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Archive for June, 2010

iTalk WHOA! best for international calls

June 28th, 2010

It has been more than a month since I tried TM’s new project – iTalk WHOA!, and there’s more than a month since I landed myself in the USA.

Over this time of more than a month, I have used iTalk WHOA! so many times to call home, back to Malaysia and I can say it’s the best choice for international calls as far as cost is concerned.

Read on to learn why, and click on the images to view them in original size.

I still have a credit balance of over RM7 after using more than a month with a starting credit of RM 25. I don’t make calls everyday, but maybe once a week, with length as long as half and hour to one hour?

You don’t really need a guide to learn how to use iTalk WHOA! The interface is simple and Phone is the button that I used most often.

Just select the country you want to dial, enter your phone number and hit Dial.

You of course, need a computer with speakers and a microphone to make the call, it isn’t magic. 🙂
I would suggest you to use a dedicated earphone/mic if your computer/laptop has a built in speaker or mic. This is because the sound you make or the party at the other end might get ‘cycled’ and ruin the conversation.

The recipient of the call will be seeing a random general calling number, which I assumed is assigned by TM.
Quality of the call depend on your internet connectivity and also on the iTalk WHOA servers.
There are times when my voice was delayed for a second or so and I can hear my voice coming back. Bear in mind this is a call to a landline and not to a computer.

The second most used function for me is SMS. It only costs 10 sen to send one sms.
I wish though it could have a status report as I remembered correctly, there were a couple of instances where sms were not delivered.
The sms sending feature is just like Google Voice SMS. Google Voice failed to send some of my sms too.

But all in all, it was operational and worked to my satisfaction, slightly above expectation.
The best of this is its cost which is my concern, and of which I highlighted earlier. 😉

COST SAVER
If you have roamed with your mobile, you know that it’s costly to send SMS.
RM 1 for a 140 char or less delivered to somebody on another mobile phone is….. 24 hour robbery!

Yes, that’s my own mobile phone bill. SMS from Singapore, Japan and USA are all charged at RM1 each.

How about phone calls?
I think the last I checked before I fly, the operator told me the usual charge for US calls to Malaysia is RM10 per minute. I wonder why a 29 second call and a 5 second call is charged RM10.35 each!

Ok, if you’re from Maxis or the operator, hold your horses. I DO know about this *120* feature you have.
But it doesn’t apply to picking up the phone doesn’t it?
So I picked up a phone, listened for 3 seconds, and I pay you RM5.50.
Business? Donation? Robbery?

If you’re a Maxis subscriber like me, Maxis have this feature they call ROAM *120* where you actually make a call prefixing it with *120*, sort of like a callback function and you get savings around 40 percent or more.

Check their calculator to see what’s the rate for the list of countries available.

So with the savings, it will still costs RM6 per minute to call with your mobile phone from US to Malaysia.

Another option, would be to use Skype. Check the list of rates here.
Malaysians are fortunate that the country is one of those charged for 2.4 cents per minute for landlines(which is a pretty good deal, in fact the best for landlines) and 6.7 cents for mobile numbers.
The foreign exchange rate will still set them to 7 sen and 22 sen per minute for landlines and mobile respectively.
To purchase credit, you need to have PayPal or a credit card, so you might subject yourself to bank charges as well.

One more option that I got to know, is OneSuite that provides international calling service. 3.5 cents to Malaysia, around RM 1.15 per minute.

And iTalk WHOA! ?
Fixed Lines & Mobile Calls: 18 sen/min FLAT, credit with iTalk prepaid card.
Check out the rate here.

I believe this is the best rate for Malaysians calling home.
Do let me know if you think otherwise, or best if you know anything better!
It’ll definitely be handy to me. 🙂

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Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

June 16th, 2010

It looks like I have been reading quite a number of Business category books of late.

Delivering Happiness is the first book by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very familiar with Zappos until recently. Truth is, I was reading this blog post Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is Delivering Happiness from NikiCheong.com and instead of trying to get a free copy there, I went directly to deliveringhappiness.com to get a review copy.

So here it is, the review of the Delivering Happiness book. I have extra copies of the book too, so if you care to read to the end of this post, I’ll tell you how you can get one. 😉

The book is put into three sections.

Section 1 – Profits
This section is the personal story of Tony Hsieh about his growing up in US, going through college and trying to make money since a very young age.
I personally find this section of the book the most interesting, probably the fact that I’m a software developer and that he wrote it in a funny and simple to understand way.
Tony told stories of his multiple startup business, some of which failed and a few succeeded.
He even had a very short stint in Oracle before starting up his own LinkExchange with a partner and later sold it off for $265 million to Microsoft!
After selling LinkExchange and becoming a millionnaire, Tony then went on to start Zappos and then played poker. No, seriously, poker.

Section 2 – Profits and Passion
While Section 1 is Tony’s personal story, Section 2 is the story of Zappos. This part of the book tells of how Zappos went past survival and then growth.
Zappos had went through growth, downsizing, funding, problem with products shipping and moving from San Francisco to Las Vegas.
Rarely do companies reveal their story and how things work but in this section, Tony shares about how the company culture is and more uniquely, a list of ten core values of Zappos.
Read more about the core values here.
The one that I admire most is Be Humble.

Be Humble is probably the core value that ends up affecting our hiring decisions the most. There are a lot of experienced, smart, and talented people we interview that we know can make and immediate impact on our top or bottom line. But a lot of them are also really egotistical, so we end up not hiring them. At most companies, the hiring manager would probably argue that we should hire such a candidate because he or she will add a lot of value to the company, which is probably why most large corporations don’t have great cultures.

Section 3 – Profits, Passion and Purpose
This final section is finally the purpose of this book, delivering happiness.
Tony shares his finding that happiness is actually the common thing that everyone looks for, although in short term, they might have objective such as retiring early, making money, finding a soulmate or running faster.

My personal opinion is that this book is one of those better ones that instead of becoming reference book, is more of a conversational business book that I will recommend my friends.
It’s a good read if you like stories about web entrepreneur, life of a millionnaire and something about finding happiness in what you do.

Do you have a personal favourite business book that isn’t just another reference book? Recommend me one in the comment section below and if you could, please let me know why it is your favourite. A random selection of comments will receive a copy of Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh delivered to you anywhere in the world.

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