Thursday, December 11, 2008


Me and my barkada in undergrad met while playing the game, Ragnarok Online. We would spend almost all of our free time in playing the game. We invest our time and money to get far and become more powerful. It made us sad, frustrated and angry when we learn that one of us had been hacked. Items are gone, they used the account to scam people, the characters’ builds have been ruined. The company, Level Up Inc., does not entertain hacking cases and turns our attention to file the case to the NBI. At this point, we give up of ever reporting the case to anyone. The process seemed to tiresome and would probably lead to no result, our hardwork would be wasted. We wondered if they even have the technology to be able to track those culprits down? Do they have the expertise to know what to trace? We doubted it.

Up to this day, I have heard of no one in the community who has filed a case. It seemed to us a daunting task with no result. Until there are improvements made, it seems to be a dead-end.

Fairy Tale Economics part 1

The basic unit of exchange in World of Warcraft is the gold coin. In-game, you can earn gold by completing quests, from selling items you find, or by picking it up off the dead bodies of enemies you kill. If you want to be more sophisticated about it, you can also make a killing by buying low and selling high at the auction house.

However, you can also buy in-game gold with real world money. The current going rate, last time i checked, being $16.99 for every 1000 gold. That's about 58 gold coins for every dollar. Which isn't so far behind the Philippine Peso, really.

Most of the gold that's being sold in this manner is the result of "gold farming." In third-world countries where the price of labor is cheap, enterprising people buy a few computers, secure a fast broadband connection, and hire people to do the same things in-game over and over again. Things you wouldn't do for fun but, given enough time, are certain to generate considerable quantities of gold, especially if done on an industrial scale.

The point to all this, i think, is that even in an imaginary world it is possible to generate some very real value.

The Need for Speed

Companies that provide Internet Service have been continuously at war with each other for market dominance. Almost everywhere the Metro, you can always catch a glimpse of a banner or tarpaulin of a internet service provider. In Malls and train stations, flyers are frequently passed and handed out advertising their services. Some have even installed booths in malls that facilitate a Quick application service, much like a one-stop-shop for those who are looking for a quick and immediate service to get them connected.

Recently, companies tried to address this seeming thirst to get connected. Not satisfied with wi-fi hotspots, they have taken the battle to a whole new level. Now, internet connections can be had via a network riding on cell sites.

While such measures indeed provide ready and instant connections, there seems to be a recurring problem with the connections. In their advertisements, they boldly claim of speeds reaching up to 2 mbps, but the question of really reaching that advertised speed is such a myth.

I have been a subscriber of Bayantel for over a year now. What pisses me off is the fact that they are blatantly advertising of speeds reaching 1280 kbps, when in truth and in fact, such speed is not attained. I regularly chech the speed of my connection, and most of the time, its just around half of the speed that they claim, even during off-peak hours.

I tried to call their technical support service,I told them that I almost always barely reach half the speed that they claim to be is attainable, but to no avail. They say that such advertised speed is a maximum limit, meaning that they are not in any obligation to see to it that you do reach that speed.

Maybe, instead of allowing these service providers to advertise the seemingly impossible maximum limit of their service, regulations should be imposed, so that they do not deviate too far off from what they advertise, I mean, reaching 70-80% of their advertised speed may be acceptable, but providing only half of what they advertise is just too much.

No such thing as a free lunch

Google's PageRank algorithm works on the principle of citation analysis. Essentially, the search engine ranks the relevance of a particular website to your search according to the number of websites that link to it. This method results in more accurate, more relevant search results and is the foundation of Google's tremendous success. This means, however, that anyone who does research via a search engine (and, honestly, who doesn't?) will necessarily generate results which are influenced by the ranking system.

PageRank-style rankings favor commercial sites which pay other websites to advertise and link to them. So if you're looking for free information, there is a tendency that you will be frustrated by the top results. At the other end of the spectrum, the most authoritative sources of information on the web are often poorly linked or are not available for indexing by search engines. Academic output is usually of little interest outside of small groups. In the absence of commercial interest, authoritative information generally forms part of what is known as the Deep Web, which is the term used to refer to data which is not indexable by search engines. This means that the correct information you seek may appear very far down your list of search results, or may not appear at all.

If I can't trust Google, what about Wikipedia, you say? Wikipedia refers to itself as an "open-content, collaborative encyclopedia", meaning that "anyone with an Internet connection" may alter its content. Frequent users should take note that Wikipedia expressly states that it "cannot guarantee the validity of the information" and that there is no "formal peer review" and therefore no implied warranty of fitness "for any purpose or use whatsoever".

The point of all this is that, however noble the cause of free information may be in theory, money still makes the world wide web go round. Information is a resource, with significant extraction and processing costs: writing, editing, fact-checking, reviewing and so forth. Barring major changes in the structure of society, we can only continue to expect that free information is worth exactly what you pay for it.

content control

Surfing the net within campus has its limits. Besides the fact that you share bandwith with the rest of the world, you can't friendster or facebook during office hours. I wonder who determines which sites should be restricted and which sites should be allowed. I wonder what their criteria is. Most of all, I wonder how often they update their list.

I suppose the bigger question pertains to the purpose of providing internet access to students and employees. If access is purely for academic reasons, then I can imagine that content control is important. But then again, with the variety of topics and subjects that are studied in our university, can one really keep track of "legitimate" academic inquiries? I think that to limit access to certain sites only can have a "chilling effect" on the possible areas of study of the students. The fact that to open access to all sites might result in indulging in non-academic pursuits does not justify the indirect curtailment of access to information.

Perhaps we can have two networks (or whatever it is called) - one for accredited or traditional academic pursuits and another for non-traditional ones. It might even result to better web traffic and prevent lag and frequent disconnection.

Or we can just stick to the existing framework. I'm just too happy that isn't on mr. head honcho's list of blocked sites. :)

Access denied

I was quite pleased to learn that my good friend who's on the family way will really get to enjoy her maternity leave. No remote access to LN while she's out of the office: no laptops, no mobiles, no BlackBerries. No nothing. I guess management truly wants one of its top employees to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience of being a first-time mom. And rightly so. It's legal and it's moral (didn't The Good Book say "There is a time for everything"?). It's just great of her boss not to accept her offer to work while she's on maternity leave.

Surely it's another story once it's over. But for now, it's all about resisting the urge to be in two places at the same time. It's about giving employees a break even if there are ten million items on the to-do list. Though people can actually do more and be there even if they're in the middle of nowhere because of technology, they owe it to themselves to set those boundaries lest they crash and burn.


Last semester, my girlfriend almost missed a pleading deadline. It's not her fault, but since all OLA interns are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the cases handled by them, the mess-ups would still be attributed to us. It's 7 pm and the regular PhilPost offices are already closed. Upon desperate inquiry, we learned that there's a PhilPost kiosk in SM Mall of Asia which is open up to 10 pm. We rushed to Manila, feeling that this 4-unit course weighs like a 2,000-unit one. We were able to make it and mail the pleading out without issue. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to pearl shakes on the way to the parking lot. End of story.

I was reminded of this experience when I came across a page in the Court of Criminal Appeals in the State of Texas which allows emergency filing through email. If we had something similar like this, I imagined how less stressful life would have been. While we are taught to be prompt and to finish requires submissions ahead of time, the reality is that sometimes there is not enough time to do everything required of us. I hope that in the few years, the Rules would be amended so that we could e-file pleadings and motions.

Beware of Techie Terrorists

An article in the newspaper said that Mumbai terrorists relied on technology for their attacks. They navigated from Pakistan across the Arabian Sea using a global positioning system handset. They knew the exact location of their targets and used the most direct routes to reach them, thanks to the satellite photos from Google Earth. Throughout the siege they coordinated with “handlers” in Pakistan using internet phones to keep the authorities from tracing their calls. These handlers watched the news updates on television, informing the attackers on the movement of security forces and giving instructions on what best to do. By their standards, the plan was highly successful. Many people died.

The article made me think about two things, the first being the need for responsible journalism. A balance must be maintained between the right to information and the protection of national security. Second is the danger posed by the access to technology that everyone, including would-be criminals have. I will not delve into how technology can be used for evil purposes or that it in itself is an evil device. We all know it is also capable of the opposite. The authorities in India were stunned with the use of sophisticated technology. Now, God forbid that happens here, imagine the havoc it would wreak. The policemen here may not even know what hit them. It’s time that the police force kept abreast with modern technology. The non-pro version of Google Earth will not cost them anything anyway.


My dad is a marine engineer and this means that he’s out of the country for the most part of the year. Since the advent of the internet and his discovery of skype, we have had the opportunity to talk and see each other almost every day, albeit through our monitors. Regardless, I still get to see his face and hear his voice while he shows me what he’s having for lunch. I can hear the scratch in his voice if he’s getting a cold and he sees my sunken eyes when I haven’t had enough sleep. If only for this minute semblance of connection, I would have to say that I appreciate, and even celebrate, technology and its innovations. Especially one that is free! It really is amazing how it can make my dad, who is miles away, seem like he is right here in our living room.

Sometimes, though, I have to admit that this whole set-up makes me miss him more and makes me wish that I can hug and kiss him for real. But I guess, all things considered, this is better than nothing at all.

Stalker Mode

In a High School reunion…

A: So what’s new with our batchmates?

B: I heard Ms. M got married already. I saw it in Facebook. She married a foreigner.

C: Did you see Mr. T.’s pictures with his boyfriend in Friendster? He has already admitted he’s gay.

D: Have you talked to him lately?

C: No, I just saw the pictures.

It seems that in today’s times, the latest “chismis” could be availed of through “stalker” mode. It’s easy to know so many details about a person you know from the past or a person you don’t even know through their pages in Friendster, Facebook, Multiply, etc. Take your pick. Ironically, while these networking sites inform us about friends and acquaintances, these also deter the need to connect personally. It’s as if people are contented to seeing updates on these sites instead of setting a date with people they haven’t seen in ages. The very instrument that supposedly brings people together becomes the same medium that may discourage personal get-togethers.

Politics and the internet

I admire the way that President-elect Obama's campaign was handled. They made efficient use of the internet to organize their supporters and raise funds. The internet was also utilized to endear him to the voters and make him more accessible. I would say that this strategy is one of the many factors that spelled victory for him.

In the Philippines, the previous senatorial election also made use of the internet (although not as extensively as in the US). We all remember Senator Escudero's accounts in various social networking sites. He won his Senate seat by a landslide.

It's amazing and quite ironic to see that a medium viewed as modernly impersonal and somewhat robotic has made our national leaders more approachable and human. Details about their projects and advocacies have become readily available. With that, I agree with Charm, technology is indeed amazing. :)

Develop the Developing

Quite admittedly, the technology bug has everyone across nations smitten. Each and every day, without fail, something new comes along and catches our fancies. There is seemingly no end to this perennial cycle and no one can be sensed complaining.

Looking at it from the perspective of a developing country, however, it seems that the development of information and communications technology has slowed down, not in terms of the realization of new products or advances, but as regards the purposes for which they are created.

It is for this reason that I wish to see technologies developed in furtherance of the goals and ambitions of the developing countries. While it is also to our benefit that our developed counterparts continue to grow in the field and as such develop even further in consonance with the ends they seek to meet, it is quite unfortunate that developing countries take the back seat in this regard and fail to see and take advantage of the potential that is looming in the not so distant future.

I’ve seen the face of progress… And its name is Chuck

I was squeezing my mind grapes pretty hard to think of a blog topic for today, but a topic eluded me and left me wanting for purple idea juice. But then, out of nowhere, I remembered this awesome picture of Chuck Norris in front of an American flag, an Uzi in each hand, a chest too shiny not to be waxed. I’m almost sure it’s his driver’s license. It got me thinking about how there are probably thousands of people out there using that very picture for their online profile, trying to attract new friends or sell their wares with a picture that shows their awesome sense of irony, or ironic sense of awesomeness. Either way, it’s what they choose to represent themselves. It speaks volumes of the times we live in, that Chuck Norris in full awesome mode is an acceptable substitute for a smiling face, a hello and a handshake. Trust is more of an issue, since marauding schemers can hide behind Chuck’s oiled-up man-chest. Laws are definitely trying to protect us from would-be Chucks, but I fear that the legislative process is much too cumbersome to keep up with the furious fists of Chuck-fueled progress.

Online political activism

Last night, I watched a documentary video about people from the advertising industry devoting their time and effort in producing political satires which they said will be available to a wider audience by using non-traditional media. And guess what media they were referring to? It's no other than the online video sites such as YouTube and Metacafe. According to these political satirists, they believe that using these websites would be more effective and economical than using the conventional media such as radio and television. Radio and television are geographically limited in scope unlike Youtube and Metacafe which can be viewed from anywhere in the world. Moreover, everyone can watch their creations anytime. And they don't even have to worry about where to get the money to pay the expensive airtime.

Political activism has now embraced the power of information and communications technology to keep itself in tune with the changing times.

This is not the first time that technology has been harnessed in defense of the political liberty of the nation. Back in 2001, EDSA II would not be made possible if not for those who used the SMS services of their mobile phones, i.e. the so-called "text brigades" to call on each other to gather at the EDSA shrine and rally against then President Erap thus eventually resulted to his ouster.

Indeed, information and communications technology has become a very important part of our lives.

Raymond R. Roque

Blog entry #4

Streaming Tragedy

I recently came across an item in Time about a 19-year-old boy who committed suicide during a live video chat. The father is now calling for the filing of criminal charges, but the owners of insisted that they are free from any liability whatsoever. Worse, they claim that they are now "confident that all online community members will be ever more vigilant in monitoring and protecting their fellow users in the future." They sure do trust their members a lot. It may seem like the height of injustice for the website to deny any semblance of liability for providing the main forum that allowed such a tragedy to happen, but you cannot really blame the owners for the lack of administration or control over what goes on during the live broadcasts. That is after all the very essence of the service they provide. People from all over the world control a network of diverse channels by streaming events online. The creator of the website first thought of the idea by attaching a webcam on his person to be able to stream events to an online channel 24/7. Similar to the Truman Show, but at least he knew he was being watched. And now several issues are arising as to whether those who witnessed the suicide are also to blame, as though they acted as a form of enabler to the boy's unbalanced mental state. Teenage suicide is tragic enough as it is without the added horror of it being witnessed by disinterested strangers. Oftentimes, the reality behind a human experience is really magnified whenever it transpires online.

How to get into the best law firms before Christmas

"...Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down... never gonna turn around and desert you..."

Sorry I couldn't resist. For those of you who found this post weird, absurd, or simply non-sensical, let me explain...

While mindlessly surfing through Youtube looking for the latest gametrailers, I happened to stumble across a video with the caption "COD 5 (call of duty) multiplayer sneak preview"At that time, the much anticipated video game had not yet been released and so I hurriedly clicked the link... I had been eagerly awaiting this latest installment of the COD franchise ever since my friends and I became addicted to COD 4. My eyes were literally salivating for the latest screenshots of yet another reason to keep from studying when suddenly... BAM! On screen, with his wavy brown hair and white trench coat, Mah nigga, Rick Mother#%$ing Astley! Singing what was, arguably, the National Anthem of people from the 80's (yes, I am that old...)

I didn't know whether to cry in frustration or laugh at yet another reminder of a time when music actually meant something. Anyway, that's the story of my first rick roll.

I found the experience funny in an odd sort of way and I was much more surprised to find out this was actually a well known meme. A meme is a catch phrase or concept that quickly spreads from person to person via the internet (sort of like an inside joke). This may take the form of internet phrases such as BRB, WTF, STFU, GTG, LOL, LULZ, etc. or internet pranks or gags such as the rick roll.

A lot of well known rick rolls exist on Youtube particularly the one with Obama rickrolling McCain during a speech (look it up, you'll be ROTFL). Astley even appeared live during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade to rick roll audiences with a lipsync performance of his signature hit. Heck, even Barry Manilow included this single in his latest album release.

So this made me curious as to where exactly this meme originated Research led me to a forum (which I won't name here as the contents of which are well... let's just say an acquired taste) where the practice was to alter the link to a particular picture or site of interest in such a way as to instead lead to a thread or site containing an edited picture of a duck with wheels. This was known as duck rolling. The user at that point is said to have been "Duckrolled". The practice later evolved into linking a picture or site to a video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up". Hence, the term Rickroll.

So for those of you reading this. You've just been Rickrolled!

Here's a chart of what kind of internet user you are based on the number of times you've been rickrolled:

0<1 - The efficient user. You only use the net for work related activities such as sending homework, writing blogs for class, researching cases etc.

1 - The moderate user. Aside from work, you take the time to do some leisure surfing to check up on the latest trends or gossip. You might even be taking time to do some intelligent reading and just happen to stumble upon my blog. (hehe)

2 or more - The power user (a.k.a. the forum shopper, the porn afficionado, the geek, the gossip girl). you can't live without the internet. You take it with you everywhere you go. You either : a.) spend most of your time blogging your every day existence b.) regularly update your Myspace, Facebook, Friendster page c.) watch too much porn d.) are a techie and want to know about the latest piece of gadgetry you can acquire.

Phone watch

Have you seen the smallest phone to date? Several watch phones have been showing up online. No, you don't put your wrist near your ear to make calls. These have bluetooth so you can look like you are schizophrenic when making calls.

These are not just watches with phones. Some of them have cameras and even touch screens! You can even opt to remove the bracelet to use them as pendants like mp3 players. Yes, some phone watches have mp3 players built in too!

I want one!!! I like the white Hyundai W-100 unit. It looks like the bulky sports watches. The cheapest I have seen online cost P9,500. Perfect for kids who lose their phones every so often. I'm still asking my mom to get me one for Christmas.

Giulia Pineda


It used to be that the human relationship was defined by the personal contact between the actors in that relationship and conveyed in the form of the spoken word or written word.

These words, back when I was in college two decades ago, were transmitted by the average person using the analogue phone, a post it left on the org bulletin board, or by passing along someone’s message.

Back then those who had cellular phones (which closely resembled what a PLDT lineman uses on the job) were probably some bigwig politician’s kid or some big businessman’s scion. Or probably some government deep penetration agent.

Now, with the advent of efficient and affordable means of communication, there seems to be a disconnection.

With communication lines in relationships now governed by the quick scrolling of the keys and a click of the send button, there seems to be little need to call up someone’s parents as often, or to send little notes with flowers, or even dropping in on a friend for a quick hello.

Sadly and ironically though, technology is one reason personal communication is taken for granted and sometimes even the inbox isn’t so busy receiving the virtual substitutes.

Humor Post

I admit I’m not an enthusiastic social networking site member. The two accounts that I did sign up for have not been updated for months, and frankly it’s a “compliance” site. I signed up for because everyone had one and my friends insist that I make one for myself. Well, this week Jon Favreau (no, not the actor), may be having second thoughts about his Facebook account. Favreau was Obama’s speech writer during the 2008 election and has been featured by Newsweek (Jan. 2008) as a rising star. According to published reports, a picture of Favreau groping a life-size cardboard cut-out of Hilary Clinton was posted in Facebook last Friday. While the said picture was only there for two hours before being removed, it was long enough for the picture to go viral.

Incidents like this that reminds me that technology has made the world so small. With the internet, information is available on demand, communication is instantaneous and everything is within your reach. However, it also erased the partition we’ve created in our lives: school, work, family, etc. In each section, whether we admit it or not, we have different personas and as much as possible we try to keep them separate. It used to be that you can be goofy with your friends, bratty with your parents and serous with your work and it would be fine. But now everything we do (well those that we chose to post anyway) becomes available for public consumption. And we know people can’t help it but react and form opinions. So what may be hilarious to you and your friends, maybe offensive to others who see it. In Favreau’s case, he seemed to have gotten lucky as Hilary Clinton has a sense of humor. Clinton aide Philippe Reines told the Washington Post that “Sen. Clinton is pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application."

Avast Ye Hornswaggler!

I'm pretty sure it's been settled that Vista sucks. From the horrible new interface to the lackluster graphics performance, it never lived up to its promise to "bring clarity to the world". Users haven't been buying Microsoft's inflated Vista sales figures either. The interesting thing is that some posit that the degree and rate at which a program is pirated directly reflect on its commercial success--which is true in this case, since the older moneymaker, Windows XP, maintains a steady stream of downloads from torrent sites as opposed to the newer but less popular Vista.

This development seems to apply to other forms of media as well. Some TV producers now use figures such as seeder/leecher counts as research tools for gathering indicators of current trends. This certainly makes sense--more downloaders and more rippers means a greater legitimate demand for the program, TV show, movie or album being pirated. Some even claim that broadcasters deliberately leak copies of their programs online to guage potential success later. Perhaps producers should take a note from these pirates (a little healthy competition shouldn't hurt)  and employ their cheaper, more efficient modes of production. 

I guess piracy is the sincerest form of flattery.


I recently stumbled upon a pretty interesting (one might say disturbing) article in which says that a handful of young American teenagers is becoming enamored with the idea of snapping nude and semi-nude photos of themselves and texting them to their boyfriends, classmates and friends. It is amazing to me how technology in general has shaped the consciousness of even the most private areas of our lives. The internet, in particular, has re-shaped the definition of what it means to "sexually experiment." I am, however, alarmed at the idea that young girls ( and also young boys) thinks that sending pornographic pictures on the internet thinks the whole thing is completely harmless fun. The sheer possibility that our high school sisters will post pornographic videos on the internet gives me nausea. Seriously, these high school kids better stop posing and posting.

More work for us (me)

Due to the controls being intended by States to regulate blogs and due to the sprouting of litigations on blog content (see blogging can be dangerous to your health), it seems to me that blog lawyering is the future of our business. With 100 millions users, I think it is realistic to say that about 15% of those would result to lawsuits, which means that you have 15 million clients. Wow.

However, since a lawyer should not encourage litigation, in the spirit of good faith, I am giving some tips on how to avoid on-line litigation, which is from First, your blog should contain some sort of disclaimer liability. Second, you should not knowingly post libelous statements. Third, you should be careful in posting materials from other websites. Fourth, you should edit blogs that can be defamatory. By taking these steps, says that you limit your exposure to liability. Now, if you are still sued despite following these steps, then you can get a good lawyer to defend you, which is obviously me, two (2) years from now.(hopefully)

Blogging can be dangerous to your health (or liberty)

With people keeping personal web sites reaching to about 100 million in 2007, the popularity of blogs has been in epic proportions. Anything that good, however, has its price. In Malaysia, two prominent bloggers were sued by a pro-government newspaper over alleged defamation. Further, just this September, a blogger was ordered to be detained by Malaysia’s interior minister for two years for insulting Islam and a certain political leader.
In Belarus, a new law waiting for the signature of its President, Alexander Lukachenko, seeks to force all media to undergo a new registration process, and to provide for stricter state control of online publications. These events show the response that some people (in others, States), especially those under the scrutiny of blogs to react in a rather draconian manner. With any person capable of making blogs on about anything under the sun, the risk of balancing the right to expression and the right to privacy of contending parties are placed under a microscope. With the popularity of blogs and its probability of swaying public opinion, states are now keen to control the otherwise free flow of ideas of people. Now, a blog bashing Gloria seems not to be a good idea after all…. Or is it?


San Francisco, CA: It’s 5am. I need to go to work especially early today. I have a 7 a.m. PST/ 10 a.m. EST conference call with the clients in DC. I’m nervous and feel sick to my stomach. It feels like someone is moving around inside me. Oh wait, I’m pregnant. Good morning baby!

Uh-oh. Baby is moving about making it especially difficult for me to well, move about. It’s already 6 and I haven’t showered or eaten yet. Bad sign. I decide to work from home. I fire up my laptop, log on to my company’s remote environment. (Powered by Citrix. Find out more here.) I open my email and pull up all the documents I also log-on to webex so my client in DC can see my computer screen as I click around software we are creating for them.

Now I need to dial in. I log on to skype and make the call.
I see that my boss is on-line. I inform her that I will be doing the call from home and will be in after lunch. She types back with “That’s fine. See you later.”

I stretch out in my couch, laptop on my lap, headset on, rub my belly and sigh contentedly, “yep, everything’s fine.”

Convergence PART I

From what I gather, there are currently 2 pending Senate Bills (608 and 1796) with regard to Convergence Policy in the Philippines. So what is Convergence? The proposed Bills give their own definitions, but they just gave me a headache. To spare you the same pain, here’s the most succinct description I found: “Convergence is the merging of currently separate streams of data into a single stream.”

As was explained in class, the invention of digital technology has allowed different types of information to be converted into electrical pulses, packaged into uniform sizes and sent through an optic fiber pipe in correct order. So, think of it as video, audio, and data information all travelling together on one superhighway in their little telecom carpool; whereas before, they took separate cars and separate routes. Well, that’s how I understand it anyway. In real life, I guess that would translate to 3G calls, Skype, and pretty much anything you can download off the Internet – music, movies, games, etc.

So what does this all mean to us? Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Unlimited Communication

Mama's in Thailand and Papa, in Dubai. It has been difficult not having parents around since my siblings and I are scattered all over Laguna, Cavite and Metro Manila. Before, my parents would require weekly reunions, but since they aren't here, I rarely see my siblings anymore.

The nicest thing my mom thought of before she left for Thailand was getting us the Sun Unlimited Call and Text. It was compensation for lost presence. She gets to pay whenever we need to, or want to, call them. I get to call my sibling 24/7 unlimited (for as long as there is signal).

The best thing about getting Sun is that we can talk all we want for as long as we want. We can still scream at each other without worrying about how long the call is! I honestly think that my siblings, especially my sisters, and I got closer because of it. There's this comfort in knowing that they're just there and that they're just a call away.

Until now, much as I am the "ate", I still call them just to share if I had a really good or a really bad day. Load is not an issue; after all, it's unlimited.

Giulia Pineda

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I love audiobooks. I love how I can still be “reading” a book even when I’m already in bed, lying in the darkness.

Some audiobooks are read by the author. This fact I especially enjoy when listening to poetry anthologies, much like how my significant other enjoys listening to Hitler’s speeches (shudder). I had fun listening to the audio versions of humorist David Sedaris’s books which he read himself. It was amusing how gay he sounded, which was perfect since most of his essays are about his exciting homosexual life.

Other times the audiobook is dramatized with a full cast. This is like being in a stage play, wearing a blindfold. Or, it can be likened to those AM radio dramas, our grandparents’ version of the telenovela.

For honing my spy skills, language lessons on audiobooks are essential. As of now I can say “I would like some coffee with milk” in twelve languages. (I’m exaggerating a bit. Poetic license.)

And of course, there are the audiocodals. Now you can study in the dark, while taking a crap, dreaming awake or asleep. This is law school following you anywhere, anytime.

But the greatest advantage of audiobooks is that now, blind people can “read” books too, and more frequently, since audiobooks are more available and accessible than Braille.

Ah, technology. Amazing.

Hear, hear.

Plastic Card

Ever since I've opened a bank account with an ATM card, it was only until recently when I started using my card in purchasing from the malls, restaurants and coffee shops. And funny thing was the bank teller did not even know that we can actually use the ATM/debit card in Starbucks and further asked me in which store I was able to use the card.

The impulse was just the same when using a credit card, spend more. But since it's debit, I don't need to worry about burdensome compounded interests monthly.

I've also signed up for online banking so that I can easily track my transactions without having to go the bank itself. Aside from tracking transactions, I can also pay bills and transfer funds by logging into my online banking account.

I'm not worrying too much about my information getting stolen because one, my deposit is in a quite measly amount and two, I haven't put any other information like other accounts with other companies etc. I haven't read about the terms and conditions regarding security and privacy but I supposed the website is secured because it opens up another window directing to eBanking and yes, the https is there with the VeriSign Secured logo.


Obsolescence. That’s a concept in product design. Everything we buy has a shelf life, not just dairy products. Because of make and materiality, things wear out. Way back then, especially the generation that grew up with the war, things were used until they broke down. Then you threw it away and bought a new thing to replace what you could not use anymore. Maybe the new thing was better in some way, had more levers or a function the old one didn’t have, unless you liked the old thing so much that you bought it again.

My sister and I used the same celphone model for five years —the fat Nokia with the round keypad. I think it was the first phone to have a built-in video camera (which was really, really cool at that time). About a year or two into owning this phone, more models came out, with video cameras and mp3 players and Swiss army knives (okay, no Swiss army knives). Never mind that a vast majority of mobile phone users didn’t really need the software capabilities of a secret agent. These new celphones were skinny, slick, well-designed pieces of hardware that launched in well-dressed warehouse parties. They were cool, and three years into owning our phones, our fat Nokias with the round keypads were not so cool.

Some people would go to my sister and I (separately, of course) “Hey, why don’t you get a new phone?” My phone was fine, so was hers, and it irritated us no end. Since we seemed to get it from all sides, we came to this conclusion: our working phones had become obsolete because they were no longer cool. I remarked that maybe some people think of the celphone as a reflection of one's self, a status symbol of sorts —if my phone is cool, I am cool, too. To the contrary, I would like to think I have enough personality and I don’t need my celphone to define me.

When my celphone had reached the apex of its usability (stopped charging, died for no reason), I bought a new one. And it is pretty slick. Nonetheless, my sister and I still don’t understand why we should buy a phone when what we have works fine, and a lot of people don’t understand why we won’t buy something new just because it’s better. If I were to indulge the view that celphones are our selves, then I prefer to think of myself as my old phone —a bit worn, full of character that a lifetime spent living brings, uncommon, a little old-fashioned—you know—almost obsolete.

Why People Are Scared?

Last October, in a span of 10 minutes, Apple's stocks fell 10%. It rebounded again only to close 3% lower for the day. What caused such sharp drop? An internet rumor posted in Cable News Network's iReport (CNN iReport).

iReport is a journalism project by CNN that encourages people from anywhere in the world to provide pictures and videos of breaking news. It is a form of pulic journalism that allows people without professional journalism training to help spread news by tapping modern technology, using the internet as its main distribution engine.

What was the news about? The news headlined that Apple CEO Steve Jobs suffered a heart attack. The rumor was vehemently denied and the stocks stabilized afterwards. CNN removed the post and the US Securities and Exhange Commission (SEC) acted on the matter. Apple recovered. But it created quite a scare.

While the threat of malicious posts do not override the benefits of citizen journalism, it still cements fear on the minds of people who distrust the internet and anything technologically forward. Changing people's mindsets isn't easy especially when the system is circumvented at will or is still unregulated. Using something new starts when the person trusts the system, so long as that sense of security isn't addressed and fear is not abated, one would not dare enter the fray.

Baguilat, Raymond Marvic "Ice" C.


Have you seen You’ve Got Mail? I recently caught sight of this movie while channel surfing at home. It is probably high on a lot of people’s list of the top romantic movies ever made. It’s so far up that a generation of pinoys have invaded the net trying to hook up with a meg ryan or a tom hanks.

We’ve also heard of the horror stories in e-dating. We’ve heard of predators, stalkers and posers but it’s quite novel to actually find a “role-player.” What do I mean?

I have this friend who thought she’d found her tom hanks. He was a soldier soon to be shipped-off to Iraq. He lives with his sister and his 5 year old boy. He stayed friends with his best bud from High School and he looked like a decent, freedom loving american.

My friend got into a relationship with the guy and eventually met his sister, kid and friend via yahoo messenger. It was fine for a while until one day she discovered that the kid, the sister and the friend did not exist. All their accounts were just alternate log-in accounts of the guy she was e-dating.


Digital and analog Christmas

As of this year, I officially have 2 OFW friends. The first to leave was Malor, who works in Bahrain as a flight attendant, followed by Ria who is now in Turks and Caicos (a Carribean tax haven) counting money of shady depositors – she’s an accountant.

Anyway, this Christmas, there will be no partying for our group. Instead, the remaining 5 of us will content ourselves visiting Malor’s and Ria’s family whom they left behind. Ria has instructed her mother to cook for us. I hope she also instructed her to buy gifts for us. We could then video chat with Ria and Malor as well. At least, during Christmas, we continue to be complete as a group, although cyber in nature.

As for my mother and her barkada abroad, they haven’t caught up with the Internet yet, or at least not completely. They still send each other Christmas cards with family pictures in them, and call every now and then. Although my Ninang Aleth gets in touch with me through email, she gets in touch with my mother through greeting cards and long letters.

This morning I saw my mother writing Christmas cards for her friends abroad, which she will send next week, and will get to the recipient in January, after Christmas. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Maria Cristina Yambot

Beam me up, Scottie

A few weeks ago, our professor in International Environmental Law held class via phone. I’m not sure if it was possible through Skype or it was a regular call. If it was the latter, it would have cost a bit because she was calling us from Hong Kong and was talking to us, save for a few interruptions, for most of the two-hour class. One classmate who came in late thought that it was a recording that we were listening to.

Maybe pretty soon, Dean Leonen would be using such technology to divide his time speaking in all those wonderful fora we are sponsoring at the College these days. Kinda like how Obi Wan and company communicated, which Gen X’ers, and even Baby Boomers, found so cool then.

CNN did just that and was extremely proud of being the first to do so when doing the coverage of the recent US elections.

Anyways, the point is that technology has come such a long way that what was considered fiction/fantasy are now rapidly turning into reality, even here at the College of Law.

Wow, we even have wi-fi outside of the library.

Cautious But Not Afraid

This upcoming holiday and the party that goes with it, people are flooding my email with wish lists (or their amendments to their previous wish lists). Browsing through all of the messages to avoid not being able to read any of the more important messages in my email, I happened to read an email about a help on a wish list, more specifically on where to find a book of Orhan Pamuk as a gift. It mentioned that one can easily find such book in It further mentioned the ease of transaction that comes along with going to the said website and that, based on previous experience with the website, it seems trustworthy.

From my experience, when it comes to commercial transactions made through the internet, Filipinos are cautious. And I think I understand why. For example, I myself have yet to actually buy something through the internet because I am not sure whether the object that I buy would be able to reach my physical destination, or for that matter, how and against whom would I go against (sue, maybe) if after I paid for such merchandise, it does not reach me. I refuse to pay using a credit card because somebody might hack the site, take the credit card number, and use it without my knowledge.

Given all these cautiousness, the message I received from my blockmate helps in alleviating some of the doubts I have in internet transactions. I guess this particular mode of transacting business would not prosper if it was not secure in the first place. I still need to know more about doing business through the internet. But I can now say that while I am still cautious, I am no longer afraid.

Rivera, Jan Michael A.

Call Centers

I've been getting more and more calls and text messages from call center agents selling health insurance, garden implements, sports club memberships, and tours to animal parks and sanctuaries. This annoyance became a topic of conversation with some friends in the call center industry and they taught me the basics in telemarketing.

Telemarketers easily get contact details from referrals from a person's own circle of friends. But the thing I didn't realize is how thorough some a call center's database can be. Call centers "affiliate" and "partner up" with older, more established niche-market stores selling specific goods like specialty toys, flowers for delivery, books, hardware, etc. These stores share, swap or even sell the names and credit details of their customers. Call centers then build their database with this information through what they call "leads management."

So I guess it makes sense that I've attracted this kind of sales pitch. My last online purchases are for organic ingredients, multivitamins, and health foodstuffs. I've also made contributions to a wildlife sanctuary and recently joined a marathon, which required filling up an online information sheet.

scared...for my identity

My phone and wallet got stolen last weekend…

Curiously, what made me cry (more) was not the fact that my cards were stolen, but that my phone and years worth of contacts, is now gone. I’ve relied too much in that little gadget that now I regret the day I stored my important information in it. I have practically a whole bio-data in it, complete with PIN number, account numbers, addresses.

It drives me crazy that the stranger who has my phone knows more about me than my family…and he might use it against me. I’m also scared of identity theft…it sounds so sci-fi, but with all the information in my phone, it’s possible that this person could actually assume my identity.

The convenience of having all your information neatly stored in one gadget is really a plus, but it’s also not safe. We are living in a time where we need to protect not only our physical safety, but also the safety of our “identity”. If we take the longer, more brightly lit street when going home at night, I think it’s also time, to take the more careful route in storing our personal information.

Restructuring Philippine Education

Modernization has been quite a rage in our government’s initiatives in revitalizing the education system. Numerous plans and objectives had been laid out to achieve such ideals. But at the end of the day, there comes the problem of implementation.
It is only but fair to reason that the use of ICT in practice in local schools is not widely implemented since it is quite apparent that there is a lack of resources to provide all students and teachers such access to ICT facilities.

So what do we do?

I earnestly believe that the key to success lies in the partial abandonment of the present form of teaching and therefore increasing our reliance on ICTs to achieve the desired results. For example, the development of interactive educational software may be used to replace textbooks in the entire Philippines. Such would significantly reduce costs and said resources can be channeled to the procurement of more computers for the students to use.

Most importantly, it would provide the Filipino students an opportunity to be equipped with level of computer literacy required in the global market. It is a drastic measure which needs to be considered by the government.

Linking and Liability for Creators [Part III]

Before we go to the second type of link in HTML, let me briefly discuss the difference of the HREF, form-wise. Although HREF links perform the same basic function, they may appear to the user in many different forms depending upon how they are "embedded" within a web-page. Links also commonly appear as highlighted, underlined or otherwise prominent text. Text with embedded links is called "hypertext."
The second type of link in HTML is an IMG ("IMaGe") link. An IMG link instructs a visiting browser to supplement the text on the page with an image contained in a separate image file. However, like the HREF link, an IMG link can also reference a file from a completely different web site. An example would be a web page on art that contains images stored around the world. The web page could contain the following text: "Here it is, my favorite painting, 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' by Vermeer." Using an IMG link, the web page could then direct the visiting browser to retrieve an image of the painting from one of the National Gallery's web-pages, and place it immediately below the text. To the end-user, the integration of the two pieces of content (text and graphic) is seamless, despite the fact that they were taken from two very different sources. The user would never know (though she might suspect) that the image was not created or stored locally. In this respect, an IMG link is different from an HREF link; a user following an HREF link is usually aware that he has "changed pages," either from the different appearance of the newly accessed page, or from the change in the URL address display in the web browser. (Brad Bolin of

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII] [Part IX] [Part X]

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Limited Law

The Electronic Commerce Act (RA8792) uses the functional equivalent approach, whereby electronic documents are given the same legal recognition and effect as written documents. The significance of this law is that equal treatment is granted to paper and electronic transactions, such that its validity isn’t dependent on the medium in which the act is contained. The payment of bills over the counter and the issuance of a written receipt, for example, is no different from the payment of bills online and the issuance of a confirmation number as evidence of the transaction. This recognition by Congress, of the development of technology, and their giving electronic transactions binding effects, has facilitated the development of the economy and paved the way for more efficient international trading.

However, RA8792 is a limited law. While it seeks to meet issues brought about by the continuous advancements in telecommunications, it fails to address other significant legal issues, such as violation of privacy and security, questions of jurisdiction and venue, intellectual property issues, and cybercrime. Cleary, while this law is a huge leap for our country, it may only be considered a foundation for the development of more legislation which will be able to address these specific legal issues.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Linking and Liability for Creators [Part II]

Today, there are many types of links. But we will focus only on the two types of links under the HyperTextMarkup Language (HTML), which is used to program pages on the web. The first, an HREF ("Hypertext REFerence") link, instructs a browser to stop viewing content transmitted from one location, and begin viewing that of another. The link can bring the viewer to a different point on the same page, such as the index links on this top of this page, or to a different page in the same site. For instance, the index links above can be view by following this link (which keeps the viewer on this page), while the Part 1 of this article can be viewed by following this link (a different page in the same site). Alternatively, it is simple to use an HREF link to refer to a site that is not on the local web site at all (such as this link to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office). A single web-page may contain dozens of links to other web-pages. That same page may itself be the "destination" of dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of other links on other pages. (Brad Bolin of

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII] [Part IX] [Part X]

Thursday, December 4, 2008


New York, 2007: Doris, an investment banker, has a highly stressful job. The only person that brightens her day is her black and buffed secretary, Boris. Now Doris has a thing for Boris. Doris added to her New Year’s resolution to get into Boris’s pants within the year.

In pursuit of this (ig)noble goal, Doris sends Boris numerous double entedre emails in addition to work-related emails where Boris is addressed as “My Well-Done Secretary.”

After a year of this, Boris has finally had enough. He files a sexual harassment suit against Doris, alleging that she created a hostile-work environment.

Manila, 2008: Enter the discovery lawyer. Her company has been contracted by Boris’ lawyers to find evidence which would be relevant to the case. She now has the task of going through a year’s worth of emails and other documents. She will use a discovery tool such as Attenex. Attenex has the capacity to search through thousands of electronic documents, which our discovery lawyer can easily categorize as either relevant or not relevant.

Oh by the way, our discovery lawyer earns almost twice as much as her peers employed in a top 3 firm. She has been trained in the US in the most advanced legal technology software. She has also just passed the New York bar, where her review, air fare, hotel accommodations, and per diem were paid by her LPO employer.

*Legal Process Outsourcing

"Rich in the sensitivity of your desktop to make sure spectacular!"

In a nutshell, augmented reality systems superimpose computer generated objects onto the real world, allowing for real-time interaction in full 3D. While the technology has been around for a while, it comes as little surprise that the Japanese adult toy industry has been among the first to commercially capitalize on it.

Enter every otaku's dream come true, the Denno Figure Aris (Alice). The product comes with a "cyber-cube" which when viewed through a webcam, generates a digital "cyber-maid" on-screen which one can then interact with using a "cyber-stick" (no pun intended).

Crazy? Or crazy awesome? As advertised, you can peep, touch and change her clothes virtually. Couple that with the company site publisher's promise that it will "make sure spectacular", well, that's just plain "cyber-creepy".

It's not hard to imagine the possible applications, like giving cyber-hugs over video chats with loved ones or trying on those tight looking cyber-pants before actually purchasing a real pair. Still, I'm pretty sure the technology is bound to be abused in a potential wave of digital debauchery (as if the Aris figure isn't perverted enough), creating a new breed of virtual voyeurs.

Getting poked on Facebook is annoying enough, but this is just nuts.

(Fre)e Books

Technology has changed how book publishing works, as it has changed everything else in the world of media. – Bruce Jackson

When Breaking Dawn, the 4th installment of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer was announced for release, I was one of the millions who had made advance reservation arrangement for a copy of the book. When my copy was handed to me, I wasted no time and started reading. While my reaction would seem normal, the fact was I had started reading the book a day before its worldwide release. An e-book version had leaked two days before the book was officially released.

The problem of leaked eBooks has been plaguing most of the much awaited books these past years. The same thing happened with the Harry Potter series. Even before the books could get to the bookshelves on the official release date, an e-book copy could be found if you know where to look.

The debate on eBooks and its effect to publishing has been ongoing for some time now and was reopened months ago by New York Times columnist David Progue. He has been quite vocal of his stand against having his work in e-book format because of piracy. It’s understandable as the biggest concern has been how authors will get paid for their work. But as Progue took his stand, other writers fired back. Adam Engst of TidBits posted a comprehensive rebuttal and founding editor of Wired Magazine Kevin Kelly proposed an experiment to measure the effect of piracy on Progue’s work.

Some authors have taken stand by releasing their books on the internet. Laurence Lessig released his book “Free Culture” by posting it online for free downloads. Steven Poole released “Trigger Happy” on a “pay what you want” system. More than the writers themselves, the general public has also participated as the work in Project Gutenberg (PG), the digital archive, are mostly done by volunteers. As of 2007, PG has more than 25,000 titles of public domain book available for free download.

As the battle of words continued on the pros and cons of eBooks, I only have this to say: I will continue to buy paper books. “So why buy the book? You can get a free copy,” a friend had asked me when I told her. Simple, because nothing beats flipping the pages of a paperback while curled up in bed during lazy days.

The Hard Way

Yesterday I defrosted the refrigerator and got a mess of weird pink liquid all over the kitchen floor. I wanted to know what it was, so I googled it. Later that night, I needed to learn how to make a Tequila Sunrise. I googled that as well. Today I needed to find out how to commute to NAIA 3. So, yes, I turned to Google. Seems like the answer to nearly every question I have these days is only an internet connection away. Except for law stuff, of course. Wait, I take that back. Except for SOME things in law school.

The internet (and Google) is so accessible, so convenient, so inexhaustible in its variety of information both mundane and esoteric (OK, i just used Google to look for a more appropriate antonym for esoteric but I couldn't find one) that it seems to be the ultimate resource. Need the history of the Baghavad-Gita? It's online. How about the recipe for Sans Rival? That's online, too. Looking for that high school buddy you've fallen out of touch with? Guess where you'll probably find him.

The trouble is that the existence of, and access to, an inexhaustible resource will inevitably lead to the death of resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is the hallmark of all life on this planet; it is that stubbornness, that unwillingness to submit to existing conditions, that persistence in finding ways to impose its will on the world that defines a living being. It was resourcefulness, for example, that led to the invention of the internet. It was a solution to a problem. And now, by virtue of that brilliant solution, the trait of resourcefulness itself may die out.

I hope not. Somewhere inside me, and hopefully inside all of us, is an ignorant savage who wants to do things by himself and not rely on what others have done before. Somewhere inside me is the man who refuses to ask directions when lost, who throws away the assembly instructions before unpacking a do-it-yourself bookshelf; somewhere inside me is the man who wants to figure it out himself. From scratch. The hard way.

Bridging the Communication Divide

One of the major benefits of technology is that it paved way for a faster means of communicating with each other. This communication may be through text, images, audio or all of the above. Packages can now be sent, albeit expensively, overnight, to any corner of the world. Documents can be sent overnight through courier services such as FedEx. Connecting phone calls can be as easy as bringing out a phone from your pocket or your bag and pressing a few buttons. Remember the phones where you have to spin a disc to dial? Integration of means of communicating can be had through video calls.

Yet, it still doesn’t hurt to be careful about communicating with strangers. Text messaging, e-mails and chatrooms are still being utilized in finding victims. It makes it easier for offenders since they can do this globally. Catching these people can only be done reactively. It must fall on the shoulders of the users to be guarded so they may not be held victim by such schemes.


This rumor about a YouTube virus has probably gotten as many "I knew it all along" smirks as "I'm sure it’s nothing" statements made in panicky voices. People have apparently come across a warning message while viewing videos which says that some kind of anti-virus software has detected a virus, and then users are re-directed to a website that installs spyware on their computer. I don't know much about how these things actually work, but I understand how some people can be all stressed out hearing about news like this. It's amazing how much time people have come to spend online doing useless crap when they're supposed to be working. I'm sure a lot of us have at one point chosen to check out YouTube, or update a Facebook account, or shop on eBay instead of finishing a digest for an 8 am class the next day. Like all things that are awesome at their inception, virtual criminals have found a way to exploit this social phenomenon. Most netizens probably don't think twice about trusting an established site like YouTube, and hackers or whatever you call them were able to exploit this human tendency instead of just looking for loopholes in software like they normally do.

Culture Medium

My guild on World of Warcraft is very Southeast Asian. As far as I know, it's composed of people from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, as well as expatriates of the same living in the United States and Canada. However, other than the occasional "lah", "lor", or "liao" it is sometimes hard to determine a guildy's nationality, our great online addiction seemingly masking our differences in culture, society, and upbringing. Of course, there is only so much World of Warcraft can do. Before this guild and before my 5-month OLA-induced hiatus from Azeroth, I was part of a guild from Australia and I found the differences in outlook and attitude disconcerting at times. With this guild, I feel more relaxed and at home, in part because, to my mind, it feels more "Asian." But of course, several months spent raiding and spamming instances with Aussies did make their culture a lot less alien to me. Up to now, when I have to say "yeah" in-game i say "yer" and when I have to say "sorry" I say "soz."

I tend to think that some sort of global culture and consciousness is being formed on the internet. A culture that is based not on nationality or religion, but a culture based on shared interests, aspirations, and worldview. With the prevalence of internet communications, there is a lot more ground-level cultural exchange going on. To make an analogy of it, speciation occurs because populations are isolated from each other. But put those isolated pockets of individuals back into contact with one another and the reverse happens, people become more tolerant of their differences and more willing to embrace their commonalities. To quote Genki Sudo, "we are all one."

Plurk = Death of My Writing Skills

For those who have never heard of Plurk, it is an online service that allows users to keep “a social journal for their life” through micro-blogging or posting of entries not longer than 140 characters each. For those who are more familiar with Twitter, think of Plurk like Twitter on a Gantt chart, with each entry pegged on a timeline corresponding to the actual time the entry was posted, instead of the usual chronological arrangement. Because of the 140-character limit of each entry, plurkers are compelled to write as briefly as they can. The result of this is that people on Plurk generally just provide status updates about what they’re doing at a particular time. Unlike a regular blog entry, wherein one has to think of an attention-grabbing title, a body consisting of a coherent train of thought, and an ending with a mind shattering conclusion or profound food for thought, Plurk (or Twitter) does not require you to think and ponder and stew in your creative juices anymore. All you need to do is type what you’re doing, and voila, you got yourself a blog entry, albeit a micro-sized one. And it spelled the death of my LiveJournal account.

circa 1998

We started a chapter of a retreat seminar in Ateneo way back during my second year in college. (This was circa 1998, just about the time that mobile phones became the staple that it is today.) Back then when we say we're going to have a phone brigade, we do mean a phone "brigade." To organize a meeting would entail a "brigade" of people spending hours on the phone (landline) talking to another "brigade" of people about the meetings (Yes, we had beepers back then, but it was just more fun this way). That's how we got to know each other. We knew who had their own lines in their rooms, who had funny-sounding maids, loud-barking dogs, or cute-sounding sisters. A phonecall that was merely to inform a person of the particulars of the meeting will last for 30 minutes because of idle banter exchanged in between the "conversation." That's why we had a lot of people doing the phone brigade, sometimes the time's not enough, and you wouldn't want to be calling at an ill time. From the call it'd be easy to guess who were interested in going and those who were annoyed that you called.

We observed that as mobile phones became the norm, our ritual became less and less efficient. Now they simply text the details of the meeting, and sometimes, without even knowing the person they are texting.
As we continually strive for efficiency we sometimes lose those conversations in between.
The ease by which we can reach someone blinds us as to whether or not we should "call" at all.

On online dating

Last Monday, I watched one of my guilty pleasures, ‘Confidentials’, a show in QTV 11. The topic was dating. A large part of the program tackled the present phenomenon of online dating.

I was reminded of three of my high school friends who have tried online dating. The results: a break-up, an ongoing romantic long distance relationship and a marriage. This should put my mind at ease, right? Well, no.

Whenever they would sojourn into this unconventional mode of dating, I found myself paranoid for their safety. I was always the first to tell them to ask another person to accompany them during EBs and not to go to the bathroom (the guy might put a drug on their drink and the date would turn into date rape). Even though they would kid me that I’m overreacting and that I should relax, they’d follow my advice anyway. I always suspected it was because they were worried too.

While it may be said that my fears are not exclusive to online dating, I still can’t wrap my mind around this concept. While the internet provides an infinite number of potential mates and you only go as far as you let it, I still think that dating should be fun and uncomplicated. It should be about initial attraction, good conversation and sparks flying. If your worries go farther than outfit changes, conversation starters and the butterflies in your stomach, where’s the fun in that?


I am a copyright infringer; a downloadict who can’t seem to function and proceed to do more important things without seeing max download speeds on my bandwidth meter. I know it’s wrong and very akin to stealing –no, it IS stealing--but I just can’t give up the ease of being able to get newest and freshest albums, comics, and movies at the expense of a few clicks. It’s virtually free since I don’t pay the house bills. All I have to worry about is file storage and backup. Even that is starting to be less of a problem nowadays since storage media is getting cheaper nowadays due to market forces (read: China) and technological development.

I tried to get out of this pit I am in but I just can’t. I even came to a point where I tried to play mind games, forcing myself to think that downloading the latest Hollywood flicks is just as wrong as murdering a person in cold blood.

It did not work. I failed, miserably.

Return to the Future

I have a bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic earth much like the one portrayed in Wall-E. It's an empty earth, disturbed only by dust storms and earthquakes, inhabited by the debris of what had been an honest but destructive attempt at civilization.

The prevailing type of junk is technology. Rather, what used to be technology. Cellphones that don't ring, computers that don't run, trains, planes, and automobiles permanently grounded and corroded by occasional acid rain. Components without purpose. Piles and piles of this stuff all over, underwater (tankers), and in the air (satellites). Held in place by gravity, shuffled and disturbed by the elements.

The earth which has existed for billions of years quite splendidly without any intervention on our part will exist, I believe, for billions more. And these things that we made can go on without us—though these days, we act like we can't go on without them.

So what we're really saving when we save the earth is not the earth but our way of life. When we reduce, reuse, and recycle, what we have to understand that ultimately, it's not our "children's children" that benefit (who are those people anyway?) but us. By exercising caution, and using prudence in everything we do, we can survive anything. Maybe even ourselves.

Easy Come, Easy Go

Rapid developments in communications and information technology have now made it possible for us to conduct most of our tasks within the comfort of our homes. We can do research, pay our bills, make bank transactions, shop, communicate with friends, and do most other things that would have been impossible to do before without leaving the house.

However, not even ten long years working for one of the biggest banks in the country has made me a believer in online banking. Not when an honest mistake done manually can obliterate the balance of someone’s bank account. Or a simple oversight can lead to a BP 22 headache. Jurisprudence in our jurisdiction abounds with suits stemming from these simple mistakes, whether intentional or unintentional.

With unbridled technology then, imagine the damage possible. Like someone’s salary, or worse, one’s lifetime savings, funneled into a fraudster’s account. The very same technology that makes possible our comforts and conveniences also allows people with criminal intentions to conduct their evil designs with ease. Cybercrime or technocrime in real life is often stranger than what you see in movies. And oh yeah, Eagle Eye doesn’t seem such a remote possibility too.

Killing Musicianship

I'm a guitar addict. I'm literally obsessed with this instrument. I cannot go a day without at least running my fingers through my guitar's fret board or checking Youtube for new guitar videos with the latest techniques and practice patterns. Learning the guitar or in fact any instrument is so easy these days because of the wealth of information just lying there in cyberspace. If you have the passion and determination, there's nothing stopping you from becoming a virtuoso in whatever instrument you desire... Nothing of course, except the MPA.

Let me explain. Way back during my undergrad years, I decided to pick up the guitar and learn the damn thing. Why? Well honestly, it was for the chicks! C'mon guys you know this is true! This is what's known among guitar players as the "dark side of the Force" As a user of "the Force" a guitarist must balance his desire to better himself as a musician against playing songs or using riffs just to impress the babes (or the dudes if you swing that way). But hey, I digress... So anyway when I was first starting I had a difficult time learning the songs I wanted to play (to impress the girls) mainly because I was tone deaf. I couldn't distinguish an A flat minor seventh from a C augmented add 9 \ B chord. And so I turned to buying those local guitar mags with lyrics and chord charts at the back (Do they still print those?) Well, suffice to say, my skill at playing grew to a point that I no longer needed the mags and could play the songs just by hearing them. Fast forward a few years later and then you have sites like or GuitarPro Archive. These sites are the Online equivalent of the guitar mags of back then except that these sites usually have software that you can download which can then play a musical score for you note for note and show you how it's done on a virtual fretboard on screen. There's even an option of slowing down the piece without changing the pitch (pretty useful for shred enthusiasts). Files for this software are usually uploaded on the site by fellow guitarists who use the software to tab out their renditions of songs and share them with others. Tabbing out a song is usually done by ear (a skill which can be developed by any one with enough time and practice). This is a great help to those who haven't developed the auditory skill but would like to learn a song and thereby develop their other skills such as left hand dexterity or picking speed. For a while, all was well and good in the land of online tabs.

But then came the MPA who took down the powertab and guitarpro sites because it claimed that they were in violation of copyright law. The MPA, you see, represents the owners of companies who publish sheet music of songs. See here how greedy the music industry is? One song can net you all kinds of profit. Here's a short list: profit from the sale of the song itself, profit from those who wish to perform the song or use it as part of another work, profit from sale of accurate lyrics of the song, profit from sale of (in)accurate notations of the song... etc.

Don't get me wrong. Being an active musician myself, I respect the rights of musicians to earn an honest buck and I know how hard it is for a musician to eke out a living with just his music (hence, law school). But at some point, the greed just has to stop. Music is meant to be shared and enjoyed with others. To do otherwise would be no different from masturbation.

What I don't get is how the powertab and guitarpro sites are violating copyright law. These sites do not make a profit from these tabs and only serve to foster the advance of musicianship among guitarists. Most of the transcriptions are done by fellow users by ear and represent the users own interpretation of the song, they are not copied from published sheet music. To make this a violation of copyright law would make learning any song by ear and teaching the song to a friend using a real guitar a crime. How silly is that?

My take on the matter is that you can only milk The Cow so much before you kill it.

Note: I realize that I might have been using some terms which non guitarists/musicians may fail to understand so here's a quick crash course:

Chords- 1.) a group of harmonized notes
Tabs- 1.) an informal way of notation of music where instead of using notes, the author uses numbers on lines which represent the 6 strings of the guitar. the numbers represent the fret which is to be depressed. 2.) A term of endearment to call friends who are morbidly obese.
Guitar- 1.) a portable instrument which, when used correctly, can attract members of the opposite sex
Shred- 1.) a dark side power of the Force which allows the user to play a rapid burst of notes in succession. The world record for the use of such power is pegged at 28 notes per second. 2.) the best way to prepare cheese.
MPA- 1.) Music Publishers Association 2.) Evil
The Cow- 1.) Music

(Fee)dom of Connection

My brother’s high school is planning to implement an internet fee. The idea behind this is that the teachers would post messages, upload assignments and projects online and the students would learn about this by checking the site. According to the school officers, this would prepare the students for college, as this is how it works there (college).

Taking aside the issue of due process (there was no prior consultation with the parents, students and school organizations as mandated by CHED), I highly question the wisdom of this added fee. In college, the professors are not always present: we meet once or twice in a week, or sometimes not at all. This is totally different in high school because the teachers are present everyday and they could very well inform the students of the next day’s assignment during class hours. It would be total absurdity if the teacher would prolong the waiting by telling the students that the assignment is online, instead of just writing it on the board.

Add this to the fact that not all of them have access to internet at home, nor have laptops of their own to bring to school. Imagine this situation: each student has to pay P100 a month for the operation of said policy. But in order for a student to access the assignment for tomorrow, he still has to pay P20 per hour in a computer shop before he can do so. For me, this is an absurd situation.

Maria Cristina Yambot

Live Show has been a very reliable friend of mine this year because it has allowed me to follow tennis all year long. And i thank anybody who gives tennis updates, live streams or just even live scores. has prevented me from gnashing my teeth by providing my weekly tennis sustenance most especially when a cable channel fails to deliver its peachy promise of a live coverage of a particular Master Series Event. (Yes, I am talking about YOU, Star Sports. I hate you so much!) Since this site has always been a constant source of joy for me, I was quite appalled when I found out in the news last night that a young man live streamed his actual suicide on the website. Other users didn't believe him while others even egged him on. It has now spawned an ethical and legal debate all over the internet. I think that the people who egged the young man to end his life while being fully aware of the fact that the guy is actually overdosing right before their eyes should be racked with guilt about what happened. But at the same time, this also raises a lot of issues about how the internet aggravated the sickeningly and disturbingly voyeuristic bent of our generation. I do not know whether an overly zealous content-policing of the videos being posted live would prevent problems like this from happening but I certainly feel that regulation would be in order. To what extent should areas like this be regulated is, of course, another issue.

Wi-Fi Felons

A few weeks ago, I was watching “60 Minutes” which did a piece called “Hi-Tech Heist”. The report illustrated how volumes of credit card information of customers were stolen from TJX (the largest discount department store chain in the US). The culprits capitalized on the poor Wi-Fi security and the TJX practice of keeping customer information for too long. The reporter drove around the parking lot of a TJX store with a laptop and showed how easy it was to get into a poorly-secured system. The information is then sold piece-meal (per customer identity) to the highest bidder on a black market e-bay, so to speak.

The idea that my personal information is floating in the air up for grabs is disconcerting. If the government regulates radio waves with respect to radio, tv, and telecommunications, should they regulate the use of Wi-Fi? Is it even practicable? I mean, what’ll they do, require a license for all people who own Wi-Fi routers and Wi-Fi capable devices? Uh, I don’t think so.

So what’s the lesson here? Pay in cash.

Internet Business: A Few Old School Points to Remember, Both for Sellers and Buyers.

I just talked with an online seller who will be shipping out my item tomorrow after I pay the balance of the purchase price tonight. She seems nice and accommodating but I still have to be on guard.

I've had several experiences on online shopping, but I mostly did meet-ups and COD due to lack of faith in postal services and lack of plastic cards. Though it entails more hassle, I thought it would be safer that way. I remember another Multiply seller who has Lomo cameras for sale. So I pre-ordered for a Holga and waited for almost 2 weeks. She made me go to Makati where she did most of her meet-ups. I took public transportation just to get there. We were supposed to meet at 7pm. Okay, I was an hour earlier. So I took out something to read. Then she started to send me an SMS.

Seller: Are you closer to Manila by any chance?
Me: Oh, I'm already in Glorietta.
S: I have to pick up your item from Manila pa kasi.
M: It's okay, I'm early anyway. And I can wait til around 7:30-8pm.
S: Super traffic!
M: Oh. Don't fret, you still have a lot of time.
S: It's not moving. As in deadlocked. San ka umuuwi? North?
M: East. Marikina.
S: I doubt I'd make it at 8:30 with this shithole. I'll ship the item nalang for free and I'll include 2 films!
M: Nah. I don't think shipping is a good idea.
S: Shipping is 100% safe naman. I had to park muna, I'm having dysmennorhea.
M: Sorry, I really don't trust the local postal services that's why I went here in Makati because I prefer meet-ups. I can wait until 7:30 but if you really can't make it, can we meet nalang in Marikina?
S: I'm from Paranñaque. We're from both ends. I hope you understand.
M: Yeah I do understand. I'm actually more concerned about the payment.
S: You can check the feedback on my page. And you can ask people from Lomomanila about me. How about if we meet on Monday?
M: Exams na so I wouldn't be able to make it on Monday anymore. (Meanwhile, I called up a friend who is into Lomos too ~ it turns out the seller was so unprofessional, delaying shipments of items, not replying to messages, being nice only to the male customers. What a B!)
M: I took your advice and called up someone from Lomomanila. Sorry but I will have to cancel our transaction.
S: Who did you call? You just accused me of being a fraud.
M: No, I didn't. I know you do ship and deliver the items but it just seems you don't value your clients very well as well as their time and effort. I don't have any other choice.
S: I offered to drive til 8:30, didn't I?
M: You said you DOUBT you can make it by 8:30. It doesn't sound much like an offer, does it?
S: I'm on the road still and gave you other options then bolted. Doesn't matter now, you made your choice. I hope this is not some game of retaliation.
M: I gave you an opportunity to push through with the transaction but as you've said we're in both ends. I understand the circumstances, being stuck in traffic and all. I know you may have tried your best but it's just not enough for the hassle I'm in right now.
S: Sorry, what hassle? You said you'd leave at 7:30, I had dysmennorhea attack, can't ignore it. So I parked. Tell me what I should have done. I somehow wish I could still make it up.

Argh! Everytime I remember it, it still pisses me off. I can't believe she still doesn't get it. She has no idea how much hassle she gave me! She's so arrogant and did not even apologize! She didn't think she did anything wrong. And all her excuses? So lame.

Lesson learned? Make sure you're dealing with a professional, who really values his/her customers well. A good businessperson would know that the customers should be treated nicely, even though they can be irate sometimes. Because public relations is very important in any business. A professional seller would be true to his/her words and would apologize if he/she caused any trouble. A professional seller would keep you informed of every stage of the transaction, would reply when you have queries, would accommodate you in any way possible.

I think, just like any other businesses, internet stores should likewise be regulated by the government. To protect the consumers! We should have something like Online Consumers Act. :)

I know this was just a few of the possibilities that could have happened that day. But yeah, it was my first horrible experience in dealing with a Multiply seller. However, I don't feel bad for cancelling my order (even though I was dying to get hold of a Holga then!) because I believe that seller doesn't deserve my money nor my respect at all.

You’ve Got Mail… For your face

In this age where speed and ease of data transmission is no longer a luxury, but indeed a necessity, one might wonder what area of commerce or industry might next benefit from the efficiency and convenience that is the by-product of this speed and ease. I personally wonder when we’ll be able to send a face-punch via e-mail, or via these awesome-sounding digital packets. Imagine the possibilities… Is the fool who took your juicebox in kindergarten living far away, farther than even the most awesome air-kick could reach? Send him an e-mail, then. To illustrate,

To: Your face

From: My foot

Subject: Heee-yaaaaaa!!!!

And if the pitiful fool’s interest is piqued (and why wouldn’t it be, body parts are communicating), he’ll open the mail. I don’t have to tell you what’s coming next. But I will. Heee-yaaaaaa!!!!

All this may sound like a nonsensical pipe dream, but it’s really hard to say what’s possible these days, or whether there’s really anything outside the realm of possibility. I’m still blown away by the fact that they let you order your own bag of custom-colored M&M’s. It truly is a golden age of technological progress.