Archive for March, 2011

Today, my newsfeed was bombarded by what I thought at first were malware-driven advertisements. It turns out the flood of questions served a la ‘survey’ actually come from a new USELESS feature Facebook has rolled out. Folks, having found a new novelty in asking questions just for the sake of having something to post, have again taken the bait.

As always, FB in its infinite wisdom (or lack thereof) will not allow you to opt-out or turn the noise down. For Chrome users, there’s an extension available to silence the incessant barrage. For the rest, we’re on our own.

DIASPORA, where art thou?

Update

A few more add-ons that can be used:

F.B. (Fluff Busting) Purity

Better Facebook

Grease Monkey for Firefox with this script.

Facebook Safety Tip:

If you see a message posted on Facebook which claims that by following a link and installing a Facebook application, you can see who has been viewing your Profile or find out who has been stalking you, DO NOT CLICK ON IT BECAUSE IT’S A SCAM.

These rogue applications are designed to fool users into visiting spam survey websites or giving out personal information including your password.

If you see similar posts from friends/family, send them a message and advise them to delete the post and change their password immediately as a precaution.

Be safe! A little common sense goes a long way.

I never thought to ask You.
I always thought You knew.
It was never my intention to question You.

Jars of Clay 
Today’s lines come from the song Unforgetful You by the Christian rock band Jars of Clay.

In this upbeat song, the singer is speaking with God. The singer acknowledges his shortcomings and thanks Him for still providing and looking out for him, despite said shortcomings.

Get the complete lyrics here.

I discovered their music when I was searching for Christmas carols last year.

Straight No Chaser is an a cappella group from Bloomington, Indiana. Their Twelve Days of Christmas is a YouTube hit, currently with almost 13 million views.

In 2010, they released their album “With a Twist.” Their mash-up of I’m Yours and Somewhere Over the Rainbow is one of the group’s finest.

Good music is always nice to find.

Facebook’s done it again – putting a new privacy setting and enabling it by default.

It’s bad enough that you can’t stop friends from tagging you on photos. Now Facebook is actually being proactive in encouraging friends to tag you if someone in their photo looks like you.

image

From what I’ve seen on the net, it looks like this feature was introduced October last year, but they’re now just rolling it out to everyone. Never mind the mostly negative reaction to it, the geniuses at Facebook will stop at nothing to invade your person yet again.

It’s a full time job babysitting Facebook, really!

And those who came at first to scoff
remained behind to pray.

Music in my opinion, though we take it for granted, has a big influence in our lives. We listen to the words, feel the rhythm and melody, and ride the wave of emotions the song carries with it. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we find meaning.

For a few days now, I have been writing lines that I like from songs I know as my status message in Yahoo! Messenger. I’m gonna start posting the same to this blog.

Today’s lyric excerpt is from Ammonia Avenue, one of the better songs from the Alan Parsons Project – the band that gave us Eye in the Sky and Old and Wise. Call it a religious song, but its message rings true when you come to think about it.

Some of its memorable lines include:

And who are we to criticize
or scorn the things that they do?

If we call for the proof, and we question the answer
only the doubt will grow.

Interested with the song? Find the complete lyrics here.

How ZUNE is now?

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Blurbs, Technoloy
Tags: , ,

Having inherited a third generation iPhone from my sister, I grudgingly installed iTunes. I didn’t want to go through the mess of jail-breaking the old tool, so I resigned myself to constantly baby-sitting iTunes and its helper processes (Bonjour anyone?).

Windows-media-player-icon Up until a few days ago, my media player of choice was the Windows Media Player. It’s not the best player, but it does its job fairly well for my purpose. Because I’m using Windows 7, I’m stuck with WMP 12, and as sleek as its design is, I miss the functionalities they removed from previous versions. Still, I’d rather have WMP than iTunes *shivers*.

I have been hearing about the Zune devices and how the interface is leagues better than that of Apple’s devices. Unfortunately, like the iDevices, they are prohibitively expensive. Plus, Microsoft appears to offer the devices/service to a select few countries only. Sadly, it seems MS doesn’t think PH is a viable market.

Curious as to what the alternative to the market leader is, I searched the net for the Zune Software. Like iTunes, you can install the software even if you don’t have the device. It then acts as a media management center, akin to Windows Media Center but then is so much more.

Immediately after installing the Zune software, I was beholden.zune

The interface is simplistic at first glance, but as you begin to explore it, the more apparent the advantage it has over other similar software becomes.

It goes beyond the usual interface you’d expect from media management software. Pictures paint a thousand words, so I’ll let the following screenshots do the talking. (Click an image for a bigger version)

Zune1

Zune2

Zune3

Zune4

Zune5

Zune6

Zune7

What’s more, when playing songs from artists that are popular enough, the background changes to display images and quotations of articles regarding the artist or band. Clever, and very visually appealing!

CSRun

Inxs

Inxs2

There are a few caveats to using the Zune Software. For one, if you want to log in to Zune, you’ll need a Live account that is set to a supported country. My Windows Live (I use for Games for WL) was set for PH, so I created a new Zune/Live account for a supported country. Also, your PC’s Location should be set to whatever country your Zune/Live account is set with. I just set both to US. If your PC’s Location is set to an unsupported country, some features will be missing, such as the Marketplace and Social. You won’t be able to see the Login link as well.

Another quirk is that older laptops with low graphics capabilities may not be able to support it. My Acer 5520 can launch the Zune SW all right, but after a while, it gets sluggish and even the pointer slows down to a crawl. I blame NVidia’s drivers for that, as I’ve tried with Windows 7 stock drivers, and it works just fine.

The current buzz is that it looks like Microsoft is going to kill off the Zune devices. The news is all over tech sites today, but no official word from MS regarding the device’s future as yet. The Zune Software, on the other hand, being able to support WP7 as well, looks like it’ll be here for the long haul. The following was posted on the official FB page for Zune:

Hey ZuneNation – here’s what WE have to say: We’re absolutely committed to providing the best movies, music, and TV show experiences through Zune on Xbox, the PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune devices. We’ll share more information about the evolution of the Zune entertainment service and Zune hardware as future plans develop.
Thanks for being a part of this awesome community!

Too bad MS didn’t take advantage of the Zune platform. It could’ve easily beat iPod/iTunes had it been promoted well and had they expanded its market reach.

News Today

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Blurbs, Politics, Technoloy
Tags: , , , , ,

Local:

BIR Backs-Off

Following criticisms for the new rules BIR is imposing starting Tax year 2010, the tax collection agency is now making it optional for individuals earning at least 500K annually the filing of an Annual Information Return (AIR).

The AIR is similar to the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), a requirement for government employees. The contention of BIR is that the filing of this new form (1705) will help the agency to improve tax collections and run after tax evaders.

At least one member of the House of Representatives is challenging the legality of the new rules. The timing of the announcement notwithstanding (deadline for filing ITR for 2010 is on April 15), this latest development probably played a major role on why the BIR back-pedaled after its announcement just yesterday.

Technology:

IE9 Release Date Confirmed

A year after its initial Platform Preview, the final version of Internet Explorer 9 is set to be released this March 14th.

ie9

IE’s usage has been on the decline these past years, bleeding market share to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Developers and web pundits have long criticized Microsoft for its non-standards-compliant browser. So it came as a pleasant surprise that with IE9, Microsoft was able to turn its browser around and developed a competitive browser, performance-, feature-, and standards-compliance-wise.

On a related news, Microsoft is urging everyone including enterprise users to abandon Internet Explorer 6. MS has created the Internet Explorer 6 Countdown page that monitors the worldwide usage of this much maligned but still heavily-used browser. The XP-era browser should be retired for its security issues alone.

As of today, IE6 still has 12% global share, with 2.2% of Philippine web users still using it. On the other hand, 10.3% of Japan’s web surfers still use it, which comes as no surprise to me, having worked for a Japanese company for four years.

From the site:

Friends don’t let friends use Internet Explorer 6. And neither should acquaintances. Educate others about moving off of Internet Explorer 6.

Know anyone still using IE6? Do your share, and help them upgrade to IE8 (IE9 won’t work on XP) or migrate to other browsers.

All modern operating systems come with their own file manager. Linux has Gnome, KDE and a few others, while users of Windows have been using Windows Explorer since Windows 95. Windows Explorer, not to be confused with Internet Explorer, replaced the clunky Program Manager from the Windows 3.x era.

Windows ExplorerSo why do we need a file manager, you ask? A file manager, or file browser, provides a convenient user interface for working with the operating system’s underlying file system. Put simply, it provides users access to files, allowing them to easily create, open, edit, view, print, play, move, copy, delete, rename, search, and change their properties. These operations can be done through a command-line interface, too, but that would entail memorizing the proper commands and switches.

Windows-iconWhen Windows Vista was introduced, Microsoft changed a lot of stuff. While the underlying functionalities are the same, the visual aspect of Windows Explorer has undergone a drastic change. This sparked up a lot of debate as to whether the change is made just for change’s sake. Because a lot of users have been used to how Windows XP worked, this created problems. But mostly though, the problems arose because people found the changes intimidating, or at the very least, annoying.

On Windows 7’s release a few more changes saw their way on Windows Explorer. The UI leveraged the clean and sleek design started with Vista. Some elements were moved around, causing yet another backlash from the user base.

Adding to this, a design bug also apparently made its way to Windows Explorer.

BugWhen you navigate through the folders on the left pane of Windows Explorer in Windows 7, the issue presents itself. When you expand your folder list on the left pane, and you double-click on a folder that happens to contain a subfolder to open it, the pane refreshes and then moves your selected folder to the bottom of the folder tree. It’s very distracting and, after awhile, downright annoying. I opened the Folder and Search Options trying to find a way to correct this behavior, but there doesn’t seem to be a setting that will correct the erratic behavior.

Out of exasperation, I turned to Google for answers. I found links to Microsoft’s own TechNet forums. This issue appears to have been reported as early as the public beta of Windows 7. It appears, though, that this behavior is by design. I’ll never know what the folks in charge of this feature were thinking, but whatever their basis for it is, in the words of Patrick Starfish, “Well, it may be stupid, but it’s also dumb!”

See?

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) has already been released, and as I already downloaded the update, I can confirm that this issue hasn’t been resolved yet.

What can we do then?

ClassicShell48A workaround I found useful involves a third party program call Classic Shell. It’s freeware, and the latest release version is 3.0.0, updated only this March 3rd. It’s not a replacement for Windows Explorer, but rather, think of it as an extension.

When the package is installed, you’ll not only be able to mitigate this counter-productive behavior, but you’ll also get additional nifty features such as reverting to XP-style Windows Explorer, or adding the Up One Level button on the Navigation Bar, to name just a few. It will also revert your Start Menu to the XP theme, but if you are happy with Windows 7’s style like I am, you can fire up the accompanying Start Menu Settings to return things to the way they were.