Monday, April 30, 2012

How to resolve the credit card problem when taking taxi

Personally, I've encountered quite a few times when taking the taxi that the credit card terminal is mysteriously not working. When they show it to me, it seems to me rather that they off the device than it's not working.

I found a simple solution to this problem. Before I go into the taxi, I will tell them straight that I've no cash and I'm only paying by credit card. If they still say its not working, then too bad. I will hop on to the next one. Of course if you're really pissed off with the taxi driver due to various reasons, you can always take down the taxi number and report that taxi to the taxi company on why they allows taxis with faulty equipment to be in service.

I still remember back in the days when I was driving that I'm forbidden from driving off the vehicle if there is anything wrong with it. Well, I guess the standard has now changed. Even taxis can catch fire in the tunnels now.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last time I will be getting a full leather sofa

I think this is the last time I will be getting a full leather sofa. Got a 2L full leather sofa from Species Home Furnishing which was delivered starting of year 2010. Within a year, this happened!

I've never sat down at this corner of the sofa and the only thing I ever did to this corner is to rest my elbow against it. Fine! The sides can't withstand the weight of my elbow. I could live with this small patch of eyesore.

However shortly after that, maybe about 14-15months after the sofa was delivered to me, the sofa started "flaking" at around the area which I'm sitting at. Tada, now this is what my sofa looks like.

The only way I can sit on my sofa now is to cover this patch with a piece of cloth which you can see slightly in my first picture. This sofa costs almost $1,900 and this is the quality I get! Severely disappointed. Now I know why some people only get fabric sofa. Expensive lesson learned!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pasir Ris One@Pasir Ris

Looks like this is going to be the last of the DBSS launches. I still have no idea what's the whole point of creating the DBSS sites because it is neither here (HDB) nor there (private). However, if they revive the concept of private apartments, just maybe this will make sense. I will not repeat what I have written in my other posts on DBSS and you can refer to my other posts for more information.

DBSS @ Pasir Ris has been named Pasir Ris One, and is located at Pasir Ris Central, right next to White Sands. The indicative pricing and configuration are as follows:

3 room~65 sqm
(103 units)
from $390,000

A/c Ledge;
Living Room w/ Balcony

4 room~86 sqm
(237 units)
from $550,000

Big A/c Ledge;
Living Room w/ Big Balcony;
Master Bedroom w/ Big Balcony

5 room~105 sqm
(107 units)
from $650,000

Big A/c Ledge;
Living Room w/ Big Balcony;
Master Bedroom w/ Big Balcony;
Suggest Study Room location

You can take a look for more information here. The pricing for Pasir Ris One as usual is off the charts, mainly because it is next to White Sands, and near many schools. It is also not stated that there are built-in wardrobes, kitchen cabinets and appliances, air-conditioning system, etc. However, so far I've not seen a DBSS that does not provide this standard furnishings.

Based on the floor plan, the flats look quite small because even the 3-room flats have balconies. For 4-room flats and 5-room flats, both include big balconies for the living room and master bedroom respectively. Although it is not stated the size of the interior, it should be quite small based on the floor map. However, I like the fact that it is squarish in shape and that the bomb shelter is accessed through the kitchen so the ugly door is hidden from the living room. The kitchen is also the longish rectangular kind so it should be more "spacious". The suggested study room location may also mean that it is optional for the 5 room flats so you may have a bigger living room/dining room.

The Centrale8 post includes some of the calculations I did to see if it fits into my affordability matrix so I will not repeat it here. The psf pricing ranges around $650psf. Although it is next to White Sands shopping mall and the MRT, the simple fact is that it's right at the other end of the island. It may make sense if you work near Pasir Ris but for that price, I think the resale HDB at Pasir Ris should be cheaper.

Is it worth paying $650psf for a HDB flat, 99 year lease, with all the quotas and limitations?

Friday, April 27, 2012

To be the person you want to become

I quote from Earl Nightingale:
For a person to build a rich and rewarding life for himself, there are certain qualities and bits of knowledge that he needs to acquire. There are also things, harmful attitudes, superstitions, and emotions that he needs to chip away. A person needs to chip away everything that doesn't look like the person he or she most wants to become.

We'll need to let go of the negative attitudes so that we can move forward. To be the person you want to become, you will need to continuously renew yourself. There are always new things to learn and after learning, the things you do will be much more rewarding.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cloud is about TCO, direct and indirect

I think the problem with cloud computing is that most organisations are only looking at the initial costs of the cloud, and not at the total benefits that cloud computing will bring.

What are the benefits that I feel that some organisations are not looking at?
  1. Scaling computing resources up and out
  2. Facility management of these computer resources and allow it scale as and when required
  3. The manpower required to do the operational work to scale up and out of the computing resources

Many forget the importance of the last point because this frees your manpower from doing the operational work and allow them to do more value-adding work as they are no longer worrying about keeping the lights on. The costs involved is both tangible and intangible, and the savings can be tremendous.

However, I still hear people said that cloud computing is expensive. To see the cost savings, you must redesign your business operations to complement cloud computing. Only then can you can see the savings.

Personally though, if you're looking at service quality, the ability of scaling computer resources as and when required is a competitive advantage that few has. That I believe is the true benefit of cloud computing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quest for GDP Growth Worsen Lives

It seems like our new World Bank president, Dr Kim, has edited a book called "Dying for Growth" back in 2000. What's so controversial about this? One of the lines in the book says that the studies within present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men. It goes against the "truth" that the pursuit for growth produces good outcomes.

I have not read the book but it seems that he is arguing that the key point is not the GDP growth but the distribution of gains from economic growth that decides whether it makes life better for the poorest.

I believe this hits the nail right onto the head. It doesn't matter how much the economy grow if the distribution of gains is restricted to a privilege few. Translated? The pursuit should not be on any type of growth but the growth that will be the easiest to distribute the gains to make life better for the poor. Hopefully the governments of the world recognises that.

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

Inflation is up 5.2%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2012:
January: 4.8%
February: 4.6%
March: 5.2%

Housing and Transport are once again leading the pack, rising by 9.4% and 5.5% respectively year on year. Inflation rose across the board, in particular Transport. The uptick in inflation was more than expected, especially for transport. The only reason that I could think of is because of the price of COE and more people taking private transport due to the unreliability of SMRT trains.

Inflation for next month? I'm not surprised if it can go up to 6%. :( Although the oil price has been quite stable, the COE pricing seems to be affecting the overall inflation rate.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Idea of iPhone Gloves is not new

Recently, there was a news coverage on a group of teenagers creating gloves that will work on the iPhone. The funny thing is that I remember reading somewhere about it long time ago and the idea is definitely not new. My wife recently reminded me where I saw it. It's at MakeZinc! Apparently, Becky has posted a way to make this way back in end 2009! You can refer to her post here. It's not rocket science. It's just conductive threads.

I'm not sure if the students have seen this video but the impression I had when I watched the news was that it's something new, which is definitely not true. More research should have been done to check if this was something that was done previously. Becky has recently made a video last November showing how to sew the conductive threads onto your gloves. You can check out her video below on how to make it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Something is wrong with SMRT

Today's news reported that SMRT owned Bukit Panjang LRT has broken down and as a result, passengers have to walk on the MRT tracks to the nearest LRT station.

Is it me or SMRT trains keep breaking down? This is the 5th breakdown in less than a month! I wonder if they know what is preventive maintenance. The recent train driver's inquiry revealed that they actually drove the train out even though the fault indicator lights were on. I remember way back when I was driving, I have strict instructions not drive out the vehicle if it is not functioning properly.

Isn't that the norm?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Turning back may mean progress

I quote from C.S. Lewis:
We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

4G will be a problem

Seems like the latest 4G iPad shows problems with 4G, otherwise known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), before it is fully released. The 4G iPad can work in the United States but not anywhere else. Seems like there isn't a standard where 4G is meant to be operated, and the chips that power this 4G is fixed on certain spectrum. This does not speak well for us consumers.

In layman terms, it will mean that if you have a 4G phone, you might not be able to use it overseas just because your 4G is not compatible with the other countries' network. Seriously, I would have thought after the CDMA/ GSM problem, they would have taken this into account before they start designing 4G.

It seems that it is best to avoid any 4G phones now because you may end up with a phone that cannot work overseas. That is not worth it.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Should have a Special Lemon Law for Property Development

Recently there are new rules for new properties that there should not be any misrepresentation on how big the actual unit would be and if walls or doors had been removed to give the impression of more living space. However, it seems that not many are following the guidelines.

One of the ways to make these property developers adhere to these guidelines is to adapt the lemon law for new property development. Simply put, if the show flat misrepresents the actual flat, the buyer can return the flat to the property developer and get a full refund, plus all the interest paid so far.

This should ensure all developers follow the rules, won't it?

Monday, April 16, 2012

45 minutes transfer limit is ridiculous

If you transfer from bus to mrt/lrt or vice versa, rebates will be given so that you'll only be charged for the total distance traveled. A transfer can be from:
  • the MRT/LRT to a bus service,
  • a bus service to another bus service, or
  • a bus service to the MRT/LRT

However, there is a limitation to it. To be eligible for a valid transfer, you would have to make the transfer from one service to another within 45 minutes. Basically, from the time you exit the gate at the MRT/LRT stations or when you tap your card at the bus exit card reader to the time you board the next service, it has to be within 45 minutes.

That is ridiculous. If the bus delay due to traffic conditions or the MRT travels very slowly, there goes your rebate. I'm not sure why is there a 45 minutes limit when there is also a limit that all the 5 transfers that you made on a single journey must be made within 2 hours from the time of your first boarding on the same journey.

I never get the next transfer rebate because after transferring so many trains and waiting so long for the train at each interchange, I'll never get the rebate. Why are there so many limits?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Be in charge of your attitude

I quote from Charles R. Swindoll:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Know what you are getting into in the Genting Perpetual Bonds

Many people I believe are recently talking about the upcoming Genting perpetual bonds and I thought it will be best if you read the prospectus first before blindly subscribing to it. If you do not know these 3 things, I suggest you better read the prospectus first:
  1. It's a perpetual bond. Layman terms? There is no need for Genting to pay back your principle ever, although it is stated that they can recall the bond if they wish to

  2. Obligations are subordinated. They have almost a whole page of obligations which means that this bond is really ranked quite lowly. Based on the wordings, it would seem that this bond is even more junior than preference shares. One thing I learned about prospectus. If you don't understand it, it's most probably something that is of disadvantage to you.

  3. The distribution payment can be deferred not more than 20 nor less than 15 Business Days prior to a scheduled Distribution Payment Date, and there is no obligation for Genting to pay any distribution on any distribution payment date.

There are some other points but I think the above, especially the last point, is something that you should especially take note. And guess what? For the last point, even if they do not pay you, it does not constitute as a default.

If you still think it suits you... well, to each its own. Only 1 word for me. Avoid.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why BYOD is not feasible

Recently the talk is all about Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) to work. We are not only talking about accessing emails using your own device, but also about accessing your workspace and your corporate applications and documents.

Accessing emails is the easy part, not the rest though. Technically, it looks quite simple but most users will not think about security. How do you secure the corporate identity and documents?

The problem with bringing your own device to work is that the device is still your personal asset. If the IT department tightens the security of your device too much, it will seem that your personal device becomes a corporate asset. If they do not tighten the security, the corporate assets are not well protected. They are trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Some say that virtualisation is the answer, but do the math and you find that it doesn't add up. A simple Windows machine requires at least 2 cores and 4 GB of ram. Assuming that you have a blade server that has 40 cores and 96 GB ram, each blade server can only take about 20 users. How many blade servers do you need for the whole organisation? How about the network bandwidth allocation? I believe 20 laptops cost less than 1 blade server with 40 cores and 96 GB ram.

Unless your corporate applications consist of all web applications, BYOD may not work for your organisation. This is assuming that your personal device is able to edit the documents that is being stored on a central server.

Based on the current technology, I'm not sure how BYOD will map out. It doesn't yet seem to be a cost effective solution.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Singaporeans cannot be creative

I was reading an article recently on creativity and how to encourage it in both work and school. There was a survey conducted in 2006 by an assistant professor at the University of Washington Business School and the results are not surprising. Stress does affects our creativity.

It seems that an individual seeking maximum creativity at work will be best to embrace an in-between emotional state, neither happy-go-luckily complacent nor anxiously stressed out. The assistant professor believes that it was the presence of mixed emotions that stimulates unconventional and more creative solutions. However if someone is too focused or too wound up, the scope of their problem-solving is reduced.

Considering that Singapore prides itself in its efficiency and thus creating unnecessary stress on all of us, it's of no surprise that creativity is not our strongest point, if we base it on the research that was done in 2006. Just relieving stress apparently is not enough to encourage creativity though. Apparently, day dreaming does help in creativity. :)

You can read more about this from the article here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why local talents are better

I was recently reading an article on company culture, in particular Japanese company culture and it was opined that in certain cases, the Japanese companies' culture was the reason for their downfall, in particular their expats culture.

Using the example of a Japanese company, certain places sent Japanese to occupy all major functions like finance and marketing without understanding the local business. It is very likely, due to the unfamiliarity with the local climate, these "expats" will require a lot of help from the local workers to execute their business operations. It will lead to a situation where these expats become "figureheads" and a lot of actual work is actually done by people lower down the ladder, causing a drop in morale.

The situation will become worse if these "expats" wish to exercise their authority and insist on executing certain business operations in a certain way as it worked in their home country, be it due to familiarity or ego, not knowing that in business, one size doesn't fits all.

In such cases, local talents have a distinct advantage due to their familiarity with
  1. the local culture (how things work in the home country)
  2. the work culture (how colleagues get along with one another)
  3. the language culture (e.g. in Australia, get lost is acceptable but not in other countries)

Even in companies that are not big enough to have expats, local talents are always an advantage even with the above reasons, unless you do not have a need to communicate and interact with anyone. This is highly unlikely. Many especially underestimate the importance of the language culture, in particular communication.

Having said that, I'm not saying that expats are not able to do the above. I've seen some expats who are highly adaptable, and able to bring new ideas to the table. Do not discount local talents though. Nothing beats hiring someone who lives and breathes the local scene.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Learn Principles, not Methods

I quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
If you learn only methods, you´ll be tied to your methods but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods.

Learn the basis of what you're doing and only then, can you truly understand and appreciate what you're doing and make improvements to it. You can't improve something which you cannot understand.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seems like bureaucracy restricts innvoation too

I was reading another article that talks about the work life in a certain company. What the person liked about the company is that even though there were many layers above him to the founders, all the people in the middle got out of the way so that the founders could actually hear the idea from him, a relatively junior person within the organisation.

I think it is quite common in organisations that if you want to get access to the upper management, the usual case is that all the people in-between will want to vet and modify whatever that you're proposing or bringing up. Sometimes, you see your idea being morphed into something completely different when it goes up, or worst still, your idea becomes your bosses idea, causing the team to be demoralised.

The person who originated the idea probably has some reasons for it and only the person who came up with the idea is able to defend it well. Who knows? The idea may be something that is radically different and will change the way things are done. I guess that is why for that particular organisation, everyone got out of the way so that the person who came up with the idea can pitch it.

How many organisations in the world has this kind of structure? Not many I think.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Homework pushes away responsibilities

I was reading with interest on an article from Guardian here on the topic of homework. It seems that homework was officially banned in French primary schools since 1956 but many teachers ignore this ban. Why the ban? The reasons were simple. The French parents think that homework is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children.

Why is it useless? If the child hasn't succeeded in doing the exercise at school, how are they going to succeed at home?

Why is it tiring? After spending many hours in school, older children apparently often spend up to an hour each evening doing homework, and longer in the weekends. So it seems that school work becomes everything to a child and they have little time for other activities. Wait a minute. That sounds like working life too. Oh well.

Why it reinforces inequalities between children? Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring. In fact, it seems like they are asking parents to do the work that should be done in schools during lessons. That is why some parents liken this to pushing away the responsibility of teaching to the parents.

On a side note, does homework reinforces elitism? Only those people with the money for expensive tuition can do well in school? Well, it does seem to look this way now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

iOS 5.1 3G bug

For those who are using the iOS 5.1, it seems that there is a bug in their OS, at least for the iPhone 4GS. If you ever power off your iPhone 4GS with your 3G switched off and airplane mode switched to ON, please take note that when you power on your iPhone, your 3G will automatically be defaulted to ON once you switch off your airplane mode.

Minor inconvenience but do take note. Luckily there isn't any problems with the Cellular Data option (it remains on whatever setting you have switched it to).
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