Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You are in control of your own destiny

I quote from Louis L'Amour:

Up to a point a man's life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, "This I am today; that I will be tomorrow. 

You are in control of your actions and thus, you have control over what you can become. Do not blame others if you choose the easy way.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Indonesia should solve its haze problems before talking about nuclear

No disrespect to Indonesia but I feel that they should look at resolving the haze problems they are causing to everyone before talking about nuclear power.

The reason is very simple. If they cannot solve a "simple" problem like the haze, how can we be certain that they will be able to ensure that the nuclear plant has all the containment and safety features, and that they will not follow the footsteps of TEPCO?

The first location of the proposed nuclear plant by Indonesia is near a fault line in Java. The next proposed location is at Sumatra which has an earthquake just last week. No matter how marvelous your safety features are, it is of little use if you're near the fault lines or near the pacific ring of fire for the matter. If you look at the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, the earthquakes were the result of new fault lines.

The proposed location of the nuclear plants and their track record of "handling" their haze problems do not give much confidence to anyone that they understand the seriousness of nuclear power.

Monday, March 28, 2011

iOS 4.3.1 at a glance

Seems like Apple released a patch for the iOS 4.3 last Friday.

Below are the patches of iOS 4.3.1 at a glance:
  • Fixes an occasional graphics glitch on iPod touch (4th generation)
  • Resolves bugs related to activating and connecting to some cellular networks
  • Fixes image flicker when using Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs
  • Resolves an issue authenticating with some enterprise web services

No noticeable difference in features on my iPhone 3GS. I do notice one thing though. iOS 4.3 slows down the iPhone 3GS slightly. It's not very bad but I started a habit of deleting my background apps so that the performance is as before.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sistic M-ticket is a waste of investment

Sometimes I do wonder if there are any IT staff at all in big organisations that can advice on the feasibility of the projects. Sistic's m-ticket is one such example.

The technology is simple. SMS you a 2D barcode as a ticket.

The catch? You need to pay 70 cents.

The problem? You can print out an e-ticket for free.

A classic example of implementing a technology without first looking through your business processes. Sigh...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inflation is up 5.0%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2011:
January: 5.5%
February: 5.0%

Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by a still astonishing 15.2% and 5.8% respectively year on year. The inflation for Transport reduced slightly, most probably because the COE prices have tamed somewhat due to the Chinese New Year effect. The high price of oil is also still evident as inflation still remains elevated across the board, except for Communications.

I'm still unsure why the Food inflation for Feb is slightly lower compared to Jan because as I recalled, many of the stalls have increased their prices from Chinese New Year, citing high raw material pricing. In fact, the inflation for Feb is tamer in general. Oh well. Maybe my memory is failing me.

This month's inflation should have shot up due to the Japan's crisis. Oil has risen to new heights and our petrol prices kept increasing. I would be surprised if the inflation remains at this level.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happiness from Within

I quote from Remez Sasson:

Happiness is always here, but covered by thoughts, desires and fears.
Your attitude decides whether you are happy or not. You can change your attitude. 

Happiness is within you. When you stop the chatter of the mind and expel your worries and fears you find out that happiness surfaces from within you.

I took 3 quotes from Remez Sasson and strung it up as one. Something to think about...

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

Background Radiation in Perspective

With all the big hoo ha about background radiation in Tokyo, I think it is time to put things back into perspective. As of 19 Mar, the background radiation for Tokyo was 0.025 microsieverts per hour. It was 0.047 a few days back.

Putting this back to perspective:
  • Singapore's normal background radiation is 0.08 to 0.1 microsieverts / hour
  • Standard chest x-ray is at least 100 microsieverts.

Stop scaring yourselves.

Friday, March 18, 2011

There goes my $x bak chor mee

I do not understand why people yearn for air-conditioned hawker centres, or upgraded suburban malls. Whenever I hear of this, only 1 thought goes to mind. There goes my $x bak chor mee. It's almost a certainty that after the renovation, the stall holders will increase their prices because rental rise is almost a certainty.

Recently, I'm sure you have heard that so and so place is being upgraded, and so and so place is going to be built, etc. Personally to me, shouldn't all this be done during the 2009 where inflation was low, to excite the economy? Inflation will most probably average over 5% for the 1H2011. Doing this kind of upgrades in this kind of environment will only push up inflation further because as we all know, property upgrades will only result in upward rental revisions, causing overall price increases. So far, I've never heard of property upgrades being "productive". It doesn't help that the whole world is also experiencing global food inflation. 10 cents more to our coffee anyone?

Personally, I feel that there is no need for major upgrades to hawker centres or suburban malls. You have to put it into context. Is it worth upgrading the hawker centre to air-conditioned if it is surrounded by 3-room, 4-room HDB flats? Do they usually eat-in or take-away? Why not just upgrade the air ventilation and put in some new technologies to keep the area cool? The hawker centre looks dirty? Is it the design of the hawker centre or even the quality of the cleaners? Can the upgrade be done such that there is no upward rental revision?

In this period of high inflation, do we still need the upward rental revisions to add on to our cost of living? One thing for certain. Inflation is going to remain elevated this year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Formula for Productivity

If you've heard of Six Sigma, you'll know that Six Sigma is all about improving productivity. Productivity, to Six Sigma, is all about trying to make your product or service more efficient. The end focus is always on your product or service.

The reasoning is simple. In business, improving the efficiency of business operations equal to increase of profit. In the process of improving the efficiency, employees may be sent for additional training to handle the new process. The focus of improving productivity should be geared towards the respective sectors. Upon improving the efficiency of the process and letting the employees go for training, the productivity measures can then be measured for its effectiveness. Sending the employees for training without a corresponding change in the business processes may not improve anything.

You may not even need to send employees for retraining. Improve productivity? Look at the process.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Integrity, Intelligence, Energy

I quote from Warren Buffet:

In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.

Without integrity, there is no need to improve your other attributes because the lack of it will be your downfall.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Will Singaporeans be like the Japanese in times of trouble?

Reading about how the Japanese are helping each other warms my heart. You have instances like small little boys helping out with relief works, people of all ages (including youths) donating to the earthquake relief, free meals and warm beverages, etc. Not only that, many Japanese seem to be staying put to help out, and even though the traffic lights are not working, you do not hear any honking and you can see drivers giving way to one another. So far, there are also no news of looting.

This is what Yamato-damashii is all about. The true Japanese Spirit.

This makes me wonder if Singaporeans have this kind of spirit in times of trouble. Will we behave like the Japanese, or will most of us try to take the first plane out of here? Sad to say, I think in terms of loving our country, we're no where near the Japanese. Look at Mediacorp. They were advertising their Ad Slots immediately after the earthquake. Is everything always about money?

Where is the Singapore Spirit? How can we encourage such actions? Can we stop measuring everything in monetary terms?

I guess only time will tell.

Below are some of the links containing details on how to aid Japan in their relief efforts:

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders

I was reading an interesting article by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler on Forbes about Introverts being leaders. She mentioned that they draw on important strengths that extroverts may not have. Examples of Introvert leaders? Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Charles Schwab.

Here are some of the five key points she has mentioned:
  1. They think first, talk later
  2. They focus on depth
  3. They exude calm
  4. They let their fingers do the talking
  5. They embrace solitude

It's quite an interesting read on introvert leaders. So for all those introverts out there, don't despair. Remember 2 of the 3 richest guys in the world are introverts. :)

You can read this article here for more information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Open several websites in one click

Ever wish to open several Internet websites in one click? The secret lies in writing a batch file.

For example, if you wish to open Google website using both IE and Firefox with one click, just do the following:
  1. Create a Google.bat using your favourite editor
  2. Type this to open the Google website using IE: start iexplore -new
  3. Type this to open the Google website using Firefox: start firefox -url
  4. Save and click on Google.bat.

In the end, your Google.bat will look like the following:
start iexplore -new
start firefox -url

That's it. Just run this Google.bat and Google will be open in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Hope this helps.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reality and Expectations

I quote from Tom Magliozzi:

Happiness equals reality minus expectations

To be happy, know the reality and ensure that your expectation is realistic.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Finally some truths on Property

I was reading the Economist and I was sort of relieved that someone finally wrote some truths about property investments, which is kinda different from how some has painted it. If you want to know more, get the latest issue (as of this date).

Some key points (to me):
  • The value of any particular home is largely determined by whatever a similar house sells for nearby. One absurd bid can push up prices for everyone.
  • Reason for momentum (up I presume) in property markets is because you cannot short-sell a property. Those who bought during good times are usually more optimistic in their valuations, while those who bought during downturns are more realistic.
  • The amount of space that people need increases over time as they find partners and have children.

Notice how some people in Singapore said otherwise. A small group of people are unable to push up the price of a property? Property prices will go down if you start building more flats?

My personal belief is that the reason for the oversupply of flats previously is not because of the oversupply, but due to the reason that the flats were previously built in locations with almost non-existent amenities and public transport. Now, the demand is hot because the amenities and public transport are already in place. Flats are either priced realistically or optimistically.

The last point is more on a separate matter. Space does matter when you're talking about babies. Leave it to the market and the developers will definitely build smaller flats. It's a question of profit. The question is whether you want to do something about it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

iOS 4.3 at a glance

Updated 14 Mar 2011:  Added additional points

iOS 4.3 at a glance:
  • Not compatible with iPhone 3G and below, iPod Touch 2nd generation and below
  • Faster Safari Browser (nitro: doubles the Javascript engine)
  • iTunes Home sharing
  • Improved Airplay
  • Preference for iPad switch: mute or rotation lock
  • iPhone 4 only: Lets you share your 3G data via WiFi to other PC, laptops, iDevices or any other device
  • Renamed Internet Tethering to Personal Hotspot
  • Resolved the problem where Internet cannot be immediately accessed when switching ON the Cellular Data.
  • Available on Mar 9 11 2011.

I wonder where are the new multi-touch gestures to complement the Home button. Coming in June?

iPad 2 at a glance

iPad 2 at a glance:
  • Powered by a dual-core A5 processor (vs A4)
  • CPU 2x faster, GPU 9x faster
  • HSUPA support
  • Front VGA resolution camera and rear-facing 720p camera
  • 8.8mm thick (vs 13.4mm)
  • 1.3 pounds (vs 1.5 pounds)
  • Two colors, white and black, and both will be instantly available
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Built-in gyroscope
  • Prices and storage remains the same
  • Available in US on March 11 2011. On March 25, it will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Yes. No Singapore. 
  • iMovie and GarageBand for USD4.99
  • Facetime and Photo Booth App

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Earth Hour: 26 Mar 2011, 8.30pm

Earth Hour 2011 for this year will take place at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 26, when Singaporeans are encouraged to switch off their lights for an hour.

Orchard Road will be transformed into a "sea of candles" as part of an initiative to conserve electricity in the annual Earth Hour event. More than a hundred establishments are also participating in one way or another by setting their temperatures at 24 degree celsius, by turning off non-essential lights, and by turning off the facade lighting.

You do not need to wait for Earth Hour in order to do your part. Reducing energy wastage is good for the environment and your wallet. For more tips on how to conserve energy, you can refer to their website here. Start now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Securing Mobile Apps is not rocket science.

Some time back, there was an article talking about how the recent trend of mobile apps are revealing a potential security threat as it exposes the application server that is handling the logic and sometimes data store.

Personally though, this should not be an issue if the developer is trained in IT. Trained as in a degree / diploma. The reason is simple. Try asking some so-called "IT people" what is MVC, 3 tier architecture, OO, SQL Injection and they will give you a blank look. The matter of fact is that sometimes, there are people who self-taught themselves programming languages but do not have the basic foundation.

Going back to mobile apps, if you design your mobile app as a 3 tier architecture and using software as a service, your security impact will be minimal. If there is really an issue of the data being access/transmitted through the Internet, use VPN.

The above is of course simplifying the process as it's not as simple as it seems but there are ways to secure such apps and most who have experience in building enterprise applications will know how to design such a mobile app.

For those who don't, then that's another matter altogether.

On a related note, I had another issue with the ChannelNewsAsia iPhone App again. A case of someone not doing enough unit testing. Sigh... Now I have to use some other app.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WebOS PCs may only complement Windows

I think recently HP has announced that you may also start seeing WebOS on HP PCs. This is not something that is surprising to some because like it or not, Microsoft Windows is not great for all types of tasks. However, I for one think that it will not replace Microsoft Windows because WebOS PCs should serve a whole new different market. Touchscreen PCs.

Touchscreen PCs are not widely seen now because Windows is built specifically to operate using a mouse. Single-click, double-click, scroll-up, scroll-down, etc. However in the world of touch-screens, you'll have a whole lot of different "touch points" so as to speak. The way that you interact with the machine will be completely different from how you use it with a mouse.

Therefore, my guess is that WebOS will be used to launch a new line of touchscreen PCs that look similar to the iMAC. Just a monitor with an in-built WebOS, and that's it.

Usage? It seems to me that such a device will be more useful in business applications and smart home appliances. The world seems to be moving back to the 90s where thin clients are in the rage.

This time though, it may become a runaway hit. 

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