Judging people by their phones

What’s your phone? Mine’s a Sony Ericsson and, according to a survey by Nielsen Media Research, I’m likely to be an ambitious, success-driven, professional, and individualistic young man.

Nielsen Media Research, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, found in a survey in Australia that certain customer types were attracted to certain phone brands.

I’d like to believe I fit the profile of the group that showed an inclination towards Sony Ericsson. I certainly am ambitious. At 31, I can still be young, depending on which side of the age line you are on. I’m also deeply individualistic although I make it a point to do more than my share in a team.

According to the same survey, Nokia users are likely to be family-minded, balance-seekers, health-conscious middle managers. Motorola users, according to the study, are likely to be fashion conscious, fun seekers, under 24, and individualistic.

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Server monitoring site adds weekly e-mail reports

Mon.itor.us, a free service that monitors the availability of your web server, now sends weekly PDF reports on the uptime of your websites. The report provides a snapshot of the availability of your site within the week. The weekly PDF report seemed a recent addition to its already formidable lineup of services. This is still the second time I’ve received one.

web server availability report PDF REPORT. Mon.itor.us sends a weekly report on the availability of servers you are monitoring. Click on image to enlarge.

Of course, you can always go to your mon.itor.us account to view detailed statistics not only on your web server availability but also on response times. Mon.itor.us monitors web server performance from three different locations—Germany, Austria, and the United States.

Of all the free web server monitoring services I tried, mon.itor.us is the most consistent and dependable. It’s is usually the first to alert me whenever any of the sites I monitor is down. This means mon.itor.us checks availability more frequently than the other services.

Mon.itor.us also provides its users detailed records of the response times of web servers. You can view the response time of your site, from which country and on what hour of any given day since you signed up for its service.

I’ve previously written about how to use mon.itor.us to compare web hosting providers. I still continue monitoring blogs with Media Temple and Dreamhost to help me on my choice of company to sign up with. I’m currently on a shared server account with A Small Orange and I’m happy with its service. I’ve decided to sign up for another year with them, this time on a bigger plan.

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A meandering: Philippine blog awards, nostalgia, and The Ballad of Tom Jones

This blog is one of the finalists in the technology category of the first staging of the Philippine Blog Awards. I’d like to thank the people behind it for the honor. It may sound passé but it is indeed honor enough to be one of the finalists. Never mind winning, I’m up against great tech blogs.

One of the finalists is the blog of tech journalist Chin Wong of the Manila Standard Today. Of the three teachers in my Diploma in Online Journalism course, he was the best. It was under him that I wrote one of the articles I liked the most, which was printed in the Cebu Yearbook of Sun.Star Cebu.

His is the type of work you try to set as standard for your own.

The finals come as I got yet another warning from my web host that I’m nearing my bandwidth allocation. It seems I need to upgrade hosting plans again. A major headache of hosting your own blog is the technical work that comes with it. But this is the type of headache I welcome. I’d like to think I’m no masochist but I get obscene pleasure, at times, with technical problems.

What does not destroy my blog, server, PC, or phone, makes me wiser.

I have been blogging more lately, and my drafts of blog posts continue to grow. You can say I have found my blogging mojo. But I think it’s because of the lifting of a fog of gloom that had been over me for nine years.

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Turn your mobile phone into a document scanner with Scanr app

I would give anything to have had this Scanr tool a decade ago when, as a beat reporter, I had to frequently photocopy documents for news stories. When I was still covering the Cebu City Hall beat, I did a series of news reports that exposed illegal collection of fees and various other transactions disallowed by government auditors. These stories were from documents officials never intended to be released to the media.

Scanr mobile application STEP 1. Scan the document using your phone camera. Fill as much of the phone screen with the document you want processed. Click on photo to view larger image.

I had a City Hall source whom I befriended after weeks of offering free cigarettes (there, smoking can do something good) at the hallway. We became such good cigarette break friends that I started asking him for documents officials did not want released.

How to use scanr STEP 2. Start the application. It will open with an image gallery. Browse the photos and look for the images you want processed. Click on photo for larger image.

The source would alert me during our cigarette breaks whenever a document I requested was already available. I’d then go to the press room, get a brown envelope, go to the comfort room and get the documents from him. I’d then rush to the photocopier and, while chewing on my nails, wait for her to finish copying the papers. I’d then go back to the City Hall comfort room and then return the papers.

Using scanr to scan documents STEP 3. Click on a photo and mark whether it is a document, business card, or a whiteboard snapshot. Click on photo to view larger image.

In one of these exchanges, I panicked because the source said I should return the papers immediately but I wasn’t able to find a vacant copier near City Hall. I had to cross several blocks.

Looking back while playing with Scanr these past days made me think how easier things might have been for me using the service and its mobile application.

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Get unlimited photo storage with Zooomr

Photo sharing site Zooomr has removed the limits on the amount of photo you can upload and store in the site. Zooomr is currently undergoing transition to Mark III, a new version with over 250 new features and which offers users the ability to sell photographs and keep 90% of the sale.

zooomr NO LIMIT. Zooomr has removed storage limits for its users. The free photo storage site is currently undergoing transition to a new version. Click on photo to view larger image.

The transition to Mark III has been delayed but founder Kristopher Tate has decided to remove account limits, a move scheduled for Mark III.

If you post a lot of photos in your website or blog, it makes sense to host it with sites such as Flickr or Zooomr. If you host your blog or website in a shared web server, as I do, you run the risk of going over your web space quota in just a few months if you frequently post high-resolution photos.

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Manage songs in your phone, mp3 player with Songbird

ITunes locks out other devices by limiting synchronization only to iPods and other Apple-approved devices. There are third-party software you can use to be able to manage songs in your phone or non-iPod mp3 player using iTunes but these applications can be complicated to install or tedious to use.

songbird and sony ericsson k750i SONGBIRD, K750i. The transfer queue of music files being sent to my Sony Ericsson K750i. Songbird allows you to manage songs in your phone and music players. Click to view larger image.

I’ve long stayed away from using iTunes to manage songs in my Sony Ericsson K750i because I do not like the way it organizes files in the phone’s memory card. I also do not like the way iTunes locks out other players. For a long time, I’ve been using MediaMonkey to manage songs in my phone.

Still, at the back of my mind and figuring consistently in my to-do list, I’ve always wanted to try using the open source media player Songbird with my K750i. But for a long time, the “developer preview” label on the Songbird download link put me off from trying it. That label gives an impression of being unstable that only developers should try using it.

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Traffic, flood, crime data on your mobile phone

Apart from Bulacan State University’s Smart Phone Guard, the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) project that really piqued my interest in this year’s Innovation and Excellence Awards is Ateneo de Manila University’s Smart Safety Assistance (3S).

The system packages mobile services, using open source projects, into a system that offers people access, via a PC or mobile device, to data on traffic and road conditions, floods, and crime incidence.

3s project of Ateneo de Manila SMART SAFETY ASSISTANCE. Ted Angelo Chua, lead student of the team from Ateneo de Manila, explains to judges how 3S works. (photo by Smart PA)

Perhaps because it isn’t as visceral as the three winners, Ateneo de Manila missed a place in the top three. The 3S package is an excellent system, albeit more geared toward urban centers.

The 3S system centers on a web server that gathers traffic, crime, and flood data as well as video streams from cameras placed on major roads. The server then processes these data and makes it available via the Internet to a PC or phone. The server can also send the data as an MMS message and information as SMS message.

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Read this and weep

Here’s a quiz for you. Look at the photo below (don’t read the caption yet). Which is more expensive? Is it 1.) the street lamp on this road in Mandaue City in Cebu or 2.) the motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, and various other gadgets of my trade?

Here’s a hint: the lamp is part of the batch bought by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Cebu.

That hint was a giveaway, wasn’t it? That single lamppost, if you believe government officials, costs P224,600. The motorcycle costs, at a discounted cash purchase, P51,000. The laptop, again at a discounted purchase, costs P43,000.

mandaue lamppost STAGGERING PRICE. This lamppost on a street in Mandaue City, Cebu costs P224,600 per unit. More than double the cost of the parked motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, voice recorder, and various other digital accessories. Click on photo to enlarge.

Even if you include the digital camera, micro tape recorder, USB stick, and various laptop accessories in the bag, it still wouldn’t add up to half of the purchase price of that single lamppost.

That single lamppost costs more than a second-hand car. And that lamppost is not even the most expensive model. Anti-graft investigators at the Ombudsman-Visayas found models, installed in Mandaue City, costing more than P300,000 each.

Multiply this cost by the hundreds of units DPWH bought and the amount is staggering. It would have been enough to turn some of the posts into Wi-Fi access points and then roll out a municipal Wi-Fi system for Metro Cebu. That would have been a massive boost for Cebu tourism and commerce.

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End of the Affair

(Blogger’s note: This break-up post was written a couple of weeks back.)

We go way back, Globelines and I. More than 5 years, if I can recall correctly.

I signed up with the company before Globelines became what it is today, one of two giant telecommunications companies that dominate the country.

I signed up to what was then Islacom not only because I’m a sucker for underdogs but as personal protest against the single dominant carrier at that time, PLDT, and its move to meter local calls. When I signed up, I knew I would be using my phone more for Internet connection (via the Jurassic dial up service) than for calls and if PLDT were to meter local calls, I feared I’d be racking up huge bills.

PLDT myDSL I’M WITH HER. It’s goodbye Globelines Broadband and hello PLDT MyDSL.

PLDT eventually abandoned the move to meter all local calls. It, instead, offered a prepaid service that has become popular today.

But I stuck with Islacom, which became Innove, which became Globelines. I stuck with it even as it started to insist I pay a month in advance while I stood firm on paying only for services I’ve used.

This means that for February, Globelines bugs me in the middle of the month, to pay for the entire month’s billing cycle. I, on the other hand, insisted on paying only for my January bill. Maybe this is standard billing practice but I don’t encounter this with my cable company, electric utility and my subdivision’s water distributor.

Not even occasional notices of disconnection, which sometimes lay unopened in my office desk for weeks, forced me to pay a month in advance.

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Using mobile technology to control entry to houses, spy on intruders

Bulacan State University had the most number of entries to this year’s Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Award. The school’s Smart Phone Guard application took the top prize.

BSU could have taken the top two prizes had it combined its two home security projects: Smart LockInterCom and e-Spy Mobile Security. On its own, the two projects were good but not good enough to break into the top three.

The home security project that won second place, Smart House, was better than the two BSU projects individually in that it offered both security (alarms, SMS notifications) and convenience (turning lights and appliances on and off through SMS).

SMS controlled house CONTROLLED THROUGH SMS. The project model of Bulacan State University’s Smart LockInterCom. The system allows you to open and lock doors and windows using a Java application in your phone that provides a visual interface to the SMS commands. Click on photo to view larger image.

Smart LockInterCom allows people to open and close doors and windows in their houses using SMS. The team that created the system also created a Java application that simplifies the process in your cell phone. The Java application provides a visual representation of your house or office and you can just click on doors to either open or lock it. The application also indicates which doors are locked.

It is that Java application that differentiates the project from others like it. The second place winner, Systems Plus College Foundation, only created the security system and you had to control it by sending SMS codes.

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