Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Philippines is the Top 10 Most Competitive IT Industry Environment in the Asia-Pacific

A study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by Business Software Alliance (BSA) showed that the Philippines ranked 10th most competitive IT industry environment in the Asia-Pacific, moving up one rank from last year. The 2008 IT Industry Competitive Index found that the Philippines is strong in human capital, comprising of a large and rapidly growing young population who are well-educated in the tertiary level and has good English-speaking skills. In terms of IT workers, the country ranks fourth in Asia-Pacific. However, the country still remains 47th worldwide. The same study also shows that the country still lags in IT and telecommunications infrastructure and research and development funding.

Jeffrey Hardee, vice president and regional director of BSA Asia-Pacific said that the country needs to invest in research and development more and establish a stable IP framework since that’s where the higher value-added is going to come in. The Philippines dropped 10 places from last year in R&D, placing the country at 62nd in the global list. Very few patents are registered each year and the government allots only $1.2 for every 100 persons for R&D. The need to focus on these areas cannot be stressed enough as local individuals and companies often have produced or already have their own IP but failed to register it.

Once IP is produced and registered, the person or company gains copyright protection which will in turn translate into profits from licensing fees. This will help the country move up the IT value chain and offer more outsourcing opportunities. The Philippine government has a big role to play in the IT industry, such as creating an increased awareness in the benefits of IP portfolios and a cohesive legal environment for IP rights. At present, bills implementing the WIPO treaty and domestic IP registration are still pending in the Senate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Palm's version: Is this the killer iPhone?

Palm was under serious pressure to hit a home run at CES today—and boy, did it deliver. Running Palm's gorgeous (if belated) new platform, dubbed WebOS, the touchscreen Pre could well be Palm's savior, and perhaps its biggest hit.

So, as for the Pre itself (due on Sprint in the first half of this year, no pricing yet): It's got a big, 3.1-inch 480 by 320 touch display (yes, with multitouch and an accelerometer), weighs in at 4.8 ounces, and comes with a curved, slide-out keypad. Yes, it does Wi-Fi and 3G (EV-DO Rev. A, to be exact), as well as GPS (with turn-by-turn directions courtesy of TeleNav), stereo Bluetooth, 8GB of internal storage, a 3MP camera, a 3.5mm headset jack, and a removable battery.

But the key to the Pre is its OS, and WebOS—previously code-named "Nova"—is one of the hottest mobile platforms I've seen yet, rivaling both Android and Apple's iPhone OS.

At a glance, WebOS doesn't look all that different from the icon-driven, touch-based Android and iPhone platforms; you've got your main, wallpapered home screen, complete with a row of icons along the bottom for your standard e-mail, calendar, and calling features.

But Palm's done a few key things differently here, starting with the "gesture" area at the bottom or side of the screen (if you're, say, surfing the Web in landscape mode). For example, if you're browsing an individual contact in the Pre's address book, you can flick horizontally in the gesture area to go back to the contact list, or you can flick up for a translucent window shade of applications. Nice.

More importantly, though, is WebOS's way of letting you handle and sort all your open applications like a deck of cards. If you're composing an e-mail, for example, you can flick up, call open a new application, and then return to your e-mail at any point. All open applications appear as windows (similar to the windows in the iPhone's Web browser), and you can flick back and forth, reorder them, and discard them at will.

That's really cool, and it solves one of the biggest problems that's dogged the iPhone—namely, that its various applications are all walled off, making it difficult to easily switch from, say, the Web browser to the calendar and back again.

WebOS also introduces a concept dubbed "Synergy," which all applications can continuously get info from the Web. The best example: WebOS's unified contact list, which seamlessly displays all your contacts and grab their e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and IM handles from Facebook, Gmail, Exchange, you name it.

I'm also happy with Palm's integrated messaging interface, which combines IM and text chats into a single, threaded conversation.

And then there's the WebOS "Dashboard": a flexible space at the bottom of the screen for calling, messaging, and appointment alerts. As you're working in other applications, you might see the first line of a text message or IM, or the Dashboard might open a bit bigger for a calendar alert, complete with "dismiss" and "snooze" options. When alerts appear, you're free to keep working in your open application, or you can go ahead and open the alert—and if you want to answer an IM, you can swipe to that "card" in WebOS, and then return to your previous application card. Great stuff.

A few other interesting notes: When you're sitting at the Pre's main screen, you can just start typing on the QWERTY keypad to call up a universal search menu; you'll instantly see any matching contacts, or you can quickly jump to Web results from Google, Google Maps, and Wikipedia.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention "Touchstone," a little hockey puck of an accessory with a killer feature—wireless charging. Just place the Pre on top of the Touchstone device to power it up. Awesome.

It's a lot to chew on—indeed, Palm's press conference is barely an hour old, and already I'm having the same feeling I did after the iPhone's debut two years ago. The Pre—and WebOS—look red-hot, and the two combined may well guarantee that Palm will live to fight another (and perhaps, many) days.

So, initial thoughts? Like what you see? Will developers take to writing WebOS applications? Fire away.

Note: Just to clear up any confusion—the Pre is not Palm's first touchscreen phone, not by a long shot. As any Treo fan knows, Palm has been making touchscreen smartphones for years, although earlier models worked better with a stylus than a fingertip.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Electronic Gadgets for 2009

This may not be the upcoming list of electronic gadgets for 2009, for they are already available in the market, but at least it gives us a pre-view of what to expect for 2009 - which is not far from mere improvements and/or innovations of these existing ones.

Anyway, here are the hottest electronic gadgets that are considered items to own until close of 2008 and probably up to early part of 2009:

1. Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder, 60 Minutes (Black). This electronic widget could embrace up to 60 report of HD-class film on its 4 GB built-in memory. You can cart it where you go with its super slim and ultimately silky drawing exact for your pouch. You can also sample in your dash drives and automatically launch built-in FlipShare software that allows you to stockroom and arrange your movie clips and cartridge clips.

2. Apple iPod upset 8 GB (2nd Generation). This is oftentimes being perplexed with an Apple iPhone but don't be because this is an iPod finger that gives you the awesome prospect to have as many as 1,750 songs, 10,000 photos, or 10 hours o film. If copious thrilling, you can use this for up to 36 hours of listening to harmony or 6 hours of study your beloved film on its 3.5-crawl widescreen.

3. Sony BDP-S350 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player. With its precision cinema progressive HD, this Blu-ray Disc player is the exact gift for your father or brother. With its thorough HD 1080/60p and 24p True Cinema Video Output, they cannot say no to your appeal right after!

4. Apple iPod contact 16 GB (2nd Generation). An unbelievable facility of 3,500 songs, 10,000 photos, or 20 hours of cartridge, this 16 GB iPod contact from the 2nd generation is a must give for your rising kids aged 12-15 y/o.

5. Canon PowerShot A590IS 8MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom. Suiting for everybody this feast, capture the magical moments with this 8.0 mega pixel digital camera that allows you to go broaden with its 4x optical vision-stabilized zoom. You also do not poverty to fret of getting low batteries and has no vent to renew because aA batteries powered this.

6. Garmin nüvi 350 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator. If you are belief of a gift to your adventurous father or sibling, this is the one you are looking for! A compact 700 MB GPS navigator with an amazing MP3/audiobook player, photo viewer, and world move regulator, this will definitely give them the right directions lacking the hassles. You can simply place this on your vehicle windshield with included suction cup.

7. Apple iPod classic 120 GB Black (6th Generation). Oozing with thousands of songs, photos, or videos, this 120 GB iPod classic from the hottest 6th generation is best for your kids aged 18 and above. 8. Apple iPod join 32 GB Black (2nd Generation). For youngsters aged 12 to 15 time old, this 32 GB clever of storing up to 7,000 songs, 10,000 photos, or 40 hours of video is certainly the one on top of their Christmas file.

9. Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens (Black). Perfect for the full family, this digital camera has an astonishing 12.2 mega pixel CMOS antenna that entirely brings films to honest life. It also has a sturdy 3.0-creep ceremony that is LCD and better Auto focus and framing regard.

10. Canon PowerShot SD1100IS 8MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Blue). For those who just fondness charming pictures anywhere and anytime, this one is for you! A very near and light digital camera with 8.0 mega pixel CCD, face detection, and a shift detection technology that automatically saves your pictures from being vague. So if you want to give this Christmas, make clearly that you will give only the best because your loved ones deserve only the best this holiday! Hurry and elect from our Top 10 Electronics Christmas Gifts for 2009 and New Gadgets for 2009 Go early and use our list for the easiest and convenient holiday shopping New Gadgets for 2009.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Netopia - Microsoft partnership

While most internet shops have closed business during the year, leading internet café chain Netopia is planning to open more than 12 new branches in 2009, adding that the global economic slowdown has little or no effect on them.

Netopia President George H. Tan said that they are setting aside P25 million to P30 million in budget for the projected expansion. They will be eyeing spaces inside the malls around the country for the new branches.

With the cost of computer equipments going down, and also the prices of crude oil, Netopia is very optimistic in their planned expansion.

Although Tan admitted that they have closed some 25 company-owned branches during the year which were considered as ‘non-contributing’ outlet during their ‘period of consolidation.’ Said decision was brought about by the then increasing prices of oil, because “foot traffic in the mall went down as people did not want to go out,” Tan added.

Learning from previous mistakes and seeing new opportunities now, Tan said that they have learned on how to identify a good location, what should be the ideal size, and how to market if effectively. They (Netopia) are now undertaking new marketing strategies to set them apart from their competitors.

And just recently, Netopia was able to enter into a partnership with technology giant Microsoft Philippines. The partnership will see Microsoft displaying their products inside the EGG-Netopia store in the SM Mall of Asia. Windows-based consumer electronics products like computers, mobile phones and video games, among others, will be showcased in this joint project which was called the Windows Technology Zone.

Tan expects that this will bring in more customers to their places, thereby increasing the traffic as it becomes known in the market. Although Netopia will not be handling the selling of these products, they will refer customers who will inquire to authorized dealers.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pinoy e-Jeepney is Featured at Discovery Channel

We have the solution at hand, but somehow, bureaucracy and other self-vested interests from controlling industries have formed such a big hurdle that we cannot fully maximize the potentials of the e-jeepneys. With the international exposure that it has recently, perhaps this promising invention would get the much needed push to be fully developed for our country’s main thoroughfare.

The e-jeepney or electronic jeepney which was developed by Solar Electric Company, Inc. (Solarco) was featured in the Discovery Channel’s Ecopolis, a technology TV program hosted by Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Daniel Kammen.

Kammen presented the e-jeepney in the show as one that may prove to have the most impact in reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Although in the said episode, the e-jeepney failed to pass the test, because it was only effectively able to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 4%.

But that was understandable, because the Ecopolis (where it was tested) was designed in such a way that everybody would be driving their own cars and would not take public transport. Dr. Kammen pointed out that if everybody would be taking the public transport, the e-jeepney would effectively reduce carbon emissions by 80%.

With the exposure that it got from the Discovery Chanel, it might get more interest and support. Hopefully from the parties that can really do something to bring this project into its full potential.

Currently, the e-jeepney is being pilot tested in the cities of Makati and Puerto Princesa in Luzon and Bacolod in the Visayas. It can carry 14 people, including the driver and can run for 60 to 90 kilometers after an overnight charging from an ordinary wall power outlet.

The e-jeepney was launched in July last year. It is a good solution to high fuel prices, but aside from the a few units on a pilot run, the Land Transportation Office has yet to make it fully road-legal. (Source: Pinoy Business)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Scientists find hole in Earth's magnetic field

LOS ANGELES, CA. – Recent satellite observations have revealed the largest breach yet seen in the magnetic field that protects Earth from most of the sun's violent blasts, researchers reported Tuesday. The discovery was made last summer by Themis, a fleet of five small NASA satellites.

Scientists have long known that the Earth's magnetic field, which guards against severe space weather, is similar to a drafty old house that sometimes lets in violent eruptions of charged particles from the sun. Such a breach can cause brilliant auroras or disrupt satellite and ground communications.

Observations from Themis show the Earth's magnetic field occasionally develops two cracks, allowing solar wind — a stream of charged particles spewing from the sun at 1 million mph — to penetrate the Earth's upper atmosphere.

Last summer, Themis calculated a layer of solar particles to be at least 4,000 miles thick in the outermost part of the Earth's magnetosphere, the largest tear of the protective shield found so far.

"It was growing rather fast," Themis scientist Marit Oieroset of the University of California, Berkeley told an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Such breaches are temporary, and the one observed last year lasted about an hour, Oieroset said.

Solar flares are a potential danger to astronauts in orbit but generally are not a risk to people on the surface of the Earth. (Yahoo! Science News)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hands-on review: Sony Xperia X1

It's not an iPhone, and for many that's half the appeal: Sony's $800 (unlocked) Xperia X1 is the most expensive mainstream cell phone on the market, but it's one of the sexiest handsets around that doesn't start with an "i" and end in "phone."

The main X1 interface is unlike any other handset you've tried, and you'll notice the difference immediately as you punch into the XPanel home screen, a custom dashboard that lets you quickly -- and stylishly -- jump from one application to another, usually with just a single touch. You get nine panes to work with. By default they include an FM radio, calendar, clock, photo viewer, and the Opera web browser (a much appreciated improvement over the IE browser included with Windows Mobile, atop which all of this is built). Some Xperia-specific apps, including a bizarre system that uses colored fish as alerts, are also on tap to baffle you for months. Dig into the settings and you can mix and match the apps you want to appear and download new apps from Sony's website.

The phone is a horizontal slider, and when closed the front of the phone features a three-inch touchscreen (with a whopping 800 x 480 pixel resolution) with a small collection of buttons beneath it. Of special note is the center action button, which also works as a tiny touchpad in many applications while you drag your fingertip around on it.

Flip the phone on its side and slide the screen up and you get a full QWERTY keyboard, a real blessing for those of us cursed with the inability to type on touchscreens. The buttons on the keyboard are a bit too flush for my taste -- typing with two thumbs didn't work well for me -- but it beats tapping on the screen with a stylus. The design is very sturdy (and not too heavy at 5.6 ounces), and the phone, on the whole, feels like it will be able to handle multiple drops to the floor.

Other features include a nice 3.2 megapixel camera (though it's dog slow to focus) and a microSD slot (no Memory Stick for this bad boy), which is located under the battery panel cover. The phone supports 3G, but only if you use an AT&T SIM card, but it also has Wi-Fi built in to pick up the slack no matter what network you're on. GPS (and Google Maps) are also in the box. I haven't done a full battery drain test on the handset, but Sony rates it for six hours. Judging by experience and the size of the battery, that seems like a fair guess.

In addition to notes above, I have a few smallish complaints with the phone. The biggest problem is that Windows Mobile underlies the innovative XPanel, and I found I had to scurry back into WM more often than I'd like in order to get certain things done. I wish Sony would have enhanced the OS it uses on its Walkman handsets instead of building on Windows... though I do understand the benefits that Windows Mobile gets you, including email and application viewers. But still, do we really need both Opera and IE on one handset?

The X1 also has some general performance problems: Apps load so slowly that I often found myself clicking a button twice, which would then inadvertently undo what I was trying to do while I waited for the phone to catch up. Everything is kind of pokey, even the web browser. Whether it's a slow CPU or all those layers of OS that slows the Xperia down I don't know, but it's bothersome to the point of frustration.

Lastly there's that little matter of price tag. Who will pay $800 for a cell phone? No matter how excited I am about the mini-touchpad and the XPanel system, I can't justify spending nearly a grand on this handset. Subsidize it to $200 with a contract and I'm on board. (Source: Yahoo! Tech)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Coming in 2009: Nokia's touchscreen N97

I thought we were done with big phone announcements for the year, but it looks like Nokia had one last trick up its sleeves. Behold the N97, a sleek new touchscreen handset with 3G data access, a slide-out QWERTY keypad, and customizable widgets. Count on a hefty price tag, though.

Nokia invited a small group of reporters and bloggers—including me—to check out the N97 (due in the first half of 2009) at the Midtown Manhattan Nokia store Monday night. We only got a brief look (hence, this is not a review), but from what I've seen so far, the N97 looks like a significant step up from the 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia's first stab at a touchcreen phone.

First, the basics: We're talking 3G HSDPA access (a version of the N97 will be tailored for U.S. HSDPA networks), GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (including a stereo Bluetooth profile), and a whopping 32GB of on-board memory—plus a microSD memory slot, for a potential total of 48GB of storage. (Compare that to just 16GB of flash storage—tops—for the priciest iPhone 3G).

The N97 boasts a sharp-looking 3.5-inch touchscreen (same size as the iPhone); slide the screen to the side and you'll find a backlit, full-QWERTY keypad. With the phone open, the touchscreen tilts at a 30-degree angle relative to the keypad—a nice touch.

Of course, a slide-out keypad also means more bulk; in the N97's case, that means 5.2 ounces, with a girth of 0.62 inches, which puts it somewhere between the iPhone 3G and the bulky T-Mobile G1.

Besides its QWERTY keypad, the Symbian S60-powered N71 boasts another cool trick: Customizable "widgets" for the home screen that let you tap into your e-mail, upcoming events, favorite contacts, music, oft-used applications, and more. Five of the rectangular widgets fit on the home screen at one time, and you can tap and drag them around the display as you see fit. Nokia reps said they'll be encouraging developers to cook up their own widgets, so expect examples from Facebook, MySpace, Friendster ... you name it.

Unlike the Noka 5800, the N97 is a full-on Nseries handset, and that means access to Nokia's "Ovi" suite of online tools, including new universal messaging features, online file storage, and the ability to sync driving directions—from PC to phone, and vice versa after you've completed your journey—with Nokia Maps (now enhanced with topographical features and satellite views). Also on tap: N-Gage gaming.

Multimedia features look promising, including 30 frame-per-second video playback, a 3.5mm headset jack, TV out, and a 5-megapixel camera capable of VGA-quality video capture—nice.

The N97 is slated to get the same robust messaging features that I've seen on Nokia's other Nseries handsets, including POP, IMAP, and Exchange e-mail access. If you don't want to use the slide-out keypad for composing messages, you can tap on a virtual keypad (both numeric and QWERTY) or use the phone's handwriting-recognition features (with help from the included stylus). As far as Net surfing goes, the impressive Nokia HTML Web browser—complete with Flash support—is present and accounted for.

Overall, sounds pretty cool—but keep in mind that Nokia's phones (especially its Nseries handsets) are never cheap, and the N97 is no exception. While U.S. pricing hasn't been set yet, the N97 will go for a cool (unsubsidized) 550 euros when it debuts in Europe next year. I'm guessing an unlocked version of the phone will cost in the $500-$700 range once it arrives Stateside ... ouch.

Stay tuned for a full review once I get my hands on a review unit. (Reprinted from Yahoo! Tech)