Sandbox – My New Playground

A few months ago, a group of bloggers (including myself) were involved in a closed beta project to test Sandbox. Media practitioners and some internet celebrities also joined in during this test phase.

Now, Sandbox is launching into open beta and I would like to invite you to check it out. Most of my blogger friends were in the closed beta with me so it was not difficult to start off as I already had a community of friends in it.

A few things about what Sandbox is:

1. Sandbox is an online platform that connects people together through microblog posts, photos and videos. More than just being a social networking site, Sandbox also has an online content store where you can purchase games and music. The developers precisely chose the word “sandbox” because it is meant to be the place where one can play around.

2. The user content is locally developed, meaning it is Filipino through and through. And because it is Pinoy, those of us in the Philippines have access to ongoing raffles, giveaways and chances to win prizes.

My friend Jayvee cites 5 good reasons to join Sandbox.

1. Your friends are most probably already there
When Sandbox launched in April it had a few hundred beta testers who were members of mainstream and online publications. Communities have been growing at a steady rate across all spectra — video gaming, anime, tech, love, blogging advice, photography, food and dining .. the list goes on. And, if you can’t find a group that fits you, why not create your own?

2. It is built as a one stop shop
There are two components to Sandbox – the user generated features that’s composed of the social network aspect, blogging platform, and photo / video uploads and an online content store where you can download games and music (P30.00 per song, cheaper than iTunes). Sandbox integrates what’s on your web browser with your mobile in your account creation page thus when you order items from your desktop or laptop, the information is pushed to your phone.

3. It has tangible benefits
Not that I have anything against other social networks, but this is the first locally developed one that actively gives out rewards and benefits to its members. So apart from the fulfillment you get with connecting with your friends, there are true offline benefits for participating in promotions and campaigns.

4. You can make money
Because Sandbox is locally developed, there are more interesting opportunities for you to make money through the system. Apart from an advertising platform within Sandbox that is currently being developed, there are going to be other engagements that will allow Sandbox netizens to build their online real estate such as the mobile site development. During the beta brief, Anton discussed the feasibility of growing your community. Just like with blogs, your real estate inside Sandbox values over time, especially when you grab potentially high ranking keywords.

5. It is continuously being improved
So really, the most exciting thing about Sandbox is that it is continuously being improved based on the feedback from the community. I’ll be the first to say that what you’re currently seeing is still the tip of the iceberg and the team led by Rezza Custodio has been actively looking into feedback. Of course, change doesn’t happen overnight but the plans for the future of Sandbox will take a stronger stance on Web 2.0. So yeah, tell your friends!

Personally though, I have been using Sandbox primarily for microblogging and the phone I am using specifically fits this purpose. Of course, this competes with the likes of Twitter, Plurk and Facebook where I am on so it behooves the developers to find features and niches which will appeal to the local folks.

Smart is at the helm of this project so I am sure that with the proper feedback during this open beta phase, they will be able to tweak it.

To start off, I have a few things lined up as feedback for the people behind Sandbox:

1. Improve internet connection uptime.

The trick to get people to mobile blog is excellent internet connection (meaning, no dropped connections) and easy access to the blog site itself. The thing going for Smart is that it is using a new technology called HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access). But I have had several experiences while traveling when the internet is interrupted (sometimes as it changes from HSPA to 3G mode or vice versa). I am just imagining that if people had to pay P10 every time they connect to the internet, unstable internet connection can be a deterrent.

2. Make mobile blogging easier.

Mobile blogging must be so easy that you need not to have to log in and out before you can do so. I have an ipod touch and I find mobile plurking quick on the fly. As soon as I activate the app in a wifi zone, I am ready to plurk because my username and password are saved on the device. Sandbox is currently easier to view on a computer rather on a mobile phone. I have tried navigating via my mobile phone and it gets frustrating because I need to scroll left/right, up/down constantly just to go through the content and find my way. While I have done some posts via mobile, I find it easier at the moment to do so via the web. A mobile Sandbox interface would be great.

3. Create easier access to historical blog posts and activities by my other friends.

Yes, the concept is microblogging and we were told that anything posted is just for that moment. But as we are normally not online via a mobile phone all the time, friends’ activities remain unknown to me. I cannot see beyond the most recent 5 Happenings. If friends created a group, posted a microblog post, added a video, added friends, etc. these would all be lost if I do not catch them within the top 5 Happenings.

4. Make photo/video uploads painless.

Blog posts look better with a photo or two. Mobile bloggers would also love to send videos on the fly as news/events occur. So why is it so difficult now? First you have to go through the entire log-in process. Then the photo/video has to be uploaded first into Sandbox before it can be used in a blog post. All these take up so much time to do and if the internet connection breaks down through all that process, one has to start all over again. Sandbox has to be able to allow uploads via MMS (because isn’t that what mobile phones are great for after all?).

Don’t get me wrong. Sandbox has a future as a mobile blogging platform.

This is actually an exciting venture because just about anyone with a mobile phone (and in the Philippines that is the great majority of the population) is a potential mobile blogger. It just has to be tweaked fairly fast by the developers so it becomes a truly handy medium to get the news out into the online world as things happen.

In order to help them out, why not join Sandbox’s open beta now and give them your share of feedback. After all, once this is up and running effectively and efficiently, we will be the ultimate beneficiaries in terms of blogging mobility! To register, go to the Sandbox registration page.

This is my Sandbox profile.

My Sandbox Profile

Hope to see you there. And do join the groups I created:

1. Anything Yoga

2. Pinoy Humor

3. Raising Teens and Tweens

Reunion with Raquel & Mommy Bloggers

I missed the mommy reunion at Burgoo’s last year when Raquel was in town from Germany with her family (though I did see her at Dine’s birthday dinner at The Old Spaghetti House Katipunan).

So when Raquel made the trip back to Manila again this year and called for another mommy reunion, I jumped at the chance for another meet-up at Burgoo’s Podium.

What do mommies do when they are put together like this? Talk, talk and talk. Haha. But seriously, it was a chance to catch up on each other’s lives, especially Raquel’s. I also got to meet Aileen for the first time and found out that her uncle was  someone I knew from my past job at an accounting firm. Of course, being mommy bloggers there were a lot of photo ops too. Good thing, Burgoo’s staff were very accommodating and were patient enough to take our pictures with over half a dozen cameras each time.

Here are some pictures from that super fun afternoon. 

 

Couldn't resist a photo op while waiting for the other mommies

Couldn't resist a photo op while waiting for the other mommies

 

Raq with one of her girls (extreme left) and a relative

Raq with one of her girls (extreme left) and a relative

 

All mommies represent!

All mommies represent!

 (Back, L-R: Salen, Rach, Wenchie, Chats, moi, Dine, Myrna, Julie. Front, L-R: Noemi, Aileen, Raquel)

Playing with Rach's 5-year old son, Yohan. I miss this kind of playfulness...

 

Clowning around & wishing we were as slim as this mirror post makes us look.

Clowning around & wishing we were as slim as this mirror post makes us look.

Beauty Time with Clinique’s 3-Step Skin Care

Clinique's 3-step Solution

My history with Clinique goes waaaayyy back to the years when I was in the States taking my masters degree. Being one with sensitive skin, I always relied on Clinique products which are all allergy-tested and 100% fragrance free. Clinique is not known for being cheap; I had to scrimp and save in order to buy the products I wanted to use. So whenever my late sister-in-law, who lived in Canada then the US,  visited us she regularly gifted me with Clinique products.

Out of the blue, my friend Noemi invites me to a Clinique skin-typing. YEY! We went to Rustan’s Makati and had ourselves “typed” by Clinique. With us also were Noemi’s daughter Lauren and her friend Nikki.

Clinique’s 3-Step Skin Care System is Cleanse-Exfoliate-Moisturize. Cleansing removes dirt and oil (if you use makeup/foundation, you need a facial cleanser prior to the 3-Step Care. Exfoliating removes dead skin from the surface that make our skin look rough, dull, and flaky and helps skin renew faster. Moisturizing brings back the moisture into the already clean skin to keep it soft and hydrated.

My beauty consultant for the day was Malou Gagarin.

The first step was to analyze my skin type. Clinique categorizes skin types into 4:

The 4 skin types

More

iBlog5 Coming Up in May

IBLOG5

Just a quick heads-up for bloggers in the Philippines.

The 5th blogging summit will be on May 9, 2009 (9AM-5PM) at Malcolm Theater, UP College of Law, UP Diliman campus.

If you still have not joined any of the past 4 blogging summits, this is your chance. This will be my 3rd summit and I have to say that my experience has been totally positive. Not only did I learn a lot about blogging from the topics but this is THE chance to meet up with veteran as well as newbie bloggers and exchange business cards and knowledge.

Registration is FREE but will be limited. As of this posting, there are already over 170 registrants so hurry and sign up.

Here are a few links:

iBlog5 Homepage

iBlog5 Registration Form

Hope to see you there!

Ipanema Walks a Green Mile for Haribon

Last March 21, the boys and I headed out to the Fort Strip to join hundreds of people, young and old, to support Ipanema’s Walk a Green Mile for the benefit of Haribon Foundation.

Walk a Green Mile banner Haribon Foundation tent

Ever since the Ipanema launch of its GB Seeds Collection, I had made up my mind to join the walkathon. The cause was impetus enough. The exercise I would get out of it as well as the bonding with bloggers were the icing on the cake.

The boys at registration table

The boys at registration table

M1 & I with Patxi Elizalde of ELRO Corp. (Ipanema distributor)

M1 & I with Patxi Elizalde of ELRO Corp. (Ipanema distributor)

The walk started at a little past 5PM. The Uganda Band began playing Brazilian and African beats. At the starting line, confetti rained upon the participants and we all started the 1-mile hike around the Fort, basically walking to Boni High Street, going all around it, and making our way back to the starting point.

That entire walk took about 40 minutes and everyone made it back happy to have contributed to a worthy cause.

Several blogger friends were spotted and of course, we had the usual blogger photo ops. Click, click, click….

with Melyn & Jon Limjap

with Melyn & Jon Limjap

Met up with Liezl (right) & her friends

Met up with Liezl (right) & her friends

The camwhoring bloggers

The camwhoring bloggers

Karla & Sha

Karla & Sha

A pair of GB sandals personally signed by Gisele Bundchen was raffled off and no other than Melyn Limjap, a blogger, came away with the prize.

The lucky blogger!

The lucky blogger!

Celebrities were around too to grace the occasion. Here are some snaps of them:

All in all, it was an event we enjoyed a lot because I had time to bond with my boys who were attending a semi-blogger event for the first time. The instant dinner we had after the walkathon allowed them to meet some of my blogger friends.

Playboy Philippines Hosts Bloggers’ Night Out

So what is Playboy doing in my wholesome blog? Good question…

When I first read the invite of Azrael to a bloggers’ night out hosted by Playboy Philippines, I thought several times before signing up. My blog is for people of all ages and I wanted to keep to things I would not hesitate to show my family. But when Az assured me that this was simply a party for bloggers and that it would be wholesome enough for me to bring my 2 girls, I figured WHY NOT? It was another chance to bond with bloggers as well as to check out the new image of the Playboy magazine which attempts to move away from the usual men’s magazine into a classier, more sophisticated lifestyle magazine for men.

The place was Source Bar in Ortigas Home Depot last March 20, 2009. When I got there, the place was already teeming with bloggers. There was a table with familiar bloggers — Manuel, Jonel and Dante. Others sighted that evening: Jay, Jane, Carl, Arvin, Kel, Mica, and Mike Abundo. I got to meet new online friends who I communicated with online but was meeting for the first time in person – Jennie & Jeff, Nicely, Sarah, digiscrapmom, Ryan and Edelweiza.

Playboy Philippines provided free drinks and finger food for everyone while a DJ provided the music ambience for the evening. I got to meet the Playboy Philippines team as well as some of the bunnies around. The April 2009 anniversary issue was shown to the bloggers during the party (too bad I was no longer around then). I still have to see how the magazine evolves into its new desired image. From the back issues I saw being handed out, the content was tamer than the US versions but still — definitely for mature male audiences.

I didn’t stay long. Hubby is still abroad and the two girls who were supposed to be with me that evening could not make it for different reasons. So being the single parent that I was that night, I had to head home and be an early Cinderella. Still, it was fun hanging out with the young blogger set again. Thanks, Az and Playboy Philippines!

Here are some shots of the evening:

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