Sun.Star Cebu mobile app

Learning to build mobile sites, from WAP to JQuery Mobile

Sun.Star Cebu mobile app

EASY, POWERFUL FRAMEWORK. JQuery Mobile allows non-programmers like me to easily and quickly build powerful mobile Web apps and sites. (Photo by Max Limpag)

About ten years ago, I built a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) mobile news site. This was at a time when the cellphone to aspire for was the Nokia 7110, a slider phone made even cooler when a similar device was used in the Matrix movie.

At that time, the Sun.Star website signed a content agreement with Smart for SMS and WAP news and they needed a WAP mobile site. Nobody among the website staff then knew how to build a WAP site. Being a sucker for always trying to learn new stuff, I volunteered to build it.

I finished the WAP site in time for the launch after a 3-day development marathon done after I finished my work at the Sun.Star Cebu copy desk, fueled by more than a pack of Marlboro reds a day (I was still a heavy smoker then) and guided by a phonebook-thick Wireless Markup Language (WML) reference for the Artus Netgate.

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WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. (Photo taken from the WhatsApp website)

Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Kik me, maybe

The headline screamed “install me now!” It was for yet another mobile messaging application and this time, one that promised, according to TechCrunch, “A Richer, Faster Messaging App That Quickly Grabs Doodles, Videos & Images.”

The article about MessageMe got me at: “It’s light, It’s fast and it isn’t just limited to texting or photos.”

I promptly opened the website and was invited to “experience the free messenger that everyone’s talking about.”

The app was quick to install and set up. After activating my account, it immediately scoured through my social networks to look for contacts already in the system. Of my 797 phone contacts, MessageMe was able to find only one who already signed up. One out of 797, imagine that. And that person signed up, I suspect, because he wrote about the service for a tech website. After a few days of checking whether other friends would sign up and seeing none, I uninstalled the app.

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Disruptive innovation and journalism

The idea is broadly misunderstood, said Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. Disruptive innovation isn’t just about being new, different or radical.

Disruptive innovation is transforming “something that used to be complicated and expensive so that only the rich and people with a lot of skill had access to it and could use it” and making it “so much more affordable, simple and accessible that a whole new population of people has ready access to it.”

Christensen is the authority on disruptive innovation and wrote “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a book that was said to have deeply influenced Steve Jobs, the epitome of a tech innovator.

Last year, Christensen, along with Nieman fellow David Skok and James Allworth collaborated on researching disruptive innovation in journalism. That paper became “Breaking News,” which you can download as an e-book.

David Skok, Clay Christensen and Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski during their discussion disruptive innovation and journalism. (Screen grab from NiemanLab website)

David Skok, Clay Christensen and Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski during their discussion disruptive innovation and journalism. (Screengrab from NiemanLab website)

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Student project that lets you monitor, control lights, appliances via phone wins SWEEP awards

A SYSTEM that allows homeowners to monitor and control lights and electrical appliances in their homes from anywhere via mobile technology won the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards last Thursday in Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

Colegio De San Juan Letran’s SMS.AWT: Switching and Monitoring System Using Android in Wireless Technology was picked the best among the 10 finalists that made it to the finals of the nationwide search for student applications with the theme “Technology in Nation-Building.”

The student team, led by 5th year computer engineering student Frances Marie Kagahastian, won P500,000 in cash and an equivalent amount in grants for the school. The team won an additional P50,000 for the Ericsson Networked Society Award.

Frances Marie Kagahastian of Colegio De San Juan Letran receives her award for winning the top prize in the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards. With her are (from left) PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto, PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT and Smart chairman Manny Pangilinan, her teacher-mentor, an official from the Department of Science and Technology, PLDT and Smart technology head Rolando Peña and technology group head Mar Tamayo. (Photo provided by Smart)

Frances Marie Kagahastian of Colegio De San Juan Letran receives her award for winning the top prize in the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards. With her are (from left) PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto, PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT and Smart chairman Manny Pangilinan, her teacher-mentor, an official from the Department of Science and Technology, PLDT and Smart technology head Rolando Peña and technology group head Mar Tamayo. (Photo provided by Smart)

Kagahastian, who said her dream was only to be featured in a tarpaulin banner in their school, said she was overwhelmed by the victory. It was the first time her school joined the contest.

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Going mobile

In the recent Olympics, smartphones and tablets took a more central role in providing people more information about the games, Google said in a report.

Google said there were times when more searches were “performed on tablets and smartphones than on computers.”

The search giant said they’ve been seeing “large spikes in global mobile search volume” in major sporting events and the trend continued with Olympics.

And one key usage of smartphones and tablets spotted by Google is to serve as second screen to get information on what they were seeing on another screen – the television.

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NOT JUST DATA PIPE. PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan speaks to shareholders during the company's annual stockholders' meeting. Pangilinan said PLDT must "move firmly into social media, social networking and Internet spaces before they move into ours and eat our lunch." (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Next frontier lies in media space: MVP

PLDT will not just be an Internet pipe for data, chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told shareholders during a meeting Thursday afternoon in Dusit Thani hotel in Makati City.

The company needs to “move firmly into social media, social networking and Internet spaces before they move into ours and eat our lunch,” Pangilinan told the company’s shareholders and officials.

“Innovation and competition will not only come from telcos like ourselves but also from ‘over the top’ players belonging to the Internet space like Facebook, Google, Apple and YouTube, which actually compete with us,” he said.

He later told reporters who interviewed him at the venue, “margins are getting depressed by staying purely as a distribution company, as an infrastructure company… We have to be something more than that.”

“And really the next frontier lies in the media space — both in the legacy and in the new media space. And how you will blend the telco, utility operations with the creative part of social media is a big challenge. Nobody has been successful yet,” he said.

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WEAVING A PUSO. Marco Albeza learns how to weave a puso, a Cebuano favorite, as one of the tasks of the Gabii Sa Kabilin QR Code Hunt organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Smart Communications, Inc. and MyCebu.ph. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Using technology to preserve, spread heritage

Gabii sa Kabilin or Night of Heritage offered Cebuanos last Friday the opportunity to visit museums and heritage areas until midnight. The yearly activity was started in 2006 by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (Rafi) and patterned after the Long Night of Museums in Germany.

This year, however, the event had a tech twist – Rafi, Smart Communications Inc. and MyCebu.ph staged a QR (quick response) code hunt that brought teams to the different heritage areas in the city. (Disclosure: My wife and I run MyCebu.ph and are deeply involved in all the projects mentioned in this article.)

The QR Code hunt gathered teams of journalists, bloggers, students, runners, police and tech workers. They had to scan QR codes to decipher tasks they were required to do in heritage areas – learn how to offer flowers to the Buddha, sing Matud Nila, weave puso, find a painting, among other things. They then had to perform the tasks and upload photos as well as post in social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

WEAVING A PUSO. Marco Albeza learns how to weave a puso, a Cebuano favorite, as one of the tasks of the Gabii Sa Kabilin QR Code Hunt organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Smart Communications, Inc. and MyCebu.ph. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

WEAVING A PUSO. Marco Albeza learns how to weave a puso, a Cebuano favorite, as one of the tasks of the Gabii Sa Kabilin QR Code Hunt organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Smart Communications, Inc. and MyCebu.ph. Marco's team won third runner up and he and his teammate took home a Nokia Lumia. (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

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Writing, reading and mobile devices

GOOD Web writing is non-linear. It takes advantage of the key technology behind the Internet—the hyperlink—to provide context, additional information and even marginalia.

It is “writing for selfish readers,” as usability expert Jakob Nielsen puts it.

Web readers have so many sites and services competing for their attention they barely have time to read your article.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Nielsen says that in the linear writing of print and TV, readers and viewers expect the author “to construct their experience for them.” In the non-linear character of hypertext-driven writing, users “construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources.”

If another fire were to break out in Cebu, an article written in a non-linear, hypertext manner would just mention that it would be the 10th blaze in recent days, with that phrase hyperlinked to archives of previous stories of the fires. Writing the article that way presents the reader with the option of clicking the link for more background information on the fires or ignoring it if the reader already knows about the previous incidents.

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Quick review: Article sharing with Facebook, Google+

Google opened to limited testing earlier this week its latest social networking service. Google+. What immediately catches your attention when using the service is its stark simple and yet beautiful interface. It makes Facebook look like MySpace, said blogger Ron Galloway.

Although Google is still actively developing the service (Googlers are directly engaging with users giving feedback on Google+) , I like what I see. So much so that I started campaigning with the running group that I co-founded, the Ungo Runners, so that we could possibly migrate there.

The huddle feature, which I still have to test, makes me drool at the possibility of uses on organizing group runs on-the-fly. It’s mentioned in this review by CNN’s Amy Gahran. But we all know this isn’t likely to happen soon (think of how long it took many of your friends to transfer from Friendster).

One major activity in online social networking is the sharing of articles and Google+ almost does it as well as Facebook. With bookmark services and applications still not supporting Google+ and with most websites still not using the +1 button, you have to cut and paste URLs into Google+.

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Globe denies throttling peer-to-peer traffic, works to normalize downloads

Globe has denied implementing any bandwidth capping for peer-to-peer downloads. The company said in a press statement that it is working to restore downloading through peer-to-peer applications in Globe Broadband. It also said, however, that the company will consider limiting bandwidth if it detects “abusive usage.”

“You may experience slow downloading using peer-to-peer applications. Restoration is currently ongoing. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you. Rest assured that steps are already being taken so that the service will normalize the soonest possible time. Thank you for bearing with us,” Globe said in a press statement.

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