Saturday, January 29, 2011

The search for a new phone

I've had my current mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson P800, since 2004. How's that for a long term relationship? I've lost the flip keys and the stylus. There's a crack by the camera buttons, the back cover lock's broken and the paint's chipping. Recently, I can't hear the message tone so I'm missing a lot of calls. It's also rather slow to respond sometimes, but I'm thinking it's because it has a lot of contents. Can your phone hold 1,200+ messages? Yeah maybe, but was it manufactured before 2005? >:D

See my phone in the background? It looks ready to give up.

I do love this phone, else I wouldn't stick with it for this long. It's one of the first touchscreen smartphones ever released by any phone manufacturer. It's got a copy/paste function long before iPhone put it in iOS. I can load programs in it. It's also able to view documents, thanks to a program that came with the phone. I also had a Men in Black game and a few others (one of which my mother remembers with much fondness). Sure, it's camera's just VGA, but it was the one I used to take pictures of the Jars of Clay concert back in 2005.

I've finally decided to take the plunge and get a new phone. I've always wanted an iPhone, but it's the version 4 or not at all, and since it's too expensive, I've decided to go with an Android phone. As of last month and thanks to the countless reviews I've read, my choice was HTC Desire, but since they came out with HTC Desire HD, I'm wavering. Especially since there's only about four thousand pesos price difference. Go with the HD, right?

Now all I need now is to have the funds and I'm all set. Goal: Before my birthday. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 24, 2011

SoPhone: The Convincing iPhone Clone?

Here's something you might need to watch out for the next time you browse the electronics tiangge: an iPhone 4 knockoff called "SoPhone". It looks and feels just like an iPhone 4, from the body's dimensions and even the software. Check it out.

As you can see, anyone who is not that familiar with the iPhone 4, or just has a passing knowledge about the product can easily take this as the real thing. The software here looks just like the iOS4.

There's some delay in the response of the software, and you can see that the "accelerometer" didn't properly adjust when the device's direction changed. The sound and display looks good though, but it's definitely not the Retina display the new 1Phone 4 boasts of. I don't think this will support the same apps as the real iOS will. Too bad the demonstration didn't include anything about the other apps like games or the camera.

The most glaring difference is in the device interior: it can be easily opened, the battery can be removed and the SIM card slot is for a regular sized one, rather than the mini one. The SoPhone has a 3.5-inch touch-screen, 4GB of flash storage (not sure if it's expandable), dual cameras, is Wi-Fi ready, and has Bluetooth.

I foresee issues with Apple on this, but I have to admit, it's pretty darn amusing to see this. Still, nothing can replace the iPhone 4. I still want one.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You've Been Stung!

I wasn't yet born when The Green Hornet first aired as a radio series, nor when it became a TV series. I only got to watch it when a local channel (forgot which one) aired reruns during afternoons back in the 80s. Back then, I already thought Kato was cool (I consider him one of the reasons why I went into martial arts in the first place). When I found out he was played by Bruce Lee, Kato's cool factor went up several notches.

I didn't have high expectations with the movie when I first saw the trailer. The Britt Reid I knew was an intellectual and somewhat serious guy as opposed to the party-all-night playboy Seth Rogen portrayed him in this 2011 incarnation. I didn't expect much from Jay Chou either. I haven't seen any of his movies, but I have heard his music.

I was wrong. I liked Jay Chou as Kato. I love the homages to Bruce Lee (the sketchbook, the --- ok fine, I won't spoil it). I didn't quite care for Britt Reid, but Chadnofsky/Bloodnofsky is a hoot. The jokes between Kato and Britt made me wonder if Rogen and Evan Goldberg (the movie's scriptwriters) referred to the Bro Code when writing the script. There were definitely a lot of funny scenes that had me snickering all throughout.

You know what's another cool thing? The Mythbusters team up with Seth Rogen to prove (or disprove) scenes from the movie. So I won't spoil things for you, I shall keep mum about what they're going to do, except that the myths are titled "Explosive Escape" and "Elevator Car Cut". You have time to watch the movie before this Mythbusters episode airs on January 28 on Discovery Channel. Grab some of Krispy Kreme's Green Hornet doughnuts (called "Green Iced Sting") to sweeten the deal.

Adam Savage, Seth Rogen, Jamie Hyneman. Picture courtesy of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific.

I look forward to seeing Buster in a suit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meet RockMelt

I just installed RockMelt on my MacBook and I'm doing a test run. So far, so good, but since I've been on it for just a few minutes, I've barely just scratched the surface.

What is RockMelt? When I first heard about it, I thought it was a dessert of some sort, especially since it was Arpee who told me about it. A quick online search brought back this result from Wikipedia:

RockMelt is a proprietary social media web browser developed by Tim Howes and Eric Vishria. The project is backed by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. RockMelt integrates a unique technique for surfing the web that focuses on Google Search and Social Media, in particular Facebook and Twitter. The browser launched in private beta on November 8, 2010; in order to download it, users are required to connect their facebook account to the website to receive an invitation email. Source

The article also states that the browser is based on Chromium, Google's open-source project on cross-platform browsers. Which is also the reason why upon launching RockMelt, it looks like Chrome with extras on the side.

Here's a list of a few things I experienced with RockMelt. It's very basic as I didn't play around with it much.
  • Initial launch of RockMelt will ask for your Facebook credentials. It will also ask if you want to import settings from Safari or make Rockmelt the default browser. Once done, it'll launch the browser. There is an option to log out of RockMelt and use just the browser.
  • Passwords saved on Chrome seem to be automatically copied to RockMelt. I loaded Photobucket and I was prompted to allow RockMelt to use the credentials stored in the browser. I chose "allow" and after I typed my email on the login screen, it immediately filled up the password form. Convenient, and a tad scary.
  • Totally random, but the chat function on RockMelt takes on the color scheme of my iChat.
  • The browser is also integrated with Growl that when a friend on Facebook or someone I'm following on Twitter updates, I see an alert on my screen. It can be a bit distracting if your friends update every few seconds (seriously, I have contacts who do).

Rockmelt is great to use if you're always on your social network sites, like Facebook and Twitter. You can easily update your status, share links and photos. Think of it a one big interactive browser.

As it's built on Chromium, the basic features and performance are the same as Chrome. I definitely recommend this browser if you want to be on top of what's going on with your friends. It also saves you from constantly moving from tab to tab for updates. Personally, I find the alerts distracting (thanks to the Growl integration), and with my small screen, the sidebars take up precious space. Still, it's a good browser alternative.

Rockmelt is currently available by invitation only. You can visit the site and sign up for early access.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bistro Ravioli: My new favorite Italian place

Every time I go for Italian food, I know that I'm going to be full. Even if I decide to order the smallest portion available, I'll always end up feeling that someone needs to roll me out of the restaurant after every meal.

My lunch at Bistro Ravioli was no exception. I had a bite or two of each dish that was ordered, and since there were about eight or so items ordered, that was already a lot. I have a habit of scarfing down what I like and not waiting for what comes next. I'm so glad I paced myself that day.

Bistro Ravioli first started as a booth at the Robinson's Galleria food court. Princess Pilarta, managing director of Bistro Ravioli, related how the mall management was skeptical about the venture, after all, Bistro Ravioli seemed a different from the other food stalls, and Filipinos weren't too familiar with ravioli. However, these fears proved to be unfounded, and Bistro Ravioli grew to expand to two full-service restaurants in SM Mall of Asia and Robinson's Place Manila, where we had our delicious meal.

Now, what you must know with Bistro Ravioli is that their breads and pastas are freshly made. A batch of pasta will be made for the lunch crowd, and then again for the dinner crowd. Pizza dough is also made within the restaurant premises, the process of which guests can see through a big glass window by the entrance of the restaurant.

We started our meal off with two antipasti dishes: Grilled Foccacia with Spinach Dip (P125) and Pizza Frita with Boursin Dip (P145). I'm a big cheese lover, so both dips are winners for me. I even had some saved and ate it with the garlic bread that came with the pasta dishes. The breads were delicious, the foccacia with just the right blend of herbs that complemented the spinach dip (oh the cheese!) and the pizza frita set off the smooth mix of the creamy boursin dip (did I mention cheese?).

Pizza Frita with Boursin Dip (P145)

Grilled Foccacia with Spinach Dip (P125)

More pictures to make you hungry after the jump.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Ayala Triangle Gardens Experience

I always thought that there's not enough places in the city you can go to that is not a mall or inside a building. It's refreshing, however, to see efforts by developers to make more places people can go to for some rest and recreation.

Ayala Triangle Gardens is one such place in the middle of the busy city. Located just behind the Makati Stock Exchange, it's a lovely spot with a wide open space where kids can run around and benches under sprawling trees that you can sit on. I remember this space as a closed off area that's rather dark at night and scary to pass by. Now, it's a really nice place for people to go to.

Late 2010, Restaurants at Ayala Triangle Gardens opened. Visitors to the park, as well as those who are working in nearby offices now have a wider range of restaurants to pick from for their lunch or dinner. Many of the restaurants are small and can accommodate only a few people inside. Diners are encouraged to enjoy their meal al fresco, and it definitely is an experience.

Enjoying meals outdoors.

I was able to try three different restaurants in the Ayala Triangle Gardens: Amici, Bon Chon Chicken and Golden Spoon. Of the three, Bon Chon is the only one I haven't tried before. It's a South Korean based fried chicken restaurant. The difference of Bon Chon's chicken is that it's twice fried, making it more crunchy and less greasy. The chicken was very tasty and comes in either garlic or super hot.

Hot & spicy on the left, garlic soy on the right. Both are delicious!

Amici is well known as the Italian restaurant that had its roots in Don Bosco, Makati. The new owners continued the tradition after acquiring the chain, keeping in line with the restaurant's original vision with a homey, cafeteria-like atmosphere. The Ayala Triangle branch is the first of the Amici chain that features a sit-down dining area, as opposed to self-service in the other branches. The kitchen is open and diners can clearly see the big stone oven or pugon that the restaurant uses to cook the pizza.

Diners can also partake of Amici's delicious dessert line, Caramia. Pick from any one of their creamy gelato, or have a slice of delicious gelato cakes.

If gelato isn't your thing, no worries. The more health conscious eater can opt to have dessert at Golden Spoon. Choose from their flavored yogurts, then pick your favorite topping. You can also have it without them, and it tastes just as good.

The Ayala Triangle Gardens is a great place for the professionals working in the area to grab a bite to eat and have a relaxing break from the rigors of the work day. Weekends, it's a wonderful place for the family to go to and have fun. Stop by and indulge!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!

I'd like to share this quote from Neil Gaiman. I find it very fitting for me, and it seems like something that would work with everyone. I took the photo a few days ago, and did this graphic with the quote.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope to see you more in 2011.