Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Malaysia reforms via the Internet & bridging the digital divide

MidinAs a Malaysian growing up & living in Kuala Lumpur, East Malaysia was always just further away and a place where you didn’t quite visit. It always seemed mystical to me. I met children of timber tycoons in Melbourne making me curious of the land. Finally, it was a book I read which talked about midin in Borneo that made me want to visit Sarawak in 2006.

Sarawak is a beautiful place (as is Sabah which I saw a little later). It was however nothing like KL, despite being a rich state. For a city slicker, this was rather eye-opening.

Today I saw the video Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State. If you are a Malaysian, I urge you to spend 20 minutes watching the video, then taking action (signing the petition, tweeting & posting it to your Facebook friends). Then share this.

First up, a big kudos to Global Witness. This kind of investigative undercover journalism shows that they have big goals. 

Next, while the old man, Dr. Mahathir is mostly spewing garbage these days, we have to thank him for one thing: the promise of no Internet censorship that he made in 1996 when he launched the MSC Malaysia initiative. It only took three years before Malaysiakini started, thus having a pretty good run on press freedom. By 2008, this stuff got more mainstream with the launch of the free Malaysian Insider.

Social media is big these days. People talk to more people & have touch points with more people.

One thing that is clear about the video that stood out to me is how the poor are exploited. They lack information. They lack access to knowing their rights. They are fed with propaganda and are expected to be happy. They are affected by the digital divide, that needs to be bridged.

Overall, I’m quite excited about people getting connected to the Internet. Malaysia nearly has 29 million people, however statistics suggest:

  • 1.7 million DSL connections exist as of June 2012 (source) [or maybe its 2 million from this source]
  • 16.9 million Internet users (source) as of early 2010 (though I believe this statistic includes Internet users via mobile broadband, cell phones & possibly dial-up)
  • 17.5 million Internet users as of 2011 (source)
  • 30.4 million cell phones (yes, people have more than one)
  • 7.4 million 3G subscribers (likely to increase with smartphone rebates)

From what I can tell, that’s a huge population that needs to get connected. Connections are just pipes that allow free-flow of information.

The next thing to focus on: getting information out to citizens. Keeping them informed. Allowing them to make informed decisions.

Overall, Malaysia is going to change. It is an interesting system to watch as the Internet becomes more pervasive and the digital divide is bridged. The system is headed for a reboot.

On Ma.gnolia, and data recovery

There’s a good podcast from Chris Messina and Larry Halff, about what really happened at Ma.gnolia. If you’re at all interested in what happened (i.e. how did they lose all their bookmark data), don’t hesitate to watch the video. I took some quick notes:

  • half a terabyte database file got corrupted
  • a mysql 5 database
  • everything was running even though there was corruption, and eventually, the site went down
  • backup system also failed, as it didn’t backup the data from mysql
  • backup was just backing up corrupted data (file sync over a firewire network was the backup mechanism)
  • a Rails application, he now recommends clouds over running your own infrastructure for startups
  • a couple of xserves (for database, etc.) and four intel mac minis as front end web servers
  • the site didn’t actually make any money

So I don’t know if Baron can rescue Ma.gnolia, per se, but I think the problem was largely:

Doing a file sync over the Firewire network, as the backup mechanism

You can’t safely backup MySQL that way. I don’t know what mechanism was used, but it sounds like rsync, and as much as I love rsync, I wouldn’t use it to backup a live running MySQL database that way.

With two servers, there should have been MySQL replication.

I’m curious if the data recovery Baron talks about is that of using the utility ddrescue? After all, ddrescue gets the raw data off the block device, without even trying to mount it. After that, you can attempt to recover the MySQL data off disk. In fact, I was surprised that the Ubuntu folk have a very nice Data Recovery page – no information about extracting MySQL databases, but its nothing a little hackery won’t get you.

I tried to ping Larry on Twitter, to ask what engine they were using… No response, per se. Good luck, and I hope the users get their data back, in time!

On corruption

A few weeks ago, I attended a fiduciary bootcamp. I didn’t even know what it meant.

“involving trust, esp. with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary : the company has a fiduciary duty to shareholders.”

It was generally not a productive use of my time, but a choice quote through it all, caught my attention.

We need to recognize corruption for what it is. Officials who take bribes are stealing from their own people — not just money but governmental legitimacy and the hope of a better future. Their actions distort government decisions, waste scarce resources, and undermine public trust in political leaders and institutions. What’s more, corruption makes it more difficult for governments to implement laws and policies, and to attract and hold essential foreign investment.

Larry Fisher

This was presented at his keynote address at Rice University, in a talk titled “Taking a corporate stand against public corruption“. Choice reading (and I don’t normally consider reading stuff from a lawyer, choice reading).