Friday, October 31, 2008

Employment Situation in Third Quarter 2008

Employment

Preliminary estimates show that employment grew by 57,800 in the third quarter this year. This was lower than the gains of 71,400 in the preceding quarter and 58,600 in the third quarter of 2007.

Retrenchment

Preliminary estimates show that 2,000 workers were retrenched in the third quarter of 2008, up from 1,798 in the previous quarter and 1,827 in the third quarter of 2007.

Employment Situation in Third Quarter 2008 [via]

Motorola's Struggle For Survival

The iconic American technology company Motorola is in big trouble. But can a last ditch effort by a new top executive help the company pull one of the biggest comebacks in American business history?

Motorola's struggle for survival [via]

Wubi - Ubuntu Installer

Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click. Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu as any other Windows application, in a simple and safe way. Are you curious about Linux and Ubuntu? Trying them out has never been easier!

Wubi is perfect if you are not familiar with partitions and do not wish to mess with it. Ubuntu latest version 8.10 has just been released.

Wubi [via]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Alan Greenspan 看走眼 Folly

30 Oct 2008 MyPaper 我报 has an article on former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, previous quotes on his wrong decisions that could have resulted in the current financial turmoil. He must have wished he never said those. I quote the article "Greenspan 看走眼" below.

“Improvements in lending practices driven by information technology have enabled lenders to reach out to households with previously unrecognised borrowing capacities.” - October 2004

“Even though some down payments are borrowed, it would take a large and histroically most unusual fall in home prices to wipe out a significant part of home equity. Many of those who purchased their residence more than a year ago have equity buffers in their homes adequate to withstand any price decline other than a very deep one.” - October 2004

“The use of a growing array of derivatives and the related application of more sophisticated approaches to measureing and managing risk are key factors underpinning the greater resilience of our largest financial institutions. Derivatives have permitted the unbundling of finanical risks.” - May 2005

Invest Is the Right Way to Fight Inflation

I quote from 30 Oct 2008 copy of MyPaper 我报 titled "Are stocks cheap now? Not really". The below is from Mr Bogle, founder of the investment firm Vanguard Group, whose low-cost index funds have made a lot for a lot of people.

There are some reasons to be optimistic about stocks, he added and that he also looks at the alternatives.

Savings accounts and money-market funds will struggle to keep pace with inflation. Bonds may, as well.

Stocks, however, are paying an average dividend of about 3 per cent, and stocks are almost certain to rise over the next couply of decades.

If that is your time frame - decades - this will probably turn out to be a perfectly good buying opportunity.

In the shorter term, though, it's a much tougher call, and it involves a lot of risk.

Gantt Charts in Google Docs Spreadsheets

As announced on Google Docs official blog, it is now possible to add a Gantt chart onto Google Docs spreadsheet. This is made possible by adding a gadget from Viewpath.

Recently, the Google Docs team started working with Viewpath, a company dedicated to providing project management solutions. In keeping with this commitment, they recently added a Gantt chart gadget to the spreadsheets platform. Here on the Docs team, we're thrilled to have this top-notch external developer contributing their expertise, and adding value to Google Docs. To introduce this gadget, we're happy to have Dean Carlson here as guest blogger. Dean is CEO ofViewpath, and helped in the development of Docs' Gantt chart gadget.

For instructions on how to add the Viewpath gadget, view the below video.

Gantt charts in Google Docs spreadsheets [via]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Classic Conversion of Infix to Postfix

I was doing a quick search on my name on Google and found quite a number of search results. One of them being a September 2002 posting on Experts-Exchange to help answer a C Programming question regarding conversion from Infix to Postfix notation.

The code snippet I posted below is exactly the same one I posted in year 2002. The same code was used during my Diploma days at Singapore Polytechnic.
/*****************************/
/* Programmer : Loh Hon Chun */
/* Adm No     : 9852152  */
/* Class  : 3A07     */
/* Description: Practical 3  */
/*****************************/

/*************************************************************/
/*************************************************************/
/*         ASSUMING INFIX EXPRESSION         */
/*             IS VALID          */
/*          !!!!!!!!          */
/*************************************************************/
/*************************************************************/

/* include necessary preprocessor header files */
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <ctype.h>

/* constants */
#define TRUE 1
#define FALSE 0

/* structure for stack */
typedef struct
{
    char data[20];  /* array to hold stack contents */
    int tos;    /* top of the stack pointer */
} STACK;


/* function prototypes */
void initStack(STACK *stack);
void get_infix(char infix[]);
void convertToPostfix(char infix[], char postfix[]);
int isOperator(char c);
int precedence(char operator1, char operator2);
int pred_level(char ch);
void push(STACK *stack, char value);
char pop(STACK *stack);
char stackTop(STACK *stack);
int isEmpty(STACK *stack);
int isFull(STACK *stack);
void printResult(char infix[], char postfix[]);
void print_msg(void);

/* program entry point */
int main(void)
{
    char infix[20], postfix[20]="";

    /* convert from infix to postfix main function */
    convertToPostfix(infix, postfix);
    /* display the postfix equivalent */
    infix[strlen(infix)-2] = '\0';
    printResult(infix, postfix);

    return EXIT_SUCCESS;
}

/* initalise the stack */
void initStack(STACK *stack)
{
    stack->tos = -1;  /* stack is initially empty */
}

/* get infix expression from user */
void get_infix(char infix[])
{
    int i;

    printf("Enter infix expression below (max 18 characters excluding spaces) : \n");
    fflush(stdin);
    /* to read in only 18 characters excluding spaces */
    for ( i=0; i<18; )
    {
        if ( (infix[i] = getchar()) == '\n' )
        {
            i++;
            break;
        }
        else if ( !(isspace(infix[i])) )
            i++;
    }

    infix[i] = '\0';
}

/* convert the infix expression to postfix notation */
void convertToPostfix(char infix[], char postfix[])
{
    int i, length;
    int j=0;
    char tos_ch;
    STACK stack;

    initStack(&stack); /* initialise stack */
    get_infix(infix);  /* get infix expression from user */
    length = strlen(infix);

    /* if strlen if infix is more than zero */
    if ( length )
    {  
        push(&stack, '(');
        strcat(infix, ")");
        length++;

        for ( i=0; i<length; i++ )
        {
            /* if current operator in infix is digit */
            if ( isdigit(infix[i]) )
            {
                postfix[j++] = infix[i];
            }
            /* if current operator in infix is left parenthesis */
            else if ( infix[i] == '(' )
            {
                push(&stack, '(');
            }
            /* if current operator in infix is operator */
            else if ( isOperator(infix[i]) )
            {
                while ( TRUE )
                {
                    /* get tos */
                    tos_ch = stackTop(&stack);

                    /* no stack left */
                    if ( tos_ch == '\0' )
                    {
                        printf("\nInvalid infix expression\n");
                        print_msg();
                        exit(1);
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        if ( isOperator(tos_ch) )
                        {
                            if ( pred_level(tos_ch) >= pred_level(infix[i]) )
                                postfix[j++] = pop(&stack);
                            else
                                break;
                        }
                        else
                            break;
                    }
                }
                push(&stack, infix[i]);
            }
            /* if current operator in infix is right parenthesis */
            else if ( infix[i] == ')' )
            {
                while ( TRUE )
                {
                    /* get tos */
                    tos_ch = stackTop(&stack);

                    /* no stack left */
                    if ( tos_ch == '\0' )
                    {
                        printf("\nInvalid infix expression\n");
                        print_msg();
                        exit(1);
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        if ( tos_ch != '(' )
                        {
                            postfix[j++] = tos_ch;
                            pop(&stack);
                        }
                        else
                        {
                            pop(&stack);
                            break;
                        }
                    }
                }
                continue;
            }
        }
    }

    postfix[j] = '\0';
}

/* determine if c is an operator */
int isOperator(char c)
{
    if ( c == '+' || c == '-' || c == '*' ||
        c == '/' || c == '%' || c == '^' )
    {
        return TRUE;
    }
    else
        return FALSE;
}

/* determine precedence level */
int pred_level(char ch)
{
    if ( ch == '+' || ch == '-' )
        return 1;
    else if ( ch == '^' )
        return 3;
    else
        return 2;
}

/* determine if the precedence of operator1 is less than,
equal to, greater than the precedence of operator2 */
int precedence(char operator1, char operator2)
{
    if ( pred_level(operator1) > pred_level(operator2) )
        return 1;
    else if ( pred_level(operator1) < pred_level(operator2) )
        return -1;
    else
        return 0;
}

/* push a value on the stack */
void push(STACK *stack, char value)
{
    if ( !(isFull(stack)) )
    {
        (stack->tos)++;
        stack->data[stack->tos] = value;
    }
}

/* pop a value off the stack */
char pop(STACK *stack)
{
    char ch;

    if ( !(isEmpty(stack)) )
    {
        ch = stack->data[stack->tos];
        (stack->tos)--;
        return ch;
    }
    else
        return '\0';
}

/* return the top value of the stack without popping the stack */
char stackTop(STACK *stack)
{
    if ( !(isEmpty(stack)) )
        return stack->data[stack->tos];
    else
        return '\0';
}

/* determine if stack is empty */
int isEmpty(STACK *stack)
{
    /* empty */
    if ( stack->tos == -1 )
        return TRUE;
    /* not empty */
    else
        return FALSE;
}

/* determine if stack is full */
int isFull(STACK *stack)
{
    /* full */
    if ( stack->tos == 19 )
        return TRUE;
    /* not full */
    else
        return FALSE;
}

/* display the result postfix expression */
void printResult(char infix[], char postfix[])
{
    /*system("cls");*/
    printf("\n\n");
    printf("Infix notation  : %s\n", infix);
    printf("Postfix notation: %s\n\n", postfix);
    print_msg();
}

/* print exit message */
void print_msg(void)
{
    printf("Hit <return> to exit......");
    fflush(stdin);
    getchar();
}

Maybank S$100 Cash Credit Promotion for All Credit Cards

Maybank recently launched an attractive Credit Card promotion. If you were to sign up for a Maybank Credit Card before 31 December 2008, you will be able to enjoy a S$100 cash credit credited into your account when you make your first card spend within a month of receiving your Card. This is exclusive to new applicants.

I have a comment on this latest promotion. If you were to scrutinise through individual Terms and Conditions (T&C) for each card, you will notice eCard Platinum and eCard Vibes cards have a special clause. These 2 credit cards have a hidden clause in their T&C that says cardholder will incur a S$10 quarterly service fee unless there is at least one transaction of any amount being made within the 3 months window.

What will you be getting?
  • You will be entitled a one-time S$100 cash credit credited into your account. This will be printed and confirmed on your first bill statement. T&C says you must make at least one transaction of any amount within a month of receiving your card.
What should you do?

My advice to you are as below:
  • Spend a very small amount within a month receiving your card. I suggest you buy necessities or buy stationery from Popular Bookstore. Popular Bookstore allows customers to pay by credit card irregardless of the cash amount of your purchase i.e. even an eraser can be paid using credit card.
  • Stop once you have made the first transaction.
  • Wait for the first bill statement to confirm if Maybank really credit S$100 into your account.
  • The moment you received your first bill and if S$100 is credited into your account, S$100 is yours.
  • Do note that annual fee waiver is not life time and it is your responsibility to monitor and pay the fee should you wish to continue using it, terminate or get it waived early before your annual fee kicks in.
If you are interested in applying for eCard Platinum or eCard Vibes, do remember there is a quarterly service fee unless you make at least 1 transaction per quarter. If applied either one of the 2 cards "accidentally", there is nothing to fear. You may either pay the S$10 service charge or use the card once every quarter to avoid the service charge. S$10 isn't a big deal since it is a mere amount as compared to the S$100 you have already received earlier. Living in a practical world like Singapore, simply terminate the card after you got the S$100 cash credit.

What does it imply when you have received the S$100 cash credit? This implies you have made at least one transaction in the first 3 months upon receiving your card which means you will not be "caught" in the S$10 service charge. This practically gives you 2 quarters (6 months) minus 1 month of buffer period for you to "react".

Last word of advice: Practise prudence and stay disciplined in managing your finances.

Maybank Credit Cards [via]

89 Ways for You to Become the Coolest Programmer in the World

Effectize offers 89 tips on how to become the coolest programmer in the world. The full list consisting of 89 tips is very comprehensive and will take quite some time to read and digest. If you are lacking in one or more of the 89 tips, this does not make you not a cool developer, at least in my opinion.

If you think you can, you can.

89 Ways for You to Become the Coolest Programmer in the World [via]

Microsoft Office Now On Web

Microsoft has finally pushed Office on the web. They call it Microsoft Ofice Live Workspace Beta

From the official site, the below are the things you can do with Office Live Workspace and it is all free!

Access files from anywhere
  • Access documents from almost any computer with a Web browser
  • No more flash drives—documents are there when and where you need them
  • Password-protected sharing; you control who can view and edit your work
Work with programs you know
  • Save over 1,000 Microsoft Office documents in one online place
  • Open and save files from familiar programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Synchronize contact, task, and event lists with Outlook
Microsoft Ofice Live Workspace Beta [via]

Windows 7 Walkthrough, Boot Video and Impressions

Gizmodo has an article on the upcoming Windows 7. To know more of the new Windows, read below.

Windows 7 Walkthrough, Boot Video and Impressions [via]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MayBank iSavvy Savings and StandChart e$aver Interest Rates

MayBank has just revised their iSavvy Savings Account interest rates. All previous revisions since launch were rate-cuts but this time round, it is an increase. The latest revised interest rates for deposits between S$5,000 and S$50,000 is now 1.08% p.a. from previous 0.88% p.a. effective from 20 October 2008.

iSAVvy's competitor Standard Chartered's e$aver is still offering at 0.50% p.a. for deposits less than S$50,000.

My previous post on e$aver and iSavvy [via]

Load Gmail in Various Modes

Below article reveals the many different methods to load Gmail in case you are unable to. You can choose to load in the lightest mode without JavaScript or mobile version.

Gmail Modes [via]

Value of a Degree

I am writing to comment on today's value in getting a Bachelor's, Honour and Master degrees.

More than 6 years ago, the conventional way of getting a Bachelor's or Honour degree is from a local university, either National University of Singapore (NUS) or Nanyang Technological University (NTU), or from an overseas university. Getting into a local university was quite an achievement those days especially for those from polytechnics because only the top 5% of entire cohort are allowed into local universities. Getting into and graduated from local universities were proud for many.

The current situation is a lot different. Instead of having 2 local universities, we are now seeing 3. Instead of top 5% of poly cohort able to get into local universities, this number is now higher. For those not able to get into local universities or those prefer to choose another route, Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) option is now available. I heard of someone having got a Bachelor's degree part-time in just one year. To get a Master degree, you can now do it with Informatics in just 1 year with no exams.

It looks to me those opting for local universities are at a disadvantage in terms of age and working experience. A male with a diploma is now able to get a Bachelor's degree plus 1 year of working experience at 23 years of age.

You can take my comment as being subjective.

3 Land Investment Companies in Malaysia Raided

An article from the Malaysian Bar mentioned three land investment companies were raided by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). These companies were UK Land International (M) Sdn Bhd, Profitable Plots Sdn Bhd and Edgeworth Properties (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. They are suspected of offering investments in illegal land investment schemes.

More than 2 months ago, I posted an article on Land Banking. I have got no experience in this area of investment but at least I believe one should invest in something that is not structured, transparent and something you are familiar.

I notice Profitable Plots has been quite aggressive in marketing U.K. lands in Singapore. Not only are they doing road shows, they are making TV ads appearances as well. I do not wish to comment on this form of investments but I thought the Singapore government should ensure they are safe and legal.

Companies Commission raids three companies over illegal land investments [via]

Land Banking - Read This First [via]

Monday, October 27, 2008

How to Add a Google Gadget to Your Blog?

Blogger Help has posted a video on YouTube to demonstrate adding of Google Gadgets onto your Blogger blog.

What is Caveat Emptor?

Caveat emptor is Latin for "Let the buyer beware".

Definition of Caveat Emptor from Wikipedia [via]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pay Comparison Between Singapore and Hong Kong Ministers

According to a 9 Jun 2008 source, there was an outcry on Hong Kong government over fat pay packets. The highest paid of all was said to be their Chief Executive Donald Tsang HK$334,758 (S$58,400) per month or S$700,800 per year.

From a 9 Apr 2007 source, Singapore ministers were said to get an exaggerating fat 60 percent pay hike. This hike was justified by the Singapore government as deemed necessary to keep pace with the private sector. With that, Singapore ministers will get an average of S$1.9 million a year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is said to be receiving S$3.1 million which will be five times the US$400,000 that U.S. president George Bush earns.

Singapore ministers get 60 pct pay hike to S$1.9 mln [via]

HK govt faces outcry over fat pay packets [via]

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew on "Assortative Mating"

According to Wikipedia,

Assortative mating (also called assortative pairing) takes place when sexually reproducing organisms tend to mate with individuals that are like themselves in some respect (positive assortative mating) or dissimilar (negative assortative mating). In evolution, these two types of assortative mating have the effect, respectively, of reducing and increasing the range of variation, or trait variance, when the assorting is cued on heritable traits. Positive assortative mating, therefore, results in disruptive natural selection, and negative assortative mating results in stabilizing natural selection.

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew recently touched on his definition on "Assortative Mating" in Singapore Human Capital Summit 2008.

MM Lee comments:

“That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you worry about whether or not your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!”

I personally do not agree with MM Lee's above comment.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Worm Found that Takes Advantage of Microsoft Latest Vulnerability

Just one day after a serious vulnerability [MS08-067] on Microsoft Windows that was so critical that Microsoft had to release a security patch ahead of its usual monthly automatic update schedule was found, hackers have taken advantage of it and come out with a worm. The new worm is named Gimmiv. That is just how fast hackers work.

Urgent Windows Security Patch Released [via]

New worm feeds on latest Microsoft bug [via]

Wishing for Emoticons Enabled Signature for Gmail

2 days ago, Gmail allowed the use of emoticons when composing email messages. Below are some suggestions I hope Gmail can add on.
  • Allow the use of emoticons in Signature
  • Allow the use of shortcuts to add emoticons
I believe my above suggestions can help improve overall user experience to quite an extent.

Panic Grips Investor Psyche In World Markets

Asian markets plunged again on 24 Oct 2008 after fear of a global recession. The numbers below are scary.

U.S. (24 Oct 2008)
Dow Jones IA        Down 312.30 (3.59%)
Nasdaq Composite Down 31.34 (3.45%)
S&P 500 Down 51.88 (3.23)
Asia / Pacific (24 Oct 2008)
All Ordinaries      Down 107.70   (2.73%)
Shanghai Composite Down 35.94 (1.92%)
Hang Seng Down 1,142.11 (8.30%)
BSE 30 Down 1,070.63 (10.96%)
Jakarta Composite Down 92.34 (6.91%)
Nikkei 225 Down 811.90 (9.60%)
NZSE 50 Down 28.79 (1.03%)
Straits Times Down 145.39 (8.33%)
Seoul Composite Down 110.96 (10.57%)
Taiwan Weighted Down 150.89 (3.19%)

Comments on Electricity Tariff Hike by The Electric New Paper

On 1 Oct 2008, the Singapore government announced a 21% electricity tariff hike despite Singapore Power reported more than S$1 billion net profit after taxation.

I posted an earlier post last month on Singapore Power and the local power generation companies profitability. They are public utilities companies and should be for-people instead of for-profit. The Singapore government could have done better like the Hong Kongers. Hong Kong instead of increasing electricity tariff, they lower theirs!

Singapore still has a long way to go.

Why 20% hike despite $1 billion profit? [via]

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gmail Emoticons Unveiled

Finally, adding emoticons using Gmail is now possible. This option is loaded automatically to all users who are using rich-text mode when composing email messages.

Do note that there are two page tabs filled with emoticons. Enjoy!

Urgent Windows Security Patch Released

It's time to update your Windows again. A major security vulnerability is unveiled in the Windows Server Service. This vulnerability applies to Windows XP, 2000, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Vista. The bug exposes one's computer to remote code execution and an intruder is able to wreak havoc without your doing anything.

Microsoft Security considers this vulnerability critical and serious enough to release the patch immediately to public instead of waiting for their normal monthly patch on a Tuesday. Microsoft recommends that customers apply the update immediately.

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 – Critical [via]

Monthly Manufacturing Performance - September 2008

As released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) Singapore, manufacturing output in September 2008 grew 2.4% compared with the same month last year. However, cumulative manufacturing output for the first nine months of the year shrank 1.9% compared with the same period last year.

Monthly Manufacturing Performance - September 2008 [via]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Convert PDF to Word Online for FREE

There is now a way to convert PDF files to Word format online and all these are FREE.

PDFUNdo.net is a free online PDF to Word converter. It's real simple to use and doesn't require your email address or registration. You just upload your PDF document and when the conversion is complete, download your Word document.

Free Online PDF to Word Conversions [via]

CPI for September 2008 at 6.7%

Singapore's consumer price index (CPI) in September 2008 rose 6.7% as compared to the same month of 2007. October's CPI could be higher than September's due to increase in electricity tariff and zero appreciation of the Singapore dollar. We shall wait next month for October's report.

From current inflationary figures, inflation rate is not going to ease as wished.

Consumer Price Index for September 2008 [via]

Bill Gates Has Started a New Company, bgC3

After stepping down as Chief Software Architect of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates has started a new company, called bgC3. The aim of the new company still remains unknown but speculators are speculating bgC3 could possibly act as a catalyst creating catalyst business ideas to spin off to Microsoft, the Gates Foundation or elsewhere. Gates' move is particularly secretive in the sense and no public website is created for it yet.

Bill Gates' mysterious new company [via]

Help for Minibond Investors

Maybank, Hong Leong Finance and DBS will to pay compensation with the 'highly vulnerable', including the elderly and less educated, heading the queue.

And those who do not fall into this category also had hopeful news on Wednesday when the MAS announced that two international institutions may take over the Minibond programme and let them run their course.

Help for Minibond Investors [via]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Advanced IP Scanner

Advanced IP Scanner is a fast, robust and easy-to-use IP scanner for Windows. It easily lets you have various types of information about local network computers in a few seconds! Advanced IP Scanner gives you one-click access to many useful functions - remote shutdown and wake up, Radmin integration and more! Powered with multithread scan technology, this program can scan hundreds computers per second, allowing you to scan 'C' or even 'B' class network even from your modem connection.

Advanced IP Scanner [via]

Gmail to Move Previously Auto-Added Contacts Out

Approximately 3 months ago, Gmail announced decision to stop automatically adding contacts to your contacts whom you may not even know who they are. Now, they have gone one step further. According to a post on Gmail blog, previously auto-added contacts will be moved into Suggested Contacts.

As part of this change, we're moving previously auto-added contacts back into Suggested Contacts. Only contacts that you've edited, imported or added to a group will remain in My Contacts. This will provide everyone with a clean slate and, we hope, a better point for syncing contacts with mobile devices (for example with Android). We'll be rolling this change out to everyone over the next few days.

More changes to Gmail contact manager [via]

Lehman Minibonds Prospectus Is a Lengthy 84 Pages Document

Many Singapore investors have lost life savings or retirement funds buying Lehman minibonds thinking they are safe but in fact were the other way round.

If you are curious to read the prospectus, you may do so from here. A warning to you is that the prospectus is a thick lengthy 84 pages document, filled with several business terms and jargon which are not easy to be understood by retail investors.

Minibonds 84 pages prospectus [via]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prudential, MetLife Shares Fall On Writedown Fears

Both Prudential and MetLife are now trading at quite cheaply as compared to months ago. A recent reduced ratings by Goldman Sachs is going to make their outlook even more bleak.

Prudential, MetLife shares fall on write-down fears [via]

Warren Buffett Investment Tips - Buy American. I Am.

Op-Ed Contributor
Buy American. I Am.

By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: October 16, 2008

THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

Why?

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

A little history here: During the Depression, the Dow hit its low, 41, on July 8, 1932. Economic conditions, though, kept deteriorating until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By that time, the market had already advanced 30 percent. Or think back to the early days of World War II, when things were going badly for the United States in Europe and the Pacific. The market hit bottom in April 1942, well before Allied fortunes turned. Again, in the early 1980s, the time to buy stocks was when inflation raged and the economy was in the tank. In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

You might think it would have been impossible for an investor to lose money during a century marked by such an extraordinary gain. But some investors did. The hapless ones bought stocks only when they felt comfort in doing so and then proceeded to sell when the headlines made them queasy.

Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

I don’t like to opine on the stock market, and again I emphasize that I have no idea what the market will do in the short term. Nevertheless, I’ll follow the lead of a restaurant that opened in an empty bank building and then advertised: “Put your mouth where your money was.” Today my money and my mouth both say equities.

Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.

Buy American. I Am. [via]

Fundamental Practices for Secure Software Development

SAFECode released a document entitled, "Fundamental Practices for Secure Software Development". The 22 pages document is aimed at helping software producers create more secure software.

The document (pdf) can be downloaded directly here.

SAFECode releases "Fundamental Practices for Secure Software Development" document [via]

MAS Stance On Sale of Structured Investment Products

A couple of days ago, Minister for Trade and Industry and Deputy Chairman of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Mr Lim Hng Kiang, made a speech on MAS stance on the sale of structured investment products that have caused so much anxiety and anger in the Singapore community.

From a Straits Times article,

Mr Lim also said that if the issue is taken to court, 'nothing will move' amid the legal wrangling.

All financial institutions, everybody will freeze and take legal defensive actions and then your affected investors will have to wait weeks if not months, maybe even years before they can have recourse. I don't think that's the best approach.

The Minister said that the product's prospectus would have outlined the risks: 'These are explained in the first page or second page , that these are structured products and it's in bold print, that you can lose everything.

So MAS has never said that these are risk-free products or low-risk products or safe products.

Opposition MP Low Thia Kiang has his say:

The Minister's answers sound like the MAS shouting across the river, while watching a fire burning

I have a feeling that if a general election is to be held now, the opposition should be able to perform better as compared to the last election. Confidence for the current cabinet is falling.


Be more 'proactive', MAS [via]

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Master of Computing Application Accepted

After 2 months of wait, my Master of Computing (MComp) application is now approved. The specialization I have applied for is Information Technology Project Management (ITPM). MComp is offered by National University of Singapore, School of Computing. This is a 2 years part time programme.

As a "kiasu" Singaporean, I also applied for Master of Technology (MTech) offered by National University of Singapore, Institute of Systems Science. The specialization I have applied for is Software Engineering (SE). This is a 2.5 years part time programme. Though result of this application is yet to be released, I am pretty confident of it being approved since its selection criteria is less stringent.

I personally prefer MTech more to MComp.

One Milestone Down And More to Go

I was pretty busy for the past 1 week preparing for today's examination on ITIL v3 Foundation. Finally, I am now ITIL v3 Foundation certified.

From tomorrow onwards, I shall be moving on to clear my many planned milestones for the year. Recalling my Java skills followed by brushing up on UML and Windows Mobile development are my immediate priorities.

My milestones though tight are definitely achievable.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Prudential and Aviva May Need to Raise Capital

After substantial losses in share prices, giant UK insurers, Prudential and Aviva, may need to call on their shareholders to boost their finances. Both of their surpluses are depleting extraordinarily quick.

Prudential and Aviva bear brunt as cash call fears hit insurers [via]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Comment On MAS Actions On Current Mini-bonds Issue

I quote a comment posted on a blog below. It shows how a Singaporean impression on the present government.

I think Singaporeans had faith in our govt all these years. This is the reason why they have always gotten over sixty percent of the votes.

It is also very clear that our obedience and preference for leaving it to our govt to do the best is not working very well. For example, I saw on TVBJ, a HK channel, how the HK governor spoke so convincingly and so strongly for the people, demanding that the banks hurry up to respond while here in Singapore the common folks are asking MAS to hurry up without a response. I conclude therefore that having highly paid officers is not the answer to an effective administration or govt but rather a balanced representation in parliament is. I saw how opposition legislators pressured the administration for results and how the common people are able to protest and get things done faster. Here, we just silently obey and get nothing, not even more good years as promised but escalating prices led by NTUC Income, NTUC comfort and other NTUC affiliates. Even our electricity bills are increased while in HK GST and electricity tariffs are reduced. All this is happening not in a golden period but in a deflationary period. It obviously shows that our govt actions are not working correctly and the our lives are not improving but deterioriating.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Singapore Government to Guarantee All SingDollar and Foreign Deposits

The Singapore government has announced decision to guarantee all Sing dollar and foreign currencies deposits in a recent press release. All along, the Singapore government has emphasized unnecessary of a full guarantee because the local banking and finance industry is sound and robust. Their decision as announced today is indeed shocking to me.

I quote an excerpt of the press release from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) site and highlighted some of my interest.

4. In the last week, several jurisdictions have taken extraordinary measures to stabilise financial markets and restart the flow of credit. In particular, recent plans by the European and US Governments to recapitalise their banking systems and guarantee bank borrowings in the wholesale markets have improved confidence.

5. Singapore has not had to undertake similar extraordinary measures, in view of the continuing stability and orderly functioning of the Singapore banking system. However, the announcement by a few jurisdictions in the region of Government guarantees for bank deposits has set off a dynamic that puts pressure on other jurisdictions to respond or else risk disadvantaging and potentially weakening their own financial institutions and financial sectors. This is why although Singapore’s banking system continues to be sound and resilient, the Government has decided to take precautionary action to avoid an erosion of banks’ deposit base and ensure a level international playing field for banks in Singapore.

Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Joint Press Statement [via]

Structured Products Saga to Resolve Quickly Else

The current structured investment products saga that have resulted in many including retirees losing substantial amount of life savings and retirement funds is certainly not going to help the image of the current Singapore government. If no reasonable or satisfactory resolution is agreed in regards to compensation to investors, confidence in the current regulatory body, government, banks and financial institutions are to drop.

I hope the Monetary Authority of Singapore can take more affirmative steps like their Hong Kong counterparts in handling this issue. I have read many from online cyberspaces voicing their displeasure.

We need the leadership of MAS badly.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3.1 Beta 1 Released

Yesterday, Mozilla released Firefox 3.1 Beta. To use the beta version, one has to install the new package.

PortableApps.com has unveiled a portable version of Firefox 3.1 beta. With the portable version, there is no need to perform any installation. To run, one needs to simply run the executable and bring Firefox along with you together with your bookmarks. This will not going to affect your existing Firefox installation.

I shall be trying out this portable version instead of the one from Firefox website.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3.1 Beta 1 Released [via]
Firefox 3.1 Beta Released [via]

Hong Kong Chief Executive Talks Tough On Minibonds

Today, the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, has voiced his concerns over the handling of mini-bonds by banks. His statement over this issue is very strong and has demanded banks to reply by this week. He appears to have lost his patience.

The Hong Kong chief executive appears to be losing his patience with banks over their handling of mini-bonds linked to bankrupt US bank Lehman Brothers - insisting they respond swiftly to a government buy-back proposal and warning the administration may fund legal action by mini-bond investors."They cannot keep dragging on," he said in a strongly worded message after delivering his policy address.

Mr Donald toughness over the banks has gained my admiration. He has exhibited his leadership and putting his ordinary men and women top priority. In comparison with Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) does not seem to have reacted in a way I would like them to be. Till date, MAS and banks in Singapore have not made progress in coming out with a settlement. I bet the world is watching how countries like Hong Kong and Singapore are handling this mini-bonds issue.

I am terribly disappointed with Monetary Authority of Singapore.

HK Chief Executive talks tough on mini-bonds [via]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Internet Usage Helps Stimulates Brain

Scientists have concluded usage of Internet would stimulate brain activity and serve as a potential benefit for middle-aged and older adults.

The team of researchers reached the conclusion that as long as we keep the brain stimulated with activities, we should be able to prevent it from losing its cognitive ability and help it preserve its health. The Internet seems to be the new crossword puzzle for adults, and this is just the beginning, as scientists now start to understand more of the benefits of technology on an aging brain.

That's good news!

Internet – The Stimulus That Keeps The Aging Brain Active [via]

SGX Daily Trading Value Down 51.1%

According to the latest statement released by Singapore Exchange CEO, Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, daily average trading value for this quarter decline by 51.1% to $1.3 billion.

Download release here.

Firefox 3.1 Beta Released

Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 is based on the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 6 months. Gecko 1.9.1 is an incremental release on the previous version with significant changes to improve web compatibility, performance, and ease of use:
  • Web standards improvements in the Gecko layout engine
  • Added support for CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 properties
  • A new tab-switching shortcut that shows previews of the tab you're switching to
  • Improved control over the Smart Location Bar using special characters to restrict your search
  • Support for new web technologies such as the
New Firefox beta even faster than FF3
http://www.download.com/8301-2007_4-10066397-12.html

Firefox 3.1 Beta Release Notes
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/3.1b1/releasenotes/

Mozilla, Ajaxian Partner to Create Developer Tools

Mozilla this week hired Ajaxian co-founders Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith to head up a new group that will focus on the creation of developer tools for the open Web.

From the below article, we could be seeing developer tools that are easier to use when developing compelling software. Details on the coming project is set to be released in the coming weeks.

Mozilla, Ajaxian Partner to Create Developer Tools
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2332465,00.asp

U.S. Government to Invest in 9 Major Banks

Yesterday morning, the U.S. government announced plans to buy stakes in 9 major banks to calm market. The government will directly invest up to US$250 billion in banks, and to guarantee new debt issued by banks for the next three years.

Half of the US$250 billion, which will come from the US$700 billion bailout approved by Congress weeks ago, will be received by Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York and State Street Bank.

Money Distribution

US$25 billion apiece
• Citigroup
• JPMorgan Chase
• Wells Fargo

US$12.5 billion apiece
• Bank of America
• Merrill Lynch

US$10 billion apiece
• Goldman Sachs
• Morgan Stanley

US$2-3 billion apiece
• Bank of New York
• State Street

One word to describe Google Reader

Official Google Reader blog made a post on how users describe the experience in using Google Reader. There were some rather interesting but not easy to figure out what they really meant. Some of these are like Wunderbar, Cromulent, creamy-goodness and Pineapple.

If I were to give my one word to describe Google Reader, Mouse-Free would be proper since I hardly use my mouse when using Google Reader.

One word to describe Google Reader...
http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2008/10/one-word-to-describe-google-reader.html

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

RBS, HBOS and Lloyds TSB Nationalised

ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS), HBOS and Lloyds TSB, three of Britain's leading banks, have effectively been nationalised after the British government announced plans to take significant stake in these 3 banks to "save" them.


The picture above tells all on the stake.

Follow My Blog

If you are following my blog, you can do so by clicking on "Follow this blog" link found at the right panel.

Monday, October 13, 2008

HTC G1 Android Phone Already Secured 1.5 Million Pre-orders

With HTC G1 smartphone launch months back, it is set to be the first smartphone with the new Google Android OS.

According to eFluxMedia, HTC G1 Android phone has already received 1.5 million pre-orders. This figure is very much more than what the makers have wished for initially.

HTC G1 Android Phone Racks Up 1.5 Million Pre-orders
http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_HTC_G1_Android_Phone_Racks_up_15_Million_Pre_orders_26425.html

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Beyond - 永遠懷念家駒

家強 - 海闊天空(眾星悼念家駒)

永遠懷念家駒

家駒 FOREVER

Beyond - 黄家驹 最后一次 LIVE (93年unplug)

Beyond - Selected Tracks

Beyond - 光輝歲月

Beyond - 海闊天空

Beyond - 喜歡你

How to Start a YouTube Video Anywhere You Desire

Ever wish to embed a YouTube video and start and seek to somewhere in the middle which is interesting? It is now possible by passing in a parameter to 2 parts of the flash code block.

The parameter to include is &start=[seconds to start from].

I used the below YouTube video on how it is working in Google as my example. The video will start from the 27th second, skipping the introduction part and going straight to the exciting part of the video. The code fragment I used to embed the video is as below:

Interesting Comment In Response to My Earlier Post On Minibonds

Below is a comment posted in response to my earlier post on "Hong Kong Minibond Buyback Proposal"

出納員是害人精,騙人定期存款去基金
財務顧問害人精,只顧避重就輕講基金
主管股東害人精,不顧屬下亂亂賣基金
當年部長是妖精,銀行開放機構亂賣金

Friday, October 10, 2008

Monetary Authority of Singapore to Ease Monetary Policy

In view of current weak GDP data, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has decided to ease the Singapore dollar (SGD) for the first time since 2003.

Unlike many other central banks who usually adjust key interest rate, the MAS manages the Singapore dollar in an undisclosed, unadjusted weighted average value of its currency relative to all major currencies being traded within a basket of currencies. This exchange rate, a.k.a. Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER), is to be shifted from the earlier gradual appreciation band to zero-appreciation, as announced by the MAS. MAS will maintain the current level of the policy band, with no re-centering of the band or change to its width. This act is to attempt to to slow the appreciation of Singapore dollar to support the export-driven economy.

10 Oct 2008 - MAS Monetary Policy Statement
http://www.mas.gov.sg/news_room/statements/2008/Monetary_Policy_Statement_10Oct08.html

What does S$NEER Stands for?
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-does-sneer-stands-for.html

Singapore 0.5% 3Q GDP Decline Brings Us to Recession

On 10 Oct 2008, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced that Singapore quarter-to-quarter GDP estimates for 3Q declined by 0.5%. As such, GDP for year 2008 is revised to a mere 3.0%.

This latest economic report effectively put Singapore into a technical recession.

MTI Revises 2008 Growth to Around 3.0 per cent
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20081010995.pdf

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Piles of Bank Notes Needed for Shopping in Zimbawe

On July 2008, the Zimbawe central bank introduced $100 billion banknotes in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages. A $100 billion banknote which is equivalent to 1 USD is now only enough to buy four oranges. With such hyperinflation happening, the number of people living in poverty must have increased at an alarming rate. Someone who is relatively rich can end up in poverty the next day. This reminds me of those days in Germany after WWI in 1923 whereby banknotes were so worthless that it was cheaper to burn them than buying firewood. That time, they also had banknotes that hit 100 billion mark.

Zimbabwe reported an inflation rate of 2,200,000 (2.2 million) percent. Buying even a small item will require you to bring piles of notes. This is exactly what is happening to Zimbawe at the moment.

I attach some interesting photos forwarded to me via email.

Zimbawe Introduces $100 Billion Dollar Notes After 2.2 Million Percent Inflation
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/07/zimbawe-introduces-100-billion-dollar.html

Gmail Labs Introduces Mail Goggles

Google strives to make the world's information useful. Mail you send late night on the weekends may be useful but you may regret it the next morning. Solve some simple math problems and you're good to go. Otherwise, get a good night's sleep and try again in the morning. After enabling this feature, you can adjust the schedule in the "General" settings page.

Google Gmail Labs introduces Mail Goggles to prevent you from sending emails you shouldn't have sent if you are sober enough. Mail Goggles can be enabled from Labs section under Settings.

I personally feel this new beta feature is useless and utterly waste of time and resources. If one is "drunk", simply don't email.

Google Goggles prevents EUI – emails under the influence
http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/39650/113/

New in Labs: Stop sending mail you later regret
http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/new-in-labs-stop-sending-mail-you-later.html

Second Opinion On Side Effect of Short Selling

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has extended ban of short selling on securities of financial institutions to Oct 17. According to a release by the SEC, this move is to protect investors to maintain fair and orderly securities markets.

However, Ludwig von Mises Institute has a different view. Read their view here.

The SEC Short Sells Us Down the River
http://mises.org/story/3139

SEC: Extend Ban on short selling of securities on financial securities

Opera Browser Release Version 9.6

Opera browser just released version 9.6 and it says "fast" is the key improvement for this version. I ain't Opera fanatic so am now able to comment on the new version.

Opera 9.6 for Windows Changelog
http://www.opera.com/docs/changelogs/windows/960/

Opera 9.6 for Linux Changelog
http://www.opera.com/docs/changelogs/linux/960/

Opera 9.6 for Mac Changelog
http://www.opera.com/docs/changelogs/mac/960/

Download Opera here
http://www.opera.com/

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monkeys work in Japanese restaurant

The below article and video by BBC is indeed interesting.

A restaurant in Japan has some unusual waiting staff on its books - two macaque monkeys.

Yatchan and Fukuchan serve customers hot towels and drinks, and are given soya beans as tips.

The monkeys are family pets who have been allowed to help in the bar. Animal rights regulations mean the premises have been visited to ensure the creatures are not being mistreated.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7654267.stm

How to Get Back Desktop and Taskbar Without Rebooting?

A friend of mine asked if there is a method to get back lost desktop and taskbar so unsaved changes can be performed, all without the need to reboot. I bet this is a common problem among many.

I offered the below steps.
  1. Use Ctrl+Shift+Esc key combination to launch Windows Task Manager.
  2. From Windows Task Manager, click File -> New Task (Run...).
  3. Type explorer.exe.
  4. Click OK.
Your desktop and taskbar are back!

Singapore Heading for Recession

Singapore appears to be heading for its first recession since 2002 amid global suffering its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Singapore government is expected to announce its 3Q GDP this coming Friday (10 Oct). The Monetary Authority of Singapore is expected to ease monetary policy on Friday to boost export since inflationary pressure is easing and manufacturing data is weak. Singapore manufacturing output for August 2008 dropped 12.2% and this does not look optimistic for the coming GDP report.

The possibility of a technical recession, which is two consecutive quarter-on-quarter declines in growth in the GDP is more prominent than ever.

Recession looms for Singapore: economists
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/10/08/08/recession-looms-singapore-economists

Singapore Manufacturing Output Drops 12.2% in August 2008
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/09/singapore-manufacturing-output-drops.html

Asia / Pacific Bourses Plunge Plunge Plunge

Asian markets plunged on 8 Oct 2008 after fear of credit crisis spreading to Europe. The numbers below are scary.

U.S. (7 Oct 2008)
Dow Jones IA        Down 508.39 (5.11%)
Nasdaq Composite Down 108.08 (5.80%)
S&P 500 Down 60.66 (5.74)
Asia / Pacific (8 Oct 2008)
All Ordinaries      Down 228.10   (4.96%)
Shanghai Composite Down 65.61 (3.04%)
Hang Seng Down 1,372.03 (8.17%)
BSE 30 Down 289.51 (2.48%)
Jakarta Composite Down 168.05 (10.38%)
KLSE Composite Down 27.04 (2.71%)
Nikkei 225 Down 952.58 (9.38%)
NZSE 50 Down 55.88 (1.86%)
Straits Times Down 143.94 (6.61%)
Seoul Composite Down 79.41 (5.81%)
Taiwan Weighted Down 318.26 (5.76%)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Seven R’s of Change Management

The below seven simple R's questions assist in assessing changed-related risk and in identifying any impact and the effectiveness of such changes in a change management process.

The 7 R's
  1. Who RAISED the change?
  2. What is the REASON for it?
  3. What RETURN is required?
  4. What are the RISKS involved?
  5. What RESOURCES are required to deliver it?
  6. Who is RESPONSIBLE for build, test and implementation?
  7. What is the RELATIONSHIP with other changes?

A Look At Wall Street's Shadow Market - Credit Default Swaps

A recap on what exactly is Credit Default Swaps,

A credit default swap (CDS) is a credit derivative contract between two counterparties, whereby the "buyer" or "fixed rate payer" pays periodic payments to the "seller" or "floating rate payer" in exchange for the right to a payoff if there is a default or "credit event" in respect of a third party or "reference entity".

From the CBSNews video below, Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former director of trading and markets for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, said

It is an insurance contract, but they've been very careful not to call it that because if it were insurance, it would be regulated. So they use a magic substitute word called a 'swap,' which by virtue of federal law is deregulated

These complex financial instruments and very structured were designed by mathematicians and physicists, who used algorithms and computer models to reconstitute the unreliable loans in a way that was supposed to eliminate and mitigate most of the underlying risk. They thought these will work but they turn out to be utterly darn wrong because human behaviour can never be modelled by mathematics.

A Look At Wall Street's Shadow Market [Text Version]
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/05/60minutes/printable4502454.shtml

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hong Kong Minibond Buyback Proposal

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government has proposed that banks to buy back Lehman Brothers minibonds from customers.

I thought this is something to cheerful about seeing Hong Kong taking care of retail investors Trustee, HSBC, commented the buyback will not be 100%.

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=7315&icid=1&d_str=20081006

Quick Search On Who's My MP

This below link brings you to a page from the Singapore's Parliament website that allows you find out which constituency a certain residential address belongs to, and the contact details of the MP(s) for that constituency. Their contacts will come in handy if you wish to seek assistance.

Who's my MP
http://www.parliament.gov.sg/AboutUs/Org-MP-whomp.htm

Try Out Google Android Online

Ever wish to get hold of the new T-Mobile HTC G1 to try out the new Google Android? HTC G1 is the first smartphone running Android OS. Now you can try out Android online using a emulator by following the below link.

Give Android a Spin Online
http://lifehacker.com/5059266/give-android-a-spin-online

Sunday, October 05, 2008

CNBC Video - Lehman's Minibond Meltdown

Small investors who parked their funds in Lehman Brothers' MiniBonds have witnessed their savings evaporating with the collapse of the investment bank. As CNBC's Sri Jegarajah reports, they're crying foul and are demanding explanations as to why these structured products that were sold to them as safe investments.

CNBC Video - Lehman's Minibond Meltdown
http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=876393192

Google Gears and Its Direction

Many have misconceptions towards what Google Gears is all about. When Google Gears was first introduced around one and a half year ago, many including myself thought purpose of Gears is to enable offline capabilities of web. However, if one were to venture to Gears website, it says otherwise. The overall goal of Gears is to make your web applications run as if you are running desktop apps.

From Gears website,

Gears is an open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser:
  • Let web applications interact naturally with your desktop
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable database
  • Run JavaScript in the background to improve performance
Google Gears
http://gears.google.com/

A Fresh Look At Google Gears
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/04/AR2008100400669.html

Vice Presidential Nominees Debate Between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden 2008

Vice Presidential nominees Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) participated in the one and only 2008 Vice Presidential debate.

The questions being discussed are as below:
  1. Financial Bill: Best or Worst of Washington?
  2. How to reduce polarization in Washington?
  3. Who was at fault in subprime mortgage situation?
  4. Why are your tax policies not "Class Warfare"?
  5. Due to financial situation, what Promises can't you keep?
  6. Do you support legislation to help homeowners in bankruptcy?
  7. What is true and false about causes of climate change?
  8. Do you support caps on carbon emissions?
  9. Do you support granting benefits to same-sex couples?
  10. What is your exit strategy for Iraq?
  11. Which is a greater threat: Nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?
  12. Should U.S. engage diplomatically with enemies?
  13. What has Bush Administration done right regarding Israel?
  14. When should nuclear weapons be used?
  15. Will American support sending troops to Darfur?
  16. How would a Biden/Palin Administration differ from an Obama/McCain Administration?
  17. What is the Vice President's role?
  18. Is the Vice President also part of the legislative branch?
  19. What is your weakest trait?
  20. On what issue have you changed your opinion based on circumstances?
In this debate, Gov. Palin did not seem to have answered many questions that were posted. She kept beating about the bush talking on the topic of Energy and occasionally switching topics. Apparently, Sen. Biden fared better in this debate. In my opinion, it seems Gov. Palin is not as confident as compared to Sen. Biden when it comes to topics relating to the current financial turmoil, housing issues and the Constitution. This debate divides the 2 Vice Presidential hopefuls and shows Sen. Biden's superiority in aspects of political experience and readiness to take over the role of Presidency should the going-to-be elected President is unable to carry out his duties due to unforeseen circumstances.



You may also be interested to watch the first U.S. 2008 Presidential debate between Presidential nominees Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) here.

Completed ITIL v3 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management

I have completed my ITIL (Version 3) Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management today. It was a 3 full days course with an examination. I thought this is a good-to-know knowledge and so went for the course even though my organization does not really use ITIL extensively. However, some aspects of ITIL is being used and I believe it is relevant for many other industries as well.

Other interesting frameworks are Six Sigma, COBIT, PMBOK and CMMI.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Banks in Hong Kong in Private Talks With Investors to Avoid Lehman Suits

Three banks are secretly negotiating with angry investors to prevent being taken to court over the distribution of Lehman Brothers minibonds, according to sources.

According to the source, the banks involved are Dah Sing Bank, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) and Mevas Bank, which is part of the Dah Sing Banking Group.

Banks in `secret' deals to avoid Lehman suits
http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=72415&sid=20823932&con_type=1&d_str=20081002

Thursday, October 02, 2008

How to Disable Notification Balloon Tips On System Tray?

Below is a tip on how to disable notification balloon tips on system tray in Windows. Even though this will work, I do not recommend it unless you have a very good reason. Disabling notification balloon tips will end up not showing potential Windows System notification errors as reported by Windows itself.
  1. From Windows Start Menu, click Run

  2. Type regedit

  3. Press ENTER key

  4. In the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

  5. Create a new DWORD value and name it EnableBalloonTips

  6. Assign the new DWORD value hexadecimal data value of 0

  7. Restart Windows

Watch Episode 1 of The Security Show: Cybercrime

Join host Kai Axford as he interviews a Federal cybercrime agent while getting the audience involved in the action.

http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9608717

Google Shares Appeared to Plunge to Mere 1 Cent

On Tuesday 30 Sep 2008, Google shares appeared to plunge to as low as 1 cent after a glitch. It is reported that the Nasdaq Stock Market will cancel some of the late trades in Google Inc whose shares are "affected".

Nasdaq to cancel some late trades in Google shares
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN3047077620080930

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund May Not be Guaranteed

DBS just sent out a letter to all customers who had bought fund called "DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund". This is a guaranteed fund that guarantees better interest as compared to the miserable fixed deposits.

In the letter, it mentions Banque AIG guarantees the fund to be guaranteed. Banque AIG being a subsidiary of almost made bankrupt AIG is possible of not honouring the guarantee and agreements that come with the fund should parent AIG were to collapse. Hence, "DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund" will no longer be guaranteed and is thus exposed to all the stock indexes that DBS Asset Management invested in.

I bet no customers or even any Relationship Managers (RM) are aware of an involvement of a third party that fit into this "Guarantor" equation.

True Life Story of a Miser

The below depicts a true life story of a miser. Some may look hard to believe but they are of absolute truth. From Wikipedia,

"A miser is a person who is reluctant to spend money, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts."
  • Managed to save $2.50 per week given 50 cents of allowance a day for a 5-day week during primary school days.

  • Amazingly able to maintain an average $10 spending on food over 5 working days. This amount will be reduced if there is a tea session planned for or no one eats with him because under these 2 hard to come by "lucky" days, money can be saved.

  • Pay day is one of the most "count-down" days.

  • Monthly expenditure account opening day is short-lived since it is closed almost immediately, complaining of negative budget yet again.

  • Newspapers soon become collectibles after knowing they worth quite a bit if sold for recycling.

  • Travelling by foot is the default mode of transport whenever wherever possible even if it means more than 15 minutes of brisk walk.
More bewildering tell-tales:
  • It took him more than half a year to decide on what credit card to apply for - annual fee is a major setback despite a 99.99% chance of able to it waived.

  • Getting from point to point for reasons relating to work will be on foot, buses or trains. Taking cab is out of the question even though transport fare cab be claimed from the company. Reason is simple - keep your wallet as little money as possible so you won't spend.

  • His primary savings account is with OCBC and not the rest because according to him, OCBC is the only bank that allows minimum ATM withdrawal of $10 whereas the rest practise minimum $20 withdrawal policy.

21% Electricity Tariff Hike Justifiable?

From today (1 Oct 2008) onwards, Singapore's electricity tariff and public transport fares are to go up. Electricity tariff is to go up by a hard-to-believe 21% and transport fares is to go up by 4 cents for a single trip. These 2 increases will be difficult for many Singaporeans. The Energy Market Authority cited fuel price increase as the main reason for the 21% hike.

Singapore Power reported S$1.086 billion profit net profit after taxation for FY07/08. This is a 72.3% increase as compared to FY03/04. An extremely healthy gain. [via]

Power generation company, Tuas Power Station, reported S$177.163 million net profit for FY2007, an increase of 70.2% from S$104.086 million in FY2006. [via]

Power generation company, Senoko Power, reported S$130.204 million net profit for FY2007/2008. This net profit is a 6.9% drop as compared to FY2006/2007 partly due to an increase in income tax expenses. [via]

Power generation company, Power Seraya, reported 6% revenue increase (S$2.793 billion UP), 30% net profit after tax increase (S$218 million UP), 19% return on equity increase, 18% economic value added (EVA) increase (S$103 million UP), 30% earnings per share (EPS) increase (S$0.25 UP), and 10% return on assets increase. [via]

With such high profits generated, I personally do not see a 21% increase in electricity tariff justifiable. This increase is to have quite a substantial impact on other items including food, transport, etc. since electricity is required in the making of such items.

So, is an increase of 21% on electricity tariff justifiable? Why is the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) still supportive of such hike? Aren't the record profits generated taken into account when passing this hike?

Google Tenth Birthday Site

In its Google 10th year in the Web Search industry, they have come out with a site specially to commemorate this. Click on the "View Timeline" image button to view the major events that had happened for the past 10 years.

The 3 callouts under Google Timeline section show some of the interesting Google stories. Refresh the page to see different stories.

Google Tenth Birthday Site
http://www.google.com/tenthbirthday/

Blog Archive

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...