POSTSCRIPT / October 12, 1999 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Quake-proofing of MRT, overpasses, bridges solid?

PUBLIC Works Secretary Gregorio Vigilar has officially declared that all overpasses and bridges in Metro Manila are earthquake-resistant, meaning that they can withstand tremors of Intensity 7 or higher.

The secretary explained that these structures had been designed and built according to strict standards and that they had been upgraded. In short, the Secretary assures the public that those structures can withstand killer quakes.

With that official guarantee on record, if any of these structures collapses or is damaged in a major earthquake, victims can sue. After giving guarantee, Vigilar cannot hide behind a defense of force majeure.

Meantime, we’ve seen a telltale crack running under the flyover arching up from northbound EDSA and turning left westward to Ortigas Ave. in Mandaluyong. We have also noticed the unusual dips on the overpasses on Roxas Blvd. indicating that the beams supporting the road may have sagged with time.

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THE earthquake risk analysis focusing on foundation engineering featured yesterday on the STAR’s front page confirms our earlier warning that it is not enough that buildings are by themselves structurally sound. They must also be standing on a stable foundation.

The earthquake risk map produced by engineer Arthur Saldivar-Sali after painstaking research and collection of data provides an easy reference for choosing sites that are relatively safe from damaging earth movements.

The general rule to remember, if one does not have that map, is that areas covered or filled with alluvial soil or landfill that had merely been deposited by nature or by humans (by reclamation, for instance) are less stable than those on bedrock.

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THIS is the reason why our Port Area, dried up river deltas and other coastal sections that used to be part of the sea are less safe. In fact, they are also susceptible to liquefaction, which is characterized by the sinking of the water-logged soil during earthquakes.

This is also the reason why earthquakes in Manila’s coastal (and port) area register an intensity that is one level higher than, say, in nearby Makati where vast areas have more rigid bases made mostly of adobe. This solid rock base may explain why structures in Makati can be built higher than in, say, Ermita, Malate, Port Area and Roxas Blvd. in Manila.

If you pass Guadalupe Bridge on EDSA, note the massive adobe deposit (a cross-section of which faces EDSA in its west side) where a seminary, church and funeral parlor sit. Where did that volcanic tuff come from when there is no volcano within sight?

One interesting theory is that that volcanic material was deposited, and it had hardened with time, after a major eruption thousands of years ago of Taal Volcano in Batangas!

Question: If such an eruption happened before, can it not happen again?

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IN the Senate, Majority Leader Franklin M. Drilon has filed Resolution No. 600 calling for an inquiry into a report we made in Postscript of a Filipino invention that apparently uses water to generate hydrogen gas to power motor vehicles.

Drilon was quoted by an aide as wanting to give former NASA engineer Daniel D. Dingel, the inventor, the “benefit of the doubt.” Several committees were tasked to look into possibility of giving technical and financial assistance to the inventor.

In the House earlier, Rep. Leovigildo B. Banaag of Agusan del Norte filed Resolution No. 1164 along the same line, also after reading Postscript.

Meantime, we’ve received reports of sly attempts to put a lid on Dingel’s revolutionary invention. Powerful forces appear to be moving to block public attention that could lead to the full development and refinement of the invention.

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AT this point, we want to say that we are neither trained nor equipped to evaluate Dingel’s invention, but after inspecting the gadget and seeing it work, we strongly urge that the inventor be given a chance to demonstrate and develop it.

We are distressed that the government, after persistent efforts to call its attention to it, appears not that excited about an invention that could banish forever the problems of escalating prices of oil-based fuel and the accompanying pollution.

We are worried also for Dingel, whose life may have been endangered by his producing a device as unpretentious as he is, but which could end the world’s dependence on fossil fuel and the oil cartel’s stranglehold on mankind.

Imagine a Filipino invention running on plain water moving the cars, buses and similar conveyances all over the world without emitting a whiff of pollution and without the fuel burning a hole in the motorist’s pocket!

Too good to be true? Maybe, but why don’t we try it? Give him a chance.

* * *

DINGEL has announced that the money he would make on his invention, which could run into billions of dollars if it proves itself, would be used mainly to pay the country’s gargantuan foreign debt.

He said Filipinos have suffered enough in the hands of the world’s money lenders and power brokers. Paying our debts, he said, would buy back our independence and respectability.

The same problem of developing countries sinking deeper into debt was discussed by Sen. Francisco S. Tatad at the recent 21st annual United Nations Parliamentarians Forum in New York.

“The rich must see that the heaviest debt burden today continues to be borne by people who earn less that $1 a day per capita, and of whom far too many are and will forever remain jobless, homeless and marginalized,” Tatad said in his remarks on debt relief.

* * *

“UNLESS the poor countries are given the opportunity to make timely and sufficient investment in education, health care, housing and various safety nets,” Tatad said, “the present and future generations in these countries will never be able to enter and participate fully in the business of the information age.

“If mankind has learned anything in 20 centuries, it is that the need for and the value of human love and solidarity outlasts anything that wealth or power can offer. It is, therefore, a sin to make so much money on the blood and sweat of those who starve. Indeed, the rich must have a change of heart.”

He concludes: “The ultimate revolution in technology, which we are seeing in our time, if it is to benefit mankind, must affirm the most fundamental truth about man – that we are truly made to look after one another, that we are truly our ‘brother’s keepers.’”

* * *

A READER asked if he could install his MS Office97 on his second computer without Microsoft’s Bill Gates’s hounds pinning him down. Our reply from a layman’s point of view:

Yes, you can install it on your other PC. (I say “can install,” referring only to the technical, not legal, question). However, if it is not the full version but only an Upgrade edition, it might refuse to install if there is no previous Office software (Word, Excel, etc.) already installed on the machine.

If the Upgrade refuses to install, insist. Keep attempting to install and usually bibigay din siya, because sometimes it mistakes traces of the previous failed or aborted installation as remnants of an old version. Nalulusutan din si Bill Gates kung minsan.

The rule that says you may install a software or operating system (like Windows) only on one PC applies if your software or operating system is marked OEM (which stands for, if we remember right, Original Equipment Manufacturer).

Microsoft and other software makers bulk-sell them to PC manufacturers who in turn preinstall the software on the machines they make and sell. They ship the CD with the unit, but they mark it OEM—meaning it is meant only for that one machine.

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WE have long argued that that if the software CD is not marked OEM, they should allow its installation on several computers if the CD and the machines are owned by the same person and are not used for commercial purposes.

Who checks violations? In Windows 98, Microsoft has encrypted a code on each copy which, when used in the Internet, can be traced to the machine using it. I think Win95 does not have that tracer, which is probably why many users of pirated copies stick to Win95.

There was a suit filed recently in the US by a user who complained that inserting this Win98 tracer was invasion of privacy. Microsoft admitted having planted this tracer, but told the court they would remove it in future editions and that data they had gathered would not be used. At least we now know that it is technically possible to trace each Microsoft copy.

* * *

WHAT happens when a software marked OEM is installed in several units? The one who registers his copy first is considered the owner. The others (including the true owner) who may register the same CD later will be considered using unauthorized copies.

One trick that many Filipinos resort to is for all those using the same CD not to register. Anyway, the services and benefits that are promised with registration are not that important to distant users in the Philippines.

By making these remarks, we do not mean to encourage the use of unauthorized copies of computer software. We are just reporting what some people do to go around the rules.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 12, 1999)

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