Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(#3) Earth to ICT: "Help!"

I love Wall-E. If you haven’t seen this awesome movie, I highly recommend it. (“,) It’s well worth 1 hour, 37 minutes and 55 seconds of your time because of its relevance and usefulness in our class (ICT, law and policy) ^_^ For those interested, I have a copy (for research purposes Ü ). I never get tired of watching it over and over (…again for academic purposes Ü).

It’s a thought-provoking, inspiring, and entertaining computer-animated fun sci-fi film that makes viewers conscious of so many important lessons about a very advanced (ICT-wise) world, as well as its effects to human beings and our surroundings.

One such realization is the need to use ICT not only as a means to better our life economically but also to help our environment recover from degradation. Beyond its utilization in business, governments must make policies to ensure that ICT will play a significant role in addressing our pressing environmental concerns.

As an aside, I can relate to the scenes where people only interact virtually (i.e. not personally anymore) because I experience it in our office where we communicate through chat, complete with emoticons, instead of talking to each other, even if we’re in the same (small) room.

Perhaps, it’s because of this sense of detachment to the real world which contributes to our worsening environmental problems. On the other hand, ICT can also be an essential tool to help solve the same problems by active public awareness campaigns because ICT is very effective in information dissemination. But more than just telling people what the problems are, ICT must be used to mobilize active participation from all sectors of society because we are all stakeholders in the survival of our planet. People must be given specific instructions to be followed, and concrete action plans to be implemented.

Entry # 3

* image from http://www.google.com.ph/imglanding?q=wall+e&um=1&hl=tl&sa=N&biw=1003&bih=376&tbs=isch:1&tbnid=uLTSgBJRfcAEpM:&imgrefurl=http://www.dvdvideo.co.nz/shop/index.php%253Fmanufacturers_id%253D4&imgurl=http://www.dvdvideo.co.nz/shop/images/sony/wall-e_dvd.jpg&zoom=1&w=359&h=500&iact=rc&ei=4B79TNz1I4i3cLn10PQO&oei=0x79TIHKIY-6cenP0PYO&esq=2&page=2&tbnh=113&tbnw=81&start=11&ndsp=14&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:11

"Adik sa'yo"

Source: http://www.tipb.com/2010/04/15/highly-addictive-iphone-ipod-touch-games/

She almost treaded on the path of ruining her med-school life. In her own words, “Bigla na lang ako nahihimasmasan after almost a week. Mabuti pa ‘yung Sims character ko naayos ko ang buhay.”

He would wake up early every school day, eat a hearty breakfast, change into school uniform, receive his daily allowance from his mom, and step out of the house. But he would not proceed to school. He would instead go straight to his favorite computer shop and spend the whole day playing DotA there. He is now 25 years old but remains a college dropout.

These are instances of computer addiction, which could be dangerously unhealthy and ultimately mess up lives. The addict becomes boxed with the computer and loses his socialization skills. His world becomes smaller and smaller. In other cases, he develops a virtual world and loses touch with reality.

With the continuous advancement of ICT--coupled with the unstoppable development of Internet connections that provide for faster and faster services and the plague-like emergence of online games--cases of computer addiction also multiply. What is more disturbing is the fact that even the most “human” activities are slowly being replaced by virtual versions. And this also applies to equally addictive cellphone games and applications which were originally created for killing time. "Have you cooked in Café World?" "Oh, you have harvested in Farmville!" "But have you tried saving the world in Warcraft?" "Of course, I even danced my way to stardom at Audition!" Computer addiction has become so prevalent that one Filipino psychologist gets sessions with 70 addicts a month for Emotional Touch Therapy.

It is said that the following are the symptoms of computer addiction: 1) insomnia; 2) difficulty in paying attention to conversations; 3) pain in the nape area; and 4) preference on being alone. So, how addict are you? (Watch this video to find what happens if you spend too much time in front of the computer)

-Phebean Belle A. Ramos, entry #3

The Paradox of the Heap and My SLR Paper

It's a day after my birthday. I'm 25, I've just gained 4 pounds in the span of a week, and I'm surrounded by the detritus of yesterday's festivities. I've been staring at this screen since early this morning, wrestling with the philosophical and linguistic concepts I plan to use as a framework for my Supervised Legal Research (SLR) paper. The first draft is due within the week. Yes, this is indeed cause for alarm.

Internet sources comrpise the bulk of my research materials. I've been using Microsoft OneNote, Word and this complicated citation software called Endnote to prevent that dreaded P-word. So here I am, armed to the teeth with the latest in in publication software, feeling that despite all the available technology at my disposal, writing my paper isn't any easier than when... I dunno, probably whenever it was the SLR was first invented.

Consider: pre-Google research writing involved going to the library, hoarding books, lots of analytical thinking, and then the actual typing. Today, however, if you type in your research topic in any search engine, THOUSANDS of papers appear. This, of course, adds one more step to the modern student's research writing process: the period purely devoted to existentialist angst. This phase can last from a few hours to an entire semester. It's bad enough that there are more materials to read, but just thinking about the competition is terrifying I am but ONE research drone in a sea of research drones (except THEY have PhDs, JDs and/or about 30 years of work experience), what is my purpose?

Now let's apply, for example, the Paradox of the Heap, also known as the Sorites (from the Greek word "soros" which means "heap") which is attributed to the Greek logician and all-around jokester Eubulides. The Sorites is one of the illustrative devices I'm using for my SLR, and I think it applies to the problem at hand, i.e. writing my SLR paper. The Sorites problem arises when there are two assumptions that both seem reasonable, but result in a unreasonably strange conclusion when combined.
Assumption One: 1 grain of wheat is not a "heap".
Assumption Two: If 1 grain of wheat does not make a "heap" then 2 (then 3, 4, 5, etc...) grains of wheat do not likewise make a "heap".
Conclusion: No finite number of grains of wheat qualify as a "heap".
What is the purpose of such arguments? Well, other than to annoy, it's a way of spotting the problem arising from the use of vague predicates, e.g. "heap" just how many grains of wheat do you need for it to qualify as a "heap" or "non-heap"?

Another vague predicate is the term "prepared". Like when have I "prepared" enough to start writing my paper? Of course, I have to read literature related to my topic. Is reading one word enough? No. That's like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. How about adding one more word? No. What's two more measly words? Now add another word, and another, and another ad infinitum. It never ends!
Problem: How many words do I have to read so that I've prepared enough for my SLR?
Oh those infuriating Greeks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

LOOXCIE: One of the 50 Best Inventions of 2010

Photo from: http://www.looxcie.com/

SATURDAY EVENING, while fumbling around on the dining table, I stumbled upon TIME Magazine’s November issue (good thing I allowed my wife to subscribe notwithstanding my opposition, what with information scattered all over the net these days). Its headline read: The 50 Best Inventions of 2010. So I checked it out and found Looxcie, a camera worn over your ear. That’s right. It’s an ear-piece camcorder, hence, hands-free. This little device can record up to five hours of everything the USER SEES, and in no time, clips can be shared on the web (i.e. Facebook, Youtube, e-mail). As a parent, I always find myself having a hard time babysitting or organizing (which means a lot of running around) my child’s school events and parties, and at the same time capturing these precious moments. My DSLR just doesn’t give me that convenience that goes with a Looxcie. Also, there are moments at home that happen so fast such that by the time I’m able to set up the DSLR, there’s nothing more to capture. Interestingly, Looxcie was invented by a dad as well who was experiencing the same troubles during parties as I am. For only $199, I am definitely going to consider buying this little baby as a Christmas present.

As its ad suggests "Light, small effortless", a myriad of legal issues can no doubt arise from the improper use of this device. At the forefront is PRIVACY. Also, this little device makes it convenient for criminals to perpetuate crimes such as robbery and kidnapping. We all should keep abreast of developments in technology to protect ourselves and our loved ones. It's not just a matter of being "Techy" or not. The issue has stridden the cobbled streets of SAFETY and SECURITY.

Christopher John P. Lao

Entry #3

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Summa Cum Laude and ICT

UP had its most number of summa cum laude graduates last academic year (2009-2010) which totaled 33. Professors, post graduate students, and older graduates were amazed. When asked of their reactions on the statistics, these people had varying answers. Some say it’s because of the revised general education curriculum that allowed some students to graduate without taking difficult subjects such as math and sciences. While one respected university faculty member said that these students (Summa Cum Laude) were not any brighter than us older graduates, it’s just that their lives were made a lot easier now because of the internet.

This change in student lifestyle from hard to easy is said to be largely attributed to ICT. Before, students had to search for each material manually, only in the library. Research work then was hampered by library hours, limited resources, and restricted access to materials. They say ICT changed everything, UP student life included.

UP is at the frontline of this revolution in the education system. I have witnessed the change from manual registration to the use of computerized registration system (CRS). It was a major shift but the students quickly adapted. The CRS eliminated the long lines for enlistment in blockbuster subjects. The ancient practice of falling in line at 5am just to have a better chance of getting a subject has been stopped.

Now, almost all the things we need to do for school are available online. We can search the online public catalogue of the library from anywhere. We get cases from the internet. These online materials may be easily downloaded or read simultaneously by everyone. We register, view and print grades online.

I think the faculty member’s comment has some truth but it is not entirely true. I believe he has a point when he said that the student life of those in the generation of the 33 summa cum laude graduates was made relatively easier by the use of internet and ICT.

However, I also recognize that the use of ICT has not changed some standards. The help internet and ICT give pertains mainly to sourcing of materials. Easy access to materials does not change the fact that students have to read, analyze and memorize the contents of the materials. While access has greatly improved, the essential mental processes which these materials have to undergo have not been made easy.

Today, students still read and analyze the same materials read by old students years ago only in LCD screens, instead of papers. In the end, I think those 33 students deserve to be summa cum laude graduates.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Possibilities with the Google Book Scanning Deal

At its simplest, the Google-French Book Scanning deal involves Google scanning thousands of French books, usually out-of-print, and Google will have the rights to use these scanned documents commercially.

At one end, this is alarming to publishers who invoke copyright protection, with the exception of Hachette Livre (that’s Publisher No. 2 to you) have in fact sued Google in court for copyright violation, and have won.

On the other end, the Lyon Library welcomes this innovation. One of the first books scanned was a rare 16th century collection of doomsday predictions by Nostradamus himself. The Ministry of Culture cries cultural theft, but the Library remains optimistic with the project’s noble objective: the promotion of heritage and culture. The Director was quoted saying, “By putting them on the internet, much larger circles of society, including non-specialists, can read these works and enjoy them and find them useful”.

The French Government made an attempt to build its own scanning facility, aptly-named Gallica, but as of the moment, it is nowhere near Google’s capabilities.

If by some chance, Google offers a deal like this in-country, I think we should go through with it, despite any copyright debate that may arise.

In-country, the problem has never been copyright protection. Publishers, especially the foreign ones, are already amply protected thanks to their lobby. Our problem has always been access, and we have very little of it.

Imagine the possibilities if works were made available online, then every Juan, Jong-Jong and Jing-Jing with access to DOTA and Facebook to all this knowledge. This is in the hope that we will be able to create a culture of book-readers, which we have never been, because we seem to find local noon time shows more entertaining.

ICTar Wars

I have always been a Star Wars fan. I guess there is just something about star wars that has always drawn me into it. Heck, I have always looked forward to the day I would have my own pearly white stormtrooper armour and join the 501st (please check out www.501st.com).

Star Wars offers a lot – for a kid to wonder, for kids-at-heart to ponder. From that day I saw my first Star Wars through our neighbour’s window grills while on tip-toe and to this day, a lot have been said about the whole epic saga. It has been looked into in so many different ways, dissected and digested – political analysts, economists, historians, literary critics etc., they all had said something about it.

So, maybe as a fan, and for the first time, I’ll say something about it… and oh, with a little hint of ICT on the side.

One interesting thing about George Lucas is the way he arranged the whole saga. Why create the original trilogy which is actually the second part of the chronology two decades before the first part? Hence, we have a whole series where the earlier part looks more techy and advanced than the supposedly more technologically advanced latter part.

For a fictional epic that involves the use of sophisticated technology, George Lucas, ought to have foreseen that two decades would make a lot of difference when it comes to film/animation development. However, he did it the way he did it. One then would ask, why. And the answer could simply be, because he meant to do it the way he did it, i.e., that the making of the epic is itself part of the whole saga. And if so, why?

Of course, ironies.

It’s man versus man-made, the digital versus analog, rustic versus tech, brute force versus technology-guided tactics.

Take the following for example:

The much more animated and colourful first part (Episodes I-III) dealt with how the Sith Lord (simply put, Mr. Bad Guy) came to power. How the Republic was thrown and replaced by an anarchical empire. On the other hand, the original trilogy, which was of course an animation/film technology breakthrough at the time, dealt with the return of the Jedi (the good guys) and restoration of galactic peace.

Another. Darth Vader vs Anakin. Yes, they are the same person, “the father” of Luke. But see, Anakin was that side of him which was good, Anakin was the man while Vader was the machine. In Epsiode VI, the last episode of the series, to gain redemption, Anakin had to have Vader’s helmet removed for all to see the man inside that trademarked all black outfit. It created a distinction between the man and the machine.

Last one (though there are still so many others), the Force versus the Deathstar. The Jedi Masters would describe the Force in so many different ways but they would all agree that it is something natural, nothing fabricated nor synthetic. The Deathstar, meanwhile, is 100% machine (and pure evil). It can annihilate an entire planet into oblivion in just seconds. When tasked to destroy the Deathstar, Luke had to abandon all technological sophistication and had to rely mainly on the Force and instinct. And so, the De
athstar is history.

I am not trying to equate the relation between technology and stone age to that of good and evil. I am not saying that technology is bad or evil. In fact in the whole saga, aside from Anakin/Vader, the only two other characters one could see throughout the entire series are two faithful robots: R2-D2 and C3PO.

What I think the whole genius behind the manner of arranging the whole saga is that George Lucas would like to put emphasis on the fact that while technology is good (robots, comlinks, hyperdrive engines, facebook etc.) it is that man should always be seen as the source of this good and hence its master. That this master in turn should be jedi-like, a man who knows how to wield a sophisticated device like a lightsaber, to know that it is for preserving peace and not for waging war.

So, each time we choose which to click, I hope the force is with us.


Do I really need to organize?

The bar exams are approaching, and my room is still as messy as it was during my freshman year. The only good change that was added was a blue "princess" crib, along with a very adorable baby inside. The xerox copies of cases still lie waiting in the corner, some read, some not. And again I wonder, do I really need to organize?

I planned on having a drinking binge at Starbucks, to finally have a planner ( my first ever, in my twenty three years of existence ) so I could finally start "organizing" my life, but over the budget expenses and sheer laziness prevented me from doing so. Again I asked myself, do I really need to organize?

I'm the type of person who excels most when pressured, and I think, I always subconsciously induce myself to be at my best by making my room every mother's nightmare. My mother tried to convert me for the first 18 years of my life, finally giving up, when, upon cleaning my room, I flunked an exam. I reasoned out that I wasn't able to find my study materials due to the new arrangements implemented in my room and happily blamed it on the "disorganization" of my room. She resigned there and then in reminding me to clean my room, and avoided invading it ever since. Now that I have my own family and moved out of the house, she said she misses yelling at me every morning and evening to clean my room. See? :D

People usually overlook who a person really is deep inside, judging right away from what is seen in the exterior (in my case, my room). I filled our living room wall with plaques, awards, medals, and achievements, yet the only thing that people notice about me is my room. My room is cluttered, so what? I'm proud of it, because it means that I've been busy trying to improve myself and bring happiness to my parents. It means I've put in a lot of hard work in what i do. It means that I've done a lot to society by being productive.

Now, do I still need to organize?

communicationally challenged

It's fascinating how fast communications technology has developed over the past two decades, which in fact is just about the length of time I've lived on this Earth.

Having a dad who works overseas most of the year is a test of communication. When I was around 5-6 yrs old, the only communication we have are letters sent way ahead of time or received a little too late. Since the letters must be sent through incoming and outgoing crew members of the ship, the opportunity of sending letters are far and too spaced out in between so one cannot miss the chance of sending a letter.

Slowly, calls overseas came trickling like a drizzle during el Nino-- short, sweet, leaving you wanting for more. At least during those times, my dad could call during special occasions like birthdays or Christmas.

During my high school years, calls have become more frequent through radio satellite. The reception was filled with white noise, voices were barely audible, and on top of that you have to keep shouting "over-over" at the close of every line. The benefit when it comes to radio is that even if my dad is way out in the ocean, radio satellite is still available albeit very expensively.

Come college, ships are now upgraded and internet service is available on board. Email then became a staple mode of communication-- snail mail is out of the picture. The only problem we have with internet is that my mom refuses vehemently to learn how to operate a computer!

The solution was smartlink, a telephone especially designed for those out on the sea. It is cheap, fast, and clear. Today whenever my dad is near land, or is near the Philippines, he can call easily because the telephone works pretty much like a cellphone powered by cell sites.

It is an unfortunate fact of Philippine life that parents are forced to leave their children to seek employment abroad; at the very least, advancements in communications technology make it easier to bear.

(entry #2)

Hard or Soft?

I’ve heard too often the line, “my laptop is my life.” Most times though, I think they mean their lives are in their laptops.

Today, this is in fact possible as almost everything has a “softcopy” counterpart. For one, this generation no longer invests on photo albums full of developed pictures with handwritten captions. We now rely on programs like I-Photo that automatically sorts uploaded pictures into events and even has face recognition for the forgetful. Second, many law students opt to just download cases from the net instead of spending on photocopying tons of SCRA. Some also bring laptops to class and type their notes so that it will be easier to edit into reviewers for the exams. Third, most bookworms now think twice about buying expensive books especially when an e-book is available for free download. There are so many other things that mean the world to us and we choose to save them instead as .doc, .pdf and .jpeg in the hope that our laptops never crash.

The swift pace at which new technologies are made have probably resulted in a paradigm shift especially for the younger generations--everything can be found online. Even better, everything can be downloaded whether free or for a price. I remember my friend whose 7-year old sister called her to say, “ate I checked on the internet if Santa is real!” I also recently read an article in Inquirer about how Amazon.com is making it easier for customers to give Kindle e-books as gifts this Christmas by sending them to the recipients via email.[1]

Surely it’s all very convenient, but sentimental saps like myself still miss hardcopies and long stories. These you can hug, hold, savor, smell, eat even. When I get older, I still want to have photo albums in the sala for visitors to breeze through; and a library full of books even if they collect dust and smell ancient; and a Christmas tree full of gifts for the family to open at Christmas eve; and while we're at it, I’d also like a collection of postcards and handwritten letters, some chocolate wrappers and an occasional pressed rose. :p

Ma. Anna Katrina C. Eustaquio, (2nd Blog Entry)


How many times have you passed by a vehicular accident? How many people do you know have been robbed? How many times have you heard that she or he could have been better had the medical team or the ambulance arrived earlier? Or that the bad guys could have been apprehended had the police been able to respond immediately? It is frustrating right?

Who you gonna call?

In the US, they have 911.They can call this number in case of emergency and surely, somebody will respond to their call. IMMEDIATELY. The widespread knowledge of the emergency hotline has helped greatly in saving lives. However, it has been observed that 911 do not support the new gadgets for communication. So now, there is a move on updating 911 and making it a “New Generation 911” where people could use video or picture to inform the authorities of their situations or just text in case the situation does not safely allow them to make a call. (For the full story, click here.)

Here, in the Philippines, we have many hotlines to call in case of emergency. Furthermore, we have already adjusted hotlines to accommodate the innovations in communication technology. We have text hotlines such as the MMDA Text Service 9988 and the PNP Text Service 2920 which was launched in 2002. Plus, we also have other hotlines which we can call in times of emergency such as these:

General Emergency services 112 or 911

Police 117

Police & Fire 757 or 116

MERALCO, Manila Electric Company (632) 631-1111

We were able to immediately accommodate the SMS mode of communication. The only problem is lack of information dissemination. The police, the MMDA and other government offices should do something to make the people more aware of the existence of these help lines. They should stop the ningas-cogon attitude and start following through their projects.

We were one step ahead on this one. We just have to be more patient with our awareness campaigns because it is one thing to provide the system. To properly put it into service is a whole different matter.

Entry # 2

Pia Augustha G. Agatep


*Picture from pnp.gov.ph