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03 -15

TECHNOLOGY

17 - 30

PRODUCTS

31 - 37

(FEATURE 13-24 )

BUSINESS

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Strait Times IPad App’s Popularity Mistaken for Cyber-attack

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Pamper Your Ears

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Local Tech Start-Ups quietly flying the Singapore flag

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Technology “Bites”

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Wiring Up Your Music

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Four Ways to Make Your Business Awesome

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Introducing Nine Must-have Apps

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Cultivate a Different Eye

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Hearing Beautiful Voices on The Road

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Half Minute Hero: Super mega Neo Climax

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Be Loud

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Fishmonger accepts NETS

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FB What Fans Say?

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Hot Shot Products

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Red Factor Armageddon

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Help Desk

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FB “Unfriending” the Friendly Way ASSOCIATE EDITOR Bertha Henson

EDITOR

Grace Chng

WRITERS

Jimmy Yap Jasmine Osada Hellen Tan

SUB EDITORS Lee Yee Hwa Tong Ming Chien Julie Kee

CONTENT

ILLUSTRATOR

Quek Hong Shin

DESIGNER

Cherry Vanessa Ku

EDITORIAL INQUIRIES Badariah Ghaffar 6319-2199 stdled@sph.com.sg


STRAIT TIMES IPAD APP’S

POPULARITY MISTAKEN FOR CYBER-ATTACK “Looking at the response, we are confident that users love our app.”

BY JIMMY YAP

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At 8m on August 3, three days after The Strait Times launched its iPad app, the servers hosting content for the app suddenly appeared to be under attack from hacker. Without warning, traffic to the servers had doubled and the hosting company thought the server was facing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack. This intrusion happens when thousands of computers around the world attempt to access the server at the same time, putting the server and network under a massive load without any valid reasoning from the office.. The hosting company, which is based in Singapore, immediately took the server offline and called Buuck, the company which developed the iPad app and is responsible for delivering its content to users. Buuck co-founder Jon Petersen said: “ They told me they suspected a DDOS attack, then the hosting company did the right thing’.” Then

the hosting told Mr Petersen the attacks appeared to be coming from mobile networks in Singapore, specifically SingTel, M1, StarHub. That was when he realised it was not an attack after all. The huge number of users and the propensity for sudden spikes makes developing the ST iPad app a unique challenge for Buuck, which has also created Weatherlah, SG Polls and the ST iPhone app. It was not their only challenge. The Straits Times wanted the text to be laid out in three of four columns and in its own custom typeface. So Buuck had to develop a special content viewer and a special language, which Buuuk dubbed HCML, a play on HTML of hypertext markup language used for rendering webpages. HCML was named by software developer Muh Hon Cheng, who created his own language for the applicatio around 3 years ago.“ Looking at the great responses from

the past two weeks, we are confident that users love our app. There were glitches during the first few days but, together with Buuck, we actively ironed out the bugs based on the valuable feedback from our users.“My advice to users is to update the app whenever it is available in the App Store. It will only get better the updates and we thank our readers for their valuable and constant feedback.” Mr. Peterson said with strong confidence and delight during the interview.

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Technology “Bites” NINTENDO TO IPHONE

The Japanese game-maker had to cut prices of its 3-D portable game console last week as gamers deserted its consoles for Apple products. In Singapore, the price was driven down from $399 to $249. Now, investors are calling on Nintendo’s developers to come up with titles for iPhones and iPads and Facebook websites. However, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is sticking to his guns, declaring that the firm will deliver games for its own consoles as long as he is in charge.

HTC SIGNS UP DR. DRE

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Beats Electronics, co-founded by rapper Dr Dre, will be getting its earphones on more than celebrity ears soon. Phone maker HTC has bought a 51% stake in the company famous for its Dr Dre earphones and audio technology. HTC devices will be integrated with Beats, but there has been no indication if the earphones, which sell for as much as $600, will be bundled with HTC phones. The partnership wil not affect Beats’ existing business arrangements with other firms, such as Monster Cable and Hewlett-Packard.


CISCO AND ITE EXTEND CLASSROOM BORDERS Networking giant Cisco is taking its technology back to school. With the Institute of Technical Education as a partner, it will set up a centre which will showcase its technology and allow ITE students to interact with lecturers overseas. At ITE College West in Choa Chu Kang, the students will be able to make full use of Cisco’s expertise in collaborative echnologies, such as TelePresence and WebEx. Cisco will also offer internship programmes to ITE students and industry attachment stints to institute staff.

TWO IN FIVE GRADS WANT A BITE OF APPLE Graduates and undergrĂĽduates in Singapore have named consumer electronics giant Apple as the most popular employer for the second year in the row, according to the career portal JobsCentral. Nearly 40% of the more than 3,200 respondents surveyed listed Apple as the company they would most like to work for. Coming in second was Google.

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WINDOWS 7 TO LEAD PC PACK BY YEAR END Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system is expected to run on 42% of personal computers by the end of this year, according to market research firm Gartner. Its current market share is 28%. Launched in July 2009, Windows 7 is the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system and boasts improved performance on multi-core processors and boot-up timiings. Bigger IT budgets for this year and the next have accelerated the deployment of Windows 7 in corporate markets in the United States and markets in the United States andAsia-Pacific regions, Gartner noted. It does not expect other operating systems, such as Chrome, Android and webOS, to do much better than they are doing now because of application compatibility issues and Windows-centric corporate software.

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INTEL BANKS ON ULTRABOOKS Intel, theo world’s largest chipmaker, wants to speed up the development of ultrabooks, or ultra-thin notebook computers. It plans to spend US$300 million (S$362 million) over the next three to four years on companies that develop hardware engineering and software programs for ultrabooks. The devices are slimmer, lighter, faster, greener and can run all day without needing to be recharged. Its aim is to revolutionise the computing experience and re-engineering computers into the next ‘must-have device.” Asustek, Acer and Lenovo Group are expected to launch ultrabook computers in the third quarter of this year.


INTRODUCING NINE MUST-HAVE APPS

Get your smartphones smarter with these free apps!

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Tap Tap Glee

Alchemy

AirAsia

Free, from the Apple App Store

Free, from Chrome Web Store

Free, from the Android App Store

It is pretty clear that Singaporeans are fans of Glee. Tap Tap Glee brings together the finer tapping goodness of the tap-tap genre of games and the addittive music of the popular Glee TV show.

Once you get into the groove, Alchemy offers loads of fun as you figure out which combinations you need to produce new materials. Some, like “water+fire=steam,” are obvious to find.”

Star Alliance

Taproll

Free, from the Apple App Store

Free, from Chrome Web Store

Get quick access to bookings and other flight services with this app from Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia. Besides letting you search and book flights, you can view flight schedules, check out fare promotions and contact the airline for inquiries.

This is a useful app for people who fly regularly on airlines that belong to the Star Alliance, such as Singapore Airlines. You can search for a flight by flight by flight number, route or airport and check if it is on ime, enroute or has arrived.

Some of the world’s most stunning photos are at your fingertips with Taproll, a rich directory of images shot by professional photographers from 26 cities including Berlin, Shanghai and Tokyo. This giant portfolio samples the gamut, from architecture

Deal.com.sg

Free, from the Apple App Store

Deal.com.sg now has an iPhone app, which means that looking for new ways to spend money while thinking you are saving money has become a lot easier. The Deal.com. sg app allows you to quickily see new deals as well as all hthe most popular ones so you do not miss out.

Converter

Free, from Chrome Web Store

Use this simple tool to convert scientific units in one measurement system to another. With no room for mistakes, measurements are listed by categories, such as acceleration, mass, power, pressure and volume, among others.

Cracked Screen

Free, from the Android App Store

Scare the kids away with this app that makes your glass screen look as if it is broken. Most cracked screen apps make use of a static image but this app overlays the cracks on whatever is showing on your screen for a very realistic effect.

Mute-O-Matic

21-day trial, from Android Market

This is a life-saver for people who have problems keeping their phones in silent mode during meetings. MuteO-Matic will automatically mute your phone during busy periods and events.


HALF MINUTE HERO:

SUPER MEGA NEO CLIMAX RATING 7/10 . 800 Microsoft points . XBox Marketplace . Role playing game

My editor shot down the suggestion that I finish the review of this game in 30 seconds. After all, that is all the time you have to save the world. This game is ported from the smash PlayStation Portable (PSP) version. Developers Marvelous did a massive overhaul of the graphics, giving it a more cartoony, cutesy style. You must save the world, as evil overlords have been granted a spell to end it all. But the spell takes 30 seconds to cast so you need to get over to their castle and bump them off before this happens.

FACEBOOK WHAT FANS SAY? About getting a recycled mobile phone number and having to deal with unwanted callers: SHANN NG

The subordinate courts and law firms still call me every alternate month looking for a Mr. Koh.

IVAN ONG I got calls from a lovelorn person looking for a girl to whom my number had previously belonged. Luckily, he stopped after two calls. I even got billed for overseas calls I did not make

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The storyline is full of humorous ideas and offers great replayability. Levels often have options that open up new paths in the story. You are also given titles for completing certain objectives. One level, for instance, gives players the title, Seaweed lover, for defeating five seaweed monsters. While HalfMinute Hero still carries its humour well, much of its soul has been lost in the port over. Marvelous’ glaring mistake was to do away with the other modes found in the PSP version, such as Princess 30. This has killed six to seven hours of gameplay.

Instead, there are one-level versions named after them and the addition of a multiplayer Hero 300 mode: Save the world with friends in five minutes with no resets. The new graphics detract form the previous version’s tonguein-cheek parody of 8-bit graphics. The menu allows you to opt for it though and I recommend playing it that way. This version of Half-Minute Hero- is a sad cousin of its former glory but at least it is still cheap at 800 points.


RED FACTION

RATING: 7/10 (PS3) $69.90 (Xbox) $59.90 (PC)

ARMAGEDDON

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human forces at odds, and shouldering the blame for this war, Darius ability to annihilate his surroundings. The Magnet Gun may look like a door opener - players attach one end to an object and another to an anchor but you can tether an alien to one end or use the gun’s magnetic properties to reduce a structure to rubble when the weapon pulls at it form different angles. The shotgun, meanwhile, packs a wallop. One blast can clear a small area of alien beasts. It not only rips the alien creature to smithereens but also causes its surroundings to collapse. But what if Darius accidentally destroys something important? THis is where his unique ability to repair structures comes into play.

ROLLING

CHEAT SHEET

The destruction is intense and the action is aggressive but Red Faction: Armageddon, the latest in the Red Fraction series, has a slightly weak storyline, coupled with repetitive gameplay. The central character of Darius Mason, grandson of Alec Mason from the previous outing, Red Faction: Guerilla, enjoys none of the freedom his grandfather had on the planet Mars, where the story unfolds. Armageddon does away with the open sandbox gameplay of Guerilla and returns to its roots in a more controlled, linear shooting game. Without settlements to liberate, Darius is left to hunt down Maritian creatures that he was tricked into releasing by a fanatical priest. This game to a must-have. Superb weapons and easy-to-use controls do not compensate for bland voicing and graphics that would have benefited from more detail. Red Faction: Armageddon is non-stop action and thrills. It deviates a little from the previous game in the series and fans may find it an unfamiliar entry to the franchise. Witwwh alien and

The best way to run is actually to roll. By rolling, you can progress while dodging the attacks most of the time. It may not be as fun as spilling alien blood, but it gets you to the next wave of those creatures.

WEAPONS

I would recommend the shotgun as one of them. Use the shotgun ammunition sparingly but feel free to deploy it on boss levels or when you need to clear a path quickly.


HELP DESK WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR COM?

Email us at stdled@sph.com.sg

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Snow Leopard has undergone a depth of QA (Quality Assurance) that other point “oh” releases of Mac OS X have not. Usually, when digging through a new OS, one expects to find some breakage. Many have noticed and have considered it a known problem/ fact that some of the command line tools in previous versions of Mac OS X have returned errors codes when completing successfully and vice versa, or have mixed up their error and success codes (or stand out) in a willy-nilly fashion. A command line tool, when it runs successfully, is supposed to return an exit status of 0. However, at least since Mac OS X 10.3, the configure command has returned an exit status of something other than 0, which typically indicates an error condition. How do I know that? It’s because my application, Mac Help Mate has, for years, depended on that error to trigger a certain window to appear.

The syntax of the command is: configure get packet, if you’re using a secondary ethernet connection)So, while updating Mac HelpMate for Snow Leopard, I discovered that the window no longer appeared as it did in earlier versions. Either they started paying attention to bugs people filed (I was not one of the filers.)

“UNFRIENDING” THE FRIENDLY WAY If a cyber friendship on Facebook sours, hit the delete button and remove the person from your friends list. Should “unfriending” seem too impolite, simply block the person from seeing your posts. Here are some of the ways DL fans thought are the bes to “unfriend” Facebook contacts. Being direct and straightforward is the best way to end things. Said Ikemen Ikemen: “Just block and unfriend them directly. It’s not like I’m going to say, ‘See you next time, need to unfriend you.’ That doesn’t sound nice either.” So it all depends on us if you would like to do it the evil way or the polite way. Ultimately he or she whom you are going to block or unfriend will realize it anyway.

Unlike in reality wherebby we can easily delete a person’s phone number, ignore the person, or simply not show interest in meeting up. Muzammil Mohamad agreed: “Must we be diplomatic? In the first place, changes are that you are unfriending this person because you can’t stand him or her.” For some, blocking is a better choice. Jimmy Jim wrote: “ Block that person from viewing your wall, info, interests, etc. The person is thus just a ‘friend’ in name.” Johnny Singlish eases out the unwanted. He puts them on a list of people who are essentially frozen out. “Before I unfriend them, I will put them on the list for at least three months.

By Jasmine Osada


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WIRING UP YOUR 23

MUSIC Creative In Ear 3

Ultimate DQP

$355

These come with a promise to cut ambient noise by up to 92 percent. That “up to” promise is important. We doubt they hit 92 percent but even so, they did well. With noise cancelling turned on, the surroundings did become significantly quieter. The music çame through more clearly, especially if you were travelling in a bus or train. But in audiophile terms, they did not do so well. They could hit the low notes effortlessly but the bass lacked a solid feel. Mids were nice and smooth but the overall sound was not full-bodied.

The UE70 is the smalles t pair of headphones in this round-up but it is big on the sound. If you love classical music, you will want to give this set a spin. The sound stage had a nice width and height that made orchestra pieces sound great. High notes were very crisp and clear but the treble leaned towards the shrill at times. It has fairly good mid notes. Tunes were lush but came across as a little hard. Despite their tiny size, these in-ear headphones produced solud sounding bass.

$300 However, dance music fans who are used to stronger bass might prefer something else. The only accessories are a case and two sets of earbuds. The hoam ones do a better job than the silicon ones of blocking out sound. You are supposed to squash the earbuds before inserting them. THe foam then expands to fit your ears snugly. The headphones cables are coated with a smooth rubber finish. This design choice might make the UE700 look cheap but it works well to prevent tangling.


Panasonic RP

Bose Ear 200

$160

The bass had a comforting resonance and was very satisfying, but it would have been even better if it had a little more impact. What we did take issue with the rubber coating on the headphone’s cables , which seemed to cause them to twist into impossible knots that took some patience to untangle. Overall, these are a great pair of headphones that deliver decent sound and are highly portable. But their pedigree simply makes you expect more from them.

$230

These are not noise-cancelling earphones but the thick covers do a decent job of keeping out ambient sound. The earcups can be folded flat and would be easy to carry around if the lightweight plastic construction did not feel so flimsy. The overall sound was solid and had plenty of detail, with a nice clear treble. However, the mids came across as slightly harsh and cold. The sound stage was good, with a nice width that was especially significant in live recordings.

The unconventional squarish design of these in-ear headphones takes some getting used to when you put them on. As with some of the newer designs, the cables are meant to be pushed back to rest behind your ears. Coupled with the odd tilt of the earbuds, they took some adjusting before we got a comfortable snug fit. Bass tones were impressively deep, with enough impact to keep dance and techno music fans happy. Madonna’s Die Another Day for example, came through beautifully.

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CULTIVATE A DIFFERENT ‘EYE’ Tilt your camera, hold it at different heights and be bold with your framing, says TAN CHONG YAW

Some of us handle the camera as if it is some kind of spirit level. It is a natural instinct; we tend to hold the camera either horizontally or vertically when taking pictures. But the eye and th brain are not stimulated by the usual bang-on shots. Stop being straight-laced and experiment with different camera positions to spice up your shots. The fun in using a compact camera is that it is easy to position it at any angle you want. Unlike with a DSLR camera, which needs your eye to be at the viewfinder to frame a photo, you can vary the orientation of a compact camera without needing to contort your body. For buildings, you do not need to align your camera with the horizon. Just turn the camera until the building fills the display in a more interesting way. This is not hard and fast rule. For instance, if the corner of a building is eye-catching an you are shooting on a day when the sky is a beautiful blue, capture just that corner and fill the rest of the frame with the sky. When shooting group photos, frame at least one shot such that the group is to one side of the photo. This adds context to a photo and reminds you where it was taken. After you have framed your shot ta

After you have framed your shot taking into account the level of the camera and the eagle, take one more step. Literally. Take one step closer. Particularly for people shots, bringing the camera closer to your subjects enhances the intimacy of the composition. Filling the frame or going in closer is a quick and sure-fire way to improve a photo. It cuts out extraneous objects and background that distract attention and distance viewer form the subject Beginners usually take shots with the camera at head lead level. When taking a photo of a child, bring the camera to the level of the child’s head or even lower. That allows for a more intimate shot instead of one from an adult’s perspective. Remember to experiment by angling the camera. A slight tweak of the angle or position of your subject can make a difference. Sometimes holding a camera higher than head level also works. Think of the paparazzi lifting their camera clear of the heads of people in a crowd.

The change in perspective allows the photo to capture more than if it were at eye level. If a car is your subject, bring the camera almost to the level fo the license plate. It makes the car look more imposing. Leaf through any car magazine and you will find many images shot form a low level. One more tweak can be done even after you have made all yours shots. Some things can be fixed with photo-editing software. Crop the photo tight, slicing away the parts around a subject, so that the subject fills the frame. Rotate the photo to give you a different angle. Then crop the rotated photo into a rectangle and no one will be able to tell that it was not shot that way. The one aspect of an image that cannot be altered with a photoediting tool is the level of the shot. So, take your photos form a variety of levels - with your camera held overhead, below the waist and at other heights. Aim to get a fresh point of view. Just try your (un)level best.


$399

ARON TAN picks the coolest iPod docks and Bluetooth speakers

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ZiiSOUND D5X

The ZiiSound D5x is a modular system you can configure. A standalone speaker can be combined with a DSx wireless subwoofer to boost the bass effects in a 2.1 -channel set-up. Or add more D5x units for a multi-channel home theatre system. The D5x’s additional BT-D5 wireless module can be plugged into Apple devices to enhance audio quality. Music transmitted through it is processed with the apt-X audio codec.

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IHOME IA-100

This all-in-one compact dock gives you an alarm clock, FM radio receiver and built-in speakerphone you can use as a wireless speaker. Compatible with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, the iHome iA100 plays music directly from Apple devices or wirelessly from any smartphone that supports Bluetooth audio streaming.

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$1,100

BOSE SOUNDDOCK

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As the pioneer of iPod docks, Bose has consistently delivered great -sounding speakers which cater to the Apple crowd The latest iteration maintains its distinctive style. It delivers tight bass and pristine vocals that do not distort even at top volume. Its audio quality is matched only by the Zeppelin Air. At 8.4kg, the dock is hefty, largely because of its rear-firing subwoofer that rolls out the lows. The upside of a rock-solid, heavy boom box is the ability to absorb reverberations emanating form the enclosure.

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JAWBONE JAMBOX Jawbone Jambox will not replace fullfledged desktop speakers but the sound waves it generates pack more punch than the puny pipes of your laptops and smartphones. It is hard to fault a boom box this size. Connect it to a laptop with a standard headphone jack or stream tunes over Bluetooth from an iPhone.

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HOT SHOT FUJIFILM FINEPIX F600EXR

$539 16 Megapixels Designed for travellers New motion detection, lesss blur 15x Optical zoom Global positioning system Panorama mode, 360 degree 1,080- Full high definition quality

PANASONIC LUMIX GF3

12.1 Megapixels Micro Four Thirds MOS sensor 14mm wide angle lens High quality image Small and compact

SONY DSLR T-A35

$899

PRODUCTS

$1099 16.2 Megapixels Sharp LCD Weather descriptions Full-HD camcorder-grade movie For DSLR beginners Electronic viewfinder (EVF)

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LOCAL TECH START-UPS

QUIETLY FLYING THE SINGAPORE FLAG WHO ARE THEY? WHERE ARE THEY HIDDEN? BY SHARON ONG

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Home-grown tech companies have made a huge impact in Singapore and around the world, but they are not yet household names. Peoples know about the shoe and handbag retailer Charles and Keith, the bakery BreadTalk and the restaurant chan Crystal Jade because they are very visable in shopping malls here and around the region. But ask them to name a successful home-grown tech firm and changes are, if they know any at all, it will be Creative Technologies, whose famous Sound Blasters let computers talk and sing. It went on to dominate the global market in sound cards and, in 1992, became the first Singapore firm to list on the American tech stock exchange Nasdaq.But Sim Wong Hoo’s vehicle is far from being the only company that powered local infocomm industry revenue to the tune of $70.39 billion last year. There have been others like it that have made a regional impact. Systems integrators CSA and Frontline both built pan-Asian offices and sold them off-CSA to Computer Science Corporation and Frontline

to British Telecom-for hundreds of millions. Local tech consumer companies have also made quite a splash. It is hard to avoid Challenger’s 23 stores in Malaysia. Started 28 years ago, it has made its founder, Mr Loo Leong They, not only a legend in computer retailing, but also a very rich man. In the first half of this year, its revenue grew 52 per cent to $158 million. Another home-grown hero, Razer, makes beautifully crafted gaming devices, such as mice and keyboards, which gamers around the world crave for. A recent release is the Naga, an ergonomic wireless mouse with LED backlighting and a 12 button keypad. It delivers the precision needed for playing massively multiplayer online games. Razer also has mice for ambidextrous gamers and notebook gamers. Razer does not publish its financial data as the company is privately held. But it is believed to earn hundreds of millions annually. Then there is XMI, known for its X-mini capsule speaker which fits in the palm of your hand. At

the Cebit IT expo in Hanover, Germany, three years ago, several.Asian exhibitors showed X-mini clones, a sure sign of world promise. XMI now sells its products in 80 countries and is a major sponsor of the fast-expanding genre of extreme sports, including last month’s Summer X Games in Los Angelos. These are just a few companies doing us proud. Theirs may not be the names on everybody’s lips, shoes or shopping bags, but they are Singapore’s unsung tech heroes. So the next time you buy a tech gadget, check out the fine print and see it, behind that clever idea and beautiful design, its creator is quietly flying the flag for the Republic. Mr Tan Min Liang, the founder of Razer has turned the home grown tech firm into a global player. Home-grown tech companies have made a huge impact in Singapore and around the world, but they are not yet household names. Peoples know about the shoe and handbag retailer Charles and Keith because they are very visible in shopping malls here and around the region.


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JUST HAVE FUN

FOUR WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS 02 AWESOME 04 03 BE UNIQUE

BY DENIAL GOH

Are you offering something novel? After all, who would be interested in just another daily deal or e-commerce site? For example, Zappos.com sells shoes online. Sounds boring but what it offers is amazing customer service that has become the gold standard of any e-commerce experience.

As someone who blogs about start-ups and entrepreneurship, I often come across founders who have taken their companies to a certain level only to struggle to achieve a breakthrough. To succeed, you need to create a certain halo effect to take your company from mediocre to exceptional. Here are four ideas to make your start-up.

Running a startup is serious business. But one way to be awesome is to bring an element of fun into what you do. There is a reason why great companies like Google make their offices a fun to work and live in.

BE READY FOR PRIME TIME

How you present yourself and your start-up is very important when you want ot make the right impression on the right people. The MAKE A media and potential DIFFERENCE customers are Creating a naturally attracted successful to interesting, business is good; dynamic people making money is who present even better. But themselves well. when what you If you are shy or are offering adds socially inept, concrete, tangible consider investing value to people’s in courses on lives, it takes your social skills, start-up to a whole presentation and new dimension. As public speaking. entrepreneur and start up investor Guy Kawasaki said: “Those companies that are founded to change the world, to make the world a better place, to make meaning, are the companies that make the difference.”

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HEARING BEAUTIFUL VOICES ON THE ROAD TAN CHONG YAW TELLS YOU HOW TO GO DIGITAL IN YOUR CAR.

35 The music from 100 CD changers packed into a device that weighs les than a $1 coin. So what? Any USB flash drive can do that. But can you pump music from that tiny gizmo into your car’s sound system? You can, with the right head unit. That is what the in-car entertainment industry calls the player in the car’s dashboard. The player must make nice with audio files such as MP3, WMA and WAV. From Lady Gaga to La Boheme and Little House On the Prairie on an audiobook, if you can get a title into a format recognised by the player, you can enjoy it in your car. Some players offer an USB port on the front panel. Just plug a flash drive directly into the port and the player should be able to play the contents. Other designs require a connection at the rear of the unit. A head unit extending more than 15cm into the dashboard has connections to the power antenna, speakers and chassis. A technician’s help is needed. An additional adapter kit, which is available with a USB port that can be accessed in the glove compartment, is available. Some unites have a slot for an SD card.

For iPhone and iPod users, there are designs that let you connect your device to the head unit and co http:// reviews.cnet.com/i/bto/20091006/ SkyDock_In-vehicle_landscape.jpg ntrol it through the unit. This a safer and easier, as head units offer a larger display and hard buttons that can be operated by feel instead of a touchcreen that provides no tactile clues. Some units may require you to install an adapter kit, which is a cable ending with an iPod connecter. A word of warning,: Not all unites with USB ports are iOS0 friendly. Check the specifications. Look for a white iPod- like logo in the brochure that says “Made for iPod, iPhone.” The plus point with such set-ups logo in the brochure that says “Made for IPod, iPhone.” If your music resides in other sorts of MP3 do not expect frills such as album artwork. Tough luck if you are using other smartphones as music players. But there is still a way for porting your music to your car if the head unit has an auxiliary input. This is a 3.5mm port like the one for earphones in your music player.

But instead of plugging in an earphone, you stick in a stereo cable with a 3.5mm plug at both ends. Many cars come with a speaker in each door. For clearer sound, component speakers that incorporate two speakers- a tweeter and mid-range-in each of the front doors are mid-range. Set aside $600 for speaker upgrade inclusive of installation. It should take around 2.5 hours. Those who are finicky about sound can choose high-end head units that can calibrate the delay of the signal to each speaker such that the sound from all speakers reach the driver’s sub-centimetre precision.

XM SkyDock commandeers iPhone’s display, car’s speakers


Happy Fishes, a seafood stall, has become the first wet market vendor to offer cashlesspayment on Nets. It started this week. Its owner, Mr Lee Leong Chye, who runs stall numer 01-123 in Tiong Bahru market, said he has been wanting to offer his cutomers thte option to pay by Nets for years. He first asked for a point of sale terminal, or POS for short, three years ago. The snag was that it has to be wired to a telephone line to process transactions. That was not ideal for a wet market. Finally, Nets has a wireless POS with a keypad with raised buttons, which is suitable for “water, fish blood and scales,” said Mr Lee. The raised buttons make it easier to key in instructions to complete a transaction.

Its wireless feature means that no wires will be snaking across wet floors. He has hired an assistant to gut fish so he can keep his hands clean and dry to use the Nets POS and serve customers. Nets is the provider of the Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sal network for banks and merchants. It was set up in 1985. Customers pay with their ATM cards. Their bank accounts are debited directly when they key in a PIN number., authorising the transaction at the POS. Happy Fishes specialises in live seafood. Premium prices mean that a week’s worth f seafood can come to more than $100. Nets is convenient for customers, said Mr Lee, as they do not have to worry about not having enough cash to pay for the seafood.

Happy Fishes is the only wet market vendor to sign up, said Nets. It has 63,000 POS units in use. EZ-Link is the other Singapore company promoting cashless payment to small business, convenience stores and food beverages outlets. EZ-Link already has 15,000 terminals installed in non-transport businesses and has issued about 10 million cards or about two for every resident here. Nets and EZ-Link continue to compete in the card game while embracing a new battlefront. Nets has developed the iNets Mobile app and EZ-Link, the EZ-Link Mobile App, for mobile payments. EZ-Link’s Mr Lee said his company plans to use a “bridging” NFC technology while waiting for the IDA’s NFC infrastructure to be set up.

FISHMONGER

ACCEPTS

NETS Mr Lee Leong Chyeis is the only wet market vendor to offer customers cashless payment. Will others follow his lead and take the bait too? REPORTED BY HELLEN TAN

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EZ-Link and the Network of Electronic Transfers Singapore, or Nets for short, have issued millions of cards for cashless payment and are already gearing up for payments via mobile phones. Both introduced mobile payments this year. The EZ-Link Mobile App for the Apple iOS and Android platforms debuted last month. This app is the mobile version of the EZ-Link Card and will use the same readers that are found on trains and buses, as well as top-up machines and AXS stations. Just tap the phone to pay or place the phone on the reader to top up. Mr Nicholas Lee, EZ-Link’s executive director plans to move the company beyond being a public transport card provider, which was its original role when the Land Transport Authority set up EZ-Link as a subsidiary in 2002. Cashless payment for train and bus fares is its anchor application. Its payment infrastructure now enables the company to offer more card and phone payment services. Soon it will begin to promote the use of Near Field Communications or NFC, a short-range wireless communications of NFC readers to communicate and conclude transactions within a 4cm distance. Nets, which is owned by the three Singapore bank offers iNets Mobile, a payment gateway for Nets merchants to build payment applications. The ticketing provider Sistic is already using it. In addition, Nets already offers a prepaid card called FlashPay. Under testing is a mobile version on a micro-SD card with an antenna that will communicate with existing FlashPay readers and users just tap the hand set on the reader to pay. FlashPay is a direct competitor with the EZ-Link card in public transport payments and also in retail stores, convenience shops and food stalls, among other places. Now, the Infocomm Development Authority is promoting the use of NFC in cashless payment. It expects that by April or May, payment services by NFC should be online. Within a month or two, IDA expects to name the contractor who will set up the mobile NFC infrastructure and payment services via a trusted third-party. But first, the appropriate cellphones must be available.


BY HELLEN TAN

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BATTLE FOR THE ELECTRONIC WALLET EZ-LINK AND NETS ARE TAKING THEIR CASHLESS PAYMENT BATTLE TO THE MOBILE PHONE.


Digital Life Magazine 14 November Issue  

Redesign of an entire Digital Life Magazine.

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