Braven BRV-1: A Wireless Speaker for the Klutzy

Just this morning, I dropped my new BlackBerry Z10 in a parking lot. On the hard, rough cement. It’s a little the worse for wear. Anyway, that story has almost nothing to do with the Braven BRV-1 I’m about to review — except to show you how clumsy I am, which is a bad thing when you’re as mobile and traveling around all the time like I am. Inevitably, you’ll drop something you shouldn’t. It’s why I’ve always bought protective cases and shockproof, waterproof stuff.

Well, the Braven BRV-1 wireless speaker is touted as a hardy little companion designed to play your music wherever you are.Β I have to tell you, getting this in the mail for review made me want to book a trip to the beach the very next day! It’s lightweight enough not to be a burden inside a backpack, and it looks so much like a pair of high-tech binoculars so it won’t stick out like a sore thumb among other travel essentials.

Braven Wireless HD Speaker

Braven BRV-01 Wireless HD Speaker

Braven Wireless HD Speaker

Slick packaging for this tough-as-mud piece of equipment.

The BRV-1 was a breeze to pair with my iPod Touch. All I needed to do was turn the unit on by a long press on the Power button, then a long press on the Play button so it could start searching for Bluetooth devices. Approve the connection on your music device, and it’s ready to go.

Braven Wireless HD Speaker

Power and Play buttons

Braven Wireless HD Speaker

volume control

There are also volume buttons on the side so you can turn it up or down without having to fiddle with your iPod. You can also pair the BRV-1 with a Bluetooth-enabled phone and use it as a speakerphone to answer calls.

It’s also not just a Bluetooth speaker. The rear compartment contains an audio-in jack for devices that don’t have Bluetooth capabilities,Β like the iPod Classic . There’s also a USB port which enables you to charge other devices from the BRV-1’s battery. Unfortunately it only has about 1400 mAh, which might be enough to give you a full charge on a BlackBerry 9360, but not on phones with higher-capacity batteries. Still, it could come in pretty useful in a wilderness survival situation, like running out of phone juice while camping.

Braven Wireless HD Speaker

rear compartment

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Uniqlo U-Shop, U-Win

Last Friday, I was given the opportunity to attend the launch of Uniqlo’s new game app called U-Shop, U-Win.

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

(The launch was held at Fully Booked in BGC as a nod to the opening of Uniqlo’s third store in the country at SM Aura Premium on May 17, 2013.)

Uniqlo U-Shop U-Win

the U-Shop U-Win virtual store game

The U-Shop, U-Win game app on the Uniqlo Philippines Facebook page allows participants to “shop” at a virtual Uniqlo store. Read more

Why I No Longer Use Creative Commons on My Blog

Recently, I’ve started to question the wisdom of offering my written works under Creative Commons. A long time ago I started using Creative Commons licenses for my blogs. I was inspired by my editing on Wikipedia (which asks you to license with Creative Commons everything you create on that website) and thought it was a great way to allow people to quote freely from my blog. “Hey, this will get the word out about my blog!” were my thoughts.

When I began optimizing my other blog Kikay Runner for better placement in search engine results, I also checked on the RSS feed I provide via FeedBurner and noticed that a website was listed under “Uncommon Uses”. RSS feeds are commonly used to bring your blog posts directly into email clients, web-based feed aggregators, news filters, and more. An Uncommon Use could be “a neat little news filter somebody wrote, a blog somebody assembled from feeds, or even blog spam.”

So I went and checked it out and found dozens of my posts from the RSS feed auto-reposted on another blog (what is called a “scraper site“). Worse, there were no links back to my blog and aside from the short footer appended by Feedburner to each post on the RSS feed, there was no attribution.

If there’s anything I could be thankful for, it’s that I had the foresight to offer only a summarized feed. Google penalizes websites with duplicate content, but sometimes it can’t distinguish between the original source and the copy (so both source and copy are punished by lower ranking in search results). Because I’d only put a portion of each blog post in the RSS feed, a large amount of my blog’s content remained unique. This means if people search on Google for a topic I’ve written about with my own spin, they’re still more likely to find my blog instead of the scraper site.

Aside from reporting the copyright infringement to Google so that the scraper site would not appear in search results, I also changed my RSS feed settings to be even more stringent. Instead of 400 characters in the summary I limited it to 200 characters, and worded the post footer more strongly by saying “If you see this on a website that is not KikayRunner.com, it may have been used without permission.”

Scraper sites have justified their actions in the past because of a notion that RSS feeds are free for syndication anywhere. The Creative Commons license also allows for copying with attribution (even without permission).

My words are precious to me; they’re an extension of how I express myself, so they’re an extension of me. So when another site reposts my blog posts without attribution, without my knowledge, without my permission, I feel violated.

I realized that I needed to retain more control of how my work is used online. People still have fair use rights when they want to quote me, but if they want to use my words for anything else (like creating an entirely new website!) they will need to get in touch with me.

Kuala Lumpur By My Lonesome

Chalk it up to a sheltered upbringing, but I’ve always traveled with companions when going outside the country. Last year’s Singapore trip was the closest I’d ever gotten to traveling alone, and that was because I needed to fly back to the Philippines earlier than my travel buddy Julia.

Last February 14-18 I went to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Les Mills Ultimate Super Workshop at Sunway Resort Hotel. Anyone familiar with Kuala Lumpur knows that Sunway isn’t inside the city itself, so I booked a room at Sun Inns Hotel Lagoon for about P1,000/night. The Agoda.com listing said it was a 10-minute walk to Sunway Resort from there, so I figured it was convenient enough.

Using Google Maps

Using Google Maps

I would just commute into the city if I wanted to see the Petronas Towers or go shopping at the major malls there. I downloaded some apps to help me get around, like CityMaps2Go, TripAdvisor City Guides, the KL Trains app, and of course, Google Maps. These apps helped me get a general sense of where everything would be in relation to each other, but I knew things would be different once I was actually there. Read more

Les Mills Ultimate Super Workshop Kuala Lumpur

In the grand scheme of things Les Mills, the Philippines hasn’t been a major player. I’ve been instructing for about six years now; up until recently only one gym chain had acquired the license to use Les Mills group exercise programs in their clubs. We were blessed that we had Arnold Warren, a program coach for BODYJAM in Southeast Asia, residing in the Philippines, and twice a year we’d hold our own workshops and invited trainers from the region. At least we didn’t stagnate, but not much was happening with us beyond purchasing the new releases with new choreography and music on DVD every quarter.

Then the advanced instructor modules were introduced, and for long-time instructors like myself it brought us back to why we had started teaching in the first place: because of our passion for these programs that had brought about so much change for the better in our own lives.

We had our first official Les Mills metro workshop in the last quarter of 2012, which made us feel more connected to the whole network of Les Mills events in the region. So a large number of us decided to make the trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Ultimate Super Workshop happening on February 16-17, 2013. It would be the only official workshop held for the first quarter of the year (we have workshops quarterly) and it was an opportunity to represent the Philippines among the other Southeast Asian nations. Read more