Monday, September 29, 2014

Personal security is usually the problem

Recently there was an iCloud hacking incident where certain individuals' accounts got hacked and certain private information was shared to all. As a result, the immediate "reaction" from some organisations is to ban the device. However, is that the real issue?

Getting access to an account because of easy-to-use credentials does not make a device vulnerable. Any device that is "locked" in such a manner is vulnerable. It doesn't matter if it is an iOS device, an Android device, Microsoft device, Tizen device or a Symbian device. It will not matter.

The real issue is that most people are not treating their online presence seriously. One will take the precautions to install multiple locks in their homes, with a state of the art alarm system, but yet leave their user IDs and passwords lying around, or using easy to guess credentials to their online accounts, which sometimes contain some of their most personal information.

Personal security begins with each individual. If you are putting your credentials online, make sure you are securing it properly. If you do not leave your home door open or your house key hanging outside your house, don't do the same for your online account.

Of course you could always avoid using a smart device like a smart phone or a smart tablet. If you are using these devices, prepare to give some of your personal information away, even your own location at any point in time, because there's ain't no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL).

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Feeling of gratitude

I quote from Albert Schweitzer:
To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Inflation is up 0.9%

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%

Healthcare and Food inflation rose by 3.4% and 2.9% respectively year on year. Transport inflation trend continued from last month, going down by 0.6% in comparison to last month.

Food inflation remained high, with food excluding prepared food prices rising instead compared to last month. Transport inflation also continued the downward trend. Inflation has trended lower as mentioned last month and the trend will most probably reverse next month.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Putting the bag down may not save space

Recently there has been some push on how you can save space in the MRT by moving into the carriage for e.g. However, I disagree with the push on putting the bag down because of a very simple reason. Those people who put down the bags, tend to stay put at that location.

Yes. If you take the MRT very regularly, you'll realised that this is very common. There can be many reasons why they do this but I can hazard some guesses:
  1. After putting the bags down, you do not have space to bend down and shift your bags.
  2. Your bags are too heavy and bulky so it's difficult to move the bags whenever free space is available.
  3. You're too busy with watching that latest Korean drama or that latest candy crush level to move.

So what happens when a person puts down their bags but did not move in when more space is available within the carriage? You block everyone from moving in. In fact, I find that some of them even take up more space by putting down their bags then when they are holding it.

Looking at it from the physics point of view, it also doesn't make sense. The bags are mostly physical objects. Putting your bags do not change the shape, size and volume of the bag. Therefore, you're just shifting that particular volume of space from the back to somewhere else. The space is still being taken. Unless you have some special space in the carriage to put your bags down like the Japananese trains, there is no difference holding your bags or putting your bags down because you're still taking the same amount of space.

If you're holding your bags, you're more mobile and you're able to move in when space is available. Therefore, from a longer term perspective, you actually create more space in the MRT train because of the proactiveness.

The keyword is proactiveness. Putting the bags down actually hinders proactiveness because you're stuck with your bag.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Be Rational

I quote from W. Edwards Deming:
Rational behavior requires theory. Reactive behavior requires only reflex action.

To be reactive is very simple. Something happens, and you immediately do something to plug the gap. However to be rational, you must first assess if the plugging the gap immediately causes any downstream effects to whatever processes you have for your organisation, be it private or public.

In the world that we're living in today, we must try to resolve any issues as fast as possible but sometimes, we need to sit down and think clearly if the issue is a process issue, or a human issue. Are you making things worse by being reactive? Most of the time we are.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Large IT projects fail more often

Very often, the blame has been put onto the IT industry on the failure rate of IT projects within the industry. However, little focus has been put on the complexity of the IT projects that are usually undertaken that caused this failure.

In an industry survey on large government IT projects that I read recently, only 6.4 percent of the IT projects were successful. Most are late, over budget or deficient, or outright failures. Therefore, the question on everyone's mind is why is there such a high failure rate?

The reason is very simple. Technology is always used to change or improve processes. Anything that involves change management has a very high rate of failure because people do not understand that what happens in the manual world cannot be directly translated into the virtual world.

For example, in the manual world, you may be very customer centric and allow a great deal of flexibility in conducting your business. However, you feel that you need to tighten the governance and therefore you wish to build a system to cater for that. What many customers do is to directly convert all the work done in the manual world to the virtual world. That is a recipe for disaster!

If the process is complicated to the human mind, just imagine how the computer will look at it. Yes, the computer can do this complicated process but the question is why must it be done in this manner? If you wish to track the governance or protocols, you'll often realised that certain "flexibility" given are actually directly against what you intend to do.

The good vendors will warn you and attempt to assist you in doing some business process re-engineering to streamline your process. However if your vendor is not well versed in your domain or they have a communication issue internally due to the size of the project, then you'll be in big trouble.

To reduce the risk of projects failing is actually quite simple. Make your projects smaller and leaner, and know exactly what you wish to achieve for each project/phase.

If your sales personnel have trouble closing multi-million/billion dollar contracts every year, what makes you think you can do the same for IT projects in 6 months? Doesn't make sense right?

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to download the free U2 Album in iTunes

For those who are figuring out how to download the free U2 album in iTunes that was released when the iPhone 6 and 6 plus were released, just follow the following steps:
  1. Launch iTunes
  2. Go to iTunes Home Page by clicking on the Home icon
  3. Go to the bottom of the page. Under the Features section, click on Purchased
  4. You should see the U2 album in that section. Mouse over the U2 album and click on the cloud icon on the top right hand side.

It will automatically start downloading the free U2 album to your local iTunes. That's it. I had some trouble downloading it because it was registered as a Purchased item but it's not clear on how to download or listen to the album.

Hope this helps...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Take Responsibility for your life

I quote from Eckhart Toll:
Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.  
Choose your option and go for it wholeheartedly.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Passion is important!

Recently one of the ministers remarked that young people should do something that is practical and leads to a decent job. Interests can be pursued as a passion rather than a career. Maybe I'm not in the same generation but I totally disagree with that.

I believe that people with passion can change whoever they are in contact with. If you are truly passionate about something and choose it as a career, the journey will be hard but it will be rewarding. You will end up excelling in what you're doing and people will start to appreciate your efforts and your determination in honing your passion.

However, do not mistake passion with likes. They are very different.

Personally, I just use one simple rule to determine if you like something, or you're passionate about something. Will you forgo your sleep just to ensure that what you're doing is done perfectly? If the answer is no, then you're not passionate about it. Plain and simple.

If you are truly passionate about something, you will take all effort to perfect what you're doing. Yes, you may not have the necessary skills to set up a business and do the marketing but you need not do everything yourself.

All the innovative and creative products in the world came as a result of passion, not as a result of people throwing money around. If Singapore wants to encourage innovation and creativity, then we must be given the avenue to pursue our passion.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Poem on anxieties

Jackie's poem

From my bed where I lay
Thinking life was over
From the thoughts that came my way
Believing life was over
What demon had taken me
From a girl who loved life
To this empty shell
A scared, broken, mother and wife
Lying in silence
Watching and waiting
For the voices I thought
Would start in my head
Listening and waiting
Driving myself crazy
Oh God, no this is it
What is my mind creating?
I am now dead, I was inside
Nothing was real
Nothing felt mine
Numb without tears
Lifeless and fears
No love to give.
STOP this ringing in my ears
So fast came strange feelings
Terrifying panic
Is the sky falling down
This really is manic
Don’t want to be alone
I want to be alone
I’m feeling so so tragic
What must I do
What must I make happen
Searching for answers
So I can map them
Reasons for me
To know why I’m feeling
As weird as can be
This can’t just happen?
A racing mind, full
Of what ifs and maybes
This is too much
I must surely be crazy
My head is so full
So heavy and thick
My stomach, it churns cartwheels
I feel so so sick
Truth told, there really
Are no answers
You are here now
You have to be with your monsters
You have to go through
You will find your way
The best way out is through
At the end of the day
I thought I was crazy
Going mad, felt so unreal
These feelings I’ve met with
I can reveal
Will trick you and turn you
Until you think life has gone
But I want you to know that you can move on

Little by little
Day by day
To bring you through
Do it anyway
That dreaded task
You just cannot do
Leads to another
Through and through
You just cannot do
So on, brave heart
A little at a time
And you will see that
You really can shine
It will take time
Step by step
Hour by hour
You will see yourself begin to flower
To face your fears
To go it alone
To see yourself through
Into the great unknown
That slight turn of thinking
No matter how small
Will lead you to greatness
No time left to mourn
To take that first step
For what you must do
Is believe in yourself
You really will come through
Your head hurts like hell
It’s swimming and giddy
Your eyes are all blurry
Shocks through your body
No one will know
It is what you’re going through
They’re not to know
No one will know
Unless they too, have been through
A day, you feel fine
Oh great this has gone
To be awoken next morn
To find, back it has come
A good day turns to two
And then to a few
And bang here it comes
Hits you out of the blue
Never lost heart
This is what must happen
To find inner peace, to grow and to strengthen
We’ll learn from these times
Hey, I felt so good then
So I know that I will
Find peace and happiness again
So your will grows stronger
A little day by day
You keep moving forward
It has to be this way
For now at least
Feelings come and go
They won’t last forever
I want you to know
Those days will serve me
I’ll never forget
How bad things were
But you know, I’ll never regret
What happened to me
What’s happening to you
May feel like it just came out of the blue
But when you recover, you truly will see
What lead you to this great anxiety
You’ll know and you’ll see
Believe me
Now on with my life
I am now going forward
But how grateful am I
That I had fallen
I truly believe, sometimes we have to break
So we can fix ourselves up
with knowledge, understanding – How Brave!
So if you’re feeling right now
How I did back then
I give you my heart
And again and again
Will say to you onward
To take the first step
Nothing will harm you, there’ll be no regret
You will be so glad that you kept
Trying and trying
And one of these days
Your heart will start flying
You will say to yourself
I’m glad I never gave in
I did what I feared
Again and again

So on, brave light
And be on your way
To do what you must
Day by day
The glimmer of hope
You see shining anew
You know you can do this
From one who came through

Monday, September 1, 2014

E-cigarettes are still cigarettes but ...

Recently there has been news on the emergence of e-cigarettes and how it is less toxic than actual cigarettes. According to experts such as Professor Ann McNeill, it is actually true.

It seems like if you compare the e-cigarettes to normal cigarettes, it is a fact that e-cigarettes vapourised emissions are less harmful than the normal e-cigarettes. If you look at it from the point of view of innocent bystanders, I believe most would rather the smokers go for e-cigarettes than normal cigarettes, subjected to the same restrictions as normal cigarettes.

How to encourage e-cigarettes than normal cigarettes than? Well, I believe it can be controlled by taxes. Tax e-cigarettes less than normal cigarettes or raise the latter. Whether or not e-cigarettes help in getting people quit is secondary.

I believe it's time to put the innocent bystanders as priority. Second-hand smoke is killing others through no fault of their own. It's time to reduce this risk and this is the first step to it. After all, cigarettes, "e" or not, are harmful. That's also a fact.

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