Monday, December 31, 2012

Finally some truth in the 3G coverage

I have never believed that the telcos in Singapore have 99% coverage because so far, I've never experienced such coverage since I moved to a 3G phone.

Personally, I do not care how the telcos measure their coverage because the 3G disconnect that I experienced on my phone is real. And don't give me the sales talk that it's because of many factors like my phone's components. I've tested it in an area where the 3G coverage is strong and I've encountered no such problems. The problem only comes when I'm moving around with a 3G connection.

This kind of problems will only occur if you do not have sufficient backend infrastructure to support the number of users logging into the 3G network at a given location. This has nothing to do with the phone's capability.

It's very easy to test out the 3G coverage. Enable your 3G network and disable automatic network connection. Just walk around see how many times your 3G network is disconnected. Then you will find that the telcos' claims of 99% 3G coverage is just a dream.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

How to attain happiness, freedom and peace of mind

I quote from Peyton Conway March:
There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life - happiness, freedom and peace of mind - are always attained by giving them to someone else

You can find happiness, freedom and peace of mind through other means, but it is of no assurance that you will find them. Reason is simple. Sometimes in your pursuit, you forget the reason why you're doing it and you end up losing your way, and causing yourself and maybe even others sorrow.

Slow down, and think it through. You may see better once you've done that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inflation is up 3.6%

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%
October: 4% 
November: 3.6% 

Transport and Housing are leading the pack, rising by 6.2% and 5.2% respectively year on year, moderating downwards compared to September's inflation. As mentioned previously, inflation moderated due to the holiday season, but it seems that it moderated more than what I expected.

Looks like this year's inflation rate should come around 4.5%, within MAS estimates. This year has been an eye opener for me because my estimates have consistently been way-off the actual numbers. Unfortunately, unless there is a reduction of my current workload, I might not be able to have time to re-look at the reason behind it.

Anyway, wishing everyone happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A new age has begun, the green age I hope

The last day of the mayan calendar has come and gone on 21 Dec 2012. I only noticed one big difference on the night of 21 Dec 2012. It was hot! 22 Dec 2012, supposedly the start of the new age in the Mayan calendar, which I believe is the start of a much warmer Earth.

Currently all the developing and developed countries do not seem to take climate change seriously. Some countries are using the excuse that climate change is not man-made so there is no need for any action. Personally, I think that's a very sorry excuse. It's akin to saying that there is a drought, and the water pipe is leaking, but there is no need to fix the water pipe because the drought is the main reason for the lack of water.

Since many developed countries are having problems with their budgets because of overspending, this is the best time to introduce a new tax to bring in revenue for them. It's carbon tax. This tax is very important because it will be the number 1 reason why companies even bother to develop green products.

Reason is very simple. Companies have no incentives to design and develop green products because by nature, pollutive products are much simpler and cheaper to produce. Carbon tax will offset this low base by bringing it on-par with the green products.

Why should the government "benefit" from this carbon tax? That's because in the end, it's easier for them to manage, police and monitor the companies to ensure that they are taking the carbon threat seriously. For example, if there is a factory near your residential home spewing chemicals into the air, do you think you can do anything about it, or the government has the power to make a difference? The answer is obvious.

Seriously, I'm of view that there is not even a need to get a consensus. Get the majority of countries to introduce carbon tax, and you start from there, giving tax rebates to each other. Too many cooks spoil the broth so when you see something that is workable, go for it first.

Someone has to take the first step, or the world governments will prefer the outcome in the movie 2012?

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2012

Just fall over the cliff

Looking at the happenings at the States, I was thinking that they should just fall over the cliff so as to speak. The politics is horrendous.

Closing unnecessary tax deductions do not assure increase in revenue. Anyone who has hired a tax accountant so that they can pay less tax will know the truth of it. They will just adjust the amounts accordingly. It's common sense that any increase of revenue over this move is akin to plucking numbers out of thin air. Translated. They have no plans to bring in more revenue at all, and they choose to turn a blind eye to companies keep records amount of cash in their bank accounts.

After reading a number of articles talking about the fiscal cliff, I realised that the States has a unique sense of "democracy". The political agenda in the house seems to indicate that the majority speaker of the house will not bring any bills to the floor if the party does not support it.

Is that democracy? If it is true democracy, the majority speaker should bring up the bill if the majority of the people in the house wants it to be heard, regardless of which party they belong to. However according to the article that I read, this is not the case.

No wonder they are in deadlock over the fiscal cliff. In fact, I agree totally with President Obama that if they fall over the cliff, it's the Congress's fault. Their political positioning for the next presidential election is too obvious and everyone can see it.

Just fall over the cliff and be done with it.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Do not breed routine

I quote from James Galway:
Running through things because you are familiar with them, breeds routine and this is the seed of boredom

When you get bored, you become disinterested, and things always happen when you're in that kind of mood. Change your routine, no matter how small the change is, once in a while. It helps to keep your sanity.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To be green means keeping the COE prices high

Updated 20 Dec 2012: Realised I missed out mentioning out how to keep the COE prices high

Before anyone shoots me for this subject title, I will like to highlight that this is backed up by facts. At least according to the article that I've read.

The reasoning is quite simple. You should have encountered traffic jams in Singapore almost everyday, and while you're in a traffic jam, your car is still burning litres of petrol even though you're stuck, and the car may not be moving at all. Do you know that burning 400 litres of fuel is equivalent to each megawatt that a coal plant that runs for an hour generates, assuming an average of 2.5kg of CO2 output is generated per litre of fuel? Now consider this: An entire city paralysed in traffic gridlock may exceed 40,000 litres of petrol burned every hour. So how much CO2 are you polluting the air in a traffic jam?

You're actually better off building coal plants to generate electricity than to let traffic jams happen in your city. I don't see many people voicing concerns over traffic jams because I don't think they see the problem of the CO2 generation when the car engine is running, even though it may not be moving.

So logically, to reduce the car population in Singapore, the COE prices will have to remain high to prevent the car population from going too high, most probably through gradually reducing the number of COEs until Singapore can afford to increase the road capacity. I feel that the carbon rebate that the government is initiating is good for the environment. This I feel is a form of reverse tax to those cars that are cheap, but pollutive to the environment.

For the betterment of Earth, I think we must try to reduce the CO2 emissions that we generate everyday. Every little bit helps.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Foreign workers will gradually leave Singapore

Looking at the trends from the other countries, foreign workers will gradually not come to Singapore to work because they can get higher pay elsewhere.

According to some articles that I read, job agencies have said that skilled labour workers now prefer to work in Europe, Japan and South Korea over Singapore for work because they get many times more for the same position.

I think that Singapore companies will need to wake up to the fact that cheap labour is over. Scope of work will need to be re-designed in order for the companies to survive. Frankly, if foreign workers still come to Singapore to work even though they can get higher pay elsewhere, I think you really need to look into the reasons why are they coming here instead of places where they can get much higher pay.

Things always happen for a reason, and the reason may not be to your advantage.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Focus should no longer be on the processor speed

It seems to me that gradually, processor speed is no longer a big concern in any device. The reason is clear. There is no longer a monopoly in the platform for the devices and therefore, higher processor speed does not necessary mean that it's faster.

Let me explain. There are many parameters that affect the speed of the device, and the most important aspect that affects the speed is the operating system. Therefore you can have a very fast processor speed but if your operating system is not efficient, your device may be slower than another device, running another operating system, that has a slower processor speed.

Consumers can no longer use the processor speed or even the memory to determine if the device will be fast. The only way is to test out the speed is to test it on those test pieces when you walk into those stores.

Unless the devices are running the same operating system, do not use the processor speed or the hardware components to determine how fast the device may be. It will be of no use to you and it will most probably be not accurate.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Simple rules of life

I quote from Lao Tzu:
In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. 

Just a thought. Other than applying this to us, shouldn't the government function base on this principle?

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thank you

Time flies and it has been slightly over 5 years since I started blogging. I was not really into blogging until my then girlfriend, now wife, persuaded me to "try it out".

What started out as an outlet for me to share my thoughts, hobbies and ideas have evolved to what you are seeing today. I would have never imagined that so many people, close to 400,000 to-date, will be interested to hear my rambles. To all you folks, thank you...

I always try to make some minor tweaks here and there along the way. Must be the techie inside me speaking. Recently, I finally decided to try out the Facebook fan page. If you are interested to follow my blog, just like my page and you will be notified whenever there are new posts to my blog.

I have also started putting some high resolution photos into the Facebook page for sharing, and every now and then, I will also start posting things that will be exclusive to the Facebook page. Some things are more easily shared through Facebook posts. 8)

Anyway, thank you all and wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy 2012!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why do we need a retirement age?

Recently I've been reading articles that were discussing about the upcoming increase of retirement age from 65 to 67 in Singapore. Somehow after reading it, it dawned on me that the point on increasing the retirement age may be because the government is trying to get more workers into the workforce by getting the older folks to work in their twilight years.

I firmly believe that if the work environment is employee friendly, there is no need for even a retirement age because at this age, there are already almost no companies that are still using the pension scheme. In fact, regulations is only needed to prevent against discrimination of workers based on gender and age. No matter how much you push the retirement age, if the bosses are not employee friendly, people will rather not work for them, regardless of the age.

What's the use then of this retirement age? Is it only to govern the release of the CPF monies back to us? If that is so, what don't we give the control back to us, the citizens? For example, it can be mandated that the annuity starts from age 65 onwards, and all the lock-in, conversion of the special account to retirement account etc are executed based on this age (for e.g., work the milestones backwards from this age). Citizens have the option to change this age, but this will affect the annuity payouts depending on the change. All the CPF board needs to do is to release annual statements indicating the estimated payout based on the current monies in the CPF accounts. Won't that be easier? Do away with this so-called retirement age.

In summary, if you are able to fulfill the job scope and it doesn't cause any unnecessary duress, it doesn't matter if you're a guy or girl, or your age. Therefore, this retirement age becomes unnecessary. Isn't that what meritocracy is all about?

What is happening to our values?

I just saw a small kid that should be no more than 7 years old, insisting to be allowed to urinate in public, near the drain area. The mum actually relented to the boy's request. I thought we are way past that stage in Singapore.

I wonder if our relentless focus on so-called growth is leading us to a society where we care about no one else except ourselves. Is that what we want? Is the so-called growth more important than our values?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Standby bug in iOS 6.0.1

Recently I realised an interesting bug in the iOS 6.0.1 on my iPhone 4S. In essence, if you are updating or downloading apps in the AppStore, and exit out of the AppStore, your iPhone will not standby.

I noticed it because I have a habit of updating or downloading apps, and exiting the AppStore after that. I will then leave the phone to do my own stuff. Many times I found my iPhone very hot because the iPhone did not go onto standby even after all the apps have been updated or downloaded. So far this is the only instance I have discovered this bug.

Solution is quite simple, Turn off your screen after you're finished with the AppStore. The downloads and updates will still continue.

Hope this will be resolved soon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Supertree Gove @ Gardens by the Bay

Updated 13 Dec 2012: Added the Supertree Grove during the night

I visited the Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay during one of my free days to take a look how that area looks like. In case you are not sure what is the Supertree Grove, take a look at the picture below.

The Supertree Grove is situated in front of the dragonfly lake as shown, and it's to the right side of the domes at Gardens by the Bay. The OCBC skyway is at Supertree Grove which you can take a look in the picture below.

You can purchase the OCBC skyway tickets at the small pavilion below, and I believe it's cash only. The lift to access the skyway is next to the pavilion. If you're unsure, just ask the friendly cashier at the pavilion. :) You can see the OCBC skyway (yellow in color) in the pictures below.

As shown above, the skyway gives you a bird-eye view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel at one end, and the Gardens by the Bay at the other end. The skyway is quite affordable though so you might want to visit the skyway as the first stop so that it gives you the view of how big Gardens by the Bay is.

Just to give you a little teaser that it is worth visiting the Supertree grove at night. Below is a picture of it at night. Amazing isn't it?

Have fun...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Health, Contentment and Faithfulness

I quote from Buddha:
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. 

Something that we need to always keep in mind, least we forget the reason why we are working jobs for most of our lives. We need to go back to the fundamental reason of why we need a job. Do not delay contentment because certain things can only be done when you're young.

Most importantly, do not build your happiness on top of others and depriving them of it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Any way to reduce dust generated from Construction?

Singapore seems to be in a state where there are always construction everywhere. As a result, the dust generated by the construction is everywhere. You just need to open the windows for a few hours after you clean the house, and you can see a fine layer of dust settling on your sparkling floor.

Is there a way to mandate the construction companies in investing in technology so as to reduce the amount of dust generated in any type of construction? I do accept the fact that there is a need for construction due to various reasons but I think that our needs should not be sacrificed as a result of that. Dust particles can cause health problems, especially those with respiratory issues and pollution, not to mention the mental stress to all homeowners because the constant cleaning of the house will not result in a clean house. Air-con is expensive for your information.

There should be mandated dust control measures for all types of construction for the benefit of all citizens. Limit clearing areas, physical barriers, watering sprays are some of the more common dust control measures, but I don't see it being implemented. Yes, dust control measures are not cheap, but who says keeping yourself healthy is cheap.

We're already facing issues at work, and when we're back home, we're faced with a dust issue. Is cost more important than personal health and well-being?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Result of over reliance of foreign workers

What does the recent illegal strike from foreign workers from SMRT Buses Ltd tell you about Singapore? We are over relying on cheap foreign workers and the foreign workers are beginning to realise that fact.

In one of the interviews with one of the workers who went on strike, he went as far to admit that they know that if a significant number of them do not go to work, it will cause a public outcry as the public transport service level will be affected. This is evidence that they have knowledge that their actions will cause a disruption and they went ahead to do it because they wanted disruption.

Even the cause of the strike is not justified. They are paid, they just had an increment albeit lower than others, but they wanted more. Seriously, if they were seriously mistreated by SMRT, I would have said that the strike is justified, but this is not the case. The fact is that they had an increment outside of the contract clauses, and they were not happy with it. So they organised an illegal strike to express their unhappiness.

A message needs to be sent with regard to this kind of action and the rule of the law cannot be influenced by any outside influence. I believe Singapore does not want the case where all services are disrupted because employees choose to strike over any reason. Can you imagine yourself going to work or play, but unable to do so, because some employees choose strike over some reason and blockage the area that you need to pass through?

This over reliance of foreign workers have been evident since we open the floodgates years ago. In the name of keeping costs down, companies are allowed to "import cheap foreign workers" and make increasing profits, at the expense of service levels. Sometimes they even use the "cheap foreign workers" as justification that Singaporeans salaries are too high. Our employment act does not help protect our workers because it is far too generic, letting companies get away with employment contract clauses that are too beneficial to the employers and not the employees.

All workers, regardless of citizens, PRs or foreign workers, need to be educated on the powers of the employment act, and what are the avenues available to us if we have problems. Sufficient teeth must be in the act so that a strong message is sent out to employers that they need to be fair to us. It's already well known in the world that Singapore workers work one of longest hours in the world, and one of the least public holidays gazetted too. No wonder our fertility rate is low. We're all too tired when we reach home, or we're working our butts off after dinner.

First step must be taken to stop this, and the update of the employment act to better protect all workers is the correct step.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Productivity by getting employees to do more the way to go?

Seems like finally the newspapers are reporting what has been an open secret in Singapore. Most of the productivity gains that you see in Singapore are as a result of bosses getting employees to do more, or hiring of cheaper foreign workers, instead of investing in technology or streamlining of processes in order to achieve higher output. Getting employees to do more without an obvious increment will only give the company a bad reputation and you can be assured that the company will have some form of reputation amongst the job seekers.

With the tightening of foreign workers quota, many SMEs are now having trouble filling up positions within the company to even fulfill current orders, let alone expansion. Is hiring more workers the only way?

Coming from the technology perspective, it really depends. I do not deny that there are certain industries such as the food industry, that has heavy reliance of workers. Like it or not, to make good food, you need people. Machines can assist you in certain things, but not everything. You invest in a machine to create your food product and you may loose some of your competitive advantage as there may be a drop of quality as a result of removing the human touch.

However, I believe most work can be improved upon by using technology. It's just that bosses are too wary of the power of technology and prefer the tested way of doing business. For example, I have talked about Sakae Sushi use of technology in a post here which I believe helped them in their manpower crunch with regard to service staff.

I think it is time now to invest in other ways of doing business because like it or not, citizens have come to realise that we exist in this world not because of money. Our purpose in life has always been our loved ones, family, and I find it extremely disturbing that people are delaying interaction with their loved ones so that they can earn lots of money, and buy inanimate objects as a form of "love" to their loved ones. Is that the way?

Next is protection of PMETs which I hope the government will seriously look into it. I do not buy into the argument that PMETs do not require protection from the law. Like it or not, market will always try to get away with anything that will help them make more profits. If the law is not there to set the boundary, exploitation of employees, regardless of PMETs or other type of workers will exist.

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