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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Exports funding for companies

Pikom recently organized a Budget 2006 Forum talk.

It all seems like just a networking session, but actually the event was organized with a good intention.

See, not long ago, the government of Malaysia announced the budget for 2006. Where RM 868 milllion was allocated for the ministry of science and technology. But the announcement wasn't a blueprint like the Korea IT-839 where details of allocations are being stated clearly. Thus, ICT enterpreneurs are left to guess for surprises.

To force "donation", Pikom actually suggested that they will proceed with a proposal for the creation of a specialmarketing fund, about RM100 million, to be jointly managed by MultimediaDevelopment Corporation and Pikom to spearhead the promotion of ICTproducts and services abroad.

This proposal, in my opinion is good because it will force legistrators to decide what to do with the RM 868 million and by making it public, legistrators have no choice but to at least consider such proposal.

Besides Pikom's proposal, there is also another grant for export purposes which is not restricted to ICT companies. This fund is known as Matrade's Brand Promotion Grant (BPG) under the administration of Ministry of Trade and Finance.

Coming up next is probably the excitement about MyICMS-886 strategy (by MCMC), blueprint to drive the ICT industry to the next level with focus on infrastructures and telecommunications technologies.

It includes the introduction of the eight (8) new services catalyses and promotes the development of eight (8) essential infrastructures - both hard and soft. These new services and infrastructures will aimed at generating growth in six (6) areas that have been identified as key for the consumers and businesses in Malaysia.

With this strategy, expected to be announced by December, companies (especially those struggling to survive), may want to decide (based on the strategy) the directions for the coming years because what going to be stated in the strategy is going to gain attentions not just from the government but also from the end-user (due to media influences). This would eventually creates a bi-direction synergy where the both ends are ready to make impact together. The ends are referring to supply and demand.

To elaborate this further, if the strategy thinks that everybody should own at least a blog, then blogging will move up staircase to the next level in this country because those not paying attention to blogging will start to do so eventually.

Why java based microprocessor?

Java based microprocessors are now starting to hit the market to address this need. By embedding the Java virtual machine into the hardware, significant performance improvements are achieved, without paying significant penalties in space or performance. In other words, Java based microprocessor is different from other generic one because it has the JVM (software) specification designed to its hardware, making it hardware-JVM.

The following are listing of Java-Centric microprocessor.

Javalon Embedded Processor
Zucoto Xpreso
ARM Jazelle
inSilicon JVX Accelerator
Nazomi Multimedia Processor

The objective of this white paper is to investigate the reason behind the invention of Java based microprocessor that:

Why wouldn’t it be easier if a generic microprocessor is used instead where JVM (software) can be installed to hardware platforms?

For full contents of the paper, please download it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Product Key Failed Validation

Microsoft's initiative to prevent unlicensed installation from benefiting the Windows Update is effective now.

The message reads :

The product key found on your computer is from a Volume License Key (VLK), which has been blocked. A VLK is typically licensed to organizations who want to use multiple copies of Windows. However, if a VLK is reported as stolen or leaked, it is then blocked from passing through validation.

  • If you received a computer with a VLK, and you do not have a Volume License Agreement with Microsoft, then you may be a victim of software piracy. If this has happened to you, please see below for the steps you can take.

  • If you do have a Volume License Agreement with Microsoft, you believe you are using the appropriate VLK assigned to your organization, and your VLK has not been reported as stolen or lost, please contact your system administrator, Large Account Reseller (LAR), or Enterprise Software Advisor (ESA) to report the problem.
Of course, many Malaysian's PC are running pirated operating system. This is partly due to the pasar malam (night market) culture where people always look for the cheapest thing around whenever doing shopping. In fact, many of them have taken things for granted especially for those who can really afford legitimate software.

Pasar Malam

Pirated Software:

Pirated software was originally meant for people who are struggling financially for a temporarily basis, such as students, unemployed people and lower-income group whom, for the sake of survival, have to opt for "clever ways" to bypass the burden of living up to the social needs.

However, pirated software business proliferated when even rich people who can afford luxury car actually chose pirated software instead of the more-expensive legitimate copy. This scenario is very pre-dominant even in Singapore and China.

Microsoft hasn't step up its toe on china yet because the timing is still not ready. Currently, they are targeting countries like Malaysia and Singapore where collaborative effort were formalized with the government authority.

Lousy PC Packaging:
When you purchase a PC with pre-installed Windows O.S from Dell, Mimos or Compaq, usually would include with you a set rescue CDs which contain Disk Image of your default PC installation.

The purpose of the rescue CDs is for someone to restore the PC to the orginal installation as provided by the supplier. For instance, when your PC is totally unbootable, these are the CD to be used.

Most of the time, for non-technical people, during such encounter, a technician would be engaged for the reformating of the PC. In most cases, technicians are expected to take advantage of the rescue CDs because that would save hell lot of time. However, sometimes technicians might not want to utilize that for reason that they would like to provide value-add service to the client.

In my cases, I would usually reformat the PC from scatch using O.S installation disk. And before I do that, I would usually create extra partition for the PCs. The extra partitions are to be used for data backup and most important of all, storing the clone image of the installation using Symantec Ghost or Disk Image (unless the image is stored to another location in a network)

Nevertheless, this process usually took a few hours(including Windows Update) and we only charge our customer RM 80 per PC.

They(Dell, Compaq and etc) should have prepared a disk image which is multi-partition.

Thefore, when technicians chose not to use the rescue CDs, piracy issues arises because technicians might not have a legitimate copy for the O.S

Sometimes, customers might not have a legitimate copy even.. and thus to get the job done quickly, technicians would simply resort to pirated copy of the O.S

Another reason for popularity of software piracy is that..

Linux is not the solution:

Linux will never going to be the white-knight for software piracy for the reason that Microsoft's platform has been the monopoly in the corporate market.

For obvious reason, Microsoft has figured out many strategies to prevent Linux platform to be able to sit within a Microsoft platform seamlessly. To argue this point, let's take two scenario.

1. Peripheral's driver

There are certain peripheral like Lexmark X83 - scanner which Linux don't support. Thus, if you are thinking of switching to Linux platform, you might need to change certain peripherals which might still be working fine.

2. Microsoft's Active Directory
Having a Windows LAN in the office would most of the time, the system administrator would set-up Active Directory (A.D) to maintain the user-profiles for the computer network.

Active Directory is in fact a superset of LDAP (open standard for network profile).

Microsoft specifically altered Active Directory in such a way that it is very difficult for non-A.D systems such as open-LDAP to communicate with A.D itself.

Reason ? Simply because they knew that some organizations besides using Windows platform, might opt for switching to Linux platform in incremental manner. Not many companies can afford total changeover because the cost and risk are high. Thus, if one is having an IBM Netfinity Server which runs Windows 2000 and hosting the Active Directory and would like to introduce to the current network another Linux system server for trial as experimental server for the switch over. To do that, the Linux server must also host an image of the A.D from the Windows server.

By virtue, the purpose of LDAP is to allow for easy communications between two directories. But because A.D is a product of Microsoft, to configure LDAP at the Linux server which would talk to the A.D at the Windows server is not an easy task.

3. Linux-Windows Communication
If one has a Windows Laptop and plugged into a Linux platform, to access the network printer and file server is really quite a bad experience; very slow. For most cases, one might doubt that the process could have been hung, but actually it is due to the low-responsiveness binding process at the backend.

Therefore, if you are thinking of creating a hybrid LAN for your clients who don't appreciate computing, please think twice because everytime they access the printer, they think that you are doing a lousy job.

Linux is not meant for crazy people like me and my colleague who still preferred not to purchase legitimate Windows XP license for personal usage.

Crack ?
Not long before this, someone by the name of Ryan Hemelaar did mentioned in his tech blog that there is a bypass to this problem.

Perhaps you can check it out too.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

WA Online - Malaysia Internet Chinese Radio Live

The vision = 不断创新,携手同行 (Hand in Hand, we strive Borderless Innovation)

Shut-Down by Government:
WA! FM (a radio station) was apparently shut down by the government .. what could be the reason other than politics ?

I haven't been paying much attention to it actually. Perhaps let's check it out from political bloggers

Jeff Ooi (Screen Shots) = Didn't blog about it.
MageP's Lab = Didn't state the reason.
Brand Malaysia = Didn't blog about it.

Oh... then I thought about it... haha.. i know the reason lar. Probably Jeff Ooi and Brand Malaysia (Mack Zulkifi) don't speak and listen to mandarin lar..

oh..okay okay, let's check politic heavy weight Lim Kit Siang's Blog..

Also didn't state the reason...

Aiya.. I give up now. Waiting for comment. But let's take it that the DeeJay could have said something and then you know..

Restart like Microsoft Windows:
Shut down by the government, a few brave people restarted the program like one does with Windows Operating System.

Instead of broadcasting the programme over the air, now it is over the wire. WA Online.

Well of course, you need to have the Internet to listen to the programme now.

WA Online was actually introduced to me by my friend; Mr. Joe Kan (Netpreneur) and owner of Global Infornet (who provide hosting for WA Online).

Of course, he showed me the URL over MSN and I clicked on it.

The first thing that caught my attention (as a technical person) wasn't the flash interface, it was the audio streaming capability.

If you notice, the online radio which provides live audio (means that some dee jay actually talks real time at some undisclosed location) was launched with a small window.

The first thing that caught my mind was "Javascript" keh ? not only the make the window small but also they try to keep people like me from retrieving the HTML source.

Then, my second thought was that "how can Javascript provides such streaming capability?", okay, so it must be some sort of client-server thingy lar. Could it be VOIP client server system, where the small window is actually an Java Applet. This is possible you know, since the audio is only single direction.

The actual answer is in fact, well of course it is client server, and more accurately, they are using Microsoft Windows Media Player. You will get the hint by looking at the "Technical Help" page. This means that if you are using a PC or Laptop using Linux (without Windows Media Player), you probably can't listen to the radio.

Okay, great, still never in my I.T life i have done anything like that.

Then, another sifu actually crack my mystery... The codes for the online radio is actually..

<object ID="mediaplayer" CLASSID="clsid:6BF52A52-394A-11D3-B153-00C04F79FAA6" width="0" height="0"><param name="uiMode" value="invisible"></param><param NAME="URL" VALUE="mms://"></param></object>

Notice that the live programme is being streamed now ?

I don't know how he did it, probably using linux to view the codes inside the small window.

But hey guys, using this method, listeners can't actually record their favourite songs illegally right. Oh right then, perhaps I should try to crack it later. Now not free ler.

The Ultimate Freedom:
Anyhow, WA Online is one good example where it demonstrates that:

1. Internet still has the ultimate freedom. (Which is good thing)
2. Internet shouldn't be censored because good information might risk being censored away too. How can we justify that ?
3. If there is no one support you in this world, your last option is the Internet. For instance, if you created something and no investors like to help you, you can setup a web site and try to sell it there. It might work ya.
4. The Internet model is quite affordable.

WA Online - What is Next:
So, they are probably supported by gung-ho dee-jay working on volunteer basis.. The web site is selling T-Shirts and CDs, looking for donations and advertisement.

But I am just wondering is the lukewarm responses attributed to political issues ? (We will wait for the politic bloggers to comment on this..)

3G's Driver:
WA Online could just become the first killer application for our country's 3G initiatives by Maxis and Celcom.

Think about it, it can be the anchor for many other applications. The web site can be a portal for 3G since I would be glad to login into a site which provides some nice music to set my mood before continue with checking my emails and etc.

Thus, they should also try to figure out a WAP interface for it.

More Interactive:
The web site is not really that high-tech yet, perhaps they are working on it.

They are receiving inputs and interactions via email and messages. Perhaps, some companies who are interested to sponsor some high-tech client server technology can step in and offer them bidirectional web based audion communcation systems on a profit sharing model. Anyone ?

Let's focus on innovations!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bird Flu Economy

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated that the reign bird flu could potentially become an outbreak and creates the following problems:

1. Three ("3") million Asians may die.
2. $283 billion in damage to Asian economies.
3. Global recession.

Aiks.. this is kind of scary to learn about.

Referring to the original article, the following are damages in money sense for Asia.

1. Demand shock of around $99 billion in 2006 GDP where "psychological impact on demand in Asia only for six months followed by 18 months of milder contraction"
2. Reduction in consumers and investors activities amounting to $283 billion where "12 months of damage to global demand followed by 12 months of smaller shocks"

Thus, we take it that Asian economy would suffer a contraction of $99 + $ 283 billion by 2006 with effects lasting up to another 18 months. and based on the "zero sum" theory, does this means that the world has excessive cash of $99 + $ 283 billion ? Not sure about this, because people would be losing jobs and eventually cash would not be accumulated at the hands of consumers. So who would be having the money then? is it banks and other monetory organizations such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development and etc.

However, with effects lasting up to 18 months, what opportunities could be there for us to manifest ?

1. Online sales of book. Especially those related to health,psychology and religion.
2. Online Insurance
3. Online entertaintment.
4. Online tourism (not so much actually)
5. Online yoga.
6. Online medicine (air purifier, health supplement and mask)
7. Online whatever..

Courier, telecommunication and internet service provider would be experiencing surplus in terms of business for these 18 months.

If the bird flu is going to put a big halt to tourism, the probably it will do good to the petroluem prices too. Demand for fuel would be cut down to a certain extend when business travelling, tourism and freight services are caught at red light.

Friday, November 04, 2005

On Media and Learning

When learners need instant feedback, only a computer can implement the requisite instructional method.

This topic is copied from an article from Educational Technology (March-April 2005) by Kenneth J. Luterbach.

It is simply amazing to see how USA researcher took so much trouble to come to conclusion of such simple notion.

Of course, everybody would say "yes", only a computer can implement the requisite instructional method. But how sure are you ? is there any other alternatives?

To make things complicated, the article states that:

"To a considerable extend, I support Clark’s view that media do not influence learning. However, I contend that in certain circumstances, the computer accounts for learning because it is the only medium that can provide virtually authentic practice, which learners need in order to achieve the instructional goal."

So computer is the media. While at the same time, it accomodates for instructional methodology.
The article then uses Flight-simulator for airplane pilot as a best practice for using computer to achieve learning advantages.

Then it follows with more supporting facts:
1. Petkovich and Tennyson (1985) claimed that adaptive algorithms for teaching concepts could not be implemented by teachers.
2. I agree that pass research supports the view that instructional methods account for learning, not their delivery media.
3. However, when seeking to acquire motor skills, the timing of feedback to learners may be crucial.
4. First, our personal learning experiences and the well known events of instruction (Gagne, Briggs, & Wage, 1988) inform us that learners must practice. We also know from personal experience that practice is worthwhile when it is authentic.
5. In the training through flight simulation scenario, I see a unique instructional environment that inextricably binds the practice element of instructional methods to computers.
6. I contend that when instruction demands accurate modeling of dynamic activity in real-time and instant feedback to learner input, the computer is the only instructional medium of any practical use.
7. Given enough practice, the learner can identify performance errors after personal reflection and then make necessary corrections, which ultimately leads to mastery.
8. The idea of a tutor or multiple tutors trying to calculate, or even approximate, the effects of learner inputs and then making adjustments to simulate actual airplane movement really does not seem tenable.
9. Hence, while electronics are helpful, without computation, it is not apparent how actual flight can be depicted realistically.
10. As a result they may have focused exclusively on improving their computer-based simulators, rather than seeking an equally effective alternative.
11. , I maintain that flight training with a human tutor and media other than a computer would not adequately prepare someone to receive a license or accreditation to fly an airplane.
12. Such practice is necessary to master the instructional goal, which in this case demands an increase in the knowledge, skill level, and confidence of the practitioner to the point of actual engagement.
13. In the future, I expect general agreement that media such as computers are more efficient deliverers of certain instructional methods that teachers or textbooks.

Evaluations & Applications:

  • Malaysia is facing shortage in human resources for the teaching profession, while IT graduates experience job uncertainty and even jobless. Didn’t someone see an opportunity here?

  • Educational or simulation software is not widely implemented because they require domain expertise, adaptive and as well as fast implementation.

  • Can there be simulators for all subjects being taught at schools?

  • Scholarships should be given to qualified software programmers to pursue further education in other genre in order to create domain-expertise software to benefits the educational industry as a whole. In retrospect, people who are masters in certain fields can also be taught about software programming in order to achieve similar vision, however software programmers in general have higher learning capabilities and thus this would maximize the investment benefit.

  • Special grants must be allocated for volunteering individuals and organizations that have the vision to redefine education by investing resources into creation of educational-enhancing software technology. The government must take initiative to create such incentive.

  • Someone must be willing to provide continuous maintenance and upgrade of specific educational-driven software in order to maintain its user base. For this to happen, either case is possible; software programmers took interest in a particular subject or vice versa.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What is SAP?

I used to think that SAP stands for System Application Platform.

But, according to Damien Poh, sales manager of Genovate.

  • The name SAP is acronym for Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing. SAP is an extremely complicated system where no one individual can understand all of it.
  • SAP runs on a fourth generation programming language language called Advance Business Application Programming (ABAP). It have many of the features of other modern programming languages such as the familiar C, Visual Basic, and Power Builder. Your programs name conventions begins with a letter yxxx or zxxx.
  • SAP graphical user interfaces (SAPGUI) runs on Windows / NT / Unix / AS400. When you are using 3.x you can used the SAPGUI 4.x, there are no conflicts as the SAPGUI is basically a front end tools.
  • If you create dialog screen, remembers to tick Development Tools (utility programs for the Screen Painter) when you are installing SAPGUI 4.x.
  • In SAPGUI 4.x, you can configure whether to use the present 3.x screen design or the New 4.x Visual design (which is very graphical and computer resource hungry).
    Disable the login image to reduce the memory usage. In transaction SM30, table SSM_CUST, create a new entries with Name HIDE_START_IMAGE and Value to be set YES.
  • SAP have move towards the Windows Explorer Screen Format (all the Menu on the left of your screen).
  • SAP is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software product capable of integrating multiple business applications, with each application representing a specific business area. These applications update and process transactions in real time mode. It has the ability to be configured to meets the needs of the business.
  • SAP are categorized into 3 core functional areas:
    • Logistics

      • Sales and Distribution (SD)

      • Material Management (MM)

      • Warehouse Management (WM)

      • Production Planning (PP)

      • General Logistics (LO)

      • Quality Management (QM)

    • Financial

      • Financial Accounting (FI)

      • Controlling (CO)

      • Enterprise Controlling (EC)

      • Investment Management (IM)

      • Treasury (TR)

    • Human Resources

      • Personnel Administration (PA)

      • Personnel Development (PD)