Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PS3 is compatible with Sony TV

Updated 05 November 2011: PS3 cannot be switched on if the Sony TV is not switched on.

I just got my hands on a PlayStation 3 (PS3) and I was surprised that there was some integration with my Sony TV and the PS3.

Oh yes, ditch the cable that came with the PS3. Get a HDMI cable and connect it to your Sony TV. I believe that this integration with the Sony TV will only work with a HDMI cable. So what's the integration? I'm able to remotely power up my PS3 using the Sony TV remote. From the remote, I would be able to navigate the PS3 and thus, able to power off the PS3 too.

To remotely control your PS3 from your Sony TV remote, do the following:
  • On your Sony TV remote, you should be able to see a button called Sync Menu. Press it.
  • Select the HDMI Device Selection option.
  • Select your PlayStation 3 device

That's it. Your PS3 will auto power on. Oh yes, if you power off your Sony TV, it will also auto power off the PS3 and all the controllers.

I've also just realised that if your Sony TV is not switched on, there is no way that you can switch on your PS3.

Neat? I think so.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life is life, fight for it

I quote from Mother Teresa:

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Year in Review for 2010

Times passes by so quickly and 2010 is coming to an end. This year as predicted was a year of change. New job scope, change of maritial status and new flat. No wonder I feel so tired lately.

Job wise I've transited well into my new role. Of course like any other job, there's always the downside to it. However, the upside is quite good too and I learned a lot of what goes behind the scenes in an IT project. How to fight for the budget and when to choose to let go. It's quite tiring though. Coming 2011, the projects that I'm doing are quite complex and the funny thing is, I'm looking forward to it. I guess it's the interest.

Yes, I'm now traditionally and officially married. Any change? Well, it's more of the housework that we need to do. Otherwise, we didn't see much surprises. :p However, we need to work on the communication portion. With all the work that we need to do, sometimes we need to find some time to communicate.

The new flat of course was a lot of work. You really need to know good renovation contractors. Otherwise, you'll keep hearing tomorrow and guess what, tomorrow never comes. That is until you blow up.

For the new year, I guess that's where I will be more busy in my job. I will have a few projects that I have to do from initiation to support and some of the projects are quite complex. I need to try to manage my time better because sooner or later, I think I will have to give up some slots in my schedule. I just have too many things to do.

I really hope that I won't need to give up my guitar playing but I'll try my best.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Going for your dreams, but ...

I was listening to some Christmas accapellas when I came across this group called Straight No Chaser. The songs that they have mashed up is quite incredible and it's amazing that this group started out as a hobby. They have people flying in-between cities just doing something they love doing.

This reminds me of my ensemble guitar playing. However, I guess I'm too old for this kinda running around, not to mention that I have a family now. Sometimes, I do wonder if the compulsory national service is the cause of the dearth of innovation in Singapore. The age where we go into army is also the age where we are full of ideas bursting at its seams. At that age, you're afraid of no one. :)

Anyway, below is a video of the group Straight No Chaser combining 2 of my favorite songs, I'm Yours and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inflation is up 3.8%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2010:
January: 0.2%
February: 1.0%
March: 1.6%
April: 3.2%
May: 3.2%
June: 2.7%
July: 3.1% 
August: 3.3%
September: 3.7%
October: 3.5%
November: 3.8% 

Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by 9.4% and 4% respectively year on year. The inflation is pretty broad based and all are in the positive territory for the first time this year. Communication has hit 0.5%% compared to -2.1% in October. Clothing & Footwear has also risen by a bit. As they do not constitute a large percentage of the overall CPI basket, the impact is minimal.

Inflation did not hit 4% as expected, which I believe is mainly due to the appreciation of the Singapore dollar that took off some pressure from the inflation rate. That would mean however that the inflation rate which I calculated at end September here may somehow be close to the actual figure.

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All China need to do is to ...

China does not need to raise their bank reserve ratio to drain the cash from the financial system. As of now, the bank reserve ratio is as high as 18.5% and the current interest rate is now 5.56%. In my opinion, the problem of China's liquidity is not with the interest rate and the bank reserve ratio.

The problem lies with the governance.Who is ensuring the banks are keeping to the reserve ratios? Who is ensuring that the funds that are lent out is in accordance to the set interest rate?

Personally to me, all China needs to do is to do a nationwide comprehensive audit, answerable to the President of China. The audit should ensure compliance to all the set regulations. Subsequently, quarterly audit should be done to ensure compliance. With this in place, they should get their intended result.

Will they do it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Follow your heart

I quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage

Unless you're someone who takes impulsive actions, you would have think through in detail on the important things you wish to achieve in life and measured the pros and cons. If the outcome is important to you, you'll find a way to achieve it.

Do note though that there are several ways to reach a destination. Focus on your destination, and not on the route.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bus Fare Distance Refund for Ezlink card holders

The LTA and the public transport operators have discovered some discrepancies (which is actually quite minimal) in the bus fare calculations and you may be eligible for a refund if you have travelled along the affected bus stops between 3 July 2010 and 25 November 2010. All you need is your Ezlink card number.

For those who wish to check online if you are eligible for a bus fare refund or look for more information, you can take a look at the PublicTransport website here. Type in your CEPAS number (located at the back of your Ezlink card) on your top left hand corner panel.

For your information, unless you travel on the same bus route several times a day, your refund amount will be quite minimal. You may not even get to buy a cup of coffee with the refund. Any unclaimed amount after the refund exercise will be donated to the LTA Public Transport Fund, which will benefit needy families. Personally, I think you might as well donate it to the Public Transport Fund.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Does your company own your phone if they pay for it?

Personally, I'm always hesitant when companies offer to sponsor you a handphone with the bills fully paid by the company. Usually when this happens, this usually implies that you're important enough to warrant a handphone with you 24 hours by your side.

The problem is based on our employment contract, it usually never states that we're suppose to be on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unless you're in a special line of work, your working hours are pretty standard. However, some companies take advantage of the fact that since they pay for your handphone and phone bills, the employee should be on-call all the time. This should not be the case. In fact, very often it's a reflection of bad management when projects go off-schedule. Having said that, there are exceptions especially in certain countries.

Anyway, the problem now is that due to the "productivity" drive, employers are increasingly trying to find ways and means to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of everyone. It's very different when your employer tells you to try the answer your phone when you can, and ordering you to answer your phone when it rings. The former means it's optional and the latter means its mandatory. And seriously, if I'm on call 24 hours, I better make sure that I'm paid for it. There are of course exceptions but it should never become a common occurrence.

Vice versa, I also dislike companies that request you to bring your own computer equipment to do office work. It seriously thins the line between personal and work life, and unless I own the company, I will never do that. In fact, if someone asks me to bring my own equipment in, I should be renting them to the company and getting paid for it. I personally never like to put any work into my personal equipment.

Anyway, back to the main topic. I always try not to contact people after office hours unless it is very critical. Why? Because I used to be on the receiving end and I know the feeling. It really spoils your whole day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why must the Mediacorp TV guide use Silverlight???

I don't understand the rationale on why the Mediacorp TV guide requires Silverlight in order to view. Don't Mediacorp knows that by doing this, they are alienating an increasing number of people that uses Apple products? Silverlight only works on Windows.

Maybe they cut away all the IT staff and there's no one left to advice them otherwise. Once again. Silverlight ONLY runs on Windows machines. Grr.

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't Ever Lose Faith in Yourself

I quote from Ashley Bell:

Never think that any part of you is lacking. Never doubt your abilities. Never question your judgment. Never let anyone or anything make you feel less than you are, because who you are is someone special.

Never feel that the next step is a step too far. If you're stumbling as you walk, hold your head high and know that no other person's words or actions can ever hurt you, because who you are is someone special.

Never lose faith in yourself. Just look around you-at the friends who surround you-because they love and care for you, support you, and believe in you..because you're someone special.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Who decides what is material to the investors?

Looks like GLP is in the news for all the wrong reasons. After posting an article about GLP here back in October, it seems that the GLP prospectus did not include some information which investors feel that is important.

The story? ProLogis could become a serious competitor to GLP’s China business after the expiry of the non-competition arrangement in February 2011. The problem? This was not highlighted in the prospectus. The debate? Investors say that this is material information while GLP says it is not.

What's the root problem? GLP uses legal terms to describe that there will be a risk of competitors targeting the same market, and at the same time, the Master Implementation Agreement (“MIA”) entered into with ProLogis in 2009 to effect the acquisitions of the various properties in China and Japan – the MIA was disclosed in the Prospectus as one of the material contracts which were available to the public for inspection. MIA was not included within the prospectus.

GLP says that the expiry of the agreement is not material enough to warrant a line in the prospectus, but yet the MIA is considered as a material contract. Sorry, I can't add it up. The MIA is a material contract but the contents within the contract is not material enough?

So who decides what is material to the investors? The company that is being listed?

Monday, December 13, 2010

What happens when you take things out of context

A scene in a typical family meal setting:

Person A: How is your day today?

Person B: It sucks. Customer 1 was in today and as usual, she has her eye on the details. This is usually not much of a problem but Customer 1's attention to details caused a confrontation with Customer 2 and they both started arguing over it. The worst part is after that argument, they blamed the problem all on me even though I have nothing to do with it. In the end, I had to clear all that sh**.

Person A: Really? Maybe that had a bad day or something. Just treat it as customer service so that they will come back and give you more business.

Person B: I guess maybe you're right.

Nosy C (overhead the conversation): Ah-hah.

Nosy C to Customer 1: Hey,do you know that Person B was badmouthing you in front of other people. She said that your attention to details caused a confrontation with Customer 2, and she was complaining that she has to take all that sh** from you two.

Customer 1: Really?? That ... ... ...


Morale of the story? Don't look at piecemeal news and do not look at things out of context. It never tells the whole picture.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Telcos wants Service Providers to pay for network infrastructure

France Telcos have voiced out against mobile and Web companies that have introduced data-heavy online contents such as videos, music and games. They are asking these service providers to help defray the "billions of dollars of investments" needed to build new network infrastructure to cope with today's bandwidth demands.

Personally, I think that's ridiculous.

Initially, all the telcos have been building those 3G towers which no one was using. Who was the one who helped fill those airways? The mobile and web companies. Before Apple and Google came into the picture, there was absolutely no reason for anyone to use the 3G towers that the telcos built. Content changed the game. The few hundred thousand apps in the smartphone world now drives the usage of the mobile data network.

Like it or not, Apple has made 3G / 4G useful through the iPhone. Before that, everyone was teaching people how to disable 3G since it's useless and it only drains your battery. What about now? Look at the number of people subscribing to data plans now compared to previously before the iPhone even appeared.

Heck, the telcos should pay the mobile and web companies for giving consumers the reason to subscribe to data plans.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Boys' Brigade Share-a-Gift 2010

The Boys' Brigade has been bringing cheer to the less fortunate, reaching out to some 28,000 beneficiaries from the Public Assistance scheme, ComCare Transition scheme and more than 140 Voluntary Welfare Organisations.

Donate basic food and household items and drop them off at the designated collection areas. You can also donate online at

Operating period: 25 November to 20 December 2010, 11am to 8.45pm daily

The collection areas are:

Main Box Location
  • Orchard Road (Outside Takashimaya S.C)

Satellite Gift Box Locations

- NTUC FairPrice outlets :
  • Ang Mo Kio Hub (FairPrice Xtra)
  • Bedok North (BLK 212)
  • Bishan Junction 8
  • Bukit Panjang Plaza
  • Bukit Timah Plaza (FairPrice Finest)
  • East Point Mall
  • Hougang Point (FairPrice Xtra)
  • Jurong Point (FairPrice Xtra)
  • nex Mall ( FairPrice Xtra )
  • Rivervale Mall
  • Tampines Mall
  • Thomson Plaza (FairPrice Finest)
  • Toa Payoh HDB Hub
- Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre Lobby

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What can we learn from AEM-Evertech, SLA, M1 and Red Cross?

Recently, there have been quite a few corruption cases reported in a short span of time and other than looking at the amount that was lost, there are other points that we can gather from this episode.

First if you look across all the cases reported, you can see that whether corruption happens really depend on the person. CEO, Senior management, middle management, salesman and finance officers. You can see that this happens across all different types of job scopes.

Sure. Some people can say that there are not enough controls to "detect" this fraud. My question is that if the CEO is involved, are "controls" that effective?

Personally, the key point is that controls can only do so much. In the end, it's the people that matters. What's inside the heart, behind all those high grades, CCA, and profit-driven objectives. Previously when I interviewed people for a job, attitude to me is the most important other than the match in skills. The willingness to learn and collaborate. If I do not see this in a person and see it in action during probation, I will not recommend the job to this person. Having said that, do note though that I'm not HR trained. This is just my personal opinion.

Sad to say, my way of interviewing may not be the norm and bear in mind, there are always repercussions. Cause and effect always happens. It's just a matter of time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

User Interface: iPhone vs Android vs Windows Phone 7

Recently I had a chance to play with the Android and the Windows Phone 7 phones, and in my personal opinion, I have reached the conclusion that I prefer the iPhone user interface.

Samsung Galaxy S was the Android phone that I've managed to "test" initially. In fact, the reason why I got to touch it was because someone had problems using the phone and asked me for help. I'm not sure if it's the same for all Android phones, but I had serious problems in trying to help the person answer a phone call. I've totally no idea how to answer the call as it was not intuitive. Later on I had the chance to play with a HTC Android phone in a HTC store and I was kinda confused over the many screens. The home screen? Application screen? HTC screen? Needless to say, I didn't like it.

Since I was in the HTC store, I've also tried a HTC Windows Phone 7 phone. First thing was that I had problems identifying where are all the different apps as they are no fixed icons associated to the individual apps. In fact, I even had trouble finding the Photo App and I had to go to the "start menu" to find it. Even in the "start menu", I've also spent some time trying to find it as there are just too many apps installed on that demo phone. I guess I do not quite like the concept of using green tiles to represent an app. There is also no standard interface guideline for all the apps and I got pretty confused on where all the features are. Do I like it? No.

I guess I prefer the iPhone where the interface is pretty standard and it's easy to understand and use. Any new app you download you can be assured that you'll be able to use all of the basic features. I guess users requirements are sometimes just quite simple.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life shaped by Attitude

I quote from Katherine Mansfield:

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different.

Our life is shaped by our attitude to it. Change it, and you'll change your life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Same words, different meanings

One of the important things that I've learned is that the very same sentence that is spoken have different meanings to different people. Based on my own observations, it would seem that this is especially so between males and females (not sexist here).

I'm not sure if that's the origin of the terms "guy's talk" and "girl's talk" but it would seem to me that for certain types of conversation, most guys are more "in-tuned" to each other and thus able to understand each other better. Vice versa for the girls. This seems to be regardless of how long you've known each other.

However depending on the type of conversation, the same words may have different meanings to different people, and in my experience especially so between different sexes. What you may think is casual chit-chat in general may not be that casual after all once you look deeper into what was being said.

Mis-communication is one of the main sources of conflict be it among your family, friends or even in your workplace. I guess we have to try to be sensitive to what we're saying and clarify when you feel something is not right in that conversation to reduce conflicts and misunderstandings.

The feeling is also not good if you're being misunderstood.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why is unemployment The Feds Responsibility?

Just recently, I realised that the Feds are responsible for keeping the inflation rate and the unemployment rate under control. The first thought that came into mind. Why is unemployment The Feds responsibility?

For those who have not heard of The Feds, The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as The Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. Its duties today, according to Wikipedia and official Federal Reserve documentation, are to conduct the nation's monetary policy, supervise and regulate banking institutions, maintain the stability of the financial system and provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions.

The problem is what has the nation's monetary policy or financial institutions for that matter have to do with unemployment? Why are the Feds given the responsibility of keeping unemployment low? The government rightly should be responsible for the unemployment because there is no direct linkage of monetary or financial policies on unemployment rate.

There are many ways to keep the unemployment rate low and financial means is just one of those means (e.g. loaning of money cheaply to businesses). By throwing the responsibility of unemployment to the Feds, you're severely limiting your options on how to reduce the unemployment rate. Can the Feds subsidise the salaries of citizens and provide training grants to all like the Singapore government? Furthermore, don't you find that controlling inflation rate and loaning of money cheaply to businesses a contradiction?

I still don't understand what the central banking system has to do with unemployment. Doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's wrong with retirement?

I don't quite understand why some people think that retirement will lead to a person's body to shutdown. As a result, they think that one should continue working and not have the word retirement in the dictionary.

Personally, I think that people who thinks this way do not really have much of a life outside work. In short, workaholics.

From my experience, I even have problems finding time to do what I'm interested in when I do not even have kids. Meeting up with friends for talk and games, playing my guitar and practicing different music genres, even playing computer games which I've stopped since I got married. These "sidelines" that I have also excite your brain cells and ensure that your brains are being used actively.

Seriously, I believe a person's body will only shutdown after retirement when you do absolutely nothing but eat and sleep. In fact, you do not even need to retire. You just need to do absolutely nothing but sustenance for a long period of time.

If this is really what most Singaporeans think of retirement, we have to seriously look at the life of a Singaporean. You mean work really takes up so much of their time that they have no life outside work, and when they retire, they are lost at what to do? Is that kind of life healthy?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beauty in Simplicity

I quote from Albert Einstein:

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Force Shutdown, the software style

I believe all of us know how to force shutdown a laptop/desktop when the application causes the whole system to hang. Press on the power button and hold it there until it powers down. However, I heard that there is another secret to force shutting it down, using Windows. Just do the following:
  1. Launch Task Manager by pressing Ctrl, Shift and Esc.
  2. Click on the Shutdown menu on top
  3. Hold down your Ctrl key and click on Turn Off.

Apparently, this will cause all the applications to shut down without saving. Not sure how true it is. I haven't got a chance to try it yet (*touch wood*).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Singapore has the 10th highest cost of living, but ...

Based on 2009 UBS Cost of Living Survey, Singapore has the 10th highest cost of living in the world (translated: one of the most expensive city in the world). Below shows the top 10 results from that 2009 survey:

5Hong KongHong Kong
8New York CityUnited States of America

However, look at this 2009 richest city by purchasing power by UBS:

6Los Angeles
8New York
34Tel Avi
41Hong Kong
45São Paulo
48Rio de Janeiro
49Kuala Lumpur

And this 2009 richest city by personal earnings by UBS:

4New York
6Los Angeles
35Tel Avi
37Hong Kong

If you look at the UBS personal earnings and purchasing power surveys for 2008, you will find that Singapore's ranking in those areas were higher in 2008 compared to 2009. It's also quite interesting that in the newest iPod survey, Singaporeans need to work 27.5 hours to buy an iPod Nano, ranked 40th in the list. First in the list by the way, only requires 9 hours of work.

So what does this signify? I believe the tables above are clear enough. We are increasingly being priced out of our own country. We're too productive?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Xserve Discontinued!

I think recently you must have heard that Apple is discontinuing the XServe. That would mean the end of rack mountable servers for Apple. Instead, people will be able to purchase Mac OS Server on the Mac Pro machines or Mac Mini.

I guess this means that Apple has finally decided to leave the corporate world. Although it is still possible that certain organisations will deploy Mac Pro workstations running Mac OS Server, it's not the norm among big enterprises. Apple may be of course making a statement that Mac OS Server does not require expensive servers in order to run, but the fact is that rack-mountable servers for some organisations is a requirement. It is however possible to put the Mac mini on a shelf in the rack but we all know how powerful a mac mini is.

The location of the servers are also important. In an enterprise context, servers are usually not easily accessible by users and most of the time, they are at most only accessed remotely. Putting the Mac Pro workstation in the data centre will only waste valuable rack space, which may increase the data centre power usage. Servers are also usually put on a different network and some are not directly accessible by users. Putting the server outside of a data centre will defeat that purpose since the server can always be accessed physically by anyone.

Therefore, the only use of Mac OS Server will be for small enterprises that do not have a "data centre" so as to speak. However, the problem I always find with Macs is the patch management. I always do not understand why each patch that is released by Apple is in 100s of MBs. Just imagine 10 users downloading the patch at the same time. Your network will be a gonner. I believe though that you can do some limited form of patch management for the iOS since it's controlled by iTunes (e.g. Multiple devices using a same machine for syncing and patching).

Anyway, my conclusion is that the Mac is built for consumers and consumers only. Pity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Inflation is up 3.5%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2010:
January: 0.2%
February: 1.0%
March: 1.6%
April: 3.2%
May: 3.2%
June: 2.7%
July: 3.1% 
August: 3.3%
September: 3.7%
October: 3.5% 

Transport and Education and Stationery are leading the pack, rising by 9.5% and 3.6% respectively year on year. Other than Communication costs, all other items' inflation is once again in the positive zone and it is quite similar to September. Housing inflation seems to have reduced slightly compared to last year. Clothing and Footwear has increased the most compared to September. May be due to the Great Singapore Sale effect wearing off.

Inflation should hit around 4% for the rest of the year, a year of high inflation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Art of Speaking

I quote from Benjamin Franklin:

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

What is important to me at that point in time may not be as important in that situation. That is how I try to remind myself everyday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finally a definition of stress@work?

Recently I have chanced across an article talking about stress at work. Apparently, the scientists defined stressful positions as those with demanding tasks and little authority or creativity. Those jobs were also tied to a 40 percent greater chance of getting any kind of cardiovascular disease.

Looking strictly at definition, do most jobs fall into the category of stressful positions?

Demanding tasks are quite common in Singapore. How often were we given impossible deadlines because the upper management does not realize that a piece of work is not as simple as that short paragraph that describes it?

Most of us are also not given much authority and creativity in our line of work. Reason being that most businesses still work on the centralized model when decision making is done at the top, and the others just execute those decisions.

Creativity is also not often found in most job scopes. If you are looking in terms of risk management, creativity is also quite often not encouraged as it may involve treading on new ground and there is no past experience to rely on. Do we have companies that create products like the iPhone that sell millions? You get the point.

Therefore, my conclusion is that we have a high chance of getting high blood pressure and heart attacks because most jobs here fit the definition of stressful positions. Don't you agree?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adora Green @ Yishun

Updated 30 Jan 2011: Some configuration details
Updated 23 Feb 2011:  Price, Unit configuration and floor plan location

More than a year after the launch of the Parc Lumiere @ Simei, there is finally news of another DBSS site, Adora Green @ Yishun. Once again, the floor plans are not available even though the online application for this DBSS will be ready first quarter next year and the ground breaking ceremony has happened. Seems like developers nowadays have a habit of delaying the availability of floor plans. It happened for Parc Lumiere.

Now that HDB has upped the household income cap to $10,000 / month, using this amount with a 35% limit on the repayment amount based on the gross salary, you can now loan up to a maximum of $771,000+ for 90% loan over a period of 25 years with a 2.6% interest rate (CPF Housing Loan), according to the CPF website calculator. Looks like Adora Green has done its sums well as it seemed to have taken into account that most people may not be able to take a loan for 25 years since the average age of marriage has been increasing steadily (You should pay finish your mortgage by the age of 62).

Anyway, DBSS @ Yishun has been named Adora Green, and is located at the junction of Yishun Central and Yishun Avenue 11, opposite the Yishun Pond and Yishun Park. Northpoint and Yishun MRT is about 700 - 800m away, and there are a number of primary and secondary schools within the 1km  vicinity. The pricing of the units are estimated to start from $450 to $500psf, higher than Parc Lumiere. Majority will be 4-room flats. The pricing and configuration are as follows (as of the information that is publicly available now):

3 room~67 sqm
(168 units)
from $310,000
Internal Floor Area: 57 sqm
Balcony & Aircon Ledge: 10 sqm
4 room~92 sqm
(510 units)
from $420,000
Internal Floor Area: 80 sqm
Balcony & Aircon Ledge: 12 sqm
5 room~112 sqm
(128 units)
from $520,000
Internal Floor Area: 96 sqm
Balcony & Aircon Ledge: 16 sqm
3 Bedrooms, 1 Master Bedroom

Configuration 1: Individual Balconies for Living room & Master Bedroom

Configuration 2: One Balcony shared by Living room, Bedroom 3(smaller) & Master Bedroom

The unit configuration is not available as of now but the five-room flats seem to come with four bedrooms instead of the standard three. The pricing has increased about $20,000 to $50,000 for the four room and five room flats. All the rooms are extremely small. Once again, I'm not sure of the current trend of having balconies. For the four room flat, the internal floor area is only 80 sqm, with large part of the space taken up by the balcony and out of all things, the air-con ledge. The air-con ledge really looks quite big to me from the floor plan.

The five room flat is split into 2 configurations, one of which has a smaller bedroom nearer to the living room that is suitable for use as a study. I like the idea of a shared balcony with the smaller bedroom, the master bedroom and the living room though. The other configuration has a smaller bedroom nearer to the master bedroom and suitable for use as a nursery or walk-in wardrobe. Another thing unique about the five room flats is that the master bedroom toilet is not next to the door.

However, the internal area of the five room flat is only slightly bigger than the current HDB 4 room flat. That means each room is super small, in my opinion. I'm unable to find details on the furnishings that come with the flat though as the information is not publicly available.

You can find more information on Adora Green, including the floor plan, from their website here.

Personally, I think flats are getting too small for anyone's liking, and I do not understand the trend of having such big balconies and air-con ledges. Looking just from the location perspective, it's a tad too far from Yishun MRT and Northpoint for my liking. I like it that it's near Yishun Park and Yishun Pond though. If you calculate the psf using the internal area, it's not quite worth it.

I will keep a lookout for more information and will update when I chance across it. The DBSS is estimated to be ready in 4Q 2013.

Update 1: (not from the official website) It seems like all units come with balconies and come ready with wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, air-conditioning and doors. Buyers are also given a choice of color scheme and most units have a north-south orientation. It seems that there are also childcare centres, eating house, shops and mini-mart right at the doorstep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look at things from a different perspective

I quote from Albert Einstein:

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

If you distill the three rules of work, the common denominator is that things are never what they seems.  Look at things using a different perspective and you may find something interesting, and this need not be only applied to work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What students are being churned out by our education system?

I find it very interesting to read this quote from a person in NTU:

When I interact with Swedish companies here, they tell me they employ Singaporeans at a more basic level because they are good at carrying out what they are instructed to do. But for higher-level positions, they hire people from Scandinavia because they are more trained to run projects.

Is this true? I recall hearing certain "complaints". The gist is as follows:
  1. The PSLE question is not fair. It is not being taught.
  2. Why do we need tuition in order for our students to score?
  3. What did the lecturer say? Is that English?

Looking at what I've heard, and what this person has said in NTU, it seems like what he said may be true. Ranking of schools is one thing, but how students turn out should depend largely on the teacher, and not how many 10 year series the student has done or which tuition centre that the person has attended.

If this is the case, why should we go to schools? We might as well just go to tuition centres and take our exams as private students.

Furthermore, I always think that exams are a waste of time. People say that exams are a way of testing if the student understood the concepts of what was being taught. So will the students know the correct answers to those exam questions? Will someone explain why those answers were chosen? Or in the end do we just get a grade point average or a grade?

Back to the point in contention. Are we only good at carrying out what we are instructed to do? There are people with good grades that are able to think out of the box but you may also want to look for people beyond the grades that you see on that piece of paper. You may be surprised.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hong Kong has set a minimum wage. So when is it Singapore's turn?

Hong Kong has finally set a minimum wage at 28 HKD an hour. Although it is lesser than the 33 HKD an hour asked by the unions, this wage is suppose to boost their pay by 16.9% on average. It seems that Hong Kong understands that employees are the most valuable asset to enterprises, and they are trying to address the growing income gap.

Many countries already have minimum wage legislation in place, with hourly rates in New York and London set between 7.25 and 8.80 US dollars. According to Wikipedia, the following countries already have a minimum wage legislation:
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • People's Republic of China
  • European Union
  • France
  • Hong Kong (just added)
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Romania
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

So when is it Singapore's turn??

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Why so many Android App Stores?

    I don't understand why there is a need for so many Android App Stores. According to what I read, Amazon is going to set up their own Android App Store, and many will soon follow suit. The funny thing is developers welcome it.

    Looking at it from a customer perspective, I will only want to go to one place to get all my apps. Will I want to go to different AppStores to just look for a certain app? It's true that customers don't care where the app comes from, but it's also true that they will not want to go to multiple app stores to look for a single app. In fact, I think the only time where someone will make such an effort to find an app is when the app is free.

    Anyway, the fragmentation of Android is getting worst by the month. Not only you have Android handsets that cannot be updated immediately when a security vulnerability is detected, you may even be downloading apps from rouge AppStores that may have malware embedded within it.

    The funny part is, why developers think that this is a good thing?

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Why Flash and Java are no longer installed by default on Mac OS

    Apple has announced that they are no longer installing Flash and Java by default on Mac OS. Many said that Apple is trying to restrict the options presented to developers. I disagree.

    It may be one of the reasons but in my opinion, it's not the main reason. I feel that there are 2 main reasons why they are no longer pre-installed:
    1. Flash and Java do not run optimally on Mac OS
    2. Number of Flash and Java security vulnerability reports have been increasing

    Anyone who uses the Mac knows that Flash for some reason runs quite slowly on the Mac, and it uses quite a bit of resources. I have no idea why but this has been the case for some time. For Java, I do not really think it's significantly slower though. However, we all know that Steve Jobs focuses a lot on user experience and given his track record, it's not surprising that he's making some noise over it.

    The main reason I feel though is the number of security vulnerability reports for Flash and Java. Everyone knows that Microsoft and Apple are playing a number game now. Apple has always claimed that they are more secured than Microsoft. By not installing Flash and Java by default on Macs, they will indirectly reduce the number of security vulnerability reports for Mac devices on the whole, thereby making them more secured. That's also the reason they stopped doing a Mac version of Java. They do not want to waste resources fixing a product that is not theirs, and they do not want to keep patching the Mac OS over problems unrelated to their product. Mac OS patches are quite big by the way.

    I do not think that they will restrict Flash and Java from the Mac OS itself, with the exception of iOS. Flash can always be downloaded and installed and in the case of Java, if it is truly open source, someone will be able to make a version that runs on the Mac. After all, Mac is Unix based and Java can be installed even on a Linux machine. I don't see why it cannot be installed on a Mac.

    We'll wait and see.

    Monday, November 8, 2010


    I quote from Mohandas Gandhi:

    Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man's happiness really lies in contentment.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Quantitative Easing is about Payback!

    When I heard the news that the Feds are again flooding the economy with USD600 billion, my first thought was that the Feds are doing it for the sake of proving to people that they are trying to do something, even though it will do nothing to help in the US unemployment rate.

    However after reading some of the comments on this Quantitative Easing (QE2), it hits me that the reason for this round of easing has nothing to do with the unemployment rate or the economy. Personally, I think it's all about payback time to the economies that control their currencies.

    What does QE2 guarantees? USD currency depreciation. Any difference between USD currency depreciating and other currencies appreciating? None that I can see.

    My belief is that the Feds are going to continue doing QE2 as long as
    1. inflation is below average
    2. economy growth is below average
    3. other countries' currencies are strictly controlled by the respective governments from following the market

    I believe the last point may be the deciding factor for the Feds. Therefore, the more you see some countries refusing to let the market decide the currency rates, well the more the Feds will continue their QE2. What can the other countries do about it? I guess none. Who wants to be the reserve currency of the world? I don't think anyone does.

    It's payback time, at least from the US perspective.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Students think that attitude does not count in job hunting??

    I find it quite disappointing that students nowadays think that grades are everything. It seemed that based on the recent Singapore Kindness Youth Forum, they have the impression that grades take higher priority than all else, especially in finding jobs. I'm not sure who gave them this impression but this is not exactly true. Let me explain.

    I do agree that grades do take a part in the screening of the job interviewees, but attitude also plays a big part in the hiring process. In the final round of interview, it's always the way you present yourself and your attitude, that determines the result. For all those working adults, it's well known that grades may only help you in your first job. After that, your grades don't matter that much.

    I find it quite disappointing that student nowadays think that grades supersedes everything. Are our schools teaching this kind of values to the students? Are students now dragged into the rat race so early?

    That portion on compulsory community work is another area which I cannot phantom. Kindness comes from the heart. If you do not have the heart, does it matter if you're forced to do it? Isn't it better to have it as a CCA? I believe it will be more meaningful for everyone if one volunteers to do community work instead of being forced to.

    Is that how Singapore will evolve? Everything is all about grades?

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    What does the loss of the Chief Software Architect signify?

    This news is pretty old but most will know that Ray Ozzie from Microsoft is stepping down as Chief Software Architect. Personally though, I think this does not bode well for Microsoft.

    I would think for a company to survive, there should be someone at the helm heading the direction that the company should go towards to. In a software company, the direction is implicitly given by the Chief Software Architect through the foundation of all the products created by the company.

    With the removal of this position, I feel that Microsoft has lost their direction. That would mean that they will go any direction that the new trend will bring them. The Chief Software Architect is suppose to unite the architecture and framework so that all products will be "grown" through the base architecture.

    Personally, I think that if the product cannot be created from the base fundamental architecture, that would mean that it should be best handled separately by another company. However, this doesn't seem the direction that Microsoft is taking.

    Looking forward, it seems that Microsoft will form different divisions for the different products within the company. It may start acting as if it is a conglomerate, and no longer as a single company. Not a good direction in my opinion because lessons learned from one product cannot be applied to others due to the different architectures.

    My thoughts of course.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Effective Communication

    I quote from Jim Rohn:

    Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.

    Simply said, it doesn't matter what you know but what you do with that knowledge.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    62? 65? 68?

    Am I surprised about the news that they intend to raise the retirement age to 68? Nope. I sort of expected this when I read that Europe is intending to raise their retirement age. Other than what the news has mentioned about Finland, Britain is also intending to raise their retirement age (for men) to 68 from 65 years of age.

    However, one important point was missing from the news article. The reason for the other countries' decision to raise their retirement ages is because of *drum roll* their pension funds. So what's our reason? Our pension funds? What pension funds?

    All this talk on raising of retirement ages and working as long as you can is all based on one big assumption. We all enjoy our work and will like to continue working as long as possible. This is really a big assumption. Are all of us happy at work? How many of us drag ourselves to work everyday? How many of us look at our retirement as an end goal when we go to work?

    Not all of us are able to find work that matches what we like to do. For example, if I choose to play classical guitar for a living, will I survive in Singapore? Not very likely. However, will I play guitar as long as I can? Yes I will.

    There is a mismatch in expectations. We're expected to work longer because Singapore depends on human capital for its growth. The prices of goods and services are also rising faster than our salary due to the "productivity" drive. As a result, we become more stressed at work and work longer hours to "do more with less". What does that result in? Lesser babies. I've written about this in another post here.

    Some people will of course ask, where is the proof? Where is the connection? I just ask a very simple question. Do you have the mood for intimacy if you're stressed up?

    This leads to a vicious cycle where the number of elderly people will soon surpass the number of younger folks. Lesser people working will lead to lower taxes and consumption which results in lesser jobs. Solution? Easy way which most are taking is to redefine the definition of elderly. 60 considered as old? No no. 62. 65. 68. They will keep increasing the retirement age. The not so easy way? Innovation that will allow different industries to do things differently, and in a more efficient manner. For example, look at how Android helped Motorola.

    All this talk on increasing retirement age is valid and achievable, if and only if, innovation is encouraged in all the different types of industries, and there is no need for people to switch industries to chase after the latest "trend". People can choose to work in areas that they are interested in, and yet able to make a living. When you're working on things that you're interested in, it's more likely that you'll be able to enjoy your work, leading to a reduction in stress levels. It's also more likely that innovation happens when you're doing things that you're interested in.

    Anyway, productivity doesn't help you do more with less. Innovation does.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Inflation is up 3.7%

    These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2010:
    January: 0.2%
    February: 1.0%
    March: 1.6%
    April: 3.2%
    May: 3.2%
    June: 2.7%
    July: 3.1% 
    August: 3.3%
    September: 3.7%

    Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by 9.1% and 4.7% respectively year on year. Other than Communication costs, all other items' inflation is once again in the positive zone.

    I believe the increase in inflation is mainly because of the rise in electricity tariffs, and this would be the theme for the rest of the year. This spike is unexpected though. I will refrain from adjusting my inflation estimates, but it would seem that it would hit 2.7% or even more for this year.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Nowadays they don't go to elections with concrete plans?

    I watch with interest in the upcoming US elections in November. It seems that the upcoming US election is not about giving concrete plans on how to move ahead, but to see who is more popular. Republicans are rumoured to be able to grab the majority of seats in upcoming election because of the dissatisfaction with the ruling party. That would be a pity though.

    Ok, I don't live in the US and I can't say that I know a lot about US politics. However, I do know that it seems that whatever the Democrats proposed, the Republicans are sure to oppose. I don't know about you but if someone seems to be vetoing everything that I'm proposing, how will I then resolve the problem? People seem to forget that the economic crisis was years in the making, and it cannot be resolved overnight. People also forgotten which ruling party caused the US deficits and in a way, this economic crisis.

    One example of the politics being played now in US is the topic of the growing US deficits. The Republicans initially aim to continue the tax cuts even for high-income people, contending that taxes shouldn't be raised during the economic recovery. It was said that the economic harm of ending any of the Bush tax cuts would outweigh deficit concerns. However, did they come out with any concrete plans to reduce the deficits? So those people earning millions can be exempted from income tax, some of whom were "saved" by the injection of funds by the US government?

    It doesn't really seem fair to the Democrats because they were not even given the chance to implement their policies in the first place. But then again, life is never fair. Pity...

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Why bother resenting?

    I quote from Catherine Ponder:

    When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    I really wonder what's the consultation all about

    I really do wonder whether any thought was given to the topics that the Singapore government throws out for consulting. The recent consultation which I found laughable was the increase in fine if the telcos violate their licence conditions or codes of practice. Instead of having a fixed ceiling of $1 million, they are considering tweaking the formula so that operators can be fined up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover.

    I find it very amusing that the government is consulting the very companies that they're regulating and asking them if it's reasonable to increase the penalty. Which company will say oh it's perfectly fine. 10% of the annual turnover is reasonable. Yes yes. And pigs can fly too.

    If the government consults us, the citizens, if it's reasonable to fine someone $300 for littering, do you think anyone will say that it's reasonable. Most I guess will say that a warning is more than enough. Does that mean the government is going to remove the fine?

    Speaking of $300, recently SMRT was fined $300 as two of its services failed to leave the bus terminals on time on three occasions in the last six months.

    SMRT, a big company earning millions of dollars per year, being fined $300 for not adhering to the contract.


    Citizens, most earning around 5 digits per year, also being fined $300 for littering.

    Laughable right? What's the use of the penalty then as deterrence? $300 for a big company like SMRT. I will say that they can even pay for it by getting the staff in one of the divisions within SMRT to donate $1 each. I always find it amusing whenever I read such news.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Android 2.2 is not suitable for tablets and yet the manufacturers are still making tablets??

    I find it very amusing that even though Google has announced that Android v2.2, codenamed Froyo, is not optimised for use on tablets and the apps will not run on that form factor, you still see many manufactuers creating such products based on Android v2.2. That would also explain why some of the Android tablets are curiously small.

    So is it profit all that matters? Did those manufacturers not do any R&D to see if Android apps works on the tablet form factor? The key point in Android is not in the operating system, but it's apps. The existence of apps in smartphones have so far define the success. Looking at the iPad, it seems that this is true too.

    It would seem that many of the manufacturers doesn't seem to be quite conversant in technology.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Quantitative Easing only delays the inevitable

    I am not sure what the Feds are thinking when they are looking at going back to quantitative easing. The term quantitative easing describes a monetary policy used by central banks to increase the supply of money by increasing the excess reserves of the banking system. The results speak for themselves.

    With quantitative easing = economy up
    Without quantitative easing = economy stagnant or on a downward trend

    My question to the Feds is whether are you going to do "quantitative easing" forever? Is that the way to prop up the economy or should you try to find the root cause and resolve it? If no one is purchasing financial assets, including government bonds, agency debt, mortgage-backed securities and corporate bonds, from banks and other financial institutions, is there something very wrong with the assets and/or the risk management and/or the product structure?

    I really like to see how long the Feds can continue quantitative easing. Why do they want to delay the inevitable?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Thoughts on the Liverpool Sale

    Thoughts that I have on the Liverpool sale. I quote from Angela Merkel:

    I feel sorry sometimes for these sportsmen and women who put in just as much effort as the footballers. For example, athletes train at least as hard as footballers but have to be happy if they can earn enough to finance a decent education.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Impose a limit where the developer must build on the land that they acquire

    I am not sure if there is such a limit in place but quite often, I've seen news where URA and HDB have announced that they have sold so and so land parcel for x million. However after that, there is no news on the construction until much later.

    I believe there lies the problem. The government may be using the land sales as the reason that the developers are well-supplied but the problem is that the developers are sitting on the land, doing nothing. What matters to us is that houses are built, and not the land that is sold. That piece of land means nothing to us.

    We all know the reasons why developers are sitting on the land. Waiting for the right moment to launch their property so that they can make a fat handsome profit, etc. Imposing a time limit whereby developers must start construction of their properties will help in preventing excess inflation of property prices because the developers will bid cautiously in view of this time limit. This will also prevent excessive houses being built in a certain quarter as the respective authorities can space out their land sales so that a certain number of houses are available every quarter. This will in turn prevent excessive rise in prices.

    I still think the property prices are crazy. An executive condo costs more than a condo?? Then the government might as well take over all the housing construction.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Windows Phone 7 worth all the hype?

    I did not feel any excitement when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7. I guess the reason may be because back when I was still doing mobile programming, time and time again I was disappointed by Microsoft Windows Mobile, especially when the promises that they made never happened (e.g. Uploading from mobile IE did not work for the longest time).

    Anyway, some of the Windows Phone 7 will hit Singapore shores on 21 Oct 2010 (Singtel at least). Singtel will be releasing the HTC HD7, LG Optimus 7, and Samsung Omnia 7. Starhub will release the HTC 7 Mozart and LG Optimus 7 while M1 will only release the HTC 7 Trophy.

    I was looking through the YouTube videos on the first look for Windows Phone 7 and indeed, it's much better than the Windows Mobile and will help Microsoft to catch up with iPhone and Android. However, I don't like the tiles (you can take a look at the Youtube videos below) format, which is what Microsoft is using to differentiate themselves from the iPhone and Android.

    It seems to me that when you access the Home Screen, the tiles seem to start loading images to be super-imposed on the tiles. Some say it's cool. Personally, I don't like it because:
    • everytime you access the Home Screen, you'll be using your data plan to download these images to be super-imposed on the tiles. The more tiles you have pinned on the Home page, the more images you have to preload.
    • the phone will be constantly using the data plan if you're always going back to the Home page (not sure if they're cached).
    • the battery life will suffer due to this constant usage of the data plan.
    Furthermore, I find that the screen is a little confusing because too many images are put randomly together. In one of the Youtube videos below, you'll see the reviewer even had problems trying to find the Pictures app. Icons are there for a reason and I very much prefer icons than a tile that constantly changes. No one talked about the battery life but judging from the tiles that I'm seeing, I don't think it'll be good. By the way, there is no copy and paste.

    Even though Microsoft said that they are not targeting any specific market when they build this OS (personally, I think he shouldn't say that because that means that they have no idea which direction they are going and they are playing catch-up), it looks to me that they are targeting the MS Outlook and Office users. It remains to be seen how XBox Live will be positioned for the Windows Phone 7 but personally, I think that they have made a miscalculation. The user experience for games on the PC/XBox and a touch-screen phone is completely different. Likewise for Office documents. It's a long shot to convince users that you can use the full Microsoft Office features on a mobile phone.

    If you're still interested in Windows Phone 7, I found some Youtube Videos below on the mobile phones to be released in Singapore. Here is a self-help link from Microsoft if you're interested in taking a look at the user guide.

    HTC HD7

    LG Optimus 7

    Samsung Omnia 7

    HTC 7 Mozart

    HTC 7 Trophy

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Beware of the draft HTML5 specs

    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the official governing body that oversees HTML5, warned the Web community that HTML5 is not a ratified standard and that implementing it too soon is not wise.

    "The problem we’re facing right now is there is already a lot of excitement for HTML5, but it’s a little too early to deploy it because we’re running into interoperability issues," said Philippe Le Hegaret, W3C interaction domain leader.

    The earliest date that was floated around for HTML5 is early 2012. If you're really going into HTML5, just be prepared that you may need to change it again in 2 years time as the battle may go anywhere now. Not only is Ogg fighting against H264, Google has also complicated the landscape (again) by introducing WebP, a method of lossy compression that can be used on photographic images.

    Things will most probably change closer to 2012. They always do. Is it wise to implement HTML5 now? If your target audience are the iPad, iPhone and Android users, maybe. Your code will just be a whole lot more complicated and if you're using video, you'll need to provide both ogg and H264 videos to ensure usability across browsers. You can take a look at my post here on how to use HTML5 for videos.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Mediacorp assumes that everyone likes football???

    I'm going to keep this short. My question to Mediacorp is quite simple. If there is at least 1 football season every month (YOG, Commonwealth and the upcoming Asia Games in October), does that mean Ch 5 and Okto are going to show football all the time and assume all Singaporeans like football?

    This looks to me like bad planning.

    Monday, October 11, 2010


    I quote from Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris:

    The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.

    Start relaxing.

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    The 26 charging stations are not really usable

    I read with amusement on the 26 charging stations that are being built for the electric cars. Out of the 26 charging stations, only 1 of which allows 45 mins of quick charging. The rest requires 8 hours of charging.

    There is a serious usability problem in this setup. First of all, will someone even wait 40 mins to "fill up the tank"?

    It seems that they built the charging stations using the technology as the starting point. Instead, they should look at it from the use case perspective. How will people use the charging station?

    Looking from this angle, they should instead outfit certain car parks or shopping centers with chargers that can be activated using credit card. This would encourage usage as this is the most likely scenario where people will park their cars for 45mins to 8hours. They could also sell charging kits that will allow DIY charging.

    Who will use the charging stations if you need to fill up even for 45mins?

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Web Analysis: Another use of Cloud Computing.

    Recently I was reading about a certain organisation's social media monitoring tool and I agree that it is one of the types of cloud computing applications that would be useful to any organisation.

    Basically, you're using the cloud computing infrastructure to scan and analyse the web for certain bits of information that are of interest to you. In the above context, it's to check on what people are saying about your organisation. However, this could be anything ranging from a certain rival's product launch, or a certain area that you're interested in and wish to "follow".

    Cloud computing will be useful in this case because you may need the information on an ad-hoc basis. Therefore, it's not cost effective for you to own the infrastructure to support such a setup if the information is only needed maybe once a month.

    Quite interesting to see that cloud computing vendors are finally providing applications that businesses are really interested in.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    SGX doesn't provide visibility to the counters

    Just today there was an article talking about companies delisting from Singapore. Personally though, I think the reason is quite simple. SGX is only just providing a public exchange for organisations to list, but SGX is not providing any value-add to it. I'm not sure what the Hong Kong exchange provides but it's a known fact that organisations listed in the Hong Kong exchange have much higher valuations.

    SGX is not helping by coming out with a super unfriendly interface that prevents investors from getting up to date information about the organisations that they are interested in. It's rather difficult to retrieve announcements or reports from the SGX website.

    SGX also does not provide any visibility to the newly listed counters or make use of the information that is stored within SGX. Unless the investor is patient, it'll be quite difficult to even know the existence of a listed organisation. If you wish to further analyse it, it's even more user unfriendly.

    Personally, I think SGX is making it very difficult for listed organisations to attract the investors' attention, and it's up to the individual organisations to make an effort to engage the remisiers or the brokers to "sell" their organisation. If I'm the CEO, this will come to mind. Why am I paying SGX all those listing fees anually if I need to do everything myself? If I'm not getting a valuation that is comparable to other exchanges, why should I list here?

    Makes sense to you?

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    The Golden Rule

    From the Golden Rule (Wikipedia):
    1. One should treat others according to how one would like others to treat one's self (positive form, passive voice)
    2. Treat others as you would like to be treated (positive form, active voice)
    3. One should not treat others in ways one would not like to be treated (negative/prohibitive form, passive voice; Also called the Silver Rule)
    4. Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated (negative/prohibitive form, active voice. Also called the Silver Rule)

    The common English phrasing is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". A key element of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group. The world will be a better place if everyone follows the Golden Rule.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Mediacorp needs competition

    I really miss SPH Mediaworks now. When SPH Mediaworks were around, Mediacorp tried to innovate and the result was interesting programmes for both SPH Mediaworks and Mediacorp programmes. After SPH Mediaworks merged with Mediacorp, Mediacorp has went back to its old ways most probably because there is a lack of competition. They are the only broadcaster in Singapore and they have no incentives to innovate and improve because there is no need.

    One of the examples of how laid back Mediacorp is now is last Sunday's movie showcase. I believe all of us seen the I am Legend advertisements the past few days. Guess what movie was shown just now? I-Robot. Wasn't it suppose to be I am Legend?

    This is such a simple task. A sign of complacency?

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Working from Home is not for everyone

    Read an article today about working from home. I did have the opportunity to work from home previously and my feeling is that working from home is not for everyone. Advantage of working from home is that you cut your transport time but it does not work for all types of jobs.

    Self discipline is very important when you work from home. Your family must know that at certain times, you are not to be disturbed. Being outcome driven and an expert in time management are mandatory requirements. You must know when to say no.

    Working from home also does not apply to all types of jobs. If your job requires frequent interaction with people or requires access to location specific information, your job is not ideal for working from home. It does not apply to all types of jobs.

    Last but not least, you will still have to meet up or go back to office once or twice a month. Like it or not, most of the jobs we are holding requires us to work as a team. If you are working as a silo, you are not working efficiently. The meet up is to catch up on the progress of the project and to discuss about the critical milestones.

    I can go on and on about working remotely. For those interested, read up about kaizen, in particular the section on remote teams. It explains the advantages and disadvantages of such a setup.

    Most importantly though, your boss must trust that you are responsible and will get the job done. That is the most important criteria if you wish to work from home.

    Personally though, I like the face to face interaction. More work can be done for me if I am able to trash things out in person. Some things are hard to convey through written words. 8)

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Global Logistics Properties and MapleTree Industrial Trust do not look that great

    Updated 11 Oct 2010: More information about GLP's dilution based on the latest prospectus as of now.
    Updated 12 Oct 2010: More information about MIT's dilution based on the latest prospectus as of now. 

    I guess most people are talking about the upcoming IPOs by GIC (Global Logistics Properties) and MapleTree (MapleTree Industrial Trust). However, I am unsure why the choice was made to launch these 2 IPOs because based on their prospectus, the offers do not look appealing at all.

    One thing for investors to note about the Global Logistics Properties (GLP) is that it is not a REIT. You're investing in a company that invests in/build logistic properties, that does not have any dividend policy. In fact based on the wording, I have the impression that there will not be any dividends issued because the funds will be mostly used to fund acquisitions in China. Personally, I feel that there are other better companies to invest in, especially of the fact that GLP's properties are all concentrated in China and Japan.

    What that was shocking to me is that according to the prospectus, investors subscribing for and/or purchasing the Offering Shares at the Offering Price will experience an immediate dilution in net asset value (“NAV”) per Share immediately after the completion of the Offering. The dilution percentage is approximately 29.2%.

    Seriously, this is the first IPO I've seen in the last 5 years that will suffer an immediate NAV dilution upon completion of the IPO. Is that good? Not to me.

    Based on the latest prospectus, the dilution has been reduced to 8%. That's much better than the 29.2% which was in the preliminary prospectus. However, there is a reference to the recent developments where GLP will be purchasing 2 companies, paying 70% of USD335 million using shares. I've roughly estimated that the dilution will be around 13%, give and take due to the exchange rates. The dilution will be dependent on the share price when the payment is made. This is still better than the 29.2% dilution which was noted previously. However, as I'm looking more for dividends in this type of companies, I do not think I will subscribing to this IPO.

    Next one I thought that I might consider is MapleTree Industrial Trust. This is a Singapore REIT consisting of industrial properties that MapleTree has acquired from JTC. Although the Sponsor is MapleTree, it is stated specifically that MapleTree Business Centre and Comtech will be excluded from the first right of refusal by the Sponsor over future sales of industrial properties by the Sponsor or any of its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Seriously though, I'm more interested in the MapleTree Business Centre than the other properties that are in the REIT.

    One thing I also had an issue with was that out of the ~$1.1billion that is raised, only 183million will be used for the acquisition of the 6 properties held by MapleTree Singapore Industrial Trust (MSIT). The majority of the proceeds will be instead used for:
    • payment of the MIT Private Trust Distribution to the Existing MIT Unitholders;
    • partial redemption of the MIT Private Trust Units; and
    • repayment of S$977.8 million of MIT’s existing debt.

    In fact, the majority of the proceeds will be used to repay MIT's existing debt. If the issue price is higher than expected, more payment will instead be given to the MIT Private Trust Distribution. I would have very much preferred that the extra amount raised will be put into working capital, which is not the case. This IPO to me seems to be an avenue for MapleTree to get a new debt facility. Furthermore, the REIT managers are the same as MapleTreeLog. Their track record isn't that great to me and they did commit a mistake initially that pushed the gearing of MapleTreeLog quite high just before the great recession. The MIT gearing upon listing is around 38.5%, quite high I would say even though they have spare cash of about $65 million.

    MIT, like GLP, will be also be priced above their NAV. The dilution upon listing will approximately be around 7.5%.

    All in all, my take is that both of these IPOs can be given a miss and will most probably drop below IPO price after 6 months. I do not see how the use of the proceeds of the IPO can aid the companies to grow post-IPO.

    When there is a will, there is a way

    I quote from Vince Lombardi:

    The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

    Quite often success translate to attempting to achieve something that has not been done before, be it be you personally or the organisation/world. That is why you'll need strong will in order to achieve it. You'll need to overcome the barrier to change. You'll need to convey the usefulness and effectiveness of what you're doing even though the outcome may only be visible years down the road.

    You will need the will.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Thinking of Okinawa

    Just saw Japan Hour and they were playing "Shima Uta" briefly. I've heard this song some time back and it was nice hearing it again. Apparently, my wife said that this song is suited for the guitar. :)

    Randomly found one Youtube video below.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Inflation is up 3.3%

    These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2010:
    January: 0.2%
    February: 1.0%
    March: 1.6%
    April: 3.2%
    May: 3.2%
    June: 2.7%
    July: 3.1% 
    August: 3.3%

    Housing and Transport (together with Education & Stationery) are once again leading the pack, rising by 9% and 3.1% respectively year on year. After the Great Singapore Sale effect, Clothing & Footwear inflation is once again in the positive zone.

    Judging from the current trend, inflation may be around 2.6% - 2.7% year-on-year. Quite high even though the Singapore Dollar has strengthened by quite a bit. Funny thing is that food inflation is still increasing month on month even though the Singapore Dollar has been strengthening. Food prices going up too fast, or our population going up too fast?

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Some things to note about the SIA Bond paying 2.15%

    I was curious over the SIA Bond paying 2.15%, especially with all that news about it being meant for retail investors and that the bonds will be issued in denominations of $1,000. Well, that's not exactly true when I went to the ATM machine. Some things to take note:
    1. The bond is issued in denominations of $1,000 but the minimum application amount is $10,000.
    2. The bond is unsecured. Using an example, your mortgage loan is secured because if you're unable to pay, the creditor is able to seize the property to pay off the loan.
    3. The bond is unrated.

    The bonds are also ranked similar to all and future unsecured loans. The current unsecured loan is $900million, due in December 2011. Interest paid for that loan? 4.15%.

    Frankly, at a rate of 2.15%, I thought it was secured against some sort of securities. Apparently it is not. Good deal? Bad deal? You decide.

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      Why is it worth looking at the Minimum Wage from a different perspective?

      Singapore has so far refused to entertain the thought of enacting a Minimum Wage law because I believe they are worried that they will lose their competitiveness. If you look at it from an angle, it is true. How do you gauge the worth of a certain job? How do you determine the wage for a job scope and how you get people to agree with you that the wage is the minimum? Manual labour? Mental labour?

      All the above and maybe much more will come into mind when you think of enacting a Minimum Wage law. However, your viewpoint will start to change once your objective is much clearer. What's the ultimate objective of enacting a Minimum Wage law? It's to survive in Singapore and minimise expoitation. If you look at it from the objective perspective, you will find that you won't ask the above questions. You will ask a set of different questions. How many meals a person need to eat daily? How much is a meal? Cost of accommodation? Cost of Transport? I believe the numbers here are much more factual than determining the wage for a certain job scope and I believe the numbers are available.

      To add some icing on the cake, Singapore need not enact the Minimum Wage law. They can just issue guidelines on the Minimum Wage. The reason is quite simple. If you look at the objective, it's to determine the minimum wage needed to survive in Singapore. Therefore, it should be up to the employers to determine the job scope needed in order to justify hiring that person. Give a constant and the variables should add up.

      I believe Singaporeans are not stupid. If a company is paying below the minimum wage, they should be smart enough to see if it's justifiable. There may be certain business cases that justify paying below the minimum wage. If they are over-exploited, they can always find another job. This will bring some power back to the employees and prevent employers from exploiting their workers. The guidelines give employees a choice too because they have a choice in the jobs that they wish to take.

      The guidelines should be widely available for anyone to obtain so that everyone knows about it. Fix a certain period where it will be reviewed so the employers have some lead time to plan for the a wage hike if they know that the inflation is high for that year. The fact that the guidelines are widely available (even to foreign workers) will pressure the employers to at least justify the cost if it is below the minimum wage.

      Implementable? No idea. I'm not a politician, but I like to daydream. :)

      Tuesday, September 21, 2010

      Failure of a memory card in a SAN can cause so much havoc?

      On Aug 25, the failure of a storage area network (SAN) caused Web site outages at 26 of Virginia Information Technologies Agency's (VITA) 83 state agencies. The EMC SAN malfunction has been blamed on a memory card failure. A backup SAN that was supposed to act as a fail-over system then also experienced problems, according to published reports. As of end Aug 2010, all but three agency sites had been restored, leaving the commonwealth's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of Taxation and the state Board of Elections without services.

      So the question is how did this happen? The database for the critical systems should have DR mechanisms in place to assist in restoration of the databases. The weird part is that a single memory card failure caused so many systems to fail. Where is the redundancy and fail-over?

      I've no internal knowledge of the database design but it seems to me that the databases are designed incorrectly.

      It's not wrong to have a central database that is accessed by the organisation. However, the database files should be kept in different disk arrays. Translated. If your organisation's central database has 5 different systems connected to it, the database files should be stored in 5 different disk arrays. This is to prevent the failure of one array to down the whole organisation's systems.

      Using the above example, a single memory card failure would have only down 1 system. Therefore, I'm surprised that it managed to disrupt all the systems. To me, that seems to be a database design failure. Either all the different tables were created in 1 database file or that the different database files were stored into 1 disk array. The failure of that disk array resulted in a big nightmare.

      SAN storage do promise much in terms of redundancy,availability, resiliency and maintainability but as a technology person, I will not rely totally on it. A system must be built to cater for this kind of disaster recovery and they should not overly rely on the storage tier for the disaster recovery. For example, up to now I'm a little hesitant on the Virtual Tape Library (VTL) technology for the simple fact that it uses hard disks. There is a certain lifespan attached to each hard disk in terms of the number of times it can be written. How can I be assured that the hard disk will work when required? How can I be assured that when the backup is being done on the VTL, the source/target is not corrupted in the first place, causing my backup to be rendered useless. Of course tape will also fail in some point in time but that's like 15 to 20 years. By that time, I should have no need of that data.

      Maybe it's my job to be skeptical but knowing technology, I know of too many instances where things will fail. The application design itself should cater for disaster recovery and contrary to opinion, the installation of the application server and database are important.

      Monday, September 20, 2010

      Why are you angry?

      I quote from Gautama Buddha:

      Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

      Whenever you're angry with someone, take a moment and think about this sentence. Are you hurting yourself for the sake of getting angry with someone? Is it necessary? Will there be an outcome or you're doing it just to spite the other person?

      Friday, September 17, 2010

      Restrictions for Naked Short Sellers

      I fully agree with the recent directives by the European Commission to safeguard the Europe financial markets. Frequent traders of some OTC derivatives in Europe will have to use central clearinghouses to close sales, while naked short-sellers would be required to submit proof they can access the underlying security to settle a trade designed to profit from falling prices. There is no mention of the penalty though if they are caught breaking the rules. I assume they are fined many times of the total cost of their transaction. The penalty must be high enough so that people will think twice before doing naked shorts.

      I especially agree with the ruling on the naked short-sellers because they distort the market. Short sellers borrow assets and sell them, betting the price will fall, buying them later and pocketing the difference. In naked short-selling, traders never borrow the assets, so betting is unlimited. If your betting is unlimited, your demand and supply in short, screws up. How would the price of the asset reflect true demand?

      The only disappointment is that this only applies to Europe. This should be the standard rule for the world financial markets.

      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

      2FA is a much better security mechanism

      I do not understand why the security guys have an obsession with super long passwords that make no sense at all. If you're looking at it from the technical point of view, it makes sense as such super long passwords will delay the hackers from cracking the passwords. The key word is delay.

      The better solution would be to use 2 factor authentication. The 2nd factor authentication is usually a random number that a person receive through a device or through SMS. This randomness in the user authentication is a far better security option that creating long passwords with those weird requirements such as a Capital letter, numbers, etc.

      We all know how users remember those super long hard to remember passwords. Which one is a bigger security threat?

      Tuesday, September 14, 2010

      Risk is part of parcel of life

      I quote from William Shedd:

      A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.

      In whatever we do, risks are always existent. The moment we wake up to the moment we sleep. The point is whether the risk is acceptable to you and to the situation you are currently in. Everyone's risk tolerance is different and you'll need to find the amount of risk that you and/or your family is willing to accept.

      Monday, September 13, 2010

      Cellular Data Bug in iOS v4.1

      I've just upgraded to iOS v4.1 and unfortunately, I've found a bug in less than half an hour. Not everyone will encounter the bug though. I have a habit of turning off my Cellular Data unless I need to use data. This has been working since iOS v4. However, after tapping the Cellular Data on (non-3G) after I've upgraded to iOS v4.1, I am unable to get an Internet connection even though the iPhone indicated that I'm connected to the data network.

      There are only 2 ways that I know to resolve this. One way is to enable the 3G. The Cellular Data will work even after disabling the 3G. The other way is to tap on and off the Data Roaming under Settings > General > Network. Somehow it works after that.

      Hope they resolve this bug in iOS v4.2.

      Friday, September 10, 2010

      Apple has finally released the AppStore Guidelines

      After so much hoo ha over Apple's very vague guidelines on what applications are permitted in the AppStore, they have finally released the AppStore Review Guidelines. Note that they are guidelines although they are quite comprehensive, and it is stated the guidelines are living. Translated, it can change depending on circumstances. You can refer to the Apple's link here. Do note that only Apple Developers are able to see the guidelines.

      The guidelines are split into the following categories as of today:
      • Functionality
      • Metadata, ratings and rankings
      • Location
      • Push notifications
      • Game Center
      • iAds
      • Trademarks and trade dress
      • Media content
      • User interface
      • Purchasing and currencies
      • Scraping and aggregation
      • Damage to device
      • Personal attacks
      • Violence
      • Objectionable content
      • Privacy
      • Pornography
      • Religion, culture, and ethnicity
      • Contests, sweepstakes, lotteries, and raffles
      • Charities and contributions
      • Legal requirements

      They have also revised the agreement and they now allow third-party converters (e.g. Adobe) to create AppStore Apps, subjected to conformance to the guidelines of course. Maybe we'll see more interesting apps in the AppStore soon. Judging from the reaction by Adobe, I think it'll be quite soon that CS5 will have the functionality to convert Flash programs to AppStore Apps.

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