Saturday, November 29, 2008

What do Bukit Panjang residents think of loss of their Town Councils' funds?

On 17 Nov 08, it was reported that Singapore town councils had invested in troubled structured investment products and had lost millions. Holland-Bukit Panjang and Pasir Ris-Punggol town councils are the two most heavily invested in such products and had lost huge amounts up to S$12m.

On 19 Nov 08, Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP for Holland-Bukit Panjang Constituency and Chairman of Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council, wants his residents to be thankful that the funds have grown under the Town Council’s watch. I was utterly disappointed with Dr Teo's comments and I thought he could be more sensitive with the public resentment.

Below are 2 interview videos on the handling of the sinking funds and Dr Teo's comment.

Part 1


Part 2 - I forward straight to 108th minute (Must watch)

Singaporean Killed by Terrorists in Mumbai

I am saddened to learn that 28 year old Singaporean lawyer, Ms Lo Hwei Yen, had been killed by terrorists who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai. Ms Lo is the first Singaporean to have been killed by terrorists. She was held hostage at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel and found dead at the 19th storey.
The battle between the Indian commandos and the lawless terrorists just ended a while ago. The fight lasted over three long days. A total of 6 places were targeted by the terrorists.

Singaporean held hostage at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel killed [via]

Worker trampled to death at Wal-Mart on Black Friday

A Wal-Mart was trampled to death on Black Friday (28 Nov). Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Usually, retailer will slash prices on the traditional Black Friday.

Times must have been very bad with retailers reporting poor sales for the past few months. Black Friday discounts are attractive and people look quite desperate to get bargains. We do not see many tramples in the States. This one is really unfortunate.

Nowadays, there are just far too many gloomy news - Global financial turmoil, Bangkok political clash, Mumbai terrorism, and so on.

Black Friday turns tragic for Wal-Mart [via]

Friday, November 28, 2008

U.S. President-Elect Obama Lead By Showing Sense of Responsibility

A couple of days ago, U.S. President-Elect, Barack Obama, chastised U.S. auto executives for being "tone deaf" for flying on corporate jets to Washington to beg for bailout money, and said he believed bank executives should forgo their end-of-year bonuses.

Mr Obama hopes to see corporates showing sense of responsibility. If one is placed in a position of power, then he has got responsibilities to his workers and be responsible to the community and shareholders.

I see Obama as a President-to-be showing hallmark of a true leader.

President-elect Barack Obama has chastised US auto executives for being "tone deaf" for flying on corporate jets to Washington to beg for bailout money, and said he believed bank executives should forgo their end-of-year bonuses.

In the advanced excerpt of an interview to be broadcast Wednesday and released by ABC News late Tuesday, the president elect focused on responsibility.

Bank executives forgoing bonuses is "an example of taking responsibility," Obama said.

"If you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, 'I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well', because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times ," Obama told ABC News.

As for the incident in which the heads of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors flew their private jets to Washington last week to ask Congress for bailout money, Obama said: "I thought maybe they're a little tone deaf to what's happening in America right now."

He described it as "a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry ... (but) for the captains of industry generally.

"When people are pulling down hundred million dollar bonuses on Wall Street, and taking enormous risks with other people's money, that indicates a sense that you don't have any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans," Obama said.

And when the "auto makers are getting paid far more than their counterparts at Toyota, or at Honda, and yet they're losing money a lot faster than Japanese auto makers are, that tells me that they're not seeing what's going on out there."

Obama said he hoped his presidency will help "usher in ... a return to an ethic of responsibility. That if you're placed in a position of power, then you've got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community. Your shareholders."

He added: "And that's true ... for members of Congress, that's true for the president, that's true for cabinet members, that's true for parents.

"I want all of us to start thinking a little bit more, not just about what's good for me, but let's start thinking about what's good for our children, what's good for our country. The more we do that, the better off we're going to be," he said.

Obama says Wall Street executives should not get bonuses [via]

Top Spam Provider Resurrected

Just 2 weeks ago, a top spam provider was forced offline after when McColo Corp., a hosting company, was singled out to be acting as a gateway for the spam and thus was eventually shutdown.

Now, the spam provider has resurrected as reported on ComputerWorld.

Massive botnet returns from the dead, starts spamming [via]

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bug in Visual SourceSafe 2005

I was playing with Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 2005 when I discovered a major bug. Visual SourceSafe is a version control product from the Microsoft.

I found out it is impossible to check in a folder with more than 32,767 files. So, an attempt to check in a folder with 32,768 files or more will result in an error and version revision for files will turn out to be a negative number, -32,767. Now, it would be impossible to add more files to or remove files from the affected folder. Deleting of the folder fails too.

Repairing on the affected Visual SourceSafe database will not correct this unfortunate error. We will need to live with this annoyance unless you remove and re-create the entire database totally but this time round, remember not add more than 32,767 files in any folder.

Google Reassures Gmail is Secure

A post from the Google Online Security reassures users that Gmail is secure.

We've seen some speculation recently about a purported security vulnerability in Gmail and the theft of several website owners' domains by unauthorized third parties. At Google we're committed to providing secure products, and we mounted an immediate investigation. Our results indicate no evidence of a Gmail vulnerability.

Gmail security and recent phishing activity [via]

Test your phishing IQ

What is phishing? Definition from F-Secure defines phishing as a fraudulent e-mail or website claiming to be legitimate seeking indentifiable information. Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal data.

According to data from e-mail security firm MailFrontier, only 4 percent of users can spot a phished e-mail 100 percent of the time. That's a very sobering thought as the holiday season is upon us and Americans flock online for their shopping needs.

Test your phishing IQ [via]

Poor Start for Singapore Q4 Economic Data

Monthly manufacturing performance for October 2008 declined 12.6% as compared to the same month last year. Manufacturing makes up a quarter of Singapore's GDP.

The tourism industry is not doing any better too. October tourism figures reported a dipped in arrivals year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month. Singapore Tourism Board (STB) statistics show that 843,000 travellers visited Singapore on October, an 8 per cent drop over the same period last year. The figure was the single biggest monthly drop since arrivals started falling in June. Initial targets for year 2008 of 10.8 million visitors and $15.5 billion in spending would be hard to achieve now.

All these dismal economic statistics aren't helpful to a country that is already in a technical recession.

Monthly Manufacturing Performance - October 2008 [via]
Tourism dips [via]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Disable Annoying User Account Control (UAC) Prompt on Windows Vista

Note: Disabling User Account Control (UAC) will lead to a less secure system, so be warned.

Disable User Account Control (UAC) the Easy Way on Windows Vista [via]

Apple Sued Over iPhone's Browser

Surfing on a Apple's iPhone 3G smartphone using its mobile Safari browser is undisputedly one of the best with its ability to zoom, scroll and navigate with one's fingers.

Lately, EMG Technology filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple Inc. EMG Technology claim that the technology the iPhone uses to surf the Web infringes on a patent submitted by themselves.

Apple Sued Over iPhone's Browser [via]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Message from the CEO, Citibank Singapore Ltd

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Citibank Singapore Ltd, Jonathan Larsen, sent out an email in an effort to reassure all customers on the financial soundness of Citibank Singapore.

The below is the email content:

Message from Jonathan Larsen

Country Head & Citi Country Officer, Singapore

Chief Executive Officer
Citibank Singapore Ltd

November 24, 2008

To: Customers of Citibank Singapore Limited

Dear Customer,

I am writing to update you on the latest developments taking place in the U.S. to further strengthen Citi's capital ratios, reduce risk and increase liquidity. As of this afternoon, the U.S. Government and Citi reached an agreement to address the speculation and rumors about Citi's financial health, which led to recent stock market valuations, in spite of Citi's strong balance sheet and franchise fundamentals.

As a result of the agreement with the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), Citi significantly strengthens its key capital ratios by generating approximately US$40 billion of capital benefits. In addition, Citi's balance sheet risk has been reduced by the guarantee of over US$300 billion in assets by the U.S. Government.

Citi's Tier 1 capital ratio for the third quarter ended September 30, 2008, on a pro forma basis, for the October TARP capital injection and the new capital generated by today's announcement, subject to the Federal Reserve Board's approval, is expected to be approximately 14.8%.

Today's announcement brings even greater clarity to our overall financial standing and ability to deliver the best service to our customers. It will also provide reassurance to our customers with respect to the strength of Citi's global franchise.

Throughout these difficult markets, Citibank Singapore Ltd and Citibank N.A, Singapore Branch have maintained a stable operating income, unparalleled access to funding, extraordinary levels of liquidity and the best talent in the business. Our business is strong and our support for our customers has been unwavering. This announcement endorses our continued commitment to our customers in Singapore, as we have been doing since 1902.

We look forward to serving you in future and would like to thank you for your continued patronage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Google Experimental Search SearchMash Has Gone the Way of the Dinosaur


Google experimental search engine, SearchMash, has gone the way of the dinosaur.

I personally quite like the clean and innovative many features on display by SearchMash. You can read my previous articles on SearchMash here.

Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Broke Law in 1992

Singapore Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, had a brush with the law in 1992. Mr Tharman was the director of the economic department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He was accused of passing the economic growth rate for the second quarter of 1992 to Manu Bhaskaran, an economist at Crosby Securities Pte Ltd., a regional brokerage, before it was announced publicly.

Singapore Puts Top Prosecutor On News Leak [via]

CPI for October 2008 at 6.4%

Singapore's consumer price index (CPI) in October 2008 rose 6.4% as compared to the same month of 2007. As what I expected last month, I mentioned a very likelihood for October's CPI to remain high due to extraordinarily 21% hike in electricity tariff. Housing cost advanced by 16.4% arising from higher accommodation and electricity tariff, making this component the highest as compared to other components.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the consumer price index in October 2008 was
0.8% higher compared with September 2008.

The consumer price index for the first ten months of 2008 was 6.8% higher compared with the same period of previous year. It seems the inflation rate for year 2008 is still quite high.

Consumer Price Index for October 2008 [via]

Civil Servants' Annual Pay to Fall

In line with the global recession including Singapore, civil servants are to receive lower year-end payment in 2008. On top of that, senior civil servants' pay are set to slash up to 19% in 2009. As such, the total Annual Variable Component (AVC) and 13th month Annual Wage Supplement (AWS) payment for civil servants in 2008 is 2 months plus $100 to $300. This is 1 month less than the total paid out in 2007 which was 3 months plus $200 (including Growth Bonus).

Specifically, in 2009, there will be a 19% fall in the annual salary of the President (to $3.14m) and the Prime Minister (to $3.04m). The Ministerial Grade (MR4), which includes the Ministers and Senior Permanent Secretaries salary, will fall by 18% to $1.57m, and salaries at the entry Superscale grade (SR9) will fall by 12% to $353,000. The allowance for Members of Parliament will fall by 16% to $190,000.

2008 year-end payment announcement by Public Service Division [via]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google Gmail Themes Not Working on Internet Explorer 6.0

I just found out Google Gmail new themes feature does not work on Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0. Google does not make this feature available on the older IE version. Even the Gmail login screen is classic.

Obama's Radio Address 22 Nov 08

On 22 Nov 2008, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama made a public radio address. Below is a video from YouTube on the address. I also include a transcript of Obama's radio address for as released by the president-elect’s office right after the video.

Good morning.

The news this week has only reinforced the fact that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. Financial markets faced more turmoil. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. Five-hundred-forty-thousand more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in 18 years. And we now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further.

While I’m pleased that Congress passed a long-overdue extension of unemployment benefits this week, we must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.

There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. But January 20th is our chance to begin anew — with a new direction, new ideas, and new reforms that will create jobs and fuel long-term economic growth.

I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 — a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office. We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.

These aren’t just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down payment on the type of reform my administration will bring to Washington — a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.

I know that passing this plan won’t be easy. I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I’ll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle.

But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action. Right now, there are millions of mothers and fathers who are lying awake at night wondering if next week’s paycheck will cover next month’s bills. There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. Retirees are watching their life savings disappear and students are seeing their college dreams deferred. These Americans need help, and they need it now.

The survival of the American Dream for over two centuries is not only a testament to its enduring power, but to the great effort, sacrifice, and courage of the American people. It has thrived because in our darkest hours, we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together. That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will. Thank you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Future of C# - Compiler as a Service

I was watching a over 70 minutes video for Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008 on The Future of C#.

I would like to highlight a section on "Compiler as a Service" that interests me most. The idea of having C# able to evaluate and execute strings as codes is pretty exciting. JavaScript has long since having this eval() function many years ago. You may fast forward to somewhere near 59th minute for a demonstration on C# Evaluator.

The Future of C# (Watch video using Silverlight) [via]
Video Download (331MB) [via]

Temasek Holdings Pay Cut to Lead by Example

Singapore investment vehicle, Temasek Holdings, which oversees $130 billion or more, said senior management has volunteered a 15 percent to 25 percent pay cut.

I welcome this move but I would like the cut to be more and bonuses to be freezed after billions are lost from many failed investments in companies like Shin Corp, ABC Learning, Chartered Semiconductor and several badly battered U.S banks. From what I know, salaries for the senior management are undisclosed and they must be a lot since Chief Ho Ching is now ranked number 7 richest woman in the world.

I think this timely move is to send out a signal to corporates that cutting pay should be exercised first before laying off employees in tough times. I am in favour of this move. The monthly variable component in an employee's salary should be adjusted to tide with bad times. I shall not comment on the recent retrenchment exercise conducted by DBS Bank. Unions should be informed and consulted beforehand.

I have read the next scheduled pay raise exercise for Singapore's so-called elite ministers is coming soon. Announcement is expected to be made near the coming 22 Jan 2009 Budget. I hope the Singapore government can be sensitive enough to scrap this coming pay raise exercise. Many ministers are already millionaires by their current payroll.

To wrap up my view, I shall quote a joke read from a discussion thread on why Temasek Holdings volunteered for a pay cut. Some of the words used are in Hokkein dialect. Enjoy!

Son: daddy, 2masay is very the chiak lat now so how ah? my taling ah ching everyday dunno wat 2explain to the peeper all cow peh cow bu now.

Dad: ah leng kia, dun werely, lim peh ka lee kong, ask ah ching quick-kerlee announce for 15% cow koo lee kang, so stupid peeper will think we oso have heart wat . .

Son: but but like tat, my taling sure tulang one and later give me more pressure then I oso chiak lat wat...

Dad: huh! you really a gong leng, later I will give green light to increase your pay up 15% then you take part of your salary and give back to her lah, bodoh! wats the difference? LP=PL wat!

Son: oh ya hor! how come my lau peh so clever one . . hehe!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Singapore to Grow Between -1.0 to 2.0 per cent in 2009

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced today that the Singapore economy is expected to grow by around 2.5 per cent in 2008, and -1.0 to 2.0 per cent in 2009.

MTI Forecasts Growth of -1.0–2.0% in 2009 [via]
Economic Survey of Singapore, Third Quarter 2008 [via]

Massive Subsurface Glaciers Discovered on Mars

The more we learn about Mars, it seems, the icier the Red Planet appears to be. The recently departed Phoenix lander dug up water ice and even spotted falling snow from its position in the northern polar plains. And now data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter point to vast glaciers buried beneath thin layers of crustal debris, much closer to the equator.

Red (Planet) Alert: Massive Subsurface Glaciers Discovered on Mars [via]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Google Gmail Themes

Google Gmail has added a new feature to the public in phases that enables users to select from a total of 31 themes as of today.
Themes option can be found from the Settings section.

From Google, this new feature should be available to all in a few days from today.

Spice up your inbox with colors and themes [via]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

50 Ways to Make Windows Vista Faster

Discover tips, tweaks and techniques for speeding up your Windows Vista-powered PC from the below 5-parts article.

50 ways to make Windows Vista faster (part 1) [via]
50 ways to make Windows Vista faster (part 2) [via]
50 ways to make Windows Vista faster (part 3) [via]
50 ways to make Windows Vista faster (part 4) [via]
50 ways to make Windows Vista faster (part 5) [via]

Disappointed With Dr Teo Comments on Town Councils Sinking Fund

On 17 Nov 08, it was reported that Singapore town councils had invested in troubled structured investment products and had lost millions. Holland-Bukit Panjang and Pasir Ris-Punggol town councils are the two most heavily invested in such products and had lost huge amounts up to S$12m.

Till date, no one have claimed or are willing to stand out and be accountable for this grave mistake. Many ministers stood out in defence and gave reasons and excuses on the investment failure. One such remark which disgusted me most is from Dr Teo Ho Pin, MP for Holland-Bukit Panjang Constituency and Chairman of Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council.

Dr Teo Ho Pin's message to his residents,

"Be thankful that the funds have grown under the Town Council’s watch."

A mistake is a mistake and I do hope the Singapore government can come out and make a public apology. The Singapore citizens do not wish to listen to reasons and excuses that are intended to brush off the issue aside. We want an apology and move on with our lives.

The town councils should be doing what they do best - manage town councils. If they are sitting with comfortable cushion, then there is certainly no reason as to why Service & Conservancy fees are to be increased. There is quite a lot of resentment among many Singaporeans.

Dr Teo says ‘be thankful’ [via]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yahoo! Co-founder Jerry Yang to Step Down as CEO

Embattled Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang will step down as CEO, the Internet company announced Monday.

Jerry Yang to Step Down as Yahoo! CEO [via]

Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Gets Tab Tearing


The latest Firefox 3.1 development release features the announced option for tab tearing: drag a tab out of its current window, and it is removed and opened on a new one, providing a more intuitive way to organize your web browsing.

Firefox 3.1 gets tab tearing [via]

Singapore October 2008 NODX Dive 15.3%

Non-oil domestic exports (NODX), fell 15.3 per cent last month as shipments of both electronics and chemicals met with sharply lower demand in all the key markets. Against September, NODX fell a seasonally adjusted 7.4 per cent last month, the biggest drop in five months.
NODX is the key trade indicator to signal health of Singapore's economy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Windows Vista Sidebar for Windows XP

It is now possible to own Windows Vista Sidebar on Windows XP without having to upgrade to Windows Vista.

You may personalise your Windows Vista Sidebar by downloading the many gadgets availabe online from Microsoft Windows Vista Sidebar gallery itself.

Download Windows Vista Sidebar for Windows XP [via]

2 Town Councils Invested in Troubled Structured Products

It is reported that at least 2 out of the 14 PAP managed town councils invested in troubled structured products namely DBS High Notes, Lehman Brothers' Minibond Notes and Merrill Lynch's Jubilee Series 3. These investment products were worthless as of today. Holland-Bukit Panjang and Pasir Ris-Punggol town councils are the two most heavily invested in these products with amount sum up to S$12m. Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council invested about S$8 million or 6.7 per cent of its available funds, while Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council invested some 2.6 per cent, totalling S$4 million.

Other town councils such as Aljunied, Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang, Hong Kah, Marine Parade, Tampines and Tanjong Pagar also have exposure to Lehman Brothers.

Since Dec 1 last year, the amount that town councils can invest in non-government stocks, funds or securities has been capped at 35 per cent of the total sinking fund.

Holland-Bukit Panjang town council another investment in Creative Technology came to light few months back only when Creative published its financial report. Its share price has since fallen quite a fair bit.

On 9 Nov, Minister Mentor Lee commented on the plight of investors who have lost money investing in Lehman-related mini-bonds. MM Lee said,

"Please remember, when you get higher returns than what is the average in the markets, that means you are incurring higher risk. So on that message I leave you to ponder about your next purchase".

MM Lee also said many educated and young investors went in with their eyes open and banks will offer compensation according to what is fair.

So, it looks to me MM Lee's remarks is actually telling the town councils they went in with their eyes wide open and their losses incurred are their own self-deserved. Do remember Tanjong Pagar is under MM Lee and Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang is by PM Lee.

2 town councils invested S$12m in Lehman-related structured products [via]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Video - ACJC Birthday Girl Tied Up and Tortured

Last Friday, I commented on a ACJC birthday girl being tied up and tortured in front of many people. I thought this is sickening, immature and simply outrageous.

Stomp has been discussing this quite some time and they even have video footages, split into 3 parts, on the incident. It's SICKENING to see this happening in a Singpaore Junior College. Is this how Singaporeans going to be adults should behave?

Video 1: ACJC students start ragging the birthday girl [via]

Video 2: ACJC girl tied up, roughed up, and humiliated on elite JC premises [via]

Video 3: ACJC girl gets tied up, and has cake and chocolate milk thrown in her face [via]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Open and Edit Word / Excel Files Using SoftMaker Office

SoftMaker Office is a free, lightweight office suite consisting of two fast, simple applications. These two namely TextMaker and PlanMaker, are capable in opening and editing Microsoft Word and Excel files.

SoftMaker Office 2006 is able to run off straight from your thumbdrive! The software is just a mere 24MB file download and uses only 12MB of RAM on your system. This is certainly a good application that does its job perfectly without being hungry on resources.

SoftMaker Office 2006 for Windows [via]

Startup Delayer - Improve Windows Start Up Time

When Windows start up and boots, it reads its startup file and attempts to load every programs in there all at the same time. Therefore if you have quite a lot of programs starting up when Windows starts, each program will try and grab CPU time and memory all at the same so that it can load. You should see your Windows start up slower as the list of programs to start up grows.

Startup Delayer allows you to setup how many seconds after Windows has started, to load each program. With that, you can now choose to setup Updater programs like Java updater to delay from running. Startup Delayer is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista.

Startup Delayer [via]

Sun Cut 6,000 Jobs to Cut Cost

Sun Microsystems Inc. plans to cut up to 18 percent of its work force, or up to 6,000 jobs, in a company restructuring as it deals with declining demand. As part of the revamp, Sun said it is splitting its software organization into three business groups -- Application Platform Software, Systems Platforms, and Cloud Computing & Developer Platforms.

Sun shares have nose-dived 77 percent this year, more than double the decline in the Nasdaq Composite Index, to around $4, a 13-year low. The stock is down 98 percent since 2000, the peak of the dot-com boom.

Sun to cut up to 6,000 jobs; software chief exits as unit revamped [via]

Will Sun Be Forced to Sell Itself? [via]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Failure of auto industry could set off chain reaction catastrophe

Advocates for US carmakers are warning that the collapse of the Big Three - or even just General Motors (GM) - could set off a catastrophic chain reaction in the economy, eliminating up to three million jobs and depriving governments of more than US$150 billion in tax revenue.

Earlier, I published an article "To Bailout Or Not to Bailout General Motors?" saying a bailout for automaker GM is not advisable. In summary, it says the bailout should not proceed and GM should file for bankruptcy.

Failure of auto industry could set off catastrophe [via]

ACJC Birthday Girl Tied Up and Tortured

The two videos mentioned are particularly shocking to me because of two factors. First of all, the perpetrators are practically all females, with a few boys in the background cheering. I never knew women are into such cruelty as well. Second, it occurred in bright daylight at a crowded school canteen - where everybody can see! The poor victim was tied to a chin-up bar and attacked mercilessly. All in the name of “celebrating” her birthday.

The school where all these took place is a well-reputed school - Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC). (No point in concealing the school’s identity as the uniform of the students involved is obvious).

Video captured on the incident was uploaded onto YouTube but was taken down after this matter was blown up.

ACJC girl gets tied up and tortured… by friends “celebrating” her birthday [via]

Voice and Video Chat Possible Now in Gmail

Not only text messaging with your friends is possible within Google Gmail, voice and video chat are now possible as well. This is something new for Google Gmail.

Talk face to face with Gmail voice and video chat [via]

Mozilla Firefox 3.0.4 Release

Mozilla recently released Firefox 3.0.4 to fix several security issues. To upgrade to version 3.0.4, select Help from Menu and choose Check for Updates.

Mozilla Firefox 3.0.4 Release Notes [via]

USB 3.0 to be Formally Unveiled Next Monday

USB 3.0 is finally finalized and will be formally unveiled next Monday. Last February, I made a post on this new protocol. USB 3.0 will feature some more efficient protocols which will shut down to preserve power when not in use. The cables will be parallel optical which allows for the higher speeds which boost up to 4.8Gbps.

USB 3.0 is said to be capable of transferring 25GB data in just 70 seconds. The older USB 1.0 needs 9.3 hours while USB 2.0 takes 13.9 minutes.

USB 3.0 to be Formally Unveiled Next Monday [via]

Top Spam Provider Cut Off

A major drop in spam is being reported by services that monitor spam, perhaps thanks to an article by Brian Krebs titled "A Closer Look at McColo" on Security Fix published on the Washington Post.

From the article, Krebs discussed web hosting firm, McColo, of serving as a gateway to organizations engaged in spam activity. Now, McColo is being knocked offline.

Top Spam Provider Is Cut Off from 'Net, You [via]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tweak IRPStackSize to Solve "Not enough server storage is available to process this command"

I encountered an error "Not enough server storage is available to process this command" today when I tried to access a locally shared folder. Simple stuff like \\COMPUTERNAME\ShareDir was unsuccessful. After some research, it looks more like a Microsoft Windows problem to me. I am running Windows Server 2003 R2.

To solve this problem, I set the IRPStackSize parameter in registry to value 17.
  1. Click Start, and then Run.

  2. Type regedit, and then click OK.

  3. From the registry, navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters

  4. If IRPStackSize DWORD value does not exist, create it

  5. Give a DWORD value 17 (decimal) to IRPStackSize.

  6. Close the Registry editor.

  7. Reboot computer
For Windows Server 2003, the default value for IRPStackSize is 15. To solve my above mentioned problem, you will need to set it to a larger value. The range for this parameter is from 11 to 50.

According to Microsoft, Symantec Norton Antivirus is another likely suspect that may have caused this problem. The article on this is published here.

CAAS launches online travel portal offering best airfares

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has launched a search engine, ViaSingapore.com, for users to compare the best deals for flights into and out of Singapore (via Singapore) and provide the best airfares on offer at a glance. The result is determined by gathering data from 100 websites in real time. Users can also make bookings from ViaSingapore.com itself.

ViaSingapore.com [via]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Google Reader Now Translates RSS to Your Preferred Language

From the official Google Reader blog, it says reading of RSS feeds in your preferred language using Google Reader. This preferred language is set when you create your Google account.
The integration of Google Translate into Google Reader has made web truly world-wide.

Is Your Web Truly World-Wide? [via]

Monday, November 10, 2008

To Bailout Or Not to Bailout General Motors?

General Motors (GM) has approached the U.S. Federal Reserve for cash injection so that its business can continue operation. Many including new President-elect Barack Obama see this bailout necessary to avoid job losses and fall of manufacturing sector.

However, Ludwig von Mises Institute has a different point of view regarding whether to bailout GM. In summary, an article published by them says the bailout should not proceed and GM should file for bankruptcy.

Yet Another GM Bailout [via]

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ex-IBM exec Mark Papermaster Move to Apple Blocked

Ex-IBM top executive, Mark Papermaster, was reported and introduced by Apple as their new senior vice president of devices hardware engineering this week. Mark Papermaster had been with IBM for a good 26 years was the vice president in charge of blade sever development unit until his resignation last month. He was described as the IBM's top expert on Power microprocessors.

Why did Apple hire away IBM's Mark Papermaster? The answer is clear.

At least for now, Mark Papermaster will not be reporting for his new appointment in a years' time after the judge blocked him from joining Apple. IBM has won a suit against the move but this is going to delay the move by a year.

Judge blocks ex-IBM exec from joining Apple [via]

Why did Apple hire away IBM's Mark Papermaster? [via]

While the West axes jobs, Asia cuts pay but not DBS Group

It is a corporate culture that the West risk losing of jobs as a global recession kicks in. However, the East usually practice pay cut instead. Singapore DBS Group, largest Southeast Asia bank, has announced decision to axe 900 jobs after reporting 38% fall in profit. Certainly, DBS Group is an exclusion of the norm of the East.

"In the Confucian mindset, the right thing to do is to share the burden. There's that sense of collective responsibility whereas in the West, it's more about individual survival," said Michael Benoliel, associate professor of organizational behavior at Singapore Management University (SMU).

A cultural divide? While the West axes jobs, Asia cuts pay [via]

DBS cuts 900 jobs, reports 38% fall in Q3 profit [via]

Saturday, November 08, 2008

WPA Not Secure As Well

It is already known that Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) used to secure a Wireless Network is insecure. Back then, the recommendation was to use the more secure Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).

Not long ago, German researchers have found an exploitable hole in WPA that would allow a hacker to "send bogus data to an unsuspecting WiFi client", that uses Temporary Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP), completely compromising your Wi-Fi security and opening your network to all sorts of hacking.

To guard your Wi-Fi, use WPA2 instead since it is still not cracked. Alternatively, you can switch off TKIP as an encryption mode, and use Advanced Encryption System (AES) only.

Battered, but not broken: understanding the WPA crack [via]

Friday, November 07, 2008

Windows 7 Calculator in Many Forms

Microsoft upcoming operating systems (OS) Windows 7.0 is to unveiled their very new Calculator in many forms. The new calculator can run in Standard, Statistics, Programmer and Scientific modes.

Windows 7's Calculator Bundles Real-Life Uses [via]

Firefox Reaches 20% Market Share

Popular browser, Mozilla Firefox, is going to breach 20% of market share as reported by Market Share.

Microsoft Internet Explorer stands at 71.27%, Mozilla Firefox at 19.97%, and Google Chrome at 0.74%.

Market share for browsers [via]

Office of the U.S. President-Elect Change.gov

The U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama unveiled a new website Change.gov where one can find news about the transition and inauguration and information about his agenda. The site also has a place for people to share their ideas for government and their stories about the campaign.

"Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today." - President-Elect Barack Obama

Change.gov [via]

Yahoo Jerry Wants Microsoft to Buy Yahoo

Now that Yahoo's ad deal with Google Inc. is off, Yahoo Inc. CEO Jerry Yang says his company is open to a new offer from Microsoft Corp. Google called off the deal to avoid further clash with antitrust restrictions. I bet Microsoft will not going to offer at the price (US$31) it offered on February. Do remember Yahoo share price is now only at US$14.41 per piece. Microsoft bid was rejected by Yahoo.

Jerry Yang seems to be running out of options.

Yahoo suggests Microsoft should make new offer [via]

Thursday, November 06, 2008

View as HTML for Open XML Files

Google Search now allows "View as HTML" for Open XML files. Office 2007 .docx documents, .xslx spreadsheets and .pptx presentations are some Open XML file formats.


So what are Open XML File Formats? Microsoft has an article "Introduction to the Office Open XML File Formats" on this.

Barack Obama: "We Have a Lot of Work to Do"

Another inspiring speech by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in his final week before election.

Participate in Petition for Fairer Transport Fares for Tertiary Students

On 3 Nov, I made a post on fairer transport fares for tertiary students. Organizer TheOnlineCitizen has launched an official logo for this petition.
For polytechnic and universities students, they have to pay the following concession rates:

Bus Concession Pass - $52/month, unlimited bus concession travel on basic fare bus services for one month.

Train Concession Pass - $45/month, up to 4 rides per day on the MRT/LRT for one month.

Hybrid Concession Pass - $97/month, unlimited bus concession travel on basic fare bus services for one month and up to 4 rides per day on the MRT/LRT for one month.

As for JC and ITE students, the same concession passes cost $27.50, $25 & $52.50 respectively. This is as much as 89% lower!

I thought this is a good start to get tertiary students’ voices heard. I myself was once a tertiary student from Singapore Poly and NUS who had to pay higher transport fares for no reason. I do agree in tertiary students need to be fairly treated and not having to pay adult fares or 80% more concession rates as compared to their non working peers from JC and ITE. If I remember correctly, this issue was brought out several times but no one appears to take this case seriously.

I think this move should apply to all FULL-TIME students irregardless of institutions. Do remember these students do not have income throughout their study period and some actually get allowances from parents.

I will join in this petition. I truly feel for them.

5 simple ways to participate and support this nationwide campaign:
  1. Download and read the Petition here and the Signature Document here and circulate it among your friends. (Email the list of signatures/ completed document to petition4fairtransport@gmail.com)

  2. Email the following information (in the form) to this email address (petition4fairtransport@gmail.com):
    • Name:
    • NRIC:
    • Student? (Y/N)
    • Institution of Study (If applicable)
    • Remarks

  3. Sign up to be an official volunteer to bring forth the petition to your school/ institution of study/ workplace.

  4. Spread the word and put up the campaign logo on your blog/website. (The logo will be available in a few days’ time.)

  5. Be part of the campaign’s numerous petition drives in the weeks and months to come.
Poly students want fairer transport fares [via]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Record Number of Visitors Set Yesterday

There was a total of 346 visitors hits on my blog yesterday. That was a record for a single day.

Petition for Fairer Transport Fares for Tertiary Students

TheOnlineCitizen has organized a petition effort to demand for a fairer transport fares for tertiary students.

For polytechnic and universities students, they have to pay the following concession rates:

Bus Concession Pass - $52/month, unlimited bus concession travel on basic fare bus services for one month.

Train Concession Pass - $45/month, up to 4 rides per day on the MRT/LRT for one month.

Hybrid Concession Pass - $97/month, unlimited bus concession travel on basic fare bus services for one month and up to 4 rides per day on the MRT/LRT for one month.

As for JC and ITE students, the same concession passes cost $27.50, $25 & $52.50 respectively. This is as much as 89% lower!

I thought this is a good start to get tertiary students’ voices heard. I myself was once a tertiary student from Singapore Poly and NUS who had to pay higher transport fares for no reason. I do agree in tertiary students need to be fairly treated and not having to pay adult fares or 80% more concession rates as compared to their non working peers from JC and ITE. If I remember correctly, this issue was brought out several times but no one appears to take this case seriously.

I think this move should apply to all FULL-TIME students irregardless of institutions. Do remember these students do not have income throughout their study period and some actually get allowances from parents.

I will join in this petition. I truly feel for them.

5 simple ways to participate and support this nationwide campaign:
  1. Download and read the Petition here and the Signature Document here and circulate it among your friends. (Email the list of signatures/ completed document to petition4fairtransport@gmail.com)

  2. Email the following information (in the form) to this email address (petition4fairtransport@gmail.com):
    • Name:
    • NRIC:
    • Student? (Y/N)
    • Institution of Study (If applicable)
    • Remarks

  3. Sign up to be an official volunteer to bring forth the petition to your school/ institution of study/ workplace.

  4. Spread the word and put up the campaign logo on your blog/website. (The logo will be available in a few days’ time.)

  5. Be part of the campaign’s numerous petition drives in the weeks and months to come.
Poly students want fairer transport fares [via]

Why did Apple hire away IBM's Mark Papermaster?

The news of this fairly slow week for Apple watchers came in the form of a lawsuit from Apple's PowerPC partner, IBM, who are apparently are trying to protect some chip design IP. What are Apple's intentions with Mr. Papermaster?

Why did Apple hire away IBM's Mark Papermaster? [via]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

WTS DDR SD RAM

I am selling a DDR SDRAM at the cost of S$10.

The item is as below:

Micron MT8VDDT3264HDG-265C3 PC2100S-2533-1-A1
256MB DDR SD RAM, 266MHz, CL2.5
200 pins

If interested, post a comment here.

My Selling Ad on HardwareZone [via]

Removed Post On Singapore Dollar to New Zealand Dollar

I just removed my earlier post on Singapore dollar to New Zealand dollar to avoid unnecessary speculation on their future trends.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Convert Scanned PDF Documents to Text with Google OCR

Google has started to index scanned pdf files on the web. They made use of a technique called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to do just that.

Digital Inspiration has tip on how to get Google to convert your scanned PDF files into recognizable without having to use a 3rd-party OCR software.
  1. Create a folder in your website (say abc.com/pdf) and upload all the PDF images to that folder. Now create a public web page that links to all the PDF files. Wait for the Google bots to spider your stuff.
  2. Once done, type the query "site:abc.com/pdf filetype:pdf" to see the PDF documents as HTML.
Convert Scanned PDF Documents to Text with Google OCR [via]

Google May Walk Away From Yahoo Ad Deal Than Face Antitrust Restrictions

Google Inc may decide to scrap its proposed partnership with Yahoo Inc rather than accept government-imposed antitrust restrictions on it. This was the arrangement made between Google and Yahoo to avoid a Microsoft hostile takeover of Yahoo months ago.

It appears the biggest loser is Yahoo. If Google were to walk away, Yahoo will be left with no deal and its share price is now already at quite a discount. Microsoft would be the biggest winner and count themselves lucky not to have bought Yahoo at initial high bid price.

Google May Scrap Yahoo Ad Deal [via]

Created a New Code Snippet Label

I have created a new Label - "Code Snippet" for my blog.

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