Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Tech Focus: Signify Lighting the Fast Lane to IoT

Friday, September 10th, 2021

IoT – or the Internet of Things – has been the buzzword for a while now and businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to fast track their IoT adoptions and rollouts.

I spoke with Jitender Khurana to find out how a traditional lighting network can be harnessed to rapidly transform a dumb building into a smart IoT-enabled environment.

Jitender Khurana is the Country Head & Managing Director for Singapore and Emerging Markets at Signify. Photo: Signify.

Jitender Khurana is the Country Head & Managing Director for Singapore and Emerging Markets at Signify. Photo: Signify.

I asked Jitender the key to Signify’s competitive advantage in helping its customers embrace IoT.

Three simple words: “Lighting is ubiquitous,” says Jitender, head honcho for Singapore and Emerging Markets at Signify.

Lighting is ubiquitous,” says Jitender Khurana, head honcho for Singapore and Emerging Markets at Signify.

But how does that give Signify a leg up in helping businesses embrace IoT more quickly and easily?

Well, the most tedious aspect of rolling out an IoT implementation is typically the deployment of IoT sensors and the network connecting these sensors back to the IoT platform.

Laying the network for both power supply and data tends to be both costly and time-consuming.

For Signify – that network is simply the lighting network that forms the basic infrastructure of any building or facility.

As far as the world leader in lighting is concerned, “Where there’s light(ing), there can be an IoT sensor integrated into the luminaire”.

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Review: Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip to Liven Up Your Home

Monday, September 6th, 2021

Having had to #WorkFromHome for the past year, I decided to liven up the garden with a Philips Hue Lightstrip (Outdoor). It was a fun little project that was quick and easy to set up.

I got myself the 5m version of the Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip.

I got myself the 5m version of the Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip.

The Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip is a flexible, weatherproof LED strip that can be bent and shaped to produce your own lighting designs and mood in your garden or patio.

You can also use it indoors although there is a cheaper version (Lightstrip Plus) for indoor usage that’s not weatherproof..

With its diffused glow, the lightstrip can be used for direct or indirect lighting, and is able to display 16 million colour and 50 shades of gray all shades of white to create your personalised desired effect.

In the box is the lightstrip itself, the weatherproof power supply for plugging into the mains outdoors, as well as clips and screws to fasten the lightstrip onto the ground or wall based on the design you want to shape it to.

The lightstrip itself is quite flexible so if you’re just laying the lightstrip on the ground, I found that I could shape it without using any clips.

The lightstrip comes in 2m (S$209) and 5m (S$339) versions and is part of the Philips Hue line of intelligent lighting products for the home.

 

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#t4tTUCU: Philips Hue Outdoors Lightstrip from Signify – freshly unboxed. Time to add some fun and snazzy (or calm and relaxing) ambience to the garden.

Note that, in order to maximise the use of the lightstrip, you’ll need to have a Philips Hue Bridge (S$89), which is sold separately.

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#tech4WorkFromHome: Turbocharge Home Wi-Fi with Linksys E9450 WiFi6 EasyMesh Router

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Want to improve the quality, speed and coverage of your home Wi-Fi for #WorkFromHome and #HomeBasedLearning? I’ve been using the E9450 WiFi6 EasyMesh Router from Linksys since its launch half a year ago and I’m very happy that it has delivered.

The Linksys E9450 Dual Band WiFi 6 Mesh router to expand Wi-Fi coverage and performance for #WorkFromHome and #HomeBasedLearning, as well as for gaming.

The Linksys E9450 Dual Band WiFi 6 Mesh router to expand Wi-Fi coverage and performance for #WorkFromHome and #HomeBasedLearning, as well as for gaming.

I’ve been using a telco-provided router for years – it has served me well although it could not reach the study, the bedrooms and the garden outside – so Internet access has always been confined to the kitchen, living and dining rooms.

Beyond the reaches of the old router, we had to switch on the mobile data connections on our handphones and hotspot the data to devices (speakers and computers etc) without a mobile data connection.

You can imagine how frustrating and limiting (and expensive) that can be.

And as the number of Internet-lusting devices being used in the household began growing rapidly, connection quality began to deteriorate, with slow speeds and dropped connections occurring more frequently.

Which was why I decided to upgrade the old router with the Linksys E9450 WiFi6 EasyMesh Router.

To expand the coverage of my home Wi-Fi network, I deployed a 2-node (1 parent + 1 child node) mesh network.

This was because a single-node network provided roughly a similar spatial network as my old router, probably because it was a matter of physical topology due to the layout.

The optical network terminal (ONT) for Singtel’s fibre optic network is located at one end of my apartment near the main entrance – instead of the center of the entire apartment – hence the distance between the router (which is connected by wire to the ONT) and the bedrooms tend to render the Wi-Fi signals too weak for connection.

 

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I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) connected (by wire) to the E9450 so that devices can upload/download files/photos and stream music/videos wirelessly via the Wi-Fi network. Another reason why I need a good Wi-Fi network with reach and performance.

So with a second E9450 router placed at the far end of the living room, the coverage of the Wi-Fi network was successfully extended to every bedroom – because the second router was located at the center of the entire apartment.

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Tech4WorkFromHome: Tech U Can Use To Work & Study From Home

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

#tech4wfh is a new series to curate technology and gadgets that you can use to set up your home environment for #WorkFromHome and #HomeBasedLearning – based on what I use for my own home office.

What is your #WorkFromHome or #HomeBasedLearning setup at home? Stay tuned for tech4WorkFromHome series of curated technology and gadgets to set up your work or study environment at home.

What is your #WorkFromHome or #HomeBasedLearning setup at home? Stay tuned for #tech4WorkFromHome series of curated technology and gadgets to set up your work or study environment at home.

It’s been more than a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By now, workers and students all over the world have become accustomed to lockdowns and social distancing in the fight against the respiratory disease.

#WorkFromHome and #HomeBasedLearning have become the norm for the time being.

As a result, I’ve been inundated with requests for recommendations on technology and gadgets for setting up the home environment for working and for studying.

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Tech Focus: Artificial Intelligence Consumes Energy Too

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

Jo De Boeck notes the growing list of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications as they take up more and more of the resources on Earth to deliver anything from Amazon recommendations to deciphering a virus DNA.

In this guest blog, the EVP/CSO of imec shares his insights into how power-hungry AI can be and the need for an Energy label for AI.

Jo De Boeck is the Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of imec, an R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, based in Belgium. Photo: imec.

Jo De Boeck is the Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of imec, an R&D and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, based in Belgium. Photo: imec.

AI has become more intelligent in recent years.

Fuelled by seemingly infinite computational power that is easily available on tap today, it now processes huge amounts of data to recognise patterns every day.

Yet, with each new “trick” that an AI can learn, whether this is differentiating a cat from a dog or getting a robotic arm to figure out a Rubik’s Cube, billions of calculations go into each task.

“We need to talk about an Energy Label for AI,” says Jo De Boeck, EVP & CSO, imec. Photo: imec.

“We need to talk about an Energy Label for AI,” says Jo De Boeck, EVP & CSO, imec. Photo: imec.

That takes a lot of energy to power up, adding to an already fraught situation with global warming.

Compare this to the human brain.

It can effortlessly complete many of these cognitive feats that AI is accomplishing and celebrated for today, while requiring a small fraction of the energy.

So, while AI can be useful to help save energy by optimising its use, there is energy needed to train an AI model as well. This energy is not insubstantial.

Can this inspire us to develop more energy-efficient AI systems?

Will they bring a net positive in efforts to prevent or reverse permanent environmental damage?

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Review: Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB HDD with Synology DS918+ NAS

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

With the growing demand for storage space at home, I’ve set up an NAS (Network Attached Storage) with three Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB NAS HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in a Synology DS918+ DiskStation. Just in time for World Backup Day 2021 today.

 

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The three Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB HDD freshly unwrapped (lower photo) and just prior to installation into the Synology DS918+ DiskStation NAS.

With the exponentially increasing demand for storage space, businesses and home users constantly find themselves exhausting whatever storage they have – be it to store text documents, databases, photos or huge video files.

 

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The NAS sitting pretty alongside the Linksys E9450 router, all set up with RAID5 in a Synology DS918+ DiskStation with three Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB HDDs within.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are working from home and students are doing home-based learning – resulting in large increases in demand for storage needs at home eg. if you’re a creative pro who now have to do your video-editing at home instead of at the office.

 

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The three Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB HDDs and Synology DS918+ DiskStation NAS just prior to unboxing.

Having gotten by with a desktop expansion HDD connected to my work laptop, I’ve decided to set up an NAS at home – to not only increase storage capacity but also to share that storage with all members of the family.

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Study: 45% of Singapore SMBs Want to go 100% Laptop Post COVID-19

Friday, March 12th, 2021

In an IDC survey commissioned by ASUS, SMBs are more inclined to equip their employees with laptops rather than desktop computers – compared to prior to COVID-19.

Hmm, still somewhat behind Japan I suppose. I recall, when attending a senior management & leadership course in Japan in the late 90’s, the staff at the college were already equipped 100% with laptops, while fellow-attendees of the year-long course were issued with a personal laptop. It was a cultural mindshift - coming from a work environment at home when it was still 100% desktop.

Hmm, still somewhat behind Japan I suppose. I recall, when attending a senior management & leadership course in Japan in the late 90’s, the staff at the college were already equipped 100% with laptops, while fellow-attendees of the year-long course were issued with a personal laptop. It was a cultural mindshift – coming from a work environment at home when it was still 100% desktop.

Presented during the IDC & ASUS Webcast 2021 Singapore – Digital Transformation for the Next Normal in Asia/Pacific, ASUS revealed that 45% of Singapore SMBs are likely to convert to a 100% laptop setup post COVID-19, underscoring the importance of mobility in a hybrid workplace model.

The finding is among other strategic insights to SMB technology use and how COVID-19 has affected related decisions.

Three suggestions from IDC that Singapore SMBs can implement with regard to technology implementation.

Three suggestions from IDC that Singapore SMBs can implement with regard to technology implementation.

Considering the survey findings, IDC advised that equipping employees with the latest devices that can support both a remote and hybrid work environment will have a significant impact not only on employee productivity and experience, but also will provide a competitive edge to organizations to attract and retain talent.

More details below from the press release.

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Five Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day 2021

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Valentine’s Day is one week away so here are five gift ideas for those looking for something special for the better half.

The tech4valentines gift guide is meant to provide ideas to start you off, so do check out some of them online and in the shops in your search for that ideal gift this Valentine’s Day.

The tech4valentines gift guide is meant to provide ideas to start you off, so do check out some of them online and in the shops in your search for that ideal gift this Valentine’s Day.

Still looking for that special gift for your Valentine?

Here are five suggestions to consider, covering a whole range of prices from S$89 to S$1,298.

Check out the tech4valentines Gift Guide below.

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tech4xmas Review: Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O E-Reader

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O is the Christmas present for my wife who is an avid reader. I chose it because it offers all the features that she needs and uses at a reasonable price. Looks good, works well and value-for-money.

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O e-reader (S$279.90) and the optional sleep cover (S$59) is available online (https://sg.kobobooks.com/products/kobo-libra-h2o) as well as at key retailers such as Challenger, Courts, and Sprint-cass.

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O e-reader (S$279.90) and the optional sleep cover (S$59) is available online as well as at key retailers such as Challenger, Courts, and Sprint-cass.

So the two flagship e-readers that I started out looking at were the Kindle Oasis 3 and the Kobo Forma.

Eventually, I decided on the Libra H2O because it offers almost the same set of features but at a much lower price.

 

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Borrowing books from the public library and discovery of books from the Kobo eBookstore is easy and intuitive. I like the recommendations of similar books based on the books that I have read.

The Libra H2O has a seven-inch Carta E Ink HD touchscreen with 1690 x 1264 pixels at 300ppi.

The display is sharp and the content is clearly readable in dim light or in bright sunlight.

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tech4xmas Review: Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro Smartwatch

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

The S$398 smartwatch from Huawei offers itself as a fitness and health companion, packaged in a design that combines sports and style. Great Christmas gift for the sporty male.

 

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Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro smartwatch (Night Black).

The Watch GT 2 Pro is the most advanced smartwatch from Huawei, offering a comprehensive range of features, with a number of upgrades from its predecessors.

With 100+ workout modes available – including the recently added golf driving range, skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing – you’re highly likely to find your favourite workout whatever your sports of choice is.

 

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Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro smartwatch in the box.

In addition, the GT 2 Pro offers attentive health features such as its proprietary TruSeen™ 4.0+ heart rate monitoring technology, TruSleep.

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