Treat Time

Just another busy day in the largest mall in the country

Just another busy day in the largest mall in the country

Yesterday got me and the family at SM North the whole day. It was when I woke up that my wife told me of the plan to spend the day there. We geared up and after spending nearly 2 hours in the busy traffic along the way, we got there.

And it was really busy there yesterday.

I was supposed to find a mouse to replace the one I’m using for nearly a couple of years now. And maybe a little something for myself as I bid the twenty-something years good riddance.

Instead I didn’t get anything for myself. They did however.

For Her – I

For my wife it was a new Samsung S3500. It was no beast like the U900 it was often compared to (and to which it shared a lot of comparisons) but compared to my recently fixed U600, there are some things review material really.

The Samsung S3500

The Samsung S3500

Here are some impressions so far without turning this into a full blown review.

The S3500 scores against the U600 with long battery life. My phone lasts barely for 2 days when I use its music player on my way to work. All the music tests we did on hers just manage to dent about a third of the phone’s entire battery life.

Camera features favor the U600 mostly with its 3.1MP with flash. The S3500 however has a 2.0MP without the flash to show. To the latter’s credit however, it takes pictures faster with the former having the annoying 5-second wait time before the picture is actually taken.

The S3500 is also more customizable with the presence of more themes and profiles. I would also give it a slight edge on the quality of sound over the U600. However I’d give the U600 an advantage on the fluidity and quality of display. The S3500 doesn’t have the document viewer for pdf, doc and xls files the U600 affords me though.

Both have a lot of similar functions. Both are expandable and have essentially similar phone book, bluetooth, organizer, alarms, calculator, file viewer and other functionalities.

The cost is where the S3500 pleads its case convincingly. Its cost is less than twice the amount of the U600 I got nearly two years ago. This gives an idea of the rate at which rabid competition in mobile technology lowers down technology costs in favor of the consumer.

For Her – II

The Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS

Her long overdue Nintendo DS… something we’ve been longing to give her but somehow didn’t manage to find the time to do so. Not even after her birthday on the 3rd of this month due to a lot of typhoon-related concerns still around then.

It was nice to see her appreciate her new article. She’s been going at it while having dinner last night.

She’s still going as I write this beside her. I guess it’s going to be a while before the next lengthy father-and-daughter conversation takes place.

For Me

Just a splendid time, a much welcome reprieve from what has happened since Typhoon Ondoy struck really.

I got nothing for myself. I guess it’s really part of getting old (and wiser) to appreciate those times becoming rarer and rarer over those stuff you get for your day which often end up room clutter after a while.

Still Going

Just when I thought my Samsung U600 was already a goner, it turned out that the phone still had a few miles to go.

As I’m so accustomed to do, I did a few web searches and found out similar problems encountered by other users. It turned out it was quite frequent after all. Some happened well over a year after the owners acquiring them. This was worse than my experience which was almost 2 years after my purchase.

Turns out that the culprit is the ribbbon flex which frequently gets the hit in terms of wear and tear in the slider phone.


It's the imp's fault

And since the wear’s not visible there, here’s a clearer shot at the culprit.

The Worn-Down Flex Ribbon

The Worn-Down Flex Ribbon

Good thing the Samsung repair guys had my old pal going. The last thing I want this time of the year is an unplanned cost for a mobile phone when I have one which has pretty much a lot of the things I need in my phone.

With that I’m taking unplanned 1,500 bucks that goes with it.

The Digital Age in Green

In expressing my reluctance to jump into Vista’s ship a few posts ago, the main point raised there is that there’s nothing much new brought to the table at the expense of the number of computers going to the obsolescence mill. Also included is a mention of the concept paper I did for an environmental management elective–one on e-waste.

Approaching the E-waste Issue

E-waste refers to the environmental issue of discarded electrical and electronics posing environmental and health hazards to the immediate environment where it is left or mismanaged. That is so because such equipments make use of toxic and hazardous components.

In the course of my research I’ve encountered a lot of materials to help address the problem. Given what I came across with, it has to be said that environmental groups have been creative and therefore effective at presenting the issue to the public. A very good case in point would be Greenpeace‘s Guide to Greener Electronics.

Guide to Greener Electronics takes a scorecard approach in benchmarking household names in “personal computers, mobile phones, TV’s and gaming consoles.” That is, given a defined criteria, Greenpeace ranks the manufacturers and presents the order quarterly. The latest results given last March shows Samsung and Toshiba sharing first place with a score of 7.7 and Nintendo still lagging the pack at 0.3.

Since I doubt object embedding can be done object embedding cannot be done here at wordpress, here’s the a screen shot of the ranking graphic they have for the said period:

Guide to Greener Electronics Ranking

Supporting Green Products–Who Would’ve Known?

U600 pictureWhile Samsung really hasn’t changed it’s score from last December’s evaluation, I find their resolve for greener products a coincidental bonus for my change of mobile phone last December. While my actual intention was to have something which gives me the capability to read PDF files, I didn’t want to give up what my Asus V66 essentially does for me, (camera, video recorder, mp3 player, radio, storage.) Just goes to show how minimalist, (or practical, or both) an IT guy I am I guess.

The need for the PDF viewer however, had me getting something so as to maximize my travel time during the weekdays for the past semester. At a time when I barely had time to rest because of the need for a strict time management*, it only made sense to tap into the time I spend for travelling (3-4 hours daily) to read up on school stuff.

Throw in a better camera and video recorder, more storage, a slimmer built and the fact that I “inadvertently” supported an environmentally friendly product and I’d have to say I’m pretty satisfied with how I spent my hardearned money on a new U600 then. That despite having a noticeably short battery life and an irksome glare when viewing the display under direct sunlight that is.

The image btw is linked from the GSM Arena section for the U600.

*I guess the fact that I didn’t actually have the time to blog about my little acquisition was the give away there. 😀

More Tech Trends

All PDI InfoTech articles for the week under way:

Low-Cost Laptops for Big Returns in Education

I first wrote about XO in this blog entry after having heard about it early this year. Apparently the laptop bannered as a serious economical alternative for students especially for those in third world countries will hit the U.S. and Canadian markets from November 12 to 26. For $399 the buyer gets one machine while the other one will go to a less-fortunate beneficiary to be determined by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

The cost of a laptop’s therefore still pegged at nearly $200. Though still far from the $150 reported early this year, OLPC hopes though to bring the price down at $100 after about a year.

The Philipine Broadband Scene

One of the signs of rapid technological advances I guess. As broadband usage popularity grows in the Philippines, the country is now projected among countries such as “Greece, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Ireland, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia and Turkey” to be among the 10 fastest growing broadband markets. The PDI article citing the telecom industry analyst Ovum sees the growth of broadband usage in the country from “three million to less than 10 million” by 2011.”


And speaking of broadband growth, a hot current events topic these days is the National Broadband Network, (NBN) the government dealt to Chinese corporation, ZTE Corp. Though it’s been a pretty dated topic, the recent Senate interrogations with those involved in the deal have been sour to say the least as flashes of personal attacks and tirades have all been there. And when bloggers had their say on the matter, you just know that the topic won’t go away soon.

Personally I am very skeptical with the deal and shares a sentiment much like what Senator Francis Escudero has to say in the PDI article on that bloggers’ take.

I can’t believe that the ZTE is the best deal we could get now. True, we live in an archipelagic country and this may be a major factor in the huge bill for a national broadband network, but since technology is getting faster and cheaper at the same time, we might as well look for the truly best deal. There must be other options that are more favorable to the Philippines and that should be protected from the government officials and their relatives who salivate for more money at our expense

One of the early criticisms on the project was from Raul Fabella and Emmanuel de Dios. One thing that captured my attention immediately was the government’s failure to provide a feasibility study before determining just how much the project should reasonablycost. For someone who’s been into several IT projects for a number of years already, the lack of a feasibility study to determine the minimum requirements of such a large-scale project is already glaring. Not only does that leave a wide-open window for corruption, it also presents the possibility of having the client, (in this case the Philippine government,) at the mercy of ZTE’s discretion. Read all of the contents of Fabella and de Dios’ paper, (in PDF format,) here.

Modern-day Trends

IT Anyone?

While the IT-sector of the Philippine economy has undoubtedly grown, I never thought the figure’s currently pegged at 400,000 related jobs from 8,000 last 2000. That is if co-Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council, Cesar B. Bautista is to be believed.

In an Infotech article written at PDI today, he spoke of a positive outlook for the country’s BPO services sector as something “to overtake India” in the near future. This as he cites a Frontier Strategy Group report released early this month as the reason for the optimism.

I hoping that the present crop of IT workforce could stand up to the challenge-if ever there really is going to be one.

What was that again?

A PC World article featured at Yahoo news tells of the effect of frequent mobile phone usage that is brain slowdown. The result of a study on 300 persons for nearly two and a half years indicated that the slowdown was still considered normal though.

However plans on expanding the study this time for a longer period of study on 17,000 people, is already on the drawing board.

Now that’s something definitely worth looking into as mobile phone usage has made it to the just about any common man’s routine. That and the fact that society adapted to it so quickly that just a decade ago, only the most affluent in this third world country could be seen flipping their phones in public, all point to a possible health hazard to a mobile generation of humans.

The Long Way Home

So the average L.A. driver gets to spend the longest time in traffic according to a Reuters report on the 10 worst metropolitan traffic in the U.S. In particular, those in L.A. waste 72 hours annually in traffic, (that’s 3 whole days of a year spent in traffic alone.) Runner-ups include (unfortunately) San Francisco, Washington D.C., Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arllington area, San Diego, Houston, Detroit, San Jose and Orlando in that order. Read the rest of the whole article here.

I’d like to see an independent study come up with something on Metro Manila traffic to give L.A. a run for its money though. :))

I Want My Money Back

One of the reasons why I keep few personal stuff besides not wanting to spend for something I won’t use often is that protection for consumer rights here in the Philippines still has to go a very long way. How many times has the mediocrity of products and services been read or heard?

Sadly I’ve had my share of things such as the shrug of the shoulder, inefficient support and downright defective products and service. The thing is protection for small-time public consumers is still practically non-existent here even if service providers are given the green light to clamp you down with an exclusive contract for a good number of months.

In a society whose government does strive to protect the voter’s interest, some steps on complaining do get results. Looking at that article, it’s not hard to see how much consumer protection in this country still has to improve on.

Technology and Etiquette

Pulled from 6 Things to Consider are bad technology habits and email etiquette I wish a lot of people these days would read and keep in mind. The gist of the first goes:

  1. Talking on the cell phone at inappropriate places.
  2. Interrupting a conversation to answer you cellphone.
  3. Constantly checking email.
  4. Don’t use unusual ringtones.
  5. Hiding behind Voice mail.
  6. Calling back a number on CallerID when a message wasn’t left in voice mail.

Especially for us Filipinos, I still see a lot of people guilty of point number 1 and point number 2. The former is even unheard of to a lot of people here while I get to see people do the latter even if the guilty one’s conversation is that of business.

Also I’d like to add not to forward contact information without its owners permission. That goes for mobile numbers, telephone numbers and email addresses. Sensible persons should respect the privacy of other people so it goes without saying that when they give their contact information, one should appreciate the fact that they think they can trust you with it. It’s just sad that even those with the latest and sleekiest mobile phones and PDA’s are even ignorant of this simple point.

As far as the second list, it goes:

  1. Be polite.
  2. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  3. Don’t leave out details, but at the same time don’t put in to much information.
  4. Watch the use of attachments.
  5. Use email responsibly.
  6. Address emails correctly.

As far as the second point there is concerned, I’d like to see more people practice it. I know it takes time but it says a lot about one who submits something haphazardly done. Read a lot of the same glaring posts and comments in forums, discussions and blogs and the sensible one can’t help but feel dismay at the lack of effort behind the reads.

Given the sheer volume of such erroneous stuff, is it still surprising that the growing number of offenders have it their way in calling those who still bother to practice corrections OC?

The images btw were taken from Open Clipart: the first one here and the second one here.

Techies’ Preview

Body Heat for Gadgets

In time it might be possible to power gadgets using body heat. That is if the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits research results hit the market. As the related Yahoo Tech news bit puts it:

…they are developing special circuits that use body heat. These could lead to battery-less cell phones and medical monitors that draw energy from their users.

The new circuits utilize the principle of thermoelectric generators (TEG) made from semiconductor elements… the TEGs extract electrical energy simply from the temperature difference between a hot and a cold environment. Normally, a difference of several tens of degrees would be required in order to generate enough power, but the difference between the body’s surface temperature and that of its environment is only a few degrees. To boost the energy, they combined a number of components that store up the energy until there’s enough to operate the electronic device.

Laptop Battery Tidbits

Andrew Pollack’s recent problem with Dell’s service eventually brought about an interesting article on laptop batteries. Andrew’s one of the Notes gurus out there and his entry focuses on something I didn’t give much attention to despite years of using mobile computers. Especially useful are the tips on their usage.

Mobile Inconvenience

The iPhone hype aside, using cellular phones does have its inconvenience. I’ve appreciated them when I started having one nearly 10 years ago but as more and more people embraced the gadget, I’ve gradually used it lesser and lesser. Not that I’m a non-conformist but there really are some inconveniences in using the mobile phone.

I won’t turn this entry into a rant piece with my bits of personal experience in all the years of using mobile phones so I might as well feature a surprising blog entry I encountered elsewhere involving Sprint’s decision to drop off a subscriber because of what they deem are excessive calls to customer service! The notice was even featured there and I encountered the link from one of Ben Poole’s blog entries btw.

According to the blog entry author anyway:

Sprint lately has been sending letters to customers disconnecting them for using too much roaming, data, texting and now… CALLING CUSTOMER SERVICE!

I think the company has hit a new low because as a Sprint customer I know how many billing mistakes they make a month and call them at least two times in a billing period to correct THEIR errors. I can understand dropping problematic customers who call daily to ask why their cellphone screen turns off after five minutes, but to drop a customer looking to correct a error that they are not responsible for is ridiculous.

Now that one’s different considering that other mobile companies out there would do just about everything to keep their subscriber base intact. Charge it to the corporate paradox list I guess.

Finally a sad accident happened early last week involving five recent high school graduates in New York. The Yahoo News report mentions possible cellphone use while driving as one of the factors, (including overspeeding because of inexperience at the wheel,) that led to the mishap.

So despite being an over-exhausted line, I guess it won’t hurt to find the space here to remind drivers out there to refrain from using their mobile phones while driving. Think of this especially when there are lives depending on you.

On the iPhone: The Madness Continues

Talk about sold out. AT&T says it’s nearly out of iPhones after it went on sale in stores at the U.S. yesterday. This after all of about its 1,800 stores launched the product which had people queueing up to get one. Talk about hype.

And rabid consumerism as well. I didn’t expect people to go gaga this much over something which hadn’t been actually tested by a lot of users long enough to produce user reviews. Sure there have been a lot of things said in blogs and tech reviews online but if you’d ask me, I’d still follow the conventional wisdom bit on new technology which suggests that you wait around for a while before you get something new.

But I guess iPhone fans are willing to plunge into the mix right away. Take that guy pictured in the article. Boy, is he happy! Talk about fanaticism.

A Closer look at the iPhone

The iPhone’s going to be on sale in the U.S. tomorrow and the consumerism marked by the hype surrounding the launch is pretty much found in the internet. I’m not that much into gadgets but Apple’s iPhone hype had me taking a look into that direction.

A previous feed from Bruce Elgort’s blog made mention of a comprehensive article, (from which this photo is taken,) on the gadget’s pros and cons from David Pogue of the NY Times. According to Pogue:

In the last six months, Apple’s iPhone has been the subject of 11,000 print articles, and it turns up about 69 million hits on Google. Cultists are camping out in front of Apple stores; bloggers call it the “Jesus phone.” All of this before a single consumer has even touched the thing…

As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it’s flawed. It’s substance; it’s style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones.

From the same entry too, a comment points to another blog entry from The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro regarding how much people are taking the iPhone launch just “a little too seriously.”

In tune with the “win-some, lose-some” intonation from Pogue’s entry, Steve Atkinson’s 6 Things to Consider presents its own concise list of reasons why to get an iPhone and why wait before getting one.