Friday, February 8


So, Apple has gone and announced hardware upgrades for their most popular gadgets- mostly involving memory. The iPhone will soon be sporting a 16 GB variant, while the iPod Touch will be getting a 32 GB edition.

Which gets me thinking... WHY NOT A 32 GB iPhone right off the bat?

Once again, more of Apple doling out little updates, teasing, manipulating and prodding the masses. Even now, forums and blogs are already filled with gripes aplenty, with iPhone owners angry at Apple for 'planned obsolescence' of their tech toys and other crap. In a way, it's valid, but in any case- come on. That iPhone in your hand is still the amazing, gorgeous device that you fell in love with months ago. An upgrade of double the memory is hardly earth-shattering.

Am I interested? More memory is always great, but I won't even consider upgrading unless the new 16 GB iphone has been jailbroken wide open for apps, custom wallpapers and other goodies that I am enjoying right now. But really, I probably won't upgrade- not unless something bad happens to my phone like it getting (knock on wood) stolen or destroyed or whatever. No sale, Steve Jobs. At least, not now. Or anytime soon.

This past week has been grueling as only a Pitch Week can be. With considerable stakes being placed whenever agencies go to war like this, everyone is expected to lay in the hours, burn the brain cells and do the time. It's been a loooong several weeks, and it's come down to this. These last couple of days has seen me more at The Salt Mines than at home, but the stuff we've come up with looks great. Hopefully this will all pay off.

Only a few more hours, and this should be over. The weekend hopefully begins a little earlier. I freakin' need it.

Tuesday, February 5

Anti-Terrorist Hero

Barbangsa: Fighting against terrorism one issue at a time.

This bit of news was posted recently by Azrael and at Newsrama. It's all about Barbangsa: Blood of the Honorable, a locally-produced series of comics/graphic novels funded by US Special Operations Forces (what, do you think the local AFP has the funds for this?). Here's a report on the comic:

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — One of the unique products used in psychological operations in the southern Philippines is the comic book “Barbargsa — Blood of the Honorable.”

About 600,000 copies of the 10-part series have been distributed on the Sulu islands, a chain that was once a terrorist safe haven, and still suffers from skirmishes.

U.S. special operations forces have used comic books in information campaigns. But the characters were based on well-known American superheroes. Two years ago, two Army officers decided to create one from scratch to tell the children of the Sulu islands the story of what was happening in their homeland.

The project was the brainchild of Maj. Edward Lopacienski, military information support team commander for the joint special operations task force Philippines mission, and the non-commissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt. Russell Snyder.

The pair sat down in January 2006 and outlined the basic idea.

The plot follows several basic comic book storyline conventions — most notably the battle between good and evil.

The comic book focuses on Ameer, who left his home island to work overseas, but returns to find it racked with violence. Ameer is a practitioner of kuntao, which is a local form of martial arts. Like Zorro or Batman, he dons a mask and vows to protect the downtrodden and innocent victims of terrorists.

The Philippines military are also portrayed in a positive and heroic light while the villains are the terrorists or “bandits.” The creators were careful to accurately illustrate the Sulu region, and use character names, clothing and mannerisms that reflect the culture of the Tausug ethnic group. There are versions in English and in the local dialect.

It depicts real events that took place on the islands and at neighboring Basilan — specifically the Sulu Co-Op bombing in March 2006, which killed five and injured 40 and the Basilan hostage crisis when members of the Abu Sayyaf Group took school children and used them as human shields against Filipino troops.

“Essentially what we’re doing is showing all the atrocities that the Abu Sayyaf Group has done,” Lopacienski said.

One subplot shows how terrorists manipulate a boy into becoming a bomber.

The production of the comic book was farmed out to a Manila-based marketing firm. Two experts on Tausug culture were brought in as consultants to make sure nothing offensive was put in, and that everything was culturally accurate. It took about 2,000 hours to create the 10 comic books.

“In the end you see the hero and the community rising up to turn over the terrorists,” Lopacienski said.
It was important that the series be reproduced on high-quality paper as slick as any graphic novel found in U.S. bookshelves, he said, because that shows respect to the culture.

Lopacienski said there is anecdotal evidence of the comic book’s popularity. When some areas missed delivery due to security concerns, children “were ripping out the pages and trading them like baseball cards,” he said.

Local stores have printed unauthorized T-shirts portraying the hero Ameer.

Man. That's so cool. Heheh.