Monday, 4 June 2018

CYBERSECURITY? -- PAH!!!!!!!

Having spent most of my working life in activities related to electronics, telecommunications and information technology, I am glad that I have an old fashioned, "dumb" card and no "gee-whiz" wireless locking and unlocking system but an old fashioned locking system where I must use and old fashioned physical key in the slot to lock or unlock my car.

Call me a "Luddite", well thanks for the insult.

When the Internet of Things (IoT) mania kicks in, watch the "fun".

Old is gold! Don't forget that.

Read on:-

thestar.com.my

Why you should keep your car keys in a metal coffee can - Tech News




Top cybersecurity experts would never hang car keys on a hook near the back door or leave them sitting on a kitchen counter. The best strategy to prevent theft? Store the key fob in an old-fashioned metal coffee can. 

“Really, some cyber experts don't go to sleep without putting their key into a metal container,” said Moshe Shlisel, a veteran of the Israeli Air Force and now CEO of GuardKnox Cyber Technologies. “It's called a Faraday Cage. You block the electromagnetic field.” 

Copying code from vehicle key fobs is easy. Tech thieves can do it from outside your home or a motel. Then they can steal a vehicle or just gain access without owners realising they've been violated. 

Cybersecurity companies, including the team at GuardKnox, are working with the Detroit Three and automakers globally to create protections that deter hackers who covet new cars and the data stored in them. 

Within the past 90 days, GuardKnox has been granted three US patents including a “Communication Lockdown Methodology” that prevents attackers from entering a vehicle's ecosystem. The patent covers trucks, buses, ships, planes, drones and even spaceships. The methodology has been implemented in fighter jets and missile defence systems. 

“Vulnerability is everywhere. The fob is a symptom,” Shlisel said in a phone interview from his office just south of Tel Aviv. “You're exposed to many attack vectors. Remember your computer 20 years ago? There weren't firewalls. What happens if someone takes control of your car while you're on the highway with two kids inside and you can't do anything? You're doomed. And that can be done today.” 

This is not sci-fi. This is real life. This is the reality of a wireless, connected world where car doors lock with a click and a chirp, where children in the backseat stream videos, where back-up cameras make parking easy, where driver assist prevents accidents and companies can update software technology remotely. 

“Connectivity introduces cyber risk,” said Faye Francy, executive director of the non-profit Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Centre, which specializes in cybersecurity strategies. 

While auto industry engineers know a lot about traditional safety, quality, compliance and reliability challenges, cyber is an “adaptive adversary”, she said. 

“It's an ever-changing, emerging threat that requires diligence in every aspect of design through operations – it's not a simple engineering fix,” Francy said. “And as we move into smart cities and autonomy, the interconnectedness provides greater efficiencies and safety but also introduces potential risk into the broader global ecosystem.” 

Needed: A cyber-Club 

Remember the heavy steel devices – some called them Kryptonite Clubs – that drivers attached to their steering wheels back in the 1980s and '90s? Well, now industry must find this on their networks to protect against hackers. 

“Today we're in an interconnected society, from our computer to our phones to our cars to our homes. We need Kryptonite bars on the network,” Francy said. “Automakers are starting to implement security features in every stage of design and manufacturing. This includes the key fob. Cybersecurity diligence is the cost of doing business in the digital age today.” 

In 2015, the Detroit Three and 11 other automakers formed the group that shares, tracks and analyses potential cyber threats, vulnerabilities and incidents related to the connected vehicle in North America, Europe and Asia. One company's detection of a potential attack may mean another company's prevention of a security breach, Francy noted. 

Shlisel, whose board of directors includes executives who served on the board at GM, said digital firewalls are essential. “If you don't have a mechanism that can protect his communication from someone replicating them, then it's a no-brainer. Companies sell things legitimately on Amazon to clone transmission from a vehicle. This is called 'the man in the middle attack' or 'the relay attack'.” 

So while consumers love the convenience that connectivity offers and are willing to pay more for enhanced technology, connectivity has a price. 

“People call it the internet of things or, as I like to say, 'The internet of threats',” Francy said. “You can't read the newspaper without reading about another cyberattack.” 

Companies that specialize in hacking protection won't reveal how frequently they're able to hack vehicles or how easily. Said one cybersecurity researcher, “Our job isn't to embarrass the industry." Some automakers said they didn't want to discuss the topic for fear of being perceived as challenging hackers. 

Vehicles with easy remote access definitely offer benefits. 

In 2017, Tesla remotely and temporarily enhanced the battery capacity, and therefore driving range, of its Tesla vehicles for owners in Florida who were trying to escape Hurricane Irma. 

But too often, these tactics can be used for evil, industry observers say. 

Real and growing threat 

Dan Sahar, vice president of product for Upstream, a cybersecurity startup based in Silicon Valley, said the risk of a widespread cyberattacks on vehicles is real and growing. 

Vehicles are vulnerable in part because of the complexity of the software, with hundreds of millions of lines of code, said Sahar, whose company focuses on cybersecurity for the cloud, watching for and stopping anomalies. 

With so many lines of code, bugs are bound to exist, he said, and “if there's a bug, the hacker can utilise the bug”. 

But it's not clear how quickly, or even if, the public would learn about a mass hack on a group of vehicles. 

“Some companies don't ever admit it. You know Uber got hacked. When did you learn about it? You learned about it (more than a year) after it happened,” Sahar said. 

“In that case, hackers stole the data of 57 million Uber users. Rather than report the incident, Uber paid the hackers US$100,000 (RM398,280) to delete the stolen data and keep it secret.” 

The consequences of a cyberattack on moving vehicles are especially frightening. 

The most famous, or infamous, incident involved a Jeep Cherokee in 2015. Hackers were able to interfere with the Jeep as it drove on a St. Louis-area highway in traffic. The cybersecurity researchers were able to disable the car's transmission and brakes, and, while the vehicle was in reverse, take over the steering wheel. 

That incident damaged the reputation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though it was not the only company hurt; the connection that allowed the hack in the first place came through a cellular network, Sahar said, noting that because automakers rely on so many suppliers, many more potential vulnerabilities exist. 

Of course, the Jeep hack is just one example. 

In 2017, Chinese security researchers had hacked a Tesla Model X for the second time, “turning on the brakes remotely and getting the doors and trunk to open and close while blinking the lights in time to music streamed from the car's radio”, according to USA TODAY

In response to inquiries from the Free Press, a number of automakers including the Detroit Three acknowledged ongoing efforts to address cybersecurity. 

As vehicle connectivity continues to evolve, GM continues to strengthen cybersecurity protections, said spokesman Tom Wilkinson. “GM's three-pillar approach employs defence-in-depth, monitoring and detection, and incident response capabilities to protect our customers, their vehicles, and their data.” 

Fiat Chrysler, which established a bug bounty program in 2016, emphasised it has a group dedicated to preventing, detecting and responding to cybersecurity risks. The company “is deploying both hardware and software technologies to protect against cyberintrusions”, and partnering with others, said Sandra Hosler, senior manager of vehicle cyber security. 

Meanwhile, Ford puts out the most news releases in the mobility industry relating to smart cities and connected vehicles. It is a favourite topic for CEO Jim Hackett. 

While Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton didn't offer specifics on cybersecurity, she did say the company takes security and data privacy very seriously. “We will continue to evolve our processes and policies to ensure transparency, security and privacy as we expand our offering of connected products and services that improve our customers' lives and the communities in which we operate.” 

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler and Tesla pointed to their bounty programs that help identify and reduce cybersecurity threats. 

A Tesla spokesperson said, “We have staffers dedicated to constantly stress-testing, validating and updating our safeguards. They focus on this daily. Meaning, we don't put the onus solely on bounty program participants to identify threats, but they are important in helping Tesla ensure we are always safeguarding our products.” 

Cybersecurity experts said they often have at least two vehicles, one that's older and one that offers the luxuries of cameras and new technology “because it's safer”. — Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service

https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2018/06/04/why-you-should-keep-your-car-keys-in-a-metal-coffee-can/





Yours truly


IT.Scheiss

Thursday, 31 May 2018

HOW DOES MALAYSIA EXPECT TO BECOME A DEVELOPED NATION BY 2020 WITH THESE STANDARDS ????

Twenty four hour eateries are the rage amongst Malaysians, including middle class Malaysians and I have suffered being dragged to them by friends and acquaintances to sit for hours talking the same dull political topics repeated over and over again like a broken record each time, as if by doing that, they can solve the issue.

And with some exceptions, the standard of service at most of the 24-hour eateries is awful, with waiters, almost all foreign workers from the poorer parts of India or Bangladesh, and very often understaffed, overworked and with hardly any time to respond to customers' service requests, especially during peak periods.

I have found the quality of service and food much better at eateries which do not operate 24 hours and this includes small food stalls operated by individual owners, such as those in municipal food courts and food courts in shopping malls.

I place the fault fairly and squarely on the Malaysian owners and managements of these 24-hour eateries - especially the chain eateries, who appear to cut corners and not bother to train their workers in proper practices and who seem to be mostly concerned with raking in tonnes of money every day from customers, including urban, educated, English-literate, middle class customers, whose standards are so low that they are willing to accept sub-standard service as long as some food item there, such as the chapatti, the thosai or the Milo tastes nice to them. Such customers will eat curried excreta as long as it tastes nice.

On 12 September 2017, Mimi Haris posted a video on You Tube proclaiming that Raj Restaurant in Bangsar is the "Best banana leaf restaurant in KL (Kuala Lumpur)"
BEST BANANA LEAF RESTAURANT IN KL (SEPTEMBER 2017 VLOG) - Courtesy Mimi Haris You Tube Channel 12 September 2017

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a banana leaf restaurant is an Indian restaurant which serves food on pieces of natural banana leaf, which is disposed of once it has used, much like a paper plate. Banana leaves have traditionally been used to wrap cooked food in and being naturally biodegradable, they are more environmentally friendly than the plastic sheets increasingly being used today, though people still enjoy the novemty of eating food off a banana leaf.

However today, some use synthetic "banana leaves" made of laminated, green coloured paper, green coloured rectangular plastic plates, regular round plastic plates or stainless steel metal food trays.

On 29 May 2019, a shocking video went viral on social media, showing staff of the 24-hour Raj's eatery in the Bangsar suburb of Kuala Lumpur washing stainless steel metal trays with what looks like muddy water from a pothole in the back lane immediately behind the restaurant.
(If you cannot view the embedded images, please enable "viewing images" in your e-mail client)

Click on this link below to see the video on The Malaysian Insight's You Tube channel.
Worker's at Raj Banana Leaf restaurant in Bangsar caught washing dishes with dirty water - Courtesy The Malaysian Insight 29 May 2018

(Surprise, surprise! The Malaysian Insight which was suspended due to lack of funds before the 9th 2018 May general elections has come back to life again.)

Anyway, Star Online published a You Tube video, in which it cited an apology posted by Raj's management on its Facebook page, blaming its new staff as being responsible for this gross violation of customers' health and assuring customers that this is not normal for Raj's and will not happen again.
Raj's Banana Leaf claims dishes washed in murky water by new staff members - Courtesy StarTV 29 May 2018

However, StarOnline's video above used scenes from the viral video and from Raj's Facebook page but not scenes directly from the ground, which is understandable, given that 29 May 2018 was Wesak Day, a public holiday in Malaysia, so with me being rather wary of the deceptive videos (fake news) which have being doing their rounds of social media, I decided to check out the back lane behind Raj's in Bangsar to see whether that pothole and other features seen in the video are actually there, so I drove over there and took these pictures below between 7.30 and 7.45 am on 30 May 2018.
Here you can clearly see the pothole, the water in which the staff in the video were washing aluminium food trays with. Since there's no mud in the pothole, it looks like the brownish coloured water seen in the pothole was pipe water which they had been using to wash the dishes, which had collected in the pothole with which had become coloured brownish from the residue of food from the serving trays and aluminium food trays seen placed on the road in the video, and the staff in the video appeared to using the pothole as a kitchen sink or a basin for washing. The concrete drain covers and the steel platform in the picture above match those seen in the video.

Heck! Even if they were using water in a kitchen sink or a basin for washing dishes, they should change the water regularly and not let it get so coloured with food residue.  

By the angle of the shot, that video obviously was shot from a height from behind the unsuspecting staff and it looks like it was taken from one of these windows in the building behind Raj's



And here is a longer view shot of the back of Raj's Bangsar,


Raj's Bangsar was closed at the time I was there.

The StarOnline later reported that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) inspectors have closed Raj's Bangsar down indefinitely, pending a cleanliness review, though DBKL had earlier rated Raj's Bangsar with an A rating for cleanliness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9AbJD7lJy8

I had been under the impression that the Raj 's chain of eateries was one of the better ones, since the dining areas in the former Raj's outlet in Petaling Jaya and the big one in SS15 Subang Jaya look clean enough, and the quality of service pretty decent. Perhaps this problem only affected Raj's Bangsar outlet, though in future make it a point to observe how such outlets handle their food and wash their dishes before you sit down to eat there.

If I recall right, I have never eaten at this Raj's outlet in Bangsar, at least not at the corner lot which it occupies now, unless it was that banana leaf restaurant at an earlier smaller location, the name of which I cannot remember.

Anyway, how does Malaysia expect to become a high income, knowledge-based, developed nation by the Year 2020 when Malaysians gladly accept such low standards and backward practices until the schiess proverbially hit the fan, as in this case of Raj's Bangsar ?

Whilst those people interviewed may forever avoid Raj's Bangsar after it is allowed to reopen, however Malaysians have short memories and I would not be surprised at all if other Malaysian from elsewhere will soon replace them at the dining tables in droves.

Background on Bangsar

Bangsar was an ordinary residential area in what then was the edge of Kuala Lumpur back in the 1950s. As a small child, I remember my mother, who was a medical doctor with the Malayan government, working her roster at what was then called Bangsar Hospital back in the 1950s. This part of Bangsar is now called Bangsar Utama (Original Bangsar) today.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bangsar Baru (New Bangsar), adjacent to Bangsar Utama was developed into a residential area and this development continued to spread until houses and apartments covered the hilly area between Jalan Pantai, Jalan Bangsar all the way to the top of the hill and down to Jalan Damansara and all this area is referred to as Bangsar today.

Especially in the 1990s and the 2000s, Bangsar became very popular with Kuala Lumpur's expatriate community and many upmarket pubs, bars and upmarket western-style restaurants have popped up there, especially in the Jalan Telawi area in Bangsar Baru and the Bangsar Shopping Centre at the top of the hill before Jalan Ma'aroff dives down towards the junction with Jalan Damansara.

Besides the expatriates, these recreational and entertainment areas of Bangsar became popular amongst Malaysians as places to be seen in and these people, whom I have dubbed "Bangsar wallahs" had taken on a sickeningly pretentious air about the Bangsar nightspots being a place they had to be seen in to be regarded as a "somebody". I even quipped that some wannabe yuppie would take their girlfriend to a Bangsar night spot, just to impress her, despite the premium prices in the outlets there.

Being centrally located and easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Bangsar's entertainment outlets also became a popular venue for media events held by IT companies and with Malaysia's push to become a "knowledge-based, information-rich economy" back in the mid-1990s.

The Bangsar eateries and entertainment outlets also became a favourite hangout for many young, technology entrepreneur, tech-startup types, though following the exodus of quite a few expatriates following the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s, coupled with there being less emphasis on Malaysia's IT industry under former prime ministers' Abdullah Badawi's and Najib Tun Razak's administrations, Bangsar's entertainment outlets have quite visibly lost some of its former vibrancy and lustre, though now with Tun Dr. Mahathir back as prime minister again and that he has indicated that he will place emphasis on development of Malaysia's IT and multimedia industry, perhaps Bangsar's entertainment hangouts will regain their pretentious lustre again.

More recently, the Bangsar nightspots gained some notoriety in earlier media reports that Dutch-Belgian model Ivana Smit, cryptocurrency trader Johnson Alexander and his Kazakh wife Lunara Almazkyzy visited the night before Ivana fell to her death from the balcony of the Johnson's 20th floor  apartment in Capsquare Residences in the heart of Kuala Lumpur  on 7 December 2017.

"Smit reportedly was drinking with the pair in Bangsar the night before her death. She returned to their apartment at 5 a.m....."

https://nypost.com/2017/12/13/meet-the-swinger-couple-a-model-partied-with-before-her-death/

However, more recent reports say that the threesome went to 9 Club, where closed circuit TV footage showed a Caucasian-looking man, presumably Johnson Alexander carrying a young woman, presumably Ivana into the lift, followed by another woman, presumably his wife Lunara.

"They left together and moved on to 9 Club, where patrons rent private rooms. There, says Alex, they continued to drink heavily."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5565257/Riddle-death-plunge-model.html

Well, 9 Club is on Jalan Kampung Pandan is quite a few kilometres from Bangsar and the pattern of the carpet leading to the lift seen in the CCTV footage matches that of the carpet in the reception area of the club.

Compare the pattern in the picture and website above, with that seen in the Daily Mail video clip in the link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKnQy1Cuj_0

The Johnsons told their side of the story to the Daily Mail which published it on 31 March 2018.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5565257/Riddle-death-plunge-model.html

And to date, no solid evidence has emerged which can be used to determine why or how Ivana plunged off their apartment's balcony, whether alive or already dead, whether she jumped, fell or was pushed over.

Much like the cause of the loss of Flight MH370, the cause of Ivana Smit's tragic death may forever remain a mystery.

Anyway, she did not die in Bangsar.

Whatever - May her soul rest in peace.

The Star's earlier report on Raj Restaurant follows below.

Raj's Banana Leaf outlet faces closure following dirty dishes video - Nation





PETALING JAYA: Raj’s Banana Leaf restaurant in Bangsar will be closed until further notice, after a video showing its staff members washing dishes in a puddle of murky water made rounds on social media.   

It is understood that the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) is expected to issue a closure notice starting Wednesday (May 30).   

It is also believed that health inspectors are set to pay the restaurant a visit at 10am.  

The 30-second video showed three staff members squatting at the back of the restaurant, scrubbing and rinsing plates in what appears to be a puddle of water in a pothole.   

The video, which was published on Tuesday (May 29), has since garnered over 270,000 views and 6,800 shares.   

Netizens have slammed the restaurant, with many expressing disgust and disbelief over the video.  

Meanwhile, Raj’s Banana Leaf restaurant had issued an apology on Facebook, claiming that the dishes were washed by newly recruited staff members at its Bangsar outlet.  

“This has never happened before and should not have happened.  

“We also want to assure that Raj’s Banana Leaf consistently passes the health inspection conducted regularly."  

It said it would continue to monitor the restaurant's hygiene and will take strict action against the staff involved.   

“We truly understand your concerns. However, I hope you will still give us a chance to serve you in the future,” the outlet said.   

Raj's Banana Leaf restaurant initially offered customers a complementary “buka puasa” dinner at its Bangsar outlet from 7.30pm - 9.30pm on Thursday (May 31).   

However, this offer is unlikely to be taken up given the outlet's imminent closure.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/05/29/raj-banana-leaf-outlet-faces-closure-following-dirty-dishes-video/


Yours truly
IT.Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

WOULD YOU TRUST YOUR LIFE TO A SELF-DRIVING CAR ?

American Lawrence Sperry created the world's first successful aircraft autopilot 105 years ago in 1912 and whenever we take a commercial flight somewhere today, we place our lives in the hands of a latter-day, computer-controlled autopilot linked to the aircraft's flight management system, thus enabling the aircraft to be flown on autopilot from take-off to landing, though at any time, the pilot can intervene to alter the settings of the autopilot or to immediately disengage it and manually fly the plane id the need arises. 

Many trains today, especially urban transit trains such as those used on the Klang Valley's Kelana Line are driverless - instead being driven under computer control, much like lifts (or "elevators" to Americans) which automatically stop at the required floors.

In recent years there have been trials of self-driving cars on the public roads and there have already been been some on accidents, such as on the night of Wednesday, 21 March 2018, when Elaine Herzberg, 49 was hit head on by an Uber self-driving vehicle whilst pushing her bicycle across Mill Avenue near Curry Road in Tempe, Arizona and died as a result.

Below is a screen cap from the video released by the Tempe Police, showing Elaine Herzberg pushing her bicycle moments before she was hit by the oncoming car.
(If you cannot see the embedded image, please enable "View Images" or "Load Images" in your e-mail client.)



And below is a link to the full video on You Tube.

CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

Then there is the Bloomberg report "Tesla Driver Died Using Autopilot, With Hands Off Steering Wheel" on 31 March 2018. where a Tesla Model X driven using autopilot car collided with a highway barrier on 23 March 2018 and caught fire resulting in the death of its driver Wei Huang.
CLICK HERE TO READ

The above Bloomberg article referred to a blog post by TeslaTeam on 30 March 2018 which stated:-

"In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken."

"The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash."

"Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the U.S. government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40%. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability."

"In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident."

"Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists."
CLICK HERE TO READ

Whilst I don't have any details at hand to refute or confirm Tesla's claim of fewer crashes and fatalities of cars driven using its autopilot and whilst some may blame Elaine Herzberg instead of the Uber car's self-driving system, since she crossed the road where there is no designated pedestrian crossing, however unlike with aircraft flown by autopilot or computer-controlled trains, road traffic including of vehicles and pedestrians is very much less predictable and erratic, more so in countries such as Malaysia, where cars and motorcycles  suddenly cut across lanes, brake suddenly, beat traffic lights, drive or ride on the wrong side of the road  against regular traffic flow, drivers don't respect the right of way of others, pedestrians cross the road at un-designated crossings such as in the case of Elaine Herzberg and with the recent "Mat Lajak" youth sub-culture in Malaysia where teenagers ride their bicycles in a herd in a dangerous manner, such as the eight teenagers in Johor Baru who died when they were hit by a car whilst riding their bicycles in the middle of a dark road at around 3 am on Saturday 17th February 2018 resulting in a tragedy as shown in the video below.

CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO - Car rams into cycling teens, eight dead

So I wonder how advanced car autopilot technology will have to be to be able to adequately cope with such erratic road behaviour, especially in heavily congested traffic and dark roads, considering that the road Elaine Herzberg crossed that fateful night had relatively little traffic at the time and she was still run down by that self-driven car. 

Proponents and defenders of self-driving cars may argue that the technology is still very new and needs to be improved and enhanced to include more sensors and smarter control systems to be able to cope with such erratic and unpredictable road traffic and users, which is true but unlike with aircraft and trains where professionally managed and maintained subject to strict regulations, how sure can we be that all motorists will religiously maintain their vehicles to ensure all its additional advanced safety features and facilities are in proper working order, when many already don't do so with the existing more basic features and facilities due to financial constraints, a lackadaisical attitude or some other reason.

If many do not maintain their vehicles in tip top working order now, can we expect that they will maintain all these additional safety sensors, on-board computer, GPS navigation and so forth systems on their self-driving vehicles in tip top working order in the future.

It's easy for the marketing types of the ICT industry and tech-futurists to imagine and preach how things should be when the realities on the ground don't work likewise.  

The New York Times article below which questions the claimed safety of self-driving cars made me realise why I have always felt so uncomfortable with all these claims my information and communication technology marketers and tech-futurists that advancements in the technology which replace or reduce the role of humans will somehow make the world some kind of paradise on earth and solve problems resulting from human habits and behaviour.

Especially these few paragraphs below jive with my own feelings with regards the many starry-eyed claims I have heard and read over the last two decades:-

“Technology does not eliminate error, but it changes the nature of errors that are made, and it introduces new kinds of errors,” said Chesley Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were struck by birds and who now sits on a Department of Transportation advisory committee on automation. “We have to realize that it’s not a panacea.”

"Experts who are skeptical about the unceasing forward march of technology say fatalities are rising because public officials have become so enamored with the shiny new thing, self-driving cars, that they have taken their eyes off problems they could be solving today. In the federal government and most states, there appears to be little interest in or patience for doing the tedious work of identifying and implementing policies and technologies with proven track records of saving lives now, as opposed to some time in the distant future."

"Silicon Valley technologists would argue that algorithms and machine learning will simply leapfrog what they might dismiss as the legacy problem of human fallibility. But Mr. Sullenberger, for one, is worried that the rush to develop automated cars will lead to many unforeseen problems. “Even though there is a sense of urgency to prevent human-caused accidents,” he told me, “we need to do it in a responsible way, not the fastest way.”

Unlike Sullenberger who has real world experience on the ground, the Silly Con Valley technologies and tech-futurists have their heads in the clouds and it's claims like these which have irked me through over two decades of writing about the ICT industry, especially when I find little change or even worsening of the reality ground compared to the rosy picture of a "glorious future" painted by the marketers and futurists of the ICT industry - whether it be about online education and computer-based learning versus traditional teacher-based learning, about gee whiz traffic information and data analysis systems solving traffic congestion on our roads without much or without any real-world modifications or remedies to the causes of such congestion being implemented on the ground.

Basically, people who have experience of helping to solve real world problems on the ground find the claims of the Silly Con Valley technologists, marketers and tech-futurists rather pie in the sky, such as in the case of creating Bitcoin to circumvent financial problems due to central banks such as the Federal Reserve, instead of dealing with the problems due to these central banks head on.

Well Bitcoin's price has been going sideways at around US$7,000 since 30th March 2017 and showing no signs of shooting up to US$1 million by 2020, so Mr. McAfee had better start thinking of the sauce to go with his penis, which he said he would eat if its price does not reach US$ 1 million by then.


The New York Times article referred to follows below.

nytimes.com

Opinion | The Bright, Shiny Distraction of Self-Driving Cars





The promise of self-driving cars can be alluring — imagine taking a nap or watching a movie in a comfortable armchair while being shuttled safely home after a long day at work. But like many optimistic images of the future, it is also a bit of an illusion.

Automated cars may indeed make commuting more pleasurable while preventing accidents and saving tens of thousands of lives — someday. But a recent fatal crash in Tempe, Ariz., involving a car operated by Uber that was tricked out with sensors and software meant to turn it into a latter-day version of K.I.T.T. from the TV show “Knight Rider” suggests that at least some of these cars are not ready for the hustle and bustle of American roads. In fact, the technology that powers these vehicles could introduce new risks that few people appreciate or understand. For example, when a computer controlling the car does not hit the brakes to avoid a collision, the person in the driver’s seat — many automated cars on the road today still require someone to be there in case of an emergency — may also fail to intervene because the driver trusts the car too much to pay close attention to the road. According to a video released by Tempe police, that is what appears to have happened in the Uber crash.

“Technology does not eliminate error, but it changes the nature of errors that are made, and it introduces new kinds of errors,” said Chesley Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were struck by birds and who now sits on a Department of Transportation advisory committee on automation. “We have to realize that it’s not a panacea.”

Mr. Sullenberger is hardly a technophobe. He has flown passenger jets crammed with advanced electronics and software and has a keen professional interest in technology. What concerns him and other safety experts is that industry executives and government officials are rushing headlong to put self-driving cars on the road without appropriate safeguards and under the unproven hypothesis that the technology will reduce crashes and fatalities. The Senate, for instance, is considering a bill that would exempt self-driving cars from existing federal regulations and pre-empt state and local governments from regulating them. And Arizona became a hotbed of self-driving testing by telling auto and technology companies — like Uber — that it will not ask too many questions or institute a lot of new rules.

Even as officials place a big bet that autonomous cars will solve many of our safety problems, American roads are becoming less safe. More than 37,000 people were killed on American roads in 2016, up 5.6 percent from 2015, according to government data. The National Safety Council, a research and advocacy organization, estimates that the death toll was more than 40,000 in 2017.

Consider automatic braking systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there is a 42 percent reduction in rear-end crashes that cause injuries when this technology is installed on cars. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other public interest groups asked the Transportation Department in 2015 to require that all new trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles have such systems, which have been around for years. The department accepted that petition but has yet to propose a rule. The government did reach a voluntary agreement with 20 automakers to make automatic braking a standard feature on cars and light trucks by September 2022.

Even as American regulators have dragged their feet, other industrialized countries have made great strides in reducing traffic crashes over the last two decades. Road fatality rates in Canada, France, Germany and Sweden, for example, are now less than half the rate in the United States. And no, these countries don’t have fleets of self-driving cars. They have reduced accidents the old-fashioned way. Some of them have worked to slow down traffic — speed is a leading killer. They have added medians and made other changes to roads to better protect pedestrians. And European regulators have encouraged the use of seatbelts by putting visual reminders even in the back seat. Germany, which has the high-speed autobahn, also requires much more rigorous driver education and testing than most American states do.

“The things that have been killing us for decades are still killing us: speed, impaired driving, not using seatbelts,” said Deborah Hersman, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board who now heads the National Safety Council. “The things that we know can save lives, some of them don’t cost any money, like seatbelts.”

Silicon Valley technologists would argue that algorithms and machine learning will simply leapfrog what they might dismiss as the legacy problem of human fallibility. But Mr. Sullenberger, for one, is worried that the rush to develop automated cars will lead to many unforeseen problems. “Even though there is a sense of urgency to prevent human-caused accidents,” he told me, “we need to do it in a responsible way, not the fastest way.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/opinion/distraction-self-driving-cars.html

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.my/







Friday, 23 March 2018

PARENTS WILL REGRET WHEN THEIR CHILDREN LOVE THEIR PHONES, NOT THEM

Some adults think that a child - even babies as young as two or three are so "smart", "clever" and "tech savvy" when they see them with their faces buried in a smartphone or tablet device, navigating the device by jabbing away on the screen with their finger.

Well sorry to disappoint you but these devices are designed to be intuitively navigated and operated so that that any tech-illiterate person can use them, and children being curious, intuitive and willing to explore take to such devices like ducks to water without needing to know how the technology  behind the screen works.

Back in the 1980s when there were no smartphones, I had heard about parents just plunking their toddler in front of the TV to keep them quiet whilst they went about their work but al least in some countries they had children's educational TV programmes from which pre-school aged children could learn some basics such as the alphabet, numbers and so forth but with smartphones and tablets with Internet connectivity, they can access anything, whether of beneficial or negative influence, or just waste hours accessing trivial junk online.

Besides young children, I know some teenagers and adults who know their smartphones backwards but can't even compose a decent e-mail or letter on a PC even if their lives depend on it. Welcome to the Information and Services Society, touted by paperback writers, futurists and pandits since back in the 1970s, who rather interestingly have vanished below the media, seminar and conference radar since the neo-liberal, globalised, capitalist world has been mired in economic crisis and moribundity since 2008.

Of course, smartphone and tablet manufacturers love it when more people buy their products, whilst cellular network operators (cellular phone companies) love it when people with these devices buy their data plans, so they can laugh all their ways to their banks with hard earned money paid to them by the plebeian masses who fall for their advertising and promotions.

In this article by Free Malaysia Today of 23 March 2018, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Rahim warned that the consequences of parents leaving their children to bury their faces in their smartphones and tablets could result in denying the development of a natural bond between children and parents and moreover could lead to the children lacking in soft skills and getting addicted to phones.

freemalaysiatoday.com

Electronic devices kill parents’ bond with kids, warns group

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) is concerned that many parents are using such devices to keep their children quiet.



PAGE says only a small number of parents monitor their children’s internet activity.


PETALING JAYA: A parents’ group has warned using electronic devices to keep children quiet will destroy the bond between parents and their kids.

Speaking to FMT, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Rahim said the majority of parents seemed content to allow such devices to act as modern-day child minders.

“I saw it happening in front of my eyes,” she said. “Instead of bonding with the child, a parent gave a child, who was possibly two or three years old, a mobile phone just so the child would keep quiet.

“You will have to face the consequences at some point, and by then it may be too late.”

Azimah said apart from creating a rift between parent and child, the consequences would also include a lack of soft skills and an addiction to electronic devices.

“There are cases where the child is so addicted that you have to send the child to a psychiatrist because when the parent tries to take the device away, the child gets angry.

“But perhaps the most unfortunate of all is that you can no longer see any love between parent and child.”

Azimah said while she understood the importance of teaching today’s children to be tech-savvy, it was also important to strike a balance.

“There has to be a balance and the parent has to find that right balance through trial and error.”

Azimah’s comments come after the Suriana Welfare Society said parents who failed to monitor their children’s internet activities were committing a punishable offence.

Suriana executive director Scott Wong told FMT it was crucial that parents keep a strict watch over their children’s movements on the internet, saying it was unfortunate that many parents were still not serious about this.

Azimah agreed with Wong, saying only a small number of parents took the trouble to monitor their children’s internet activities.

“They trust that their children don’t do things they’re not supposed to, but the children do. Some parents refuse to believe their children actually surf porn.”

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/03/23/electronic-devices-kill-parents-bond-with-kids-warns-group/

Below are some readers' comments related to the above article.


Richard Chooi ·
This is indeed a serious community problem, seeing the increased numbers of young children "burying" their heads at the handphone or tablet in the eating centres while their parents enjoying the food (besides scrolling their own phone often). It seems so "correct" to do so nowadays. So, how to "strike a balance" when the parents themselves are way out of balance as long as they have the phone in their hands?
Edward Kay ·
Too late. The parents themselves are hooked. You can see it at eateries especially. I've even seen the kids sitting quietly while the parents are engrossed. Games and social media will replace guns.
David Shanelukas Ksgan Will you stop complaining. Phones and tablets are invented for a good purpose turning humans into conditioned ANIMALS.
These zombies play with such toys like WALKINDG DEADS
On On...................Peep.....Peep

Steven Chung To many parents, this is a norm, not a problem. They even boast how good their children can play with the Electronic devices. It's like they know the pros & cons but choose the easy way.
Steven Ong ·
Does it need an expert to tell us that ? But like many who still dont want to believe that their neighbors and brothers are big thieves , many too will not care about it because they gain from it . Its a self centered society today .

Welcome to the CONSUMERIST Information and Services Society folks, as both parents and children are equally enslaved to making the phone manufacturers and cellular network operators rich from revenue and profits given them by these kia su tech-plebeians.

However, rather interestingly the late Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, did not let his children use an iPad which his company created, whilst Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft did not let his children have a phone until they were 14 years old and he also believes that information technology tools should  be used specifically as possible where they will serve to educate students and not for entertainment.

So whilst these two captains of the information technology industry know the dangers and limitations of the products their companies produce for the mass market, however the billion of plebeians who buy and use their products are blissfully unaware or are too ignorant or lazy to care.

Welcome to the Information and Services Consumerist Society. 

businessinsider.my

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free — and it should've been a red flag, Business Insider




source Seth Wenig / Reuters

Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains.

Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force.

But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, coauthors of the recent book “Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber.”

It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create.

“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.

‘We limit how much technology our kids use at home’

In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14. (Today, the average age for a child getting their first phone is 10.)

Jobs, who was the CEO of Apple until his death in 2012, revealed in a 2011 New York Times interview that he prohibited his kids from using the newly-released iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs told reporter Nick Bilton.

In a recent interview on the online news channel Cheddar, iPod co-creator Tony Fadell speculated that if Steve Jobs were alive today, he’d want to address growing societal concerns about tech addiction. “He’d say, ‘Hey we need to do something about it,'” Fadell said.

Bill Gates wouldn't allow his children to have cell phones until they turned 14, fearing the effects of too much screen time.


caption: Bill Gates wouldn’t allow his children to have cell phones until they turned 14, fearing the effects of too much screen time.
source: Shutterstock Rex for EEM

In “Screen Schooled,” Clement and Miles make the case that wealthy Silicon Valley parents seem to grasp the addictive powers of smartphones, tablets, and computers more than the general public does – despite the fact that these parents often make a living by creating and investing in that technology.

“It’s interesting to think that in a modern public school, where kids are being required to use electronic devices like iPads,” the authors wrote, “Steve Jobs’s kids would be some of the only kids opted out.”

Jobs’ children have finished school, so it’s impossible to know how the late Apple cofounder would have responded to education technology, or “edtech.” But Clement and Miles suggest that if Jobs’ kids had attended the average US school today, they’d have used tech in the classroom far more than they did at home while growing up.

That’s at the average school at least, according to the coauthors. A number of specialty Silicon Valley schools, such as the Waldorf School, are noticeably low-tech. They use chalkboards and No. 2 pencils. Instead of learning how to code, kids are taught the soft skills of cooperation and respect. At Brightworks School, kids learn creativity by building things and attending classes in treehouses.

Edtech won’t be a ‘cure all’

If there is any concession Gates has made on technology, it’s in the benefits it offers students in certain educational settings. In the years since Gates implemented his household policy, the billionaire philanthropist has taken a keen interest in personalized education, an approach that uses electronic devices to help tailor lesson plans for each student.

In a recent blog post, Gates celebrated Summit Sierra, a Seattle-based school that takes students’ personal goals – like getting into a specific college – and devises a path to get there. Teachers in personalized learning settings take on more of a coaching role, helping to nudge students back on track when they get stuck or distracted.

Technology in these cases is being used as specifically as possible – and in ways Gates recognizes as useful for a student’s development, not as entertainment.

“Personalized learning won’t be a cure-all,” he wrote. But Gates said he’s “hopeful that this approach could help many more young people make the most of their talents.”

http://www.businessinsider.my/screen-time-limits-bill-gates-steve-jobs-red-flag-2017-10/?r=US&IR=T


Then again I suppose we are in the Age of Decadence where hedonism, consumerism and obsession with celebrities, distraction by bread and circuses reign supreme.

Watch the YouTube video The 7 Signs Of An Empire In Decline
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Gc1bv-Mj4

And this video which refers to historical cycles described by ancient Chinese and Hindu philosophies.
Historical Cycles: Are we doomed to repeat the past?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w6QYPzF2TI

Whilst the above videos are about the United States and the west and that there is no "Malaysian Empire" as such, however what stage do you think Malaysia is in right now?

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

CRYPTO BLOODBATH 2018-03-13 AT 10-36-43 UTC (18-36-43 MALAYSIAN TIME)

A look at the Coinmarketcap.com website at 10-36-43 UTC (18-36-43 Malaysian time on 2018-03-13 revealed a Crypto bloodbath amongst 11 of the 12 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, at the top of the web page, which now lists 1,558 cyrptocurrencies altogether.

(IF YOU CANNOT VIEW THE IMAGE BELOW, PLEASE ENABLE 'VIEWING IMAGES' IN YOUR E-MAIL CLIENT)



Of course, the prices of these cryptocurrencies in that fiat toilet paper - i.e. the U.S. dollar, rise and fall, so when you view the website you may see all green  and at other times a mix of red and green.

Well, we are still a while from the year 2020, but it does not look like the price of Bitcoin is headed towards U.S.$100,000, let alone U.S.$ 1 million by the year 2020, as former cyber-security entrepreneur turned cryptocurrency pandit had predicted, saying that if his prediction was wrong, he would eat his own penis.



Anyway, on 13 March 2018, Russia Today reported:-

Bitcoin & other cryptos tumble amid worries of new regulatory measures — RT Business News




Major cryptocurrencies were trading 4 to 10 percent lower on Tuesday amid investor concerns about tighter regulation which could prevent the crypto market from reaching record values seen in 2017.



© Chromorange / Bilderbox / Global Look Press

 Bitcoin fell 4 percent to $9,200, which is less than 50 percent of its $20,000 all-time high, seen in December. Ethereum, ripple and other major cryptocurrencies also saw a broad sell-off during Tuesday's trade.

Earlier in March, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported on its website that all platforms and exchanges trading crypto and tokens should be registered in accordance with established rules for stock exchanges and brokers. Investors were also worried about the hacking of the Binance crypto-exchange.

American banking giant Goldman Sachs has made another bearish bitcoin prediction, stating that the leading digital currency risks falling below the February low of $5,922.

“The break is significant as implies [sic] potential for a more impulsive decline,” said Goldman analyst Sheba Jafari. “The next meaningful level is down at $7,667 to $7,198.”

“Getting а сlоѕе brеаk thіѕ tіmе аrоund wоuld wаrn оf ѕtruсturаl dаmаgе, іnсrеаѕіng thе rіѕk оf nеw lосаl lоwѕ [$5,922]. At thіѕ роіnt, nееd tо gеt bасk thrоugh $9,322 [thе Fеbruary 26 lоw] fоr thіѕ tо ѕtаbіlіzе,” Goldman analysts wrote.

And earlier on 6 March 2018, Russia Today reported:_

Major cryptocurrency exchange accused of insider trading — RT Business News




Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange is facing a lawsuit for alleged insider trading. The company is accused of making money on bitcoin cash illegally.


© Lucy Nicholson
 
The price of bitcoin cash, which is a spin-off from the original bitcoin, surged almost $1,000, when Coinbase announced on December 19 it would start trading in the cryptocurrency.

The lawsuit claims some insiders knew about the information ahead of the launch and made a profit from the growing price of bitcoin cash.

“When Coinbase’s customers’ trades were finally executed, it was only after the insiders had driven up the price of bitcoin cash, and thus the remaining bitcoin customers only received their bitcoin cash at artificially inflated prices that had been manipulated well beyond the fair market value of bitcoin cash at that time,” the lawsuit claims, as quoted by Marketwatch.

Coinbase suspended bitcoin cash trading until the next day to maintain liquidity after the launch. Bitcoin cash is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization

In a separate case, Coinbase was accused of forcing non-customers to open accounts at the exchange. The two complainants claim that when Coinbase clients transfer digital money to a non-member, the latter gave no alternative for them but to open a Coinbase account in order to obtain the cash.

In February, Coinbase admitted that a glitch on its servers caused it to charge many clients multiple times for a single transaction. Some of the accounts were depleted.



I suppose McAfee must be now thinking of the sauce to go with his penis.

Time and time again, these alternatives which were supposed to undermine their 'establishment' counterparts ended up being co-opted by the 'establishment' system and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and others will likewise end up being co-opted.

If the central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve are the problem, then take the bull by its horns and shut it down, and if they resist, send in the National Guard, the Marines or the people storm it like they did the Bastille or the Winter Palace and shut it down.

This cryptocurrency thing is the latest flavour of the day in IT scheiss.

BTW. If Malaysia does not achieve becoming a developed nation and a knowledge-rich, high-income society by the year 2020, a certain former prime minister should also eat his penis - perhaps with satay sauce.

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss



Saturday, 3 March 2018

APPLE-MANIA IN MALAYSIA TURNS UGLY AS TECH-PLEBEIANS SCRAMBLE FOR PHONES

The plebeians were the commoners of ancient Rome, exhibiting characteristics described in this slide from the presentation "Seven Hills of Rome".



Today's plebeians would somewhat correspond to those in the lower middle class, with some disposable income to spend on minor luxuries, who go around with faces forever buried in their smartphones and who throng 24-hour eateries, serving shitty food and where its overworked and overexploited staff (latter day indentured wage slaves), provide equally shitty service to plebeian customers, who apparently with no pay TV at home, throng such shitty eateries to watch latter-day gladiatorial battles - i.e. football (soccer to Yanks) matches between foreign teams in far away places, or perfectly choreographed wrestling matches where professional wrestlers take turns to beat each other to a pulp, even with chairs or some weapon, without leaving even a minor bruise on the skin of the opponent.

Another example of later-day plebeian behaviour are the jostling and fights between bargain hunting shoppers at stores on Black Friday - the fourth Friday of November, following Thanksgiving on the Thursday before, in which there were 10 deaths and 111 injuries on Black Fridays from 2006 to 2017.

Also, watch how the latter-day plebeians, victims of today's capitalist consumer society battle each other for a few dollars less on goods, whist the stores laugh all their respective ways to their respective banks.

Well, not to be left behind in our quest to become a knowledge-based, information-rich, high-income nation by the year 2020 (or postponed to 2050), Malaysia's version of latter-day plebeians - Apple fanboys and fangirls - queued up outside the MyTown Shopping Mall in Cheras, a district of Kuala Lumpur, some as early as Thursday 1 March 2018 evening, to buy Apple iPhones, iPads and iMacs at bargain prices, at the Switch warehouse clearance sale on Friday 2 March 2018 - Malaysia's version of Black Friday, I suppose.

Below is a screen cap of the blog post about the event by blogger Soyacincau



Also, according to The Malaysian Insight of 3 February 2018, the crowd got unruly and it took auxiliary policemen two hours to control them and after 90 minutes, the store suspended the sale until further notice.

======

Apple clearance sale quickly comes to a halt as mob turns unruly

The Malaysian Insight

A WAREHOUSE clearance sale offering Apple products for cheap yesterday in Cheras closed after just 90 minutes due to an overwhelming mob of customers.

Hundreds of fans showed up at the MyTown Shopping Mall, some even camping overnight at the mall, lured by the prospect of Apple products at bargain price.

In a move to control the swelling crowd, the management introduced a ticketing system, which failed to do the job as the crowd grew increasingly unruly.

After auxiliary policemen spent nearly two hours trying to control and disperse the crowd, the company announced the store would be closed until Sunday, leaving many Apple aficionados disappointed to the core.

A good number of them had come from far and had waited since the night before for the sale.

"I turned up to buy an iPad. As the crowd swelled, the outlet closed and I am left disappointed,” Amirul told Bernama.

Claiming the shop had failed to take measures for crowd control and to ensure order, a dejected Nabahat said: "We were here since 6am, and the people behind us were allowed to enter the store first. I think they were here since midnight but it was, nevertheless, unfair.”

The sale offered an iPhone 5s at RM200, a 9.7in, 32GB iPad Pro at RM1,600, iMacs at as low as RM1,000, and MacBooks at prices starting at RM500.

A spokesman from Switch Warehouse Clearance said the sale was suspended until further notice. – March 3, 2018.




The consumer IT industry thrives on getting people to buy their products and regularly comes out with new models, mostly with minor incremental features over older models to entice consumers to buy the latest model, even if their current one serves them fine.

Worse still is the most insidious form of advertising, helped by the consumer IT media, which aims to create peer pressure between the ranks of consumers themselves by encouraging them to engage in a "Living up with the Joneses' game of one-upmanship between each other, where they feel they need to have the latest and "greatest" model in order to be a "somebody" amongst their peers, whilst the consumer IT companies laugh their respective ways to their respective banks, whilst the tech-plebeians needlessly part with their hard earned money, leaving less in their respective banks.

Yours most truly

IT.Scheiss

Saturday, 24 February 2018

FOCUS MALAYSIA ACQUIRED, TWO-THIRDS OF STAFF LIKELY TO BE FIRED

I've oftentimes said that I would never recommend to young school leavers looking to to pursue a career, that they should pursue print or digital journalism, since with competition for advertising revenue from global Internet giants such as Google and Facebook, and with reports of print advertising revenue declining 10 times as fast as digital advertising revenue is growing, they could find themselves out of work in their 40s or even earlier, burdened with the costs of raising a family, a car loan and housing loan to pay off.

I once told mass communications students at a local private university that instead of journalism, they should seriously consider corporate communications or public relations as a career after graduation.

And, if one still wants to pursue a career in journalism, for a while it was thought that a business and financial publication would be a safer bet than a general news or lifestyle publication but that seems to be no longer so, as some local business and financial publications had gone or are going all online and digital to stay afloat, which usually is the first step on the road to oblivion.

Well, The Star of 23 February 2018 reports that local business and financial newspaper, Focus Malaysia, founded in 2012 has been acquired by digital branding and marketing agency Inno Mind Works Sdn Bhd and that two-thirds of its current staff are likely to be retrenched, as it transitions to an all digital platform.

With the departure of Focus Malaysia from the news stands for the online and digital world, that leaves The Edge standing still in print but for how long, one wonders.

Inno Mind Works is new owner of Focus Malaysia - Business News




PETALING JAYA: Business weekly

Focus Malaysia

has obtained a new owner, digital branding and marketing agency Inno Mind Works Sdn Bhd (IMW).

The staff were verbally informed of the news yesterday.

According to a source, the letters were expected to be given to the staff next week.

It was learnt that only one-third of the staff shall be retained by the new owner, while rehiring will be on a case-by-case basis.

Astro Awani reported that IMW managing director and founder Datuk Michael Yip has confirmed the purchase of Focus Malaysia, adding that it is IMW's main agenda to make a transition to the digital platform.

Focus Malaysia was founded in 2012.

According to its website, Focus Malaysia's thrust was to provide specialist coverage of companies listed on Bursa Malaysia, property news, the role of small and medium-sized businesses, and personal wealth management issues. 

It also provided a platform for the discussion of macro-economic topics such as wealth distribution, sustainability and the impact of innovation and technology.



Meanwhile, The Malaysian Reserve, a business and financial publication which departed the print scene much earlier, reported on  of 23 February 2018 that media company Media Prima reported its fifth consecutive quarter of losses, attributing this to costs incurred in downsizing its workforce, despite it expanding its reach in online and digital platforms.

Media Prima plunges deeper into the red


By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MEDIA Prima Bhd said costs related to impairments and downsizing of its workforce pushed it deeper into the red for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017, as traditional revenue from advertisements and newspaper sales continued to fall.

The media group posted a fifth consecutive quarterly loss with an income deficit of RM378.2 million, or a loss per share of 34.09 sen, against a net profit of RM5 million, or earnings per share of 0.45 sen, in the corresponding quarter last year.

Revenue for the October-December 2017 period decreased 4% yearon- year to RM306.2 million from RM318.6 million a year ago.

The group attributed the losses for the quarter to the declining trend of advertising income and exceptional items amounting to RM302.7 million.

Without the latter, Media Prima said it would have posted a net loss of RM82 million.

For the financial year 2017 (FY17), total net loss extended to RM650.6 million against RM59.2 million in FY16, while turnover fell 7% to RM1.2 billion compared to RM1.3 billion.

Although the media conglomerate has ventured into new digital and consumer-based business initiatives to complement its traditional media segments, these initiatives are still undergoing a gestation period, the group said.

Media Prima is expected to increase efforts to accelerate revenue-generating initiatives by maximising available assets and leveraging on extensive reach via its brands on digital and non-digital platforms.

“The structural change in the media sector is forecast to continue affecting traditional media companies in tandem with global trends.

“To remain resilient and relevant, the group is committed to its transformation journey in defending traditional revenue sources, while increasing efforts in growing new revenue streams,” it said.

These efforts include market leadership in broadcast, over-the-top content and digital publishing.

The group is also steadfast on growing commerce revenue through integrated media and plans to expand beyond Malaysia, as cost management practices will continue to be exercised.

Media Prima shares ended 1.6% lower yesterday to close at 62 sen, with 2.8 million shares traded — giving the group a market capitalisation of RM682.2 million.


Meanwhile, shares of the Star Media Group (STAR) have been down in the doldrums over the past 5 months.


According to AllianceDBS analyst report of 21 November 2017, the latest so far, Star Media Group's 3rd Quarter performance saw "Some improvements, but nothing to cheer about".
 











If the Star Media Group which has the lion's share of advertising revenue amongst English language dailies is struggling to remain profitable, basically the situation looks grim for other English language media organisations which have the remaining one-third share.

New media is proving to not be the "saviour" of media it was touted to be and this adversely affects the livelihoods of mass media workers, including journalists.

I am yours truly

IT.Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.my/