Thursday, December 22, 2005

Top 3 Websites of 2005

Rating: 11111

Best music recommendation website:
- it's an online radio that will help you discover more music that you'll like. start it off by giving your favorite song or favorite artist and it will construct a radio station (that you can actually listen to!) that plays similar songs! This is where I discovered Brett Dennen's Desert Sunrise.

Best social bookmarking website - this service lets you save bookmarks online and associate "tags" with it--very useful if you use multiple computers to surf the 'net. The power of this service is that you can share your tags with others and they can see yours, too. I use this as an alternative to google when I'm searching because all the entries in here are *filtered* by humans-- minimal garbage here.

Best tech-news website
Digg - "users submit stories for review, but rather than allowing an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do." This is where pandora was "discovered" and is one of my sources for interesting tech-news.

Coming a close fourth is Gmail-- I like that fact that it has 2.5 gigs of storage space and increasing by the second. I like its concept of mail "conversations" which takes a bit of getting used to but definitely reduces clutter and how it does away with folders and uses "labels" instead.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

ReviewsByP's Top 5 Freeware of 2005

Rating: 11111

Ok, ok so even if you're on dialup, some of these will still apply to you but if you're on DSL, these programs become more meaningful. So without further ado, Starts With P presents 2005's Best Free software every DSL subscriber should have:

The best free web browser:No ads. Better browsing.
Opera web browser - Simply the best web browser for me-- built in pop-up blocking, mouse gestures (hold right button and move mouse to the left to go to the previous page), search from within the browser, built in RSS feed reader, "one-touch" toggling of images/setting of proxy servers and so much more!

Firefox comes a very close second. This is the browser I recommend for the typical user (your lola or nanay or non-techies) as it provides a safer, faster and better alternative to internet explorer!

The best free antivirus
AVG Anti-virus by Grisoft. This is a no-nonsense virus scan with a light footprint (doesn't take much memory!). It just sits in the background, updates itself automatically and does its job quietly and effectively.

The best free firewall:
ZoneAlarm. This software protects your PC from hackers and malicious programs. It may be difficult to setup at first and can become annoying because you have to "allow" each program access to the internet but this is precisely why I like it-- control over which applications get to access the net.

The best bittorrent client:
Azureus. Naku if you still don't know what a torrent is, you're missing out! Think of it as a very fast way to download whole albums of music, TV episodes or whole movies! It's like napster or kazaa-- only faster and more reliable. If you're downloading lots of torrents, it could use quite a lot of your PC's resources which brings me to my second best bittorrent client: uTorrent (pronounced meeyoo torrent). uTorrent is smaller and faster than azureus but I just like azureus better.

The best free encryption: Truecrypt. What's so cool about this program is you can create a "virtual" drive (for example drive X:) that you can access like any ordinary drive-- you can open it in windows explorer, you can drag and drop files, etc.. *but* the contents of this drive are encrypted! You can use this on your USB flash memory or use it to hide your photos or important documents.

I hope you enjoy these personal favorites of mine! Let me know of your experiences with these software and tell me your own top five.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Desert Sunrise by Brett Dennen (lyrics and chords)

Rating: 11111
I know it's baduy to post song lyrics in blogs but once you hear Brett Dennen's Desert Sunrise MP3 (five pawikan points!), you'll understand why I spent a night to transcribe this and get the chords. It's about how she's like sunrise on a desert.


Desert Sunrise by Brett Dennen
(play with a capo on the 1st fret)

CM7 G Em D/F#
a desert sunrise you warm my soul
painting me in shades of clay, covering me whole.
and I'm a lizard sunbathing in-- your radiance; oh I crawl out of hiding.
so sweet, so sweet you are.
if I could only have a taste, wrap my lips around your flavor.
just because you are you, just because you are... So beautiful

CM7 Bm Am Bm
and I've been waiting all this life in the company of one
and I know I am young but I don't wanna be alone
if you could only just consider the two of us,
and I know darling I could be so good to you

G D/F# CM7 Am
see you rising on the horizon
bringing light into the day
and I'm coasting on your rhais.
when I awoke you spoke to the mist of the mystic bliss casting shadows
oh no my dismal yesterdays.

G D/F# CM7 Am
do you remember that you told me darling: that I was so real
ill tell you all-- my tears for you are real
well cross that bridge again someday, I know we will, I hope we will.

CM7 G Em D/f#
a desert sunset, a lullaby.
if I could give it all to you if you'd only let me try
sing so sweetly, its my only wish
music drips from your lips like sweet sips of a summer's kiss summer raindrops
precious tongues twist.

repeat refrain
repeat II

CM7 G Em D/f#
a desert moon rise into the night
before we lay our heads I wish to walk under the splendor of starlight
sing so sweetly is the sweetest sound
and I become weak in the knees and I drop down to kiss the ground
and all my cares lie far below
in this earth I wish to die, in this hearth my fire grows.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

White Cove Resort, Nasugbu, Batangas

Rating: 11000
I was disappointed at the dilapidated state of UCPB-managed White Cove Resort:

  • The sand is not fine at all! Dig a couple of centimeters down and you see that the soil becomes dark and black-- looks like it's not natural and they *ship* sand to this resort.
  • Woefully inadequate and poorly designed cabanas. (actually there's no design at all-- a couple of wooden beams and a roof. )
  • So-so food and lousy ambience of the open-air veranda (the Coco Bar was closed for renovations). It's basically a cement floor with karinderya-style tables and white monobloc chairs-- plus, there's no view at all! The cabanas, roof and the fact that it's situated a bit in-land ensures you have a limited view of the sea.
  • The TV in the room doesn't have local channels--they only show piped-in movies and they only play until 1am!
  • The general state and feel of the whole place-- the facades of the buildings really need to be retouched and at night, the place is... eerie, like a haunted house.
Nevertheless, I still had a great time not because of the place but because of the company I brought with me! Things I liked about the place are:
  • The rates are reasonable.
  • the rooms are surprisingly spacious, air-conditioned, clean and the bathrooms are beautiful!
  • no corkage! You can bring in your own food and booze!
If you're on a budget, This is a place that your barkada can go to on a long weekend. It's easy to find because their website provides clear driving directions. Don't expect much from the beach (even the sunset is so-so) but for some good fun, make sure you bring your own videoke mic, mp3 player and speakers, food, drinks and a big barkada to last the whole night!

If you liked this review, you may also want to read my reviews of Terrazas de Punta Fuego and La Luz Beach Resort
If you're interested in the latest showbiz chismis, Pinoy celebrity bloggers and other Pinoy food/travel bloggers, have a look at my latest project:

Friday, November 25, 2005

O Kitchen, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave, Libis

Rating: 11110.5O, Kitchen
This one's a bit hard to find. To get here, make sure you're on the same side as Shopwise on E. Rodriguez Ave., libis-- Hang a right at a small eskinita right after Caterpillar, before the big Floor Center. You'll see a single storey, nondescript building to your right-- "O Kitchen".

Though it could use a better name, what it lacks in creativity, the resto more than makes up for it with it's classy, intimate look and food. This would be more at home in greenbelt instead of this small side street!

The pinoy food is delicious and best of all, the plating and presentation is unexpected for its affordable php100 - php150 per dish.

Try their tilapia steak, binagoongang lechon kawali, crispy adobo flakes and grape shake. Their crispy sizzling sisig was more sticky than crispy. The rice is presented artfully (in triangles instead of the usual cup), however it was a bit nakakabitin because of the smaller portions.

At the end of our meal, we were pleasantly surprised when we were presented with a complementary plate of kamote topped with caramelized sugar. Apparently, they do this for all their guests. A classy touch that earns the place four and a half pawikan points.

Monday, November 21, 2005

UCC (Ueshima Coffee Company), Westgate Complex, Alabang

Rating: 11100
After that heavy and satisfying dinner at Zong, we decided to try the dessert at Japan's famous UCC which was located a stone's throw away.

Unlike Starbucks or Cafe Breton, this place wasn't exactly bursting with people. Each table had a little button you could press for service; I found that feature pretty cool and it kinda offset the pre-recorded lecture about the history of UCC that would interrupt the music every so often.

Try their mango panacotta, coffee jelly (with fresh kiwi fruit) or the iced coffee float-- they're pretty good but for the price of about Php150-Php200 (!), they're not *that* good. Our three desserts almost cost as much as our dinner for two at Zong!

I rate this place three pawikan points. The service was excellent but because of the prohibitive cost, I think I'd rather hang out someplace else. (Or maybe next time I should try their meals instead of the dessert.) Check out Yehey's article about UCC.

Zong chinese restaurant, Westgate, Alabang

Rating: 11110
zong chinese restaurant Last night I had the pleasure of eating at another chinese restaurant in the mold of Northpark and Superbowl-- Zong. Located in the westgate complex in Alabang, Zong sits in a stark and squarish, zen-looking building which I mistakenly took for a Japanese restaurant.

It's well-lit interiors, bench-style seats and long tables will instantly tell you that this place was designed for big parties. This is where you could go to have your big birthday libre or office dinner-out.

Since the portions are all for sharing, I'd recommend that you come here with at least a group of four so you can order and try a lot more stuff. Even if you come out smelling like a Chinese restaurant, the reasonably priced dishes, tasty, msg-free (according to the placemats) food will make up for it.

They've got one of the best salted, spicy squid I've ever had however they have a paltry selection of dimsum and the taste is so-so. For dimsum, i'd still go to Gloria Maris.

Their motto suggests that dining there is "an experience worthy of contemplation and remembrance"-- I would beg to disagree-- it's your typical Chinese restaurant; lots of good food, a great venue for long, boisterous meals with family and friends but it's not something i'd meditate over.

I give this four pawikan points-- plus points for the modern, not-your-typical-Chinese-resto look. Check out the Manila Times' article about Zong.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Zuppa, Cyberone Mall, Eastwood, Libis

Rating: 11110.5
This is my all time favorite places to have lunch in Eastwood City. Located on the 3rd floor of Cyberone Mall (right beside IBM Plaza) is Zuppa Cafe, they're open 24 hours and I must say that these guys serve the best rice-toppings.

Each dish costs about Php80 - Php110, the portions are big and it will definitely hit the spot. If you're watching your carbs, you may want to share with a friend. I highly recommend their Thai Bagoong rice (sweet beef strips topped with shredded green mangoes), spicy Bulgogi Gogo and the calamares. I wasn't too happy with their seafood bowl because it's mostly processed food like squidballs, fishballs and crabsticks-- better stick to their non-seafood fare.

This is the place to go to have a quick, no-nonsense, nutritious, tasty and affordable meal and I give this four and a half pawikan points.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Man of La Mancha, Repertory Philippines

Rating: 11111
I watched Repertory Philippines' gala premier of Dale Wasserman's "Man of La Mancha" (a musical based on Miguel de Cervantes' novel "Don Quixote" and directed by Baby Barredo) and what a musical it was!

This play was even more meaningful because it was dedicated to the late Bibot Amador, our very own Woman of La Mancha who requested this as the last show of the season before she passed away.

Everything was beautifully executed! From the very first scene with a rousing Flamenco by
Clara Ramona (plus points for her cool clappers!) to the live musical accompaniment of nothing less than the Manila Symphony Orchestra conducted by master Toti Molina (plus points for the snare drummer), and the choreography (Oh the choreography!) of Douglas Nierras, this play is definitely the best of Rep that I've ever seen (and i've seen the last two seasons!).

The acting of rep veterans
Michael Williams (as Don Quixote), Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo (as Aldonza/Dulthinea) and Robbie Guevara (as Sancho) were flawless (as usual!) but I could sometimes hear a slight Filipino accent from Sancho. The singing was perfect (plus points to whoever trained the whole cast) They really did justice to the music of Mitch Leigh.

It's hard to say what my favorite parts were because I was enthralled all through-out but I remember "Dulcinea" for its boisterous feel and "I'm Only Thinking Of Him" for its vocals.

It seems that each moment was engineered to be a photo-op as the blocking/choreography was always picture perfect. This play is total, absolute eye candy (thanks to
the lush sets by Jun Cumagun and the stage lighting of Lito Borromeo.)

The five pawikan points i'm giving this play doesn't do it any justice. They say it's madness-- "to see life as it is, and not as it should be!" but I think it would be a greater tragedy if you don't come out and see this play.