My friend Eilu posted in the Fountain Pen Network-Philippines yahoogroup about a new product from CDR-King:  an inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner.  It’s a machine where you immerse jewelry or other small items in a vibrating water bath for a three-minute cycle.  The vibration causes pressure waves to produce tiny bubbles that dislodge hard-to-remove dirt.  There’s a more detailed explanation here.

I first read about using ultrasonic cleaners for ridding fountain pen nibs of stubborn ink on the Fountain Pen Network a couple of years ago.  At the time the going price for an ultrasonic cleaner locally was about PhP 3,000++.  I said to myself at the time: I don’t really need an ultrasonic cleaner, I flush my pens regularly. At PhP 880 the CDR-King machine was suddenly tempting.

I checked CDR-King Podium, but they had no stock.  The lines in Megamall were way long.  Miraculously, my friend Karlo called and said he’d found the last two units at the Starmall branch.  I asked him to get me one.

CDR-King started out selling branded and generic data storage and related computer accessories, and then moved on to stocking some odd novelty items, such as mini-refrigerators that fit a single softdrink can.  Many of its products are cheap and cheerful, but the quality levels tend to vary.  A number of us in FPN-P thought that PhP 880 for a real ultrasonic cleaner was a good deal. “Besides, that’s only the price of two inks,” Karlo said.  Couldn’t hurt to try it.

The ultrasonic cleaner is a 35-watt machine with a three-minute auto-off function.  Place the items to be cleaned on the accompanying plastic basket and immerse in water.  Close the transparent lid.  As you connect the machine to an electrical outlet, a blue light comes on.  Press the ON button.  The cleaner will vibrate, making a humming noise.  At the end of three minutes, the machine turns itself off.  Unplug and discard the dirty water.  Wipe cleaner carefully and store away from moisture.

ultrasonic-01Here’s a photo for demo purposes only.  DO NOT OPERATE MACHINE WITHOUT WATER.

I cleaned all my removable nib units, the Esterbrooks and Pelikans.  I thought I had  been cleaning my Esterbrooks as carefully as I could for the last year and a half, but then I saw little swirls of old ink coming out of the feeds as the ultrasonic cleaner vibrated.  As these were vintage nibs there was the possibility that some retained dried ink when I bought them.  My regular flushings weren’t enough get rid of stubborn red ink alone!  I repeated cleaning with another three-minute cycle, which got rid of all the old ink.  At the end of this cycle though, the water had heated up.  The manual warns the user not to exceed three cycles in succession.

I cleaned some of my silver jewelry along with the nibs, but ultrasonic cleaning only removes the physical dirt, not the tarnish.  You still need jewelry polish for that.

There is a caveat for fountain pen enthusiasts, however:  you can’t clean your celluloid or hard rubber pens in it.  You also can’t use it to clean vintage lever-fillers, as the metal parts inside the barrel may rust.  (Good thing Esterbrook Renew Tips unscrew!)  You can, however, clean nibs and feeds that can be manually removed and replaced.  The sections of most modern pens are also safe to clean in the ultrasonic cleaner.  So far I’m pleased with it.  I figure I’d only be using the ultrasonic cleaner for my pens once every quarter.

Not bad for PhP 880.


A year ago, when I was trying to figure out how to watch streaming tv on my Asus EEE, someone clued me in on Hulu.com.  After getting all excited about it, I realized that it only caters to US IP addresses.  So the same someone pointed me towards a workaround free app that redirects/masks one’s Asian IP to make it appear one is viewing from the US – Hotspot Shield. I’ve also successfully used Hotspot Shield with Pandora, to listen to music in genre channels tailored to my interests/preferences.  Pandora used to be available to Asia, but then again, bandwidth and piracy issues led to regional restrictions. 

Cathy and I were discussing Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall‘s River Cottage series on the BBC.  It’s shown here on cable, on the Asian Food Channel, but I don’t think Canadian channels reach North Carolina, and neither does BBC 4, where River Cottage was first aired.  Occasionally I have resorted to what I now call the Swedish solution in order to watch some shows I truly enjoy, but I don’t think Cathy may agree to that, and she did say she tries to avoid techno hell.

Enter Veoh.com.  I found the “Christmas at River Cottage” episode there.  If you’re not signed up, and you haven’t downloaded the beta player, you can view a five-minute preview of what is essentially a 30-minute episode.  I’ve tried the beta player, and given our dsl speed, I get to watch the whole 30 minutes continuously, with less buffer time than at Hulu.  Video quality also better.  Did I mention it’s FREE?  If you’ve signed up you can upload your own videos.  Well, I just want to watch for the meantime, perfect for a girl who doesn’t have a tv in her room, only a 19″ Samsung flatscreen monitor. 

Watch Christmas At the River Cottage in Lifestyle  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


When is storage ever enough?  For some, the more space, the better.

My friends over at the Eeeph.com and Netbooks-PH.net forums once tried listing all the forms of data storage they have ever owned that still work as of this writing.  Some people begin with the humble 128mb flash drive, even though nowadays the size of multimedia files render the 1G flash drive as the smallest useful size to bring around.  For work the heavy users might use a 4G or 8G flashdrive– while still on the lookout for a reasonably priced fast read/write 16G.  The same goes for sd and sdhc memory.

When I first got my  netbook, a regulation 4G ssd (solid state disk, developed for portability) was great.  When we started using our idle netbooks as torrent-download machines at home, all of a sudden the 160G external hard drive that was de rigeur last June became a data storage wonderland.  Until the need eventually came to back up — or horrors! PURGE — the tv series and movies already watched to make space for the new.  Then 160G became “small” as far as storage went.  Pinoys don’t really like throwing things away after it’s taken them days to download.  And blank cds and dvds from CDR King aren’t really that infallible.

I am still saving up for a 500G WD MyBook.  If like me you haven’t yet gotten yourself one of these necessary mini-universes, I’m sure you would recognize free file hosting sites YouSendit, Rapidshare, MegaUpload.  For photo uploaders, Multiply, Flickr, Photobucket and ImageShack are reliable lifesavers.  Because space is offered for free and the sites are supported by advertising of different kinds, file sizes for upload are necessarily limited.

My old favorite, AOL’s XDrive, is closing in January 2009, so I have rescued all my old backup data for restorage. While shopping around for a good site, a friend introduced me recently to Mediafire (UNLIMITED storage! direct linking!).  I’m using that for general data sharing.  Another recommended the free backup service Mozy (which backs up a max of 2G of data — ok for netbook users), which I am roadtesting now.  A third recommendation was ADrive, which offers free file hosting and online storage of 50G (you read that right, folks)!  I’m also giving this a try as a backup of a backup.

We can now choose from an amazing array of FREE (the magic word) file hosting sites.  Googling for “free file hosting” gives you at least 10 search pages.  Some people have very thoughtfully compiled a list of free file hosting sites, updated on a monthly basis.  Even if you already have a huge physical hard drive, it’s always good to have online backup.

Some things to remember if you haven’t tried this before:

1.  Archive related files before uploading, so that you don’t have to stay awake late uploading smaller files one by one.  Make sure each archived file (zip or rar) falls within the size limit for free accounts.
2.  Encrypt sensitive data and password-protect files before uploading.  Try the easy-to-use and open source app TrueCrypt.
3.  When you share files by direct linking, try to remember which files in your storage are designated private and public.  People should only be able to view the file directly linked and not be able to browse in the rest of your directory.
4.  If possible, share files only with friends you trust.  Recently there has been a wave of spam attacks in the online world, so be careful who you let in.
5.  Be a good netizen and make sure the files you upload do not contain malware.

Yes, yes.  The only thing you need after all this free space is more speed.  It never stops!


CDR-King‘s got a great new product out, very good value for your money: the Ridata Flick EZ Drive 8G USB Flash Drive for PhP880. I was in Megamall for the Oct. 17 three-day sale opening, and dropped by store first thing. I was actually looking for a cheap-but-reliable 4G flash drive like the one I bought for TDM recently (he had lost his in Cebu), but was glad to find this much better one!

Mine is matte black, as in the picture. I like the thumb-slide protection of the drive case, as other models have removable caps that can get lost. There’s a hole in the other end so that you can attach it to your keychain. It also comes in white.

Inside there’s a user manual in pdf format, but it’s practically useless for English speakers as it’s written in Chinese. Anyhow, if you use flash drives a lot, you won’t really need it.

The speed is “Lightning Class”, which would be the equivalent of a Class 6 for Transcend. I made a file benchmark test using Flash Memory Toolkit, and it gave me the ff. very good results (click on image to enlarge):

I also have a “stormtrooper white” Ridata Mini Brick EZ Drive 4G flash drive bought earlier this year for PhP700. Also “Lightning Class”, also very good, and very reliable.

The price difference is to definitely to our advantage! If I were you, I’d get this instead of PQI. Once this is out of stock you’ll have to wait to get a new one. Get one soon, world global financial crisis notwithstanding.

(Now waiting for a good price on a 16G…)


I would like to warn you all about this scam text I received from +639278173011 with the ff. message:


CONGRTLTIONS!!! You Have Won 300th\HONDA JAZZ Last May 27,2008 ur Cell # as Home Partner Winner. Call ds # for details ds is Jobert Lapuz of Phil,Com,Center….


Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan? (evil Korina Sanchez laughter)

Marami pa sana akong gustong sabihin, but the evil Korina Sanchez laughter will have to suffice. I would just like to point out that

1) I did not join any raffle of that sort.
2) There is no DTI Permit number.
3) Hindi ba condemned na ang PhilComCen building along Ortigas? Ni walang landline for return call.
4) Strange how the sender abbreviates important words and yet wastes sms space with extraneous punctuation marks at odd points.

Aga aga nagkakalat na ng lagim. I tried to report this on the DTI website but there’s this frakkin form which requires you to have a respondent. I think that’s for complaints against legitimate DTI-registered companies. I thought they had a fraud unit somewhere. They don’t even have a “contact us” for emailed complaints re fraud warnings. Or maybe you report this to City Hall.

Of course I will also report this to Marietta Giron over at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. But by then the perpetrator will have changed his number. You guys know what to do.


Would you believe, I’ve never changed my Sampo 17″ CRT monitor ever since I got back from Australia in 2000? Initially I wanted to wait till it actually died before replacing it with an lcd monitor. However, given my green concerns, limited personal living space plus the sudden rise in the cost of living, I just decided to wait until lcd monitors of a certain size became more affordable.

I don’t have a tv in my room. I bought one a long time ago, after which I discovered that the cable guy couldn’t find a tv port or cable connection provision anywhere in my room. (My room has no provision for telephone connection either.) However, my parents’ room and my sister’s room both have them. That tv ended up replacing the old one in my parents’ room. Now every time I want to watch cable I have to make sure my dad’s busy elsewhere (you know daddies and their need to control the remote). I only watch marathon tv on Saturdays and Sundays anyway, for shows like CSI and other series. I end up watching episodes from internet downloads on demand. I got tired of watching a smaller screen (am nearsighted), so I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I had a 17″ lcd monitor! At the time I thought I was setting a budget for that size, until I saw Jay’s 19″ LG monitor. Widescreen! I wanted one.

When I started canvassing (from Trinoma to Greenhills to Megamall), I narrowed down the look and price that I wanted, and both LG and Samsung were at the top of my list. I waited a month or so more till funds came in, until one day I saw that Villman offered the Samsung 920NW at PhP 9,990 0% for 6 months. The LG was more expensive. Actually, the very friendly people at the Complink next door offered the same unit for PhP 9,000 cash or credit straight payment. Next door to that other friendly people offered a similar sized AOC at around PhP 8,500. When I asked TDM, he said, “Get the Samsung. I can tell it’s what you really want. The price is reasonable. Matte black. Besides, they make their own monitors.” Considering I have to live with the monitor daily, I might as well get exactly what I want, at the terms I agreed with.

So after a very yummy lunch yesterday at Kaya Express with TDM, we went over to Villman Megamall and got me my monitor, plus some inexpensive black matte Genius 2.0 speakers (Php 395 at Octagon). I figured since my room was quite small, the speakers would suffice. True enough, they were fine. My bedroom is so small that more expensive speaker systems would turn action movie dvds into a sensurround experience and would wake up the neighbors.

Last night I was able to watch Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica without eyestrain! This made the long wait so, so worth it.


I really, really appreciate this Globe service offering. As a postpaid subscriber, I was seriously considering having my Nokia 6120c openlined before the one-year warranty was up, just so I could use a Smart sim for the P10/30 minutes internet service. Now I don’t have to. Now I can hold off getting a usb 3G HSDPA modem, because I can always use the money elsewhere.

I first tried it last May 17th, while inside a building within Ortigas Center. I connected the 6120c to my ASUS eee 701 4G unit “Luthien”, using the original Nokia data cable that came with the handset. The latest Nokia PC Suite was installed. For best results I made sure that my internet phone setting was at TIME instead of KB. [Important: To find out what your current setting is, text STATUS to 1111, and if you are not yet on TIME setting, text TIME to 1111 and wait for the confirmation before you avail of the service]. Using a variety of online internet speedtests on a workday afternoon, I got an average download speed of 420kbps. Not bad! On our home wifi network (PLDT Dsl), I get an average of 790-820kbps max around noon and and about 380-440kbps at peak hours when I share the bandwidth. The Mozilla Google homepage loaded in 3 seconds. Now I have no idea what speeds other people get on their connections, but this is plenty fast enough for me to do the things I like doing, whether for work or for enjoyment.

When trying to connect from a coffee shop in Megamall, I decided to test my theory that it makes more economic sense to buy just the coffee you like and connect using Globe, instead of being forced to upsize or buy a P100 card for an hour’s worth of surfing. First of all, I believe in not abusing coffeeshop real estate and utilities because other people need their coffee and seats too. I’m nice that way. But when you consider that one hour’s worth of surfing with Globe costs only P20, and the short latte you really like is P80… would it be absolutely necessary for you to spend the minimum purchase of P150? Of course, you need the 3G phone to begin with, but if you can afford both the laptop and the price of fancy coffee, I’m sure you already have one. Speedtest results at the coffeeshop : 216kbps.

I was in Baguio a couple of weeks ago for a work trip, and was billeted at the Baguio Country Club. I know there is open wifi there, but for some reason, the signal was not very strong where my room was. So I took out the trusty Nokia 6120 and its cable, and got a not-too-bad speed of 140kbps. Again, enough just for emails and YM messaging and smaller file downloads.

I’ll make it a point to save screenshots of my speedtests from now on.


I’ve had my ASUS eee “Luthien” (galaxy black 701 4G model with webcam) since February 9 this year. The very first accessory I purchased for it was a P400 screen protector from Silie Nation’s Eilis Tan, one of the original merchants in the Eeeph.com Buy and Sell section. I also want other items from her catalogue — such as the eee 6600 mAh battery (to order) and leather PDAir case (regularly available).

Along the way I bought a 160g WD Passport (ABM Systems, Virra Mall) and a reasonably priced slim external DVD writer (Glenn Santos aka “Shinrai” of Eeeph.com and Tipidpc.com). In the ensuing mania I bought an inexpensive black nylon canvas bag (originally a portable dvd player carrier) from fellow eeePHer Corine to carry my peripherals, as well as a Tokidoki-print Le Sac-alike messenger bag from Divisoria to act as my computer bag.

Still, once out of the bag, my Luthien looked like everybody else’s galaxy black eee. It was only a matter of time before I got myself a laptop “Proudskin” from Manix Genabe to help me give Luthien some identity. At the Eeeph.com Meet & Greet 2 raffle I actually won an anime print, which Ning wanted, so I agreed to swap for her Japanese rising sun print. It still didn’t feel quite right for my personality, so when Mark asked for it, I just gave it to him. Reg bought the Hokusai wave print skin I wanted, so I figured I’d look around for something similar.

One day I saw my copy of Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha and remembered the Zhang Ziyi movie poster. I rushed online to find the biggest file size wallpaper of it, and at the 4th Meet & Greet I asked Chie to help me remove the cinema information fonts on one side (yes, he had Adobe Photoshop CS2 in his eee’s 8g SDHC), and to resize the file to eee requirements. I immediately deposited the payment, emailed proof of deposit, and received my Proudskin a day and a half later. The laptop skin is photo-quality printing on a vinyl sticker, quite easy to install. I did notice a while later that the ASUS logo was under the bridge of Zhang Ziyi’s nose, making her look like Owen Wilson’s sister, but when the Proudskin looks this good, who cares?


Check out the new Globe 3G rates.

This is fantastic news. I am a loyal Globe user who also has Smart prepaid sim cards because

1) Smart has wider coverage nationwide due to their acquisition of the old Piltel network; and
2) Smart offers internet connectivity for P10/30 minutes.

My postpaid account remains with Globe because my entire family and our office are all on Globe, and Globe has better international roaming connectivity. I personally don’t know anyone who has availed of this Globe 3G time-priced service at this point, but I’ll be trying it soon. P5/15 minutes ain’t bad if all you want to do sometimes is view and send emails.

I’m still interested in the Smart Prepaid Plugit, a usb modem which includes a data sim card. Jim Ayson has a good overview of this product. It’s priced at P4,500 in a one-time payment, which includes P30 load on the sim. It’s good to have this kind of flexibility if your work requires you to travel around and there are few internet cafes in sight.