BSP and MWSS Websites Got Hacked in Protest of the Cybercrime Prevention Act

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) websites just got hacked on the evening of September 26, 2012 in protest of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.   The group who called themselves as Anonymous Philippines is particularly concerned about the online or cyber libel stating the following: 

"The Philippine Government has just passed a bill that effectively ends the Freedom of Expression in the Philippines.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines,
and the language of the bill is cunningly designed to make you think it only applies to individuals who are deep in
cyber-technology and doesn't apply to everyone, but some part of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who
commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other
comment-spaces of other social media in the Internet.
New technologies give us new opportunities to connect with a lot of people not only in this country but all over the world.
They can also provide us with a medium through which our political, public and even private views can have an immediate and
direct impact on individuals, communities and even countries. It is just so disappointing that our government, in adopting
our 80-year-old antiquated libel laws to the Cybercrime Law, again seems to have retarded our march with the rest of the world
with respect to giving full force to the people's freedom of expression.
We ask for a revision of the said bill for the betterment of the Filipino denizens.
Protect our Right to Freedom of Expression!"
Related Post:
Cybercrime Prevention Law in the Philippines



Cybercrime Prevention Law in the Philippines

It has been fourteen (14) days since the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed by President Aquino On September 12, 2012.  It was said that this law will take affect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of a general circulation.  

I wonder how this law is going to change the internet use in the Philippines especially with the insertion of online libel.  Will I still read blogs where people rant about a poor service of a particular company or people criticizing a celebrity or a politician?  I even stumbled upon a gaming forum where gamers are asking each other if cheating in games will be punishable as well hehehe.  Maybe not, although (1) Illegal Access and (4) System Interference may be used against those who would mess up a system of some gaming companies.

Anyhow, here is the list of Cybercrime Offenses that we all should be wary of since the penalties depending on the offense are no joke.  

Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems
1. Illegal Access
2. Illegal Interception
3. Data Interference
4. System Interference
5. Misuse of Device
6. Cyber-squatting

Computer-related Offenses
7. Computer-related Forgery
8. Computer-related Fraud
9. Computer-related Identity Theft

Content-related Offenses
10. Cybersex
11. Child Pornography
12. Unsolicited Commercial Communications
13. Libel

Other Offenses
14. Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime
15. Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime
16. All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.

That’s quite a handful!  Please check the Republic Act No. 10175 in the Official Gazette for the complete information.

Related Post:
BSP and MWSS Websites Got Hacked in Protest of the Cybercrime Prevention Act



PayPal's Merchant Referral Bonus Program Has Now Ended

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
For quite a while now, I've been looking here and there for answers on how I can get my PayPal referral link again.  I had it but I lost it.  I deleted it by mistake and when I went back to my PayPal account and looked for the tab where I used to get my link, it wasn't there anymore.  I tried to look for blogposts from other people who could be experiencing the same and maybe find the answer.  I was hopeful PayPal just changed something and there’s another way of getting my referral link.  But I didn't find any.

Tonight, I’m desperate again to get my PayPal referral link because I will be assisting a client in signing up for a PayPal account so I tried to search the net again on how I can get my link.  And I got the answer, finally!  But the title of the blogpost saddened me.  It says something about PayPal putting an end to its referral bonus program.

So I checked my own email for my PayPal account to see if I get the same notification and it’s confirmed.  Here is the message I received from PayPal:

Thank you for your participation in PayPal’s Merchant Referral Bonus Program. The program will be discontinued on August 15, 2012.

Effective on August 15, 2012:

• New referrals will no longer be tracked
• Bonus accrual payments will be stopped

Your PayPal account will not in any way be impacted by the discontinuation of this program.

Any final accrued bonus balance from your referrals through August 15, 2012 will be paid to your PayPal account in accordance with the standard 30 day payout cycle.

All links you have created will still work and will redirect to a PayPal sign up page. However, referrals will not be tracked or accumulate toward this bonus program. 

For further assistance, please go to our
 website and click the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of any PayPal page.

It was indeed sad news.  It may not be that much, but still, it’s a passive income.  But I’m grateful I had the chance to use it.  Thank you, PayPal!

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Coworking Spaces or Coffee Shops

I've been working online in all four corners of my room since 2008 and for the past weeks, I’ve been having this weird feeling of wanting to break free.  I couldn’t stand staying long in front of my CRT monitor (as a matter of fact, I’m now writing this article on my notebook in another room without a computer) and find myself wishing I had a laptop so I could move around the house and bring my work with me.  Could it be that isolation is becoming an issue to me?  Lately, I’ve been imagining myself working in a coffee shop.  So I decided I need to have a laptop and go out.  I feel I will be more productive if I follow my heart’s desire.

I’m planning to have a laptop soon so I’m researching on where to go and do my work.  I have two options: a coffee shop or a coworking space.

Coffee Shops with wifi:

1.       The coffee will keep you awake and active.
2.       Your tendency to focus on work and finish quickly because you know your time at the coffee shop is limited.  You still have to go home.  (if you work at home, you have the tendency to dilly-dally)
3.       Though meeting people is not your main purpose, the chance of meeting new acquaintances increases.  This solves the isolation issue.

1.       Just like when you were still an office employee, you’ll need to spend time on travel and money on transportation/food.
2.       The stability of wifi connection is not assured.
3.       There is no assurance that you’ll always get your favorite spot at the shop or worse, there is no assurance that there’ll be a vacant table when you arrive.

Coworking Spaces:

1.       A space is reserved for you.
2.       There will be facilities available to you.
3.       You can build your network:
a.       You get to meet fellow solo professionals and maybe get referrals or collaborate on projects
b.      You get to meet prospective clients.  Coworking spaces are also used by start-up business owners and they are more likely to need freelancers like you to work for them.
c.       Meet new friends.

1.       Just like when you were working in an office set-up, you need to spend time on travel, money on food and transportation PLUS you need to pay a fee which you can pay on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Both coworking spaces and coffee shops have their own advantages and disadvantages but their common denominator is spending time and money.  You spend much more money on coworking spaces though.

Over all, the biggest advantage on both options is personality development.  People get to see you so you tend to fix yourself before going out.  I must admit that I often forget to do that when working at home since nobody sees me.  At first, I take pride in being able to work in my pajamas.  Working in pajamas is not bad; I guess I just need variety.  I will probably go back to working at home after experiencing working at coffee shops and coworking spaces.

It all boils down to one thing; the best thing about working online is you have your options.  You get to choose what suits you best.  When you hear the term “work-at-home”, it does not necessarily mean you have to confine yourself inside your home and work.  Because if it does, then there’s no freedom; which work-at-home people take pride of.  You can choose your workplace, you can choose which client to work with, you can choose which project to accept, and you can choose what time to do your work as long as you reach the deadline.  Though along with this freedom come discipline and responsibility.  Otherwise, you might not be able to finish a task.


Run a Facebook Promotion/Contest the Legal Way

As the forerunner in the Social Media Marketing, Facebook has become a popular medium for companies/organizations/personalities to get in touch with the masses or their target market.  But creating a page is not enough if it has few followers.  One way of making a buzz and gain more followers is running a contest on your Facebook page.  This is why you see a lot of contests left and right showing up in your newsfeeds.  But are these contests done in a legal way?  Click this link to check out Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines.
Here is a list of the most common violations:
1.      Not using a third-party application
It is clearly stated in FB’s guideline that “promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.”  A third-party app must be used to run or host a contest.  Such app must be used on a separate canvas page or a tab on Facebook.  Wildfireand and Offerpop are two of the apps you may use.
 2.      No clear statement that Facebook has NO involvement at all with the promotion
Facebook doesn’t want to have anything to do with your promotions and contest so make an appropriate disclosure that facebook is in no way involved with the contest that you host.
3.      Using Facebook’s features or functionalities in conducting your promotion
This violation is rampant.  A lot of pages would use the Like and Tag functions in determining the contest winners.  Facebook doesn’t like this that’s why you must go through a third-party app.
4.      Notifying winners through Facebook
Trivial as it may seem but notifying winners through Facebook wall, private messages or chat is also not allowed.  Again, you need to use a third-party app to be able to do this task.
Once caught, Facebook reserves the right to reject or remove your Page.  The terms are also subject to change at anytime, so make sure you refer to their guidelines before creating activities in your Page.  You don’t want to lose your fan base and that Page you’ve worked on, yes? Yes.


Online Forums as a Social Media Platform

I’m currently setting up a forum for a client’s website and a thought came to mind so I decided to take a break and write this peace.
Notice how the good ol’ forums have taken the backseat as new media platforms emerge one after the other.  Apart from doing the link building task where people do forum commenting to get back links, I rarely see setting up forums as a part of the social media strategies.
on forums
Blogs and micro-blogging sites such as Facebook and Twitter play a big role as to why forum posting is on a decline, if not dying.  Though these platforms are more popular these days than forums, we can’t deny the fact forums still have features that are uniquely its own.
Things you’ll appreciate in forums
1.  Forums are client-driven
While blogs and other micro blogging platforms are great ways to interact with your clients and customers, these platforms still require that conversations be initiated by the owner.  Forums, with proper moderation, have a more hands-off approach and can let the users mingle with one another.
2.  Categories and topics are neatly organized 
In forums, there is no sweat in trying to find a specific topic.  Though there is a search box on Facebook pages and groups, I still find myself struggling in finding a specific topic that has been buried over time in the page or group’s timeline.  Same goes with other social sites.
3.  Users can start their own topic or threadforum photo
Starting a topic or thread is one of the main features of a forum.  Though depending on the user’s access level, a posted message might need an approval from a forum moderator before it becomes visible.  This kind of moderation is very rarely used though.  Most forums publish the post as soon as the user hits ‘send’.  This promotes spontaneity in the discussion which is very good.  Some posts get deleted if proved to be inappropriate by a moderator.
4.  Users and contributors get the feeling of belongingness
As a virtual community, forums give the users and contributors the feeling of belongingness and that they are a big part of the community.  This is manifested in numbers 1 and 3.  Forum members are more engaged when they participate in the online discussion.
5.  Owners can use the forum to get into their customers’ mind  
Bright ideas usually pop up during spontaneous conversations.  It’s when the users and contributors of your forums speak their mind that you get to know what they honestly think and feel about your products and services.  Their opinions, suggestions, criticisms, concerns and complains play a big role in improving your products and services.  You can get ideas and insights even when they are just having a free-flowing spontaneous chitchat with their fellow forum members.  Companies have no need to spend that much on market research if only they’d take time to see what their consumers are talking about in their forum.
Through the sharing features of blogs and other social sites, they are able to reach more people.  I’m glad forum posts can be shared now, too.  Forums are catching up after all.
All social media platforms have their own unique features to offer.  In the end, the internet marketer has to study and determine which platforms suit his business best and not just jump into the social media bandwagon.
Forums may be left behind by the social media forerunners but I believe it’s going to re-emerge as one of the powerful tools in social media marketing.
As for me, joining forums is fun and helpful as well.  It is usually in forums where I get to find the answers when I search for some information about a particular topic.  How about you?  Do you join forums?  Tell us about your experiences in joining forums.


Pin A Quote is Now Called Share As Image

This was what I saw when I checked the website earlier.  Pin A Quote is now called Share as Image.

I guess they have changed their name to be able to serve other platforms, have their own identity and not be just associated with Pinterest.  I say it’s a good move.  So now you can share your text turned into images to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.  Another thing that has changed is the price.  Share As Image PRO version now costs $2.99 – still affordable!  And those of you who have purchased Pin A Quote PRO for $1.99 can have the upgrade for free; so no worries.   

Share As Image still come in Free version.  Let’s see the difference between the Free version and the PRO version.

Free version

PRO version

With the Free version, you cannot do anything but to pin it as is - you can't edit at all and it only comes in grey.  With the PRO version, you can edit the font, the font size, the text color and the background color according to your preference.  Seeing the big difference between the two, I say the PRO version is worth the $2.99!



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