The Nokia 5800: A Perfect Bum Tool

This lovely piece of Finnish cellphone has been with me for more than a week already after I succumbed to my wife’s persistent request to replace my 3-year old Motorola L6. Besides, the old cellphone is becoming to be the cause of failure-to-communicate since its speaker conked out due to countless drops and misuse. And needless to say, in my current bum status, not clearly hearing an initial job interview over the phone is a no-no—justification, justification, justification.

So far since I bought it though, I haven’t had any job calls. But why should I care, this phone after all isn’t just a phone. If there’s one phone that will make one happy even while his much awaited calls seem unlikely to happen, it is the Nokia 5800. There’s just so much to this phone that job hunt frustrations can be easily forgotten and that killing time can become a habit.

The Nokia 5800’s touch pad meets expectations although I’ve read that upgrading the firmware version from V11 to V21 will improve its response. Right now I care less and might not care about it in the near future after learning from Nokia Care that it will take at least two hours to do the upgrade.

This model is part of Nokia’s ExpressMusic series and true enough it sounds crisp either through its earphones or its loudspeaker. I don’t recommend connecting it though as an input to the car’s stereo as the MP3 quality varies thus affecting the volume of each music file that other than watching out for potholes while driving, one would have to deal with adjusting the music volume all at the same time.

The Nokia 5800 comes with a 3.2 MP that is great for shots under bright light—e.g., daytime—and just like any other low quality/resolution cam, it doesn’t perform well under low light conditions. But you get what you paid for, right? Paying P14,900 for a phone one shouldn’t expect an SLR-like quality. Don’t get me wrong though, for a bum, for a blogger (both of which best describes me), this is more than enough. I just hate it though that there’s no option to turn the camera shutter sound totally off (there are 3 other settings but none that makes shooting discreet). It’s a skeuomorph and I don’t like it.

Shots of places in Manila taken using the Nokia 5800.

I love most of the videos (mp4 format) that comes along with this phone. The resolution is unbelievable. Even those I’ve shot came out almost on par with my Sony handheld video recorder. However, I discovered that the mp4 format has to be converted at least to wmw for it to be played once transferred to the PC. Good thing I was able to download a converter from Freewarehome.com.

Others raise their eyebrows at the guitar pick that comes along with the strap of the cellphone. But I don’t, as I prefer using it over the stylus, except when I’m in the mood to kill time by texting using the handwriting feature which I’m now starting to learn and appreciate.

With the hectic time I have right now both at school and at home where my favorite photo subjects are—my wife and kid, it might take me another week more to discover and learn the other features that this perfect bum tool has. I’m just wishing though that next time I’d hear another lovely HR voice saying, “…Mr. Nacionales, this is to inform you that you are scheduled for an interview…” When that time comes, I’m quite sure she’d hear me clearly say, “Yes…I’m coming”.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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The Story of the Feather Pillow

I have been longing to tell this story that I heard from the previous parish priest in Manggahan, Cavite. And now is just the perfect time.

There once was woman who approached a priest and said, “Father, I need to confess about having spread gossips about my friend. What should I do?” The priest then said, “Go grab a feather pillow, climb up to the belfry, tear the pillow and spread all of its content and come back here.”

The woman surprised about the priest’s weird instruction, proceeded anxiously and went to grab a feather pillow and followed just as told by the priest. After a short while, panting heavily after running up and right back down, she happily told the priest, “Father, it’s all done, just like you have said, now what?” Smiling, the priest then said, “Go out of the church and gather every feather that came out of the pillow.”

The woman’s eyes widened in disbelief and blurted, “But father that is just impossible, some of the feathers have been blown by the wind so far from the belfry and so far away from the church’s ground. I just can’t collect every feather even if I wanted to.”

“Miss, that’s exactly the same thing you did when you spread the gossips about your friend. No matter how you try getting everything back, you just can’t do enough to recall what has been said”, the priest simply replied back. The woman shook and bowed her head in regret.

***

I can very well relate to this story especially during the time when I was one of the board members of our village. As much as I’d like to unify the erring officers, it did not happen. So much have been said already, unfortunately not to the concerned person but to other people in the village. This made one issue that may have been resolved if discussed among the people involve but it became one that cannot be fixed anymore as each of those who have heard about it has re-told the story to others—but this time most likely with a twist and it’s either more or less of the original story thus complicating everything in the process.

Getting hopeless and fed up, I decided to quit. But it didn’t stop there as until now I am affected. I hate to think about it, but I am also a victim of loose tongues and idle minds. I don’t know now what I’ll do next, but we’ll soon see.

***

This story also applies to the current hot topic in Philippine media—the Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili sex video scandal. It’s a pity, but the video has spread rapidly, thanks but no thanks to the producers of these pirated copies.

This is one hopeless case. Even if our law enforcement agencies, the OMB (Optical Media Board) and our beloved Congress get to round up every bit of copies and stop its further proliferation, some of it will likely remain inside hidden in private hard drives or even in the innocent looking minute flash drives. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Ending work on a Monday

“Tell me why I don’t like Mondays” – Bob Gelfof and Johnny Fingers

“I hate Mondays” – Garfield

Yesterday was the weirdest Monday that I can recall so far. The following are the reasons why:

On my way to work the discussion over the radio was about an episode of the Oprah show where she approved of her guest’s suggestion of introducing teenage girls to vibrators-–and to mention that several Filipina girls called agreeing to the idea.

***

The parking lot was already full when I arrived. If my memory serves me right, it’s been months since it has become one of the most deserted places in our company. For a moment I actually thought that our company isn’t closing after all. Wishful thinking.

***

I am starting my first day of the week listening to one of my most hated things to do: selling (outbound call center account) but for some weird reasons I ended up enjoying the simulation activity. Isn’t that great? So does this mean that I might have the potential to sell?

***

Lastly, after reading one farewell email coming after the other, it has finally dawned on me that this is my last week at work, together with other identified employees. It now feels I’m starting to be sucked into the deep void of the bumhood’s black hole and conceding to the fact that this is really it, I had to excuse myself from our call center training just to compose my own farewell message.

Here’s what I wrote in haste:

Friends and co-workers,

This is my last week at and I’d like to say the following: Thank you, Sorry and Goodbye.

Thanks. For the wonderful years I had with every people I work with.Thanks to my past and present mentors, colleagues and subordinates. Rest assured that every encounter I had with each and every one of you gave me experience and knowledge, and it has made me a better person than I was years ago. Of course, I would like to thank my very recent group who welcomed me like I was already one of the experienced engineers—I really appreciate it. Thanks for the opportunity.

Sorry. I apologize to those whom I might have offended in one way or the other; it’s just some times the word constructive doesn’t come together with confrontation. And while I’m at it I’d like to say to those who have offended me (or at least they thought so) as well that I won’t be leaving with any hard feelings.

Goodbye. I’d like to say goodbye those who are yet to leave—whether they like it or not. And lastly, I’d like to say good luck to everyone whether you’re continuing to Vietnam or be pursuing a different life after Intel.

Keep in touch. See you around folks.

Although I hate the fact that it isn’t a resignation letter (I haven’t written one in my entire career), I sent it out of course to almost everyone I’ve worked with; but like one lit up fuse flickering slowly towards a barrel of explosives, I became somewhat sentimental about the whole thing only when I was on my way home.

All of a sudden I find it ironic that at the start of this week is the beginning of the end of the long years working for what I’ve known as a great place to work. Hasta la vista Intel folks.

***

I have figured out later in the day that the reason why the parking lot was full is because some of my co-workers are already processing their clearances and some brought their car along with them. There is also a job opportunity expo participated by a number of companies and probably the representatives parked their vehicles ahead of some of the employees like me. This is one thing that will be missed by most because if there’s one company that doesn’t have reserved parking slots, it would be Intel. It is only here that ”sorry boss, you’re late…go park somewhere” applies.

***

The sight and feel of yesterday’s job opportunity expo was unexpectedly great – maybe because there isn’t much crowd unlike in the malls. The   participating companies range from several business franchisors to cater to those who have finally decided to be entrepreneurs; the ever familiar semiconductors were also present for those who haven’t gotten enough of the manufacturing environment; and of course there were call center companies which lately have become one of my interests. Well, isn’t that great?

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Relearning English the Call Center Way

In my quest to learn English I started attending a call center training that will go on for one week. Although I prepared myself to be corrected, all that mind setting did little to help suppress the shock I got the moment I heard our trainer speak. I haven’t heard such good and fluent English spoken in person for a long while.

The fluency of our trainer got me humbled and speechless. It made me feel that I was totally ignorant of this language the whole time and this may be because even if I have been blogging a lot for a couple of years already, I never had regular English conversation and if ever I had such chance to speak with someone at work, the quality did not come any near to what I am hearing inside this class. I am not saying that there is none in our current company who can speak English impressively but it is just that there is a very big difference compared with the call center standard. And it has something to do with what is called the “American thwang.”

According to our trainer, learning the American accent or pronunciation—funny that even this word is hard to pronounce—will be the majority of our training on top of my favorite grammar discussions. We also practiced listening skills and yesterday, we did tongue twisters that by the end of the class my tongue was just as tired as my mind.

Our trainer also suggested that we evaluate our typing skills by downloading Typing Master—I discovered can still do a decent 50 wpm with 95% accuracy for English words.

There will be three more sessions to go and I am eager to learn more. As painful and embarrassing as it may seem, I will open my mind to what is being taught, for this week I am relearning English. I kill me.

I’m all mixed up once again. It’s just more than 24 hours and I’ve already done several things not so related to each other but has nevertheless kept myself busy, frustrated, confused, and excited – may not be in proper order but may apply all at one point. Yes. I’m once again having that chopsuey day. Well, just to remain optimistic there’s always a good thing about bad things.  At least it doesn’t make my day SSDD.

***

After a meeting with the rest of our village’s board of directors yesterday and with our treasurer walking out of the meeting, I finally filed my formal resignation this morning as well. It’s not because I’m fed up with any of them but it’s because of the troubling effect that goes along with the treasurer walking out and her probable termination.

So this morning while trying to decide between eating proper breakfast or leaving on time for one of the most important things I’ll be doing in the next few months to come, with fingers tightly crossed, I hurriedly typed what has been going on inside my mind for weeks, my resignation letter. It’s about time.

Emerald court
I miss the days when this is a common sight.

I really hate doing it but I did the best that I could to explain why I’m leaving this time. I got several compelling reasons and one of which is living a quiet life away from the baseless accusations, gossips and intrigues which are sadly done by elders who are supposed act as well-meaning advisers in the community. Although these may not be directly addressed to me I can’t bear hearing it anymore and this isn’t the environment that I want our baby boy to witness – this is one major reason.

Now I’m back, hopefully, to living as a private individual. Next time, I’ll share some of the homeowners association woos and woes.

***

Other than filing my resignation which I just realize was actually my first as I never had the chance to make one since I joined a team, organization or even a company, I started the first step to another milestone in my life. (Incidentally, I’ll be leaving my current job without it again)

This morning I went to Ateneo Rockwell to register for their MBA Regis program course entrance exam. Although, their building wasn’t exactly as vivid as what they have on their website’s header, I was still thrilled and excited the moment I saw it from afar and it got even more intense when I came inside. The place itself had this professional feel and the surrounding appears to be a very conducive place to learn. What especially caught my attention though was the solemn chapel inside the campus. I’m wondering now if this is filled to its capacity during exams with most of the students asking for divine intervention. Anyway, just in case it is, I’ll just bear kneeling outside.

Ateneo Rockwell's chapel
Law students do pray here. Photo by: Michael Gomez

The whole registration process went very orderly. I don’t know if this is always the case but when I arrived at the registrar’s counter, there were only four other people transacting and even if I had to go down to the cashier’s office to pay for the exam fee everything was still a breeze. When I left home this morning, I was prepared to be in a long line of students and have asked myself for extra patience. But then Ateneo’s automated system changed my perception of a traditional registration flow – it took me just about 10 minutes to finish the whole transaction and I was happily on my way home just in time for a late lunch and a well-deserved siesta – considering that it’s from Cavite to and from Makati being completed all in the morning wasn’t bad at all.

***

My blogging addiction has stepped up. In my desire to monetize my blog, I’ve been searching for days already on how to do it properly. I’ve also researched on what free or paid blog providers will cater monetization. Somehow, I discovered that in this case the best things aren’t free. And this led me back to Typepad.com.

I made the first steps in signing up with Typepad a couple of weeks ago but I was taken aback when I saw that its 14-day trial period would require me to enter my credit card number. Yesterday, as I ran out of choices and with my eagerness to sign back, I read and re-read the trial period conditions which to my relief say that I won’t be charge if I cancel before the 14-day period. And so I proceeded.

Sadly, my first impression about this paid blogging site isn’t good. For one, my expectation of Typepad being better than WordPress faded soon enough as I had a hard time using its dashboard. I find its features falling short of WordPress’ and just a bit better than Blogger.com. I still have 13 days to exploit it, but as of now I’m already revisiting my Blogger account and have done some re-layouts and modifications. I can see that it’s starting to look a lot like Typepad now. It’s a shame. But of course, I’m not quitting on Typepad yet. In the next days to come, I’ll spend some time using it and will give it another chance to prove its worth. Hopefully, at the end of the trial period is a win-win situation.

Here’s Typepad’s dash.

typepad

Here’s WordPress’.

WP dash.jpg

Now take your pick. I’ll bet a day’s worth of transport fare.

***

Chapel photo credit: Michael Gomez

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Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Practicality = Piracy?

Piracy

On my way to work yesterday, the discussion over the radio got me so immersed into it that I had to maintain the minimum focus required to drive safely. And how can I not, the condition was perfect: nice summer sun, tuned in to Magic 89.9 FM’s morning show with Mo, Mojo and Grace Lee, and they’re talking about my favorite topic—piracy.

I have a love-hate relationship with this radio show. But more often than not, I tune in to this station as I find this lively trio a great companion especially when driving alone and sleepy. Some people call or classify such show as talk radio because most the time there’s incessant blabbing about almost everything under the sun. And when I say everything, it really does mean almost everything. Thus, making the show as one of, if not the only, the most controversial morning shows.

The most dominant character among them is Mo who’s not only a fast talker but is likewise full of ideas that some of it are out of this world, downright offending and some are just not even fit to be discussed during a morning show wherein every mom, dad, uncle, aunt and other mature individuals may be listening and may be with kids at the same time. I’ve heard him discuss about premarital sex, religion, politics, lesbianism and other taboo stuffs, and of course, piracy.

So yesterday was no exemption. The moment I heard him mention the word piracy, I slowed down and listened – the group’s discussion and their exchanges with the callers were interesting albeit I find some of it just irritating. As usual.

Mo was once again defending and reiterating his stand that although he doesn’t directly promote piracy on his radio show, he sees a lot of advantage and benefit out of it other than the obvious difference in price between the licensed and the bootleg. One of the things he pointed out is about the movie industry. According to him, because of piracy which started several years ago, the original films have become available in the Philippines almost at the same time when it is released from its country of origin.

According to him, years ago it would take one film to reach the Philippines almost a couple of months after Hollywood, for example, releases it to cinemas in the US. And this is where piracy comes in handy. Most probably while the film is rolling somewhere in the US, some unscrupulous cinema insider or viewer is recording a copy of the film and immediately distributes it to their contacts inside or outside of the country. Now these contacts sell the film’s copy to people who are so eager to watch it. So when the time comes for the original film to be shown in theaters, the revenue flops. Of course, who wants to pay and watch a re-run?  Simple reasoning, yet rude and yet practical. And this, according to Mo, is when producers eventually learn and realize that they need to compete or lose their market share to illegal distributors. At this point of the argument, I caught myself nodding in conformity.

Another case that Mo presented or re-presented (as I heard about it a couple of times already) is about computer software piracy. He believes that it is the only way for poor nations, like ours, and its people to compete and put them at par with the rest of the world when it comes to computer literacy. Although, I agree with the need to compete, I don’t however agree with how it is achieved by piracy.

As much as I hated it, Mo’s point got me thinking. Quite frankly, I’ve been pondering lately if I’m cursed for knowing that piracy is stealing. Often times some people, like most of my friends, see it as plain practicality and the need to learn about one software is one good justification to get hold of its bootleg counterpart. I’m not saying that these people are bad. I might say though that they are misinformed or have chosen to keep a blind eye about it.

As I end my driving until I got out of Intel’s parking lot, my mind was occupied with so many questions just from the 20 minutes I spent listening to the radio.

So am I not being practical then?

Am I stupid to believe that I shouldn’t be buying any of these bootleg stuffs? Or am I now alone in this belief or advocacy?

Will my next employer reject me because I did not learn as much software as I can because I don’t have the guts to buy a pirated copy?

Am I going to be left behind then in the end? Do I have to steal to learn?

Is it a good thing that while I teach my boy about good manners and right conduct, he’s watching a pirated educational DVD?

Do I need to seek professional advice to get over with my firm stand against it?

Maybe I’ll think all about it. Although I’m still hoping that in the end my answers will still be a big NO unless they change the law against it. And hopefully whatever the reasons are why most people continue to patronize pirated products, I still hope (or is wish?) that soon enough the fight against piracy will win because I really believe that behind those cheap illegal goods that some of us enjoy others are suffering just because of it.

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Photo credit: vikrameb

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

What The Foos Is All About

What do you do when you have really nothing more to do? The dreaded question that I had to ask myself today. I finally got tired of staring at the interactive online training and as much as I’d like to attend an instructor-led session, most of it has reached its walk-in participants limit. Now,  I was among those left inside our cold gray cubicles facing chances of catching colds, boredom, carpal tunnel syndrome or drowsiness at the very least.

There must be something else out there that would keep me occupied until the end of our working hours. Well, I checked and re-checked emails; refilled my coffee mug for the nth time; got myself exhausted with cubicle hopping with the hope of getting someone to talk to; and have listened to every Journey mp3 songs in my laptop’s hard drive. If I have to repeat the whole process again I’d be so damned and lonely. The long line of cubicles in my area is so empty that someone opening a trash can several columns away can be easily heard.

As desperation sinks in while I sit in my ergo chair watching my wrist- watch’s second hand tick by, it was when I heard the most redeeming invitation of the day. “Cris, laro tayo foosball.” Hmm, the last word sounds familiar yet so foreign. But who cares, when there’s no more work to do what else is next? Yes, play is next.

Moments later I found myself in front of the table with a recessed center and small plastic red and blue men appearing at first to be skewered to stainless rods and with its handles protruding on each sides of the table. I was elbow to elbow with another colleague while we try to push, pull and twist the rods to flick some miniature white soccer ball against those from the other team. I was the slowest but I think I was the happiest player that time. It was my first time to play with the most popular table in our company nowadays—the foosball table.

foos
(Image from Flickr)

The foosball table was introduced last year and was first placed in one of the activity rooms along with the billiards table. Since then, several employees have filled their curiosity and have even snuck out during work hours just to play it. It didn’t take long for them to get hooked and when management noticed about the missing headcount inside the production floor, it was later transferred in front of the canteen area to deter employees from just hanging around. Even then, it didn’t fail to attract more fans. Consequently, it got an infamous reputation from most managers—I was one back then.

After watching the expert players intently as before and having played two games (despite being terrible and awkward) already, I now know why it has such following. I discovered that it isn’t like just any child’s play that one aimlessly hits the ball until it passes the stiff goalie. This game requires strategy between partners. It likewise involves skillful ball handling, which to my surprise my partner and our opponent possess. Today I become a fan of this game.

My realization about enjoying this game may be too late already. But with the current business condition wherein work has significantly slowed down and we’ve got nothing more than time, I guess I’ll be seeing a lot of those skewered plastic men in the next days ahead. I still have less than two more months to go and I might as well enjoy it and spend some time learning the back and wrist-breaking game of foosball. If only I could patiently wait behind the long queue of eager players.

Picture credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!