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From seaweed vendor to global usability expert

“I was determined to break the cycle of poverty.”
– Ms. Myrna Padilla, Founder MYND Consulting

As this is an odd hour to blog for me, I leave you with bits of a very beautiful experience when I conducted the first of many workshops for Microsoft Tulay, a technology empowering series of seminars run by the Blas Ople Foundation and OWWA for OFW’s and their families. Last week, I conducted a “training the trainers” series for 17 instructors from different regions of the Philippines.

Although I’d rather write about my experience at another time, I leave you with an inspirational message from Ms. Myrna Padilla who was brought up pounding rice and diving for seaweed. Today she owns a global outsourcing software company called Mynd Consulting based in Davao that specializes in web development, usability, Web 2.0 solutions and many more. Her latest product is a Facebook application called OFW Watch, a news aggregator fine tuned for OFW’s.

Her inspirational opening remarks after the break.


Apple Online Store launches in the Philippines: What happens to local distributors?

It’s no secret that the Apple Online Store has been officially launched in the Philippines. I’m excited. Now I no longer have to leave the comfort of my home to buy Apple products. A move like this points to a great future for online purchasing and delivery in the Philippines. With orders above P3,000, delivery is free.

The online store has a set of coveted features, including the highly coveted iPod engraving for ultimate personalization.

The Apple Online Store brings something else on the table – competition. Now we have a benchmark as to how much an Apple product can cost vis a vis the other official and unoffical distributors (hehe).

I have a question though – and if you work for an exclusive Apple retailer or distributor (PowerMac, The A Store, Digital Hub, Mobile1, etc), you might want to chime in. How does this affect Apple’s relationship with their established gold distributors? Will they be bringing competition to the table, or do they have some sort of partnership in this online endeavor? And here’s an example — the benefits of ordering an iPod online (free engraving!!!) outweigh retailers’ benefits, that is if you can afford to pay 100% cash. It also works if you want to heavily customize* your Macs before you buy them.

At the end of the day, retailers will be forced to come up with better promos (and freebies!) which is all good for the consumers!

* Footnote: I’m a little disappointed that DELL didn’t see the potential of the online store in the Philippines and went 100% retail. The build before you buy feature for the DELL online store in the USA made it such a winner product. We don’t have that here. Oh well. You snooze, you lose.


Contest: Moleskine Giveaway from Avalon.PH

Jasper Ong from Avalon was generous enough to sponsor this contest. It’s part of a blog marketing campaign being done by Avalon.PH. If you’re a fan of rare collectible books (signed by authors!) as well as used tomes and other gift items, Avalon’s online store is where it’s at.

Avalon is giving away a Moleskine Ruled Notebook for this raffle as the grand prize. I’m going to up the ante and give away a second prize – which is a spare set of three Moleskine Cahiers! Isn’t that cool?!

Contest Rules

1. This contest is open to Philippine based residents only.
2. To enter the contest, you need to leave a comment on this post with a valid email address
3. In the comment section you need to answer the question, “when are you most inspired to write?”
4. You can enter the raffle contest as many times as you want but you need to leave a different answer each time you join.
5. I will be drawing the winners when the contest closes using Luck of the Draw. The contest closes at 11:59 PM GMT+8 on November 18 2008.

Left 4 Dead

The Zombie Apocalypse is best experienced with friends. November 18, 2008. I can’t wait!

Anyone else planning on getting this for the PC? We’re set to play Left 4 Dead online on Steam.

The Philippine National Anthem

This is the most moving version of Lupang Hinirang, our Philippine National Anthem. It is a slower and more solemn version of our national anthem, originally meant to be sung with a marching cadence. Watching it may move you to tears with the simple message it is trying to convey.

This rendition of Lupang Hinirang is intended for reflection. It is not meant to replace the official anthem normally played as a march.

Recently a talented and nationally known film director, Mae Paner, crafted a new and moving version of our national anthem. This unusual audio visual presentation of “Lupang Hinirang”* has been shown many times in various events and has consistently touched the hearts and minds of viewers to the point of tears of awakening and gratefulness.

Because of its consistent positive impact, PAGASA and Ehem! have decided to make this version of “Lupang Hinirang” available nationwide as a reflection piece to trigger a deeper awareness of oneself in relation to the country and encourage the emergence of positive images of the Philippine future.[source and video link]

This is a very moving advocacy and it inspires a lot of hope for crippled yet endearing nation. I urge you to pass this video on through the internet.

How to: Sync your mobile phone with iSync

Not all phones are created equal, especially when it comes to finding device drivers for the Macintosh. If you’re running a Sony Ericsson or Nokia phone you may have an easier time finding licensed plugins to sync your phone with Apple’s iSync app.

If you’re on a Nokia, all you need to do is head on over to their corporate website and download the appropriate device driver that unpacks to iSync depending on your phone’s brand. It’s really easy to install. If the phone isn’t listed, you will need to wait a few days. Nokia always releases a new update whenever a new phone is released.

However if you own other brands and want to use a third party sync tool, you can check out Mactomster. This iSync plugin also supports a number of S40 phones from Nokia. Here is a list of devices they support, taken from their site:

Nokia iSync-PlugIns for 10.4 Tiger & 10.5 Leopard

* N-Series: N75, N76, N77, N78, N81, N81 8GB, N82, N92, N93i, N95, N95 8GB, N96
* E-Series: E50, E51, E60, E61i, E65, E66, E70, E71, E90
* Series40: 2600 Classic, 2630, 2760, 3109 Classic, 3110 Classic, 3120 Classic, 3500 Classic, 5000, 5200, 5220 XpressMusic, 5300, 5310 XpressMusic, 5610 XpressMusic, 6085, 6125, 6151, 6233, 6234, 6263, 6288, 6300, 6300i, 6301, 6500 Classic, 6500 Slide, 6555, 6555d, 7280, 7373, 7390, 7500 Prism, 7710, 7900 Prism, 8600 Luna, 8800 Arte, 8800 Sapphire Arte
* Series60: 3250, 5320 XpressMusic, 5500, 5700, 6110 Navigator, 6120 classic, 6220 Classic, 6290
* Series80: 9300, 9500 Communicator

SonyEricsson iSync-PlugIns for 10.4 Tiger & 10.5 Leopard

* C-Series: C702, C902, C905
* F-Series: F305
* G-Series: G502
* K-Series: K320i, K330i, K510i, K530i, K550i, K630i, K660i, K770i, K810i, K850i
* P-Series: P1i
* S-Series: S302i, S500i
* T-Series: T650
* V-Series: V630i, V640i
* W-Series: W310i, W350i, W380i, W580i, W610i, W660i, W700i, W710i, W880i, W890i, W910i, W960i (!), W980i
* Z-Series: Z310i, Z550i, Z555i, Z710i, Z770i, Z780i

Samsung iSync-PlugIns 10.5 Leopard

* D-Serie: SGH-D520, SGH-D520, SGH-D800, SGH-D820, SGH-D830, SGH-D840, SGH-D880, SGH-D900i
* E-Serie: SGH-250, SGH-E390, SGH-E530, SGH-E620, SGH-E720, SGH-E730, SGH-E770, SGH-E900
* F-Serie: SGH-F300, SGH-F480, SGH-F490 (V)
* G-Serie: SGH-G800
* i-Serie: SGH-i520, SGH-i550, SGH-i560
* P-Serie: SGH-P300, SGH-P310
* U-Serie: SGH-U700, SGH-U900
* X-Serie: SGH-X700, SGH-X800 Serene, SGH-X828, SGH-X830
* Z-Serie: SGH-Z150, SGH-Z370, SGH-Z630

Windows 7 Taskbar “Superbar” brings Hope to Microsoft

Obama inspired Hope to America, and a litttle bit of that Hope is rubbing off Microsoft’s new Windows 7. It’s no secret that PDC copies are already out for developers. Rafael Rivera and Ed Bott discussed about the new “super taskbar” that highlights Windows 7’s new GUI.

From what I’ve been hearing, the new Superbar draws a lot of inspiration from the Mac OS X dashboard launcher with a little bit of the Google Chrome shortcut icon feature. The new Taskbar isn’t just a launcher but serves the purpose of adding and remembering sub windows within applications. In other words, what used to take five clicks to get to now only takes two.

I’m excited for Windows 7. Id like to believe it’s a second wind for Microsoft.

[image credit taken from Ed’s ZDNet blog]

Verzio Envii on Windows Mobile 6.1 Review

Verzio Envii

So I recently got myself a SUN prepaid kit. I had to. Let’s just say that a number of factors led to me finally spending P70.00 for a new SIM by recommendation of Kenna — figures she works for SUN — I had to get one for my blog to make it easier for people to contact me, whom I didn’t know personally.

The two three motivators were a series of seminars to be conducted for a non-profit group this coming Friday, a small social experiment with Jonas Diego, Fritz, Marcelle, Jeff and a few more bloggers for Axe (yes! the deodorant!). It’s a viral campaign they’re doing and I’m pretty hyped about it – the schedule is fit for a rockstar: invading three bars from 9 PM to 4 AM on Friday. I hope I can keep up with THE Fritz. And yeah, I opted to get a second SIM for this purpose, more for security reasons. Hyuk! My number is here.

Oh and yeah, the last motivator is really to find a SIM for my spare review phones. For the past couple of months I’ve been using my uMobile SIM for spare units. I mean why not, right? It’s the proper way to review telecommunications products without the hassle of swapping my SMART SIM (I’m on a BlackBerry consumer plan but the BlackBerry Pearl is still somewhere in Canada for repairs).

Confession time: I lost my uMobile SIM. Yep. Misplaced. Got blown away by the wind. Got sucked by the vacuum cleaner. Oh well. So I’m on SUN again (used to have a SUN SIM back in 2006 and boy the service was bad). I think everyone deserves second chances, albeit first impressions were not that happy – there’s no signal in my room. Between Globe, SMART and SUN, the latter has the weakest signal – no signal at all! On the upside it allowed me to do something really geeky and connect my phone via Bluetooth to the desktop and use the desktop SMS function that wirelessly transmits the message to the phone outside the room. Really unnecessary. But geeky though.

I’m reposting the Verzio Envii review I wrote a couple of months ago for MANUAL. Credit goes to MANUAL Magazine, July 2008 Issue. And might I add, it’s silly that I’m running my secondary line on a more advanced phone! Review after the break.


Two new blog ideas that will make you famous

Here are some blog ideas boiling about and I’d like to share them with you. I’d have wanted to do these myself but, well, I have a lot to eat with a full plate in front of me. Here they are:

Idea 1. Back in 2005 the company I worked for had already launched a consumer shopping magazine that specialized in doing honest to God product comparisons. Like we’d have 5 of the best sisig in town and compare them. Or six of the most packed burgers. Or they can be as mundane as comparing the total resistance of five brands of tissue paper or the chicken gravy from the top three fast foods.

That magazine was called The Reviewer and it would be cool if a group of people took off and did that again. It would be easier in the sense that you don’t need to have advertising to support you since it’s something you’d have to do by yourself to avoid any biases. The blog won’t review restaurants or establishments. It reviews products in contrast to other products and you’d need to be a very sensitive consumer to see through the marketing. It sounds easy but believe me, it isn’t.

Idea 2. Are you a photographer, talent manager or make up artist? It would be fun to produce a site showcasing the beauty industry with one catch: zero use of Photoshop or any photo manipulating tool (with the exception of crop and B&W conversion). Real photography. Real models. And I mean REAL MODELS. You know how anyone can be a model these days? Well, a blog like this will definitely showcase raw talent from photographers, make up artists, stylists – and yes, bringing back the super models! It’s easy to get shocked when browsing through a magazine and you find out that the model was not photoshopped – you tend to ask for the name of the model and photographer in the credits!

Again, I think this concept would look better as a glossy industry mag but a blog should work just fine.

Any takers? If you do borrow these ideas, tell me. I’d gladly help promote them! 🙂

Ding! Level 28! Gratz!

Congratulations! You have reached Rank 28!
You have gained Intelligence +1
You have gained Wisdom +2
You have gained Strength -1
You have gained Endurance -1
You have gained skill: “Receding Hairline Rank 2”
You will now take an additional 10% Fatigue from running
You have gained ability: “Peace of Mind” which can be used once per day

A rant to self:

You’re probably the most stubborn person I know, who can’t afford to glue himself to work in an office desk. You try your best to be calm and composed outside, but inside you are probably laughing, because you like to imagine people wearing clown suits (red nose, white make up) while they walk the streets or when they are talking to you. You are passionate and to a fault unbridled and it’s hard to predict what you’re going to do. You’re lazy. You’re not lazy. You get lost in what you do and when you finally come to your senses, you always wonder – hey, what did I just do? Thankfully you haven’t embarrassed yourself in public, at least not yet. Talk less. But make it count. Remember to always protect those close to you and never step on anybody if you want to succeed.

You need to play more guitar and drink less. Even though you claim to look like Joaquin Phoenix, you will still be Mr. Bean.

Belated happy birthday!

Megaton City Nuclear Explosion: Someone set us up the bomb

Fallout 3. Inside Megaton City is a dormant nuclear bomb that is both dreaded by the townsfolk and worshipped by religious cult known as the Church of Atom. The video clip above is easily one of the most defining moments of video game history, where the player (me!) wipes out an entire city from the face of the map with the push of a button.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 Impressions

Sadly I wasn’t able to take a photo. I was in the middle of a meeting when a friend pulled out a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1, SE’s latest Windows Mobile enabled device. The phone was smaller than I had anticipated, although heavier than my Nokia N82. It is perhaps the most elegant Windows Mobile devices I’ve ever held, with the slight sexy curve that tilts the screen and keyboard for easier viewing.

The XPERIA X1 is a matured device in the sense that it runs on one of the most popular operating systems (Windows Mobile 6) and yes, it does have a good camera. I got the shock of my life. Perhaps Sony did lend it’s imaging technology to make Windows Mobile imaging a better place.

What I found a little off was the usability of the menu system that was haphazadly inspired by the iPhone and HTC Touch. The menus would move around in a cascade or column but the truth is, I found this to be eye candy than utility, because I’d always end up on the Windows Mobile “Start” screen if I wanted to find something.

The XPERIA X1 is a conversation piece because of its elegant looks. It is also expensive, at above the P40,000 price range, which is typical for the higher end devices powered by Windows Mobile. If you’ve been meaning to upgrade your WM6 smartphone to something more elegant, this may be the device for you. Nice camera too.

Fallout 3 for the PC bootleg copies make it first before Datablitz

Oh my. I still haven’t had my fill of the zombie apocalypse and I’m knee deep into another one. Fallout 3 is the third installation to the Fallout series, the spiritual successor to 1988’s Wasteland. It’s been roughly eleven years since I’ve worn the pipboy.

There were two role-playing titles in the series (Fallout and Fallout 2), one tactical role-playing game spinoff (Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel) and one action dungeon-crawler for PlayStation 2 and Xbox (Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel). A sequel, Fallout 3, was recently released by Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda now owns the rights to make all Fallout games,[1][2] and has conditionally licensed the rights to make a massively multiplayer online role-playing game version of Fallout to Interplay. In 2001, PC Gamer named Fallout and Fallout 2 as the fourth best computer game of all time. [Fallout 3 series]

Torrents and pirated copies are everywhere – the original discs are only out for the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3. Datablitz still doesn’t carry the PC version.

The Fallout series is best known for its tongue in cheek humor towards post nuclear America.

Audible Picks: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

This is part 3 of my Halloween series of posts. Part II is here and Part I is here. Happy Halloween! This post was inspired by AM and AG.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead is a cult favorite among those fascinated with the inevitable arrival of the zombie apocalypse. The book is hard to find, as compared to Max Brooks’ second book World War Z which is available in National Bookstore, Fully Booked and Powerbooks.

The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack:
1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection: tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

Don’t be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset: life. The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead. It is an audiobook that can save your life.

So if you can’t find the book, let’s listen to the audiobook. Once again, Audible saves the day!

P.S. World War Z is also available on Audible.

P.P.S. Max Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks.

P.P.S. If you’re a non believer in the zombie apocalypse and believe that one day robots will rule the world, you can also check out How to Survive a Robot Uprising.


An open letter to Anton Diaz

This post serves as Part II of my Halloween trilogy for 2008 which is also an advocacy shared by other believers such as JJ, AM, AG, and I almost forgot, LD. This post was inspired by AM. Part I of my Halloween is located here. Plurk comments are located here.

Dear Anton,

First off I would like to thank you for your hard work on Our Awesome Planet, a wonderful blog about travel, food and culture in our quaint little archipelago. It is a fine piece of work that you have done for your career and have thus rightly earned the title as one of the more influential bloggers in the country.

However I would also like you to consider, in the best interest of this country, and perhaps modern human civilization as we know it, that in the event of a zombie infestation we would all probably bleed to death (scratch that, Solanum has immediate clotting of the wound in the 1st hour) become reanimated within 24 hours as walking corpses.

Thus, as one of the more popular mainstream bloggers in the Philippines I implore you to help educate the masses on the potential safety measures and precautions one must take in the advent of a zombie invasion. The dawn of the zombie apocalypse can only be classified under the premise of “possible, but improbable.” But in today’s age of wonder and bewilderment, “anything is possible” might just leave an open door towards the potential spread of Solanum or any such virus that can contaminate and reanimate the living into the walking dead.

Thus I have reached the crux of the matter, the purpose for which I write this letter: I would thus like to request if you could include, in all your restaurant reviews a separate rating that determines the level of safety the establishment is to be “Zombie Proof,” a five point rating for every establishment’s survivability and safety whence the dawn of the dead matriculates.

Is your establishment prepared for the zombie apocalypse?

Yes, it is urgent that consumers should know if they are safe within an establishment if and when an apparent zombie infestation occurs while they are dining. Mang Rudy’s Puto and Tea might have the best Filipino delicacies, but will it survive the apocalypse lest the zombies turn Filipinos into their own delicacies? Although White Hat Yogurt may be one of hte best in the country, will it be able to survive a different kind of fermentation?

The Zombie Survival Guide recommends each establishment to have a machete and M1 Carbine on hand to survive advances from the living dead. Do establishments have long, cramped halls for running with waning dead ends? Is there a supply of oil to spill on the floor to catch these reanimations off balance (you don’t use the oil for fire because what’s worse than one zombie is one zombie running to you in flames — thanks, AM)?

With practical suggestions and honest critiques on making establishments “zombie proof” you can assure the safety of the human race, avoiding an apocalyptic nightmare which one can only see in movies such as Dead / Alive, Masters of Horror, Shaun of the Dead, and … Talladega Nights. Variety is the spice of life, and such I would like to suggest such section titles as “Our Gruesome Planet” for this very purpose, an urban survival guide to the living dead.

I hope you consider my request to be in high priority.

Your friend among the living,

Jayvee F.

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