Underground WiFi

I remember when Malaysia first got the LRT back in the mid-90s. There were four stations where you would never get any cellphone coverage – Ampang Park, KLCC, Kampung Baru and Dang Wangi. These were the underground stations. 

Then by ’98 or ’99, Celcom got execlusive rights to implement mobile base stations for the underground. This was great for Celcom customers (which I was back then – before switching to Maxis, and finally landing with DiGi). It was exclusive, and it meant you were sending SMS messages or speaking while others were out of reach. 

By now, everyone has coverage underground I’m sure. 

I’m in London and it wasn’t too long ago that Virgin Media brought WiFi to the underground. You have to pay for it nowadays. It still doesn’t mean your cellphone works for calls, etc (unless this is done over WiFi).

I appreciate that this is the oldest rapid transit system in the world. I just wish we would be better connected. 

Circumstances here make people read books, newspapers, magazines, Kindle or listen to audiobooks. I did notice people also playing games. 

Upcoming opportunities to talk MySQL/MariaDB in May 2015

May is quickly shaping up to be a month filled with activity in the MySQL/MariaDB space. Just a quick note to talk about where I’ll be; looking forward to meet folk to talk shop. 

  1. The London MySQL Meetup GroupMay 13 2015 – organized by former colleague & friend Ivan Zoratti, we will be doing a wrap up of recent announcements at Percona Live Santa Clara, and I’ll be showing off some of the spiffy new features we are building into MariaDB 10. 
  2. MariaDB Roadshow London – May 19 2015 – I’m going to give an overview of our roadmap, and there will be many excellent talks by colleagues there. I believe MariaDB Corporation CEO Patrik Sallner and Stu Schmidt, President at Zend will also be there. Should be a fun filled day. 
  3. Internet Society (ISOC) Hong Kong World Internet Developer Summit – May 21-22 2015 – I’ll be giving a keynote about MariaDB and how we are trying to make it important Internet infrastructure as well as making it developer friendly. 
  4. O’Reilly Velocity 2015 – May 27-29 2015 – I will in 90 minutes attempt to give a tutorial to attendees (over a 100 have already pre-registered) an overview of MySQL High Availability options and what their choices are in 2015. Expect a lot of talk on replication improvements from both MySQL & MariaDB, Galera Cluster, as well as tools around the ecosystem. 

Hello Applebot

Saw lots of this in the access logs:

17.142.151.101 - - [08/May/2015:10:37:27 -0700] "GET /blog/archives/2015/02/03/here-and-defending-your-trademarks HTTP/1.1" 200 12324 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_10_1) AppleWebKit/600.2.5 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/8.0.2 Safari/600.2.5 (Applebot/0.1; +http://www.apple.com/go/applebot)"

So its real — there is an Applebot, and it’s written in Go. Apple also has documentation about it now. And of course, you can read Gruber’s piece. Would be nice to find out ways to feed more info to Siri (I mean, it doesn’t work as well as when its in the USA…).

Xiaomi selfies beautify you

I’ve not gotten my hands on any Xiaomi kit (yet; I’ve wanted to grab a Mi4 for quite some time now, and the Mi3 before that), but this piece in the WSJ about the Mi4i (india edition) being available caught my eye (China’s Xiaomi Unveils Mi 4i Smartphone in India):

…its automatic photo-retouching setting for selfies, called beautify, does not enlarge eyes the way it does for the Chinese market, where that feature is popular. The beautify feature will smooth wrinkles and lighten skin tone, as it does in other markets

For one, I had no idea that all Chinese selfies from a Xiaomi phone have enlarged eyes. Or elsewhere, wrinkles are smoothened out and the skin tones are lightened. So you’re not capturing the image as is, but some sort of automatic software edited version. Hmm. Read more on beautify at their page (guesses age, gender, then applies one of 36 beauty profiles — smoothens skin, brightens eyes, slims the jaw and more). Apparently, photography was optimised for lightened skin tones.

I’m glad the Mi4i is tailored to have a really long battery life as well. It’s 1/4 the price of a 16GB iPhone in that market (and most; good luck Samsung). 

In Singapore, getting your GST back is efficiently electronic

We departed Singapore and got to experience their electronic tourist refund scheme (eTRS), for collecting your GST back. To think, at the cashier’s desk when we made the purchase, we were wondering why we couldn’t just use a Global Blue refund card (useful in most of Europe). 

At the point of purchase, you are given a receipt with a barcode. When you visit the airport, just follow a touch-screen based interface that says you accept the conditions (i.e. this stuff is for export/you’re not Singaporean), swipe your passport (yes, it reads it all very well), say when you entered Singapore (you can get a popup calendar), scan the receipts you’ve received via the barcode (which will display the store you purchased things from, etc.), choose a refund method (we chose to just swipe a credit card), and voila! you get a notification receipt saying all is well. There was no physical inspection required, and with the other 5 people around, none of them had that requirement.

Apparently the monies get refunded back to the credit card within 10 days. This is extremely efficient — compared to even checking out in the UK or Europe. There you still have to get stamps on receipts, usually by lining up in a pretty long queue, then posting stuff back. 

The efficiency definitely leaves a very good aftertaste.

Do you need the .com?

Conventional wisdom says you need to have the .com in a domain name. Nowadays its backed by the fact that you have the .com easily available on your mobile phone’s popup keyboard as well.

But lately I’ve seen some quality sites launch and they don’t have the .com’s to go with it. AppleWorld.Today. Fusion.net. In the past, let’s not forger <re/code> from the AllThingsD folk at Wall Street Journal (also, .net). You’ve always had John Gruber’s Daring Fireball in the .net-namespace.

So maybe you don’t need the .com and you’ll do just fine.

It’s interesting to travel to places like Iceland where its common to see domains with .is. They’re happy using their country code top level domains (TLDs). It parts of Barcelona, its quite common to see .cat. 


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