Category: Tech


Drawing the shutters on Windows

Windows has been completely eliminated from my computing life.  Due to certain legalities, IT has switched many of the PCs in the office to Linux (Ubuntu).  I was apprehensive at first since it’s a totally new operating system for me, something I’ve never even remotely handled before.  There was also very little warning and preparation therefore no learning time.  We just dived in.  And man, it’s been fun – geeky fun. 😀

It’s fun for me as a native Mac user since it’s a lot similar to OS X.  I’m actually finding it easier to use – and prettier – than Windows!  There’s word going around here that the OS switch may just be temporary, but I’ll request to be kept on Ubuntu.

Ok, enough tech talk for today.

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TweetDeck

My new online desktop toy. 😀

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I love this!  Another time-waster, haha!  I downloaded it to use for work – really! But of course I had to test it on my accounts first. 😛  Seriously now, I’m going to add our brand’s Twitter and Facebook accounts as soon as we get them in shape.

For those still not aware of what TweetDeck is, check out their website.

@gypsypen

Yes, I am now tweeting.  There’s a Twitter widget on the sidebar.  It took a while for me to get the hang of it, but now, darn it, it’s starting to get addictive!  I forced myself to study and use Twitter because it’s part of my job (nice, huh? 😀 ).  My boss has been asking me forever what makes it tick, and for some time I was also as puzzled as he is – I couldn’t find enough motivation to log in and update regularly.  Well that stopped yesterday.

Most of my friends lead analog lives, with email and Facebook their only concessions to digital connectivity, so there goes that purpose for my Twitter account.  I use it primarily for stalking, haha!  Kidding…sort of.  I’m using it as sort of a feed reader to keep updated on all my favorites.  Of course it would be nicer if more of my favorite friends would tweet.

My boss still thinks it’s a fad, and some part of me agrees with him, but let’s see.

Presenting my pet project…

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Application Description:

Ever found yourself pressed for time, yet still wanting to prepare delicious and healthy meals? Want a different way of serving regular desserts and drinks? Then the Eat Rich Quick cookbook series is for you. Eat Rich Quick presents flavorful, easy-to-prepare recipes that don’t require long hours in the kitchen. Watch out for different themes in succeeding volumes.

Eat Rich Quick 1 is labeled “The Cheater’s Guide to Eating Well”. This application contains recipes that allow you to save time and energy; and when you serve the food, the others in the table won’t even have a clue about how quick it took you to prepare it. You can choose from 14 different recipes, ranging from appetizers to desserts. All the recipes are stored right in the application so you can access them anytime; no need for a wi-fi connection.

Eat Rich Quick also contains these other features for a more informative and interactive experience:

» Food shots (including some step-by-step images) – Tap to enlarge
» Cook’s Notes – Tips and tricks from the author
» Grocery List – Check-box feature to help you while shopping
» Cooks’ Community – Email the author or visit the blog to post comments, get more cooking tips, and see what other Eat Rich Quick users are saying

Enjoy cooking, and watch out for the next volume of the Eat Rich Quick series!

I loved doing this project!  I enjoyed working on the interface with the graphic designer and the developer, as well as with the author.  It was also nerve-wracking since it was our first time to come up with something like this.  There were plenty of bumps in the road, but finally seeing it on the App Store and seeing the download statistics were all worth it.  We’re still seeing a lot of things to improve, but this version’s not bad.  I would say it’s great, but then again, it’s my baby, so I’ll leave it to the users to decide.

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597603 One of the iPhone/iPod Touch comics apps our company has been developing is finally up for sale ($0.99) at the iTunes store.

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Here’s the description of the series:

From the Dead
Written and Drawn by Jonas Diego

When strange murders started happening all over the city the mysterious organization known only as “The Foundation” turns to their best operative, Frank to help them clean up the mess and solve the problem. The only problem is that Frank’s been retired for many years and less than enthusiastic about going back to work for his former employers.

The Foundation however has ways and means to convince him to take the case.

Having no choice in the matter he takes the case hoping to close it quickly and get The Foundation off his back.

Frank’s only lead is an informant belonging to a cult who could possibly shed some light on his case and point him in the right direction.

Things take a turn for the worse when his beautiful contact appears from nowhere, out of her mind, and being chased by monsters…which is about one of the worse things that could happen to Frank.

Because one of his few weaknesses are damsels in distress…

Though this is not the first iPhone app developed in the Philippines (I believe it’s iManila), this is the first comics and the first that is also relevant to the international market.

For now, we’re focusing on e-book applications.  Next up (pending approval from Apple) will be the e-cookbooks – my pet project, yey! 😀

Calling on Filipino authors…if you have interesting e-book ideas, please get in touch with me through this blog.  Leave your email address on the comment box (I won’t publish them) and I’ll contact you for the terms and conditions.

G1

Ah…one of the perks of working for a mobile technology company.  I got to play with the G1 phone, which runs on Google’s Android mobile operating system.  The verdict?  Hmm…not quite the iPhone-killer yet.  In fact, I mostly do not like it.

The Phone

  • The phone itself is thicker and heavier than I expected.
  • The swivel-flip keyboard doesn’t look and feel sturdy enough.  All of us who played with the phone felt paranoid that one-half of it would go flying off if we’re not very, very careful with flipping, hehe.
  • The touch screen is not as sensitive as the one on the iPhone.  There were occasions when I had to slide or tap my fingers several times to get the screen to move.

The Interface

  • The orientation doesn’t turn to landscape when the phone is tilted sideways!  You have to flip out the keyboard even if you’re not actually going to use it.  Huh?!
  • There are no next-page indicators in the Home screen, unlike those discreet little dots at the bottom of the screen in the iPhone.  So, it’s up to the user to discover that there IS a next page.
  • Typing a new URL in the browser’s address bar is a pain!  Step 1: Flip out keyboard.  Step 2:  Press ‘Menu’.  Step 3:  Tap ‘Go to URL’ button on the touch screen  Step 4:  Type URL  Step 5:  Press ‘Enter’.  5 steps!  Why, oh why, can’t we just tap the address bar?
  • There’s no virtual keyboard

However, here are a couple of things I like:

  • Texting is easier with the keyboard.  Hehe, somehow I still can’t get used to iPhone-style texting.
  • Design-wise, I like the UI.

We haven’t downloaded any apps yet, and I haven’t tried all the other functions.  I mostly just explored the interface.  In spite of my gripes above, I think the phone and operating system have great potential and will be better after couple of versions/updates.

The next mobile gadget we’re most likely to get is Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.  I can’t wait to explore that one!

And the tradition ends…

…with not quite a bang. No new desktop Mac! And no new product. No surprise Steve Jobs appearance either. A new Mac mini was expected, but nada! I was really disappointed about that. Since it was Apple’s last participation at the Macworld Expo, I seriously contemplated participating in a time-honored Philmug tradition – staying awake for the keynote (which starts at around 1am Manila time), tuning in to the live blogs, and sharing reactions in the forum. But the thought of the very hectic work day ahead got the better of me.

The product announcement I loved best was the Mac Box Set.

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iLife ’09, iWork ’09, and Mac OS X Leopard all in one neat package! It costs $169, but for us in the Philippines, it’s P9,890 at the Apple Online Store. I’m hoping the Authorized Re-sellers would have a lower price, like they do with Leopard. The box set has huge savings, considering the total cost if the three are bought separately.

I haven’t been able to upgrade to Leopard yet since all the re-sellers have been out of stock and I couldn’t bring myself to shell out an additional 1k by getting it at the Online Store. It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise! Now I can also get the latest iLife and iWork at a fraction of the cost. However, there’s a dilemma. iMovie ’09 would only work with G5 and Intel Macs. My Mac mini is still a G4. I have been holding out (and trying hard to save!) for an aluminum Macbook. It finally came out, and I was drooling over it, but I had already grown to love the Mac mini. So my decision for now is to pair the Mac mini with a netbook (Linux OS, please; really can’t go back to Windows outside the office) for mobility purposes. But then again…who knows when Apple would release a new Mac mini? Should I get the Mac Box Set and figure out the way to use the old iMovie with iLife ’09; wait for the new shipments of the latest existing Mac mini model that would already have iLife ’09 in it; or wait indefinitely for a new Mac mini? But then again, new Macs don’t contain the full version of iWork. Haay… I’m think I’m just giving myself an unnecessary but sort of fun dilemma, haha!

The keynote ended with Tony Bennett singing ‘The Best is Yet to Come’. Hmmm, interesting! The new Mac mini, perhaps? 😀

Leaping to Leopard

I’m finally doing it. I’m currently in the process of cleaning up my harddrive and backing up all my files (In CDs! I have no external drive) in preparation for the OS X Leopard upgrade. I’m now doubly glad for getting the iCreate Philippines issues since they’re full of Leopard tips and tricks.

I haven’t really seriously thought of upgrading to Leopard, until my Mac mini “broke down” again a couple of weeks ago. Yep, that was in quotation marks, because it made one of its “miraculous” recoveries again. I turned it on last Saturday, resigned to the fact that it would still be stuck at the gray screen during startup. When the startup chime didn’t sound, I knew it was still hopeless so I just left it for a while to get a glass of water. To my surprise, the Apple logo finally appeared on the screen, the Mac continued to boot, until I finally saw my desktop again!  A few tests and clicks showed that it’s business as usual.  And the startup chime has been sounding again since then.

Anyway, now that the Mac’s ok again, I’m still going ahead with the upgrade. I might increase the RAM (since I was saved on repair cost) and I’ll definitely upgrade to Leopard. I’m excited because of all the major improvements from Tiger. Next step would be iLife ’08. Can’t wait to use the much-improved iPhoto and iMovie.

I’m using the budget earlier alloted for an iPod Touch.  Since the only things that it has that my new phone doesn’t are the touch screen, applications, and the bigger capacity, then I think it’s wiser to just spend the money on the Mac upgrade.  After 3 years, I guess it’s about time. 🙂

Sad Mac

My new Sony Ericsson phone crashed my Mac mini!  I got a kernel panic message the first few times that I connected the phone via USB.  The following day, the Mac didn’t hang, but it didn’t read the phone’s memory card either, so I restarted it.  Then…nothing!

Just a gray screen!  And the startup chime didn’t even sound.  Uh-oh.  But I’m hoping it will get its “service center phobia” again and work properly once I’m about to bring it in for repair, hehe.  If not…oh well, it’s due for an upgrade anyway and I might as well go all the way and finally update the OS to Leopard.

That’s the reason this blog has been mostly silent.  I’m just sneaking in posts when there’s a lull at work. 😀

It’s coming!

Just in from the Philippine Mac Users Group forums:  Globe to announce iPhone plans this week! This post came from a TV host of ABS-CBN and ANC, who is one of the journalists invited to the Investors Briefing on Wednesday.  He forwards Philmug forum threads on the iPhone 3G to Globe, and they actually read it.  It’s part of the reason he was invited to the briefing.  I can’t wait to go back to the previously mentioned thread on Wednesday!  This Mugger is known for very quick updates, sometimes even giving blow-by-blow accounts.

The announcement will be my deciding factor of whether to switch to Globe or not.  Right now I’m still leaning towards keeping my Smart plan and getting an iPod Touch instead.