Archive for April, 2011

After what seemed like an eternity, my preordered Iron-Man Mark V bust and Iron-Man Mark VI figures are finally here. Picked them up just last night.

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Neverland Toys gave away a free Toy Story Cosbaby with each preordered Mark VI figure. The cosbabies come in their own sealed little boxes, so you had no way of knowing which character you get ‘til you open the package. I was hoping to get Buzz, or at least any one of the two versions of the little Aliens, but with my luck, I ended up with Emperor Zurg. Typical!

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I haven’t preordered any figure lately. One, the figures are getting pretty expensive. Two, I don’t really have much room to display the toys. Display cases are costly, too. And three, I am really disappointed in Hot Toys, especially with the matter of the Superman DX (Christopher Reeve version). They’ve announced the figure late August last year, saying it’d be available by winter. Winter came and gone, and no Supeman, not even a prototype. The worst part is HT kept announcing more and more licenses and figures but won’t answer questions regarding Supes. As much as I like their products, I hate arrogant business practices more.

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Articles: A versus An

Posted: April 23, 2011 in Blurbs
Tags: ,

Having gotten through six years of elementary school, four years in high school, and a little more than four years in college, I still struggle with English sometimes. Specially in its spoken form.

Here, though I’m far from being a language pundit, I am attempting to clarify usage when it comes to the articles “a” and “an”, especially before an acronym.

We learned early on that the rules for articles “a” and “an” is thus:
Use “a” before words that start with consonants, “an” for words starting with vowels.

Fairly straightforward, right? But what about acronyms? Many a time I’ve seen, as I read articles on tech site, an author would write something like “a LTE.” What’s wrong with writing that, as evidently it’s in keeping with the rule above, right?

This always bothered me. I always felt that saying “an UMTS” or “a ASCII” sound a bit off. I’ve much rather people write or say “a UMTS” or “an ASCII.”

It turns out, my gut feeling’s right, according to this.

It appears that the rule as stated above is not complete in itself. How a word sounds adds bearing to what article is to be used more than its spelling.

For example, you’ll say “an uncle,” “an umbrella,” and “an understanding.” But in words where “u” is pronounced “yu” such as “unit” or “utilitarian,” the article “a” is more apropos. In similar manner, the pronunciation of an acronym or abbreviation dictates what article is to be used. LTE is pronounced “el-tee-ee” (don’t know about phonetics, really, but that’s how you say it simplistically). So it’s more appealing to the ear to hear “an el-tee-ee” instead of “a el-tee-ee.”

Borrowing the linked article’s example, you say “a NATO official” because you pronounce NATO as “/’neItoU/” whereas NBC is pronounced “/Enbi:’si:/” so “an” is used, as in “an NBC Executive.”

The linked article has more to say, so check it out.

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The Bad Apple

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Blurbs
Tags: ,

Friday morning. Here I am, sitting in wait for my iPhone 3G to finish restoring.

I set my alarm an hour earlier today than usual so I can come to the office on time for once. As per my usual routine, I took the 3G to the bath for reading and later to play some music while I take a shower.

At 8, the song playing was interrupted by my usual alarm. Sliding the bar to cancel the alarm, I put the phone back to my makeshift cradle as soon as the song resumed playing.

Then it stopped.

Glancing to the phone’s direction, what I saw sank my heart. I never knew seeing the likeness of a fruit can be so depressing. Glaring at me in silver on a blank background, the bitten image of the Apple logo displayed in perpetuity.

There goes my morning head start!

At 8:47, I’m still waiting for the sync to complete. Aaargh!

Globe, Lies, and Data Caps

Posted: April 7, 2011 in Technoloy

Globe must take everyone for a fool.

In a not-so-surprising but nevertheless a certified douchebag move, the greedy telecom company has announced that it’s adopting an Internet “fair use” policy it pulled out of its ass.

In their deluded version of fair use policy, customers’ downloads will now be capped at 1 gigabyte of data per day. Last I checked, the meaning of an unlimited data plan is, you know, WITHOUT LIMITS?

Their sorry excuses range from pulling out questionable statistics to actually blaming their customers.

What ticks me off even more on this latest tactic they’re trying to pull off is their shameless pretention and feigned concern for the welfare of the internet-using public! Ang kakapal ng mukha! Their head of fixed broadband business is even quoted in saying, “…we are doing all we can to teach our broadband users how to properly use the internet.” What gall!

I hope that NTC will investigate this turn of events and put a stop to this. It can’t be soon enough!

Internet, for all its malware-lurking spam-spewing shady sites, is still a good thing. Information flows freely, or at least it’s supposed to. Family and friends connect easily. Entertainment is at everyone’s fingertips. Everyone, that is, who is able to pay for the service.

Here in the Philippines, foreigners are shocked to find that, much like having the highest electricity rates in all of Asia, ISPs are charging too much for too little.

Philippine Internet Service Providers are a greedy bunch, that’s no secret. They’d squeeze out every last penny from customers if they have their way, and have them they do. What do we get in return? Screwed over and effed up for all that we pay them! Good service and customer support be damned.

Well, at least internet access is unlimited, if unreliably slow, right?

Maybe not for long. A couple more unscrupulous schemes are being introduced by these providers. Data capping and speed throttling.

The concept of data capping goes like this. The ISP promises you certain connection speed, but you are limited to how much bandwidth you consume within a month. The limit is usually set low, so it’s not hard to go over it. If you do go beyond your cap, the ISP will gladly extend you additional GBs. For a fee of course. Ka-ching! More money for them.

Another, albeit slightly less aggravating but nonetheless sneaky scheme is throttling. The ISP will provide you the service at a certain speed, say 1 Mbps. But, if your bandwidth exceeds a certain amount within the month, your connection speed is halved. If you exceed yet another milestone, the speed gets cut in half once more. Exceed another milestone and your speed gets cut by half yet again. The less you pay (that’s not to say what you pay is cheap), the lower these limits are. Well at least this one doesn’t limit how much you can download. You’re free to download, if you can stand the grindingly slow speed towards the end.

I hope customers don’t patronize these sort of promotions. They’ll set a dangerous precedent. I don’t want to one day find that I can’t stream songs I saved to the cloud or watch online videos because I’ve reached some sort of monthly bandwidth quota!

Cost of Living

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Blurbs
Tags: ,

If your basic salary is around, say, Php 45,000 (roughly $1k), would it suffice? How many people would it support? A family of three? How about four? Or how about just two? Considering how exorbitant taxes in the Philippines are, expect to take home only around Php 33,000 of that money, give or take. Lucky you if your company is generous on allowances.

Between paying rent and providing for food, a family with kids would barely make it even at that seemingly huge sum. Why? If there’s an infant or toddler involved, milk racks up a sizeable amount. You’d be surprised how much those little tikes can consume. Diapers are another matter, and those aren’t inexpensive. If you have kids that go to school, allowances and school fees are another thing to account for. Throw in utility bills, and you’ll soon find you’ll need to do better than what you’re earning now.

That gets me wondering. How do people earning as low as Php 8,000 a month get by, even with (often multiple) kids at school? There are even people who scrape by with way less. Does it mean they’re perpetually in debt to make up for their lacking finances? If not, how do you appropriate such a meager income to last you and your family an entire month?

It’s depressing to know and even sadder if you think about it. I would like to see a future where the average family is able to meet its needs financially with a little more to spare. Hopefully, that future will come sooner. God knows our people need it.