Posted in Mobile App, Music, Social Media, Tutorials

How To Add Music To Instagram Stories

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There are several ways to add music to Instagram stories. You may even have seen one of them involves playing a song of your choice on the Apple Music or Spotify app, pausing it to go to Instagram story and resume playing it via the Control Center. There are also mobile apps out there that will allow you to add music to your Instagram stories by picking from a song list within the app itself.

Once when I had too much time on my hands, I used to populate my 15-second Instagram stories with snippets of songs to emphasize the specific lyrics that came to me subconsciously. Of course the feature to add music to Instagram stories is already available but only for select countries for the meantime.

I would usually add music to Instagram stories in the following manner:

1 – Play the song on my Apple Music app and screen record the part of the song where the specific lyrics are. iOS 11.4, however, has blocked screen recording of songs being played on Apple Music and if you attempt to screen record it, you’ll get a screen recording with the sound turned off.

The reason why I do not play it on the Apple Music or Spotify app, pause it to go to Instagram story and resume playing it via the Control Center is the quality of the audio/sound. If you’ve tried this you can hear the big difference. So I go for the other option, which is playing the video of the song on YouTube and screen recording it from there.

2 – I go to the screen recorded video on my Camera Roll and, click on Edit and at the bottom of the screen would tap on the circle with 3 dots inside, which would lead me to CropVS and iMovie options for editing. I would select iMovie for trimming the recorded part to 15 seconds only.

3 – I would then open CropVS and import the trimmed screen recording. CropVS would compress it and the compressed version always makes for a quick Instagram story upload.

4 – Upon opening my Instagram story, I would select the screen recorded video. I would then tap on the pencil icon and colour selection that comes up. If my mood tells me to pick blue, I would tap on blue and press on the screen for a while until the colour blue fills the screen to cover the video. Sometimes I would add emojis or GIFs or edit it with  another mobile app called Vimo for more animated emojis.

Here are a few samples:

In A Big Country by Big Country, © Mercury 

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Intro to I Don’t Want To Live Without You by Foreigner, ©Atlantic (I edited this with Vimo mobile app)

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Intro to Lucky Star by Madonna, ©Sire Warner Bros. (Edited with Vimo)

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Posted in Mobile App, Travel

Can I Use Grab Overseas?

 

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So you’re planning a trip outside of the Philippines but just within Southeast Asia and you’re asking yourself, can I use Grab overseas? The answer is yes. But can I use Grab overseas and still have my Grab rewards points intact? The answer is also yes.

Sometime last year I went out of the country and used my Grab mobile app overseas. This entailed a change to the local sim card and when I landed in NAIA 3 after my trip, I saw my Grab rewards points restarted to zero even though I had the same email address with which I registered my Grab account with. No one in Grab Support could satisfactorily address my concern.

Since they overhauled their system, the option to link one’s Grab account to a Google account or a Facebook account has become available. This feature helped keep the rewards points intact even if you are changing your Philippine sim card to a local one. I’ve done this in Thailand and Vietnam. I would insert my Thai or Vietnam sim card once I arrive at the airport or at the land border. As I had emphasized in this article, I do recommend using a local sim if you plan to get around as much as you can in Southeast Asia where Grab transport service is available. I cannot stress enough how it is the safest option for tourists.

The catalog for rewards points redeemable vary from one country to another. I had wanted that iFlix subscription for 1 year for Platinum Members worth 2,100 points but the Grab Vietnam market does not offer it as it was only available in the Philippines.

Posted in Finance, Internet, Mobile App, Technology

Google AdWords Suspension: Suspicious Payments

Last week I signed up for Google AdWords and created a campaign to test the waters. The minimum I paid for was $10 and Google collected my payment via a Philippine-issued debit card.

When I signed up, I saw the location or Country drop drown menu detected Vietnam by default. Thinking I was supposed to use my temporary address here in Hanoi, I entered my Hanoi address. My ad campaign was running well and my $10 balance was deducted $0.40 for a few days. I made another campaign after that, this time I promoted a YouTube video I had uploaded a month ago. The day after I received an email saying that my Google AdWords account was suspended for Suspicious Payments.

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Google AdWords Suspension for Suspicious Payments, as I understood it after I appealed Google AdWords’ decision, meant they suspected I used a stolen credit card because the default country I registered Google AdWords for and the billing address of my Philippine-issued debit card were different. It’s funny because as soon as they emailed me regarding my account suspension, they sent me another email (on the same day!) that my ad campaign was up and running.

If you do a Google search about Google AdWords suspension for Suspicious Payments, you will come to the conclusion few only get their Google AdWords suspension lifted. You guessed it, I got the same canned response about their decision was final and that I would not be able to create another account. However, when I go to my AdWords dashboard, it doesn’t absolutely reflect that. To get my refund, I had to cancel my Google AdWords account and yet after deactivating it, the button turned into REACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT. Another eye-rolling moment.

For now, I won’t think about reactivating my account yet even though it was clearly just a click away. The lesson for this is to make sure your billing address of your debit or credit card matches that of your registered country when you signed up.

Posted in Android, Food Delivery, Lifestyle, Mobile App, Telco, Travel

Best Mobile Apps in Vietnam For Expats and Tourists

My first travel experience in Vietnam was not a very pleasant one and looking back, I knew I had to write about this guide to the best mobile apps to use in Vietnam for tourists and travelers. These are the best mobile apps to use in Vietnam whichever city you may be in:

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GRAB – I will primarily start with the transport service mobile app Grab because of that not so pleasant incident when I first arrived in Ho Chi Minh via the land border. When you don’t know the language of the place you’re going into in Southeast Asia, Grab can be trusted to give you the correct fares and take you safely to your booked accommodation. It’s not uncommon for unsuspecting Ho Chi Minh tourists to report being charged ridiculous exorbitant fares by unregistered taxi drivers. If you came from a neighbouring country like Thailand, Laos or Cambodia and you already have a Grab account, you can still use your Grab mobile app to book a ride to get to your hotel. If you’re coming to Vietnam via the land border, you’ll be glad to know some buses offer free WiFi and this will allow you to book a Grab ride long before the bus leaves the drop-off spot. If you’re coming in via an international flight, the airports offer free WiFi too.

I personally have taken more Grab Bike rides than the Grab Car/Taxi ones because I prefer to look around and explore.

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GOOGLE TRANSLATE – There aren’t a lot of Vietnamese on the street you can ask clear directions or recommendations about so you need Google Translate mobile app for communicating with them.

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Google Translate mobile app does not always get it right but it can get across the general idea of what you’re trying to inquire.

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MY VIETTEL/MY MOBIFONE – If you intend to stay longer than a week, you might want to get serious about buying a local SIM card. You can see Viettel and Mobifone SIM cards being sold in airports and some currency exchangers even sell them. Once you have bought a SIM card, you can download the corresponding mobile app. I had a brief experience with using Mobifone last year so I cannot write about it. I’ve used Viettel the longest. You can top up at Circle K or Vinamart convenience stores or any stores with the sign boards Viettel or Mobifone.

A local SIM card is very useful for answering your Grab driver’s calls. Even if I don’t understand the driver, I would ask for help from a guard or valet nearby to assist me by letting them talk to the driver on my behalf. No need to be shy. It’s also useful for food delivery.

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NOW.VN/FOODY – NOW.VN or Foody is a food delivery service with many merchants to use from ranging from lunch, drinks, desserts, or fast food. There are a lot of healthy choices and some stores offer discounts. My only problem with NOW.VN is the debit card limitation – it won’t accept my home country-issued Visa and MasterCard debit cards. I’ve tried only to be greeted with a card declined confirmation.

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I could only pay in cash for my orders. However, you will be granted 1,000 VND credits to your Foody account after a completed delivery.

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VIETNAMMM – Vietnammm is also a food delivery service although it’s not as varied as Foody, its best feature is the availability of PayPal as a payment option. I did compare the menu of one restaurant which is also listed on Foody and the latter has one item more. You can filter your searches via payment options as well.

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CGV CINEMAS – There are more CGV Cinemas here in Hanoi and I’ve used it to check schedules. Pre-booking cinema tickets is not ideal for those holding a non-local debit card. Again, this has something to do with the same debit card limitation I mentioned with the Foody mobile app. I could only really browse for schedules on the day I’m watching the movie as their schedules often vary. By downloading the app and signing up for an account, you are eligible to earn rewards points for money spent as long as you present the CGV Cinemas mobile app to the ticket counter for QR scanning.

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LOTTE CINEMA VIETNAM – There are more Lotte Cinema branches in Ho Chi Minh than there are in Hanoi. It’s a shame there is no IMAX theatre here, though.

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SPEED LOTTE – I only knew about Speed Lotte mobile app because one store clerk approached me about it and had me sign up while I was browsing tissue boxes at Lotte Mart. Speed Lotte allows you to pick items on their grocery menu and Lotte Mart will have it delivered to your doorstep.

Posted in Finance, Mobile App, Telco, Tutorials

How To Use PayMaya Abroad

PayMaya offers a virtual card by simply registering via their PayMaya mobile app. If you want a GCash debit card alternative, you can definitely use PayMaya abroad and withdraw your funds using a physical PayMaya card.

Since the premise of PayMaya is principally for the purposes of a virtual card, no physical card is provided for the virtual card number you enrolled to by default on the PayMaya mobile app. It is important to note that you can have 2 or more PayMaya physical cards which you can order on the PayMaya website online or in PayMaya booths in malls. Once you have the PayMaya physical cards on hand, you can proceed to link them to your PayMaya virtual card. The mobile app is pretty straightforward when it comes to linking the physical cards. Once your physical cards are confirmed linked, the balance is shared among your physical cards and the virtual card number.

But how do you use your PayMaya abroad? First, you need to ask yourself if you used your postpaid or a prepaid number as your PayMaya login credential. Although you can use your TM or Globe mobile number to initially register with PayMaya, the critical distinction to make is the postpaid or prepaid number.

With a prepaid number, all you need to make sure is top it up with PhP100 for international roaming. With a postpaid number, you will be charged a PhP500 or so per day which is not ideal when you are staying overseas for long.

Second, you need to make sure you have logged in to your PayMaya mobile app before traveling out of the country. Some time ago PayMaya added a security feature for its users via a verification code that can only be sent to your registered mobile number.

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If you registered with your postpaid number as your PayMaya login credential, it means you will need to keep your sim inserted to get the verification code.

The good news is you can still view your PayMaya funds but it will have to be on an ATM machine overseas and not on your smartphone’s screen. Using the PayMaya physical card, you can inquire about your balance by doing a balance inquiry.

 

 

Posted in Games, Mobile App, Tutorials

Cooking Dash Hack

There are a number of sites I found online which promise unlimited gold in Cooking Dash but will only lead to more spam mail. The Cooking Dash hacks these sites promote are designed to look legit but fail to deliver on their promise of giving you unlimited gold in your Cooking Dash account. The steps usually involve surveys and offers and other times they require you to download specific mobile apps. It would probably work if you’re using Cooking Dash on Android but the comments on the online sites offering unlimited gold in Cooking Dash have all the characteristics of spam.

I’ve never spent my gold bars for preparing Auto Chef recipes and I do not have the patience to wait for 2 days to complete a recipe. I only spend them on a season’s ingredients and cooking wares. There are a few ways that I can still hold on to my Cooking Dash gold bars for later.

MOVING DATE AND TIME FORWARD. This is an old familiar trick which a lot of Candy Crush players have used to extend their lives without having to wait for one’s Candy Crush lives to reset every 15-20 minutes. Its use in Cooking Dash is mainly on cooking VIP recipes. Doing it in Cooking Dash is not a quick process as it is in Candy Crush because of the various recipes and one might encounter a little hiccup especially when one thinks the recipes are already cooked only to find out that the recipes have not been completed once you switch back your phone’s date and time to the present.

Let’s start with Auto Chef which takes 1 day and 9 hours to prepare:

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Close the Cooking Dash mobile app. Go to Settings, make sure to turn off WiFi first before you enable Airplane Mode. Tap on General > Date & Time > Disable Set Automatically. Round off 1 day and 9 hours to 2 days, in this example, I moved June 14 to June 16.

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Open the Cooking Dash app again and claim the completed recipes:

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Once the slots are empty again, do not go back to Settings yet to reset the date & time to normal. Instead, prepare more VIP recipes.

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Close the Cooking Dash app again and go back to Settings > General > Date & Time to move date & time forward to 3 days. Open the Cooking Dash app, collect the prepared recipes and close the Cooking Dash app.

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Once you’re in Settings > Date & Time, enable Set Automatically first before disabling Airplane Mode. In my case I usually keep the WiFi off before I go back to Cooking Dash to play because the WiFi where I stay in can be sometimes unstable and it renders the completed recipes useless.
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PURCHASE A SECOND RECIPE SLOT FOR ADDITIONAL ACTIVE BOOST. This is a good alternative for when I don’t have enough gold to purchase the default Auto Chef for a particular season. A second slot usually costs 40 gold bars and 75 gold bars in some seasons. I find the additional active boost is really useful for getting 5 stars every episode. I noticed that even if I only completed 58% of the Shop’s purchase, I still was able to get 5 stars even up to Season 4 when the required goal points are higher.
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As for Auto Chef, there is usually the Deal Wheel or Premium Wheel. The more milestones I reach in Trial of Style, the more chances I get of spinning the Premium Wheel for accumulating Auto Chef tokens and other stuff.

PLAY SERIES FINALE SMARTLY. If you’ve played enough Series Finale in Cooking Dash, you will learn that the coins required go higher for succeeding levels. Some series require 3000 coins upward once you reach level 5, the last level. To play it smart, always aim for the lowest required number of coins on the first level.

As you can see in the video below the goal varies when you tap close and then tap next.

 

 

You can alternate between tapping close and next within the Series Finale window or tapping close on the entire series window and going back to the Series Finale window until you see the coin requirement you are comfortable working with.

 

 

SERVE VIPs DURING SUPER FLO ACTIVATIONS. KB commented on this post that waiting to serve VIPs for a brief period when Super Flo is activated in Trial of Style doubles your coins from 200. Case in point as shown in the following videos. In the first video, I missed the 400-point reward by a few seconds because I served a VIP right before the Super Flo activation.

 

The second video is when I got the Super Flo activation timing right.

 

ONLY PLAY SERIES FINALE ON ITS LAST HOUR. The earlier you play a venue’s series finale, the more likely you’re going to replay the whole thing all over again. I learned this the hard way a while ago when the Bavaria Fest series finale was unlocked and to my excitement, jumped in and completed it only to be dismayed a day after when I saw the Bavaria Fest series finale had reset. My stats were not saved and it’s as if I never played it at all. I did claim the premium prize wheel for it post-game but I still feel I wasted my time replaying it.

Posted in Finance, Mobile App

GCash Non-Dispense Dispute

As you all know I have been writing about the technical issues I have had with GCash and all of them have been resolved. In this article I am going to write about the GCash non-dispense issue I had with an ATM machine outside the Philippines.

As I have written in a previous article, withdrawing cash in ATM machines overseas can be tricky as some cards may not be accepted in all banks and you run the risk of trial and error as to which bank’s ATM machine would accept your card. Even if the ATM machine lists all the logo, it’s not an assurance that it would work. I have a GCash MasterCard and even though the bank in Hanoi I tried transacting with listed MasterCard on the ATM machine, I still encountered an error and the card ejected my card along with the transaction slip bearing the words “Issuer or Switch Inoperative”.

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No cash came out, of course, so imagine my confusion when I tried withdrawing funds in another bank’s ATM machine and saw the error message on the screen that my funds were insufficient for the transaction. I did not bring my Android phone at the time which has my Globe sim inserted in it so I did not see the text message from GCash that the non-dispense transaction at Shinhan ATM machine got my GCash balance deducted.

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I sent an e-mail to GCash about it and the customer service rep replied that it would take 7-14 business days for my funds to be reverted. My mistake was WAITING and doing nothing for the 7-14 days period. When I tried to follow up with them beyond the 14 business days period, I was told by the agent that she forgot to attach the Dispute Form for me to fill up. The reversal dragged on longer than expected because even when the second 14 business days period right after I submitted the Dispute Form, it took something like a week or so for me to see the funds back in my account and not without badgering GCash on Messenger, Twitter and via e-mail. Not to mention all my follow-up attempts were futile because their reps would not respond to me on time. Two weeks after I got my funds back was the only time when the replies from their customer service agents came in.

I know I have stressed this before in other GCash articles, but I am going to emphasize this issue one more time – please have a Dispute Form downloaded on your laptop or desktop computer to fill up easily in case you encounter any technical issues with GCash services, especially those that involve money reversal. You can download the Dispute Form here.

Posted in Android, Mobile App

My Experience With PawnHero Philippines

At a time when I was strapped for a bit cash but don’t really need the full amount usually guaranteed by pawnshops which accept most iPhone versions and was too lazy to go around scouting for pawnshops, I was glad PawnHero Philippines was already there.

It was sometime in June 2017 when I tried PawnHero, an online pawnshop of some sort. At the time, I previously had my iPhone 6 Plus pawned to a local pawnshop which offered me a great deal but I was too burdened by the interest. I had to use my Android phone extensively while my iPhone 6 Plus was on a sabbatical and that was how I discovered the PawnHero mobile app in Google Play Store.

The PawnHero mobile app has a simple interface from registration of members to pawning your electronic gadget. There is a guideline, of course, as to which electronic gadgets are accepted. I sent photos of my iPhone 6 Plus and the accessories I still have for it and within 24 hours, I received a confirmation that my item was accepted. I also was able to pick the loan terms from 3 or 4 options – I picked the PhP6,543 loan for a 1-month period. I chose the details for the pick-up of the item and their delivery guy made sure I had the photocopy of a valid identification card and that my signature was also on the copy of the PawnHero form for when I complete the loan period.

The PhP6,543 loaned to me was even easier to claim because I chose to be paid via Coins.ph and the transfer was instant. (If you don’t have a Coins.ph account yet, just click on link to register.) I remembered paying PhP6,959 when I finally made the claim in August. I paid the loaned amount plus the interest using my Coins.ph account, too. It did not even take a few days after payment for my iPhone 6 Plus to be returned to the address I chose in the same condition as I had pawned it a month ago. The PawnHero delivery guy made sure I opened the package and checked my items thoroughly before he left.

PawnHero’s customer service is prompt and I definitely recommend you try pawning your electronic gadgets when you need a bit of cash for a while. I was invited by PawnHero to one of their seminars in Makati back in September-October 2017 but I declined as I was in another location at the time. This article is my way of telling them I did appreciate their services while encouraging others to try Pawn Hero, too.