Excerpt: "We’re all familiar with the major social networks in the U.S. (FB, Twitter, etc.) as well as which ones are up and coming (Vine, Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp). But what are not talked about a lot, are the social networks out in Asia that are growing insanely fast — like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE."
When you sit down with the burly Texan, inside Facebook’s Northern California headquarters, he takes the Open Compute philosophy to new extremes, revealing the blueprint for a computer server that doesn’t even look like a computer server. This design lets you add or remove a server’s primary part — the processor — whenever you like. Nowadays, if you want a new processor, you need, well, a new server. But Frankovksy and the Open Compute Project aim to change that, sharing the new design with anyone who wants it.
“By modularizing the design, you can rip and place the bits that need to be upgraded, but you can leave the stuff that’s still good,” Frankovsky says, pointing to memory and flash storage as hardware that you don’t have to replace as often as the processor. “Plus, you can better match your hardware to the software that it’s going to run.”
Excerpt: "Google's bombshell last night that it would be shutting down the Google Reader RSS client hit the web, well, like a bomb. Just as with any major tech event, it spurred a raft of reactions on what is currently our best real-time conversation broadcasting network, Twitter."
Singapore has a bunch of government schemes put in place to support R&D, technology commercialisation, seed funding for start-ups and so on. One of these is the i.JAM grant scheme. (You'll agree it's a cool name because it starts with a lower-case i. And there's a dot in the name. Yes, the JAM is all-capital but no, we won't explain what the abbreviation stands for. If it's an abbreviation. But I digress.)
This is a pretty decent scheme if you're a budding tech entrepreneur. You can go and read all about it on the programme website or here.
However, before you decide to take the plunge and become an i.JAMMER (er, corright spelling anot?), watch out for this: if you're approved for this scheme, you're allowed a maximum salary of S$1,000 per month. No, I didn't miss typing a zero. Whaddaya mean you need money for rent?
Readers outside Singapore may wonder what S$1,000 a month actually means. As a reference for comparison, my understanding is that cleaners and dishwashers make anywhere from S$700 to S$1,200 a month, a fresh engineering graduate would make perhaps S$3,000 to S$4,500 a month, and a newbie lawyer further north of that. On the cost side, rent can cost anything from a few hundred dollars a month for pretty basic accommodation (one room in a public housing apartment) to perhaps S$2,000 a month for a small flat in a decent private condo. These are rough numbers.
Seriously, what are our friends at the IDM PO thinking? There must be a reason for this, surely there must be, but I don't see it.
A wit once said, "Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear
to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written,
immediately become proof that they were busy." That hilarious statement explains many things about the way bureaucracies and bureaucrats function. But what possible reason could there be for coming up with such an onerous limit on grant winners' salary? Could it be that:
They only want the independently wealthy to become entrepreneurs? But then why would such an entrepreneur want to go through all the hassle of applying for this grant?
They only want to fund people who have no alternative means of sustaining themselves except to try and start a company in return for accepting SS$1,000 a month?
They want to punish good entrepreneurs?
Does not compute.
The policy is counter-productive. Do they want entrepreneurs to be perpetually worried about their personal subsistence or focus on growing their business? Creating new technology, serving customers, hiring employees and all the rest is hard enough without having to also worry about being able to feed and clothe oneself.
None of this means over-paying. If the grant committee doesn't agree with a business plan, just don't fund the business. No VC to my knowledge has an explicit salary criterion. Yes, of course some entrepreneurs are overpaid. But then one engages with those entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis or just walks away. Specifying a very low salary limit upfront is just silly.
Hmm, maybe that's where the answer lies: specifying a very low salary will discourage all but the few types of people bulleted above from applying, therefore resulting in less work for IDM PO. I really really hope this isn't the reasoning although, depressingly, I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
So what should IDM PO be doing instead? They should be funding projects based on their viability, not on whether the founders are willing to live on a pittance. Really, WHO CARES if an entrepreneur builds a business that can allow the entrepreneur to make a decent living as long as he tries his dangest to actually build that business? Working as an engineer, let alone turning tech entrepreneur doesn't have much of a cachet in Singapore to begin with, except among a few break-the-mould types. Click this, read that. Creating an artificial and unnecessary restriction on top of this is just shooting Singapore in the foot by achieving exactly the opposite of the government's stated objectives.
And plenty more could be done beyond the purview of the i.JAM scheme such as, e.g., helping somewhat more advanced start-ups get bank funding by guaranteeing their loans, to provide one idea off the top of my head.
Many of the fields that the i.JAM purports to be aimed at -- computer vision, AI, analytics, augmented reality... -- need high-quality experienced business founders. At these peanuts? Don't hold your breath.
Update: this post spawned a further discussion here.
Updater: Terence Lee of SGE has been told that the salary cap isn't a cap. About a third the way down on this page. Not sure how to reconcile this with what the i.JAM page says or what a recipient of the grant told me himself.
Looking to hire technical writers (product documentation and some marketing material), QA and testing personnel, and pre-sales engineers for an established yet fast-growing software company in Singapore. Great opportunity for future entrepreneurs.
Leave me a comment here with contact info and a link to your Linkedin profile if interested.
Over the weekend, I took it upon myself to get started on a much-procrastinated project: retrieving a couple of hard disks from an old desktop PC and pulling the data off them.
The first thing I had to do was to get an external casing with a built-in power supply unit. When I went to the stores and asked for a casing, I was offered a small casing by default, the sort used for laptop hard disk drives. Cue general bemusement when I said this was for the larger desktop variety. "Old school," whispered one chap to himself.
Another question that came up was, what the capacity of the disk was. When I told him, one held just short of 10 GB and the other 8 GB, his eyes nearly popped out of his head. I guess we're from different generations!
Coming to the point of this post, I was actually a little nervous about whether the two drives would even work. I had a lot of old data (photos and so on) that I really wanted to retrieve but I hadn't even turned on my old computer for at least five years. In the meantime, it had endured being stored in a forgotten corner gathering dust and being transported twice by a moving service. I wasn't that worried about retrieving my data as long as the disks would still spin.
But, glory be, both drives actually started spinning with that familiar but long-forgotten whir. When I connected them to my laptop, reading data wasn't a problem either. I was mighty impressed with the engineering that's gone into this, no credit to me for the sheer neglect.
I quickly backed up my files, then started going through my old treasures at leisure. Everything just worked. Even that Word document from 1998, those photographs from 2001, that music from 1999... I was even more impressed by this.
Hang on. Everything? No. Real Media files don't work. Is it because I don't have the right codecs installed? No, I checked that I have the latest versions of everything. They just don't work. Maybe that's the problem. I have the latest version of the codecs not the prehistoric versions. Who knows?
You know that external hard disk you've invested in to backup your stuff? Or that cloud-based service? None of that can save you from this fate. You'll have all the data you ever had and be unable to use some of it.
The sort-of-solutions to this are:
If possible, work with data that use open file formats. This doesn't guarantee that your file will still be usable 5 years from now but at least it raises the odds. [Aside: Microsoft Office isn't truly open but it's become a de-facto standard now and I think backward compatibility is reasonably assured going back to Office 97.]
Keep old software installers handy. This isn't always possible. Your old software programs might have been installed off the web. Or they may have come on a CD-ROM that you have long since turned into a coaster.
Learn how to write software of your own!
These are only sort-of-solutions because you need to be a bit of a geek to make any of this work and, unfortunately, the world isn't only composed of geeks. Or you could go out and get your own captive geek to take care of this for you, but that only works for some people. What about everyone else?
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