Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Google In Quotes: The Power of Web Search in American Politics

Google has done it again. It has proven that 'web search' remains an integral core to a lot of issues - be it on the web or on the current political battlefield.

I live in a third world country often labelled as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Despite the vast ocean called the Pacific, I find the current race for the highest office in America very significant and very pivotal for our lives here.

Clearly, the Philippines, as do most countries in the world, to a certain extent rely on the spasmodic twitches of the American economy. From furniture exports to Business Process Outsourcing, the Philippines never seems to have shaken its image of the 'little brown brother/friend' of the Americans.

This makes American national politics and consequently American foreign and domestic policy crucial to our lives here in this archipelagic nation. Google, has once again proven to be a very effective tool in shaping our perceptions and hence, judgments on the issues at hand.

So while we watch you conduct this process called an election, we sip our coffee here while watching it live via cable or through the Internet.

Specific information however is the focal point of Google's vast capabilities and they have not been remiss in their duties in utilizing their vast resources to organize every bit of information available.

Google In Quotes, puts the contending presidentiables inside a controlled lab of highly advanced Social Science where every statement counts as a tipping force that could alter the scale in favor of the other. Simply put, this blog post is terribly written since it is 12:54 am here and I am no mood really to write. :)

Anyway, Google does a great job in staying relevant in all arenas of human life Google In Quotes proves this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

MiroTv: An Awesome Open Source Podcast and Video Player for Linux

I like to share awesome software and Miro is one of them. I've started using Miro for just about a month and I am generally very very very very happy with it. I found it by searching for 'podcast' in Synaptic.

I use it mainly as an iTunes free and open source alternative to download video podcasts.

Officially: www.getmiro.com

Miro can automatically download videos from RSS-based "channels", manage them and play them. The application is designed to mesh with other PCF products such as Video Bomb, a social tagging video website, and the Channel Channel, a TV guide for internet television.

Miro integrates an RSS aggregator, a BitTorrent client, and a media player (VLC media player under Windows, QuickTime under Mac OS X or Xine Media Player under Linux).

To get it, simply do this:

$ sudo apt-get install miro

Friday, October 17, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough - The Almighty GOOG Gets Going!

While the world trembles amidst this Global Financial Crunch, there are a few who weather the storm - aside from Lawyers and former bank CEOs. Among them is the web search giant Google. The saying that, "In Good Times People Want to Advertise, In Bad Times They MUST Advertise" holds true in the case of Google.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc. quarterly profit surpassed Wall Street forecasts, sending shares up more than 10 percent as the Internet search and advertising leader withstood deepening economic turmoil around the globe.
Web traffic and revenue growth were strong in all major parts of the world and searches were up for almost every industry using Google, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said.

From Reuters.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HowTo: Store and Synchronize Your Website Passwords via Foxmarks Extension on Firefox 3

So far so good. Rather than running another desktop app that will store my passwords in one convenient file, I discovered or innovated a way to store it well, more conveniently.

First, install Foxmarks for Firefox 3. Do not forget to sign up for a foxmarks account.

I literally have tons of bookmarks for all the web services I access and use on a daily basis. What I do is use the bookmark itself to store the password.


Then it would appear like this:

If you are concerned about other users peeking into your bookmarks, simply abbreviate the password to a code only you could understand. For example, if your password is unitednations abbreviate the bookmark clue to UN. Of course, that is just simplistic. The key is to use clues distinguishable only to you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shuttleworth on the Global Economic Crisis

It's interesting to know that Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, a billionaire tech genius is not only tech savvy - but an economic guru as well. Here is an excerpt of his analysis:

Mortgages are just the beginning.
At real rates of interest, with real expectations of a reasonable rate of return, many of the deals which have been done since 2003 just do not make economic sense. Thus far, the spotlight has been on one piece of that problem - bad mortgage loans - but I think we’ll see the problem areas expanding rapidly to include a lot of the private equity deals which were done on the basis of free money between 2003-2007. I remember a fatuous statement by some private equity genius that “everybody’s rushing to do the first $100bn deal”. Well, the chickens are coming home to roost. Expect a steady flood of announcements of setbacks, restructurings and bankruptcies as companies that were bought with borrowed money turn out to be unable to service their debt.

More here: http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/220

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Dynamics of the BPO Industry in Third World Countries in the Midst of a Global Financial Crisis

Having worked in a call center back in 2005, I somehow had an inkling that BPOs would be here in the Philippines at least until such time that the companies which are streamlining their operations find a more suitable venue to exploit cheap labor.

These BPOs created an artificial labor utopia here in the Philippines because their operations here in the Philippines are brought about by the streamlining and outsourcing of some business processes from their clients abroad.

I describe them as artifical labor utopias because the moment you step in the offices of a call center - you would immediately feel as if you were transported to another part of the planet - to the US to be precise. "Beam me up to New York Scottie!".

The language, the atmosphere, the attitude and of course the nature of the work being done all attest to this artificial environment.

As a pragmatic and hands on person, I feel that work that produces no tangible product - is the lowest among my hierarchy of works. It is a fact that most BPOs here in the Philippines are mainly service oriented industries. This puts BPOs in the Philippines on unstable ground as demand for non specialized services are the most fickle of creatures. BPOs and call centers in general - do not produce anything.

While value may be assigned to service, the type of service that is mostly catered to by BPOs here are mainly the more repetitive chores that the lazy first world "executives" tend to shun. They even outsource making power point presentations here.

I have tons of email from Jobstreet.com all offering jobs for "Collections Associates" "Credit Anaylsts" and so on and so forth. Banks such as J.P. Morgan, HSBC are among the biggest players in the BPO industry here in the Phillipines.

Basically, these jobs are preliminary efforts to collect from bad debtors. I am guessing here when I say that - Filipinos working in call centers catering to banks are tasked with the initial step in collections - making the call to the debtor who have defaulted in his or her mortgage or credit card payments.

With subprime mortgages encouraged by the US government, American banks created the real estate bubble when they allowed unqualified borrowers to avail of home loans even if they do not provide the necessary documents which would prove their capacity to pay. After all - that is part of the American Dream - to own a piece of America.

This bad credit practice led to many borrowers defaulting on mortgage payments giving rise to real estate creatures such as Bo Sanchez who prey on people who face foreclosures and pretend to be the knight in shining armor that would save them - for a profit.

As more borrowers were unable to pay back their loans - more homes faced foreclosure and there was a sudden spike in the number of houses in the US market. Couple that with a slowing demand and you have a dearth of bad debt to collect.

To collect these debts - banks in the US would need a whole army of collectors to collect. Hence, the job called "Collections Associate" was born. Legions of these CAs cost too much - the natural solution then was to find cheap labor who could work the phone from far away countries such as the Philippines and India, to call Mr. and Mrs. John Doe to say, "Good Morning, America - please pay your house loan."

Some of the more repetitive tasks are outsourced to third world crisis where labor was cheap and English was understandable.

Now, with the financial collapse at hand, banks faced mergers, acquisitions and some - government takeovers. The internal dynamics of their organizational structure would be affected down to its very core. CEOs will resign, upper management reshuffled or completely replaced and the lowest of all peons - the outsourced employee finds himself in limbo. Upper management would have to decide whether their third world collectors are still necessary.

Speaking contemplatively, this could either go two ways - either the BPOs would be strengthened or they would face imminent lack of use. Certainly their use would be debated by the new board but ultimately the most important factor would be the cost to benefit ratio. "Are our offshore working assistants generating value for our company?" is a question that is probably on the minds of the new upper management.

If indeed the situation goes mostly towards the reconsolidation of their workforces: I would suggest to the call center agent now to take a moment or two to think about these questions, "What value do I give the parent company? Does it generate revenue?"

The BPO sector here in the Philippines, while not the most dominant sector but most definitely a steady dollar earner, would then find themselves at a great bind when they couldn't get more accounts after their engagement contracts with the American companies have expired.

The problem really is that the skills developed by call center agents are mostly business skills that are more likely to be applied in the country of origin of their parent companies. Do not give me that globalization crap. If these kids lose their jobs in the BPO industry - they wouldn't find any local company here in need of "Phone Credit Collectors". All they will find are Shoe Mart sales clerks, fastfood crews and highly specialized fields such as industrial engineering, legal, manufacturing, and so.

The unemployment rate will balloon to disproportionate proportions and 30 year olds will suddenly find themselves in schools for Nursing.

Seriously speaking, production, manufacturing and agricultural sectors - even if they are abroad - should be the focus of the rallying point for our economic recovery. The Philippines lack rice farmers and rice, as proven by the recent rice shortage crisis.

It is time to go back to our roots as an agricultural nation while still retaining and nurturing the possibilities that technology related industries can offer us. Our leaders were - starting from Fidel V. Ramos were dead wrong when they shifted development to technology and service.

Now the world's population is booming, resources are getting scarce, food and water will be in constant demand - who needs websites if you cannot feed people? We cannot rely on food imports - that is the most ridiculous thing that our leaders have done. So so so short sighted. Now, we import food products from China, Australia, and our South East Asian neighbors. We are practically begging them to export more rice to us.

See where that has brought us - melamine in our baby milk, rice shortages and for the love of Jesus Christ our Savior - agricultural related scams such as fertilizer scams.

I am not alone in making this assertion and chances are our leaders are too comfy planning about their next vacation to the United States to listen to people like me while millions of our Filipino workers are getting exploited, ridiculed and abused here and abroad just to bring the dollar home. 

Disclaimer: Most of the things I have written here are my opinions based on what I have read from CNN (World Financial Crisis) and PinoyPress (BPOs)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Baby Has a Boo Boo

It's 12:02 AM October 8, 2008 here sitting in front of my computer, fighting the urge to smoke since I already have the colds. I am writing out of sadness and despair. Despair because I have come to the conclusion that the world is crazy. If that is the case and if I apply Ubuntu's existential paradigm then we could say that "I am crazy because the whole world is crazy." Because the word "Ubuntu" means "I am who I am because of who we all are."

I am going to smoke.. It's my right to smoke outside of our house.

Or not. For a minute there I actually had my cigs from my drawer and walked outside the room with one stick. I can't find my tsinelas ergo I cannot go out. Besides I feel that my lungs have enough water because of condensation brought about by jogging and then riding a tricycle. My chest got dried up because tricycles by nature are poorly designed from an aerodynamic point of view. It was designed to have as much friction with air as possible.

Why I am still awake is a product of my affection for coffee and a messed up biological clock. I sleep at noon.

Jun is doing his best to get the Linux/FOSS hype going but everybody else is just too fatigued or simply bored.

"Wine releases version 1.1.1 from 1.1.0"

Whoopdee fscking doo.

"Ubuntu has a new theme that doesn't look like shit."

Ummm. Great.

"There is now wifi for Ubuntu"

With stuff like this on digg, slashdot or whatever - even my children's books are beginning to sound very exciting. In fact one is so exciting I actually memorized the whole damn book - not by choice. It just happened.

"Baby Has a Boo Boo"
Baby is in the backyard
Running all around.
Uh oh, oh no! Baby falls down.
Baby has a boo boo,
What does baby say?
"Boohoo Boohoo make it go away!"
Baby cries for Mama,
What does mama see?
A bump on baby's forehead,
A cut on baby's knee.
Put on a bandaid,
Put on some ice.
Mama kiss my booboo!
Make it feel nice!
Baby's feeling better.
Off he goes to play
But if he gets another booboo,
This is what he will say,


Wednesday, October 01, 2008