Harness STEM for engineering


https://rightways.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/8748e-iem1.jpgDATUK IR. LIM CHOW HOCK, President The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia

AS Malaysia gears up to developed nation status by 2020, there is still much to do to get there.

One of the most direct ways to arrive at the vision is to ensure a sufficient and growing number of engineers.

Increase in the number of engineering students is paramount to meet the nation’s need for engineers who would implement and maintain the many economic development projects.

During his visit to the International Bureau of Education (IBE) in Geneva in April, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin spoke of the need for Malaysia to harness skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Muhyiddin also pointed out that the countries which started on the same level as Malaysia had moved much further ahead, crediting it to their wisdom in making full use of STEM to boost their country’s fortunes.

As such, he emphasised the need for human capital development in STEM, which he considers vital in the national transformation process.

To achieve this, a strategy comprising a series of actionable plans must be able to support the production rates needed for generating skilled STEM human capital at two levels, namely secondary schools and tertiary institutions, to reach the target of 500,000 STEM graduates by 2020, according to Muhyiddin.

Although the solution is apparent, its execution remains challenging.

One of the factors hindering this step to greater national development is getting students to love science, or science classes. Science and mathematics as school subjects must be made interesting, easy to understand, as well as more hands-on and exploratory. This is in line with the Government’s aim for 60% science and technology-based education by 2020.

For the engineering profession, interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in school will result in more qualified students who are eligible to pursue engineering courses in universities.

Through the increase in engineering students, the nation’s need for engineers would be met. This would translate into greater implementation and maintenance of the country’s economic development projects.

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) lauds the Government’s effort to promote interest among students to study science in schools.

Without the large number of science students, there will surely be a corresponding limitation in the ability of universities to produce the number of engineers needed.

As a national association with the nation’s interests at heart, IEM has been actively involved in conducting school career awareness talks, arranging competitions and exhibiting interesting projects on engineering to school children to promote interest in engineering. IEM has also set up IEM Student to encourage students to choose sections in various universities in Malaysia.

Engineering students are also encouraged to join IEM as Student Members which will enable them to access IEM resources and activities such as talks and networking. IEM is one of the supporting members (together with AAET, MiGHT, Utar and NSC) for the Kuala Lumpur Engineering Science Fair, an annual programme to promote interest in STEM among primary and secondary school pupils.

We believe that career prospects will be a major factor in the students’ decision in their studies and career options.

Prospects for engineers include top level positions, attractive remuneration as well as status recognition, which will be a great motivation for students to take up STEM Education and thus pursue a career in engineering.

Students must be made aware that job prospects for engineering graduates remain bright as Government allocation for infrastructure development has supported the demand for engineers.

National development towards an industrial nation has also spurred the demand for engineers.

Students, and parents too, must realise that a career in engineering is not only limited to the five traditional branches of engineering, namely Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic and Chemical Engineering. Through the years, engineering has expanded into many new disciplines such as Aeronautical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Maritime Engineering, Mining Engineering, Oil and Gas Engineering, among many others, which would be exciting career options for students.

The Government being the largest employer should provide equal opportunity and create a structured pathway for all science-based professionals, in particular engineers, to take up high positions in the civil service.

Recognition of the contribution of engineering success and seeing it as a pathway to top positions in the civil service will be a great motivator for students to pursue STEM education in Malaysia.
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15 May 2015
However,in 2009, IEM further amended the constitution to allow only graduate members and corporate members, who are not professional engineers, to use the title “Engr” before their names. This will … In so far as the approving authorities are concerned, the title “Engr” does not pose any confusion because all submission of plans need to have the stamp of a
professional engineer (P.Eng.) with the title “Ir” as required by the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM).

 

It is necessary for the nation to embrace Stem education in order to reach new heights. IT is imperative that schools and educational …

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IN our previous article (Stem education for life to reach new heights) we talked about the engineering feats of the 20th century, what STEM (Science, Technology,   Engineering and Mathematics) stands for and some
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Council slow to act on Botak Hill which is to be patched up soon


An eyesore: Mitigation works being carried out to restore the cleared slopes of Bukit Relau.An eyesore: Mitigation works being carried out to restore the cleared slopes of Bukit Relau.
Council slow to act on Botak Hill

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council has come under fire for taking such a long time to tackle the illegal hill clearing at Bukit Relau.

Bayan Baru PKR MP Sim Tze Tzin (pcs left) said it should not have taken so long to carry out mitigation work at the 22.89ha site which became known as Botak Hill after it was cleared.

“When the issue broke out in 2013, I called a senior council officer who told me that it would be settled within six months.

“But after two years, the problem is still not settled.

“This is not rocket science. What is so difficult?” he told a press conference yesterday in Sungai Dua near here.

Sim said someone should be held responsible for the delay and urged the state to find the culprit.

“The person has to be punished as this has to do with accountability.

“If you cannot do the job, then resign to let other people do it,” he said.

Sim was commenting on the latest news report which stated that the mitigation work being carried out by General Accomplishment Sdn Bhd was scheduled to be completed by October. – The Star 15/7/15

Botak Hill to be patched up soon

GEORGE TOWN: Mitigation works on Bukit Relau, infamously known as Botak Hill after a section of its top slope was cleared in 2013, is scheduled to be completed by October.The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) said the mitigation works started in April and was expected to be completed in six months.

The council said it had endorsed the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan (ESCP) and slope strengthening design to mitigate landslips and pollution caused by mud flow based on the proposal by the geotechnical consultant appointed by General Accomplish-ment Sdn Bhd which owns the cleared site.

MBPP said the mitigation plan was vetted by the state’s Hillside Geotechnical Advisory Panel chairman Dr Gue See Sew.

General Accomplishment was fined RM30,000 by a Sessions Court here in July 2013 after a represen-tative pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to clearing the 22.89ha site between April 24 and May 8 the same year without obtaining written approval from then Penang Municipal Council (MPPP).

The offence under Section 70 A of the Street, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 carries a maximum five-year imprisonment or maximum RM50,000 fine, or both.

MBPP said in a statement yesterday that the mitigation measures include the building of a few catchment and sedimentation ponds along the access route to the site, cutting the slope to reduce its steepness and covering the exposed slope with vegetation.

The council said the works also involved the building of cascading drains along the access route to dissipate the energy of surface runoff and mitigate soil erosion.

Several residents living nearby had earlier this month raised their concern after seeing earthworks being done at the site.

MBPP said the land cutting was done to allow access for heavy vehicles and to carry out rock blasting.

It said huge boulders needed to be removed to ensure a safe route and for the mitigation works to proceed, adding that the rock blasting was approved by the Minerals and Geoscience Depart-ment and police.

MBPP said it would continue to monitor the works to ensure that it was carried out in accordance with the approved mitigation plan.

It said grass had been planted on the access route to prevent erosion and that more plants could now be seen on the cleared slope. – The Star 14/7/15

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Hiking with children is good for the whole family


Hiking_family

Hiking as a family has built strong bonds, made beautiful memories and improved health. And everyone has learnt to be more creative in tackling obstacles as they are no longer couch potatoes!

THE day I traded my high heels for hiking shoes, the malls for hills and the stale city air for fresh jungle air, my life was never the same again.

It all began when my dear hubby Adrian Yeong took up hiking. He had been hiking close to six months to improve his health and fitness when I saw the changes in him: he had shed 13 kilos and was much fitter and healthier than before. Finally one day, I agreed to join him.

Wasting no time, he got me my first pair of hiking shoes. I had my first taste of hiking at the Challenger trail in Gasing Hill, Petaling Jaya, on August 1, 2010. Since then, Gasing Hill has become our regular training ground.

Friends who heard of our hiking activities thought we were crazy to hike three times a week and when they learnt that we also brought our younger four children along with us, in their dictionary, we were well…insane. Why bother doing such tiring activities?

Many would not consider hiking with kids, supposedly because: “They will complain!”, “They will cry!”, “They will not want to walk!”

Our children being city kids were no angels either. They were always trying to find excuses to escape from hiking so that they could spend time at home instead, watching television and playing computer games. But as parents, we had the last say and so our hiking journey began…

The writer carrying her youngest son, Joseph, on her back, while climbing Gunung Datuk.

By training our children, who were then one-plus, three, seven and ten years old to hike, all of us eventually got fitter and stronger. Our speed and endurance improved. In a short span of five months, Adrian and I did 50 hikes while our kids went on 30 hikes with us.

We had explored almost all the hills and a few waterfalls in the Klang Valley. After a while, it felt a bit boring hiking the same hills. I dreamt of exploring further but often doubted if we were up to the challenge of hiking more than an hour plus with our young kids.

Little did I know that one day I would get to know a Facebook friend, Michael Mui, and that our feet would soon hit real mountains. Mui got to know of our family hiking activities and invited us to join him to hike Gunung Angsi and Gunung Datuk (both in Negri Sembilan).

In his own words, he described these mountains as “a stroll in the park!” That was our first event with the Freewill Hikers Club, a dynamic hiking group based in Johor led by Captain Richard Yeoh. My husband, being an adventurous guy, took up the idea immediately and the rest is history.

On August 11, 2012, Adrian and I, together with our young hikers, hiked our first two mountains Gunung Angsi and Gunung Datuk, on consecutive days. My two kids Audrey (then aged 12) and Dylan (nine) hiked on their own accompanied by our new friends while I carried Joshua (five) on and off as he happened to be a bit moody in the beginning.

The writer with her husband, Adrian Yeong, and their kids on the peak of Broga Hill, Selangor.

My capable hubby backpacked Lil Joseph (three years old and 12kg in weight) up to the peak of Gunung Angsi and back. Hiking more than an hour with heavier loads than other hikers made it tough.

To make matters worse, wearing the new hiking boots I got him as a surprise, he twisted his ankle during the hike. Despite having applied some ointment over the night, he still had not recovered from the injury and so I volunteered to backpack Lil Joseph up Gunung Datuk the next day.

I remembered assuring my dear hubby that I would hand the little boy over to him should the going get too tough. My hubby agreed to my suggestion. That was my first hike carrying my son up a mountain.

It was my first experience and I found Gunung Datuk to be a steep mountain, with endless roots along the way. Carrying my little boy up weighed me down though I found it quite easy to go on all fours, pulling myself up by tree roots.

Our new friends from Freewill Hikers were very helpful and took care of our two older kids, Audrey and Dylan. While Audrey was slow and steady, Dylan flew up with them and managed to reach the peak in 1 hour 40 minutes; whereas, with my load, we took about 30 minutes more.

It was tiring and our friends kept bluffing us — “You are almost there”, “15 minutes more to the peak”, “Just another 15 minutes more” — in the name of encouragement.

To reach the actual peak of Gunung Datuk, the writer’s family had to clamber up these ladders.

Nevertheless, we made it. At the false peak, I told my husband: “Darling, you take over. I am too tired!”

I handed my little boy over to my hubby to tackle the metal ladder that leads to the actual peak of Gunung Datuk as I was just too exhausted. We had all made it up to Gunung Datuk!

Those were our first two mountains — tough but rewarding. The next few months that followed saw us at Gunung Lambak, Gunung Belumut and Gunung Panti (all three in southern Johor, near Kluang).

Our toughest hike with Lil Jo was Gunung Belumut. Our little boy now weighed 15 kilos and he had not been trained as he was small. He also often pretended to be a 4WD stuck in the mud whilst hiking with his siblings, an idea he got from the multiple off-road trips we had gone for.

I uttered a prayer in the morning, “Dear God, I don’t know how we are going to make it hiking up Belumut but I ask for your help and enablement, in Jesus’ name.”

I came up with a plan. Conserve our energies, get the boy who normally walked only for half an hour to hike as far and as fast as he could. Motivating him, I said, “Jo, you need to look for 10 ant trails and you will get an ice-cream.”

The writer (centre) with her children, husband (right) and Lee Keam Keong of Freewill Hikers at the peak of Gunung Belumut (1,010m) in Kluang, Johor.

So I promised him and we went hunting all the way. He played with twigs, pretending they were rifles and he was soon blasting and shooting away, chasing his brother Joshua and another a new friend, a boy about six, named Rain, who was the grandson of Captain Richard Yeoh of the Freewill Hikers Club.

He played all the way and when he was tired, I gave him some drinks to boost his energy. I also talked, joked and laughed with him in order to distract him from the distance we had to cover. Lo and behold, my four-year-old boy successfully hiked up to the peak in four hours without being carried. It was a miracle indeed. My prayers were answered.

On the way down, Lil Joseph was now tired and had to be carried by his strong daddy. Adrian later shared that it was easier to carry a 15kg bagpack rather than our little boy as he kept swaying to and fro in the baby carrier as he tackled the tough steep terrain, squeezing through tight spots and at times jumping over gullies and large tree roots. After descending for over two hours, his neck and shoulders were stiff.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and we’ve had to build up our strength as well as our endurance in hiking. Being positive has made us conquerors. With sufficient training and preparations, we’ve tackled various mountains.

Our conclusion on hiking with kids: it’s not easy and did not happen overnight. But it’s not mission impossible either as kids have new engines and are fast learners.

By clocking the hours and allowing them to master hiking skills, we’ve built up their fitness and confidence. After time, they have become capable hikers.

Hiking together as a family has been rewarding as we’ve built strong bonds and made beautiful memories. We’ve inculcated healthier lifestyles and our children have learnt to tackle obstacles, to never give up and be optimistic.

It has taught them outdoor skills and built their appreciation of nature. It has made them strong, courageous and creative.

This is a win-win situation and I strongly encourage families to take up hiking as a regular family activity. Just make a change in your life and that of your family. Bring them out hiking. All you need is a good pair of hiking shoes, determination and motivation.

Go for it folks, don’t be a coach potato!

Backpacks, trekking poles, head lamps, a dry bag, a sleeping bag and a poncho are among the prizes being offered for those who write in about their Star2 Adventure Challenge.

By JESSY PHUAH The Star/Asian News Network

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Smartphone handset: build it yourselves


Build-your-own Google handset reconstructs smartphone

Barcelona (AFP) – With a smartphone that slots together piece by piece like Lego, US Internet giant Google is trying to reinvent the mobile as most phone makers are honing sleeker handsets.

The company aims to challenge its rival Apple’s thin iPhones with the Google Ara project, giving smartphone aficionados the option to build their phone themselves.

Analysts say tech boffins will love it but remain cautious about how popular it may be compared to polished conventional smartphones that sit snugly in the palm.

Google says the Ara phone is part of its bid to widen Internet access to users in developing countries and could create a new industry for assembly-ready handset parts.

Google’s associate, US firm Yezz, presented a prototype of the build-your-own device this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s biggest wireless telecom trade fair.

The phone consists of a base structure on which various square, magnetic modular parts can be attached: screen, battery, camera, speakers and more. Google plans to release it in three sizes.

Build-your-own Google handset reconstructs smartphone

Ara would allow users to replace individual components rather than throwing the whole thing away and buying a new handset. It says the base unit will last at least five or six years.

“That is good for the environment,” said Annette Zimmermann, a telecom specialist at German consultancy Gartner.

– Emerging markets –

Ara “could reshape the mobile landscape,” said Paul Eremenko, director of the Ara Project, in a presentation to experts in January.

He said it aimed to gain six billion potential clients — the current billion people who currently use smartphones “and five billion future users”, most of them in emerging markets.

Google says a mid-range Ara phone could cost between $50 and $100 to produce, but has not given details of the likely sales price, leaving questions marks over how sustainable such a product would be.

“Google is not looking to make money directly with Ara,” said Jerome Colin, a telecom expert at French consultancy group Roland Berger.

“It is basically looking to spread smartphones in countries with low purchasing power, and to unify the telecom world around its Android system.”

– ‘Paradox of choice’ –

Tech fans and bloggers queued up to see the prototype presented in Barcelona, but analysts were sceptical.

“The trend in mobile phones is to have small, thin, really integrated products. If you make a product modular it immediately means that you’re going to have to make compromises on that,” said Ben Wood, head researcher at consultancy CCS Insight.

“The other question mark I have is: beyond geeks, who really knows” about components? he added.

“If I said to you, which processor do you want in your smartphone, I think you could stop people in the street and they’d just look at you like you’d landed from Mars.”

Eremenko acknowledged that consumers risked being overwhelmed by too many technical options when it comes to choosing components.

“We need to resolve the paradox of choice,” he said in January.

Google plans a test launch of the device in Puerto Rico by the end of this year.

“We will have to see if the public takes to it,” said Zimmerman.

Google dominates the world of Internet searches and its Android operating system can be used on 80 percent of the world’s smartphones. It also holds a large market share in wireless tablet devices.

Its senior vice-president Sundar Pichai said in Barcelona on Monday that it was in talks with telecom companies about possibly using their networks to operate its own mobile phone services in the United States.

AFP

Apple CEO apologizes over China warranties


Play Video

American technology giant, Apple, has issued a public letter of apology to Chinese consumers over the company’s warranty policies in China. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook signed the statement, saying the company is sorry for any “concerns or misunderstandings” that have been caused.

In the letter, Cook said that over the past two weeks, Apple has received feedback concerning its warranty policies in China and the company has “reflected” on this.

He said APPLE takes the feedback seriously and is seeking to allay concerns that the company was being arrogant by not responding to them. He said this was due to lack of communication on Apple’s part and that it was sorry for any inconvenience caused to consumers.

In the statement, Apple said the company is making four major adjustments to improve its after-sales services for Chinese consumers, including improving its warranty for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, enhancing supervision over and training for authorized service providers.

APPLE’s apology comes after the China Consumer’s Association asked Apple to “sincerely apologize” to Chinese consumers and “thoroughly correct its problems,” after taking little action to address criticism, started by China Central Television , which exposed Apple’s after-sales services failings in China in a special TV program.

The CCA demanded that Apple inform consumers if refurbished parts are used when repairing broken devices, and that repair costs should be calculated accordingly.

South Korea, Australia and Italy have filed similar claims against Apple, citing cases where refurbished products had been used to repair damaged iPhones, higher prices had been charged and its failure to publish warranty information in those countries.

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Smartphone users exposed to threats from cyber hackers


KUALA LUMPUR: About seven million smartphone users nationwide are exposed to threats from cyber hackers who make use of their gadgets to steal their money.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said lack of awareness on the risks of smartphone security made users easy victims.

“The modus operandi is to send short messaging service known as Trojans to users who unknowingly will be charged when replying to the SMS,” he said. “Consumers only realise this when they are slapped with high phone bills although they did not use the service.”

The scam was detected via applications such as “Type-On” which, when downloaded, would cause smartphone users to bear the cost although they had uninstalled the application.

Lookout Mobile Security was quoted by AFP as saying that worldwide, users lost millions of dollars last year via malware and toll fraud that attacked smartphone users for accessing applications from unofficial sources rather than trusted ones such as Apple or Google online shops.

Syed Ismail said police statistics recorded from January to September this year showed that losses incurred via SMS or phone calls totalled RM21.8mil.

The hackers target users of Internet banking or phone banking by hacking and abusing the network, including the online purchases of goods.

Online purchases recorded the highest losses of RM14.5mil (1,298 cases) followed by SMS or phone call with RM3.4mil (412 cases), hacking (RM3.3mil via 24 cases) and Internet banking and phone banking with RM590,000 (74 cases). – Bernama

iPhone 5 opens the door for Nokia, Samsung


There’s no doubt that the iPhone 5 is going to be a great, fast-selling smartphone, but it’s out-innovated by Nokia and Samsung.

  (Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

News flash: The iPhone 5 is not the end-all and be-all of the smartphone universe, a fact that should thrill Nokia and Samsung alike.

Here’s what it is: a strong improvement to the iPhone 4S that offers up a larger screen, 4G LTE speeds, and a terrific camera. The iPhone 5 carries on the goodness that Apple excels at, like iTunes entertainment and cloud storage.

But however good the iPhone 5 is, it lacks the knockout, gasp-inducing feature that Apple followers have come to expect: perhaps double the battery life of any other phone on the market, or an innovative camera feature that lets you drag and drop subjects around the screen, or other far-out concepts come to life.

Instead, we see a lot of catching up: LTE support, panorama mode, and photo capture while a video records, maps with turn-by-turn navigation, and a slightly larger screen with the same pixel density as on the iPhone 4 two generations ago. And it still lacks certain other perks, like NFC, which is useful for mobile payments, and for sharing content from phone to phone.

For the first time in a long time, Apple has given its rivals room to bask in their own innovations.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 is the anti-iPhone.

(Credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

The Nokia’s Lumia 920 offers wireless charging, for example, a capability it’ll pilot in coffee shops and airline lounges. Its camera is literally surrounded by springs, and the screen uses a very smart display filter that could match or even surpass the iPhone 5’s display (we have to wait to see them side by side.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 offers up an enormous 5.5-inch screen and a truckload of tricks with its S Pen stylus, and a new camera feature that will compile the best of a handful of group photos, increasing the chances that everyone’s smiling. Its phone/tablet hybrid is the antithesis of the smaller iPhone screen.

On the battery front, Motorola‘s new Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD can’t be beat; it features a powerful 3,300mAh battery that promises 21 hours of talk time to Apple’s 8 hours of talk time over 3G on the iPhone 5.

Make no mistake that the iPhone 5 will sell like wildfire and bring delight to Apple fans everywhere — in fact, I even think it makes for a great universal choice.

Yet its lack of a “gotcha” feature gives shoppers considering other powerful alternatives — like the intriguing Lumia 920, the larger-than-life Samsung Galaxy Note 2, or even the won’t-quit Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD — fewer reasons to stick with Apple.

Jessica Dolcourt

by Jessica Dolcourt  Newscribe : get free news in real time

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Smartphone Ascend P1 unveiled by Huawei Technologies


KUALA LUMPUR: With smartphones becoming an indispensable tool for staying connected on the social media networks, China-based Huawei Technologies has launched an affordable yet feature-rich model.

Many queued up as early as 6.30am to get their hands on the Ascend P1 at the introductory price of RM999 during its launch in KL Hilton yesterday.

Ong Boon Lin, 35, who was first in line, said he bought the phone for his wife as the larger screen would make it better for “reading news and books”.

“The Ascend P1 is a fast smartphone with a camera for capturing and sharing contents while on the move,” said Huawei country director for consumer business group Wong Wey Hwa.

A model with the Ascend P1 smartphone at the launch. A model with the Ascend P1 smartphone at the launch.

The phone has a large 4.3-inch screen, making it easy to browse the web, view images and watch high-definition videos. It also comes with 4GB of storage to store content, applications and games.

“Huawei has been working behind the scenes for many years by supplying infrastructure for network service providers,” said Wong. “We are now trying to grow our brand using online and social media with the Ascend P1.”

The smartphone, which is available currently in the Klang Valley, is expected to hit shelves nationwide in the coming weeks. The introductory price is valid until Malaysia Day.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported Huawei country director for consumer business group Wong Wey Hwa as saying that the company was aiming for double-digit sales growth in the Malaysian market.

“Last year, we did US$40mil sales in Malaysia for all our products,” he said, adding that the smartphone was expected to contribute 20% to 30% of the targeted double-digit sales growth.

Wong also announced the expansion of Huawei’s device business under a new distribution partnership with ECS ICT Bhd via its wholly-owned subsidiary, ECS Astar Sdn Bhd, which would open up access to over 3,000 resellers nationwide.

“Through our formal partnership with ECS in Malaysia, we are able to expand our product reach and offer more accessibility of our devices to everyone looking for value-added mobile connectivity,” he said.

Wong said Ascend P1 would be available at participating ECS retailers in the Klang Valley and in other places in the next few weeks.

For a review of the Ascend P1, check out TechCentral.my.

By CHONG JINN XIUNG starbiz@thestar.com.my

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Put an end to patent battle


An early settlement of the dispute between Samsung and Apple would benefit consumers and the global mobile device industry as a whole.\

An Apple Inc. iPad 2 and iPhone 4S smartphone, left, and a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer and Galaxy S III smartphone are arranged for a photograph in Seoul, South Korea, On Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics has suffered a crushing defeat in a landmark patent battle against Apple Inc. A US jury last Friday found that the Korean smartphone maker infringed upon a number of patents held by Apple, while the American tech giant did not violate any of its Korean rival’s intellectual properties.

The jury’s judgement is widely criticised here as unfair. But it is highly likely to be upheld by the California court, dealing a serious blow to Samsung, the world’s largest mobile device producer. Samsung accounted for 32.6% of the global market in the second quarter against Apple’s 16.9%.

The nine-member jury ordered Samsung to pay US$1.05bil (RM3.28bil) in damages to Apple. The damages – much larger than expected – could be doubled or even tripled by the judge overseeing the trial, given the jury’s scathing verdict that Samsung “willfully” infringed on Apple’s coveted patents.

Samsung also faces a US sales ban on its mobile devices. Following the trial win, Apple presented to the judge a list of Samsung products it wants barred. Apple identified eight Samsung smartphone and tablet models but did not include Samsung’s new flagships, the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note. Consequently, the sales ban, even if accepted by the court, is unlikely to have a serious impact on Samsung.

The US court’s ruling could also negatively affect patent battles between the two under way in nine countries over four continents. Unfavourable rulings in these countries would pour cold water on Samsung’s ambition to cement its global market leadership.

Furthermore, the jury seriously wounded Samsung’s pride by slamming it as a copycat. This is an insult hard to swallow, as Samsung has worked hard to secure leadership in mobile technology.

Given the high stakes involved, it is only natural that Samsung has decided to file post-verdict motions to overturn what it saw as the jury’s one-sided judgement. It plans to take the case to the court of appeals if its motions are rejected.

This suggests that the patent war will not end any time soon. Samsung is determined to continue the legal battle to make its case that Apple did encroach upon its hard-won patents for mobile technologies.

At the same time, Samsung is seeking to turn the tables in the next round of the battle by utilising its patents for fourth-generation technologies called “long-term evolution.”

Samsung is betting that it would be able to use some of its LTE patents as weapons against its rival because they have not been made open as industry standards. It is wondering how Apple can produce its next-generation model, the iPhone 5, without using its patented LTE technologies.

In light of Samsung’s technological prowess and deep pockets, the company will be able to overcome the grave challenge it is facing now.

For instance, it won’t have much difficulty paying the US$1.05bil (RM3.28bil) damages set by the jury, given that its net profit amounted to US$4.5bil (RM in April-June alone.

Yet Samsung should learn a lesson from the costly patent war. It is imperative for the company to transform itself from a fast follower to a first mover. It needs to go back to the drawing board to make its products truly innovative both in design and functions. It might want to risk a radical design that can differentiate its products from others.

Apple, emboldened by last Friday’s triumph, may be tempted to expand the patent war to collect royalties from other smartphone makers that rely on Google’s Android operating system. Yet it should realise that no company has ever succeeded in establishing market leadership through patent litigations. A company can only become a market leader through competition in the marketplace.

Apple also needs to know that any attempt to drive Android-based smartphone producers into a corner could backfire in the long term, as it will spur their efforts to become more innovative. With their survival at stake, they will be compelled to change the game as they cannot beat Apple at its own game.

In this regard, we urge Apple and Samsung to reach a deal that can benefit both. Apple could set royalties for Samsung at a level that would not undermine the Korean company’s earnings too much. An early settlement of the dispute would also benefit consumers and the global mobile device industry as a whole.

Korea Herald

By EDITORIAL DESK

 

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Apple patent claims stifling innovation; Japan court rules in favour of Samsung


Is Apple stifling innovation?

A US jury decision against Samsung and a Japanese court decision for the Korean conglomerate raise questions over the entire patent issue

WOULD anyone have expected the Apple-Samsung case to be decided in favour of Samsung by a US court in a jury verdict and against Apple, which is by now even more American than apple pie? I certainly didn’t.

But there is an appeal on the cards and it is still anyone’s guess if Apple will be allowed to claim such things as shape and “pinch to zoom out” as its right. But if it is, then that’s a big setback for other smartphones.

Samsung, however, scored a victory in a Tokyo court which ruled yesterday that the Korean electronics giant, and supplier to Apple, did not violate any patents. That victory will no doubt raise questions as to how fair the US jury was in making an award in favour of Apple, including US$1bil in damages.

The US decision means eventually consumers there may have to pay more for Apple’s iPhone, iPod and devices because others may not be able to emulate features that may have made their devices a success. That will have repercussions on prices elsewhere as well.

In the motor industry there have been many trends in shape over the years, moving from angular to rounded designs. If some car company had decided to sue every other car manufacturer for a similar look and feel and succeeded, car shapes may have had great difficulty evolving.

But the best manufacturers of cars did not. In fact some of them deliberately did not register safety patents just so that others could use the innovations to increase passenger safety.

If Samsung is said to have infringed on shape, then there are a number of other manufacturers who are in trouble too. Rectangular faces with rounded edges are a natural evolution in the mobile phone industry. Certainly, other manufacturers are going to hope there will be a reversal on appeal.

Apple did not invent the touch screen. Thus, it seems strange that it has a patent to “pinch to zoom” which is basically one way of many ways to use a screen. That’s like patenting a particular method of driving a car!

Apple has already followed up on its US victory, seeking an injunction to prevent Samsung from selling eight of its smartphones in the United States including some in the best-selling Galaxy range.

However, hearing of the injunction will only be in December and some of Samsung’s models may be phased out by then, which offers some consolation for Samsung.

Some US commentators view the case as a proxy war against another US company Google which makes the Android operating system used in Samsung, HTC and other smartphones.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle says that the late Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was once a friend of Google’s co-founders but considered Google’s move into mobile a betrayal that demanded revenge.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product,” he told his biographer Walter Isaacson. “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

But despite the nice rhetoric, revenge from the grave it is not. Apple’s strategy seems quite clear cut. Patent everything. Then tie up competitors in court if there is any semblance of product infringement and keep its competitive advantage intact as long as possible.

Reports put its profit margins on its iPhone at as high as 50%, a huge mark-up in a cutthroat market which it has been able to achieve by parlaying an excellent product with some very deft marketing and public relations.

That made it the biggest company in the world. Many would say that the product, however, is not necessarily the best anymore if ever it was, especially since competitors are fast catching up with their own nifty designs and features. And marketing and PR too – Galaxy is getting a name for itself and no doubt the cases around the world will help.

Thus it makes much economic sense for Apple to prolong this by any legal means it can for as long as possible. Does Apple care that it may be stifling innovation, raising costs and hurting consumers in the process?

Probably not. And why should it? It is a company based on the profit motive. But it needs to remember that all publicity is not good publicity and if it gets a reputation as a bully, its entire image and that of its products could change.

American companies can carry this patent thing too far and they have. Recall a few years ago when some of them tried to patent the production of pesticides from neem trees. For thousands of years, extracts from the leaves of the neem have been used for precisely that.

The American jury system cannot but be expected to favour a US icon such as Apple which is seen as brash, innovative and successful, the very image of the US itself. But that’s not going to be the case in the rest of the world. And even in the US, if learned judges make the decisions instead of a jury, the results may well be different.

Really, no one is going to benefit and there may well be detriment, if we allow patents to get the better of us and stifle innovation and hinder the development of new products and services at lower costs.

It would be a travesty of sorts and ironic indeed if Apple is now seen as a technology inhibitor instead. Beware!

A QUESTION OF BUSINESS By P. GUNASEGARAM starbiz@thestar.com.my

P Gunasegaram is an iPhone user but only because the service provider gave such a good deal.

 Japanese court rules for Samsung over Apple

In this Aug. 25, 2011 file photo a lawyer holds an Apple iPad and a Samsung Tablet-PC at a court in Duesseldorf, Germany. The Duesseldorf state court ruled Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, that neither the South Korean company‘s Galaxy Tab 10.1 nor the Galaxy Tab 8.9 could be sold in Germany because they were in violation of unfair competition laws. A German appeals court has upheld a decision prohibiting Samsung Electronics Co. from selling two of its tablet computers in Germany, agreeing with Apple Inc. that they too closely resemble the iPad2. (AP)

Samsung wins one battle in the multinational conflict over patent and innovation

By Jeong Nam-ku, Tokyo correspondent

A Japanese court has ruled in favor of Samsung over Apple in a patent lawsuit. In the August 31 verdict, Tamotsu Shoji, the Tokyo District judge, declined Apple’s claim that “8 models of Samsung Galaxy series infringed on Apple’s patents.”

Apple had sued Samsung for infringing on its synchronization of music and other data with remote servers. It asserted that “Samsung’s products use Apple’s technologies of synchronization, which constitutes patent infringement,” and demanded both compensation of 100 million Japanese Yen (around US$1.27 million) and a block on eight Samsung products.

According to Jiji Press, judge Tamotsu stated, “Samsung’s products are technologically distinct from Apple and can’t be considered infringements.”

As a first trial, this does not hold much importance beyond being an indication of what the final verdict might end up being. However, because the verdict ordered a ‘dismissal’ on Apple’s injunction, there is only a slight possibility for an overturn in the final verdict.

Apple has also sued Samsung for infringing on its ‘bounce back (technology that springs back when the document has reached the end)’ patent, a claim that is still ongoing.

This verdict is the first ruling out of the 9 lawsuits Apple and Samsung Electronics have against each other. Samsung also filed lawsuits against Apple in April and October of 2011, arguing that Apple also infringed on 6 of Samsung’s patents.

Samsung and Apple have ongoing lawsuits in different 10 countries. In the US, a judge ruled that Samsung had infringed Apple patents, ordering the Korean electronics giant to pay $1.05 billion in damages.

Translated by Yoo Hey-rim, Hankyoreh English intern

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US Stocks dominate; Korean share drops after US’s ruling on Apple-Samsung patent wars 

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