Getting Over Google

Google announced that it will soon be retiring two of its services: Google Health and Google Powermeter.

Google Health

 

Google Health is an advocacy service to “organize, track, monitor, and act” on an individual’s health information.  Being able to store and manage health information enables one to set personal health goals and track progress along the way.

 

Google PowermeterPowerMeter is another free Google service that aims to help saving household energy consumption by providing tools to track energy usage and predict costs.

These two services aimed to help people significantly. Unfortunately, the uptake for both was not worthy of Google’s effort to continue the services. How sad

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Nokia Nine

Right after officially dropping off Symbian as its primary mobile platform, Nokia announced its first Meego OS-based smartphone, the Nokia N9. I must say that Nokia is finally learning how to evolve.

Awesome aesthetics and screen sophistication are Nokia N9’s best offerings.

Here are my picks among its features:

  • 3.9-inch curved scratch-resistant AMOLED screen
  • Multi-touch gestures (swipe, reverse pinch to zoom, etc.)
  • Near-Field Communication (NFC)
  • First smartphone with Dolby Digital Plus
  • And of course, the minimalist design!

Other features you may like:

  • 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus camera
  • Up to 64GB internal storage
  • Pre-loaded applications (Skype, Facebook, Vimeo, Twitter, AccuWeather, FourSquare, etc.)
  • One-piece polycarbonate body

Whatever application you’re using, a simple swipe from the edge of the screen takes you home. This eliminates even the lone HOME button that Apple keeps.

N9 will be available to the general market later this; for sure it will be a hit to Nokia lovers.

More info at http://swipe.nokia.com

Welcome WiMax

wimax

globe

Globe Telecom is trailblazing another technology in the country. In the late 90s, it pioneered text messaging. This time, it’s WiMax.

March 25 formally marked the birth of this wireless technology in the Philippines although it has been pilot-tested in Cavite four years ago.

Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard (also called Broadband Wireless Access), WiMax (stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) provides up to 3 Mbit/s wireless broadband speed and is meant to complement the Wi-Fi technology, if not to replace it eventually.

Under Globe’s promise of rolling out hundreds of WiMax sites, its latest offering of broadband network is deemed as the first and biggest 2.5GHz WiMax (802.16e, the current version) in South East Asia. The service is initially available in selected areas in South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The WiMax package is initially priced at P795 per month and comes with a money-back guarantee.

The Demise of the Towers

All-in-one desktops are becoming more and more popular these days, thanks largely to the influential ripples of innovation from Apple. iMac started it all. HP, Sony, Gateway and Dell followed suit.

What’s good about copycats is that consumers end up having many choices, thus improving competition among manufacturers. iMac is the prime choice but if you are forced-fed with Microsoft Windows at work like me, the PC counterparts look enticing, too.

My top pick is the Gateway One. It has a 400GB hard drive that can beGateway One All-in-One Desktop expanded up to 2 terabytes, Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, ATI Radeon HD 2600 graphics and Wi-Fi 802.11n. As regards good looks, it boasts of a black-glass finish, a 19-inch widescreen LCD (1440 x 900 resolution), built-in speakers and 1.3-megapixel webcam, wireless mouse and keyboard. Peripheral ports are arrayed on a power brick which can be hidden away to finish that clutter-free look.

It is a borrowed beauty but it makes a lot of sense. Aspiring moguls, toss away those towers now.

The CURE Has Come

Perhaps the reality has sinked into the senses of the National Telecommunications Commission. Instead of coaxing the mobile service providers to offer free SMS, it now opted to lower cross-network text and voice services by reducing the interconnection rates. But Filipinos are persistent. If we can’t uproot a whole tree, we’ll just chop it down.

So goes a new outcry around: If we can’t have free text messaging, then prepaid load must not have expiry dates. Seem simple? Well, not really. When that happens, the telcos may stop selling low-denomination reloads for cost-efficiency in their operations. As I pointed out in my previous blog entry, we can only look forward to lower charges for wireless services and longer prepaid load validity.

On a lighter note, Smart Communications will be pioneering Asia’s first ad-funded mobile phone network this month through its subsidiary Connectivity Unlimited Resourse Enterprise (CURE). CURE aims to provide mobile services for free by “pushing” mobile advertisements to its subscribers. The sponsoring brands or entities will “pay” for the charges that would otherwise be shouldered by the wireless consumers.

It is a promising venture and if it proves to be as successful as the free TV and free email that we enjoy now, we won’t get shocked by “Check Operator Services” or “SMS Barred” warnings from our phones again. Who would buy non-expiring prepaid load by then? That would be the time to afford ourselves an Apple iPhone, a Nokia 8800, or a MOTOROKR E8.

The Politics of Free Texts

In the midst of high inflation rates, oil crisis, and the plunging economy, the government is now pushing for free text messaging in the country. It sounds salutory at first but when you piece together the administration’s political jigsaw puzzle, it looks more like a reversal of the President’s “rather-be-right-than-popular” initiative. Just recently, it was MERALCO being pounded for ownership and billing disputes. Now, it is the telecommunications companies’ turn on the judgment seat. The former was more logical, though.

Putting political intentions aside, free short messaging service (SMS) here is impractical and barely possible. The Philippines is the world’s texting capital accounting for more than 300 million text messages sent daily. Unlike in other countries where SMS is a supplement to their primary revenue-generating voice services, many Filipinos spend more for text messaging than for voice calls especially the prepaid subscribers. Calls are usually made only when there are very important or urgent matters to relay or when text messages become incomprehensible.

The National Telecommunications Commission ruled out that SMS, being a value-added service of wireless networks, must be free-of-charge. In a land of ten-peso (about $0.24) prepaid airtime reload and 30-peso SIM cards, asking for freebies can mean getting mediocre services and hurting the underground economy.

We are already complaining of dead spots (i.e. areas beyond wireless coverage), delayed or lost messages, and erroneous load deductions in prepaid accounts. How then can we be assured that the upgrading of network infrastructures and improvement of cellular techonologies will continue if a major (in the case of the Philippines) wireless service suddenly becomes a public service? SMS servers will surely clog as the quantity of messages balloons up while network capacity sits still.

The income of cellphone dealers and small retail stores will also get dented as prepaid reloading demand will significantly drop down. Reloading business may seem marginal but it actually caters to the majority of the local mobile market.

The healthy competition within the telecom industry is already a potent force in driving technology forward and its prices downward. Of course, consumers will appreciate lower voice call rates, longer validity period for prepaid load, and cheaper inter-network messaging. Nevertheless, SMS must not be a free service for now as it can spawn text spams and other abuses, affect related businesses, and encourage further insensibilities among texters.

If the politicians really want to offer us some things for free, I’d rather that they be a transparent government free from corruption and a globally-competitive country that we would rather measure by Gross National Happiness like Sudan’s than by Gross National Product which feels nothing more than a press release each time. Let the cost of text messaging send itself down at its own rate.

The best things in life are free. The better ones come cheap. The worst are desperately trying to win votes for the next elections.

Wanted: Philantrophists & Gadget Geeks

Sony has consistently been on the forefront of cutting-edge technology eversince, keeping its loyal market satisfied and everyone else salivating at every gadget that the company releases. From the first Walkman in 1979, Hi-Fi’s, Playstations, HandyCams, Wegas, Bravias, and Vaios have graced our homes and shaped our lives, successfully earning a reputation for topnotch quality.

Sony DSC-T2Just few months ago, a newborn was the 8.1-megapixel Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-T2 digital camera with 4 gigabytes of internal memory; touch-sensitive widescreen LCD; scrapbook, retouching and photo album functions; full HD capability and the impressive Smile Shutter feature. Smile Shutter allows the camera to automatically capture photographs when it “sees” a smiling human face. This Cyber-Shot rocks!

But how can I get more tempted when I came across the Sony Ericsson K850i Cyber-Shot phone in the pages of the Philippine Star? It boasts of a 5-megapixel camera, a second camera for video calling, and a large (2.4 inches) screen in an amazingly small body.

Sony Ericsson K850i

Add to that its image stabilizer for shaky hands, timer function when no one wants to be a photographer, and the BestPic feature that renders nine different pictures in one capture. More adventurous shots are possible with the Xenon Flash and the Landscape Twilight, Sepia, and Black & White modes.

To justify it overload of talents, the K850i is dressed up in designer coat. It is not your ordinary LCD, number keypad and joystick but a fresh new experience for textaholic fingers as its rectangular cursor key is embedded within the number keypad layout enclosing the digits “2” and “5.” Neatness!

It’s getting more confusing to choose a mobile phone, though, as aesthetics, ease-of-use, and technology get into the equation (think W960i vs. K850i). But with all the sensible innovations that Sony Ericsson phones are now offering, we are finally coming to convergence nirvana. As with me, I need a philantrophist to satiate my craving for the K850i. Anybody?