5 things that made world better in 2016

5 things that made world better in 2016

5 things that made world better in 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, people all across the world think back over the events and actions of this past year, many of which have changed the world – for better or for worse.

Here, we look back over the year and try to remember some of the good things that happened in 2016.

1. Giant Pandas are no longer endangered

There are now just over 2,000 giant pandas living in the wild.

This has led to them officially being classed as “vulnerable” rather than “endangered”. While it’ll take many more years to raise the population, this is a welcome bit of news amid the general doom and gloom of this year.

2. A possible cure for HIV is being developed

Scientists in the UK have announced that the first patient undergoing their new treatment is showing “remarkable” results.

Instead of trying to suppress HIV, this new treatment (dubbed “kick and kill” or “shock and kill”) causes the virus to go into a dormant state, where it can be destroyed by the body’s own immune system. If a cure is developed, it will benefit over 36.9 million people across the globe who are suffering from HIV.

3. Remember the ice bucket challenge?

The funds raised has helped ALS scientists made a scientific breakthrough

The challenge funded a research study which managed to identify a new gene (rather unimaginatively named “NEK1”). NEK1 is believed to be the main cause of several diseases such as motor neuron disease (MND), meaning that new treatments and therapies can now be developed.

4. Almost 50 million trees planted in 24 hours

India broke world records by planting 49.3 million tree saplings in a day.

As part of the commitment made by their government at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015,
this record breaking achievement occurred on July 11th this year and involved about 800,000 volunteers from the state of Uttar Pradesh who planted trees alongside roads, railways and public land.

5. Pokemon GO got people moving

Gamers walked 4.6 billion kilometers after just 2 months of release. That's about the distance between the sun and Neptune!

While it hasn’t been marketed as a health app, medical professionals are happy about the fact that it’s getting more people to go out and exercise regularly.

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Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

14 December 2016

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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There is a little bit of Pikachu inside all of us

There is a little bit of Pikachu inside all of us

There is a little bit of Pikachu inside all of us

There is a little bit of Pikachu inside all of us


AUGUST, 2016

Unless you paid attention in your secondary school biology class or have an extreme interest in biology, it’s quite unlikely that you’d be familiar with the names of most biological molecules. Scientists usually name things after their structures or functions so you end up with a bunch of very confusing and mundane ones, like the Beta-2 microglobulin or the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).

But every once in awhile, scientists show that they are, in fact, up to date with popular culture and decide to add a little creativity to the nomenclature.

Pikachurin is found in our eyes and is essential for the transmission of electrical impulses to the brain’s vision centre. It also helps our eyes track moving objects.

Ribbon Synapse

Pikachurin in all it's glory

Because of the way scientists study different kinds of proteins, we don’t actually know what Pikachurin’s function is, only that it is important and that without it, transmission of information to the brain would get disrupted. The study was carried out on mice, with scientists removing the gene involved in making the protein, so that they could see what it is that happens when an animal lacks Pikachurin. It was discovered that, without the protein, it would take nearly four times as long for signals to reach the brain, resulting in incorrect movement of other elements in the eye, eventually leading to a form of muscular dystrophy.

In 2003, a group of researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York discovered a gene they decided to call the POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic gene (or Pokemon, for short).

Pikachurin isn’t actually needed for us to see per say, but it sure plays a big part in helping us. Our eyes have photoreceptors, which are specialised cells, that move around the eye to take in light. These photoreceptors then send information, in the form of electrical impulses, to an important structure called a synapse. Synapses are structures found all around the body that play a big part in transmitting information to the brain through the central nervous system. When photoreceptors send information to a synapse, a few different processes begin to take place, which eventually results in the necessary information being sent to the brain to be translated into visuals we can see. The processes that occur at these synapses involve a lot of different types of minerals and proteins, one of these proteins being Pikachurin.

This isn’t the first time scientists used the Japanese franchise as inspiration. In 2003, a group of researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York discovered a gene they decided to call the POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic gene (or Pokemon, for short).

It was later found, however, that the gene was able to cause cancer. The gene was prone to undergoing harmful mutations that would lead to cells growing uncontrollably and eventually becoming cancerous. In fact, it was suggested that the gene was actually needed for other cancer-causing genes to mutate and so acted as a master switch for cancer. It was no surprise then that in the following days, a rush of headlines such as “Pokemon causes Cancer!” began to surface. Nintendo, not wanting the brand to be associated with the disease, threatened legal action against the research centre if they didn’t change the name. The researchers were then forced to switch it to the much less controversial, Zbtb7.

Shh structure

Sonic Hedgehog - the protein structure

However, there are many other genes that have been named after fictional characters. Sonic Hedgehog is a gene found in mammals that plays a part in the development of the central nervous system in an embryo. It was named so because when the gene was deleted in a species of flies, scientists thought the fly’s embryo looked like a hedgehog. Another fun fact is that the drug that is used to inhibit the gene is called robotinikinin, a reference to the main antagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Dr. Ivo Robotnik. Another gene, found in zebrafish, is called Dracula and is, of course, associated with blood disorders. There’s even a Ken and Barbie gene, which is found in fruit flies and plays a role in sexual organ development.

Thanks, Pikachu. Seeing wouldn’t be the same without you.

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!

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.