Listening to radio again



So I’m working on my computer this morning, all the while idly listening to the radio finishing Daryl Hall’s Wildfire when the announcer goes “It’s half past ten in the evening and you’re listening to Chicago’s 103.5 KissFM.”

I was jolted out of my writing. Evening? Chicago? Oh, yeah, I forgot.

I was listening to a talky female evening jock with a relaxed, sultry voice on the radio, live, half a world away in Chicago, and not from one of the local Metro Manila stations. You see, I was able to download a new app (for the console, anyway) on the PS4 called iHeartRADIO early this morning, and as a result I can listen again to a whole host of international radio stations live, in real time, on the audio system.

I had the app on the Xbox 360 when I still had the old console and made a habit of listening to some American FM stations all the time, but I sold the 360 some time ago (because I wasn’t using it much anymore) and had to quit listening. Now, this week, Sony introduced a version of the old app on the PS4, so I downloaded it, revived my old account and began listening again. (Although, in retrospect, I’m sure there is a way to listen online to iHeartRADIO on my iMac, but I never really bothered to check. So sue me.)

Of course, I can listen to Spotify or even iTunes in a pinch (and I sometimes do), but real radio has been a old addiction—especially since I spent over two decades of my life working at, and managing, local FM radio stations, and old habits die hard.

Listening on my sound system via the PS4 is a nice, comforting experience, recalling my 96.3 WRock, Magic 89.9 or 103.5 K-Lite days when I’d work the mic for four-hour shifts and then still listen to the stations all day even when I wasn’t on the air. It was the soundtrack of my life, as an old radio promo for another station said all those years ago. Today, FM radio quietly plays in the background again while I write, and keeps me company.

The “international” part of iHeartRADIO is the attraction for me. It’s like I’m in another world, another environment. FM radio in the Philippines has devolved into cheap, talk-centric, personality-driven programs and the industry is infested with pretty-boy-or-girl announcers hired for their youthful, telegenic looks and a passable twang rather than their announcing talents, not like in my day when we were all, uh, better heard than seen. But boy we gave good radio back then.

These days I listen to mostly American classic rock, top 40, pop, jazz and R&B old-style radio stations, and a few British, Canadian and Aussie ones, mostly because of the language. Some of the Asian and European stations are nice, musically speaking, but I balk when the announcers come on and spout Mandarin, Korean, Malay, French, Italian, or German spiels. I’ve gravitated to KOST Los Angeles, V103 Chicago and 106.7 Lite FM New York because they’re basically old-fashioned and sound like the late 80s and 90s of my radio heyday.


The PS4’s implementation of the app is elegant and simple: the program opens with the iHeartRADIO logo and a simple four-item menu on the top of the screen, a graphical bar in the middle of the screen featuring all your favorite stations, and then a simple logo of the currently playing station and the playing track on the bottom. Then after a bit, it morphs into a full-screen faded background graphic of the artist, the app logo on the upper right, the album cover on the center of the screen, and then logo, track title and artist on the bottom left.

The Xbox 360 implementation was a bit more confusing and complicated back then, and it had a damn sight more buffering and playback problems than the PS4’s. Of course, it’s next gen technology with the PS4, so I guess that accounts for the improvements. In fact, the PS4 doesn’t even pause or buffer at all, doesn’t skip or jump, and has a consistent, steady playback, even if my home network is otherwise heavily loaded.

It’s great. I’m thankful for iHeartRADIO, and will have immense fun listening again.

Posted in Apps, Reminiscing, Video Games, Wala Lang, Work | Leave a comment

Double-spacing is EVIL




Coming from the recent Eternal Debate For Or Against The Oxford Comma, I have another, uh, grammatical quirk I’d like to take up.

No, not really grammatical. This one’s more stylistic and typographical than anything. It’s the other age-old debate: Do you put in two spaces after a period, or just one?

Here’s how two spaces looks:

  • The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.  And jumps again.  And again.  So much that it made the quick brown fox very dizzy.

Here’s how one space looks:

  • The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. And jumps again. And again. So much that it made the quick brown fox very dizzy.

It’s a small thing. Not worth fighting about, really. (Not like the Oxford Comma, anyway.) Most people wouldn’t even notice if you don’t point it out. (They might eventually, but not right off.) But if you value how your text looks and how it’s perceived, want to make it look professional, or are are just fussy about that sort of thing, then this issue’s well worth looking over.

I obviously am a one-space aficionado. Always have been, and I’ve never even considered there was any other choice. Yet, there are still people who make it a habit to double-space after a full stop, thus propagating the age-old typographical sin. And there are lots of these people, apparently.


Today, I still come across plenty of email where the sender double-spaces, and usually I don’t pay it any mind anymore. But I’ve come across actual printed text in books and journals that have the double-space, and frankly, they look atrocious. It makes the text look loose and airy, as if a breeze could just blow through it. Mostly from old stuff, but still.

Like some of the people who discuss this issue on the internet, I did a quick and informal survey (four people, actually) and most of them (three) said that of course I use two spaces! I sometimes slip and use just one, but I take special care when writing something official and formal so that I don’t look unprofessional!


Double-spacing distracts the reader and makes the writing seem festooned with gaps and pauses, whereas single-spacing is practically invisible. Double-spaced text doesn’t flow. Single-spacing makes the text look solid and together, and that the writer knows what he’s writing about. Double-spacing, on the other hand, makes him seem unsure and hesitant, his text full of pausing-t0-think gaps. Amazingly, people still use two spaces today, and think everything’s perfectly all right.

I know where the habit came from—the typewriter.

We come from a steampunk-type age where typography was still in its formative stages, and we were encouraged to separate sentences with an extra space for clarity when typing something out. Most typewriters used a monospaced font—that is to say, all letters were given the same width, and it wasn’t easy to spot where a sentence ended and another began. So you added an extra space to make it easier to read. Ah.

Through the years this became habit. But these days typography has come a long way, and today modern fonts are designed for efficiency, economy and eliminating that extra space. If you learned to write by typing it out on clackety-clacking old typewriters, you likely are ingrained with the habit of double-spacing.


Most of these two-space people are over the age of 50, and some age-discriminating potential employers are actually checking applicants’ resumes for double-spacing and conveniently weeding them out. I’m over 50 myself, but I got weaned from typewriters earlier than most. I began using word processors in the early 80s when personal computers began to appear, so I was at the cusp of the shift from typewriters to Apple IIs and IBM-PCs and thankfully got out of the habit of double-spacing.

The Complete Manual on Typography (2003) says that “The typewriter tradition of separating sentences with two word spaces after a period has no place in typesetting” and the single space is “standard typographic practice”. Most style manuals currently enforce the one-space rule, and for good reason. Writer Farhad Manjoo came out with a well-received web article on Slate about the issue some years ago, and its one of the site’s most read pages up to now.

Simply put, double-spacing is just old-fashioned, and it shows your age and/or lack of proper, modern education.

So there. Check your spacing, people!


Posted in Commentary, Personal | Leave a comment

El Capitan sucks—at least for me, Part Two



I said in Part One that I’d try and install OS X 10.11 El Capitan on my MacBook Pro, and I did.

I eventually succeeded last Sunday, but I had to go through hell first to get a workable El Capitan installation.

My previous OS on the MacBook, OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite, apparently had a quirk where it had to verify the downloaded or transferred El Capitan install package with Apple first and it, without fail, found that the download was “invalid”, that something had gone wrong with the download and could I please go to the App Store and download it again?

I had initially downloaded the 6GB install package on my iMac, and before I installed it there copied the package to an external USB drive so that I could install it elsewhere without having to download again.

You see Apple, in its infinite wisdom, automatically deletes the installer (which resides in the Applications folder) after installation. Needless to say, the El Capitan install was a bust on the iMac (that’s a different story altogether), but at least I could just copy the installer to the Applications folder on the MacBook Pro and not have to go through the lengthy download process again.

But the MacBook declared the install file was invalid after transferring it to the laptop, so, figuring that it must be true, went and downloaded it again on the MacBook, which took about three hours. After which the same invalidation occurred, and could I download it yet again?

I ended up trying to download it three times more over the next couple of days, and three times more it said the same damn thing. Three times. Nearly half a day wasted total.

I figured something must be wrong with Yosemite, then, and proceeded to reinstall the old OS first and restoring the old setup from my Time Machine backup before trying El Capitan again, but it turned out I didn’t need to restore the old setup because the reinstall just involved the OS itself and left my data and apps alone.

But still the same invalidation.

So I gritted my teeth and went in feet first with a serious, from-scratch Yosemite re-install, downloaded fresh, directly from Apple. and a TM recovery.

I went in with a bootable USB drive, used Disk Utility to wipe the SSD clean, and proceeded with a fresh Yosemite install. It took the by-now requisite three hours of download, then an additional hour getting it actually installed. Then, without restoring anything yet, I copied the El Capitan installation from the external USB drive and crossed my fingers.

It finally got approved, and then I was off to the races. Finally. It’s working fine, and I’m writing this post under it now.

It was performing as advertised. Everything they said would work sort of worked, and everything they said wouldn’t, didn’t. I had to reinstall the Java legacy package in order to get my older apps to work. A couple of apps borked on it (a big loss was MenuMeters, but iStat Menus was a good replacement), and I had to update a couple more, and then I had to redo my Mail database over. Otherwise it was fine.

To my surprise, even the WD MyPassport Ultra external drive worked flawlessly with it, when it refused to be recognised by my iMac under El Cap.


Encouraged, I went and tried again to install it on my iMac again, against my better judgement.

It went swimmingly at first.

The saved install worked fine and pretty soon (well, an hour or so) I was able to start using El Cap on my iMac. The usual Java thing had to be done, of course, and the Mail database updated and the various and sundry little tics had to be attended to. My Photos library was “corrupted” and refused to be recognised, but a quick trip to my Time Machine backup took care of that. But the MyPassport drive still refused to be recognised, no matter what I did. This was a big thing for me, and I hemmed and hawed whether or not to reinstall the old OS or wait, hopefully, for a quick WD solution in the coming days.

The decision was taken out of my hands when I did my usual restart.

I have this SOP whenever I maintain my computer system or upgrade the OS—after doing everything I needed to do, I restart the Mac to get everything on an even keel and start afresh, something I don’t regularly do (I usually leave the Mac running for weeks on end). That’s when the trouble started.

When I restarted, the iMac hung on the boot up screen. It did the same thing it did when I first tried to install the official El Cap release earlier this week. I waited patiently for it to complete doing its thing, but it never did. I waited for over an hour, then turned it off and tried again. A couple more times. Nothing doing. It was just that Apple logo on the big grey screen for ninety minutes plus. Sigh.

I gave up.

It was late already, but I needed to restore the Yosemite setup and get my system back in working order; I couldn’t sleep with my computer in limbo. Thank the stars for Time Machine.

Maybe I’ll try to install again with the next update. For now, I’m happy with the system the way it is.

In the meantime, I reiterate what I said in Part One: El Capitan sucks.



Posted in Apples, Commentary, Software | 1 Response

Where cheapskates go to eat in Cubao



I frequent Cubao, that struggling old commercial center, a lot because it’s on the way to my various destinations—a hub if you will—to Makati or BGC or Manila or wherever it is I need to go during the week. More often than not, I’m usually there (going out or on the way back home) during lunch or merienda time (sometimes for breakfast, but that doesn’t happen very often), and I’ve learned where to eat that’s really cheap.

That’s where I usually have my lunch or merienda, at least when I’m by myself and don’t have to worry about another person, and not worry about socially “acceptable” protocols. It’s great if I’m concerned about conserving my budget, which these days happens more often than I’d like it to. It may not be all that healthy and isn’t really on my doctor’s preferred menu for me, but I’ve learned to manage. Besides, it only happens twice or thrice a week.

In the months/years I’ve been going there, I’ve eventually discovered the best and cheapest places to go. Here is where you can usually get, if not a filling lunch meal, at least a robust merienda for, or under, P100 in Cubao:

  • McDonald’s in Ali Mall, Gateway or the New Frontier area: a simple fried chicken and rice meal (drinks optional); P98
  • KFC in Ali Mall, the Fiesta Carnival building or Gateway: the new Famous Bowl, which is a combination of mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, corn, grated cheese and gravy; P50. You can have two of them and still remain within the P100 budget (again, drinks optional).
  • Sbarro’s in Ali Mall: a big slice of plain cheese pizza (drinks optional); P49/P59 (depending on if they have a promo or not). You can have two slices and still remain within budget.
  • Jollibee in Ali Mall or Farmer’s Market: a drink, a plate of spaghetti and a Yumburger; P79
  • Steak Escape in Gateway: a sizzling plate composed of java rice, fried egg and a choice between longaniza, tocino, franks or corned beef, and a small drink; P89
  • S&R New York Style Pizza at Puregold: a big slice of New York style supreme pizza and a medium drink; P100
  • Sgt. Sisig at SM Cubao: pork sisig, rice and a glass of gulaman sago; P70
  • Greenwich at Ali Mall or Gateway Mall: a personal supreme pizza (drink optional); P100
  • Tropical Hut at Farmer’s Market: a burger, spaghetti and a regular drink; P89
  • Sisig Hooray at Gateway Mall: rice, pork sisig (drink optional), P65
  • Goldilocks Bakeshop at Ali Mall or Gateway Mall: dinuguan w/ plain rice or puto and a drink, P60; assorted budget meals with rice and drink, P65-P95
  • Chowking in Ali Mall or Gateway: 4 pc. lumpiang shanghai with egg fried rice and a drink, P98; Yang Chow Fan with drink, P79, (with fried dumplings) P98.


I’m nowhere near being an extreme cheapskate (ako pa!) specially with food, but I’ve realized it takes very little to satisfy me when it comes to eating out alone. I sorta relish the minimalist vibe of a reasonable budget meal eaten quickly by myself than a slow, ponderous, elaborate and expensive lunch at a fancy restaurant.

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the truly budget places around the area, the various rock-bottom price turo-turos and karinderias that dot the place where you can have a reasonably hearty, home cooked meal for P50. I don’t strictly have an aversion to them and would eat there if I had to, but health-wise, avoiding them if you can is still the safest bet, I think. You never know what they really put in that menudo. I’d rather spend a little more on food then spend a little more time in the bathroom.

There. That’s something about me you probably didn’t know.


Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

Closed beta galore!


It’s great to own a new game console, even if you have to watch your budget getting the games for it. But right now I’m mired in free closed beta tests and demos on the PS4. (A new game usually costs upwards of P2.4K, and I have to watch what I buy.)  There was a time when I didn’t have any betas to play with, but now the invitations are coming in droves, and I’m knee deep in them.

Game developers often send out technical or gameplay tests for their projects for free to interested players willing to help them out and test them, so they send out short samples of their games as “betas.” Some of them are closed betas and are only by invitation and strictly monitored, and some are open betas available to all players.

To be perfectly honest, I actively seek them out now and register to be part of the closed betas, then cross my fingers and hope to get selected. I have many pending invitations as a result. There are open betas widely available, like Nathan Drake’s Uncharted collection (that one was short, but sweet; I wish there was more of it), and I don’t really have to expend much effort to join. But some are very exclusive and very strict, like Rainbow Six: Siege, and locks you down with an oppressive NDA right off the bat.

But they’re all good. Lets you play a free game, or at least a small section of it, for a little while.

Just recently, I got:

  • Rainbox Six: Siege
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
  • Hardware: Rivals
  • Hyper Void
  • Need For Speed

And some of the big guns haven’t even showed up yet. There’s the Star Wars Battlefront beta coming next week and The Division shortly after that, and a lot more on the horizon.

It’s great to be able to try out a game first before you but the bullet and spend on them; weeds out the crappy ones right away. Which is why I constantly troll the PS Store for any new demos I can try. If anything, you get a gaming fix for free, at least for a little while.

It’s fun to have a PS4!

Posted in Video Games | Leave a comment