Samsung should learn to take care of their customers

My first Samsung mobile phone was a Samsung Galaxy S3. I still use it as my roaming phone, though mainly all it does now is serve as a device that I plug into a battery pack and let it act as a tethered modem.

The main reason is that its slow. Its old. The software on it is outdated. Keep in mind this was a phone released in May 2012 (I must have gotten it in June 2012). The equivalent iPhone that came out in 2012? The iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 still runs iOS 8 without issue. Samsung is notoriously delayed when it comes to updating software; in fact they rather you buy a new device. No, the average user isn’t going to go around hackery to get the latest Android on it.

So when I see articles like Samsung profits down as smartphone division feels squeeze, I can only chuckle. Knocking off iPhone was a good model, but then you see Xiaomi come into play and do the same thing at 1/3 or 1/4th the price. Updating software – Xiaomi does it every Friday. Samsung requires you to heavily pray for an update, or pay to get a new phone. 

High-end smartphones in Malaysia cost an average of RM2,000. You can buy a computer at this price. Computers typically have a 3-year warranty, and get software updates for 3-5 years. Mobile phones come with a meagre 1-year warranty, if you buy it on plan, it is a 2-year lock-in, and by the time your lock-in is over, you’re buying the next phone (very unlike a computer, eh?). This is why its smart that Apple does iOS updates for years on end (I reckon they focus on 4 generations at any given time).

It’s also interesting to watch the secondhand market. See what last year’s model of an iPhone sells versus a Samsung. 

Samsung needs innovation. It needs leadership. It needs to learn to be more open. 

Will I buy another Samsung phone based on my S3 experience? No. Have I seen any Samsung Note users migrate to the Apple iPhone 6+ yet? No. But again, it is still early days in 2015.

exploring art

One of my goals in 2015 & going forward is to diversify my interests from just the IT industry. One of those categories that I think I’m quite interested in, is art

Lately I’ve been taking meetings with folk, typically on a day, and since November 2014 to now, I’ve done 3 of these (so an average of one a month). Just this week, I met with a Malaysian art appraiser and it garnered very interesting conversation. For me, I think art must be affordable. The art world seems stuffy, and in Malaysia, gallery owners are artifically inflating prices. I expect more people to want to collect art like they may collect a watch or aspire to buy a car — you start with a Swatch, graduate to a Timex and then buy your Tag Heuer (or you start driving a Myvi, graduate to a Vios, then buy yourself a Civic, and then a Camry, and then a C Class Mercedes).

Anyway, to think about it, last year I picked up a Thierry Noir, caught Ai Weiwei in Berlin, went around Siem Reap looking at art and purchasing a piece from a local artist, and I made my first purchase from a Malaysian photographer, Keng Leong. I myself took part in an exhibition called Web To Wall, back in 2006, when I was a much more active photographer. It’s only taking a decade to come together ;-)

In December 2014, it didn’t help that there were some really interesting stories I read about two very fascinating characters. The New Yorker had a profile of Hans Ulrich Obrist — The Art of Conversation. The other was the New York Times doing a profile of Stefan Simchowitz — The Art World’s Patron Saint.

This made me want to read and dig deeper about these two very interesting characters. And the multitude of articles are truly inspiring. 

So here’s looking forward to seeing what I do to achieve this goal this year and in the future.

Bitcoin in Malaysia – January 2015 edition

This is more for me, rather than anyone else (just like everything here), but its worth keeping track of the Bitcoin scene in Malaysia (at a time when Bitcoin is tanking).

For Bitcoin news, its Bitcoin Malaysia – its no CoinDesk, but the founder, Colbert Lau, does evangelise Bitcoin quite a lot. It is from there, I learned that BolehVPN, probably the most popular VPN service in Malaysia, accepts Bitcoin. Or that a petrol station accepts Bitcoin too.

Then there are Arsyan Ismail’s list of startups, notably a Bitcoin Exchange Malaysia, ked.ai (a marketplace), cryptomarket.my (a market/exchange). I’m not sure what the focus of these companies are (many look like minimum viable products).

Then what I think is the most interesting Bitcoin-related startup focusing on the blockchain? Neuroware (disclosure: I have been talking a lot to one of the founders and may end up advising the company). They focus on blockchain technology, and keep track of Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Litecoin. They have blockchains.io (similar to Blockchain.info but opensource). They also have their main product: blockstrap — a HTML5 framework, also opensource. There are some good articles at Digital News Asia: Neuroware: New bit on the blockchain and Coindesk: Neuroware Launches ‘Future-Proof’ API for Cryptocurrency Apps.

Will we see more people accept Bitcoin? Will there be Bitcoin ATMs (there was one in Bangsar Shopping Centre but it has since closed)? It should be interesting to see how Bitcoin and the blockchain itself evolves in 2015.

Malcolm Gladwell audiobooks

The first book from Malcolm Gladwell I read was The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference back in 2007. I continued to read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking in 2008. And then it seems I’ve weaned off Gladwell, with the exception of his pieces in magazines like The New Yorker. 

I’ve started listening to audiobooks again, most of last year, because I find that when I go to the gym, its much better than listening to music on repeat. So I listened to Blink again which further cemented ideas in my head. Then I thought I needed to listen to a new book — Outliers: The Story of Success

This is his famous book that suggests you have to get some kind of “luck” to practice 10,000 hours to get proficient in things (known as the 10,000 hour rule). Examples include the fact that Bill Gates got access to a computer terminal when he was in high school; something that doesn’t happen for many people during that time. Opportunities can equate to luck

Some choice quotes:

  1. Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.
  2. Those three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us.

I think its worth reading or listening to these books. I know I’m behind on Gladwell’s stuff – I hear David and Goliath is a good read, and I guess that’s next on my to-read list from him. As for the audiobook format, I think its worth picking books carefully as I like the idea of highlighting on the Kindle (and before that, dog-earing pages and writing copious quotes/notes). It’s quite hard to do when you’re driving and listen to a great point — wait for my thoughts on Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle which after listening to the audiobook, I also grabbed the Kindle edition (and for what it’s worth, I happen to have the dead-tree edition as well — go figure).

IRC is back

IRC never really went away. If you are a participant in the opensource world, there’s a good chance you’ve fired up an IRC client to connect to your project channel (eg. #maria) to chat with people involved with the project.

Slack is becoming really popular, and from what I can tell, it looks very much like IRC. I tried Kik again, when I read Hashtags as Social Networks. This is IRC — with a channel limit (50 users). The twist is that its mobile, since you’re quite happily doing this kind of chat on your mobile phone.

Netflix & streaming from overseas

New 37" LCDIt is disappointing reading that Netflix is cracking down on VPN and proxy “pirates”. This is how odd the movie industry has it when it comes to thinking about licensing — after all, people are subscribing to Netflix for $8.99 and then getting onto a VPN service like Unotelly from anywhere between $4.95-$7.95/mo.

Effectively due to the movie industry’s idiotic practices, foreign viewers are already willing to pay almost double in “taxes” to the VPN provider.

Where will these people turn to when Netflix stops streaming them movies? Torrents. Who loses when those offering to pay use torrents? The movie industry. 

Update: Why Netflix won’t block VPN users – it has too many of them. Apparently the numbers are in excess of 30 million subscribers.


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