Monthly archives of “July 2012

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Personal Data Protection Act 2010 Malaysia

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Data is the natural by-product of every computer mediated interaction.  It stays around forever, unless it’s disposed of.  It is valuable when reused, but it must be done carefully.  Otherwise, its after-effects are toxic. – Bruce Scheneier

As society moves towards a ‘knowledge’ based society, data naturally becomes a by product. Every action you perform leaves a tiny digital trail like breadcrumbs in the forest, and just like though breadcrumbs each individual data point is insignificant, but piece them together–and you’ve found you way home.

What we use to buy we cash, we now buy with credit cards — with every swipe, digital data is created and stored, it records the amount of the transaction, where the transaction took place, and the banks bill the customer, which means it can tie it to an address a person, their age, their income and even their preferences.

Photos were physical things we could only share in person,but now we share them digitally on social networks–all those photos are stored–permanently, and they’re tagged with meta data regarding the photos location and the names of people in the photo. A lot more data, and a lot more public. Even if you randomly stumbled across a photo on Facebook, chances are you could easily find out who the people in the photos were, and where the photo was taken–that wasn’t the case before digital photography.

When we use to pay toll booths in cash, we now use touch N’ Go, so there is a full blown record of where we travelled and at what time. Coupled with the CCTV footage they can even identify which vehicle you used. Tie that with your credit card and we can determine where you fueled before you got on the highway, coupled with CCTV footage from the Fuel station we know how many people were in the vehicle. Look at the JPN records and we’ve got the car owners name, and contact information, a quick search on Google reveals his profession on LinkedIn, his favorite places from tripadvisor, his friends on facebook, and if we pay close enough attention to his tweets chances are we can find out which football team he supports or which political party he’s aligned to.

What used to be something you’d only reserve for your close friends at the kopitiam now is public knowledge, provided some one takes the trouble to Google your name.

And the list literally goes on and on, and all these add the amount of our personal data stored digitally online–data that can be used to determine who you are, where you are, what you like, what your political beliefs and religious inclinations–even your medical history and sexual orientation. I’m not kidding, there’s a story I love to link to which tells of a supermarket who knew a teenager was pregnant before her father did.

One of the biggest abusers of personal data has been advertising companies and mail-order folks, the people that spam you day in and day out with emails about viagra and cheap housing loans, however as time goes on a lot of other people are getting on board, like insurance companies who want to know more about your medical history or driving records, banks who wish to determine if you’re really eligible for a loan–even a supermarkets may have a direct interest in your personal data.

It has become imperative that we as users look towards protecting our data online, but there also is an imperative for governments to regulate the way our data can be used–even by governments themselves (or ESPECIALLY by the government).

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What is wordpress?

I’m a really big fan of 3 things, Manchester United, AC/DC and Wordpress!!

WordPress is awesome, but as awesome as it is, a lot of people don’t really know what it is.

It gets even more confusing, because there’s actually two definitions of WordPress. One is WordPress the blogging platform, and another is wordpress.com –the blogging website.

WordPress is a blogging platform designed specifically to make blogging easier. It’s a tool that simplifies website creation to a point where webmasters no longer have to be programmers but just content writers. However, just like any other tool or platform, WordPress needs to be installed–usually on a server–for it to work.

WordPress.com is a service that offers functionality of the WordPress blogging platform for free. On wordpress.com you can start your own blog in seconds without worrying about finding a server to install WordPress on. However, because it’s a free service it has it’s limitations (which we’ll discuss later).

There’s a lot of confusion about WordPress (the blogging platform) and WordPress.com (the free service), and I hope those two lines above make the distinction clear.

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Is MAS updating it’s own Wikipedia page?

9M-MPL Boeing 747-400 MASContinuing my series on bigdata and Google bigquery, I’ve decided to share a rather interesting snippet of information regarding our very own Malaysian Airlines and their wikipedia page.

First, just to illustrate how important Wikipedia is in general, the Malaysian Airlines Wikipedia page gets roughly 30,000 hits per month. That’s just one page of Wikipedia getting more hits than my entire website, I can’t tell you how frustrated that makes me.

Having a negative sounding Wikipedia page is pretty bad for business, particularly if 30,000 potential customers view it every month. That’s a web page that needs some serious attention if you’re the marketing manager of Malaysian Airlines.

Unfortunately for MAS (and every business organization there is), Wikipedia has a policy about updating your own Wikipedia page–you’re not allowed to do it. Wikipedia has to keep to it’s original intention of being an online repository of information that is fair, balanced and neutral. Having marketing gurus or corporate big wigs updating their own Wikipedia entry isn’t exactly in the best intentions of anyone, however Wikipedia doesn’t strictly enforce the policy and leave it up to the crowd.

Fortunately, the crowd have responded, sites like WikiScanner allow users to see which IP addresses updated which Wikipedia articles. Some have gone to the extent of correlating those IP addresses to the owners and determining if companies are updating their own Wikipedia pages against the general guidelines. Let’s see if Malaysian Airlines can join that group of companies who’ve been slapped on the wrist for changing the Wikipedia pages of their organizations.

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Wikipedia from a Malaysian perspective

Wikipedia is quite possibly the greatest repository of information mankind has ever seen. It’s built around an amazing concept of allowing anyone the ability to create, document and moderate information in real-time, and so far the concept has proven successful–some may even argue that it’s too successful.

For the past two days, I’ve been writing about Bigquery and Big Data in general, and for the most part I’ve been using the freely available wikipedia dataset in Bigquery to perform some queries and analysis. The results were so interesting, that they warrant a post on their own–and this is that post!

For instance, I was curious who Aiman Abmajid was. For those who aren’t following the blog, Aiman is the undisputed King of Wikipedia in Malaysia. Aiman has single-handedly helped update Malaysian articles on Wikipedia a mind-blowing 13 THOUSAND times–and that’s just the English articles. Almost 6 times more than his closest Malaysian rival.

I was intrigued as to who he was and why was he updating so many Wikipedia entries (some more than 900 times per article), and more I dug the more intriguing it got.

A quick Google search, brought me his Wikipedia which led me to the following:

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Google bigquery

Google-bigquery-whatisit
There are other more popular tools for big data, but today we’ll focus on Google BigQuery for a very good reason. It’s the only one I know how to use.

Google BigQuery is a full fledge big data tool developed by google and stored on the cloud. There’s a lot more information you can glean from their presentation here. The short story is that Google created this tool online where you can analyze your bigdata for a per use fee, similar to other cloud offerings. Google currently charges $0.035 per GB of data processed or $35 per TB of data. That seems like a small fee, but it adds up pretty quickly, so for the moment bigdata and bigquery aren’t exactly end-user offerings.

I’m just going to quickly jump into a worked example of Google BigQuery before making some remarks. To use BigQuery, you’re first going to have to create an API project in Google and then go to https://bigquery.cloud.google.com

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What is big data

big-data-getting-bigger
It’s obvious that people have gotten bigger these past few decades, what’s less obvious is how data has grown bigger in the past few years. In fact, 90% of the digital data we have today, was created in the last 2 years. Put another way, in 2010 we had just 10% of the digital data we have today.

In 2011, an estimated 1.2 TRILLION Gigabytes of data was created. That’s roughly 200GB for every man women and child in the world–In just one year. That’s every person in the world watching almost 300 feature length films every day, and this is the average.

The reason is simple, we now keep digital records of our transactions (e-banking and credit cards), our running patterns, our spending habits and even our wedding photos–and that’s just commercial end user applications.

What about corporations who track thousands of data points per second for their manufacturing plants and supermarkets tracking the purchases of customers. We’re creating and gobbling far more data than before, and the trend doesn’t look to be stopping. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

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How to change your Unifi password

Now It’s quite clear from a previous post I did how about easy it was to hack a Unifi Dlink DIR-615 Wi-Fi router, that the least you should do is change your standard router password to something that’s more than the regular 8 digit Pin Unifi gives you by default.

Let’s take a look at how to change your unifi password, or how to find it in case you’ve forgotten.

Step 1: Login to your router


First you’ll need to login to your router. For this open up Internet Explorer or Firefox or Chrome to access the internet. Then instead of typing something like http://www.google.com in the address bar to visit google, type http://192.168.0.1 in the address bar to visit your routers web server. Your router actually has a webpage that allows you configure you, but this web page is only visible from within your home network so don’t worry.

You can just click the link here to take your there as well.

Once you see the page look something like the picture above, enter admin for the username. For the password, use the default password Unifi has given you, when in doubt, look at the bottom of your router (that’s the orange color device with the 2 antennas) and look for an 8 digit PIN. That’s your default password. It’s printed there in big bold letters–you can’t miss it.

Now don’t be confused, this is merely the password to access the router, not your Wi-Fi password, for now their the same password, but they could be different. That’s what we’re going to do.

If the password at the bottom of your router doesn’t work, try the following. Depending on your router firmware, one of them is bound to work:

Username: Management
Password: TestingR2

Username : operator
Password : h566UniFi

Username : operator
Password : telekom

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When Lightning strikes the Cloud: Amazon Outage

Google recently announced their Amazon EC2 killer, the Google Compute Engine or GCE. Google wasn’t messing around and went straight for the Amazon jugular releasing 4 instance types all of which appear cheaper than their Amazon counterparts. That being said the price comparison was done solely on the basis on a on-demand Amazon instance types–Amazons most expensive prices, if you compare for the Reserved instances, then prices become more competitive.

It’s exciting to finally see a Juggernaut big enough to take on Amazon in terms of price and scale. This is all around good news for everyone, especially since this report from Cisco estimates that revenues from IaaS providers are not only high right now, but will continue to grow over the next 5 years. There’s a lot of room at the IaaS space, and Google just wants to wet their beak here as well.

So it must have come as a pleasant surprise to Google when they heard ‘hurricane-like’ thunderstorms ripped across the US east coast taking down power to 3.5 million–and the Amazon East Data center as well. I was personally affected by this phenomena when my access to Netflix was abruptly halted, as you can imagine I wasn’t a happy camper.