Thanking the pirates

 

If you’re thinking that I just turned coat because of the need to save and having no choice but to patronize illegal softwares, we’ll I’m not. It’s just that the feeling of being free and having so much time to kill got me into trying how to create a facebook quiz last night. Pathetic isn’t it?

What I find funny though is that this time I feel like making a quiz with pure Filipino words which I haven’t done since then. I rarely use tagalog because I feel I’d more prone to grammar errors than composing something in English. In fact I kept on asking my wife for the correct spelling of some of the Filipino words. So last night’s experiment was quite entertaining and somehow I was able to release my Bob Ong alter ego. Hahaha.

Unfortunately, the quiz didn’t run as I expected it to be. I don’t know if I missed it, but I saw several issues with facebook’s create quiz application. I tried looking for a button that would let me preview and test my own quiz first without having to publish it prematurely; I also wondered how I can put just two choices even if I have four outcomes; and as much as I’d like to keep and fine tune it first, sleepiness crept in and consequently, my judgment and perfectionism gave up – I shamelessly published the half-baked quiz with me being the only person enjoying the result…as if I don’t know it yet. Ti abi.

I’m not sure if I can resolve the problem with the application, but I’m sure that I’ll be asking a lot of newbie questions in the developers forum…and most likely, will later feel bad how stupid of me to miss such simple things. Anyway, before I forget (and receive hate emails for not doing so), I’d like to give credit to the following Flickr Creative Commons users who shared their nice photos which I used in the Anong klaseng pirata ka (What kind of pirate are you?) quiz:

Capn Madd Matt

Phoney Nickel/Tiffany

Deep Shot

Extra Medium/John Mueller

Orangegeek – I can’t find this user anymore but I’m quite sure I grabbed this pic from him but wasn’t able to use it immediately. So if you know this Flickr user, please try to inform him about this.

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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Practicality = Piracy

 

I couldnt say any better. Photo by: vikrameb

I couldn't say it any better. Photo by: vikrameb

Yesterday while I was on my way to work, the discussion over the radio got me so immersed into it that I had to maintain the minimum focus required to drive safely. And how can I not, the condition was perfect: there’s nice summer sun outside, I was tuned to Magic 89.9 FM’s morning show with Mo, Mojo and Grace Lee and they’re talking about my favorite topic – piracy.

I have a love-hate relationship with this show. But more often than not, I’m tuned in to this station as I find this lively trio very great companion especially when driving alone…and sleepy. Some people call or classify such show as talk radio because most the time there’s incessant blabbing about almost everything under the sun. And when I say everything, it really does mean almost everything. Thus, making the show as one of, if not the only, the most controversial morning shows.

Among the trio, the most dominant character is Mo who’s not only a fast talker but who is likewise full of ideas that some of it are out of this world, downright offending (at least to me) and some are just not even fit to be discussed during a morning show wherein every mom, dad, uncle, aunt and other mature individuals may be listening and may be with kids at the same time. I’ve heard him discuss about premarital sex, religion, politics, lesbianism and other taboo stuffs, and of course, piracy.

So yesterday was no exemption. The moment I heard him mention the word piracy, I slowed down and I listened – the discussion among the group and their exchanges with the callers were interesting albeit I find some of it just irritating.

Mo was once again defending and reiterating his stand that although he doesn’t directly promote piracy on his (their) radio show, he sees a lot of advantage and benefit out of it – other than the obvious difference in price between the licensed and the bootleg. One of the things he pointed out is about the movie industry. According to him, because of piracy which started several years ago, the original films have become available in the Philippines almost at the same time when it is released from its country of origin.

Mo said that years ago, it would take one film to reach the Philippines almost a couple of months after Hollywood, for example, releases it to cinemas in the US. And this is where piracy comes in handy. Most probably while the film is rolling somewhere in the US, some unscrupulous cinema insider (or viewer) is recording an illicit copy of the film and immediately distributes it to their contacts from the other country. Now these contacts sell the film’s copy to people who are so eager to watch it. So when the time comes for the original film to be shown in theaters, the revenue flops. Of course, who wants to pay and watch a re-run? – Simple reasoning, yet rude and yet practical. And this, according to Mo, is when producers eventually learned and realized that they need to compete or they’ll lose their market share to those illegal distributors. At this point of the argument, I caught myself nodding in conformity.

Another case that Mo presented or re-presented (as I heard about it a couple of times already) is about computer software piracy. He believes that it is the only way for poor nations, like ours, and its people to compete and put them at par with the rest of the world when it comes to computer literacy. Although, I agree with the need to compete, I don’t however agree with how it is achieved by piracy.

As much as I hated it, Mo’s point got me thinking. Quite frankly, I’ve been pondering lately if I’m cursed for knowing that piracy is stealing. Often times some people, like most of my friends, see it as plain practicality and the need to learn about one software is one good justification to get hold of its bootleg counterpart. I’m not saying that these people are bad – or thieves for this matter. I might say though that they are misinformed or has chosen to keep a blind eye about it.

As I end my driving until I got out of Intel’s parking lot, my mind was occupied with so many questions just from the 20 minutes I spent listening to the radio.

So am I not being practical then?

Am I stupid to believe that I shouldn’t be buying any of these bootleg stuffs? Or am I now alone with this belief or advocacy?

Will my next employer reject me because I did not learn as much software as I can because I don’t have the guts to buy a pirated copy?

Am I going to be left behind then in the end?

Do I have to steal to learn?

Is it a good thing that while I teach my boy about good manners and right conduct, he’s watching a pirated educational DVD?

Do I need to seek professional advice to get over with my firm stand against it?

Maybe I’ll think all about it. Although I’m still hoping that in the end all of my answers will still be a big NO – unless they change the law against it. And hopefully whatever the reasons are why most people patronize pirated products, I still hope (or is wish a correct term?) that soon enough the fight against piracy will win because I really believe that behind those cheap illegal goods that some of us enjoy others are suffering just because of it.

 

 

Photo credit: vikrameb

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Online Freebies

 

As previously mentioned, my mother’s 2 year PC remained almost in its pristine condition. Until now, the only files that got updated or added in it are pictures. And normally, it is always us who did the downloading every time we pay them a visit especially during December. The whole year round she uses it only to get connected to us through emails – thankfully she learned how to do it.

 

Having used it again for this week’s short vacation, I had mixed feelings when I discovered about its almost untouched state. I feel happy that at least she haven’t installed any bootleg softwares in it. But at the same time I feel a bit frustrated as it still obviously lacks MS Office, photo editors, file compression and other tools that I need to do a blog – easily, and also share pictures to my distant sister who always craves to see what’s happening back here.

 

So instead of wishing I had another $100 to shed for a genuine MS Office installer, my desperate mind remembered to check the web for what might be legally free so I can proceed with my business of blogging, editing, and uploading of pics.

 

Fortunately, my web searches became fruitful enough and with the help of my mother’s PLDT Vibe connection I diligently (mark this word) spent some time checking these freebies. The following are the result of my downloads:

 

*OpenOffice. This is an underdog with a surprising package compared to Microsoft’s Office. I’ve actually heard about this before from a friend who is an OSS (Linux) fan. But since I have a genuine MS Office software back then, I ignored the existence of a free OpenOffice. Now, after downloading the approx 150MB file, I instantly became a fan. I never knew that this free software will match that of its Microsoft counterpart. In fact, I’m now using its Writer (to do this blog) and I find the interface and features not so far apart from MS Word. It has all the basics such as spell checker, formatting buttons and what surprised me most it also has an autorecovery feature – no need to worry when the PC shutdowns after the baby pressed on some buttons intentionally or not.

 

*GIMP 2. It’s short for GNU Image Manipulation Program 2. I downloaded this free photo editor with the intention of just resizing the large image files for an easy Flickr.com uploading. It came as a surprise when I saw that this one is almost the same with my Canon photo editor. One cool feature I find is its ability to scale an image just by selecting the scale button and then dragging the corners of the picture. During the process a window shows the aspect ratio of your file so that one can stop at the desired size. The downside of this software though is that it’s a bit slow and cannot accommodate multiple files in an instant. File size: 15MB.

 

*VSO Image resizer. Now this one means business when the job is just about resizing. VSO resizes multiple files in a jiffy. Period. This one is highly recommended. File size: 6MB.

 

With these files I now feel that I’m getting hooked with online freewares (legit). I’m now actually looking for a free screen grabber but so far the one that I’ve downloaded (sreengrabberinstall.zip) seems to be a disappointment as its installation requires another file to be downloaded. Anyway, the three files I mentioned may be enough for now. Somehow, this just proves the cliché, “the best things in life are free.”

 

***

 

I said to mark the word “diligently” when using PLDT Vibe’s connection. Why? That’s because it did not perform to my expectation. My mother have a P999 plan and it’s supposed to have at least 500kbps (or even more) connection speed but upon using speedtest.net’s tester it only yielded 196kbps download speed. My Digitel connection at home can even match that at some point and my subscription plan is just for 128kbps. I have doubts now if I’ll change DSL provider next year. Ti abi.

 

 

Mood: 3/10Honks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair-Weather Values

The welcoming bright morning sun today seems to have little or no help at all to keep the bleak news from coming out of The Philippine Star newspaper into our breakfast table.

“US recession looms” is today’s headline. And what follows on the next articles and pages are just as frustrating if not scary. “Layoffs spreading across corporate America”,”RP flunks US think tank’s corruption indicator, loses new funds”. Switching to CNN didn’t help fan out the negativity either. It just brought more stories about people expected to be jobless and horrible stories of starvation and hopelessness in Zimbabwe.

These somehow gave me a guilty feeling while we eat breakfast in front of the TV and with me silently counting off another Sunday of being employed. How self-centered can I get when other people faces far more serious problem than I currently have.

Just after several minutes of scanning the papers and watching the news, I realize how still lucky I am to have brewed coffee, fresh hot pan de sal and another perfect omelet courtesy of wifey. That moment someone from the USA is being evicted out of his hard-earned home for not being able to pay it. And much worse, a lot of people in Zimbabwe are thinking where they’re going to get potable water in the next few hours. Others might even just die trying to find one. Literally.

Well that’s just how sad the reality is nowadays. Being jobless is the “IN” thing. Starvation is inevitable. Bankruptcy is as frequent as before. In short, let’s face it, the world is in crisis.

And being in crisis, I can’t help but wonder if the values I personally believe would remain as is. The dilemma roaming inside my head just can’t be ignored.

Will I still have the same morals in which I’ve come to practice?

Will I still continue with my advocacies such as anti-piracy and environmentalism?

Will I still strive to do my best to drive with courtesy in mind?

Will I still continue to use the pedestrian lane?

Will I still refuse to bribe cops and government employees?

 

These are just actually few of the questions that have lately come into consideration. Someone said before that during the worse situations our true character comes out. And so with this I will commit that I’m standing by with what I value the most. The answer therefore to some of the questions I have will be, Yes.

Yes, I will continue…

…To respect my parents and elders. I will still be around to look after them. I will call them as often as I can even if that means that I have to stop sending nonsense SMS to friends to save on prepaid load.

…To respect and be courteous and rational in treating cashiers, janitors, saleslady, waiters, drivers and other blue-collared employees who offer their services to me. Who knows, I might be working with them soon.

…To say no to piracy no matter how hard the urge to buy these things in the name of saving (at the expense of other people).

…To be courteous in the road. And avoid…or at least try not to honk my horn unnecessarily. (This is another topic deserving another blog entry. I can see wifey smiling.)

…To cross the road using the pedestrian lane even if I’m in a hurry for a job interview.

…To reject the temptation to deal with any form of fixers even if this means delaying the start up of my small business.

 

Right now it may be easier said than done. But also right now, I’m saying it out loud as my commitment. As much as I hate fair-weather friends, I hate having fair-weather values.

 

How about you?

 

dilemma...

dilemma...

Posting From Microsoft Office Word 2007

 

I love Bill Gates. I love Microsoft. No this isn’t obsession (yet), but just a recent appreciation of how MS Word 2007 makes a bloggers life more convenient. I was hesitant at first to use this feature as I’m one paranoid especially when a pops-up and asks me the about my personal info including my password. Previous training (and common sense) tells me that passwords should never be shared. And as one quote says, “If you want others to keep your secret, keep it yourself.” – this is just one of the so many clichés that I keep inside my paranoid gray matter.

I dread option this more than not having a helmet while on a motorcycle.

I dread option this more than not having a helmet while on a motorcycle.

Come to think of it though at some point of our lives, and if some are still not aware of it, we just have to give our trusts to other people especially now that information technology is an unavoidable thing. Gone are the days when browsing through files in the filing cabinet is cumbersome. And nowadays it’s not only those nerdy (pardon the word, but some people appreciate it when they called nerdy) IT people that holds your life’s info in their hands. There are others who are hook to that imaginary camera around as if you’re one Big Brother contestant. And so you’ll wonder who these people are anyhow? Let me name a few:

  • 1. Network admins – they have the privilege to access your emails, blogs and any other IT related matter. I consider them the highest threat in the exchange of information. That’s why most of them are among the highest paid positions other than nurses.
  • 2. Credit card company – they know how you spend, know what you buy (and compulsion), what’s your salary and any other financial info that you’ve submitted to them when you applied for that unarmed robber inside your wallet – i.e., your credit card.
  • 3. Your friendly doctor or physician – they know your body more than you do – unless you’ve personally probed your behind to look for lumps (ouch!).
  • 4. NBI (or FBI in the US) – they know your fingers (print) better and has the capability to exchange it with someone else’s. So be extra friendly with your finger print technicians.
  • 5. Morgue personnel – morbid as it may seem, they are the least of your worries for unavoidable embarrassment. You know what I’m talking about. At least, your next of kin will be the one who will entrust you to them.

That’s funny, but when I typed the title above, I never knew that I’ll somehow end up relating it to the last bullet. It must be a result of another bloody CSI episode this week. Anyway, and to get back to the topic, since its imminent that I’ll be spending quite some time blogging in the new days to come, I finally have to give in once again to entrusting my secret alphanumeric code – A.K.A passwords – to those behind this MS Word 2007 feature of publishing a blog directly without having to open an internet browser. It’s a compromise, I give my trust to them, and they give me the “publish” menu in my MS Word in return. That’s just the way it works and how can I complain?

This is not wordstar anymore.

This is not wordstar anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And today, while the Jetman is probably still fast asleep after setting the first english channel crossing by using his wing invention, I on the other hand is celebrating in my own petty way for having my first blog published thru MS Office Word 2007.

Not Guinness book-worthy, but a record nevertheless.

Not Guinness book-worthy, but a record nevertheless.

 

Man of Steal

(this one is originally intended for my alma mater’s blog site.)

I was thinking of a better title for this blog and I remember a high school classmate, name withheld (hahaha), that we tagged as “Man of Steal” not that he’s a professional thief, but it’s just that he had this annoying habit of not returning things he borrowed or worse keeping small petty stuff that our classmates possessed and valued, such as David Pomeranz tapes (yes tapes!), books, etc.

I’m quite sure we’ve had our share of petty thievery way, way back, or so I hope. We’ve sneaked into our nanay’s wallet to fund our Masskara escapades, we’ve kept extra resistors from the lab to support our home-made audio amplifiers and boosters, we’ve raided the stock room to pick extra welding rods for our bike’s frame. Or we’ve intentionally or unintentionally grabbed one lumpia or burger from Claire without shedding a single centavo.

Those who are guilty, please raise your hands? Wait, I can’t type one-handed.

Mr. Genito’s reminder prior to our last OJT still stays fresh in my mind, “INDI pagkuhaon maski bato sa inyo ulobrahan (DO NOT take even a single rock from your company)”. I would always remember that briefing every time I’d see gravel in the parking lot, “Maski ini? (Even this?)”, I’d ask myself, “Oo, maski ina! (Yes, even that!)”, my good side will respond immediately.

As the technology around us gets more advance and affordable to almost everyone, another form of stealing gets so rampant and so common; one wouldn’t know that he has actually participated in it. Even those with the best of intentions, regardless of social status, religion, or profession are victims (or in cahoots?). Even friends.

This is piracy.

Once again I’m guilty as charged. But that was more than 8 years ago. I remember the last one I bought was a bootleg copy of Tom Hank’s Cast Away. I bought it from one of the malls in Alabang. I grabbed some beer, pulutan and then went home so eager to watch it but almost crushed our VCD player in disgust when in the middle of the story it started pixelating and ruined our night altogether. That was it. I had enough.

I guess it was one of my wake up calls to end the illicit practice once and for all. And as if trying to justify that life changing decision, I read the papers, watched the news and attended company supported training sessions related to this. Then things such as Intellectual Property & Copyright laws came into my awareness too.

Of course everyone knew how costly (some may find it even ridiculous and stupid) it is to stop buying pirated products nowadays. It’s the reason why my Core 2 Duo still has the genuine Windows ’98 OS in it and until now the dual core processor is concentrating its power on XP’s solitaire game. Dasig gid eh (very quick), if you may ask. And since then, my wife and I also started saving to buy the audio CDs and DVDs that we like. If the budget isn’t available we’d content ourselves to listening over the radio, watch the cable channels, or getting in the cinemas.

Although feeling good about doing the right thing, I’ve kept mum about this though. Pushing this advocacy in front of most people I know would either get me booted out of my circle of friends or get raised eyebrows at the very least. I even discovered that one high position expat got a whole shelf of “Quiapo” DVDs in his home. It’s just plainly disappointing and frustrating.

Until now I’m still wondering if there will come a time that the government and other concerned organization will eradicate or at least lessen this illegal trade that’s been killing almost the whole industry – even food, toys, books, textile and any other merchandise present in the market are affected. Wishful thinking, huh? If and when that time comes, I’ll be one proud man.

And by the way, if after reading this one might wonder if I’m OMB chairman Edu Manzano? I wish. But I’m not. I’m just one concerned individual hoping to influence at least one. Yes, at least one who might influence another one.

Now, are you the Man of Steal?