Wednesday, January 26, 2011


My wife tells me that I write better when the topic is politics as opposed to my last article describing my Las Vegas stranding and my corresponding luck.

So here I am writing again about politics which also means listening to and discussing with my barber who has always given me the closest thing to a public pulse.

Last night President Barack Obama delivered his second State of the Union address. My barber and I listened to it with utmost interest and great expectations. Expectedly, the delivery was excellent, inspiring and of course, devoid of too many details. After all, if the devil is in the details, there is no better way than to avoid it.

I like the speech. First of all, it reiterates our democratic beliefs as a nation. Ours is a robust one and that despite our differences, “the noise and rancor of our public debate…. in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people.” That America is the “first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -- the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.“ And as the American people wanted, Republicans and Democrats would and should work together.

Secondly, also as expected of an inspiring and optimistic leader, President Obama described the State of the Union as “poised for progress…..the stock market has come roaring back……Corporate profits are up….The economy is growing again.” As a result of the tax cuts and of both Democrats and Republicans working together, “Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of new investments that they make this year….will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.”

But he could not divorce himself from the reality that the unemployment

rate is still high and that more jobs have to be created. Because  the budget

deficit is too large and the sovereign debts too high, we now see the need for

greater reduction programs.
He also recognized that the world has changed. And that change has inflicted pain which he saw “in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets…in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.”

Thirdly, the speech. in bringing forth the reality that both the State of the Union and of the World have changed,  proposed specific steps to meet the challenges of today and fulfilling our obligations to “win the future.”

“Winning the Future” is a phrase I first encountered during the tenure of former Philippine President Fidel Ramos who also incorporated it into one of his speeches and used it as the title of one his books. I  know this because I was part of the law and lobby firm that represented the interests of the Philippines and of the Ramos government at the time.

Yes, indeed! It is all about winning the future. I like President Obama’s action steps for an effective and efficient strategy to beat the competition: “Out-Innovate, Out-Educate and Out-Build.”

Innovation and new revolutionary technologies have had exponential effects in our socio-economic and political lives. Indeed, they “have transformed the way we live, work and do business.”

Drawing from the past, President Obama suggested our own generation “Sputnik Moment” – a moment when we surpassed Russia in reaching the moon by investing in better research and innovation. He says, “We'll
invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially
clean energy technology -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

I am a proud descendant of a School Principal (my mother) and a School District Supervisor (my father), and a member of a clan (Gal-lang Maynigo) that produced over a hundred teachers.  I also have a graduate degree in education to go with  my background in philosophy, business and law. That’s why for me, the best part of President Obama’s speech is his recognition of the role of education and teachers in his drive to win the future.

He says, “In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders."
Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our
children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math. In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child -- become a teacher. Your country needs you.”

To out-build the competition, President Obama wants us to achieve, among others, the following goals: 1) Give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years; 2) Provide next generation high speed wireless coverage within five years; 3) By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity should come from clean energy sources.

My teacher-parents used to quote to me very often an Asian philosopher who said, “if you want to plan for a year, plant corn; if you want to plan for 30 years, plant a tree; if you want to plan for 100 years or more, plant men.”

President Obama’s speech was about “winning the future”. To achieve it, “plant men and women” we must!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I always believed, and I even wrote about this,  that it would take a magic wand or a miracle to make a major change in one's political, economic and social life both in style and substance, I also said that the closest thing to magic and miracle would be what I called "mind-boggling technologies."

This is why I like attending conventions, shows and exhibits like the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is to witness the new products, technologies and discoveries that will affect people's lives being demonstrated and exhibited. They are as I described, "little miracles" on earth.
Counted as one of the 140,000 industry professionals attending and living witnesses to these "little miracles", I was indeed lucky to  be able to take advantage of this opportunity annually for many years. Only a stroke that paralyzed half of my body and the retirement of Bill Gates somehow de-motivated me from attending. Having recovered and now following the works of Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt in the technology fields, I am back going to these conferences of “miracle workers”.

I will be writing more about these “little miracles” in the immediate future but I would like to focus first on something that brought me blessing and luck. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I only prayed for a little bread but instead, from  a classmate Elvie and her husband Jun Sicam, a town mate (Herman Caoile and spouse), relatives (George, Raul & Consuelo Gorospe & spouses/sweethearts) and business associates, I was offered ALL YOU CAN EAT (Japanese, Filipino, and American – Prime Rib Steak, Pork Ribs, Seafood, Vegetables, Fruits) at different times daily. How LUCKY could one get?

“Lead us not into temptation” is also from the Lord’s Prayer. Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and also famous for being a “sin city”. None believe me, not one even dared to “lead me into temptation.” The closest thing to what could be described as biblical sin or succumbing to temptation is my eating “apples” ala Adam and bananas ala Eva prior to the major meals of which I partook  as little as I could, relatively speaking.

As I wrote in my FB status update while in Las Vegas, I was stranded because my flight was cancelled due to the snow storm in the East Coast.  A friend on Facebook described it as a “blessing in disguise” and I “should not come back to this frigid place”. Many Facebook friends advised me to make the most of it and enjoy. Of course, one made sure that I should go to the gym regularly, another reminded me of the food that I should avoid, also one warned me of gaining weight, and most importantly, “bring home winnings”.

I have always considered myself the luckiest man on earth having married a very beautiful, loving, very smart and the nicest woman on this planet. I have also been gifted with great loving children who always shower me with nice and useful presents during Father’s Day and on my birthday. Coupled with great loving friends and relatives everywhere, I am what you would call “LUCKY IN LOVE”.

Making the most of it, I really did. When in Las Vegas, entertainment also means playing the cards or other forms of gambling. I decided to try my luck also in this field. So I went around the casino tables and stopped at one table playing the 3-Card Poker. To win against the dealer, you play your 3 cards against those of the dealer. To play for the bonus which includes the jackpot amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, you use your 3 cards and the 2 cards on the table. To win the total jackpot, you must have a Royal Straight Flush. To win 10% you must have a Straight Flush.
I observed first, studying the odds and the 3 players on the table; a Chinese and 2 Mexican Americans. As I watched, I noticed that the Mexican had  a Full House and won  $300 in one deal. Then, a couple of deals later, the Chinese also had a Full House and won $300. So I thought that this table was a lucky table for players.  I decided to sit down and play. After a few deals netting me over a hundred dollars, the “LUCK BEYOND LOVE” finally came. First, I got 4, 7 & 8 of the same suit as my 3 cards which means a Flush and based on the odds was already a winner. Then the 2 cards were shown on the table – 5 & 6 also of the same suit as my 4, 7 & 8. It was a Straight Flush.  Then there was shouting and cheering not just in our table but also in the neighboring tables. The winnings, after tipping the dealer who looked Ilocano and the other 3 players, was not much but certainly enough to pay for all the expenses incurred during my trip including my extended stay and for watching the Terry Fator (America’s Got Talent Champion) Show, for me to buy some of the “miracle devices” and partly pay off my credit cards.  There was a little red tape. I had to sign some IRS forms, I was given a W2-G doc for the withholding (25%), an Official Winner Certificate and an invitation to the Annual 3-Card Poker Championship this coming spring with 3 nights comp.

Do you think my luck stopped there? First, I found out that my wife’s stocks of MGM which owned Circus, Circus Hotel where I stayed and The Mirage where I saw the Terry Fator Show, was up significantly since she purchased them . Second, despite my willingness to pay for more leg room, I was given by Jet Blue 1st row seats (longest leg room) without additional fee on my way back to Washington, D.C.

As somebody said, “You may not get everything that you want. But sometimes, it is preferred that you get what you need.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

“Library in Your Pocket, Knowledge at Your Fingertips”

I am still in Las Vegas, Nevada after attending the International Consumer Electronics Show.  I am stranded here because my flight was cancelled due to the snow storm in the east coast.  Instead of writing my article on the plane as I had planned, I am writing it in my hotel room. 
                                               BGM photo taken from Kodak 3D Camera

The topic is obviously the show.  According to the preliminary release of CEA which organized the event, there were 140,000 of us industry professionals who attended and 30,000 were overseas visitors representing 130 countries. I understand that more than 2,700 technology companies were represented either launching, exhibiting, demonstrating and/or seeking potential distributors. Many were also looking for new products or technologies to distribute or resell.

CEOs of some of the big technology companies like Microsoft, Samsung, Cisco and 19 others gave keynote speeches.  There were thousands of tweeters, bloggers, columnists, reporters from mainstream media as well as status updaters from social media.

I could have tweeted, blogged, reported and updated on real time but I decided to utilize my limited time visiting the booths, attending the summits, exchanging views and witnessing the demos by so many young techies.

There were 80 tablets launched during the show. That’s about twice the number of tablets of medication I had to bring for the entire period.  While my tablets target my heart and my brain to prevent an attack or stroke, the new tablets launched at CES were all battling for the hearts and minds of the consumers.

Those on display were mostly Google’s Android-based tablets as manufacturers of new products using the former’s operating system were dominant.  While Windows 7-based tablets were ably represented by Lenovo’s IdeaPad, Microsoft’s presence was more felt in the gaming field with its popular Xbox Kinect and the Windows 7 phone.

These new tablets were obviously developed and launched to compete against the very popular IPAD of Apple which was not in the show formally.  Its presence, however, was felt due to the iPhones and IPADs that many of the attendees were holding while walking around the pavilions.  I also noticed that, in the iLounge Pavilion, many of the international exhibitors were selling Apple accessories. Noticeable there was the sign, “WE’VE GOT YOU (referring to IPAD and IPHONE) COVERED (referring to the cases or covers being sold).”

Based on what  was demonstrated, I believe the Battle of the Tablets will go down to Blackberry’s Playbook,  Motorola’s Xoom which has the Android 3.O (Honeycomb), Windows 7’s IdeaPad by Lenovo and of course, the IPAD 2 of Apple which will also have two cameras.
Lenovo's IdeaPad
Blackberry's Playbook
Motorola's Xoom
 They are all good products.  In fact, I would like to have all of them. As I mentioned above, this is really a battle for the hearts and minds of the consuming public. At the CES, the attendees were the industry professionals who would easily understand the features and functionalities of the gadgets. They do not necessarily have the same characteristics as the consuming public. At the CES, the products are demonstrated and their functionalities explained and exhibited by experts and/or digital natives.

The consumers need nurturing, educating and servicing. A daily mini CES for each of the technology companies promoting and distributing the above-mentioned devices are necessary to capture the market. This is where I think Apple and its products have a distinctive advantage. You go to an Apple store and you are always attended to by Apple experts who can diagnose and solve any problem that you encounter with your device. Most importantly, there are Apple stores everywhere.

I do not see a similar case with respect to the other devices. Unless they come up with a similar service-oriented network, the consumers will continue to love and patronize Apple products and technologies.

As a content provider creating electronic libraries for all these mobile devices, I spent some time going around meeting the experts of these gadgets with a uniform query.  Does your smart phone or tablet have an offline search engine? While each one has an online search engine, none seems to have one offline.

Google has a Desktop Search Engine which could search all the contents of a desktop.  Windows PCs also have a search engine that could find anything that is inside the PC or even the external hard drives connected to it. Yet, their smart phones and tablets still do not have such a feature. The common answer was that they will refer my suggestion to management.

“Library in your pocket, knowledge at your finger tips,” we used to describe the eBookMan which is the predecessor of the Amazon Kindle. My company was licensed to manufacture and exclusively distribute it in the Philippines. For lawyers, we put all the Philippine Laws and the Supreme Court decisions in the device through an expanded memory card. We used to the tell the lawyers, law students and others who have them, “You can now take the law into your own hands.”

These new mobile devices are handheld and have become smaller, cheaper and more powerful. As we put contents into them, we would like to be able to search these contents offline and fast, hence my query.

I attended several summits including the Last Gadget Standing, The 10 Best Mobile Apps and the Silver Summit which was for Baby Boomers like me. I participated in choosing the winners in the first two.  I visited several booths and had discussions with some technology executives.  I tested some products which were given to me for free.

I intend to write my impressions about them in subsequent articles.  Many of the devices, technologies and software in the field of health and medicine, transportation, communications and entertainment are now affecting the lives of millions of people and will continue to do so in the future.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


By the time you read this article, I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada attending the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES). This is the world’s largest show where the latest and emerging technologies are launched, exhibited, demonstrated, explored, examined, and reviewed. It “represents the crossroad where technology is the thread that binds many disparate interests.” As stated in its web site the goal of CES is “to gather the “passionistas” from different high tech lifestyles to exchange ideas.”

I intend to take advantage of this large gathering which I am sure would affect the lives of all living beings on earth not only presently but most especially the immediate and mediate future. I hope to collect, absorb, filter, store and organize for easy retrieval data, information, intelligence and knowledge as I have done for years when in attendance.

The world’s biggest IT and electronic companies are expected to be represented except Apple, Inc. which may be absent physically but overwhelmingly present virtually. Indeed, many new products were developed and now being launched as reactions to Apple  products such as the IPAD, IPHONE, IPOD TOUCH and their corresponding applications. I hope to be able draw an intelligent comparison between and among these new products. I understand that  Microsoft Windows 7-based gadgets and those of Google’s Android / Droid will have a strong presence and  some special surprises will be unveiled. A battle of tablets and smart phones are in the offing!

“There is nothing in the intellect that is not first in the senses,” says a scholastic dictum. I expect to gain substantial knowledge which is in the intellect. That’s why I see the need to go and see, touch, smell, taste and/or hear all about these products.  After the conference I expect to have gained knowledge which would be available at my finger tips. I am bringing with me my portable and mobile devices whose applications would easily allow me to retrieve knowledge I already have, acquire knowledge I still do not have, store and organize what I expect to procure and absorb. My hand-held business card scanner would immediately store the contact information collected. My portable hand-held scanner would immediately digitize accumulated bulky documents gathered. My MacBook Pro which also has Windows 7 and Windows XP will give me access not only to my offline data but also to the Internet through Wi Fi and broadband connection.  My sling media connection will also allow me to access all my favorite tv shows at home even though I am away. Being in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world, and the fact that the Pornographers’ Convention is also held at the same time  also at the Strip where I am staying, would probably redirect the attention of many of the attendees. I will exert extra effort to avoid unnecessary distractions. J

Aside from exploring the  many exhibits, I will also attend most, if not all, of the summits. This is a consumer show. It targets consumers from all walks of life: the kids, the moms, and the baby boomers. Many of the technologies are health, fitness and higher education related. Attendees in the summits are encouraged to participate and exchange views. New market trends or demands would most likely be created and the new products and / or technologies would hopefully create their own demand.

The Mobile Applications Showdown and the Last Gadget Standing summits would showcase some of the best among the best of both software and hardware. These are two showdowns which attendees like me would like to witness, be exposed to, and experience.

Among the finalists in the Mobile Apps Showdown are: 1. 2.0, an app that aims to protect drivers from their own text-hungry fingers; 2. IDEAL Item ID, a free, open source, talking barcode reader and barcode maker that allows the visually impaired to identify things; 3. Line2, which adds a second number to your iPhone or Android phone; 4. ooVoo Multiparty Mobile Video Chat, a video chat service with both video and voice calling that can accommodate up to six people; 5. Pageonce Personal Finance, which allows you to stay atop many of your personal finance accounts and all from a single place; 6. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, a full-featured productivity suite to view and edit; 7. Twonky Mobile, streams personal and online media from your Android phone to any Web-connected gadget or device;  8. SwiftKey, one of the smartest and swiftest predictive keyboards we’ve seen for a mobile device; 9. WebMD Mobile, which brings to the Smartphone the medical resource site’s top tools, including its Symptom Checker, a comprehensive drug, supplement and vitamin treatment database, and essential first aid information. Another one will be announced during the summit.

In the Last Gadget Standing showdown, the finalists include: Acer’s Iconia two-screen notebook; Barnes &Noble’s Nookcolor e-reader; Fujifilm’s Finepix Real 3D W3 camera;  Google and Samsung’s Nexus S smartphone; Loocie’s wearable camcorder;  Sifteo Cubes digital blocks; Sonomax’s Soundcage headphones; Fujitsu’s Skinniest ScanSnap Scanner;  Intel’s Potent New Platform. A still undisclosed special surprise gadget will be announced at the summit. 

In the Digital Health Summit, I hope to see advances in diagnosing and battling of disease as well as a new generation of high-tech healthcare products and services.  They are  advertised as “being the catalyst for better managed healthcare, patient/doctor communication, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time, lowered costs for health insurance, early prevention and detection, digital patient information records, medical attention over distances, and so much more.”

In this field, we are expected to see the following: Telehealth Systems; Therapeutic & Diagnostic Medical Devices; Remote Monitoring Devices; Mobile Health Applications; Secured Wireless Communication Medical Devices; Medication Monitoring Equipment; Mobile Health Devices; Robotic Prosthetics; Personal Health Record; Communications Networks; and Telemedicine Systems.

I belong to the generation of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). There are now 450 million of us worldwide (78 million are in the US) described as “hitting their peak earning and spending”. Like the kids and the moms who make most of the shopping decisions, we boomers are targeted consumers. That is the reason why there is a separate summit showcasing the products and services that keep boomers engaged, entertained and connected .

I am an educator so the HigherED Tech Summit also greatly interests me.
The Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg will give his unvarnished insights into where digital technology is heading at the summit. He co-edits the All Things Digital web site.

“No more pencils, no more books…” I expect to “peek inside a high tech backpack and see what today’s students take to college and what they will crave in the future.”

The role of technology in our economic and socio-political lives has become more significant than ever. Its effects are exponential and its impact are at times sudden. So we have to keep up  and  pay serious attention to every new development.

CES, this digital Boy Scout is all prepared for you. Here I come!