Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’

Restaurants need to manage their online reputations

Drawing on Rena Bloggers are an opinionated lot. They tend to speak the truth (most of the time – let’s ignore undisclosed advertorials). You have a bad experience at an establishment, you have a blog, you’re bound to pen down your thoughts. Its only natural. You’re trying to help the general public that bothers to search for the term, to avoid such a place.

Before blogs and web publishing became popular, folk would write e-mails to their friends, and this may end up being forwarded. In fact, forwarded e-mails still exist till today, for the non-web publishing savvy.

So, I find it surprising that American Chili’s has not discovered social media, blogs, and the online world, just yet. Most complaints tend to circle around the branch in Bangsar Shopping Centre, but looking at the comments, you can see that your mileage may vary at all their outlets. For reference: The best AND worst spot for a Guinness, Bodoh punya manager, american chili’s bangsar says there’s a marked difference between a vodka orange and a screwdriver.

In there, there is a perfect opportunity to respond to folk. All those posts have comments open. Why isn’t Chili’s being engaging? Do they need the “social media experts” to contact them offering services? After all, today, when I Google “chili’s bangsar” (not logged into my Google account, and without quotes), link number 7 and link number 10, point to a couple of the blog posts that I linked to above!

This is the age of the Internet. Start responding to your customers. They have the right to talk back now. Foursquare, Yelp!, blogs, and many other services have given them the opportunity to speak their minds.

Of course, if you plan to start being engaging on the Internet, don’t be arrogant. That’s just a sure fire way to ensure that savvy folk don’t show up at your restaurant. Same Google test (“bar italia malaysia”) – post was #7 on the Google search page. However, there were so many other posts/comments before it about how much Bar Italia did not rock.

So here, I’ve just identified two establishments that need to improve their online reputations. Do you search online before going to eat at a restaurant? Do you put weight on Foursquare tips of places you’re going to?

Behind the scenes: Advertising and PR, Bloggers and Integrity: Making Money, While Being Honest

Today at BarCamp KL, I presented a brand new talk: Advertising and PR, Bloggers and Integrity: Making Money, While Being Honest.

The back story

On April Fool’s Day, I sent out a feeler to see if anyone was interested in a talk titled “Advertising & PR, Bloggers & Integrity: making money, thru honesty”. It seems like the response was positive, and it was to be scheduled on Saturday for BarCampKL. Wow, a few days to come up with a brand new talk… naturally, I asked people for feedback, and received them (right up till 7 or so hours before the talk was scheduled to be given).

Preparing for the talk

On Friday, I posted a bunch of notes that I had taken down in OmniOutliner. I gathered some feedback, and then implemented the whole thing into Keynote (this is incidentally also my first presentation in where I am not using OpenOffice.org Impress, a software package I had helped contribute to for a significant portion of my life). To boot, I also purchased the Keynote Remote application for the iPhone/iPod Touch, for USD$0.99. This moves me away from using the usual Logitech Presentation Remote. So let’s just say all this marked new ground for me, as I got to learn new software in an evening, including using the presenter notes, and so on.

Giving the talk

Considering I had never given the talk before, and was winging it based on notes I had created a day before, let’s just say it was a little rough on the edges, lacking statistics that I would have liked, and lacking graphics that I should have included. I’m sure there will be a 2.0 version of the talk, if I’m to give it elsewhere.

I was pleased that the talk had a standing room audience. During the talk there was active discussion. That’s what made it fun. Lots of participants shared their experiences, and it was people representing media buyers, PR firms, as well as the bloggers themselves.

Generally speaking, most people believed that disclosure should be the way to go. There is nothing wrong with making money from your blog, but telling your audience that you are doing so, is a duty to your readers. Its the right thing to do!

Conversation about the talk went on even during lunch, and I seemed to hear lots of positive feedback about it. Its a pity I didn’t get the whole talk recorded!

In closing

Expect a series of blog posts, that are more well thought out, and are logically separated on this topic in the near future. And to think, all this talk started with what I told David Lian, a few weeks ago, at the KLTweetup, about how I believe Nuffnang will be irrelevant in 2 years if they don’t change their business model. Not existing is hard (both founders have got deep family pockets), but becoming less relevant, I guarantee it (or I’ll eat a shoe — one made of cake, nonetheless ;-))

The real story behind Maxis Broadband

The whole Maxis Broadband advertising spiel is hitting up again in the Malaysian blogosphere, and I think its time I write about their broadband service a little more.

Point of observation: lots of the blogosphere, probably get paid [not necessarily monetarily] to write reviews, which are generally crap because they never actually use the service. They should disclose this payment/affiliation, but they usually don’t, which is terribly sad. Anyway, ignore the hyperbole – I’ll tell you about Maxis Broadband from the trenches.

I’ve been using the service for what must be about six months now (using a Huawei E220, on a Mac and Linux, but mostly on a Mac – since all I really carry around is my Air). I only hopped on Maxis, because everyone that was a Celcom customer told me that dialup was better than Celcom’s 3G/HSDPA.

The good
It works really well in both my homes, in either Petaling Jaya or Klang. This is of course, not the prime location I would like to use the broadband modem – I have DSL coming through the houses, and its always more reliable than a HSDPA connection.

It works really well in Mont Kiara. The Coffee Bean there, has got fabulous coverage. In fact, so does SOMO.

Where my vet is located in Brickfields, Maxis Broadband shines – 364KB/s. Also, in Cyberjaya, I hopped on WCDMA while I was at MMU… not fast, not slow, but just about usable ;-)

The bad
Uploading to Flickr fails. Anything large (you know, that comes out of even an 8MP digital camera) will fail to upload.

I was at UITM (Shah Alam) not long ago, and the coverage was an epic fail. Nearby the Maxis headquarters (OK, I was at the Sun office in KL), Maxis gave me some amazing ping times – 10761.587 ms! But maybe it was switching cells, far too often?

I was in Cheras (nearby Leisure Mall) not long ago, and was sitting in my car, trying to surf the Internet. Here, you’ll notice that the HSDPA network is weak – it moves to EDGE, most of the time. The Internet is also, virtually unusable.

I took a bus to Singapore a month back. Trying to use it on the North-South Expressway, was not happening. It would disconnect so frequently, it made more sense to sleep. I’ve been told however, that Celcom works a charm on the North-South Expressway. Then again, not exactly a common use case for me.

I have a box sitting in the Jaring IDC. Transfers (ssh -C) top out at about 20KB/s. Ping times are around 80ms, but its just not that fast… Well at least with the WCDMA network in Mont Kiara.

Why?
I’m not slagging Maxis off for no reason… I’m trying to make you, the reader, an informed consumer, so that you don’t simply buy a service, that cannot be provided for.

In fact, I wondered how many users could blog from a single location using Maxis Broadband even. Their service coverage is probably not the best, and imagine a bunch of bloggers (Nuffnang-ers) who want to live blog… These are the camwhore crowd, et al. I’m sure they had a massively enjoyable time, wishing they were at home, with Streamyx ;-)

Motivation?
Well, it seems that Vodafone offers $0 Dell Inspiron Mini 9′s on a $70 plan, with 5GB of data transfer in Australia. I won’t be surprised if Maxis has a similar deal with Dell… A simple Google showed that Dell and Maxis are already in cahoots – RM99 x 24 months with “free” Broadband access for 6 months… more details about the promo, which means you’ll end up paying RM2,376… and assuming you like the Maxis Broadband service, you’ll end up having to fork out RM77 for the remainder of the 18 months, totalling a paltry RM1,386. Wait… RM77 is a lot cheaper than the usual RM138 per month (RM118 if you’re a Maxis postpaid subscriber). RM61 savings!?! That’s RM1,098 one can save… ridiculous. I’m tempted to get this “deal” and just ask for an extra SIM card to be tied to my account… I’m sure that can’t cost more than RM5 or RM10.

Conclusion
I even had other issues with them… upon signup, they said they would direct debit my credit card. It took a threat to leave the service for them to do it over the phone, in the fifth month of service. I still seem to be getting paper bills (costing me an additional RM5).

I am of course, posting this via a Maxis Broadband Internet connection :) It has allowed me to not pay Airzed for Wifi, and if it worked a little better, everywhere else, I’d be mostly happy with it.

What are your experiences with Maxis Broadband?

Malaysia stops censoring bloggers

So, the MCMC decided to come to their senses and scrap blocking websites. Internet censorship only lasted a few weeks (read previously Malaysia starts censoring bloggers). Of course, to control the victim of the latest censorship act, they used the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), but that’s a whole other matter.

Its interesting to see how many people came around, and the amount of press/attention this whole censorship thing brought. Here’s a quick summary:

  • SKMM not ordered to block access to website in where we find out that there are 127 websites and blogs that have been blocked for contravening various sections of the Act.
  • MCMC – how to make a complaint – this is a useful website. Why? Because you can write complaints, or fax them, and get the MCMC to respond. They have to, I’m told, so if you feel strongly about an issue, this is the right place to hit up the next time such craziness hits.
  • Dr M slams ‘blocking’ of Malaysia Today in where he expresses his disgust (on his blog, nonetheless!) about the censorship of the Internet. Quote: “… action exposed “a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state”, and that the Government would soon lose credibility and respect among the people.” Well, under his rule, I’d not be surprised if the ISA was used sooner… but whole other matter, right?
  • Reporters without borders picked up on it.
  • The Edge reported on it, and this takes the cake, because they were accusing “comments” – “MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi was quoted as saying the regulator ordered the block because it found that “some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement”.”
  • Google, Go Away! – Rocky, tells Google to not build their multi-billion dollar data centre in Malaysia. Its been a long standing rumour that they planned to do this for a while
  • SKMM: M’sia Today block order stands, probe underway in where they are deciding which Section of the Act to pick on, and where The Star decides to be relevant and links to the mirror site!

Well, the dark days of Internet censorship are averted. Bloggers beware though, the use of claims of libel, sedition, or just the ISA, might be around the corner. I love how ABC news mentions “a journalist, a blogger and a Member of Parliament” when they cover the recent ISA arrests. A blogger.

Right to act against Malaysia-Today?

Now, it seems like there are only 19 ISPs, from the previous 21.


Malaysia Today Mirror/Alternate URL Information
Malaysia-Today IP: 202.75.62.114
Malaysia-Today alternate URL: http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the pain. read more…


The Star is reporting:


“Everyone is subject to the law, even websites and blogs,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

“We do not intend to curtail people’s freedom or right to express themselves.

“But when they publish things that are libellous, slanderous or defamatory, it is natural for SKMM to act,” he said in Parliament lobby on Thursday.

No Syed Albar, you are wrong (re: natural for SKMM to act). When something is libellous, slanderous, or defamatory, you tell them to remove the content, failing which, you take them to court, file a civil suit against them, and see what happens at the hand of the law. You do not censor the Internet. This is exactly what is happening to Raja Petra – he’s being charged for criminal defamation (and probably more?).

Syed Albar goes on to add, as reported in Malaysiakini:

He defended blocking access to Malaysia Today that has attacked top leaders, saying it had ignored warnings against publishing “slanderous” articles.

That’s really the crux of the problem. Malaysia for the longest time, under the iron fisted rule of Mahathir, never questioned leaders in the open. Those that did, were put behind bars, under the ISA (thanks to things like the Printing Presses Act, etc.) Of course, exposure to the rest of the world, and the Internet, has helped shape the people to become much braver.

Now, everyone’s playing the blame game (or pretending to be dumb):

  • Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister was not aware – he thinks they may have brief the Minister, but definitely not him. Where’s the Minister? In Bali. On vacation?
  • Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Information Minister says he’s aware but its not under his jurisdiction

Picking on Section 263, while ignoring Section 3 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998:

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.

Also via Malaysiakini:


“The commission and the government should acknowledge that the problem at hand is the failure of the mainstream media to fulfil its duties in reporting information adequately, truthfully and fairly and not go on a witch hunt of content providers in cyberspace, which holds the only meaningful free space for critical and challenging expression in Malaysia.”

A wise statement executed by V Gayathry from the Centre for Independent Journalism.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Not unprecedented
The Star goes on to report that the MCMC has done this previously before, for websites involved in fraudulent investment schemes, last year. From that list, swisscashguide.com and swisscash.biz still work – so did they remove the DNS block, or do they set a time for it to expire? When such firms exist, you don’t block their websites – you take them to court for violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (commonly referred to as BAFIA), and shut them down, I believe.

Jaring shines thru
Its worth noting that while TMNet/Streamyx has complied (they have the biggest market penetration for DSL users), Jaring (the oldest ISP in Malaysia) hasn’t (hopefully its not a yet, I just hope they ignore the directive – a feisty Dr. MAL still being there?). ns.jaring.my and dns1.jaring.my still resolve the regular malaysia-today.net website.

The blogosphere aloud
Jeff Ooi has called for the hanging of the idiots @ MCMC. Lim Kit Siang has chimed in. LiewCF is telling people how to bypass the blocks. Daniel from Global Voices Online asks What exactly is sedition?.

If you have any more interesting links, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post. If someone has a copy of the circular sent to the ISPs, it will make for a public shaming.

Malaysia Today Mirror

Malaysia-Today IP: 202.75.62.114
Malaysia-Today alternate URL: http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the pain.read more…


Mainstream media, always picking up things late. I’ve already suggested that they may soon be irrelevant as they’re only propaganda machinery, governed by the Minister of Propaganda (current ruling BN – go read George Orwell).

The Star is reporting that all ISPs ordered to cut access to the Malaysia Today site. Apparently, Malaysia has 21 ISPs – who knew, this? It goes on to say:


The notices were sent out on Tuesday in accordance with Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

“This means that MCMC is allowed to block any particular website which has committed acts that contravene the local laws of the country, for example, sedition,” the source said.

Read ACT 588 – COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 if you’re so inclined. If bored, the MCMC has a list of Acts that come under their purview.

Raja Petra hosts the site in a MyLoca data centre… owned and operated by TMNet. What’s next, turning off his tubes?

I don’t particularly read RPK, but I do find it disturbing that they’ve chosen to censor the Internet. In his usual flamboyant self, RPK says:


“The Government has clearly broken its own promise,” said Raja Petra yesterday. Asked whether he was notified of the reasons of the blocking, he answered no.

“I will turn this into a big issue, no doubt. When it is known that the Government has violated the charter, MSC will die. I will personally see to it,” he said.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Companies, thinking about coming to Malaysia, using the MSC status? Think twice… its starting to seem more and more like Beijing. I like how he says the “MSC will die” – the way I look at it, the MSC never took off as the then Prime Minister, Mahathir said it would. You don’t hear Cyberjaya being synonymous with Bangalore, do you? Topic for discussion, another day.

I urge more people to put up EFF badges supporting bloggers rights. Don’t let this wannabe-autocratic government take over.

N/B: Title says “mirror” as opposed to alternate URL… It makes it easier for indexing, afaik.


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