Sunday December 30, 2012
A new year, a new page
By JO TIMBUONG
When we think technology, it’s almost always about new gadgets and what not, but some of the latest advancements have come courtesy of online social media.
When she became a Teach for Malaysia fellow two years ago, Liew Suet Li, 24, made a surprising discovery. Some of the students in the Negri Sembilan secondary school she taught at couldn’t read.
“The trouble is, some of them are really quiet in class and get overlooked by teachers,” she said. The alarming fact is that illiteracy does exist in schools where the reading skill of students is below average.
“Books many of us grew up with, like the Peter and Jane series or even Enid Blyton, are too complex for them. I want to help change that,” she said.
Illiteracy hampers the future of these students. Without basic reading skills, they won’t be able to sit for exams or even get basic academic qualifications.
“Reading opens up a new world for them. It can help them dream bigger,” she said.
She has made it her mission to teach these students to read and started a reading club in the school so students can be coached by teachers and their peers.
Looking for sustainability and wanting to reach a wider group of students, she’s starting the Sponsor A Child To Read programme where individuals can donate and help coach a child to read.
“The reading club in the school will face a sustainability issue when I leave. This is my way of continuing it and hopefully help solve illiteracy,” she said.
Liew is using social media to aid her cause and has started a Facebook page to get more people involved.
Although the project isn’t fully crystallised, the support on Facebook has been overwhelming.
Many supporters are willing to donate to her cause and the money or materials she receives will go towards buying books for students.
But Liew is seeking more than just the customary donation.
“I want the donors to have a personal attachment with the child so the child knows that this individual has done something to help with his or her illiteracy,” she said.
Liew hopes to see results in the new year.
Apps to change the world
Telecommunications company DiGi Sdn Bhd is getting Malaysians to think of mobile application ideas that would benefit society in the fourth instalment of its Challenge for Change initiative. “Mobile apps are driving the way people use their smart devices. Our objective is two-fold, we want to celebrate Malaysian ideas and show how we as a nation can use these apps to help one another,” said Joachim Rajaram, DiGi head of communications and corporate responsibility.
Not content with being a leader in the search engine industry, Google has jumped into the tablet market with the Nexus 7. Designed in collaboration with Asus, the Nexus 7 is one of the first devices to run on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Being a Google product, it’s no surprise that its biggest selling point is the powerful Google Now search tool, which also functions via voice command. This Nexus comes with the powerful quad-core nVidia Tegra 3 processor and is pre-installed with the fast Chrome browser.
Nikon has upped the stakes with the D800 – it has a whopping 36.3-megapixel FX image sensor, which is higher than the company’s upper-end D4 (16-megapixel). It comes with stereo audio output, as well as an audio level meter for monitoring audio levels during video recording. For those who like to add and change stuff while recording, the Live View mode is a godsend. It allows you to change apertures and video effects on the fly and be able to see the effect immediately.
Mixed and matched
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phone-tablet hybrid (for fence sitters who can’t decide between a phone and a tablet) comes with a 1.6GHz Cortex A9 quad-core processor along with a whopping 2GB RAM. It runs on the latest version of Android 4.1 Jellybean and sports a 3,100mAh battery, which lasts over a day of moderate usage with 3G connected. One of the main features is its S Pen stylus, which can perform certain functions with a mere swipe or gesture. There’s also the S Pen Keeper feature, which alerts you when the S Pen is detached and moved away from the Note 2 – good for those who frequently misplace things. You can now also open two different apps and have both share the screen.
Not an idiot box
The future is here – you can now tell your TV which channel you want to watch or what app you want to launch and have it done without reaching for any remote control. The Samsung ES8000 46-inch smart TV allows you to interact with it and use your voice to change the channel, adjust the volume and launch applications. The TV’s motion sensors also allow you to use your hand to control the TV – launch apps and browse the Web. Although the features have yet to be perfected (voice recognition isn’t always accurate), the Samsung Smart TV is innovative enough to warrant attention.
I call you on the telephone
For all those itching to upgrade, the Apple iPhone 5 is worth checking out. The new iPhone has a taller 4in screen and an aluminium back. Its A6 processor is said to be twice as fast as the iPhone 4S in CPU and graphics performance. Its camera also has a new dynamic low light mode that allows for better pictures in dim light (finally!). The iPhone 5 has a multi-shot panorama mode, allowing you to shoot a series of photos which are then automatically stitched together for a final image, which can be as large as 28-megapixels. Lastly, it has a new, much smaller 8-pin connector, rather than the larger dock connector, which has now been retired.