Archive for October, 2011

Google Galaxy Nexus With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

by on Oct.19, 2011, under Posts

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Google Galaxy Nexus

The next generation of Google’s Android platform with their flagship phone model has been announced in Hong Kong on 18 Oct 2011. This is the fourth major version of the open mobile platform code-named Ice Cream Sandwich.

Here is my take on the new features and capabilities being shown now.

New look and feel – The new font is very pleasing to look with its slight curves at the ends of letters. I’ve always favoured the darker theme starting with 3.x and this version will do well to give that kind of sophistication to the device.

Face Unlock – Should be quite secure, knowing that face recognition technology can differentiate between a live human face and a photo. My concern is whether the front-facing camera is fast enough to be enabled and unlock the phone compared to existing methods. What about lighting conditions, cultural limitations, and when you are not in a comfortable position to use your face?

Android Beam – Now this is the future of sharing with friends physically near to you. It has always been a hassle to go through the vast data network just to go between devices a few feet away. Bluetooth transfers are not platform-agnostic and tends to be slow.

Voice typing – A useful feature we all know as dictation. Has to be real-time and not have to wait for it to “think” after finishing a sentence. Still, I’ve yet to see any such voice recognition technology being able to understand all variants of English. I remember IBM used to do this quite well with your own voice being trained first. Compared to Siri on the iPhone 4S, I think this lacks that extra ability to get your phone to do simple tasks without typing, such as create reminders and search for short answers.

Google+ – We already got that everywhere, Google.

Browser – Good to improve on the tab management. I find myself going to the menu too often to move between tabs. This is not difficult to implement, what took you so long?

Gmail – Offline capability is important, as much as people use this on their desktops. Bring it to Google Docs too!

Mobile Data Management – Eh, 3G Watchdog?

Single-Motion Panoramic Camera – Simple trick of recording your shot in video then stitching the best frames together to make that panorama effect. Nothing new or useful here (how often do you look or print a panorama?).

Vibrant high-definition display – 4.65″ sAMOLED with 720p screen? Sorry I don’t intend to carry a TV in my pocket and I don’t think I’ll grow bigger hands any time soon.

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Nokia 8110

Contour Display – Nokia 8110, no thanks.

Conclusion

I’m not greatly impressed by the feature list. While it is good to leave hardware buttons in the past, ICS lacks new ideas on the way we interact with the device. Why don’t we make more use of the sensors such as the gyroscope, compass, GPS and microphone?

Location-based services are very useful these days, if you can develop the smart apps for it. Videos and other data-intensive apps need the ability to download via wi-fi and in the background, managed by the Android system.

Use the display in new ways, such as a means to communicate or as a dashboard in the car. We need better graphic API with lower cost of C/GPU usage. I’m not interested in having a 2GHz chip in my pocket when the GUI staggers along!

What are your thoughts on this phone and Android 4.0?

Links

Google Galaxy Nexushttp://www.google.com/nexus

Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexushttp://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2011/10/unwrapping-ice-cream-sandwich-on-galaxy.html

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Malaysia Budget 2012

by on Oct.07, 2011, under Posts

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Malaysia Budget 2012

Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will deliver the nation’s budget spending plan for 2012 on 7 October 2011 4pm.

The following are the areas where the Malaysian government intends to spend on for national growth and development:

  1. Budget Allocation
    1. RM232.8 billion in total to be used for spending by the Government, where it is split into RM181.6 billion for management and RM51.2 billion for development.
    2. RM29.8 billion will be invested into infrastructure, industrial and rural development.
    3. RM13.6 billion has been planned for the education and training, welfare, housing and community development.
    4. RM978 million will be spent to encourage growth in five regional sectors.
  2. Infrastructure
    1. RM98.4 billion will be allocated evenly between 2012 & 2013.
    2. Government will embark on major projects such as the East Coast Highway from Jabor to Terrenganu and road upgrades from Kota Marudu to Ranau.
  3. Finance
    1. Non-ringgit sukuk issuance and transactions will continue to be exempted from income tax for another 3 years.
    2. A RM2 billion shariah-compliant SME Financing Fund will be created and managed by selected Islamic banks.
    3. Maximum of RM1 million loans will be available for entrepreneurs via a RM100mil SME Revitalisation Fund.
  4. Property
    1. Properties purchased and then sold after 5 years will not be subjected to real property gains tax.
    2. Residential property price limit for first-time buyers earning less than RM3,000 per month is raised from RM220,000 to RM400,000.
    3. PR1MA will be the sole agency to develop affordable quality housing for the middle-income group.
  5. Education
    1. Primary and secondary school education fees will be abolished.
    2. RM200 book voucher to be handed out to Malaysian students in all private and public institutions of higher learning.
    3. Government to spend RM50.2 billion in the education sector to develop creative and innovative people.
    4. RM1 billion will be used for construction, improvement and maintenance of schools.
    5. Private schools registered with the Education Ministry will be given incentives, such as the Investment Tax Allowance.
    6. To reward innovative student inventions, RM100 million will be provided for the C1PTA 1Malaysia Award.
  6. Businesses and Industries
    1. Of the RM20 billion PPP Facilitation Fund, RM18 billion will be used for high impact projects, and the remaining RM2 billion for bumiputera entrepreneurs.
    2. As part of the National Agro-Food Policy 2011-2020, RM1.1 billion will be spent on the development of the agriculture sector.
    3. A Commercialisation Innovation Fund worth RM500 million will be used to help SMEs commercialize research products.
  7. Transport
    1. Hybrid and electric cars will continue to enjoy import duty and excise exemption until 2013.
    2. Government will identify areas around MRT, LRT and other public transport systems that will be have housing projects developed by PR1MA.
  8. Civil Service
    1. Government pensioners will receive an additional 0.5 month salary bonus subject to a minimum of RM500 and assistance sum of RM500, both of which will commence in December 2011.
    2. Civil servants’ compulsory retirement age will be raised from 58 years old to 60.
  9. Tax Exemptions
    1. Individuals in private sector earning RM5000 and below will have their employers’ EPF contribution increased from 12% to 13%.
    2. Contributions made to educational institutions and all places of worship will tax exempt.
    3. Families with monthly household income of RM3,000 or less will be given RM500 once.
  10. Rural Development
    1. Government will allocated RM5 billion to develop rural infrastructure, such as the RM1.8 billion Rural Road Programme & Village-Link Road Project.
    2. The Orang Asli will be provided RM90 million of basic necessities, including the clean water supply project. Orang Asli affected by the landslides at Sungai Ruil will be given RM20 million to relocate their homes.
    3. RM500 million will be spent to supply clean water to the rural community in Sabah.
    4. Felda GVH will be listed on Bursa Malaysia by mid-2012 for the company to become a global conglomerate. Felda settlers will benefit from the financial liberation.
  11. Healthcare
    1. Government will spend RM15 billion for operating expenses and RM1.8 bllion on development expenses.
    2. Free Human Papilloma Virus immunisation will be launched nationwide to fight cervical cancer.
    3. Government will upgrade and build more hospitals, upgrade 81 rural health clinics, and build 50 more 1Malaysia clinics.
  12. Tourism
    1. The Langkawi Five Year Tourism Development Master Plan worth RM420 million will be launched.

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Steve Jobs Lived A Great 56 Years

by on Oct.06, 2011, under Posts

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Steve Jobs on apple.com

Steve Jobs has passed away on Wednesday 5 October 2011, aged 56 years.

Tributes, articles and tweets are pouring out as the US turns in at night. Searches from Europe and Asia are growing now as of 1000hrs GMT+8.

Although Tim Cook wrote to his Apple colleagues today about how they have “lost a visionary… and lost an amazing human being”, I’d say that all of us have had a great experience of knowing and benefitting from this man.

During the iPhone 4S launch at Cupertino, Tim and his folks seem to be lacking spirit while they presented. Tim even looked as if he knew of Steve’s grave condition but he could not share. AAPL shares dropped 2.6% after the event, but is there any further impact due to Steve’s passing?

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Sergey Brin said on G+ that Steve’s “passion for excellence is felt by anyone”, which I agree. I’m impressed by his commencement speech at Stanford University where he spoke of listening to our own voice and have faith that the important things we do will build up to our success and goals. Do what you love and love what you do.

In the end, despite being one of the richest people and owning a technology company with the largest market capitilization ever, death has taken Steve’s mortal life. Yet, he has given so much more than what many of our own lives may not (yet) have done.

Jobs will be remembered for his passion and unconventionality. Thanks for everything and have a good one, Steve.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

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Steve Jobs and Apple

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