Thursday, October 30, 2008

Integrated Resorts are delayed... As expected

Saw the newspapers today saying that our 2 integrated resorts (IR) will be delayed, and will not be fully opened (partially open) by 2010. Am I surprised? Heck no... I've been expecting them to announce that, just that I do not know why did they try so long before admiting that its mission impossible.

Is it their fault? I don't think so. One thing I find in common in those delayed projects is that some customers tend to think that it's their right to delay, and not adhere to agreed timings. Not only that, they expect the vendors to still deliver based on the original agreed timing, even though their timings slip.

Why do they have this mentality? I believe its because they have the mentality that if there's not enough time, throw more people to it. I thought they should have learned by now that "too many cooks spoil the broth". Sometimes, its not the quantity problem. It's the complexity and the qualilty problem. There is always a optimal configuration, and by adding more people, you can make the problem even more complex and cause further delay, instead of helping the project. Rarely people understand that.

Worst still, some have the mentality that the vendors purposely want to delay the project. Vendors are paid by milestones, upon completion of certain deliverables. They do not get paid monthly. If the project is delayed, the pay is delayed. Why on earth would a vendor recommend extending the deadline unless they have reasons to believe that this will help the project?

Now what other projects do I see that will be delayed? Off the top of my head, one will be the broadband project, the other will be our Sports Hub project (again). SOE project will most likely be delayed too. All have something in common... Guess?

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VirtualBox on the Mac now runs VHD, and supports Host Interface Networking

Updated 5 Nov 2008: Problem with compressed VHDs

It has been some time since I've installed VirtualBox on my Mac. I've written a post here on my experience previously.

VirtualBox has made some improvements for the Mac platform since then. Now host interface networking is available, meaning that I would be able to talk to my VM from my Mac since my VM has its own IP address. That would be useful if I need to run Oracle Express database for example.

The recent VirtualBox v2.04 has also just resolved the VHD problem. The previous versions of VirtualBox has a problem with VHD bigger than 4GB. I have successfully run a VHD of about 10GB by Microsoft using the latest VirtualBox. Not only that, I find that restoring snapshots seems to be quicker using this latest version. Hmm...

To use the VHD, refer to my previous post here. Under the section of Create a New Boot Harddisk, just select the VHD file instead. There was only one problem I've encountered with the VHD (Windows 2003 server). It seems that the guest additions do not work on the VHD, or it does not work on Windows 2003 server. It causes the Windows 2003 server to crash after I installed the guest additions.

Anyway that aside, it's easier now to demo on my Mac. And best of all... It's free. :)
Looks like I spoke too soon. I have tried out 2 VHDs from Microsoft on VirtualBox. Only 1 of them managed to start up. Both of them are writethrough VHDs. Once I rebooted, the Windows 2003 server gave a harddisk error. This leads me to believe that there's something wrong with VirtualBox's way of writing to the harddisk on VHD writethroughs.

Looks like I have to wait longer in order for me to use VirtualBox to demo VHDs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shortcut to Device Manager

This shortcut I think is more for advanced users. I realised that I have to access the Device Manager quite frequently to check on some information. There is a shortcut to access the Device Manager directly, instead of going through Control Panel > System.

Just do the following:
  1. Goto Start > Run
  2. Type devmgmt.msc

That's it...

Not to stop questioning

I quote from Albert Einstein:

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity

Sometimes I wonder why the world consist of so many people who just follows blindly based on the words, but not the meaning behind it.

Innovation is also because of curiosity. Curious on why does it happen this way. Curious on why it cannot be done in another way. Curious on why your dream cannot be a reality.

If there's no more curiosity, we would all be still travelling around in horses and carts. Stay curious...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Optimize your iPhone 3G Battery Life

Updated 16 Nov 2008: Fully charged battery indicator
Updated 29 Dec 2009: Added turning off of Notifications

Finally have time to write down some of my optimization tips for my iPhone 3G battery life. With an above-average usage of the iPhone 3G (some people think I'm a heavy usage user), the iPhone will last me about 2 days on a charge. On a low volume day, it's about 3 days on a charge.

The tip is very simple. All you need to do is to turn off your 3G/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth by default. To turn it off, do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings > General > Network
  2. Turn OFF the Enable 3G option
  3. Tap on Wi-Fi
  4. Turn OFF the Wi-Fi option
  5. Tap on General (back) > Bluetooth
  6. Turn OFF the Bluetooth option

For the newer iPhone OS 3.0. All you need to do is to turn off your Push Notifications. To turn it off, do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings > Notifications
  2. Turn OFF the Notifications option

That's it. To re-enable it, follow the same steps above, but turn the option ON instead. To further save on your battery life, refer to this tip on reducing the brightness of your iPhone here.

That's the simple part. Now the explanation on why this works. Reasons:
  1. 3G is a huge battery drain on any type of phone. I have friends using Nokia and Sony Ericson and they tell me that the phone usually lasts them only about a day.

  2. 3G Network blindspots makes the iPhone 3G works harder, draining its battery life.

    This is technically how I think the iPhone works. Basically if you enabled the 3G option, the iPhone will always try to connect to the 3G Network. However, regardless of what your telco say, the 3G network coverage does not completely cover the whole area. It has its blind spots.

    The problem comes when you hit the blindspot. For example, in Singapore's underground MRT stations. Underground, the EDGE network is the strongest. If you have enabled your 3G network, the iPhone will constantly try to connect to the 3G network while you're underground, although it is unable to find a 3G network. This actually drains your battery life very quickly as it's trying to scan for a 3G network belonging to your Telco constantly, among all the other signals that's broadcasting over the air.

    The EDGE network in Singapore is more predominant, and its even available underground. Disabling the 3G option will stop the constant scanning of signals, which in turn gives you better battery life.

  3. Technically, the 3G technology promises a lot, but fall short on a few things. One of which is constant streaming of information from the 3G network while on the move.

    For example, if I'm in the MRT, its constantly moving from location to location. During its movement, your phone might have seemlessly switched between different base stations as the MRT is moving.

    The problem comes because you might be downloading something from one base station, but because you have moved out of range, the phone will connect to the next nearest base station. The telco's network would have to be smart enough to detect how much information has been downloaded to your phone, and re-route the rest of the information to the base station you're connected to now for you to continue the download.

    Now back to the iPhone 3G. Just by connecting to the normal phone network, the iPhone takes little battery power. The draining of the battery only comes when you're trying to receive data information. Therefore, the iPhone 3G only connects to the data network on a on-demand basis, to preserve battery life.

    So if you are currently now using Safari on the iPhone and downloading a very graphics intensive page, the iPhone would have to open a data connection and constantly probe this connection for data until it has finish downloading the page. If you're not on the move, its fine. But if you're on the move, the problem might come because the iPhone would be constantly trying to retrieve information from the base station because it does not detect that the download of data is completed. Sometimes when switching between base stations, the data download might be disrupted, and your Safari would be fruitlessly trying to retrieve information from the base station until Safari time-out, telling you that it is unable to connect to the network. This drains battery life, even if you're on the EDGE network!
For the reasons for turning the Wi-Fi/Buetooth off, its the same logic as turning off your Wi-Fi/Bluetooth when you're using your laptop. Without enabling your laptop's Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, the laptop battery lasts longer. Period. The explanation is roughly similar to the above.

Push notifications is something new to iPhone OS 3.0. What it essentially does is to have a small agent running in the background, constantly polling the applications servers for updates. This uses up less memory than having multiple applications open at the same time. However, this also means that the iPhone is working even though your application may not have anything to report. Personally, I disabled it because if I wish to be notified, I'll usually just open that particular application. The only notifications I need are SMSes and missed calls. Likewise, I've also disabled (switched to Manual) the Fetch New Data in Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars for the same reasons.

This is based on my own observations on how the iPhone might work. Therefore, I adjusted my usage to optimize the battery life. This is what I've done:
  1. My iPhone 3G perpectually is always on EDGE signal as most of the time, I am on the move with the phone. Since EDGE signal almost covers the whole of Singapore (at least for Singtel) except for some rare blindspots, my iPhone will not have a problem connecting to a network.

  2. The iPhone 3G is best suited for burst data, meaning grabbing of small amount of information at any point of time. Example would include using RSS reader, Google Maps, or reading of emails. Therefore when I am on the move, I usually only read RSS feeds (e.g. Bloomberg), or read my emails.

    Yes, for emails, its usually working on burst mode, which actually conforms with what the iPhone is meant to do. The retrieval of email headers in Mail is not data intensive, and can even be easily and quickly retrieved even on an EDGE network, although the 3G network will make the retrieval almost instantaneous.

    I will only switch to a 3G network or a Wi-FI network when I hang around a certain area, like an office or shopping mall. This I would do on an ad-hoc basis, if I need to surf around.

    I will always try to connect to a Wi-FI network first, followed by the 3G network. Reason is because Wi-FI actually uses less battery than the 3G network for some reason. With the availability of free hot-spots in Singapore, it has becomes a habit of mine to search for these hotspots when I need a fast connection.

    Before I make my move, I will switch back to EDGE network by turning off the Wi-FI or/and 3G network.

  3. I will only connect to AppStore when I'm charging my iPhone 3G on my laptop. Downloading apps and updates from the AppStore could be quite battery draining so I will only do that when my iPhone is plugged in. Usually I will use Wi-Fi to download.

Things to note about the battery indicator on the iPhone:
  1. When you charge the iPhone, take note that the battery indicator is charged to full. The first time I charge my iPhone, I've actually mistaken the iPhone to be fully charged, but in actual fact it is not.

    The green indicator should extend all the way to the end, with no gap inbetween the green indicator and the top of the battery. Refer to the image below on how the battery indicator will look like if its fully charged.

    It would be good if the next iPhone firmware patch will provide some sort of indicator if the battery is fully-charged. Refer to this post here on the iPhone 3G fully charged battery indicator. Less observant users will always be half-charging their iPhone, because I understand that the iPhone practises rapid charging, where the last 10% of the battery will charge slower.

  2. The iPhone 3G will give off a warning if it falls below the 20% battery life indicator.

  3. The iPhone 3G will give off a last warning if it falls below the 10% battery life indicator. This is the last warning indicator.

The last time I hit the 20% battery life indicator, the iPhone actually lasted me about 4+ hours more until I reached home. Yes, I was still using it during this time. :)

Hope this helps...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Retiring IT personnel less than those coming into the line?? Like real

Just read an article recently that states that the people coming into the IT line is more than the ones retiring from it. My first reaction... Like real!

Based on my network of IT friends, almost all have left the IT line, and they are not even in the retirement age. Most have completely switched out of IT.

The problem with IT line, especially in Singapore, is that we're expected to be superhuman. Most of the IT personnel in Singapore is in the software engineering line, making custom software for customers. This is why I think we're expected to be superhuman:
  1. We're expected to be well-versed in the technological aspect, inclusive of hardware and software, and yet, understand the different business process that happens in different types of industry

  2. We're always told that anything is possible in software development, even though many of these things are limited by the technology chosen, future scalability of the product, and most importantly hardware. Some aspects directly contradict each other.

  3. We see weird things in the specifications that contradict one another. When we query about it, we were told to just build it. When we try to reason with them, we get scolded.

There are many other stupid things that happen in the IT line, and I'm only touching on the developers portion. In project management, its even worst. You get a whole new set of problems. Pre-sales too.

People coming into IT line to replace those leaving? Like real... I've seen many of those supposedly IT personnel. Heck. Even my dad can do better than that, and his previous job is not even IT related. And yes... He's retired.

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Nissin's Cup Noodles contain insecticide!!

Now with all the melamine issues with China products, it seems that not only China is guilty of below average quality. Japan, which I once associated with good quality assurance, is also guilty!!

One Japanese 67 year old woman fell ill after eating Nissin's Cup Noodles and tests shown that it contains insecticide!! That is produced in a Japanese plant, not China plant!

Even in Singapore, I've heard of Nissin's Cup Noodles. What on earth is wrong with the quality of products nowadays?? Why is everyone cutting corners??

Friday, October 24, 2008

Force power-up your iPhone 3G

Just today my iPhone 3G started crashing on me after I updated some apps in AppStore. At one point, my iPhone power-off by itself and refused to power up

Normal power-up step:
  • Press the power/standby button and hold it there for a few seconds

I tried the above for about 5-10 seconds but nothing happened.

To force it to power-up:
  • Press the Home button, hold it there, followed by the power/standby button, and hold it there.

This time, it powered up, but it took a longer time than normal to start-up.

Anyway, I found that the offending application that cause my iPhone to crash should be the "Free RSS Reader". They've just enabled the background notification in the latest patch and it seems that the way they've done it cause it to crash.

After "taking out" the background notification, my iPhone is back to normal. I've known this force power-up for sometime, but I've never got to try it. Good to see that it works. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inflation is up 6.7%

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%
September: 6.7%

Food and Housing is leading the charge, rising by 8.2% and 14.6% respectively year on year. I'm surprised though that food costs for September did not go much lower compared to August. October might see another spike in Housing costs due to the 21% increase in electricity bills. This should be slightly offset by the lower petrol prices.

Judging from the current trend, inflation for this year will be very close to 7%. Estimation would put the rate at around 6.8%. I've never seen such a high Singapore inflation rate before. Then again, I'm not that old.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Save only 0.4% of disposable income??

Wow! Just read an article that states that according to OECD statistics for 2007, America only saves 0.4% of disposable income, compared to Germany's 10.9 percent and Japan's 3.1%

0.4%?? That's like non-existent savings. Before 2000, their savings have been an average of 9%. No wonder America has been considered a nation of spenders. I think the current crisis in America would have hit them quite hard, as there is no buffer for any kind of crisis.

It would be good for the Americans to reach about 9-10% level of savings again. 0.4% is extremely unhealthy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Live By Your Words

I quote from John Fitzgerald Kennedy:

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

Action speaks louder than words. Give advice all you want, but if you don't live by what you preach, then you might as well not say it. Words are empty, and easy to say.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shaking with anger

Often in books, I've read "shaking with anger" without truly understanding what it means. The gist of it means that you're very angry.

I finally understood the meaning of shaking with anger. It's constrained anger! The feeling where you really want to lash out at the person, but you can't due to some reason. I have never ever in my life felt this kind of anger before until now. It's seething and its frightening. And yes... You're really shaking with anger.

I think I need to cool down. Ignorance is bad. Believing in your own ignorance is fatal.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's OK to wait for Windows 7

Just read this ZDNet article here where Steve Ballmer himself said its okay to wait for Windows 7. I think this just proves that Vista was rushed out to the market too soon. Judging that Windows 7 will have the same architecture as Vista, most likely I will not even think of Windows 7. I can always go Linux or Mac.

Currently, I'm surviving very well with a Mac on a corporate environment. I will think that unless its for games, there will not be any reason for me to remain in Windows. But then again, I'm still using a Windows XP Pro machine. I still prefer using that, where all my applications even back in the days of Win95 can work.

Worst come to worst, I'll dig out my Win98SE.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MacBook Refresh 2008

Updated 25 Oct 2008: No longer pending agency approval


MacBook Pro

MacBook Air

Yes... The new MacBooks are finally refreshed into a new look. These images are taken from Apple Store Singapore. They sure look beautiful. The MacBook itself is made from one precision aluminium unibody.

Other than the new look, there are some other "hidden" stuff in the new series for 2008:
  1. Intel chipset with 1066MHZ frontside bus, 3MB shared L2 cache (Pro and Air is 6MB)

  2. DDR3 memory. Most laptops only have DDR2. Memory is faster.

  3. LED-backlit display. That means better battery life.

  4. Multi-touch trackpad. Finger gestures similar to the iPod Touch and iPhone

  5. MacBook and MacBook Air are using the Nvidia 9400M chipset, which is 5x faster than the old Intel X3100 chipset.

    The MacBook Pro has 2 chipsets! One is the same as the MacBook, and the other is the Nvidia 9600M GT with 256/512 MB GDDR3 memory. Yes... DDR3. The reason for the 2 chipsets I understand is that they want to conserve battery. Normal usage will only activate the 9400M chipset. The Mac somehow will switch to the other chipset if you require more graphical processing power.

Battery power with all these processing power? According to their statistics, its about 5 hours with wireless connectivity. That's equivalent to my current MacBook's lifespan too. Not to mention that its lighter than my current MacBook.

There is one catch though. For some reason in Apple Singapore website, it states that all the new series are pending agency approval. I've never seen it before. Only the white MacBook (not the new series) is available for sale (slightly below $1,600).


It's no longer pending agency approval. Today's papers advertised that some sale is happening at epicentre.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vivocity doesn't even have Edge signal

Stupid Vivocity doesn't even have EDGE signal. Such a big shopping mall and no EDGE signal. Even Habourfront has EDGE signal.

Guess what's the funny part? The moment I am near the Habourfront MRT station, the EDGE signal comes back. The MRT has signal and not the mall?

The only shopping mall that I've been to without EDGE signal.

Google StreetView coming to Singapore!

It seems that Google StreetView will be coming to Singapore. First touted in T-Mobile Android phone, streetview is an extension of Google Maps that basically helps you to find your sense of direction. :) It seems that CNet Asia has reported that they've spotted this car around Singapore. More on the article here.

According to rumours, the new iPhone 2.2 firmware will also contain Google StreetView, and the emoji emoticons. iPhone 2.2 firmware suppose to be out this month.

Technology is moving along fast. Sometimes I really wonder why do I get myself stuck in doing SI (System Integration) when what I really want to do is to drive a product out, based on my ideas.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tune down the brightness of your iPhone 3G

By default, at least in Singapore, the iPhone 3G will come with the brightness setting tuned to full. I will usually tune down my brightness settings for 2 main reasons:
  1. Looking at the device when it's too bright will spoil your eyes
  2. It saves on the battery life

Furthermore, the iPhone 3G has an unique setting that I've not seen in other phones. That's something called Auto-Brightness. Basically, this setting will auto-adjust the brightness of the phone depending on the environment. For example, under the sun, the iPhone 3G will automatically brighten up to a level that allows you to use the iPhone 3G. It will also automatically dim when you go to a less bright environment.

Therefore, when adjusting the brightness of your iPhone, you do not need to take into account whether you can see it in the sun. The iPhone will automatically brighten the screen up for you in the sun. Just adjust the brightness such that you can read the iPhone comfortably in your normal environment.

To lower the brightness of your iPhone 3G, do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings > Brightness
  2. Adjust the brightness setting using the slider bar
  3. Ensure your Auto-Brightness is ON

That's it...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Miss being in the main ensemble

Just read the newsletter for Genus and I realised how much I miss being in the main guitar ensemble. Yup. I used to be one of those people who's one of the first to move guitars before practice starts, and never fail to go for Sat dinners. How much things have changed since I withdrew from the main ensemble. I miss the gossips too, although I still hear things now and then. :)

On why I withdrew from the main ensemble, let's just leave it that I had to make a choice due to some reason and I've chosen. Anyway, my work load has steadily been increasing and I'm having lesser and lesser time for myself. In fact, I think my guitar skills have started to deteriorate. :(

I really envy the times I was in the main ensemble, and when Expose first started out. I guess this is part of growing up. Nevertheless, I will try to make time for Expose. It's the only linkage I've left to guitar. After working for so long, I need a linkage back to something that's not software related.

Anyway, on a happy note, I've found another use for my iPhone. I'm usually quite lazy to bring my guitar tuner and now my iPhone has a guitar application that will give me the guitar sounds of the 6 strings. Hahahahaha. I was trying out the tuner application but I think tuning by ear is more accurate for now. :)

I've also found a metronome application called iTick, but I've no way of knowing how accurate is the beat. I've tried 152 beats per minute and I ended up with my fingers all tangled up at Carmen Suite. :p Thank goodness we're not going that fast. I think my fingers can only go up to 132 beats a minute.

Darn... I'm feeling old now.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Importing SIM contacts from your iPhone 3G

I happened to come across some posts that says that they cannot import SIM contacts from the iPhone 3G. That's funny because that's one of the first few functions I was playing with.

To import your SIM contacts, just do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendar
  3. Scroll down to the Contacts section and tap on Import SIM Contacts

That's all to it. Do take note that importing your contacts from the SIM card might take some time. If my memory serves me correctly, I took like 1-2 minutes just to import 10 contacts (new SIM card) based on the 2.02 firmware. I'm not sure if there is any improvements for the new v2.1 firmware. I recommend that you do it when your iPhone 3G is plugged in. :)

One thing that I do know is that the iPhone 3G is unable to store contact details directly to the SIM card. Therefore, all your contacts, old or new, will be in the phone memory.

Windows XP extended again to Jul 2009

Good news for all supporters of Windows XP. Windows XP is extended again to Jul 2009.

For those who are buying machines with Vista Ultimate or Vista Business, you'll be able to get XP Media together with your machine, if you request for it. Either that or it could be factory downgraded. Supposedly, this is available online too but I can't see it in Dell's website.

Judging from this extension, I would say its wise to wait for Windows 7 instead. The component architecture of Windows 7 should be quite interesting, if its true.

I've been using my current Dell with Windows XP Pro for about 10 months. So far I'm quite satisfied with it and it has been blazingly fast for my daily needs, and that includes playing my Mask Of the Betrayer. Contrary to what I've heard, I've no such problems of spoiled motherboard, crashing components etc.

My last Fujitsu laptop lasted me 7 years before the LCD screen gave up on me. Let me see how long this Dell will last for me.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Updated 5 Oct 2008: Mmmbop Lyrics

Had a rough day at work. Don't feel like doing anything else. Suddenly I feel like listening to this song again. The amazing thing is that even though I rarely listen to English songs, I happen to know this song a long time ago. This is Hanson's first single, Mmmbop, back in 1997 I think. This is the original pitch, before their voices broke. :D

(I. Hanson/T. Hanson/Z. Hanson)

Oh Oh

Oh, Oh

Oh Yeah

You have so many relationships in this life,
But only one or two will last.
You go through all the pain and strife,
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast.

Oh yeah. And they're gone so fast. yeah

Oh, so hold on to the ones who really care,
In the end they'll be the only ones there.
When you get old and start losing your hair,
Can you tell me who will still care?
Can you tell me who will still care?

Oh, oh yeah!


MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah

said Oh yeah, in an MMMBop they're gone. Yeah.
yeah eh yeah

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose,
You can plant any one of those.
Keep planting to find out which one grows.
It's a secret no one knows.
It's a secret no one knows.
Oh, 'oes no one knows.

MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah

in an MMMbop they're gone,
in an MMMbop they're not there
in an MMMbop they're gone,
in an MMMbop they're not there

Until you lose your hair,
oh oh, But ya dont care

yeah yeh

MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo

eh yeah

Eh can ya tell me, Oh,
You Know you can but you dont know

can ya tell me, Oh yeah
You Say you can but you dont know

Can ya tell me?
Ohhh, You Know you can but you dont know
(in background/alternate [ib/a]: Can you tell me which flower's going to grow)

Can ya tell me?
You Say you can but you dont know
(ib/a: Can you tell me if it's going to be a daisy or a rose)

can ya tell me?
You say you can but you dont know
(ib/a: Can you tell me which flower's going to grow)

Can you tell me?
You say you can but ya dont know,
you say you can but you don't know

You dont know huh
dont know whoa oh a whoaa, Oh

Doo ba
Doo Ba
Yeah e Yeah

MMMbop Ohh yeah
Doo ba
Doo Ba
Oh yeah e

MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
yeah eh yeah
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
oh oh a whoa
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
oh a whoa
MMMbop bidubida ba do ba
dubi da ba do ba
bidubida ba doo
ohh yeah e yeah e

Eh can you tell me?
Oh, Ya know ya can but ya dont know
Can you tell me?
You say you can but ya dont knowwwwww
Say ya can but cha dont knowww

Don't (or No)

US Election Politics again

Here they go again. Now those people up there are saying that hey, you do not need to spend USD700 billion. All you need is to spend USD250billion first. After Nov, you can request for more money.

Hello!! That is no difference from the current bailout because beyond the first USD250 billion, approval is needed by president or Congress! Now they want to send it all back to the drawing board for this stupid reason??

The only stupid reason I can think of for this kind of request is that they do not want to go down in history where they approved the biggest bailout since record keeping started. If they rejected this bailout again, they will escape the biggest bailout in history and the next US President has to do this deed. That is provided there is a US economy left to save.

Another stupid rumour that came out is the cutting of Fed rates. Hello!! Have they recently look at the rates and realised that it is no where near the Fed current rates? Interest rates is also sometimes proportionate to the risk. The higher the risk, the more is demanded for the risk premium. In this kind of volatile environment, low interest rate is absolutely of no use, especially when its a crisis of confidence! The only outcome of cutting rates now is stroking up inflation just as when inflation is easing downwards to help the businesses to contain costs.

These people are trying to prolong the downturn...

Stupid politics...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CPF Property Changes from 1st Jan 2009

Finally I saw something in the CPF website here that says something about the CPF rule change announced some time back.

From 1st Jan 2009, if you sell your property purchased using your CPF savings, you will need to return to your CPF the amount that you've withdrawn from the CPF for the property, including accrued interest. The amount to be returned is capped to your minimum sum.

If your bank has first charge over your loan (non HDB loan), the bank loan has to be settled first before money is returned to CPF. If CPF has first charge (HDB loan), the amount will be returned to your CPF first.

These are 2 examples from the CPF website:

Example 1
Member X is 58 years old and intends to sell his property.

(a) Member’s Minimum Sum $90,000
(b) Balances in Retirement Account (excluding interest earned) $30,000
(c) Property pledge plus the accrued interest on the pledge $51,000
(Property was pledged for $45,000 at age 55)
(d) Principal CPF withdrawn for the property plus the accrued interest $100,000

If he sells his property before 1 January 2009, he has to refund the property pledge plus the accrued interest on the pledge of $51,000 to his CPF Retirement Account (RA).

If he sells his property on or after 1 January 2009, he has to refund $60,000 [i.e. (a) – (b)] to his RA to meet his full Minimum Sum.

Example 2
Member Y is 60 years old and intends to sell his property. However, he has used less CPF moneys for his property, and has pledged his property for a lower amount.

(a) Member’s Minimum Sum $80,000
(b) Balances in Retirement Account (excluding interest earned) $30,000
(c) Property pledge plus the accrued interest on the pledge $39,000
(Property was pledged for $33,000 at age 55)
(d) Principal CPF withdrawn for the property plus the accrued interest $37,000

If he sells his property before 1 January 2009, he has to refund the property pledge plus the accrued interest on the pledge of $39,000 to his RA.

If he sells his property on or after 1 January 2009, he only needs to refund $37,000 [i.e. (d)] to his RA. This is because while he needs another $50,000 [i.e. (a) – (b)] to meet his full Minimum Sum, he has only withdrawn $37,000 (including accrued interest) from his CPF for the property.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What is the bailout all about

Everyone seems to have the misconception that the bailout is like giving away free money to private companies, but if you look into perspective, you will see what this bailout is all about.

In my opinion, the bailout must contain these 3 most important points:
  1. Enable the banks to lend to each other again

    I think is pretty much the reason why we're having the crisis in the first place. All banks are hoarding cash, refusing to lend to anyone because of the lack of trust.

  2. New regulations on how to value illiquid assets.

    The current mark-to-market value is a huge joke

    This is also the reason why this crisis spawned out. According to the figures from the internet, only 10% of the borrowers are defaulting. If you minus off the sub-prime people, its even lesser. Why on earth should I value something that I've no intention of selling?

    The valuing of such assets should be similar to accounts receivables. The amount would be the total amount received if there are no defaults. If there are any defaults, just add the impairment value in. If at some point of time they intend to sell, then shift it to investment assets, which will use the standard mark-to-value method.

  3. Buying the mortgage loans at hold to maturity values

    Similar to point 2, if I have no intention of selling, I should be paying for the assets at a slight discount to "book value", which is the value I will get if there are no defaults. The discount will depend on the number of estimated defaults, and the "profit margin".

What people don't know is that if there are no defaults, basically its not a bailout at all. Its just a shifting of owners for the mortgage loans to someone with more financial clout. In the end, everyone will get back the money.

In fact, the US government can alter the terms of the loan, making the interest more affordable, and stretching the payment cycle so that in essence, they will still get back the whole amount. Just that it will take a little longer.

Politics is a huge waste of time.

Stupid politics

Yeah man. The bailout plan got rejected! Why? The real reason isn't stated but I bet it has everything to do with the upcoming presidential election.

As much as everyone detest the Wall Street CEOs earning millions every year, one has to bear in mind that the banks are essentially licenced moneylenders. The banks are the ones keeping the businesses going. Most businesses loan money from the banks to keep their cashflow going.

So what happens if the banks fail?? Normal people won't be affected?? Like real... Every single one of us will be affected, and you'll start seeing normal businesses going bankrupt because cashflows cannot be met.

Using an analogy, its like the relationship between a parent and a child. Sometimes when you know the child is wrong, you have to correct the child. Otherwise, it might have serious repercussions when the child grows up.

But in this case, I suspect that because of the upcoming election, the parent chose to listen to the child. How dire the consequence is? I think we will all see.

Another thing. What the heck are normal politicians voting on economic reforms?? Are they trained in economics in the first place?? Do they know what the heck they are voting for? Some of the weird things they recommend like changing the terms such that the principal of the loan is being reduced. You can do that when you have a budget surplus, not when you have the biggest budget deficit in the world.

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