Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lack of any insurance provider for iPad, iPhone or Smartphone in Singapore

I have subscribed to Zurich / Mobile cover, and had some sort of peace of mind. Especially with a thousand dollar gadget in my two young kids hands. Unfortunately they stopped renewing the contract, and I couldnt find any similar insurance options for the iPad.

I have tried my best to child proof by getting a survivor case (not exactly same but similar), but today the unfortunate thing happened.

Unfortunately have no choice but through it off. The repair from apple store costs me almost the price of a new ipad 16gb, while the other shops quoted me slightly lower than that. Wish I could have got something like endsleigh in SG.

But this reminds me once again of the dangers with gadgets and kids :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Age limit for a public sector job in India / Telangana state - 54 years for handicapped, and 49 / 45 for rest

Source: Indian Express

Wish this is not true, but seems 54 years is the maximum age a person can get in to a job. I am not sure but the state of affairs is worrying me. Taking the retiring age of 60, they have a maximum service duration of 6 years? Then another recruiting exercise to happen? or extend the retirement age then going to pass the job to their children? Who is going to bear the costs??

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Air India - Wish Mr.Modi make a daring decision to close this loss making, arrogant employee mafia organization and a disgrace to India

I still recall the early days of The Maharaja, and the warmth of traditional indian folks welcoming with a smile & nameste in to the 747. The feeling itself was like you're no longer in USA but in India.

But we all know what is going on with Air India these days. Be it an air-hostess turning off auto-pilot while the pilot dozing off or Pilot with fake papers, or fighting mid-air. All these things are visible in public news, but the most important thing is "experience". If any of you every flew with AI, you know what I mean.

Anyway, after almost a  decade, I took Air India. The new Boeing 787 to SG in dirt & dull color waiting for me on the tarmac in new delhi. The first sight itself was not too good, but I told my inner self not to be cynical and get on. Surprise, no welcome or I couldnt even recognize the crew. They are just like any other passenger. Wearing regular dresses, with unshaven/unkempt hair, and most importantly talking in the mobile phones. Was a bit confused, but managed to find my seat and tried to relax by closing my eyes.

#1st annoyance: Right after the flight started pulling out, there is a hard tap on my shoulder and I opened my eyes. There was this lady who mumbled "you need to listen to the security message". OMG, so I can't even close my eyes (no earset/pods at all)?. I refused and continued in my thoughts while trying to throw my irritation away

#2nd annoyance: Within 30 min, the usual fare of serving drinks, food began. I requested not to disturb as it was well past mid-night. While I almost knocked-off, there is another rude voice and a hard tap on my head rest as if somebody trying to hit me. There is another guy who is concerned that I am skipping my meals and not drinking anything. Irritated quite badly

#3rd annoyance: Did I mentioned that they forgot to switch off the lights?

#4th annoyance: Did I mentioned that the crew just took the last row of seats and started to sleep (as if it's a bed)? Even during when the seat belt sign is on?

#5th annoyance: By the way there is no service at all. Even when you push the button multiple times A passenger who was sitting few seats in-front of me need some hot water / milk. She tried to call the crew at-least 5 times but couldn't see anybody bothered.

#6th annoyance: Did I mentioned that they really know how not to use any equipment? For example the new 787 windows can't be dimmed/opened up with the seat buttons? It's centrally controlled so one would miss the beautiful sunrise totally.

Anyway, the list goes on. Be it the dirty, smelly seats (on the 787 itself) or total lack of empathy from the crew (did they even know the meaning of service) to attend the needy or vomiting passengers (btw, the crew doesnt even bother to clean), or noisy cabin with crew shouting across the flight (????)..

Overall, all I could tell you guys is if you want to feel like you are in the worst place possible on earth, just get on the air india for a long haul flight. IMHO, they quickly need to close this loss making, money sucking machine and disgrace of India from business. Atleast we could save some tax payers money (Billion $ / year atleast).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Uber-X cheaper than Taxi Service - I dont think so

Uber is great and it helped me atleast dozen times in Singapore, few dozen times overseas. I really love the overall experience but recently I started to feel the fees in Singapore are getting a bit expensive. So I put together a quick comparison of taxi bills vs uber and the comparison does shows Uber is cheaper.

When I compare $ / Min or $ / KM, it clearly shows Uber is cheaper than regular taxis. But the weird part is my journey route is almost the same. So when I looked a bit deeper, the evidence started to surface. Some how Uber calculates the "distance" a bit longer compared to other taxi services. May be Uber is more accurate or whatever it is but if you look at the trip on 22-Apr-15 (last row), vs 30-Apr-14 (first row), or 15-Jul-14 (5th Row), the source-destination-route is exactly the same. Barring some deviation due to traffic, the fare should end up cheaper for uber as the claim.

So for me, it's very simple. I am happy with the level of taxi service in Singapore and I would go back to Comfort or other regular taxi service. Ofcourse, I would still need Uber in SFO & SYD. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Telemedicine: The next big thing to drive bandwidth requirements?

Recently there is plenty of noise in the Internet of things, or everything (IoE), connected home, smart nation, or smart cities and smart everyhing ;). During my conversations with service providers in the region, one of the biggest question is how could the SP monetize this new wave. For example, if the money is to be spent on infrastucture or m2m, the SP part is very little. i.e. they would end up providing the SIM cards. If its connected homes, then again SP got little to play. So the question always goes back to enterprise / B2B applications.

One of the most talked, and interest raising domain is healthcare. Given the diversity in Asia, this is believed to make a huge change in the coming future. Almost all major service providers in the region are evaluating Healthcare and how they can be part of the value chain. I saw Telstra made first announcement in this category by acquiring Anywhere Healthcare. I like the way Telstra been transformed from a lethargic incumbent to aggressive player.

Another country with huge potential is Indonesia. The country or the nation of multiple islands is geographically so diverse, and with horrible connectivity. Telemedicine can make a huge difference in the lives of people. Probably my guess is Telstra would focus on australia first then on Indonesia. I can see it happening with telstra global with its cloud offerings, and the same will happen with other services.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HDB Lease buy back extended to Four Rooms

Source: CNA

In a summary, its no longer applicable for 3-Rooms and 3,000 income criteria. Now it's applicable (from tomorrow) for 4-Rooms and 10,000 income.

I seriously wish this should be applicable to all HDB and not 3-room, and 4-rooms. With this approach, elders can have a more stable income during their late years. After all it is the same HDB, and same HDB payments all people paid :)

Singapore Taxi - Standardization some fare components

Source: CNA

As recent as last month, I shared my frustration with the industry/situation, and today I saw the news from CNA. But I am quite disappointed with the details, and approach. Basically it is as it is today, but legalizing the approach. Why can't be there a simple system in place? Lets say two different categories - Budget, Premium ? Why can't we forgo the advance booking charges? or for that matter booking charges? Why can't we remove the credit card surcharge and link with our credit cards so no-show fee can be put in place?

I believe this is the right time we should treat Taxi as an integral part of public transport, and stop the complex charge system. 

Weird, Contradicting Airlines rules

Most of the folks would have faced this situation. Take out the laptop or ipad from the bag, remove belts, remove shoes, and jackets while going through the airport security.

Though I hate this process, initially I was kind of appreciative that it is to 'secure'me but after roaming across 4 different continents over the last decade, my feelings changed dramatically. I couldnt understand the rational, or logic behind these actions when I see it across the journey. Some of my observations goes here, but I would start with the most annoying one which is at Hong Kong airport

* No water in to the flight at all. Not even after security check, and there is a second security check right before you enter your foot in the flight. The officer will stare at you and ask you to drink or throw it off. If its a O&D airport, I could understand but HKG is one of the largest transit / connecting airport between east-west with 10+ hour flights. One may say, simply ask the hostess in the flight, but trust me this will not work with all airplanes, they wont refuse but they wont serve either.
Anyway, the observations below

  1. Why no KINDLE or iPad (flight mode) but news paper allowed during taxi/take-off/landing ?
  2. Why SQ, Asian airlines ask people to up the shades even blinding sun while United or US airlines insist on closing the shades?
  3. Why SQ takes 30 min for landing procedures and with seat belt sign on while United takes last 5-10 min?
  4. Why different rules / processes followed at different airports? i.e. some need to remove shoes, some no need? is it the technology they are using or something else?
  5. Why "highly flammable" Alcohol from Duty Free shops allowed in to the flight but no lighter (India - you to be blamed)? ...No idea, and the list goes on. 
Finally, one last one.

Why can't they normalize the volume for announcements ? Is it to show their sadistic nature to scare the shit out of sleeping people? or hurt the ears so badly, that they will not feel anything in their next flight?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Visible corruption/cheating in Bangkok - Taxi is just tip of the problem

If you happened to read this article about the taxi cheating case in Bangkok and wondering that if this is true given the positive news we always hear about thailand, or thai culture, then let me tell you. 

The cheating or the mindset is pretty common if you happened to be a non-thai or new to the place. Actually the problems starts at the moment you step down at the airport. I mentioned it previously here, and it is still a norm. i.e. as long as you go in to the priority queue with infants or kids, then you are charged 200 baht extra and without any receipt. That's not a small amount and imagine this is practised in the open day light. 

I have been to Bangkok more than 30-35 times in the last 5 years and every time I end up with some negative memory. Overall the trip experience is positive but there will be one or two cases which makes it bad. My biggest complaint is with taxi drivers is they simply refuse to stop, or refuse to go to specific place or bug on going with a fixed rate instead of meter. I face atleast once. I dont remember having a good memory that a driver is courteous or giving the exact change (i.e. meter shows 85, but no  change for 100 baht note)

My recent trip, I had an instance where taxi driver asked me to pass 75 baht for highway charges, and 50 baht for airport tax. When I asked for a receipt, (which nobody cares) his answer is dont have and a nasty look. I wish I had taken the video too. Anyway the authorities are not doing any thing because it doesnt hurt them directly. Be it the corruption at airports, or cheating tourists. 

Seriously hope, they realize that this would hurt the image of nation, and thai culture. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Singapore Budget 2015: Higher tax for top earners, Benefits to lower income groups and CPF enhancements

If you have not seen any of these news about Singapore budget, then you must be living under a rock. Just kidding.. I was told not many are concerned as there will not be massive changes in the budget without prior hints.. So lets look at the budget and the key points captured my eyes were,

  1. CPF Enhancements: Increased the limit from current 5000/m to 6000/month. Which means I am expecting the limit to go 17 months including OW + AW ceiling. So instead of SGD 31,450 per annum, its going to be SGD 37,740. Or additional 6,290. Here 2,890 comes from Employer while the rest is from you. So you got a pay hike of ~250 from next year. 
  2. Income tax: I hate this part to increase the rate and create complexity. Especially when the top bracket is paying 20%. If it goes higher then what exactly is the point of getting top talent here. Anyway to not to offend the 'mass sentiment' and to show robinhood policies I would go with it. If you are making 250,000 the MoF estimated that the difference is 400 (Source: Todayonline). Not sure how they ended up with 50,000 taken for deductions. The CPF is max 20,400, Earned Income - 1,000, Spouse Relief - 2,000 (if your spouse is not working), Kids - 8000 (2x 4000) and this makes it max 32,000. I don't think an average person can claim relief of 50,000 but more in to 30,000 unless max out on SRS, Insurance, Education, etc.. So if I take 30,000 then the difference is 950. Anyway I will wait to see the excel calculators from IRAS as I am not very good with manual calculators. Or I need to use excel to measure
  3. Maid Levy: not a fan as this is not applicable
  4. Others: No comments

Overall, this is a mixed one for me and I tend to feel that this is more towards negative side rather than exited one.