Saturday, January 30, 2010

Relax when you don't have the time for it

I quote from Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris:

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

I've absolutely no idea how am I going to do that. It seems like I'm getting more stress every month. I hope this really helps. I need it.


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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

11 more stations from Circle Line to open on 17 Apr 2010

The second phase of the Circle line is finally opening coming 17 Apr 2010 (Sat) after the opening of the first 5 stations on 28 May 2009.

The second phase of the Circle Line from Bartley (existing) to Dhoby Ghaut (new) comprises of 11 stations - Tai Seng, MacPherson, Paya Lebar, Dakota, Mountbatten, Stadium, Nicoll Highway, Promenade, Esplanade, Bras Basah and Dhoby Ghaut in that order. Looks like there's more new places to explore. For those without a car, opening of stations is always a chance for new exploration. :)

Hopefully with the opening of Paya Lebar station, the congestion at City Hall and Raffles Place MRT will be eased since you can now bypass the 2 interchanges. Anyway, you can refer to the map of the Circle line in my previous post here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Multi-tasking reduces productivity!

Recently, there has been a lot of talk of people multi-tasking at work. However, they should do some research on how multi-tasking affects productivity before commenting further. On the contrary, multi-tasking has been proven in research that it reduces productivity.

The reason is quite simple. Will you be able to finish a task faster if you concentrate on it solely or if you're happening to do 2-3 tasks at the same time? Will you be able to do a task more efficiently and with greater accuracy if you're concentrating on it solely, or if you're sharing your brain power with 2-3 other tasks at the same time?

I think the answer is pretty obvious. If you concentrate on resolving a single task at a time, you'll end up saving more time because you'll be able to get your results more quickly. The scary part is that some people can actually be hooked on to multi-tasking, end up unable to finish any task on time, and yet think that they are great multi-taskers.

Note that there's a difference between people multi-tasking and people who are good multi-taskers. Multi-taskers are usually masters in time allocation, while multi-tasking people are not. Having said that, that doesn't mean that there is no one who is good in multi-tasking. It's just that in general, our human brains are not suited to it.

There are several articles that comment on this topic. If you're interested, you can take a look at the post here and here. (not related to any of these 2 sites/authors)

Monday, January 25, 2010

No Inflation!

Updated 23 Feb 2010: Added the average inflation rate for 2009 using the new CPI basket

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%
October: -0.8%
November: -0.2%
December: 0%

Transport & Communication and Health Care is leading the charge, rising by 4.7% and 2.3% respectively year on year. Housing costs once again decreased the most (-5.6%) but will most probably increase from 1st January 2010 due to the increase in property tax, and will be mitigated slightly by the tax rebates. Transport & communication inflation should on an upwards trend due to increasing price of oil and resources...

The average inflation for 2009 is 0.2% as I've indicated since August and confirmed last month. Inflation will start rearing up its head from January onwards, especially in the middle of the year. Looks like I have to watch my budget this year.

Update: The average inflation rate for 2009 will be 0.6% using the new CPI calculation due to notable changes in housing & communication.

Earth Hour: 27 March 2010, 8.30pm

On March 28th 2009 8.30pm, many has demonstrated their growing concern over climate change by turning off their lights for 1 hour. Earth hour for the year 2010 has been set on 27 March (Sat) at 8.30pm.

However, showing concern over climate change need not be only demonstrated on that day. Singapore's National Environmental Agency (NEA) has already launched the energy efficient campaign some time back. For more tips on how to conserve energy, you can refer to their website here. Singapore's site for Earth Hour can also be found here. It doesn't seem to be updated though as of the date of this post.

Whether climate change is man-made or not is irrelevant. Reducing energy wastage is good for the environment and your wallet as well. Whatever steps that are initiated (e.g. not switching on your air-con for tonight) does make a difference. Start now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Resolving the problem where all your iPhone Apps cannot be launched

Just recently I helped someone resolve a weird problem on the iPhone. It seems that all the iPhone apps cannot be launched except for those apps that comes with the iPhone (e.g. Contacts, Weather). I did a little digging and it seems to be due to a syncing problem.

To resolve it, just do the following:
  1. Ensure that your iPhone is not plugged in
  2. Launch iTunes on your computer
  3. Click on Store > Deauthorize Computer (follow the instructions)
  4. Quit iTunes and relaunch it (may be optional)
  5. Click on Store > Authorize Computer (follow the instructions)
  6. Plug in your iPhone and do a sync

That's it. After this, all your apps will work. Apparently from what I understand, the iTunes software somehow indicated to your iPhone that all the apps are unauthorised which is why you're unable to launch your downloaded apps. Doing the above steps will help "reset" the iPhone authorisation.

Hope this helps...

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

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Listen to the full story before commenting

    I quote from Robert McCloskey:

    I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

    How often do we make the mistake of saying that we're listening, but in actual fact we're not? How often do you cut people halfway through their conversation. We should always try to listen and understand whatever is being said in totality before we form our own views.

    Listen to the full story before you give your comments. Otherwise, people might not feel that you're interested on what's being said and brush you off with a "Nevermind".

    Reiterate Johor hotline

    Recently someone told me that there is another case in Johor where someone was made to pay up for an accident that is not their fault. Always try to travel in a group and take note of the important numbers to call when you're there. Remember that looking at your rear view mirror is as important as looking in front.

    The Johor hotline number was communicated back in 2008. You can find more information in my post here.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Google is right in exiting China if such activities are still not contained

    I admire Google for the guts to indicate to people that they are willing to leave China as they are evidences that someone is trying to gain access to the information that they have in their servers. This shows that they take privacy seriously and are willing to put their foot down hard to protect the Google brand.

    It also seems that one of the reasons (rumours or facts?) why Google was hacked was because of a flaw in Internet Explorer. Steve Ballmer also commented to the news after Google's "shocking" announcements was that Microsoft will be staying put in China. See the irony?

    To any company, I personally feel 2 things are quite important and should be upheld regardless:
    • Company Branding
    • Intellectual Property Rights

    Bear in mind that when we give our personal information to anybody, there are usually terms and conditions that govern this exchange of information. Usually there will be clauses that says that they would not use or resell the personal information to third parties. Do you think someone who hacked into a system to gain access to your information will follow the terms and conditions?

    What I think is unfortunate was that Microsoft and Yahoo kept silent over these attacks. There were no comments so far from them on these attacks, which Google says its a regular occurrence.

    I believe any company should take steps to protect their branding and IP rights, even to the extend of exiting the market because in the long run, you'll be able to retain your unique advantage over your competitors. In the end, it's always the innovative companies that win. They have the capability to keep regenerating new ideas.

    Speaking of that, I wonder what Steve Jobs will announce on Jan 27. Hmm...

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Tell FIFA that we're no pushovers

    Singtel and Starhub should just give FIFA a price and tell them to take it or leave it. The reason is actually quite simple. Let's just imagine that you're working in Singtel or Starhub and your boss suddenly puts up a memo that all staff needs to take a pay cut of x% to subsidize the FIFA world cup rights. Would you agree to it? Of course not.

    The problem is that if they accept this "hefty" price increase, it would send a message to FIFA that we're willing to pay so much just to watch football. This would also inevitably increase all the other rights for the other soccer leagues. Are you sure you're willing to pay more and more every year for each season?

    If not, stand united with our telcos and send this message to FIFA.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    More Spending Less Taxes? My foot!

    I really think that all citizens should get a compulsory education in economics. Sometimes when I read about politicians promising more spending and less taxes, I really do wonder if they've any knowledge of economics.

    Even though I do not major in economics, I do know that if I want to spend more, the income must come from where. In my case, either I get a raise or someone gives me money to spend. In terms of government, they get their income primarily from taxes.

    Therefore, is "more spending less taxes" mathematically possible??

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

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Announcement of Windows Mobile 7 is too late

    I've just read rumours that Microsoft is thinking of announcing Windows Mobile 7. Personally, I think it's just a waste of time because lesser and lesser handset makers will support Windows Mobile.

    The reason is very simple. Let's say you're a handset maker and you wish to have an operating system to power your handset. You will only have 3 choices for your operating system:
    1. Create your own operating system
    2. Licence it from someone
    3. Use open-source

    These are the current big players in the handset market:
    1. Symbian (open-source)
    2. Android (open-source)
    3. iPhone OS (proprietary - create their own handsets)
    4. BlackBerry OS (proprietary - create their own handsets)
    5. Windows Mobile (proprietary - no handsets)

    If you're a handset maker and you choose not to create your own operating system, will you choose to spend money to licence it from Microsoft, or will you use Symbian or Android? I believe the answer is very obvious.

    Microsoft... You're caught sleeping once again and you're the last in the starting line. Note that the increase in Android market share seems to be at the expense of Windows Mobile.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Tax rate of 50%? That's crazy!

    Just saw the news for U.K. today. Seems like the U.K. government is going to tax those earning more than 1 million pounds 50%! To me personally, that looks like a large ditch effort to swing votes to the current party for the next election. This will not do any good to the U.K. economy.

    The reason is very simple. One of the best incentives for people to work hard is of course money. Now if the government is telling you that you can earn a lot, but I'm going to take half of it because you earn too much, what will be your reaction?

    There will only be two. Either you migrate away, or you'll stop working hard so you'll earn lesser. Either case, it is not good for the country. Your boss is usually richer than you and if your boss decides to migrate away or close down the company, how will that affect the country's employment rate?

    There are many side effects in chasing the rich away and many of the indirect problems will be less spending and even worsening unemployment. The rich are usually the ones with high disposable cash. I hope voters would be able to see that sometimes, the easy way out of resolving the problem might result in a even bigger problem in the future.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Learned something new about Curtain Rods/Tracks

    Just had a talk with James from Lowe Living Concept just now. Looks like even getting curtain rods/tracks is not that straight forward. I didn't know that there are different ways of fixing the curtain brackets and you will need to find out how the brackets are fixed before buying the curtain tracks/rods. I guess there's always a first time. Hopefully the curtain rods/tracks that I bought could fit in.

    Good news is that according to James, my flat would be ready by the end of the month. I guess that's partly because I gave him whatever he wanted quickly so that he could start work. These are some of the key stuff that you'll need to confirm before they could start work:
    • Colors for the whole flat
    • Air-con (so that it could be coordinated with the painting)
    • Type of Grilles
    • Lightings
    • Hob and Hood
    • Kitchen Sink and Tap
    • Design for all fabrications
    • Type of laminates used for all the fabrications
    • Size of fridge and washing machine base
    • Instant / Storage heaters
    • Shower screens/shower tracks
    • Bathroom accessories

    That's about the information that the contractor will need in order to start work, at least for me. I'm not sure if its the norm but for this renovation, I'm actually quite hands-off. I let James have a free-hand with us just confirming the main stuff. I never like the micro-manage so I guess the first thing that I look for in a contractor is whether can I trust him/her enough to be hands-off. So far my trust seems to be correctly placed.

    I will update again once things are up. Like I said previously, the furnishing of the new flat is much more exciting than the wedding preparations. :)

    2010. Another year of change

    2009 has been a mixed year and it is a year of change for me. I've finally adapted to my new job although I'm still quite tired when I come back from work everyday. I think it must be the age. As predicted last year, my new flat is ready and I've begun my renovation work. I've even changed guitar sections in the alumni group. :)

    For 2010, I guess it'll still be pretty much a year of transition and finishing what I've started in 2009. I'm still learning quite a bit in my new job and somehow, I start to find that exciting. Oh well. I must be a bit crazy up there to say that. I will have new projects on-hand which I will take from initiation to post-support. Hopefully I won't burn out trying to manage them and my new phase in life.

    Yup! I'm finally tying the knot this year and this year will mark that transition. However, I believe that both of us are more excited over the new flat than the wedding. Some parts of the wedding process can be fun (e.g. photo-taking) but some I personally feel is just a chore. Oh well... Renovation is going smoothly till now and hopefully I've made the right choice in selecting my contractor. So far so good. However, I do believe that this coming Chinese New Year, I'll have a logistic problem because of my complicated status (legal vs tradition). I'll also have to balance my new status with my commitments to my other group of friends whom I meet every week. Hmm...

    Last but not least, my guitar. LS seems to have grand plans for us to conquer the world... Oops, I mean umm, upgrade our guitar skills to a higher level. I still feel my sigh reading sucks but after switching to another section, I find that it has been more manageable for me. :D It's still quite difficult for me to find time to practice because I still fall asleep the moment I touch the bed. The problem is that for this year, I don't really see how I can find more time considering the transitions that I'm doing. I shudder to think of LS's plans for us (which he did shared briefly). :D

    I guess I'll have to concentrate one thing at a time... I've always been good in time management. Please don't fail me now.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Do not Worry. Think instead.

    I quote from Harold B. Walker:

    When you worry, you go over the same ground endlessly and come out the same place you started. Thinking, on the other hand, makes progress from one place to another. ... The problem of life is to change worry into thinking, and anxiety into creative action.

    The key distinction between worrying and thinking is something that this quote describes beautifully. Worry does not get you anywhere, but thinking may.

    Think about the solutions to the problems you're facing and not worry about it as there will be no outcome after all the worrying.

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Off-Peak Car (OPC) Scheme Changes to start from 25 Jan

    Seems like the government has finally put a date to the changes to the OPC scheme. From 25 Jan onwards, all the changes to the OPC scheme that were announced last year will be in effect. For more details, refer to my previous blog post here.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Why do you need Laylio? FStream can do the job

    Updated 13 Jan 2010: Added 93.8FM link
    Updated 15 Jan 2010: Added 95.8FM link 
    Updated 6 May 2010: Added 89.7FM, 90.5FM, 92.4FM, 94.2FM, 96.3FM, 96.8FM, 97.2FM link
    Updated 7 May 2010: Updated the rest of the links 

    I saw a new app called Laylio in the iPhone AppStore today. Previously I was already using FStream to listen to the radio but of course the curious side of me wanted to try the application.

    Unfortunately, it's quite disappointing. The App says that you might not be able to listen to the radio stream due to network congestion but that is absolutely not true. Why do I say that? I tried the very same station using FStream and I have absolutely no problems streaming the radio.

    To find out the URL of the online radio is actually quite simple, for a techie that is. It involves going into the webpage and looking at the source codes. Anyway, the following is the list of the current online Singapore radio stations that I have:

    To add this in FStream, do the following:
    • Use the iPhone's Mobile Safari, access this blog post and copy one of the above radio station links by tapping and holding on to the link URL.
    • Tap on FStream
    • Tap on Favourites
    • Tap on Edit
    • Tap on Add new webradio
    • Key in the name of the radio station in the Name box
    • Paste (Tap and hold until the magnifying glass appears) the above URL link to the URL box
    • Tap on Save
    • Tap on Done
    • Tap on Play
    • Tap on the radio station that you have just added.

    That's it. Upon playing, it will automatically detect the radio stream type and bits per second.

    You will not get the streaming problem you encountered for Laylio (as of the date of this blog post). Hope this is useful.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Google Nexus One is available to Singapore

    Google newest phone built by HTC, Nexus One, is just launched. I do not want to repeat the specs of the phone. You can see (and purchase) the phone at Google's website here. It costs USD 529, excluding shipping. The cost is quite high because it is not tied to any telco.

    I've not used the Nexus One or any Android phones before so I cannot comment on it's functionality. Everyone is obviously comparing the iPhone with the Nexus One. I personally believe both have their fans and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    Usually I will take note of 1 particular section of a phone's specifications. Below is that section comparing the Nexus One and iPhone 3GS.

    Nexus One
    iPhone 3GS
    Height x Width
    x Depth (mm)
    119 x 59.8 x 11.5
    115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3
    Weight (g)
    Talk time
    Up to 10 hours on 2G
    Up to 7 hours on 3G
    Up to 12 hours on 2G
    Up to 5 hours on 3G
    Internet use
    Up to 5 hours on 3G
    Up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi
    Up to 5 hours on 3G
    Up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi
    Video playback
    Up to 7 hours
    Up to 10 hours
    Audio playback
    Up to 20 hours
    Up to 30 hours

    Note that this is just what I'm interested in. Different people have different views. I personally don't care how many megapixel (MP) the camera has because I know for the fact that the MP of the camera does not translate to a better picture. I take much better pictures with my iPhone's 3MP camera than a SE W595 5MP camera.

    Multicore Netbooks or smartphones?? Fix the power consumption first!

    I read with amusement on news regarding equipping netbooks and smartphones with multicore processors. To me, it doesn't make sense to create a multicore processor for netbooks and smartphones if their battery life can only last a few hours.

    Personally, I believe the fundamental problem with netbooks and smartphones are:
    • their size; and
    • battery life.

    That means that makers of netbooks and smartphones should concentrate on making their devices smaller and more power efficient. Ditch the multicore processor idea until you can resolve this problem. The sizes are getting smaller but I do not believe there's much improvement regarding the battery life.

    The ideal battery life for me would be at least 5 days of battery life with normal usage. No, I do not mean standby time. I mean using applications / Wifi / 3G continuously for 5 days. I never did care about the phone's standby time. To me, that's a totally useless statistic for me.

    And don't blame the battery "department" on the power woes. They are not the only ones at fault. Resolve the battery life problem, then talk about multicore processors.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    U-Save Rebates for 2010

    Some changes were made to the U-Save rebates scheme for 2010. Starting from December last year, it seems that the government is finally trying to make the line clearer between Singapore citizens and non-citizens. They seem to be making incremental changes to their policies as they go along. Elections coming soon?

    HDB flats which are fully sublet to non-citizens will no longer be eligible for U-Save rebates. This is similar to HDB flats which are owned by non-citizens, which are currently already not eligible for the rebates. U-Save rebates will continue to be disbursed to Singaporean-owned HDB flats which are owner-occupied or which are sublet to at least one citizen tenant.

    The rebates which are used to offset utility charges directly are as follows:

    Jan 2010
    Jun 2010

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Christian the Lion

    A touching true story of how friendship knows no boundaries.

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    11 March 2010, Nodame Cantabile: The Final Movement I

    A 2-part finale of Nodame Cantabile, The Final Movement is to be released in Singapore in 2010! The first part is due to be released on March 11 2010! I believe the finale is to be centred in Paris. The first part is already showing in Japan now!

    I've been chasing Nodame Cantabile drama since I was introduced to it by my other half. One thing I like about the drama is that the actors and actresses really trained themselves to be at least proficient in the instrument (or conducting) before they started filming. The playing is much more realistic than Beethoven Virus which I did not quite like.

    Can't wait for this to hit Singapore. March 11... So long. :( Found a trailer of the final movement part 1 below. You can also refer to the Nodame Movie Offical Site here.

    Do not lose sight of your end goal

    I quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt:

    One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment... if it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.

    Making a decision is better than making no decisions at all. Things will continue to move along and the only way for the situation to move on is to make a decision. If the decision is not correct, don't be afraid of making changes along the way. The key is to fixate yourself to your end goal. Decisions are just by-products to achieve your goal.

    Do not lose sight of your end goal.
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