Friday, October 21, 2011

Lowest Household Income

Today is Friday and another weekend is right in front of us. Shopping spree, spending your hard earned money, yes? Then, perhaps a quick glance at our income is a good thing to do.

I saw this in the local daily not too long ago and tried to check it out with Department of Statistics, Malaysia. These particular figures are not made public, so I guess we'll have to make do with what Daily Express shared with us:

Monthly Gross Household Income 2009 lined
Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia (JPM)

First, a bit of jargon buster.
  1. Household income is a measure of the combined incomes of people sharing a particular household or place of residence. It includes every form of income - salaries and wages, retirement income, investment gains, biz income, etc.
  2. Mean and Median - the two terms used by statisticians to find an indicator of household income in certain geographic area. JPM uses mean or average.

In Malaysia, household income normally refers to the combined income of husband and wife as this is the most common finding when census is carried out.

You can see from the histogram that Sabahans are among the lowest income earners, with average of RM3,144 per household. This means that each member of the contributing person earns about RM1,570. If Labuan is removed from the equation, I am quite sure Sabah would fall further down.

Our friends in Putrajaya command higher income with average household bringing home double the amount of what we earn in Sabah.

To put things into perspective, median monthly household income for some of our neighbour countries (in 2009) are:
  1. Singapore : SG$4,850 (USD3,785)
  2. Philippines : P17,166 (USD395)
  3. Malaysia : RM4,025 (USD1,275)
  4. United States : USD4,148
[Sabah : RM3,144 (US$995)]

The United States are not really our neighbour geographically but economically they are considered by many as yardstick.

So, heading for the shopping malls this weekend?

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cheapest Computer

Super cheap but is it fit-for-purpose?

Students showing off the new Tablet - Aakash. Image from Voice of America.
If you recall, a week a or two ago, India introduced a super cheap computer, the Aakash for Rs.2250 (US$45/RM135). Well, a tablet computer to be exact. Over the years India has been well known for its initiatives in producing cheap and affordable stuffs. Not too long ago India's Tata stunned the automobile world with its US$2,000 car, Nano.

It is understood that the tablet can be had at $35 with subsidy from the government, specifically for students. A commercial version would cost around $70 to be made available later.

Enter Bangladesh.

It seem that India is not the only nation building cheap computers. Bangladesh this week introduced the Doel, Android-based laptop in Dhaka priced at 10,000 Taka (US$130/RM390), according to BBC.

Compared to Aakash, the price of Doel is a bit steep but for a $130, who can complain much about a fully functional laptop. I wouldn't. It is a very decent effort by creative individuals. For some, the ability to connect with the rest of the world and the convenience of being able to do away with papers is far more important than the built quality of the tool itself.

Think about people with low household income of $300 to $400 but with decent educational infrastructure available around them. The Aakash or Doel may just be what they need, not iPad2 or the latest HP dv6 series.

Alright, let's have a look at the brief highlight of the comparison between the two latest cheap gadget, see for yourself if the price gap is justified:

Doel-Aakash Specs

In two words - pleasantly cheap. Period. My only hope is that people don't sacrifice green with cheap. Please consider your e-wastes and the environment as you design your stuff, hopefully the smaller (and cheaper) the gadget the smaller the production waste will be.

The Doel is essentially a scaled-down laptop like Aspire One, Lenovo IdeaPad, Inspiron Mini but priced much lower. Come on Malaysian IT enthusiasts, bring on your homegrown RM399.00 laptop/tab now. Afterall, who invented the thumb drive? Phua Khein Seng. He's a Malaysian.

Call it Nuri, Bangau, Kenyalang, or even your name.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Energy Efficiency by SESB

Being the sole licensee for the supply of electricity in Sabah, SESB has initiated a drive to promote energy efficiency in the State. The Energy Efficiency Steering Committee (EESC) meeting is to be called this week at power company's head office in Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu.

The main focus is to accomplish noble objectives such as:
  1. To identify challenges and solutions to the promotion of Energy Efficiency or energy saving initiatives amongst consumers in Sabah,
  2. To build a strong and effective collaboration of ideals, efforts and results amongst key industry players,
  3. To accelerate a culture of responsible consumerism and an effective energy demand management in Sabah.
There were few other initiatives by SESB in the past but let's hope this one - with the involvement of some ministries and key industry players - would bring about better results towards preserving energy via efficiency.

Stay efficient, save energy, save money!

Let's see if this'd come out in the local dailies tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Siri - Old tech., New makeover

Remember Lieutenant Commander Data in the fictional Star Trek? He is the talking robot, an android they called him but that was all in the imagination of the film makers. He is a very capable 'assistant' that surpass human in many aspects of life.

Later on in the IT era there is this 'lady' called LiNa who answers all your questions on job related matters at She doesn't talk to you much like Android (Commander Data) but she sends you e-mails every other day without fail.

Fast forward to 2011.

Meet Siri, your Personal Assistant who will practicably be there with you everywhere you go. Talking gadget or robot and android (pun intended), is a very old technology but in iPhone 4S you are presented with a whole new approach - and hopefully new experience - to getting virtual assistance from your smart phone.

For a formal introduction of how Siri will be of help to you, watch this clip:

Can't play it here, go to the video link.

If you grow tired of formality and would like to have a laugh or two, check this one out. Perhaps you can also ask her if she'd like to go to a movie with you.

Assistant or nuisance?

I wonder if it would work across the board. Given that in Asia you will come across a wide variety of accents such as Singapore, India, Malaysia , the Philippines where English is widely spoken, I think Siri would struggle in my hands. Someone, some Apps developers need to come up with some decent Apps to help Siri understand the locals.

In any case, the phone will be available in a couple of days time in the US and few other countries while 22 more will follow shortly. Singapore, our nearest neighbour is getting them at the end of the month so Maxis should have them for Malaysians not too far away.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Which Country is the Greenest?

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies.

The 2010 EPI ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators covering environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.

So, firstly there must be an established goals, then there will be a measurement or audit to see how close a government is to these goals. The following is the ranking of countries in the Asia Pacific, according to study by Yale University (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy):

Asia Pacific

You maybe wondering how the scores are harmonised to facilitate cross-country comparison when different countries may have different policies. This is done through EPI's proximity-to-target methodology.

Let's take a look at countries nearer to us and see how well we fared.

ASEAN nation EPI Score 2010
Singapore tops the ASEAN ranking

ASEAN countries are doing fairly well when compared to many other countries in Asia Pacific region with Singapore scoring just behind New Zealand and Japan. Malaysia makes it to Top Ten in the list.

With the many green incentives, pledges and the countless on-going efforts towards greener environment by the current government, I believe Malaysia will leapfrog a couple of countries above it come next year's audit result. Judging from the works in place now, Malaysia should score at least 66 to 69 in EPI this year. My only wish is that the implementation of the FiT for four renewable energy sources is kicked of earlier by 4Q this year rather than 1Q 2012.

So, which country is the world's greenest?

The top spot for 2010 goes to Iceland due to its high scores on environmental public health whereby it gets virtually all of its power from renewable sources (hydropower and geothermal energy), and its water tight control of greenhouse gas emissions. Switzerland is ranked second followed by Costa Rica.

Passing of an enormous talent

I was contemplating posting my disappointment over the 4th October 2011 release of the not-so-impressive 5th generation iPhone 4S in Cupertino, California when I read first thing today on MarketWatch of the passing of Steve Jobs. Little did we know that the day the 5th iPhone was launched was the very day that this great man last breathed air.

Steve Jobs was the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, and the board of directors offered a statement acknowledging his passing on Wednesday:

“We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

“His greatest love was his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”

Image from MarketWatch

Goodbye, and rest in peace Steve. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for improving the quality of so many lives. You will be deeply missed.

Let's dedicate the S in the new iPhone 4S to Steve.