SickSky Launcher for Android

SickSky settings panel

SickSky Launcher (Google Play Store link) is a very simple Android launcher/home screen, with no widget support. If you love your widgets, this launcher is not for you. But if you just want access to your apps, calendar, and weather, you might want to check this out.

When launched, the homescreen is divided into three panels. The top panel shows the current temperature for your location, and the date and time. The middle panel is mostly empty unless you do some actions. The bottom panel has two buttons.

But where are your apps? Click on the button on the right of the bottom panel, and you get to see all your apps at the middle panel. You swipe to the left or right to access apps in another page (16 icons are shown per page).

SickSky apps panel

To show more information about the weather, just click on the temperature at the top panel, and more information is shown in the middle panel. But I have found one quirk with this panel. See screenshot below.

SickSky weather panel

As you can see, the locations shown in the top panel and middle panel are different. Anyway, you are shown temperatures, 5-day forecast, and current condition.

To access your calendar entries, you need to access the settings by clicking the button at the left of the bottom panel (see topmost screenshot).

There isn’t much customization options. This is a simple, minimalistic, no-frills launcher that works fine if you are not fond of customizing your home screen. I like this launcher, but I do like having a panel showing my frequently used apps – it can be tedious swiping around if you have tons of apps installed.

Power users will not be fond of this launcher, but for those who like their home screens simple, this app is worth their time.


SPlay Launcher for Android


I have this app installed yesterday a week ago, and on its second day 2nd week, here’s what I think about this Android launcher.

The launcher (currently in beta but available at the Google Play Store) is basically a group of tappable texts. When you tap and hold on a text, another set of tappable texts are shown, and while still holding the text, you slide your finger to the text that you want, and the corresponding action to that text is launched. For example, to create a new text message, you tap and hold Diary, then slide up to New message.

There are four main text groups, and Apps is the customizable group. You can add up to 7 shortcuts to your favorite/most-used apps by tapping and holding Apps then sliding to Edit Shortcuts. You can also access Google Play in the Apps group. To show all the apps installed, you slide to Apps (you can also show all apps by tapping the context menu (at the top right).

As I am right-handed, the placement of the texts works for me. It should probably work for sinistrals, but I think there should be a setting so that the user can select where the ring is oriented.

The animated ring stops after a few seconds, maybe to preserve battery life, but I feel that it defeats the purpose of the animation. It should rotate infinitely. I am sure most Android users will have set up a screen timeout anyway.

If you are a creature of habit and only uses a set number of apps, this launcher is good. But for those who uses a lot of apps, the limited number of shortcuts is limiting, so this launcher may not be for you. Is the user experience enhanced? Some may doubt it.

Normally, when I test an Android launcher, I usually revert to Go Launcher after a few days. I am on my second week with Splay Launcher, and so far I have no urge to go back to Go Launcher (not a fan of the stock Android launcher). It offers a different experience unlike those other launchers that look like they’re no different from each other. We’ll see if this holds.


Expense Manager for Android

Yes, I know it’s too much expenses for less than 15 days. That’s why I installed this app in the first place, to monitor my expenses and cut down if needed.

This simple app for Android lets you monitor your expenses. Whenever I purchase something, I open the app and add this latest expense (you can instead add a home screen widget so that you don’t have to open the app when recording an expense).

When you open Expense Manager, it shows you a graph of expenses grouped according to categories. There are predefined categories but you can create your own and assign a color for your category. In my case, I added the category Toys, since it’s inevitable that I’d buy at least one a month. (Yeah, I know, don’t tell me.)

You can even view a history of your purchases for a month, and you can show entries for a category. There are two premium features (meaning you have to purchase the Pro version to unlock these two): Distribution and Statistics.

You can even export your data as a CSV file. This means you can load your data on MS Excel, for example, and do loads of geeky things with the data, like create charts to remind you that you probably need to spend less. Yeah, yeah I get the message.

I have been using this app for less than a month, and I like it. It is very unforgiving – when I open the app, it reminds me without blinking that I need to cut on spending. The UI is clean by using the Android Holo UI. It is a good expense monitoring app and I highly recommend it.

Get it here.


Just another telco rant

So, yesterday, been ranting that Smart’s offering a better but limited only data plan would only hurt loyal customers who are locked in on a clearly inferior plan and with mediocre handset. Posted the said comment on Smart’s Facebook status only to see it taken down, then they reposted the same status. A friend was gracious enough to repost my comment haha. Never bothered checking on that status again.

Now let’s turn to Globe. So I went to their SM North EDSA branch last Friday night only to find out that there were 38 people in the queue, before me. Decided it was not worth the wait, got Gong Cha instead and went home.

I tried their Web chat last Friday as well, but never got connected with any agent. I was redirected instead to a Web form. I filled that up then got an email stating that they’d reply within 24 hours.

It is now a Sunday. They haven’t gotten back to me.

Well, why not call them up, you say. A friend posted on Plurk that she was on hold on ONE HOUR. Well.

Today, a telco is conducting an online marketing campaign. No amount of videos, celebrity endorsements, and hyperboles will ever replace good customer service as good marketing practice.


iOS5 plays catch up with Android

Basically, that’s the first thought that came into mind. Most of the features are evolutionary, and long time Android users will scoff at these, having enjoyed better notifications, Twitter integration, and cloud services for the longest time.

iCloud and iTunes Match are interesting, and their use-case and tight integration are something that Android users will long for. Google will have to tinker some code in Android so that Android users can enjoy such tight integration with cloud services. And Google Music Beta just became antiquated as compared to iCloud and iTunes Match. In this case, their first-to-market beta approach bit them in the ass.

Overall, not enough for me to switch to iOS. Well, Apple has to make their devices CHEAPER before I dive into iOS again. Now, for OS X Lion, it’s a different matter.

(iOS 5 is now available as a preview for developers.)


A note for Android developers

Hi, my name is Arbet, and I own an HTC Magic, which I got from my mobile service provider here in the Philippines. As you may be aware of, the Philippines is not part of the initial Android Market rollout, and we don’t have access to Android Market. As such, if you are only going to release your apps via Android Market, we Filipinos cannot install and use your apps.

Take a page from Fring. When Fring released its Android app, I was excited because I like the product/service, but was disappointed because they released it via Android Market. I sent them a message via Twitter, and they gave me a direct download link. Now I use Fring for IM in my Android phone.

Please, a direct download URL would do wonders for us. That’s all I ask for. Thank you.

Originally posted here. I was trying out Foursquare and Gowalla and both claim they have an Android app. I was frustrated because they only distribute their apps via Android Market. I had to scour the Internet for APKs (these are Android app installers); I found one for Foursquare at their Google Code page (good for them), and a static link for a beta of the Gowalla app. While the Foursquare app works, the Gowalla one does not. So if you notice my Twitter account, you can see me Foursquare checkins, but not Gowalla.

If you want your service to succeed, you would want as many people as possible to use your service. Limiting access to your app through a single source that in turn is limited to certain areas won’t help your service.

And that is why I am ready to ditch my iPod touch. But that is a different story.


The PlayStation Move

[RANT]What’s with companies and their very imaginative product naming conventions? Seriously, Sony? Bloggie, and now, Move? Move on![/RANT]

Anyway, after speculations on what would be the name of Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Wii Remote (the most common being Arc), Sony has announced in Game Developers Conference 2010 that its motion controller shall be called PlayStation Move.

Expect it to arrive in stores last quarter of this year (in the US, that is) in 3 ways: standalone, a starter kit with 1 PlayStation Move, one EyeToy – which is required, BTW, to use PS Move, and one unnamed game (unnamed so far), and one bundled with a PS3. Only the starter kit has a price – US$100.

Am I excited? I dunno. It depends on the gameplay, I guess. But look-wise? It’s like a scepter or something. That globe on top is the dealbreaker. I hope you can use the Move without that globe.

(Image edited, original at Joystiq.)


PBA 2009 is on!

The month of October 2009 is the month of bloggers around the country. And it comes in three. The Third Philippine Blog Awards will be held at three different venues in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Bloggers will be congregating on October 9, 18, and 24 to celebrate the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards.


The Philippine Blog Awards is a yearly event that aims to give recognition to outstanding blogs in but not limited to the Filipino Blogging Community.

The 1st Philippine Blog Awards was held March 31, 2007 at the RCBC Theater, RCBC Plaza, Makati City with over 200 bloggers and participants attending the awards night. The event was a success because of the volunteers and the support from the Philippine blogging community.

The 2nd Philippine Blog Awards was held on the 21st of September 2008 at One Esplanade. Around thirty awards were given out during the night.


1. 3 for 3 the 2003 Awards in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao:

The 3rd Philippine Blog Awards will be on the 9th of 2009 at PETA-PHINMA Theatre; on 18th of October at 2F Ayala City Sports, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City; and on the 24th of October at Pearlmont Hotel, Cagayan De Oro City.

The Awards Night at Cagayan De Oro coincides with the annual Mindanao Bloggers Summit which is also on its third year.

2. The Awards Night: One Blogging Nation

It is often said that the Internet breaks down boundaries and leaps oceans to connect people. And it is true. Lost friends, old loves and distant family members become connected in the virtual world. But like the infomercial says, “Wait there is more!”

Due to this virtual network of among Filipinos – to be specific among Filipino bloggers – relationships develop and communities spring about. In recent years, the numbers of bloggers have increased and it is not limited to one area alone. From Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao: bloggers have increased in numbers. And it is not only in our shores. Filipino bloggers can be found almost everywhere in the world.

It is a diverse and vibrant mix of personalities and individuals. Bloggers of different tastes. Bloggers of different views. Bloggers of different ages. Bloggers of different persuasion. Bloggers of different forms, shape and purpose. All Filipinos in spirit.

And this is as it should be. Whatever is said about the Filipino blogging community, it is an exciting and dynamic universe.

A universe populated by Filipinos by birth; Filipinos by choice; and Filipinos by Spirit.

It is truly One Blogging Nation.


The Main Categories

1. Technology
2. Travel
3. Entertainment
4. Personal(Diarist/JournaL)
5. Food & Beverage
6. Family & Living
7. News & Media
8. Business
9. Sports
10. Hobby & Recreation
11. Fashion*
12. Photoblog
13. Culture and Arts
14. Commentary
15. Videocast*
16. Podcast*
17. Humor*
18. Gaming*
19. Advocacy*
20. Beauty*

(* new categories)

The Special Awards Division

1. Design
2. Free Custom Theme
3. Filipino Abroad
4. Foreign Blog
5. Bloggers’ Choice
6. Filipiniana Blog
7. Blog Application
8. Ten Best Posts of the Year
9. Best Visayan Blog
10. Visayas Bloggers’ Choice
11. Best Visayas Locale Blog
12. Best Visayas Nature Blogger
13. Mindanao Advocacy Blog
14. Mindanao PhotoBlog
15. Uniquely Mindanao Blog
16. Mindanao Destination Blog

4. A Brand New Experience

Aside from being held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the Philippine Blog Award Night at the PETA-PHINMA Theatre can be viewed on-line through Flippish.com and will also be covered by other video bloggers and also in Twitter and in Plurk.


The Philippine Blog Awards is organized by the Philippine Blogger Awards Inc. – a non-stock and non-profit corporation composed of members coming from the Philippine blogging community. This year’s event would not have been possible without the help of our Institutional Partner RockEd and Major Sponsors/Co-Presentors Nokia, Globe Telecommunications Inc, Mozilla and Josiah’s Catering; our Media Partners Flippish.com, Chikka Media, Uno Magazine, Splash Press, Sheero Media, and GMCI; sponsors Level Up, Ipanema, Mimi and Karl Wedding Photographers, Buddy Gancenia and Taal View Heights.

Last but not the least the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards would not even be here without the support of bloggers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and of course from bloggers abroad who continue to keep an interest in the Philippines and its blogging community.

The 2009 Philippine Blog Awards Blog

Email: philippineblogawards[at]gmail.com
Mail: 33 Homer Street, Filinvest East, Cainta, Rizal
cellphone: 0917-829-8090

Related Links:
3rd Mindanao Bloggers Summit 2009


Best Technology Blog
JaypeeOnline // Blogging News & Reviews
MMO GrindHouse- fueling your daily grind on MMO Games
My Asus Eee PC
sasa java
Software Critics
TechPinas : The Philippine Technology Blog
The Mike Abundo Effect
The Rookie Blogger

Best Travel Blog
A Pinay in Europe
BYAHILO: Ito ang Trip Ko!
Explore Iloilo
Just Wandering
Langyaw – Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
Making Things Happen
Nomadic Experiences
sagada tourism guide

Best Entertainment Blog
Lessons From the School of Inattention
Music Picks
PH Stars
Pop Reviews Now
Reel Advice Movie Reviews

Best Personal Blog
ai’s cracker
Brief Stories
Cerebral Insights
Excuse My French
Funny is the New Sexy
Life with Ria
Platonic Trip
room for squares
Succulence Unleashed
The Casual Observer
The Digitizer
The Free Lancer
writing on air

Best Food & Beverage Blog
A Scientist in the Kitchen
Cebu Restaurants
Flipflopping my way around Town
Kitchen Cow
Our Daily Blog
Overseas Pinoy Cooking
Table for Three, Please
The Thirsty Blogger
Yedylicious: In Between Bites

Best Family & Living Blog
Absolute Cousins
Animetric’s World
Make or Break
occupation: SAHM
Viva La Vida Mama
What is a Progressive School?

Best News & Media Blog
Cagayan de Oro News Online
Daily Contributor
iNews Philippines
Virtual Journals

Best Business Blog
Millionaire Acts
Negosyo Ideas
Owning a Café
Pinoy Money Talk
Ready To Be Rich
The Sagada Lemon Pie House

Best Sports Blog
Buhay Basketball
Fire Quinito
Lakers Today
Philippine Basketball Blog
Philippine Boxing
Sports and Tech sa Pilipinas
The Duffer

Best Hobby & Recreation Blog
Bearbrick Love
Bored & Crafty
Comicology: The Study of Awesome
Dance Manila
Flying in Crosswinds
Mad Labs and Hug Dogs
Pinoy Experience Mountain Biking and Outdoor Philippines
Pinoy Mountaineer
The Singing Blogger

Best Fashion Blog
My Fashion Juice
Style and Relax
THE UKAY QUEEN:Ukayshopping101
Ukay-ukay Escapades
who is elyoo?

Best Photo Blog
Asin at Paminta
Didang Alvarez
Distilling Thoughts
I Am a Documentary Photographer
Lino Photography
My Manila

Best Culture & Arts Blog
Art in Action
magnetic-rose.net: Japanese Pop Culture for Filipino Fans
Perlas Design Studio
PinoyTattoos.com – Filipino Tattoo Source
Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy
The Spy in the Sandwich
Views from the Pampang

Best Commentary Blog
ad maiorem Dei gloriam
Alleba Politics
J. R. Ramos Go
Matinong Ehemplo Ng Youth Ehemplo ng Kabataan
Me and My Big Mouth
myepinOy’s bLOG
Pencil Pusher/Number Cruncher
Splice and Dice
The Marocharim Experiment
Third Wave
Zzaragoza’s Weblog

Best Videocast
DoctorDude – Fun Vlogs on Health and Wellness
Komikero BIDJO

Best Podcast
Brink Notes Entertainment Daily
World 3

Best Humor Blog
Good Times Manila
Indolent Indio
Kwentong Barbero
manik makina
Noisy, Noisy Man
Oi! Greenpinoy!
The Professional Heckler
tuyong tinta ng bolpen

Best Gaming Blog
Mike Got Game!
Pinoy Gaming Network

Best Advocacy Blog
Autism Society Philippines
discourses of a free mind
Fide Quarens Intellectum
Filipino Deaf from the Eyes of a Hearing Person
Filipino Freethinkers
Foreclosure Philippines
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo RESIGN!
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Nurses Notes

Best Beauty Blog
Candy Blush Beauty Blog
Shen’s Addiction
The Doctor Is vaIN

Below are the finalists for the Special Awards. The finalists of the Regional Awards will be announced soon.

Special Award: Best Blog Design
Design was here
DigDesignz: Blog of a young Filipino Web and Graphic Designer
Loy Meets World
Pink is Fab!
Pink Notes Diary
Simon Ong | Personal Blog and Portfolio
The Rookie Blogger
The Site Guy
The Vignette

Special Award: Best Foreign Blog
BakitWhy.com | Filipino American Lifestyle
koji ryan
My Sarisari Store

Special Award: Best Filipino Abroad Blog
Baul ni Noel
Funny Side Up
myepinoy’s blog
The Warped Zone

Special Award: Best Filipiniana Blog
Filipino Librarian
pamatay homesik
Simbahan – Philippine Heritage Churches and Related Structures
The Philippines and Beyond

Congratulations to the finalists and goodluck!



The second teaser from Flippish for the Philippine Blog Awards 2009. Music and lyrics by Coy Caballes; Markku Seguerra on guitar.

Binuksan ko ang laptop
Homepage ko ay Technograph
Ako’y Pinoy Blogero
Sa WordPress ay adik ako

Let’s Go Sago, Lakwatsero
Coron hanggang Batangas sobrang Byahilo
Kahit ako’y mag-Visit Sagada
Basta may WiFi ay solved ka na

Laging Good Times Manila
Basta naka-online enjoy tropang Foodista
Alam mo lahat Da Who sa showbiz landia
Talo mo pa si BryanBoy Abunda

Over the top sa page views
kahit Patay Gutom busog ka sa news
Dumating si Mommy galing Project Manila
Nahuli niya si daddy nasa Facebuko niya

Let’s go, c’mon! Kung gustong sumikat
Just wear your Happyslip at sa Merryland umakyat
FunnySexy man o Komikero ang drama
Sa Radio Cubao natin wala nang panama

Okay lang ang maging Misteryosa
Basta Awesome Planet ating ipakita
Kahit sino ka pa, Batang Yagit o Tanggera
Basta Pinoy at Blogger… Tayo ay iisa



First teaser by Flippish.com for their coverage of this year’s Philippine Blog Awards. I know where they shot this teaser. No, I won’t tell, sorry.