Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Apple iPad -- a Netbook or Tablet Killer?

Apple has just announced their latest must-have product -- the iPad. Positioned as a lightweight Panel/Tablet PC that can surf and deliver media, it is touted to be a new category killer that might displace traditional tablet PC's and, gasp, netbooks? The 9.7-inch screen positions it as somewhere between an iPhone/Smartphone and a full-fledged notebook.

I can see this product competing directly with tablet PC's. But the netbook? I think what people do on a netbook is very different. I don't see myself (ever) doing word-processing on an iPad or working on my spreadsheets, or even doing heavy email. Presentations, maybe.

This product, however, can be very exciting in the fields of medicine, advertising, graphic arts, and education. If Apple can perfect the battery life and render crisp text, it can even kill Amazon's Kindle e-book reader. Or maybe add a stand at the back and, voila, instant digital picture frame. Or prop it behind the front seat of the car, and you have an instant in-car home theater system.

I would imagine most of the apps here will be web-based as there are not a lot of developers writing software specifically for Apple. Although Apple claims that the iPad will follow the AppStore model used by iPhone/iTunes. Majority of developers are still on the Microsoft platform, which is also the same OS used by tablet PC's. So it would be curious to see if they can really dislodge the tablet PC's by just sheer look.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Globe Centrex and Globe's Customer Service

I seldom lose my cool when talking to call center operators since I know that they are just doing their job, and that they are mainly just following a "script" prompted in front of them. But I had this really annoying conversation today with a Globe call center agent (730-1288) that I want to rant about.

Since Marikina was badly hit by Ondoy last Sept 26, Globe lost their landline phone service for several months. When they finally got their system back online (was it end of November?), they had to change all their subscribers telephone numbers. That was a major pain since we are in the food delivery business and we have invested heavily in promoting our vanity number for the past 4 years. But since there's nothing we can do about it, we just have to move on.

Now the issue here is our original Globe phones were using the Centrex service. After Globe restored their service and changed our numbers, they became regular, direct lines. And yet, Globe is continuing to bill us based on Centrex rates (which is about P100 more than regular lines).

I called Globe before and they insisted that the restored lines are still Centrex, but I know for a fact that they are not. Centrex lines require one to dial '9' before getting an "outside line". But the restored phone clearly does not require this. The moment you lift it, you get an "outside line". This means its a regular phone service.

When I called today, the operator again insisted that we are still on Centrex. I politely told her that there is a mistake in their system and that the service restored to us was not Centrex but regular line. She asked if I could wait while she checks with her supervisor. I said, sure, no problem. I was still ok at this point.

When she came back on the phone, she told me that her supervisor instructed her to tell me that it is really a Centrex line and that I should ask my technical/engineering people to configure our PBX to work properly with the line. Now this is where it really got into my nerve. It is very clear to me that the call center supervisor does not even have a clue as to what Centrex is all about! The whole point of getting a Centrex line is PRECISELY so that you don't have to install a PBX. That is the main selling point of Centrex -- its a "virtualized PBX"! It makes absolutely no sense to install a Centrex line on a PBX.

Its really sad that telcos don't really understand Centrex services because I think its one of the best Value-Added Service (VAS) to plain-vanilla landline service. PLDT and BayanTel both have not had any luck selling Centrex to the general populace either. I can't understand why since its a wonderful service, in my opinion. Its even more pitiful that even telco employees don't understand their own product.

To end the story -- I just asked the call center operator for instructions on how I go about converting my service type from Centrex to direct line, since its already a direct line anyway.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Avatar 3D - A Visual Feast

I went to watch James Cameron's Avatar last night with Cols at Greenhills theater. Its one of the few moviehouses that is showing Avatar in 3D. I can't even remember the last time Cols and I went to watch a movie at a regular moviehouse. Ever since we moved in to the new house last Dec 2008, we've been spoiled with our home theater (with a lot of help from Bittorrent, hehehe). But a 3-D version of the movie was just impossible to experience at home, so off we went.

First of all, I think movie prices are just plain atrocious. Greenhills theater charged P300 for a seat, which includes popcorn and drinks. Because moviehouses nowadays tend to be smaller than, say, 20 years ago, I guess they have to charge more per seat. No wonder piracy is so high. Hard to blame people sometimes because its so expensive to get entertained nowadays especially with the recent disasters in the country.

I have watched "3D" movies in the past. Usually, there is only a certain portion that is "3D" while the rest of the movie is in regular "2D" (eg. Spy Kids 3D). I was surprised that Avatar is actually 3D all throughout. While the characters don't really leap out of the screen, there were a couple of scenes where the depth of field were pretty amazing.

The cast were pretty good. Sigourney Weaver is back in a James Cameron alien movie. Last time out, she was the main character as Ripley in Aliens. Zoe Saldana did not really appear as herself, but as the voice of the alien. She was in Star Trek last year as the young Uhura. Michelle Rodriguez looked pretty hot in some scenes (even though I'm sure she's a lesbian).

The animation and special effects are definitely top notch. No wonder it cost $500M to make. But the returns have been fantastic for the producers. Avatar has already surpassed the previous box office record holder -- Titanic, also another movie by James Cameron. Of course, they just base it on box office receipts. I wonder if they were to actually adjust the dollar amount to take into account inflation and the cost of movie before and today, whether Titanic would still be considered a bigger movie.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Food @ Crowne Plaza

In the past 2 weeks, I've had the chance to be invited to a wedding reception at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Robinsons Galleria. While the hotel has been around for quite a few years, I've never attended a social function there until now. The ballroom sits about 50 tables comfortably.

On the first wedding reception I attended there late last year, the setup style was western sit-down dinner. The food was plain awful! Everything from the appetizer, to the soup, to the main course was way sub-par for a "high-end" hotel like this.

The dinner for tonight's wedding reception was Chinese lauriat format. I was a bit excited when I read the menu. But boy -- was it a major disappointment! One of the worst Chinese lauriat I've ever had. The appetizer cold cuts started the evening and I knew immediately it was downhill from there.

Shangri-La Makati and EDSA are still the best I think when it comes to reception food.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Treadmill Test

I had my annual physical exam late last year, but only got the results early this January. The clinic recommended that I: 1) Get a recount of a white blood cells because it was below the reference range of 5 to 10 (I had 4.6); 2) Get a cardiac clearance since the ECG reading was not very clear.

I quickly got a WBC recount upon getting the results the other day. Should know the results by next week. In the meantime, I quickly scheduled for a treadmill test to get a more accurate reading of my heart's electrical workings.

My treadmill test was scheduled at 9am this morning at AMS. I woke up early and got there by 8:30am. They performed some basic blood pressure test and prep work before the actual test. The actual test was made up of 4 stages -- each lasting 3 mins, plus warmup and cool-down, giving a total of close to 20 mins. My heartbeat started at around 70 bpm and hit about 174 bpm at the peak of stage 4. My blood pressure started from 100/70 and rose to a max of 140/80. The attending doctor gave me a clean bill of health after I completed the test!