Philippine Banks and Their Technology

Banks should be in the bleeding edge of technology. But in the Philippines, they might not be as advanced as we’d like them to be.

Take for example the experience I had while managing my account with BDO Online Banking. Every so often, their system requires password change.

Their password change page details the valid password that the system can accept. The third item says passwords must contain uppercase, lowercase, number and special characters. But then, special characters such as [!#$%^&';"] are not allowed.

My questions:

  • Why not allow the characters: [!#$%^&';"]?
  • Wouldn’t it have been more helpful if you enumerated the set of special characters I can choose from to use in my password instead?
  • I use a password manager. After copying my password from my password manager, why don’t you allow pasting into these fields from my clipboard?

My concerns may seem so trivial, but trivial things like these make or break a great online banking experience.

OnePlus 8 Pro Camera Takes Amazing Night Shots

I must have been living under a rock for the last 3 or so years, enjoying so much my Samsung Galaxy Note 8, that it’s only now that I realized how night-time photography has improved recently. I know for a fact that this improvement in the camera system is not unique to my OnePlus 8 Pro, I’ve watched YouTube reviews taking the sides of the iPhone 12 series or the Samsung Galaxy S20 or Note 20 series cameras over OnePlus 8 Pro’s when it comes to night-time photography.

Nevertheless, I’m impressed with my OnePlus 8 Pro camera’s Nightscape mode. To my bare eyes, the streets and the skies are almost pitch black, but the phone’s camera, under the Nightscape mode, sees another way. Here are samples of night shots I took (note: except for the black line to hide the car’s plate number, I didn’t apply any further processing or modifications to the pictures. They are how they came out straight from the camera phone): Check out sample shots here →

OnePlus 8 Pro vs Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Here’s the comparison of the Snapdragon OnePlus 8 Pro vs. the Exynos Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra:

Apparently, I made a good decision with my OnePlus 8 Pro. Time for Samsung to drop Exynos altogether. Otherwise, they’ll lose me for good. Watch the full comparative video below:

I ditched Samsung for OnePlus because of Exynos

Don’t get me wrong, I had the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, running on octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895, for the last 3 years, and loved it. The One UI still runs smooth, the camera is still superb. The battery could use a good replacement, but really, if it were just me, that phone could see at least 2 more years of good use.

Truth be told, I was a Samsung fan. But it’s now 2020, and yet Samsung only offers the Exynos chip in this part of the world where I’m at, especially for its top-of-the-line smartphone lineup. It has been fairly documented how Exynos is a lot inferior against its comparable Snapdragon chip, from processing speed to temperature to battery life.

Apparently, if you have the Exynos version of the same Samsung model phone, you’re getting the shorter end of the stick. You’ve been shortchanged by Samsung. Continue reading “I ditched Samsung for OnePlus because of Exynos”

Do you need an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for your system?

This is a timely video, I’ve been thinking about getting an Intel NUC, but the idea that I might need to set it up along a UPS defeats the purpose of a mini PC. The additional cost of the UPS left me even more confused, thus the reluctance.

Thanks to this video, I’m more convinced I don’t need a UPS. Now, deciding, should I go with the NUC 10i3 + 16GB RAM or the 10i7 + 32GB RAM?

Where to buy SnapDragon Samsung phones in the Philippines?

Saw this price list on Facebook, which includes the following Samsung phones running in SnapDragon chips towards the end of the list:

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G (SnapDragon SM-N9860)
12gb / 256gb = P53,000
12gb / 512gb = P60,000

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G (SnapDragon SM-N9810)
8gb / 256gb = P42,000

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (SnapDragon)
12gb / 256gb = P49,000

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (SnapDragon)
8gb / 128gb = P30,000

Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G (SnapDragon)
12gb / 128gb = P42,000

Samsung Galaxy S20 (SnapDragon)
128gb = P39,000

Samsung only offers the Exynos variant of its flagship smartphones in the Philippines. That’s why it’s great to know there are stores in Greenhills that make the SnapDragon variants available to local consumers.

How to connect to Google Cloud Platform web server via FTP?

With the absence of CPanel, managing your website on Google Cloud Platform is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, you’ll find that an FTP or SFTP connection to your web server will come in handy especially when you have plugins and PHP functions that break your WordPress website.

Here is the tutorial I followed and that worked for my case in connecting Filezilla on my desktop PC to my Google Cloud Platform web/file server:

Once you’re connected, you can find your WordPress installation in: /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs. This location is valid if you installed WordPress via the WordPress Certified by Bitnami and Automattic software from the GCP Marketplace.

Filezilla and Putty Key Generator are safe applications if you downloaded them from valid websites.

Security Bank InstaPay Temporarily Unavailable

Security Bank may have been one of those generous Philippine banks who graciously waived fees for InstaPay transactions until at least the year 2020 ends, in order to accommodate seamless and contactless interbank fund transfers during this pandemic period.

 

Continue reading “Security Bank InstaPay Temporarily Unavailable”

Smart GIGA Pro Out! GOMO is the way to go!

In these new Giga packages of Smart, you’ll be allocated 3GB per day, and they expire, well, as often as, every day! Whether you like it or not, you’ll be forced to consume that much data in a day, otherwise you can bid them goodbye anyway.

In real life, however, we don’t stop, we GOMO! For P299, you’ll have 25GB of data that never expire. If you really are a heavy user, you’ll actually find this expensive, as this translates to ~P1,200 for 100GB, vs. Smart’s 114GB for ~P1,000. But really, don’t you bump into slack days when you’d wish you could hold on to some of your data?

We’re not even talking here yet about the much cheaper call and text rates should you opt to convert some of your GOMO data to text and/or call minutes.

So, unless Smart could find a way to compete to what GOMO offers, Globe will surely be the winner here.

How to Use Power Query to Pull Data from a CloudFlare Protected Website

I run Microsoft Excel’s Power Query daily in order to pull data from the BAP website for the USD/PHP rates for the day, which in turn I save in an Airtable database as a record for that day.

This week, however, it seems that BAP has implemented CloudFlare DDoS Protection, which helps it to combat DDoS attacks. Good for BAP, they can minimize what we’ve experienced downtimes in the past. Bad for me, now I’m getting 503 error in my query.

So how do we deal with this in Power Query? A quick Google search yields not much of a result. There’s one posted in June 2017 on Mr. Excel forum, 3 years and no one bothered with an answer.

Continue reading “How to Use Power Query to Pull Data from a CloudFlare Protected Website”