Tag Archives: internet

Online Plane Reservations

I made some plane reservations online with Tiger Airways. First the web forms failed, and contacting by Twitter and the online form them provided (which in a very bad design required 12 fields to be completed) didn’t result in a reply. So I called them. They answered in less than 5 seconds with a person that was polite and knowledgeable (airlines can’t come close to meeting this standard).

On the phone, I was told with Firefox you need to clear your browser history. As a software developer, I have to say you are feeble if you deploy production code that fails to accept customer money because you can’t deal with the cookie you created for the user.

I don’t like all the ways many of the airlines now try to take your money. Just charge honest fares don’t have all sorts of hidden fees 🙁 That is bad customer service. I do like being able to book my seats in advance and am fine being charged for that option. And providing seats with more room at a higher price is a good economic tool.

It is interesting to me how far advanced the credit card security is in Asia. The USA is way behind in several things (cell phone technology in general – due to monopolistic cell phone providers without effective over-site – also internet access in the USA is pitiful). The banking system in the USA (including credit cards) is highly corrupt with too big too fail institutions holding back innovation to an alarming degree in the USA. So it isn’t really Asia being ahead as much as the USA being behind everywhere else (Europe, like Asia is far ahead in credit card and cell phone systems).

Placing the credit card order with my Malaysian credit card required 2 factor authentication (which is a wise security practice) – they sent a one use code to my phone. If you haven’t setup 2-factor authentication for your email account you really should. Internet security is becoming a much bigger problem, being paranoid online now makes sense.

The airline web site (as nearly every site does) failed basic usability guidelines by masking the one time use approval code for that specific purchase. Even if they posted that code on the bill board on times square in New York City (or along the news crawl on Channel NewsAsia) it would have no negative consequence. But by masking it you greatly increase input errors as the user can’t verify they typed in correctly. This is basic stuff that is really pitiful that huge corporations still routinely mess up (masking one time use codes).

The airline travel system is much better in SE Asia than the USA. The airlines are decent at customer service, which given how atrocious the service in the USA is puts them far ahead. Prices are also good. Airports are much better. Huge security theater waste is missing (there is still a fair amount of security of course, due to the risks).

Related: Paying Bills Using Online Banking in MalaysiaTips for using your credit cardSE Asia Travel: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Great Cheap Cell Phone Plan

I did a bit of research trying to find the right cell phone plan for myself in Malaysia. I actually was looking at different options. One was for a fancy smart phone (iPhone or Android) largely to use when I travel and to be able to stay up with some business. Both looking at the phone options and the plan options. And the also looking at a cheap phone with a cheap plan. The truth is it was quite hard to get to a decision with so many options. I used the soon to be iPhone 4s as a good enough excuse to wait on the fancy phone option.

I really don’t use a phone much. Frankly the biggest use I have for it is in getting taxis and ordering food – plus other errands but what I can do by email, I do. It is also convenient when you are meeting people somewhere to catch up with each other. Mainly I prefer email and other internet communication and don’t find most cell phone conversation of much value (it just seems like people think they have to talk since they can or some people seem to think they seem important if they ignore whoever they are with to talk on the phone). I would rather take in where I am, talk to who I am with, think, or just relax.

So I keep looking for the best plan for someone that hardly uses a phone at all. It wasn’t easy to find. Partially, I imagine you don’t make much money off such cheapskates so the service providers don’t waste much time marketing to them. Anyway I thought I found something good with Digi. And when I was talking with the person to buy my phone I thought I had it clear I could get the phone and pay some minimal amount and then just top it up and be charged for use.

But once I bought it they seemed to not understand such an option. Oh well, I sometimes seem to not quite communicate perfectly so I guessed I mis-remembered and didn’t understand what they said at first. So then essentially I needed to pay RM 30 a month for service and that amount would be charged against as I talked (or IMed). But I needed to pay RM 1 everyday to maintain the ability to make calls. This was annoying but seemed to be the only option. So I just kept piling on the RM balance since I don’t use close to 1 RM a day on average.

Well I found the offer again earlier this week and it is perfect if you hardly use the phone, like me. You pay just RM 30 for a year. Then you still get charged for all your calls but it isn’t much at all.

So if you want a low use, cheap, cell phone plan option in Malaysia, get the Digi Super Long Life plan: a feature where you can extend your talktime validity to 1 year for just RM30. That means your phone number stays valid, you can make and receive calls and texts (to make outgoing calls and texts you also need a balance, but you can add to your balance whenever you want). Remember the plan name, so when you go to buy your plan you can make sure you can get it setup right from the start. It is really a fantastic option for someone like me, that uses the phone very little. My guess is if you use it less than an hour a week, on average, this is a good option. I am really not sure the exact breakpoint, whatever it is, I am nowhere near it.

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PayPal Opens Regional Support Center in Malaysia

PayPal announced it will open a new regional customer support center in Malaysia. The site opens with 200 employees and they may hire up to 300 more employees over the next 3 years. PayPal’s new facility will offer service and support for customers across Southeast Asia as well as provide operational support for PayPal’s global payment service.

Based in Kuala Lumpur, PayPal’s new customer support center is currently hiring for a wide range of positions including customer service, merchant support and other operational support roles. PayPal is now accepting resumes from experienced applicants (I had added a link to apply but their job site is so lame I removed it – hopefully Paypal isn’t as backward as their job site makes it appear, or those jobs might not last long).

“PayPal is experiencing phenomenal growth in the Asia Pacific region and this new support center demonstrates our commitment to offering a safe, secure online payment platform to millions of customers across the region, especially in Southeast Asia,” said John McCabe, senior vice president of global customer service and operations, PayPal. “We chose Malaysia because of its highly-skilled, globally competitive and multilingual workforce, in addition to a world-class business environment and technology infrastructure.”

“We believe their decision to put up a major regional facility here is a strong endorsement of Malaysia as a vibrant hub for the high-technology industry. As an MSC Malaysia-status company, PayPal is an important and strategic partner to us, as we move towards realising our nation’s goal of becoming an innovative digital economy,” said Datuk Ghazali, CEO of Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC).

Kuala Lumpur joins the other customer support locations for Paypal: Shanghai, China; Chandler, Arizona, USA; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Dublin, Ireland; Berlin, Germany.

Adding jobs such as these in the key growth areas of technology and financial services is important for Malaysia’s economic plan. Attracting these companies to locate here is important. And keeping them here and having them add jobs will be a big factor in the future of the Malaysian economy.

It is also important to build the economy in multiple areas, targeting: Johor, Penang, Sarawak and Kuala Lumpor makes sense to me. And given the success in Kuala Lumpor already, I would really try and focus on adding jobs elsewhere whenever possible. Still, gains in Kuala Lumpor are a very positive sign. And targeting several industries is also wise, good targets for Malaysia: internet technology, finance (especially in the areas of back office support for Singapore and Islamic finance), energy, manufacturing, health care and education. Advancing the progress on the residence pass for talented expats would be a big help for Malaysia’s economic future.

Related: Penang’s Economic GainsThe Investment Potential for Iskandar is Attracting Interest from Great BritainPenang Condo Market

P1 Broadband Wimax in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Update: P1 is unreliable, do not consider them for anything but a backup. Once they provide historical and real time uptime and real speed data from a 3rd party then you can think of considering them. In 6 weeks they have been down multiple days for multiple hours. One day for 1 hour would be bad. Being down several hours in a month would be very bad. They have been that unreliable and down multiple weeks (I think 50% of the weeks) for multiple hours a multiple days. Extremely poor. They don’t even have bother to apologize and explain each failure (at least 3 long term very serious failures in 6 weeks). As I stated in the last update, that tells you enough them to avoid P1, if you are smart. And it also explains why they keep failing over and over and over (when they don’t even acknowledge the causes of the failures, maybe they don’t even figure them out).

Finding a decent provider isn’t easy, the reviews online make it seem like P1 is as good as any provider (maybe Unify is best but it is offered on in very limited locations).

I needed broadband internet for my condo in Johor Bahru. In looking at the various options they seemed pretty similar. P1 offers the highest speed I saw 5Mbps and 30Gb a month (for the RM 139 a month plan) and so that seemed best to me. They also offer a 7 day trial period which was nice. And you can use it in 2 hours (after some setup by their system to activate your modem), which is nice. You can check out if your area is covered.

My speed was pretty bad at first. I was able to get support through Twitter. After awhile they said they would monitor the modem from their side. Then they said they made tweaks to the modem and things actually do seem better. I really wonder what they do to speed it up? The speed is still not near 5 Mbps. If I average 1.5 Mbps I would be surprised. I have only had it for about a week now so I do need to get more data. Today it has been above 2 Mbps for much of the day so if that continues it could be good (I even had 2 tests where it was nearly 4 Mbps – the average today may well be above 3). But it does seem 5 Mbps is much more a marketing gimick that what you can expect. But I don’t know if p1’s difference from their marketing is any more exaggerated than anyone else. Also I probably need close to 30 Gb so that factor matters to. If I could average 3 Mbps and had very little downtown (99.5% uptime) I will happy.

I have had several 10 or 15 min times already where I was trying to get online and couldn’t. I am hoping that is maybe initial setup issues (though really that doesn’t make much sense which is why I am just hoping). p1 has been good enough that I am passing the 7 day mark without cancelling, hopefully I won’t regret it.

I think I would have gone with Unify. They are a land-line provider which should be more reliable (historically the problem with landlines has been slow customer service and high fees, Unify is meant to address these issues and seems to be doing better on those scores). Unify’s VIP 5 plan offers 5 Mbps download and 60 Gb per month. Really I think if I was smart this is what I should have done. It takes awhile to setup and I think the upfront charges are more. I might even get Unify on top of p1 (just because I am so reliant on the internet to do my job). I really can’t have outages or it can be a serious problem. Probably it would have been smart to get the Unify package and then the a cheaper p1 plan. Oh well, trying to do all the things I have to do to get setup has been pretty stressful, making a few mistakes isn’t so horrible. I’ll just have to earn more money so I can afford to add Unify (or maybe I’ll find just P1 is enough).
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