Posts Tagged ‘malaysia’

What has happened to Dell’s online shopping experience?

I tried to buy a Dell laptop in Malaysia. The old way was such that I would place the order online, and checkout with my credit card. A process that would take 10-15 minutes.

The new way? Configure it, and call up someone at Dell. They then send you an email within a few hours. You are meant to then go pick it up at a distributor, and pay them via cheque or cash. No more credit cards. 

So I walked to the Lenovo store in MidValley. Plonked down my credit card (an Amex was accepted; and there was no extra 2% charge like you may get at Low Yat), and walked away with a Lenovo laptop, with the same 3-year next day on-site business warranty. I think I even saved some money compared to the Dell that I was speccing out.

I have to admit that this is a step back for Dell in Malaysia. The contrast to Apple? It takes about 5 minutes to configure everything and just make payment online. It’s that easy. Even many of the monitors I used to enjoy buying now basically say “call dell”. This can’t be a good way to move the company forward, eh?

Safety in Malaysia and the external perception

I am sitting at The Pier, a Cathay Pacific Lounge in the Hong Kong airport. While I still occasionally swing by The Wing, The Bridge, and The Cabin (in that order), this lounge has become my favourite, as you can get a 20-30 minute complimentary massage, which makes the transit a lot more bearable.

Today’s interesting conversation in the massage area (it is usually quiet, but occasionally you get a chatty passenger) happened to be with a gentleman on the same flight I would be on. He was born in Kerala, but grew up in New Delhi, and spent the last four years as an expat in Kuala Lumpur. His masseuse, like all ours at The Pier, are from Nepal.

She had been to Kuala Lumpur when she was about sixteen. And her friends and her were planning on going to Kuala Lumpur in September 2015, but they are rethinking it due to the fact that Kuala Lumpur is not safe.

Hong Kong she says is very safe. She takes a bus at 4am to reach the airport at 5.30am. She thinks that Singapore is safe. But KL lately, is not safe. The expat agrees. Whether true or perception, this is going to affect our tourist arrival numbers!

As a Malaysian, I wonder how many of us are waking up to this reality? What are we going to do to fix it?

Bitcoin Exchanges can’t work in Malaysia

News today: Genneva (gold trading company, launched by former Prime Minister Mahathir) Malaysia director charged with accepting deposits without a license.

So if you’re thinking of a Bitcoin exchange in Malaysia, think again. Bank Negara Malaysia obviously doesn’t think much of Bitcoin. How will you accept deposits without a license? 

Singapore on the other hand proves itself to be in the forefront of finance: treat Bitcoin like a product. Read the full IRAS statement. Singapore is about to get its first Bitcoin ATM soon.

For further reading, see the BAFIA 1989, in its entirety. Once again, laws that prevent innovation.

What value does Najib & his entourage bring from Silicon Valley visit?

I was alerted to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, visiting San Francisco by a bunch of friends on a Whatsapp group I’m on. Someone took a picture of the front page of The Sun. The article is online: Najib on working visit to San Francisco, NY. There’s more: Najib to tweet from Twitter Hq in San Francisco on Monday and PM tweets live from Twitter HQ. I will dissect all this later. Bear with me as this might be long, but I think these innovation tourism trips are an immense waste of money.

Now, before you continue reading, please go and read this article from the Financial Times: Valley visitors must bring back more than the T-shirt by Richard Waters (April 17 2013). If you’re not a subscriber, Google the title and I’m sure you can find it (or just browse in incognito mode, that might work?). This is mandatory reading because it will set the tone for what I have to digest.

Najib arrived in San Francisco with his wive Rosmah. I have to ask — what is the role of Rosmah, besides to help prop up the US economy? They took their private jet to arrive in San Francisco, which can be afforded to the man that is the Prime Minister (a Boeing Business Jet, a customised 737). Najib’s purpose was to attend the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), initiated by Najib in 2010, to transform Malaysia into a high-income economy by enhancing capabilities in science & innovation. He also toured Twitter & Google (only to meet happy Malaysians working away from Malaysia), and as Prime Minister, this is his first visit to Silicon Valley. 

Najib has 1.7 million Twitter followers, many of whom are fake. He met Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who’s probably really happy that Najib contributes to his bottom-line. Najib was supposed to have dinner with Malaysians, but a few that I knew who applied, weren’t invited. Najib will experience the Google driverless car and Google Glass.

At this point I’m thinking none of this impresses me. 

Let’s dissect some statements:

  1. “Najib has been dubbed by many as among world leaders who is most active in tweeting.” – is he tweeting more, than he is leading?
  2. “Foreign CEOs (chief executive officers) are very impressed with his knowledge in IT (Information Technology)…he even knows more about technical stuff than some of us. He impresses CEOs and big-time entrepreneurs in a big way,” said a Malaysian official commenting on Najib’s scheduled visit to Twitter on Monday. – if only this official would state his or her name.
  3. On the significance of his first visit to Silicon Valley as Malaysia’s prime minister, the official said Najib would gain the experience of the Silicon Valley ecosytem which would help his government in the successful implementation of its transformation programmes. – How do you gain experience in 3 days? What good is looking at a driverless car or playing around with Google Glass going to do for you? Naturally, the buzzwords had to be dropped in: use data and big data analytics strategies for specific people to transform the country.

I know that they had events at The Fairmont, InterContinental Mark Hopkins and the Grand Hyatt. While I might stay at the latter from time-to-time, I also know that this week is Oracle OpenWorld. All hotel prices are about 300% what they are usually set at, as 60,000 conference attendees throng to San Francisco. 

What irked me and prompted me to write this is the fact that Najib is also accompanied by cabinet ministers and senior government officials. Say holiday with me, people.

Go back and read Valley visitors must bring back more than a t-shirt. Najib and his entourage arrived to learn the secrets that turned San Francisco into an innovation hotspot. When all these people come back to reality (read: Malaysia), they will claim a heightened state of enlightenment. However even Silicon Valley locals know that, “the chances that anything of lasting value will come from these pilgrimages are slight.” The term for this is: innovation tourism.

The article by Richard Waters cannot be truer. The stories next week will be along the lines of this:

The VIPs among them are given something to talk about when they get home, like a spin in Google’s driverless car or a chance to graze at the sushi and barbecue bars in Facebook’s free canteen.

Can these experiences turn it into lasting value for Malaysia? Can Malaysia act with speed? Can Malaysia act with meritocracy? Can one inject a sense of urgency into Malaysians? Will Najib & his entourage go away with this knowledge in 3 days?

This trip was organised by MDeC as part of the Industry Advisory Panel (IAP). Badlisham is going to tell Silicon Valley 16 years later how far we’ve come? MDeC is footing the bill for its own delegation and possibly some entrepreneurs paid their own way there.

Why is MDeC wasting money? What has happened with the IAP for the last 16 years? What has MDeC achieved in the last 16 years? I have been to an IAP meeting when I was part of Sun Microsystems – a lot of talk, but nothing came out of it. Lots of nodding heads. Lots of potentially great ideas. But it just ends at that. Ideas.

I’ve seen MDeC send delegations overseas. Fully paid trips, business class travel, plush hotels (remember, San Francisco’s hotels are at a premium this week). Not to mention great food. A few years ago, a delegation went to an opensource conference in the USA. None of the delegation were in the opensource world, yet the government of Malaysia paid for their fun. Shortly thereafter, the MDeC lead left the organisation; none of the delegates have done anything remotely opensource since then. Can you say holiday with me, people? Another delegation went to Europe, only to note that members (senior) of that delegation was going to leave MDeC anyway. Can you say holiday with me, people?

I am of the belief that innovation tourism is a waste of money and time. All this might impress the average villager but the urban population see this as an incredible waste of money.

Mark my words: nothing will come out of this trip. Sure, some companies would announce their availability of services, press releases, etc. Nothing that couldn’t have been done by the companies themselves (not requiring Najib & his entourage). Malaysia has fundamental problems that doesn’t make it like the United States of America. Cyberjaya is a pale comparison to Silicon Valley.

Any guesses how much was wasted spent on this trip? This is the same government telling you to cut back on expenses as they increase fuel prices by 20 sen a litre.

Apple revises prices upwards in Malaysia due to falling ringgit

New iMac’s have been announced by Apple. 21.5″ models cost RM400 more. 27″ models cost RM500 more. These are the base models suggested retail prices. In the Singapore and the USA, prices have remained the same.

Apple has revised prices in Malaysia due to the weakening Ringgit. That’s about a 10% increase Malaysians are paying for new iMac’s. This will probably be reflected for iPhone prices as well. And if things don’t improve, iTunes content.

Which Linode is the best if you serve a Malaysian audience

On 19 April 2010, I did some quick research to see which Linode host was right for you, if you were serving mostly Malaysian clients. I did traceroutes and looked at the output of curl. Linode provides speedtest files for you (they’re 100MB in size). I tested it against Streamyx 512kbps and 4mbps accounts (something that I can say was popular in Malaysia back in 2010). I intend to repeat this test again soon, but I have no longer got any Streamyx accounts available, so I expect all this should be much faster.

Server 512kbps
tracert hops
512kbps avg download speed 512kbps time spent 4mbps tracert hops 4mbps avg download speed 4mbps time spent
London 8 52722 0:33:08 8 103k 0:16:24
Newark 11 52561 0:33:14 11 192k 0:08:52
Atlanta 12 52663 0:33:11 13 261k 0:06:31
Dallas 16 47762 0:36:35 16 99k 0:17:07
Fremont 9 52338 0:33:23 9 408k 0:04:10

From the table above, you want the highest average download speed, with the lowest time spent. Upon multiple tests, on a 512kbps link, London was the quickest in terms of delivery (it also only took 8 hops to reach). However on the 4mbps link, its clear that Fremont is the best, even though it took 9 hops to reach.

Conclusion for me back then was that Fremont is a clear winner so choose a server based in Fremont. Tokyo didn’t exist before. Go on, host at Linode, they’re a great VPS provider.