July 2007

Blurbme Looks Delicious!!!

I am a bit bias here…but who cares…the new blurbme looks awesome.  Check it out here.  This version is beta so the link will probably change soon when it goes live on 3rd August.

By far the nicest looking social network Singapore has.  And it isn’t just about food.  It is about living life.  Just a little.

On Singapore
Tangled Web We Weave

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Why We Are Forced To Choose – Life Or Citizenship.

Aaron has a post about ‘The Economics Of Foreign Talent.  The post and the comments got me thinking about a fundamental difference between Singapore and the other highly competitive cities and locations in the world like NY, London, Silicon Valley…

Those places are just part of a bigger country.

What does this mean?  This means that if I am born and raised in New York and I do not like the pace of life there and how I am unable to have a decent life there because of all the foreign talents and whatever other excuses reasons, I can choose to go to another part of America to start my life.

I could leave my New York roots behind and still be an American.

Singaporeans do not have the luxury.

We cannot decide to check out of Singapore to make a home somewhere else and still be a Singaporean.  Of course, not every Singaporean who goes overseas gives up citizenship, but if more people find the need to leave Singapore to secure the life they desire and to find any sort of satisfaction about living, then increasingly more people will likely give up citizenship.

And even if we maintain (and not exercise) our citizenship, does that make us a Singaporean if the rest of our lives are on foreign soils.  And from people I know, it does make sense to be the citizen of another country if you’re going to spend most of your whole life there anyway.
And so that is the problem with Singapore now.  If things go the way it has been going, then Singaporeans will be forced to make a choice.

We don’t have the luxury of choosing both a Life and our Citizenship.  And if the citizenship continues to get devalued, the choice is an easy one if not obvious.

And so as National Day approaches, maybe it is time to realize that Singapore may never really become the nation we envision it to be.

Musing about Life
On Singapore

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Why Wireless@SG sucks and 3 Ways It Could Be Better.

Two notable bloggers in Singapore’s IT community James Seng and Bernard Leong have commented on the less than impressive Wireless@SG. I shall share my thoughts on this dismal performance and ways things could be improved by the service providers.

For the connectivity and poor speed issues, there are a few reasons for this. I shall mention five of them.

1. Limited Range of Wireless Access Points.

2. Cost of installing sufficient Wireless Access Points for complete coverage.

3. Insufficient bandwidth allocated to Wireless@SG by the service providers.

4. Service providers did not plan and test the systems with a high load of users.

5. The back end infrastructure isn’t set up properly.

To me, all these reasons boil down to one factor – Cost. To the service providers it would entail a significant cost to solve the above mentioned issues. To cover the cost, in the absence of subscriptions paid by the consumers, these service providers are relying on government subsidies.

Government Subsidies

Wireless@SG’s network is being established by three service providers – iCELL, QMax and Singnet. According to the Wireless@SG factsheet released by IDA, the government will be subsidizing up to 30% of the cost of deploying the network based on the $100 million that the network operators are expected to spend and the $30 million that IDA says they are prepared to spend.

The factsheet does not answer the following question with regards to the subsidy.

1. Is the $30 million an absolute sum to be spent by the IDA for Wireless@SG?

2. Is the amount based on 30% of what the network operators do eventually spend up to a limit of $30 million?

The answers to these questions are important. If the amount is an absolute sum that will be given out as long as the service operators meet minimum standards regardless of the cost incurred by them establishing the network, then it would be in the service providers interest to keep cost low such that the gap between them spending on the network and what they receive as a subsidy is as low as possible if not even gaining some profit from the subsidy itself.

If it is a percentage based on what they do eventually spend on the network, then the question whether the service operators do have ability to cover the cost of establishing the kind of network envisioned is a valid one. While Singnet’s financial ability to do so is probably there, do iCell and QMax have the ability to meet the cost demands?

Cost is only one part of the profit equation. The other part is revenue. What are the service providers doing to increase the revenue they earn from their wireless network since they cannot rely on consumer subscription? Unfortunately, not much.

Wireless@SG Login page.

Depending on the network you connect to, you will see different advertisements on the Wireless@sg login screen.

[Pics removed]

The screenshot on the top-left shows iCell advertising their wireless service. They did not specify whether it is the paid service but from the speed used in the advertisement, it can be inferred they are advertising the free service. Doesn’t make sense does it? A user is already on your login page. It means they either have a wireless@sg login or they are going to get one without you needing to sell the need to them. Since they are on your login page, a simple noticeable link to your registration page will do. The advertisement is wasting prime location. It might be that the user who is on the login page has registered with another service provider (i.e. Singnet) and the advertisement’s purpose is to try to convince the user to switch. The usefulness of the advertisement to initiate the switch is highly unlikely. If however, the user logins and experiences good network performance, the chances of that switch is more probable.

The top-right corner shows the screen-shot for QMax Wireless@SG login page. It is making better use of the space by advertising Creative’s MP3 player ZEN. The bottom-left shows Singnet promoting their Mobile Voucher’s programme but wasting significant screen estate on trying to get users to signup with their wireless service.

Earlier, I promised to share how Wireless@SG could be better beyond just the obvious investing in the network infrastructure. Here are my thoughts.

Concentrate on getting more users

Concentrating on getting more users might seem like an obvious thing to do but is something that I don’t see any service providers doing. Beyond just sticking an advertisement on the Wireless@SG login page, I do not see any of the service providers investing in user acquisition.

It might be fair to ask how getting more users on an already slow network will make Wireless@SG better.

The reason is this – eventually these free users will become paid users after the trial period of the next three years ends. If you concentrate on getting more users, your projection of the revenue that can be generated when subscriptions start getting collected will increase. This would give you more incentive and assurance to invest in the network now because you have a better assessment that the costs can be recouped. Also, the network is your best advertising message. Get more users and allow them to experience a better Wireless@SG experience than what other providers can offer and eventually you will get more paid subscribers.

So, to me, the first step is to make user acquisition a priority.

Provide more services to your users

Only Singnet seems to try to provide additional services to their users. The below screenshot is from their Mobile Vouchers service. Users have a range of mobile vouchers they can choose to download onto their phone and use.

[Pics removed]

However, if you look at the promotions displayed to me, they are not displayed according to my location. I was in Orchard Library when I took this screenshot and it is showing me a voucher for a restaurant at Ang Mo Kio and 2 at Boon Lay. I was unable to search for Mobile Vouchers by Location, only by Category.

Beyond providing wireless access, the service providers are in prime spot to provide location based services. When we log into the network, they already know our location. Allowing a user to find the latest and most relevant promotions in the immediate area would be another source of revenue for the service provider. Another source of revenue is another way to defray the cost of establishing a quality wireless network.

Another location based service that could be provided is like what PlaceSite is trying to do – establish a community around the wifi coverage area. Imagine users being able to communicate with other users accessing the network using the same hotspot. Imagine users being able to communicate with shop owners in the vicinity who are also using the network. Imagine shop owners being able to communicate with these users.

The possibilities are endless, some practical, some just looking good in theory. The key is that wireless service providers should look into these additional services to generate revenue. As of now, only Singnet seems to be doing anything about it.

[Pics removed]

The above screenshot is of the page which I was redirected to when I logged into Singnet’s network. They wanted to know more about me – the user. It didn’t matter if I logged into their network with a QMax account. Compare this to iCell’s profile page which I can only access if I log into their network with an iCell account. If now, it doesn’t matter which account I use to log into a network, why is iCell making the distinction? Why not just treat me as one of their users and find out more about me? Just like what Singnet is doing.

Improve the Landing Pages

These are the screenshots of the next page you will see when you log into Wireless@SG with the different service providers.

[Pics removed]

Top-left corner is the screen shot after you log into iCell’s Wireless@SG network. Clicking on ‘Continue’ takes you to their corporate homepage. QMax’s landing page after you login is immediately their corporate homepage. What a waste! Only Singnet makes an effort to utilize the landing page effectively ( bottom-left screenshot ).

The landing page would be a great place to show well chosen ads based on the user’s Location and Profile. Maybe it is time for the service providers to get in touch with a company like JiWire, a company specializing in location driven advertising.

Conclusion

Government subsidies is not the only way to establish a free quality wireless network. Microsoft is teaming with JiWire to provide free wifi using an advertisement-driven model. This model and other revenue streams based on location-driven services can and should be looked into if Singapore hopes to get the kind of wireless network we envision.

Government subsidies is based on managing the expectations of a government body where in Singapore’s case is IDA. My opinion is that managing those expectations is easier than that of the consumer. There are many reasons for this and here are two of them.

1. It is harder for the government to walk because they do not want to lose initial investments.

2. It is easier for the consumer to cancel a subscription than the government to cancel a subsidy.

While it is great that the government is doing what they are doing to make Singapore totally wired, unfortunately, I fear that it has created an environment where the service providers do not see the need to innovate to gain users.

The importance of users cannot be understated. More users does not mean only more subscription revenue. It also has the potential to attract more quality advertisers as well as result in higher CPM. It also makes it more cost-effective to create further revenue streams based on location-based services for the users.

These revenue can be used to create a better network which in turn attracts more users. It is a virtuous cycle!

On Singapore
Tangled Web We Weave

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The right bait to get the right fish

Aaron was triggered by this post to blog a post called “No money, no honey?” which is a topic that is very close to my heart. He ends the post by saying ‘Don’t believe in the crap of those who say that only money can get women’.

Attracting and winning over a girl to get into a relationship ( be it the fuck-buddy kind, the eat-some-tohfu-but-don’t-want-to-pay kind, the she-is-my-gf-and-I-want-to -marry kind, she is my-gf-for-company-but-not-for-anything-else kind … ) is one thing. Maintaining the relationship is another. Both these stages in the relationship with the gal places different emphasis on different stuff.

So how to get a gal into a relationship? There are two ways. The attract way. And the ‘win-her-over’ way. The attract way is more of her wanting to be in a relationship with you. The ‘win-her-over’ way is more of you wanting to convince her that you are the right guy for her.

The 3 Variables Of Attracting / Winning A Girl Over

I believe there are three main variables that come into play. The first variable is looks. The second is achievements ( having lots of money is a subset of this category ). And finally, character.

The importance of these variables differ based on the circumstances you and the gal have gotten to know each other and the kind of exposure that both of you have towards each other.

So, say you meet this damn hot girl at a night club and you want to ONS with her. Assuming that she is also the kind who ONS, the first variable of looks is damn important the first time you meet her. If you are good looking, ka-ching! Now, don’t despair if you are not good looking though. After making first contact you still have the rest of the night to close the deal. The second and third variables have yet to come into play. You still have the rest of the night to tell her you are from some Ivy League college, about your investment banking job and your Porsche. Plus if you have money, you can get her really drunk such that you start looking good to her. Either way, you can use the second variable to reduce the importance of the first. Unfortunately, in the context of scoring a girl for ONS, the third variable rarely comes into play. A girl doesn’t really care if you are a good listener if she wants to have a good f*ck.

The above example is shallow. So I shall proceed to the next one.

Say you stay in hall. And you are damn good looking. Confirm all the girls talk about you the first few days when everyone starts moving in. CONFIRM. As the semester passes, some people will distinguish themselves in hall activities. This is the second variable coming into play. The girls will also start talking about such people. Some of the above mentioned talk will develop into crushes. CONFIRM.

Also, previously talked about people cos of their looks will not be able to maintain the same level of popularity if they get embroiled in some scandal or their character starts showing cracks or they turn out to be a real loser in terms of achievements. Here is touch and go. Some people can still maintain the same level of attractiveness even without much achievements based solely on looks. This is because at different stages, women have different threshold for their expectations for each of these variables and also assign different weights. Finding out the threshold and weights for an individual girl at each stage is more of an art than science but i think statistically most gals at university phase are still forgiving about the lack of achievement versus superficial trappings like looks.

Now, not all of us are blessed with good looks because genes are just unfair. And not everyone can be high-achievers – there is the bell curve for studies and genes does play a part in sporting and music potential and whatever. So the third variable comes into play – your character.

But for the girl to be attracted to your character, she would need continued exposure to you. And when I said continued exposure to you, I do not mean you stalk her or flash at her. What I do mean is that circumstances must allow you to show her what your character is. Such circumstances could be two of you being in the same club for the whole university period and consistently working on the same projects. It could be in the same supper group at hall. It could be many things. The key of course is not to contrive a set of circumstances. Once you do that, you are trying to ‘win-her-over’.

However, not all of us are blessed with circumstances where we can allow the more natural ‘attract’ her progression to occur ( at least to me it seems more natural ). For example, both of you might have met at an IT conference. Contacts were exchanged as per procedure. And that is the end of the exposure. You go back home and realize that there is something about the girl you like and you think maybe both of you are relationship material. So the ‘win-her-over’ way comes in.

Pause.

Some people here may notice that the guy himself isn’t sure about the girl as a girl-friend. He thinks she has potential. So why is he trying to ‘win-her-over’? The reason (and as usual this is my totally subjective opinion) is when a guy starts dating in these sort of circumstances, he starts by giving the girl 100 points (i.e. the two thoughts of her wanting to be a girl-friend and thinking she has the potential to be the right one are indistinguishable in his mind) while the girl starts dating by giving the guy zero points and then starts adding to it until the point where her thought that he could be a potential boyfriend meets the ‘I want him as a boyfriend’ thought.

Unpause

In this ‘win-her-over’ way, the ability to get her on a date and to continue dating you depends on those three variables too. At the initial stages of dating, the first two variables are more important. As you date longer, the last two become more important. Actually, I would say that looks is probably important only to get the first date going. If you have been fortunate enough to show off a little bit of your personality ( or even your achievements/money) at the first exposure and it matches the kind she likes then looks might be slightly less important in determining if you get the first date. Of course all this depends on the level of superficiality of the girl.

In the end, while having only money is probably not the way to sustain a relationship with a gal or get her in the first place, I do believe that money is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Like Aaron says, you still need to work on other stuff. But money is important. And the guy who triggered Aaron’s and my post is right in a certain sense. Relationships do get into trouble because of a lack of money. But having lots of it is not the complete solution.

Remember, money is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful relationship. And it is not the shit-loads-of-money-until-I-can-use-ten-dollar-bills-to-wipe-my-ass kind of money that we are talking about. It is the meet-the-expectations-of-the-girl-you-love-and-exceed-it -without-compromising-your-relationship-with-her-while-getting-it kind.

So the key is to find a girl whose expectations are reasonable if not at least the kind you can meet. As guys, we would all love to have a dream girl-friend who looks like Megan Fox, drinks beer without going fat, plays sports, allow you to hang out with your guy friends whenever you want, allow you to devote time to computer games instead of shopping ( and many many more ). But wake-up!!! If our own expectations are so high, it is unlikely we will find a gal who is ok with us just delivering ok financial results, with a flabby tummy and moderate looks (plus average performance in many many more measurable stuff). Temper our expectations of what defines a great girl-friend and the favor will be returned.

The thing is, and here I disagree with Aaron, a guy who says only money can get women isn’t suffering from an inferiority complex. What is actually happening is he is going after the wrong thing.

Finally, getting the girl isn’t the adventure.

We guys should not live our lives like Indiana Jones slashing our way through a rain-forest, leaping over ravines and fighting Nazis to find a dream-girl in some lost city.  The girl isn’t the treasure.  Getting the girl shouldn’t be the aim of this adventure we call Life.

There are treasures of course in this adventure.  But the girl should not be one of it.  Instead, the girl should be the partner in this adventure.  The one who we save and equally who we get saved by.  Together, we are supposed to live this adventure.

Thinking about it this way, maybe then we would focus on making ourselves worthy partners instead of worrying how to get the treasure (i.e. girl).  If the girl is the treasure, then what happens when you get her?  You already got the treasure so what next?  Another adventure?  Another quest for another treasure?  Is it no wonder then some relationships do not last.

Musing about Life

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define: Reserved

I was telling my family about this incident at the Greenwood Fish Market that occurred when I was picking up my fish&chips.

———————————————————————

‘atas’ Singaporean Chinese girl with accent (pleading) : Please….. can’t you give us a table.

Waitress : I’m sorry. The tables are all reserved.

‘atas’ Singaporean Chinese girl with accent (pleading) : But the tables are all empty. Can’t you just let us have a table. We just lurveeeeeeeee the food here. We will be finished fast. I mean…there is no one at the tables now.

———————————————————————

At this point of the story, my uncle interrupted.

Uncle: The girl very stupid. If there were people at the tables, the waitress would have said occupied and not reserved.

Touche.

Overheard

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“I Can Get Any Girl!!!”

Boy A: I Can Get Any Girl Just By Snapping My Fingers!

Boy B: Then why are you single?

Boy A: The girl I like is deaf.

Overheard

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Singaporeans With A Foreign Accent

I don’t get it. I really don’t.

You live in Singapore for 18 years of your life, you go overseas for 4 years and after that, all the good work is gone. You come back and start speaking with a foreign accent. I understand that you have been living in a foreign country for the last 4 years surrounded by people who speak like that so maybe it is normal for you to be slightly affected. But if the environment plays such a part, then why, tell me why after returning to Singapore and spending the next six years of your life, you don’t lose the foreign accent and gain back the Singaporean one. How come those ang mohs or foreign talents from whatever other country doesn’t gain a Singaporean accent after living here for a long time. Sure, they pick up a bit of Singlish and our slangs but do they lose their accent from home. I haven’t met one yet. In fact, they need to make an effort to talk like us. It isn’t natural.

I’m not against speaking good proper English. But you can do that without an accent.

And why is it that it seems like the gals who come back are the ones most likely to be inflicted with this. Ok. I know I haven’t done a proper headcount, but it does seem like it. Maybe, just maybe I am a little bias so if anyone can confirm or reject this totally subjective statistical claim, please leave comments.

But maybe it is the fault of the guys. Because some of us just like to go on and on about how Elizabeth Hurley has a sexy English accent and how the signals analyst in Transformers has a sexy accent. And how Megan Fox

Random Rants

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Facebook’s People Search – Most Used? But Is The Search Done Right?

There is a discussion going on which you can follow on Techmeme about the post by Aditya Agarwal who is a Facebook employee ( more specifically a Facebook Tech Lead ) on whether Facebook really needs to write their own search engine.

Aditya Agarwal shares about how results are sorted using the concept of ‘social proximity’ where “People closer to you in the graph—your friends and people in your networks—are likely to be more relevant to you and thus are ranked higher”.

While Facebook’s search engine will probably contain more juice behind the results that are returned, I am surprised that Aditya Agarwal uses only social proximity to highlight what he considers as Facebook’s search key differentiator which is the use of an individual’s place in the social graph to return results. The potential of the social graph in people search is so much more.

Currently, if I search with Basic Search using the phrase ‘sex in the city’ the profiles returned would be those which contain the term ‘sex in the city’ where the top results would be my friends, followed by everyone else in my network.

How does Facebook choose the order to display the rest of the profiles of those in my networks? I don’t know, but it would seem that whatever they use, it doesn’t use the social graph or use it well. Somewhere on the 6th page of the results, I saw a classmate from my high school. I haven’t added him yet as a friend on facebook, but one of my friends who I have added did. Which means, someone who was a friend in real life, and a friend of a friend on facebook’s social graph was being ordered less than some other people in the Singapore network (the only network I am on) who I don’t even know and can’t fathom the connection.

Using the social graph could produce more relevant results beyond social proximity. For example, if two individuals in my network have the phrase ‘rock climbing’ in their profiles, but one of them, say individual A has 300 friends in his other networks who have ‘rock climbing’ on their profiles while individual B has maybe only 10 such friends, then individual A’s profile should be higher up in the results. Does this seem familiar? Google uses a similar concept in establishing authority and relevancy as part of their PageRank technology.

Facebook has the potential to apply the social graph to produce much better results not just based on my position in the social graph (i.e. social proximity) but also based on other people’s position in the social graph and the links that create those relationships.

Facebook might soon be a marketing person’s dream tool if they are able to search and extract data about relationships from the social graph effectively. Imagine being able to identify who are the Connectors and Maven. Imagine being able to contact them to help spread a message and see how that message spreads across the newsfeed of the members on Facebook. Imagine being able to experiment in how to make a message sticky enough so that it can spread and reach a tipping point.

But before we get to all that, maybe their basic search needs some working on. I know a friend who likes a particular Singaporean movie “Money No Enough“. I tested the Advanced Search by keying in the phrase “no enough” in the Movies field. No results. I then tried the full movie title “Money No Enough” before getting my friend as a result. If Facebook really wants to be a Google-killer in people searching, they probably need to start allowing people to search without using exact phrases.

Aditya Agarwal ends his post by sharing how Facebook has big plans to improve their search in the upcoming months. I cannot wait to see how they leverage the social graph to do that.

Tangled Web We Weave

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Live Earth

Yesterday was 7th July 2007 – 07/07/07. Apparently, this combination is special because it happens only once in a century. So special, that the organisers of Live Earth chose that day to stage the 24-hour, 7-continent concert series where the aim is to raise awareness about the climate crisis we are facing and the ways we can help to tackle the problem.

Firstly, I think the organisers of Live Earth chose an appropriate name for themselves – S.O.S (i.e. Save Our Selves). All you ‘environmentalists’ out there can stop telling me to ‘save the earth’. This is something I learned from George Carlin – the earth doesn’t need saving. We are the ones who need saving. After we have made this earth unable to sustain human life and we all die out, the earth will still be around and she will probably ‘heal’ itself and life will probably one day emerge on this planet again with species who hopefully might know how to take care of her better. If you don’t realise that the earth is fine and we are the ones who are knee-deep in our own shit, please take your self-righteous ‘you don’t care about the earth if you don’t tell the whole world how much you are doing to save it’ crap and shove it up where the sun doesn’t shine.

Ok. Now that i got that out of the way, let me say the second thing. Live Earth sounds like a nice idea. There is the gimmick of a 7 continent concert series held in New York, London, Johannesburg, Rio De Janeiro, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney and Hamburg as publicised on the Live Earth website. Wait you say? These venues only represent six continents. What about Antartica? Don’t worry. The organisers managed to get Nunatak , a band consisting of members from the Rothera Research Station in Antartica to stage a ‘concert’. What faithfulness to the gimmick of a ’24-hour, 7 continent concert series’ just to keep in line with the number 7 theme.

Unfortunately, the organisers didn’t maintain the same fidelity to the idea of reducing if not eliminating the impact we have on earth in terms of the climate crisis. Sure, this article does highlight the ways in which the organisers are trying to make the event carbon neutral and how they plan to reduce wastage. That sounds nice, but as these three articles have said, Live Earth is probably a waste of time and probably hurting the environment more – even Sir Bob Geldof who invented the concept with Live Aid says so.

The organisers are talking about the event being carbon neutral because of the use of carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting is this idea where you pay money to contribute to an action which results in an effect opposite to another activity which you have engaged in that produces carbon emissions. For example, driving a car to a live concert event produces carbon emissions which are bad for the environment. To compensate for that, you contribute money to get a tree planted. Since trees absorb carbon dioxide, you have helped mitigate the damage you have caused to the environment.

So basically, it is like saying you punch your wife, then say sorry by buying her a diamond ring. And then you punch her again. And then you buy her another ring. So, you damage the relationship, then try to fix it. Much better not to punch her at all. No damage, nothing to fix. Likewise, better not just pollute in the first place.

But what about raising awareness about the problem of global warming and climate crisis? Err.. guys… I think most people are aware about the issue. Ok… Then how about informing us on the tools and ways we can help solve the problem. Point noted. We probably need to educate the people on how we can individually contribute to the cause of fighting climate change. But using a concert to do that? Surely, there has to be a better way.

Live Aid was a great idea in its time (i.e. 1985) because such a mass event broadcasted using satellites and TV was the best tool we had then in reaching out to everyone about a cause worth fighting for. Now, we have something I would like to call the Internet. And another thing we call the mobile phone. Somehow, maybe concentrating efforts to use that medium as the main tool with a combination of other less environmentally damaging means to raise awareness might have been a better idea. Of course, the organisers themselves would not have gained the kind of exposure they are now receiving.

In the end, even what they are trying to achieve might be flawed since Al Gore himself is quoted as saying that ‘ultimately, corporations and governments must become global leaders taking decisive action to stop global warming’. Err..no? Ultimately, it is each individual who needs to take ownership of the planet and not wait for the powers that be to do something. Everything will be to no avail if in the end, the people just gather together to make some noise hoping that the powers that be will take notice and do something while individually we do nothing consistently to help save our selves from our own destructive habits.

Finally a little bit of NKF-like conflict of interest trivia: Kevin Wall founder of S.O.S is also the CEO of Control Room which produced Live Earth. Control Room makes its money by providing live digital entertainment by broadcasting performances on broadband and tv. I wonder how much Control Room is getting to do all this work for Live Earth. I wonder how much Kevin Wall earns from Control Room. I’m not saying that anything improper is happening, but it is just a thought.

So let’s learn to take care of the earth better so that we as a species can enjoy our stay here a bit better and longer, but honestly, chest thumping isn’t the only way, if the way at all.

Random Rants

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Links For 7/7/7

[Pics removed]

I remember how excited I was when I first learned about Lomography from Ser. Couldn’t wait to borrow the supersampler. The two photos above were taken using that borrowed camera. The boy is playing a game of catching with the waves. I am just as excited about the new BubbleScope which will allow you to take 360 degree panoramic shots.

The guy got caned extra. At least he got a sorry. We must not forget that in other countries, the powers that be aren’t always much better.

Remember The Name by Fort Minor is good. Video Compilation of Michael Jordan much better. Lebron James has a tough act to beat.

Links Watch

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WaveSecure by tenCube

Went for the launch of WaveSecure by tenCube yesterday at GeekTerminal. Their product basically helps deal with a problem that lots of Singaporean face – the lost of a handphone (the article linked below says official figures are 20,000 per annum). As a person who has lost a phone and got another stolen right under my nose ( I was dotaing and didn’t notice the guy beside me had swiped the phone) I can attest that this service is one that I would definitely signup for. Alas, having lost two phones, I decided to buy a old model (i.e.cheap) for my current phone which is not supported by WaveSecure.

The one feature that really got my attention was this alarm that sounds when a phone is locked and someone tries to use it. Apparently, the guy who was presenting said that the alarm might be able to be customized. I can imagine lots of embarrassing phrases to use as an alarm – “I wet my pants..I wet my pants…”, “I want to bomb *insert location*”, “You bastard, you slept with your own mother!”. But use this as an alarm and the chances of getting your phone back would also probably decrease.

SgEntrepreneurs has a press release for WaveSecure on their site which also explains some of the other features. SgEntrepreneurs also has a bio on the founder of tenCube Darius Cheng. Here is a link to a Straits Times article on him and his company. Reading the article about how the idea of this company began, once again I am reminded that the best ideas usually come when you see an opportunity to solve a problem you have personally faced (or in this case, a friend).

Trivia: the company may be called tenCube, but the logo only has nine cubes. The design is done such that we are supposed to see the tenth cube which is made up of the other nine smaller ones.

Happenings
On Singapore
Tangled Web We Weave

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National Service

I came across two articles on Found|Read written by an Israeli who actually had to go and fight a war and how it affected his life and his company. You can read them here and here.

And I felt ashamed of myself. While I have always believed in the importance of National Service, that belief has never stopped me from complaining about how reservist disrupts my life. While there are probably nuanced if not glaringly obvious arguments that can be made about how our respective governments treat us differently (i.e. The Israel’s government takes care of their people better than how the Singaporean government treats us – I’m suggesting the possible arguments, not agreeing with them) and the difference in geo-political situtations which would affect how an Israeli feels and thinks about their National Service compared to us the thing to take away from it is how the author reacted to the circumstances that were thrust upon him.

We are dealt our cards by Fate, how we play them is up to us.

Musing about Life

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Powerset and Artificial Intelligence

Powerset is a startup that is trying to help improve search by using natural language processing to understand search queries better and return more relevant results. You can find out abit more about Powerset here and here. Or go to their blog. They have released some sample queries like “Who proved Fermat’s last theorem?” and “What did Steve Jobs say about the iPod?” and the corresponding results. What I am really waiting for is to see how it handles the “Does this dress make me look fat?” question.

Natural Language Processing is a subset of the domain we call Artificial Intelligence which is an endeavour people have been working on for some time. The pursuit of creating Artificial Intelligence has led to a computer beating the best humans can offer in chess though AI isn’t good enough for computers to beat a human in GO. Yet. And maybe never.

I took a course in Artificial Intelligence during my undergraduate days. Along with what I learnt plus my years of living on this planet, I think the reason why we will probably never succeed in creating artificial intelligence that can match a human’s is because we don’t even understand human intelligence. I mean… No one understands the female mind (not even females themselves) and guys aren’t exactly what we call intelligent.

Tangled Web We Weave

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