Friday, November 30, 2007

Fulfilling the unlived life

Australian media reports that according to a new study, two-thirds of Australians were more likely to share personal information with other people on the Internet than they would in person. Just over half of Australians published three or more types of personal information on blogs, social networking sites or online shopping sites, while a third published their home address and two thirds revealed their real name.

Two-thirds of respondents also said people post personal information online without thinking through the possible consequences. Australians are more trusting online than in person — and it's putting them at risk.

Australians are facing an online identity crisis, using the web and social networking sites to unleash their alter egos, new research suggests.

Woolcott Research and was commissioned by Internet security firm Symantec to conduct the survey. It found Australians typically had more than 10 virtual identities. They included profiles on sites like MySpace and YouTube, email accounts, game avatars and characters in virtual worlds.

"This is what we used to call multiple personality disorder," said Andrew Fuller, a clinical psychologist and fellow of the University of Melbourne's Department of Psychiatry.

Andrew Fuller said the relative anonymity of the Internet encouraged people to be more open with their character, particularly in sites devoted to social networking, dating or gaming.

"Their online profile is more about who they would like to be, rather than who they really are," Dr Fuller said.

Symantec, says criminals could use information found in online profiles to commit fraud in the real-world ("identity theft"), or for social engineering.

Symantec regional consumer business vice-president David Freer said the biggest step towards preventing identity theft was education and that users should be wary of which details they provide online.

"Our internet security threat reports have seen the number of attacks double over the last six months," he said.

More than 2 billion deceptive messages attempting to elicit personal information from users – known as phishing attempts – had been detected so far this year, Mr Freer said.

"We suggest to people that they really look at what they're sharing online. Do you really need to put the information up online that you have?," he said.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Writers strike costs $US21m a day

The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike which is a strike by both the Writers Guild of America, East(EGA) and the Writers Guild of America, west(WGA) that started on November 5, 2007. The two labor unions represent 12,000 members of film, television and radio writers working in the United States.The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed last week to return to the bargaining table on November 26.

According to reports this strike against major studios will cost at least $US21 million ($24 million) a day in television production spending alone and idle 10,000 workers if it lasts much longer, experts say.

The latest estimate accounts only for lost wages and other production costs in the Los Angeles area.

The writers have been demanding for a greater share of revenues from the Internet, widely seen as the future distribution pipeline of choice for filmed entertainment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hong Kong takes aim at thriving Islamic finance

Hong Kong's market watchdog has cleared the way for the territory's first Islamic fund, as the financial centre tries to compete with Singapore and Malaysia as a hub for Muslim investment.

“To further consolidate Hong Kong’s position as a global financial center, we should actively leverage on this new trend by developing an Islamic financial platform in Hong Kong,” Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive told legislators in his annual policy address this year.

“Apart from stepping up our efforts to promote Hong Kong’s financial services to major Islamic countries and regions, we will focus on developing an Islamic bond market," he said.

Islamic finance fuses principles of sharia or Islamic law and modern banking. Funds are banned from investing in companies associated with tobacco, alcohol or gambling, considered taboo by Muslims.

The system also bans the earning of interest.

A report earlier this year valued Islamic financial assets currently under management at more than 400 billion US dollars worldwide, with the industry growing at double digits annually.

Malaysia has "effectively established itself as the regional, if not global, hub for Islamic finance," said the report by Financial Insights, a company under market research and analysis firm International Data Corp (IDC).

Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and Singapore are also promoting Islamic finance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

US revamps Medicare

Starting next week in the United States, those eligible for Medicare can begin enrolling in the optional drug plan for 2008, with a dizzying array of choices — and potential premium increases for 74% of those who currently have a stand-alone drug plan.

About 1.6 million low-income enrollees will be switched from their current plans to other insurers because premiums rose above a government benchmark.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people over 65 that has been in existence for more than 40 years in the United States. Congress added a prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, two years ago.

Although Part D is subsidized by the federal government, it is run by private companies, many of which have aggressively marketed their products.

It’s that time of year again when seniors who want to switch their drug plans have to sift through the fine print of stacks of documents.

There are 55 Medicare prescription drug plans along with thousands of other Medicare supplement programs for sale, according to the state Office for the Aging. When those choices are added to the need to coordinate drug coverage, many Medicare beneficiaries are faced with what the office called "a complex maze of choices.''

Medicare officials say that people can avoid premium increases next year: "In every state, people will be able to find a plan that costs less than $20 a month," says Herb Kuhn of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Therefore it pays for seniors to shop around.

The average monthly premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan will increase to $25 next year, a 13 percent increase, according to the federal government. The plans were created in 2005 to offer more coverage to the country’s 43 million Medicare customers who rely on Medicare for their health care.

In general, United States is opposed to any "socialized programme", yet they do have some “socialized” programmes . Some examples include fire protection, police services, garbage pick up, roads, parks, schools etc. But health care is not one of them. This health care system is broken and serves only private interests. It seems in the US system, the insurance companies have far too much power over decisions regarding a patients health care needs. The United States has the highest per capita health care spending in the world, with comparatively disappointing results compared to European models of health care.

One of the fundamental problem that the US faces is that the ratio of workers paying Medicare taxes to retirees drawing benefits is shrinking at the same time that the price of health care services per person is increasing. Currently there are 3.9 workers paying taxes into Medicare for every older American receiving services. By 2030, as the baby boom generation retires, that is projected to drop to 2.4 workers for each beneficiary. Thus financing the medicare is going to be a huge task.

According to the Census Bureau's 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS), there were 45.8 million uninsured individuals in 2004, or 15.7% of the civilian non-institutionalized population. Since virtually all individuals over age 65 are covered by Medicare, the uninsured are primarily adults under age 65 and children who do not have medical insurance.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Singapore pays tribute to Sim Kee Boon

Former top civil service head Sim Kee Boon, who had been battling stomach cancer for 15 years, died on Friday morning. He was 78.

Mr Sim is one of the most well-known and respected public figure, who headed the civil service from 1979 to 1984, and had held numerous top positions in the public sector and statutory boards. He is survived by his wife Jeanette Sim, 76, five sons and five grandchildren.

The passing of former civil service head Mr Sim Kee Boon is a "loss" to the nation, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Lee said Singapore owed an 'enormous debt' to public servants such as Mr Sim. "They grew up; they saw the country change; they made the change happen."

The prime minister said that as head of the civil service from 1979 to 1984, Mr Sim set the tone for the organisation and led it to achieve many highs, including the building of Changi Airport.

Tributes poured in from many who had worked with him in the civil service and business community. Many who knew him described Mr Sim as "a very sharp and intuitive man, and a good teacher." It is reported that whenever he's at any airport, he would make an effort to look around. He is known to go to the airport about one or two hours earlier and board the plane at the last minute. A hands-on man with exacting standards, he made frequent unannounced walks around the Changi terminals, instituting the habit of Management by Walking Around (MBW) in CAAS.

Leading the tributes from the Keppel group where Mr. Sim presided 16 years as Excecutive Chairman, Mr Lim Chee Onn, the current Executive Chairman of Keppel Corporation, said: "He developed a strong and stable platform for Keppel upon which we have been able to develop and grow at a sustained pace during these last 8 years. Keppel's success today is a result of his vision and efforts.

Mr. Sim is an outstanding personality who has left his mark on a country that is proud of and grateful for his contribution.

Friday, November 09, 2007

C K Prahalad: Rising Indian thinkers

C K Prahalad, India-born management guru and academician, has been voted the world's most influential living management thinker ahead of hands-on managers like Bill Gates, Alan Greenspan and Richard Branson.

C.K. Prahalad is Harvey C. Fruehauf Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Corporate Strategy and International Business at the University of Michigan Business School. The recipient of the Global Indian Award from the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence, Prahalad is a globally recognized business consultant. His groundbreaking article, “The End of Corporate Imperialism," won the 1998 McKinsey Prize as the year’s best Harvard Business Review article.

Prahalad, who is the first Indian-origin thinker to claim the title, was ranked number three in last year's Thinkers 50 list brought out by Suntop Media. The Thinkers 50 2005 was developed as a guide to which thinkers and ideas are currently having greatest impact in business.

"Best known for his work 'Competing for the Future' with Gary Hamel (ranked 5th) on resource-based strategy, which gave rise to the term core competences, more recently, Prahalad has turned his attention to the plight of the worlds poor," said Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove of Suntop Media.

In his book "The Bottom of the Pyramid", he argues that capitalism can be the engine to eradicate poverty.

“If we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden, and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs, a whole new world of opportunity will open up,” he explains.

In economics, the bottom of the pyramid is the largest, but poorest socio-economic group. In global terms, this is the four billion people who live on less than $2 per day, typically in developing countries. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Alibaba IPO soars to pre dot com heights is China’s largest business-to-business trading website for companies. On Tuesday, saw its shares triple after its initial public offering rocketed 192% on the Hong Kong stock exchange. sold 858.9 million IPO shares, or 17% of its enlarged share capital, in a deal handled by Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. The stock performance raised $1.5 billion in the largest high tech offering since Google went public in 2004.

Founded in 1999 as a bulletin board for businesses leads, the Web site connects companies looking to import and export Chinese goods. The company said recently that at the end of June its online marketplaces had more than 24 million members.

The IPO is being closely followed because it is rare for an Asian technology company to decide to list in Hong Kong. In the past, such companies have typically sought to join the technology-focused Nasdaq in the US.

In 2005, Yahoo paid $1bn and contributed its own struggling Chinese internet business in return for a stake its Alibaba.

Alibaba is valued at $8.8bn, while Yahoo’s investment is worth $3.4bn.

The success of this business-to-business Web site is the most visible sign that the Internet is opening entrepreneurial opportunities in a way never before seen in China. With more than 162 million Internet users, China is close to surpassing the United States - and that's a fraction in a country with a population of 1.3 billion. business model is making it easier for Chinese manufacturers to run their businesses and to connect with companies around the world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Microsoft and Reliance to offer IPTV in India

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, and Reliance Communications Ltd. agreed for several technological collaborations, including software for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), WiMAX and a software development toolkit for the Internet, the personal computer and mobile phones.

Reliance, India's second-largest mobile-phone operator, will have the sole rights for Microsoft's Mediaroom TV software in India, the companies said today. The Mumbai-based company plans to spend $500 million on license fees to Microsoft and investments over several years in its network for the services, said Reliance Chairman Anil Ambani.

Microsoft will use the existing Reliance fiber network to develop a solution for its IPTV services. IPTV launch in Mumbai and Delhi is expected to be by the end of the year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

No easy divorce without pre-nup

When Sir Paul McCartney married Heather Mills, the famous beatle decided not have a prenuptial agreement as he thought it would kill the romance in the relationship. Experts say that one in three of all first marriages ending in divorce, and with 50 percent of second or third ones hitting the skids, a prenup is smart financial planning tool that can save painful heartaches later. A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people about to wed that spells out how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death.

After four years of marriage which began in at a remote countryside castle in Ireland in 2002, the couple have spilt and are going through divorce proceedings. This divorce contest has become one of the most nasty break-ups in recent times. The British media has turned against Mills who is portrayed as gold digger, a fantasist, a liar, and a whore.

There are reports that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills have agreed a $100 million divorce settlement, it is believed the Beatles legend is worth an estimated $1.7 billion .