Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TMI? Too Many Idiots.

Some people just do NOT know when to stop. TALKING. (But when else can you exercise freedom of speech?) In the context of our online social media, self-expression usually just produces NOISE. This would manifest in posts of sensitive photos and even personal details that would make others either laugh or cringe.

OVERSHARE is in fact 2008’s WORD OF THE YEAR. Imagine that. And to lay the groundwork for this musing on relationships, privacy and beyond -- let me add that UNFRIEND is Word of the Year for 2009. Are people unfriend-ing oversharers? Or are they unfriend-ing (people with whom they have estranged relations) because they themselves are the oversharers and they want to maintain a semblance of privacy?

Here’s a funny site of Facebook status messages illustrating this concept beautifully. The usual argument by overshare advocates is this: if you’re bothered by it, then you can always choose to ignore it. I agree. But fact is, you’ve already seen/read/visualized it. And there truly are certain images that would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get out of your head.

And even if others manage to forget, the Internet will NOT. So be careful, be very careful.

Entry No. 03
Rachelle Mayuga

Why yes, Hollywood IS running out of ideas

Earlier this week, an entertainment blog leaked the (faintly distressing) rumor that a film studio was developing a feature length adaptation of the popular Facebook game, Mafia Wars. The Hollywood Reporter shot down the rumor, but the premise of a movie based on a Facebook game, of all things, raises several questions. Have movie studios really run out of 80’s B-movies to reboot, or Asian horror-thrillers to remake? Forget original ideas, surely there must still be a comic book that hasn’t gone through the ravaging process of film adaptation decay?

The idea of making a movie based on an interactive game, played through a social networking website, while absurd, is not completely outside the realm of possibility. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a game gets the film treatment. Hollywood has churned out movies based on 1) a “whodunit” mystery board game (Clue), 2) a line of dolls (Bratz), 3) a PC/console adventure game franchise (Prince of Persia), and 4) a line of action figures (GI Joe). In fact, the film adaptation of a naval strategy-themed guessing game (Battleship) is currently in pre-production.

A Mafia Wars-inspired crime thriller, in the vein of The Godfather and Goodfellas, certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

A Farmville-inspired movie, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether.

Beware of Internet Transactions

Unlike the older generations, ours and the ones after us are not afraid of technology. In fact, we gladly embrace it and we cannot wait for innovations that would make our lives easier. One awesome innovation is credit card transactions over the Internet. For four years now I personally have enjoyed the wonders of how one click would turn into a package of goods. And I trusted the process wholeheartedly. I was never concerned about security, not even as an afterthought. Perhaps because the first transactions I made were with US companies. I thought everything was foolproof so long as I deal with known sellers, until my Citibank credit card was hacked after booking with (which also happened twice to my mom in separate transactions). Not only must we be wary about hacking, but also in dealing with unscrupulous sellers, who I fell victim to a few times - once when a dress I ordered faded after the first wash and another when they sent dailies contact lenses instead of the monthlies they were advertising. Online shopping would perhaps be the next big thing when it comes to the retail industry. But I hope these stories serve as a warning to anyone who dares to venture into this activity.

Sing your heart out!

Mixcraft was my best friend for quite some time in 2009. It kept me company when I was bored. It was a shoulder to lean on when I needed to let go of my feelings or express myself. It was a good listener when I just wanted to belt out a few songs. Mixcraft turned out to be a reliable program in making me feel like a pro singer, even with only a computer and a headset on hand.

Mixcraft is advertised as “a powerful yet easy-to-use multi-track recording studio that enables you to record audio, arrange loops, remix tracks, compose with virtual instruments, score and edit video, and add effects to create stunningly professional compositions.”

Frankly, I wasn’t interested in doing all that. For me, Mixcraft was just a tool to record my own version of popular songs. All I had to do was download instrumental versions of songs from Limewire, record my voice over it, and voila, my own cover song! It’s too bad that I can’t find my old cover songs though. I would have wanted to showcase my singing prowess. (Ha! I’m just kidding!) Well, in case you’re interested in hearing a Mixcraft cover, I suggest you listen to my friend’s version of Cupid by 112. I asked for her permission by the way!

So the next time you’re bored, instead of the looking for the nearest Karaoke bar, maybe you should try Mixcraft! Who knows, you might just discover the recording star in you! *wink*

Trusting Our Children

Last Tuesday night, I found myself listening to a talk on the new Norton Online Family online software application held at Greenbelt 2. The activity was offered to the members of the Norton Inner Circle by Symantec. I joined the club since I was very much interested in the developments of online security.

The software application is a modified version of the parental controls found in Windows Vista. Compared with the latter, there are more options and levels of protection that may be provided depending on the discretion of the parent. Those were the answers I got after asking the resource person.

I have nothing against the software.

My concern is on the effects of such regulation mechanism. Like many other parental control devices out there, these things are merely obstacles for children, who'll figure out how to bypass them later. The solution should be proper education and upbringing by responsible parents. In the process, values and principles should be imbibed by the children as a function of the lifestyle choices of their parents. More than teaching responsibility, the parents should learn from their side to trust that their children learned their lessons. That is the best parental control I know.

Goodbye to Email?

Who would have thought that email would be dubbed a “dying means of communication” so soon. I mean snail mail had a longer expiration date. Well, apparently facebook is edging out email, according to recent studies which showed that only 11 percent of teens use email to communicate. While the statistics seem to be limited to teens I suspect it also reflects a growing trend with adults. I for one can say that my email inbox has been limited to UP Law announcements and spam (sad but true). No one announces gimmicks or posts funny articles through email anymore. It’s enough to make anyone feel left out. Despite the bad publicity it has gotten over privacy issues Facebook continues to dominate the internet with close to 500 million users. Social networking in general is predicted to climb from over 2.1 billion accounts in 2010 to over 3.6 billion by 2014. If this is true things aren’t looking so good for the 3 of us out there who still don’t have Facebook accounts.

Internet Transactions in the Philippines

One major issue in internet shopping is payment. How does the buyer pay, and how does the seller receive the payment. In the Philippines, the most trustworthy way is through meet-ups, which means that the internet mainly becomes an avenue to advertise or market the product. The transaction is completed not through the internet but when they actually meet.

Since the Philippines is composed of 7,000 plus islands, meet-ups barely meets the demand of internet shopping. Credit card payment would have resolved the problem, but since most of the buyers in the Philippines are teens, most of them do not have credit card yet. Hence, credit card transaction isn’t much of a choice, apart from the fact that we do not have an internet credit card system as in other countries and that Filipinos are too afraid to entrust their credit card with strangers.

So, sellers mainly transact via bank deposits, G-cash, and other money remittance method. The problem with Bank deposit is that the seller wouldn’t know who deposited the money in his account, until the buyer sends a copy of the deposit slip to the seller. Bank deposit then isn’t as smooth and hassle free as an internet transaction would be. Money remittance almost has the same issues.

G-cash is a money remittance method provided by Globe Telecom. Many online sellers have enrolled for an account with Globe, since most buyers have cellphones. Buyers with a Globe sim can pay instantly by texting, if one has credits in his account. Or they can choose to go to any Globe outlet or SM department stores to pay. After payment, the seller will be informed that payment has been received via text.

Perhaps payment in online shopping has yet to evolve to something more trustworthy, available, and hassle free in the Philippines.

In Defense of Twitter

The utility of Facebook status updates is obvious. To avoid an in-depth discussion on a phenomenon that is approaching a state of ubiquity, suffice it to say that it’s simply “group SMS operated on a global scale, with or without a phone.” The usefulness of Twitter, however, was put in question during this class’ last session. “What is the non-public figure’s stake (what is the value that he derives) from sharing his ‘personal tweets’ to the world at large?,” the professor asked. Considering that I use Twitter more than Facebook, the question surprised me. And after thinking about it some more, I reached a personal conclusion - an answer, which may prove to be wrong, or perhaps unpopular.

To a non-public figure, maybe there is no value to a single, unimportant tweet. Save for the obvious need for self-expression (read: a little vanity), his thoughts about the weather, the World Cup, or the kind of fungus growing between his toes holds no significant value to himself. In fact, information of this nature might find a more willing audience in Facebook. At least there, there is a ready potential for conversation, recognition, and attention - a virtual replacement for human interaction. But if we accept the premise that tweets by a non-public figure are useless to the author himself, considering that it merely mimics a more definitive social network, why is Twitter still growing both locally and abroad? Why is Juan de la Cruz still tweeting? To say that it’s merely another fad or that it’s a minimized version of Facebook, is, to quote a former Justice of the Supreme Court, “not intellectually satisfying.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there must be a reason. Why does a “nobody” share his thoughts, unimportant as they are, with a world that could care less? If I were to proffer a guess, I think the value is not in this person’s tweet per se... but his access to all the other tweets, the billions of messages being shared in real-time by his “co-nobodies” around the world. The authored tweet, insignificant and unimportant as it is, is actually his contribution and not his gain. Thus, if Juan de la Cruz steps on cow-dung and voices his frustration of it, if Maria Clara hates her shampoo and tweets about it, these details form part of the collective - a universe of statements made by nobodies and somebodies around the world. When a non-public figure tweets, his 140-character message forms part of this global pool of thought. Is it useful? I think so. The value of one tweet may be insignificant, even laughable, but the value of a billion searchable messages whose contents stem from ordinary people around the world, which are to be archived by no less than the US Library of Congress? I think the value here is immense. Considering that we’re nearing a point where searches can be filtered by location, the value of Twitter could, despite it's present cult-like appeal, multiply exponentially.

On a local level, a search on “EDSA” or “Katipunan” on Twitter to determine the amount of traffic in the area would certainly be helpful. (Scratch that, if I knew traffic conditions on individual roads based on motorist complaints every 15 minutes, I’d even pay for the service.) A search on “Sony Vaio Z” could give me an idea of how others around the world view the laptop I’m thinking of buying. When I tweet about how a certain dish in some restaurant gave me gas the other day... it might be useless in the grand scheme of things but perhaps the same information could prove useful to a would-be customer or the manager of the same restaurant. This, I think, is Twitter’s importance as a platform: useless information by countless nobodies is converted to something of value. Thus, where Google has become the modern highway of the web, Twitter (as used by nobodies) is swiftly becoming an aggregation of online dirt-roads - unintentionally made but quite useful when found.


Just recently, I came across an article wherein the United States reported that Afghanistan have an estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits. The deposit is said to include important metals such as lithium, which powers most of our cellphone and laptop batteries. According to the reports, the deposit is so large that the country could be considered as the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” However, far from being good news, this potential source of wealth for a war torn country can bring even more conflict. Fights to gain control of the mineral-rich districts may erupt between the government and local leaders.

What I found interesting in this article was the fact that it made me realize that technology can affect the lives of people even in unexpected ways. Due to the demand for metals that power most of our modern gadgets, I'm sure companies will be competing to gain access to this deposits. Sometimes, even to the extent of transacting with the Talibans, the political movement that the US is trying to overthrow. Inasmuch as this discovery can potentially make the lives of many Afghan people better by stimulating their economy. On the flipside, it could also make the conflict in the country intensify even more hence making the Afghan peoples life even worse.

And all this can be brought about by the batteries of our mobile gadgets.

The Internet and the Intellect

“And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

-Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid?

We live in the information age, but people tend to engage less in deep thought. The internet has allowed us to do more in less time, giving back hours of our lives we would have otherwise spent in the workplace, mall or post office. Nevertheless, impatience and boredom pervades even more. Could it be possible that the internet, the very thing that provides us tidbits of information on demand, is making us stupid?

Matt Richtel, writer of the New York Times article Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price explains that this may be an actual scientific occurrence, “They [scientists] say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.” Richtel points out that multitasking is the root of the problem, “While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.”

But to this, Steven Pinker author of Mind Over Mass Media counters, “The effects of consuming electronic media are also likely to be far more limited than the panic implies… Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life.”

Observing my own habits, I know the problem is real. While balance and self-restraint may alleviate the situation, I cannot help but ask: Can we really curb this dumbing down of sorts or is this just an inevitable side effect of having too much fast food for the brain which we call the internet?

In Our Time

I knew the day would come, but not this soon. In our last family reunion, I caught myself telling my 15-year old cousin, “In our time…”

He’s a gamer, so we were talking about how back in the day, eight megabytes of RAM would already make you famous. Now, two to four gigabytes of RAM is becoming the standard – and that’s excluding the one gigabyte of dedicated video RAM. Heck, I’m barely nine years older and I was able to make my cousin’s jaw drop at how primitive we were “back in the day.”
You could imagine how we went on talking about floppy disks, mIRC, and dial-up modems and the funny sounds they made. Just nine years older, and I felt like a grandpa.

If you can craft a generation gap in just nine years, your usual Baby Boomer-Gen X-Gen Y framework simply will not hold. Landmark software or hardware would be more accurate in branding (and understanding) the youth today. What standards do we use though? Are they the Google Generation or iPod babies? The YM kids, the YouTube trolls, or the dual core spoiled brats? Or are all these generations on their own?

Chronicles of an online shopper

*Picking up from last week's entry

My online forays haven’t been all that smooth. I’ve had my fair share of difficulties, and for that, I can’t (yet) quite say that I’m entirely confident with dealings that involve the internet.

For starters, there’s the question of seller credibility. Over at there’s a seller who posted a vintage comic book worth PhP 3,500.00. Upon checking his profile and other items, it turns out he sells a measly three comic books, and over a hundred varieties of lingerie. I suppose it’s not an exaggeration to say that online purchases, if not e-commerce as a whole, could be a bit of a gamble. But if the internet is to ever be a reliable marketplace, mechanisms that ensure confidence and quality are a must.

For the purchases I actually make, there’s the question of actually receiving the items. In fact, as I speak, the package from Spain (which I wrote about last week) hasn’t yet arrived, even as it’s been more than a month after I placed my order. Thus far, I’ve never experienced undelivered packages (though they always take quite a while to arrive). But in the event that such a thing happens, how do I work out a solution? How do I pursue my claim? How do I even prove my claim? Do I print out my PayPal receipt and eBay invoice, then walk into OLA and ask their kind interns to file claims for me? If so, where?

Then there are delivered items which come in conditions quite different from those that online sellers purported them to be in. Of course, any self-respecting comic book collector realizes the significant difference that ‘near mint’ makes as against ‘very fine’ or ‘very good’. I’ve encountered wrongly described items not infrequently. In some instances, packages were so haphazardly packed that, as I reckon, even if they were in great conditions when shipped, end up arriving in dismal conditions. By way of solutions, a seller once offered a PayPal refund; in another case a seller gave me store credits (an ingenious way of compelling me to make another round of purchases, if I am to ever get to utilize those credits); yet in another case, the seller offered no solution at all, thus forcing me to be content with leaving him negative feedback.

Certainly, the internet has been amazing. As I wrote last week, I owe it a great deal of satisfaction as it has opened opportunities hitherto impossible. But just as it has opened doors, it has made evident significant problems and obstacles.

Like I said, if the internet is to ever be a truly reliable marketplace (not to mention a pleasant community) mechanisms that make it so must be put in place. Whether it be by way of imposed regulations or if the net will order itself out in typical laissez faire fashion remains to be seen. And whether our institutions are up to the task, well, let’s hope they are.

Entry #3

'President Noynoy Aquino' Top Twitter Trending Topic

According to, the phrase 'President Noynoy Aquino' is today's top trending topic, beating the World Cup and Justin Bieber.

Here's more from (


MANILA, Philippines - Just as President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was delivering his inaugural speech to a live audience of half a million people at Quirino Grandstand and to millions via Internet and TV, his name cropped up as the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide.

At first "Noynoy Aquino" was the top term trending on the popular microblogging site.

Mid-way through Aquino's inaugural speech at noontime on June 30, the top trending topic became "President Noynoy Aquino."

"Aquino III" was number 4 at the same time "President Noynoy Aquino" was number 1.

Singer Noel Cabangon ("Noel Cabangon") occupied the third most popular trending topic worldwide at the same time.

Cabangon sang "Ako ay Isang Mabuting Pilipino" and "Kanlungan" at the inauguration ceremonies.

Noynoy, Charice on Google

Meanwhile, on popular search engine Google, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Filipino singing sensation Charice topped the list of Google searches in the country among keywords related to the inauguration of the Philippines' top 2 leaders.

Data from Google Philippines' Zeitgeist list showed that Aquino and Charice were the fastest rising search terms in the country on June 30. Charice sang the Philippine national anthem at the Aquino inauguration.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who arrived in a customized electric jeep (aptly called "B-Jeep"), came in third place.

Other participants in the inaugural became hot topics among Internet-using Filipinos. ABS-CBN also made it in the list as people tune in to the multimedia conglomerate's news coverage of the historic event.

"Local online news provider, ABS-CBN, is set to cover the June 30 inauguration and bring news to the public as it happens," Google Philippines said.

Below is the full list of Google Philippines' fastest rising search terms on June 30:
1. Aquino III
2. Charice
3. Binay
4. Armed forces
5. Delfin Bangit
6. China
7. Weather
8. Noynoy cabinet
9. ABS-CBN News
10. Quezon City

Terry Ridon

What’s your Facebook Image?

I’m not talking about one’s profile image on his or her facebook account. What I’m talking about is the image that one projects in this phenomenally popular social network site.

What does your Facebook account tell about you and your life? Do you show the world how good your life is by posting your pictures taken from your Bahamas and Rio de Janiero trips? Or do you tell the world how busy and stressed you are as a law student (plus how much smarter you are than laymen)? Or do you show off to your single friends that your love life is better than theirs for having found already the perfect mate in your life? Whatever pictures, videos, and statuses that you post, everything boils down that you wanted to show the whole world, particularly those who know you personally, how great your life is or has become.

Facebook enables everyone to show off what he or she has got. It is sort of a widely-used tool for vanity and to some extreme cases, narcissism. Is that something bad? Well, I don’t think so. Whether or not other people will be jealous of the life that one has, the fact still stands that every one of us is entitled to feel good about ourselves anyway.

Thus, whether or not you are really that happy and whether or not your life is really that perfect shouldn’t be put to question by anyone. It simply comes down to whatever works for you to boost your esteem and feed your ego – some essentials subsumed in human nature. So just go on and continue projecting the best image you have construed for yourself and your life -- almost everyone does the same thing anyway.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WANTED: Honorable King

In this day and age, the person who holds information is king. And the the Internet has ordained us into rulers in our own right--on or off the Web. Everything seems possible now (or at least easier to do) since access to information has been broadened by the simple act of typing keywords.

However, what kind of rulers are we turning into?

Problems come with the abundance of information at our fingertips. First is, are we equipped to handle and optimally utilize the information we get? We might not realize it, but the information online is so diverse and overwhelming, we've barely scratched the surface. It's probably sufficient to allow us to start a business or a totally new empire, start a war, help people on the other side of the world, etc. (alternative careers, anyone?). But given the busy life we know as lawschool, most of us are probably content with using the internet for networking and entertainment (other than studying, of course).

Another problem is, how do we sift through the information we get, and determine what's really useful? Aside from the differing opinions and viewpoints, there's also information that's simply incorrect or false. And when compounded by the enormous amount of information available, we limit ourselves to what appears on the first few pages returned by our search. Never mind that the keywords we used are irrelevant or outdated.

To the discerning, patient, and responsible users of the Internet--congratulations, the world is at your beck and call. Now, whose turn is it to be the court jester?

Noynoy in 3D

June 30, 2010 undoubtedly marks one of the most historical events in Philippine history with the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino. But it’s not the only reason why it’s going to be special. I was watching the news last night when I came across a segment saying that GMA news was going to capture today’s Presidential inauguration using 3D technology.

GMA7 boasts that for the first time ever, the inauguration of a head of state will be captured in 3D. The entire inauguration to be held at the Quirino Grandstand will be captured by a “special camera that records the same scene from slightly different angles, replicating humans' natural binocular vision.”

Similar to the movies now available in 3D, it allows viewers to see the events as if it was happening in front of them. This is in line with the continuing trend of enhancing media coverage through the use of technology, as seen recently with the news coverage of the Presidential elections held last May 10. It was then that the first hologram effect was aired live in Philippine TV, just like in Star Wars.

The only thing is, not everyone has televisions that are 3D-capable which will allow everyone to see the effect of the broadcast just by putting on 3D glasses. As such, GMA Network will initially be archiving the footage in preparation for a special screening for selected audiences.

To Do It Or Not To Do It, That Is The Question

Some people think that the Internet acts like an invisibility cloak and hence, they can do whatever it is that they can’t do in real life. I suppose that it may be a logical assumption since you can “hide” behind a secret identity. But in the real world, there is always that chance that whatever it is you did will come back to haunt you.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the invisibility cloak comes with its limits. After all, it was still created by people. And people still abide by some sort of rule, whether they like it or not. Hence, we have Cyber Ethics – the code of behavior for using the Internet. What you don’t or shouldn’t do in real life, you don’t or shouldn’t do while online.

To simplify matters, I found the 10 Commandments of Computer Ethics:
1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people's computer work.
3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people's computer files.
4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
6. Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
7. Thou shalt not use other people's computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people's intellectual output.
9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
10. Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that ensure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

Source: Computer Ethics Institute (1992)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Easy and Risky

We are living in a period where convenience is the vogue: from no-cook noodles, instant coffee, instant weight loss pills to instant messaging. The internet is one of the most promising inventions of the human race in terms of making life more convenient. It is undeniable that the internet is a very practical mode of communication, in contrast with the old fashioned ways: face-to-face conversations, snail-mail or through telephone. It has definitely caused essential enhancements in business transactions and has improved personal connections between people.

It is also by far, the fastest way of obtaining information. With just typing keywords using search engines, you can have a multitude of answers to your question. Compare this with the pre-internet era where you have to go to a library to get the information you need. Or for a quick research, you should have at least a complete set of encyclopedia on shelf.

I personally favor convenience because life is short and perhaps we could do more in life if we could save time, money and energy. Like if I could find the great diet pill which would have the same effect as hours of sweat and pain in the gym, I would certainly go gulp down the miracle capsule and let it do the work.

There seems to be nothing wrong with choosing convenience. Besides, isn’t it that the primary aim of Technology is to make people’s lives easier? But the question is: Is easier always better? What bothers me about “instant” things is that since they come in handy in no time, they might also disappear that way. Or just like the diet pill earlier, it might have some side effects. Or unlike the old and time-tested methods, it might have second-rate and inferior results.

With the internet, two of my main concerns are its ephemeral and virtual nature. I don’t fully understand where the data is exactly being kept, unlike in real-life manual data storage, where tons of paper are stocked in cabinets, or where inscriptions are carved permanently on sturdy stones. What if there is a world-wide power failure? What if one day the internet just disappears?

The bottom-line is, as the cliché goes, you cannot have it all: you’ll have some, but you’ll have to sacrifice some. You can choose convenience but you might just have to sacrifice security. Convenience comes with Risk. And anything with Risk should perhaps be used with Moderation. More importantly, there should always be Plan B. Count on convenience, but do not depend too much on it.

Why punish yourself by doing things the hard way when there’s an easier way of doing it? Because oftentimes, hard-earned things are more fulfilling. And the easy way tend to become boring.

--- Gen S. (2)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Regulators Must Enforce Net-Neutrality

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all bits are created equal..." -- Anonymous

Just recently, the US Federal Communications Commission voted to take in public comments regarding new rules for broadband subscription plans. With this move, the most likely topic of this public consultation would be "net neutrality."

But what exactly is it? Well, wiki for starters. Net neutrality basically advocates the following principle:

  • No discrimination on data transmitted through the Internet, no exceptions.
So ideally, your local ISP shouldn't care how you use your bandwidth. Traffic used for P2P (LimeWire, BitTorrent, etc.) should be treated the same way as ones used for VoIP, browsing, video streaming, etc.

However, this does not bode well for media companies and content producers, who are increasingly becoming the victims of rampant online piracy. They argue that controlling P2P traffic would help deter pirates and stem their losses.

American ISPs have also taken this stance, by offering their services into ordinary and premium plans. Basically the ordinary plans will have their streaming and P2P bandwidth restricted while the premium plans will get theirs at the same speeds as their browsing traffic.

While our local ISPs are still struggling to make fast and cheap broadband more accessible, this doesn't mean that net neutrality will never become an issue here. With cheap wireless broadband becoming more and more of a reality in the next 3-5 years, our future policymakers should consider making rules against making rules on Internet use.

Think about it. If our local ISPs started to restrict P2P traffic, they'd lose business overnight. :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

IMHO: Media diet is healthy for students and teachers

When one of our ICT classmates (Rania J) posted about Droste effect and the problems of Wikipedia as depicted by XKCD Comics, I concluded
I need to media diet -- cutting on gaming, watching TV, listening to the radio, microblogging, blogging, texting, emailing, and my favorite appetite, surfing the internet. This kind of surfing is not making the waves for my acquisition of discipline and productivity and better grades.

As a usual consequence of this "fascinated clicking", I will need to digress (as always). These are some of the reasons why I go on board and surf. You may want to try them too. Disclaimer: They might not be healthy for you.


I don't go to doctors right away. Below are safe sites to go to when you don't feel like going to the doctor because you think you're not dying anytime soon anyway (these sites are based on an issue of Reader's Digest):


Instead, waste your time reading other stuff. Below are sites that sure will waste some hours. I'm not even talking about RPGs or browser games which can waste days and lives.

Am I right or what?

Professional Heckler will sure give you that sense of political correctness, or the lack of it. You need to read this like SCRA.
Mental Floss
knows you want to.
Maddox says you can't disagree with this.
27bslash because the kitten is lost.
Tunay na Lalake ka ba?

What's out there?

Dark Roast Blend

SCRA should illustrate this way!

Questionable Content
is a favorite!
Death Note
Cyanide & Happiness
PHD Comics
Order of the Sticks

So you BitTorrent? Then you should know the Subpoena Defense! Downloading movies for free sure is fun but illegal.

And now back to topic. See how much one can binge on one medium alone? This media-binge can cause short attention spans. But the irony of it all is that, although it lessens your attention span, it still makes you stay online for hours, but only for a few minutes per web page! So finally, why is media diet healthy? In my humble opinion, because it can spell much difference between productivity and stagnation. You don't want to rust on things that really matter in real life (like memorizing the Rules of Court). It can improve your coherence and mastery of a subject too!

I will read on media diet later. Ooops. I meant cases. I wonder if the government can implement a law which regulates media consumption. Unconstitutional? If not, really, how?

The girl with ADD:
Paulyn Duman
Blog #3
Go Germany!

Other blogs:
IMHO: Digitized sins are forgiven
IMHO: UP College of Law should improve its cellphone signal reception
IMHO: Media diet is good for students and teachers


Because of the convenience that technology has given us, we've faaaar forgotten so many important things and acquired a gamut of useless habits. I vaguely remember life before internet and cable and these were days when kids actually go outside and play, instead of becoming career couch potatoes and gaming/porn junkies. I remember days when people 'actually' did research.

As we find innovative and expedient solutions to doing things, we get proportionately lazy. The barrage of media that we receive on a daily basis makes our brain uncomfortable with silence. Our attention spans are growing shorter and shorter.

At some point we will all realize that technology is fragile. You need to plug your stuff to charge it. You need wireless signal. You need electricity. I think this convenience is turning into a chronic dependency on tools.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of Japanese Animation and International Relations.

I was quite a "fact-and-trivia-addict" when I was kid. I've tried to learn (memorize?) all sorts of stuff from Greek mythology, to the then 151 Pokemon. When a category of facts piques my interest, I try to come up with a list of all things related to that category and start memorizing them. That was the time I started to get interested with world geography and Japanese anime.

As I grew older, I found out that animes are more than just cartoons intended for kids. They, more often than not, tell some pretty serious stories, that kids will most likely ignore (since they will be pretty busy looking at the colorful moving pictures).

One common theme that Japanese animators like to explore is international relations. An example is the Gundam series which, although set in a futuristic and sci-fi Earth and space, greatly deal with how our world's leaders make mistakes, which often lead to "misunderstandings" of global proportions. (I even recommended this series to a friend who teaches the subject). Other known titles which has recurring themes related to international relations include Naruto, Code Geass and Fushigi Yuugi.


(In this picture, from top left clockwise: England, Russia, France, China, and America. Click Picture for Source)

One day, as I was searching for something to make me laugh, I came across "Hetalia: Axis Powers" (later in renamed as "Hetalia: World Powers"). The anime comically presents world history and current events through characters which personify the countries of the world. While it is basically a comedy, Hetalia (and double checking over the net) helped me discover pretty surprising facts, such as the existence of a self-proclaimed independent mircronation called "Sealand".

I recommend this title to anyone who wants to take a break and just laugh at how the world was and is. (I end this post with a link to a Hetalia episode about Russia and his sisters, Ukraine and Belarus)


Traffic in the Philippines is very notable in the sense that it is thick and embedded enough in our daily life to be a valid excuse to an important meeting or to be merely taken as part of our culture. This sent me thinking of alternatives. If number coding is already present, the roads already widened, and traffic lights already installed, what more could we do to alleviate this problem?

The best alternative that I can suggest is to add more “roads”, which would probably take decades to build. As I was thinking of the alternatives, I visualized the problem in the form of an internet model. I likened the present traffic situation to the dial-up system and the alternative to be the wi-fi system. Hence, if I was to work around that model, the highways would be the cables in the dial-up system while the additional “roads” would be the wi-fi system.

How could we create these “roads”? What forms could they take? My answers to that would be by utilizing the space above the usual roads and by inventing flying cars. In the same way that the wi-fi system is not constrained by the traffic in the cable, flying cars have more space to travel on air since the traffic would be dispersed then.

However, the next question then would be, “How long will the thinning out of traffic last?” My answer would be “as long as there are unchartered and unregulated air routes on a certain area”. I believe that despite the extent of the space available to flying cars, such is still susceptible to traffic. Systems, though they create order, also accommodate traffic. They set pre-defined routes which contain movements. And such movements, when contained, build up and clog passageways. There lies the dilemma. Maybe next time, to escape the law of impenetrability, we could just invent teleports.

-Michelle P. M. Sabitsana


When Playfish introduced the new currency called “cash coins” in the online game on Facebook, Pet Society, I was really hesitant to buy at first because I was worried about online transaction security. At first I only bought $10 worth of credits thinking I can afford to lose that much in case anything goes wrong and I think I held my breath after typing in my credit card’s security pin until the time that my pet received that big bag of gold and saw “55 Playfish cash” on screen. I waited for a month before buying again because I had this suspicion that I’m going to see purchases I didn’t make on my mom’s bank statement (I was using a supplemental card) and when I didn’t, I bought again. Later on players can buy cash coins by using other payment methods and the method I use until now is the Paybycash. Whenever I make a purchase I would see the padlock icon and an advisory telling me that this is a secure site, I didn’t understand at the time just how secure this secure site is which is why I was so scared to make big purchases then. If I am to put up a small business I’d be hesitant to make my product available for online purchase too because as a buyer I experienced doubting the security of online transactions and my target market might prefer to not buy than to take their perceived risk of security. But if I were to choose, I’d probably sell online because I’d also be able to tap into other markets and have a wider geographic reach. For example, a friend of mine in Australia is selling handmade accessories (with cupcake/food designs) online and you can purchase her items anywhere in the globe. If she only sells in Australia she’ll hardly be able to break even but since she’s selling everywhere, she makes a good profit out of her hobby.

by: Jennifer Reyes

Intersection 02: Hearing, streaming, dreaming

If memory serves, a character in the TV series 24 was tried for an alleged treasonous act in an episode during one of its rather forgettable seasons (must be why I can’t fully remember the scene; and I’m an a Bauer fanatic).  During this character’s hearing, all the major players were present. 


But they were not physically present.


The accused, along with his counsel, was in a room where a couple of monitors were hooked up via Cisco Telecom (product placement!).  All the other major players in the hearing were broadcasting—in real time—from their own individual locations spread across the North American continent.


While this is fiction, it’s not science fiction.  One need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that what happened in that episode of 24 can happen in real life.  The technology is here, clearly. 


The use of current technology in the administration of justice is an alluring prospect.  Centralized and easily accessible databases for laws and jurisprudence.  Paperless correspondence, and service and filing of pleadings and motions.  Hearings and similar proceedings conducted on cyberspace, made all the more public via streaming capabilities.  The possibilities are just (place any superlative adjective here).


But this picture may still be generations away.  “Can’t teach old dogs new tricks” holds true?  Maybe.  The conservative nature of the judiciary extends to how it administers its business?  Perhaps.  Our Third World circumstance stalls efforts at keeping pace with technology?  There’s a (not-so-surprising) thought.     


And yet, the idea of administration of justice ably enhanced by technological innovations is intoxicating.  For now, I suppose we’ll have to settle for Justice on Wheels. 


- William G. Ragamat


Hear ye.

If you plan to post a 50-character advertisement in a widely-read newspapaper for its Sunday publication, better prepare 4 bills with Benigno Aquino, Jr.’s picture on it. Otherwise, just print thousands of flyers at the nearest photocopying center for P.50/leaf and hire people to distribute them all over the metro. Either way, reaching your market through print advertisement will mean money, money, and yes, more money out of your pocket. But for smart individuals out there, this is no longer the case. Like some good things in life, advertising may come for free -- with the help of the Internet.

Free classified ad sites like, and are slowly gaining popularity among house & lot/condominium owners in securing buyers or tenants at a lesser cost. Not only do they get to advertise for long periods for free, but they also spare themselves from the frustration of constantly paying their broker’s fees. This time, they deal directly with interested parties and are able to seal the deal themselves. Moreover, through the filter features of these cyber-avenues, people looking for a place to purchase or lease are able to zero-in to advertisements which match their preference (ie. unit space, amenities, location).

Social networking websites such as Facebook are another set of commonly used
means to advertise one’s products free from charge. Small-scale businesses, from those selling home-made cakes & pastries to those importing Korean line of clothing, usually spread the word by uploading pictures of their products and tagging their contacts. They utilize the website’s features, similarly offered to the accounts of actual individuals, to their proprietary advantage. So far, this has been working as their network keeps on growing.

As shown above, advertisements do not have to be worth spending on. It only takes an open mind and an enterprising spirit to see and utilize the opportunities which the Internet has to offer.

Haring + Ubu - L

"Bawal sumuko, puwedeng sumuka."

That was the warning in the brown paper bags handed to the unknowing audience last Saturday in Carlos Celdran’s The Living Room. The “audience” that was later to be encouraged (more of compelled really) to actually take part and assume roles in the
play included me, five of my batch mates, and 30 other people. Dubbed as an “intimate play,” HARING +UBU-L is about…

Hmm. To be honest, I didn’t grasp the entire message of the play. I was too busy screaming in disgust and covering myself from the splattering of saliva, sweat, and blood (fake, of course). No one told us to come in working clothes!

Well, the play is about the tragedy of our country’s political history. Based on Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, HARING +UBU-L is a mockery of how we Filipinos choose our leaders. It does not only put the blame on the TRAPOs in the government, but more importantly on the Filipinos who elected them in the first place. There is more depth to the play, I assure you. And for that, I suggest you watch it yourself.

“Kayo naman ang naglagay sa amin dito,” the four characters said.

Tableu. Dimming of lights. Next thing we knew, the four characters were crawling towards us. With menacing eyes and while pointing fingers at everyone, they shouted “P@#* niyo!”

Crass. True.

Congratulations Sipat Lawin Ensemble and JK Anicoche! For law students like us, the experience was really way outside our comfort zones. Thank you.

Blame IT

When I'm trying to cut back on expenses, I stay at home. I either watch TV or read a book, but mostly, I go online. Per my usual internet regimen, I check my email, log in to facebook, then watch TV series via live streaming. Unfortunately, that strategy hasn't really been working out for me lately.

Last May, for example, I got an email from Cebu Pacific announcing a seat sale to select Philippine destinations. Since I practically had no vacation because of summer OLA, I jumped at the chance and ended up booking a flight with my friends. Several days later, as I was innocently browsing through facebook updates, a picture of a girl wearing a cute shirt caught my eye. Curious, I clicked on the link and it brought me to an album offering tons of stuff for sale. By the time i left the site, I had placed my order for 3 tops and 2 necklaces. So much for cost-cutting.

If you think about it, at its core, there's really just one thing that the internet offers: access to information. Everything else is a variation of how that information is to be disseminated and how it may be exchanged. The important thing, it seems, is to get the information out there. On account of the internet's wide reach, someone, somewhere is bound to act on it favorably. This time, it seems, that sucker just had to be me.

Democratizing Intimacy

A long time ago people worked where they lived. Farmers farmed on their land and craftsmen made their trinkets at homes. With the start of the industrial age and modern bureaucracy there emerged a clear separation of one’s public and private sphere. People had to leave their homes (with their families and non-work friends) to work away in factories and offices. The situation became that when you entered your public sphere you completely left your private sphere behind. People were expected to dedicate their full attention to the tasks at hand. And while contact with one’s private sphere was not completely non-existent it was very limited. Access to it was a function of a person’s status. The higher up you were on the ladder the more access you had to your private sphere. An example would be the manager who most likely had a phone or direct line on his desks to his house while the flip side of it would be the factory worker who had to contend, together with all his co-workers, on a single public phone if there fortunately ever was one.

Advances in communication technology have democratized access of everyone to the private sphere. Access has no longer become a function of one’s status. The factory worker is, to a certain degree, able to stay in touch with his family and friends to the same extent as his manager. This whole idea of how these advances have democratized intimacy was the idea of a cognitive scientist, Stefana Broadbent. The ability to keep in touch during office hours might not seem to be such a big deal. However when we think about the millions of OFW working outside the country for months or years far away from their families, this democratizing effect has given them similar access to their private spheres allowing for some form of parental relationship to take place, an effect on people’s lives which cannot be lightly discounted.

Linus Madamba


No. I'm not talking about smoking or alcohol or (for you dirty minds out there) sex. This affliction is the most dangerous of them all. Look to your right, left, across and behind you. Look in the mirror. And you'll see one thing in common - the dreaded P...

PROCRASTINATION (which others may equate to Peysbooking).

No one is safe except for people who have been vaccinated with the I-was-born-eons-ago shot. Procrastination has become so common, it's now part of the Filipino culture. And the busier you are, the easier it seems to fall into this trap.

For sure we've all heard law professors tell us about the 100% bar passing rate during "those days" (with matching dramatic gaze outside the window). But "those days" have come and gone. Gone is the silence. Gone is anonymity. Gone is boredom. Gone is study time! And all this because of the internet!

Perhaps the biggest time-consuming distraction, the computer can easily tempt you out of any productive activity. People have lost girlfriends (through DOTA), quality education (wikipedia, anyone?), time (Who else is on their third attempt to finish Plants vs. Zombies?) and respect (again, DOTA), all because of that overwhelming itch to go and more importantly, stay online. The odd thing is that everyone knows that we gain nothing from it. Or even if we do, the tidbits of information or the smallest chance at improving our social lives simply do not compensate for all the sacrifices. And in this light, we can't help but wonder why and how it has come to this. Why have we become the slaves and the internet our wildly entertaining but demanding master? I have no answers.

Maybe I'd log into FB to ask. Ü

Business and Technology

Technology allows us to enjoy a host of opportunities we would not otherwise have access to because of, primarily, geography or lack of finances. The business sector, specifically Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), as well as budding entrepreneurs, have benefitted greatly from recent advancements in technology. What makes this even better, though, is that not only do the developments affect the sellers, they affect consumers as well. The internet has now become a forum where buyers and sellers may transact from anywhere in the world. On the one hand, small businesses which do not have the capital to establish their own physical stores may resort to online shopping to offer their products, enabling them to start-up their business with minimum capital. Social Networking Sites like Facebook or Multiply are no longer limited to staying connected to friends, but are used as a vehicle for online selling. On the other hand, consumers have more to choose from now that geographical barriers hardly exist. Buyers don't even need to get out of bed to order something from the other end of the globe. Technology has made selling, as well as buying, more accessible and more convenient. It has, in a way, levelled the playing field, through enabling sellers to substitute capital for technological know-how, and by allowing consumers to enjoy commodities not readily available to them.

Starting Young

It is hard not to notice just how much the younger generations are exposed to the technological innovations of the day. This is the result of globalization, wherein people must keep up or take a GREAT risk in being left behind.

There are times when this exposure may be a bad thing. For example, my younger brother spends more time on the computer chatting with his friends and surfing the Net than with actually talking to people. Hard to properly develop social skills that way. There is also the generation gap wherein there is a lack of understanding or comprehension between us and our parents.

But this exposure is not all bad. One good thing that came out of it is that people are developing a more independent and entrepreneurial mindset at a younger age. I actually met a 12 year old who was selling things online! And with the Internet, the development of such businesses is now faster, easier and cheaper. Their overhead costs are greatly decreased since they don’t have to pay for store space, for electricity and utilities, advertising, or even the wages of employees. Nope. These businesses are fairly self-sustainable and cover a wide range of products – clothes, shoes, food, and accessories. With the emergence of G-Cash and other online cash payment processing systems, even paying for your purchases has become easier. So log on to Facebook or Multiply and start clicking away!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Evidence That Lasts Forever

Alright, so this device won't store evidence forever, but it will for a hundred years.

SanDisk has developed the SD WORM (“write once read many”) card, essentially a flash memory solution for tamper-proof data storage. Supposedly with an archival life of one hundred years, the card will be invulnerable to degradation. As soon as data is written into the card, there is “no physical way to alter or delete individual recorded files.” Of course, physical destruction of the card is always a viable option.

Its suggested uses include “police investigations, court testimony, electronic voting and other applications where data files must be protected from alteration or deletion.”

The SanDisk press release stated that the company has already shipped volumes of the card to Japan’s police force. Japan notably abolished its statute of limitations on murder and murder-robbery earlier this year. Since actions for murder and murder-robbery are imprescriptible within the jurisdiction, it is crucial for relevant evidence to remain intact for several years.

Physical evidence is susceptible to deterioration and interference. Human memory fades, and witnesses move (or die). The WORM SD card makes it a lot easier to store and retrieve evidence which would have otherwise disappeared.

However, the utility that may be derived from the WORM SD card depends on the continued development of flash memory technology. SanDisk seems to be operating under the assumption that SD cards will not only exist, but be fully functional, a century from now. The integrity and security of digital storage will clearly be useless if no device can read the data contained therein.

Richelle Dianne Patawaran, Entry No. 2

entry number 2

As I struggle to make blogger's interface show inequality signs as plain text and not as part of my entry's html coding (so much for what you see is what you get on the "compose" tab!), bigger things are happening on the web. Upon the very interface in which I type this entry, it seems.

Recently I was playing around with Mr.doob's Harmony project and I thought I'd take a look at how in the world anyone could come up with something like that. And I subsequently got lost in a sea of codes and stories about codes which only made as much sense to me as some obscure foreign language.

It's so easy to remain blissfully unaware of how html has evolved in such a short span of time, and even easier still to remain an ignorant end user. I won't pretend to have even a basic working knowledge of html (all I remember of it is the basic course we had in computer class back in high school). Better to just get it straight from the experts.

After that failed attempt at understanding even the dummy's guide to the history of html5, I realized: much as I could -- and probably should -- be more intrigued about drawing algorithms and that <canvas> element, I think I'd rather just enjoy doodling on  Harmony. And remain appreciative of all that great talent out there and their willingness to share their work with the world.

Cyber Crime Law - Anyone?

It amazes me how the Philippines keep being in top ten lists of countries whose citizenry are technologically aware and capable. At one time, we were heralded as the "texting capital of the world." Now, we are also one of the countries who dominate Facebook. If I'm not mistaken, the same thing happened to Friendster.

Obviously, these only speak of one thing: Filipinos love to communicate. We want to interact, we want to share, we want to connect.

This being the case, the Philippine government should protect its "virtual citizens" on line. Unfortunately, we have yet to come up with a Cyber Law. And, I thought this would come about after the Hayden Scandal broke out. Interestingly, the Members of Congress didn't even budge. They had the issue as one of Violence Against Women.


Even then, the sensational I Love You Virus should have prompted our dear lawmakers to come up with some measures to address potential risks posed by criminally minded people loose on the Internet. What did they do? Nothing.

If those two serious issues were not enough to get Congress to act on a bill, I don't know what will it take to make them understand the gravity of the problem. I guess we have to wait for one/some of them to be victimized before they actually make it a priority bill. After all, that was what led Sen. Enrile to investigate the anomalous deductions in cellphone credits.

The Computer Professionals' Union and Advancing ICT for the People

In 2001, a group of information communications technology (ICT) practitioners established the Computer Professionals' Union (CPU) of the Philippines in response to the expressed need of grassroots-oriented organisations to understand the state of ICT that was becoming a very pronounced sector in the Philippines' national development landscape. The technicalities of the state of the ICT industry and its accompanying issues had to be articulated in the context of people's development.

Eventually, the CPU would extend its reach to do advocacy and organising work amongst computer professionals and enthusiasts, i.e., programmers, system developers, system analysts, ICT project managers, university students, including teachers and researchers from the academe.

In 2008, CPU was officially registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Philippines as a non-stock, not-for-profit organisation.

The CPU has a core of active voluntary members who have committed themselves to a vision of a Philippines that is free from foreign control and domination, where its people enjoy democratic and civil rights, and where information and communications technology can assist and serve the real development needs of the country's people and economy. Circumscribed in this institutional vision, the CPU states as its mission, to work for an information and communications technology that will benefit the Filipino people through the enunciation of a pro-people critical standpoint on the state of ICT in the country and its impact on the Filipino people in general and on ICT professionals in particular. The CPU is, therefore, dedicated to further advancing the specific demands of Filipino ICT professionals in the workplace.

Terry Ridon

"Nothing is Original"

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, painting, photograph, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speaks directly to your souls. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don't bother concealing your thievery, celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: " It is not where you take things from - its where you take them to." - Jim Jarmusch

When I first saw this quote from the web, it made me smile. From the moment I have been taught in school to do research, it has always been impressed on me that “stealing” ideas is a bad thing and it is a big no-no. I have been taught to always be “original”. Not only because copying others can be considered plagiarism, but also because doing such act could actually get me kicked out of school. So when I saw this image it made me realize that we are all guilty of “stealing” at one point of our lives or another. Whether we know it or not, we are a product of the entities that inspire us. Our thoughts, memories, ideas are an amalgamation of the thoughts, memories, and ideas of other people. And there is nothing wrong with that. Great people have always built on the ideas of the people that has come before them. I’m sure even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was a product of the amalgamation of the works of other physicists that inspired him. Disclaimer though: I still believe in giving credit where credit is due. So when in doubt, cite your sources (and use Myrna Feliciano’s Blue Book for good measure ;p). If only to not get oneself into the trouble of being accused of plagiarism.

- Gino Paulo O. Uy, Entry #2