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Ten Cool Things Filipinos Do On The Internet

(2nd Edition, February 1999)

by Rey Carolino

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  1. Chat online with other Pinoys

    In my December, 1996 column I wrote a brief article about CHATing and TALKing on the Net where I discussed how you can conduct a group discussion with other people on the Net using IRC (Internet Relay Chat) using your keyboard. If you have not used IRC before, you may wish to read that article which is available online at http://www.interlog.com/~leeq/chat.htm .  

    Once you have IRC access, you can join various channels populated by Filipinos around the world such as: #manila , #filipino, #kaibigan, #kabayan , etc. These channels Hey, let us chat! are available in the three major IRC networks (EFNet, Undernet and DALnet).   Using your keyboard, you can chat with these people in real-time and if you have the right software and hardware, you can even conduct a voice chat (or even video conferencing) with people equipped with the same gadgets. You might find someone from the Philippines who has two phone lines and if you ask the right question, you may be able to get him or her to call your friend in Manila on the other line and talk to your friend through that person.

    The problem with using IRC is that you need to install a special software (such as mIRC, Pirch, Globalchat, iRCLE, etc.) in your computer before you can enter the chat room. Until several years ago, you had no choice- that was the only way to conduct an online chat. This was a major deterrent to a lot of people because they do not know where to find these software or they don't have the courage to install another piece of software in their PC. Thus when web-based chatting became available, it was an instant hit to most newcomers to the Net. You can now conduct an online chat simply through the use of a JAVA-capable browser such as Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher versions and a lot of homepage on the Net now has a chat room that you can use. Try the following:

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  3. Subscribe to Filipino oriented newsgroups.

    Newsgroups (in which the techies referred to as USENET) are public forums where people exchange messages (called articles) that can be read by anybody who cares to subscribe to that newsgroup. You need a newsreader software to be able to subscribe (by the way, subscription is free). The latest versions of  Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer now comes with their built-in newsreader but I prefer to read my newsgroups using a software by Forte called FREE AGENT (yes, it is a free software). There are thousands of  newsgroups on the Internet that you can join and participate. Think of a topic that interests you (say cooking or playing mahjong) and chances are there is a newsgroup that was created to discuss that particular topic. My wife was installing a curtain one time and she had a problem trying to figure out the best place to hang it from.  She posted her question in the " alt.architecture.int-design " newsgroup and within a day, she got several e-mails that answered her question.

    The most popular Filipino newsgroup is the soc.culture.filipino (SCF).  Filipinos around the world discuss variety of things in this newsgroup. When the Singaporean government hanged Flor Contemplacion, a word war erupted between some Filipinos and Singaporeans on the Internet and they used the SCF (as well as the soc.culture.singapore) as their battleground. Other Filipino newsgroups on the net are the rec.music.filipino and the alt.psst.hoy.

    In the past, getting to the newsgroup is not an easy task. You must tell your newsreader or your browser which news server to use (usually the news server of your Internet Service Provider). This can be a confusing or an intimidating process to a newcomer to the Net. DEJA NEWS made it easy for people to participate in the newsgroup by making the most popular newsgroups available to anybody simply by using your browser without the need for configuring a news server.

    Web-based newsgroups (referred to by some as bulletin boards or forums) are now widely available. They are easy to use but you have to read and post your messages online.  The Net old-timers still prefer the read the newsgroups via a newsreader like FreeAgent because it allows them to conduct their activities offline and thus save on their online charges. An example of a web-based newsgroup is the PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE'S CyberForum which is accessible at: http://www.newsflash.org/cyberforum.htm.

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  5. Send and receive computer files.

    A computer virus once attacked my brother's computer in Manila and he had to reformat his hard disk to clear any trace of the virus.  That meant he needed to reinstall all his software. While in the process of reinstalling one of his program, disk number 3 of the installation diskette was found to be defective. He sent me an e-mail advising me of his problem.  Luckily, I have a copy of that disk here in Toronto.  Using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program called WS_FTP, I transferred the content of my disk number 3 to his Internet account in Manila. Using his own FTP program, my brother then retrieved those files from his Internet account into a floppy diskette and was able to successfully complete his installation. Time it took for the whole file transfer process: 30 minutes. Cost: zero. If my brother had requested for the replacement diskette from the program's manufacturer, he would probably had to pay for the courier cost of the diskette and waited for several days (maybe weeks? months?) before he can get the replacement disk.

    While it is possible to transfer files via e-mail (as an e-mail attachment), an FTP file transfer is more reliable and faster since it does not pass through several mail servers on the Internet- some mail servers will reject huge file attachments. It is also possible to transfer files using the IRC software (such as mIRC) discussed in item 4.

    To download a copy of WS_FTP or other FTP programs, click here.

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  7. Do your own Home Page

    Do your own Home Page We used to send pictures of our children to our relatives in the Philippines so that their cousins can keep tab of their progress as they grow up. Now we figured a better way of doing it. Instead of sending them the pictures, we have those pictures scanned into computer graphics files which we then post in our children's homepage on the Net. When our children learn a new song in school, we record the song in our computer and make them available in the homepage. Our relatives in the Philippines can then use their web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer) to view the pictures and listen to their songs over the Net.

    Your subscription to your Internet account usually entitles you to a homepage slot from your service provider. However, if they don't give you that privilege, you can still publish your homepage elsewhere for free. Try the following sites:

    For more information about building your homepage, check out my article, " Publishing your Home Page".

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Articles in WIRED! Philippines are copyrighted by the authors. Copyright © 1999 Rey Carolino

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