Ghost in the machine

I found the Sun.Star Cebu newsroom abuzz yesterday over a website that seemed to know a lot of details, even intimate ones, about people and things. When I entered the newsroom, I found reporters, editors, librarians, and newsroom assistants gathered around TV host Jude Bacalso, the paper’s lifestyle editor, who was entering questions and getting correct answers on the Peter Answers website. ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING. It’s in Have fun fooling your friends with the website. Click on photo to view larger image.

At first glance, it was freaky. How could the website know the names of a co-worker’s children, the pet peeve of an editor, what I was doing at the precise time the question was asked (holding out my cellphone), what was on a reporter’s head (a polka-dot headband), and what one reporter told another reporter about his mother-in-law?

I initially thought that Jude had a conspirator on hearing distance providing the answers but no one within the vicinity was typing when Jude entered the questions. It was also impossible for Jude to have pre-programmed the answers because the questions were thrown at him at random.

Jude, it turned out, was providing the answers himself right before our very eyes and none of us noticed it. In defense, though, Jude is a great actor and he did put up such a convincing show.

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Giving people Ubuntu envy

While preparing for my presentation to the staff of the Sun.Star website last week, I was a bit worried whether Ubuntu Feisty Fawn would detect and work with the office’s LCD projector.

I’m a stickler for backups. I finished my OpenOffice Impress presentation in the laptop and then converted it into a PowerPoint file. I then saved the file in my USB stick and phone’s memory card.

ubuntu presentation PRESENTING WITH UBUNTU. Demonstrating installation, maintenance, and upgrading of WordPress to Sun.Star website staff. Click on photo to enlarge.

My Ubuntu laptop runs an Apache, PHP, MySQL server for local web development and demonstration. I recreated an Apache server on my USB stick using UniformServer in case (dear God no!) I would be forced to use any of the Windows XP units of Sunnex, the department that runs the Sun.Star website.

Just in case I encountered problems, I did a web search for issues with Ubuntu and LCD projectors and then copied possible solutions for different problems. I assumed, correctly it turned out, I wouldn’t be able to access the Internet in the remote Camotes Island resort we were billeted in.

Come presentation time, I was crossing my fingers when I plugged the LCD projector cable into my laptop. I need not have worried. It worked flawlessly.

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