Friday, October 28, 2011

Buying Cheap Computers in the Philippines

Notorious cheap gadget geeks like yours truly buy only the cheapest gadgets in town or on the Internet.

Granted, that my PC absolutely needs replacing since this was really my dad's (circa 2006), I must say that I sometimes suffer from PC envy. As a result of my inherent cheapness, I can only play browser games and old DOS games that I play on DOSBox.

So I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want:

The Dell Alienware Ultra Mega Super Desktop

Which is a rather unfortunate choice since I only alloted $150 (5000 PHP) for my "NEW PC Budget". The beast above will suit every single bit of my passions and probably increase my productivity by negative 50% despite the performance upgrade. 

Why? Because I'll sure as heck only play those fancy schmancy games like the new Fallout or that Crysis thing. (They really should learn how to spell "crisis" you know).

The Games That I Want:

Crysis and Fallout 3

Games That I Play

Master of Magic

Try it, this is really fun, you get to watch pixels fly from one part of the screen and then smush other pixels to the other part of the screen.

Wait aren't you the guy who just won $1,000 dollars on Prizes.org?
Yep, indeed. I've imposed a 2 week think-it-through-you-dummy program on myself so I basically tucked the money just beside my 1 and a half foot long short sword - (haha!)

No really, even if I had the money physically with me right now, I wouldn't blow it all on just one thing no matter how much my heart is bleeding for a very fast computer. I am more intent on turning that $1,000 into something like $2,000. But as of this moment, the ideas elude me.

Win-Win Solution 
I'm a win-win solution type of guy. Basically, I'm thinking of putting up another micro business for the indigents in the neighborhood in the form of a mini micro Internet cafe/student center. I'll be giving away the spare PC that we have while I can use the "new" one.

In this way, the new owner of our spare PC will get to have a small Internet cafe business where people could pay 30 PHP to 50 PHP (roughly $1 an hour) and at the same time contribute to education.

Buying Cheap Computers in the Philippines
So, now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to actually look for a computer. My first stop is a store in Robinson's Lipa called Max Saver. (I don't have any relation with the business, except that I once bought an LED monitor there.)

There's very little way to accurately measure the performance of the machines since they provide very little information. But on first sight, their prices are really low!

Looking at this now, I can only laugh. I remember 5 years ago, when I wanted to buy a Pentium 4 PC and thought that it was the world. Back then I had to settle for the office computers in my dad's office which are mostly Celeron's. 

To my old PCs credit though, this old baby was the old PC that helped me win that international video competition so I'm not one to complain even with 512 MB of RAM. You can only imagine me editing videos for hours and hours on end using a slow machine. It was a mixture of pleasure and pain but the good thing is it did it's job and it did it's job well. 

Why Buying Computers Suck
I spent the whole day researching and researching about performance and cost. To my consternation, the way that PCs are sold both online and offline are vastly superficially misrepresented. 

It used be as easy as this:
  • Slow PC, 1 Ghz xRAM
  • Fast PC, 2 Ghz xRAM
  • Faster PC, 3 Ghz xRAM

Now, you'd have to do a lot of research on whether a Dual Core PC is faster than a Core2 Duo PC. Gahhhhh!!!

Thankfully, I've found some very useful tools to compare the performance of PCs. So far, the best that I've found and I really do recommend their website is CPUBenchmark.net. What they did, was that they provided a scoring system for the CPUs in one page so you can just do a CTRL+F to look for the model and compare its price and performance using a scoring system. 

Clicking here will take you to cpubenchmark.net
Why are really useful websites ugly? I don't know...

Using Cpubenchmark.net I can somehow gauge the performance and capabilities of a particular processor using their Passmark CPU Mark and Rank. So far, this is the only website I've seen that provides this kind of in-depth comparison. Now, if they only made their site look better then we have a winner! 

Popular computer stores/websites in the Philippines  
From the top of my head, there are only a handful of computer stores that I can spell and name without a blink. 
  1. Pccorner.com.ph - PC Corner (New computers)
  2. Pcx.com.ph - PC Express (New computers)
  3. TipidPc.com - Tipid PC (Old and new)
  4. OpenPinoy.com - Korean owned (Old computers)
  5. Sulit.com.ph - (Misc + Old computers)

But still, the way they presented their computers seems to be more inclined towards marketing rather than providing possible customers with the exact information that they need. 

I used to be technically inclined to learn all about the nuts and bolts and innards of a PC, but now time is more precious in that I wouldn't have to research about every single performance detail of a component. 

Startup Idea
I haven't seen exactly what I want, but this is my idea of a new startup that would help people buy computers and other gadgets later on. 

Basically, the website will get performance information from sites like CPUBenchmark.net. Then it will get the current performance of the PC that is currently being used. So, for instance, when I checked the Passmark CPU of my particular processor (Celeron 2.0 Ghz), I discovered that it was scored as:


I then searched (via CTRL+F) for the CPU's that are being sold on Max Saver, here are the results:

Pentium 4 2.0 - 247
Pentium 4 2.4 314
Pentium 4 2.8 416
Core Duo T2350 1.86 850
Core Duo T2300 1.66 791
Core2 Duo 1.8 e4300 1056
Core2 Duo 1.8 l7700 1071

I know that it doesn't mean that since my Celeron processor has a score of 233 means that a Core2 Duo 1.8 L7700 will perform 3 times better, but it does give me a rough idea - a "guesstimate" if you will, which makes it easier to decide and makes the whole thing more pleasurable. 

Anyway, if you're a programmer and you think you can do this, I would make the interface of the website like this:

Well, not exactly like this, it still looks cluttered. But you get my drift. Buying a PC should be as easy as this game where I got the inspiration from: http://playspent.org/ 

So rather than researching for hours and hours on end, I could just answer a series of questions, which would help me choose the computer I want, for the price I want, for the performance I want and for how far it is too me. 

Just like a game. Anyway, I'm not a programmer and the idea is still very rough but this is how I would like to buy a PC. No frills just simplified information for people who are too busy to find out whether a Core 2 Duo is faster than a Dual Core. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Won Again! Thank You! Thank You!

Again, thank you to all who helped me win the contest:)

I am running out of words to express my profound appreciation to all of you who helped me. After all, Danny + buntu/ ubuntu means Danny is who he is because of who we all are.

In this way, we are all winners.

I have a great idea on how I can give back to society in a fun way. So for all of my readers who are avid prizes.org fans, please ready your singing voice! We are going to make a mini singing contest pretty soon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Won $1,000 + Video on Flipping

Danny on Google+
  • How I Won $1,000 Dollars on Prizes.org
  • My Online Dreams and Starting From Nothing
  • Video: Buying and Selling Websites on Flippa.com
I was waiting for my wife to watch 'Friends' with her while our kids played with their raggedy dolls in the house. The cool air of Batangas province wafted through my nostrils as I patiently thought about the future and what it holds for me, my 4 kids and my pregnant wife. 

Out of the natural tendency to check my email every now and then, I decided to sit down and click on the gmail icon. The familiar blue status bar slowly inched its way to 100 percent and I rearranged some stuff on my table as I normally did if I didn't have anything else to do. 

I haven't checked my email for 1 day, so the inbox had about 50 unread messages - mostly people selling something or asking me to do this or that. 

Then I found it. (I kept the email and starred it)

Without saying anything, I patiently walked towards my wife and I told her, "I love you". I hugged her and I felt some moist warmth coming out of my eyes. I kneeled with my hands down on the floor and just stayed there, just saying "Thank you, thank you and thank you.

For me, the ground that I'm standing on, reminded me of the times when I had no money. The warmth of the wooden floor made me understand that. I needed to remind myself how difficult it was to reach this point. I knew that one single misstep could bring me back down to having nothing and being nothing. Money is tremendously hard to earn but it was infinitely easier to spend. 

My Online Dreams and Starting from Nothing
My online dream is simple and that's to make a legitimate online business thrive through content and services.  I wanted to take on the giant Demand Media. When I first started this blog on http://dannybuntu.blogspot.com, I had wild dreams of being a dot com mogul as Mark Zuckerberg or Sergey Brin but with a slight twist, I only had my ability to write and to follow instructions. I am not a programmer.

I wrote everyday with very little rest and made quite a living out of it. But then, I knew that I couldn't go on like this forever. I needed to find that elusive making money online formula that seemed to have gotten lost among wads and wads of blogs and opportunists who have no intent but to mislead. I had to manually test every single avenue and possibility to ferret out the truth. 

The first major break was also the first stumbling block. I was supposed to get my Adsense check on the first of October. It was the product of 4 years of blogging with no income. You can only imagine how painful that felt at the time. 

But then I moved on. At the very least, it validated what I was doing. Knowing that I had the ability to reach that point gave me the impetus to find out how to minimize the amount of time to replicate it. 

Dividing Time Between Real World Business and Online Business
Moreover, one of the challenges of running extremely streamlined businesses is time. I simply had to do most things on my own. I had to learn everything I needed to do in a shorter time frame and I needed focus. There's a limit to how much I can multitask. Sometimes, real world business gets in the way and I have to physically leave the zone to handle matters. It's difficult and I am getting tired. 

The Road Ahead
My short term goal is modest - to earn at least $10 a day in adsense revenue. After that, $50. Ultimately, a $150 daily revenue stream would be sufficient to cover the costs needed for the next big step.

I came from the dirt road, and now I am on the pavement. The next step would be to move on to the expressway. There are still a lot of loose ends and lot of inefficiencies in my process but hopefully with the money that I won, I would be able to get some help to optimize my already boot strapped operations. 

Giving Thanks
I am very thankful for all the people who have helped me specially my sister and Lovedy, my sister-in-law who is an excellent writer. 

  • I am thankful to Nist, the person who held the contest on prizes.org. 
  • I am thankful to the actors that I hired. 
  • I am thankful to everyone who voted and believed.   
  • I am thankful to God for giving me the ability to win. 

Video of John Chow, Zac Johnson, Tyler and Steve Re: Flippa
If you are a person like me, then you would most likely agree with my principle of reinvesting 75% of earnings derived from online sources to endeavors that would also generate income. One of the things that I am studying intently is website flipping. Here, you can buy websites or blogs that are already generating money for a certain amount.

Though I have still have some reservations, I think that the video below is very instructional and informative.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My First Amazon Affiliate Sale

Danny on Google+

A few years ago, someone on Ubuntu forums introduced to me the concept of affiliate marketing, back then I was an Ubuntu newbie who didn't really know anything about affiliate marketing or Ubuntu for that matter.

Fast forward to today and I still don't know that much about Ubuntu, but have at least made my first affiliate sale from Amazon.

The book that I sold was one that had a very powerful message that I haven't even read. In all honesty, I don't even have a clue on which particular post I put the affiliate link in, since I've been using Amazon Associates sometimes as a free picture repository where I use the pictures of products that are for sale rather than just get from images the Internet.

I find it heartening that the first item that I ever sold online is a book of encouragement and about winning. Who dares wins, I like the sound of that. :) To whoever bought the book from me, thank you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hollywood Sign Taal Batangas

An Open Letter to Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, 

Dear Gov. Ate V,

First of all, I'm a big fan. As a Lipeno who lives 30 minutes away from this volcano, I think you've done the city of Lipa a lot of good. I used to think that showbiz people really don't belong in politics, but you've changed my mind. Honestly.

Please don't make me change my mind again

I saw this picture on the Inquirer and I can't help but scratch my head and think that it was a bad joke.

Wow! Pangit!

Apparently it wasn't (Inquirer, 2011):

"He said the proposed sign would be painted white and positioned following the contours of the island volcano. The letters would be 14 meters tall and stretch for about 110 meters.
The font would be similar to that of the iconic Hollywood signage, the official added.
“It is not an out-of-this-world concept. It’s a simple development which can easily attract attention and even visitors to the area,” Leviste said."

Come again?!
If there would be any visitors to this volcano, I can guarantee you that they would probably go there just to pray that the volcano erupts so that the sign would be destroyed.

Seriously. What if it looked like this?

"Masasaktan po ba ang pride natin?"

As a small resort owner who lives nearby, while I will agree that Batangas definitely needs a lot of support when it comes to domestic tourism, this one is in particular bad taste. Very bad.

Ok fine, I used to think to that Taal was part of Tagaytay, but now that I know that it's part of Batangas, it doesn't change a thing! They still have the view and the posh restaurants - we have the volcano mud that's good for planting.

Putting the sign up is just like Batangas saying to Tagaytay "Umpf, up yours!"

Best Way to Support Domestic Tourism in Batangas
While money would definitely be welcome, I think Batangas would be better off if it totally stops overfishing in the lake and instead replace it with water oriented recreational activities aside from the traditional banca.

Gov. masarap siguro mag jet ski diyan ng medyo affordable naman ang cost para sa lahat.

Or, floating restaurants. Or a large wildlife sanctuary nearby.

I guarantee that when the good folks see a themed and environmentally friendly tourist hub on the lake or near it, the good folks in Tagaytay would definitely want to come down and join the fun themselves. Win win situation di ba?

So please, scrap this silliness.


A Lipeno Ate V Supporter.


Dear Reader, do you want to win $10? All you have to do is Say "Yes" or "No" in a contest I've made on Prizes.org. Click here!

Read About the Legend of Taal Volcano, Alamat ng Taal

Danny on Google+

Friday, October 14, 2011

My War Against Smoking

Danny on Google+

Photo Credit: Vieran2001

Every day I wake up is an endless war waged against smoking. I lose these perpetual battles against myself most of the time. This time around, it has reached a most critical phase in my life. I have to win these small battles or else lose everything.

For those who have following this blog, you know that I've been trying to quit for a very long time. It has been 10 months now since I started this battle and it's not over yet. This campaign against smoking is real. The stakes are higher and the prospects dimmer.

Now, it's about willfully stopping myself from smoking or my body itself stopping me.

I am in that stage when my organs are starting a revolution against my body and my mind.

It's only a matter of weeks or months before that revolution is won.

The Mind is a Curious Thing

Sometimes I feel as if I have two minds. One that knows that I should stop and is noisy about it and the other who keeps silent. The silent mind injects its poison subtly without the knowledge of the former. It works like the CIA. Instigating small pockets of revolt one cell at a time.

Absence is far more difficult to deal with than presence.

With any type of absence there's always that painful longing that keeps the mind aware.

Awareness is Torturous. 

It's like a fragmentation missile that hits you in many places at once. You become aware not only of the things that you need to be aware of, but also of the ones that you have placed at the back of your mind for retrieval.

One day of ceasing, results in this bombardment of the senses. It's like seeing that tsunami of fears, desires, wants and caprices all coming for you.

In your fear, you reach out for something that can soothe this pain inside.

Smoking banishes that tsunami and dissipates that wall of fear in the smoke that one blows out. With this, every thing becomes "ok" in a perverted sense of the word. The mind becomes clouded.