Mobile Inconvenience

The iPhone hype aside, using cellular phones does have its inconvenience. I’ve appreciated them when I started having one nearly 10 years ago but as more and more people embraced the gadget, I’ve gradually used it lesser and lesser. Not that I’m a non-conformist but there really are some inconveniences in using the mobile phone.

I won’t turn this entry into a rant piece with my bits of personal experience in all the years of using mobile phones so I might as well feature a surprising blog entry I encountered elsewhere involving Sprint’s decision to drop off a subscriber because of what they deem are excessive calls to customer service! The notice was even featured there and I encountered the link from one of Ben Poole’s blog entries btw.

According to the blog entry author anyway:

Sprint lately has been sending letters to customers disconnecting them for using too much roaming, data, texting and now… CALLING CUSTOMER SERVICE!

I think the company has hit a new low because as a Sprint customer I know how many billing mistakes they make a month and call them at least two times in a billing period to correct THEIR errors. I can understand dropping problematic customers who call daily to ask why their cellphone screen turns off after five minutes, but to drop a customer looking to correct a error that they are not responsible for is ridiculous.

Now that one’s different considering that other mobile companies out there would do just about everything to keep their subscriber base intact. Charge it to the corporate paradox list I guess.

Finally a sad accident happened early last week involving five recent high school graduates in New York. The Yahoo News report mentions possible cellphone use while driving as one of the factors, (including overspeeding because of inexperience at the wheel,) that led to the mishap.

So despite being an over-exhausted line, I guess it won’t hurt to find the space here to remind drivers out there to refrain from using their mobile phones while driving. Think of this especially when there are lives depending on you.

Emerging Asia’s Innovation Edge

A business week article of the same title earlier this month focuses on the rapid rate of development of Asia powerhouses China and India. Important points from a report Gartner released days before include:

  • China is fast becoming the global leader in research. In 2005 as the report mentions, applications for patents in China outnumbered those in the United States. For instance, the names of Chinese conglomerates, Lenovo, Huawei and Haier are fast becoming significant in the market as low-cost names while investing much on research.
  • India’s mark in IT Services still leads the way as it serves as the source of half the country’s exports and is forecasted to grow at 30% every year in the market. Leading the Indian IT market are Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consulting Services.
  • The development of the two powerhouses also translates to more people who are gaining freedom from poverty. This in turn translates to more people who will become consumers in the emerging markets. This and the fact, (if the report is to be believed,) that 85% of the world’s population comes from developing countries should fuel the further development for the two.

On Human Trafficking

If the U.S. Justice Department is right, Human Trafficking is the third largest criminal enterprise worldwide. According to United Nations Development Fund for Women Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, human trafficking generates an estimated $9.5 billion per year in terms of profit. Furthermore, she says:

Trafficking of persons includes prostitution, debt bondage, forced labor and slavery, and exploitation of children as workers, soldiers or sex slaves… Data from the International Labor Organization show that the migrant population currently stands at 120 million, of which around 12.3 million are enslaved in forced or bonded labor or sexual servitude at any one time…

More of it in the ADB article here.

[08/25 Update] – A related PDI article yesterday adds that the Philippines is classified as a Tier 2 country by the United States Justice Department. Tier 1 countries are those which complies with “the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” Tier 2 countries fail to comply but are making efforts to do so. Tier 3 countries on the other hand are not fully compliant with such standards.

In their article, “Dealing with Human Trafficking,” Luz Rimban and Yvonne Chua takes a look at the domestic extent of the global issue. Consider the following:

  • The Bahay Silungan Sa Daungan (BSSD) takes care of human trafficking victims at the Sasa Wharf in Davao City. If they’re to be believed, “as many as 20 passengers headed for Manila” per trip are “potential victims of human trafficking syndicates.”
  • The main factors contributing to the problem are the “grinding poverty in Mindanao” and the “promise of employment in Luzon.”
  • According to the  United Nations, the Philippines accounts for around 600,000 to 800,000 persons. Of this number, most of the victims are minors and children; a fact which is consistent with the ADB article.
  • There are pertinent laws and agencies to address the issue such as the passing of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2003, (RA 9208,) and the subsequent creation of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, (IACAT.) Since RA 9208’s enactment however, only 8 cases have been won by government lawyers. The all too common issue of victims fearing the reprisal of recruiters are pointed out as a common reason for witnesses backing out.
  • Peak season for transporting recruits include summer, semestral and Christmas breaks when the victims can merge with travelling students to escape detection of human trafficking authorities.

Obesity is ‘socially contagious’?

I’m not a big fan of the blame game but this Yahoo health tidbit roused an amount of interest anyway. The news bit focuses on obesity as something that’s “socially contagious.”

If your friends and family get fat, chances are you will too, researchers report in a startling new study that suggests obesity is “socially contagious” and can spread easily from person to person.

Maybe that’s one reason why a lot of people find contentment elusive: they base theirs against someone else’s. Then again that’s just me.

My Simpsons’ Avatar

My Simpsons’ AvatarSo 6 days before the movie is shown I finally got to post this one I found out from Larry about 2 weeks ago. This after seeing everyone else come up with their own Simpsonesque portraits.

So after a few clicks from the official movie website:

The Science of Parking

Urban planning this days has just given parking careful consideration. In its recent article, The New Science of Parking, Time magazine takes a look at an urban issue that has warranted due attention in the recent years.

Take the studies mentioned in the article for example:

In a 2006 study undertaken in a Brooklyn neighborhood by Transportation Alternatives, a New York-based advocacy group, 45% of drivers interviewed admitted they were simply looking for a parking spot. A more rigorous analysis was conducted in Los Angeles by Dr. Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA and one of the nation’s top parking gurus. Over the course of a year, he and his students found, the search for curb parking in a 15-block business district “created about 950,000 excess vehicle miles of travel — equivalent to 38 trips around the earth, or four trips to the moon,” which consumes “47,000 gallons of gas and produces 730 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

Capital Crossroads

An interesting study analyzes decision making based on the survey results regarding the youth’s outlook. Asked on several questions about school, career and marriage were young people from Albania, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Iraq, Malaysia, Romania, and Tajikistan, and as such, is significant in policy making in the future. The questions included were:

Thinking of the years of schooling that you received/will receive, who would you say has had most influence on you? Thinking of the person you married/will marry, who would you say has had most influence on you? Thinking of whether you work/will work and the type of occupation you have/had, who would you say has had the most influence on you?

For each question they were asked to choose between “myself,” parents and relatives, friends, and the government as the source of most influence. Using data on the 4,447 youth aged 15-24 in the surveys, I examine the extent to which influence over human capital decisions varies by country, and by sex, rural/urban location, household wealth, education level, and religion.

The picture here btw comes from the same article. Read more of the study here.

The Eight Commandments

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) pertain to 8 items summarizing the pledges of world leaders at the New York headquarters of the UN in September 2000. After the halfway milestone towards the 2015 deadline was officially reached last July 7, The Economist assesses each of the points made then. Here’s the link to the said article.

The said targets have been raised as a response to previous calls by the UN concerning some issues. From the article:

In 1977 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the world urged itself to provide safe water and sanitation for all by the end of the 1980s. In 1990 the UN renewed the call, extending the deadline to the end of the century. In 1978 in what is now Almaty, Kazakhstan, governments promised “health for all” by 2000. In 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand, they called for universal primary schooling by 2000, a goal pushed back to 2015 ten years later.

At the rate of progress reported though, the 2015 deadline for all points in the promise won’t be met. While economic successes in India and China assures the first MDG item will be reached, the progress of developing African nations point to a failure on the other points. In fact such Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, will not meet any of the goals.

A Mix on Structural Reform

An Oxford Analytica article came out last Tuesday on the progress on reform since the 1997-98 financial crisis. It contains an analysis of 4 southeast asian countries, (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand,) on the progress of economic stability and remaining structural vulnerabilities after the debacle that gripped the region.

So goes the significance of the article:

Over the past decade, real incomes have recovered, while exposure to external debt pressures has been reduced through an accumulation of foreign reserves and the adoption of more flexible exchange regimes. However, several issues remain causes for concern, including poor governance and mixed progress on banking reform.

Read more of the article here.

Another List of Development Stuff to Think About

I’ve came across several stuff which I’ve decided to collate into a whole list for the interested seasoned developer.

  1. Here’s a list of what not to do when building a website. Josiah Cole gets candid yet ruthless in his quest against web development show-offs. While I don’t agree with everything there, it still presents a pretty comical stab at some web development practices we still commonly see.
  2. Next is something seemingly trivial yet commonly neglected in web development: explicitly setting the bgcolor CSS attribute of a website to white. Here is the link to Jeffrey Zeldman’s cents as he writes in favor of doing so. Ironically, I got there from Andrew Tetlaw’s blog entry expressing the authors disapproval. As for me, while I think it is still correct to do so, (despite sounding OC’ish,) I don’t hold it against the programmer of a site if he or she does neglect to do so.
  3. AJAX is a buzz word only a web developer hiding in caves shouldn’t have at least heard of. For those interested in finding out where it’s generally accepted to try it out, you might want to check Mat Henricson’s corresponding blog entry for the 12 perfect cases.
  4. We’ve all seen that nifty snapshots of the typical life at the Googleplex, (from Time magazine if I remember it right.) Here is however a dose of stuff that somewhat doesn’t really paint the same picture, (to say the least,) inside the company’s confines. Amusingly it even had to brand itself as a “Microsoftie perspective.”
  5. Completing the list at 5 would be an interesting read for all IT players out there who want to gauge more or less how long it should take before their bread and butter line up in the IT museum. From ComputerWorld, here’s a list of the top 10 dead, (or dying,) computer skills. I wonder how long it would take before Lotus Notes and Domino gets queued up for obsolescence though.