Sunday, September 28, 2008

Outline for US bailout reached

Just read that the outline for the US $700 billion bailout package has been reached. The gist of it is as follows:
  1. First $250billion issued when legislation is enacted
  2. Additional $100billion can be added if president decide it is needed
  3. Remaining $350billion is subjected to congressional review
  4. Institutions selling assets under this plan will need to issue stock warrants to taxpayers
  5. No executives in the participating institutions will get multi-million dollar severance pay, and CEO pay that encourages excessive risk-taking will be limited
  6. Participating institutions would be supervised by Congress's investigative arm, and an independent inspector general
  7. The program itself would be supervised by Fed Reserve chairman, and an oversight board
  8. Treasury secretary's actions will be reviewed
  9. Government can modify the terms of the home loans as they are the owners

The current problem is more of a crisis of confidence than anything else. The package should be agreed in principal soon. If the Republicans delay this package again, it will not help them in the upcoming presidential election, because they will soon see the biggest financial blowout in history.

I agree with Obama... Politics do get in the way of everything.

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

Sorry state of professionals

The hottest news of this month is definitely the Lehman collapse and the AIG fiasco. This really exposes the level of professionals we have over here.

I have enquired among my friends who have the Lehman Minibonds and I'm appalled at the reply from their bank's RM. It really seems that the word Relationship Manager(RM) is just another new name for salesman!

Apparently, they have asked the RM on the status of the minibond and if they are affected (Lehman has many minibond series), and the reply was that they do not know! The only time that they will know is when the next dividend comes in. If it didn't come in, its a default.

Come on!! This is ridiculous. You sell a product, you don't know the internal workings of the product, and you don't even know when it'll default! If you're selling something, its your responsibility that you know all the important points of the product! It's no excuse that the product is too complicated or complex to understand. If it is, that means you're not meant to sell the product at all, and you should get someone more highly trained to sell this product.

They have interviewed some RMs in today's papers and I'm really appalled that they know nothing about the product that they are selling. The excuse is that its too complicated, too complex to understand, and they are selling too many to know all of it.

Excuse me!! Those really good salesman that I know can memorise all the company's products details and specifications, which can number into almost 50 different types, and can recommend the product based on the customer's different needs.

The latest AIG fiasco is not any better. You have financial advisers from other companies asking people to dump their AIA policies, even though Singapore's MAS has already came out saying that they have strict regulations that ensure that all policies can be paid out in full. My take... Go on and dump if you do not want to heed MAS advice. Those who are holding on to their AIA policies will thank you because they will have more bonus to share among the remaining policyholders.

Every industry has their rotten eggs, and this is not limited to the financial sector. Likewise, there are gems around. However for some stupid reason, I know more about the rotten ones, and very few good ones.

It might be that the training is insufficient, or it might be that the product sucks in the first place. Either case, whether its a big MNC, or a small mom and pap shop, its always the quality that matters.

It amazes me sometimes that some people concentrate on the side dish, and neglects the main dish.

Good or Bad Intentions?

I quote from Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton:

It is difficult to say who do you the most harm: enemies with the worst intentions or friends with the best.

Using a simple example of a smoker, which decision will be more "harmful" to that person? Person A advices this person not to smoke at all? Or Person B lights up a cigarette and smokes together with this person?

Good intentions need not necessary mean that the decision is the easiest. The best intention usually will bring you out of the comfort zone, causing you to make difficult choices. Therefore, do not judge friends based on who treats you the best.

Sometimes the best thing to do is also the hardest thing you can do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My First Month With My iPhone 3G

Time passes by quickly and it has been a month since I have my iPhone 3G. I'm getting more used to the phone, and I've gotten used to checking the AppStore every now and then. :) Yes, there are alot of free applications in AppStore which you can download. Some people has the misconception that AppStore only has paid applicaitons. That is wrong! AppStore has many free, and I would say quite useful applications/games.

My battery life has settled down to about 2 days for 1 charge. One thing to note here though is that I shutdown my iPhone every night. Its a habit of mine for all my phones.

My usage pattern is slightly above average I think, and it can be quite heavy at times, like checking emails every hour. For my usage time, the maximum I've ever seen was about 7 and a half hours on a charge.

Just to highlight something I've ranted about in this post here. My data usage for the month is *drum roll* ... ... Less than 150MB. Yes, I'm surprised.

After thinking about it, I think I've understood why. These are the reasons:
  1. Most of the regular sites/apps I go to daily have very little graphics. Content (word) in websites does not take up much bandwidth.

  2. Next is the misconception I had about emails in the iPhone 3G. When I read the email details, all my attachments do not get downloaded until I tap on it. This is a useful feature because sometimes I do not read all my attachments. I'm more interested in the content of the email. I think the only email which will display the attachment is when you send a graphics attachment. I rarely have these kind of emails though.

  3. Lastly is that I have a habit of connecting to Wifi before I go to AppStore (not all the time). I believe that it helped in lowering my data usage because I've a habit of downloading many apps, and deleting them too. :) I connect to the Wifi when its available as Wifi is still generally faster than 3G.

Unless you really like to watch YouTube the whole day on the iPhone, or like to download apps every single day using the 3G, it will be extremely difficult for you to break the 1GB usage barrier.

I would post more about my battery optimisation tips next time. Feeling a little tired today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Android is just another Linux mobile?

Just saw a gallery post on ZDNet here regarding the new Android phone by HTC. It is already released this week in the US by T-Mobile. Frankly, I wasn't impressed by the pictures. Below is one of the pictures from the post:

It looks exactly like a Linux UI. Granted Android is based on the Linux platform but I expected more jazz in the UI. After all, we're talking about Google.

Will it take off? I have not used it yet but based on my failed attempt to convert my parents to using Linux, I don't think it will take off in the retailer's arena like the iPhone. Speed is one thing, but its useless if the user doesn't know how to use the features. Commercial however, might be a different case. But still, users nowadays are demanding more friendly interfaces than ever before. User-friendliness has became the newest buzz word and seriously, the Android interface doesn't look that appealing. In fact, it seems to be a step backwards.

A pity... I really expected more from Android. Maybe that's the problem. Expectations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Inflation is up 6.4%

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%
August: 6.4%

Food and Housing is leading the charge, rising by 8.4% and 12.8% respectively year on year. Food costs should go down further for September. Increase in housing costs is due to the higher accomodation costs and electricity tarifs.

Finally, as per what I've indicated previously in this post, MAS again revise their inflation forecast to between 6% - 7% for this year. Personally, I do not see inflation going above 7%, and economic growth should be above 4% this year. Inflation should be taming down, provided some governments do not take the chance to create havoc again.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blank Screen for iPhone 3G Safari

I personally do this for my iPhone 3G because I believe some websites auto-refreshs every x seconds if you stay on that page. Just imagine you hit that page, and you switch off your display to do some other work. The webpage would be reloading every x seconds until you switch on your display again. If that page has alot of graphics, good luck to your data plan, and your battery.

All you need to do to prevent this is to enter about:blank in the Safari URL. For me, I've also added that page as a bookmark, so I could call it as and when I need it.

That's it. This URL is basically just a blank page. Everytime I want to stop viewing a page, I would just activate this bookmark. This is primarily to ensure that no page will keep refreshing without me knowing.

Hope this tip help in your battery life, and your data plan. :)

HDB Assure 3 Warranty

Seems like HDB has a warranty program for those flats built since 2005. Today's news talked about the new flats in Sengkang having this warranty.

Basically, the warranty is called Assure 3, and its a new extended warranty scheme covering the following from the date of completion of the apartment blocks:

Warranty Period
Ceiling leakages at toilet/ kitchens
Five years
Water seepage from external walls
Five years
Spalling concrete
Ten years

This is on top of the default Defective Liability Period of 1 year that covers any repair of building defects at no cost.

More information can be found here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

iPhone 3G also depends on the provider

Just recently I saw more and more reviews of the iPhone 3G, but some seems to puzzle me because I've encountered no such problems with my iPhone 3G under Singtel. These are some of the problems I've seen encountered by some people:
  1. No 3G coverage in many areas
  2. Time to initialise call is slow
  3. Mail can't login into the mail server

I've never encountered any of these severe problems in my usage. The firmware v2.1 has also improved some of the features and stability. For the above problems, my findings are as follows:
  1. 3G coverage is excellent in most parts of Singapore except when you're underground
  2. Time to call people is comparable with other phones
  3. No problem with mail because I constantly use it to reply emails (That's my main usage mode for my iPhone).

I think these problems seem to be more provider specific than iPhone specific. Its not really fair to blame the iPhone for these problems.

Loophole in the exchanges

In my previous post here, I've talked about a loophole in the exchange which all hedge funds and shortists are taking advantage of all over the world. Just today they are finally taking a co-ordinated effort to close this hole. Whether will it be closed remains to be seen.

Let me explain about this loophole.

The exchange is based on a very simple concept (Let's not talk about the complicated portion). I have a company, and it has x number of shares in the market. I can own y shares, and the remaining z shares will be owned by the public, or institutions. But x = y + z. Therefore, since the number of shares are the same in the market (for this example, we'll take it to be the same), the buying and selling will reflect the demand of shares, hence the value of the company could be determined. That's where you start looking at the books, determining the value and its growth rate, etc.

After that, the exchanges introduced the concept of lending shares. That means for my y number of shares, I can choose to lend them out to people to contra or to short. Contra meaning that I will buy first, and sell by a certain time. Short means the opposite, where I will sell first, and buy back by a certain time. This ruling is still ok, reason being x = y + z. The total number of shares will still be x as the shares are lend out by certain shareholders, maybe to create liquidity in the market. The number of shares being constant, and the borrowing of the shares requiring some unfront cost, the value of the company would not be far off as research will still be done. If the value is below the comfortable level of the shareholders, they can always stop lending out the shares.

Now here comes the loophole. The exchanges around the world decided that this is not enough. Therefore, they introduced something called naked shorting. So what does that mean? That means that even though if someone didn't own, or borrow any shares, this person can choose to sell the shares, to bet that the shares will dive. Yes... The exchange has become a gambling den.

There comes the problem that changed the whole rules of the game. That means effectively, at some point of time, there will be a possibility that x != y + z. Shares are created out of thin air by these naked shortists because they do not need to even borrow or own the shares. Even when all the shareholders stop lending out their shares, people can still short the shares to their hearts content.

If anyone can short any company's shares as and when they like, do you think they will take time to think of this company's fundamentals, cashflow, business plan, etc? No. They will just look at the chart and just keep shorting it down as long as the chart says so. That's what happened for the past few days. News started to spread that this bank not well-capitalised, this bank merging with another bank because it's in trouble, etc. It became a self-fulfilling policy because suddenly all the mark-to-market securities owned by banks are all shorted or sold down, regardless whether the rumours are true or not. Even though the banks were initially well-capitalised, the sudden wipe-out of trillions dollars of market value caused these banks to be almost bankrupt overnight.

And guess what? In Singapore, you do not even need to borrow shares to short! The exchange here instead encourage naked short selling by saying that you do not even need to borrow shares to short because they have "rules" to deter them! Like real!

That is why so many hedge funds are based here. They can short to their hearts content. Now you know why the companies listed in our exchanges are so cheap compared to other countries' exchanges?

Like I mentioned in the previous post, if the exchanges around the world still support naked short selling, more and more companies will be either taken private by the own management, or bought over by private equities and taken private. You will also find that all those well-run businesses will shun IPO.

In fact, I'm advising others to go for venture capitalists instead of IPO. It's not worth it because the exchange is not interested in ensuring a fair value for your company. The private investor will value your company better than the exchange.

I hope this incident will trigger some new rules at least, as this fundamentally goes against the concept of the public exchange and shareholders. Just imagine you're selling lemonade, and someone else claims that he/she is selling your leomade and sells it cheaper than you, without actually having the actual lemonade itself.

It totally makes no sense...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anger Management IV

I quote from Shakespeare:

Men in rage strike those that wish them best

The meaning is very simple. Using an analogy, you had a bad day at work. Boss seems to nitpick at your work and the customers scolded you for no reason. However, you won't scold your boss, or customers back. You'll most probably let your anger build throughout the day, and guess what happens when you reach home? You'll start to snap at your loved ones, quarrel over the smallest things, and make everyone unhappy.

That's what this quote means... So to avoid this, try not to get angry. It's really not worth it to make all your loved ones unhappy over some other incidents that's totally not related to them.

Keep calm, and take deep breathes. Don't lash out at your loved ones and hurt them with your actions and words.

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cutting rates will not help US now

Another stupid report that cutting rates will help the US economy. That should be the very last thing the Feds should do.

The rate is now 2% in the US. Look at the US mortgage rates now?? Almost triple of the fed rate. So do you think any cut in rates will help? Do you think that any cut in rates for the past year has helped? No.

So guess why they are asking for this rate cut? Because they want the commodities to rise. That's why. The very last thing that would trigger a global depression is for inflation to rear its head at this point of time.

If they do cut rates, be very prepared for a "super stagflation". That means negative growth and super high inflation, all thanks to the "mighty" US.

Not only that, most probably the following will happen:
  • Hedge funds/shortists will start shorting every single thing under the sun due to the "loophole" that the exchanges around the world refused to close
  • Every single market will collapse, from emerging countries to developed countries
  • All the management of the good companies will start to buy back their company shares and take them private

Oh yeah...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Canon Rock

I came across this Canon Rock 2 years ago. A guy from Taiwan, Jerry C, actually re-arranged the popular Canon in D for the electric guitar. Usually I do not like the sound of electric guitar but I like his arrangement, where he tries to blend in the electric guitar and classical music.

This is his original Canon Rock:

While I was aimlessly surfing around just now, I've found another version. This is a duet done by 2 Japanese. They've actually further enhanced it for 2 electric guitars, adding more color to the song. In fact, I like this duet version better than the original. Then again, I've always like group playing, which is the main reason why I'm still in the ensemble.

This is the duet version of Canon Rock:

There are really alot of talented people out there. I can't even translate a piano piece into a guitar piece. Only got the chords. Oh well... :(

Saturday, September 13, 2008

iPhone 2.1 update is here!

The iPhone 2.1 update is here!

Update includes (Needs iTunes 8 to install update):

  • Decrease in call set-up failures and dropped calls
  • Significantly better battery life for most users
  • Dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes
  • Improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts
  • Faster installation of 3rd party applications
  • Fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes for users with lots of third party applications
  • Improved performance in text messaging
  • Faster loading and searching of contacts
  • Improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
  • Repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
  • Option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts
  • Genius playlist creation

Security Updates:
  • Application Sandbox

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-3631

    Available for: iPhone v2.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: An application may be able to read another application's files

    Description: The Application Sandbox does not properly enforce access restrictions between third-party applications. This may allow a third-party application to read files in another third-party application's sandbox, and lead to the disclosure of sensitive information. This update addresses the issue by enforcing the proper access restrictions between application sandboxes. Credit to Nicolas Seriot of Sen:te and Bryce Cogswell for reporting this issue. This issue does not affect iPhone versions prior to v2.0.

  • CoreGraphics

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1806, CVE-2008-1807, CVE-2008-1808

    Available for: iPhone v1.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: Multiple vulnerabilities in FreeType v2.3.5

    Description: Multiple vulnerabilities exist in FreeType v2.3.5, the most serious of which may lead to arbitrary code execution when accessing maliciously crafted font data. This update addresses the issue by incorporating the security fixes from version 2.3.6 of FreeType. Further information is available via the FreeType site at

  • mDNSResponder

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1447

    Available for: iPhone v1.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: mDNSResponder is susceptible to DNS cache poisoning and may return forged information

    Description: mDNSResponder provides translation between host names and IP addresses for applications that use its unicast DNS resolution API. A weakness in the DNS protocol may allow a remote attacker to perform DNS cache poisoning attacks. As a result, applications that rely on mDNSResponder for DNS may receive forged information. This update addresses the issue by implementing source port and transaction ID randomization to improve resilience against cache poisoning attacks. Credit to Dan Kaminsky of IOActive for reporting this issue.

  • Networking

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-3612

    Available for: iPhone v2.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: Predictable TCP initial sequence numbers generation may lead to TCP spoofing or session hijacking

    Description: TCP initial sequence numbers are sequentially generated. Predictable initial sequence numbers may allow a remote attacker to create a spoofed TCP connection or insert data into an existing TCP connection. This update addresses the issue by generating random TCP initial sequence numbers. This issue does not affect iPhone versions prior to v2.0.

  • Passcode Lock

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-3633

    Available for: iPhone v2.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: An unauthorized user may bypass the Passcode Lock and launch iPhone applications

    Description: The Passcode Lock feature is designed to prevent applications from being launched unless the correct passcode is entered. An implementation issue in the handling of emergency calls allows users with physical access to an iPhone to launch an application without the passcode by double clicking the home button in emergency call. This update addresses the issue through improved handling of emergency calls. Credit to Matthew Yohe of The University of Iowa's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for reporting this issue. This issue does not affect iPhone versions prior to v2.0.

  • WebKit

    CVE-ID: CVE-2008-3632

    Available for: iPhone v1.0 through v2.0.2

    Impact: Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution

    Description: A use-after-free issue exists in WebKit's handling of CSS import statements. Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This update addresses the issue through improved handling of document references.

The weird part is that I thought I saw the multi-calendar option for the iPod touch 2G. This feature is not meant for the iPhone?

My problem now... I'm waiting for my battery to drain finished before updating! Looks like I have to wait until my battery is drained before seeing if there are any other changes with this 2.1 update.


Hurricane Ike forecast weird!

I have a habit of watching the progress of hurricanes around the world, but one thing that I've found weird recently is that the forecasts of the hurricane strength goes against what I know conventionally.

Hurricanes in most cases always weaken when they approach land due to the differences in temperature. However, I've seen some forecasts recently that actually says that it will strengthen when it hits land. That's something that I really do not understand.

For example for Hurricane Ike, 2 days ago I've already expected it to hit the coast as a Cat 2 hurricane, but many says it will hit as a Cat 3 hurricane. It was the same for Gustav.

But then again, I'm not the weather expert. There might be some hidden reason why they forecast it in this way. Anyway, I expect oil to hit 90 USD/barrel next week, and that the market will discount some president's attempt to stop the oil price from falling.

Fundamentals of economics... When demand drops, prices will drop in tandem. If you have enough foresight, you will let it drop. Otherwise, people will just go into alternatives, or they will make their own alternatives.

Summary of Oct 2008 Fare Increases

Updated 13 Sep 2008: More information on senior concession hours and some changes to the maximum fare

Summary of 1 Oct 2008 Fare Adjustments:
  1. Adult/Senior Citizen concession EZLink fares on buses/trains will see an increase of 4 cents per ride (across the board)

  2. Adult/Senior Citizen concession EZLink transfer rebates will be increased to 40 cents from the current 25 cents

  3. EZLink maximum fare cost (for SMRT will be increased by 5 9 cents

  4. Adult cash fares on buses/trains will see an increase of 10 cents per ride (across the board)

  5. Senior Citizen concession hours on SMRT trains extended to include 4.30pm to 7pm on weekdays (Refer to this link for more details on the concession hours)

Translated, the more you need to transfer in your day to day journeys, the more you'll save. If your day to day journeys are all direct journeys, it will cost you more.

Effectively, distance-based fares will see an increase of fares in direct journeys, but a small subsidy if you transfer, to compensate you for the time lost in doing the transfer.

If you wish to save money, leave earlier.

Friday, September 12, 2008

No problems with iTunes 8

Have been reading some reports on the Net that some people, mostly Vista users, have problems with installation of iTunes 8. Initial reports point to some compatibility problem with iTunes and some HP and Logitech USB drivers.

I'm not sure what are they running but so far for my side, I've absolutely no problems installing iTunes 8 on a Leopard (Mac), and a Windows XP Pro machine, even though I'm using a Logitech USB mouse. Both are currently running iTunes 8 now, and both do not have any problems syncing with an iPhone v2.02 firmware.

Windows XP Pro is still one of the most stable Windows OSes around. Luckily I bought my Dell when Windows XP is still being sold. I have never regretted buying it at that point of time, even though I can get a more powerful machine now with the same amount of money I spent. XP Pro is worth it. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spends himself in a worthy cause

I quote from Theodore Roosevelt from a speech given in Paris in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Pretty self-explanatory, but difficult to do or follow. Sometimes I really get too discouraged to continue doing what I believe to be right.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Geniune Leader

I quote from Martin Luther King, Jr:

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

I came across this quote and I find it quite meaningful. This means that to be an effective leader, you will need to know how to take everybody's thoughts and ideas, and merge it together into 1 single solution. The idea does not solely come from 1 person, but it comes as a result of input from everyone. As some people might say, a leader makes 1 + 1 = 3.

Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

19hours battery life for a laptop

Wow... Just read a ZDNet blog recently that Dell has managed to build a laptop that lasts from 10hours to 19hours! This is based on the Dell Lattitude series. Funny thing is I don't see it being sold to Singapore. Singapore only has Inspiron, Studio, XPS and Vostro. It might be because they are still testing the prototype.

With this kind of juice, I will be able to use my laptop maybe for 2 days until I need to charge it. Wow... That's alot.

Just imagine if this kind of battery technology is used on an Apple. The battery life will be double 19 hours. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Setup your iPhone 3G

The iPhone 3G is not really like your typical smart phone where you can straight away use all the features out of the box. Most of the features work but there are certain things you need to do before you start using your iPhone 3G. The reason is because the iPhone 3G is actually setup for the US out of the box. When you first use your iPhone 3G, you'll realise that it's set to the US regional settings, and even your world clock is set to Cupertino, which is Apple's home base.

There are 3 things you need to do/check once you get your brand new shiny iPhone 3G:
  1. Sync your iPhone 3G with iTunes

    Download the latest iTunes, install it, and connect the iPhone 3G to that computer using the provided sync cable. When you first connect it, it will ask you to register with Apple. Please register with it because its at that point of time, it will configure your iPhone to your country. In my case, its Singapore.

    Note that if you miss this step, you might not be able to connect to AppStore from the iPhone.

    iTunes will also update any new firmware for the iPhone. This is important as the iPhone 3G is still relatively a new product, and new products will always have some problems here and there. The current version as of the date of this post is v2.02. I'm expecting v2.03 this month, which should improve the stability of the iPhone.

  2. Goto Settings > General > International and check your Region Format.

    Your region format should show your country. If it doesn't, tap on Region Format and set it to your own country.

    If the iPhone 3G date and time still does not show your local time, goto Settings > General > Date & Time. Set your time zone and date and time accordingly.

  3. Tap on Clock and add your own country's clock to the application.

    This is just my personal preference because I'm not interested in Cupertino's time. :) I basically removed the Cupertino's clock and replaced it with Singapore.

Once you have setup your iPhone 3G, play around with the AppStore... There are many free applications you will be able to download and use into your iPhone.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's the business, stupid

Being a self-confessed news addict, I love to read about news that covers a wide range of topics. Recently in the local papers, there are many articles about the state of the economy and why the market reacted the way it did in the local newspapers.

I have to admire the ideas these crystal ball writers have when they write those columns. When the oil price is high, they say that inflation is spinning out of control, and if it doesn't fall, we will be heading to "doomsday". Now when oil price (and other commodities) is finally falling due to the drop in demand, these people said that the oil price is "too low", and because of the absence of "petrol dollars", the economy cannot be sustained. So the conclusion of these writers? No matter what happens, we're heading to "doomsday".

Seriously, I think they need to regulate the people writing those columns, and to ensure that the writers for that specific topics have qualifications on that topic itself. Saying that the Singapore economy is dependent on "petrol dollars" is like saying the economy is dependent on the people that strikes TOTO.

When we talk about the economy, we're talking about the businesses that makes up the economy. Knowing the state of the economy means that you need to identify the country's main businesses and sectors, and what drives it. You'll need to have knowledge on the different sectors, what businesses are currently driving those sectors, and the background of those businesses and what the businesses are dependent on.

What drives Singapore economy? Manufacturing stupid, not petrol dollars. Who are our biggest trading partners? Which countries do we export to? What's the domestic consumption like locally and for our trading partners? Will the fall in commodities worldwide drive up consumption?

I leave it to you to reach your own conclusions.

Force shutdown your iPhone

The only time I had to force shutdown my iPhone 3G was when I was running a newly installed application from AppStore. It just crashes the whole iPhone. That was when I started searching around for a way to force shutdown the iPhone 3G.

To force shutdown the iPhone 3G, just press down the power button first, followed by the home button. Hold the 2 buttons down until your screen changes.

That's it... A simple, but undocumented solution. Oh well. So far my iPhone has crashed in a few ways and this worked all the time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's the quality, not the quantity

Today's news again talk about our declining birth rate, and to me an idea that should never be thought of in the first place. Granted that this idea came from someone not in the policy making committee. This idea is to give single parent all the perks that Singapore families (2 parents) currently have.

I've nothing against single parent, and I do admire their courage in taking that route. However, I do not think that the government should encourage such behaviour. In anything that we do, we should always concentrate on the quality, and not the quantity. Many researches have shown that kids born into single families encounter the most problems. This is understandable because the single parent has to work doubly hard to ensure their survival.

The crux of the problem lies where the single parent has to work. The child suffers because the single parent has to work harder, and we have not even taken into account the single parent's parents.

When the child grows up without the support of any of the parents, they tend to encounter problems, be it in their personality or their attitude towards life. How many problems about youths that were reported in the news is due to kids whose parents are too busy at work or due to neglection? The writer should gather all the statistics from his colleagues in the news agency before giving such an idea.

Granted that this is not 100% of all cases and there are true gems, but the statistics are out there for all to see. Should the government risk it all and take this route? I have to say a firm no, for the sake of the future Singapore generation, and the low crime rate that Singapore currently enjoys. The low crime rate has everything to do with educational and family policies. The low crime rate is also one of the reasons why companies prefer to be based in Singapore, providing more jobs for Singaporeans. Everything links.

I do agree with the writer though that there's no turning back on the replacement policy because of the government emphasis on the economy. The only thing that we can do is to find a job that allows us ample family bonding time.

If the result is less pay, so be it. I prefer quality over quantity anytime.

Monday, September 1, 2008

iPhone 3G Keyboard Settings

As you're frequently typing on the iPhone 3G, it's important to ensure that the settings for your keyboard is optimal for your everyday use.

To set the iPhone 3G keyboard settings, just do the following:
  1. Tap on the Settings icon
  2. Tap on General > Keyboard
  3. Ensure Auto-Capitalization is on.

    This will ensure that if the keyboard detects that there's a full-stop, it will automatically capitalize the next letter.

  4. Ensure Enable Caps Lock is on.

    This will ensure that if you tap on the Shift key twice, you will activate the CAPS LOCK. To de-activate the CAPS LOCK, just tap on the Shift key twice again.

  5. Ensure "." Shortcut is on

    This will ensure that if you tap on the Space Bar twice, you will automatically insert a "full stop" and a space.

  6. Choose your other keyboards by clicking on International Keyboards. This is more for users who needs to write in other languages like Chinese or Japanese.

The iPhone 3G keyboard is also quite versatile. These are the 3 most important points which I think differentiates it from the rest of the smart phones:
  • The keyboard is able to correct your typing based on the letters that they will perceive you might type wrongly. For e.g., the word "You". If you type in "Yoi", its able to tell you that the word should "You".

    If you think the word you have typed in is correct (e.g. acronyms), then you just tap on the suggested word to indicate that you do not want to use that word.

    If you think the word suggested is correct, just tap the space bar, or the end of the line and the iPhone will auto-complete the word for you.

    The auto-correction feature is also smart enough such that if it detects you've enabled the CAPS LOCK, it will disable the feature as it assumes you're typing in an acronym.

  • The next question would be what happens if you want to insert a word in-between a sentence. Another hidden feature of the iPhone 3G is the magnifying glass.

    Identify the line which you wish to edit, and press on that line without letting go (not tapping). After a while, you'll see a magnifying glass appear, with the blinking cursor. The magnifying glass will magnify the words over the line that you have pressed on. Just position the cursor using the magnifying glass by moving your finger, without removing your finger from the screen.

    I find it quite useful if I want to edit my email, or my SMS. I do not need to erase all that I've written.

  • To change the keyboard to other languages like Chinese, just tap on the Globe icon next to the space bar. For example for the Chinese keyboard, the iPhone 3G recognizes your Chinese keystrokes.

    To change back, just tap on the Globe icon again. Simple case to switch languages, especially for me when I sometimes mix English and Chinese in my SMSes and emails.

I have previously used a Dopod D810 and personally to date, the iPhone 3G is the only touch-screen phone that enables me to SMS while walking. That was something I previously thought impossible...

It takes some time to get used to the iPhone 3G keyboard though. However, once you have gotten use to it, and trust in the auto correction spelling feature, you'll find that you can type reasonably fast on the iPhone.

Hope this helps in your typing... :)
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