Monday, June 30, 2008

High inflation rate accelerated the M-shape society formation

During the parliament meeting on 23 June 2008, when answering a question from Tan Sri Dato’ Abd. Khalid (Member of Parliament for Bandar Tun Razak) regarding the hiking price in petrol, food and other commodities, our Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Amirsham A. Aziz stated that if we move the poor line condition (paras garis kemiskinan, PGK) from the current RM800 to RM1,500 (which reflects the actual situation more accurately), the national poverty rate in Malaysia will rise tremendously from the current 3.7% to 24.3%. He also mentioned that the government has risen the definition of low income group for those with monthly income less than RM2,000 now.

Frankly speaking, living is really very difficult for Malaysian family with household income below RM1,500 nowadays. Even those with income below RM3,000 can sense their situation as "new poor" in the M-shape society. Data from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) as revealed by Datuk Amirsham above indicates that at least a quarter of the Malaysian family has fallen into the poor now.

If this critical situation is not tackled promptly and effectively, we can foresee an increase in crime rate and potential social instability that might risking to possible violent actions, which has already happened in certain regions on the globe now. We hope that our government, the ASEAN, UNESCAP, and all other international bodies can look into the situation seriously and come out with workable remedy plans to ease this globally affected economic condition before it worsen further.

Meanwhile, for us as citizen living in this hard time, we have to strive in finding our ways from falling below the poverty benchmark. As the inflation is fast moving, saving alone is not sufficient, we have to increase our income level to fight the rising poverty line, that might gone up to RM4,000 if the petroleum price climbs up to the scary US$200 per barrel. (I hope this will never happen, at least not in the near future.)

By the way, if you are interested to read about the debate in Malaysia parliament meeting on 23 June 2008, especially Page 6, you can click here to download the official statement document.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

SocialSpark - social network for both bloggers and advertisers

Nowadays, there exist quite a sum of social networking websites which form virtual community for bloggers to get to know each other and getting publicity for their blogs. There also exist several blog advertising marketplaces where advertisers wanting to promote their websites, companies, products, services, etc. can look for suitable blogs to put their advertisement.

SocialSpark is a new concept evolved from the famous PayPerPost marketplace that get the best of both worlds. It brings both the bloggers and advertisers into the same community, encouraging them to have more interaction with each other. In fact, the boundary between bloggers and advertisers is seemless, and a user can even hold both identity at the same time.

Users in SocialSpark can vote for a user, a blog, or an opportunity with the Props and Drops option. Those with more Props will have higher position in listing and get more exposure. Opportunity for bloggers in the marketplace comes in 3 types:

  • Sponsored post - similar to the PayPerPost concept, the advertiser is paying for qualified blogger to write a specific article in their blog.

  • Blog sponsorship - this is a Pay Per Day concept whereby qualified blogger will be paid daily for putting up the required advertisement (normally in the form of widget, icon, logo, button, link, etc.) in their blog.

  • Spark - this is a free opportunity for bloggers to promote each other, such as you write something about my blog in your blog, and in return I'll write back something about your blog in mine.

I've joint SocialSpark since 18 June 2008 and feel happy to make friend with the bloggers and advertisers in the community, visiting each other blogs and proping each other. Here is my profile page in SocialSpark with the URL at

SocialSpark is a pretty new social network just started a few months ago. However, IZEA the team behind isn't new as they have experience in successfully running the renowned PayPerPost marketplace. To date, SocialSpark has a community of about 8,000 bloggers and about 1,000 advertisers. The number keeps on growing daily in a fast pace, as more and more people are getting known to it. Why don't you sign up and join the community too?

You can participate to monetize your blog with the various opportunities in SocialSpark as long as you are 18 years or older, your blog is verified by their Customer Love, and the following Code of Ethics adhired:

  • 100% Audit-able In-Post Disclosure - you must disclose each sponsored post by putting a specific Disclosure Badge inside the post.
  • 100% Transparency - your participation in SocialSpark marketplace will be made viewable by the public.
  • 100% Real Opinions - your sponsored post must be honest and genuine.
  • 100% Search Engine Friendly - to avoid being penalized by the PageRank system of search engine, sponsored links must carry the "no-follow" attribute.

You can easily differentiate my articles in this blog which are sponsored by SocialSpark from others, as all the sponsored articles will have a button similar to this one:

Sponsored by SocialSpark

and yes, this is my first sponsored post.

Identifying and getting your dream job

For most of us as employee, it is undoubtedbly we have to spend at least 1/3 of our time in a working day for our job, and it is estimated that most people work for a total of 60,000 hours over a period of about 30 years in their lifetime. Remember our "HISC5"? Career definitely forms one of those important elements that make up our life.

Are you happy with your job? Have you identified your career goal and found your dream job? Would you rather be doing something other than what you are doing now?

Loving what you do, having interest, being passionate and always be motivated are some of the key success factor to us to excel in our career. Being on the right track of career is in turn a key success factor for our life value, social status and financial rewards.

Noelle Lim has featured an interesting and excellent 12-pages article in the July 2008 edition (Issue #83) of Personal Money magazine which I find is pretty inspiring. In the article, she elaborated on the 4 steps to land your dream job, namely:

  • Define your dream career
  • Find out more
  • Network and gain experiences
  • How to nail that job

Along with the article, there are touching stories of 6 people who are bold and determined to leave their comfort zone and pursuit for their dream job, and they succeed. Featured on the cover page of the magazine, they are:

  • Claire Kwok - from finance associate to fashion buyer
  • Nazrin Hassan - from managing a busines in CIMB to giving entrepreneurs a helping hand in Cradle fund
  • Alexandra Wong - from sales manager to writer
  • Fiona Lim - from SAP team lead to photographer
  • Toh Kong Eu - from chemical engineer to tap dancer and destiny consultant
  • Rosie Hong - from marketing manager to MD of marketing agency

If you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to read the full article in the July 2008 edition (Issue #83) of Personal Money magazine.

The 2 strollers in my home - why their price are so much different

There are 2 strollers in my home. The left-hand-side one is a Sweet Cherry, cost RM150 (after 50% discount), and the right-hand-side one is Combi Super Mechacal DX, cost RM7xx (after 35% discount).

They have similar parts and functionalities, such as:

  • Reversible handle
  • Foldable
  • Double wheel with suspension on each side
  • Front swivel wheels with lock
  • 3-points seat belt
  • With canopy
  • Removable front guard
  • With storage basket
  • 3 levels of reclination
  • Footrest for toddler

But the Combi stroller is about 5 times the price of the Sweet Cherry. What make the different then? Here are the features of the Combi stroller that justify its higher price:

  • It is very light weight. The metal material is different.
  • The fabric material is different too. The baby can stay in it for hours without feeling hot or unconfortable. My son used to sleep in it during daytime.
  • The seat cushion is more soft and comfortable.
  • The seat cushion is fully removeable and washable.
  • The suspension is pretty good. It is not so bumpy when going through uneven lands.
  • It is more compact when folded.
  • Its seat belt can hold the baby better and more comfortable.
  • Its front guard is soft. Not made by hard plastic.
  • It comes with shoulder strap for convenient carrying when folded.
  • Its canopy has sufficient ventilation windows, and can fully cover until the front guard.

All in all, I find the Combi Super Mechacal DX well worth for its price. If you plan to buy a stroller for your baby/toddler, although price is a major consideration, convenience (to you) and comfortability (to the baby/toddler) are also important considerations that should not be neglected.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How to choose a stroller for your baby/toddler

Basically, there are 4 major kinds of strollers available - made locally, made in Japan, made in China, made in Western countries. I found their differences, in general, are as follow:

  • Locally made and China made stollers are generally much cheaper than other imported one. They might have similar parts and functions with their counterparts, but the quality might be different.
  • Japan made strollers are generally smaller in size than Western made. This might probably because the body size of Asian people is smaller. They are also easier and simpler to operate, practical in functionalities.
  • Western made strollers are generally bigger in size, and more complicated to operate. I remembered the shopkeeper shown me a few times how to open and fold the McLaren, Peg Perego, Graco, etc. but I still can't figure out the way. Same to reclining the seat. Basically, more steps are involved, not as straightforward as the Combi.

The following are some considerations when choosing for stroller:

  • Light weight - convenient to carry.
  • Foldable - so that you can put in your car and bring it to shopping complex and other places. It should be compact when folded so that not taking too much space in your car.
  • Durability and maximum weight support - you might want to choose one that can be used from new born until 3-4 years old.
  • Quality of fabric material - your baby should feel comfortable, feel cool, not easily sweating within short period of time.
  • Seat cushion fully removeable and washable - the stroller can gets dirty and need frequent clean up, especially if you seat your baby in it while feeding food.
  • With canopy - to protect your baby from sun and sudden rain.
  • Reversible handle - so that your baby can face forward (to enjoy the scene) or backward (to get your attention).
  • Multilevel reclination - to adjust the position accordingly. Infant cannot sit too upright.
  • Wheels with suspension - so that it won't be too bumpy.
  • Easy to operate - especially when your baby is taken care by older people such as your mother.
  • Availability of spare parts - especially the rubber-made wheels which are subjected to wear and tear.
  • Basket - for your convenience to carry along some diapers, baby wipe, baby food, etc.
  • Safety design - the stroller should not be easily overturned. It should have emergency brakes and other safety features too.

Last but not least, your baby must like it. It is advisible for your baby to actually sit in it and "test drive" for a while, make sure he/she like it before bringing it home from the store.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Giant-Citibank VISA credit card

When I accessed to the Citibank's website today, I'm attracted by a new banner that Citibank has come out with new co-branded VISA credit card with Giant.

Holders of this new credit card are entitled for up to 10% rebate on their first spending with Giant if the card is applied before 15 July 2008 and the first spending is done before 31 August 2008. The rebate will be given in the form of cash voucher delivered together with the monthly credit card statement, and maximum rebate for the month is RM50 only.

Beside that, the card will enjoy a 2% rebate on all purchases made at Giant stores nationwide, and up to 1% rebate on other purchases outside Giant.

It will also enjoy benefits in purchase-with-purchase programs and members-only priced items in Giant.

1st year annual fee is waived. After that, annual fee will be RM90.

Person who apply for this credit card can also get an Olympus FE-330 8.0MP Digital Camera for RM349 (usual price RM829), with a delivery charge of RM50.

Click here for more detail about this Giant-Citibank VISA card.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Auspicious dates for moving to new house

Since I posted about the Auspicious Dates for Wedding & Marriage, several has shown interest in the auspicious dates for moving to new house.

Therefore, I have produced the following list of all the auspicious dates for moving to new house in the 2nd half of year 2008 based on the Tong Shu (通书、通胜) too.

Here is it (click to enlarge):

As reminder again, although the Tong Shu is a compilation of Chinese astrology and calendaring studies gathering wisdom of thousands of years, we should use it wisely and rationally, but not be too superstitious on it.

If you are looking for the auspicious dates for moving to new house/office in 2009, click here.

Can you survive in the urban jungle?

Crimes against civilians, especially women, are on the rise today whether in the city or on the road. Therefore Tribe Toyota, the online community for Toyota car owners in Malaysia, is conducting workshops to equip ourself with knowledge on self protection.

This Urban Survival Skills workshops are for individuals aged 12 years and above. 2 type of courses are available.

1. City Survival - for females only

Focuses on the prevention of criminal acts against women like bag snatching, sexual harassment, domestic violence, kidnapping, rape, car theft and mugging.

Date: 16 August 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 8.30am - 2.00pm
Venue: Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers
Cost: RM40 per person

2. Road Survival - for both males and females

Focuses on dealing with road bullying, car-jacking and car accidents.

Date: 9 August 2008 (Saturday)
Time: 9.00am - 1.00pm
Venue: Sheraton Subang Hotel & Towers
Cost: RM40 per person

Click here for more information about the Urban Survival Skills workshops.

Hume Industries to sell out Hume Fibreboard to Evergreen Fibreboard

On 23 June 2008, Hume Industries (3328, 谦工业) announced that they had entered into a Business Transfer Agreement with Evergreen Fibreboard (Nilai) Sdn Bhd and Evergreen Fibreboard Berhad (5101, 长青纤维板) to dispose of the Assets, Liabilities, activity, business and undertaking pertaining to the manufacturing and sale of medium density fibreboard and related products and activities carried on by their wholly owned subsidiary Hume Fibreboard Berhad for a total consideration of RM213.23 million, to be satisfied by way of cash of RM170 million and the balance of RM43.23 million by the issue of 33 million new ordinary shares of RM0.25 each in Evergreen Fibreboard at an issue price of RM1.31 per share.

Evergreen closed at RM1.30 yesterday (24 June), dropped by 3 sen, while Hume Industries closed at RM3.88, rose by 8 sen.

I see this as a good deal for Hume Industries (which I am one of its minority shareholders) because after the deal:

  • Hume Industries will hold a 6.43% interest in the enlarged and paid up capital of Evergreen. This will probably make Hume Industries to be the 5th largest shareholder in Evergreen then.
  • This deal will result in a gain of RM114 million to Hume Industries, and will rise its EPS by 64 sen.
  • The NTA of Hume Industires will be risen by 64 sen.
  • The cash balance of Hume Industries will further strengten from the current RM131 million to RM301 million.
Evergreen has 480 million issued shares, and its 1st quarter profit after tax for 2008 stood at RM30.305 million. Assuming that its full year profit after tax to be RM120 million (without taken into the consideration of this acquisition of Hume Fibreboard) , with the price of RM1.31 per share, Hume Industries is obtaining the 6.43% shares in Evergreen at the PE of 5.24 only, which is a very good deal. Below is the calculation for the mentioned PE:

PE = Price/EPS = 1.31 / (120 / 480) = 1.31 / 0.25 = 5.24

Evergreen has pretty good fundamentals, showing satisfactory growth over the past 5 years. Its profit after tax has grown 5 times (500%) from RM21.725 million in 2003 to RM118.656 million in 2007. This deal would further increase Evergreen's production capacity and would make them the largest fibreboard producer in Malaysia and the top 12 producers in the world.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for sharing of point of view only. It is not an advice or recommendation to buy or sell any of the mentioned stock counters. You should do your own homework before trading in Bursa Malaysia.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

20 litre free water for Selangor consumers finally materialized

Something new in my water bill this month. There stated starting from 1 June 2008 onwards, the first 20 litre of water usage for Selangor domestic consumers will be paid by the state owned company Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB). An amount of RM8.81 is deducted from the bill as result.

This 20 litre free water per household for Selangor domestic consumers was proposed by the new Selangor government formed by Pakatan Rakyat after the recent election, and lead by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. There were several hiccups and negotiations with the Selangor state water concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) over the past few months before it comes to materialization now.

Although this proposal is criticized by some people that providing free water might make the consumers more wasteful and less concerned about conserving water, the determination of the new state government to overcome all the resistance and make it into reality shows their endeavour and sincerity in keeping their promise to the people, and this is definitely a good news, especially to the poor families during the current high inflation time.

Thumb up to the Selangor state government!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Babyjaya mid-year sale, up to 50% off

Good news to parents in Klang Valley!

Babyjaya Enterprise, a one-stop 3-storey baby shop located in Damansara Utama (near the Uptown Office Towers) is having a mid-year sale now from 21 June to 8 August 2008.

We can expect up to 50% discount on the following babycare and childcare items:

  • play & learn
  • healthcare & hygiene
  • safety & control
  • clothes & shoes
  • food & beverage
  • feeding
  • nursing
  • bags & warmers
  • nursery
  • travel gears
  • skincare
  • gifts & vouchers
  • children furniture
Offered brands include 4M, Avent, Baby Art, Baby Bjorn, Babylove, Babyvision, Bebe Confort, Bumble Bee, Bumbo, Chicco, Creative International, Crocs, Dr Browns, Evenflo, Fabulous Mom, Farlin, Fisher Price, Fridge-to-go, Gerber, Graco, Halford, Innoform, Kiddopotamus, K's Kids, Lascal, Lamaze, Leap Frog, Lindam, Littlepods, Lollipop, Lucas Papaw, Lucky Baby, Maclaren, Mam, Maxi-cosi, Medela, Miamoda, Munchkin, My Lovely Closet, My Dear, Neo Geo, Nestle, Nuby, Nuk, Peg Perego, Pigeon, Pitter Patters, Puku Petit, Quinny, Recaro, Seba Med, Seni Daya, Simple Dimple, Spectra, Step 2, Tenderly, The First Years, Tiny Love, Tolo, Unite Safety, Vtech, Zibos, Zooper, etc.

For example, the The Easy Fit Alarm safety gate usually cost RM329.90 is now selling at RM197.94 only.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How to know the bull top and bear bottom

There are many ways to predict the bull's top and bear's bottom in investment market. And normally, an investor will cross reference with different methods to determine the market trend. Technical analysis is a useful tool to provide indication of a possible top or bottom too.

I observe the market reaction to news in order to know the current position of the market in a long term trend. This simple method is useful for long term cycle, but not enough for short term cycle.

The market sentiment always react to news, announcements, happenings, rumours, etc. We can divide them into good news and bad news, and we can grade the news into 5 degree of impact or intensity.

Here are some examples of good news: good quarterly financial result, good industry outlook, positive announcement, new major development, good dividend payout, bonus issue, buying of shares by big investor, encouraging government policy, etc.

Here are some examples of bad news: poor quarterly financial result, poor industry outlook, negative announcement, fraud case, natural disaster, warfare, economic downturn, high inflation, substantial selling of shares from major shareholders or directors, discouraging government policy (such as impose of heavier tax), etc.

And here are some examples of news that can be viewed as good during bull market, but viewed as bad during bear market: rights issue, merger & acquisition, major investment in new area, increase in borrowings to fund rapid developments, etc.

And here are my observations:

During the bull market, majority investors will treat:

  • good news as reason for the price to break another record high
  • no news as if good news is coming soon
  • bad news as if no big deal (ignored)
And when it is near the bull's top, good news find difficulty to push the price with greater intensity, and the market somehow realise and react to bad news.

During the bear market, majority investors will treat:
  • good news as if no big deal (ignored)
  • no news as if bad news is coming soon
  • bad news as if tomorrow is judgement day

And when it is near the bear's bottom, the damage from bad news reduced to minimal, and the market starts to realise and react to good news.

And remember, we have to divide the news into 5 degree of impact. The market might not react significantly to 3rd degree of impact, but still react vigorously to 5th degree impact. When it reaches the bear's bottom, even high degree bad news such as recession throughout the whole region will be treated as normal; and when it reaches the bull's top, high degree good news such as 300% profit growth will also be viewed as normal.

If you can observe and predict the bull's top and bear's bottom, then you can apply your investment strategy to "buy low and sell high".

You need double effort to gain back any investment lost

I wrote about withdrawing EPF money for investment purpose recently. That was due to a friend of mine who is agent to a unit trust company has approached me to do so. Is now a good time to take out your EPF savings and invest in unit trust? I don't think so.

As you can see that over the past few months, there are many uncertainties in the share market that have affected the investors sentiment. The oil price as well as many commodities prices are sky rocking, inflation is accelerated, people spending with more caucious, even the local political environment has become pretty unstable since the last election. As a result, we can clearly see that the unit trust funds are sinking, especially those with high proportion in the share market.

Although I agree that investing in unit trust funds might have a better chance of getting better return than EPF in the long run, but it is definitely not a wise choice to invest on something that is still in the sinking momentum. We have to wait for a better time to switch our hard earned money from EPF to unit trust. Even in the worst scenario, EPF will still pay us a 2.5% dividend, but how much probability do you think that your unit trust will perform better than EPF return by the time they declares for the next dividend? I see more chance of losing money in unit trust funds now than making any money in the short term.

And yes, you can opt for a unit trust fund which invests in the bond and money market. But unfortunately, I don't foresee the return in those unit trust to be better than EPF dividend payout, at least not in their past few years record.

We have to remember the fact that, for any lost we incurred in investment activity, we need double the effort to gain it back. For example, if you purchase a unit trust for RM1.00, and its value drops to RM0.50, that is a 50% lost. You will require the unit trust to gain back 100% from RM0.50 to RM1.00 in order to "break even" your initial investment. That might take you a lot of time, probably a few years to drop from RM1.00 to RM0.50 and regain back to RM1.00 again, and yet you are still not making any money. If you leave your money with the EPF fund, you might probably have earned more than 10% already for the same period of time.

I will seriously think about withdrawing my EPF savings for investment, when I feel that the right timing has come. Now is definitely not the right timing, although it is a right timing to invest directly in share market by picking those high DY, zero debt, good profit growth and low PE companies. You will notice that they have low PE probably because there is no or very limited unit trust fund has invested into them yet. I believe they are already in the radar screen of the fund managers. When the market sentiment become better, the fund managers will buy and push up their stock price, raise the PE to above 10. And when the fund managers start to regain the courage and confident to invest agressively again, that could be the right time we put our money in their trust.

Unit trust agents always like to mention a practice called "dollar cost averaging". In my opinion as an experienced investor in the share market, the "dollar cost averaging" can only be used if you are optimistic that the price has been bottomed up, and there is more tendency for it to rise rather than continue on sinking. If you don't feel that the sinking effect will stop soon, you should not dump in more money with "dollar cost averaging". In fact, you should seriously consider "cut lost" instead. This is because you need double the effort to gain back any investment lost you made. Be smart, when dealing with investment.

Friday, June 20, 2008 Expo and Investment Forum 2008

Every year, Expo attracts thousands of regional and international investors looking for the best property deals in Malaysia and beyond. The event presents to the investors with access to the best real estate opportunities in this rapidly growing region which is brimming with lucrative investment opportunities.

This property expo will showcases over 150 award winning developments from Malaysia, Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. It expects to have 15,000 worldwide visitors.

The Expo 2008 will be held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on 25-27 July 2008 10am- 7pm. Entry is free by registration.

In conjunction with the Expo, there will be Investment Forum to provide the public with wealth of knowledge and information, essential resources for home buyers and serious investors for their property investment decisions.

Among the seminars scheduled in the Investment Forum are:

  • Insight and opportunities for Singaporean to invest in Malaysia
  • Developer’s success story
  • Outlook of local and regional property market
  • Investment in emerging market - China-Vietnam-India
  • Investment in the United States
  • ... and so on
There will be also forums talking about:
  • IT applications in real estate practice
  • International opportunities in real estate
  • Latest update on Malaysia My Second Home programme
  • Taxation and legal matters
  • Property hot spots
  • ... and so on

Click here to download the detailed booklet about Expo 2008.

Click here to register online to Expo 2008.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Free IT security workshops from EC-Council Academy

The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) is offering 2 complementary workshops as follow:

World of Hacker - Understanding the Threats & Countermeasures

This workshop introduces you to the world of the hacker; you will understand the tools hackers use and ways to prevent attacks. You will also be exposed to Computer Hacking Forensic Investigation, which covers the process of detecting hacking attacks, investigation and analysis of techniques to determine potential legal evidence. There will also be real life case studies and demonstration.

Date: 28 June 2008
Time: 9:00am - 1:00pm
Venue: EC-Council Academy Sdn Bhd, Phileo Damansara 1, Petaling Jaya.
Related certification: CEH (Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures)

Network Security & Disaster Recovery

This workshop will discuss about the fundamental skill needed to analyze the internal and external security threats against a network and to develop security policies that will protect an organization's information. Additionally, it covers the foundation for disaster recovery principles, preparation of a disaster recovery plan, assessment of risks in the enterprise, development of policies and procedures, implementation of plan a recovering from a disaster.

Date: 28 June 2008
Time: 1:00pm - 4:00m
Venue: EC-Council Academy Sdn Bhd, Phileo Damansara 1, Petaling Jaya.
Related certifications:
1. ENSA (EC-Council Network Security Administrator)
2. EDRP (EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional)

EC-Council currently offers the following certification courses:

  • CEH (Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures)
  • CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator)
  • ENSA (EC-Council Network Security Administrator)
  • EDRP (EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional)
  • ECSA/LPT (EC-Council Certified Security Analyst)
  • ECSP (EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer)
  • Project Management
  • Cyber Marketing
  • E-business Security
  • Cyber Law
For more information and online registration, click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why my home does not have a microwave oven

Microwave oven is a popular electrical appliance nowadays that you will probably find one in most of your friend's home. It is convenient to use, fast in cooking, and 3 times energy efficient (save electricity) than conventional oven. You might also observed that out of 10 electrical ovens displayed in shop, 8 are microwave ovens and only the other 2 are conventional ovens. My home has a Cornell conventional oven instead of a microwave one, because my wife and I are in doubt about the safety of microwave cooking. When still in doubt, we opt to play safe and use conventional oven instead.

There have been years of long debates over conflicting information on the safety of microwave cooking and their effect on the nutritional value of food, which is difficult to conclude till today. Obviously more research is required on this field, but most researcher unfortunately seem to be more interested in what happens if a microwave oven door malfunctions (danger of microwave leaking), than on the effects of eating microwaved foods.

In order to understand the debate subject, we need to have brief knowledge of how microwave oven works. The microwave oven generates electromagnetic waves (called microwave because the wavelength is short) at a frequency of 2,450 MHz. The microwaves bombard the molecules of water in the food. These molecules each have a positive and negative end, or “polarity”. The polarized molecules try to line themselves up with the electrical field, like compass needles trying to point North. But because the electrical field is reversing polarity at a rate of 2,450 million cycles a second, the water molecules end up rotating at the same speed. That activity generates heat, which cooks the food.

This violent movement of molecules causes substantial damage to some molecules, often tearing them apart or deforming them.
People against microwave oven says that this action destroy the nutrients in the food, and might cause cellular mutation and deform the food into hazardous substances such as carcinogen (cancer causing agent). However, we have to also know that the same thing will happen to our food cooked in heated surface or directly burnt with fire. As a result, the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “foods cooked in a microwave oven may keep more of their vitamins and minerals, because microwave ovens can cook more quickly and without adding water.” (Click here to read the FDA's article)

This viewpoint is disproved by a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003, whereby researchers from the Spanish scientific research council CEBAS-CSIC found that cooking by microwave is the worst way to preserve at least one key nutrient in vegetables.

Some of the earliest research into the effects of microwaved food was conducted in the 1950s in Russia which indicated bigger dangers than destruction of nutrients. Russian researchers found that people who ate microwaved foods had a statistically higher incidence of stomach and intestinal cancers, a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues, and a gradual breakdown of the digestive and excretory systems. Due to chemical alterations within the food, they had lymphatic malfunctions, causing a degeneration of the body’s immune system. As a result of that research, the Soviets banned the use of microwave ovens in 1976 and issued an international warning on the health hazards, both biological and environmental, of microwave ovens and similar frequency electronic devices. This point is always heralded by people against microwave oven. However, the ban was lifted later in late 1980s, overturning their earlier decision, and the whole world appears not to have headed the warning at all.

Another article by Doctors Hertel and Blanc appeared in a Swiss environmental magazine entitled Journal Franz Weber, which stated that the consumption of food cooked in microwave ovens had cancerous effects on the blood as indicated by an increase of leukocytes, which could indicate cell damage, after eating microwaved substances. The authorities reacted promptly. In 1992, a powerful trade organization, the Swiss Association of Dealers for Electro-apparatuses for Households and Industry, known as FEA forced the Swiss courts to issue a “gag order” against them. The following year, Dr. Hertel was convicted for “interfering with commerce” and prohibited from further publishing his results. However, he fought the decision and both it and the gag order were reversed in 1998 when the European Court of Human Rights in Austria ruled that there had been a violation of his rights in the 1993 decision. As a result, Switzerland was ordered to pay him compensation.

The debates are still on, so we are still in doubt. Do you have a microwave oven in your home? Are you also in doubt about the hazardous sayings of it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Withdrawal of EPF money for investment (Part 2/2)

If you haven't read Part 1 of this post, please click here.

Under the EPF Member’s Investment Scheme, you can withdraw a portion of your EPF Account 1 savings for investment with approved unit trust funds and/or fund managers if you fulfill the following:

  • You are a Malaysian citizen or Permanent Resident, or a non-Malaysian citizen (expatriate) who became a member of the EPF before 1 August 1998.
  • You have not reached 55 years old.
  • Your EPF Account 1 have at least RM5,000 more than the Basic Savings amount based on your current age.
And here are the conditions for withdrawal:
  • Withdrawal can be done at intervals of 3 months from the date of the last withdrawal (date of money transferred).
  • Each time, you must withdraw a minimum of RM1,000 from your Account 1.
  • Each time, you cannot withdraw more than 20% of the amount exceeding the required Basic Savings in Account 1.
  • All investment must be using Account 1 savings. You are not allowed to make additional investments under the scheme using your own money.
How to proceed with the withdrawal?

You can contact the office or any agents of the approved fund management institutes under the scheme. An example of unit trust manager is Public Mutual Bhd, and an example of fund manager is Apex Investment Services Bhd STA-3 Securities Trading Account.

Here is an example of calculation on the eligible amount to withdraw from Account 1 for investment.

Mr. X, aged 35, has accumulated RM80,000 in his EPF Account 1.

Based on the Basic Savings requirement, his Account 1 must have at least RM29,000.

The excess amount will be RM80,000 - RM29,000 = RM51,000.

He can withdraw up to 20% of this excess amount for investment purpose. That will be RM51,000 x 20% = RM10,200.

Since he have to withdraw a minimum of RM1,000 under the scheme, he can invest any amount between RM1,000-RM10,200.

He can still invest 3 months later, if 20% of the excess amount in Account 1 by then is still more than RM1,000.

You can check for your most current EPF account statement using their online service, and see how much savings are sitting in your Account 1.

Withdrawal of EPF money for investment (Part 1/2)

Our EPF (a.k.a. KWSP) savings yield dividends which are generated from EPF’s investment activities and declared annually. The EPF’s investments are pretty conservative in nature and the historical highest dividend declared was 8.5% between 1983-1986 and the lowest was 2.5% between 1952-1959.

On the contrary, the EPF Member’s Investment Scheme allows contributors to withdraw savings from Account 1, in excess of Basic Savings, for investment in approved unit trust funds and/or fund managers under the scheme. During the bull market, these funds can easily outperform EPF dividend yield by a few times and provide chance for your retirement money to grow faster.

As a result, we have the following 3 choices for our EPF Account 1 savings to go for:

1. Retain the EPF savings in the account
Description: Don't withdraw and let your EPF savings stay and grow in your account.


  • The EPF ensures that your savings are secured and never make a lost.
  • It has a guaranteed minimum dividend of 2.5% every year.
  • The savings growth is relatively slow.
  • The dividend yield might not be significant enough to cover the inflation rate.
  • You have no control over investment decisions. Some of EPF past investments are very questionable.
  • Fund performance is only made known to public once a year when dividend is declared.

2. Invest in Unit Trust Funds

Description: Withdraw part of your EPF Account 1 savings and invest in approved unit trusts managed by approved unit trust managers. If you sell out the unit trusts, the money will go back to your EPF Account 1.

  • You do not need to fork out additional money from your pocket to make the investment.
  • The investment will be professionally managed by licensed fund managers.
  • Risk reduction through a diversified portfolio.
  • Fund performance can be monitored with reports and price movement.
  • No guaranteed return (unless for certain guaranteed return funds) and there is a chance of making lost.
  • You have no control over investment decisions.
  • A service charge of up to 3% when buying the units under the EPF Member’s Investment Scheme.
  • Switching and transfer funds might also incur service charge.

3. Invest with Fund Managers

Description: Withdraw part of your EPF Account 1 savings and engage the services for professional fund managers appointed by the Ministry of Finance and approved under the scheme. If you terminate the service, the money will go back to your EPF Account 1. There are 2 modes of fund investment service: discretionary and non-discretionary.

  • For discretionary portfolio, your investment will be professionally managed by the licensed fund managers.
  • For non-discretionary portfolio, you have the final say over investment decision, similar to invest directly in share market with remisiers.
  • Better chance to always outperform the best unit trusts if you are good in investment.
  • High entry level as there is a minimum fund size of acceptance to fund management. Usually your EPF Account 1 need to have 6 digits before engaging this service.
  • No guaranteed return and there is a chance of making lost if not careful.
  • For non-discretionary portfolio, you need to devote considerable time and effort to manage your portfolio.
Related links to EPF website:
To continue reading on Part 2 of this post, click here.

Oracle OpenWorld 2008 to be held in San Francisco this September

The upcoming Oracle OpenWorld 2008 presents more than 1,700 sessions organized into 4 streams—database, middleware, applications, and industries—in which Oracle experts and customers will share product road maps, tips & tricks, success stories, etc.

Date: 21–25 September 2008
Venue: Moscone Center, 800 Howard Street, San Francisco, California, US.

Early bird registration through 18 July 2008 to this event will enjoy special discount.

Click here fore detailed information and online registration to Oracle OpenWorld 2008.

MacWorld Conference & Expo to be held in San Francisco on Jan 2009

Managed by IDG World Expo, the Macworld Conference & Expo is the world’s most comprehensive Macintosh OS event, showcasing products and services for professionals involved in media and creative content development for corporate and home applications, as well as for consumers using the Mac at home.

The next Macworld Conference & Expo event will be held on 5-9 January 2009 in San Francisco, California.

This upcoming Macworld conference is expected to consist of 7 programs featuring over educational sessions taught by renowned industry experts that cover a wide array of themes that span the Mac industry trends and developments. From technical to hands-on to simply wanting to understand a particular functionality the Mac platform has to offer, the Macworld conference offers a full mix of content to appeal to enthusiasts of all levels.

This Macworld Conference Program includes:

  • Users Conference – Skill Development across Mac-enables solutions
  • MacIT Conference – In Depth topics for IT Professionals
  • Power Tools – 2 day in-depth training on popular Mac software applications
  • Market Symposiums – analysis and deployment of Mac technology in key markets
  • Hands-on MacLabs - Hands on, focused training classes
  • Creative Safari’s – Day long hands on and field work with key Mac tools
  • Supersessions – Quick hits to get you up to speed on key Mac tecnology

Click here to keep track on latest news and info about this upcoming event.

LinuxWorld Conference & Expo to be held in San Francisco on Aug 2008

Established in 1999, the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo is the premier event for the Linux and open source community, bringing together industry leaders shaping the future of new enterprise technology in the largest single gathering of business and technical leaders deploying Linux and open source solutions. It is organised and managed by IDG World Expo and held in various cities around the world.

The next LinuxWorld Conference & Expo is coming soon:
Date: 4-8 August 2008
Venue: Moscone Center North, 800 Howard Street, San Francisco, California, US.

This upcoming LinuxWorld conference and tradeshow event in San Francisco features more than 100 educational sessions covering 7 tracks that go deep into Linux and open source industry trends, including:

  • Desktop Linux
  • Virtualization
  • System troubleshooting
  • Quick & dirty development
  • Legal & licensing issues
  • Security
  • Mobile Linux platforms
  • Building Mobile Linux applications
  • Embedded Linux
  • Applications & middleware
The BSD Certification Group (BSDCG) is also offering the BSDA certification exam to attendees during the event days.

Pre-registered admission to exhibition hall is free. Admission to some of the conferences is chargeable, except the following which are free as well:
  • Community Day - Monday, August 4
  • PostgreSQL Community Day - Tuesday, August 5
  • OpenSUSE Community Day - Wednesday, August 6
  • Ubucon - Thursday, August 7
Registration before 11 July 2008 will get Early Bird discount.

Click here fore detailed information and online registration to LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (August 2008) in San Francisco.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Family Showcase 2008 - Whiz Kidz

The upcoming My Family Showcase expo in now on its 3rd year and will be held in Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on 4-7 July 2008. Admission is free.

This family event is divided into 3 zones:

1. Kidz zone

Education related exhibition, including kindergarten, education tools, e-learning, sports academy, swimming school, ballet academy and also music academy.

This zone is subdived into the following:

  • Learning Section
  • Creative Section
  • Fun Section
  • Intelligence Section
  • Knowledge Section

2. Parents zone

This zone will showcase the FMCG products (eg. milk powder, napkins, confinement, etc), health products, nutrition, food supplement, slimming center, massage chairs, etc.

This zone is subdived into the following:

  • Mommy & Baby Zone
  • Food & Nutrition Zone

3. Family leisure zone

This zone will showcase the promotion of family leisure and holidays by Tourism Malaysia, as well as hobby and leisure products.

There will also be an Organic Garden activity area to educate the children on the growth of each stages of the vegetables.

Some of the highlights of this 4-days family event are:

  • Free dental checkup for kids
  • Free breast cancer checkup by National Cancer Society
  • Sharing Session of World Vision Spokesperson, Phoebe Yap (菲比, MyFM DJ)
  • Children fire escape workshop
  • Children financial workshop
  • Talks and seminars
  • Interactive games and contests
  • ... and many more

Click here for more information about this event.

Auspicious dates for wedding, marriage, moving home, etc.

Many people will look for auspicious dates for the important days in their lifetime, such as the wedding day, moving to new house, commencing new business, joining new company, etc. I have even heard that some will choose to register their new car on the auspicious date too.

I chose the auspicious date for my wedding, and also for moving to my current house with the Tong Shu (通书、通胜), which is originated from the Yellow Calendar (黄历) founded by Huang Di (黄帝) of ancient China around 2697-2598 BC.

The Tong Shu is a thick Chinese almanac book, which is very popular among the Chinese families since the Qing dynasty, but not so well known to younger generations nowadays. Some of its content also appear in those "traditional" Chinese calendar, which you have to tear one piece per day to show the current date information.

Luckily, in today's information age, there are online facilities available for us to search in the Tong Shu just with a mouse click. I used the facility in the Y28 Predictions website ( for my searching. This is a Chinese website. To help those not well verse with Chinese, below are the auspicious dates for wedding and marriage which fall on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, for the next 6 months. Those dates are generally auspicious for everyone, except for people and any parents born in the year represented in the Exception column.

The 14 September is considered the most auspicious day (mid-autumn festival) among them. The moon is the biggest and brightest seen from earth by that day. To date, I have already received 5 wedding invitations fall on that day. In fact, my own wedding was also held during the mid-autumn festival several years ago. (However, this does not imply that the mid-autumn festival for every year will be an auspicious date for wedding. It need to be determined on a year-by-year basis.)

If you want me to help checking for any particular date, you can leave a comment and I'll try to search and translate for you in English.

Bear in mind that although the Tong Shu is a compilation of Chinese astrology and calendaring studies gathering wisdom of thousands of years, we should use it wisely and rationally, but not be too superstitious on it.

For the list of auspicious dates for moving to new house in 2nd half of year 2008, read my other post here.

If you are looking for the auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2009, click here.

Are your wedding photos worth the spending?

Most of us paid at least a few thousands ringgit to the bridal shop for the photo album and a few framed enlarged photos to be put in our bedroom. Usually this is also the key area whereby the pre-negotiated price of the bridal service package gone up in the later stage. Some of my friends even have the price double up due to additional photos to include in the album after the commonly used "once in a lifetime" pursuasion dose was induced during the photo selection session.

I find that for most people (including me), those photos taken indoor at the bridal shop's studio as well as outdoor at some common wedding scenic places and compiled into a big nice album, will eventually be sitting quietly in the cupboard or store room since a few months after the wedding event. Now the question: is the few thousands spending on those photos really worthwhile?

In my humble opinion, real life photos of the actual event days (which are also "once in a lifetime") are always more valuable and memorable than the acting photos taken to produce the wedding album. It is wise to use the same budget or allocate more budget to emphasize more on the photo shoting during the actual event days, such as the engagement day, signing ceremony of marriage certificates (yes it is plural, because you need to sign at least 2 copies. I signed 4 copies - 2 original certs and 2 international transcripts), and the actual wedding day.

It is always a good idea to hire an experienced professional wedding photographer and/or videographer to take photo/video during those important days. The photographer should know well the procedures, always standby in good position to take the most natural shots of memorable moments. Those moments are really "once in a lifetime", and if you missed to capture it into picture or video at the moment, any retake won't be meaningful to you. The photographer should produce albums similar to the one done by the bridal shop as well, and give you all the films or JPEG images (for digital photos) together with the albums as the deliverables.

In fact, I find that studio bridal photography is not really "once in a lifetime". Some people who doesn't satisfy with the work at one bridal shop will just go and retake the photography at another shop. Even after the wedding, you can also always go to the bridal shop with your spouse and take the bridal photography if you want.

Therefore, you should put more emphasis, and budget more, for the photo shooting during the actual event days which are "once in a lifetime" and really happening (not acting), rather than the studio bridal photography. Then you'll feel the spending is worthwhile.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Getting Behind The Figures" investment workshop by MSWG

The Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG) will be organising a Workshop on "Getting Behind The Figures". This workshop will enable the retail investors to acquire a thorough knowledge and skills in analysing and interpreting the Annual Reports and Financial Statements of listed companies.

The details of this workshop are as follow:

Date: 30 June 2008 (Monday)
Venue: Conference Room
Ground Floor, Exchange Square
Bukit Kewangan, Kuala Lumpur

RM120 (Normal)
RM84 (30% Discount for MSWG Subscribers)

If you are interested to attend this workshop, please call to 603–20709090, contact persons are Ms Sharina, Ms Rohana or Ms Faiezah.

Yahoo! to display Google ads in their search results

Yahoo! has just signed a non-exclusive pact with Google, which will enable them to run Google text-based ads alongside search results on some of Yahoo's Web properties in the North America region.

strategy is similar to that of IAC/InterActiveCorp's (IACI) search site, which sells its own ads and displays ads from Google. It was said that the two companies has in fact run a limited test in April, in which Google placed ads alongside to about 3% of Yahoo! search result pages in the US region.

This deal is expected to boost their revenue by as much as $800 million a year and generates an estimated $250-450 million in incremental operating cash flow for them.

Google is seen to get the dual benefit of gaining a major publisher in Yahoo! and keeping them out of the hands of Microsoft, which previously offered to acquire Yahoo! for some $44.6 billion. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has previously stated that they would not be interested in pursuing Yahoo! if Yahoo! decided to partner with Google.

RHB Travel Money Credit Card to rebate 5% on petrol?

You might have seen the recent RHB advertisement about their 5% cash rebates for purchases of any petrol brand at all petrol stations nationwide with their RHB Travel Money Credit Card as below.

Wow! 5% can save us some real money, especially when the petrol price is going up and up nowadays. But wait a minute, there are terms and conditions behind the scene.

You have to aware that:

  • This 5% cash rebate is valid only during the "promotion period" from 10 June 2008 to 31 August 2008.
  • After that, the cash rebate will reduce to 2% until 31 December 2008.
  • The "promotion period" end by 31 December 2008. Any more rebate thereafter? It is not mentioned.
  • The Rebate shall be subjected to a limit of RM60 per month for each Principal Card. Both Principal and Supplementary Cardmember’s rebate will be accumulated to a maximum limit of RM60 per Principal credit card account per month.
Now, it looks less attractive, but better than none.

To read the detailed terms and conditions, click here.

Other credit cards that also give rebate on petrol expenses are:
So far, I find the CIMB Petronas MasterCard which is free for life and provides 2% rebate at Petronas station (rebate value up to RM50 per card per month) is still a better choice.

ACCA Careers 2008

If you are in the finance and/or accounting profession, this information might be of your interest.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in Malaysia is organising the ACCA Careers 2008 job mart event in Kuala Lumpur, which provides the opportunity for ACCA members, affiliates and students to explore global and local employment all under one roof. Admission is free.

Here are the details:
Date: Saturday, 28 June 2008
Time: 11.00am - 17.30pm
Venue: Crowne Plaza Mutiara, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur

Apart from being a one-stop centre for employers to showcase job openings in their organisations, ACCA Careers 2008 will also serve as a one-stop centre for Members' Professional Development. Members will be able to obtain the latest updates on CPD requirements, PER and forum on the path to the top.

Click here for more information about ACCA Careers 2008.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

GPartEd the open source harddisk partition editor

The storage capacity of today's harddisk is normally huge, and we usually subdivided it into one or more storage partitions.

GPartEd (Gnome Partition Editor) is an industrial-strength open source application for manipulating the harddisk partitions, which includes creating, destroying, resizing, moving, checking and copying them and the filesystems on them.

When and why we need to use GPartEd?

  • When we plan to install another operating system in the computer for dual-booting, and need to allocate free partition space for the new operating system.
  • When one of the partition space is almost fully utilized, while other still have plenty of space, and we need to reorganize the disk usage by repartitioning.
  • When we want to copy data residing on harddisks and mirroring one partition with another (disk imaging).
  • When we want to remove a Linux partition in a dual-boot computer, and make that partition available to Windows. Note that the Windows Disk Management Tool doesn't recognise Linux partition, so you need to use 3rd party tools like GPartEd for this purpose.
Please be aware that if any problem occurs to the harddisk partition tables, data might be lost and difficult to recover (and sometimes non-recoverable). Honestly, if you don't understand what I'm talking about in this post, and you are unsure what a "partition" is actually mean, then this tools is not for you to play around with.

It is prudent and advisable to always make a backup of your harddisk with Clonezilla that I've introduced earlier before you make any changes to the partitions.

GPartEd is available in LiveCD format (boot from CDROM) and also LiveUSB format (boot from USB thumb drive). It can also be run from network on PXE server. You do not need to install anything into your harddisk in order to use it.

Click here to look for documentations of GPartEd. 2.4.1 is out

While the new 3.0 with new features and lots of improvement is still in beta testing, the stable version of 2.4.1 is now released. 2.4.1 includes a security fix, minor enhancements, and bug fixes to all its core components. The 2.4 version branch of fixed a number of security vulnerabilities and all users using version 2.3 or below should upgrade to 2.4.1 to fix up the addressed security issues.

Click here for the detailed Release Notes of 2.4.1.

Click here to go to the download page of 2.4.1.

Clonezilla the open source harddisk partition cloning solution

Partition cloning has been a handy tools for many computer techies and users ever since the emergence of a famous software named as Ghost in 1996. Ghost is still around nowadays under the umbrella of Symantec. On the other hand, Acronis has produced their competing True Image products and has gained much popularity too.

Partition cloning software is useful for many purposes, such as:

  • Backup and restore of the whole harddisk or partitions in the harddisk.
  • Provisioning of standard set of software by cloning the harddisk or partition image from existing computer to another.
  • Transferring data from one harddisk to another, eg. upgrade new harddisk to computer.
  • Deploy testing, benchmarking or R&D computers, whereby the harddisk will be wiped out and restored to original state after the project.
  • and many more...
Both Symantec Ghost and Acronis True Image are great tools, only that you need to purchase license for each of the computer that you're going to use them. There are other free and/or open source alternative solutions available, and I find Clonezilla developed by the National Center for High-Performance Computing (NCHC) in Taiwan is among the best.

There are 2 varieties of Clonezilla available, Clonezilla Live and Clonezilla Server Edition. Clonezilla Live is suitable for single machine backup and restore, while Clonezilla Server Edition is for massive deployment in corporate environment, whereby it can clone many computers simultaneously.

Multicast (a technology whereby a single image can be sent simultaneously to many machines without putting greater stress on the network than sending an image to a single machine) is supported in Clonezilla Server Edition. You can also remotely use it to save or restore a bunch of computers if PXE and Wake-on-LAN are supported.

Clonezilla is developed on Linux and based on a couple of open source projects such as DRBL, Partition Image, ntfsclone, and udpcast. You can boot from its live CD and use it directly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 5 balls of life that should be balanced

I would like to share with you the following training notes, which originated from the 172nd Commencement Address of Georgia Institute of Technology in 1996, by the former President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Brian G. Dyson.

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some 5 balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other 4 balls -- family, health, friends and spirit -- are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?

  • Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.
  • Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.
  • Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as they were your life, for without them, life is meaningless.
  • Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time you live ALL the days of your life.
  • Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.
  • Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us to each together.
  • Don't be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
  • Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly, and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.
  • Don't run though life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.
  • Don't forget, a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
  • Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.
  • Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.
Life is not a race, but a journey to be savoured each step of the way. Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery and Today is a gift: that's why we call it - The Present.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Apple iPhone 3G - faster speed, cheaper price

For your information, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has just announced the 3G version of iPhone in their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2008, San Francisco.

Two of the promising new key features brought by this phone are 3G technology and Maps with GPS. Downloading speed of iPhone 3G (using HSDPA) is 2-3 times faster than iPhone over 2.5G EDGE. With this 3G feature, you can also talk and browse at the same time.

For business users, it provides built-in support to Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, delivering push email, calendar, and contacts. For students and engineers, it also comes with a full-featured scientific calculator.

The iPhone 3G also has longer battery life than its predecessor. It promises a solid 5 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of 2G talk time, 5 hours of 3G Internet time, 6 hours of Wi-Fi Internet time, 7 hours of video playback, 24 hours of audio playback and 12.5 days standby time.

Jobs announced that this new iPhone 3G will launch in 22 countries on July 11, and will roll out to a total of 70 by the end of 2008. Despite being more feature rich, the iPhone 3G is surprisingly cheaper than its predecessor. In US, the 16GB version is priced at $299 and the 8GB version costs only $199.

It is hoped that we could probably see it in the coming CommunicAsia 2008 in Singapore.

Click here for more information about iPhone 3G.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The return of Russia with their "Vision 2020"

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev has been ambitious in the recent 12th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which is the premier international business event in the country.

In his speech, Medvedev addressed that Russia which is now in the 10th year of its economic boom, fuelled by soaring prices for its oil and gas exports, was in an ideal position to help solve the world financial crisis since it did not share the problems of other leading economies. Being resource rich in oil and gas (Russia has the world's largest natural gas reserves, the 2nd largest coal reserves and the 8th largest oil reserves) as well as food supplies (Russia is a leading global wheat producer), they are ready to position themselves to be global player in supporting the global community which currently having severe problem with these 2 commodities.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has taken up the heavy burden to settle the external debts left over by the former Union. It has gone through its hard time over the 90's, while the majority of the Asian countries were booming before the 1998 economic crisis. It was after 1998 that Russian economic reformation started to show result and brought recovery.

Over the past 10 years, Russia has benefited a lot from the rising oil prices, increased foreign investment, higher domestic consumption and greater political stability, which have bolstered its economic growth and enable it to prepay all the Soviet-era sovereign debts. Its foreign reserves also multifolded from $12 billion in 1999 to some $470 billion at the end of 2007 (the 3rd largest reserves in the world).

The Russian new energy wealth is funding billions of dollar in the infrastructure of St. Petersburg to eract an office tower taller than any in Europe today, a new international airport busier than any in Scandinavia today, and a cruise ship port with more berths than any cruise port of call in the world by 2020.

Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said they will become the world's 6th largest economy by the end of 2008, and aimed to be on the top 5 listing by 2020.

Their scientists also plan to launch a manned expedition to planet Mars by 2020. At the same time, they also planed to build a permanent base on the moon by 2015, and begin the industrial-scale mining of a rare fuel on the moon by 2020.

Russia is back on the international stage and wants to restore its sphere of influence. Will this be good or bad to the world? Will the Cold War re-emerge? What will be the role and influence of China, which is much stronger now than the previous Cold War time? Will the leadership role of the troubled America be challenged or replaced? Time will tell...

CommunicAsia Exhibition and Summit 2008 in Singapore

For years, CommunicAsia has been the largest international ICT and telecommunications tradeshow event held yearly in the Asia Pacific region. This year, it will be held in Singapore on the coming 17-20 Jun 2008 at Singapore Expo.

With the theme "Convergence, New Technologies & Opportunities", this event is expected to attract the participation of more than 60,000 ICT industry players from all over the world.

Among the leading edge technology to feature in this international event are:

  • 3.5G / Long Term Evolution / 4G
  • Fixed Mobile Convergence
  • Next Generation Network
  • Enterprise Applications / Solutions for Financial Services
  • Enterprise Applications / Solutions for Government
  • Enterprise Applications / Solutions for Hospitality / Retail
  • Satellite
  • Security
Admission for visitors is free, and although the online registration period is already over, you can register on the actual event days (17-20 Jun 2008, 10.30am to 6.00pm) with your business card at Singapore Expo.

Click here to download the brochure of CommunicAsia 2008.

Who Moved My Cheese? - days after petrol price hike

I remember 10 years ago, Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote an interesting best selling book about change management which has earned a great global attention and sold millions of copies.

This renown parable is "Who Moved My Cheese?", a story of 4 characters (2 mices and 2 humans) living in a Maze who face unexpected change when they discover their Cheese has disappeared.

In fact, this book has spawned many variations of related topics written by the same author as well as other authors.

In the parable, Sniff and Scurry are a pair of mices, and Hem and Haw are 2 little people. The 4 of them live in the Maze and look for cheese, and each of them have different mindset, especially between Hem and Haw. If you haven't read the story yet, I strongly encourage you to read the book and find out what happened to them.

For those who have finished reading the story, it is wise to remember those “Handwriting on the Wall” , which is the essence of the parable after all:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move.

Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old.

Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese.

Move With The Cheese.

Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Therefore, we should never counted on the "cheese supply" to be constant. We all know that the worldwide petroleum supplies is limited but the usage is incrementing. We also aware that within the next couple of years, Malaysia will soon become a petroleum importer from the current exporter status. And now we have already feel the hike in petrol price and realise that the good old day of cheap petrol price might not come back again.

If you are still crying, protesting, annoying at the petrol price hike like Hem, you should also realise that doing so doesn't help much. Move on, try your very best to optimize your earning power, especially in the area to make your money work hard for you by growing itself through wise investment. Life has never been easy nowadays, remember the threat of formation of M-Shape Society has been accelerating, and it is only "when you move beyond your fear, you feel free".

Gambatte! to you and me. Gambatte! to all of us.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Result of ZDNet Asia IT Salary Benchmark Survey 2008

ZDNet Asia had conducted an online survey between late-2007 and early-2008 to gain insights into Asia's IT workforce and salary trends. The survey drew 21,635 respondents from sectors such as government, healthcare, IT, services, telecommunications, legal and finance, and across seven Asian economies: Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Based on the survey findings, the average annual IT salary in Malaysia was RM72,144 (US$22,379), with those in IT management commanding a high of RM113,489 (US$35,204). Project managers on average drew an annual pay of RM73,912 (US$22,928), while systems developers earned RM56,393 (US$17,493).

Tech professionals in the legal and finance sector had the most attractive annual salary (US$25,188) followed by those in IT, Web and telecom (US$22,939). The annual salary for IT workers in the media, marketing and sales (US$17,444), as well as the government, education and health sector (US$20,037), were significantly below the industry average.

Compared with the rest of the region, Malaysia's average annual IT salary lagged behind that of Hong Kong (US$57,303), Singapore (US$44,858) and Thailand (US$24,108). The country, however, is significantly higher when compared to India (US$13,864), the Philippines (US$12,425) and Indonesia (US$7,709).

In Singapore, IT professionals with PhDs pulled in the highest average annual salary of S$96,805 (US$70,958), followed by respondents with a Master's degree who earned an average yearly pay of S$79,635 (US$58,373). The survey also confirmed common beliefs that bigger companies have the capacity to offer better paychecks, compared to smaller organizations.

The overall average annual salary for Hong Kong was HK$445,817 (US$57,109). Those working in legal and finance had the highest average annual salary at HK$492,917 (US$63,143), while ICT employees in the government, education and health sector have the lowest average annual salary of HK$395,619 (US$50,679).

Click here to go to ZDNet's article that will lead you to the detailed country-specific salary analysis (with statistical graphs) as well as download of the analysis reports (in PDF files).

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New electricity tariff from 1 July 2008

As part of the restructuring exercise of fuel subsidy scheme in Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has announced the new electricity tariff rate.

TNB has also setup a Bill Calculator webpage on their website for you to calculate the new electricity bill amount and the difference to the old tariff rate (the additional amount you need to fork out).

For domestic electricity, here are the differences:

Consumption (KWh)Old Bill (RM)New Bill (RM)Difference

Therefore, if your average monthly electricity consumption is above 300 KWh, it is wise for you to plug in a Power Saver to an electric socket in your house, which can effectively help you to save on electricity bill as well as stabilize the voltage in your house.

Click here to download the TNB's booklet on new tariff for all categories - domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, mining, etc.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

DKSH 2-days only warehouse sale is back again!

The DKSH Warehouse Sale is back again!

Date: 7-8 June 2008
Time: 10am - 5pm
Location: DKSH Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Look out for great savings on the following items:

  • Casio cameras & musical keyboards
  • Morgan electrical appliances
  • Rubbermaid household products
  • Timex watches
  • Citizen clocks
  • Ellgy personal and healthcare products
  • Rosken skin care products
  • Colgate-Palmolive household and toiletry products
  • ... and many more!

Yahoo! releases Address Book API following Google & Microsoft

When Google pushed out their Contacts API in March 2008, it was called "the most in-demand API on the web that hadn't yet existed". Those APIs are important because they allow socially aware applications to offer users the ability to import information from their address books without having to worry about giving up their password to a third-party site. The application seeking the information also no longer needs to employ any screen scraping to gather information.

Soon after that, Microsoft also released the beta version of their Windows Live Contacts API in March 2008. In addition to a full contact management interface for a Windows Live user's address book, the Windows Live Contacts API provides a view to a subset of the Contact data for the purposes of sending Invitations.

Now, Yahoo! has also joint the bandwagon to launch their Address Book API in June 2008. Similar to Google and Microsoft, Yahoo! opted to employ their own authentication technology in the API, namely BBAuth. They intend to supports OAuth in the future, though, which will make it easier for developers to use the API.

The Yahoo! Address Book API is a JSON/XML interface for accessing and updating the Yahoo! Address Book using a web service. It can be used to look up addresses for auto-completion of emails, to add addresses for future shipping information, to obtain unique identifiers for network invites, or to sync with another address book.

Click here to go to the webpage of the Yahoo! Address Book API.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Restructuring of fuel subsidy scheme in Malaysia

Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced the restructred fuel subsidy schemes today.

Here are the cabinet's decisions on the subsidy of petrol and diesel:

  • Effective 5 June 2008, RON97 petrol price rises by 78 sen from RM1.92 to RM2.70 per litre. RON92 petrol price also rises by 78 sen from RM1.88 to RM2.62 per litre.
  • At the same time, diesel price also rises by RM1.00 from RM1.58 to RM2.58 per litre.
  • For personal vehicles up to 2000 c.c. and also trucks and jeeps up to 2500 c.c., an annual cash rebate of RM625 will be given.
  • For motorcycles up to 250 c.c., the annual cash rebate will be RM150.
  • The cash rebate will be given from 1 July 2008 onwards in the form of Money Order collectible in Pos Office to road tax renewed within 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009.
  • For personal vehicles above 2000 c.c., there will be a reduction of RM200 in road tax.
  • For motorcycles above 250 c.c., the reduction in road tax is RM50.

Other than the above, decisions have also been made which affect the following areas:

  • Diesel subsidy for logistic transport, vessels and fishermen.
  • Gas price to electricity producers and for industrial usage.
  • New electricity tariff effective 1 July 2008: no change for household with monthly bill less than RM43.60, else there will be a 18% residential tariff increase. 26% tariff increase for commercial and industrial regions.
  • Windfall tax for Independent Power Producer (IPP) and Palm Oil Producer (POP).
  • Effective 1 July 2008m threshold for 5% service tax to restauran outside hotels risen from RM0.5 million to RM3 million.

Click here for the official government announcement.

invisibleSHIELD the scratch-proof protection film for gadgets

If you have any handphones, digital cameras, gaming devices (such as PSP), iPods, laptops, media players, PDAs, watches, ... and all gadgets with a display screen, you will most probably get a casing, skin, cover or plastic to protect the screen from scratches or cracks.

invisibleSHIELD is a patented, military grade, durable, transparent protection film that can really protect such gadgets, unlike most of the ordinary "plastic film" that we applied on the screen of the gadgets which in fact is very weak and can't do much protection at all.

This urethane plastic film has its origins in the U.S. military, where it was used to protect the leading edges of helicopter blades from wear and tear while traveling hundreds of miles per hour. It comes with unique properties that allow it to provide self-healing qualities and unparalleled abrasion resistance.

invisibleSHIELD makes available a variety of pre-cut protection film specifically tailored for thousands of electronic gadgets currently selling in the market, which can fit tightly and perfectly on them.

It comes with a lifetime warranty and 30 days money-back guarantee. So, if it ever does wear or scratch, you can get its replacement for free, for the lifetime of the protected gadget.

You can see it in action with the video below:

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