Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Don't become irrelevant

It has become ages since I have read CNN. The BBC gets a boit more slack as they tend to publish slightly more interesting point-of-view. Once in a while...

Readers no longer see value in hearing news. News reportin has become a commodity. CNN was not a commodity in '91 during the gulf war. Because nobody else could cover it.. 

But the internet has changed all that. You dont need reporters all over the world and a fancy global center in Atlanta to provide global news. The internet makes it easy to pick up news from local organisations...

Readers want solid expertise and analysis behind the news. And that comes from individual blogs...

The “Monty Hall dilemma”

"Marilyn vos Savant’s column gained national notoriety in the early 1990s, thanks to her response to the “Monty Hall dilemma”: the make-or-break decision facing contestants on the game show Let’s Make a Deal that was then hosted by Hall. The question was posed by Craig Whitaker, of Columbia, Marinaland, on September 9 1990. “Dear Marilyn,” wrote Whitaker. “Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you: ‘Do you want to pick door #2?’ Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?”

Savant’s answer, that it was better to switch doors, provoked an extraordinary response: thousands of letters of complaint, many of them from science teachers and academics. “There is enough mathematical illiteracy in this country, and we don’t need the world’s highest IQ propagating more. Shame!” wrote one reader from the University of Florida. “You are the goat!” said another. “You made a mistake, but look at the positive side,” wrote Everett Harman, of the US Army Research Institute. “If all those PhDs were wrong, the country would be in some very serious trouble.”

But Savant had not made a mistake. In the end it took her four columns, hundreds of newspaper stories and a challenge to children to test the options in classroom experiments, to convince her readers that she was right. “Oh, that was so much fun. I just enjoyed these nasty letters I got,” she said. “The audacity of people! I just loved them.”

The key to the solution lies in the role of the host, who will always pick a door which does not have a prize behind it. Statistics from the game show, in which those who switched won about twice as often as those who did not, bear out Savant’s explanation from her third column: “When you first choose door #1 from three, there’s a 1/3 chance that the prize is behind that one and a 2/3 chance that it’s behind one of the others. But then the host steps in and gives you a clue. If the prize is behind #2, the host shows you #3, and if the prize is behind #3, the host shows you #2. So when you switch, you win if the prize is behind #2 or #3. You win either way! But if you don’t switch, you win only if the prize is behind door #1.”

Band Of Horses - The Funeral

Inspired Bicycles - Danny MacAskill April 2009

This is called leverage...


This should be a primary weapon when I do some product reviews...

MLM and developing countries

It must be the desperation to escape from the shackles... I have observed that MLM scams become huge only in developing countries... 

I remember a relative trying to persuade me to sign up for a gold coin MLM scheme in 2003. I went to a huge mass rally just to please him.. He was a bigshot in that MLM organisation.. In that rally they were boasting how that MLM was so popular in Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritria etc.. And I was going WTF!!.

There is a behavioral economics PhD thesis hidden somewhere in this...

The killer - EVERYBODY in India who signed up for that gold-coin MLM came out ahead... Because the price of gold appreciated 300%!!! Haha...

PS22 Chorus "Eye Of The Tiger" by SURVIVOR


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

At work, all PC's are typically locked down.... Meaning you have very limited rights as a Windows user... Nobody can install any new programs, the only writeable location is "My Documents" etc etc.. Any program installation have to be done by IT Helpdesk...

For technology employees esp those who do coding, this is a serious issue. So there is a way for developers to get admin rights on the work PC... It is called DevAccess. DevAccess is a program that allows you to request for admin rights.. The request will be reviewed, and after approval the developer's user-id will get admin rights on that particular PC...

When you open DevAccess, at the bottom of the window is the quote... "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

Being the curious sort, I did some research on this phrase...
"Quis custōdiet ipsōs custōdēs? is a Latin phrase from the Roman poet Juvenal, which literally translates to "Who will guard the guards themselves?", and is variously translated in colloquial English as "Who watches the watchmen?", "Who watches the watchers?", "Who will guard the guards?", "Who shall watch the watchers?", "Who polices the police?" or other similar translations."


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good security pattern: Remote key

With Web 2.o, it is very likely that your browser UI functionality will also need to be exposed programmatically via an API with 3rd party software. Just like twitter can be used via tweetdeck, twhirl etc.

The user will still need to login to your site for the API call. In such cases, it is a good idea to have a separate password ("remote key") for 3rd-party tools, and a main password for the online login. What you should also do is to restrict the kind of activities that can be done after a remote-key login.

While you may be fully able to control the security of your site and your user's password, you cannot guarantee the behavior and security of 3rd party apps. With a separate remote key, the remote key can be easily changed if it has been compromised. In the interim, the compromised key can only be used for a restricted set of activities by the attacker.

We used this pattern in an Adobe AIR app we developed internally at work. Just noticed the same concept when I signed up for Friendfeed.

Google streetview coming to Singapore

Checked the news after spotting their camera car outside the condo. You can find me when searching for Park West condo...

Advice for tough times

1.) Life is not about being liked. It is about being effective.

2.) Dont speak about who you are, but what you have can do and what you have achieved. Remember this when creating your resume...

Late night thought of the day: Shipping inconveniences

Ordering stuff from the US used to be such a pain. No longer with on-demand movies and the Kindle... 

PS: I don't have a kindle.. But just expanding the possibilities
More PS: KPMG/PWC are going to grow in all markets by examining cross-border taxation issues...

RAM as the new disk

I have been reading on some extreme scaling solutions being used by FriendFeed, LinkedIn etc... Some links to share for your reading pleasure (though I doubt how many of the readers to this site actually are in hardcore tech anymore...)

At the heart of all this is a concept of using in-memory caches as the primary data retrieval layer instead of just being a cache. This is a big shift in thinking about application server tier design. 

"The more things change.. the more they remain the same". In 2003, when I started my first job, we used to make fun of former C++ devs coming to Java server design and caching the entire database into memory on Weblogic startup so that they could write familar code. Indeed my 2nd project was undoing all this to make a system scalable. Now the clock is back to 12.


IBM Websphere Extreme Scale!! [Good luck with the licensing]

Singapore tax: Some interesting credit

If you are filing tax in Singapore, then here is an interesting factoid - Any money/prize that you receive for innovation is non-taxable.

See [Point 3]. This has been a concession for a few years already. Also referred in this KPMG newsletter (Page 2).

Yours truly will be saving some 3k in tax due to this :-) Interestingly I was not even aware of this. Was browsing thru their site in Feb to research some withholding tax issues for a huge contract we signed at work and bitching as to why I was the one to do this work. A 3k payday is not bad.

Now all I need to do is get HR to correct the figures they submitted to IRAS regarding my income..

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adobe AIR's fatal flaw

If Adobe AIR is to gain traction in the "Enterprise", AIR applications should not require admin rights to install. In this day and age when Google Chrome can be completely installed into user space, this is a gaping major flaw.

This is what happens when people who have used Macs and Solaris all their life write installers for Windows...