Olympic Torch sets Brazil on Fire

Olympic Torch sets Brazil on Fire

Olympic Torch sets Brazil on Fire


AUGUST, 2016

By Daniel Ibanez Lau

Torches were lit, fireworks have exploded and super-bacteria has infected elite athletes, marking the debut of the Rio Olympics.

Behind the glitz and the glamour that comes with hosting the Olympics, Brazil has had its fair share of contention. On day one, Brazilian President Michel Temer was greeted by boo’s as he spoke at the opening ceremony, and Russian athletes were jeered by fans amid massive doping allegations that threatened them with a blanket ban.

Brazil’s hosting of the Olympics has been marred with controversies ranging from its inefficient planning to government corruption, here are some of the problems they have had to juggle:

Ballooning costs

Back when Brazil first revealed its hosting bid, the initial projected cost was about $14.4b. Since then, Rio has struggled to develop the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the crowds that come with the Olympics while also sticking to a strict time frame, this includes accommodation, transportation, and various clean-up efforts to disinfect the polluted rivers and beaches of Rio. It’s no wonder the estimated costs to date has risen to $20b.

To give this number some context, Brazil only spent about $700million on the containment of the Zika virus.

And you thought KLIA 2 was bad.

Anti-Government Protests

While splurging on the Olympics, the Brazillian people have also had to deal with the worst recession in Brazilian history, to the dissatisfaction of the Brazillian people, who, months before the Olympics, took to the streets across the country to protest against their interim President and the lavish Olympic spending.

Some put attendees of these protests at over 1MILLION people! To put this into perspective, estimates on the number of attendees of the last Bersih protest ranged from 80,000 to 150,000.

Polluted Water

You’re shit out of luck if you’re an Olympic swimmer because an Associated Press report found that a grown man only needs to ingest three table-spoons of water to contract a virus.
Imagine how much water you accidentally swallow during a day at the beach. Now imagine if that water was contaminated with human sewage, rubbish, and the occasional corpse, that’s as most may come to feeling like an Olympic swimmer.

The Cops and Firemen are going on Strike

Due to the recession that the Brazilian government faced in the lead-up to the Olympics, conditions within the Brazilian security forces got so bad that they reportedly had to beg for pens, cleaning supplies and toilet paper!

Since then, conditions have improved, but safety is still a big talking point. So far, two members of the Australian Paralympic sailing squad were robbed at gunpoint, Portugal’s education minister was robbed at knifepoint, a stray bullet tore through the roof of the press room at the equestrian center and three Swedish tourists were briefly abducted by armed men after taking pictures near a dangerous favela.

Surprisingly, none of these factors have subtracted from the excitement for the Rio Olympics, and I for one, will be sitting eagerly on the edge of my seat in anticipation for Datuk Lee Chong Wei to walk onto the badminton court.

A Silent Killer in the Air

A Silent Killer in the Air

A Silent Killer in the Air

A Silent Killer in the Air

Do you know that indoor air pollution is among the world’s top five environmental health risks?

Estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and others suggest that between 30 and 150 times more people are killed due to indoor air pollution than global warming.

Premature death due to household air pollution

Percentage of premature deaths by pneumonia among children under 5 caused by house air pollution.

Annual premature deaths from non-communicable diseases

According to WHO:

  • Over 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels
  • More than 50% of premature deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 are caused by the particulate matter inhaled from household air pollution.
  • 3.8 million premature deaths annually from non-communicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are attributed to exposure to household air pollution.

In its March 2014 report, WHO estimated that about 7 million people worldwide died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012 alone. South-East Asia and the Western Pacific areas are the regions in which health is most affected by air pollution, with approximately 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million to outdoor air pollution – scarily more deaths from polluted air indoors than outdoors!

It may come to a surprise to you that the concentrations of many pollutants indoors exceed those outdoors. Studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas.

Concentrations of many contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also consistently higher indoors than outdoors. An EPA study covering six communities in various parts of the US found indoor VOC levels up to 10 times higher than those outdoors, even in locations with significant outdoor air pollution sources, such as petrochemical plants.

Where does all the air pollution come from?

Pollutants that can affect air quality in a home fall into the two broad categories:

  • Particulate matter includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander (skin flakes from an animal’s hair or fur), tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with microorganisms such as dust mites, moulds, bacteria, and viruses.
  • Gaseous pollutants come from combustion processes. Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and pesticides.

Ironically, the seemingly cleanest homes or offices may actually have the worst air quality due to the fastidious use of cleaning products and air fresheners that release harmful VOCs. Synthetic fragrances are the biggest culprits.

Various sources of harmful particulate matter

Research by a team from the University of Washington on 25 common fragranced consumer products —laundry products, personal care products, cleaning supplies and air fresheners, many of them top sellers in their categories— found 133 different VOCs emitted from the products, with an average of 17 VOCs per product. Of these 133 VOCs, 24 are classified as toxic or hazardous under US federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these compounds. Among them are probable carcinogens (cancer causing) acetaldehydea, formaldehyde and methylene chloride.

Biological air pollutants are found to some degree in every home, school, and workplace. Sources include outdoor air; and human occupants who shed viruses and bacteria (e.g. influenza, measles, chicken pox); pets, dust mites and other pests (e.g. cockroaches) that shed allergens; toxins released by moulds and mildews; as well as indoor surfaces and water reservoirs where fungi and bacteria can grow.

Building dampness were determined to be associated with 30% to 50% increases in a variety of respiratory and asthma-related health outcomes. In Malaysia, where the average relative humidity is way above 80%, we have to take extra precautions to prevent these biological contaminants from spreading.

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), also known as secondhand smoke, is another major source of indoor air pollution.

WHO estimates that tobacco kills around 6 million people each year — more than 5 million due to direct tobacco use and more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to ETS. ETS a dynamic complex mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals found in both vapour and particle phases, more than 70 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, and many of which are strong irritants.

Despite the ban on indoor smoking in public places, we still see smoking in some worksites, many restaurants and other “hangout” places such as pubs and karaoke joints. Alas, you can ban smoking in your home and still be exposed to ETS. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no risk-free level of ETS exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.

Just because the room seems well ventilated with hardly any smoky smell does not mean ETS is not silently killing you anyway. Research has led to the conclusion that total removal of ETS through general ventilation is not feasible.

In fact, one should not rely on odour to determine what is good or safe. Some things that smell, like vinegar, are harmless. Some odourless things—like radon and carbon monoxide— are very harmful. Sometimes, chemicals can cause you to feel sick before you notice any odour. Some people also experience “olfactory fatigue,” which is a deadening of the sense of smell. This can happen soon after the first odour sensation occurs, especially if it is a very strong odour.

Blueair Aware

Be Aware of Indoor Air

Bad indoor air quality kills. The new Blueair Aware is an air monitoring device designed to quickly detect hundreds of different types of airborne particles in your indoor environment, including everything from fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to VOCs. It also tracks room humidity and temperature. Monitor your indoor air quality in real-time, track the data, and get alerts on your smartphone with the Blueair Friend App.

This article is brought to you by

Can Malaysian government block Pokémon GO if they wanted to?

Can Malaysian government block Pokémon GO if they wanted to?

Can Malaysian government block Pokémon GO if they want to?

by Eshwaren M – 08/08/16

Pokemon Go is finally available in Malaysia, almost one month after the launch. Recent news reported that a Malaysian server is set to run soon, giving hope to the anticipating crowd. However, there are already multiple conservative efforts to make sure the long awaited mobile game will not be playable in Malaysia, ever.

I will try to keep this elementary without much technical jargons. Mobile applications are made by developers for different platforms. The two largest mobile platforms are Android and iOS. Once the app is ready to be consumed by users, developers will then upload it to online markets based on their platforms, in this case, Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS.

Google Play & App Store Blocks

Both of these app markets are regional, which means you will receive different contents based on where you are. This is generally determined by the developers themselves due to technical issues like server configurations (the reason for Pokemon Go’s delay in Malaysia) or payment methods, and localization issues like languages and targeted users. Apps like these will not appear in Google Play or App Store.

For both platforms, you may overcome this by changing the regional settings on your Google Play or App Store account. Setting everything to “United States” unblocks most apps, and still in English. Even now in Malaysia, you can download Pokemon Go using this method. For Android users, you may also simply download a copy of an APK file, and install on your device, making sure the file was downloaded from a trusted source and not contain malicious scripts that may harm your device.

ISP & Telco Blocks

The second blocking measure is through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). ISP’s can track which app is using its network, and terminate the particular connection. You may launch the app but not get any internet connection for it. This is the same way how your telco may give free streaming or mobile data for certain apps. 

Again, VPN comes to the rescue, and may alter the way data is transferred to your ISP. However, not all ISPs will block the app at the same time. A recent ban of Whatsapp in Brazil, was only for mobile ISP’s, and home connections were fine. Therefore, using a different ISP’s might help to overcome the block.

Regional blocked apps on Google Play.

It is quite common for websites to be blocked these days. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions have blocked hundreds of websites mostly ranging from adult to torrent sites. Website blocking is not a big issue since there are so many ways you can still gain access to these sites, using counter services like Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a different Domain Name Service (DNS). However mobile applications blocking is more complicated.

MCMC Website Blocks

Changing DNS gets rid of these kind of blocks.


VPN’s are now much easier to implement, but definitely requires some technical knowledge. Using such proxy without any information or troubleshooting information may cause more harm to your security and privacy. For Apple users, it gets worse. You don’t get Android’s power user options like rooting or installing APK files. Changing regional settings on your App Store is a painstaking process. Players might need to run a GPS hack if there are no Malaysian servers to simulate maps from other countries.

In conclusion, the ban is possible. It will atleast make the game not playable. Players will not experience the augmented reality and social parts of the game.

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Make a smart move by savings for future higher education with takaful protection

Make a smart move by savings for future higher education with takaful protection

Bit by bit, saving small amounts today really makes a long-term difference in the future when comes the moment of truth. The philosophy is simple and practical. Make it a natural habit and you will end up saving a lot of money in the end. The emergence of many innovative saving instruments in this modern era makes saving money a more rewarding experience, regardless of when and how much you start off with. What you need is a systematic and effective financial planning. Prepare yourself into the future by investing your savings in a smart financial product that safeguards your future higher education fund and provides takaful protection at the same time. Your thoughtful planning assures the pleasure and comfort of the future that you deserve. So, start saving now!

Foster saving habit through smart financial planning

Arm yourself with a focused diligence to plan for your higher education fund in a smart way to earn you a more assured future. The introduction of Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN-i Plus) by Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN – or The National Higher Education Fund Corporation) is a brilliant way to start with, simply because it yields dynamic long-term cash returns plus takaful (syariah compliant) protection as a bonus. In other words, the product is all about a guaranteed higher education fund in the future plus the very important takaful coverage against unwanted eventualities. Thanks to the partnership between PTPTN and Hong Leong MSIG Takaful, this innovative product is now made affordable to all walks of life who truly care about the future of their higher education. On a noble note, the product aims to inculcate a disciplined saving habit among Malaysians. Just as the Malay saying goes, prepare the umbrella before it rains. What you save today grants you the much-needed confidence to march into the future. Although the future is full of endless uncertainties, your smart move today holds the key to peace of mind in the future.

SSPN-i Plus – Unique and special plus it’s guaranteed by government

The very special aspect of SSPN-i Plus lies in its uniqueness. It combines the benefits of saving alongside takaful protection in one simple and easy, yet powerful package! It is a financial planning product that better reflects the realities of today and the future, taking into consideration of the ever rising living costs, including education costs. For the ultimate peace of mind, the product is fully guaranteed by our government. This simply translates into a smart financial planning that allows you to finance your future education costs right from this moment on! It is clever and secure. With SSPN-i Plus, you take charge of your personal finance through a dedicated, purpose-built saving instrument that helps reduce the financial burden on your parents. Again, the key to securing the future of your higher education with added peace of mind is to prepare well in advance through a smart financial planning.

Saving as early as possible to avoid financial bottleneck in the future

On a noble note, the launch of SSPN-i Plus aims to instil the saving habit among our people. It aspires to transform the mindset of our society to embrace saving from as early as possible. The newly launched SSPN-i Plus draws inspiration from the highly successful Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN-i) introduced 12 years ago. SSPN-i Plus made its debut on 8 June 2015 and has since captured the hearts of many depositors for its capability of combining savings and takaful protection into one dynamic and comprehensive package at affordable prices. It is specifically designed to safeguard your higher education future without relying purely on education loan. In a nutshell, SSPN-i Plus enriches the minds of the younger generation with a practical financial planning of foreseeable results. After all, your long-term savings come in really handy when it matters most at the critical moment. SSPN-i Plus helps you avoid the embarrassing situation of having to deal with a financial emergency in the future.

its capability of combining savings and takaful protection into one dynamic and comprehensive package at affordable prices

The Wow! SSPN-i Plus Draw

For 2016/ 2017, PTPTN is stepping up its effort to champion the saving habit among Malaysians by spicing up the rewards system through the Wow! SSPN-i Plus Draw. This laudable initiative aims to foster saving culture among parents who are preparing their children for higher education. SSPN-i Plus is an ideal financial product for the younger generation aspiring to excel at higher education levels with added peace of mind as their education costs are technically taken care of. In other words, the innovative product will realise its full potential as depositors begin their higher education. Again, SSPN-i Plus is possibly one of your best choices to avoid a critical financial pitfall in the future.

Amazing prizes up for grabs in Quarterly and Annual Draws

The Wow! SSPN-i Plus Draw is now open to all interested individuals, offering RM1.5 million worth of fantastic prizes. Over 300 amazing prizes await the lucky depositors of SSPN-i Plus who open a new account or increase their deposits between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. The Wow! SSPN-i Plus Draw consists of the Quarterly Draw (3 draws featuring a grand prize of a unit of Honda Jazz and 20 consolation prizes of RM2,000 each) and the Annual Draw (grand prize: 1 unit of Proton Perdana; second prize: 3 units of Toyota Vios; third prize: 5 units of Kawasaki motorcycles; and 250 consolation prizes: RM2,000 each). Overall, the Wow! SSPN-i Plus Draw promises greater rewards in a more enticing scheme.

Easy and convenient transactions via Ejen Online PTPTN

In line with the popularity of the internet where information and communication technology dominates the digital age, PTPTN has also introduced a very convenient channel to market SSPN-i Plus through Ejen Online PTPTN. The online marketing programme intends to facilitate certain transactions, including account opening, at the touch of a button anywhere and anytime without a visit to the PTPTN counters.

Great rewards await Ejen Online PTPTN

PTPTN has also introduced a special programme for its Ejen Online PTPTN. Rakan Niaga Affiliate and Ejen Pemasaran Online are entitled to a commission of 15% and 25% respectively under this programme. The scheme also allows Ejen Online PTPTN to begin their career with PTPTN without any capital investment. Furthermore, they get to enjoy flexible working hours along with regular training and guidance from PTPTN. The good news is that all of them do not involve any cash transactions. Other incentives include Anugerah Ejen Online PTPTN Terbaik for the top achievers who hit the marketing targets, together with international holiday packages and cash rewards up to RM4,000.

Can one make living playing Pokémon GO?

Can one make living playing Pokémon GO?

Can one make a living out of playing Pokémon GO?


JULY, 2016

Pokémon GO has undoubtedly reached a level of success most mobile apps only dream of, with data showing that it’s become the most successful mobile game in US history. And as with any other thing that has the potential to get people hooked, there are some that take their obsessions a little too far.

A 24 year old bartender from New Zealand has recently quit his job to become a full time Pokemon hunter. He plans to take a two-month long, country-wide tour hunting virtual monsters through the financial support of his friends and family. He’s become somewhat of a mini celebrity, with transport companies even offering to help him hunt for rare pokemon in remote areas and people all over the world sending him messages of support through Facebook.

It’s the kind of story that would make you wonder if you should be glad that the modern world is finally creating more job opportunities catered to those with unconventional skills or worried about what seems to be a sign of a declining rate of sanity in young people.

But besides the absurdity of it all, it does beg the question; can you really make a living off of playing Pokemon Go?

Well, there are easy ways to make a little money out of it here and there, but turning it into a full time job would require you to put in a lot more effort and be more skilled than the average player.

Sell accounts

The best way to make money playing Pokemon is to offer your services to other players. Take advantage of how popular the game has become. Such an engrossing game would, without a doubt, strengthen the competitive spirit in most people and you’d be surprised just how much people would be willing to pay for the bragging rights they obtain once they’ve managed to surpass the level all their friends are at. A quick search for higher level Pokemon Go accounts on ebay will show you just how desperate some players can get, with some accounts attracting bids even up to thousands of pounds.

Based on craigslist and ebay listings, most accounts above level 20 are priced around at least $100-200.

Let’s say you’re able to get one account to level 20 each week, and sell it for RM250, you’ll be able to make RM1000 a month. It’s definitely possible, provided you have a good strategy and know the right moves to make.

Become a PokéStop driver

When taking breaks from playing the game, you could make the most of your free time by becoming a PokéStop driver. Playing the game as often as you do, you should have a good idea of where to go for popular PokéStops and gyms.

Malaysian weather is not kind to pedestrians and so a service shuttling gamers around would do pretty well.

Make sure you have a decent vehicle and charge an amount that would ensure a fair profit and you should be good to go. If you’re also in the business of selling Pokemon Go accounts, being a PokeStop driver would benefit you as well.

Become an egg hatcher

Eggs are special items in the game that require the player to walk a certain distance in order for them to hatch into Pokemons. The current eggs available need walks that are either 2km, 5km or 10km long.

Like the PokeStop driver, your success from this gig relies a lot on the laziness of the general public and the fact that no one wants to walk for 10km in the scorching heat because let’s be honest, most Malaysians have never in even thought about running a 10K, let alone walk it.

You could charge about RM5 per kilometer and, to maximise profits, carry multiple phones with you at once. Even if you spent just one day a week walking 10km and only had five customers, you could make RM1000 a month.

Set up concession stands at PokéStops

A lot of PokéStops are conveniently placed near restaurants or cafes, with news that some places might even soon partner with Pokémon GO to become sponsored locations. However, quite a few PokéStops have been placed at pretty odd locations that are far from anywhere you could get snacks or drinks.

If you want to go all out and bake cookies and cupcakes everyday, it’s very likely that you would do rather well, especially if you made themed products, like a Pikachu-shaped cookie or a cake that looks like a pokéball. However, even a small stand selling lemonade would attract a satisfactory crowd.

Market Pokémon goods

Pokémon goods have always brought in a lot of revenue, but are likely to bring in even more now that the whole craze has resurfaced again. Maybe you’re an artist and would like to sell some fanart, or perhaps design some T-shirts. There are numerous things you could do to use the game as a marketing opportunity.

An attractive or unique product would be high in demand now that Pokémon has once again become the most talked about trend. There are even items up for sale, taking advantage of the resurfaced craze, that have no relation to Pokémon, such as this bike on Craigslist that’s great for Pokémon GO hunting.

So, can you really make a living playing Pokémon? Well, it depends. Not the answer you wanted to hear, but a lot of your success depends on how long the newfound Pokémon fever lasts. The game hasn’t even been released in Malaysia yet so it is still uncertain how much Malaysians would be willing to pay for hacked accounts or Pokédrivers. We’ve also yet to touch on the questionable legality of most of these gigs. Whether or not you’d be successful in making a career out of Pokémon is a pretty murky area, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Perhaps quitting your job right now to become a Pokémon hunter is a little too ambitious, but working on building your career in your free time might bring unexpected returns.

Pokémon Go : Gotta CASH Em’ All!

Pokémon Go : Gotta CASH Em’ All!

We understand your need to fund your Pokémon adventure, but parents are hard to convince. We believe a little effort with a dire passion may lead to some profit, and you might as well catch em’ all. Listed below are by far the most realistic Pokémon based cash cows.

1. Record

Youtube is an incredible platform for any fan of any kind. It is the third most visited website and second largest search engine in the world. YouTubers can get paid via ads revenue, or by a network. The latter requires a certain amount of subscribers. Check out Patreon, a service that is often used by YouTubers and Twitch for live streaming. Your personality or knowledge will determine your choice of format. If you have a deep knowledge of the game or Pokémon in general, consider doing guides or walkthroughs. Add a good sense of humor to your videos, and do a “Let’s Play” series, which is a play along experience. You need a decent computer to edit your videos, and a good microphone to record your voice. You may also outsource editing works to freelancers.

2. Discuss

Players discuss and share gameplay mechanics or tactics on online forums. You may grab the opportunity to start one of these. Besides giants like Reddit and Stack Exchange, localized sites get a lot of attention as well. If creating a website looks difficult, you may as well take part as a moderator. Moderators are key to ensure smooth discussions. Forum websites gain revenue through ads or sponsorships.

3. Write

If writing is your thing, why not about Pokémon Go. This will work well with all the methods above. There are many article banks these days which you can submit your articles to. Make sure you understand the terms and agreements. An alternative to article banks is a personal blog. Services like WordPress and Squarespace offers great service to get you started. A good improvement is to have a professional editor to edit your articles. Articles can range from 250 words up to a few pages. If permitted, you may insert ads to gain revenues.

4. Trade

Rare Pokémon merchandise can fetch a hefty sum these days. Trading cards and old game cartridges are trending now since the release of Pokémon Go. You may buy these merchandises online and resell to closer buyers, for a small profit. Make sure items are genuine, and always be aware of the quality of the product when purchasing. , and you can start an online store with services such as Etsy. Social media platforms are also great to promote your Pokémon products.

5. Drive

Pokémon Go emphasizes explorations and adventures. But, this can take an ample of players time. You may offer a localized service to drive around players and lead them to Pokéstops or PokéGyms. Include extras like snacks, portable chargers, and a good WiFi connection. Pokémon Go attracts young adults and children, so cater both groups. Parents would be glad to know their children have a chaperone while they are busy hunting for Pokémon. Appear reliable and stay professional. But, check with local authorities about legal issues. In some countries, you may need to get a passenger driver’s license.