Long distance rates – a barometer of economic progress?

At a small Asian mall where I normally have my monthly haircut I saw a sign at a store window  : “ FREE OVERSEAS CALL – 30 MINUTES”. It was a promotion for a startup company competing in the VOIP ( Voice Over IP ) or voice over the internet space. The ad was true and you can call for free to any of the 20 countries the company covers under its unlimited overseas plan. Unfortunately, RP was not included in the list. I already got a sense that RP is a long shot, considering the ludcirous long distance rate it charges compared to other countries. I blogged about this issue in 2007 and things haven’t changed. After a couple of years, RP rates have just gone down a tad 2 cents per minute on the average, from 13 cents down to 11 cents. Pretty pathetic considering that other countries have opened up, making their countries accessible for business.

This company offers 9.9 cents per min for cell phone but 11.9 cents for landline. Still high. Moreover, businesses use landlines more than cell phones.  Very high compared to India, where the rate dropped from 7.9 cents to 1.9 cents over the last 2 years. Now this tells me that India is open for business. True to India’s reputation of being the world’s largest call center outsourcer, its cheap long distance rates certainly helps in promoting the business.   Contrast this with the high rates to RP  because  a clique of RP telecom carriers are playing their selfish game of enriching their treasure chests, trying to hold on to their monopolistic practices.  Blame the government for its lame policies, reneging on its mission to promote the interests of the country first, allowing itself to be manipulated by the powerful bigwigs of the telecom industry.  While the rest of the world are opening up and embracing deregulation, RP is acting only on the interests of  a  couple of telecom providers,  whose main mission is the preservation of their obscene profit margins and the systematic decimation of potential competitors.
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In a few days from now it will be Christmas Day and the usual excitement of the dinner with loved ones and friends is in the air. I’m one person who is more thrilled watching my loved ones open their gifts, seeing the joy in their faces. In these times of recession survey show that people would be spending less but that’s not what you feel when you visit the malls. Parties at the office are no longer the usual dinner dance at posh hotels. We had quite a few parties at the office but the one I most enjoyed was our departmental party where we took possession of our company cafeteria one late Friday afternoon and dined, drank, exchanged gifts and sang karaoke until our throats went dry. The highlight of our party was the spectacle of me and my two other Pinoy co-workers eating the balut. We made sure it was at dessert time and not during dinner so people could continue eating. 🙂 As expected, the reactions were mixed. Some were intrigued at how it tasted while others, reminiscent of that Fear Factor balut eating episode, were grossed out. A Caucasian colleague swore she would only eat it if it was a choice between having sex with King Kong. 😆

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What’s Your Time ?

Yesterday I was at a large mall in the most multi-cultural part of the city. You’d think you’re in Guyana if you come to this place on a Friday night I tell you 🙂 The place was packed with Christmas shoppers as well as parents who were lining up to get their kids a Christmas photo with Santa in his makeshift castle. Frankly, I disdain going to packed malls but had to go with the wifey and the daughter for our usual Friday night dine out . As I was sitting at a bench idling my time away as my wife and daughter were busy shopping, I noticed a woman approached the middle-aged African-Canadian man seated a bench away from me, politely ask ” what’s your time ?” The man spoke to her for a bit, surely more than telling the time so I guess, perhaps he just wanted to socialize 😉 Then about 15 minutes a young lad approached the man again asking the time and he spoke to the lad for a bit as if he was explaining something. Out of curiosity, I moved closer to the next bench, broke the ice and told the man ” tsk, tsk, some people are just too lazy to carry a watch eh ?” He replied “ I know but the time in my watch is African time and I don’t know what time it is here “ 🙂 LOL, no wonder. He then told me he was from Nigeria, visiting with his wife for 2 weeks and staying with her wife’s family in the city.

I don’t know about you but I change the time on my watch the moment to go to a place in a different time zone. I need to know the darn time where I am not where I came from ! I know some people abhor wearing watches. My former boss never carried a watch. He relied on his cell phone for the time. He was just uncomfortable wrapping some leather or metal around his wrist. But he wasn’t the type of guy who would go around asking people for the time. It’s one thing if you can’t afford a watch and another thing if you’re lazy to carry one. Being a watch freak myself – I have 21 clocks in my house – I am always tempted to answer a person asking for the time with the proverbial reply – “ it’s time to buy your own frigging watch pal ” 😆
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Do I Need a Netbook?


Do I need a Netbook?

My answer is a resounding YES. But I already have a laptop – why would I need at netbook ? Well, here’s a simple guide to differentiate a netbook from the traditional laptop. It may clear the cobwebs for most people.

I need a netbook because it is so darn easy to lug it around. The fact that my computer activity outside the office is 90% internet browsing, a netbook perfectly fits the bill for my need. Put a G3 wireless stick on it and you’re wired to perfection, totally mobile and internet ready. But more importantly , I need a netbook that works – fast, no disconnects, no freezing, no stalling and you know where I’m getting at – retrofitting the netbook’s brain with something that really works and that means discarding the fickle and overrated and Windows for the leaner and meaner Ubuntu operating system. I just bought a Dell mini 10v netbook with Ubuntu OS in lieu of Windows XP and saved 70 bucks in the process. Shipping was free and yes, I saved more money by not requiring anti-virus software. Since Ubuntu runs on Linux , it isn’t susceptible to viruses and although not totally immune, it is much harder for hackers to infiltrate and gain control of the system and inflict serious damage. Therefore I don’t have an anti-virus system twiddling its thumb in the background depleting my memory resources causing the system to stall and freeze.

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images_winIt is Thanksgiving long weekend here (Canadian) and it is customary for people to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with roast turkey dinner amongst family and friends. It is always a two day celebration for us – one with family and a potluck dinner with our closest friends. It’s that time of the year when I’d be bringing turkey sandwiches for office lunch the entire week. Yep, I’m that lead vulture in charge of recycling left over scraps from the fat bird 😉

It is also an opportune for me to be thankful for this blog being chosen as Best Pinoy Blog Abroad Award in the recently concluded PBA 2009 contest. I’ve always said before that I never won anything for free in my life. It seems that in anything I have won in the past, I had to break sweat. No raffle nor lottery wins for me. It always had to involve some decision making on my part. The fat lady never sings the blues nor smiles in my direction and I have admitted this to be my fate until the next 7,000 year polar reversal cycle completes and reboots our planet 🙂 I have to greatly thank the blog friends who nominated me – yes, there’s more than one of them and I had to accept only once 😉 I also like to thank my blog friends who I rub elbows in cyberspace almost everyday, some of whom have been with me for many years, others since the inception of this blog. I greatly value your friendship.

The irony is, since I am blogging anonymously, a handful of people and I mean it literally – not more than a 5 finger count – know my true identity, name and face alike. Therefore I take this accolade and gloat literally under my hat coz I am not prepared to go gung-ho with bragadoccio and take the 5 people out to a Carribean cruise 🙂

I’ve always said before that this blog is never about me but my thoughts and I strive to endeavor to express them as they are and I hope, without getting obnoxious. The greatest thing about the virtual world of cyberspace is you can experience that seemingly limitless freedom of virtual existence and at the same time achieve virtual greatness. The last time I verified the definition of “gloat” in the dictionary I got this : gloat – to look at or think about with great or excessive, often smug or malicious, satisfaction… hahaha. I would be cautious to use this word in the real world next time. For now it’s fine. I’m ready to face the charges for virtual gloating 🙂

turkey05Thanksgiving is a time to recognize that God has put a smile upon our faces each passing day. We say ‘thanks’ for the most precious gifts in our lives – our family, friends and loved ones.