Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome 2013, and Good bye 2012. Thank god we're still alive

Hello World. Wish you all a wonderful time ahead.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Present - Free Skype 1 month unlimited world calling

Source: Skype

Try this from Skype and you will end up subscribing to their premium packages. At least myself happily paying for their unlimited plan which allows me to make close to 10,000 min of local minutes. Best part is the quality of voice, and you can use the "CALLER ID". So my friends may not even know that I am calling from Skype.

All you need to do is to click on the above link (or here). After you sign-in you need to enter the credit card or paypal details. But not to worry, you can go and cancel two days before the month end so you won't be charged subsequently.

A little bit of hassle but a month long free calls :) Nice trade-in IMO.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Google Maps available on iOS

Finally, maps is available on iPhone. No longer I need to use the maps in browser or alternatives such as waze. The problem is in Singapore, we've only one good maps application which is Google Maps. Waze is perfect in USA (or at least in SFO where I used for quite a while) but in SG needs a total overhaul.

Anyway back to google maps and now wish I can make it default ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Indian food in Changi Business Park (CBP)

Just moved to CBP and yes, I hated the move just like the rest of my colleagues. The place is 'ulu', no good transportation, need to spend hours in public transport, no good food, expensive etc etc.

On the plus side, there are plenty of Indian food choices available, there is a Fairprice extra right next to office. Great. I have an excuse to get a cab on friday :)

Coming to the Indian food, below is a list for future reference.. I'll try to update if I come across any new places and am sure there will be some feedback which I can use too.

I am giving the postcode and building name instead of the complete street address to avoid any clutter.

1. Sakuntalas ( UE Bizhub East, South tower, S-486018)

This is near the fairprice xtra (if you walk further up) and food is good. I've tried few of their items (Dum Biryani, Set Meals & Kadai Chicken) and most of them are good. Only downside is it gets pretty crowded and the prices are a bit on the high side compared to food court prices. But worth for a quick meal, and don't expect it to be a quiet place :)

** Used to be Zaffaran. 

2. Saravana Bhavan (Plaza-08, S-486025)

Same type of food and offers strictly vegetarian. Exec set lunch seems to be popular as I can see many people during the peak hour.

For me, it's unlikely I'll end up as a regular here.

3. Ras Bites (Plaza-08, S-486025)

This is in the building Plaza-8 but towards the end. i.e. Walk past Saravana Bhavan, Sankranti and then there it is.  level. Seems this is one of the best bet for a lunch meeting with Indian guests/food. Place is good, food tastes good too. Prices are reasonable but lately I see this place getting pretty busy around Lunch time.

4. Makan Mumbai Express (MM Express - Teh Tarik) (CITI Bank building, S-486026)

This is the Indian stall in the Teh Tarik food court in Plaza-08 and I've been visiting this place almost every day. Their set meal is great and tastes good too. One should watch how quickly (or the attempt) they serve the thali in the huge steel plate :)

But during lunch hour the place is obviously crowded so one need to plan either a bit early or a bit late. Especially avoid the 12:30 period.

5. Sri Shubham (next to MM Express @ Teh Tarik) (CITI Bank building, S-486026)

This stall opened around Oct last year and steadily improving the food quality. This is Andhra / Telugu food so supposed to be more spicier compared to MM Express. However I found it's not the case. Food is acceptable but their vegetables need improvement. Actually a lot of improvement.

6. Sankranti (Plaza-8, S-486025)

Food is not bad, prices are ok (Set lunch ~ 8; Buffet ~12) but the biggest issue is "service'. They seems to be busy walking fast across the place and you've to be lucky to get their attention without getting up and standing on table.
Update-1: Since my original comments, there seems to be some improvement. Will try few more times.

7. Tandoor Curry Club (Eightrium @ Changi, S-486035)

Food is acceptable and they deliver too. So can't miss this place. Phone number is 9118 7234. Delivery took around 40 min on a busy monday so I guess these guys can be trusted/counted on.

8. Kinara (UE Bizhub, S-486018)

This is a rather new opening and the food is good but not the bill :|. So you need to be 'prepared' to pay >25 for lunch; double for dinner with drinks. Somehow it doesn't appear in their website but I can assure you the place is open and running for a while.

9. Indian Curry House (Expo near Hall-4, S-)

This is a place near Expo which operates during lunch & dinner hours. Strangely the dinner hours are till 11.00 so after a late meeting @ office, you can jump in here.
Food is good but a bit on the high side for the quality. I loved the butter naan. Fish cake/cutlet wasn't that great. Rest of the items like butter chicken, tandoor etc are acceptable.

10. Indian stall @ Basement food court, Changi Citi Point

There is a stall in the Changi Citi Point. When you enter the mall from main entrance just take the downward escalator at the right hand side. That's the small food court or food area in Changi Citi Point.
Food is good but the place is damn crowded during the lunch hours. Good to give a try if you are not in a rush during the lunch break or if you can beat the peak hour crowd.
Breakfast or Evening tea / snack time is great at this place as the variety of snacks are pretty good. i.e. you can most of the items like Dosai, Samosa, Kachori etc.
Update#01: Heard that this place is an extension to one of my fav and most frequented Indian restaurant at Serangoon Gardens - Garden Kadhai. Have to find during my next visit when I am back to work :)

11. Ananda Bhavan, UE Bizhub East (It's opp Fairprice or near the Nanyang coffee)

No need introduction. Not too crowded (may be not many people know this place??).

12. Vegetarian Food, The Signature Building Food court

This is a 'Indian food court", and to the far left you can find the vegetarian stall. Good food and the lunch set menu seems popular. They are offering South Indian set & north indian set (i.e. same stuff but with buttermilk in south indian set)

13. North Indian Food, The Signature Building Food court

Same food court, and variety. Naans are pretty acceptable

14. South Indian Food, The Signature Building Food court

Same food court, and variety. They do have some 'special rice' i.e. lemon rice etc. 

15. Nepalese Food, The Signature Building Food court

Not Indian per say but pretty close. This food court should change to 'indian food court' :) great place for Indian food lovers and trust me guys/gals, you need to start jogging to keep your weight under check.

16. Muthiah Restaurant, UE Bizhub East

This place is at the back side of UE Bizhub (after NTUC towards the Expo mrt via the old route). After an year or so, I managed to visit this place and I am quite surprised to see a huge crowd. Guess I was wrong to expect people wouldnt go there at the corner but people love to walk across in rain or hot sun to have a good meal. Food is good, and variety is great. Only down side is the waiting in the queue to place order, wait to get the food, wait to get the bill. They are extremely slow in the service and that's creating long waits..

17. Manchurian Club, UE Bizhub East (486015)

I missed the manchurian club and this is infact considered indian :). They offer the popular 'chinese food' customized for indian palette. The place is towards the hotel (from NTUC Fairprice, you can see Cheers - Shenton Clinic and - Manchurian Club) and not very crowded. Food is average for me but service is much better. You can have a spicy bite here during the upcoming rainy season :)

**That's all for the time being and will explore and update if I come across any new places**

*** Thinking of putting in the map possible with some pictures. Time to plan my next trip :).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thai Language - Sanskrit Roots

Just returned from a quick trip to Bangkok and it is the first time I ever had some free time to roam around the city in the last five years (since I first went). The experience is entirely different and showed me a different city (I used to spend my time across Erawan and Central World/Siam). Among the most interesting observations, the best is the thai language. When I first started working with Thai people, my biggest problem was the "names" and how to pronounce. Slowly I got used to it but didn't really 'tried' to understand the meaning.
But this time, after going to the country side and up north, I really started to feel close to the country. No wonder this is a God's own country ;)

Ok, here I share some thai words and try to guess the meaning.

At first this may sound too difficult to pronounce (atleast as if in Thai) and pretty difficult to remember the names. But let me explain, 

  • Thonburi         --> Thon + Puri = Dhan+Puri --> Dhan Puri 
  • Rattanakosin   --> Rattana + Kosin = Ratna+Kosam --> Ratna Kosam
  • Mahasamut     --> Maha + Samut = Maha + Samudra (pali word)
  • Nonthaburi     --> Nontha + Buri = Nuthan + Puri --> Nuthan Pur
  • Samut Prakan --> Prakan = Prakar and you know what it means
  • Nakhon Pathom --> Nakhon = Nagara + Pathom = Prathama 
:) basically it's all Sanskrit + Pali words changed form. Just like how Malay/Bahasa similar to "normalized Sanskrit" :)

So next time when you go to Bankok, try to guess the meaning and you'll remember the names for a long time.

India kicked out of Olympics

Source: CNA

It shows the kind of 'numbness' and 'dumbness' of Indian leaders. The scariest part to me is the society as a whole seemed to be kind of accepted "bribery" and "corruption" as part of the life. This is really dangerous and if this is true the world need to be cautious as the repercussions from the country can impact the world as a whole. After all we are talking about a fifth of global population.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

CNA News - English proficiency in Public Service

Source: CNA

Below is some text copied from CNA. I've been going through this in Singapore which is supposed to be one of the best place where majority speaks English. However recently, many of the Bus Drivers can't even understand simple english. When we've rules for domestic workers who need to have certain proficiency, not quite sure why we choose to go with people who can't understand english.

How about the road safety, signs and other basic rules which are in English? Are we missing something here?

The company acknowledged that communication channels can be improved, and said that it has put in new initiatives to improve communication with its drivers.
These include appointing liaison officers who can speak Mandarin to deal directly with the drivers.
Drivers can approach these liaison officers in addition to their supervisors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why some things are more expensive in Singapore - Even MAS got the doubt now

Source: CNA

If you ever wonder, why things in HongKong, or USA or even our neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand are relatively cheaper compared to Singapore then you are not alone. MAS or the big uncles got the doubt as well.
For example, if I see a camcorder from Sony,

Singapore price from Sony, Singapore  is SGD 1,199.00
Amazon price from Amazon, USA is USD 499.00 or SGD 611. What the $$$$? Almost half the price. It is exactly the same box. If we're to compare the price in showroom price in USA, or Sony, Singapore is USD 599.99 (+100 credit) or SGD 732.

Another example is simple Vitamins, some lotions which I found half the price in HK. The list is endless. Why and what is the main reason?

If I look in to what's included in the cost of a item/product? I can think vaguely,
  1. Manufacturing cost
  2. Shipping cost
  3. Taxes
  4. Cost of business (rental, display, employee etc)
  5. Profit margin
So if we see individual categories, I'd think manufacturing cost should be the same across for "similar" quality items. Almost all the items are manufactured in China anyways.

Shipping cost shouldn't be a big difference too as we're pretty close to the manufacturing places ;)

Taxes - Singapore is a low tax nation.

Cost of business - Rent is high but not as high as in HK or NY; Staff pay is damn low here..Interest rates, taxes are pretty low too.

Profit Margin - ???

No comments then..

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Exemption of GST for Investment grade gold, silver, platinum in Singapore

Source: IRAS

With effect from 1st Oct, there is no GST (7% as of now) for "precious metals in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer and coin which meet certain criteria"

So what exactly are they? From the IRAS document one can see, 

  • gold of at least 99.5% purity, silver of at least 99.9% purity  or platinum of at least 99% purity; and
  • For gold and silver, a  refiner in the current or former „Good Delivery‟ list of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)
  • It bears a mark or characteristic that is internationally accepted as guaranteeing its quality.
In a nutshell, all Gold Coins from the mints like American buffalo, Australian Kangaroo Nugget, Canada Maple Leaf & Singapore lion are exempted. 

The tricky part is where the gold bars / coins from resellers like Mustafa (i.e. 100 grams biscuit; etc). Today majority of coins meet above requirements (i.e. purity & mark) but I saw Mustafa charging GST. The exception is to the bars of 1KG. So it seems it's still good to buy from places like Dubai (you may end up paying GST though); For the investment, I still prefer ETF's. Second choice would be  UOB / CITI Bank savers accounts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

English Language Proficiency - Country list

Source: EPI or English Proficiency Index

Here is an interesting article (full study can be downloaded from the above link) on nations English proficiency. I was under the impression that Nordic countries language skills weren't great as my encounters with the companies (e.g. Ericsson, Nokia, ) wasn't that great.
There is a strong correlation between 'english' and 'economic progress' which is not a surprise given the domination of English in world markets and business.

Singapore occupied the top place in Asia. It is no surprise but again my observations of is similar to India. More people can communicate in English but few people can articulate well & think well in English. It's still a 'foreign language" than native.

I found another interesting part which is the 'progress' or 'change' in proficiency over years. From the chart, I see India jumped 16 ranks, while countries like Korea, Hongkong, Saudi dropped by double digits. In fact India is the only country with double digit growth in ranking.
The only reason I could think is due to the overall literacy rate improvement. In my observation India's English speaking skills are worsening (just like me who can't communicate as effectively as my dad/mom). Similar to Singapore, many Indians can communicate in English but we can't 'think' in English. that's the problem English speaking in Asian nations. So you can here people asking 'how much is the time'; or claiming, some relative "expired"; or put down the baby; or asking a question " when did you passout ? ;) ;)

Well, I can't stop thinking about Russel Peters now :)

Multiple Gmail extension in Chrome - Checker Plus for Gmail

Source: Checker Plus for Gmail
Install here from Chrome Web Store

Most of you understand the pain to check emails from multiple gmail accounts. Whether it's a family PC which is shared among the family, or single person with multiple gmail accounts, the task of checking one after one is not an easy one. On top of it, there are plenty of not-so-urgent mails which simply needs a view.

With this little extension, you can save all the hassle. Be it just glancing through the content of the mail before deleting it, or clicking on links, or forwarding.. You can do almost all the regular tasks within the extension. I've installed it on my family PC and right now we're using it for 4 accounts and it works perfectly fine.

You can find more reviews and WIKI for FAQs in above links.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Egg consumption per person by country - 2007 data.

Just now I saw an article in CNA, saying that Egg shortage in malaysia creating some issues. In the same article it was mentioned that Malaysians consume 320 eggs / year on average which is one of the highest in the world.
So that's where I started to wonder about the rest. A quick search resulted in some links but more authentic one was from a website called wattagnet. I can't paste the data here without their permission here but the details there are up to 2007. Based on 2007 data, the top most consumers are from Brunei.

But the study is in KG so another quick search led me to, BBC, and convertto. On an average the assumption is ~40 grams. So approx 25 eggs/KG.

  • Brunei - 20.99 kilo grams / person / year or 524 eggs 
  • Followed by Denmark, Japan, Paraguay, Mexico, Netherlands & China
  • China - 17.41 kilo grams / person/ year or 435 eggs.
  • USA - 14.29 kilo grams / person / year or 357 eggs. It stood at 16
  • Malaysia - 12.21 kilo grams / person / year or 306 eggs. It's rank is 21.
  • India - 2.07 kilo grams / person / year or 51 eggs. Rank is 128 :)

I couldnt find Singapore data in the study but from AVA, I've got this info.

  • Singapore - 302 eggs in 2007 (rank is 24); Or 308 eggs in 2011.
Well, finally why did the chicken crossed the road ?? (Don't ask me for the answer; Neither the question what is the point of this blog post)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Newsloop - New app from SingTel


NewsLoop brings traditional media to the next level by putting together news and lifestyle content into an elegant app. With over 230 content sources and 25 categories of stories to choose from, NewsLoop lets you discover news that matters to you.

I've installed it on my iPhone few hours ago and trust me, this is by far the best news app available in Singapore (or region). 

Some screen shots below showing the granularity of customization. wish I could show the functionality but you must try to get a feel :)

It's available from Appstore. Give it a try !!!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Survey found most S’pore firms let employees work from home ??

Source: Yahoo

It's really a big joke :)  The author must be trying to convey a different message but end up giving this wrong impression. Perhaps it should be something like,

Most S’pore firms ASK employees work from home AFTER OFFICE HOURS:

Anyway jokes aside, I am a strong supporter of telecommuting and it can be a deal breaker to me in a new job or my existing job. We are in a different world today where we don't have the luxuries of our dad/grandpa who used to finish their 9-5 job and come home without much tensions or thinking. But thanks to the pressure cooker culture and attitude to work we have a situation that many of Singaporeans can't stop thinking about work even when they are in toilet (Another survey from CNA says this that people bring their mobiles ;0). So telecommuting can help save couple of hours from travel time and most importantly it can help workers to be more "FLEXIBLE". Flexible doesn't mean to be less work but work when the person is more productive.
I know many people who are wonderful during early mornings. So they can stay home to focus on work rather than spending their valuable time in MRT or Bus. Same goes for late owls.

Even it helps Employers to trim down some of the cost in terms of real estate, cooling, power etc. This is what I'd say a win-win.

Sadly our local "managers" attitude is "Theory-X". i.e. assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can and that they inherently dislike work. As a result of this, management believes that workers need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed

And this is where the problem is. Today majority of modern theories shown that employees are of Type-Y or "Self Motivated" type and doesn't need to be "controlled" but provide help/assistance when needed. Instead of hierarchy, team/collaborative work practices are much more common.

  • Today employees doesn't need to be "controlled" but " consulted" or offered assistance
  • No longer hierarchical inherently but more of a collaborative structure
  • Performance pay which promotes self motivation & drive
  • No longer "hierarchical or position based power" but more of a "influence, persuasion power"
  • Not really for $ but more of a complete package with $, balance, satisfaction.

I see some MNC's and local companies are on the right track (atleast from an employee point of view) and some are moving towards but IMO majority of local firms are way behind. It may take decades or centuries to change the attitude of 'boss-worker' mindset.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

M1 did it again. 200Mbps FTTx SGD 49/month

Source; M1 Promotions

Just after an year or so since we saw $ 29 / 50Mbps; $39/100 Mbps, M1 started the price war again with $49/200Mbps plan.

Wait.. The 49 includes, Home Fixed voice services & Mobile broadband data service (for your tab or iPad). With the current bundled plans of 2GB mobile data it makes perfect sense to subscribe to a separate data plan for tab and this is where I believe M1 is aiming.

Ofcourse, the question is how *FAST* the 200Mbps can take us to internet highway. The problem in Singapore is the content is not hosted locally (even with massive Peta Bytes of Cache from SingTel, Google) so the overseas internet bandwidth is important and this is where we need to improve .

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

iOS6 - Passbook, United Airlines

My first pass book@ Tokyo-Singapore.

It works, though the staff were pretty new and not sure what to do. Luckily  the supervisor knows about it (may be she is the only one with some communication) and let me in.

It'd be good if more options are available. Usefulness point of view, not much but it's "cool" :)

Jasmine - Youtube client on iPhone

I am a great fan of browser based stuff so I don't have to install a *special* app for doing the same task.

For example, the original Youtube app bundled with iOS (before iOS6) was a waste and it doesn't even offer HD content. On the other hand Safari lets you choose HD option.

Recently I see many people started using Jasmine. I was told that this is from Jason Morrissey (yeah, the guy behind Alien Blue) so thought of giving it a try.

I must say, the first look itself is pretty impressive. The interface is simple & elegant. The focus is on "search" functionality. I felt that somehow it is rather fast compared to browser based youtube, and also the playback is smooth.

Now the bad part, is you'll lose the options in Youtube. i.e. the browser based search queries, , long, recent, etc. Also it doesn't let you sort by date, popularity etc. So end up going back to browser based :)

However if there is an app which is simple, elegant & easy for youtube, then Jasmine will be at the top. You can try it @  iTunes.

iTunes link

Sunday, September 30, 2012

DealExtreme - Cheap electronic/accessories online and FREE postage to anywhere

Most of the guys in Singapore(or region) knows DX or DealExtreme. This is a online webstore similar to Amazon but the best part is the delivery is free of charge worldwide. I guess that's their USP . Though there are some complaints I am quite happy with their goods and service so far. If I feedback on a faulty item, the replacement is almost immediate without any questions asked.

You can see a conversation between me & DX recently on a DOA item. I was curious to see how the solar charger works on an iPhone so I placed an order and the item came as DOA. I can see it get's charged for a couple of min (red light on) but it just goes off immed. Connecting to iPhone doesn't work too. So within couple of days the DX service exec clarified with me and offered a replacement..Great job.

Order #: 120903001096xxxxxxx27
Request Type: DOA (Dead on Arrival) Item
Status: Closed
Ticket number: 51635xxxxxxxxxxxxD85B8570FAAD3A0798E
Date Received: 9/26/2012 2:39:24 PM (UTC)
Notification E-mail: xxxxxt*****.*** (masked for privacy)
Defective SKU : 94466  

Description: Hi, This piece doesn't even get charged. There are three small lights at the bottom which supposed to show some activity. I've connected the USB cable to direct power source, laptop power source, and even put it under direct sunlight for 2 hours to see any change or indication. It seems the battery itself is dead.I can't

Dear customer

Have a nice day. Thanks for your support with DX.

A free replacement
94466 has been processed for you, and we rushed your order, so the items will be shipped immediately. You will receive a notification email once we get it shipped. And it would be much appreciated if you could kindly give a mark for my service.

Once we shipped the parcel, you can track the replacement using your existing order number

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Indian antiquated custom laws - Creating negative impression at the very first step.

Can you believe that you (if you are person of Indian origin, or Indian national or at times a human being) may end up paying "custom tax" on your engagement ring or gold chain when you enter India ?

Indian government introduced recently a law (40 years old law) which states allows a man to carry gold worth INR 10,000 and women to carry INR 20,000. So as per the current prices it turns out 3.5 gms and 7.1 gms for men & women. When this law introduced then the gold price was INR 88. So it used to allow more than 100 gms / men & 200 gms/women.

I am not asking for legally allowing to bring gold but after facing a "harassment from Indian customs" during my recent trip I am stunned now. I was stopped because my ring is more than 8 grams and I was asked to pay tax.

It shows again that there is no commonsense when it comes to Indian bureaucratic system and it simply works based on the whims and whits of some idiots sitting at top and some barbarians trying to ransack you officially @ customs.

The solution given by one of my friend was "to pay" or "to ask for a custom certification while leaving India". Apparantly this was mentioned in the website but no details given. When I requested the Customs officer he was dumb folded and he doesn't even know there is something that exists. So after spending couple of hours in one of the most expensive Airport in world (New Delhi) I left the country with a bitter taste.

The website and text is pasted for quick reference. If you manage to get it done or knows the procedure please share so the rest of folks can save their hard earned money.

          All the passengers leaving India by Air are subject to clearance by Custom Authorities. Only bonafide baggage is allowed to be cleared by passengers. There is a procedure prescribed whereby the passengers leaving India can take the export certificate for the various high value items as well as jewellery from the Customs authorities. Such an export certificate comes handy while bringing back the things to India so that no duty is charged on such goods exported by the passenger.

LTE Price plans - SingTel, SH, M1

I saw the recent update from Yahoo on iPhone price plans and I believe this is bundled with LTE data. If I see standalone BBOM plans from SingTel, the prices are 59.90 per 10GB. Which means the LTE data is valued at ~ SGD 6 / GB and the typical speeds are ~ 3.4 - 12.0 Mbps

Looking at 3G plans, for speeds of 1.4-3.7 Mbps, and the cost per GB is ~ SGD 3.

Now the question is that the industry boasted a lot that with LTE prices set to drop as the cost to TELCO's will be much cheaper in comparison with legacy 2G/3G network. LTE is an all-ip flat network and supposed to deliver 1GB of data for > USD 1. Back in 2009, Ericsson came with the business case/whitepaper to deliver 1GB for 1EUR. I saw similar paper from them and Huawei recently in some of the user forums.

So now the question is is it our TELCO's are running such a non-optimized network so their costs are substantially higher?
Or is it their profit margins are higher compared to other world telco's?

If LTE data could be delivered for $1 that means the operating margins are close to 70% for our TELCO's. That' assuming people use the bundled data completely. So in any case I see some good margins for the telcos on LTE but bad deal to the customers. So iPhone5 users, beware and if you can, hold back to your 3G plans. Let the heavy users go to LTE and bundled with the lower plan levels the network should have some free space in the near future and addresses the current congestion. (I am not hoping SingTel,SH,M1) to take any action to resolve by putting more capacity.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Asia's 50 best companies to work for. Huawei is only company in top-20

Source: Universum

Have a look and you'd be quite surprised at the results. No facebook or Yahoo in the list. From Singapore again there is none.

What surprises me is the position of Huawei in the list. I was under the impression that the work life in Huawei is not that great based on my friends feedback. Either my friends expectations are quite high or there is a different picture of Huawei outside of Singapore. In any case Huawei got three notches above Cisco which is one of its competitors. The traditional telecom competitors like Ericsson were ten notches below @ 27.

Interesting survey I'd say.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Google Maps & Youtube in IOS6 or iPhone 5

If you guys are excited to upgrade to iOS6 or already did, then you must have realized that there is no Google MAPS & Youtube App.
Apple replaced google maps with their own maps app but this is not a good thing to me. I've used Google Maps for years and that can be a apple vs android thing to me. However Youtube is not a big issue and I've been using Youtube in Safari/Chrome for years. So the same thought came and it works on my iPad :)

So the useful part is HTML5 and all you need is to create a shortcut of and on your home screen. This can be easily done by opening them in Safari or Chrome, then create a shrotcut.

I prefer Youtube on Safari because it offers me to select HD quality or normal quality; also the stock application doesn't offer much benefits.

But for Maps, my first experience on Safari is not that exciting. Chrome is great but still lacks the 'fastness' of stock maps app. This can be a wonderful interim solution while waiting for Google to release an app of maps. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Solar Power generation in India - Plenty of opportunities and huge potential

Ok. I started this post after experiencing the massive power cut in India personally couple of weeks back.

Power was gone for couple of days almost and what surprises me is the level of redundancy, failsafe mechanisms put by five star hotels, office buildings and shopping malls. This may looks good on surface but I am quite sad to see their dis-trust in the system. People do not trust the power supply so it is very common in India to have backup as part of any important installation. Not for few hours but days. We see this kind of backup power/ups in mission critical deployments but in India this is common even in shopping malls.

Most of these generators uses diesel which is damn expensive and putting pressure on the petrol bill. The initial deployment it self increases the cost of business and the operating expenditure would add up to it.

If the government is really sincere in its efforts to reduce the reliance on imports, they should start focusing on Solar power.

Singapore - myth of 'cheap' foreign workforce

Ok.This is very sensitive topic and I do not want to give any wrong impression. This is my 2c based on my experiences and observations.

I always took the position that companies are hiring foreigners not because they are cheap but they are more flexible. In the end the flexibility doesn't have to result in lower cost. I just saw an article from Jobstreet which is kind of supporting my observations. Just to mention "66 per cent of locals considered the low cost of labour the reason for hiring non-Singaporeans, only 16 per cent of employers cited this as the reason."

The problem is not the 'cost' but it is about the quality and even at times exposure. I've worked with many people from almost all the different categories of folks (i.e. Singaporeans, Almost Singaporeans, new Singaporeans, PR, EP ..) and I can see why $$$ is not the issue. Majority of knowledge workers are certainly making higher than their local counterparts (ofcourse including CPF) but still companies are going for them. Why ?

May be I can try to share my views based on a specific industry. This case my fav Mobile Industry. Mobile industry spans across all kind of trades from Radio to Sales/Front Office. So will try to share my views in detail here.

Experience / Exposure:

Being a tiny country we do not have the opportunity to experience many 'new' stuff and 'legacy' stuff.  For example Microwave is a pretty common backhaul in Asia/rest of the world. But we do not have any idea and if we need to even test the microwave we need to get people from outside.
Another classic case was with prepaid explosion. Few years back no-body used to use Pre-paid. Suddenly due to the foreign worker growth there is a new market for pre-paid and our telco's has no idea how to handle. They needed expert knowledge from outside. So this is considered a legacy but still we haven't had the experience.

For the "new" stuff. Lets take an example of "Green telecom". If we're to try solar base station we do not have any experience. Again we've to look at Indonesia or India.

Regional / Out of Singapore roles:

When SingTel wants to hire a person who need to manage their regional assets (SingTel owns 100% Optus-Australia; strategic stakes in Bharti-India, Telkomsel-Indonesia; AIS-Thailand; Globe-Philippines & couple more in Pakistan, Bangladesh), who would SingTel hire? A person with 3G/LTE/IP knowledge in Singapore market or a person with 2G/3G/IP/TDM knowledge from overseas?

Be it the local regulatory stuff or technologies or for that matter the mechanism of day to day work. We do not really have the skill set. Similarly, if the job requires to spend significant time in western europe or USA (For international sales or consultancy), again no choice but to get a person with real experience from those countries.


This is another area we need to improve. Now the world is changing pretty fast and with automation the jobs are getting simplified (and eliminated at the same time too).However we are still focusing too much on 'specialization' and going to narrow. Imagine if the same job can be done (with google help) by an engineer from vietnam/myanmar why would the employer (profit oriented) would like to pay higher pay to a local engineer?
So we need to differentiate ourselves and this is not a bad thing in my opinion. Government can help with policy/regulatory stuff to have specific % of local people but end of the day 'free markets' are driven by profits.

In a nutshell, 

SingTel m-Commerce or mCash

Source: SingTel Website
So there is one more option for people to remit money out of Singapore and this is from SingTel.

It is expected to be launched in a few days time and the first place will be Philippines or Globe GCash. This is a good 'try' to expand in to new business areas. However I am not sure whether this is another 'try' which is going to be short lived.

The market is there and Philippines getting 21 Billion dollars (US) in remittances. In Singapore, I don't have the stats but some what old document shows the estimates to SEA from Singapore are around 4-5 Billion Dollars (Source) in 2005. I'm sure this figure is easily doubled and if I take 10 Billion now and 50% of it going to Philippines it'll be ~ 5 Billion.

Other way is by looking at total number x average remittance. Which is ~100,000 (80,000 FDW + 25,000 other permits) and in an average if they are sending $ 250 / month that would be close to $ 3 Billion / Year.

Question is what % SingTel or other telco's can get from this amount. If it's even 3% that's going to be wonderful for SingTel.

Based on my observation, typical remittances are depending on "other party" or "recipient" rather then the "sender" convenience. If the recipient prefers to use GCash or Gcash channel this might be a success. If the other party prefers to go for normal channel, then this is going to be few weeks/months publicity.

So Globe customer base is approx 30 million and market share is ~ 30-35% in Philippines. Also in rural areas (where I guess the recipients are located) their presence is not as strong as PLDT. So this could be a negative point for them.

Overall if Globe can execute this well, this will bring some additional cash to SingTel bottom line. If Globe fails, this will fail.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sugarsync - Dropbox alternative

If you are looking for >2GB space given by Dropbox, you've plenty of choices. Google Drive (5GB), SkyDrie (5GB) but I bumped to this service called Sugarsync and the best part of it is the device compatibility. The experience is awesome and right now they have a deal where you forward the invitation to 20 people and you get 2GB absolutely free. Yes, that's right. You'll get it even if your freinds didn't subscribe to sugarsync.

If you need more you can upgrade to 30GB or other options and the prices are much more reasonable too. Give it a try and

Just click here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SilkAir to operate flight from Singapore to Visakhapatnam

Source: Hindu

Finally.. What a great news. It's been a pain for people traveling to Vizag (aka visakapatnam) to/from Singapore.  The nearest airports are in Hyderabad & Chennai which is approximately 600 & 800 km far. This will take easily 12 hours journey on a train. The catchment area is pretty huge and I wonder why there is no direct flight. People from East Godavari - southern districts in Orissa is pretty much connected with Vizag and this is going to be a pretty good news for them.

Hopefully silkair will release the schedule soon. At this time, there is no news/schedule in SilkAir website.

On a side note Tiger too started a flight from Singapore to Hyderabad. Though Silkair runs a daily service to Hyd, Tiger going to be a good news for people in Hyd. Best wishes guys..

Prices are rather reasonable (of course timings sucks as usual being a budget airline) with a two way tickets are going from ~300+ depending on season, time of booking. This is excluding all baggage, or meals etc.

Update: Silkair just published the rates.Prices are SGD-538. Not too bad if you can go to Vizag directly and save almost a day in train / bus journey.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Singapore Airlines - Need to improve, re-invent and face the bigger threats

When we say SQ or Singapore Airlines, every singaporean and resident will take some proud in it. Be it setting the standards in service or innovating SQ led the way for years.

But there seems to be little improvement or lack of it recent years. While I certainly agree that it is very tough to continue the same (i.e. easy to go from 40 to 50; but 85 to 95 is tough) but the expectations are different and new levels are defined.

Still SQ is one of the six 5-Star Airlines in operation, the recent ranking (world airline & Skytrax) both showed SQ in 3rd position rather than in 1st or 2nd which it used to be for years. The top honors goes to Qatar & Asiana.

Based on my personal experience, the SQ seems to be missing the important point: Which is Customer Experience and attention to small or minor things.

For example, The headphones in Economy class is a First from SQ. Then it became a standard. However the definitions of in-flight entertainment changed and now the audio quality from these headphones became terribly bad. it's been years since the industry started to standardize to standard 3.5 mm audio jacks while SQ still maintains the 3-pin jacks. One may say 'adapter' or buy yourself. This defeats the purpose totally. If I're to do it myself then what is the differentiation from SQ?

These fine details and attention is what made SQ a world class carrier with superior service levels. Now I don't see the same from SQ. The machines are hardware became commoditized , but the software or the 'touch' from SQ can keep it different from others.

Oh yeah, I should talk about food too (If not I can't do justice to Singapore). For heavens sake change the wines. Getting so bored with the wines collection.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Long term investing - Comparison of Cisco, Microsoft & Infosys

Have you ever wondered how people gained from the phenomenal growth of companies. We all know the Google story, and more recently the Apple story.

Ofcourse we have our local listed companies like Noble etc offering such growths (Sadly these days these are laggards)

Below is a comparison of three stocks (vested in all but not from IPO days.) and you'd be zealous to miss such an oppty.

See it to believe. So if you invested $100 in microsoft in year1986, you are sitting on 41,700 today. If it is Cisco in year 1990 then you are richer by 32,000. If it is Infosys, then you are a HNWI or UHNWI (High Net-Worth Individual or Ultra HNWI) and you can find banks queuing up infront of your home. Because that's > 16 million.

By the way all this numbers are without dividends :)

  • Microsoft

  • Cisco Systems

  • Infosys 

Skype like application from Facebook ???

Source: eweek / strand consultants

Here is an article referring to Facebook and I must admit the article is well written. But I am not quite optimistic about Facebook VoIP making a big entry in to the VoIP market and becoming 'skype killer'.

Main reason: Privacy..

Skype is a simple VoIP application and most importantly it doesn't offer more than your Skype ID, and optionally your total number of contacts, date of birth. That's it. It doesn't share where were you born or your photographs or how is your friends.

It is simply an extension of your mobile / desk phone and offers an excellent way to reach your family, friends (vice-versa). On the other hand Facebook is a platform which enables you to share the information on your personal activities.

I've seen many people printing their Skype ID on their business cards and in their websites/blogs. But so far I've not seen them doing the same with Facebook. Why ?

If FB thinks that by simply putting a VoIP copy cat application and can get a billion dollars then I'm sure Google, Microsoft, Yahoo & even Cisco (with it's latest WebEx) can share a lesson or two to Facebook :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sydney Public Transport

I am in Sydney for a couple of weeks and tried to take the public transport. I don't know why, but whenever I try other public transports my love towards our public transport back home started to go up.

Be it the cleanliness (I know we are not doing great these days), or convenience, or comfort we are way better.  The monthly pass or weekly pass is so damn mixed up you'd end up paying more for this by mixing up the zone system.

The journey time is bad too. Not because of the distance but because of frequency, speed and traffic jams. By the way, understand the Metro bus is 'high frequency' which runs average 15-20 min during peak hours :)

Some tips from my experience is to buy the two way ticket which is relatively cheap. Or they have a pass for tourists for a day with unlimited rides. Get it if you are sure to roam around the city. For longer periods, the myzone ticket is a good bet.

Of course I see the best part of Sydney public transport which is you can get a seat most of the times :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Singapore - Town Council Charges / S&CC comparison

Curious to find out on our TC charges I did this excel. Seems almost all the TC charges are quite close with little differences between Punggol (supposedly high) vs Hougang (supposedly low). I've this impression while speaking to friends but seems like not really accurate.

By the way, if there is/are any errors let me know. I did a quick capture from TC websites and there may be some copy & paste errors.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sankata Nasana Ganesha Stotram

ప్రణమ్య శిరసా దేవమ్ గౌరీపుత్రం వినాయకమ్
భక్తావాసం స్మరేన్నిత్యం ఆయు:కామార్థ సిద్ధయే

ప్రధమం వక్రతుండం చ ఏకదంతం ద్వితీయకమ్
తృతీయం క్రిష్ణపిoగాక్షం గజవక్త్రం చతుర్ధకమ్

లంబోదరం పంచమం చ షష్ఠం వికటమేవచ
సప్తమం విఘ్నరాజం చ ధూమ్రవర్ణం తధాష్టమం

నవమం ఫాలచంద్రo చ దశమం తు వినాయకం
ఏకాదశం గణపతిం ద్వాదశం తు గజాననం

ద్వాదశైతాని నామని త్రిసంధ్యం య: పఠేన్నర:
న చ విఘ్నభయం తస్య సర్వసిద్ధికారకం ప్రభో

విద్యార్ధి లభతే విద్యాం ధనార్దీ లభతే ధనం
పుత్రార్థీ లభతే పుత్రాన్ మోక్షార్థీ లభతే గతం

జపేత్ గణపతిస్తోత్రం షడ్భిర్మాసై: ఫలం లభేత్
సంవత్సరేణ సిద్ధిం చ లభతే నాత్ర సంశయ:

అష్టోభ్యో భ్రహ్మణేభ్యశ్చ లిఖిత్వా య: సమర్పయేత్
తస్య విద్వా భవేత్ సర్వా గణేశస్య ప్రసాదత:

==ఇతి శ్రీ నారద పురాణే సంకటనాశన  గణేశ స్తోత్రం సంపూర్ణమ్==

Unresponsive iPhone home button - Easy software fix if you are lucky.

Ok. First the disclaimer, hardware faults can't be solved. So if the button is damaged due to moisture or drop then you may have to make a trip to SingTel or Apple store.

My iPhone-4 started to behave weird, and this is when I started calling SingTel. As usual they wasted half an hour of my time before telling me that this must be routed to iPhone store. While planning the trip (to find the address) I searched and found this excellent trip from osxdaily.

Details are in the website. Trust me, you'd be surprised :) Atlteast to me, it helped me to avoid (or postpone) a trip to apple store.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Price difference between delivery menu vs dining @ Anjappar

Here is the attached pic showing the price difference between home delivery menu vs in store dining. In this case this is Anjappar. I am not a great fan of it due to the 'service' and the attitude.
You can see how these restaurants can deliver "free of charge" to your home. Simply hide the cost in food items and jack up the price by ~ 30%

1x Vegetable Biryani TAKEAWAY- SGD 6.50
1x Vegetable Biryani DELIVERY -  SGD 8.50

That's a 30% difference and if you are ordering for a family, you may even make a cab trip to near by location. ;)

One thing is the prices displayed are exclusive of GST. This is of an interest to me as this is supposed to be 'illegal'.

Update: About my wording 'illegal', realized that for Food items exclusion of GST is allowed and IRAS gives waiver if service charge is applicable. But I haven't seen service charges with Indian restaurants so the price should be inclusive of GST.

I still prefer Brindas for Indian food delivery.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

India - Higher education faculty pay, one of the highest in world

Source: insidehighered

As you can see the faculty of higher ed paid approx $6,070 / month in PPP $ in India. Still why only we've a bunch of IIT & IIM as worldclass institutes ?

I bet our primary school teachers (Public sector) are paid outrageously high salaries in comparison with their world wide peers and the value they offer. 

IT Staff on Bench - Why can't INFY, Wipro take them to do something worthwhile?

Source: Economictimes

One would agree that IT firms need to have a good strategy on managing bench, but at the same time what I am surprised is why can't companies like Infosys could use the resources for some creative purposes. Instead of paying them 50% or 70% salaries and let them sit in cafes why can't they be assigned a task?

I am sure they hired the best of minds and these minds can be used to innovate the next Facebook or iTunes. Even they can be used for some out of box ideas to solve the problems faced by common man. Be it the solar power, or simple native language conversion or for that matter even try to 'digitize' the old paper based knowledge..

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Roku Player - No more FREE Indian Channels, No more FREE News Channels

Recently the Yupp TV & other free channels were found missing from ROKU channel store. Seems like ROKU is simply ignoring the content part. When they lost the Youtube access I thought that's the end of ROKU.

They survived almost an year thanks to the loyal customer base. But now I believe with Apple TV & Google Nexus coming soon in to the markets at similar price points, ROKU will be facing a tough battle. Unless they start doing some modifications to their content offering I see this is the end for ROKU.

Today most of the LED TV's are coming with smart tv capabilities and they do not need an external player to simply connect to youtube/streaming content. Roku need to do much more. be it entertainment or games or whatever. Prefer not to through this cute little box but I guess no choice if they don't improve their offering

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Philippines allows visa-free entry for Indians from Singapore, USA, UK, EU, AU, Canada, Japan

Source: Philstar

A decision in the right direction. Perhaps one of the best decision by Philippines government and this improves the business travel tremendously and reduce the problems faced by tourists/businessman from these countries.

Today it takes approx 5 business days to get a entry VISA from Philippines consulate in Singapore and two trips (you must go yourself and no agents) which is a waste of time and resources. For multiple entry it may take 20+ days and again three trips to the consulate.

A simple decision will remove all these limitations. If Phil government feels that it might lose $ from visa issuance, they can charge a flat fee (say $250) similar to multiple entry visa/year.

Wish to see more nations following suite. If money is the issue I'm sure people are willing to pay for it.

Update: Comments from Immigration Philippines

Also managed to capture a photo of the circular (not very clear though, but the content is same as above)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ID Photo in Changi - Instant passport photo

I've got this strange requirement, that is I need passport photographs while I was at Changi. This is for one of the country visa on arrival requirement and I am not quite sure whether the destination airport would have an instant photo booth.
First thing is try to look in internet. The popular ID Photo (Instant Photo Booth) which is very common in MRT Stations and public malls seems to be a 'missing thing' in internet.
I couldn't find their website as well as their locations. Four Square showed me there is one but when I asked the Customer Service stall @ Changi T2 they stared at me blankly. But the Guardian staff came to my rescue and Yes, There is a ID Photo booth in Changi.

The location in T2 is near the City/MRT Escalator. This is right next to the ATM's (OCBC, DBS) and you can't miss it if you walk there.
Excuse me for the bad quality of the picture as I took it in a rush :)

Understood that there is another booth @ T3 / Terminal 3 near the entrance too. T1 seems to be missing one;

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Apple Macbook prices in India vs Singapore

Here is an excellent post from Amit summarizing the prices.

If you are one of those guy who wants to buy the 15" Retina Macbook pro, then it may be better to make a trip to Singapore to purchase.

The price in Singapore is SGD 3,788 including GST (Apple Store SG) which is roughly INR 160,000. In India this is INR 193,000.

And as a tourist (if you stay for a min 3 days) you can avail GST refund which makes it 7% more cheap. So in total it's 193K vs 150K. A flight ticket is max 40K and you can easily break even..A budget flight can be around ~20K. So choice is your..;)

No iOS6 for iPad 1st Generation. LIfetime of less than 2 years ??

Source: CNET
I am surprised by the decision of Apple to drop iOS6 support for 1st gen iPad or iPAD-1. Some says, this is due to the slower processor, less memory or low hardware spec. Whatever the reason is this is really a strange way Apple behaved.

I've invested $500 around 18 months back (SG got the iPad few months later) and now no more updates from Apple. Hopefully they won't stop the support :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sarpinos Pizza - Singapore Pizza delivery

If you've noticed there is a huge growth in number of delivery services in Singapore lately. I've used pizzahut, Mcdonalds, Brindas & Komalas in the past.

Last week one of my friend introduced me to Sarpinos, and at first I thought this is another imitation pizza product. But we've ordered and the taste is quite good. The pizza is a bit juicier and tastes 'fresh'.

Delivery is punctual (took only 30 min. WoW) and with acceptable price tag ($25 for two 10" pizzas including delivery - This is the one-for-one offer; $38 for another set of special pizza ). Not too bad but wish their online ordering system works after 5 PM :)

Government rejects all proposals for NIMS aka Common Set-top Box

Source: CNA

My immediate reaction. We've killed a revolutionary product successfully.

I know what you're saying. This doesn't work, Singapore market is too small... But please wait.

My thoughts were similar until I realized the power of internet television or streaming video; couple of years ago. I was working very closely with an IP TV operator in APAC and I tried my best to convince that the way to move forward is not 'simulating/copying cable tv' where people subscribe for packages but more in to Youtube model. Which means you've the content and people simply watch what they want (money is deducted ofcourse)

If that's the case, then we'd have a appstore model or youtube model in our Pay TV market. The beauty of it is this model will leverage on the power of IP (or packet transport). From user point of view the advantages were endless. User can watch "Any Program, Any Time on Any Device"

From SP point of view, they can monetize the content much more easily and effectively. However the big roadblock was the Set Top Box. The SP need to have a STB which works like a pure IP Router but at a much lower price point and with features to support future requirements. The models then couldn't support and the Operator even looked ad X-Box as a viable option. In the end the outcome was different.

If Singapore were to invest in a common STB which can works exactly like a universal IP box, this could have resulted in few patents and more importantly "valuable experiences". The world is moving towards IP and if not today, we'll see VoD gaining upperhand and context/consumer based advertisement taking precedence. Imagine the kind of knowledge, experience we've lost. This might have been used in future contracts/entertainment systems.

Anyway, back to the old days. We'll be stuck with multiple set top boxes and remotes in our living rooms till one day we'll through all and opt for Apple TV or Google TV.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

IIFA 2012, Singapore - What a flop show

If you've been to IIFA, Singapore chances are high you left the place early. This is by far the ugliest (yes, ugliest), unorganized and boring show. The organizers never mentioned that there would be any big stars (Salman etc) so the interest levels're low already. The location is quite bad too. In Singapore we don't have the critical mass unlike in Dubai. But thanks to the popularity of our Khans in Malaysia/Indonesia there are plenty of locals. But they don't really understood the jokes, moves so the crowd was silent and the energy levels're low.

On top of it the tickets're priced too high. If the organizers really want to make money they can try on video rights or other stuff. Not on the tickets. If they dont want people joining there then they could do it in a studio.

By the way ticket costs a min $110 and I believe this is for 'audio' only ticket which means you can hear but you can't see. If you want to see some reasonable visual it would make you poorer by $750. This is not the expensive one as there are others @ 1500, 2500.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reliance to invest billions & big bet on Internet in India - What Technology, Commercial Model???? Questions but no answers..

Source: Reliance AGM

This is the basic necessity for any country in information century. Sadly enough  the country, that generating millions of Software Engineers couldn't offer a decent broadband connectivity to its people. (Ok. also water, clean air, land, sanitation, medicines, etc etc. Wait I shall say it can offer corrupted politicians & irresponsible people). Anyway the point here is about Broadband so let me focus there.

Technically speaking the wireless technology that can offer internet throughout India at cheaper rates is WiMAX. However the Ecosystem is dead for a while.

So what's the choice? Is it going to be LTE?. If they choose LTE, then the challenge is the deployment & commercial model. The LTE mobiles/smart phones are not cheap and if Reliance to build a new handphone, cost is still an issue. If it's high there won't be a critical mass. If it's cheap then it'd impact the experience. Those who used a < $ 200 touch screen smart phone knows what I am saying.

Still Internet is required at homes on Computers & Laptops. So are they going to use LTE for Fixed Internet?. Commercially this doesn't make sense. Today Mobile Operators are doing Offloading from LTE to remain profitable. So how RIL can use LTE for fixed internet ?

Even if they decided to offer as a Fixed Internet, then how they are going to connect it to Desktops/Laptops? Mi-Fi device? But this is going to be extra cost. So RIL can work with Huawei or they can even build their own. Still the cost is not going to be cheap and Mi-Fi with 24x7 (with 10-20 power outages a day) might end up in customer support centers in few months time.

Or a weird thought. Is it going to be based on Wi-Fi at City levels in a mesh interconnected with MPLS backbone? No idea..

Well,certainly I don't have any answers but will try to find out from my contacts in the industry. Will update this post then.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Singapore Mobile operators go for Tiered pricing. Both SingTel & StarHub slashes data volume by greater than 90%

Source: CNA

Good news to Telco's & Employees/Engineers working there. But bad news to end users.

Yesterday SingTel announced the new plans for LTE and at the same time announced that they would be reducing the 12 GB limit to 2GB. Within minutes StarHub followed suite and in a more aggressive manner they slashed to 1GB.

This means all you can do with the mobile price plan on SH is watching around 8 hours of Youtube (My observation here) in a month or 40 min / work day of youtube.

No more downloads/videos/streaming on mobile. Ok, no more complaining and as a consumer, now I want few things from SingTel/StarHub.

1. Reduce the prices 

Based on SingTel price plans, a basic plan with 100 min voice min is priced at $25.68/month
at the same time based on current plans the 12GB data with 100 min is priced at $39.90/month
So the current charges are estimated as ~ $14/month for 12 GB.

Now I don't expect them to charge based on the same but based on SingTel pricing itself they intend to charge $5.35/GB. If I apply the same principle, then we shouldn't be paying $14 but $10.70. But I am not optimistic as the market is kind of fixed in Singapore and without real competition all the operators simply price in the same ranges.

2. Improve Coverage, Speeds

I'm sure majority of the people have noticed that lately the mobile coverage/speed in Singapore sucks. I travel quite frequently in the region so I carry the local SIM cards. To my surprise even the developing nations (India, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia) offers much better voice clarity & data speed compared to Singapore. In Australia Optus offers $2 / day package where you can enjoy unlimited voice/data/sms by simply paying $2 a day (info here).

By the way, recently Google study made it official that Singapore offers one of the slowest mobile speeds among developed nations. Now Operators can't give an excuse that they can't go on expanding spree forever because users are using data without paying for.

3. Service

Not really related to tiered pricing or buffet pricing but in general I believe this is high time that Operators need to improve on service levels and treat customers as 'humans'. When we try to reach out to technical support it is common to wait a min of 20-30 min in Q listening to a boring music. The same operator can reach us any time and blast SMS advertisements at middle of night.

IDA as regulator should come in here and stipulate certain SLA/SLG. Not the typical 'paper' SLA but real experience.

In summary I don't mind paying if I am getting the quality, reliability & service.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

New Telecom Policy (NTP) - India Inc 2012

I've written about NTP some time back here

Now let me summarize the key points of the minister announcement and the release.

  1. m-governance policy has been drafted to provide services via mobile phone. Basic banking services can be accessed via the mobile phone. Individual intimation of all kinds of public and private services like school/college admission/ assignments, pension payment, utility bill payments, first level health services, cash withdrawals/deposits will become the norm. A single number could be called for all government services across all three tiers, 24/7. 
  2. Aadhar will enable IDs to be authenticated online or via the mobile phone. 
  3. A National Broadband Plan has been initiated that aims to provide Broadband Connectivity across the length and breadth of the country by 2014 through a combination of wireless and OFC/ wireline
  4. Telecom service providers will be able to support IPv6 services
  5. A concerted effort to boost manufacturing activity is now exigent and Government to Create corpus to promote indigenous R&D, IPR creation, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, commercializing and deployment of state-of-the-art telecom products and services
  6. One Nation - One License
  7. One Nation - Full Mobile Number Portability & One Nation -Free Roaming.
  8. Make available additional 300 MHz spectrum for IMT services by the year 2017 and another 200 MHz by 2020
  9. Transition to new Internet Protocol (IPv 6) in the country in a phased and time bound manner by 2020
  10. To revise the  existing broadband download speed of 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps and subsequently to 2 Mbps  by 2015 and higher speeds of atleast 100 Mbps thereafter
As usual, the ambitions are good and targets are high. But the billion dollar question is How, When & Who.
Again, as usual there is no mention and no details provided. Details will be shared in due course.

This is the problem with Indian policy makers and the objectives are good, planning is good and intentions are 'holy' (pun unintended) but what seriously lacks is the "Execution Plan". This is where nations like Singapore, Korea etc excels and move fast.

Out of the 10 key points I've summarized I believe the biggest change agent is point no.5. Rest are supported statements and offering speeds of greater than 100 Mbps (even if it's in 2020 or 2050) is still a dream which I don't think I can see it in my life time in India. 

We seriously lack respectable Hardware market and this is where we need to move our resources and R&D effort. A billion+ people and more than 50% of code in any software is generated by Indians but the platform that runs the code is not manufactured in India. This is where we can overcome our dependency on services sector too.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

+60301 Phone Number.. Finally found it's from the VoIP software pFingo, Starhub.

Recently my phone rings at quite odd times and when I look at the incoming number, it's a bit weird too. The number is +60301.
I picked up few calls and end up disconnecting as its from some marketing folks from China speaking in mandarin. So I decided not to pick this call anymore.

But lately I started receiving complaints from a overseas friend that I am not accepting calls. After couple of minutes I realized the number is from pFingo. It's a VoIP service from Starhub, a singapore telco.

The good thing is you can make calls to Singapore phone numbers at dirt cheap rates (1c) and if you are on a monthly pack it's basically free. So understand that many SME's, people on travel tend to use this service and so does the marketing folks from China/HK/Other countries(who wish to reach Singapore).

I am not sure whether is there a solution but personally I won't change my selective call picking pattern which is to pick up a call if I know the caller (stored in address book) or it's a mobile number. This is the main reason I opted for Skype Out & Google Voice which gives me Caller ID.

With Skype you can simply set up your mobile number as the ID number. Instructions are here. & Google Voice is simple. You'll get a US number and people will see that number.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Indian Food Delivery in Singapore

The title says it all.

1. Brindas 24 hour
This is my first preference due to their service quality.

Food - *** (3/5). Not too great and standard items such as naan, chicken curry are acceptable quality.
Value - **** (4/5). Value for money
Service - **** (4/5). I'm happy with their service.

2. Anjappar

Food - ***.(3.5/5). Tastes the same as in Anjappar.
Value - ** (2/5). Its "CHEATING". They don't show the prices with GST (Against LAW) & Some how the bill prices doesn't match with online menu prices due to 'recent price revisions'.
Service - * (1/5). This is the sad part. Food is better than Brindas but service sucks.I've the food delivered with 'leakages'.

3. Komalas

I don't think I've to add any stuff here. :)
Food - **** (4/5)
Value - *** (3/5)
Service - ** (2/5). Delays. delays delays.. Other than that it's quite good.

I've tried other options like Hungrydelivery, CurryXpress in the past but stopped due to the 'price'. Most importantly the hefty delivery charges & high minimum order.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heimdall package for Samsung Galaxy Anycall S [SHW-m110s] - Korean handset firmware/android upgrade

Ok guys. If you are one of those folks who purchased a Korean Anycall due to any reason and stuck with its old Android version then this post is for you.

First refer to this post from XDA

If your phone is not detected by ODIN or if you 'bricked' your phone then Heimdall is for you. You can find more info from XDA post here about Heimdall. A word of caution,


M110S is not i9000 and if you try then you've a 'semi bricked' phone. You'll end up with a phone that doesnt start or recognize the SIM card.

To recover you can use this package for M110S. I've installed on my Anycall a week ago and it's working fine. Here goes the mediafire links.

Download both files and merge with HJSPLIT.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Airtel prepaid validity - An intriguing question

More than 90% of Indians use Prepaid mobile phones. So it is very common for people to simply purchase a SIM card with INR 100 (~ $ 2) and throw it off after a week. (By the way on a separate note these kinda experiences and unmatching financials shows why I don't believe the 100 mil subscriber numbers by Bharti, RIL etc)

The problem I am having is keeping a number permanently (or atleast for few years) so my banking systems, train reservation systems & other online systems doesn't have to be updated every few months. I've tried all the options other than subscribing to a post paid (which is not very cheap or 'doesnt offer value to me')

  1. Airtel Customer care told me that the "sim" validity is typically 35 or 40 years (?) and you can check with *123# USSD code. However the 'main' account has a validity period of 2 months so if you don't use or make any calls within the 2 months your number with remaining balance is gone
  2. Online forums says one year validity; 45 days validity; 
  3. The salesman at Airtel store told me that it's 90 days. So every 3 months I've to recharge with minimum RC card 
My experiences're quite diff. 

  1. I've a SIM card with "0" balance which is not dead even it's 2 years old.
  2. I've a new SIM card with 300 balance (supposed to be) but dead within 1 month
  3. I've a 3G data card which is dead within one week after I utilized the complete data.

Conclusion: Anything can happen in India. So go for a post-paid if you want to avoid the hassle. If not follow the crowd. Don't expect Airtel (or other telecom) to offer 'service'. It sucks and they charge per minute basis :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oops SingTel did it again.. MIO TV glitches during EPL season finale

Source: CNA

SingTel did it again with its MIO TV. I'm sure the exec, engineers will kill who ever with the name Murphy.

During the most critical moment the system failed again. As usual, SingTel issued a statement that

This was due to an unprecedented number of viewers tuning in for the season finale. 

So now, we've

  • Expensive HDB's/Condo because 'unprecedented number of people migrated to Singapore'
  • Trains failing because of 'more than anticipated people riding public transport'
  • Slow/poor mobile networks because people are using mobiles
  • TV/Cable systems failing because people are watching programs.
The root cause is clear. It's the people
We should schedule it in a way, like in a HDB block, all the even number units should watch first half. Odd number units should watch for the remaining half. Then they can share between themselves.

Remember, you shouldn't sms or call each other. It could congest the mobile network.

Monday, May 14, 2012

User Privacy - iToday app from Singapore

I've joined the bandwagon on Android recently and while trying to download few apps I realized some strange thing in "permissions".
Below is a screen shot of iToday - the app from Todayonline, a popular newspaper/tabloid in Singapore. 

I've put the text in the rectangle box. Basically the app & today wants to read the user phone number, serial number of the phone & whether a call is active, the number of call that is connected & the like

Not sure what is included in "& the like" but even without that it is very disturbing to see that they Today wants to know the phone number & call history/logs.

Why a newspaper wants to know the mobile phone number & call status? All they need is the internet access and nothing else. I can only conclude one thing which is "advertisements" or "selling the phone numbers".

I am not very comfortable with sharing my phone number without knowing how this would end up. So opted for "SG News" which simply needs "internet access".

This shows again the level of awareness & respect is given to "privacy" in singapore.