mOi FiRsT bLoG

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Levelling the wireless broadband playing field

WHEN MobileOne and Pacific Internet (PacNet) announced last November that they were testing wireless broadband technologies, the news didn't startle many industry observers.

M1 currently buys local leased circuits, or data pipes, from SingTel to connect parts of its cellphone network.
PacNet also leases telecoms equipment from SingTel to offer its broadband services.
So it is only a matter of time, experts say, before the two service providers start expanding their own telecoms networks and rely less on SingTel, which owns most of the fibre optic cables in Singapore.
As analyst Deirdre Yeung at research firm IDC pointed out, companies that lease telecoms infrastructure from their rivals have to stare at their accounts at the end of the day and realise that chunks of their revenues are going into their rivals' pockets.
'Laying physical cables is not common (in saturated telecoms markets),' she said, adding that it is cheaper for companies to connect up their users with wireless technologies.
The technologies that M1 is testing out - from wireless equipment vendors such as ArrayComm, IPWireless and Soma Networks - are not new. ArrayComm's iBurst technology, for example, is already being used in Australia.
But these proprietary technologies - often called 'pre-WiMax' technologies - are the first to show the disruptive potential that wireless broadband can have on telecoms markets.

Without incurring costs to dig up roads and lay cables, operators that turn to wireless broadband technologies can level the playing field with dominant telcos that own most of the current infrastructure, such as SingTel.
Mr Ronnie Persad, who heads homegrown WiMax equipment maker, Nex-G, said when WiMax, a technology based on common standards, becomes more widely available later this year, the costs of connecting up broadband users will come down.

Regulation

Like other proponents of wireless broadband, he expects to see new Internet service providers that spring up with low start-up costs threatening telcos that have dominated with their fixed line infrastructure for years.
All eyes are now on the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), as the telecoms regulator reveals its plans to allocate the frequency spectrum for wireless broadband services next month.
Experts say that if IDA makes it too expensive for service providers to acquire the required chunks of radio frequency, then wireless broadband technologies may not be feasible.
According to IDC's Ms Yeung, wireless broadband services will only take off in countries where the frequency spectrum is easily available to operators.
Over the years, other alternative broadband technologies - including a wireless technology known as local multipoint distribution service (LMDS) - have been tested with limited success in Singapore.
But with wireless broadband technologies maturing and being rolled out around the world, many companies may start thinking that there has never been a better time to go untethered.
Said M1 chief executive officer, Mr Neil Montefiore, as the company launched its latest trials: 'Wireless broadband will put freedom and control back in the lives of our netizens, allowing them to decide when and where they wish to go online.'

Going pro?

Professional gamers in the US and Korea make a living through competing in tournaments and getting sponsorship deals from companies. Can Singaporeans make pro gaming a career choice?

Fanatic gamers are finding that what they enjoy doing most can pay their bills, too. They have turned pro. These competitive gamers known as 'Cyber Athletes' play computer games like Quake III, Counter-Strike and Warcraft 3 for a living

These pro gamers train for hours playing their games, supplemented by exercises to keep their bodies energised and fingers trigger-happy.
Usually they start young, in their teens; the first generation of pros are now in their early twenties.
Hailing from countries like South Korea, the United States and Sweden, these cyber athletes make the rounds of tournaments around the world and can win US$20,000 ($32,800) just for being the best Quake III player at a major competition like World Cyber Games (WCG).
Overseas, pro gamers like those in South Korea, are featured regularly on TV and are treated like celebrities. In the US, Mr Jonathan Wendel, 23, better known as 'Fatal1ty', and a top ranked first person shooter (FPS) is a sought after celebrity.
Fans tried to take him down when he took part in demonstration games at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held early last month in Las Vegas
But pro gamers are unheard of in Singapore. Mr Herman Ng, who owns Rapture Gaming, a computer entertainment services and consultancy company, said: 'Currently, there are no pro gamers in Singapore, but we hope that this will change. Most gamers in Singapore are casual gamers. We hope to reach out to them and drive them into competitive gaming.'
Mr Ng organises gaming tournaments and hopes to run courses that train competitive gamers.
One semi-pro gamer is national serviceman Eugene Koh, 22. Known as 'Numbskull', during his student days, he was the top ranked Counter-Strike (CS) player in Singapore for five years.
But he retired when he entered national service last June.
Explained Mr Koh: 'My clan RaZ'3' was the no.1 clan in CounterStrike here. We won over 20 competitions and collected $20,000 over five years. But I quit when I went into NS, as there was no time to train to keep up with the best players.'

Fat paychecks

For pro gamers, the money is good. Not as good as the millions Hollywood stars make, but the paycheck is good enough. In South Korea, the 204 professional gamers registered with the Korea e-Sports Association can scoop up total cash winnings of $30,000 at a single competition there.
The money is even better on the major tournaments like the Cyberathelete Professional League (CPL) which started in 1997 and the WCG, the gaming equivalent of the Olympics.
The WCG 2004 gave away a total of US$412,000 last October, with each gold medallist for a particular game like Halo receiving US$20,000.
Miss Alana Reid from the US, who is famous as 'Ms X' in the Quake game circuit, said in an e-mail interview: 'The upcoming CPL World Tour that runs from February to November has a cash pool worth US $1 million.'
For Mr Wendel, who started playing professionally since he was 18, his winnings are an estimated US$50,000 every year on average since 1999. And this excludes the sponsorships and endorsement deals or even prizes in kind like cars.
Mr Wendel has landed deals with motherboard company Abit, and Singapore's very own Creative, to develop products bearing his 'Fatal1ty' brand.
Additionally, pro gamers also enjoy all-expenses-paid trips to various cities to compete in various tournaments or to take part in demonstration events. If they win in these tournaments, they get to keep the cash.

Ms Reid was invited to Singapore last December by her sponsor, Razer, to demonstrate her shooting skills against local gamers at the Sitex Exhibition.
But to win that money, pro gamers must train like any other athlete, spending hours playing games and also on physical exercise to keep their reflexes sharp.
Ms Reid said: 'It's practice, practice, practice!'
Like other sports, it is important for the cyber athletes to be young. But Mr Koh pointed out that it is too early to tell if there is an age limit for champion gamers to retire.
'The best gamers out there are still in their twenties. When you're young, you have quick reflexes to win games. But when you are older, you can rely on your instincts and experience to overcome the disadvantage of slower reflexes,' he added.

Turn pro?

Given the celebrity status and the good paycheck, are there Singapore gamers willing to turn pro
The market here for online gaming is a growing one. According to research firm IDC, revenues from the online gaming market in Singapore will reach US$5.5 million (S$8.98 million) in 2007.
National serviceman Randy Lai, 21, who is part of Grudgebringers, the team that came in fifth for Counter-Strike in the World Cyber Games last year, said: 'I'd definitely turn professional, if there are sponsors, because I love gaming a lot!'
There are already companies here willing to support people like him.
ZoneX, which operates several gaming centres in Singapore, organised tournaments like an Ultimate Gamers Challenge for arcade gamers last year.
Mr Ang Gim Seng, the general manager of ZoneX said: 'We even took the winners of the Ultimate Gamers Challenge to Japan, to expose them to the gaming culture there. We will continue to host competitions, and we are willing to help aspiring pro gamers to pursue their dreams.'
Razer, the company behind the speedy Razer Viper mouse much heralded by serious gamers, intends to spend $15,000 to sponsor and train deserving local gamers to take part in the big gaming league.
Generally, the companies Digital Life spoke to are optimistic that the WCG this year will kickstart the competitive gaming scene here.
Mr Ang from ZoneX said: 'Certainly, we hope that WCG will not be a one-off event and be forgotten come Christmas. For a start, perhaps the Ministry of Education can recognise computer gaming as a co-curricular activity and sanction inter-school gaming competitions.'
In the meantime, pro gamer hopefuls will have to make their mark before they can get sponsor attention.
Mr Ng from Razer had this to say: 'Go out there and make your name in the international stage. Companies will be willing to sponsor you if you are good.'

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

E-commerce in Singapore

Surviving the pains of the dot.com crash needs continuous, long-term efforts. Many lessons emerged from that crash. But sadly, there is no blueprint on how to erect a click-and-mortar shop that's guaranteed to work. Many brave Singaporeans are trying by starting home-based, one-man ventures online. Through trial-and-error, they are discovering what sells and what does not. Through feedback, they are learning how to improve presentations of their cyber showcases.
It was also hard looking for national figures on the success of e-commerce in the past three years of the post-dot.com era. We thought the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore would have some figures as it has been promoting Internet banking and the e-lifestyle. But the IDA pointed us to Spring Singapore. Not much information there either.
We also asked International Data Corporation, but we were asked if Asia-Pacific figures would help for this week's Cover Story.
It was a relief to know that Nielsen Netratings, which stopped its research in 2001 on Singapore's e-commerce, is starting to monitor this area again. That would help those who are in the business of e-business.
Perhaps events like September 11 and Sars have put e-commerce advances in Singapore on hold over the last three years.
But that does not mean that e-commerce has come to a complete halt. There are, for example, 77 merchants under the TrustSg Mall portal and Shopping Lifestyle.com has 80 merchants under its umbrella.
Also, the National Trust Council, which involves organisations like the Consumers Association of Singapore, has been working behind the scenes to bring confidence back to e-commerce.
But compared to the United States where you read about successes like Amazon.com or eBay, Singapore has a long way to go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Getting it ride GPS

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/digital_life/story/0,5597,296225,00.html?

IS SATELLITE navigation the biggest thing since sliced bread? If you're a tourist on a self-drive holiday, you bet. But even if you think you know Singapore like the back of your hand, there will be times when you wish locating an unfamiliar address spot can be left to a machine. After all, the road network here spans over 3,000km.

While navigation is quite commonplace in markets such as Japan, Europe and America, the feature is only offered as standard equipment on two cars here: the BMW 7-series and the Bentley Conti-nental GT (CGT). Both use hardware by German systems maker Siemens VDO, which currently run CD-based maps.
But by March, BMW will switch to a DVD-based media. DVD offers the advantage of much quicker generation of map imagery as well as three-dimensional visuals on the display.
'This new format will be introduced in the new 5- and 6-series cars,' said a spokesman for Performance Motors, distributor for BMWs. 'Cars with navigation currently on the road have been prepared for expansion to incorporate the new DVD-based Navi system.'
The opportunity to try the Bentley CGT's navigation has not presented itself, but I have had numerous occasions to sample BMW's system.
Mapping out routes
Getting to the menu is easy enough once you are familiar with BMW's iDrive system, a Windows-based, mouse-oper-ated central control that minimises physical dials and buttons on the dashboard. Once in, just select the region (necessary in a big country) and street name. In cases where the road is long, there is a junction specification.
The system also locates amenities such as the nearest ATMs, public buildings and petrol kiosks. In future, it is hoped that tailored services would be available. These would include finding say, an Italian restaurant in a five-star hotel, or a spe-ciality boutique.
Currently, the system provides route choices such as highway, no highway, or shortest journey. In Australia, for instance, it has an 'avoid toll' option. I thought the system here could have included that, since there will be times when you don't feel like contributing to the electronic road-pricing.
In the future, also, when intelligent road information is available, the option of 'fastest route' should be available. The system would then be able to map out journeys that avoid jams.
A smooth journey
As it is, the Beemer navigation system is already quite cool. For one, you can never get lost with it. If you miss a turn despite the ample visual and audio directions, it will guide you back by suggest-ing a U-turn or an alternative route. You can input top addresses in the memory (such as home, school and office) to avoid having to punch them in all the time.
The system provides information such as distance to destination and live estimated time of arrival. The Australia version recognises even the smallest backlanes and even guides you out of some multi-storey carparks. But the system is not completely flawless.
On a recent test, the Singapore system recently mistook an underpass on Braddell Road for a roundabout (perhaps because of the rate of development here). Despite that, it directed me to my destination without fuss.
So is navigation necessary? To be honest, it is not. But it is good to have, especially when it is packaged in a luxurious car that starts at around $250,000 - one-third the price of a CGT. And if you happen to relocate to a country with a relatively high crime rate, the system can have security applications. For instance, a stolen car can be tracked, and even immobilised.

Quality education, so SMU ups fees by 15%

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/topstories/story/0,5562,296321,00.html?


STUDYING in the Singapore Management University will cost $6,500 a year from August, $570 more than the other two universities.

SMU is raising tuition fees by about 15 per cent, from the current $5,650 a year, for all students in its five degree programmes - business, accountancy, arts and social sciences, economics and information systems.
While SMU hinted at a fee hike earlier this month, the 15 per cent rise left some students shocked.
Most were expecting a rise of about 10 per cent, already double the fee hike announced by the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University last month.

All three universities get the same level of government funding - 75 per cent of the cost of educating a student.
NUS and NTU, both publicly funded and run, do not yet have the autonomy to set their own fees, unlike SMU, established five years ago to blaze the trail as a privately-run university.
Yesterday, it cited the differences between itself and the two other universities to account for its higher fees.
With 3,000 students, it does not enjoy the same economies of scale as NUS, which has 32,000 students, and NTU, which has 22,000, said SMU's president Howard Hunter.
Modelled on the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, United States, SMU students are taught in seminar groups of 20 to 50 students. NUS and NTU generally follow the lecture and tutorial system, with lectures accommodating as many as 300 undergraduates.
To continue providing a high-quality education, SMU courses must be taught by top-notch faculty members who come with a higher price tag, said Professor Hunter.
Already, business professors command much higher salaries than those in other faculties.
An assistant professor teaching business, for example, can cost a university as much as $200,000 a year, double the salary of an assistant professor teaching a subject in the arts faculty.
SMU has 155 professors now, 80 per cent of them business professors. In 2010, when it reaches its full enrolment of 6,000, it will have to employ 350 professors in all.
Another reason for the higher fees: SMU will move to its 7.8ha city campus, which will cost more to run, in the middle of the year.
Prof Hunter said the fee revision 'is not a substitute for prudent financial management and other cost-containment measures which the university has always practised'.
Rather, it was to 'ensure that the university continues to be able to provide that quality of education that has come to be expected of us'.
Asked if he expected the number of applicants to drop this year, now it is pricing itself higher than the two more established universities, Prof Hunter referred to a survey SMU commissioned last year which showed students and parents saw the university as distinct from the other two.
They used adjectives such as 'creative', 'modern', 'exciting' and 'stylish' to describe SMU. On the other hand, NUS was described as 'established', 'familiar' and 'reliable', while NTU was 'traditional' and 'down-to-earth'.
The survey also found students would pay more for the SMU difference.
But what price tag to put on the 'difference' is something else, going by interviews with some SMU students who described the new fees as 'too much'.
Business student Selina Tan, 19, said: 'I expected a 10 per cent increase, tops, which is more than NUS and NTU. Not 15 per cent more.'
The SMU move, however, has led to worries that NUS and NTU will follow its lead once they get the official nod to set their own fees.
The Government has said university education will become pricier in years to come, although it will impose a 10 per cent yearly fee increase cap on NUS and NTU.
Housewife Eileen Tan, 40, who has two school-going sons, said: 'I am resigned to the fact that higher university fees will be inevitable. But I hope the Government will keep to its promise of funding university education generously and providing more financial aid.'

Bank loan for varsity fees?

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/singapore/story/0,5562,296320,00.html?

Thirty per cent of Singapore Management University (SMU) students take up bank loans and 30 per cent take CPF loans - a figure SMU president Howard Hunter calls 'surprising'.
It makes economic sense, he noted, to leave their parents' CPF money alone to accumulate interest, rather than use it to pay fees.
The question of who to turn to for help with fees was raised at an SMU press conference yesterday, where it was announced that its fees would be going up by 15 per cent, from $5,650 to $6,500.
The tendency to use CPF money extends to National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University students too.
SMU provost Tan Chin Tiong hopes the three universities can educate their students on turning to bank loans instead.
'There's this mental block of not wanting to borrow from the banks for education and that must change,' he said.
Furthermore, the 2.5 per cent per annum interest for CPF loans kicks in the moment a student starts school.
But students seem to be turning to their parents' CPF because they expect their parents to settle their education fees for them.
Although some students repay their parents, with interest, on graduation, anecdotal evidence suggests some parents top up CPF accounts with their own savings to lift the burden of repayment from children.
Some students simply did not know of other avenues.
Second-year business management student Yang Ziying, 20, who is now on an SMU scholarship, used her parents' CPF to pay for tuition fees in her first year.
'It was largely because of ignorance that I chose to use their CPF. At that time, everyone said tuition was not a big issue as it could be deducted from CPF.'
With the fee hike, SMU will increase the number of scholarships and help schemes, which currently reach 5 per cent of the students, to reach 11 per cent for the coming intake.
This means one in nine students admitted this year has a chance to secure one of the 131 scholarships.
The number of part-time jobs available on campus will also go up - from 50 now to 100 in the coming semester - so more students can qualify for the SMU work-study grant of $2,000 for every 200 hours of work.
Even with the slew of scholarships and help schemes, some students still feel the increase is too steep.
Second-year student Cindy Tan, 20, who pays for her tuition with her parents' CPF, said she was shocked at the hike: 'It's not a small amount and I don't think it's justified because SMU has received huge donations, which could be used to finance its expenses.'
SMU student association president Ford Lai, who said the increase was higher than the 10 per cent he had been expecting, said: 'I hope the increase will translate into better-quality faculty members and more funds injected into student activities, especially in the areas of sports and performing arts, with better-quality coaches and instructors.'

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

MB 362 lesson

today is the second lesson of MB 362

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Time/DayInformation required/useMylocationSourceCostValue
1130pm 5janposting this tableunknowncomputer of courseFOClow
1200am 6janstill doingsomewheremy laptopFOCLOW
1230am 6janSUPPERNUShmm..$4.70high
300am 6jansleephome

hmmm..

FOCHIGH
600am 6janwake uphomehmmm.....LOW
630am 6jango schoolBOONLAYbus-train-busconcessionmedium
830am 6janLABS1/B2S-02hmm..paid tution feesMEDIUM
1130am 6janlunchnorthspinecanteen A$1.20high
130pm 6janEE2005 lecLT22NOTESpaid tution feesHIGH
230pm 6janEE2007 lecLT22NOTESpaid tution feesHIGH
330pm 6janyeah.. finish class! going homeHOMEbus-train-busconcessionmedium