Monday, December 29, 2014

Battle Camp has evolved into a money spinner

I have been playing Battle Camp for some time and sad to say, it has been evolving to a state where money is everything and game play is not important.

Why do I say that? Initially, battle camp was a lot on strategy. How do you combine different elements and different zodiacs to get different attack strategies. The zodiacs are random but pretty much you could get your first super quite easily.

Now? It has evolved tremendously to favour those who spends and to kick out those that don't, judging by the number of mentees (ie low level newbies) who left the game after 1 week of playing.

The facts:
  1. Previously you can pretty much get a Super if you work hard enough at the raids.

    Now, you dont get any supers regardless if it is a normal raid or hall raids.
  2. Previously you are encouraged to get different mobs as the bosses have different elements and attack differently. Different elements may get different reactions so its to your advantage to get different mobs of the same zodiac.

    Now, you have something stupid called TvT which doesnt have any of this abilities and can pretty much let anyone use less effort and get 5x more trophies than hitting the actual boss.
  3. Previously, the chance of you get a pretty decent monster from the spins at the store is quite ok. I got my ultras and epics from there.

    Now, you either get rares or specials.

What happens when you "feedback" to them? For point 2, they say that they will feedback to their team which they basically did nothing. For points 1 and 3, they blame it on chance and there is nothing they could do about it.

Seriously... Chance? Again, the facts. If it is really a game of chance, I won't be seeing the spins dropping at the exact same spot 5 out of 10 times. To me, in technical terms, it looks a lot like something called a weighted chance.

The concept of weighted chance is simple. You assign a certain weightage to all the items so some will get hit more often than others. It doesnt matter how many times you see an item being repeated because the weightage will overwrite it. Therefore personally, to me, the reply they gave is **.

What they can do to fix it? Very simple changes.
  1. Fix the chance issue for the raids and spins and give everyone a fair chance in getting their mobs. Getting the zodiacs aligned is already hard enough. Don't push it.
  2. Fix the TvT by limiting its effectiveness. If you really want the game to be balanced, limit the TvT to 5 energy per hit and boosters have no effect. Otherwise, you will get more trophies hitting just only TvT than hitting the boss. This will also give a fair chance to those who cannot hit the boss to get some trophies.
  3.  Stop changing rules halfway through the game. If you really want to inject an element of uncertainty, just do ONE change and that's it. Don't keep changing it as it gives an impression that you just want people to spend.

Seriously battle camp creators, do you think so many people are spending for the event? Just look at the hacks available for battle camp for Android. Sooner or later, your loyal players will leave.

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

How I respond defines my character

I quote from Walter Anderson:
Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Inflation is down 0.3%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2014:
January: 1.4%
February: 0.4%
March: 1.2%
April: 2.5%
May: 2.7%
June: 1.8% 
July: 1.2%
August: 0.9%
September: 0.6%
October: 0.1%
November: -0.3%

Both Food and Education & Stationery inflation again rose by 2.9% and 2.7% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by an amazing 5.3% in comparison to last month which was more than expected. Housing inflation has also dropped 1.2%. The transport inflation is the only reason why inflation went negative I believe.

Food inflation remained high, with almost all the food prices rising compared to last month. In fact, I believed due to the food inflation, the average inflation seems to be stubbornly stuck to 1.1% even though the transport and housing inflation was going down.

Unless there is a huge downward change in the housing and transport inflation, this year's inflation will most probably not go below 1%.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What is benign dictatorship?

Recently I heard this term "benign dictatorship" and I was wondering what does it mean. Apparently it was mentioned a long time ago about someone talking about the Canadian government. In case you're interested, let me quote from Harper and Flanagan which was back in 2011 if I am not wrong. It is quite self explanatory.
Although we like to think of ourselves as living in a mature democracy, we live, instead, in something little better than a benign dictatorship, not under a strict one-party rule, but under a one-party-plus system beset by the factionalism, regionalism and cronyism that accompany any such system. Our parliamentary government creates a concentrated power structure out of step with other aspects of society. For Canadian democracy to mature, Canadian citizens must face these facts, as citizens in other countries have, and update our political structures to reflect the diverse political aspirations of our diverse communities.


We are conservatives, and it is not our place to speculate at length about what the left could or should do. Yet voters on the left are as much entitled as voters on the right to effective elected representation. Electoral reform might well revive the left. It could, for example, lead to cooperation between the NDP and the left-leaning wing of the Liberals, perhaps producing a national social democratic vehicle with a genuine chance of governing, or at least participating in a coalition cabinet.

Of course, none of this can be foretold in detail; political change always produces unexpected and surprising consequences. But we believe there is good reason to think seriously along these lines. In today's democratic societies, organizations share power. Corporations, churches, universities, hospitals, even public sector bureaucracies make decisions through consultation, committees and consensus-building techniques. Only in politics do we still entrust power to a single faction expected to prevail every time over the opposition by sheer force of numbers. Even more anachronistically, we persist in structuring the governing team like a military regiment under a single commander with almost total power to appoint, discipline and expel subordinates.

Among major democracies, only Great Britain so ruthlessly concentrates power. In the United States, President Clinton cannot govern without making concessions to the Republicans in Congress. In Germany, Chancellor Kohl needs to keep the support not only of the CSU but of the Free Democrats. In France, the presidency and the national assembly are often controlled by different party coalitions. In most of the rest of Europe, proportional representation ensures that coalition governments routinely form cabinets. In Australia, the Liberal prime minister needs the National Party for a majority in the House of Representatives and, often, the support of additional parties to get legislation through the Senate. In New Zealand, which used to have a Canadian-style system of concentrated power, the voters rebelled against alternating Labour party and National party dictatorships: electoral reform now ensures coalition cabinets.

Many of Canada's problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country. The political system still reverberates from shock waves from Pierre Trudeau's imposition of the National Energy Program upon the West and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon Quebec. Modernizing Canadian politics would not only be good for conservatism, it might be the key to Canada's survival as a nation.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How could the rats problem only happened a month ago?

I normally do not take notice of such news but one comment made by the residents there made me sit up and take notice. The resident said that the rats only became a problem one month ago. That's ridiculous.

Rats normally take 20-25 days to give birth to a litter. More than 140 rodents have been caught as of Saturday night, and is still increasing. How could it be that the issue only happened last month?

What does this prove? This has happened for a long time and no one did anything about it. Meanwhile, the focus was only grass cutting and grass growing longer at one side of the road than the other. Isn't that weird?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Life is what you make it

I quote from Marilyn Monroe:
“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you're going to mess up sometimes, it's a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you're going to mess it up. Girls will be your friends - they'll act like it anyway. But just remember, some come, some go. The ones that stay with you through everything - they're your true best friends. Don't let go of them. Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world. As for lovers, well, they'll come and go too. And baby, I hate to say it, most of them - actually pretty much all of them are going to break your heart, but you can't give up because if you give up, you'll never find your soulmate. You'll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything. Just because you fail once, doesn't mean you're gonna fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don't, then who will, sweetie? So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.”

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lightning is the next energy source?

Many many years ago, I have written in a forum about solar panels on HDB rooftops to help power some of the energy used in the daytime. Now that this has come to pass, I have recently thought about another energy source that is untapped... Lightning.

Lightning has the power to spark wildfires and kill, and climate change may lead to 50 per cent more of it by century's end. In Singapore, there are times where we have terrific lightning storms or lightning displays without thunder. Why can't we harness this energy to power our appliances?

Even for solar energy, many are trying to find a way to store the power during the day so that it could be used at night. Why can't the batteries be used to store the electrical charge from lightning so that it could be distributed out?

So now the next step forward is no longer about catching the energy from renewable resources. It's about what do you do with the energy after catching it. Once we crack this code, the energy that we consume can finally be self sustaining.

Don't you think so?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What is Stress?

I quote from Andrew Bernstein:
Stress is a byproduct of subconscious beliefs you have about the world. You can't choose not to believe something. You believe it because you think it's true. To eliminate stress, you must learn to challenge these beliefs so that you see them differently. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

A case of design over function?

Seems a bit too late for commenting on our National Stadium pitch, but all along when I read about the initial problems facing the pitch, only one thought is in my mind. It seems like it is a classic case of design over function.

In my line of work, I have corresponded with some interior designers and I've encountered similar situations. Do note that I'm not sterotyping but I have encountered more than once designers putting design aspects over functional or operational requirements, and giving the standard one liner that technology is so advanced now I'm sure you can resolve it. Seriously... If technology is so advanced right now, I do not need a car to get to work. I could "teleport" to my workplace immediately.

If those people that are in-charge of the operational and functional aspects of the solution did not say their piece, then in the end, they will realise that the designers have "sold" the idea of the "awesome looking" design to the senior management, leaving you to wonder how on earth the thing will work in that design.

The skill of the subject matter expert may be an issue here but seriously, anyone with common sense knows that if real grass is often trampled upon, it will not grow. Look at those soccer fields in schools. Look at those well trampled pathways along fields that are shortcuts to places where people always go. It's everywhere. I'm not sure how on earth they ever thought that grass that is being trampled almost every week will look great for those important events.

Not only that, looking at the design of the stadium, the stadium is not even fully open-air. How could plants grow in that kind of situation? Isn't that Science 101?

I don't need a degree for that. All I need is to apply simple common sense.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Live forward

I quote from Soren Kierkegaard:
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Don't always look backwards in life because your life can only move forward. Therefore, live forward.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Taxi issue is also due to the taxi company

Recently I have realised that the focus has always been on the taxi drivers when we talk about availability of taxis. This to me is weird is because there are always 2 sides of the coin. Why only target the taxi drivers?

Look from the taxi drivers' perspective.
  1. They have to pay rent to the taxi companies.
  2. They have to pay for diesel regardless if they have passengers or not, and 
  3. They are forced to travel at least 250km daily even though Singapore is only even though Singapore is only 50km x 26km. 

Why are the taxi companies not going something about the taxi utilisation? That's because their job is to buy taxis and rent out to taxi drivers. Does it matter to them that they are hogging up the roads with many un-utilised taxis, or the livelihood of the taxi drivers as long as they get their rentals? I do not know.

The drivers should not be the only one penalised for this rule. The taxi companies should be ultimately responsible because the simple fact is that the taxis belong to the company.

If you need more taxis during peak periods, why don't you reduce the rental during that period so that more drivers are willing to drive during those periods?

If you need more taxis to have 2 shift periods, you can also reduce the rental if a taxi is shared by 2 or more drivers so that the taxi becomes well utilised.

All this is possible, but is the taxi company willing to do it? Not likely because it will affect their revenue. Unless... ...

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

Friday, November 28, 2014

Defined by your response to situations

I quote from David Stern:
You will ultimately be defined by the sum total of your responses to circumstances, situations and events that you probably couldn't anticipate and indeed probably couldn't even imagine. So just keep your eyes on the course and be ready to move in different directions depending upon the crises and opportunities with which you are faced. 

You are defined by your responses to situations. That's the fact. If you choose not to act upon it even though you can, you're responsible for your own actions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

inflation is up 0.1%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2014:
January: 1.4%
February: 0.4%
March: 1.2%
April: 2.5%
May: 2.7%
June: 1.8% 
July: 1.2%
August: 0.9%
September: 0.6%
October: 0.1%

Both Food and Education & Stationery inflation again rose by 2.8% and 2.7% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by 0.5% in comparison to last month. Housing inflation has also dropped 1.7%, more than expected.

Food inflation remained high, with all the food prices rising compared to last month. Due to the housing and transport inflation downtrend, the inflation has continued the downward trend. However, due to the high base last year, inflation looks mild.

As previously mentioned, I'm not surprised if the average inflation for 2014 drops below 1% year on year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reason for SGX low volumes

Personally, I think the reason for SGX low volumes is very simple. They seem to be cutting operational costs on things that matter!

Why I say this is very simple. Long long time ago, you're able to bookmark certain counters in SGX if you're interested in it. Then guess what? Instead of encouraging this, SGX banned this by changing their website technology to DHTML, so that you're not able to bookmark the counters.

At that time, I thought it was ridiculous that they did it. When they saw interest in certain behaviour, instead of encouraging the interest, they look at it from the money looking glass and choose to prohibit it, most probably due to the increase of operational cost to cater for the extra load.

So after changing it to DHTML so that we're unable to bookmark the counters, they made another ridiculous very recently. They are redirecting all non-ETF counters details to another page that shows a lot of information, but not the critical information I was looking for, the financial statements/announcements and the relevant links. Now it is very difficult to get financial announcements information and the related attachments. And guess what? ETFs still redirect to the previous link. Why the difference? I've no idea. I've also totally no interest in what they are showing because this doesn't show the full story. The news section also do not show all the announcements related to a counter. The financial results have the details I need. In fact, I rather they change the ETF counters because usually I don't read the ETF details. They went the other way around.

If you track the timing of the low volumes, it's tied to operational changes to their website. The less they invest in their website, the lower their volumes. The volumes are going to get lower because investors are going to be freaking irritated by the ridiculous changes made to SGX. They are removing the accessibility of information that we need.

Sometimes I wonder... Does SGX know exactly what visitors to their website need? They seem to be taking away information that most investors need. Very soon, no one will be investing in any counters in Singapore because it's so &*^@&*@ difficult to get information.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Disable man in the middle attacks on Yosemite

Recently there has been news on man-in-the-middle attacks being used against Linux and Macs because certain settings have been enabled by default. Basically, it uses a protocol called ICMP Redirects to redirect you to a malicious website. Currently, this also affects all Android and iOS devices.

However, you can protect yourself for Yosemite by just running a few simple commands. I have tested this on Yosemite and it works.
  1. Run Terminal
  2. Run the command sudo vi  /etc/sysctl.conf (You can use your favorite editor too)
  3. Type in your current user account password (This is assumed that your account has sudo privileges)
  4. Add in or replace the following lines and save the file:

That's it. The above commands will tell Yosemite to drop all ICMP redirect packets and do not log any redirect packets since you are dropping it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Embrace whatever you encounter

I quote from Rachel Naomi Remen:
Most people have come to prefer certain of life’s experiences and deny and reject others, unaware of the value of the hidden things that may come wrapped in plain and even ugly paper. In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all costs, we may be left without intimacy or compassion; in rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest; in denying our suffering we may never know our strength or our greatness. 

Embrace whatever you encountered because only then, you will know your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can use them to overcome the blockage.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Under Happy?

Usually I do not take much notice of the happiness survey because it doesn't really matter much to me. Only I myself know how happy I am and it doesn't really matter if someone else is happier than me. However, what caught my eye was this word "under happy". What the heck is under happy?

I tried searching high and low for a definition of under happy. I thought it was some new term that i was not aware of. However, that came to naught. I could only draw to one conclusion. It's not valid at all and it is "made up". A person can only be happy or not happy. How can you be in-between?

However, back to the crux of the question. Are we happy? Based on my past experience, unless you have a very understanding boss that knows you have a life outside of work, your work will always seem to be never-ending. Why? Because there is no labour law that governs official working hours for white collar workers. It is assumed we sold our life to the company, and we're paid even less than peanuts for that effort because there is no such thing as overtime pay for white collar workers here.

Recently I have also read an article where the US employees put in 34.6 hours a week on average, up from 34.5 hours in August and the most since May 2008. 34.6 hours??? I have never worked only 34.6 hours a week in my life. My typical work week is between 42-45 hours in my previous job!  There were a number of times I worked more than 50 hours a week straight.

With no law protecting us, we are given loads of work to do with no way of getting additional wages. This will also prevent us from spending time on doing the things we love, be it with family or with your hobby. Without any spare time for ourselves, it's also difficult to come out with any innovative ideas. You're too stressed most of the time!

All this is a chain reaction and seriously, you cannot explain it away just by inventing a new term called "under happy".

Friday, November 14, 2014

Creativity cannot be sustained by approval

I quote from Will Self:
When anyone starts out to do something creative - especially if it seems a little unusual - they seek approval, often from those least inclined to give it. But a creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism - you learn this as you go on. 

Creativity usually require things to be done in a different way. It will not exist if every creative thing we do requires a stamp of approval.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Estimating wealth using GDP is useless

GDP, otherwise known as Gross Domestic Product, reflects the flow of goods and services a nation produces in a single year. It says nothing about wealth of the country and the wealth of the citizens.

How do you estimate wealth then using GDP? I could be buying goods from other countries but reselling it at a lesser profit due to the high rental cost for example. Where is the supposed wealth?

You might not be able to track wealth easily in other countries, but in Singapore, it's a different case altogether. Why? That's because we have something called the CPF.

It's compulsory for companies to contribute to CPF if your earnings are above a set threshold. Using the estimates from the CPF contributions tells more about the wealth of a nation then the supposed GDP that only tells other countries how good your business can flourish in Singapore.

There's a big difference between companies making money versus citizens getting a decent wage. Unless you have strong labour laws which unfortunately we do not have, profits from businesses do not necessary flow down to all. In fact, it may even flow out of Singapore to enrich others.

If GDP must be used, then the wealth of a nation should also be used in conjunction with the gini coefficient and the percentage of millionaires and HNWI in the population. This will also tell you how much of the supposed actual GDP flow down to the citizens.

It's like the US elections. All the economic indicators are very good. Low unemployment rate, high number of jobs created... But why did the incumbent lose the election? Personally, I think the reason is quite simple. The citizens did not see all this happening at ground zero. If everything is really as rosy as painted, I don't see why the citizens are not voting the incumbent party back to power.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Life is about family and friends

I quote from Vanilla Ice:
The most valuable lesson I've ever learned in my life is that life is about family and friends, not about material things or any of that. It's about enjoying your life. If you have no family, no friends to enjoy it with, it don't matter how much you have, how much success you have, how much fame you have, how much money you have, it doesn't matter. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How can power fluctuations cause the entire system to go down?

Seriously, how can a power fluctuation cause the entire system to go down? Usually, there will be facility managers taking care of the data centre. They will do checks on the servers daily, and look at all the indicators, include monitoring all the lifespan of the equipment.

UPS batteries have a fixed life and you will need to replace it at a certain frequency. Was the monitoring being done for the equipment? Was there enough investment in purchasing of good UPS system with regular maintenance being done? UPS does not just fail. Either they bought the "cheapest" or they did not maintain it regularly.

Either case, this seems like again the issue where people at the top don't understand that investments need to be made in IT or such things will definitely happen again. I don't understand why they can spend so much money on marketing where sometimes you cannot even measure the ROI, but refuse to invest in the infrastructure to ensure operations can continue smoothly. Sometimes I think they forget that if the infrastructure is not working, no matter how much marketing you put in, it's of no use because you cannot deliver.

Sadly, this happens almost everywhere.

Monday, November 3, 2014

S.E.A. Aquarium

The Singapore S.E.A. Aquarium™ is home to more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species, across 49 different habitats. The habitats included within the aquarium include the Strait of Karimata & Java Sea, Strait of Malacca & Andaman Sea, Bay of Bengal & Laccadive Sea, Persian Gulf & Arabian Sea, Rea Sea, East Africa and South China Sea. Of course you cannot forget the dolphins and sharks.

Once you enter the aquarium, you will be mesmerized by the scene below.

Yes, you can spend some time here but do not spend too much time. There are more things to see within and you'll spend a lot of time turning left and right, going into all corners of the aquarium. Yes, don't let the size fool you but it is actually quite big.

Below are some of the pictures I took around the area. The aquarium is huge.

Leaving the aquarium will reveal another the big tank which contains many different kinds of sharks. That mark the end of the journey within.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Passion unleashes creativity

I quote from Yo-Yo Ma:
Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks.

Risks and creativity goes hand in hand because to be creative, it means you're doing something that has not been done before. If it has not been done before, there is definitely risks. Therefore, to be creative, you have to be willing to take and accept risks.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Food in Tokyo

Last but not least, I have dedicated my last post for my trip to Tokyo to ... ... food! Yes, lots and lots of food. For this trip, I decided not to scrimp on food and that we should eat some normal Japanese food when we're there instead of sandwiches and stuff. Other than the extravagant dinner and breakfast we had at Yama no Chaya, we ate a mixture of bento and set lunches in restaurants.

One thing I did notice is that the price of food has increased. For a reasonable meal, it will cost about 400 - 500 yen per meal (e.g. Beef bowl rice). Set lunch in restaurants ranges from 1,080 yen (yes, 8% GST) to about 1400 yen per person. Drinks are about 250 - 500 yen.

Anyway, enjoy the photos and that's all the posts I have for my trip to Tokyo. :)

Tengu Soba at Mount Takao. 1,300 yen

Beef rice with eggs and onions at Matsuya. This is the bigger bowl, costing about 680 yen. Smaller bowl costs 420 yen

Red bean Manju! Cannot remember the price. This is from Hakone though.

Seasonal Set Lunch from the Limited Express Romance Car. 1,080 yen if I remember correctly.

The romance car bento! 1,080 yen if I remember correctly.

Romance Car Bento unboxed. There are also noodles inside and some meat underneath.

Beef bento dinner. 500+ yen if I recall correctly.

Pancakes from Eggs n Things cafe. Part of the Omelet set for an additional 400 yen

Today's special omelet from Eggs n Things cafe, with vegetables, mushrooms and sausages. About 1,450 yen.

Eggs Benedict from Eggs n Things cafe. One of the poached eggs was slightly over-cooked but the other is perfectly done. About 1,200 yen.

Shoyu spaghetti from Hoshino's Coffee. This is delicious and its only 880 yen.

Hoshino's Coffee pancake with Maple syrup and it only costs 550 yen!

Close-up of the pancake and this is definitely better than the one in Singapore. It actually tastes more like a pancake than muffin!

Dorayaki from the shop opposite Mitake station.

Nana's Green Tea Salad cum rice lunch set, costing 1,080 yen.

Macaroon from FabCafe

Cafe Mocha from FabCafe. 500+ yen.

Bento Set Lunch from Tokyo Sky Tree. 1,000+ yen.

Bento vegetarian set lunch from Tokyo Sky Tree. 800+ yen.

Sushi offer from Seibu. Only 1,000 yen.

Karrage, dumplings and meatballs from Seibu. Only 400 yen thereabouts

Mushroom soup. I believe it is 200+ yen

Daifuku. Unsure about the pricing.

Close-up of the red bean daifuku.
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