Archives for category: Technology Review

A couple of years ago, I began reading Kindle books thinking that it would be a reading back up plan only when the books were not available in physical form and thinking that I would always prefer printed books over books in electronic format.

I believe that having a physical book in one’s hands and having the joy of flipping and smelling (yes) the pages is still one of the more enjoyable experiences in life. However, it seems that my kindle library has increased in size through the years and I’m starting to get the hang of reading books from the comfort of my iPhone screen.

The advantage of a kindle book is that it may be read unobtrusively even when the lights are off or in the dark. It is also convenient to read it while lying on one’s back without worrying about the light source or compromising our eyesight.

The convenience of purchasing with one click from amazon.com after consulting reviews is just too tempting to resist at times. For an avid reader like myself, the plethora of books available at one’s fingertips just a tap away presents giddy possibilities of more knowledge to read and enjoy.

Running out of physical bookshelves or spaces to store my hard copy books makes reading and purchasing soft copies appealing as well. I’m starting to enjoy the benefits of kindle more and more and I would say that even if the feeling of leafing through actual printed pages is unparalleled, and kindle books cannot match up to that, it makes up for it in other aspects such as accessibility, convenience, and ease.

(c) Niconica 2013

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It’s unbelievable how many various codecs exist and are required to play different forms of videos.

For someone like me who grasps at straws with these technical things, it’s frustrating to not be able to just click play and be able to watch video files even when it’s already on a DVD disc.

Good thing a friend told me about VLC Media Player which is a free open source media player which works with most platforms without requiring codec downloads.

It just takes minutes to download and set up even with a basic computer and it’s up and running. As the post title indicates… VLC Media Player came through awesomely for me and I’m able to watch Gilmore Girls for the nth time. Yay!

(c) Niconica 2012

Ages ago, I wrote a post stating that I preferred actual books compared to e-books… And this fact still remains to be true. However, considering the fact that book availability is limited here in Manila and that the selection of books in Amazon is pretty comprehensive, purchasing the Kindle edition seems like a good option.

Within seconds, we are able to receive the Kindle edition in our chosen Kindle reader device, whether it be an iPhone, an iPad, a PC or an android device, and start getting into it without further ado.

Having said that, nothing beats the feel of actual pages and the smell of the crisp paper, but compared to waiting a sizable amount of time or spending way more to have the actual books shipped halfway around the world to Manila, I’m pretty happy that Amazon came up with the Kindle edition of the books.

I would actually have purchased more Kindle e-books if only more books were available in Kindle edition.  I have to note to my disappointment that quite of the few books which I have wanted to purchase were not available in Kindle edition.

They are now in my Amazon Wish List but I have not been too inclined to order them yet since, I have found to my surprise, that the speed and the convenience weighs more than my love of handling the printed pages of an actual book.

I almost wish there was a convenient button to click to request for the Kindle edition of the books which I’ve been hoping to purchase.  It’s strange though that with quite a few of the books, the Kindle edition is more pricey than the discounted paperback price, which doesn’t make sense.

Given the fact that there is no cost for the materials for printing and paper, shouldn’t the electronic Kindle edition always be cheaper than the printed paperbacks?

Nonetheless, it seems that my collection of Kindle books will be increasing to a quantity which hopefully will not rival my actual printed books which are practically spilling out of my bookshelves.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

** this is not a paid review

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WhatsApp-ing–a combination of IM-ing and SMS-ing–is a pretty good application.

It makes life that much more convenient.

For the level of connectedness it provides citizens of the global village who are glued to their phones, it is worth mentioning.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

Samsung Champ is a champ in some ways but not in others. The design is lovely and it deceivingly looks like an Android or Smartphone but it’s not.  The battery life is wonderful and it can take quite a few calls and last a couple of days depending on usage before spouting out the dreaded low-battery notice.

However its inbox/outbox capacity is rather limited, and this is a big of a surprise to me since I had thought that a newer model like this would not have such limitations.  It ironically has a bigger capacity for contacts than SMS messages.  It boggles the mind why they would not be more generous with the inbox/outbox SMS message capacity since it’s rather important to many users.

In terms of going on the internet and Facebook, Samsung Champ can still be rather clumsy so I’m not too pleased on this front.  Poking on the touch screen with the stylus can also be rather awkward and inconvenient at times.

So, I would have to say that the best thing about Samsung Champ is the battery life since it can take a couple of hours of phone calls without flinching or dying on us, as many other phones are wont to do.

So, it’s a mixed review–yay for the awesome battery life and nay for the SMS inbox/outbox capacity.  For users like me who minds having to regularly erase important SMS messages just to allow for the new ones coming in, it is certainly more than a little inconvenient.  The clumsiness with accessing Facebook or surfing the internet is not very impressive either.

However, for people who are looking for just a down-to-earth basic phone to call and text without needing all the other fancy applications or a huge inbox/outbox, this will do.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

So, the Globe Wimax option didn’t pan out and while I did consider getting SmartBro, I ended up going for the Sun Wireless Broadband option since it seemed that Smart Bro’s signal is erratic to nonexistent in our area – or so I’ve heard from some friends who live in the neighborhood.

Despite the fact that it was strange that Sun would have better signal than SmartBro, I did not give this any further thought as Sun Broadband didn’t only offer signal availability but also a fast and convenient sign-up policy, and a monthly unlimited internet access with only a 3 month lock in period (which is of course not specified in their brochure) for P799/month  as opposed to the two-year long lock in period for Smart and/or Globe.

The plan named “Easy Broadband 799” held true since there were no credit checks, no further hassles.  The optional USB modem costs P888.

Sun Broadband Wireless seemed like the way to go since both Globe Tattoo and SmartBro postpaid wireless internet plans included the hassle of waiting for the standard credit checks to pull through which could be easily a week to two weeks on top of the 24-month contract one is locked in to when one avails of a postpaid plan.

After a few weeks in Internet Siberia, acquiring Sun’s Wireless Broadband seemed like a great idea since it appeared to be the best option among the wireless USB internet service providers, however, I was not prepared for how slow, frustrating, unstable, and inconsistent the connection would be.

So, it seems that while Sun Wireless Broadband was a very marginally satisfactory stopover (if at all) and it seems that the search continues for the most suitable internet connection which might most likely be the traditional wired DSL connection…

So, then again, the cards are back on the table, in terms of the DSL internet connection – will it be PLDT, Globe, Smart, SUN, or Bayantel? Stay tuned…

(c) Niconica 2010

So I’ve come across a book in the shelves of a local bookstore which I’ve purchased in Kindle format from Amazon and was reading on my iPod, and I felt something tug at my heart.  The brand new book was P200 more expensive than the Kindle format but I felt that had I known that the book would be available on the shelves locally, I would have much preferred an actual book, rather an e-book.

This is not to say that the books in Kindle format are not revolutionary or worthwhile.  I’m sure that it would be a means to save a lot of trees from becoming book paper and would definitely be one step forward in fighting global warming.

It is just simply, after the novelty of having more books at our fingertips in electronic format, I seem to prefer to go back to the basics… to have my fingers come in contact with the printed page and be able to smell the pages in the book… there’s nothing quite like it.

There’s also something cozy about being able to use a bookmark to mark where we have paused while reading.  This is harder to do with electronic books.

There is something almost intimate about being able to hold a printed book in one’s hands and coming in contact with the pages – flipping through them and enjoying the connection with the words on the page.

In having said all this, I leave room for the possibility that perhaps reading the Kindle format books on the actual Kindle device might actually change my mind.

(c) Niconica 2010

Since it was sayonara to PLDT DSL, the search began for another internet service provider.  Since we were long time mobile subscribers of Globe telecommunications, it became our first choice for an internet service provider.  Given that WIMAX (which stands for “Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) seems to be a step up from WI-FI which provides wireless internet within a limited area.

Again, it has to be said that I am not a “techie” and not to familiar with technological speak… so when I rang up Globe to inquire regarding the new WIMAX internet service, their sales representative informed me that it was a wireless internet service and I was psyched and immediately signed up for it.

Being a long time post-paid Globe subscriber, I thought that it would be relatively straightforward to avail of the WIMAX access.  It took more than the 10 days which they indicated as the maximum period which they specified for them to do a background check – at the end of which they did not call me up, I had to call them to follow-up only to find out that now they had to check whether WIMAX was available in our area, so this ate up a few more days – totaling two weeks.

Upon finding out that the service was available in our area, we had to go to the Globe center to apply for it.  We had to wait a few more days for the designated technicians to install this so-called WIMAX unit – only to find out that Globe Wimax was not necessarily wireless after all despite the claims of the customer service representatives that Wimax immediately meant wireless… so the unit they brought over was for a wired Globe Wimax account which would be inconvenient.

If the connection speed was satisfactory though – this wired connection would have been easily solved with a router, however, the speed was even slower than a dial-up connection, so that option was out.

However, at this point, I was still rather desperate for an internet connection that I wanted to find a solution somehow.  I rang up Globe Customer Service again to let them know that I was thinking of changing my subscription to a lower bandwidth since the more pricey 1MBPS subscription speed was not being met.  I also brought up that Wimax was not wireless and that these technicians said that they were not in charge of installing the wireless WIMAX.

At this point, the Globe customer service representative informed me that changing my subscription at this point (the installation phase) was not going to be straightforward since they would have to charge a fee since there was a lock-in period.  They also insisted that WIMAX was definitely wireless – evidently, there was clearly some sort of communication barrier between their sales department (who would clearly say almost anything to rope in new clients) and their technical department (who clearly said that WIMAX could either be wireless or wired and it had to be specified at the get go which one was preferred).

With the selling point of the Globe WIMAX being that it was wireless and 4G (whatever this meant – as far as I’m concerned it could be all the G’s it wanted as long as the speed was up to par – which it wasn’t), I had stressed several times that it would be wireless – but the people punching in the order probably assumed that WIMAX (with the name being similar to Wi-Fi) was automatically wireless, did not bother to punch it in causing thing whole merry-go-round misunderstandings, inefficiency, and wasted time and effort.

So in the end, I was presented with the option of canceling the account and installation – and being able to refund the P500 installation fee which I had paid upon placing the order.  It has to be said that the refund of the P500 was not quite straightforward as well – and wasted even more time due to further inefficiencies.  However, I was just so relieved that I was not stuck with such a service and was keen to move on to find a better solution.

To be fair, it has to be pointed out that upon further research, that during the early days of Globe WIMAX the connection speed was quite satisfactory, but perhaps as the number of subscribers increased, it could not keep up.

At the end of it all the consensus is that the traditional DSL or Cable internet would be faster and more reliable than wireless connections – though this was not my experience with PLDT DSL which had erratic connection towards the end.   We can only hope that the technology would develop to match our increasing needs for flexibility and wireless access.

It can only be hoped that Globe would endeavor to educate and improve their staff efficiencies in order to respect the time and efforts of their customers.  While it is common knowledge that businesses exist to earn money, it can only be hoped that money is not the sole reason for their presence, and that they would consider one of their aims to add meaning to the lives of their clients through providing satisfactory service – and if this lofty goal is not reasonable, that at least they would not display confused misrepresentation and bungling inefficiency which waste people’s time and effort.

(c) Niconica 2010

No thanks to the very unhelpful (the kindest words which I can think of to write) PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company) repairperson who originally came over to check the dead phone line which turned out to be caused by zapped wires, and instead of offering any sort of solution, he had the brainchild of cutting our perfectly working DSL wires, compounding the problem instead.

Upon having the wires reconnected by someone else (since the PLDT repairperson verbally and emphatically refused to reconnect the wires he disconnected, claiming that the task was too simple or mundane for him), the phone conduit promptly got fried a few days later (upon another unsolicited mysterious visit of the same PLDT repairperson as recorded in their logs – which I found out after the fact).  These series of frustrating events then heralded the nearly three weeks of internet deprivation – and the frantic search for another internet service provider.

After what might have been questionable intentions of the PLDT repairperson, we did not feel comfortable in reinstating the PLDT DSL connection – which had been inconsistent and slow as of late and landline service. We did ring up their customer service to let them know about the ill behavior of their repairperson but it was a useless gesture – they did not give a fig.  We then decided to finally terminate our PLDT subscription (which had been ongoing for over a decade) and move on.

*More blog entries coming up about the frantic search for an internet service provider… as well as blog entries of cake decorations…  The good news is… I’m back online!

*Much to my surprise, upon googling, there is actually an existing image with the text “PLDT Sucks” courtesy of http://istorya.net

(c) Niconica 2010

As an avid book lover, books are an essential part of my daily diet and I consume as many as I can.  I got quite excited when I heard about Kindle as it meant an easier access to a wider range of books.  The idea that it would be relatively simple and straightforward to buy a book with one click and read it within a matter of seconds was very appealing.

Initially, Kindle was not available outside the US.  However, sooner than later, Kindle announced their availability internationally as well as the option of being able to download the Kindle App for free and reading it on other platforms – Mac, PC, Blackberry, iPod, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Despite my eagerness to have more convenient access to a myriad of books, I was a bit hesitant as to how smooth the process would be and whether it the cost would weight out. Compared to the used books being sold by private sellers on Amazon, Kindle books would usually be a bit more dear.  However, after considering in the cost of shipping to Manila of the used books, and compared to the retail price, Kindle book prices work out better.

Not being too proficient with technology, it was a pleasant surprise that it was a relatively straightforward process which involved registered the downloaded Kindle App from my iPod with my Amazon details and it was good to go.  The 1-click shopping made it even more convenient – without having to repeatedly key in details with every Kindle book purchase.

It was a strange sensation – to be reading and “flipping” pages on the iPod… definitely a jump from the traditional experience of flipping printed pages and having the feel of paper under one’s fingertips. It has to be interjected at this point that there are certain kinds of books which lend themselves better to print than others – such as cookbooks. However, I digress.

Considering that the iPod screen is noticeably smaller than most paperbacks, I appreciated the option to be able to adjust the font size as well as the lighting – since it meant that it would be more handy to read in the dark.  I can definitely imagine that reading on a device with a bigger screen such as the iPad or the actual Kindle devises would be much more comfortable.  The compactness of the iPod adds to the ease of mobility, definitely a far cry from lugging around sizable tomes (which I still do), with only the battery life setting a limitation.

While it is not a question that printed and electronic books have more than enough room to coexist and compliment each other, the immediate availability of titles which might not be found locally in print is certainly refreshing.  With this being said, I am not completely happy about the selection of Kindle books since there appears to be a considerable amount of books in the Amazon site, which are not available in local bookstores, which are not available in Kindle format as well.  In a sense, it’s like being in what I thought would be an eat-all-you-can buffet and finding that the range of the food is limited.

Still, as a perpetual bookworm, I’d like to welcome the Kindle book parade into town and giving us more options.  Here’s to hoping that a wider selection of books on Amazon would be available in Kindle format.

(c) Niconica 2010