Monthly archives of “October 2012

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Auditor-General report 2011 : When can Malaysians expect Transparency in IT spend

How much does Putrajaya Spend on IT?As a tech blog in Malaysia, I thought it’d be interesting to see the latest Auditor-General’s report faired in terms of IT spend from the government. IT spend is a tricky thing, and most don’t understand just how tricky it is, particularly around big IT spend by governments–they often fail. In fact, one of my favorite blogs is dedicated solely to IT failures, aptly titled–IT Project failures.

However, even the Synopsis report of the AG report is a harrowing 87 pages long. It’s not just the length that puts of me off, but rather the sheer dry-ness of the language that is used. Interestingly, not a single diagram exist in the documentation filled with enough monotone text to put even the most ardent auditor to sleep, and I’m no auditor so I nearly dozed off after the 2nd page. I had to take a different approach if I was to get a synopsis of the synopsis, fortunately I work in IT (not auditing or law), and I know of function in Adobe Acrobat that let’s you quickly search a document–it’s called the FIND function, and I was a deadly ninja in the art of the FIND.

So, armed with the FIND function on Adobe Reader, I combed through the document looking for the word ‘system’ and where it tied with an actual IT system too see just how well our government was in delivering IT systems in 2011. Below are just a few paragraphs pertaining to the AG’s report and below are 2 prime examples of the the magnitude of IT failures from Putrajaya.

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Sumptuous Erotica and Barisan Nasional

Alvin and Vivian interview on youtube
In case you’ve been under a rock for the past week let me fill you on some details:

Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee–both Malaysians started a little porn blog called Sumptuous Erotica attracted headlines both in Malaysia and across the causeway. However, unlike other couples who’ve been caught with their pants down before, both Alvin and Vivian seem indifferent to the controversy surrounding them, more importantly they seem quite confident that they’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for to anyone.

On the face of it–they’re right. Whatever you think Alvin or Vivians parents have against their children posting pictures of themselves naked online…that’s a matter for them to settle, not for you to be a busy body about.

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Software piracy in China : Can the Yankees really complain?

Did you know the term ‘Yankee’ is thought to be derived from the Dutch name Janke, which means “little Jan” or “little John,” a nickname that can be traced back to the 1680s, when it was used as a slang term for pirates. Yes, you heard that right, the Americans were regarded by the Europeans as Pirates. At least that’s what Matt Mason, author of The Pirates Dilemma suggest.

Matt isn’t just an author of a book, but also the Executive Marketing Director of BitTorrent, so when he says something–I listen. Things like:
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But the term really gained steam during the Industrial Revolution. Europeans began using the term to refer to all North Americans as a result of America’s national policies towards European intellectual property. America only industrialized as rapidly as it did by counterfeiting European inventions, ignoring global patents and stealing intellectual property wholesale. Lax enforcement of the intellectual property laws was the primary engine of the American economic miracle writes Doron S. Ben-Atar in Trade Secrets. The United States employed pirated know-how to industrialize. Europeans saw America as a nation of bootleggers, which was a little unfair, as every major European country was also heavily engaged in piracy and industrial espionage at some point in the 18th century. Piracy was, in fairness, the only way the U.S. could keep up.

Of course, fast forward a couple hundred years, and now you see US companies accusing other countries, particularly China and other Asian nations of doing the exact same thing the US did to try to bridge the economical and technological gap it had with Europe. One would argue that part of the China miracle, is their lax enforcement and ignorance (or arrogance) of patent laws, but in all fairness within this space of of gross patent apathy, there exist large pockets of innovation that would otherwise be impossible if intellectual property laws were strictly enforced and followed.

Consider a very specific example of the ‘drop down’ menu in the iOS. When I bought the iPhone4 for my wife 2 years ago, the only way you could get the ‘fancy’ drop down menu that enable/disabled 3G and Wi-Fi was by jail-breaking your iPhone. Now it comes standard with iOS from Apple, so you could in theory argue that the worlds best design company got their que from the pirate market–but you never hear apple admitting to this.

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Cyberbullying in Malaysia

Tributes are pouring in for Amanda Todd, a teenager who committed suicide after posting the video above describing how she was tormented by bullies and struggling with depression. Amanda’s story was told little by little via post-it notes and it full detail about the extent of the bullying and torment and just how this poor 15-year old girl had experienced her version of hell on earth.

The story isn’t a typical one, but one that exist in a nuance variety even in Malaysia. Amanda was tricked into exposing herself in front of a webcam by an unknown person. Soon she was blackmailed and finally, photos or her were circulated to her entire school. What followed next was every bit as predictable as it is sad, she was ostracized by her friends and tormented by bullies, she even tells of how she switch schools–multiple times–even moving to a school in a different city!!

Yet, the bullies and torments followed here (aided and enabled by social networks), and Amanda must have reached her limit and at some point she eventually chose to take her own life.

Youtube has taken down the videos, but I felt Amanda’s story should be left for the world to see, as a stark reminder to all of us to look after our children, and I just hope you get to watch the embedded video before even this gets removed. I believe out of respect for Amanda–we should listen to the story she so desperately wanted to tell.

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SEO Tips for Malaysian Bloggers

A lot of my search traffic comes from Google, in July I had slightly more than 8,000 visits to my site with just over 6,000 of those coming just from Google. So it made a lot of sense for me to look into some Search Engine Optimization to help boost those numbers. In September, I had more than 10,000 visits with more 8,o00 from Google, which of course begs the question who are the lovely people giving me 2,000 hits/month without going through Google.?

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization or more commonly know by it’s acronym SEO, is the process of optimizing your site so that search engines like Google know exactly what is on your site, what topics you’re writing about and what keywords are present in a page. This allows the search engine to display your site as a result for people searching for topics and keywords most related to your articles.

In Laymans terms it’s making your site understandable for Google to analyze.

Google doesn’t employ thousands of workers to categorize every site on the internet, Google automatically ‘tries’ to figure out what your site is about through a mixture of sophisticated algorithms and feedback from search results. SEO is about trying to help Google figure this out by adjusting certain elements of your site to fit what Googles algorithms are looking for, of course SEO isn’t just about Google, but the general concept is the same.

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Why Apple is really suing Samsung

I’m not the biggest fan of Apple, I consistently compare my Galaxy S3 (which is great) to my wifes Iphone 4 (which is not so great). So when I first heard the news that Apple was suing Samsung for a ridiculous amount of money because of things like ‘slide to unlock’, ‘pinch to zoom’  and even ‘bouncing effect while scrolling’, I thought it was just a signal that Apple was afraid of someone stealing it’s dominance in the Smartphone market.

However, out of sheer coincidence I came across the 2007 keynote address for the iPhone by Steve Jobs. This was the original keynote for the original iPhone (5 years before the iPhone 5), and I was astounded. It was like attending a history lesson for one of the most defining moments in technology. One of the great things about the keynote though, is it ‘enlightened’ me on the lawsuit, and allowed me to see the lawsuit through Apples–or more specifically Steve Jobs–eyes, and it’s only through his eyes did I understand why Apple was suing Samsung, I still don’t agree with it, but I can definitely see why Apple is going through great lengths to make life miserable for Samsung and Google.