Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Is Microsoft Afraid of Google?

In the few short years of its existence, Google has come a long way, simultaneously striking fear in the hearts of major players in the computer industry and also arousing their curiosity.

Its search engine is so ubiquitous that “to Google” somebody or something is now part of the lexicon of hard-core knowledge workers and casual web users alike. Google also has become a gateway to the Internet and taken steps to develop desktop applications, such as Google Toolbar and Google Desktop, not to mention other products like Gmail and Google Earth. The company's initial public offering was a big success and its stock has risen ever since. What, everyone wonders, will Google be up to next?

While Google, of Mountain View, Calif., is keeping all competitors on their toes, it poses a special threat to one particular company — Microsoft. Why? Because Google's existing and potential products — as well as those of other firms — raise the specter that the behemoth of Redmond, Wash., may witness the erosion of its control over the platform for the next generation of software application development, according to Wharton faculty members who follow the technology sector.

“What Google wants to do is strategically decrease people's reliance on Microsoft. It's as simple as that,” says Wharton management professor Raphael Amit.

But being a threat — even a formidable threat — is one thing. Actually beating Microsoft would be a different accomplishment altogether, the Wharton experts agree, and only time will tell how this David-and-Goliath-style rivalry will fully shake out.

Microsoft's concern over Google has been evident recently on several fronts. Microsoft recently announced a major reorganization designed to streamline the company's huge bureaucracy and make the firm more nimble — a move that the Wharton scholars say was in direct response to fear of continued inroads made by competitors, especially Google, on Microsoft's turf. Microsoft has also suffered the embarrassment of watching key employees defect to Google. Most recently, on Oct. 4, Sun Microsystems and Google announced a partnership to distribute each other's software, a deal that is viewed as another assault on Microsoft. Among other things, the Google Toolbar for web browsers will be a standard component of the software that computer users receive when they download Sun's Java software.

But the central challenge to Microsoft goes beyond corporate reorganizations, defecting employees or the popularity of Google's search engine as a gateway to the web, according to Kendall Whitehouse, senior director of information technology at Wharton. Microsoft's success has been due in large part to its realization two decades ago that control of the operating system on personal computers would give it a great amount of leverage over PCs, he says. Most companies in the 1980s saw the operating system as a pure commodity product, but Microsoft understood that it held the keys to the kingdom.

“It's because of the dominance of the Windows operating system that Microsoft has been able to become so strong,” Whitehouse notes. “The dominance of Windows means that if you're a developer of a major software application, you need to deliver a product for Windows. This means software developers must use the programming capabilities provided by Windows — its application programming interface, or API.”

But many in the computer business have long believed that the core platform could be moved to a higher level, that technology gurus could establish a web-based platform that runs in the browser and is written in the language of the browser rather than the language of the operating system.

“This was the dream of Marc Andreessen [co-founder of browser company Netscape Communications] and others back in the mid-1990s when Andreessen boasted that the web would reduce computer operating systems to nothing more than 'a poorly debugged set of device drivers,'” Whitehouse recalls. “And this is why Microsoft responded so aggressively to the threat of Netscape after [Microsoft Chairman] Bill Gates issued his famous memo warning of an Internet 'tidal wave' that threatened Windows. Netscape didn't succeed. Microsoft managed to thwart Netscape's attempt to establish a new platform on the web.”

How, specifically, do innovations at Google threaten Microsoft? Whitehouse points, for example, to Google Maps. The API of Google Maps lets developers embed Google Maps in their own web pages using JavaScript. A visit to http://www.googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/ — which bills itself as an unofficial Google Maps blog tracking the websites, ideas and tools being influenced by Google Maps — shows a long list of applications built using Google Maps as the underlying engine.

Google is not the only company offering products and services that run on a web platform. Feeling the heat, Microsoft has already announced products to compete with those of Adobe (developer of the PDF document format) and Macromedia (developer of Flash and ShockWave software for video and animation), which announced a merger earlier this year. “To the extent that PDF and the Flash SWF file format could be an emerging platform for web application development,” Whitehouse notes, “Microsoft has to be worried.”

A Commodity Product?

It is important to note, Whitehouse adds, that “all the applications I have talked about are written in the web browser. They work equally well on Windows, Mac or Linux. Your computer still needs an operating system to run — but it doesn't matter which one. The operating system may eventually become the commodity that people in the 1980s thought it would be, and that's bad news for Microsoft.”

Thomas Y. Lee, professor of operations and information management, sees Google's challenge to Microsoft in broader terms. “I don't know that I would say Google is a threat to the operating system, per se, but it is a threat to Microsoft's business model. Microsoft has software [such as Office] that they use to leverage the operating system.”

Lee says Google benefits from two key strengths. The company gives free rein to talented people to innovate and it encourages program developers to use Google as the basis for products of their own. “Google has hired really, really smart people. Some of the smartest graduates coming out of the top computer science programs are going to Google. When you put that many smart people in one place, neat things happen. Google also has not been threatened by people working off their products. Look at all the product extensions that are tied to Google Maps.”

Balaji Padmanabhan, professor of operations and information management at Wharton, agrees with Whitehouse that “there is a move toward PCs that don't have a lot of software installed on them, where most applications can run off a network.” Padmanabhan notes that Sun Microsystems and Oracle developed such a system, in which people using nothing more than a simple PC would wirelessly communicate with a central computer.

“But that idea never really took off, to a large extent because the network was not as large and as fast as it is today,” says Padmanabhan. “Yet there are advantages to that concept — less software to update for users, for one thing, and that's exactly what Google would capitalize on. The second advantage is PC users get better security, since apps can be constantly updated on a server to fix errors and add patches. The big challenge is the reliability of the network. You don't want to get into a situation where users want to open a spreadsheet program but can't because the network isn't up right now. That is certainly an issue that will have to get resolved down the road.”

Legal studies professor Kevin Werbach asserts that the competitive issues facing Microsoft go beyond Google. “At some level, any successful Internet and software company is a threat to Microsoft,” he says. “Microsoft is in a uniquely dominant position in the computing ecosystem. Anything that attracts a significant amount of use or activity is potentially a threat to them. Microsoft is a threat to, in some ways, virtually everyone in the industry and likewise everyone is a threat to Microsoft.”

Werbach says that Microsoft is in such a powerful position because the PC operating system is at the center of most users' experiences with computers. As the Internet becomes more of an essential part of the computing experience, if anything else from a network becomes a central link in the user's experience, that poses a challenge to Windows and software programs like Office, which has higher profit margins than Windows itself. “Google does not prevent people from using any particular operating system on a PC,” he says, “but if the functionality that users engage with is driven through a Google experience rather than something controlled by Microsoft, that harms Microsoft.”

The Task Ahead

“The big challenge for Microsoft is the law of large numbers,” Werbach notes. “It's harder and harder for the company, as it gets bigger, to keep growing as it historically did. The computer industry is a mature industry. In the developed world, virtually everyone has a computer. So Microsoft, to continue growing, needs to find new ways to expand its market, which is why they want to get into games, wireless and business-software markets. In these areas they're generating substantial losses. To the extent that Google becomes a dominant player in the Internet market, it blocks an opportunity for Microsoft to expand.”

But Microsoft did not achieve the position it enjoys today by rolling over in the face of adversity. Microsoft executives “aren't sitting on their laurels; they see the threat,” according to Lee. “They see a future revenue stream in web advertising and desktop search functions and in better knowing the consumer. So they are organizing their own formidable brainpower to attack the competition. And there are plenty of people who like Microsoft and its products just fine.”

“If you ask me why I didn't buy Google shares at the IPO, I'd say Google at the time had one product — its search engine,” says Amit. “As it expands its base, it might harm Microsoft. But Microsoft has a much broader product line. It's sitting on 90% of all computers around the world and Google has a long way to catch up.”

Marketing professor Peter S. Fader says Google's threat is a tune Microsoft has heard before. “It's history repeating itself over and over and over. Every time a new threat emerges to Microsoft, people think, 'Oh, this is it — the one that's going to knock Microsoft off the block.' There's no reason to believe it will play out any differently this time. Google is a different kind of competitor, but Microsoft has dealt with a pretty wide range of competitors before. It's a tortoise-and-hare scenario. And Microsoft is a very good tortoise. What the company will do is figure out a way to replicate the features of competitors' products. The products won't necessarily be better, but they will be adequate.”

Whitehouse suggests that Microsoft may have to change its philosophy if it truly wishes to compete with Google. “Microsoft has tremendous resources, and it performed a similar turnaround once before when it took on Netscape in the 'browser wars' of the late 1990s. Microsoft, however, tends to focus on stopping the onslaught of the web — which it did very well with Internet Explorer in the late 90s — but then falls back and refocuses on its core operating system and desktop application businesses. So, for example, in recent years we've seen a major push to develop Vista [the long-delayed operating system, once code-named Longhorn, that is scheduled to replace Windows XP in 2006], but there have been no major new improvements in Internet Explorer in years.

“It's not clear how much Microsoft actually believes that the web is the platform of the future. After conquering its immediate adversary, the company tends to retrench and fall back on developing its core assets. That may work again this time. But, eventually, it may not be enough to forestall the Internet tidal wave that will eventually arrive.”



Country Profile: Malaysia

Map of Malaysia
Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia's most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability.

Its multi-ethnic and multi-religious society encompasses a majority Muslim population and an economically-powerful Chinese community.

OVERVIEW


OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

Consisting of two regions separated by some 640 miles of the South China Sea, Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories. It is one of the region's key tourist destinations, offering excellent beaches, brilliant scenery and spectacular wildlife.

Ethnic Malays comprise some 60% of the population. Chinese constitute around 26%; Indians and indigenous tribes make up the rest. The communities coexist in relative harmony, although there is little racial interaction.

Although since 1971 Malays have benefited from positive discrimination in business, education and the civil service, ethnic Chinese continue to hold economic power and are the wealthiest community. The Malays remain the dominant group in politics while the Indians are among the poorest.

Malaysia's economic prospects remain relatively good. It is among the world's biggest producers of computer disk drives, palm oil, rubber and timber. It manufactures a "national" car - the Proton - and its tourism industry retains considerable room for expansion.

But it also faces serious challenges - politically, in the form of sustaining stability in the face of religious differences and the ethnic wealth gap, and, environmentally, in preserving its valuable forests.

Malaysia's human rights record has come in for international criticism. Internal security laws allow suspects to be detained without charge or trial.

FACTS


OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

  • Population: 25.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Kuala Lumpur
  • Area: 329,847 sq km (127,355 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam
  • Major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism
  • Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 75 years (women)
  • Monetary unit: 1 ringgit = 100 sen
  • Main exports: Electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, chemicals, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles
  • GNI per capita: US $4,650 (World Bank, 2005)
  • Internet domain: .my
  • International dialling code: +60

LEADERS


OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

Head of state: Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin

Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail was installed as Malaysia's 12th king during a glittering ceremony in 2002.

Malaysian king
King Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin
He is the traditional ruler of Malaysia's smallest state, Perlis, a rural province in the far north bordering on Thailand. He is a former student at Sandhurst military academy in Britain and a keen supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club.

The king's role is largely ceremonial, although he is nominal head of the armed forces and all laws and the appointment of every cabinet minister require his assent.

Under Malaysia's constitutional monarchy, the position of king is rotated every five years.

Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, himself a prince, devised the system after independence in 1957 to spread power among the sultans and rajas who had ruled over fiefdoms on the Malay peninsula for hundreds of years.

Prime minister: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister in October 2003, when Asia's longest-serving elected leader retired after 22 years in power.

Malaysian premier
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Mr Abdullah is a former deputy premier who held defence, foreign affairs and education portfolios under Dr Mahathir. He promised to continue the policies of his predecessor.

On taking office he faced a strong political challenge from opposition Islamic fundamentalists and inherited the task of overseeing one of the region's most vibrant economies.

In March 2004 Mr Abdullah was sworn in for a new, five-year term after his coalition government won a landslide victory in parliamentary and regional elections. Correspondents said the victory boosted the prime minister's chances of pushing through his package of reforms, including a promise to stamp out corruption.

In contrast to his predecessor, Mr Abdullah has been described as self-effacing. He has been called the "Mr Nice Guy" of Malaysian politics.

Mr Abdullah was born in 1939 in Penang. His father was a founding member of Umno, Malaysia's ruling party. After gaining a degree in Islamic studies he worked in the civil service before being elected to parliament in 1978.

Malaysia has been ruled by a coalition, the National Front, since independence. The United Malays National Organisation (Umno) is the biggest grouping in the alliance, which includes Chinese and Indian parties.


  • Deputy prime minister, defence minister: Najib Razak
  • Finance minister: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
  • Foreign minister: Syed Hamid Albar

    MEDIA


    OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA

    Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world. The authorities exert substantial control over the media and restrictions may be imposed in the name of national security.

    The government is keen to insulate the largely-Muslim population from what it considers harmful foreign influences on TV. News is subject to censorship, entertainment shows and music videos regularly fall foul of the censors, and scenes featuring swearing and kissing are routinely removed from TV programmes and films.

    The TV sector comprises commercial networks and pay-TV operations. Around a quarter of TV households subscribe to the Astro multichannel service. A second pay-TV operator, MiTV, launched in 2005. TV3 is a leading national private, terrestrial broadcaster.

    State-owned Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) operates two channels and many of the country's radio services. Private stations are on the air, broadcasting in Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English.

    Newspapers must renew their publication licences annually, and the home minister can suspend or revoke publishing permits.

    Some web sites, such as Laman Reformasi, close to former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, freeMalaysia or Malaysiakini, have come in for official criticism.

    The press

  • New Straits Times - English-language daily
  • The Star - English-language daily
  • Business Times - English-language daily
  • The Malay Mail - English-language daily
  • Malaysiakini - English-language, online news service

    Television

  • Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) - state-run, operates TV1 and TV2 networks
  • TV3 - commercial network
  • ntv7 - commercial network

    Radio

  • Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) - state-run, operates some 30 radio stations across the country and external service Voice of Malaysia
  • Time Highway Radio - private Kuala Lumpur FM station
  • Era FM - private FM station

    News agency

  • Bernama - state-run
  • Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Isteri PM Endon Mahmood meninggal dunia

    KUALA LUMPUR 20 Okt - Isteri Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Datin Seri Endon Mahmood meninggal dunia di kediaman rasminya Seri Perdana di Putrajaya jam 7.55 pagi ini setelah beberapa tahun bertarung dengan kanser payu dara.

    Allahyarham Endon, 64, menghembus nafas terakhir kira-kira 18 hari selepas kembali daripada menjalani rawatan di Los Angeles, Amerika Syarikat.

    Allahyarham meninggalkan dua orang anak.

    Pejabat Perdana Menteri mengumumkan orang ramai boleh menziarahi jenazah Allahyarham untuk memberi penghormatan terakhir di Seri Perdana mulai jam 11 pagi melalui pintu utama kediaman rasmi itu.

    Jenazah Allahyarham kemudian akan dibawa ke Masjid Putrajaya untuk disembahyangkan pada waktu Asar, sebelum dikebumikan di Tanah Perkuburan Islam di Precint 20, Putrajaya.

    Abdullah bersama-sama dua anaknya, Kamaluddin dan Nori, menantu Azrene Abdullah dan Khairy Jamaluddin serta empat cucu, anak kepada Kamaluddin berada di sisi Allahyarham ketika beliau menghembus nafas terakhirnya.

    Ibu Allahyarham, Datin Mariam Abdullah juga berada di sisinya.

    Berita kematian Endon, ketika orang ramai hendak memulakan urusan harian, mengejutkan negara yang kemudiannya diselubungi dengan suasana duka cita.

    Cuaca di Lembah Klang, termasuk di Putrajaya mendung seolah-olah turut merasai pemergian beliau ke rahmatullah.

    Orang kenamaan, wakil-wakil negara asing mula menziarahi jenazah Allahyarham di Seri Perdana pada pukul 9.30 pagi.

    Antara yang tiba awal ialah Menteri Luar Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar yang kelihatan sibuk mengelolakan keadaan.

    Ratusan orang ramai juga berduyun-duyun tiba untuk memberi penghormatan terakhir mereka.

    Pegawai-pegawai kanan kerajaan termasuk ketua setiausaha dan ketua pengarah yang berpejabat di Putrajaya juga turut bergegas ke Seri Perdana.

    Orang ramai terdiri daripada pelbagai kaum semakin ramai tiba di Seri Perdana menjelang waktu menziarah pada pukul 11 pagi.

    Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dan isteri, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor tiba di Seri Perdana pada kira-kira pukul 10.30 pagi.

    Tidak lama kemudian Perdana Menteri keluar dengan berbaju Melayu biru serta bersampin bertemu dan bersalaman dengan para hadirin.

    Abdullah kelihatan tenang, walaupun mata berlinangan ketika didakap beberapa hadirin.

    Beliau kemudian dilihat berkata-kata dengan Najib dan juga Syed Hamid.

    Menurut seorang pembantunya, Abdullah kelihatan tenang menerima kematian Endon malah sebaik sahaja isterinya menghembuskan nafas terakhir, Perdana Menteri terus mengatur urusan mengendalikan jenazah. -

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Stopping Linux desktop adoption sabotage

    Rujukan menarik bagi peminat Sumber Perisian Terbuka (Open Source Software). Adakah syarikat Microsoft merupakan dalang di sebalik penyekatan kemajuan OSS ni??

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    Many IT professionals ask me when Linux will finally "make it" on the desktop. How will they know when Linux has made it? What's holding it back? In what ways is Microsoft working behind the scenes to inhibit the adoption of Linux desktops?

    John H. Terpstra

    For some time, I have pondered and researched these questions. Then, a recent experience lifted the clouds of uncertainty. In part one of this column, I'll relate a true story of two Linux desktop purchasers who ran into multiple roadblocks. Then, in part two, I'll analyze those problems and discuss how Microsoft and electronics manufacturers and retailers created them. Finally, in part three, I'll predict a future that could happen, one in which a monopoly leads the U.S. IT industry to second-class citizenship, and the opportunity that could change that scenario.

    Most people think that application availability drives adoption of a computing platform. While applications are very important, there are more factors at work, as the following story of two Linux newbies demonstrates.


    A recent adventure

    Recently, Joe purchased a new laptop computer. Because he had an older laptop that still functioned more or less adequately, he decided to purchase a machine that had Linux installed from the factory. He had heard that Linux does not suffer many of the problems with viruses, worms and malware, and his Norton AntiVirus subscription had expired, so there was nothing to lose in trying Linux.

    Joe figured that since Linux is free, the cost of a laptop computer pre-loaded with Linux would cost less than one that shipped with Microsoft Windows. Wrong! The cost estimates he came up with were between $300 and $500 more for a system with Linux than for one with Windows.

    Joe did a Google search to find Linux on laptop suppliers and obtained five price offers. Many Windows laptop specials offered a free bundled LCD monitor or a free bundled printer. No such offer was found for a Linux pre-loaded laptop.

    Although Joe could not understand why it should cost more to purchase a laptop that has no bundled licensed Windows operating system than one supplied with it, he decided that it made sense to purchase the lower-priced system and just junk the bundled Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

    After shopping around, Joe stumbled across a sweet deal and purchased an HP Pavilion dv1000 laptop. Joe's friend Dennis was with him that day and was suckered into ordering a customized HP zv6000 series laptop direct from HP.

    Both Joe and Dennis were determined to try Linux and agreed that if Linux is ready for the desktop, they were ready to climb onboard. Dennis' laptop arrived 10 days after Joe had gone home with his purchase.

    Joe installed SuSE Linux 10.0, while Dennis purchased SuSE Linux Professional 9.3. Dennis chose the 9.3 because he wanted the 64-bit support that was available with the AMD Athlon 64 CPU. At the time, a 64-bit version of SuSE Linux 10.0 was not yet available.

    Joe's installation of SuSE Linux 10.0 was an immediate success. The built-in PRO/Wireless 2200BG network card worked perfectly. Well, it had one little problem: If he pressed the built-in function key to turn off the wireless card, it would not restart without a reboot. Even so, the video card and LCD display operated at the full 1200x768 resolution. Another small problem occurred when Joe tried to use the built-in digital media slots. He found they did not work, but he figured that was a small sacrifice.

    Generally, Joe was impressed. His HP DeskJet printer worked the first time he plugged it in. SuSE Linux 10.0 instantly recognized the printer, asked him if he wanted to configure it, and in seconds he was able to print a test page.

    Dennis was not so fortunate. He has been unable to get X-Windows working. It seems that the video chip set is not supported in SuSE 9.3, and he has not been able to get the built-in Broadcom wireless card to function (not even with the ndiswrapper drivers).

    Needless to say, Dennis is not a happy camper. He will most likely reinstall Microsoft Windows XP Home from the recovery disk that came with the system. He feels forced to use Windows and believes Linux is simply not ready for prime-time use. He has seen a sad outcome to a project that started with great promise and expectation.


    The plot thickens

    Joe was so happy with his new Linux laptop that he decided it was time to install Linux on his old Windows laptop. This laptop has no built-in wireless card, so he purchased a Netgear RangeMax Wireless Router with a Netgear RangeMax wireless PC card.

    Joe's installation of SuSE Linux 10.0 on the old 15-inch Sony Vaio RPG600, 1.8 GHz P4 laptop was another flawless installation. The screen worked perfectly at 1600x1200 video resolution. Joe was delighted with his second Linux laptop.

    Unfortunately, Joe's story now takes a bad turn. The Netgear RangeMax wireless card could not be recognized by SuSE Linux 10.0. Joe called Netgear, which explained that the company does not support Linux. Joe was told that Netgear had no plan to provide Linux drivers for Netgear RangeMax wireless cards.

    After returning the Netgear wireless network card to the store, Joe purchased a Belkin Pre-N F5D8010 Notebook Network card. The new card was able to recognize that an Ethernet controller had been inserted into the computer, but it could not find a suitable driver. Joe then found out that Belkin does not support Linux and that no suitable driver is available.

    Joe did an Internet search, which revealed that Belkin's wireless card chip set is manufactured by Airgo Networks Inc. He found a link on the Airgo Networks Web site that offered hope. (You can see why by visiting AirgoNetworks.com.) Alas, this was a blind alley, because the General Public License Linux package only contains open source software (OSS) that Airgo Networks has modified and for which it has made the source code available.

    Joe felt that Airgo Networks should be commended for its honorable handling of OSS, but he still had no luck there. When he called the company, he found out that no Linux drivers will be available for the Airgo chip set until late 2005 or early 2006.

    Joe went back to the store to return another useless wireless card. Not one wireless card that was on the shelves at CompUSA or Best Buy listed Linux driver support, so Joe gave up. That's right: Not one wireless card currently sold at CompUSA and at Best Buy mentions that it is suitable for use with Linux.

    The good news is that there is one wireless card that does work with Linux. A friend gave Joe a Linksys Wireless-G Notebook adaptor V3.0 card that works perfectly in his Sony Vaio laptop with SuSE Linux 10.0.

    Digging deeper

    So Linux desktop computers cost more than Microsoft Windows PCs do, and it's hard to find devices and drivers for Linux. Is that such a big deal? Well, in this story of just two Linux PC buyers, such difficulties stopped one from using Linux and the other only succeeded by being very persistent. Multiply that by millions of PC users, and you have a big deal.

    Joe had to pay for Microsoft Windows when he had no desire to use it, because he would have paid more for a machine without it. Why should consumers suffer cost increases to use a free operating system? Why are governments around the world so silent on this matter? Isn't it time for the consumer to be better informed of the graft and corruption in the IT retail industry?

    There are layers upon layers of roadblocks being placed in the path of Linux. In the next installment, I name some of those participating in the blockade and how they're hurting consumers and businesses.


    The open source software (OSS) movement started as a result of dissatisfaction with the proprietary software world. It is a global initiative that is correcting a seriously broken system in which vendors are taking undue advantage of consumers and depriving the consumer of choice.

    Clearly, many players in the IT world have roles in blockading Linux. In part one of this column, I described the barriers placed before Linux adopters Joe and Dennis. Let's drill deeper and find the roots of this anti-Linux conspiracy.


    PCs for the rich only, thanks to IP laws

    The IT consumer market caters to a mere 10% of the global population. Unix and Linux are the only platforms that provide desktop support for many countries and languages that would otherwise not be able to use modern computing tools in the consumer's native language character set. Most consumer software available in the world today is suitable only for use in English-speaking parts of the world.

    So-called intellectual property (IP) protection keeps software in the English-only category. Proprietary licenses built on IP laws make it unprofitable to create software for minority language areas. In other words, there are some customers that the incumbent solution providers do not want.

    Non-proprietary, low-cost OSS could bridge the commercial chasm between profitable and unprofitable markets. To make this happen, however, the companies selling IT products to the masses worldwide need to support Linux and OSS. Also, the interoperability problems presented by proprietary devices, drivers and software need to be erased. Otherwise, every OSS user could face the problems that plagued Joe and Dennis.

    Who isn't onboard for widespread access to PCs & IT?

    Despite the illusionary problem of commercial viability for commercial software vendors, there is a deeper problem in the IT industry. It's apparent that the commercial IT retail market has no desire to provide real consumer choice. Let's look at the situation:

    • CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's Electronics and other major consumer electronics retailers do not offer Linux pre-loaded PCs for sale. These stores do sell some PCs that will work with Linux, if consumers download Linux themselves; they only sell PCs bundled with Microsoft and Apple operating systems.

      Stores could sell a lower cost desktop, or laptop, computer at a lower price and with higher margins, thus making it possible to attract a larger consumer base into the active market. Why are these retailers not interested in doing this?

      A desktop computer can be purchased for as little as $400. A laptop computer can be purchased at a price point below $550. Linux is free. Microsoft Windows, coupled with its bundled software, must cost at least $40 per machine. So, if Linux were to be pre-loaded, the retailer could offer the device at the same price and make an additional 5% to 10% gross margin.

      Obviously, there are forces at work in the IT industry that cause retailers to choose not to participate in being more profitable. These stores don't offer the consumer the choice of a desktop platform other than Microsoft Windows and Apple. Why?

    • The aforementioned stores don't carry peripheral hardware suitable for use with Linux. This forces the consumer who wishes to use Linux to shop elsewhere. Clearly, these stores have made a decision that they are not interested in having Linux users as customers. Why?
    • A few smart vendors offer limited support for Linux. Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM offer a very minor selection of laptop PCs, desktop systems and servers that are compatible with Linux.

      If companies really seek to attract the largest number of potential consumers, why are their practices so restrictive? What commercial arrangements have been made behind closed doors so as to keep Linux out of the public eye?

    • Server, PC and peripheral hardware vendors today introduce products that lack any form of Linux support, thereby delaying the availability of Linux drivers for these products. Linux developers have to rush to build drivers after major vendors' products are first shipped. This is a major deterrent to Linux adoption by users, as demonstrated by Dennis having to revert to using Microsoft Windows.

      How is it possible then for the consumer even to try Linux without significant added costs, and with radically limited choice of supported hardware?

    • A store manager of one of the major consumer electronics retailers told me that his store had received complaints from customers because it had sold a network card for which the Microsoft Windows driver had not been certified by Microsoft. When he contacted the peripheral hardware vendor/manufacturer in question, he was told that Microsoft certification for the driver would require a royalty payment to Microsoft. The royalty would add as much as to $10 to the cost of each unit sold.

      There are no certification or license fees for Linux drivers. Assuming that Microsoft does charge a royalty or any type of certification fee, why do vendors choose to pay for the privilege of providing a driver for Windows, when there are no such costs for a Linux driver?

    Linspire, take a bow

    Michael Robertson, CEO of Linspire, deserves public credit for his initiative over the past few years to make Linux pre-loaded laptops and desktop PCs available in the retail channel. Wal-Mart was among the first to sell Linspire-equipped systems to consumers. It would be unjust of me to criticize the IT retailers and OEMs, without giving credit where it is due.

    However, I am astounded that consumers know little about Linux, largely because they don't see Linux when they go shopping. It's not like Linux was born yesterday. Linux has a stable track record over 14 years, already accounts for up to 35% of the installed server operating system market and is ready for the desktop with many free desktop applications that outperform the Microsoft Windows platform equivalents. Linux makes it financially feasible for more people in the world to use modern computing tools.

    The fact that Linspire's Robertson has had to fight, and fight hard, to convince a few retailers to carry Linux pre-loaded PCs is clear evidence of the stranglehold Microsoft has on that channel. Major retailers are not interested in giving customers a less expensive, more reliable PC platform. They more interested in not damaging the relationship with Microsoft. This layer of the anti-Linux movement has wide repercussions, as I'll discuss in the concluding installment of this column.


    The open source software (OSS) initiative has already created a highly productive, globally supported alternative software platform. The choice of free applications for Linux is growing daily. Smart application software vendors are already reaping a financial reward from the sale of their applications. Companies that have not yet embraced OSS, by porting their application to Linux, are likely to go the way of the dinosaur.

    Software vendors are getting onboard. Hardware vendors are playing on the sidelines, and electronics retailers are out in the peanut gallery, still hogtied to Microsoft. Considering this situation, I think it is time for Open Hardware Manufacturing (OHM) and for the creation of a new global IT solutions retail infrastructure. Yet, I fear that U.S. players are still making enough money from their Microsoft connections that they feel comfortable with the status quo.

    It's a good possibility, however, that a new-styled OHM will emerge out of China, where labor costs are low, and the desire to forge ahead is stronger than it is today in America. I've heard rumblings that Chinese manufacturers might establish new retail operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia, resulting in even more of the U.S. domestic technology market being sacrificed to the scrap-heap of history. Consider this: China has already stolen the march on the U.S. textile industry.

    Will China use Linux to kick some U.S. butt?

    The question we must answer is this, "Will China be the hub of future IT innovation and consumerism?" If the answer is yes, Linux is the tool that is waiting for the right Chinese entrepreneur who has a vision for creating the future.

    I do see some inkling that U.S. players will play the Linux/OSS card and do it well. I'll wager a bet that Novell understands the dynamics of the market. Novell purchased SuSE, a major Linux development house. Recently, Novell released OpenSuSE, which means that the professional Linux desktop is now free. Novell sells a fully supported version, but the core product is freely available from OpenSuSE.org. This is a smart and timely move.

    If I understand Novell's strategy correctly and my anticipation of the market is correct, Novell is positioned for a meteoric rise. That success could come through local OHM regenerative growth. Or, Novell could even take advantage of the entry of Asian competitors, whose OSS/OHM- oriented consumer retail channel would make the advantages of OSS and Linux desktops famous.

    Widespread adoption of Linux desktops and OSS is going to happen. It's going to happen with or without the help of U.S. IT vendors and electronics retailers. Surely, there must be someone in North America with the entrepreneurship, the vision and the determination to take advantage of this opportunity before it is too late. I cannot believe that the current consumer IT retail industry is willing to fall on its sword without reconnecting with a profitable and loyal customer base. I wonder who will step forward.


    Users, IT pros: Speak out now

    Consumers and IT professionals, this is your call to action. If you want freedom of choice, please write to the managers of your local electronics stores, advising them that you want the choice of Linux on your next desktop or laptop computer purchase. Tell the store manager that if they refuse to be more consumer choice oriented, you will no longer purchase from them. Retail stores value consumer feedback. The few store managers I polled told me that no consumer had ever requested a Linux system, and until at least a dozen do, it does not make sense to offer such systems.

    Why should IT pros join this battle? Your users buy their PCs from retailers. If they're only familiar with Microsoft products, then you'll encounter great resistance to any effort bring the lower costs and greater reliability of Linux desktops to your company. Many of you have already fought and lost that battle … for the time being.

    You and I are consumers. We have the right and the responsibility to make our wishes known. If enough consumers speak up, retailers will jump to attention faster than you can imagine.

    Windows problems with viruses, worms and malware exist because consumers failed to tell Microsoft that they had had enough. Instead of making our dissatisfaction known to the company that could do most to solve the problem, we delighted in complaining to each other. Make your wishes known to your IT retailers now. Remember that your actions, when properly directed, can change the world.


    About the author: John H. Terpstra is chief technology officer of PrimaStasys Inc., an IT consulting firm, and a member of SearchOpenSource.com's Editorial Advisory Board. He is author of Samba-3 by Example: Practical Exercises to Successful Deployment, 2nd Edition and The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, 2nd Edition.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Kereta robot berjaya hadapi cabaran gurun


    SEBUAH kereta Volkswagen tanpa pemandu memenangi perlumbaan merentasi kawasan berliku-liku di kawasan gurun di Nevada yang menawarkan hadiah berjumlah AS$2 juta (RM7.54 juta), menewaskan empat lagi kenderaan kawalan robot.

    Perlumbaan kenderaan robotik tersebut ditaja oleh Pentagon dengan matlamat untuk menjadikan medan perang kawasan yang lebih selamat untuk orang ramai.

    Kereta Volkswagen Touareg yang diberi nama Stanley itu direka oleh para pelajar Universiti Stanford, berjaya menempuh perlumbaan sejauh 212.43 kilometer di Gurun Mojave dalam masa enam jam 53 minit Sabtu lalu dengan hanya menggunakan kepintaran buatannya sebagai pemandu merentasi kawasan gurun yang sangat mencabar.

    Saintis Komputer Universiti Stanford, Sebastian Thrun berkata, kereta tersebut bukanlah sekadar kenderaan biasa.

    ``Ia merupakan sejarah,'' kata beliau selepas menerima replika cek kemenangan.

    Thrun ternyata gembira dengan kemenangan itu tetapi tidak tahu bagaimana untuk membelanjakan wang tersebut.


    ``Saya mungkin akan membeli makanan kucing,'' kata beliau sambil bergurau.

    Universiti Stanford membelanjakan AS$500,000 (RM1.88 juta) untuk menyertai perlumbaan tersebut dengan sebahagian besar dana diperoleh daripada penaja mereka.

    Sebuah kereta Humvee merah dari Universiti Carnegie Mellon yang dinamakan Sandstorm, mendapat tempat kedua diikuti oleh sebuah Hummer yang bergelar Highlander.

    Tempat keempat jatuh kepada Kat-5 sebuah kereta Ford Escape Hybrid yang direka oleh para pelajar Metairie, Los Angeles yang kehilangan waktu persiapan selama seminggu akibat taufan Katrina yang melanda Amerika Syarikat.

    Kenderaan Humvee yang memenangi tempat kedua, menempuh perjalanan yang lebih jauh berbanding peserta lain tahun lepas walaupun turut menamatkan jarak wajib perlumbaan sejauh 12 kilometer tahun lepas.

    Terramax, sebuah trak seberat 16 tan merupakan kenderaan terakhir menamatkan perlumbaan Sabtu lalu meskipun gagal berada dalam jangka masa had perlumbaan iaitu 10 jam.

    Pentagon bagaimanapun masih tidak menyatakan dengan jelas bagaimana mereka akan menggunakan teknologi yang terdapat dalam perlumbaan ini untuk kegunaan ketenteraan.

    Menurut Thrun, beliau mahu mencipta sistem pemanduan yang lebih selamat untuk kereta generasi akan datang, bukan hanya untuk kegunaan ketenteraan.

    ``Jika ia sekadar untuk tujuan tentera, pasti saya tidak akan berada di sini,'' kata beliau.

    Thrun menambah, Volkswagen mahu menggunakan Stanley untuk tujuan promosi mereka sebelum kenderaan itu diletakkan di sebuah muzium di Jerman.

    Acara tersebut yang dipanggil ``The Grand Challenge'' menyaksikan 23 buah kereta mengambil bahagian tetapi 18 gagal menamatkan perlumbaan setelah mengalami kerosakan mekanikal atau menghadapi masalah dengan sistem komputer dan pengesan mereka.

    Menurut pihak penganjur, teknologi yang lebih baik selain pengetahuan mengenai keadaan perlumbaan menyebabkan terdapat lima kenderaan berjaya menamatkan perlumbaan kali ini berbanding tiada tahun lepas.

    Perlumbaan tahun ini menyaksikan kemajuan yang jauh lebih memberangsangkan berbanding tahun lepas apabila tidak ada kereta yang berjaya menamatkan cabaran itu.

    Sebelum perlumbaan Sabtu lalu, para peserta telah melakukan latihan untuk menyesuaikan diri dengan kawasan perlumbaan selain berusaha meningkatkan sistem kepintaran buatan dan pengesan di kereta masing-masing.

    Kereta-kereta yang menyertai perlumbaan ini dilengkapi dengan pelbagai alatan komputer dan pengesan yang akan memberikan maklumat kepada kereta dan para peserta.

    Komputer tersebut kemudiannya akan menentukan jenis-jenis halangan yang bakal ditempuhi, sama ada sesuatu permukaan itu terlalu dalam untuk direntasi atau tidak dan sebagainya.

    Kesemua kenderaan tersebut akan meredah laluan yang direka menyerupai permukaan di Iraq dan Afghanistan.

    Antara halangan yang ditempuhi oleh para peserta termasuklah tiupan angin dan tasik yang telah kering.

    Selain itu, terdapat juga terowong diperbuat daripada pokok yang direka khusus untuk menyebabkan Sistem Kedudukan Global (GPS) para peserta gagal berfungsi.

    Hanya lima kenderaan berjaya melalui kawasan curam pergunungan sepanjang 2.09 kilometer yang digelar ``Beer Bottle Pass'' yang terletak kira-kira 8 kilometer dari garisan penamat.

    Kawasan tersebut menyerupai keadaan bergunung-ganang di Afghanistan. Laluan yang boleh dilalui oleh para peserta hanya selebar 3 meter, malah terdapat gaung sedalam lebih 60 meter.

    Perlumbaan ini merupakan sebahagian daripada usaha pihak tentera yang mahu menjadikan satu per tiga daripada kenderaan tempur di darat dioperasikan tanpa pemandu dalam tempoh 20 tahun.

    Pada masa ini, terdapat sebilangan kecil kenderaan yang dioperasikan tanpa pemandu di Iraq dan Afghanistan tetapi mereka masih perlu dikawal oleh anggota tentera yang berada di dalam kumpulan konvoi yang sama.

    ###################################################################

    Kegagalan tentera AS di Afganistan dan Iraq memaksa mereka mencipta kenderaan baru tanpa pemandu. Agaknya dah terlampau ramai sangat rakyat AS yang mati sia-sia di sana. Apa nak jadi lahhh.....

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Minyak Iran musnahkan AS

    KHABAR angin sudah mula tersebar mengenai kemungkinan pelancaran Bursa Minyak Iran (IOB) menjadi pemangkin bagi satu tamparan hebat terhadap kedudukan dolar Amerika Syarikat.

    Iran semakin hampir untuk memulakan penetapan harga minyaknya dengan menggunakan mata wang euro. Ia dijangka menguntungkan semua pihak — kecuali Amerika Syarikat.

    Sekiranya Amerika tidak bertindak untuk campur tangan, langkah Iran itu sudah pasti akan mengukuhkan kedudukan euro dalam perdagangan minyak antarabangsa.

    Dolar Amerika Syarikat sejak lebih setengah abad lalu menjadi mata wang dunia paling kukuh dengan kira-kira 70 peratus simpanan mata wang dunia dibuat mengguna mata wang itu.

    Ini mungkin satu penjelasan yang logik mengapa republik Islam itu akan menjadi sasaran Amerika selepas Iraq.

    Ia berkait rapat dengan hakikat bahawa harga minyak, komoditi paling penting yang diniagakan di dunia, sebahagian besarnya ditetapkan dalam dolar Amerika. Kebanyakan negara yang mengimport minyak perlu membeli keperluan minyak mereka dalam dolar Amerika.

    Krisis hutang Amerika menjadikan ekonominya yang rapuh bergantung kepada permintaan tinggi terhadap matawangnya bagi memastikan ia kekal terapung.

    Kini, ada langkah yang akan diambil Iran — pengeluar minyak mentah kedua terbesar dunia dan negara yang dicop sebagai satu daripada paksi kejahatan oleh Presiden George W Bush — akan mengancam kedudukan dolar Amerika itu.

    Tehran baru-baru ini mengesahkan rancangannya untuk mewujudkan bursa perdagangan minyak berdasarkan euro bagi menyaingi bursa minyak yang dikuasai dolar di London dan New York, kedua-duanya milik Amerika.

    Jika ia berjaya, Bursa Minyak Iran (IOB) dijangka membuka peluang kepada euro bertapak dalam perdagangan minyak antarabangsa, lantas mengukuhkan statusnya sebagai mata wang pilihan dalam urusan jual-beli minyak.

    IOB akan memastikan minyak mentah, petrokimia dan komoditi lain yang berkaitan diniagakan dalam euro.

    Tetapi, persoalan di sini ialah matlamat Iran dalam bertindak demikian.

    Menurut ahli ekonomi, tindakan Iran ada wajarnya lebih-lebih lagi Kesatuan Eropah menjadi rakan perniagaan utama Iran. Ia juga akan menjadi tamparan hebat kepada musuh nombor satunya, Amerika. Dengan harapan untuk menjadikan Iran sebagai pusat perdagangan minyak, ia juga akan membolehkan republik Islam itu muncul sebagai negara berpengaruh di Asia Barat.

    George Perkovich, pakar mengenai Iran di Carnegie Endowment, Washington, menyifatkan tindakan negara itu sebagai ‘sebahagian daripada strategi pintar dan kreatif Iran untuk bertindak apa sahaja dan pada masa yang sama mendorong pihak lain menentang Amerika Syarikat.’

    Langkah ekonomi itu mungkin serangan pertama dan paling berkesan terhadap musuh utamanya.

    Menurut laporan yang disiarkan Asia Times baru-baru ini, ‘perniagaan minyak dalam euro akan menguntungkan berjuta-juta orang, baik di Kesatuan Eropah mahupun rakan perdagangannya. Ia juga akan melonggarkan cengkaman Amerika terhadap anggota Opec.’

    “Satu daripada mimpi ngeri Simpanan Persekutuan Amerika akan mula menjadi realiti pada 2006 apabila pembeli antarabangsa mempunyai pilihan untuk membeli minyak dalam dolar Amerika di New York dan London atau membelinya dalam mata wang euro menerusi bursa di Iran,” kata seorang lagi pakar ekonomi.

    Bursa Minyak Iran juga akan merancakkan lagi penukaran mata wang asing daripada dolar kepada euro.

    Langkah menukar kepada simpanan euro daripada dolar akan menjatuhkan nilai mata wang Amerika itu. Rakyat Amerika terpaksa berbelanja lebih banyak untuk barangan import. Apabila negara dan ahli perniagaan menukarkan simpanan dolar mereka kepada euro, pasaran dan hartanah Amerika pasti akan musnah.

    Menurut Global Politician, kesan penukaran mata wang simpanan itu akan menjadi bencana kepada Amerika Syarikat. Amerika akhirnya terpaksa berhenti mengimport.

    Jika Iran melancarkan IOBnya, dolar Amerika akan menjadi lemah dan euro bertambah kukuh — mempercepatkan lagi kejatuhan ekonomi Amerika.

    Beberapa ahli ekonomi juga menyuarakan keyakinan mengenai cita-cita Iran itu dengan berkata, kesan Bursa Minyak Iran itu terhadap dolar dan ekonomi Amerika adalah lebih dahsyat dibandingkan dengan serangan nuklear Iran.

    #################################################################
    Hebat dan bijaknya Iran dalam memerangi Amerika Syarikat(AS). Sekarang AS sedang berdepan 2 musuh ketatnya iaitu Iran dan China bukan menerusi peperangan berdarah, tapi peperangan ekonomi.

    Kenderaan tersimpan lama

    JANGKA masa penyimpanan motosikal selama 40 hari sebenarnya agak pendek berbanding di negara sejuk. Motosikal disimpan berbulan-bulan lamanya dan hanya ditunggang selama tiga bulan dalam setahun, iaitu sewaktu musim panas.

    Namun, kemungkinan terjadinya kerosakan tetap ada walaupun risikonya rendah. Sebaik-baiknya, tanggalkan terminal atau kepala bateri anda untuk melindungi bateri dari menyahcas (discharging) dan pastikan bateri dicas semula sebelum anda menggunakan kembali motosikal.

    Tutup motosikal dengan baik untuk mengelakkan serangga dariada bersarang di tempat yang tidak dikehendaki seperti kotak udara (airbok) dan pastikan tempat penyimpanan motosikal bebas dari gangguan tikus dan lipas yang mungkin berselera melihat jalinan wayar yang berwarna warni.

    Seeloknya tutup lubang ekzos dan lubang kotak udara untuk mengelakkan kelembapan udara dari masuk ke bahagian enjin.

    Mampatkan juga kebuk pembakaran dengan menekan penghidup tendang atau starter supaya piston berada di kedudukan paling teratas (top dead centre). Ini bertujuan melindung udara lembap daripada memasuki kebuk pembakaran dan menyebabkan karat.

    Punca enjin mengaum tetapi tidak bergerak lancar

    SETELAH beberapa tahun menggunakan kereta yang sama, anda mungkin berhadapan dengan situasi bahawa enjin tidak menghasilkan daya pecutan penuh. Keadaan sebegini biasanya mudah dirasai ketika mendaki bukit.

    Ada ketikanya anda berasa enjin kereta sudah mengaum tetapi kereta tidak meluncur laju. Selain disebabkan kerosakan dan kebocoran ekzos, mungkin ada masalah lain yang perlu diteliti.

    Malah, dalam keadaan biasa kereta dapat bergerak menaiki bukit dengan menggunakan gear ketiga. Tetapi, sejak kebelakangan ini pada gear ketiga kereta seolah-olah merangkak dan akhirnya terpaksa menukar kepada gear kedua dengan enjin yang mengaum kuat.

    Apabila berhadapan dengan masalah ini, antara puncanya ialah kerosakan pada sistem penyalaan, penyaluran petrol kurang tepat, enjin terlalu panas, kerosakan cekam (clutch), brek ketat atau tekanan enjin tidak cukup.

    Justeru, apabila berhadapan dengan keadaan itu pemeriksaan terhadap sebab-sebab dan pembaikan kecemasan sebegini boleh dilakukan:

  • Pertama; periksa sama ada saat penyalaan sudah tepat. Ini dilakukan dengan memeriksa palam pencucuh. Apabila nyalaan elektrik yang terjadi terlalu lemah atau tidak teratur, bukalah penutup pengagih dan periksalah suis-suis penutup arus.

  • Kedua; periksa sama ada sistem penyaluran petrol berada dalam keadaan baik. Apabila petrol yang mengalir ke dalam silinder tidak sesuai dengan yang diperlukan (terlalu banyak atau terlalu sedikit) keadaan itu boleh menyebabkan terjadinya campuran petrol dan udara yang kurang sempurna, sehingga keupayaan enjin akan berkurangan.

    Selain itu, perlu juga periksa sama ada penapis udara tersumbat oleh kotoran.

    Masalah enjin tidak menghasilkan daya penuh juga terjadi apabila enjin terlalu panas.

    Periksa juga adakah cekam rosak atau brek yang bergesel. Adakalanya enjin tidak mengeluarkan daya penuh bukanlah berpunca daripada masalah enjin itu sendiri.

    Cekam rosak atau brek yang bergesel menyebabkan keupayaan enjin tidak dapat disalurkan dengan baik sehingga menyebabkan gejala yang sama dengan keadaan enjin tidak mengeluarkan daya penuh.

    Masalah berkenaan sering menjadi kekeliruan utama kerana setiap kali enjin tidak mengeluarkan daya penuh, tumpuan diberikan kepada mencari masalah enjin, sedangkan dalam banyak keadaan, cekam atau brek yang bergesel menjadi puncanya.

    Seterusnya, enjin juga tidak mengeluarkan daya penuh apabila mampatan enjin tidak cukup tinggi. Biasanya kerosakan sebegini terjadi kepada enjin yang sudah tua atau gasket kepala selinder bocor. Masalah ini sering terjadi kepada kereta yang menggunakan suntikan terus dan selalu dipandu laju dalam perjalanan jauh. Bagaimanapun, gejala ini kurang menjadi kepada kenderaan yang berjalan kurang daripada 100,000 kilometer.
  • Cara sejukkan enjin kereta terlalu panas

    WALAUPUN enjin kereta anda dalam keadaan baik tetapi apabila kenderaan sedang mendaki bukit atau membawa muatan berlebihan, ia boleh menjadi panas. Namun, enjin boleh disejukkan kembali dengan menghentikan kenderaan dan mematikan enjin, membuka bonet dan selepas itu, jika perlu mengisi radiator dengan air sejuk.

    Enjin yang terlalu panas kerana terlalu lama dihidupkan setelah membuat perjalanan jauh juga boleh mengundang bahaya jika lewat bertindak kerana ia boleh menyebabkan kenderaan terbakar atau meletup. Apabila enjin terlalu panas, berhentilah di tepi jalan.

    Tapi ketika memandu, anda tentu bimbang jika penunjuk meter yang menentukan tahap kepanasan enjin menghampiri peringkat H (hot).

    Kepanasan enjin berpunca daripada pelbagai faktor termasuk kurang bekalan air dalam radiator, paip radiator tersumbat, kekotoran pada sirip radiator dan kerosakan pada termostat sistem penyejuk.

    Ekzos tersumbat

    SISTEM penyalaan kurang tepat, kerosakan pada sistem saluran petrol, ekzos tersumbat, masalah cekam, brek bergesel dan cara pengendalian kenderaan yang kurang baik turut menyebabkan enjin menjadi panas.

    Jika perkara ini berlaku, beberapa langkah pertama boleh dibuat. Mula-mula buka bonet kenderaan untuk menyejukkan enjin sementara waktu dan periksa salah satu daripada punca yang dinyatakan tadi.

    Periksa radiator kenderaan untuk memastikan tidak berlaku kebocoran di bahagian itu.

    Selepas itu periksa tali kipas. Sekiranya ada kebocoran pada radiator atau tali kipas terputus, matikan enjin. Jika tiada kebocoran pada radiator dan tali kipas masih elok, hidupkan enjin kenderaan dan jalankan seketika pada putaran yang lebih tinggi daripada biasa.

    Langkah itu adalah untuk membolehkan udara mengalir melalui sirip-sirip radiator dengan jumlah yang banyak. Air dalam radiator itu akan menjadi sejuk dan pam air akan bekerja lebih cepat sehingga air penyejuk dapat dialirkan dengan lebih baik.

    Hati-hati buka radiator

    TIDAK lama selepas itu suhu enjin akan menurun. Kemudian turunkan putaran enjin tadi dan buka penutup radiator. Penutup itu perlu dibuka secara berhati-hati untuk mengelakkan bahaya semburan air dan wap panas yang keluar daripada radiator.

    Isikan air ke dalam radiator secara perlahan sementara enjin masih dalam keadaan biasa dan matikan enjin sekiranya sudah menjadi sejuk. Sekiranya air terlalu sedikit dalam radiator, ia akan menyebabkan enjin menjadi panas dan wap akan keluar daripada radiator berkenaan.

    Dalam keadaan itu, matikan enjin dengan segera dan periksa radiator.

    Buka tutup radiator dan ketukkannya menggunakan belakang pemutar skru dan putar perlahan menggunakan kain.

    Pegang tutup dengan kemas sehingga wap dalam radiator mengalir keluar dan tekanan dalam radiator menjadi rendah. Selepas itu barulah penutupnya dilepaskan.

    Sekiranya, ada kebocoran pada radiator terutama pada bahagian sambungan atau saluran paipnya, hidupkan enjin pada putaran yang lebih tinggi daripada biasa serta periksa tempat sambungan itu.

    Keadaan itu penting kerana ada sesetengah kebocoran tidak dapat dilihat pada putaran enjin yang rendah. Sekiranya ada kebocoran, ketatkan skru pengikat dan jika gelung pengikat rosak, gunakan kawat sebagai ganti.

    Jika ada kebocoran, balut bahagian rosak dengan pita pelekat dan perkuatkan dengan kawat sebelum kenderaan dibawa ke bengkel.

    Paip radiator tersumbat

    HARUS diingat, paip radiator yang tersumbat berpunca daripada kerak atau karat akan mengganggu kitaran air atau menyebabkannya terhenti walaupun ada banyak air.

    Untuk membaikinya, buka pili air pada blok enjin sehingga air penyejuk dapat dikeluarkan. Buka tutup radiator dan cuci dengan air bersih untuk mengeluarkan kerak atau karat itu.

    Kekotoran pada sirip radiator disebabkan daun kering, serangga atau lumpur akan menyebabkan aliran udara penyejuk terganggu hingga air menjadi panas.

    Kekotoran pada permukaan itu boleh dibersihkan dengan menggunakan udara tekanan tinggi atau menyemburnya menggunakan air. Kekeliruan pada langkah pengendalian kenderaan turut menyebabkan enjin kenderaan menjadi panas.

    Penyerap hentak rosak boleh sebabkan kemalangan

    KETIKA memandu, pernahkah anda mengalami kereta melantun terlalu kuat apabila termasuk ke dalam lubang atau bonggol jalan? Kereta akan terasa melantun-lantun lebih daripada sekali sebelum kembali ke posisi asal.

    Ada ketikanya kereta terasa membuai-buai dan sukar dikawal pada kelajuan tinggi di lebuh raya. Pemandu akan sering membetulkan posisi stereng ketika sedang mengambil selekoh.

    Situasi ini ada kaitan dengan penyerap hentak atau shock absorber. Apa yang pasti ia adalah adalah salah satu komponen terpenting kenderaan yang membabitkan keselamatan dan keselesaan memandu.

    Penyerap hentak yang rosak boleh menyebabkan kerosakan lain pada kenderaan dan di dalam kes yang lebih serius, mampu menyebabkan kemalangan. Pada kelajuan tinggi, kereta akan terasa bergerak tidak lurus dan anda terpaksa membetulkan kedudukan stereng terlalu kerap (over-correct). Kereta juga akan terasa seperti "terapung" di atas lebuh raya. Ini bermakna penyerap hentak telah rosak dan perlu diganti dengan segera.

    Cara mengenal pasti kerosakan penyerap hentak kereta anda.

    i) Tekan dengan kuat pada setiap sudut yang mempunyai penyerap hentak dan lepaskan. Jika ia tidak kembali ke kedudukan asal ataupun ia tidak turun sewaktu ditekan, ini bermakna penyerap hentak telah menjadi terlalu keras atau telah tersekat akibat tiada atau sedikit sangat pergerakan pada piston rod didalam penyerap hentak. Anda dinasihatkan untuk mengganti penyerap hentak baru.

    ii) Anda juga boleh membuat pemeriksaan secara visual pada penyerap hentak kereta anda. Anda boleh perhatikan sebarang kebocoran dari atas penyerap hentak sehinggalah ke tapak pegas. Jika anda gunakan penyerap hentak gas, ia masih mengeluarkan minyak jika bocor oleh kerana penyerap hentak jenis ini menggunakan minyak sebagai pelincir.

    Penting bagi anda untuk membezakan lelehan minyak dengan wap gas yang mengumpul habuk pada penyerap hentak kerana kes kedua tersebut adalah normal dan ia bukannya tanda kerosakan

    penyerap hentak. Jika anda kurang pasti, anda boleh menghantar kereta anda ke bengkel kereta

    untuk pemeriksaan. Jika terbukti penyerap hentak anda telah bocor, maka perlu tukar denganpenyerap hentak baru.

    iii Tayar anda kelihatan tidak rata dan berbukit-bukit. Ini membuktikan bahawa tayar kereta andamendapat sentuhan pada jalanraya dengan tidak sekata. Ini juga bermakna bahawa penyeraphentak kereta anda mempunyai sistem penyerap hentak (damper) telah gagal menolak ataumenampung sentuhan tayar(contact-patch) secara sekata. Anda dinasihatkan untuk menukarpenyerap hentak kereta anda dan mengantikan tayar yang terlibat.

    Rujukan: http://www.bharian.com.my............