Waze traffic GPS app

Waze app: how to use your phone to outsmart Cebu traffic

“IN 200 meters,” the Waze app on the phone said, “turn right.”

We were headed to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu and were near the Banilad flyover on our way to the IT Park when Waze, the driving application I was running on my phone, gave the direction to turn right.

Waze had determined, by going through its database of roads in Cebu and reports of traffic conditions sent in by users, that the quickest route for us was to go to that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall, pass through Camp Lapu-Lapu and a small side road and emerge on our way up to the hotel.

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Facebook Messenger on BlackBerry Z10

Google Chrome simplifies sideloading of Android apps to BlackBerry Z10

One of the key features of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that runs on newer devices like the Playbook, Z10 and Q10 is its ability to run some Android apps that have been converted into .bar files.

To install these apps, you need to “sideload” the files or transfer these to the phone via a laptop or desktop. If you’re on Windows, you can sideload the files using DDPB or VNBB10.

If you’re on a Mac, it used to be a bit more complicated to install Android apps and required that you type commands on the Terminal.

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HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Open source for the win

ON Christmas Eve, I cobbled together a network-attached storage (NAS) at home to enable everyone in our house to have a shared directory for school, work and personal files. This shared directory is also accessible from outside the house – like a rudimentary personal “cloud” for our family.

It wasn’t complicated — you can go to my blog for the article on the process — because the setup was a matter of connecting an old portable USB drive to a cheap CD-R King wireless router and setting things up using a visual interface.

The magic sauce in the setup is the Tomato firmware that runs on the router. Tomato is a Linux-based router firmware that allows you to manage your device on such things as filtering and setting quality of service rules for certain types of connections so that people browsing websites don’t experience crawling connection when someone downloads using a torrent.

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

HOME NAS SETUP. The CD-R King router CW-5356U runs the Tomato firmware that simplifies the setting up of a network-attached storage. (Photo by Max Limpag)

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Great-looking note-taking app for iPhone offered for free download

If you love old-school paper notebooks like Moleskine and use an iPhone, install Meernotes. The beautifully-designed app allows you to take down notes on your phone on an interface that mimics a paper notebook. It’s easy to use — you just tap on the screen and then type your notes.

Meernotes lets you take notes on your iPhone using an interface that mimics old-school paper notebooks. Click on photo to enlarge.

Meernotes lets you take notes on your iPhone using an interface that mimics old-school paper notebooks. Click on photo to enlarge.

Meernotes also allows you to insert photos into your notes by swiping up. You can then choose different frame designs for the photo.

The app allows you to keep several notebooks with various cover designs. Some of the designs, however, can only be used after you pay for upgrades.

Meernotes automatically synchronizes notes with your iCloud account. It also has Evernote export and Dropbox import/export capabilities.

Meernotes costs $.99 but is currently offered for free download.

matt

WordPress rides the open source juggernaut

Eight years after it was started by a 19-year-old college freshman as a blogging software, WordPress now powers 14.7 percent of the world’s top one million websites. It is used in 55 million websites.

In his annual State of The Word address last week, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg also said the open source content management system (CMS) now runs 22 out of every 100 new websites created in the US.

The velocity in WordPress adoption and its dominance illustrate the strength of the open source model, where the community is involved in the development of the software. It is not a coincidence that the top open source CMS packages today, WordPress and Drupal, also have the most active developer and user communities.

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address.

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Copyright? Try copyleft

STOP the “culture of copying” among Filipinos, Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Philippines Director General Ricardo Blancaflor said in his speech during the Cebu Creative Industries Summit on June 21.

Blancaflor pressed on the need to respect copyrights, saying creative industries rely on intellectual property.

Creative industries, he said, posted a yearly growth of 14 percent from 2002 to 2008. Blancaflor said the Philippines can compete with more developed countries through creative industries, which make full use of skills and talent.

Blancaflor makes a very important point. Software piracy, for example, is estimated at 69 percent in the country, accounting for $278 million in financial losses in 2010.

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Google Docs on Android in Samsung Galaxy Tab

In the cloud? What if it goes up in smoke?

I wrote this column in Google Docs, the Internet search giant’s free online office suite. I thumb-typed a rough outline on an Android device—a Samsung Galaxy Tab—before I finished the first draft on my favorite desktop, which runs Ubuntu Linux, and edited the final piece in my office PC, which runs Windows XP.

All the time that I worked intermittently on this article during free time from desk work, I did not know precisely the physical location of this digital file nor the number of its copies and iterations. All I knew was that it was in Google’s data centers–precisely where I do not know nor care.

Saving digital office files in the correct location is among the first things you are required to learn on the job, whatever the industry or the size of the company. In our newsroom, file location is something seared into your brain the very first day on the job. Unless you saved your article in the designated folder, editors cannot access your story in the modern-day filing tray called The Local Network.

Google Docs on Android in Samsung Galaxy Tab
Writing using Google Docs on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

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CSS cheat sheets as Android apps: stop taping printouts on your cubicle walls

I need to work with CSS/XHTML often enough that I’d need a reference but rarely enough to make me memorize the damned properties, selectors and syntax. I used to print out CSS/XHTML cheat sheets and tape these on my cubicle wall for easy reference whenever I was working on a website.

Just as I was about to print new cheat sheets to replace the torn and smudged copies that I had, I found handy and infinitely better references—two free Android apps.

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Have phone, will travel

IN the early morning of Feb. 5, I guided an experienced taxi driver to a nondescript and obscure hotel in Makati using Google Maps, GPS and my Android phone.

It was something almost right out of the movies—we were getting a real time rendering of where we were on the map (indicated by a moving blue dot) and using it to find our way through Isabelle Royale Hotel and Suites (I told you it was obscure).

On Feb. 4, I took the red-eye flight to Manila for the Condura Skyway Marathon with my wife, Marlen, and the kids. For that trip, I took copious notes of travel details in my phone, an LG P500 running Android Froyo, instead of the handy paper notebook I used to always keep with me.

Google Maps with GPS on Android Froyo in the LG P500

VIRTUAL GUIDE. Google Maps uses GPS to pinpoint my exact location on the map. Using the system, I was able to guide a taxi driver to an obscure hotel in Makati City.

I kept travel details in Springpad–a free notes-taking web service that has mobile clients for smartphones like the Android and the iPhone. Springpad is a really great web and mobile application that’s very useful for writing and organizing notes. I’ve used Springpad in my Android phone for more than a month and find it indispensable. I came to Springpad from Evernote, another free note-taking service with mobile clients. While both are great web services, I prefer Springpad because I find that it fits my workflow better.

Since we would be arriving in Manila at past midnight, Marlen and I were worried about finding our way to the hotel. Hours before our flight, I took a screengrab of the Google Maps rendering of the areas leading to Isabelle Royale Hotel and Suites intending to show it to the driver.

But the driver of our cab said he wasn’t that familiar with the place. I suspected he was feigning ignorance. I turned on Google Maps and GPS intending to to check where we were on the map so that we could find our way to the hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Google Maps renders your location in real time. I was connected to Smart’s HSPA (a high-speed mobile Internet network) network and the map tiles were downloading and rendering flawlessly—fast enough to keep up with us, as represented by that blue dot on the screen. Maybe I was just lucky or maybe the network wasn’t as congested because it was early in the morning (I encountered some lag in buffering maps data when I used it early in the afternoon two days after).

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Despite existence of open source products, many still use pirated software: CICT secretary

THE Philippines still lacks awareness of and support for free and open source software (FOSS), Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III said yesterday.

Chua, in his speech during the opening of the Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) early today, said that despite the existence of FOSS products, many Filipinos still use pirated software.

Philippine Open Source Summit OPEN SOURCE SUMMIT. The Philippine Open Source Summit at the Cebu International Convention Center. Click on photo to enlarge image.

“Regrettably, however, the more common option for many users is the purchase of pirated copies of proprietary software. There is, therefore, a need to bring open source to the awareness of users as a legitimate option and to provide the required support for its implementation,” Chua said.

Open source software are those released under a license that legalizes sharing of the application and building up on it. It got its name from the requirement of making the source code available with the software.

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