Thursday, March 31, 2011

Send SMS within the Philippines with Gmail

Chatting using the computer has been around for some time now. This technology has allowed people to communicate without having to pick up a phone or call/text using a mobile phone. The drawback though was that both parties had to be online and both had to be on Gmail.

Now, Gmail makes it even easier to contact friends via their mobile phones. You can send FREE SMS to a friend from within your Gmail account.

I took this screencap from Gmail's site:

(click on image to enlarge)

1. Log into your Gmail account. In the Send SMS box above Chat, enter the phone number you want to send a SMS to.

2. In the dialog box, enter Contact name of the SMS recipient and check that country and phone number are correct. Then, click Save.

3.Type your message in the chat window and hit Enter.

4.Your message will be sent to the phone number you entered.

When your contact replies to your SMS, it appears on your Chat window, which is great because your exchange is saved as chats in your Chat History, just like ordinary chats.

Any messages you send or receive from Gmail are FREE. Your contact, on a mobile phone, also gets your SMS free but the reply from phone to Gmail will be charged a regular SMS rate by the mobile provider.

This is good news for those who are online at work or at home. Best example: ME!!!

Now I need not pay SMS charges and still be able to contact my family and friends on their mobile. You can do the same from work. Well, that is if Gmail is not blocked in the office. :-)

If you already have a Gmail account, you can log in right now and try it. If you still don't have Gmail, create an account now.

NOTE: SMS with Gmail is available as of now only for Smart and Sun Cellular subscribers.

Read about Gmail SMS HERE.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beach Hut's SPF covers you 100% this summer!

School's out and summer is in!!!

If you're hitting the beaches, better be ready for all that sun exposure with a bottle or two of sunblock in your bag.

Me? I'm 100% ready for all that sun because this box brought me all the sun protection that my kids and I will need this summer. And it's good from face to toe...

I was excited just seeing the Beach Hut box because I knew it would contain sunblock. But what kind of sunblock did they have this time?

Just as a background, I use sunblock every day on top of my facial moisturizer. I am more conscious of applying this because with age, skin gets easily damaged by the sun's rays and the damage is oftentimes irreversible. When I am indoors, I can go as low as SPF 15 but if I know I will be stepping out of the house, I use my SPF45 sunblock. In fact, I've got an unopened sunblock with SPF65. And really, summers these past years have been pretty bad!

Opening the Beach Hut box, I got the biggest surprise because this was what was inside:

Yes, my kids are the ones who will go wild using the frisbee and the waterproof camera. Me? I'm more excited to use the two sunblocks that came with the box. 

Beach Hut Max 100

The highest SPF I have ever seen is SPF 75, which Beach Hut also has. Now, they're the first to be brave enough to announce an SPF 100! Wow.

This is what Beach Hut's website says about their SPF 100 product:
It’s here! Experience extreme high spf protection without the messy and oily feel like other lotion sunblock. Beach Hut Max SPF 100++ w/ micronized zinc oxide is uber light on skin, quick drying, and gives you that non messy, non sticky sheer feeling while offering up to 99% maximum protection from UVA/UVB rays that causes sunburn, skin cancer and skin darkening. This summer, don’t settle for anything less than 100, get the new Beach hut Max 100 unbelievably light lotion sunblock.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Allies Wonder Peanuts: Loaded with garlic, not with calories

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Although my doctor has told me to stay away from nuts because of my kidney stone history, it is really a very hard thing to do. You see, I super love nuts. Macadamia, pistachio, walnuts, almonds, cashew or plain peanuts. I love them all. And when it comes to peanuts, I always look for the brands that carry lots and lots of garlic. I can actually eat those crunchy garlic chips alone, I think.

There's a new line of peanuts in town. Dear friends Fran and Paul, who are also my neighbors, are behind Allies Wonder Peanuts, a line of greaseless, low calorie, garlic-loaded peanuts.

Here, take a look at the peanuts up close when I opened my container:

Ooooohhhh, it was really addicting. Generous helpings of garlic chips were all over the container and they were very crunchy and garlic-ky. The peanuts were very tasty and indeed greaseless so that's why it carries less calories. I can indulge as it is more healthy than peanuts cooked in oil. Yup, I violated my diet restriction many times over but I just couldn't help it.

For information on where to find Allies Wonder Peanuts, contact Paul at (0917) 538-8125.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Smart Bro's Broadbandest Blowout is here!

Shortly after the recent Japan quake struck, our internet connection began to suffer. When I say suffer, I mean really painful, tortuous suffering. You see, we have a 3Mbps plan with this broadband company and even if I had my entire brood online, we never had serious problems with speed. As an active blogger, I could still happily surf the net for my writing tasks while keeping up with my social network contacts. My kids could still do research for their academic requirements while watching YouTube videos.

But up to this time, we are lucky to get even a 1Mbps speed constantly during the day. At night, when everyone is online, our internet speed would drop to dial-up speeds (as slow as 0.12 Mbps). I've not had speeds like that since maybe the early 2000's! And to top it all, there was one day this week when our internet connection totally conked out! What was I to do?

Guess what saved the day, at least for me -- my SmartBro dongle!!!

I topped up my prepaid SmartBro number with enough load and subscribed to UNLISURF50. That gave me unlimited internet connection for one whole day!

This really got me thinking that subscribing to just one broadband carrier may no longer be sufficient. There is a need for a backup carrier. The kids and I cannot afford to have the internet down because my work is primarily online and they have a lot of schoolwork online too. And truthfully, I think we will all have withdrawal symptoms if we go without the internet even for just one day. Hahaha...

Now is the time to seriously look at what could be Smart Bro's grandest, biggest bang-for-the-bucks broadband blowout. 

Smart Bro's Unlimited Home Broadband Plan is available for either Php 999 or Php 1995. And that's not all. You get the following ABSOLUTELY FREE just for subscribing to either of these two plans:

1. FREE All-in-One HP Printer 
2. FREE Call & Texts with SMART Gold Lite Plan 300 for 6 months subscription
3. FREE 1-month broadband subscription

You get consistent and stable surfing speed, unlimited internet connection and all these freebies to boot!

This summer, I'm seriously going to look at these unlimited broadband plans. My kids and I have come to depend so much on internet connection that we really cannot afford to do without it on a daily basis. The kind of unexpected disaster wrought by the Japan quake tells me that it is always good to have alternatives. Smart Bro gave me the internet connection I needed when my other broadband carrier failed to deliver. I think it will continue to come to our rescue down the road.

That is a big thumbs-up for me!

If you are like me, an avid internet user, and most of all, if you've got internet-savvy kids who will climb the wall if the internet is disrupted even for a few hours, you need to look at Smart Bro's summer promo and avail of the cool freebies. I bet you need that HP printer like I do to replace my 3-year old HP inkjet printer.

Check out Smart Bro's Broadbandest Blowout. This promo runs from March 4 to June 4, 2011. You can find additional details on this promo at the Smart website. Just click HERE.

Per DTI-NCR Permit No. 1871, Series of 2011.

(Note this serves as my entry to Smart Bro's Broadbandest Blowout blogger contest.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yoshinoya's Seafood Menu for Lent

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Yoshinoya is known as the place for Gyudon, Teriyaki, Katsudon and those other familiar Japanese dishes including their Bento meals. They now have over 1,200 outlets worldwide including countries like Japan, USA, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines. They used to have a branch in the Greenhills Shopping Center but that closed down, to my disappointment. On the bright side, their other branches are in malls that I frequent so I still have a chance to try their dishes.

For the entire Lenten period, Yoshinoya developed two seafood dishes. They had tied up with Century Bangus (Emerging Business Unit of Century Pacific Group) to create Bangus Kabayaki and Shrimp Katsu.

First, a little bit on the Century Bangus. The bangus are cultured in the pure waters of southern Mindanao. Unlike other bangus suppliers who grow bangus in ponds with stagnant water, Century Bangus fingerlings are kept in seawater cages that are suspended over the sea. Not only are the fingerlings kept in their natural habitat so that they grow fuller and meatier but the constant replacement and flow of sea water prevents that muddy taste you sometimes detect in bangus.

I tried the Bangus Kabayaki first and immediately loved it. At first glance, it actually looked like a meat dish because of its dark color. The Century Bangus' premium belly, the best part of the bangus, is specifically chosen for this dish. It is lightly breaded, deep-fried and thoroughly drenched in Kayabaki sauce, making every spoonful tasty. This dish is served up with beansprout over the rice. I really loved this dish and will order this on my next Yoshinoya visit.

Bangus Kabayaki (Php 140)

MacUpdate Promo: Mac App Bundle for $49.99 Only

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MacUpdate is a website where Mac applications are offered at discounts for limited periods of time. Once in a while, they have a huge promo where they bundle several apps and slash prices significantly. Now is one of those times.

For only $49.99, you can get 10 highly-rated Mac applications (you get an additional app if you are one of the first 15,000 buyers). The total value of these apps at retail price is $381. Steal?

Well, I have 1Password Pro on my iPad. I had been on the lookout for a promo on the Mac version so I could sync both. The retail value of 1Password for the Mac is already $39 so getting at least 10 apps for $49.99 is already a great deal for me.

For $49.99, here's what you get:

1. Parallels Desktop 6  for Mac - seamlessly run both Windows and Mac OS X applications side-by-side without rebooting. Requirements: Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.5.2 or later. SRP: $79

2. 1Password - a password manager where you can keep not just passwords but software license keys, bank account info, credit card info, and other personal info. Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or later. SRP: $39

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Azur: Clothing line for young men

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Yes, it's that time of the year again - Junior Prom, Senior Ball and Graduation.

Our youngest boy will be having his prom this coming weekend. Since he prefers loose jeans and shirts, we really had nothing in his wardrobe that qualified as prom material. So off to the mall we went.

After checking out the brand I thought would have a lot of possibilities, we found that colors he was inclined to were no longer available in his size. Upon looking around the area, we chanced upon a new clothing line that caught my eye - Azur.

Luck of all lucks, the two designers behind Azur were visiting the Crossings branch. They gamely assisted me and my son and helped him pick out his prom attire.

Now, I would have posted my son's attire here but he's quite shy about it so let me just go with some other pics I took from Azur.

The two designers behind Azur are Charles Cua and Melchor Guinto. They told me that they choose materials carefully to ensure the utmost comfort when these are worn. Their style is inspired from what's fashionable in the European circuit but they tweak the designs to put in their own styles.

Melchor showed me some suits he personally designed. According to him, the collars of these suits are his personal design and he'd know if anyone else copied these.

Azur is also trying to bring back some fashion trends. Melchor told me they are trying to revive the use of suspenders (cool!). And he showed me the bowtie that they are now offering with their shirts. He says it's not that difficult to tie. And besides, there's YouTube daw. Hahahaha...

The bowtie...untied
Their shirts and pants are reasonably priced, to my mind. We got my son's shirt for only P1,499. And Charles and Melchor said that that is the price of just about everything in their clothing line. For young men or for those who are just beginning to work, who want to look good but don't want to pay hefty prices, Azur is definitely a place to check out.

Azur can be found at the Marquee Mall (Pampanga), Landmark Trinoma, Crossings EDSA Shangri-la and The Ramp Glorietta.

Check them out too at the next Fashion Week.

HiSense Launches Bluetooth Headsets


Despite the ordinance in some cities in the Metro banning the use of mobile phones while driving, I can still see so many people using their mobile phoes while on the road.

That is just one of the risks and inconveniences that bluetooth headsets are addressing. Hands-free mobile phone conversations reduce the risk of car accidents as you can keep your eyes on the road and both your hands on the steering wheel while talking.

But other than that, there are other advantages of using bluetooth headsets. You never have to miss that important call even when on a treadmill or fitness machine at the gym. For women, you could even be getting a manicure while chatting with your best friend on the phone. Or imagine yourself whipping up meals in your kitchen and still being able to talk on the phone while both hands are stirring the pan. I can think of more things you can do hands-free.

We are familiar with that other brand of Bluetooth headsets for mobile phones, Now, there's a new line of Bluetooth headsets from HiSense, a company that started out in China in 1969 as a small radio factory but which has now grown into a multibillion-dollar global conglomerate worldwide. Their Bluetooth mobile accessories range from multipoint mono Bluetooth headsets to stereo Bluetooth headsets to solar-powered hands-free car kits and portable solar-powered chargers. Their mono headsets and car kits can actually pair up to eight mobile devices while allowing the user to connect with two phones simultaneously, even if these two are with different network carriers.

The HB200 Mini and Slim Headsets

These two slim and compact headsets feature the Multi-Point Connection, allowing the user to connect two mobile phones (even from different carriers) at the same time. A new feature of this one compared to other brands is the magnetic clip that you can use as a tie clip or, with the provided lanyard, hang it around your neck. You'll never lose or misplace your headset. An optional ear hook is also provided. Both have 5.5 hours talk time, 150 hours standby time. SRP for both models: Php 1,950.

The HB400C Headset

This is the headset for music lovers because now you can stream your favorite music tracks in stereo sound with ease. It is wearable as a necklace, making it great for an active lifestyle. This has 6 hours of talk or play time and 160 hours standby time. SRP: Php 2,950.