The Witching Hour at the PSE

While the Philippine peso is falling down like a stack of cards (similar to the ones used in PAGCOR casinos), the PSE Composite Index (Phisix), amazingly – perhaps to show its resiliency – had held its ground and even rebounded on days when the currency was free-falling.

This only demonstrated the fact that money men who were almost exclusively playing the peso-dollar game when stock prices were in the doldrums, were beginning to show their interest to speculate in the stock market once again.

Market makers and foreign investors – prime movers of the PSE – that had long been gone even before the series of parodies that happened in Manila’s top corridors of power unraveled in the 2002, seem to be stepping in once more in the Philippine stock market, after the Gloria administration showed its desire to clean up its act.

Recently, blue chips – which currently are at their dirt-cheap levels almost similar to the turbulent days (post-coup) of the Cory Aquino era – were seen being plucked up by enthusiastic foreign fund managers who are betting that the Philippine economy will fare much better under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s new mandate.

Had the early departure of foreign money (players and investors alike) during the fading months of Erap’s ill-fated administration been a boon and the index had indeed bottomed-out?

Or, these were just the omen of even dire things to come? While the Thailand baht – the currency that triggered the economic crash in Southeast Asia in 1997 – had considerably recovered much of its value, the Philippine peso, on the contrary, is now at levels even much lower when the financial crisis started. Can we learn our lesson from the Thais? Or, is our sociocultural heritage and brand of politics such a volatile mixture that only a cultural revolution can, perhaps, cure? Can the Phisix -like the bamboo – continue to show its resiliency?

Too bad. For a country that contends its population to be the most educated in Asia, how can these things happen quickly and oh, so frequently? Do we love chaos and confusion that much that these are all by

Stock Exchange Stitch
Stock Exchange Stitch (Photo credit: Monica’s Dad)

sociopolitical design? Are we emulating the carnival in Rio — but with Manila’s nauseating political overtones?

Questions and still more questions will continue to be poised upon the minds of forward-looking Filipinos who still dream of the good life in their homeland and…not just to be relegated as yet another 7,000 plus island backwater in this part of the globe.

The G5 iMac

Exactly two weeks ago, we went to the new Apple Store in Pleasanton, CA to take a glimpse of the remarkable G5 iMac which Apple released in mid-September.

Inside a 17" Apple G5 iMac
Inside a 17″ Apple G5 iMac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The new store – opened Sept 18 – was inside the Stoneridge Shopping Mall which, in turn, was conveniently situated at the junction of Interstates 580 and 680 — two busy freeways that connect Central California and North Bay commuters to the East Bay portion of Silicon Valley.

From our house, the closest Apple Store prior to this one was either the outlet in Palo Alto (inside the Stanford University campus) or, that spacious store also located inside a huge mall along Stevens Creek Blvd in Santa Clara.

Store employees – clad in black T-shirt with the white Apple logo – eagerly greeted customers and almost automatically, ushered them to the area where the new iMac G5 were showcased.

There were four (4) iMac G5s on hand – two 17″ and two 20″ ones – for customers to try their hands on. I immediately seized the opportunity to demo the 20″ model – with an Apple iSight camera on top of the screen – after a bearded Apple fanatic, was done with his turn — closing all his Final Cut Pro rendezvous — on the dazzling snow-white colored machine.

The first thing I did was examined the physical details of the machine – top, side, front and back. I tilted the screen into varying angles and observed whether the anodized aluminum stand was stable. I was also very impressed with the G5 iMac’s simplicity while not having to skimp on the needs of today’s digitally-addicted computer users. All the ports – digital & analog sound jacks, USB, FireWire, 56K (V.92) modem, 10/100 Ethernet and video out – were neatly arrayed at the back including the power switch.

The front was so pristine – no controls to distract the user’s visual interaction with the stunning display – with the exception of the silver Apple logo imprinted on the white plastic case — to probably serve as a reminder to the users, of the company that brought computing Utopia to them.

English: Apple iMac G5 side rear view.
English: Apple iMac G5 side rear view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The machine’s technical elegance can be seen mostly at the back. Heat dissipation was done via a 1/4″- wide horizontal slit on the machine’s removable back cover. You can feel a very light wisp of hot air gently blowing -courtesy of three (3) microprocessor-controlled fans inside – when you place your hand along this slit.

I’m skeptical whether this method will be ample enough (even without room air-conditioning) when the unit is used in tropical/humid countries like the Philippines. Also, I was not so sure of the machine’s reliability and stability when used as a 24/7, 365 day a year web server. I had long proven the reliability of their G4 (Sawtooth) – as well as the much older G3 iMac (the original, multi-colored model) – because of their bigger cooling fans.

The sound may be a bit on the minus side but the quality was not lame. The two stereo speakers were hidden from view – cleverly crafted at the bottom of the 2″ wide panel, to enable sound to bounce-off from the desk or table where you place the unit.

The new G5 iMac was spiffy enough even with only the base 256 MB of DDR RAM installed. I opened several programs while simultaneously playing two (2) video playbacks via QuickTime and iDVD, and noticed only very minimal video refresh delays even when the other programs were opened and put into action. The machine’s default OS X Panther (10.3.5) seemed to be a good match for the processor’s 64-bit capability.

Lastly, the bundled keyboard and mouse -while not their top-of-the-line-models – complement the overall simplicity of the G5 iMac. As advertised, the keyboard tucked neatly under the stand when you’re done using this nice piece of computer cum art piece. Although, I noticed, that the base of the aluminum stand had already some minor scratches on it, I’m not sure whether they were due to the keyboard’s feet constant rubbing when stowed underneath or for some other reasons.

The price also came as a surprise at a modest $1,299 – this is their cheapest compared to Apple’s previous iMac releases – for the entry level, 1.6 GHz, 17″ screen model with Combo Drive.

Much as I would like to get one that very same day, I was disappointed to come home empty-handed. The Apple G5 iMacs are selling like donuts. There was a long waiting list even if you buy it at a brick and mortar Apple Store!

Ordering it online will set you back for almost a month: time that will be spent in extreme anguish or even mild paranoia.

Meanwhile, Apple fanatics like me will just continue to drool and to hope for the best that, one day, they will be able to snag any one of these new creations that came from the Mecca of Computing in Cupertino.


Almost three weeks after we dropped in at this store and after contacting all the Apple Stores in Northern California and signing-on in their waiting lists, this author finally went home with a 1.8 GHz, 17″ screen model of the G5 iMac — from nearby Santa Clara, CA.


View the author’s iMac G5 slide show: LOW (320 x 240) | HI (640 x 480)