Posts Tagged ‘the star’

Marina crying foul over censorship?

Marina Mahathir, daughter of former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir, is crying foul in The Column That Wasn’t. Apparently, she has a Musings column in the local daily, The Star, and her column will be amiss for a week, due to the sensitive nature of the article. A few things to note:

  1. The only bit of The Star that I read, is The Star Online: Nation, their business section, and occasionally their tech pull-out. I have never read Marina’s column before.
  2. The Home Ministry has already issued a show-cause letter to The Star, and I guess they don’t want another one hanging on their shoulders.
  3. Malaysia has the Printing Presses and Publications Act, enacted by none other than Marina’s father, Dr. Mahathir. If you are in print media, you apply for a license, every year, and KDN will grant/deny you. The Star is a public listed company, and the last thing they want is a suspension of their printing license. Guess what – Dr. Mahathir had already meted such a draconian ruling once before.
  4. It was around the time of Operation Lalang, that Dr. Mahathir suspended The Star for a period of a year. In December 1987, he amended the act, aiming it at the individuals and the groups who abused the government’s liberal attitude, saying “Being liberal to them is like offering a flower to a monkey. The monkey would rather tear the flower apart than appreciate its beauty.” This is a short extract from Malaysian Maverick, by Barry Wain (currently not for sale in Malaysia, as its being held by the Home Ministry — reading it, you can understand why they would need to protect the interests of the ruling party).
  5. Marina goes on to say: “But still there is room for courage, to stand up for freedom of speech. If we capitulate every time, then why bother publishing at all?” By now, such an articulate woman would know, that Malaysia lacks freedom of speech. The Sedition Act is called upon quite easily, and whom did they all learn this from? Her father. The printed press has always been controlled – those in the press will argue that things have improved, but Malaysians with a modicum of understanding by and large look at the press as controlled, and pro-government. But they have to be, right?
  6. She continues: “And as many have pointed out, what is the point of censoring the mainstream media when there is the freewheeling internet?” Exactly. She says she has continued to write her column for the last 20+ years, because of “many loyal readers who don’t necessarily read anything online”. What is the reach of The Star? 1 million? In a population of 28 million. I’m willing to bet that The Star gets quite a lot of online readers, and the older population are also, reading stuff on the Internet. Malaysiakini with its pay-wall, has an incredible number of subscribers and readers. There are other avenues, and the online medium is the place the Printing Presses and Publications Act cannot touch. Censorship in itself, cannot happen, thanks to the MSC Bill of Guarantees (for which, we must thank Dr. Mahathir for). But freedom of speech, can/may be curtailed thanks to the Communications & Multimedia Act (CMA) (for which, we must also thank Dr. Mahathir). Sedition, offensive content, etc. are all things you can be charged for. You remember #yorais? Participated in it? You could be in violation of Section 211 of the CMA 1998.
  7. Questioning The Star’s self-respect, is silly. They respect their shareholders, advertisers, employees, and readers. That’s why they didn’t publish something the Home Ministry might take offence to. After all, her beef should be with her father – he taught them how.
  8. Reading through her article, I appreciate her honesty and her questioning of issues that are pertinent to many Malaysians. My opinion of her column has clearly changed – maybe I will start reading it regularly. She’s also on Twitter – with a protected account nonetheless – @netraKL.
  9. Assuming the Home Ministry really did not want such an article published, they’ve probably got Marina Mahathir a lot more readers, just by trying to censure her. That is something the National Front has never learned. History, all but, repeats itself.

BLOB streaming, Raj Kissu, in the newspapers

Raj Kissu is in the papers today. He completed a Google Summer of Code 2008 project with MySQL, hacking on blob streaming for phpMyAdmin. In fact, his project was so good, he has commit access to the phpMyAdmin tree :-)

Today, The Star had an article about him (and two other students), titled For the love of code. He said:

But Raj has already heard ­inquiries for his project. “A ­company that has developed a transactional engine using MySQL server have clients who want to test BlobStreaming,” he said.

Kudos Raj. I think we’ll see more great work from Paul McCullagh and Barry Leslie, as more happens with Scalable BLOB Streaming for MySQL happens.

In fact, Barry Leslie from PrimeBase will be speaking about blob streaming in his talk titled BLOB Streaming: Efficient reliable BLOB handling for all storage engines, at the MySQL Conference & Expo 2009. What are you waiting for – register now and save! See you at CE2009!

The Eight-Week Rule

I really like The Age’s Blog Central. I wish more papers took on new media (The NYTimes is another shining example, of a good new media citizen, coming from the old media world). The Star Online tries with the Citizen’s Blog, which is crowd-sourced blog entries. The Age explores new boundaries, topics that may not make its way to print, but can definitely be OK for online dissemination. Plus you get comments. Crowd-sourcing blog posts, under the guise that you’ll get more readership (for the author) probably doesn’t make too much sense… everyone will jump on the idea of creating their own blog, and harnessing the many ad networks there are out there…

What’s hit my RSS reader for today? The eight-week rule from All men are liars.

…formalisation of a new dating regulation – the eight-week rule – a time period “at the commencement of a relationship, in which there is no obligation on behalf of either party to offer any form of commitment”.

“On one hand, the eight-week rule offers (dare we say encourages) eight weeks of carefree fun, even when you know full well there is no future in the relationship. On the other hand, it forces you to lay your cards on the table after eight weeks, and discourages you from stringing the other person along or getting too comfortable with a person you’re not that interested in,”

Read it. Laugh at it. Realise it will probably never make a print magazine/paper, unless its the relationship column of some rag. But go on and read the comments. Some are downright witty. They make for excellent Sunday reading. And urban myth or not, this eight-week rule (or Sam’s three-week one) makes a lot of sense

The Star Online does TV!

I hardly visit websites anymore, preferring instead to muck with feeds, in my current feed reader of choice (Google Reader, on this very fine day, kept in a site-specific browser). But I did visit The Star Online recently, and was shocked to find that they had a multimedia section, that also had video clips! Its called

The Star Online - newspaper also hosting video

A newspaper, traditional media that is print, embracing video? I wonder if reporters are carrying around little FlipMino’s :)

Seems somewhat popular even. On Thursday Malacca divorcing George Town had a paltry 163 views. Today, its Sunday, and its up to 1,089 views. Most viewed video is at 9,752 views, in where Thaksin goes shopping in Dubai.

Its interesting to see that they’re hosting the videos on YouTube and embedding them. They have 740 subscribers to their YouTube feed (soon to be 741 as I subscribe to them :P)… They’ve been around for over a year, and have had under 35,000 views in their channel – nothing exactly fancy, but a good start. Its also good to note that they’re not updating it like once every day – it gets updated several times a day.

Kudos to this old media company, exploring new media… As more people think about IPTV, as more mobile phones support fast data access, as more people stop reading dead tree newspapers, this kind of experimentation is going to pay off for them.

learn2scale – what’s up with Malaysian news sites? Will the cloud work for them?

Seriously kids, what’s with the lack of scalability? I’ve never seen CNN or the NYTimes go down on “trimmed” versions.

Is it a question of bandwidth? Is it lack of hardware?

Malaysiakini - learn2scale

Take for example, Malaysiakini (the first alternative news source in Malaysia, with a subscription model built around it). It runs FreeBSD, uses PostgreSQL, and has a CMS on top of it (so almost a LAMP stack right there). There’s even use of Squid for caching. Yet there’s lacking load balancing? This is where the cloud can come into play, when there’s high traffic.

The Malaysian Insider - learn2scale

Next up, The Malaysian Insider. They’re the new kid on the block. Its probably Linux, Joomla, and MySQL is confirmed. No caching (hello, memcached at some stage?). Looks like a one server operation. Again, if you want to start lean, scale to the cloud…

Of course, what takes the cake, is one of the most famous dailies, The Star. The .asp tells me they’re on some kind of Microsoft platform, and I don’t know how scalable that is (maybe with their goo). But for a major newspaper (ala the NYTimes equivalent in Malaysia), I’m surprised they’re too busy to serve us content.

The Star Online - learn2scale

Is it the fault of the applications
Is the next wave, getting open source applications to act in a scalable fashion? A CMS like Drupal or Joomla, how ready is it for instant scaling? After all, EC2 has persistent storage (I don’t know if Sun’s offers this or not?).

It seems like there’s a lot of OpenSolaris images for EC2 and web stuff, at OpenSolaris on Amazon EC2. I see a Joomla AMI, for example. How easy is this to plug-in for something like The Malaysian Insider? How easy will it be for them to scale up their services (i.e. start more instances, but will Joomla load balance? What considerations must they make if they went this route?). Similar question for the Drupal AMI.

I’m thinking I need to spend some time playing with “the cloud” in due time… Any thoughts or pointers on this, are also graciously appreciated.