In the cloud? What if it all goes up in smoke? The case of my missing phone numbers

LAST Thursday, I got the phone number of an elementary school friend I haven’t had contact with in more than a decade. After saving the contact info in the cellphone I am currently testing, a Nokia 5800, I immediately synchronized my phonebook with Zyb.

Zyb is a web-based service that stores your contact data. It has social networking features that plug into such sites as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

But Zyb’s core function is to make sure you have an updated (and backed up) copy of all your contact details. It is a very useful service especially when you get a new phone or use several units.

To make sure you always have the latest contact details of people, Zyb regularly reminds you to synchronize your phone book with its servers.

Synchronizing with Zyb
SYNCHRONIZING WITH ZYB. Zyb holds the latest copy of my phone contacts. The service regularly reminds you to synchronize your phonebook to make sure you have the latest copy of your phone contacts.

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Surfing the mobile Web in Siquijor, Dumaguete

I WAS bewitched by Elaine Page in the middle of the night in enchanting Siquijor Island.

Bothered by the grumbling of my stomach because I skipped dinner to catch up on sleep, I woke up bewildered at midnight.

It took me a minute to realize how I ended up where I was last Friday midnight—on a strange bed in an unfamiliar room at the center of Siquijor town in mystical Siquijor Island. I was invited by Smart to test the High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network it deployed late last year in Siquijor and Dumaguete City.

There are places where it would be fun to find yourself in at midnight. Siquijor is not one of them.

After a quick bite in what I suspect was the only open store at that time in the island—a Park ‘N Go bakery—I made of to explore the town. But less than a block on, I realized no one was up. And knowing where I was, I wasn’t so sure I’d be excited to see someone up that late.

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Manny Pacquiao tops RP searches in Google News

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao hogged local searches in Google News, according to the Google Zeitgeist 2008, the latest of of the web giant’s annual report of popular search terms.

Pacquiao, who recently defeated Oscar de la Hoya, is on the top three search terms, including one that appeared to be a misspelling of his name, for Google News local searches in the Philippines: 1. manny pacquiao, 2. pacquaio marquez fight, and 3. pacquiao diaz fight.

The gruesome RCBC bank robbery ranked 4th while ABS-CBN broadcaster Ces Drilon, who was kidnapped in June, ranked 5th. The phrase “sona 2008″ for President Arroyo’s state of the nation address ranked 6th.

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MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. Click on photo to enlarge.

Munisipyo Wi-Fi

I spent a day in Argao recently and was pleasantly surprised to find several dependable and free Wi-Fi hotspots. I was surprised because in Cebu City, free Wi-Fi access isn’t as widespread as they say it is in places such as Davao City.

Many shops, at least the last time I went warbiking or going around on a motorcycle to check for free Wi-Fi hotspots, just depend on the services of Globe and Airborne Access for their customers’ wireless Internet access.

MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. Click on photo to enlarge.

MUNISIPYO WI-FI. A man browses the Internet at the Argao town plaza. The Municipal Government turned the Spanish-era pueblo into a free wireless Internet zone last year. 

But not Argao.

The municipal government has turned it’s beautiful plaza into a free Wi-Fi zone. There you are—surrounded by Spanish-era buildings, three cannons once used to fight pirates, beautiful masonry, and music that comes from cleverly-hidden speakers—and you have free high-speed wireless Internet access.

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Reporter’s notebook

I finally got my Asus Eee PC last Wednesday. It has, since then, replaced my main writing gear: an MSI S260 laptop running on Ubuntu Linux.

Several reporters and editors in Sun.Star Cebu had wanted to purchase an Eee PC since the start of the year but we couldn’t get a supplier with enough stocks to provide the initial 10 purchases. Cebu shops, I was told repeatedly, had waiting lists for purchases.

Asus Eee PC, Moleskine, Sony Ericsson P1i TRULY MOBILE OFFICE. Trying to beat a column deadline using the Asus Eee PC in a beachsite resort in Argao. These are my mobile work tools: the Asus Eee PC, a Moleskine reporter’s notebook, and a Sony Ericsson P1i. Click on photo to enlarge.

The two boxes of Asus Eee PC arrived at the office last Wednesday. We got the 4G model. I chose the pearl white version but at the back of my mind, I was still thinking of the Lush Green version of the 2G model.

For such a small device, the Asus Eee PC packs a formidable arsenal: Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, 3 USB ports, a built-in webcam (4G and 8G models), a VGA port for external displays, built-in stereo speakers and a microphone, and a built-in MMC/SD card reader. Any more feature and it could probably write a story for you. But it’s best feature, I think, is that it runs on Linux.

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Using WordPress as CMS of news, magazine sites redux

My redesign of Cebu Living, an online magazine on Cebu, is now live. Check it out. It’s using a WordPress theme for news and magazine websites. The new theme still needs a lot of work but if you want to try it out, you can do an anonymous svn checkout: svn checkout http://svn2.assembla.com/svn/cebulivingmagazine. Just go through the template files and see what needs to be changed for your site. I promise a commented version of the template files soon.

Unlike the previous Cebu Living theme, which I ported from an open source CSS/XHTML design, I built this new one from scratch. And it shows. I’m not a designer, in fact, I’m bad at designs. But the new theme incorporates elements I, as publisher, wanted from a site run as an e-zine and using WordPress as content management system (CMS).

I will be releasing the theme as soon as I finalize it. If you have comments on the new design, please leave it in this post or send it as an e-mail so that I can consider incorporating it in the theme.

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DocSyncer updates service: You can now choose which folders to synchronize

DocSyncer, a service that synchronizes Microsoft Office documents in your computer with your Google Docs account, has just updated its application to allow you to choose which folders should be synchronized.

When I first tested it (read the previous post), it immediately synchronized all compatible files in the desktop and the My Documents folder. It offered no interface to designate which folders or files to synchronize with your Google Docs account. I found this lack of control unnerving.

But when I opened the DocSyncer application late yesterday afternoon, the list of folders now had an edit button. The edit interface allows you to specify which folders, in the desktop and My Documents folder, will be synchronized.

The change is a tremendous usability improvement.

docsyncer4
CHOOSING FOLDERS. DocSyncer now allows you to specify which folders, in the desktop and My Documents folder, should be synchronized with your Google Docs account.

Synchronize Microsoft Office documents with Google Docs using DocSyncer

I finally got an invitation to try out DocSyncer, a service that allows you to automatically synchronize Microsoft Office files in your PC—documents, presentations, and spreadsheets—with your Google Docs account.

DocSyncer DOCSYNCER. The service synchronizes your Microsoft Office documents with your Google Docs account. It’s still being tested and far from being a dependable day-to-day application. But you should bookmark DocSyncer as it holds a lot of promise. Click on photo to view larger image.

The service is still in beta but DocSyncer holds a lot of promise. I tried it out for close to two hours last night and found that it’s not quite ready for daily use. It is, after all, still in beta or testing phase.

What’s evident when you try the service is the lack of user control over such things as designating which directories to synchronize and refreshing the list of files due for synchronization.

When I first ran the software that you download to work with the service, it immediately synchronized all Power Point files, Word documents in .doc format, and Excel files contained in My Documents folder as well as the desktop. It did not ask me to specify which folder to synchronize with my Google Docs account. (This has changed in the latest DocSyncer update)

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Sony Ericsson unveils the K660: ‘engineered for mobile Internet’

Sony Ericsson has unveiled a phone that I’m sure will give second thoughts to those already set on upgrading units this Christmas. The company announced earlier this month the coming availability of the Sony Ericsson K660, a phone that the company said was engineered for the mobile Internet.

The phone will only be available early next year so you might want to postpone your Christmas phone upgrade by a month or two.

k660i FUNKY COLOR FOR A COOL PHONE. The lime on white version of the Sony Ericsson K660i, an HSDPA-enable phone that has been engineered for the mobile Internet. Click on photo to enlarge.

The K660, which will be marketed as the K660i in the Asia-Pacific region, is an HSDPA-enabled phone. The phone can access so-called “mobile broadband” networks that offer higher connection speeds. This not only makes browsing on the phone faster, it also makes it a good laptop accessory—as mobile modem.

I don’t know how wide HSDPA coverage is in Cebu but in my previous experience with PLDT WeRoam, I got strong and consistent HSDPA signals within downtown and mid-town Cebu City areas. I got a consistent GPRS speed at home in Lapu-Lapu City but this was a few months back. I suspect things have improved since then, based on my wife’s experience with using her Sony Ericsson K800i as modem.

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Wi-Fi piggybacking widespread, anti-virus firm warns

While setting up a Wi-Fi network for the PLDT myDSL connection at home earlier this week, I got a timely warning from a press release. Anti-virus company Sophos said many people now use someone else’s wireless Internet connection without their permission.

Sophos said 54 percent of 560 respondents who took their online survey admitted to using other people’s Wi-Fi connection without their permission. The survey is not scientific and I don’t see how you can see a “widespread” trend from it. But it does provide a timely warning to home users who have gone wireless.

Sophos said “many Internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbors to steal Internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) for their own.”

I don’t know how common Wi-Fi piggybacking is in Cebu or in the Philippines, save for anecdotal feedback from geeks I know. I’ve heard of maybe three persons who said they were able to use an unsecured wireless network.

Still, the absence of reports should not be a reason to be complacent and just leave your home Wi-Fi network unsecured. This absence of reports may be because none have been caught.

And with more mobile devices like phones having the capability to use Wi-Fi, the risk will only get higher.

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