Sunday, October 15, 2006

Making Do With Slow DSL

Finally we have DSL at home. The PLDT calls it Plan 888 because subscribers pay P888 per month for the service. The cost of the dsl modem is tacked onto the monthly charges for one year so one pays P999 something per month.

I still envy my neighbors (siblings of my wife) who are enjoying Globe broadband at a fixed and promo cost of P999 for one year. They've got a full 512kbps connection. Ours is only 188Kbps or thereabouts. The downloading tops at 29kbps. I cannot afford the PLDT full DSL because it means an additional P999 on top of the monthly rental of P750.

At any rate,the children are happier because they can now watch their favorite Youtube clips altho they still must suffer through the effects of buffering. But we have found a way out by downloading the videos while doing other things on the Net. This is how I finally got to watch the two-part show of Richard Dawkins The Root of All Evil?.

On my wishlist for next year are a 512kbps DSL, a Core 2 Duo PC and a home LAN. But, hoping against hope, I am waiting for PLDT to offer a one-year promo for their broadband just like what Globe has offered.

So why don't I just jump over to Globe? I cannot explain it. Am I being masochistic? It seems I am like a father who hopes that eventually his child would reform. I am looking forward to PLDT taking better care of its suffering subscribers.

For instance, last year when my son was sick and needed to be brought to the hospital, our PLDT line simply went dead. What a timing? But it was always like that when there was little rain. So my wife rushed over to the home of her sister and used their Globe phone to arrange a transportation.

That forced me to write a protest to the PLDT office. And I sent a copy to the NTC regional office. A technician rushed over to our place and and engineer called me up at the office to mollify me.

But before that I was just practicing my patience over and over again everytime our phone conked out on a rainy day. Just like an everloving, patient father! Who knows; PLDT might just reform its ways and provide services on par with Globe or even better. Then I can watch Google videos in real time. There are so much to see like the Cosmos series of Carl Sagan, or the Ascent of Man series by Jacob Brownoski. Old series, yes, but still much ahead of its time even the present.

In the meantime, I will make do with downloading in the background (the video will be accompanied with a flashing message that uninterrupted viewing starts in over a day) while writing my blog just like what I am doing now.

That will be the day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Live Writer Test

I just downloaded the beta of Live Writer. Let's see if this gets through.

I tried a long time ago Blog-It. I can't remember now how it works.

At Gaisano Tabunok Netopia this afternoon I downloaded videos from Youtube using the services of Nice way to download videos.

That video by the sons of Bobby Tabibima demonstrating the unarmed version of their arnis is excellent.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thoughts on office printers

Not all printers are created equal. And in a particular brand, one model may be better than others.

But when you are an office worker, you do not have the power of choice. You get what the procurement unit sends you. Or in our case we have to make do with what our central procurement office sends us.

Ours is a government office. Procurement of anything is straitjacketed by the procurement law. One of the rules says you cannot specify the brand of the equipment you want to buy.

When it comes to printers, I personally like Epson for dot matrix models. The model I liked best so far was the LQ1170. The newer 2180 has some problems. At home I use the LQ300. I have garaged my 680 inkjet because of ink cost.

The Epson 600 inkjet was an excellent workhorse. I could print almost anything on it as long as the width fits. The 680 makes a lot of crunching noise and often crumples the paper. I miss my office Epson 600.

OKI dot matrix gets a passing grade from me. But it is a trouble when you print a stencil with it. The stencil has this thick paper at the top, with holes with which to attach the thing to the mimeographing machine. When you print you need to place the printer head at a certain place on the stencil or you will print outside the margins. To do that you need to line feed the stencil. This is where the problem starts.

It seems the OKI would count the line feeds and deduct it from your document page settings. There are only so much lines for a page. And when it thinks it has printed enough of lines for your document format, it ejects the stencil.

I found a workaround by setting the page length to 17. Othewise the Oki is a fine printer.

The present batches of dot matrix printers sent by head office is by Lexmark. This is one printer that gets me a lot of calls from endusers. That is because I am the unofficial computer nut in the office and anything that attaches to a computer is referred to me when they spoil the day of my office mates.

The Lexmark often misaligns a sheet. And the quality of the print makes you long for the 9-pin Epson. I am not familiar with the Lexmark inkjet models. But I presume it has the same problem as their dot matrix siblings. Most probably the reason why its ink is more expensive than the printer.

From the batch of 9 lexmarks we received early this year, 3 are already out of commission. They all don't load the paper correctly. The first one that developed the problem was brought out for repair by the authorized Lexmark shop; in this case Ng Khai (I know Wilson from way back in the early days of the internet). All they said was not to set the paper thickness lever to 1 so the sheet will engage smoothly. (The OKI does not have thickness levers. It sets the thickness automatically; and I loved that feature.) The next time the unit had the same trouble Ng Khai would not send their technician anymore; they wanted us to send the unit to them. We simply retired that one and replaced from stock.

I like the Epson inkjet way of printing paper. The paper follows a straight path. Insert at the back, paper goes out front. Insert at the front, paper goes out back. The HP way: paper begins at the front, it moves to the back, kicks and makes a somersault and often gets entangled among the guides. And the user, wondering where his paper went, calls for me. There goes my dogfooding ideas.

The Brother laserjet gets my vote. Except that it creases envelopes. But it is easy to set up as a network printer.

The next time my friend Joseph Pacheco at head office procures a printer I suggest the following:

For dot matrix printers (yes there is still a place for them in everyday office application) he should specify that it should print as good as the letter quality Epson (like my dear LQ300+). Then it should be easy to print a stencil with. Unless Joseph buys us the electronic mimeographing machines that creates a stencil on the fly out of a printed document.

For inkjets or laserjets, he should find one that has a straight path printing and won't crumple envelopes.

Just some thoughts for Boss Joseph. Of course, I understand his predicament with the procurement regulations. I think I need to say my piece about the procurement law next time. Next time would mean when I get to visit an internet cafe like what I am doing now. I am downloading the VB express. It takes about an hour here at the Netopia at Gaisano Tabunok.

Reeza and Joseph Lopez already have DSL. Boy Gacho also has the Smart wireless dsl. I've got only the PLDT saver that is always busy and makes a top speed of 37KBP. To think that I've been on the internet before they even heard of it. :-(

Saturday, May 06, 2006

At Excel Cafe because PLDT Saver Sucks

We have dial-up connection to the Internet at home. Can't afford a DSL :-( The children would shout with joy if they get lucky enough to connect at speed higher than 30kbps if at all.
It seems all PLDT subscribers have taken advantage of the unlimited internet access by upgrading one's subcription to PLDT saver. So the scramble to get a connection is the first problem. Next would to get a faster connection.
So I am here at the Excel internet cafe at SM City. And it's fast. I downloaded the free AVG in less than 10 minutes. At the Netopia in Gaisano Tabunok, it was almost as slow as our dial-up.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Back to blogging!

Wow, it has been quite sometime since my last post. My son got sick and my mind became unfocused for a while. He is still on medication but he is doing well. He plays basketball with a neighborhood team. OK, they lost their first two games.

But nobody expected them to win since they can only meet as a team during competition nights. Most of them have to earn a living during the day. A few are trisikad drivers. Some have gardens to tend to.

The kind of illness my son is suffering from is not easy. People who knew about it are surprised that he is actively engaged in sports. Just this summer he and his younger sister took up swimming. They just finished a 5-session schedule. And they can already swim. Now, only I in the family (3 chilren) do not know how to swim.

Of course, I can tread water. I can cross a pool but I do not know a breaststroke from a butterfly.

And we have started playing badminton. The children know how to smack a shuttlecock at each other as they play in any open space. To make it more structured, I installed a net in our small lawn. Not big enough for a real badminton court. But at least they can learn how to smash the shuttlecock into the other half.

My wife welcomed the idea as she used to play badminton in college. That was way back when badminton was not yet as popular as now. She was on the varsity team.

So what brought me back to blogging. Well, it is about my renewed interest in dogfooding. It is about Visual Studio Express that is now free. I'll get into that in next blog.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


My family and I watched Y Speak tonight. The missus has been asking about it tonight ever since she watched the two back-to-back episodes featuring Ryan with Judy Ann and Bianca with Direk. Cayetano.

I missed last week's program and therefore missed again Manolo's appearance. Tonight there was Rep. Remulla. Gilbert is a young politician who is worth watching like Rep. Escudero. And I don't mean their TV appearances but their political career. My generation has botched our chance. I am willing to bet the country's future on these guys of Manolo's generation.

Back to Y Speak, I think the hosts were wrong on the issue they submitted to the discussants. They were asking parents which to give their children between a P30T and a P5T cellphone. Is giving the expensive one only a "pasosyalan"?

The question should have been: "If you can afford would you rather buy your child a P30T cellphone instead of a P5T one?" Or expanding the issue a little bit: "Would you get the most expensive of anything for your child if you can afford it?"

This is where the "sosyal" and the socially-responsive parents would diverge. There are things that should not be cheap, like education. A cellphone is consumption item; education is an investment. But even a degree from an expensive or foreign school can also be "pasosyalan" only if it does not benefit society.

Spending ones income on consumption goods means less investment on capital goods. If instead of the P30T cellphone you settle for the P5T one and keeping the rest in savings means the rest of your money is available for investment opportunities in the economy.

It would serve the children better the earlier they learn that in the real world they cannot get everything they want or at least right away. The "marshmallow effect" does work. Children who learns to put off self-gratification grow up to be more successful.

I think YSpeak is a good TV program. One point for ABS-CBN. But one less point for its Pinoy Big Brother.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Busy eating dogfood

Been very busy lately dogfooding so much so that my blog has been out of date for sometime. But I made it a point to check Manolo's blog everyday to make sure I am up-to-date on the political scene. The Philipine blog scene is still mostly about gloriagate. And Manolo still lists me in his blog. For that alone, I think I need to make an entry periodically. But this dogfooding thing is leaving me the barest of time.

Dogfooding or eating dogfood among programmers refers to using their own products. I am not sure if it includes simple MSWord or MSExcel macros or just using real programming language.

I need dogfood at work. It makes some of my duties easier. Largely my office chores consist of managing the property database. Head office sent us a very primitive property management program made out of Clipper. Primitive by today's standard although it looked like state-of-the art, to me that is, when I began using it in 1992.

No revision has been done to it since then. The programmer, my friend Noli Revamuntan, at head office has since moved on to higher responsibilities. So I have to do the revision to make it more responsive to my need.

We have another program for encoding payroll claims of those who do overtime duties. Also done in clipper and also just as primitive. I tweak it every now and then when I get bored with my other duties. Programming keeps my mind crunching and eases the ennui that every office worker falls into when things get very routinary.

Making dogfood does not stop at the office. Even at home I spend around an hour or so making several routines. This time it is windows-based. Perhaps I can use this at the office one of these days.