The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Computers teach students how to write well

NRC International, 30 December 2009 12:50, By Karlijn van Houwelingen

Dutch students completing their final exams. Photo Roel Rozenburg

A Dutch linguist has written a computer programme that is teaching children how to write texts at more than a hundred schools.

The programme, called TiO (Developing Language Education) offers students suggestions on how to improve their work while they are typing. TiO can detect errors and offers advice on how to correct them. The tips and tricks offered by the programme cover many aspects of writing, varying from style to the manner in which an argument is presented. TiO may suggest restructuring text for instance, or rooting out some weasel words. It may also propose adding an opposing point of view or warn the writer he or she has used an oft-misspelt verb.

The actual correction of mistakes is left up to the student. According to Ad Bok (67), the Dutch linguist who wrote the software, TiO allows students to learn organically, the same way toddlers learn how to speak: osmosis. TiO constantly exposes students to all aspects of good writing, teaching them how to apply themselves.

TiO comes at a time that independent learning is eyed with suspicion in the Netherlands. After a botched introduction of far-reaching education reforms focused on student-driven education in the 1990s, novelties that allow students to learn on their own are increasingly drawing fire.

In the two years since it was introduced, more than 100 schools have adopted the programme, including some primary schools and even a number of institutions dedicated to tertiary education. An additional 40 schools have expressed an interest in procuring the programme, Bok said.

The success of his programme shows what a sorry state the Dutch educational system is currently in, according to Bok. “The world outside of the classroom has become a lot more attractive since I went to school. But the educational system is still the same: one guy in front of a class with 30 children in it. I hear a lot of teachers saying they are having problems selling it to their students,” Bok said.

Not everyone shares Bok’s enthusiasm about TiO. Eight schools this year quit using the programme. Dockingacollege, a high-school in Dokkum, is one of them. The teacher responsible for the programme left and the software was abandoned. According to Margriet Leeuw, a managing director at Dockingacollege, TiO can only function if one teacher embraces and propagates the new method. “All other teachers thought the programme didn’t fit their teaching methods,” de Leeuw said. She feels the educational system is not ready for TiO yet.

Amos van Gelderen, a researcher studying language education at the University of Amsterdam, values the practical emphasis of TiO. She also expressed doubts about the recommendations for improvement the programme offered. “Too put it bluntly: the programme is shooting blanks. A teacher who is reading over a student’s shoulder can give advice. A computer cannot,” Van Gelderen said.

Ad Bok does not agree. “The programme has 400 tools at its disposal to improve the text. A teacher can never offer similar support, because he has to look after 200 students on average.” One of its great benefits is it takes some of the workload of teachers' shoulders, said Bok.

Dutch linguist and writer René Appel feels the programme does well in teaching students to constantly correct their text, but also fears that the constant reminders TiO offers might end up annoying children rather than teaching them “The programme breaks with all the current trends prevalent among young people,” Appel said. “Spelling and punctuation are considered unimportant in text messages and on MSN.”

The software has also led to new ways of cheating. A method for hacking the programme is readily available online through a Dutch social networking site frequented by high school students. Students have succeeded in pasting text into the application. Something Bok tried to prevent in his design of the programme. Still, this development does little to worry him. “Did you think there was no cheating in the old system?” Bok said. “Let the smart kids be smart."

Related Article:

Breaking Down the Language Barrier With Online Translation Tools


After decade of silence, Y2K alarmist speaks out

NRC International, 30 December 2009 13:02 ,By Freek Staps in New York

A Korean shop holder selling Y2K preparedness packages at the end of the last century. Photo: Reuters

Before the turn of the century, Edward Yardeni spent years raising worldwide awareness of the Y2K-problem. When his predicted pandemonium failed to materialise, Yardeni dropped off the radar for almost a decade. Now, he is ready to speak out again.

Everything digital would collapse, causing death and destruction worldwide - or so those who feared the millenium bug predicted. The reasoning behind this, almost ten years ago, was internal clocks of the world’s computers were not built to understand the year 2000 (or Y2K) and would all jump from 1999 to 1900 at midnight, wreaking all sorts of havoc in their wake.

Nuclear missiles would launch automatically. There would be massive blackouts. The world financial system could shut down. Emergency services would fail en masse and air traffic controllers would be left helpless as planes fell from the skies.

In retrospect these predictions seems a bit far fetched. But the above list was actually summed up at hearing held by the American congress. The speaker: Edward Yardeni, then chief economist of Deutsche Bank Securities and the most famous Y2K alarmist in the world.

Yardeni’s reputation was impeccable. He attended both Yale and Cornell universities, worked for the US department of the treasury and the Federal Reserve. America’s largest newspaper, USA Today, called him the country’s most credible analyst. Yardeni even earned the honorific nickname “Wizard of Wall Street”.

Yardeni started speaking out on Y2K as early as 1997 and no one discussed the matter as much and as openly as he did. He spoke to the World Bank and the CIA, and he was a fixture at the annual forum of world leaders in Davos.

His dire words had an immediate effect. In the US, the White House formed a special task group, legislation was passed shielding companies from lawsuits emanating from the Y2K problem, insurance companies introduced special policies to cover the problem, and lawyers prepared themselves for a torrential flood of Y2K cases. According to the most conservative estimates, the American government spent 100 billion dollars fighting the problem.

So, what sort of horrible things happened in the end?

“Nothing. Perhaps two clocks showed the wrong date. It turned out to be completely uneventful.”

Some computer problems did occur though. In one casino, 150 slot machines broke down. The alarm system guarding an abandoned government building ceased to function, leaving its doors open that night. A client at a video store was charged thousands of dollars in late fees for a video more than a century overdue. Yardeni celebrated the new year at home, with his wife. When he woke up the following morning, the world was still there.

Afterwards, Yardeni quickly admitted he had been wrong and then withdrew from the public eye, remaining silent on the matter for a decade. Now, for the first time in almost ten years, he looks back on Y2K. Not on Wall Street. He doesn’t work there any more. Yardeni runs a small consulting firm from his home.

Your predictions did not materialise in the end.

“It is entirely possible that the problem never existed. It could also be that companies took action in time because people like myself sounded the alarm. In any case: when nothing happened and it turned out to have been a mistake all along, it was quite a relief.”

“I do blame myself for the fact that it seems the Y2K problem led to a recession. Quite a lot of money was pumped into computers to solve this problem. When nothing happened, that influx of cash dried up, contributing to the burst of the technology bubble.”

Does that mean you admit to contributing to the problem?

“It was never my intent to sow doom and gloom or cause depression. I am a family man and I don’t like to see people lose their jobs. But I did see a recession coming.”

At the time you called yourself “an alarmist”.

“I was trying to raise awareness because I felt business had to invest heavily in tackling this problem. Not because I thought people had to arm themselves or build bunkers. “

Still, your warnings had a seditious character.

“I was trying to garner attention – successfully I might add. Perhaps I stuck with it for too long. Maybe I should have called it proclaimed victory and called it quits six months before 2000.”

How could you have misjudged this problem?

“No doubt this was a major slip-up. The biggest in my career. Did computers end up breaking down? No. Did the recession I predicted occur? No. I admit to all that. But I do not regret a thing.”

But a lot of money was spent. The Wall Street Journal even said that an “end-of-the-world-cult” had perpetrated the “con of the century”.

“I think they were right about that,” Yardeni said, but after a moment’s reflection, he chose the offencive. “But if it really was a con-job, why did all those companies spent so much money?”

Perhaps because trustworthy authorities like you recommended it?

“Listen. Hold on. The executives in charge of major companies know what they’re doing. They won’t waste money on a false alarm.”

You are short-selling your own influence.

“I was not that important at all,’ Yardeni said, again pausing for reflection. “Perhaps I was credible and I had a good reputation – I still do, I think – but I did not invent Y2K. Besides, people were working on this day and night. They took it so seriously they spent a lot of money on it.

Some countries – Russia, Germany, and Italy – stood out because they spent no money at all.

“Yes”

And nothing went wrong there at the year’s end.

“Exactly.”

So what does that mean?

“That computers weren’t essential to those countries.”


What Edward Yardeni said in 1999

  • “The communications’ systems of half of the world’s countries are at risk of imminent collapse.”

  • “I am no longer certain that we have enough time to prevent a Y2K-recession.”

  • “There is a 70 percent chance of a worldwide recession at least a serious as the one we had in 1973 and 1974.”

  • “It worries me that nobody on this planet is trying to assess the consequences the computer problem might have for the worldwide food supply...it might be seriously disrupted.”

  • “This is the American Titanic. There is an iceberg up ahead and we are still partying on the upper deck.”

Facebook Became the New Town Hall and Twitter the Fastest Media

The Jakarta Globe, Emmy Fitry

A small fraction of the coins raised by a Facebook campaign for Prita Mulyasari. (JG Photo)

This was the year that online got in your face.

These days, even as a news event is happening, it seems that a Facebook page opens up to gather supporters for one side or the other. And news of an earthquake or a terror attack? Look to Twitter for the fastest update.

The government, crooked cops or overzealous prosecutors may have little to fear from massive street demonstrations, but the legions of people who have made Facebook the No. 1 Web site in Indonesia are something else entirely. And these days the powerful ignore the world of social media at their peril. In the past, a big corporation may have been able to railroad a cowed consumer into dropping an uphill battle, but not anymore. A slight misunderstanding between two countries in the past might have resulted in token rallies outside an embassy or a flurry of diplomatic activity. Now, Internet users heap scorn on, for example, Malaysia, allowing Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry to calculate public sentiment almost instantly.

Of course, it is nothing new that technology is morphing and transforming before our eyes. What was new in 2009 in Indonesia were the political manifestations of social media into areas of traditional activism. Netbooks, BlackBerrys, iPhones and other gadgets are not just status symbols and business tools, they are the new town hall.

There are obviously legions of people sitting at their computers who would never think of joining a street protest but who nonetheless have found a convenient and seemingly effective way of making their voices heard in a democracy. Those of us in the information business have obviously had to react to this new and constantly evolving world as quickly as we can. A few of the people at the Jakarta Globe grew up in an age when typewriters could still be heard clanking away in a newsroom. For traditional print journalists, it was a leap to go to a computer, the Internet and a Web site.

Now, mere online news portals or blogs — those are so two years ago — are starting to seem kind of quaint in the face of Twitter, where tens of millions of people write their own ongoing 140 character “news” stories constantly. We are doing our best to keep up, and we are proud of the fact that our Jakarta Globe Facebook page has more than 90,000 “fans” and counting; 11,000 people “follow” us on Twitter, a site that few had even heard of a year ago.

In two elections, in April for the House of Representatives and in July for the presidency, many candidates also treated a Facebook page as another place to hold a rally. Added to traditional campaign swings and mass gatherings (with paid-for crowds), garnering sympathy online is relatively easy and effective. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also has nearly 500,000 supporters on Facebook, many of whom are not shy about sharing their criticism of the job he is doing.

The PT Bank Century bailout scandal has also generated Facebook heat, with the “Movement for Clean Government-Solve the Bank Century Scandal” group gaining tens of thousands of followers. Groups like “We Believe in Sri Mulyani’s Integrity” battle it out over what her supporters say is a conspiracy to bring down the popular finance minister.

Does all this sound and fury worry us? Sometimes, although we applaud the spirit of civic activism and participation that the technology is enabling. When information is shared so widely and rapidly, however, misinformation moves just as fast. Information shared on a micro-blog site like Twitter can be liberating and informative; it can also be sensational and just plain wrong. That’s the dark side of this new news culture.

However, creative minds and mature personalities also can do wonders with this kind of media. The past year has seen social networking used to send some powerful messages. Does anyone doubt that Indonesians are fed up with corruption, terrorism or injustice? The facts are there for all to see in the hundreds of thousands of people speaking their minds on Facebook and elsewhere.

Three events that symbolized the rise of social media politics in Indonesia:

#IndonesiaUnite

Within seconds of the twin bombs exploding at Jakarta’s posh JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels on the morning of July 17, Twitter and Facebook were lighting up with information, pictures, reactions, condemnations and condolences.

Twitter was one of the first places to break news of the bombings, as people on the scene sent updates from their mobile phones that were then passed along by news organizations. The first photos we saw of the hotels were relayed to the newsroom by a friend in New York City who received them from someone on the ground by cellphone. The process took only a few minutes.

The mood of anger and disgust over an act of terror that claimed nine lives, injured more than 50 people and damaged the country’s reputation was soon channeled into an online movement to maintain unity and pride in the country under the banner of Indonesia Unite. A Twitter buddy, @aulia, first coined the phrase and #indonesiaunite soon became the most popular tag in Twitter-world. Users were asked to click on the phrase to show their support and to overlay their avatars on Twitter with the red and white colors of the Indonesian flag. The #indonesiaunite page on Facebook garnered hundreds of thousands of fans within a few days.

On YouTube, local rap musician and social network user Pandji Pragiwaksono also released a music video called “Kami Tidak Takut” (“We Are Not Afraid”), which was widely circulated.

After the terrorist bombings, with business back to normal, Indonesia Unite remains an active Facebook group spawning all manner of commentary on the country from ethnic cuisines to social causes, cultural heritage and holiday destinations.

Support Prita Mulyasari

With housewife Prita Mulyasari finally acquitted of criminal defamation charges for the e-mail she sent to friends criticizing the service she received at Omni Hospital, it almost seems as if she has been in the news forever. But the 32-year old mother of two rose to such prominence largely because of Facebook.

A few days after the Tangerang District Court ruled in the hospital’s favor in a civil case and fined Prita Rp 312 million ($33,072) , the prosecutors upped the ante and on May 13 charged her under the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) law, which allowed the police to imprison her while she awaited a criminal defamation trial that only concluded on Tuesday. Prita spent three weeks behind bars before Facebook came to her rescue.

Working mother Ika Ardina angrily reacted to idea that a housewife could be jailed for sending an e-mail by creating a Prita cause page on Facebook. The page, “Support Prita Mulyasari, a mother who is in jail for writing an e-mail complaint” drew hundreds of thousands of fans and led to a number of other similar support-Prita groups and pages.

The outpouring also caught the attention of politicians, including Yudhoyono and the first lady. Eventually the president urged the Tangerang Court and law enforcers to expedite the legal process and the pressure helped get Prita released from detention.

Losing an appeal of the civil court judgment, Prita was ordered to pay Rp 204 million in damages to Omni. That decision sparked more Facebook outrage and a Help Prita Movement.

The idea was to collect coins to pay the fine. Thousands of people, from school children to street musicians and tycoons pitched in and the movement collected more than Rp 650 million in coins, three times bigger than the needed amount. Former Trade Minister Fahmi Idris also donated Rp 102 million for Prita, while the Democratic Party handed over Rp 100 million. The Regional Representatives Council (DPD) gave Prita Rp 50 million and called for a boycott of Omni.

The movement was followed by a charity concert where more than 30 Indonesian musicians, including famous bands such as Slank, Padi and Nidji, donated their voices to the cause. The concert raised more than Rp 50 million.

Omni eventually dropped its civil suit against Prita but the criminal court case went forward. Prita also filed a civil countersuit against Omni for Rp 1.3 trillion. The money raised to pay her fine is to be used for social causes.

Antigraft Facebook

Gerakan 1.000.000 Facebookers Dukung Chandra Hamzah & Bibit Samad Riyanto (Movement of 1,000,000 Facebookers Supporting Chandra Hamzah & Bibit Samad Rianto) was launched after the two Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairmen were arrested in late October on suspicion of abuse of power. The lesson for the National Police, which brought the charges against the two, was to be careful in messing with the KPK. The page easily passed its target and has given birth to a spate of imitators.

The Facebook page was created by Usman Yasin on Oct. 29, the same day Chandra and Bibit were arrested by the National Police. It featured the logo of the “gecko vs crocodile” — a term first made popular by former National Police chief of detectives Susno Duadji when he referred to the rivalry between the police and the KPK. The now-familiar logo has virtually become a brand of its own as it pictures the KPK gecko contending with the National Police crocodile. Thousands of Facebook users have posted the image on their own sites.

The face-off between the police and the KPK over Chandra and Bibit became the most gripping event in the nation in the weeks following their arrest, forcing Yudhoyono to step into the fray and “suggest” that the police and the Attorney General’s Office drop the case, which they did.

Fans of the antigraft officials left messages of support on the page and called on the government to take action. They heaped scorn on prosecutors and turned Susno into a whipping boy for allegedly conspiring to undermine the commission.

Bibit and Chandra were released on bail after a dramatic court hearing in early November, during which hours of wiretapped phone conversations appeared to indicate that members of the National Police and AGO conspiring with the brother of a graft suspect to frame the KPK officials. The president has since vowed to devote his first 100 days in office to eradicating Indonesia’s so-called “judicial mafia.”

Bibit and Chandra are back in their old jobs. Susno has lost his post as chief detective.

Score another victory for Facebook.

Related Articles:

How to respond to public opinion on Facebook?

Prita Mulyasari Cleared of All Charges

President to reinstate Bibit, Chandra

BlackBerry boom in Indonesia

Indonesian Facebook Mum Wins Hospital Defamation Case

Indonesian Woman Finds Long Lost Brother Through Facebook

Social networking gaining more 'friends' in Southeast Asia


The first decade: How internet changed the way we live

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 29 December 2009 - 4:22pm, byJohan van Slooten

At the turn of the millennium, two young Dutch internet entrepreneurs were running a small website aimed at the business community on the net. Ten years on, “community” has become the internet buzz word of the decade. Those two businessmen, Raymond Spanjar and Floris Rost van Tonningen, have built a successful company with their hugely popular social networking site Hyves.nl. “But this is only the beginning”, says Spanjar.

After the first internet bubble burst in 2001, Raymond and Floris sold their business website to concentrate on a new internet phenomenon – social networking. Websites were offering people the chance to create lists of people they knew and allowing them to exchange contact details. “We were using new American networking sites, but for some reason they didn’t catch on in the Netherlands”, Raymond Spanjar told Radio Netherlands Worldwide. “ We were inviting our friends but nobody joined. So we decided to take this idea and adapt it to the Dutch market and see if we could get it going here”.

Networks

The first internet social networks were focused at building a network of contacts, but that was all – there wasn’t much you could then do with your network. Spanjar and Rost van Tonningen felt that social networking should not be a goal in itself. “We used the network structure for other means as well, like messaging and photo sharing, and that proved to be very successful”. Later, other features were added to the network, such as blogging, a market place for services and products and creating communities for people with shared interests.

This was in 2004, at a time when the internet was still very much a matter of one way traffic: you could read, hear and see many things on the web as a visitor, but there was very little you could add yourself. That all changed with the rise of blogging, youTube and social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Hyves – websites built and filled by the internet users themselves.

Relationships

“The main purpose of our site is that you can stay in touch with people you know”, says Raymond. “Our research has proven that people who are very active on Hyves have a better relationship with their friends and see them more often, not only online but also offline”.

Social networking sites became hugely popular in the second half of the decade, with tens of millions of people worldwide signing up for Facebook, MySpace, Friendster or Hyves. In the Netherlands, over 9 million people – more than half of the population – use Hyves. It also changed the way we approach the internet, says Mr Spanjar.

“People have opened up on the net. The identity of people used to be very difficult to trace. Everybody knows the stories of people chatting with a 20-year old girl who in the end turns out to be a 60-year old guy. In social networking, most people use their own identity. Now it’s possible to establish someone’s real identity and to make real contact”.

Queen Beatrix

But not everyone thinks Hyves or other social networking sites are a good thing. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands said in this year’s Christmas message that virtual communication “divided people rather than bringing them closer together”. This led to angry reactions from the internet community, including Mr Spanjar. He offered the Queen an account of her own so she can enjoy Hyves herself. “She could then report her experiences of the results”, he adds.

People do connect with each other in real life through Hyves, he says. “It ‘s much easier to connect or reconnect with someone you barely know, or someone you’ve just met. Many real friendships have been established this way. Without social networks, these people would not have been able to do this”.

2019?
But what about the next decade? What will the internet – or social networks – look like by 2019? Mr Spanjar doesn’t own a crystal ball, but his prediction is clear: “In ten years time, when we look back, we’ll realise that, really, the impact of social networks was still relatively very small compared to the impact it will have by then. Mobile technology will change the use of internet dramatically. It will provide a virtual layer onto our physical reality that will be something completely different compared to today’s computer-based internet”.

“We’ll see a merger of the real world and the virtual world, really. I think what we know now is only the beginning”.

With 9,593,352 members, it looks like Raymond Spanjar and Floris Rost van Tonningen will be able to live their 21st century internet dreams for quite some time.


Related Articles:

Social networking gaining more 'friends' in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

BlackBerry boom in Indonesia

By Atika Shubert, CNN, December 29, 2009 -- Updated 0443 GMT (1243 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • BlackBerry smart phones are increasingly popular with customers in Indonesia
  • Patchy and expensive home Internet access make the phones good alternatives for Internet access
  • Rise in digital social networking in Indonesia makes BlackBerry's keyboard good selling point

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- The BlackBerry is king... in Indonesia, anyway.

It's hard to go anywhere in Jakarta, the nation's busy capital, without seeing someone using one of these ubiquitous smart phones.

In the city's shopping malls, the BlackBerry logo is advertised everywhere and sellers offer everything from the latest, the Blackberry Onyx, to much cheaper, older models.

In its battle with Apple's iPhone, BlackBerry is the clear winner here. Sellers at one Jakarta mall told CNN they routinely sell about 5 or 6 Blackberries a day. In comparison they sell only one iPhone a day, at the most.

"BlackBerry phones are much more trendy and fashionable than the iPhone," one seller told CNN. "Hardly anyone asks for an iPhone."

So just why is the BlackBerry so popular in Indonesia?

One reason is price. Blackberry phones cost about $500 when sold new, compared to an iPhone that costs around $900. But if bought on Indonesia's "gray market" -- in order words, smuggled in tax free -- then a BlackBerry can be purchased for around $300.

That caters not just to Indonesia's high-end businessmen but also to the country's growing and fashion-conscious middle class.

Another reason is accessibility. Indonesia's Internet infrastructure is expensive and not always reliable. Getting a home broadband connection can cost as much as $100 a month. For many Indonesians, it's easier, and cheaper, to get a web-enabled phone.

Used less for surfing the net than digital social networking, BlackBerry phones' keyboards have also been a real selling point. The iPhone's touch screen has less appeal in this respect. (Read more on the rise of social media in Southeast Asia)

"I've heard the touch screen isn't so great," one college student buying her first BlackBerry told CNN. "All my friends use the BlackBerry to email. That's why I'm getting one."

BlackBerry manufacturer, Research in Motion, wouldn't release country-specific figures but said that Indonesia is an important part of its Asia strategy. Indonesia holds a lot of potential.

The ROA Group, a mobile phone research group, estimates that by next year half of Indonesia's 250 million people will have a mobile phone.

But BlackBerry may not be on top for long. Local provider XL is now offering a service that gives mobile phone users limited web-access to Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo mail.

For many users, that's all they need and the cost of the service is only about a dollar a day.

Related Articles:

Social networking gaining more 'friends' in Southeast Asia

Indonesian Smartphones Battle: BlackBerry Beats iPhone

Analysts say the BlackBerry’s communication capabilities give it an advantage over the iPhone, which is more of a multimedia platform. (JG Photo)


Friday, December 25, 2009

IDC: It's Time for Asia-Based CIOs to Make an IT Bet on Economy

IDC, December 21, 2009

IDC has announced the top-ten insights that highlight the key issues Asia/Pacific CIOs need to be aware of in 2010 and IDC's view of the key end-user strategies for the next year and beyond. During the last year or more, companies in Asia have mostly applied "wait-and-see" or "back-burner" IT tactics, but this will no longer work as the economy starts to turn again. In the list of insights, IDC highlights how IT is in the midst of a renaissance and the significance of this renaissance to businesses has been increased by the economic crisis.

"In 2010 companies will have to adopt a sense of urgency and be more proactive with how they will deal with an economic recovery," said Claus Mortensen, Principal for IDC Asia/Pacific Emerging Technologies Research Group. "The economic downturn has taken its toll on all lines of business in the last year and that makes it even more vital to be ready to deal with the next upswing. Companies will have to make strategic bet on when the economy will turn and plan their IT investments accordingly."

At the core of IDC's top-ten CIO insights for 2010 is the concept "dematerialization" of IT. For many companies, on-premises IT may have a serious economic flaw. The on-premises model can potentially hold IT to ransom with fixed assets that are typically underutilized and escalating in cost to support. "Dematerializing" these assets by moving them off the premises and off the books is one such alternative of overcoming this dilemma.

"This process of ‘dematerialization' is already taking place in various forms," said Claus. "We see them in the market as in cloud computing, cloud services, virtual dynamic IT, elastic infrastructure, on-demand architecture, Web-oriented architecture and software plus services--all sharing the same core element of virtualization."

IDC's 2010 top-ten CIO checklist highlights how companies can respond better and more dynamically to future market change. It also provides insights into how the choice of IT architecture can provide business technology a rapid and flexible way to revise, scale, upgrade and change BPM and workflows in minutes rather than in months.

IDC sees the top-ten issues that CIOs should be aware of as:

  1. Adopting an IT Recovery Strategy;
  2. Cost Reduction and the Dematerialization of IT;
  3. Cloud Migration 2010;
  4. Protecting Business from Disruptive Innovation and Subsequent Technology Churn;
  5. Security and Identity & Access Management;
  6. Cloud Multi-Tenancy is About Innovation;
  7. Virtual Private and Hybrid Cloud;
  8. Business Intelligence as a Service;
  9. Social Enterprise Architecture; and
  10. Green IT.

For more information, visit www.idc.com.

Related Articles:

How IT is Set Up to Fail

Death by ITIL: How IT departments streamline themselves into oblivion

Cloud migration services: vSphere, C3, Cloud IQ Manager & Cloudkick


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HP looking into claim webcams can't see black people

By Mallory Simon, CNN, December 23, 2009

A YouTube video shows co-workers trying out an HP webcam with motion-tracking and facial recognition software.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Video was meant to be humorous showing of software glitch, co-workers say
  • Co-workers: Motion-tracking webcam moves with white woman, not black man
  • "I think my blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow me," user says
  • HP: "Camera may have trouble 'seeing' contrast" in poor lighting conditions

(CNN) -- Can Hewlett-Packard's motion-tracking webcams see black people? It's a question posed on a now-viral YouTube video and the company says it's looking into it.

In the video, two co-workers take turns in front of the camera -- the webcam appears to follow Wanda Zamen as she sways in front of the screen and stays still as Desi Cryer moves about.

HP acknowledged in a statement e-mailed to CNN that the cameras may have issues with contrast recognition in certain lighting situations. The webcams, built into HP's new computers, are supposed to keep people's faces and bodies in proportion and centered on the screen as they move.

The video went viral over the weekend, garnering more than 400,000 YouTube page views and a slew of comments on Twitter.

It was something neither Zamen nor Cryer expected to happen.

Zamen said she and Cryer, her co-worker, were playing around with the computer at work and testing it when they stumbled upon the facial recognition feature.

Cryer and Zamen said they were laughing when they realized the camera followed her and not him.

"We thought it was pretty funny, we thought it was hilarious," Zamen said.

So they made a video, which they planned to just share with friends on Facebook and YouTube. There was no script, no rehearsal, just two friends filming what they thought was a hilarious software glitch.

So again, the two took turns in front of the camera.

"As soon as my blackness enters the frame, it stopped," Cryer says in the video.

"Black Desi gets in there, no face recognition anymore, buddy," he says.

YouTube.com: Watch the video

"I think my blackness is interfering with the computer's ability to follow me," he continues.

But now that the video has gotten so much attention, the two co-workers want everyone, including HP, to know they never intended the video to spark a discussion about whether the webcam was racist.

Zamen said she liked the computer so much, she suggested Cryer get one for his wife.

"The intent was definitely not to go after HP, it just so happened the computer was an HP and we recognized the software glitch," Cryer said.

"We did it for laughs, but if the video does make HP put out a better product, then great," Zamen added.

HP was quick to react, too.

The company quickly posted on the it's blog, TheNextBench.com, on Sunday after the video went viral, responding to concerns.

"The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose," wrote Tony Welch, the lead social media strategist for HP's Personal Systems Group. "We believe that the camera might have difficulty 'seeing' contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting."

TheNextBench.com: Read the statement on HP's blog

Meanwhile, Welch pointed users facing similar problems to HP's help page, which provides guidance on how to change the lighting or other optimization settings on the camera.

HP.com: See the HP help page

On Monday HP also told CNN in a corporate statement that the issue is most likely related to lighting, but they are looking into the situation further.

"HP has been informed of a potential issue with facial-tracking software. Consistent with other webcams, proper foreground lighting is required for the product to effectively track any person and their movements," the statement said. "As with all our products, we continue to explore refinements which help to optimize their use."

Cryer and Zamen said they've heard similar feedback from commenters online offering ideas on fixing the lighting.

The co-workers' video has also sparked others to try the product.

After media coverage of the YouTube video, Consumer Reports did its own testing of the product to see if the YouTube video portrayal was accurate.

ConsumerReports.org: Watch testing of the webcam feature

In standard lighting, the webcam didn't move with an African-American male as it did with a white male. But after lighting sources were added, the webcam was able to track the African-American male's face and movements.

CNN's Mythili Rao and Rachel Sherman contributed to this report.

Death by ITIL: How IT departments streamline themselves into oblivion

By Ilya Bogorad , Special to ZDNet Asia, Wednesday, December 23, 2009 11:03 AM

When it comes to your IT shop, don't put frameworks and methodologies ahead of objectives, an expert advises.

You may or may not know magpies. They are rather large birds from the crow family, with pretty black and white suits, who exhibit an irresistible attraction to small shiny objects, such as spoons, foil, and small mirrors. Most of the objects procured by magpies end up stashed at the bottom of their nests, neglected after the initial feat of fascination.

It strikes me that many if not most departments fall victim to the same kind of fascination, when it comes to various frameworks and methodologies du jour. CMM and CMMI, PMBoK or Prince 2, ITIL and COBiT, Agile (I cannot bring myself to listing its gazillion flavors), TQM and Lean, Six Sigma, RUP, and all that crackle and pop ad infinitum.

If you have been in this profession long enough, you know that every few years a new fad diet comes along.

Please don't get me wrong, every IT or management methodology has at least some value to it. Toyota Production System is behind one of the most efficient car manufacturers in the world. Agile, when used correctly in the right environment, helps to create product when the "big upfront design" approach is ineffective or impossible. Key PMBoK or Prince 2 concepts are a must for any project management professional.

What I do find troubling is that IT management nearly always disregards the fact that methodology is secondary to objectives. If only could they ask themselves a simple question of "What are we trying to achieve?" more often! We could achieve results more expeditiously, while avoiding unnecessary and time-consuming undertakings.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. When the only answer one has to any IT management question is "ITIL", you can be sure that it's not going to end well.

A couple of years ago, one IT leader proudly told me about his department's great success with ITIL. When I asked for an example, he said: "Well, for instance, we used to close tickets without asking the user whether they can be closed. Now we always ask and users appreciate that."

If you are in charge of IT operations and cannot figure this out on your own without ITIL, you are probably in the wrong line of work.

How to paint yourself in the corner using best practices

Whenever I am engaged by an organization to advance their IT department, I often look at the current state with the following two variables in mind:

  • Operational capabilities. How do internal clients rate IT service? Are outages common? Are people knowledgeable in their respective disciplines? In other words, if this were a standalone company, would they be known as rendering good service?

  • Strategic awareness. Does the CIO appear engaged in the corporate strategy on par with other C-level colleagues? Is the IT department seen as a valuable asset, an inseparable vital organ of the corporate body? Does IT management and staff understand the business their organization is in? Does IT innovate incessantly, propelling their organization forward?

This approach is similar to application of the Gardner's magic quadrant, except that they use it to look at whole industry sectors and I apply it internally to IT departments.

Here are the four states I usually find organizations to be in, depending on the behavior of these two variables:

1. Morass (Ops -, Strategy -)

The quality of IT service is below par. Outages are common. Business often finds itself in a situation where the technology is seen as a limiting factor. Project management is haphazard and the rate of project failure is high.

The IT department views itself is a support function, akin to facilities management. There is often a strong "them vs. us" sentiment among the IT staffers in reference to the "rest of the business".

This state has been a common occurrence until outsourcing became a norm. If you are a new CIO entering a department like this, be warned (as you likely have been!) that you don't have decades to turn things around.

2. Growing pains (Ops -, Strategy +)

IT services are unpredictable. Outages may be common. Operations may be haphazard, with key tools missing or jury-rigged. There is a sense that "too many things are on the go".

At the same time, CIO is one of the key people within the organization. IT managers have a very good understanding of the core business. IT comes up with solutions that wow their business colleagues. There is a lineup of future projects and noteworthy ideas on a whiteboard.

This state is usually transient and is typical for startups or organizations that underwent a major surgery.

3. Reliable service provider (Ops +, Strategy -)

The department is seen as a reliable provider of IT services, no more, no less.

4. Vital asset (Ops +, Strategy +)

Excellent in what they do operationally, IT staff and management see themselves (and are seen in the same way from the outside of the IT department) as a major catalyst in propelling the company forward. Innovation is a norm and is not a mindless tinkering but a quest guided by excellent knowledge of the industry, keen business sense and the understanding of business priorities.

The CIO is one of the most respected executives within the organization. He or she reports to the CEO and is never looked at as a senior "propeller head" but as a wise decision maker, a strategist and a businessperson.

IT departments that become infatuated with ITIL and that pour enormous resources into aligning with it, will achieve, at best, the third state, reliable service provider. Often seen as the best outcome one could hope for, it is not.

These IT departments will find themselves rather more expensive than before, with new staff--IT bureaucrats--hired to monitor and enforce compliance with procedures.

At the same time, they will have established an almost arm's length relationship with the business, having documented services that they render and SLAs that come with it, much like a third-party vendor. Their service, even if it is excellent, is now a commodity.

On top of that, they will have lost their flexibility and agility, due to numerous documentation steps, signoffs and approvals--even though they are there with a good intention to protect the integrity of the vital systems.

In today's economic environment when responsible fiscal management (often, ruthless cost cutting) is a must, the only possible question that can pop in the head of a CEO in this scenario is "Can I not get a comparable service that wouldn't cost that much?"

They can and they do. Having painted themselves in the corner by following a "state of the art" methodology, many IT departments stand a good chance of becoming history.

On the other hand, those IT departments that exhibit both operational excellence and strategic awareness, find themselves completely immune to outsourcing, because they are not merely service providers, they are an indispensable part of the organization's economic engine.

What kind of IT department are you running today? What is your vision for your organization's future? How are you going to get there?

I have recently co-authored a white paper, which may outlines the vision and ideas that will help you to turn your department into a vital asset. You can download "Transformation or Travails: The imperative for IT's shift from support function to strategic asset" by clicking this link.

Ilya Bogorad is the principal of Bizvortex Consulting Group Inc, a management consulting company located in Toronto, Canada. Ilya specializes in building better IT organizations.