Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flower Dome @ Gardens by the Bay

The Flower Dome Conservatory at the Gardens by the Bay, where the entrance is on the same floor as the ticketing area, does not look like much at first glance. In fact, if you have visited the Cloud Forest initially, you will feel that this conservatory does not seem like much. You might want to take a look at this Dome first so that your expectations are not pushed up too high. :)

Take a look at the picture below on what greets you the moment you step in.

Personally, I think it is a mistake to show trees/plants from the cactus family the moment you step in. The impact, is just not as great as the waterfall you see at the Cloud Forest. :)  The area is quite big and all the pretty flowers are actually "downstairs" as you can see from the pictures below. As I went during the Halloween period, you can see quite a few pumpkins too around the dome. :)

As you can see from the pictures above, there are quite a number of resting areas for you if you are a little tired after all the walking. The area above are mostly trees/plants from the cactus family, but still there are some cactus flowers blooming. I've not seen a cactus flower before though so it was pretty interesting for me.

Anyway, I've grouped all the photos I've taken in the Flower Dome below. Do note that the flowers below are the more interesting flowers. Enjoy...

Do note that if you want to re-enter the dome, you can request for the staff at the exit to stamp your hand so that you can re-enter, valid for the day only. Have fun...

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cloud Forest @ Gardens by the Bay

The Cloud Forest is one of the must see conservatories in the Gardens by the Bay for a very simple reason. Just look at the picture below. :)

Yes, this will be the sight that greets you upon entering the Cloud Forest. The Cloud Forest conservatory entrance is one level below the ticketing area. Just take the escalator down and you should see the entrance on your right.

 Pretty cool isn't it? Actually, you're more wet than cool when you enter the conservatory as there always seem to be a mist of water surrounding the conservatory. This waterfall is about 7 stories high and yes, you can go up all the way to the top, walking at the suspended passageway like you see in the picture below.

The pathway within the conservatory is pretty straightforward. You will need to take the lift up to the 6th floor, after which you will climb up a flight of steps to reach the 7th floor. There is a small pond upon reaching the top, where you can see a number of flowers that usually grow by the water, similar to the picture below.

From the 7th floor, you will traverse down the "waterfall" using escalators. The conservatory is quite uniquely designed, and there were times I marvel more at the architecture, than the flowers itself. You can take a look at picture below for a bird's eye view of the conservatory. Pretty neat isn't it?

Upon going down, you will also encounter an area where you see a lot of crystals. Whether it is real or not, I'm not too sure but there is some write-ups throughout the area where explanation was given on how crystals are being formed. There are also mirrors everywhere, and I can't resist taking the picture below using the mirrors to show off some of the crystals. :)

You will see some of the more beautiful flowers upon reaching close to the ground floor. This is the area where I feel like it may be a scene right out of Jurassic Park, as you can see from the pictures below. The Cloud Forest I feel is beautifully landscaped, and I really enjoy how the flowers are being positioned around all the mini waterfalls and small streams.

Now, for some pictures of the more unique flowers which I've seen within the Cloud Forest. Personally I spent about 2 hours inside, but more so because I was admiring the architecture and the flowers. :) It's a good place to stay for some time, and it is quite cooling. Enjoy

Do note that if you want to re-enter the dome, you can request for the staff at the exit to stamp your hand so that you can re-enter, valid for the day only. I will post more photos of the Flower Dome later. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Going to Gardens By the Bay

I finally had a chance to visit Gardens by the Bay last week. Gardens by the Bay is surprisingly accessible. I arrived via the MRT, alighting at Bayfront MRT station, and exiting the station via Exit B. Once you exit out of the station, you will see Gardens by the Bay on your right. A rough location of the MRT station vis-a-vis Gardens by the Bay can be found here.

If you're interested in visiting the 2 cooled conservatories, the ticketing area is near the 2 conservatories. You will need to cross the Dragonfly lake, which you will see upon exiting the station, via the dragonfly bridge. The Supertree Groves and Super Leaf are also visible from the station as you can see from the picture below. If you notice carefully, there is also a bridge suspended in-between. That is the OCBC Skyway. Do note that this attraction is separate from the conservatory, and is at the other end of the garden.

After crossing the dragonfly bridge, just walk towards the 2 cooled conservatories which are quite visible even from this distance. You will pass by many of the small mini gardens which you can visit free-of-charge, and at your own pleasure. My advice though is to visit the 2 conservatories first and wait for the weather to be cooler before visiting the outdoor gardens.

You should see a scene like the picture below upon reaching the first cooled conservatory.

If you follow the pathway, you should see the ticketing area as shown in the picture below.  When I was there, they opened another ticketing area at the other end for cash payment only. You can only purchase the tickets for the 2 cooled conservatories though, for that cash payment queue only.

The garden cruiser is the vehicle you see on the right hand side. There is not much information on the garden cruiser but based on what I observed, I believe that this cruiser will bring you a tour around all the free gardens around the area, with a running commentary by the friendly driver.

The Gardens by the Bay does occupy quite a big area as you can see from the picture below. You may need to allocate more time if you hope to visit all the gardens. I was however quite tired after visiting the 2 cooled conservatories. Up to you on how you want to schedule your visit. :)

There are also a couple of eateries around the ticketing area, and at the 2 conservatories so you should not go hungry. The souvenir shop is also located near the exit of the 2 conservatories, and personally, I think it is reasonably priced.

I will post a little more on the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome conservatories later. You can find more information about the Gardens by the Bay here. As the pricing information differs if you're locals or tourists, I think it will be better if you refer to the website for more details.

Is the visit worth it? I let you draw the conclusion. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rekindle the inner spirit

I quote from Albert Schweitzer:
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

I just met up with a friend last week for lunch and I guess this quote is most apt because the conversation rekindle the fire in me which was smothering due to the problems faced at work. I need to be reminded that there are always 2 faces to a coin.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Good enough quality, or best quality?

It seems that recently, there is a trend where many consumers have stopped going for the best quality product, and instead, are going for good enough quality. I could however hazard a guess on why consumers nowadays go for good enough quality products. The answer is technology.

Technology, due to innovation or competition, has been advancing very quickly and new products are always being introduced. Now, it seems that the time to market for new products may have been cut down to a yearly basis (e.g. iPhone, Galaxy). Therefore for some companies, they may think that building the product to last just for 2 or 3 years will be enough as they will hope that the customers will upgrade to the newer product. They push the price down, at the expense of quality.

However, I do hope that there are still people out there that recognise quality when they see it and acknowledge it. Developing a best quality product is not easy, and the attention to detail can be overwhelming. However, it is the attention to these small little details that differentiate the product from the rest, and enable it to stand on its own, thus attracting their own loyal customers.

Companies should not fall into this trap of just producing good enough quality products because if they do, customer loyalty will definitely go down and they'll find customers just switching products whenever they feel like it. Will it be more profitable in the long run? I don't think so. It is difficult to measure "good enough quality" because "good enough" is subjective, very difficult to gauge.

Retaining a customer is definitely cheaper than attracting one. Agree?

Inflation is up 4.7%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2012:
January: 4.8%
February: 4.6%
March: 5.2%
April: 5.4%
May: 5.0%
June: 5.3%
July: 4%
August: 3.9%
September: 4.7%

Transport and Housing are leading the pack, rising by 9.6% and 6.4% respectively year on year, a huge increase compared to July's inflation. Inflation was generally stable compared to August, with the exception of Transport, Housing and Recreation & Others.

Looks like not only my July calculation is way off, my September calculation is also way too low. I was estimating the inflation to be slightly above 4% but not that high. Looking at the numbers, it seems that the inflation is a huge increase compared to last year. Even with this anomaly, inflation will not reach my initial 5% estimate. Most probably now the inflation for 2012 will range from 4.7%-4.8%. This month's inflation should be slightly higher than September though.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Manage settings for Do not Disturb

I realised that the settings for the "Do not Disturb" feature for the iOS 6 is not very obvious so I thought it would be good to show everyone where to manage it. "Do not Disturb" is a good feature to enable as it will prevent calls and alerts from coming in at the time you scheduled it to be enabled, or enabled it adhoc, and allow you to set which calls can go through even though it is enabled. Pretty neat feature, just that the settings to manage it is not very obvious.

To manage the "Do not Disturb" feature, just do the following:
  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Tap on Notifications
  3. Tap on Do Not Disturb

That's it. In this settings, you can enable if you wish the feature to be scheduled, which calls and alerts or repeated calls to allow to come through regardless if this feature is enabled.

Hope this helps...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Re-think on how enterprise software is going to be deployed

Recently HP has been doing more internal re-organisation in a quest for more profits and based on what I read, it seems that HP is gradually moving away from enterprise software for MNCs, and focusing more on products.

I've been working in the IT industry since 2003 and based on what I observed, I feel that companies are going to have more and more problems making money on enterprise software, particularly customisation. The reason is very simple. Unrealistic expectations.

The IT industry is now very different from let's say 5 years ago. More and more free products are available, and they are using advanced technology and the problem is that since it is free, people think that it is easy to do.

One of the best example is Google. People think that the search technology used by Google can be replicated easily in enterprise software because it is given away freely by Google, but what they don't know is that Google uses more than a million servers to do what it does.

Technology is getting more complicated and yet, enterprises are not willing to spend more to look at more advance technology to improve their business productivity. End result? A big nightmare as both expectations are not aligned.

I see a trend that more and more IT companies will move gradually away from enterprise services. More and more companies will offer cloud services and they will just provide the services as products. They may listen to your requirements but it will be up to the provider when these features will be deployed in their product. This will become more and more common because expectations have been going up too high on what should be given free or at a low cost, when the technology that is being requested is quite advanced and do require a lot of effort.

People think that just because it is easy to use, it is simple to develop. That couldn't be further away from the truth. IT is never easy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Man of value

I quote from Albert Einstein:
Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.

You can achieve success but the way you go about doing it must be of value. Otherwise, your success is meaningless. Being a man of value will bring you more happiness and achievement than success.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

S Pass increase shows productivity is going down

The decrease of the number of E pass holders and an increase of the S Pass holders only seemingly proves one thing to me. Decrease of productivity.

The idea is very simple. If productivity is increasing, the workers at the range of S-pass holders should be lesser as they are more well-trained, so they are able to work more efficiently, or lesser because Singaporeans are hired for the jobs.

However, the decrease of E pass holders seemly indicate that the E pass holders are sent back, and the work that they are doing are now done by S Pass holders. Is that considered an increase in productivity? Maybe on paper but the problem is productivity never take into account quality in the formula.

The cost of customer retention, cost of maintenance due to initial poor quality of work, somehow are never put into the equation of productivity. The latest trend still shows the heavy reliance on foreign workers.

Rights of workers is still essential to ensure that any workers, be it foreign or local workers, are protected by the law on common rights applicable to any employees.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

iOS6 Maps report a problem doesn't work

There is no use providing a feature to report a problem when no one acts on it. I was doing an experiment in iOS6 Maps where I reported problems in errors in locations. I tried many options, even the extent of dragging the pin to the correct spot, but no one fixed the problem even after a month.

Apple may be getting too big for their boots. Like it or not, consumers respect Apple because of the quality. If this quality is not enforced, you'll lose the respect of the consumers. Period.

Now I guess all I can do is to use the google maps as a web app. Just do the following:
  1. Launch Safari
  2. Access
  3. Google will instruct you to tap on the middle icon to add it as a web app. Tap that.
  4. Swipe to your right for the next page and tap on Add to Home Screen.

That is it. The google map will be saved as an icon. Just tap it and it is quite similar to the google maps app, except that it will not be able to cache any location.

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to spend if your time is all occupied by work?

Singapore seems to be living somewhere that is detached from the world. Whenever I read news about the United States, the Euro zone and Japan, I can see that all these 3 biggest economy zones that consume the most are having trouble.

I've long ago written many posts about the ill effects on just relying on trade to power the economy because I firmly believe that we work for the sake of living, and not the other way around. Now that the consumption is reduced for the 3 biggest economy zones, there is no other zone, or country to pick up the slack. Export growth for Asia, including China, is slowing and will continue to slow as long as there is no domestic spending.

There comes the problem. How to excite domestic spending? This is a big problem because many companies, at the expense of boosting profits (not that they are not making any), are pushing more work to lesser people. Yes, they may be giving them a raise but let us be realistic. If you spend 10 hours working every working day, the only thing that you're going to spend on is food and beverage. What else can you spend on? Does food and beverage help the economy? Not really because like it or not, the whole world is mostly powered by manufacturing and services. Buying a product, engaging services to renovate a small section of your home perhaps, etc. These kind of domestic spending are the ones that power the economy, not buying food and beverages.

As long as worker rights are not being enforced, we'll be forever stuck in this age of slow growth. Any worker, be it the boss (yes, some bosses work their butts off) or people working in the line units, deserve to live a normal life. Sleeping 8 hours a day, working 8 hours a day, and having 8 hours of free time.

That's the whole point of the magical number 8. Sadly though, in the name of profits and not sure what, this is no longer true. Cost must be enforced if we go beyond the working hours. Otherwise, workers will forever be exploited. Sad fact of life.

Friday, October 12, 2012

You can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand

I quote from Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit:
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 
Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.
But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's the use of QE3 in this present form?

I don't quite understand why the Feds initiated QE3 because if you look at the past 2 QEs, it did nothing to help the economy. I've written about it in a post here last year. It is not useful at all for improving employment because you will never improve employment when all the companies are keeping all the cash in their banks due to the fear of uncertainty in the future since the Lehman Brothers collapse.

The Feds should work with government to give grants to businesses for workable business plans. The government can arrange for banks to provide the grants at low interest rates, and for the Feds to buy the bank bonds that have been loaned to the grant recipients. The government will then monitor the progress and provide support from the private sector when needed.

QE3 at this present form only helps to relieve the pain of the mortgage owners. It doesn't fulfill any of the Feds mandate; Neither managing employment rate nor inflation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I think people need to revisit the definition of insurance

I was just glancing at the forums again when I read someone complaining about an insurance company withdrawing coverage from an individual after an accident. I'm not in the insurance line but I think I can guess the reason behind such a move, which is never a good PR move but must have some basis behind it.

First off, I like to revisit the definition of insurance. According to wikipedia, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. In essence, it's a pooling mechanism where the company will analyse an individual an analyse the possibility of the individual requiring a payout. Such companies survive because not everyone wants to be in an accident, but wish to be protected in the event something happens to them.

Now back to the crux of the issue. If insurer A rejects insurance to an individual or increase the premium, it usually means that they are most probably detecting that there is a high possibility that an insurance payout is required due to your risk profile. If the risk doesn't add up, they will usually reject the insurance or demand a premium.

There is a business model behind insurers and I find it a little amazing that individuals can still demand lower premiums when they have already made a claim to the insurer due to an accident.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quality does mean higher cost

I was reading an article when a sentence grabbed my attention that is totally unrelated with the objective of the article. "Price should not be the indicator of quality". This sentence "struck" me so hard that I disregarded the rest of the article.

Yes, price is not the indicator of quality but the point is that quality does cost more and regardless if it is quality service or quality product, it will cost more because inevitably, more effort has been put in, in terms of the level of service and quality provided, or the quality of the product itself. This quality does not drop down from the sky.

If quality does not command a premium, then why will some provide a quality service / product versus a normal or even bad product / service?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reject unkind criticism

I quote from Barbara Sher:
People have to face regrets. Becoming mature means learning to accept what you cannot change, facing unresolved sorrows and learning to love life as it really happens, not as you would have it happen. When someone attaches unkindness to criticism, she's angry. Angry people need to criticize as an outlet for their anger.
That's why you must reject unkind criticism. Unkind criticism is never part of a meaningful critique of you. Its purpose is not to teach or to help, its purpose is to punish. Life isn't supposed to be an all or nothing battle between misery and bliss. Life isn't supposed to be a battle at all. And when it comes to happiness, well, sometimes life is just okay, sometimes it's comfortable, sometimes wonderful, sometimes boring, sometimes unpleasant. When your day's not perfect, it's not a failure or a terrible loss. It's just another day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Digital Life should do more research

Updated 06 Oct 2012: Added link back to my original Apple Maps post.

I happened to chance across the Digital life paper today and I was reading about the iOS6 Maps problems. Agree with most of the comments except for one. iOS 6 Maps definitely cache maps and the caching is even better than google. I have been using the cache map since I got iOS 6 and so far it seems to cache the whole of Singapore for my case. You can read more about it in this post here.

They should do more research on it before going to press. I just find it remarkable that they can claim that google maps cache the maps while iOS 6 doesn't, even though both caches the maps in a similar way. Remarkable.

Mandatory for bus drivers to sit in a badly driven bus

Recently I've realised that more and more bus drivers are becoming worse drivers, otherwise known as the heavy foot syndrome. They like to accelerate very fast, and brake very fast. Result? People on the bus will get motion sickness.

Seriously, it should be mandatory for all bus drivers to sit in a badly driven bus. They should all sit inside, and the instructor will demo how passengers will feel in a badly driven bus. In severe cases, passengers may vomit within the bus.

Maybe we should vomit in the bus and tell the bus driver that they have to clean it up immediately because it's due to their bad driving that caused this mess.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Offer simplicity in a world of complexity

Very often I see complex solutions being made to resolve problems. The decisions being made may seem complicated but I think few people realised that a simple elegant solution to a problem will take even much more energy because it is really not something that is easy to do.

When people look at a simple elegant solution, they will say that it is simple and it is common sense. However, isn't it funny that no one thought of that solution until it "suddenly" appeared and it suddenly became "common sense"?

We need to offer simplicity in the world of complexity, and to do that, we need to stop thinking that the solution needs to look complex in order to resolve the problem. Simple solutions are much harder, and we should strive for such simple solutions.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Top ten myths about introverts

I was reading an interesting article that was written back in 2011 here about introverts. In it, the writer detailed the top ten myths about introverts. I find it quite true and that introverts have all along been misunderstood. Below is a summary on the article.
  1. Introverts hate small talk
  2. Introverts don't interact for the sake of interacting
  3. Introverts want everyone to be real and honest
  4. Earn the respect of Introverts if you want to be their friend
  5. Introverts don't socialise for the sake of socialising
  6. Introverts prefer an authentic and sincere connection with one person at a time
  7. Introverts prefer to be valued for their novel ways of thinking
  8. Introverts primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotion
  9. Introverts typically relax at home or nature, not in busy public places
  10. Last but not least, Introverts are not extroverts.
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