How companies are stolen in Russia

Bill Browder, MBA ’89, founder and CEO, talks about Hermitage Capital Management’s investments in Russia and the fall out from the widespread corruption that still pervades Russia’s economy. Recorded Oct. 22, 2009

Hermitage CEO Browder: Don’t Invest in Russia Today

Thought-provoking. If you have an hour to spare, you should watch this video.

Friendster to be acquired in December

Friendster next target for an acquisition, sources close to Reuters reveal. I would think this is the end of the Friendster.

Friendster to be sold by month’s end -source

SHANGHAI, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Friendster, one of the world’s earliest social networking sites, will be sold to an Asian buyer by the end of December for at least $100 million, a source familiar with the matter said.

Friendster, which predates Facebook and MySpace in the social networking space was founded in 2002. But it quickly lost ground to other social networking sites in the United States. Friendster is now mostly used in Asia where more than half of its registered 100 million users are from.

Friendster will be sold to an Asian listed firm for more than $100 million in a deal set to be announced by the end of the month, said a source who declined to be identified as the information was not yet public.

Headquartered in California, Friendster had turned down a $30 million buyout offer from Google Inc (GOOG.O) six years ago, according to newspaper reports.

Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), China’s largest Internet firm by market value at $35 billion, was among the short-listed bidders, while Facebook also showed interest but was turned down due to competition and intellectual property issues, the source said. (Source: Reuters)

Thanks for pioneering the idea of how social network should be but you will not be missed.

Google now does DNS resolving too

Google now does DNS resolving too. You can switch if you’re using OpenDNS.

Introducing Google Public DNS: A new DNS resolver from Google

Today, as part of our efforts to make the web faster, we are announcing Google Public DNS, a new experimental public DNS resolver.

The DNS protocol is an important part of the web’s infrastructure, serving as the Internet’s “phone book”. Every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. Complex pages often require multiple DNS lookups before they complete loading. As a result, the average Internet user performs hundreds of DNS lookups each day, that collectively can slow down his or her browsing experience.

  • Speed: Resolver-side cache misses are one of the primary contributors to sluggish DNS responses. Clever caching techniques can help increase the speed of these responses. Google Public DNS implements prefetching: before the TTL on a record expires, we refresh the record continuously, asychronously and independently of user requests for a large number of popular domains. This allows Google Public DNS to serve many DNS requests in the round trip time it takes a packet to travel to our servers and back.
  • Security: DNS is vulnerable to spoofing attacks that can poison the cache of a nameserver and can route all its users to a malicious website. Until new protocols like DNSSEC get widely adopted, resolvers need to take additional measures to keep their caches secure. Google Public DNS makes it more difficult for attackers to spoof valid responses by randomizing the case of query names and including additional data in its DNS messages.
  • Validity: Google Public DNS complies with the DNS standards and gives the user the exact response his or her computer expects without performing any blocking, filtering, or redirection that may hamper a user’s browsing experience.

(Source: Google)

Just use the following name servers:

[code lang=”bash”]nameserver

Nice numbers. They got those from Level 3.

Price evaluation of Amazon EC2

I’ve been looking at the pricing of Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) running as if it were a VPS. I intend to run it continuously for as long as possible. I likely only need a small instance as described here.

Specification of EC2 Small Instance

  • 1.7 GB memory
  • 1 EC2 Compute Unit (1 virtual core with 1 EC2 Compute Unit)
  • 160 GB instance storage (150 GB plus 10 GB root partition)
  • 32-bit platform
  • I/O Performance: Moderate

These are some notes I have made for Amazon EC2. All prices are in US dollar and does not include bandwidth costs as those are far too varying.

Amazon web services

I only need the smallest Linux/UNIX instance and the pricing is $0.085 / hour for a server instance in North Virginia, USA without reserving an instance. (There’s going to be one in Singapore next year.)

I can choose to reserve the server instance for 1 or 3 years and pay $227.50 or $350 respectively and pay for $0.03 / hour for a similar instance.

To put the cost into perspective:

For 1 year

  • Without reserved instance: $0.085 * 24 * 365 = $744.60 ($62.05 / month)
  • With reserved instance: $0.03 * 24 * 365+ $227.50 = $490.30 (~$40.86 / month)
  • Percentage saving after 1 year: (744.60 – 490.30) / 744.60 = ~34.1%

For 3 years

  • Without reserved instance: $0.085 * 24 * 365 * 3 = $2233.80 ($62.05/ month)
  • With reserved instance: $0.03 * 24 * 365 * 3 + $350 = $1138.40 (~$31.62 / month)
  • Percentage saving after 3 years: (2233.80 – 1138.40) / 2233.80 = ~49.0%

I’m currently on Slicehost and Rackspace Cloud. They’ve been pretty good so far but Amazon’s cloud computing offering is beginning to look quite tempting.

Amazon Web Services expands to Singapore

This isn’t exactly the latest news but — Amazon Web Services expands to Singapore. Expansion to Singapore would keep Singapore web hosting prices a lot more competitive. Amazon is bringing to Singapore:

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2),
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3),
  • Amazon SimpleDB,
  • Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS),
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS),
  • Amazon Elastic MapReduce,
  • Amazon CloudFront.

Yes EC2 is coming to Singapore over the second half of 2010. I am considering migrating some stuff over to Amazon due to its pricing.

Amazon web services

Amazon Web Services Announces Expansion into Asia in the First Half of 2010

Amazon Web Services LLC, an company (NASDAQ:AMZN), today announced an expansion of its services into an Asia-Pacific region in the first half of 2010, enabling businesses to deploy compute and storage resources in close proximity to their end-users in the region. Software developers and businesses will be able to access AWS’s infrastructure services from multiple Availability Zones in Singapore in the first half of 2010, then in other Availability Zones within Asia over the second half of 2010. AWS services available at the launch of the Asia-Pacific region will include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Elastic MapReduce, and Amazon CloudFront. (Source: Amazon)

Amazon has yet to release the pricing for Singapore but I’m guessing it would cost about USD0.20 per hour. Hosting hasn’t been that cheap in Singapore currently. If they charge less than USD$0.14 per hour for a small Linux EC2 instance, I would start advocating people to switch. Currently in US, Amazon charges USD$0.085 per hour. VPS hosting in Singapore is still kinda expensive for whatever reasons. Running a website really shouldn’t be that costly.