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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Top 5 Webapps for the iPhone/iPod Touch

I've had my iPod Touch for several months now, and I'm happy to say that I really, really love it. I use it not only to watch videos, podcasts and listening to music, but I use it primarily to surf the internet. Somehow, Apple got the formula right for an internet device - and the Safari browser on the iPhone/iPod Touch is the best mobile browser I've ever used (pity it doesn't have Flash!) So without further ado, let me tell you about my top 5 webapps for the iPhone/iPod Touch. This is my personal opinion only, so disagreement is very welcome!

1. Google Reader - This is my top webapp. Since the iPhone doesn't have a built-in RSS reader, and I didn't want to jailbreak mine just to install one, I use Google's web-based RSS reader for my daily news fix. They've optimized the display just for the iPhone so it's very easy to use.

2. Digg - My day isn't complete without reading up on one of the best news sites on the internet. Although the news isn't exactly the most relevant, they've divided the news articles by Topics which make it easier to read through. Props to Kevin and team!

3. Facebook - What can I say? I'm extremely attached to my Facebook, and it's iPhone webapp just shows me the right amount of information with a great, easy to navigate interface. I only wish though that it also supports Facebook applications. How about it Superpoke?

4. Flickr - I don't have a lot of pictures in Flickr, but if I did, I'd fully recommend using the iPhone interface. It shows interesting photos on the top screen, with a search bar at the bottom for searching through public photos. Once you're logged in, it shows your photos in a 3x2 grid, and clicking on the photo zooms in. The page then shows the image with navigation arrows for the next and previous photo. Very simple and slick!

5. Twitter - Admittedly, I'm not a Twitter addict yet. However, with a very simple interface that gets right to the point, I give 5 stars to the Twitter iPhone webapp. The homepage just shows the ever familiar What are you doing? field, and a list of posts by people you follow. What's else do you need?

And that's it folks. What's your favorite webapp? I'd like to hear your comments!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Mac

I made the switch to a Mac about 2 years ago, and I'm actually trying to remember why I did it. I think my primary reason was that it took less space on my desk. I don't have a big bedroom, so everything I buy should fit snugly. Couldn't do that if I had a typical PC CPU.

Now if you're thinking of switching to the Mac, I have noted down a few reasons why you really should.

1. It looks great. Ok, you're probably saying - what the hell do I care about how it looks like? It's supposed to look ugly - it's a computer! Well, it shouldn't! Computers should look good - they're normally found at some easily-accessible location in your house, so it better look nice! The iMac is really beautiful - with it, you can really show off a computer to your guests. It doesn't take up too much space, and the cord clutter is minimal.

2. It runs Windows. Yes, I made this my #2 since this running Windows is something very important to a lot of people. Maybe you still have some antiquated software that you absolutely need to use. Or maybe you don't want to get limited by the few games you can play on the Mac. Then no need to worry - you can run Windows on the Mac perfectly, either virtualized or natively through Apple's Bootcamp. I think this was also one of the main reasons why I switched.

3. Everything just works. Plug in your digital camera, and the pictures get instantly imported into Apple's built-in photo management software, iPhoto. No installation discs needed; No patches to be downloaded. It's really that simple. Oh, that also goes with your printer and your video camera. Absolutely painless. How about connecting your phone via Bluetooth? Same thing. It just works. Syncing your phone with Entourage/iCal? No problem at all. I tell you, you'll almost always never have to scour the internet for another driver again.

4. No viruses. Well, not really. There are some viruses out that affect the Mac, but not enough for you to urgently install anti-virus software. Gives me a lot of peace of mind though!

5. Photobooth. Nope, I don't mean the photo management software, but the software that takes your picture using the built-in iSight camera and gives you the power to distort your face or change the background. This software along gave me almost an hour of fun when I first set up the Mac. And my kid absolutely loves it! The picture below is one of her moments.

6. It runs Microsoft Office. Yes, really, it does. It has Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Entourage (Outlook), all created by Microsoft. I am still looking for a Visio replacement though.

7. You never need to reboot. I don't even remember the last time I had to reboot. The reason for this is that Mac OS X uses the Unix platform, where every application really runs on its own independently of everything else. So, if a program is causing a problem, just Quit it (or Force Quit it), and it won't affect the rest of your system.

8. It's not that expensive. Honestly it isn't. Of course, a clone PC costs less, but not by a large margin. For example, the lower-end Macbook costs around $1,099, which converts to roughly only P46,000. That's not too bad for a 2.1 Ghz Intel Core Duo machine with 1GB of RAM and 120GB of hard drive space. It also has a built-in camera and the fantastic set of iLife software.

9. The display is f******* great. The display that is built in into iMacs and the Macbooks are really spectacular, bright and crisp. I was looking at a picture on my Windows machine, but when I saw it on a Mac, it was literally blown away. I said to myself - that's how a computer should display a picture that you took with your 4-megapixel digital camera.

10. Most software you need is available. Despite what you might think, there are a lot of freeware and commercial software available for the Mac. Here are a few of my recommendations - Firefox for internet browsing, Transmission for torrents, iSquint to convert video files, and VLC, to view any video. Mac versions of Google Earth, Yahoo! Messenger, and Skype are also available.

So there you have it. If you're thinking about buying the Mac, I highly recommend you go ahead and buy one. I have one, and I'm never going back to Windows. (Except for games!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friendster MMS Photo Uploads

A new service was recently launched by Globe that allows users to upload photos to their Friendster site via MMS. All the user needs to do is to register in Friendster Mobile, and once registered, they just send the MMS containing the photo and caption to 2276. The photo is then uploaded to their Friendster site in a few minutes.

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the convergence of mobile and social networking. Any social network that's wants to get far cannot NOT have a mobile component. After all, a social network is by nature composed of people you interact with regularly, whether they're on the web or not. And what's the most convenient way to get in touch with them? Via mobile! (Of course, getting people to pay to use a social network via mobile is a totally different thing.)

Just some examples of mobile social networking - Facebook SMS/MMS, Multiply's mobile interface, myspace mobile and even Mixi in Japan.

The thing is - I think there's still a lot more to go - it's not as simple as translating the social network site to the mobile and offering the same features. It's looking at new opportunities and mashups that mobile provides. Presence, location information and push to talk are just some services a social network can take advantage of once it's mobile.

One thing that I'm forecasting to hit big though - Twitter (if ever it gets popular here.) It's content has a 140-character limit, making it ideal for SMS. That's 40 million potential Philippine users instantly.

Hmmm... could this be an idea for a new Philippine startup?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Internet in Plain English

Have you ever tried explaining RSS, Twitter or even social networking to your mother, your sister or someone who's clueless about technology? That has happened to me several times. I even remember my mom hesitating to use a mobile phone, although now she texts left and right.

But getting back to the point, I just discovered a site called Common Craft, which contains videos about some technologies explained in, well, plain English. Some of the videos featured are RSS in Plain English, Twitter in Plain English, and Wikis in Plain English. Check it out guys and girls, and never need to explain to your mom why you just have to post your vacation pictures on the internet again.

By the way, I learned about Common Craft through this new podcast I discovered, produced by Revision3 - PopSiren. It's a video podcast about modern culture, technology, science and DIY from the point of view of women. One of the hosts is Jessica Corbin of InDigital and Tekzilla fame.

Guy Kawasaki interviews Steve Ballmer

Every March, developers and Microsoft enthusiasts troop over to Las Vegas for the Mix event. Through the Mix event, these developers get a chance to attend workshops and interact with Microsoft. I have never heard of this event before last week, when I saw an Mix 08 excerpt at Microsoft's Developer Roadshow at Megamall.

The highlight of this year's Mix event was Guy Kawasaki's no-holds barred interview of Steve Ballmer. Questions like "Why do you want to buy Yahoo?" and "What's the deal with Vista?", as well as Apple being referenced as a chihuahua and Steve Ballmer shooting down the Macbook Air were some of the highlights.

Head on over to Mix 08 website, and you can also view/download the video of the interview.

iPhone SDK 2 out!

Yes folks, the iPhone SDK 2 is out! Apple sent me an email last Thursday. When the SDK first came out, I immediately registered to become an iPhone developer (even though the iPhone isn't officially offered in the Philippines yet.) I downloaded the Gigabyte-sized SDK (whew!), downloaded the instructional videos, but haven't installed it yet. Why, you may ask? I have a Powerbook G4 and an Intel iMac, both running Tiger, so I can't really run the SDK, can I?

Going back to the SDK version 2. The biggest difference with version 1 is that it now has an interface builder, so that you can just drag and drop to create your user interface. Part of my hesitance in using the 1st SDK (aside from not having Leopard) was that it would be pretty difficult to do an application's UI without an interface tool. Well now, that's no longer a problem! (but me not having Leopard still is!)

I do hope that SDK version 3 would allow me to use my iPod Touch (yes, I don't have an unlocked iPhone!) as a test device, so that I can create programs for myself and run it on my iPod.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Welcome to the mobilefutures blog. In this blog, I plan to talk about mobile technologies, the internet and gadgets from the Philippine perspective. I work for a telecom operator, so some of my posts might be colored because of my background. Please note however, that all my views are my own and not of my company's.

Feel free to comment on any posts I have, negative and positive alike. My feelings don't easily get hurt! =)

Have fun reading!