Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Saturday, October 06, 2007

GSIS saves P500M annually with eCard Plus

THE Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is saving P400-P500 million a year in printing cost by scrapping the check disbursement system for loan proceeds and pension benefits and instead crediting them electronically to the eCard Plus.

GSIS President and General Manager Winston F. Garcia explained that by freeing itself from printing around 8-10 million checks every year, with printing and mailing costing around P50 each check, the GSIS can use the savings to fund other projects and programs for its members.

The pension fund approves around P60 billion in loans and claims every year.

“All of them (loans and claims), we used to disburse in checks. If half of these checks are cashed through rediscounting, and the rediscounting is 5-10 percent of the value of the check, that’s easily P3 billion of money lost to these discounters of checks,” Garcia said.

The GSIS chief said there will still be complaints against the eCard system despite the benefits it brings.

“There will always be complaints because when you implement change, there’s always a resistance to change. A lot of people got used to the inefficient ways of the past. Some even profited from the inefficient ways of the past,” he said. “What people should realize is the delivery (of loan proceeds and pension benefits) is more efficient through the eCard because instead of waiting for weeks or months for the checks to be mailed, the money is credited electronically to the ATM account of their eCard Plus. Once it is credited, they can immediately withdraw it from any ATM.”

Aside from serving as an ATM card, the eCard Plus also serves as an official GSIS ID card, debit card, hospitalization discount card in select partner-hospitals in the Philippines under the GSIS Hospitalization Support Program and most importantly, provides access to the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System or G-W@PS kiosk.

Working in synergy, the eCard Plus and the G-W@PS kiosk serve as a virtual GSIS office wherein members can check their records in seconds and apply for loans in mere minutes, such as the P10,000-Cash Advance and the Consolidated Loan.

On the other hand, pensioners can use the eCard Plus and the G-W@PS kiosk to renew their active status during their birth month, thus ensuring the continuous receipt of their monthly pension benefits.

As of September 7, 1,108,464 active members have already enrolled to the eCard Plus out of a total membership base of 1,366,000.

On the other hand, 110,459 old-age pensioners have enrolled to the eCard Plus out of 145,210 total old-age pensioners in the GSIS database.

The eCard Plus and the G-W@PS were first introduced on October 1, 2006 to a number of island provinces in the country, including Camiguin, Abra, Romblon, Coron, Masbate, Vorac, Siquijor, and Batanes.

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RP losing millions of dollars daily due to software piracy

CEBU CITY — The Philippines loses millions of dollars – in lost revenue opportunities daily — just because of software piracy.

But if only most computer users respect intellectual property rights, the country stands to gain an additional $ 25 million in taxes.

Software piracy in the country is incredibly alarming, but the revenue opportunity if software piracy in the country is cut is even much more unbelievable.

For a mere 10 percent reduction in the piracy rate – from 71 to 61 percent -- in four years, the country would earn $ 25 million more.

Still, with the present software piracy rate, total losses reach $ 119 million annually.

These figures are being tossed to the public by Roland Chan, director for marketing in Asia for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), adding that 2,000 new information technology jobs will be created and $ 325 million in sales revenues for local software vendors will be achieved if only software piracy is decelerates to 61 percent from the current 71 rate.

"The Philippine economy will gain a lot by reducing software piracy," said Chan in a press conference in Cebu City Thursday.

The research firm IDC said that software piracy in the Philippines is already alarming with the 71 percent since 2004.

This means that for every 100 computers in the country, 71 are using pirated software, said Chan. "This figure equates to a loss of $ 119 million to the software industry," said Chan.

Despite the existence of the Intellectual Property Rights law in the country, Chan said software piracy is still rampant although he admitted that the government has shown its will power to improve protection of intellectual property rights here.

Chan said it is not the price of original software that pushes an individual or business organization to resort to using pirated software stressing that based on a recent study, the most pirated software are those that are cheap.

An original anti-virus utility software could cost around R1,000 or more but a pirated version sold on sidewalks costs only P80 to P100. But Chan said ignorance of the law and not the price of software is a major factor in piracy. (Mars Mosqueda - Manila Bulletin)

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lim eyes ban on ‘violent’ video arcade games

By: Itchie G. Cabayan - Journal on-line

MANILA Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday ordered a study on banning violent video games in arcades and amusement centers, particularly among minors.

The directive came after the Philippine Alliance Against Pornography met with Lim to discuss the dangers being posed by these games on children’s behavior.

Former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairman Henrietta Mendez, PAAG president, was alarmed that unlike movies and television shows, video games are even more dangerous because kids can play them without proper guidance.

“The more people you hit, the higher your score will be and you are even rewarded for it,” she told Lim.

For his part, Lim directed his chief of staff Ric de Guzman to work out possible solutions to the problem either by banning violent games from being accessed by minors or prohibiting children from the use of gaming machines that promote too much violence.

He noted that being very interactive, playing violent video games, especially when done repeatedly, may cause the children to develop violent tendencies.

Lim also took notice of reports made by the PAAG that these games encourage players to be good at hitting or killing a computer-generated enemies with virtual guns by shooting at his vital parts.

To add more teeth to the regulation of video games in the city, Lim said he will coordinate with Vice Mayor and council presiding officer Isko Moreno in crafting an ordinance for this purpose.

As early as last July, Lim prohibited the playing of computer games during school hours particularly near public schools, or from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., which are the usual class hours in the elementary and secondary level.

The mayor’s action then was in response to the complaints of parents and teachers, who said that a good number of such shops encourage skipping of classes among high school students by allowing them to play computer games at any time of the day.

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Sun takes radical attempt at making data centers portable

By Leo Magno - INQUIRER.net
SINGAPORE -- The image one sees when asked to think of a data center is that of a sprawling room filled with many cables, computers, storage systems, racks, trays and cooling systems with raised flooring. Sun Microsystems is trying to simplify that by placing all of a data center’s components literally in a box, taking the concept of portable computing to a new level.

Sun’s Project Blackbox is the computer-maker’s attempt at making a data center portable by placing all of its components -- about 15 metric tons of computer equipment -- in a steel cargo container. The container can thus be shipped, airlifted, pulled by a truck and lifted by a crane to locations and environments data centers have never reached before. With Blackbox, Sun has turned a complex data center housed in a fixed room into a computer system in a box that is as self-contained as a laptop, with the goal of being able to take it anywhere.

“Russia was the most extreme environment where we’ve deployed a Blackbox,” said Mark Stanton, Sun Microsystems virtualization architect for the Asia Pacific region. Sun said the Blackbox has an operating range of between minus 29 and plus 54 degrees Celsius, but Stanton said the Russian project took the data center to much colder temperatures.

“In even more extreme conditions we can put anti-freeze into the cooling system and ruggedize the whole box with third-party partners,” Stanton said.

The Russian project was conducted by Mobile Telesystem, the biggest mobile operator in Russia. The company has already deployed one Blackbox and is planning to acquire eight more, according to Sun officials.

The portability of the Blackbox has also attracted companies looking to offer services at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the data-center-in-a-box can be deployed to and pulled out easily from the site of the games. Bringing one Blackbox to the 2008 Olympics would give data service providers 146 teraflops, 2 petabytes of storage and 7 terabytes of memory in one box. Just drop the box there and then add power, water and network bandwidth.

This sort of portable computing augurs well for chief information officers (CIOs) as companies continue to create big, institutional data centers crammed with hundreds of computers in racks that stretch from floor to ceiling. CIOs are faced with the problem of generating more capacity for these data centers as demand continues to grow in the Internet age. New data centers have to be custom-designed and specially installed, server by server, in a process that takes years and costs millions of dollars. Once operational, the data centers cost a fortune to operate because the computer rooms are carved out of high-rent office space and require massive air-conditioning.

“With Project Blackbox, as you need more capacity, you just add another fully configured, self-contained data center as you go,” said Stanton.

From one perspective, Project Blackbox could be seen as Sun’s attempt at turning grid computing into a tangible, portable product and not jut a concept. Grid computing -- also referred to as utility computing or cloud computing -- is the use of different computer and related resources not necessarily located physically together and making all those resources act as a whole, distributing power, storage and applications throughout the network when needed. Others may say it even goes back to the use of big machines in cold computer rooms, but this time Sun has made the room portable by placing all of the components in a box made from a steel cargo container. From either perspective, one thing is for sure: Sun is redefining the Internet data enter or IDC. From a massive yet sensitive computer service housed in fixed, real estate-hungry locations, IDCs could now, conceptually, be as portable and tough as a ruggedized laptop 5 percent the size of a traditional corporate data center.

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LTO launches new registration system

By: Jun Icban-Legaspi - Journal on-line

THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) yesterday introduced a new system of registration using Radio Frequency Identification Tag (RFIDT) with no additional cost to the vehicle owners.

Transportation and Communication Assistant Secretary and LTO chief Reynaldo Berroya said thru the Information Technology Provider (STRADCOM) the innovation in the registration would be implemented in the first quarter of 2008 for private vehicles and first quarter in 2009 for the public utility vehicles.

Berroya said the Working Technical Committee that studied the program is set to forward the concepts to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) for approval.

Berroya said RFID tag on every vehicle can be read electronically. It is going to be used to identify vehicles and validate the identity, status and compliance and authenticity of all motor vehicles.

He said the RFID would improve public safety and environment and increase revenue collection.

RFID program spokesman Ernesto Severino assured that the new system is 100 percent guaranteed safe and tamper-resistant.

Meanwhile, a group of private vehicle owners also aired their support for Berroya but did not express opposition to his being replaced with former Philippine National Police chief Arturo Lomibao.

PMAC spokesperson Roberto Cruz, said Berroya, during his 10-month reign at the LTO has done many things to improve the agency. But they believe that Lomibao could continue Berroya’s projects and even introduce new programs that could further enhance the performance of the agency.

Cruz added that it is possible that the President needs Berroya in other branches of the transportation department.

They also called on other groups to accept the decision of the Chief Executive and give those individuals chosen by the President more time to prove their capabilities.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New CICT chair undergoes week-long briefing

By Lawrence Casiraya - INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines -- On his third day on the job, Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chair Ray Anthony Roxas Chua said he is in for a week's worth of briefing.

The 31 year-old Chua attended today's inauguration rites by call center firm ICT Group. He was asked up onstage but in his speech, he made clear that he was still in the process of dipping his toes on being the top ICT person in government.

He did, however, offer a few thoughts on the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

"BPO is one of the brightest growth spots in the country's economy,” he said. “Further growth will depend on untapped areas outside of Metro Manila."

Chua, whose appointment was announced in August by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but officially started work only last Monday, might as well be bracing himself for constant interaction with the local BPO sector.

The so-called Cyberservices Corridor project has been championed by President Arroyo herself, with the CICT spearheading it. This initiative maps out cities and provinces that are potential destinations for BPO investors.

Asked in an interview what current or future projects he initially wants to pursue, Chua declined to comment, adding he is being briefed on the nature of the work that awaits him at CICT.

Chua said he has worked with several tech firms in Silicon Valley in the US before returning to the country to attend to his family's manufacturing business.

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Yahoo makes its search engine more intuitive

Yahoo announced Tuesday it has enhanced its Internet search service as it continues its quest to dethrone Google, the market's reigning king.

Yahoo said new "Search Assist" software intuitively figures out what people are looking for based on words entered in queries and provides suggestions intended to help people pinpoint searches.

Audio, video and pictures available online are displayed on search result pages along with website links, according to the California-based firm.

"We know that consumers want a complete answer, not a bunch of links, and the changes we've made are focused on getting people to the best answer in one search," said Yahoo Search senior vice president Vish Makhijani.

A Harris Interactive poll sponsored by Yahoo indicates many Internet users suffer from "Web search fatigue," or frustration caused by not being able to easily find what they want online.

The study concludes that while search engines are used by nearly every adult on the Internet, only 15 percent of those people find what they are looking for in a single try.

Most people need to conduct three or four searches before being satisfied, according to the poll.

Yahoo's new search features are available to US users and will be rolled out in the United Kingdom "in the near future," according to the company.

Last week, Microsoft began phasing in a slick new version of its Live Search service in a bid to gain ground on leading Internet search rivals Google and Yahoo.

Microsoft's improved Live Search is available in the United States and will be in service globally by the end of October, according to vice president of search and advertising platform group Satya Nadella.

"This time, we feel we can claim we are as good as Google," Nadella said.

Google is the world's most popular Internet search engine. Yahoo ranks second. Live, which replaced Microsoft's MSN search service in 2006, has been mired in distant third place.

Search firms need to innovate to stay competitive, but face a hurdle when it comes to getting Internet users to break habits or switch loyalties regarding search engines, according to analysts.

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BayanTel eyes wireless coverage nationwide

BAYAN Telecommunications Inc. (BayanTel) on Tuesday said it plans to provide wireless landline service nationwide in three to five years.

On the sidelines of a management conference, Tunde Fafun-wa, BayanTel chief executive consultant said that offering wireless landline service nationwide would cost the Lopez-led company about P25 billion.

At present, the telco has rolled out its service to key Metro Manila cities of Marikina, Manila, Caloocan, Pasay, Pasig and key cities in Visayas and Mindanao.

BayanTel’s wireless landline service uses code division multiple access (CDMA) technology, allowing limited mobility for a fixed monthly charge and value added services such as unlimited call and text mes-saging.

Fafunwa said the company is targeting more than 100,000 subscribers before the end of the year. Its subscriber base as of the third quarter stood at more than 70,000.

He said the telco is allotting P1.5 billion to P2 billion in the next two to three years to finance its expansion plans.

Fafunwa said the capex will finance the company’s additional network base stations, telecommunication infrastructure backbone and support systems.

He said the company plans to go public in three to four years, once it sustains its revenues as it expects top line to grow at least 10 percent this year.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a company must have been profitable for the preceding three years before it can undertake an initial public offering.

As of June, the company paid more than P2 billion in interest and principal to its creditors. The telco is under a rehabilitation program aimed at settling its obligations to creditors.

BayanTel’s total debts amounted to about $300 million. Among its creditors are the Development Bank of the Philippines, the United Coconut Planters Bank and the Land Bank of the Philippines.
--Darwin G. Amojelar - Manila Times

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Scams on the Internet

VIEWS FROM A BRIT - Manila Times
By Mike Wootton

The number of spam type e- mails in my in boxes is increasing rapidly recently. The hackers are managing to break down many more barriers. Most people know that opening attachments to unknown emails is a very risky thing to do, I’ve done it myself at my cost. What puzzles me is why do people do this sort of things? One theory put forward was that a certain hacker picked up a high paying job in Microsoft after being spotted as clearly very computer literate and able to devise and implant into innocent users computers, viruses and worms which wipe out most of the recipients hard disc memory. To say that having most of your computer data wiped out is to say the least very irritating. What satisfaction can a person get from wiping out data belonging to other unknown people ?

Spam e-mails seem to fall into three general groups; sexual aids, requests for help in transferring large sums of money, or “tips” for stock dealings. The requests for help in transferring large sums of money belonging to deceased relatives or co workers apparently originated in Nigeria, has now been adopted by others but is frankly so old that I would be surprised if there is anybody who has not experienced these type of requests or is unaware of whatever scam it is that is carried out on the respondents. Tips for stock dealings are a more recent development and I would imagine that these could be quite successful in helping to manipulate stock market prices to the benefit of the scammer. As for the sexual help spasm these are in most part laughable although no doubt they attract some buyers.

China as we all know is quite active in censoring undesirable internet sites, Falun Gong, or anything which may be considered seditious or pornographic. Is it beyond the technical competence of whoever it is who can control access and material on the Internet, to do a bit of censoring and block the time wasting and potentially very damaging hacker material? New scams will be developed continuously there is no doubt about that and I believe that there are now people in the USA who are looking at what can be done to control access to and material on the internet—that’s good I wish them every success.

The internet is a wonderful facility it is so useful in research, maintaining contacts with people and as a platform for amusement (my kids spend hours on games and children’s sites) and education. Used well it is a tremendous benefit to society but of course as with most things it is open to abuse, the scale of which is facilitated greatly by its world wide coverage. Very difficult now to imagine a life without it, but please lets do some cleaning up by trying to get some controls in place at source which would just prevent not only the hackers but also other undesirables from posting material which is clearly not in the wider public interest, and by this I mean child pornography, use by terrorists to publicise their causes, “snuff” material (films which show the actual killing of a human being) for which I just found four references on the first page of a Google search!, frauds and the like. I guess though that somebody would have the unenviable job of deciding what material is not in the wider public interest!

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