Off balance: Police Segways faulty, says maker

By Julian Matthews

04 October 2003

YES, they need fixing, and someone’s on the way to do it.

Self-balancing scooter company Segway LLC is flying in technicians to fix the Singapore Police Force’s four faulty Segway Human Transporters (HTs).

The Singapore police confirmed yesterday that the machines they bought for US$20,600 ($35,500) for trials in June - and seen in Changi airport - were among the models affected by a global recall announced last week.

Said police spokesman ASP Stanley Norbert: ‘Technicians from Segway will be arriving in Singapore within a fortnight to upgrade the machines’ software.’

He added that there was no incident of officers falling off the two-wheeled, motorised machines due to low battery levels during the trials.

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Focus on services, says Acer’s Shih

by Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR: Acer cofounder Datuk Dr Stan Shih advises Malaysia to focus on services in order to get ahead of the curve and compete in a globalised economy.

He said thinning margins in hardware manufacturing and the rise of China as the “factory of the world” has left manufacturing-dependent countries like Malaysia with little choice.

“The services industry is the next wave in economic development. In advanced countries, the services sector comprises two-thirds of their economies. There are higher returns and more opportunities in services.

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Book review: Jeremy Rifkin: Still relevant … perhaps more so

BY ANITA MATTHEWS

How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Capitalism
Written by Jeremy Rifkin
Publisher: Penguin (2001)

AUTHOR Jeremy Rifkin’s book titled The Age of Access: How the Shift from Ownership to Access is Transforming Capitalism is a bold warning of how society is hurtling happily to a life of “paid experiences.”

Blame it on the forces of globalisation, pervasive technology and the growing culture of instant gratification. But as Rifkin has it, we are apparently warming up and embracing the trend of paying for everything including stuff that can be got for nothing.

The edition that I read was published two years ago, so why pay any attention to a dated version and for that matter, why read this review?

Simply because it is a noteworthy read and a good follow-up to his previous books that included the 1995 bestseller The End of Work, that was on the mark about how technology in use at the workplace will eventually displace jobs.

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Malaysians abroad: Plotting a food path

By Anita Matthews

Yougeswari Subramanian literally fled her parents when she moved to New Zealand in 1991. Her husband Vijay had joined his sibling in Auckland in November 1987 when Vijay’s business venture fell through. “My five-month-old daughter Santhiya and I moved back to my parents home in Buntong,” said the 42-year-old mother of two.

Moving home brought back embittered childhood memories where Youges, the sixth of seven siblings, was forced to cook and clean in her family home. Having lost an older sister, Youges became the only daughter and indirectly burdened with housework. “Even as a 12-year-old I had learn how to budget the weekly expenses, buy groceries for the week and cook meals daily. I could not understand why my mother made me do all these things and felt that life dealt me a bitter blow at such a young age,” she recalled.
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Malaysians abroad: Helping troubled children

By Anita Matthews

PSYCHOLOGIST Lim Eng Leong remembers his late father’s advice well. “My father always said that in whatever we do, to do it to our best and pursue it to the highest,” recalled the 42-year-old former secondary school teacher.


Coming from a middle class family, the Kuala-Lumpur born Lim could have easily followed his father into the legal world but opted to teach upon receiving his bachelor degree from University Sains Malaysia in 1984. He spent 10 memorable years teaching at secondary schools in rural parts of Selangor that also included a stint at a Petaling Jaya suburb. Yet Lim felt he was not doing enough.

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Homeschoolers wary of virtual classes

By Anita Matthews

Homeschooling parents in the United States now have the choice of sending their children to kindergarten and primary schools in cyberspace, courtesy of programmes initiated by the states and private entities.

Some have embraced it; others are questioning it.

In New Zealand, Homeschooling Federation founder Claire Aumonier is wary of ceding the entire learning experience of a toddler or young child to the computer.

“I don’t see virtual schools inundating homeschoolers but I do see the Government leaning towards it because they are cheaper,” she says.

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Smart digital future home locked up

2:00AM Tuesday May 27, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

If you think the term “smart home” has entered the technology vernacular along with the catchphrases smart card, smart phone, smart cars and smart school, think again.

New Zealand home automation company SmartHome Ltd claims it has had exclusive rights to use the term since 1999.

Business development manager Shane Walls-Harris said the company registered “smart home” with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (Iponz) and had a monopoly on its use within the context of home automation systems.

In fact, SmartHome has also registered related terms: smart house, future home, digital house, intelligent house and other variants.
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Policy needed to curb e-mail abuse

By Anita Matthews

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) Inc urged companies to be proactive and spell out a policy on Internet surfing and e-mail use to prevent unauthorised or careless use by employees.

Its advisory services manager Peter Tritt said a comprehensive policy would protect employers from vicarious liability as well as educate users about legal risks that they might inadvertently take.

“Having supplied a computer for work, employers have the right to make sure it is being used for that purpose. This means you can access e-mails on the computer and monitor time spent and websites visited. Most employees forget that using the Internet and e-mail at work is at the employer’s resource and therefore, not a private affair,” he said after panel discussion organised by software security firm Clearswift (Asia/Pacific) Pty Limited in Auckland in May.

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Malaysians abroad: A professor’s cognitive journey

By Anita Matthews

Prof Yeap SCIENTIST Yeap Wai Kiang’s room at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) located in Penrose is trim and tidy. The lack of clutter belies the zeal and utter passion the Malaysian-born professor has dedicated in the pursuit of artificial intelligence - a subject that has consumed his entire career.

Yeap first discovered the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) as an undergraduate at the University of Essex in England. Back in 1975, AI was just emerging as a new field of study.

“I was fascinated by AI and was lucky as there was a group of people with a strong interest in the subject which led me to do research in the area,” recalled the former Anglo-Chinese School student from Kampar, Perak.
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It’s mother’s little helper

12:00AM, Thursday April 17, 2003

By ANITA MATTHEWS

With thousands of websites catering to mothers, what more can a newly launched mummy-type site offer to make a real difference?

Andrew Robinson (left) and Peter Evans, directors of Experteach and Ammas.com Ltd. Picture / Fotopress
Andrew Robinson (left) and Peter Evans, directors of Experteach and Ammas.com Ltd. Picture / Fotopress

Well, mums.co.nz reckons it will give mothers a chance to increase their knowledge and share expert advice that is rated and ranked by their peers.

Fashioned after India’s lifestyle site Ammas.com, whose growth was largely fuelled by volunteers, the Kiwi edition hopes to build a web community as large as its predecessor and reward mothers who have contributed to its growth.

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