THE day after super typhoon Yolanda battered Cebu, developer Albert Padin of Sym.ph went to their office on Escario St. to play games and work on some personal projects. Saturdays, Padin said, are days when their team does hackathons on projects that do not involve their day-to-day jobs.
While combing through news and social network updates, Padin read a call on geekli.st for developers to pitch in coding skills to build a system to help in relief efforts. Since he already had a team that was ready to build things, Padin said they decided to hold a hackathon to build a website to help in relief efforts.
They started the hackathon at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the goal of wrapping up by 5 p.m. They finished at 10 p.m. instead because they worked on 2 things: 1) a system that can help track the search for missing persons and 2) a site that can centralize relief and rescue information in the different areas ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda.
They later closed the person finder service and redirected people to the Google People Finder website. Padin said the Google system was better and the people running it had experience using it in previous disasters.
But the team was able to deploy the Bangon Philippines website at bangonphilippines.appspot.com by Saturday night: providing a dashboard to the grim statistics of missing persons, casualties and destruction while offering data and links to relief efforts. (Note: I was told rebuilt site will be available soon. Link will be shared here once the website is live)
The team continued working on the system but another developer, Caresharing Mark John Buenconsejo, sparked a discussion on Facebook about setting up a system that will allow people to organize their own relief efforts and plug into a system that will centralize data and help guide people into pitching in contributions. Padin volunteered to turn the Bangon Philippines website into such a system.
The group then organized a hackathon and issued a call for volunteers to go to the Sym.ph office inside the building beside Capitol parish church.
Instead of improving the Bangon Philippines website, the group decided to rebuild it. Padin said they chose rebuilding because of the expanded needs for the system’s backend – which will now offer APIs that will allow people to grab data the project will generate and build apps and services on top of it.
After a discussion over pizza and coffee, the team of hackers decided to focus on the following problem: “Not everybody knows what everybody else is doing so relief efforts are not evenly spread out.”
Padin said efforts were concentrated on Tacloban and people did not know the situation in many other areas on Yolanda’s path.
The group’s solution? “Find out what everybody is doing and put it online.”
Padin said in an interview late Tuesday that they aim to gather as much information as they can on damage reports and relief efforts and would need “a lot of volunteers.” When asked for an update tonight, Padin said it will likely be up in a few hours.
During the interview, Nicole, Padin’s new wife and his co-founder of SpellDial, along with Paola Galan and Vicky Saguin were scouring online news reports and social media postings for information – any tidbit of information – on relief efforts. People’s generosity was overwhelming, the online spreadsheet containing the listings refused to add more cells to contain data during the interview.
Padin said they would need a lot of volunteers to collect information. Those who want to help can send an email to email@example.com or text 0932 605 8175.
The post Cebu developers harness tech to help in Yolanda rescue, relief efforts appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.
THE first thing that strikes you when you turn on the LG G2 is how beautiful the display is. It is sharp and vibrant and comes on such a big screen. It’s almost realistic you’d find yourself gingerly pressing the glass.
And as you start using what is currently LG’s flagship device, the next thing that will strike you is how responsive it is. Opening apps, switching between applications and moving between screens feel fluid and seamless.
And as the day wears on, you’d find the phone’s large battery capacity kicking in, allowing you to use the device for an entire day without having to recharge.
I tried the LG G2 for several weeks and found the phone, which comes with Android Jelly Bean, a joy to use.
As a heavy phone user, I use my phone as my main computer. It’s the first device I check in the morning and the last one I open at night. Throughout the day, I use it for various work and personal tasks. The phone is my main email and reading device. And as a journalist, the phone is a personal newsroom where work and play coexist.
Excellent phone display
Coming from an iPhone 5, the G2’s screen really stands out. It’s just about right for reading on the phone – big enough to make the reading enjoyable and small enough to still be handy.
The LG G2 comes with a 5.2″ Full HD IPS display with a 423 pixels-per-inch resolution. The company said the Full HD screen will give you an “authentic view of whatever you’re looking at.”
The G2 is a great reading device that comes with an auto-brightness capability that works. Whether catching up with news on Flipboard or Zite, going through long reads saved in Pocket or reading ebooks on the Kindle app, reading is a great experience on the G2.
The G2’s HD display also makes viewing movies on the phone a great experience. I store movies at home with a network attached storage and stream these using an Android app – a setup I took full advantage of with the G2. I watched episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (at 1 hour and 30 minutes each), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (55 minutes each) and The Blacklist (45 minutes) in bed and find the phone still on when I wake up. On the iPhone, I’d find the battery drained.
Battery capacity is one standout feature of the LG G2. It comes with a 3,000 mAh battery unmatched by phones in its class. With the G2, I could leave home without a charger, confident the phone will last me the day. This is particularly useful for my job – as a journalist I need to be constantly connected to keep up with news and updates and to do work.
The battery is the bane of modern phones but with the G2, it is its best feature. Even with my son playing graphics-intensive games on the phone, the G2 still had enough power for me to do work.
And power is one thing the G2 has plenty of – it comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Processor with 2.26Ghz quadcore CPUs. For people of a certain generation reading about processor specifications of desktops that used to be launched annually, it boggles the mind to find these numbers on today’s mobile devices.
The processor serves the G2 well, allowing you to indulge in the vice of modern living – digital multi-tasking – without the device freezing or slowing to a stuttering display.
The G2 also comes with a good camera: a 13-megapixel device that comes with an optical image stabilizer technology to steady the image, even with our shaky hands while doing selfies. It also comes with multi points auto focus to help you get clearer shots.
The G2’s controls are different from other phones – the buttons are placed at the back of the device, right where your index finger is when holding the device during a phone call. It needs a little getting used to, and for me it took a couple of days.
The phone also has a different way to wake up. You just need to double tap on the screen to make it active again.
It also comes with audio zoom that will allow you to focus on an audio source by zooming in on it while recording the video. LG said the feature “uses three stereo mikes, which amplify sound from the specified angle and deemphasize the surrounding noise, so you can zoom in on the sounds you want to hear, and tune out those you don’t.”
Quick Window case
The LG G2 also has a unique phone case with a “quick window” capability. It offers you a peek, via a small cutout display on the front cover, on such things as the time, missed calls and messages. The Quick Window case comes free with the G2 package as part of the company’s promotion.
The device comes with a plethora of features: high-speed connectivity with LTE, NFC-capability, plug and pop that presents icons related to listening as soon as you plug in a headphone, guest mode to allow other people to use the device, among other technical specs.
What I don’t like about the device is its lack of a memory card slot to expand storage. But this is easily dealt with by cloud storage services and apps. I wasn’t sold on its default launcher and Android customization but, in fairness and to be honest, I never gave it a chance. The first thing I’d do on any Android device is to replace its home launcher. My current choice is Nova Launcher, which worked well with the device.
But all in all, the G2 is a top-class Android phone. It’s suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range.
The G2 is a top-class Android phone. Its suggested retail price is P29,990, which is not bad compared with other devices in its range.
If you’re considering a high-end Android device for your Christmas phone upgrade this year, the LG G2 should be among the first devices you should consider.
I’ve always wanted to learn and start using Markdown in writing. For some time, it hovered near the top of my to-do list but I never got around to actually starting to use it.
I use a Markdown-capable online writing tool – Editorially – but I never used it for that. I used it purely to manage articles and to allow me to work on a post in multiple workstations.
When I write, I compose only in plain text. As soon as I’d finish the article, I’d go over the post again and manually code the HTML tags for blog or website publishing.
Markdown, a “lightweight markup language” created by a writer – John Gruber, simplifies that. It allows you to to easily mark up documents and export these into structurally valid HTML.
I’ve always filed using Markdown as one of the tasks I’d do in a future #30DayChallenge.
I finally got around to using it more extensively this month when I became more active in using Github to manage my projects and work files. I fully realized its utility when I started processing the Sun.Star Cebu News Style Guide and uploading it to its repo so that newsroom editors and reporters could start working to update and improve it in preparation for turning it into a mobile app.
If you do a lot of writing, especially for digital media, Markdown is something you should consider using.
It took me days to manually code the old version of the Sun.Star Cebu style guide in HTML. With Markdown, it took me hours.
What’s more, Markdown is easy to do – it’s something I can ask other editors and reporters in the newsroom to use in updating our style guide. After introducing them to Git, anyway. But hey, our editor-in-chief now uses Github.
There are many Markdown editors available for free download. On the Mac, my favorite is Mou. On Windows, it’s MarkdownPad. On my Elementary OS Linux desktop, I just use an online Markdown editor like Dillinger or Markable. Here’s an exhaustive list if you want to try out other editors. Here’s the Markdown syntax reference if you’re interested.
As part of my 30-Day Challenge this month, I plan to use Markdown in all my writings and create a workflow that fits my needs.
IT used to be that you’d never find the words “Linux” and “easy to use” in the same sentence.
Linux, to the unfamiliar, is an operating system – the basic software that allows you to use your computer. It’s like Windows (although that comparison probably made a lot of its developers and users cringe).
The main difference between Linux and Windows is the way these are developed. Windows is a proprietary system built by a single company- Microsoft. Linux is built by a global community of users under an open source license – a framework that encourages sharing and collaboration.
Unlike Windows, Linux is free. By free, it not only means that you can use it at no cost, most open source programs are free. More importantly, you have certain “freedoms” with the software: you’re free to run it for any purpose, free to study how it works and change it, free to share it and free to improve it. Think of it as “free speech and not free beer,” advocates are wont to say.
To install Windows, you need to buy a CD and pay for a license. I checked with a local store and was told that a Windows 8 single-language license costs P3,850. A Windows 8 Pro costs P6,800. You pay this much and you can only install it on a single computer. The system bars you from installing it on another PC. The technical-savvy who are able to do so is committing an illegal act of software piracy.
To use Linux, on the other hand, you just download it for free. A typical Linux installer is about 700mb and comes in an .iso format that you can burn on a CD or use with a USB drive. I personally prefer setting up a bootable USB using UNetbootin.
Unlike Windows, Linux has a lot of variants called distros or distributions. Among the popular distributions are Ubuntu, which is supported by the company Canonical; Fedora, the community edition backed by Red Hat; CentOS, Debian.
Ubuntu is the most popular distribution. And no wonder – the goal of its developers was to create an easy to use Linux distribution with a predictable release cycle of 6 months.
I’ve been using Ubuntu in my various work stations for years. I was, for a time, caught up in the 6-month release cycle and would immediately upgrade all my workstations to the latest Ubuntu version.
But when Ubuntu started using the Unity interface, I started looking for another distro that had the more traditional desktop interface. For a time, I used Linux Mint with the Cinnamon shell.
elementary OS release
But then I found elementary OS.
Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and started out as a collection of themes for the distro before becoming its own distribution. The OS offers the best-looking out-of-the-box experience among the Linux distributions that I’ve tried.
It copies a lot of elements of the Mac OSX so any user of the Apple desktop or laptop will find the desktop interface familiar.
Elementary OS has a dock that allows you easy access to frequently-used programs. But it stands out in its implementation of Workspace switching, the that best I’ve tried across all OSes. This feature allows you to easily segregate your tasks among different Workspaces and toggle between them.
What’s different about elementary OS is that it uses only a single mouse click to do tasks that you needed to double click in Mac or Windows. It can be a bit unsettling to first time users.
Elementary OS also does not have desktop access in the traditional sense of having the ability to put things on your desktop with icons that serve as shortcuts to applications or files. The desktop’s function is to only display a beautiful wallpaper (albeit, you can access it using the file manager).
Elementary OS also stands out with its choice of default applications: Midori for the Web browser, Geary Mail for email and Plank for its dock. It does not come with an Office suite but you can just download and install LibreOffice.
Elementary OS is based on the Ubuntu long term support released last year and may have issues with newer hardware. If you do encounter problems, however, you can just install a new kernel, a process that is documented in various websites. It worked really well and the OS is responsive in my 4-year old desktop PC.
I’ve been using Elementary OS for more than 2 weeks now and I love the experience. If you want to try Linux for the first time, this is the distribution that you should choose.
Right now, my dream portable work setup would be an ultrabook running Elementary OS. If only manufacturers would produce more Linux-compatible Intel ultrabooks instead of focusing only on Windows.
After trying out Elementary OS for a day, I decided to make it my main home desktop operating system. Elementary OS is an Ubuntu Linux-based distro that has a beautiful and simple interface and a nice selection of default apps. It also seems to respond well to modest hardware. If you’re a first-time Linux user, this is the distro to try. #Linux #elementaryOS #Ubuntu
Southeast Asia is the battleground for a bruising competition among a set of cute mobile phone applications: chat apps. Up north, the battle has largely been won in their home markets, with Line taking Japan, WeChat in China and KakaoTalk in South Korea.
In SouthEast Asia, however, there is no clear winner yet, said Junde Yu, the vice president for AsiaPacific of App Annie. Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk are battling each other across the region through TV ads, billboards and celebrity endorsements.
“We send our heartfelt condolences out to good old-fashioned SMS,” App Annie said in a blog post on the subject.
Yu said the fight is more than just about getting the top market share in social messaging. The apps are “entry points to dominate mobile.”
Not just about stickers
“They are not just looking to get sticker revenues although it is big for them,” he said. Although the apps are free, they sell virtual stickers that you send to your friends in your chats.
“They are looking to use it to drive app downloads, to drive game downloads,” Yu said. He said Line was able to push one of their games to top the charts in just a few hours by promoting it in their messenger.
“This is something carriers can do when rolling out apps. You can send out text to encourage people to install and instantly you are top of the cart, you don’t need to buy ads,” he said.
Chat apps and other so-called over-the-top or OTT services, which are services you use on the network of your telco provider, dominated discussions in last week’s Asian Carriers Conference in Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa. OTT services are disrupting the telecommunications industry and cannibalizing its revenues.
Apps like WeChat, Skype or Line allow you to send messages or make calls for free through an Internet connection, whether via Wi-Fi or your telco’s network.
Telcos will lose $32.6 billion to OTT messaging applications this year, according to Ovum, an analyst and consultancy company headquartered in London. By 2016, Ovum said the losses will add up to $54 billion. Add to that the $52 billion telcos are projected to lose to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications by 2016 and the future does look challenging, an analyst said last week.
There is an opportunity for telcos to do well in the new digital landscape dominated by OTT players, another analyst said. They just have to get out of that operator mindset, said Bubbly CEO Thomas Clayton.
“Operator guys, you got to react faster,” Clayton said. He said that when a chat network dominates a country, it also helps drive smartphone adoption. He said people would want to be in the dominant network and would buy smartphones to be there.
Telcos’ responses to OTT services, according to Ovum, range from adopting a wait-and-see attitude to blocking their services to working or even competing with them.
Massive change ahead
Oscar Veronese, InternetQ SVP for Southeast Asia, told operators to partner with OTT players. “You have the consumers…they have the speed, the creativity.” Veronese said the market will “explode” in the next six months.
“You’re gonna see a massive change with people using feature phones going to smartphones,” especially cheaper Androids, Veronese said.
In the Philippines, both Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom have started offering prepaid buckets that offer unlimited use of WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk services.
Yu said Filipinos are already top downloaders of mobile phone applications. He said the country is ranked 18th globally in downloads from Google Play, which is “really high” for a country with its population and GDP figure.
In the Philippines, revenue erosion is not as apparent as that in Europe “simply because the cost of call and text here is already very low,” said Sun Cellular senior vice president Ricky Peña.
Experiment, learn lessons
“We have the benefit of learning from the experience of other operators. The way forward is to experiment and learn the lessons the OTTs are teaching us. It’s all about giving the richer experience to customers,” said Peña, who is also the head of communication of Voyager Innovations, Inc., the innovation arm of the companies under Manny V. Pangilinan’s group.
Peña, however, said the issue is more than just messaging.
“It’s all about building a digital life experience. Right now, the buzz is all about messaging. But the bigger picture is how will this technology change people’s lives? That is what really will make your customers stickers. You will change for the better how they live, how they work, how they play,” he said.
“It’s not just all about messaging. Sure, communications is the glue that holds everything together. We also have to address the need to digitize other facets of their life like education, health, commerce – all of these things will be part of that ecosystem,” he said.
The post WeChat, Line, KakaoTalk battle for users; no clear winners yet in Southeast Asia appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.
“IN 200 meters,” the Waze app on the phone said, “turn right.”
We were headed to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu and were near the Banilad flyover on our way to the IT Park when Waze, the driving application I was running on my phone, gave the direction to turn right.
Waze had determined, by going through its database of roads in Cebu and reports of traffic conditions sent in by users, that the quickest route for us was to go to that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall, pass through Camp Lapu-Lapu and a small side road and emerge on our way up to the hotel.
But I’ve never passed that neighborhood behind Gaisano Country Mall for years and didn’t know whether we could find our way out of it or even whether we could get in Camp Lapu-Lapu, which is a military facility.
Waze app GPS navigation
Although the Waze app had brought us quickly to where we were, 200 meters before Gaisano Country Mall, I had a mind to ignore the device and follow the route I’d normally take, which is to go straight Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. and then turn right to Jose Maria del Mar St. to enter IT Park.
But I decided to follow Waze’s advice, I’m testing it for a column piece anyway, I told myself. Corner by corner, the app navigated us, via voice cues, through the neighborhood near Camp Lapu-Lapu, right through the camp itself and out near JY Square.
And, as Waze had done so for weeks that I’ve been using it, we cut travel time by several minutes.
Waze, for the unfamiliar, is an application that you install into your Android or iOS device to help you navigate traffic. It uses GPS or global positioning system to track where you are, where you want to go and how you can go there fast.
It does this by getting route and driving data from the devices of its users and receiving reports from them. Users can report traffic jams and their severity, accidents, hazards and even police.
The system was founded in Israel and became very popular all over the world that Google bought it for $1.03 billion. The traffic reports are now starting to be integrated in Google Maps.
Easy to use
If you drive, Waze is an app that you should install. It’s for free. But for it to work, you need to turn on our phone’s GPS or location service and have a working mobile data connection.
Using it is very straightforward. To go somewhere, you just choose navigate and search for the location of the place you are headed to. To simplify regular commute, it allows you to save locations you frequent like work, home etc. Reporting traffic situations is also easy, provided you have good mobile Internet connection.
The Waze app, being free and easy to deploy, is a great solution to dealing with traffic in an area like Cebu. Closed circuit cameras, which the City is deploying albeit not only for traffic but also to monitor crime, can only do so much and aren’t as useful on the phone.
It would help our situation if more people would use apps like Waze and if government can help improve the system by populating it with field reports from enforcers.
The City already has a traffic reporting system via a system built on Android phones deployed on select taxicabs. By running the Waze app in them and encouraging drivers to send reports, other commuters will be able to take advantage of that rich traffic data.
The post Waze app: how to use your phone to outsmart Cebu traffic appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.
DAVAO CITY-After hitting LTE Advanced download speeds in excess of 200 megabits per second (Mbps) during tests in Manila, Smart Communications Inc. held another test in Davao City last Saturday.
PLDT and Smart Technology head Rolando Peña said he scheduled the test in Davao to show that the company’s network is able to deliver LTE Advanced throughout the country.
“I want to be able to tell my board of directors that I have personally tested the network up to Davao and that we are able to deliver the next generation LTE on a nationwide basis. To me Davao is the biggest challenge because it traverses several land-sea-land-sea type of combination,” Peña said during the test at the PLDT office in this city.
Peña stressed the importance of the company’s fiber network which spans about 71,000 kilometers. He said the “Philippines’ most extensive fiber network” is what enables them to deploy advanced networks.
LTE Advanced speeds
Saturday’s test was attended by journalists and government officials, including a group from the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
“We are introducing the next generation LTE. And the next generation LTE is capable of doing theoretical speeds of more than one gigabit per second wirelessly and practical speeds of about 700 megabits per second,” Peña announced before the test of what he said was the “first level of the next generation of LTE.”
Peña said the current LTE is capable of “practical download speeds of about 65 Mbps.” The first level of the next LTE is capable of more than thrice that, he said.
During the test conducted by Smart and a team from Huawei Philippines led by wireless division head Li Zhi Chao, they were able to hit download speeds of up to 214Mbps. Allan Siao of Smart Access Planning then demonstrated the download of a 100-megabyte file via file transfer protocol to compare speeds of the current LTE and LTE Advanced. The current LTE connection took 43 seconds to download the file while the LTE Advanced connection took just six seconds. They also demonstrated HD video communications via Skype and HD streaming video.
Impact of high-speed network
“It’s very inspiring. It feels like the kind of technology that Davao needs, as well as the rest of the country. Imagine the impact of such a fast speed,” said ICT Davao executive vice president Bert Barriga.
Barriga said LTE Advanced is something that can be used “for empowering small data centers, service delivery centers, across the island. It is very practical and it does not require heavy infra. It’s very efficient and small businesses can run it and manage it also.”
“Having this in Davao would bring so much opportunity,” said Davao City Councilor Leo Avila III, the chairman of the council’s committee on transportation and communications, “business and governance is already about being connected.”
Schedule of commercial rollout
Peña said they are closely looking into two areas to decide on when to do commercial rollout of LTE Advanced: the availability of compatible devices and development of applications that take advantage of the high-speed network.
He said that while Philippine consumers take from two to three years to change phones, portable Wi-Fi devices or “MyFi” units will enable people to take advantage of advanced networks without having to upgrade their phones.
On the application said, Peña said “today, most of the applications can be very well served by (current) LTE connectivity.”
Peña said the Smart network is ready to quickly deploy LTE Advanced.
“We just have to add a certain radio unit to our existing cell site and we will already be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure,” he said.
LTE Advanced pricing
When pressed for a timeframe, Peña said he thinks commercial tests can start early next year.
He also said they are rethinking mobile Internet pricing, especially the practice of setting different fees for 3G and LTE.
“When we launched LTE, it was priced differently from 3G and we are now actually asking ourselves, why are people not adopting LTE that fast? And one answer is and we are finding this out, if we price LTE the same way as 3G – in other words, we don’t make any differentiation, whatever technology is available so long as your device can use it then use it.”
“Anyway today, pricing for mobile broadband is changing from unlimited to volume-based. So if it’s volume anyway, it doesn’t matter whether you use the fast lane or the slow lane. At the end of the day, it’s the volume transaction that matters,” he said.
The post Smart network ready for LTE Advanced: Rolando Peña appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.
WERE you among the hundreds of people stranded in parts of Metro Cebu Saturday night? A strong and sudden downpour caused waist-deep flooding in several areas of the metro.
Flooding has now become all too common not just because of the sorry state of our drainage system and our explosive growth but also because of the weather. Climate change is upon us and its bringing disasters along with it.
One thing that empowers communities in dealing with disasters like widespread urban flooding is technology.
Before technologies like mobile phones came in, disaster preparation was a “failure,” said Dr. Cedric Daep, the head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo)
Even if you have a good early warning system, you can’t evacuate people without communications, Daep said in an interview last July 5 when he was in Cebu to work on the customization of Tudlo, a disaster-preparedness and response mobile phone app.
Albay is known for its effective and successful disaster preparedness and response program. Zero casualties, Dr. Daep proudly pointed out. And technology plays a central role in this, he said.
Infoboard alert system
When they suspend classes, the information is quickly spread throughout the province via text messages. And any information sent by the Infoboard system is deemed official, based on a Provincial Board ordinance.
Daep said the system allows them to quickly warn people against potential hazards and disasters and advice them on what to do to be safe.
Best Disaster Response App winner
Apsemo’s disaster response is about to get yet another technological boost through Tudlo, an app developed by a Cebu-based team led by Vince Loremia that won as Best Disaster Response App during the #SmartActs Cebu: A Hackathon for Social Good last September 2012.
Albay is the Cebu team’s first LGU partner for the application.
The name Tudlo comes from the Visayan word for “teach,” “point” and “guide” and it does all that in responding to disasters. It serves as a “disaster dictionary,” a mobile guide that teaches people how to respond to different hazards, said Dr. Daep. During a disaster, Loremia said in his pitch for the app, Tudlo can point people to where they could evacuate safely and then guide them during rescue and reconstruction.
Dr. Daep was in Cebu earlier this month to lead the Tudlo team in customizing the content for the app. He translated the guide into Bicolano and added tips that are both based on scientific studies as well as indigenous knowledge.
Among the tips there is how to check wind direction to ascertain whether a typhoon will hit your place. Dr. Daep also shared how one needs to close windows and doors that are facing the wind of a coming typhoon but make sure doors and windows in the opposite side are open to allow air to come in to counteract the vacuum effect and make sure your roof isn’t blown away. This information will be in Tudlo along with a lot of other tips.
Key role in reporting, needs assessment
Dr. Daep is deeply enthusiastic for Tudlo and he sees it deployed in a month or two, taking advantage of Albay’s existing disaster-response network. With the app, people will be able to report hazard situations and get immediate feedback on government action and response.
He sees the app playing a key role in the future in damage and needs assessment. Dr. Daep said the app will enable control centers to get a consolidated assessment report coming from the different communities within 24 hours. The current procedure involves sending consolidated teams of agri, social welfare, engineering and health personnel to the field, which takes time and a lot of resources. With Tudo, reports from the communities will come in “like results during an election.”
He said communities using tools like Tudlo won’t need rescue. Even before a disaster strikes, the system has already triggered a mass alert to bring people to safer areas.
The post Tech as enabling disaster preparedness: APSEMO experience appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.
“Sometimes as a journalist,” Sun.Star Cebu reporter Bernadette Parco said during the payITfwd launch in Cebu, “you have to step out and do something for your community.”
For Parco, “doing something” is working with a friend, who is also a journalist, to hand out school bags to poor students to encourage them to continue going to school.
Parco was among 5 people invited to talk about their advocacies during the launch of the payITfwd program of Smart Communications Inc. in Cebu last July 5. The program is meant to support “social good” initiatives through technology.
“The goal is to support, promote, expand, enhance, reward and enable social good efforts that foster learning through technology. With payITfwd, social good advocates can scale up and even encourage the public to support their cause,” Smart Public Affairs Group head Ramon Isberto said in a press statement released during the event.
Each of the social good advocates chosen by Smart in a two-round selection process will get a technology package of five tablets, 1 Smart Bro Pocket Wi-Fi, Smart Bro load of P3,000 and a cash prize of P50,000. Details and mechanics of the program are available in its website here.
Cebu Bloggers Society Inc. president Ruben Licera Jr. said the program allows bloggers to do “the things that we love doing – social media, digital marketing, blogging — to share the stories of community heroes.”
In the Cebu launch, Parco was joined by Joselito “Boboi” Costas, Lorenzo “Insoy” Niñal, Mikyu Maglasang and Dr. Narciso “Buboy” Tapia.
Costas, a writer and advocate of sustainable and community-based tourism, shared how the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association (BAETA) was able to help other villages go into ecotourism after their own Bojo River Cruise became successful. Costas organized BAETA and serves as its consultant.
The river cruise was launched in June 2009. A year later, they recorded more than a thousand guests and almost P500,000 in gross sales. After 4 years, the cruise had 40,000 guests and a gross sales of almost P11 million. They also remitted P1 million to the local government as users’ fee, Costas said.
Costas said apart from the river cruise, the package includes components on local cuisine and mat weaving but the main objective is to educate “our guests on the importance of conservation and protection of our natural and cultural heritage.”
He said the group was able to “pass on the gift or pay it forward” to other villagers in other parts of Aloguinsan. They helped train the other groups running The Farmhouse, Hermit Cove’s Tour and OdysSea Tour. Costas said that they will soon have a marine reserve.
Costas said that because of the initiative of the local government and the residents, big corporations and groups supported .
Costas said the lessons he learned in running the project are:
1) A government project will only succeed if there is support from the grassroots; if it will be approached on a bottom-top way.
2) Social preparation is very important in any government project.
3) Empowerment of the villagers is key.
Costas said what happened in Aloguinsan “are examples of how when people are inspired, when people come together to do something good and for the good of the society, for the good of the people, it will succeed.”
The Sun.Star Cebu editor and columnist and lead of popular band Missing Filemon also serves as executive director of Tsinelas Foundation, a school-based group that gives educational assistance to poor students in mountain barangays.
Tsinelas, according to Niñal, “is the story of a group that started very small, attempted to be very big and finally decided to stay very small.”
Niñal and some friends started Tsinelas in 2003 when he was fresh out of the seminary. He said he sent their house help to school and some cousins and sought the help of friends. Their group of friends later realized they were doing the same thing – helping others go to school – and they decided to meet and collaborate.
They decided to form Tsinelas, picking the name “because of the very rich symbolism behind the very simple thing you are wearing now.”
Tsinelas is a school-based organization and they had chapters in St. Theresa’s College, UP, Southwestern University, Cebu Technological University and other schools.
When their chapters expanded, they group thought about “growing big.” They applied for grants. What would have been their biggest break was when JP Morgan Chase called them because they were interested in supporting their programs.
Niñal said they came close to signing an agreement that involved millions of pesos.
He said they group’s officers met and discussed the offer and decided “dili mada” (we weren’t ready) based on the character of the group and its founders, which he described as “very low key.”
They returned the proposal and decided to return to their old goal of helping out people in their own small way. “Why aim for something big if we can’t handle it?”
Niñal said his experience with Tsinelas taught him that “we don’t really have to be big” to help people.
We could stay “where we are comfortable, where we are effective. We can do things even in small ways. just choose the right partners, just choose the right people to work with.”
“The sense of fulfillment will be there.”
Maglasang, a software engineer, is a volunteer for Gawad Kalinga. She loves to volunteer for community outreach and did work for Tsinelas and other groups.
She started volunteering for Gawad Kalinga in 2011, right after she graduated from college.
She said Gawad Kalinga isn’t just about building houses, it’s a “movement that aims to eradicate poverty by providing homes for the poor and helping restore their dignity.”
She said the group is also about “about building communities, building relationships.”
“They also provide different programs, not just building houses. It also has programs for health, for caring about the environment,” she said. “It also provides avenues for beneficiaries to build business to sustain their community.”
She said it warms her heart to hear beneficiaries express appreciation for their effort.
Parco is a general assignments reporter covering church, health, environment and education for Sun.Star Cebu. She said she was invited to the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippine screening for Central Visayas and was inspired by the young people “who had their own projects and changed their communities in their own ways.”
Parco and her friend, journalist Cris Every Lato, decided to gather bags no longer being used by their friends and give these away to poor students.
She thought about giving bags after seeing a young boy carry his books by tying these with a straw.
They contacted friends via Facebook and text messaging and were able to get 50 bags with school supplies in them last year.
Some of their beneficiaries are children of drug addicts. Parco, who choked up on stage upon recalling this, said these children had deformities.
She said they hoped that the bags would encourage the children to continue going to school.
Parco said they collected fewer bags these year but these were of better quality. She said they hope to give away a second batch of bags in the coming months.
The project, said Parco, “is just a little bag story. But it’s also a story of friends.”
Dr. Buboy Tapia
Tapia, a medical blogger, shared his story about suffering from polycystic kidney disease (PKD).
“Mine is a personal story. It’s a story close to my kidneys,” he said.
Tapia said technology helped him in dealing with his condition, which was diagnosed just as he finished medical school and was a post-graduate intern. He said it was hard for him to accept the diagnosis.
Tapia said he found a blog of someone who suffered from PKD but still had a positive outlook on life. He said he began to think that life could go on despite the disease.
Tapia said he decided to blog about his condition and how he copes with it in order to “provide positivity to other patients” and share his knowledge as both a doctor and patient.
He said he found the sharing and interactions online with other sufferers of the disease “therapeutic” and plans to start an online community for kidney disease patients.
He said he realized that “even if we are sick, we can still do things for the community, in the comforts of your home or from your laptop.”
After the sharing of their stories, Smart public affairs manager for education programs Stephanie Orlino said people were “enriched and inspired by their stories and that’s what payITfwd is all about.”
“What we want to do is support and reward and showcase all the good things being done by ordinary people. We want to enable more social good initiatives through technology,” she said.
Nick Wilwayco, Smart corporate communications and social innovation manager, said there was a lot of potential for “using tech for social good.”
She cited the example of Albay using the Tudlo disaster preparedness and response app that was developed in Cebu. She said tech can reach out and help “so many people.”
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I just completed a 30-day challenge to run at least 5 kilometers a day. I failed at my attempt to blog daily. One out of 2 isn’t bad for my first month.
The idea behind the 30-Day Challenge is that 30 days, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts, are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.” Cutts popularized the idea of taking on a 30-Day Challenge after he gave a TED talk on the topic.
For June, I decided to taken on 2 challenges: 1) run at least 5 kilometers a day and 2) blog daily. I completed the daily running part; I failed at the daily blogging right in the first week.
I think I’ve been able to rebuild my running habit. I used to run regularly and in long distances until I had to focus on my startup‘s projects. A few weeks into my daily runs, I started looking forward to my time on the road. My weekends are again set aside for running longer distances.
Among the most meaningful runs that I did in the month were on Day 1, when I started the challenge with a 21-kilometer solo LSD (long slow distance run); Day 7, when I ran in the rain in what was supposed to be an Ungo Friday Night Run; Day 12, when my run was cut short by a storm that flooded many areas in Metro Cebu; Day 14 at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City after covering the PLDT stockholders’ meeting; Day 17 at the beautiful Esplanade in Iloilo City after a meeting partners and friends that included liempo chips!; Day 22, which was a 22-kilometer run from Moalboal to Badian and back; Day 26 when I pushed myself to run 5 kilometers in 29 minutes and 25 seconds and Day 28, which was a 15K run from Hale Manna in Basdako in Moalboal to the Poblacion and back.
The month has taught me a few things:
1) Focus. Although I decided early on that my main challenge was to run, taking on another challenge doomed the secondary task from the start. Running daily takes a lot of commitment – physically and mentally – and I no longer had the energy for the secondary challenge of blogging every day.
2) Prepare. I was able to run 5 kilometers a day because I had been gradually getting back to regular running after about a year of slacking off. I had a base to build on. In fact, when I completed the challenge, it was already my 42nd successive day of running.
In contrast, I wasn’t prepared to write a blog post daily. I did not think ahead of potential topics and, more crucial, I did not prepare myself mentally for the task.
3) Commit. I made a commitment to myself that I would complete the running challenge, whatever it would take. This meant that sometimes I’d run by myself at midnight in our subdivision because that was the only free time I had. It also meant that I had to run under the storm (the June 12 downpour left me stranded in the flooded streets of Cebu).
4) Measure. You cannot change what you cannot measure. For this, I find the phone to be the best tool. In my running, I was dependent on RunKeeper, an app that uses GPS to measure your running distance and speed and then keeps a log of all your runs. I also extensively use Lift, an app that allows you to keep daily track of habit you want to build or lose.
Here’s my Twitter log of my 5K a day 30-Day Running Challenge:
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BlackBerry launched in Cebu yesterday its first BlackBerry 10 device with a physical QWERTY keypad – the BlackBerry Q10.
I was able to play with the device for several minutes during the launch and found it a great phone for those who want a physical keyboard.
Organizers of the event held a game that had attendees answer questions via BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) as a way to try out the Q10 and its physical keyboard.
I was the designated typist of our losing team and found the experience of writing messages on the Q10′s keypad really good. There was an initial adjustment, of course.
Before trying out the Q10, I had been using the BlackBerry Z10, a pure touchscreen device. The Z10 is a good phone but it doesn’t stand out in a mobile world dominated by Android gadgets and iOS devices.
The Q10, however, stands out because it is a really good modern phone with a physical keyboard, a device category that’s slowly vanishing as more people start using touchscreen devices.
I think the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which runs on these newer devices, is good although hobbled by the dearth of 3rd party applications. The system, however, can run Android applications converted into a .bar format.
The BlackBerry Hub, the central location for all emails and messages, is a standout feature of BB 10. It goes really well with the BlackBerry Q10.
But at P31,000, the BlackBerry Q10 may be priced too high. If I were someone who prefers a physical keypad, I’d rather wait for the cheaper BlackBerry Q5 that is set to be released in the coming months.
As a journalist, I use my phone extensively for news gathering. Apart from it being my camera, the phone is also my main voice recorder for interviews. I still carry an MP3 voice recorder but this serves only as backup, the quality of recording in smartphones is so much higher.
Whenever I set up a phone, one of the first apps I install is a voice recorder. On Android, my favorite voice recording application is Easy Voice Recorder, which has a free version that more than meets my needs. On iOS, my favorite voice recording app is iTalk, which produces clear and great quality recordings.
Parrot is easy to use and the user interface is beautiful and minimal. It’s easy to use the app for recording.
I used Parrot in several interviews, including the Tell It To Sun.Star roundtable interview of defeated congressional candidate Annabelle Rama before the elections and the sound quality is really exceptional. Play the clip below to check it out for yourself. My phone was on the table about 2 feet away from Annabelle during the recording.
Parrot has a live graph of audio input to give you an idea of the sound levels so that you could adjust the placement of the phone.
Listen to this sample clip of the Annabelle Rama interview to check out the quality of Parrot’s recording.
The app is exclusive to the BlackBerry 10 platform.
Parrot also allows you to define the quality of your recording from Low (.awb files), Good (.m4a files) and High (.wav files). You can then copy the recording to the external memory card or share this via Bluetooth, email, BlackBerry Messenger or even NFC.
If you regularly do interviews or record voice memos whenever an idea occurs to you, Parrot on the BlackBerry 10 is an excellent free app for that.
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Brow.si is a free website add-on that enhances your mobile site by making it act a bit more native and increase engagement with readers.
When viewed on a mobile browser, a website that enables the brow.si add-on will have a flyout bar that contains buttons for saving the article via Pocket or Readability and sharing the article through e-mail or via Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. The bar also lets you control the font size of the site as well as subscribe to push notifications for updates via the brow.si app on the App Store.
In my tests with this blog and MyCebu.ph, the brow.si mobile flyout bar was very responsive and did feel like that of a native app.
But I encountered problems in connecting my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for the first time in order to share the articles. I clicked on share and chose a social network and was taken to the log in page to enter my username and password. After entering my credentials I just got a blank page. But when I went back to the article that I wanted to share, the flyout bar recognized that I was already logged into the social network I wanted to use and let me share the article.
Brow.si said they will be offering “really soon” mini-apps for the platform. They said in their site that website owners can either build their own mini-app for the platform or get one from their marketplace.
I think brow.si holds much promise because it bridges the on-going debate of site owners on whether to go the mobile Web approach or to build native apps.
I’m setting 30-day challenges this month. Today is day 1. The challenges I chose are meant to help me improve my writing and fitness:
- Run at least 5 kilometers every day
- Blog every day
To start the month, I just finished a 21K run today, my first long run for a long time. One thing I realized that I really missed in running is the meditative state you are in when running longer distances. I used to be able to think out and outline column pieces during long slow distance (LSD) runs. In my solo run tonight, I was able to come up with several ideas for new projects as well as improvements on current ones.
I’ve been able to run nightly for 13 straight days and I hope to keep that up for this month’s challenge.
It’s a challenge to find the time to run but I realized it’s something I need to make time for not only to improve my fitness but also my writing. I’m able to think better after a run. Ideas come out, without fail, in my nightly runs.
As with anything I do, I use tech as a crutch. RunKeeper allows me to keep track of my runs while Lift reminds me of habits I want to build or change and keep track of these. You cannot change what you cannot measure, someone at Lift wrote (I can no longer find that link).
I’ve also decided to resume blogging – really blogging and not just making this site a repository of my newspaper articles and column. By working to be able to blog everyday, I hope to sharpen my craft (writing coaches tell you the best way to improve your writing is to keep doing it) as well as discipline myself into writing regularly.
Day 1 is about to end, a whole month awaits.
Thirty days are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit,” Google engineer Matt Cutts said in his TED talk in 2011.
“If you really want something badly enough, you can do anything in 30 days,” he said.
By taking on his 30-day challenges, Cutts said he found that “instead of the months flying by, forgotten, the time was much more memorable.”
He also said that “small, sustainable changes” were more likely to stick.
I am slowly getting back to running and have, according to the app Lift, an 11-day streak in daily runs. RunKeeper logs my mileage this week so far at 26.8 kilometers – a walk on the block compared to the mileage I racked up running ultra-marathons some years back but a veritable ultra compared to the zero mileage of recent months.
One thing I realized after getting back to running was the
My getting-back-to-running goal is to run at least 5 kilometers a day. A tall order but one I’ve managed to keep for a week. To make a habit stick, my favorite productivity site Lifehack says you must do it daily.
“Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.” – Scott Young.
And with the free tools available in this age of the “quantified self,” tracking progress or regress is so much easier. My phone is a slave driver – it tells me every day to drink more water, run, blog more etc.
Today is the end of the month. Tomorrow, I plan to take on my first 30-day challenges. Apart from the daily 5K, I’m considering other health-, writing- or tech-related challenges. Spend more time with the family, travel more, stay away from fast-food, no more soda, eat less junk food, stop eating rice, blog daily, learn Git and consider moving to it from Subversion, interview people, build a mobile phone app, build an iPad magazine, write using Markdown, write a book, run another Linux distro, live “on the cloud,” learn another language, run another marathon, run another ultra, read my backlog of books, stay away from social networks, take a photo a day, learn a new word a day etc. These are some of the challenges that I want to take on. But which should I tackle first? I have the day to decide.
About ten years ago, I built a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) mobile news site. This was at a time when the cellphone to aspire for was the Nokia 7110, a slider phone made even cooler when a similar device was used in the Matrix movie.
At that time, the Sun.Star website signed a content agreement with Smart for SMS and WAP news and they needed a WAP mobile site. Nobody among the website staff then knew how to build a WAP site. Being a sucker for always trying to learn new stuff, I volunteered to build it.
I finished the WAP site in time for the launch after a 3-day development marathon done after I finished my work at the Sun.Star Cebu copy desk, fueled by more than a pack of Marlboro reds a day (I was still a heavy smoker then) and guided by a phonebook-thick Wireless Markup Language (WML) reference for the Artus Netgate.
Updating was by manual editing of codes but somebody later hacked a rudimentary content management system to simplify changing the content in the WML files.
Boy, was it ugly. I don’t know if people still recall browsing using WAP but the system was a limited, text-based interface to mobile information.
WAP sites were made of decks of WML cards. And since phones then did not have the memory spaces that we have now, the cards could only contain limited characters — enough for a headline and about 3 paragraphs of the article. You go through this deck of WML cards as you navigate the WAP site.
Here is a snippet of the main page of the site with a sample of 2 cards. What it did is flash the text “22 papers all over the country” and then “12 affiliates online” before opening the “Enter” screen where you could click to go to the menu of viewing news, events or movie skeds.
<!DOCTYPE wml PUBLIC “-//WAPFORUM//DTD WML 1.1//EN” “http://www.wapforum.org/DTD/wml_1.1.xml”>
<!– SUN-STAR WAP –>
<card id=”splash1″ ontimer=”#splash2″ title=”Sun.Star Network” newcontext=”false”>
<p align=”left” mode=”wrap”>
<b><big>22 papers all over the country</big></b><br/>
<card id=”splash2″ ontimer=”#splash3″ title=”Sun.Star Network” newcontext=”false”>
<p align=”left” mode=”wrap”>
<b><big>12 affiliates online</big></b><br/>
I was reminded of this card interface when I started studying last week to build mobile websites and HTML apps using JQuery Mobile.
JQuery Mobile allows you to build multi-page mobile sites or apps on a single HTML file by breaking it into “pages,” akin to the WML cards.
But the similarities end there. JQuery Mobile is so much more powerful and yet still simple to use for a non-programmer like me. I cannot code, not even if my life depended on it. What I can do is cobble together frameworks to build stuff that I need for my projects.
To study JQuery Mobile, I built a mobile Web app for the Sun.Star Cebu central newsroom.
I wanted to revive the newsroom’s Style Guide, which advises Sun.Star Cebu journalist on usage and style in writing. The documented is a bit dated, it was written back when the paper still preferred the shorter spelling of words and thus used “kidnaped” instead of “kidnapped.”
But I still find the document useful and wanted ready access to it. I already set up a newsroom wiki to host the style guide in our local intranet but I thought it would be much more useful if it could be turned into a mobile app that a Sun.Star journalist can consult on the field.
I went through the JQuery Mobile API documentation, which is available online and as an iPhone app, and built a mobile Web app for the Style Guide. After I finished the guide, I realized I could just expand the app to make it even more useful to Sun.Star Cebu journalists by including writing tips and embedding our Twitter timeline so everyone would know the latest updates of the official @sunstarcebu account.
It says a lot about the power and simplicity of JQuery Mobile that a non-programmer like me was able to build what I wanted built in less than a day. I’m now looking into turning it into a native Android, iOS and BlackBerry apps (crossing my fingers).
As a journalist who grew up and started working before I had access to the Internet, I am continually amazed by this empowering ability of Web technology.
Open source technologies like WordPress (which just celebrated its 10th year) and JQuery Mobile are empowering to independent community journalists like me (my InnoPub persona), who do not have access to a dedicated development team.With the world going mobile, frameworks like JQuery Mobile are such a big boost for startups and smaller companies.
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A free terabyte of storage. A thousand gigabytes. That’s how Flickr announced it was back in the photo hosting game.
Last week, Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer announced that the Internet pioneer is giving users of its photo sharing service Flickr a terabyte of free storage. That amount of free space boggles one’s mind.
To show it off, Flickr has a slider on its homepage that allows you to calculate how many photos you can store in your free allocation, depending on the resolution. If you store 8-megapixel pictures, the resolution of the iPhone 5, you could store up 436,906 photos.
‘Enough for a lifetime’
“That’s enough for a lifetime of photos — more than 500,000 original, full-resolution, pixel-perfect, brilliant photos. Flickr users will never have to worry about running out of space,” Mayer said in her post on Yahoo’s Tumblr, a platform that the company purchased at about the same time they announced the changes in Flickr, for over a billion dollars.
To put that free storage into context, the biggest free online storage I was able to sign up to is the 25 gigabytes I have with Box.net for signing up via an Android phone. A regular Box.net account offers only 5gb of free storage. Dropbox also offers 5gb of free storage with opportunities to increase it by inviting friends to use the service.
Reaction to the announcement is close to the response to when Gmail announced it was offering 1GB of storage to its free e-mail service on April 1, 2004. The announcement was made at a time when people had 2MB of storage for their free email accounts. But then years later, the other email providers also ramped up their storage. I think that would also happen in the photo storage service sector. Google, for example, already offers unlimited photo storage but only for standard size images of 2048 pixels at the longest edge. Here’s hoping they would remove that size limit.
Yahoo also announced a redesign of what had previously been an abandoned web property, adding the ability to share photos in full resolution and lifting the 200-photo limit imposed on the photostream of free members.
As soon as the announcement was made, I opened my Flickr account again after months of not visiting it. The most recent time that I reopened it was when Yahoo! released its Flickr app for the iPhone. I was given three months of Pro upgrade for free but was told that at the expiration, the 200-photo limit on the photostream would be imposed again.
Old Skool member
The Flickr of old is the poster child of what went wrong in Yahoo. The site was a trail-blazing service that had a strong following among its users. After it was bought by Yahoo, the service suffered.
I was part of the so-called “Old Skool” members, what the company called those who joined before it was purchased by Yahoo. I joined Flickr in August 2004 and used it not just for hosting personal photos but also those that I used in my blog.
Many bloggers also used Flickr for mobile posting because the service allowed you to automatically create a new photo post every time you email it an image for uploading.
But after years of stagnation, users left the service in favor of new sites and applications. For a time, I transferred to Zooomr, a similar service that was built by a teener out to prove that he could create a Flickr clone. That site, along with many of my photos, is now gone.
Sites like Instagram and Path then took over the photo sharing service while Flickr lay abandoned by Yahoo. Mayer referenced what happened to Flickr in her announcement of the purchase of Tumblr, “we promise not to screw it up.”
The Flickr of new is the poster child of a resurgent Yahoo.
When the company announced Mayer’s appointment last year, somebody spoke for the Flickr faithful by putting up a one-page site at dearmarissamayer.com asking her to make Flickr awesome again.
I think the site speaks for many of us when it now says: Dear Marissa Mayer, THANK YOU FOR MAKING flickr AWESOME AGAIN. ♥ the internet.