“Ring once” on the iPhone

I got to give credit to Nokia for the “ring once” feature on their phones. It is a handy feature which spares me from frantically rummaging thru my bag just to silence an endlessly ringing cellphone.

The iPhone, however, does not have such a feature. iPhones loop ringtones endlessly & embarrassingly.

The workaround

  1. I downloaded an mp3 of a single “ring!” and loaded it up in GarageBand,
  2. Added enough “silence” to fill up the 40 second limit, and
  3. Exported to iTunes

Below is the video version of the entire process:

The shrinking road to cross platform computing

They say that once you start using a Mac, you will never go back to Windows again. And I was a big enough of an idiot to believe it. So I prepared myself in the eventuality that I would become a fan boy, and converted all my data to work seamlessly with Apple’s OS X.

A Big Mistake

But then it hit me that there are a lot of things that Apple just can’t or wouldn’t do, and I had to start using Windows once again — at least for almost half of my computing tasks. Vmware Fusion or dual-booting just won’t cut it. I need these two platforms on their own separate machines for my productivity’s sake.

I also realized that the only things which makes me hang on to my Mac is its hardware, iWork Keynote, and how it renders fonts on the screen. The lack of keyboard shortcuts in the Mac is already becoming a big source of frustration, and I crave to once again be able to hit Alt-F to access the File menu.

These practically scream that I am on the brink of another big shift, especially with the looming launch of Windows 7.

I also discovered that I am not, and probably never will be, loyal to a single operating system … and that I would continuously make the change as I see fit.

Shake the fervents

There are probably other users like me who has gone past the Mac is the Greatest brouhaha.

There will probably be more, as we get additional information about Steve Job’s health, and we are reminded of the eventuality of life, and that it’s time to embrace technology & its changes without being hindered by fanaticism.

There are already applications & services who have started to make that shift: Dropbox, Evernote, Live Sync, Plaxo, and Remember the Milk, to name a few.

Others, such as Things, who had been more preoccupied with releasing their iPhone app than fixing the bugs that their users have submitted, and have not included in their roadmap a version for Windows, or even a web-based service to store data, would probably be left being used by their Mac zealots. Or whatever will be left of them in the next 10 years.

The road to cross platform computing is surprisingly not as long as it is perceived it to be. It is right here, right now.

Updating the firmware of the Nokia N96

I finally solved the incessant hanging & mysterious rebooting of my Nokia N96 — by updating the firmware. I knew it was something I should have done the moment I got this phone. Goes to show what my real priorities are (i.e., finding a theme).

To update the firmware:

  1. 1. Go to Menu > Tools > Utilities > Device Manager
  2. 2. Go to Options > Check for updates
  3. 3. Install update

It goes without saying that you need to backup your phone before you do any firmware upgrades. Mine worked without a hitch. But then again, you’ll never know.

What you (probably) didn’t know about the iPhone

You’ve heard about the cons of using an iPhone — no video recording, no cut and paste, short battery life, yada yada. And like you, I also thought, “Hey, I could live with that.” After all, the fundamental thing is that I will have my calendar and productivity apps — to have my “mac in my pocket.”

And I now have an iPhone 3G. Unlocked, of course, because we geeks turn to Smart by default when it comes to 3G. But having Smart’s fast 3G service wasn’t enough to make me happy. Because Apple is known for churning out half-baked products. Sometimes even purposely so. And they leave it up to Steve Jobs to make it sound like the latest thing on the planet.

  1. You will not be able to receive vCards. At least for Nokia phones, which probably make up 90% of the entire Philippine phone population.
  2. The battery life is more pathetic than you think. You will need to charge the iPhone, at the very least, once a day. Cry, you Nokia E series owners, and say goodbye to those good old days of charging your phone twice a week.
  3. You cannot multi-task. You thought you can maintain that Yahoo chat while playing mSudoku? No can do. The only apps that are allowed to run in the background are Apple’s own (e.g., the iPod).

Updated Jan 4, 2009:

  1. Camera quality is bad. Very bad.
  2. You cannot turn off auto-rotate. A big deal if you like surfing while in bed.
  3. SMS and Mail do not have landscape mode. Real smart Apple. Don’t provide a landscape mode on the apps which need it the most.
  4. You will not be able to send or receive MMS. There are apps for the jailbroken iPhone which allows you to send MMS, but receiving them is another matter.
  5. You cannot cut and paste. I didn’t care much about this for the first few weeks. After all, how many times do I need to cut & paste on a phone? But as soon as I really started to use the iPhone, this incapability became a big source of frustration. I hate you, Apple.

So, what else do you think suck about this thing?

Voice recording ala Nokia

Voice recorders are indispensable tools in storing quick ideas, thoughts, todos, or even in reminding yourself where you parked your car.

But in these times of I-need-to-carry-another-gadget-like-I-need-a-hole-in-the-head, we need to utilize the gadgets we already have, particularly those which we usually never leave home without: our mobile phones.

I am pretty lucky to be a proud owner of various Nokia phones, as the series 60 editions already come with a built-in voice recorder. Operation is a no-brainer: press the joystick key to record, and press the same key again to stop. Ah, if only other mobile apps are as simple.

To make it really usable, it has to be easily accessible from your phone’s desktop. Depending on your phone model, this can usually be done by going to Menu > Tools > Settings > General > Personalization > Standby mode > Active standby apps. (Yes, that’s a lot of clicking.) Then simply assign Voice Recorder to one of the shortcuts.

You might want to add Gallery to your Active standby apps too, as they are the easiest way to go thru all your sound clips.

Uzzap mo me? Smart Communications releases mobile instant messenger

Uzzap is Smart Communications’ answer to Globe’s now defunct IM Evrywhr. It is an instant messenger that you can run on your mobile phone.

Smart, however, was wise enough to include that one feature which will guarantee at least a couple of days traffic overload: Yahoo Messenger. Yes, ladies & gentlemen, it can hook up with your Yahoo Messenger account, the one IM that we Filipinos can’t seem to do without.

It also has built-in chatrooms, and can integrate with your MSN messenger account.

Uzzap also has a PC client, which enables you to use it from your PC. Why you would use the PC client when your computer already has a bloated Yahoo Messenger client is beyond me. But it’s there, available for download, just in case you suddenly start growing fond of your Uzzap ID, you weirdo you.

There is something amazing with Uzzap that you usually don’t find in other mobile messengers: SMS integration.

You can set up your Uzzap account so that all offline messages sent to your Uzzap ID are automatically forwarded to your mobile phone via SMS.

(Take note that I said Uzzap ID, not your Yahoo or MSN ID. Anything sent to your Yahoo or MSN ID while you are offline is Yahoo’s and Microsoft’s business. Commenters, you have been warned.)


Uzzap is free for the time being. This means no internet charges until further notice.

So go ahead and chat all you want, grab all the text mates you can find, and do us a favor and refrain from using text spelling.

Uzzap mo me?


You can download the Uzzap app from the Uzzap website. The best way to download it, however, is by sending a text message with the word UZZAP to 7272. This will automatically send you the download link to your phone.

This is a free download, and be thankful it is, because it is a whopping 915 kb file.

After installing the file, go to your list of apps, and click on the blurriest icon that you see. Now you’re ready to start Uzzaping.

Connect to your Yahoo & MSN accounts

To use Yahoo or MSN Messenger on Uzzap, go to the menu. Click on Instant Messaging (the one with the IM icon). Select Connect to Yahoo or Connect to MSN, enter your account details, and save. Your contacts should automatically be loaded into Uzzap.


If you’re having a hard time navigating your way around Uzzap, don’t fret: You are not alone.

To put it mildly, Uzzap is not the most user friendly app. It has redundant icons, an overload of textual instructions, menus in all the wrong places, and insists on using your last saved network connection (despite repeated attempts on setting it on manual).

But it’s Yahoo IM and SMS integration is enough to stifle the screams of frustration. Or at least for the time being.

SMS Spamming 101 – What telcos should know about SMS spam

I read SMS spam. It doesn’t abhor me like email spam. Plus it gives me a chance to read something during those waiting times.

That boring introduction is meant to bring a point across: It takes a lot to make me sick of SMS spam. But then again, I underestimated the power of the Philippine telcos to annoy their users. A few seconds ago, I finally ended by year-long relationship with SMS spam.

In the Philippines, almost 95% of SMS spams are sent by the telecommunication companies themselves. Unfortunately, as their direct marketing capabilities are not up to par with their technical ones, I feel as if I owe these idiots a brief runthrough of some spamming/marketing essentials


  1. Timing. SMS spams should be sent during office hours. This should be a no-brainer. But then again, since they send SMS spam even at 2AM, this basically means they have no brains.

    Kids, repeat after me: “I will not send spam past 6PM.”

  2. Repetition. Surprisingly, this annoyed me more than timing, & was impetus for my unsubscription.

    I have received almost 10 messages in the past week informing me of my chances to win a Nintendo Wii. You sent it. I read it.

    When I didn’t join your contest, it is not a go-signal for you to persist. It is a signal for you to stop.

  3. Frequency. My limit is about two SMS spams per day. Anything more & irritation start to seeps in.

    But the human mind can be deceiving: It can actually ingest more spam if the spammer play his cards right with intervals (next).

  4. Interval. Last August 30, I received 3 spams in a span of 1 hour. Whoever is the marketing genius behind this strategy probably attended the seminar on “How to Achieve Ultimate Death to your SMS Marketing Campaigns.”

    Needless to say, I typed ALERTs OFF, and happily sent it to 211.


Dear Marketing Geniuses of the Telco Industry:

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, kindly leave your cellphone numbers in the comment section of this post. We will be more than happy to forward to you all the spam that you infest on our cellphones.

4th GSM mobile operator in the Philippines?

We have Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, and Sun Cellular. Yesterday, a little mosquito told me that a 4th GSM mobile operator is going to be rolled out in a few months here in the Philippines. Clue: It starts with the letter “C.”

No, that doesn’t stand for Chette. Although it will the greatest thing on the planet if it does. My name, after all, is ubercool. So cool that even my brothers mispronounce it.

IMEvrywhr revisted

After this post has reached far more readership than I have imagined, guilt took over. I have decided to calm down, & take Globe Telecom’s IMEvrywhr for another test drive.

Fourteenth time’s a charm: I was able to login & actually used it for a few weeks. This is an attempt to provide a less scathing review of an article which has, unfortunately, reached the #1 rank in Google for the key phrase “globe imevrywhr” (or at least as of this writing).

The IM feature meets the minimum requirements – it does allow you to send instant messages to your IMEvrywhr buddies. It also enables you to send photos for free, & integrates your phone’s camera in the menu system. You could also set status (invisible, busy, etc.), buy IM usage credits, & apparently update the software from the menu.

After writing that paragraph, I am now at lost for words. This is the main problem with IMEvrywhr. Try as we might to give a glowing review & make it sound like the most amazing thing since sliced pichi pichi, it’s just very hard to say a lot of good things about it.

  • It doesn’t connect with the IM servers of Yahoo, MSN, AIM, etc. It is limited to your IM buddies within the Globe network.
  • You cannot search for buddies. The only way you can add a friend is if you actually know their usernames.
  • The user interface leaves much to be desired. You cannot even distinguish what you’ve typed from your buddies’, except for that teeny weeny arrow icon beside the text.

To its credit, IMEvrywhr implemented a clever ploy to make you buy additional IM usage: It sends you an SMS whenever you receive an offline message. Whether or not the message you received is actually from you buddy or just a system from Globe, I have yet to find out.

IMEvrywhr tried to compensate by putting an influx of “features” that has nothing to do with instant messaging:

  • Address book. Basically just your contacts on your phone.
  • SMS. Allows you to read your SMS from IMEvrywhr, so you don’t have to exit the client.
  • G-Cash & Share-A-Load menu. Cash & load is something that gets passed around frequently among friends. I think this will be useful in the future, but will probably make more sense if integrated with instant messaging.
  • AskG. Allow me not to tone down the sarcasm on this one. AskG is an amazing service for people who like asking idiots for directions. By the way, you will not get a warning that VAS rates apply whenever you use this.

Curiously enough, despite its heavy promotion on the instant messaging features, it seems Globe meant it to be more than that — as a desktop replacement to your phone’s standard start page or screensaver. It is meant to be always on, & the integration with the address book & message inbox is proof of that.

Of course there’s basically nothing wrong with this strategy — but only if we were not presented with such a half-baked IM client. Which we were.

IMEvrywhr is far more cluttered than one would expect from an instant messenger. It is reminiscent of the portal mentality of the year 2000, when all we wanted was an apple, & they keep on giving us a frickin’ tree.

Unfortunately, to anyone who subscribe to Web 2.0’s “simplicity rocks” mentality, IMEvrywhr won’t cut it.

To its benefit, the user interface does fit perfectly with the boring & antiquated corporate image that we consumers have associated with a company like Globe Telecom.

IMEvrywhr has its promises — unfortunately, the instant messaging feature isn’t it.