online diary, which quickly evolved to a site on web development. After a few years, I erased it from cyberspace, started from scratch, and just uploaded things at random.

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What do you do?

I was a horrible programmer in my past life. IT Marketing and Journalism welcomed me with open arms a few years later.

I discovered Project Management in my volunteer work. After a few years, I decided to apply these self-taught concepts to various software and web development projects, until it officially became my profession.

Ergo, for around 8 hours a day, I am a Software Project Manager.

For the remaining 16 hours, I sleep, write articles for various publications, do volunteer work for a bunch of non-profits, and try to make some sense out of my personal websites.

I have also been known to eat, sleep, watch TV, doodle, and go wild in hardware shops.

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Can you add tips about so-and-so in your website?

Sure. Just send me an email. And if it’s anything that triggers me, you’ll definitely see it on this website.

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Do you answer your emails?

I read most non-newsletter non-spam emails. Answering them is another matter.

Forgive me — I’m a mailing list freak, and thus receive hundreds of emails every day. I do try my best, but contrary to some beliefs, hindi ako si Darna.

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Mr. Macho

Once upon a time, or rather, once so many a time, Chette had a conversation with Mr. Macho.

Chette: Do you happen to have a copy of Document 1?
Mr. Macho: Why do you need Document 1?

Chette: I need to track the revisions made in Document 2.
Mr. Macho: Just use Document 2. It’s practically the same thing as Document 1.

Chette: I already have Document 2. I need Document 1.
Mr. Macho: You can figure out the revisions thru Document 2.

Chette: I need Document 1. Meron ka ba or wala?
Mr. Macho: Wala eh.

At least one every couple of weeks, I usually scout around for a specific software or hardware (aliased as “document”) for certain testing projects.

Thankfully, this task doesn’t take a lot of physical work, as it is usually done by contacting friends and acquaintances thru text messaging, or the more convenient instant messenger.

But it never fails: There is always some wiseguy (“Mr. Macho”) who would make me undergo the The Interview.

This is when Mr. Macho would subject me to a series of questions about why I need the specific software, if I actually believe it will fulfill my needs, and the justifications for my “choice.”

Oddly enough, Mr. Macho is not easily content with straightforward answers, and I would be lured to the next step: The Debate.

Mr. Macho will now rattle off his recommended alternatives, and why they are much better than what I am actually looking for — stopping short of giving a detailed SWOT analysis. If I’m not careful – meaning, I take the bait and argue with him point by point – this can be a long one.

The conversation usually ends with me reiterating my request (“Do you have it or not?”) and him finally answering the question.

My male friends say it’s a "guy thing." Some still think they are so macho that they need to show off their knowledge, and the female species just don’t know what they really want, much less the difference between an IDE and a jumper.

But I’m a nice person. Maybe this is just their way of telling me they don’t have what I am looking for, but they have something similar — and would I rather use it instead?

The problem is, it’s just happening a little bit too often. And, if you’re regularly multitasking a hundred things, the conversation is a time waster and a monstrous annoyance.

To the Mr. Machos of the world: I don’t care if you see me as a doe-eyed giggling fluffy human being. I know what I want. And if ever I need your advice, I won’t hesitate to ask for it.

Just give me my SATA cables, damnit.

Removing comment link from the homepage (AkoComment)

Note: This was written for Mambo 4.5.1a Stable and AkoComment 2.0

AkoComment gives your users the capability to post comments on content items. I personally use this on my website. AkoComment puts links to comments on the homepage. Unfortunately, this does not look visually appealing, most especially if you turned on Read More of Mambo.

  1. To remove the comment link from the homepage, open the file Mambo/mambots/content/akocommentbot.php in your favorite text editor.
     
  2. Go to the code near the bottom of the file, approximately at line 268.
     
  3. Comment-out some of the code, like so:

# If we are not on the content page
} #else {
# $replacementlink = ($ac_openingmode) ? "<a class=\"readon\" href=\"javascript:void window.open('".sefRelToAbs("index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=$row->id&pop=1&page=0")."', 'win2', 'status=no,toolbar=no,scrollbars=yes,titlebar=no,menubar=no,resizable=yes,width=640,height=480,directories=no,location=no');\">" : "<a class=\"readon\" href='".sefRelToAbs("index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=$row->id")."'>";
# if ($ac_mainmode == "0") {
# $row->text = str_replace( "{moscomment}", "<p><img src='$mosConfig_live_site/components/com_akocomment/images/comment.png' hspace='5' align='absmiddle'>$replacementlink"._AKOCOMMENT_WRITECOMMENT." ($total "._AKOCOMMENT_COMMENTS.")</a></p>", $row->text );
# } elseif (in_array ($row->sectionid, $seclistarray)) {
# $row->text = str_replace( "{moscomment}", "", $row->text );
# $row->text = $row->text."$replacementlink"._AKOCOMMENT_WRITECOMMENT." ($total "._AKOCOMMENT_COMMENTS.")</a>";
# }
# }

Lucien Sanchez

June 14, 1960 to January 30, 2005

To me, he was the older cousin who would always greet us with his signature smile. When I grew older, I found out that we technically weren’t even related (his half brother is my cousin, though). But we lived in the same street and he took care of us – in my mind, in his, and in the minds of all our relatives, we were family.

In our family, he was the painter, the carpenter, the all-around-guy – the person even my adept relatives would depend on whenever there was a renovation or repair.

When we were kids, we would always stare at him in awe. He was the guy in control. We would always see him handling some problem in our street, ending a fight, or guarding the precincts during elections.

In every funeral in our street, he would be the one making arrangements with the barangay, putting up the black tents, and setting the chairs and tables. He would be there for the bereaved family every night of the wake, until the traditional funeral march, when he would be the one to lead the traffic enforcers, his black cap covering his head.

No words could explain how we felt last Sunday, when time came for us to make the arrangements for Lucien’s own funeral. We needed him to comfort us in our loss — unconsciously waiting for him to tap us on our shoulders, to tell us that everything is okay.

Later, at 12:30PM, the family and the entire neighborhood will join in the funeral march. It will be different, not seeing him walking beside us, and leading the traffic along the way. But it is our turn now, and nothing will make us prouder than to be the ones to walk by his side to his final resting place.

Module Basics: Putting custom HTML content on the sideblocks

Note: This was written for Mambo 4.5.1a Stable

Mambo allows you to easily include custom HTML content on the sideblocks of your website. For example, if you want to put a donation button on the right column of your page.

The old way of doing this is by hard coding the custom HTML content on your template. This, however, would be a time-consuming process. Imagine if you just need to correct a misspelling, or if you simply want to temporarily hide this content from your users — you would need to edit and manually upload your new template every time.

Additionally, if you hard code this in your template, your custom HTML content will be displayed on all your pages. As a general rule, the only things that you should hard code in your template are the elements that you want to appear permanently on all your pages.

Mambo has a more efficient way to add custom HTML content through modules. In most templates, modules are the sideblocks (or sideboxes), usually located on the left and right columns of the website.

Modules can contain various things – text, HTML, or components such as menus, polls, newsflash, etc.

Modules can also be placed on various positions. Most templates use the left and right positions. As the name suggests, the left position are for modules you want to put on the left side of the website, and vice versa. (You can also create custom positions – header, footer, etc. I’ll try to cover that in a future article.)

The Project

Let’s say we want to put the text “Mabuhay! Welcome to my homepage!” in the left-hand portion of chette.com, right below the menu. And, we would want this text in boldface font.

The first step is to login to your administration page. This is located in /YourMambo/administrator/. Then, from the top menu, go to Modules > Site Modules.

This will bring you to your Site Modules page. You should now be able to see the list of the modules of your website.

We now need to create a new module. On the upper right hand side of the page, click on the New icon.

This will bring you to a form where you can enter the information about your module.

Let’s start with the Title. The title is how you would like to call and appear on your module.

For the purposes of this project, let’s use “My Module” as the title.

In Show title, we will be selecting Yes. (If we only want our HTML content to appear, without the title, then we would be selecting No.)

Now we will specify where we want to place our module. If you are not yet comfortable with modifying your template, it is safest to just use the left or right positions. Most templates use these positions.

For this project, we will be choosing the left position, because we want our module to appear on the left column.

Module Order determines the ordering of all the modules that were placed in that position. Remember: There can be more than one module for a position. In chette.com, there are actually two modules placed in the left position: (1) the menu and (2) the newsletter module. The newsletter is ordered lower than the menu, so it appears at the bottom.

For this project, we are going to select the first item (1::Main Menu), because we want it to appear below the Main Menu module.

In Access Level you can define who can see your module — all users (Public), or only users who are registered on your website (Registered). For this project, we will be selecting Public.

Published is a very useful feature. Selecting Yes means your module will be displayed (or “published”) on the website. If you select No, then this module will be hidden from all your users. This is useful if you need to temporarily hide or disable a module on your website.

For this project, we would be selecting Yes.

Content contains the meat of your module. This is where you put the content that you want to be displayed. You can put HTML code in the Content field, including image tags, forms, etc.

For this project, we would be entering the following HTML:

<strong>Mabuhay! Welcome to my homepage!</strong>

On the right hand side, you will see a tab labeled Location. Location is where you select the menu items that will display your module. (This is confusing to a lot of people because of the text Module Position. This is not the same as the module positions that was previously discussed in this article.).

For example, I previously created a menu item called Mambo Tips (which points to the Blog Content Category also called Mambo Tips). If I select Mambo Tips under Menu Item Links, then the module will only appear for anything that can be found in Mambo Tips, like if a user reads a Mambo Tip article. If I select None, then the module will not appear anywhere (similar effect when you set Published to No).

For this project, since we want the module to appear on all pages, we will select All.

We will not be using the Parameters tab for this project, but here’s an overview: The Parameters tab (beside the Location tab) lists some configurations related to RSS (when you syndicate news to other websites). At the bottom is a field called Module Class Suffix, which you can use to define custom CSS for this module.

Now we’re ready to save the project. On the upper right hand side of the page, click Save.

Our module will now appear exactly where we want it to be.

The 15-minute rule: Dancing with time

Although it is not something you would usually admit at a job interview (and if you do, I highly suggest you don’t), there is a procrastinator in all of us, most especially concerning tasks which we find boring or tedious. Thankfully, the 15-minute rule is here to rescue us from the hole. The “rule” is an effective way to minimize this procrastination, as it encourages you to do the most you can within a certain span of time.

In my job, I get more excited in the planning, tracking, and process-improvement aspects of project management. (Also in ordering people around, as my bitter half ruefully added. But that’s another story.)

Although in love with my work, there are parts of my standard job description which I don’t exactly look forward to:

  • Writing the weekly status reports
  • Reviewing and verifying change requests
  • Task reviews
  • Auditing the test cases and results

I would sometimes hold these off until the last minute (or until my boss starts taking a deep breath, whichever comes first). It drove me crazy — cramming gave me a lot of stress, and basically threw my sophisticated Outlook scheduling out the window.

It is by sheer luck (and a lot of procrastinated time on my hands) that I discovered FlyLady, who introduced me to the concepts of this rule.

The 15-minute rule: Shall we dance?

The 15-minute rule states that you should do a task within 15 minutes. After the allotted 15 minutes, you should stop working on that particular task. You may then proceed to another one for the next 15 minutes, or maybe even take a short break.

Sira ba tuktok mo? 15 minutes lang?” (Literal English translation: “Is your head destroyed? Only 15 minutes?” Hehe.). However, after trying it with seven other people in the team, I realized FlyLady isn’t as crazy as I thought:

  • There is a noticeable improvement in our productivity, and that’s saying something in a team which thrives on Spider Solitaire and Counter Strike. Our biggest problem was actually just getting started. However, with this rule, fifteen minutes just doesn’t seem like a big deal. That’s a lot less time as compared to our weekly Minesweeper Championships.
      
  • One of my colleagues is now a Time Management Evangelist, and boasts she can do anything in 15 minutes. She explained that the 15-minute deadline actually boosted her concentration, and gave her a surge of energy to work as fast as we could. (We always chide our boss it’s time to increase her workload.)
      
  • A guy in the QA department actually thought there was something wrong with his cellphone’s timer, because he keeps on finishing his test cases way before the alarm would go off

Right foot first, left foot next

Why don’t you try it?

Choose a task that you have been procrastinating on — writing that proposal, doing the laundry, wrapping a gift, or that pending status report.

Now, grab a timer (any timer with an alarm), and set it for 15 minutes. This is important, because the alarm is the big jolt telling you when to stop. We usually get carried away with one task, leaving no more room for more.

Now, do that task for only 15 minutes, and nothing more.

Notice the difference?

Now shake it

Here are some personal variations:

  • When I need to continue on the same task, I make sure that I alternate it with another one. Keeps me on my toes, and prevents burnouts.
      
  • When I’m feeling unnaturally lazy, I would do my revised “10-minute rule”, which is basically the same thing, except that I set the timer to 10 minutes instead of 15.
      
  • I noticed this rule is particularly useful in doing the Dreaded Client Routine Calls. Surprises of surprises, I discovered I only spend an average of 3 minutes per phone call — definitely something I should not have procrastinated on before.
      
  • Whenever I fall of the wagon and go back to my procrastinating ways (old dogs, new tricks, and all that crap), I would use a different timer for variety. Or sometimes I would ask a co-worker to use the same timer with me. Misery, and deadlines, love company

Let’s boogie

But don’t take my word for it: Browse thru the FlyLady website and read the inspiring anecdotes of how this rule actually helped people all over the globe. Now that you’re at it, might as well browse the other tips too, and with a little creativity, you will see how you can apply these tips to the workplace. (I especially love the article on zoning.)

Now let’s go crazy. Get that butt and timer rolling, and tell me how it works for you.

Changing the text “Send an Email to this Contact” in the contact form

Note: This was written for Mambo 4.5.1a Stable

By default, the contact form of Mambo will display the contact information, then the text “Send an Email to this Contact,” followed by the actual email form.

To change the text “Send an Email to this Contact:”

  1. Download the file /Mambo/language/english.php to your computer.
      
  2. Open the downloaded english.php file in your favorite text editor.
      
    Note: It is highly recommended to backup this file before making any modifications.
      
  3. Look for the line containing the following text:

    DEFINE('_EMAIL_DESCRIPTION','Send an Email to this Contact:');
  4. Change the text Send an Email to this Contact to your desired text. Make sure that you only modify the text between the quotation marks (‘ ’). Leave the rest of the code intact.
      
    For example:

    DEFINE('_EMAIL_DESCRIPTION','Hey! Email me now!');