Saturday, November 1, 2008

My cut on MyKad

My cut on MyKad
Multimedia Super Corridor has been a dream since the start of this century for Malaysia to trnasform itself from its otherwise perceived laid-back 'tidak apa' attitude nation to one that leads the world in not just ICT but ICT implementation.

When MyKad - the one Malaysian one card - concept was mooted as a flagship application back then, many people pooed pooed the idea, especially Malaysians.

Today, I became the proud owner of my very own MyKad.

As the first Business Development Manager for the first Multimedia Super Corridor-status company in Malaysia, it indeed embodies within it a very different meaning for me. MyKad's function include driving license details. Touch&Go facility, banking details etc. Beyond that it encapsulated a dream that was almost made impossible by its own lack of confidence and pride that Malaysia can pull it off.

I am proud to have been a very small part of it at its inception.

With MyKad, even the counter ladies who serve the eager public is smiling. So are the people being served.

Maybe it takes a Kad like this to change not just the functionality that is empowered by ICT, but the image of a nation that has just re-discovered that it can smile, yet again

Service or just lip synching script?

Service or just lip synching script?
As our 40-year old nation strives to become the hub of everything possible, the promise of better service may be missing a soul.

I have encountered many such situations; from fast-food joints, through financial institutions, to travel agencies. Most recently, from a bank, which I was told that I belong to one of their elite customer base.

I called the bank exclusive telephone customer service helpline to enquire about why they have added my last month's bill to this month's total when I am on GIRO.

To begin with, the customer service rep did not ask me for my details when I told him I wanted to enquire about the outstanding amount. I had to volunteer it. Upon checking, he told me, no less than 5 times, that the bank ran a promotion that they did not activate GIRO payment as an offer to 'extend' our payment period. To this, I asked if we, the clients, were consulted. It is to the question came the same answer - albeit in a higher and higher stressful pitch - that it was a promotion. I believe he was reading a well rehearsed script without providing an answer. He was merely going through the motion without achieving the end-in-mind of a solution.

He finally succumbed to my repeated explanation that I was not consulted, to reluctantly and without apology, say that he will take note of this for future promotion. (Now whether he will or not is anyone's guess)

So, if we are to provide service as a differentiating factor to other nations, we better know what we are promising and be able to live up to it.

No more puppet show please!

Should all (fill in the blanks with the appropriate feelings) be forgot ...

Should all (fill in the blanks with the appropriate feelings) be forgot ...
2005 ... sigh!

Another year has come and gone and all we are left with is just memories! The good, the bad and the ugly!

2005 for me has been a 'annus horribilis' - a year started with hope of a brand new career with it ending to see the start of another brand new career. Maybe it is not as horrible after all!

My point is - many 'blamed' it on the will of God, to the lack of view of 'the whole picture', or simply some superstition that caused their time to be less than perfect as they wanted.

Well, all I can say is God wanted me to be here still writing this, the whole picture is being understood piece by piece, and I have become more realistic and less arrogant in expecting what I have known to expect. Hmmm.. does not sound and feel that bad after all.

Imagine, we could be in Acheh without a roof over our head, be the guy who was at the prime of his life and got smashed by falling concrete slab from 20 floors above, or simply the richest man with the poorest of feelings. Which is worse?

2005 has been a humbling year for me. To need to learn to tolerate viciousness, to learn to accept what is outside my comfort zone (read DEFEAT), to feel poor after shaking hands with the richest man twice within a month, and to feel somewhat lonesome when I am loved by the people I love.

That is all, within the next 55 minutes, be in the PAST!

Call it an excuse to start a logical continuous time line with a punctuated physical division called a YEAR. Call it a reason to restart the passion and embody the soul of a fighter. Call it a fresh mandate to be charitable, be kind and be humane. Call it whatever. Just call it a NEW beginning, the dawn of a new era - as cliche as it may sound - call it HOPE.

2006, as the sms'es rings it the promises and the great wishes. Wishing HAPPINESS when one is unsure if it does bring that.

2006 will be to me a year that 'I' - singualrly - will pronounce a year of RETURN. Return to the roots of love, to the roots of humility to the roots of happiness. A year to celebrate great love of family, a year to cherish old friends and cultivate new ones, a year that I will fully realize my full potential as a being, human; humanly and humane.

I will plot 2006 as a mark to conquer all. A year to love and be loved.

As I begin to pen down thoughts of the ideas for my 2 books - 'Through the kaleidascope of a teardrop' and 'The 2 bucket system' - 2006 will feature well in them.

So, I will not begin to wish you HAPPY NEW YEAR but to bid you a BLESSED BEGINNING to all that you aspire to do; hope to love; dare to dream and most of all care to contribute.

2005 - goodbye. Thanks for the lessons. And good riddance.

2006 - smile, strive to be happy, aim to be humble, plan to be successful

Elimination of software piracy. Is it possible?

Elimination of software piracy. Is it possible?

Piracy was born as soon as an original came to light. It is driven by greed, disrespect for creative intellectual property or simply not appreciating value. However, it is also driven by need to use and a need not to over pay. All these factors colluded to give piracy a foundation to prosper.

Many countries around the world, over the course of the last few years, have taken up the cause to protect Intellectual Property by attempting to stamp out piracy. Most, if not all, executed awareness tactics; scare scenarios; appeal to logic types of activities. Sad to say that even though many have proclaimed victory, the real market sentiment is that it is still rampant.

The world of IT is a world of accelerated pace without regards for the usual evolution or even revolution convention. It has witnessed the downfall of giants and the growth to supremacy from nothingness. It respects no rules.

So are we approaching a new world with an outdated approach? How far do we need to go to get closer to a solution?

Many businesses, especially the Small & Medium Enterprise, has told us over and over again that they want to embrace and make IT a big part of their business but do not want to own it. They do not have the economy of skill to have IT personnel. We have also told them again and again to focus on their core-competency and IT is not one of them. They listened. They followed. Now it is our turn.

With the advent and rapid progress of broadband and the ability to have seamless cross platform connectivity through the Internet, the idea of Application Services Provider needs to be re-visited. In the past, it is almost unthinkable to access information over the network to provide us response in an agreeable time. That has all changed with broadband and the Internet.

So why spend money buying thousands of copies of the same software; negotiate like crazy on price based on rights of usage that we all know will change; then bitch about not using all the functions because some personnel are task-based and some are knowledge-based; and live in fear that some unaware and over-zealous employee will re-use an authorized copy and commit the crime of PIRACY!

The solution is starring us in the face and we just swat it away like an irritating fly, when most times we ended up slapping ourselves, unfortunately on hindsight! And guess what? The problem remains! It grew to be a bigger problem because we fed it with a bigger base to grow from!

The new age model of operations should be based on what the customer wants. Don’t tell them what they cannot do but help them to do what they can. After all, they have told us that they do not want to buy IT (software and hardware) but they want to embrace and use IT! Start to listen to them and end with a solution that caters for use-not-own; piracy elimination (not just anti), and everyone can be happy doing what their do best – their own business.

An organization is focused on PROFIT. It means it has to accelerate REVENUE and yet decrease EXPENSE. The current model of buying and incurring CAPEX with no idea how efficient the usage of the software will be gives a feel of uncontrolled and unmanageable expense. The long promised utility model, implemented over an ASP model, will be able to deliver pay-per-use; transforming depreciating CAPEX to controllable OPEX. Pay more when you use more during end of quarter or year, and pay nothing if you do not. It wrestles the control back to the users. No more pre-unqualified decisions of who should have what functionality by categorizing a dynamic worker into a claustrophobic check-box of ‘knowledge’ or ‘task’ workers. Simply, there is no need for that question.

Now what can be done?

One big mountain of a hurdle to this proposal is that most software producers have much invested in the old way of monopolizing the world that they are uncomfortable to change (when ‘change’ is the only constant they preached when they ask you to upgrade or migrate; or when they ‘threatened’ you with security breaches.) the way they operate. It is technological possible now but challenging to their archaic and comfortable position. It fact, it is a threat to their existence if they persist on their current way.

Therefore, for the new world to prosper, a new world order must prevail. A new world order that respects the dynamism of businesses and of personnel; one that gives control to the users and not holding them at ransom,, one that says we are here to help and not just helping themselves to more riches.

With that, we will all be focus on the end-in-mind we started with, running our business!

My 1st week in Beijing and counting (circa June 2006)

My 1st week in Beijing and counting
Yesterday marked the first week I came to this ancient city where history was created, and continued to me created, and of what myths are based.

My life has been filled with comings and goings. Having lived in cities like Toronto, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and now Beijing, many people would assume that this new city will be another of my conquest, a piece of cake, easy. Well, as one progresses in age, and in the deepening of love, one asks if it takes age to teach one new things about matters of the heart? Does it take goings to make whatever that is coming more meaningful?

This time, I certainly did not come to Beijing the same way I arrived in the other cities. I come here with such heavy heart that it makes the sinking of the Titanic a child's play. My leaving of the one I love, the half of the one we have been for the last 8 years, is a feeling I do not wish to curse onto my worst enemies. My family which I am used to 'leaving' is also tough to leave. I did all that in the name of advancing a career and frankly, in need of a role in a company I love. Does one therefore have to come this far to understand the matters so close to one's heart?

So my first week ... thanks to a good friend who have been most helpful, my entry into the great wall surrounded fort is made easier. The processes that one goes through, the youthfulness of ideas does not make things more palatable. But as the Chinese say, whereever there is challenges, there is opportunity. Well, I will use this challenge to also make myself a better spouse and a better son and brother.

I found my apartment in record time - 2 days after 15 viewings. You can see it at to appreciate what I will be moving into in the next hour. My friend, whom I dedicate this piece to, has been most helpful. Yesterday, I went shopping for things, not without frustration. A friend's friend who did not admit he does not know Beijing well enough took me for a Y70 taxi ride and with nothing in hand to show. Then comes items displayed in one of the four Carrefour in Beijing were either unavailable or incomplete. Turining challenges into opportunity, we bought some stuff and began furnishing the rather empty apartment. Another helpful friend came to bring me to the best meal I had in Beijing for a week. The night ended with my friend's return from Sanya to console my soul and heart.

Today begins a new chapter where I now are going to be more alone in my new found loneliness, staying by myself. Just as I begin to decorate and fill up my apartment with new things, I hope that this city will fill me with the joy of learning new things, cherish the old ones, live the past and look forward to the future.

2 weeks and it feels like 2 months

2 weeks and it feels like 2 months
2 weeks ago at about now, I landed here to start my new chapter.

Little did I know that these 2 weeks is what the baby next to me in the plane has summarised in his behavior throughout the 6 hour journey - cry in vain, smile into space, laugh stupidly, look stressfully and blank!

Telling my boss yesterday that these 2 weeks felt like 2 months and her reply was that I am 4 times more productive! Do the math!

Thanks to the IP technology, I have been able to talk to my family and good friends as a nightly-rush home- connect computer-fire up messenger affair. Although the connection sometimes fail us or gets extremely noisy, we know in our hearts that our love for one another and our care comes through loud and clear.

China is different. Everything is on a pre-paid basis. One has to change one's mindset to cater for pre-paid electricity, pre-paid gas, the same way you may be used to pre-paid phones!

It is therefore a land of frustration, or a land of opportunity? It is possibly the only opportunity one has in a lifetime to turn back the clock, armed with the knowledge of how to get to the future when you somehow have landed in the past. However, the speed of this past getting back to the future is hurried by at least 100 folds of the normal cycle. So teach fast, earn the trust and may the future be with you.

The pain of separation from love ones does not this intensity lessen. It is tough. The electronic board at the entry of the 4th ring road countdown to the Olympics which reads 782 days or so is a clear reminder of the number of days I have to be away from my true loves. As the clock ticks away, I am confident that the eagerness to get home will as well, but I am also very sure the intensity to see my family will become more and more.

To pass judgement of whether I like Beijing at this juncture is premature and unfair. But unfair I will be. If I am a sponge, I would be glad to absorb all aound me. If I have a choice, this sponge would be happiest when the family he loves is here with him. So, the only conclusion is I don't hate it, I don't completely love it but to say I simply don't know it and have made a choice to discover it and it better be worth all our heartaches and pain!

A smelly escapade!

A smelly escapade!
What started off as a pleasant morning turned out to be an interesting escape to Bintan (not for the 'chicken'). First, my god-son threw up all over me after a night of fever. That begins a day of smelly adventure.

Upon arriving at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, I managed to walk around to clear my nostrils of the overnight cuddled milk stench when I chanced upon a couple - late 30s I suppose - shouting at one another.

Apparently, the wife caught the husband walking into the ferry terminal with another woman. What an ambush! And you think they are just simple minded housewives! He denied it verhemently saying that it was by chance a woman is walking beside him (ya, try again!). That is when the swearing started and it got to a descriptive stage of body parts and progressed onto the aroma of it all!

One has to at this stage be bemused by it all as nothing else can be done.

The lady - if she can be called that as she clearly demonstrated that she is definitely not one - proceeded to 'lelong' the husband as a gift to anyone who wants him. Her marketing prowess was put to (good) use, presenting his viagra-based anatomy in its whole 9 yards (or inches) for the world to get excited over!

All these and before the boarding time of the ferry at 8.30 am!

It certainly was an exciting start to my day - smelly nonetheless - and it is not just about my god-son's puke!

A heart missing a soul

A heart missing a soul
Many a times many people have many great ideas about doing many things to many people who does not have as many great ideas. However, many of these great ideas comes from great intent but without relevancy to why it should happen. Or it happens because it is a checklist, or someone asked them to or simply because many people are doing it. Many such ideas end up in the many graveyards of great ideas because no one knows how to derive benefit from it as it started without an end-in-mind that is right, resulting in activities without a cause. Or worse, for the wrong cause.

Take donating for example.

How many times did you donate because a tin was sholved into your face during some flag day or by kidney foundations or simply to ask for money. The intend of many of these school kids was to fulfill a EC (extra-curricular) requirements checklist. Many do not know what they are asking donation for. The donor most times just do it because they want to get the irritant (read the student) out of their face or because people are watching. Eventhough the end-in-mind is to collect money, the real question is did we do it with that intend to help?

Sitting with a dear friend at lunch today, we revisited the tsunami exercise last year where many people dump err donated their clothes etc to help the victims. My friend was saying that as she was sorting through the donations, she found soiled underwear, expired medicine, used diapers as well as skateboards, bikini, high heels, and even tennis racquets.

I think many figured that donating means giving away what you do NOT want (defined as dumping!) and those poor naked souls in Aceh can walk around in soiled underwear with the high heels on tow sipping expired cough syrup while chasing after neighbours in bikini riding into the sunset on the skateboards!

The act of giving must be from the heart. But more improtantly, it must bear a soul for what we are doing is not just for them, but most times more for us!

When GATES come crashing through the home of WINDOWS

When GATES come crashing through the home of WINDOWS
MS celebrates 30 years this year, WINDOWS its 20th and Bill his 50th! What a theatrical exit for a man and an icon!

For these past years, Bill has always been synonymous to MS. BIll co-created MS when he was 20, and was there all this while, albeit changing role from CEO to Chief Architect. Putting aside how many feels about this arrogant company, the man has probably done lots - good and bad - for the ICT industry and the world as a whole.

His recent comment on 'nothing good came out of being the richest man in the world' caught many by surprise but I think it was one of his most sincere remark yet. He has lost his privacy, scrutinised every step of the way and hounded to give more and s never enough.

Through the Gates Foundation, with his family, he has promised and contributed millions and billions for health causes and to bridge the digital divide.

However, how much of what he preached becomes reality and how much of that reality was executed in the spirit that produced it? Many said they don't care, as long as it delivers its benefits. Many are also shallow in the way they think.

Many has cursed the man, many has praised him. Many have never met who they are cursing nor praising. I have had the privilege of meeting and managing one of his visits.

Bill to me is an introvert. His image is the one that is extrovert. People around him are so afraid to upset him. Even to offer him a chair when he is obviously tired or a drink when he is vocally hoarse. Many thinks he is 'untouchable' from a godly perspective. I treated him as a respectable man and offered him a chair and a diet coke and survived to tell it.

Bill has an image that is bigger than the man. This is good for stock prices - sometimes - but not good for the man.

MS has been talking about infusing new blood for sometime. But until old blood gets flushed, new blood in this rather tightly networked and very rich company has no chance. It is a company that not only cherishes its past success but live in it.

So is this a PR stint? Is this really Bill leaving and have nothing to do with MS? Will Steve be next to go? Both are billionaires and are on the top 20 of the world's richest list.

So the jury should still be out.

Whatever it is, times will change for MS, with or without Bill. With the onslaught of Google and LINUX, MS may find that the easy success in the past will remain in the past.

You do not know what heaven is till you have been to hell

You do not know what heaven is till you have been to hell
Many a times, the grass always seemed greener on the other side of the septic tank! What one has is never treasured until you no longer have it. Cliche but true.

In my almost 22 years of career life, I have worked with many companies, mostly big but also some not so. When I leave from one company to another, it has always to fulfill a certain dream.

When one ages, it seems these dreams are fewer and further apart. Whether this is owing to the psyche that age brings, or simply a body function that has slowed down, or simply contended and god forbid complacent. These somehow blunts the dreams and sharpens the pain of experiences.

I have been very lucky in my endeavours. I have managed to make friends while I make business. It is these friends that in my days of need come to my support without any expectation, except to see me happy.

My experiences in all these companies have mostly been good but there has been a few slumps as well. I take these in good strides as lessons but nonetheless the anxiety of the failure still drives pain and hopelessness.

So, when you next have a reason to complain, look for a reason to celebrate. Remember, the reason to stay in a role is to learn, contribute and to have fun doing these. Also remember that you can use the same energy for bitching to find a solution that will make your hell a bit of a heaven that you may never know is there, unless you try to find it.

Confrontation as a way of life

Confrontation as a way of life
I went out to dinner with a good friend of mine last night and we spent a short moment pondering over what I am like, as a gift from her to me, so to speak.

The topic was that I hate confrontation.

As we begin to err.. confront the topic of confrontation, or the lack of it, it became apparent the world has somewhat evolved into a world that you are deemed engaged only if you confront.

Well, for a person who embraces things and then make it better, rather than confronts stuff and ends up with just arguments, it was indeed a rather interesting front to be facing.

So, is confronting something the only way? Embracing and helping people realize their position, right or wrong or right and wrong, could be more rewarding and yes, takes more time.

As we rush around from one confrontation to another, starting arguments after arguments, and attempting to solve one thing and starting another five, is it worth it?

And where are we rushing to? And to do what?

Isn't it all about making everybody happier and have a more enjoyable life?

As I begin to arrest the demon in me and embrace the value of confrontations, maybe the truth lies in the ability to draw the line. The line that divides what and who we confront and embrace.


Counter software piracy through pay-per-use utility model

Counter software piracy through pay-per-use utility model
Seen on TODAY newspaper on 060606

Four in ten computers in Singapore are running pirated software, according to a recent survey by industry watchdog, Business Software Alliance (BSA). And, this is so despite a tougher Copyright Act, awareness campaigns on Intellectual Property and adverse publicity for firms found guilty of using illegal software.

Even more startling is the forecast that it could take another four, possibly five years before we see illegal software use in Singapore move closer to three in ten computers.

The IT world is iconoclastic, one of accelerated change and often defying traditional business conventions. Is it possible then that piracy in this new world requires an equally new world solution? Are we trying to solve a new world challenge with an old world mindset?

Many businesses, especially small and medium sized firms, readily acknowledge the need to embrace IT but find the cost of owning it prohibitively expensive. Unwilling to consume capital on hundreds (sometimes thousands) of copies of the same software, some businesses enter into labyrinthine negotiations on software prices based on rights of usage, and on categorizing employees as task-based or knowledge-based workers.

Others do not even attempt to negotiate a cheaper way of running software legally. They simply resort to illegal copies.

The advent of broadband networks as well as developments in seamless cross platform connectivity via the Internet, create the right environment for a new world solution that will give business owners what they want --- software they can use but not own.

The long promised 'utility model' of delivering software implemented by Application Services Providers (ASP)needs to be revisited. While in the past, accessing information at glacial response times over networks made the ASP model unthinkable, today, the Internet and broadband networks make it viable.

The current model of buying software and incurring capital expenditure with no measure of how efficiently that software will be used, or of how that investment might be maximized, leaves businesses vulnerable to an uncontrolled and unmanageable expense.

Accessing software on a pay-per-use basis on the other hand, transforms a depreciating CAPEX (capital expense) item to a controllable OPEX (operating expense). In this model, businesses know exactly what they get for what they pay, not unlike telecommunications or utilities costs. Pay-per-use gives control back to business owners and if the customer is truly king, then surely that's where it belongs.

More importantly, the model answers a common business refrain to use and not have to own software. The simplicity of pay-per-use eliminates the need for tedious negotiations over rights of use. It enables businesses to stay focused on their core competence, leaving the task of managing IT resources to the experts.

Pay-per-use removes an oft cited reason businesses run the risk of using pirated software – the heavy upfront costs of purchasing original software.

The utility model of selling software is technologically feasible today but it presents a challenge to the decades old, sometimes monopolistic way software vendors have dealt with their customers. Perhaps the time is right to change the status quo.

If whistle-blowers in Singapore have 20,000 reasons to become BSA informants, software vendors who make up the BSA have at least 20 times 20,000 reasons to introduce software on a pay-per-use basis to the business community here.

Will another $700 billion buy confidence?

Will another $700 billion buy confidence?

Looking at the result of what greed has produced in the US, it is but one of the more dramatic turn of the passion for greed in the world. Living off borrowed resources and eroding trust and confidence in each other. We are all at fault. We are therefore all at risk.

The world has seen many a downturn with the false hope that 'it will not happen to me'. It may be called a human survival instinct to be hopeful but as adults, we bear the consequences. However, this result will become an 'heirloom' that we pass on to the next generation, worldwide.

The $700 billion bailout, rescue pack, whatever you may wish to call it in positioning it the right way and the right time, is nontheless a testament of nothing more than the result of selfishness and greed.

A friend asked on his Facebook -- Will another $700 billion be enough?

Well, you can excite the market - that is not even happening looking at an all RED report card today - for a while. The key end-in-mind here is that the capital of confidence has been eroded to dangerous level.

Whether in relationship of whatever kind, it is at the end of the day not the action of loving, not the action of investing, nor the action of killing, that matters. It is the end-in-mind of achieving CONFIDENCE.

When cheated by your spouse, what do you go on if not the confidence that he or she will not stray again? When bnakrupted by a financial meltdown, what do you rely on if not the confidence that it will rise again?
In going to school, it is not the learning that matters, it is gaining the confidence of having a good life, delivered by a good job.

Our confidence is tested daily. It gets boosted or eroded based on what happens around us, to us.

Without confidence in doing what you are doing, it might as well be lving a life of despair and undirected.

The Weight of Words

The weight of words
More and more I realised that people do not mean what they say nor say what they mean. Many just make passing remarks and comments without going through the grey matter we sometimes call brain. No appreciation, no regrets, no sense and most times is just a string of verbosity that rolls off the tongue. What therefore is the weight of words these days?

Not too long ago, the gap between words that are uttered and actions that are done is not that far apart. Today, many just make comments and empty promises just as they would chomp down a chocolate bar - without thinking. Many say things and never ever lift a finger to try to achieve what they have promised.

The oral diarhorea goes from asking how one is without meaning to know, and in response getting a return volley of sentences without meaning to answer. The question that comes to mind then is why ask and why answer. If words becomes a checklist of what seemingly is pleasantry, then we can definitely do without.

Meaning what we say anchors our values. Doing what we mean proves our sincere gesture to do whatever we say. All in all, it defines a person. It defines a person from the most basic of character to the fluency of expressing his or herself, and mean it.

Words, therefore, carries lots of weight. That weight increases to be an honour to listen to. That weight precedes the person. That weight defines a relationship of trust and of truth.

'Its only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away' - Bee Gees