POSTSCRIPT / February 27, 2000 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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A P400M shopping mall at the Luneta? It’s crazy!

PRESIDENT Estrada tells us that the government does not have enough money and so has to slash the budget even for essential services, including education.

But suddenly his administration has more than P400 million for a waterfront shopping mall project sought to be built reportedly by the Philippine Tourism Authority behind the Quirino grandstand at the Luneta.

The Luneta is not the place for another shopping mall. As it is, the Luneta is doing very well as a people’s park. It does not need such a monstrosity that would violate its natural ambience and block the view of the famous sunset.

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WHAT the Luneta and the entire Rizal Park need is the superb maintenance in the manner that the late dean of columnists Doroy Valencia gave it using contributions from private donors. Among the obvious needs of the park are more sprinklers for the shrubs and lawns, renovated kiosks and cleaner toilets – not a monstrous shopping mall.

As PTA chairman, Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta should direct her general manager, Lito Banayo, to look into tourism infrastructure needed in the countryside instead of fancy projects in a metropolitan area like the Luneta.

And to avoid suspicion that she is a part of the mega-deal, Araneta as PTA chairman must ensure that all contracts of the PTA are above-board and transparent.

PTA should leave the shopping mall business to the private sector.

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HAVE you ever wondered how you would cope if that silent killer, the heart attack, gets you when you’re alone? The treacherous killer could attack while you’re alone in your room or when you’re driving solo.

Glean these suggestions culled from the newsletter of The Mended Hearts Inc., Heart Response):

“Many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack. What can a victim do?

“Without help, a person whose heart stops beating properly begins to feel faint and has about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

“However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.

“A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without letup until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

“Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victim, between breaths, could call for help.

You’ll be giving yourself CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) with this technique.”

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AT home, if you’ve tried heating or boiling water (say, for instant coffee) in your microwave oven and succeeded, you’re lucky.

Ernesto Nievera, former chief of color photography of the pre-martial rule Manila Times, tells us of this consumer story of Abigail Tiu (732) 420-7537 whose son was not as lucky. (“Estong” Nievera, now renamed “Stone” by his American friends, is living in retirement in New York.) Tiu recalls:

“About five days ago my 26-year-old son decided to have a cup of instant coffee. He put a cup of water in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before). I am not sure how long he set the timer for, but he told me he wanted to bring the water to a boil.

“When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup he noted that the water was not boiling, but suddenly the water in the cup ‘blew up’ into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand, but all the water had flown out into his face due to the buildup of energy.

“His whole face is blistered and he has first and second degree burns on his face which may leave scarring. He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye.

“The doctor who was attending to him at the hospital said that this is a fairly common occurrence and that water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven.

“If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy such as a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc. It is, however, a much safer choice to boil the water in a tea kettle.”

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BACK to the query of some computing readers who want advice on what to buy as replacement when their CD-ROM drive conks out – whether it should be another CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM, or a writable CD-ROM drive.

Elviro C. Perez II of MLQU School of Law who had worked with these devices while still active with a big computer distributor shares this info that may help users decide what to install:

“The old but capable CD-ROM is still a good buy. But if you prefer to use DVDs in the future, it is better to shift to a DVD-ROM rather than to a CD-RW (CD-Rewritable) drive.

“You just have to qualify your purpose for using DVDs. A DVD-Video (often simply called DVD) holds video programs and is played on a DVD player hooked up to a TV. DVD-ROM holds computer data and is read by a DVD-ROM drive hooked up to a computer.

“Video CD is not always compatible with DVD. All DVD-ROM computers can play Video CDs (with the right software) while standard VCD players can’t play DVDs.

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“DVD (Digital Video Disc), which once stood for Digital Versatile Disc, is the next generation of optical disc storage technology. It’s essentially a bigger, faster CD that can hold about 15 times as much information and transfer it to the computer about 20 times as fast as a CD-ROM.

“A DVD, also called a Super Density disc (SD), can hold 8.5 gigabytes of data or four hours of movies on a side. Double-sided and rewritable DVD-like discs are under development.

“DVD has the capability to produce near-studio-quality video and better-than-CD-quality audio. DVD is vastly superior to videotape and generally better than laserdisc. However, quality depends on many production factors.

“All DVD players and drives will read audio CDs and CD-ROMs. These are not actually required by the DVD spec, but so far all manufacturers have stated that their DVD hardware will read CDs.

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ON the other hand, you can’t play a DVD in a CD player. (Technically, the pits are smaller, the tracks are closer together, the data layer is a different distance from the surface, the modulation is different, the error correction coding is new, etc.)

“CD and DVD are very different formats. Therefore you cannot write DVDs with your CD recorder. You could, however capture the video from a DVD-Video disc with a video capture board, re-encode it with MPEG-1, and write that as a Video CD. The quality would definitely diminish and is even similar to VHS copies.

“The story is the same with DVD-ROM: You can copy it to a CD-R blank if it will fit and if the contents only needed about 650mb.

“Software on a CD-ROM will run fine in a DVD-ROM system. However, DVD-ROMs are not readable by CD-ROM drives. There is a compatible forward migration path in this field since some CD-ROM drive manufacturers plan to cease CD-ROM drive production after a few years in favor of DVD-ROM drives.

* * *

“CD-RW (CD Rewritable) drives are often used for duplicating Audio CDs or CD-ROMs. In the underground IT business, software pirates use CD-RWs to compile musical selections or copy original interactive games and other data.

“A CD-R (CD Recordable) drive is not compatible with DVD-ROM. It’s more of a technical problem since CD-Rs are ‘invisible’ to DVD laser wavelength because the dye used in CD-Rs doesn’t reflect the beam.

“Some first generation DVD-ROM drives and many DVD players can’t read CD-Rs. An effort to develop CD-R ‘Type II’ media compatible with both CD and DVD wavelengths had been abandoned.

“CD-R is short for ‘CD-Recordable.’ Recordable CDs are WORM (write once, read multiple) media that work just like standard CDs. A blank CD-R can hold about 74 minutes of audio, or about 650mb of data while some CD-R blanks can hold 80 minutes of audio, or about 700mb of data.

“The advantage of CD-R over other types of optical media is that you can use the discs with a standard CD player, from your car’s CD changer to your PC. The disadvantage is that you can’t reuse a disc, you cannot overwrite or re-record on the same disc.

* * *

“CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) is a related technology that allows you to erase discs and reuse them, but the CD-RW media doesn’t work in all players. Writing to CD-Rs and CD-RWs requires a special drive.

“You can’t write CDs with an ordinary CD-ROM drive unlike CD-Rewritable drives which are able to write on both CD-R and CD-RW discs. All CD recorders can read CDs and CD-ROMs, just like a standard CD-ROM drive.

“CD-ROMs (compact disc read-only memory) have a higher memory capacity than computer disks that store data magnetically. However, CD-ROM drives, the devices used to access information on CD-ROMs, can only read information from the disc, not write to it.

“CD-ROMs and Audio CDs (CD-DA, for Digital Audio) are almost exactly alike in structure and data format. The difference between the two lies in the device used to read the data — either a CD-ROM player or a compact disc (CD) player. CD-ROM players are used almost exclusively as computer components or peripherals.

“Both types of players spin the discs to access data as they read the data with a laser device. CD-ROM players only spin the disc to access a sector of data and copy it into main memory for use by the computer, while audio CDs spin throughout the time that the audio recording is read out, directly feeding the signal to an audio amplifier.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 27, 2000)

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