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.


Shingeki No Kyojin


The weekend was spent watching new anime – Shingeki No Kyojin (aka Attack on Titan) and Arata Kangatari. Both are very good. Very, very good.

Let me start with Shingeki No Kyojin. Based on the manga of the same title, the premise of the story is that humankind has to live within 50-meter walls due to the Titans – large humanoids who like eating humans even though they don’t need to for sustenance. Humans no longer venture outside the walls except for a group of soldiers called Recon Corp, whose mission is to find a way to finally defeat the Titans. After a hundred years most people no longer wanted to be part of the Corp, and thinking of a life outside the walls is considered an act of heresy.

Eren is, however, not one of most people. He dreams of joining the Recon Corp, but only his half-sister, Mikasa, knows of this dream. When she told his mother, his mother vehemently objected, but his father was ambivalent.

Then the walls got breached by the Titans. Specifically, by a Titan so tall it can reach the top of the wall.

I have only seen one episode so far (there are five currently), and I must say I am intrigued by the premise. I can’t say more since it’s just one episode, but I am sure I am going to see the next episodes.

I find the Titans creepy (I am having goosebumps right now). They look like zombies, only that the “exposed” muscles are not as random (for lack of a better term) as that of zombies. They have this nasty, creepy, malicious smile in their faces, teeth exposed, ready to have a meal of human meat. The fact that they are huge and nude adds to the creepiness.

Eren is the typical young male lead character – bratty, opinionated, annoying, idealistic. He argued with a drunk gate guard, hit an old man who doesn’t believe in the Recon Corps, had a shouting match with his mom – all on the same episode. This kid has serious life issues.

Normally, characters like this annoy me (if I am annoyed by the lead character at episode 1, I stop watching and never bother with the next episodes), but I am willing to give this some more time before making any judgment.

Speaking of life issues, wait for my post about Arata Kangatari.


The Ballad of Narayama (1958)

The Ballad of Narayama

The Ballad of Narayama is the story of Orin (Kinuyo Tanaka), an old Japanese woman who willingly chose to go to Narayama to die, as expected of her due to her old age (this custom is known as ubasute or obasute). Her son, Tatsuhei (Teiji Takahashi), loved his mother so much that he wanted her to stay and defy the custom, but his own son had taken in a wife and was expecting a child. Living in poverty, they could not afford another mouth to feed, hence Orin’s decision to go to Narayama.

For a modern cinema viewer, this movie would seem quaint. The first thing the viewer would notice is the artificial look of the scenery, as the director Keisuke Kinoshita chose to film in a studio. The effect is beautiful but haunting scenes of rural life in feudal Japan, highlighting how poverty drove the cultural norms at that time.

The movie was filmed like as if it was shot as a play; in fact, some elements of Kabuki are present. The movie narrator is a kuroko, who chanted the story in the strains of Japanese musical instruments. There was a scene where each of the characters were lit in soft, green light, and as a character leaves the scene, the light turns off until the old woman was left.

The movie could use some cutting. Though not very long (only an hour and a half), there are scenes that seemed too slow for me; I think this was in compensation for the cramped space brought about by being shot in soundstages. The journey to Narayama, for example, was just scenes upon scenes of Tatsuhei carrying his mother, with some dialog added to break the monotony.

It is a bleak and depressing movie, a movie that not everyone would want to see for recreational purpose. But this is expected from a movie that dares to show the problems facing the elderly – after all, we will all get old, and we will have to face what Orin had faced, and I assure you that it will be depressing.


Filipino to Spanish

This week has not been merciful on my wallet. And diet. :/

Aside from spending a significant amount of money on bills (pfft), the Expense Manager app on my phone says I spent too much on food as well. Yay?

Last Wednesday afternoon/night was spent with former officemates eating at Kanin Club in Ayala Triangle. It’s been almost a year since I last visited Kanin Club, and it was nice to be back to taste the old favorites.

The original plan was to go to this bagnet place at Makati, but since the weather made the stay outside like being in a sauna, we decided to just eat at Ayala Triangle. While walking, everyone was saying “I know where we’ll end up.”

We ended up at Kanin Club.

Upon being seated, I checked in at Foursquare, and only then I noticed there’s a Poco Deli nearby. If I had only known, we might have eaten there. Funny thing was, you will pass by Poco Deli before getting to Kanin Club (if you’re coming from Ayala Avenue/Makati Stock Exchange building). It’s either we’re really hungry not to notice, or our unconscious had already decided to eat at Kanin Club.

Crispy Liempo

Anyway, we started with the old faithful crispy liempo. I totally avoided this tried avoiding this but there and then I decided “What the hell, today is cheat day!” so I had a few. Promise.


My all time Kanin Club favorite – Pocherong Tinomas. Kanin Club’s take on pochero is interesting: it’s more like stew rather than soup, the saba was fried, and they added fried camote. They used beef, and added some ham. My friends totally avoided this, I dunno why. At least I had something to bring home.

We also ordered Bistek Pinoy (I took a photo but it was blurry; it’s in my Instagram – pls to follow me kthx), Crispy Dinuguan (I forgot to take a photo), and Tinapa Rice (I also forgot to take a photo). The rice was completely consumed, the bistek almost all of it, the dinuguan only a few of it left.

Total damage for everyone is Php 285 (rounded off and including service charge). Not bad for a sumptuous Filipino meal. For bachelors, you should eat there with friends; eating by yourself is expensive and lonely.

Today I had lunch with an officemate and her friend at Barcino Wine Resto Bar. The original plan (decided yesterday) was to try Wrong Ramen at Burgos Circle in The Fort. Before we went there I asked another officemate who had eaten there for feedback, and we were discouraged because (1) they open at 12nn, (2) the place is small, and (3) there might be a long queue.

We thought of going to Wildflour Bakery + Cafe, but even before I could begin contemplating on their prices the officemate suddenly craved for paella. So off we went to Barcino.

It was my first time there. I thought it was a classy, high society place for cheese and wine. Well, it is a classy place for cheese and wine. But they do have something for those not into cheese (I can eat cheese but I don’t crave for it) and wine (teetotaler). Basically they carry Spanish fare. As I was a Barcino newbie, I let my officemate order the food.

Sopa de ajo

We started with the classic Spanish sopa de ajo or garlic soup – basically a simple soup with garlic, bread, egg. This one has small strips of jamon Serrano. Surprisingly, the taste of garlic was not that strong, which I find I liked. I should probably try making this at home, the recipe looks simple enough.

Paella Negra

We ordered this Paella Negra. They put in squid ink in there, hence the color (and the name – but apparently it is not really a paella but arros negre). There are five squid rings on top, some mayo, and a slice of lemon. I tend to avoid squid because most of the time I find them rubbery and unchewable. The squid here was surprisingly chewable, and I was kinda sad there were only five pieces. Paella negra looked icky at first but I liked it.

The officemate was tempted to order wine, but as we had to go back to work, we wisely did not order. (The reality was that we can’t find the prices per glass in the menu hehe).

Total damage was… secret. Let’s just say Php200 each, which is not bad. Also, they have a lunch promo ongoing, 20% off on your bill.

Again, for bachelors, not for eating by yourself – unless you have a large appetite and can wolf down the entire content of the paellera. Or if you just want to get drunk. But better to get drunk with friends over a platter or two of cheese. If you invite me I’d let you have the wine and I’d have the cheese and tapas.

I did say before that this category will just archive the past entries, but I need a place for my food (mis)adventures, so here it is. I dunno if my co-writers could read this, but if they are interested to write again, just let me know. 😀


Let It Be on violin and cello

Wow. Let It Be never sounded so cool. I like this very much. I just find the shifting between the two awkward. But yeah.


Just show us the numbers, CBCP


(image from here)

In a recent SWS survey, 9% of the respondents said they sometimes think of leaving the Catholic Church; that means 1 out of 11 Filipino Catholics thought of leaving. Of course, the Catholic hierarchy is scandalized. The survey result is questionable! The churches are always full! The government is behind this survey!

Funny thing is, the survey statement that the respondents were asked to react to is “Sometimes I think I might leave the Catholic Church.” But then again, in the eyes of a pastor, 1 out of 11 is large enough number to cause worry.

A true pastor would ask why, investigate, talk to parishioners, and implement programs so that people won’t leave. Unfortunately, the hierarchy has chosen to live in denial.

The best way to refute the survey result is to bring out data. Unfortunately, what Peachy Yamsuan said were generalized information, like:

“The Diocese of Imus has more new parishes created in the past 10 years or so… which begs the question, why create parishes if the number of Mass-goers is dwindling?”

How many parishes were created in the Diocese of Imus in the past 10 years? We don’t know.

There is a way to rebut the statement that the Churches are full.

Let’s take the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. According to its web site, there are around 900,000 inhabitants in the archdiocese, 90% of whom are Catholics (around 810,000). There are 30 parish churches, and around 67 priests (including retired ones). Assuming all parishes have equal number of parishioners, that means in Lingayen-Dagupan, there are around 27,000 parishioners to a parish. A priest has to minister to around 12,000 parishioners.

No wonder the churches are full. (And the hierarchy being disingenuous.)

Nine percent of 810,000 is 72,900; assume that 72,900 is equally spread in the diocese, that makes 2,430 parishioners who have thoughts of leaving the Church. Assuming that all of the 2,430 decided to leave, it’s a negligible amount.

No wonder the bishops are in disbelief.

How many parishes will be created in the near future? How many seminarians will be ordained as priests in the future? These numbers are important, but the Church will not give us these information. And these official, verifiable numbers will help the Church show that it is going strong. Just show us the numbers, dear bishops.

Solita Monsod is right – the Church should stop playing ostrich (BTW read it for she has better numbers than I do). Instead of trumpeting numbers, the Church has to address the fact that members of its flock are thinking of leaving.

As for me, the reason people are thinking of leaving is that the clergy has become politicized. I know someone who has decided to leave the Church. The straw that broke the camel’s back? The Church’s use of the pulpit to denounce the RH law and its proponents. God knows how many Catholics like her have already made the decision to leave. Reports of dioceses calling pro-RH candidates as Team Patay, and a lay group forming the so called White Vote, will not help the Church retain its followers.

There are more reasons, and they deserve a separate discussion. Just to name a few: disgust over liturgical decay; resistance to top-down, centralized governance; Church doctrine that are out of touch with reality (contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage, ordination of women, optional celibacy).


Why I am not voting for Nancy Binay


No one questions Nancy Binay’s qualification to run as a senator. The question is whether Binay is qualified to be a senator. That single question must have hurt Nancy Binay so badly that her only retort is for her critics to file a disqualification case against her in Comelec. If this is the quality of thinking that she is bringing to the table, then as voters it is our duty to refuse her offering by not voting for her this May.

An employer, in seeking a new employee, conducts due diligence by investigating the background of the prospective employee. It is the same for us voters.

Her resume is unimpressive. She has no experience in private and public enterprise that can show she can handle the job of a senator. Her only exposure in government is being her father, Jejomar Binay’s, personal assistant. In terms of experience, it would have been logical if Binay fielded his other, more experienced children Junjun and Abigail. (Then again, as I have said before, Nancy’s campaign is dry run for her father’s 2016 bid for the presidency.) Heck, a three-term councilor would have been more than qualified compared to Nancy.

If an employer considers a candidate even if the resume is unimpressive, the employer may interview the applicant. For us voters, one way we can learn about a candidate’s thoughts, plans, and vision is by watching him speak in a debate or a forum. Unfortunately, Nancy Binay would not indulge us. Risa Hontiveros, one of the better candidates with something to show in her government work, said she is ready to exchange opinions with Binay in a debate; Binay chose to campaign instead, she just doesn’t have time, she said. Yes, it is like a job applicant telling the employer to shove it up his ass.

Her obstinate refusal to debate and her ominous absence in TV forums are, for me, signs that she is afraid that her unfitness to be a senator would show. The irony here is that a senator must be ready to engage in a debate in the Senate floor, and here we have a candidate who wants to be a senator but is afraid of engaging in a debate! It’s like a cadet aspiring to be a soldier but afraid to shoot a gun.

Why I am not voting for Nancy Binay? One, she is not qualified to be a senator since she doesn’t have the experience that will show she can handle the task. Two, she refuses to share to us her platform and vision, and refuses to engage with other candidates in a debate.

Third, her stand on some issues are not compatible with mine:

* She is against the RH law, her objection being of budgetary concerns:

“I have an issue with the budgetary requirements of the bill, the budget to buy contraceptives. A 4-year-old child died of meningococcemia which is preventable through immunization. Why can’t we allot a bigger budget for immunization, day care centers?”

Which only shows her ignorance of law making, because if that’s her concern, the answer to her question is to increase the Department of Health’s budget on immunization. Besides, most of the functions of the DOH are already devolved to the local government units. She should ask her brother Junjun and her sister Abigail – they should know.

* She sees nothing wrong with political dynasties. But of course. No.

* She is for the anti cybercrime law.

* She is against same sex marriage.

But the ultimate reason why I am not voting for her: arrogance. She is relying on the name, popularity, and extensive campaign network of his father, thereby excusing her (she thinks) from telling us voters why she deserves our vote. She is qualified to be a senator because not only she is a Binay (it’s a birth right, and it’s her edge against the other candidates, says the daddy), her father tells us so. Jojo Binay even compared Nancy to Margaret Thatcher, so his daughter is very much qualified. All these show that the Binays are too sure and too full of themselves.

And that, my friends, is why I am not voting for her.

She’ll dance, she’ll wave, she’ll throw Binay candies and t-shirts and fans; she won’t talk because if she opens her mouth her ignorance will be discovered.


Kristell Lim at Ozinefest 2013

Kristell Lim is one of the well known cosplayers in the Philippines. She’s been declared recently by dolldelight as their model for the Philippines, as voted by Facebook fans. If you ask me, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Just look at her!


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.


How do you explain Nancy Binay?

Many are perplexed by the consistency of Nancy Binay’s popularity as evidenced by several survey results. A virtual unknown prior to the start of the campaign, she was in the top 12 of SWS and Pulse Asia (PDF) surveys way before the start of filing of candidacies. Why?

Is it because she is a Binay? Partly, but how do you explain Jackie Enrile’s sliding survey numbers? Enrile used to rate highly but during the campaign his numbers slid. I think the people thought before the campaign started that it was the senior Enrile who’s going to run. It is also possible that Jackie’s numbers were affected by his father’s drop in satisfaction survey ratings in the aftermath of the MOEE issue in the Senate.

On the other hand, the elder Binay’s survey numbers are impressive, and in fact, even better than the President’s. These figures surely won’t hurt Nancy’s chances, and may even help come May 13. So her being a Binay is plausible.

Jejomar Binay’s extensive network must be a factor as well. Just look at the number of Makati’s sister cities in the Philippines. Also, the position of Vice President is perfect for campaigning, and anecdotes like Binay helping other municipalities when he was stil mayor of Makati are not uncommon. I believe this extensive network is now working, as evidenced by the survey results. This network is just a test and a dry run to Jojo Binay’s eventual run for the presidency in 2016.