Thursday, July 31, 2008

National Investors Symposium (NIS) 2008

The National Investors Symposium (NIS) is an annual event gathering stock analysts, traders and listed companies to exchange insights about the latest developments in the stock market.

This year’s NIS will be held on Sept 7 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, bearing the theme “Planting Your Seeds of Wealth”, because the symposium will provide investors with the information necessary to handpick the best stocks for investment and harvest their profits at the optimum time.

NIS 2008 will achieve this objective by showcasing Fundamental Analysis (FA) and Technical Analysis (TA) techniques to enable investors to make the best decisions for building a winning portfolio.

A special team of panellists consisting of industry insiders, fundamental and technical analysts has been assembled to generate a rich discussion with participants of NIS 2008. Among them are:
  • Lim Chee Sing (Head of Research, RHB Research Institute)
  • Justin Tan (Market Strategist, ChartNexus Malaysia)
  • Ng Ee Hwa (Chief Trainer, ChartNexus Singapore)
  • Jay Chia (Market Strategist, ChartNexus)
Click here for more information about the National Investors Symposium (NIS) 2008.

Handphone Carnival @ SACC Mall and Metro Point

There will be another handphone event coming soon, after the last June 2008. This time, the organizer promises to bring in more brand participant, more model, and much more goodies. Again there will be up to 70% discount offered during the event. It is hope that there will be improvement from the past event to bring more excitement and benefit to us.

This upcoming Handphone Carnival will take place in 2 different locations at 2 different time periods.

Location 1: Shah Alam City Center (SACC) Mall, Shah Alam
Date: 31 July - 3 August 2008
Time: 10am - 10pm

Location 2: Metro Point, Kajang
Date: 7 August - 10 August 2008
Time: 10am - 10pm

Click here for more information,
including the location maps and a downloadable Bluetooth discount voucher.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How the OPR can affect the economic climate

As mentioned earlier, Bank Negara signals their monetary policy stance by changing the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR). How can this change affect the economic climate in the country?

Well, we are awared that the OPR serves as the primary reference rate in determining other market rates, such as the Overnight Interbank Rate (OIR), Base Lending Rate (BLR), deposit rate, etc.

If the OPR increases, so do the other rates. This will cause borrowing cost to increase as interest expenses become higher. Business and investment activities might become less aggressive, investment institutions might allocate more funds in the money market than in the stock market. People are more encouraged to deposit their money with bank and earn interest. Cost of ownership of house and car will increase as the interest rate increased.

Higher interest rate could also attract short term foreign fund (hot money) to flow in, as the multi-national institutions can earn more interest by putting their fund in countries with higher interest rate. This will in turn strengtern the currency exchange rate of the country. When the currency rate is strong, cost of imports goods will be lower.

Theoritically, all these chain reactions will eventually slow down the inflation rate in the country.

If the OPR decreases, the opposite will happen. As interest rate decreases, borrowing cost will be lower, and this encourages more aggressive business and investment activities by leveraging on liabilities. Banking instittutions need to be more aggressive and competitive in order to maintain their profit with the lowered interest rate, and this will cause getting loan from bank become easier. People are discouraged to leave their money with the bank as interest earned become too little, and they are more tending to use their money in buying properties, insurances, unit trusts, shares, etc. The automotive industry will also be benefited with the lower interest rate.

If the interest rate is comparatively lower than other countries, this could cause short term foreign fund to flow out, as the multi-national institutions can earn more interest by putting their fund in countries with higher interest rate. This will in turn weakening the currency exchange rate of the country. When the currency rate is weak, cost of imports goods will be higher.

Theoritically, all these chain reactions will eventually accelerate the inflation rate in the country.

Therefore, Bank Negara need to be extremely careful in changing the OPR, as a wrong move will be disasterous to the economy of the country, and a good move will be benefitial to the economy of the country.

About the Overnight Interbank Rate (OIR)

I mentioned about the Overnight Interbank Rate (OIR) in the article about the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR). Let's see what is actually meant by OIR.

Everyday, the banking institutions will transfer money to each other on behalf of their clients as well as on their own account. At the end of each working day, a bank may have a surplus or shortage of funds. Banks that have surplus funds may lend them to or deposit them with other banks, who borrow from them in the interbank market. The banks can also borrow this short term fund from Bank Negara as well.

The OIR is the overnight interest charged by the lending banks or Bank Negara to the borrowing banks.

About the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR)

Yesterday night, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM, central bank of Malaysia) has again decided to keep the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) unchanged at 3.50%. This position has been maintained since 26 April 2006 after rising by 25 basis points from the previous 3.25%.

You might want to know exactly what is OPR? Why is it important? How does it affect us?

On 23 April 2004, BNM introduced a New Monetary Operating Procedures with a new interest rate framework. Under this New Monetary Operating Procedures, the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) will be the indicator of the monetary policy stance of Bank Negara. The OPR will have a dual role:

  • As a signalling device to indicate the monetary policy stance;
  • As a target rate for the day-to-day liquidity operations of the Central Bank.

Any change in the monetary policy stance would be signalled by a change in the OPR. It will serve as the primary reference rate in determining other market rates, such as the Overnight Interbank Rate (OIR), Base Lending Rate (BLR), deposit rate, etc.

Liquidity management of Bank Negara will aim at ensuring the appropriate level of liquidity that would influence the OIR to move close to the OPR. Liquidity operations will also be conducted at other maturities but without targeting a specific interest rate level as well. Therefore, interbank interest rates at other maturities would be market determined, reflecting overall demand and supply conditions in the money market as well as interest rate expectations.

To minimize excessive volatility in the overnight rate, Bank Negara specifies a corridor around the OPR, which set at ± 25 basis points around the OPR. A standing facility is introduced to ensure that the overnight interbank rate fluctuates within this corridor by providing a lending facility at the upper limit of the operating band and a deposit facility at the lower limit of the operating band. The MPC will announce the OPR on a quarterly basis, unless there is emergency change in the monetary policy stance, whereby additional OPR statement will be issued.

With the OPR set at 3.50%, the upper limit will be 3.75% and lower limit will be 3.25%. Interestingly, you might have noticed that the BLR of banks is set 3% more than this upper limit, and short term fixed deposit rate is set close to the lower limit, while long term fixed deposit rate (1 year or above) is set close to the upper limit.

In fact, under the new framework, each banking institution can announce its own BLR based on its cost structure and business strategies. Banking institutions are also no longer be subject to the maximum spread of 2.5 percentage points above BLR. As a result, you might have noticed that the BLR of certain bank is a little bit different from the majority counterparties.

In summary, the OIR will move in accordance to the OPR. As a result, the banks' BLR and deposit rates are also expected to move accordingly.

When the OPR is low, more money is released to flow into the market, and expected to stimulate the economic activities. On the other hand, when the OPR is high, more money will flow back to Bank Negara, and expected to slow down the economic activities. This is seen as a way to control the inflation rate.

Friday, July 25, 2008

About Cloud Computing

If you are in the IT world, you'd probably heard about Cloud Computing, which is apparently a buzzword frequently mentioned by Gartner since 2007, and spread over the global IT industry nowadays. It is emerging at the convergence of 3 major trends nowadays, namely service orientation, virtualization and standardization of computing through the Internet.

Gartner defines Cloud Computing as a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” using Internet technologies to multiple external customers. This term derives from the normal practice in network drawing whereby the Internet is always presented as a cloud symbol in the diagram.

With Cloud Computing, the computing resources will be consolidated from various data center locations linked up together in the cloud, and will be delivered to consumers on a service subscription basis, allow access from anywhere and provide economies of scale. The concept is similar to utility services that we all are familiar with, such as the electricity.

Consumers of Cloud Computing services purchase the required computing capacity on-demand, and are not generally concerned with the underlying technologies used to achieve the increase in server capability. The types of IT services that can be provided through a cloud are wide-reaching, and have now expanded past web applications to include storage, raw computing, or access to any number of specialized services.

Notable Cloud Computing service providers include:

  • Amazon - Amazon Web Services
  • Google - Apps engine
  • IBM - Blue Cloud
  • Nirvanix - Storage Delivery Network
Redhat and Elastra also provide cloud computing based on the Amazon Web Services.

To date, there are still a lot of confusion around this buzzword, and Gartner has clarified the following to be myths about Cloud Computing and should not be taken as true:
  • Myth No. 1: Cloud computing is an architecture or an infrastructure.
  • Myth No. 2: Every vendor will have a different cloud.
  • Myth No. 3: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the cloud.
  • Myth No. 4: Cloud computing is a brand new revolution.
  • Myth No. 5: All remote computing is cloud computing.
  • Myth No. 6: The Internet and the Web are the cloud.
  • Myth No. 7: Everything will be in the cloud.
  • Myth No. 8: The cloud eliminates private networks.
Cloud Computing is a promising approach for highly scalable integrated computing service. It is still in its early stage now, and might take a few years to be matured.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OSIM OS-3200 iCare 200 Eye Massager

I redeemed this OSIM OS-3200 iCare 200 Eye Massager with my Citibank Rewards Points recently. The delivery was very efficient, as it reached my house within 2 days time right after the redemption was made through Citibank Online website.

The function of this electronic eye mask is to massage and exercise the eyes. I find it effective in relieving the eye strain and tiredness.

It is very lightweight, easy to carry, and operates with the remote control with 4 AA size Alkaline batteries. It doesn't use household electricity and doesn't have a power plug.

Its 3 main massaging features are: air pressure, heat and vibration. It also contains magnetic nodes said to be able to improve circulation around the eye area and enhancing the massage effectiveness.

There are 4 modes of air pressure, 2 modes of heat selection, 6 modes of vibration. It comes with 1 automatic massage program, and 6 manual massage modes. Selectable massage time are 5, 10 and 15 minutes. I find the default 15 minutes massage time is quite long. If you are impassion, better select a shorter time period.

I have also seen this product appeared in Maybank TreatsPoints reward list before. If you plan to redeem your points, probably can consider this as well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How MYR has performed after de-peg from USD

Today is 21 July 2008, the 3rd anniversary after Bank Negara Malaysia (the central bank of Malaysia) announced the Ringgit de-peg from US Dollar on 21 July 2005.

To recap, during the the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, when the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced the impose of capital controls to the country, Malaysia Ringgit was pegged at 3.80 to the US Dollar in September 1998 after plunged by 60%.

The capital control measures were then gradually lifted several years later. Ringgit was de-peg a few hours after China announced the de-peg of Yuan to US Dollar on the same day.

So how has the Ringgit performed now, after 3 years from the date of de-peg?

The graph below shows the foreign exchange (forex) history of Ringgit and Yuan against US Dollar since 21 July 2005. It shows that the appreciation of Yuan is pretty steady, while the appreciation of Ringgit is more fluctuated. We can also notice that the Ringgit depreciated slightly since the recent election held on 8 March 2008 which caused some political instability as the ruling government become weaker in power.

Many people are also concerned about the forex rate with Singapore Dollar, and here is the graph.

Singapore Dollar has appreciated from the bottom of 2.22 in 23 May 2007 all the way to 2.39 in last week closing, and the appreciation rate of Singapore Dollar to US Dollar is all the way faster than Ringgit. This is because Singapore is
making use of a faster rise in the Singapore dollar to curb their inflation.

Below is the percentage change of the Ringgit forex rate against some major currencies, between the date of 21 July 2005 and 18 July 2008:

Hong Kong Dollar (HKD): +17.56%
US Dollar (USD): +17.12%
South Korean Won (KRW): +14.71%
Japanese Yen (JPY): +12.62%
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR): +9.72%
New Zealand Dollar (NZD): +5.10%
British Pound (GBP): +2.85%

China Yuan (CNY): -1.55%
Canadian Dollar (CAD): -2.92%
Singapore Dollar (SGD): -4.28%
Russian Ruble (RUB): -4.75%
Thai Baht (THB): -5.75%
Swiss Franc (CHF): -6.26%
Philippine Peso (PHP): -7.00%
Australian Dollar (AUD): -7.79%
Euro (EUR): -9.75%

A simple judgement to the performance of Ringgit is to consider the imports and exports of Malaysia. The best condition is for Ringgit to depreciate against currency of exports-partners (so that Malaysian goods become cheaper to them) and to appreciate against currency of import-partners (so that their goods become cheaper in Malaysia).

Here are the top 8 exports-partners of Malaysia as reported in 2007:

  • US 15.6% (RM94.52 billion)
  • Singapore 14.6% (RM88.51 billion)
  • Japan 9.1% (RM55.24 billion)
  • China 8.8% (RM53.04 billion)
  • Thailand 5.0% (RM29.98 billion)
  • Hong Kong 4.6% (RM27.97 billion)
  • Netherlands 3.9% (RM23.60 billion)
  • South Korea 3.8% (RM23.03 billion)

And here are the top 8 import-partners of Malaysia as reported in 2007:
  • Japan 13.0% (RM65.54 billion)
  • China 12.9% (RM64.90 billion)
  • Singapore 11.5% (RM57.96 billion)
  • US 10.8% (RM54.69 billion)
  • Taiwan 5.7% (RM28.71 billion)
  • Thailand 5.3% (RM27.01 billion)
  • South Korea 4.9% (RM24.93 billion)
  • Germany 4.6% (RM23.42 billion)

Since Malaysia export Market still rely heavily on US, it is not favourable for the Ringgit to appreciate too fast against US Dollar. The depreciation against Singapore Dollar is OK since exports value to them is more than the imports. The appreciation against Japanese Yen is OK too, since imports value from them is more than the exports. However, Ringgit should follow the long-term strategy of slightly ahead of China Yuan, and current situation is unfavourable, since Malaysia imports from China is more than exports.

All in all, so far the Ringgit performance is intact and not too bad.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is it wise to change your phone plan to Lets Talk?

I remember when TM first introduced their Let's Talk plan, nobody is interested because we felt that for most scenario, we'd end up having to pay more than maintaining the conventional home fixed line subscription.

Here is the comparison:

Home fixed line subcription:
Monthly rental: RM26.00
Local call: 4 sen/min (minimum 8 sen/call)
National call (within 50km): peak: 10 sen/50 sec, non-peak: 10 sen/60 sec
National call (within 150km): peak: 10 sen/20 sec, non-peak: 10 sen/40 sec
National call (exceed 150km): peak: 10 sen/7 sec, non-peak: 10 sen/14 sec
Handphone call (same area): peak: 10 sen/20 sec, non-peak: 10 sen/30 sec
Handphone call (other area): peak: 10 sen/8.6 sec, non-peak: 10 sen/15 sec

* Peak hours for national call: 7 am - 6.59 pm
* Non-peak hours for national call: 7 pm - 6.59 am
* Peak hours for handphone call: 9 am - 8.59 pm
* Non-peak hours for handphone call: 9 pm - 8.59 am

Previous Let's Talk 38 plan (obsoleted):
Monthly fee: RM38.00
Local call: free 500 min, thereafter 4 sen/min
National call: free 60 min (inclusive 20 min to mobile), thereafter 25 sen/min
Call to Celcom: 33 sen/min
Call to other mobile: 38 sen/min

Previous Let's Talk 68 plan (obsoleted):
Monthly fee: RM68.00
Local call: free for unlimited calls
National call: free 120 min (inclusive 30 min to mobile), thereafter 25 sen/min
Call to Celcom: 30 sen/min
Call to other mobile: 35 sen/min

Later, TM has revised their Let's Talk plan to a better rate as follow:

Current Let's Talk 38 plan:
Monthly fee: RM38.00
Local call: free for unlimited calls
National call: free 60 min, thereafter 18 sen/min
Handphone call: 30 sen/min

Current Let's Talk 68 plan:
Monthly fee: RM68.00
Local call: free for unlimited calls
National call: free unlimited calls
Handphone call: 25 sen/min

As a result, we can see that the Let's Talk plan is much better than before.

So, is it wise for you to change your home telephone plan to Let's Talk?

If your line is solely used for Streamyx Internet access, and you hardly make any call from your home phone, you'd better stay with the existing fixed line subscription.

If you make calls or faxes out from your home phone, and your average monthly phone bill charges is more than RM38, it could be wise for you to switch over to the Let's Talk 38 plan.

If majority of your calls from home phone is national or to handphone, and your average monthly phone bill charges is more than RM68, it could be wise for you to switch over to the Let's Talk 68 plan.

There is another Let's Talk 108 Plan, which provides substantial IDD discount (up to 80% off) and is suitable for those who makes a lot of international calls and phone bill charges is always more than RM108.

With the new Let's Talk plan, now we can see the savings and the rationale to switch over.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Send a cake in the birthday card to your friends

Wonder how you can mail a 3D cake by post to your friends and relatives?

Pigeon Card produces fancy birthday cards that can convert into 3D objects, such as cake, singer on stage, Formula 1 race car, alarm clock, etc. The video below demonstrates how it works.

The recipients would most probably put your card on his/her working table and remember you always.


This article is part of a link exchange activity with KC Lau's blog.
You can also get this new birthday card plus a link for FREE from KC Lau who blogs about personal finance.

New cool feature in Blogger (Blogspot) for blogrolling

I just noticed this new cool feature in Google's Blogger (a.k.a. Blogspot) today, which is called the Blog List. Now you can see this new thing in the side bar of my blog too, under the Blogrolls section.

Apparently it is an enhanced version of the existing Link List feature, able to show more details about the linked item, including the title of most recent article, date of last update, snippet of the most recent article, blog icon, etc. You can sort the listing alphabetically or based on most recently updated status.

The Blog List works well for any page that has an RSS or Atom feed, so we can get creative to link to blogs, news sites, podcasts, Twitter streams, search results, or anything else with a feed. It is also able to import subscriptions from Google Reader.

Pretty cool isn't it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Super Home Ideas 2008 @ MidValley

There will be a home living and lifestyle event namely Super Home Ideas 2008 Exhibition to be held in MidValley Exhibition Centre (MVEC) this coming 24-27 July 2008 (10.30am - 9.00pm).

Admission to this expo covering an area of 128,300 sq.ft. is free. There will be over 350 booths of local and international exhibitors, and expected to attract about 40,000 visitors.

Among the attraction of this 4 days event are:

  • Seminar, Workshop & Demonstration
  • Home Property Crime Prevention Talks
  • Organic Living Pavilion
  • Kids World Pavilion
  • Home E - Consumer Pavilion
  • Pet World Pavilion
  • Free Decor Interior Advice
  • Better Living on Green Street
  • Discover Condo Living Adventure
  • Tour In House Fitness Centre
  • Experience Healthy Living
  • Super House Reno Gallery
  • Antique Gallery
  • and more at the expo...

You can click here to pre-register for your visit to this event.

Changing Jobs in 2008: It Pays to be Gray

ExecuNet, an interactive membership organization for effective career management, has just released their exclusive 16th Annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report.

Innovation, agility and execution are the key watchwords for both the employee and employer. For year 2008, a growth of above 10% within the executive employment market is still expected by search firm and corporate human resource professionals, albeit at a slower pace with quite a lot of uncertainty.

Among the predicted high-growth industries for the year are:

  • High Tech + Defense/Aerospace
  • Healthcare
  • Business Services
  • Pharmaceutical/Medical/Biotech
  • Energy/Utilities

Executives of all ages expect large increases in their pay if they change jobs this year. Overall, executive pay is expected to increase by 6.2% in 2008. But average pay increases for executives who change jobs are expected to increase by well over 10%, regardless of the executive's age or experience.

The complete report is made available to all ExecuNet members, and you can also click here to download the 2008 Executive Job Market Intelligence Summary Report.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Free for life platinum credit cards

Platinum credit cards are nice looking, great to have, provides higher credit limit, lets you enjoy better customer services, and more. If you earn a 5 digits monthly income, or at the high end of the 4 digits monthly income, you might want to have this type of credit card residing in your wallet.

However, the annual fee of platinum credit cards is normally much more higher than gold credit cards, and easily cost you a few hundred ringgit. The RHB VISA Infinite even charges you RM1,000 annually for that. It would be nice if the annual fee can be waived for a lifetime without any condition set.

To avoid the hassle with the annual fee, you might probably want to look for a free for life (ffl) platinum credit card, if you intend to apply for one.

The list below are some of the free for life (ffl) platinum credit cards issued in Malaysia, which won't charge you for any annual fee:

  • CIMB PETRONAS Platinum MasterCard (provides cash rebate on spending, also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • CIMB Platinum Business MasterCard (provides cash rebate on spending, targetted to corporates)
  • CIMB VISA Platinum (also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • CIMB Mastercard Platinum (also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • CIMB Direct Access MasterCard & VISA Platinum (targetted for graduates and professionals, also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • UOB Lady's Visa Platinum (targetted for ladies, also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • UOB Lady's MasterCard Platinum (targetted for ladies, also ffl to supplementary cards)
  • EON Bank Platinum MasterCard

So, which one do you intend to take? Or which one you've already taken?

Monday, July 14, 2008

25 days to go for Beijing 2008 Olympics

I believe most of us are aware that the Beijing 2008 Olympics (a.k.a. Games of the XXIX Olympiad) will be held from 8-24 August 2008. It is now only 25 days more to go.

The theme is this international multi-sport event is as below:

"One World One Dream" expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind. In spite of the differences in colours, languages and races, we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games, and together we seek for the ideal of Mankind for peace.

The 5 official mascots of the event, Fuwa embody the natural characteristics of 4 of China's most popular animals -- the Fish (Beibei), the Panda (Jingjing), the Tibetan Antelope (Yingying), the Swallow (Nini) -- and the Olympic Flame (Huanhuan).

When you put their names together -- Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni -- they say "Welcome to Beijing," offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors for the Olympic Games.

Wishes all the best to Beijing and all the athletes, may the force be with you!

Conducting effective meeting

Having meetings is common in the business world. However, from my personal experience, a lot of meetings were held in a non-effective way. Sometimes, they are not productive too. The time wasted in those meeting could be very costly, imagine how much wages or salary were paid to the participants sitting in the meeting room during the time of meeting, and what if they were doing other more productive business activities instead of sitting in the meeting room.

I learnt some ways to conduct more effective meeting. I would define an "effective meeting" as a meeting that:

  • meets the objectives and goals of having the meeting
  • produces fruitful outcome and action plans
  • lively discussion among the participants (not one-way communication from chairperson only)
  • every participants are clear about their role and follow up actions
  • used as little time as possible

In order to achieve an effective meeting, here are some guidelines.

1. Meeting is more for discussion than announcement

A lot of people like to conduct meeting just for announcement. Those meetings are of one-way communication. I believe most of the time announcements can be made in the form of memo, circular, email, etc.

Meeting can be held to discuss about the announcement, to ensure everybody understand the message clearly. The announcement should be made before the meeting. If calling up a meeting is just for announcing something, and that announcement is not something very significant or impacting, most of the time you might find that those meetings might not be necessary at all.

2. All participants should clear about what will be discussed in the meeting

It is a good practice to disseminate meeting agenda and related documents prior to the meeting. All participants should get well prepared for the meeting by understanding the discussion topics and get ready the material for discussions.

In this way, supporting documents can be well prepared and presented during the meeting. The discussion could be more lively and get everybody involvement as everyone already aware about the discussion topics and ready for their involvement.

3. When discussion has gone off-topic, chairperson need to control the situation

When discussion has gone off-topic, or there is a long debate within certain participants that couldn't be easily solved on the spot, the chairperson should control the situation and ensure that the time is managed as planned in the agenda.

Most of the time, it is wise to schedule a separate meeting for those discussions, or let the person involved to resolve the matter among themselves later, instead of wasting other participants' precious time in the meeting room.

4. Discussion should come to mutual conclusion and action items

The meeting is not effective if discussion produce nothing. The discussions should have outcome which is well minuted. The minutes of meeting should be disseminated to all the participants shortly after the meeting. Even for informal meetings, it is wise to produce a "disucssion notes" to record down the outcomes and action plans.

5. When the planned time on the agenda is over, get participants' input about extension

It is very irresponsible for the chairperson to let the meeting time drag on, which might affect the time schedule of every participants in the meeting room. When the allocated time is over, and meeting suppose to adjourne, but the discussions were not finished yet, the chairperson should get the participants' input for time extension, proposed new adjourne time, possible continued discussion at another time, etc.

Especially when it reaches the lunch or dinner hour, the meeting should decide if a short break is required for participants to go and eat, or food to be brought into the meeting room, etc. The chairperson should not just let the meeting continue on with hungry participants.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Guinness World Record for Firefox 3 downloads

Mozilla has set a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of software downloads in 24 hours.

When they released the Firefox 3 web browser on June 17 2008, which is known as the Firefox Download Day, an amount of 8,002,530 downloads were recorded.

Firefox 3 promises exciting new features, including one-click bookmarking, the smart location bar and lightning fast performance. Other features include built-in spell checking, session restore and full zoom. It also offers more than 5,000 add-ons, including Shareaholic which allows you to share, bookmark, and e-mail web pages quickly via a wide array of web 2.0 social networking sites. Shareaholic currently supports: digg,, facebook, foxiewire, friendfeed, google bookmarks, google reader, healthranker, kaboodle, magnolia, mixx, myspace, pownce, reddit, simpy, stumbleupon, streakr, truemors, tumblr, twitter, ycombinator, bzzster, etc.

To date, more than 28 million downloads for Firefox 3 were made, and the counter keeps counting. You can click here to see the counter.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Windows XP patch screwed up Internet connectivity with ZoneAlarm

Just now, the Automatic Updates in my PC downloaded several patches for the Windows XP operating system, which require my confirmation to install them, and need to restart the PC after installation.

After the restart, I was unable to connect to the Internet anymore. I couldn't contact with the mail server and also couldn't browse the web. However, I found that I could still resolve domain names and perform the "ping" action. This mean the Internet line is still up and running, but somehow the outgoing TCP connections are blocked somewhere.

I disabled the ZoneAlarm firewall, and the Internet connection was back to normal. So, the problem is dealing with ZoneAlarm.

I enabled back the ZoneAlarm function, and looked into the log of ZoneAlarm firewall. Whenever I made an outgoing TCP connection, it is blocked by ZoneAlarm.

This problem is solved after I set the Internet zone security level in ZoneAlarm from High to Medium.

Then, I found out from ZoneAlarm User Forum that this problem is actually caused by the KB951748 Microsoft Update, which suppose to fix up the security flaws in Windows Domain Name System (DNS). This fix has changed some kernel file that ZoneAlarm is working with, therefore causing the problem.

If you are also having the same problem, you can try my workaround method as mentioned above, or you can try to uninstall the KB951748 security fix from the Windows Add/Remove Programs control panel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Btrfs the new generation Linux file system

Todays storage system is scaling up from gigabytes to terabytes to petabytes all the way to exabytes. As a result, file systems need to scale in their ability to address and manage large storage, and also in their ability to detect, repair and tolerate errors in the data stored on the disk.

Announced by Chris Mason of Oracle in 2007, Btrfs (pronounced as "Butter FS") is a new generation of copy on write, snapshoting file system for Linux aims to replace the ext3 file system (the most commonly used file system in Linux nowadays) while removing a number of its limitations, particularly with respect to file size and total file system size.

The distinctive features of Btrfs include:

  • Extent based file storage (264 maximum file size)
  • Space-efficient packing of small files and indexed directories
  • Dynamic inode allocation (no maximum number of files set at file system creation time)
  • Writable snapshots
  • Subvolumes (separate internal filesystem roots)
  • Object-level mirroring and striping
  • Checksums on data and metadata (multiple algorithms available)
  • Strong integration with device mapper for multiple device support
  • Online filesystem check and very fast offline filesystem check
  • Efficient incremental backup and file system mirroring
Btrfs is licensed under the GPL and open for contribution from anyone. Currently it is still under heavy development, with Version 1.0 planned to release by 4th quarter of 2008.

Here are some of the benefits of Btrfs:
  • Support for large storage, with maximum file size up to 16 EiB, maximum number of files is 264 and maximum volume size is 16 EiB.
  • Ultra fast copy-on-write system which is capable of quickly creating snapshots of the state of the filesystem at any time.
  • Online resizing possible to change the size of the file system while it is mounted and busy, such as shrinking the file system.
  • Storage pools enabling the file system to span multiple devices.
So how can you be benefited from this new generation of file system? Perhaps you can get a faster Internet search result, more reliable banking data, and more robust stock exchange system. (Remember what happened to Bursa Malaysia on 3 July 2008 when their system faced a storage system faulty?)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mastercard Malaysia Mega Sale Promotion 2008

If you have a Mastercard, be it credit card, debit card, prepaid card or Electronic card, and none of your immediate family members is employee of Mastercard, paticipating banks, auditors and/or advertising agents of Mastercard, every swipe of your Mastercard done within Malaysia between 5 July 2008 to 1 September 2008 could bring you a fortune.

The MasterCard Malaysia Mega Sale Promotion 2008 is organized by Tourism Malaysia with support from MasterCard as the official card for the promotion for all MasterCard cardholders who charge their purchases within Malaysia during the promotion period (from 5 July 2008 to 1 September 2008). It is not necessary for the Mastercard itself to be issued in Malaysia in order to get the participation.

There are altogether 6 prizes for 6 winners only:

  • A Grand Prize of RM50,000
  • 5 Secondary Prizes of RM10,000 each

The winners will be selected from transactions made during the promotion period. Only the millionth transactions will be short-listed as qualifying entries for the contest, i.e. the 1,000,000th, 2,000,000th, 3,000,000th transaction for the entire promotion period, to which 6 cardholders with the highest value transactions made during the promotion period will be contacted by the promoter.

The cardholders must then correctly answer the questions posed to them before they may win the prizes. The cardholder who answers the questions correctly and who had the qualifying entry made from the highest value transaction will be the Grand Prize winner. The remaining 5 cardholders who answer the questions correctly will be the Secondary Prizes winners.

Seems like it is not easy to win the prize although it is pretty easy to participate. The draw will be conducted in the office of MasterCard Asia/Pacific Pte. Ltd. on 22 September 2008.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lesson learnt - what happen if bank account gone -ve balance

Recently, I've learnt a good lesson which cost me RM5, due to my bank account gone negative balance caused by miscalculation and wrong timing judgement. Luckily it was immediately discovered via Internet banking, and quickly rectified. If not it will cost more, and possibly will result in bounce cheque and penalty.

The story began when I discovered the troubled bank account balance has become RM-34.00 on 30 June. That was because it has a shortfall of RM29.00 and an immediate penalty "interest charged" of RM5.00 [indicator (2)].

The root cause:

I issued some cheques, calculated that the account will still have a balance of hundred over ringgit after all the cheques were cleared. However, I forgotten about a scheduled credit card payment with amount of hundred over ringgit [indicator (3)] which was slightly more than the remaining balance after all the cheques were cleared then.

I thought that would not be a problem, because I have another cheque banked in to the account, which suppose to be cleared on the same day [indicator (5)]. But due to "some technical problem" as explained by the bank's cheque clearing officer, that cheque clearance was delayed by one day, and hence causing my bank account to be in trouble with a negative balance.

To rectify the problem once discovered, I immediately transferred RM50.00 from my other account with the same bank to make the balance changed from the RM-34.00 back to RM16.00. Then, I quickly called up the bank, and was informed that one of my issued cheques [indicator (1)] did not have sufficient fund to clear out, and was advised to put in an additional RM100 to avoid that cheque from bouncing back. So I tranfered another RM100.00 to the account [indicator (4)].

The next day, I noticed 2 lines appeared in the statement [indicator (6)]. There was a "cheque repair credit" immediately followed by another "cheque repair debit". Luckily, that cheque [indicator (1)] still gone through and cleared.

Lesson learnt:

  • Always check for the "future payment" and "future transfer" sections for scheduled payment made earlier, to ensure the account balance is sufficient to draw out money from it.
  • Don't take for granted that the bank-in cheque will be cleared on time. The banked in amount can only be used after the cheque is cleared and the amount is made available to use in the account. Good news is, all the banks will use a new clearing system beginning 1 July 2008, which will shorten the time required to clear all the cheque transactions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Global Leadership and Mentoring Congress 2008

For your information, the Global Leadership Mentoring Congress 2008 will be held in Singapore on 4-5 August 2008 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Ballroom. This year’s Congress organized by Research University on Leadership (RUL) in Singapore is themed “Leadership and Service Science: Research-Practice Synergy”. The Guest of Honour will be Singapore's minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan from Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Leadership and Service Science are two fast-emerging fields seen as the new frontiers of the global economy and absolutely critical to business and professional success. Presently, 70% of world economies are service-driven, a major shift in the global economy. Leadership and service emphasize broad-based and multilevel leadership structures involving people, technology and co-creation of value systems. In essence, leadership and service are two sides of the new millennium coin.

This two day programme will feature academic lectures, corporate presentations, panel discussions and open dialogue with speakers. The aims of the Congress are:

  • To provide an inspiring and practical update through the stories and insights of global leaders and CEOs.
  • Furthering the vistas of leadership and service as a science.
  • Challenge participants’ understanding of leadership, and how leadership can promote service in a nation where human capital is its main asset.
  • Stretch the limits of service through multi-disciplinary considerations
  • View service as an essential part of capital building in every corporation, institution and organization.
Panel of speakers includes:
  • Mr Philip Ng - CEO, Far East Organization
  • Dr Loo Choon Yong - Executive Chairman, Raffles Medical Group Ltd
  • Mr Ho Kwon Ping - Chairman, Mediacorp/ Chairman, SMU/ Executive Chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings Limited
  • Ms Claire Chiang - President of Singapore Compact, Senior Vice President- Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd
  • Ms Chua Sock Koong - CEO, SingTel Group
  • Prof. Wong Yip Yan - Founder/ Group Chairman, WyWy Group of Companies
  • Mr Peter Kok - Managing Director, UBS
  • Ms Teresa Lim - Managing Director, IBM
  • Prof. Steve Smith - Vice Chancellor, Exeter University
  • Prof. Roger Maull - Professor of Management, Exeter University
  • Prof. Irene Ng - Director, Centre for Service Research, Exeter University
  • Dr Shirley Lim - President, Research University on Leadership/Research Communication International PL
  • Dato' Dr Jannie Tay - Vice Chairman (Executive), The Hour Glass
The admission fee is S$1,250, and there is discount for early birds.

Click here for more information and online registration to GLMC 2008.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Appraising your current employer

Have you ever think of how satisfied are you with your company, in the quantitative way?

Every now and then, your employer and/or supervisor will conduct appraisal on your attitude, commitment and performance, usually as a formal basis for increment and/or promotion. In fact, you can also conduct appraisal to assess your job satisfaction, security, working environment, management commitment, career path, etc.

Currently, there is a survey ongoing to help you appraise your company, top management, immediate supervisor, and co-workers. All this will relate back to your job satisfaction and security. The survey is pretty comprehensive with quite a lot of questions, helping you to assess your company from every angle. You may expect to take about 20 minutes or more to finish it.

Good news is, beside being able to assess your employment, by taking part in this survey, you also have chance to win cash price sponsored by Cari Internet S/B.

Click here to participate in the survey.

You might also like to read my other post about identifying and getting your dream job.

Google to retire the AdSense Referrals program

If you have visited to this blog before, you might have noticed the invisibleShield ads that I put up recently. That heavy duty scratch-proof protection film for gadgets such as handphones, PDAs, digital cameras, etc. is really a superb product that I sincerely recommend to you. Now since Google is going to retire the AdSense Referrals program pretty soon, I've removed the invisibleShield referral ads from my blog.

The other two referral ads were Google Pack and Firefox. Google Pack consists of a bunch of free software provided by Google, including the famous Google Desktop, Google Earth, Picasa, Photos Screensaver, Skype, Google Talk, etc.

From Google Analytics, I know that close to 38% of visitors to my blog is browsing with Firefox, which shows that it is a good product recommendable to you. Click the image below to enlarge it and see the statistic as reported by Google Analytics for this blog.

Since Google is going to retire the AdSense Referrals program during the last week of August 2008 soon, the above 3 referral ads have been removed from this blog by now. Anyhow, I still strongly recommend them to you because they are really good products.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.