Sunday, May 18, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

Last Friday, I got the chance to watch The Matrix Reloaded. Of course, like many women, I'm so thrilled to see Keanu Reeves back in this exciting film. (the love story part, wow, grabe talaga, super!)

I can't help it while watching the film, especially the part where the Oracle and Neo met, she just gave the best explanation of how object-oriented programming works. Where each object in the matrix is governed by an application that dictates on how it will interact with other objects in the environment. (Of course, we will have to wait for the Matrix Revolution this November in order to realize whether the Oracle betrayed Neo or was replaced by someone else.)

When the Architect (technology or system architect) was shown at the latter part of the movie, I can't help but say that the software
development methodology of the Matrix is still at CMMI level 1. Imagined the Matrix crashing 6 times already, they should have
learned by now.

It is also an issue of lack of security for the mother for the matrix, the Oracle, did something that none of its believers ever thought it would do, betray them (remains to be proven) and created the prophecy story to divert their attention. Although there's also the possibility that the Architect created such diversion.

Two thumbs up for The Matrix Reloaded and look forward to The Matrix Revolutions this November.

Friday, May 16, 2003

GlobeQUEST Launches Wireless Broadband Service

Globe Telecom, through its GlobeQUEST brand, launched last Friday one of the country's first wireless broadband Internet services which allows fast and instant Internet connection minus the complications of cables, sockets, jacks, and ports.

Dubbed as GlobeQUEST WiZ (Wireless Internet Zone), this is initially deployed at the newly-constructed Greenbelt 2 and 3 in Makati City, RCBC EAT Food Court, Greenhills Theatre mall, Pioneer Highlands Tower I Upper Ground level, Cebu City Sports Club, Ayala Center Cebu and University of Asia and the Pacific.

Immediately to follow within the month are The Legend Hotel, Fontana Leisure Park, Fontana Convention Center, Cebu Waterfront Hotel, Glorietta, Kaya Restaurant in Rockwell and Jupiter Street, and Kelly Blue Cafe in Pampanga among others. Its first Airport HotSpot will also be availablein Mactan International Airpot, Cebu.

WiZ allows connection to the Internet at broadband speeds using a WiFi enabled laptop or personal digital assistant (PDA). It is available in both prepaid and postpaid plans. As a value-added service to existing GlobeQUEST dial-up and DSL solo subscribers just need to pay an additional P500 per month to extend unlimited use to WIZ hotspots.

While the majority of the population remains oblivious to this new technology, such is expected to change soon. The main issue is portability. With Wi-Fi, a traveling businessman, for instance, can simply bring along his laptop computer from his/her home, to the office, to a restaurant, to a hotel or even to the airport and still be connected to the Internet.

Wi-Fi is noted to be cheaper and easier to deploy than its wireless counterpart, thereby, allowing people to take their offices with them and move place to place.

Wi-Fi, sometimes called Wireless Broadband or WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) and is known as 802.11b in technical parlance, is a specification developed by the Insititute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (IEEE). It has become the only standard deployed for public short-range networks. Also known as local wireless network, Wi-Fi is slowly but steadily making its presence felt since its introduction in 1999.

So far, Wi-Fi offers connections of as fast 11 megabits per second of raw data at distances from several dozen to several hundred feet in 2.4 GHz spectrum -- more than enough speed to keep up with the average Internet connection. And that speed will further increase as new variations of the technology are developed.

Jesus Romero, Head of GlobeQUEST, believes that, "Wi-Fi may still be in its infancy stage, but once fully developed, it will definitely revolutionize the way people work and live."

Thursday, May 15, 2003

VB.Net and the Transition to OOP

When Microsoft first launched .NET, there was quite a confusion that this suite is limited to building web-based applications. Not really, take the case of VB.NET. It can be used to create three different type of programs. They can either be web applications, windows applications, or console applications. All Visual Basic .NET programmers have one thing in common--they're learning a new language. But those who have previous programming experience, especially with Visual Basic or an object-oriented language, will find the learning curve much more accessible than those who have chosen VB.NET for their first language.

A dearth of good instructional books geared toward the novice has left the latter group feeling like outsiders--until now. Jesse Liberty, author of the best-selling books "Programming C#" and "and "Programming ASP.NET," has written Learning Visual Basic .NET (O'Reilly, US $34.95), an entry-level guide to learning the VB.NET language. Written in Liberty's characteristically warm and friendly style, this new book assumes no prior programming experience and provides an easy introduction to Microsoft's newest version of VB.

"Learning Visual Basic .NET" introduces the reader to fundamentals like Visual Studio .NET, object-oriented programming principles, and the Visual Basic .NET language itself. Readers will learn about the syntax and structure of the Visual Basic .NET language, including operators, classes and interfaces, structs, arrays, and strings. Liberty then demonstrates how to develop various kinds of applications--including those that work with databases--and web services.

This book also introduces the Virtual Studio .NET Integrated Development Environment (IDE), a tool designed to help in writing .NET applications.

Once they have mastered the subjects in "Learning Visual Basic .NET," readers will be ready to move on to more advanced books in VB.NET and .NET programming, with an aim to developing Windows and web applications. This book includes pointers to many print and online resources that will help readers in that pursuit. In the meantime, readers will find Liberty's book a lively and approachable introduction to Visual Basic .NET programming.

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

Nowadays, aside from having expertise in a programming language, object-oriented programming methodology is a knowledge most sought after too because of the flexibility and scability that it gives to the developer. In Visual Basic .NET this is a feature that developers have been demanding for years. Now that VB.NET has facilitated object-oriented programming, developers are making a new discovery--that there is a difference between using these tools and using them well.

In his new book, Object-Oriented Programming with Visual Basic .NET (O'Reilly, US $34.95), author J.P. Hamilton brings a fresh perspective to object-oriented programming by focusing on writing sound code and object-oriented design. Hamilton shows developers how to take advantage of VB.NET's new features to create and maintain scalable .NET components and applications.

In "Object-Oriented Programming with Visual Basic. NET" developers learn how to use object-oriented language features such as implementation inheritance, interface inheritance, object constructors, method overloading, and method overriding. Hamilton teaches readers how to think about similarities in their application logic and how to design and create objects that maximize the benefits and power of the .NET Framework. He also includes a discussion of refactoring, a kind of retroactive OOP in which generalizations are discovered after the fact, so that parent classes are written only after child classes.

Packed with examples that will guide readers through every step, "Object-Oriented Programming with Visual Basic .NET" is a guide for those with some programming experience. Written for those who know Visual Basic 6.0 and are ready for or have started the process of developing with Visual Basic .NET, this book is an essential tool for building strong object-oriented programming skills.
Manufacturing sector gets IT solution offerings from Siemens

Using a roving van to demonstrate its expertise as a leading industrial solution provider, Siemens, Inc. recently kicked-off its nationwide Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Innovation Tour for customers which presents the latest technology and trends in the area of automation and control.

Siemens Automation and Drives (A&D) group representatives will make the rounds of customers in key industrial cities around the Philippines including Metro Manila, Bacolod City, Dumaguete City, Cebu, Ormoc City, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, Davao City and General Santos City. The TIA Innovation Tour will highlight mini-exhibits and audiovisual presentations to showcase its range of services and solutions intended to solve automation tasks economically and ensure increased productivity of machines and lower acquisition, engineering and operating costs. These solutions will focus on the food and beverage, cement, sugar, power, steel, and chemical industries among others.

First launched in 1996, the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) concept offers its customers an integrated and unified approach to automation and drive technology – from drives and field devices through controls and software to process monitoring and communications. Since then, TIA has become the key to Siemens’ global economical success.

According to Buddy Bonifacio, Siemens, Inc.’s Senior Vice President for Automation and Drives, “Through the TIA Innovation Tour, our customers will get to view and appreciate the system design of our automation platform comprising modern industrial automation, drive, switching and installation technology. TIA provides customers a stable, flexible and extendable automation platform that can adjust to any technological change such as advances in communication networks and enable them to drive innovations faster than their competitors. Clearly, these benefits help our customers bring their industrial plants up-to-date and become information technology (IT)-enabled without expensive system gaps, thereby improving productivity and raising profits.”

Siemens claims to be the only manufacturer to provide horizontal and vertical integration of an integrated automation platform for all production stages and an information flow across all production levels from the enterprise resource planning level to the field level.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Digital Photography Made Fun and Easy

At first, I thought having a digital camera will make my picture-taking hobby fun and easy. As time goes by, I realized more and more that it takes skill and familiarity with the technology. There's also the issue of new models coming out too fast and too soon. Sometimes, you feel that the camera you're using now will be outdated and won't serve its purpose. However, as digital photography expert Derrick Story said, it is not the camera, it's the photographer that makes a great photo.

Digital cameras are now affordable, easy to use, and provide quality images that rival their traditional film counterparts. Digital images are easier to share, and because you only print the pictures you need, they're much more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

This slim little "Digital Photography Pocket Guide" gives you the tools and the knowledge to take the kind of pictures you've always wanted. Consider it your quick-reference photo mentor that explains each of the camera's components, shows you what they do, then helps you choose the right settings to accomplish your goal. When you want to ask an expert, "How can I get that picture?", simply pull this handy guide out of your camera bag, backpack, or back pocket, and you'll find the answer quickly.

The book covers everything from image resolution, flash modes, action photography, close ups and portraits, memory cards, emailing images, and archiving.

The "Digital Photography Pocket Guide" is for anyone who uses a digital camera. Even advanced amateurs forget whether to "overexpose" or "underexpose" in certain lighting conditions, and novices will appreciate the clear explanations of the various camera functions. Regardless of your prior experience, if you want to shoot like a pro with your digital camera, this guide is for you.
“Text”-Savvy RP Techies Granted Patents for Innovative SMS Products

Philippine-based Chikka Asia, Inc., and affiliate Bidshot, a mobile messaging and wireless services companies confirmed they have received patent grants from the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Patent grants are also expected shortly from the other countries signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Applications had in fact been filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty that extends patent protection to most major wireless markets including The Philippines and majority of European countries.

“Patents are an integral part of our investment in technology and our effort to establish the Philippines as a regional center for excellence in wireless applications development,” said Dennis Mendiola, Chikka Asia Inc., chief executive officer.

The patented methods and systems are employed in Chikka’s mobile-centric Instant Messenger, which connects PC users to cellular phones through text messaging or SMS (Short Message Service on GSM networks) and also in their other wireless applications and services. “Chikka” connects to all major Philippine GSM operators.

The announcement came at the heels of search reports confirming “no prior art” for Chikka’s patent-pending “suffixing” technology. A “no prior art” search report strongly suggests an inventive and novel technology and is the precursor of an actual patent grant.

“Suffixing” refers to the attachment of dynamic indices, be they numeric or alphabetic characters to a basic access code such as in 27701 or 277KISS wherein “277” is the main short code supplied by the GSM operator. A patent Chikka has filed says that depending on what a user texts to the main short code, the reply from its servers will have particular numbers attached to 277.

“This suffixing technology has allowed Chikka and Bidshot unparalleled creativity with plain SMS, making it (SMS) highly interactive. Thus, we have been able to adopt any successful model on the Net, like auction, instant messaging, Internet-related chat, or crush-dating, and bring them to the mobile texting world,” said Mendiola.

The patents were first employed for the PC to mobile texting application Chikka Txt Messenger where a message coming from a PC user is identified as coming from a basic access code plus the Chikka ID or in the case of a mobile user, the basic access code plus the GSM mobile phone number. In fact, a GSM number used as ones PC log-on ID is the subject of yet another patent.

Earlier, Bidshot Dotcom, a Chikka affiliate, assigned these “virtual GSM numbers” to transactions and items being auctioned off and bided upon by a community of buyers and sellers.

“The point has always been to give the mobile user more things to do through SMS while retaining the simplicity, intuitiveness and ease of use that has been at the very center of our love affair with text,” said Mendiola.

The two companies have in fact, ventured out of their original messaging and m-commerce platforms to exclusively employ these patented and patent-pending processes in mobile promotions and advertising, SMS-interactive TV and for corporate solutions such as text hotline and text radio.

A Singapore-registered subsidiary, Chikka Pte, Ltd., holds title to all of Chikka’s intellectual property assets, including all international treaty and national patents, brand names, trademarks and service marks.
Text Messaging Facility Launched for Seamen

Already in the service of millions of expatriate Filipinos, Chikka Asia, Inc., the company that opened the popular gateway to texting any mobile phone in the Philippines from any computer in the world, announced the launch of a new communications facility especially for seamen.

“Txt2mail” has actually been used by ordinary email users ever since its launch last year, but was only recently set up for those who go on-line “via satellite” in the open sea. Chikka developed the system for “crew mail” that is transmitted over the INMARSAT, a popular maritime communications and positioning system.

“It did not take long to realize the necessity of Txt2mail at Sea. Voice calls cost a few dollars per minute from the open sea. Email is available but the Filipino seaman’s family on-shore does not typically have PC or Internet access. What we have instead are cell phones!” said Dennis Mendiola, chief executive officer of Chikka Asia. “We hope by enabling Txt2mail over INMARSAT, to help make life at sea a little more bearable.”

A Txt2mail message from a Philippine mobile phone costs the standard value-added service (VAS) rate of P2.50 and is received as email aboard the ship. Email from the ship is meanwhile conveniently received and replied to, as ordinary text messages by family members on their GSM phones.

On embarking on a ship, seafarers may spend weeks on end in the high seas before disembarking once more in international ports whether at Rotterdam or Singapore, Busan or Vancouver and such. Shore leave is enjoyed for a few days before they head out to sea again. There are an estimated 1 million workers out at sea at any given time and Filipinos make up 30% of these seafarers. Other countries that produce seafarers include China, India, and many Eastern European countries such as Poland and Croatia.

“We understand that Filipinos coming from an archipelago of over 7000 islands are historically, seamen who have always lived close to water. But the fact is we are also some of the most family-oriented of peoples – who have recently developed a mean texting habit!” Mendiola added.

Chikka Asia Inc., created “Chikka Txt Messenger,” the world’s first mobile-centric Instant Messenger marrying the popular Instant Messaging platform with its counterpart in the wireless world, SMS (short message service on GSM networks). “Chikka,” which is the Filipino slang for “small talk” was then launched in the country, with the highest propensity to text per capita.

“Txt2mail at Sea is yet another step towards fulfilling Chikka Asia’s mission: to bring communities heretofore separated by geographical and technological barriers, together,” said Mendiola.

Chikka Txt Messenger and Txt2mail may be accessed at www.chikka.com.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Are you ready for Linux?

The reasons for switching to Linux are as varied as Linux users themselves. Whatever spirit of rebellion drives them to begin a Linux installation--whether they're fed up with commercial operating systems, or looking for something stable that will run on a clunker PC, or they just like living on the edge of the latest technological trends--Linux offers many options, for free, that will satisfy them. Moreover, these rebel Linux users soon find that they have a degree of control over their computer systems that they may not have previously experienced. Without much trouble, they can learn how Linux works, how to troubleshoot problems, and how to dig even more deeply into their systems.

There are so many reasons why more and more users are beginning to look into Linux. This includes:
1. Free software tools. There are various versions of Linux that can be downloaded for free. Nice softwares that performs tasks of popular softwares today can also be downloaded for free or paid for at a minimum amount.

2. Solid community. Globally there are Linux user groups, mailing lists, and organizations existing whose intent is help fellow Linux user. A newbie would find oneself with people supportive and helpful of each other in this community.

3. An alternative. For companies and individuals that can't keep on upgrading to accommodate new operating system developments but would want to have enough tools to get by with one's computing requirements, Linux provides an alternative for the prudent.

In order to get started, there's a lot of books available that one can learn from. A good one to look at is Running Linux (Welsh, Dalheimer, Dawson, and Kaufman, O'Reilly, US $44.95), a classic now in its fourth edition. It explains everything readers need to know to understand, install, and start using Linux.

Whether readers are installing Linux for the first time, or need to know more about a specific task, such as adding a network printer or configuring for ADSL, they will benefit from the authors' clear, well-organized instructions. The book doesn't draw the line at the kernel, or the shell, or the GUI, or even at the point of essential applications. Rather, the authors, experienced Linux enthusiasts, have anticipated problem areas, selected stable and popular solutions, and provided clear discussions and instructions to ensure that readers will have a satisfying experience running Linux. The discussion is direct and complete enough to guide novice users while still providing the additional information experienced users will need to progress in their mastery of Linux. The fourth edition of "Running Linux" delves deeper into installation, system administration, configuring desktops, and networking than earlier editions did. New topics include:

- The popular LAMP configuration that combines Linux with Apache, MySQL, and PHP
- Applications ready for prime time
- The GNOME desktop
- Basic security and firewalling
- Package management on Debian
- The Postfix mail transfer agent
- Sound configuration

A solid foundation text for any Linux user, the book also includes additional resources for dealing with special requirements imposed by hardware, advanced applications, and emerging technologies. Whether readers are using Linux on a home workstation or maintaining a network server, they'll find that "Running Linux" provides expert advice just when they need it.

Another book worth reading concurrently with the above is "Building Secure Servers with Linux". It focuses on the most common use of Linux--as a hub offering services to an organization or the larger Internet--and shows readers how to harden their hosts against attacks. As the cost of broadband and other high-speed internet connectivity has gone down, and its availability has increased, more Linux users are providing services such as HTTP, Anonymous FTP, etc., to the world at large. At the same time, some important, powerful, and popular open source tools have emerged and rapidly matured--some of which rival expensive commercial equivalents--making Linux a particularly appropriate platform for providing secure internet services. But security is uppermost in the mind of anyone providing such a service. Any server experiences casual probe attempts dozens of time a day, and serious break-in attempts are made with some frequency as well.

Bauer, a security consultant, network architect, and lead author of the popular "Paranoid Penguin" column in "Linux Journal," carefully outlines the security risks, defines precautions that can minimize those risks, and offers recipes for robust security. The book covers common situation where an organization protects its hub using other systems as firewalls.

An all-inclusive resource for Linux users who wish to harden their systems, "Building Secure Servers with Linux" covers general security as well as key services such as DNS, the Apache web server, mail, file transfer, and secure shell. The book includes:

- Precise directions for securing common services, including the Web, mail, DNS, and file transfer
- Ancillary tasks, such as hardening Linux, using SSH and certificates for tunneling, and using iptables for firewalling
- Basic installation of intrusion detection tools

"Building Secure Servers with Linux" explains security concepts and techniques in clear language, beginning with the fundamentals, so that Linux users with minimal knowledge of security will be able to grasp and apply its concepts. With this book in hand, Linux administrators will have everything they need to ensure robust security of their Linux systems.
Hello! It has been awhile since we last updated this website. As Jhermie Cheng now works for Avaya and Jherlie is tied up, more than ever, to DigitalFilipino.com. We decided to convert Infotech into a technical review site featuring interesting books, hardware, software, among others, that might interest you. Hope you'll like it.