Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Smart (?) way to cover up the faulty network - SingTel to offer free minutes during festive period (CNY)

Source: SingTel

I am one of those frustrated mobile users in Singapore. Things were not so bad few years ago and I used to show my brand new iPhone which can be used to 'make calls' to my American friends. Then slowly the smart phone became a show device which can be used to listen to music, messaging and snapping pictures.

That's it. Atleast for the last two years majority of Singaporean mobile phone users experienced dropped calls, coverage issues, terrible voice quality, cross talk and what not.

Call me cynical, but the above offer from SingTel doesn't make me happy. With such crappy coverage and experience who wants to use mobile phone unless if there is no option. For me, the good old Skype does a great job.

SingTel, you can't throw things under carpet by giving free minutes. You'll still get complaints from people that the quality sucks these days.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Revolving Credit - Singapore. Staggering 5 Billion or 5,000 per average card holder

OCBC introduced some improvements to it's customers. Whether you are a savings bank customer or checking customer you might have seen it in their Internet banking.

First and foremost, I should give the credit to OCBC management team to think about user friendliness and to improve their IT systems. I can see their efforts and I should comment their engineers and managers. Kudos OCBC.

I can say this is the best interface among the singapore banks

Now, the interesting item is "where do I stand" thingy. So here goes couple of screenshots I copied from OCBC. They are showing based on different profiles what is the average debt on Credit cards or overdraft. So it's really shocking to see the debt of SGD 5,000+ average.

Then I did a search and found out from a news article in ASIAONE, that the average debt is SGD 5,034 in 2012. Total roll over is almost SGD 5 Billion.

On 5000 rollover, a person end up paying 2% interest charge per month which is equal to SGD 100/month. No wonder banks are such profitable entities. I won't blame them but the people who spend money unnecessarily should be responsible for their actions. There are cases where there is a real need and as a last option people may have used credit but in general, don't use rollover credit. It's worse than slavery. Just avoid it and reach out the Gov. I'm sure our gov can help people who are in real need. Go for it or talk to friends, relatives.

FDI - Investment in to India compared with Singapore, Hongkong

Source: World Bank

Here is a screenshot from worldbank. It shows the FDI data based on 2011. I guess it'd take a while to compile the statistics for 2012. When I looked at 2011, that info is sufficient enough to think about the state of Indian system.
India is such an enormous country with wonderful talents, rich with heritage and culture; Highly skilled Indians are driving the internet world and you can see them almost in every technology company.
But what is wrong with India within?

Few key concerns. I won't blame the politicians but blame the people. First and foremost people started to accept that this is the 'norm' be it the simple things like stopping at red signal or billion $ corruption scandals.

It really worries me and no wonder not only the people but the firms loosing confidence in the system. God bless India.

Premium bus services from Private Operators( Mybus etc) - Problem with display, stops.

It is really puzzling me to see why can't premium bus service operation details printed at bus stops. For example, I see SBS Transit, SMRT numbers (e.g. 541, 548, 549) been published at all bus stops and even online tools like gothere.sg or google maps show the numbers.
But when we see premium buses (LTA Website with routes), I don't seem in the display or online tools.

Places like Changi Business Park (CBP) which I say are mainly using these premium buses are not doing their part too.If you enter CBP, there is no proper bus stop or display for info. It is just based on verbal or look in to LTA site to explore yourself. The updates in LTA site seems not very accurate. Atleast I can say one example where 741 runs two services in the morning in reality while the website shows as one.

Is it the problem with premium operators who cannot commit to long term or is it simply we vs them? If it is the latter i'd be very worried. As the end user I'd want to see a seamless if not near seamless public transport connectivity. Hopefully LTA would improve the situation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

HP ProLiant Micro Server (N40L) in Singapore

Specs & Info here

Finally I've got my own home server from USA. I've upgraded the box with some extra memory, ATI and 2x2TB HDD.

I am using this box for only a week or so, but I can see how worthwhile to spend my money on this box. At 500+ this is not a cheap box but certainly a Value-for-money home server.

I still wonder, why HP is not selling this in Singapore. I've seen this in HWZ forums, and at the homes of many of my friends. There could be some silly/stupid reason why HP decided not to make some money from the local + regional market.

SVCC or Sitamma Vakitlo Sirimalle chettu

 I recall reading some lines in Yandamuri. Real happyness is like godavari, slow but steady, calm and forever. Gratification due to some other material reasons are like a brook or creek, Like a surge but goes to zero pretty fast.

Some of my friends used to compare this with Ilayaraja mustic vs A.R.Rahman music. Many of the Ilayaraja songs are alive today across generations. But those instant successes from A.R were forgotten (though A.R gave wonderful melodies).

The movie, SVCC is quite similar to the above if we compare this with Dookudu or Pokiri. It is going to be an evergreen movie for Sankranti. There are no sumo blasts, or talks about vamsam (lineage) or skin show or songs shot in expensive sets or foreign locations, and no routing comedy.

It is a simple, middle class drama which we all have experienced at some part of our life. Be it as a son or brother or dad or wife, sister, mom.

Appreciation must go to the entire team but especially to the Director who made this happened. Great job.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

SingTel Website down - or is it my computer problems??

Just an hour ago, SingTel website was dead and it simply showed an error message. It even showed some junk page filled with ads for a couple of seconds. Don't think it is an outage. At least not at this hour (~11.30AM)

Or it could be my laptop having some issues. Not very sure but within 5 min the website was back and it is working fine. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

CITI Bank, Singapore - A Global bank that can't get technology right

If you guys ever used CITI bank internet in Singapore, you'd agree with me. Their internet banking be it for Savings or Credit Card sucks big time.
I've a minor problem and I tried to reach them via "contact us". That's where my pain started. So after typing all the content it simply displays a weird and painfully sarcastic message saying that there is a "invalid character " in the message (??) and moves to a different page.

The error message is classic too.

Sorry. One of the characters you entered is not allowed by the system for security reasons. For your protection, your request has been stopped.

It says that "your protection". It's a smart way of saying, CITI IT system is centuries old and no one knows how to make it work. So the system crashed or the database can't understand what to do. So we'll kick you out but to make it look good, we'll put a sweet message.

So after that if you try again by thinking may be the database can't handle characters like "" or ' or ; or () you are wrong. I've removed all the special characters but the error remains the same. By the way did I say that right after the error message it'll kick you out. So you need to login again on the slowest ever banking system in Singapore to face the same issue

Is it a smart way to discourage people from reaching CITI Bank? or simply the IT department stopped believing in upgrading?

In any case the experience made me so frustrated that it became the final straw. Seems like Stan Chart or home grown OCBC are much better in terms of support / service.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Singapore - Summer is here. Today @ 39C real feel..

Source: Accuweather

Some how today felt like May. It's early Jan but sunset @ 1930, hot noons, bright evenings and warm nights doesn't feel like in Jan. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hyderabad Airport - Horrendous prices, delayed flights, arrogant duty officers

This is my second experience @ Hyderabad airport. The airport is great and (unlike other airports/facilities in India) maintained pretty well. Ofcourse they are charging for that so I can't praise them for doing their duty.

What pissed me off is the "prices" inside the airport and around the airport. Be it the taxi ride to/from airport where taxi companies charge premium prices compared to other airports. i.e. Fasttrack charges 12/km but in Hyd 15/km; Meru charges 18 which is the same as in Delhi.

Then the parking charges. If you are driving then the rates are INR 50/first 30 min. (40 for addl hour); Changi charges similar prices but per min (0.04c/min or SGD 2.4/Hour). If compared with purchasing power parity the prices in HYD are much higher than in Singapore. If I look at BKK or KLIA then HYD prices can't be compared :)

Anyway, once you are in the place is clean and offers pretty good feel. But if you are hungry or want to grab a drink then you'll realize how expensive Indian airports are.  Inside the airport, in Domestic area there are couple of food places where the prices are so high, it can't justify the food they offer (though tasty).

Idly Factory, a nice stall with great food charges INR 75++ for their Idly plate.
Taste of India, another stall next to Idly Factory but charges INR 55 for a cuppa or INR 85 for a Dosa; or INR 280 for a Biryani. Well, it's definitely not local food but more of a fusion.

Compared to that, International terminus/area offers good/better food. I couldn't recall the name but there is a small stall near the departures gates. This I'd say it more 'local'.

Overall I'd see a great potential for a "food court" with multiple options here. Given the expansion plans, this would be a great idea from GMR too.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ice Age - Mumbai with a hilly, icy background

Source: Air India magazine December 2012

Well, I had a good laugh. It happens only in India..

Wrong charges to some SingTel subscribers - Charges for 3rd party provider services

Source: CNA

This is not the first time we see similar complaints and certainly not a new answer from SingTel (or likes). The standard reply is to "offer discount" or claim that "

Under IDA guidelines, content providers like TMG Asia Pte Ltd required to state upfront the charges for transactions. Customer have the option to opt-in or opt-out."

What Service Providers forgot(?) to mention is that they themselves are taking profit from these not so clear transactions.

If service providers were to really help subscribers, they should stop charging customers on behalf of third party content providers. End customers see "SingTel or Starhub or M1" charging them illegally and start to complain. If it is a real requirement from Customers, and they are interested to "subscribe" to these third party services they can (and will) always subscribe directly.

Service providers on the other hand, can maintain a "list of services" in their portal and charge 'specific amount' from the third party providers. In this way, Service Providers doesn't have to loose money when there is a conflict while still getting some revenue in a much fairer way.

If not, the unhappiness will continue as long as Service Providers tend to charge customers without a clear and intended consent from customers.