Friday, February 25, 2011

B(OO!!!) M W

In a surprise dud... BMW has announced that their upcoming flagship, the i8 (AKA, the Vision) is not going to be running the ultra efficient Diesel engine that the current incarnation runs.  Instead, they will downgra... er... replace it with a gasoline engine in order to continue our dependency on petrol.

Apparently, a "Vision" was all it really was.  If I wanted yesterday's "green" tech, I would've been aspiring for the Pri-yuck.

The current i8 prototype can run 700km (434 mi) on 24L (6 gal) of Diesel.

Not to mention the potential for Bio-Diesel and other equivalents to replace current crude.

According to BMW head of R&D, Klaus Draeger, "We want to sell all over the world. Diesel is only really relevant to Europe."...   Yes, because there are no BMW Diesels being sold anywhere else in the world...

I hope their next announcement isn't going to be that the upcoming electric i3 will be just a regular microcar instead since "electricity might not be available in other parts of the world."

Sigh... such a disappointment.

**March 2, 2011 - This comes at such a perfect time too, now that gas prices are soaring higher than ever before.**

And now comes Thunderbolt...

Another high speed port has made its debut.  Thunderbolt, developed jointly by Intel and Apple, this new data port is first available on Apple's new line of MacBook Pros.

Boasting incredible data transfer rates that are double that of USB 3.0 (which hasn't even been made standard yet) it promises a single connection for your storage and data needs.  Up to 6 devices can be daisy-chained, giving the end-user a convenient solution for connecting a combination of external drives and monitors, all with just one cable.

LaCie is one of the first hard drive manufacturers to release Thunderbolt compatible products as well.

This should eventually simplify laptop ports, by combining the external display port with external storage, one less port is needed, and allows more flexible connections since all one needs to buy are the adapters to connect to other displays and projectors.  Thunderbolt also allows HDMI w/ multi-channel audio pass-thru as well, cleaning up external audio cables as well.

A Little Friday Tech Humor

Just something to end the week on a good note...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BMW-i, The Next Generation In Driving Pleasure

I'm a big BMW fan, and I've been looking forward to their production of the BMW Vision for quite a while.  Well, the just launched their new BMW-i website to usher in the next generation of Driving Machines.

Although I'm a bit put-off by the "i" name, since "e" would've been more suited to a line they call "environmental", "electric", not to mention it's part of BMW's EfficientDynamics program, and their efficient-line from way back always carried the "e", or "eta" tag.

"i" aside... I'm really looking forward to the actual production units come out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Android App of the Day: Market Enabler

For the lucky ones that live in Paid Android Markets, you have access to way more apps... both free and paid.  For us here in the Philippines, we have some free market apps, and no paid ones.  Although inserting a foreign SIM card and accessing the Marketplace via WiFi works, it's a bit cumbersome to keep switching SIMs.

Market Enabler does a great job of 'faking' ones location and giving access to the Marketplace of the region/country it's faking.  Albeit you still can't buy paid apps without a credit card issued from an approved country (BOO!!!!) you do get more free apps, and even some Google app updates (Like the new Streetview on Maps and Translate)

Give it a try.  Worked for me! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Congratulations Watson!!!

Another small step towards the singularity, IBM's Watson has bested 2 of Jeopardy's all-time champions.  Although personally, I feel that buzzer reflexes played a bigger part of the game... and towards the end, Ken and Brad figured out the latency of Watson's clicking abilities.  This is a huge hurdle in technology.  The fundamental patterns for learning (with Deep Blue) and now, for cognitive thinking have been mapped.

The ability for computers to now learn from experience has now been set in motion.  I can now see people around the world heralding this as both the beginning and the end.  Perhaps so... but it doesn't always have to signal a giant fiery ball of death or some great war.

The Jeopardy match was actually fun to watch.  Specially when Watson gets something wrong, or isn't sure... it's REALLY wrong.
So, ya... apparently Toronto is now a U.S. City.

I think the next step for Watson is to have a Facebook page, solely managed by it.

And the cool thing about all this?  Look who visited my blog as well!!!

Now, I don't know if this is someone from IBM, (or actually Watson just Googling itself...hahahaha)

If it was someone at IBM, congratulations!!!

If it was Watson,
01000011 01101111 01101110 01100111 01110010 01100001 01110100 01110101 01101100 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 01110011 00100001

Do You Speak English? Parlez-vous français? ¿Hablas español

I've always found language translators a bit clumsy to use.  They help you speak another language, but they rarely help you understand the response you get.  Google Translate Mobile is now alpha testing a new feature called Conversation Mode.  I'm not sure if this has been deployed in their iOS version, but it is available in their Android versions... albeit Spanish being the only language available for this feature for now.

It works just like the regular Google Translate.  You speak into the mic in either English or Spanish, your phone speaks the translation and prepares to listen in the appropriate language.

It performs remarkably well, translation time is dependent on your internet speed of course.  3G or HSPA would be ideal for an almost fluid conversation.  And for SMS based conversations there's a feature for that as well, allowing instant access to your inbox messages, just tap on the message to have it translated.  Again, Conversation Mode is only available in Spanish for now.  To converse in other languages, you'll have to copy & paste your response or send the reply manually via a new message.

Over all, it's pretty cool.  I'm hoping they add German to that list pretty soon...

**Update, this now supports a lot more languages**

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Android App of the Day: My Tracks

Are you one of the many people into running?  You've got an Android phone with GPS.  How do you make use of it?  My Tracks offers a very easy to use way of tracking and measuring your progress.

Fairly simple to use, My Tracks shows your movement on Google Maps, and provides performance stats.  Aside from recording your tracks, My Tracks allows you to upload your routes to Google Maps for saving or sharing.

Like any GPS product, line-of-sight to satellites is needed and accuracy may be compromised if under heavy foliage or cloud cover.  But so far, I haven't had any accuracy issues with my X10 Mini Pro.

Yesterday, I posted a review on the Mio Motiva heart rate monitor.  And its a great simple watch to have for simply keeping track of your heart rate without the addition of a chest strap.  But what if you want more?

Well, a particular feature of My Tracks, and an upcoming feature for the Sony Ericsson Xperia line of Android phones is ANT+ support.  This will allow a wide range of health and fitness sensors to work with My Tracks and display their data right on your phone without the need of an additional receiver.

AFAIK, My Tracks does not compute for calories burned, which I think would be a great addition specially when combined with an ANT+ sensor.  I hope they add a calorie counter in a future update.  For now, My Tracks is a great little app that performs very well.

Watson's TV Debut!

I was wondering when this would actually take place.  I think it's great that the same rules apply to Watson... no Internet connection... can't call Google for help... can't wait to see the next few days!

Day-1 of the IBM Watson / Jeopardy! Challenge

Monday, February 14, 2011

Be Still My Beating Heart

In keeping with the whole Valentine festivities, today's tech gospel is on health and fitness.  Don't know about most of you, but I really slacked off the gym last year.  And this year, I'm paying for it.  Before things get out of control, I started my exercise routine at the beginning of the year.

Heart rate monitors aren't really new.  Polar has been making them for some time now.  But some people may not be fond of wearing the chest strap.

One of the cool simple gadgets I found are Mio Watches.  The one I'm using is the Motiva.  It's main features are it's heart rate monitor, and Mio's patented calorie management system.

This is a great little watch since it combines two essential factors in weight management and exercise.

The heart rate monitor is ECG accurate +/- 1bpm compared to a Life Fitness treadmill.  Just touch the two front face buttons with your fingers and in a few seconds, it shows your heart rate.  You can also set your maximum heart rate and calorie intake so the watch will tell you if you're approaching your limit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soulmate, a Valentine's Android App of the Day

Ever forget her birthday?  Special occasion? Anniversary?  Do you not call or text her often enough?  Did you piss her off at the wrong time of the month again?  Tsk tsk... why not let technology help you out?

In honor of St. Valentine, I would like to share an app created by Riccardo Bertini, the app is appropriately named, Soulmate.

How can this wonderful app help you out?  First, you enter all your significant other's vital information: Birthday, anniversary, first kiss, first date, etc... even her monthy cycle! (They really think of everything don't they?)

Then what?  Well... if you're Italian (or just want to try to impress her) select from the drop down menu of predetermined SMS messages (for now, they're still all in Italian) and your phone will take care of remembering to send those sweet messages while you're out playing golf. (Real or virtual)  Imagine how thoughtful you can be when everything is automated?

Not enough?  You can also schedule sweet nothing messages to be sent throughout the day!!!  She won't feel so neglected anymore!

Still not enough?  How about having your phone remind you when it's the special time of the month?  Wouldn't that be so handy?

And that's just the FREE version!  For those Casanovas out there, for only US$2.73, you can get the Advanced version with more features!!!

Being Casanova, means multi-tasking... so instead of having to browse through your whole phonebook which may contain business & family contacts, why not use a private phonebook instead?  This is included in the Advanced version!  As is a location-based filter that can automatically reject calls when you're at work, and can automatically reply with a politely programmed SMS.

Isn't technology wonderful???  It makes being thoughtful so easy!  And, if all else fails, and you still manage to screw up... look on the bright side... for only $1.99, you can confess and save your soul!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Burn Baby! Burn!

Ever have so many burned CDs and DVDs that you lose track of what's in them?  How do you label your discs?  A Sharpie is always handy but doesn't really look that nice, no matter how cute your handwriting is.  Stickers are still the most common way of labeling optical media.  With high quality ink-jet and dye-sub printers, these can make CDs look very professional.  Another way to label discs is the purchase printable discs and a compatible printer.  My personal favorite way of labeling discs is Lightscribe!

What is Lightscribe?  It's direct disc labeling by burning the label-side of a compatible disc.  A combination of the optical drive and Lightscribe discs allows you to burn grayscale labels onto the disc itself.  Although not in color, it does look classy and very clean.

Aside from the cool etched look, it also doesn't change the balance of the disc, the way stickers do... although rare, if a CD sticker is applied off-center, it can cause errors in the disc due to vibrations caused by the imbalance of the spinning disc.

Most new laptops now come with Lightscribe drives (all except Macs) so you can burn discs on the go, completely personalized on the spot.  *A caveat, high-res Lightscribe labeling takes upto 20 mins PER DISC, so take that into account when planning a burn session*

Surf's Up!

Celfones are no longer just for calls.  The idea of voice-only mobile phones died out back in the early 90's. Today's mobile devices are officially called communicators.  Voice functions are slowly being replaced by data services all together.

How does this affect us as end-users?  Simple.  A while back, we would pay for each service... voice, text, fax (the tech weed that doesn't want to die), MMS, and data.  Now, devices have become so powerful, that all these services can pass through internet channels, thus can be handled by just the data services all together.  This can lower your monthly bill if unlimited data services can be maximized.

Here in the Philippines, unlimited data plans still have low penetration in the mobile market, but they are picking up and becoming way more affordable.  And I would highly recommend to anyone on an Android, Blackberry, or iPhone to subscribe to one of the many mobile data plans available from your provider.

Sun Cellular has the cheapest unlimited data plan at P799 (approx US$16)
Smart and Globe offer unlimited data at P999 (approx US$20) *Globe just recently lowered their SuperSurf, down from P1200

How much is unlimited data in your country?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tell Me Your Sins... The iOS app of your life!

Finally!  An entry about religion!!!  How much would you be willing to pay to go to heaven?  A hundred dollars?  A thousand dollars?  A million dollars?  A billion?  What about US$1.99????  Isn't that a great deal for a ticket to heaven?  I guess economies of scale are effective in the afterlife as well.

Ok, assuming you're a Catholic, it's never been a better time to be one... sin all you want, and just confess from the comfort of home! (or the crime scene... whichever is applicable to you.  Hahahaha...)

Seems the Catholic Church has decided to skip a couple of centuries, and move out of the medieval ages into the information age.  And what better way to do it than by accepting confessions via an app?  Confession App is made by Little iApps, LLC officially sanctioned by the Vatican

So for those of you that are too busy to go to confession... now there's no excuse.  I wonder if you can confess in advance for sins that you may commit... hmmm....

*Feb 11,2011: CNN, and The BBC have issued statements to clarify their initial press release regarding this app... you cannot confess from the app, it's just a guide for you to help you during actual confession.  The app is still endorsed by the Catholic Church*

*I know that my slogan is "A Tech Blog that has nothing to do with Religion"... but I just HAD to write this entry.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend Getaway

I enjoy going away for the weekend.  I'm sure a lot of you do too.  But what if you heard about a great legal torrent to download while you were away?  How do you tell your computer at home to download the file for you so that it'll be done (or almost done) by the time you get home?

Well, with a little help from Dropbox, one of my favorite cloud storage services, managing your downloads can be done from any Dropbox capable device.

Install and setup Dropbox.  Create a new folder called Torrents

Next you need a torrent client, I prefer Vuze.  Just open the Preferences menu and add the new Dropbox folder you just created in the 'Import Directory' field.

What this essentially does, is tell your torrent client to start downloading any torrents that are added to this folder.  It will watch this folder periodically for any new files added.

Next, on your mobile device (laptop, Android, iOS), search for, and download any torrent files you want.  You do not need a torrent client on your device, just Dropbox and a file manager (I currently use Astro on my X10 Mini Pro)

Once you download a torrent file, save it/move it into the Dropbox/Torrent directory on your mobile device.

That's it.  Your computer at home will start downloading the torrent you just added.

You can do this from anywhere in the world for as long as you have access to your Dropbox folder.  Now, when you arrive home, all your legal torrents are all done downloading and ready to watch.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


A leaked TVC of the upcoming Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
(aka The Playstation phone)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

iOS App of the Day: Air Video

I keep my movie collection on my home computer.  It's way more convenient than loading a Bluray disc each time I wanna watch a movie.  If you have an iPad, you can also watch your movie collection.  Having VLC (Which I heard was recently removed by Apple...BOO!!!!) allows you to download an watch your movies on the go... but even the 64GB iPad can't hold all the HD movies you want.

This is where Air Video comes in.  Install the app on your iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch), then a small server program on your home computer.  You have to keep your home computer on for the app to work since it allows you to watch the videos on your home computer.  It streams the video to your iPad over your WiFi network.

It can handle HD (mkv), avi, mpg, and almost any video that can be played on your home computer.

Download Air Video from the iTunes App Store, then go to their website to download the server app (works on Windows and OSX)

*There's also a free version, the limitation is that it only displays 3-4 random files in your video directory.  If you can live with that, then it works just fine as well.

Past Tech Gospels

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