Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I do not like over enhancing the photos

If you have been to the links to my other photo albums, I think you may have realised that the most editing I ever do is to manipulate the raw file. I rarely edit the image further than that for a very simple reason. Over enhancing the images make it look fake.

The purpose of me taking photos is to capture the image that I saw so I can record it physically so I can reference it and recall what happened in the future. If the image looks very fake, its likely that I am unable to remember what happened previously because the image may look nothing like what I have seen at that time.

The other reason is that I usually try to post whatever photos I've taken on the very same day that it happened. I do not wish to spend days or weeks to enhance the photo because if I can get it right initially, its minimal work for me to convert it to the picture format.

Anyway you can take a look at my flickr account to see the photos I've been taking. Most are edited by DPP which is part of the image software provided by the camera manufacturer so that I can manage the raw file. That's all I have and that's all I do.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Sometimes not all comments need to be constructive

Recently I was reading some articles on comments on policies when it suddenly struck me that all comments may not need to be constructive.

Let me explain... The biggest issue with constructive criticism is that you will only know about the problem if the person who know of the problem also thought of a solution. There is a very fundamental issue using that line of reasoning. It means that no one will know of the problem early on. Who knows... Maybe no one will ever know of the problem because no one was able to think of a solution.

If you wish to be proactive and resolve issues before it becomes a big problem, then everyone needs to voice out on the issue at hand. For example, if the policies enacted still do not resolve the issue, then state it and highlight the problems still faced by the residents. Be factual and acknowledge that you have no solution but its the duty of the member of parliament to highlight this issue to everyone.

Who knows... Maybe someone else in the room will have the answer to the problem. However, if no one voices it out, no one will ever know there is an issue. That's the fundamental problem with constructive criticism.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Be responsible for your success and your failure

I quote from Erin Cummings:
At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren't where you want to be, you will always be a failure. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inflation is up 1.8%

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% 

Food and Healthcare rose by 3.2% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down drastically 3.2% in comparison to last month. Clothing & Footwear inflation has also went down by 3%. In fact, in comparison to last month, the inflation largely went down.

Food inflation will most probably remain high, with prepared food prices consistently rising. Transport inflation most probably went down due to the low base because I do not recall the cost of transport going down drastically.

This month is pretty much a month of disaster. I'm not sure how inflation will pan out this month but the inflation should be trending lower, which may mean that the inflation will most probably be tamer than last year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quite impossible to use various security tools software together

I was quite amazed recently when I read an article that talks about using various security tools together. This doesn't make sense from a virus/malware perspective for a very simple reason. It doesn't work together.

First off, anti-virus is definitely a security tool that helps protect servers/desktops/laptops/mobile devices. If anyone is remotely familiar with these tools, they would have understood that you could never install 2 anti-virus software from 2 different vendors into 1 machine. The whole system will freeze because both conflicts with one another, and both are tapping on the same resources, causing the whole system to slow.

The best security for a machine is to lock it down so that only 1 person can access the machine and there is no access to Internet/floppy drives/USB thumbdrives/DVD/CDRom. However, what use is that machine for? Likewise, if you make the machine so busy scanning for xxx number of anti-viruses/malware that you cannot do anything else on that machine, what's the use of getting that machine? You might as well not have it.

Even from a vulnerability security tools perspective, the tools may or may not conflict with one another which may cause false positives. In addition each security tool usually have updated definitions every now and then, which will hopefully catch all the latest intrusion.

All in all, you should not attempt to use different security tools together if you don't understand them. You may render your entire machine useless. One anti-virus or one scanner is usually sufficient. In fact, if you know how to lock down your machine, anti-virus may not even be necessary.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Portfolio concept for unprofitable routes

I am a little irritated recently when I read that some are still talking about profitable/unprofitable transport routes, and that unprofitable routes need to be removed to make the transport system sustainable. I disagree. Profit has to be taken in totality and a portfolio concept should be taken.

For anyone who invests, I believe you understand the portfolio concept, having a mixture of assets/investments to balance out each other in different situations, so as to achieve a target growth.

How can we look at public transport system in terms of selective profitable / unprofitable routes? Does that mean if a certain route is very profitable, we should tax that route higher because taxpayers' monies are being used?

For a public transport system to be efficient, you should never put profit into the equation. That's because the nature of business is to make as much profit as possible. Public transport system is not meant to be wildly profitable, which is why some people are saying why the operators running this system is for-profit.

Instead, you have to look at the whole business in totality. For example, as a result of running the public transport system, they have access to bus terminals or MRT stations which they could use to develop into shops or areas for advertisements. This must be taken into account in the total profit the operator makes because the operator would not have made this profit if they were not given that particular route to run for example.

Looking at the profit generated for a particular route should not even have been considered. If it is, then we must insist that we should tax more for particular routes that are wildly profitable. That's only fair. Taxpayers monies are being used after all.

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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Only predictable quality is being unpredictable

I quote from Taylor Swift:
One element of Madonna's career that really takes center stage is how many times she's reinvented herself. It's easier to stay in one look, one comfort zone, one musical style. It's inspiring to see someone whose only predictable quality is being unpredictable. 

Somehow after reading this quote, it reminds me of Richard Branson.

World should issue travel advisories to Russia and Ukraine

Enough is enough. How long is the world going to sit by doing nothing when anyone can get their hands into equipment that can shoot civilian airplanes out of the sky with ease? Citizens of the world should demand that something needs to be done on this conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The immediate action that needs to be taken should be to issue travel advisories to both Russia and Ukraine to deter travel into the region. This will trigger insurance agents to not provide insurance for any air travel to those 2 countries. This needs to be in place until this stupid situation is resolved.

How many passenger airlines need to be downed before someone does something about this conflict???

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

High retail rental solution

I think all those budding entrepreneurs out there know that there is a big issue in starting a business in Singapore. The high retail rentals kill the business even before they take off. This is akin to teaching a Primary 1 kid calculus and failing the kid at primary 1 even before they have yet to learn algebra.

In the industry sector, there is JTC trying to control the rentals for industrial factories but for retail sector, there is none. However, I do see that HDB can play a role in it but for some reason, they are more concerned on building more HDB flats, and may not know that the areas around the HDB flats can be used for budding retail entrepreneurs.

I remembered back in the old days, the HDB flats always have retail shops below, be it a normal provision shop, coffee shop or hairdresser. Nowadays, all you see is a complicated maze of pillars that do not shelter you much from the rain if you wish to go from block to block, and sometimes you find people sleeping at some of the corners.

This retail space should be revived for the HDB flats because it's an ideal place for a budding retail entrepreneur to kick start their business. You just need a simple business model whereby:
  1. Entrepreneurs with annual revenues of < $100k (e.g.) is eligible
  2. Entrepreneurs bid for the space by promising a fixed percentage of their revenue as rental for a duration of 3 years, renewable yearly depending if the entrepreneur is making full use of the space or is just hogging up the space for some other reason.
  3. Entrepreneurs will pay for the other aspects of the shop space such as power, water, renovation, etc.

This becomes a very good starting ground for retail entrepreneurs to try and kick start their business. They could even bundle in some grants or even providing mentors for such areas. This will also help in the increasing the vibrancy of the housing estates, back to the old days where everyone in the block knows the shop owners downstairs.

Not everything should be measured in dollars and cents. HDB is not using that space optimally anyway. So why can't this model work?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Problem statement is simple. Why is policy complicated?

Recently I read an article that states that policies enacted are difficult to understand because it is complex. I have previously designed and created bespoke ERP solutions and I do not understand how the policy can be so complex that it is difficult to understand.

The reason is very simple. In my opinion, policies are created to solve a problem statement. The problem statement is usually simple. E.g. The lift breakdowns often. Therefore the solution is to ensure someone is able to check that the lift is working and ensure that you have both preventive and correct maintenance process on-hand for all existing and new lifts.

The policy only becomes complicated when you over-think. You go in-depth to see whether if it is the model of the lift that cause the issue, the height of the lift, the environmental factors, etc that cause the issue. However, all this takes time and while you're thinking of all these other factors, the poor residents are suffering elsewhere.

This is where in software engineering terms, we deem it as root cause analysis. This is done separately from resolving the issue because it is recognised that to determine the root cause, you need time. To solve the issue, you may even need more time. All this will be done, but it is taken at a separate timeline.

In this context, it just means that there will be other policies in place to ensure that this maintenance regime does not incur more cost. This will be prioritised among other problems that you may have, and is taken separately.

Policies should not be complicated. Humans make it complicated.

Stupid iOS 7.1.2 battery drain bug

The newest iOS 7.1.2 has an irritating battery drain bug that drains your battery even if it is in airplane mode. There is no way to conserve your battery power at all. It's the first time my battery ran out before evening, and I didn't even receive many calls / messages today. 

It's disappointing that such an obvious bug can fall through the cracks in Apple's quality check. We can't even downgrade the OS to resolve this issue. 

By the way, typing this post costed me 3% of my battery life. Ridiculous. 

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

No one is indispensable but ...

I think all of us have heard this before. No one / employee is indispensable. However, guess what Bill Gates said?

He said that there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.

So based on that paragraph, are you still sure that no one is indispensable? In fact, I felt that paragraph said the complete opposite. 

Do you know how difficult it is to find the right person?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Words are just labels

I quote from Karen Marie Moning:
Words can be twisted into any shape. Promises can be made to lull the heart and seduce the soul. In the final analysis, words mean nothing. They are labels we give things in an effort to wrap our puny little brains around their underlying natures, when ninety-nine percent of the time the totality of the reality is an entirely different beast. The wisest man is the silent one. Examine his actions. Judge him by them. 

Words are just labels to represent what we wish to convey. However, without actions to back it up, they are just merely labels. That's why action speaks louder than words.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Unemployment rate low but labour participation is equally low

Recently the United States have announced a lower than expected unemployment rate. However, they have left one thing unsaid, the labour participation rate. The current labour participation rate as of June 2014 is a low of 62.8%, the lowest on record for the past 10 years.

What does that mean? It just means that there are a whole lot of people who are either of retirement age which I seriously doubt, or they are not included in the unemployment rate because they have stopped looking for work.

The labour participation rate before the recession was 66%. That means that the US unemployment rate is not much better than the period immediately after the Great Recession. Whatever figures that we're looking at right now, is an improvement from previous unemployment rates, but the improvement is only slight. The United States is still trudging along slowly and I don't expect it to have a big improvement soon.

Don't put too much hope into the economy recovering very soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

On hindsight, serving in the army has its usefulness

Recently I was having a discussion on the usefulness of army since almost everyone that I know of want to, in Singapore lingo, siam, the 2 years compulsory national service. Well, obviously I know that feeling because I thought the same myself at that point in time. However, after looking back at my years of compulsory service in the army, including my reservist training, I see the usefulness of this training and its effect on guys.

Well, in summary, I went in a boy, but I came out a man.

You may think that I'm an army spokesperson in disguise getting people to join the army but this is my own personal experience. I was very shy before I went into the army but after undergoing rigorous training in a combat unit, I came out more confident and sure of myself.

The reason is very simple. I reasoned to myself that if I managed to do all those things that I did in the army, why should I be afraid of talking in front of lecture halls or talking to strangers, be it guys or girls?

Believe it or not, it worked, at least for me. I became less conscious of myself and even till now, I don't really get any jitters be it talking to a stranger, or talking to a CEO or my CEO. I just look back at my army days and tell myself, what is that compared to what I did last time? :)

Don't ask me what I did in my army days though. Haha.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pay more to top-up but machine issue not resolved

Starting from July 2014, EZ-Link cardholders now have to pay S$0.20 every time they top up their EZ-Link card at all DBS, OCBC ATMs and AXS stations. This is similar to the EZ-Link reload service. 

Take note for all who top up via the atm machines instead of the ticket machines in the station

Now, when will they start solving the cashless payment issue for the ticket machines? They are always quick to impose charges but slow to fix issues. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happiness determined by our disposition

I quote from Martha Washington:
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Railings to put bags and belongings on buses

Whenever I take the Singapore's bus transport system, I always wonder why the buses are not designed such that it's easier to move in and out of the buses. Whoever who takes the bus will immediately know what is impeding the movement to and fro within the buses. Belongings.

Many of us carry our work bags, be it laptop sling bags, laptop backpacks or just shopping bags. The buses here are already designed in such a manner that the walkway is incredibly narrow. The newer buses are even worse where if you go to the back, it's very difficult to squeeze your way out.

One of the ways that you can redesign the back of the buses is to put railings at the top of the buses so that people can put their belongings on top, thus freeing up space. This is very commonly used in Japan if you've taken their trains. Advertisements are useless on buses because no one ever looks at them within the buses. Just look at all the passengers glued to their phones.

Other ways that you can redesign the buses such that the flow is more smooth:
  1. Move the grab poles to the centre or back of the buses so that people are forced to move in
  2. Ensure that the bus drivers do not drive like daytona and wait for people to move in or move out of the bus
  3. Leave some standing area, hopefully near the doors, so that people can maneuver themselves within the crowded bus.
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