Online Courses – An Alternative Learning Experience

It’s always good to learn something new, but given that you have your full-time job, family, social life, and other stuff that occupy your time, taking up a short course with a concrete schedule can be inconvenient if not unfeasible for your day-to-day routine. Luckily, there’s another option that can fit with your busy lifestyle. There are online courses both free and paid that are more flexible to handle. I’ve tried a few courses, and I like the learning experience so far.

Flexible Schedule

Online courses give you the freedom to have your own schedule. Take the lesson when you can. You can even go through more than one module if you feel you’re on-the-roll. You can repeat a module as many times as you like, so you don’t have to worry about having any time constraints if you’re having a hard time grasping a particular topic. A module can contain a video, audio, or reading material, with other external references if applicable. The content is also available through a tie-up mobile application, so you can access your lessons on-the-go. Take note though, don’t place long gaps in between your study sessions, or you’ll end up not retaining what you’ve learned. All skills take regular practice to master or at least to acquire progress.

Sample course page from Coursera

Sample course page from Coursera

Discussions and Consultations

Like a formal class, you can consult the instructor either by sending him/her a private message or posting a comment to a particular module. Each of them has different availability of schedule, but as far as my experience goes, they really respond to queries as much as possible. Some take a day or two, while others will reply after a week. Either way, this is a great option for further learning the course and find more applications based on your current circumstance. You can also post discussions that are open to fellow students. Their inputs are sometimes as valuable as the instructors’. You can also follow their questions so that you’ll get notified if it receives a response. Based on these student reactions, instructors tend to update the course for modifications and additional content, and you don’t have to pay for these changes. You’ll be notified for such instances if you’re enrolled in the course, even if you already finished it.

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Certificate of Completion

I really love the fact that you’ll get an online certificate for the completion of the course. It’s available online so you can include it in your credentials if you want.  Courses are tracked based on the modules that you completed. Mostly, there’s an audio or video that you have to go through per module. Finishing the media will mark the module as complete, but that is not required. You have the option to skip the lesson (marking it complete) just in case you already know the topic. There’s no strict monitoring from the instructors. You’ll decide if you can proceed with the next module. Even if you cheated, it will be your loss. Here’s a sample of my certificate for a course that I completed in Udemy.

My certificate for completing the course “Become A Super Learner” from Udemy

Thanks to online courses, you don’t need to be frustrated to learn a new hobby or add skills for your career and lifestyle advancement. However, take note that even if they are flexible, they still require discipline. Again, you will need to follow through regularly to make sure you retain the stuff that you just learned. If you’re ready to take your first course, you can go ahead and try the sites like Coursera and Udemy. There’s also StackSocial, which gives bundles to a collection of Udemy courses for significantly discounted prices. You can also subscribe to the sites’ newsletters for the latest deals. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

Mobile Applications For Keeping Track of Important Stuff

I’ve been using a handful of applications to aid me in my productivity, especially now that I have a home-based job. These are some of the tools that I use to keep track of my stuff from shopping lists to task durations.

Keeping Track of Item Lists (ColorNote)

This compact application works like a virtual sticky note. You can create a plain text document or a checklist. I use the latter more frequently since it’s quite handy for easy-to-setup list which I can cross-out one by one like when I need to shop for some items, check the people who already paid for our movie nights, update accomplished daily tasks, and the list goes on. The notes can come in different colors so you can define your own color-coding scheme in organizing your notes. It also comes with a widget that you can pin in your device’s home screen so you can easily be reminded of the lists that you made.

Google Play:

Keeping Track of Notes (Evernote)

Even though ColorNote can be used for note-taking, there’s a reason why Evernote can be a better choice. It’s most powerful feature is synching your notes between mobile devices, computers, and even web. Thus, maximizing your notes’ accessibility. It also comes with the basic formatting tools like font styles, bullet points, tables, etc. The notes are organized into notebooks so you keep similar or related info intact. You can also add tags for faster searching. I use this app to write some notes when I’m reading a book, when an idea came into my mind that I don’t want to lose track, and when I’m creating some meeting minutes.

Official Website:
Google Play:

Keeping Track of Habits and Tasks (HabitRPG)

One of the best forms of Gamification that I’ve seen so far. As the name suggests, its primary goal is to build some habits that you desire to learn for yourself as well as other tasks that you want to be reminded on, all of it incorporated in RPG mechanics. Basically, you play a character that has different attributes and items. You improve your stats by gaining experience points and buying better equipment. The quests are represented as tasks, which are categorized into three types namely Habits, Dailies, and To-Do’s. In Habits, you can increase the point (if you succeeded to do the habit) rewarding you with coins and experience points or decrease the point, penalizing you with HP deduction. Dailies are repeating tasks that you need to allot to specific days of the week, you’ll get the same rewards as habits and your HP gets deducted for each item that you fail to complete for the current day. Lastly, To-Do’s are just like Dailies except that you have an optional deadline instead of assigning days. With this webapp, I was able to build the habit of drinking 8 glasses of water a day (it’s about time), create a more consistent schedule for working on my side-project, and list the things that I need to do for a particular trip.

Officiial website:

Keeping Track of Work Time and In-Between Breaks (Breaker)

Usually, people tend to expect that they’ll accomplish more by working several hours straight with no break in-between, but actually, it’s quite the opposite. You have to take breaks periodically in order to be more productive. With this, you can use the application called Breaker to schedule work and break times. Save yourself from RSI, eye strains, and other potential harm brought by sitting in from of the computer for long hours. Better yet, do some stretching exercises during your breaks.

Official Website:

Maybe you’re wondering why personal financial budgets were not included here. Well, I already wrote an entire blog post about that, so if you’re interested, you can check it out. 🙂
As much as technology is giving us more forms of entertainment and more avenues for convenience, I highly recommend that we also utilize it to increase our productivity and aid us for self-betterment. Until next time! Wohooo! One new quest completed for my HabitRPG. (~^_^)~


Useful Mobile Apps for Aspiring Musicians

Music is one of my effective stress-relievers, so sometimes I just strum away for some random jam or experiment on some new combinations of tunes. As much as I would like to compose with instruments alone or play a song only by hearing the tune, my musical background (or lack thereof) isn’t just enough to do such things. With this, I get some help from these music applications to get my fix.

Pano Tuner

This is by far, the most accurate guitar tuner that I’ve used for mobile phones. The tuner’s less sensitive, compared to the couple of other tuner apps that I used before, it can even gauge chords from a pre-recorded sound. As one of my bandmates suggested, this app can also be used to gauge your voice if you’re singing the right tune. Best of all, it’s for free!

Pano Tuner Main Screen (courtesy of


The flagship music software of Apple made portable for the iOS devices. Get access touch instruments and recording tools and create some cool tracks like a pro. Types of instruments include keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. The app also includes an audio recorder and amplifier effects. It also boasts a feature called smart instruments, which will enable the user to create music by mixing chord combinations and play patters from different types of instruments, somewhat like Music Shake’s music editor. I’m most impressed with the virtual guitar as it can accurately simulate your strum in the touch device. You can even do multi-touch bend and sustain with it. Moreover, it provides more opportunities for collaboration and sharing. You can do some live recording with your other bandmates over Wi-Fi. You can share your works on-the-fly through facebook, soundcloud, youtube, or AirDrop for iOS. Your save data can also be synchronized for all of your devices through iCloud. The core application is free, but you need to buy an in-app purchase to unlock all the smart instruments. Though this can be used for iPhones and iPods, I think it’s dsign is more utilized for iPads. Heck, you can use multiple devices to create an entire music accompaniment of a song, especially if you connect the audio output to mixers or amplifiers. Don’t believe me? Watch this!

Walk Band (formerly Perfect Piano)

A company outside google made an Android user’s answer to GarageBand. You can even see the resemblance with the app’s user interface. This application evolved from a virtual piano to a multi-instrument learning tool.  The app has a corresponding feature for Keyboard, Guitar, Drum Pad, Bass, and Drum Machine (mixer), with the first four having subcategories for a more precise set of tunes (e.g. the keyboards has Rhodes, Bright, Organ, etc.).  The app also features multi-track recording and midi-device support, playing inputs from actual midi devices like midi keyboard. You just need a USB2GO cable for interfacing. One big edge that this app has over Garage Band is that you get all the features for free. For some reason, there’s a google play entry for a premium version, but it has the same description as the free version. I tried it with my SamSung Galaxy Note 8.0, and the features listed there are already available.  Just like Garage Band, you can do full band collaborations using your android devices. I like this one better since it shows multiple instruments in real-time play and not an edited collection of solo videos.


From the website of the same name, the app not only features the chords and tabs of your favorite songs, it also includes powerful features such as metronome, tuner (though I prefer Pano Tuner), interactive tabs complete with loop and tempo control and track separations, plus chord and tab sharing. Long-time users of the site will feel right at home with the app as it emulates the user interface of the song entries, including the auto-scroll feature and chord chart tooltips. The app is not for free, but you’ll get a great deal with the functionality that you’ll get for 134.37 pesos (one-time purchase for all of your devices with similar mobile OS).

Chord Entry for a Song (courtesy of

There, I hope I piqued your interest to create some unique music of your own. It’s really fun to play with random tunes and come up with something you’ll love to listen to. Who knows, maybe it will pave your way to actually get more serious with learning music and start making some advanced compositions and collaborations. Until then, happy sound trip! (~^_^)~


My “Laptop as a CPU” Setup

I wasn’t planning to buy a second monitor screen until I found it necessary for my current project. Using the Unity game engine, I need to view the actual game screen and the world editor at the same time. This cannot be done with my current laptop’s screen resolution which is 1366 x 768 with 15.3″ actual screen size. With this, I decided to buy a larger monitor so that I’ll have more screen space for my work. Moreover, I think this second monitor should be my main one. For programming, it can show more lines of code. For  movies, it can provide a larger display. For photo editing, 3D Modeling, and other media tools, it gives a wider screen space. So here’s the plan:

  • Set my laptop as my CPU (basically my main machine)
  • Buy a 2nd monitor
  • Buy a gaming mouse and keyboard (well, I never bought one before but I guess I was too stingy to buy a really good one… details are written below XD)
  • Buy an HDMI cable and a USB hub
  • Find a separate table

There. Now for the brief specifications of each item…

MSI CX61 Laptop

I actually posted all the info about this laptop in my first ever blog post. In case you haven’t read it, please do, so you’ll have all the information you need. V(^_^)V

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

MSI CX61 Laptop (Act as my CPU for my current workspace setup)

Dell S2340L

This LED monitor spans 23 inches wide with a maximum screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and an aspect ratio of 16:9. The glossy screen boasts 16.2 million colors and Dell’s “image enhance” technology creating it’s vivid display. It has a wide viewing angle measuring to 178 degrees. This is really convenient since back in the LCD monitor days, you can easily get an unclear view of the monitor like the one my old Dell Vostro 1500 laptop is using (haha how ironic). It comes with a VGA and HDMI input as well as an audio output. Just in case you’re confused, you can use the audio output to plugin your headphone or speaker since HDMI cables can transmit both video and audio data. In my case, I need to use a headset for Skype calls so I stick with the audio input and output socket of my laptop.

Dell S2340L: 23 " LED Monitor

Dell S2340L: 23 ” LED Monitor

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard

Yeah, I know I’m being stingy here. Dragonwar products are not the most recommended PC Gaming peripherals, but in any case, I gave it a try given the considerably low price. This gaming keyboard has backlight illumination (red for directional and WASD keys, blue for the others). The left windows key is replaced with a FN key (like the ones used for the laptop)  which is used in conjunction with the function keys (F1 -F10). The functions provide shortcuts for toggling the backlight on and off (hmm… I wonder why would I do that), accessing the basic controls for a media player, home page, bookmarks, search engine, and email client. It also has shortcuts for “My Computer” and Calculator (BEST SHORTCUT EVER :))). I wish there was a shortcut for the master volume since I use it a lot in my laptop. Besides, F11 and F12 are still vacant of  FN links. Oh well, it sounds like a first-world problem, so I won’t push it. Of course, if you have the dough, why not buy a Razer gaming keyboard instead.

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man's Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Silvio Gaming Keyboard: Maybe a poor man’s Razer as dubbed by one of my former colleagues

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse

Okay I get the point! I’m really getting stingy here. For consistency (that was a good excuse), I bought a Dragonwar gaming mouse. Other than the standard Left-Click, Right-Click, and Mouse-Scroll buttons, it also has two additional buttons, which are programmable using the X-Mouse button control software and a button for adjusting mouse sensitivity. The sensitivity can be adjusted in four different settings, 800, 1600, 2400, and 3200 dpi. To be honest, I’m already using a replacement right now since the first one became defective after playing One-Finger Death Punch for several hours. The game only uses the left and right mouse  buttons, so if you want to test your gaming mouse, this is the right game for you. Again, if you have enough money, just buy a Razer gaming mouse instead. 😀

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Dragonwar Leviathan Gaming Mouse and Kelly Mouse Platform

Kelly Mouse Platform

My computer desk is pretty old and made for more orthodox mouse and keyboard sizes. Now that I’m using a gaming keyboard, I have no more space for my mouse, so for a while, my right arm is in a not-so-comfortable position as it extends farther compared to my left one. With this, I searched for any tool that I can use to extend my desk and move my mouse to a more convenient place. A few google searches here and there, and I found this site which apparently sells products from different countries with all the shipping costs and customs’ fee included. Here, I managed to get the mouse platform that I’m using now. It took them roughly one month to deliver your purchased item, and in case there are delays, they will directly call you. The mouse platform is serving its purpose so far, and it’s easy to assemble. It uses an adjustable clamp which I believe is compatible with the standard tables that we use in the office.  The platform can be rotated so you can keep it out of the if you’re not using it or if you happen to use the mouse with your left hand.

HDMI Cable, USB-HUB, and An Additional Platform/Table

Well, nothing much to say here. To keep it simple, it is recommended to use an HDMI cable to achieve better display quality compared to standard VGA cables. It also doubles as an audio input device so you can plug in your speakers or headphones in the monitor instead. The USB-hub is just to add more USB slots. Currently, my laptop only has three USB slots (One 2.0 and Two 3.0) which I find to be insufficient, given that I’m now using a USB keyboard and mouse. As for the table/platform, I was lucky enough to find a spare small cabinet at home. This is where I place my laptop so that all the cables can be connected from there.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input. USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

HDMI Cable for audio and video input.
USB-hub for additional two USB slots.

There you have it. So far, I’m satisfied  with my setup with the exception of the replaced gaming mouse. If you have a mid-range laptop or higher, then this setup can be an option for you instead of assembling another CPU. Here’s a photo of my complete setup. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

My "Laptop as CPU" Setup

My “Laptop as CPU” Setup

Applications for Personal Finance Management

I may not have a formal degree in any finance-related course, but I don’t need any formal academic background to recognize the importance of managing my personal finances. In my opinion, you handle your personal finances properly if you:

  • Create an ideal budget based on your total income
  • Save funds for future needs and emergency situations
  • Trace the transaction records and current amount of your financial resources.

Again this is just my two cents, the items I listed here are the stuff that worked for me based on my experience V(-_-)V.

With all the tasks above, you can be patient enough to use spreadsheets through MS Excel or Open Office Math. However, there are existing software applications that could be more ergonomic and robust in terms of features. The following apps listed below are some of the tools that you can use to aid you in your personal finance management. Please take note that you need not to use all the apps listed below. See the available features and sample user interface and see what do you think will work you, but then again, if you really want to go hardcore and use all of them, then by all means comfort yourself XD.

Expense Manager

Platform: Android

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This app is pretty simple, but it covers the basic features essential for your personal finances. It records transactions for your income and expenses. Each transaction is created with a single entry. Each entry contains a lot of useful fields that could further describe your transaction:

  • Account Name
  • Date of Transaction
  • Amount
  • Payee
  • Category (user defined)
  • Payment Method
  • Ref/Check No.
  • Description
  • Photo of Transaction (uses camera of the mobile device)

Account is summarized based on total current income and expenses. You can also create your budget based on a specific time interval (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, one-time). Other than that, you can assign recurring income and expenses by specifying the schedule of the recurring transaction. The good thing about this application is that it runs on your Android device, so you can trace your finances on the fly since you always (or most of the time) carry your device wherever you go. The best part of all… it’s free.

Personal Finances Pro

Platform: PC, iOS

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My favorite application so far. I’ve been using this for more than three years and it really served its purpose. Other than what Expense Manager can do, it also provides the following features:

  • Transaction Calendar
  • Loans
  • Financial Report
  • Currency Manager
  • Budget Forecast
  • Project File Password Security
  • Family Member Profiles

The user interface is totally user-friendly. The project variables like accounts and categories come with a large list of icons which adds intuitive detail to your data. Reports contain the percentage of allocation for your income and expenses. You can filter the data based on categories, duration, and family members. You can also see the trends of your transactions which tell you from which category you usually earn and spend. The application also has a standalone version that you can use to install on your USB flash disk or any other external storage device. The data can be exported to a CSV or text file. The only catch is that the software is a paid application. However, they also have the freeware version that contains basic features you’ll need for personal finance data. I think this version will suffice if all you need to record is your personal cash flow :). Take a look at this comparison table to have a better idea of what you will get for free. Maybe if you earn enough, you can include buying the personal license for your next budget XD.

YNAB (You Need A Budget)

Platform: PC, MAC, iOS, Android

I found this software in an unexpected place… Steam. The platform widely known as a portal for video games also distributes software  applications such as this. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to purchase this during the Steam sale. Anyway, this app almost has the same features as Personal Finances Pro, but YNAB promotes their product with a tie-up methodology which comprises of four steps:

  • Rule 1: Give every dollar a job
    • Assign a specific amount for each category. This way, you won’t look at your entire income as a whole when you’re planning to spend money on something  but rather the allocation to the category where the purchase item belongs.
  • Rule 2: Save for a rainy day
    • Allot a budget for recurring, less-frequent expenses by separating the amount to monthly intervals. The funny thing is, I use this method long before I knew about YNAB. And I’m using Personal Finances Pro for this.
  • Rule 3: Roll with the punches
    • Be flexible when overspending. Adjust the allocations accordingly when such situations occur.
  • Rule 4: Live on last month’s income
    • You allot a budget for your next month’s expenses. YNABers call this the buffer. This is to give the user enough breathing room for paying the bills instead of timing it for the next paycheck.

Other than the software itself, the official website gives free online classes as well as blog posts for financial advices. Overall, YNAB doesn’t revolve with the tool, but it’s more of a comprehensive program to help you save more money and get more out of your financial resources. Though it’s not for free, the amount of cash that you will save (if you’ll be faithful to the program) will worth every penny that you spent.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that the tool alone cannot help you handle your money properly. It takes discipline to avoid spending more than what you earn. It’s hard but if you focus on long-term gratification, you’ll see moving forward that all those plannings were totally worth it. I hope you find a tool and approach that will make you save more and in turn make you financially abundant. Cheers! (~^_^)~

Photo Credits: iTunes, Google Play, Steam

Convenience Through Online Transactions

Courtesy of

Now that we’re in the information age, there are a lot of manual processes that have been improved through online transactions. By utilizing such resources, we can save time and effort that we can allocate in more productive things.  Here are some of the stuff that you can do via web:

Online Banking

Depending on your bank account, you can manage your savings online and in turn use your funds to address different financial transactions. Here are some of the services that you can avail.

  • Bills Payment – Instead of going to payment centers, why not enroll your bills to your online banking account and perform the payment there. The process may take several days for first-time payment, but after that, the succeeding payments will speed up.
  • Funds Transfer – Usually you can transfer money between accounts from the same bank. Depending on the bank’s terms, this may require an approval process from each bank account involved. This step needs to be manually processed, but the convenience it will bring afterwards is worth it.
  • Balance Inquiry – Need to check if your salary has been deposited already? Check it online and you can confirm it on the fly.
  • Transaction History – This is useful for tracking your expenses. You can view the amount of money, transaction time and place of your last bank activity.

A few banks that offer such services are BDO, BPI, and Bancnet banks.

Movie Ticket Reservation

I utilize this service a lot when it comes to movie night-outs. This approach saved us several times for securing a movie seat. My favorite is since it allows post-paid reservation. You just need to pay the tickets 45 minutes before the actual show time or else, your account will be penalized, and you have to pay the amount equivalent to the unpaid tickets. The reservation process will take you to the actual theater layout from which you can choose the specific seats to reserve. Credit card payments are also available and are more convenient since the tickets are good as paid and all you have to do is show the printed receipt at the theater entrance.  I’m not fond of credit-card transactions because of the risk of disrupting my budget and my fear of hidden charges, but it’s just me XD.
SM Cinemas also have their own online reservation system, but it’s limited to credit card or E-Plus prepaid card payment. The movie layout is only present at selected cinemas. Nevertheless, this might come in handy for exclusive releases (we used this to watch Rurouni Kenshin ^_^).

Buy & Sell + Budget Deals

For the budget savvy, there are several sites that offer buy and sell services where you can find items that are sold at a cheaper price. Good examples of such sites are sulit, ayosdito, and tipidpc. Items range from used books and gadgets up to second-hand cars and real estate properties. However, these websites don’t offer the actual payment service but rather an avenue for preliminary arrangements that may lead to an actual transaction, usually done by meet-ups. This is still useful since you can inquire more about a product and verify if it’s a good deal. You can also sell your own stuff to earn extra money. Just beware of scammers  who tries to sell non-functional or poor-quality items. To make sure that you’re dealing with a trustworthy person, see the reputation that is associated with that person’s user account (i.e. user ratings and feedback). Like in actual markets, you may experience some price haggling, and it’s up to you on how you will proceed with the deal.
Other sites promote sales and discounted deals like livingsocial and lazada. A lot of the offers are effective for a limited time only so be sure to check these sites often to look for budget deals.

There are a lot more online services out there that you can utilize for your transactions. If you’re planning of buying something or making some routine payments, check the sites associated with these items, and maybe you can find more convenient ways to do these things. Just remember, you should do this to save time and effort and not to exhaust your resources. Hmm maybe a blog post about money saving would be useful (~^_^)~

Musicshake – Composer Application and Social Network for Music Lovers

As a music lover, I would like to create my own songs that make use of different instruments. However, I’m not that skilled to use all of them. I know how to play the guitar (intermediate at best) and the piano (basics) but that’s about it. Good thing there are tools out there that aids aspiring musicians to create their own music. One of them is Musicshake, a composer application and social network site for creating and sharing your own music.

Getting Started

First, you have to create an account from their main site. You can link this account to your facebook account if you want. Once done, download their composer application and install. Open the application and login with your account. From here you can start making your own songs.

Making Music

When I first joined musicshake, the only way to create music is by using their desktop composer software, but now, they also offer an online version which has a different user interface and more limited features. Before proceeding with the steps, let’s define some terms.

  • Track – Refers to an instrument or effect track that can be added to your music. Instrument tracks offer a lot of choices ranging from guitar, string pad (violin, cello, etc.), piano, drums, up to vocals and raps. Each choice is further divided into different groups, with each group containing several choices of play styles. Effects offer sounds from various sources like nature, animal, voice overs, etc. I’ve used this to add dramatic effects or for portraying situations like in an actual music video. Each track also has a volume and effect property. The effect property adds modifications to the sound of a track (e.g. Reverb, Normalize, Higpass, etc.). You can also add a record track where you can use a recording device to add a track of your recorded sound, so if you’re a professional musician, you can use this application for your accompaniment.
  • Part – This represents a single constant measure in your song (A song with 9 parts at tempo 90 will last 3 minutes and 33 seconds which makes each part around 23.6 seconds). Each part has a chord progression attribute which affects the available play sequences (not applicable for effects) for each track that you add to your song. This means that, a track’s play style, chord progression, and play sequence will determine that track’s music output. This enables the users to have countless possibilities when they are making their own music.
Playscreen (Desktop Application Version)

Play Screen (Desktop Application Version)

Play Screen (Online Version)

Play Screen (Online Version)

Here are the basic steps for creating your own music

  1. Click Menu -> New Song
  2. Choose One Click Start or Genre – Tempo. I recommend the latter for further customization
  3. Choose your desired genre. (can be previewed by hovering your mouse cursor to an item)
  4. Choose your desired tempo. (can be previewed by hovering your mouse cursor to an item)
  5. Click Add Track and choose an instrument or effect. (can be previewed by hovering your mouse cursor to an item)
  6. Click the part’s header to set the chord progression. (can be previewed by hovering your mouse cursor to an item)
  7. For instruments, click the part’s cell of the track that you wish to play and choose a play sequence. (can be previewed by hovering your mouse cursor to an item)
  8. For effects, move the effect bar to the time that you want it to be played.
  9. If you need to add more parts, just click Add Part.
  10. To save your song, click  Menu -> Save
  11. To post your song online, click Menu -> Post on Musicshake
  12. After uploading your song, you’ll be redirected to your musicshake page. Hover the newly uploaded song and click post to share your song to the community.

I recommend using the desktop application version since it’s faster to use and offers more options for customization. The online version goes through a download process each time you add a new track, effect or part which slows down your music making experience. In the desktop application version, you will still need an internet connection to preview the tracks but other than that, you can add your components on the fly.

Music Sharing and Subscriptions

Songs shared online can be rated and marked as favorite by other users. You can also view the most played songs for the last 24 hours. Users also has a fan based system where you can become a fan of another user. Your fan base can be viewed in your profile. There’s also a battle option where you issue a challenge to another user’s song and then choose a song of your own. From there, other users will rate which song is better. The site also includes a forum for any queries and promotions that you would like to make.

You can only play your song through the composer application or through musicshake’s main site. In order to acquire a MP3 version of any songs shared in the community, you have to avail their subscription purchase. These includes unlimited downloads of MP3 as well as putting your song in Youtube’s Audioswap. If you want to take it to the next level and sell your creations, you can do so by paying the commercial subscription which is $250 a year. This includes the other privileges in the subscription purchase. Purchasable items can be paid using credit card or their in-house currency, shake cash (which is still purchased using a credit card XD)

Musicshake can not emulate all the types of music that can be done by an actual musical instrument, but this is a nice option for those who would love to experiment on making their own songs specially those who lack the time to study. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next great freelance composer and gain a lot of fans in the community. Try it and unleash the musician within you! (~^_^)~

Organizing Your Social Network and Other Online Accounts with Digsby and Hootsuite

If you have a lot of accounts from different social networks and online services (like me), then you may find it clunky to logon to various websites,  email accounts, and chat applications just to keep you updated with your social circles or message someone from your contacts. This is hard to manage and totally time consuming. Luckily, there are tools that can help you organize these accounts more efficiently.

Digsby: IM + Email + Social Networks

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Digsby is my ultimate weapon of choice for tracking my online stuff. It’s a chat client, email client, and social media manager rolled into one neat application. Updates from your social media are displayed real time through a popup. You can manage your contacts from different chat applications and message them on the fly. You can even check your notifications and Timeline if applicable to your accounts. It also comes with an email feed which has shortcuts to common features like open, delete, and mark as read. Digsby hosts a wide array of platforms:

  • Google
  • Windows Live
  • Yahoo
  • Facebook (of course)
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • ICQ
  • LinkedIn
  • Jabber
  • POP Email
  • IMAP Email

With Digsby, it won’t be necessary to open a web browser or another chat client (Except if your’re using Skype XD).

HootSuite: Social Network Management


Courtesy of

If your only concern is managing your social network accounts, then Hootsuite may satisfy your needs. It features a dashboard style of presentation, organizing each account into tabs and each feed into streams. A stream may display marks when you receive new updates like posts, photos, and messages. I tried this when TweetDeck removed its connectivity with LinkedIn which is such a shame. Other than the default social network sites supported by the application, it also features an app directory which acts like a plugin to provide more connectivity to your other online accounts like youtube, tumblr, even RSS feeds which is great now that google reader will shut down by July. Not all of the apps are free though. The supported platforms are listed below:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (duh)
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+ Pages (Only the pages  feature, not the actual stream)
  • Foursquare
  • MySpace
  • WordPress (See you your posts as well other blog posts from your subscription)
  • Mixi (Popular social netowrk in Japan)
  • App Directory (Youtube, Tumblr, RSS, Instagram, Evernote, and a lot more)

The main application of Hootsuite is web-based, but mobile versions are available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

With these tools, you can follow your online accounts across different platforms in one convenient and organized space. However, remember to utilize its features to increase your efficiency and not to reduce your productivity. (~^_^)~

My Tech Leap Part 2: From N70 to Play

I’m not fancy about mobile phones. If it can send a text message and make a phone call, then that would be enough for me. However, if entertaining mobile games and useful applications enter the picture, then it’s a different story. The features that mobile phones offer nowadays are too spectacular to ignore. With that, I have two options. An iOS or an Android phone. Looking at the price difference made it easier for me to decide which one to choose. Anyway, I’m not here to compare the two mobile operating systems. Like what I did with my previous post, I’ll just show you how much has my mobile device leveled up (or is it?). Before proceeding,  let me give a short back story.

Meant to Play

This article could have been entitled My Tech Leap Part 2: From N70 to Galaxy Ace if the said phone was not stolen in the MRT. The worst part is… it was only a month old. I learned how to be more careful with my valuables the hard way. I waited for six months just to have a separate budget for a new phone. I saw one of my officemates playing with  his Xperia play and I was instantly hooked with the PlayStation control interface. I just saw my target phone. The funny thing here is that like my laptop, I bought my Xperia Play cheaper than my previous phone (Xperia Play – 13,500 pesos and N70  – 14,000 pesos). Actually, the original price of Play was around 20,000 pesos, but since it phased out quite quickly, the store where I bought it sold it to a much cheaper price. It was the last stock that they have, so I didn’t have any second thoughts and quickly purchased the phone.

Storage Capacity

N70: 22 MB (internal) , 1 GB (external)
Play:  400 MB (internal), 32 GB (external)

Having 32 times the storage of my previous phone, what can go wrong?  Well, here’s the problem.  A lot of Android applications use the internal memory without the option to transfer it to your external card. Imagine how frustrating it is that you have this large external storage and yet you are forced to settle with less than a gigabyte of memory. I mean… c’mon!
With this, I decided to execute a hack that will link the applications to a partition of the phone’s external memory. This involves rooting the android phone. The process may be inconvenient, but if it lets me play more games and utilize my phone’s capabilities with more tools and applications, why not? Besides, I’m fond of tinkering stuff specially gadgets and software.

Speed and Memory

N70: 220 MHz
Play: 1 GHz  and 522 MB RAM

To be honest, both phones bog down when their storage space are getting used up.  I find it more noticeable in Play though. Probably, because android applications are more resource-intensive compared to symbian apps. Yet again, it’s a gaming phone, so I’m expecting more XD. The hiccups will be more noticeable if a lot of processes are running at the same time. I advise you to check your running processes in your settings if you experience some slowdown. You possibly need to free up some memory to run your apps at normal speeds.

Games and Applications

N70: Java – Normal Keypad
Play: Android and PS1 Port – PlayStation Controller Interface, Touch Screen, Gyroscope, GPS

Ah the real reason I bought an Xperia Play. All the amazing android games that can compete with the iOS counterparts can be played for a cheaper price. Not only that. Some of the games released are optimized specifically for this phone to take advantage of the PS1 controls built-in with this device. If you’re still not convinced, how about playing PS1 games on your phone? You can now play Crash Bandic0ot, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Battle Arena Toshinden among other classics in the convenience of a handheld device.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of symbian java games that are considerably fun like Zuma, Age of Japan, and Sim Babe. However, compared to the likes of Temple Run, Ingress, Anomaly Korea, and Logo Quiz, the java games didn’t stand a chance.
The Android Market now called Google Play also hosts a lot of useful applications like Evernote, Expense Manager, and Wisepilot which transform an Android phone into an ultimate resource and productivity tool.


This is where N70 clearly beats the Xperia Play or any Android device for that matter. Android is known for its high battery consumption, which sometimes makes it inconvenient for using it outdoors. The N70 can last around 42 hours while the Xperia Play can survive for barely 24 hours provided you only use it for text messages. Try to use it for wi-fi, GPS, and android apps for several hours, and you’re lucky enough if it can last for 16 hours. N70 can be fully charged for just 45 minutes while Xperia will take around an hour and a half to reach 100%.

As a miscellaneous comparison, let’s compare the camera of both phones.


Using N70 Camera


Using Xperia Play Camera

Oh, did I mention that Xperia Play’s camera doesn’t have a zoom functionality? The camera for this device doesn’t use a lens that is capable of zooming. This is really a problem when taking pictures in events such as conventions, concerts, seminars, etc.

Xperia Play is a phone that can stamp you as a certified gamer, but if you’re looking for a phone with more power and storage space, then I suggest you consider the more recent models of Xperia instead. If you still insist to buy one, I wish you luck to find a stock, and hopefully you enjoy and utilize the phone’s features as much as I do (~-_-)~. Well then, time to resume my Crash Bandicoot gaming session!

Next post: I’ll take a break from tech talk and tell you about my experience on attending an art exhibit. ‘Til next time!

My Tech Leap Part 1: From Vostro 1500 to CX61

So I bought a new laptop about a couple of weeks ago and so far I’m more than satisfied with its performance. Just when I thought that my old laptop was powerful enough to cater my needs for 10 years, I felt the urge of getting a better rig. I was motivated to buy a new one since one of my goals this year is to execute my personal projects (mostly video games and other types of visual media). Comparing my Dell Vostro 1500 with my new MSI CX61 reminded me on how fast the computing technology have progressed for the past five years. Though I must admit that both of my laptops were not top of the line during the time I bought them, a closer look at their specifications will be more than enough to tell a story.


MSI CX61 (top) and Dell Vostro 1500


Vostro 1500: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
CX61: Intel Core i7 2.4 GHz

One of the advatanges of waiting for years before buying a new laptop is that you can really tell the difference in processing power. With my Cx61, I’ve installed Visual Studio 2010, Unity 3D ver 4.0, and Adobe CS5 with half the time as my previous laptop. I have to say though, Vostro’s processor is not something to underestimate. I was able to use this laptop in the recently concluded Global Game Jam to create a full 3D game under 48 hours. Considering that the game project can be built in Unity under 10 minutes, I can say that it has exceeded my expectations given that it has been used for five years.


Vostro 1500: 2 GB DDR2
CX61: 16 GB DDR3

This is one of the specifications that makes the CX61 a good buy. Sixteen gigabytes of RAM. Seriously? Other brands that offer such amount of memory are way more pricey than this machine. With this, I’ve upgraded my OS to 64-bit since the 32-bit can only utilize up to 4 GB of RAM. With regards to Vostro, I’ve used it for fairly memory-intensive tasks like 3D Modeling and video editing. It can survive, though I’ve experienced some noticeable hiccups like when I use DAZ 3D.


Vostro 1500: NVidia GeForce 8600M GT (256 MB)
CX61:  NVidia GeForce GT 645M (2 GB)

VGA cards evolved so fast for the last five years, I was not informed that NVidia now uses the Optimus technology. To keep it simple, it enables a notebook computer to switch between two video adapters either for maximum quality or minimum power consumption. This will utilize the machine’s battery life. Now my only nitpick is that the resolution of CX61 is 1366 x 768 with a display size of 15.3 inches. The height is a little off for me considering that my Vostro has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800 with a display size of 15.4 inches.

Hard Disk

Vostro 1500: 120 GB
Cx61: 750 GB

Five years ago, I thought 120 GB was more than enough to store every application that I need. After two months, I realized that it was not the case thanks to Wi-fi and Japan’s fast internet connection (Yes I bought my Vostro when I was in Japan).  I decided to give a threshold to my file storage such that I’ll back up some of my files when I reach a certain number of gigabytes left for my hard disk. This resulted to over 70 backup DVD’s some of which are dual-layered and my disc binder is about to get full. With the CX61, I don’t think I’ll worry about that for a while… I hope. The funny thing is that with over six times the capacity of my previous laptop, I’m still itching to create some backup discs right now. Ah the force of habit XD.

It’s a good thing I found a budget laptop that still packs a punch when it comes to performance. I hope it’s the same for the durability department. My Vostro costs around 116,000 Yen (about 58,000 pesos) but given that it served me well for five years, I can say that I already got my money’s worth. My Cx61 only costs 37,500 pesos which is pretty low considering the specifications I mentioned above. Well I’ll try to create and play some games to do some benchmarking but that’s for another post V(^_^). If you have any questions regarding these two machines then feel free to post a comment below. (~-_-)~

For my next post, I’ll compare my almost six year-old phone Nokia N70 with my less than a year old phone Xperia Play.