Category Archives: online tool apps

A Google off-guard moment…again. (April 1)

Of all the April Fool’s Day jokes I eagerly await for, it’s Google’s that makes or breaks it for me.

Google Motion (Beta) Apr 1, 2011

Google Motion (Beta) Apr 1, 2011

Ever since its first April Fools Day joke pulled off to very unsuspecting users like myself in 2000, of its “Mental Plex” page (back then, the term “‘netizen” was still so much in vogue, preceded by the clichéd “information superhighway”, and “broadband speed” at home was a dream state we all wished to have), Google’s April Fool’s Day pages were the ones that’d get women like myself, inclined to a little bit of geeky-ness, happily face-palming and getting like-minded discussants into hours-long analyses, Google easter egg lists and such, in forums and chat rooms (it was even more fun when newer members joined in).

Eleven years into this tradition with a few hits and misses — TISP‘s description was so obvious it was corny even before I clicked on the link — Google’s April 1st jokes rank among those diversions that make hours of soaking up information online delightful.

Thinking that 2011’s Google’s Motion (Beta) could be a Mac-specific feature similar to LiquidMac, a fun, novelty app that mimics the movement of liquid in a computer by its orientation (using Apple laptops’ built-in sudden motion sensor technology), I thought , falling into the Apple-user snob mode I realized I hadn’t completely shed off yet (and feeling a little sorry for it), “So, is this cross-platform?,” yet something ticked the instant curiosity pushed the button.

This time, Google caught me off-guard. And a smack on the cheek to go with it. Fun!

My favorite April Fools Day Google joke so far are:

  • Scratch and Sniff (2008) and its reference to books vis-a-vis print getting more digitized;
  • Jobs at Copernicus Center (2004) with its nice illustrations and great geek-y copy;
  • Gmail Paper (2007) and how it resounds so much with life around email;
  • Gmail Custom Time (2008), in relation to above entry;
  • the CADIE (2009) project;
  • last, but certainly not the least, Google’s life-changing Gmail announcement (in relation to (2007) and (2008); see image grab above again for details).

Finally, a shoutout to Google and YouTube’s April Fools Day continuing collaboration. In celebration of Jackie Chan’s recently wrapped up film 1911 (ironically, Jackie Chan was just the subject of a Twitter hoax two days ago), YouTube’s wayback window and logo are too good to miss, I can’t let this pass.

 

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Filed under Apple, April Fools Day, Google, Google.com, internet, internet activity, laptops, Mac, Mac Apps, online tool apps, Sudden Motion Sensor, Video, YouTube

VirusBarrier X5 (from MacHeist)

Membership to Mac-related online apps and sites adds to the unending thrill of being an Apple user, even if it means, like in my case, not  actually being as active or passionate in devoting the same amount of internet time as I used to as when I first signed up for these.

Somehow, Mac-related sites have always been kind of sleek, kind of more fun, requiring a bit more brain power than, say, Windows apps that seem designed with just end-user ‘fun’ in mind, a lot of smooth graphics and little else. This is not meant to be another of those “vs.” posts — never was a fan of that. It’s just how I see and experience it, having come from Windows since the DOS days.

Besides, I never can get into a “vs.” discussion in real life, especially if the discussants are hard core X vs. Y, “Apples vs. Oranges” kind of people.

Anyhow, great online apps and sites provide good diversions from routine and intensive brain+physical work. One such site is MacHeist. Not only are its games (called “Missions”) gems, the bundled apps they have given out so far are great.

While getting squeezed between two major activities in the past few days, I managed to respond to a November Macheist email notification because it was one the best bundles it has ever offered following the one in April ’09.

MacHeist3 (the November edition, aka nanoBundle) includes the following apps:

Except for Hordes of Orcs, I had been able to successfully download all apps as of this writing but have not installed all of them yet. I had used the early WriteRoom version previously and would be looking forward to what the latest has to offer. Meanwhile, still attempting to recover some personal time due to the two major events mentioned (and some other work in between that were not as loaded but were equally demanding of attention), I chose to install VirusBarrier X5 as a supplement to ClamXav.

By the way, I mention the thrill of being an Apple user but I can honesty say the Mac I work on is not all a smooth and easy ride. This Mac in particular is a 1st-generation MacBook Pro (ca. 2006) and its age is showing. It has, on the average, stayed on for 48 hours without shutting down. Its optical drive has been bricked by a nasty firmware update by Apple back in 2008, something, some say, Apple has hidden from the public: not a very noble move by Apple there. (NOTE: I dug up archived sites on this superdrive issue when I was looking for solutions which can be read here and here).

It’s a Mac Anti-Virus program

As the name suggests, VirusBarrier X5 is a virus scanner and anti-virus app for the Mac like ClamXav. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to scan the whole 80gb hard drive as it combed through 592,641-plus of combined apps and files.

VirusBarrier X5 interface design is a masculine feel, something the boys will love. It kind of reminds me of the Windows audio player app "Winamp".

The intital scan detected X97M/Yosenio.gen hidden within an Excel macro (.xla) file named “GhostWorld.xla” which, I discovered, was in the Mac. How I got this file is beyond me. Perhaps it was picked up by my USB drive after plugging it into the Windows computer at the neighborhood internet cafe a few weeks ago. (Strangely, all other GhostWorld associated files are dated “12/11/04, 5:29 pm” as revealed in Finder. It predates the Mac in which it now resides, and the installed Office applications, by two years.)

Since I had not run ClamXav after the period in which I suspect I got the Yosenio.gen file from the net cafe, there is no way for me to determine whether ClamXav could have detected or overlooked the file. I noticed that the Mac did exhibit certain unusual behaviors since that period, such as going through a soft crash or freezing up when I plugged in the USB wifi stick, etc. I did plug the USB thumb drive into my mother’s Windows laptop by mistake and, just as I had suspected, its default anti-virus scanner, McAfee, popped an alert faster than I could eject it.

Mac-ros

Ok, the point is Macs may be immune to Windows viruses but it serves as a temporary asylum in which these hibernate until such time that a device, like a USB thumb drive, is stuck into its ports, and just as quickly as a Windows malware jumps into alien environment such as OS X, that it transfers  to an empty space in the removable device waiting to be transported into another computer that it can infect or to successfully cause trouble.

On the other hand, macro viruses are cross-platform viruses and can thrive in both Windows and Mac environments. Macros are helpful application commands designed to enhance certain features of, say MS Word or Excel files. However, since macros are not executable files and are document-related (e.g. they exist within an application’s files and do not need a command to invoke its execution), they are deemed more dangerous than trojans, worms and viruses.

I am always wary about getting Windows viruses because I’d like to avoid being responsible for infecting another computer, specifically a Windows-based computer. The Windows malware may not wreak havoc on the Mac and I can just proceed to work as usual, without any worry of my files being corrupted and such, because Windows malware are programmed to sniff out specific Windows files to play hookey with. But because the Mac serves as convenient transport zone for these suspicious files — as long as they stay undisturbed in a ‘safe’ place (other than the Trash) — that it still makes me very wary of them. Having said that, if one is running Windows on a Mac, it is just as wise to install a Windows-based anti-virus program for one’s protection.

I’ve decided to keep VirusBarrier X5 inspite of my limited hard drive space. It puts an icon on the menu bar for instance access to its other features, and another icon in the dock. It is an unintrusive app that provides real-time scanning without hogging my limited resources. ClamXav, meanwhile,  can slow down my work during background scans, by the way.

I’m quite happy with VirusBarrier X5, and grateful that an excellent site like MacHeist, which has provided my license, has included this app in its bundle and have donated part of the ‘loot’ to charity in the process. I can’t wait to give the other applications a try and for the next bundle to come along.

Well done, Macheist and Intego.

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Filed under Apple, Mac, Mac Anti-Virus, Mac Apps, MacHeist, Notes to self, online tool apps

[Not so preposterous] posterous

I signed up with posterous.com to try it out today. Not a bad, simple blog site.

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Filed under internet, internet activity, micro blogging, Note to self, online tool apps, SNS

WordCamp Philippines 2008, the first WordPress gathering in Southeast Asia: how cool is that?

I AM A LATE COMER to blogging but a frenetic early-bird at signing up for services.

It wasn’t until I had the chance to explore the various functions of the blog hosts and saw how blogs affect the internet users (those who are either targeted or spend time to read, that is) did I get more serious about utilizing blogs for, well, whatever, really.

It takes time and attention to get to know the different blog hosts. I am currently down to two, WordPress being one of them (e.g. this site). I have other blogs here at WordPress and is the blog host of choice when my friend and I finally seized the opportunity to take our volunteer workshop activity further by tutoring a youth group organizer and his members up in the mountains of Ifugao the wonders of blogging. Thus his online presence came to life with PrYSociety in June.

Back to blogging. Developers have made blog tools very easy to use and navigate so much so that the users often take the technology for granted; moreso the fact that there are people behind these tools who actually make things roll for the user as fast and pain-free as possible. (That’s not counting providing a beautiful experience, which, of course, is an understatement.)

When I heard that WordCamp Philippines was finally going to happen, I thought, “How cool is that?”, but backtracked a bit. I was afraid this was to be one gathering of nerds and geeks that would either freak out  the regular MMPORG ‘net cafe habitué or alienate the rest of the basic-MS Word-user community. (I am neither a geek/ette, nor an MMPORG-er and am a very basic MS Word user, so.)

Yet I was excited about this. Totally. How often do we host a tech-related gathering since the Philippines went online back in, what, the early 1990s? Yeah, that was when the computer penetration rate was in the 3-digit thousands, but even then, we had, I believe, the most number of active ISPs anywhere in Southeast Asia and including South Korea.

(Courtesy of bloggingpro.com)

So, since the time that BB and DOS-powered chats and the IBM vs. IBM-compatible groupies evolved into tech gurus of today, we have hosted open-source conferences and established active groups that are still around  (Bluepoint as an example), a technology-cum-design conference with no other than Joshua Davis rocking the house, plus other several important conferences.

However, most of these gatherings were selective and group-specific (i.e. telecommunications, network servers and engineers, open-source educational developers, hardware and gadget gawkers and tweakers, etc.) In spite of this, though, we, the erstwhile ‘texting capital’ of the world, became sidelined, often skipped or sometimes almost forgotten in favor of our neighbors who started to catch up and made use of the internet to full/er advantage and, really, had the money to lay down infrastructure while every wired Filipino was crawling, surviving IRC via the expensive dial-up service for some time.

So, what else makes this conference exciting? For me, it’s the fact that the kernel of WordCamp originated not in Manila but in Mindanao, ironically that part of the archipelago where computer-to-user ratio is lowest and electrified communities sparse. Another is the visit by Matt Mullenweg, no less, discussing issues and ways and means by which blogging and WP can be more of a proactive tool every internet user can make use of. (That’s him in a WP shirt, above, by the way. Image: http://www.bloggingpro.com/).

Mindanao bloggers

So, not only will there be a convergence of Pinoy bloggers from the three main islands regardless of category, belief and social strata telling their stories through blogs, but the guy himself huddling with everyone else on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008 at the CSB in Taft Avenue in Manila. And, of course, there’s the fact that the preceding camp was in San Francisco, USA, and, hopefully that this year’s will roll out vintage WP t-shirts and cool mugs to the attendees like in last year’s (not sure about the vintage shirt design, but they did have shirts alright).

Attendance is free. Again, coolness! So much in keeping with the spirit of open-source and openness. WordCamp 2008 is made possible by the blog believers below whose staff and members the attendees would likely meet as well:

READS:
Something on Matt (audio) at atlargemedia.com
Mullenweg’s personal site


23 July 2008 UPDATE:
If you want the maroon shirt above (or its royal blue version), click on the image or register.


13 August 2008 UPDATE 2:
The final Schedule can be viewed here.

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Filed under 2008, Blogging, internet, online tool apps, Web design, Web Visual, WordCamp, WP

online tool apps-1

A couple of online tool apps I came across, have used and recommend, starting with the latest, which I am posting for easy access when sometimes I have to use other people’s computers:

  •  Filedropper.com quite possbily the biggest free file upload allotment service available at a whopping 5gb limit. The site was created on 19 March 2008 and is based in the US. Very simple interface with very simple terms and conditions. However, there is no status bar/indication and uploading takes some time.

Another 5gb site is esnips.com which has added a social networking feature.

A frequently-used file upload service is yousendit.com (1 Gb limit for free use) and megashares.com (1.5 Gb), both with status bar/upload indicators. Megashares.com has a password-protection capability. Both are highly recommended free file-sharing sites that do not require registration.

  • Zamzar.com, the site we use for converting received .docx files (this happens when the sender creates a document in Word 2007 and the recipient has a lower version). It converts other files, too: images, videos, audio and zip or compressed files.
  • Vixy.net, an online FLV to mpeg4 converter
  • VectorMagic.com, converts bitmap files to vector files
  • Wobzip.com, an online file unzipper still in developing and testing stage. Useful for unzipping files you might suspect may be malicious of coming or transmitted from from an unsecure source as public internet cafes or infected computers.
  • Htm2pdf.com, a UK-based pdf converter. The title couldn’t be any simpler.
  • Lipsum.com and Malevole Text Generator, two very useful, simple copyfitting sites.
  • A working Tagalog dictionary which has been online for sometime hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Northern Illinois University. The dictionary service is available in three (3) types. The site says:

“Our Tagalog Online Dictionary’s basic contents were based on Dr. Teresita V. Ramos’ Tagalog Dictionary published by the University of Hawaii Press, 1971, but we made major modifications on the style and structure of the entries. The Tagalog root words are the main entries in the dictionary, with the English definition and active/passive forms of Tagalog verbs provided. Synonyms and variations of the Tagalog terms are also provided (under L2 definition), along with the language origin (entered under Notes) of the words — e.g., Spanish, Malay, Chinese, Sanskrit.”

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    Filed under design, dictionary, hosting, image, internet, online tool apps, translation