Archive for the ‘TechStuff’ category

1Bestarinet Internet access project for schools

May 16th, 2011
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Again, another article for Teachers Day. The facilities that are being proposed in schools, does not seem to be able to provide a quantum leap. While other countries are going into Gigabytes, we are still in 10Mbps speed expectations.

 

WE can begin to leave SchoolNet behind us as a new tender to wire up schools with Internet broadband access is out.

This new project, known as 1Bestarinet, is supposed to wire up 9,924 schools in the country. The birth of 1Bestarinet dates back to the national key economic area telecoms lab days.

The tender bid was out on May 5 and a must-attend briefing was held on May 10. The closing date for the tender is May 31 this gives potential bidders three weeks to work on their proposals.

Some of those who want to be considered view the three weeks as too short for such a huge project that spans 10 years and can cost anything up to RM300,000 per year.

“Unless you had prior knowledge of this tender, it would be impossible for some parties to submit a tender as it covers a lot of areas and three weeks is just not enough,” one said.

Nearly a dozen companies have collected the tender documents. They include players such as Celcom Axiata, Jaring, HighTech Padu, Maxis Bhd, REDTone International, Time dotCom, Telekom Malaysia and YTL Communications.

This tender is called by the Ministry of Education and it is clearly stipulated that it is open to local companies and preference will be given to bumiputra tender bids that are registered with the Finance Ministry under some codes stipulated.

To recap, SchoolNet was born in 2004 to wire up schools using wireless or fibre technology. Several companies won the bids to provide Internet access to the schools and while the effort was put in, there is really not much to gloat about. The effort is fruitless if it does not achieve its objective and we can blame the lack of specifications to lack of integration, unpreparedness of teachers and find all the flaws but a key component that did not make it shine was the access speed and capacity.

Then comes 1Bestarinet.

There are two major components access and learning management system (LMS) module. Many did not expect the LMS to be included but it is there and details need to be furnished with the tender bid.

For urban areas the access speed is 2Mbps to 10Mbps, and for rural and remote schools 1Mbps to 4Mbps. All sorts of technologies can be used, be it fibre or wireless technology including Vsat.

The interesting part is that even before the tender came out some parties have been burning the midnight oil to get prepared. One company managed to get a LMS module in place and it is dangling its carrot to work with others. Two others the ones with the biggest fibre networks are likely to put in a joint bid and have been on it for a while now.

But those who only got wind of it days before the tender opened, they will be scrambling to meet the deadline.

The contention is on timing why only three weeks when it is such a big project? Three weeks happens to be the minimum time required for a tender to remain opened.

One of the flaws of SchoolNet was scalability. That apparently is also the issue with 1Bestarinet even though some claim that those making a submission should consider cloud computing as an option.

While the 1Bestarinet project is great, did it take into consideration themurid‘s perspective?

We are talking about a group of people who will be tomorrow’s leaders and they are the ones living in the era of social media, super fast Internet speed, smartphones, TouTube and so on, and for all that they need big capacity and super speed.

So 2Mbps or even 10Mbps is really not enough in a classroom of 30 to 40 students, the networks are going to be congested in no time. So should we pour money into networks that are only good for a year, two or three?

What we need to look at is the bare minimum of 1Gbps; there should be no compromises on speed and capacity. Taking U-turns can be a costly affair and it can delay us from reaching our destination.

Perhaps we ought to review our offering, make the change and give more time to those who are interested in the tender bid so that we can attract the best. While at it we should not consider players that don’t keep their promises.

 

  • Deputy news editor B.K. Sidhu wishes all teachers a Happy Teacher’s Day and thanks them for taking care of our children.

  • source: http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/5/13/business/8675705&sec=business

    EduHelp@poobalan.com

    February 21st, 2011
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    Finally, after few months, I’ve managed to get the beta version of the eduhelp website up and running. Not being artistically inclined and busy with other work, it took about 4 months to work on the site little by little. Still got more features to add and another 30++ scholarships to be listed. Hopefully can improve on it by the time SPM results are out in few weeks’ time.

    Oh ya, the site is at poobalan.com/eduhelp

    Do drop by and give share your thoughts on the website.

    Malaysian Tamil Valthu Song and Tamil Writers Website

    January 28th, 2011
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    Last weekend, I was at a 3-in-1 function organised by the Malaysian Tamil Writers Association:

    –  introduce (free) Tamil short stories in iPad and iPhone, created by Muthu Nedumaren (creator of Sellinam)

    – launch of Tamil Valthu (Praise song)

    – launch of revamped Tamil Writers website.

    I managed to catch the afternoon session which started with Muthu’s talk on social networks, creation of Tamil content in Apple platform (iPhone and iPad) and the need for writers to move on to the next step which is Web 2.0 and beyond. It was an interesting session which was peppered with facts and figures on Facebook usage etc.

    Muthelilan Nedumaren: From Malaysian Tamil Writers Association Tamil Valthu and Website Launch

    This was followed by a short break before the launch of the Tamil Valthu.

    The stage: From Malaysian Tamil Writers Association Tamil Valthu and Website Launch

    Association President along with VIPs: From Malaysian Tamil Writers Association Tamil Valthu and Website Launch

    The Song was launched by Dato’ Kanthan (ex-assemblyman). It was written by poet Sini Naina Muhammed. The poet shared his story on how the song was created. It was quite interesting as he explained about how he made changes, and the inspiration he received.

    Tamil Valthu launch: From Malaysian Tamil Writers Association Tamil Valthu and Website Launch

    Hear the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ3S_jQdmKw

    The lyrics:

    This was followed by the launch of their website. This was a collaboration between a website created by Ms Khrisna Raj Mohan since 2006. It was revamped and now launched with cooperation of the association. You can access the website at www.tamilwriters.net

    From Malaysian Tamil Writers Association Tamil Valthu and Website Launch

    54% of Malaysian houses have broadband!

    November 30th, 2010
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    Its indeed a great news, especially since the percentage rose 23% within a year! Must be world record. I think we can get 90-100% household broadband penetration by 2o15. Never mind that our broadband start at 384 kbps levels 🙂

    Obviously, with nearly 70% of our population living in urban areas, its just a matter of time before we reach 75%  household penetration (may even be by end of next year), especially if the target is made a KPI of the Minister or Ministry. Giving free netbooks with cheap rate broadband account helps out as well.

    The household broadband penetration in the country has risen meteorically to more than 54 percent from 31.7 percent at the end of last year, says Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Joseph Salang. 

    He said mobile cellular subscriptions are now around 110 percent while some 17 million Malaysians are subscribing to the Internet.

    Malaysia is among the world’s highest in social networking, he said.

    “All these demonstrate the appetite and capacity of Malaysians to embrace trends and offerings of information and communications technology (ICT) and the potential for us to go to greater heights in this area,” he said when opening the Lifestyle and Digital Home Technology symposium in Cyberjaya today.

    The latest rate of household broadband penetration has surpassed the 50 percent of the target set for year-end and is targeted to clinch 75 percent by 2015.

    Salang said industry players should look at the opportunities of expanding on their current services to incorporate digital home services.

    The manufacturers, especially small and medium enterprises engaged in the ICT electronics field should explore the opportunities for them, while the research and academic institutions should play their rightful role in this sector, he said.

    On the part of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the deputy minister said the commission would ensure that all aspects under its jurisdiction were attended to in moving forward the digital home agenda, he added.

    from : http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/149600

    Minimum Wage plan postponed due to low blog feedback!

    June 23rd, 2010
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    I’m not sure if Malaysian Insider wrote this story correctly, because the answers just don’t seem to gel. Why did the blog generate only 77 response? You can try searching in MOHR website and let me know if can find any link to the blog because I certainly can’t find it. Maybe the blog is hidden somewhere? Found the blog here but the poll is closed!

    Secondly, we are talking about minimum wage for “LOW INCOME” workers. Can a blog be the best to tool to gauge their response? Our broadband penetration still not over 40%, and people not really have MOHR website bookmarked.

    Or is the blog meant for employers and the middle/high income employees to respond?

    I think there should have been other ways to get response from target group. Could have paper-based survey during many of the goverment events like 1Malaysia youth program at Bukit Jalil, concerts, by-election areas, and so on. definitely would have got more than 77 replies.

    They could have even talked to Income Tax department to include a survey when employees file their returns via e-filing in April. If just 30% of 1 million tax payers responded, you’ll get 300,000 responses!

    Pity the security guards.

    Despite strong calls from many quarters, including the MCA, the government announced today that it was shelving a minimum wage policy due to poor public feedback.

    Human Resources deputy minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan told Parliament that the government had only received a total of 77 responses from the public since March this year.

    “The ministry launched its blog on March 24 this year to obtain feedback from Malaysians on the proposal to introduce minimum wages.

    “Until today, the ministry has only obtained 77 responses,” she said when replying to a question by Charles Santiago (DAP-Klang),

    Maznah said that of the 77 responses, 70 or 91 per cent agreed with the proposal, about three per cent disagreed and 6 per cent were indifferent.

    The feedback is too small for us to implement the policy, especially in comparison with the over 11 million workers in the labour force nationwide.

    “It is not representative of the number of workers,” she said.

    She added that the ministry would continue with its blog to obtain more feedback as well as to organise a three-party workshop in mid-July this year involving workers’ associations, employers associations, academics and government agencies.

    “Whatever feedback we obtain from the blog and the workshop will be used as input for the government’s consideration,” she said.

    In a supplementary question, Charles slammed the ministry for deferring its decision to introduce minimum salaries for security personnel to 2011 although it was set to begin on July 1 this year.

    “It is important for the nation. The government had decided to introduce the policy but suddenly, this was a retracted.

    “This is like one step forward and three steps back. From what I have read from the news, I see that this shows that the government is afraid of the private sector, especially the security firms that have been urging the government not to introduce the policy,” he said.

    Charles asked if the government had the “political will” to introduce minimum wages for the country, especially in view of the New Economic Model’s target of achieving a high-income status for the country.

    In her response, Maznah said that the Cabinet had on January 13 this year instructed the ministry to study the proposal to introduce minimum wages.

    “For your information, your accusation that we are frightened of the private sector and that we have no political will — this is just a perception typical of the opposition.

    “The introduction of minimum wages involves many processes and many ministries. It involved the communication between the ministries and other important parties like the workers unions and other associations,” she said.

    Maznah pointed out that a single policy could not be used for all sectors.

    “We need to have a proper, detailed study, which would include making comparisons to other countries as well,” she said.

    In another supplementary question, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor) asked Maznah for the ministry’s plans in improving the wages of the labour force.

    “About 40 per cent of the labour force earn less than RM1,500 monthly and 75 per cent of them are the bumiputras from Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

    Maznah said that the 10th Malaysia Plan programmes provide ways and means to improve the welfare of the labour force.

    “We are also looking into ways and means on how to lessen our dependence on foreign labour as well as how to improve the skilled workers force.

    “Our target is to raise our 25 per cent of skilled workers in the workforce to at least 50 per cent,” she said.