Saturday, December 25, 2010

Season's Greetings!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Darren Criss in Manila

A few months back, my friend Anne and I discovered little gem of a YouTube musical called "A Very Potter Musical". In our group of friends, we were the only fans, not just of the guy who played Harry but of the entire cast. We raved, we shared photos, we praised them. We sang their songs on the bus to Zambales, we searched for their other shows and we waited impatiently for the sequel, "A Very Potter Sequel". Still, it was just the two of us who went really crazy over the Starkids.

Fast foward to two months or so ago, Glee (which I had long stopped watching) introduced a new character named Blaine, who happened to be played by the same guy who played Harry in AVPM/AVPS. Immediately his popularity skyrocketed. Suddenly, everyone is a fan of Darren.

With Joiz & Ryan, we trooped to Trinoma to watch him. I'm terribly happy that he sang a lot of Starkid songs and to my surprise, a lot of people in the crowd knew the songs. It may have been called "Have a Gleeful Christmas", but that night, the Starkids ruled. It was totally awesome, and I really less than three Darren Criss.

For the song list and the links to the videos (which I'm still not finished uploading), please visit this page. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Philippine Peso bills redesigned

The country was abuzz with the news yesterday that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas released the newly redesigned Philippine Peso bills. It's been years since the current designs have been out, and while there were no changes since, we've been adding some denominations to it. I remember the time when the biggest bill was P100, then they came out with the P500, then the P1000 and lastly the P200.

I also remember the P5 bill with Emilio Aguinaldo. Did you guys ever played with it and make him look like Randy Santiago? The P10 bill was the one that had a redesign before it was eventually pulled out. I wonder how these two bills would look like if they were redesigned now?

The new designs look great. I can't wait to get my hands on them. Next payday, perhaps? :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Joseph & Jaemark's Family Grill

I'm quite ashamed to say that I've never eaten at Joseph & Jaemark's Family Grill. For a restaurant that has a very long history, and for someone like me who loves to eat, that's quite unusual. So when I had the chance to try their food last December 2, I didn't hesitate.

Joseph & Jaemark's has been around for 17 years, starting out as a small hole-in-the-wall place in Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay. Over the years its moved locations around the metro, and it's current home is at Sgt. Esguerra St. in Quezon City. Moving around hasn't stopped its patrons from coming in and ordering their favorites.

While this new location is open for business, Joseph & Jaemark's hasn't had a formal and grand opening just yet. It's easily accessible from Timog, and has a friendly, homey atmosphere that's perfect for family get-togethers. As the night wears on, the place is transformed into a hangout where the crowd can enjoy good music, good food and maybe a beer or two at the al fresco space behind the dining area. Function rooms are also in the process of being built.

Dinner started off with a plate of Catfish Salad. Catfish, or hito, is commonly cooked on a grill and hardly even associated with salad. This dish, however, was a very pleasant surprise. Bits of catfish friend to a crunchy mass and placed atop a mix of burong mangga made for a very delicious appetizer. The tastes clash in a pleasant way and leaves you wanting more.

Catfish Salad, P200

Most stuffed vegetables are filled with pork or beef. Joseph & Jaemark's uses tinapa as their stuffing, and it bursts with a wonderful smokey flavor when you bite it.

Stuffed Pechay, P160

If there's one thing I noticed with many grilled foods, is that it tends to become dry the more it's cooked. This is especially true for fish. Joseph & Jaemarks's Grilled Tuna Belly is not. When it's served, it actually looks like a slab of grilled beef or pork and it has a sweet coating that is similar to the ones used in those meats. However, you will immediately notice that it is not beef or pork. It's really good.

Grilled Tuna Belly, P270 (small)

Most coco prawn recipes have the prawns cooked in coco sauce. This Coco Prawns are not only cooked that way, but it also includes bits of coconut meat. It adds flavor and texture to an already rich dish. It's also served in a carved out coconut.

Coco Prawns, P450

I grew up eating genuine Bicol Express, so I wasn't really expecting much with this. It's not as spicy as the ones my grandmother used to cook, which is a good thing for me, personally. It has a slightly sweet taste that balances it all out. It goes great with the meat dishes in the menu as it's got a lot of vegetables, although it feels really more like pakbet rather than Bicol Express for me.

Bicol Express

Somehow, this dish would've paled in comparison to the previous dishes, as it was meat and it wasn't that big. But for it's very unassuming look, the barbecued pork spare ribs is a winner in my book. The meat is very tender and easily breaks with just a gentle pressure from your silverware. It's sauce is sweet and penetrates deep into the meat. The thin layer of fat is delicious when eaten with some of the meat. Highly recommended.

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

This was certainly the star of the night. Most grill places offer crispy pata as their main dish, but Joseph & Jaemark's has Crispy Buntot, and it tastes just as good, if not better. You can eat to your heart's content and won't worry about the cholesterol and fat. There's two sauces, butter sauce and spicy toyo. Both complement the crispy buntot very well, but you can also eat it without the sauces.

Crispy Buntot, P315 (medium), P415 (large)

Here's something that isn't on the menu just yet, so we felt pretty lucky to have tried this new recipe. It's chicken balls, but it's quite unlike the regular ones you'd eat, thanks to an ingredient one might not probably even think of adding to ground meat: ginger.

Chicken balls

This dessert is not on the menu either, but the lychee gulaman is delicious and a refreshing end to a very heavy and yummy dinner.

Everything I ate was a winner. If I had space in my stomach I'd go for another round of serving, but sadly, I didn't. Still, it was a very delicious dinner. My favorites were the Crispy Buntot, Grilled Tuna and BBQ Pork Spareribs.

Joseph & Jaemark's Family Grill
#5 Sgt. Esguerra, Diliman, Quezon City
410-TUNA (8862)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab test photos

Here are some pictures I took using the Samsung Galaxy Tab that was lent to the bloggers during the launch tour last November 28. They're not the full sized versions though. Picasa resizes them.

Malate Church

Fritz :)


Carlos Celdran

Monday, November 29, 2010

My historical and high tech Manila tour

Last Sunday, I joined several bloggers on a Manila tour with Carlos Celdran, thanks again to the invite extended by Arpee. While many have already taken a tour with Carlos before, this was a special trip.

The tour centers around the photographs of Teodulo Protomartir, who is considered as the Father of Philippine photography and credited as the man who brought the 35 mm format to the country. A series of photographs from his collection of post-war Manila. I first heard about this man and these photographs through Rain, who is a film photographer enthusiast. The tour was based on these pictures, where Carlos took us around Manila, showing us the pictures of old places and buildings, and what they look like now.

It was truly an educational tour. Even though those buildings and places were familiar to me, having seen them for as long as I can remember, hearing the history and learning what the buildings have gone through makes it all the more awe-inspiring.

What made the tour more fun was the use of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This device is a very portable tablet that has a 7" TFT-LCD display and weighs only 380g. While we were on the bus heading towards Manila, Carlos plugged his Tab to the onboard TV, loaded a PowerPoint presentation and proceeded give us a quick history lesson in Philippine history, specifically, Manila.

Carlos loads up the PowerPoint presentation on the TV

I look at it through the Tab that I have

Taking a picture of the Tab while taking a picture of the Church.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flippin' for Flip Video!

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Philippine launch of the Cisco's Flip Video MinoHD. Cisco, in partnership with SM Cinemas, hosted the launch at SM Megamall Cinema 6. The place was jam-packed, and well attended by bloggers, media, celebrities and your everyday Juan.

While I'm no stranger to Flip cameras, it was definitely exciting to be part of the crowd who'll be the first to experience the new line that Cisco was launching. I've been blogging since 2003, but I'm fairly new to the events scene, so pardon the uber excited vibe I may be exuding.

Cisco launched three new cameras during this event: The Flip MinoHD 1HR, Flip MinoHD 2HR and the UltraHD. These cameras are small, stylish and easy to operate, standards set by the previous releases of the Flip Video. They're also ready to operate straight out of the box. A no-fuss video camera that takes high resolution footage? Sign me up!

Photo by Ryan

A screening of several short films shot using the Flip Video MinoHD was presented to the guests. Before that, cocktails were served while guests mingled. I had a grand time hanging out with friends Arpee and Ryan, and meeting new ones as well. It was also a thrill to finally see the faces of people I know only through their blogs. *waves hello*

Among those whose films were shown using the Flip MinoHD were Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Mitch Dulce, Dimples Romana, director Topel Lee and blogger Jayvee Fernandez.

Probably the much awaited moment of the night was the raffle for the Flip MinoHD. Guests were asked to fill in a raffle stub at the registration tables earlier in the event. I didn't expect to win, but imagine my elation when my name was called. Plurk friend Fritz Tentativa also won a camera.

While I haven't really played around much with the camera, in an oddly positive way, there's not much look at. Being simple is the camera's biggest selling point, among others.

  1. You don't have to be technical to use the camera as there are no confusing controls to worry about when you want to shoot. 
  2. The camera is small and very lightweight, probably weighs as much as an iPod classic (or even less). 
  3. It powers up fairly fast. I can be up and shooting videos in two seconds. 
  4. There are no messy and confusing wires to worry about. The Flip Video MinoHD has a built-in USB arm that flips out of the body and attaches easily to any USB port for fast and easy file transfer. 
  5. There's a pre-packaged software called FlipShare that's compatible to both PC and Mac, which you can use to organize, edit and share your videos.

On the downside, battery life seems a tad too short for a camera that can shoot two hour footage. The storage, even for the 8 GB, isn't ideal if you want to shoot long footage, like weddings or other events, especially if you don't have a computer handy to connect to. The fact that the memory isn't expandable may be a problem for some. Also, the USB plug is awkward because it cannot support the camera's weight when it's plugged in but Fritz's suggestion to get those USB extension cables works around this concern well.

Those aside, it shouldn't stop you from getting one. The cameras are very handy and easy to operate. Having a dedicated camera for video now frees up your still camera for what it's originally made for.

The Flip Video MinoHD is available locally in various electronics and gadget stores like Ansons Appliance, Digital Walker, selected outlets of Human (yes, the clothing shop), Power Mac Center, Robinsons Appliance Stores and of course, SM Department Stores and Appliance centers.

Arpee, me and Jo Bonsol. Photo by Ryan

Thanks to Arpee of Pinoy Life At Large for extending the invite!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Linaw Beach Resort

One of the nicest resorts I've been to is Linaw Beach Resort in Panglao Island, Bohol. I'm not a big fan of resorts, as they're often crowded and noisy. The only other resort I had a wonderful time in was in Sariaya, Quezon (but that was because we were there on a weekday, thus had the place to ourselves).

It was Joiz who found Linaw Beach Resort online, and it got our vote not only because it looked great, but because she received a prompt and thorough reply to her query. Plus, the price for the rooms were quite affordable, especially since we split it between the five of us.

We booked three days and two nights, and the resort even had a service pick us up from the airport in Tagbilaran. It arrived a little late due to some mix up with the van driver, but we forgot about thanks to our excitement.

Linaw Beach Resort is about thirty minutes away from the airport. The scenery along Panglao is very provincial and peaceful, a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Tagbilaran.

When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted by the staff who offered us tall, cold glasses of iced tea. From the road, it looked like a modest sized house, with some construction going on outside. Still, it was a beautiful place and we couldn't help but go "Oh my God" over and over.

Once entering our rooms, we started rhapsodizing about the awesomeness of the place all over again. Our rooms were on the first floor of the adjacent building from where we checked in. A connecting door allowed us to pass through the rooms. They opened directly out to the restaurant and pool area, which was open to the majestic view of the white sand beach.

We decided then and there that we wanted to live in Linaw.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Professor Layton VS. Ace Attorney on the Nintendo 3DS

I am a big Professor Layton fan, although it was quite by accident. I borrowed a friend's Nintendo DS mostly to play Final Fantasy. One boring afternoon, I took a break from FF and decided to check out "Professor Layton and the Curious Village".

I was hooked. My sister was hooked, and so was my mom. I played that and "The Diabolical Box" and wanted more. Since I can't understand Japanese, I have to wait for the English releases, and boy, sometimes it is a long wait.

Today, I heard the news that Level 5, the company that created Professor Layton, is working with Capcom (yes, that CAPCOM) to bring a crossover puzzle/crime mystery game to the Nintendo 3DS. It's called Professor Layton VS Gyakuten saiban (Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney).

Yes. Layton AND Ace Attorney.

Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi will helm the writing team for the game. This ought to be good. In the meantime, I will go scour the internet for an Ace Attorney Revoltech, and save up for a 3DS.

Thanks to MarkPoa for the heads up. Joystiq and Siliconera for the details and photos.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My feedback: Nokia 2730

My parents recently renewed their contract with Smart Bro and received a Nokia 2730 classic for free. It looks like a younger sibling of the Nokia 6730 classic that I had the chance of using before, if somewhat lighter and a bit more flimsy.

The Nokia 2730

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bidding wars

I started working at oDesk with an hourly rate of $3. I increased it to $5 but sadly, I get a lot of "bid is too high" responses. I acknowledge that while don't fully understand the dynamics of how buyers get their funds to pay for the work they need, it is still rather annoying and disheartening to receive such notices when I know that one, my rate is not high compared to other providers, and two, what I am charging is still affordable enough for great quality work.

What many buyers might not consider is the worth of the dollar to the person who is looking for work. A dollar is worth about forty to fifty pesos in the Philippines, depending on the market, but it usually falls around in that range. It may sound big --- if you tend to think that what fifty bucks can buy is the same as what you can get with a dollar.

In most cases it is not. In order for someone to live substantially here, you have to at least earn P500 a day. That's about $10 (again, depending on the exchange rate), and that's only for the daily expenses. In other countries, a person earning $10 an hour is standard. Ten dollars a day is not enough, especially if a person has to pay his bills and sustain a family.

Some writers accept a low paying work because they accept other work as well. Totaling what they earn for all that would most likely net them a substantial amount. Then again, it would be undermining their talents and skills, and sometimes, getting bulk work compromises the quality of the articles.

I also noticed that many buyers prefer to get people from non-US countries because they will take a dollar per article rate. Browsing through some writing forums, I've learned that many writers consider a $10 per article rate the bare minimum, as it's the rate many US writers charge.

In many instances, it's a strike against me to have the Philippines listed as my location. Buyers immediately think I'll be willing to accept a very low rate for my work. While I do want to get a job, I too have my standards. I have a university degree and more than ten years of writing experience in various fields under my belt. I speak and write English as well as anyone who is from an English speaking country. In fact, I learned how to speak it alongside the vernacular language. English is not a second language for me, but one of my primary languages.

Still think the bid is too high? Here are some suggestions you can look into to help you decide what to do next.

1. Check the provider's work. Make a portfolio a requirement for applicants. Do they write in the way that you want your articles to come out? Are they up to your standards of "perfect English grammar"? Is their work original and pass Copyscape? These are common requirements I see in many job postings.

Even without asking, I include links to my blog so that the buyer will be able to look at how I write. I try to keep my blog as updated as possible, and write in a variety of styles. I am confident that my work is worth more than my current oDesk bid. I've seen some writing samples of people who bid around a dollar or so for their work and honestly, it is worth even less.

2. If you think the rate is too high even after you've checked the provider's work, don't cancel the bid just yet. Ask the provider if they would be willing to negotiate their rate to meet your budget. While many would not consider doing so, there would be others who would be willing to. If by chance they cannot lower it to the exact amount that you need, try to see if you can compromise to an amount that would be satisfactory to both of you.

3. Consider the kind of job you want them to do. Seriously, a 500 word article is not easy to write. If you could do it quickly, then I'm sure you wouldn't be looking for a writer now, right? Think of all the work that goes into it: research, writing the draft, the cycle of editing and rewriting until you get it right. I've looked into freelance forums and writing forums and many agree that a dollar for one article that includes research and editing is a very low rate. Even if the data has been provided, it still is a low rate.

4. Look into the writer's feedback, history and testimonials, if they are any (usually for sites like oDesk there would be). Is it good? Does it meet your standards? Or are you seeing low scores and ratings? I'd personally pick a writer who charges $10 per article (or hour, depending) if I am confident that they can meet my demands, versus someone charging a dollar but has issues with deadlines and quality.

5. In relation to the previous items, check the writer's credentials. With the Internet, there has been a proliferation of people who call themselves writers, mostly because they get their works published in a blog or an online publication. As previously mentioned, you can ask for work samples and use them as a measuring stick. My research showed that many prefer to look for seasoned writers over people who just blog, unless their entries are truly good.

I hope that buyers would see that sometimes, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean it's good. There are some things that are worth spending money for, and if you truly want great value for your dollar, well, you will get what you pay for.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week 2 of "Nokia: My Life Promo" from Manila Family Blogs

Manila Family Blogs Network and is now on it's second week of giving away cool new Nokia cellphones.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Manila Shopaholic is giving away a Nokia C5, a snazzy mobile phone that conveniently allows you to be connected not just through call and text, but also through your social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can even share your pictures and videos through Nokia's Ovi.

For details about the contest, visit Manila Shopaholic and join now!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Manila event: Kurosawa Film Festival

This year marks the 100th birth anniversary of acclaimed Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa. The Japan Foundation Manila, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the UP Film Institute will jointly present a two week film festival of Kurosawa's works, all featured in 35mm format.

Dubbed as the "Kurosawa Film Festival" it is also done with the Embassy of Japan and The event will kick off on September 14 at 7:00 PM at the CCP Little Theater and will feature "Throne of Blood".

Regular screenings will be held at the CCP Dream Theater from September 15 to 19, from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The UP Film Institute will hold screenings from September 22 to 30, 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Further details of the screening and the movies are available at the Japan Foundation Manila website. Admission is free.

Thank you to Roland Samson, Project Coordinator of JFM for the information.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Director Satoshi Kon, 47, passes away

It's a sad, sad morning as I am greeted by the news that Satoshi Kon has passed away at age 47. Kon-san is best known among anime fans as the award winning director of anime movies like Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Jim Vowles of the Otakorp Board of Directors for the Otakon convention confirmed Kon's death with MADHOUSE studio founder Masao Maruyama. Maruyama first mentioned about the death of a director through his Twitter account, but didn't say who it was.

I saw Perfect Blue when I was in college and it creeped me out. Tokyo Godfathers was the next movie of his that I saw, and has been so far my favorite. I even did a small review of it. Paprika and Millenium Actress are also both great movies that you mustn't miss.

Rest in peace.

Anime News Network
/Film (also photo source)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Name Neko-kun Contest!

The Japanese Embassy in the Philippines launched a contest to name the mascot of the J-Pop Anime Singing Contest. The orange striped cat is used in promotional materials like flyers and posters.

The contest is open to everyone and rules are as follows:
- Only one name suggestion for each participant is allowed
- The name must be original and should not bear any similarities or likeness to any licensed manga or anime character/trademark

Entries can be sent to with the subject “Name Neko-kun Contest”. Include your full name and address in the email body. Deadline of submission is on July 9, 2010. Winners will be notified via email and will be awared at the J-Pop Anime Singing Contest Grand Finals on July 24 at the Cyberzone Event Center of SM North EDSA. Winners will get Doraemon items from Animation International Licensing.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

BTT: Signature

Do signed copies excite you? Tempt you? Delight you? Or does it not matter to you?

It usually depends on the author. I stood in line for hours just to get Neil Gaiman to sign my copy of "Stardust" five years ago, then again this March so he could sign four more books. They're not collector's edition or anything, but I love the guy, and I love his works.

If I don't really like the author or the book, then I'm not so hunky dory on an autographed copy.

Booking Through Thursday: Signature

Friday, June 04, 2010

Win The Body Shop Moisture White Shiso Products

Female Network is giving away a Moisture White Shiso gift pack from The Body Shop. It's an improved formulation of the Japanese line that contains shiso, vitaman C, liquorice and organic aloe vera, all contributing to the reduction of dark spots and dull skin.

To join, you must be a registered member of Female Network. Share this post by re-blogging, re-tweeting, or posting a link on any forum, social networking site, or blog. The shared post must include a link back to this article. Send an email with the link to your post(s) and the subject The Body Shop Moisture White Shiso Promo to Each confirmed link counts as one entry.

Contest runs from May 16 to June 16 and open only to residents of Metro Manila.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hanson: Give A Little

I'm enjoying listening (and yeah, watching) Hanson videos on YouTube. They're set to release a new album soon, "Shout It Out" and I'm really looking forward to that.

Here's one of the tracks from that album, "Give A Little". The lyrics below are ones that I've transcribed myself while listening to the track. I couldn't find any lyrics online just yet. All of them belong to the very talented Hanson.

"Give A Little"

When she walks in with her painted lips
And she teases for your flirty quips
Did she leave you frozen
with your own words chosen
You gotta show her what she can't resist
Make her blush when you put your hand on her hips
She's gonna keep on playing until you stop chasing

So wrap your arms around her body
Tell her all she needs to know

Give a little heart and soul
Let your body lose control
Give a little oh oh oh
Give a little

Wrap your arms around
Give a little

You gotta show her when she can't decide
You gotta hold her with that look in your eyes
WHen you move in close take your time
Leave an empty shoulder let her move in closer

And wrap your arms her body
Tell all she needs to know

Give a little heart and soul
Let your body lose control
Give a little oh oh oh
Give a little
Wrap your arms around
Give a little
Wrap your arms around
(You know you want to hold her body)
Wrap your arms her body

She likes to keep you in suspense
But she loves to keep you in suspense
But she knows she just wants to dance
Give a little heart and soul
Let your body lose control
Give a little oh oh oh
Give a little
Wrap your arms around
Give a little

You know you want to hold her

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BTT: Break

Booking Through Thursday

Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

One of the reasons why I can read a lot of books is that I don't read more than one book at a time. I know there's a lot of folks who "multi-read," tackling several books at a time. Personally, I prefer to concentrate on one book, then move on to the next once I'm done. Though I don't get mixed up with the characters or stories, it seems disrespectful to the author that I don't give it my full attention.

In that sense, I guess I treat books as I would a movie: sit down, be comfy and dedicate an hour or so for it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BTT: Illustrious

Booking Through Thursday
How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

It depends on what sort of book I'm reading. Generally, I don't like fiction novels with photos, graphs or any illustrations unless it's part of the story, because I like to imagine for myself how the characters look like based on how the author describes them. Some books, like young adult fiction, are perfectly fine for me to have illustrations. I like the idea of the Scholastic/US version of the Harry Potter series having illustrations only at the start of each chapter. I'm also picky on the artwork, so even if there are books I like that have illustrations, they have to be good to look at. Comics, of course, are a given.

Of course, for non-fiction books I prefer to have accompanying pictures. Biographies, travel books, books on events etc. would be so much better if there are pictures. Textbooks are a given. They need to have those!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Plurk: A social journal for your life

I log on to Plurk on a daily basis. In the beginning, I was hesitant to use it, as I had Twitter but I couldn't really find the relevance of it. I had trouble with Twitter as replies to my posts aren't threaded (one feature that I absolutely like, hence my love for Gmail), and it's easy for my message to get lost in the sea of other messages (especially since I'm following tons of people).

While not as popular as Twitter, Plurk enjoys a huge audience in parts of Southeast Asia, Taiwan and the United States. It was launched in May 2008. In November 2009, Plurk was in the news when MSN China, a venture of Microsoft's MSN service, launched MSN Juku and many users noted the vast similarities between the two (Plurk was blocked in China in April 2009). Plurk then posted a blog entry accusing MSN China of plagiarizing 80% of Plurk's original code, including several CSS elements and features of the service's unique interface. In December 2009, Microsoft suspended MSN Juku's services indefinitely.

I've been on Plurk for nearly two years now, and suffice to say I don't see myself leaving it anytime soon. Here are my top five reasons why I love Plurk.

1. The community. Unlike Twitter, where I follow accounts of people I barely know, accounts of stars, or various other famous people and services, I keep my Plurk contacts to people I actually know or have interacted in someway before. Even though a good half of my Plurk contacts are folks I just met online, it's still a good, small community that I can easily relate to.

2. Keeping track. Tabs like unread, responded, mine, private, and like are helping in keeping tracks of the posts I've made and people replied to, other's posts I've replied to, and posts that I liked. I also like how each Plurk has a reply option so you can easily read people's responses.

3. Access options. You have the option to pick who has access to your Plurks. Aside from making your entire timeline accessible only to your contacts, you can even pick specific people who can see what you post. You can also create lists or groups and use that.

4. Plurk hosts the images you upload. No need for an external host (one downside though, you don't really have an accessible gallery to view all the phots you've uploaded).

5. Emoticons. I don't know why but sometimes, when words fail you, there's a corresponding emoticon that can say it all for you. Not only can you use the Plurk provided emoticons, you can use your own.

On the downside, I don't think Plurk will ever be able to compete with Twitter, nor will it reach the heights Twitter has achieved. I haven't encountered much celebrity Plurkers, and if there are any, I doubt that they're active. Plurk requires a bit more work than Twitter, especially if you want to raise your karma (a point system that unlocks certain emoticons when you reach "nirvana" at 80) and maintain it. Then again, some people just ignore it and have fun.

Give Plurk a try and let know what you think.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Grammar

Booking Through Thursday
In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?

More importantly, have you read them?

How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

In some past BTT questions (which were in an old blog that I can no longer link to), I've repeatedly expressed my feelings for the proper use of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Here's two previous posts I wrote that tackled this subject:

Wrong word, Right use (or vice versa)
Speak English (here I voice out my frustration with the popularity of "txtspk.")

As for owning grammar books, yes, I do have some. A few of them were my books in school and were required for the curriculum. Others were extra books I got when I went to university (like Kate L. Turabian's "A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations"). I also have a scriptwriting book written by Filipino writer Ricky Lee called "Trip to Quiapo." It is titled as such because of his premise that Quiapo, a place in the heart of Manila, can be reached through many routes. The point is you'll get there.

My grandfather also owns a lot of English grammar and writing books, many of which he got when he went to the U.S. to study. Most of his books are from the 1950s and 60s. The good thing about them is that many of the rules then about grammar still apply today, so I got to use them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Happiness Path

Here's an interesting article I came across in the news today. A study by a group of scientists from the University of California, Riverside, say that a person's happiness can improve by doing the following things:

1. Be grateful
2. Be optimistic
3. Count your blessings
4. Use your strengths
5. Commit acts of kindness

A lot of these practices include visualization and writing them down. For example, study participants were asked to write gratitude letters to people who helped them in one way or another --- and making it a habit. Studies show that even if the letter was not sent, the participants feel better afterwards.

With visualization, participants were asked to think of their ideal future: how it looks like, who are they with, what are they doing --- then write it all down. After a few weeks of doing this, the subjects also say that they feel better. This is a practice of optimistic thinking.

Proven without the study
Personally, I believe that even without this study, the things that they listed really does make one happy. There are just times when we forget. Often, it's easier to wallow in what makes us miserable than remember what makes us happy.

Years ago, I would write down my blessings in a journal. I wasn't religious about it, writing them only when I feel like doing so, or worse, when I remember (which wasn't very often), to the point that I never really did it anymore. However, when I found that journal again and browsed through it all (I'm thankful that I'm such a pack rat and that I have such nice handwriting), I'm glad that I did. I've moved to blogging but true to form, I haven't been able to keep it up to date.

Gratitude Log
A friend suggested that I join the site Gratitude Log. It's like Twitter, only you are encouraged to post things that you are thankful and grateful for. It's a great idea because your posts can be as short as 140 characters, or longer if you wish. People can show their appreciation by giving gifts, and you can do the same back. The site is integrated with Twitter so what you post can show up in your Twitter feed.

Best of all, if you miss a day or two of posting, you'll be reminded with an email. I just received one (yeah, I'm a slacker at posting things I'm thankful for) and it wasn't a generic "Dear User, you forgot to post" reminder, but a rather cheerful and chatty letter from the site's creator, Mike Reining.

Make it a habit
The study also says that the results are always optimized if these practices were done habitually. Doing them once is fine, doing them repeatedly makes you feel better in the long run.

One habit I had from childhood was to hold conversations with God before drifting off to sleep. I start off with saying the things I'm grateful for, then move on to my wishes, then to the rants. Granted, the ranting part was much longer, but it was a good way to let off steam, and I feel better.

What makes you feel happier?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Turn around: Globelines DSL does good

Just a quick update.

I feel the need to say something good about my ISP, which you all know is Globelines.

Since Typhoon Ondoy, I haven't had much trouble with the service. I say "much" because there are odd moments when the service was slow, or a few hours of downtime (none of which I reported because I figured it would come back up soon).

The biggest awesome thing they did was give us subscribers free service. Remember how I ranted about their bad signal for so long? I can't (and won't) take it back because it was really awful, now I'm just going to say "Thank you."

Globe waived my bill that's equivalent to about a month's service, due to Typhoon Ondoy. But that's not all that's good. In my next billing cycle, I didn't see any charges either. I don't know if that was due to them giving me a rebate for the complaints I called in earlier, but it was still a blessing.

Thanks again, Globe. This is enough for me to start singing your praises for good changes to your service. Hope it continues.