Student team uses mobile tech to speed up dengue detection, wins Smart Sweep grand prize

A student project that uses telecommunications technology to speed up the detection of dengue cases won the grand prize in last Wednesday’s 7th Smart Wireless Engineering and Education Program (Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Awards in the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia.

The student team from Bulacan State University (BSU) automated and sped up the detection of dengue through blood platelet counting using a portable capturing device that connected via mobile Internet to a digital analyzer machine.

Napoleon Nazareno and members of the Smart Sweep USC team

HIDDEN SENSORS. PLDT president Napoleon Nazareno checks the sensors that detect chainsaw sounds and trigger an alert to forestry officials in the booth of University of San Carlos. Click on image to enlarge. (SMART PUBLIC AFFAIRS PHOTO)

The project, 3D: Dengue Detecting Device, won P500,000 in cash through Smart Money for the student team led by Donn Angelo Teodoro and another P500,000 in grants for the school.

Holy Cross of Davao College, meanwhile, got 2nd place for its system that automatically alerts maritime authorities in cases of overloading of vessels. The system uses sensors to detect overloading of ships and then automatically warns authorities through text messages. The student team led by Bobby Jay Carmelotes won P300,000 in cash through Smart Money and another P300,000 in grants for their school.

Third place went to Batangas State University for its drip irrigation system that used GSM technology and various sensors. The Smart Farmbihira system is capable of automatically watering and fertilizing a plantation at a set time or manually through a text message. The system also notifies the farmer on the condition of the soil and the harvest time of the crop. With the win, the student team led by Josephine Medina got P150,000 in cash through Smart Money while the school won P150,000 in grants.

Smart also handed out a special innovation award to a University of Baguio project that used the force of vehicles passing through a street to generate electricity to light up street lamps. A Smart official said they decided to hand out the special award because the project was “so far out and ahead of its time.”

The three winning projects bested seven other entries from Smart’s partner schools all over the country.

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ümobile: ad-funded mobile network launches in Cebu

I attended the Cebu launch last May 24 of ümobile, the first advertising-funded mobile phone network in the country, and boy was it the loudest telecoms-related launch I’ve ever covered. It was the sexiest, too.

The launching was held in Club Vudu and by the time it ended, I knew more about what “Vudulicious” was than the details of ümobile that I had wanted to find out during the launch.

umobile change of numbersCHANGING YOUR MOBILE NUMBER. Ümobile allows its subscribers to change their mobile numbers by themselves in the company’s website. The first change of numbers is free, succeeding ones will be charged P50. Click on photo to view larger image.

The time indicated in the invitation—9 p.m.—and the venue told me it was going to be a launch party, with emphasis on the “party.” I was there at 9 p.m. and found Club Vudu still deserted but for ümobile staff doing last minute preparations. I asked one of them whether they would be holding a press briefing and was told none was scheduled. She did say one ümobile official would look for me later and answer my questions.

Fast forward one hour and a half.
umobile launch
UMOBILE PARTY. Vudulicious in Club Vudu. The umobile launch was the loudest telecoms-related launch I’ve ever attended. Click on photo to view an even larger image.

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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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A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

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Busted: Newspaper photo reveals married man’s affair

It was a picture of domestic bliss-a couple taking their child to a picnic in a public park in Cebu. The pair was laughing and appeared to enjoy an afternoon away from the demands of work and pressure of urban life.

The problem was the man wasn’t having a picnic with his legal family, he was spending time with his mistress. When his wife saw the photo in Sun.Star she had a heart attack (she’s okay or so the man says). The man called up the photographer to ask why he printed it when it was “obvious” that the woman was too young to be his wife. He also said he and his mistress had been able to hide the affair from the wife for so long “pwerte namong tago ani” (we really tried to keep this a secret).

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Bumps on the information superhighway

The Cebu Yearbook 2006 is out. Here’s part of the unedited article I submitted for publication:

One municipal government’s website in Visayas is being maintained by its meat inspector.

Frederick Amores, Visayas group head of the National Computer Center (NCC) Field Operations Office, could barely contain his laughter as he said this in an interview. The NCC was conducting a seminar for IT workers of local government units (LGUs) and Amores was checking the background of the participants when he saw the meat inspector’s bio-data.

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The art, and science, of power naps

I’ve long wanted to try taking programmed naps or power naps. Studies have indicated that there are health benefits to taking regular naps. The National Institutes of Health in the United States said “evidence is mounting that sleep – even a nap – appears to enhance information processing and learning.”

I don’t get a lot of sleep because of my work hours. Daytime sleep isn’t as satisfying and refreshing as normal overnight sleep. The noise during the day makes its way into your dreams. I once dreamt of being chased by people out to kill me and woke up to shouts of “Patya na!” (Kill him!). It was my neighbor’s teenage son shouting at the top of his voice to egg on Manny Pacquiao in his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

The remaining days of my vacation might be a good chance to try taking regular 20-minute naps.

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Smart takes down Addict Mobile portal; lesson to PR officers: monitor blogs

I discussed in my Cell.Talk column yesterday in Sun.Star Cebu the issue of pornographic images in Addict Mobile’s portal. I was surprised why the images were still up even days after PinoyTechBlog reported on it. It shows that the company does not monitor blogs.

I’m reprinting my column below. Yesterday, the central newsroom received an e-mail from an official of the company thanking me for raising the issue and informing me that the site has been taken down temporarily. I checked and it is indeed down.

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Manolo Quezon: Blogging is the salvation of print media

Manuel L. Quezon III is among the country’s top political bloggers. He describes himself as a “prototypical pajama blogger” working and blogging from home. During the House of Representatives’ vote on the committee reports dismissing the impeachment complaints against Arroyo, Manolo covered the proceedings from late afternoon until 4:00 a.m. when he collapsed in exhaustion. Below are transcripts of my email interview with Manolo for the “See it, hear it, blog it” article for Sun.Star Cebu during the Cebu Press Freedom Week.

Max: Professor Jay Rosen of the New York University said early this year that the question of bloggers vs. journalists is over. He says the “question now isn’t whether blogs can be journalism. They can be, sometimes. It isn’t whether bloggers “are” journalists. They apparently are, sometimes.” Do you agree with his statement? Do you see yourself as journalists in the mold of reporters producing original news content or more of opinion writers who comment on news items?

Manolo: In my particular case, I have always been an opinion writer (either as a columnist or editorial writer), or have delved into history. Whether history (examples would be my pieces on Edsa One or say, the American period) or reportage (reportage, to me, is a kind of literary form of the essay, I’ve been influenced in this view by Ryzsard Kapuzsinsky, by Tom Wolfe, Nick Joaquin, etc.), or opinion-writing, which includes both analysis and commentary (analysis is putting together events and circumstances to come up with an educated guess of future trends, or a prognosis on ongoing events; commentary is a synthesis of personal views and that of other people on a specific person or event).

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Newsroom babies

I brought Lennon to work last Sunday. He wouldn’t let go of his mother just as we were leaving for work so we had to bring him with us. His older brother, who says he cannot sleep without him at his side and vice versa, agreed when we explained we couldn’t take him with us because he had to wake up early the next day to make it to class on time.

The newsroom is a child-friendly environment to work in. Editors and reporters, at times, take their kids to work, especially during weekends. The newsroom also schedules an annual party for its employee’s children.

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Lennon listens to Dora the Explorer

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