Saturday, May 31, 2008

Market Roundup 26-30 May 08

For the whole week, STI ended on higher grounds up an approximately 2% due to cooling crude oil prices and better than expected US Q1 GDP data. However, overall trade volume on Singapore Stock Exchange is still quite low.

We experienced weaker performance in the beginning of the week after Singapore and US reported dismal reports. The Singapore's EDB (Economic Development Board) reported a 26% decline month-on-month manufacturing output for the month of April 2008. If you are interested in the details, you may read this. US home prices continued to fall logging a record y-o-y (year-on-year) drop of 26%. US consumer confidence hit a 16 year low and this is certainly not good news. Financial big boys like Goldman Sachs Group, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Morgan Stanley earning estimates were all being slashed by analysts. US personal spending slowed in April due to inflation and fuel costs, a slump in home values and the ever deteoriating job market. There was a 4000 increase in first time jobless claims.

Bad news aside, we do have encouraging news. US durable goods for the month of April reported stronger than expected. US Q1 (first-quarter) GDP increased at 0.9% which exceed market expectations. This suggested a recession in US can be avoided. US ended almost flat down 0.06%.

Market Outlook

As usual, inflation remains most crucial and is likely to contribute largely to global markets sentiments. If you watched Friday's evening news on TV, inflation related news seem to flood the business segment. Even the former US Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, mentioned inflation is a greater threat than speculative bubbles. We are not sure when will profit taking on oil stop but one likely scenario is oil prices is to likely to go up after the Goldman Sachs Group (GS) predicted a possibility of US$200 crude oil per barrel. This sounds rather scary and I cannot imagine how many street protests will there be. There are already many protests going on in the world even with US$130 crude oil.

The China market is also not doing very well either. A series of natural disasters have added onto the already many problems caused by inflation. The Chinese goverment has just announced a regulatory measure on their telecom (mobile) market to help smaller players. This resulted in China Mobile (largest mobile operator in China) share values to plunge 8%. Many fund managers have seen China Mobile as a defensive stock and I believe many funds that have investments on China are likely to have the stock as their top 10 holdings. These funds should be affected. I am not saying the move by the Chinese goverment is bad but at least, it is going have an impact in the short to mid term.

Vietnam is also not doing very well. Reports show Vietnam is heading towards a currency crisis similar to that of Thailand's baht in 1997. In 1997, we experienced the Asian Financial Crisis. These reports can get quite scary if you were to read them. If you are interested, you may read the report here.

Creating Contact Us Form Using Google Docs


The above video illustrates step-by-step instructions on how to create a simple Contact Us like form and host it online using Google Docs.

The Internet is Killing You - Making Us Narrow Minded

We are becoming a nation of narrow thinkers, thanks to the Internet, newspapers, and schools. Is the Internet killing you?

http://zdpub.vo.llnwd.net/o2/ziffdavisplayer/flvplayer2.html?show=PCMAG&movie=241

What is pwdump?

pwdump is the name of various Windows programs that output the LM and NTLM password hashes of local user accounts from the Security Account Manager (SAM). In order to work, it must be run under an Administrator account, or be able to access an Administrator account on the computer where the hashes are to be dumped; so pwdump does not compromise security.

Please note that you will require pwdump when using Ophcrack - a tool to crack Windows passwords.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwdump

Friday, May 30, 2008

Equitable Life VS NTUC Income

The near-collapse of Equitable Life shocked not just the firm's policy holders, but the whole life insurance industry. Now the report of Lord Penrose has laid open what went wrong. Equitable Life was promising its policyholders more money than it actually had for more than a decade, according to one of the most striking findings in the Penrose report.

Where Equitable Life went wrong?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3547441.stm

NTUC Income is not like Equitable Life
http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/ntuc-income-is-not-like-equitable-life.html

Ophcrack - Crack Windows Password Easily

Ophcrack is a free Windows password cracker based on rainbow tables. It is a very efficient implementation of rainbow tables done by the inventors of the method. It comes with a Graphical User Interface and runs on multiple platforms.

I would say this is extremely useful when taking over a second hand computer.

http://ophcrack.sourceforge.net/

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Google Earth Goes Browser

Google Earth, not only can be run as an application, it now can even run on a browser. To do that, you will need to install Google Earth Browser Plugin. According to this article, this plugin will consume up to 100MB of your RAM! This sounds rather unacceptable.


Google Earth API
http://code.google.com/apis/earth/

Find Out What Fonts An Image Is Using

Ever wanted to find a font just like the one used by certain publications, corporations, or ad campaigns? Well now you can, using WhatTheFont font recognition system. Upload a scanned image of the font and instantly find the closest matches in their database.

http://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

Adobe Flash Player Prone to Remote Code-Execution Vulnerability

Adobe Flash Player is prone to a remote code-execution vulnerability. A hacker can exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code. Failed exploitations can result in denial-of-service conditions. Adobe Flash Player 9.0.115.0 and 9.0.124.0 are known to be affected. Other versions may also be affected.

To find out the what version of Flash you are running, click here.

To disable or re-enable Flash in Internet Explorer, follow below's registry tweaks by F-Secure.
http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/Disable_Flash_IE.reg
http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/Enable_Flash_IE.reg

Report from PC Magazine
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2310320,00.asp

Vietnam - Heading for Currency Crisis?

According to Bloomberg, Vietnam is heading for a "currency crisis'' similar to that of Thailand's baht in 1997, because the central bank has kept the dong too strong as inflation soars and the trade deficit widens. If that is the case, are we heading for another crisis besides the current subprime problems?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aTsaEi_5ljqk&refer=asia

IE7Pro - The Ultimate Add-On for Internet Explorer 7.0

IE7Pro is a must have add-on for Internet Explorer, which includes a lot of features and tweaks to make your IE friendlier, more useful, secure and customizable. IE7Pro includes Tabbed Browsing Management, Spell Check, Inline Search, Super Drag Drop, Crash Recovery, Proxy Switcher, Mouse Gesture, Tab History Browser, Web Accelerator, User Agent Switcher, Webpage Capturer, AD Blocker, Flash Block, Greasemonkey like User Scripts platform, User Plug-ins, MiniDM, Google sponsored search,IE Faster and many more power packed features. You can customize not just Internet Explorer, but even your favorite website according to your need and taste using IE7Pro.

http://www.ie7pro.com/

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Collective Protest on NTUC Income Recent Bonus Cut Called Off

According to insurance veteran, Mr Tan Kin Lian, the collective protest on NTUC Income recent bonus cut is called off for the time being. This is after a meeting between Mr Tan and the current management. The current management has assured the best interest of policyholders and reputation of NTUC Income. Hopefully, a win-win solution will be drafted out very soon.

http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-set-aside-for-time.html

Read my previous post for details on the bonus cut
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/04/ntuc-income-annual-bonus-cut-is-it-fair.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/04/ntuc-income-annual-bonus-cut-but-up.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-against-ntuc-income.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/is-ntuc-income-spending-millions.html

Tiger Airways to charge for all checked-in baggage after May 29

Low-cost carrier Tiger Airways will begin charging for all checked-in baggage for bookings made after May 29. Those who booked before that date will continue to enjoy 15 kilogrammes free baggage allowance.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/350505/1/.html

With this unwelcoming arrangement, I expect their passenger capacity to fall. Among all of the budget airlines in Singapore, I hear incidents of flight delays from Tiger Airways most. This is just going to make them more unpopular. There are more than 1 budget airlines in Singapore.

Last Thing You Don't Wish On Space - Toilet Malfunction

When we think of space and astronauts, this is probably not one of the first things that come to our mind; however, urinating in space is trickier than some think, and a broken space toilet is just something you don’t want to hear of when in outer space.

http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_ISS_Crew_Faces_Major_Toilet_Malfunction_18172.html

Google Code AJAX Libraries - Hosting Most Popular JavaScript Libraries for You

What is the AJAX Libraries API?

The AJAX Libraries API is a content distribution network and loading architecture for the most popular open source JavaScript libraries. By using the Google AJAX API Loader's google.load() method, your application has high speed, globaly available access to a growing list of the most popular JavaScript open source libraries including:
Google works directly with the key stake holders for each library effort and accept the latest stable versions as they are released. Once we host a release of a given library, we are committed to hosting that release indefinitely.

The AJAX Libraries API takes the pain out of developing mashups in JavaScript while using a collection of libraries. We take the pain out of hosting the libraries, correctly setting cache headers, staying up to date with the most recent bug fixes, etc.

jQuery
http://jquery.com/

prototype
http://www.prototypejs.org/

script.aculo.us
http://script.aculo.us/

mootools
http://mootools.net/

dojo
http://dojotoolkit.org/

Windows 7.0 to be Launched in Jan 2010

The new Windows 7 will include multitouch interface support that accepts multiple, simultaneous touches like Surface does.

Windows 7 in 2010, Microsoft Mum on Details
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2309719,00.asp

Windows 7 to Include Multitouch Features
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2309800,00.asp

Microsoft Surface
http://www.microsoft.com/surface/

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Facebook to Open Source Facebook Platform for OpenSocial

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will turn the year-old Facebook Platform into an open source project, multiple sources have told us. The immediate effect will be to allow any social network to become Facebook Platform compatible - meaning application developers can easily take their Facebook applications and have them run on those social networks, too. It makes sense to do it now: the Facebook Platform just hit its one-year anniversary, and while it remains extraordinarily popular, developers have found an alternative in OpenSocial. Created by Google and then spun off into a nonprofit organization, OpenSocial is an open-source developer standard that any participating social site can use. Most of the big players in the scene, including MySpace, LinkedIn, and Google's Orkut, are on board--but not Facebook.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/26/facebook-to-open-source-facebook-platform/
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-9952311-36.html

How to Protect a Stolen Mobile Phone

wikiHow has come out with an article on how to protect a stolen mobile phone. I thought it is rather interesting but I doubt many will apply them anyway and I am definitely not the type who will apply them myself.

http://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-Stolen-Mobile-Phone

George Soros Says Rocketing Oil Prices is a Bubble


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/05/26/cnsoros126.xml

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Great Singapore Sale 2008 (23 May - 20 July)

SMRT Train Fare Structure - Leaves Me Puzzled

Dear Person-In-Charge,

I am writing for justifications on how SMRT calculates train fares. Personally, I am puzzled on what formula SMRT uses because I am not able to accept how SMRT charges commuters. In the below examples, I shall assume adult fare price using ezLink card.

Scenario 1 : MRT to MRT

Journey 1 : Ang Mo Kio - Buona Vista

Using route Ang Mo Kio -> Jurong East -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 16 stops.
Using route Ang Mo Kio -> Raffles Place -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 17 stops.

Summary: 16/17 stops = $1.44

Journey 2 : Ang Mo Kio - Admiralty

Using the only one possible route Ang Mo Kio -> Admiralty, there are a total of 5 stops.

Summary: 5 stops = $1.33

Journey 3 : Admiralty - Buona Vista

Using route Admiralty -> Jurong East -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 11 stops.
Using route Admiralty -> Raffles Place -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 22 stops.

Summary: 11/22 stops = $1.55

Questions

1. Why Journey 2 of only 5 stops cost almost the same as Journey 1 of 16/17 stops?

2. Why Journey 3 of 11/22 stops cost the most? Is SMRT fare formula using 11 or 22 stops for this case?


Scenario 2 : MRT to LRT

Journey 1 : Choa Chu Kang - South View

Using the only one possible route Choa Chu Kang - South View, there are only 1 stop.

Summary: 1 stop = $0.66

Journey 2 : Bukit Gombak - South View

Using the only one possible route Bukit Gombak - South View, there are a total of 2 stops.

Summary: 2 stops = $1.19

Journey 3 : Bukit Batok - South View

Using the only one possible route Bukit Batok - South View, there are a total of 3 stops.

Summary: 3 stops = $1.19

Questions

1. Why the more than 80% jump in cost between Journey 1 and Journey 2 given only 1 stop difference?

2. Why Journey 2 and Journey 3 are of the same cost despite Journey 3 has got an extra stop? How do you explain this inconsistency in SMRT fare calculation?


I seek a detailed explanation and fare guidelines on how SMRT does its calculation. I can be contacted at XXXXXXXX or by this email XXX@XXX.XXX


Regards
Loh Hon Chun
+65 XXXXXXXX
XXX@XXX.XXX

Photos of Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip

Regine at foot of mountain


Myself at foot of mountain


Myself on the way up


Myself half way up (cold, very windy, rainy)


Regine half way up (cold, very windy, rainy)


On the way down


Back at foot of mountain

Unit Testing Transact-SQL Code

Alex Kuznetsov, a SQL Server MVP, has written articles on how to perform unit testing on Transact-SQL. Read the below articles in sequence.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

TinEye - Image Search Engine

What is TinEye?

TinEye is a brand new image identification-based search engine currently in private beta. To be able to use and try out their service, you will need to request for an invitation. I have personally got an invitation and have tried their service. I just uploaded an image that has a portion of it showing picture of Earth and amazingly, TinEye pointed me 2 search results that made me wonder if the image I have got was from one of the 2 results. Could TinEye one day be used to check for copyright and plagiarism?

What does TinEye do?

TinEye does for images what Google does for text. Give it an image, and it shows you where else that image appears on the web!


TinEye
http://tineye.com/

Request for an invite
http://tineye.com/request_invite

Friday, May 23, 2008

ICJ Awards Pedra Branca Sovereignty to Singapore

International Court of Justice has just awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore while the Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Pedra Branca is an island that sits at the eastern entrance of the Straits of Singapore. It lies about 24 nautical miles to the east of Singapore. Its location has long been of strategic importance to us as it commands the entire eastern approach to the Straits of Singapore, through which almost 900 ships pass daily.

Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore)
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&code=masi&case=130&k=2b

Pedra Branca, South China Sea
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_Branca%2C_South_China_Sea

Singapore Inflation at 7.5% for April 2008

Inflation in Singapore for the month of April 2008 hits 7.5%, a 26 year high. Food, housing, transportation and communication contribute most to the increase in inflation. Whatever goes up will not go down for this case. I believe prices will remain unchanged for cooked food even if prices ease. When do you see price of chicken rice ever goes down?

Singapore inflation rate hits new 26-year high of 7.5% in April
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/349581/1/.html

Singapore Consumer Price Index (With details broken down)
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080523997.pdf

Thursday, May 22, 2008

OCBC and StandChart Emerge Winners to Take Care of Children Development Accounts

Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has appointed OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank as the two banks to host Children Development Accounts (CDA). Existing CDAs will be transferred from DBS Bank to one of the 2 newly appointed banks by parents. This is a very lucrative new business for OCBC and StandChart and it totals up to $400 million. It seems DBS is going to lose $400 million deposit.

Started by the government in 2001 to encourage couples to have children, the baby bonus scheme has two components: an outright cash gift and matching contributions to the CDA. For the third and fourth child, the total bonus from the government can go up to a maximum of $18,000.

Parents to choose OCBC or StandChart by 30 June 2008
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080521995.pdf

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The DBA Daily Checklist

Simple-Talk has compiled a checklist for DBA. They are as below:
  • Connectivity: Make sure each database is available and accessible both by logging in via user applications, as well as running test scripts.
  • Backups: Check database and log backups, archiving and offsite storage.
  • Events: check all database logs, application logs and system logs, Agent history, device logs, NIC logs etc. Investigate any job failures
  • Processes: Check that all required processes on the server are running, including Replication
  • Integrity: Perform all database and server integrity checks; look for objects that break rules
  • Indexes: Check on indexes to see if they are being used, need re-creating, or if any are missing
  • Volumetrics: Check resources on the server such as files sizes and disk space, and monitor growth
  • Performance: Check application performance, and performance statistics, using the Perfmon tool; research and resolve any issues.
  • Procedures: Check all Disaster Recovery Plans
  • Security: Look for security policy violations
http://www.simple-talk.com/community/blogs/tony_davis/archive/2008/05/13/52769.aspx

Back from Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip

I am back from Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip. The climb up Mt KK was memorable and definitely refreshing compared to my army days. I shall post some of the photo taken once I got hold of them. I will pen some of the moments here when I got the time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Poor Service Encountered at Army Market

I went to the army market this evening for Cargo Net. There was this particular shop owner who really annoyed me.

I asked for a cargo net and the rude uncle replied yes he had got stock. I requested to have a look but he said it was those standard type of cargo net and insisted on not showing me. He even questioned me I should know how it looked like if I had been to the army. Yes I did know how it looked like and I even once owned one myself. However, couldn't I have a look first? I even argued that if he really wanted to make a business, he should leave his arse off the chair and show it to me.

In the end, I walked away and bought it from another stall. There're so many alternatives around.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

At Johor Bahru City Square McDonalds

It seems McDonalds offers free WiFi in Malaysia as well. McDonalds offered free WiFi in Singapore but stopped after Singapore launched the free Wireless@SG programme islandwide.

Is McDonalds offering free WiFi in other countries as well?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Standalone Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Image for Download

To update Windows XP to Service Pack 3 (SP3), one can do it using Windows Update. However, you will not be able to keep the download for future installation should you need it. You end up having to re-download using Windows Update again. Furthermore, you risk getting the download interrupted should network is unreliable.

There is a better method and is definitely recommended. It is recommended to download SP3 images and burn them onto disc so you will never have to re-download them again. You can even use a 3rd party download manager to resume / pause download. This is extremely helpful for huge files.

You can find Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) download list in several languages from the below link.
http://www.ghacks.net/2008/05/07/standalone-windows-xp-sp3-download-list/

Is NTUC Income Spending $2,000 Per Chair True?

A comment posted on a blog reveals the chairs in the board rooms (beside the CEO’s room) cost an unbelievable $2,000 each. There are a total of 20 such "gold" chairs and so this makes it a total of $40,000 just for chairs alone.

If the comment posted is true, then I wonder if it is necessary. In my opinion, the account books of NTUC Income should be audited by an independent auditor and made known to the public.

The comment I mentioned
http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-action.html?showComment=1210258260000#c6281288562425041307

Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited Buy ST Engineering Shares

According to Singapore Exchange, Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited has bought ST Engineering Shares. ST Engineering shares is in a downtrend in line with the recent financial market's sentiments. Aberdeen is known for their strategy in buying value stocks at cheap price and this move just shows ST Engineering is now value for money.

Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited Buy ST Engineering Shares
http://info.sgx.com/webcorannc.nsf/0357d11048060bb84825735f0028e25b/eb45ba8c699bd7774825744200260a2a?OpenDocument

Puppy Linux - OS for Flash Drive at Less Than 100MB

Review on Puppy Linux 4.0
http://www.downloadsquad.com/2008/05/05/puppy-linux-4-0-released-linux-for-your-flash-drive/

Puppy Linux 4.0 Home
http://puppylinux.com/blog/?viewDetailed=00076

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is NTUC Income Spending Millions Extravagantly?

Is NTUC Income spending millions extravagantly on renovations, meeting room venues, retreats, etc at the expense of policyholders? All these changes are initiated after the departure of former CEO, Mr Tan Kin Lian. Despite a high investment yield in year 2007, annual bonuses are cut. Is this right for a co-operative to do that?

NTUC Income management will have a busy evening in their upcoming 30th May 2008 AGM.

I quote a comment posted on http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/05/05/former-ceo-of-ntuc-income-calls-for-collective-protest/#comment-27589

"hi there, i was an Ex-Employee.

To tell u the truth, i have seen such extravagrant spending by the management.

The meeting rooms are all renovated to look like lounges. The CEO’s room is the most impressive. If u dun believe me, do go there and check it out. It’s on the 6th floor of Income Centre.
The lobby of the 6th floor looks more like a hotel lobby than an office.

Meetings that were previously held at Kreta Ayer during Mr Tan Kin Lian’s era is no longer happening.

Meetings are now held at the posh Ritz Carlton, Suntec City, Esplanade, Swissotel Stamford to name a few.

Management retreats previously held inhouse are now held at posh locations throughout the island.

I dun see the reason why they need to spend such unnecessary money on all these. It could be better save and distributed to us as bonus.

Even when the economy was doing so well last year, our employee’s bonus was cut from 2 months to 1.81 months.

So it is not just policyholders who get the bonus cuts. Employees too. I think probably the senior management will get the fattest bonus.

The new CEO should declare how much all the senior management personel get for their bonuses. Are you guys aware that most of the senior management people now are from Prudential?? The new CEO has replaced practically most of the general managers with people from his ex-company.

This is totally unfair. Impressive investment earnings but bonuses cut????

I was disgruntled with the new management. That was why i left.
In the past, this was never the case. Under Mr Tan KL, our bonus every year is still 2 months.

Even during the economic crisis, though our bonuses are cut, we are still getting some unlike other companies with retrenchments.

Mr Tan KL is a very compassionate person. Even though he is strict with us, ultimately it is for the benefit of all policyholders and employees.

I still remember when the CPF rate was cut. Mr Tan introduced the 1month leave for employees with 3 years of service. This was such a wonderful benefit. However, since the new CEO has assumed his post, this benefits have been removed with many other good benefits too.

The new management is spending money like nobody’s biz. It is as though it was like the NKF case.

[Comments deleted by TOC moderator.]

Are you aware that the renovation cost of the NTUC Income centre cost more than the $3m bucks mentioned? They should be open with all these transactions.

Also are you aware that NTUC Income paid for all the new CEO insurance plans premiums amounting to more than $50k each year.

Are you guys also aware that the marketing agencies that NTUC Income engage cost more than $2m per annum?

Are you people also aware that the Ho Chi Min tour for the agents cost more than $1m of policyholders money?

Since the AGM is coming, why dont someone just bring these issues up to the Board of Directors??

We really need to stop the unnecessary spending for the sake of all policyholders.

TOC moderator’s note: Dear Lim, your comments are edited to disallow personal information which you posted.
"

Above comments are extracted from http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/05/05/former-ceo-of-ntuc-income-calls-for-collective-protest/#comment-27589

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Available for Download from Windows Update

Finally, Microsoft has made Windows Service Pack 3 (SP3) available for download via Windows Update (Web).

Service Pack 3 will contain all previously released Windows XP updates, including security updates, out-of-band releases, and hotfixes. SP3 will also feature four Vista features.
  • Network Access Protection (NAP) is a policy enforcement platform meant for enterprise use that blocks systems attempting to access a network until they meet whatever security criteria the corporation has in place.
    "Black Hole" Router Detection helps detect and protect end users from a router that drops packets without returning the specified Internet Control Message Protocol response.

  • Microsoft Kernel Cryptographic Module incorporates cryptographic algorithms in a single module other kernel mode drivers are capable of hooking into and accessing.

  • The new Product Activation module allows users to install XP without entering a product key at installation.
    Article from ars technica
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080429-microsoft-releases-the-long-anticipated-windows-xp-sp3.html

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Overview (in pdf)
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=68c48dad-bc34-40be-8d85-6bb4f56f5110&displaylang=en#filelist

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Deepest Condolences to Victims Affected by Myanmar Cyclone

Millions become victims of the recent cyclone that hit Myanmar. Myanmar is already one of the poorest country in the world and yet now they are enduring this kind of ordeal.

They need emergency aid. I hope international and regional aid will reach them quick. The current military ruler must also give it all they can including monetary assistance.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Collective Protest Against NTUC Income Recent Arbitrary Annual Bonus Cut

If you are unhappy with the recent NTUC Income arbitrary cut in annual bonus, you can take part in a Collective Protest against this action.

Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income, has drafted out a petition letter for this protest. You may visit his blog for more details on how to go about doing this. Just take note that the petition letter is to reach Mr Tan for consolidation by 25th May to make it in time for NTUC Income AGM which is to be held on 30th May 2008. The more signatures collected, the better it is.

This is not a movement. I call this freedom of expression on our disagreement. Ask before you take our money. This is very basic.

Details on the Collective Protest
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/collectiveprotest.html

Microsoft Withdraws Proposal to Acquire Yahoo!

From Microsoft's press release, Microsoft has decided not to go ahead with acquiring Yahoo!. I quote the letter by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, to Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo!.

*****************

May 3, 2008

Mr. Jerry Yang
CEO and Chief Yahoo
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089


Dear Jerry:

After over three months, we have reached the conclusion of the process regarding a possible combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!.

I first want to convey my personal thanks to you, your management team, and Yahoo!’s Board of Directors for your consideration of our proposal. I appreciate the time and attention all of you have given to this matter, and I especially appreciate the time that you have invested personally. I feel that our discussions this week have been particularly useful, providing me for the first time with real clarity on what is and is not possible.

I am disappointed that Yahoo! has not moved towards accepting our offer. I first called you with our offer on January 31 because I believed that a combination of our two companies would have created real value for our respective shareholders and would have provided consumers, publishers, and advertisers with greater innovation and choice in the marketplace. Our decision to offer a 62 percent premium at that time reflected the strength of these convictions.

In our conversations this week, we conveyed our willingness to raise our offer to $33.00 per share, reflecting again our belief in this collective opportunity. This increase would have added approximately another $5 billion of value to your shareholders, compared to the current value of our initial offer. It also would have reflected a premium of over 70 percent compared to the price at which your stock closed on January 31. Yet it has proven insufficient, as your final position insisted on Microsoft paying yet another $5 billion or more, or at least another $4 per share above our $33.00 offer.

Also, after giving this week’s conversations further thought, it is clear to me that it is not sensible for Microsoft to take our offer directly to your shareholders. This approach would necessarily involve a protracted proxy contest and eventually an exchange offer. Our discussions with you have led us to conclude that, in the interim, you would take steps that would make Yahoo! undesirable as an acquisition for Microsoft.

We regard with particular concern your apparent planning to respond to a “hostile” bid by pursuing a new arrangement that would involve or lead to the outsourcing to Google of key paid Internet search terms offered by Yahoo! today. In our view, such an arrangement with the dominant search provider would make an acquisition of Yahoo! undesirable to us for a number of reasons:

  • First, it would fundamentally undermine Yahoo!’s own strategy and long-term viability by encouraging advertisers to use Google as opposed to your Panama paid search system. This would also fragment your search advertising and display advertising strategies and the ecosystem surrounding them. This would undermine the reliance on your display advertising business to fuel future growth.
  • Given this, it would impair Yahoo’s ability to retain the talented engineers working on advertising systems that are important to our interest in a combination of our companies.
  • In addition, it would raise a host of regulatory and legal problems that no acquirer, including Microsoft, would want to inherit. Among other things, this would consolidate market share with the already-dominant paid search provider in a manner that would reduce competition and choice in the marketplace.
  • This would also effectively enable Google to set the prices for key search terms on both their and your search platforms and, in the process, raise prices charged to advertisers on Yahoo. In addition to whatever resulting legal problems, this seems unwise from a business perspective unless in fact one simply wishes to use this as a vehicle to exit the paid search business in favor of Google.
  • It could foreclose any chance of a combination with any other search provider that is not already relying on Google’s search services.
Accordingly, your apparent plan to pursue such an arrangement in the event of a proxy contest or exchange offer leads me to the firm decision not to pursue such a path. Instead, I hereby formally withdraw Microsoft’s proposal to acquire Yahoo!.

We will move forward and will continue to innovate and grow our business at Microsoft with the talented team we have in place and potentially through strategic transactions with other business partners.

I still believe even today that our offer remains the only alternative put forward that provides your stockholders full and fair value for their shares. By failing to reach an agreement with us, you and your stockholders have left significant value on the table.

But clearly a deal is not to be.

Thank you again for the time we have spent together discussing this.


Sincerely yours,


Steven A. Ballmer
Chief Executive Officer
Microsoft Corporation

*****************

Microsoft Withdraws Proposal to Acquire Yahoo!
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/may08/05-03letter.mspx

The ABCs of Securing Your Wireless Network

One of the recommendations by ars technica is to use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) instead of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA and WEP are the two encryption standards that are widely used in today's wireless devices. WPA is far more superior than WEP in many aspects. The below article tells you why.

The ABCs of securing your wireless network
http://arstechnica.com/guides/tweaks/wireless-security.ars

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Are Singaporeans Taking Public or Private Transport?

The Singapore government encourages more to travel using the public transport like buses or trains in a bid to ease traffic flow and better air environment.

A series of measures, like increasing ERP charges and installing more ERP gantries at various "strategic" locations, have been implemented to discourage owning a car. To encourage more to take public transport, LTA has come up with a masterplan to make travelling easier. Higher frequencies of buses and trains between intervals especially during peak hours are ordered by the LTA to transport operators.

Question comes down to "Are Singaporeans taking public or private transport?" Now, all transport operators are privatised and the big players like SMRT, SBS Transit and Comfort DelGro, are all listed on the stock market. They will need to answer to shareholders and ensure y-o-y profit are improving, if not maintained.

How many times have we read, seen or heard of complaints from commuters because of overcrowded trains or buses, or filthy buses? How many minutes have been wasted because of long waits for buses or trains? How often do you read of passengers complaining on taxi drivers "hiding" from the streets but suddenly reappear out of nowhere with a "On Call" sign?

Despite higher oil prices, SMRT still managed to report higher net profit of S$149.9M, up 10.4%. So, is their past arguments on a need to up transport fares justifiable? Also, are the public consulted prior to an increase in on-board rate for cabs? The taxi operators simply proceeded with their increase without listening to both the cab drivers and passengers. Profit is number ONE.

Let's admit the fact that we, Singaporeans, no longer are taking public transport. We are taking PRIVATE transport. I will not be surprised should transport operators submit another round of fee hike proposal and get it approved year in year out. It's time to introduce and bring in big and new players so no single operator can "monopolise" the market. When I says big, I really mean big if not their influence to the market is of little if not negligible insignificance. Remember how the other smaller taxi operators have no choice but to follow big boy Comfort DelGro up in fare prices?

AVG 8.0 Free Version Out for Download

AVG Anti-VirusFree Edition 8.0 is out for download. However, I have read many reports that this new version consumes quite a bit of system resources. I shall give it a miss and stick with version 7.5 or move to Avast.

http://free.grisoft.com/ww.download-avg-anti-virus-free-edition

Friday, May 02, 2008

Raffles Place Ghost Turns Out to be a Hoax

The Raffles Place Ghost in Lift case is closed and it turn out to be a hoax. On May 1, the person behind the video posted on http://www.rafflesplaceghost.net/blog/ that all is a hoax. It turn out to be a marketing stunt to promote a recuitment agency - GMP. I thought he must be sick to come out with this joke.

Quoted from the blog itself,

"After ten days of thorough investigation and the help of the public, we have concluded our investigation. Whilst there is a lack of consistent evidence to accurately prove the existence of a ghost, one key finding across all leads is that strange things do happen at night. Which is why, NO ONE SHOULD WORK LATE EVERY DAY. Watch this video for a summary and the truth behind the alleged sighting of a ghost at Raffles Place. It is just the sort of report you’d want to hear on Labour Day. Thank you for being a part of our blog."

Asia Paranormal Investigators also concluded that the Raffles Place Ghost in Lift is not true and revealed 3 possibilities how the video could have been done.
http://www.api.sg/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=111&Itemid=1

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Labour Day - An Opportunity to Express Themselves

Labor Day, on May First is an American Holiday so feared by corporate interests, they have suppressed it in it's home country. Today, May First is celebrated through the world as Labor Day, but not in the USA. The first week of May in 1886 marked a turning point in the struggle for Justice in this country. The fair treatment of the worker - the originator of all economic value - is the cornerstone of our freedoms to the extent that we still enjoy them today.

On May First, Labor Day Was Born in Chicago
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/04/30/18495886.php

An earlier post by myself
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/labor-day-in-us-first-monday-of.html

Below are just some of the many rallies happened on May 1 2008:

Singapore

The opposition Singapore Democratic Party marked May Day by distributing flyers and getting Singaporeans to sign two petitions.

SDP marks May Day by distributing flyers in Toa Payoh
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/344996/1/.html

Indonesia

Thousands of Indonesians took to the streets of the capital Jakarta for Labour Day rallies on Thursday, with rising food prices and an expected cut in fuel subsidies weighing heavily on workers' minds.

Indonesian workers hold rallies to protest against rising food, fuel costs
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/344921/1/.html

Philippines

Thousands of workers marched on Thursday in the Philippines capital Manila under tight security to demand higher wages in the face of inflation that has sent food prices soaring.

Thousands march in Manila to demand higher wages
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/344895/1/.html

Israel

(Not really related to May Day but thought it's coincidental to fall on May 1 as well)

Israel began marking its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day with President Shimon Peres vowing the Jewish state would never allow the Jewish genocide to be repeated.

Israel marks Holocaust Memorial Day
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/344889/1/.html

Turkey

Turkish riot police used clubs, tear gas and water cannons Thursday to break up crowds of workers and students trying to reach a main Istanbul square for a Labor Day rally banned by the government.

Turkish police disperse workers defying May Day ban
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/01/europe/EU-GEN-Turkey-Labor-Day.php

This is People Power

Labor Day in US - First Monday of September

For many countries, May 1 marks the Labor Day. Labor Day is often regarded simply as a day of rest. However, there are countries which celebrate Labor Day in another day e.g. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The US celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

Controversies of Labor Day from Wikipedia:

"The Knights of Labor organized the original parade on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. In 1884 another parade was held, and the Knights passed resolutions to make this an annual event. Other labor organizations (and there were many), but notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association, many of whom were socialists or anarchists, favored a May 1 holiday. In 1886 came the general strike which eventually won the eight-hour workday in the United States. These events are today commemorated as Labor Day in virtually every country in the world, with the notable exceptions being the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. With the Chicago Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, President Grover Cleveland believed that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus, fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he quickly moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day."

Labor Day
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day

Singapore's GIC may invest in more banks

Recently, the chairman of The Government of Singapore Investment Corp told Bloomberg TV that GIC may invest in more banks in Europe and the United States if it gets the chance, adding to its already billion dollars stakes in bank UBS and Citigroup. The stakes in the 2 earlier mentioned banks have already eroded significant percentages off their initial values.

Personally, I am fine with GIC investing in banks for the loooooooong term. Below is an interesting blog entry on this issue. I am with the blog writer.

Lee Kuan Yew Ain't No Warren Buffett
http://utwt.blogspot.com/2008/04/lee-kuan-yew-aint-no-warren-buffett.html

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