Archive for May 2011

Chopin for Japan

Epson, Yamaha and Isetan will be sponsoring a free concert entitled “Chopin for Japan” in support of the relief effort for the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The concert features well-known Italian-American classical pianist Julian Gargiulo and guest soprano Satsuki Nagatome rendering Chopin compositions, well known Japanese songs and arias from famous Italian operas. The concert is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 28 May 2011 from 6:30pm to 8pm at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The concert will be open to the public for free and non-obligatory donations will be requested at the event. All proceeds will go to the Mercy Relief for their disaster relief effort in Japan.

SBS blocks 3rd-party apps from accessing bus arrival timing

Recently I notice that my gothere.sg iPhone app is having problem accessing the bus arrival timing. At first I thought it might be a bug from gothere.sg and they will fix it soon. Then I discovered that the problem is not with gothere.sg. The problem is with SBS. SBS Transit put up a catcha to block 3rd party apps from accessing bus arrival timing.

There’s tons of mobile phone apps that access the bus arrival information from SBS site. Most of them are unusable now after SBS Transit block the access. This is indeed very unfortunate.

According to SBS Transit senior vice-president of corporate communications Tammy Tan, many of these proxy websites were accessing its data without seeking approval. ‘This could result in wrong information being released to end-users, which is something we will not be able to control. The introduction of captcha is to prevent unauthorised re-use of proprietary information,’ she added.

The first thing that comes into my mind when I read that was…… Bullshit!!!!

The information is pulled directly from the SBS’s website. How could it result in wrong information being released to end-users? And even if it does release wrong information, SBS can simply clarify that it does not guarantee the accuracy of 3rd party applications. Or instead of blocking all 3rd party apps, SBS Transit could work with the 3rd Party app developer to release some API so that they can release accurate information to end users.

And why is the bus arrival timing be considered proprietary information? What is so proprietary about this information? These are information that helps commuters plan their journey better. SBS should not block 3rd party applications from using these information. In fact, they should encourage 3rd party app developers to develop applications to make full use of the bus arrival timing.

Let’s face it. SBS Transit wants everyone to use their IRIS iPhone App and IRIS NextBus on their website. The problem is, the IRIS NextBus website interface is pretty bad. And I don’t mind using their iPhone app if they are really good. But they aren’t that fantastic. There’s a lot of 3rd party apps out there that does a lot better than the SBS Transit IRIS iPhone App.

And for those who are not on iPhone, good luck to you. You just need to wait till SBS Transit roll out an App for your mobile OS. It is stupid that SBS Transit decide to block all 3rd party app and develop the app themselves. They could have saved a lot of money if they choose to work with 3rd party app developers.

3rd party app developers can be your best friend. WORK with them. Give them the tools to help you.

PS: Read iMerlion for the full Straits Times interview with Muh Hon Cheng, the developer of SG NextBus and SG Buses. Hon Cheng wrote to SBS Transit for approval to use the bus arrival timing data but it was rejected without any reasons. SBS Transit only wrote to him and said they will reconsider his application after Straits Times publish the article.

It’s sad to see SBS Transit blocking 3rd party apps from accessing the bus arrival timing. This is a step backwards from our goal of being a world class transport and IDA’s iN2015 masterplan. Bus arrival timing should be public data and available to everyone using any app they like. We should not be forced to use SBS Transit’s application. I hope LTA and IDA will look into this matter.

Update: Someone managed to dig out the API that SBS Transit IRIS iPhone App is using. (Thanks @bondbabe for the tip-off)

This can be a short term solution for all 3rd Party App developers. But this is not a permanent solution. SBS Transit can simply change the API name or password protect the API. It’s going to be a cat and mouse game between SBS Transit and 3rd Party App developers.

Yahoo shuts down MyBlogLog

Yahoo officially shuts down MyBlogLog on 24 May 2011. For the uninitiated, MyBlogLog is a social network for the blogger community which allows site owners to track who has visited the website/blog. Yahoo acquired January it in 2007 for roughly $10 million.

Users of MyBlogLog has been notified via email since last month. A notice was also put up on the website.

I have been a user of MyBlogLog for a long time. In fact I can’t even remember when did I start using MyBlogLog. All I remember is that it was before Yahoo acquired it. I like MyBlogLog because it allows me to know who has visited my site and let other bloggers know that I’ve visited theirs. It’s like Foursquare check in for blogs. It’s quite sad to see such a good service get acquired and go down the drain. There hasn’t been any new features or update ever since Yahoo acquired it.

Good bye MyBlogLog. We will miss you…..

Review: Nokia E7

PS: This is a ultra delayed blog post.

If you ask me to describe the Nokia E7 in a few words, I would say it’s a Nokia N8 with keyboard. In fact, I’m not the only person who made this remark when we first saw the Nokia E7. But it’s weird that Nokia choose to call it E7 instead of “following industry standards” by calling it N8 Pro.

Name jokes aside, the Nokia E7 is exactly what you would expect from Nokia. Great hardware on a Symbian OS. The Nokia E7 has a 4 inch AMOLED touchscreen. The screen is beautiful. Perhaps one of the best Nokia screen I’ve ever seen. The screen is able to produce 16 million colours with 16:9 nHD (640 x 360 pixels). 12.37 x 6.24 x 1.36 cm and weighs 176g.

The Nokia E7 has 16GB internal memory and no memory card slot. Yes, this is quite a surprise for many people. It might be a slight problem for those who takes lots of photos and video. The E7 has a 8 Megapixels camera capable of 720p video recording. There’s a HDMI port for connecting to TV or projector. And of cos you have the usual WIFI, Bluetooth, GPS, MicroUSB and 3.5mm jack.

The Nokia E7 is pretty sturdy. The slide out keyboard reminded me of the Nokia N97. In fact, I kinda like this form factor. The screen tilts at a comfortable angle when you slide out the keyboard. This makes the Nokia E7 a great table top phone for viewing videos.

Unlike the Nokia N97, the E7’s keyboard is slightly harder to slide out. This is mainly due to the fact that the E7 is much thiner and thus less space for you to push the screen upwards. But I guess users will get used to it after a while. The keyboard is pretty good to type with. The keys are well spaced but the alphabets are positioned slightly to the left so it will take a while for users to get used to it. Something interesting to note. There is no volume control button. Instead, there’s a slider for volume control. I’m not a fan of this.

The battery is non-user replaceable. But I guess most people are used to this already

Here’s the thing. While the hardware of the Nokia E7 is pretty good, I couldn’t say likewise for the OS. Most of you should know that Nokia is planning to drop Symbian in favor of Windows Phone 7. Although we are still seeing a few new phones with Symbian, it is clear that this Operating System is approaching it’s end of life. I would only recommend the Nokia E7 to the existing Symbian users and Symbian fans. After all, it’s still going to be at least a year or two before Symbian disappear. So if you don’t mind Symbian, the Nokia E7 is a pretty decent phone.

In short:
Great hardware but running Symbian

Likes:
Beautiful screen resolution
Good keyboard
Sturdy

Dislikes:
Symbian
No memory card slot
Volume control

One year later…..

Time really flies. In a blink of an eye and a couple of mouse clicks, I discovered that I’ve been working for a year already. Wow. Really wow….

A lot have changed since the first day I joined the company. I joined the company because of the challenge. And my task is still a big challenge. On the outside, it may seems like nothing much have changed. But trust me, I’ve seen huge changes in the company in this one year. The biggest change is the change in mindset. When I first started, it was frustrating some times because some people are resistant to the idea. It gets lonely sometimes when only my boss and I were pushing for the idea.

But things have changed greatly. Everyone is more open to the idea. We have more new colleagues who are social media savvy. In fact, we have a new colleague joining us today. I knew her for many years already thru the social media circle. It’s great that she is joining the company. Although she isn’t joining my department, I know I’ll have many opportunity to work with her. And I think I’ll enjoy the synergy.

I’ve been approached by several companies offering me job in social media. To be honest, some of the offers are pretty attractive. But I turn down all the offers because I’ve yet to complete my job here.

In fact, the fun is just about to begin….. oh yeah!