Thursday, December 22, 2011

Premium banking, Priority banking in Singapore

Someone (i guess telemarketing folks) called from Citi Bank and offered me their premium banking product called "CITI Gold" and my reaction was 'no thanks' as I thought it was another credit card :)
But later on while speaking to some of my friends realized it's a kind wealth management product. The funny part is I tried to contact them but the contact us form ( https://www.citigold.com.sg/citigold/contactus_form.htm ) must have been designed by a looser or a smart manager who doesn't want any one to really contact citi gold.

After trying couple of times the site simply gives an error saying "




Sorry. One of the characters you entered is not allowed by the system for security reasons. For your protection, your request has been stopped.
You may try this request again or try another one by selecting one of the options displayed.


Great. If you don't want to have me as a customer then I don't think I'd be chasing you too :)

Now I've a good long holiday where by I can understand different options and choose the one that is suitable to me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Prepaid mobile data plan in Singapore

Ok, I never had to look for internet connectivity in Singapore as I'm carrying multiple devices with internet connectivity. But after my recent trips to US,AU,EU&IN I started to wonder what are the options for travelers or casual data users in Singapore
It turns out be that the options are pretty limited :(

Below is a table & url's comparing the options available. As you can see perhaps SH offers somewhat better plan. SingTel totally sucks here and may be they are happy with their postpaid and doesn't mind loosing few $ to competitors in prepaid data segment.






http://info.singtel.com/personal/communication/internet/broadband-on-the-go/broadband-on-mobile
http://www.starhub.com/mobile/mobilevalueaddedservices/maxmobile/maxmobileplanstable.html
http://goo.gl/LAhXB

Some comments based on my own experience is,

* SingTel is the incumbent and largest operator with good coverage and stable speeds
* SH is 2nd largest and acceptable coverage + speeds
* M1 speeds are good in specific areas but I've quite a bad experience with their mobile network. They are the only one to offer LTE in Singapore right now but that's not available for prepaid yet.

Having said that the SH & M1 may surprise you depending on the area and time of the day. So I'd think the best option is still to go with the 'cost'. If you need to have a voice plan together then all three operators offers similar plans. i.e. bundled prepaid voice + data.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

pasar malam @ Ang Mo Kio/ Serangoon North


Here is another one...
Guess the previous one at AMK just shifted to the other end of ave 3..

It's near the AMK Ave-3 & Serangoon North Ave 3 intersection. Enjoy..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Premium bus service 548 from Ang Mo Kio to get 2 more trips..

Source: SBS Transit

I take this almost every day and by the time it reaches Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 it's full and I can see people standing (which is strictly prohibited by LTA). Good SBS increasing the services and in fact they should have done this quite some time back.
Now they've doubled it to 4 services starting @ 7.45, 7.50, 7.55 and 8.00 AM. While it's good to have 4 buses my concern is the interval seems to be a bit closely tied making the buses to arrive together or back to back.
Most of the CBD offices start by 8.30 so even if SBS starts a bus around 7.30 and make it reach CBD by 8.10 that would be wonderful to have a breakfast and go to office.

At the same time I still hope they could start the evening service too so I can travel in comfort :)


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prepaid mobile plan in Australia for travelers - II

Just left Sydney and wanted to share few +ve things about Optus prepaid mobile plan. I am quite happy I 'opt ed' for the right thing.
The plan is called " Optus Dollar Days" and it's a AUD 2 / day for unlimited text, voice & data. You can re-charge, top-up in 10, 15, 20 ..100. The validity is based on the $ value. i.e. $10 gives 10 days validity.

Here goes some screen shots on Data performance.
Most of the area the coverage was good and I can consistently get >1Mbps speed. Latency seems to be good as Skype, Google voice calls are pretty decent without any noticeable delay or lag. I tried downloading a file ~ 200MB to see whether the connection stays or 'reset' itself which is the case in most of the Asian nations. But seems there is no disconnections and I was able to download the entire file in less than 15 min.
Video playbook (HD) is good too and I can see some buffering so seems no trans-pacing is employed.

For the Voice & SMS part I am not sure but the SMS delivery seems pretty delayed. I sent around 10-15 text messages and most of them were delayed and I could see the recipient receiving almost after 5 min who is sitting right next to me :|
Voice quality is Ok and I did experienced some call drops and ironically it was near Optus campus in Macquire park ;)

Summary:


* Perhaps the best deal in town if you are on a short trip. With voice/text/data for $2 a day is a good deal and the experience is not bad too :)
* You can't tether to your notebook.i.e. this is only for mobile phone and the iphone tethering option is disabled.
* Night times (peak hours) city area is slightly slow but still >1Mbps. Rest I was able to get >2Mbps.

Go for it :)






                           

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why does hotels charge such exorbitant prices..

Last night I was damn tired and ordered food through room service. This is what I have got.
Food is not that great in taste and I am not expecting a delicious stuff anyway. But it's really painful to pay $58 for this food.
These are the times I really miss Singapore and the options it offers me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prepaid mobile plan in Australia for travelers

When I travel most of the times I tend to use Wi-Fi but some times you need to rely on roaming and that single usage can make you poorer by few $. Couple of hours ago I landed in Sydney and Thanks for the lesson learned in India,  I explored whether I can purchase a prepaid SIM for Data. To my surprise Optus is offering a fantastic deal which is 2$ a day deal. So it goes like for AUD 2 you'll get unlimited data, voice & SMS (voice & SMS in Australia only). This is much cheaper compared to any roaming subscription or bridge subscription.
Ofcourse the inconvinience of using 2 mobile phones is there but who cares. I always carry two phones for biz & personal purposes. All I need to do is swap my SIM cards

There are total 3 mobile stores in Sydney airport (2 from Optus + 1 from Vodafone). In total I paid AUD12 for 5 days unlimited data. By the way I am not naive to believe it's 'real' unlimited but a speed throttled plan but as long as it serves my purpose of push mail, occasional VoIP, Skype, Googel Voice and Maps, Facebook that's more than enough.

A good website comparing various plans
http://prepaidplans.com.au/2009/05/quicksearch-prepaid-broadband/#Sim%20Only

Boostmobile, amaysim all are MVNOs and offers monthly packs. If you intend to stay for longer period or frequently visit the country then you may subscribe to monthly plans.

Singapore taxi fares increased again. Thanks to Comfortdelgro

Source: CNA

I don't deny that Singapore offers one of the best TAXI service at much lower rates compared to London, NY, Sydney. Having said that I'd say we shouldn't compare SG with UK or US but with HK which is similar city in terms of size, population or income status.

SG is far far behind in terms of service levels (availability of a taxi, etc) and much higher rates compared to Hong Kong. I dare say the culprit is the policy which simply drives the monopolistic behavior by ComfortDelGro. If we want to really drive competetion then we should let each taxi companies decide their own fare structure and also allow them to increase/manage their fleet size. For public transport there shouldn't be any COE or addl taxes as one taxi can easily replace 5 or more private vehicles. This helps a lot to manage the congestion and space in SG.
Hopefully the LTA start to 'manage' the taxi services rather than simply allowing them to do as per their whims and wishes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Opening FDI in Indian retail market



In year 1991 (20 years back) our home was decorated fully and we've more than 50 people wearing new clothes and in a joyous occasion. One would be dead wrong if they think it's a festival or a function. The fact was we're getting a "telephone" in our home.

We're one of the lucky guys in the town with a population of over 100,000 but with less than 100 telephones. I even remember people travelling from near by villages to my home to receive a call.

Just a month back in Nov when I visited my home town the first thing I did was to purchase a pre-paid SIM card by paying INR 50 (~ $1) and activating a data package for 1 month by paying extra INR 99 (~$2). This was the change thanks to innovations in technology and more importantly opening up the telecom sector to private sector.

There're strikes, bandhs, harthals what not done by the so called communists & BSNL (DOT) employees not to open up the telecom sector because it'd increase the prices and people will be slaves to MNC's and large private sectors. But thanks to Mr. Singh & rest we opened up. Of course there're scandals, kick backs but my point is mainly with liberalization and introducing competition moving away from license raj.

Now when I see the retail sector, I see a shop almost in every street and corner. I'm sure they are making more than what my dad or some of my friends are making by working as a employee. Understand there're 50 million people participated in last week strike. If I take the number and estimate each shop represented by 10 people then the approx number of shops will be around 5 million. My big question is how many people are even paying income tax. I'm sure none ( or a very minor %) paying sales tax or VAT because these folks are 'small time retailers'. This is the problem I see in India where people always hide behind protective covers and 'politicians' blame those in power without any logic and work for their own vote bank benefits.

I heard below lines in a movie when the Hero was asked by friend why he choose to be in India which is a poor country.

Yes, India is a poor country.
We've leaders but poor in leadership
We've resources but poor in execution
We've knowledge but poor in innovation
We've businessman but poor in business
We've long history of culture & heritage but lack of values & morals


By the way here is a great article from Swaminathan.
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/entry/aam-bania-is-more-powerful-than-the-aam-aadmi

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ez-link card transaction history

Appstore Link Here

Accidentally found this app for iPhone and this is good info there. This is good to track your transactions and if you suspect you're overcharged you can confirm online without going to the machines @ MRT.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Youtube speed test - Singapore, M1 fiber

Good throughput these days and after upgrading to Fiber no complaints :)
@29 SGD/month for 50Mbps this may not be a steal, but much better compared to what I used to pay for 6 Mbps. Now the only complaint is the 'proxy' stuff where the transparent proxy seems to be breaking downloads/streaming at times.

If not, I'll give 5* to M1 Fiber.

pasar malam @ Ang Mo Kio

After a long time there was a pasar malam @ Ang Mo Kio. This was along the Ang Mo Kio Ave -3, right next from the MRT to all the way till Ave 10.
For me the best part of these bazaar is the 'ramly burger' and the minor/small house hold items typically we don't get in NTUC or markets. I can see quite a number of people as late as 10.30 PM and hope to see the bazaar soon again..
Great stuff and wish there is a way to find the current pasar malam activities in town :)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Air India - Upgrade to Exec class

It was a surprise to me that I got upgraded in Air India during my return trip :)

It's sweet but the experience is no diff compared to economy class. Same service and same 'dusty' & 'dirty' seats. Food is slightly better and seats are obviously wider. I still hope the Maharaja can turnaround and improve the service standards. Be it at the airport handling or in flight or for that matter the web site..

Air india - entertainment system, A ten inches touch screen LCD system..

After more than eight years, I was forced to take airindia flight and my first feeling was "still the same". Same aunties with grim look on their faces as if they are doing a favor to us, young gals with robotic smile as if they're programmed to smile every 30 sec.
Dirty seats, smelly interior.. Then I realized something. There is a something that looks like a LCD in front of me and this is the economy or cattle class ;) More interestingly

"It's a 10" touch screen LCD"

I couldn't believe until I tried to access the features. Then I came back to my senses that I am flying in AI. The system simply doesn't work and the only channel which was working is the flight tracking :)
There're no ear phones offered or on sale which makes the entire entertainment system a joke.

The problem with AI or most of the indian organizations or infra is the initial investment is world class but the maintenance or service is of ???? class... Sorry no words to explain ..


Source: CNA

I guess the colorful HDB blocks at Rocher will soon become part of history.
As part of north south expressway or NSE these blocks will be acquired.

This is one thing I love & hate. Love for not falling in love with some concrete blocks and causing inconvenience to masses. Hate for taking the memories, emotions associated with the concrete which makes it 'home'



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Google / Gmail supports SMS as a Chat

Source: Google

Google starts supporting SMS from Gmail. Each account is given 50 credits (means 50 SMS) and there are plenty of operators/countries support. Sadly Singapore is not supported :(. I don't really understand why Singapore is not supported (same with Twitter) though SMS is almost free here and one can send SMS from operator web site.
Anyway hope to see the SMS in Gmail  for more countries. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Black berry outage affects North America..

Source: eWeek

My memory is still afresh with the news..Black berry outage affects Europe, Middle East & Africa. Now, time has come to north america.
Again, details are yet to known and coincidentally today is the iOS5 upgrade day and many of my friends 'bricked' their iPhones :). Seems the Apple servers are overloaded and today may be a good day to look for some device called 'land line'

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black berry outage affects Europe, Middle East, Africa

Source: CNA

I'd think this could be due to the DC issue or their GRX peering issue. DC is in London (or Slough to be more specific), where by the largest peering point is @ Amsterdam.
Looking at the problem, I'd say this is more likely due to the DC issue as some of the large operators have direct links with RIM but the DC @ Slough is the single point which consolidates the traffic.

Hopefully the Engineers can make it up fast :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Google + traffic dropped (or increased based on how you see it)

Source: Forbes

I did joined the Google+ at a pretty early stage and extended the invitations to couple of hundreds. But lately I realized, I am going back to Facebook as a habit but not even looking at G+ for weeks. May be it's the critical mass issue, where by there is/are no critical mass for Google Plus to generate content and keep people occupied.
Today I see almost all my friends in Facebook and new posts just floods in (I've to mute some of the 'chatty' friends even). But in Google Plus, I can only see one of two folks making some noises.
Google has to do something to encourage people to go in. May be start some new stuff (games or whatever) exclusively in G+ or some sort of free android phones or ipads or whatever @ a mass scale. I don't know whether it works or not but certainly increases the awareness and brings people.
For any social network (or user generated content hosted sites), traffic/content is the key and Google need to get that :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP.. Steve Jobs

World lost a visionary person, leader, best salesman and most importantly an engineer.
Though I am not a great fan of apple or it's products, I admire the way it changed the TELCO industry. The industry is not the same and with almost more than half of Singapore population holding an iPhone, I'm sure how the nation going to miss him.

R.I.P Steve Jobs.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Changi..

Just landed at Changi after few weeks of travel. What a great feeling to be back to home. Within the first week of my travel, I started missing the 'simplified services' of Singapore, efficiency of public service/transport. Most importantly the 'distance'. i.e. travel distance or driving distance from one place to another place. I love this very much in Singapore and being a city state, the country offers 30 min drive to any corner of the island :)

Oh yeah, I missed another 'unique' stuff which is sleeping without air conditioner :). I explored the option of sleeping with my windows open and with a fan. Trust me, I can have a wonderful sleep and the my mornings were wonderful too. 

Power sockets.. Hotels

I am travelling quite extensively these days and I'm quite surprised at one simple thing. This is with the power sockets in the hotels.
As you may know or experienced in the past, different countries use different kinds of power sockets. I'm not quite sure why they need to or what're the political/technical reasons behind that (you may refer to wikipedia if you are interested to find more)

Most of the hotels are happy to supply power adapters/converters but in the first place why can't they simply implement universal sockets where travelers doesn't have to bother about connecting the ugly and bulky adapters.
I'm sure the costs outweigh benefits in the user satisfaction and compared to the amount of money/resources these hotels waste, I'm sure the change doesn't cost a lot. I was quite happy when I saw the EU decision to standardize mobile phone chargers. In the same way, hope there will be some standardization on the other commonly used electronics to simplify our lives.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

SingTel 3G network down again..

Source: CNA

SingTel mobile customers have been experiencing intermittent difficulty in making calls and accessing the 3G network since Tuesday. The cause of the problem has been traced to a software glitch.

Not again dear SingTel. As if the 3G network is almost unusable in the city area with frequent handovers between 3G-2G. I remember the excellent coverage and great quality SingTel offered not long ago. Not sure what's wrong with the network or people it went terribly wrong. Now a days, I don't even connect continuously for 10 min on a 3G network in City area be it in building or on the street.

Hopefully singtel'll wake up before people start to change service providers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Costa Rhu. Nice View from Suntec City Tower-2

Great view. Shows why Singapore is called 'Garden City'. But sadly this is one among quite few and you'd be privileged to live there by shelling few millions for a 120 Sq.M apartment which is 99 years lease hold.

Taken with an iPhone4, slightly raining outside..

iPhone - Personal Hot Spot Missing

Recently I've got few messages and comments on the Personal Hot spot thingy on iPhone4. Most of them are complaining how the hot spot went missing after the recent iOS upgrade (4.3.3) and calls to SingTel or Starhub are always telling them to reset the device.

First of all, we in Singapore are much "pampered" crowd. Places like US, Europe & AU the option to have "tethering" is a privilage and you'll be paying exorbitant prices (e.g. USD 45 for 4GB/Month). I know some of my friends are not very happy to see SingTel "limited" data bundle which stands at 30GB per month / SGD 15.

Coming to the point, the personal hot spot works on something called "tethering".
There are two different situations where the PHS end up missing.

1.First time usage (just go to settings and enable it)

2. When you change some of the carrier settings or network settings or APN settings
Solution is simple and simply reset the network settings.

Now let me explain why you need to reset. This is a standard defined in 3GPP and whenever the phone communicates to the network, they both try to agree on this option. So when you change the carrier settings/APN settings, the phone tries to get the information from operator network. However this is not really 'authorized' but we'll still do and when the phone tries to get the details from operator network, it ends up disabling the hot spot.

A reset will change the APN back to "e-ideas" with all default settings and Hot spot is back :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Aarakshan - Good concept, improvement needed on screenplay/execution.

Managed to catch Aarakshan. I wouldn't say this is a perfect film, but Mr.Jha managed to deliver a decent picture. Amitabh, no need to comment on his acting skills. Saif is great and Deepika is OK.

The problem of yogyata vs aarakshan or Merit vs Reservation is such that it affects both parties. Personally I am against to it as long as its based on your religion or caste. I fully support if it's for physically challenged or ex-servicemen. Based on financial status is good too but as long as it's based on caste, religion we are not going to overcome the problem.

The movie is banned in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh & Punjab for reasons known to the leaders there. But if you are living in rest of India or overseas I'd recommend spending couple of hours..

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJBR0LLX0d0 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Working in office is bad for your brain..

Source: Today

LONDON - Working in an office is bad for your brain, according to a study that found that the hustle and bustle of modern offices can reduce productivity by 15 per cent and lead to a 32 per cent drop in the worker's well-being.

LoL.. +1 for Officespace. Seriously I was a victim for the so called 'open office/concept plan'. People are people and we can't really remove the noise and other distractions from the open place. I'm not recommending that we all should be confined to small rooms with sound proof doors but what I prefer strongly is 'telecommute' or work from home. My current company strongly pushes for it so its a win-win for me and I can manage my time much better.

Hope the traditional companies try to be more flexible :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

CWG or Commonwealth Games data network cost - USD 130 million.

Source: TOI

How much a data network that can deliver video & data for a regional sporting event? Apparently, Indian officials paid 130 million for a data network.

* MTNL (government telecom player)  placed the bid at $130 million or Rs. 570.12 crores.
* Bharti Airtel (largest private player) offered for ~ $2.1million or Rs.10 crores.

But the officials awarded the contract to MTNL and MTNL sub contracted to HCL Infosystems at Rs.380.04 crore. So MTNL simply pocketed a neat ~200 crores just by bidding for the contract. I guess 99% went to the pockets of officials and ministers there.

HCL Infosystems used Cisco equipment and CBI wants to probe Cisco Systems in the future. I don't think this is by any way affects Cisco, as Cisco only works with Partners (which in this case HCL) and typically try to be 'risk free'.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fiber to home. Best part is not download but "Upload"

I've changed to Fiber services recently. To be honest, I am one of the lucky person to have Fiber to my home last year but the high prices stopped me from even thinking about fiber. Also the trusted DSL was working pretty fine except problems with Video calls during peak hours and occasional issues with uploading disconnects.

I tend to do a lot of video calls but recently I stopped due to the bad experience. If you happen to see Cisco Tele presence, then you know what I mean by 'quality'. Ofcourse I am not a great fan of their service UMI but I love the T.P.

Coming back to the point, recently I opted for a 'cheap' fiber plan at 29/mo and they promised me 50Mbps DL/UL. I subscribed because it's cheap and hoping that atleast I can get 2Mbps DL/UL during peak hours which is fine to meet my needs. To my surprise the speeds are much better and I can do pretty decent video calls with US, Japan, India & UK. It's cool.

You can see the curve and agree at times the speed dropped below 5Mbps but most of the time its consistent and hovers above 20Mbps with occasional spikes of 60/70Mbps. Great job M1. Thanks for this new experience and you've got a new loyal customer ;)


Google SMS, Singapore not supported yet..

Source: Google/Gmail SMS

Wondering why Singapore/India not added to the list. I see philippines in the list and infact I've tried it during last week when I was there for a biz trip. Seems pretty good and saved few $ on roaming charges. When I need to contact the local parties, just send a sms from gmail :)

Wish to see it in Singapore. Though the internet SMS from SingTel (here), StarHub (here), & M1 (here) I prefer Gmail as I don't have to worry about which operator the number belongs to. Oh yeah, the above links works only if the destination number is their own. i.e. you can login to singtel website and send to SingTel mobile subscriber but not to starhub or m1.

5-Pack Premium Reusable LCD Screen Protector with Lint Cleaning Cloth for Apple iPhone 3G 8GB 16GB [Accessory Export Packaging]

Google SMS, Singapore not supported yet..

Source: Google/Gmail SMS

Wondering why Singapore/India not added to the list. I see philippines in the list and infact I've tried it during last week when I was there for a biz trip. Seems pretty good and saved few $ on roaming charges. When I need to contact the local parties, just send a sms from gmail :)

Wish to see it in Singapore. Though the internet SMS from SingTel (here), StarHub (here), & M1 (here) I prefer Gmail as I don't have to worry about which operator the number belongs to. Oh yeah, the above links works only if the destination number is their own. i.e. you can login to singtel website and send to SingTel mobile subscriber but not to starhub or m1. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

China Mobile boss gets death sentence for corruption case...

Source: WF

Mr Zhang Chunjiang who is a former Vice Chairman and Executive Director, China Mobile has been handed a death sentence, in the wake of a bribery conviction. The sentence stands suspended for two years while it could also be commuted to life prison pending good behavior.
Zhang was found by the court of the Hebei province in North China, to have taken bribes amounting to $1.5 million during the period 1994-2009

In India, for ministers, officials taken bribes around $2 billions and now enjoying in the 5* jails. The 'Raja' & others are just living like 'rajas' with all facilities. Wish they have capital punishment or mandatory life sentence in India too..

7th call to M1 and I guess I broke all my records of holding time

Today I've to call M1/Mobile One again, regarding my Fixed voice. If I can summarize the problem with Customer Service is that they don't know what they have to do. They are pretty good guys, not rude and you can get the line within 5 to 8 min holding period. But the number of handovers and 'holdings' will kill you. I'm not sure the story is like, ok guys lets go for a coffee and put the customer on hold.

My request was 'on hold' for 40 mins and the problem is Customer officer "trying" to find how to register my e-mail ID so that I can get "E-Bill". Strange. These days ebill should be pretty basic and when I look at SingTel and SH, they've been doing it for years. What I can think is, M1 just started rolling out services in Fiber broadband without proper homework/preparation. I suspected this when I received a bill with wrong first name and last name as well as service description...

Hope the darling of stock market will be the darling of customers..;)


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Google Plus or Google+ invites. Please drop your request in comments with email ID

As the subject says.. I've some left now. I guess Google expanding their server capacity fast. In the first week, after sending 5-10 invitations the link went off. Now after inviting 200+ still seems to be active.

No wonder they managed to hit 10 million subscribers. If they open to public, I guess the number may hit 100 mil pretty fast.

Friday, July 15, 2011

India lunaches PSLV successfully.

Source: Economictimes

Go India, Go. Atleast ISRO made us proud by being the only (or one of the few) public sector firm who can have some success stories.

PSLV is the work horse and after 15 continuous successful launches, time to go for GSLV and show the world. Still its a long way to go but need to start soon. Hopefully I can see Indian flag on the Moon in my life time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just got an invitation for Google+.. Exploring now..

First impression is Google did put lots of effort in Google+. I didn't like Buzz in the first look, but the Google+ seems interesting concept.
Does this hurts Facebook? I am not sure, still this is pretty new stuff and takes quite a while to understand. The best part of Facebook is, its not only for 'chat', sharing photos but lots of 'occupying stuff' like games, personal analysis etc. I see people randomly clicking on "photos circle, voting, astrology" in Facebook. This not only generate traffic, but keeps people hook to the site. For Google, the approach is rather different and it may find some people (germans perhaps) who shunned facebook because of privacy reasons. Also it may potentially replace orkut in countries like India, Brazil (Orkut is still the market leader there). 

Anyways, hopefully I'll understand how to send "invitations" first & understand the privacy options. I don't want to share my picasa albums or chat or other stuff with the entire world. So first lock down all the content, then trying to change one by one. So please bear with me guys for the invitations.


Update#1. PICASA Storage limits reset to reflect the new feature. i.e. For the pic less than 1024x768, the space is not counted. Great to see this.. :)


You are currently using 0 MB (0.07%) of your 1024 MB. Upgrade Storage
©2011 Google  Terms - Launch Picasa - Privacy Policy - Developer - Blog - Google Home

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good summary on TD-LTE

Good summary presentation here.

This was shared during the LTE Summit_2011.

http://www.hettingconsulting.com/new-td-lte-presentation-available-61-5.html

I was told, that Bharti (India) will be looking to launch LTE within this year. Actually, the biggest issue I see today is the device availability and spectrum. I am quite optimistic about the Mobile Broadband story in India. However the volume may not be high and it'll be used primary in urban/metro areas.
Rural areas are still afar from any 'real need' for internet at homes. Indians tend to 'speak' rather than 'chat' or 'sms'. So the current 2G network meets the needs. However for LTE/Data SP's & Vendors need to be creative to push to rural areas.

May be Indian version of "taobao" or amazon :)




Money remittance to India - Singapore

Most of the Indians (NRI's) use the remittance services atleast once during their stay outside. Due to the unique family traditions where even adults depend a lot on family, and take responsibility of family this is almost a a given that one uses the remittance service.
There used to be only one service from ICICI (money2india) covering US, Singapore, Australia & middle east. Now there are a bunch of them covering almost the globe. Personally I've used money2india, HDFC Quick Remmit before. I was told SBI remit is good, but the process is terrible. I've to go to their bank branch to get an ID card with a number. I don't think I am going to do that as I am not a frequent user. They do offer better rates than the rest and I guess for a frequent user they are more suitable.
Below is a comparision or summary of the remittance services. of these three services

1. Money2India.


Pros:


First mover
Best website design, tracking functionality, ease of use
Faster transfer (2 working days typically) to ICICI Branches.

Cons:


Bad conversion rate. Often changes (in banks favor) after you complete the transaction
Terrible service

2. HDFC Quick remit

Pros:


Good conversion rates.
Acceptable service

Cons:


Slower transfer times (min 3 biz days and normally 5 days)
Bad site design, user experience

3. SBI eRemit


Pros:


Best conversion rates among the service providers
SBI is the largest bank and most of the town's or villages does have a SBI branch.

Cons:


Bureaucratic and processes of 'self centric' rather than customer focus.
What is customer service

Individual experience could be different and for some money2india could be the best while some swear on them. Overall in my experience/observation I found HDFC offering a balance between better rates & service/ease of transaction. I wish SBI does the same :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vennela Veta by Yarramsetti - Any idea where to find it..

I've been trying to find this novel. Its a classic and I tried to find it in India (Visalandhra, etc) but couldn't get it. I was told Amazon had it but right now no stock..
http://www.amazon.com/Vennela-veta-Yarramsetti-Sayi/dp/B0000CPWEV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309698818&sr=8-1

Hopefully they will ship it soon :|

Friday, July 1, 2011

LinkedIn Down today 01-Jul-2011

After trying for 15 min, I realized there is a problem with LinkedIn.

The weird part is the interface/front end is up but the authentication seems dead. So it simply doesnt accept the password. I thought this must be some 'password' leak issue, and quickly clicked on 'forgot password' to reset.

Then I realized that there is a problem with LinkedIn. It simply says "500 - page not available".

Hopefully they will bring it back soon..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

US VISA requirements in Singapore

If you happen to apply for US VISA, then you know how painful it is. Except few nations most of the people need VISA to enter and the requirements can be daunting.

The process is outlined clearly here: http://singapore.usembassy.gov/niv-apply-step1.html . However I've some tips,

1. DS 160. Note lots of information required like your parents date of birth, passport no, spouse, children details, your education institute details (address etc). Make sure you save or try to finish it fast. I've to do it almost three times before I can complete it.

2. You can only pay the VISA Fee through Standard Chartered Cashier Order. So you've to make a trip to Stan Chart. Make sure you check the amount before your trip to the bank and bring sufficient cash :)

3. Appt will be atleast two weeks away. So if there is urgency, call the embassy. The guys give priority for specific tasks. For business travel, you should share a document clearly mentioning what is the loss if you don't make a trip :)

4. Interview & the rest just as mentioned in the website..

4.

For the rest,the requirements are pretty simple but I found the photo requirements are a bit tough. It seems some sort of advanced, sophisticated stuff to me. Anyway here goes the link for the list of  so called 'endorsed' list

http://singapore.usembassy.gov/acs_photo_studios.html

The list contains only few of them and note, that these are not the typical "instant" shops. You need to give them 3-4 working days for the 'touch-up's. ;)

Also, most of the Kodak stores offer the 5x5 size which is relatively cheap (6 for $12) and you can avoid the travel. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

M1 to launch LTE commercially..

Source: ZDNet

Hurray.. M1 did a great job. While all the guys (competitors, analysts and rest) were thinking that next Q1 is the period when all the action will be, they calmly announced the news.

In the initial phase it'll be only for CBD area and by next year Q1 cover the island. One significant diff is the positioning. I think given the data crunch, SP's will be targeting high value customers/enterprises. So it's no surprise that the target audience are enterprises now.

However moving forward, I'd still expect M1 to be the cost leader with cheap data offerings. If we see the recent promo for Home Fiber Broadband, $29 for 50 Mbps became a huge hit. This is the same price point where Singtel & Starhub offering their entry/mid level services.

I think M1'll try to repeat the same in mobile data space too. Slowly migrate the high value customers to LTE and offer 3G at much cheaper prices..:)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Only 1 in 5 worker look forward to work each day.. (Lowest in the survey)

Source: HeadHunt

The summary says, that the employees here are at the bottom of the list for work place happiness. They won't look forward to go to work. Only 17% think they would stay with the employer forever (compared to global avg of 35%).

In a nutshell, the problem is when we drive for "cheaper, faster, better" instead of quality this is going to happen. There is a limit for us to be cheap, better based on several factors. Unfortunately today most of our bosses still think with a 70's or 60's mindset. They would like to see us every day at the desk by 8.30, doesn't want to see us leave before 6. Must obey the process, etc etc. While I fully agree that we need to follow the established rules for a purpose, what I don't agree is the usage of process without thinking relevancy.

If you see the systems from USA, you'd understand what I am talking about. If you apply for a VISA, you need to enter your spouse name, details and your parents birth dates etc. Why would they need this information from a person who's going there on a biz trip? Compared to our system their system is inefficient. Same way, compared to lots of developing nations like India, China, our systems are inefficient. We need to be more efficient so that productivity levels can take a boost. With higher productivity, companies can afford higher wages as well as flexibility and in the end employees can enjoy higher quality of life (money+flexibility)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SingTel Mobile offers priority pass service - Asia's First.

Source: SingTel

As per singtel claim, the service offers better speeds( i.e. Typical speeds of 1.7 Mbps to 4.8 Mbps on a 21Mbps subscriber 80% of the times).

The cache is the 80% and whether is it on a single session or multiple sessions. I'll certainly exclude the option of asking for overseas content as the control is not within singtel hands. If they can promise the specified speeds even for a single session that'd be great.

Technically speaking the issue here is not with the limitations of technology or radio stuff, but how much money the operators are willing to spend and how much money consumers are willing to pay. Today, without doubt the problem is congestion and resource availability. Be it singtel or starhub or m1, all the networks are congested and running at high loads during peak hours. So the choice for them is to expand the network and charge the customer or persuade heavy users to offload. Challenge is the unique situation in Singapore, where mobile internet access is almost used as a replacement of fixed broadband. So offloading can be tricky.

Then, what are the alternatives?. IMO, I'd strongly suggest the Femtocell or other seamless/tightly coupled offloading solutions like i-wlan or GAN/E-GAN. Singtel can leverage on the NG-NBN and offer combo deals or packages for in-house usage. For outdoor usage, they can leverage on micro coverage/hot spots, something which is gaining lots of traction in LTE space.

Another point is the premium pass or ERP option is offered only on Dongles but for smartphones. I'd think the issue for them is the 'quantity' of smartphone on higher plans. If singtel offers on smartphones, this will be challenging for them to differentiate. If they put too high charge, people might not subscribe in quantities and those subscribed will complain like hell when they don't get the speeds. If they put too low, then end up like current situation of our express ways where ERP end up collecting money points rather than offering faster access.

Overall, not very convinced that the 'premium pass' can solve the throughput issues. It is more of adding capacity and offering at the right price point or offload to fixed network.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who killed Nokia...

After last week gossip that Microsoft may be looking to acquire Nokia, today the latest rumor says Samsung may be considering Nokia.
Also the credit ratings of Nokia downgraded just a notch above Junk. What happened to the darling of mobile industry? A lot of European companies/people/leaders looked at Nokia as Europe answer to Silicon valley's innovation. Now why Nokia couldn't transform itself like what it did in the past. Lots of questions..

1. Is it Apple who killed Nokia?

I'd say up to some extent yes. Before Apple, the smart phone market was enjoyed by Nokia. When people talk about Mobile OS, it is Symbian. Apps are Symbian apps and Nokia phones are the standard. But with iPhone the marketplace changed overnight. Everyone started to launch new smart phones with bigger screens. Google released Android, Apps became the 'in' thing. But why Nokia couldn't/didn't saw the change coming?

2. Is it the strategy?

I wouldn't comment much here as I can sense the lack of strategy from Nokia after the mgmt changes. I don't think any big company would clearly state that their strategy is to 'partner' with another company :|
Anyway in early days the problem was with the lack of focus. They started symbian, then the number of symbian series/versions were too many. For different purposes they've started different series. (like 60, 80, N, UI etc). I'm sure this would've created a big havoc in their R&D. The development path was pretty slow too.

On the handset front, I still like their handset for intuitive design. What they've missed is the change in physical layer. i.e new networks offering higher data speeds and markets going from traditional WAP to plain internet. If we see in emerging markets like India, Africa, Nokia is still the market leader with considerable gap above No.2 player. But in more matured markets, their pie dropped like hell.

If we look in to their income statement, you can clearly see the problem. It is as simple as this. Their sales dropped tremendously from 2008 (74Billion in 2007, 70Billion in 2008, 58Billion in 2009 & ~57Billion in 2010). When the trend is clear I don't really understand what the management thinking. Are they simply counting on emerging markets to compensate for the dev market drops? Anyway the sales of smartphones is the culprit here.

3. Is it Microsoft/Partnership

I'd still say this is their biggest mistake strategically. There is no synergy between these two players as well as no clear benefits in the long run. When Nokia became submissive to MS, a lot of staunch supporters of Symbian/nokia changed their loyalties. Financially the details are still not publicly available but I've confidence in MS management that thay must have gotten a very good offer :)

To summarize, I'd think it is the management/strategy which affected Nokia. Given the current situation I am extremely pessimistic about their Mobile operations. However their Mobile Networks & other new areas (they've started going aggressively in to IT market with cloud offerings and other service offerings) they may able to make some profits. But the increase is not going to compensate the losses in mobile business. Hopefully they'll be able to turnaround. Afterall most of us started our mobile journey with a "nokia" phone.






SK Telecom goes for Femto Cell

Source: Light Reading

SK Telecom opted for Femto to manage the exponential growth of mobile data. Barring city states like Singapore, Hongkong, I think most of the Mobile operators will go in the same way as Femto offers a seamless way for end sub.

For the offload, there are various means. Below is a basic setup of mobile network.

[Mobile]--------{Radio network}---------{Core Network}----------{Internet}

If we see, Femto comes in the extreme right hand side. This has a huge positive impact on the Customer experience. i.e. Customer doesn't even have to worry about the technology and he can continue using mobile data.

If we take Wi-Fi offload this is quite similar to Femto, but the key difference is Customer need to activate Wi-Fi and from Operator point of view the traffic may not even reach his network. If the operator is an integrated operator, then perhaps the network can be setup in such a way so that the wi-fi traffic will be routed to mobile data center or network.

For other options like TCP compression, Video compression I am not a great fan of them as these were created during the early days when any home page with size more than 100KB considered bad web design.

I wish to share a detailed analysis if my time permits. Hopefully in the next couple of months..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World IPv6 Day - Sadly no participation from Singapore.

Today is the world IPv6 day. If you want to know what is it, then look here. Cisco guys put it very simply.

Participation from Singapore is "zero". Telkom Indonesia is participating and some of our neighbors are using it (e.g. Malaysian public sector started supporting IPv6 last year). Hello IDA, SingTel, Starhub or M1. Are you guys listening to the world? or last forever fighting the fire?

Wish to see the transition soon. I was expecting NGN in Singapore to be started with IPv6 and other good stuff but apparently the RSP's are still the same old RSP's and no plans to offer v6 to consumers yet. :(


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Skype down again..

Source: My own experience & Skype Blog
Skype went down again. I am not sure whether they want to ensure that that're part of 'microsoft' but twice in a week is not what I've seen before.
It was down around 8PM Singapore time and quite intermittent till 10. At first I thought this is due to my ISP, singnet doing issue or my home wi-fi. But the rest of the connections are pretty good. Meanwhile saw the blog entry.

Hope the guys up there going to solve. If not I think lots of users will consider switching to alternatives. :|

iOS5 finally previewed - Not quite exciting.

Finally Apple announced iOS5+iCloud this morning. For the details visit engadget 

Best (or rather pending for sometime) new stuff is Wireless sync. I could do that with Windows mobile years back. Android was great and finally iPhone does that.

Notifier, camera, todo's & twitter integration are other notable features. I am not a great fan of 'cloud' stuff given the connectivity woes. Perhaps Japanese or Koreans would love to have them but for me in SG, I still prefer my data to be with me on the hard disk.

Anyway the iOS5 availability is in Fall which means somewhere after September 2011. So we still have few months before we can see the improvements. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

SingTel Hello Card - Please try again after five minutes..

SingTel Hello card is a prepaid calling card. It allows cheaper overseas calls and offers excellent quality. However recently I am getting quite frustrated with the "busy" tone. During the day time it seems acceptable but the frustration starts after 7 PM. When you dial the number, it simply says "please try again after five minutes" and disconnects. Today I've been trying since 7 and no luck yet.

I think this problem started after they started the "callback" service + free calls for prepaid numbers. Most of the overseas workers use this card and after 7 they will be busy calling homes. This is really the cheapest and most convenient way to call overseas. Right now it gives ~ 1000 minutes for $10 card. I remember in 2003, it used to offer 12 min for the same amount. :)

Hopefully, SingTel can add few more lines to this service. If the same thing continues, I believe many people will go to other alternatives. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mobile Phones "MAY" heighten the risk of Cancer. India & TRAI, hope you are listening..

Source: e-week

WHO issued a warning on heightened risk of Cancer associated with high mobile usage. As usual, mobile companies & vendors started replying quickly. If you see the reply you know what is the truth,

CTIA (This is the association of mobile folks) says, that "there was still no solid evidence that cell phones cause cancer".

Now, read the statement and it says a lot. What CTIA says is that they are not confirming or providing evidence to show that mobile phone usage doesn't cause cancer but they says "no solid evidence".

The mobile phone manufacturers claim in their manuals that the goods are safe. If you read them carefully, you'll know how safe are they :) . Just look in to the manual and search for SAR info.

The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says users' radiation exposure should not exceed FCC guidelines: "When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 millimeters (5/8 inch) away from the body."

BlackBerry Bold advises users to "keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 inch (25 millimeters) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting."

The biggest culprits are the Mobile phone companies. In developed world they comply to regulations but the developing world, they are doing a great harm. Places like India, Indonesia, where the regulation is not so tight, these firms are notorious for transmitting at very high levels. If you happen to stay near the base station, you'll know and you can literally feel it. 3G in particular is really bad and the exponential growth in 3G in India might potentially crate more issues.

It is really sad to see that communication which is critical to human development causing problems to the health. Hope, that there will be more research & drive to reduce the RF congestion around.

Google Music - Started sending activations...

Just received the invitation from Google Music. Below is a screenshot.. Currently they support streaming over web as well as an App for Android. For iOS or iPhone folks the alternative way is to use the "safari" browser just like with Amazon.. (More details here at Cnet). Actually I am not a great fan of Apps and Apps effectively kill the development of full browsers on mobile phones. Still I hope there comes a day when we can simply access the stuff on mobiles just like a normal, regular browser.

Looks good... Currently they are offering only in USA. But as usual we all know how to be in US to activate accounts :) 


Thursday, June 2, 2011

HP, Juniper gains market share in Q1-2011, Cisco drops

Source: Canalys

Canalys says in Q1, Cisco market share dropped from 73.2% to 68.2% and HP & Juniper happily enjoyed the increase in their pie.
Cisco is struggling to keep their markets while trying to gain new markets for their products. What's lacking with Cisco or the current problem is "innovation". We've not seen a new product from Cisco since their launch of 72 series routers. Since then every year though they are launching new products, they are just bigger boxes with more and more capacity, features.

HP came in to the market with "simplicity" & "support". The biggest draw for HP nodes is Lifetime support. Whether they do support it or not is a different story and I won't comment on it. But the top management found it extremely good. Also, for DC folks, this is good because most of the servers/blades are from HP (Though lately Cisco is gaining some market) and support will be seamless.

Juniper is the new entrant and their USP is JUNOS. If you ever used the command line of a Juniper you'd certainly agree with me. Same OS is not a strength on its own but it became a strength thanks to Cisco. With the multiple/ever changing versions from Cisco, it is making things more complicated for the engineers.

I don't know but hope Cisco will look in to "simplifying" stuff rather than making things more complex. It was the company simplified lots of stuff. But now it seems they're focusing on some thing else.



SBS Transit IRIS - iPhone App. What a waste of resources.

I've been using SG Buses but recently realized that the realtime bus information is missing/not accurate. A quick search in Google showed that SBS stopped sharing the bus real time info to 3rd parties. The reason, they've created their own app.

In the first place if the app is not their first attempt. I've used their mobile iris page since their launch. But I opted for other app because of  "bookmarks" feature and ease of use. Now they've "modified" of "updated" their app.
Have a look at iTunes at below link
http://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/sbs-transit-iris/id429899929?mt=8

I think this is the worst app in the market (SG - transport related apps), because it didn't serve the purpose. I am not sure whether this is developed locally/inhouse or just outsourced to some other vendor who doesn't know the public transport mode or how people uses it. They didn't offered Bookmark feature where you can save your fav bus or bus stop. But their Bookmark offers to remember bus no at a specific number and you MUST specify TIME too. That's the weird part. No one takes bus at a specific time every day, forget about keeping an alarm for that.

I guess it went like this.

Exec: Team, we need to show that we're doing some good stuff.
Product folks: How about an APP. After all that is the "in-thing" now.
Exec: But there are 3rd party apps and how to force people to use ours?. Ok I've an idea. First stop giving our feed to 3rd party guys. Then here goes the budget. Get it
Product: Ok. Outsource to some one else. Save 10% budget and write it in to my perf report.
Mgr: How to differentiate? what is the unique stuff?
All: Have a "Reminder" function. No one in the world ever came with a reminder.
All: Great. Let's try to put it under "Innovation" and try to patent it. Release to the public.

Great job done guys.

P.S. I'm sarcastic and very pissed off. I am angry because of the way our big companies are doing "innovation" and treating customers.
I've been using the tools to plan my journey and didn't rely (couldn't afford a car and personally don't like to drive) on a car. Now thanks to SBS, my reliable way of getting bus timings is gone.



One exec, came up with the proposal. Look guys, we need to have an App. First stop giving the feed to 3rd parties




Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cisco VNI 2011

Cisco just released VNI. Check it out here

* The growth in Mobile networks is quite similar to Fixed networks in late 90's
* Mobile Video will be the next big thing (Already I can see people in MRT, Bus sticking their eyes to phones/youtube)
* APAC will be the largest mobile only internet market by 2013.

The last point is of great interest to me. Countries like India offers huge potential for Mobile internet/data. In India, the fixed broadband penetration is still in low double digits and the infra is in terrible shape. Unless the gov/telco's are willing to invest billions of dollars there is no way the mass market can access quality internet. BSNL did a great job but still they cannot go to every nook & corner of the vast country.

On the other hand wireless can offer greater choices to the masses with the right strategies. If the operators can work with device manufacturers and vendors to offer the right product+price the opportunity is huge there.




Millionaire percentage, density across the world - Singapore tops again

Source: BCG

According to Boston Consulting Group recent survey, Singapore tops the millionaire percentage ratio with 15.5% or 1 in every 6.5 persons worth a million ;) Assuming an even distribution of wealth across the population  and 4 person household it makes 5 out of 8 houses a millionaire house.

US tops the list with most number of millionaires with 5.22 millions
Japan is in the 2nd place with 1.53 millions followed by China with 1.11 millions

Now the funny part is India. The number is 190,000 and ranks at 12th. This is because they worked based on "Official numbers". If were to go with the actual numbers I am sure India would beat lot of nations and jumps to be in the top 3.

Almost all metros are seeing Condominiums, Villas worth million dollars and I don't believe people who are staying there are not millionaires. Land rates increased so much that it is cheap to buy land in Singapore rather than in Mumbai or even rent office space in Singapore than Mumbai down town.

For that matter if we just count all the legislators of India, I am sure the rank will improve a lot. The Neta's & Babu's number can easily hit a million.



The most important improvement needed for next generation mobile phones/mobility devices..

I don't really wish for a dual core or quad core processor; memory is not a big deal too. Even the speed of wireless broad band is not an game changer. I am quite happy with ~ 2 Mbps speed which I managed to get most of the times on a 21Mbps HSPA+ network.

My biggest hope is to have a new gen "battery". A battery which can last until I've time to charge. I've been using Android devices and recently got an iPhone (Company phone). iPhone batter is much better compared to HTC Deside or Samsung Galaxy S. But still after extensive use the battery dropped to <30% in less than a day.

I am a mobile worker means all my tools, gadgets are in a bag and I'll carry them with me. My notebook is a lenovo X201 and it gives me approx 3 hours battery time. With a extended battery pack I can squeeze another couple of hours. I wish I could get at least 8 hours time so I don't have to carry power supply/cables in the back pack.

Most basic item it seems, but somehow this is where the innovation seems to be missing/pending..

WebEx Video control

If you guys every used WebEx with a webcam notebook or iPad I'm sure you've noticed that your video starts automatically. Although it says that it is "NOT SENDING" the video, the view of looking at yourself and the feeling that the colleagues watching you is really weird.

So, I've tried Google but couldnt find a solution. Realized that this is pretty common complaint from most of the users and WebEx standard reply is to disable when the meeting was arranged. However this is where things get messed up.

I've tried disabling the WebCam and tried some other registry hacks but end up with a pretty 'non-tech' solution. So now this is how my notebook looks during office hours. Requirements: a Post-It note.

Hope Cisco will take some steps (now running 8.5) in the future releases to respect the privacy.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Google Wi Fi Database check.

If you want to find whether your home Wi-Fi location is known to Google then do a search at below link. I bet you'll be pretty surprised to see what the giants like Google, Apple knows about you. I think sooner or later they can capture each and every device location on this planet. Big brother or Grand pa Sam. Don't know but sure they know tons about each and every one of us who's connected. Scary!!!

mapping MAC addresses - samy kamkar


Saturday, May 28, 2011

How smart is your city - Ericsson Networked Society Index

Source: Youtube

Looking in to ICT (Infocomm Tech) and trying to correlate with development is nothing new. We've seen many measurements before and CIA factbook carries a lot of information on ICT.

Anyway the video is from Ericsson and Singapore is the No.1 followed by Stockholm. Thanks for the wonderful infra in place we're on the top. However we're miles behind in terms of service and consistency. Hope to see some improvement, especially in mobile services.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cisco gains market share in X86 Blades and ranks 3rd worldwide

Source: E-week

When we hear Cisco, the first think comes in to our mind is "Routers or Switches". Ofcourse recently they came in to the news for all the wrong reasons and I don't really a great fan of their consumer non-core products like CIUS, Flip or UMI.

Now Cisco officially the 3rd largest x-86 Blade server vendor overtaking Dell in the process. Market leader HP is still way too high with 48% share followed by IBM with 20%. Cisco captured 10.5% and placed at 3rd.

Look at the graphs here


Sunday, May 22, 2011

IPv6 deployment - Taking time..

Why IPv6 still finding its place in Gov & Universities? With the push from industry as well as regulatory bodies I was hoping by 2011 we'll start to see main stream services but today I feel it'll take few more years before we see such services.

I happened to talk to some of my friends working at big organizations. Surprising companies like Cisco, Juniper, HP, IBM yet to start IPv6 in their internal networks. The reason is " No immediate requirement".

I agree that there is no immediate requirement in internal LAN but this is where IPv6 will find its mass market. Unless enterprises opt for it we don't see the traffic going north. It is the same reason, why ISP's & TELCO's are not starting IPv6 in their networks.

Imagine today a mobile operator running on IPv4 private. Nothing 'pushes' the operator to deploy IPv6. No apparent revenue driver, but cost wise it is going to be higher.

Mobile Networks today doesnt support v4v6 PDP which means for every IPv6 session this is going to be a "NEW session" and Operator ends up paying higher license charge as well as provide more resources in the core network. This will increase costs significantly. Also Customer is not demanding (won't be demanding) public IP or reachable IP address. So without strong push or pull factor the technology cannot be deployed.

Secondly, today almost 100% content is on IPv4 network. Exceptions like Google, MS, are there but majority of the websites still running on v4. So even if an operator deploys v6 100% and implement a NAT device this is not poolfroop yet because some of the services seems not working with 6to4 NAT (Skype, IM, Facebook etc). So this is another big hurdle.

Hopefully the v4v6 PDP comes up with more and more content providers making their content available on v6 that's the day we see more v6 traffic.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Telkom CEO wants to buy back 35% share of SingTel in Telkomsel.

Previously I've mentioned it here, that Telkom wants to buy back shares from SingTel. Now seems there is more action. CEO of Telkom made it public that they are talking with SingTel. If this is true, then this is a big blow to SingTel and SingTel will not give up unless there is political/regulatory pressures.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

M1 Singapore will offer commercial LTE Q1-2012

Source: M1 website

M1 announced that they will be offering commercial LTE as early as Q1-2012. I believe both SingTel & Starhub will be offering LTE in 2012 and if you are hoping to enjoy speeds up to 300Mbps by next year I've to say sorry to you. I am not very optimistic about LTE or higher mobile speeds in Singapore at least for the near future. It is quite similar to NG-NBN. Today the fiber rollout is almost 90% done but if we see the % switched to fiber that is less than 5%. Reason is Cost and requirement.

End of the day people subscribe higher speeds when they need it. Today without doubt higher bandwidth is used for gaming, p2p or video stuff. The common man doesn't really require dozens of mega bits or hundreds of mega bits right now. For me I am very happy with my 10Mbps connection which is used mainly for voip or video chat as well as normal browsing.

Anyway more info about M1 is they've awarded the contract to Huawei and the value is worth 280 million over 5 years. If my wild guess is correct M1 awarded as Managed services. That's the only way they can chalk up such high amount. If this is correct, then we'll slowly see Managed Services entering in to Singapore Telco market.

This is significant because as of now we see very little managed services in APAC region. Bharti pioneered this model in India and we all know the success story. Globe is venturing in to it right now and once Singapore opt for it within few years Indonesia, Thailand and rest will follow the suite (be it due to SingTel influence of singapore influence).This will help Telco's to reduce costs but not very good for engineers working with them :|

Also a bit surprised that NSN (Nokia) lost the contract. Currently M1 Core is NSN while the radio network is by Huawei. My understanding is M1 not very happy with Huawei as Huawei prioritizing  all new features for Starhub (Starhub is completely build by Huawei) and M1 wanted to keep NSN for their strategic advantage. So nor M1 awarding to Huawei means either they managed to get some commitment or wonderful 'cost' quote.
Given the fact that Starhub can offer much more business to Huawei the former assumption may not be valid and more likely that M1 managed to get a bargain. Who knows we may well see some M&A activity here too :)







Play Angry birds in any browser... No need iPhone, Android..:)

Just point your browser to chrome.angrybirds.com or download the app from Chrome webstore @ https://chrome.google.com/webstore/

The game is not complete (yet) but who cares, the addictive game still has 63+2 plays so just point and target 3 stars..:)

Update: Just got the hint that this is using the local storage and the hack to the 7 levels in Chrome Dimesion.
So this will open up the 5 levels and make it 63+7.

Install the angrybirds from chrome store and open it.
Once its running then paste below code in to the address bar and press enter. Now go and waste few more min..
javascript: var i = 0; while (i<=69) { localStorage.setItem('level_star_'+i,'3'); i++; } window.location.reload();

To return to original paste below code

javascript: var i = 1; while (i<=69) { localStorage.setItem('level_star_'+i,'-1'); i++; } window.location.reload();

Casino spending - Loss per resident adult. Singapore is 2nd

Just in three years time the Integrated Resorts in Singapore became the 2nd largest/richest money makers. If we see the per capita losses we are 2nd too. US, China are no where to be found (Macau/Monaco are not part of this study).

This is based on the total revenue/residents of singapore. So if we assume 50% of money is coming from foreigners/tourists, still the loss/resident will stand at 500+ which puts us in top 5 list.

All this money supposed to go to other markets are now directed to gambling. No wonder the retails sales, and other businesses are affected after the IR opening.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cisco cius - Any takers??

AT&T will be the second carrier to start selling Cisco Cius (pronounced as See US). Indicative price is ~ USD 900. Now the big question is who is the targeted audience?

Rumor says that APAC will follow by middle of the year. So hopefully the box is available in Singapore later part of the year.

Also what is/are the USP of Cius compared to the market leader iPad or the new entrants Samsung, RIM etc? It comes with a  7" screen, android & pretty standard features like bluetooth, wi-fi, 3G etc. Cisco tops with WebEx & VPN client, but these are already available for iPad or Android tabs. So what exactly is the differentiation factor? No idea ..:|

My opinion is soon we'll see Cisco withdrawing Cius product from the market similar to Flip. Hope Cisco will get their business strategy soon. If not the 'once most valuable company' will be go down in the history and will be a subject for MBA students.

Microsoft purchases Skype.

Source: Microsoft

I am quite optimistic about this deal. Mainly from three different points, say

1. Kinect/Gaming strategy
2. Mobile VoIP/Windows 7 overall strategy
3. Online market/Microsoft internet strategy

In 2009 Skype became the largest long distance call company with 8% of international market share, and in 2010 the market share increased to 12%. The numbers are staggering with 54 billion minutes and close to 550 million registered users and 50+ million paid users (Of course Skype still struggling to make profits).

What Microsoft can do with Skype is to integrate with their existing products.

* Kinect became a huge hit and Microsoft will certainly integrate Skype/Video calls with Kinect platform.

* As per Pyramid reports, windows 7 will overtake Android by 2015 and skype can be a very nice addition to smart phones. Also skype is a semi-business tool for frequent travelers and I've seen some SME's & consultants even printing their skype ID on business cards. So this will make a lot of sense to have skype onboard

* We all know how MS tried to buy Yahoo couple of years back. MS wants to put their name in internet arena and skype can help that.

Also MS is sitting on piles of free cash. The amount paid is ~ 10xPE and I'd think this is the right price. They can open new areas of revenue to make it profitable. One big issue will be to reduce the call charges. Skype is no longer competitive compared to new VoIP providers. I've done some comparison here. If they can reduce the prices or offer flat rate plans in a new countries that'll bring new revenue.

In Singapore or APAC I don't see a big impact of Skype on TELCO's right now but moving forward with greater access speeds Skype/Microsoft can pose a bigger threat jointly with Apple Facetime, Google Voice & other VoIP providers.


On a side note, now I'm pretty curious to see how Cisco will do with their Umi service :). If Cisco acquires Skype that would've made them instantly the market leader of VoIP market and they could've integrated Skype Video with their Umi box. But MS did the right thing now.




Monday, May 9, 2011

Video conferencing - Huawei & ZTE to enter the market

Source: Ovum

As per below text, Huawei & ZTE will be entering the market. In this part of the world the video conferencing or tele presence yet to take in a big way. Perhaps due to the geographical distance or the cultural reasons we don't see many people going for video conferences. Does Huawei/ZTE entrance in to the market will change this scenario? I don't think so. The impact in APAC would be minimum as Asians tend to prefer face-to-face meetings and build rapport over lunch/dinner rather than business meetings. Also the investment and mtce is not cheap. If we really want to reduce the costs down then there are options like Skype or SIP based video conference solutions.



    HELSINKI, May 5 (Reuters) - Video conferencing services developed by Huawei and ZTE will shake up the market in coming years in the same way the Chinese vendors changed the telecom gear sector, research firm Ovum said on Thursday.
Ovum forecast that business spending on video conferencing would grow annually by 6 percent through 2016 when the global market would be worth $3.8 billion.
The video conferencing equipment market is dominated by established U.S. vendors Cisco <CSCO.O> and Polycom <PLCM.O>, but Ovum said Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] and ZTE <000063.SZ>, both small players now, are set to have a major impact on the market in the next two to four years.
"We expect them to cause quite a lot of disruption," Ovum analyst Richard Thurston said.
Huawei and ZTE together have built up a 30-percent share of the global mobile telecom gear market in a few years through aggressive pricing that pushed vendors such as Nortel and Motorola out of the business.
Ovum said some parts of the videoconferencing market were set for much higher growth: 19 percent annually for high-end offerings such as telepresence rooms costing about $300,000 each and 11.5 percent for managed services.

Apple Phone

Source: Google Patents

Have a look here. Apple is quite popular with the phones, tabs etc and they are known for great designs. But did you see this?

Lucky they didn't materialize this. If it is I am sure the successor would have been "Pine apple"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best employers in Singapore 2011

Source: Aon Hewitt 


Here goes the list for Singapore. I think they've either excluded the MNC's or their survey methodology doesnt take 
big wigs like Google, MS or local giants SIA, ST, Singtel. 


Outstanding

  1. Ritz-carlton
  2. McDonalds
Best employees

  1. Hilti Far East Pte Ltd
  2. Singapore food industries 
  3. TATA consultancy
  4. American Express
  5. CITI Bank
  6. Federal Express
  7. ITE
  8. Intercontinental
  9. Marriot Hotel
  10. Bain & Co SEA
  11. Singapore prison service