Monday, December 31, 2012

Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) pays 6.30 sen dividend in 2012

Dividend and bonus for ASB in 2012 has been announced at 8.90 sen per unit. How about ASN?

All seem rosy for unit holders of this government-controlled Trust Fund this year, as ASN pays 6.30 sen for each unit as at 31st December 2012. Unit holders will be able to update their ASN accounts beginning 2 January 2013 at any ASNB offices or ASNB agents nationwide.

Historical dividend for the past 12 years is as follow:

2000    - 8.00
2001    - 5.00
2002    - 5.00
2003    - 5.30
2004    - 5.60
2005    - 5.50
2006    - 5.50
2007    - 6.25
2008    - 5.50
2009    - 5.20
2010    - 6.00
2011    - 6.05
2012  -  6.30

The dividend from 1991 onwards are not fixed (unlike ASB) and the actual return maybe higher or lower as reflected by its Net Assets Value (NAV). There are elements of capital appreciation or depreciation. Taking the NAV into account, the actual return for the past 5 years are:

Source: Laportan Interim ASNB bagi tempoh berakhir 20 Jun 2012

2007      -     28.03%
2008      -  (-34.04)%
2009      -    43.41%
2010      -    18.73%
2011      -      5.33%
2012     -    ?

Highest payout for the last 12 years!

Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of PNB has announced an income distribution of 6.30 sen per unit for Sekim Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) for the financial year ended 31 December 2012.

This is an increase of 0.25 sen per unit compared to the dividend paid out last year (2011: 6.05 sen per unit). In fact, this is the highest payout for the past 12 years since 2001 until 2012 (2001 to 2011 : around 5.00 sen per unit to 6.25 sen per unit).

The income distribution portion will involve a total payout of RM92.18 million compared to RM89.5 million paid in 2011.

The income distribution is calculated based on the units held on the last day of the ASN financial year ended 31 December 2012. The income distribution payment will be re-invested into additional units of ASN and will be automatically credited into the unit holders' accounts based on the net asset value of ASN as at 31 December 2012.

All transactions for ASN at the ASNB headquarters, ASNB offices and agents have been suspended beginning 26 December 2012 until 1 January 2013 to facilitate the calculation of income distribution.

Source: ASNB

Sunday, December 30, 2012

How do animals know where to migrate to?

What a traffic jam! Photo by National Geographic. Every year, Christmas Island's 50 million red crabs migrate to the sea to lay their eggs.

SOME BIRDS, FISH, TURTLES  and whales travel enormous distances when migrating to find food or to mate. The furthest may be the bar-tailed godwit, flying over 10,000km from New Zealand to Alaska. Starlings use a Sun compass, which means knowing the time so as to compensate for the Sun’s changing position.

By contrast, mallards can find north using the stars, an ability that is genetically programmed. Many other birds as well as salamanders, salmon and hamsters use the Earth’s magnetic field.

Loggerhead turtles can even sense the direction and strength of Earth’s magnetic field soon after hatching and later use this skill to navigate along their regular migration route.

Other animals use land features such as mountain ranges and rivers, and dolphins use the shape of the ocean floor. Wildebeest follow the scent of rain and salmon use smell to return to the very same stream where they were born.

Source: ScienceFocus, Photograph: NG/Allison Shaw

Biggest scientific breakthroughs in 2012

The end is near for 2012, so, let's look at the (presumably arguably) biggest scientific breakthroughs and other science-related achievements of 2012. Credit to io9 for all the fact-diggings with NASA and other sources.

All images can be traced back to I have appended the active link to the full write-up at the end of this article should you be interested to read further.

Here are my 10 favourites from the list of seventeen:

1) NASA's Curiosity rover lands on Mars

NASA's one-ton, 6-wheel-drive, nuclear-powered science laboratory — known as Curiosity — touched down on the surface of Mars in early August 2012, following an eight-month voyage across millions of miles of space. It is far and away the biggest and most scientifically capable rover ever sent to another planet.

The landing sequence, alone, which required lowering the rover to the surface of the planet from a hovering, rocket-powered sky crane, was the most technically impressive ever attempted, and played out beautifully.

2) Artificial DNA brings us closer to synthesizing entirely new Forms of Life (or will we ever?)

Synthetic biologists demonstrated that artificial nucleic acids known as "XNAs" can replicate and evolve just like DNA and RNA, and are even more resistant to degradation than the real thing. The implications of evolvable, artificial genetic information are vast, to put it lightly, and stand to affect everything from genetic research to the search for alien life, to the creation of an entirely synthetic, alternative life form.

3) Computers learn to recognize the content of Images for the first time

Few will doubt that the world's first AI will be born in a Google server farm.

This dream came closer to reality this year when Google's secretive X Lab produced evidence that it had developed a neural network that could actually recognize what it was seeing in pictures. It did this by examining millions of images on YouTube for a few days, then offering the researchers some composite images of what it had learned to recognize. Two of those images were unmistakably human and cat faces.

This is the first time computers have taught themselves to recognize the content of images, and is a major leap forward in the quest to find ourselves some artificially intelligent friends.

4)  The most comprehensive Face Transplant in history

There have been face transplants before, but this was the first full-face transplant — and it worked marvellously well.

The recipient had lost most of his face in a gun accident, and now has a full face that he was able to move within days of his surgery. This will lead to many more people gaining a new lease on life with a face that functions almost as well as the one they were born with, and possibly, better.

5) Researchers create a Mammal entirely from stem cells

For the first time in history, researchers at Kyoto University created a mouse by using eggs derived from stem cells alone. The achievement once again shows the remarkable possibilities presented by regenerative technologies like stem cells, while raising pressing ethical questions about the potential for human births in which parents might not be required.

The key question here is, is this ethically acceptable?

6) Electronic implant that dissolves inside your Body

The boundary that divides man from machine continues to dissolve — often in more literal ways than you might imagine.

Scientists in September announced a new class of implantable electronics that can carry out a designated task for anywhere from a few hours to several weeks before disappearing completely, resorbing into the body after serving its purpose.

The potential applications of this technology — dubbed "Transient Electronics" by its creator, bio-engineer John Rogers — are many, and run the gamut from vanishing biological implants to environmentally friendly phones.

7) Study to examine what happens to Women Denied Abortions

For the first time in history, a group of researchers did a longitudinal study of what happens to women who seek out abortions, but are denied them under restrictive legal frameworks. The UC San Francisco research team followed nearly 1,000 women from diverse backgrounds across the U.S. over several years, after they were unable to have their abortions.

What they discovered was that these women were more likely to slip below the poverty line, be unemployed, remain in abusive relationships with the fathers of their children, and feel stressed out from having too many responsibilities. Only a tiny percentage of them put their babies up for adoption, and most already had children before seeking an abortion. What this ongoing study demonstrates is that abortion is an economic issue for women, with dire consequences for those denied them.

I think the sample is way too small for the study to be representative. But it is just a start to begin with.

8) Spaceflight Goes Private

The future of space exploration belongs not to government agencies, but private companies, and California-based SpaceX is leading the way. This year, while NASA's various Space Shuttles were busy hanging up their space boots, SpaceX became the first private company in history to complete a commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station, the first of 12 contracted resupply missions in a $1.6-billion delivery deal with NASA.

9) World's most High-tech condom

At last, a rubber-meets-the-road moment for materials science. Using a nano-fabrication technique called electrospinning, a team of researchers created a female condom that is woven out of fibres that block sperm and also release a medicine that prevents HIV infections.

The material can also be designed to harmlessly evaporate in a matter of hours or days, depending on what the woman wants. Sure, the Mars Rover could change the future. But this simple technology could change women's lives all over the world right now.

10) There is more water than we thought in the Solar System

This was the year of water in our solar system. We already had strong evidence of plentiful water on the Moon, and this year we found it for Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa and Mercury — plus we got more detailed images of Saturn moon Titan's river systems, which probably flow with liquid methane and ethane.

Water on other planets isn't exactly like water on Earth — usually it's packed with hydrocarbons, or is extremely brackish. But now at least we have evidence that water isn't as usual as we thought out there. Future space colonists may be able to mine for water on other words, using refineries to purify it into something potable.

Source: io9

Saturday, December 29, 2012

List of smartphones with RM200 rebate for youths - Starting Jan 1, 2013

Recently I posted about the Government getting ready to implement the RM200 rebate to buy 3G enabled smartphone to youths aged 21 to 30 in January 2013. Recently the relevant agency came out with the initial list of 3G phones.

The list of smartphones that will be offered are as follows: (This is as at 26 Dec 2012 and the models list will be updated from time to time in the Service Provider's website) -

1)  Alcatel 993D
2)  Alcatel OneTouch Glory 2
3)  Alcatel OneTouch Inspire 2
4)  The Buzz Phone
5)  HTC Wildfire
6)  Huawei Ideos X3
7)  LG Optimus L3
8)  Ninetology Black Pearl II
9)  Ninetology Palette
10) Nokia 2730
11) Nokia 7230
12) Nokia Asha 305
13) Nokia Asha 308
14) Nokia Asha 311
15) Nokia C2-03
16) Nokia Lumia 610
17) Samsung Galaxy Chat
18) Samsung Galaxy Mini
19) Samsung Galaxy Pocket
20) Samsung Galaxy Y
21) Sony Xperia Tipo
22) ZTE Acqua
23) ZTE V790

UPDATE: Check the List of additional 28 smartphones announced by MCMC on Jan 11, 2013, including iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3.

Note: The brand, model and quantity offered may differ amongst different Service Providers.

Eligible youths can apply online

Youths aged 21 to 30 will be able to start applying for the RM200 rebate off selected 3G smartphones from celco nominated registered dealers. Applications for the Youth Communication Package (YCP) (or Pakej Komunikasi Belia (PKB)), under the National Broadband Initiative; can be made by registering online at starting from 1 January 2013.

The scheme is on a first-come-first served basis and will be for the first 1.5 million eligible youths who may claim their smartphones while stocks last.

Youths who qualify for the RM200 rebate will be able to purchase 'selected' 3G smartphones costing up to RM500 from selected dealers and agents appointed by service providers. With the rebate, they are expected to pay no more than RM300 to own a new 3G smartphone.

MCMC in refuting speculations that the RM500 price limit was low:
    “The idea is to spread the incentive across to those who do not yet use smartphones. We really want to help those who cannot afford to change phones to upgrade from their old 2G phones to a basic 3G smartphone. Those who can afford phones priced above RM500 are really not in the intended category or target market. Some of those phones can reach prices of over RM2,500 without contract. A RM200 rebate does not even make a dent but if the phone is priced at RM500, a RM200 rebate goes a long way.”

For more information visit

Sorry folks, there'll be no incentive for iPhone 5, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, or HTC One X. LOL

3,640 petrol stations set to implement minimum wage

70% of workers at petrol stations throughout the country are foreigners.

Don't you think it's about time the operators start implementing the self-service system? Afterall, having a lot of people manning the petrol stations doesn't really make your trip there a lot more convenient. At least not for me.

Higher benefit for 50,000 gas station workers

A total of 3,640 petrol stations throughout the country will implement the minimum wage order, which is to take effect this coming Jan 1.

Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) president Datuk Hashim Othman said with this, the current minimum monthly wage of RM600 to RM700 would be raised to RM900 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak.

However, he said, the implementation of the minimum wage would increase the petrol stations' operational costs by 30 per cent.

"The increase in costs not only involve the workers' salary, but also EPF, Socso and overtime payments," he told a press conference, here, today.

The government has fixed the minimum wage in the private sector at RM900 per month or RM4.33 per hour for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 or RM3.85 per hour for Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan.

Due to higher operational costs, PDAM is urging the government to review the commission rates received by petrol station operators to lessen their burden.

Hashim said the last review was made in 2008 with the commission rates set at 12.19 sen per litre for RON95 petrol and seven sen per litre for diesel.

Meanwhile, he urged all petrol stations to fully implement the self-service system from Jan 1 to reduce their operational costs.

"The directive on self-service exists as it was issued in 2006 but many operators are not following it," he said.

Hashim said with self-service, PDAM expected the number of hired foreign workers at the petrol stations to be reduced by 50 per cent.

To date, about 70 per cent of the 50,000 workers at petrol stations throughout the country are foreigners. - Bernama

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Malaysia in Melbourne app for iPhone soon

To many Malaysians, Australia is close to heart. And especially to Sabah as there is this Australian-connection dating back to pre-WW2 or prior to that. The story of the POWs during WW2 and missionaries that followed were well documented and until today many Australians still come back to Malaysia to visit and pay respect to their relatives who died fighting alongside their Malaysian counterparts.

Today we have many Malaysians staying and making a living Down Under.

Screenshot of the iPhone app from the builder's website.

App for iPhone/iPad

So, I read this article about a iPhone/iPad app for Malaysians coming to Australia and specifically for those in Melbourne. Since many of you might consider studying in that country, I thought I would share this with you. At the time this was posted, the app is not yet launched but I suppose it would be pretty soon.

Via Bernama:
Melbourne: A young Malaysian broadcast journalist has created an iPhone and iPad app to help newly-arrived Malaysian students make a smooth transition to life here.

The "Malaysia in Melbourne" app created by Juliet John, among others highlighted the services and events held at the Malaysian Consulate and information on affordable restaurants and shops that sell Malaysian groceries, including halal eateries and outlets. It would be launched next March for free.

John, who holds a Masters degree in Global Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of South Australia, is the head of public relations at MELVIA, an app and game development studio here.

She said many Malaysian students felt lost after arriving here, and hoped her iPhone and iPad app could help them to get adjusted well in Australia.

"Many don't get to experience the Australian way of life because they are young, shy and timid to venture out with Australian friends. They can become depressed because they miss their family and friends at home and find it hard to make friends here and to fit in," she told Bernama here.

John said while Muslim students might not know where to buy halal food and others might find it difficult to find student services and accommodation.

She hoped the "Malaysia in Melbourne" app would change all this where students would be able to source information for a happy and meaningful stay in Australia.

She said the app would also provide information on job opportunities and internships, as well as social networking opportunities and on health and welfare matters. - Bernama

MI: Recreate tornadoes to produce Electricity

Could this be billed as Mission Impossible? A man-made vortex that is 200 meters in diameter and goes up 10 kilometers into the air?

Not according to a retired engineer from ExxonMobil. The idea is to create a huge vortex of warm air to cause a change in pressure at the bottom in order to drive a turbine-generator. An idea derived from the tornado formation.

The concept of creating a vortex with Atmospheric Vortex Design. Illustration by vortexengine.

The unusual idea, but possible

Fossil fuel power plants generate ample waste heat that can be used to make more electricity. The idea is unusual, and for 35 years Louis Michaud, a retired engineer from ExxonMobil, has mulled over how to bring the concept into reality. Michaud just got some backing, and it’s coming from a prominent Silicon Valley technology investor. A foundation by Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, just awarded Michaud a $300,000 grant to show that his idea could work, said Michaud from his home in the Canadian province of Ontario.

“I think there is a huge potential here, and I don’t want to let it go,” Michaud said.

The money will allow Michaud to experiment with and document the creation of a mini vortex for electricity generation at the Lambton College in the city of Sarnia. The college, located in an oil drilling region, has the proper lab equipment for his project.

How it works: The vortex

The concept for creating a vortex, like a tornado, is based on the fact that air, when heated, will expand, become lighter and rise up. As the air rotates and goes up, the pressure at the bottom of the vortex becomes lower. As surrounding air enters at the bottom, and the difference in pressures then drives a turbine generator to produce electricity.

The diameter and height of the vortex make a difference in how much energy can be produced. A vortex that is 200 meters in diameter and goes up 10 kilometers into the air could have the production capacity of 200 MW, Michaud said. He envisions power plant owners to set up vortex-building equipment at existing facilities to make use of the waste heat and increase the overall electricity-production efficiency of the power plant.

Existing technology

There already are technologies that exist today to harness waste heat at power plants. A combined-cycle natural gas power plant takes the heat byproduct from burning natural gas and makes steam to run a turbine generator. Doing so increases the efficiency of a power plant from the 40 percent range (simple-cycle design) to just over 60 percent (combined-cycle design).

Michaud claims that his vortex station could make use of the waste heat a second time and boost the efficiency by another 20 percentage points.

For his prototype project, he plans to build a much smaller one that goes up 15 meters into the air and shows how it could turn a turbine. Michaud hopes to produce enough results to prove the technology concept by the end of the summer of 2013.

If he can demonstrate the idea’s feasibility, then he will eventually need some willing power plant owners to give him a chance for a field demonstration. To make this happen will be especially difficult because power plant owners aren’t known to take technology risks. For one thing, they have to abide by a host of regulations, including safety rules, and often under law they could get penalized for not maintaining a reliable supply of electricity. Trying out new equipment could throw their energy production out of whack.

Source: REW

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you maybe in the world.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

from: TheGreenMechanics @2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Kota Kinabalu in December 2012

Christmas is around the corner and I have captured some of the moments at mainly shopping malls. Happy Holiday and enjoy your year-end.

 City Mall

City Mall

 Suria Sabah


 Performance by local artists

The Queen and King at 1Borneo


Santa Claus and Rina

Merry Christmas 2012 and a very happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why not just send nuclear waste into outer space?

Robin Hewitt wrote  - back in 1985 - about question a lot of people ask: Why not just get rid of radioactive waste by shooting it into space?

Isn't that seeming an easy way out? Maybe.

Dumping waste in space would not be a popular move. Pix: Swindon Climate

Why can't nuclear waste be sent into outer space?

The world's nuclear reactors have generated tens of thousands of tonnes of high-level nuclear waste, and the current solution is to simply store the stuff. This is not without its dangers: an explosion at the Mayak nuclear waste facility near Kyshtym, Russia in 1957 remains the third worst nuclear disaster in history, after Chernobyl and Fukushima.

In the search for alternatives, the possibility of firing the waste out of the Solar System or into the Sun has been investigated many times, but the use of rockets raises the threat of an accidental release of the waste into the atmosphere if there was an explosion. Some studies have looked at the possibility of using high-powered lasers to blast capsules into space, but economic, reliability and safety issues – plus likely legal challenges – have so far ruled out this option.

Putting thing into perspective: We must  send waste from Lynas Plant in Gebeng, Pahang out of Malaysia; although not into outer space!

Source: ScienceFocus

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Result: Final leg, Thailand vs Singapore

The grand final of the AFF SUZUKI CUP 2012 is here, and everything will be decided tonight.

Match    : Thailand vs Singapore (Second leg, Final)
Date       : 22nd December 2012, Saturday
Kick off : 8.00pm local time
Venue    : Supachasalai Stadium, Bangkok Thailand


First leg result: Singapore lead Thailand by 3 - 1

Thailand players will have to overcome a 2-goal deficit in front of their own crowd. Only a 2 - 0 result will be able to prevent Singapore from lifting this year's edition of the ASEAN cup. But Singapore is more than capable of preserving their lead and is very good at counter attack.

If they score the first goal, it will give Thailand a mountain to claim, but like many say, the ball is round and it can go either side in the end.

First half result:
Thailand ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Singapore

Full time result:
Thailand ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Singapore

Kirati Kaewsombut's goal on 45th minutes that won Thailand the fixture was not enough to overhaul Singapore's first leg advantage. Singapore won on 3 - 2 aggregate.

Singapore won the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, and this is their 4th triumphs in the competition. CONGRATULATIONS SINGAPORE!

Dividend and Bonus: ASB pays 8.9 sen per unit in 2012

It certainly pays to invest in Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) scheme. With special privilege given to ASB unit holders, PNB gives out unbelievably high return of investment year in year out. The scheme is created specifically for Bumis.

ASB's historical dividend + bonus payout:

2007 - 8.00 + 1.00 = 9.00
2008 - 7.00 + 1.75 = 8.75
2009 - 7.30 + 1.25 = 8.55
2010 - 7.50 + 1.25 = 8.75
2011 - 7.65 + 1.15 = 8.80
2012 - 7.75 + 1.15 = 8.90

ASB dividen 2012
PNB chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (left) and PNB president and CEO Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman showing the dividend and bonus rates. Photo and info by New Straits Times.


KUALA LUMPUR: Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), has announced an income distribution of 7.75 sen per unit and a bonus of 1.15 sen per unit for the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) scheme this year.

The 7.75 sen dividend is its highest since 2008 and is 0.1 sen more than last year's 7.65 sen.

The income distribution will involve a total payout of RM8.13 billion, 17.5 per cent higher than the RM6.92 billion paid out last year. The bonus payout is RM712.2 million compared with RM600.4 million last year.

PNB chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid said the payment would benefit 7.82 million unit holders, who hold 110.2 billion units.

"Considering the market conditions, which have not been up to expectations, PNB did a fairly good job," he said yesterday.

PNB president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said the country's biggest fund manager expected next year to be challenging.

Up to Dec 19, ASB recorded a gross income of RM8.54 billion. Income from companies contributed RM4.80 billion, or 56.21 per cent of the gross income. Profit from the sale of shares contributed RM2.68 billion, or 31.38 per cent, and the balance of RM1.06 billion was derived from other incomes.

The dividend and bonus will be credited into unit holders' accounts and they will be able to update their books from Jan 2.


Solar Powered water supply system for local village in Sabah

A very humble installation but definitely beneficial to those at one of the remote villages in Sabah. With no electricity and lack  of other basic infrastructure, Rotary Club of Tawau Tanjung did what was necessary for the less fortunate society.

This was done sometime back in 2007 but it is good to refresh to remind us of the good deed by the Rotarians and  about putting solar power to good use.

Where       : Kg Serudong Laut, Sabah
Population : 302 villagers
Access     : by boat via Serudong River

Children enjoying cleaner water

The Clean Water System

The water supply system is powered by solar PV, costing about RM12,000 at that time. Pump used was from Grundfos.

The Clean Water System runs from the spring, where the water is directed to a 900 gallons reservoir tank.  The Solar Panels is installed next to this Tank to power the submersible pump. The pump pushes the water to two 400 gallons tanks located on a platform about 30 meters higher and 200 meters away. Water from there is then piped to a 400 gallons tank located near the primary school at the centre of the village; another pipe is led to the jetty, where villagers living on the other side of the river collects clean water at the jetty.

Villagers initially draws water from this tank. The initial system consists of one Grundfos Solar pump system, one 900 gallon and three 400 gallons tanks, 900 meters of one inch diameter HDPE pipes and necessary fittings.

Installing the source of power.

The result?

Grateful villagers and contented volunteers. School children can now  have their daily teeth brushing session and enjoy the convenience of having their daily showerl. The Village headman commented that for the first time ever they now have the luxury of taking a bath with clean water.

We should be thankful for all these kind-hearted members of the public among us.

Note: This is not my story and I am not involved in the community project. It was one of the Rotary Club's CSR that deserved mention.

Read further here.

They did it! Brazilian phones sold using 'iPhone' name

Moral of the story: It is troublesome, but if you take the trouble, you can defeat a giant.

Yes, that's true. After winning the legal right to use the name (obviously iPhone), a Brazilian company, Gradiente SA begun selling its own Android 'iPhone'. The bad news is that it runs on a relatively old version 2.3 Android. It sells for $300 (RM900) which is not too bad for a 3.7-inch phone powered by dual-chip processor, equipped  with Bluetooth, 3G, WiFi and camera.

Appearance similar to that of Apple's iPhone?

Brazil company sells cell phones with iPhone brand
via Yahoo-Finance news
Sao Paulo -- It's not your Apple's iPhone.

A Brazilian company has begun selling smartphones with the iPhone brand after winning the legal right to use the name in Latin America's biggest country. Adding insult to Apple Inc.'s injury, the phone runs on the archrival Android operating system.

Gradiente SA says in a statement that in 2008 the government gave it the right to use the brand on its cellphones.

Brazilian trademark office spokeswoman Maratan Marques says Gradiente requested permission to use the brand before Apple did and can use it through 2018.

Brazil Apple spokeswoman Maria Parra Rodriguez says the company has no immediate comment.

Gradiente says on its website it started selling its Android 2.3 phone on Tuesday for 600 reals ($300). - AP


Thursday, December 20, 2012

SEDA release 20MW FiT quota for non-individual solar PV

An update on solar PV (and other FiT approved RE) in Malaysia.

After seeing the non-individual Solar PV quota being snapped within less than an hour at the launching in December last year, SEDA recently announced the opening of another 20MW of FiT quota.

This would be for installation size of less than 500kW and for scheduled commissioning in 2013. Application starts on Dec 17, 2012.

As of September 2012:-

Approved applications:                          Installed capacity:
Solar PV (individual)          - 362                156.65 MW
Solar PV (non-individual)   - 133                9.86 MW
Biogas                             - 13                 20.53 MW
Small hydro                     -  14                 86.05 MW
Biomass                          - 13                 131.40 MW


The over 400MW of renewable energy is a good start but I am quite sceptical about the authority's ability complete and commission them within the stipulated time frame.


via The Star
PUTRAJAYA: Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (Seda Malaysia) is opening 20MW of non-individual solar photovoltaic (PV) feed-in tariff (FiT) quotas for installation (less than 500kW) and will be made available for projects to be commissioned next year.

Seda Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn said the application could be made through the e-fit online System at beginning Dec 17 this year. He said applicants must comply with the Renewable Energy Act 2011 and also the Renewable Energy (feed-in approval and FiT rate) Rules 2011.

”The new degression rate for solar PV is set at between 8% and 15%. The rate will be finalised and approved by the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, which will be enforced next year,” he said at a press conference after the opening ceremony of the International Sustainable Energy Summit 2012.

Fong said the quota for installation larger than 500kW would be announced next year.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Loo Took Gee represented Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui at the opening of the two-day event, themed “Empowering Nations via Sustainable Energy”.

With the implementation of the FiT mechanism on Dec 1 last year, Fong said Seda Malaysia would continuously strive to provide awareness to the public on any updates pertaining to the FiT mechanism implementation.

As of end-September this year, he said Seda Malaysia had received a total of 1,090 feed-in approval applications and approved a total of 535 applications. He said the approved applications from solar PV for the individuals ranked the highest with 362 applications, followed by solar PV for non-individuals (133).

”The number of approved applications for biogas is 13, small hydro 14 and biomass 13. In terms of installed capacity, a total of 404.49MW has been approved, of which 156.65MW is for solar PV for the non-individuals, 131.4MW for biomass, 86.05MW for small hydro, 20.53MW for biogas and 9.86MW for solar PV for the individuals.

”From all these, some 1,684 GWhr per year of energy will be generated enough to power 467,000 homes and avoid 1.16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.


SpamSoldier: The new Android botnet discovered across major carriers

If you are fan of Angry Bird, then this may be of concern to you. A spam specifically targeting Android smartphones is said to be sending messages or adverts about popular paid games like Angry Bird Space, offering the free versions.

No indication yet if it has reach our shore, but already detected on all major US carriers. So, Samsung, HTC, Sony smartphone users, Be Warned.

Nyum, nyum, nyum!

Check out this security alert by Lookout: SpamSoldier

A new Android spam botnet has been discovered that uses infected phones to send thousands of SMS messages without the user’s permission. While the threat is not (yet) widespread, it has already been spotted on all major US carriers and has the potential to make a big impact at the network level if it isn’t dealt with soon.

On December 3, security firm Lookout detected the threat, which it dubbed SpamSoldier, in cooperation with one of its unnamed carrier partners. It spreads through SMS messages (it has not yet been detected on any major app stores) that advertise free versions of popular paid games like Angry Birds Space.

How it works

After the user taps on a link from one of these SMS messages, their phone downloads an app that claims to install the game. Instead, SpamSoldier opens and removes its icon from the launcher to cover its tracks. It then immediately starts sending spam messages.

SpamSoldier also attempts to keep the user in the dark by hiding evidence of its malicious activity. It also installs a free version of the game in question to keep users unaware of what is really happening. Furthermore, outgoing spam messages are removed from the list and the malware even attempts to intercept incoming SMS replies to the spam it sends.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1st Leg Final Result: Singapore vs Thailand

This is the first leg of a two-legged Final of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 between Singapore and Thailand, played at Jalan Besar Stadium Singapore.

Suzuki Cup

The game kicked-off at 8.00pm Singapore time and this article will be updated at half-time and as soon as the final whistle is blown by referee, Masaaki Toma.

Singapore lead Thailand by 1 - 0 at halftime through 10th minute penalty by Fahrudin Mustafic

Half-time result:

Singapore ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Thailand

Latest from Jalan Besar Stadium is that Singapore is leading Thailand by 2 - 1 thanks to a goal by Khairul Amri on 61st minute, just 2 minutes after Adul Lahso put Thailand level. Baihakki Khaizan put Singapore in a more comfortable position by scoring Singapore's third goal on 90th minute.

Full-time result:

Singapore ( 3 ) - ( 1 ) Thailand

A healthy scoreline for Singapore. I think any team will take a 3 - 1 scoreline any day. They still have  work to do though, in Bangkok in two day's time. CONGRATULATIONS SINGAPORE!

Hooray, I'm a millionaire!

No, thanks. I'll pass this to the next recipient-in-list.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

US Senate panel condemns CIA interrogation method?

I have no idea what to comment. I thought this happens only in Hollywood movies:

The US Senate intelligence committee approved the findings of an investigation into CIA "enhanced interrogation" -- techniques the panel's leader decried as "terrible mistakes."

The committee voted nine to six to approve the 6,000-page report on the former use of the tactics, which have been deemed torture by President Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain among others.

Infographic by AFP, via Daily Express

Interrogation techniques include (as illustrated in the above infographic):

1) The attention grasp     - detainee grabbed by collar and draw to interrogator
2) Facial hold                 - interrogator's palm on either side of detainee's  face to hold head immobile.
3) Walling                      - slam against a false flexible wall
4) Facial slap                 - to induce shock, surprise and humiliation
5) Wall standing             - prevent detainee from moving or reposition
6) Stress position           - such as sitting with legs straight out and kneeling position
7) Water-boarding           - cloth covers nose and mouth as water poured over it
8) Cramped confinement - confinement in a small sitting only, or standing only, and with insect.

"The cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country's conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence," - John McCain

Source: AFP

This is my first knowledge about how they interrogate suspected terrorists.

Broadband penetration in Sabah is now 47%, or is it?

As far as broadband penetration is concern, it seems that we are not too far off from other states in Malaysia.

Penetration rate of 47% is not too bad compared with the 34% figure given by Sabah Minister of Resource Development & Information Technology, Dr. Yee not too long ago. At national level, broadband penetration rate for households in Malaysia is 62.9% (as of Q1, 2012) compared to 62.3% in 2011. Malaysia has about 6.69 million households.

Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi said:

"The broadband access rate in Sabah is close to 47% currently and not 34% as was reported previously. The new access rate was determined through a recount as the majority of the people enjoying the facility are not transients in Sabah."

For the record, previously in July, and as recent as early this month, broadband penetration rate in Sabah is reported to be just 34%.

That is what we believed until someone from Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) popped up and surprised us all (or should we be surprised at all?) with the above statement. Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi is the MCMC Chairman.

Let me summarise - from from my understanding - on what he revealed to the press:

1)  We made mistake when calculating Sabah's
     broadband penetration rate,
2)  We recounted and the new figure is 47%
3)  The lower figure earlier published is because of 
     inclusion of illegal population in Sabah, in the 
     calculation formula.

Isn't that startling? The low penetration rate is one thing but even more worrying is the statement issued by MCMC:
    The household broadband penetration in Sabah has stretched to 34 per cent, but if the number of illegal immigrants is set aside, the rate can reach 47 per cent. - Daily Express, Dec 7, 2012

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

To MCMC, I say DON'T GIVE EXCUSES! You stated that 37% of the population of over 2.52 million was illegal immigrants. Illegal or not, they are still party to the statistics. Therefore, they should be counted for the purpose of calculation of rate of penetration.

Don't exclude them just to paint a good look on your performance, and then count them in (include) again when it gives you advantage. That's a terrible way of addressing the poor broadband services here. And the transient population!

But if you can exclude them permanently by solving the illegal immigrant problem in the state, by all means, go ahead!

As far as I am concerned, the penetration rate is still at a poor 34%. Period.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cheer up sad stork, it's Monday!

This is Monday morning and it's barely 2 weeks to the new year.

Was it a great one so far today? Or, a gloomy one like storky?

Milky stork @National Zoo, Kuala Lumpur

Cheer up, mate. You are not alone, you've got company.
Take a walk and mingle around!

Check it out here if Mr. Lonely Stork can find a friend.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wikipedia sees future and threat in mobile phones

Wikipedia is definitely useful. I use and access it from my smartphone.

But to penetrate the poor nations, and to use it as educational tool, it must also provide for 'text only' alternative so that places with low broadband penetration can also benefit from it.

The Wikipedia website accessed on an iPhone. Photograph: de engineur

Wikipedia sees future - and threat - in cell phones
AFP, Dec 13
Cell phones could be Wikipedia's path to global domination, but may also pose a risk to the crowd sourcing culture the online encyclopedia relies on, chief executive Sue Gardner says.

On one hand, says Gardner, who is also executive director of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, cell phones are by far the best way to reach vast new audiences in the developing southern hemisphere where people rely heavily on handheld devices, rather than desktops or laptops.

Right now, "Wikipedia is most popular and most effective in richer countries, because they have fast band, good Internet penetration and people own lots of devices," she told AFP in New York. "In developing countries, people are going straight to the Internet only with mobile phones."

To make Wikipedia take root in Latin America and Arabic-speaking countries, for example, the huge organization wants cell phone companies to offer access without charge.

"Data charges are a big barrier to Internet use in poor countries," Gardner said, adding that a streamlined, text version of the encyclopedia will be built to reduce those phone charges and speed downloads.

Ironically, though, the rise of the smart phone and incremental retreat of larger computers could threaten the lifeblood of Wikipedia, which is the crowd-based, volunteer collaboration between readers in creating content.

People may constantly demand more information at their fingertips, but the question ultimately may be: who takes the time to provide it if they're glued to their smart phone?

Friday, December 14, 2012

FRIM ready to produce biodiesel in larger scale

Let's not stop researching for biodiesel alternative. Just like what FRIM is doing:

Back in Oct 2011, Chairperson of the Malaysian Forestry Research and Development Board, YB Hajah Nancy Shukri poured the biodiesel into a bus. Photo credit: FRIM portal. One year on (Dec 2012), they say they are ready to produce it in larger scale.


The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) has been successful in growing 6,000 Jarak Pagar (Jatropa Curcas) trees, and now, it is ready to plant these trees on a large scale. The pilot project to grow these trees began in 2009.

These trees are also known as the Barbados Nut trees, the Purging Nut trees and the Black Vonit Nut trees. FRIM is planning to acquire a large piece of land from the Terengganu state government for the upcoming project.


Rosdi Koter, a research officer at FRIM, said Terengganu has close to 71,000 hectares of unused coastal land. He said the land is able to withstand extreme heat, and 99% of the soil is fused with silica. It is suitable for the cultivation of Jarak Pagar trees and Bintangor trees, which are capable of producing biodiesel.

Through this project, raw materials will be gathered for the production of biodiesel, which will ultimately increase the income of the locals.

"These trees can be easily planted, and the saplings do not face any threat from pests and animals like wild boars.

"FRIM is willing to provide its expertise for the success of the project," he said.


FRIM stated that although Malaysia has the potential to become the world's largest biodiesel producer and the world's largest oil palm producer, many NGOs have criticised the idea of generating bio fuel from food sources like sugarcane and corn.

Hence, FRIM started research and development programmes in 2008 to find alternatives to palm oil with regard to the production of biodiesel from non-food sources.

The transfer of multi-feedstock technology in producing biodiesel had been carried out by FRIM and Xtract Tech Sdn Bhd, an entity under the postgraduate entrepreneurial training programme (FMBiosis), supported by the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).

This resulted in the establishment of a FRIM pioneer plant in December 2010, which has the capability of producing 20,000 litres of biodiesel every month.

B20, a multi-feedstock compound, has been used by FRIM's vehicles, and it has enhanced the performance of engines in these vehicles. FRIM has also used B5, another biodiesel compound, in diesel-powered vehicles. FRIM requires 120,000 litres of the compound every year.

Source: Bernama

Available now: iPhone 5 price in Malaysia - RM2,199

iPhone users looking to upgrade their handset in Malaysia can now do so with the announcement of its availability here today. I saw it in my mailbox and I thought I should share it with other readers.

The official pricing is out and it starts at RM2,199 for the 16GB variant.

The price start at exactly as I have predicted in my iPhone 5 pricing Malaysia article. The following is the official prices from Apple-store Malaysia:

    Variant       Price
    16GB   -    RM2,199
    32GB   -    RM2,499
    64GB   -    RM2,799

Just in case Apple decided to take down their pricing page in the future, here is the snapshot of the colour choices and prices:

You may also be interested to read:

1) iPhone 5 pricing in Malaysia - earlier prediction/extrapolation
2) New iPhone 5 is here. Should you upgrade from 4S? - comparing it with Samsung's

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2nd Leg result: Thailand vs Malaysia

Both team were tied at 1 -1 during the first leg clash in Bukit Jalil Stadium. They are fighting it out to earn a place in the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 against Singapore.

The game kicked-off at 8.00pm Malaysia time and this article will be updated at half-time and as soon as the final whistle is blown by the referee.

A goalless draw would be good enough for Thailand to advance into their 6th final in nine editions of the Asean Football Championship, but I believe they will be going for a win.

Half-time result:

Thailand ( 0 ) - ( 0 ) Malaysia

The first 45 minutes ends with a deadlock and Malaysia will have a mountain to climb in the second half due to the dismissal of Mohamed Fadhli Mohd Shas for a second yellow card. Although the second yellow was debatable but he should have been more careful as he was already in the referee's book. He has only himself to blame.

Full-time result:

Thailand ( 2 ) - ( 0 ) Malaysia

I personally think the two goals were due to lapses in the defense. Thailand will be in the final with Singapore who earlier qualified after beating Philippines 1 - 0,

Congratulations Thailand!

GravityLight: lighting for the electricity-deprived places

No matter where you are, you should not be deprived of energy, or in this context, light.

People come up with a number of ideas on how to produce light when you are at the most remote of an area. Or, if you are residing in a developing nation with minimum coverage of electricity. Meet GravityLight.

Weight and light!

What is GravityLight?

As the name suggest, the light bulb is powered by a small rotating generator turned by the descending weight.

It only takes a few seconds to lift the weight, which creates enough energy for half an an hour of light, whenever it is needed. It has no batteries to run out, replace or dispose of. It is completely clean and green.

Because there are no running costs after the initial low cost purchase, it has the potential to lift people out of poverty, allowing them to use the money they have saved to buy more powerful solar lighting systems in the future.

I believe it took the inspiration of energy stored in water, such as in hydro-electric power generator. In the case of GravityLight, a tiny 'turbine' is turned by the weight and the LED bulb is the sole load of this generator.

Bright enough when you need it most

You can place it anywhere. Hang it in the shed or make it into a great porch light, you can clip on a hanging basket or anything weighing about 20lbs.

The GravityLight components: No operating cost, apart from a tiny bit of energy to lift the bag.

How much?

Less than $5 (RM15) if mass produced. The inventors are looking for sponsors so that this light can be distributed free to places in Africa and India. If you want to find out more visit indigogo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Telekom to reward RM1,000 for cable theft report

Here is the deal: You report a cable theft and if the suspected culprit is convicted, you get the money.

Are you in? Very well.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     * 

Report Cable Theft and Get RM1,000: Telekom Malaysia

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) is offering RM1,000 to the public to report any case of cable theft in order to curb such activity that had caused the company to incur huge losses.

TM Kuala Lumpur general manager R Manivannan said the offer is open to all including the police, individuals and groups who can nab the suspect involved until the case is proven guilty in court.

“Until October this year, in Kuala Lumpur alone, TM suffered losses up to RM891,110 involving 63 cases of cable theft,” he told the media after the launch of Cable Theft Prevention campaign conducted in collaboration with the Kuala Lumpur police.

Manivannan said last year there were 30 cases recorded causing the company to suffer losses up to about RM471,928.

He said TM had previously used I-Watch alarm system that would detect any cable theft activities, but it was less successful.

Meanwhile City police media centre head ACP Rasdi Ramli said today’s programme would provide briefings, lectures and detailed descriptions to participants, including policemen on types of cable, how the cable theft was done and how to determine whether the contractors were appointed by TM.

A case in point, in TM Melaka branch succeeded in reducing cable theft cases by 42% this year involving losses of about RM360,000. There were 96 cases of cable theft reported between January and September 2012, compared to 165 cases during the corresponding period of last year. - Bernama

Chicago skyscarpers go green & cut energy costs

A lot of tourists say that Chicago is one of cities with the most beautiful architecture and it is easy to see why. Chicago has a magnificent skyline.

But there is more to it; the skyscrapers in Chicago are going green. They plan to cut energy use by 20% over the next 5 years, and inspire us all!

Chicago skyline
What a panorama. Photo credit: bestourism

Great move, Chicago!

Chicago's skyline is going green, as property managers install energy efficient tools like motion-detectors on office lights, in a project officials hope will inspire changes across the United States.

At the riverside Sheraton hotel, chief engineer Ryan Egan cannot get over what his new thermostats can do -- or the $136,000 a year in savings they are producing.

The thermostats:
  • Are tied into the booking management system, which means he can let the room temperature drift beyond standard comfort levels until the moment a guest checks in.
  • Once the guest leaves the room, the temperature starts to drift again, giving the heating or cooling system a break until it's needed again. 
  • The thermostat is programmed to only allow the room to warm up or cool down to the point where it can get back to the pre-set temperature within 12 minutes of the guest's return.

"The brains behind how much it can drift is really interesting," Egan said. "If you're on the shady side (in the summer) it'll drift more because it knows it can recover faster."

The Sheraton is one of 14 major commercial buildings that signed onto the Retrofit Chicago challenge to cut energy use by 20 percent over the next five years, for savings estimated at more than $5 million a year.

If they succeed, it will be like taking 8,000 cars off the road.

"The fact that this is the city that built the first skyscraper, we love that we're trying to green the skyline," Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the city of Chicago, told AFP.

Some 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the Windy City come from the electricity and gas used to heat, cool and power homes, businesses, schools and other government buildings.

In addition to the greening in commercial buildings, the city plans to cut energy use by 20 percent in hundreds of municipal buildings, for an estimated monetary saving of $20 million a year and emissions savings equivalent to taking about 30,000 vehicles off the road.

Source: AFP

Result: Singapore vs Philippines

The game is currently on-going between Singapore Lions and the Philippines Azkals for a  second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal. Kicked-off at 8.00pm

Both teams settled for a 0-0 draw at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the opening leg of their Suzuki Cup semifinal. Neither team did enough to force a goal, and so who advances to the Finals will come down entirely to the ninety minutes, and perhaps extra-time and penalties. Cone on guys! Beautiful football please.

Half time result: 
Singapore (1) - Philippines (0)

The Azkals didn't particularly played bad, infact they had few good chances, but the Lions have the better share of possession and every time they move forward, they look dangerous.


Singapore ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Philippines

Khairul Amri's 19th minute goal sent Singapore to the Final to face the winners of the Thailand/Malaysia tie to be played tomorrow. Congratulations Singapore!

IPP Shutdown: SESB load shedding on the card

Load shedding in our daily conversation can equate to power outage. Power outage to certain consumers at the affected shedding area. AND that is just what's in store for you in the next few months, or maybe longer.

SESB is again faced with failure of one of its Independent Power Producers power generator. According to the press release (pic below) a 65MW gas turbine malfunctioned since Dec 5, and as a result the related 30MW steam turbine, too, is unable to operate. That is 95MW of margin taken out of the total capacity.

Your area could face power outage anytime soon, until further notice.

What this means is that SESB is currently in short supply of power. The state's maximum demand is about 830MW and SESB's total generating capacity is 950MW. With the IPP capacity of 95MW omitted, the utility company has only 855MW at its disposal, leaving no room for safety margin.

With this scenario, at peak hours, you could experience power failures as it is now 'waiting to happen' although SESB had activated the Demand Side Management (DSM). The DSM requires that large power users such as large factories, universities, big shopping malls, water treatment plants, etc will be asked to scale down on power usage (reduced business activity) or alternatively use their own back-up generator sets.

It is very unfair to ask business operators to run their own power generator as it costs a lot in operating expenses, when it is nothing of their fault.

IPPs have the social obligation to make sure power from their plants are supplied to SESB reliably. So is  SESB. The contract should provide for mechanism to strictly tie IPPs to this obligation. People understand that IPPs were asked to 'help' the power utility to supply power due to, probably, insufficient funding on the utility's part. But when equipment within the IPPs' jurisdiction fail too frequently, you start to question the adequacy of the contract:

Where is the safety margin?
Where is the scheduled maintenance program?
Why is the failure always related to emergency repairs?

But this will soon be over you say, because Kubota Power Plant (Tawau) and Kimanis Power Plant (Papar) will be completed very soon and this will take care of things.

I'll say you can have all the power plants in the world. If you don't take care of them with proper maintenance, believe me, we can still have as frequent power failure as we currently have.

Please, No blackout-Christmas

In the meantime, let's hope the festive season is not marred with a lot of power outages. "A lot" definitely does not equate to "better" in this context.

Iceland's electricity is derived 100% from Renewable Sources

Image credit: US Solar Institute