Help Save Japan’s Dolphins

March 22 2010No Commented

Categorized Under: HK Heathen

In The Cove, a team of activists and filmmakers infiltrate a heavily-guarded cove in Taiji, Japan. In this remote village they witness and document activities deliberately being hidden from the public: More than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are being slaughtered each year and their meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is being sold as food in Japan, often times labeled as whale meat.

To really make an impact on this issue, we must get the word out in Japan and urge action from our own leaders. We believe that once the world and the Japanese people know, they will demand change. Help us save Japan’s dolphins. Click the link above to demand action from our leaders!

Follow my radiostation at Blip.fm

January 28 2010No Commented

Categorized Under: Music

Blip.fm

The Best Way Out is Always Through.

November 25 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: My Thoughts

persevere

If I had to pick one word to describe any success I’ve enjoyed, I wouldn’t hesitate; the word would be perseverance. There have been a lot of potholes, detours and roadblocks along the way, but no obstacle is ever so tough – there’s always a way through an impossibility if you try to find it.

Here’s a video short: The Best Way Out is Always Through.

If you need a little “shot of inspiration,” you’ve come to the right place.

Just click here to watch.

This is not a paid advertisement. I just happen to really like the video. :)

My New Laptop – Sony Vaio NW

November 7 20093 Commented

Categorized Under: My Thoughts, Web Development

Miguel just bought me a new laptop and I couldn’t be any happier! :)

sony vaio nw 2

We bought the Sony Vaio NW, it was a choice between the walnut-brown and the white-silver-gold one, and I ended up choosing the white version simply because it looked a bit more feminine. The brown one, although it was quite handsome and would probably withstand dirt a bit more, was just a little too mannish, and in some angles it looked like a dull chocolate brown compared to the “bronzer brown” it showed when you’re looking at it full on.

So white it is.

Body

One of the things which attracted me to this one was the cool embossed wood-grainish design on the body – this laptop isn’t at all like the smooth aluminum of an HP nor the black boring plastic of a Lenovo. The textured design will also help make scratches and bumps (assuming the worst) less visible, and this is a plus in my case. Although I don’t intend to lug my baby around everyday, I did choose to get this so I can bring it with me on my trips back to Manila, so this may need to withstand a bit more than just sitting on a table.

sony vaio nw

Keyboard and Trackpad

The NW’s keyboard rested on a minor depression because of the waved body design, which is something I like because it means I don’t have to raise my fingers too much to type faster. The feel and look of the keyboard layout is pretty close to a Macbook Pro’s chiclet approach, and although it’s not the most original keyboard, it’s not something I’m going to complain about.  The one thing that worries me about the keyboard is that it’s in white, which – although I’m probably going to be OCD about keeping my hands clean while using it – may be more susceptible to dirt and stains. The keys are all flat and springy which makes typing a pleasure.

The layout lacks the full number pad which some HP laptops have at this size; this is something I would have loved to have since I usually touchtype with the numeric keypad, but then again I can always choose to buy an external numberpad if I want to.

There’s also a 3.3 x 2.5-inch textured touchpad below the keyboard – which looks and feels amazing to use. Unlike other trackpads, this one offers some friction due to its textured coating which makes for more precise mouse control. I also liked the fact that the two touchpad buttons were raised from the pad, and overall, the buttons had a firm feel to them.

SplashTop

Okay, here’s something new – this laptop has a special button, located above and to the right of the keyboard, which launches a special browser without the need to boot my Windows 7 OS. I’ve tried this only a few times, and the response times are fast (it takes about 30 seconds) but this can be very convenient when I only need an internet browser to do some quick work.  I’m still not sure if this has any access to my drive in terms of saving documents and files, so I’ll need to test that area.

Size and Weight

For a widescreen 15.5 incher, this laptop isn’t so heavy. It’s actually light enough for a woman to carry around. But don’t let the weight fool you – this laptop’s display area is huge: there’s enough real estate to open two browsers side by side without needing to scroll through content.

Display and Audio

The uber-glossy, 15.5-inch (1366 x 768-pixel resolution) display uses Sony’s X-Brite Eco technology, which lengthens battery life by using one backlight instead of the two in the regular X-Brite displays. And as previously mentioned, the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio offered plenty of space for doing work, viewing movies, and coding webpages. The viewing angles were fairly decent – two people can probably watch a video together, but since the screen is super glossy, you sort of lose track of the crispness of the images the farther you are from the center.

What I would have really wanted were some dedicated keys to adjust the sound volume, but what the heck – I can always use the FN+F# keys.  The sound from the built-in speakers were okay; not Altec Lansing HP quality, but loud enough for laptop video viewing. The bass could probably use a bit of adjustment, but then again, if I really wanted to watch hi-def from this laptop, I’d probably use the HDMI output and plug it into my tv so I can maximize the 1080p capabilities.

Performance

Packing a 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor and 3GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB), this laptop has fairly fast processing speeds, but I haven’t fully tested working on it with my graphics, video-editing, and webcoding programs open all together.

The hefty 5,400-rpm, 320GB hard drive offers loads of room for storing documents, photos, music, and videos.

Graphics

This notebook has ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 graphics (with 512MB of dedicated video memory) although personally I would have wanted to go for a higher video card from Nvidia (just for personal reasons). And although this dedicated graphics card will help with video display, I don’t think I’m bound to be playing any graphics-intensive game like Warhammer on it anytime soon. (Sorry, Miguel, it’s a no-go.)

Battery Life and Wi-Fi

I expect decent endurance from this VAIO NW. The spec sheets tell me it should last me about 6 hours, so I am expecting around 3.5 hours of battery with maximum use.

The 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi pushes data from my wireless router (located in study/closet) to my living room and bedroom, letting me watch Crunchyroll with no hiccups wherever I go at home. Than again my flat isn’t that big (I do live in Hong Kong) so I guess that’s no benchmark for anyone.

Software and Warranty

This laptop came bundled with a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 (which I already uninstalled and replaced with my own licensed version), Norton Internet Security 2009 (30-day trial) which I killed and replaced with ZoneAlarm Security Suite, and Sony’s multimedia suite, which includes Click to Disc Editor, VAIO Movie Story, VAIO MusicBox, and VAIO Media plus which I personally do not use.

Also included is DeviceVM’s Splashtop Browser (branded here as Quick Web Access) which lets me connect to the Internet (by pressing the Web button) in just a few seconds.

Sony covers the VAIO NW with a one-year limited warranty and 24/7 toll-free tech support.

Verdict

This laptop feels great, looks great, and works a treat. It offers me a sense of individuality without breaking my budget, and I think it offers great value for its price.

Immunizations = Autism? Don’t believe the hype.

November 7 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: My Thoughts

immunized

I’ve seen this topic discussed more than a few times in the BrillKids Forum, and although I can’t blame some of the mothers panicking due to what-could-be circumstances surrounding immunization, I somewhat believe that they could be missing the whole point behind it.

As I opened my television to watch this morning’s CNN, this specific subject came out as a feature on how Egypt is currently preparing pilgrims before going on their Hajj (did I spell that one right? My P.I. professor would totally kill me if I messed that one up.) The feature lasted about 5 minutes, with more than a handful of ladies (faces covered) in a state of shock as to why they had to go through this immunization project before going on the pilgramage of a lifetime.

I guess I figured that with all of the recent chatter regarding the H1N1 flu vaccination programs, now seemed to be a perfect time to look into the importance of immunization in general. The debate over the usefulness and safety of immunizations has often been fueled by misinformation, so I’m hoping this may provide a few important facts to you who have stumbled upon my blog.

According to immunizations.eu, immunization is “the process by which an individual is exposed to an agent designed to fortify the immune system against that agent. When the human immune system is exposed to a disease once, it can develop the ability to quickly respond to a subsequent infection.”

For most of us, immunizations are so common that we don‘t even think about them. My earliest memory of one was a “booster shot” before starting school. I also remember getting a tetanus shot after some minor injury as a child. I remember, too, asking my mom about the round scar on her upper arm that stamped her safe from smallpox.

(The following are some short articles taken and linked to wherever you can get more information. In no way did I write them, so if you’re interested in learning more, kindly check out the recommended resource links written below.)

===========================================

The Controversy over Immunizations

In 1998, a report was published in the Lancet, a respected British medical journal, by physician Dr. Andrew Wakefield and 12 other researches, that alleged a link between autism and the administration of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, (MMR). Thereafter, reports of children regressing to autism after the MMR vaccine began to surface in the media. This analysis provoked a widespread objection to the use of the MMR vaccine.

Further, a causal link was suspected between thimerosal and autism. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used in vaccines since the 1930‘s. The risk assessment of mercury’s toxicity was based on methyl mercury, which could cause neurolodevelopmental disorders. The type of mercury contained in thimerosal, however, is ethyl mercury, a different type, that leaves the body ten times faster than methyl mercury. Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, the FDA issued a statement with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urging manufacturers of childhood vaccines to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines.

While the multi-dose flu vaccine still contains thimerosal, most childhood vaccines do not. In October 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report to help parents make informed decisions about immunizations. The report asserts that while thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines in 2001, it is still present in some vaccines for influenza. According to this report, thimerosal is still used in the manufacturing process to prevent contamination, but is removed at the end of this process. The remaining amount is so small that it is virtually undetectable. The report goes on to affirm that autism rates have increased since the removal of thimerosal from vaccines.

===========================================

A Pediatrician’s View on Immunizations

I’m the mother of a healthy 2 year old boy. I had the opportunity to interview one of his pediatricians, Dr. John Packard, for a television show I hosted for our local hospital system. The subject – immunizations. Of course, I had a vested interest in the interview.

We began by talking about the Wakefield study that stirred up so much debate.

It is important to note that 10 of the 13 original authors withdrew their interpretation that the MMR vaccine could cause autism, though Dr. Wakefield was not among them. To cast further suspicion on the findings, it was discovered that Dr. Wakefield was helping parents gather evidence for a related lawsuit while conducting the study.

To counter claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism, Dr. Packard pointed out two particular studies that disproved that theory. One such study, conducted in Denmark studied the autism rates of all children born there between 1991 and 1998. Of roughly half a million children, 82% received the MMR vaccine, the other 18% did not. The conclusion of the study found no statistically significant difference for autism rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

In a similar study conducted in Yokohoma, Japan, where MMR vaccinations were banned after 1993, rates of autism continued to rise despite the ban.

Next, Dr. Packard and I discussed the realities of the diseases that vaccinations aim to prevent. In the 1960’s, prior to the measles vaccine, 500,000 children per year were affected by measles in the United States. Even more frightening, 10,000 of those children died from the measles. Since then, measles has been almost eradicated. A few cases in the United States have been reported in the last several years, mostly either in infants who were too young to have received the vaccine, or in health workers who had not been immunized.

Tetanus is a another disease Dr. Packard pointed out as one whose incidence is now extremely uncommon. In fact, before the interview, I knew a tetanus booster was administered after a puncture wound but I didn’t know exactly why. The reality of tetanus is startling. Sometimes known by the name lockjaw, tetanus affects the muscles of the jaw first. Tetanus bacteria can grow anywhere. It is only when the bacteria is introduced under the skin that problems arise. When this happens, a toxin causes the muscles of the body to contract. If tetanus develops, there is no antidote to the toxin. Therefore, a patient is put on a ventilator and is in effect paralyzed until the toxin’s effect diminishes, which can take up to two months. After the ventilator is removed, the spine must be X-rayed to ensure that it hasn’t been crushed by the contractions.

Another of my son’s pediatricians, Dr. David Chupp, weighed in on the subject of immunizations. I specifically asked him how he responds to parents who question the safety of vaccines. He replied that he tries to give information that will allow parents to make a correct decision. He said, “I refer them to legitimate websites or books.” He went on to add that he addresses particular concerns which deal with autism by saying, “There is no evidence to support a causal link between immunizations and autism, and a lot of evidence that refutes it.” As to the mercury issue, he reported that “…the amount of mercury in vaccines and the type of mercury turned out not to be of concern. Most offices do not use any vaccine with thimerosal because it is only found in multi-dose vials of vaccines and most have switched to a single dose preparation in pre-filled syringes as these are more convenient to use.”

Dr. Chupp finished by revealing something that, for me, was the most valid statement of all. He said, “I usually conclude by letting parents know that after reviewing all of the information I made the decision to vaccinate my children. I would not have done so if I thought there were any risks to vaccines that outweighed the benefits.”

===========================================

Accounting for the Growing Incidence of Autism

The incidence of autism continues to grow despite the reduction or removal of thimerosal from vaccines. Many physicians agree on an explanation. Dr. Packard believes that conditions that were formerly diagnosed differently are now being categorized as Autism Spectrum Disorder. He believes that as diagnoses of autism increase, diagnoses of mental retardation, for example, have decreased.

Dr. Bryna Siegel, developmental psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, expands on this theory:

“In addition to the term autism, there is increasing reference to autistic spectrum disorders. The concept of a spectrum reflects many descriptive studies that illustrate how each specific sign of autism can be mild or severe, and that the number of overall signs may be numerous or few. The term ‘autistic spectrum has become much more commonly used than the term ‘pervasive developmental disorder’ (PDD) which is the medical-psychiatric term for basically the same thing.”

Dr. Packard called the coincidence of children receiving the MMR vaccine and being diagnosed with autism at about the same age just that; a coincidence. Additionally, a report from Webhelp, reviewed by Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, states that children with the regressive form of autism (a type of autism that develops after a period of normal development) coincidentally tend to start to show symptoms around the time the MMR vaccine is given.

The fact remains that the most respected groups in medicine, pediatric and otherwise, can find no connection between vaccinations and autism. Of course, a lot of information exists to refute this fact. Personally, I don’t believe the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA to be flimsy sources for information.

To parents who have questions about immunizing their child, I have this advice:

Don’t be swayed by emotion or hearsay. Do your own research, all the while considering the validity of the sources of information about this subject. Ask your pediatrician whether his or her own children have been immunized. Most of all, consider the diseases vaccinations aim to prevent.

I spent today dealing with my two year old son’s fever, cough, and general misery from a cold. At the end of a frazzled day of whining and more than a few tears, I considered my constant fear of serious illness for him. I can’t imagine not utilizing any form of prevention I could beg, borrow, or steal.

Recommended resources:

  • AAP’s Childhood Immunization Support Program (CISP)
    Information for providers and parents.
    www.cispimmunize.org
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program
    Information about vaccine safety, including Parents’ Guide to Childhood Immunizations
    www.cdc.gov/nip/home-hcp.htm
  • National Network of Immunization Information (NNii)
    Includes the NNii Resource Kit – Communicating with Patients about Immunizations. A guide to help answer patients’ questions and provide the facts about immunizations.
    www.immunizationinfo.org
  • Institute for Vaccine Safety, Johns Hopkins University
    Provides an independent assessment of vaccines and vaccine safety to help guide decision makers and educate physicians, the public and the media about key issues surrounding the safety of vaccines.
    www.vaccinesafety.edu

Awesome Philippines

November 7 20093 Commented

Categorized Under: Hometown Glory

Bumped into this great-looking flash site by accident, and saw a video from Apl.de.Ap about the Philippines. :)

It would have been perfect, except for a typo (check out the link to the secretary’s blog or whatnot) – then again I can’t help but notice those because that’s what I do professionally. ;)

Go go go Pinas!

Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude.

September 29 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: My Thoughts

Customer Service Comic

One of my all-time favorite quotes is….”Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude.”
How true it is! As much as we try to complicate what great service is…it’s really pretty simple: It is giving more than the customer expects…consistently. You notice I said simple, not easy. There is a big difference.
Today, to celebrate Customer Service Week (October 5-11) . I’d like to share a chapter I titled: “A Crash Course on Customer Service.”
Excerpt from
Customer Love,
by Mac Anderson
The 10 phrases from my friends at Walk the Talk are an illuminating reminder of how uncomplicated it is to make customers feel loved. People don’t care how much you know, (or what you sell, or what type of service you provide) until they know how much you care!
The 10 most important words:
“I apologize for our mistake. Let me make it right.”
When something goes wrong, most people merely want to be heard and acknowledged. So listen, apologize, then ask what you can do to make it right.
The 9 most important words:
“Thank you for your business. Please come back again.”
Repeat customers cost less than new customers and are often more loyal.
The 8 most important words:
“I’m not sure, but I will find out.”
It’s ok if you don’t know the answer; it’s not ok to make the customer keep searching for it. That’s your job.
The 7 most important words:
“What else can I do for you?”
Be prepared to go the extra mile, there is less competition there.
The 6 most important words:
“What is most convenient for you?”
Your customers will be pleasantly surprised when you ask what’s convenient for them.
The 5 most important words:
“How may I serve you?”
This question reinforces your role in the relationship. Play that role the best you can.
The 4 most important words:
“How did we do?”
Feedback is critical! Your customers have a unique perspective and they appreciate being asked.
The 3 most important words:
“Glad you’re here!”
Customers who feel welcome spend more time, more money and are more likely to return.
The 2 most important words:
“Thank you.”
Basic manners… but how often do you get thanked when you’re the customer?
The MOST important word:
“Yes.”
Become a yes person.

As hard as other people try to complicate what great service is, in my mind it’s really quite simple – it’s just about giving more than what your consumers expect – CONSISTENTLY.

Mind you I said the theory is simple, not easy.  There’s a world of difference between the two.

Here are a few phrases which I have encountered from other service providers which made me feel I am loved as a client. I figured we should all be able to benefit from these, since we’re all in the industry of sales and marketing (in one way or another.)

“We’re very sorry for the mistake. Let us make it right.”

When things go wrong, most people merely want to be heard and acknowledged. So listen, apologize, then ask what you can do to make it right.

“Thank you for your business. Please come back again.”

Repeat customers cost less than new customers and are often more loyal.

“I’m not sure, but I will find out.”

It’s ok if you don’t know the answer; it’s not ok to make the customer keep searching for it. That’s your job.

“What else can I do for you?”

Be prepared to go the extra mile, there is less competition there.

“What is most convenient for you?”

Your customers will be pleasantly surprised when you ask what’s convenient for them.

“How may I serve you?”

This question reinforces your role in the relationship. Play that role the best you can.

“How did we do?”

Feedback is critical! Your customers have a unique perspective and they appreciate being asked.

“Glad you’re here!”

Customers who feel welcome spend more time, more money and are more likely to return.

“Thank you!”

Basic manners should be included in day to day protocol when handling customer service tickets (in our case it’s OSticket, hahaha.)

Most importantly, there’s -

“Yes.”

Becoming a yes person unlocks a multitude of possibilities for you in terms of customer retention. :) Oftentimes, a client who is satisfied with how well you’ve been able to follow-through a CS ticket will become the best marketer you can ever have – someone you will never have to pay who will serve as a living testimonial of how well you do your work.

Super Mario Brothers Clouds And Bushes The Same?

August 13 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: Art Addiction, My Thoughts

Check it out: are they really the same?

Check it out: are they really the same?

Someone was probably trying to make a deadline.

Even Eagles Need a Push

August 12 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: My Thoughts

Eagle Flying

Eagle Flying

“You never know when one act, or one word of encouragement can change a life forever.”
~ Zig Ziglar

“The Push” is a pretty good video short written by David McNally. It has very few words, and doesn’t take 3 minutes, but it captures the essence of encouragement in a way you’ll never forget.

So sit back, turn up your speakers, and watch a beautiful movie that will make your heart smile.

And don’t forget to pay it forward, in case you know someone who might need a bit of encouragement.  A little shot of inspiration is always a good thing!

Just click here to watch.

Cat Funee

August 11 2009No Commented

Categorized Under: HK Heathen, My Thoughts

Cats make me laugh, even for the smallest of reasons. Too bad I can’t keep one here in HK, our building manager won’t stand for it, and the residential buildings which do allow pets smell… well… like pets.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures