Monday, June 29, 2009

The cost behind Maybank EzyCheque Instant Cash

My first credit card is a Maybank classic card which I have kept for almost 10 years.

I can't remember since when, Maybank will send me every year without fail a promotional letter about EzyCheque Instant Cash promotion attached with a RM2000 cheque that I can bank in to my bank account before the expiry date as stated in the letter.

This Maybank EzyCheque Instant Cash facility always says it is "0% or interest-free for 6 months", but also with a so called "low cash advance fee of 3.88% or RM77.60". However, it is only "0% or interest-free" if I settle the repayment of RM333.33 every month for 6 months subsequently, there will be interest charges for late repayment and also penalty charges for early settlement (which could be caused by card cancellation, balance transfer, etc.) before the 6th month.

Let's say I accept the offer, and follow the scheme exactly, then I'll:

  • Get RM2000 after I bank in the cheque.
  • Charged RM77.60 for cash advance fee in my next credit card bill.
  • Charged RM333.33 in my next 6 months of credit card bill.
What will be the actual cost then? Here is the calculation:
  • I get RM2000 - RM77.60 = RM1922.40 from the bank.
  • I pay back RM333.33 x 6 = RM1999.98 to the bank.
  • Therefore, the cost incurred is RM1999.98 - RM1922.40 = RM77.58
  • That will translate into RM77.58/RM2000 x 100% = 3.88%
Of course, this 3.88% in 6 months is comparatively cheaper than getting a normal credit card cash advance or personal loan. However, it only make sense to utilize this EzyCheque Instant Cash facility if I can earn back at least RM77.58 with it in the near future.

If I were to:
  • spend the RM2000 to buy things, I will end up losing another RM77.58 which is good enough to have a nice dinner in a classy restaurant for two.
  • use the money to settle any debt which interest rate is more than 7.76% per annum, I can save some money from there.
  • keep the money in a FD account with interest rate at 2.5% per annum, I will need to keep it for at least 2 years to recover back that RM77.58. After that, if I don't withdraw the money, it will start working for me by bringing interest income.
  • keep the money in a Flexi-homeloan account with interest rate at BLR-2% = 3.55%, I can save about RM5.70 housing interest every month, which will take me about 14 months to recover back that RM77.58. After that, if I don't withdraw the money, it will start working for me by saving RM5.70 every month until my homeloan is settled.
  • invest the money in short term investment and make a return of more than 10% within a year, then I can make some pocket money with it.
  • invest the money in long term investment and make an annual return of more than 10%, then I can probably double or even triple it up in years to come.
Sometimes, I opted to tear and discard the EzyCheque, and sometimes, I opted to utilize the facility. It all depends on how I'll use the money. The key point is that, by utilizing the facility, we are using our future money (in the subsequent 6 months) at the cost of 3.88%.

It all depends on whether:
  • there is an urgent need for the money
  • it is a good investment timing
Do not be afraid of that RM77.58 cost if you know that it worth to spend, but also do not waste it blindly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beta release of Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus

Within the next couple of hours, Microsoft will release the first beta version of their Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE, codename Morro) to selected regions.

MSE is an anti-malware software aimed to provide protection against viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans for certain Windows operating systems.

Here are some of the fact findings:

  • The core developer team of MSE is in Israel.
  • This beta release will be made available on 23 June 2009 to the first 75,000 downloads from Brazil, Israel and the United States.
  • It is treated as the successor of Windows Live OneCare, which is a subscription based security solution from Microsoft which has been phased out since end of 2008. Retail sales of Windows Live OneCare will be discontinued by end of June 2009.
  • Its antivirus framework is the same with Windows Live OneCare.
  • Subsequent beta release(s) will include China. Its final release to the whole world will be by end of 2009.
  • It will be made available free of charge and downloadable from Microsoft website.
  • It can be installed in 32-bits and 64-bits version of Windows XP (SP2 and above), Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
  • Its installation will need to pass through the Microsoft's anti-piracy Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation process.
  • It is designed to be lightweight and use little system resources.
  • It is reported to take up about 50MB of RAM when running.
  • It is able to provide real-time protection with heuristic feature.
  • It has a user interface similar like Windows Defender. If Windows Defender is found when installing MSE, MSE will replace itself to Windows Defender.
  • It relies on Windows Automatic Update feature to update its malware signature database.
And here is a comparison table to compare the features among various security solutions produced by Microsoft.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three essential managers for successful project

Rick Freedman has just posted an article with the title of "Keep management roles in a project separate" in TechGuides.

In his point of view, every project engagement must have the following:

  • Clear business meaning
  • Defined success criteria
  • Technical plan
  • Project plan
  • Sponsorship and stakeholder participation

Each of those engagements requires superior management of three elements:

  • Process - managed by project manager
  • Content - managed by technical manager
  • Relationship - managed by relationship manager

The project manager must ensure that a clear scope has been written, a meaningful estimate has been derived, and a complete project plan has been developed, along with all the other process elements required by his chosen methodology.

The technical manager oversees all the technical decisions: the technical specifications, the materials list, the software stack, and the integration of all these components.

The relationship manager is required to manage the needs, expectations, emotions, and politics that are an inevitable part of every human endeavour, so that the perception of the end product matches the client team's vision.

It is not advisible for a single person to assume the job of all the three roles, because the required skills and temperament are different, and difficult to be mastered equally well by a single person. More importantly, playing all the three roles together will be facing conflict of interest. As such, separation of roles for these three essential management functions is strongly recommended in order to increase the success rate and client satisfaction.

I agree with him, do you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are you clear about your authority, responsibility and accountability?

The job description for the individual in any organization should clearly define his/her authority, responsibility and accountability. This is crucial so that the job and assignments for the individual can be carried out in accordance to management expectation.

Individuals who are clear about their authority, responsibility and accountability, and perform accordingly, will eventually gain job satisfaction and also job recognition sooner or later.

While these terms are normal literature in school of management, people like me coming from the technical background who didn't study and graduate from the management college also ought to learn about them, especially when we are already in the management position in our organization.

  • Authority is the power granted to the individuals by their job assignment so that they can make decisions, and also direct others to follow their decisions made. Normally, more authority will be given to more senior positions in the organization.

  • Responsibility is the obligation incurred by individuals in their roles in the organization in order to effectively perform their assignments. Responsibility is always a key performance indicator to be measured for appraisal.

  • Accountability is the state of being totally answerable for the success or failure to accomplish their specific assignment(s). People gain credits (and also disgraces) for their accountability. In fact, accountability is the summation of authority and responsibility.

We must be aware that authority and responsibility can be delegated to lower level individuals (eg. subordinates) in the organization, whereas accountability usually rests with the individual.

When we delegate the authority and responsibility downwards, we will also develop our management and leadership skills. Bear in mind that we are still accountable and answerable to the result (success/failure) of the overall tasks, while at the same time the delegate recipients held their own authority, responsibility and accountability for the portion delegated to them.

We usually find management issue when people are not clear about their authority, responsibility, and accountability, and/or they do not understand well about the meaning of these terms. Some examples of such issue are:
  • Senior people keep the task to themselves and not willing to delegate down. This phenomenon is pretty common in the technical environment. This will be unhealthy for the growth of the senior people as well as the subordinate(s), and also cause productivity issue. In fact, this is also a demerit factor for the leadership of the senior people.
  • Senior people delegate down the work, and try to carry away the success merit. In fact, it is not necessary to carry away, because they are accountable for it and deserve for the merit of success. They should therefore also recognise and give merit to their delegate recipients for their accomplishment too. The junior people must also understand that their senior deserve the merit of success, because they are accountable for it all the while.
  • Senior people delegate down the work, but try to push the failure accountability to the delegate recipients. Well, you must know that you are always be accountable, be it a success or failure, and cannot escape from it. In no way you could avoid it, so just face it. Any attempt of avoidance will bring disgrace to yourself.
  • Responsibility is not delegated together with suitable authority. This will cause difficulty for the delegate recipients to carry out the tasks without the authority given, and could be a cause of failure later on.
  • The individuals are not clear about the boundary of their authority, responsibility and accountability. This might cause management issue when somebody try to overpower, or unable to use their power effectively and efficiently. It is the responsibility of their superior to correct them when this kind of situation happens.
  • The individuals are not clear about their authority, responsibility and accountability. This is a serious case because the individuals are unclear about their role in the organization and what is their value to the organization. Very soon they will be demotivated. It is the responsibility of their superior to make sure they understand clearly about their authority, responsibility and accountability from day one when they join the organization.
Now, a simple question for you to ask yourself: Are you clear about your authority, responsibility, and accountability in your company? If not, you better find them out as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1st Asia Women Business Power Conference

With the theme of "Women Business Power Through Good and Bad Times ", the 1st Asia Women Business Power Conference organized by MCA ICT Resource Centre (MIRC) targeted for women entrepreneurs throughout the region will be held soon at Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) and expected to be launched by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha (江作汉).

Date: 18 June 2009
Time: 8.30am - 6,00pm
Venue: Auditorium, Level 1, Enterprise 4, Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil, KL.
Enquiry tel.: 03-2161 1618

This conference is part of MIRC's effort to kick-start its Women Incubation Program, a program that helps to develop and nurture women entrepreneurs. A major highlight of the event is the creation of an Asia Women Business Network which will become a platform to foster closer cooperation among women entrepreneurs throughout the region.

Among the speakers are:

  • Yasmin Mahmood - Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia
  • Rita Sim Sai Hoon (沈赛芬) - Executive Director, Sin Chew Media Corp
  • Ksenyia Melnikova - Product Information Officer, Super Technologies
  • Dato' Sharon Low (刘淑淼) - Managing Director, StemLife Bhd
  • Nguyen Thi Cuc - Chairwoman, Banhat Rattan Bamboo Ceramic High-Grade Cooperation
  • Irene Boey - Consulting Director, Integral Solutions (Asia) Pte Ltd
  • Raymond Chin (陈云祥) - CEO, NCB Techvision Sdn Bhd
  • Koh Lee Ching - CEO, Calms Technologies Sdn Bhd
  • Janet Tan - co-founder,
  • Dr. Petmanee Daowieng - Director of Graduate School of Business (MBA), Hatyai University
  • Mrs Chanthao PATHAMMAVONG - President, Lao Businesswomen's Association
  • Suzanne Bowen - co-founder, Super Technologies
  • Patric Chan - internet marketer
  • Hanson Toh (杜汉生) - Malaysia Country Consultant, Google Inc.
Click here for more information about the 1st Asia Women Business Power Conference.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Antivirus, Internet Security & Total Security Products Performance Benchmarking (2009)

Do you know that the Antivirus, Internet Security and/or Total Security product(s) installed in your computer could be consuming a lot of memory and CPU resources? They could also cause a lot of additional harddisk read/write activities. This could be the main reason why your PC become lagged.

Therefore, you should seriously consider the effect of the security solution to your computer performance, and select one that will have minimal impact, especially on memory and CPU consumption.

On 16 March 2009, PassMark Software has released the 4th edition of their 73-pages Antivirus, Internet Security and Total Security Performance Benchmarking Report.

The report was based on the performance benchmark testing results done on 47 Antivirus, Internet Security and Total Security products (free and non-free) from various vendors between July 2008 and October 2008.

Testing was performed on all products using seventeen performance metrics. These performance metrics are as follows:

  • Boot time
  • Total Scan speed
  • UI launch speed (initial and subsequent)
  • Memory utilization
  • HTTP download test
  • IE launch speed (initial and subsequent)
  • Installation Size
  • Installation Time
  • Registry Key Count
  • Copying, moving and deleting different types of common files
  • Installing third party applications
  • Downloading binary files from websites
  • File format conversion
  • File compression and decompression
  • File write, open and close
Note that no attempt was made to measure the effectiveness of threat detection.

Here are the overall results and ranking from the benchmarking tests.

Click here to download the 4th edition of Antivirus, Internet Security & Total Security Products Performance Benchmarking Report (2009) by PassMark Software.

Friday, June 5, 2009

BoB, IOB & Andhra Bank to setup India BIA Bank in Malaysia

Three Indian public banks namely Bank of Baroda (BoB), Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) and Andhra Bank have initiated a joint venture to set up a subsidiary in Malaysia. Under the joint venture, BoB will have a 40% stake and IOB 35% while Andhra Bank holds the balance 25%.

The joint venture bank will be named as India BIA Bank (Malaysia) Bhd, and is expected to start operations by September 2009 with an initial investment of US$86 million (RM300 million).

Their targeted customers will be the Indian corporate sector, expatriates from India and the Indian population in Malaysia. It will focus on lending to edible oil and mentha oil, besides tapping local corporates and the ethnic business community.

With BoB having extensive network in Central and Northern India, and IOB and Andhra Bank in the Southern parts of India, the subsidiary in Malaysia is expected to attract the technical expatriate population who has migrated to Malaysia from different parts of India.

BoB and IOB already having a presence in Malaysia for some years through their representative offices, and they have studied the market well and are well aware of the available opportunities for business development.

This is viewed as a good news to be able to facilitate more trades between India and Malaysia. Trades between the two nations has increased by 84.32% in FY07 and 30.07% in FY08.

Invest Malaysia 2009 conference

Invest Malaysia is an annual conference organized by Bursa Malaysia since 2005, which is arguably the country's most prominent showcase of public-listed companies which draws investors from all over the world.

It gives fund managers and institutional investors (both local and foreign) the chance to get first-hand information from corporate captains and government officials about investment opportunities in Malaysia.

Usually held in the month of March, this year it will be held from 30 June to 1 July.

Date: 30 June - 1 July 2009
Venue: Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Bursa Malaysia will host the Invest Malaysia 2009 conference together with CIMB Investment Bank this year. Some 600 delegates are expected to attend the event.

Click here fore more information about Invest Malaysia 2009.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kids Money Management Camp

There will be a Kids' Money Management Camp during this school holiday for the kids to develop good money habits using clear, practical examples and to empower parents as good role models who cultivate a harmonious money belief in family. Among the key beliefs that will be taught are good money stewardship & responsibility and money values.

Date: 5-13 June 2009
Time: 9am - 5pm
Venue: CIMB Wealth Advisors Bhd, Financial Care Centre, Damansara Perdana, PJ, Selangor.
Fees: RM150 (for 1 child and parents)

Monday, June 1, 2009

OpenSource World, Next Generation Data Center (NGDC) and CloudWorld conferences @ San Francisco

This year, the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo is expanding to become OpenSource World and is co-locating with Next Generation Data Center (NGDC) and CloudWorld to offer an end-to-end view of enterprise technology within the datacenter.

The event details are as follow:
Date: 12-13 August 2009
Venue: Moscone Center West, 800 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA

The OpenSource World tracks will cover:

  • Desktops and netbooks
  • Enterprise application infrastructure
  • Deployment and management
  • Open source in mobile
  • Security
  • Systems troubleshooting

The NGDC tracks will cover:

  • Virtualization
  • Efficient, resilient and sustainable facilities
  • Networking, services and optimization
  • Data center applications
  • Enterprise storage

The CloudWorld tracks will cover:

  • Cloud applications
  • Cloud platforms
  • Cloud infrastructure

Click here for more information about the OpenSource World, Next Generation Data Center (NGDC) and CloudWorld conferences.

Justify your expected salary during job interview session

I always find the candidates coming for job interview failed to provide a satisfactory answer to justify their expected salary.

The answer they gave often related to their personal needs, such as:

  • I come from outstation and need to cover my expenses.
  • I have parents, siblings and my own family to take care of.
  • I need to repay my car loan, house loan, etc.
  • and so on...

Candidates have to bear in mind that the company you are applying for the job is most unlikely a charity organization which give you the job because they want to take care of your personal needs. Normally they give you the job because you are suitable to fill in the job vacancy offerred by them.

It might be a true situation that you need that much money to support for your living, and there is nothing wrong with it. However, you just can't use that as a justification to your expected salary, because your answer doesn't view from the employer's perspective.

Therefore, when you are asked to justify for your expected salary, your line of thinking should go towards what are the values in you that the company is most probably looking for. What are the things that make you outstanding from the other candidates (your competitors)?

The following are points that can be used for your answer:

1. Your education background

  • Are you graduate from a renown university well recognised for its academic competency?
  • Do you possess a well recognised double major, a master degree, a PhD, etc.?
  • Do you score above average in your exams?
  • Are you a leader in your school's extra-curricula activities?
  • Are you a winner in contests, competitions, sports, etc.?

2. Your job related certifications

  • Have you obtained any certifications related to the job that you apply for? Such as CCNP, CISSP, LPI, etc.

3. Your professional membership status

  • Do you have any membership in professional bodies? Such as IEEE, BEM, ACCA, etc.

4. Your working experiences

  • Have you involved in international projects?
  • Have you handled big projects?
  • Have you been in a leadership position?
  • Have you worked for famous organisation(s)?
  • Have you organised major events?
  • Do you have vast exposure in multiple disciplines?
  • Do you have any achievements that you are always proud of?

5. Your special skillsets that is useful for the job you apply

  • Do you master multilingual, including major non-English languages such as Chinese, Japanese, etc.
  • Can you speak in dialects that might be in use in the job environment? Especially for customer facing roles such as sales, customer service, marketing, etc.
  • Are you good in public speaking?
  • Are you good in performing presentation?
  • Are you good in problem solving? (Eg. do you have hobby in chess, sudoku, strategic computer games, etc.?)
  • Are you well computer literate?

6. Testimonials from others

  • What did your professor (especially thesis supervisor) commented about you?
  • What did your current and previous bosses commented about you?
  • Did you obtain any letter of appreciation from your customers?
  • Who are your referees? Are they a famous person in their profession? Are they publicly well-known? Do they have special title such as Datuk, Tan Sri, PJK, AMN, etc.?

7. Other recognations

  • Have you written book(s)?
  • Did you contribute articles to publications and/or journals?
  • Have you been invited to give talks in seminars or events?
  • Have you obtained recognition status such as "employee of the year", "top sales", etc. from your previous/current company?
  • Have you been positively reported in the newspaper, magazine, etc.

So, during a salary negotiation, you should show your worthiness based on your values which you think are likely to be appreciated by the company, especially those that have direct positive impacts to the job vacancy you applied for. You should try to convince the employer why they have to employ you and pay you the amount you ask for, despite there might be other candidates (your competitors) asking for less.

A good employer will most probably give you what you asked for, as long as you can justify it, and the amount is within their budget. Sometimes, they will possibly frankly tell you that they cannot affort your expected salary, and you should not feel disappointed about that. What you should do is to look for employer with better financial strength, and more willing to pay for good employee like you.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.