Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore

Last week, I went to a branch to open XtraSaver account. As usual, their personal banking consultant asked me if I wanted to open their Supersalary account. I said no and told him I just wanted XtraSaver account. Then he tried to open an account for me, and suddenly he had to see his manager for some verification. About three minutes later, he told me that the burmese are disallowed to open an account. Well, they were not supposed to tell me this, and they had a right to disapprove my application without giving any reason. But it was good to hear their reason for the reject.

I just left the bank, and checked online website to see if they have any written information about this. I couldn’t find it and I sent them an email inquiring about account opening, stating my nationality and residential status.

A few days later, a girl called me and asked me to open an account at Six Battery Road. I was surprised, and she arranged me an appointment with the staff at the branch.

It was my fault I didn’t check thoroughly with her, and I blamed myself for trusting Standard Chartered Bank again. This time, I wasn’t told the reason, and I was only told due to some policies. It might the same reason. I’m not interested in their policies. All I know is Standard Chartered Bank just wasted my time and resources. The bank doesn’t seem to have connections/communication between their departments. Although I wasn’t allow to open the saving/checking account, he asked me if I was interested in Fixed Deposits. Huh. I’m done with that bank. I also should warn the nationality of Myanmar should not be wasting time going to the bank and open an account.

I understand that the burmese people can be rejected by any US or Europe financial institutions due to sanctions. If this is the case, my enquiry should be returned with negative reply so that I wouldn’t waste my time going to the standard chartered bank.

Cloudy

These days, something relates to software platforms that perform distributed computing on a cluster, catches my attention, and this led me to:

Hadoop platform is just the open-source implementation of Google’s Mapreduce.

I think the most basic ingredient for the this platform is distributed file system. Basically MapReduce framework works in two steps, it Maps and then it Reduces. At the end of the workflow it writes the output to a distributed file system (GFS for Google or HDFS for Hadoop). GFS is proprietory to Google, and it’s implemented in userspace as opposed to be in kernel. Please find Google Research Publication for GFS here.

Some people say that the implementation is low-level and some tried to add more layer to original implementations. For example, Facebook layered Hive on Hadoop engine.

MapReduce framework is supposed to handle huge amount of data, so in general we will need a data structure that can hold/process this amount of data comfortably. Google implemented BigTable, and HBase is the open-source alternative from Hadoop.

I think I’ll look into Hadoop (Java implementation) and Qt Concurrent (Qt C++ implementation) of MapReduce.

Last.fm’s bashreduce look interesting, too.

Singaporean’s Insight into Myanmar

I just found an article titled “Myanmar Insights”, on a blog. The author seems to be a singaporean. Here are some of his comments:

  • most people sarongs (both men and women)
  • costs US$1500 to own a sim card (excluding mobile phone and calling charges)
  • limited imported cars; all mainly recycled & non-aircon
  • The buses are like lorries which ferried many
  • Myanmar uses two currencies; US and kyats (they’ve 2 exchange rates – official vs black mkt)
  • There are 3 seasons (dry & hot, wet & hot, dry & less hot – unfortunately we went in the hottest season
  • Yahoo, hotmail & gmail are prohibited
  • Women use grinded tree bark on their faces as a form or sunscreen/ makeup (see below)
  • Many speak English, and they are known to be hardworking people
  • School fees costs US$1/ month in one of the unis
  • Blackouts are a way of life
  • Many children run along roads with a baby in hand to ask for money
  • Precious stones/ gems are one of the natural resources (incl sapphire, jade, emerald, etc)

And finally his conclusion:

on a last note, this trips highlights the contrast of lifestyles in singapore vs myanmar…which appears stark to me. and i hope many of us (including myself) dont have to lose it to appreciate our country (govt setup, infrastructure, etc)

Despite these comments, there are people who did enjoy travelling to Myanmar =)

Be more productive in 2007

There’s a show room for Ajax and DHTML scripts, that we can be used in our works. If you like nifty corners, you will also be impressed by spiffy corners.

This is how we can integrate Gmail into our daily lives. And IMified just makes our instant messengers more applicable and useful.

IMified

I also found Backpack from IMified banner, which has many features that Gmail has been missing.

Backpack is a simple web-based service that allows you to make pages with to-do lists, notes, files, and images. Backpack also features a Calendar and Reminders that can be sent via email or to your cell phone at predefined times.

Backpack

Vulgar Display of Power

Myanmar is always popular for its extreme censorship in internet surfing, along with China Iran, Libya, North Korea, Vietnam. We, people in Myanmar, are not to surf political, and pornography sites. So the ISPs employed a firewall to filter out those sites. It’s still acceptable because we can still browse thoudsands of other websites. But now again, they blocked this site and dubbed it the pornography site.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

It’s the same old my ISP again, BaganNET. I am not even sure about that the cache administrator can read English properly or just too dumb to classify the websites accordingly. I am wondering when those funny people will stop acting like children.

Let There Be Light!

I never thought that the darkness could irritate me so much, and the electricity has been the greatest discovery. Yangon, the largest city of Myanmar, has been suffering electricity shortage for years, and I believe this time is the worst. In the area I’m living in, we have 24 hours without electricity every other day, and on the other day we can only have electricity about 6 hours or sometimes less.

What do you do when you are in the dark for several hours? Can’t read books, can’t watch TV, can’t browse the Internet, can’t keep foods in refrigerator, can’t turn on the fan. After all, I become to hate all the devices and inventions that require me to have electricity to use them.

Well, my laptop’s batteries are full now. I hope it’s enough for a 1.5 hour movie, and I don’t have to pass another night in full darkness.

Sun, Java & OSS

I, actually “we” my wife and me, just came back from my holiday trip to Chaung Tha Beach. The beach was quiet last two days, and went live just before we left. The wind was still and there’s no virtually no tidal waves at all, and there was no point for us to getting into the sea enjoying the waves. We did enjoy the sands, beach, and sea foods there.

When I got back to Yangon, turned on the computer, and there was a great news waiting. The father of Java technology, James Gosling, has spoken Sun’s open sourcing of J2SE and J2ME. There’s an interview with him. Java will be released under GPLv2. Yes, according to GPL, when we write java programs (I actually meant when we are using Sun’s components and libraries), our code should be released in GPL because we’re using GPL’ed libraries (in this case Sun’s JDK). But luckily, Sun’s releasing JDK with Classpath exception. GNU Classpath is the free implementation of standard class libraries for Java.

Excerpt:

Q:
What is the Classpath exception?
A:
The Classpath exception was developed by the Free Software Foundation’s GNU/Classpath Project (see http://www.gnu.org/software/classpath/license.html). It allows you to link an application available under any license to a library that is part of software licensed under GPL v2, without that application being subject to the GPL’s requirement to be itself offered to the public under the GPL.

The whole FAQs about the process and terms can be found here. And then there are three new java open-source communities. Of these three, OpenJDK and GlassFish has catched my eye.

Oh! Wait! Netbeans 5.5 is out there, and there’s even an article for Netbeans and OpenJDK.

Currently, I’m busy learning how to bake the cake and how to ignite the code. These two are very similar and still have support for PHP4, unlike Symfony. I guess my future projects will be based on them.

Java Virtual Machine Options

Until I’ve tried to run java programs in low memory PCs, I always thought there’s always enough memory for Java Virtual Machines. This time, I’m with Java HotSpot Server VM, and it even fails to run simple

java -version

After consulting with Sun’s Java Hotspot VM Options Document and this, I added this option when launching JVM.

java -Xmx64m -version

That sets the maximum heap size for Java, and it works!

New Tools This Week

Edgy Eft

It’s probably the most exciting week of this year. Fedora Core 6 (Zod) was out 2 days ago, and Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) is out today. They both promise exciting new features. Although I’m not a zealous Fedora fan, I think I will try this version. Currently I’m still with Gentoo on my notebook and Ubuntu (Breezy Badger) on my desktop. I will try Fedora’s Compiz windows manager, which I can never get it working on my Gentoo and Ubuntu.

Zod

Another exciting news again is Firefox 2.0 is now available for download. Some of my plug-ins seem to stop working. I think I’ll have to wait a few more days for the plug-in’s to get updated. This week is indeed full of fun.

Lastly I became a CIW Security Professional on September 15, 2006. Still don’t know which track I should go next. Maybe MCSA, because it will make me a CIW Security Analyst. I still want to sit some programming exams like MCTS or SCJP.