Cyber Security

Security Summits
Ransomware and data breaches are on the rise. Find out the latest in cyber threats and defences at Human Layer Security Summit (June 3rd, 2021) and Akamai Security Summit (May 20th). Topics include:
  • Security Relies on People, Not Machines - Tessian
  • 3 Human-Centric Strategies - KnowBe4
  • Hacker Explains How To Prevent The Next Attack - OpenPath
  • Lessons From a Security Trailblazer - ICE NYSE
  • Security Starts At The Edge - Akamai
  • Understanding Hackers and Cyberthreats - KrebsOnSecurity

Security Startups
A sample of cyber security startups:
  • Randori - Test defences using simulated attacks
  • AttackBound - White hat attack as a service
  • Cado - Pre-prepare for post-event forensics
  • TrustGrid - Network-based security (access, traffic etc)
  • Prevailion - Predictive defence
  • Vanta - Prepare for SOC2, HIPA and ISO27001


Dogecoin is on a tear having risen 26,000%. Its cousin, Shiba, is up 6,600%.  Missing out on the action? Fret not, these are speculative instruments, for pros and people with spare change. Like at the casino, serious plays and big bets are for the professionals only. For ordinary folks, a bit of dabbling is fine but beware of it taking up too much attention (watching the ticker all day long) or getting hooked on highs and lows (as the ticker goes up and down). 

In more sober pursuits, UK is getting serious with Britcoin. The coin could be an edge for UK after leaving EU and perhaps draw on the Brit tradition of eccentric innovation. Remains to be seen what form the coin will take. Diem (Libra) is on the move too. It's moving its HQ from Switzerland to US to focus on USD as its paired currency. Former Libra boss, and ex-PayPal whiz, David Marcus, now heads F2 (Facebook Financial), FB's new Fintech venture.

[Not serious] How about a useful coin? A real currency, not a 'store of value' or a speculative vehicle. Let's name it PusseCoin after felines as not everyone loves Shiba Inus, cute as they might be. As Dogecoin is pronounced 'dosh coin', PusseCoin will be pronounced 'posh coin'. Characteristics:
  • Starts small at a small locale. If it works well, other locales will want it, no need to push it.
  • Anti-speculative. Value tied to natural inflationary or deflationary measures. An inflationary measure (the value of the coin rises over time) could be the number of green kilowatts generated globally. A deflationary measure (the value decreases over time) could be the total number of forest trees as counted by satellites. Deflationary because, what's the use of an asset getting bigger and bigger in paper value as the planet burns.
  • Run by somebody, like Linus Torvalds for Linux. To give it direction and impetus. Anything owned by everybody is owned by nobody. Anything owned by nobody risk being taken over by somebody (nefarious or not). Plus an elected senate as a progressive counter balance and as advisors.

Scottish Themes

Scotland is famous for whisky, golf, bagpipes and haggis. Illustrious Scots include Alexander Fleming (penicillin), Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), James Watt (wattage), James Maxwell (physics), Adam Smith (economics), Andrew Carnegie (steel magnate) and Anya Taylor-Joy (actress).

The first video has Paulina Yeung with Loch Lomond ('lake of the elms'). In the song, 'high road' refers to returning from battle intact, 'low road' otherwise. It is an ode to being brave and spirited going into battle. In the second video, André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra showcase Highland Cathedral.

Mobile Sensing

Mobile Sensing
  • The rise of autonomous machines sees a corresponding rise in the importance of sensing.
  • For autonomous vehicles, sensors include cameras, radar and lidar (radar uses sound to bounce off stuff, while lidar uses lasers).
  • A sensing market leader is Tesla which has vehicles on the road, at the front line. Unlike competitors Waymo and MobileEye, Tesla is moving towards using cameras only versus its rivals which use cams, radar and lidar.
  • Tesla's move towards cameras only is to resolve this: during field tests when the camera says go, and the radar says don't, which does the AI defer to? Answer: use cameras only and make them really good. (As an aside, intuitively, the vehicle should go only if both cam and radar say go, but this breaks down if there are too many disagreements).
  • A camera only approach also makes sense because it more closely approximates humans, who don't have radar or lidar senses, thus making the AI more natural. It also translates well to drones, low cost vehicles etc because lidar and radar are bulky and expensive. 
  • There are still many challenges. Machine learning thrives on training data, a car trained in one city may not work well in another city where the built environment, vehicle mix, rules and driving culture are radically different.
  • Sensing is a big field. Gadgets like smartphones sense too but can't do much for the end-user (except perhaps give health signals) and are possibly mainly used for data collection. For vehicles, sensing will make mobility safer and cleaner.

Self-Driving Startups

Latest Startups

An eclectic sample of startups from our in-tray:

Mutant Bugzilla

Mutant Bugzilla
  • With some exceptions, in many countries, bugzilla is on the retreat.
  • Vigilance is still necessary as mutants are cropping up all over. In the 1918 pandemic, it was a mutant that wrecked havoc.
  • Many locales treat each wave optimistically as it is going to be the last when it might be useful to use the opportunity to practice and prepare for a super mutant, or simply for the next wave.
  • May require big societal changes: eg. switch from recirculating aircon to quick-refresh, natural ventilation, al-fresco instead of indoor dining, etailing instead of bazaars and markets.

Food Delivery
  • Food delivery is still mainly for the middle-class and above.
  • A dish which normally costs 7 bucks, will have 5 bucks added as markup and another 5 bucks for delivery. A 7 bucks meal gets 10 bucks added on.
  • Fundamentally, delivering single meals is sub-optimal both in terms of economics and ecology.
  • Other areas which need revamp: curation (meh top listers), variety (same old top listers each time the app is opened) and nutrition (mostly salt-laden, meat-heavy food).

Meal Subscription
  • We have previously posted about a food outlet which, in the first lockdown, the owner delivered meals himself in his lux ride.
  • In the second lockdown, the outlet switched to offering food subs.
  • In this present third lockdown, we decided to try out a subscription. It turns out the outlet has gone green - customers must provide tiffin carriers - no plastic, no cardboard.

Keep Walking

Two videos with 'walk' themes. First, Nayli Azmi with Mirai-e. The literal translation of Mirai-e is 'to the future', the lyrical meaning could read 'keep walking'. Second, Triway Asiska collates four songs - Aisyah, Ramadhan, Insya Allah and La Ilaha Illallah - into an Alan Walker style music video.

FoodTech Startups

Though planet-friendly, alt-meat startups are popular presently, an alternative to alt-meat could simply be a delicious, nutritious veggie meal. Some latest FoodTech startups:
  • Root Kitchen - Plant-based, chef-made meals
  • Food Tech Valley - Dubai's new FoodTech hub
  • Yokai - Ramen vending machine (e-hawker) vid
  • Heattech - Uniqlo teams up with Nissin for instant udon
  • Tyson - US's biggest meat company goes veggie
  • Sach - Paneer (cottage cheese) as an alternative to tofu
  • Nestor - No menu maze, only one food delivery choice per day
  • Crisp - App only supermarket

SmartCity Startups

Sidewalk Labs
Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs (NYC) is an 'urban innovation' incubator. After calling off its Toronto Quayside smart suburb project in 2020, it is now in the midst of a number of new projects. Sample:
  • Delve - Explore and compare city block designs
  • PMX - Tall timber buildings
  • Coord - Transform curbs into flexible, bookable spaces
  • Replica - SimCity, but for real
  • Ori - Live large in a compact space

Greentown Labs
Greentown Labs was launched on Earth Day 2021 (a couple of weeks ago) with the aim to make Houston the energy transition capital of the world. Sample startups already working with the labs:
  • EnergyDome - Use CO2 to store electricity
  • OpenOcean - Drones to monitor the ocean (eg illegal fishing)
  • WaveSense - Ground penetrating radar for navigation
  • Adaviv - High resolution computer vision plant monitoring
  • TealBio - Reusable N95 respirator mask

Dream Girl

Before FB and TT, there was IRC, ICQ, QQ, Friendster and MySpace. Watch as a girl explains how she tried to login to her old QQ account only to find she has forgotten her password. In attempting to recover the password, she comes to realise she has forgotten her childhood dream. Even groups, buisnesses, ecosystems, societies and nations can forget their dreams. Here's hoping you can remember your dream(s).

Mobility Musings

Mobility Possibilities
New mobility is generally associated with electric propulsion. However, far-sighted startups and carmakers have set their sights on much more than just that. On a macro-level, they are looking to push the envelope on:
  • Energy: Particularly promoted by Tesla, the idea is to decentralise power generation to make the supply of power more resilient. This approach is worth looking into as an all-electric society is vulnerable to grid interruptions.
  • Sensing: Use of cameras (plus radar, lidar, ultrasonic, mics) to sense the environment. Future applications could include vehicle as 'community' rather than as just a highly personal machine.
  • AI: Data collected by sensing can be used for nouveau robotic applications - vehicles are 'out there', rather than have them only potter around, perhaps they can be made to do more.

  • In other mobility news, Toyota is proposing to stick with internal combustion engines - raspy exhaust notes and all - by burning hydrogen instead of fossil fuel.
  • Quite the retrogressive step as it perpetuates Saturday night ruckuses and unsafe driving. ICEs spew magnetite (Alzheimer's) and nitrogen dioxide (asthma) and hard driving piles on micro-plastics. The hydrogen energy chain is also much less efficient than the grid.
  • Hopefully, Toyota, with its pioneering work on the Prius, can take up a 'back to nature' zen approach in its future designs - the world needs it.

WIRED Innovate

WIRED Innovate
WIRED Innovate (May 7th, 2021) celebrates startups driving change. The event co-locates with Pulse: Quantum and is part of ViennaUP. Sample topics:

IEEE is hosting the 2021 Vision Innovation Challenge Summit May 11-13, 2021. Sample topics:
  • 3-Dimensional Storytelling - Disney
  • Renewables and the Future of the Grid - MISO
  • Telehealth: World-Changing Technology - Life365
  • Embracing Technology Disruptions - Dolby

Eventbrite RECONVENE
Eventbrite is hosting Reconvene, a summit on the future of events for independent creators, May 20-21, 2021. Sample topics:

Sound Effects

In first video, Roger Federer, together with tennis pals, Grigor Dimitrov. Tommy Haas and (a cameo by) Novak Djokovic, do up a fine rendition of Hard To Say I'm Sorry with some post-production tuning. Here's how they sound like without help from the studio. Nonetheless, a sporting musical effort.

In the second video, Daniel Blair demos the versatile violin in mimicking a variety of sounds. And, in the third video, some remarkably crisp audio from The Shirelles' Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Of note are the unique thumping sounds at the middle of the clip, which we surmised is from the plucking of violins (or cellos).

Trains vs Planes

Trains vs Planes
  • France is to ban flights which can be replaced with a train ride of less than 3 hours.
  • This is because planes are 77 times more polluting than trains.
  • Countries trading with EU and US may need to keep an eye on these developments as it is possible trade could be linked to equivalent green standards in the future.

Rapid Transit System
  • The JB-SG crossing is one of the world's busiest mobility corridor. Currently it is CO2 sub-optimal due to vehicles being often caught in border crossing congestion.
  • Thus, the JB-SG Rapid Transit System (RTS) is a timely development to transit to electric and shared mobility.
  • The sweeping weave design of the JB station was in the news. SG has also done up its station design which features a functional theme as is common with its train stations.
  • The RTS is scheduled to be begin operations late 2026, On the JB side it will be linked to the intercity ETS service to KL, Penang and beyond. On the SG side, it will be connected to the Thomson East Coast MRT which will have stations at downtown Orchard Road and Marina Bay, and with plans to go all the way to Changi Airport.

Bukit Chagar Station
  • The two countries will have co-located immigration and customs facilities at the RTS ingress. Thus, if a passenger has passport or visa issues, they don't get on the train.
  • Not much further details are available on the Bukit Chagar (JB) station design except it might have duty free shops. An integrated bus, taxi, ride hailing and parking hub might be included as well.
  • The present ETS terminus is about 350 metres away from the new station, so a mobility link might also be in the works. Ditto provision for integration with possible future BRT and HSR services.

British Anthems

UK has a number of unofficial anthems including meme favourite Rule Britannia. A lesser known one is I Vow to Thee, My Country. Showcased here in the first video, a YouTube remix. The second video, Go West by the West End Girls, could be a Brexit anthem.

Foodie: MY vs SG

Comparison Context
  • Street food costing below 10 (local) bucks
  • Excludes restaurants and mall food courts
  • Actual comparison (despite the post title): KL vs SG
  • Anecdotal, not expert opinion
  • Verdict: Cake goes to SG

  • In SG, street food vending (usually running a stall at a government operated hawker centre and less so as a stall holder in a private eatery) is vocational, artisanal and aspirational. Competition for stalls and customers are stiff and the lease and expenses are not trivial but once a operator gets a stall, he or she gets a venue to build a clientele, brand and business. Consequently, stall holders take the business seriously and offer the best food they can.
  • In MY, most hawker stalls are located at and rented out by private eateries. These eateries come and go, and provide low barriers to entry for anyone willing to pay the daily rental. This attracts less serious vendors who mainly sell using standard formulas and mass produced ingredients, making offerings somewhat uniform and undistinguished. There are old-timers who sell top notch food but these are relatively rare. Skilled vendors with capital usually try to open their own outlet and not operate from a hawker stall.

WeFood Future
Speaking of food, natural ingredients supplier Bösch Boden Spies will be hosting WeFood Future 3.0 this Wed (Apr 28, 2021) online with topics like:
  • Fortified and Naturally Healthy Food - Cuure
  • Classic Brands and Start-Ups in Times of Crisis - Air Up
  • Eco Footprint of the Food Industry - Too Good To Go
  • Big Data for the Food Industry - Lykon
  • Pimp Your Snacks with Special Dips & Sauces - Bösch Boden Spies

Pedal Power

In Europe, the good ole' bicycle is an essential component of new mobility. It's kinder to the earth (a typical city bike weights 10kg vs 2000kg for an SUV, a 1:200 ratio), greener and healthier (turns fat into sweat and a bit of CO2).
Bikes need infra to separate them from pedestrians and bigger vehicles. The building or provision of this infra, the innovation and supply of bikes and the promotion of biking is part of an envisaged green recovery [pdf].
The idea is to not just give away aid but to focus stimuli to power a green economy. To further this initiative, the bike industry and policy makers are meeting at the Cycling Industries Europe Summit 2021 this Thu (Apr 22, 2021).
Post photos: Dutch PM Mark Rutte and UK PM Boris Johnson on their bikes. Bonus vid: French prez Emmanuel Macron and then Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen touring Copenhagen on bikes.

EarthDay: BigTech

Earth Day is this Thur (April 22nd, 2021). Some Big Tech green initiatives:

Apple Restore Fund info
  • $200 million forest conservation fund
  • Projects selected by Forest Stewardship Council and Verra
  • Public participation: each Apple Pay (ewallet) payment contributes to the fund (quantum not specified, until Earth Day only)

Elon Musk Carbon Removal Competition info
  • $100 million purse prize, four year global competition
  • Challenge: pull CO2 direct from the atmosphere or oceans
  • Registration opens on Earth Day

Google Impact Challenge on Climate info
  • €10 million fund for European startups, partner: Climate-KIC
  • 11 startups chosen, including: ClimateFarmers (regenerative agriculture), Materiom (nature has over billions of years produced vast amount of materials - without toxic landfills, waste or plastic), DarkMatterLabs (trees are infrastructure as much as roads)

Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy info
  • Broad initiative for zero emissions and affordable, reliable energy
  • Includes Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund for green investments
  • Sample: Pachama (restore forests for carbon credits), Czero (convert natural gas into hydrogen), ZeroAvia (hydrogen planes)

Valuable Treasure

For this Ramadan, we have two songs to celebrate the festive aspects of the holy month and to showcase some cross language singing: Harta Berharga ('valuable treasure') by Michela Thea and Bie Zhi Ji ('take care, my friend') by Rani Pancarani. Though Bei Zhi Ji is in Mandarin, the chorus, which sounds like 'Ehsan Boh' is in the Yi language (closer to Burmese, spoken in Yunnan and vicinity). 'Ehsan Boh' also translates as 'take care, my friend'. Wishing Muslim readers Eid Mubarak and an early Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Ramadan Food Delivery

  • Ramadan and fasting start tomorrow (Tue, Apr 13, 2021).
  • For MY, the latest charts from the MoH aren't looking too great with both the 7-day average of new cases (the dark line in the graph above) and the infectivity rate (the red line) inching upwards.
  • For the risk averse, good opportunity to opt for home cooking or food delivery vs buffets and bazaars.
  • For food delivery, we haven't noticed many deals or promos, and after rummaging around the web a bit, have managed to come up with only one poster: Kedai Cikgu
  • Ramadan break fast probably needs a different delivery model: bulk orders, surge deliveries, working class service vs standard delivery which is posh, on-demand, single-order orientated.
  • Below is a curated list from our Food Delivery post from last year, the outlets shown are likely halal, double-check as necessary.

Food Delivery