18 August 2013

US$240,000 to retire in Asia

I've been trying to calculate how much money I'd need to retire in Asia. According to Retire Cheap Asia, you can live a frugal life in Asia with US$500 per month. A comfortable life would require US$1000 per month.

Now let us assume that you can get 5 per cent return on an investment. This means that you will need US$240,000 invested to give you $1,000 per month in passive income.

About half of this money should be invested in investments that provide stable passive income, as you will need this to give you the base $500 per month necessary for a frugal lifestyle. The rest can be invested in shares to protect against inflation.

13 August 2013

Cheap iPhone will turn Apple into Samsung

Apple creates the iPhone 5 for $200 and sells it for $700. Google, on the other hand, makes zero or little profit on its Nexus devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10).

Some people do not understand Google's philosophy, citing the fact that Google ads are found on Apple phones as well. The best way to understand Google's plan is to imagine what the world would look like if Googlr never invented Android and Apple controlled the entire smartphone market. Apple would make its iPhones for $200 and because they can they will charge $2000 for it to maximise profits. Because the price is so high, they will not sell much phones but because there profit margin on each phone will be so high, Apple is happy. Google makes money off advertising. If smartphones were all $2000 thanks to lack of competition as a result of monopoly, hardly anyone will use smartphones and therefore not many people would look at Google's ads and Google would not make much money. By creating Android, giving it away for free, and producing high-quality and cheap Nexus and Chromebook devices, Google is able to put pressure on Apple to bring its prices down and get the iPhone into more people's hands. Apple is content with selling fewer phones buy making high profit margins on each, explaining why Apple takes in 80% of smart phones profits even though 80% of smartphones run on Android.

The plan is working, and Apple is giving in. Apple will soon release a cheap plastic iPhone in an attempt to compete with Android at the lower end. Regardless of whether the cheap iPhone increases sales of Apple devices and steals market share from Android, it does not matter since Google ads are on Apple devices. A cheap iPhone will only dilute the Apple brand and transition Apple from a boutique low-volume high-margin company into a commodity mass-manufacturing, high-volume low-margin company. In other words, Apple will become Samsung.

The Key Difference Between Android and iOS

With the latest iOS 7 update, Apple phones look almost exactly like Android phones. According to Know Your Mobile, iOS and Android have copied each other to the point that they are indistinguishable.

Given that Google and Apple are both Silicon Valley tech firms, it is likely that engineers who work at Google will also one day work in Apple and vice versa. Engineers moving around ensure similar ideas are spread. Of course Google and Apple will copy each other.

While I agree that the two operating systems have similar appearances, there are still key differences between the two operating systems. For one, Google is primarily a software company that makes 93% of its revenue from advertising. They Google produce a phone, tablet, or computer, e.g. the Nexus 7, they make no profit on the product, aiming instead to move the market forward, get the device into more people's hands, and make money off advertising. Apple, on the other hand, makes most of its money off the hardware, e.g. making the iPhone 5 for $200 and selling it for around $700 to $800.

11 August 2013

Dreaming of Being a Digital Nomad

Having come back from a one-week holiday in Malaysia and working for a week (and hating it), I am starting to think about the possibility of being a digital nomad.
A digital nomad pretty much works online from all over the world. The digital nomad uses WiFi in hotels to connect to the internet and lives in developing countries to minimise the cost of living while still enjoying himself.
The concept of being a digital nomad is just a hypothesis at the moment because, as you can imagine, a lot can go wrong with such a lifestyle.
I suppose I just want to travel again. I've been feeling depressed lately.

Australia Under Tony Abbott

Australia will have an election in a few weeks. The two main candidates are Tony Abbott of the conservative Coalition and Kevin Rudd of the Australian Labor Party. The polls suggest that it is likely to be a victory for Tony Abbott, which is a bit of a bummer because, although Kevin Rudd is not perfect, Australia under Tony Abbott is a worrying thought, mainly because I suspect he has extreme policies lined up. His stated policies, such as paid parental leave, cutting the costs of the NBN, Direct Action on climate change, and scrapping the carbon tax, are highly dubious, but most of these policies will reduce tax revenue significantly, meaning Abbott will likely resort to austerity measures that he has not even announced yet. It is the uncertainty of what this may mean, e.g. cutting funding to hospitals, schools, and the public service, that are worrying.

03 August 2013

Working Robots Controlled by Overseas Workers


If you were to start a cafe in a developed country, you may want to employ someone to help run the place. The problem is you must typically pay high prices in developed countries for labour.

However, what if you used a robot in your store, and this robot is controlled via the internet by a low-cost worker in a developing country? The potential profits would be enormous, and this opens the door to enormous job creation in the developing world, potentially lifting millions from poverty.

The video above shows that machines are already highly advanced. I am confident that such technology is possible.

As someone who works in the city, I know that there is a demand for cheap food. You can get a fresh baguette in Melbourne for about $6. Most of that cost would likely be in the form of labour. However, if robots were used to make this baguettes, the cost of lunch could fall to $2.

01 August 2013

How to Use TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor has been in the news lately because a fake restaurant had been rated highly by the site. A group of web users had created this fake restaurant in order to prove that TripAdvisor is not foolproof and can be gamed.

Of course, any website that allows anyone to submit reviews and rate the venue will suffer from this problem. It is just obvious. There is no way to fix this problem other than to allow only professionals to rate and review, but if TripAdvisor opted for that policy, the site would be no different to newspapers that publish reviews by travel editors. It is the democratic nature of TripAdvisor that makes its database so vast.

When looking for a hotel, it is important to determine the price. The best way to get the price is to go to the hotel website itself. After this, I tend to look at the quality of the place. TripAdvisor reviews are filled with angry people who vote a hotel down over minor problems. I do to some extent rely on TripAdvisor rating because ratings that are too extreme on the downside should be cancelled out by rating that are too extreme on the upside. Other than that, I rely on TripAdvisor's photos to judge the quality of bathrooms, beds, and so forth. Pictures don't lie. I also make sure I use other websites, e.g. Google Maps, or I do a Google search of the hotel to see what newspapers and blogs say about it.

Why Automatic Cameras are Important

I have just come back from a holiday in Malaysia. Like many people, I love to take photos while on holidays, mainly because I like to look back on these photos to remember good times. There is nothing like browsing through really old photos and basking in nostalgia.

Keeping a collection of photos also adds structure to your past. It reminds you that you have actually done something in your past. It is deeply satisfying.

The problem with taking a camera with you on holidays is that it is a major inconvenience. Many people carry big DSLRs. These camera take excellent quality photos, but unfortunately they are large and often get left in the hotel.

Carrying a smartphone helps because you carry your smartphone everywhere with you and charge it overnight. The problem with the smartphone is that, when you take it out, everyone can see it and everyone poses. You therefore end up with boring shots of people smiling in front of significant cultural sights. There are many times when you feel you want to take a photo but do not because taking out the phone is too much hassle or it may not be appropriate for the moment.

I have an app on my phone called Mobile Hidden Camera. This app blackens the screen and takes a picture without an camera noise or lights whenever you tap the screen. It allows me to hold my phone as if I am just checking my email when in fact I am taking pictures.

A few companies have automatic wearable cameras that you attach to your body and which take pictures every, say, minute. There is memoto, Vicon Revue, and Microsoft SenseCam. The SenseCam looks far too big. The Vicon Revue doesn't seem to be sold anymore. The memoto looks good, but as of August 2013 it is still raising funds and is not available to the public yet. At US$279, it also seems too expensive for what is essentially a camera. It has neat features such as a feature to automatically orient the picture so that it is upright. The memoto also seems to come attached with a fixed monthly fee for "lifelogging cloud services." It would be great if it simply took photos, oriented them, and then wirelessly sent it to your phone or the internet via wifi.