Quantcast Tech Addicts: April 2008 Archives

April 2008 Archives

By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net CANON has recently introduced a new line of camcorders aimed at spurring video enthusiasts to go high-definition. T Canon's new HD camcorders are the mid-level HF100 and the higher model HF10. Bo th feature AVCHD (advanced video codec high definition) recording at 1920x1080 pixels (2 megapixels) and record sound in 2-channel Dolby Digital. The two also have a solid-state drive of up to 16 gigabytes, one of the first camcorders to use internal flash-based memory storage. Likewise, the to also have separate S D card or MMC card slots that could accommodate high-capacity flash cards. Here's a video interview I conducted with Canon Southeast Asia assistant system s manager for Consumer Imaging Mohamad Yazid Bin Ali, who gave a demo of the HF 10. Apart from the HF10 and HF100, Canon also introduced standard definition camcor ders, the FS10 and FS11, which can record videos at up to 1120x630 pixels. Thes e also have internal solid-state drives of up to 16GB and can also accommodate SD and MMC cards. In an interview, Canon Marketing Philippines president Ramon Arteficio said HD is already on its way to becoming a video standard for both professional and am ateur videos, largely due to the availability of widescreen HD TVs. He said their main selling point is the camcorder's dual flash memory technolog y, allowing the camcorder to record either to its internal memory or to an exte rnal storage device. Arteficio also noted a decline in the use of the still-popular mini-DV drive, e ven more so with the mini-DVD recording media. "SD cards are actually getting cheaper and they're easier to use. Video stored in a flash drive can be directly edited to a computer without the need for leng thy conversions," he said. Arteficio, however, said the mini-DV recording media will remain a big player i n the Philippines due to its lower cost, estimated to be half of HD camcorders.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net WHILE COVERI NG the Microsoft Imagine Cup annual software design competition, I got to m eet several teams of college students from different top local universities. Th eir objective: design a software application that would help promote a sustaina ble environment. One idea from Team Prairie Watch of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde invo lved tagging endangered animals with a little webcam and streaming the video that this little gadget captures on the web. They had a working prototype that looked promising. Another idea developed by Team Tala was a computer game that would teach kids about the environment. Team Tala was a mixed team of stu dents from the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Phi lippines and the Philippine Christian University. Here's my video interview with Team Prairie Watch. And here's the video interview with Team Tala. What caught my attention (but unfortunately it didn't win) was a software appli cation developed by Team IMI 2.0 from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. They devel oped a software application that applied the "crowd sourcing" idea to calamity and disaster reporting. As explained to me by the students and their teacher, the software application uses Microsoft Virtual Earth as the user interface to allow people to report calamities a nd disasters. They could either submit written reports via text or chat, or upl oad video clips. Designed with the government in mind, the application uses a v irtual map to pinpoint areas of disaster and calamaties. If you click on an ico n, you will be able to get more information. This application can best serve agencies like the National Disaster Coordinatin g Council. This will allow citizens to submit pertinent information (which shou ld go through verification) and contribute to information gathered by the gover nment. In calamity and disaster reporting, verified information is crucial. As their teacher explained, it is like the "911 for calamities and disaster on the Web." The application hopes to bridge the gap of information from those who wa nt to help and from those needing help during a disaster. Another interesting software application, which I found intriguing, was called "Gigo," as in "garbage in, garbage out." It was developed by the youngest final ists from Team Tibecom of Ateneo. They were freshmen and they won second place. First place went to another team from Ateneo, dubbed Team Pi/4, who developed a system that hopes to help consumers make environmentally-friendly decisions w hen buying products. Gigo works like "Google for trash." A widget or gadget is downloaded to a person's desktop, so that they can conduct searches on common p roducts and find out how these could be recycled. It also empowers people by te aching them how to deal with trash and non-biodegradable products, such as styr ofoam. Here's the video interview with Team Tibecom. And here's the video interview with Team Pi/4. One thing that I observed after the winners were declared was that students who were able to explain their projects clearly came out on top. So it is also imp ortant that ideas are presented clearly. This was the lesson I learned earlier in a bootcamphosted by Morph Labs.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net DESPITE the almost non-existence of high-definition signals in the Philippines, Samsung is expecting that the growing demand for audio-visual equipment would push their latest product lines that are geared toward the HD market. Samsung is already introducing its first Blu-ray standalone player to complemen t its widescreen displays. HD refers to high resolution digital image processin g, usually by LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs, plasma panels and some projecto rs. Current broadcast signals are still in analog standard resolution, normally at 480p (progressive) and an aspect ratio of 4:3. However, HD can produce bett er images of up to 1080p with 16:9 aspect ratio. Samsung Philippines president Spencer Shim said he is confident the company wil l be among the key drivers in the HD space, citing its performance in the Asian region where it said it had sold about 600,000 widescreen displays in 2007. "This year, we aim to cross the one million mark, as we seek to further reinfor ce our regional audio-visual leadership," Shim said. Shim said that part of their campaign to promote their products is to promote t he concept of HDTV. It has a partnership with the cable channels National Geogr aphic and the Discovery Networks Asia, which are already transmitting their sho ws in HD format. "These initiatives will help convert consumers to HD advocates ." The company recently launched a new series of equipment from LCD and plasma TVs , Blu-ray players, to digital cameras, camcorders, and some MP3 players. One of their main highlighted products is the Series 6 LCD TV, which uses a gla ss-infused bezel instead of the standard plastic bezel, giving the Series 7 a c rystal-like appearance. I interviewed Samsung Display product manager Roma Ramirez, who talked about th e company's latest flat panel displays. Check out the video. Samsung also brought to the Philippines the first commercially available 3D-rea dy plasma TV, the 42-inch PS42A450. It is based on the same technology as the I MAX theater, wherein users have to wear specialized eye glasses to view images in 3D. The product is to be introduced in the Philippines in May but the price has yet to be set. Here's a video of me getting up close and personal with the 3D TV. Editor's note: Videos taken by INQUIRER.net online videographer Janie Chris tine Octia.
MOTOROLA regional marketing director Mari Litonjua gives a demo of two handsets which are also excellent music players, the RAZR 2 V9 and ROKR E8. Litonjua sa id the ROKR E8 will be launched in the market in the middle of May. Video taken by INQUIRER.net online videographer Janie Christine Octia.
VOLTAIRE TANGONAN, who has been handicapped since childhood, describes a typica l workday as a call center agent for Convergys, an American firm that is one of the largest call center operators in the country. Video taken by INQUIRER.net technology reporter Lawrence Casiraya.

Wireless guardian angel

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YOU'VE got to hand it to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. -- this was a pretty interesting demo of their PLDT Guardian wireless security solution versus p ilferage or inside jobs. Video taken by INQUIRER.net technology reporter Erwin Oliva.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net SEAGATE and Creative are the only two Singaporean IT brands that have name reca ll in the Philippines. However, an upstart firm wants to join its Singaporean b rethren. Axioo International is the latest OEM (original equipment manufacturer) noteboo k to enter the somewhat saturated laptop market. Nevertheless, the company is c onfident that there is a market for their product in Asia, including the Philip pines. Here's a video interview I conducted with Axioo International managing director Stephen Lim, who talks about the Singapore-based company's decision to launch its laptops in the Philippines. In the Philippines, the company recently introduced their Zetta series; the mid -level Zetta TEN and the high-performance Zetta TEC. The former uses Pentium a Dual Core processor, an Intel GMA X3100 graphics card, 1 Gigabyte of memory, 12 0 Gb of hard disk space, integrated Wifi antenna and an optional Bluetooth rece iver. Meanwhile, the Zetta TEC is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2Gb of me mory, GMA X3100 integrated graphics, 160Gb of hard disk space, integrated wifi and Bluetooth. Although the two models have different specifications, they are also the same s ize with 13.3-inch LCD screen. They also come in at least four colors (red, bla ck, pink and green) though there were also some models that came in white, blue and yellow. Apart from the Zetta Ten and Tec models, the company will also be introducing i ts own version of the Classmate PC, which sports very basic parts, a 7-inch mon itor and uses Linux with a graphical user interface. In the interview, Lim said the company's products are aimed at students, small- office-home office and small business markets that are looking for alternative laptop brands. "We don't want to claim that we're targeting the same market as the more estab lished brands but since we've only started we're aiming for brand recall," Lim said. Axioo only started manufacturing notebooks this year and has a plant in Singapo re. The company also only recently started showcasing their products in Vietnam , Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Ne w Zealand and the Philippines. Lim has not provided pricing for their products in the Philippines yet but said that these will be competitively priced with current local brands. Axioo will be distributed in the Philippines by Millennium Computers Technology .

The colors of Dell

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By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net CHILL. Blossom. Streak. Can you imagine calling your Dell notebook by those names? Apparently, these are the new names of three of the eleven colorful notebooks u nveiled by Dell Inc., as it announced that it is entering the Philippine consumer market. Where did they get the names? Evan Williams, Dell consumer sales and marketing general manager for South Asia, said he is not sure how these names came to be. But he's sure that they were partly influenced by Dell's "risky move" of relyi ng on consumer feedback when designing their products. Check out this video interview I conducted. Another Dell executive said the name "Streak" was chosen because that particula r notebook has a silver streak on it. Okay, that makes sense. But what about Bl ossom? Or Chill? Oh, I also forgot to mention the other colors they have: jet black, alpine whit e, ruby red, midnight blue, flamingo pink (this is a hit among women, according to Dell), spring green, espresso brown, and finally, sunshine yellow. This name game for Dell is in stark contrast to the company's "corporate image. " Remember those advertisements showing how tough Dell notebooks are? Williams said Dell hopes to differentiate its notebooks from other brands by pr oviding more choices. In their case, that means consumers can choose from among the many colors of Dell.

MacBook Air is here

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By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE APPLE MacBook Air is now in the Philippines and the distributor says the fi rst batch of the latest MacBook incarnation has already sold out. Already, MSI-ECS is preparing to get another batch of MacBook Airs to be distri buted in the Philippines. The MacBook Air had a small launch with Filipino reporters at the MSI-ECS offic e in Libis, Quezon City. MSI-ECS Apple product manager Cheche David said the de mand is so high that they had closed the pre-order selling during the first bat ch. Those hoping to buy the device would have to go to an Apple store to order their units. Here's a video I took of David demonstrating some of the features of the MacBoo k Air. "It's really one of our biggest launches ever and we hope to keep up with deman d," David said, stating that the company is planning to have a major consumer l aunch of the MacBook Air soon. David said the suggested retail pric of the MacBook Air is P94,500 in the Phili ppines. The MacBook Air was launched at the Macworld Conference on Jan. 15 this year. I t is touted as the world's thinnest notebook at only 0.7 inches at its thickest and 0.16 inches at its thinnest. It is also the lightest in its size class (13 .3-inch LCD size) at only 3 pounds. Check out this video of the MacBook family: the MacBook Pro, MacBook and MacBoo k Air. Due to its thinness the MacBook Air does not have an integrated optical drive, but the user can get an external USB SuperDrive. It is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6 Gigahertz processor, two gigabytes of internal memory, and an Intel GMA X3100 graphics card. It also comes with an 80 GB hard disk drive but the device can also use the new 64GB solid state drive ( SSD). The SSD is sold separately and is priced at around P20,000 The MacBook Air only has a one USB 2.0 port, one micro-DVI port and an audio ja ck. Its wireless connections include a built-in Bluetooth antenna and integrate d wifi function called AirPort Extreme. According to David, Apple has already resolved the alleged overheating problem with a new patch for the Mac OS X Leopard, which lessens the Intel processor's power consumption depending on usage. One unique feature of the MacBook Air is the trackpad that makes use of the sam e multi-touch technology of the iPhone, allowing users to manipulate webpages, photos and other documents with just a flick of their fingers.

Intel's own 'Asimo'

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HERE'S another video that INQUIRER.net technology reporter Lawrence Casiraya se nt in from the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai of "Fuwa," a personal robot ma de by China's Fudan University, that runs on Intel technology and can follow vo ice commands. Will this cute robot give Asimo a run for his money? :) And here's a pic of Fuwa that Lawrence took. fuwa-
robot.jpg If you're wondering what else Lawrence has been doing in Shanghai, check out hi s Tales of the Nomad blog post.
OUR community evangelist Alex Villafania is in Singapore now, covering the Yaho o! Southeast Asia Advertising Summit. Yahoo! had interesting things to say about user behavior in Asia, particularly the shift from traditional media to rich media, and here's an excerpt from Alex's story:
Citing figures from a survey conducted last year by research firm S ynovate, a Yahoo! executive said a growing number of Asians are spending more t ime using the Internet than any other medium. Singapore and Taiwan are currentl y leading the pack, followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. Television re mains the main information source for Filipinos but the Internet has outranked newspapers, magazines and radio. Though traditional advertisers dictate that marketing budgets go to traditional media, such as TV, radio and print, the gap is closing for online advertising, particularly with the rise of new content such as online video. "Rich media will become premium content," said Yahoo! Southeast Asia managing d irector Ken Mandel in his opening remarks at the Yahoo! Southeast Asia Advertis ing Summit here.
Here's a video Alex took for INQUIRER.net VDO, as Mandel emphasized that "consumers want more than s earch."
HERE'S an interview INQUIRER.net multimedia reporter Erika Tapalla conducted in Cebu, where Accen ture expanded its operations to offer business process outsourcing services . Accenture Delivery Center Network for BPO Global managing director Pankaj Vaish talks about the expansion. Video taken by Strategic Edge vice president Ana Ma rques at the Accenture facility in Cebu City, Philippines.
HERE'S another video sent in by our technology reporter Lawrence Casiraya for < a href="http://www.inquirer.net/vdo" target="_blank">INQUIRER.net VDO from the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai, China. The new version o f the Classmate PC, which will go on sale in the next two months, was rolle d out in schools in China. Video shows Chinese students using the new Classmate PC in a demo during the Intel Developer Forum. And here's a photo Lawrence took. kids-new-classmate-pc.jpg
OUR technology reporter Lawrence Casiraya is in Shanghai, China covering the In tel Developer Forum. Apart from writing articles for Infotech, he's also been s ending videos for INQUIRER.net VDO. Who says you can't multitask? :) Check out these two clips he sent. This video clip shown at IDF gives you a taste of the functions of the Aigo mobile Internet device< /a>. This one is a preview of several new notebook designs, including two "Netbook" models from Lenovo and Founder. The Netbook is a low-cost, low-power laptop des igned primarily for Internet connectivity and targeted at emerging markets. Intel said these laptops wil l arrive in June.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net FOR the nth time, I got hit by a computer virus. This time, though, it was a na sty hit. I was happily surfing the Internet last weekend when my antivirus software star ted detecting it. I am not yet sure if it is a Trojan (a malicious program that leaves a backdoor open in your system for hackers to take control), or a compu ter worm (self-replicating malware). But it was clear. It was annoying and it t ook control of my laptop. As one saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. The most effective and y et desperate way to get rid of a computer virus is to format the computer. Wipe the hard drive clean, and start afresh. But that would mean losing all your im portant files, data, and programs -- not to mention wasted man hours in reinsta lling the operating system, drivers, etc. So that wasn't an option. I had to fi nd a way to take out the computer virus with surgical precision. A friend who is computer virus expert told me that getting rid of a computer vi rus is like peeling an onion. No, it does not make you cry. You have to pass th rough several layers to get to the juicy part. Hmmm, I hope that makes sense. A nyway, it took me and "Ownyot" (our in-house techie) to kill da bastard . We ra n full scans, using both my existing antivirus software and an online free serv ice from Trend Micro. The software was able to detect it. It was called CRYP_NSANTI. It was a Trojan. But when we chec ked for a solution, there was none at this time. I Googled it and found that ot hers have recently been hit, and were asking how to get rid of it. Ownyot eventually found a two-punch solution, thanks to the Internet. He used a free trial antivirus software version from Avira and launched a Filipino-made solution called Noob Killer, which fixed Windows registries in my system. You c an Google both and find a way to download the software. Noob is apparently a so lution developed by Pinoy techies, according to Ownyot (that's another story, t hough). The free antivirus detected 30 more infected files. They were all quara ntined. The Noob Killer was then launched, correcting registries affected by th e computer virus. I asked what Noob Killer did to the nasty computer malware, a nd our in-house techie said that it "patched" the damaged "autorun" configurati on of my system, and sought other computer viruses/worms that are spreading thr ough removable medias. Lessons: if you're patient enough, there are free and effective fixes online. B ut you have to have an expert with you when using such software. Also, numerous free trial versions of antivirus software are on the Internet. You can downloa d them and use them to scan and quarantine computer viruses. Finally, it is bes t to update your antivirus software. If it's a corporate account, then ask your network administrator if it comes with the latest fixes. More lessons: be careful in deleting files during computer virus scans. It is b est to quarantine them first. Also always make sure that you scan removable med ia you plug in to your computer. That means USB thumb drives, external hard dis k drives, and other media. Computer worms are now spreading through removable m edia, and it can be a nasty problem. Finally, I learned that today's computer viruses will not necessarily render yo ur system useless. But when not dealt with quickly, it would. In past discussio ns with computer virus experts, computer malwares are increasingly being launch ed to steal passwords, usernames, and other personal information on an infected system. So when you're infected, it is best to seek the help of an expert. You would never know that they are just sitting in a little corner in your office. Thanks, Ownyot!

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