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Archive for March 2011

Online campaiging is vital and critical

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The official White House Youtube channel, where clips of US President Obama addressing timely issues would be uploaded.

The internet is getting more and more political these days, as we can see from the 2008 US Presidential election, then closer to home in Malaysia’s 2008 national elections, and now in Singapore as Singaporeans gear up for the upcoming elections.

It is not surprising that political groups are scrambling online, in efforts to capture as much eyeballs as possible, since the current generation of Gen Y voters are old enough to vote – and these Gen Y people are not a small number to be chunked in the backseat.

Consider this, people who were born between late 70s to late 80s, are among the most tech savvy people around. These are the same people who grew up in a generation of mobile phones, computers and the internet.

Instead of the previous generation of Television and Radio – which could be biased due to an editorial process, the internet is still largely free and neutral.

People could log online and see the contents they want, and click on the links they want to see. It is this choice that makes internet a largely neutral battle ground.

A recent study by Pew Internet, a not-for-profit American online research company states that up to 73% of all adult internet users use the Internet for political reasons. Be it for gathering information about political parties, or even getting involved in political parties, 73% of all adults used the internet for political reasons in 2010.

And I predict, this number will continue to grow in the coming years.

Be it incumbent minister or up-and-coming opposition candidate, having an online presence is a must.

Already in Singapore, with the elections slated to be announced in the next 2 months, election fever had already started here. Politicians are significantly getting more engaged on various social media platforms. Facebook, twitter, blogs, Youtubes, you name it.

Perhaps you can start by looking around on Facebook, almost EVERYONE who’s contesting in the upcoming Singapore general election is on it.


Written by garygoh

March 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

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How the combination of media made things interesting

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Posters like these are placed at selected restaurants at Portland, Oregon, where people holding a Near Field Communication (NFC) infused phone, such as a Google Nexus S, can scan their phones on such posters,  getting them the latest promotions, reviews, and other information exchange between the restaurant and users in general.

Multimedia, as the name suggests, is a combination of different technologies that offer an experience that does not parallel to any single medium could offer.

Take the recent Google’s push for Near Field Communication (NFC) for instance, is a brilliant combination of Google’s sterling Maps services, combining with a new NFC.

NFC itself is not a new cutting edge technology that Google invented, it is in fact, a technology that we Singaporeans use almost everyday. The EZ-Link card is an implementation of NFC technology.

What exactly is NFC then? It is a technology where users possess a chip that could be electro-magnetically be powered by a near by transmitter. When powered, data communication could be established between the chip in consumer’s hand, and the transmitter at at business’s end.

In EZ-Link, NFC is used as a contact-less paying system for commuters to pay fares. But in Google’s case, the marriage between Maps, and NFC creates a whole new experience.

Google built their latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) mobile OS, and their latest phone, the Google Nexus S to support NFC technology. Which means to say, their latest phone has the NFC chip embedded inside.

Combining with Google’s ever popular Maps application present with in both mobile and desktop form, other businesses could drop “pins”, or virtual markers on the Maps application, with information about their businesses. Google calls this Google Places.

An introductory video released by Google during the launch of their Nexus S phone, highlighting NFC features with Google Places

In pilot program, restaurants in Portland, Oregon which are marked by pins in Google Maps,  were given physical stickers at the door of their physical premises. These stickers actually include NFC chips embedded to it, where uses of Google’s Nexus S phone could scan their phones on these stickers to get more information about the restaurant. For instance, they could instantly read about the restaurant’s promotion, rating and reviews on the said restaurant.

To add on, these social infused information are then updated live to Google’s Map services, where other users who are not physically in the vicinity could read about.

So in all, NFC or any medium by itself isn’t exciting. It is the marriage of various forms of media that makes multimedia an exciting experience.

Written by garygoh

March 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

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Scenes from the Turfclub

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Managed to put together a short piece on the scenes at the Turf Club, where punters bet their days away….

Written by garygoh

March 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm

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The thin line between good and evil

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One of the most frustrating worm that gained international notoriety was the “Sasser” worm. Once a Windows 2000/XP computer was infected with it, pop ups with a count down timer would appear and after the 1 minute countdown, the worm would automatically shut down that computer.

As defined by Wikipedia, the term “malware” is “a software designed to secretly access a computer system without the owner’s informed consent, and is termed by computer professionals as a variety of hostile, intrusive or annoying software or program code”. And a “computer worm” as defined as “self replicating malware computer program, which uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes and it may do so without any user intervention.

So a computer worm is a “hostile” piece of code designed to cause great harm to your computer right? So it’s a really bad piece of code that aims to wreak havoc to innocent victims and its creators must be a really evil person right? Or at least, its creator must have been someone who didn’t harbor good intentions during the production of a computer virus, right?

But how if a computer virus can actually save the world?

Sounds cliche?

Well, it actually is. Just not too long ago, a computer worm named “Stuxnet” actually did something like this.

This map shows the amount of computers that carried the “Stuxnet worm.  Iran is highlighted in red, with the most amount of infected instances of “Stuxnet”. Nuclear enriching plants located in Iran was reportedly the target for “Stuxnet”.

Rumored to be coded by the American and Israeli government, this worm does nothing to the normal computer. Other then duplicating itself and sending itself via internet that the infected computer is connected, this worm did not do anything to normal computers.

But once this worm detects a particular industrial Siemens controller, typically used to control uranium enriching centrifuges, the worm takes control of the controller, spinning the centrifuges in speed excess of what it is designed for, and destroying it.

These uranium, when enriched, can be used to create nuclear weapons.

The worm is so well written, that it could actually circumvent protection and alert systems used to monitor any malfunction on these controllers.

The aim of Stuxnet, according to some experts, is to silently destroy key nuclear enriching facilities that Iran reportedly have, and are not too forthcoming in declaring the actual use of such destructive material.

In fact, the Stuxnet worm was so specifically written that after programmers examined code, they found that a section of the code is designed to target 984 machines linked together. Later when an official visited Iran’s key uranium enriching plant, they found exactly 984 machines out of commission.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned recently that Iran’s nuclear efforts have been put back by a few years, before they could get back to the pre-Stuxnet state.

Stuxnet is not the only worm that people considered to be helpful to the world, there was another worm known as Nachi, which aims to plug a known security hole in Microsoft Windows systems.

So, while worms and viruses are scary in today’s connected world, I believe it is the intent of worm/virus programmers that actually matters between being a cyber-criminal or a cyber-hero.

Written by garygoh

March 13, 2011 at 12:55 am

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How to smash your laptop and get away from it

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Finding such flyers common? But with that $1000, you could easily get a new notebook right? No, the money is really meant for getting the data in the notebook, rather then the notebook itself. But if this person adapted cloud computing, he could just get a new notebook and start working immediately instead of wasting time posting such flyers!

When I talk about internet tools these days, I could not separate from talking about web-based application – specifically applications that runs off the web with no installation required.

So what’s the big deal about doing your word processing online, or say doing photo editing online? We’ve been doing our word processing on Microsoft Word or cropping photos using Adobe Photoshop for so long, why the change?

Well, the idea of using web based applications is about making use of the “cloud” to get things done. Cloud, as in a really big and powerful computer at some data center far away, not the white fluff you see on sunny days.

When we run such applications off the “cloud”, we effectively shift the responsibilities of the computer we’re working on, onto a really large, powerful and reliable (well, sort of at least, more on this in a bit) mega computer. The processing power, the storage of both the application and the data you’re working on – all at the server’s end. On our end, we’re just using a web browser to accomplish these tasks.

With applications like Google Docs (for word processing) and Picnik (for photo editing), we no longer need to install any additional software other then a web browser. Just log into the respective sites and start working.

With web based applications, there is no fuss about losing your documents, forgetting to copy into your thumb drive, or even a computer crash. Simply because these applications save regularly as you work, and saves a copy of these documents on their mega computers – not on your PC. So even if your computer crashes at the end of your million word thesis, it won’t be too painful for you, because you can always move to another computer (in the library if you really need) and continue to work from there.

What’s more, with web based applications, it really opens the door for collaboration. When a Google Docs word document is shared among a group of people, members of the group could easily edit and give inputs without sending files to each other and manually updating whatever that have been edited. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination!


Google’s promotional video on their latest CR-48 notebook, highlighting the advantages of using Chrome OS

Recently, Google upped the ante by introducing the Google CR-48 notebook, running their Chrome OS. Chrome OS is basically a very light operating system that connects you to the whole suit of Google’s web based applications. From Google’s very own launch video, it is clear that with web based application, reliability and ease of use is the key focus. Never mind if your notebook is smashed over a thousand times in the course of working on a word document, because you can simply move to a new notebook and you could continue working at the point you left it.

But well, computers are far from being perfect. Google’s Gmail email service just suffered a blow over the weekend, with almost 40,000 accounts wiped out and unresolved…. Hope you’re not one of them. 🙂

Written by garygoh

March 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm

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