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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Very Sad State of Manila Zoo (Mirror)

By Karen Ang

Editor's note: this is a mirror of the article by Karen Ang, which was published on ProPinoy.  I am publishing it here because our servers are overwhelmed with traffic. 
When I was in grade school, we used to have field trips at Manila Zoo ( The zoo was in a sad state back then but after reading my friend Nix de Pano’s blog post, I became upset at how neglected the zoo is now. I will repost photos and some excerpts here.
The Manila Zoo is a 5.5-hectare zoo located in Manila, Philippines. It opened on July 25th, 1959. This zoo is almost 50 years old. The problem? It really does look 50 years old. Another problem? It receives millions of visitors every year, local and foreign. What a shameful tourist destination it is.

Dirt-cheap entrance fees. Probably one of the reasons for the zoo’s poor maintenance. Sadly they have no right to charge more either, based from the condition of the zoo.
Map of the zoo. Looks small and simple enough. But “small” is one of the zoo’s biggest problems.
Old, rusty cages. Hardly any animal in sight.
This is Mali, the zoo’s biggest attraction. He is an Asian elephant that arrived at the zoo as an orphaned calf donated from Sri Lanka. He is the biggest attraction but what kind of an enclosure is that? It’s sad, small, tight and boring.
Yes there is a tiger in this photo. Yes those are dead leaves from who knows how many days or weeks. Why isn’t anyone cleaning up the mess?
An even worse mess–literal trash? What is wrong with this zoo’s maintenance?
You can almost see its bones. Sick and not in the cool way.
How could it possibly get worse than that?
How about this rabbit’s untreated wound?
Or this ostrich with a dead eye?
I also found some more stories from visitors. A visitor from the US went to the zoo because his wife said it would be a good experience. He was able to watch in horror as a zookeeper punished an alligator by stabbing its head with a nail attached to a stick. (source) Another visitor claimed to have spotted a Philippine Eagle lying down dead on the pathway. The same person said a Palawan bear cat suddenly dropped dead in his cage in front of their 7-year-old nephew. (source)
It seems that there are also issues with the people who visit the zoo. A reviewer who used to love the zoo visited again recently and complained about people throwing things at the animals. (source) Another reviewer reported a man who fed a bird to the crocodiles, but was only answered with “that is no longer our concern.” (source)
Some people even called it “The Worst Zoo I’ve Ever Visited”, and said “Needs to be closed.” Another suggested, “Do not support this zoo. Go to the Philippine Avilon Zoo instead!”.
Sad, isn’t it? Our capital’s namesake zoo, a complete and utter shame. This zoo was once a good one. But poor maintenance ruined and destroyed it. Because of this, animals are suffering. I’d say they would be better off elsewhere, because this zoo is no shelter.
Unless things change.
According to the PETA Asia Pacific website, there were reports of Thailand planning to send a new elephant to Manila Zoo at the request of Mayor Alfredo Lim. But fortunately for them, it was found that Thailand had no such plan.
PETA Asia has apparently been campaigning against the zoo for years now. They sent the Mayor many requests to visit the zoo and see for himself the suffering the animals had to endure. The requests were ignored.
How are things supposed to change when our officials ignore these calls for change?
I guess all we can do is keep trying. Spread awareness, and pray that somehow, something will happen for the good of the zoo.
In fact, the zoo is reportedly attempting to improve their facilities.
Let’s see how that will turn out.
Edit: PETA Asia-Pacific has a petition you can sign to Stop More Animals from Suffering at the Manila Zoo. See it here.
How many times have we heard that Manila Zoo is trying to improve their facilities yet nothing changes. In fact, it has become so deplorable and inhumane that I would rather see it closed for good and the animals transferred to another country with better zoos.
Who is answerable to this? The Manila Zoo authorities? The City of Manila? Or us because we allowed this to happen? Certainly it is not the animals’ fault but they are the ones suffering the consequences.
We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.  ~William Ralph Inge, Outspoken Essays, 1922

Friday, May 15, 2009

We're Moving!

Hey, glad you could find me here. I'm keeping this site running but it will no longer be updated. You can find new stuff from me on tumblr and twitter.

I'd like to thank you for reading all these years. It has been a blast! See you at the new place, all right?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Continuous End-to-End Missed Opportunity of Desktop Linux

A recent PC World post asked, if Desktop Linux has missed its opportunity. Oh, boy. Did it ever.

Understand that I've been using Linux more years than I've been using Macs, and I'm sold at how solid Linux is. I rely on Linux everyday to run my back-end stuff and my network. Apple fan boy that I am, know that this isn't any religious bias when I say, Desktop Linux sucks. Let me tell you why.

The kernel aspect of it--- the schedulers, the memory management they're all good as it is. This underlying technology can handle Desktop Linux no doubt.

For years, Desktop Linux--- Gnome or KDE has had the look and feel of Windows. And it sucked. Have you seen the standard Ubuntu color?

Linux for years has offered little to differentiate itself from the market. In fact, a few years ago, no decent distro would install mp3 support natively. None. nada. You'd have to hack it to get decent mp3 playback. And the slow support by Intel, NVidia, and ATI for their graphics cards have long been an issue too (which has changed considerably in the last two years or so)! Hell, Flash Player couldn't run properly on a 64-bit Linux machine up until quite recently. Then there is the eye-candy of Compiz and Fusion are only now being integrated into the whole shebang. With technologies like XMBC Media Center, and with projects like Gnome 3.0, things are getting better right?

When Red Hat ($RHT) walked away from the consumer market, it was a punch in the stomach for Desktop Linux. No one wanted to buy it. And for good reason, you can't even play games that your friends were playing on it. And like I said, you were still expected to hack most of the media stuff yourself. Yes there were games like Tux Racer, but haven't you been a kid before? People were using windows because they liked to play PC Games too. With their friends. Wine for all its power took too long to get to market.

It wasn't so much as a developer problem writing linux native windows drivers, because TransGaming has succeeded in that. Have you seen Cider? You can run spore today on Macs and Windows using cider technology, which is based on wine. Yes, it is imperfect for hard core gamers but the casual gamer wouldn't be arguing that much, right?

So the question is, why haven't Dell ($DELL) or HP ($HPQ) jumped into integrating Linux more into their machines? Think about it: an Ubuntu base, with a customized Dell User Interface and User Experience with properly licensed mp3, dvd playback technologies that can run native windows applications like Photoshop, Office suites, Chrome, Halo, Left4Dead, and Fallout 3, why hasn't anybody done it?

Is it because they'd have to answer to Microsoft's wrath?

All this world needs is one huge PC manufacturer that has the clout to integrate Transgaming technologies, an innovative User Interface and decent User Experience and a Linux foundation and you have not just serious competition to Windows, but Desktop Linux. The real deal.

How much did Apple ($APPL) spend to initially develop OS X? Surely, Dell or a similar company can do it. Surely, other material that are not open sourced can be licensed.

If you look at Apple's success even during this recession, it is a shout in the bow that PCs and, specifically Windows--- sucks. People are tired of viruses and trojans and reboots. And while Windows 7 addresses most of the issues of Vista, have you seen how it arranges Control Panel? Seriously, the damn thing is so complicated, it takes a rocket scientist just to decipher what it all means, much less to get it to work right.

The problem of Desktop Linux has been too many cooks. Desktop Linux suffers from the Windows mentality of mediocrity. There is no focus. It looks and feels like Frankenstein on top, when in fact under the hood, the kernel and the infrastructure around it is ready. Avahi technology on linux is like Apple's bonjour for instance and it works right out of the box.

The other truth is, the best unix desktop for the consumer right now is Apple's Mac OS X and boy, it could have been Linux. Still could really. No one just has the balls to try to do it right.

Don't get me wrong, the building blocks to making a true and ultimate desktop linux experience that challenges the status quo of Microsoft's dominance is here or getting here and like Lego bricks, someone just needs to put it all together and polish it. The continuous missed opportunity is that Linux distos are following the Microsoft formula of we're software only. No one dares enough to combine in one single polished product both the PC and Linux in an end-to-end solution and tell the customer, yes, we're responsible for all of it. In the words of Alan Kay, "people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware". It's also true isn't it that people who are serious about hardware should write software as awesome as their hardware.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Oracle and The Sun

This changes things. Australia and the rest of Asia woke up to this startling news that Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corp have tied the knot.

Sun Microsystems owns the company known as MySQL AB. It provided sponsorship and support for the free open source database called, MySQL which is used the world over from Wordpress blogs to flickr, facebook and enterprises. Oracle is a world leading database company. You can imagine that both are in competition and both are development philosophies are opposite.

Yep, Oracle's market share just shot up.

The beauty of this Open Source license under which MySQL is licensed is that it remains free. Oracle doesn't own it. It owns the proprietary stuff that is coupled with MySQL and it may very well halt support and sponsorship for the project--- but the code can live on in someone else's backyard or developers the world over who are not satisfied with this latest development can invoke their right to fork. Which somewhat has happened with MariaDB.

It isn't to say that on the database market there isn't any competition at all. PostgreSQL is right up there. IBM and Microsoft have their offerings too.

There are other more interesting things here too. Oracle just got themselves an Operating System. OpenSolaris coupled with ZFS or Oracle's Cluster File System--- hello shot in the bow, not just at Microsoft and IBM but Red Hat too! For years, Oracle has been trying to get their own operating system. And that's exactly what it is, as per how Larry Ellison, big fish over at Oracle was saying about the deal.

OpenSolaris with a former Debain Linux guy (Ian Murdock) running the show is certainly moving Solaris towards a more-linux like feel, with Gnome and userland tools familiar to Linux users. Coupled with ZFS and Oracle's software assets, most certainly this is a threat to Linux and Microsoft.

At the end of the day, Oracle's "stewardship" of the software assets that it has just acquired from Sun may determine if the 7.4 billion dollars it has spent for it is good money. There can be no denying that an IBM buy of Sun was the better deal for developers, and for customers but this move by Oracle does shake things. In a down market as we have right now, it will be most interesting how this plays out.

The other thing is... "owning" things these days isn't the same as owning the software. Certainly, IBM buying say, Red Hat wouldn't do much to "own" linux. More like throwing money at something they don't really need to. It would just solidify their commitment to that platform, think more public relations than any practical result. IBM also gets JBoss. And the chess game of mine is bigger than yours will ensure. Maybe we'll even see a new operating system war.

At the end of the day, the market just got interesting.