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Free services Highlights Mobile

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.

Categories
free software Highlights Internet Open source WebTech

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.

Categories
Highlights Internet Mobile Personal

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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Mobile Personal

Judging people by their phones

What’s your phone? Mine’s a Sony Ericsson and, according to a survey by Nielsen Media Research, I’m likely to be an ambitious, success-driven, professional, and individualistic young man.

Nielsen Media Research, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, found in a survey in Australia that certain customer types were attracted to certain phone brands.

I’d like to believe I fit the profile of the group that showed an inclination towards Sony Ericsson. I certainly am ambitious. At 31, I can still be young, depending on which side of the age line you are on. I’m also deeply individualistic although I make it a point to do more than my share in a team.

According to the same survey, Nokia users are likely to be family-minded, balance-seekers, health-conscious middle managers. Motorola users, according to the study, are likely to be fashion conscious, fun seekers, under 24, and individualistic.

Categories
Free services Highlights Internet Journalism Mobile Newsroom tech

Turn your mobile phone into a document scanner with Scanr app

I would give anything to have had this Scanr tool a decade ago when, as a beat reporter, I had to frequently photocopy documents for news stories. When I was still covering the Cebu City Hall beat, I did a series of news reports that exposed illegal collection of fees and various other transactions disallowed by government auditors. These stories were from documents officials never intended to be released to the media.

Scanr mobile application STEP 1. Scan the document using your phone camera. Fill as much of the phone screen with the document you want processed. Click on photo to view larger image.

I had a City Hall source whom I befriended after weeks of offering free cigarettes (there, smoking can do something good) at the hallway. We became such good cigarette break friends that I started asking him for documents officials did not want released.

How to use scanr STEP 2. Start the application. It will open with an image gallery. Browse the photos and look for the images you want processed. Click on photo for larger image.

The source would alert me during our cigarette breaks whenever a document I requested was already available. I’d then go to the press room, get a brown envelope, go to the comfort room and get the documents from him. I’d then rush to the photocopier and, while chewing on my nails, wait for her to finish copying the papers. I’d then go back to the City Hall comfort room and then return the papers.

Using scanr to scan documents STEP 3. Click on a photo and mark whether it is a document, business card, or a whiteboard snapshot. Click on photo to view larger image.

In one of these exchanges, I panicked because the source said I should return the papers immediately but I wasn’t able to find a vacant copier near City Hall. I had to cross several blocks.

Looking back while playing with Scanr these past days made me think how easier things might have been for me using the service and its mobile application.

Categories
free software Mobile Open source

Manage songs in your phone, mp3 player with Songbird

ITunes locks out other devices by limiting synchronization only to iPods and other Apple-approved devices. There are third-party software you can use to be able to manage songs in your phone or non-iPod mp3 player using iTunes but these applications can be complicated to install or tedious to use.

songbird and sony ericsson k750i SONGBIRD, K750i. The transfer queue of music files being sent to my Sony Ericsson K750i. Songbird allows you to manage songs in your phone and music players. Click to view larger image.

I’ve long stayed away from using iTunes to manage songs in my Sony Ericsson K750i because I do not like the way it organizes files in the phone’s memory card. I also do not like the way iTunes locks out other players. For a long time, I’ve been using MediaMonkey to manage songs in my phone.

Still, at the back of my mind and figuring consistently in my to-do list, I’ve always wanted to try using the open source media player Songbird with my K750i. But for a long time, the “developer preview” label on the Songbird download link put me off from trying it. That label gives an impression of being unstable that only developers should try using it.

Categories
cebu news Mobile

Sony Ericsson unveils W200i, W610i, and W880i in Cebu

For a confessed Sony Ericsson fan boy, last Thursday’s unveiling of new Sony Ericsson models was a slice of heaven for me. The company launched three new Walkman phone models–the W200i, W610i, and W880i. The phones are expected to be available in the Philippines by the second quarter of this year.

Sony Ericsson w880i SEXY. I thought to myself during the presentation of the phone by this drop-phone-and-say-hello-gorgeous model that if a booming voice from up there were to suddenly say “Max, you have been a good boy these past few months. As reward, you can pick either the phone or the model to take home with you tonight,” I’d pick the phone anytime. It is that sexy. Click on photo to view larger image.

I normally don’t get to attend launchings, they’re either too early–morning and lunch events–or too late–evening affairs–for me. But last week, I swapped news desk tasks with a colleague just to attend the event. When I got there, the event hadn’t started yet and I got to talk to Sony Ericsson officials about their products. One, in particular, warned me against converting my K750i into a W800i, a task I’m 90 percent bent on performing. “Huwag!!!? (No!!!!) was what she said, but that’s for another post.

Of the three phones launched, the cheapest is the W200i. It is marketed as a “Walkman phone for everyone,? an entry-level music mobile.

The W200i is a tri-band phone that does all the things a modern phone does: send SMS, MMS, take photos (but with only a VGA camera, but what do you expect, it’s an entry-level phone for crying out loud), play games and a host of other multi-media phone functions.

Categories
Highlights Internet Personal

Re-installing my life: the perils of keeping everything online

For more than a year, I have been moving my data online as part of an experiment to make the network my computer. With the telecoms disruption caused by a recent earthquake in Taiwan, my world crashed.

As I write this, the Globelines Broadband connection I have at home is still horrendously slow. It is a 7.8 mbps line to nowhere. I was giddy upon seeing for the first time the notification that my connection to Globelines is 7.8 mbps (it used to say 2 mbps). Now, the notice feels like a taunt.

It takes about as much time to load pages with Globelines Broadband right now as it would take a Sinulog contingent to finish a dance. To say the connection is as slow as molasses would be to overstate the viscosity of the substance.

It was a good thing that I use Gmail for mobile application in my phone, a Sony Ericsson k750i using a Smart pre-paid subscription. I can open my GMail messages faster on my phone than I could using Globelines in my home PC. Half of the time, I couldn’t even get past the Gmail login screen when I use the Globelines connection.

Categories
Mobile

15 days with the Treo 680 smartphone

I’ve been asked to review the Palm Treo 680. I got the unit yesterday from Microwarehouse and I’ll be testing it until I return the unit in the first week of February.

An official from Microwarehouse approached our executive editor weeks back asking her whether I would accept requests for reviews. Let me just spell it out here. I love trying gadgets and would be happy to review products provided that you give me enough time to tinker with it. Microwarehouse lent me the unit for 15 days.

Microwarehouse didn’t provide any restrictions. I asked whether I’d be allowed to install applications to really test the unit and they said yes. And what’s even better, Microwarehouse did not call me (we never even talked, they arranged it with my editor) to ask questions or offer “suggestions” about the article.

treo 680 TEST UNIT. The Palm Treo 680 I will be testing in the next 15 days. Click on photo to enlarge.

At the outset, let me just say that I am a Sony Ericsson fan boy. I’ve been using Sony Ericsson phones for years and love the way its units work and how you can use third party applications (even open source ones) with it. For me, mobility bliss is Sony Ericsson plus Float’s Mobile Agent-now there’s a lethal getting things done combination.

Categories
Blogs Personal

Looking back

I started 2006 with a massive traffic spike when Lifehacker linked to two of my posts: how to color-code tasks in Backpackit using The Printable CEO as guide, and how to get things done faster on your phone by using Float’s Mobile Agent. Since then, my site’s traffic has tripled and certain posts have been to the front pages of Digg once and del.icio.us thrice.

I blog because I want to improve my writing. Instead of the notebook writing coaches tell you to keep for regular jottings, I keep a blog. My measure for success is simple: once in a while I’d go over old posts and see how I would have written it better. I’d spot passages that could be sharpened, details that could be clarified and grammatical errors that could be corrected.

But blogging, being the medium that it is, provides a lot of bonuses. I’ve gotten feedback, through this blog, that helped me improve my writing and technical skills. Comments have pointed me to scripts and programs related to my field of interest: content management systems. Blogging has also brought me into contact with people whom I share an interest with.