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Pocketful of Kids in Ortigas opens October 25

I took time off to come to a sneak preview of a new toy store that’s away from the crowd. For one, it’s located at the 15th floor of Strata 2000 Building in Emerald Ave (that’s almost across MMPI). When you walk into the store, you’re greeted with toys you’ve never seen in any Rustan’s or Toy Kingdom outlet. They’ve got hand puppets, blocks, wire mazes, organics and yeah among other bizarre things you’d find only in Oz, a talking tree and a talking cash register. The store is everything you’ve probably dreamed of when we were kids, and it serves as a haven for children and their adult companions to be within the privacy of their own little world. There are no “violent” toys at Pocketful of Kids.

it’s really touching to see how a vision like this can turn to reality. The store was founded by Natalie Tanchip and just like other off the beaten track places like Elbert’s Steak Room, a store such as this defies all the laws of marketing which we’ve all come to accept – and the first one is location. Who would have thought?

If you’re still undecided as to what to get your friends and family members this Christmas, I urge you to visit Pocketful of Kids as they have really great stuff you won’t find elsewhere: they are the exclusive distributors of Alex, Tatiri, Learning Resources, Melissa and Doug, among many others. On my first visit, I already bought my Christmas gift for Ananya! And get this – they also do gift wrapping and deliveries. I had mine delivered since the package was pretty huge.

Here’s a complete listing of the items they have for sale and the exclusive brands that they carry. You can view more photos here.

Pocketful of Kids
Pocketful of Kids is the very first interactive toy village in the country that carries popular American and European toy brands that encourage children to wonder, discover and learn through play. For more information, please visit 15/F Strata 2000, Emerald Avenue, Ortigas or call (02) 634-7888 or (02) 634-2888.

IMOVIO iKIT challenges netbooks, makes a “smartphone”

So what do you think? Wrote about this earlier today:

This is what happens when you challenge the netbook line and come up with something much smaller – you end up with well, a smartphone that can’t make calls. I actually don’t know what to call it. I also don’t know if this will really replace anything that you already have. It’s not a cellphone because you can’t make calls, but you can surf via WiFi and 3G through your cellphone. It’s not something you can really show to present to clients. So what is it, really? What’s the value proposition of this $175.00 device? It sure is cool to have, but it lurks too much into the realm of the mobile phone to be 100% efficient.

Well, it does make calls, but you need to connect it to a mobile phone to do data. More of like, a modem of sorts. We’re back to the Palm Pilot ladies and gents.

Plurkfiesta at Bona Coffee

Met up with good friends Peter and Jen (Peter took this photo, which I’m grabbing), old friend JM (@Shrubber) from the PhilMUG days and his lovely wife Beverly. Not in the photo is Eugene who was all ninja’ed up outside, we didn’t even know he was there till he told me on Plurk.

Highlight topic for the night was conversation with JM on how online forums have a certain lifespan for quality content from a great community before they’re overrun with just anybody. I think being “elitist” (a word that needs to be further defined, but you prolly know what I mean) isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a number of cases.

Sorry you couldn’t make it, Manolo.

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Proven: Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion

There are some shocking studies that you’ve always held to be true at the back of your mind, but were afraid to express because you’d be accused of generalizing things. Well, as it is, a new study shows that not everyone is entitled to an opinion.

“On topics from evolution to the environment to gay marriage to immigration reform, we found that many of the opinions expressed were so off-base and ill-informed that they actually hurt society by being voiced,” said chief researcher Professor Mark Fultz, who based the findings on hundreds of telephone, office, and dinner-party conversations compiled over a three-year period. “While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don’t have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them.”

Well, that’s Fultz’s opinion anyhoo, and he probably counts as one of the 62% whose opinion counts. Does it mean anything as well if my source is taken from The Onion? The study shows that 38% of people in the US have opinions “that actually don’t matter.”

I wonder how much can be quantified locally with people talking about things they seem to not have a full grasp on? When we write, do we write with authority?

There are no innuendos to my posting this – it’s just something worth looking into. But then again, that’s just my opinion 🙂

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New industry magazine buzzing next month

The most interesting ones are the industry magazines, because that’s where all the behind the scenes stuff’s at. So Geoff and Tiff invited a few of us (Internet community + college marketing orgs) to a contributor’s night meet and greet for a new industry magazine (photos here and here). You’ve probably seen it on Plurk and a few blogs – Hive Pub Magazine. In my initial chat with Geoff I asked if this was similar to Adobo Magazine, the official industry mag for the local advertising, PR and below the line industry, and I was right on the dot.

They’d be doing an initial print run of 10k copies, and the magazine will not be for sale. Geoff told me that Inkwell will be printing the glossy, which is cool as well (they used to print my high school paper as well as internal magazines for UA&P).

This is long been waiting to happen. I remember about a year ago another publishing company wanted to do a magazine on the blogosphere, but it never pushed through. You might think it ironic that Hive is taking something that was born online, bringing it offline – and that maybe it might not work. I think this is a good move, as the target market isn’t really the online space, because we’d just be preaching to the choir. I think the vision (Geoff, let’s do an interview) is a reach outward to combine the talents of the blogging, SEO and the “new media” community with the capacities of the local ad industry. That alone is formidable.

Issue one is out this November 2008.

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This Week in Philippine Spam

Have you been receiving a lot of spam lately in your comments? A certain “Keren Pascual” (not confirmed to be the real one, obviously) has been spamming comments in ALL of my blogs using the URLs of the Philippine Star and reposting articles from the lifestyle sections of our top broadsheets. Not only is that spam, it also might have copyright issues because everything sources back to the Star’s website despite some articles belonging to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

I’ve also been receiving comment invites to the Consumer Expo 2008 by T3 Magazine and Summit. I have nothing against them (I know Vince and Ed personally) but I really think they should take a second look at whoever they hired to do the event’s Internet marketing. I know it’s not just in my blog – I saw the same invite in other bloggers’ comments section.

That’s what my email contact form is for — these sort of invites. Please, Internet marketer, don’t spam the comments section and give T3 a bad reputation. If they had emailed me, I’d have written about it anyway. It isn’t tasteful when it comes spammed several times into your comments section, especially for such a kick ass event!

Remembering Grim Fandango

Grim Fandango. Manny Calavera. The Companeros theme song. I’ve been on a retro stint lately, and recently downloaded Grim Fandango (1.1GB) and can finally run it on a decent computer (the last time I ran this, I had a Pentium MMX)! For those of you who’ve played it, you’ll definitely agree with me that this is one of the best adventure games ever made alongside hits like Monkey Island, Quest for Glory, Maniac Mansion and … Zak McKraken.

What was sad was this Lucasarts production only sold about 95,000 units in its peak in 1998. The main culprit was the shift to more action oriented games (first person shooters) such as the original Half Life by Sierra / Valve. This really killed the role playing adventure genre and the last that I’ve seen that remains of this is The Longest Journey series.

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty as the First MDG

As a development studies guy, the campaign to end poverty is a tangible one. Not too many people know about the eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015. First on the list is Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger.

There are three targets:

Target 1:
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day

* Higher food prices may push 100 million people deeper into poverty
* Conflict leaves many displaced and impoverished

Target 2:
Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

* Full employment remains a distant possibility
* Low-paying jobs leave one in five developing country workers mired in poverty
* Half the world’s workforce toil in unstable, insecure jobs

Target 3:
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

(This is where I stopped and looked at my post and said to myself, who am I kidding?)

Honestly I don’t feel very comfortable talking about physical poverty. I oftentimes think I can relate, or even empathize with how they really feel. But the sad truth is that I will never know and saying “I know how you feel” or “THIS is what we should do to help them” is an exercise of many assumptions.

I don’t believe in those one shot medical missions, nor do I believe in “PR-driven” outreach programs. Because at the end of the day, the ones who “feel good” aren’t the poor.

Remembering Day of the Tentacle

That video above is a 20 minute speed run of one of the most boggling adventure games I’ve played.

The main reason Day of the Tentacle sets itself apart so greatly despite sharing a handful of elements with its predecessor is the fact that it draws from completely different inspirations. With Maniac Mansion, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick sought to tribute the horror/scifi B-movie genre. With Day of the Tentacle, that influence was replaced by the work of Chuck Jones. If Maniac Mansion is like playing through a cheesy horror movie, Day of the Tentacle is like playing through a Saturday morning cartoon, and everything from the brand of humor to the puzzle design reflects this. Knowledge of the previous game is not assumed, and there’s definitely a “reboot” feel to the whole project – this game is in a completely different spirit than the original, sporting a new style and tone. Not that this change was an unwelcome one. In fact, that Day of the Tentacle is very much Maniac Mansion’s equal in terms of quality is probably the mildest praise one will see bestowed on the game, which tends to be considered among the best ever produced.

If you’re old enough to remember Laverne, Hoagy and Bernard from Maniac Mansion 2 or Day of the Tentacle, you’ll really appreciate this 20 minute speed run. I was banging my head just trying to figure this game out back in 1993. These were the days when nobody heard of game FAQS. I remember wasting hours on the phone with friends as we cracked our heads to figure Day of the Tentacle 2 out. In retrospect, here is a great article that talked about one of the best adventure / puzzle games ever made.

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Thoughts at 2300 HRS

I rarely ramble, but here are a few things that have been on my mind lately.

1. We need more valuable and diverse local web property. All I see are blogs, forums and micro sites. It would be nice to venture into original and useful properties to build value. But then again, it might be the culture as well.

2. I think it’s silly that a number of bloggers bear some sense of enmity with journalists in general. It’s not about what medium you write in, it’s who you are that makes you. Just because it’s “new media” doesn’t make journalism “old media.” A little respect would go a long way. We’re all more closely intertwined than you think. So are bloggers better..? Again, it’s about what you do. Can’t we just quit it and learn from each other?

3. I think know that IPTV or Internet television is going to make bigger waves in 2009. Smaller area for penetration, higher quality control for content. And the ironic thing is that it won’t be snowballed by television networks.

4. I have another big hunch that we’ll be seeing less of “Make Money Online” in 2009 and more of “Make Meaning Online.”

5. Arise, local venture capitalist to fund new media projects!

Audible Recommendations: Predictably Irrational, Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, Batman

The alternate title of this post is “The British Pop Culture Invasion.” 🙂

Ah, to make up for the lack of recommendations for the past few weeks, here are three books I downloaded with my subscription from Audible. The first is a Diggnation recommendation from Kevin Rose titled Predictably Irrational. I got this version as it was cheaper on audio than it was on the shelf (Phoebe bought the tome version), and it’s narrated by this British guy with a strong James Bond accent. Winner.

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn’t possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?

(more…)

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The Amorsolo Retrospective: Community Driven Amorsolo

I wasn’t really into paintings but my parents were. We had a couple of Amorsolo’s and Goya’s at home and they were, if I recall correctly, gifts. Behind one of the Goya’s, which was a portrait of my mom, she had a photo with him stuck on the canvas.

So it’s pretty cool how art appreciation is slowly taking advantage of new media. The latest is The Amorsolo Retrospective, which is an online collaboration of collectors to upload Amorsolo art that they own, and embed them on blogs. I guess it’s sort of like turning your blog into an online art gallery, which is kick ass. It’s nice to know we have local new media efforts to preserve our sense of art and culture.

Fernando Amorsolo,
First National Artist.

He portrayed his ideals through his art, capturing the essence of Filipino beauty and sunlight on canvas.

The Amorsolo Retrospective aims to take another look at our first National Artist Fernando Amorsolo through a four-month multi-venue exhibition of his finest works. This is all made possible by our many sponsors, particularly our co-presenter, Metrobank.

This rare gathering of his paintings, illustrations and sketches hopes to cultivate a deeper understanding of Filipino culture and values as seen through the eyes of Amorsolo. His art was a reflection of his values. They depicted a fervent idealism, a sense of community, the respect of women, the love of beauty, the dignity of hard work, and a celebration of our country’s history.

Join us as we celebrate one of the greatest Filipino painters and the beauty he saw in everything.

If you want to showcase Amorsolo’s works on your blog or website, just follow these simple instructions or go to http://amorsoloretro.com/hangyourown. If you OWN an Amorsolo, you can actually showcase it to the world! Check out www.amorsoloretro.com and click on “Upload your own Amorsolo.”

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Better Radio Ads with the Antennanator: Sleek, Italian Design

Stuck in a rut with the same old redundant radio copy? Having a hard time cramming everything in 30 seconds or less? Gabe Mercado introduces the Antennanator. It’s concept is pretty simple: if you need better ideas, get a better antenna.

For more details, please call 813-1315 and get your free Antennanator today! You can also visit the Official Antennanator Blog.

Never fear, for the Antennanator is now making waves (radio waves that is!) in local shores. And what good timing as well, because the KBP radio awards is up and coming!

Public Notice: Beware of Fake Antennanators!

Ventaja Philippines: Making online SSS payments easier for OFW’s

I’ve put off writing about Ventaja for the longest time. It wasn’t a scoop from a press launch or a dinner invitation to try out their service. In fact the circumstances to meeting up with them was brought about by a whole day workshop I gave for ITMC many months ago.

I was amazed that a service like this existed. And quite glad too that at the very least we have someone, who is not from the government, taking care of this effort. So here’s the deal. Ever since I went freelance, I had stopped paying my SSS contribution. It was one of the things I wanted to pay independently, and going through this transition is in theory very easy to do. But the government officials who I talked to behind the desk made payment so hard to do! Talk about making things difficult. I mean, I’m already giving you my money and you’re making it hard for me to do so (click here for radio drama)!

This is why I find SSS payments to be so not worth it. For something that could give you a little cash when you retire, you have to go through so much trouble. What’s stopping me from getting other forms of security instead (mutual funds, time deposit, etc)? And what more if you live overseas? It’s really not worth it because you’ll be earning so much more money compared to the measly amounts you’ll be getting in return if you had paid for SSS (I think the total pay amounts to about P16,000 to P20,000 across your working career if I’m not mistaken).

SSS has its benefits. Among all the government services, others pale in comparison because these guys can deliver.

The guys behind Ventaja explained their service carefully to me. In a nutshell, they wanted to make SSS payments easier for OFW’s who really won’t see the benefit of availing because the traditional system takes 10 months (!!!) to propagate payments (ikaw nga nagbayad, ikaw pa yung na-hassle!).

Social Security System is part of the Philippine government effort to increase collection of contributions from its members based overseas. The coverage of the SSS program are primarily for retirement, disability, sickness, maternity, death/funeral and loan assistance. Every Filipinos including overseas workers may avail of the membership and it will remain active for lifetime.

SSS On-line Payment is a web based technology that records contribution payments via our website, is it part of the service available within Ventaja’s Remit Load system. Every transaction will have a unique Reference number from SSS. The system is directly link to SSS server for automatic upload of all records of payment every end of day. Transactions are posted within five (5) working days. The system will have an inquiry tool and provides payment history of customers, it is 100% electronic and completely paperless.

Guess what? I asked them a favor if they could help me with my SSS so I could pay. Tadah. Done. No hassles.

Google Map Maker Philippines Overview

I attended an intimate dinner with representatives from Google yesterday evening as they publicly unveiled Google Map Maker to the Philippine Internet community and other stakeholders.

UPDATE: Google Map Maker has added tens of thousands of edits of the Philippines to Google Maps

A friend half-jokingly said that if we joined the Amazing Race, it would be my fault that we would lose, primarily because I have a very bad sense of direction. Funny that I score really high in the Abstract Reasoning section of these IQ tests but really suck when it comes to map reading.

As someone who lives in the south of the metro (aka “the not-so-dirty south” of Paranaque), I never found the need to know what lies after Katipunan. For me it was enough to know that after EDSA, there was a huge SM that blocked my way forcing me to go either left (Mushroom Burger) or right (who knows what’s there?!?), and after Katipunan, there’s a school called UP. And that pretty much sums up 28 years of living in the Philippines.

That’s why I stick to my little niche of Paranaque, BF Homes and Makati as I fill up what I know of the not so little sandbox that is Google Map Maker.

Google Map Maker

EDIT: I had “Venus” from Google approve some of my cartography from last night with some comments such as “pls align the polygon.” So I guess it takes a little less than 24 hours to approve a few items.

Google Map Maker is not Google Maps. What it is, simply, is the “sandbox mode” of Google Maps where user-generated content populates the cartography with establishments, city landmarks, fault lines (hmmm bad for real estate companies??!!), and other objects of interest. The content is purely generated by users, and just like in Wikipedia and Digg a moderation system is enforced with checks from the community itself. When a piece of information is considered to be credible enough (via user comments and algorithms), Google moves this piece of information to Google Maps.

According to Google, organizing the world’s information entails having a better understanding of search. Since search can be traced to a geographic location, “where it is searched from” adds an entirely new dimension to your queries. Thus, Google Map Maker addresses the problem of not having high quality maps with up to date and fresh info, while giving historical information on landmarks (like demolished structures, relocated establishments and historical points of interest).

In the Philippine setting, Google Map Maker helps bring to light rural and suburban localities and their businesses with the ultimate goal of boosting commerce and tourism (searching for zoos, beaches, hotels, etc).

The process of mapping can actually be quite addicting. I’ve noticed that aside from mapping gated communities, I’ve concentrated on my niche (I’m not as hardcore as Eugene) which is to map out the locations of my favorite restaurants and bars (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Burger Avenue, Kopi Roti, Murphy’s).

From a blogger perspective, I’m seeing that you can edit details of establishments to include photos and URL’s. So that means when you mark, say, a restaurant, you can actually enter your food review URL from your blog under the website category. Obviously, I’m not sure how this will rank in “authority” to be moved to Google Maps (this by the way does not happen overnight), but an extra bona fide public link to your post shouldn’t hurt. Besides, once the 3rd party apps get rolled out, we’re bound to see a lot of “geotagging” or “geoblogging” taking place in conjunction with the Map Maker. This was a huge request for the Google devs from people around the world and they’re very aware of the potential. No release date for these as of late (I’m not claiming that these apps will be available — I’m just saying that they make sense with the release of an API).

So why not give it a try? All you need to do is sign in with your Google account and go to http://google.com/mapmaker to map the city at your leisure.

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