Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3rd International PyroMusical in MOA

The dates have been set.
The 3rd Philippine International Pyromusical Competition will be held in SM Mall of Asia from Feb 11, 2012 to March 17, 2012 with twelve countries participating. Last year's winner was China.

Before the birth of the annual Pyromusical Competition in MOA, there was also a yearly international event called the World Pyro Olympics.


Relive the World Pyro Olympics by clicking these links:

Every Friday and Saturday at 7:00pm, SM MOA gives MOA folks a free five minute pyrotechnics show. Here is how it looks like from SM Sea Residences condo located in front of SM Mall of Asia.








Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sea Residences Orientation

My wife and I can't stop thinking that our view and accept of the SM Sea Residences condo is only a few days away. It came to a point that on a Saturday morning we decided to gate crash on the house rules orientation even though we were not on the list for that day. It is our first experience to buy a condo and we can't get it off our minds.

Sea Residences is located in Mall of Asia Complex and is just a few steps away from MOA.


I remember our experience in the World Pyro Olympics in MOA, the fantastic fireworks and the unbelievably long time it took us to get back home. I guess in the back of our minds, this was one of the reasons why we decided to buy a property there.


A big arena and concert ground is near the area as well as PAGCOR City and a new Nayong Pilipino I also read somewhere that SM is negotiating to have some of the NBA games held in MOA Complex.


Ours is a simple single bedroom unit with balcony where a maximum of 3 occupants is allowed. The picture above was taken from the model unit. Our unit will be furnished and designed by my wife.


The kitchen is pretty decent with built-in electric stove on the granite countertop and a range hood above it (photo of the model unit also).


Keys, keys, keys. A mailbox for each condo unit.

We don't have any condo owner down and dirty rules experience in the past so the house rules orientation is a big thing to us.


Here are some of the highlights based on what us who attended raised.

  • During a power failure, the main electrical switch must be manually switched from Meralco power to the building generator. It is not automatic. So my mental note self: install a wall mounted emergency light. It's normal, I believe. Even hotels and malls have wall mounted emergency lights powered by rechargeable batteries. To protect the company I worked for from power failure, the whole plant ran on it's own energy center that houses several giant Myanmar generators 24/7. It was like this for more than a decade. Too much fuel used, Petron very happy. Then we decided to invest on UPS. But it is a very serious investment that needed tons on money.
  • The generator can't supply power to all lights and electrical outlets. It will supply power to only a select few. Requested that those lights and outlets be identified.
  • No garbage chute. Trash must be collected by unit owners, placed in bags and placed outside the front door on specific times. This stirred up the emotions of the attendees and images of hallways lined with stinky garbage bags floated in the air. This must be on top of the improvement items list of the the Home Owner's Association - us.
  • 1.5 hp max air con capacity. Everyone was interested to know what the other max ratings are. But no direct answer was given.
  • Allowed delivery window for items to be moved in is 9am to 5pm, Mon to Sat.
  • Swimming not yet allowed in the swimming pools, although already filled with water and cleaned daily.
  • Underground parking have no identification numbers yet so parking slot owners will be given random parking slots but it does not mean it will be their permanent slot.
  • No service elevator. All stuffs you bring inside will use the elevators in the lobby. If your stuffs won't fit, use the stairs.

After the orientation, I peeked at the label in the main electrical switch. Max ratings I saw there:

  • Water heater = 3.3 KW
  • Air con = 1.5 hp
  • Range/Range hood = 3.5 KW
  • Washing machine = 1.5 KW
There was also a note there that the emergency generator will supply power to the living room and bedroom lights and the outlet assigned to the refrigerator. So I guess that indirectly answers one of the concern above.

No earth shaking news in the orientation. Valid and typical concerns.
A few work items to be ironed out by the future home owners.
But I am really interested on how other condos manage their trash.
Can somebody share?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

2012 Toyota Innova and Toyota Fortuner

The first generation Toyota Innova and Toyota Fortuner were launched in the Philippines in 2005. Three years later, it received its mid life kicker in the form of a facelift of the bumpers and new rear combination lights. Now its life is coming to an end (the average Pinoy car's model life is 6 years with a minor facelift in the middle). So late this year or in early 2012, the 2nd generation Toyota Innova and Toyota Fortuner will be introduced in the Philippines.

Toyota Astra is already starting to slowly update their website to the second generation Toyota Innova and Toyota Fortuner. These models were already on display in the recently concluded International Motor Show in Indonesia. So the pics below are fairly accurate on what to expect here in the Philippines, plus or minus some features.

The new Innova and Fortuner borrowed some genes from the Toyota Altis in the form of more horizontal grilles and the protruding headlights. The Toyota family resemblance is unmistakable and is now spread across most of their product lines.

A friend was planning to replace their car. But for now, they will patiently wait for the release of the new models. Because if they buy now, it will quickly look obsolete next year. Waah, I also want one.

Next Generation Toyota Innova (2012)




Next Generation Toyota Fortuner (2012)




Saturday, July 30, 2011

CD-R King 7" Android Tablet - FastPad

CD-R King just introduced a 7" Android Tablet that they named FastPad. And it costs only 8,800 pesos.
The specs of their Android Tablet are pretty decent for its price.

  • 1 Ghz Arm Cortex A8 - based Samsung S5PV210 processor
  • 4 GB internal storage expandable to 32 GB
  • 512 MB DDR2 RAM
  • 7 inch 800x480 resolution capacitive touch screen
  • Android 2.2 (Froyo) with Flash 10.1 support
  • Android Marketplace
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
  • 1 HDMI port, 2 USB ports, 3.5" audio port, memory card slot
  • Built-in microphone and stereo speakers
  • 3MP front facing camera
  • Accelerometer for screen orientation and motion sensing apps and games
  • Video: 1080p HD, MPEG4, H.264, H.263, VC1, RMVB, RM, 3GP, AVI, MKV, MOV
  • Audio: MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, AAC+
  • Image: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF
  • Ebook: UMD, TXT, PDF
  • Quickoffice support
The only things missing are GPS/A-GPS, bluetooth and 3G SIM card slot.

My guess is it's a re-branded DroPad A8.
Click here for extensive web reviews.

If this is indeed a DroPad, one neat feature is ability to connect a keyboard & mouse to the USB port. With these connected you vitually have a pretty well equipped netbook similar to an ASUS EeePad Transformer. The USB port also accepts 3G USB internet sticks (available from Smart, Globe or Sun) to have internet connection on the go. So the absence of a SIM card slot has a work around.

Good bang for the buck!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

MMDA Online Traffic Update

I envy the Google Maps version in the US with the up to date layer of traffic info that can tell you where traffic congestions are and suggest alternate routes for your destination.

MMDA and TV5 launched a beta version of a traffic update service for 6 main roads in Metro Manila (EDSA, Quezon Avenue, Espana, C5, Roxas Boulevard and SLEX). It's years behind whats available in Google Maps US and GPS navigators there, but it's still a good start for Manila than nothing at all.

Traffic congestion levels are color coded red, yellow and green. System view, line view and Google Map views are available. The traffic condition is updated every 5 to 10 minutes between 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

I hope they get full integration will Google Maps for mobile phones so that Google Maps GPS navigation in Manila would be even better. For now you can access their website using either your PC or Phone connected to a wi-fi or 3G network.

System view of the traffic condition of parts of EDSA, Quezon Avenue and C5

MMDA Traffic Nav 1

Google Maps view of the traffic condition in EDSA

MMDA Traffic Nav 2

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home 3D Imaging Without The Glasses

There are a variety of ways to view 3D images and videos depending on how the media content was created.
  • A pair of color films, one for the left eye and one for the right eye then optics to direct each of the to each eye. The viewing aparatus is fashioned like a binocular like those View Master toys.
  • 3D glasses where one lens is tinted blue and the other is tinted red. This is common in children's books.
  • Passive polarized 3D glasses like the ones used in SM 3D cinemas, Enchanted Kingdom 4D Theater and the IMAX theater in Mall of Asia.
  • Active shutter 3D glasses like those used in Sony, LG and Samsung LCD and LED backlit LCD TVs.
  • Holograms such as the authentication logo stickers on credit cards of Visa/Mastercard, Nokia batteries and HP ink refills.
  • Lenticular screens with a parallax barrier that splits images for the left and right eye like those used in the Nintendo 3DS and HTC Evo 3D. 
There's another method that you can use and play around with at home. No fancy gadget needed. See the samples below.

This is an old photo taken in the 16th infantry camp in the Philippines a long time ago. It is a good photograph but you can make it even better. Turn it to 3D !

Old Phil - Norm

The photo above is actually a scan of an old stereographic card that was originally taken using a stereoscopic camera (a kind of old camera with two lens separated the same distance as the human eye). A special apparatus was then used to view the two images simultaneously in the stereographic cards similar to what View Master toys do.

Old Phil - Stereo

But there's another way to view these stereoscopic cards without a need for fancy gadgets. It is called wiggle spectroscophy. To demonstrate, I combined the two images above and came up with this image where you can have a feel of the depth of the image and gives more umph to the old photograph.

It resembles that Matrix movie look on the scene when Trinity jumped and made her Karate Kid pose as time slowed down. This effect made my jaw drop the first time I saw it. You can do this at home using an ordinary camera or cellphone by taking multiple photos of the subject at slightly different angles then merging them like what I did with the wiggle 3D images below.

If you happen to see me taking photos while kinda dancing left and right, you may have just caught me framing my next wiggle 3D photo.

This wiggly stuff can be made easier. If current 3D gadgets like the Nintendo 3DS and HTC Evo develop an app that process the 3D image taken by the 3D camera to generate the wiggle image automatically.

A level higher in gadget development would be to combine the motion sensing algorithm of the XBox Kinect and the front facing camera of today's phones plus an app that tracks the user's head then adjusts the wiggle image displayed on the screen correspondingly. With this in place, you can take a slight peek of what's behind an image simply by tilting your head.

Of course for hard core photography, you can buy a Loreo 3D Lens in a Cap that fit popular DSLR cameras. Costs $93 to $150. Or buy a Fuji Finepix Real 3D camera, a Minoru 3D webcam. CD-R King displayed a 3D webcam a few months ago. or any of the soon to be released 3D smartphones and tablets such as the LG Optimus 3D, HTC Evo 3D or LG Optimus Pad 3D.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lytro: Picture Revolution

It it not often that a technology comes along that has huge impact to the industry and to consumers - what we call as "the best thing since sliced bread."

Before sliced bread there was the invention of the wheel. Then some notable disruptive technologies after sliced bread are pasteurization, the internet, iPhone/iPad and now... Lytro.

What's so special about Lytro? It completely changes how we do photography since the word photography was coined and the camera device was invented. Up to now what we do to take a picture is point on the selected subject, focus manually or automatically, then press a button to capture the image. Lytro makes the focusing step obsolete during picture taking. You just shoot without care using a Lytro camera. What's great about it is that all images taken looks like it was taken by an SLR camera with a shallow depth of field (DOF) lens. When you view the image at home, you can select which part of the photo is focused and its background and foreground automatically becomes blurred. Then click again on another part of the photo then the image will re-focus automatically. No need for editing in PhotoShop or Picasa to get that blur effect. This is what I call "a true point and shoot camera" unlike today's camera that are actually "point and focus and shoot camera."

Shown below is a single shot taken with a Lytro camera veiwed depending on what part of the image you want to be in focus. Clicking on the tip of the spear results to the image on the left while clicking on the person produces the image on the right. No editing needed - the picture is fully interactive - just click any part of the image then the focus immediately changes to it.


Go to their website and browse the picture gallery. Each photo you find there are interactive Lytro images. Just click on an area of a photo and observe with mouth open what happens. I bet even Steve Jobs himself will call this "magical."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chick-Boy Chicken and Baboy

While passing by GMA Cavite a few weeks back, I saw an eye catching restaurant being constructed called Chick-Boy. So when it opened, we were there a few days later. I love Cebu and Iligan lechon baboy. I haven't found that same lechon experience in Luzon where the meat is tender and tasty without a need for a lechon sauce - I call it the autonomous lechon. The love and quest for that kind of lechon brought us to Chick-Boy. Their lechon are roasted as meat slabs, not as whole pigs. Served as cutlets of crispy lechon with rice wrapped in banana leaves.


The meat has that saltiness and flavor that goes well with the vinegar sauce that comes with it. This is the style of eating lechon down south (Visayas and Mindanao).


All tables have a bottle of the sweet lechon liver sauce that's popular in Luzon and a bottle of crispy garlic so no problem making your own garlic rice.


Chick-Boy's lechon is closer to the lechon Cebu taste than what other Cebu lechon stalls you find out there. Now I have a go to place whenever I crave for lechon.

An order of a soup dish pairs well with lechon and rice. In our first visit we tried a bowl of batchoy.


For dessert we tried their leche flan and turones de leche. I though the turones de leche was some sort of fried Mazapan sweets called turones. But they were actually mini turon - thus the name turones. It's made of long strips of banana wrapped in turon wrapper to about the same size as your average lumpia shanghai, deep fried then served with some kind of gooey yema dip. Sarap! I'll have these again for sure the next time.


Next visit I'll have their lechon manok and sample their other soup dishes.

There are three Chick-Boy restaurants along Governor's drive in Cavite. One in GMA where we ate, another one is under construction in Manggahan, General Trias and another one will soon rise in Terraza of Robinsons Dasmarinas.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pinoy Shabu-Shabu

Written by Lilia B. Unite

I have been staying away from shabu-shabu for quite sometime after my funny experience years ago in Chengdu, China:

It was already late at night when I went out with one of my colleagues for dinner. Most of the restaurants we saw were selling unfamiliar Chinese cuisines. We were a little bit relieved when we saw an English Shabu-Shabu restaurant sign. Unfortunately, their menu were all in Chinese without any picture to give us a clue what they mean. None of their staffs knew how to speak English. After 15 minutes of struggling with charades and pictionary style communication, we decided to just let the waitress order for us. Confused on what we wanted and to be safe, she ordered all of the possible ingredients available leaving my friend and I with a table full of familiar and exotic raw foods enough to feed an army battalion and enough for me not to crave for shabu-shabu for a long time.

Then came last week when we passed by the newly opened Seferino shabu-shabu restaurant in Robinson’s Dasmarinas.


Seferino’s ambiance was quiet and not smelly unlike other shabu-shabu restaurants I went to. It’s a great place to go for chit chat while having a good meal. On top of shabu-shabu, they also offer different Asian and Filipino cuisines. If you are ordering other meals, their shabu-shabu solo will be enough for two persons to share.

One thing I like about having shabu-shabu is seeing your food prepared and cooked in front of you and the variety of ingredients you can choose from.



At Seferino, they have a pre-selected set of ingredients when you order shabu-shabu that's a combination of seafoods like fish, squid, shrimp, squid balls, crab meat mixed with strips of thinly sliced pork, beef and lots of green pechay and cabbage. It's a good break from the typical fried foods we eat in fast food restos.


Surprisingly, my picky eater daughter liked it too. This prompted me to create our home made version of shabu-shabu using common ingredients in our kitchen.

Lucky Me Pork Ribs Instant Noodles
Fresh pork bacon cuts
Squid balls
Sweet corn
Tomato (whole or big slices)
Banana (the variety for cooking)
Soy sauce (depending on how you like the soup base to taste)

1. Prepare all the ingredients and place them in a platter.


2. Prepare the soup base by mixing Lucky Me Pork Ribs seasoning mix in boiling water. Set aside the noodles for now. You can use the noodles as alternative for shabu-shabu noodle if you don’t have any. Add soy sauce to taste. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.


3. Put the meat, squid balls, siomai and corn and let it boil. When they're half cooked, add in the sliced carrots and banana.


4. When almost done, lower the heat and add in the noodles, tomato, pechay and cabbage then simmer for 2 minutes. Do not overcook the vegetables. Then serve immediately and enjoy eating.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Subic 2011

From the 16th hot air balloon fiesta in Clark, we had a quick breakfast and proceeded to Subic.


We arrived just in time for the start of the morning shows.


The hilarious Sea Lion Marine Patrol Show.


A Walk on the Wild Side for a quick jungle survival tutorial and animal show.




The Adventure of Olongapo Jones that features the Basura Boys who are great trampoline acrobats. And lastly the dolphin show that was as good as ever. We finished all shows by lunch time. At 2pm we left Ocean Adventure and went to the hotel for an afternoon rest. The short rest was just enough to energize us again because we were up an about since 1:30am that day when we started our long ourney from Laguna to Clark's Hot Air Balloon Fiesta then to Subic.


Dinner was in Meat Plus for steaks and their banana fritters that I've been craving for.


Le Mans Go Kart was closed so after dinner we went back to the hotel. It was actually my mom's first time to visit Subic and to stay in a hotel for a night and she was very thankful. And this made me happy.


The next day was at a more relaxing to just savor Subic, being out of town, the scenery, shopping, dining and being together.







By 2pm Sunday, we were already in Makati. We were supposed meet my wife there before her afternoon class in AIM but she was still on her way to Makati.


We ate in Pepper Lunch then had gelato for dessert which were first time tries for my brothers.


It was a fun 2-day vacation and a memorable one for my mom.