Posts Tagged ‘rawideabin’

Postcards, an iPhone app idea, and HazelMail

First birthday wishes A few months ago, I had this idea, that I shared with a few people, for a cool iPhone app. The idea was roughly:

Take a photo. Use said app. Add a message. Pick an address (preferably out of your Address Book). And have it mailed out, without you having to look for a post office, a postcard or a stamp. And never have to worry about charges — it’ll just be billed via your account on file, either via PayPal or direct credit card debit.

The problem with this business model is that:

  1. I need to work out printers – there must be local printers in various locations, typically of the destination.
  2. I need to work out how postal services work, in general, and what’s the most profit-friendly option

The margins, I figured, will be low. The application will either work via (roaming – one would assume) 3G/EDGE, or a common WiFi network, which you tend to get pretty much everywhere these days. WiFi should be preferred, since you don’t want to be slapped with a large roaming data bill. The Two Apostles

Anyway, I purchased the iPhone 3.0 SDK about a month back, and started hacking. Finding a name was going to be interesting, since apps like iPostCard, already existed. Ha! Names are so important, I think.

Today, I read about how to Turn your iPhone photos into postcards with HazelMail. HazelMail does exactly what I was planning to do. They’ve worked out all the business aspects, too, and charge your account with HazelBucks (so 1 postcard = USD$1 basically).

The only problem I can see with this whole idea (HazelMail’s and mine)? Stamp collectors. Some people love stamps from foreign lands, and that is part of the appeal, of receiving a postcard. However, I don’t know that many stamp collectors these days, and I do want to send postcards, so this was really, just trying to scratch an itch, and I’m glad that HazelMail has done so. Time to give it a try, and work on my next app idea ;)

Sun Tech Days Hyderabad

I had the pleasure of addressing a crowd of over 1,000+ people yesterday, at the Sun Tech Days event in Hyderabad. I think this might as well be the biggest number of attendees at a talk that I’ve given. I spoke on MySQL: The Database for Web 2.0, and the notes for this talk are largely indexed at MySQL for Developers. Its more or less the standard deck for the Tech Days events these days.

The best part? The questions. I had intelligent questions, and they lasted well over twenty minutes, and there was even more chatter afterwards. Twenty minutes might not seem like a lot, but this is Asia, and in some audiences, you’d be hard pressed to get even a single question! MySQL is hot, in India. Really, really, hot.

I’m glad to see that most people are using MySQL 5 and 5.1. I’m not so glad to see that most people don’t know about storage engines – most are using MyISAM without even knowing it, and they don’t know there exist other engines. This is what I notice, every time I talk about storage engines, though. For the astute MySQL developer, the DevZone is known (thanks to the documentation, mainly), but the Forge is almost unheard of. Planet MySQL seems to be more popular, actually.

Arun Gupta has some nice pictures and videos of the event in general. For me, I was jet-lagged after a massive delay in my flight leaving Kuala Lumpur (plane was unserviceable), and I only mustered under three hours of sleep before addressing the large crowd of folk.

The Tech Days events for the (financial) year are winding down, and for the next (financial) year, we (MySQL/The Database Group, in general) need to plan to be first class citizens at the event. Not only in terms of talks, but we need booth space (we’re about the only Sun project lacking a booth). After all, we have interesting things to talk about: MySQL, Drizzle, MySQL Enterprise Tools/Merlin, Workbench, Proxy, Query Analyser/Quan, Cluster, Replication, DTrace, Virtualisation and the database (VirtualBox? xVM?), etc. This list is probably never ending, so some cool demos, lots of fact sheets, maybe even USB sticks of goodies (2GB sticks are dirt cheap, and loading it up with information not only make people want to get a stick, but makes them learn more – hopefully before they format it! :P).

VoteMatch as a propoganda fighting machine

Check out VoteMatch USA. This idea was developed in the Netherlands by the Institute for Political Participation, I saw it on CNN today, and now they’ve got it applied to the US Elections.

I always felt I liked Barack Obama, but now I know that I am skewed to his policies, by about 83%. I really like the idea of VoteMatch.

In 2008, Malaysians showed Barisan Nasional that they’ve had enough. March 8 2008 is a day that will go down in history books. The next general elections, Malaysians will be ready for something like VoteMatch Malaysia. By 2012/2013, there will be so much Internet penetration, even more young guns who’ve been exposed to more freedoms, and even more that will want change.

VoteMatch is a propaganda fighting machine. No matter how many adverts there are in the media, how much parties embrace social media, there’s just been no way to show clearly, whom one would want to vote for. VoteMatch seems to be the answer

MNP here; mobile content thoughts

This is a busy week for the MCMC. They’ve just announced that Mobile Number Portability (MNP), will now be a reality (a rather delayed reality. There is a FAQ available. Key things to note:

  • Don’t terminate your mobile number before porting – only active numbers can be ported
  • If you’re contractually bound (12 months, etc – such offers apparently can exist, with incentives to consumers) porting will be denied (unless you break your contract, I guess)
  • Prepaid users beware – all existing credit doesn’t transfer over – so use it all up!
  • A request to port, therefore, is notice to your current provider to terminate subscription
  • Porting can take between 5-10 business days (utter bollocks, this kind of thing should take hours)
  • You may get suspended international roaming during porting, so beware

Its about time. It will only cost a minuscule RM25 to change the provider. Customer service will clearly have to improve (this would be the sole reason I move off a network, IMHO)

A long time ago, Adam (017 – now owned by Maxis) used to offer “free calls” to 017 numbers, for users on a postpaid plan; plus they had the cheapest prepaid options. I was a heavy phone user in those days – it was a long time ago, during the Nokia 5110 days (so late 90s?).

Wonder how many new service offerings like this will crop up? Optus has free 20 minute calls to Optus customers (Yes Time, from 8pm-midnight), 3 has free 3-to-3 calls for 10 minutes anytime of the day, and so on. But knowing what service provider people are on, is key. This is the main reason I carried 2 SIM cards (and phones) in Melbourne.

Well, here’s to saying goodbye to 012/017 being Maxis, 013/019 being Celcom, and 016 being DiGi.

I’m sitting here at a talk about the mobile industry now, and its all mostly focused on an overview of the mobile platform(s). Its basic (for me, but from the wide range of attendees, I think they got a lot out of it)… Location based services, APIs, Java, XHTML, all the joyous buzzwords. There’s plenty to do in the mobile industry, in terms of content creation in Malaysia (and Australia, fwiw). Lots of sites don’t have mobile specific sites, and scrolling, etc. is a pain.

Wild idea being thrown around in my head… Content creation isn’t complicated. At the last government event I attended, apparently, MOSTI has got lots of money to throw around. Some of the amusing things people got 5-figure funding for, included a guide to Malaysian beaches (not mobile related) available. Smells to me like a weekend hack for easy money.

Bandwidth is a problem… Metered bandwidth per kilobyte/megabyte isn’t something many in Malaysia think about (anyone in Australia knows the pain of this – but limitations make us present content better, IMHO). Its expensive. But I think this is a problem that will fix itself, as mobile data becomes more ubiquitous.

Then comes how to monetise this whole shindig. An interstitial does not work – they are annoying, they are a waste of bandwidth, and Mowser tried them and I believe removed them because they were largely a failure.

Mobile AdWords? Google doesn’t believe there is a market for this in Malaysia (or maybe anywhere else outside of the US). Its chicken-and-egg – till a market is built, Google won’t enter it, I’d guess.

Banners? The Star has it on their mobile site. They don’t have any public information as to how successful they’ve been. But this seems like the strongest option, currently – use an ad system powered by Slash, go out to advertisers and create unique tiny banners for them. However, this goes beyond the weekend hack idea… and that just becomes too much work.

Location based services tied into a mobile website. This could work… My social life is largely unplanned (professional life on the other hand is driven by calendars, that SMS me of appointments, even). Say I’m around the MidValley Shopping Mall, its 12:10am, and I decide I have time to kill. Access the site, it figures that there’s activity at MidValley at that time: bowling, The Dark Knight in Gold Class starting in 10 minutes, etc. Book a ticket through the site, get a commission? Banner ad for bowling, so its a “promoted” link/sponsored link, over the regular stuff (again, breaks the weekend hack rule).

If data is always on, coupled with your location, if you’re near a Burger King, it might blast you with ads saying “bring this coupon in, buy a meal, get a free ice cream”. Bluetooth based advertisers, beware – always on data+location will kick you in the nads.

OK, talk’s over, time to be social! Looks like we won’t have the Google talk after all… Thanks again to Daniel for organising this…