Posts

  • Forward-Thinking

    On September 10, 2013, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s to the public. The 5c is essentially a previous-generation iPhone 5 with a new plastic enclosure, bigger battery, and an HD front-facing FaceTime camera. Nothing too fascinating on the technological side of things, but from the economics and business perspective, Ben Thompson has written a great piece.

    The iPhone 5s deserves further scrutiny. There were only 3 major features announced: First, a 64-bit capable Apple-designed A7 chip, that employs the ARMv8 architecture. As a sub-point, the Apple M7 motion co-processor was introduced as a low-power chip, designed to “collect sensor data from integrated accelerometers, gyroscopes and compasses and off load the collecting and processing of sensor data” from A7 chip in the iPhone 5s. Second, an amazingly powerful camera system, with hardware and software innovations. Third, Touch ID, a fingerprint sensor that authenticates the user, just by touching the home-button.

    All three features revealed have huge implications. However, I have time only to write on one idea, and briefly touch on the rest.

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  • The Pain of Google Apps

    I’ve been using Google Apps to host my mail ever since Google Apps was launched. In fact, my domain account is provisioned for up to 500 users.

    Soon enough, Google Apps Premium was launched with additional exclusive features, tailored to enterprise needs. In effect, Google is tapping their free users to alpha-test Google Apps for their enterprise customers.

    I don’t mind doing that.

    But recently, Google started streamlining and shutting down services that are not profit maximising. The warning signs are clear, and then just last week, Google announced that Google Apps (free edition) has been discontinued and no new signups will be offered. Current accounts are unaffected but the writing is on the wall.

    I intensified by search for a free or affordable alternative for a hosted, custom domain, email solution.

    Then today, one of the most useful features offered by Google Apps and Gmail, Google Sync, is slated to be discontinued on 30 January, 2013.

    Going forward, I believe Google will begin removing features from the free offering, either pushing users onto their Premier ($50/user/year) offering, or forcing them off the platform entirely.

    Fortunately, Microsoft now has slightly more affordable option available in the form of Exchange Online, including a free option at Live Mail.

    As such, I’m now considering the various options available and formulating a plan before I am forced to migrate urgently.

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  • Alarm as China Issues Rules for Disputed Area

    The NYTimes reports:

    New rules announced by a Chinese province last week to allow interceptions of ships in the South China Sea are raising concerns in the region, and in Washington, that simmering disputes with Southeast Asian countries over the waters will escalate.

    Wu Shicun, the director general of the foreign affairs office of Hainan Province, said Saturday that Chinese ships would be allowed to search and repel foreign ships only if they were engaged in illegal activities (though these were not defined) and only if the ships were within the 12-nautical-mile zone surrounding islands that China claims.

    “It covers all the land features inside the nine-dash line and adjacent waters,” Mr. Wu said. The nine-dash line refers to a map that China drew up in the late 1940s that demarcates its territorial claims — about 80 percent of the South China Sea, whose seabed is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.

    That map forms the basis for China’s current claims. Some neighboring countries were outraged when China recently placed the nine-dash map on its new passports.

    Here, the true imperialistic behaviour of the PRC rears its ugly face, first by staking claims of the East China Sea, and now, the South China Sea. To make their claims more “legitimate”, they print their interpretation of maps onto their own passports.

    It’s not as if the PRC lacks land, or natural resources. It behaves like a growing-up, greedy little spoilt child.

    “A big worry for neighboring countries and countries outside the region is that China is growing so rapidly, and they see it is possible China taking over the islands by force,” he said. “I think China needs to convince neighboring countries that this is not the case.” Essentially, he said, countries had to trust that China would not use force in the sea.

    I’m very certain that the PRC will have no qualms of using force in the region. After all, they had no issues killing their own people at their whims and fancy.

    “In Asean, there is an unwillingness to confront China; they are hopelessly divided,” said [Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies].

    ASEAN is a joke, with split and selfish loyalties. Similarly, the USA has its hands tied back home. Although they may have rebalanced their Naval fleet for more emphasis on the Pacific, they need a stronger diplomatic front.

    Given the escalating tensions in Asia, no thanks to the imperialistic intentions of the PRC, I’m quite certain we are in for a difficult time. Peace has had its good run.

    The least we can do is to reduce our economic incentives and contributions to the PRC—boycott products solely designed and produced by the PRC.

    Would you bear to let the PRC be a major power in the world?

    Update: Interestingly, Apple was confirmed to be relocating some manufacturing of its products back to the USA. The rumoured Mac Pro in 2013?

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  • Command Line Double Entry Accounting

    As an accountant by training, I have always found that off-the-shelf software available in the market is somewhat lacking and inadequate for my personal accounting needs.

    Software like Quicken or Microsoft Money are primarily single-entry systems. While single-entry systems are generally easier to understand, they are somewhat less robust and captures slightly less information compared to a double-entry system. In a double-entry system, each entry records the flow of monetary unit (in addition to the change in balances of 2 corresponding accounts), while in a single-entry system, each entry records the change in monetary value for that particular account.

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