Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughts for 2009

Year 2009 is over very soon in less than an hour before we usher in the year 2010. Having spent some quality time taking stock on the goals set for in the beginning of year 2009, it looks like many goals remain unmet.

An analysis on the unmet goals seem to indicate dependencies among them -- an unmet goal can result in another goal not met.

With 2010 drawing near, it's time to list out new resolutions. I guess the basic rule in doing anything is to do whatever you think is not against your conscience.

Places I visited in Thailand from 25 - 31 Dec 2009

Decided to jot down my Thailand (25 to 31 Dec) itinerary so I will never forget it again. All in all, the experience was fantastic with the far beyond my expectations of Thais' warm and friendliness towards tourists. This is the first time I ever had the chance to interact with the local strangers that much.

THUMBS UP!

My memory dump

25 Dec 2009
  • Check in to Somerset Lake Point service residence.
  • Dinner at Took Lae Dee.
  • Sukhumvit night market.
26 Dec 2009
  • Standing Buddha at Wat Indrawiharn.
  • Lucky Buddha (reached there but did not manage to visit it because of an on-going ceremony). There is no Lucky Buddha in Bangkok.
  • Erawan Lapidary (a scam but we were not conned and so please do not visit it).
  • Chin Jewelry Co. Ltd.
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market.
27 Dec 2009
  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
  • Maeklong Railway Market.
  • Fuji Restaurant at Siam Center.
28 Dec 2009
  • Sunflower fields at Lopburi.
  • Pa Sak Jolasid Dam at Lopburi.
  • Phra Prang Sam Yot at Lopburi.
  • Fifth Avenue for dinner at Mah Boon Krong (MBK) Center.
  • Mah Boon Krong (MBK) Center.
29 Dec 2009
  • Wat Pho.
  • Grand Palace.
  • Vimanmek Mansion.
  • Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.
  • Arts of the Kingdom Exhibition.
  • Chao Phraya River Cruise.
30 Dec 2009
  • Massage at Somerset Lake Point.
  • Brunch at Crepes & Co.
  • Platinum Fashion Mall.
  • Dinner at Je Ngor's Seafood.
  • Tesco Lotus for durians.
31 Dec 2009
  • Lunch at Suvarnabhumi airport (from 3 different restaurants).

Trip to Lopburi was planned at the very last minute but was made possible with the assistance of two very helpful service staff from Somerset Lake Point whom both deserved a commendation letter from us. I shall not indicate their name here.

Tempted to subscribe mobile broadband?

Can I live life without Internet access? My answer would be a YES or NO. My answer is YES if I do not wish to stay abreast to what's happening around the world. My answer is NO especially when the new semester is coming soon and I need Internet access to ballot for modules.

Having moved to a new residential location, I am yet to get myself a Internet broadband plan. The only reason why I am online and hooked onto the Internet typing this blog entry is because of a USB dongle from a friend. One obvious advantage of mobile broandband service is of course mobile - one can hook onto the Internet anywhere.

Trying my best to resist temptations to subscribe mobile broadband. NO NO NO!

Back from Bangkok

I am finally back from my Bangkok trip but I am beginning to miss the place. I shall talk more on my trip when I have the time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Track Santa now

Santa's journey has begun! Follow along at http://www.noradsanta.org or http://m.noradsanta.org on your mobile phone.

For Santa most recent location, track him on video at http://www.noradsanta.org/en/video.html now!

View SkyDrive files in Windows Explorer using SkyDrive Explorer

If you are interested to view files on SkyDrive in Windows Explorer, it is now possible.

SkyDrive Explorer Mounts Your SkyDrive in Windows Explorer [via]

Google - The meaning of open

Last week, Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Google, Product Management, sent our an email to his employees on the meaning of 'open' as it relates to the Internet, Google, and our users.

Google is withholding its "Do not be evil" motto.

The meaning of open [via]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bangkok red shirts to stage rally on 27 & 28 Dec

Bangkok red shirts are set to stage rally on 27 and 28 Dec at Sanam Luang. Looks like I am forced to change my planned itinerary and adapt to it.

Christmas and New Year Period - Foreign Market Schedule

Please kindly take note of the following Foreign Markets holidays schedule during the Christmas and New Year period:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

祝大家冬至快!

Pleased with my exam results

I am quite pleased with my exam results for the semester that has just passed. Guess my strategy of not "scaring" myself in doing past years' exam papers still works since Poly days.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Long day tomorrow

Tomorrow is going to be a long day for me. I have to reach Changi Airbase by 6.15am. YAWN!!!

Three Reasons To Sell A Share

This week, The Motley Fool shares three reasons in selling a share via podcast. If you are interested, listen to the below mp3 audio.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Principles of Accounts - Which is right?

Secondary school's Principles of Accounts textbook uses Creditors (XXX) instead of Accounts Payable, and Debtors (YYY) instead of Accounts Receivable in their balance sheets. So which is right?

I am 100 per cent sure A/P and A/R are correct since they are used in real corporate financial statements. However, creditors and debtors are not wrong too since they are used in GCE 'O' Levels textbook and guidebooks.

Puzzling.

我是世界最傻

新加坡人口400万,亚洲人口4亿,全世界人口6亿。

但是,我一人可能就很有可能是世界最傻的了。我真是个不折不扣的大木头。真是受不了自己。

Unit trust fees slashed to 1%

A PRICE war seems to have broken out in the unit trust industry in Singapore, with at least three fund distributors now slashing their sales charges to just 1 per cent.

Unit trust fees slashed [via]

Chinese banks hide 'pool of credit risk': Fitch

Chinese banks hide 'pool of credit risk': Fitch
Business Times
19 Dec 2009

Chinese banks are creating a 'growing pool of hidden credit risk' through financial moves that shift loans off balance sheets to comply with government capital requirements, Fitch Ratings warned yesterday.

The ratings agency said in a report that the practice could lead to conditions similar to those which triggered the US sub-prime crisis, in which banks suffered huge losses on mortgage-backed securities when housing prices fell.

Fitch said banks were selling loans to financial institutions or repackaging them into wealth-management products in largely unreported transactions.

'These transactions, which free up space to extend new loans and lessen the pressure on capital and liquidity, can lead to a noticeable reduction in a bank's outstanding loans,' analysts Charlene Chu and Wen Chunling said.

'Fitch suspects this activity was one factor behind the marked slowdown in aggregate loan growth figures in the second half of 2009, which may not have moderated as much as official figures suggest.'

Chinese banks issued a massive 7.4 trillion yuan (S$1.52 trillion) in new loans in the first half of the year - including a monthly record 1.89 trillion yuan in March.

The spurt came as banks heeded official calls to pump money into the world's third-largest economy to ward off a slowdown in growth.

But the pace slowed in the second half after regulators told banks to curb lending and step up risk management amid bad-loan concerns and suspicions that stimulus funds were funnelled into stocks and property, sending prices soaring.

New loans totalled 294.8 billion yuan in November, up from 253 billion yuan in October, which was the lowest level of the year. Fitch said it expected loan growth in China to be 'less brisk' in 2010, with new loans growing by 20 per cent year-on-year to eight trillion yuan. -- AFP

Rise and Fall in Dubai

If you are interested to read how inflationary property market can lead to a fall in an economy, read the article below. If you are interested to understand the importance of supply matching real demand, read the article below.

Rise and Fall in Dubai: An Austrian Perspective [via]

Warren Buffett remark on Gold

“Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or some place. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

Interesting :)

Are banks getting even bigger?

If we have learned anything over the last couple of years, it is that banks that are too big to fail pose too much of a risk to the economy. Any serious effort to reform the financial system must ensure that no such banks exist.

Even Bigger Than Too Big to Fail [via]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New rules on telco contract duration to benefit consumers

Come March 2010, telcos in Singapore will not be allowed to lock-in consumers for more than 24 months. Also from next March, consumers who sign on a contract longer than three months and who terminate their contract before the end of their contract period will no longer have to pay a fixed early termination charge. Instead, they will see these charges decrease over time on a month-by-month basis as they serve out their contract.

These are new guidelines set out by IDA Singapore.

Consumers to Benefit from New Guidelines on Telecommunication Services [via]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Accounting of Love

ACCOUNTING OF LOVE

I will CREDIT you my love,
If you will DEBIT me your love.
I'll record our romance in a JOURNAL,
And POST it to the LEDGER of my heart.

I'll keep an ACCOUNT of our love,
Based on DOUBLE-ENTRY.
This way you'll know the BALANCE c/d,
And the AMOUNT of love I have for you.

Our courtship,
Is carried out on WORKSHEET.
ADJUSTING ENTRIES are necessary,
To make our love steady.

TRIAL BALANCE shows,
We are meant for each other,
Because the TOTAL of our love,
Is one and the same.

CLOSING ENTRIES are made,
When down the aisle we take.
PROFIT & LOSS statement,
Tells what has happened.

Let's see our BALANCE SHEET,
What are our ASSETS & LIABILITIES?
Oh, my goodness!
It shows a dozen kids!

Stocks mostly gain

At this point in time, all stocks in my portfolio are now above waters except one - Singapore Exchange. The stocks in positive territory are ST Engineering (non employee shares) (18.22%), Koh Brothers (5%), SMRT (6.86%), Mapletree Logistics (13.06%), Parkway Holdings (32.71%), and EPure International (10.32%).

Got a special gift from Experts-Exchange :)

I just collected a gift, all the way from the United States, from Experts-Exchange. Thanks for the early Christmas surprise :)




Sunday, December 13, 2009

A guide to privacy on Facebook


A guide to privacy on Facebook [via]

Weekly Address: Learning from History to Reform Wall Street

The President explains that while he continues to focus on jobs, it is also profoundly important to address the problems that created this economic mess in the first place. He commends the House of Representatives for passing reforms to our financial system, including a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and blasts Republican Leaders and financial industry lobbyists for their joint "pep rally" to defeat it. Obama voiced his displeasure in seeing big banks not learning from past mistakes and repeat giving massive bonuses to senior executives.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Facebook accounts hacked

I was stupefied to read Facebook users actually witnessed their accounts hacked right in front of their eyes. The hacker impersonated to be the actual user to ask for cash. Cyber crimes leveraging on social engineering weaknesses are the trickiest in my opinion.

Facebook accounts hacked [via]

Google launches its own Dictionary service

Google has launched its very own dictionary service. It really looks like Google wants to dominate the universe.

Offline Gmail graduates from Labs

Google has announced that "Offline Gmail", an experimental feature that lets users access their web-based Gmail accounts while not connected to the internet, has finally graduated from being a Google Labs project and is being rolled out to all users.

This is not unexpected after Google announced they will not be upgrading their Google Gears and will move to HTML 5.0 instead to solve their offline mobile woes.

Offline Gmail graduates from Labs [via]

Google Quick Scroll is a browser extension that helps you find what you are searching for faster.

Google Quick Scroll is a browser extension that helps you find what you are searching for faster.

After you click on a Google search result, Quick Scroll may appear on the bottom-right corner of the page, showing one or more bits of text from the page that are relevant to your query. Clicking on the text will take you to that part of the page.

Quick Scroll tries to stay out of your way, and appears only when it is likely to be useful.

NOTE: Quick Scroll works only on Google Chrome 4 BETA browser.

Warren Buffett Investment Advice

"It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price."

One–Year Extension of 4% Floor Rate for all SMA and RA Monies to end of 2010

The Singapore government has announced a one–year extension of 4% floor rate on all Special and Medisave Accounts (SMA) monies and Retirement Account (RA) monies for another year until 31 December 2010.

One–Year Extension of 4% Floor Rate for all SMA and RA Monies to end of 2010
http://mycpf.cpf.gov.sg/CPF/News/News-Release/N_09Dec2009.htm

Minister Mentor Lee paid millions for not doing the work

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew is paid millions but all for not doing the work. He is an exception and is merely just doing the forecasting work.

"We also have a rule, I'm the exception to the rule, I'm 86.

But I'm not doing the work; I'm just forecasting... The work is being done by younger people in their late 40s and 50s. So there's an energy and a drive, and an understanding of the contemporary world. And they are also linked up with the younger generation of voters"


MM Lee says having younger politicians create better results for S'pore [via]

Friday, December 04, 2009

The "mrbrown and the flood" column that was removed from insing

Warning: Contains satire and jokes but definitely creative!

What happened to my "mrbrown and the flood" column [via]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Gmail Labs finally allows setting default text style

Ever since Gmail was launched more than half a decade ago, Gmail Labs finally released capability in setting default text style when composing an email. This new feature can be enabled from the Labs tab, then go to General Settings and set your preferences just once.

This new feature looks almost perfect if not for Gmail Labs forgetting to set text style for signature to be the same as the 'Default Text Style'.

New in Labs: Default text styling [via]

How HTML5 Will Change the Way You Use the Web

Revolutionary.

How HTML5 Will Change the Way You Use the Web [via]

Google Street View launched in Singapore

Google Street View has arrived in Singapore - making it the first in Southeast Asia to have a virtual street guide based on photographs.

The photo above shows a car by Google travelling around on the streets of Singapore, taking snapshots of the little island.

Google Street View launched in Singapore [via]

Microsoft denies 'Black Screen of Death' is linked to November's security update

Microsoft states that neither its recent November's updates nor the Malicious Software Removal Tool are responsible for the recent reports of the "Black Screen of Death" (KSOD). They insisted the problem is likely due to a malware.

Reports of Issues with November Security Updates [via]

Dubai financial debacle will make Thaksin more desperate

Dubai financial debacle will make Thaksin more desperate
The Nation
Published on December 1, 2009


MUCH has been said about the Dubai debt moratorium, whose ripple effect on other economies and financial institutions has yet to be determined. Thailand might have to bear some negative effects, as the country imports crude oil from Dubai. For goods and services, transactions will have to be adjusted to cope with the latest development.

But a well-known, notorious Thai citizen stands to be affected immensely, either through investment or personal predicament. Thaksin Shinawatra, according to news reports, has left Dubai for a trip to an unnamed European country. His purpose was also not disclosed.

The trouble in Dubai also means a lot of trouble for Thaksin, whose name and passport have been changed - from Thai to a strange-sounding name in his newly acquired Nicaraguan passport. For some years now, the fugitive has used Dubai as his base for investment and political campaigns to destabilise the Abhisit government, with marginal success.

Nobody knows, except for Thaksin, how much he has invested in real estate projects, financial and debt instruments. This is because he is unlikely to admit anything that will cast him in a bad light. But the amount will not be small, judging from the patronage the ruler of Dubai has provided for his refuge.

Going on his ego and eagerness to please the Dubai investment community and make his presence felt as a billionaire, his investments must be sizeable, if not all of what he holds as assets. It could be billions of baht, if not far more, due to his faith in the city state and its future - which resembled gold in the desert, in the eyes of investors.

His abrupt departure to Europe could mean that he must draw on financial resources, if not deposits, in countries that still serve as tax havens. His suddenly depleted resources make him look like an eagle with clipped wings, and one with less room to manoeuvre.

The reason for him calling off a planned rally in Bangkok last weekend must have been partly influenced by Dubai's problems, which could imperil his stay in the city state. If he continues to incite trouble by the red shirts, the Dubai authorities could be pressed by the Thai government to deal with the fugitive.

If Thaksin is forced to leave Dubai, it means that he cannot stay on to look after his investments and other assets, especially if those assets face the risk of being wiped out by the default of Dubai World. That means Thaksin's world will shrink again, especially with the warning from neighbouring Abu Dhabi that he cannot use the UAE capital as his base as he has done with Dubai.

With fewer resources at his disposal, Thaksin will feel more desperate, and that means his assets of Bt76 billion frozen by the Thai government becomes more valuable. It represents a larger stake than ever before.

That's why he will have to redouble his effort to reclaim that amount at whatever cost, including through political trouble by instigating the red shirts and other allies to force out the Abhisit government.

There have been disheartening rumours around town that he has offered up to half of the frozen assets to whoever is able to help him win the court case and reclaim the amount. Such rumours cannot be taken lightly judging by the huge greed of the people who are in a position to share the fortune with him.

That means we can expect more trouble, with revived street rallies this month. His desperate battle to get back the vast fortune from the state will embolden him to do whatever is necessary.

What Thaksin wants now is total freedom from all criminal prosecution, and amnesty from the jail term, so that he can travel to all countries as before. In terms of politics, he can let his cronies take control of the government via the election process. He will use big money and other tricks.

If the above transpires as Thaksin wants it to, it means more trouble ahead and an unpredictable conclusion. It will not be pleasant for us to witness. If street battles erupt, it depends on how the authorities decide to restore peace. This is an unsavoury prospect. Prime Minister Abhisit cannot foresee what will happen, but he must work to the best of his ability to manage the situation for the good of the country.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

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