Quantcast Tech Addicts: November 2008 Archives

November 2008 Archives

Taiwanese mobile phone company HTC is expanding its market portfolio in the Phi lippines with the launch of three new mobile phones. The new phones are the HTC Touch Viva, the Touch 3G and the Touch HD -- all of which are powered by the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. Instead of targeting business users, HTC is focusing on mid-market mobile phone users and so-called âpower users.â In light of the launch, Mark Dewey Sergio, HTC Philippines Country Manager, sai d the company is planning to expand operations in the Philippines. He said there would be more offerings from the company as they build their bran d in the Philippines. Sergio said they are anticipating the surge in demand for 3G service s. Thus HTC will continue introducing third-generation (3G) and 3.5G handsets. Smart Communications, Sun Cellular and Globe Telecom are currently offering 3G mobile services. The recent launch was the first time HTC introduced three phones simultaneously . It previously launched the Touch Diamond and Pro series and the S700 series. The HTC Touch Viva is currently its cheapest at P21,990. The Touch Viva is the second smallest unit that has a 2.0-megapixel camera at the back that runs on a n EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) cellular network. Nevertheless, it uses has wireless fidelity (WiFi) capabilities allowing it to connect to the Internet. The Touch 3G looks similar to the Touch Viva but is slightly smaller and is 3G- capable has WiFi connectivity. It also has a built-in 3.2-megapixel camera and costs P32,900. The Touch HD is the top-of-the-line unit. As the name implies, it can play vide os at higher resolutions than most phones in its class. It also has one of the biggest screens among all of HTC's phones, past and present. The Touch HD is also 3G-ready and also has an integrated global positioning sys tem antenna. It is priced at P55,900. The three new HTC phones are using the latest TouchFlo interface allowing easie r access for applications, which would normally require an analog keypad or a s tylus. All the phones will become available in December.

Intel, HP keeping it green in RP

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THE technology sector is at the forefront of this era's green movement. Natural ly, HP and Intel - two of the largest tech companies in the world right now -- are advocates. The two companies are channeling innovation into this movement and their mantra can be deduced to three words: "less is more" -- from manufacturing computer c hips that run on less power to redesigning product packaging that use less raw materials. In their annual Synergy press off-site , dubbed "Greenergy" to conform with the theme, HP and Intel talk about local green initiatives.
By Tetch Torres INQUIRER.net PHILIPPINE Long Distance Telephone (PLDT)âs WeRoam wireless Internet broadband service is supposed to make my work convenient and faster. But it has been more of a headache lately causing delays and inconvenience. I experience good service usually before 12 midnight. It get around 60 kbps (ki lobits per second) of wireless Internet speed but the wireless signal is weak. It is just teeny bit faster than dial up at a higher cost. A100-percent signal (based on the serviceâs indicator on the laptop) won't even reach the promised 1.8 Mbps (megabits per second) speed. PLDT and Smart are both boasting nationwide service coverage. But how come I am having signal problems in my area which is in Manila. I called the PLDT corpor ate customer care service (177) several times until they referred me to a WeRoa m expert who admitted that I couldnât use 3G (third-generation mobile service) in my area because of the âwalled areaâ in Supreme Court and the Department of Justice. They said even users in the Office of the Chief Justice are complainin g about their WeRoam connection. They said they would be installing a hub inside the Supreme Court to resolve th e 3G signal problems but that would take time. So I just had to rely on slower GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which is what is usually available if WeRo am canât deliver the promised 3G speeds. Fine, but it has been weeks now and my GPRS signal is nothing but annoying. Sometimes, I just couldnât use my WeRoam. I would call the hotline. But no one could give me a straight answer. They pro mised to call me back but they didnât. Their promised of a strong, wireless, faster signal, is really no more than "so many feet of the blue sky." I started complaining about the service in 2007. At that time, I had problems with my 3G signal. Every time I called, they gave me a ticket number which they said would be the indicator of whether my complaint was resolved or not. If the ticket number was closed, it meant the complaint was resolved. They would always promise to call back and update me about my complaint. They didn ât. I couldnât call them every time I had problems and bombard them with my complai nts. I later learned that they closed my ticket number after they assumed my co mplaint was resolved. But I was too busy at that time to do more follow-up call s. On the other hand, why do I have to call? I am a subscriber and isnât it sup posed to be their jobs to resolve my complaint within 24 to 48 hours? Last May 14, I called the hotline again and, as usual, I was given a new ticket number: 378628. I told them not to close it until I am satisfied with my WeRoa m service. For a few weeks, I was a bit satisfied with slight improvements beca use I could open my Gmail and do some work online. But my short-lived happiness was instantly gone when the service slowed down again. While I was able to use Gmail, I had no choice but use the âGmail html version,â which is a version us ed when Internet speeds are slow. I also noticed an intermittent connection. Th e service was on and off -- connected now but in a matter of minutes pfft, the signal drops. My office has provided me with WeRoam to enable us to work from anywhere. (Iâm a journalist covering the Justice beat). But the service proved to be inconveni ent. I usually type my report from where I am on my laptop and send it via e-ma il to the office. But since I often encounter bad signal in my area, I have to retype everything on my Blackberry and send it from this device. In my line of work, minutes or seconds of delay is really a big darn deal. Four days ago, I called the âSmart NOCâ who again supplied me ticket number and promised that an expert would call after 30 minutes to one hour. As usual, the y didnât. Again I called the PLDT Corporate Customer Service hotline the next d ay and was promised that a WeRoam expert would call me the following morning. A gain, they didnât. Every time I called the Corporate Customer Service, they would give me the foll owing answers:
  • An expert will get to me as soon as possible
  • Smart NOC is still following it up
  • They are waiting for a response from Smart NOC (since I made my com plaint last May)
  • Smart NOC is still doing some ârolling on checking.â I don't know w hat that is.
  • The agent will apologize and tell me that all they can do is to tak e note my complaint
  • They will tell me to refresh my wireless device (remove it from my laptop and remove the SIM --yes it works like a mobile phone-- and then put it back in and then turn on my laptop). No change.
  • They will tell me that probably my GlobeTrotter is corrupted and I have to remove it and reinstall it, which I did for several times. Nothing.
  • They tell me to keep my WeRoam connected so that Smart NOC will be able to detect it which I did.
  • They detected a signal of another user in another area.
And hereâs an experience that tops it all: the agent from the Customer Care hot line told me that Smart NOC was checking my case. They gave me the Smart NOC nu mber. Smart NOC told me that a team is doing the checking. To sum it up, there is the â177â hotline, the Smart NOC and another team, so which is which? While I was doing this article, I called the hotline. The agent told me there w as a new development. Sometime on Nov. 16, a certain âLeilaâ from the Smart NOC would reportedly give the update. Well, it was not clear if Leila would call m e and give me the update or she would include the update on my ticket record. A t this writing, I haven't heard from Leila. The agent from the hotline again promised that âLeilaâ would give an update but admitted there was no development in my earlier complaint. The agent also told me that he would note my complaint and promised someone would call me tomorrow morning. The cycle goes on and on and on. My office is currently paying for th is service and yet we donât get the service it promises.
CONSUMER product manager for Sennheiser Electronics Asia Edwin Leong shows INQU IRER.net multimedia reporter Lawrence Casiraya how the MX-W1 wireless earphones work. The earphones operate via Bluetooth and features Kleer technology that p roduces uncompressed audio. < param name="src" value="http://download.cdnetworks.us/cdnetworks/mediaplayer.sw f" />
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- The Commission on Information and Communications Te chnology (CICT) has opened its seventh e-learning center in Loyola Heights unde r its eSkwela project. The CICT through its Human Capital Development Group (CICT HCDG) launched in 20 05 eSkwela to provide disadvantaged youth with educational opportunities to hel p reduce the digital divide and enhance their capacity to be successful partici pants in a global and knowledge-based economy. The Loyola Heights center received an enrollment of 55 learners, mostly aged be low 20. The eSkwela project hopes to provide opportunity for Filipino out-of-school you ths and adults (OSYAs) to go back to school. According to a 2004 study by the Department of Education, there are 15 million Filipino out-of-school youths and adults. A major cause of this is poverty. Ins tead of going to school, children from poor families start working at an early age to help provide for their families. According to the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), public education in the country is free but the poor find it difficult to cove r transportation, food and allowances cost of going to school. Angelina Malabanan, mobile teacher at the new center, said the site will offer the opportunity of alternative education for more OSYAs in the area. Malabanan was fielded by DepEdâa Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) a s a mobile teacher. âUnder eSkwela, we call the enrollees as learners compared to students in forma l schooling; we teach them based on their own pace,â said Malabanan. âWe employ interactive topic modules to teach them the five learning strands geared to he lp them develop basic skills in preparation for employment, vocational courses or tertiary education.â The five learning strands include communications, critical thinking and problem solving, productivity and sustainability of natural resources, development of self and sense of community, and expanding oneâs world vision. The modules incl ude audio and text materials in English but for discussions, learners can use F ilipino or English. Since eSkwela is a play on Filipino terms âiskwelaâ meaning school and âkwelaâ meaning fun, the five strands uses BALS-based interactive modules which learner s can access via the Internet. Malabanan said this strategy helps students develop computer literacy while stu dying the modules. Malabanan added that they also encourage peer-teaching, in which fast learners help slow learners in some topics. âThis gives learning a community experience, â she said. Amy Mosura, eSkwela project staff, said they are continuously expanding as more communities learn about and adopt the program. âCommunities contact us to seek guidance on how to set up an eSkwela center. Si nce this is a âbayanihanâ effort, the local community helps provide a room or a center to house the learners and the computers to be used. Then, mobile teache rs are fielded and teach at the center.â The community in which the eSkwela center is located manages the center. Mosura said the local community, which includes LGUs and local DepEd or civic o rganizations, are oriented about their responsibilities to maintain the sustain ability of the project and become stewards of development for their learners. Mosura added that they are gaining enrollees as more learn about the benefits o f the eSkwela program: ICT-based learning and flexible schedules. She added the program also eliminates awkwardness for adults to learn in a form al school environment. She cited as example a 40-year-old who gave up schooling in Grade 6 due to bein g bullied for her physical disability. She enrolled at the eSkwela center in Sa n Jose del Monte, Bulacan, took the accreditation exam and ranked eighth among examiners in the area. âThe current education system is a one-size fits all program but for some reaso ns, it cannot work for some people -- like the young who start work at an early age and those above 30-years-old who feel awkward to go back to secondary scho ol. We cannot keep them marginalized because they are assets of the country tow ards development.â But there is a long road ahead for eSkwela. According to Amy Mosura of the eSkwela project, challenges for operations and f urther expansion include lack of mobile teachers and funding. Budget for eSkwel a comes from CICT and grants from foundations, such as the APEC Educational Fou ndation, mainly provide budget for eSkwelaâs operations. In the Loyola Heights center, lack of desktop computers is a big challenge sinc e all 55 learners share the five computers available, said Malabanan. To addres s this, learners have limited hours of computer use and were divided in morning and afternoon shifts. The new center is the second e-learning site in Diliman, the first is located a t Roces Avenue. Provincial centers are located at Bulacan, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro , Ormoc and Zamboanga.
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net YES, Microsoft is the biggest software company in the world but every now and t hen it dips its toes in hardware, most notably the Xbox and (less notably) its Zune mp3 player. But I'm guessing, it still surprises some people that Microsoft makes mouse, ke yboards and webcams. Microsoft demonstrated some of the latest gadgets to come out of its pockets, i ncluding a Bluetrack-equipped mouse that can glide on any surface (except glass ), a webcam that does more than show your face and one helluva keyboard intende d for hardcore gamers. Microsoft executives kept the lid on SRPs but forking some 5,000 pesos (or roug hly $100) for a webcam, for example -- in this era where even netbooks come rea dy with integrated cameras -- could tickle the fancy of only the uber-gadget fr eaks. Here's my video report: < embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="300" height="255" src="http:/ /download.cdnetworks.us/cdnetworks/mediaplayer.swf" flashvars="height=255&w idth=300&file=http://inquirer.cdnetworks.us/inquirer/technology/microsoft-g adgets-technology-11062008-lawrence.flv&logo=http://images.inquirer.net/inq uirervdo/images/inquirerwatermark.png&image=http://images.inquirer.net/inqu irervdo/frames/technology/microsoft-gadgets-technology-11062008-lawrence.jpg">< /embed>
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net PASAY CITY, Philippines -- The United States Embassy in the Philippines gave Fi lipinos a chance to experience the voting technology used during US elections. Also hoping to showcase how Americans conduct their election, the US Embassy co nducted a mock election that coincided with the US Election watch. Set up at the SM Mall of Asia, the mock elections attracted people f rom various sectors, including Filipino politicians, government officials and c elebrities. < param name="src" value="http://download.cdnetworks.us/cdnetworks/mediaplayer.sw f" /> TV host and Optical Media Board chairman Edu Manzano lamented that the Philippi nes should consider having an automated system for its own elections. Former government official Orly Mercado stressed that he is a believer of techn ology, as he pointed out the need to automate elections in the country and gave his vote for President-elect Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Rebecca Thomson, US Embassy Press Attaché, said the Election Watch 2008 and mock elections was also held in Cebu City. Manila City Mayor who chose John McCain because âhe is war veteran,â said that he preferred the touch-screen, automated election system showcased during the m ock elections.
By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net MAKATI, Philippines â The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is interested t o fund further development of a locally made mechanical anti-terrorist concept or âMACâ robot that was initially funded by the Philippine National Police, a l ead developer told INQUIRER.net. MAC lead developer John Judilla of the Mapua Institute of Technology said the A FP will provide funding of about P1.7 million to improve the MAC. Currently, the MAC team is working to produce a cheaper version of the anti-ter rorist robot with a slew of enhancements, he added. Judilla said the new MAC will use lighter Lithium polymer batteries and fiber g lass for body frame to make it lighter. The prototype uses lead-acid batteries and has a metal body frame. The tilt of the video camera on the gripper was also adjusted to allow the operator better control of the MAC. Judilla said they will also make the new version capable of operatin g underwater and be able to go up and down staircases. Like the prototype, the new version will operate using 12 volts input/output of power. At present, the team is looking up for a manufacturer willing to mass produce t he enhanced MAC. âIf we are able to mass produce the MAC, we plan to sell each unit at P100,000, â said Judilla. Mining countries Cambodia and Laos can benefit from low-cost alternative techno logies like this, he said. âRight now, the trend is affordable, advanced technology. So instead of focusin g on the materials to use, we have shown that through the MAC you can invent a smart technology from cheaper materials via engineering process innovation,â sa id Judilla. âKey to this process innovation is a good foundation in basic science and engin eering,â said Judilla. He cited as example of this process innovation a design modification they imple mented on the prototype MAC so they can work within the P300,000 development bu dget from the Philippine National Police. During the prototypeâs development, the team considered buying more powerful to rque motors than the one they bought so the robot will lift objects. Focusing on low-cost development, the team instead used a simple compound pulle y system to increase the torque effectively so the arm can lift 5kg-objects eve n with the use of a medium-sized high torque motor, said Judilla. Last month, the prototype MAC robot won first place at the First World Cup on C omputer Implemented Inventions in China, competing against 18 countries and ove r 40 inventions. After the competition, the team has received interest for intensive collaborati on with a foreign university, said Judilla. A publisher of elementary and science high school science books also requested for the MAC to be featured in its future paperback edition. During his presentation at the international competition, Judilla told judges t hat the MAC is a symbol of national pride, self reliance and technology capabil ity. With the MAC, they hope to reinvent robots in the Philippines, particularly tho se used in bomb disposal. âWe envision that U.S. and European institutions will eye MAC as an alternative robotics technology in terms of competitive pricing,â said Judilla. The MAC team has started showcasing the robot in different locations. Last week, it joined other school inventions at the Intellectual Property Offic e-Department of Trade and Industry in Makati. Starting November 4, it will be d isplayed at the SMX Mall of Asia in Pasig. Meanwhile, the MAC developer team has filed for a utility model upgrade to inve ntion patent at the Intellectual Property Office for the technology.

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