Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sapporo Snowmobile

It started snowing in earnest when I was at Hokkaido during my Hokkaido 8day tour. JC, our tour guide, suggested that if we wish to, he can bring us to the Sapporo Snowmobile instead of the ice-cream factory visit. We all agreed that the snowmobile is more interesting than the ice-cream factory visit, even though we need to pay this ourselves. I never imagined that it could be so much fun. :p

The above picture is the reception of the Sapporo Snowmobile. Rental of one seater snowmobile will cost about 10,000 yen. Rental of a double seater snowmobile is 15,000 yen. They actually ban girls from driving the double-seater snowmobile. Girls can ride the single ones, but the instructors there are afraid the girls will not have enough strength to handle the double-seater. You need at least one guy in-order to rent the double-seater. According to the tour guide, we have about an hour to "play" with the snowmobile. The instructors there will teach us how to operate it. There was a family who didn't join us so they went to walk around the area, and started building snowman. :D

Pay the rental, grab a helmet and a pair of gloves, and you're ready to go. Note that you must dress warmly for this occasion. Even with the gloves provided by them, my hands were practically freezing. I believe the temperature up there was close to -8 degrees that day.

The above are the snowmobiles I rode on. The ones in front are the one-seater snowmobile. The bigger one behind is the double-seater. Before we started, the instructors briefed us on some ground rules like no overtaking, keeping a safe distance, using the brakes, etc. One of the instructions was that no taking photos when you're driving the snowmobile. Oh well... :p The instructors all speak Japanese only. I can understand a bit, but luckily, our friendly tour guide was there to translate for us. After that, we were ready to go.

We were warned that we have to press the accelerator gently but one thing they never did warn us was that the engine takes some time to rev up. The trick is to press the accelerator until you feel your snowmobile move slightly. After that, just keep the same pressure. It will move off. If you increase the pressure, your snowmobile will lurch forwards. That's what happened to me. :p

We started off at a big field where we started to go about in circles. Turning left is harder for the double-seater snowmobile. Just needed some time to get used to it. We started turning quite a few rounds. The instructor snowmobile was in front and all we had to do was follow him. Suddenly, he veered off the circles we were going and started going up the mountain. I had no idea that the trip includes going up the mountains. It's hard to describe the fun I had going up the mountain. We also did some speeding across a stretch of flat land. Shiok...

The above picture was taken at one of the stops we had. Some of us in the tour group also started throwing snowballs at each other. :p We stopped at some places to take photos, and rest.

By the time we came down, the sun was shining once again. It was snowing slightly when we started. The experience is something that I will remember. In fact, I would say its the most memorable event for me for this tour. Its really money well-spent.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

The Carrot Seed

A little boy planted a carrot seed.

His mother said, "I'm afraid it won't come up."

His father said, "I'm afraid it won't come up."

And his brother said, "It won't come up."

Everyday the little boy pulled up the weeds around the seed and sprinkled the ground with water.

But nothing came up.

And nothing came up.

Everyone kept saying it wouldn't come up.

But he still pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water.

And then, one day, a carrot came up.

Just as the little boy had known it would.

And that was a story called "The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Success in Life

I quote from the Slice of Life:

Will power is the courage to make a certain decision, and stick to it, regardless of any internal or external opposition or difficulties. It is the ability to carry a chosen task from conceptualisation to fruition regardless of how uncomfortable, painful or unnerving it might be.

Self-discipline involves rejecting or postponing a short-term gratification in favour of something more beneficial in the long run. It is the strength to stick to certain thoughts, actions and behaviour that lead to the betterment of the self in some way - physically, mentally, academically or spiritually.

Will power and Self-discipline. This is the 2 most important ingredient to be successful in life. Anyone can do it. Its more of a question of whether are you willing to recognise that the only main hindrance is you yourself. You must always do a task from start to finish. Never do things halfway.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Creating temporary network drives in command prompt

There might be some instances where you will need to connect to a network drive by using the command prompt, especially in some cases where you're troubleshooting some problems. There's actually a way to do it in Windows.
  1. Goto Command Prompt (WinKey+R > cmd)
  2. Type pushd \\computername\network folder

That's all to it. A temporary drive will be created for that command prompt session that will enable you access to the network folder. For me, I tend to think that copying files using this method is slightly faster than using Windows Explorer. Or maybe it's just me. :D

Hope this helps...

Genus 2008

Details of our ticketed annual concert, a performance by the NUS Guitar Ensemble, member of NUS Centre For the Arts. Featuring Libertango, a fiery tango dance that became the theme song for the movie The Tango Lesson, and Cadiz, a piece dedicated to the spanish city Cadiz. Conducted by Dr Robert Casteels.

Date: 23rd Feb 2008, 8pm
Location: University Cultural Centre Hall (NUS)
Price: $11, $9 (Different tier seats, excluding gatecrash $1 booking fee)

You're able to get tickets from , hotline 6222 5595, Singpost branches and SAM kiosks.

General Sales discounts:
  • NUS Students - 15% off all categories
  • NUS Staff and Alumni - 10% off all categories

Expose will be playing the following:
  • The Incredibles
  • FF7 Medley

Stress time is here again. :p Here I go again...
You can see a video from this post.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shopping at Hokkaido

Updated 10 Aug 2009: Link to Hokkaido accommodation in-case if DIY

I will just dedicate one post on shopping at Hokkaido during my Hokkaido 8day tour. :D

My impression of Hokkaido shopping is food, food and more food. Basically, every place of interest that you go to, like Noboribetsu and Bear Ranch, there would be specially created chocolates or snacks that is specific to the area you're in (e.g. Bear shape snacks in Bear Ranch). However, there is one place in Hokkaido that I went that you can get relatively cheap normal shopping stuff. By that I mean bags, clothings, Yukata, etc. That is at a place called Li Xiao Lu.

There are 8 streets altogether. The picture above shows the 2nd street. They are all linked by covered walkways. Basically, the more interesting streets are the 3rd street and 4th street. The things here are quite cheap. I know someone in my tour group who bought shoes in a place called ABC Mart. You can check it out there. There's also a Daiso near the area where I took the above picture. If I remember correctly, there are 7 floors. The Daiso there is also known as the 100 yen shop. However, take note if there is any price tag. Not everything in Daiso is 100 yen.

There are 2 things that you must get in Hokkaido. That is the Squid Rice and Yubari Melon, which is unique to Hokkaido.

Squid Rice

According to the instructions, you just need to put in boiling water for 15mins, and its ready to eat. There is rice inside the squid. So far, I've not tasted it yet but I heard that its quite good. Another way to cook this is to microwave it, according to the tour guide. However, note that if you have stopped at any pitstop, the squid rice sold there is relatively cheaper by about a 100 yen.

Yubari Melon Chocolate

Hokkaido is suppose to be famous for its Yubari Melon. This particular chocolate is a Yubari Melon white chocolate. Everyone, including me, agree that its very good.

One thing about Japan is that the prices are relatively similar in any place you go to. At most the price differ by about 100-200 yen, but so far, most of the prices are the same for the same product, regardless of whether its a shophouse at the back, or a shop facing the main road.

Hokkaido is also a place where the White Lover Chocolate is made. The place is called Ishiya, also known as the White Lover Chocolate Museum. They produce the chocolates here.

The whole place looks like a castle. If I'm not wrong, there is a shop at the bottom left hand side of the picture that sells the chocolate.I did not go there because I was too busy taking pictures of the area. However, according to the tour guide, only 900 boxes of chocolates are sold there every day.

There are actually many side attractions surrounding this place. The tour group is suppose to go in but when we arrive there, the factory has been shut down because they sold chocolates that were expired. It was due open after we left Hokkaido. Oh well...

We have also been to a place called Otaru that sells very nice music boxes.

The above is the picture of the place that sells all kinds of music boxes. You can even make your own music box, with your choice of the music. The music includes songs by many popular Japanese singers (e.g. SMAP) Very cute place.

The picture above is one of the unique music boxes you can see in the shop. The color changes every minute I think. So far, I've not seen such music boxes anywhere before. Quite unique. The ice-cream at Otaru is not bad too. 5 tier ice-cream. :D Now I know why people eat ice-cream in winter. Shiokkk...

Hokkaido is also famous for its seafood. You can actually order crabs and bring it back to Singapore. I know because some people in the tour group actually brought back crab pincers to Singapore. Here's a picture of the seafood market we went to.

This seafood market is just below the restaurant. Basically we can order the sashimi, crabs, lobsters and oysters and they will cook it at the restaurant for you to eat.

All in all, shopping in Hokkaido is mainly fooooooooood!! :D Alot of crabs and scallops in our meals for the tour. You can refer to my previous post about food here. If you really want to try, you can try the Alaska crab, and Abalone in Hokkaido (pay yourself). They are suppose to be very good, and big. :D

Hokkaido is quite a fun place to go to, and I do not mind going there again on a more flexible schedule that is. Have been keeping an eye out for DIY hotels booking and I came across this Hokkaido Accommodation website that is quite user friendly, and comes with user reviews too. You can find out more information there.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Proposed MRT Lines

For those who are interested in the future of our MRT, I have gotten a map of the proposed MRT lines from Citigroup. Quite interesting to see how the roads are linked up. However, whether is it a reality I have no idea. :) (Click on the image for a bigger map)

Based on the map, it does seem that most towns will be linked to the rail. My idea of an ideal transport system would be all the major town centers are linked by MRT, and all town centers MRT stations double up as bus terminals. Buses will service the town area with no more than 8mins of waiting time. If something goes wrong with the MRT, buses can be deployed to ferry passengers between bus terminals, which is also a MRT station.

This is my ideal transport system, and it should connect the whole of Singapore. However, this would require a radical change to the current setup now. Oh well... It doesn't hurt to dream.

For some reason when I look at the map, I see similarities between the Japan JR line and this map. Hmmm...

Open to possibilities

I quote from the Slice of Life:

When we're open to possibilities, we see further and are more inclined to take risks. Risks that may not always yield the results we want, but which create more paths towards our goals. You're only a failure if you stop trying. Because opportunities for success are limitless - when one doesn't pay off the way you imagined, there's always the next, and the next. One of them will be the one to catapult you forward, and it could just be the next one.

Being open means that you have to stand confident in the realm of possibilities - no matter the competition and no matter your fear. If your entire focus is on what your competitors are doing, your attitude will be passed on to your employees, and, ultimately, your clients. But if you focus on what you do best and how to better satisfy your clients and engage with them in new and powerful ways, your results will be quite different!

I guess we're always well tuned to stay within our comfort zone. It's natural instinct I guess. However, when working towards somethings that are not "conventional", very often we find things that we'll never notice if we did not take that path.

The hardest part I guess is always the first step. Once the first step is taken, do not look back and just try your best to reach the goal. Failure is the mother of success. Most important is to recognise your goal and work towards it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hokkaido Food!!

Updated 3 Feb 2008: Shabu shabu! :D

I have taken most of the photos where I had set breakfast, lunch or dinner for the Hokkaido 8day tour. In general, if you wish to eat a full meal (for a guy at least), you'll need to prepare at least 500 yen to 1000 yen average. I average around 700-800 yen for an average meal. Luckily I only had 4 meals where I had to pay myself. :p

Note that in general, Japanese seems to like pork and beef. I rarely see anything with chicken. :p

Feeling hungry?? Well, after looking at these photos, you might be. :D

Yummy lunch where we also had steamed crab.

Shop at Ramen street. Ate Wanton Ramen for about 800 yen, and fried dumpling for about 400 yen.

Shabu shabu! Look at the pork and beef. :)

Set Breakfast. :)

Set Lunch. The Udon was originally in the basket. You can add chilli powder into the "steamboat". The covered box on the left contains rice and scallop.

Set Dinner... The rice is brown fried rice with scallop.

Seafood lunch set. The hairy crab is in the pot. :)

The hairy crab is out of the pot. :)

Set Lunch. The pork is on top, and all the vegetables are below it. Just take all the vegetables and push it on top of the pork. The pork will cook better in this way. You're suppose to take the pork, dip it into the egg, and eat it. Japanese way. :)

Set Dinner. :)

Set Breakfast. The bowl in front is porridge. :)

This is a half eaten dinner from Akihabara. Indian food. Cost about a 1000 yen. Very filling. Look at the Naan. It comes with a salad which was already finished. :)

food. Cost about 700 yen. The pancake is suppose to be Korean pancake. This lunch however, is more japanese than korean, taste wise. :)

Back from Hokkaido!

Updated 27 Jan 2008: Batteries

Just came back from the 8 days Hokkaido tour. It has been a long time since I had so much fun. Joined the tour group organised by Hong Thai Travel. I have to say that out of the tours I went in my memory, Hong Thai Travel so far has been the best. The guide, J.C., has been quite informative and very friendly. In every place, he explained the culture, and history of the area, which was what I was looking for. When we had time, he squeezed in some extra stuff not from the itinerary. These extra stuff of course you have to pay, but its well worth it. The extra stuff is based on group consensus. You can don't join in if you don't wish to. The tour group was also quite good, and we're mostly on time. :p

If you forgot to do your shopping (which is near impossible), Hong Thai allows you to order selective snacks and tidbits near the end of the Hokkaido tour. The snacks are generally quite good. However, if you ever stop at those pitstops for toilet breaks, take a look at the food they sell there. Its generally cheaper there. :) The pace of the tour was surprisingly quite okay. I don't feel the urgency associated with my previous tours experience.

The highest temperature in South-West Hokkaido was -2 degrees. Lowest we went should be around -10 degrees, when we were up in the mountains playing with the snow mobiles. :D Boy was that fun... I would be posting some of the interesting parts of the Hokkaido trip.

Just some things to take note before you go to a cold country:
  1. Thermal wear is a must! I had a good winter coat from G2000 (Down coat) so I did not need to wear my thermal shirt (even in -10 degrees). However, thermal pants is a must. I was only wearing T-shirt, pullover, winter coat, thermal pants and jeans. :)
  2. Do not forget your ears. Best if you can get a hat that can cover your head, plus your ears.
  3. Good gloves is a must! I got a cheap pair of gloves and most of the time, I did not feel that there's any difference between wearing the gloves, and not wearing it.
  4. Try not to wear sports shoes because the front part of the shoes are "open". I wore my black leather shoes there, and my feet was alright, even at up to -10 degrees, with good warm socks of course.
  5. Ensure that you keep your battery operated devices (e.g. handphone, camera) in a warm place. I kept mine in my winter coat pocket. Reason is that in cold weather, the battery will run out much faster. You do not want your camera battery to run out halfway through the tour. :)

When I came back to Singapore, Narita check-in is also slightly different from normal airports. It seems to be similar to Jakarta check-in. There are no shops once you go into Narita International Airport Terminal 2. You have to check-in first. In general, the sequence to check-in at Narita is as follows:
  1. Check your check-in baggage at the scanner
  2. Check in your baggage
  3. Do some last minute shopping at the 2nd floor after you check-in your baggage. Mostly food stores up there, but they do have stores that sell Yukata, electronics, etc.
  4. Check-in. Ensure that you remove whatever that can cause the detector to beep. If it beeps, you might need to take out your shoes. :p
  5. Check the gate that you're going in. The gate might be in the satellite building attached to Terminal 2. In that case, you will need to take the sky train to the other building. You have to factor in that time.
  6. There's some duty free shops after you check-in. I saw a small Akihabara there. However, I had no time to check out that place.

Oh yes... Bring lots of yen. You'll find that you'll keep buying and buying. :p Darn... I'm much poorer now. Oh well.. At least I had lots of fun.

Uploaded one of the Esplanade pieces

I have uploaded one of the pieces we played, Impressions of Japan, in the Esplanade Concert Hall on the 13th Jan in imeem. You should see the piece at my Classical playlist on the right-hand side.

Next performance should be 3rd week of Feb. Will post more news once I have it. Still feeling tired. :p

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Inflation is up 4.4%

These are the Singapore inflation rates since July:
July: 2.6%
August: 2.9%
September: 2.7%
October: 3.6%
November: 4.2%
December: 4.4%

The numbers for December seems to be slightly tamer than what I have expected. I guess that means Singapore is somehow controlling the inflation rise. However, I think there's a limit on how much they can control.

The average inflation for 2007 is 2.1% compared to 2006, as per what I have estimated in my previous post. Jan's inflation should be around 5%, judging from all the inflation going about in housing, electricity, and food.

With all these inflation, I really hope the raises for the civil servants can really maintain the economy. Otherwise... ... Oh well. I doubt I can get a raise. Economic conditions have been tough since last July.

Domestic consumption is always the key to economic growth.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Overactive Imagination

I quote from the Slice of Life:

Our ability to make ourselves feel miserable knows no bounds. And it doesn't end with our relations with friends either. A family member or a partner could say or do something to us, which in our view is harsh or insensitive. That's enough fuel for our minds to start thinking "My partner doesn't love me anymore. Maybe he or she is getting bored with me. He or she doesn't care about my feelings. Maybe he or she want to break up with me. Maybe I'll never be able to find love. Maybe, maybe, maybe?"

We waste precious time and energy dreaming up hypothetical situations which most of the time simply aren't true at all. Sometimes, we may unwittingly make them true by behaving jealously, insensitively or unreasonably. An insanely jealous husband or wife may provoke his or her partner into having an affair even though no intention existed previously.

I guess we're all guilty of having an overactive imagination. I find that I've been doing that more and more. It seems like the more stressed I am, the more I feel this way. How not to do it? That's a very good question, but not easy to answer.

For me, I try to use the "argue with oneself" method. I will just bombard myself with lots of questions (in my head) to make me feel stupid for feeling this way. However, I need to make a conscious effort to do that. Sometimes, this kinda feeling just overwhelms you and you feel the whole world owes you. When that happens, I'll just sleep. :p

Anyway, my fever seemed to have came back. :( Starting to think of stupid things again.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Even Annual Concert is not that tiring!

Whew... I didn't really screw up for the concert. That's a relief. The best way to play is to look at the conductor when you play. Either that or look at the guitar. :p

Anyway, I've never been so tired before. It might be due to the full hour repertoire, with no break. I'm dead tired and I really feel like sleeping, but I still have commitments later. I just hope the audience enjoyed it as much as I did. My girlfriend did say we sounded like STOMP in some areas. :D

For me... I felt that my playing still needs improvement, especially in areas where I need to run at specific sections only. I guess my playing always need improvement. Sometimes I see my guitar mates, I really envy them that they can play this solo, that solo. I really don't have the time to do that. My playing is deproving slightly. :(

Oh well... Next performance will be in Feb. One off my to-do list. One task at a time. Have to pace myself. I do hope that we played well enough so that we can play at Esplanade again. :p The acoustic there is much better than UCC. That's a little obvious though. :p

SMRT Management detached from the ground

This time its that Tunnel TV concept. I seriously do not understand why did they introduce this tunnel TV. It only shows how detach SMRT management is from what's happening on the ground.

Firstly, don't they know that during peak hours, the MRT is so jam packed that you cannot even see the windows??? That's the main reason why everyone is complaining about the frequency of the MRT trains! Everyone is jam together like packed sardines!

Another grouse is that the train must purposely slow down to 45km/hour for the tunnel TV! Everyone is complaining that the frequency is not frequent enough and now they introduced something which requires the train to slow down!!

This is the icing on the cake. Where is the Service Level for MRTs, or public transport in particular??

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shortcut to Execute Programs

I am too used to the shortcut buttons that come with some laptops. Press a button and your application will appear. Very useful for people who like to execute things fast. You can do this on a normal desktop too, although you need to press a few more buttons.

Just do the following:
  1. Goto the program that you wish to open from the Start Menu
  2. Right-click on the program and click on Properties
  3. Click on the Shortcut key box
  4. Hit either Ctrl Alt or Ctrl Shift, plus a letter of your choice (e.g. Ctrl-Alt-W)
  5. Click OK

That's all to it. Whenever you want to execute that program, just press the shortcut which you keyed in above.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Self Pity

I quote from the Slice of Life:

These people are usually miserable and make others miserable too by constantly pointing out what's wrong in their lives. They never seem to listen when we point out what's good and right in their lives; how the positive out-balances the negative. They don't want to acknowledge this because then they'd have no reason to feel bad for themselves.

The person who engages in self-pity is looking for sympathy, and it's usually in that sympathy that they hope to find some relief. It too quickly becomes an addiction, a quick fix they have to take again and again in order to limp from day to day.

As someone once said, "Self-pity is one of the most unhappy and consuming defects that we know. It is a bar to all spiritual progress and can cut off all effective communication with our fellows because of its inordinate demands for attention and sympathy. It is a maudlin form of martyrdom, which we can ill afford."

Sometimes, I feel a little self-pitying does help in motivating you to push yourself forward. However, over exaggerating your circumstances only lead to laziness and depression. One must always remember. There's always someone worse off than you.

Shifting My Documents away from C Drive

There are various reasons why you do not want to put your "My Documents" in the default C Drive. These are the various reasons I can think of:
  • Your documents are less frequently written over. Therefore, putting it in another "data partition" will reduce the risk of losing all your documents in the event of harddisk failure.
  • Some applications are not created properly and by default install into C drive. This might result in harddisk space constraints. Moving the Documents folder will clear some of your harddisk space.
  • Your documents are more likely to keep growing due to photos, videos, CDs, etc. Therefore, putting in a separate data partition will allow the defrag application to optimize your C Drive system files, thus increasing performance.

Just follow these steps to either change your "My Documents" location, or move it:
  1. Open Windows Explorer by Winkey E
  2. On the left pane, right-click on "My Documents" and click on Properties
  3. Change the directory path under the Target folder location to your "data drive"
  4. Click on Move if you wish to move all the documents from your present location to the new directory specified.
  5. Click on OK

That's all to it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I quote from the Slice of Life:

People who focus on revenge don't allow their wounds to heal. They never quite recover from the transgression, because in order to fan the flame of revenge, they have to keep their wounds open? better still, make them bigger and allow them to fester. Old hurts tend to become more and more grievous when we allow them to bubble and boil in our cauldron of resentment.

People with a strong desire for revenge miss out on many good things in life. They often only see the ugly, the unjust, and the irredeemable. They add to the anger and hatred in the world, of which, if you haven't already noticed, we have in great abundance.

Usually, one does not purposely act to anger another. Usually its through ignorance or just some self-preservation mechanism. However, nursing these grudges could be detrimental to one's health.

I would say that this is easy to say, but hard to do. Even if you do not purposely harbor the grudge, what has been done will be somewhere in the back of your mind, and it will affect your thinking.

Bottom line... Try to resolve all problems amicably with one another. Sometimes, things very often will come back to haunt you later on. Forgiveness is one, but it must come with "education". Educating that what was done was wrong. One's patience is finite.

Like what I say last time... Growing up sucks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Potpourri on Strings

Updated 19 Feb 2008: Snippets of the concert
Updated 1 Mar 2008: More snippets of the concert

NUS Guitar Ensemble (GENUS) and Expose!

13 Jan 08, Sun, 3pm,
Concert Hall (Free)

Esplanade Presents

Have a Beautiful Sunday with soothing guitar music! Hailing from the National University of Singapore, the guitar ensembles Expose! and GENUS are proud to present a diverse repertoire accessible to all.

From J. Barnes’ lovely Impressions of Japan, to Joe Hisashi’s (film score composer for Spirited Away) inspiring Anime Medley, Tinsagunu Hana, Lecuona’s sensual Malaguena, Piazolla’s spirited Michelangelo 70, J. Garland’s In the Mood, and entertaining music from animated feature, The Prince of Eygpt, Expose! and GENUS promise an enjoyable afternoon of music and an unforgettable experience.

Founded in 1981 by Alex Abisheganaden, the NUS Guitar Ensemble (GENUS) is a 50-member strong ensemble comprising undergraduates and alumni. GENUS is the region's first Niibori guitar ensemble and the pioneer group in Singapore to use Niibori guitars. GENUS won first prize (ensemble) at the Singapore Guitar Festival and was fourth in the 2nd International Festival and Competition for Guitar Orchestra in Rheine, Germany. Formed in 2005, Expose! is a guitar ensemble mainly made up of alumni members from GENUS.

(60mins, no intermission)

Link to Esplanade

Snippets of the concert:

Anime Medley

Prince of Egypt


Michaelangelo 70

Tinsagunu no hana

Monday, January 7, 2008

Motorola Q9H a winner?

For Everyday, Work and Thrills. The newest smart phone from Motorola, the Motorola Q9H.

Basically, it uses Windows Mobile 6, has a qwerty keyboard, HSDPA (3.5G) connection, a 2.0MP camera with digital zoom and LED photo indicator light, and a microSD memory slot.

Judging from the pictures I saw from, it seems to be quite small. In fact, the width of the phone looks comparable to the latest iPhone. Motorola is famous for its V3, which I'm still using now. According to the Motorola's website, the dimension is only 118 x 66.7 x 11.8mm! Look at the picture below:

Looking at the qwerty keyboard, it seems to have one key access to the calendar, contacts, music, camera and speaker phone. One thing I like about the Motorola V3 is that I could customize short cut keys to basically almost any application I want. According to what I have researched on the Q9H, it seems to support this customization too.

I do not wish to go into the details of what Windows Mobile 6 provides. However, there is one key thing to take note. It seems to offer a pre-installed Opera browser! I have always been a fan of Opera browser on the handphone because of its functionalities, and now this comes free!

Most important to all will be the battery life. According to what I have researched on the internet, it seems that Q9H can last from 1 day to 3 days, depending on which battery pack. There seems to be a bigger battery pack which can last up to 3 days. A little unsure because I do not have the phone. I have tested a Dopod D810 before, which I have recommended to a customer, and based on my usage, it lasted 3 days. I guess it depends on one's habits. I won't know until I start using one.

According to the specifications, it seems to have dual stereo speakers! Wow... Translated, that means the speaker phone should be quite good.

After reading through the specifications, I realised that there's one thing missing though. There's no Wifi. I guess the Motorola people are focusing more on 3G and 3.5G.

I have always been wondering if I can get a smartphone which battery can last relatively the same as a normal phone. Maybe this is the answer? It does seems that Tuzki, the bunny you see on top is enjoying the phone. :)

Now, if only I can get my hands on this phone...

New ways to sleep so it counts

I quote from the Reader's Digest January 2008 edition:

  1. Let go of your worries (Relax)
  2. Redo your bedroom (Sleep friendly)
  3. Cut the light at night (1-2 hours before bedtime)
  4. Follow the 20 minute rule (Do something until you are drowsy)

I suggest getting the magazine to read the full details. I usually do not have problems falling asleep though because my work usually makes me quite tired.

Nevertheless, I seem to follow rule no. 4 more. Do not play any computer games before sleeping. It will make your brain more active. Reading a textbook usually does the trick. :D

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Stupid Office 2003 SP3 disables old document formats

This is stupid. Whenever patches are updated, there is always a list that states that what patches are being applied and the impact. This is standard, and yet Microsoft can disable the old document formats without a special mention on it. In the end, those who installed the updates had trouble reading the old formats. Worse still, they have also disabled some rival document formats and blame them for insecure code. This tops the icing on the cake. The insecure code came from them, not the rival document formats! In fact, Microsoft document formats have always been famous for being "untidy" (I use OpenOffice now).

For those who wants to undo the block, Microsoft has released a KB article to re-enable the old Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Corel files.

Microsoft better buck up with their PR. They are getting from bad to worse.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Disable the NTFS Last Accessed Feature

Do you know that the default NTFS system for WinXP actually updates each file on when it was last accessed? Frankly, I can only see that it is useful if you wish to compress files which are not accessed frequently. Harddisks nowadays are quite cheap and I find this feature annoying.

Just imagine everytime you wish to open a file, it will always update the file property on when it was last accessed. Not only does it encourage frequent writing to the harddisk, I'm sure there is an impact on performance whenever files are opened, or even searched.

Do the following to disable this last access feature:
  1. Goto Start > Run
  2. Type cmd
  3. Type fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1

You will need to be in the administrator account in order to do this. That is all to it. To re-enable it, just type fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 0.

Note that fsutil is quite a useful command prompt utility. It can also do quota management.

Stupid Advertlets

This is one of the stupidest mistakes I ever seen. If you're running an online advertisement company, the least you should do is to ensure your domain does not expire. Yet, they did not keep track of the domain and it expired.

As a result, my blog could not be accessed because it kept being redirected to the domain registrar! Anyway, I'm removing all my advertlets for now. Worst still is that there is something wrong with blogger and I could not update my template! At least something is right today. Right after this post, the template problem was resolved. Oh well...

To top it all off, I'm sick!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

$520psf average for Boon Keng

I refer to the news article about the pricing of the DBSS@Boon Keng flats. This is purely from the debt management point of view. More information about Boon Keng in this previous post.

3 room: $349,000 to 394,000
4 room: $523,000 to 597,000
5 room: $536,000 to $727,000

Note that HDB has a household income cap of $8,000 / month. Using this amount, with a 35% limit on the repayment amount based on the gross salary, you can loan up to a maximum of $617,000+ for 90% loan over a period of 25 years with a 2.6% interest rate (CPF Housing Loan), according to the CPF website calculator.

That would put you at the range of getting a mid-range 5 room flat. However, there are some assumptions:
  1. For the next 25 years, you have no problems with maintaining or even increasing your $8,000 household income
  2. You need to top up your mortgage payment with cash
  3. As you reach a certain age band, your CPF contribution will drop so you will need to be prepared to pay more cash.

This is based on the assumption of getting a CPF loan. If it is any other loan, the loan amount will be lesser, and one might not get a 90% loan.

Of course people might ask why limit yourself to 35% repayment. The reason is very simple. Based on your gross salary, a total of 34.5% of your gross salary is being paid into your CPF. 20% from your gross salary, and 14.5% by your employer. Out of that, only 23% is into your CPF Ordinary Account, which is the main account used for payment of properties. Therefore using a 35% limit, one is already paying 12% of the mortgage payment by cash every month. To raise the limit further will result in you forking out more cash per month to fund your housing purchase. This cash payment would have to last for 25 years based on the example given above.

That's also a cap of $4,500 for the calculation of the CPF contribution. That means that even if you earn $5,000 per month, they will only calculate your CPF contribution using $4,500. Therefore, the maximum amount of CPF contribution for everyone into the CPF ordinary account will only be $1,035.

Let's also not forget that as one grows older, the CPF contribution rate will drop! That means you have to fork out more cash payment as you grow older.

I understand if someone will pay this kind of money for a condo with good facilities, big area, freehold, etc... But for a HDB flat with a 99 year old lease??? I quote one of HDB's mission: "We provide affordable homes of quality and value.". I can say that I know it was possible to get a 2,000 sqft + freehold condo for $800+k last year (central location). Now they are pricing $700+k for a 99 year leasehold HDB? I don't see this as being affordable.

Let's say I do not want to pay cash to top up my mortgage payment. I limit the repayment amount to 23%. Using the same example above, I am only able to loan about $405,000 according to the CPF website calculator. That would put someone with a $8,000 monthly household income only in the range of the most expensive 3 room HDB flat! Even then, this is with the assumption you can maintain your salary for 25 years consecutive, every month without fail if you do not wish to top up your payment using cash.

I could only say that HDB should be changing its mission statement because it is no longer following its core mission. I would understand if this is for some freehold property, condo or landed property. For a HDB flat however, I personally will never pay that much for it. It doesn't even have any facilities. What on earth are we paying for? The furnishings? We're paying almost a million dollars in total, including interest for a HDB flat?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Your Inner Voice Determines Your Happiness

I quote from the Slice of Life:

What you (Inner Voice) tell yourself about yourself shapes your life. Happy and successful people talk lovingly and positively to themselves. Nurture your inner voice to speak with love, respect, optimism and gentleness, and you're on your way to greater happiness.

Learn to control the inner voice. Your life will be miserable if your inner voice is always negative. Life is too short to waste. Live happily...
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