Saturday, August 30, 2008

Creating Ringtones for the iPhone using iTunes

Currently for the iPhone 3G, you are able to create custom ringtones and transfer it to your iPhone. To do it, you'll need to use iTunes. I'm currently using iTunes v7.7.1.11.

To create your own ringtone, do the following:
  1. Run your iTunes

  2. Find the MP3 file or song you wish to convert to a ringtone

  3. Right-click on the file chosen in Step 2, and choose the option Get Info

  4. Under the Options tab, you'll see the option Start Time and Stop Time. The trick is to select a section of the MP3 that last about maximum 30 seconds (E.g., Start Time: 0:00, Stop Time: 0:30). After that, Click OK. Play-back the MP3 to ensure that the selection is to your satisfaction.

    For the iPhone 3G, it rejects any ringtones that are too long. For ringtones that are too long, it will not appear in your ringtone list even though its successfully transferred to the iPhone.

  5. Right-click on the file chosen in Step 2, and choose the option Convert to Selection to AAC. This is the type of music file that the iPhone accepts for ringtones. iTunes will auto-play that converted music file after it is converted.

    If you cannot see this option, goto Edit > Preferences > Advanced (tab) > Importing (tab). Select AAC Encoder under Import Using, and click OK.

  6. Right-click on the newly converted file from Step 5, and select Copy. Paste it on another folder, or paste it on your desktop.

  7. You should see your file, with the extension m4a. Rename this file to the extension m4r. This is the iPhone ringtone extension.

  8. Go back to your iTunes, and select File > Add File to Library. Select the file in Step 7. You should see a new category called Ringtones in your iTunes.

  9. Either sync your iPhone with your iTunes library, or just drag the file in step 7 to your iPhone.

  10. Go to your iPhone sound settings, and you should be able to see your ring tone in the selection.

That's all to it... Remember to go back to Step 3 and remove the selection for your song. Otherwise when you play the file in iTunes, it will be stuck at your selection. :)

The next question someone will ask is if there's a way to insert a custom Text Message tone. The answer is if you want to do it through iTunes, no. There's no way to put in your own Text Message tone. There are other means though, but it requires you to "hack" your iPhone.

I do hope that Apple provides a way to insert custom Text Message tones though.

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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nothing wrong with the iPhone 3G Antenna

According to the CNet article here, there is nothing wrong with the iPhone 3G antenna. That would mean since there's nothing wrong with the hardware, the problems should be a software problem. In that case, it would be easier for Apple to fix it.

According to my experience in Singapore, I would double confirm that there's nothing wrong with the 3G signal. I could almost get 3G signal (90%) throughout Singapore, as long as I'm above ground. This is quite different from the complaints I read.

Currently, there are still some problems with the iPhone 3G (v2.02):
  1. Calls coming in directly go to voicemail. This is despite me having 2 bars of 3G signal. However, at that point of time, I was doing something in the Notes application. Not sure if its related.

  2. Calls coming in rings for a while, and gets cut off in a span of a few seconds. For this case, my phone was just locked, but I was on the move.

  3. The Contacts icon is fast if you access it the first time. However, each time you access it after the first time, the Contacts will have some lag. This will happen even if you access the contacts from the Mail application. It's definitely not the number of contacts because I currently only have less than 10 contacts in my contact list.

    If you shutdown your iPhone 3G and start it up again, the cycle starts again.

Other than that, the iPhone 3G is a nice phone to own. A different experience, and you should check out the app store! There are many good, and free/cheap applications.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Resolve Contacts Sync Error in iTunes

I've encountered an error today where I was unable to sync any contacts on my iPhone 3G back to my computer. I'm currently running iTunes v7.7.1.11 on a Win XP Pro SP3.

The info tab in iTunes is where the contacts, calendar, mail, etc are synced. In this tab, I couldn't select any option at all for all the drop-down boxes, and any attempts to tick the checkboxes in that tab will result in an error. It kept giving me an error where it is unable to load provider data from Sync Services.

The problem is that I believe some of the data files used by iTunes for the Sync Services were corrupted. To resolve this sync error in iTunes, just do the following:
  1. Quit your iTunes
  2. Goto |drive|\Documents and Settings\|user name|\Application Data\Apple Computer\SyncServices\Local in your Windows Explorer
  3. Make a backup of the contents of this folder (optional)
  4. Remove everything in this folder. If you encounter a permission error, open your Task Manager, and look under the Processes tab. End Process for the SyncServer. After that, you should be able to remove everything in that folder.
  5. Connect your iPhone 3G to your computer and run iTunes

That's it... I was able to re-sync everything from my iPhone 3G after this. You can remove the backup done in step 3 if everything is successful.

Hope this helps...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Inflation is up 6.5%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2008:
January: 6.6%
February: 6.5%
March: 6.7%
April: 7.5%
May: 7.5%
June: 7.5%
July: 6.5%

Food and Housing is leading the charge, rising by 8.5% and 12.5% respectively year on year. Judging that the numbers have only dropped 1% compared to June 2008, that means July inflation rate has been pretty high. I actually expected about 6.2% or 6.3%.

On a half year basis, the average increase is a whopping 7.1% increase. This affects the lower income the most because the main increase in inflation has been led by Food, Housing and Transport and Communication, all of which are essential goods and services.

August should see a lower inflation reading though due to the commodities fall recently, but seeing that it's coming from such a high base, inflation rate for August might still end up above 6%. From what I can see, I cannot see inflation below 6% this year. More likely it will be above 6%.

Will the Singapore government be wrong in their forecast? If they're keeping their 5%-6% forecast, most likely yes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Singtel iPhone 3G reception

Updated 25 Aug 2008: EDGE phone reception

I have been testing the Singtel iPhone 3G over the weekend. First the good news. Singtel 3G network is quite well covered in Singapore. It just happens that over this weekend, I've visited the North, South, East, West and Central areas. Not that I've been to every corner but I would think the sample size its big enough to determine the 3G coverage.

Generally, as indicated in my previous post, if you're in the open areas, you would have almost full 3G signal strength. In mature estates (central area), the 3G signal is also relatively okay (at least 2 bars). Even in places as far as Changi, there is still limited 3G signal coverage.

In shopping malls around Orchard area, the 3G signal is also relatively strong. I've tested going to the basement corners and I was still able to get about 2 bars of 3G signal.

I've also tested making phone calls with only 1 bar of 3G signal strength. Surprisingly, there isn't any problems with that. The call could still connect through. If the 3G signal strength is not strong enough, it will downgrade itself to EDGE. If there's no EDGE, it'll downgrade itself to a normal reception signal.

Now, the not so good news. In outlying areas like Changi and most housing estates, 3G signals are hard to come by. Most of the time, you would be downgraded to EDGE. EDGE signal is still relatively okay for surfing. Just a little slow. If it downgrades to a normal reception signal, you will not be able to surf at all. So far, I've only encountered that inside someone's house.

The underground MRT stations were also another problem. It seems that along the stretch where it goes underground, there's no or little 3G signal. Most of the time, I was on EDGE. Around the Dohby Ghaut interchange area, there was no 3G signal at all. I've not tested the NEL yet, but seems like it's quite safe to assume that there's no 3G signal underground.

The other problem is that when its on EDGE or lower, the battery indicator to me seems to be draining faster. I reasoned that it should be because the iPhone was constantly scanning for a 3G signal to latch on instead of relying on EDGE signal.

The main thing that I do not like about the Singtel iPhone 3G is the talk volume reception. When I'm on EDGE signal, and I make a phone call to someone, my voice becomes super soft! The other party could hardly hear me talking. However, when I'm on 3G, I have no such problems at all. I hope this will be fixed soon. It defeats the purpose of me switching off my 3G if the other party could not even hear me talking at all on EDGE. The iPhone is after all still a phone. It seems that the EDGE talk volume (reception) is okay, based on my most recent test today. That would only lead me to 3 conclusions:
  • The Mic for the iPhone is dependent on the ringer volume that you have set. Currently my ringer volume is set to Max, as compared to medium over the weekend.

  • It depends on the cell stations itself. It might be that the cell station in certain areas have problems.

  • I did not force the EDGE setting in the iPhone by setting the NO 3G option in the settings. I was using EDGE because I had no 3G signal in that area. There is a rare possibility that it might affect the volume, although its quite unlikely.
I will continue monitoring it for a week first.

All in all, I think one can survive with the iPhone 3G in Singapore without much problems.

Singtel iPhone 3G is locked (CORRECTED - Not locked)

Updated 27 Aug 2008: Singtel iPhone 3G is not locked to Singtel

Based on my own testing, the Singtel iPhone 3G seems to be locked only to Singtel SIM cards.

Using the Singtel SIM card, the iPhone 3G was able to detect all the other networks. I was able to see the Starhub and M1 cell stations. However, when I put in one of the other telco's SIM card, it just came out with a No SIM notification. I tested it a few times, in case it was the position of the SIM card but the error was still the same. I guess I sort of expected the iPhone will be locked to Singtel.

The Singtel iPhone 3G is not locked to Singtel. I was able to successfully put another Telco's SIM card inside the iPhone 3G. The reason why I thought it was locked to Singtel is because I inserted a non-3G SIM card into the iPhone 3G. Seems like the iPhone 3G only accepts 3G SIM cards.

Will be doing some more 3G testing tomorrow. More like confirming my findings today.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stressing the Singtel iPhone 3G

I'm currently stressing the iPhone 3G, in particular the 3G portion. I'm using the latest v2.02, and based on my initial testing, the Singtel 3G signal is generally quite strong in Singapore.

The 3G signal is almost full as I was constantly surfing in the MRT on the east-west and north-south (above ground) line. For the stations below ground, the signal becomes generally weaker (still have signal), but the signal will be full again upon reaching the station. As long as I'm in the open-air, the signal is also generally quite strong.

I find that 90% of the time, I would have a signal for my 3G. However, this is only based on my initial testing. I will be stressing it more this weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why the latest Worklife balance campaign will fail

Recently there were alot of news on a slew of initiatives by the Singapore government to increase our birth rate back to 2.1.

Summary of the monetary terms for increasing the birth rate:
  • Qualifying Child Relief/Handicapped Child Relief (QCR/HCR): For parents with qualifying children (existing or newborn), the QCR will increase from $2000 to $4,000 per child, and the HCR from $3,500 to $5,500 per child.

  • Working Mother’s Child Relief (WMCR): Working mothers with qualifying Singaporean children (existing or newborn) will enjoy higher WMCR. Currently, the WMCR for the first, second, third and fourth child are 5%, 15%, 20% and 25% of the mother's earned income respectively. The WMCR will now be 15% and 20% of the mother's earned income for the first and second child respectively, and 25% per child for the third and subsequent child. The WMCR will be subject to an overall cap of 100% of the mother’s earned income for all her qualifying children.

  • Combined QCR/HCR and WMCR: The total amount of QCR/HCR and WMCR claimable will be capped at $50,000 per child, twice the current cap of $25,000. Parents will be able to claim the enhanced QCR/HCR and WMCR from Year of Assessment 2009.

  • Parenthood Tax Rebate (PTR): Currently, PTR is only available for the second to fourth qualifying Singaporean child in a family. Going forward, PTR will be extended to the first child and beyond the fourth child. The PTR will be $5,000 for the first child, $10,000 for the second, and $20,000 for each subsequent child. Both the father and the mother may use the PTR to offset their income tax payable. Parents of children born or legally adopted on or after 1 Jan 2008 will be able to claim the enhanced PTR from Year of Assessment 2009.

  • Both elements of the Baby Bonus, i.e. cash gift and dollar-for-dollar government matching contribution for the Children Development Account (CDA), will be enhanced. With the enhancements, the Baby Bonus will be up to $10,000 for each of the first two children and up to $18,000 for each subsequent child. The enhanced Baby Bonus applies to Singaporean babies born on or after 1 Jan 2009.

    Cash gift: The cash gift for the first and second child will be raised from $3,000 to $4,000. The cash gift for the third and fourth child remains at the current level of $6,000.

    CDA: The government matching contribution will be extended to the first child at up to $6,000. The matching contribution for the CDA for the second, third and fourth child will remain at the current levels. For the fifth child and beyond, a dollar-for-dollar matching for the CDA of up to $18,000 per child will be introduced.

  • Affordability of childcare: From 1 Jan 2009, the subsidy for working mothers sending
    their Singaporean children to centre-based childcare will increase from
    $150 to a maximum of $300 per month per child and the subsidy for centrebased
    infant care will increase from $400 to a maximum of $600 per month
    per child.

The other measures include IVF, childcare, leave and worklife balance. Our Prime minister actually emphasized alot on worklife balance. However, there's one big problem. It was actually highlighted in plain terms in today's ST.

We have no spares.

Simple sentence that describes why the worklife balance will fail. The PM has also said this in a different way. In his lingo, he said that we must be competitive.

That's the main problem for families in Singapore. No spares mean that we have no one to cover us, or at most a temp person that can maybe take over half of what I can do. Therefore, how can the boss of the company afford to let anyone go for extended periods of time?? That's the direct result of being competitive. All companies, including the government, also have the lowest bid wins mentality. Therefore in Singapore, we're so lean that sometimes a person can be doing many things at one time, with no backup.

Now bringing the foreign talent(FT) into the picture, it would become far worse. Most foreign talents do not bring their family into Singapore, and I do include PRs. They have few friends in Singapore too. Therefore, if you let any boss choose between a FT who can work long hours, and a Singaporean who is going to start a family, who do you think the boss will choose? Few bosses now choose base on quality.

So even with all the above monetary benefits dangling in front of us, we'll still need to take into account the most important part, which is our rice bowl. Do you think that if given a chance, we do not want to do a bit lesser, and go back home earlier for more R&R?? We really do not have a choice on this worklife balance.

Why? Because we're too competitive... That's why.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Singtel iPhone 3G Price Plans are out!

SingTel iPhone Price Plans

Free Incoming Calls Video/Voice Calls All Day

iFlexi Value iFlexi Plus iFlexi Premium
Promotion Subscription $56/mth $95/mth $205/mth
FREE Local Data 1GB* 2GB* 3GB*
FREE Local Calls 200 mins anytime (outgoing) 500 mins anytime (outgoing) 1,500 mins anytime (outgoing)
FREE Local SMS 500 500 1,500
iPhone 3G 8GB $348 $49 $0
iPhone 3G 16GB $508 $208 $0
FREE Value-Added Services
Caller ID1
SMS Plus1
Overseas Missed Call Alert

FREE Wireless Free Wireless@SG 512 kbps
Exclusive Benefits
Top up $5.35 per month for TalkMore3, SMSMore4 or Free Unlimited V019 calls5

Only for customers who connect/recontract to an iFlexi plan before 5th Sep 2008.

As expected, the lowest tier costs about $50+. However, there is 1 big catch in all these iFlexi plans. The data is limited to 1GB, 2GB or 3GB. Refer to the Singtel website here for more info.

I do not understand the rationale of limiting the data to 1GB, other than Singtel trying to earn more money from us. Even in emails, sometimes we get 10s of MB per email a day. Assuming about 20MB email a day. That would be about 600MB taken up. This does not count in-complete emails download due to network problems. Add that in and your quota might all be used up just on emails!

This is a very big disappointment! Another attempt by Singtel to squeeze more money from us. iPhone is touted because of its internet anywhere capability, but the provider actually put a limit to the amount of data transferred from the iPhone! It's not as if the broadband speed of the iPhone is super fast. Ask any 3G user out there and most do not get very fast speeds on the 3G network here.

Boycott and wait for M1 and Starhub to enter into the fray!

T-Mobile to launch Android phone

News is out that T-Mobile may be launching the Google's Android phone in the US before Christmas. Looks like the smart-phone arena will be quite crowded now, with the likes of Google, Apple, Symbian and Microsoft all in the fray.

Seems like HTC will be the one coming out with the Android phone. That will be interesting. All along for all the smart phones, I liked the HTC design and features. It'll be interesting what they'll offer on the Android platform.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where is the confusion at the checkpoint??

According to the article here, there was mass confusion over at the Causeway yesterday. I actually hopped over to JB for a jaunt on that day and I was there at the checkpoint on Sunday morning.

Coming from the viewpoint of the person taking the bus over to JB, my conclusion is ... ... what confusion??

I've never cleared the checkpoint so quickly before. Most of the people I see just stream towards the counter. There are prominent signs asking them to fill in the arrival card. Cards were easily attainable. All the friends that I were meeting that morning know that we must fill in the white card. I myself know that we can use back the old white card (did not really ask the rest on this point).

So what's the actual conclusion??

The conclusion is that Singaporeans are too lazy to read the local news. If you don't bother to read the local news, don't complain that no one informed you that you need the white card, or that you must have advance notice. I already know about this white card rule last Thursday. It was widely reported.

Simple and straight forward conclusion.

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Focus on the students

Today's papers talk about the alumnis in the Singapore universities and how they are not giving back to the university in terms of donations.

I think the so-called Singapore "world class" universities need to do an internal review of why this is happening. For me, I'm proud to say I'm from a certain Polytechnic here. But I never mention I'm from which university.

Why? Very simple... Because the teaching sucks.

The teachers I have in my Polytechnic make a special effort to help us understand certain concepts and theories. Up to now, I remember some of my lecturer's names from my polytechnic (almost 10 years).

In our "world-class" university, its totally different. Even now, I can hear complaints from the current university undergrads that they totally do not understand what the lecturer was saying for the whole duration of the lecture. The lecturer was like carrying on a monologue with him/herself.

My personal experience is that there are 3 major problems with the teaching standard in the local university now:
  1. We totally do not understand some of the lecturer's English
  2. The lecturer just read word for word from the slides for the duration of the lecture. The slides are just summaries from the textbook.
  3. If you ask a question during lecture, they'll ask you to refer to the textbook, pg xx.

That's the standard I faced when I was in the local university, and I heard that its still the same. There were only a handful (< 5) of lecturers back in my time who bother to go the extra mile to inject something special into their lectures.

The local universities have to understand that we pay them to teach us, not to ask us to refer to so and so textbook without an explanation on what it means. You can have so many medals, so many papers under your names, but its totally useless if you cannot teach us that knowledge.

Even now, you can hear complaints from some students that it seems that their final year project is to further some pet project that the lecturer is doing, and its totally not related to what they really want to research into.

Re-focus on the students... If we're made to feel that we matters, we'll automatically give back to the university.

The answer is just so simple. You do not need to be a university graduate to figure that out.

Neglected Innovators

Today's papers talk about the problems with Singapore's inventors or innovators. The sad reality in Singapore is that it still has the mentality of the 80s, where you can only go for the tested and proven way. The person interviewed said that when he tried to introduce a new product, he got no help from Singapore. Even EDB did not support the initiative.

I would say that even now, it'll be the same. When someone tries to introduce an innovative way of doing things, or some innovative concept, they will immediately get shot down by one question: "Give me some examples of where it has been done before".

That's it... End of innovation. How on earth are you going to give an example if it has never been done before?? It's not like we do not give proof and evidence on why and how it will work. We do, and in the end, we'll get shot down by that simple question.

Singapore will never get a Nobel prize if this kind of mentality exists. It's always the tested and proven way. Singapore is efficient, but will not be innovative if this does not change.

It's just that simple...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Singtel keeping mum about Singapore iPhone 3G

Updated 19 Aug 2008: Link to the post on the Singtel iPhone 3G plans

This is ridiculous. Globe Telecom just announced their iPhone 3G pricing. Optus has also announced their iPhone 3G pricing last month. (All Singtel associates) But Singtel is keeping totally mum about the iPhone 3G launch here in Singapore. I thought there would be a one liner on the iPhone 3G in the Singtel results announcement. Apparently, I was half right, and half wrong.

Right that there's a one liner.
Wrong that the one liner is about Optus iPhone 3G pre-launch.

That could only lead me to 2 conclusions:

Either Singtel Mobile segment sucks in adding/managing new products, or another rival mobile company is also going to launch on 22 Aug in Singapore, and they do not want to let the cat out of the bag.

The only confirmation was that Singtel is bringing in the iPhone 3G on Aug 22. This is like ... ... old news??

Either case... I guess we'll have to wait until 22 Aug.

Click here for the details of the Singtel iPhone plans.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Making Decisions

I quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

The quote pretty much explains everything. If you need to make a decision, there is no use deferring it away. Sooner or later, you will need to make the decision, or someone else will make it for you. Even by acknowledging that you'll try is better than keeping silent over the issue.

You can only be successful through failure. Do not be afraid of making the wrong decision. Learn from it, and you'll be much stronger after that.

Genting Outdoor Theme Park

According to my friends, the outdoor theme park has changed a lot too. However, I did not even remember passing by a theme park the last time I was there. :p

Same as the indoor theme park, it was quite disappointing. The map is very confusing, and you need to pay additional for one of the rides, called the Flying Coaster. Same as the indoor theme park, I will not recommend anyone to go for Genting just purely because of the theme park.

I did not go for any of the water rides because believe me, once you've seen the color of the water, you won't want to be inside the water ride. The water is green in color!

The only interesting ride I felt, that was in the outdoor theme park ticket, is the Grand Prix Fun Kart. For that ride, you'll get to ride a real go-kart around a mini track. Very interesting and fun, but a little bad for your back as the track is not really well maintained. You need to be of a certain age before you can play I think. I did not see any small kids in the queue.

The Spinner and the Pirate Ship ride are of course quite worth it. The Flying Dragon was just okay. Not really a thrilling ride in my opinion. There was a long queue for the Corkscrew, so we skipped that one. The Space Shot, and the Super Toboggan were not available though.

Actually, the only thing that I felt was the highlight of my Genting getaway was the Grand Prix Fun Kart, other than the excellent dinner I had at Happy Valley Restoran at Theme Park Hotel.

Some of my random pictures:

Sungai Rejang Flume Ride

Flying Dragon


Pirate Ship

Flying Coaster (Need to pay additional)

Grand Prix Fun Kart

Fun Karts waiting to go


Genting Indoor Theme Park

Genting has changed alot since I've last been there (First World Hotel was not even built then). Now, there's even an indoor theme park inside Genting, which is inside First World Plaza.

My impression for the indoor theme park is that its meant for the kiddies. The only 3 "thrilling rides" you have in the indoor theme park is the Euro Express, the Adult Bumper Car, and the 4D Motion Master (which entrance is hidden, near to the exit to the outdoor theme park). All are quite mild for teenagers and above. They are mainly family rides, or gondola rides around the indoor theme park.

One point to note for 4D Motion Master ride... It's not really meant for kiddies, or those with a heart problem. At the end of the "ride", I heard at least 2 kids crying and screaming for their mummy.

Oh yes... And forget about the map. Even for a person proficient in map reading, you'll have absolutely no idea where the attractions are. Another point is that not all the attractions are included in the indoor theme park ticket. That's another thing that rills me. There are some rides within the theme park that requires you to pay, like the Venice Gondola, Ripley's Believe It or Not, etc.

If you're at Genting for the theme park, I suggest you go somewhere else. Not worth it in my opinion.

Here are some of the random pictures I've taken around the indoor theme park:

Some small children rides

The many "rails" inside First World Plaza (inset: Reindeer Cruiser)

Liberty Lady riding a motorbike

Euro Express

Ripley's Believe It or Not, and The Haunted Adventure

Adult Bumper Car

Genting Skyway

The package I had gave us a free ride on the skyway, so we went down to take a look. Apparently, there's quite a nice shop at the skyway centre at the foot of Genting that sells many of the Malaysian 土产, like 耳朵饼 (ear biscuit),prunes, cuttlefish, etc.

This shop however, is not really the cheapest. The package that I had also stopped us at a shop near the foot of Genting when we were returning to Singapore. That one is cheaper than the shop at the skyway centre, but I felt that the shop at the skyway centre has more varieties of some of the products like cuttlefish, prunes, and sweets.

We didn't venture beyond the centre though. According to my friends, there's some good food around that area too.

I'm the scenary kind of person so as usual, I was a little "trigger happy" on my way up and down the skyway. :) These are some of the pictures I took on my way down and up:

Skyway Centre

Genting Skyway Signage

Bottom-up zoom view

Bottom-up pan out view

Random Pictures around Genting

Scenary taken from First World Garden

Random Cloudy Scenary

Night shot of Hotel Highlands

Night shot of Genting Hotel (I think)

Night shot of a cloudy Hotel First World signage

Cloudy shot of Hotel First World

My favorite scenary shot taken in the morning

Singtel giving a hint of the upcoming iPhone plans

Updated 19 Aug 2008: Link to the post for Singtel iPhone 3G plans.

Just read a recent article here on Globe Telecom, a subsidary of Singtel, which is launching the iPhone on Aug 22 in the Philipines.

Yes, you've seen it. Aug 22. It's highly likely that if Singtel can launch the iPhone in the Philipines on Aug 22, it should also be able to do so for Singapore. Looking at Apple Singapore website here, you could also see that the Coming Soon word is gone. Coincident? Not likely...

What's interesting for the Philipines is that they are giving a spectrum of plans for the customers. For those who do not want high monthly fees, be prepared to shell out more cash for the iPhone. For those who want the iPhone for free, be prepared to pay more for the monthly plans. This sort of gives an indication of the plans that Singtel might have in store for Singapore.

For Globe Telecom, the cheapest can be USD36 monthly plan for a 8GB model (USD382 for the iPhone), or USD113 monthly plan for a free 8GB model. Even the prepaid subscribers can opt for the iPhone 3G. However, they have to be willing to pay up to USD1,000 on average.

Aug 22 is just next week. Tomorrow Singtel would be releasing their results for the quarter. Therefore, I think its highly likely that they will announce about the iPhone for Singapore tomorrow.

No more guesses, no more rumours. Till tomorrow... (I hope) :)

Click here for the post on the Singtel iPhone 3G plans.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I quote from Harriet Braiker:

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.

I think this about sums up my feelings. Excellence is not perfection. To strive for perfection is like going after a moving target.

Learn to let go and move on. Being stuck in something that you're doing is really pretty demoralizing as you do not see an end to it. Like what Confucius says: Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Singtel to launch iPhone 3G on 22 Aug??

Rumours are everywhere today that Singtel will be launching iPhone 3G this month. Some has even put a date to it. 22 Aug 2008.

According to the MacWorld article here, it would seem that there might some truth to it. Apple has announced that 20 more countries will get the iPhone 3G on 22 Aug. It's no surprise that Singtel is keeping mum on this. Apple has always been launching products in this manner.

Would I switch to Singtel because of the iPhone?? Naaaahhh. Reason is that recently in a Bloomberg article here, M1 and Starhub have also announced that they will be launching the iPhone 3G by the end of this year.

I will wait patiently... :p Or maybe I can start building my Singapore MRT guide for the iPhone.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another one bites the dust

I just happened to have time to chit chat with some of my guitar friends yesterday, and realised that another of my IT friend is leaving the IT industry. The trend has been gaining momentum since a few years back.

Now among my friends, I have very few who are still in the IT line. Most have left and switched to another line. To me, I think the top reason why we're leaving IT is because we're not treated like a normal person.

To everyone else, we're the people who:
  1. Do not have a life. Anytime can OT without OT pay.
  2. Can be abused. Everytime there's a problem, its the IT guy's fault, and its always not my fault.
  3. Can be paid minimally because there's always China and India.

Well Singapore, please bear in mind that we're normal people, who wants to live a normal life. I've not watched television for a few years because all my shows are always shown before I reach home. I eat dinner when some people are eating supper almost every weekday!

There will come a time where we'll just all quit and you can find your own people to maintain and build your own IT systems. Heck... Even though an auditor has longer working hours, at least they have much more bonus/pay than us. Our pay is minimal, we sometimes get abused, and everyone thinks we're superman/superwoman who needs little sleep/rest.

This is coming from a person who actually loves IT, and sometimes write programs for the fun of it. I am fast loosing it because of non-IT related reasons. I really hope I still can find reasons for me to be still in this line. After all, I've been designing/programming for more than a decade.

I just hope I don't hit my tipping point.

The Family Aspect of Paying down Housing Loan

Today's local papers talk about why you should, or should not pay down your housing loan. In Singapore, you can say that its one of the unique places where almost everyone owns the roof over their heads. That's one of the unique characteristics of Singapore.

The article in today's papers is a typical "textbook" answer. Put a little money in the CPF, let it generate interest, pay down your low interest loan slowly, etc etc. It even teaches you how to "re-arrange" your funds so that you still have money in your OA after applying for a HDB loan.

However there is one aspect that so far, no articles or financial advisers have highlighted to me. The reason why people will pay down their housing loan. This is my reason.

Flexibility in family planning.

Why do I say that? Its a very simple concept. If you pay down your loan slowly, these are the assumptions that you have to take:
  1. You, and your other half will have a job that pays just as well, or better for the duration of the loan, with no loss of income in-between

  2. The low interest rate will always be comparable to your savings and investment returns

  3. The CPF rules do not change for property related purchases

For the first assumption, that means you and your other half must have a job that pays for the loan for the duration of the housing loan. Either that, or one of them must earn enough to pay the 2 portions.

The second assumption is related to the first assumption. You and your other half must assume that the increase of your pay would offset this interest rate game that you choose to play.

The third assumption is also related to the above 2. If the CPF rules changed (they did recently with regards to the AHWL), you and your other half must have sufficient resources to top-up or increase your loan repayment. Many people also forget that our CPF is capped at $4,500 gross salary. No matter how much your salary increases, your CPF will hit a ceiling, and you'll have to top up the rest using cash.

What all these assumptions have in common? To me its family planning.

Couples that over-extended themselves by buying a flat which they cannot afford will be forever caught in the rat race. That's because if they leave their jobs, they might have problems repaying all those loans. If they are in the rat race, where's the family? The answer is there's no family. It'll just be like 2 person, who happens to live together in a big house, because they will spend a large proportion of their time in their work, or traveling.

Is it any better if you fully repay your housing loan? To me, there is a significant advantage. That is the couple has the option not to work if they can afford it. If the couple has about $5,000 per month coming in from their savings and investments every month, why do they need to work if their loans are all fully repaid? Heck, I can even save for the kids with $5,000 per month without all those loan repayment.

There'll be more time for family, for kids, and of course for friends. Life is not about working. We work to live, not live to work. However, to reach this level, you would have to look beyond the present, and of course beyond the $$$. $$$ is the means for survival. They are not collectible items.

Personally to me, the repayment of the housing loan, and all types of loans, is the critical family aspect that everyone (at least in Singapore) seems to neglect. $$$, and expectations of what life should be, has clouded their visions so as to speak.

Spend and live within your means, and you'll find you and your family happier, and more content. For me, I'll still repay my housing loan as soon as possible. There is more to life than being a Scrooge Mcduck.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...