Monday, June 30, 2008

Speech by Mr Tharman at ABS AGM 2008

Mr Tharman, Minister for Finance, just gave a speech for the Association of the Banks in Singapore AGM 2008 on 27 June 2008. He addressed the current challenges on global and Singapore economy.

I extracted 2 key points being addressed
  • Developing Asia in fact faces greater risks in inflation than the US or Europe. Asian countries have been harder hit by the rise in prices of food, which takes up a much larger share of household expenditures (30% or more, which is roughly double what it is in the US and Europe), as well as the oil price increase. CPI inflation in developing Asia is now running at around 8% on average, although the figures probably understate inflationary pressures in economies with price controls on various commodities. Some Asian economies are seeing much higher inflation rates.
  • Singapore’s challenges mirror those faced elsewhere in Asia, but are in some ways more pronounced. We are a price taker in the textbook sense, given our small size and the openness of our economy and financial markets. We cannot insulate ourselves from global prices of food or fuel, or anything else.
Full Speech by Mr Tharman
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080627985.htm

Is US Retirement Savings Playing a Part in Driving Up Oil Prices?

According to the an article from MSNBC, US$139 billion had been funneled into energy commodites, primarily crude oil, by the end of March, with more than half of that estimated to be from retirement money.

You may be driving up the price of oil
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25417337/

Starhub Network Signal Reception Puzzling

I recently switched from telco M1 to Starhub. I had been with M1 ever since I first used a mobile phone, that's around 10 years back. I must give credit to them on their better than average coverage. IMHO, M1 could be the best among the 3 telcos in Singapore, beating Singtel and Starhub. If not for their more expensive plans and their don't-care attitude in even attempting to retain me, a long serving customer, I wouldn't have ditched them.

I am now giving my personal opinion on Starhub coverage. Using Starhub, I am now seeing no network signal at my workplace. This never happened with M1. Few minutes ago, I witnessed an even more unbelievable fact. My phone actually auto roamed to "Maxis" network. Maxis is a mobile operator from Malaysia. It just doesn't make sense roaming to Malaysia especially when I stay in Ang Mo Kio, an area definitely not near the borders.

Looks Like Some Nice Astronomical Sightings for Enthusiasts

This article subject title interests me - "Things Get Wild in Western Sky as Mars, Saturn, Regulus Party". After reading the article, I thought there must be some really extraordinary nice astronomical sightings though I don't really understand how do all these heavenly bodies work.

Things Get Wild in Western Sky as Mars, Saturn, Regulus Party
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/28/AR2008062801974.html

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Safer Authentication with a One-Time Password Solution

Article on One-Time Password (OTP)
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc507635.aspx

Sample code to implement OTP
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc507652.aspx?pr=blog

CLR Inside Out - Large Object Heap Uncovered

Another interesting MSDN article.

CLR Inside Out - Large Object Heap Uncovered
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc534993.aspx

Test Your Web Design in Different Browsers

I have found a website that can test your web design in different browsers on different OS for free! Browsershots is the one.

Browsershots makes screenshots of your web design in different browsers. It is a free open-source online service created by Johann C. Rocholl. When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to the central server here.

http://browsershots.org/

Tools And Techniques to Identify Concurrency Issues

An interesting article from the MSDN on - Tools And Techniques to Identify Concurrency Issues.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc546569.aspx

Bill Gates bids a teary farewell to Microsoft

Bill Gates said a teary goodbye on Friday to Microsoft Corp, the software maker he built into the world's most valuable technology company based on the ambitious goal of placing a computer on every desk and in every home.

He leaves Microsoft, which he co-founded with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975, to focus on his philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest charity, funded in part by his vast fortune.

Bill Gates gave up his CEO position to Steve Ballmer in 2000. Now, Gates relinquishes his title of Chief Software Architect, but will continue to be involved in the company's operations on a daily basis until July 2008. He will then stay on as Chairman of the Board and an advisor on "key development projects" after the transition is complete. Taking over the role of Chief Software Architect is Ray Ozzie.

Bill Gates bids a teary farewell to Microsoft
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUKN2630130120080627

Biography of Bill Gates
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/default.aspx?tab=biography

Windows Messenger MSN - The .info Scam

If you receive a MSN message with a link from a friend, do not open it blindly especially if you find it suspicious and unexpected. I have been receiving suspicious links from friends whom they confirmed they never sent. After receiving yet another one yesterday, I made up my mind to research on this seemingly serious issue.

All messages received seem to have a suffix .info in it. A possible message is as below:
    Party Pics.. 
http://[your friend email address before @ sign].ther1ng.info
Messages may be even simpler with nothing but the link like below:
    http://checkdiz.info
The messages may come in different variations. So far, the messages I received were from ther1ng.info, checkdiz.info, checkout.the.fri3ndp1x.info, and imagequick.info.

A quick navigation to http://imagequick.info brings me to the below page.

The page is promoted using the concept of Social Networking. It attempts to trick MSN users to login and share photos with fellow friends. A quick scrutiny on the Terms and Conditions seems to have told the entire story. I include the entire T&C below.

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy:

By filling out this form, you authorize TST Management, Inc to spread the word
about this 100% real and upcomming Messenger Community Site.
You will receive your share of the credit in helping us spread the word. This is a harmless
Community site which is offering users a platform to meet each other for free.

We do not share your private information with any third parties.
By using our service/website you hereby fully authorize TST Management, Inc to send messages
of a commercial nature via Instant Messages and E-Mails on behalf of third parties via the information
you provide us. This is not a "phishing" site that attempts to "trick" you into revealing personal
information. Everything we do with your information is disclosed here. If you are under eighteen (18),
you MUST obtain permission from a parent or guardian before using our website/service.

This page is not affiliated with or operated by Microsoft(tm) or MSN Network(tm).

ANY LIABILITY, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES CAUSED OR
ALLEGEDLY CAUSED BY ANY FAILURE OF PERFORMANCE, ERROR, OMISSION, INTERRUPTION, DEFECT,
DELAY IN OPERATION OR TRANSMISSION, COMMUNICATIONS LINE FAILURE, SHALL BE STRICTLY LIMITED
TO THE AMOUNT PAID BY OR ON BEHALF OF THE SUBSCRIBER TO THIS SERVICE.

We may temporarily access your MSN account to do a combination
of the following:
1. Send Instant Messages to your friends promoting this site.
2. Introduce new entertaining sites to your friends via Instant Messages.


This is a free service. You will not be asked to pay at any time.
You will not be subscribed to anything asking for payment.
This service is made possible by many hours of human effort.

TST Management, Inc reserves the right to change the terms of use / privacy policy
at any time without notice. To view the latest version of this privacy policy,
simply bookmark this page for future reference.

You understand that this agreement shall prevail if there is any conflict between this
agreement and the terms of use you accepted when you signed up with MSN. You also
understand that by temporarily accessing your msn account, TST Management, Inc
is NOT agreeing to MSN's terms of use and therefore not bound by them.

This agreement shall be construed and governed by the law of the
republic of Panama. You expressly consent to the exclusive venue
and personal jurisdiction of the courts located in the Republic of
panama for any actions arising from or relating to this agreement.

If any provision of this agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable
for any reason, such invalidity, illegality or unenforceability shall not effect any
other provisions of this agreement, and this agreement shall be construed as if
such invalid, illegal or unenforceable provision had not been contained herein.

Copyright 2008 TST Management, Inc

In summary, the website is managed by TST Management and they are not affiliated to Microsoft. By logging into the interface provided using your MSN account, you deemed to have agreed to their T&C. They have made it clear who they are and how they will be using your username and password. In other words, they are not introducing virus, worms, trojan horses, nor they are a phising site.

The only solution to stop them from using your MSN credentials is to change your password immediately! To prevent similar incidents from happening, do not enter your account details on any other input interface other than the ones provided by Microsoft. This is applicable to other user accounts.

CASE Says Most Cooked Food Costs $2.50 and Below Puzzling

According to a survey conducted by Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), 240 of 395 food items surveyed could be bought at S$2.50 and below. I find this findings puzzling and I wonder how this statistics are determined.

My personal experience is that it is almost impossible to find food that cost less than or equal to $2.50 nowadays (I exclude the $2.00 Nasi Lemak that sells in set made popular by Hup Lee). I have doubts in the area CASE conducted their survey. If the hawker centres being targeted were mostly located in low income area, then the result would be biased.

I am expecting netizens to raise similar doubts on CASE findings.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/356748/1/.html

Friday, June 27, 2008

How to Redeem POSB Everyday Card Dollars?

There are 2 methods in doing POSB Everyday Card dollars redemption.

The first method is to redeem them when you make a purchase using your Everyday credit card at one of its participating merchants. I am not in favour in this method because you will not be able to enjoy cash rebates from the current transaction if you choose to make redemption to offset current purchase, thereby losing some percentages. This is the catch.

The second method is to redeem it to offset your outstanding credit card bill. This can only be done using internet banking and amount to redeem must be in blocks of $5. I am in favour in this method since 100% of dollars redeemed are capitalised to offset my bill. There is no loss.

Many Ministers Becoming Millionaires

I thought below is an interesting piece of information for all. Singapore is seeing more millionaires.

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/06/whose-future-is-%e2%80%9cshining%e2%80%9d-really/

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mediacorp Radio Yes 93.3 Running On Vignette Portal

I stumbled onto Mediacorp's Radio Yes 93.3 portal few minutes ago and got the below screen.


It says:

"Vignette Portal: This system is currently starting up. Please be patient. This process may take a few minutes".

Now I know they are using Vignette Portal. Am I so lucky to witness them restarting their server?

Crude Oil Rose US$4 in 10 Minutes

Crude oil rose by US$4 per barrel in 10 minutes in US trading (26 Jun 2008). It is now at US$138.58 per barrel. This is after reports Libya threatened to cut production and OPEC's president said prices may reach $170 by the summer.

This is scary.

BBC News: 10 Tips to Relieve Insomnia

BBC News has compiled 10 tips to relieve insomnia.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7470108.stm

Adobe Releases Acrobat 9 with Portfolios, Sharing, Flash

The most significant new features are the ability to create Portfolios, or compound documents, to incorporate Flash content, including videos in PDF documents, and the ability for collaborators to co-navigate documents.

Adobe Releases Acrobat 9 with Portfolios, Sharing, Flash
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2321731,00.asp

Acrobat 9.0
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/

Nokia to Open Source Symbian a Threat to Microsoft, Google?

Nokia, already holding a major stake in Symbian, has pledged to buy all of Symbian and push it open source. Is this going to be a threat to Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Google's Android?

Open Source Nokia a Threat to Microsoft, Google?
http://www.internetnews.com/mobility/article.php/3755381/Open+Source+Nokia+a+Threat+to+Microsoft+Google.htm

Minimize Blocking in SQL Server

At a Glance:
  • Why lock escalation occurs
  • Avoiding unnecessary blocking
  • Optimizing your queries
  • Monitoring the impact of locking on performance
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc434694(TechNet.10).aspx

SQL Server 2008 New Data Types

At a Glance:
  • New date and time data types
  • Representing position in a hierarchy
  • Two models for working with spatial data
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc434692(TechNet.10).aspx

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

China's Shaolin Temple Launches Online Store

China's Shaolin Temple now has its own online store. It is now even possible to get hold of kung fu instruction manual for 9,999 yuan ($1,456).

China's famed Shaolin temple kick starts online store
http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSPER52137620080625

Google Gmail Sending Limit

According to a post from Google Groups, the Google Apps Team sent an email to a user on Gmail's sending limit. The email is as below.

Here is a list of some of the sending limits in place on your account:

- 500 messages per day (i.e., you can hit 'Send' a maximum of 500
times)
- 500 unique recipients
- 2000 total emails (for example, you could send one message to a
group of 500 people four times)

Please note that there may be additional factors which slightly raise
or lower these limits, but this should be a good general guideline.

Sincerely,

Joanna
The Google Apps Team

The post on Google Groups is as below
http://groups.google.com/group/hosted-setup/browse_thread/thread/433297e19728b875

The Bill Gates Exit Interview

At the end of the month, Bill Gates is stepping down as chief software architect of Microsoft, and retiring from his day-to-day role at Microsoft, the company he co-founded and led for most of the past 30 years. Michael J. Miller, former PC Magazine Editor-in-Chief, sat down with him to look back at how the computer industry has evolved over that time, and where it is headed.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2321129,00.asp

WTS Sony Ecrisson G900 Mobile [ SOLD ]

Phone is SOLD.

I am selling SE G900 (Dark Red) at S$560.
  • About 2 weeks old
  • Super good condition
  • Selling because not used to SE
  • Comes with bluetooth headset
  • Screen protector
  • 1 GB memory
  • Box, User Manual, Warranty Card
Phone Specification
http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_ericsson_g900-2247.php

I have made postings on 2 forums on this sale.
http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?p=30856539
http://forums.keeptouch.net/showthread.php?t=105100

Interested parties can contact me directly.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Quick And Easy Method to Remove Formatting When You Copy-Paste Text In Office

There is an easy method to remove formatting whenever you copied and paste formatted text onto Microsoft programs like Word and Outlook. To quickly remove formatting from copied text, simple select the text and then press the Ctrl key followed by Space key. The selected text is now without formatting.

http://www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/cut-copy-paste-text-remove-formatting-styles/3607/

Singapore CPI Up 7.5% in May 2008

The consumer price index in May 2008 increased by 7.5% as compared to May 2007. The consumer price index in May 2008 rose by 0.2% over April 2008. As a result, the consumer price index for the first 5 months of 2008 is now 7.0% higher than the same period of previous year.

Consumer Price Index for May 2008
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080623999.pdf

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Singapore Ranked 2nd in Enabling Trade Index 2008

East Asian economies Hong Kong and Singapore occupy the top two positions in the Enabling Trade Index ranking, followed by Sweden and Norway, according to The Global Enabling Trade Report 2008, released by the World Economic Forum. Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand complete the top 10 list.

The Global Enabling Trade Report 2008
http://www.weforum.org/documents/getr08_browser/index.html

I am a Hubber

Decision is made and executed. I have finally ditched M1 after almost 10 years with them. Loyalty does not pay off in this case. M1 did not even made any attempts to keep me. One officer actually directed me how to do full number switching.

I am now a hubber and am definitely very much better off. My monthly subscription for my new Starhub line is at slightly less than $20 as compared to M1's $22.26. First 6 months mobile subscription and data plan subscription are waived.

I just got a Nokia N95 at $368 from my new line. Regine will be paying for it to replace her newly bought Sony Ecrisson G900. The 1 week old SE G900 phone will be sold to the public at a reasonable market price. I will be posting an ad for the sale in a day or two time. I personally prefer the Nokia phone but just too bad I cannot hold a camera phone. So will I end up still using my more than 3 years old antique phone?

Lander Finds Ice on Mars Or Is It Just Salt?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/20/AR2008062003250.html

Verdict On Service Level of the 3 Telcos

On 17th June evening, I sent individual email to Singtel, Starhub and M1 to request for a list of all non-camera phones with bluetooth features they have with their price list. I mentioned their customer service officers gave me inconsistent answers and some even recommended phones that are no longer in their catalogue. In the email, I left my contact number and told them to call me if they see the need.

M1 was the first to contact me and they did it before 10am. From them, only Nokia E51 suits me. Starhub was the next to call. The same answer was made. Singtel chose to reply me by email but failed to apologize. E51 was the answer.

Though some Blackberry phones do satisfy my requirements, I am not interested in them. I already have a PDA running Windows Mobile 6.0 and so does not wish to own another expensive gadget that conflicts with my PDA. Yes, cost is my other requirement.

I rate M1 and Starhub positively but Singtel negatively.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why is Oil So High?

High oil prices has resulted in worldwide protests even in developed countries. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, South Korea, Spain and France are just some of the many countries currently seeing protests for this result. Having no choice, we are seeing more countries like Malaysia and China removing fuel subsidies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/21/business/21oil.html?pagewanted=1

Friday, June 20, 2008

Make SQL Server 2008 New Date Data Types Work on .NET 2.0

If you are using the new SQL Server 2008, you must have realized date data types like date, time, datetime2 and datetimespan are new. To make these new date types work properly on .NET 2.0, .NET 2.0 SP1 needs to be installed.

SQL Server 2008: new data types and .Net 2 with and without SP1
http://www.simple-talk.com/community/blogs/andras/archive/2008/06/20/60191.aspx

Download Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (x86)
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=79BC3B77-E02C-4AD3-AACF-A7633F706BA5&displaylang=en

Download Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 (x64)
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=029196ED-04EB-471E-8A99-3C61D19A4C5A&displaylang=en

SunSpider, a JavaScript benchmark

SunSpider, a JavaScript benchmark, tests the core JavaScript language only, not the DOM or other browser APIs. It is designed to compare different versions of the same browser, and different browsers to each other.

http://webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html

Firefox 3.0 Hit By The First Bug

While Mozilla is celebrating its over 8 million downloads of Firefox 3.0, it seems like the new browser will make again headlines, this time for a different reason: a security bug.

http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Firefox_30_Hit_By_The_First_Bug_19196.html

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Turn RSS Feeds into PDF Files for Your PDA

With Feedbooks, it is now possible to convert RSS feeds into PDF files for your PDA reading. I have tried it and it works great!

You can add a subscription and download subscribed RSS reading in PDF. There is also a mobile version for Feedbooks. Using the mobile version, the reading can be downloaded while you are on the move and read them offline later.

Feedbooks News
http://www.feedbooks.com/news

蘇打綠 (Soda Green) - 這天

蘇打綠 (Soda Green) - 無與倫比的美麗

蘇打綠 (Soda Green) - 小情歌


I was at Bugis Junction today and saw 蘇打綠 (Soda Green) performing. They look so much different especially the lead singer.

I find their songs really nice. BTW, the lead singer is a male.

Yahoo! Mail Adds 2 New Domains

Yahoo on Thursday is tripling the size of its globally-popular free online email service by adding two new domains as options to "@yahoo.com" addresses. The 2 new domains to be added are "@ymail.com" and "@rocketmail.com".

Yahoo delivers new free email addresses
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080619/ttc-lifestyle-it-internet-company-mail-y-0de2eff.html

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Please Ignore Fast Cash Ads on Bus Stops

For the past few months, there have been ever increasing number of advertisements put up illegally on bus stops, near MRT stations, railings, and even at void decks on "How to get fast cash legally at low interest rates". These ads will contain the contact number and the person to contact. Little did they know vandalism act has been breached by putting ads without valid licenses. These people must have got their numbers right and risk calculated, making sure profit is ensured even if fines are imposed for the vandalism act. Don't forget it is not difficult to find these vandals since their contact numbers are left behind.

CPF Board has just announced and advised the public not to take up these "offers". They are against fast cash loan companies. These fast cash companies coax the public into revealing their SingPass account details so CPF monies can be withdrawn for investments. The commission earned from the transaction made through investment are partially returned as an enticement tactic. There is little idea as to where the monies are been invested into and the possibility of it being in volatile high cost funds is definitely high since it will guarantee higher commission for the fast cash loan companies. The victim can end up incurring an overall loss when the CPF monies are returned to his account.

CPF board warns public against fast cash loan companies
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/354964/1/.html

Running Mozilla Firefox on Thumb Drive

With Mozilla Firefox Portable Edition, it is possible to run Internet browser Firefox on a thumb drive.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition
http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable

Few days ago, I posted on running Opera on a thumb drive.

Opera 9.5 to Run on Thumb Drive
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/06/opera-95-to-run-on-thumb-drive.html

Watch Firefox 3.0 in Action

Click on the below link to watch Firefox 3.0 in action.

http://people.mozilla.com/~beltzner/overview-of-firefox3.swf

Petronas Bosses Accused of "Living Like Kings"

The chief minister of Malaysia's Penang state has accused the bosses of national energy firm Petronas of "living like kings" while the public is forced to pay higher fuel prices.

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080617/tap-malaysia-politics-energy-petronas-0193655.html

Firefox Website Down

With the launch of the new Firefox 3.0 and their call to all supporters to download the new version on launch date in a bid to set a World Record, Firefox website went down!

I am getting error "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3.0 to Launch on 17 Jun 17:00 UTC (10am PDT)

According to the Firefox developer team, Firefox 3 will be launched on 17th June 2008 approximately 2 hours time. From the Firefox Developer blog, they are attempting a Guinness World Record for most software downloaded in 24 hours. To find out your local time equivalent to 17:00 UTC, visit here.

Do remember to join the download fun to give your support.

The History of Firefox 1.0 to 3.0 in Screenshots

Watch the history of Firefox 1.0 to 3.0 in screenshots from LifeHacker.

http://lifehacker.com/396206/the-history-of-firefox-10-to-30-in-screenshots

E-mail etiquette for wireless devices

An article from Microsoft offers you 7 tips on email etiquette for wireless devices.
  1. First, determine if you're sending to a wireless device
  2. Don't overabrvt
  3. The subject line isn't everything, but it should often be the only thing
  4. Put yourself in the receiver's shoes
  5. Ask before you tell your life story
  6. Cut the funny stuff
  7. Skip your John Hancock
http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/ArticleReader/website/default.aspx?Print=1&ArticleId=Emailetiquetteforwirelessdevicestips

Suggestions to 3 Singapore Telcos

I need a mobile phone without a camera and one will think finding what are the phones that satisfy my simple requirement would have been easy especially in a Internet-savvy country that emphasize so strongly on service like Singapore. However, the local telcos prove it wrong.

From the websites of all 3 telcos, namely Singnet, Starhub, and M1, none provide search capability to exclude features. Only include feature is available. Any developer will know it is not tough to add an exclude feature. It is merely doing a negation operation. Sad to say, none of the telcos seem interested to provide this basic feature. Could the reason be because the market who are going for non-camera phones too small?

A trip down to the telcos branches often end up hearing "phone out of stock" or "sorry, I think only XXX is without camera" answer. Same question on which phones are without camera often give different answers. Staff are not trained and are unaware of these types of phones.

This group of people should not be neglected.

UOB NOW Card Without NETS Capability

Less than a month ago, United Overseas Bank (UOB) launched a new debit card - NOW card. Other than VISA card capabilities, ATM and ez-Link capability are also included. With this launch, existing debit cards in circulation are terminated and auto converted to the new card. Previous agreements on old debit cards are all void and new NOW card agreement is to set in. The new NOW card is missing one very important feature which is NETS capability and this resulted in nationwide dissatisfaction.

Last week, there are a couple of articles on the news reporting on consumer rights issues relating to the NOW card. They complained on UOB not giving consumers option to accept or reject the new card. UOB's decision in going ahead with automatic conversion from existing debit cards to new NOW card is disappointing. There was no notice to consumers on the change. Without NETS capability, consumers will now need to visit UOB branches to apply for a new ATM card. They will now need to bring two cards.

FYI, this NOW debit card is a platinum card. A platinum status is usually given to credit cards for consumers with a higher credit limit. With this platinum status, debit card users have to pay $18 annual fee now! Even POSB Everyday Credit card can have NETS capability.

BTW, UOB NOW Card does not look good.

ERP Rates Revised North Again

About half of existing ERP gantries islandwide will see their rates increase from 7 July.

The electronic road pricing (ERP) rates for 32 of 65 gantries will increase by between 50 cents and $2. The gantries are primarily in the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard Road.

Five new ERP gantries along the Singapore River will also be activated on 7 July.

According to MANY MANY previous statements made by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore, ERP rates need to be revised to ease traffic. They believe by doing so, traffic flow will be smoother. Yet this time the same old argument is being passed.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/354705/1/.html

Monday, June 16, 2008

CPF Minimum Sum Up to S$106,000

The CPF Board announced today that the new CPF Minimum Sum (MS) from 1 July 2008 would be $106,000. The new MS would apply to CPF members who turn 55 from 1 July 08 to 30 June 09.

Details found in CPF Website
http://mycpf.cpf.gov.sg/CPF/News/News-Release/N_16June2008.htm

Singapore Economic Data Looks Discouraging

GDP for 2008 is forecast to be 5.5% down from 5.6% in March survey. Inflation for the whole year is set to be of 6%, up 1% in an earlier survey 3 months ago. Unemployment figure for the first three months of this year is at 2.2% 2.0%, up slightly from the previous month, but lower if compared to the same period a year ago.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Speed Testing the Latest Web Browsers


LifeHacker recently made a test on the performance of the various internet browsers. In their test, the latest editions of Firefox 3.0, Internet Explorer 7.0, Opera 9.5, and Safari 3.1 for Windows are used.

http://lifehacker.com/396048/speed-testing-the-latest-web-browsers

Opera 9.5 to Run on Thumb Drive

The latest browser Opera 9.5 can now run your thumb drive!

Benefits of Opera@USB
  • there are no unwanted effects on IE or other browsers
  • existing Opera versions are not affected
  • make no entries to the registry
  • works with every Windows PC (company,Internetcafe, friends,..)
  • leave no data on the host computer
What do i need for Opera@USB?
  • a computer with an internet connection
  • a USB Flashdrive with about 15 MB space left
Opera@USB
http://www.opera-usb.com/operausben.htm

Google + Yahoo

Microsoft + Yahoo is not going to materialise but Google + Yahoo seems to be a reality.

Google-Yahoo Ad Deal: This Is Not A Merger
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2320018,00.asp

Same Sex Marriages to Boost California's Economy

With California the only state in US to approve same sex marriages, its economy is set to be boosted. It certainly pays to be "open". This newly "uncovered" economy is going to give California monopoly.

Gay marriage may be a gift to California's economy
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wedding2-2008jun02,0,433388.story

Another Protest Due to High Fuel Prices

Nowadays, whenever you tune into any news, you are likely to hear a lot on inflation - food or fuel. Protests are everywhere and the latest one is at South Korea. This particular protest is going to cost S. Korea US$123 million a day having its Port day-to-day operations threatened and grounded.

Are we slowly moving into a situation whereby war could be ignited for natural resources?

South Korean Truckers Strike to Protest Rising Fuel Costs
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/14/world/asia/14korea.html

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Berners-Lee Says Future of Web is a Semantic One

On Wednesday, Tim Berners-Lee , the inventor or the Web, and a panel of leading authorities on the World Wide Web gathered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to discuss the future of the Web in a public debate. Berners-Lee said he sees the Web's evolution as a semantic one, where data can be used in unexpected ways.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2319807,00.asp

Friday, June 13, 2008

Our Bus Drivers Need Protection Against Unreasonable Passengers

On 12 June around 9pm, I was on bus 133 on my way home when an incident involving an unreasonable passenger and the bus driver took place.

The bus driver was focusing on his right rear mirror, trying to filter out from a bus stop to the main road, when an unreasonable passenger came banging on the bus front door. I observed the passenger was holding a laptop in one hand and a handphone in the other.

I list 2 reasons as to why the bus driver should not be blamed even if the passenger was missed and end up not able to board the bus. The pasenger should even be thankful if he managed to board it. My first reason is the passenger was too late in flagging the bus and the bus driver should not be blamed. Secondly, the bus driver never noticed the passenger's intention in boarding it simply due to the first reason plus the bus driver was looking at the right rear mirror that time. The unreasonable passenger simply took his own sweet time strolling towards the bus.

The well dressed long sleeved in early twenties passenger raised his voice at the bus driver and even threatened to lodge a complaint. There were these two other passengers who felt the bus driver was wrongly accused. They told the bus driver to f**k him and even called the unreasonable passenger names. The two passengers alighted at the next stop. It was at this moment when I decided to do something. I took out a piece of paper and wrote my contact number on it before passing it to the driver. I told him to contact me should he require a witness. He thanked me.

In my opinion, the bus driver was not at fault and certainly does not deserve a treatment like this. We should not have the "Customers are always right" attitude.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Google Co-Founder, Sergy Brin, Books Space Flight

Money can do everything.
http://www.slipperybrick.com/2008/06/sergey-brin-space-flight/

Firefox 3 to Launch on 17th June

According to the Firefox developer team, Firefox 3 will be launched on 17th June 2008. From the Firefox Developer blog, they are attempting a Guinness World Record for most software downloaded in 24 hours. At this point in time, a total of 1,101,127 have pledged to download Firefox 3 on launch day.

http://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/index.php/2008/06/11/coming-tuesday-june-17th-firefox-3/

Asia IT Salary Benchmarks

ZDNet Asia recently conducted a survey on IT Salary Benchmark. I believe the part on IT related jobs salary benchmarks should interest us most.

IT Employment Trends 2008
http://www.zdnetasia.com/techjobs/it_employment_trends_08/0,3800013453,62042202,00.htm

Software Development is Research

Software development isn't just a process of creating software; it's also a process of learning how to create the software that is best suited for its purpose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

2 weeks ago, I made a post on how the Internet is killing us, making us narrow minded. Now, there is another article discussing on how Google is making us more stupid.

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google

The Role of a Financial Adviser on Your Investment Portfolio

What should be the role of a Financial Advisier on your investment portfolio? The below is extracted from an article from the Business Times titled "Portfolio strategy and your adviser".

A good adviser strikes a balance between making tactical changes and cautioning clients about acting on emotions

By BEN FOK


A REFERRED client recently consulted me regarding his investment portfolio. After the introductions, he quickly settled down and poured out his woes to me. Listening to him, I began to understand his anxiety and why he urgently needed help.

His story goes like this. In late 2007, he was concerned that there were many signs that pointed to a slowdown in the world economy in 2008. He told his financial adviser he wanted to restructure his investment portfolio into a more conservative one but the adviser resisted his suggestions. By not doing anything, his portfolio has suffered losses. He wondered if he should stick with an adviser who seemed only to adopt a buy-and-hold formula. This client felt that his portfolio should be actively managed and advice given regularly to help him navigate dynamic market conditions.

But this thought went through my mind: If the client had the expertise to predict future market performance, why did he need an adviser in the first place? I told him that looking at the facts, I didn't think the adviser had done anything wrong.

He was stunned by my reply. In fact, I added, I would be more suspicious of advisers eager to sell or switch investments. After all, making more buy and sell recommendations could generate additional commissions, or at least make it appear that the adviser is on top of the situation.

Was the adviser wrong in doing nothing? In my opinion, the fact that your adviser doesn't agree with your suggestion to move into more conservative investments does not mean that he is lazy or incompetent. In fact, quite the opposite. If you were going into 2008 with a diversified portfolio that is in line with your risk appetite then it seems reasonable that an adviser would caution you against making any big changes.

That's not to say that an adviser should not re-evaluate a strategy in light of market conditions, or even make changes. But I believe a good adviser must strike a balance between making tactical changes to the client's portfolio and cautioning clients about acting on their emotions.

I reminded my client that we can only accurately assess a situation with the benefit of hindsight. Hardly anyone could have predicted that the stockmarket would crash in 1987 or that dotcom stocks would melt down in 2000 or that a financial crisis was looming in 1997 or that property would peak in 2007.

I do not believe that restructuring a portfolio just because the client feels that next year is going to be bad is the right course of action because it is almost impossible to identify accurately which part of the portfolio will be adversely affected.

It is unrealistic to expect the financial adviser to predict the market. Even if he was right one time, he would not be able to do it consistently. Think what a client would feel if an adviser did warn of an impending downturn and moved him into more conservative investments only to be wrong.

Since it is unrealistic to always invest at the right moment, what should investors do? You should ask yourself these questions. Why are you investing? Is it for income, growth or for speculative reasons? In order to structure an appropriate investment portfolio and expect a reasonable return, you need to have a clear set of investment objectives.

As such, your adviser should be exploring your goals with you. He should also understand how much risk you're willing to accept in order to reach your goals. He must also explain how you should react to market downturns along the way. If you haven't had such a conversation with your adviser and if he does not contact you periodically to evaluate your situation, then I don't see how he can give you reasonable advice.

Once your adviser understands your goals and risk tolerance, he can put in place an investment strategy. The common foundation for such a strategy should be a diversified investment portfolio that includes a variety of different stocks, bonds or unit trusts.

While the adviser cannot guarantee performance, he should be able to advise you on how that portfolio might perform over the long run. At the very least, he should tell you how the portfolio has performed in good and bad markets in the past by explaining to you the range of returns given the level of risk you are exposed to.

In real life, no strategy is going to go exactly according to plan. Hence, your adviser should be providing periodic reports, perhaps every quarter or even every six months. He should also show you how you're doing in relation to an appropriate benchmark. If your portfolio's performance is not up to expectation, then your adviser should explain why this has happened and discuss whether any re-balancing is required.

A good adviser knows that markets are volatile and that this will naturally upset many investors. So aside from periodic updates, an adviser should make an extra effort to keep in contact with clients during volatile periods.

At such times, it is not enough for an adviser to say: 'Keep holding on and all will be well.' A good adviser should be willing to go over the investment strategy again to make sure that it is still appropriate for your situation. He must also explain why the strategy still applies even if your portfolio is currently suffering a paper loss.

If the adviser discovers that your financial situation has changed or it turns out you have over-estimated the level of risk you can accept, then it make sense to fine-tune your portfolio. However, if you're constantly making changes to your portfolio, then the adviser probably doesn't have a real strategy for you.

I don't think any client would expect his adviser to have a crystal ball. What clients probably do expect is someone to manage his portfolio and at least call him when the market goes down to either reassure him, or rebalance the portfolio so that the client knows his advisor is alert and responsible.

I have heard the advice that if an individual does nothing else but diversify his portfolio, he will be protected from market downturns. Many were encouraged to invest in late 1995/6 by their advisers, in the name of diversification, and then were told to 'hold for the long term' while they watched the Asian markets turn negative for three years in a row. Remember, a well-diversified portfolio will not earn you superior returns, but that is not what investors should be seeking. Nobody can be sure where the markets will head in the short term. So the whole strategy is to re-assess your portfolio from time to time and keep your investments in check. Otherwise, diversification alone will be a dangerous strategy.

If you want to take big risks and try to time the market (something very few people can do), don't expect your adviser to make those decisions for you; you'll have to decide on your own. The latest Dalbar studies show that over the 20-year period ended December 2007 the S&P 500 has gained 11.8 per cent a year while the average equity investor would have earned an annualised return of just 4.48 per cent. Why is this so? I believe it's because many investors think they can predict the future. If you don't have a crystal ball, that 11.8 per cent doesn't sound too bad, does it? Ultimately, when looking for a good adviser, you need to find someone you can trust, who will educate you, set up a proper asset allocation strategy and invest in assets that make sense to you. Be disciplined and consider adopting a regular contribution investment strategy like dollar cost averaging and evaluate the strategy periodically. Having considered all the points here, decide whether your adviser meets your expectations. But if you want to replace your financial adviser because he cannot predict the future, then I wish you all the best in your search for a replacement.

Ben Fok is chief executive officer, Grandtag Financial Consultancy (Singapore) Pte Ltd. He can be reached at: ben.fok@grandtag.com


Portfolio strategy and your adviser
http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/storyprintfriendly/0,4582,283111,00.html

Credit Suisse says inflation for May or June may hit 8.5%

Financial services group Credit Suisse believes that inflation in Singapore for May and June may hit 8.5 per cent, but it says things will look brighter in the second half of the year.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/353450/1/.html

Can You Read This - Text Jumble

"fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too Cna yuo raed tihs?

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a
pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey
lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.
"

Research by Cambridge
http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/~mattd/Cmabrigde/

Try the below utility to jumble your text and read it
http://www.stevesachs.com/jumbler.cgi

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How SMRT Train Fares Are Calculated

On 25 May 2008, I sent an email to SMRT for justifications on how train fares are calculated. After a long one week on 31 May 2008, A senior officer for Customer Relations from SMRT finally replied and promised to revert for a detailed answer to my question. I waited a further 9 more days but none replied until I sent the below email.

"I think it is getting far too long for a reply. This is certainly not up to standard and is not acceptable.

I DEMAND SMRT to contact me directly via handphone at XXXXXXXX
"

The very next morning, the same senior officer called and promised to reply me with a detailed answer to my question. She said my case was never forgotten but I doubt so. Without my email, I bet my case would have been forgotten.

The below was sent by the SMRT's senior officer for Customer Relations on how train fares are being calculated:

We wish to clarify that MRT adult ez-link fares are based on distance travelled and LRT adult ez-link fares are based on the number of stations travelled.

The adult ez-link fare payable for traveling from A to B within the MRT network is pegged to the distance of the route that gives the shortest journey time (inclusive of transfer times at interchange stations and factors for inconvenience of transfer) between A and B.

The adult ez-link fare payable for a commuter traveling from C to D within the LRT network is pegged to the fewest number of stations for all possible routes between C and D.

The adult ez-link fare payable for a commuter transferring from MRT to LRT and vice versa is a simple aggregate of the MRT adult ez-link fare and the LRT adult ez-link fare, less any transfer rebate (subject to certain conditions which is detailed in http://www.transitlink.com.sg/). This concept is similar to commuters transferring from MRT to bus and vice versa.

As for the breakdown of the MRT and LRT adult ez-link fare structures, please refer to http://www.ptc.gov.sg/statistics_max.asp or http://www.transitlink.com.sg/

Based on the MRT adult ez-link fare structure, the fare charge for Scenario 1 as described is as follows:

In your case, if you are traveling from Ang Mo Kio to Buona Vista, he can shorten traveling time by boarding the southbound train and transferring via Raffles Place instead of boarding the northbound train and transferring via Jurong East. For the estimated journey time, please refer to http://www.transitlink.com.sg/images/eguide/MRT_Journey_Time.jpg or the published TransitLink guide.

For Scenario 2 as described, Journey 1 is an intra-LRT trip ie it is within the LRT network whereas Journeys 2 and 3 are transfer trips from MRT to LRT. As mentioned above, the adult ez-link fare payable for a commuter transferring from MRT to LRT and vice versa is a simple aggregate of the MRT adult ez-link fare and the LRT adult ez-link fare, less any transfer rebate. Based on the MRT and LRT adult ez-link fare structures, Scenario 2 is as follows:


We hope the above information is helpful and thank you for writing to us.

SMRT Train Fare Structure - Leaves Me Puzzled
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/smrt-train-fair-structure-leaves-me.html

SMRT Finally Replied After 6 Days
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/06/smrt-finally-replied-after-6-days.html

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Watched Kung Fu Panda

I watched Kung Fu Panda today. I give 5 out of 5 rating for this comedy movie.

Why Software is Complex

"Computer programs are the most intricate, delicately balanced and interwoven of all the products of human industry to date. They are machines with far more moving parts than any engine: the parts don't wear out, but they interact and rub up against one another in ways the programmers themselves cannot predict." - Gleik 1992

Software is unique in that its most significant issue is its complexity.

Asia's best managed companies: Singapore

Singapore Airlines (SIA) won the Singapore's Best Managed Companies.

http://www.financeasia.com/article.aspx?CIaNID=77689

Is SQL Server 2005 Integration With .NET CLR Useful?

When Microsoft launched the .NET 2.0 framework, they talked about the "true" tight integration between SQL Server 2005 and .NET 2.0. When we says tight integration, we refer to the possibility of writing .NET assemblies and then have them loaded onto SQL Server 2005 and have them invoked similar to invoking stored procedures.

But the question is "Is SQL Server 2005 Integration With .NET CLR Useful"? Simple-Talk's editor Tony Davis has his say. As for myself, I have only tried CLR integration with SQL Server 2005 as a personal practice. I have not used any CLR on SQL Server 2005 for practical use.

CLR, beer and turkey
http://www.simple-talk.com/community/blogs/tony_davis/archive/2008/06/06/58987.aspx

Friday, June 06, 2008

Google Launches Gmail Labs

Google has just launched several experiments on new Gmail features. Out of the 13 new features, I just loves "Signature tweaks" and "Old Snakey".

Thumbs Up!

http://lifehacker.com/395211/gmail-gets-13-experimental-new-features-tonight

Five Best Antivirus Applications

A poll conducted by LifeHacker reveals AVG Anti-Virus as the most preferred anti virus applications among several other freeware. At this point in time, the poll is still receiving new votes.
Five Best Antivirus Applications
http://lifehacker.com/395046/five-best-antivirus-applications

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hong Kong is Most Dangerous Domains to Surf

A report released by McAfee names Hong Kong (ranked 1st) as most dangerous country domain while Finland (ranked 74) is safest. Singapore ranked 67th in year 2008 from 63th in year 2007.

McAfee, Inc. Names Most Dangerous Domains to Surf and Search on the Web
http://www.mcafee.com/us/about/press/corporate/2008/20080604_181010_g.html

Mapping the Mal Web, Revisited
http://www.mcafee.com/us/local_content/misc/mapping_the_mal_web_2008.pdf

ST Electronics - First $1 Billion ICT Company in Singapore

ST Electronics, a company of ST Engineering, has become the first Singapore Information Communication Technology (ICT) company to acheive one billion Singapore dollar turnover in 2007.

http://www.stee.stengg.com/newsrm/Vol21No1/Features.pdf

ST Electronics recent acquisition of company iDirect Asia positions its ambitions in satellite communications strategically. According to the below link, iDirect, Inc., a company of VT Systems Inc., has increased its global market share of total TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) sathub sales to 47 percent in 2006. 47 percent is indeed a proud figure. Can you imagine 47% of all satellite communications have to go through hubs by ST Electronics?

http://www.satnews.com/cgi-bin/display_story.cgi?number=1760399607

Malaysia Raises Petrol Prices by 40%

Will we see street protests in the next few days? I hope not.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/351930/1/.html

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Caught in SMRT Train

I was caught in a SMRT train today near Sembawang train station in the morning rush hour around 7.30am. I was on my way from Ang Mo Kio to Buona Vista via Jurong East direction when the train broke down. The train was unable to move at all when it broke down and it required a rescue train to help tow it away.

SMRT took more than 10 minutes before making an announcement to commuters in the train notifying them on a technical fault. Commuters, including myself, were curious as to what had really happened. I could see people making phone calls reporting to their respective superiors of a possible train breakdown and get themselves excused from reporting late for work. SMRT announced the train was unable to move at all and required a rescue train. All passengers were required to alight upon arrival of the rescue train.

We waited patiently or impatiently for a good 20 minutes before we felt our train advancing very slowly forward before halting at the Sembawang train station. The technical fault experienced by the train must had been very severe because even the automated doors were not working. The train driver had to use a "key" to manually open train doors so passengers could alight. By this time, Sembawang MRT platform was already full of passengers stranded. The rescue train was in fact a passenger train after my train. The rescue train moved forward until it was positioned nicely at Sembawang MRT platform to allow passengers on board to alight. I had not never seen Sembawang platform filled with that many passengers before. No matter how many announcements on "Please stand behind the yellow line" were made, nobody seemed to care much.

The entire incident lasted almost 45 minutes before the north bound train service resumed normal operation. I was lucky to get onto the very first train that arrived. However, there were far too many who were affected by the 45 minutes service disruption.

I wonder how much available time and money are lost today. If SMRT are to be fined by this fault, who will suffer in the end? SMRT or the public?

Microsoft Extends XP Deadline

Microsoft has further extended the life of Windows XP so that computer makers can include the operating system on low-cost desktop PCs, the company announced at the Computex trade show on Tuesday.

Consumers finally win the battle.

http://www.nytimes.com/idg/IDG_852573C4006938804825745D0035EE3E.html

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Adobe and Their Own Online Office

Is seems online office market is getting more and more crowded. Already with Google, Microsoft and Zoho, Adobe is now joining them.

Check out Adobe's Acrobat on the web.

Adobe Acrobat
https://www.acrobat.com/

About Adobe Acrobat
http://www.adobe.com/acom/

Google Finance Showing Live Stock Prices

According to Google Finance Blog, they will be displaying NASDAQ stock prices live for free! For example, to see Google stock price live in real time, visit the below link

http://finance.google.com/finance?q=goog

Monday, June 02, 2008

Is HyperWebEnable.com a Scam?

Few hours ago, I received a comment posting by HyperWebEnable.com and the actual comment is as below:

HI ,
Increase your revenue 100% of your blog by converting into free website.
Convert your blog "yourname.blogspot.com" to www.yourname.com completely free.
Become proud owner of the (.com) own site .
we provide you free website+ free web hosting + list of your choice of scripts like(blog scripts,CMS scripts, forums scripts and
many scripts) all the above services are absolutely free.
You can also start earning money from your blog by referring your friends.
Please visit www.hyperwebenable.com for more info.
regards
www.hyperwebenable.com


Without second thoughts, I rejected the comment even before I research on the company.

A quick search on HyperWebEnable.com seems to support my instinct that it is a scam. Nothing in this world is free. There is no free lunch in this realistic society.

http://paidopps.blogspot.com/2008/04/hyperwebenable-scam-con-facts.html

Strength of ST Engineering

ST Engineering is an integrated engineering group providing solutions and services in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors. Headquartered in Singapore, the Group reported revenues of $5.05b in FY2007. With a market capitalisation of about $10b, it ranks among the largest companies listed on the Singapore Exchange. ST Engineering has more than 18,000 employees worldwide, and over 100 subsidiaries and associated companies in 21 countries and 35 cities. Please visit http://www.stengg.com/

Is Singapore Soccer Team Worthy of a World Cup Place?

Is Singapore soccer team worthy of a World Cup place? I says NO!

I must say I am very surprised to see Singapore soccer team to have made it so far at the current stage. Can Singapore fulfill her ambitious dream in World up 2010 qualification? Can they beat Uzebektistan tonight and keep their hopes alive?

I shall give my views on the current squad. I personally feels there are far too many foreign born players turned Singapore citizens donning Singapore colours. If there are no talents in Singapore, then so be it. Either the government reward sportsmen better or just accept the fact that we just need more time. We shouldn't be taking shortcuts and get ourselves criticised.

I quote Uzebektistan's national coach below.

"The Singapore team have changed very much in the last couple of years, and with the nationalised foreign players in the team they are a different proposition. Singapore are more like a selection of the best players in a league than a national team and I have been impressed with the way they play."

No wonder the Kallang hardly roars these days.

The same situation is happening in our table tennis team. If I an remember correctly, there will soon be a cap on the number of foreign born imports in any competition.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Teen Crowned Thailand's Most Beautiful Transvestite

A teenage transvestite who grew up on a military base was crowned Thailand's most beautiful transvestite late Friday, in an extravagant annual pageant which transfixed the nation. Kangsadarn Wongdusadeekul, known by her stage name "Nonk," cried as she accepted her Miss Tiffany crown from last year's winner.

From the above photo, "she" really looks feminine and beautiful.

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080531/tts-lifestyle-thailand-gay-pageant-5b8313a.html

NTUC Income Reasons Behind Bonus Restructure

Mr Tan Suee Chieh, Chief Executive of NTUC Income, has published an article on his reasons behind the recent bonus restructure. The recent issues raised by ex-CEO, Mr Tan Kin Lian, on the restructure must have caused an impact if not NTUC Income would not have made the press statement on their homepage itself. To read the press statement, just visit the home page at http://www.income.com.sg/.

I copied and paste the entire press statement below.

I would like to respond to a number issues raised by Mr Tan Kin Lian in public forums in relation to the bonus re-structure at NTUC Income.

Since February 2007, NTUC Income has been undergoing a review of all aspects of our business with the aim of strengthening NTUC Income and to achieve the best standards of governance and professional practices.

With that, NTUC Income would be in a better and stronger position to compete and meet the needs of a changing generation of Singaporeans, and to fulfil our social purpose of making insurance affordable, accessible and sustainable.

As a social enterprise, our first responsibility is to protect the interests of our policyholders, individually and as a whole, before taking into account the interests of our employees and shareholders.

One of the practices which NTUC Income reviewed was the bonus structure of participating life policies. The Appointed Actuary was of the opinion that under the existing structure, the company would be less likely to meet policyholders’ expected payouts when they make a claim, surrender their policy or when the policy matures. It was also his opinion that the current structure would weaken our financial position in the long term. NTUC Income would become increasingly less competitive and be unable to meet or protect policyholders’ interests.

Bonus policy and bonus declarations are serious matters subject to the highest level of corporate governance. Principles of bonus policy are approved by the Board of Directors. MAS regulations set out clear requirements for these.

From as early as August 2006, NTUC Income’s Board of Directors recognised that the financial position of NTUC Income needed to be strengthened. Starting in the second quarter of 2007, much research, discussion and debate took place within the management team and in August 2007, this issue was extensively discussed at the Board level. This continued until February 2008, when a decision was taken to re-structure the bonus scale.

Local and global industry practices were considered and we were convinced that the bonus re-structure is in the best interest of policyholders.

I would like to bring your attention to the following salient points.
  1. The bonus re-structure is the right decision and our position on it remains unchanged.
  2. We will not be giving an option to policyholders to remain in the old structure.
  3. The old structure was not sustainable and will undermine our ability to deliver total returns, which are ultimately more important to policyholders.
  4. There is now a better chance for NTUC Income to not only deliver returns as illustrated to policyholders, but to deliver even better returns.
  5. The new structure will reduce the likelihood of the bonus cuts that we had witnessed in the past.
  6. This bonus re-structure will strengthen the life fund for the increased security of all.
  7. Shareholders do not benefit from this re-structure, except to see a strengthened NTUC Income.
We engaged Mr Nick Dumbreck, the President of the Institute of Actuaries and a Consultant with the global financial management firm, Watson Wyatt, for a professional and independent opinion.

His professional opinion was that the bonus re-structure was sound and the right thing for NTUC Income. He categorically stated that our old annual bonus was too high given the bond returns available in our market.

However, I do want to address some of the concerns raised.
  1. We will work always with customers’ interests at heart. Every decision we take is calculated to protect their interests individually and as a whole. What we seek to do is to deliver the best possible returns to policyholders, now and also in the future.
  2. Although special bonuses are not guaranteed, they are set to ensure that the reduction in annual bonus is fully compensated. Where the strength of the Fund and investment outlook permits, this will continue in future. Should this compensatory special bonus reduce in future due to poor investment conditions, we are committed to restoration when conditions improve.
  3. We will ensure that the bonus allocated to policyholders result in payouts which are fair and consistent with the experience of the fund.
Above quoted from website:
http://www.income.com.sg/

My personal concern is if they were to cut 5% bonus to 1.3%, the reduced 3.7% bonus with compound interest taken away can be quite substantial.

SMRT Finally Replied After 6 Days

On 25th May Sunday, I emailed SMRT to clarify how train fare is calculated. In the email, I questioned why it is more expensive for journeys of fewer stops. After having waited for 3 working days without a reply, I decided to forward the same email to LTA. LTA replied me the very next day saying the ball should be on SMRT side and SMRT is to reply me. LTA can only forward my email to them. On the 4th day, I re-send same email to SMRT again hoping for a reply.

After a long 6 days of waiting, SMRT finally replied me and I quote them below:

"Thank you for your email.

Basically, train fare is calculated based on the distance travelled, not by number of stations.

We will revert to you again with more information."

I replied them almost immediately with the below:

"Your reply telling me train fare is calculated based on distance travelled has really left me even more puzzled. What I know is I need an additional 20 minutes of travelling time when travelling between Ang Mo Kio and Buona Vista as compared to Admiralty and Buona Vista. However, Admiralty to Buona Vista is more expensive than the former.

I shall await your detailed explanation on train fare calculation."

I wonder how much longer will I have to wait for a reply this time round. It seems SMRT replied my email only after LTA forwarded my email to them. Is it because LTA carries more weight than a mere commuter?

My email to them
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/smrt-train-fair-structure-leaves-me.html

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