Friday, July 31, 2009
During the same meeting, I met with the representative of GHL, which provides the point-of-sale (POS) terminals for Megalink. I learned that these guys (Bancnet, Megalink, credit card companies) do not really own the POS-es out in retails establishments. They are owned and operated by third party companies who just share in the bank commission for such electronic payments.
So if Bancnet, for example, were to charge 2% from the retail establishment, that amount will be shared among the 3rd party operator, Bancnet, and the depository bank of the retail establishment. Interesting business model. I always thought the devices and the network was owned by the banks themselves. Looks like they outsource it as well.
In a stroke of coincidence, I had a meeting with another company called Merchant Express in the afternoon. While the topic of the meeting was PayEasy, I found out that these guys also operate a POS network similar to GHL. In fact, they claim to be the bigger player (with about 14,000 POS terminals) in this market which is cornered by these two companies. And they also operate their own switch which is interconnected already to Bancnet, BPI and RCBC Bankard (but not Megalink). They also acquire merchant accounts in behalf of the card companies and provide the terminal and switching. Each POS terminal costs about P20k.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Have no fear -- Google is here (with the answers). The key is in the "Transpose" option. I've never noticed it, or perhaps I did but did not care what it was for, but it holds the solution to the problem. From the source worksheet, just mark the range to copy and hit Ctrl-C (Edit >> Copy). Then go to the destination spreadsheet and choose Edit >> Paste Special >> tick the 'Transpose' checkbox. That's all there is to it!
- Open the tray
- Click the setup button on the remote control
- Go to preferences
- Type 138931 on the keypad (The screen displays the current region where the player is locked)
- Use the up/down arrow key to select Region 0 to open it for all regions
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
So our master bedroom has been without a DVD player for more than a week. I had to contend plugging our Sony portable DVD player via regular composite video to the Samsung LCD, and well, its not really a fantastic solution. I decided to go to Western Appliance Greenhills today to get a new player -- the DVP-5996K. Its an "upgrade" from the old 5166k and has the ff. new features:
- HDMI output with 1080p upscaling
- Support for Microsoft Windows Media WMA/WMV formats
- Ripping of audio CD to MP3
I don't really care much about the latter 2 features. Its more of the HDMI output that I've been intrigued with. Since our Samsung is Full HD 1080p capable, I felt that I wasn't maximizing it with a low-end player connected via standard component video. Granted that even though this is not a Blu-ray player, I thought the HDMI upscaling would at least result to better output than regular component connections.
Since the player did not come with HDMI cables, I went to nearby Virra Mall's CD-R king to get one. Original Sony HDMI cables at appliance stores run for around Php3k. Amazingly, the 3 meter HDMI cable at CD-R only costs Php300. I did some Google research prior to buying it and nobody seem to have any complaints about it. (I was actually looking for just 2 meters, but there were no stocks available.)
When I plugged the player at home and connected it to the Samsung using the el-cheapo CD-R King HDMI cable, it worked perfectly fine. I played the Pixar Shorts for the kids and it looked pretty sharp. Although to be honest, I really cannot tell much the difference between upscaled 1080p vs. progressive scan on regular component video connectors.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Even Megalink's Internet payment system is operated by Unionbank's The Port, and not by itself. So while PayEasy claims to support Megalink for its payments, in reality, we are limited to those banks who signed up with Unionbank/The Port. And because of political reasons, not all banks joined the initiative.
In what could be the biggest defection to date, I read a news announcement today that the Philippine National Bank (PNB) has switched to Bancnet. PNB is the 4th largest bank in the Philippines based on assets. By moving to Bancnet, they have become its 50th member. PNB brings a lot to the table with its 400 ATM's nationwide. This effectively expands Bancnet ATM nodes to 3,778 according to reports. So that means PNB represents more than 10% of the total ATM's in the Bancnet network!
Bancnet ATM cardholders now number more than 7M. This includes the 2 million ATM cardholders that PNB claims it has. The numbers look strange though. A year ago, Bancnet announced they had 6M users. So if 2M was added because of PNB, why is it only 7M? Surely, Bancnet is not capable of filtering duplicates (ie. cardholders with multiple Bancnet ATM cards from different banks).
This announcement also comes at the heel of another recent defection by Robinsons Bank. Granted that that is not a very large bank, still, it does not bode well for Megalink.
Assuming GMA actually revives it, with election coming up next year, any politician running for office will just kowtow again to the pressures from the Catholic Church. Who would dare lose the blessing of the influential Catholic Church and its millions of voters? And how many times has the Catholic Church meddle in matters of death penalty in the past? Its almost a given already that this will happen yet again.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
per-appdomain symbol should not be marked with __declspec(dllimport)Visual Studio also refuse to link the application citing those cryptic unresolvable externals on the trace variable and function. Doing a Google search on the strange error revealed that there are other people who have experienced the same problem. The error does not seem to appear if the application is a console app (such as the demo SimpleCall that came with Aculab's SDK). But the moment you switch to a graphical CLI/.NET environment, it appears.
According to MSDN, the C4394 is related to variables or functions written and compiled using native C/C++. When they are linked to a program compiled in Microsoft's Intermediate Language (MSIL) format running in a .NET managed environment (CLI), the incompatibility in permission access level appears.
Somone suggested in the forum from the other guy who reported the same problem to switch from a "pure" CLR environment to a normal one. This can be achieved by changing the compiler flag from /clr:pure to just /clr. From the Visual Studio IDE, one goes to Project >> Properties >> Configuration Properties and change the Common Language Runtime support dropdown value to regular /clr instead of the default "Pure".And what do you know? It worked! The compiler and linker errors disappeared and I was able to generate by trace logs. So its now back to trying and figure out what is wrong with my demo program. :(
Friday, July 10, 2009
I had to drive a bit more aggressively than usual. Tried to pass through Robinson's Galleria Mall driveway to get to EDSA side but found out they already closed the previous exits. Had to waste time going around again to find another path to EDSA. From EDSA, it was slow moving going to Cubao, again because of the rain. Had to cut-off several other motorist to get to Cubao around 6:45pm. I parked at the new SM Cubao carpark then ran to Araneta Coliseum where I met Kenneth with his friend at the Green Gate.
The show was slated to start at 7pm, but when we entered the Coliseum and got to our Lower Box seats, the place was not even half full. Its a far cry from the first time RAW came to Manila. I don't know if its because its the first time WWE is doing a show on a Friday; or if its the snarling traffic brought about by the downpour that made people late; or because its the third time already that WWE is coming to town so the novelty has faded off; or if its just because the roster of superstars who came this time is just not that impressive.
The show eventually started at around 7:20pm, with the upper box and general admission area barely half full. The first match pitted John Morrison against Shelton Benjamin. Morrison was the clear crowd favorite. It was a slow-moving match considering Morrison and Benjamin are both very talented, high-flying athletes. No major signature moves were shown, but Morrison pinned Benjamin for the count.
The next match showed Mark Henry who was as wide as a refrigerator. He fought and defeated (fairly) newcomer Evan Bourne. It was not much of a contest as Evan is more of a cruiserweight against Henry's super heavyweight built.
It was then the Divas' turn to provide some entertainment. Maria was the guest referee, much to the glee of the Filipino male crowd. This was a Divas Tag Team match with Divas champion Michelle McCool and her manager, Alicia Fox, against ex-champs Melina and Gail Kim. Melina performed her signature leg-splitting ring entrance -- again to the delight of the male crowd. The crowd-favorites, Melina and Kim, defeated McCool and Fox.
Next was the turn of the WWE giant, Khali. Standing at a height of more than 7 feet tall, Khali was an imposing figure. Long gone are the days that he was the 'villain' in WWE. Khali is now a crowd favorite. He fought and defeated Dolph Ziggler, who played the 'bad guy' role well and even inciting the crowd before the match began.
A 15 to 20 minute intermission ensued. When the lights went off again to signal the resumption of the event, it was time for the title matches (not that title ever changes in out-of-town/non-televised exhibition matches like these).
It was a Triple Threat match for the ECW Championship held by Tommy Dreamer. As expected, he defeated Jack Swagger and Christian. Christian and Dreamer were clear crowd favorites. When the match ended, a lucky audience seated by ringside caught the eye of Dreamer with his signage ("Innovator of Violence") and got invited to go up the ring where Dreamer took off his shirt and gave it to the fan. That was a classic moment.
The next match was for the Intercontinental title of Rey Mysterio. But before Rey stepped into the court, Chris Jericho had a good time building up the crowd with his insults. Rey, of course, got to deliver his signature move, the 619 -- which I really don't think hurts the opponent that much. Nonetheless, Jericho was pinned for the victory.
The last match was between WWE Heavyweight champion CM Punk against Jeff Hardy. Punk previously won the belt from Hardy, shortly after Hardy himself won it in a ladder match against Edge in a WWE Pay-per-view (PPV). Punk cashed in his "money in the bank" against the tired Hardy in that PPV and won the title. The stars got to deliver their signature moves but Punk prevailed, again, as expected since titles never change hands on exhibition matches.
After the show, I treated Kenneth and his friend to our usual fare -- Chicken Inasal across the street. After the late dinner, I had to fall in line for another 15 mins or so to retrieve my umbrella which was left at the package counter. I don't know why they didn't just let people enter with umbrellas to avoid the inconvenience.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
But from inside my code, calling ConfigurationManager::AppSettings does not seem to resolve to anything. I checked the output folder and did not see any application.exe.config that one normally expects from C# projects.
I did a little bit of research and found this app.config article for C++/CLI in CodeProject. It seems that the key is in the project property's post-build event. Specifically, you have to run the external command:
copy app.config "$(TargetPath).config"
This properly copies the config file to the object code output location where it can be read by the application.The next hurdle is converting the managed System::String^ class, that is returned by the System::Configuration methods, to the old c-style null-terminated string. This one is achieved by using the System::Runtime::Interopservices::Marshal methods. The shortest way of writing this expression that I've seen is this one from MSDN.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I created a Tweeter account for our online payment gateway, Mozcom PayEasy. The site can be accessed at http://tweeter.com/MozcomPayEasy. My first Tweeter username choice was actually just plain 'PayEasy'. But it looks like somebody beat me to it. And whatever that person did seem to be not so nice because Tweeter shows a message that the account has been blocked. Probably somebody doing a financial-related scam.
Just as Google seems to like indexing blogs, it also actively indexes Tweeter contents. So for those who are interested in search engine optimization, extending one's website to Tweeter seem to help in getting found. I made a couple of initial entries onto my Tweeter account, and within the hour, I started getting Google Alerts on PayEasy's Tweeter entries.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
The story is set in Lexington, Massachusetts. That brought back some memories of my 2-year stay in Wellesley, which is pretty close to Lexington. In fact, I used to attend church with my classmate Clement, at a Chinese church in Lexington. But aside from the sweeping view of the MIT campus, the rest of the movie was actually shot in Australia.
The movie is about the visions of a grade school girl of disasters that will happen -- complete with the exact date, location (in longitude + latitude coordinates) and the number of deaths. If I did not know any better, I would have assumed that it was an M. Night Shyamalan movie. The plot and topic is very typical of Shyamalan's stories.
In a lot of ways, the movie reminded me a lot of The Happening. And just like that movie, the ending is a bit too fantastic and anti-climactic. From a suspense/thriller/horror-type of movie, it suddenly shifted into full-blown science fiction with alients and spaceships. But, at least, I liked the way they imagined the spaceships. It was not your typical flying saucer with lights. And for once, Nicholas Cage's character died in a movie he starred in!
Saturday, July 4, 2009
But not to fret. He was able to hook up with a new character, Lady Christina de Souza (played by Michelle Ryan). Lady Christina is supposed to be some adventure/thrill-seeking aristocrat-turned-cat burglar. She is actually a very interesting character and it would be great if she were to really become a regular travelling partner of the Doctor.
Michelle Ryan is better known in the title role of the 2007 remake of Bionic Woman. I watched the first few episodes of that series which was shown on C/S channel, but found it terribly boring. I don't know if the show is still running or it got canned.
Go further to Quezon City and all the gas stations there along Quezon Avenue are also in the Php39 range. QC seem to have the highest gas prices. Certain Caltex outlets seem to be much cheaper than Shell. Caltex Connecticut/EDSA is around Php35 and the Caltex on the south-bound lane going towards Guadalupe only charges Php34. That's a Php5/liter difference compared to those QC stations!
I recently opened a Shell Citi Visa to avail of Shell's 5% gas rebate. The tricky part that I found out afterwards is not all Shell stations participated to the promo. I guess most of the Shell franchisees did not opt in as it would lower their profits.
HSBC has a similar scheme going with Caltex. They claim also giving a 5% rebate. But the catch is -- as Cols found out much later, you can only avail of it if your total monthly purchases hit something like Php50k. What a rip-off!
The Platform2U guys rented the Rizal ballroom. There were about 30 tables and a grand stage. They certainly did not scrimp on the launching. Aside from the ballroom, they rented a separate function room at the 3rd floor for the press conference. There were several VIP's including a representative from the DTI, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines, and Platform2u's chairman, who is apparently a former cabinet minister and member of parliament of Malaysia.
The name of their e-commerce platform is SMilDS. Personally, I find the name to be not too marketing-friendly. As a rule, I always tell clients to choose domain names that are easy to recall and does not require much explanation or instructions on how to spell. If you have to expain it, then it must be complicated. SMilDS (pronounced "smile-ds") is actually an acronym. I wish they could have chosen an easier-to-remember name.
A sister company of SMilDS is Easy Pha-max. Its a health supplement made from wheat grass. Their local celebrity endorser is TV host (Sports Unlimited) and former tennis professional athlete, Dyan Castillejo. During lunch at the Shang Palace chinese restaurant, I was seated beside Dyan and had a good time talking with her. She's really into the wheat grass product and even gave me a sample to drink. I have to admit that I did not like the taste though. Its probably an acquired taste as she said she drinks it at least 3 times a day.
Later in the evening, we had dinner at Speaker Perez because Cols' mom and grandma are in town.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
What makes their service very different from the other gateways I've met is their anti-fraud screening mechanism. When you register or use UseMyBank for the first time, their automated system will perform a call-out to your number. You then need to key-in the 4-digit PIN that you see on your screen. Its their way of validating your telephone number. With this system, they claim to have at least a 99.9999% fraud-free transaction rate. That's great news for merchants who are used to dealing with credit card fraud.
Because of the very low rate of fraud, UseMyBank is popular with high-risk merchants such as online gambling and remittances. In fact, most of the online casinos use UseMyBank's service for getting funds from their bettors. These are two niche markets that we hope to tap into.