Apple Store Malaysia – accepts AMEX now

Where possible, the only card I use is my American Express charge card. Of course, recently, Maybank has upped the ante with an Amex card that provides TreatsPoints (and if you’re after air miles, they are better than the charge card membership rewards — go figure).AMEX on Orchard road

I especially like purchasing electronics with the Amex. Purchase protection, return guarantees, but the most important to me is the extended warranties (which cover mobile phones, but not computers!). So its great to see that a complaint that existed in early 2013, is now fixed. The Apple Store in Malaysia finally accepts Amex cards for purchases. This wasn’t true earlier this year (say March?). So a positive move.

In other news, I walked into a Machines store the other day and the only iPhone 6 they had for sale were the 16GB iPhone 6+’s. Everything else was sold out. I lamented that you could pick this up on the Apple online store, and it ships within 1-3 business days. Apparently Apple is making the lives of these resellers a little tougher by not releasing stock to them. Oh well.

To give back you need to create first

“My father was the first entrepreneur in the family,” Rohan Marley, the sixth of Bob Marley’s eleven children, said the other day. “He started his own record label, his own restaurant. He knew that, in order to give something back to the people, he had to create. You can’t be no philanthropist, no Warren Buffett, unless you make something first.”

Bob’s Boys – All Natural in The New Yorker

The article focuses a lot on the marijuana trade, but the choice quote here is about creation. You may read many books and articles about giving back, and they’re usually written by people that have created so much value already, that it makes sense to give back. Some of the best books on this topic that I’ve read include Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry by Marc Benioff and Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Richard Branson.

This is also like mentorship. Sometimes you can’t mentor each and every opportunity because you’re stretched for time, and are still creating.

This comes back to my thoughts on advisors. How can you dole out advice if you’ve never been there (and done that)? How can you dole out advice if you yourself haven’t created? Sure, there are textbook examples at work, and people learn at schools (MBAs, etc) but sitting in a classroom is no substitute for experience.

So whether you’re looking for a mentor, an advisor, or a board member, remember that having some form of requisite experience (not just textbook knowledge) is something that will probably take you further.

Writing on my iOS devices

The last couple of blog posts have been written on my iPhone. Before that (and this) was composed on my iPad.

Sure, adding links seems to be quite difficult. Alt/Mac+Tab is generally quite handy when it comes to sitting by my laptop.

The new workflow feels very much like writing on Facebook. I just write. Let the words flow. It doesn’t matter where I am, I take it all like it’s being a status update. And then when I hit publish, I come back to it later on my laptop (the reality is that I sync it with MarsEdit and edit on the desktop client) to add relevant links.

This kind of method probably works well when I’m not doing a technical blog post, but something that resembles a status update or a story.

I still have to work out how to automatically post the posts to Twitter, and if possible post to Facebook as a status update (I recall that we could sync Notes back in the day, but that feature was removed). I’m thinking either the body makes it, or the first 2 paragraphs or I make use of excerpts wisely.

It’s not that writing on a laptop is a bad idea. It’s just that when I’m on my laptop, I’m usually online and have other work to do: emails, terminal, etc. I’ve used my iOS devices mainly for consumption of content (WSJ, NYT, FT, New Yorker, The Economist, Instapaper, Kindle, NewsBlur) — but with a lot of dead time, it’s not a bad device to also be a device to create, to some extent.

The WordPress apps are pretty good. They don’t handle images well, i.e. They don’t resize them to be sensible for web. Plus I very much like my images to also be on Flickr (I can live without that though). But posting 3MB photos in the main body just seems silly.

I’m sure I can eventually improve this workflow by posting items as a draft first, so they don’t reach the public till the links are added. It’s all an experiment, but I’m already liking the new additional ways to push content to this site.

Exciting events: MaGIC e@Stanford and DNA Disrupt

As the year wraps up, I have to take my hats off to MaGIC for running so many concurrent events in these weeks. Cynics would say they are spending this years budget to ensure they get next years allocation; my only complaint is that their events all have about a 5-day lead time from announcement (on their Facebook page) to the actual event itself.

For Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur, it makes sense to visit one of the two events tomorrow (a pity they’re back-to-back, so basically clashing):

1. MaGIC e@Stanford attendees presentation on Silicon Valley culture – Warren Leow, a VP at MaGIC referred to the batch of 60 as the creme de la creme of Malaysia, and with enough pressure, they launched not only a website so you can keep track of them, but also are organising this public event that people should attend, listen, ask questions, and hopefully write about. I’m personally very interested in what happens in an all expense paid (minus the cost of the visa) 2-week visit to Silicon Valley.

I think it’s important to attend because the second batch are likely going within Q1/2015. Mentioning that this brings positivity to the ecosystem in 2-3 years seems rather fluid. Things have to be measurable from the get go, especially when they involve public funds.

2. DNA Disrupt – they’re looking towards the future, i.e. 2015 by looking at the past (2014 has been an interesting year). It’s no secret that one of my favourite publications to read is Digital News Asia (DNA). Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably already realize that Malaysia is facing tougher times (currency at it’s lowest to the US dollar in years, oil prices slipping, cost of living going up, etc.), and 2015 should be a really challenging year ahead for entrepreneurs (either looking to fundraise or looking at working capital from the banks). The discussion that will happen here should be invaluable, and probably very forward thinking (by judiciously studying “history”).

Two exciting events, which do you go to? I personally wish that there would be some live streaming, like some old DNA Disrupts used to have (hook up a cheap video camera, have an Internet connection, and let YouTube do the rest) so I can watch from afar.

Whichever you pick, I’m sure the networking will be invaluable. Have a great Wednesday ahead.

The Malaysian Scene begins

I’ve been following MaGIC on & off since late 2013. I was very excited with it’s initial launch but with mostly everything Malaysian, I usually end up with having more questions than answers.

While shuttling between hotel lounges in Germany back in October, I started a thread on my Facebook wall, which garnered over 185 comments & numerous private messages. The discussion was initially positive till someone hijacked it on a tangent; it turned out he just didn’t comprehend the English language.

My simple reason for wanting to care again: I’m a proud Malaysian & want to see my country succeed. There are no shortcuts to success; it’s going to require a lot of work, not rah-rah smoke & mirror operations. I see a lack of critical thinking & reportage on this topic.

I believe in sustainable movements that have learned from history. After all, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. I believe in fixing things from the core – I may sound like an idealist, but multiple businesses & participation in distributed opensource communities has taught me to be a pragmatic idealist.

Time these days is limited, with me spending increasing amounts of time on the road. I’ve been wanting to write more for a long time, so why not reboot it here on the blog? Comments here (via Disqus) are a lot more manageable than Facebook’s system (no threading, hard to stop people from being silly, etc). Search is also a lot better. Who remembers the time we fought the Computing Professionals Bill (CPB2011)? Probably no one, since most of the work was spread on Google Docs and a lot of the “activism” was done via Twitter & physical meetings — we just forgot to catalogue/write about it.

So, with that, here’s a new category: The Malaysian Scene. I intend to cover technology, business (entrepreneurship) & policy thoughts in this area.

I’m open to topic suggestions – via comments here or via email. Sharing with me via private messaging will always ensure your anonymity.

Writing at cruising altitude

I decided to try out Lufthansa’s in-flight internet access at a cost of €17/24 hours. This was good as I got to write emails, do some work, etc while on a pretty long HND-FRA-EZE flight (yes, it works on connections too).

The connectivity isn’t that reliable. Yes, your VPN barely works. Sure they say you shouldn’t make voice calls (but use of the in-flight phone is fine – so it’s not to prevent annoying passengers, it’s to protect a revenue stream). FaceTime (audio & video work). Streaming Netflix doesn’t.

Many times the connectivity would drop, sometimes for hours on end.

But the ability to be able to Whatsapp, iMessage, or FaceTime (with headphones) your loved ones from mid-air? Priceless.

(Written on an iPad, using Lufthansa FlyNet, pretty close to South America as I hit publish)