Monday, December 29, 2008


I've just discussed about the recession with a friend of mine, a photographer. He was afraid that being a premier photographer, his business opportunity would be hit and people would choose stock photo. I told him, in my opinion, the contrary would happen. When an organization has money (cash) to spend, they may in fact choose to buy from internet stock photo. The reason being the wide range of choice so they can splurge on getting a lot of photo. A discerning organization in tough time like now in fact should spend on a good photographer in order to make sure they really get what they want with a specific payment. Furthermore, I believe you can say... wait for 30 days before making payment. I don't think stock photo from internet allow you to do that right? So, it may just be likely that premier photographers are getting more work.

Besides that, with the market going down, advertisement business should be becoming more relevant since people are fighting for whatever purchasing power left from the market. In addition, the price gap between professional and amateur price may just be narrower and increase the value of paying for premium photographers!

Condemning one side

The Arab world and others start condemning Israel for their attack to Palestina killing nearly 300 by now. The reaction is indeed swift and in no time spreading worldwide. But wait, where is the condemnation against Hamas's rocket attack to Israel? I know it kills only one but the world need to learn to be fair. For the world to avoid more terrorism or aggression, the condemnation for any kind of attack must be swift regardless of how many death. And it must be coming from any side of the story. None of such aggression should be tolerated.

Only then, the world would know peace. I am still waiting for such equal treatment of state to happen. I hope I will be able to see it in my generation.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

An eye for an eye

Israel is pounding on Hamas-ruled Gaza for the second day hoping that their attack will stop the rocket attacks from Hamas. I wonder who has the confidence that their attack will help to stop the attack. Practicing an eye for an eye principle is rather primitive at this kind of age. I would say that Israeli may do better by thinking about how to cut off rocket supply to Gaza and helps the current president of palestina in improving the Palestinian's welfare. Haven't they understood the term hungy people are angry people? The world has so many hungry people, including those in Somalia and we know what happen to Somalia... lawless and full of pirates... Why? They need food and come on.. if one ransom can let them feed the entire village for 100 years (heard they are paid in average US$15 M per tanker), which rational people won't do the hijacking? After all, if they don't hijack, they still die of hunger. The entire world need to learn to share if we really want to eradicate terrorists and crimes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What now?

It's quite scary to read the news nowadays since there will be a list of things people shouldn't eat due to melamine contamination. It used to be just milk but today Yahoo! News reported contamination on eggs as well! Perhaps the most direct step that people generally would take is to avoid China product. It won't be very easy. First of all, outsourcing and cheap labour and manufacturing cost has shifter HUGE number of product manufacturing to China. Second of all, what scares me even more is that melamine is NOT a common chemical tested in food safety surveillance. If China's farmers and egg producer can find way to add melamine into the milk and egg, what kind of assurance will there be to say that US product or Indonesia product or any other country products have NO melamine? After all, melamine IS NOT something that is tested for in food safety check. Hey, we can force the food safety surveillance to check every single chemicals anyway. Our food won't arrive on the table in a century since there is infinite amount of chemicals to test for! Since it's uncommon to test for the chemical, there is no way to say that US product is totally free from it. In fact, every government should actually really test their own products to check for such contamination.
The other possible worse thing that can happen is if undesirable and dangerous chemicals are to be found in clothes. It's getting more difficult to find clothes without writing "MADE IN CHINA" nowadays. You may think I am farfetched, but hey, melamine in egg is extremely remote few months ago.
Be careful of what you eat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What not to say in your convocation speech

Today the university I studied did something unique, the valedictorian giving the speech does not seem to be a winner of any good medal although the literal meaning of valedictorian is a student with the best grade. Rather strange. Yet it's good because it shows that appreciation should also be given to the general student.
One thing that really strike me rather odds from that student's speech is that the basically ridicule the university life unwillingly (perhaps). He was basically very honest in his speech. He talked about tough 4 years of bachelor life, talking as if all present are singaporean. Talking about students staying in the university hostel and only going back home on weekends while at tims not going home for weeks to study for exams or such, talking about students who stay at home who end up spending much of the time in study room trying to study very hard for a tough university life. Basically, he portrays that students in the university (NTU by the way) who have no life because of the need to study very very very hard. Although he is true (well, basically if you want a great grade, unless you are genius, you'll be studying like mad in NTU), I don't think such is an ideal valedictorian speech. It's kind of shameful to tell such a terrible university life to the foreign dignitaries or lecturers in the hall. Hahaha... I think he needs to tone down or reword his story a bit. :-)
Anyway now I know what not to say if I were ever chosen to do so. :-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Misleading news

Just read a news from Indonesia's ANTARA website reporting that Japanese government is giving 1 mil of bird flu vaccine to ASEAN. The news made me realize how important it is for a journalist to be schooled into what he/she is reporting or at least make effort to search further information. News are read by multitude of people, and when a news is wrongly reported without other newspaper to verify, you'll get quite a number of potential wrongdoings caused by the news.
The news mentions that the bird flu vaccine increases Tamiflu (antiviral commonly used to cure bird flu in human although not necessarily effective) stock twice the previous level. This is a mistaken identitiy. Tamiflu is NOT a vaccine more like a flu medication. Furthermore Tamiflu is for human while no bird flu vaccine for human is even created yet!
It's either the vaccine or the Tamiflu which is mentioned wrongly.
Indonesia's biopharma should be able to produce bird flu vaccine for birds although I am not sure whether they have done it or not.
One thing for sure, the reporter of the news may want to wiki or google Tamiflu before he reports the news

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Money, woman, and the boys

Singapore is famous for its kiasuism and kiasiism. Basically it translates literally to "afraid to lose" and "afraid to die". Those two behaviour is good to spurn the sense of competitiveness. The drawback is that I think they are the causes of Singaporean men having quite a bad reputation on ladies. Not being prejudice, but that's what I hear, perhaps I have heard from the wrong end.
What I realize is that most ladies that complain mentioned the unwillingness of the guys to treat. Not that I treat often as well. I intend to analyze the perception a bit further.
If one guy was to go out with a lady and the guy has "afraid to lose" mentality, the guy may think twice. After all, if he really spends that extra money treating the lady, he may perceive that he'll part with all those expenditure while there is no certainty to gain the lady's heart. Hence, he'll definitely think twice before treating the lady. Furthermore, it's perceived to be difficult to earn your keep nowadays.
Another reason is perhaps the sense of adventurous among the people. After all, courting a girl requires some sense of adventurous. Part and puzzle of trying to win a girl's heart is to try out something new and go beyond the comfort zone. Without adequate willingness to be adventurous, no effort will be spent appropriately.

Strangely though, being competitive should have helped the guy if he see that a girl he likes is being chased by some other guys. Not sure why it doesn't help...

Business Travel

I like business travel for the sake of travelling and seeing other things, so more dynamics working life. However, I realize that business travel is normally tiring. The main reason is that when you travel, you don't have the time allocated to do other normal office work, while it "seems" that other people (your superior) and perhaps yourself, expect that work to continue even while you are travelling. So the tendency is for you to work at hotel even to late night, after you finish your work at the client side. All this additional working tires people eventually.
Furthermore, the travel time normally takes quite long as well, especially if you have a long flight.
It may be hard to find a boss that understands the toll of business travel and gives the worker a bit more break or compensation due to the travel. Unless perhaps the boss is also travelling like mad and is not that workaholic. Haha..
But well, the easiest is to strike balance and work smart. Easier said than done, isn't it?

Sungei Kadut

Heard so many good news about Sungei Kadut, so we went there thinking that perhaps we'd be able to get good deal for furniture, what the area is famous for. What we realize was that the stores there have branches in the city area as well. Basically, they carry the same items! Hence, not sure what actually make Sungei Kadut famous for. We actually realize that we found some items we like in the city branches, but the items were not available in the Sungei Kadut.
Basically the stores in Sungei Kadut is the HQ for most of the furniture chains. It's partly their warehouses as well. Hence, it could have more display sets, more rejected products, or something in that line. It'd be definitely cheaper if you are willing to settle for those things. But if you don't, don't go there. Useless.

Condo priced HDB?

Recently the Government of Singapore built quite a number of condo like HDB. Basically HDB is the apartment for average public in Singapore. Condominium is a private apartment with guard, swimming pool, gym, and bla bla.. so basically it's more expensive. However, the government now has started building HDB that is styled like condo minus the extra items... so basically HDB with more expensive content and better layout. The average price for HDB, 3 bedroom is around S$300k. The condo style HDB is priced at S$700k!
The amazing part is that, normally HDB is only allowed to be purchased by Singaporean with household income <>
The S$8k a month actually excludes the 20% CPF contribution. Hence it's actually S$6.4k real income a month. Subtracting S$2.5k from S$6.4k, the household has S$3.9k to spend including savings... Not so wise a choice for the buyer I frankly say. Considering that on average a couple will spend on average S$1.2k a month, I am not so sure that that couple with a long 30 year loan can live a decent life when they grow old. In addition, some household tend to buy a car which can amount to around S$800 more expense a month. Not much money left for savings, services bill, etc. huh?
But one thing for sure, the government takes away a small slice of private condo pie from the private.
I'd strongly advise friends to refrain from buying such a pricey apartment. Not worth a living style.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Public servant

I heard a very truthful comments from my friend about public servant in Singapore. She said the public servant has forgotten that they are serving people not people serving them.

Well, if we are to examine the phrase "public servant", it's quite clear that the person is in the position to serve the public. However, often, nearly all the time that I face a public servant in a public office, it's I who is supposed to bow to them and follow their half-hearted explanation. Especially in Singapore, we'd often be asked to attend a preset meeting by the government office on working hour! and you are of course allowed to change them, but for another working hour at an appointed day! Outrageous. Not that I don't appreciate that the public servant is also a normal employee. It's just that any appointment should be agreed by both parties, not being dictated by one party feeling themselves as the King!

Well, that's what you'd most likely find in Singapore.

Monday, May 26, 2008

SMRT and its 'additional' train in the peak hour

Hurray!! The newspaper exclaimed when the SMRT, train operator in Singapore announced additional trains for service at peak hours in the evening.

On the other hand, I (as one of the throngs trying to get train space), frowned and asked myself where the additional train is. The fact is that taking daily train to work at 6.50 AM and back at 6.05 PM, I don't feel any reduction on the crowd or even tiny additional space.

In fact this afternoon I experienced once again the poor logistical problem or woe that passengers of SMRT train experiences. The train from Changi Airport to Tanah Merah station (2 stations a way) is at 10 minutes period!! The moment the train come, every single soul in expo seems to board the train and of course automatically the train became packed the moment it left Expo station (between Changi Airport and Tanah Merah). Now, that's an extremely smart business decision huh? The train is calculated to arrive when the train is guaranteed full (Smart SMRT analyst, whoever that is). The fact is that the frequency has increased from 8 to 10 mins, in my experience. Now, the moment the train reach Tanah Merah, every single souls seem to migrate from that train to the train heading to Boon Lay. Hence, another packed train. Now I know where the additional train is taken from. I think it may actually be the train that normally serve Changi Airport - Tanah Merah route. Gee... how smart is SMRT.

And o yeah, despite the addition of train, I don't feel that I actually have higher chance to getting more space in the train. Gee......

Not that I have much choice since we only have one train operators serving that line. Taking bus is going to take forever to reach home and taking taxi is extremely expensive (~S$ 40+++). I guess the economist will say that's my price of convenience. Not that I have enough fund to pay for taxi trip everyday!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

HSBC and language use

HSBC or The Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation is a global bank. Hence, I again do not expect the bank to have any blunder in English.

Was trying to register for Internet Banking and sadly after typing a username containing all alphabets, I was prompted that the "username can only contain alpha numeric characters (i.e. A-Z, a-z, 0-9)". The key word there is "can". Hence I thought, hey my username containing merele alphabets should fit into the category. However, apparently who ever program the login page means that I MUST have ALL those variations (some capital letters, some small letter, some number). So, I can only create a username having some capital letter, some small letter, and some number. Such misconception that the warning sentence can provide the customer is very sad for a global brand like HSBC.

Perhaps the bank is really living to what the say "... local bank". Maybe HSBC of Singapore is using a twisted form of English.

Or I guess language spell check and grammar check for software are very much lacking nowadays.

I wonder what the point of cutting cost (by outsourcing to countries with cheaper labour) is the brand image is degraded by multiple small mistakes as simple as spelling error.

I don't think any company should dare to say its a global (or famous or premium) brand unless it's willing to spend money to be correct in the smallest detail.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Plastic bag degraded in three months!

Wow, read this

A 16-year old teen may have solved environmental big problem.

A mixture of Sphingomonas and Pseudomonas is all it takes to reduce plastic bag made of PE in few months. The more amazing thing is that this teen's study is new! I wonder why noone has ever tried things as simple as what he has done....

Turmeric chicken soup

I'll teach you how to cook a simple but yet nice and healthy soup.

Boil chicken together with a good dash of turmeric and 2-3 pieces of peeled onion. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar to taste. Make sure it's sufficiently salty okay? Make sure it's yellow in colour as well. Increase the turmeric bit by bit while tasting it, making sure that it's not too much (too much = bitter).

MRSA and antibiotics

MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a super strain of bacteria, a mutated form of Staphylococcus aureus. Physicians and scientists (and the pharmaceutical company partly I think) hate MRSA very much because it can resist many antibiotics and hence its infection is very hard to treat. Originally, MRSA was feared by hospital goers simply because MRSA tends to lurk in the hospital. Well, in hospital, patients are generally with low immune response so it's easier for the bacteria to survive. After all, if you have such a powerful weaponry in your gene, the weaponry makes it difficult for the bacteria to survive on people with normal immune response. You see, it's a give and take situation.
However, lately a new strain of MRSA emerges with better ability to infect the healthy. Hence, more danger for us.

One important thing that lay person needs to understand is that MRSA or other super bug emerges mainly due to abuse, misuse, and overuse of antibiotics. We simply have select for super strain due to our stupidity.
What I find more puzzling is the fact that some people are touting a new compound or are searching new compound (read: antibiotics) to fight MRSA as if MRSA will never develop resistance to the compound. What kind of naivity is that? MRSA itself develops after being selected by antibiotics for so long there will be a compound which it can't develop resistance for? Even after MRSA collect so many types of antibiotics from A to Z??
What the....

Andersen's Ice Cream

Thought of sending the following comment for Andersen's Ice Cream but amazingly, the webiste has broken links all over, even for the Contact Us page!! So, I post the comment here.

Hi, I was at IMM, Singapore and happen to eat at a stall near Andersen's stall. Hence, I had a chance to watch the advertisement put up on the big LCD screen above Andersen's stall.A few comments that I would really like to share:1. Andersen's touted the brand as a premium ice cream, but the ads is poorly done and does not seem to befit the premium image.2. Please get someone to do a spell check before an advertisement is published. It's "irresistible", not "irresitable". It's "concoction", not "concotion". Such error further degrades the image of Andersen's.3. I humbly think that your Big LCD screen is a waste of time. How many peope will actually have time to understand what the advertisement is about? The advertisement is far too long as well. Someone walking past the store won't even have chance to see more than 5 seconds of the advertisement.
Sadly to say, this website does not seem to be updated as well :-)
You may want to really pay someone to put a better image or marketing to your business.
I commend your "home-packs" packaging though. It looks nice :-)


Strange that how many people try to call their product premium but are not willing to spend extra money to get advertisement done to support the image.

BMW is one of the global brand that strongly bear the premium image.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Handphone replacement

I have N6120 Classic. It is less than 3.5 months old and already giving me a problem. At times after a period of being idle, the screen will turn blank and any key pressing will just lit the back light without giving much response. To get it back to normal, I have to take out and then put the battery back.

What really surprises me is the unwillingness of Nokia Care Centre to actually replace the handphone. I have given them chance to repair the phone once last week and it returned back to me, saying repaired, on Friday. This morning, Sunday, the same error happened again. The lady in Nokia Care Centre I went this morning merely said I should give them chance to repair the handphone and she promised to get her engineer to repair it this time round. Last repair was by a technician. Wow, that statement really implies that Nokia's technician is not properly train. I wonder what has happened to all other handphone repaired by the technician!!

I wonder whether Nokia management ever considered the transport cost, time cost, and grief cost of customers who have to return repeatedly for same kind of problem, yet no replacement can be done. Amazing... really...

And the lady emphasized further that to even a replacement takes a month to come. Wow, what a poor supply chain they have, I thought. How could obtaining a piece of N6120 Classic takes 1 month. Is my handphone so unique such that they have to reconfigure the entire manufacturing chain for my handphone? Not that it's only for mine.

I am really under the opinion that Nokia is under a big and heavy lullaby thinking that being big will just spare them for all the worst that can come. After all, their market share is so big and the tendency for such a company to really go lax on customer satisfaction is not unthinkable at all. I am really disappointed by Nokia. I am having far better service from Siemens' customer service, despite it being outsourced some years back. Too bad Siemens' mobile phone is not particularly of the proper standard.

Unless Nokia is doing something about its customer service and quality control, I feel that the downfall is coming soon. After all, Nokia 5300 is already having so many complaints due to error. It's not difficult to imagine that in not so distant future, some of its model will really go bust and its poor customer service will just accentuate the dissatisfaction further. I wonder what will they do to repair such situation by then.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Singtel and loan phone!

Bah, just given my Nokia phone to Singtel for repair, after a mere 3 months use. Asked for a replacement phone and was given N8210! What an outrageous handphone replacement.

Furthermore, despite being a company that deals with communication and in a sense information, the company seems to disregard information security altogether. I found tonnes of other people's contact in the loan phone! I realized that the numbers could have simply be there from the previous person having the loan phone. But still, Singtel as an established and respected company should have simply and easily press several key to delete all the contacts from the phone before passing it to another person.

What a nightmare if the loan phone was at a bad guy's hand.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Easy tuna spaghetti

Just cooked tuna spaghetti ala myself. Nice one :)

1 can of tuna chunks in water/ or tuna flakes; dry the water
few leaves of lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 pieces of garlic
1/4 pieces of onion
3 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
dash of pepper

Heat the oil.
Put in garlic and onion, stir till the smell is nice
Put in the tuna, cook for a while
Put in the tomatoes and lettuce
Stir till all are cooked nicely
Put in evaporated milk to your taste
Drizzle salt, pepper, sugar


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Escapes of Selamat Kestari

The JI detainee is reported to have run away by making a reason to go to toilet. Well, if the toilet is in MRT, that's kind of understandable. But then again, even MRT's toilet is covered up like isolation cell. The fact is that the toilet he went to is in Detention Centre! It's strange, really. Even while doing our exams in university in Singapore, going to toilet involves having an invigilator following you up to the toilet door and peeking back and forth inside the toilet to ensure that we are not doing anything strange. I wonder what's the reason that detainee like a the terrorist is not given the same 'nice' and 'careful' treatment. Maybe to them, terrorist can't run away from Singapore and students are hence, softly, perceived as more dangerous than terrorist? What a strange happening....

Or perhaps has the country grown so safe that the guards in the Detention Centre's gate are not trained to recognize those people inside the Detention Centre? After all, a Detention Centre should be gated and surveillance should be around (I think normal Detention Centre should at least have these things). For a LIMP man to manage to run away without officers checking why he took ages in toilet and not detecting his leaving the Detention Centre is rather appalling to reasonable man.

The fact that the high ups told the public not to consider the reasons for his escape is even stranger. I thought such a happening warrants a complete investigation to ensure at least risk assessment is performed on the Centre. Funny.


The Netherlands is a good place for museum. I visited Rijkmuseum and Van Gogh in Amsterdam on Saturday. Well, both are nice. Sadly though the Rijkmuseum is largely under renovation when I went in so I didn't manage to see much. There is one or two Van Gogh's, 1 Monet, and 1 Rembrandt. That's it. The museum's brochure is rather misleading because the entire section with > 5 paintings where one of it is those painting are actually listed with the famous painter name! I was expecting to see the entire section lined up with Rembrandt, or Van Gogh, or Monet's paintings only to end up with 1. What a disappointment. Well, on average, the paintings in the museum are quite complete in depicting the painting style from 1600-1800s. The details of the drawing by Rembrandt and his peers never stop to amaze me. They managed to draw up even the intricate laces that people of that era wore!

The Rijkmuseum was rather quiet when I visited. It was 9.15 AM anyway while it opened at 9.00 AM. Hehehe.. The museum really depicts the proud of Netherlands' golden age aka the colonization era. There is this huge painting by Rembrandt, "The Night Watch" which took him 1 year to finish. Extreme details and what a hand! No more words, just visit there and you'll know what I mean ;-)

I must warn you though if you want to visit Van Gogh's museum. You better get there at the time the door opened! I was there from 10.30 AM and the place is rather packed. Despite holding 200 paintings of Van Gogh and his letters and drawings, there were at least 3-5 people seeing each painting! My gosh... it's really too much touristy for my liking. The collection shows the ingeniousity of Van Gogh though. The progression and his experimental work is visible through his bright strokes, experiments with pointillism, sharp drawings, and colour improvisation. Perhaps he might have died because of overworking himself. After all, he finished more than 1,800 works in 10 years. In average, around 1 drawings per 2.5 days! I find that his brother is extremely kind though because he supported him throughout the 10 years of painting effort while Van Gogh didn't seem to manage to sell a single piece of his drawings. Theo Van Gogh even died few months after Vincent killed himself. :-( They are buried side by side by the way.

A fabulous museum experience. :-)


Finally back on the warm side of the earth.

A bit of review from my stay in Holland:

1. 6 nights in Bilderberg Park Hotel Rotterdam, stayed in Single Room.
It was small. Very small actually. Super single bed with one 14" tv. Weird toilet where the direction of the hole is the opposite of the normal one. Below average breakfast that cost €21.50! The breakfast only serves scrambled egg, veal sausage, stir fry champignon, and bread and bread and bread. The best part of the breakfast is the fresh orange juice and bottled Knorr juice. That's it :)

2. 1 night in Renaissance Hotel, Amsterdam,a hotel managed by J.W. Marriott. Stayed a night in King size bed room.
There is a huge LCD tv in the room. I guess around 32". Not very sure. But the distance between the table and the bed is only enough for one person to walk through! The toilet is slightly better than the Bilderberg Park Hotel. Well, the hotel is about €40 more expensive than Bilderberg. Both Bilderberg and Renaissance is quite close to shopping area though. Renaissance Hotel is less than 10 minutes walk from Amsterdam Centraal, the train station. The breakfast is quite a disappointment as well.

3. 1 night NH Airport Hotel, Amsterdam Schiphol. Stayed in a double bed room.
This is the best hotel I've stayed in Holland! Well, only 8 nights though :P Anyway, I was placed in a women style room. The room is even slightly bigger than Renaissance Hotel! And in the internet, it's listed only as 3-star. Perhaps it's because of the 19" or 21" LCD tv. *shrug* The toilet is as good as Renaissance Hotel and yet smells fresher! There is a specially packed toiletries aimed for women traveller on the bed when I came in. Shower gel, Shampoo, moisturizer and few more items are in 2 sets. There are 2 more sets in the toilet! There are also Vogue, Elle, and Style magazine in the room! Wow, that makes it the best hotel I've stayed. The value is great. I spent "only" €73.50! Lots less than the other 2. The discouraging part is that the hotel is only near too airport. Hehehe... far away from shopping area. And o yeah, I can tell you for sure that the dinner is rather sucks. I ordered tomato soup and seafood parella (not sure if I spell it correctly). The tomato soup is superb but the rice is fishy!

Well, that concludes my bed time in Holland.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rotterdam - pt 1

First day in The Netherlands. It's very cold by my standard. I am wearing a sweater on top of my street clothes. On top of the sweater, I wear a coat. I still feel the cold! Luckily I have a scarf. However, the gloves lent by my friend is still to big and hence, my fingers are feeling the cold since I don't wear gloves. My ears are also feeling like the meats stored in freezer.

Today, I brave myself to walk a bit from the hotel I stayed in. I realize that stuffs here are extremely expensive. A chinese take away food, beef teriyaki with nasi (rice) cost 6.50 Euro! Admittedly, the ingredients are extra of those that will be provided in Singapore. I had a cheaper version of Chinese food by buying a miso chicken from Wok to Go. It costed my 4.50 Euro, that's more than 9 Singapore dollars! Luckily, the fried rice acccompanying the chicken is extremely better than the Singapore version.

I am not sure what's wrong with the typical SIngapore fried rice, that is the fried rice with frozen vegetables. The version of fried rice in Singapore tends to absorb oil and it exudes certain unappetizing smell. Luckily, the version from Rotterdam is not pathetic, in fact it's fluffy and taste good.

Anyway, those are the food I dare to buy since I am totally against buying KFC, McDonald, or Burger King in such situation. Hahaha...

And I am already sleepy at 6 PM Rotterdam time. :S It's 1 AM in Singapore anyway. I am not sure what to do hahaha...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Income in Singapore

Singapore newspaper likes to publish articles that talks about statistics released by government.

I myself am rather fed up with statistics reporting because I know personally how statistics can be easily "played" to produce figure to your liking.

Outliers for example is always easily cleaned out since they are said not to "represent" the populations. Simply said, the extremist are not to any statistician's liking. They don't care that the people called "outlier" may actually constitute the "hate group" which may bring down the statistics (e.g. people who proclaim that product A is sucks and may some times carry the truth) or the "love group" which may help to shore up the validity of the statistics (e.g. people who love the product so much that they spend bulk of their income to consume or promote it). There is of course chance for cleaning one side of the outlier to skew the result. Who will audit the result anyway?

Second of all, I realize what's always missing in the newspaper's statistics value is standard deviation or even the range. Saying that average is X makes no strong argument if the standard deviation is huge or constitute as big as the X. If average income is S$6,830 but the range of the sample is S$100 - S$100,000, do you really want to believe at the average value? Will average of S$6,830 when 70% of the population is at the range of S$100 - $ 6,000 destroy the trust of the statistics? Make your own judgement. That's simply why range or standard deviation is rarely stated. It simply reveals too much of the truth.

Thirdly, statistics value rarely tells you whether it's a normal distribution or a skewed distribution. After all, if the second point above happens, the statistics skew is actually skewing to the left. What does it tell you if the bulk population is actually far poorer than the average value?

Lastly, surveyors can always choose who they want to be in the statistics sample. Who will prevent them from choosing the high end income group for sampling? Will the reader know it? Nah, the surveyors and the statisticians are as safe as Singapore.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Economy is booming and yet

The government of Singapore keeps saying that economy is looking good, unemployment rate is going down, and people's income is rising.

If it is true that the economy is looking good, I wonder why I see more old people "selling tissues", why there are more buskers around "performing art" for money, and why more old people is going around collecting tins and cartons?

Even if there are many aids around, but if there are no workers in the ground to approach those in needs, the aids are going nowhere and the poors do not have their needs fulfiled.

Yesterday night when I was in the MRT, I saw an old lady carrying a really big plastic bag containing lots of tins. I overheard her conversation with another curious old soul. Apparently, that super big plastic bag of probable size of 80 cm x 40 cm x 100 cm is carrying less than 2 kg of empty tins. The price of 1 tin is a mere S$1.80!!!! Imagine, she might have go around several MRTs to collect that amount of tins (could be at least 80-100 tins) and it earns her less than S$3.60. The time she spent and the cost she need to take the MRT do not seem to enable her to feed herself.

Now, where's the aid where it's needed?

I so wish one day that I'd be able to come out with an employment scheme for the poor and old so that they can earn to feed themselves well. The employment should not need to provide me with any profit.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Studying or working overseas

If there is a chance, one should travel overseas to study overseas.

When one lives in a place for more than 15 years, one really needs overseas or out of town experience to widen the horizon. After all, living in the same place for 15 years will cause one to settle and find it hard to move to other places. Hence, disturbing that peacefulness will open one's eyes that there are many more things in the world than the town one lives in.

Only by living in overseas for sometime, one will understand the harshness of world. When one have to live and tend the house by oneself, when one have to learn how to cook to survive better, when one see that other places might not be the same as one thought, one will wake up to the reality that life is not so easy after all and there are much more than just the town one is born at.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Infrastructure and Indonesia

Suharto's time was marked by high economic growth and stable food price. Infrastructure construction was quite on fire as well. Hence, it's not a big wonder that the poor in Indonesia is relishing the "good old time". After all, at the "good old time", they have higher chance to buying rice with their little money.

Yet, not many people realize that Suharto's growth is not realistic. The infrastructure is built with such a low quality that the entire country is feeling the brunt of it now. What else can cause the many planes to fail and cause many deaths besides poor maintenance? What is the cause of poor maintenance? It could be the corruption that prevents the money from being used properly, it could be the mentality of the engineer who was pushed to cut cost, etc. All those reasons are only built over time! It all started in the time of Suharto. When more infrastructure, the growth will grind to halt or even going negative. Years are needed to change the mentality and fix the infrastructure. In fact, Suharto might have destroyed Indonesia's chance of growth.

Road works and river's pollution issues as well. China is having the same problem now although it seems that their infrastructure seems like in a better state than in Indonesia.

Pushing for growth without building proper infrastructure is suicidal. Long term thoughts are needed.

Celebrate life ala aunties

Dang, I keep wondering why I am quite a tense person while some aunties (read. Old ladies, 40s-50s) dare enough to bare their "cleavages", paint their fingers with multiple glittering nail paint, paint their hairs with multiple colours, use high boots, and revealing clothes.

Those ladies look too unique for me. I prefer to face the other way to prevent my eyes from staring with too much curiosity.

Ladies who rule the world (continued)

This morning I met another of the "lady who rule the world".

I was in the train reading newspaper while standing. The moment the guy sitting in front of me stand up to move to my right, the "lady who rule the world" who stood at my left walk to the seat left by that guy. In less than 2 second that the guy's buttock left the seat, the seat is occupied by the lady. After she sat, she looked at her surrounding with the kind of face that said "I win!!!". :-)

I wonder why all of those type of people are ladies. Maybe some coincidence.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flat price in Singapore

The government apartment price in Singapore is going haywire. A 5-room flat can easily fetch cash-over-valuation (COV) from 40k to 150k. It's crazy! The COV really inflates the amount of cash you need to fork out to get a place to stay. No wonder some people force themselves to get condominium. With condominium, despites 20-50% higher price, there is no COV. Hence, you only need 10% of the unit's valuation.

Well, the higher price of condominium means higher installment though. Pick and choose then.

Ladies who rule the world

Sometimes during my trip at the public place, I'd meet a special class of Singapore citizen. I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

When you are queuing for a bus in the interchange, you either wait nicely in the cordoned area or you wait outside the area. Normally, when you choose wait outside the area, you are expected to embark the bus after the people who are in the cordoned area finish embarking. It's a simple matter of courtesy. After all, we have chosen to wait outside the designated are for being lazy to enter into the maze (you should know what I mean if you have been to Singapore bus interchange). However, once in a while, you'd meed ladies (aunties actually) who queue outside the designated/ cordoned area and still cut the queue and embark at the midst of the more "rightful" people. While they are embarking, they tend to make a rather ugly face as if saying to the world that they have the right to do that for what-not reasons nobody but themselves know. Hence, I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

In another occasion, during a crowded MRT trip, you find some ladies who still insist on embarking the MRT/ train although the space could probably fill in only a 5 years ond kid. Yet, the ladies (aunties more likely but then again, which women bravely call themselves aunties) strongly push themselves in and after getting people into more squeezy moment, they simply utter a half hearted apology and start complaining about the MRT to other people they have just squeezed. Hence, I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

Maybe you know other cases? We should tell the story of this unique class of citizen. They colour the boring journey.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Google - made in singapore?

Yesterday, newspaper reports A*STAR (the research agency in Singapore) announcing a competition for a new search engine said to be more powerful than Google. Basically the agency is trying to get people produce a search engine that can search the content of audio and images. The prize of the competition is............. a measly US$100,000.00.

That's one of the funniest joke that I have ever read this month!

Come on, A*STAR, if one can come out with the search engine, why should they submit to the competition? Even Google would be willing to pay hundred of times perhaps larger than the reward prize. Not that Google is not trying. It was reported in the same article that researchers are not making much progress in that area and Google themselves is spending millions of dollars for R&D a year. Who is the one in A*STAR thinking that US$100,000.00 and a visit to its new facility can entice people to come out with the breakthrough? Strange people....

If I were the one with the technology (as if I can), I'd perhaps start my own search engine, beat Google to pulp and I am sure I'd earn billions in a short time. US$100,000 and get A*STAR to own the product after the competition? Dream on...........

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pumpkin Scissors

Hey, for those of you who is losing hope in the world, watch Pumpkin Scissors. :)

It's an amazing stories (sad, but funny yet a bloody one) on what will happen in the end of a war. It tells of a sotry about Alice L. Malvin, a young lady who never loses hope and always fight for the hope. She keeps fighting for the better future. It's heartening. It also teaches about a super soldier who has chosen to fight with the young lady, a fight to change the future. For it is said in the animation that you are able to choose who you want to be. What's you want to be is not determined by your past.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bus and MRT in Singapore

Morning and afternoon, the following buses are always as crowded as sardine (this list is just from my own very limited experience):

Besides that, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are ever sardine like every single morning (people going to work) and afternoon (people leaving for home).

I'd like to applaud SBS and SMRT for making the company such a profitable one.

Amazingly, all the complains that customers fielded to the two companies produce zero change. The MRT still arrives at 2 min and 4 min frequency instead of 3 min. Sometimes, it even reaches 6 min waiting time. It simply amazes me that they can't make it more frequent considering that MRT plies the fix amount of stop. Well, it HAS to stop at all stops. It has to close and open at the fix time. Yet, they can't make it more frequent. And o yeah, I am not sure that the MRT is actually designed to take THAT many people. I don't find the label on passenger limit anyway.

The SBS bus 179 and 199 have always been amazingly packed by students every morning and afternoon. Complaints over the last 8 years at least, have fallen on deaf ears. Bus 92 as well. Amazing things about bus 92 is that the buses often comes 2 at a time and yet it's freakingly full. After that, the waiting time is agonizing. Why can't they just increase the frequency of the bus?

Well, I guess the classic comment for the reason of not increasing bus frequency will always be "not enough vehicles" and "cost is high". Wow, I don't believe that they haven't save enough money by making passengers packed by sardine, and keeping cockroaches infested buses. Where does all the money go? Maybe the money goes into revamping the station to make space for rental shops where they can earn more money. Sadly, I am not sure that the venture is successful. If Dobby Exchange is to be an example, the foray is a losing money method.

Another thing, if you are the passenger of a bus, I urge you to take a look at the plate on top of the old bus ticketing machine, usually at the side panel behind the bus driver. Take note of the number of passengers limit. Now, when you are in a sardine packed bus, go count the number of passengers. You'll understand what I mean. Seems like bus companies are immune to law, at least in Singapore. Well, after all, passenger limit is not imposed, and cockroaches infested buses are okay.

GM crops

Some Genetically Modified (GM) crops apparently has shown up in the market shelves of many countries. Despite the many controversies of its use, for true reasons unknown to many, government approve the use of GM crops. Well, some governments do declare that GM crops have to be labeled as GM food when they reach the shelves. Yet, the full impact of GM crops to human body and environment are yet known.

First of all, GM crops introduced to plantation will interbreed with other wildtype version. Hence, after some time, plant researchers will definitely have their hard time in finding the real wildtype crops. Unwittingly, by allowing the GM crops, government has turned all variants of the particular approved crop to be GM. Why is it so? Because when the GM crop interbreed with other variant, it will definitely pass some of its gene to the descendants. Noone ever control what's being passed to the descendants. Hence, some time, ALL variants wil contain parts of the GM and hence, in a few years time, ALL of the crops' variants should actually be labelled GM, shouldn't they?

Secondly, noone should at this point claim they understand the function entire genome of the GM crops and I honestly think noone will do that. If you insert some DNA into a cell, DNA unknown to the cell, the cell might or might not take it. Well, in the case of GM crops, the plant take it and then incorporate it into its own gene. Have anyone ever declare they know what'll happen to other genes when a new gene is inserted? Well, as far as I know, noone yet declare they know. Hence, it's quite clear that noone actually know for sure what the GM crops have fully in store. Maybe by interbreeding the GM crops with wild types for years to ensure that the traits are being passed down to the descendants and stable, we can be at least 1% sure that the plant accept the new traits. Again, maybe that by doing such, we can be sure that the crops pass some selection. Alas, noone will know for sure.

Lastly, the long term effect of the GM crops is not yet known. There is even a notion that the government is unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) allowing the GM crops producers to use the entire population as the guinea pig of GM products. After all, no company will be crazy enough to do a 20-30 years trial on their product officially before they pass it to the market. Now, you be the judge whether you'd want to eat GM food or not. For me, if I ever read the label and know for sure that's GM food, I'd avoid it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Consumer Price Index

Governments around the world always use inflation to note their ability to control the economy. They always point to the low inflation figure to say that their people are better off.

I have my huge doubt in consumer price index which are widely used to report on inflation. For example, in Singapore, the real-life fact indicates that there is at least 20% increase in wheat price, some percentage increases of prices of various products in the supermarket. Even the noodles and rices in hawker centre are provided with less portion or have increased by 20% or more. Yet, the government here reports a great number of inflation, at a mere 4% or around that. To add salt to the wound, the 4% inflation is said to be lower than the 5% average salary increment. Wow, many people were expected to say. Anyway, a simple calculation shows 1% betterment!! O really?!?! What about if the fact on the ground actually shows that people need to spend 10% more each month? Does it bother the government? Nay, I don't think so. Government in Indonesia and Singapore at least, seems to be attentive at their good inflation rate.

Another big challenge with Singapore's statistics is in the employment figure. I have met a number of jobless folks and it was always reported in the paper that more jobs are created. Now, for a crude example, if the jobs are created for people with ability A and there are numerous ability B who can't simply turn to ability A, does it mean that the economy is better? Well, the government says yes since there are lots more jobs than the applicants despite the hard fact that A LOT of people are jobless. Funny heh? I don't understand why it's so difficult for government officials to go down to the real field and feels for themselves the hard fact. Have they become so deluded?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Keyring - amazing invention

Did it ever come to your thoughts that keyring is such a simple yet useful innovation? It's simply based on a spring mechanism where 2 coils of ring is held together in a default compressed state. When force is applied to input key into the spring's coil, the spring expands and we can loop the key into the coil. Hence, when the key pass through the mid portion of the entire spring coil where the end and head of coil meet, the key is exactly in the "middle" of the spring and held together by circle, which is the spring in compressed state once again.

A simple mechanism invented in a time so long that no one remember who and when it took place. Yet we have been using the same principle up to now without notable modification to the design. /salut