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Behind the screen: On humanity and its place in technology

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Underwater Photography: Rhinopias, Mariona, and Pygmy Seahorse

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Manila Bulletin’s MBLife

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SMART Netphone Pricing for Postpaid and Prepaid

Well here it is! The moment you’ve been waiting for — NETPHONE PRICING SCHEMES! The first Netphone will be available on both prepaid and postpaid plans. You can hop on to for all the details but to sum up everything:

This is the list of plans on postpaid. And here is the list of daily and monthly “bite sized” plans for data.

If you look closely, there is an obvious “sweet spot” in the pricing scheme under the “all-in” unlimited monthly data for PHP 999 a month as apart from unlimited IM and social stream usage (that’s SmartNet, Facebook and Twitter), you also get 3,500 SMS messages and 200 minutes of voice calls. Insane. I’d change my 8 year old plan if I could.

If you’ve all been curious as to what exactly the Netphone can do, there’s a guided tour on the Netphone site.

Netphone keeps a running balance of your load

“I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it.”
– Pointer Sisters

This photo pretty much sums up two key features about SmartNet. If you’re subscribed to Netphone services, (1) you’re always connected to SMART’s data network. The way they charge for this is very different from all their other data plans (volume based and time based). In this case, (2) you can see the current running balance if you’re on postpaid and your current remaining load balance if you’re on prepaid. By default, this solves a lot of customer support issues because you will always be aware of your usage. No more surprises.

HERE: For the past several hours I’ve been online with only PHP 1.00 of load. On Facebook. On Twitter. On SmartNet’s own global directory. On chat. And this is really one of the best ways to explain the synergy between the phone and the cost of services tied to it.

There’s no other service in this country that lets you keep a PHP 1.00 balance while letting you do all these great things on the Internet. The Netphone line from SMART will come with its own super-low pricing schemes for data. Abangan. September 1.

Netphone Begins: Unboxing the Netphone 701

UPDATE: Actual Netphone pricing for both prepaid and postpaid plans over here.

Dropped by SMART this afternoon to meet up with Louie. On the latest list of things to study would be the highly anticipated 701, the first of the Netphone smartphones. Exciting! Back in February, I was able to play with a pre-alpha release. This is the real thing and it comes in a nice box reminiscent of how I loved unboxing G.I. Joe toys as a kid. As I still need to charge the phone and get some much needed sleep here’s a little unboxing for you after the jump.

PC Gaming is Not Dead

This is an ad I found on the Internet. It was allegedly placed in the Wall Street Journal by Razer, the company that makes the best gaming mice in the industry. This is definitely one of the most debated topics in the world of gaming — the “death” of PC gaming. I really think it’s far from it, IMHO. But now, someone from the industry has decided to really speak up.

More than an “advocacy,” it also looks like a campaign for the Switchblade but it seems that the PC Gaming is Alive campaign may be something more than this.

Check it out:

Whatever it is, the entire campaign is intriguing.

Customize Android Notifications with Pops — Themes for your alerts

I think this video explains everything better than my 150 words.

First off, thanks to Billycoy for sharing this on Plurk.

I’m really happy how Android handles the drop down Notifications. In fact, it’s that (alongside how I can’t use just one button for a phone) that I am not using an iPhone. Anyway, since Google allows app developers more leeway to customizing the user experience with each handset,

Pops allows you to customize your Notification alert when the screen is idle. As of late, you can customize incoming SMS, GMail, Twitter and Facebook (from messages to friend requests to notifications). You can choose from dozens of themes and even create your own using your Android device’s camera. Best of all, it’s free!

And yes, Pops does have that psychological effect in adding some cheer to work-related emails or SMS from someone you really hate. =)

If you’re on the Android Marketplace, do a search for the complete title “Pops Themes For Your Alerts” or click on this to jump to the app page.

Samsung launches local unlimited Blu-ray and 3D movie rental service for customers

TL;DR: For the price of one Blu-ray disc a year, Samsung lets you rent unlimited Blu-ray titles delivered to your home.

UPDATE: Added screenshots of the web-based Blu-ray browser and a walkthrough of how to get your discs.

Wow. Apparently, Samsung sees the HDTV industry the same way most consumers do. Everyone is buying really nice televisions but nobody is watching Blu-ray movies because they’re just too damn expensive. So what Samsung did was create a Blu-ray rental service to cater to all their customers who bought one of their Blu-ray players or flat panel TV’s (with a Blu-ray package). If you bought one before August 15, sorry but you can’t avail of this service (FFFUUUUUUU!!!!).

The service is called Blupass and it isn’t for sale. It’s a value added Blu-ray and 3D disc rental service which you get after you purchase a player or TV-with-player bundle after August 15 2011. The service basically creates a community around Samsung’s cinephiles (which by the way is extremely brilliant) allowing them to rent from all 500++ titles available in the Philippines.

Pricing after the jump.

Bye webOS. We **barely** knew you. Also, too bad for Manny Pacquiao

EDIT: Since the annoucement, the HP TouchPad is now being sold at a happy USD $100.00. If you have a friend from the USA coming home to the PH, I suggest grabbing one!

If I were you, try to find someone with a mint webOS device. Then find a way to get Manny Pacquiao to sign it. Re-seal it and keep it in mothballs for the time when your toddler reaches manhood so he can sell it for lots of money.

Sad to see webOS go. But really, with the huge dominance of Android and iOS, there really seems to be no more space for a new app ecosystem to thrive. Looks like HP pulled the plug sooner than later.

There seems to be a huge curse put on this particular OS. For avid fans, this isn’t the first time the platform has been canned. In the beginning, Palm’s success led to the spawning of a quasi sister company / competitor called Handspring that was more focused on hardware attachment modules to Palm OS-licensed devices. Handspring was later on re-acquired. Then Palm had a bit of identity crisis, changing their name to palmOne and then back to Palm and then selling to HP to reincarnate as webOS. And then now HP doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. Oh well. Palm is the equivalent of the cursed Defense of the Dark Arts teaching position of the tech world.

Super cheap Samsung camera deals with free underwater housings starting at PHP 12,990.00


This promo isn’t out anywhere else. So this is the first time you’ll be hearing of this before it goes uber public. Many weeks ago I helped test out a potential underwater adventure bundle with Samsung and Microwarehouse leading the experiment. You can read about the entire experience here. Well, fast forward to yesterday, the product testing was a success and I’m really proud to have been part of the team that made this package what it is now.

What it is: the cheapest adventure bundle you will ever find in the market.

Question: Where else will you find a decent camera with waterproof housing up to 130 feet for only PHP 12,900.00?

Answer: NONE! Nowhere else! Only here!

There are a total of three models available:

Samsung PL210 – ultra zooming camera
Samsung SH100 – WiFi enabled camera
Samsung PL120 – 2 viewing screens (front and back)

These are all decent P&S cameras on land. Adding the Seashell case for underwater photos protects the camera up to 130 feet. It’s perfect for beach trips and SCUBA divers.

You can avail of this package from Splash UW Imaging in Greenhills or in Mobile1 at the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell.

Whatever you choose, these Samsung cameras have decent auto WB focusing underwater. If you don’t snorkel or visit the beach often, this package is still epic as the underwater case can be used as a ruggedized casing on land! Winner! The Seashell case is a trusted housing for most point and shoot cameras. Since it’s made to fit almost all models, some functions on specific cameras may be limited. At minimum you will be able to press the shutter button underwater (can’t change settings) which is all you really need IMHO. Spread the word! These cameras are perfect for barkada outings!

Important Note: I do not work for Samsung / Microwarehouse nor was I compensated to help with the testing. They paid for the SCUBA tanks and lunch though.

Dive Fair 2011 in R.O.X. — Now is the Perfect Time to get SCUBA into your Bucket List!

Always been curious about SCUBA diving? Already diving but can’t seem to find a good deal on gear? Well, you’re in luck kind sir (or ma’am) — ROX in partnership with Mares will be showcasing the world of SCUBA diving to the public for the next two weeks starting this weekend.

If you’ve always been curious about one of the world’s most fascinating hobbies (which by the way is EPIC in the Philippines), do drop by the Dive Fair 2011 from August 20 to September 4 2011 at R.O.X Bonifacio High Street.

On a more personal note, I’ll be doing a short talk on basic underwater videography on one of the fair dates thanks to Gigi Santos. Our underwater photo club will also be showcasing a gallery of underwater photos throughout R.O.X.

So there you have it! If you’ve been putting off SCUBA for the longest time, this moment is opportune. This is the most convenient place to ask all the questions you ever wanted about SCUBA Diving.

When you dive in Basura, you find the oddest things

Smile! I’m a hairy frogfish

Whenever SCUBA is marketed to the public, the point of entry is always how pretty everything is underwater. Go to any SCUBA marketing collateral and you’re guaranteed a photo of healthy coral reefs with schools of red anthias and other fish swimming in nonchalance. Don’t forget the diver in the pink wetsuit and huge yellow mask. I spent more than a year diving reefs, going to average depths of about 60 ft and deeper to catch glimpses of the “busy” underwater life.

After a while though, you start wanting other things. Even if they’re less beautiful and more bizarre.

NFC Demo with the Nokia C7 at the Jump Store in Megamall

SMART-PLDT opened the JUMP Store yesterday in MegaMall’s CyberZone. In spirit, it’s much like the Apple Store in the US allowing customers to really get their hands dirty with technology. As a Class-A geek, I was impressed with two things in particular: they had the never before launched HTC Evo 3D smartphone and an upgraded version of the Nokia C7 sporting NFC technology. This post will talk about NFC technology.
(more…) A Pinoy YouSendIt =)

UPDATE: Just found out who runs the site. It’s good to know that SendMoNowNa is actually being run by three good friends from the industry — Raffy and Sara of Globedez and l33t web designer Jec of Bayan who helped me out long ago with a podcast series. Good to know that the site is under trusted hands.

I use YouSendIt and Dropbox a lot for sending and sharing huge files. Good to know that there’s a local “version” of this file sharing service called Send Mo Now Na! I love it! Clean interface, Facebook login integration (FB login fixed!), free and paid plans, and a 30 day validity for files to share. It’s actually a decent replacement/complement to YouSendIt as the latter now limits file sizes and only stores links for 7 days. At least Send Mo Now Na stores it for 30!

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the paid plan and free plan is:

With a Premium Account you can download without any wait times and limits.
Your Premium SendMoNowNa account also allows you to upload to 5 files at the same time.
SendMoNowNa also becomes advertising free once you log-in.

Check it out!

Let’s Dive ASIA!

Diving in the Philippines is EPIC. But that doesn’t mean the SCUBA sites around Asia aren’t worth visiting. In fact, they’re fantastic. South East Asia is coral triangle territory so if I did have a bit more money I’d love to go on trips to the following places:

This Week is Shark Week. Here are photos I took diving with sharks.

This week is SHARK WEEK. We commemorate one whole week to the shepherds of the ocean. They keep the population of other fish in check, affect movement patterns of other fish and ensure that the groupers and other big reef fish do not explode in population and kill off reef life. Our lives are tied so closely to sharks, it is ironic we have created the biggest smear campaign against them.

I dive with sharks. Here are some photos I took of some of them. Some of these are 3 feet long. Others 6-10 ft long. There are a couple of sightings in Anilao and that’s a big deal. Diving Tubbataha, sharks are everywhere — in the hundreds. From the boat, you can see 80 ft down. They’re circling the chase boat welcoming you as you backroll into their domain. The most graceful are the thresher sharks that dive deep into the ocean and surface for food. Their whip-like tails stun their prey. The most peaceful are the whale sharks — the gentle giants, the labradors of the ocean with mouths that look like airconditioners sucking up all the plankton it can find.


When you’re with them, you can’t help but feel a deep respect for these ocean shepherds, and they feel very disconnected from what Hollywood and the media show us on television.

The best moment of my life (so far) was caught on video with a whale shark making eye contact with me.

A Tribute to Fabio

It really seemed like the contest was rigged for Old Spice Guy to pull a fast one over Fabio. Be that as it may, I congratulate Fabio for his amazing sportsmanship in the ‘Mano a Mano en El Bano’ contest. This post is a tribute to Fabio and in fact I was able to pull out an old video which I recorded together with Kate Alvarez back in 2007. The old video host was junked and I do realize that 3 years is a long time for digital and now we have everything on YouTube and Vimeo (funny too since I did mention Megavideo’s claim to fame to be “better than YouTube” — where are they now? HA!). So I have re-uploaded the video for all to see.

In this video Kate and I dissect the Italian male model as a template to romance novel covers. Enjoy me from 2007!

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