Mac users steered to pricier hotels

So if you’re a Mac user to get the more expensive hotels. Very smart. I am honored to be perceived as the more affluent.

On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels

Orbitz Worldwide Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see.

The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information—in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac—to start predicting their tastes and spending habits.

This is one site I will avoid shopping. Sorry, I’m a bloody cheapskate.

Amazon announces micro instances

Micro instance pricing for On-Demand instances starts at $0.02 per hour for Linux and $0.03 per hour for Windows. That translates to monthly costs of US$14.88 if hosted in North Virginia and US$18.60 if hosted in Singapore (Asia Pacific). Prices have yet to include bandwidth and EBS storage charges.

Lately I’ve been looking at Linode’s 512MB VPS offering that would set me back US$19.95 monthly which includes storage and bandwidth. This new Amazon announcement is particularly attractive due to the option of having a website hosted closer to me (i.e. Singapore).

So what are micro instances

According to Amazon (link to the EC2 page): “Instances of this family provide a small amount of consistent CPU resources and allow you to burst CPU capacity when additional cycles are available. They are well suited for lower throughput applications and web sites that consume significant compute cycles periodically. Micro Instance 613 MB of memory, up to 2 ECUs (for short periodic bursts), EBS storage only, 32-bit or 64-bit platform.”

Things to watch out for

EBS storage is chargeable so you have to estimate that yourself. And ECU (EC2 Compute Unit) is for short periodic bursts only. It’s hard to understand what exactly is ECU and it’s some sort of voodoo unit that you can only compare among Amazon EC2 packages.

Amazon web services

It’s still a good promotion, especially if you are considering finding a host in Singapore. Amazon is being very competitive in this region. I am almost certain no other web hosting service in Singapore is able to best their offering at this moment.

[via Uzyn]

Black American kids are cheaper

Did you know it is, in average, $8,000 cheaper to adopt a black baby than a white one? And that boys are cheaper by $2,000?

Discount babies

THE market is not politically correct. It often assigns lower values to humans (their wages) based on their race or sex, even after controlling for education and experience. It’s just as cruel to children. A few years ago I was disturbed to learn that it’s cheaper to adopt black American children than white. I recently had lunch with NYU Stern School economist Allan Collard-Wexler, who has estimated adoption price sensitivity. He found just how much adoption fees are sensitive to the race and gender of a baby. It’s about $8,000 cheaper to adopt a black baby than a white or Hispanic child and girls tend to cost about $2,000 more than boys.

What can explain the preference for non-black girls? The preference for girls is interesting because people tend to favour male biological children. The authors speculate this may be because girls are considered “safer” in terms of dysfunctional behaviour. The data also includes same-sex couples, which tend to favour girls (both male and female partners), even more than heterosexual couples. (Source: The Economist)

Ah, sensitive issues. Still interesting though.

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 Amazon.com 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.

Any good chairs to recommend?

Asides Herman Miller’s Aeron which is probably US$$899. I’m kinda looking for an office chair to be placed in my home. Ergonomics is of importance. I’m not so much into the design of the chair but it would be a bonus definitely. I’m looking for a chair that can be purchased in Singapore at a price SG$500 or lesser preferably. Any recommendations?

Anyone still using dial-up internet?

Wow dial up is still around:

Access Plan Free Hours
Monthly Subscription
Personal/Business
Monthly Subscription
Student
I 13 $10.17 $8.03
II 35 $26.70 $21.35
III 90 $64.15 $51.31
IV 135 $90.90 $72.23
Unlimited Unlimited $107.00

(Source: SingNet) Continue reading “Anyone still using dial-up internet?”

What KahWee tweeted on 2008-08-19

  • Singapore iPhone price plan has not unlimited. Cheapest plan is iFlexi Value @ 56SGD /w 300MB Data, 200min outgoing and 500 SMS 🙁 #
  • And for that plan, SingTel retails iPhone at 348SGD and 508SGD for 8GB and 16GB respectively. iPhone dream smashed. #
  • @techcrunch Singapore iPhone plan – http://tinyurl.com/5u74pf #
  • @ntt We need to go on iPhone strike, lol #

The next Prius will be partially solar-powered

Oh this is so cool, Prius powered by the sun!

Toyota to add solar panels to Prius hybrid: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to install solar panels on its next-generation Prius hybrid cars, becoming the first major automaker to use solar power for a vehicle, the Nikkei business daily reported on Monday.

The paper said Toyota would equip solar panels on the roof of the high-end version of the Prius when it redesigns the gasoline-electric hybrid car early next year, and the power generated by the system would be used for the air conditioning.

Toyota plans to use solar panels made by Kyocera Corp (6971.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the Nikkei said.

Toyota remodeled the Prius with an improved hybrid system in 2003 and is expected to launch a third-generation version by next year. (Source: Reuters)

It’s great that car manufacturers are innovating in the area of energy conservation. Costs savings and a better environment I hope!