Monday, June 29, 2009

When do humans develop fingerprints?

The human fetus starts developing fingerprints at 3 months old!

Philippine Mobile Telno Prefix

For those curious as to which mobile telco owns which prefix, here's a list:

Digitel 0923
Digitel 0922

Globe 0926
Globe 0927
Globe 0917
Globe 0916
Globe 0915
Globe 0906
Globe 0905

Smart 0920
Smart 0921
Smart 0928
Smart 0929
Smart 0919
Smart 0918
Smart 0912
Smart 0910
Smart 0909

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Goodbye Michael

The death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, at age 50 will probably be the biggest celebrity news for this year. News about the details of his death has brought several Internet sites to a crawl. This just goes to show the profound impact his music and personality has brought to the world. Nobody could have lived through the 80's without being influenced by him somehow.

I wouldn't consider myself his biggest fan, but I definitely loved his music. I also watched his concert at Paranaque when he came to perform back in 1996. I think all Filipinos feel the sadness of his passing somehow. (Is Moonwalk Subdivision in Paranaque named after his patented backward strut?)

One of the very strange stories that has appeared related with the news of his death is the statement of his ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley in her blog. It seems that Michael foresaw that he will somehow die this way -- similar to the way Rock and Roll legend (and Lisa's dad) Elvis Presley died, which is via cardiac arrest (most likely induced by taking of drugs).

Its no secret that "Wacko Jacko" has been undergoing medication and has been having financial difficulties. In fact, his upcoming comeback (and final) concert in O2 Arena, UK in 17 days was sold out with Ticketmaster claiming it was record -- they were selling 11 tickets per second for the first 10 shows. There was supposed to be a total of 50 shows, which would have fetched Jackson USD50M. But now with the concert cancelled, ticketholders are clamoring for refunds and the show's promoter, AEG Live, is facing a potential loss of GBP300M! I hope they got good insurance.

The news of Michael's death has completely overshadowed other news like the recent civil unrest in Iran due to their elections. On almost the same day, original Charlie's Angel star, Farrah Fawcett, also passed away after her long battle with anal cancer. I wasn't a Charlie's Angel fan either, but which adolescent boy could not have known Farrah and her famous pose.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pinoy Geek Humor

As I drove through A. Mabini Street on my way from Shaw Blvd to Wilson Street in San Juan, I came across this really funny store signage. Its apparently a store selling puto. Whoever came up with the store's name has got to be a computer geek. I was able to quickly snap a photo using my camera phone. My reflexes have improved since the last time I tried being a papparazzi from the car.

Back when PC Magazine was still in circulation, the last page would feature funny signs (intentional or otherwise) related to computers. This would have been a great entry -- except only Pinoys can appreciate this humor.

Nintendo Wii for Women

Here's a pretty funny video clip of a fictitious version of the Nintendo Wii for women -- called Nintendo Shii.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Since the folks are in Xiamen, Tita Lucy organized the Father's Day lunch at grandma house. After lunch, we rested a bit at home. Then we went out late afternoon for merienda at UP technopark. We had halo-halo at Razon's.

From Fathers Day at UP-Ayala Technopark

After dinner, we watched Bride Wars at the home theater. The evening was turning out pretty normal until during our restroom break mid-movie, Caitlin got my phone from the room and told me I had a message. I read the message and it was from an irate customer at the story. Seems that something went wrong with his order. So we paused the movie for a while, while we clear things up with the store. As it turned out, the customer was served with a burnt pizza. We made several calls to our store and area managers to help resolve the issue and pacify the customer before resuming the movie.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Globe + Google Developer Workshop @ UP Technopark

I attended the Globe Labs + Google developer event at the UP Ayala Technopark along Commonwealth Avenue. While I have passed by the Technopark several times, this was my first time to actually enter the compound. The place is very clean with low-lying buildings and wide open spaces. It reminded me of Silicon Valley environment (except for the heat).

The event was supposed to start at 1pm. I got there at about that time figuring that most people will be late anyway, as is typical for these events. But surprisingly, the place was packed with geeks (and I mean that in an endearing sort of way) by the time I got there. I guess geeks are more prompt with time unlike your average Filipino.

Google showed off their API's for developers to "mashup". The Globe Labs guys demoed their Location Based Service (LBS) API, and showed how it can be used to work in conjunction with the Google API to do really creative things. The Google guy also showed some really interesting developments going on at Mozilla/Firefox with respect to HTML5. New HTML elements like canvas and video allows for really interesting possibilities that should give Flash and Silverlight a run for its money in the very near future.

Amidst all the gee-whiz-bang show-and-tell, what really caught my attention was the Google Visualization API. The map that appears in Google Analytics showing where your visitors are coming from in a graphical manner, can apparently be easily used in other programs. What immediately popped to my mind is integrating it with PayEasy Admin to allow merchants to see where their payers are coming from in a visual manner. This led to my implementation of the API.

For an even simpler way of mashing up contents without any programming involved, Google Web Elements comes to the rescue. Copying-and-pasting HTML is all it takes to embed a calendar, presentation, spreadsheet, map or YouTube video to your site. Now I just have to figure out what the longitude/latitude valus of The Peak so that I can provide a map to our office from our website!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wrestling with C++/CLI

I'm looking at a possible computer telephony project that might make use of Aculab's products. I used the Aculab PCI card back in 2002 to do SS7/C7 switching with the telcos when I was still in that line of business. Ah, those were the days when I lived and breathed Dialogic code.

I remember the Aculab card as a very powerful card and quite affordable for something that can do SS7. Dialogic's equivalent product (the former DataKinetics) cost considerably more especially if you factor in the cost of the software. In the case of Aculab, the software protocol stacks are free. You just buy the board. And with Linux support plus great technical support, it was a hands-down winner.

I've been studying the trial version of Prosody S, their host-based media processing (HMP) platform. The API's only support C/C++ for multi-platform portability. I was hoping they would have C# libraries but unfortunately, they did not. Their pre-sales tech guy gave me a sample in C#, but it makes direct socket calls, as opposed to, using the API function calls. So it looked really messy.

So I figured I might as well install Visual Studio's C++ and see if I can shake off my C++ cobwebs. I haven't written in C++ for probably 5 to 6 years already. And when I did write in C++, I used Borland C++Builder for Windows and the GNU C++ compiler for Linux. I never actually used Microsoft's Visual C++. I never bothered to learn the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC). So I figured I'm going to have a bit of an uphill climb here.

After installing VS2005's C++ support, I made it create a .NET windows app using its templates. When I saw the code, my first reaction was -- What The F***?! It looked totally alien and unlike the C++ I knew. There were new operators (the caret ^) which I'm pretty sure is not part of standard C++.

I tried copying-and-pasting some code from the Aculab examples, and the compiler gave me all sorts of error messages about converting unmanaged code to managed. The uphill climb is starting to look like an up-mountain climb. As usual, I went to Google and did some query on C++/CLI (Common Language Infrastructure). The CLI is Microsoft .NET's common managed environment for its new generation of languages. Using C# and VB.NET with CLI is really trivial. But using it with an "old", unmanaged language like C++ involves a lot of changes.

Here are some quick tutorials I found on getting up-to-date on C++/CLI:
Just converting between the old, null-terminated string (char *) in C/C++ to the managed System.String (or System::String in C++/CLI format) version involves several steps. But I guess that is really the way to go. I mean, doing Windows programming with MFC or the native Windows API calls is a worse option.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Web Sites Projects under Visual Studio 2005

I've been looking at some sample code lately that requires Visual C++ compilation. Since I have been mainly doing C# programming the past several years, I never bothered to install the C++ option of Visual Studio (2003 and 2005). But now that I do need it, I popped in my MSDN DVD and tried to add C++. It gave me some strange error and refused to install it. So I had no choice but to uninstall Visual Studio 2005 and reinstall it -- this time with C# and C++.

The process seem to have worked as I can now view the C++ sample codes. But strangely, when I try opening some of my C# projects, Visual Studio 2005 would complain about unsupported project files. This is particularly true for my really old web/web service projects which I migrated from VS 2003 to 2005. VS2005 just doesn't seem to like their .csproj files.

After some tinkering around, I noticed that VS2005 web site/service projects do not seem to need a .csproj files. In fact, deleting the .csproj files seem to fix the problem. The project could then be added/loaded onto a VS Solution without any hassle.

On another note, I also recently installed Windows XP Service Pack 3. Although SP3 has been around for some time, I haven't really bothered to install it. Now that its installed in my system, I'm experiencing weird problems with my Virtual PC. The problem seem to specifically happen when I do large file transfers between my Virtual PC session and my host PC. It just reboots my entire machine without any warning. Grrr... the lesson is -- don't load new Microsoft service packs unless you are specifically experiencing problems that require it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How To Find Unread Messages in GMail

For the longest time, I've been wondering how I can quickly retrieve all my unread email in GMail. I tried manually clicking the "next" links to go through my large inbox. But with more than 9,500 messages now, its just impossible to find the unread ones.

I did some Google search and found the simple answer -- just type label:unread in the search box and click the "search mail" button! That's all there is to it!

Hong Kong Actor Sex Scadal

Step aside Hayden Kho and Kristina Halili. A bigger star, Chinese/Canadian actor/singer, Edison Chen, was recently involved in a similar celebrity sex scandal. And this one actually made it to the front page of CNN! Even at the height of the Kho/Halili scandal, I don't think they made it that far in world news.

Unlike the Kho/Halili scandal, the girls here -- which included starlets Gillian Chung, Cecilia Cheung, Maggie Q, and many more, the girls here seem to know that they were being photographed. Candice Chan's wedding was called off after her fiance found out about it. It wasn't clear whether Edison distributed the photos himself, or as claimed, it was in his laptop which he brought to a repair shop, and the computer technician supposedly saw the thousands of photos of nude celebrities with Chen and circulated them online.

Edison claims to have received death threats. But at least he did not receive verbal abuse from their equivalent of a senator there in HK. he he he

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

PLDT Line at Marikina

Our PLDT line at home could not accept incoming calls for almost a week.  It was finally fixed today.  It was a strange problem.  We had no problems calling out, but no one can call in.  Dialing our 425-xxxx number from other landline results to a long silence, then a disconnect tone.  Calling from my Smart phone, I immediately get a "call not allowed" message.  Calling from my Globe phone, I also get the long silence-then-disconnect tone.

During this period, our neighbors don't seem to be having similar problems.  But then, they are all on the older 9xx-xxxx telno series.  Our line came from a different exchange -- hence, it 425-xxxx.

When I called PLDT to report the problem earlier this week, I was told by the 171 operator that they were experiencing a problem with their "server".   I thought that was very strange.  Since when did "servers" have anything to do with plain ol' telephone system (POTS) service.  If it was a TDM switch that went down, you should not be able to accept both incoming calls and make outgoing calls.  And you don't take days to fix a switch.  You just hot-swap some TDM card and that's it. Or if its a physical line problem, you basically send a lineman to go up the telephone pole to fix it.  But this was something else.  A "server"?!

This led me to wonder whether we're on PLDT's Next Generation Network (NGN) which is supposed to be running on their IP-based, "converged" network.  I guess new technology brings new kinds of problems.