Monday, August 31, 2009

Suddenly remembered my $40 Challenger voucher

I was doing some documentation at work with half eyes closed when I suddenly remembered I have a $40 Challenger voucher waiting for me to be redeemed. I was told by one of their customer service officer that I must collect the voucher by end of August which so happen to be by today. Just what exactly made me recall the redemption still left me puzzled.

I quickly made a call to the Challenger to arrange for an extension. I must remember to collect the $40 voucher by this week!

Looks like I keep recalling things.

Very participative discussion in class today

I had one of my most participative discussion in any Master class/lecture today, partly due to the relative small class group in nature. We discussed on topics of the essence and accidents of software engineering and the many different project management aspects related to software.

The lecturer is surprisingly friendly and open to debates make the discussion all the more livelier. I manage to keep myself 100% awake for the entire 2 hours.

China Stocks ‘In Deep Bubble’ May Drop 25%

China’s economy isn’t “sustainable” and the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index may fall another 25 percent, former Morgan Stanley Asian economist Andy Xie said in an interview.

China Stocks ‘In Deep Bubble,’ May Drop 25%, Xie Says [via]

My Pledge

ALRIGHT, I have decided to take up a freelance project after almost 2 months of consideration (I never replied him all along). I thought I should just use this project to test my own limit to keep my brain working once again. My brain has been pretty lethargic and slow in processing for the past few months. MIPS needs to be increased!

The newly added workload is not going to make me feel more time constrained, but rather, I am going to make sure I have more spare time for other stuff.

I am going to make sure my productivity is raised.

I am going to cut down on some of the habits I used to shun but have since picked up recently.

I am never going to use the word "tired" again.

I am going to get back to my Uni days' shape.

I am going to find back my motivation.

I am going to stop procrastinating and get myself PMP certified as soon as possible instead of wasting my time postponing it the first time round.

I am going to make sure my productivity level is to go up and more personal time is created.

I have wasted too much time.

This is not an aspiration. IT IS A PLEDGE.

One more day before my big project officially starts.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering

No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering is a widely discussed paper on software engineering. It argues that there is no single development which by itself guarantees even one order of magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability and in simplicity. There is no way we see similar in hardware development where there is two-fold gains every two years.

It is a long article but nevertheless interesting.

No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering [via]

陈绮贞的歌陪伴我读papers

陈绮贞的歌 gives me a laid back, feels good kinda feeling. I have been listening to them while reading my never ending papers.

陈绮贞的歌就是有魔力。听了第一次就爱上了。 The only reason for using a mixed of English and Chinese is simply because my Chinese is too weak. Ooops!

Struggles of 76-year old Singapore street scavenger

I so happen to come across the below video from a Facebook sharing. So is a garung-guni man known as scavenger in proper English term? I learnt something today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZQeooRDSo0

Celebrating 51st Birthday of Michael Jackson

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How much should we be insured?

According to a report published a week ago, an average Singaporean needs life insurance protection of $494,851. However, an average life cover for today is only $165,628, which already includes mortgage insurance and CPF savings. The amount of protection needs should ensure it is sufficient to provide enough cash to maintain dependants' current living standards, cover any outstanding debts and funeral expenses.

I did a rough estimation that decades down the road, factoring in inflation and ever increasing hospitalisation fee that usually increases faster than inflation, I am not adequately insured. So, should I buy term, limited life, traditional life, or ILP to raise my current low insured amount to a more comfortable level?

S'poreans under-insured [via]

EZ-Link Season Pass SO SO Expensive

The EZ-Link Season Pass is a travel pass that allows unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services* and rail services (MRT and LRT) within the period of validity of the Season Pass type purchased.

With $155 a month, commuter enjoys 4 train rides a day and unlimited bus trips. Even though the promotional cost of $155 is $15 cheaper than normal, I personally still find it very expensive. If the transport authority wishes to encourage the use of public transport, then they should lower it further.

About the EZ-Link Season Pass [via]

Cash rebates, unrestricted use on Sat to get motorists to switch to off-peak cars

By the end of January next year, motorists can use their off-peak cars on Saturdays and the eves of the five main public holidays, namely New Year, Lunar New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas.

Cash rebates, unrestricted use on Sat to get motorists to switch to off-peak cars [via]

Google Docs: A love letter

See how one lovestruck student collaborates with Google Docs.

A talk with a colleague on his last day

I had a talk with a colleague yesterday on his plans after his last day of employment. I regretted for not able to make it for his farewell lunch last Wednesday because I was at site.

I called and met up with him yesterday and ended up chit-chatting with him for 45 minutes. I learnt that he intended to take a 3 months break from work and just go ahead his 1-man 3 months backpacked trip around Southeast Asia. I admire his courage and determination to travel alone for such a long period especially in countries which do not speak English and Mandarin. His aspirations to travel alone and explore the world sort of aspired me to try travelling alone one day. Perhaps I shall try Taiwan one day.

Stefanie Sun rocks

A nation run by scholars

"Singapore is now run by scholars who do not have experience about the business environment and try to solve the problems by writing papers." -- Tan Kin Lian

How Windows 7 Fills in the Holes Left by Vista

If Vista was the disease, is Windows 7 the cure? A new research report for businesses says yes.

How Windows 7 Fills in the Holes Left by Vista [via]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Abramovich keen to stop big-spending City

Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is determined to back a UEFA proposal that would stop the efforts of heavy spending Manchester City to dominate English and European football. So far, City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has spent £120m in this transfer window (2008) alone to boost the standard of football in City. To prevent City from becoming a powerhouse like Chelsea, Abramovich is supporting an initiative to prevent City from spending too much. It appears funny to me since Abramovich himself spent an approximately £700m on transforming Chelsea (the Blues) into one of football's big hitters over the last six years and this average to about £116m a year, which is close to City's 2008 spendings. Due to the global credit crunch, Abramovich has limited his spendings to a mere £23m in the current transfer window.

In my opinion, the new initiative in controlling over-spending is a good start in reinstating sense back into English and European soccer. It would be sad to witness another fallen reputable football club like Leeds United some years back.

Abramovich keen to stop big-spending City [via]

Google logo shows in ascii art when you search for "ascii art"

If you google for the word "ascii art", you will see Google's logo in ascii art too. This is interesting!

According to the Wikipedia,

ASCII art is a graphic design technique that utilizes computers for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the 95 printable (from a total of 128) characters defined by the ASCII Standard from 1963 and ASCII compliant character sets with proprietary extended characters (beyond the 128 characters of standard 7-bit ASCII). The term is also loosely used to refer to text based art in general.

Google Ascii Art [via]

Mandarin Speaking Mona Lisa

Leonardo Da Vinci most famous art "Mona Lisa" can now converse in mandarin. This is possible with the use of 3D technology, holographic technology, and voice recognition technology. The "talking" Mona Lisa is exhibited in the "World Classic Interactive Arts Exhibition" which opened in Beijing last week. Other than "Mona Lisa", da Vinci's other famous painting "The Last Supper" is also exhibited. "The Last Supper" exhibit is digitally brought to life, in which Jesus talks to the apostles and moves across the plasma canvas.

"Mona Lisa" Turned into Interactive Hologram [via]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gmail finally adds Contact Picker

After more than 5 years, Google Gmail finally adds a VERY basic feature - Contact Picker when composing an email. Previously, the only method to add recipients when composing an email is relying on the auto-complete feature. From now onwards, you can add additional or remove existing recipients from its new Contact Picker. To launch the new Contact Picker, you have to click on "To:" link (or Cc:/Bcc:).

Composing a message? Try the contact chooser [via]

Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?

CIO.com published an article to discuss if FREE antivirus software can be trusted and relied. A study conducted by PCWorld ranked Avira AntiVir Personal first, followed by Alwil Avast Antivirus Home Edition and AVG 8.5 Free.

Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software? [via]
Free Antivirus Software: Side-by-Side Comparison [via]

Extremely tight security in sensitive areas

For the past few days, I noticed the security level imposed in sensitive areas are raised to a level I never seen before. My guess for this beefed-up security is all because of a rumoured sabotage on APEC event to be held in Singapore this coming November. This is the first time I saw 2 military guards standing on an auto jeep, mounted with a machine gun, pointing at incoming vehicles near the guard house in case there are intruders. Checks on all incoming vehicles and visitors were both stringent and thorough.

Keep it up!

Second Payment Received from Google AdSense

I just received my second payment of S$148.02 in the form of a cheque from Google AdSense in three years.

Payer:

GOOGLE INC.
1600 AMPHITHEATRE PARKWAY
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA 94043

Taxman nets $30b

THE taxman collected almost $30 billion in taxes from individuals and companies in the last financial year. That is an increase of 2.4%.

If I remember correctly, $5b can be used to build the Circle Line.

Taxman nets $30b [via]

Queuing to buy a stock tomorrow

After a week of research, I have picked a stock for its dividend. From history trends, dividend yield for the stock is more than 5%. Hope I can get it tomorrow.

The reason for going for stocks with consistent high dividend distribution is because I believe a company capable in giving high and consistent dividends is likely to have a long-term sustained growth strategy and good management. Going for fundamentals is the right way to go. Playing catch-up with ups-and-downs using technical analysis is bad for the weak hearted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AXS Machines with the new D-Pay service accepts only POSB/DBS and Citibank

Since late last year, I noticed there is this new AXS machines with D-Pay services. Near the number-pad, there is this very prominent label showing logos of DBS Bank, POSB and Citibank. My first interpretation is that D-Pay services are available only for these 3 banks.

Today, a friend of mine confirmed that these new AXS machines in fact accept ATM transactions only from the 3 banks - DBS Bank, POSB and Citibank. I was stunned!

From AXS website, it reads,

"The new payment environment is currently available over 180 AXS Stations, which ATM cardholders from DBS Bank, POSB and Citibank are able to carry out their transactions. More banks and financial institutions are expected to announce their participation by end this year. When ATM cards from other local banks are successfully accepted by the new mode, AXS will plan a progressive conversion of all the other AXS Stations to the new payment environment."

Vision Statement for Teachers - "Singapore Teachers: Lead. Care. Inspire"

Teachers in Singapore have created a vision statement to express what they aspire in themselves. The statement is "Singapore Teachers: Lead. Care. Inspire".

MOE launches vision statement to highlight values of teaching profession [via]

Tired standing without much sitting down at work

The work site I am working at does not have many "decent" chairs around for me to rest on. All chairs except 2 are infested by moulds and are not in usable condition.

For the whole of today, I had to either stand around or sit on hard racks with nothing to lean against. My presence for this week's test is merely a supporting role - my service is required only if my advice is needed. I spent my time chit-chatting with my users and reading a 9-pages paper.

What a tiring day of standing! One more day to go!

I own mainly long term growth shares

I currently only hold onto shares that have potential of growth in the long term. To name a few, they are ST Engineering and SMRT. As far as I can, I will hold onto them perpetually and just get dividends. I am currently looking into adding 1 or 2 more high yield blue chips for dividends.

Stocks considered to be of mid-term and cyclical that I currently own are Koh Brothers and Marco Polo Marine. So far, they are both trading above waters. I may consider REITS if they ever start to fall, and some shipping trust when opportunity arrives.

I do have 1 stock that I badly wish to sell off whenever there is an opportunity. I do not understand why I bought that in the first place! The stock is UMS Holdings.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hope those I know of have sold off Hai Leck shares

Just today alone, Hai Leck shares jumped more than 21%. I hope those I know of have sold off all their Hai Leck shares. I just do not find this justifiable and sustainable, at least in the short to mid term horizon.

Go look something else.

張學友 --- 但願人長久

永远的歌神張學友真的不得了。

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's rebuttal of NMP Viswa Sadasivan

Dangerous to let highfalutin ideas go undemolished: MM

Edited transcript of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's rebuttal of NMP Viswa Sadasivan. -ST

Thu, Aug 20, 2009
The Straits Times

SIR, I had not intended to intervene in any debate. I was doing physiotherapy just now and reading the newspapers and I thought I should bring the House back to earth.

Mr Rajaratnam had great virtues in the midst of despondency after a series of race riots when we were thrown out of Malaysia. Our Malays in Singapore were apprehensive that now that we (Chinese) were the majority, we (Chinese) would in turn treat them the way a Malay majority (in Malaysia) treated us. He drafted these words and rose above the present. He was a great idealist. His draft came to me; I trimmed out the unachievable, and the Pledge as it stands is his work after I've trimmed it. What is it? An ideology? No, it's an aspiration. Will we achieve it? I do not know. We'll have to keep on trying. Are we a nation? In transition.

Sir, reference was made to the Constitution. The Constitution of Singapore enjoins us to specially look after the position of the Malays and other minorities. Article 152 says: 'Minorities and Special Position of Malays. It shall be the responsibility of the Government constantly to care for the interests of the racial and religious minorities in Singapore. The Government shall exercise its functions in such manner as to recognise the special position of the Malays who are the indigenous people of Singapore and, accordingly, it should be the responsibility of the Government to protect, safeguard, support, foster, promote their political, educational, religious, economic, social and cultural interests and the Malay language.'

And on Muslim religion, Article 153: 'The Legislature shall by law make provision for regulating Muslim religious affairs and for constituting a council to advise the President in matters of the Muslim religion.'

Our Constitution states expressly that it is a duty of the Government not to treat everybody as equal. It's not reality, it's not practical, it will lead to grave and irreparable damage if we work on that principle.

So the Pledge was an aspiration. As Malays have progressed and more have joined the middle class with university degrees and professional qualifications, we have asked Mendaki to ask them to agree not to have their special rights of free education at university, but to take the fees they were entitled to and use the money to help more disadvantaged Malays.

So we're trying to reach a position where there is a level playing field for everybody but it's going to take decades, if not centuries, and we may never get there.

Now let me read the American Constitution. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, reads: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.' That's 1776.

The US Constitution passed a few years later says: 'We, the people of the United States' (this is the preamble) 'in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings and liberties to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States.'

Nowhere does it say that the blacks would be differently treated. But the blacks did not get the vote until many decades later. Racial segregation was not ended until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s with Martin Luther King and his famous We Dare To Dream speech. Enormous riots took place and eventually, then President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. From 1776, it was more than 200 years before an exceptional half-black American became President.

My colleague (Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan) says we are trying to put square pegs into round holes. Will we ever make the pegs the same? No. You suggest to the Malays that we abolish the (Article 152) provisions in the Constitution, you will have grave disquiet. We start on the basis that this is reality: We will not be able to get a Chinese minister or an Indian minister to persuade Malay parents to look after their daughters more carefully and not have teenage pregnancies which lead to failed marriages. Can a Chinese MP or an Indian MP do that? The Malays will say to him: 'You're interfering in my private life.' But we (the Government) have funded Mendaki and Muis (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), and they have a committee to try and reduce the numbers of such delinquents.

The way that Singapore has made progress is by a realistic step-by-step approach. It may take us centuries before we get to a similar position as the Americans. They go to wars, the blacks and the whites together. In the World War I, the blacks did not carry arms, they carried the ammo, they were not given the honour to fight. In World War II, they went back, these ex-GIs - those who could make it to university were given the GI grants - they went back to their black ghettos and stayed there. Today there are still black ghettos.

These are the realities. The American Constitution does not say that you will treat blacks differently but our Constitution spells out the duty of the Government to treat Malays and other minorities with extra care.

So the basis on which the NMP has placed his argument is false and flawed. It's completely untrue, it's got no basis whatsoever. I thought to myself, perhaps I should bring this House back to earth and remind everybody what our starting point is. If we don't recognise where we started from, we will fail.

Nobody can speak with the knowledge that I have; I knew the circumstances in which the Pledge was made. I admire the sentiments of Mr Raja. In August 1965, my worry was, what would the Malays in Singapore do, now that they knew they were a minority? When I returned on Aug9, on the advice of our Special Branch, I did not go back to my house. I stayed at Sri Temasek (in the Istana), which was my official residence. I stayed there for one week, then I went to Changi Cottage and stayed there for two months to make sure that everything subsided.

These are realities. Today, 44 years later, we have a Malay community, I believe, at peace, convinced that we are not discriminating against them, convinced that we are including them in our society.

NMP Viswa used to work in Sinda. I'm told for 10 years. He will know Indians are not equal. Brahmins will not be in Sinda. It is the non-Brahmins who are in Sinda. So I think it is dangerous to allow such highfalutin ideas to go undemolished and mislead Singapore.



No insurance if flying

If ever my project is scheduled for a flight, my working colleagues will be life-insured with TPD cover. As a seconded staff, I won't be insured.

Wonder if I should still fly.

周杰倫 --- 一路上有你 (AMATEUR)


OMG!!! 周杰倫 trying to sing 歌神張學友 song in such an amateurish way! Please do better the next time round. THANKS!

Thinking of buying term and invest the rest

As titled but perhaps not too much on term since I have zero commitments. Need quality time for deep consideration.

COMEX 2009 Expanded

The coming COMEX 2009, held at the Suntec City from 10 to 13 September, has expanded to 345,000 square feet of exhibit space, up from its original 330,000 square feet. Level 2 ballrooms are used this time round for the extra space.

It has been VERY long since I last bought anything for myself.

COMEX 2009 [via]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

真的看得很开了

Ho Ching named 5th most powerful and is mistaken as first lady by Forbes

Forbes named Singapore Prime Minister wife and CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching, as the 5th most powerful woman in the world. Ho Ching is mistaken as Singapore's first lady! OMG!

I wonder how can Forbes makes such a blunder. For a complete list, refer to here.

MM Lee says give Malays special position

Minister Mentor rose and remarked that the Constitution requires the government to give the indigenous Malays special position. I remember the last time MM Lee ever spoke in a Parliament debate was MANY years back.

So, does this mean our National Pledge on equality irregardless of race, language or religion is merely a vision, an aspiration?

MM rebuts NMP [via]

張學友 --- 遙遠的她


I am beginning to LOVE the above song! Technique from the 歌神.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Greenback Effect - By Warren E. Buffett

The Greenback Effect
The New York Times
By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: August 18, 2009


Omaha

IN nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.

The butterfly effect reaches into the financial world as well. Here, the United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy — greenback emissions.

To be sure, we’ve been doing this for a reason I resoundingly applaud. Last fall, our financial system stood on the brink of a collapse that threatened a depression. The crisis required our government to display wisdom, courage and decisiveness. Fortunately, the Federal Reserve and key economic officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations responded more than ably to the need.

They made mistakes, of course. How could it have been otherwise when supposedly indestructible pillars of our economic structure were tumbling all around them? A meltdown, though, was avoided, with a gusher of federal money playing an essential role in the rescue.

The United States economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on a slow path to recovery. But enormous dosages of monetary medicine continue to be administered and, before long, we will need to deal with their side effects. For now, most of those effects are invisible and could indeed remain latent for a long time. Still, their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself.

To understand this threat, we need to look at where we stand historically. If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.

Because of this gigantic deficit, our country’s “net debt” (that is, the amount held publicly) is mushrooming. During this fiscal year, it will increase more than one percentage point per month, climbing to about 56 percent of G.D.P. from 41 percent. Admittedly, other countries, like Japan and Italy, have far higher ratios and no one can know the precise level of net debt to G.D.P. at which the United States will lose its reputation for financial integrity. But a few more years like this one and we will find out.

An increase in federal debt can be financed in three ways: borrowing from foreigners, borrowing from our own citizens or, through a roundabout process, printing money. Let’s look at the prospects for each individually — and in combination.

The current account deficit — dollars that we force-feed to the rest of the world and that must then be invested — will be $400 billion or so this year. Assume, in a relatively benign scenario, that all of this is directed by the recipients — China leads the list — to purchases of United States debt. Never mind that this all-Treasuries allocation is no sure thing: some countries may decide that purchasing American stocks, real estate or entire companies makes more sense than soaking up dollar-denominated bonds. Rumblings to that effect have recently increased.

Then take the second element of the scenario — borrowing from our own citizens. Assume that Americans save $500 billion, far above what they’ve saved recently but perhaps consistent with the changing national mood. Finally, assume that these citizens opt to put all their savings into United States Treasuries (partly through intermediaries like banks).

Even with these heroic assumptions, the Treasury will be obliged to find another $900 billion to finance the remainder of the $1.8 trillion of debt it is issuing. Washington’s printing presses will need to work overtime.

Slowing them down will require extraordinary political will. With government expenditures now running 185 percent of receipts, truly major changes in both taxes and outlays will be required. A revived economy can’t come close to bridging that sort of gap.

Legislators will correctly perceive that either raising taxes or cutting expenditures will threaten their re-election. To avoid this fate, they can opt for high rates of inflation, which never require a recorded vote and cannot be attributed to a specific action that any elected official takes. In fact, John Maynard Keynes long ago laid out a road map for political survival amid an economic disaster of just this sort: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

I want to emphasize that there is nothing evil or destructive in an increase in debt that is proportional to an increase in income or assets. As the resources of individuals, corporations and countries grow, each can handle more debt. The United States remains by far the most prosperous country on earth, and its debt-carrying capacity will grow in the future just as it has in the past.

But it was a wise man who said, “All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” We don’t want our country to evolve into the banana-republic economy described by Keynes.

Our immediate problem is to get our country back on its feet and flourishing — “whatever it takes” still makes sense. Once recovery is gained, however, Congress must end the rise in the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio and keep our growth in obligations in line with our growth in resources.

Unchecked carbon emissions will likely cause icebergs to melt. Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar’s destiny lies with Congress.

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

The Greenback Effect [via]

张学友 --- 每天爱你多一些

National Day Rally 2009 Alternative by Mr Brown

This is funny!
http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2009/08/the-mrbrown-show-national-day-rally-2009.html

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finance Minister Tharman simply didn't know what is an answer

Members of Parliament threw question after question at Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam asking him to get Temasek to share with the public what went on behind the scenes but he would not budge.

He said that disclosing the information would serve no strategic purpose and that was not unlike the actions of other publicly-listed companies in the private sector.

'People do want to know, there is curiosity, it is a matter of public interest. That is not sufficient reason to disclose information. It is not sufficient that there be curiosity and interest that you want to disclose information,' he said in response to questioning from Mr Low Thia Khiang, opposition MP for Hougang.

I just do not understand what makes Mr Tharman think that citizens' call is not sufficient and deserving for disclosure of information. I thought the billion dollars are taxpayers' money?

No goodwill for Goodyear [via]

Reader's Digest to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

My secondary school reading companion, Reader's Digest, is to file for bankruptcy in the US. This is part of a restructuring plan to reduce its debt burden. According to them, operations in other countries including UK are not affected.

Reader's Digest to file for bankruptcy in the US [via]

Internet Explorer 8 comes out to be the safest browser

Two tests by NSS Labs compared popular browsers for their ability to block web sites pushing malware and phishing. It turns out that Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 to be the safest. The below show browsers that were tested with their respective results:
  • Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 8 (81%)
  • Mozilla Firefox 3 (27%)
  • Apple Safari 4 (21%)
  • Google Chrome 2 (7%)
  • Opera 10 Beta (1%)
Is Internet Explorer 8 the Safest Browser? [via]

My review on Pixar movie "UP"

Last weekend, I watched Pixar movie "UP" in 3D with a friend. Most of the time, after stepping out of a movie theater, I would forget the movie - both plot and cast. I must say I never really research on any movies, before or after watching them, except for 2 movies - About a Boy and Catch me if you can. For the latter 2 movies, I read books on them before watching.

Why am I writing a review on "UP"? I thought this movie by Pixar is more than a cartoon, it had got many lessons to be drawn from.

The story is about an old man by the name of Carl Fredricksen who makes his way to a cliff - Paradise Falls, somewhere in South America, using a self-made flying house, lifted by thousands of helium filled balloons. Carl and his beloved lifelong partner, Ellie, both were so much fascinated with high-flying and travelling around the world that they eventually got married. Though their love life was rendered in a short 10 minutes sequence, it was just right for me to have a deep impression. Both always wanted to visit the Paradise Falls but Ellie passed away before making it. In this movie, Carl was reminded time and again of his promise to bring Ellie to the promised (they crossed their hearts) Paradise Falls. I still remember clearly how Carl and Ellie crossed their hearts.

This show is one of the most emotional and touching movie I ever watched. It explores a deep love between a couple with Carl trying to fulfill a promise in bringing Ellie to Paradise Falls, and eventually a willingness in letting go. After the passing of Ellie, Carl converted their house into a flying house. As if Ellie's spirit still existed in the house, Carl would sometimes talk to it and assuring her that he will bring it or her to the Paradise Falls using balloons.

The adventure was accompanied by an unexpected stowaway, Russell, who claimed himself to be from the Wilderness Explorer (WE). This 8 year old boy never really had the WE experience but he definitely had the same enthusiasm to adventure as Carl when he was young.

After they landed on South America, both Carl and Russell marched slowly towards the direction of the Paradise Falls while pulling the house along with him like a balloon. A fight with dogs and a villian, Charles Muntz, ended Carl losing his house. Carl was a man who was regretful, holding tightly to dreams that he will eventually bring Ellie to the promised Paradise Falls. Towards the end of the movie, he realized that missing one destination does not mean much. Being together, sharing hardships, joy, happiness, and adventure together since they knew each other were most important.

"UP" is more than a cartoon. It has animations and rich colours for kids, and adult themes filled with emotions and lessons to be learnt for adults. "UP" is a perfect movie with perfect cinematography for all age groups and demographics. I recommend "UP" to be watched in 3D.

"UP" SOARS!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Man Utd won first game

I am glad Man Utd won the first game against Birmingham. This was made especially sweet when the scorer of the match was Rooney. If only 75th minute substitute Michael Owen could score, Man Utd would have given an answer to the world that they can still win titles without Ronaldo.

Rooney strike cheers champions [via]

Tough decisions to be made by today

By end of today, I need to make 2 very tough decisions.
  1. Tell my decision to my freelance boss if I am interested to take up a project in creating an Accounting Software. If the software turns up to be successful, I may get to enjoy royalties fee too.

  2. Tell my decision to a friend if I am okay to be part of a 5-min filming production.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guide to Wisdom Tooth Extraction

The following are tips to help you prepare for your surgical appointment.
  1. Clothing - Wear loose, comfortable clothing with sleeves that are easily rolled up.
  2. Jewelry - Remove watches and bracelets.
  3. Transportation - An escort is mandatory for surgery. The patient must be escorted to the office and the escort must stay at the office during the surgery. Surgeries rarely take longer than 60 minutes and the recover room stay is rarely longer than 20-30 minutes.
  4. Diet - Patients must refrain from EATING and DRINKING for six hours prior to surgery.
  5. Medications - Patients must adhere to their normal medications prior to surgery. All maintenance medications such as high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid medications must be taken on schedule. Take medicine with a small amount of water or juice. THIS IS THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO RULE #4.
After surgery, a 48 to 72 hour recovery is expected.

Source: http://www.cincinnati-oralsurgery.com/wisdom.htm

Immediately following surgery, do take note of the below. I noted them down because I will make the same mistake if I am the patient.
  • Do not use straws. Drink from a glass.
  • Caution: If you suddenly sit up or stand from a lying position you may become dizzy. If you are lying down following surgery, make sure you sit for one minute before standing.
  • In the event of nausea and/or vomiting following surgery, do not take anything by mouth for at least an hour including the prescribed medicine. You should then sip on coke, tea or ginger ale. You should sip slowly over a fifteen-minute period. When the nausea subsides you can begin taking solid foods and the prescribed medicine.
  • Brushing your teeth is okay - just be gentle at the surgical sites.
  • If you are involved in regular exercise, be aware that your normal nourishment intake is reduced. Exercise may weaken you. If you get light headed, stop exercising.
Source: http://www.austinoms.com/surgical-instructions/after-wisdom-removal.html

Silence all these years 孫燕姿演唱會

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One-Man show at work

The title of this blog entry says it all - One-Man show at work. I am getting really tired having to do everything - development, testing, deployment, and most of the documentation - all alone.

Talking about this week is already going to make my lifespan shorter. Below is my very packed schedule for this month and I am expected to be present for ALL of them! No one is going to replace me even if I were to fall sick, am declared busy for my second project, or shout out loud that I have a lecture to attend. I envy members working on other portions when I see they able to rotate among themselves. They can afford to rotate among themselves and testing can still carry on without any problem. Take yesterday for example, one member from the other group actually took few hours off to NUH for a medical checkup but testing was never disrupted because there is always someone else to take over him. While one of them is performing testing with users, the other one can do modifications on documents and write minutes and complete them on the same day.

I only have a pair of hands.
03 to 05 Aug - OEM Datalink Acceptance for Project 1
11 Aug - Internal CDR for Project 2
12 to 14 Aug - Internat SWAT for Project 1
18 to 20 Aug - SWAT for Project 1
25 Aug - External CDR for Project 2
25 to 27 Aug - LAT for Project 1
With the above schedule, I am only left with 4 working days of free time but then of course this so-called free time will not be free anyway. They will be used to allow time to clear some newly-found bugs or to transport equipments to and fro from lab to site.

Launch Of PublicTransport@SG Mobile

From 13 August 2009, commuters including tourists, can access public transport information on-the-go via handphone and PDA with the launch of the mobile version of PublicTransport@SG or PublicTransport@SG Mobile.

I personally like their Bus Service Route Info feature of allowing me to download a service route in JPG format.

PublicTransport@SG Mobile can be accessed at http://www.publictransport.sg/mobile.

Launch Of PublicTransport@SG Mobile [via]

Court Bans Microsoft From Selling Word

A judge from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word in its current form due to patent infringement. Versions of Word 2003, 2007 and 2010 have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML and the court see this as a patent infringement.

Court Bans Microsoft From Selling Word [via]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi found guilty of breaking house arrest

This news of Aung San Suu Kyi being found guilty of breaking house arrest rules and accused of harbouring an American reporter does not come as a surprise to me since I predicted this move could be a political one in keeping her from participating in next year's election.

Aung San Suu Kyi found guilty of breaking house arrest [via]

Monday, August 10, 2009

希望不会太迟

明天我会尝试把我上个星期捡到的还给物主。结果如何我真的不知道。

我希望一切不会太迟。

Why you shouldn't add your boss on Facebook?

Modules shortlisted for next semester

The below are 3 modules shortlisted for my coming semester which will start tomorrow. Out of these 3, I shall choose 2 from them.
CS5212 - Software Project Management
Date: Mon 1830-2030 S15/618
Exam: 28 NOV 2009 Morning

CS5261 - Telecoms and International Network
Date: Tue 1830-2030 S15/618
Exam: 24 NOV 2009 Afternoon

CS5268 - Electronic Government
Date: Thu 1830-2030 S15/618
Exam: 03 DEC 2009 Afternoon
Hopefully I have the time to attend my lectures.

Typhoon Morakot wreaks havoc and collapsed a hotel

Reading how Typhoon Morakot creates havoc in southern Taiwan, I pray that the history making flood levels will recide as soon as possible so rebuilding works can be started immediately. Floods have since resulted in massive infrastructure losses, traffic disrupted, schools destroyed, aid to victims restricted, and a hotel collapsed.

Approximately 4 years ago in Aug, I was in Taiwan, Heng Chun and Kenting, when Typhoon Talim struck. Though that typhoon also took some lives away, the damages weren't definitely as severe as the present Typhoon Morakok.

Whenver any of my friends were to visit countries near South China Sea during the summer period of Aug, I will definitely advise them on a possible risk of a typhoon.

Typhoon Morakot triggers floods in Taiwan [via]

HK investors protest DBS

HK investors protest DBS
The Straits Times
Aug 9, 2009

HONG KONG - ABOUT 100 Hong Kong investors burned by complex financial products linked to failed US investment bank Lehman Brothers protested on Sunday, demanding securities regulators help them negotiate a settlement.

Tens of thousands of retail investors in this Chinese-ruled financial hub were hit by Lehman's collapse in September.

Hong Kong securities regulators announced a settlement deal last month for one group of investors who purchased certain Lehman-linked products through local banks, but the agreement did not cover products sold by Singaporean bank DBS Group Holdings.

Sunday's protesters were demanding securities regulators step in to strike a deal for DBS clients. The demonstrators bought so-called 'Constellation' notes from DBS - financial products that are linked to the credit ratings of a group of financial institutions, including Lehman.

About 6,900 Hong Kongers bought HK$2.3 billion (S$427 million) worth of the failed investments, according to K.C. Lok, an organiser of the disgruntled investors.

'DBS lacks a conscience', 'DBS is a swindler', the protesters chanted at a park in Hong Kong's downtown Central financial district.

Lok, who bought just over HK$100,000 in the Constellation notes, accused DBS of misleading its customers into believing the financial products were conservative investments.

'Many of the investors shifted their money from timed deposits,' Mr Lok said.

DBS Hong Kong spokeswoman Glendy Chu said on Sunday that the bank had explained the risks of the products and offered compensation to investors in cases where there was evidence of questionable sales practices.

The deal announced last month would see 16 local banks returning 60 or 70 per cent of the principal to thousands of investors in a payout that amounts to HK$6.3 billion. -- AP

DBS Bank: 'definitely' no note buyback

DBS Bank: 'definitely' no note buyback
China Daily
By George Ng (HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-08-08 07:46

HONG KONG: DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd will "definitely" not buy back the Constellation Notes from its clients despite the fact that other banks have agreed to buy back another structured product they sold to investors, the bank's top executive said Friday.

"We have explained very clearly the risks involved when we sold the product to investors ... we have reviewed all complaints (regarding the sales of the product) and have made proper compensation in cases that involved mis-selling," said Chief Executive Officer Amy Yip, fielding media questions at a press briefing for the group's quarterly results.

"There will be no further settlement," she said. "We definitely won't buy back the notes." Yip emphasized that the structure of the Constellation notes is very different from the so-called Lehman Brothers minibonds.

Last month, 16 banks offered to pay at least 60 cents on the dollar to investors for the minibonds guaranteed by Lehman Brothers that lost their value after the US investment bank collapsed.

Linked to the credit of a basket of companies including Lehman, the value of the Constellation notes will be reduced whenever any of the reference institutions suffers from credit events such as bankruptcy or default.

DBS said in a statement in October last year that the possibility of the 4,700 investors losing their entire investment of $241-million in the Constellation notes "is likely to materialize".

Meanwhile, Koh Boon Hui, chairman of DBS Group Holdings Ltd, parent of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, told the same press briefing that the group will "definitely" not reduce its headcounts further.

Rather, the bank will do "necessary" recruiting in Hong Kong as business improves with the economy, Yip added.

DBS, Singapore's largest bank and one of Southeast Asia's largest banks, cut 900 jobs late last year after the global financial crisis hit the world, with half of the headcount reductions coming from its Hong Kong unit.

The DBS group yesterday reported a net profit of 552 million Singapore dollars (S$) in the second quarter, up 21 percent from the first quarter as revenue growth boosted earnings before bad-debt allowances to a record S$1.6 billion.

On a year-on-year basis, net profit fell 17 percent from S$668 million as improved operating performance was offset by higher bad-debt allowances, the group said.

DBS set aside S$466 million for bad debts, almost eight times more than a year earlier, with non-performing loan ratio rising to 2.8 percent from 1.4 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, the bank's Hong Kong unit, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, reported a net profit of HK$532 million for the second quarter, down 21 percent from a year ago as non-interest income dropped 20 percent to S$632 million while bad-debt provisions surged 61 percent to S$373 million.

Compared with the first quarter, net profit was up 12 percent as net interest income improved by 5 percent to $1.19 billion while bad-debt provisions declined by 17 percent.

The non-performing loan ratio of the Hong Kong unit rose sharply from 1.7 percent in December to 2.6 percent in March and then retreated to 2.4 percent in June.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How to Improve Your Memory Video

The average person forgets 30% of what he’s heard after 20 minutes, and 50% of what he’s heard within half an hour!

How to Improve Your Memory Video [via]

Investment quote from Dr Spencer Johnson

"Peaks and valleys are connected. The errors you make in today's good times create tomorrow's bad times. The wise things you do in today's bad times create tomorrow's good times." - Dr Spencer Johnson

SAF Group Term Life Insurance

The SAF Group Insurance Scheme, underwritten by Aviva Ltd, provides 24 hours' worldwide coverage and is affordable and comprehensive. All NSmen aged 55 and below are eligible to apply. The NSmen's dependant male children are also eligible for coverage from age fourteen days to their 18th year birthday. The insurable age for NSmen's female children has been extended from 18 to 25. The scheme allows the NSmen and their spouses who are insured to continue with their insurance up to age 70. The insurance pays for all forms of death (except suicide within one year from the date of commencement of insurance), total and permanent disablement and permanent partial dismemberment arising from personal accident.

Under the SAF Group Insurance scheme, the NSmen have the option of selecting the sum assured in multiples of $10,000, from a minimum of $20,000 to a maximum of $400,000. For each insured sum of $10,000, the NSman has to pay a monthly premium of $1.28 and $1 for his dependants.

Eligible Personnel
  • All full time servicemen (including full time national servicemen).
  • Defence Executive Officers (DXO).
  • Public Officers employed in MINDEF.
  • SAF Operational Ready NSmen.
  • Spouse of the above insured person.
  • Children, at least age 14 days’ old, of insured member.
I thought this scheme is certainly very attractive and affordable.

SAF Group Term Life Insurance by Aviva [via]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Prime Minister’s National Day Message

My fellow Singaporeans,

Singapore has had a turbulent and challenging year. In January, dark clouds had gathered all around us. Our economy was hit by the worst storm in our history. Exports went down by a third, and manufacturing declined sharply, since we produced for world markets. Given this backdrop, we projected GDP to shrink this year by 6 per cent to 9 per cent.

We could not avoid the storm, but we did not passively resign ourselves to fate. Instead, we mobilized Singaporeans to tackle the crisis together. We brought the Budget forward to January, implemented a Resilience Package, and drew on past reserves to help fund the Special Risk Sharing Initiative and the Jobs Credit.

We are now in a stronger position. The global economic situation has somewhat stabilised. Our measures have cushioned workers from the worst of the storm. Our economy was among the worst hit, yet we still have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

Singaporeans too have responded resolutely and cohesively. These factors helped the Singapore economy to bounce back strongly in the second quarter. As a result, growth in the first half of the year was -6.5 per cent – a very significant contraction, but less bad than we had feared. Hence we have revised up our growth projection for 2009. Our economy will still shrink, but only by between 4 per cent and 6 per cent.

But it is too early to celebrate. The outlook remains clouded. The advanced economies are not expected to bounce back soon. Our exports remain much lower than last year, and companies like SIA are still facing very tough conditions. We might see another wave of retrenchments later in the year. So we must stay on guard for more challenges to come.

Beyond this year, we expect the global situation to remain difficult for some time. But the adverse external environment does not mean that Singapore cannot grow. We can and must look for new ways to develop and prosper. Opportunities still exist, especially in Asia, but we need all our ingenuity and resourcefulness to find and exploit them.

Businesses and workers are already adjusting to the new world. Many firms are changing their business processes, finding innovative ways to cut costs and generate revenues, and aggressively seeking out new markets. Workers are taking advantage of the SPUR programme to upgrade their skills and retrain for new fields. The unions are cooperating closely with employers to adapt to the changed conditions, instead of resisting change. We must keep this up.

In the midst of recession, as we tackle the immediate challenges, we must also look to the future. The Economic Strategies Committee is studying how we can transform our economy. The Committee will examine how Singapore can find new opportunities, build new capabilities, sustain balanced growth and overcome our constraints. We are involving the private sector, to gather the best ideas that can enable us to prosper. I am confident the Committee will have good proposals when it reports next year. Our responses in the crisis will ensure that once the US and Europe emerge from their troubles, and the world economy recovers, Singapore will forge ahead again in a dynamic Asia.

Up close, our current difficulties may appear daunting; but we should see them against a longer perspective. It has been 50 years since we attained self-government in 1959. Over this half century, Singapore has encountered many serious challenges – racial riots in the 1960s, oil shocks in the 1970s, a major recession in the 1980s, the Asian Crisis in the 1990s, the 9/11 attacks and SARS in this decade. Each time our people have rallied and prevailed, hence Singapore has continued to thrive and prosper, and arrived here today.

We did not start out as one people. Our forefathers were different peoples from different lands, who had come to Singapore to seek better lives for themselves and their children. But our formative years fighting for independence, then striving as a new nation to survive against the odds, brought us closer together. Each time we were challenged, we responded as one, everyone pulling together and working for the common good. And each success further cemented our cohesion, and helped us to meet the next challenge.

We are doing this again in this crisis. Everyone of us – government and people, employers and unions – is working together, keeping companies viable and competitive, preserving jobs and livelihoods, and enhancing social safety nets like Workfare and ComCare. Even though this crisis may be a severe test, but our history and record give us confidence that we will once again turn it into an opportunity to strengthen our social compact, and upgrade our economy.

We have responded to the outbreak of Influenza A(H1N1) in the same way. We worked hard to delay and slow down the spread of the new virus in Singapore. Our efforts depended not only on the healthcare system and professionals, but also on citizens being vigilant and socially responsible. We bought ourselves precious time to learn more about the virus and gear up our defences.

Whether fighting the recession or the flu, we made sure every Singaporean knows he is not alone, but that the community and the country are behind him. So long as you make the effort and do your best, the rest of us will help you to pull through.

This unity is key to our success in many fields. We must work hard to strengthen it, and to bridge potential divides within our society, be it between Singaporeans and new arrivals, between rich and poor, or most fundamental of all, between the different races and religions. We often see ethnic strife and religious conflicts in other countries. This last year alone, we have witnessed the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and the recent bombings in Jakarta. In Singapore we have to respect each other’s cultures, practices and beliefs, build trust and harmony between our communities, and gradually enlarge the secular common space which all groups share. In this way, we can become one people, one nation, and one Singapore.

We are well placed to deal with these challenges. We are not just pursuing economic growth, strengthening our society, or remaking our city, but creating a new Singapore.

We are improving our living environment, and developing better amenities for the community, more green spaces and park connectors. We are creating more avenues for students to advance and opening up more opportunities to go to university. We are building new hospitals, improving step-down care, and making healthcare more accessible and affordable to all. We are also revitalising the city – upgrading housing estates all over the island, refreshing our downtown into a premier shopping and entertainment venue, and creating a new skyline around Marina Bay, which is taking shape day by day.

My fellow Singaporeans, in the half century since we attained self government, we have been tested many times, but we have also created many possibilities for ourselves. Let us stand shoulder-to-shoulder, so that whether it rains or shines, we can work together and achieve the best results for Singapore. This is how we build a better and more vibrant nation, and make Singapore a special place that we are all proud to call our home.

I wish all Singaporeans a Happy National Day.

National Day Message 2009 [via]

How to Upgrade the Windows 7 RC to RTM (Final Release)

Microsoft just released a final version of Windows 7 yesterday for MS Technet subscribers. However, to upgrade directly from RC to RTM, you will need some workaround to bypass Windows check on version compatibility check.

How-To Geek published a workaround on the quick and easy workaround upgrade method.

How to Upgrade the Windows 7 RC to RTM (Final Release) [via]

Special bonus for 2009

Glad to receive an email from my HR that there will be a National Day special bonus this year. Though it is $550, $50 short as compared to last year, at least they are still giving out despite the current weaker economic outlook. This year's announcement came in late, causing many speculations and disappointments that there may not have any National Day bonus this year.

I am glad my company decides that motivation among employees is especially important.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal briefly down due to DDos

It is reported that Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal were briefly down due to DDos. I noticed the outages for Twitter and Facebook myself few hours ago.

Twitter Hit by DDoS Attack; Other Sites Wobble [via]

Is Windows 7 going to be postponed?

Is Windows 7 going to be postponed? It is reported that a "major" bug is found on Windows 7 and this may end up Microsoft having no choice but to release a patch immediately after Windows 7 arrives on October 22. So far, Microsoft has denied rumours on a possible postponement of Windows 7 release.

OMG! Windows 7 release date canceled! (Not.) [via]

Thursday, August 06, 2009

An Introduction to SQL Server FileStream

Filestream allows us to store and manage unstructured data in SQL Server more easily. Initially, the accounts of FILESTREAM assumed prodigious powers of concentration and cognition, and we mortals all recoiled numbly. However, it became clear that we were missing out on some extraordinarily useful functionality, so we asked Jacob Sebastian to come up with a simple and clear-cut account of the FILESTREAM feature in SQL Server 2008. You'll agree he has managed the feat superbly.

An Introduction to SQL Server FileStream [via]

Shagged out after late work from Changi Airbase

Today is my very first time I ever had to work till so late (10:30pm to be exact) in Changi Airbase (CAB). My many other times working late were all in my comfortable lab, definitely not in a dusty environment like CAB.

The final 5 hours for today was a 5 hours endurance test. The purpose of the test is to make sure the system will not run into faults during the endurance test. An hour of the test was spent dining at Charlie's Corner at Changi Village while the rest were spent sitting around doing nothing.

Looks like there will be more such "shagged out" late work in CAB.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Selling 14-pairs of 1-day Acuvue @ S$30

Anyone interested in buying 14 pairs of 1-day acuvue (power is 700) at SGD30 from me? I am helping a friend to sell this item. Those who are interested can drop me a message.

I guess this shall be the most difficult item ever sold by me.

What day was "8 November, 1981"?

On 8 November 1981, it was the Day of Ashura in Singapore. And of course, it's my ...

Full result from WolframAlpha
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=8+November%2C+1981

Mary Chia going to be listed soon

It is shocking to me that Mary Chia is going to be listed on the Singapore Exchange soon but I am not going for it.

My personal impression on the company is not very positive.

Monday, August 03, 2009

GE agents return commission

Great Eastern announced on Aug 31 that it is making a one-time redemption offer to its GreatLink Choice (GLC) policyholders.

Today's copy the Straits Times mentioned about 1,000 Great Eastern agents are told to return up to S$12.6 million in commissions received from policies they sold up to four years ago. By simple arithmetic, each agent will need to return $12,600. That's a lot of commission!

GE agents return commission [via]

Inside the White House: Letters to the President


Every day, President Obama reads ten letters from the public in order to stay in tune with America's issues and concerns. "Letters to the President" is an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process of how those ten letters make it to the President's desk from among the tens of thousands of letters, faxes, and e-mails that flood the White House each day. August 3, 2009.

Met up with Israel vendor today

Today is my first time meeting up with my Israel vendor. My impression on them is they are really very street smart. When you talk to them, just make sure don't even think of trying to "smoke" them. Other than being street smart, they really 不帕死活. Seeing the way how they handle electrical cables and high radar frequency cables tell me they are neither afraid of being electrocuted nor fearful of RF signals. I must salute them.

They will be with us until Wednesday.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Notice of Early Redemption of Surf Deposit 41 SGD Tranche A

DBS Bank announced that they will early redeem Surf Deposit 41 SGD Tranche A on 29 July 2009.

The early redemption amount on 29 July 2009:
  • 100% of your Principal Amount
  • a final payout of 0.1012% of your Principal Amount.
On Aug 31, Great Eastern announced a One-time Redemption offer to their GreatLink Choice policyholders - yet another structured product.

Notice of Early Redemption of Surf Deposit 41 SGD Tranche A [via]

Is the world becoming more practical?

I saw the below comment on Person A's photo posted on Facebook. Person A's photo is a photo he and his new car. I do not know any of them.

B: nice. got girlfriend already?
A: this is the action plan towards that milestone. haha. =)

Is the world becoming more practical? I believe so.

Malaysian protestors in lockup after rally

Police breaks up protests in Malaysia after the opposition setup the biggest street protest in nearly two years. The police were firing tear gas and chemical-laced water at thousands demanding an end to a decades-old security law - Internal Security Act (ISA).

Dozens in lockup after rally [via]

Malaysia looks set to be in a dramatic change.

M'sian newspapers challenged [via]

Da Vinci Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man is a world-renowned drawing created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1487. It is accompanied by notes based on the work of the famed architect, Vitruvius Pollio. The drawing, which is in pen and ink on paper, depicts a male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man.

According to Leonardo's notes in the accompanying text, written in mirror writing, it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body as described in Vitruvius:
  • a palm is the width of four fingers
  • a foot is the width of four palms (i.e., 12 inches)
  • a cubit is the width of six palms
  • a pace is four cubits
  • a man's height is four cubits (and thus 24 palms)
  • the length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height
  • the distance from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of a man's height
  • the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man's height
  • the distance from the bottom of the neck to the hairline is one-sixth of a man's height
  • the maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of a man's height
  • the distance from the middle of the chest to the top of the head is a quarter of a man's height
  • the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of a man's height
  • the distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of a man's height
  • the length of the hand is one-tenth of a man's height
  • the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose is one-third of the length of the head
  • the distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third of the length of the face
  • the length of the ear is one-third of the length of the face
  • the length of a man's foot is one-sixth of his height
Source from Wikipedia [via]

Is Lim Swee Say recommending companies to lay-off employees?

Many times, I really do not understand what is our Labour Chief, Lim Swee Say, talking about.

10 workers to work as 12
The Straits Times
Aug 1, 2009

THE productivity of workers in Singapore is declining and labour chief Lim Swee Say has a suggestion on how companies can help turn it around. It is by doing more to develop new markets for their products.

He made the call to companies on Friday in response to feedback from many of them that measures like the Jobs Credit wage subsidy scheme are to be blamed.

Such government aid has resulted in these companies holding on to more workers than they need. They had noted that when 10 workers are retained to do the job of eight or nine workers, short-term productivity suffers.

Mr Lim, however, felt that the Government was doing the right thing by introducing help measures to save jobs.

To get around the short-term impact on labour productivity, which is a measure of the output per worker, he urged companies to 'find ways to prepare these 10 workers, so that by the time the upturn comes, (they) can produce the output of 11 to 12 workers'.

Among the things companies can do to prepare the workers are to develop new technology and design innovative products and services, he said. Also, they could find new markets and generate more revenue from existing markets, he suggested.

Mr Lim, secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, gave these ideas at NTUC's first National Day observance ceremony at its headquarters in One Marina Boulevard.

His comments come amid official concern with Singapore's labour productivity, which has been falling since late 2007. It has dropped by 15.4 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Workers too can do their part and Mr Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, reminded them yet again to improve their skills and be more adaptable than those in other countries.

Lim Swee Say, Labour Chief and at the same time Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, first commented the ineffectiveness in the Jobs Credit Scheme (JCS) but then later mentioned the government introduced correct measures to save jobs. In the later part of the article, Mr Lim said ideally, 10 workers should reproduce 11 to 12 workers' effort. Being the Labour Chief himself, is he suggesting to companies to lay off more employees?

10 workers to work as 12 [via]

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Pwnie Award Winners

he winners of the Pwnie Awards were announced on July 29, 2009 at a ceremony at the BlackHat USA conference in Las Vegas.

Pwnie Award Winners [via]

Great Eastern One-time Redemption Offer to GreatLink Choice Policyholders Should Affect Shareholders Only

Great Eastern announced on Aug 31 that it is making a one-time redemption offer to its GreatLink Choice (GLC) policyholders. The offer will be open for acceptance from 3 August to 28 August 2009. During the offer period, GLC policyholders can, if they so choose, have their GLC units cancelled under this redemption offer and receive a sum equal to the original purchase price of $1.00 per unit, less the total annual payouts received to-date. With this, over 18,000 policyholders will be getting a full refund on the invested sum which amounts to approximately $250 million.

After reading GE financial report, the cost in the redemption is most likely to be borne by the shareholders of GE and its parent company, OCBC Bank. This is fair.

I hope the other financial institutions can take Great Eastern as their role model and come out a fair compensation to investors who have lost in structured products including the Lehman Minibonds, DBS High Notes, Morgan Stanley Pinnacle Notes and the Merill Lynch Jubilee Notes. This is a win-win situation for both Great Eastern and its policyholders. I hope Great Eastern reputation can be enhanced from this redemption.

Great Eastern Announces One-time Redemption Offer to GreatLink Choice Policyholders

Great Eastern today announced that it is making a one-time redemption offer to its GreatLink Choice (GLC) policyholders. The offer will be open for acceptance from 3 August to 28 August 2009. During the offer period, GLC policyholders can, if they so choose, have their GLC units cancelled under this redemption offer and receive a sum equal to the original purchase price of $1.00 per unit, less the total annual payouts received to-date.

It looks to be good news to GLC shareholders but then is this redemption going to affect other policyholders and shareholders? Will this result in a reduced bonuses in the future to come? Perhaps I should not speculate.

Great Eastern Announces One-time Redemption Offer to GreatLink Choice Policyholders [via]

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