Sunday, October 30, 2011

iPhone 4 best for video in comparison to BlackBerry 9800 and Samsung Galaxy S2

I recently find myself in a situation owning 3 gadgets: iPhone 4, BlackBerry 9800, and Samsung Galaxy S2. As a person who cover events, having multiple gadgets can be an asset so that you won't rely in a device soley for event coverage. Come uploading time as well, you don't have to wait for photo and video materials to be transferred to your machine first before you can do anything else.

Here are some observations and will update as soon as new observations are discovered:

BlackBerry 9800 records video and can upload from the phone. However, if you are using a prepaid SIM (like Globe), you won't be able to upload videos using your BBMax and will have to use Wi-Fi instead. The video quality is also reduced to the point some images can be blurry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

GoToMeeting now in iPad, iPhone, and Android

While configuring my gadgets today, I am ecstatic to learn the webinar application, GoToMeeting, can now be used with your iPad, iPhone, and Android. This is great news as being on the go has a lot of challenges.

I look forward testing this in our an online meeting and webinar this week to see how it will play out.

It will be cool to demonstrate this as well during talks just to show how much technology is evolving.

I hope Citrix will provide a Blackberry version of this application soon.

The same as well for the organizer edition.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Samsung Notebook Series 9 - almost perfect but HDMI to VGA adapter still elusive

Last July 17, 2011, my Samsung Notebook Series 9 finally arrived. Was so excited in unboxing it and made sure that all the necessary tools are installed from anti-virus, Adobe tools, to OpenOffice so I can already get to work.

The Samsung Notebook Series 9 is a beautiful device. But without the HDMI to VGA adapter, it is a luxurious investment that fails serving its most useful purpose - to have a lightweight machine I can use for presentations.
It is great to have a 2nd powerful laptop with you that can perform task while busy with your main laptop. I now use this during training as my MacBook Pro oftentimes have to be connected to the projector and need to do other tasks while at it. I use this for my video uploads as well and attend to project specific tasks.

I picked this model recognizing the reality that gadgets are status symbol icons. In the field am in where most of my peers sports the latest device, I have to choose mine wisely without bordering to luxurious spending. The laptop, being sexy due to its slim body, catches attention the moment it is opened. It is fast in loading applications and has beautiful screen resolution too.

The search for VGA adapter
What only frustrates me at the moment is the unavailability of its HDMI to VGA adapter. This accessory, if I have it, should allow me to connect the Samsung Notebook Series 9 to an LCD projector and do my presentations.

Up to this moment, despite several attempts of making calls to get one, I am unsuccessful in getting it. What is funny when making calls and identifying my need, despite stating the laptop model, it seems all the tech people we talked to doesn't know what the heck is this VGA adapter. The Quick Start Guide included in the box didn't state the model number that makes things harder too. Some will give us a price of up to P6,500 requiring it on a per-order basis and needs an upfront payment.

Although the U.S. site states that this AA-AH1NAMB HDMI to VGA adapter is only US$39.99. Now I realized that I should have ordered this while in the U.S. last month and end my frustration. Note that locally, I also tried looking for unbranded counterparts in CDR King but they don't have one.

I will be in Singapore this October 13 and 14 to attend an event. If I am lucky, hope to find it there.

(hay... deep breath...)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tinkering with Facebook Timeline

Just enabled the Facebook Timeline so I can start tinkering with it right away. Being wary on data privacy, there are things that I want to make sure of such information that I only want to be viewable to myself shall remain as such. More importantly, my connection with friends.

New Facebook Timeline of Janette Toral viewed as another person.
What I like about it so far is the history of Pages "liked" and Groups "joined". There is an option where you can view the individual entries and unlike the pages. But for groups, you really have to visit each one, even if they are already old to "leave group".

Check-in history of Janette Toral via Facebook Places
Maps and Check-in History

Another thing that caught my fancy is the Maps feature where you can have a big picture overview of your check-in history and up to the status update that you posted then.

So like in this case, I was able to view my check-in lately from multiple locations ever since I started using Facebook Places.

Zooming in to the Philippines showed me the check-ins I made from various locations through out the country.

Drilling down further allowed to glimpse my status post in relation to that location.

Philippines check-in history of Janette Toral via Facebook Places

Check-in history from one location as zoomed in via Facebook Places

If there is one suggestion that I could give at the moment, that will be to have an omnibus option to hide all "add friends" activity. In the old timeline, I have already disabled this from appearing in my wall. However, in this new timeline, it is appearing and therefore have to disable it as early as now. When you have reached the friends limit, that can be quite a lot but I am sure it will be all worth it.

New friends added appears in the New Facebook Timeline even if you have disabled this in the current version of Facebook.

When browsing friends who
like your content, you can now
categorize them too.
Facebook Friends List

One old and now an improved feature that I began using Facebook with the new Timeline is the categorization of friends or connections. Those who respond to my content frequently (such as liking or posting comments) are now in a special group. This I check so I can also reciprocate if they share anything of interest.

New likers and commenters are also immediately added there. When you mouse-over a person's name, you just click on the "Friends" button and decide which list do you want this person to belong.

Also put some folks in the close friends list where I immediately receive a notification if they posted anything new. It is a great feeling to be able to respond immediately to content from those who are really important to you.

This is quite important to me. With around 5000 connections on Facebook, one can get overwhelmed with various content being shared. With these new features, you can now be more organized and focus on quality relationships.

So if you see me responding to your content more often than I did before, this is the reason behind it. :)

Facebook Tagging

I have always been annoyed whenever there are people who tag me on photos that is not related to me all. Usually try to find the nearest browser, from a phone or computer, just to untag myself immediately.

Finally, Facebook has done something about it by allowing you to review first any tagged content and decide if you want them to appear on your wall or Timeline. I am sure that a lot of us will be spared from various tagging promotions agony without offending friends or connections.

I think the bottom line with what Facebook has done - is to ensure that new players like Google+ will not look anywhere near it. Making the comparison between the two seems far too wide now. The personalization features got me glued to Facebook more than ever.

It gives the feeling like - I am home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rescue your Time: Reality-check on Productivity and Handling Distractions

It depends on the kind of work that you do, I can often refer to myself as one of the most distracted online. That is why when a DigitalFilipino Club member shared the tool RescueTime, I immediately signed-up wanting to learn more on how I spend time online.

After installing since July, this is the 2nd time that I looked at the report and calibrate the scoring system in order to make a much more honest assessment. This includes reducing the score values of some metrics such as reducing social network activity scores to 1 or 0 (from 2) and uncategorize offline activities such as rest, sleep, and eating.

Assessing my online activities made me realize the following I want to spend more time on:

  1. E-Mail.
    With social networks being enjoyable and productive due to the kind of work that I have, the time I spent on e-mail has significantly and oftentimes only attended to - when it is badly needed. Perhaps e-mail also deserves a new interface that can interact with its users in these changing times where a lot of us spend a lot of time in social networking sites.
  2. Blog and write original content.
    One of the reasons attributing to my high social network activity is the time spent on reading and sharing interesting sources online. In these instances, I often have personal anecdotes to add and note it in the comments section. However, I decided to do this less and commit to writing these thoughts in my blog more. To help me in this phase, I defined blogging activities under marketing and hope that can improve my score.
So far RescueTime is a valuable resource that allowed me to have a reality check of sorts on how I conduct myself online. 

It also compelled me to be honest with myself that despite high productivity in some areas of my work, there are some that I indeed neglect that will require a change on how I do things. This includes understanding as well on what caused such change and how to move forward.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping tune to your friends shared music via SoundCloud

{EAV_BLOG_VER:1813dd240eb6ba80} (kindly pardon the code snippet as I am connecting this blog to Empire Avenue)

Just downloaded the SoundCloud iPhone application and now find myself listening to shared music and podcast by friends.

If you sign-in via Facebook, you will discover who among the folks you are connected to has a SoundCloud account and can connect with. If you don't dig their kind of music, just unfollow.

Also discovered some interesting SoundCloud user accounts shared via Twitter that I end up adding to my collection as well and follow those they are connected with.

Go ahead and start building your SoundCloud collection today. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogger iPhone app now available

Finally, the Blogger iPhone app is now available that allows you to update your blog whenever the need arises.

Will see if this will make me blog more frequently.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dealing with blemishes and pimples

One of the challenges being in technology field is that you spent a lot of time sitting down and work with your computer. Time gets ignored at times, especially when home, that makes sleep a bit flexible from day time to night time.

As a result, as one gets older, the toll this takes on your skin becomes evident. These days, pimple or acne is something that no longer surprises me. A zit appears either on the chin or cheek part. Proper cleansing helps but if I want it gone in a day or three so it won't be obvious especially during public speaking gigs, glad that Proactiv is there to help me.

I just dab it on the pimple part in the morning and evening. In 3 days or less, the acne is gone. For the pimple prone, using it much regularly is suggested. You can either purchase it as a kit or buy the needed components. For me, I just use the moisturizer and the mask.

Of course, if one has acne, one must maintain the discipline of not constantly touching it. Recover from whatever sleep you have lost as these skin irritation or blemishes reflects the stress you are also having.

For those of you who will be purchasing the product set on or before August 10, you have the chance of being one of the first 18 buyers who can watch "The Smurfs" for free where Proactiv endorser Katy Perry is featured. You can get it from selected SM Department Store (Megamall, Makati, North Edsa) and Watsons (Megamall 2nd floor and Mall of Asia ground floor).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Set Google language to English

Just got an e-mail from a foreign student who encountered problems in configuring his Google browsing experience as it always appears in Filipino even if he is out of the country.

Go to Google Preference to set the language to the one you desire (English for example).

If that doesn't work in Firefox, you can also go Preferences > Content to choose the language.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I Want Symmetric Internet Connection - Making Sense of Globe and Smart 4G

Doing a 2-hour webinar while in Boracay
using Smart Evolution
Since mid-April, there have been a lot of talks about Globe and Smart efforts to make 4G Internet connectivity a reality in the Philippines.

I was able to join their events where this offering got shown for demonstration. Globe had their HSPA demonstration at Heritage Hotel while Smart shared the LTE (Long Term Evolution) experience in Boracay. (watch the video below for more info about their service)

My only problem with these demonstration trials is that they don't represent reality. Once it is rolled out commercially, there is always that worry of over-subscription. Furthermore, much of the hype is in the streaming quality of videos and download speed.

 (This was the speedtest result flashed onscreen for Smart 4G LTE)

 (This was the speedtest result flashed onscreen for Globe 4G HSPA+)

Watch live video from Ask Janette on
Interviewed Anne Binuya of Smart about Smart 4G LTE while in Boracay. It was done via livestream running on Smart 4G LTE. 

However, as a video blogger, livestream publisher, webinar trainer, and video contest organizer, my major concern today is upload speed. Based on the speedtest data shown by both Globe and Smart, upload speed is only 5% to 15% of download speed. Hope both carriers will also innovate and start offering symmetric Internet connection services where upload speed is almost equal to download speed.

I guess when that happens, 4G will begin to really make sense to me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Reaching Level 100 in Crime City Game

I started playing Crime City last New Year's Eve upon the invitation of a good friend. At first I was reluctant for am not the kind of player who just tries something and abandons it right away. When I decide to play, I usually aim for a very high goal where I could also learn in the process.

The last one I played was Warbook and stopped once level 50 (the highest then) was reached.

For Crime City, I noticed that the game has continuously evolved. Also experienced from having a lot to none (sold all buildings just to complete missions) to rebuilding the current city format I have.

Currently at level 97 and will likely reach 100 in a few days. Hopefully by that time, I already bought a stadium (if at least 7 more people will add me to their mafia) which is the highest type of building that you can purchase in the game. Then that's it for me.

Anyway, for those of you who are leisure game players of Crime City, here are some tips I like to share:

1. Focus on high-income buildings.

There was a time I got consumed in upgrading existing buildings. However, as you get revenue, collectible items gets given as well where once you complete a set, you get special items or boost.

I noticed that buildings that offers high-income have interesting collectible that either gives more steel, money, respect, equipment, or boost. So once your hood is filled up, you can either upgrade to accommodate more buildings or keep on getting high value buildings as you resell existing ones.

In my case, I have focused on reselling and buying new buildings. I like the night club as it gives 24k revenue a day. The opera house is also ok as you can collect from 40k to 80k a day. Both buildings gives a lot of steel once you complete the items they give out.

2. Equipment (boost, vehicle, armor, weapon)

There was a time that I keep buying boost to protect my hood. Later on, I decided to use spare income that is not enough to buy any building to get more equipment.

For boost, there are now buildings you can get that gives you boost such as the gun shop or ammo factory or biotech lab (for attack boost), loan shark office or collection agency (for collection boost), guard dog training center or safehouse or alarm company or guard tower or armory (for defense boost), mercenary bar or compound (for mafia boost), muay thai studio or shooting range (for xp boost), and consigliere's house or godfather's mansion (for loot boost).

If you have 5 buildings that gives you at least 1 of each type of boost, you can put your spare resources to vehicles, armor, and weapon.

A dying game?

Although I somehow feel that Crime City is already a dying game, it was great to see how it evolved trying to survive. I think for the new players, who likes to play quietly without bugging Facebook friends too much, this game can is still ok.

Join the Sexy Street Style Promo and win a Samsung Notebook Series 9

Last April 28, I dropped by the Samsung Notebook Series 9: INPERSPECTIVE exhibit at Powerplant Mall Makati that showed what makes this gadget the thinnest, lightest, and brightest as interpreted by design experts publications such as Metro Home, My Home, and Real Living.

The said event was the launch pad as well of Samsung's sexiest promo in Facebook, as it redefines the word: “sexy” with the Samsung Notebook Series 9’s Sexy Street Style.

Join this fashionable promo and get a chance to win a Samsung Notebook Series 9 and designer dresses from Rajo Laurel, Rhette Eala, and Randy Ortiz!

To join:
  1. Register on Samsung Notebook Series 9: Sexy Street Style Facebook fanpage.
  2. Upload a stylish photo of yourself that defines what sexy for you is.
  3. Write about your personal definition of sexy.
  4. Ask your friends to vote for your sexy photo entry. (Check out my entry)
  5. Make it your profile picture in Facebook. (view my profile photo as example)
Sexiest photos will get a chance to win either a Samsung Notebook Series 9 or a Rajo Laurel, Rhette Eala, or Randy Ortiz designer wear.

If you need some sort of inspiration to craft your personal definition of "sexy", check out how Manila's most fashionable define it in this video.

Here is the Samsung Notebook Series 9 Product Specs for your reference:
  • Ultra Slim Profile at 0.64”
  • Lightweight Body at 2.86lbs.
  • Stunning display at 400NIT
  • Intel Core i5-2537M Processor
  • (1.40GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 3MB cache memory)
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
  • 4GB DDR3 Memory
  • 128GB Solid State Drive
  • 13.3-inch LED Hi-Definition (400NIT, Non-Gloss) Screen with SuperBrightPlus Technology
  • Built-in 1.3 Megapixel Hi-Definition Webcam
  • Built-in Bluetooth Version 3.0 Hi-Speed
  • Chargeable 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, MicroSD Card Slot
  • Surround Sound 3D Sound Effect
  • Arch Flow Design, Black Chassis, Made from Duralumin (2x Stronger than Aluminum)
  • 3 Years Warranty (1 Year International, 2 Years Local)
Samsung Notebook Series 9 suggested retail price is seventy-nine thousand nine hundred pesos (P79,900.00). It is available in retail outlets nationwide.

Sexy for me is all about how you carry yourself well in a variety of situations that puts your best foot forward. (Friends, kindly vote or like my photo.)

In case you joined the Sexy Street Style Promo contest, let me know and will cast a vote for your entry to support. Good luck!

Monday, April 25, 2011

High-end online shopping in the Philippines with Reebonz

As a catalog shopper, I am more comfortable browsing through duty-free and direct selling magazines rather than shop at an actual store site. Found it less intimidating and without the salesperson pressure that makes me shop much easier.

So when the high-end online shopping site Reebonz project got shared to me by a DigitalFilipino Club member, excitement caught me for I can now shop at ease anywhere and be able to make a decision on which of these nice items do I want to invest in for myself or as a gift. Furthermore, have assurance that the items are genuine and be availed at special discounts ranging from 15% to 20%.

Reebonz is launching in the Philippines with a special promotion offer, 5% discount, to holders of BDO credit cards, AMEX, and BDO virtual cards from April 1 to September 30, 2011.

What I like about Reebonz are the brands that they are carrying. This includes cool items from Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, Tod's, Miu Miu, Burberry, Kenneth Cole, among others. If your preferred brand is not available online, you can suggest it as well.

These high-end items are made affordable as they are mostly comprised of past season inventory.

Products are available on a 2 to 3 day period which site members can avail of. Once ended, it is gone for good. I think the site can also be a business opportunity haven for the savvy ones or a secret gift store for those who already wants to start shopping and keep stock for gifts, holidays, or special occasions.

I hope Filipino high end brands will also make it to the site soon from pearls to high-life destination deals or packages.

Fashionistas are encouraged to join the site and have access to members-only events. You can also invite your friends where you can earn 5% of their first purchase.

When ordering, you can pay through credit card or bank transfer. Delivery takes 15 to 20 days subject to customs clearance. Read their FAQ section for more information about Reebonz.

I tried shopping online through the website and observed the following:

The shopping site page allows you to further customize the order such as size selection, among others. A ring caught my attention and was contemplating of getting it.

If you mouse-over on the item, it gives you a zoom in look and be able to analyze it further if it is to your liking. 

Once decided to proceed with the offer, you will need to fill-up an ordering form and have your credit card ready.

Payment locally is processed through a local payment gateway provider. Unfortunately, had some problems with my credit card that I need to sort out and hopefully make my first purchase soon.

Definitely, Reebonz is a welcome addition to Filipinos who love to shop discreetly and get great deals online for high-end fashion brands.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gadgets and Status Symbol

I guess it is inevitable that if you are to establish yourself as a public speaker or a visible online personality, the gadgets you use can influence people's perspective on you, whether you are successful or not, whether you are credible or not.

Through the years, this is something that I noticed even more as my efforts in "gearing up" escalated due to competitive or peer pressure, among other things. It is now a situation where how you present yourself can influence whether a prospective client or customer wants to deal with you.

This became more evident to me as I saw how local SEO folks in various parts of the country "flaunt" the assets bought from what they earned in their business. Recalling a speaking engagement in a nearby province where testimonial speakers showed what they were able to purchase (I have shown none) through their earnings.

During the question and answer, one participant asked how much am I earning. Did not reveal any figures and shared my passion in re-investing with new projects. After the event, the person approached me and concluded that I must be doing better since my laptop is a Mac while the others were using netbooks or affordable laptop brands. It is interesting to see how people somehow try to arrive at an impression based on the gadget you use.

Another event had me in a panel with 3 male speakers who were all sporting Macs, iPad, and the likes while I was using my well-loved Toshiba laptop. As our topic was all about social media, its typical audience are either Mac users or those who never got their hands in a Mac before. In short, my fellow speakers already had a wow factor upon seeing their gear while I have to finish my talk piece before I get my own share of wow.

The Mac Switch

For laptops, I have tried brands like NEC, Toshiba, IBM, Fujitsu, and the last one I had was MCS - which were all Windows-based. But when I got a hit by a virus a day before a speaking engagement last year, the time to fix was not in my favor and decided to get a Mac.

On the next few days and weeks in events where I spoke, non-Mac user peers took notice with a "wow". Those who were already Mac user asked when did I switch and started giving suggestions. It is like being part of a whole new community segment. There's this feeling that "you have arrived".

The need for a PC

But then again, the more I use a Mac, the more I realize that I still need a 2nd machine that I can use when the Mac does not seem to cooperate with the projector used in an event. Furthermore, for web development testing, live webinars, and certified ethical hacker exam preparations.

With the pressure of having a cool and presentable gadget to use, a few brands came to mind like Alienware and Sony Vaio. However, another gadget that caught my attention lately was the Samsung Notebook Series 9 (dubbed as Sexy PC for being the thinnest).

It was lend to me when preparing for my notes at iBlog7 where Samsung was a sponsor. My Mac then was tied up for the event livestream.

The Samsung Notebook Series 9 has the following features and is priced at nearly eighty thousand pesos (P79k++):
  • Measures 16.3mm (0.64 inches) in depth
  • Screen size of 13 inches
  • 1.31 kg (2.88lbs.) in weight
  • uses Samsung's LED technology: 'SuperBright Plus' display (400nit) with 16 million color reproduction. 13.3-inch HD LED-backlit
  • Encased in Duralumin metal alloy (known to be used in specialized aircrafts).
  • 2nd Generation Intel Core i5 Processor 2537M (1.40 GHz, 3MB; turbo up to 2.3 GHz)
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) / Windows® 7 Professional (64 bit)
  • 4GB DDR3 (up to 8GB)
  • 128GB Solid State Drive (up to 256)
  • Resolution: 1366×76
  • Intel HD GT2 Integrated Graphics
  • 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, WiMax
  • USB 3.0
  • 3 watt (1.5W x 2) stereo speakers and 1.5 watt sub-woofer
  • 1.3megapixel HD Webcam
  • Li-Po battery (up to 6.5 hours)

Update: April 8, 2013

I end up purchasing the Samsung Notebook Series 9 last 2011. But the lack of a VGA plug for presentations made me use it less than intended.

Nevertheless, it is now being used by my "samurai" and glad its power is being maximized.

Yes I am still contemplating on a 2nd PC unit.

Definitely, that gadget needs to be suitable when I speak at events. Durable and tech-friendly for all the experiments and trials I will do with it.