Monday, January 26, 2015

Inflation is down 0.2%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2014:
January: 1.4%
February: 0.4%
March: 1.2%
April: 2.5%
May: 2.7%
June: 1.8% 
July: 1.2%
August: 0.9%
September: 0.6%
October: 0.1%
November: -0.3%
December: -0.2%

Both Food and Education & Stationery inflation again rose by 2.9% and 2.8% respectively year on year, similar to the previous month. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by 4.1%, slightly lesser in comparison to last month. Housing inflation has also dropped 1.4%, slightly more compared to last year.

Food inflation remained high, with almost all the food prices rising compared to last month. Prepared meals have been rising by 3% as compared to last month and 2.9% as compared to last year. Judging from what I see on the ground, inflation will continue to trend upwards for food prices.

From a year on year perspective, inflation only rose 1% as compared to year 2013, as mentioned in my last post. Moving forward, inflation numbers will trend lower but it will not be obvious to us due to the rise of food prices. The downward oil price will be a relief as our electricity bill has already went down for the next quarter.

Looks like based on numbers, year 2015 inflation will not be that high, but I do not see it going towards deflation, no thanks to the hike in transport price which was approved recently. :(

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The future is always unknown

I quote from Lailah Gifty Akita:
The future is always unknown. Live your own life. Live in the moment. Live so well in the present, so that when tomorrow never comes, you may have no regrets.

Don't presume you know what will happen if you have not done it before. What you presume is only based on assumptions and may not happen. Only by doing it will you be able to truly shape your future.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Those with EP are paid higher but it does not resolve the locals salaries issue

Rising the qualifying salary of those with EP passes were made law with one very big assumption... Rising the salary of the foreign workers will result with locals having the same qualifications getting the same rise in salary. However, this may not be true.

The reason is very simple. Just look at the news. There are so many instances where Singaporeans were fired and foreigners were hired to take their place. Where is the law that helps prevents deserving Singaporeans who are doing a good job from being replaced by a foreigner?

Raising the qualifying salary without looking at the other parts of the law to protect Singaporeans do not resolve the problem and only helps to reinforce the impression that Singapore is favouring foreigners.

However, that doesn't mean that the law should protect undeserving Singaporeans. Yes, do not forget that we also have black sheeps amongst ourselves that would do the least work but expect to get same or more benefits than others who did much more.

Using EP to control the number of foreigners in Singapore is not effective at all, and only serves to bring about more cases such as those appearing in the newspapers lately. How to resolve this issue?

Look at Big Data...

You have data from MoM on the employees and employers and the nationality
You have data from CPF on the estimated gross salary paid

With this 2 sets of data, it's pretty easy to get clues on what is happening within the company and how the passes are being used

You do not need another set of law to do it. It's all there.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Actions speak louder than words

I quote from T.F. Hodge:
Both friend and enemy reside within us. One lives by the rule of compassion, the other by the rule of hard knocks. Though potential influence of either extreme is inevitable, our actions bear witness to the one we embrace. 
Yes, it has always been the case. Actions speak louder than words.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Taxi service standards set but ...

The time taken to hail a taxi in Singapore has improved since the taxi service standards have been set. Sometimes we still can't get taxis during peak periods but it has improved. However, it does seem that there are unintentional victims due to this service standard. The taxi drivers...

Yes, I understand that the minimum distance of 250km a day is to ensure that the taxis are fully utilised and that taxi companies do not indiscriminately buy more taxis causing more congestion on the roads when they are not utilised fully. However, somebody seems to have forgotten that that's the job of the COE, not the taxi service standard.

Just by the term taxi service standard... In what way does driving a minimum distance of 250km raise standards? The facts. It doesn't. In fact, it forces taxi drivers to regularly ply the roads, regardless if there are passengers or not, and releasing more carbon monoxide pollution in the air.

Do not forget too that Singapore is only 50 km from the east to the west, and 26 km from the north to the south. It is also not very often that you get customers from Pasir Ris wanting to travel to Tuas.

Guess what? Taxi drivers wanting to meet this service standard may instead travel all the way to Changi Airport waiting to pick up tourists that hopefully will go to some hotel in the east so that they could meet the standard. Doesn't this worsen the situation?

The minimum distance of 250km does help in keeping taxis on the roads but it is unfairly putting the burden on our taxi drivers, where most if not all are true blue Singaporeans trying to earn a living.

If we're talking about taxi service standards, I believe customers are only looking for taxi drivers that do not pick their passengers, drive around with an empty cab but with a busy sign on, and able to get a taxi when we try to book one, regardless of which taxi companies answer the booking.

The 250km minimum distance is no where in the customers wish list. In fact, all those who takes taxis regularly should know what are the bug bears. So how did this 250km standard come about?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Don't always be appraising yourself

I quote from Brenda Ueland:
Don't always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers. "I will not Reason and Compare," said Blake; "my business is to Create." Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Battle Camp has evolved into a money spinner

I have been playing Battle Camp for some time and sad to say, it has been evolving to a state where money is everything and game play is not important.

Why do I say that? Initially, battle camp was a lot on strategy. How do you combine different elements and different zodiacs to get different attack strategies. The zodiacs are random but pretty much you could get your first super quite easily.

Now? It has evolved tremendously to favour those who spends and to kick out those that don't, judging by the number of mentees (ie low level newbies) who left the game after 1 week of playing.

The facts:
  1. Previously you can pretty much get a Super if you work hard enough at the raids.

    Now, you dont get any supers regardless if it is a normal raid or hall raids.
  2. Previously you are encouraged to get different mobs as the bosses have different elements and attack differently. Different elements may get different reactions so its to your advantage to get different mobs of the same zodiac.

    Now, you have something stupid called TvT which doesnt have any of this abilities and can pretty much let anyone use less effort and get 5x more trophies than hitting the actual boss.
  3. Previously, the chance of you get a pretty decent monster from the spins at the store is quite ok. I got my ultras and epics from there.

    Now, you either get rares or specials.

What happens when you "feedback" to them? For point 2, they say that they will feedback to their team which they basically did nothing. For points 1 and 3, they blame it on chance and there is nothing they could do about it.

Seriously... Chance? Again, the facts. If it is really a game of chance, I won't be seeing the spins dropping at the exact same spot 5 out of 10 times. To me, in technical terms, it looks a lot like something called a weighted chance.

The concept of weighted chance is simple. You assign a certain weightage to all the items so some will get hit more often than others. It doesnt matter how many times you see an item being repeated because the weightage will overwrite it. Therefore personally, to me, the reply they gave is **.

What they can do to fix it? Very simple changes.
  1. Fix the chance issue for the raids and spins and give everyone a fair chance in getting their mobs. Getting the zodiacs aligned is already hard enough. Don't push it.
  2. Fix the TvT by limiting its effectiveness. If you really want the game to be balanced, limit the TvT to 5 energy per hit and boosters have no effect. Otherwise, you will get more trophies hitting just only TvT than hitting the boss. This will also give a fair chance to those who cannot hit the boss to get some trophies.
     
  3.  Stop changing rules halfway through the game. If you really want to inject an element of uncertainty, just do ONE change and that's it. Don't keep changing it as it gives an impression that you just want people to spend.

Seriously battle camp creators, do you think so many people are spending for the event? Just look at the hacks available for battle camp for Android. Sooner or later, your loyal players will leave.

Friday, December 26, 2014

How I respond defines my character

I quote from Walter Anderson:
Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Inflation is down 0.3%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2014:
January: 1.4%
February: 0.4%
March: 1.2%
April: 2.5%
May: 2.7%
June: 1.8% 
July: 1.2%
August: 0.9%
September: 0.6%
October: 0.1%
November: -0.3%

Both Food and Education & Stationery inflation again rose by 2.9% and 2.7% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by an amazing 5.3% in comparison to last month which was more than expected. Housing inflation has also dropped 1.2%. The transport inflation is the only reason why inflation went negative I believe.

Food inflation remained high, with almost all the food prices rising compared to last month. In fact, I believed due to the food inflation, the average inflation seems to be stubbornly stuck to 1.1% even though the transport and housing inflation was going down.

Unless there is a huge downward change in the housing and transport inflation, this year's inflation will most probably not go below 1%.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What is benign dictatorship?

Recently I heard this term "benign dictatorship" and I was wondering what does it mean. Apparently it was mentioned a long time ago about someone talking about the Canadian government. In case you're interested, let me quote from Harper and Flanagan which was back in 2011 if I am not wrong. It is quite self explanatory.
Although we like to think of ourselves as living in a mature democracy, we live, instead, in something little better than a benign dictatorship, not under a strict one-party rule, but under a one-party-plus system beset by the factionalism, regionalism and cronyism that accompany any such system. Our parliamentary government creates a concentrated power structure out of step with other aspects of society. For Canadian democracy to mature, Canadian citizens must face these facts, as citizens in other countries have, and update our political structures to reflect the diverse political aspirations of our diverse communities.

...

We are conservatives, and it is not our place to speculate at length about what the left could or should do. Yet voters on the left are as much entitled as voters on the right to effective elected representation. Electoral reform might well revive the left. It could, for example, lead to cooperation between the NDP and the left-leaning wing of the Liberals, perhaps producing a national social democratic vehicle with a genuine chance of governing, or at least participating in a coalition cabinet.

Of course, none of this can be foretold in detail; political change always produces unexpected and surprising consequences. But we believe there is good reason to think seriously along these lines. In today's democratic societies, organizations share power. Corporations, churches, universities, hospitals, even public sector bureaucracies make decisions through consultation, committees and consensus-building techniques. Only in politics do we still entrust power to a single faction expected to prevail every time over the opposition by sheer force of numbers. Even more anachronistically, we persist in structuring the governing team like a military regiment under a single commander with almost total power to appoint, discipline and expel subordinates.

Among major democracies, only Great Britain so ruthlessly concentrates power. In the United States, President Clinton cannot govern without making concessions to the Republicans in Congress. In Germany, Chancellor Kohl needs to keep the support not only of the CSU but of the Free Democrats. In France, the presidency and the national assembly are often controlled by different party coalitions. In most of the rest of Europe, proportional representation ensures that coalition governments routinely form cabinets. In Australia, the Liberal prime minister needs the National Party for a majority in the House of Representatives and, often, the support of additional parties to get legislation through the Senate. In New Zealand, which used to have a Canadian-style system of concentrated power, the voters rebelled against alternating Labour party and National party dictatorships: electoral reform now ensures coalition cabinets.

Many of Canada's problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country. The political system still reverberates from shock waves from Pierre Trudeau's imposition of the National Energy Program upon the West and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon Quebec. Modernizing Canadian politics would not only be good for conservatism, it might be the key to Canada's survival as a nation.

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