Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spend within your means

With the recession looming, there are many ideas floating around on how to survive through the recession. However, some of the ideas going around are actually detrimental to the economy recovery. The top most idea that was floated around:

Save as much money as possible until the economy recovers

However, this is one of the worst possible action that one can do during a recession. One has to remember. How does the economy function? It's a buyer, seller relationship. Why do we have jobs? Because some needs our services, or products that we create. Why do we have salaries? That's our payment for the services rendered, or products produced. This is the economy.

So what happens if you ask people to save as much as possible? People get retrenched. Period. There will be no buyers in the market, and left are all the sellers. Prices will be driven downwards (deflation), causing people to lose more jobs. Industries will be shaken up, and consolidated, leading to more jobs lost. The skills that you have acquired will be rendered useless. Depression will set in, causing the downward vicious cycle to spiral even deeper.

Just that simple selfish thought can cause this amount of damage that will inadvertly cause your own misery. And because this thought is the "easiest" way out for most, the herd mentality will follow, where everyone tries to do it. Singapore will be gone. Period.

Nevertheless, given the current climate, it's obviously not prudent to spend like no tomorrow. The key is to spend within your means. Spend when you can afford to. Pay down your debts when you can so that you have less liabilities. Contribute when you can.

Keep the economy going if it is within your power. The effects will reach you eventually.

If you still intend to be lazy, then I'll encourage you to read books about the Great Depression from the library. That will be the conclusion if you take the easy way out.

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Inaccurate reporting in Today?? (CORRECTED)

Updated: 27 Dec 2008: 3.1million barrels is for crude oil

Just read in Today that they mention that oil prices fell to USD35 even though there was a decline of US inventories by 3.1million barrels.

However, that is not what I read in Bloomberg and Reuters. According to Bloomberg, it fell because there was an increase of 3.34million barrels for US gasoline inventories. Distillate stockpiles also climbed 1.81million barrels. What decline are they talking about??

This year I've heard of at least 2 grossly inaccurate reports. One was by the Chinese newspaper with regards to the white tiger fiasco, and now this.

With such inaccurate reporting, can I still trust what the Singapore media says?

Update: The decrease of 3.1 million barrels of oil is for US crude oil inventories. However, the increase of US gasoline and distillate stockpiles more than offset the reduction because in the end, no one uses crude oil.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

VirtualBox 2.1 does not support VHD again.

I wonder if it's the trend that Microsoft products are never compatible with any other software. The latest VirtualBox 2.1 now prevents me from even adding my VHD file. Some header problem.

I know it is VirtualBox's problem because that same VHD file worked (for a short time) with VirtualBox 2.0.6. Anyway, I have given up trying to make VHD work with VirtualBox until the next version comes out.

There's also still a problem with the Network Adapter if you have 2 adapters configured for the same VM. I usually have 1 NAT adapter, and 1 Host adapter. I've only enable 1 at any time, but somehow, Windows XP keeps detecting that there is 2 and it keeps trying to connect to the disabled adapter. It's just a little irritating for it to keep connecting to an adapter that's disabled.

On a side note, the Mac version has improved and now VT-x/AMD-V is supported again. How do I know? Because my Windows XP on VirtualBox started to slow down, and my Mac is a little faster when VirtualBox is on. If you want to speed up your VirtualBox, just do not enable VT-x/AMD-V in the settings.

Saving and restoring snapshots are still quite fast. Now I have a habit of not even shutting down my VM. I just close the VM to save the current snapshot. :)

One thing to note before you upgrade your VirtualBox, is that to make sure to shutdown all your VMs before updating. Otherwise, your snapshots will be invalid after the update. I've made the same mistake every single time I updated VirtualBox. :(

Now... If only the VHD problem is resolved.

Inflation is up 5.5%

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%
August: 6.4%
September: 6.7%
October: 6.4%
November: 5.5%

Food and Housing is leading the charge, rising by 6.9% and 15.7% respectively year on year. One thing that I did not expect is that food, and recreation and others went down by almost 1% compared to last month. It just goes to show conditions can change drastically in 1 month.

Judging from the current economic conditions, inflation will be around 6.6% for the year 2008, down from my earlier estimate of 6.8% here. If it persists, we might have deflation for the first half of the 2009. Good or bad? Depends...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My file and umbrella weights 1.4kg

Mich was remarking to me that my CC-150 wasn't that light. Refer to this post here for the pictures of my CC-150. I could have swore that it is much lighter than my hard case.

Well, I've just changed my case back to the original CC-150 after a mix-up due to a loose screw and for the fun of it, I weigh my guitar case and compared it with my hard case.

Weight of hard case with guitar: 5.1kg
Weight of CC-150 with guitar: 3.6kg.
Weight of CC-150 with guitar, music file and umbrella: 5kg

So my music file and umbrella actually weighs 1.4kg! If you use percentage, it increases the weight by almost 40%. I wonder if it is my music file. So Mich, yes... The umbrella and my music file does matter in the weight calculation. :D

The weight of the hard case is also without my standard barang barang like music file and umbrella. Usually I have to bring an extra bag to contain those items.

Anyway, hard foam guitar case does not mean that it only contains foam. Due to the "screw loose" problem, I've realised that the whole guitar case is actually backed partially by wood. Therefore, it's actually quite solid and could withstand knocks. I guess that's why it is called hard foam.

All in all, I find the guitar case ideal for people who doesn't have their own set of wheels.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One people, one nation, 16 town councils??

Read another article today that they are going to toy with the suggestion of giving more autonomy to the town councils. One of the example they gave was USA, where different states have some level of autonomy.

Singapore is already a small enough country, and yet now they want to split Singapore into 16 portions. Some of the examples given of the pros of this system I felt is destructive in the long run.

For example, let's say one of the town councils say that all their residents felt that they should not have worker's dormitories in their area. After which, all the town councils will most likely say all their residents do not want to have worker's dormitories in their area (hypothetical). What will then happen? In the end, where will it be built? Or will it be somehow pushed to the opposition wards? What happens if one of the town councils say that the industrial factories should not be in their area? Push it all to IDR?

In fact, if we learned from the current situation where nobody actually knows what the town councils are investing in, there should be more oversight to ensure that the town councils are in-line with the guidelines. It should not be the case that when a crisis happen, everyone goes into damage control mode.

Singapore should be working towards a common goal. We're small enough as it is. Let's not be further sub-divided into 16 parts. Everybody plays a part in the overall progress, not apart. Decentralisation is an over-hyped word and used carelessly by many. The government should always provide clear and transparent leadership, with an overall plan on how things should be. The respective councils will then follow these guidelines and implement the policies.

Remember our National Day song. "One people, one nation, one Singapore". It's not "One people, one nation, 16 town councils".

Renewable energy investment will accelerate

Again I see an article with a tinch of biasness in the reporting. It's like asking someone who operates a food stall whose food is the best. Obviously they will say theirs is the best.

This instance is about energy investment. I counted no less than 2 articles today talking about the cost of oil and how it will lead to a reduction in investment in both oil and renewable energy. I was thinking, what the... What do they mean by oil and renewable energy? It's oil investment. Full-stop. In fact, I think renewable energy now will accelerate as the governments in the world will want to stop relying on an energy source that does not depend on demand, but depends on the price that it will fetch.

Reason? When they look into the problem, they forgot one most important point. Oil investments depend on your location. If you have the resource, you have the power to invest in oil. Using Singapore as an example, no matter how rich she is, she could never invest in oil because the simple fact is that Singapore has no oil.

Renewable energy is vastly different. Even Singapore's small outlying islands like Sentosa can invest in renewable energy. Recently, it finally went into Singapore's head to invest in renewable energy like solar panels because they finally understood that it has its benefits.

Most importantly, self-reliance in energy. Singapore has learned the hard way with regards to the supply of water and now Singapore is the leader in desalination technology. Why not in solar panels?

Next is the portability of solution. Some renewable energy investment like solar is not reliant on any form of natural resource except for sunlight. And sunlight is free and limitless, depending on your location.

Last but not least is the economy. Let's say Singapore becomes the leader in production of efficient solar panels. The export volume will be substantial.

All those talk about solar energy not being efficient is just people trying to talk down the technology. Just remember... The first generation of the car travels slower than the horse carriage. Look at the car now. F1 anyone?

There are other types of renewable energy like geothermal but I feel that solar still has the biggest potential. Some time back I've talked about solar panels on roof tops and this year, it has actually happened in Singapore and US. Now it's also being installed on top of cars and most recently, a ship. Efficiency of solar panels can only be improved.

Oil still has its usefulness but some people just like to hype up the importance.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mistakes are the foundations of success

I quote from Albert Einstein:

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Simple, and to the point. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Learn from it, and do not make the same mistake again.

Success will come when we earn it through the mistakes we make in achieving it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

High Tech Shavers

This is a weird post but I can't help but marvel that now, even shavers look so high-tech, and gadgetty. I've just got a Gillette Fusion, and I can't help but admire the way it is packaged. In fact, after looking at the packaging, I might mistaken it for some instrument that is meant for the space shuttle. :)

Anyway, below are some of the photos I took of the shaver so you'll know what I mean:

Shaver with the holder

Detached blade holder from the bottom

Futuristic carrier for the shaver

What are the ministers' salary benchmark to

Updated 17 Dec 2008: Salary benchmark is based on base + bonuses

For some reason or another, it went into my head to search around for the elusive formula which is used by our government to peg their salaries to the private sector.

This is what I've found out from PSD:
  • For the benchmark data, only earnings of Singapore citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents, and Malaysians working in Singapore are included.

  • The benchmarks are based on Principal Earned Income which has been taxed. These consist of earnings from the individual’s primary source of employment and include monthly salaries, bonuses, stock options, partnershipfees and commissions. Unearned and passive forms of income, such as dividends, rent and interest, are excluded.

  • Stock options are included in the salaries of the top income earners. However, the gains from stock options vested each year are discounted by 50%. This means we only take half of the stock option gains in the current year, as current year income. This is because the amount of stock options are usually accumulated over a few years, and the gains may be quite large. Taking the total gains would cause incomes to escalate, and is not a good reflection of the actual earnings.

In fact, according to PSD in end 2007, these are the following base monthly salaries:
  • President: $119,520
  • Prime Minister: $115,920
  • Minister/Senior Permanent Secretary: $59,760
  • Entry Superscale Grade: $18,240
  • Member of Parliament: $13,710

Using the example of the prime minister, his base annual salary will be less than $1.4million, not the floated $3.87 million, which will be his salary + whatever bonuses.

Now the million dollar question is... Which pay got cut? The base? Or just the bonuses? What other extras are there in the salary?

Sometimes I do not understand why the government like to shoot themselves in their own foot.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Little Information on Singapore Electricity Tariffs

I was reading a forum article today that was "admonishing" people that EMA's website has all the information about how they calculate the electricity tariffs.

So for curiosity sake, I went there to take a look. After reading for about 1 hour, I'm still clueless on the number 1 question in my mind.

What's the breakdown of Singapore's electricity tariffs and how is it calculated every 3 months?

In fact, the only linkage I have on the breakdown of the electricity tariffs was at SP Services. Even then, it's solely inadequate. According to SP Services on the electricity tariff:
  1. 60% of the cost is pegged to fuel prices.

  2. 80% of Singapore's power generation use comes from natural gas

  3. Natural gas is pegged to fuel oil prices. As tariffs are set in advance for the next three months, the tariffs are pegged to forward fuel oil prices. Forward fuel oil prices are the actual prices which the oil market trades for fuel oil deliveries for a future period.

  4. Electricity meters are read once in two months and estimated in between. Any over- or under-estimation is adjusted when the actual reading is obtained.

  5. Readings will be estimated based on the last two actual readings. The difference in the actual meter readings gives the actual consumption over the two-month period. Daily average consumption is derived by dividing the actual total consumption by the number of days during this period. The daily average consumption multiplied by the number of days in the month gives the consumption for that month.

That's it! That's all the information I can gather from clicking around for 1 full hour, and it's not even at EMA's website.

Transparency of our electricity tariffs?? Like real.

Happiness II

I quote from Helen Keller:

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.

The key point is the part about what we think and feel and do. The choice is yours if you wish to be happy or not. The choice is always yours whether you wish to be happy or not.

Always look on the bright side of life. Da da, da da da da da da.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Household saving rates going up for many countries

Based on the OECD latest forecast, I can see that out of the 20 countries listed, only 2 countries will have a slightly lower household saving rates compared with 2008. The rest are mostly significantly higher.

United States is estimated to have a household savings rate of 1.6% for 2008, and forecasted to raise to 2.8% in 2009. Some of the biggest jumps I see in the 2009 estimates is Norway, where it jumps from 2.0% to 5.2%, and Australia, where it jumps from 1.4% to 3.5%.

Note that 10% savings rate is actually what's recommended for the bare minimum.

This is the current household savings rate for 2008 for the top 5 and bottom 5 countries from OECD:
France 12.7
Switzerland 12.6
Austria 11.8
Germany 11.6
Ireland 10.6
Norway 2.0
United States 1.6
Australia 1.4
Denmark -1.9
Finland -2.7

Feeling tired

I'm really feeling very tired. Most of the responsibility is weighing on my shoulders. I'm really tempted to give up right here, right now.

I'm not in the position to decide.
I cannot influence the decision to be made.
I'm in no position to deliver based on the resources I have, and the timeline given.

No one is listening to me that to deliver, you really need to apply PMI 101.
Quality, Time and Scope is a triangle. When one increases, the other will correspondingly increase. That's the very basic! And yet...

This is the worst Dec I ever had in my life. I'm just so tired.

Why Singapore no fiscal stimulus?

I still do not understand the logic behind Singapore in not giving a fiscal stimulation to the economy. They kept emphasizing on the leakage but there's some important points which they miss out.

If we're given vouchers to buy goods and services, they are in actual fact preventing unemployment because the companies will be able to clear away their inventory, and yet keep people employed.

If we're kept employed, there won't be problems of people not being able to make their mortgage payments and our necessities. Most of us will just need to scale down on our luxuries.

Forget the leakage... It's no more about leaking money out but in keeping people employed. If people are employed, people still have the power to spend. Just by providing help to the businesses is not enough.

If I have 100 boxes of goods in my warehouse, that means somehow I have to sell it. It doesn't matter how much tax breaks you've given to me. I will need to sell it to pay my suppliers. Period. Just by giving tax breaks to businesses will do nothing to help the economy.

The problem has to be attacked from 2 sides. One side is to help the business to keep the cost down. The other is to help them clear their inventory. It's only with a "combo-attack" will then businesses be able to tide over 2009.

The game is just all about keeping people employed. That's it.

If the upcoming announcements are all about reducing business cost, then I can safely say 2009 will be a very bad year. -2%? Very likely that it'll be much worse than that.

Never rely on the market. Rely on yourself.

Denigrate the work of others to glorify one's own achievement

I quote a section that struck out to me from today's ST Forum:

Denigrate the work of others to glorify one's own achievement

This is somehow the trend in Singapore. I've seen so many instances of this where people like to bash others down, and put themselves up high in the limelight. What's the reason for that?

I do not see any benefits of doing this. In instances of true leadership, your actions speak louder than words. People will know you by your actions, and not through your self-promotion. One good example is our ex-President, Mr Wee Kim Wee, also known as our People's President. He is popular through his actions, and not through "talk".

Define yourselves through your actions, and not through words. Talk is cheap, very cheap.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inflation easing? Look again

Just now I read a CNA article where an economist said that inflation is easing. I was thinking, "Did this guy ever read the local news?".

Just this week (or last), there was an article that was describing the rise in price for some of the foodstuff in our supermarkets. The minimum rise I saw was 15 cents. So what inflation easing?

I think this person forgot that we import most of our foodstuffs and products. Therefore when our currency weakens, imported foodstuffs become more expensive. Note that foodstuffs occupy about 23% of our CPI basket. Yes, oil prices are down but our electricity prices are still sky high until next Jan. I still see inflation rate for November and December hitting above 6%.

Inflation easing? Yeah right... It's barely easing, and not as much as what some previously predicted.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Removing obstacles

I quote from Scott Adams:

I'm slowly becoming a convert to the principle that you can't motivate people to do things, you can only demotivate them. The primary job of the manager is not to empower but to remove obstacles.

After reading this quote, I've realised that I do follow its principals. Long before, I believe that the word "empower" is the most overused word. I believe that centrally, the management needs to know what is the direction and way to go. After which, they should remove obstacles blocking that direction in order for the organisation to move forward.

Empowering usually does not allow the company to move in 1 direction. Too many cooks spoil the broth. In the end, you'll find that you're making detours to your destination. Or worse still, you find that you've reached the wrong place.

Confirm the direction that you're going to take, and steer others towards it by removing or avoiding obstacles blocking that path.

Much ado about Mac malwares

Recently, the debate of Microsoft vs Apple has been rekindled again. Now the subject is on malware. As usual, the Microsoft side says see, Mac can have malware, so its not fundamentally secure.

The funny part is how do you know if the OS is fundamentally secure if you have not used it in the first place?

I use both Microsoft and Apple machines and I am not a fanatic for any of them. However, I have to agree that out of the box, Apple machines (Mac) are much more secure than the Windows machine, at least pre-Vista. I've not used a Vista machine yet so I'm unable to comment on it.

Why is the Mac fundamentally secure? The reason is that it truly allows delegation of authority to the normal user account. In layman terms, that means that if you're using a non-administrator account, it allows you to install programs using a normal user account by asking you to key in the administrator password once. This works for all the programs for the Mac.

One thing I always gripe about Microsoft is that they have so many versions of the same operating system, but only the more expensive ones have the basic security needed. For example, only Windows XP Professional allows the Power User accounts. Even then, if you need to install software, you'll still need to re-login as an administrator for most programs. The normal Windows XP Home does not even have this basic security. It's either a normal user or an administrator, and some programs do not work in the normal user account.

Now back to the topic of malware. Recently there has been news the Mac has malware. I was wondering... So? The malwares for the Mac actually either:
  1. Requires the hacker to have physical and login access to the machine, or
  2. Requires the user to install some software in the machine

I mean come on... Any operating system will have malware for the above 2 points, even UNIX systems. Nowadays, malwares exist everywhere. They no longer target the OS, but they target the user. Yes... The weakest link. The gullible user. Persuade them to install some software and walla, you'll get your backdoor.

The bottom line is that to guard against malware, it has to start with the user. Do not blame the computer. It's the user who needs to educate themselves on the dangers of the Internet. The operating system can only do so much, and 99% of the reason why users get viruses and malwares is because of the user's carelessness.

I've been messing around with computers for more than 10 years, and I've never gotten a virus or malware for at least 10 years.

By the way, my Mac still does not have anti-virus installed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surprise announcement from OPEC? It will only worsen the situation

Read recently that OPEC is going to make a surprise announcement on Dec 17. There are only 2 surprise announcements I can think of:
  1. The cut in oil is double the estimates by "analysts"
  2. Russia or some other country has joined OPEC

Either case, will it help to shore up the oil price? Yes. Temporarily. However like I said earlier, they cannot fight against the world. US lost half a million jobs in November alone. Car makers are cutting models, closing plants. Shipping almost came to a standstill. Orders for the O&G industries are being canceled. Singapore itself might have the worse decline in her short history for the 1Q 2009.

In the best case scenario, this effect will only provide a base for the oil price. In the long term, the whole world will learn to wean themselves away from their addiction to oil. Public transport infrastructure will be improved to discourage car ownership. Green energy will be the new buzz word.

Withholding supply to shore up prices will only work when the consumers have the ability to pay. That's the key. Now with companies closing down every week, banks being seized every quarter, whatever OPEC can do will only hasten the downward spiral. In the end what happens? Consumers will consume less, and they will hasten their revenue decline.

For those countries which are very dependent on oil revenues, they will not obey the quota once they realised they are earning lesser and lesser by the week.

Actually, the best OPEC can do right now, is to trim their quotas accordingly with no big surprises. Allow the companies to survive this tough period so that the consumers will start to consume again. If this is not done, consumers will just stop consuming. Period.

Humans are adaptable, which is why economics science has been unable to do any accurate forecasting. Situations can change drastically within a span of a month. This is what this crisis has taught me.

OPEC should start to take heed of what's happening now. Old methods do not work anymore.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Finally got the Maestro CC-150 Hard Foam Guitar Case

After hunting around for a hard foam classical guitar case at my usual haunts, I've finally settled down to the Maestro CC-150 Hard Foam guitar case. For some reason or another, classical guitar hard foam guitar cases are almost extinct in Singapore. I cannot even find a single hard foam guitar case for the classical guitar except in Maestro.

Initially I thought Yamaha at Plaza Singapura sells the hard foam guitar case for classical guitar. Upon asking them however, they said that the Gator GL-Dread hard foam guitar case is not meant for the classical guitar. If you wish to use it for the classical guitar, you'll need to put in some thing to keep the guitar in place. Darn...

Thereafter, I spied this Maestro CC-150 hard foam guitar case from a catalogue I got from Maestro at the start of the year. I was wondering if the price will drop during December, but I think this hard foam guitar case is too popular in Singapore. It still costs $99.90 and I happened to get the last one in the shop.

Basically the hard foam guitar case is quite solid, and much lighter than the hard case I bring around. In fact, it is so light that I had to double check that my guitar is in the case. My Yamaha CG201S still moves slightly when it is in the case but it is quite minimal. It's much better than the guitar cases I saw previously, when I have to wedge something in-between to stop it from moving too much.

One thing I like about the CC-150 is that I can carry it around like a backpack. I've been looking for such a guitar case for a very long time. The hard case is causing me to have a workout everytime I bring it out and I do admit that I'm getting old. :) My strength is not what it used to be. Wearing my guitar case like a backpack frees my hands for other stuff. This is especially important if you use the public transport.

There is a outer pocket that allows you to put your file. The outer pocket is quite big and I could fit both my file, and my small umbrella. Although the straps look like they are double sewed, I will still not advise putting too heavy stuff in the guitar case.

One important point to remember is that no matter what, always bring your guitar along when you are buying a guitar case. :D

Now for some pictures of my new guitar case. :)

CC-150 side view

CC-150 front view

CC-150 backview with straps

CC-150 interior, with guitar

Free Apps in AppStore

People might be wondering why I dedicate a post to it. Reason is because I find that there are too many untrue rumours that are spreading around, so I would like to put the record straight with this post.

There are many free applications (apps) in the iPhone AppStore for the iPhone 3G. Even the apps that requires payment cost maybe at most USD9.99. Even a meal in a restaurant will cost more than that.

To access the AppStore, you will need to do the following:
  1. Register for an account in the AppStore. You can opt not to put your credit card information when you register for the account.

  2. Login to the account using your iTunes.

    Reason is so that when you sync your iPhone, your account will be synced to your iPhone, and you'll only need to enter your password when you wish to download any app in your iPhone.

    If you wish to enter your account ID and password everytime you download any app in the iPhone, skip this step and ensure that you're not login to your account when you sync your iPhone with iTunes.

  3. Sync your iPhone 3G with iTunes.

Finding free apps in the AppStore on the iPhone 3G:
  1. Tap on AppStore on your iPhone 3G.

    Recommended to use Wi-Fi, as the iPhone 3G will automatically block you from downloading apps that are greater than 10MB, unless you are using WiFI.

  2. Tap on Featured.

    There are 2 tabs under Featured, New and What's Hot. You will sometimes see free apps under these tabs.

  3. Tap on Categories.

    Since the iPhone v2.2 firmware, when you tap on every category, there is a tab called Top Free. It makes finding free apps much simpler to use.

  4. Tap on Top 25.

    This is by far the most popular feature. By tapping on Top Free, you will be able to see the Top 50 apps in the AppStore.

The AppStore under iPhone v2.2 firmware is much better now, and it makes it easier to find Top Free, and Top Paid apps. You can also now view all the screenshots of the app which the author has provided.

So to all those who spread those untrue rumours, let it stop now. iPhone 3G has many free apps, and I've known of some people who downloaded more than 128 free apps on the iPhone.

Do not award to lowest bidder??

Today's newspaper talk about someone from NTUC saying not to only award tenders based on the lowest bid.

My take can be summarised in 2 words, Like real.

Not only do Singapore tenders favour the lowest bid, they try to word it such that they can squeeze in anything under the sun.

If Singaporeans are wondering why there is no innovation in Singapore, look no further. Want the cheapest, want the best, want everything.

Yeah right...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pegging of pay to pay with bonuses??

Today's papers just highlighted one important point about CapitalLand's CEO pay. According to 2007 annual report, Mr Liew earned S$1.15 million in base salary in 2007, and was paid S$5.35 million in bonuses. That means a total of $6.5million for 2007.

Does this number 6.5million look familiar? Yes... It's one of the pay that our top government officials is pegging their pay to.

I think there is seriously something wrong with this pegging formula. I will understand if they peg the pay to their base salaries, but pegging of pay to their base salaries + bonuses??? If our dear government is really good, I won't mind them having a 12 months year end bonus based on their base salaries. However, if Singapore economy is not growing, then why on earth should they still get million dollar salaries. I'm sure Mr Liew will not be earning more than 3million dollars for 2009 if the current climate persist for 2009.

From the post I've written here, their decrease of pay is just a few $100,000. Our top government officials will soon be earning much more than the private sector in 2009! Why? Because they pegged their pay to pay with bonuses, and not to their base salaries! Here we're talking about negative growth for the year 2009. Negative growth and they have a pay of $3million dollars?

I still like to bring out the example of Goldman Sach's CEO. Salary from USD68 million to USD 600,000.

That's a pay cut, and that's true leadership.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oil producing companies know that they are walking a tight rope

Everyone seems to be surprised that OPEC did not cut production last week. Not me though... That's because OPEC knows that they are walking a tight rope. For those people who think that just by witholding supply will drive up the price, well... I can say thank god you're not in the government sector dictating policy.

OPEC knows that if they cut too much too fast now, they will risk intiating a destruction of demand. Once initiated, it will be extremely difficult to arrest. Now companies are unable to get credit to produce goods. If the price of oil is artificially propped up, what will occur is that the companies will make even lesser goods, triggering a downward spiral in demand. OPEC might find themselves having a higher price, but selling less of the oil because of the drastic drop in demand.

OPEC could be waiting for the winter season to come to better judge the effects of removing the 1.5million barrels of oil. If prices continue to fall, which I expect they will, they will initiate a cut in December. Will this reduction help in the oil prices? No way... There's little you can do when there is a global recession. Can you work against the whole world? I don't think so. By cutting the production, they're only causing themselves to earn less revenue.

Based on what I can gather, it seems that the household savings rate for the United States has shot up from 0.4% in 2007 to 1.8% in 2008! Just this small jump is enough to throw the global economy into a recession. And guess what? The household savings rate will still be rising. The demand destruction is real! No longer can other countries rely on the good old US to keep buying.

And now, they have absolutely no solution because they are unwilling to find ways to excite domestic consumption.

Long ago, I've liken this current crisis similar to the Great Depression. My view is still the same. What's the great depression in essence? A global recession. Sounds familiar?

Resolve MacBook Charging Problem

Just recently, I have encountered a problem where my MacBook refused to charge its battery. When I plug in the power, the Mac OSX just gives an indication that it is connected to a power source (a plug icon), but it does not indicate that it is charging. The normal red light that the connector gives when charging, and the green light when it is no longer charging no longer appears. In fact, there is no color.

This is quite problematic for me because this means that I have a battery but it cannot be charged! Luckily, I manage to resolve it with 1 simple step:
  1. Clean the power connector and the area where the connector connects to the MacBook, with a piece of tissue

That's it... After cleaning it with a piece of tissue, my MacBook started charging again, and the light indicators are working now.
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