Monday, March 31, 2008

1 Year Since I Left RCL

1 year ago on 31st March 2007, it was my last day of work at my previous company, RCL Feeder Pte Ltd.

Google Syntax Highlighter

I was doing some experimenting on some free Syntax Highlighter available on the Internet and found some interesting ones.

Currently, I am using a Code Snippet plugin for Windows Live Writer. All was working pretty fine except the plugin is not very friendly when showing of line numbers is enabled. Attempting to copy published source code by selecting text will end up line numbers being selected as well.

A further research brings me to SyntaxHighlighter on Google Code. This tool is purely in JavaScript and hence does not require the use of any third-party software or any servers to be installed. I have decided to give this tool a try and see if it integrates well with Blogger.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Malicious Email Claiming to be From Singnet

On 25 Mar 2008, I received a malicious email claiming to be from Singnet. That email attempts to trick someone into replying with their Singnet's account password.

Below is the email I received.

Sender

Singnet Account Supervisor Team

Subject

Dear Singnet member,

Body

Dear Singnet member,

You are receiving this email with regards to your personal account.Please read carefully before continuing as some vital information is being updated.

Your account is showing to be incomplete due to a data failure in our systems and you MUST provide us with a correct information within 48 hours of receiving this email. Failure to comply will result in account termination.

To update your account provide us with the following datas:

1.Username:
2.Account Password:
3.Mother maiden Name:
4.Complete Name:

Ensure the informations are correct carefully before submitting it,mistakes can terminate your account. Thank you for your support.

Account
Supervisor Team

Generic Method to Pad Array with Values

I recently wrote a code snippet to fill arrays with a value. The below method is a generic method that will accept different data types. Hope it will come in handy.
/// <summary>
/// Generic method to pad array elements with values
/// </summary>
/// <typeparam name="T"></typeparam>
/// <param name="myArray">Specified array</param>
/// <param name="startIndex">Zero based start index</param>
/// <param name="endIndex">Zero based end index</param>
/// <param name="value">Value to set for array elements</param>
 
public static void PadArrayWithValues<t>(T[] myArray, int startIndex, int endIndex, T value)
{
    //Validate bounds
    if (myArray != null && myArray.Length > endIndex && startIndex <= endIndex && startIndex >= 0)
    {
        //Set elements with value
        for (int i = startIndex; i <= endIndex; i++)
            myArray[i] = value;
    }
}

Google Involvement in Earth Hour 2008

Google users in the United States will notice today that we "turned the lights out" on the Google.com homepage as a gesture to raise awareness of a worldwide energy conservation effort called Earth Hour. As to why we don't do this permanently - it saves no energy; modern displays use the same amount of power regardless of what they display. However, you can do something to reduce the energy consumption of your home PC by joining the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone. On this day, cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Chicago, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tel Aviv, will hold events to acknowledge their commitment to energy conservation.

Given our company's commitment to environmental awareness and energy efficiency, we strongly support the Earth Hour campaign, and have darkened our homepage today to help spread awareness of what we hope will be a highly successful global event.

Google Turns Black

Special Page by Google on Earth Hour
http://www.google.com/intl/en/earthhour/

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour 2008

In 2008, 24 global cities will participate in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29. Earth Hour is the highlight of a major campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their emissions on an ongoing basis. It is about simple changes that will collectively make a difference – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty, to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.


Earth Hour 2008 Official Website
http://www.earthhour.org/

Singapore Business Supporters
http://www.earthhour.org/take-action/business-supporters/Singapore/

NETS Revises Pricing for NETS CashCard

Consumers are going to have pay more for their NETS CashCard come May, as it will include the cost of the CashCard as well. We will have to fork out S$10 for a CashCard - comprising S$5 for the cost of the card and S$5 for the stored value amount. Currently, we are paying $7 for every purchase - comprising S$5 for the stored value and another S$2 deposit which is refundable. Cards will expire every 5 years for both current and future versions.

NETS Announcement
http://www.nets.com.sg/consumers/netscashcardrevisedpricing/index.php


With this new arrangement, consumers are going to pay for NETS production costs and we are left with nothing to gain. NETS are already charging retailers more for using NETS service since 1 July 2007 and now, they are showing their soft power once again.

Do we have a choice? Just think of the number of services that need CashCard. Should you have got any feedback on NETS CashCard, you may submit yours here. But will your voices be heard?

I am going to try to get one new blue CashCard myself and refund my old one. Hope it is still available.

Google Annual Letter Excerpt from Google Annual Report 2007

The below letter written by Google is an excerpt from Google's Annual Report for 2007.

Introduction

It is amazing to me that it has been nearly ten years since Sergey and I founded Google. When we went public, we promised to write a yearly founders’ letter in a frank style to keep all of you updated on our progress. We’ve taken turns writing the letter, and this year that responsibility falls to me.

We have seen our company scale tremendously, to more than 17,000 employees in 20 countries worldwide. But what’s even more amazing to me are the possibilities that appear before us—close enough to envision, but important enough to inspire our best efforts. I’m excited and hopeful we will continue to make progress in a wide variety of significant areas. I’m also happy to report that Sergey, Eric, and I continue to work together fabulously. I feel very lucky to be working with them and with our whole growing team (growing mostly just in numbers, despite our excellent food).

Speaking of our team, I wanted to give our deep thanks to George Reyes, our retiring chief financial officer. He has served Google extremely well. I also could not be more grateful to our users, customers, Googlers (our employees), and investors who help bring everything that is Google to life.

I will try to keep this letter relatively short, but I want to cover a lot of ground. I figure if you are interested in a particular area, you can just use Google to get more depth.

Still Searching

Search is a really hard problem. To do a perfect job, you would need to understand all the world's information, and the precise meaning of every query. With all that understanding, you would then have to produce the perfect answer instantly. We are making significant progress, but remain a long way from perfection. We're so serious about improving search that more than a third of our people are working on it. Another third work on advertising. We have dramatically improved our understanding of all the different languages, the meanings and synonyms of words, and the many different types of specialized information such as businesses and products. We continue our effort to extract more and more real meaning from the web in order to help people find the right answers. We recently improved universal search, integrating different types of relevant information, such as video, maps, news, books, images, and more, right into your search results.

Sometimes you don't get a good answer to a search because the information simply isn't available on the web. So we are working hard to encourage ecosystems that can generate more content from more authors and creators. For example, we recently announced an early version of a tool called "knol" to help people generate and organize more high-quality authored content.

Systems that facilitate high-quality content creation and editing are crucial for the Internet's continued growth. Our AdSense program also helps the content ecosystem by letting any author or publisher instantly make money by inserting Google-brokered ads into their pages. This helps them pay people to write more great content in a virtuous and profitable cycle for everyone.

In all of these efforts, of course, the trust of our users is paramount. We simply will not bias our search results for financial reasons. Our ads are separated from the search results and clearly labeled. We believe strongly in maintaining the integrity of search.

I'm happy to report that we have a tremendous number of ideas to further improve search. Just about every week, we implement a new (and often clever) improvement to our basic search system. We will continue to work very hard in this area for a long time to come.

Advertising

Advertising is even harder than search. Not only do you have to find the right ad for every situation, but you have to handle paying customers! We have developed very sophisticated advertising systems designed to benefit both users and advertisers. For users, we strive to produce relevant advertising as good as the main content or search results. For advertisers, we provide tools to target and tune their advertising and accurately measure the results of their spending. Just as with search, we devise new clever improvements to our advertising system nearly every week. Fundamentally, every advertisement you see from Google results from a real-time auction conducted among advertisers. Imagine if we had a real auctioneer, how breathless and tired she would become!

Our advertising system works well, but we still have tremendous opportunities to improve it. For example, I just did a search for natural swimming pool, which returned eight righthandside ads, with only the last two of those somewhat relevant. This is both good and bad news. The good news is that we have enough breadth to have some relevant ads for an unusual topic. Furthermore, it is certainly possible to produce more relevant ads that would be valuable to both the user and the advertiser. Also, a user interested in natural pools is probably worth a considerable amount of money if there is enough competition among advertisers to bid up the auction price. The bad news is that we aren't doing a good enough job yet for this natural pools query and many others. We also happened to have a number of local pool suppliers advertising in the San Francisco area for this query. Locally targeted advertising is another important area for us to grow both in revenue and relevance.

This general problem of ad targeting is very difficult and requires cooperation from huge numbers of advertisers. We continue to make significant progress on this challenging but exceptionally worthwhile problem. Sergey and I spend an action-packed hour nearly every week reviewing the noteworthy changes to the ads system.

70-20-10

We are still keeping to our long-standing plan of devoting 70% of our resources to search and advertising. We debate where we should classify our Apps (Gmail, Docs, etc.) products, but they currently fall into the 20% of resources we devote to related businesses. We use the remaining 10% of our resources on areas that are farther afield but have huge potential, such as Android. We strongly believe that allocating modest resources to new areas is crucial to continuing to innovate. This 10% of our resources generates a tremendous amount of interest and press, precisely because these projects are different and new. Often, we find small teams of only a few people suddenly command huge attention worldwide. That's useful to keep in mind as you read about Google-the vast majority of our resources are working on our core businesses: search and advertising.

Of course, the needs of the 70% projects are different from the needs of the smaller 10% projects. While I would like to report we understand how to structure these perfectly, we are still actively evolving how we create, manage, and compensate these different kinds of projects. This is a crucial area of focus as we work to recruit and retain the best people, and keep them really happy, organized, and productive.

Acquisitions

Throughout our history, we have acquired more than 50 companies. Our goal is to be the best home for amazing companies that want to be acquired. We acquire companies in all different stages of development, but I will cover some of the larger deals here. We acquired YouTube a bit more than a year ago, and it has been growing like gangbusters. Eric worked with YouTube leaders Chad and Steve to establish a largely independent operating structure, with YouTube remaining in a separate office in San Bruno, about 25 miles from the main Googleplex. This is working well.

When we acquired Postini last year, we significantly enhanced our enterprise email capabilities and reinforced our commitment to serve the enterprise market. And by the time you read this, our acquisition of DoubleClick will have likely been cleared in Europe as well as the U.S. We are fortunate that DoubleClick's headquarters is in the same building as our Manhattan Googleplex, which will make for easier communication between the combined teams, now totaling a few thousand people. I believe DoubleClick's expertise in display advertising will be a tremendous addition to Google and will help open up new opportunities in this important market.

Apps

We have made tremendous strides in our web applications. I am writing this using Google Docs. I don't have to worry that my computer hard drive might fail and lose my work, because it is automatically being saved into the Google network cloud. Sharing what I write is easy. My colleagues can write and edit the live copy without having to email endless revisions (my writing needs a lot of revising!). You can also create spreadsheets and presentations in Docs. Every week, I approve a Google spreadsheet with a summary of every single hire we are making worldwide. With Google Apps, you can collaborate and share all types of documents and calendars with other people in your organization in seconds.

Gmail continues to enjoy tremendous growth, and now has a brand new implementation that's faster and makes it easier for us to add new features. Instant messaging within Gmail- which works right inside your browser with no installation-has been a big hit. We're also planning to roll out a plethora of new features. We are working hard to combine our many Apps offerings into a more coherent set of products that "just work." I use Google Apps every day for all of my work.

Our products are improving quickly and have incredibly powerful sharing and chat functionality that wasn't possible before the web.

We've started the next phase in productivity soft ware. That phase is about working with everyone seamlessly and effortlessly. Our goal is fast, easy access to create or share from any computer in the world. No futzing with soft ware required. Just open your browser.

Mobile

Android is our newly announced mobile phone platform. We've gathered more than 30 companies together into Android's Open Handset Alliance. The goals of Android are ambitious: We aim to make your phone work better than your computer. Android is very open, so you can run any software, just like a computer. Today, Android is released as a software toolkit for developers based on Linux, Java, and high-end web browser technologies. We and our partners are very much looking forward to having Android ship in real devices. We are excited about realizing the potential of that little computer in your pocket (your cool, web-centric Android phone).

In addition to Android, we endeavor to make all of our products work well with existing phones and have been quite successful with much greater usage in a wide variety of areas. We have been working to try to apply some of the open-access principles of the Internet to increase user choice and innovation in the mobile space. We also have been active with a 10% project focused on wireless spectrum, which has created a great deal of interest. We were successful in helping convince the US Federal Communications Commission to attach most of our desired openness principles to the ongoing 700 Mhz auction.

The World

It turns out the real world matters to people, in the form of maps, satellite images, business locations, bike paths, and all other types of geographic data. We are hard at work in all these domains. We even launched photographs of nearly everything at street level in 30 metro areas, integrated right into Google Maps (click the Street View button). Google Earth literally goes out of this world with a new Sky mode (just click on the Sky icon). You can see an amazing view of the night sky, complete with super-high resolution images from the Hubble telescope that you can zoom right into.

Speaking of the world, we don't want it to end-especially by environmental catastrophe. Consequently, we are working hard on our own considerable energy use in data centers by making them far more efficient. We're working directly on our own carbon/methane off sets to cover our usage. But we are all on the same Spaceship Earth, and we need to energetically address harmful emissions. To this end, we launched RE>C, an initiative to make renewable energy cheaper than coal-fired plants. We have started our own internal development effort, and have made investments in promising technologies. We are working on new clean technologies that could make more energy than we have now, and do it at a lower cost. Our goal is to generate a gigawatt (roughly enough to power San Francisco) of clean, cheap energy in years, not decades. If we are successful, we will not only help the world, but also make substantial profits.

We continue our efforts to make Google more global. Google is available in 160 different local country domains and 117 languages (including some obscure ones like "Swedish Chef" - Bork, Bork, Bork). While Google is available virtually everywhere there is Internet access, our business operations are in just 20 countries. We are still working to establish a significant business presence in places such as the Middle East. As we expand our operations and hire our first employees in another country, that part of Google feels like a startup.

We started Google.org with the idea of eclipsing the impact of Google itself while focusing on more philanthropic causes. Though we are working on extremely tough problems in difficult locations, we have made significant strides. We have established several main focus areas, including predicting and preventing disease; improving public services by informing and empowering people; and increasing economic growth and job creation through stimulating small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Conclusion

By organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful, we're helping people worldwide make better decisions and improve their lives. I feel lucky-I am lucky-to be involved in this important ecosystem of better information. While almost all of our effort is focused on important improvements to core search and advertising, the small percentage left over is producing a lot of important innovation and even more notice from the world. I could not be more excited about all the possibilities for Googlers to produce amazing computer experiences that their mothers and fathers-and hundreds of millions of other people-will use every day.

Larry Page
Co-Founder; President, Products

Sergey Brin
Co-Founder; President, Technology

http://investor.google.com/2007_founders_letter.html

New Google China

Google has launched a new Google China just for China. Google China uses animated icons similar to Google Korea launched last year. So far, a total of three international Google search sites are launched for Asia.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Express - Free Online Photo Sharing, Editing, Storage

Adobe Photoshop Express is a free online photo-sharing, editing, and storage site. As of its launch, users will be provided with 2GB of free storages and integration with popular Web apps such as Facebook and Photobucket. Further partnerships with sites like Flickr to come. You can crop, rotate, tweak, twirl, and show off your photos!

Adobe Photoshop Express
https://www.photoshop.com/express/

Spybot Search and Destroy - Secure File Shredder

Spybot Search and Destroy's utility Secure Shredder aims to completely remove files in a way that they will be unrecoverable with software or hardware means. Using this tool, you can remove temporary files, browser cookies, cache files, or whatever other documents you don't want others finding.

Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.5.2
http://www.download.com/Spybot-Search-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html

How to Convert XHTML to SQL Server Table?

Robyn and Phil start their investigation into XHTML by showing how to use TSQL to parse it to extract data, and demonstrate how to turn an XHTML table into a SQL Server Table!

http://www.simple-talk.com/sql/t-sql-programming/getting-html-data-workbench/

Get Full File Access to Windows Mobile Devices with Mocha FTP Server

Sounds rather cool but I doubt I am going to try it though.

http://lifehacker.com/372330/get-full-file-access-to-windows-mobile-devices-with-mocha-ftp-server

Possibility of Microsoft Office on iPhone?

It looks rather possible.

Fortune is reporting that Microsoft may be eyeing the iPhone as a potential outlet for their software, including Office applications and voice control for Apple’s iPhone.

http://bigtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2008/03/25/microsoft-looks-to-cash-in-on-the-iphone/

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interesting Never Rock or Tilt Sign


I was at East Coast Park last Friday with Regine and we spotted the above sign on a vending machine near Burger King fast food restaurant. I thought it is rather interesting.

Rules on off-in-lieu

I quote from a 25 Mar 2008 MyPaper article written by Ms Jean Tan, Director, Corporate Communications for Permanent Secretary Ministry of Manpower, on "Rules of off-in-lieu" below:

"For an employee on a five-day work week, Saturday would be considered a day-off and Sunday a rest day.

Under the Employment Act, if a public holiday falls on a day-off, an employee is entitled to one day off-in-lieu or be given one extra day's pay.

If it falls on a rest day, the law provides that the working day following the rest day will be a paid public holiday.
".

Speed Up Windows Shutdown

Should you wish to speed up Windows shutdown, you may try the below method. There is a configuration key in the Windows registry that controls how long Windows will wait for a program to end itself before killing it in the process of shutting down. Though it may looks cool to shutdown fast, the main reason as to why your background processes take long time to close is overlooked.

Shut down Windows in an instant
http://www.cnet.com/8301-13880_1-9900788-68.html

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sync Google Calendar with Microsoft Outlook™ Calendar in Two Directions

Google Calendar Sync allows you to sync events between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar. You'll be able to determine the direction of information flow, as well as the sync frequency. Direction of sync can be 2-way or 1-way specifying either from Google Calendar to Microsoft Outlook Calendar or vice versa. Staying on top of your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar events has never been easier!

http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?answer=89955

Ma Ying-jeou Elected to be New Taiwan President

Taiwan has choosen a new President. The man to succeed Chen Shui-bian, who formally leaves office in May after eight years in power is Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT. He beat Frank Hsieh of the DPP taking 58 percent of the vote.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/taiwan08/

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No More Pay By Touch Service by Citibank

Citibank credit card customers can no longer make transactions using their fingerprints.

This is because Pay By Touch, the bank's partner in biometric payment services, has discontinued such services.

Citibank launched the One-Touch biometric payment service in November 2006.

The discontinuation of the services comes about three months after Solidus Networks, owner of Pay By Touch, filed for Chapter 11 US bankruptcy protection.

http://www.paybytouch.com/pbtgo.html

I'm helping to stop global warming

Climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate solutions. That's why I've joined with Al Gore and others across the country and around the world who want to halt global warming.

We're on the verge of being over one million strong and I'm asking you to join us. Please click here today to become part of the solutions to global warming:

http://wecansolveit.org/alliance

If leaders in business and government are going to make stopping climate change a priority, we need to send a loud message that we want action now. That's why I'm asking you to get involved today:

http://wecansolveit.org/alliance

Together, we can stop global warming.

Unbelievably Poor Service from Phillip Securities

I recently have encountered a series of disappointing encounters with the service fronts. No wonder more are leaving local companies for foreign counterparts. From a ChannelNewsAsia news article, companies in Singapore are losing customers faster when compared to firms across the region. A recent survey which found that six out of ten consumers here changed service providers in the past year. I shall name SBS Transit, Citibank and Phillip Securities as those few whom I have had bad encounters with. Of course I should not stereotype an organization as a whole, however, a handful of black sheep would be enough to put a black mark on the whole. Isn't this how the world works?

I shall describe the sequence of events with Phillip Securities recently below and I bet you yourself will be left bewildered if you were me.

14 Nov 2007

I sent an email to AMK Phillip Securities to make an enquiry on transaction fees for telebroker and SMS service. Having waited for a week without reply, I decided to call Phillip Securities. I got an answer from the call.

8 Mar 2008

I finally got a reply from Phillip Securities but I was left shocked. Phillip Securities Ang Mo Kio branch actually used my Nov 2007 email to notify me on a 15 Mar 08 event. Still, no answer to my questions were provided. This just shows my email is never lost but rather, it is left ignored. I replied the email to demand an explanation from AMK Branch team.

11 Mar 2008

ZXXX replied to my email reassuring me that email was sent to the relevant department for assistance. On the same day, I replied and told ZXXX and team that I already had got answers to my questions. What I am more concerned is why simple questions like transaction fees are not known to the entire AMK team.

14 Mar 2008

For 3 days, no one replied my email. Hence, I emailed AMK team again for status. None seemed to even bother to reply. In my latest email, I threatened to escalate this issue to the higher authorities. I also appended several exclamation marks to my email subject title hoping they will place some urgency to this issue.

15 Mar 2008

Indeed, my "exclamation marked" email was effective. ZXXX replied telling me an email had been sent to POEMS and someone will get back to me. Very soon, I received an email from AMK branch dealer. The dealer is based at Raffles City Tower main office. In the email, he provided me with detailed answer to my question. He also mentioned that they tried to reach me through phone on both 12 and 13 Mar but to no avail. I could be busy that time. Email was also sent on 12 Mar but I never receive it. Since then, no further follow-up actions were taken. I emphasized my below concerns to him:
  1. AMK branch is an investor centre which provides account opening services for walk-ins. Suppose no dealer is present that day, then there will be no one in AMK branch qualified enough or knowledgeable enough to even answer basic questions like transaction costs. Wouldn't this be a big shame? Who would still want to open an account with POEMS? Let's assume there is at least one who knows the answer, he will still be unable to answer. According to the AMK branch dealer, only dealers are allowed to answer trading related questions. AMK branch opens even on weekends but dealers work only 5 days per week. This sounds ridiculous.

  2. I doubt the quality of AMK team. No one has got the initiative to even call up other branches or a dealer for an answer.

  3. What is the level of training provided to the team in an investor centre like AMK? If they are really not supposed to answer basic questions, then what are their roles in AMK branch?

  4. What is the minimum entry requirement to be part of Phillip Securities team in an investor centre?

  5. Since I sent my questions to a general email address, I assume more than one will have access to it. Who are granted access rights to checking emails? If there are no tracking or any form of audit logs in place, how Phillip Securities ensure all emails are read and replied? Person A can simply delete an email and Person B will not even know what had happened.
I am asking all these questions because I am having doubts in the capabilities, level of initiatives, working altitude, etc in their respective job scope. I seek yours or whoever inputs to my above questions. I hope to bring about better service in AMK branch and other branches with this lesson learnt. Please include whoever may be more senior or relevant in this discussion.

Googley Design Guidelines

Jon Wiley, User Experience Designer for Google Apps, outlined some of the most important principles for designing interfaces at Google. I thought this is also very relevant when designing other systems or applications.
  1. Useful: focus on people - their lives, their work, their dreams.
  2. Fast: every millisecond counts.
  3. Simple: simplicity is powerful.
  4. Engaging: engage beginners and attract experts.
  5. Innovative: dare to be innovative.
  6. Universal: design for the world.
  7. Profitable: plan for today's and tomorrow's business.
  8. Beautiful: delight the eye without distracting the mind.
  9. Trustworthy: be worthy of people's trust.
  10. Personable: add a human touch.
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/03/googles-design-guidelines.html

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Discontinuation of the McDonald's Rewards Program

The McDonald's Rewards program will be discontinued with effect from 1 June 2008. In the meantime, all Rewards may still earn and redeem their Rewards points as follows:

Now till 11 April 2008

Rewards points can still be earned and redeemed.

12 April 2008 till 31 May 2008

Eligibility to earn Rewards points will cease. However, redemption is still possible

From 1 June 2008

Redemption will be not possible. However, since redemption slips have a 30 days expiry, redemption slips printed before 1 June 2008 will still be valid for the next 30 days. After 30 June 2008, any and all redemption slips shall no longer be valid.

For any queries, McDonald's can be reached at 1800-4919810.

Official Announcement
http://www.mcdonalds.com.sg/mcd_rewards_notice.pdf

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Machine Check Error Occurs on Windows Server 2003 on Multiprocessor Machine

Recently, I encountered a machine check error on a AMD motherboard running 2 x dual-core processors making it 4 CPUs and 16 GB RAM. Operating system running is Windows Server 2003 R2 SP 1. The machine is very powerful and performance issue is definitely out of the question. Software causing the machine check error is a .NET application compiled in x64 configuration platform.

A trial and error concludes that x64 could be causing some problems to the set of codes I wrote. BTW, the .NET application is just a small application doing duplex serial communication via RS-232 serial ports. A change from x64 to x86 compilation seems to work miraculously. After further searching on the internet, I attempted to install the latest Service Pack. The problem seems to have gone away even with a x64 compilation.

A machine check error may occur without any noticeable symptoms in Windows Server 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/835768

How to disable the corrected machine check on a Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based computer
It's an ugly method to disable machine check error prompt and I strongly against using it.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/912310

Windows Vista SP 1 Available Through Windows Update

Microsoft announced on Tuesday that Vista users can upgrade to Vista Service Pack 1 through a Windows Update download.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2277069,00.asp

Monday, March 17, 2008

JPMorgan Agrees to Buy Bear Stearns at Cheap Price

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy Bear Stearns Cos. for $240 million, about 90 percent less than its value last week, after a run on the company ended 85 years of independence for Wall Street's fifth-largest securities firm. Shareholders of Bear Stearns will get stock in JPMorgan equivalent to about $2 a share, compared with $30 at the close on March 14. Mind you, share price was $158.59 last April! JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon bought Bear Stearns, once the biggest underwriter of U.S. mortgage bonds, for less than the value of its real estate after clients, alarmed by speculation about a cash shortage, withdrew $17 billion in two days. Faced with the prospect of bankruptcy, Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz was forced to accept the deal less than five days after he assured investors that the company's ``liquidity cushion'' was sufficient to weather credit-market losses.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=anMNUEv7YGAM

Check Website Availability

DownForEveryoneOrJustMe is a simple online tool that allows you to check if a website is down for everyone or just you. For example, to check if Google is down, simply type google.com and click on "or just me?" link.

http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Facebook to Launch Internal Instant Messaging Service?

On Friday, a rumor surfaced that Facebook would be launching an internal instant-messaging service . Then, on Saturday, gossip blog Valleywag suggested that launching the IM service would involve acquiring Social.IM, a Facebook application that enables instant message chat between services like AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live Messenger.

http://www.news.com/8301-13577_3-9894929-36.html

Solving tesUpload Giving chmod Permission Problems

One of the few things that PHP lacks that other web environments have, is the ability to report the progress of a file upload. This means that file uploads, especially uploads of larger files, can be extremely frustrating for end users when they don’t know if the upload is progressing or if it has stalled or if it has even started.

tesUpload solves this problem by using a perl script that handles the progress reporting. Don’t worry if you are a hardcore PHP programmer, you won’t have to touch the perl code at all. Just put the cgi-script in your cgi-bin folder and forget about it.

However, some may encounter permission issues especially when CGI process is running on a different user as compared to the web server's. Hence, uploaded files end up not accessible! A simple workaround is to add a chmod in file upload.cgi. Somewhere near line 224, simply add the below 1 statement and BINGO!
while(<$fh>) {
    print $tmp_fh $_;
}

close($tmp_fh);

chmod 0666, $tmp_filename; /* Added this */

$fsize =(-s $fh);

tesUpload Official Site
http://tomas.epineer.se/tesupload/

Download tesUpload
http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/tesupload/tesupload-1_1.tar.gz?download

Watch YouTube Videos in Higher Quality

You may have noticed that we're now giving you the option of watching some YouTube videos in higher quality. We're making these streams available on certain videos, based upon the source file uploaded to us, and over time you'll find a greater percentage of the library is available to view in higher quality. This feature applies to all eligible videos uploaded from the YouTube community, and is not restricted to partner content, so everyone can enjoy this upgrade.

From YouTube, you can also set default setting to view high quality videos by configuring your accoutn settings.

YouTube Blog Entry
http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=ponKL3LTyr0

GoogleSystem Blog
http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/03/watch-youtube-videos-in-higher-quality.html

Saturday, March 15, 2008

MENA and EMEA Set to Be Next BRIC?

On September 2007, I posted on a new MENA fund by SG Asset Management. There is actually another fund that also focus on similar region - Fidelity EMEA.

MENA - Middle East and North Africa Fund
EMEA - Emerging Europe, Middle East, Africa Fund

These 2 funds are going to be the next "IN" thing after BRIC.

Mena on track to be the new Bric
http://www.efinancialnews.com/assetmanagement/pensionfunds/content/2350007039

FF Emerging Europe, Middle East, Africa Fund
http://www.fidelity.co.uk/adviser/products/offshore/emea.html

Now We Have MENA
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2007/09/now-we-have-mena.html

US Economy Is Really In Bad Shape

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is being forced to throw out four decades of monetary history by a financial system choking on miscalculated risks and a deepening recession.

Bernanke and the four Fed governors voted yesterday to become creditors to Bear Stearns Cos., a securities firm that isn't a bank, by invoking a law that hasn't been used since the 1960s. Three days earlier, the Fed said it would swap Treasury notes on its balance sheet for privately issued mortgage-backed securities held by Wall Street firms.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aY2RvFA.yO_Q
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=azptE74xBCFI

Dreaming of Running Windows Apps on Linux?

It seems possible now.
http://lifehacker.com/367714/run-windows-apps-seamlessly-inside-linux

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hulu Doing Catching Up with YouTube

Will Hulu Replace YouTube?
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=4446876&page=1

Hulu Official Site
http://www.hulu.com/

Dubai - From Desert to Wonder Lands In Less Than 20 Years

This should make up for all the sustainable engineering they are doing!

Dubai in 1990 prior to the craziness

The same street in 2003

Last year

The madness. Dubai is said to currently have 15-25% of all the world's cranes.

The Dubai Waterfront. When completed it will become the largest waterfront development in the world.

All of this was built in the last 5 years, including that island that looks like a palm tree.

The Palm Islands in Dubai. New Dutch dredging technology was used to create these massive man made islands. They are the largest artificial islands in the world and can be seen from space. Three of these Palms will be made with the last one being the largest of them all.

Upon completion, the resort will have 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, movie theaters, and many other facilities. It is expected to support a population of approximately 500,000 people. It is advertised as being visible from the moon.

The World Islands. 300 artificially created islands in the shape of the world. Each island will have an estimated cost of $25-30 million.

The Burj al-Arab hotel in Dubai. The worlds tallest hotel. Considered the only '7 star' hotel and the most luxurious hotel in the world. It stands on an artificial island in the sea.

Hydropolis, the world's first underwater hotel. Entirely built in Germany and then assembled in Dubai, it is scheduled to be completed by 2009 after many delays.

The Burj Dubai. Construction began in 2005 and is expected to be complete by 2008. At an estimated height of over 800 meters, it will easily be world's tallest building when finished. It will be almost 40% taller than the the current tallest building, the Taipei 101.

This is what downtown Dubai will look like around 2008-2009. More than 140 stories of the Burj Dubai have already been completed. It is already the worlds tallest man made structure and it is still not scheduled to be completed for at least another year.

The Al Burj. This will be the centerpiece of the Dubai Waterfront. Once completed it will take over the title of the tallest structure in the world from the Burj Dubai.

Recently it was announced that the final height of this tower will be 1200 meters. That would make it more than 30% taller than the Burj Dubai and three times as tall as the Empire State Building.

The Burj al Alam, or The World Tower. Upon completion it will rank as the world's highest hotel. It is expected to be finished by 2009. At 480 meters it will only be 28 meters shorter than the Taipei 101.

The Trump International Hotel & Tower, which will be the centerpiece of one of the palm islands, The Palm Jumeirah.


Dubailand. Currently, the largest amusement park collection in the world is Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, which is also the largest single-site employer in the United states with 58,000 employees. Dubailand will be twice the size.


Dubailand will be built on 3 billion square feet (107 miles^2) at an estimated $20 billion price tag. The site will include a purported 45 mega projects and 200 hundred other smaller projects.

Dubai Sports City. A huge collection of sports arenas located in Dubailand.

Currently, the Walt Disney World Resort is the #1 tourist destination in the world. Once fully completed, Dubailand will easily take over that title since it is expected to attract 200,000 visitors daily.

The Dubai Marina is an entirely man made development that will contain over 200 high rise buildings when finished. It will be home to some of the tallest residential structures in the world. The completed first phase of the project is shown. Most of the other high rise buildings will be finished by 2009-2010. The Dubai Mall will be the largest shopping mall in the world with over 9 million square feet of shopping and around 1000 stores. It will be completed in 2008.

Ski Dubai, which is already open, is the largest indoor skiing facility in the world. This is a rendered image of another future indoor skiing facility that is being planned. Some of the tallest buildings in the world, such as Ocean Heights and The Princess Tower, which will be the largest residential building in the world at over a 100 stories, will line the Dubai Marina. The UAE Spaceport would be the first spaceport in the world if construction ever gets under way. I'm not joking... Some other crazy .. The Dubai Metro system, once completed, will become the largest fully automated rail system in the world. The Dubai World Central International Airport will become the largest airport in size when it is completed. It will also eventually become the busiest airport in the world, based on passenger volume. There are more construction workers in Dubai than there are actual citizens.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Recover Lost Wireless Network with WirelessKeyView

WirelessKeyView recovers all wireless network keys (WEP/WPA) stored in your computer by the 'Wireless Zero Configuration' service of Windows XP and by the 'WLAN AutoConfig' service of Windows Vista. It allows you to easily save all keys to text/html/xml file, or copy a single key to the clipboard.

But, please use it to good use.

http://nirsoft.net/utils/wireless_key.html

Firefox 3 Beta 4 Available for Download

Firefox 3 Beta 4 review
http://mozillalinks.org/wp/2008/03/firefox-3-beta-4-review/

Download Firefox 3 Beta 4
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Predictions is Malaysia Bourse to Fall Sharply on Monday

The recent Malaysia election says it all. Racial divide in Malaysia is evident and this is going to dampen investors' confidence in the fundamentals. Barisan Nasional did not manage a 2/3 majority and this results in losing rights to Consitution ammendment. The multi-billion corridors and Iskandar projects may be jeopardised. Time will only tell. Penang, technology hub of Malaysia, is lost to the opposition. This will mean plans for development of Malaysia's Silicon Valley may see a shift. Bills approval and Constitution ammendments may now take longer than usual.

My predictions is a sharp fall for Malaysia bourse on Monday 10 Mar 2008.

Malaysia Decides 2008 - Election Results


In summary, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's multi-racial coalition Barison Nasional (BN) won 139 out of 220 seats counted for the 222-seat Parliament. This is short of the 48 148 seats needed for a two-thirds majority. A two-thirds majority is needed to amend the Constitution.

BN loses 4 states to the opposition while opposition PAS retains Kelantan state. The 4 states are Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/malaysia2008/seats.htm

Generate PDF from Oracle Databases Using PLPDF

Generate dynamic PDF documents from data stored in Oracle databases using the PL/PDF program package. PL/PDF is written exclusively in PL/SQL. It is able to either store the generated PDF document in the database or provide the results directly to a browser using MOD_PLSQL. No third-party software is needed; PL/PDF only uses tools provided by the installation package of an Oracle Database (PL/SQL, MOD_PLSQL). Use PL/PDF to quickly and easily develop applications with dynamic content but also quality presentation and printing capabilities.

PL/SQL + PDF = PL/PDF
http://www.plpdf.com/

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Standard Chartered's e$aver Accounts Interest Rates To Drop Again

Standard Chartered's e$aver Accounts interest rates is to drop again for the 5th time since its launch.

From 17th March 2008 onwards, e$aver Accounts with deposit less than $50K will be revised to 0.78% from 0.8%. e$aver Account has since revised their interest rate from 1.88% to 1.5%, 1.2% to 0.8%, and then now to 0.78%. MayBank's iSavvy account is now offering 1.08%.

e$aver New Interest Rates Announcement
http://www.standardchartered.com.sg/edm/2/scb080307/index.html

My previous post on e$aver and iSavvy
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/02/maybank-isavvy-savings-account-interest.html

Disappointed With Citibank's Poor Service

On 5 Mar 2008 Sunday, I went down to AMK Hub to submit a Citibank credit card application form at their Instant Issuance Counter. The application form I was using will entitle me a $20 voucher.

2 hours later, a credit card officer from AMK Hub called to inform me the card I applied for is ready for collection. I asked if I will be getting the voucher. I was told Instant Issuance counter does not give out vouchers and so I will not be getting any. I argued that the application form I used will entitle me that voucher. He shocked me when he said he had torn my application form and the only way to get the voucher is to get another application form from the merchant and reapply. I requested my just approved card to be terminated and a similar application form to be mailed to me. I was again told they do not have the forms. Service is poor.

On the same day, I called up Citibank hoping to get an answer to what had just happened. I was determined to get them to send me the application form and get the voucher. A customer service officer (CSO) answered and told me there's no such promotion going on. She promised to get someone to call me and have my problem resolved. A day had passed but still no one get back to me.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to take lead by calling Citibank again. A different CSO answered. Again, I narrated the whole story. My 2nd call seemed not useful after she told me she's not aware of such promotion going on. She promised to get back to me later. Hours later, a different CSO called to try to resolve my enquiry. What annoyed me was the CSO was not aware of my enquiry. I repeated my story again to get a "I don't know" answer. Is this service? Why get someone to answer my enquiry when she does not even know what is happening? This just makes customers more annoyed. Again, I was told to wait for someone to call me.

I waited patiently for someone to call me but none did that. Again, I called Citibank and again I had to repeat my story. Again, the CSO did not seem to know the promotion. She even told me I should be calling the marketing department instead of the credit card promotion department. Fair enough, I made a call to the marketing department.

It's my encounter with the marketing department that made me really pissed off. Mr Kelvin was the CSO who attended me. While narrating my story to him, he rudely interrupted saying "Got incoming call" and then put me on hold without I having chance to react. Having no other options, I had to wait. After about 3 minutes of waiting, he finally returned. I had to re-narrate my story one more time to refresh the CSO's memory. Before I could finish, he put me on hold once again to answer another incoming call. I deemed this extremely rude. About 3 minutes later, another CSO answered my call. I was more than shocked that my call was actually being released to the general queue for any available CSO to attend to. I was unwilling to repeat my story and demanded to be directed only to Kelvin. At this point in time, I was pique to the max. How dare he dared to put me on hold!

After having waited for more than an hour for Kelvin to return my call which he never did, I decided to call him again. A lady answered and I straight away requested to be transferred to Kelvin which she did. The moment I was put through, I started scolding Kelvin, demanding an explanation as to why I was abruptly put on hold, not once but twice, to answer an incoming call. As far as I know, it should be a one-to-one service me and the CSO. Kelvin retorted by explaining he was merely trying to transfer my call to the relevant department. I could not accept his excuses. I remembered him saying "Got incoming call" on both occasions before putting me on hold. From his statements, do you think he meant to transfer my call to the right department? Please do not "smoke" me! Not only he was rude, he was also not knowledgeable in the ongoing promotion. I demanded to be put through to his manager.

I lodged a complaint on Kelvin's poor customer service. I verified if the more calls one pick up, the more the commission one can earn. The answer is no. According to the manager, Kelvin is new to the job. The manager apologised on his behalf and promised to ensure my problem to be resolved.

On Friday, I made a call to the sales manager. All run smoothly after the talk with the manager. All issues have been attended to. Kelvin is sent for further training.

Lesson learnt: Make sure your front line staff are well trained and familiar with their own job scope, otherwise, trouble looms.

It's Time to Get Back to Experts-Exchange

After 3 months of inactivity, I think it's time to get back to Experts-Exchange and start answering technical questions again.

My expert points for the month of February 2008 is less than 3000! As for the current month, it is still ZERO!

US Daylight Saving Time Starts 9 Mar 08 Morning

This Sunday morning, 9 Mar 08, US Daylight Saving Time will kick in. This is the switch where you get an hour less in bed. At 02:00 local time Sunday morning the clocks go forward an hour.

US Daylight Saving Time starts this Sunday morning
http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=1448

Read more on Daylight Savings for the rest of the world
http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/g.html

Friday, March 07, 2008

How to Create Strong Passwords?

The strongest password is in fact a "Blank" password in certain situations. From the below article, Microsoft describes why "Blank" password is best for those situations.

A blank password (no password at all) on your account is more secure than a weak password such as "1234". Criminals can easily guess a simplistic password, but on computers using Windows XP, an account without a password cannot be accessed remotely by means such as a network or the Internet. (This option is not available for Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows Me, or earlier versions).

Do read further to learn on the pros and cons of a blank password.
http://www.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/create.mspx

Help protect your personal information with strong passwords
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2006/04/help-protect-your-personal-information.html

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta is Out

I would say try it only if you are a developer or a web designer. IE 8 now finally supports full CSS2 standards and is complaint to web standards. IE 8 has passed the Acid2 test.

Get Internet Explorer 8 Beta
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/getitnow.mspx

The World's Richest People

Bill Gates after reigning as the world's richest person ends after his 13th year, he has now lost the throne despite increasing own net worth by US$2 billion.

The world's richest man is now Gates' best friend, Warren Buffett. Ranked 2nd is Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim HelĂș. Bill Gates now ranked 3rd.

http://www.forbes.com/home/billionaires/2008/03/05/richest-billionaires-people-billionaires08-cx_lk_0305intro.html

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Some Possible Faces of Mas Selamat


The above picture is from TalkingCock.com. It may look like a joke but who knows it may be handy to spot Mas Selamat in various forms of disguise. Mas Selamat is a master of disguise.

Suan Lum Night Bazaar to Close Down By End of April 2008

Suan Lum Night Bazaar, one of the favorite night market in Bangkok, is closing down to make way for new commercial development. This famous tourist spot is going to be history.

http://www.bangkok.com/travel-news-update/index.html#suan-lum-night-bazaar:-the-final-countdown

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

IRAS Auto-Inclusion Scheme

All Singaporeans are required to submit income tax for year 2007 as long as they receive a IRAS letter with pin number. Filing of income tax starts on 1st March 2008 and ends at 15th April 2008. Before submission, check if your employer is in the Auto-Inclusion Scheme.

The Auto-Inclusion Scheme (AIS) is a scheme where employers transmit details of employees' employment income to IRAS electronically. Information on salary, bonus, tax-deductible donations, CPF contributions etc, are then auto-included in the employees' income tax assessment without them having to declare or claim when filing their income tax returns.

So who are the participating companies?
http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/uploadedFiles/Quick_Links/e-Services/Other_e-Services/e-Submission/Employment_Income/listofemployersinais4jan2008.pdf

157 Best Free Software by PC Magazine

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2260070,00.asp

Monday, March 03, 2008

RSS Feed for Gmail Unread Messages

Gmail has a very cool feature not available in other webmail applications: feeds for unread messages. For example, the feed http://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom/ shows the most recent unread items from your inbox. Gmail also offers feeds for your labels: http://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom/labelname/, but it would be nice to have a comprehensive listing of all the unread messages, not just the ones that have a certain label. As you probably know, "unread" is one of the many built-in labels in Gmail, so you can use it to obtain this feed: http://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom/unread/. In the URLs above, you can replace "http" with "https" for more security.

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/03/feed-for-unread-gmail-messages.html

Poster on Escaped JI Leader, Mas Selamat, for Dissemination

Please assist to disseminate the below poster and its message to as many places, including workplaces, as possible. The poster should preferably be printed on A3 size paper and in colour. Let's lend a hand to help nab the terroist leader as soon as possible.


http://www.box.net/shared/9hkc8xk0k8 [ PDF File ]

Google Engineering Philosophy

The Google Engineering Philosophy - As presented at last year's Google Engineering Open House.
  1. All developers work out of a ~single source depot; shared infrastructure!
  2. A developer can fix bugs anywhere in the source tree.
  3. Building a product takes 3 commands ("get, config, make")
  4. Uniform coding style guidelines across company
  5. Code reviews mandatory for all checkins
  6. Pervasive unit testing, written by developers
  7. Unit tests run continuously, email sent on failure
  8. Powerful tools, shared company-wide
  9. Rapid project cycles; developers change projects often; 20% time
  10. Peer-driven review process; flat management structure
  11. Transparency into projects, code, process, ideas, etc.
  12. Dozens of offices around world => hire best people regardless of location

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryangreen/2303353301/in/set-72157604020496064/

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Personalize YouTube Homepage

To try the new homepage, log in to your YouTube account and then go to http://www.youtube.com/iyt.

From YouTube's blog - New Experimental Personalized Homepage
http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=DD9eJASgFc8

Bus Fare Stages Update Hit By Software Glitch - Leap Year Bug?

The Land Transport Authority said a software glitch had disabled the automatic updating of the bus fare stages. This incident happened on a Saturday morning, 1 Mar 2008. There is no mention on the reason behind the glitch but I speculate it could be due to leap year in year 2008. There are 29 days in February this year.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/332196/1/.html

Singapore 2010 Impression

Is Singapore going to be like this in year 2010? Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is an electronic system of road pricing based on a pay-as-you-use principle.

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