Friday, October 31, 2008

Ubuntu Linux 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) has been released

Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution (according to ranking) has officially released their stable version 8.10 (code name "Intrepid Ibex") for both Desktop and Server editions.

As you know, Ubuntu is usable in the form of LiveCD (boot from CD and use, no need installation) as well as installable to the harddisk as your computer's operating system (which can be co-exist and multi-boot with other operating systems in the computer). The minimum memory requirement to run Ubuntu 8.10 is only 256MB.

This new 8.10 release features:

  • 3G network support.
  • It can now also be put into USB thumbdrive which is convenient to carry everywhere, plug and use on any machine.
  • It introduces "Guest sessions" feature to allow users to lock down a session easily, so a guest (eg. at conferences, cafes, parties, etc.) can use the full system without interference with programs or data.
  • As a bonus, all Ubuntu 8.10 users will be able to enjoy streaming programmes from the BBC multimedia network.

Here are some of the interesting features in the Server Edition of Ubuntu 8.10:
  • Virtualization built on the Just Enough Operating System (JeOS). Apache Tomcat 6.0 and OpenJDK are now a fully supported options.
  • ClamAV and SpamAssassin are now available from the main repository providing a supported solution for spam detection and virus filtering for mail infrastructures.
  • Provides support for SATA "software" RAID controllers via DMRaid.
  • Administrators can now easily set-up an Ubuntu system to provide encrypted private directories which are automatically mounted when users login locally or via ssh. Sensitive data is kept secure even if the system is stolen.
  • The tool chain used to compile Ubuntu has been updated to include even more security features such as glibc function call fortification. Bugs in applications are even harder to be turned into exploitable vulnerabilities.
  • Uncomplicated Firewall makes it easier to manage a host firewall thanks to the addition of application profiles. Common services such as apache, bind9, cups, dovecot, openssh, postfix or samba declare which ports they use so that the administrator only enables a network service rather than a set of ports.
  • Bundled Landscape client provides a free reporting function at each login. Landscape is Canonical's lightweight system management tool for Ubuntu systems that allows automated deployment and monitoring.
Version of some commonly used software that comes with Ubuntu 8.10 are: Linux kernel 2.6.27, Compiz 0.78, CUPS 1.3.9, Evolution 2.24.1, Thunderbird, Firefox 3.0.3, gcc 4.3.1, GIMP 2.6.1, glibc 2.8, gtk+ 2.14.4, OpenOffice 2.4.1, OpenSSH 5.1p1, Apache 2.2.9, MySQL 5.0.67, postgreSQL 8.3.4, perl 5.10.0, PHP 5.2.6, Python 2.5.2, postfix 2.5.5, samba 3.2.3, xorg-server 1.5.2.

Click here for more information about the features of Ubuntu 8.10.

Ubuntu is downloadable from their website as well as using the BitTorrent P2P. You can also request for free distribution CD (original from Canonical) to be sent to you by postal mail. Click here for more information about how to get Ubuntu.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Online share trading brokerage fee for RM8.88 only at CIMB Clicks Trader

Online share trading is the current trend. In majority of the securities firms, this method usually enjoy 30% lower brokerage rate than traditional trading with phone calls to remisier.

Currently, most securities firms set the brokerage rate at 0.6% for normal below RM100k trading. A 30% discount means an online trading rate of 0.42%. Day trading rate could be lower, as well as high trading value (> RM100k per transaction), which rate is negotiable with the remisier.

It is a good news for long term investors that CIMB is currently offering brokerage fee of only RM8.88 for transactions done with their online Clicks Trader system. I say it is a good news for long term investors, because its trading limit isn't attractive, which is set to only 1x cash value only. Speculators and day traders might not be attracted by such a strict limit.

CIMB has set a condition that your Clicks Trader Account must have a minimum balance of RM10,000 before the T+3 cut-off time in order to have a trading limit and enjoy the low brokerage rate at RM8.88 per transaction.

Currently, they are running a promotion until end of year 2008 for new signups of Clicks Trader Account. The first 2 matched online purchase orders via CIMB Clicks will be free. This mean the brokerage fee will be RM0 for the 2 transactions. That would save you a total of RM17.76 in brokerage fee, not so attractive but good enough for you to use the money for a good meal.

About 4 months ago, I mentioned about hold on your money and do not dump in for investment purpose because the market was sinking then. Now, I think it is a good time for long term investors to start to plan for some bottom fishing. I also wrote about how to observe a bear's bottom. Probably you can apply that simple strategy to look for the best buying time.

For more information about the CIMB RM8.88 brokerage Clicks Trader Account, click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Burn audio CD from MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, APE, VQF, MP4 files with GoGo MP3 To CD Burner

You might have a compilation of your most favourite MP3 files ripped from various pieces of audio CD. It would be nice to burn your favourite compilation of MP3 music back into audio CD so that you could play them with CD player and/or car audio player that unfortunately doesn't support reading of MP3 CD.

I've found a freeware called GoGo MP3 To CD Burner which can perform this task. All you need to do is select and add the supported audio files into its list for up to a total of 80 minutes play time, then click the Burn CD button to create your own audio CD.

The only set back of this handy utility is that it doesn't support non-alphanumeric filenames, which include the CJK (Chinese-Japan-Korean) characters. If you intend to add those files into your list, you have to rename their filename to English first.

Click here to download GoGo MP3 To CD Burner. Its file size is just about 1MB, and it is free to use. Supported platforms are Windows 98 and above.

Fix Windows slow shutdown problem with UPHClean

Recently, I found my Windows PC became extremely slow for the shutdown process. It used to shutdown without 30 seconds, but then it took as much as 5 minutes.

A check in the Application Event Log found 2 warnings whenever I shutdown the PC. They are:

  • Windows cannot unload your classes registry file - it is still in use by other applications or services. The file will be unloaded when it is no longer in use.
  • Windows saved user PCname\username registry while an application or service was still using the registry during log off. The memory used by the user's registry has not been freed. The registry will be unloaded when it is no longer in use.
I'm not sure why this happened, but I've found out a solution from Microsoft to fix it. Microsoft released the User Profile Hive Cleanup Service (UPHClean) to resolve this problem, and it did solve my problem.

Click here to read about the root cause and solution of slow shutdown problem from Microsoft's knowledgebase.

Click here to download and install the UPHClean program from Microsoft Download Center.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Handphone fair @ Giant Bandar Puteri Puchong

Currently there is a handphone fair at the outdoor carpark area of Giant hypermarket of Bandar Puteri, Puchong. Apart from handphones, accesories such as bluetooth headsets, bluetooth speakers, batteries, chargers, etc. are also available. Mobile operators such as U-Mobile, Celcom, Digi and Maxis are having their booths there too.

Although majority are China brands which are selling in really cheap price and rich in features (those selling for a few hundreds ringgit only can even watch TV), there are also booths selling original Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and other renowned brands.

I have just purchased an original Sony Ericsson HBH-PV710 bluetooth headset (warranty by Midland) for only RM128. This is a decent mid-range bluetooth headset that offers a talk time of 12 hours and standby time of 300 hours.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting extra mileage and save fuel cost with Fuel Saver

Ever since the petrol price in Malaysia skyrocketed by 40% from RM1.92 to the historical high of RM2.70 on 5 June 2008, I had been looking for effective fuel saving product to help in saving some fuel expenses. I heard and read that many fuel saving products are in fact non-effective, until I decided to try out this product called Fuel Saver.

The reason I gave Fuel Saver a try was that it is inexpensive at the price of only RM99 including installation. To date, I have installed this Fuel Saver in my car for more than 3 months, and so far it performs pretty well.

Before the installation, I put it near my Ultra Racing Stabilizer Bar and it shown its magnetic nature by sticking onto the steel bar. You might want to visit to Fuel Saver's website to learn more about the theory of how it works, and read about its emission test result and Dynamometers test results to show it really works.

Here are some of my observations after installation:

  • I feel that the engine run smoother and a little bit more powerful than before.
  • I notice that when the engine is started after resting for quite a while, water will be dripping from the exhaust pipe. This is a sign of complete combustion which produces only carbon dioxide and water. The water will be vapourized when the engine turns hot. In fact, the sign of water dripping already shown after I installed the Zaptor performance voltage stabilizer, but the amount was not as much as now.
  • I can get the most extra mileage when travelling long distance (>100 km) at high speed, compared with the same travelling distance and style before installation. This Toyota Avanza 1.5G auto 7-seater (using semi-synthetic engine oil) can run more than 60km further with the same amount of fuel for such a long distance journey, challenging the 600km target before the fuel tank warning light up.
  • If the car is frequently travelling in short distance with some traffic lights at speed not more than 90 km/h most of the time, the extra mileage is minimal and there is not much fuel saving. The extra distance could be merely 10km only.

I find this fuel saving gadget a good investment, even though the petrol price in Malaysia has been gradually reduced to RM2.30 now since 15 October 2008 and could be further reduced again in the near future.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mobile phone screen capturing with the free TOSC utility

My reader asked about how I captured the screen of my mobile phone and paste them in my blog here.

I installed a small open source utility developed by Pal Szasz called The Open Screen Capture (TOSC) into my Sony Ericsson P1i, and that is the tool I used to capture the screen.

TOSC is an open source and free screen capture utility for mobile device running on Symbian UIQ3. Example of such smartphones are Sony Ericsson P1i, P990i, W960i, G700, G900, etc.

TOSC is very simple and easy to use. You just need to set the timer for the screen capture to happen, which can be 0 second (immediately), 10 seconds or 30 seconds. Then, get ready with the screen you want to capture before the timer timeout, and TOSC will capture the screen and save it as PNG file in the root directory of your M2 memory card.

When TOSC is running, you can see a green icon on top of the screen, which will show the timer countdown when a screen capture is initiated. Don't worry, the green icon won't be captured by TOSC.

You can click here to download the SIS installation file for TOSC version 0.3.

PuTTY for mobile devices

PuTTY is an open source SSH client distributed under the MIT licence, originally written for Windows platform. Many system engineers use it as a handy tool to remotely connect to their Linux/Unix machines with the secured SSH protocol to administer the system from their desktop.

Nowadays, PuTTY has also been ported to run on mobile devices such as PDAs and smart mobile phones, so that you can access to your servers for emergency troubleshooting, restarting a service, rebooting the server, and so on. Of course, you need to have Internet access from your mobile device to your server, either using GPRS, 3G, Wifi, etc.

Here are some of the ported PuTTY for various mobile devices:

And you can see the PuTTY for Symbian UIQ3 in action in my Sony Ericsson P1i here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Backup P1i contacts from phone to M2 memory card

There is a built-in function to backup the Sony Ericsson P1i handphone contacts information from the phone internal memory to the attached M2 memory card.

To do so, in the Contacts application, tap on the More button to pop up the menu. The menu is so long that you have to scroll down to see the Contact Manager option (and this is the reason I have been spending quite some time before I finally located it). Tap on Contact Manager, and you are presented with 3 options:

  • Synchronize - this will call up the Remote Sync application and allows you to sync your contacts / calendar / tasks / emails /bookmarks / notes information in your P1i handphone with a SyncML server in the network.
  • Backup - this is the option to backup your contacts information from the phone internal memory to your M2 memory card. It will backup into \Other\Backup\Contacts folder in the memory card. 2 files will be produced: Contacts.vcf and Groups.dat.
  • Restore - this is the option to restore your contacts from the M2 memory card to your phone internal memory. You can also tap on the \Other\Backup\Contacts\Contacts.vcf file in your M2 memory card to perform the restore.

If you have done a backup before, you will be prompted with a last backup information, and your new backup will overwrite and replace the previous backup files.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The new Maybank2u website is extremely slow

Maybank has changed their Maybank2u website to a new design since yesterday. Unfortunately, extensive use of AJAX has render the website extremely slow, to the extend that it is unusable most of the time.

Maybank should be well awared that although AJAX could bring some fancy user interface experience, as a trade-off, it greatly reduce the web application loading speed. Even great application from Google such as GMail which started to use AJAX extensively recently also experiences the same problem, and that's why Google has made available a special link to access GMail without AJAX as a backup plan for their users.

The slowness intensifies over secured SSL connection, which is a must for the bank online services. There is also increase vulnerability for the server to encounter Denial of Service (DoS) Attack, since even without attack, the service is already close to useless due to time-out respond time.

In addition, AJAX application performance is largely depends on the performance of JavaScript execution and browser DOM operations. This mean, the user's web browser play an important role in the AJAX performance too. AFAIK, Safari performs much better than Firefox in handling AJAX, and Firebox performs much better than IE 7 in handling AJAX. Unfortunately, I'm sure they have the most users using IE7, and least users using Safari.

Therefore, too much of AJAX on any website (or a full-Ajax-enabled website) is not a good idea. Maybank2u must find ways to resolve this problem, either to reduce usage to AJAX, or invest more money in upgrading their network equipments and servers. Luckily, they still maintain a link to fallback to their previous website interface. Not so fancy, but at least usable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3.0 is now on general release

Finally, the long awaited 3.0 is on general release now. Strong demand of this state-of-art open source office application suite made them to temporary changed their website into a simple download page only to overcome the traffic.

Pre-compiled installation package is available for download for Windows, Linux, Solaris and Intel-based Mac OS X in various languages.

Right from the opening screen, 3 has a fresh new look, with a new start screen, new splash screen, new icons, and a host of usability improvements.

The Writer word processor has a cool new slider control for zooming, allows multi-page display while editing, has powerful new multilingual support, and boasts improved notes capabilities. As well as conventional office documents, Writer can now edit wiki documents for the web.

The Calc spreadsheet has been given another increase in capacity - now up to 1024 columns per sheet. It also has a powerful new equation solver, and a great new collaboration feature for multiple users.

Draw can now cope with poster-size graphics (up to 3sq metres), and Impress supports multiple monitors for presentations. Chart now produces much more clean looking graphics by default, and has a range of additional features requested by power users.

The popular built-in PDF export facility has been further enhanced with PDF/A support and a range of new user-selectable options. 3 is now also available for the first time as a full Mac OS X application, bringing the power of the world's leading open-source office suite to a whole new group of users. And it's even easier than ever to persuade MS-Office users to upgrade to, with new support for MS-Access 2007 'accdb' files, improved support for VBA macros, and a new ability to read MS-Office Open XML files (MS Office 2007 and Office 2008 documents)'s support for extensions is really coming of age with 3. A rapidly expanding number of additional features are available from different developers to add great features such as an Impress presenter console, support for business analytics, PDF import, and a whole new way of supporting additional languages.

Click here to read their official press release.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The OAC Centennial PA Personal Accident Insurance

I believe most of us already insured with some kind of life insurance, which covers compensation on total permanent disablement (TPD). Have you ever think of what if the disablement is "non-total", for example, you just lost one single finger in an accident?

Life insurance won't cover for that, and in fact, you need to find such insurance under the general insurance category (note that not every life insurance agent is also agent for general insurance). I think you should have heard of the term before, it is called personal accident (PA) insurance.

If you are an employed employee, most probably you are already covered under the group PA policy that your company buy for you. You might also be insured with PA under some promotion of car loan, car club, credit card, bank account, etc. The question will be is the insured amount enough? What if you change company and the new one doesn't provide such employee benefit? What if you are retired?

After some consideration, I finally signed up with the Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC) Centennial PA Personal Accident Insurance this year. What do you think of when you see the word "centennial" here? Yes, OAC is part of the Great Eastern group.

The premium of this policy is RM100 per year (less than RM9 per month) with the sum insured of:

  • Accidental death: RM100,000
  • Permanent disablement: RM100,000
  • Medical expenses: RM5,000

There is a "no claim renewal bonus" with an increase of 10% on the above sum insured for renewal each year up to 100%. This mean if no claim is made, 10 years later, the sum insured will become:

  • Accidental death: RM200,000
  • Permanent disablement: RM200,000
  • Medical expenses: RM10,000

If any claim is made, the sum insured will be reverted to the original amount.

Under this policy, the following are covered:

  • Accidental death
  • 26 items of permanent disablement
  • Medical, surgical and hospital expenses for injury
  • Bereavement allowance for death resulting from accident, dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, scarlet fever or coxsackie
  • Repatriation expenses if the accidental death happen outside Malaysia
  • Rehabilitation allowance
  • Disapperance for more than 1 year (while travelling)

I believe this policy will complement my life insurance policy as well as cover up any shortage in my company's group PA insurance scheme. It is very affordable too although the premium will be burnt off every year and does not carry cash value like most life insurance products. It is renewable up to 100 years old (and I believe when we get old, we are more risky in getting accident).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Editing the Sony Ericsson handphone theme with Themes Creator

I find that the themes (yes, more than one...) downloaded from the Sony Ericsson website for my P1i mobile phone have a logical bug with the listing checkbox. Once the theme is applied, the unchecked items will all shown as checked, and the checked items shown as unchecked.

After some troubleshooting and confirmed that the problem is with the theme, I found the way to fix it by editing the "checked" and "unchecked" icon to the order, and here is the way.

First of all, you need to download the theme file in .utz format into your computer. Make a copy of the file and change its extension to .zip. For example, download Shards.utz, make a copy named as

Then, unzip the file with PeaZip or 7-Zip or any other file unarchiver tool.

Use a graphics editor to edit the file named as ListboxCheckbox.png in your unzip folder. Here is how it looks like before and after the editing.


(you may right click to download this edited file)

You can now use the Sony Ericsson Themes Creator to open the file Shards.utz. To fix the problem, go to "List View" tab, and click on "Check boxes". Then, click on the Import button to import your edited ListboxCheckbox.png.

You can then see from the preview display that the checkbox is showing correctly by now.

Save the theme file Shards.utz and transfer it to your phone. You have to ensure that Shards is not in use as the current theme in your phone. Delete the existing Shards theme, and install this edited one. Woolah! You are done.

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