Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"A night stroll in Houhai" shot on Canon 7D - 60 Seconds of Culture

Houhai is a recreational lake area in central Beijing. It is famous for its nightlife and is home to many popular restaurants, bars, and cafes as well as recreational boating activities.

If you haven't been to Houhai, you haven't been to Beijing.

Shot around June 2010 using a Canon EOS 7D camera.

Photography by Don Sausa
Music score ("Dancing Leaves") by Ben Beiny
Video techniques available on Camera 7D.

Find more vids on my channel here:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: The Sound of Music at Resorts World Manila

The Sound of Music @ Resorts World Manila
Originally uploaded by Don Sausa

The Sound of Music is a 1959 Broadway musical by Richard Rodgers.

Resorts World Manila started production of this musical in October, at their brand new 1,500 seater performing arts theater.

The musical was inspired by the true story of a WWI naval war hero, Georg von Trapp, and his family's journey through the loss of a spouse, a second marriage and a second world war.

The near 3 hour musical focuses on first the developing love story of Georg and Maria, and then highlights the Trapp family's musical act that made them famous around the world. And then finally, their struggle against the Nazis and their escape away from their native home of Austria, which was annexed by the Germans in 1938.

While this didn't take away from the outstanding performance of the cast in portraying this classic, I felt there were too many "attendants" with LED flash lights roaming around the theater. What in the world are they looking for? Folks filming this with their cell phones?

Despite the tiny annoyance of attendants scurrying along the corner of your eye every few minutes, my daughter and son loved seeing the Trapp kids sing and dance around the stage and my wife was genuinely mesmerized with the love story. There's not much that can top a good musical that can entertain the youth and inspire even the more mature audiences. I certainly enjoyed the familiar songs of yesteryear and it took me back to fond memories of my junior and high school years. (Yeah, I was lucky enough to go to schools that encouraged to use all parts of our brains.)

If you are near Metro Manila and want to add some cultural depth to your weekend activities, I'd recommend the Sound of Music.

Flickr enhances privacy, adds geofences

Flickr, the world's premier photo sharing site made a major improvement to its privacy controls these past few weeks.  If you use Flickr and share location information of your photographs, you need to spend a few minutes and read about their new geofences privacy features.

I'm glad that despite having some highly publicized lay offs , they managed to improve the site and integrate geolocation controls.  The new geofences tool gives users the ability to hide location information if it is too close for comfort.  For instance, you may want to remove geolocation information on your home pictures, or make sure that only your contacts or family members can see them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Repairing your personal UPS power supply by replacing the battery

If you have lived in a country that's didn't have a quality power grid, then I'm sure you can relate to this post.  In developing countries, constant fluctuations occur with the power supply and with the voltage.

This spells trouble for many electronic devices.  Without consistent power supply or without stable voltage, your latest gadget could fry within seconds if it is left unprotected.  That's why computer shops and office supply stores near my area sell a lot of surge protectors, voltage regulators, and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units.

My preference will always be UPS+surge protector units like APC's Back-UPS ES 500.  They give me a few crucial minutes to shutdown my computers and other devices properly; hence, reducing the chance of data loss or equipment damage.  But the batteries within these UPS units are typically not heavy duty and do not last long against the constant voltage changes.  So if you find that your UPS unit dies out and it is no longer under warranty, don't think you have to totally replace it.  You may just need to change the battery.  You can still save it by buying a battery replacement.

Steps on how to fix it

  1. Unplug all devices, unplug the UPS unit, and make sure it is fully drained (no battery life, doesn't turn on).
  2. Buy a 12v9Ah/20HR battery from any hardware store (note: your UPS unit maybe different from mine and the battery unit might be different).  In this case, I bought an Akari branded battery.
  3. Get a Philips screwdriver and unscrew the 5 screws from the bottom part of the UPS unit.
  4. Take note and remember the placement of the two power plugs - red and black - that you see on the old battery.
  5. Remove those power plugs and replace the old battery.
  6. Screw it back on and put in the screws back in place (wait 15 minutes before plugging in anything new into the sockets).  
Viola!  Your UPS unit should be fully working like new.  If it still does not function, you either did it wrong or there's other issues with the unit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An open letter in response to the OWS open letter

This is the open letter I'm responding to.

While I'm not the person being addressed, I wanted to talk about the liberal viewpoint and their perception of what is proper work ethic.

Let's start this conversation by stating this fact: I live in a planet that has 2 of 3 Americans overweight (including the OWS protestors that are "poor") and in a world that has people dying every 3.6 seconds due to starvation -- and most of these folks that die hungry are under the age of 5.

Now with that framework, let's continue reading.

Do you really want the bar set this high?

Why not? Compared to the world that has kids dying every few seconds, we should feel lucky that we have the opportunities here in this wonderful country to set any bar "high".

Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week?

This is a country where there's tons of opportunities to move up in class. College education for high school grads are deeply discounted for those that have good grades. Hospitals and desperate medical facilities will pay for your tuition and license fees if you graduate as a nurse. I know many people that work hard in low paying jobs only to find higher paying jobs by getting an education that the market needs. What is wrong with this?

Is that your idea of the American Dream?

My American dream is that you work hard, get work experience or an education that the market needs, you land a decent job, then you can pay for your expenses and take care of your family. The majority of the world does not have this. I'm lucky enough to understand this concept because I lived poor from another country. From my point of view, the protestors look extremely spoiled. Given mostly free education up to high school, significant amount of employment (91% have jobs), and a college system that gives deep discounts on tuitions or scholarships for folks with high grades. If your state doesn't have that, move. Plus a federal govt that actually pays for education if you join part time reserves in the Coast Guard or other branches that's not directly involved in armed conflict?

The opportunities here are enormous. Wake up to what you have and appreciate it.

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week? Do you think you can? Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

The rest of the world does, and I actually love work. Surprise. I don't think I'll stop working -- ever. It's not about the money, it's the love for work. But America has opportunities, there's tons of positions in health care that continues to be left unfilled. It doesn't matter what age either -- you can find work if you really want to. You can get an education if you really want to.

And what happens if you get sick? You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system. I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is. But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

Doesn't the American govt and taxpayers provide more than enough? If you are poor, Medicaid. If you are a senior, Medicare. If you are disabled?  Social Security.  But are we forgetting responsibility of our family members as well?

Most illnesses that is not caused by lifestyle or personal choices (nearly 2 of 3 Americans are overweight), are the common cold and bacterial infection. If it's bacterial, antibiotics are mainly provided for free by most pharmacies and deeply discounted in retail chains like WalMart.

Let's get educated on health care, let's understand what causes the problems (bad diet/no exercise/smoking), and if we want to talk about specific points or illnesses, let's look at it and how much of that is a personal responsibility and how much of that is an issue that the rest of America has to pay for. (Example: Instead of a $3,000 operation that a US medical facility might charge you due to overhead expenses in labor/minimum wage laws and malpractice insurance, could you take an $800 flight and $300 bill in a professional facility in another country to get it done?)

Do you plan to get married, have kids? Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation? Is it going to be fair to her? Is it going to be fair to your kids? Is it going to be fair to you?

Lots of subjectivity here and lack of respect for contentment. Travel outside of the world and you will realize what real hunger is. Do you put food on the table? Do your kids have a better chance than you because they went through school? Can your wife work or take up classes in college after the kids have grown? Improve your family status if you want to, and stop comparing yourselves to others -- because if you do, compare down as well as up. You'll realize you are extremely lucky to have not been born elsewhere and instead in America.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.

Are we forgetting the other story?

And then the unions became more selfish and killed every industry it touched (auto/GM/Ford/airlines/etc).  Companies who have investors (70% of American households invest in retirement accounts that invest in corporations) had to move their business to other states or countries to make a profit.

Other Asian companies saw this mockery of work, innovated and built cars and have even built factories in America just to show how it's done.

Let's not totally forget that side of the story -- that the legacy costs of union demands have almost wiped out our once golden industries. Thank goodness for the foreigners that built factories here, learned from GM/Ford/etc, and reminded us of the original American work ethic, innovation, and quality.  We are just now catching up to our competitors.

There needs to be workers rights - sure - but not to the extent where companies go belly up and can't compete.  Unions are no longer about fair treatment but how much they squeeze out of a corporation.

Anyway, do you understand what I’m trying to say?

Yes, you want more stuff for less work.  Your level of comfort is what the "dream" is about.  One statistic tells it all.  2 of 3 Americans are overweight, while in the rest of the world, every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of 5. (Source: UNICEF)

The point?  Stop being spoiled, appreciate what you have, and work.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of people that agree with your attitude, and it is very much so prevalent in the PIGS. (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain)  Read up how they are doing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street truth pill: About those evil corporations

This video summarizes what #ows (Occupy Wall Street) protests are all about. They make general statements about corporate greed and apparently that's enough to demand for free hand outs. What's worst is that the mindless hordes (aka zombies) generalize corporations as evil.

  • About 70% of American households invest in corporations through retirement accounts. Corporations have to produce profit and create shareholder wealth. In essence, part of their job is to make sure 70% of American households have more money than what they originally started with. Is this wrong? Most logical people would say, no. But zombies, do they understand this?

  • It is wrong when people do fraudulent activities. It is also wrong when mindless hordes say corporate executives who break the law do not go to jail or have not been punished. I have listed just a small sample of people that have gone to jail. But do zombies understand this?

  • Jeff Skilling, former CEO of Enron, Serving 24 years for fraud, insider trading, and other crimes related to the collapse of Enron

  • Bernie Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom, Serving 25 years for accounting fraud that cost investors over $100 billion

  • Dennis Kozlowski, former CEO of Tyco, Serving 8 to 25 years for stealing $134 million from Tyco

  • John Rigas, former CEO of Adelphia Communications, Serving 25 years for bank, wire, and securities fraud related to the demise of Adelphia

  • Sanjay Kumar, former CEO of Computer Associates, Serving 12 years for obstruction of justice and securities fraud

  • Walter Forbes, former CEO of Cendant, Serving 12 years for fraud

  • Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, Serving 7 years for bribery and mail fraud

  • Joseph Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications, Serving 6 years for insider trading

  • Sam Waksal, former CEO of ImClone, Served 7 years for securities fraud (released last year)

  • Martin Grass, former CEO of Rite Aid, Served 6 years for fraud and obstruction (just released this year)

  • Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Don't be a zombie

    You may have heard about the recent mindless Wall Street protests.  Gotta love the catchy slogans and play on statistics.  I was thinking, not so deeply about this the other day, that I want my own personal slogan too: "Don't be a zombie."

    Good one?

    Here's my quick play on slogans and statistics:
    • I was part of the 15% - percentage of people below the poverty line.  In the Philippines, it's more like 40%, but we're going with American statistics for now.  Yep, I still remember I couldn't buy a piece of bread back in the day because I didn't have 2 cents (price of cheesebread in Cebu).
    • My family did their best to be part of the 55% - percentage of people with some college education in America.
    • Then they became part of the 3%, the percentage of people with professional degrees, thanks to friends and family members like my Aunt Helen.  We then migrated to America (legally) and my parents even chased more degrees.  Yes, even now.  They never stop learning!
    • We also became part of the 3% (again) -- that's the percentage of Americans, who were initially immigrants, that pledged their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution because they believed in the principles of  America, including that if you work hard, you educate yourself enough, you will be part of the "American dream".
    • I became part of the 53%, that's the percentage of households paying their taxes in America. I started my first job when I was 16 years old at a local computer shop.  
    • Life got better, with hard work, the right attitude, and the right schooling.

    Get an education -- one that the market needs -- and you'll find a solid job.

    Live within your own means.

    And the American dream -- will be an American reality.

    Don't be a zombie.

    Twitter hash tags:

    Sunday, August 07, 2011

    Wall Street crisis -- this is a great time to buy

    When it comes to stock market crashes, there's usually three types of reactions:

    (1) Sell.

    (2) Hold.

    (3) Buy.

    When I know a market crash is coming like the one coming on Monday after S&P's questionable downgrade on America's prestigious triple A rating (AAA), my reaction is to sell smart and use the capital to buy more.

    Each investor has a different life goal and different idea of when they are retiring, so your strategy must fit your goal.

    In my case, it will be decades before I retire (and probably won't stop working); hence, I can afford to sell what I think won't give me any returns in the next couple of years and use that same capital to buy up companies that will outperform the market.

    The psychology of fear is a valuable tool for the long term investor.  When there is a universal sell off, you can take advantage of it.  When you know a company has strong fundamentals, and is battered down by emotions rather than facts, that's when you buy.  My advice to young investors out there: this is a great time to buy.

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Domain names cheaper than GoDaddy

    A few years ago, GoDaddy used to be the #1 seller for domain names as they were selling them for discounted prices.  With competitors around the world pushing the price down, the company has shifted strategies to packaged deals and have set their .com pricing to $11.99.

    Now if you want to save $1.99/year -- you can technically buy a GoDaddy domain name through Google, which only resells it for $10.00, plus get free Google app services!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Teleperformance opens a new site in Cebu. The world's largest BPO in Cebu!

    New call center in Cebu!

    Teleperformance, the largest contact center company in the world, has opened a new site in Cebu City, Philippines. The official press release can be found here.

    Key pieces of information within the press release:
    Teleperformance Cebu marks the company’s ninth site in the Philippines. Strategically located within the prime property of Cebu Business Park in Ayala Center – a mere 15 kilometers away from the Mactan International Airport and within the city’s commercial and residential districts – Teleperformance Cebu will be equipped with 1000 workstations. With this site launch, the number of Teleperformance employees in the Philippines is estimated to reach approximately 16,000 people.

    The Philippines subsidiary of this multinational company has won the prestigious BPO Employer of the Year award in 2011.

    Location/Contact Information

    The new site will be located across the Ayala Center Cebu at the Cebu Business Park. The closest hotel is the Marriott.

    To apply for a job, contact Recruitment.Philippines@teleperformance.com.

    About Teleperformance

    Teleperformance (NYSE Euronext Paris: FR 0000051807), the world’s leading provider of outsourced CRM and contact center services, has been serving companies around the world rolling out customer acquisition, customer care, technical support and debt collection programs on their behalf. In 2010, the Teleperformance Group reported €2.058 billion in revenue (US$2.738 billion based on an exchange rate of €1 = US$1.33).

    The Group operates about 83,000 computerized workstations, with more than 120,000 full-time equivalent employees across 270 contact centers in 50 countries and conducts programs in more than 66 different languages and dialects on behalf of major international companies operating in various industries.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Davao - the place where I "grew" up, the city I knew

    A day time view on one part of Davao City.

    A few days back, I spent some time researching my old neighborhood in Davao.

    Davao is considered to be one of the safest cities in Asia, and one of the largest cities in the Philippines by population and land area.  With new malls, IT parks and BPO buildings popping up all over the city, it's a success story that many cities in the Philippines would like to replicate.

    But for you to fully appreciate Davao's rise, you have to look back thirty years ago in President Marcos' time, where communists had control of many of the city's barangays, including my neighborhood.

    The communist insurgency
    I was born in Davao and lived in its poorest parts.  While my family moved to Cebu later on, what happened in my birth city and the battles between communist militants and government armed forces will stay with me forever.

    It was a classic case study of how you can't depend on your government as the first line of defense against monsters that want to take away your freedom.  The communists robbed our communities with "revolutionary taxes" and some military troops that were assigned to protect us were also crooked, which in turn drove more communist sympathizers.

    In the end, what saved the city, what saved the neighborhoods were local community groups rising together to make a stand.  Whether it was through sticks or fire arms, a band of brothers formed across the neighborhoods in the masses and struck back.

    I was too young to remember everything, but what I did remember was gruesome and I didn't understand what was in my memory until later on.  Toddlers don't usually realize what war is and how to react to the certain elements of war.  But children imitate parents and the instincts are almost passed on without words.  When I heard automatic gunfire, it automatically meant I should duck.  It meant I should kiss the floor and stay down until I no longer heard the sounds.

    Dead bodies in canals, people being shot in the head -- this was normal -- and etched in my memories.  You don't know what in the world is going on at that age, but you do know what you are seeing is sad.  Deep inside, you know what was happening was wrong, especially after seeing not only adults but teenagers laying lifeless in mass graves.

    Life or something like it
    I always admired my parents though in this early struggle in their married life.  They understood it well and knew what was going on.  I always remembered mom to be practical and rightly cautious.   For instance, in the evening, she always placed glass soda bottles on windows and doors as a basic alarm system.  I was equally impressed with my dad, who provided for the family with what he could do with his hands, from teaching to preaching to building a small shack for our family.

    I remember one time I feared he would fall off a tree, as he was climbing what seemed like hundreds of feet just to get us coconuts.  Ahh the good old days of poverty, when what came from the ground was a blessing and things like coconuts were like candy.

    Despite all of my childhood craziness in Davao, my first couple years of life was relatively fun and I felt loved.  I never really sought anything more and was contented. I had playmates, I had a toy truck that my dad built from wooden parts, my grandmother always enjoyed me brushing her hair, and everyone enjoyed watching American wrestling. Hulk Hogan and André the Giant were local favorites.  (Hulk: You should know how disappointed I was when I finally got to America and learned this was all fake.)

    While I only spent a couple years in my birth city, it taught me life long lessons about how to appreciate your family, the necessity of community, and how to find peace in the middle of chaos.  When I face difficult challenges in life, I look at it through this prism.

    Like my personal story, when I read about Davao's recent successes in the past few years, I also appreciate it in the right context.

    It's a city built on real "people power" where determined citizens got sick of their oppressors and fought to fight back an evil insurgency.

    Enjoy the article below.


    By Jeffrey M. Tupas
    Last updated 01:29am (Mla time) 11/12/2006

    Published on page A8 of the November 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

    DAVAO CITY—Under a scorching sun, sweat-drenched hawkers with hoarse voices tried to outshout each other to catch buyers’ attention in the public market of Agdao district.

    Meters away, other vendors were selling vegetables and fruits at prices lower than at the regular market stalls.

    Under the flyover, not too far from a girly bar, two traffic aides were directing traffic on a street that would soon be choked with motorists.

    It was another normal day in Agdao—so unlike those days two decades ago when the district was stained with blood, earning for itself the label “Nicaragdao”— after strife-torn Nicaragua.

    Back then, the Sparrow killer unit of the New People’s Army had come home to roost in Agdao, along with regional leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

    It was the same district where, later, vigilantes of the counterinsurgency group Alsa Masa were let loose to go after the NPA hit squads that had assassinated police and soldiers.

    That was the time Mindanao was a testing ground for new strategies against the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Instead of guerrillas encircling the cities from the countryside, the leftist rebels wanted to bring the war to the cities.

    “When you say that Davao became the laboratory of the NPA and counterinsurgency groups, you are actually talking about Agdao,” says Antonio Ajero, publisher of Sun.Star Davao.
    The veteran journalist says there were almost daily killings of security people and suspected government agents and spies in the district—largely blamed on the NPA’s urban liquidation squad.

    ‘Butchered like chickens’

    “You got used to the killings,” says a cigarette vendor who calls herself Mila. “People were butchered like chickens.”

    Mila says a part of Agdao was once called Barrio Patay, or Village of Death. It was there the violence was at its worst.
    Back then, no stranger got out of the area alive, Mila says.

    Ireneo Cañedo, 49, says he fled the area for fear he would suffer the same fate one of his friends did.

    “He was killed after he battered his wife. But what I was afraid of becoming a victim of intrigues and getting killed because of it,” Cañedo said.

    Ajero recalls media accounts that put the number of Sparrow victims at more than a hundred, on top of the unrecorded cases.

    Village chair Wilfredo Aquino and his armed civil defense units turned the situation in Agdao around. He was later joined by former Sparrow members who had questioned their leaders’ order to kill their own relatives, says Ajero.

    Alsa Masa formed

    The Sparrow desertions happened in the mid-’80s when Oplan Ahos, an internal CPP campaign to rid its ranks of infiltrators, was launched.

    “They got really worried that they will be liquidated themselves. So they sought the help of their number-one nemesis, who later formed Alsa Masa,” says Ajero.

    On April 8, 1986, less than two months after the Edsa People Power revolt, Alsa Masa was formed in the house of Aquino’s father.

    There were about a dozen of them in the original group, with support from politicians who were putting flesh to the new government’s campaign against the insurgency.

    At that time, there were at least 50 paramilitary groups across the country. Alma Masa, along with the Tadtad gang, became the most notorious in Mindanao.

    Fighting the NPA

    Human rights records show that under the Aquino administration, at least 1,064 people were killed by vigilante groups like Alsa Masa and Tadtad, along with at least 135 massacre cases.

    Wilfredo Aquino eventually paid with his own life.

    “Wilfredo wanted to stop the activities of the NPA and there were constant threats,” his wife Linda said. “Two days before he was killed, there were several warnings already. The constant threats made things easy for me to accept his fate … it jaded me.”

    In the early morning of April 22, almost two weeks after Alsa Masa was formed, Aquino was killed in an ambush, along with two companions.

    Linda recalls how bad things were back then.

    No one ventured out at night

    In the evenings, she says no one went out around Agdao. No taxi driver dared take a passenger to Agdao, whether day or night.

    Linda, who now chairs Barangay Wilfredo Aquino named after her husband, says the family lived in constant fear.

    For a year, she says, her family accepted no visitors and barely talked to other people.

    In 1988, after Agdao was divided into 11 barangays, the anti-insurgency campaign appeared to have paid off and the district showed signs of becoming a relatively progressive area.

    Signs of the times

    “There were no big establishments in Agdao before because businessmen were afraid to pour in their money in a chaotic environment. But now, things are totally different that one can consider Agdao one of the city’s industrial districts,” says Ajero.

    There are now factories and warehouses in the area, a popular food chain, four big 24-hour convenience stores, banks and pawnshops.

    But shadows of the past remain, legacies of an intractable poverty as evidenced by the continuing presence of squatter colonies.

    Tension still hangs over some places. Barrio Patay’s reputation remains.

    “No, you can’t go there alone,” Mila warns.

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Globe telecom outage: shuts down Visayas and Mindanao services

    I have a Globe SIM and also use Globe WiMax services.

    Both are unusable today due to a severe fiber cut that's affecting the telco company's subscriber base in parts of Visayas and Mindanao.

    GMA News had an article today that described the problem:

    A severed fiber optic cable has caused service interruptions in the operations of Globe Telecom in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, preventing users from sending text messages, making calls, and surfing the Internet, a company spokesperson said.

    Provinces such as Agusan (del Norte and del Sur), Davao, and Cebu were among the ones affected with a blanket service interruption.

    Charo Logarta-Lagamon, external affairs head of the corporate communications division of Globe, confirmed in a phone interview that a cut in one of the company's undersea fiber cables caused the outage.

    Logarta, however, stressed that these cables are not ordinarily seen hanging on lamp posts, where electric cables are typically found.

    "These cables are either under the sea or in remote areas, which is very hard to get to," she clarified.

    From the time of this blog post, it's almost been 12 hours since this outage occurred. Typically, simple cuts are fixed within a couple hours. Whatever happened, it's some serious stuff.

    In a time when PLDT is buying out Sun Cell to further solidify its monopoly in the Philippines telco market (PLDT also owns SMART), this severe outage comes at a bad time.  The majority of mobile users in the Philippines are prepaid subscribers -- that means their loyalty is totally dependent on service quality.

    Monday, May 02, 2011

    Bin Laden: How The Navy SEALs Took Him Down, Intelligence and Operational Details

    Here's what I have gathered:

    * Intelligence from Bush-era detainees revealed a specific courier that was trusted by Bin Laden. (Insert waterboarding debate here.  What if it came from such tactic?)

    * U.S. intelligence officials have been hunting for this man for four years and finally found him in 2009.

    * August 2010: The courier led them to a two-storey house 30-35 miles outside of Islamabad (some say 50+ miles) in a town called Abbottabad.  The mansion had 18 foot walls and roughly 3,000 sq feet.  It was constructed in 2005.  Some locals said a man by the name of Arshad Khan, believed to a resident of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa tribal region, built the house.

    * Two guarded security gates were the only entrances.

    * A third floor terrace was shielded by a 7 foot privacy wall.

    * No phone lines or Internet cables ran into the home.  But there was a satellite dish.  The cost of the property was valued around $1 million.

    * Locals observed the residents inside the compound did not throw their garbage but burned it.

    * February 2011: Obama wanted to pry the home open to see who's inside.  There's a high likelihood it was Bin Laden.  Also a high likelihood that members of Pakistani intelligence protected him; hence, they could not risk sharing this information.  (So yes, we thank Pakistani civilian authorities for their cooperation -- but they had no clue at all until it was done.)

    * Obama authorized two B2 stealth bombers to drop 2,000 pound JDAMs but changed his mind when he was told the mansion would be reduced into rubble.  He wanted proof that Osama was killed.

    * April 29, 2011: Obama approved an operation to kill Bin Laden.  They tapped an elite U.S. Navy SEALS squadron (about 40+) and put it under the command directly under CIA Director Panetta.  Panetta and his analysts have been monitoring this home for a couple of months already.

    * May 2, 2011: The raid occurred roughly 1:15 AM according to a local Abbottabad resident, Mohammad Haroon Rasheed.  Due to "low loom" occuring that night (little to no moon light), helicopters were able to come in undetected.

    * It was originally planned for Saturday night but was moved to Sunday due to weather conditions.

    * Four helicopters came in, the operation took less than 40 minutes.  One helicopter actually was lost due to a mechanical problem and the crew safely evacuated.  They dropped 24 men inside the compound.

    * Bin Laden resisted and was killed, shot in the head.  Three adult males were also killed, believed to be his son and two couriers.

    * A woman used as a human shield was also killed.  Two other women were injured.

    * Bin Laden had a sea burial within 48 hours of his death and his body was handled in the Islamic tradition. Officials did not elaborate.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Teleperformance Wins CRM Magazine's Top Service Leader Award in Outsourcing

    Teleperformance bags CRM Magazine's Top Service Leader award in outsourcing and unseated Convergys, last year's winner. Here's the verbiage from CRM Magazine's web site:

    Teleperformance repeats its 2009 feat as the winner of the outsourcing category. The company is the only one to score 4.0 or better in the three main criteria—one of which is an impressive 4.5 for company direction. During the past 12 months, Teleperformance has had a steady eye on innovation and growth. In May 2010, Teleperformance announced a partnership with RightNow Technologies to provide a Contact Center on Demand hosted contact center offering.

    In addition, the outsourcer has expanded its reach by acquiring or building contact centers in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. Teleperformance has a “fairly obvious and strategic vision, good in terms of reacting to new market realities. It did well in the recession and didn’t slow down innovation, which is very important,” Ryan says.

    Another analyst adds, “Teleperformance has a good reputation for quality. They do things right in the traditional sense."

    And specifically in the Philippines geography, Teleperformance also bagged BPO Employer of the Year award.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Teleperformance Philippines wins the BPO Employer of the Year award

    Congratulations Teleperformance Philippines for winning BPO Employer of the Year!

    This year the ICT awards ceremony, organized by BPAP (Business Process Association of the Philippines), the CanCham (Canadian Chamber of Commerce), and ICT leaders of the Philippine government, was held in the Dusit Thani Hotel.

    Teleperformance (TP) also was a finalist for BPO Company of the Year and Fastest Growing Company of the Year due to its impressive growth in Manila and in the Visayas.

    About Teleperformance

    Teleperformance with over 120,000 employees in over 50 countries, is the world's largest contact center company. Second to Teleperformance in size and revenue, is Convergys.

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok view

    Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok view
    Originally uploaded by Don Sausa

    One weekend in March, for $118/each with Philippine Airlines, we flew to Bangkok, Thailand.

    We stayed at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel which has a rotating deck where you can see the entire city.

    Magnificent view!

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Do you lack passion? Are you going through the motions?

    I wanted to share this song with you because it's very encouraging and I hope it gives you a reminder or a new perspective today about being passionate about your personal life, your work life, and your spiritual life.

    In my tiny sliver of existence of three decades, I've learned that often times I can feel that life is stale.

  • Personal. For instance, in our personal lives, we might find after years of spending time with a love one, we "feel" that we are too distant.

  • Business. Or it could be in our workplace, after months or years in a job, we "feel" that we're no longer passionate about it.

  • Spiritual. Or in our spiritual life, we may say that we believe in God, say the right words, go to church services every weekend, yet outside of that, we don't really talk to Him. Only when we are in deep trouble do we even think of reaching out to Him.

  • If this sounds too familiar, then you have been to a place that all of us go through: a wilderness. It's a place where there's a lack of feeling, a lack of passion, it eats at us slowly. Typically it isn't an instant ride there, it takes one compromise after another, a feeling after another, one turn after the next until we find ourselves at a dead end.

    I learned the hard way on September 1998 that I can't afford to be in the wilderness with my life. (Ask me later what happened.) I can't afford to have regrets, I can't afford to ask, "what if?". I was taught that my life on earth, in a very real way, could be gone in seconds, in minutes. It was the greatest life lesson that one could ask for. I was forced to stare at death and it stared back at me.

    Make the best of life, choose to be happy, choose not to be numb to the world around you. Make a difference, look at your love ones, look at the people around you, and look to God even for the smallest needs.

    Life is too short for this junk. Don't go through the motions, put passion behind your work, your loved ones, and be real with God. Wake up with energy, eat a full meal at the beginning of your day, then drive the rest of the day with passion because this life is a gift, and it's too short to waste. Before you take a full rest of sleep, check yourself in the mirror, did you try your best in your personal, work, and spiritual life? If you did, smile, pray, then sleep well. If you didn't, smile, pray, then sleep well. :-)

    So without further ado, here's the song by Matthew West, called "The Motions". I have included the lyrics below and the YouTube song clip. You can buy it on Amazon for $0.99 cents.

    This might hurt
    It’s not safe
    But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
    I don’t care
    If I break
    At least I’ll be feeling something
    ‘Cause just ok
    Is not enough
    Help me fight through the nothingness of life

    I don’t wanna go through the motions
    I don’t wanna go one more day
    Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
    I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
    What if I had given everything?
    Instead of going through the motions

    No regrets
    Not this time
    I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
    Let Your love
    Make me whole
    I think I’m finally feeling something

    Take me all the way
    Take me all the way
    Take me all the way

    Also here's another important principle: ask someone to pray for you!

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Practical Review: Apple iPad (iOS) vs. Motorola XOOM vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab


    I've been lucky enough to be able to play with the three tablets and I wanted to get my two cents out there to see which one is "better".


    Speed. Motorola XOOM beats out the Galaxy Tab and the iPad. The CPU that the Tab and iPad uses are essentially the same, with the iPad having less components. The XOOM on my benchmark tests were 3x as fast. XOOM wins hands down.

    Video chat.  XOOM and Galaxy Tab can do it.  I must admit it was kinda cool at first video chatting with my wife the other day.  Then we had a tiny argument about something and I think the facial expressions just further aggravated it.  So I'm not going to score this yet.  But just know, iPad is a loser here and in the camera category.

    Internet surfing/browsing. Galaxy Tab wins for Flash support. XOOM is a faster experience, but no native Flash support yet. iPad's smooth browsing experience is good, but scores less overall against the two since it's slower, and there's no Flash support at all. Galaxy Tab wins, with XOOM a close second.

    Applications/development. For sure iPad would have won this...until the revolution. No, not the Libyan revolution. The app developer revolution. Apple has ticked off big publishers and the little guys all at once with a 30% tax on in-subscription sales. Most of the top Apple apps have already been ported in the Android Market -- so yes you Angry Bird lovers, I've played it both on the Galaxy Tab and the XOOM. But boy those pigs are hard to bust after level 20! And for the "oh one inch of my screen is left empty because developers haven't fitted to the screen size" -- well kids, either use the Spare Parts app to do that, or just wait. Stop being a weemer. Galaxy and XOOM tie. Apple loses for being greedier.

    Portability. Steve Jobs I think made a huge mistake by saying 7" tablets have no future. He could have helped define two markets, one for the 10" stay at home/office/couch/toilet types and the 7" go anywhere because it's portable and fits in my jacket types. I belong to the latter camp. I like to move, I like to go to places and take photos, I like to travel. I'm also the type that surfs on the Internet in the middle of nowhere, whether I'm climbing the slippery slopes of Mt. Kanlaon or I'm in a hot air balloon show, I want to be able to take pictures on a tripod plus my other hand looking at emails. If I'm in an airplane bunched up like a sardine, I want to fit healthy plane food on my tray, plus have a taste of Philippine Airlines' world renown wide assortment of beverages (water) and still have room on my tray to watch a movie with my tablet. The iPad and the XOOM sadly will not address this. Galaxy Tab wins hands down.

    Hackability, customization. Have you seen the flying robot Kinect hack? The one that uses the sensors of XBOX's Kinect to be able to have better 3D depth perception? I'm not going to use my tablets for any Skynet hacks anytime soon less I want to be the Terminator's next target, but I do like the fact that you can modify Android tablets and hack 'em to do what you want. Motorola announced on Twitter that XOOM would have an unlocked bootloader. NICE. First thing that popped up in my mind was interlinking XOOMs in building architecture, using it like StarTrek touch/display consoles. But in all seriousness, Motorola gets street credit for being the first to unlock their premium Android tablet bootloader. XOOM wins.

    Storage. Galaxy Tab and XOOM (in the future) takes in extra storage capacity. Extremely helpful when I have little kids competing for movies to watch on road trips or plane trips. I hookup my Galaxy Tab to the TV using its proprietary AV cable or hook it up to my car DVD player that has USB hookups. From Bible stories to Dora to Spongebob, I have an unlimited virtual home entertainment collection for the kiddos in these tiny little miniSD cards that probably should carry a choking hazard label. Tab and XOOM wins.

    Snob aura. Apple wins hands down. "I just buy it cause it's Apple." Yep... You know who I'm talking about.  Apple wins.

    Price. I bought Samsung Galaxy Tab in the Philippines for less than $85 USD, with a two year unlimited data plan (+voice) contract of $45/month USD. It's cheaper than the XOOM ($599+ w/ VZ contract) and the iPad ($499+).  And in an era when bottled water cost more than gas, every penny counts. Galaxy wins.


    If you are like me where pricing, and portability is important to you, Galaxy Tab edges out from the rest of the pack despite the fact that it has less CPU power.  It offers "more bang for the buck".  XOOM though is a close second.

    If you are the couch potato, or office/home user that want raw power and multitasking supremacy, XOOM would be the next choice. The XOOM can probably run Skynet, thanks to Motorola's unlocked bootloader and powerful CPU. And the SuperBowl commercial? Epic. And yes, XOOM would win this fight once it is 100% complete -- LTE speeds, Flash support, SD support. It's all coming in subsequent updates.

    If you want the extra snob effect or just have a general need for Big Apple to watch over you, taking and sucking money out of your margins when you make a subscription-based app, iPad is still there.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    I built my first Android app for my kiddos

    I love Android!

    One of the main reasons I like Android vs. the iPad/iPhone's iOS operating system is the freedom of choice. You can customize your Android phone above and beyond the original factory settings.

    You can install custom ROMs, improve on the software, natively watch Flash videos and animations, and generally just have the ability to use the hardware that you bought anyway you want to...but you can also create your own apps!

    How to create your own Android apps!

    It doesn't take that much know how, and I wanted to entertain my kids a little bit with some of their favorite cartoon characters.

    So in this app you can poke several characters from Cars, Barbie, Dora, and Veggie Tales. It plays small snippets of video that I just pulled out of YouTube and created a local copy so it doesn't even need any data connection (also why it's 9mb in size!).

    This took me one morning to build and most of that time was setting up Java SDK and downloading Samsung Galaxy Tab's driver to make my PC work in USB debugging mode for Windows 7 (64-bit). After all of that was done, I was able to easily build the app using Google's Block Builder and App Inventor platform.

    This type of stuff is encouraging -- because it basically allows novices like me to be able to create very easy apps. If one had the time to study and do reference work, you could really do some amazing apps for your Android phone or tablet...

    At any rate, if you want to see this app, check it out here:

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Why Filipino drug mules should be punished!

    There's been a lot of media attention and press lately about saving Filipino criminals abroad for drug trafficking.  Am I the only one that disagrees with this?

    A drug mule is someone who smuggles drugs into a country or area for a smuggling organization.

    China was about to execute three Filipino drug mules, Ramon Credo, 42, Sally Villanueva, 32, and Elizabeth Batain, 38, for carrying 4,000 to 6,800 grams of heroin. They were arrested in three separate incidents in 2008.

    Philippine vice president, Jejomar Binay, personally came to China this week to plead for clemency on their behalf.

    China's Supreme Court apparently postponed the executions in response to the Philippines government's request, and to show gratitude in response to the Philippines' decision to skip out last December's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.  As some of you may know, the first Chinese citizen to be recognized for the Prize is a convicted criminal in China for pushing democratic reforms in the country.

    Aquino: What message are you sending?
    While this show of Asian diplomatic love is heart warming, I have to pose a moral question to the Philippine government.

    What message are you sending? We will bow down and throw away the principles of democracy and celebration of free speech (Nobel Peace Prize) so that we can save drug traffickers that kill and injure our children?

    "Oh, how did that get there?"
    These criminals can't exactly claim innocence when they are transporting ~9 to ~15 pounds of drugs! I highly doubt they are "victims" as Binay claims they are. A single gram of heroin in the United States is $300 USD, so one of these mules was carrying an equivalent of over $2.04 million worth of drugs!

    These type of drugs kill. From what I understand, these criminals chose to be part of the killing spree. If they are guilty, they should face the consequences and not be treated as heroes.

    This is not a diplomatic triumph for the Philippines, but an embarrassment.

    Stand on principles Pinoys, or we stand on nothing at all.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Delta SkyMiles says no to mileage expiration

    J.W. Robertson, Vice President of SkyMiles division sent a mass mailer this morning stating that Delta will no longer expire miles! Great news! Since I came from Northwest WorldPerk's program, where there was no expiration in the first place, it was distressing to hear that because of the merger with Delta, I would lose that privilege. Now I can retain my miles and "save up" for bigger and better things.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Keys to the Kingdom by Group 1 Crew Lyrics and Review: WOW 2010 Album

    I just purchased WOW 2010, a collection of best Christian contemporary songs of that year. As I'm sifting through this album, I was impressed with the song "Keys to the Kingdom" by Group 1 Crew.

    The song starts easy, starts a little prayer and a bit slow explaining the great controversy of sin, Adam, and the fall of man. Then it moves to the message of victory, of salvation, that heaven is not hard, it isn't about what you do, but what's already been done by Jesus Christ. You already have the keys to heaven, all you have to do is accept Christ's salvation (the 'second' Adam) to get to the kingdom. You don't have to go to a priest, no confessions needed, no prayers dropped in a bucket, no money to pay for your sins -- God addresses you directly.

    I like these guys style: the gospel message is creatively laid out, and the music targets a specific genre.

    Keep it going Group 1 Crew! Keep the music goin', keep the gospel alive.

    They say we're all in the pursuit of happiness A life that's fabulous we fight for our beliefs like an activist The struggles here can be seen across the atlas And it started when Adam chose to give up his palace Now the earth waits for its rightful owner 2,000 years ago the 2nd Adam told us the kingdom is at hand, died for the sins of man just so he can where we rule over the land meet every demand while nature waits for kings to take a stand so we need to understand we can change our circumstances the kingdom is therefore we choose when to advance it

    You got the keys inside this kingdom, lift up your head is only begun, keep holding on and you'll see the Son everybody sing it now [x2]

    I heard You say that You would die for me gladly give Your life for me, cry for me, all so I
    could call You when I'm so in need of promises you've spoken, my heart was always broken cause
    You gave the keys to life but in my pride I had them stolen, You say that you redeem us and
    bring us to a place where we can see the keys can never be stolen they just misplaced and so we
    rise from the ashes, stand before the masses proclaim the victory is ours and so we never give
    up, even though times get hard to understand, its never enough for us to sit back and hope he
    has a plan we gotta stand up and face the cold with a boldness that is focused on the fact we
    have the keys so just believe there's nothing closed

    So many promises You gave, and we just turned and walked away but now I see the price you paid was enough for us to live victorious

    About Group 1 Crew
    So I thought these guys were new but apparently they've been around for a couple of years. Dove Awards performance:

  • 2008: Won "Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year" and nominated "New Artist of the Year"
  • 2009: Won "Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year"
  • 2010: Won "Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year"

  • Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    StarCraft II Game Review and How to Play

    Ever since Microsoft knocked out Age of Empires by shutting down Ensemble Studios, a lot of AOE players have been looking for an alternative real time strategy game. And I think the search can end!

    The other night I found a cheap copy of StarCraft II ($39 USD) at the local WalMart. It was a beat up box and I think they couldn't sell it, as the games typically cost $49 USD.

    I heard about Blizzard's StarCraft/Warcraft games was never interested in it. However, this new version looked interesting and I thought I'd give it a try.

    To my surprise, the game play experience felt like I was playing Age of Empires again, granted with less options and less races. But despite the fact it has less races, the campaign story was excellently written and the multiplayer experience was astoundingly fast! Due to Microsoft's lack of support in promoting the PC version of Age of Empires, the multiplayer experience has been suffering. But StarCraft II's multiplayer experience was instant. I was able to find players even with 4v4.

    Suggestion to Blizzard
    If I had to give this a rating of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 9.5. The only missing piece or feature I'd like to see is to find idle military. You can find idle workers but not idle military, which is a bit disappointing if you are used to that. Everything else is wonderful game play and creative programming.

    If you have someone that likes to play chess online or strategic video games (games that require you to think and use their brain power), then this game is definitely recommended.

    How to Guides for Multiplayer
    There's over 3 million people playing this game and it keeps going higher! But it's difficult to play online because other players have played this game even since the original release. No worries, there's a lot of beginner's guides online that will help you in your newbie bronze league stage.

    Check out the forums, how to's and strategies at www.sc2gamers.com. You can find terran, zerg, and protoss advice from diamond league players and platinum players.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Wikipedia is humanity's greatest work. Happy 10 year anniversary.

    Wikipedia is humanity's greatest work, and it also reflects mankind's personality: imperfect, always changing, always learning.

    It embodies humanity's efforts to collectively bring together all pieces of information across all fields and studies from various editors and contributors around the world.

    It has tremendously increased my understanding of everything. I have studied various topics from genetic mutations to satellite communications to astronomy with this encyclopedia.

    The idea of having an "open" and free encyclopedia that can be modified, edited, researched, and critiqued is a reflection of the maturity of our information age.

    Decades, if not hundreds of years from now it will be known as mankind's magnum opus, and dare I argue more than the space missions, or the discovery of nuclear fission. What greater power is there outside of the divine, than the collective knowledge, creativity, and ideas of mankind developed and stored into an easy to use, accessible repository. It is a force that drives and inspires innovative research.

    Happy birthday Wikipedia.

    May your mission hold steady.

    May you inspire my children to learn, to critique and to contribute.

    God bless.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Listening to WAY-FM in Asia by upgrading 1st iPod Touch to iOS 3

    A few years back, my dad gave me an iPod Touch and it's one of those devices that never really got of any use. For one, I had a multitude of products that could play .mp3 songs, from my phones to my laptops. I really had no use for this tiny, sleek gadget. In fact, I gave it to my wife so she could play around with it.

    Then the other night, I wanted to listen to my favorite Christian radio station, WAY-FM, which broadcasts from my hometown in Florida. I wanted to listen to it in the Philippines.

    I knew the station had audio streaming online but I didn't want to turn on my PC. I also didn't want to use my cell phone. I simply wanted to hear it off the speakers like a "normal" radio station. Then it hit me, WAY-FM has an iPhone app!

    After some research, I was able to find out that my tiny little 16GB iPod Touch (now my wife's), a first generation 620mhz device that has 128MB DRAM, can be upgraded to iOS 3 for a mere $4.99 on the iTunes Store. There's ways to do it for free but it's a bit of a hassle having to download the file manually.

    I plunged on the five bucks installed iOS 3, and viola, I was able to install WAY-FM's streaming app for free. I plugged it in my wife's iPod home/speaker base and I was able to listen to the station as if I was in my home town.

    Excellent. :-)