Monday, December 28, 2009

SeeClickFix: Community Empowerment Online

When location-based applications first became popular in the Philippines, the possibilities were endless. And the same could be said when it finally caught on in the US. What would you do with location-based services? Lots of helpful apps have come out like locate your friends, track your family's whereabouts, find a restroom, a coffee shop, resources for baby - but I think is one of the most empowering yet.

SeeClickFix lets you report a non-emergency issue to your local government - issues like potholes and graffiti. Ever since Los Angeles' mayor announced that he was going out and helping fix potholes himself in LA I cannot help but think of him every time I come across a road full of potholes in his area of responsibility. I always feel like telling him about where he should go in his pothole-filling escapades - and SeeClickFix is the tool that can help us do just that.

In our peaceful little town of Orange, the only issue I feel like reporting is the graffiti that sometimes makes its way to walls or street signs. Although I must admit it has been a while since I have seen any - which may be due to the highly visible police presence in our area in response to cases of robberies within our vicinity. Our law enforcement personnel are very vigilant when it comes to protecting our small town and I am very grateful for that. They are not going to let the crime rate go up in Orange - so they are working round the clock to prevent it.

Combine a great local government with tools to empower the community to protect their home and you have a peaceful small town with happy people. Do you think SeeClickFix can help your city become a better place for you and your family? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Movie Night: Avatar in 3D

I had read a few movie reviews about Avatar before I had gone to see it. One of the reviews stated that one of the concerns for the movie had been the likability of the Nav-i, the tall blue creatures of the fictional planet; but that review also said that the creatures were so well developed the female Neytiri was actually very beautiful - and she was! Zoe Saldana is becoming an expert at portraying powerful female extraterrestials, starting from her role in Star Trek to the Nav-i princess.

I think the movie is a must-see! My husband and I watched it in 3D and we enjoyed every minute of it. We enjoyed the simplicity of the plot - how greed drives us to forget our humanity and how Mother Nature or the spiritual is more powerful than anything man can develop.

There are lots of lessons to be learned from the movie. Love is universal - even between two races. We must respect others even if their beliefs seem very different from ours. We must take only what we need from our environment to preserve it for future generations. Though the odds seem impossible we must never give up our faith, our values, our home. We must have faith in tough times - and be strong in heart.

The animation mixing with real actors and scenes in this movie is amazing! I can now understand why it was so expensive to produce. I think it was well worth it though. I am definitely purchasing the DVD of this when it comes out, I want my future kids to see this movie.

Have you seen Avatar? What did you think of the movie? Share your thoughts with us on the comments section. Happy movie watching, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Google + Audi A8

What do you get if you take a luxury car, Google services and put them all together? According to the Google blog, you get the Audi A8.

Google Earth brings satellite imagery into the Audi A8 dash. It also adds layers to the application like Wikipedia to learn more about where you are and Panoramio to get another view of your location.

They have also brought Google Maps and Local Search on. Imagine being able to look for local restaurants, theaters and gas stations right in your car so you never need to stop and ask strangers for directions!

You can also link your desktop to your car. Say you keep all your address books on your desktop, you can very easily send an address to your car so that you can get directions on your dash. Isn't that cool? Now you can not only sync your address books to your phone, you can also sync it to your car.

Imagine how manufacturers of portable GPS must feel about this new technology? But will non-luxury car models implement this navigation system? Will you drive an Audi A8? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, please.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Issuu - A New Way to Share Documents

Is this document display gorgeous or what? My coworker excitedly asked me to go to a page on our website this morning. I knew the page had our downloadable pdfs of a publication our company actually prints monthly. I wasn't too excited to look at it, I must admit.

She had put our publication (not the one shown above, that was just for drama) on Issuu. So what exactly is Issuu? According to their website it's a world of publications by people and publishers alike. It's designed to collect, share and publish in a format that makes documents look their very best - and I definitely have to agree on this one! Our publications are very nicely designed, but seeing it in the pdf format does absolutely nothing to show it off online. The Issuu version was spectacular!

Do you have downloadable documents or pdfs on your website? Check this viewer out and see how it can enhance your overall design!

Monday, December 14, 2009

ICQ in the News

I had a six-digit ICQ number. It was the first instant messaging system I learned to use while I was still in college. Did I just reveal my age there? I have not used it in a long while, I don't even remember what my ICQ number was anymore. But seeing the ICQ logo in the tech blogs brought back some early internet memories.

Because of its strong Russian users base, it is reportedly attracting the interest of Google and DST (a recent Facebook investor). I remember ICQ being an easy to use service and I used to prefer it over Yahoo Messenger - if Google or Facebook takes over and improves on it - I'd probably be one of the first in line to try the new service out! Tech Crunch stated that the final price of ICQ might be over $250 million.

Whoever wins the bidding wars, I hope they do something with the application. I think brilliant minds can still do so much more with instant messaging technologies.

What was the first instant messenger you ever used? What did you like about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unboxing Photos: Bamboo Pen and Multitouch

My husband takes beautiful notes, he has great penmanship and surprisingly good sketching skills. His classmates had seen how he sketched the muscle groups in his notes and commented that it looked like a work of art - I needed some testimonial, you may think I was biased in saying he is good.

He said he wanted to be able to include diagrams in his future patients' therapy record for his reference and asked me if I could develop a system that can do that. I told him I would look into it, but I also suggested that he draw some diagrams for the niche website we are planning to develop.

As a gift, I bought him this basic Bamboo pen and multitouch pad to see if he will be able to make digital media diagrams on it. Hopefully it is put to great use soon! I've taken some unboxing photos for you.

A slide out box, I think the black box is very elegant, don't you?

And there's more... It does get customer feedback on its packaging...

Does it get points for having so many steps to unbox, do you think?

Ahh, finally! The Bamboo pen and multitouch pad by Wacom.

When I went through the registration process for the device, it asked for the field we planned to use the device in and there was a health and medical field option, which I chose of course - because this gadget is for my husband's sports therapy illustrations... But it was a checkbox question, so I also chose digital photography and digital media creation - it's still my husband's new toy, promise! I bought this for him, really...

Do you have an artist in your family? Still thinking of what to get them? This makes a great gift for Christmas. Happy gift-giving, everyone!

Ustream Brings DLSZ Alumni Home - Worldwide

I saw a message from my elementary school's alumni association this morning. I know they were having an alumni homecoming on Dec 12th, Philippine time, but I didn't plan on coming home this year so I knew I wouldn't be able to make it. The message informed me that the homecoming was going to be streamed live on Ustream for those people who are unable to fly home. I thought that was very considerate of them!

I didn't see much of the homecoming since I didn't see the message until this morning. I only caught the last few minutes - apparently they had been streaming for the last five hours. Wow! There were a group of people from abroad chatting while watching the webcast, they seem to be enjoying themselves, and teasing the reunion attendees. After the show went off air, I chatted with a few batchmates who were on Facebook - was unable to catch anyone who went to the reunion for updates, but it was fun chatting with old friends.

Thanks to technology and for alumni techies who set this up so we who are abroad or out of town can have a virtual way to come home to DLSZ too! Now I feel like singing, "Hail, hail, alma mater. Hail to De La Salle..." - ok we don't need any more rain here in the OC so I better stop.

To all the DLSZ alumni, hope you all enjoyed coming home tonight/today! Merry Christmas, my friends.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rediscovering the Flip

I've had my Flip Ultra for a few years now, I've used it a couple of times and have made some great video clips on it. I've always preferred my camera to the camcorder though. I like capturing life in stills, I feel like there is more art involved in stills than in video.

Although I did get the Flip for possible use in this blog, I must admit I have yet to fully utilize it. That is until my non-techie husband and I came up with a plan to develop a niche blog directly related to what he is studying now - sports therapy.

I had only planned to post pictures from their volunteer work in several cross-country races, track & field competitions and marathons, but he suggested that we include video in the website. And he brought my Flip camcorder to class and took great video clips. He truly has an eye for capturing life artfully, I have never been able to shoot good videos with the Flip, either my hand was too shaky or I couldn't get a good enough zoom to make it work. His videos were great - we just need to obtain the right permissions and our new niche blog will be up and running soon.

I am finding that my non-techie husband is a quick study and is now utilizing my gadgets in the way that they were meant to be used. He's showing his professors how a sales/marketing pro aggressively promotes his trade. One of his professors had even asked for copies of the photos to post in the school website - good job on that one!

Are you trying to market your business? Are you using video to do so? If you're just starting out, I recommend getting an inexpensive camcorder like the Flip and capture the interesting and unique aspects of your products/services - promote yourself on one of the hottest medias online today - video!

Good luck and may your online ventures prosper!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

B&N's Nook: Unable to Measure Up

I found this article written by Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal and felt a sense of gratification at the Nook's not-so-glowing review. I was almost seduced to buy the Nook, it was priced the same as my Kindle and it boasted of its colored multitouch navigation.

I read all its features curiously, but was disappointed to find that although it will show you the covers of the books in color, it will not show you the illustrations in the book in the same way. I was also wary of it being purely touch screen in terms of navigation other than the page turner, I have handled multitouch devices and have experienced slow responses from the touch screen in most cases. That is why I prefer a combination of touch screen and keyboard style navigation in my gadgets (both the Pre and the Kindle have this). I must admit that I haven't played with the Nook that much so I did not really know for sure that I was making the right choice in going for the Kindle - the Santa Ana B&N store only had a cardboard one when I visited before last night (I didn't visit that often, especially since getting my Kindle). Thank you, Mr. Walt for validating my gadget choice.

This article is also very timely because I fully intended on talking about a bad experience I had with customer service people in Barnes & Noble Santa Ana last night - including the manager. They were very rude and talked down to us while we were trying to return a book - no apologetic tone, no sympathy - they just treated us as though we were stupid. I had worked with customers too - and I learned what they are entitled to during that time - if nothing else, customers are entitled to some respect and the staff at this B&N store lacked that. I am glad I bought the Kindle because now I don't have to deal with this type of customer service anymore!

And Merry Christmas to you too, B&N Santa Ana!

One Billion Minutes on the Mobile Bible

I think this statistic is a great reason to celebrate! One billion minutes have now been spent reading the bible on a mobile device. Wow!

The first online bible I ever used was Bible Gateway - I loved its searchability- but when YouVersion came out they made the bible so accessible it won me over. It has an app for the iPhone, Blackberry, the Android and all other mobile devices. The mobile version actually displays pretty well on my phone. They even have reading plans now that will get you through the bible in a year.

It's nice to mark milestones of the people's developing faith and at the same time milestones of technology. YouVersion is a great mobile app - try it out and see if you want to be a part of their next billion minutes!

Accuweather App on the Pre

It's umbrella season here in the OC. And that doesn't mean the same thing when you're in the Philippines - back home we use umbrellas to protect us from the intense rays of the sun as well as rain storms. I have this really big umbrella we bought at a theme park while my sister was visiting us and I usually want to know if it's going to rain before taking the huge walking-stick like object with me.

That is possibly why when I pulled up the App Catalog on my Pre, the first app I looked for was one for the weather. And I found Accuweather.

This is their website display of their weather forecast for the city I live in. My phone display looks much nicer, it's all black with the cool icons for different weather forecasts - and it is pretty accurate. I will try to take a picture of it when I get my camera back from the hubby.

I know you can just turn on the TV or the computer to look for a weather forecast, but it helps when you're rushing out the door to just have it on your phone. Kudos to the developers of this app!

Web OS doesn't have as many apps as the iPhone, but I'm sure glad they have the apps that matter to me. Stay dry, everyone!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Non-Techie's Wish List

My friends say I'm lucky because my husband is not a techie, they got this impression when I told them he would rather go to a home improvement store rather than an electronics store on Black Friday. But I think I've corrupted him.

He does enjoy our Nikon D90 and I did get him a Wacom Bamboo pen and multitouch pad on Black Friday. Among the gadgets on his new wish list are a Garmin Nuvi GPS for the truck and he has been looking ever so fondly at Sony LCD televisions although our four-year-old TV still works great. Although I think one does like looking at Sony flat panels no matter how new your TV at home is.

What is in your techie's wish list this year? Share them with us in the comments section. Happy shopping, everyone!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Meet Me at The Shack

As a deprived reader eagerly looking for my first book to read on the Kindle, I scoured the NYT bestseller lists and stumbled on The Shack. I noticed that it had been on the list for 34 weeks. I have seen this book in bookstores, but had not been drawn to it, seeing that it was so popular stirred my curiosity.

There are no words to describe what I read. I felt God in each line of text in this book. As I was reading it I was telling my loved ones and my friends to read it already. I will not spoil the experience for you by telling you what is in the pages of this book, but I will promise you this - you will find love, forgiveness, hope and joy within these pages. And yes, you will find God as you have never seen Him before!

It is Christmas, remind your loved ones what this season is truly about. Give them The Shack. For more information go to Find out how The Shack will change your life on this blessed season of hope.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Unboxing the Most Gifted Item of the Season

What do they say about great things coming in small packages?...

The most gifted item on Amazon - now with global wireless...

Some getting started instructions on the screensaver...

Love the simple instructions on cardboard! Get ready to plug and play - or in this case, read! Book reviews, coming soon :)

Baked Treat: Food for the gods

'Tis the season for baking! Not only is it cold, heat from the oven is always welcome, but baked treats are always welcome gifts this holiday season. Now, what Filipino baked treat is rich and decadent - without having an ounce of chocolate? We call it food for the gods where I'm from.

It looked much better than my first attempt... I actually ran out of brown sugar and substituted it with maple sugar, a gift from one of my dearest Canadian friends, Rheea.

It almost looks like blondies, right? Trust me the dates and the walnuts make all the difference!

A little crunch on the outside and really soft and chewy on the inside. It's definitely a winner, according to my husband and coworkers.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Googling My Way to PreCentral

Like I said I'm not a natural when it comes to finding my way around gadgets - especially one with a lot of features. That was one of the reasons I stayed away from smart phones for so long. I told my coworkers I only use my phone for two things, calling and sending sms messages (this second use, I resorted to only this year when I was given church group responsibilities and most of my co-officers texted) - and lots of times I leave my phone unchecked over the weekends and during off days. All those fancy smart phone features will be wasted on me.

One thing I can say about my coworkers they did not give up on me - everyday one of them would show me a "cool feature" they just discovered on their phone. And it was fun to watch because they all had different phones - we have an iPhone, a G1 phone, and two blackberries in the office - and competitive as they are, they would sometimes try to outdo each other.

It just so happened that I wanted the Palm Pre the moment it came out and first held it in my hand to see if I could type in its full qwerty keyboard. So now we can test our sites in all the popular platforms.

But being in different platforms means that we have to learn about our phones independently and me being Google-dependent, when I get stuck on a particular feature of the Pre I "Google" it. And Google usually takes me to It's a great resource, I read how-to's and find apps in this website. I have just looked up the basics and am starting to learn about apps in Homebrew, there are so many things I can do with this phone, I just have to find time to sit down and play with them all.

Looking for help with your phone? Aside from your local retailer's helpful techies, it's very probable that your phone has an online community too. Explore now!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Confessions of a Deprived Reader

My Kindle is in Santa Fe Springs, CA - according to Amazon's estimate, it will arrive on December 7, 2009 - Monday. I'm not sure why it will take that long for my eBook Reader to get from Santa Fe Springs to Orange County, but I'm not one to question the postal service.

Since I found out that it has shipped, I've emailed my sister who always has a great reading list for recommendations, gone through the list of Kindle books on sale, read book reviews of the books I'm most interested in, and visited bestseller lists to browse through titles. To say that I am excited to start reading is an understatement. I did not realize how much I have missed reading until today. Wow!

I used to spend summers lost in books that took me to faraway places and to adventures I could only dream about. I haven't had much time to read since I was in school - without a care in the world, not needing to work or do chores around the house - I had been free to let my imagination run wild with every book I read. It's hard to imagine how I will fit reading in between doing chores, sidework, full time work, church group responsibilities and quality time with my hubby, but if there is a will there is definitely a way!

Have you read a great book recently? Tell me about it and why you're recommending it in the comments section. Thank you in advance!

May you have an abundance of great reads and many happy hours of letting your imagination take flight, my friends...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What Your Cravings Say About You

What do your food cravings say about your personality? Here are my usual food cravings:

When you crave chocolate...
What it says about your body: You reach for the chocolate because the flavor makes you swoon — but it does that because it stimulates the release of serotonin, Hirsch says. It's basically an antidepressant in dessert form that your body instinctively seeks out when your happy chemicals are bottoming out and you need a quick lift.

What it says about you: That depends on what type of chocolate you long for:

  • Dark chocolate: You're the life of the party, a social butterfly, and right in the mix of the team project at work.
  • Milk chocolate: You're the quiet, introspective type. Your idea of a perfect afternoon is a solo run or one-on-one time with a good book.
-- I'm not really sure, which chocolate I crave most, but I'm leaning towards milk chocolate. Although I try to consciously choose the dark, I love the sweet. --

When you crave sweets...
What it says about your body: This is a lot like a chocolate craving — lusting after sweets could indicate that you're looking to boost your mood. Or it could be that you're just low on energy. The body absorbs refined sugars of the candy variety faster than any other type of food, giving you immediate fuel, Shames says.

What it says about you: Sugar fiends tend to walk toward the wild side -- Whoa! --, Hirsch says. He describes them as hedonistic -- now this gives it a sinister twist...--, with few regrets. They also like to stand out and feel special.

When you crave sweet + salty... --I usually get a salty craving after eating sweets, I don't usually have them at the same time although I do love chocolate-covered pretzels...--
What it says about your body: Your body needs glucose and sodium to function properly, so when the cells get sluggish (and you get tired), you reach for the chocolate-covered pretzels to get them revving, Hirsch says.

What it says about you: You're a loner, but a whiz, too. According to Hirsch's data, people who think a potato chip dipped in chocolate sauce is a match made in sensory heaven tend to be creative but private, to the point that they appear standoffish. -- Now this sounds like me... --

What food cravings do you get? Find out what your food cravings say about your personality here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Taking the Wave for a Spin

The coveted invite arrived last Monday morning - the Google wave. Frankly, I read about this a long time ago, but did not ask for an invitation until my coworkers urged me to do so - they were curious and wanted to try it out for themselves.

My boss asked me to add her to my contact list so we can explore the collaborative tool together. While she was at her meeting a few of us started a new wave. We added pictures, maps, links, gadgets and extensions - happily exploring what this new application can do.

What was it like? It was like chatting where you can see what the other person is typing and you can all type simultaneously in real time. Imagine having a conversation and giving your coworker directions using Google Maps on the chat itself. Pulling up a picture you want to show others or taking a poll right there on the wave instance - also got raves. We discovered the Google Wave gadgets and the difference between gadgets and extensions. I can imagine how the application would be very useful in a meeting - all of us could be at home and we can still have a brainstorming meeting online. Wow!

It's always nice to play with friends - especially when you're trying new applications out. Haven't got your invitation yet? Apply for one, it can definitely increase your team's productivity - if you play nice! Happy exploring, everyone!

Scavenger Hunting in O Magazine

I love this month's O Magazine. It has lots of holiday gift ideas and wonderful tips, not to mention very fun cover girls!

One of the things I enjoyed most was the game, hidden within the pages of the magazine are 12 icons with a corresponding code that you have to plug into the website for a chance to win great prizes. I thought hiding the code in the pages was brilliant, I skimmed through the whole magazine looking for the icons and marked each page that had them. Today is the first day for entering the code and I definitely got mine in!

I rarely win in sweepstakes, but it was fun scavenging for the icons, I love games and it made me really look at each page of the magazine to look for them. I think this was a great holiday campaign - good job, Oprah!

The Gift of Reading

My husband and I have this arrangement, every time we felt like we were making a major purchase we have to ask permission from the other before buying it. It is mostly financial considerations and questions like, "Do we really need it?" that keep us from buying certain things.

Usually when I first see a gadget I like, I restrain myself from buying it and wait for product reviews. When the first Kindle came out, I wanted to buy it, I just thought it was too expensive - two price cuts later I still thought it was too much for my budget. But then I asked my husband if I could and he said yes - I don't really know why, he usually asks me if we need it first. My friends say I deserve it because I've been working so hard the past year and I can get it as a Christmas gift for myself.

What makes it better than just buying books, you ask? The books are sold cheaper in digital format. I don't have room in my small apartment for more books, my shelves are overflowing. I don't have to drive all the way to the bookstore to buy a book, I order it from my device and it's wirelessly delivered for free! I can carry this small device in my purse and bring 1,500 books in it - no more finding where my bookmark went or having to leave the book at home because it's too bulky to carry around. I can read anywhere. You know those times when you are just waiting for other people to arrive for a meeting or you're waiting somewhere for something - wasted time can be reading time again. Yay!

Happy reading, everyone! I will review the new Kindle as soon as I get it.

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