Friday, February 8, 2013

PLDT Fibr @ Home

After five months of waiting, PLDT finally installed their Fibr fiber Internet-to-home service at our house!  Sheesh!  I don't know exactly why it took them so long to do it.  In fairness to their telesales team though, I have to give them credit for being very persistent in following up with me and the contractor throughout all these months.

I availed of the 8mbps package for P3,500/month.  It comes with one free phone line.  The fiber optic access device comes with two VoIP ports which is mapped to a regular Manila number.  The audio quality is indistinguishable to a regular POTS service.  But I feel (maybe its just my perception) that the post-dial-delay (PDD) is a bit longer compared to regular traditional copper phone service.

When the PLDT installer initially tested the speed, it was maxing out at only 5mbps.  From what I can tell with his conversation with their central network office, PLDT seems to be performing traffic shaping only to set the speed limit based on the subscribed plan.  It does not seem to be a hardware port speed setting typical to traditional DSLAM implementation.

When the PLDT guy performed a ping to "", it gave a 1msec reply time.  Google must have co-located some servers at PLDT.  Otherwise, I cannot think of any other explanation as to how they would have a trans-Pacific latency that low.

Is 8mbps Fibr way that much better than plain ol' MyDSL?  For downloading large files (aka. Torrent), yes, its night and day difference.  But for regular usage for GMail and Facebook, the difference is hardly noticeable.  Even uploading and downloading of GMail attachments do not feel significantly faster.  Of course, YouTube streaming is much smoother now also for Ethan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jackie Chan's Last Action Movie

I took the kids to watch the much ballyhooed last action movie of Jackie Chan, Chinese Zodiac.  With Jackie Chan retiring from doing action movies, the movie's main selling point is basically -- "this is your last chance to see Jackie Chan in action".  This is an HK production and not a Hollywood movie.  Supposedly, it has been breaking box office records in China.

For a movie whose main target audience are the kids (and ok, maybe the old nostalgic crowd who has followed Jackie since The Drunken Master), the plot is particularly convoluted.  I have to be honest -- I did not understand half of what was going on.  Sure, the action scenes were fun to watch, but the plot, and the numerous sub-plots, were just all over the place.

The stunts were so-so.  I have to give credit that Jackie, at his age, can really still do difficult stunts.  But over-all, it was nothing surprising already.  The James Bond-like movie intro where he was strapped to that suit with wheels was innovative, at least.  The overall martial arts of the film was lame.  Or maybe after watching HK superstar Donnie Yen in Ip Man, everyone else seem to pale in comparison.

The acting, outside of Jackie Chan himself, was really lame.  They seem to have hired a bunch of never-heard amateur actors.  From the aristocratic French lady, to the Caucasian youth activists, the actors looked like drones memorizing their lines.

In the final scene where Jackie swoops down to risk his life to save the Dragon head, there was a flash of hope for a great ending.  With Jackie's bloodshot eyes, bloody face, and broken legs, I really thought that they will kill him off.  That would have been a first -- Jackie dying in his movie.  And it would have been a blaze-of-glory kind of ending.  Seemed like a great way to end his action career.  But 'no', he was still alive and the sub-plot further gets complicated -- who was that lady at the end?  Was that his wife?  Girlfriend?  Why was she not answering his phone all that time?  Why were Jackie's team mates referring to her as "sister"?

I still think that the Rush Hour series with Chris Tucker were Jackie's best action-comedy performances.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mysteries of the Deposit Slip

Having worked closely with all the major local commercial banks for the past couple of years with Dragonpay, there are some things about the ubiquitous deposit slip that has always boggled me.

Mystery #1 - Account Type

Why do banks ask us to tick the box if the type of account we are depositing to is a "Checking" or "Savings"?  Can't the teller tell (no pun there)?  Surely by simply encoding the account number in their screen, their system can immediately tell if its a Checking or Savings account.  So why even bother asking the depositor to tick it?

I noticed that even if you leave this field blank, the teller will just process it anyway without asking.  This proves that they can easily tell from their screen.  So why bother asking?

Kudos to banks like Metrobank whose deposit slip has never seem to have bothered asking for this data as far as I can recall.  The 4th digit of your bank account number already tells them if its a PHP or USD, Savings or Checking account.  No need to ask.

Mystery #2 - Date

Why on earth do banks ask you to write the date on the deposit slip?  Isn't it obvious?  Its always the date of that day.  The teller will never accept a deposit slip which is dated in the past, nor in the future.  The teller will only accept current dated deposit slips.  So again -- why bother asking?

All banks print validation data on the slip when the teller processes it.  And all validation data contains the date and time it was processed.  So since the date is already there (based on the back-end system), why are they still asking the depositor to write it?

Mystery #3 - Currency

To a lesser extent, this field is similar to the account type field in my opinion.  When the teller types in your account number in their system, they can already tell what is the currency of your account.  So why bother asking you?

Mystery #4 - Signature

Why do several banks ask you to sign on the deposit slip?  Of what value does it serve?  Metrobank, Landbank, UCPB, etc. have this field that perplexes me.  The teller never actually validates if that is really your signature by comparing it against a government-issued ID.  You can ask your 3-year old kid to doodle in that box and it would not make any difference.  Why, oh why?

Mystery #5 - Relationship to the Account Holder

This one seems to be unique to Landbank and UCPB.  You (the depositor) have to declare your relationship to the account holder on the deposit slip.  Why on earth is that important?!