Tag Archives: internet

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

addiction II: Yes, Pac-man is 30 (with the goodies)

It’s the original Pac-man I’m writing about (not a boxer’s monicker) which Google merited an anniversary GoogleDoodle in animated .png format. What a nice morning surprise!

Next to Tetris, I still have a couple of Pac-man versions installed in my computer which I call upon every now and then to officially divert me from ‘work’, a carry-over from the PC days. I hope I’m not alone in this, what with the vast selection of available games for today’s hardware.

Pac-Man 30 Years logo

Particularly interesting is the story about how its creator, Toru Iwatani, targeted females for this game after establishing the main character’s “look” inspired by an order of pizza minus one slice:

Now that he had the look, he needed that special something to attract his target audience. After listening to girls talk to one another, Iwatani determined that food and eating would be the way to get the fairer sex interested in arcade games. (REF: Top 100 Game Creators)

Google never ceases to surprise its visitors, and with today’s animated, PLAYABLE doodle, it sure does know how to make each user go back to when computing and computer use was basic and fun. The doodle goes live for 48 hours, after which I hope they archive it like they do their easter eggs and all other commemorative doodles.

An insanely fun Friday!

Early marketing flyer with original name "Puck-man", later changed to "Pac-man" in 1980

Toru Iwatani, creator

Wired.com has a Q&A article on Toru Iwatani, Pac-man’s creator, in which, besides confirming the game’s intended target, also gives an insight into Japanese culture:

…Japanese youngsters really wanted “ghost” type characters — not necessarily modeled on creatures, but things that don’t really exist in this world. Even within animation, they want characters that are the products of the writer’s imaginations. In North America at the time, the games were about car races or warfare. They wanted games that simulated the real world, whereas Japan wanted otogibanashi (fairy tales).

Also, when you look at Japanese games, the characters may be deformed in such a way that their heads are half of their total height. This was not popular in the U.S., as you know, they wanted real proportional humans. In Japan, dolls like Hello Kitty are deformed into a different shape, into an animal that doesn’t really exist. The dolls in the U.S. would be a real cat… (REF: Q&A: Pac-Man Creator Reflects on 30 Years of Dot-Eating, Wired.com)

Toru Iwatani

Toru Iwatani, Pac-man creator (image from Wired.com)

And if Google’s commemorative, playable doodle isn’t enough of a gift, Pac-man’s Japanese site offers a lot of Pac-man goodies, too. My favorites are :

[1] The Pac-man Hallmark birthday card
Product Name: Birthday Card Publisher: HALLMARK CARD, INC (U.S.)
Release Date: July Price 2008: US $ 4.99 (U.S.)
Location: USA, Canada only Size: W15.5, H14 (cm)

Birthday card featuring a full-screen Pac-Man game. Melody flows and open Pac-Man game. In honor of Pac-Man in

[2] The Pac-man Wine Glass set with Cork coaster (Made in France)

Product details: Two wine glasses / cork coaster 2 Publisher: Namco Bandai Price: 5,250 yen Glass Specifications: Diameter 52 mm × 180 mm vertical / horizontal 72 mm / 250ml Made in France Coaster specification: diameter 80 mm × thickness 05 mm Origin: Portugal / Processing: Japanese production methods time-to-order book your reservation: April 27, 2010 (Tue) ~ 30 May 2010 (Sun) Expected Delivery: Shipping will begin in late July 2010

[3] The Pac-Man Limited Collection Leather Wallet (I like the red one)

Color: 4 kinds (black, blue, or sky) Price: 14,800 yen Specifications: Leather Wallet (Wallet) Production Method: Book orders in limited quantities Booking period: 30 March 2010 (Tue) ~ Expected Delivery: Shipping will begin in late May 2010

[4] The Pac-Man T Glass Beads and Prism by Kohei Nawa

Glued glass beads, prism sheet, polyurethane foam material Publisher: UNIQLO Co. Price: 1500 yen Release Years: 2009/5/18 URL: Http://Store.uniqlo.com/Jp/Store/Feature/Ut/Pacman/ Contact: Your contact Uniqlo hours TEL :0120-090-296-17 9:00: 00 (7 days a week) cKOHEI NAWA PAC-MAN: cNBGI (As of May 2009) ※ Some products are sold may have been discontinued. Please note.

[5] The Pac-Man T by Kentaro Kobuke

Publisher: UNIQLO Co. Price: 1500 yen Release Years: 2009/5/18 URL: Http://Store.uniqlo.com/Jp/Store/Feature/Ut/Pacman/

See the commemorative collection here. And this is just the 30th year.

And lastly, about the animated, interactive Google Pac-man doodle

The doodle was designed by Marcin Wichary, Google’s senior UX designer and developer, and Ryan Germick, full time Google Doodler. Over at the Google blogs, Marcin wrote:

“…Today, on PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday, you can rediscover some of your 8-bit memories—or meet PAC-MAN for the first time—through our first-ever playable Google doodle. To play the game, go to google.com during the next 48 hours (because it’s too cool to keep for just one day) and either press the “Insert Coin” button or just wait for a few seconds.

Google doodler Ryan Germick and I made sure to include PAC-MAN’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece…”

(Source: Googleblog|Celebrating Pac-man’s 30th Birthday)

He adds (emphasis mine):

“We also added a little easter egg: if you throw in another coin, Ms. PAC-MAN joins the party and you can play together with someone else (PAC-MAN is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, Ms. PAC-MAN using the WASD keys).”

The doodle is a couple of layers of a .png file (see below) powered by javascript, HTML and CSS. Not only is it cool, it’s a lot of work to perfect it.

Great job!

The interactive Pac-Man game deconstructed

Now if they only did the same when Google commemorated Tetris.


More Pac-man:

Play Pac-man online

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Filed under doodle, Google, Google.com, internet, internet activity, Technology, Tribute, Web Visual

free speech over freebies: Laporte, not since the PC days

Funny. Not since I followed Leo Laporte online during the dial-up age, then on reruns on Call for Help on the test broadcast of local channel Net25 (PHI) have I seen him use the American First Amendment (or Article 19 of the ICCPR, whichever you prefer) so passionately.

Leo Laporte has always reminded me of Guy Smiley from Sesame Street. On air, he’s been cool and took things in stride. But not today.

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Filed under internet, internet activity, Leo Laporte, Palm Pre, Review, Technology, YouTube

form + function() + .class | Asia’s first web designers’ conference

formfunctionclass-logo

At last.

Here, now, read about the Philipines’ & Asia’s first and only web designers’ event http://www.formfunctionclass.com/

This event is put together by the Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO) | http://webdesigners.org.ph/

Bookmark it!

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Filed under AIM, design, form function & class, internet, internet activity, lectures, Manila, Philippine Web Design, PWDO, Technology, Web design, Web Visual, Website

Earth Hour ’09

March 28, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

Register or learn more:

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Truth in advertising

Recently, my colleague and her family tried the SkyBroadband 15-day trial promo after a disappointing experience with their PLDT DSL account in January when, it turned out, that a male CSR, on the nth call, suggested trying out an ISP-supplied username-password combination which gave them instant connection as soon as these were entered.

Only then did the male CSR mention that PLDT DSL was “resetting” passwords. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear why they did it without informing current subscribers about it. Prior to that, the standard answers from other CSRs were that the PLDT-issued HUWEI modems could have been out of service (read: old and malfunctioning and needed replacement but with additional charges) or that there could have been maintenance issues in the area.

Anyhow, my colleague’s dad suggested SkyBroadband  (the re-branded ZPDee cable internet). After all, they were Sky Cable subscribers for years. Besides, it has become a popular notion that cable internet is supposedly faster and more reliable than DSL.

skybroadband-spash2

A week and a half ago, both out of desperation and because they were told that the free 15-days SkyBroadband promo trial was within a limited time or they would have to wait for connection to be scheduled if they did not confirm in two days, they finally called to go for a trial connection.

Skeptical as I have always been with promos that promise heaven and earth – or something near that – and aware of the fact that internet in the Philippines is quirky at best depending on connection and area, I joked that they could be treated with real fast connection within the 15-day trial period only to slow down or drop after the normal subscription and billing actually started.

Some broadband experience

My colleague and I did have cable internet once some years ago at the studio we maintained at the heart of Quezon City with the old BellTel (belltel.ph) which we switched to from Sky Internet. I believe we had what was then the entry-level iCable package at a whooping 64kbps + cable channel “always on” combo which was fast, even at that time, true. That we only needed to switch the computer on and be online compared to Sky Internet’s dial-up connection was a great time saver for us. We were on a roll! The connection was fast for our PIII and Pentium IV PCs then, in fact, that trying to catch up with the latest anti-virus upgrades and patches became a futile exercise in itself.

A few months since connecting through BellTel and two logged in visits by their technicians, we were having connection problems (the cable modem, among other things) and, not even a year into the service, CSR was difficult to reach for anything technically related. Looking back, it may also have been that we were the only one in our building on BellTel (only the second on the street we were located at, according to the technicians), our internet ports too vulnerable, our hardware slowed by all sorts of attacks (a big ‘maybe’ on this one), etc., etc. which summed up the frustrating cycle of connecting-calling CSR-calling our PC technician who couldn’t trouble shoot the broadband modem and Windows settings, ad infinitum, that we decided to drop BellTel for yet another ISP (Mindgate).

It wasn’t that BellTel did not adhere to its speed claims. Our small design studio of 5 was not close to being an enterprise employed with an army of technicians nor did we own industrial-strength anti-virus programs I believe were needed to combat vulnerable Windows ports and such (we only had the boxed McAffee consumer version which was regularly updated online).

In other words, it could have been the combination of being just one of two BellTel customers in a laid-back, casual Quezon City district, far from the buzzling commercial districts of Ortigas and Makati which were really BellTel’s target + the cable internet technology too advanced for our technician (and many Windows settings controlled by the ISP’s) at the time, and our PCs not prepared to handle the bursting 64kbps speed cable internet offered, that we regrettably had to cut the fun for our peace of mind. I believe it wasn’t BellTel’s entire fault, nor can I accuse them, nearly 6 years later, of false advertising.

The Test

I was on the phone with my colleague when the SkyBroadband cable guys were over at her place to install the connection on the last week of January. It was the start of their 15-day SkyBroadband trial.

So it seemed that the switch satisfied their internet needs since, as I never much heard of complains or rants. Anyhow, she and her family use the internet for communications and research and other more “idle stuff” than torrenting, viewing videos or online games.

I was over at her place yesterday, Monday, and needed to go online, so she shared her LAN cable which we directly connected it to the office-issued 1st-gen MBP I was on. A few minutes before that, we were experiencing an excruciatingly slow internet connection on another computer.

When I confirmed that the internet connection was already the SkyBroadband package and no longer the PLDT DSL connection, I was excited to check just how fast cable internet is now, and more excited to experience SkyBroadband’s advertised cable internet speed I’d been reading on banners along the stretch of EDSA, Katipunan and Commonwealth Avenues.

So we fired up Test.my and SpeakEasy, two speed test sites on my bookmarks bar. By the way, no one else was online but the MBP on that lazy Monday afternoon.

I chose the Dual Test (upload/download) on Test.my and chose Austin on SpeakEasy before sampling the vegetarian pesto mid-afternoon snack serve us. Test.my has a post to show the average test time depending on the connection one has, e.g. 0-x seconds if on cable internet, 1-x seconds on a typical DSL, etc.

5 minutes on and half a dish of pesto done, Test.my was 25% into the first test using 97kb of data, while SpeakEasy was still trying to contact the Austin site.

Anyhow, the results below will show just how fast SkyBroadband was on the afternoon of 2 March 2009 from Test.my (Monday, 2 March 2009, 4:46 pm PHI):

To add insult to injury, it said this about the connection:

“Ouch, are you on dial-up or something? Your connection scored 0.5/5 stars…”


When I got home 5 hours later, I tested our SmartBro connection for comparison but logged on to the Linksys DHCPTable page to see how many of us were on the shared connection before doing the test. Six of us were online: 2 PC laptops, 1 Asus Eee, two IPs without ID’s, one of them my cousin’s expander, I believe, and probably another cousin’s phone, and myself or a total of 6 from different areas in the compound all connected OTA at about 9 pm. Good, I thought. At least that should give a fair reading. My location was farthest from the router and with only 2 Airport signal bars on.

The result:

Ok, the deal here is that the comparison tests between my connection and SkyBroadband earlier in the afternoon were done hours apart from 2 different locations but not more than 3 kms from each other.

I called my colleague to ask how their connection was doing at the time I was doing the test on mine, and she said that her sister, just 3 minutes or less before my call, was complaining about the slowness of the connection. By the way, they do not have a wifi router, so everyone connects directly via LAN like I did earlier at their place in the afternoon.

I read to my colleague what my test result was and how it compared to theirs in the simplest way I could, and she concluded that their dad would be most unhappy about it if he heard it. Well, who would be, right?

The stretch of EDSA and most thoroughfares in Metro Manila is awash with banners announcing all sorts of products and claims from breast augmentation to low service rates.

For many internet-dependent citizens like ourselves, the competition between ISP rates, features and add-ons is far too good to be missed. Prices are dropping like crazy.

Factors

Location is among the top factors that affect connection. For instance, I was told by a café owner on Katipunan Ave.-White Plains that SmartBro is not advisable owing to the billboard banners structures surrounding his place that gets in the line of sight of the canopy. They were advised to either install a pole higher than any of the ultra-large, storeys-high tarpaulin billboard structures or go for lined connections instead which, really, leaves them no choice but to pick among the other DSL or cable ISPs.

We, on the other hand, are perfectly OK with the three-year SmartBro connection at home. Sure there were days when the connection just fails at the moment when it was most needed, but they were few and short moments. In the three years that we’ve been on SmartBro, there were just two occasions when we totally couldn’t log on and those were because, according to the technicians, two structures were built somewhere that came in between the canopy and the base station line of sight. They needed to reposition the canopy on those occasions.

There are several other factors that affect connectivity and, while cable internet connection is supposedly fasted than DSL, cable internet bandwidth is shared by other subscribers in one’s area. (REF: DSL vs. Cable) I am not sure, though, if this information is told the prospective subscriber, if all prospective subscribers are aware of it, or if one is even aware of the number of households in one’s immediate vicinity who are on the same service provider for that matter. (In my area, it is easy to spot those on SmartBro because the canopy is visible from the rooftops. I can count two others from where I sit as I write this).

So, in the case of my colleague’s household, the promised speed of 1.5mbps (plan P999) hasn’t been experienced thus far. Will the advertised speed vs. cost be ever true? SkyBroadband, or other advertisers for that matter, may not intend to mislead but may play to the general public’s hunger for connectivity and communication giving many the raw deal.


UPDATE, 16 Mar 09, 3:47pm
Another opportunity at testing my friend’s SkyDSL connection today:
share2-qnp8k2xszdualyesq2m0dnr4ek6
Definitely a whole world of difference from the result above; even the upload/download SpeakEasy test was this afternoon via the Dallas, TX server:
Download Speed: 1244 kbps (155.5 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 452 kbps (56.5 KB/sec transfer rate)

However, I was told that this speed is not consistent and, in fact, internet connection was on and off earlier in the day.

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Filed under Broadband connection, community, DSL, internet, internet activity, Mac, Manila, Philippines, SkyBroadband, SmartBro, Technology

a “geek” in all of us

IN THE EARLY days of the computer, only a selected number of people could take on its challenges and understand its language and mechanisms.

Often, these involve some kind of esoteric, if not iconoclastic, approaches with large attempts at writing down computations — in figures and diagrams — and shared eureka moments among individuals in a basement building or some isolated hall somewhere.

As computers evolved — its components and shells shrank, its operations became the equivalent of silent, invisible clockwork, and its language somewhat simplified — its attraction to a wider user base became inevitable. Computer mastery slowly became less a mystery.

Roberts, network

Roberts, network

Somewhere along the way, the Internet successfully blurred the lines between time zones and realities, personas and personalities and the once sacred/irreverent social categories as “geeks” and “nerds” from the M-O-S. Further down the timeline, the internet (true to form, still evolving into what is now referred to as “the Interweb”), whose existence is largely the result of computer evolution, influenced one’s reputation or repudiation, of product SRPs and marketability. In fact, the Internet has sometimes transformed reputation into market/able value (and its opposite consequences).

The most apt explanation we’ve given to computers, the Internet/internet and all encompassing experiences, is the fulfillment of  “connection”, where both have transcended commoditization to a necessary function, somewhat akin to an extended appendage.

Baran net image

Baran net, Aug 1964

By and large, the introduction of the Internet into our lives, and its subsequent conquest, has been motivated by good intentions. How else would computers be more work-able, beneficial and improved on if the terminals, controlled by humans, were simply stand-alones. As computers were our extensions, so too were its functions. 

And so connect we all did, under a virtual spider web of activities and communications, of accomplishments and failures, and of common goals and values. After all, as man is a social animal, this very necessary function has been taken advantage of by the Internet.

There was, for the average user, the IRC (generally a spin-off of the more selective and archival BBS), revolutionary in that it was a two-way communication “in real time”, which, of course, largely depended on the user’s bandwith, computer model and connection — internet connection, that is. From these two spawned communities, the “virtual” kind. In real life, people of common sensibilities, who converge and do exchanges regularly almost always gravitate towards, and eventually become actively involved in communities, don’t they? The virtual kind was not much different.

A quick fast-forward through these communication channels, e.g. BBS -> IRC -> mIRC ->  IM -> brings us to yet another consequence of the internet: the evolution of language/s and user experiences, where once, user experience was as quick and no-frills as a monochrome monitor, and language reduced to pictograms and acronyms for faster exchanges. Despite these limitations, however, each user came away from a chat session with some degree of liberation, each with a new sense of accomplishment, especially if the session meant being able to express anger, gain sympathy, share a joke, capture an audience or simply know the exact time and weather on the other side of the globe.

And on our side of the globe, in today’s incarnation of the venerable IRC, of what is now the new world of SNS — yet another one of those internet-only dictionary entries: Social Networking Sites — is the 21st century online community. “Virtual” gave way to “online”, chat boards and channels are now SNS’es, where the latest news of an earthquake in Japan, a traffic jam in EDSA or someone’s scrumptious lunch is broadcast in more “real time” than it ever was.

When a meet-up was hastily organized by a few users of one of these current SNS’es, Plurk (who’d have thought of such a name in the dial-up IRC-era?), called for, in true internet fashion, via postings online, a few brave souls in the northern part of Metropolitan Manila dared go out and defy the sub-stormy Sunday evening, drop the [wired] connection, dislocate from their extended virtual limbs, and go for a RL face-to-face. Real life. Real food. Real interactions. And some real-time electric currents exchanged via warm handshakes.

In the 21st century, it seems that nothing much has changed: the “Plurkers” all got to the Plurkfiesta in their most casual wear, arriving either by carpool or public transportation. Connected still, even as this happening was completely “wireless”, except for the occasional online update posting via G3 on some users’ phones (ok, now that’s very 21st century). Most especially, nothing has changed the human need to still be among warm bodies indulged in real-life chatter.

“Ah, a nerd-meet is underway”, was probably what was on some other people’s thought bubbles on the other tables. But nerds nor geeks these were not. Rather, this was a gathering of a motley of very ordinary people: a disc jockey/magician, a teacher-explainer, a bakery-owner, a photographer/fish collector, a travel agent, an educator, some bloggers, a balik-bayan and so forth. But perhaps because the invisible interweb that was cast has been virtually anchored into our lives, and computers have become the other brain that work within us, there is a geek in all of us.

 

There is always something about breaking the fourth wall, as it were: where true interaction takes place across the table and personas become real persons; nicknames have faces and minds have voices. Where “LOLs” become even funnier when burst in a chorus. Where virtual becomes real. And where “user experience”, now more enriched with computer GUIs and APIs, becomes a personal one.

Many more such communities inter-weave elsewhere, some regularly, some for the first time.

What took all of these years to make computers conquerable, and the internet experience seamless, is the fact that at the end of the day, the fulfillment of basic human function is brought to another level. Perhaps the process of selection is different, the mode of communication circuitous, and the agenda free, but the commonality among us prevails: the interpersonal exchanges, no matter how brief, will always be embedded deeper and stored greater than any memory chip will ever hold.


Credits

Top graphic and bottom four photos: krvilla
“Roberts, network”, “Baran net”: Martin Dodge
IRC transcript image grab: Lim Quin


UPDATE 12 March 09
Including a link to this list of OS GUIs from 1981-2009 by webdesignerdepot.com. Great list with screen shots.
Also, toastytech.com’s collection of GUIs (from webdesignerdepot.com)

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Filed under 2008, community, Filipino, internet, internet activity, Plurk, SNS, WP