Witt's Twaddle

Shanghai Short Story

Posted in Fests, Food, Trips by Witt on June 19, 2010

The family celebrated the 34th wedding anniversary of our parents in Shanghai, China. Here’s a few snaps I took with my Motorola Milestone.

Not very pleasing experience here that I will not be divulging. The Consular Section is at the World Center, 330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City. Come early and take a number. Business hours begins at 9:00am. Requirements: New Visa Applicant – Completed application form, passport with a least six months validity, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if married), NBI clearance, bank certificate with OR and P50k show money. Previous Visa Holder – Completed application form and bring the old passport with the Chinese Visa.

Yes, they have flights to Shanghai. I think they just recently added Beijing to their new destinations. On time, maybe even earlier at times. Cheap. No food.

We arrived at Pudong International at around 11pm. Had some cash changed to Renminbi or Yuan (¥). They can also change your Peso, so you need not have to change it to USD ($) back home. Our chauffeur was there. It took us over an hour to get to our hotel. A series of skyways and flyovers. Simply spectacular. The moment we got out the van, cool breeze. Around 18-21 degrees Celsius. Very nice. Chun Shen Jiang Hotel is situated at East Nanjing Road in the heart of Huangpu District. Where everything is. Food, shopping, everything.

I suggested we eat something familiar for breakfasts so as not to upset our stomachs for the day. They try to be as environmentally sound as possible, no plastics or styrofoam here. No rice though, but they do have strawberry jams for pancakes and ground black pepper packets which I particularly liked.

When in Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower is a must see. Fastest elevators I’ve ever ridden. Don’t forget to check out the Sight-Seeing Deck. 360 degrees of clear walking glass.

Same taste.

The Shanghai World Expo opened on the 1st of May 2010 and will run until the 31st of October 2010. ¥160 for a standard day pass, ¥100 for seasoned citizens. Luckily, we have two. Security was tight. They even held me for some time due to the Starbucks Shanghai City Mug I bought for Abbie. Expo hours begin at 8am and closes at 10pm except for times when there are special activities which can go on until midnight. The park is massive, as in colossal. Like a small town with hundreds of thousands of people. It’s impossible to scan the whole park in one day that’s why they’re selling 3-day and 7-day passes at ¥400 and ¥900 respectively. We just breezed through some. There’s a number of electric cars which serve as free ride in the long “highway” of the park. The longest queue: USA Pavilion. It has three short movies for its presentation mostly themed on saving the environment. Of course, we definitely have to see the Philippine Pavilion but unfortunately it was just a so-so. As we entered, a male vocalist sings Freddie Aguilar’s Anak followed by a lady singing a “kundiman”, a Filipino serenade. Then followed by a DJ… a DJ?! WTF! The pavilion showed the immense influence our conquerors. There is “hilot”, a Filipino massage/therapy, of course with pay. And the only one with a restaurant inside. Filipino food at skyhigh prices. The only thing good about the Philippine Pavilion, Pinoys need not queue. Another thing I noticed, Filipino travelers are one of the snobbish bunch there is. Don’t be like one, smile back. Did I say the park was enormous?  Huge portalets. Food is everywhere. Expo goodies galore. Everything is 20-30% more expensive though. Tip: Wear you favorite, most comfy footwear.

Some of the best authentic dimsum I’ve tasted are found here at the Shanghai Tea Houses near the Yuyuan Garden, center of the Old City. My favorite, the “Soup Siopao”. You stick a straw in it and sip its juices, tastes like “balut” soup. Yum!

The nearby Yuyuan Shopping  City is the “Divisoria” of Shanghai. Haggle-fest! Sub-story: Dad and the rest of us had a miscommunication on where to meet up after an hour of shopping. Hence, we waited and searched for him for four hours. We even summoned the assistance of the police. Tin went on the PA system which was funny-cool. Later he claimed that we’re the ones who got lost 😀

Boxing Cat Brewery‘s Knockout Stout. Two of this and you’re done. Crazy soccer hooligans pack the place at the time of the World Cup mania. Located at the French Concession, 82 Fu Xing Road West (Near Yong Fu Road), Xu Jia Hui District.

Xintiandi is a small district in Shanghai where old China and new China meet. The best restaurants can be found here. One is XinJishi Restaurant located at Building 9, Xintiandi beili, No.2, Alley 181 Taichang Road. The tofu is my favorite.

The vacation would not be complete without a trip for the faith. St. Peter’s Church is situated at 270 Chongqing Nan Lu. English Mass at 5pm every Saturday and 12noon on Sundays.

Free. ‘Nuff said.

Before flying out, I had a bowl of beef ramen from Ajisen Ramen at Pudong International.

To end, Shanghai is a beautiful megacity. You cannot capture it using a Motorola Milestone. Do not be discouraged if the locals turn you away when you ask them for directions or what not, they just do not speak English. Shanghainese are kind, welcoming people. Would love to go back and have more fun.

7:52am, 19 June 2010.

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Master Google Android: 40 Tips and Tricks

Posted in Tech by Witt on March 21, 2010

The first time you use an Android phone, one thing becomes immediately clear: You’re not in Cupertino anymore.

Android, as recent Verizon commercials remind us, is the antithesis of Apple’s celebrated handset: It’s open source, fully customizable, and free from unexplained app rejections. If the iPhone is Apple’s inalterable masterpiece, the Android platform is Google’s open canvas. The palette is in your hands; it’s up to you to add color.

We’ve assembled 40 tips and tricks to help you make the most of your Android phone. Some are specific to Android 2.0 or later, but most apply to any Android-based device. And not one of these tricks requires you to jailbreak anything.

So grab your phone, and get started–it’s time for you to become a certified Android master.

Optimize Your Home Screen

Add to Home screen

1. Make the most of your space by using widgets–dynamic programs that operate right on your home screen. Simply hold your finger on any open space, and then select Widgets from the pop-up menu. Widgets come in a huge variety of sizes and functions, so search the Android Market to find what works for you.

2. Prefer not to be bothered by a sound every time an e-mail arrives? Head into Gmail’s Settings menu and set its ringtone to Silent. You’ll still see new-message alerts in the notification panel at the top of your screen, and you can always pull the panel down to get detailed information. You can configure text messaging and other alert-generating apps the same way.

3. Set up one-touch dialing for the people you call the most. Hold your finger on an open space and select Shortcuts. Then, touch Direct dial and pick the person from your contact list. If one-touch texting is what you crave, use the Direct message option instead.

4. To drop your favorite Web pages onto your home screen, long-press on any site in your browser’s bookmarks and then select the Add shortcut to home option.

5. Try using folders to keep your home screen organized. Long-press on a blank space and select Folders to create one. You can then drag and drop frequently used contacts, apps, or other shortcuts into it to cut down on clutter. To rename a folder, press and hold the folder’s title bar while it’s open.

Get Around Android

Astro

6. Make file management a snap with a utility such as Astro, which allows you to browse through your phone just as you would a computer, navigating directories and moving or deleting files at will.

7. Need to cut and paste text? Long-press on any text input area. If you’re on a Web page, tap the Menu key and use the Select text option.

8. Use Android’s hotkeys to do everything from zooming in to a Web page to opening a program. Check out our complete list of Android keyboard shortcuts to learn them all.

9. You can set your own hotkeys to open apps, too. Head into the main Settings menu, select Applications, and then choose Quick Launch to get started.

10. If the on-screen keyboard pops up when you don’t want it, touch it and swipe downward to make it disappear.

11. You can see the current date at any time by touching your finger to the top-left corner of the screen.

Stay Connected

12. To load files onto your Android phone, plug the handset into your PC and pull down the notification panel. Tap the USB connected box, and then tap Mount when the confirmation dialog box appears. Your phone will appear as a hard drive on your PC, and you can then drag and drop files as you wish.

13. Manage your music–and even import your iTunes playlists–with DoubleTwist, a free PC-based utility. The program’s intuitive interface makes Motorola’s Media Link offering look like a bloated relic.

Double Twist

14. Sync your Outlook calendar with your phone without the hassle. Install Google Calendar Sync and let it do the work for you.

15. To sync your Outlook contacts without using an Exchange server, try GO Contact Sync, an open-source utility for your PC.

16. Stay up to speed with your feeds with the help of NewsRob, a handy app that syncs your phone with your Google Reader account.

17. Want to have your PC’s browser bookmarks on your Android phone? Download MyBookmarks from the Market to import them.

Power Up Your Phone

18. Get extra calling power by integrating Google Voice into your phone. Once you’ve signed up for an account, download the official app and watch your options expand. Bonus tip: Add the Google Voice widget to your home screen for one-touch toggling of your outgoing-call preferences.

19. You can send text messages for free through Google Voice–everything you need is in the app. Just make sure you change the settings to refresh every 5 minutes so that incoming messages won’t be delayed. If you want faster notifications, log in to the Google Voice Website and configure your account to send you e-mail alerts when a new text arrives.

20. Get unbilled talk time by using Fring, a free mobile chat client for Android. Fring lets you make calls over Google Talk, Skype, and any SIP calling service.

21. Cut down on calling headaches by using the free Dial Zero app to call the companies you do business with. It lets you bypass annoying phone trees and get right to human representatives.

22. Keep annoying callers away by routing them directly to your voicemail. First, open the offending person’s profile in your contacts list. Then, press the Menu button, tap Options, and check the Incoming calls box.

23. The Incoming Calls screen also holds the option for setting custom ringtones for callers. Tap Ringtone and change each person’s tune as you wish.

Dolphin Browser

24. Want to use your own MP3 files as ringtones? No problem: Make a new folder on your memory card and name it ringtones. Copy your MP3s there, and they will automatically show up in your selection list. Folders called alarms or notifications will do the same thing for those respective functions.

25. Check out the free app RingDroid. With it, you can easily edit an MP3 file to grab a precise segment of a song for a ringtone or system sound.

26. Android lets you keep multiple browser windows open at the same time. Long-press any Web link to open it in a new window. Tap the Menu key while in the browser to toggle between windows.

27. Prefer seeing Web pages in landscape mode? You can tell Android to always display sites that way. Select the Landscape-only display checkbox in the browser’s Settings menu.

28. Android’s built-in browser isn’t your only option. Try Dolphin Browser for cool features such as tabbed browsing, gesture-driven commands, and multitouch zooming (yes, even on the Droid).

Secure Your Smartphone

29. Android includes an option to use simple patterns to secure your phone; to unlock the handset, you swipe your finger across the screen in a specific pattern. Look for Screen Unlock Pattern under ‘Location and Security’ in the main System Settings menu.

30. Want to back up your phone’s data? Try MyBackup, which saves your apps, contacts, call logs, texts, and even settings to either your SD Card or a secure Internet server. You might also like SMS Backup, which periodically saves all of your texts into your Gmail account.

31. For even more protection, download Mobile Defense. The app allows you to use a PC to track your phone via GPS, remotely lock it, and then back up and wipe all of your data.

Add Essential Apps

Adobe Photoshop Mobile

32. If you handle a lot of Office files, Documents To Go may be just the thing for you. The free version gives you the ability to view Word and Excel files. The full paid version adds editing capabilities, along with PDF and PowerPoint viewing options.

33. Prefer working in the cloud? Get your hands on GDocs or ThinkFree Mobile Office, both of which make it a cinch to connect with your Google Docs documents.

34. If basic note-taking is all you need, download a PC-synced notepad such as GDocs Notepad With Sync. It saves documents directly into your Google Docs account for easy access.

35. For on-the-go photo editing, Adobe’s Photoshop.com Mobile app is tough to beat–and it’s free, too.

36. Jazz up your Android music experience with TuneWiki, which automatically finds and scrolls lyrics next to your songs as they play. Plus, it gives you access to Internet radio streaming and some cool community-sharing features.

Customize Your Phone Completely

37. Adjust how your phone acts by using Locale. The app lets you set custom profiles for practically any circumstance–having your ringer shift to silent when you’re at work, for example, or making your screen glow brighter at night.

38. Take full advantage of your phone’s LED by installing Missed Call, which configures your phone’s light to flash specific colors when calls from certain people slip by.

39. Edit Android’s custom dictionary to include your name and other proper nouns. That way, they’ll pop up in the auto-complete list as you type. Look under Language and keyboard settings in System Settings to get started.

40. If you try an Android app and decide that you don’t like it, return it. The Android Market will give you a full refund for up to 24 hours after any purchase, provided that you haven’t tried to return the same app before.

Reblogged via JR Raphael for PCWorld.

7:56pm, 21 March 2010.

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The Milestone

Posted in Tech by Witt on March 13, 2010

It’s finally here! My new Motorola Milestone, fresh from Hong Kong.

Fortress of Tung Chung Mall

A couple of months ago, I asked my good friend, Dick, who’s a resident of HK to look around for iPhone 3GS prices for me. There is one place in HK where you can get unlocked iPhone 3GS, Fortress, the one-stop electronic superstore. iPhones were priced at HK$ 4,288 – 8GB, HK$ 5,388 – 16GB and HK$ 6,288 – 32GB respectively. With this in mind, I had my eyes set on the 16GB.

Come 6th of March, my friend went to Fortress at Tung Chung Mall finally get the iPhone 3GS. Bad news. All out of stock. The reason: a local carrier unveiled an über-low call & data plan. Hongkees swarmed the shop and grabbed all the iPhones they can get.

With quick thinking, I went for the Milestone. This was my third choice from my recent blog. The Nexus One was available online in Hong Kong, but I didn’t want to trouble my friend with all the fuzz. So Milestone it is. The good thing, it’s a steal! HK$ 4,680 for it’s specs and build, wow!

The Box

Open Sesame

The Goods

What’s in the box:

1. Motorola Milestone

2. Battery

3. USB Cable

4. Power Adapter

5. 8GB microSD card (already fitted in the Milestone)

6. 3.5mm Wired Stereo Headset

7. Software CD

8. User’s Manual

Time to explore the Android OS. Let the good times roll.

5:43pm, 13 March 2010.

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