Sunday, September 20, 2009

Completing a Puzzle

I'm extremely mad right now because I've already finished this blog. However, I used my phone in making it and unfortunately, the draft wasn't saved. So my four paragraphs has gone down the drain. Thank you, SKYFIRE!!!

As the title implies, I have completed a 1000 piece puzzle. After more than two weeks of head aches and brain drains, the Brunch- Flower Art puzzle (as of 3:20 p.m. yesterday).

I won't be adding much in the mean time. I just wanted to take into account this accomplishment.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Hunting Must Stop: Manga Books

A week ago we were at SM Marikina to hunt for a book my sister was dying to buy. Unfortunately to her dismay, it was out of stock. She was looking for Thirst 2 by Christopher Pike. It had gone "out-of-stock" during this time. We've actually read these books in the past (when they were still individually binded and not compiled 3 at a time), but it felt somewhat better to own one.

While I and my nieces were browsing through the 50% off priced books. We came to stumble upon tons of manga at 39.50 php only. I skimmed through them for good titles and was able to decide on purchasing Tokyopop: Confidential Confessions 4. I'm glad I did, it had good content in it. It's a series of stories about the some situations teenagers nowadays get into such as bullying, sexual compensation and even homosexual relationships (It was rated OT short for Older Teen due to its mature content.).

Due to my "life-changing" UBER wonderful experience in reading that manga, I couldn't resist finding the other volumes of the series. I searched through 3 more National Bookstores to find that particular manga but couldn't find any. During which, I found other great titles that I started to grab and pay for in the counter.

The fevered search did not stop here. Two days later, I once again went to search for more manga in other branches- bought one here, bought three there. It didn't matter that my feet were killing me or that there were instances that it got really cold due the air conditioning- not to mention the heavy pouring rain. I just had to get all the good ones (Didn't matter if it were only one volume per title).

Yesterday, I went to two more malls with three National Bookstores in them. I couldn't resist fishing out my wallet upon finding more manga titles which I had not found in the other 7 branches I went to. It felt like finding diamonds in a gold mine.

Doing the National Bookstore pseudo manga hoard wasn't enough for me to be contented. I had to buy one of the expensive ones in Book Sale to get the third volume of Dream Saga. It was four times more expensive than the regular 50% off ones I get from National Bookstore. But hey, at least I got what I wanted.

By the end of the day, I was limping due to the long walks from mall to mall. To top it off, there was this commotion in SM North Edsa that made it very crowded. Before we were able to reach the MRT, my boyfriend and I decided to do a detour at the taxi bay. For those who aren't aware of it yet, some taxis already have the pretty meter which gives out receipts.

Moral of this article: None. I guess I just wanted to remember the feeling when I used to go book hunting alone for 4 to 5 hours every weekend.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The EBAY Experience: Pros, Cons and some Tips in Buying and Selling

Buying and bidding in Ebay has always been something I enjoy more than shopping. Shopping online would require me to have a credit card and I don't have one. Shopping in malls makes me tired (I just love staying at home and waiting for my packages to arrive).

I'm not sure why, but I have this certain affinity for used goods. I believe my logic in purchasing preloved items is that you're getting the same goods at a cheaper price (usually 50 to 75% lower than the original).

To match my preloved phone, I also purchased a not-so-new headset. Upon receiving the item, I did the usual inspection and mentally branded it with a QC(quality checked) stamp of satisfaction. Now, I got a new trinket to add to my gadget accessories collection.

Here are some things to consider when purchasing an item through EBAY. I've experienced alot of good and bad things in EBAY. I've met buyers and sellers from different places through it, some even became good friends of mine.

Note: The things I'm going to talk about will mostly apply to the Philippine setting.

1. There's an 80% chance you could stumble upon good merchandise at great prices.
2. Items are delivered to your doorstep after a day or 2 (maximum of 3) once payment is confirmed.
3. There's such a thing as trusted buyers and sellers. Once I've bought a touch screen PDA phone from a seller I've previously done business with. Upon winning the bidding, I had requested for him to send the item that afternoon because that was the time I would pay for it. I unable to pay it on time, but he still had the item dispatched as scheduled.
4. It's not that hard to spot a legit seller. Their feedback system is a big help, but you have to be cautious about purchasing expensive items from sellers with less than 10 feedbacks.
5. Need a blast from the past, check EBAY's vintage items. You may find what you're looking for.

1. ALOT of bogus sellers. Their filtering system is not perfect. I've read about stories of sellers who threaten winning bidders that they wouldn't send the item if the buyer won't give them positive feedback. Worst case scenario when these sellers don't send the item at all.

I have two awful experiences with bogus sellers. The first was someone I placed my trust on because his mode of payment was through a bank account. Who would've thought that exposing his real name and bank account was perfectly fine for him just to con people? After not sending the item, I reported him to his bank authorities- just to know I wasn't the only person he had done it to. Anyway, it was a good thing that I had reported this incident. His name is now posted in that bank and his account got frozen because they were setting him up.

The second was awful. This person was very cunning, smart and patient enough to be able to trick alot of ebayers. What he did was gain credibility through the feedback system. He bought items from sellers with very high feedback scores. After awhile, he sold a gadget to a person with high feedback as well. This person commended him because he was a good seller. One way a seller can secure his/her item's pictures and prove that he/she has this certain item was to place their EBAY user name on the merchandise. This is what he did. After paying up, I waited for the item but it never came. I even tried to warn the winning bidder but I was too late. They had also paid for an item that would never arrive. Upon investigation, I was shocked to discover that he was able to trick 3 more people in purchasing this particular gadget.

2. Pictures sometimes aren't sufficient enough for us to be able to decide if the item is worth purchasing.
3. Some item descriptions are just candy coated from the ugly truth.
4. No warranty for used stuff. If a warranty is placed on the item, shipping becomes costly once it has unexpected defects.
5. Pay now, ship later. Although Paypal is a good alternative, even their systems aren't perfect. And you also need to have a credit card to use it. I've heard that you can also use a bank account so I tried that but I wasn't successful in enrolling it.
6. Once the item is dispatched, the seller will no longer be responsible for the item's condition. If it got broken during shipping, sellers aren't liable for it unless an insurance fee was paid prior to dispatch.
7. Ebay no longer allows sellers to give negative feedbacks for bogus buyers or joy bidders.

1. If the price is too good to be true e.g. way cheaper than the usual prices of similar items then double check the seller's credibility. Check his/her feedbacks. Or you could try to contact the people they had transacted with. Most ebayers are kind enough to give you some information about their experiences about your seller.
2. Be cautious in doing wireless transfers. Do not fall for the typical "Payment Mode: GCASH/ SMART MONEY/ LBC/ WESTERN UNION/ ML KWARTA PADALA ONLY...If you do not agree to my terms and conditions do not bid." statement on sellers with low feedback scores.
3. Get to know your seller and more about the item you wish to purchase. Make sure that you know what you bid on. Used means used. Do not expect it to be in mint condition or brand new looking unless stated.
4. Be aware of the seller's shipping rate. Some may have very cheap items but unreasonable shipping fees.
5. Upon the package's arrival, double check its contents. Sometimes the problem will not lie on the seller but the courier service itself.
6. Respect the seller's terms. If it says "No Haggling." then don't. However, if you really are desperate to obtain an item, send the seller a message of your price offer and ask him or her to contact you if he/she is interested in accepting the offer. No Message- Not Interested. Message- Read it First!
6. For newbies in ebay, if the seller requests for specific information as to express your intent of buying, comply with it
6. Give honest feedbacks.

1. Make sure to give the exact item description. Do not hide the item's defects or physical issues (such as scratches, dents, fading, etc) because eventually, the winning bidder will contact you like hell if he/she discovers these unmentioned information.
2. Never forget to place your terms and conditions such as having the right to terminate the auction early, payment and shipping, or responsibility/liability scopes.
3. Give the winning bidders some time respond to you. There are instances that they may be busy or have important events to attend to. For them to not respond/reply through text message or accept your calls within 4 or 5 hours after you've contacted them doesn't mean that they are no longer interested in paying for what they won.
4. As much as possible, give the buyer different modes of payment available such as wireless transfer, bank transfer, COD, etc.
5. For expensive items, make reasonable meet-ups possible.

There's alot more to learn... just be careful and not too hasty on deciding.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gadgets Galore: Hacking Eseries

If there be an office supply addict blogger, then why not a gadget addict. I love gadgets. I love spending on them and taking care of them like babies. I'm not the type of person who prefers brand new ones. I settle for second hand before of which I purchase I do a thorough inspection of first. Of course, not all of them are second hand.

My resume for gadget lust currently include an HP laptop, a Samsung dual sim phone, a Nokia PDA phone, a JVC Camcorder, a desktop computer, an mp3 player and a Gameboy Advance SP (since we lost the PSP). Previously I've also owned a Nokia 6630, a Palm Tungsten 3 PDA, a Motorola A1000 touchscreen phone, three dual-sim china phones, an 02 XDA Stealth, PS 1 and 2 (I'm unsure if those are gadgets), an mp3 player and an annual cellular phone replacement plan (I love having my phone replaced every year.)

It'd be rude if I wouldn't pamper these things, so I do my best to install the best firmwares, upgrades, programs, games, movies and mp3s to the majority of them. I used to love the challenge of fixing series 60 phones. I did troubleshooting, reformatting, virus removals (Remember the commwarrior?), and the likes for a minimal price of a thank you or an I.O.U note (In other words, I do it for FREE.).

Right now, what I want to talk about is my not-so-new E61 phone. A couple of weeks ago, I had another of those gadget-cravings I get almost in a monthly basis and I wasn't able to resist it. I had to get a new one (be it used or pre-loved as they say it to make it sound more sophisticated). Anyway, I was really lucky because I got it at a very good price @ 4300 php and later discovered that it actually came from a post paid plan which made it even better. So far, it's working like a charm.

So I got all excited about placing a lot of games in it. After browsing a certain website and downloading some games I wanted to try out, I installed them instantly. Everything went okay until I started searching for applications such as an antivirus, an office and a movie player. While I was searching, I noticed that most of the applications had the word UNSIGNED attached to it. Still, I downloaded them (assuming that installation was the same as for any regular series 60 phones). Unfortunately when I attempted installing them, it gave out a certificate error message. So I checked the forums about this issue, to find out that I had to hack my phone.

Note: Yet again, Nokia and its fellow Symbian companies had figured out a way for us to not fully enjoy cracked applications without a sweat. Most phones are unhacked. In order for you to be able to install the unsigned applications, you have to have it hacked. Without the hack (or crack), only signed applications are installable.

It actually took me a day to figure out how to do it.

Hello Carbide is a program for you to be able install unsigned applications. However, you will need X-plore so that you could browse through some of your phone's hidden folders. I'm not sure if you'll be able to find a signed X-plore but if you do, problem solved. I wasn't able to try downloading a trial version to temporarily install Hello Carbide. You can try this.

1. Get a Certificate (some websites hand it for free. They will ask for your phone model and your IMEI).

2. Download Hello0x (I think the latest is 2.02. You can download it for free buy they charge 5 dollars for a certificate.)
3. Attach the certificate to the HelloOx application and install it to your phone.

OPTION 3: DRAKKARIOUS (effective but a little risky. Had to reformat my phone 3 times to get this one right).
1. Download Drakkarious application for you phone (This will include an X-plore, Hello Carbide, Caps ON, Caps Off).
2. Install and make sure you select the correct model of your phone. (For the Eseries, the reason why I had to reformat was because after installing Drakkarious and following all the instructions, I kept losing the "bin" folder and I could not install any unsigned applications- it just shows a white screen and goes back to normal. The trick is to select PRE-FP1 instead of OTHERS/ SPECIFICS).
3. There are times that X-plore included in the package will say "Update Error". All you have to do is uninstall X-Plore and reinstall a newly cracked one. It will say that Drakkarious will be uninstalled, do not panic. Just say OK and reinstall it later.

Hope this helps. I am not a programmer, hacker or cracker. I'm just a technician. Rather than spending money on those Cellular Phone Techs at Greenhills or wherever, try doing it yourself. Believe me, it'll give you a sense of accomplishment. In addition, you'll even get to realize what a rip-off they are for their unreasonable service fee for uploading something into your phone that they just downloaded from the net.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food for Thought: CIBO Comfort

So after I failed the interview, I called my boyfriend and asked him to "Play Hookie" so that I could talk to someone about my frustrations. The good, loving and supportive person that he is, he immediately took off from where he's at and rode a taxi to where I was waiting for him. He was supposed to attend a review class (as mandated by their school. Weird? Now, nursing schools are requiring their students to review in a specific review center because 50% of their grades depended on it).

The point of this post is to document our eating escapades. The picture was taken from CIBO in Gateway. It's not a fast food joint like the ones on the 3rd Level of the mall. Their food is a little pricey for the normal food enthusiast. But it's worth every penny.

As we enter the joint, we were greeted by a nice looking waiter- clad in white, neat, clean and effortlessly charming. Aside from being well- mannered, the guided us to the table with the a good view (window seat)and even talked in English upon explaining the details of the pasta we wanted to try.

The drinks were good. I selected a PESCA ICED TEA at 90php (peach flavored ice tea) while my boyfriend got a pretty mean shake (I forgot the name but it was grapes- made from the real ones, not powder).

For our main course (the one and only course), we ate a family-sized carbonara-sauced penne pasta with complementary garlic bread lavished with a mixture of butter, garlic(of course!) and something green (some fragrant spice) @ 430 php. He, on the other hand, ordered a chicken meal with half a grilled chicken (soft and tasty meat) with 3 cucumber slices and garnished with a lemon topping @ 465 php.

In the end, we had a hard time finishing it up. The food was scrumptious and it satiated more than our hunger. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "It was all worth it. The food is good and the price is right."

PS. Sorry about the picture. My phone doesn't have any DSLR capabilities.
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A Job Interview Failed... why??? Below Employee's Requirements: Salary

I think it's everyone's dream to work in their ideal environment. My previous job had such, so I really didn't want to settle for anything less. But my sister's patience was nearing it's limit. The pressure imposed upon me about needing to find a job soon was thickening the invisible emotional atmosphere surrounding the house. So two weeks ago, i applied for a Technical Support Engineer position (specifically as a Senior Technical Specialist) in one of the larger IT companies here in the Philippines. I passed the initial phone interview.

Afraid to jinx these types of opportunities, I'm the type who never tells my family if i get possible life changing events such as these. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law overheard my phone interview and declared it to the entire family. I was so mad at that point because i wanted this to be private. And it made me more angry because i felt compelled to lie to them about it(which i did!)

On the big day, since I wasn't familiar of the company's location, i left home early to avoid morning traffic. I arrived there two hours before my scheduled appointment. When I reached the receiving area, a receptionist greeted me and assumed I was a walk-in applicant. I guess she never heard me saying I had an appointment, which was where the problem started. I was not able to check if they had placed my application in the Senior Technical Specialist pile or Sales Support Division (which was where they normally placed the walk-in applicants' resumes.)

After passing the first interview, I was really confident that i could pass the mock call phase (which is where i failed). I had placed in my salary expectation as 18,000 a month (my previous job salary) so the HR person asked me if I was willing to work at a lower pay and I answered I can go as low as 15,000 (Note: This was WAY TOO LOW for a Senior Technical Specialist position). Before the call ended, she complimented my communication skills and asked me if i had any questions. I said, "Yes." I was desperate to know the position I was designated to have applied for. And she answered, "You'll be in tech support. However, That'll be as a level 2."- and level 2 was perfect because i used to be a level 1 and that was one of my goals-to apply for a higher position. (Level 2 is like handling a corporate account/ solving tougher problems that most level 1s aren't capable of).

So as instructed, I waited in the lobby for my result. When my name was called, I received THE THIN LETTER saying I failed due to scoring law in my salary expectation...THAT SUCKED. I wanted to rant and rave. I was applying for a job which required experience and specific troubleshooting skills and I failed because I gave an honest salary expectation! I wanted to tell them that for an international company, it was outrageously unbelievable that there's a possibility that they could be giving out a salary lower than the 15000 I said for a Level 2. This wasn't just some typical call center job!!!

BUT THAT'S I sucked it up, pouted a little, thanked the receptionist for lending me a pen and left to get some ice cream shake in a mall along the way.
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