Business cards 2.0 with mobile phone codes

Mobile phone codes such as semacodes and QR for “quick response” codes allow you to to embed data such as SMS messages, phone numbers, and URLs into images of square patterns.

qr codes business card HYPERLINKED BUSINESS CARD. This mobile code is linked to my blog address. I’m planning to have this printed at the back of my business cards. Click on image to view larger version. You can try scanning it if you already have a mobile code scanner installed in your phone

These codes add interactivity to previously static media such as newspapers, magazines, posters and even business cards. Newspapers, for example, can publish mobiles codes beside movie and TV schedules to allow readers to download the information. I wrote, in my Sun.Star Cebu column for tomorrow, how newspapers can use mobile codes to add interactivity to their pages.

But one exciting aspect of the technology is the ability to embed more data into your business card or even “hyperlink” it to your blog.

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Spamming Charles Krauthammer

Last year I got a curious e-mail buried in the pile of auto-responses that clogged my inbox. Someone using a forged @limpag.com address not only sent spam to scores of poor souls all over the world, he or she also spammed Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer.

That spurred me into action. I use my limpag.com domain for my personal e-mail as well as that of immediate family members.

I initially used Windows Live Custom Domains to manage my limpag.com e-mails. But I, as well as other Limpags, didn’t use it much. For one, it came with the old Hotmail interface and while it promised a 25MB storage for non-US folks, we only got 2MB of inbox storage because you had to undergo a verification process in order to get the full 25MB.

When Google launched its Google Apps for domains, I immediately transferred e-mail service. Google Apps lets you manage your domain’s e-mails through GMail, and with it came excellent spam controls and a 2Gb of storage. It also offers such things as a shared online calendar as well as documents storage.

It was after the transfer that I noticed that spammers were forging e-mail addresses using my domain. My main limpag.com e-mail addresses was getting auto-replies indicating that spam messages, including e-mails with virus attachments, were being sent from @limpag.com addresses.

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Giving people Ubuntu envy

While preparing for my presentation to the staff of the Sun.Star website last week, I was a bit worried whether Ubuntu Feisty Fawn would detect and work with the office’s LCD projector.

I’m a stickler for backups. I finished my OpenOffice Impress presentation in the laptop and then converted it into a PowerPoint file. I then saved the file in my USB stick and phone’s memory card.

ubuntu presentation PRESENTING WITH UBUNTU. Demonstrating installation, maintenance, and upgrading of WordPress to Sun.Star website staff. Click on photo to enlarge.

My Ubuntu laptop runs an Apache, PHP, MySQL server for local web development and demonstration. I recreated an Apache server on my USB stick using UniformServer in case (dear God no!) I would be forced to use any of the Windows XP units of Sunnex, the department that runs the Sun.Star website.

Just in case I encountered problems, I did a web search for issues with Ubuntu and LCD projectors and then copied possible solutions for different problems. I assumed, correctly it turned out, I wouldn’t be able to access the Internet in the remote Camotes Island resort we were billeted in.

Come presentation time, I was crossing my fingers when I plugged the LCD projector cable into my laptop. I need not have worried. It worked flawlessly.

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Sun, sand, sea, and SEO

I spent two days last week in the paradise island of Camotes in Cebu for a talk on optimizing news websites for search engines and a training on using WordPress for the staff of Sunnex, the department that runs the Sun.Star website.

I’m the online editor of Sun.Star Cebu, a member of Sun.Star Network Online, and my role on the website is limited to overseeing updating of content for our paper’s website. I am not involved in the technical side of the website operations albeit I send suggestions once in a while. It might not be evident to outsiders but Sun.Star has different departments with different work cultures.

Camotes Island IT IS a testament to Camotes’ beauty that no matter how tiring and energy-sapping it was in the days leading to the seminar, we left the island wanting to come back immediately. Click on photo to enlarge.

For a long time, I’ve had a nagging suspicion that Sun.Star suffers from a Google penalty over something that is a result of a server configuration. I warned the staff about this before but did not have the evidence to back it up. I’d see it to be the case once in while when doing searches but I’ve never before had the chance to raise it to Sunnex.

Last week, I was able to confirm this while doing a search, for my presentation, to show the effect of a particular ‘negative crawling/ranking attribute.’ I don’t think I’m at a liberty to tell what this is but the solution is dead simple and the website should see substantial improvements in rankings and earnings if it’s able to fix this.

Last year, I suggested (and pissed off people who didn’t want “outsiders” to raise suggestions) a particular ad optimization tweak and made a bold prediction—that the Sun.Star website’s earnings will double if they follow my suggestion. I actually encountered resistance on that very simple ad optimization and was verbally abused. The earnings more than doubled since then. For my troubles, I’m now richer—but only in karma points in some online journalism heaven. They didn’t even have to spend for a lousy certificate or consume saliva to thank me for it.

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Ubuntu makes me work faster in Windows XP

My computing life has improved exponentially with Ubuntu that I try to spend as little time as possible in Windows XP in my office PC. My office PC needs to run Windows because the newsroom uses InDesign and Pagemaker to lay out pages.

I now work faster on Windows XP—faster because I want to get work I can only do there over with so that I can use Ubuntu for other tasks. I can’t have them on at the same time on my office desk because 1.) I was allotted only one LAN cable, 2) the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t cover my part of the office, and 3) I have to “reuse” (that’s a mild way of putting it) IP addresses to connect to the network.

I recently switched my blogging workhorse, an MSI s260, to an Ubuntu-only system after months of running Windows XP. I said in my post that I haven’t stopped saying “wow” up until I posted the article two days ago. Let me update you: wow, wow, and wow.

I haven’t been gushing this profusely since I met my wife. Ubuntu is such a wonderful operating system to use. As I write this post on AbiWord running full screen, Coldplay sings at the background while the system checks for updates. On my “browsing” virtual desktop, Firefox is downloading two files with more than ten websites opened in tabs.

Once in a while, I’d get the urge to rotate my desktop cube just for the heck of it and the playing of the song isn’t interrupted nor is the rendering of the four desktops jerky.

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Showing Windows the door

I’m now running Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta on my main blogging gear – an MSI S260 laptop – and I haven’t stopped saying “wow” since when I finished installing it late Monday night.

I’ve used Ubuntu before, but mainly as a local server and the experience can be summarized as: boot CD, choose server setup, follow on-screen instructions, configure settings, then connect from my Windows PC.

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn desktop MY NEW WORKSTATION. Ubuntu running on my main blogging gear, an MSI S260 laptop. Click on photo to view larger image.

I’ve never gotten around to using Ubuntu as a desktop despite a long standing entry in my to-do list to do just that. I’ve tried its live CD and tinkered with desktops installed with it but for a long time I lived in a Windows-centric world–office PC, home unit, and laptop. What has stopped me from using Ubuntu sooner is my dependence on such applications as Photoshop and InDesign for newsroom work.

I’ve also been set back by my reliance on the open source Float’s Mobile Agent (FMA) to manage my Sony Ericsson K750i. When I’m at the office, my phone is, more often than not, connected to the PC and being managed by FMA. I use the program to send, receive, and archive messages as well as manage my contacts and calendar entries. When I’m on the field, FMA saves me a lot of time sending messages while writing stories.

FMA currently runs only on Windows but I found an old post in the support forum that said a developer was able to make it run in Linux using Wine.

Last Monday, I decided to wipe out Windows from my laptop and use the Ubuntu Feisty Fawn beta release. The IT staff assigned to the newsroom suggested I use a dual-boot setup and retain a Windows partition but I was bent on having an Ubuntu-only system.

I’m no geek, and the only sudo I know ends with “ko” but with the holidays, I figured I’d have enough time to tinker with my laptop if the installation goes awry.

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Mobile e-mail on the high seas

There’s probably room enough for only 10 people on this islet of six trees (or shrubs) and a single hut.

Yet on this islet near Olango Island and for several kilometers near it, you can still connect to telecoms networks and send and receive text messages, make calls, and browse the mobile Internet. It boggles my mind when I thought I’d “get away from it all” during a trip to several islets yesterday that I was never out of range of the telecoms network.

Gmail on Sony Ericsson k750i E-MAIL ON THE HIGH SEAS. Checking Gmail on a boat in the middle of nowhere. Click on photo to enlarge image.

Up until two years back, I still heard of stories and jokes on how people on several areas of Cebu had to go to a certain spot or climb trees just to send and receive text messages. I seem to remember being told of connection problems in Olango.

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From Pigeon Rank to GMail Paper, you gotta love Google

Open GMail today and you’ll see a different front page. Google regularly posts updates to the GMail service, including the current storage space offered, on the front page. Today, the front page introduces what is purported to be a new product: GMail Paper.

GMail Paper, according to their April Fool’s joke page, is a free service that gives you a physical copy of your messages, delivered to your doorstep.

gmail paper GMAIL PAPER. The page is the latest of Google’s great April fool’s jokes. Click to view very large version.

The site says “the cost of postage is offset with the help of relevant, targeted, unobtrusive advertisements, which will appear on the back of your Gmail Paper prints in red, bold, 36 pt Helvetica. No pop-ups, no flashy animations—these are physically impossible in the paper medium.”

The page even has made up testimonials of beta users. Google really has funny April Fool’s jokes. Remember the Pigeon Rank several years back? But for sheer daring, I have to give it to the BBC Panorama staff who reported good spaghetti harvest because of a mild winter in 1957. The report even came with footage of a Swiss family harvesting pasta from spaghetti trees. After the broadcast, the BBC was swamped with calls inquiring on how they can grow their own spaghetti trees.

Winning in the Philippine Blog Awards

In 1997, someone told me I’ll never understand FTP. Last night, I won in the best technology blog category in the first-ever Philippine Blog Awards.

What difference a decade makes, huh?

The colleague who told me I won’t be able to grasp FTP probably never meant it as an insult. He was grumbling on being given the added task of sending magazine pages via FTP to the server of a Hong Kong-based company. He was right to grumble, imagine the upload speeds in 1998. I asked him what FTP was and I think he meant it to be a brush-off when he said I wouldn’t be able to understand it.

I’ve gotten more familiar with FTP, among other things, since then.

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