Monday, January 31, 2011

Breaking Rules

I quote from Katharine Hepburn:

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

Rules are made by humans.
Rules may not reflect the current situation.
Rules should be broken if a more efficient way is available.

Otherwise, how will innovation occur?

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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why all the fuss over NFC?

Updated 30 Jan 2011: Added Wikipedia link and rewritten certain points 

I'm still not sure what's all the fuss over NFC. Everyone wants to incorporate this technology into their handphones so that payment using the mobile phone can be a reality. But the fact is that payment "using your mobile phone" is already a reality, as long as your handphone is bigger than your contactless payment card.

The solution is very simple, and yet gives flexibility to consumers. Handphone covers.

As long as your handphone cover is big enough, what is stopping you from buying a cover that allows you to slip in an Ez-link card for example. Just by using a simple handphone cover, you will be able to go out, take the public transport to MacDonald and pay for your meal, just with a handphone.

The problems that will come with NFC will be the same as the problems plaguing the current contactless payment technology. Although NFC is based on a standard, for some reasons or another, I still see different readers for different types of contactless payment. If the NFC is embedded within the handphone, that would only mean that the handphone may only work with certain stores that are compatible with that specific provider within your handphone.

The whole point of embedding the NFC chip within the handphone is to realise the dream where consumers will only need to carry their handphones out to do their shopping and payment. However, the issue is that when it reaches the banks and providers, they will find some way to make it fragmented. Look at the example of credit cards. Do you notice that sometimes the cashier chooses a certain reader to swipe your credit card? The reason is due to the rebate points that are tied to the cards.

Therefore, the solution is actually quite simple. Get a handphone cover that will allow you to slip in your contactless payment card. That's it. All in one phone. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do not take shortcuts

I quote from Michael Jordon:

Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That's truly about the game, and in some ways that's about life too.

Problems are part and parcels of life. Try to take shortcuts and the problems will shortcut you. Face your problems and through it, you will be able to emerge a stronger person.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Will we fight for Singapore?

An interesting question came out recently. Will the current generation of Singaporeans fight for Singapore? The question instead should be what are we fighting for.

No matter how you try to explain or shape behavior, humans will only fight for things that they treasure deeply. So what is it that is worth fighting for in Singapore?

First thing that comes to mind is of course family. Families are always worth fighting for. However for those who are working, due to your bosses push for productivity, how often do you see your family? Out of the 7 days in a week, are you working more, or interacting more with your family? Staying in a same house is not equal to interaction.

Some of us try our best to stay near our families. That is why most of the time we try to buy houses near our parents. However, whoever has tried using the BTO system will know that it's very likely that you'll get a 4 digit queue number for your first few tries. For those who tried resale, the resale COV was skyhigh until recently. We visit our families every week and we spend a total of 4 hours traveling to and fro. That is excluding the time we stay talking to our parents. You can guess how near to our families we are. Familiar?

We try to make full use of the limited time that we have, packing our schedules full to the brim. Is that the way that life is suppose to be? All work? Some say that we have a choice but do we really have a choice? If your management promises a deadline, can you say no?

If your life does not allow you to spend time with things that you treasure most, will you fight for the environment that causes this to happen?

Inflation is up 4.6%

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%
December: 4.6%

Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by an astonishing 12.8% and 5.1% respectively year on year. The inflation for Transport has risen by quite a bit year on year, something that I totally missed out because I did not think that the COE will rise by that much. Other than that, the inflation is largely unchanged from November.

The average inflation is 2.8%, 0.1% above my estimates. Going forward, the inflation will be quite high for January and will only start treading down in April. Food inflation may also rear its head this year. Looks like I better watch my spending.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Force Startup your iPhone

I just realised that I did not post my tip to force startup the iPhone. I'm sure sometimes some of us encountered situations where the iPhone will mysteriously power itself down. It's not often but when it does, we're often at a loss what to do.

To force startup the iPhone, just press down the home button first, followed by the power button. Hold the 2 buttons down until you see the Apple logo, or hold it for about half a minute and let go.

That's it... A simple, but undocumented solution. This also works for the iPad.

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

World class MRT system Peak hour is ...

This is ridiculous. Now is peak hour period and yet, the frequency for the Singapore SMRT North South line is 6 mins, and guess what? The train that just came in terminated at my stop. That means I am waiting for more than 6 mins during a peak hour period.

World class right?? I miss Taipei MRT. 3 mins anytime.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Singapore's fertility hits a new low

I'm not surprised that Singapore's fertility rate has hit a new low of 1.16. I have already said as much in Feb last year in this post here. There is no way that you can increase productivity and fertility at the same time. They contradict each other.

The key to a healthy family environment is always your family. Does it help that both the husband and wife have to work late hours and sometimes even over weekends, stuck in the drive for the "increased productivity" that is forced upon them? How often do you see cases where you are put in the situation where budget is cut, but yet you're expected to deliver more? How will this "increase productivity" affect your child? Will your child even treat you as family since you are perpetually at work and they see others more than you?

Most of us are out at work for more than 12 hours every working day. How are we going to squeeze in our personal time, let alone family time? Unlike how bosses or people up there count working hours, my working day starts from the time I step out of the house and ends at the time I am at home. Simple reason is because my personal and family time begins at home. To top it up, we have the added stress that we bring back from work where the management promises certain KPIs that need to be met, but leave it to the lower rank people to figure out how it can be done with lesser resources. How many of us work when we are at home? The dreaded Blackberry anyone?

For those who takes public transport, I'm sure some of you have encountered the same situation as me. During a certain period in the morning, it does not matter whether you leave the house 15 mins earlier or 15 mins later because you will end up reaching your destination roughly around the same time. Why is this so? Try changing from LRT, to MRT, and to Bus and you will understand the reason why some people take so long to get from point A to point B. The concept of the transport operators peak hours are also out of this world. Again, don't look at the numbers by the transport operators. Just look at what happens every day during peak hours. It speaks for itself.

Some people will of course recommend to get a maid to do your housework to free up your time. My answer to you is that if you realise what some maids do when no one is looking, you will think again. You can try and observe the surroundings when you're outside. It's quite common to see maids talking on their handphones, and a poor child (or pet for that matter) either being dragged across the road by the maid, or the child is running around getting into dangerous situations without the maid even paying attention. It doesn't help that I don't like strangers touching my belongings.

All this adds up to less or sometimes even no personal time for yourself and your family. For your information, personal time is not equal to housework.

Added stress and less/no personal time. How do babies fit into the picture? Right... It doesn't.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A time to let go

I quote from Gloria Naylor:

Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over. 

Personally, I think this not only applies to friends, but also to your loved ones. If you mean well, there is always a time where you'll need to let go because that's where the learning will begin. Failure to do that will only lead to over-reliance on others and low self-esteem.

Let go so as to let them grow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New iPhone OS after CNY?

It would seem that Verizon will be getting their CDMA iPhone in the month of the Chinese New Year (CNY). This may entail an iOS upgrade since the iOS has to cater for the CDMA chip. I was thinking if at this point, they will add in the multi-touch gestures for closing an app (one tap on Home button) and to access the background apps (double tap on Home button) as rumoured.

Personally though, I think the addition of the multi-touch gesture for closing an app and accessing the background apps is a no brainer. To close an app, you can just do a simple two-finger swipe downwards from the top of the iPhone screen. Likewise, to open the background tasks pane, just do a simple two-finger swipe upwards from the bottom of the iPhone screen.

This feature will be useful. At least it will not stress the Home button. I feel that my home button is going to be spoilt soon. Now, if they add in the mobile hotspot found in the Verizon iPhone, that would be the icing on the cake.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some stuff that I ate at Taipei

Below are some pictures of the places where I snacked in Taipei. :)

 Danshui 豪大大雞排

 豪大大雞排 and 香菇

Very big Spicy hotdog at Shilin

Hao Jian in a seafood restaurant at Yeliu

Fried Rice in a seafood restaurant at Yeliu

Fried BeeHoon (it's a little spicy) in a seafood restaurant at Yeliu

Taiwan local vegetable dish in a seafood restaurant at Yeliu

 Wufenpu also has a mini night market near the temple.

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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jiufen Old Street

After visiting Yeliu Geopark (野柳地质公园) during my short stay in Taipei, I went on to visit the Jiufen Old Street (九分老街). Jiufen is another place with 2 focus, shopping and food, in particular yam! :)

To visit Jiufen, make your way to Keelung (基隆) Station and from the bus stop near the station, go across the bridge to the other side and wait for the bus that goes to JinShan (金山) if I recall correctly, which basically goes to Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石). The bus stop will have this information. Tell the driver that you're going to Jiufen and he will sound out when he reaches. If you've forgotten to tell him, it does not matter because basically most of the people will be dropping off there. :) You will see the scene in the picture below.

Jiufen Old Street starts off near the 7-11. You can see the entrance to the street in the picture below.

Other than food, Jiufen also has quite a few small alleys that cuts across the village. In these small alleys, don't be surprised to find some unique shops. We found a few design shops hidden in these alleys. The picture below is one of such alleys.

They also have a few animals roaming around. I can't resist taking pictures of one of them below. :)

As the Jiufen village is next to the mountain by the sea, the scenery there is quite beautiful and of course, windy.Can you feel the wind in the pictures below? :)

We stayed there for some time as there were some interesting handicraft stalls there and food stalls of course. I believe there is a bus that goes directly back to Taipei at the bus stop opposite the 7-11. However, we just took any bus to the Ruifang (瑞芳) station and took the train back to the Taipei Railway station. We took the express train (自强) back to Taipei.

It was dark when we went back to Taipei. I can't resist trying to take a picture of the train coming in. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reason for the Latest Property Cooling Measures is because ...

Taking a break from posting my photos. :) Straight from the oven, the Government has announced a fourth round of property cooling measures effective tomorrow, to 'maintain a stable and sustainable property market'.

They are:
  1. Increasing the holding period for imposition of Seller's Stamp Duty (SSD) from the current three years to four years;

  2. Raising the SSD rates to 16 per cent, 12 per cent, 8 per cent and 4 per cent of consideration for residential properties which are bought on or after Friday, and are sold in the first, second, third and fourth year of purchase respectively;

  3. Lower the Loan-To-Value (LTV) limit to 50 per cent on housing loans granted by financial institutions regulated by MAS for property purchasers who are not individuals;

  4. Lower the LTV limit on housing loans granted by financial institutions regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 70 per cent to 60 per cent for property purchasers who are individuals with one or more outstanding housing loans at the time of the new housing purchase.

You can refer to the news release here for more information on the reasons behind each point.

Personally though, I think the reason is because just today, China has also announced that it will allow its companies to make overseas investments in yuan. What's the linkage? Chinese love to invest in properties and look at the liquidity slushing around in China now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Taipei International Flora Exposition 2010

Being someone that likes nature, I would not miss the Taipei International Flora Exposition (台北国际花卉博览会) currently held in Taipei. There are several ways to visit this Expo. I went by the MRT route as usual. :) Just take the Danshui Line (RED line) and stop at Yuanshan station. You can't miss it once you get out of the station. The admission costs about NT$300 per adult, and you can use the EasyCard for payment. For more information, you can visit their website here.

The area is very big and frankly, I think you'll need 1 full day to walk through the whole area. It was quite windy while I was there too. Maybe due to the mountains around the area? The expo site is bound by Yuanshan Park, the Taipei Fine Arts Park, Xinsheng Park and Dajia Riverside Park. Each area has its own unique exhibits. Out of the 4 areas, I think I've only had time to visit 2. One of the reasons is the queuing time to visit the exhibits. You can be waiting in the queue for more than an hour just to get into one of the halls. The other reason was of course, our timetable was packed due to the shortness of the trip. :p

The flora expo not only exhibits flowers and landscaping from the different countries, there is also a green theme and there are companies there exhibiting the green technologies being used in different areas such as construction of buildings. The green technologies are interesting but as usual, I was more interested in the flowers. :) Below are some of the pictures I have taken around the area, which includes the gardens designed by the different countries.

The 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition is being held from November 6th, 2010 to April 25th, 2011 so if you happen to be in Taipei during this period, why not go there and have a look. If you want to take a look at the individual flowers in the expo, refer to my other post here.

Now if you are wondering why Singaporeans are so worked up over the Singapore exhibition in the Flora expo, take a look at the pictures below and you will understand why.

How do you recognise that it's a Singapore exhibition? I didn't even see our iconic Merlion or Orchids. In fact, I don't even think the landscaping represents Singapore at all, if not for the signage.

It is very disappointing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flowers around the Taipei International Flora Exposition 2010

I have split this post away from the Taipei International Flora Exposition (台北国际花卉博览会) 2010 post here as it will be too lengthy. Below are some of the photos of individual flowers that I have taken around the area. We didn't have time to finish seeing the whole area though. Pity.

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