Monday, February 2, 2015

Usbong Update (Feb. 2, 2015): Builder: Fixes

Hi everyone,
Here's the latest update on Usbong.

Usbong Builder:
+fixed: handling Android KitKat's new storage access framework
+fixed: Above Text and Below Text feature of screen/card type: TEXT_IMAGE
--> this is in response to a bug reported by an end-user

The .apk update on Google Play should be available
a few hours after you receive this email.

As for the source code, you can get hold of it from:

Usbong Builder Core Developer, Rocky Camacho.

We at Usbong are opening applications
for internships to learn:
Java/Android Development

and craft real world tools related to:
1) Usbong Builder
--> companion app of Usbong to help people build apps,
e.g., multilingual interactive storybooks.
2) Health Informatics

Feel free to drop me an email then.


Usbong: Animation and Manga Movies

Hi everyone,
I recently finished translating
(Animation and Manga Movies),
from Hayao Miyazaki's 1996/2004 book,
"Departure Point: 1979-1996."

Here's the translation.

I did this so that my students
can read what Mr. Miyazaki
has to say regarding the matter
for my Japanese Films class.

Interestingly, Mr. Miyazaki
is quite fond of airplanes.

Please feel free to share this with students, etc.
We welcome people who may want
to collaborate with us at Usbong,
where we also do interactive storybooks.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hi everyone,
First off, happy 2015 to all!
I hope everyone's having
a wonderful holiday season!
I know I am!

Usbong is still certainly alive and kicking!
Here are our updates:
1) One double-click Usbong installer for Windows (Updated)
Thanks to IT expert, Deni Jaramillo, the Usbong installer
has now been updated and is already downloadable

2) OpenMRS Server Scheduler
After a number of trial and error, our OpenMRS server
for a partner clinic in Marikina, Philippines
has now been configured through Windows scheduler
to sleep and wake at certain hours of the day.

It took us awhile to get this running, but it now works.
The main issue was that we could not get the server
to automatically sleep, although automatically waking it up
had not been a major problem.

As it turns out, when Windows scheduler
creates an instance of cmd prompt to run the program (i.e. .bat file),
it does this command: C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\cmd.exe
This means that the default directory is at:

Therefore, in my .bat file, I'll need to specify
the location of the psshutdown program to run,
and not assume that it's in the same directory,
because it's evidently not.

Psshutdown is part of PsTools,
which can be downloaded here:

Again, special thanks to Deni Jaramillo for the support.

3) Completion of the Introduction to Complexity Course
Just before the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline,
I was able to successfully complete and pass
the Intro to Complexity course
offered by the Santa Fe Institute (SFI)
online and without fee.

To get a certificate, I had to do
and pass all the 9 Unit Tests,
and get an average score of at least 70%.
I was able to get a score grade of 96%.

Here are some of the things that I like about the course:
a) As long as I watch the videos
(sometimes multiple times),
do the quizzes, and, most importantly,
understand the material,
I can pass the exams and not feel
like a small fish in a big pond.
Doing the tests actually helped me
understand the material more
(it was open notes).

b) They added interviews with experts in Complexity Science
to share how they actually define it,
what is the most exciting thing they're doing now,
and their advice to people who'd want to work on Complexity.

c) They offer extra homework and references
for those who'd want to know more about certain topics.

d) I was able to apply what I've learned for a conference paper
(I'll let you know what it is and if it gets accepted
as soon as the results are out).

Special Thanks to Dr. Greg Tangonan for the heads up,
Dr. Kardi Teknomo for the encouragement,
and the Santa Fe Institute for doing a great job with the course.

4) Usbong Teacher Training
We've done Intro to Java, and we're now moving on
to our Teacher Training on Android Development.
This is part of our capacity building initiative,
where we're helping people not only gain technical skills,
but also soft skills such as self-confidence,
communication (even technical ideas),
persuasiveness, etc. through mentorship
and providing a venue (and eventually, hopefully,
a community) to learn these things.

5) Japanese Studies Apps Using Usbong
This semester, I have 7 teams working on their apps using Usbong.
We've gotten more structured and process-oriented,
using Project Management tools, such as
Gantt Charts, Critical Path Methods (CPM),
Weekly Status Updates, Lessons-learned Reports, etc.
It is our hope that students will be able to build
apps that are of high quality and on time.
I'll keep you guys posted then.

Well, this is all for now.
There's a lot more stuff coming up this 2015,
and I should also mention that we are accepting
applications for internships at Usbong.
We offer training on Java, Android Development,
Software Engineering, Social Entrepreneurship, etc.

If any of you are interested or would want to collaborate,
feel free to drop me an email,
or send a shout-out via our google groups.!forum/usbong-users

Again, happy 2015 to all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Usbong Update (Nov. 7, 2014): Interactive Storybook App to practice Japanese

Hi everyone,
Here's the latest update on Usbong.
I've just finished developing and uploading
this sample interactive storybook app,
called "Rizal Park Adventure".

Here, you play the role of a college student
who accompanies a cute Japanese international student
to Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines.
Practice and learn Japanese along the way!

You can download the tree (i.e. app) from:

The file name is: RizalParkAdventure.utree
For questions, comments, feature requests:!forum/usbong-users

For more info:

Special Thanks:
1) Paul Cabacungan of the Ateneo Innovation Center (AIC)
2) Diane Gonzales who is the core developer
of Usbong Community (website to upload/download trees).

Hope to collaborate with any of you in the near future then.

p.s. for those who would like to opt out of the mailing list, please feel free to let me know.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Usbong Update (Nov. 3, 2014); Workshop, Law (Gandhi), Medicine (Viktor Frankl)

Hi everyone,
Here's the latest update on Usbong.

Towards the end of this month, 
I, along with my advisor, Dr. Reena Estuar, 
will be conducting an Usbong workshop 
at Ateneo de Davao, Philippines.

Our focus will be on mLearning,
i.e. using Usbong to build storybooks, 
for interactive digital storytelling.

Incidentally, here's a news article 
from about an 
English-Filipino-Cebuano storybook app. 
This can be done using Usbong as well. 

Right now, I am building a sample app
that will further showcase what Usbong can do.

While our initial idea was to help people 
build apps, we have learned that 
we are also building people.

This is why, I would like to share here
on our mailing list some quotations
I've recently read from Gandhi on Law 
and Viktor Frankl on Medicine.
I believe these help further our cause.

1) Law (according to Gandhi)
"I realized that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby-- not even money, certainly not my soul."
--> From Gandhi's autobiography: "All Men Are Brothers"

2) Medicine (according to Viktor Frankl)
"A patient once declared that she thought her life meaningless and therefore did not want to get well; but that everything would be different and fine if only she had a job that fulfilled her--if, for example, she were a doctor or a nurse or a chemist or were engaged in some kind of scientific research. It was necessary to show this patient that the job at which one works is not what counts, but rather the manner in which one does the work. It does not lie with the occupation, but always with us, whether those elements of the personal and the specific which constitute the uniqueness of our existence are expressed in the work and thus make life meaningful.

  What, really, is the doctor's condition? What gives meaning to his activities? Practicing all the arts of medicine? Giving an injection in this case or prescribing a medicine in that? To practice all the arts of medicine is not to practice the art of medicine. The medical profession merely provides a framework wherein the doctor finds continual opportunities to fulfill himself through the personal exercise of professional skill. The meaning of the doctor's work lies in what he does beyond his purely medical duties; it is what he brings to his work as a personality, as a human being, which gives the doctor his peculiar role. For it would come to the same thing whether he or a colleague gave injections, etc., if he were merely practicing the arts of medicine, merely using the tricks of the trade. Only when he goes beyond the limits of purely professional service, beyond the tricks of the trade, does he begin that truly personal work which alone is fulfilling.

  And what about the work of nurses, which our patient so envied? They sterilize syringes, carry bedpans, change bedding--all highly necessary acts, but scarcely enough in themselves to satisfy the human spirit. But when a nurse does some little thing beyond her more or less regimented duties, when, say, she finds a personal word to say to a critically ill person--then and only then is she giving meaning to her life through her work. Every occupation allows for this, so long as the work is seen in the proper light. The indispensability and irreplaceability, the singularity and uniqueness issue from the person, depend on who is doing the work and on the manner in which he is doing it, not on the job itself."

--> Frankl, Viktor. 1969. The doctor and the soul. USA: Bantam Books, Inc. p95-96.

Finally, let us recall to mind
Dr. Juan Flavier who recently passed away. 
May he rest in peace.

p.s. for those who would like to opt out of the mailing list, please feel free to let me know.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Usbong Update: Introducing Phrase Hints (Oct. 6, 2014)

Hi everyone,
Here's the latest update regarding Usbong.
(Yes, we're still alive and kicking!)

New Features/Bug Fixes
A. Usbong: 
+fixed: illegible "Don't have an account?" in sign-in screen
+added: phrase hints
--> description: when a user taps a phrase, a hint message appears
--> phrase hints have a lighter shade for its font color
--> challenge: Japanese, Chinese, etc. do not really use spaces, unlike English, Spanish, French, German...

According to Wikipedia, "Tokenization is particularly difficult for languages written in scriptio continua which exhibit no word boundaries such as Ancient GreekChinese,[1] or Thai.
Some ways to address the more difficult problems include developing more complex heuristics, querying a table of common special-cases, or fitting the tokens to a language model that identifies collocations in a later processing step."

--> workaround: I was able to solve this for Japanese, by breaking down the Japanese sentence into its three alphabets (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana) + everything else not covered. The solution is not perfect, but it's workable for most cases. The next step so as to improve the algorithm is to include a Japanese dictionary to check for combinations between the alphabets.

--> further: It took me awhile to solve the issue of the feature breaking when combined with the HTML tags feature. In any case, I was able to fix this.

--> application: it is now possible to allow the user to receive hints about a particular phrase when reading text on the screen.
--> sample .utree: koko ni ite (stay here);
--> Attachments: 
1) inNihongo.png (text in Nihongo)
2) hint.png (phrase hint)
3) inEnglish.png (text in English when fully translated; it is possible to switch between languages easily via the set language option (press menu button); more than two languages can be added)
--> Reference: image and scene were taken from the trailer of the movie, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014)

B. Usbong Builder (care of core developer, Rocky Camacho; issue ticketed by students)
+fixed: textImageDisplay caption bug
+partially fixed: unable to export .utree 
--> we are unable to replicate this error, although we do know that it occurs. Nevertheless, Rocky has done the appropriate code revisions.

Well, this is all for now.

Usbong on Google Code has been updated.

Usbong Builder has been updated.

If anyone wants to collaborate,
feel free to get in touch with me.
You may also send an email
via the usbong-users mailing list.

Have a blessed holiday!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Usbong Update (July 11, 2014): Founders at Work now at Rizal Lib; Usbong = tech startup

Hi everyone,
You can now get the hard copy version of 
Jessica Livingston's book, "Founders at Work: 
Stories of Startups' Early Days,"
at the New Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila.

As the founder of Usbong, I decided
to donate a copy of the book to the library,
so as to inspire students, faculty, and staff 
to also become founders and entrepreneurs,
whose aim is to solve problems 
and make the world a better place.

For those who may not know, Usbong 
is a tech startup that helps people 
build Android apps for various contexts.

We provide capacity building training workshops
on topics such as Android development,
Software Engineering, and Social Entrepreneurship.

Our flagship product is also called Usbong.

Usbong (the product) is an open source platform 
that helps even non-technical people build Android apps
for use in data collection, assessment, training, 
screening, diagnostics, and also digital storytelling.

For a sample of what my students have done 
(with a focus on education/language literacy),

For presentations (health/education),

For specific customization needs beyond 
our generic flagship product, Usbong,
we also offer software development services. 

Eventually, we want our company to become
a training ground which adheres to the mentorship model, 
where each of our mentees are trained 
to become ICT-empowered social entrepreneurs, 
so they can build their own companies,
solve problems/issues on efficiency, intensity, and longevity
in areas such as education and healthcare,
as well as generate livelihoods for people,
especially the Filipino people.

So for those of you who may be interested 
in collaborating with us, or want to avail of our services,
feel free to get in touch with me, 
or via the usbong mailing list.

This is all for now.