Friday, October 30, 2009

SE W595 crashed and revived

Darn it. First time my handphone crashed on me. Few weeks back, I was looking for a particular SMS when I realised that I have a whole Inbox full of "Corrupted" messages. That's right. The word "Corrupted" is there in place of the SMS sender's name. Went into the games/applications folder and everything was gone. My contacts were also all gone and when I restarted my handphone, it asked me to re-import the contacts from my SIM card.

What triggered it? I got absolutely no idea. Since I have flashed the SE W595 firmware previously (refer to the post here), I decided to try it again to see if I can "re-install" my handphone. It prompted me if I wish to re-install the firmware so I crossed my fingers and clicked on the "Re-install" button.

Luckily, everything went back to normal. I still have no idea what crashed it since the night before, I was only playing the Guitar game before I switched off the handphone. Can that game cause the handphone to crash??

Stupid SE!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Solve what you can control

I quote from David Mahoney:

Don't waste your time trying to control the uncontrollable, or trying to solve the unsolvable, or think about what could have been. Instead, think about what you can control and solve the problem you can solve with the wisdom you have gained from both your victories and your defeats in the past.

Always start with the smallest problem and sometimes along the way, you'll find that the bigger issue is being resolved while you're resolving the smaller ones. What's most important though is that you must learn from these experiences. Only then would you gain insight and experience and avoid getting into problems.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wireless@SG is not mobile

Recently I read a comment which led me to believe that some people has a misconception of what Wireless@SG can do. Basically, the gist of the comment was that Wireless@SG should be available on public transport (e.g. buses, MRTs) so that people can surf wirelessly while commuting.

I think the person is confused between what WiFi and 3G can do. Wireless@SG uses the Wi-Fi technology to deliver the Internet wirelessly. 3G is tagged to the telco mobile network and has nothing to do with Wireless@SG.

To put it simply... For those who has subscribed to broadband Internet at home, some of you may receive modems that could also support computers logging into the Internet wirelessly. You need to plug wires into the modem in order to connect to the Internet. That's similar to the technology that Wireless@SG is based on. Therefore, how could such technology be installed on buses and MRTs? Could you take your cable/ADSL modem and install it in your car so that you can have wireless access?

Some may say that someone has actually installed wireless Internet access in the taxi. That technology is however based on 3G (telco) and not Wi-Fi, which Wireless@SG is using. Why do they not use 3G instead of Wi-Fi? Look no further than the telco's data plan and you'll know the reason why. Note that Wireless@SG is free. :)

Many times I would have love to correct users that say technology can do anything and it's only a matter of time and cost. I disagree with that statement. Those who understands technology know that it's much more than that and there are a variety of factors that could affect a technology roll-out and its sustainability. Environment is one of the huge factor affecting such decisions.

Anyway, 3G also doesn't work very well when you're underground or in certain built-up areas. Why? Study IT and you may know the reasons behind it. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Singaporean vs PR

Like to state upfront that I have nothing against PRs. Some of my best friends are non-Singaporeans and PRs. However, I would like to give my personal take on why Singaporeans feel that there is no difference between being a Singaporean and a permanent resident (PR).

Fundamentally, Singapore should ask herself what is the purpose of a PR. Personally, I felt that being a PR means that you could "sample" what Singapore could offer to her citizens if they choose to be a Singaporean.

This is where lies the problem. Based on what the newspapers have gathered, there is actually not much difference between being a citizen and a PR.

Voting rights? How many Singaporeans have voted in the past few decades?
Rebates? How many Singaporeans are eligible for such rebates (excluding the rebates due to the economy downturn)?
Baby bonus? Education subsidies? Look at the demographic profiles of PRs and you tell me if its of any use.

My view is that to make Singapore more attractive for people to settle down, you will have to hit the spot where it "hurts". To do that, you just have to look at the CPI index. 3 areas come into mind:
  • Housing
  • Transport
  • Healthcare

With the exception of transport (excluding needy Singaporeans), both citizens and PRs are eligible for subsidies by the government for Housing and Healthcare. That in my opinion is where tweaks should be made.

For healthcare, our Health minister has already begun tweaking the subsidies for citizens and PRs. My view is that for healthcare, subsidies for the PRs should be reduced to the point where it "hurts". Personal view would be at least 25% lesser than the subsidy given to citizens. Polyclinics should also subsidize Singaporeans further to highlight the distinction between a Singaporean and a PR.

Next would be housing. I'm against allowing PRs to buy HDB resale flats. This is an excerpt from HDB's website:

As the public housing authority, HDB plans and develops public housing towns that provide Singaporeans with quality homes and living environments.

The key word here is Singaporeans. Therefore, I do not understand the rationale where PRs could buy resale HDB flats. The rental market is quite vibrant here and PRs could easily get a rental flat without any problems. Note that we're talking about public housing and not housing in general. The distinction between Singaporeans and PRs should be made clearer in this aspect. If you are a citizen, then you're eligible for Singapore's public housing. Otherwise, go private or rental. Owning a flat is not a given right, although it seems so in Singapore.

Transport is a necessity in Singapore for both personal and business use so I do not feel that the distinction should be made in this aspect. However, it would be good that in times of budget surplus or economy downturn, the government would have some kind of transport rebates for all Singaporeans (not PRs). This would send a message to the citizens that the government knows that transport cost is an issue and would help out when it can.

I believe the government should have statistics to show how many PRs actually converted to be a Singaporean. My guess is that the conversion rate is super low. Why? Because there's no "difference" between being a citizen and being a PR. That's why.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Inflation is down 0.4%

Updated 24 Oct 2009: Added my personal comments for this year

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2009:
January: 2.9%
February: 1.9%
March: 1.6%
April: -0.7%
May: -0.3%
June: -0.5%
July: -0.5%
August: -0.3%
September: -0.4%

This time, it's Health Care and Education and Stationary that is leading the charge, rising by 2.1% and 2% respectively year on year. Housing costs once again decreased the most for the month (-2.5%). As indicated previously, transport and communication inflation has narrowed to -0.2%. I won't be surprised that turns positive for October.

What is surprising is the increase in Education and Stationary year-on-year and there was no explanation on this sudden spike. Has educational cost increased substantially? I cannot recall reading such news last month. Hmm...

I'm not of view that inflation will be back to positive for December as I do not see the demand for this year's Christmas to be as great as last year (Christmas sales have already started). However, there might be a spike in inflation for housing in Nov and Dec due to the quarterly review of the electricity prices. Still, I do not see the spike to be that great.

Anyway, inflation for 2009 as indicated in my post here should still be around 0.1% to 0.2%.

Cloud computing is not necessary cheap

I think people has to understand that cloud computing is not just a low cost bandwagon that everyone should jump on. Cloud computing is actually not even low cost if you do not have sufficient numbers to use the services. That's why I'm curious on why this topic of cost always appear when there's mention of cloud computing.

Personally, I think people are missing the whole idea of cloud computing. It's not a new idea thought up to reduce cost. I believe the fundamental basis for cloud computing is to:
  1. outsource the maintenance of IT infrastructure and not worry about things such as upgrades and maintenance periods;
  2. enable easy scalability of resources needed, especially in cases where there are peak and off-peak periods;
  3. take advantage of common services used by big companies (may or may not) and leverage on those best practices to quickly build up your capabilities.

This need not necessarily be cheap. Most of these services usually will charge on a per user basis. However, tapping on these services will allow the business owners to direct their energies to the core business functions and leave the IT side to the experts. The businesses will then need to develop skills on how to manage these cloud computing vendors to further add value to the business functions.

Cloud computing is a step forward in terms of adding value to businesses if you plan it well and its sole purpose is not to save cost. My opinion of course...

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Expressing Love in different ways

Unknown quote:

Just because somebody doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with everything they got

I like this quote because it's simple, to the point and self explanatory. Love can be expressed in ways that you may not expect. You may or may not understand it until much later.

Lesson of the day? Don't take anything for granted and do not expect love to come only in one form.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Executing programs with administrators rights without switching users

There is a simple way in executing programs using administrator rights without switching from the current login user to the administrator account. There's a powerful utility called runas that will allow you to do just that.

To open up a command prompt (example) using administrator rights, just do the following:
  1. Goto Start > Run
  2. Type runas /user:"mydomain\admin" "cmd"

Just type in the password for the account used in the "/user" field and that's it. You have opened up a command shell using the administrator account. You can replace cmd in the above example with any other command/program that you would want to execute.

Hope this is useful.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Xpose at Esplanade Concourse

Xpose is playing again at the Esplanade Concourse on 21st Oct 2009 (Wed) from 7.15pm to, with half an hour break in-between. The performance actually consists of 2 sets of repertoires with only 1 piece that is repeated.

Do go and listen when you have the time. After all, it's free. :)

Repertoire as follows:
7.15pm – 7.45pm 8.15pm – 8.45pm
Waltz of the Flowers Blue Danube Waltz
Zapin Telok Belanga Spanish Coffee
Danse Boheme Polovtsian Dances
La Paloma Michael Jackson Medley
Dance of Yao Dance of Yao

First .NET Framework Assistant, now Windows Presentation Foundation

This is getting way out of hand. I've never installed any plugin in my Firefox that enables Windows Presentation Foundation and yet, this was found "hidden" in my Firefox list of plugins.

Luckily, the latest version of Firefox automatically disabled it. When will Microsoft learn that if I want to have all these perks, I will use Internet Explorer. There's a reason why I'm using Firefox.

I wonder when will someone file a class action suit against Microsoft. I did not choose to install .NET framework assistant or Windows Presentation Foundation and yet both appeared in my list of add-ons for Firefox.

If this continues any further, I will get a Mac. To the heck with Windows. I'm tired of things being installed without my knowledge. I bought a licence to use the software and it's not a licence for you to keeping pushing software to me without my knowledge. To strike an analogy, would you want to buy a cordless phone to find out that it has been bugged for my security?? No right??

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carmen Suite sounds wierd on Chinese instruments

Just heard the SCO playing the full Carmen Suite just now. Maybe it's just me but I find that Carmen Suite sounds weird on Chinese instruments. The 弟子 and 二胡 sounds strange and it seems to be a tad slower while doing the runs. Might be my seating position though. I could also hardly hear some parts of the melody in Dance Boheme.

The funny part is they also have the same problem in playing the last few bars of Danse Boheme. I'm not sure if this is suppose to be a consolation or not. :p

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

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What's the use of a fine of $500 when you make millions in a year?

I was laughing when I recently read the news that our 2 transport operators were fined $500 and $200 respectively for failing to meet service standards in a regular 6 monthly review. Luckily I wasn't eating or drinking while reading this piece of news.

Why? Because you're fining hundreds of dollars to corporations that earn millions annually.

It boils down to the fundamental reason for issuing the fines. This reminds me of a situation a few months back on eating sweets in MRT station. I think the fine is $500 per incident and it serves as a deterrent to prevent people from eating in MRT stations. This fine is effective because now most of us refrain from eating in MRT stations because of that fine amount.

So my question is that it's okay to fine consumers $500 for eating sweets but only a few hundred dollars for service lapses??

I seriously don't see how can the fines be a deterrence to corporations that earn millions annually. Instead of using a fixed amount, a percentage of operational profit for the last quarter should be used with a base fine, whichever is higher. That would really be a deterrence. You can even channel the income from the fines to programmes that ensure better adherence to the service quality.

Seriously if I'm in the business of issuing fines, I would not even bother to fine the operators with this pitiful amount. It doesn't even warrant the effort taken to monitor their service levels and it doesn't encourage anyone from adhering to the service standard. So what is the fine for?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Fun Theory

Recently saw an interesting Youtube video called the fun theory. Basically, I believe it reasons that if you make anything fun to do, people will adopt it more readily even if it requires more effort.

Quite an interesting way to look at things. I believe that is also what some popular childcare centres are doing. Make it fun, and kids will want to go to school to learn.

Below is the Youtube video. Enjoy the power of fun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cloud Computing useful for mobility workers

Did you know that one of the F1 teams actually make of use cloud computing services to support the team's operational needs? Although only cloud services such as web security tools, secure e-mail gateway and SSL VPN were used, this brings about an important point that cloud services are actually useful for people who move around often.

However if you note the services used, you can also see that core services that are data sensitive are not being used widely. What the F1 team did was to subscribe to a direct line that links to their factory in U.K.

I believe for public cloud services, HR systems (e.g. leave systems) will be quite popular and maybe e-mail or even video conferencing services together with IP telephony. I firmly believe that cloud services should be built with that intended audience (mobile workers) in mind. Only when you know the target audience would you then be able to build useful services.

Do not build services based on what the technology can offer but instead, build it based on the actual need.

After all this time, I still think that hybrid cloud services are the way to go to go around the security constrain. I believe the industry is moving along this track though. Hope to see more interesting services in the cloud.

M1 is going to sell iPhones!!

Yes!! 1 day after my post, M1 has announced that they have reached an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhones in. This is called competition! Go M1 go...

Hope you don't take too long to firm up the dates and plans. Knowing M1, they would come up with some innovative plans.

Monday, October 12, 2009

iPhone for M1 / Starhub soon?

Seems like the papers have been hinting that M1 / Starhub are under pressure to sell the iPhone under their respective brands.

This is rightly so because many of the people who are sitting on the fence are tired of waiting for the telcos and have jumped to Singtel. Evidence? Just look around you and you'll realised a lot of people are using iPhones, especially so when iPhone OS 3.0 was released.

Unless M1 and Starhub are targeting consumers that own a secondary handphone, they better do something about it. To me, there are 3 main reasons why people would rather switch to Singtel because of the iPhone:
  1. I believe you can only have warranty for the iPhone by presenting your Singtel number to the Hello shops. I heard of cases where people complained that they are not being able to service their iPhones but I know for the fact that Singtel shops do provide warranty directly for the iPhones. I believe this group of people had this problem because they did not subscribe to Singtel but instead bought those iPhones that were re-sold.

  2. Judging from the current trend, it seems that there's a new iPhone every year. If this trend continues, most people will definitely just keep trading in their old iPhone for the new ones every year. So M1 and Starhub should stop hoping for people who will ditch Singtel after they got their iPhones.

  3. Singtel is not AT&T. I didn't hear of Singtel's network dying under the load of the 3G subscribers. So M1 and Starhub shouldn't put too much hope that people will jump because of a deterioration of network qualilty.

M1 and Starhub... Get the hint??

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Am I considered engaged or married?

The funny part about being a Chinese will come when you decide to get married. It's customary for Chinese to hold a wedding banquet and invite relatives and friends to announce your marriage. Therefore, we're usually considered not married until we hold the banquet.

However, this goes into conflict with the law because the law states that you cannot hold your customary wedding until you've registered your marriage. Therefore, you're not considered married until you've registered with the Registry of Marriages, popularly known here as ROM.

So what is the status of people like me who decided to register my marriage first before holding the wedding banquet?

Somehow, the trend here for Chinese is that ROM is only considered an engagement and you're not considered married until you hold the banquet. However by looking at the definition of engagement, this is not the case because the definition is a promise to marry or an agreement to be married.

By definition and by law, I'm considered married. But by Chinese custom, I'm not. So am I married or not?

Here's the other funny part. The reason why I'm thinking about this is because I do not know what to put for my Facebook status. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Resolution = What R

I believe those having digital cameras may wonder what photo size (e.g. 4R) does the 1600 x 1200 resolution indicated in the camera translate to. The answer might surprise you. Technically, the answer is none. Apparently, 1600 x 1200 can be used for 4R but it's not the exact resolution.

The following apparently is the mapping between the size of the photo and the resolution (got it from the Internet):
  • 3R - 1500x1050
  • 4R - 1800x1200 (3:2)
  • 5R - 2100x1500
  • 6R - 2400x1800 (4:3)
  • 8R - 3000x2400 (5:4)
  • s8R - 3600x2400 (3:2)

* Numbers in bracket are the aspect ratios

Looking at the resolutions listed above, I do not think the conventional camera has a setting that equate to the above. At least the Canon 870IS that I'm holding does not have any of these settings.

However, the forums did indicate that you can map the photo size to the closest resolution. Using Canon as an example, that would be:
  • 3R to 4R - M3 (1600 x 1200)
  • 5R - M2 (2048 x 1536)
  • 6R - M1 (2592 x 1944)
  • 8R - L (3072 x 2304)

I do wonder why the camera makers did not equate the resolution to the photo size. They think that consumers no longer print out their digital photos?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Learn new things at any time in your life

I quote from Barbara Sher:

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.

True, but it neglected to mention that this actually puts a tremendous amount of stress on yourself. I've never been so stressed in my life ever since I've made the jump to something new. I've to learn to apply the knowledge that I've gained over the years in a different manner and take on more responsibility while learning the ropes.

So if you really want to keep learning new things at any time of your life, be prepared to receive a lot of stress and learn how to handle it. Frankly, I will think more than twice if I want to make another jump to something new. I've never been so stressed even during my exams.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Look for your missing mouse pointer

Have you ever encountered situations where your mouse pointer just disappears into thin air? Not able to find the pointer on the screen no matter how vigorously you are moving the mouse? Well, it seems that Windows has an option to allow you to pin-point the location of the mouse pointer.

Just do the following:
  1. Goto Start > Control Panel > Mouse
  2. Click on the Pointer Options tab
  3. Ensure that the checkbox for Show location of pointer where I press the CTRL key is checked
  4. Click on the Apply button

That's it. Now whenever you press the CTRL key, you will be able to find the exact location of your mouse. Hope this is useful.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why not blame EPL??

Recently the news of Singtel securing the EPL rights have triggered a lot of reactions. Singtel, Starhub and even MDA have been blamed on the high cost for securing the EPL rights. However one thing that I've noticed is that no one has blamed EPL.

I find it extremely weird that not one has actually put the blame on EPL for making the broadcast of EPL exclusive. Instead, they blame it on the providers who make it possible for us to view EPL live here.

Maybe I'm on the wrong wavelength because I do not watch football but looking at it from a third-party perspective, the only way to resolve this high cost is to send a message to the providers NOT to bid for any exclusive rights. In this way, the consumers are sending the message that we're not condoning this practice. Easier said than done though. I know how fans are feeling. I felt the same way about the iPhone in Singapore.

Anyway, if anyone remembers the history of Mediaworks and Mediacorp, sooner or later one of them will drop out of the race. However, this is up to the providers to fight it out. Even MDA can't stop them from bidding for it (free market, remember?).

If you don't want to condone the practice, stop blaming everyone and show it with your actions. Do not subscribe to the EPL channels. Send this message to EPL and the providers that this is going way out of hand.

To me, that's the only way of resolving this issue. If you still want to watch EPL live, then stop blaming and start subscribing. They are not running a charity service.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hardware more reliable than software?

I read an interesting post today saying that hardware is more reliable than software. I was actually laughing out loud when I read it.

My question is very simple. Will a laptop be of any use without an operating system running on top of it? What's the use of the iPhone hardware without the iPhone OS? I think you should get the idea of what am I driving at.

It's quite easy to shift all the blame to the software but one thing of note is that to make a terrific product, it's always a collaboration between the hardware and software vendors. Without cooperation from both sides, there will always be some kind of integration problem.

That is why Apple up to now is still keeping the hardware close to their chests (in my opinion). With control over the hardware, it will be much easier for software integration and the software team could also bounce new ideas off the hardware team.

So stop blaming the software people. They are the guys who'll never get the thanks when everything is working perfectly fine.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thought of a useful service for cloud computing

Previously I mentioned that I find it a little difficult to think of a useful service that could be put in the cloud, enjoy the full capabilities of cloud computing and yet can be justified from the business perspective. Just recently read an article about travel websites and it hit me that a ticketing system would be a very useful cloud computing service because:
  1. Demand can scale up easily during peak seasons (e.g. F1)
  2. With a hybrid cloud model, it will not be difficult to remotely provide data to the "ticketing cloud" on the newest information
  3. Service providers can concentrate on what they are selling and let the cloud computing providers worry about the ticketing infrastructure and application

If you look at the process for buying tickets in Sistic or cinemas, there is fundamentally no difference in functionality between these providers. I wonder if any cloud computing vendor is providing such a service. It does require some tie ups with the merchant banks to handle all the transactions though. Hmm...
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