Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Learn From ...

I quote from William Glasser:

We Learn . . .
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

The latest government measures may just work

Updated 31 Aug 2010: Added additional rules

I've just been ranting here about how the URA's plan to release more land will not work in taming the prices. However, the government measures announced during National Day Rally 2010 seems like it will do the trick. Trying to make the developers reduce price is next to impossible. So instead, work on the buyers.

The measures that will kick in on 30 August 2010 should work in taming the prices in my opinion because it reduces speculation by:
  1. increasing the amount of downpayment to 10%
  2. extending the imposition of seller's stamp duty to 3 years
  3. decreasing the loan to value ratio to 70% if you have an outstanding loan
  4. standardising the minimum occupation period (MOP) of HDB flats to 5 years
  5. disallowing concurrent ownership of both HDB flat and private property during MOP
  6. mandating that the private property should be disposed within 6 months from date of purchase of a HDB flat.

All the above points are regardless whether the HDB flat is subsidised or not.

Target the speculators, and the market price should reflect the real demand, I hope. However, I still think that they should scrape the DBSS and just concentrate on EC.

Exposition by Xpose!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finally news on the Avengers!

The entire cast of 2012's planned movie, "The Avengers" is finally out.
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
  • Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Chris Evans as Captain America
  • Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
  • Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk.
"Thor" is targeted to hit theaters in early May 2011 and "Captain America: The First Avenger" opens in July 2011.

Kenneth Branagh is bringing the Norse god of thunder, Thor, to the big screen with the hero battling the villain Loki. Natalie Portman plays Thor's love interest, Jane Foster. Kat Dennings is Darcy, an original character who will help Foster, and the movie sees Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruiting Thor for The Avengers.

In "Captain America," which has just started filming, Evans dons the red, white and blue costume to battle Nazi villain The Red Skull. The film, which is set during World War II, will link Captain America with Thor.

Can't wait for the movies to start showing in Singapore.:)

Perceived Value? My Foot

Sometimes I do wonder if the people writing articles in the newspaper really do know the topic that they are writing on. Recently, there was a drop of customer satisfaction for public transport. One of the reasons is a drop of "perceived" value.

My take? It's not perceived. There is always a reason for an increase in price, be it improvement in quality of product or service. In the case of the bus and MRT, I am afraid that if there was any improvement, it is not obvious to the consumers. Those who takes the public transport everyday will know what am I talking about.

Increase value in the bus service? Remember the case regarding the bus no 27 where the bus driver acted unprofessionally in the wee hours of the night? Some bus drivers also do not know their bus routes well and were rude to customers who enquire on the correct amount of bus fare to pay.

Improvement in MRT service? Who has encountered cases where the train announced incorrectly that it has arrived at a certain destination? Or encountered cases where the expensive LED station locator was not even switched on?

Come on. Are you sure it's perceived value? The increase in frequency of the MRT and buses was also forced down their throats. Remember someone kept insisting that the train was not overcrowded during peak hours?

The end results are what that matters and seriously, I can't see any.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another land sale record broken

Does releasing more land reduce the price of land? Like what I said in my previous post, no chance man. It is rare that a record is not broken during a land sale. The winner for Miltonia Close bidded 31% higher than the second highest bidder. The final price should be around $700-$800 psf.

Guess where is Miltonia Close? In the middle of nowhere. Look at the Google Map location here.

Ridiculous right?

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

Your Uniqueness is your Greatest Power

I quote from Mark Webb:

Realize that you are a masterpiece. You are one of a kind. You have unique qualities that are yours alone. No one can do what you can do. No one can say what you have to say. Stop wasting your time trying to compare yourself to others. You are not called to fill someone else’s shoes. You are called to be the best that you can be. Your uniqueness is your greatest power, so start tapping into this power. This uniqueness within you is a gift. This is a God-given gift, so it carries a tremendous ability with it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inflation is up 3.1%

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%

Transport and Education & Stationery are leading the pack instead, rising by 10.7% and 2.9% respectively year on year.

Compared to the previous month, Health Care and Recreation & Others inflation has increased quite a bit. There is still no obvious conclusion to the Distance based charging on the Transport inflation rate. Looking at the past inflation rates, there are no obvious differences although there is an increase of inflation compared to previous month. However due to seasonal factors, one cannot jump to the conclusion that the reason was due to the Distance based charging.

I guess I need to take a look at the next few months inflation rates to see the impact of distance based fares. Even based on the current statistics though, one thing is for certain. I do not think there is any reduction of inflation for Transport.

Claim your free iPhone 4 Bumper or Case before 30 Sep 2010

For the Singaporeans who have purchased the iPhone 4 before 30 Sep 2010, do note that you're eligible for a free iPhone 4 Bumper or Case. To qualify for this though, you also need to claim within 30 days of your iPhone 4 purchase. Refer to the Apple's website here to claim your free iPhone 4 Bumper or Case.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Business first, IT next

Some time back, I read that a certain restaurant has invested in a PDA wireless ordering system and has yet to see any benefits out of it. In my heart, I felt that the person who authorized the project has totally missed the point.

Before you embark on any project, there should always be a business need that requires it. Using the example above, there should be a project objective that will resolve a problem that the restaurant may be having. For example, wrong orders being taken, ability to inform the customers that a certain item has sold out, etc. The above example may be a classic case of buying the technology and waiting to see what benefits they will reap from it.

It is really no secret that many big IT projects fail. Most of the time, the IT companies get the blame. I however feel that the problems lie in 2 broad areas.

First area is the above example that I have used. Technology does not automatically reap benefits and benefits need not directly translate to monetary terms. How do you measure customer loyalty or returning customers? One should always purchase technology if there is a need for it and it resolves one or more problems that are currently encountered.

The other area is actually trained IT staff to manage the IT needs of a company. Who has heard of cases where the IT department of a company actually know nuts about IT and how to apply it to the business? How about cases where the company is totally reliant on the vendor to provide the solution and blames the vendor if the solution fails even though the company should know their business operations best?

The problem now is that many businesses think that IT is a chore and it doesn't bring benefits to the organization. However, they fail to realize that someone is ensuring that the technology runs seamlessly and smoothly 24 x 7 to support the business. Most IT staff only gets the blame if something goes wrong but never the credit when a certain solution works.

Because of a lack of trained IT staff supporting the business, it is no wonder that IT projects fail. IT projects are not just about project management. IT knowledge and how to apply it to business operations are also important. Only the company staff, not the IT people, will know their business operations best. Without their contribution to the project, IT projects will fail.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MRT Services @ Jurong East will be down in Sep

MRT Services at the Jurong East MRT station will be down over 2 weekends in September due to upgrading works to improve the train frequency. The frequency should improve to 2 to 3 mins during peak periods after the works are completed.

On Sept 4 and 5, there will not be any trains running between Jurong East and Clementi stations. And on Sept 18 and 19, services between Jurong East and Bukit Batok stations will be disrupted.

During this time, bridging services will be provided by Bendy buses I presume to shuttle the passengers to the respective stations.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Do I really know that small sample of people who had problems with Mio TV?

Singtel has time and time again refuted complaints that there are problems with Mio TV. My question is quite simple. All my friends with Mio TV are having problems with it. Just recently, someone has complained that it took 10mins (at 3am in the morning) just to connect to Mio TV to watch soccer. So am I that lucky to know that small sample of people that had problems with Mio TV as explained by Singtel? I guess we know the answers.

Is Singtel ultimately responsible if the broadband service drops ridiculously low when Mio TV is switched on? I find that it is quite ridiculous to pay for broadband speeds when your line is obviously being used by Mio TV. The telcos should be responsible for the speeds of the broadband that consumers subscribe to, and not push the blame to line problem, line too old, etc. It seems that it's always our problem and not their problem. Remember the Jalan Kayu incident when the lines were down for 3 hours during a routine maintenance? I repeat. A routine maintenance.

Anyway, if Mio TV requires a separate line, then it should be compulsory for the subscription of that additional line. No use trying to pretend that you're cheaper than Starhub when you're not.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Releasing more land doesn't seem to push down the price

Today the government has announced that they may be releasing more land in the first half of 2011 if the demand remains strong. As written in my previous post, I do not think this will do anything in pushing down the price that the developers are paying for the land. Have you seen any drop in price in the recent land sales? Instead, we're seeing records being broken.

The problem I see is that there is a slight conflict of interest in the current process. The URA is interested in selling the land as high as possible. After all, it's revenue. However this will lead to an increase in property price and will lead to an overall higher inflation.

I still think that capping the land price to a certain percentage of the valuation as written in my previous post will force the developers to provide value added service instead of bidding up the price sky high. The prices will never stabalise if there is no change in the evaluation process of the land sales.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Surprise Yourself

I quote from Alan Ball:

It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you've forgotten about.

When you surprise yourself in being able to do something thought impossible, this usually means you're capable of doing more than you think. However, the question is whether you enjoy doing it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why I Won't Jailbreak my iPhone

I was recently offered assistance in jailbreaking my iPhone. It's now super easy with the JailBreakMe workaround. However, I declined. People think I'm nuts but there are reasons why I hope Apple quickly patch the iOS.

The reason is very simple. If someone can easily hack an iPhone using a Safari, what is stopping someone from installing a malicious malware that will SMS or call a premium number in the background, racking up call charges that the telco will not waive because you did not use the official software?

The Safari and PDF vulnerability is quite serious and apparently, it allows anyone to bypass the iPhone security mechanisms just by accessing a website. Furthermore once you jailbreak, you'll not be able to upgrade to the latest iOS so easily because Apple will patch the Safari hole. So how will those people upgrade?

Anyway think twice before jailbreaking, especially if you're not technically inclined.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Avoid using Plastic Type 3 or 7

I've gotten the table below from Wikipedia. It basically describes the different types of plastics and according to what I have read, type 3 or type 7 plastics may contain Bisphenol A which is cancerous.

Morale of the story? Don't use plastic bottles for long periods of time. Get a water bottle.

Look at the bottom of the plastic bottle and you'll be able to see the indicator of the type of plastic being used. Refer to the table below on the different types of plastics.

Plastic Identification Code Type of plastic polymer Properties Common Packaging Applications

PET, PETE Clarity, strength, toughness, barrier to gas and moisture. Soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles; peanut butter and jam jars

HDPE Stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas. Water pipes, Hula-Hoop (children's game) rings, Milk, juice and water bottles; the occasional shampoo / toiletry bottle

PVC Versatility, clarity, ease of blending, strength, toughness. Juice bottles; cling films; PVC piping

May be cancerous as it uses Bisphenol A during polymerization or package forming

LDPE Ease of processing, strength, toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture. Frozen food bags; squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard; cling films; flexible container lids.

PP Strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, barrier to moisture. Reusable microwaveable ware; kitchenware; yogurt containers; margarine tubs; microwaveable disposable take-away containers; disposable cups; plates.

PS Versatility, clarity, easily formed Egg cartons; packing peanuts; disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery; disposable take-away containers;

Other (often polycarbonate or ABS) Dependent on polymers or combination of polymers Beverage bottles; baby milk bottles; electronic casing.

May be cancerous as it uses Bisphenol A during polymerization or package forming

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ways to increase productivity

The buzz word for Singapore has always been to improve our productivity. In fact, one of our ministers also reminded companies to be more innovative in their productivity drive instead of getting their workers to work long hours. Easier said than done.

Companies are driven mainly by profits. Like what the government used to say, their excuse of not getting into solar/renewable energy is the cost factor (although they have later invested in this technology). Who won't use the excuse of improving productivity to pile more work onto the employees to improve their bottom line? Only the good employers will care for their employees.

Are there ways to increase productivity without piling more work on the employees, or even releasing them? I believe so. In my personal opinion, I would think that to increase productivity and still improve the bottom line, the company has to
  1. identify the direction that they will go towards;
  2. decide how to use the technology to further enhance their competitiveness;
  3. communicate these changes to the staff, retrain them, and invest into the new technology to further differentiate themselves from their competition.

To do this, you must be able to look far ahead, take risks and be willing to get your returns in 3 to 5 years time, and not immediately. I believe that would be a challenge because not many companies are willing to bet their careers on returns that you will not be able to see immediately, and in fact will look like it's loss-making in the short-term.

That's the problem and that's also the reason why most companies will take the easier way out to pile work on their staff. I don't think the situation will change much.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our lives are fashioned by choices

I quote from Anne Frank:

I do not complain, complaining is an activity just as jumping rope or listening to the radio is an activity. Our very lives are fashioned by choices. First we make choices, then our choices make us.
Greatness does not care if one is a girl or a boy. If, in fact, it is what's inside us that makes all the difference, then the difference is made when we choose what goes inside.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Random Photos @ Singapore Zoo

Updated 8 Oct 2013: More random photos of creatures taken recently

I was trying to categorise the interesting photos that I have of the Singapore Zoo's animals and sad to say, I have to give up because they are really too random. However, they are still interesting so I'm going to take the lazy way out and create a post aptly named Random Photos of the Singapore Zoo. :) You can refer to this post here for more information on the Singapore Zoo.

Anyway, below are the random photos that I've taken here and there. :)

A single task warthog looking for its other task. :p

A warthog having its meal

Crocodiles in disguise. :p

A goat making full use of its horns. :)

A barking deer taking a rest from all the barking. :)

Darn. No idea what creature this is. :(

Deer? Looks like it.

Greater Kudu getting away from the limelight

White Rhino eating away

Malayan tapir taking a rest

White Tiger taking a rest from all the patrolling. :)

Zebra having its lunch.

Fishes kissing the Pygmy Hippo

Komodo dragon deciding if it should move or not. :)

Lazy kangaroo lazing around after its meal

No idea what creature is this but it's beautiful

Inuka entertaining the visitors

Curious baby white rhino

Desert Warthog


Giant Tortise
Sea lion
Pigmy Hippo

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monkeys & Orangutans @ Singapore Zoo

Updated 8 Oct 2013: More pictures of monkeys/orangutans and related animals taken recently

The highlight of the Singapore Zoo seems to be Monkeys (I include Chimpanzees too) & Orangutans. There are a wide variety of species there and it seems to me that everywhere I turn, I'll see them. :) They are quite an interesting lot to watch, and even more interesting when they are at play. The games that their young play looks not much different from the games babies play when they are small. The Orangutans as always, were lazing around. :) You can refer to this post here for more information on the Singapore Zoo.

Anyway, below are some of the pictures of these interesting creatures.

Orangutan lying down and stretching its arm at the same time. :)

Orangutan grabbing a snack

Cotton Top Tamarins playing around

A mother Cotton Top Tamarin with 2 young ones on top

A white-faced Saki Monkey on top of a signboard

The agile Gibbon wondering where to go next

Howler Monkey howling along

Not sure what monkey this is but it looks very cute. :)

A Baboon giving you an arrogant look. :)

Baboon senior getting some grooming from junior. :)

Brown Capuchin (heard someone called it cappuccino) :)

Chimpanzee (i think) eating roots.

Proboscis Monkey looking around

Baby baboon wondering what to do with the stick

Baby baboons @ play. :)

A baby lion-tailed Macaque looking lost. :)

Orangutans having fun with a gunny sack

Baby Chimp playing with a piece of wood
Baby proboscis monkey looking at the mother
The mother baboon holding on to the little one
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...