Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Google makes 2 tools for Tropical Storm Sendong relief efforts


Google is helping the Philippines after the disaster wrought by Tropical Storm Sendong by providing two tools you can use:
1. A Google Crisis Map where there are options to see shelters, donation centers and casualty updates.


2. A Person Finder tool that can be used to find a missing person or provide information about a person.


Please consider donating to help the victims of Tropical Storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon, Dumaguete and other places in southern Philippines. For a list of donation sites, please see my post HERE.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Smart and Globe launch iPhone 4s simultaneously in the Philippines

Last night, my girl and I went to the Globe and Smart launch celebrations for the iPhone 4s in the Philippines.

(photo taken from http://apple.com)

For days, the marketing spiels on both sides were aimed at getting as many pre-orders as possible and drumming up enthusiasm for the launch. Social media networks were literally flooding timelines with teasers, online contests and announcements.

We stopped by Globe's launch party at Ayala Museum first. I had an invitation via email that I had confirmed to but when I got there, my name was not on any list. The registration people though made me go through and promptly stamped my hand with an ink stamp. DJ Kaskade was working up the crowd with pretty good music although the area was quite tight at the entrance to Ayala Museum. 

Ayala Museum from the outside

DJ Kaskade

We took some pics of the crowd, listened for a while, but when my ears could no longer take the din, sought refuge inside the airconditioned lobby of the museum.

The guard let us in although it seemed like the place was actually for VIPs. Many well-heeled people from upper society were seen there along with Globe CEO Ernest Cu. Guests were being served wine, iced tea and canapes. I did not see that many media people in the VIP area. I did bump into two blogger friends inside so we were sort of wondering where the media were supposed to be situated.

Just before midnight, we left Globe's party and made our way to Smart's launch party. The scale of this celebration could be seen from the fact that the entire Rockwell Power Plant was closed off for the occasion.

I was met at the registration area by Smart people who promptly gave me a media neck ID, white bracelets (which gave us access anywhere inside the mall), a press kit and a map showing where different happenings were. Free, unlimited food and drinks were being provided by Cibo, Burgoo, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Starbucks and Sumo Sam. Free screenings Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol were open to all from Cinemas 1-6. And for gamers at heart, unlimited games at Q Power Station.


People were lining up at the Smart Store, waiting to claim their iPhone 4s units at the stroke of midnight. There were other areas that declogged the Smart Store where preorders were processed so people could pay for their units first before going to the Smart Store to claim them.

What blew me away were the freebies that were being given to the first people to get their units. This guy (shown on the big screen) was the first to claim his phone and Smart gave him a 27-inch iMac to boot! Whew! 



And Sandro Paredes later tweeted that there were actually 10 such iMacs for the first 10 people in line. Plus PS3s, Beat headsets and iPads too. WAAAAAAHHHH!

Big boss Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) was also spotted with lots of media in tow. We were having a very late dinner at the Cibo area of the VIP Lounge when MVP walked in and spoke with some guests including the Magalona mother-daughter tandem.

M. V. Pangilinan talks to Pia Magalona and other guests

The Smart crowd with Jermaine Dupri and Lupe Fiasco, among others

My girl enjoying unlimited gaming at Q Power Station



POSTPAID iPhone 4S Plans

I could not find the postpaid plans for the iPhone 4s on Globe's website but Abe Olandres of yugatech.com seemed to have the inside info. Click HERE to see his post on Globe's postpaid plans. I will update this post once Globe posts their official prices.

As for Smart, this table was taken from their official website:

Note: There are deferred handset payment plans under Plans P999 and P2499. The amounts shown under each plan's column (for ex, P200/mo under Plan 2499 for a 32GB phone) means that you will pay P200/mo on top of the P2,499 for 24 months as deferred installment on the handset.


PREPAID iPhone 4S Plans

I got Globe's prepaid prices from someone's tweet while Smart's prices are posted on their website. For those looking at prepaid kits, it seems offhand that Smart's prices are about 4-6k cheaper if both quotations are correct.

                           GLOBE*                         SMART

16GB                        37,690                            33,200

32GB                       43,399                             38,200

64GB                       49,199                             43,200

*Globe's prepaid prices are unofficial to-date. I will update this post once their official pricing comes out.

Smart, being the newer player in the iPhone market, seems to have pulled out all the stops to ensure that its iPhone 4S launched successfully and in a big way. In terms of launch preparation, I would have to hand it to Smart for having thought of everything. From the press kits to the food to movie screenings and unlimited games, the overall preparations were made experiential in a fun way.

Globe, on the other hand, has a solid and loyal subscriber base, and this is not their first iPhone offering. So maybe that could be the reason why they were not as hyped up as Smart on its debut launch.

It would be interesting, once Globe's official prices are out, to see how these stack up against the very tempting pricing of Smart. Smart's P999 and P1500 plans are the ones which give the most value for the buck. Plan P999 is affordable because if you factor in the handset price, that only comes up to roughly P24,000 for the handset, payable over 2 years. If you are a heavy internet user more than a call and text user, the P1500 plan that comes with an unlimited data plan looks like a very good option.

Are you thinking of getting an iPhone 4S?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

By Implication launches its iOS game app, Scram (with a promo code giveaway)

In 2010, a group of techie friends, who also happen to be good friends of my kids, joined the Microsoft 2010 Imagine Cup and came home as the grand champions in the Game Design category. Their Wildfire game, all about saving the world by addressing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was simple and yet very engaging.

They called themselves By Implication.

Using their winnings and their creativity, the By Implication team is now a group of developers who make games and apps. Last November 18, they launched their very first game for the iPhone - Scram.

Scram is a first-person running game in which players must run through nightmarish dreamscapes, as they are pursued by an unseen threat. It features immersive 3-D graphics, fast-paced twitch gameplay, original theme music, leaderboards, Game Center achievements, retina display support, and Twitter integration for iOS 5 users.

Check out this trailer:




Intrigued enough? Want to play the full version of the game?


Right now, the game has a discounted price of only US$0.99 at the Apple App Store with free iPad compatibility bundled with the first major update coming up. 

If you're on a buying spree this Thanksgiving Weekend, do consider getting their app at this low price. You're supporting Filipino game developers while becoming the owner of an exciting game app.


You also have a chance to win 1 of 10 promo codes that the By Implication team is giving away. Here's how.

PROMO MECHANICS

1. What are you running from? Tweet something interesting to answer that question. The ten (10) most fascinating entries will be selected and will each win a promo code for Scram. The format of the tweet is:

(Write whatever it is you're running from). What are YOU running from? #scramgame http://tiny.cc/scram

Here's how it should look:



2. Promo is from November 24, 2011 at 9PM till December 1, 2011 at midnight. Winners will be notified and announced by December 3, 2011.

3. One tweet is one entry. (Note: If your Twitter timeline is private, your tweet may not be seen by the developers and may not be counted.)

4. Each entry must be in the proper format, with the proper hashtag and links included in the tweet.

5. You may submit up to 5 entries. Additional entries after the 5th entry don't count.

6. Winners may only win ONE copy of the game.

7. The organizers of the promo reserve the right to take action against anyone caught doing something less than honest (fair is fair, okay?)

For details of promo mechanics, click HERE

To check out the game's website, click HERE

To buy the game at the Apple App Store, click HERE

Friday, November 25, 2011

Take advantage of Black Friday sale!

Thanksgiving season is one of the greatest sale seasons of the year and here we are again.

Time now to get your favorite gadgets and apps at such great discounts.

Here are some links to sites that list stuff that are on Thanksgiving weekend sale now.

iOS

MacStories Black Friday Guide: 150 Great iOS Apps

Cult of Mac: Check Out These Black Friday Deals on the App Store's Best Games

Your Ultimate Black Friday App Sale List is Here!


Android

Amazon App Store

And, if you are based in the U.S. and want to cut to the chase and find more Black Friday sales, you can download this FREE from the Android or Apple App Store app.

Black Friday App by dealnews.com, Inc.

(pictures courtesy of the Apple App Store)


Click on a store and it shows you all items on sale, the product descriptions and prices. Clicking the product gives you even more details. With this app, you can even do a price comparison of a product between two stores to find the best deals.

Browsing can be done by category (electronics, for example) and when you find items you want to remember, save them as a shopping list.

Spend some time this Thanksgiving weekend to look around these links. You just may find an app or more on sale that you've been wanting to buy for some time now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free for 24 Hours Only: Breathing Zone

I'm putting this up right away though I have not tested the app yet, hoping you can download it before the 24 hours are up (as of this post, it's been about 10 hours already since this app's promo was announced).



Though it retails on the App Store at $2.99, it is free for 24 hours since its posting (May 16, around 4AM Manila Time).

This is the app's description on its website:

Breathing Zone is an easy way to relax by following a simple guided breathing exercise. In just 5 minutes you can start to enjoy the health benefits of slower therapeutic breathing.
This scientifically designed breathing exercise will slow your heart rate, and over time can help lower High Blood Pressure.
 
Features:

  • Easy to follow voice instructions.
  • Beautiful breathing guide animation.
  • Your choice of three guide sounds.
  • Timed sessions from 5 to 30 minutes in length.
  • Custom start and target breathing rates.
  • Breathing Analyzer measures your breathing rate.
  • Weekly Target track your therapeutic breathing minutes.
Slower breathing has been known to reduce stress. When we stress out we tend to breathe shallower and faster. Over time, slow breathing also helps reduce blood pressure.

Harvard Medical School's newsletter article, How to put your smartphone "on call" says this about the app: "When you find yourself under stress, Breathing Zone.. can help unruffle your feathers. This app employs the phone's microphone to assess your breathing, then establishes a realistically reduced "target rate." You can choose an audio accompaniment and set the length of your relaxation session. You then breathe in and out in sync with an image that pulsates at a gradually slower pace."

Though I have not tried the therapeutic sessions yet, I opened the app after downloading it. It asks you first to establish your breathing rate by breathing into your device's speakers (in my case, my iPad). After every breath, a progress bar would slowly move from left to right. It measured my breathing at 10 breaths per minute (BPM) and suggested a target breathing rate of 8 BPM. This app's new version apparently includes a desired target rate down to 5 BPM.

Just download it now and try it out later. The good reviews from sites like Harvard Medical, App Advice and others are reason enough to give it a shot.

Breathing Zone is a Universal App so you can download it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch although the iPod Touch will require a microphone-enabled headset with it if you want your breathing rate analyzed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Get your own Royal Apps

Prince William and Kate Middleton
(official engagement photo by Mario Testino)
Are you ready for April 29 when Prince William weds his modern-day princess, Kate Middleton?

I plan to watch the live feed on TV - probably switching from BBC to other channels to see which ones are giving the better coverage. But my iPad is ready as well. I've downloaded quite a number of free (and paid) royal apps to give myself a good idea of the royal couple, pre-wedding plans, and the program for the day.

If you're looking for some apps for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, here are some I found:

FREE

1. The Royal Wedding by Hello! (Hello Ltd), iPad and iPhone - best app so far in my collection -- clean UI, comprehensive information



2. Royal Wedding Video App (ITN), iPhone and Android - the video content is linked to ITN's 'Royal Wedding Channel' on YouTube.

3. A Royal Wedding Celebration: William and Kate (Onteca), iOS Universal - also has impressive content on how the couple met to the guest list. There is an 'iPad only' version of the app but it is priced at $0.99.

PAID

1. Royal Weddings (Royal Collection), iOS Universal and Android, $2.99 - This is the official royal wedding app from the Royal Collection. It tells the story of 7 royal weddings, from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840 to TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.

2. Royal Wedding Essential Guide (BlueYellow Media Ltd), iOS Universal, $0.99 - Has a wide range of content and features an interactive map using GPS showing locations relevant to the wedding. It has a lot of trivia about the couple as well as a Royal Personality Test to show which royal person has the same personality as you. Right now, this price is 50% off so I don't know how long it will be on sale.

3. Royal Wedding Invite (Ryan Stevens), $0.99 - you have a "pretend" invite to the royal wedding.It used to be a free app but having seen its content on my iPad just now, I won't spend to buy the app.

4. Royal Wedding - The Wills and Kate Story (Trinity Mirror Digital Media Ltd), iPhone and iPad, $1.99 - This is a hefty 183MB download because it contains video and audio narratives from James Whitaker, world's foremost Royal Correspondent.

Why a Tech Blog

Yes, I finally did it.

After including tech-related blog posts in my lifestyle blog, The Philippine Beat, I felt that it was time to give it a home of its own where I can write about anything I discover about apps or gadgets in my world.

Just a bit of background.

I grew up a left-brainer.  Accounting and IT Consulting formed the better part of my entire working life. Even when I gave all that up to be a full-time Mom who eventually discovered the joys of blogging, the love of tech never left me. I'd read up on the latest gadgets, software, and computer accessories available. Not as if I could afford to buy them all the time.....

As a full-time blogger now, I've armed myself with what I call the "tools of my trade". I use a Macbook for hardcore writing, an iPad (my shoulders' savior as I need not lug my heavier Macbook around when I need to go to blogger events and fora where all I need is to access social network sites & do minimal typing), a Xacti videocam and a Canon S95 digicam. My phones are all 3G-capable. My home is entirely wireless. And yes, two of my kids are more computer-literate than me.

Welcome to my tech world! I hope to be able to share what I discover in terms of gadgets and apps (and a bit of other techie stuff) through this blog.