Sunday, April 28, 2013

Deadline to send BE forms via e-Filing extended to May 15

Illustration by
Attention, Tax Payers!

Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (Inland Revenune Board) said in a statement that the deadline to send the BE income tax return forms via e-filing is May 15, 2013.

That's good news as everyone has been preoccupied with the GE13 and probably many high income earners wouldn't be able to send their forms in by April 30.

Some dates to take note:
  • Those who prefer to fill up the forms manually, the deadline remains on Tuesday, April 30.
  • Last date to apply for PIN for e-Filing via e-mail is on April 30.

Deadline postponed to May 15, 2013
via Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The deadline to send the BE income tax return forms for income earned from non-business and to pay the tax balance via e-filing has been extended to May 15, the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) said yesterday.

IRB public relations officer Masrun Maslim the extension was to encourage more taxpayers to use the electronic system which was easier and faster.

“However, for taxpayers, who prefer to fill up the forms manually, the deadline remains on Tuesday. We encourage them to send the forms by post to make sure the IRB receives the forms on May 3, at the latest,” he told Bernama.

Masrun said the IRB had always encouraged taxpayers to fill up the forms via e-Filing as it could not only save cost but would also ensure the safety of the personal income tax data sent to the IRB.

“The e-filing method also helps to preserve the environment as we use less paper,” he said.

To date, the IRB has received about 1.5 million various income tax statements through e-Filing as compared to 1.4 million forms in the same period last year, he said. Masrun said the response for e-Filing has been very encouraging, accounting for 70 per cent of the total income tax returns received last year.

“Over-deducted income tax can also be processed quickly for taxpayers who have filed their tax returns via e-Filing,” he said.

“I’m sure the problem of sending in the forms late after the deadline has lapsed can be avoided as e-Filing is easier, accurate and safe,” he added.

According to the IRB website, the last date to apply for personal identification number (PIN) for e-Filing via e-mail to send in BE forms is on April 30.

TheGreenMechanics: Now, you cannot use the 13th General Election (polling day on May 5) as an excuse to not submit yours.

How 'Google Glass' works

Remember Google Glass? I wrote about Google giving away this wonder Glass sometime in February.

So far this piece of equipment have received not just praise but also opposition.

google glass
Google Glass: The probing cam and prism display is paired with sunglasses.

The info-graphic here describes how it works.

Courtesy -

Every development in the IT and technology advancement in general has a downside to it. It is inevitable, so, it is down to every individual to accept or go against it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celcom's 4G LTE services offer wider coverage

Towards the end of last year, Maxis announced that it will develop long-term evolution (LTE) or 4G sites in Sabah and Sarawak in 2013, beginning with key towns. A normal progression to its existing 4G LTE services in selected areas in West Malaysia.

Welcome on board, Celcom.

This week Celcom rolled out its 4G LTE network and started trial runs with customers. For now the network is only available via USB dongle for RM199 with three months free access, which can be purchased at Blue Cube stores in Sunway Pyramid, KL Pavilion and Menara Celcom.

Speed comparison between 3G and 4G LTE

Celcom is targeting to cover between two million and three million people this year. Currently the company's 4G LTE can be found at selected hotspots nationwide within the Klang Valley, Penang, Malacca, Kota Baru, Johor Baru, Ipoh, Alor Star, Langkawi, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Terengganu and Kuching.

Maxis current 4G LTE coverage is pretty limited to Klang Valley area and its surrounding. Celcom came in later but offer wider coverage - areas in Selangor, Federal Territories, Johor, Malacca, Penang and Perak.

TheGreenMechanics: The coverage is enough incentive to migrate to Celcom eventually. But for now, I'm happy with Maxis 3G.

Read more about Celcom's 4G LTE investment story at The Star

Thursday, April 25, 2013

German power: Barcelona and Real Madrid out of UEFA Champions League

Let's take a break from studying and admiring Germany's success in green power. They are, of course the best in Renewable Energy.... but beyond that:

This is really a light (and glorious) moment:

Yesterday, Bayern Munich beat Barcelona by 4 goals to nil.
More pictures and story at The Telegraph
Ouch.. L.O.L

Today, another German club, Dortmund thrashed another team from Spain, Real Madrid by 4 - 1.
"You-the-man" - Robert Lewandowski scored all 4 goals for Dortmund! Photo by NEWS
Ouch.. double L.O.L

Second legs were on May 1 and May 2, which saw Real Madrid beat Dortmund 2-0 but not enough as they were beaten on 4-3 aggregate.

Barcelona were well beaten with 0-3 scoreline at home and went out of the tournament with 7-0 aggregate in favour of Bayern Munich.

FINAL will be an all-German affair at Wembly between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The top 10 greenest organisations in the US

RenewableEnergyWorld asked: Who uses the most renewable energy?

It went on to answer that it depends on how you define it: Is it by kWh used, percent of use, on-site generation, long-term contracts, or all of the above.

For the United States, the rankings which is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, are listed based on annual green power usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh), as follows:

greenest companies in the US
Top 10 annual users of Renewable Energy.

What is "Green Power"

The EPA defines "green power" as renewable energy sources with the highest environmental benefits: solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, some biomass, and low-impact small hydro.

Large-scale hydro is not considered "green" as many of the large installations around the world have been responsible for large scale changes in all of the large rivers. In most cases ecology of the affected areas is totally changed for the worst.

For further reading, jump to

Green awareness levels drop in Beijing

During a week stay in Shanghai recently, China Daily came in handy for daily reading as the tabloid is in English. The following caught my attention:

  • After the Olympic Games in 2008, residents' awareness of environmental issues started to decline.

The paper reported that, a new survey shows that the level of environmental awareness among Beijing residents has fallen for the third consecutive year.

Local residents' environmental awareness measured in percentage:

  • 2012 - 71.6%
  • 2011 - 72.2%
  • 2010 - 74.2%
  • 2009 - 75.9%
  • 2008 - Beijing Olympic Games

I'm quite sure that the government would have carried out aggressive promotion of the environment issues - air quality, water, energy saving - but the study tells us that, in order to keep the momentum going, this has to be done consistently and continuously. The way of communicating this to the public must be dynamic and not static, and one that is appealing and attention-grabbing.

We should take note of Beijing's experience.

: :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :

Green awareness levels on the decline
China Daily. April 20, 2013

Despite the frequent environmental protection debates and scandals, especially over water and air quality, environmental awareness of Beijing residents - not only general knowledge of environment issues but participation in them - failed to grow last year, according to a survey by the education center under the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau released on Thursday.

Local residents' environmental awareness in 2012 was 71.6 points out of a possible 100,compared to 72.2 points in 2011, 74.2 points in 2010 and 75.9 points in 2009. Conducted in December 2012, the survey covered about 2,000 residents 16 and 60 years old who have lived in the city for at least two years.

"The environmental protection issue has been heatedly debated in recent years, but people's awareness has decreased since 2009," said Liu Jingqi, the survey's project director.

"One of the reasons for the peak of people's awareness in 2009 and decrease afterwards was Beijing's hosting the Olympic Games in 2008, when government promotion greatly spurred people's consciousness," Liu said.

Though people are attaching more importance to air and water quality among all environmental issues recently, poor execution and action have contributed to decreasing environmental-protection awareness.

"Many in the public practice energy conservation by saving water or electricity consumption, but the performance is not as good when it comes to disposable tableware, over packed products and other issues," said Liu.

In addition, despite the fact that PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 2.5micrometers, has been hotly debated in recent years, the number of people knowing this term is relatively small among Beijing's 20 million residents.

Only 24.2% of those interviewed said they had heard of the term PM2.5, and half of those who had heard of it did not know the term is related to air pollution, according to the survey results.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 price in Malaysia

Samsung Galaxy S4 is set to be retailed at RM2,199 in Malaysia.

While there is no official announcement yet from Samsung Malaysia, it is obvious the official retail price for the Galaxy S4 is RM2,199 - phone set only, without data plan/ contract. One of the local telecommunications service providers - purposely or otherwise - revealed the RRP in its website.

According to DiGi store online, the S4 will be available in the local market at the end of this month, which is just few days away from now. If you subscribe to the telco's data plan, you can buy it for as low as RM1,199.

Galaxy S4
Setting your eyes on this new offering from Samsung?

We were in Shanghai last Sunday and the S4, 16GB variant was on display at Samsung Store for ¥5,199 (approx. RM2,599), which is a bit on the high side. We asked if there are another variants, such as 32GB, and the Sales Advisor replied in the negative.

That being the case, buying from local retailers seem to be the more sensible thing to do. RM 2,199 would be the same retail price as the S3.

Check it out here for Samsung Galaxy S4 specifications.

Manchester United are Champions - won 20th Premier League Title

Manchester United are champions yet again!

Manchester United won their 20th title on Monday night (early morning Malaysian time) after beating Aston Villa 3-0, thanks to a Robin van Persie hattrick.

United won 20th title
Earlier on Sunday, Manchester City lost to a spirited performance by Spurs, meaning United's 16 point advantage is now unassailable.

It was a joy to watch in anticipation.

The thing about United is that, every time they lose grip on the trophy to their rivals, they bounce back quickly in the next campaign.

United won 20th title
If you missed the match, this is Robin van Persie's wonder goal against Aston Villa, one that is worthy of a goal of the season.

A stunning strike by the Dutchman - even if you are not a United fan, this is one that is worth watching.

Click on the image to watch it in Hi-Definition.


India seeks to double Renewable Energy capacity from 25GW to 55GW

India's 12th 5-Year Plan seeks to do two things to promote Renewable Energy:-

1. Double the RE capacity from 25GW to 55GB by 2017
2. Setting up international R&D centre for solar energy (solar PV and solar thermal)

"It is proposed to double the renewable energy capacity in our country from 25,000 MW in 2012 to 55,000 MW by the year 2017. This would include exploiting non-conventional energy sources such as solar, wind power and energy from biomass."
- Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh

These initiatives were announced as part of the prime minister's presentation of India's 12th Five Year Plan.

Developed countries are the ones best poised to help meet the challenge of climate change, he said, adding that India has set a goal of cutting its energy use by 20 to 25% by 2020 by increasing its energy efficiency.

Another measure the prime minister called for is an international research and development center for solar energy. This National Institute of Solar Energy could be operational by 2015, he said. Research into solar thermal and solar photovoltaic would be part of this initiative.

The price of producing solar power was cut in half over the past two years, he said, going on to acknowledge that fossil-fired power generation, such as coal power, is still less expensive. The difference, he said could be made up for with subsidies.

About 87.5% of India's electricity is generated from non-renewable sources. Coal constitutes 57% of India's installed capacity.

Source: Renewable Energy World

TheGreenMechanics: That's inspiring and it is very much achievable when there is commitment and focus.

Top 10 websites currently blocked in China

I mentioned in my previous post, Hello Shanghai that, Blogger website (or blogspot) which is owned by Google is blocked in China.

There are a lot of other high ranking websites you might be interested in, that are/were blocked there, such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. I found the following sites while in China and tried to 'google' them or simply typed their domain in the address bar.

The search results varied from simply 'invalid URL', to 'server cannot be found', or the browser would just 'hang' with unusually long wait:

1. Facebook

The social website was blocked since 2008 to present.

2. Twitter

I'm not a user of Twitter but as evidenced in my test, this site is currently blocked.

3. Picasa

I occasionally use this site to store images for my blog. It has been blocked since 2009 to present. It is no wonder that many of the images in my blog wouldn't load in that country.

4. YouTube

You wouldn't be able to watch clips and video sharing via YouTube in China.

5. Blogger

Type blogspot or Blogger in the address bar and you know it's blocked. Or, try reading a friend's blog hosted by Blogger and you'll be disappointed.

6. WordPress

The famous blog platform is also not spared. it was blocked since 2011 and it still is, at least so in Shanghai.

7. Technorati

This was said to have been blocked since 2008. Tried accessing and result returned as "This page is not available".

8. Dropbox

Unable to access this site, and search confirmed that it had been blocked by the Chinese government.

9. Wikileaks and Wikipedia

Access to WikiLeaks had been blocked since 2010 and if you like to find information through Wikipedia, you are in for a tough luck, too.

10. Google+

Like many other Google websites, Google+ joined the growing list of blocked websites in 2011.

On why they are/ or were blocked in China, people have different opinion but I wouldn't speculate.

Hello Shanghai

I came to know that Blogger (blogspot) is one of the websites that are currently blocked in China.

So if you are on Wordpress or Blogger platform, you are unlikely to be able to share your story while visiting the land of the dragon.

We visited Shanghai amid news that H7N9 bird flu is spreading in China, and we were there when Sichuan was rocked by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale killing at least 160 people.

But other than that, it was a great trip.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower viewed from across Huangpu River, Shanghai.

I took this picture using the iPhone during hazy morning. Will share more pics taken with DSLR once they are ready.

It's good to be back blogging.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

World's fastest home internet service hits Japan

Ahem, just recently Maxis announced its 4G LTE services recently with a claimed download speed of up to 75Mbps (and you are lucky to get 1Mbps of 3G speed here), consumers in Japan can now enjoy download speed of 2Gbps.

That's about 1,000 times faster than our average speed of 2Mbps. Darn!

Engadget reported that Japan has the world's fastest commercially-provided home internet service called Nuro. Launched on April 15 by Sony-supported ISP So-net, the fiber connection pulls down data at 2 Gbps, and sends it up at 1 Gbps.

An optical network unit (ONU) given to Nuro customers comes outfitted with 3 Gigabit ethernet ports and supports 450 Mbps over 802.11 a/b/g/n. When attached to a two-year contract, web surfers will be set back 4,980 yen (RM154) per month and pony up a required 52,500 yen (approx. RM1,630) installation fee, which is currently being waived for those who apply online.

Consumers can register their house, apartment or small business to receive the blazing speed, so long as they're located within Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Tokyo, Kanagawa or Saitama.

TheGreenMechanics: Come on Malaysia, give us better speed for the money. Don't hide behind the "at best effort" disclaimer when you can't deliver the promised speed!

More info: Engadget

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Count how many horses

Feeling sleepy after a heavy meal? Try counting the horses.

I got this from and although this is not really an optical illusion but it's great to keep you awake, occupied and perhaps distract you a bit from feeling bored. Especially if you are in the office or attending a lengthy seminar.

So, how many horses can you see? The site gave a rounded figure of 20.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Portable home lighting solutions by GreenBrilliance

The build looks simple and should not require high-tech input to it, other than creativity. Meet the newly launched solar-powered home lighting solutions by GreenBrilliance.

GreenBrilliance home lightings
Basic: Solar panel, battery and LED lamps

Main features:
  • 12W Poly-Crystalline PV Panels (size: 311mm x 358mm) - this is really small!
  • 2 High Power LED lamps
  • 8 hours of battery backup
  • USB Port


This portable home lighting solutions is designed by GreenBrilliance, a manufacturer of globally certified photovoltaic solar modules based out of Gujarat, India. This innovative product is ideal for:
  • Home lighting
  • Boat cabin lighting
  • Adventure trips
  • Camping
  • Roadside emergency lighting
  • Natural disaster relief
  • Rural / remote areas lighting
  • Construction sites
  • Charging USB devices like Mobile Phones, MP3 players, Bluetooth headsets etc.

GreenBrilliance home lightings
It's strange that the website says USB charger is not compatible with iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. Then what is the iphone doing here in the pic?

The GreenBrilliance GBHL12: Technical Specifications

GreenBrilliance home lightings

Source: GreenBrilliance website

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do you think gesture control will replace touchscreen?

Not too long ago, people relied on mouse, keyboard, and touchpad to communicate with their computers. Then portable devices emerged and touchscreens quickly became one of the more popular means of control and interface.

Touch-enabled smartphones and tablets have been very successful and as we progress further, people are now talking about gesture control.

The MYO works by using of muscle movement to control a wide range of devices

A magic armband that looks pretty simple

The MYO armband measures electrical activity in your muscles and translate that into signals before amplifying and relaying them to gadgets using Bluetooth wireless technology.

"A few years from now, it isn't hard to imagine people wearing Google Glass or a related headset, using a MYO armband to control the headset and other computers in the area, and having a Leap Motion to use a computer at their workstations"
- Technology blog Singularity Hub

I took part in an online poll by ScienceFocus and as of today, this is the result. During the first few days the ratio was 60:40 in favour of gesture control:

Sciencefocus poll result after 8 days

Reference: Pictures from MYO

Quota for 20 MW Solar PV released by SEDA Malaysia snapped up within 1 hour

The quota of of 20 MW solar PV  for non-individuals under 500kW was announced late last month:

Announced                       : Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Solar PV quota                 : 20 MW
Category                           : under 500kW, non-individual
Degression rate                 : 20% for installation exceeding 24kWp

Released                         : 2nd April 2013, 12.00noon

AND, on the day it was released (2nd April), SEDA Malaysia said the quota was taken up within the first hour. Meaning, the small 20MW quota is over-subscribed, if you like, and bigger quota should be released soon.


This just show that Malaysia is not far behind in terms of interest and commitment to the cause - going green. SEDA Malaysia made an early analysis and found that more than 99% of the solar PV capacities submitted in the e-FiT online system were larger than 24 kW which had the higher degression rate.

From this figure, SEDA believes that the 20% degression rate recently gazetted within the Schedule of the Renewable Energy Act 2011 for solar PV projects larger than 24 kW is still commercially viable.

Degression rate for solar PV individual reduced to 0%

SEDA Malaysia also announced that it has received a directive from the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water that, effective 1st January 2014 until 31st December 2017, the degression rate for Solar PV for individuals will be reduced to 0%.

Currently, the degression rate for solar PV for individuals is set to 8%. This means the FiT rates for solar PV for individuals will remain the same for the duration.

With the reduction of degression rate to 0% for solar PV for individuals the Ministry hopes for greater public participation in the Solar Home Rooftops Programme. The Government anticipates with more engagement in solar PV by home owners will result in a greater willingness from the public to contribute to the renewable energy (RE) fund.

TheGreenMechanics two cents:

To Sabah State government: - can you hurry up with the implementation of electricity bill levy? Or, alternatively pay an equivalent of the contribution otherwise made by SESB consumers so that Malaysians in Sabah can get the same benefits enjoyed by their counterparts in West Malaysia.

I thought the State Budget 2013 is the biggest in Malaysia? Check this out: Supply Expenditure for the year 2013 is the biggest in the State’s budget financial history totalling RM4.088 billion! So, an equivalent of 1% levy on heavy energy users is a pea nut then.

Further reading: SEDA Malaysia press release.

Maxis first to activate 4G LTE for Apple devices - iPad 4, iPad mini, iPhone 5

In another first for Maxis, owners of Apple devices (at least the latest ones) will get to experience super-fast mobile connectivity now.

In short,
  • Customers using the iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad 4 (iPad with retina display), can now enjoy 4G LTE speeds in selected areas
  • By the third quarter of 2013 more areas in Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Baru will be covered

Are you currently using one of these?

I suppose this is one of the key areas the telecommunications service provider is campaigning on, which is good.

In February 2013, Maxis launched two 4G LTE smartphones - the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC One XL, -  the first two smartphones to be activated on Maxis' 4G LTE network

Maxis activates 4G LTE for Apple devices

MAXIS Berhad has announced that customers using the iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad 4 can now enjoy the speed of its 4G LTE (Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution) network.

In 2009, Maxis was the first to introduce the iPhone to Malaysia, said its joint chief operating officer (COO) Suren J. Amarasekera. It is now announcing that customers using the Apple iPhone 5, fourth generation iPad with Retina display and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular model can use its 4G LTE network.

With 4G LTE, customers using iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPad 4 can experience download speeds five to 10 times faster than 3G, enabling them to upload pictures and video 10 times faster, Maxis claimed. Following the 4G LTE activation for these Apple devices, customers on Maxis iValue plans as well as data plans of 1G and above will receive an SMS requesting them to update the settings on their devices.

Once they do so, they will automatically be able to experience 4G LTE speeds in Maxis 4G LTE coverage areas. In areas where 4G LTE services are not available, the device will automatically and seamlessly fall back onto Maxis’ 3G network.

Areas covered by Maxis 4G LTE service:

  • Bangsar, Mont Kiara, Desa Park, Damansara Heights
  • Cyberjaya
  • Damansara Utama
  • Kota Damansara, Sunway Damansara
  • Puchong (Wawasan Puchong, Bandar Kinrara 1, Bandar Kinrara 3, Bandar Kinrara 4, Bandar Puteri)
  • Seapark, Dataran Prima, Tropicana
  • Petaling Jaya Section 13, 14, 17, 19, SS2
  • Sunway, Kampung Tunku, SS2, SS3
  • Taman Desa, Pantai Dalam, Old Klang Road
  • Taman Gembira, Desa Petaling
  • Taman Kinrara 2, Taman Kinrara 3, Taman Kinrara 4
  • Taman Megah (SS23, SS24, SS26), Kelana Jaya
  • Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Bandar Utama, Mutiara Damansara
  • USJ3, USJ4, USJ5, USJ9, USJ11, USJ12, USJ13.

TheGreenMechanics: Let's hope the cost of data subscription will become cheaper, as increase of speed means more traffic in data exchange which translates to more revenue for the competing telco companies.

For more details, refer to

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Solar panels now make more electricity than they use

"We are going into break-even" - Stanford University

Solar energy has short history in Malaysia, at least in terms of "installed capacity".

But when the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) started promoting the renewable energy in 2009, many quarters started to became aware of the benefit and incentives available. Thanks to the ministry's (then) Chief Technical Advisor for renewable energy, Ir Ahmad Hadri Haris. He came to Sabah on few occasions to give talks and seminars on RE, and one of the inetersting topics is solar PV.

Then people started to ask question: Is the electricity generated by the PV panels more than the energy to make them?

Solar panels generate more energy than they used?

Solar panels make energy, but they take energy to make, too. It was thought that more electricity is used to produce them than electricity they generate during their lifespan. But according to Stanford University, by 2020, the industry is set to "pay back" the energy it used. [check out the above video clip].

A study by Michael Dale and Sally Benson looked at what went into building and installing solar panels all over the world, including everything from home installations to solar farms. Most solar panels manufacturers now consume lots of electricity, usually pulled from coal or other fossil fuel-burning plants.

Stanford News pointed to the example of melting silica rock to obtain the silicon used in most panels. The melting requires electricity to fire ovens to a temperature of about 3,000o F.

"I think that this paper shows that actually the industry is making positive strides and it's even in spite of its fantastically fast growth rates, it's still producing, or it's just about to start producing, a net energy benefit to society."
-Michael Dale, climate and energy researcher, Stanford University

The researchers believe that solar panels' energy balance is now tipping, however, because newer technologies reduce that electricity consumption. For example, some newer panels require less silicon, or waste less material in the manufacturing process.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

This reminds me of the never ending argument on viability of using solar cells (PV) to generate electricity. Some people think that solar power is not viable yet as it is still very expensive. Take the subsidy out of the equation and the industry will take a massive tumble, they say.

The efficiency of solar panel is just about 21% to 25% at the moment, so, yes I tend to agree with the notion that we are forcing an inefficient technology on people.

But then again, if not now, then when? We can not wait for the fossil fuel to deplete before we embark on new alternatives, can we?

Refer: Video by Stanford Uni. Other story by Popular Science

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chinese volatile market drives solar PV downturn in 2013: Report

Solar PV demand in the first quarter of 2013 dipped due to the volatile market in China. The rest of the world, though, saw more stable growth - according to Solarbuzz.

Chart 1: Phases of PV demand from China, Europe and Rest-of-the-World. Source: Solarbuzz

“Chinese solar PV demand was the key global driver at the end of 2012, which helped to deplete upstream inventory levels that had accumulated over previous quarters. However, extreme swings in PV demand from China over the next year will make capacity utilization and inventory control particularly challenging.”
- Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz

The report says that, over the next four quarters:

  • China will account for more than 20% of global PV market demand, i.e. 0.9GW to 3.6GW.

  • Germany, Italy, France, and the UK will lead solar PV demand in Europe, accounting for over 65% of regional demand.

  • Demand from European end-markets is expected to range from 2.7GW - 3.2GW

  • New demand from the emerging PV markets, such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia (ROW)  demand will range from 2.5GW - 3.6 GW each quarter.

  • The Japanese market is strongest during the first half of the year.

  • The U.S. market is strongest during the second half.

TheGreenMechanics: Not a totally bleak year for the solar PV industry as some have predicted last year. China will come good eventually.

For your reading pleasure, jump to Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How big can flash drives get?

For personal reason, I limit the size of my thumb drives to 32GB. Many of my memory cards and USB flash drives are 8GB and 16GB in size. But for large scale storage, for the same price, I'd prefer solid state flash drives to traditional hard disks.

USB flash drives: Do you keep few in a bundle, or just one but with bigger capacity?

How does a memory stick/ flashdrive work?

In simple term: The chip inside contains a grid of transistors acting like tiny switches. All data is reduced to binary 1s and 0s and one of these values is stored at each point in the memory. To store a '1', the transistor in the relevant location is switched on, allowing charge to flow through it.

The transistors stay in their ON or OFF states even with no power, so the data stays intact even when you disconnect your memory stick.

How big can they get?

In theory, there is no upper limit. FOREMAY Green Technology unveiled what it called the first 2TB (2,000 GB) solid state drive in standard 2.5" SATA form factor in January this year.

During the CES in Las Vegas this year, Kingston unveiled its 1TB (1,000 GB) USB flash drive called the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0, so, there's actually no stopping us from developing bigger thumb drives.

Drive capacity, like every other aspect of computer technology will continue to increase and we are now almost at the point where solid-state flash drives outperform traditional hard disks. The only obstacle price. There is no news on how much Kingston's 1TB USB drive will cost but its current 512GB version is available at $1,750 (approx RM5,350).

Now, would you be comfortable sticking a RM5,000 USB thumb drive on a RM2,799 laptop?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Eco Urinal: Pee and wash in the same stand

The design is cool and I personally like it.

However, not everyone would be comfortable peeing so close to the next guy especially with the mirror angled the way it is. For instance, a tall guy may be able to see 'yours' through the mirror or even through the glass wash basin.

What's cool about this design is that, it saves water. The designer says that when you rinse your hand after the job, the same water can be used to cleanse the urinal basin. It's really handy when space is an issue. But for public toilet, I think the mirror tend to make users stand there longer and the waiting period become longer, too. Not suitable for high traffic toilet.

Eco Urinal by Yeongwoo Kim

Urinal, 450x450x200, Ceramic
Patent: 30-0602344

"To save water, Eco Urinal is designed to use the water that was used for washing hands to flush the urine.By this process, we don’t have to use water twice after using the urinal.Moreover, it reduces the establishment expenses by optimizing the materials.Upper space of this urinal is made with glass, and it helps to secure a clear view for users.It also promotes people to keep their sanitation because people need to wash their hands to flush the urine after use."

Source: Yeongwoo Kim link as given above.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Change of blog header

Just for my own future reference:

Prior to April 2013

From April onward

Other change of header in the past.

Sepanggar Bay naval base open day

So, all this while you've been looking down at the naval base from afar and wondering how would it feel to be on board a warship.

Your wait is over. This weekend you have the opportunity to visit one of the regional naval bases which would be open to the public for 3 days. The timing is right, as I believe the patriotic spirit among the people should be at its peak now considering the terrorist intrusion in Lahad Datu.

The announcement via RTM (Sabah FM) in brief:

Event                  : RMN Open Day
Date                    : 5th - 7th April 2013
Venue                 : Royal Malaysian Navy, RMN base in Sepanggar Bay

How to get there:
Free transportation via shuttle bus from three collection points - 1Borneo, Centre Point Sabah, and Indah Permai.
Attractive activities such as display of our navy assets, kayaking and many other engaging games.

The naval base seen during our previous working visit

Sepanggar Bay is the location of one of the major naval bases of Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), apart from the ones in Lumut Perak, Tanjung Gelang Pahang, Langkawi Kedah, Tanjung Pengelih Johor, to name a few.

"This is how it works," an officer explaining the mechanism on board KD Kedah

As at end-2012, there are 6 vessels and 12 boats, including two submarines, that are operating at the naval base at Sepanggar Bay. Four of the vessels are on round-the-clock patrols of the coastal waters at any one time.

View from KD Kedah

Note: The prefix KD means Kapal Diraja, or Royal Ship.

Of interest would be the two Scorpene submarines, named after the country’s first and second prime ministers – KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak. The subs arrived in Sabah on September 17, 2009 and July 16, 2010, respectively. I do not have a pic of them during the visit as they were off limit.

Hopefully they will show these expensive divers this time around and make us proud.

Solar plane to fly coast to coast across US

This is the same Swiss solar-powered plane that made a daring voyage from Europe to Africa last year. The  aircraft takes off on 24 May 012 in Payerne and travel through Madrid , destined for Rabat in Morocco.

Powered by 11,628 solar cells on its back and with a wingspan of about equivalent to a Boeing 747, a solar-powered plane that has wowed people in Europe is now preparing to fly across the United States.

The Solar Impulse plane will take off on May 1, weather permitting, and will make stops in Phoenix, Dallas and Washington before arriving in New York in early July. Reuters photo.


(California-AFP) - The experimental Solar Impulse plane, which has made several trips since its maiden flight in 2009, will take off on May 1 on a transcontinental tour split in five stages.

"We are ready to do this flight across America," said Solar Impulse co-founder Andre Borschberg during a press conference at a hangar in Mountain View, near San Francisco.

Borschberg said the flight is being split into multiple stages for security reasons, emphasising nevertheless that the single-seat aircraft was technically capable of flying non-stop across the United States.

A non-stop flight would take approximately three days travelling at the aircraft's cruising speed of around 43 miles (70 kilometers) per hour.

"We have limited ourselves to fly a duration maximum of 24 hours," said Borschberg, who will share the piloting duties with Solar Impulse president Bertrand Piccard.

The plane will spend up to 10 days at each stop on its journey in order to showcase its technology to the public, schoolchildren and students who will also have a chance to talk with the pilots.

"The people will be able to follow the mission, to speak to the pilot, to ask questions. We would like to inspire students, schoolchildren, inspire as many people as possible to try to have the spirit to dare, to innovate, to invent." Piccard said.

Borschberg and Piccard are planning an around-the-world flight of the plane in 2015. - Copyright (AFP RELAXNEWS), 2013.

TheGreenMechanics: If this solar-powered plane make a trip to Malaysia, I would definitely set aside some time off and make the tour to see it for myself.

For the rest of us who don’t live in the United States, we can still 'watch' the feat as it will be filmed and streamed LIVE on Solar Impulse's website with important news posted on Facebook.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Apple launching iPhone 5S and another cheaper model: Report

Consumers will get to lay their hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S4 anytime now. Specs-wise, I must admit it is very impressive and I might be tempted to change side. Maybe.

In a bid to increase the company's market share and to catch up with Android-based mobile phone sales, Apple is said to be launching 2 new models of its flagship iPhone, one of which is dubbed iPhone 5S.

Apple is set to launch its next flagship smartphone this summer: Wall Street Journal

As at end-February 2013, Android-based phones dominates the market with more than half of the share, at least in the US:

Android smartphone sales  : 51.2%
Apple iPhone                    : 43.5%
Windows phones              : 4.1%
BlackBerry                       : 0.7%

Apple launching two iPhones this summer

A report in the Wall Street Journal claims that production of the next iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 5S, has already begun in time for its official unveiling this summer and that it will be joined by a cheaper version of the smartphone in order to increase the company's existing market share.

Rumours about both devices have been flying around since the end of 2012. However, when something appears in the Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg, it is taken seriously because, as well as a reputation for secrecy, Apple also has a reputation for 'leaking' stories to those two papers.

Unsurprisingly, unnamed sources reported in the article appear to confirm stories that first started circulating at the beginning of 2013 that suggested the next iPhone would simply be an incremental update of the existing flagship, but that it would be joined by a cheaper model - likened in appearance to an iPod Classic - aimed at emerging markets where Apple's premium price is still a hurdle to growing market share.

News that the next handset will be an incremental improvement will no doubt disappoint any number of analysts and investors who have been calling for the company to innovate for the past 12 months and in the process have driven the company's share price down by more than 50%. In particular, Forrester CEO George Colony will feel very let down.

Despite admitting that he knows very little about the technological mastery involved in achieving such a goal, he took to his Counterintuitive CEO blog this week and, within a post entitled "Apple's Foldable Future," called on Apple to make a seamless folding iPhone that opened out into a paper-thin widescreen tablet and that had a full-body screen without a bezel. - ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013

Source: TechCentral

TheGreenMechanics: More choices for consumers and hopefully cheaper, too.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mt. Kinabalu from Tuaran

Not the most glamorous town around, but Tuaran is a great stopover if you are traveling to the east coast of Sabah or on your way up to Kinabalu National Parks where Mt. Kinabalu is located.

Mt. Kinabalu is on the background. Taken at a location just before arriving the town from Kota Kinabalu, with iPhone cam and tweaked with in-phone App, Snapseed

About Tuaran

The name Tuaran is believed to have come from the Malay word tawaran which means 'bargaining' or 'sale'. This presumably reflects on the town's earlier role as a market where natives from the hillside villages brought their produce for trading with the coastal Chinese and other indigenous peoples.

It is a town as well as a district located in West Coast Division, in the northwest of Sabah, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Tuaran district has an area of 1,166 square kilometres and an estimated population of 105,453 in 2010.

About half the population consists of ethnic Dusun, a third ethnic Bajau, and some Chinese. It has a distinctive nine-story Chinese pagoda as a prominent landmark.

Nearby tourist attractions are the Mengkabong Water Village and the Penimbawan Water Village, with stilt houses built by the Bajaus over the shore.

Also read: TuaranTourism, Sabah.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Crows can recognise human faces!

Yes they can.

In fact, scientists say many birds recognise individual humans but they probably do this by using a variety of cues, including height, build, colour, clothes or ways of walking. Crows, however, can actually recognise faces. Amazing, isn't it.

Red-eyed crows of Nexus Resort Karambunai, Sabah. Photo by de engineur

This has been confirmed by experiments in which scientists put on various masks and then trapped a group of wild crows and fixed rings to their legs. After letting the birds go, they walked around recording whom the crows mobbed or scolded with their harsh, warning cries.

The trapped crows, which had previously ignored these individuals, now reacted aggressively to anyone wearing the trappers’ masks, regardless of their size, clothes, or gait.

So, don't underestimate the statement by movie makers who portrayed crow's presence as bad omen and its aggression towards human. LOL, that's from me - don't be bothered.

ref - Sciencefocus