February 2007


To all PWiT Readers:

Effective today, Feb. 20, 2007 at 4:30pm RP Time, PWiT will be transfering to its own domain.

Please redirect your links and attention to:

http://pwit.org

Beginning on this date, all posts and activities will be done on this new WordPress-powered site, and this link will be inactive.

Everything here is there too, so let’s continue the conversation at the new site. Special thanks to our honorary PWiT, Mr. Kiven Codamon of codamon.com, for facilitating the changeover and migration. Expect many improvements and changes in the days to come.

Spread the word to all PWiTters.

Thank you very much.

Adel Gabot (reverseengineer)

Editor-in-Chief (aka the Big PWiT), Philippine Week in Tech

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Let me borrow for a minute my PC Magazine columnist and colleague John C. Dvorak‘s Cranky Geek hat while I go off on a rant. (Hey, as PC Magazine Philippines Editor-in-Chief I get to say that for real – he’s got a column in my mag and I’m technically his boss. Heh.)

Firstly, much thanks to everyone who’s been patient with us and reading PWiT as we go through our birth pains. I wouldn’t actually go so far as to say we’re doing great, but I could say we’re doing better than I expected, at least as far as content and fun quotient go. We don’t get even a fraction as many hits as some popular sites, (or even have a page rank yet), but for our niche, I think we’re ok.

More than actual readership, I’m glad the content is substantial, (sometimes) informative and I hope worth reading, despite the different styles and approaches of the PWiT editors. Most of all, we like what we do and are having fun doing it. It’s a function of the fact that most of us are all writers first before anything else, something we’re thankful for.

I had a conversation with a former co-worker the other week, a guy who is a professional blogger of sorts. Indirectly, the topic came up of helping PWiT get more traffic via mentions and links in other blogs and the other tricks you can do to bump up hits using the 21st century arcane art of SEO, or search engine optimization.

SEO includes stuff like using common words in your post subjects that’ll be picked up by search engines and let your stuff show up when people google, or commenting on other, similar blogs so people notice you and track back to your own site, or deliberately creating situations that increase traffic, like starting little intrigues that often get out of hand (like gossip mags like to do).

These problogging tactics are meant not just to increase traffic but to lead towards monetization possibilities – the pro in problogging is professional after all. I have no beef with that. Cool. Go ahead, make some money. My own day job as group editor for a magazine company is similar, although rooted in the traditional print medium; we print using ink on paper, not pixels on monitors.

What I do have a beef with is how some so-called probloggers vigorously and actively use SEO tactics for their blogs to get thousands of unique hits per day and drive their Google pagerank up into the stratosphere – even if their blog content is, for all intents and purposes, crap. You can smell these blogs a mile away.

Their content are just page fillers, stuff written just for the sake of having a new post, posturing, masturbatory, self-indulgent drivel, pointless babbling that parrots the online zeitgeist without contributing anything to it. Some merely regurgitate what they see on the net or, worse, pass it off as theirs. There are lots of blogs like these. And they have ads because they have high pageranks and visit stats in the thousands, despite having vapid, repetitive, redundant and useless content. And they get paid for it. Essentially, like the song goes, it’s money for nothing.

Sure, there is some value in re-mentioning things already available on the net so that more people with less time on their hands can benefit from your endless grazing on the internet. But doing it because you’re either too lazy to write actual original posts or worse yet, can’t? Man.

Do what you want on your blog, that’s what it’s for, but if you start accepting money for it, the rules change.

Instead of thinking up original stuff, going out to find new and useful content for their readers or finding new angles to current issues and discuss them, some just repeat what’s out there. They trawl the net the whole day and just parrot what they find. These blogs are just aggregators of content, no different from a typical feed. It’s just that think they’re blogs. Then again, you can argue that they’re getting advertising for being exactly what they are. Somehow the thought is depressing. But they’re there.

Despite being generally egregious, this isn’t too bad. There are worse; instead of just borrowing, some actually steal.

I am reserving a special suite in hell for the folk who actually grab someone else’s entries and repost them on their own site just to fulfill their blog network’s post quota for the week. Some don’t even have the good manners to ask permission.

This is a special peeve of mine, because it’s happened to me. It’s not quite plagiarism, but it’s close. Sure, they link you up and give you credit in the post, thank you, but that’s about all they do. So-and-so said this on his blog yesterday. It was nice. Let me reprint it here. Click on the link to read it again. Ka-ching! Score! Hey, that’s flattering dude, but you adding to it would be much more flattering. And productive. Damn parasites.

Using SEO techniques is well and good, but if your blog is just a regurgitation of other people’s work, what is the point? It’s like me making a crap mag by ripping off whole pages from other real magazines, binding them together and putting my name on it, then making sure it’s on all the newsstands and bookstores, complete with press releases in the broadsheets, standees and streamers in the malls, billboards on EDSA, and casual mention on TV and radio so people will buy it. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re making money from other people’s work, though.

In my opinion creating good content should be the main tactic in getting better page ranking and increased traffic. A good product will usually get noticed, and if it doesn’t, then that’s the time you turn on the SEO machine and set it to high. It’s easy to buy a domain and some cheap hosting space, get WordPress, load it up, make a blog, then fire up the SEO shtick so you can artificially get ranking and secure some ads. But in the end what do you have, really?

Make a great blog first (or at least something worth reading) – which takes actual work – then use SEO and all the other tricks available today to get more exposure for it. Even if blogs don’t charge for readership, or have regulating bodies or even editors to check the darned grammar, they still have a fundamental responsibility to their readers, to at least justify the revenue they generate from it.

It’s just that the advertisers themselves only look at stats, which in the end are all that really matter for them before they load up the blogger’s paypal accounts every month. And for some of these bloggers getting that pagerank and upping the hit count is the all that’s important.

For our part, PWiT has gotten several offers of advertising already, some from international groups, but we’re hesitant to go on that tangent and compromise our content. We made this blog so we’d be free from commercial responsibilities, and be able to say what we want, but on the other side of the coin there are still expenses to keep up, like buying a domain and paying for hosting and extra bandwidth, and the occasional round of free coffee when we get together. We may be PWiTs, but we’re practical ones. We’re looking into it.

It just gets my goat seeing how this whole problogging thing can be, and is, being abused. Eventually the bottom’ll fall out (or to use the web analogy, the bubble’ll burst), the malcontents, feeders and no-talents will drop out, and revenue will level off. Net Darwinism will prevail. Sigh. Sorry. Been in a foul mood all weekend.

Ok John, you can have your Cranky Geek hat back now.

One of the disadvantages of living in the boondocks is that it takes longer for technology to reach our neck of the woods. I live in the fringes of Sta. Rosa, Laguna and one of the frustrations I have in living in this place is the lack of a decent internet access. I do have access to dial-up internet but everyone knows that most modern online services requires something faster than the 56K speed achievable on a modem. I can’t view YouTube videos, I can’t do **ehem** BitTorrents, I can’t even do simple software updates for my spanking brand new MacBook!

Speaking of the MacBook, lack of DSL service in my area has been magnified because Apple, in their arrogance, has eliminated the built-in modem for their latest line of computers. To do dial-up on a new MacBook, one has to purchase a Php4,000++ Apple USB modem. Well, I decided to make things better – at least for me.

I set up my old iBook (which still have those ever-useful built-in modem) to dial in to my ISP and I configured it to share its internet access through its built-in Wi-Fi adapter. So that’s basically it! I get to enjoy surfing the ‘net (at dial-up speed) from the comfort of my bedroom by basically converting my old iBook into a dial-up wireless access point!

Well, thinking back, this may not be the most cost-effective way to have Wi-Fi at home but then again, I already have my iBook at hand and I might as well use it to make things better for me. Besides, that’s what technology is supposed to do for techies like us… make things better for us.

Vista Flip 3D

Mac users have had Exposé for a while, but now that Vista has been released, Windows users can now enjoy fully the productivity-sapping habit of keeping many windows open, flipping through the open apps and documents with the jaw-dropping coolness of Flip 3D.

I have a rather set morning routine once I get to the office: open my computer, fire up Mail and check my work-related messages. Then iSiloX to start downloading newspapers and blogs for offline reading later on in the day. Then iTunes, to download the latest versions of my podcasts. Then Safari, to check my Gmail account, and my daily bookmarked sites. Then AdiumX, to get onto the local Jabber network. Then I open the first documents I need to work on for that day. And in the ten or fifteen minutes that I spend sleepwalking through that routine, I have, maybe, ten or fifteen windows open all at the same time.

The ironic thing is that I don’t believe in multitasking. I kind of subscribe to Merlin Mann’s proposition that we don’t really work on several things at the same time but instead spend little chunks of time focused on a task for a short period of time before proceeding to another one or returning to the previous one. I know it’s counterproductive, but it’s damn hard habit to break.

What’s your routine and how many windows do you have open on a regular basis?

Well, it looks like the midterm election campaign this year will also be fought in cyberspace. A lot of senatorial candidates already have websites that showcase their grandstanding achievements. Some even have entries in Wikipedia, the leading “contributor-generated” encyclopedia that gets millions of hits daily.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

In the past few weeks, my Gmail account has been receiving emails from certain “Kawal ng Mamamayang Pilipino” that contains propaganda information about the alleged corruption in the AFP. Those emails could be coming from one of the Oakwood mutineers who is also running for the Senate. Will this mean that my mailbox will suffer more SPAM from the others that have started to brush up their campaigns on the ‘net?

What’s next? Senatoriables as TXTMates?

This post was inspired by a news item in today’s INQUIRER.Net

Grist for the mill.

A friend with a friend with telco connections told me this morning this totally unsubstantiated rumor, so take it with a few tons of salt: there are at least 50 Apple iPhones in the Philippines as we speak.

My friend’s source, who is reasonably reliable, says that the major telcos are currently evaluating the iPhone for compatibility with their services and hardware, and to possibly create specific apps for the local market. According to the rumor being mongered, each telco (the two biggies and the wannabe) have ten units each for their various departments (engineering, marketing, etc.), so that makes 30 iPhones.

Then the National Telecommunications Commission supposedly has 20 units for evaluation, certification, approval and all that legal and technical jazz.

So all in all that makes about 50 units. Wowoweewah.

Sounds about reasonable. I kinda sorta think it could be true. But I would like to stress that this is a totally unsupported, unsubstantiated, likely bogus RUMOR, ok? Remember: tons of salt. PWiT thinks it would be nice to speculate though, and throws this tidbit out for the heck of it. Let the fun begin.

50 iPhones. Here. Oooh. Nice, if it were true.

Of course the telcos and the NTC are mum about it, and asking them would be like squeezing blood out of a stone. If any of you readers spot one of these in the wild, like maybe in a cafe or on the MRT (which I highly doubt; Apple’s NDAs are scary things), chime in and tell us about it, will you?

Microsoft has recently unveiled their latest Operating System for Mobile Phones, and honestly, I am a little bit excited.

From what I have read, here’s what I think will be the features of Windows Mobile 6 that we should be excited about.

  • Call history of each contact is now placed directly in their respective vCard – This will make it easier for me to see how many times Adel has harassed called me about writing deadlines.
  • A smart calendar view – If Microsoft is to be believed, this means I can look at a week’s worth of appointments and agendas with just one glance.
  • Built-in data encryption – Porn Data stored in a memory can can be easily encrypted. This also extends to the Exchange server for you corporate types.
  • Windows Live! Integration – For an MSN Messenger and Hotmail nut like me, this is awesome.
  • A better looking email client with HTML mail support – I’m not exactly down with the HTML support, but a better looking email client is always a boon.
  • New and improved MS Office suite – Better MS Word? I’m so over that like butter on bread.

And the best new “feature” of Windows Mobile 6 is:

  • Windows Vista compatibility – When in the world did this ever become a “feature”? Windows Mobile 6 should be Vista compatible since it is afterall a Microsoft product. It’s like Casio saying their Diver’s watches are *gasp* water-proof. Oh well, guess we Windows Mobile user should be grateful as Microsoft’s own Zune player wasn’t even initially Vista compatible.

Stupid “Vista compatible” feature aside, I have high hopes for Windows Mobile 6 and there’s a good chance I won’t be disappointed.

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