MarkLisao.com - The Online Blog

"Actions speaks louders thans words". This is my everyday journey in Arabo Land - updated almost everyday 7 times a week. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Fast Design Conclusion

I finished 2 print ads today with 3 designs and I guess that's the fastest I've done since I've been working. Normally it goes like 2 to 3 printed materials in 4 days or more than a week. Now I know one good technique on designing which has been my problem the past few days that's why writing this journal has been delayed. A good initial procedure on designing is gathering first all resources relevant to the project, planning then follows. Since text content is the "meat" of a printed project, these things should be positioned first on the main layout and all other graphic enhancements shall conform and be developed upon the placement of text. I call it "content-centric" technique. The core of every design is always the message it should deliver and all elements involved in an artwork shall support this message. All the rest lies on good looking presentation which varies according to the designer's technique. All these are arbitrary if you don't have a fixed goal in approaching this method of creating artwork but all the time, strong emotional outpour or a good inspiration yields stunning visual presentations. This is my say on designing graphics. My approach might be partly wrong but I managed to solve this ordeal through this well-thought conclusion.

I'm glad today google has traced all linkages associated with my name. I've tried searching on it with the key words: "Mark Lisao" and "Mark Dubai"
and it's very fast to spit out results all relevant to my query. Google is my sisig on the internet. This search engine excels highly against its copycats but it's the only one that sizzles.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Barney The Coder

I had this overtime at office today. I should have been staying home and enjoying watching dvd together with my friends here at home. I'm quite glad I'm staying with Mr. Gerry's family and after almost two months of staying in his home here in Satwa, I never felt indifferent because everyone is treating me like I'm part of the family. It's really heart-warming when someone else calls you his nephew in front of his friends even though youré not. That's geniune goodwill. My new friends here are girls. Actually they're Gerry's daughters, one is 10 years old and the other I guess 6. They treat me like their elder brother and it's nice to have new sisters younger than me and when I come home in the evening it's nice to mingle with these cool kids. Sometimes when I'm writing these posts they are playing at my bed and would ask me what I'm writing. I would then reply it's my homework. They ask too many questions and a good explanation comes always handy for these young people. Wherever I go, it seems that young people tend to get close to me and I'm also comfortable with that. If I weren't a web developer, I should have been barney or sesame street and I would greatly excel on that.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Design Conflict

Cross browser scripting with css is really a headache. I am to update this blogger's template but the final one I made in Internet Explorer is a mess when viewed in Mozilla ForeFox. I guess I have to review some more site examples utilizing css. The bad thing about scripting in css is that you have to consider every browser's capability in handling it and sometimes some problems I've encountered are not reasonable enough to yield errors given you've wrote well-structured code.

Office work is drowning me today because I'm always stuck with one project that lacks resources. It's pretty hard to attain quick output especially when the job demands too much creative work. Sometimes I don't understand why it would take such a long time to finish a project which makes me feel that I'm getting old? I think the problem is when I almost finish a job I don't get satisfied and I'll redo it over and over again. It's like today I like my design and tommorrow it needs revision and so on and so forth until I start again from scratch. I really don't agree with the idea concerning tackling projects as my fellow Iranian oworker told me before that quantity is better than quality.

I came across this great saying: " The idea is the machine that makes the art." Nice thought. On my 2 years of design work beginning from the Philippines, there are only two classifications of graphic designers I may consider. One is the subjective or the technical designer and the other is the creative designer. Most studies mention that creative thoughts are made up by the right brain and it's really hard to come up with artwork if you are subjective enough and I'm quite sure the output is terribly awful. Most programmers I know have crappy websites since they really have no taste for design. In my job, I always come across with this problem that's why I'm writing this so that my boss may understand upon reading this post. I say that I'm in the midst of being technical and creative. This issue occupies my mind occasionally because I push really myself very hard when it concerns work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Purple Effect

I really can't design today and I have been working on a single project that I really really can't make up my mind because I feel incapacitated when I work on color purple. My boss likes purple and I also love purple but with a decreases percentage on the Magenta so it will be blue. It's a small deal but I had this problem for months now since most of the printed projects we've made are in purple! I hope someone will email me on how to solve this problem.

Right now I'm working in my room and I miss my family and girlfriend. My laptop is getting hot underneath and I have to wait till 11+ to have my companion get back from office and bring me shawarma. What I really like in this accomodation of mine are the phrases like: "Mark kain na!", "Kumain ka na ba Mark?", "Mark dito ka umupo, kain na tayo", "Mark, bakit hindi mo kinain to'ng salad", "Nagustuhan mo ba baon mo, Mark, Kinain mo ba lahat?", "Mark hati tayo dito". I've tried horse shampoo for two days now I can see that my hair is stiff like horsey. It should not be the effect but I like it. Filipinos here at office and at home are asking me about that horsey shampoo and I don't know why they are so into it. That's what good about Filipinos from the lacto-drink to the coconut oil and now horsey shampoo, we are so herbal. I have one good suggestion and this might be the next in-thing. They say that the Indians put cobra oil on their head and wouldn't wash it for days so it would look greasy and shiny. I haven't tried it becuase it's like putting shit on top of your head and my boss won't let me work again. But they say it's effective.

To Cocoy Pana - salamat sa email. I am so touched!

Why Dubai?

I was thinking lately why I got here in Dubai. Movies and news documentaries intesify so much lives of OFWs which primarily alienates people back home from the real life back here. In my opinion, it seems that the media focuses too much on the hardships of my Filipino 'expats' to sell some story that's why the perception of working in the Middle East isn't that rewarding and luxurious compared to the United States or the European countries. Actually that's the truth but here are some major reasons why I'm here in U.A.E. :

1. UAE is an open city wherein rules governing VISAs isn't that hard to attain unlike the United States

2. There is a consistent demand in IT Professionals since Tech companies are sprouting in a rapid rate and Multinational ones are rooting their headquarters in the Free-Zone area where I work. Obviously it's a strategic location for companies like Microsoft, AMD, Oracle, Sun, CNN, Reuters and etc. since they won't have to shell out millions on tax and it's 100% ownership.

3. And yes I don't pay tax too.

4. I have relatives to back me up.

5. Cost of living is relatively cheap- bringing home 4 bagfull at least and sometimes excessive food supplies for a month at the cost of 1/12 of your salary can justify it. You might also consider gluttony. Food here is no problem but as to accomodation if you ain't clever nor resourceful, you'll probably end up sharing a room with 3 to 6 companions. Lucky for me I share with only one friend and I don't cook nor wash and iron my clothes since I pay for it. That's the the life!

5. I love diversity. Dealing with caucasians, arabs, hispanics, and scumbags is quite a learning experience. It really makes me proud to be a Filipino here in Dubai because in here my opinions are respected and materialized. Filipinos here have earned a good reputation in the field of I.T since magaling ang pinoy maghanap ng lusot sa anumang gusot unlike the others, they die trying. That's the truth and everytime I feel offended when others put me down because of my race I get so furious in the inside and I feel like sticking a knife into someone's throat. I've been into that and I really argue as if I won't be kicked out of the country and I don't care because no shithead will put a Filipino down since they don't have the credibility.

6. Being here makes a home buddy like me more rigid and battle ready. On a place where the culture isn't relevant to your own and the people have diverse customs and attitude you'll really feel like an unwanted house cat thrown away from a sack into a far place you'll surely won't get back. It's really like that and I'm not exaggerating and I've heard a lot of Filipinos returning home because they miss their family and stuff like that.


Making hard decisions coming from your own and being willing to stand for it is really worth it. I have been into much trouble but winning is a really hard fight to struggle. And to the person who insult my Filipino Food ngekngek mo! My baon is Karekare and Beef steak at least 6 times a month and you call that inedible. It's nothing compared to your hemorrhoidal food. Adios!


Monday, October 18, 2004

The Arabian Job

This is the usual day for me- designing web and print ads for some companies and today, my manager listed all the tasks me and my fellow worker Jeff have to accomplish during the week. Print ads are the majority of our tasks today and I know we will both have a hard time to materialize these things because of the limited resources given to us. The problem with these clients is that they don't make up their minds early and we really don't know what we have to produce. They don't give any materials about their company and you have to invent their damn company profile and stuff like that. Language barrier is really a pressure on this case.

Above is the picture of a desperate employee looking for resources for his project.I have to look for references on designs of existing materials I've got from GITEX(see Oct. 5 entry). It's pretty hard to work from scratch but if you've got the right resource and adios! you'll hit straight bull's eye. The only thing rewarding on this kind of job where client's visual preference is always a crucial factor are the compliments you get from them since these people totally rely on your creative talent and these are not just the ordinary companies but rather the BIG ones. A few months back I've designed artworks for Iran's International Airport's indoor and outdoor trivisions and digital displays and also as well graphics for Tehran's public transport system. My boss is pretty good in getting these contracts since they looooooohve the Iran government. As far I can remember, when I was still 3 feet my mother commented about my drawings which look worse than chicken scratch and it was really depressing since it was the only talent I had and besides that I'm not athletic like the others. But I knew that my car drawing with square wheels will take me somewhere else. Thanks to Khan2x Isturis for inspiring me to draw when we were still on the 5th grade. He's like the Michael Jackson of Basketball!#$%???

I trust Mr. Einstein's words and I say it works pretty well. It's something like this : "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

CSS - Cascading Style Sh_t!

I just spent the whole day today creating a new template for this blogger/webpage or whatever. I'm utilizing css (cascading stylesheets) for my site layout. Anyway, css are scripts you employ on webpages wherein you can specify style definitions of a site to display text and images with total control and improved visual enhancements supported by most browsers(*this is my term). CSS is very extensible and when coupled with XML they make a powerful tandem in syndicating web content from rss feeds. In short, what I mentioned above are like accessories for your website to make you and
your site visitors happy boys and girls. I hope people can appreciate the importance of CSS since all sites like your Yahoo! or Hotmail email providers use it. It's not just CSS but a lot of scripts like Javascript, VBScript, C#, JSP, PHP, SQL, XML, DHTML, PERL, Python, Java and many more that attribute to most of the sites on the Internet today. It's like employing at least two of these scripts (including HTML) on a dynamc site. Now I use five of these in making sites excluding design softwares which I usually work most of the time. A tip for aspiring designers: 'On designing websites: Anything in excess is garbage!'.


Friday, October 15, 2004

Family Matter




Today I went to my Tita's home in Deira to visit them and also as well meet my another tita from Davao, whom of course is the wife of my uncle John. I quite find my cousin Mitchell unusual today since she now 'mingles' with me because in the past few months she was like an untamed kitty whom you cannot even hug and play with. Her pic is posted above. Anyway, I'm glad I got now 3 polo shirts sent by my daddy and mommy. The color was quite analogous and guess what it's orange. Here in Dubai the Arabo people love orange. They like it too much that their websites, buildings and offices are orange. Now I can blend.

All of my titas and titos went to bowling today since we haven't got anywhere to go since it's Ramadan. There's no food and drinks served in shops which are closed the whole day. When I got home, I reorganized my closet which before looks like a safari and now it still looks the same except now I know where to pull out my underwear. I'm glad there's no overtime work for tommorow since the boss is out of the country and next week I guess the boss will be out again in Vienna. Yeah, next week, in the afternoon me and my officemates will be enjoying total relaxation under the sun for 45 mins. along the fountain under the palm trees after lunch without further interruption. People start to mingle with my fellows including non Pinoys since we Filipinos are damn good clowns and it's quite ironical these people some kind of look up on us-"just a little". I guess non-Filipino humour is not good kabab. =)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bad Sleep

My whole day was spent nursing this bad bodyache because I had this terrible sleep last night. This is strike 2 this month. I had insomnia again. My roommate is so amazed with me since I act more alert than a security guard at night. Having insomnia makes me very restless and my mind is so somewhat preoccupied with unnecessary things I don't intetionally think. It's just like that and I guess having this illness would't take overnight to just perish. But statistics are quite good since I have lesser sleepless nights in this accomodation of mine. Someone told me chamomile tea and melatonin would do the job.

The temperature is dropping down a bit here in Dubai and the fog is great in Sheik Zayed road. Ramadan is about to start too. They say that it's bad to eat and drink in public.Good thing my officemate reminded me since I eat shawarma while on a long walk going back to my flat. Here in Dubai I learned to eat green chili and pickles bundled along with a good shawarma. It has become my favorite. Our secretary says that when it comes to food I always compete with Indians because I barely eat anything. Dubai is also home of the most dangerous foods in the world since if you don't know what your'e eating you'll probably end up in hospital vomiting and getting sick. There's too much spice in here. I don't understand why majority of Filipinos here can't stand Indian and Persian food. They say it's very spicy, sour and smoking hot but I like it. In my office I have this good buddy giving me sour plumes, kiwi fruit, salad, odd looking fruits, Indian crackers and anything nice to eat and because of that I give a favor in return by teaching Photoshop. Teaching people can also be good since you get free food and that's they call free trade.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Out Of My Line

It's good to relate with people in line with your field sometimes since you have this chance to exchange ideas and look up on far how they went and achieved in life. Actually I haven't fully pursued my line of study which is Industrial Engineering since I can't ignore my passion and skills on computers. It's nice to hear from your colleagues that you share the same mindset on which I only thought I was the only one different from the pack. Right now, my batchmates are successful in their fields and I guess they have taken IE so seriously. We've grown up so fast and as far I can remember we were just solving problems in calculus and mechanics back in college and now everyone's so indulged into their career or raising their families. And why did I had this different mindset after finishing college? - I guess it's because I'm not quite contented with my degree and I wanted to pursue Information Technology studies. I just wanted to create real world internet applications which was quite uncommon in my province in Davao where you could rarely find this kind of job. Good thing my parents supported me on my interest since my father was always been an open minded person and wanted to send me abroad where I can flourish. The fact that I had reasonable and supportive parents makes me one of the happiest web developer on earth.I give a Yipee! on that.

I think everyone's unique and if you perceive yourself as unconventional and nonconformist that would make you special. In case youré blessed with this brilliant mind and superior talent then youré super super special. Overachievers are special too with egg but if you've got the will and talent then you'd probably be a six figgy yuppie sipping brewed coffee. A mind is a terrible thing to waste so I try to learn as I can.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I Rule

Four essentials to survive abroad:

1. Always think to gain advantage and believe in yourself.
2. Never get sick.
3. Don't let others put you down.
4. Pray and save.

Most of the time you have to use your common sense and logic to get want you want like finding a job since everyone is flocking on this place to find a living. Everyone else is competitive and aggressive but a Filipino equipped only with wits and cleverness is most likely to survive except if you lose your will. What I really dislike about this place is that stupid aspirants are trying so hard making more assholes of themselves. These 'aspirants' get the job because of their arrogance on their unproven skills and yet when it comes to actual performance they tend to be very lazy, mediocre and "sipsip" and what's really shitty is that they depend on you and sometimes steal your work. Yeah, and they get the big booty- High Salary. Poor Filipino. It's like that, I always keep resilient and observe maximum tolerance but when I fight back I really fight back more punishing than the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Sometimes others may see me here as kind but never relate kindness with weakness and that's a very big mistake. Behind my back is always an iron fist ready to kick ass.

And one thing, drink milk because it's good for your body because a day of absence in work costs a lot.


Monday, October 11, 2004

En Route To Office




Follow my route to the office. I have posted pics I've captured on my way to the office. The people back home requested me to send them pictures what it is like here in Dubai like what my room looks like, the everyday people whom I deal with, my office and anything Dubai. Right now I live in Satwa, a section in Dubai much closer to Internet and Media City where I work. It's quite acccessible in this area but what I really don't like most are scumbags(*email me about what these people are=)) languishing around the place. The place where I work is like a small functional city in Dubai's Free Zone where Microsoft, HP, Sun Microsystems, etc. headquarters stand. It is the only place in Dubai where companies are 100% owned by foreigners without local partnership and also 100% tax free. The link is here. All images are arranged in sequential order.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Flash Versus Content

I'm quite preoccupied with work again today. I was aiming to practice more on macromedia flash but I have'nt touched it yest since I was designing this LG trivision™ for Iran. It's quite a disadvantage not to acquire 'professional level skills' on flash since its needed as part of a web developer's 'profitability' most especially here in the middle east where clients value more importance on graphics rather than website content. Here in Dubai, flashy websites do always sell sometimes compromising the site's overall aesthetics and most of all content. I don't quite like this idea since I'm a coder and I love ASP by heart on which I have laid some time to master. Web programming is nice and ends up to only a single result which can be accomplished with different kinds of approach unquestionable by client tastes and preferences and its not a matter whether the site's either purple or orange nor it has flying text with alpha transition. I'm teaching my roommate Jonathan some Photoshop basics and tricks and he learns quite fast. I might me a good teacher, I guess.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Pantry

Today, I had this great lunch with my officemates and a fellow employee on the other office. We have this small pantry in the corner of our office about 4-6 square meters and just imagine fitting in 7 people in it trying to eat. This was a feast for me since we had Filipino and Indian food on the table and 3 races having lunch. One good thing that bonds us here in my place is our commaraderie. Everyone treats each other as if we are of the same race and I guess it's only in our office. It's quite an advantage being one of the clowns because you gain more and more friends

Getting home expecting something is quite unusual for me since I'm quite enthusiastic in using my new laptop. For years I have been dreaming to have this device but since I cannot afford then I have just to envy others of their nice shiny mobile machines. It's quite gratifying to have such thing you really deserve for and spent countless days to earn it. I guess I have to work harder for the much more bigger expense on which I myself only know.

Same Same





As the people here say it - "same-same" which means "the same" or repeating. My blog for today goes something like this.

I'm quite tired of work today and it seems that the everyday mundane tasks now starts to bore me. I mean everyday - I come to office by chartered bus, pass by Sheik Zayed road and by the way, I've never seen so much fog in my life, walk by the long hallway in coming to my office, read the newspaper, read emails and so on.. If I were in Davao right now, the same thing happens also. It seems things in life comes always consistent to me and even the slightest change in my routine counts so much.

Anyway, I'm looking for a free wi-fi hotspot here around the city. I don't wanna spend a couple of bucks for coffee since I have this trouble sleping at night. I've seen these white guys with internet on their nice mobile machines so not I try.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

GITEX, World Trade Center, Dubai

Today is GITEX day at the world trade center Dubai, the major IT convention in the middle east. And guess what Reza my friend is taking us there for the whole day all company expense. I have made a photo album just for this event in Yahoo so its worth checking it out - photos.yahoo.com/marklph003. It's my first time to participate in this kind of grandeus event and I am so stunned of the technology here in the Middle East compared to my country. As expected the industry giants Oracle, Microsoft, Sun and etc. have their kick-ass stands worth checking out but what stunned me much is Apple's corner where I had the chance to feel the Apple G5- the most sophisticated computing machine I have ever seen.

I'm quite glad I was there because it has been my life long dream to be in this kind of event where I have this chance to meet different kinds of people of different backgrounds of different nationalities. Just imagine yourself surrounded by intimidating executive caucasians and businessmen and also as well as hardcore computer enthusiasts hanging around at wi-fi hotspots and industry leaders promoting flaghsip products of their multinational companies just like in the movies=)

I kind of treated myself today so I bought a laptop at the airport expo. The price really hurts but its worth it. It's an HP DV1000. I overshot my budget today. Thats' me - I'm so thrift at everything but when I spend I really spend.

4 Lbs. Not Obvious



After 4 months of UAE here I am gaining 4 more pounds. Do I look fat?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

New People Coming In

I havent's slept the whole night because of this fever I had since yesterday. My room mate had it also but I'm sure he started it. Good news for today since our newly hired marketing staff have reported to office. One is Filipino and the other Iranian. Now the office is much more livelier. As of today there are three Iranians including our manager, 4 Filipinos and two Indians. In the production department, each of us are good clowns and this makes me look after each day of work aside from my woderful job as a web developer. I thank God for putting me in this good disposition.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Usual Payday Result

Everything seems fine today except it was too hot in the morning. I woke up on time and went to Church and paid my monthly payment for my flat since it was payday. As usual I did some groceries today and bought some milk and my favorite Yougourt. The afternoon was quite a bore and I only watched a dvd movie and slept a little. I guess I needed a little stretch but since I left the Philippines I never did some exercise. I was an avid jogger back then months ago and I jog with my friend and we would jog through this great golf course near our place.

Life is quite mundane here in Dubai most especially when your goal is to save money for your future. Some things are quite similar here in the Philippines - warm and friendly Filipinos, the food, the weather. Everythings great!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Roaming Around City Centre

I went today with my officemates at Deira City Center and we ate lunch and enjoyed much of the time observing people of different nationalities bearing different lifestyles and with unique appearances. After a few minutes of strolling, we went for a little grocery. I'm glad we had such good time together since it's the first time we went out in months of confinement in the office and what's nice is that I'm going along with whom I consider my good friends in Dubai not only in the office but also as well as outside work. I guess the most constant thing among a pack is being comfortable with each other and setting aside each individual differences.