Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One interesting way to resolve the toilet problem

Recently the news is talking about toilet cleanliness, especially those toilets in the coffeeshops. One of the most common problem is stuck toilet paper. Why is this a problem? If you observe the way some people uses the toilet, you'll know why. It is as if the toilet paper is free and they like to throw it everywhere and anywhere.

One simple way to resolve it is to charge for tissue paper. I've seen these toilets overseas. They have a vending machine outside the toilet where you can buy tissue papers. Based on people's mentality, if you use something you pay for, you'll use it more prudently.

Simple way to resolve the problem. Education? I don't think it'll work since most people in Singapore are not even Singaporeans.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When your candles are lighted, darkness goes away

Tombstone inscription in Britain:
In moments of discouragement, defeat, or even despair, there are always certain things to cling to. Little things usually: remembered laughter, the face of a sleeping child, a tree in the wind - in fact, any reminder of something deeply felt or dearly loved. No man is so poor as not to have many of these small candles. When they are lighted, darkness goes away - and a touch of wonder remains.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The poor and the near poor

I was reading about the article about the poor and the near poor when a sentence stood out to me.
The rankings ignore the fact that many of these are requisites of modern life and that things increasingly out of reach for the poor and "near poor" - education, health care, child care, housing and utilities - are the true determinants of a good, upwardly mobile life. 

The problem is that the standard of living is ever changing so the yardsticks used previously is no longer accurate. The requisites of modern life is increasingly putting pressure on all of us, and many of which is a requisite for a typical normal life in the city, like education, health care, housing and utilities.For example without education, it's almost impossible to find a job to sustain yourself. Housing and utilities are definitely a must because in some countries, you may not even be allowed to sleep on the streets.

On the other hand however, the employers are also asking us to be "productive" by asking us to do more, for the same salary or less. Therefore, many will end up in the situation where they are working very long hours just to keep themselves at the near-poor or poor level. Some may even be stuck there because the long hours do not allow people to find time to further upgrade themselves.

Sticky situation? You bet. Solution? I doubt it will happen but there should be laws to prevent exploitation of workers, regardless of how much you earn. We must go back to the fundamentals. Do we work to live or live to work?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Connecting to a base station doesn't mean that I can make calls or use the Internet

I was reading with interest on the topic of what does the word "availability" means to some telcos. Based on what I have read, it seems that telcos think that being able to connect to a "base station"  means that your phone is connected and thus service is available. Nevermind that you're unable to make a call or connect to the Internet.

Tell me, if you can connect to your Internet (your laptop/desktop says you're connected) modem but unable to get onto the Internet, is your internet service considered available or not available? Unless I read the article wrongly, by virtual of me being able to connect to the modem, the service is considered available.

This extends to the other frustrations that we face too. I can have full signal strength on my mobile phone but yet when I make calls, sometimes I am unable to hear what the other party is saying, or whatever I'm saying breaks up. So is my phone service considered available or unavailable? Don't get me started on the reliability of the 3G connection on my mobile phone.

If your base station can't take so many users, then jolly well restrict the number of users per base station and add more. But then again, it doesn't matter if you have a lot of base station but all using that small pipe to connect to the world. Makes no difference.

Available or unavailable, that's the question.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Inflation is up 5.4%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2011:
January: 5.5%
February: 5.0%
March: 5.0%
April: 4.5%
May: 4.5%
June: 5.2%
July: 5.4%
August: 5.7%
September: 5.5%
October: 5.4%

Transport and Housing are once again leading the pack, rising by 10.5% and 9.9% respectively year on year. The inflation was as expected in my previous post, most probably due to the increase in food and housing inflation. Surprisingly, clothing & footwear inflation turned negative. I didn't recall any sales though.

Inflation however may go up back to the inflation rate in August, looking at the recent happenings. Another year of high inflation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fix your goal and pursue it

I quote from Claude M. Bristol:
The person with a fixed goal, a clear picture of his desire, or an ideal always before him, causes it, through repetition, to be buried deeply in his subconscious mind and is thus enabled, thanks to its generative and sustaining power, to realize his goal in a minimum of time and with a minimum of physical effort. Just pursue the thought unceasingly. Step by step you will achieve realization, for all your faculties and powers become directed to that end.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Measurement of GDP does not measure the nation's true well-being

I was reading an article previously that talked about how the measurement of national income becoming the most influential statistic in the world, and yet misleading. Simon Kuznets, one of the main originators of GDP, has warned of this:
The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income. If the GDP is up, why is America down? Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.

I totally agree with him that to effectively measuring progress, wealth and well-being requires indices that are as clear and appealing as GDP but also more inclusive than GDP, like incorporating social and environmental costs or benefits. Pollution itself is an indicator that most totally ignore. Many governments are concentrating on the quantity of growth, not quality of growth. The growth itself also does not talk about broad base growth as "over achievers" will screw up the numbers.

I think it is time for people to stop looking only at the GDP numbers and to start to look at the other indicators. There are costs to growth and the question is, is it worth it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ingenious but yet disheatening

I was visiting a friend over the weekend where I saw something that was ingenious, but yet disheartening to see in Singapore. I saw an old lady on a wheelchair being pushed by someone who is slightly younger across the traffic lights. Nothing new but it was what happened after that was interesting. The old lady stood up and started walking and pushing the wheelchair slowly, but surely.

Now why do you think the old lady did that? I thought for a while and it came to me. The traffic lights changed too fast so the old lady got ingenious and instead used a wheelchair to get across. However, the old lady refused to sit in the wheelchair longer than necessary. The ingenuity struck me, but yet it's a little disheartening.
  • Disheartening that an old lady has to rely on a wheelchair to cross the road safely.
  • Disheartening that those who are left behind can only rely on themselves to see themselves through.
  • Disheartening that Singapore is leaving behind those that have fought for it, and leaving them to fend for themselves.

Disheartening isn't it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Resurrection of Channel I

Maybe it's me but I find it super irritating to see regular programme shows to be disrupted by the respective games, be it Olympics or SEA games, or FIFA. No offense but sometimes, I rather watch my regular programme than to see some football game.

If we're serious in promoting sports in Singapore, then either we have our own sports channel or we resurrect Channel I. If we resurrect Channel I, they can follow the format of Channel 8 and Channel U. More local programmes at channel 5 and others at channel I. So in the event we have football, Olympics, or even Barclays open, they can plan it in Channel I as it is well known when are the major sports events held.

Please... Some of us are seriously not interested in seeing 22 guys chasing after 1 ball live. How would you feel if someone keep interrupting you with a live event of the full parliamentary sitting (no offense)?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does meritocracy drives down innovation?

I was reading an article that was talking about the history of the word meritocracy. Apparently in 1958, it was originally used as a pejorative term in a satirical novel called "The Rise of the Meritocracy", written by the British Labour Party leader Michael Young.

In it, he warned against the creation of a technocratic elite in which the selection of the few would lead to the abandonment of the many, a new elite whose privileges were even more crushing and fiercely defended because they appeared to be entirely merited. Does this sound familiar? Occupy Wall street?

Although a system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement is advantageous, the problem comes when someone is chosen based on the wrong ability. For example, do you choose someone to lead a company who has the ability of churning out profits, but do not care about the hours worked by the employees? What happens if someone keeps choosing people who has the same working style, thinking it superior than other types of working styles?

In my personal opinion, meritocracy taken to the extreme will drive down innovation because you end up with people who all thinks alike. Although on paper, advancement is based on individual ability or achievement, but do not forget. Who decides what is being categorised as an achievement? 

That is the million dollar question.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Schools are not meant for entrepreneurs

I was browsing a book recently that talk about entrepreneurs. I agree totally with the sentences in the book. Simple, and yet deep. The sentences are
Schools do not create entrepreneurs. Schools are designed to create employees

Why is this so? Because schools teach you about things that have already happened. How things are suppose to be done. It discourages new thinking and thoughts for a very simple reason. You can't grade them. However, this doesn't mean that entrepreneurs shouldn't go to schools because there are certain things that never change. Accounting is one very good example. You will also need certain bases to start off with in order to generate your new thinking and ideas.

Remember, you need to know enough to start developing alternative thinking so don't use this excuse to stop going to schools. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs still went to universities, and they went to good ones too.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thinking is easy, acting on it is difficult

I quote from Goethe:
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

Talking and thinking is always easy. You'll only earn respect if you can do what you say.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Concentrate on the present

I quote from Buddha:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Do not look too far in the future and lose touch of the present. The future will not happen if you do nothing in the present.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hit the nail on the head on why our birth rate is decreasing!

I have just one comment on the recent article that says that there are now fewer persons living in one flat which works out to increased living space per person. Doesn't this person realised that the smaller flat is precisely the reason why some families are not having more children?

And they wonder why the birth rate cannot be increased.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to setup iTunes Wi-Fi Sync

After upgrading to iOS5, I thought that the iTunes Wi-Fi Sync is out-of-the-box. However, this is not the case. By default, the iOS5 will not backup your data to the cloud unless you set it up, and by default, it will not sync with your desktop/laptop iTunes using Wi-Fi.

To set-up your iTunes Wi-Fi Sync, just do the following:
  1. Connect your iOS5 iDevice to your desktop/laptop using the USB cable
  2. Launch your iTunes if it has not yet been launched
  3. You will see your iDevice under the DEVICES section. Click on it.
  4. Look under the section Options and ensure that the option Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi is checked.

That is it. If your iDevice (in my case, it's my iPhone) is connected to the power cable and it's connected to the Wifi, your desktop/laptop connected to the same Wifi network will be able to detect it. You will be able to initiate the backup using iTunes or on your iDevice at Settings > General > Wi-Fi iTunes Sync.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Steps to do before upgrading to iPhone 4S

Updated 09 November 2011: Certificates are not restored

Upgrading to the iPhone 4S so far has been quite smooth and within half an hour, I have fully restored all the settings in my previous iPhone 3GS. Before you upgrade, remember to do a full backup (not sync) of your previous iPhone using iTunes 10.5.

Once you get the new iPhone 4S, just do the following:
  1. Run your iTunes
  2. Setup your iPhone 4S in your iTunes
  3. Right-click on your iPhone 4S device name, and choose Restore Backup
  4. Select your iPhone Backup (look at the sync date to determine the backup to restore)

That's it. The amount of time required to restore the backup depends greatly on the apps you have in your iPhone. Once done, all your SMSes, contacts, groups, apps, etc will be restored on your iPhone 4S.

Update 1: It seems like certificates are not restored in the backup restoration. My Wireless@SG certificate was lost in the restoration and I had to re-download the certificate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another example of URA setting property prices

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has again proved that they are setting the property prices in Singapore. They have rejected the only bid for a commercial site at Sims Avenue / Tanjong Katong Road. Reason? The price is too low. Comparison? A similar site that was sold previously around the same area.

And they still say that the property prices are dictated by market forces. Nevermind that the previous price may be a result of someone overbidding. Nevermind that the current bid is taking into account current market forces, which was lower than the previous sale.

They got the chance to prove that the property prices are dictated by market forces and they blew it. Pity.

Optimise iPhone 4S Battery Life

After all the complaints on the iPhone 4S battery life, I was concerned about the iPhone 4S battery life. However it seems that after further optimisation, the battery life is much better than the iPhone 3GS. You can refer to my previous post on my optimisation of my iPhone 3GS battery life here.

Disable some of the System Services location based settings to stop your iPhone 4S from unnecessarily sending your location. To disable those settings, just do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings > Location Services > System Service
  2. Turn off Diagnostics & Usage, Location-Based iAds and Setting Time Zone

Set your notifications centre such that the alerts are sorted manually, instead of by Time. This will stop your notification centre from unnecessarily sorting the notifications that come in every now and then. To do that, just do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings > Notifications
  2. Under Sort Apps section, Tap on Manually

Under the Reminders app, you have the option to set a reminder if you are in a certain location. Use it sparingly as theoretically, it will constantly try to get your location so as to send you the reminder. This will cause your battery to drain even faster.

Last but not least, it's the 3G network coverage in your area, which unfortunately is not under your control. The reason is because for some weird reason, the iPhone 4S by default connects to the 3G network and there is no way to disable it. Take note that you're in the 3G network even though your Cellular Data is not on. As long as you're not on the 3G network, it will constantly try to connect it, and drain the battery in the process.

Not only that, there is also the "fake 3G network effect" that will drain your battery even more. Your iPhone 4S would have thought that it has good reception but due to under provisioning of bandwidth by your ISP to that cell station (in theory), it is unable to get a reliable data connection, seemingly causing the iPhone 4S to drain even more battery life.

Sadly for the last problem, we can't do anything about it. Luckily for me, the 3G network coverage is still quite good in Singapore and I did not face that much problems with the 3G network. I just hope that Apple will either re-enable the Enable 3G option in the Settings, or by default connect to the 2G network when the Cellular Data is off. That will resolve the third issue.

Currently based on when my 3G Cellular Data is on, it drops about 2% an hour on light usage, which I considered OK. Or is it?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Solution to problems will only come when ...

I quote from Albert Einstien:
If you are not part of the problem, you cannot be part of the solution

Why? If you did not encounter the problem, how do you resolve it?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Punggol Waterway

Updated 13 Dec 2011: Approximate map location of Punggol Waterway
Updated 10 Dec 2012: Added some updated photos of Punggol Waterway below
Updated 7 July 2013: Added photos of birds, insects and wild puppies below 

I had a chance to visit the Punggol Waterway, otherwise also known as My Waterway@Punggol, which is situated about 5-10mins walk, north west of the Punggol MRT/Bus Terminal. You can refer to the approximate location here from OneMap.

It's a 4.2km long, 20-30 metre wide man-made waterway that goes through the new Punggol estate. One end will lead you to the Sengkang riverside park while the other will lead you to the Lorong Halus Wetland near Pasir Ris. From Lorong Halus, it will lead you to the Serangoon Park Connector, which links to Punggol Park. There are a few playgrounds scattered throughout the waterway and I saw quite a few people cycling and jogging along the waterway.

Below are some pictures I've taken from Punggol Waterway to Long Halus Wetland. Something different than the urban landscape that we face everyday. Visit it when you have time.

Should be the direction towards Sengkang Riverside Park

Start of the Punggol waterway and the direction towards Lorong Halus

Bridge overlooking the centre of the Punggol waterway

Part of the waterway taken from the side

Singapore's very own mirror waterway. A rare scene in Singapore.

One of the bridges linking to the other side of the waterway

Another mirror waterway along the punggol waterway

One of the unique bridges along the waterway

Another mirror waterway
Sunrise bridge
Bottom of sunrise bridge
Lorong Halus bridge from Sunrise bridge
The bridge to Lorong Halus Wetland

2 birds that I "caught" at the waterway


Bird resting near a construction site

Another bird resting on a tree along the waterway

Bird "fishing" near Sungei Serangoon

Insect on a blade of grass
Wild puppy along the waterway

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fast-track Immigration Clearance extended to all Singaporeans

It seems that Malaysia wants to encourage Singaporeans to go over to the Malaysia more often. The Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) was extended to all Singapore citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents and holders of Singapore Long Term Visit Pass from 22 January 2011.

MACS pass holders can be benefit from faster immigration processing via access to dedicated entry and exit MACS lanes at:
  • Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru
  • Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Tanjung Kupang, Johor

 You can refer to the Malaysian website here for more information.
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