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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.


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.” ๐Ÿ™‚

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?



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 countryโ€™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.”


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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“Cringe Benefits”

I was standing at the back of the room, left arm folded over my right. I’d twitch, and switch position (left hand over my mouth perpendicular to my right arm) every time one of the promo people on stage would forget the script.

And then I’m joined by RJ Ledesma who positions himself beside me, and gives me the look.

“So what are you doing all the way back here?” I asked.

“It’s the guys on stage. I’m getting all tensed up when they forget their lines.”

“Oh you too? That’s good. I thought it was just me! It’s really stressful. It really makes me cringe.”

And so winging it yielded the most interesting results

My former professor taught one of the most important acts in teaching craft and that was the art of “winging it.” It really meant not having a plan for the next hour and a half in class but since there was a lot of familiarity with the subject, “winging it” often yielded the best results in getting the message through. I guess the best plan, at most times, was to not have one.

This note comes in a dialogue of many levels but one has to stand out and that message, I feel, should be one of thanks. It’s been a blast working with Jeremy and the rest of b5media as CE for the technology channel (special mention goes to CJ – yes you Christina Jones, for being hands down one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my 27 years of existence). I stepped down a few days before the Philippine Blog Awards (the channel is in good hands with Kori) and have now abandoned myself to the reckless tapping of the keyboard to stick to writing for the network, which in 2005 retrospect is something I miss doing.

It was one of the most interesting one and a half years of my career in the blogging industry and now that the training wheels are off, I’m here to venture forth to concentrate on things with a stronger local impact – there’s of course this little surprise here, an advocacy there, and the academe, plus a few more surprises up my sleeve in the coming months.

I still remember Anton talking to me about my “career plans” in the first quarter of the year as we were sneaking out from an event, and I remember giving vague answers to our discussion; but what stood out were answers that had more to do with local results and doing things that had my whole heart on the line. But yeah, the answers were still vague.

I mean, what can I do? I’m just winging it baby.

Nokia to launch “Comes with Music” soon?

Phones come cheap because the price of the unit is subsidized by the telco (they make up with the monthly plans). In the same light, digital music will now come free (hopefully!) because the cost will be subsidized by the price of the phone.

Reuters has an interestingly new article on the Nokia’s new Comes with Music offering (apart from their new touch screen phone):

I heard about Nokia’s Comes with Music plans during a dinner meet up with some of the online tech media a few months ago. Not a lot of details were released but the plan to go for a subscription-based model isn’t new. It just hasn’t been implemented on a wide scale yet (the only guys I know doing this is the Microsoft Zune online community for a price of a CD a month – unlimited song downloads!).

Nokia’s package will differ from others on the market as users can keep all the music they have downloaded during the 12 month subscription period. There are no charges for tracks downloaded, since the cost is bundled to the phone price.

“‘Comes with Music’ could potentially bring free music to millions of consumers, radically changing the music industry, and offering a significant threat to Apple’s dominance,” Strategy Analytics’ David MacQueen said in a research report.

“In a market where price and selection are so much more important than brand to consumers, Apple cannot count on retaining users when competing with an offering which seems free to the end user,” MacQueen said.

I think it’s come to that point where everyone in the market already has a phone, and changing mobiles every 3 months is turning to be a logistical nightmare. So even if Nokia has still been steady with the phones, entering these new avenues (games, music, maps, photo sharing) via Ovi will definitely peak interest.

What I really want to say is filled with irony: The key to keeping your customers is to not make anything exclusive. This isn’t the 1970’s anymore. Great job to Nokia for going pro-consumer!

How does it feel to be Robi Domingo?

I wonder how he feels — from smart cars to Katipunan to Cagayan de Oro, Robi Domingo’s face is plastered across the local flora and fauna. Robi Domingo, from Pinoy Big Brother fame, is Nokia’s latest brand endorser for the youth segment (that’s the Nokia 7210 Supernova and Nokia 2680).

If that were you all over Manila, how would you feel? ๐Ÿ™‚

(No I’m not trying to make fun of him. It’s more like …. wow! What a leap from housemate to nationwide poster boy!)

More photos after the jump.

Backstage Photos with Chicane in Manila

Had the very rare chance to spend some time backstage with Chicane. I think this is their third time in Manila, but this was the very first time for me to see them live at the World Trade Center. People often mistake Chicane for a DJ when in fact they are a band of four (at least for this tour) – drums, vocals, guitar and keyboards / programming.

Despite the many sound f*** ups (I’ve never seen a concert go on dead air twice on the same night!), this was one of the best live shows I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t Chicane’s fault for the sound system. The guys from Big Fish said that their equipment was being harassed by dust particles *shrug*. Sucks that the technical glitch happened while they were playing Offshore. Seriously, this could have been one of the best concerts I attended if not for the sound system! It’s a huge blow to the sponsors.

A huge thanks to Nikka from Nokia for scoring us tickets. I was with fellow “Chicanenees” Rico, Jane and Christian, Phoebe (who manged to score an interview with vocalist Natasha Brocklebanks!), Helga and Rockstar Fritz.

If you wish to grab these photos, feel free to do so. I’d just appreciate a photo credit. That’s not a lot to ask for since these photos aren’t even watermarked. More photos after the jump.


Unboxing Warhammer Online Collector’s Edition

A bit late, but here are some photos of the Warhammer Collector’s Edition box set. If you’re a fan of the Warhammer lore, the graphic novel (blue) Prelude to War will not disappoint as it tackles the back story of Grumlok and Gazbag as pawns of the Dark Elves and the rallying of the Dwarven engineers. Alongside this, The Art of Warhammer Online (red) is fabulously done, bringing a fantasy themed coffee table book to round out the other magazines you have on display.

More photos after the break…

T-Mobile G1 Launched: Android is here!

To quote what I wrote on Cellphone9,

The new G1 will cost USD $179.00 and will come with a 2 year plan with T-Mobile. I’ve never been this excited for a device since the iPhone. As you can clearly see, T-Mobile has released a product that does not reek of Brand X. This one’s a sure winner. And it’s only the first of many Android based devices. I’m now more excited to find out which applications are native to Android, and which ones are clearly T-Mobile’s, because I’d love to see how the ala cart menu of Android will turn out for other smartphones to come.

With native support for the Amazon Music Store, several IM clients, WiFi, music and the Webkit “Chrome” browser, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Android has up its sleeve in the next few months!

Here’s a comparison between the T-Mobile G1 and AT&T’s iPhone.

Closing Remarks

Thank you all for coming! This is a copy of the closing remarks which Juned allowed me to give as we closed the second Philippine Blog Awards. I enjoy channeling people I admire (paragraph 16 if I’m not mistaken).

Thank you again for being part of this evening’s festivities and a huge thanks as well to the volunteers and our generous sponsors!

The 3 Head Fakes of Blogging

This speech needs an introduction. There is a popular series of talks that has become recently popular on the Internet titled “The Last Lecture.” The series, which was a titular privilege given by professors and industry luminaries had the simple premise “If you were to give one last lecture to end your career, this would be it.”

On September 18 2007, Randy Pausch gave his Last Lecture titled, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” at Carnegie Mellon University, the place where he taught. It was, to some extent, macabre as he introduced himself by showing the tumors in the X rays which was diagnosed as pancreatic cancer. I like talking about the people I idolize, communicating a similar message that they do, and Pausch was one of them. Pausch was a key player in the IT and Education field, having collaborated with EA’s Steve Seabolt (The Sims), Walt Disney’s Imagineering on 3D environments (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End theme park ride) and consulted with Google for user interface design.

But Pausch’s biggest achievement is his work with Alice. The Alice Project is a free and open source IDE (integrated development environment) that was developed over Java. It’s purpose was to create “head fakes” and teach children how to program in Java in order to create virtual environments, without them knowing it. In addition to this, another “head fake” was to teach young programmers how to be creative because it required them to build a story in a virtual environment as they program. As an aside, Alice 3.0 is being released in 2009 in collaboration with EA and will be using The Sims as its virtual environment.

It was in his Last Lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” that Professor Randy Pausch talked about the real importance of achieving our dreams: that all the things we go through in life, whether it be setting goals for career or family all have a series of “head fakes” or convictions or habits that we learn to develop without us knowing they’re there. Head fakes are things that we learn without our knowing it. It’s like learning teamwork in a basketball game or hand eye coordination while playing first person shooters.

Pausch’s Last Lecture came to mind, as I wanted to talk to you tonight about the 3 head fakes of blogging. With the maturation of today’s blogging community in just short of four years (I base this on the total number of iBlog seminars ever done, by the way), it is hard to find an entry title that’s worded as such: “Things I Learned from Blogging.” And if ever we do find them, it is always almost about learning how to be consistent, to write better, and to deal with our critics.

Tonight, I’d like to share three head fakes that I have personally learned from blogging in celebration of our notion of freedoms which this country enjoys to an awesome extent.

The first head fake:

Blogging teaches us to distinguish our temperament from character. There are many metaphysical truths to the human being, and the concept of temperament and character are perhaps the most interesting. Temperament is the number of sides physically displayed on the dice. Character is the number of chances we get to roll for a snake eyes. Temperament, simply defined, is who we are while character is defined as who we want to become. Temperament is losing it, and flaming others in comments. Character is sincerely apologizing afterwards. In public.

The second head fake. Blogging teaches us to deal. Yes, to deal. Not really to deal with critics. Not really to deal with PR contacts. Not really to deal with making money online; but to deal.

Let me explain. If there is one thing I admire with seasoned bloggers, it is their ability to deal with the impediments that come their way. You will agree with me when I say that the local blogosphere is very colorful, as we are involved in real conversations with fellow bloggers, PR contacts and ad agencies, restaurants, government, NGO’s, multinationals — the list goes on. I admire bloggers who have the ability to deal with the politics of human design and more importantly, how they resolve it. That they can survive criticism, the pointing of hands, the flame bait, the mob, and come back to post the next day, with a more firm resolve.

This brings me to my last point, because “dealing with something” is never complete without conviction.

The third and last head fake: Blogging helps us reaffirm our personal convictions. It is with reaffirming our personal convictions that we form insight on our concept of truth.

“But what is truth?”, asked Pontius Pilate.

What is the truth behind pay per post, behind controversies of SEO and the “nofollow” variable, about link selling or blog advertising, or attending blog events?

The truth? The Truth is Conviction. If there was a right answer, we wouldn’t be blogging. Rather, what is important is that when we are asked what our personal convictions are about these things, we tell the unbiased truth, and unlike Pilate, we should not wash our hands. As bloggers, we value our convictions and integrity the most.

Character, Dealing, and Conviction. I forgot to mention – if you translate “dealing” into a habit, it is called Prudence. These are three things that sum the totality of my message: It is not about how well we blog – it is about how well we live our life.

On to a lighter note. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d like to thank all our sponsors for being industry pioneers to support the Philippine Blog Awards. Truly, you are part of something big. Channeling Pausch, if “being part of a social revolution” forms part of your list of childhood dreams you want to achieve, then tonight is probably the night you will have your epiphany.

I would also like to thank the volunteers for lending their valuable time in pursuit of this wonderful event, and to the bloggers – everyone – who helped the committee make this night possible. The wisdom of the crowd is always better than the few, says James Surowiecki and this awards night is our night. it belongs to all of us.

There is actually one last head fake to this speech – and to end on a dramatic note, this speech is not for you. It is for everyone else who will read or listen to this who do not understand blogging.

The blogosphere is beautiful. Thank you and goodnight.

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