Budget Smartphones – Hit or Miss?

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By John Paolo J. Bencito

Smartphones nowadays no longer hold the face of being intimidating instruments or expensive toys teeming with superfluous features.

The advent of “budget smartphones” – compromised counterparts of high-end ones brings good news to the budget-conscious, tech-loving consumer as prices are coming down all the time.

Going back to compromise, is the hefty price tagreally worth-it of your hard-earned money? We have some reasons for you to think before crunching up your cash.


Ah yes. The obvious reason in purchasing a budget smartphone is the low cost that comes with features of a high-end one at a convenient and reasonable price is not a small thing.

Plus the fact thatit is cheaper to replace the parts. If there is some huge scratch on the screen, or on the rare, to change the battery, they all come handy at reasonable prices.

That is not the case with high-end smartphones. It will cost you a real good amount of money to change the spares parts of an extensive flagship smartphone.

Another amazing thing to note is that you will get almost all the features available in a high end smartphone in a budget smartphone. There is a trend prevailing right now that once a flagship phone releases with high end specs and sky high price tag, expect a Filipino or Chinese replica will be released soon with almost similar features and design, but with a stunningly lower price tag.

Didn’t we forget to mention that there won’t be emotional dilemmas once your smartphones go wary? Imagine breaking your iPhone screen or losing it to pickpockets in Divisoria, Recto or Cubao. Take in to consideration the huge fortune you spent on the high-priced smartphone, you are sure to lose the peace of mind.


Well, every good thing will have a darker side. Low budget smartphones are never an exception. No matter how hard you try to buy your budget phone with the best accessories in the market (flip covers, screen protectors, etc.), it will still lack the premium look of the high-end smartphone.

Some manufacturersmay still try to bring out the best from their design department, but as they have to keep the price in the border line, the cost of production would be forced to cut down. That will affect the look of the smartphone too.

Another concern for frequent users of these budget smartphones is the poor, crappy, underprivileged, deprived, pitiable memory and storage! Storage options will be far lower in low priced phones when compared with the high priced ones.

Apps and games will be suffering. If you are an ardent game player or an app lover, there are chances that the RAM of the low priced smartphones will surely freak your head out. Expect the frequent lags that rescinds the “smartphone experience”.

Low-priced smartphones are not meant for the future. One of the main advantages of a high end smartphone is that the features and technology incorporated in it would be the latest and it will be getting out dated very slowly.

Compared to this, the budget smartphones will be lacking the latest technology and so, will be getting outdated in a sooner pace.

Lastly, the after sales service for the budget friendly phones can be dissatisfying at times. You will not be treated as gently as your device is a cheaper one and the shop owners will not be getting that profit from it as with the expensive smartphones. There will and always be exceptional cases, of course.

The Verdict

If you do have the extra time to take hold of your precious cash, try to save up to get a smartphone of a reasonable price with above average features. Remember that your smart phone is an investment, and your enjoyment is a first.
Think well before you stash off that hard-earned cash. Whether it is low priced or expensive, the money is yours and the phone is yours and it should be suitable to you.

Before finalizing the decision, make sure that the phone you chose is the apt one for you. If there is something you want missing in the phone, don’t go for it.
There are a plenty of phones (local or foreign brands) available right out there with all the requirements. Just be a bit patient in purchasing.

Mr. Bencito is a graduating student of Journalism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila. He is currently an intern for OpinYon.

MERIC MARA: Making Open Source Technology Pinoy-Friendly

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Meric Mara is currently CEO and CTO of 8layer Technologies, makers of KahelOS, a ‘Filipino-friendly’ operating system based on Linux.
Linux or GNU/Linux, unlike Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS, is a free and open source software operating system for computers. The operating system is a collection of the basic instructions that tell the electronic parts of the computer what to do and how to work.

Free and open source software (FOSS) means that everyone has the freedom to use it, see how it works, and change it.
There is a lot of software for Linux, and since Linux is free software, it means that none of the software will put any license restrictions on users. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people, especially IT professionals, like to use Linux.

Meric considers himself a hardcore Linux enthusiast, and he is an active advocate for various open source projects and initiatives.

It was during his college days that Meric got deep into programming, while looking for ways to make his work easier. This kind of mindset led him to eventually find ways to make software more user-friendly.

Open Source means Sharing
As current CEO/CTO of 8layer Technologies, he considers his job role as more of giving direction to the company, planning expansion programs and doing the research and development.

Unlike typical commercial outfits, Meric believes in sharing knowledge to everyone. Every time his company discovers new technologies, they make it a point to share knowledge to Filipino students.

The most basic business strategy with open source technology involves making the operating system available to users. The OS already has essential programs such as a word processor, an office suite, a web browser, and media players.

The user can then have the option to buy affordable software add-ins from the company if he wants to expand and enhance his use of the OS.
Meric believes that more and more young Filipinos have the potential to get into open source technology. He knows that the open source movement is very progressive and the low cost of building computer technologies based on the system is just right for a developing country like the Philippines.

As far as experience is concerned, Meric has more than a decade’s worth of work in various IT fields. His leadership style and know-how led him to clients who are impressed with his expertise.

Meric spearheads various projects that involve designing specialized software for the government, power companies, oil mills, retail and distribution, gaming, telcos and BPOs, among so many others.

Local IT industry leader
Even before he worked full-time for 8layer, he has already established himself in the local IT industry. For one, he has founded the sites and for programmers, web developers, and system administrators who want to collaborate in finding solutions to technical problems.

Meric has also held critical and management positions in various companies in the past, which includes Ecommsite Solutions, Unionbank of the Philippines, IDS Finance, and Philworld Online.

Under his direction, 8layer has grown to become one of the country’s trusted IT companies. The group has partnered and worked with Intel, PLDT, IBM and Digium.
The first Pinoy-friendly OS
Together with 8layer colleagues Deng Silorio, Jasper Tomas, and Lariz Santos, Meric helped develop what is now known as the first operating system that caters to the needs of the average Filipino computer user.

Based on the Linux operating system created by open source pioneer Linus Torvalds, the ‘KahelOS’, qualified for the top ten list of, an online site that charts and monitors Linux distributions, or distros, worldwide, upon its release.

The first version of KahelOS was developed with no funding years ago. The team acknowledges that it was through sheer passion for innovation and love of sharing.

Another thing that motivated the 8layer group was that they wanted to create an operating system that will both cater to Pinoy sensibilities and represent the Philippines in the global open source community.

At the same time, the team also wants KahelOS to be something that everyone can use for free, even if they are not Filipino.

Unlike some Linux distros that are difficult to use, KahelOS has a user-friendly interface that allows for easy, quick, and friendly installation.

To further promote the OS, its developers have created a mascot named ‘Mulat’ (wide-eyed or awakened in Tagalog). It was patterned after the endangered tarsier of Bohol, and the developers want Mulat to represent openness and awareness.

Although the OS was developed mainly by 8layer Technologies, it was improved upon by online volunteers from the open source community who tested the software and checked for coding errors.

Meric and his colleagues are very appreciative of the fact that other Filipino and international contributors have shared in 8layer’s vision.

The 8layer team hopes that the Filipino community “would not put this noble, passionate and useful innovation to waste.” KahelOS has already earned international accolades since its early development, and it would be ironic if Pinoys disregard something that many computer users worldwide consider very useful software.

As Meric’s colleague Deng would say, “We are sure that there are thousands, if not millions, of benefits and savings we can derive in using this free operating system in our schools and government offices,” she said.

The Smartwatch: Need Or Want?

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By Erick A. Fabian

Average tech consumers should know this about smartwatches: they are not stand-alone devices. They are accessories that will only work when linked to a smartphone, if you own one.

Smartwatches, as they are now, only show notifications, e-mails, messages and other basic details while worn on the wrist. The idea is that you don’t have to waste time or pause to pull your smartphone out from your bag or pocket.

It can also provide a way for the user to check emails and social media messages by glancing on a watch during a meeting, because glancing at a smartphone in the middle of a conversation can be considered discourteous.

One important question that tech critics keep asking is whether smartwatches are only meant to augment the smartphone, or whether it will replace the smartphone.

Manufacturers are still in the process of figuring out what exactly these devices can be useful for. What can smartwatches offer the tech consumer that isn’t being provided by smartphones and tablets already?

According to Carl Howe, vice president of research and data sciences at the Yankee Group, “The fact of the matter so far is that consumers don’t want smartwatches as they are currently designed. That’s why they don’t sell. That suggests that today’s products are largely technology solutions for problems that don’t strike most consumers as true needs; they simply are gadgets.”

The watch as a piece of technology is a long-time classic because it has served a basic purpose for generations: to measure time. Whether it was the pocket watch in the late 1400s, the wristwatch of the 1900s, or the digital wristwatch of the 1970s up to present, it rarely deviated from its original function, except for a few additional features such as a built-in thermometer, radio, and calculator.

Futurists and tech theorists have foreseen the eventual computerization of the tried-and-tested wristwatch. The diminishing size of microchips, pixels, and batteries is going to make it all come true.

That the watch will eventually become an all-around device is beside the point. The question is whether the smartwatch is a practical tool for the jet-setting generation, and whether it is a solution to people’s needs.

The smartphone is fast becoming a technological mainstay because it answers the need for portable devices that can do the work of personal assistants.

There is talk in the tech industry about Apple, the maker of the iPad and Mac computers, getting into the smartwatch race. Samsung and other manufacturers are releasing model after model of smartwatches, and consumers are considering giving them as gifts for birthdays and holidays.

The idea is to make the watch come back as the leading portable device for personal use. Many tech critics are not yet convinced of its long-term functionality.

As of this moment, smartwatches are still considered a fashionable consumer-tech trend, affordable by people with extra money to burn but not a practical device for work or business purposes.


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Who is afraid of Google Glass?

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The assumption with Google Glass today is that you know you’re on camera – and you no longer know if you’re being filmed by your conversation partner or not.

First there was the Google Car. Now, there’s Google Glass, which hasn’t even launched publicly yet and is already causing initial public discomfort, nicknamed the new ‘Segway’ – a costly, crazy-looking device too weird to be revolutionary.

Google Glass looks just like a pair of glasses, sans the lenses. What it is, is a band across your forehead with a tiny screen fixed on the upper-right side.

With a simple tap of the earpiece and spoken commands, the user can direct it to perform the tasks of a smart phone, such as saving a memo or doing a quick internet search.

One would think that the biggest concern this device would have is the distraction it would cause, and the new heights of impoliteness it implies when you scan your e-mail during a face-to-face conversation.

Despite this, it was shown that Google Glass doesn’t put anything in front your eyes. Its screen is actually so small that it doesn’t block your normal vision. And because it’s actually hands-free, it should be exceptionally handy.

On the other hand, Google Glass may have difficulty in obtaining social acceptance, and not just for its price and for being another gadget you have to charge every night.

The biggest obstacle here is the arrogance of people who wear the Glass, and the discomfort of everyone who doesn’t.
Google employees have been allowed to wear the glass for a year. People have said that interaction with users of Google Glass is awkward and ‘screamingly uncomfortable.’

Google Glass was described by one observer as a “creepy-looking, faux-futuristic forehead band with a built-in video camera pointed at my face.” It brings about paranoia that one is actually being recorded on the device.

The Google Glass wearers are put in control where they can take pictures and videos, post things online and even possibly use face-recognition applications to identify strangers in a crowd.

However, months before its public launch, a bar in Seattle had them banned, saying that his patrons wouldn’t want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and put on the internet.


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By Ike Seneres

Legally speaking, there are no more usurers in the Philippines because anti-usury laws have been abolished. That is like saying that there are no more subversives in the Philippines too, because anti-subversion laws have also been abolished. The fact is, there are still many financiers who are lending money at usurious (merely a figure of speech now) rates, and there are still many people who are trying to undermine the government in subversive (also merely a figure of speech now) ways. As it is now, the laws might have removed the legal basis of the problems, but the problems still exist.

Under normal circumstances, no businessman in his right mind would borrow money at too high (read as usurious) interest rates, if only he could get much lower (read as reasonable) interest rates elsewhere. As it is supposed to be, businessmen are supposed to be able to get reasonable interest rates from legal (read as transparent) sources such as the banks, but that is easier said than done. As it actually happens, many businessmen are unable to borrow money from the banks because they are not “bankable” from the perspective of these banks.

As it is now, many businessmen could not get credit cards because of the same reason that they are not bankable. To put it another way, they could not get credit cards because they do not have a credit history, meaning that they do not have credit records. The good news is, anyone could now get prepaid credit cards, an oxymoron because these are actually just debit cards. The bad news however is that debit cards are not enough for businessmen to apply for merchant accounts, and these would actually exclude them from the world of electronic commerce.

By comparison, prepaid credit cards are better than the so-called money cards or cash cards because the former would enable anyone to establish credit records. It is also better to use prepaid credit cards instead of ATM cards for the purpose of paying for purchases, for the same goal of establishing credit records. Aside from relying on what bank records could do, it is also advisable for businessmen to establish good relationships with bank officers, so that there would be familiarity on the side of both parties when the time is right to apply for a loan or a credit card.

Not too long ago, businessmen had to apply for a merchant account in order to be able to accept credit card payments. Very recently however, Globe Telecom has launched a service that will enable anyone to accept credit card payments. This new service will surely revolutionize the way we do business on credit terms. Of course, this new service is no big deal for the big retailers because they have always had merchant accounts. Let us see how this new service could improve the revenues of our local businessmen.

Long before the mobile phone became a credit card machine, it has already become a Point of Sale (POS) machine. Until now however, handheld POS machines could only handle cash transactions. Now that the POS machine in the cell phone could already accept credit card and debit card payments, let us see what good it could do for our local businessmen. Down the line, I think that it will not be too long now before the mobile phone will also become an ATM machine. When that happens, it will actually be the ambulant businessman who will become your walking ATM machine.

It may just be a play of words, but the probable ambulant businessman of the future could actually be the lowly vendor of the present. Give the lowly vendor of today a phablet (a cross between a phone and a tablet), and he will have thousands of electronic brochures in his hand, and that would be more than enough for him or her to sell you anything under the sun. As if that is not enough, he or she will also be able to broker for you if you want to sell anything under the sun.

There was a time when lines were clearly drawn between internet commerce and mobile commerce. Now, the lines are practically gone, because anyone could do electronic commerce (e-commerce) using either a computer or a mobile phone. That is really nothing new, but what was missing before was ownership of a credit card to be able to buy anything online. That is not a problem now, because of open access to debit cards. What was also missing was the means to be able to sell anything online, and be able to accept credit card or debit card payments. That is also not a problem now. Beyond the credit cards, what our local businessmen needs now is more access to bank credit lines.

For feedback, email or text +639083159262

Network-Able Medical Equipment

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FOUR PILLARS OF MODERN COMPUTING: It was bound to happen, and the time has come for it to happen. Perhaps not too long ago, the field of medicine has been “taken over” by cloud computing, and from here onward, things will not be the same. Cloud computing is one of the pillars of modern computing. The other three pillars are broadband, big data and server virtualization. The field of medicine is not the only one that has been “taken over”. Practically every field of human activity could benefit from these four pillars.

CLOUD COMPUTING: Before cloud computing came along, companies or organizations had to put up their own data centers either in their own premises, or offsite in hosted facilities. That approach would entail a lot of capital expenses, investments that would go to waste as soon as the machines are depreciated. Because of cloud computing however, any company or organization could use the data centers of cloud service providers in remote locations. The internet cloud is neither a place nor a state of being, as many would try to describe heaven. In a manner of speaking, the internet cloud is the totality of computing power somewhere and everywhere, for everyone to use as long as they could afford it.

BIGGER BANDWIDTH: The bigger the bandwidth, the faster is the connectivity. From the very slow dial-up connectivity, we moved up to the not so slow digital service line (DSL) connectivity. Fast forward, many areas are now moving up to fiber connectivity. From that point on and onward, things will also not be the same. Broadband is the “juice” that enables us to transmit voice, text and data faster and better, the latter in terms of being more stable and more reliable. Because of broadband, we are now able to transmit or view larger files, and that includes big data.

BIG DATA: It could be said that big data has always been there, but until now the technology did not exist to mine all of it and to analyze all of it. Yes, the size of big data has always been there, but what is new is the ability of new technologies to read data, to fetch data deep down into the data assets, in ways that has not been done before. In layman terms, this would include every piece of data that has ever been recorded about a medical patient, no matter how many and how widespread it is. For example, that would include x-ray files and cardiograph files.

SERVER VIRTUALIZATION: Before virtualization came along, many servers were needed to provide the computing power of data centers. As it is now however, data centers including those in the internet cloud would need lesser servers. That means having more computing power with lesser expenses. This new technology is also good for the environment, because with lesser servers, lesser energy would be needed. In a related development, data storage space has been “divorced” from the servers, so much so that these are now scalable.

FROM BUYING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE TO BUYING SERVICES: Because of cloud computing, companies could now buy offsite services without buying hardware and software. Actually, clients could now buy “Software as a Service” (SaaS), instead of simply buying software licenses. This approach is directly related to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). More than ever, anything and everything could be outsourced now, and even the BPO companies could outsource their own computing needs to internet cloud service providers.

NETWORK-ABLE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT: Technically speaking, any machine that has a processor, a keypad and a display is a computer. That is why I always say that an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is a computer, and so is a Point of Sale Terminal (POST). Given that definition, any digital medical equipment is a computer, including dialysis machines and x-ray machines. I have known this all along, but I never thought that all digital medical equipment could be networked. As I see it now, the state of the present technology has surpassed my own imagination because the equipment could not only be networked now, these could also be located in the internet cloud, thus eliminating the need for on-site machines.

LEVELING THE HOSPITAL FIELD: Because of cloud computing, any hospital big or small could now have access to all kinds of medical equipment and devices, no matter where they are, for as long as they could connect to the internet. Before cloud computing came along, only the big hospitals could afford to buy the big pieces of equipment, thus subjecting the quality of medical services to the availability of big capital. The field has now been leveled for the good of all.

THE KEYPAD IS IN THE DISPLAY: Before smart alecks would argue with me about what I said, I will say it first, that the keypad in the tablets and the smart phones is in the display. Therefore, there is still a keypad (or a keyboard) in these devices, except that it is already in the display (or the screen). What is most important in these devices is now really the keypad, but the processor that makes it possible for the software and the applications to work.

MOBILE APPS VERSUS WEB BROWSERS: Apps and browsers are completely different from each other, although they could work alongside each other. Apps are software applications that are “native” to the devices. Apps “talk” to the servers to fetch data when needed, but most application features are already in the devices. On the other hand, browsers are simply “readers” (or surfing tools) so to speak. Browsers actually “read” data from a website, meaning to say that the data in this case is “native to” or are “residing” in the site that is offsite.

THE MOUNTAIN GOES TO MOHAMMED: Simply put, Mohammed no longer has to go to the mountain, because the mountain now goes to him, figuratively speaking. That’s a big wow!

For feedback, email or text +639083159262

Samsung Finally Launched the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

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Good news for photography enthusiasts: Samsung finally launched the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom.

Along with its unusual camera lens, it offers a 10x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization that can go from a focal length of 24mm to 240mm in just a snap.

It is pretty versatile for those who love to capture selfies, food, landscapes, concerts and other events.

K Zoom runs with the latest 4.4.2 KitKat version of Android OS and TouchWiz interface. There are several new enhancements on this device,including GoogleNow,an application that actively listens to voice commands.

It is also power-driven by a hexa-core processor made up of two 1.7GHz ARM A15 cores paired with four 1.3 GHz ARM A7 cores.

That means this smartphone has improved performance and will use power more efficiently,while being easy on battery life.

Techies will probablyraise their expectationsfor smartphone technology done by  other big-name manufacturers, because Samsung has raised the bar with this new product line. (Niks Aguila)

The Php600k Gaming Pc

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Yoyotech’s Aurum 24K sports a spectacular interior as is water-cooled, not air-cooled.The Aurum 24K isn’t just a fast PC. Many man-hours have been invested to add lots of customization to make the PC unique.Called the XDNA Aurum 24K, the PC actually retails for £7979 in the UK, and if you paid attention in school you’ll know that 79 is the atomic number for gold, while Aurum is Latin for gold. Chemistry and Latin facts aside, the PC sports an incredible specification that is likely to be blisteringly fast not just in games but at anything you can throw at it too.

Yoyotech has chosen Intel’s Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor, which it has tweaked to run faster than it does out of the box, boosting its frequency to 4.6GHz.

NVIDIA’s Titan graphics cards were the most drool-worthy of 2013, and Yoyotech has included not one but two of them. It also has a gargantuan 64GB of Corsair memory, a 512GB solid state disk and 2TB hard disk, all housed in a Corsair Obsidian 900D tower case, which has been modified to hide cables and give the inside a super-clean look. (Antony Leather)

Programming World Stunned By Bug

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By Allysa Faye Greganda

It’s time for tech companies to fund a team that constantly checks the strength of everything that is in the internet. These days, we depend on the Internet for half of our lives. Weenjoy its benefits, but surely no one wants to be victimized right within the tip of his own fingers.

Out of the 7 billion people alive as of this moment, 2 billion are actively using the internet. You are actually one of those 2 billion people who risk personal information, transaction records and confidential details with an average of 30,000 hacking attempts every day. The figures do speak of something. But the question is, how sure are you that you’re not a part of the 30,000 incidents per day?

We are not new to the tactics of hacking—the stealing of data that can be possibly used to access bank accounts and whatnot. There is a long history of serious hacking incidentsthat have caused companies to shut down and lose millions of consumers. Take Mt. Gox as the perfect example.This is the world’s largest bitcoin exchange company, and it has been hacked of $450 million some months ago.

To hack a website or a person’s account, it usually requires direct contact and the person unknowingly giving permission to inject a virus that will get through the encryptions. Just weeks ago, the internet community was stunned when three engineers discovered the Heartbleed bug that’s been in existence for two years already. No programmer has ever thought that a bug, a simple programming error, can be the biggest flaw in the history of the internet.

World Weak Web

Last April 3, 2014, engineers from Codenemicon and Google found out about this serious hole in the internet. For the non-techie’s information, the internet is a virtual world. There are a lot of places to visit there, and these are called websites. Each website has its TLS (transport layer security protocols) to filter information, and to keep and protect them. Using this method will keep our personal details from being stolen by hackers. But why is it vulnerable to be attacked if TLS is supposed to secure information?

The hole in the websites came from a software called OpenSSL. This software as well is an implementation of the TLS. In other words, OpenSSL is like an operating system used by website hosts. This software is created by a group of programmers and is offered online for free. This is the only available software for TLS. That is why 66% of websites according to Netcraft’s April 2014 Web Server Survey uses OpenSSL. And this 66% as well has been using the latest version of OpenSSL, which is recently discovered to contain a vulnerable code for a span of two years, since its release last 2011.

Because it is the only available software, even less-visited websites use this, including government websites in the Philippines. Yet, no oneknew if someone noticed the bug earlier. Someone could have, but the person never reported it because he might have taken advantage of the weakness. There are many rumors about the possible abuses made before the bug was discovered, yet those werenot proven.

Debugging The Problem

The good news is, 33% of websites in a span of two years were safe from the vulnerability especially the most-accessed social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, Yahoo and others . The other good thing is, Open SSL was able to release a solution, a patch file just a week after the report to cure the problem. It was announced that the internet community is safer, but not totally until everyone has updated their TLS. The least a normal user can do is to constantly change passwords as frequent as possible. Users should always countercheck if the websites they are trying to access are safe enough to engage with. We should also keep updated if any new mode of attack is spreading.

This incident should be taken up seriously. Hacking is illegal and is considered a serious crime. Weshould not be relaxed about it because a number of victims were caught unguarded. Hackers break into systems forpersonal, and often criminalreasons.Everyone should get involved. Google and Facebook are just fortunate enough to hire skilled programmers to defend its system from intruders. But how about the others?

How about the safety of the entire community? Since the internet is a virtual realm, then just like in the real world, there must be a team to ensure the security of the netizens. There is always a tendency to commit human error. However, two or more heads are better than one, as they say.

(The author is a graduating student of AB Communication in the University of Perpetual Help System Laguna. She is currently working as an intern for OpinYon.) 

Leading Smartphones In Today’s Market

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Carriers may claim to make it easier to upgrade the smartphones that they sell, most of us are going to use that gadget for at least two years. So the phone you buy needs to deliver the right mix of speed, features, ease of use and battery life. There is no such thing as a future-proof smartphone, but it is possible for the very best models to keep you very happy months and months down the road. To help you make an informed choice, wechose some of the leading smartphones in the market today.Whether you’re looking for a big-screen phone-tablet, the most advanced camera, or a compact powerhouse, there’s something to match your needs.

Best Overall Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy Note 3 is so powerful and long-lasting you may not need a tablet. This Android device packs a big and bright 5.7-inch display, and you can take notes with ease using the built-in S Pen. The Note 3 is also a multitasking maestro, thanks to its blazing Snapdragon 800 processor. With Samsung’s Multi Window feature, you can run two apps side by side and drag content between apps.

Best Android Phone: HTC One M8

The HTC One M8 is the sexiest Android phone ever, packing a 5-inch full HD display and a fast new Snapdragon 801 processor into a sleek metal body available in three colors. Photographers will have a blast with the dual-lens camera, which lets you focus on the foreground or background after you shoot.

Best Smartphone Features: Samsung Galaxy S5


Based on our hands-on time with the new Samsung Galaxy S5, shoppers have a lot to be excited about. In addition to a faster Snapdragon 801 processor, the new S5 sports a much faster 16-megapixel camera with real-time HDR capability. It has a built-in heart rate monitor will help you keep better tabs on your fitness. These features is wrapped up in a new water-resistant design.

Best Compact Smartphone: Apple iPhone 5s

Other than a new gold color option, the iPhone 5s doesn’t seem much different from its predecessor. However, the A7 chip inside this sleek beast blows the doors off of most Android phones, and there’s a growing number of games and apps that take advantage of its 64-bit architecture.

Best Value: Motorola Moto X

Say “OK, Google Now” to the Moto X, and you’ll unleash this smartphone’s greatest power. This device can answer all sorts of questions (“What’s the weather today?”) and execute commands (“Send text to John”) without you lifting a finger. The secret is the Moto X’s dedicated natural language processor. Although the camera could be better, the sub-$100 price of the Moto X makes it a fantastic value.

Best Advanced Camera: Nokia Lumia 1020

For photographers, the Nokia Lumia 1020 represents the pinnacle of smartphones. The 41-megapixel camera sensor not only takes breathtaking photos, but lets you zoom in after the shot to reframe your photo and still enjoy amazing detail. Shutterbugs will also appreciate the Lumia 1020’s sophisticated camera app, which lets you adjust white balance, shutter speed and focus on the fly. Plus, Windows Phone’s dynamic Live Tile interface really pops on this handset’s 4.5-inch AMOLED screen.

Best Off-Contract Phone: Google Nexus 5

It’s not just a device for Android purists. The Nexus 5 is simply one of the best smartphone values anywhere. For just $349 off-contract, you get cutting-edge specs such as a Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5-inch 1080p display. Android 4.4 KitKat brings some cool new features to the table, too, including the ability to perform searches, send text messages and more using just your voice from the home screen.

Best Innovative Phone Design: LG G Flex

The LG G Flex is the world’s first smartphone that’s not only curved but flexible. This makes the handset more comfortable when holding it up to your face to make calls, and you can literally apply up to 80 pounds of pressure to the back without worrying about breakage. The G Flex also has a self-healing chassis, so you can scratch the back with keys and the marks will start to disappear within minutes.