Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Web Researcher

I was offered a medical web researcher job in oDesk and passed the test that was given to me. I am quite excited to start working on the job because these are the kinds of work that I wanted. Something to stimulate my brain and I really felt it when doing the test specially with the limited time that was given, although I hope when there's already actual work that I am given a much longer time to complete the task.

I am really looking forward to this work and I hope I could bring a lot to the table. I better go start brushing on my web research skills and techniques so I could prove to the company that hired me that I am the right man for the job. Besides, having a medical web researcher as a job description sounds pretty cool if you ask me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Applewerkz Contest

I just won a free SGP screen protector for my Galaxy Note today from Applewerkz!! Yahoo! It's really a very easy contest. You just need to answer the question, "What is the predecessor of the Galaxy Note?" Back in 2004, I won a 1-gig USB pen drive from Acer but the cost of travelling to pick up a 500-peso device in their main office in Makati is just too much so I passed on that. But I just got good news that my prize is going to be shipped to me. Another Yahoo!

I think it's quite unfair to the others though because I'm currently working on a project where web research skill is a must and believe me, if it's in the web, I WILL find it. I also won a music CD a couple of years ago for guessing the birthday of the owner's wife with the help of this particular skill and if I can find such information in a few minutes, finding out the correct predecessor of the Galaxy Note is such an easy task for me. It took me only a few clicks.

I also remember helping out someone finding information about a long lost acquaintance with only a first name and a few descriptions and I ended up finding out about the person's history and current whereabouts. The lesson here is if you have been online for a few years, you are easily searchable so be careful what information you put out about yourself in the world wide web because that information will be there forever and anybody can find it. You just have to ask the right questions.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Instagram vs pixlr-o-matic

My Lonely Lamp
First of all, happy Easter everybody! The popular Instagram app that was once exclusive only for the IOS finally became available for android users a few days ago. But honestly, I can't really see what the fuzz is all about. I've been using pixlr-o-matic and to me it seems a much more capable photo editing app than the current version of Instagram for android devices. I have never owned an iPhone nor have plans in the future so I really cannot say if this app is indeed great in that particular device, but I can definitely say that pixlr-o-matic is a much better option for photo-editing android users. I think it has much more effects compared to the current version of Instagram unless of course they add a bunch more in future updates. One thing I do know is that Instagram has a much larger social scene than pixlr-o-matic, although images can also be uploaded and shared in the latter. So what I suggest is you edit your pictures using pixlr-o-matic and upload it on Instagram for now. Maybe I'll finally see the greatness of Instagram after some more updates but for now, I think I'll stick with my very capable pixlr-o-matic.

The photo on the left is taken by my Samsung Galaxy Note and edited using the pixlr-o-matic app for android.

Regardless, if you want to download and try the android apps I mentioned above and judge them yourselves, the links are below.



Registering Your Online Work In The BIR

I came across an article in Yugatech about Filipinos being one of the top freelancers in Odesk and came across a reader post that states that the BIR will find a way to tax these Filipinos. Actually, online freelancing is taxable under the line of business category "9309 Other Service Activities" and is subject to monthly taxes and income tax returns. I pay my taxes monthly and will be passing my annual ITR next week. I would have taken care of that this week, but because of the holy week, the BIR and banks are closed. So in light of this, I will try my best to recall and explain how to go about in registering your line of work in the Bureau of Internal Revenue or BIR so you could start contributing to our country's economic growth and get to have your own ITR or Income Tax Returns, which you might even find useful in the future, i.e. credit card application.

First you need to get a Professional Tax Receipt or PTR in your city hall. When I applied at the BIR, I did not know that I needed this and was forced to continue my application the next day since I need this to complete my registration. Community Tax Certificate or CTC or Cedula is not needed at this moment.

I suggest you go early because you need to go pay the annual application fee in an authorized agent bank or AAB, which unfortunately has a cut-off of before lunch. You will also of course need a tax identification number or TIN. If you don't have one then you need to get one first. This might probably make your application time a bit longer but you do need this. I'm not sure how much longer it would take though because I have had my TIN since 2004.

Now for your application. First, you will need to be assessed. Either ask the guard or any employees you come across with where this is. Tell your assessing officer that you work online as a freelancer and that you directly get paid by your clients abroad for your services. I get paid through wire transfers and through paypal and I explained to them that my clients do not pay any witholding taxes as far as I know. If your work goes through a middleman here in the Philippines you will need to get their TIN and be registered as a regular employee since you are considered one.

They will then tell you to fill up three copies of both the 0605 and 1901 forms. After filling up these forms, either have your TIN verified by showing your 0605 forms at the TIN verification booth or go to next step, which is assessment of the requirements, and this is where the PTR comes handy because it is the only requirement that you will need at this point. If you don't have this in hand, you will need to get it in your city hall and that will take another hour or more. Now I assume depending on where you are, either they will help you out and not require you to go to the process of verifying your TIN and do it themselves or point you back to the TIN verification booth. I'm not sure of this though. We have the nicest people here in Baguio City so I guess it depends on where you are.

Up next is paying the 500-pesos annual fee in an authorized agent bank. You can ask your assessing officer where is the nearest authorized agent bank or AAB you can go to. I tried looking for a list online but eerily can't find one. I can confirm a few though like the Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco De Oro, and Philippine National Bank as these are the banks that I have gone to. I know you can pay your taxes online at the Bank of the Philippine Islands but that's all I know.

At this point, one of your 0605 and 1901 forms will be in your possession and the rest will be kept by the bank. You need to bring these back to the BIR. They will then schedule an orientation date where you will get all your forms back after and then some.

After the orientation, they will give you a simplified set of booking records or a ledger, which is of course for a fee. If I remember it correctly, it was about 50 pesos. This is where you'll write down your transaction records like payments and expenses. Remember that this ledger should be renewed every year regardless if there are still plenty of space to write into (i.e. you registered in November and only has filled up the ledger for your November and December transactions), as well as the 500-peso registration.

The final step will be ordering your receipts. If you know a printing press where you can order one and think you'll save some money feel free to do so. If you don't, you can ask someone in the BIR who knows one and you can order from them. I think I paid 500 pesos for a 500-page receipt. This is an official receipt and you could actually use these if you want to sell stuff online because online selling is also under the "9309 other service activities" category as far as I know. You'll probably wait a few days before getting your receipt.

And that's it. You can now legitimately shout out the phrase "I'm a taxpaying citizen goddammit!" And you'll even have those little "Ask for Receipt" certificates to post in your personal office's door (see image above).

Note: This is a step for online workers only and may be different from the steps for applications of people in other lines of work.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Skype Unlimited World

I've been subscribed to a service called Unlimited World in Skype for two years now since my girlfriend left to work in Singapore. I call her every single day while she commutes to and/or from work so she wouldn't feel alone and lonely. Sometimes, I ring her when she's out of her apartment and we just keep the line open just so we could hear each other's voice. She also uses my Skype account to call her relatives in Canada and Hong Kong and I use it to call my family in the United States and we can talk for hours without having to worry about the cost. I have also used my account to call hotels abroad and for some other international calls on some occasions.

So is the $14 monthly subscription worth it? I would say absolutely YES! A $20-a-year magic jack, confined to unlimited calls to only Canada and USA, cannot compare to the usefulness of this subscription for a person like me who knows people from all over the world, which if you think about it, like most Filipinos.

Here is the complete list of the countries I could call with my Unlimited World subscription.


Argentina, Australia, Austria, Beligum, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg only), Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom

Landlines and mobile phones in:

Canada, China, Guam, Hong Kong S.A.R, China, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Thailand, and United States

This is really quite useful for Filipinos because, as I mentioned above, we are scattered all over the world. If you convert the cost of this subscription to pesos, it is roughly the same amount as a local monthly landline subscription, which only offers unlimited local calls. So think about the amount you can save with this. The only downside I see is that the relative working abroad probably wouldn't want their relatives in the Philippines to have easy access to them. I'd be scared too if any of my relatives in the Philippines can call me to ask for money any time of the day, LOL.

If you have a smartphone with a Skype app installed. Then the possibility just became endless. When I'm out of the house and needed to call abroad, I simply whip out my phone, connect to a nearby free wifi, or connect to my prepaid mobile internet, which only costs 10 pesos for 30 minutes (Smart), and presto, a very cheap way to call abroad.

But how do one subscribe to this you say? First, you need a computer, internet connection, and Skype installed of course or a smartphone with a Skype app installed that could connect through wifi or mobile internet. You also a need either a bank account, Paypal account, or a credit card. And lastly, a Skype account. Click here to go directly to their monthly subscription page and choose Unlimited World. One reminder though, this is called a subscription for a reason, because it is. If you want to use it for just one month, you have to cancel your subscription manually so you won't be billed for the next. That's it! Happy Unlimited Calling!

On The Go

One thing I love being a freelancer as I have mentioned before is being able to do stuff you couldn't normally do if I was a regular office employee like paying utility bills and going to the bank. Although I have someone who could do these things for me, I do prefer to do them myself. What I would do is get some work done at home, go to where I needed to go, and then finish up the the rest of my work outside.

One place I usually hang out to finish my work is at The Coffee Experience here in our local mall. I could go to Starbucks but the WiFi speed there is abysmal, which is a no-no for my work. I have a quota and the quantity of my work depends on how fast I can access the internet. The free WiFi here is fast enough. I could also go to an internet cafe like Got Hub that offers a wired connection for laptops and save a few pesos, but I've noticed the speed has recently dropped. And besides, the couch at the coffee shop is much more comfortable.