Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Friday Tech Humor

Keeping safety procedures relevant and current...

*Also testing Google's official Blogger app*

Still in it's early EARLY stages. No direct access to Picasa albums. No layout control. Very basic. I doubt I'll ever use this except in extreme emergencies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slim Is In: A Sony Ericsson xperia ray Initial Review

xperia ray
Are you tired of lugging around a huge phone?  I am.  I've been using touchscreen phones since 2003, (Sony Ericsson P800, P910i, and P1i) and they've just gotten bigger and bulkier over the years.  I've always found it inconvenient to always have to remove my phone from my back pocket when sitting down.  Bulky phones aren't quite nice to have in a shirt pocket either, as they do tend to tug on your shirt.  Which is why I was so happy when Sony Ericsson came out with the X10 Mini Pro last year.  It was, at the time, one of the smallest Android phones on the market (the smaller one being the X10 Mini w/o the keyboard) It suited my needs at the time, and I was willing to sacrifice screen size and performance for weight and portability.

It's been a little over a year since I've had my X10 Mini Pro and having been spoiled by the diminutive size, it's quite difficult to go back to the bulk of iPhone-sized (or larger) phones.  Since then, I've been waiting for a worthy replacement for my little Android.

Enter the xperia ray (yes, it's NOT capitalized).  Sony Ericsson's latest entry into the "Design and Style" smartphones.  I have to say I'm very impressed.

Beautiful aluminum frame
The Design - Not only do they break away from all the iPhone-esque styled smartphones, but they've actually gone back to the Scandinavian stylings of Ericsson which I've always loved!  The aluminum frame really makes a difference.  Much like the classic Ericsson models that used magnesium, the new xperia ray feels like a premium piece of equipment.  And although this is a purely aesthetic feature, this does make the ray look and feel more elegant than almost any plastic smartphone out on the market today.

No more labels! Yay!
Thankfully Adam-West-Batman-Style labels for features and buttons are no longer present, and external buttons are kept to an absolute minimum!  (Yes, I do know that's the camera, I don't need a permanent label to tell me it's 8.1 megapixels.  Nor do I need a label to tell me that it's a volume switch.  I also know that's the charging port, I don't need a label to tell me that either!)

Volume-wise it's 55.3 cm³ while the xperia mini is 73.2 cm³ which means it's actually SMALLER than the mini, even though sporting a much better screen (more than double the resolution).

iPod Touch 4 vs. xperia ray
It's quite thin, at 9.4mm, it's almost as thin as the iPhone4 (9.3mm), it's bigger brother the arc (8.7 mm) and the Galaxy S2 (8.5mm).  But because it's a lot slimmer than the usual smartphones, it's also a lot lighter.  At only 100g, it's 16g lighter than the Galaxy S2 and xperia arc (that's a tbsp of sugar lighter... quite a diet), despite being able to keep the same screen resolution as the bigger Android phones.

Jet black Bravia Screen
The Screen - The beautiful screen is jet black, and contrast is great.  It makes the phone look incredibly sleek.  Although the Bravia Engine only works with photos and video, the screen is excellent and does any media justice even with the Bravia turned off.  Viewing under sunlight is not a problem, and is comparable to the better screens out there.

8.1 - f2.4 - HD
The Camera - Quite decent.  It's 8.1 megapixels with an f/2.4 which makes macro shots quite nice, with decent bokeh.  But it has a tendency to over-expose shots.  The Exmor sensor does quite a decent job of low-light shots, albeit at the expense of noise... but it does keep the shutter speed down so you can take bloggable shots at your next drunken party without much blur.  This is not going to replace a DSLR or high-end point and shoot, but it can match a similarly sized PS camera.  The Exmor sensor will do much better than most PS cameras out there without a flash (I personally hate using a flash, so this is a big deal for me).  Video is in HD, and does a decent job for videos and audio.  Front camera is not as good as the front cam of the iPod Touch or iPhone 4 though.

The Audio - The external speaker is decently loud.  There's a function called xLoud that equalizes any audio played to sound louder, so this works well with ringtones and alerts.  It sounds clearer, but not as full, as the XMini2 speaker.  The included headset is nothing to blog about, it's included... that's about it.  Although it sounds better than the Apple earbuds that comes with all the iPods.  But with a decent pair of cans, the ray sounds great... no hiss, noise, or buzz. 

Gingerbread vs Skinned Ecla
The Interface - I'm quite happy with the stock interface.  I'd rather use native apps if possible.  And Sony Ericsson has done a good job of cleaning up their act.  TimeScape had a lot of promise with my X10 Mini Pro, but it bogged the already slow Android 2.1 that it was just fun to look at, but not fun to use.  I'm happy to report that TimeScape is now just an app, and no longer a burden to the phone when not in use.  It works smoothly and can actually be practical to use for either social networking, or RSS feeds.

The Preliminary Verdict - Sony Ericsson has made an excellent piece of lifestyle hardware with the xperia ray.  For those that want a great performing smartphone, that looks elegant and classy, and doesn't burn your wallet, it's an excellent all-around performer!  Stay tuned for the next few days to get an in-depth review of each feature!

Blogapalooza Sept 2011

Blogapalooza Sept 2011

Thanks to When In Manila for a great event!

Looking forward to the next one!

Thanks to all the sponsors:
Blue Water
Fully Booked
Aqua Best
Golden ABC
Easy Pha-Max
Aesthetic Science
Lay Bare
Paul Calvin's Deli
Papa John's Pizza
Polecats Manila
Business World
360 Degree Fitness Club
Human Nature
Tree Hugger
Lazer Extreme
Size Matters
The Boudoir Dolls
Yellow Cab Pizza
Matabungkay Beach Resort
Healthy First
Ascott Makati
Soyami Soya Chips
Freestyle Ballers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Smart Netphone

I was invited to the launch of the Smart Netphone.

On a branding note, I would've simply gone with SmartPhone, but then that's me.

Smart Communications has just recently launched it's own Android-powered smartphone (See? How cool would that have been?)

It's a 3.5", 600MHz model targeted as an entry-level Android device starting at Php 9,900++ (or roughly US$230 based on today's exchange rate of 42.50)  Thankfully it runs FroYo (Android 2.2) because this adds a LOT OF SPEED and stability over Eclair (Android 2.1).  Trust me, I've lived with 2.1 for almost a year now, it's neat and all, but you really feel the sluggishness of the software.  Great decision to use 2.2 instead!

Decent specs for an entry-level model.  What I do find interesting is the unique app exclusive to the Smart Netphone.   The app is a combination of services custom built by Smart for people that are just starting mobile computing.

One of the major hindrances of 3G/4G data services in the Philippines is cost.  Without a data plan, a subscriber could easily be slapped with a Php40,000 or higher bill due to the fact that current smartphones connect to the internet for almost all their functions.  Smart solves this by having a widget data manager to control data costs.  Unlike generic data apps, this one is specific for Smart's services and prices so you only spend as much as you want to.

The other great part of the app is what they call the Social Stream.  Currently tied to Facebook and Twitter, it allows you to view your Facebook Status and Twitter streams for only Php1.00 (yes, 1 peso).  What it does is isolate Facebook and Twitter streams from the rest of the internet services.  This allows you to disable mobile data charges, but continue to Facebook and Tweet all day!

Over-all I think it's a decent entry-level Android.  Thumbs up to Smart for the cost-management app and custom social stream ticker.  Although a bit on the pricey side, Smart says they have intentions of introducing lower cost NetPhones in the future.  I think this is a great campaign because they're helping consumers try out the benefits of mobile internet without hiding costs or secretly charging customers without knowing how much they're actually spending!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Google!

Google turns 13 today!

Google in 1998

Trivia: Google is a misspelled version of googol, a term for an extremely large number.  Specifically 1 followed by 100 zeros.  (Which is why Google's search results are displayed with an increasing number of o's at the bottom.  A googolplex is 1 followed by a googol of zeros.  Googleplex is the name of Google's headquarters.

More trivia, the term googol was coined in 1938 by Milton Sirotta, the 9 year old nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner to represent a large number that was still finite.  Initially described as 1 followed by as many zeros you can write before you get tired.

A googol is officially "ten duotrigintillion" on the math short-scale (million, billion, trillion type nomenclature)

**All information is, of course, found on **

Sony Ericsson xperia ray unboxing


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Android App of the Day: SMS Backup & Restore

If you like keeping old SMS, you'll find this little app quite handy.

All Android phones store contact, calendar, and email online (aka, The Cloud).  But SMS data is still stored on the phone, and isn't easily transferred from one Android to another.

Enter SMS Backup & Restore.  A simple program that exports all your text messages to a file which you can email to yourself, then retrieve and restore at a later date, or from a new phone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When You Wish Upon A Star... It Just May Fall On You!

NASA's 20 year old defunct UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) is going to crash-land on Earth sometime this Friday (Sept 23, 2011).  NASA isn't quite sure what time... or exactly where.

Their closest estimate is somewhere between Northern Canada, and the Southern tip of South America...

Sometime Friday... plus or minus a day.

It may burn up in the atmosphere... or about half a ton of debris may (or may not) hit Earth...

AND, there's a 1 in 3000 chance it may hit you!  GREAAAAT.

Well, I guess it's better than it being this kind of falling star...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hakunamatata, It Means No Worries...NOT! (OSX Lion)

Apple has always been synonymous with easy computing.  Trouble-free, hassle-free everything.  Well... upgrading to Lion is more akin to a Microsoft Windows Vista upgrade.  Now, let me clarify this by isolating this review to be specific to people UPGRADING to Lion... and not new systems preinstalled with Lion.

I was initially reluctant to upgrade to Lion, but when a Snow Leopard 10.6.8 update broke my digital audio, I was hoping it would be fixed in Lion... alas, it wasn't.  It's not as bad, but it's still doesn't work as well as it did prior to the update.  For those unfamiliar with the issue, it's quite specific: Digital audio gets disabled after watching Dolby or DTS movies.

Another issue is the Rosetta compatibility.  Granted few people now run Rosetta apps, but this usually requires you to reinstall apps that were running in 32-bit mode.  I had to reinstall Logic cuz I kept getting an incompatible version notice.

There's also the really fugly iCal skin update.  Although this can easily be fixed, I shouldn't HAVE to go through this much trouble for something that wasn't broken to begin with.  For those that don't know, iCal has been given a really fugly s**t brown skin.  So while OSX retains it's aluminum look, iCal, which used to match... now doesn't.

For those thinking of upgrading, I'd hold off... the minor updates in Lion aren't really worth it.  For those buying new systems, and doing a fresh install of all your programs, most of these won't be a problem.  Except for the s**t brown iCal.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hub-a Hub-a, Apple's New Cinema Display

Since Apple's introduction of Thunderbolt, there has been a ton of hype... but no very few products on the market.  I feel this is wasted opportunity for so many manufacturers who could've cashed in on the initial excitement of Thunderbolt.

Apple was, of course, one of the first to update their Cinema Displays to the new Thunderbolt port w/ hub.  Why is this a big deal?

For Macbook Pro owners, attaching a regular LCD allows only ONE external monitor, along with the built-in LCD.

With Thunderbolt, the Macbook Pro 13" gains the ability to power 2 external TB displays, albeit disabling the internal LCD, while the 15" and 17" MBP with graphics cards can handle 2 TB displays aside from the built-in display!

Macbook Airs on the other hand are still out of luck, stuck with just one external display, regardless of whether it's a Thunderbolt or Mini Displayport LCD.

The new Apple Cinema Display also has a Thunderbolt port at the back to allow the daisy-chaining of the second Thunderbolt display, or other Thunderbolt accessories.
(Like Sonnet's new Thunderbolt to Expresscard adapters or hard drives)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away....

...This is where it all began!

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft has spotted Tatooine... er... Kepler 16B.  The Saturn-like planet is believed to have a twin sunset, similar to the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars Universe.  The system is known as Eclipsing Binary Stars.  The new planet is said to be about 200 light years away, and is said to have a climate similar to Mars.

Artist impression of Kepler 16B
Illustration courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Panasonic Robot Joins Triathlon...

Triathletes may have some new competition.  Panasonic's Evolta has the Hawaiian Ironman Challenge in sight.  Already having done the 24 Hour LeMans, a 500km marathon from Tokyo to Kyoto, and climbed 1500 ft of the Grand Canyon, Panasonic's tiny little robot is aiming for a new challenge this 2011!

Considering how small Evolta is (I think he's adorable!)... this is actually 20x more difficult for this little robot!  Challenge begins on Oct 23, 2011!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What's Your Resolution?

Today's Tech Gospel is on screen resolution.  No, not the goals we make and break every year... but your screen resolution.

Manufacturers like bragging about higher numbers... specially phone manufacturers.  4", 5", 7" screens... HD, 720p, 1080p... but what do all these numbers REALLY mean?

For example, the iPhone has a 3.5" screen.  Which a lot of the Android phones are already boasting 4" and larger.  Does this make them better?  Not necessarily.  There are 3 sets of numbers that are very confusing, if not misleading, when comparing screens.

First is resolution.  This is the number of dots or pixels you screen has in total.

Second is screen size.  This is the actual physical measurement of your screen taken diagonally from corner to corner.

And third is density.  This is the number of pixels/dots per inch.  Simply referred to as ppi or dpi, it's this last one that makes things a bit confusing.  Larger screens that have lower ppi are cheaper than smaller screens with higher ppi.

Just as a comparison, I've resized a photo to show the exaggerated similarities and differences between these 3 properties.

For the first example, these 2 photos have the same physical screen size: 5.5" screen
 5.5" screen at 25 ppi

5.5" screen at 100 ppi

For the next example, the next two photos have the same resolution: 100 x 100 pixels
100 x 100 resolution on a 5.5" screen

100 x 100 resolution on a 1" screen

For the last example, the two photos show the same ppi / dpi: 100 ppi / dpi
100 ppi on a 5.5" screen

100 ppi on a 1" screen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Déjà Vu...

Cool, although I think I'll wait for the Power Lace models...


I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream for Ice Cream... Sandwich!

For those that don't know, Google's mobile operating system, Android has nicknames for the different versions that have been released.  All corresponding to desserts:

1.5 : Cupcake
1.6 : Donut
2.0/2.1 : Eclair
2.2 : FroYo
2.3 : Gingerbread

and for the tablets

3.0 : Honeycomb

Now, apparently, in the Google kitchen, if you combine Gingerbread and Honeycomb... you get an Ice Cream Sandwich.

Officially Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich is the proper, unified OS for both Android Smartphones and Tablets.  No longer requiring a separate system for each one, 4.0 allows developers to create apps for a broader range of consumers with compatible devices.

Google has announced that Ice Cream Sandwich will be available starting Nov/Dec of this year.

*** Sony Ericsson has also announced that their current xperia range, starting with the arc, will also be receiving Android 4.0 although the exact date was not revealed yet.  Let's hope soon! ***

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Past Tech Gospels

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