Friday, September 28, 2018

BOEING 747 Turning 50, Sunday

In the 1960s, aircraft manufacturer Boeing took part in submitting proposals to the US Air Force for a new large transport aircraft. Their design lost out to competitor Lockheed, but they decided to retool some of its elements as part of a new airliner to take advantage of the increasing numbers of people taking to air travel at the time, particularly for long-distance international flights. This was spurred by requests from then-primary US carrier Pan Am for a new aircraft. So it was that the Boeing 747 was introduced on September 30, 1968. This Sunday, the Boeing 747 turns 50.
As CNN tells it, September 30 on Sunday will be the golden anniversary of the plane that “shrank the world”. The Boeing 747, the first of the “jumbo jets” was first seen by the public on that date in 1968, though it would not actually take flight for the first time until February of the following year, and would only come into service with its first airline – Pan Am – in January 1970. But in the decades that followed the 747 cemented its image as “Queen of the Skies”, even becoming the definitive model for the US President’s Air Force One.
Granted, in 50 years the tech and development for big passenger aircraft have advanced, and these days the remaining 500 or so Boeing 747s in its various configurations are slowly being replaced by airlines with even larger jumbo jets that are both more advance and fuel-economic for having just two engines to the original queen’s four. But it is a fool’s bet to count out the 747, particularly its most recent 747-8 Intercontinental, as being on its way out. The A380 of European maker Airbus may be larger and more modern (2005), but it does not evoke similar epic scale.
From its preliminary conception, the 747 jumbo was the dream big airliner craft. With the valuable input of Boeing’s cabin design partner firm Teague, the 747 enchanted its eventual passengers with its high ceiling and nearly vertical sidewalls, providing an incredible sense of space and comfort. Also revolutionary was its distribution of galleys and lavatories to divide the cabin into sectioned “rooms”, thus giving the rise of “economy/tourist” and “business” class passenger seating.
Even as the last 747 delivery – to Korean Airlines – was in 2017, and Delta Airlines retired its last of the line in January this year, the legacy of Boeing’s brainchild remains strong. It made flying a truly accessible travel option for many.
Image courtesy of CBS News


Just over a month is left before Warner Bros. Pictures premieres “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” in theaters worldwide. In preparation, the studio has released what may be the final trailer of the film, which picks up from the events of 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. It does a great deal to further elaborate on the various threats and dilemmas that Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander must navigate in the impending war in the Wizarding World. But it also generates some controversy with the identity of one of its characters, whose casting writer J.K. Rowling is defending.
Fox News has it that the celebrated author of the “Harry Potter” book series and current scriptwriter for the “Fantastic Beasts” films is now trying to defuse criticism of the casting for one of the significant supporting characters in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”. Previous trailers have shown a woman portrayed by South Korean actress Claudia Kim, who serves as companion to returning character Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). The final trailer released Wednesday, September 26, showed the woman having the ability to transform into a snake, with Credence calling her Nagini. Nagini is the snake companion of “Harry Potter” villain Voldemort.
While some fans are excited at the potential of exploring Nagini’s past, some critics decry the casting of a Korean to portray the human Nagini, claiming it was a misguided method of cultural representation. J.K. Rowling has responded to criticism on social media by explaining the mythos of the Nagini snake character, being based on Indonesian myths of the Naga. As Indonesian is an Asian country then having an Asian woman play the part was actually appropriate in her opinion.
Other fans raised questions on what Nagini was doing in the movie, seeing as she perhaps is more recognizable as the giant snake who served as companion and “Horcrux” to Voldemore. Rowling thus described Nagini as a new sort of shape-changing magical person, a “Maledictus”. Unlike some changers who can do so freely like werewolves, a maledictus – who can only be female – only has a limited time in her life to shape-shift before she is eventually trapped in her alternate form for the rest of her life.
That still has not somehow quieted the controversy, knowing know that Nagini is of Asian ethnicity who is seen as a faithful “slave” to Voldemort, a Caucasian wizard and racial supremacist to boot.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” stars Redmayne, Kim, Miller, Katherine Waterstone, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Jude Law and Johnny Depp as overarching antagonist Gellert Grindelwald. J.K. Rowling both writes and produces the film, due for release this coming November 16.
Image courtesy of Mashable

Classic SKYPE 7 Apps to LOSE Microsoft SUPPORT by NOVEMBER

There has been something of a trend for Microsoft to, sometime after acquiring some company with a social media platform, is to begin rolling out changes in updates to those websites and apps to slowly but steadily alter them to conform to Microsoft’s own tech systems. They have done that with WhatsApp and Instagram, and they have been doing it also with Skype, which Microsoft snapped up in 2013, nine years after it originally launched. They have fiddled with Skype redesigns in recent years and now, they are ready to compel users of the service on Windows 10 to change to the latest Skype version, before it is too late.
According to The Verge, Microsoft is giving warning to users who still have any version of the Skype desktop app numbered 7.0, also called “Skype Classic”, on their Windows 10 that the operating system will cut off all support for it starting on the first of November. And if users of the classic version on their phones and tablets, which do not run on a Windows OS, think themselves the exception, then they need to be advised that Microsoft will also discontinue support for mobile Skype 7.0 several days later.
“As we continue to focus on and improve Skype version 8, support for Skype versions 7, and below will end on November 1, 2018 on desktop devices and November 15, 2018 on mobile and tablet devices,” thundered Microsoft’s warning on the Skype updates blog. “Although you may be able to use older versions for a little while, we encourage you to update today to avoid any interruption.” The current Skype version 8 boasts some additional features that Microsoft describes as being among the “most requested” of its user base, such as recording Skype calls and searching through a recorded conversation.
Bidding farewell to Skype Classic in such a fashion comes across as the usual tactics from Microsoft, a complete 180 from their assurance last August that they will keep the version 7.0 option “for some time” after some users reacted negatively to the experience of Skype 8. In the beginning of September, there was also a significant tweak to mobile Skype to undo earlier changes that users felt made it a bit too much like Snapchat, such as the “Highlights” feature. After some token attempt to manage a “happy medium” of Classic and New, Microsoft is cutting out the old.
Granted it does not mean the Skype version 7.0 and below will no longer work after the November deadlines, but the Microsoft announcement made reference to possible interruptions of service, as their priority shifts more to Skype 8 until Skype Classic is eventually just disabled.
Image courtesy of Major Geeks

America’s PANDA EXPRESS COMING Soon to M.M. through JOLLIBEE Partnership

It can be said that there are two sorts of Chinese cuisine in the world, “Asian” Chinese and “American Chinese”. The latter is a historical development brought about by Chinese immigration to the US in centuries past, where they began adapting their traditional cooking practices and recipes to the available ingredients and their customers’ tastes. From chop suey to fortune cookies, American Chinese cooking evolved its own unique character, and in recent decades led to a rise of inexpensive restaurant chains. One of these, Panda Express, has just entered a joint venture in order to open here in the Philippines.
CNN Philippines tells us that the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday, September 25, received a disclosure from Panda Express, the fast-food subsidiary of Panda Restaurant Group Inc. from Rosemead, California that they plan to open business in the country soon. To that end they have teamed up with Filipino pride Jollibee Foods Corporation in a 50-50 joint venture, with the intention to start their local operations with five fast-food restaurants in Metro Manila, a prelude perhaps towards expanding into the rest of the country eventually. Pretty soon Filipino patrons will get to taste Panda Express’ famous specialty dish, Orange Chicken.
Panda Group co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Cherng has expressed his excitement at opening a new market for their popular fast-food chain with the help of a local corporate partner that knows the lay of the land so to speak. “We feel fortunate to be partnering with a company that has a history of growing and adding significant value to its new businesses,” he said. “We look forward to tapping into JFC’s market expertise to grow the Panda Express brand into a household name in the Philippines and, more importantly, actioning our shared value of inspiring people to better their lives.”
If Cherng was impressed at their joint venture, Jollibee chairman Tony Tan Caktiong shares the sentiment wholeheartedly saying, “Starting from a single restaurant in a California mall to becoming a restaurant chain of over 2,100 stores, Panda Express is a strong brand with a growing global footprint.” Caktiong adds that Panda’s rise to fast-food prominence mirrors Jollibee’s own, and is confident that Chickenjoy lovers will take to Panda Orange Chicken just as much in future.
Panda Express is the largest Asian-cuisine fast-food chain in the US today, with over 2,000 locations around the world. It is owned and operated by the Panda Group which includes table-service restaurant Panda Inn and value-price Japanese cuisine chain Hibachi-San.
Image courtesy of Panda Express

First “DARK PHOENIX” Trailer Released

Two years have passed since we last saw the Marvel super-team the X-Men on film; their current cinematic version following the 2014 “reboot” that is. The X-Men movie universe has been the first major-name big-screen Marvel franchise when 20th Century Fox released the original installment in 2000. It later found itself competing with Sony-Columbia’s “Spider-Man” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sometime soon, Fox might be acquired by Marvel Studio’s parent, Disney. But before that happens they will have unleashed the latest chapter of their “X-Men” cinematic property, “Dark Phoenix” which will be premiering next year. And a trailer is out.
Variety tells us that the initial trailer for “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”, or just “Dark Phoenix”, has finally dropped on the internet courtesy of 20th Century Fox. The movie is a sequel following through from the events of “X-Men Apocalypse” back in 2016, and also slated as the first in a new X-Men film trilogy following the original Bryan Singer films and the “First Class” timeline. Both trilogies have featured a tease on the main plot of the Dark Phoenix story, wherein the telepathic and telekinetic X-Man Jean Grey gains cosmic-level powers but gradually becomes corrupted by them, endangering the world.
Most X-Men fans who read the comics were somewhat disappointed by the first movie adaptation of the Dark Phoenix saga on “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006. It did not include the more fantastical elements from the original comic story involving an encounter in outer space, for example. That is something “Dark Phoenix” director Simon Kinberg hopes to resolve with this new retelling made possible because of “X-Men: Days of Future Past” in 2014. The trailer treads familiar ground, from Jean Grey’s childhood, to the crisis of her intensifying powers, to feelings of betrayal and turning to the X-Men’s “enemy”.
James McAvoy returns as Professor Charles Xavier who must now contend with the evolving abilities of his student Jean (Sophie Turner). There are flashbacks to her first going to the Xavier Institute as a child, and the trailer shows how her powers cause an accident that kills her parents. Charles is forced to do some psychic manipulation on Jean that the other X-Men, especially Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) disapprove of. Jean herself is upset to learn this, and it causes her to fall into the orbit of Magneto (Michael Fassbender), currently running a mutant sanctuary in a secluded island. The battle is on for Jean’s soul and powers, something even aliens from space are interested in.
“Dark Phoenix” also stars Tye Sheridan, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain and Olivia Munn. The film premieres on an action-packed Valentine’s, February 14 in 2019.
Image courtesy of ScreenGeek


The “Bali Experience” is perhaps one of the most sough-after atmospheres in the Philippines, particularly down south in Mindanao which is close to the equatorial region, that sweet spot in the tropics where the original Bali, the Indonesian island, lies. Here in Gensan and elsewhere in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region there has been an upsurge in hotels, resorts and accommodations that profess to offer a Bali experience more affordable than a plane ticket to Indonesia and back, but only a precious few can truly boast Balinese quality and genuine affordability. Well, there is one to consider right in the heart of Gensan, the Palmera Garden Hotel.
Located along Aparente Extension, corner Sebastian Street in Barangay Dadiangas Heights, General Santos City, the Palmera Garden Hotel, formerly Rozen Suites, has undergone a major rebranding and expansion of its facilities and services in order to accommodate more guests and private events in a Bali-inspired setting. Palmera Garden Hotel is a recommended 3-Star Hotel in Gensan that welcomes guests with a Balinese atmosphere of peace and tranquility within easy reach of the busy city streets.
The rooms of the Palmera Garden Hotel give truth to its reputation as one of the most affordable hotels in Gensan. They have double rooms with shared toilets available from P700 to P800 a night, and more privately intimate deluxe rooms that at P1,000 a night can and will give guests a Bali experience that is true in spirit but light on the pockets. Not only the rooms, but every square inch of space in the Palmera Garden Hotel is kept spick and span for the benefit and pleasure of guests and visitors. Nor is their security left lacking, with the hotel personnel on duty performing their utmost to make everyone’s stay both nice and safe from check-in to check-out.
And this is merely the beginning; the Palmera Garden is still evolving for the sake of its guests to keep true to its pledge to be truly one of the best hotels in Gensan. Very soon they will have more amenities to offer other than a truly relaxing stay. As early as the start of the coming New Year there will be more sought-after facilities such as a restaurant and KTV bar, but more importantly an indoor function hall and an outdoor garden venue. These two features are just the ticket to hold any special event guests need, from parties to social gatherings and even business conferences. The outdoors will even come with a swimming pool.
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But even before all that, when in Gensan you have to stay at the Palmera Garden Hotel, the newest Bali-inspired hotel in the city, and well on its way to becoming a full resort venue by 2019. They look forward to guests making use of their upcoming Events Place to hold their important occasions in. You may see the Palmera Garden Hotel for yourself, and read more information about their establishment, on their official website at; and for more specific inquiries you may contact their reservation office at 0917-500-5518.
Images from Palmera Garden Hotel

Search Engine, Maps EASTER EGG Showcase on GOOGLE’s 20 ANNIVERSARY

If anybody has dropped by on the search page today, they might have noticed yet another special title redesign: balloon letters tied to a gift box, a red balloon with a “2” next to an O-shaped one. That means most likely what you are thinking right now. September 27 this year is exactly two decades to the day in 1998 that Google selected to celebrate its founding anniversary. Never mind that their initial product, the Google search engine, launched days earlier on the 15th, or that their company was incorporated earlier still, on September 4, 1998. Google marks its years from the 27th and that is how it is.
Google has long had a tradition of celebrating each passing year of growth and success with celebratory Easter Eggs on their online platforms. As The Verge tells it, the company has done just that and more so, for this 20th anniversary bash. On the Search Engine front page is a new video Doodle that looks back at some of the most famous Google search queries from all over the world since 1998. From China asking how to do a necktie Windsor knot, to Japan searching for cat pictures, to everybody wondering what happens on Y2K, it is all shown there.
Next on the “Google at 20” nostalgia parade is a special edition Google Maps street tour. The location is the garage of Menlo Park resident Susan Wojcicki, aka the first office of Google used by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. With her permission the garage has been redecorated to call back to how it looked as the original home of Google search engine and the birthplace of its growth into one of the pillars of the internet today. Google Maps users can navigate the view space to see Google’s roots, with plenty of 90s stuff and more Easter Eggs to find with every click.
Finally, there’s another quirk put by Google into their venerable search engine, though it apparently isn’t available outside the US. Deliberate entering terms and phrases that were popular in 1998 will be answered by the admonition “It’s 2018! Don’t you mean…” followed by a more contemporary search item. For example, typing “page me” (pagers) will get back “New phone, who dis?” (cellphones); or “clip art” replaced by “GIF”. The world has come a long way indeed, and Google has been with it all the way.
Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Last August was the second iteration of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), a grand film festival extravaganza held to both promote the country’s film industry and as part of the Buwan ng Wika celebration of the national language. For the recently-concluded PPP, there were 14 productions showcased, six special features and eight main film entries. One of these movies is “Signal Rock” a drama story with somewhat supernatural elements directed by acclaimed filmmaker Chito S. Roño. He must be doubly proud of his latest project, now that it has been selected for possible nomination in the next Academy Awards.
CNN Philippines reports that Chito S. Roño’s “Signal Rock” will represent the Philippines in the list of aspiring films from around the world to be included in a final list of nominees for the Best Foreign-Language Film of the 91st Oscars in 2019. The announcement was confirmed by Regal Entertainment, the movie’s distributor during the second Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino this past August, on their official Facebook page. “Signal Rock” already received the Critic’s Choice and Special Jury Awards in the PPP, and was thusly invited for exhibition in several film festivals overseas. It will join 76 other foreign-language films in contention for Academy nomination.
It was a matter of being “just in time” for “Signal Rock” to be out forth as the Philippines’ Foreign-Language Oscar bet, seeing as the deadline for the next ceremony is October. To qualify for submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a Foreign-Language film must be produced outside the US, have primarily non-English dialogue, and must have been released in their local cinemas between October 1, 2017 and September 30. This will be a fierce competition for the Academy’s attention, as they tend to only lock the official number of Foreign-Language nominees to just five.
Starring Christian Bables and Elora Espano, “Signal Rock” tells the story of a boy living with his family in 1990s Samar while his elder sister works overseas in Finland. They are able to communicate on their cellphones via the boy standing atop a seaside rock formation. This film is the second by Chito S. Roño to be put forward as an Oscar bet, the first being “Dekada ‘70” back in 2003 for the 76th Awards. Of the 29 past Philippine submissions to the Best Foreign-Language Film nomination process, not one has yet been officially nominated.
The Academy will announced the final list of nominees for all Oscar categories next year on January 22, while the awarding ceremony itself will take place on February 24, 2019.

Image courtesy of Cinema Bravo

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

GUJI Tributes Late Mom and Promotes CANCER AWARENESS with Latest Single “BE ALRIGHT” Music Video


One of the most painful things about the dreaded disease cancer is the cruel separations that it has enforced on many, both the poor patients suffering from it and the families and friends grieving for their impending loss. That is a feeling that has become intimately familiar for singer-songwriter Guji Lorenzana, whose career as you know I have been following intently for several years past now. He had just lost his mother to cancer this June, following a struggle against it that lasted two years. It was in her honor and memory that Guji dedicated his latest song, “Be Alright”.
Guji Lorenzana presented a special launch screening of the official music video for his latest single “Be Alright” on the evening of Tuesday, September 25, at the Upperhouse in Taguig. This occasion is special for the fact that the screening is being geared by Guji to be his own contribution towards the raising of awareness for the tribulations of cancer. He noted the production assistance of several cancer charities such as World Child Cancer and Be the Match. It was altogether fitting, as “Be Alright” was conceived by Guji to address his mother’s grave condition.
When Guji’s mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and then weakened considerably by her radiation and chemotherapy treatment, he was inspired to write “Be Alright” as a way to encourage his mother through those hard times. When she was pronounced cancer-free just this January, Guji had the song ready. “During this time, I had recorded my song, and I was getting ready to release it for her as a surprise,” he recalled. “We were hopeful, because at least she was a survivor, and she was a live. Like my song promised her, she was going to be alright.”
Unfortunately the cancer returned by March and this time there was no helping it. Guji’s family placed their matriarch in hospice care, and the lyrics of “Be Alright” changed in message from hopeful encouragement to poignant assurance as she faced death. Warner Music Philippines released the song on streaming in time for Mother’s Day, and a lyric video is available on YouTube. Guji still remembers his mother’s tears of joy when she heard “Be Alright” played for her shortly before passing away on June 15.
It was with the help of cancer foundations from the Philippines, the UK and UK that Guji Lorenzana completed his music video for “Be Alright” through the Sindikato production house, and that has helped him heal from his mother’s death. In accordance with his mother’s last wish, the end of the music video also features some child cancer survivors with their own messages to share. Here is the official music video of “Be Alright”.

INSTAGRAM Co-Founders DEPART Due to Possible Conflict with FACEBOOK Overstep

When it launched seven years ago in October 2010, Instagram was just one of a number of social networking services at the time that focused on sharing images and video. It stood out among them for becoming popular fast. That perhaps is the reason it was acquired by Facebook in 2012, and its image-sharing integrated into the larger social network’s online platform. For the following years the service founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger got along well enough with their parent company, but increasing conflict with Mark Zuckerberg over Instagram’s direction have led the two to step down Monday.
Vox has it that Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have announced their departure from the company. According to Systrom’s post on the Instagram blog, that was so the two of them could move to their next chapter and “explore curiosity and creativity” once more. But those who have been following inside developments in the running of Instagram can detect a veiled protest by the platform’s creators against the increasing overstep by Facebook, or rather Mark Zuckerberg, over their operations. The Social Network did acquire Instagram under the promise that it could keep operating somewhat independently, but lately that assurance has been ringing hollow.
The trigger for Facebook reversing its original hands-off treatment of Instagram probably lies on the fact that the image-sharing platform, ostensibly merely an add-on to the FB experience, has been performing well even as the main social media network began to suffer from the decline of original user posts and being associated with the 2016 Presidential Election brouhaha. Since then, Facebook began implementing measures like cross-posting Instagram Stories, introducing a “hamburger menu” with Facebook link, leaking FB notifications to Instagram, and finally removing the Instagram attributions to photos when posted on Facebook. All these things gradually soured working relations between the Systrom-Krieger tandem and Zuckerberg.
One possible consequence of the original founders jumping ship from Instagram is the fear that Facebook will simply dispense with any façade of independent operation and relegate the platform’s team into mere another division in the larger FB whole. That would be an ignoble end to the service. And damage control within the companies have been striving to color Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom’s departure in a cordial light akin to an amicable parting of ways. Not everyone is convinced however. Facebook shares at the NYSE 2.2 percent ($161.70) by Tuesday, with Snapchat rising by 2 percent due to the possibility that it could probably exploit the troubles with Instagram.
Facebook has already been through this spot earlier this year, when the co-founders of another acquisition, WhatsApp, also left in protest over the insistence of putting advertising on their platform.
Image courtesy of BBC