Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are You Turned On Yet?

So you've got the latest Android or iPhone.  Are you still fumbling around looking for an open wifi to leech from?  Are you limiting your phones potential to just stationary hotspots?  Since the introduction of the iPhone, smartphones have been gaining popularity.  Similar to the "Starbucks Effect", Apple has made mobile computing accessible to the average consumer.  Now, let's unleash the full potential of your smartphone by keeping it online!

Most people (Including myself) have had horror stories of stratospheric data charges just by leaving the mobile data feature on our phones on.  I've since then, switched to an unlimited data package which has been such a sanity saver when stuck in traffic.  But to most people, an unlimited data package isn't cost effective, or even necessary.

So where does that leave the average consumer?  Someone who just wants to check their email every now and then.  Maybe check on movie schedules once a week.  Or check the traffic situation after work?  Enter the tiered data packages.

I can't speak for the other carriers (I'm hoping some of my readers will chime in with their respective carrier's offers) except for the 2 major ones in the Philippines: Globe Telecom, and Smart Communications.

Globe has new data plans called PowerSurf and SuperSurf.  Plans are as follows:

Limited Data (per KB)

Powersurf 99
-Php 99 / 30 days / 50MB

Powersurf 299
-Php 299 / 30 days / 300MB

Powersurf 499
-Php 499 / 30 days / 1GB

Unlimited Data:

SuperSurf 50
-Php 50 / 1 day

SuperSurf 220
-Php 220 / 5 days

**Beyond this, Globe's Unlimited SuperSurf at Php999 / 30 days takes over**

Smart Bro plans are as follows:

Always On 20
- Php 20 / 1 day / 25MB

Always On 30
-Php 30 / 1 day / 50MB

Always On 200
-Php 200 / 15 days / 180MB

Always On 300
-Php 300 / 30 days / 250MB

Always On 500
-Php 500 / 30 days / 500MB

Always On 750
-Php 750 / 30 days / 1GB

Always On 995
-Php 995 / 30 days / 2GB

Smart's Unlimited Data Plans

UnliSurf 50
-Php 50 / 1 day

UnliSurf 100
-Php 100 / 2 days

UnliSurf 500
-Php 500 / 5 days

**Smart also has an unlimited plan at Php999, which makes me wonder why they have a Php995 limited plan as well.**

Even though I'm on unlimited data, I still log my data usage using Call Meter NG.  And I average about over 500MB/month on my phone.  This is inclusive of all the downloads and tethering I do.  I'm definitely one of the heavier users.  If I did not tether my laptop, and didn't upload photos and video through my phone, I would probably average about 100MB/month.

Both offer unlimited data for Php999 / 30 days

The nice thing is that now data services are more affordable.  An example of how to use these new plans are:

If you're a heavy user and tether your laptop, tablet, and other devices to your phone a lot, get the unlimited plan.

If you're a light user, and just need push email sent to your phone, but don't really download or upload email attachements, get a cheap 30-day limited data plan. Either Globe's PowerSurf99 / PowerSurf300 or Smart's Always On 300

If you're a heavy user, but only need mobile internet less than 8 days a month, get an unlimited/day use.

If you're an extremely light user, and only need to use the internet less than 3 days a month, get Smart's Php20/25MB/day

Tech Trivia: Bliss. A Windows Wallpaper Story

Few people ever wonder about the origins of their desktop wallpaper.  One of the most famous photos, viewed by billions of people around the world, is the default desktop wallpaper of Windows XP.  Simply named "Bliss" this was a beautiful photo of rolling green hills and blue skies.

I had never given it a second though until I took up photography as a hobby, since I had originally thought that it was a CG render.  But it's an actual photo.  With no manipulation either. Although named "Ireland" in the Dutch version of WinXP, it was taken in Sonoma County, CA by American photographer Charles O’Rear with a view camera.
"Bliss" taken in 1996 for Microsoft

Those beautiful rolling hills are no longer green and grassy.  Since then they have been turned into a vineyard.  Quite a far cry from the relaxing view that it originally had.
"Bliss" in 2006 taken by Simon  Goldin

Monday, August 29, 2011

El Tee Eee, Samsung's New Galaxy S II LTE

Samsung has just announced an LTE version of their Galaxy S II.

Full details have yet to be announced, but so far, these are the specs:
  • 4. 5 inch Super AMOLED touch display
  • GSM/WCDMA/LTE network support
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
  • 1.5 dual core processor
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 1850 mAh battery
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread

No official announcement on availability date, or price.

Maybe Smart can offer this with their LTE service?

Original Source

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Little Tech Humor

Apparently, Steve Jobs meant to say "I reign as CEO of Apple"


Thanks to masseur from Esato for this.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fresh Out Of The Oven: Gingerbread 2.3.4 for xperia line

Sony Ericsson has just announced the latest Android update for all their 2011 xperia models.  (Sorry X10 family, no more updates for you.) As I patiently wait the arrival of the xperia ray (which I've heard may come sooner than initially planned... yay!) Sony Ericsson has been busy trying to concentrate on their Android line and reestablish their presence in the smartphone market.  Along with this great update, comes news of a new handset as well, the xperia neo v

Some of the new features to look out for with the new Gingerbread update:

Android 2.3.4 version. And we are happy to tell you that today we announced that the 2.3.4 version of Gingerbread platform for all the 2011 Xperia™ Smartphones will start the roll out during October at select markets.

Some of the features you will get from this update are:

  • Google Talk with Video Chat for smartphones with front-facing cameras
  • Updated Facebook inside Xperia™ functionality for enhanced like, share and discover abilities. We have talked about Facebook inside Xperia™ on previous posts.
  • Xperia™ smartphones introducing world’s first 3D sweep panorama functionality powered by Sony.
  • The software upgrade will enable consumers to turn their Xperia™ smartphone into a mini-mobile PC by connecting USB peripherals (mouse, keyboard or game controller) to Sony Ericsson LiveDock™ multimedia station. Connect the smartphone to a TV via HDMI to get a big screen experience.
  • Swipe text input – text input by swiping the finger from one letter to the next
  • Screen capture – allows the user to share a screen grab from anywhere in the phone
This is a good move from Sony Ericsson, who always had problems with slow software updates which severely crippled their hardware.

Gmail Attachment Issues?

Anyone else having attachment issues today?  All my Gmail accounts have the same problem.  All browsers as well.  I've also been having login issues... have to keep deleting cookies to log back in Gmail.

Upsetting the Apple Cart

This week has been quite busy in the world of tech...  not in terms of new and exciting products, but more on the business side of things.  Following the demise of HP's webOS, and Globe Telecom's scandal with Tonino Lamborghini, The Big Apple, Steve Jobs, has announced his resignation as CEO of the world's most valuable company.

It has been no secret that Steve Jobs' health has been on the decline, and no doubt the main reason behind this announcement.  And I think it's admirable that he has decided to step down in a proper manner and hand the reigns over to COO Tim Cook, rather than waiting for a less ideal time.

Whether you love Apple, or hate them, they have steered the course of technology in the past 30 years.  With either successful products, or flops, they have influenced every aspect of computing and consumer electronics.

Now, the main question on everyone's mind is, will Apple fall far from the tree?  Tim Cook has a long history with Apple, and will still have Steve Jobs on the board for the near future.  I think Apple, as a company, has more than enough capable people at the helm (unless the hire HP's Leo Apotheker who will probably bring Apple shares back down to $20 by closing down iOS) who understand his philosophy.  And I believe it can continue in a manner that he'd be proud of.  It would be a matter of whether or not the public trusts  the new leaders of Apple to continue the heritage and keep true to Jobs' vision.

With the iPad3 and iPhone 5 just around the corner, this will be interesting times for Apple.  I for one, am looking forward to what lies ahead!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Raging Bull... The Globe Tattoo vs. Tonino Lamborghini Scandal

I'm really not fond of tech companies mud-slinging... patent disputes, legal battles... it all hampers development and innovation.  But alas, companies are more than their products & services.  Enter the latest in the Philippine Telco News...  The Globe Tattoo Lamborghini Stick Scandal.

Last Aug 3, a signed letter from the CEO of Tonino Lamborghini (The lifestyle/design company, not to be confused with the Automobili Lamborghini that makes the kick-a$$ cars, whose logo is yellow, instead of red) was released stating that Globe Telecom had no rights to use their trademark name and logo.

Globe has jut re|eased an official press statement saying:

Globe Telecom obtained authorization to use the name and logo Tonino Lamborghini through an agreement with Primo Mobile, the master franchisor of mobile phone related products for the Italian brand Tonino Lamborghini.

Primo Mobile is a Singapore-based company that has a master license agreement with Tonino Lamborghini s.r.l. and is duly authorized to sub-license the use of the Tonino Lamborghini logo. The design of the Globe Tattoo Tonino Lamborghini 4G broadband stick was reviewed and approved by Primo Mobile.

Globe Telecom assures the public of its strong adherence and commitment to the highest ethical standards in business and good corporate governance. The company will not engage in any activity that will mislead the public in the course of doing business and serving its customers.

Ok, granted this may have been a miscommunication between Primo Mobile and Tonino Lamborghini and the rights to sub-license the brand.  But from a branding stand-point, it is a bit deceiving.  It's pretty much like the Ferrari & Porsche phones and laptops which do not reflect the performance, nor the exclusivity, of the respective car brands.

More than anything, I think Lamborghini and Ferrari should review their policies on brand licensing.  Specially since a statement like the one issued by Lamborghini itself has already caused serious damage.  If Globe does have authorization, it may even be grounds for a law suit against either Primo or Lamborghini for libel. (I have no legal background, so I don't know what the conditions may be for an actual case of libel, this is purely speculative based on the use of the word "fake" in Lamborghini's statement and on the assumption that Globe Telecom does have legal authorization to use the trademark.)

Lamborghini shouldn't have given Primo Mobile sub-license authority if they can't monitor the companies that are being given use of their trademark.  And Primo Mobile should be diligent in reporting any and all trademark users back to Lamborghini.

Either way, I think Globe paid uselessly for the name, when it makes no sense to be associated with a lifestyle brand that makes watches and bed linens... I think Alessi or S+arck would've been a better choice if class and lifestyle was really their intention... unless they wanted to be mistakenly associated with the car brand.

**Update 25 Aug**
Tonino Lamborghini Group wishes to clarify that Primo Mobile had been granted only a trademark license - neither a master license nor a master franchise - but such trademark license agreement was duly terminated by the licensor, Tonino Lamborghini s.r.l., some months ago. In any case, such trademark license agreement did not authorize Primo Mobile to sub-license the use of the Tonino Lamborghini trademark and logo.

If this is true, then why does Primo Mobile's website look like an official Lamborghini site?  I think Lamborghini should review all the licenses it gives out.  Looks like both Primo and Globe are in deep trouble.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jump! Smart-PLDT's Technology Center

Smart and PLDT have set up a new customer center called "jump" in Megamall.  This showcases current and upcoming telecom tech in the Philippines.  Customers are allowed to play with gadgets and test them out.  Outfitted with touchscreen tables and some of the latest gadgets, gadget lovers would enjoy coming here.  It even showcases some phones (such as the SonyEricsson xperia ray) that are not yet on the market.  Drop by!

Friday, August 19, 2011

xperia ray hands-on

Side by side against my X10 Mini Pro

My first hands-on video.  The Sony Ericsson xperia ray is on top of my "Next Phone" list.  One of my primary concerns is the ability to use it with just one hand.  I think it performs quite well, considering I'm right-handed.  The screen is excellent, boasting an 854x480 resolution in only 3.3", gives the xperia ray 296ppi (pixels per inch) which is very close to the iPhone 4's 326ppi.

The predictive input is quite responsive and easy to use for the most common functions.  Multi-tap is also available for those that use shortcuts, and odd spelling.

Monday, August 15, 2011

An Expensive Mobile Phone Purchase.

Google has gone shopping for a mobile phone... and it has decided to buy Motorola.  A total sum of US$12.5 Billion was paid for the mobile phone division of Motorola... which I'm guessing also includes a healthy patent portfolio or at least a lot of access to certain technologies.

This instantly bumps Google up to the #8 spot as a mobile phone manufacturer, aside from being the #1 Smartphone OS provider with Android.

I wonder what will their new division be called?  Hahahahaha!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sound Sculpture : Zikmu Parrot by S+arck

Parrot by S+arck: These are one of the nicest looking compact home speakers available.  Technology used are a couple of NXT (now Hi-Wave) panels that handle the high frequencies, and a couple of downward firing subs under each speaker.

The system is wireless and powered.  Each speaker needs to be plugged into a wall outlet to supply the 50watts per channel.  The system does not work individually, since the control panel is on one speaker, and the iPod dock is on the other.

The pair also accepts audio via Bluetooth but reliability drops off beyond 2m every now and then so the iPod dock would really be the way to go.  Wifi audio streaming is much more reliable.

The remote operates over RF so line-of-sight is not critical for operation.

The set comes in a really cool carrying case that looks like a trumpet bag... although I don't really see people lugging this set around after initial setup.  They are light enough to carry around from room to room.

The Parrot is perfect for art/design oriented people that want a simple, all-in-one system for a small room or apartment.  Although loud enough for large rooms, anymore than 15 people and the sound gets drowned out quite quickly.  They make great conversation starters and center pieces for room decor.

On the audio quality, they sound ok.  Not bad.  Do not think that these are speakers that happen to look nice... these are decorative pieces of furniture that happen to make sound.  I was disappointed however with their overall height.  When I first saw the pictures, I was expecting them to be at LEAST 1m tall... but they're only .75m and this doesn't really maximize the potential range and dispersion of the sound.

Forget left-right directionality since the natural dipolar properties of NXT panels creates a nice diffused sound field that has a better ambient mood than traditional speakers.  These will most likely be used in a living/dining room or casual area where conversation will take priority over sonic accuracy.  I wouldn't recommend these for listening rooms, or home theaters.

At Php88,000 (or US$1,600 abroad) they're cheap for an art piece, but not cheap for speakers.  If you consider that you're getting 2-in-1 then it's a pretty good deal.

*Audiophiles should stay away!  If you're an audiophile, want decorative speakers and have deep pockets... check out Avantgarde instead.  Their entry level system starts at Php400,000 (US$8,000)*

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Being Green-Minded... Tata's New Air Car

Although the technology for air-powered engines has been explored by others throughout history (First recorded air-powered vehicle was in France in 1840) Tata's air-powered car is the first to bring this tech within reach.  The engine in use was developed by Ex-F1, Ex-Renault engineer Guy Nègre for the MDI Group.

Aside from being eco-friendly, the Air Car has a range of about 200km per air refill (cost of an air-refill is approx US$2) making it practical for everyday use.  A small electric compressor may be added to the car to allow convenient refilling from your home outlet in 4 hours, or it may be filled by an industrial air compressor in 3 minutes.  Since there is no combustion to burn the internal lubricants, oil changes are only needed every 50,000 km or so, and it uses vegetable oil for mechanical lubrication.

The most interesting trait of this engine is that its exhaust is COLD air, negating the need for an air-con system all together.  Exhaust air from the engine is 0-15 below zero.

If manufacturers (nudge, nudge...BMW-i ... nudge, nudge...) use this engine in their upcoming hybrids, the exhaust gas alone is enough to replace the entire Li-Ion battery cooling system and air-con system.  And extend the range of any electric car by providing an on-board generator that's way easier to refill than a petrol car.  Although the torque generated is quite low, it's more than enough to act as an electrical generator to recharge the Li-Ion batteries in upcoming electric cars, lowering their over-all carbon footprint.

Tata plans to sell the Air Car in India for approx US$8000 within the year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You're Phishing Aren't You? BPI Express Online Warning

D3HXQ36UDJSH A warning to all Bank of the Philippine Islands users... Trend Micro has identified a new Phishing scam going around.  Please DO NOT click on any links found in your email.  Go directly to BPI's website.

Monday, August 1, 2011

All Your Base Are Belong To Us...

In a recent report by Canalys, Android's Smartphone marketshare has jumped up to a staggering 48%.  iOS comes in 2nd at 19%.  Apple still hold the #1 spot for leading smartphone vendor at 19% as well, since Android's marketshare is divided among all Android vendors. RIM is down to 12% from last year's 33%.

Past Tech Gospels

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