Monthly archives of “May 2012

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REALLY cheap Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage seems to the in thing these days. With the launch of Google Drive, my previous post on how to create a site to share large files seem a bit irrelevant, and with the even hotter news that Google and Microsoft may launch their own IaaS initiatives to compete with Amazon it looks a foregone conclusion that cloud storage will become ridiculously cheap in the years to come. So cheap in fact, it may make the large Hard Disk in your home seem as irrelevant as my post.

Now, although Cloud Storage is cheap and can only get cheaper, I am — by all accounts– the cheapest cheap skate I know, and I’m always ready to try a new deal even when the new deal is just $0.03 less than the old deal.

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Crowdsourcing Taxi Reviews

One of the stark differences between Malaysia and Singapore (besides the remarkably better food in Malaysia) are the Taxi Drivers. I used to frequently go to Singapore for business trips and for just about everywhere I went, I chose the taxi, either a friend would help book a comfort cab via their iPhone app, or I’d just call the hotline to book one. I’ve never once been turned down by a Taxi Driver, and I’ve never once had a driver negotiate the price with me. There it was all meters, it was all on the up and up.

In Malaysia however, the situation couldn’t be anymore different, and so its good to see someone (other than the government or Taxi company) trying to help solve the problem by using a smartphone application to crowdsource taxi reviews. On the face of it, the idea is brilliant, have people write reviews of taxis and then collate that data online. It makes it so that ‘bad’ taxi drivers get penalized and ‘good’ taxi drivers are rewarded.

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Scary Scary Privacy Concerns Online

Would you get freaked out if I told that from just 1 hour of internet browsing, your information could be shared with nearly 70 organizations, including advertisers who use it to target ads to you. Would you be angered if this information were sold to other 3rd parties including insurance providers and even governments to build profiles of you on their systems. Would you be annoyed that the internet which promised to be a bastion of democracy and anonymity, isn’t all it was cracked up to be? Well read on…

Recently I posted something about how Advertisers track your data via the pages you visited, and how the advertisers successfully build profiles of you based on information readily available online in addition to your browsing habits. What they then have is a treasure trove of information many of us consider private, these include your birthdate (and by extension your age)   your preferences, your affliations (both religious and professional) your likes and dislikes, your family members…etc etc. If you’re a person who likes privacy, you might want to unplug your laptop–right now!

Remember the story of the supermarket who knew a teenage girl was pregnant before her dad did, that’s nothing compared to the amount of data these networks have on your own children. If your children go online regularly, somebody has a pretty good profile on them. And if you would get freaked out if somebody followed your child everyday with a camera and notebook , you should worry about the amount of personal (and very private) information some companies are keeping on you — and your loved ones.

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Malaysians Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

To visit the Malaysians against TPP Facebook Page, please click here

P. Ramlee was arguably the most influential Malaysian Artist to ever lived. His musical talents and acting ability set him head and shoulders apart from most of his contemporaries, or any other Malaysian Artist from whatever generation. So it was unfortunate, that he left in his prime, breathing his last breath on May 29th 1973, at the young age of 44.

His early death however, meant that the clock started ticking early for his works to become public domain. Most people don’t know this, but copyrights–unlike diamonds–aren’t forever. In Malaysia, the copyright act states that a copyright would expire 50 years after the death of the author/composer, after which the works would forever be in the public domain. This would mean all of P. Ramlees works would be made public domain in the year 2024, fifty years after his death. Works in public domain are not subjected to copyright and thus can we used in any way shape or form without any royalty being paid to the copyright owner–since the copyright no longer exist.

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Facebook goes public : How it compares to Malaysian companies

The big FB goes public today, making a lot of people very happy and few people very very rich, including one Eduardo Saverin — who will probably be barred from ever entering the US –EVER AGAIN!

However, that’s a story for another day, today Facebook is the hottest bit of tech news you can get your hands on, the last time an IPO this exciting occurred it was for a search engine named Google. Google IPO-ed at around $80, today it shares hover between $550 – $650. Just saying.

So it’s really awe inspiring to look at the numbers, 845 million active users (just slightly smaller than India) 2.7 Billion likes/comments everday, 250 million photos every single day and 100 Billion friendship. You my dear readers could own a small –make that VERY small- part of the company for the $38 share price tag people are talking about.

So how does the $38 price tag for Facebook Shares compare to Malaysian companies?A quick calculation puts Facebooks market cap at USD100 Billion, or roughly RM300 Billion. Malaysia doesn’t have a RM300 Billion dollar company  (or at least one that is public listed), so in order to give you an idea of the magnitude of Facebook, I had to combine a few Malaysian companies to reach Rm300 Billion. With the Rm300 Billion Facebook is worth, you could buy outright:

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MacinCloud: Develop iPad / iPhone apps on Windows

So you want to develop an iOS application for your iPhone or iPad.

Thinking of being the next big app to hit the appstore.

Only one problem, developing applications for the iPhone and iPad require a Mac or more specifically a machine running Mac OS X. It could be you actually own a Mac, you could go and buy yourself an RM1800 Mac Mini, or you could try a hackintosh, although just creating a hackintosh would be a small project in itself.

Now Hackintosh is actually way beyond the scope of this article, so rest assured I’m not asking you to do anything ridiculously technical or suspiciously illegal. (although those are my favorite type of things to do)

If you’re reading this though, chances are you have a windows PC at home, or even Ubuntu, that’s quite standard and sufficient if you wish to develop Android apps, and they rake in money too.

iOS apps however, are a different beast all together and require a Mac OS X device, which is pretty easy to purchase in Malaysia, but they don’t come cheap. You may want to think hard before plunking down an extra 2-3 thousand ringgit just to ‘try’ your hand at app development. Just like you wouldn’t want to buy 3 year subscription to your neighborhood gym only to go 5 times in the first month — and then never again!

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement : What is it?

You may remember a previous post about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that the Malaysian Government (our Government) is looking to sign under the pretense of protecting intellectual property to  “encourage investments, innovation, research and development.” Read up this article from the star to learn more.

Like any other law regarding copyright, this one is complicated and hard to understand (at least for me). However, Techdirt recently had two brilliant articles regarding the TPP with regards to Chile. The first article outlines the fact that Chile (another tentative partner in the agreement) was questioning the benefits of joining the TPP, citing the high cost of complying to Intellectual Property obligations:

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Is it legal to buy ebooks from Amazon?

In my previous post, I wrote about how I bought and Amazon Kindle, and how I can use gift cards to purchase ebooks from the Kindle store. So far the Kindle has been an amazing experience and I personally recommend you get yourself one. However, there is a downside, since there is ‘technically’ no legal way to obtain ebooks for your Kindle device.

Today I hope to explore the legality of downloading ebooks from Amazon, and how stupid copyright laws, badly behaving book publishers and a Malaysian Sales Tax  all contribute to making it impossible for you to purchase ebooks for your Kindle while still complying with any and all laws pertaining to them.

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The UK crowdsourced Auditing for MPs : Malaysia Boleh?

One thing is true of all governments, the most reliable records are Tax records. That is one of the coolest quotes from a very cool movie (which is saying a lot). In V for Vendetta, the heroes try to piece together a puzzle by visiting the tax records to locate some missing information, in real-life we’re also faced with the same problem. No matter how corrupt or bureaucratic you think the government is, there will always be a paper-trail for money and sooner or later someone will find it. The solution for a crony-heavy government was simple, load the system with bureaucracy so no one will find out. The problem was while no ‘one’ may have found out, a group of inspired citizens armed with nothing more than a proper system can troll down all the bureaucratic walls you can build.

A couple of years ago, the Guardian newspaper set out to go through all the tax and expense claims of every single member of parliament. While the fallout from the reports were clear, less publicity was given to the actual method that the newspaper used. People naturally assumed that when the news read “Guardian reports MP claims….” , that a regular journalist working for the paper trolled through some documentation and arrived at the results. Usually the assumption includes a snarly eyed journalist with big black thick-framed glasses, gulping down gallons of coffee while his tie came loose, just an assumption of course.