Thursday, February 28, 2013

India Budget 2013 - Making fun on international travellers with antiquated laws on Gold

You may have seen my views on the dated laws of India here. So Finance minister became sympathetic(?) and generously increased the duty free gold limit.

So now a male passenger can carry Gold worth INR 50,000 or INR 100,000 if it's female passenger. So India allows people(A country with extremely Gold obsession) to travel with 15 Grams or 30 Grams of Gold.

The problem with Indian laws is it still thinks as if we are in 1940's or 50's. It's more like a pseudo socialist policies that's killing the economy. The babu's think that by creating this kind of laws, they are benefiting the poor. Reality is this is where the problems happening with middle class and the masses are getting frustrated. Gov itself gives many means to make money via corruption.

Would be interesting to see how it'll end up when the Minister travels with his family.

Image Source: The Hindu

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Income Receipts (Budget) - Singapore vs India

Source: & India

Here is a small chart showing the receipts breakdown. I've used 2012 numbers (may be will update with 2013 after Indian budget) but the % terms gives us why Singapore is doing a great job.

It is about the coverage of the tax umbrella and not to depend on borrowings.

Singapore is considered as a "low tax nation" and the taxation is pretty low compared to India. Be it the individual income tax (max 20% vs 30+%; but reality is around 10% vs 30%); Services tax (7% vs 15%); Corporate tax. Whatever we say India is way higher compared to Singapore in terms of tax rates.

Then why the revenues are low compared to Singapore? Answer lies in the coverage. :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Indian barber in Singapore

Not very sure whether it is ever felt to look for an Indian barber but today a friend of mine asked me for one. My friend is working for Shell and visiting from Nigeria. He really wanted to travel to Malaysia if he can't find one in Singapore.

So we started searching Internet but I kind of told him that the best place would be to just go to Serangoon Road / Little India to find out. We first did a google search to find but surprisingly we couldn't get with the search "Indian barbers" in Google Maps or Google search. It showed two places

  • Corporation Road, Jurong
  • Circuit Road, Macpherson

Another last minute search with " Barber in Serangoon Road"  in Google Maps showed couple. So we decided to go there. Weird enough, we couldn't find the saloon at the location. After a couple of queries around we found the location

Don't expect a great saloon with all the nice things around. It does the job and the best part is the nice head massage we got. @ $10 this is great to have the experience and now I know why my friends always miss it in Singapore. I see the Malay barbers around in the corner but the Indian barbers are quite rare.

If you are going there worth a try ;)

Friday, February 22, 2013

High Risk Apps - Verizon Wireless publishes high risk Android apps

Source: Verizon

Occasionally we learn about apps in the Google Play™ Store that might have serious negative effects on your device. Examples of these effects could be:
  • Loss of functionality (e.g., loss of data connection)
  • Unexpected high data usage
  • Battery draining 2 or 3 times faster than normal
  • Security or privacy exposure
This page lists apps that may be especially risky for you to use at this time. We work regularly with app developers to help them fix problems with their apps, and apps are removed from this list as soon as the issues are fixed.
One App I used and I concur with VZW finding is "Hill Climb Racing". With Mydatamanager, I found that it used close to 100MB in an hour. Not very sure why but it's a battery killer & bw hungry. Ofcourse addictive too ;)

It's certainly an interesting article from VZW and certainly useful for the end user. Wish SingTel can do something similar in local market. Or may be with iPhone too.

Networx - Excellent traffic monitoring utility

I know gone were the days when you need to ensure that your traffic volume is below the specific level. With the Unlimited plans, we no longer bother but seriously a good tool to watch out your consumption is always great and fun to have.

On the other hand there are still many developing countries (in virtual world or e-global standards) like USA (AT&T,  Verizon), Australia (Telstra, Optus) or many other European nations & Developing world (India national operator still offers 1GB limit plans /Month / $15)

So there is still a requirement to watch out for many of folks. I recall using a software called DU Meter long ago but stopped when it's became a paid software. Also the resource consumption went crazy on XP.

I came across Networx when one of my Director who is based in one of those developing countries (Australia) requested help. Basically he wanted to watch how much GB he is consuming across his home. Which means whether it's the 2x Desktops or Laptops or iPad or iPhone.

I simply told him to use SNMP to monitor the router port but end up to be the RG can't be monitored. Thanks IDA once again :) for making our lives much easier..

So the solution is to use Networx across the PC devices in a Sync mode. For Mobile devices use Mydatamanager then manually add for time being. I still prefer to use SNMP at the GW so told him to put another WiFi GW or a small SW to use..

I wish for a iPhone networx client but doubt it will happen any time soon. If there is that would make things much easier for families..

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

High Speed Rail between Singapore - Kuala Lumpur


"The Prime Ministers agreed to build a High Speed Rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This is a strategic development in bilateral relations that will dramatically improve the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore. It will usher in a new era of strong growth, prosperity, and opportunities for both countries. It will facilitate seamless travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and bring the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore closer together. Ultimately, this project will give both countries greater stakes in each other’s prosperity and success. The Leaders tasked the JMC to look into the details and modalities of the High Speed Rail link."

This is really a great news for Singapore - Malaysia. And this is exactly what is needed in the region. A small initiative before we can connect the ASEAN with high speed rail. Be it for people or goods.

Ofcourse, in the short term this is not going to be a great news for Airline operators. Especially Malaysian Airlines; But the world is changing and their once high profits're eroded by budget carriers. So sooner or later they need to diversity instead of milking the captive customers.

Will be looking forward to travel in the next 7 or so years to KL without having to start 3 hours early from home. Wish India and other countries can learn some thing from this. Instead of spending billions on flights/airports a high speed rail is what needed for the vast country.

Connectivity, Submarine Cables -

Here is an excellent zoomable map showing the submarine cable systems and lit capacity.

If you notice at the bottom, there is a significant increase in lit capacity within Asia (in general worldwide). The region around Taiwan/HongKong looks like bee hoon ;).
When it comes to India, the capacity still seems pretty much limited. The 5.12 Tbps Tata Indicom to Singapore; 8.4 Tbps i2i and SEM-ME-WE group seems carrying majority of bits n bytes. The new cable system BRICS ( supposed to add another 15 Tbps in 2015.

Connectivity certainly shows the economic activity and this has been taken as an indicator in many occasions.
Below is a map which shows the connectivity-GDP. A bit old though still valid based on today's situation.

My point

Monday, February 18, 2013

Short Term benefits vs Long Term improvements

Source: CNA

It was an election promise in Thailand and it's a roaring success for the party. Basically it's a USD 3,000 subsidy for first time car owners in Thailand.

Imagine what would majority % Singaporeans think immed. Our Gov sucks. Why can't we increase the tax on foreigners buying cars and give the discount to us. This leaders are bad, they doesn't want us to get basic needs etc etc..

But this is what makes our leaders different to the rest. This is exactly what made Singapore to have such a vibrant and great economy and place to stay. This is why people look at us with such envious looks. This is why majority of world intend to learn from us.

Look at what Thailand did. The subsidy costs are approx USD 3 billions. Ofcourse leaders are claiming indirect benefits such as taxes collected, new job creation, spur the automobile industry. But what about the traffic situation in Bangkok? How many productive hours lost due to congestion? How much money in Tourism receipts gone?

How many accidents? Health care costs?. I'm sure this would easily outweigh any monetary gains due to the scheme. We can easily afford 3 billion. It's probably 1-1.5% of our reserves (2013 Jan - 258 Billions). But if it's our leaders, they would have upgrade the BTS or build new public transport services.

The Bangkok MRT costed USD 2.75 Billion in 2004. Given the current inflation BKK could expand with double the amount. The benefits are certainly higher compared to 1 million new cards on already congested roads.

Ofcourse, giving subsidies is a simple and easy task compared to building public transportation. And the latter doesn't really give 'votes'. Sadly this seems to be the direction Singapore people are going. i.e. Vie for short term benefits without understanding the world and dynamics.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Idiocracy Movie - Guess the movie predicted the evolution. Atleast that's what I can feel

Wikipedia link

As shown in the movie, I don't think it needed 500 years but less than 5 years.

Why so much hatred towards people? Why people simply focus on rewards, entitlements but conveniently forget responsibilities?
Be it our friends in SG who doesn't want to see foreign workers here but want all the cheap labor; invest in all those third world countries so we can get dividends back.

Or the americans, or russians, Indians, Chinese. Whoever it is the attitude seams the same to me. Why can't we simply live and let live? Why ???

Today, I've seen one of my old friend who is working with with an american company, covering the region as sales head (e.g. India, Indon, Philippines etc). He was sharing his views on the immigration and for the simplicity sake, I can summarize his view. Don't give PR to any of them; Don't letem buy property here. Must rent from Singaporeans; Tax them higher compared to locals; No public schools to their children; Let them go to private hospitals. The point is at an individual level what would happen if the same thing happens to him.

Imagine, the Indonesians or Philippines firms reply with the same? If the US based company says the same, i.e. less pay compared to an american; less annual leaves; more working hours etc. What would be his reaction? I've no idea thanks to the established policies from HR/Companies. But what it would be to get in to that situation?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Power of Crowd, Social Networking, Collaboration - For a good cause

The CNY is a period enjoyed with all good stuff. Many folks doesn't want to hear the number '4' during these days.
However one family wasn't as blessed as the rest for couple of days. Their Child went missing on 09th Feb. Singapore is such an efficient country, things can be pretty fast and the info went up in hours. Singapore police force started efforts and also asked public to help. Then went in to Social Network. Yes, Singapore police does use Facebook ;)

The boy relatives started a website to do "COORDINATED SEARCH". This is where things get to start a real case of how powerful the concept can be. They started to use technology( i.e. google maps; social nw.) and result.

A happy & joyful Family on 10th Feb.

The Blog they started was still up here.

Google Maps for sharing the search effort. Google Maps

A screen shot of the Google Maps below.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Worldwide cost of living index 2013 - Singapore at 6th place

Source: EIU

Ok. I do agree Singapore is an expensive place to stay. But this report from EIU, simply filled with many flaws and the views are totally from a 'westerner'. There are plenty of reasons to say that Singapore won't end up in top 10 if it is normalized with local or asian flavour.

At the same time, I don't agree at all that South Asia is the cheapest place. As mentioned by the EIU themselves in the report,

Although India is something of a tiger economy tipped for future growth, much of this is driven by 
its large population and the untapped potential within the economy. Income inequality means that 
household spending levels are low on a per capita basis, which has kept prices down, especially by Western 

The Worldwide Cost of Living is a bi-annual (twice yearly) Economist Intelligence Unit survey that 
compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services. These include food, drink, 
clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private 
schools, domestic help and recreational costs.

See, this is where the problem is. So don't pack your bags to India, as many of the returning Indians end up getting a huge shock. At times, they may find cities in India are more expensive than living in US or AU.

Ok. Let's look at the details for a couple of items.

  • Bread - EIU shows that Bread costs USD 3.25.
I choose NTUC prices as this is the largest super market where majority of people choose to do their shopping. So based on NTUC Online price it varies between SGD 1.91 to SGD 2.30 / KG.

From Coldstorage it's between SGD 3.83 (Gardenia White) - SGD 8.40 (Fruit & Nut loaf). So in USD terms the prices are no where near US 3.25 unless you take one that costs $ 10+.

  • Cigarettes & Table wine. 
I don't think this is a good way to compare. I completely avoid this based on our life style and this is not even something done by everyone.

The problem is when you try to look at a specific view, things look differently. If I try to buy a napa valley wine in Singapore, it'd be pretty expensive but the question is how many people drink in this hot sultry whether as a necessity item?

As many of our leaders say, the devil is in the details. Unless people see the full picture and get in to the details, there is no way the surveys can give a clear picture.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Testing with Windows Live Writer

After trying HTML (Which I admit still am a novice) for some time, I started searching for a tool and found out Live Writer. So this is my first test post with this. I really need a tool where I can do indent; insert images; tables (this is the most important one); Numbered lists etc.

First test. Numbered lists.

  1. Item 1
    1. Item 1.1
  2. Item 2
  3. Item 3
    1. Item 3.1
    2. Item 3.2

Second with Table

Title -1 Title-2
Content goes here Content goes here

Image insertion
That’s it. Looks good Smile Best of it I can do offline work.

PHB'arian Definitions - Skill set required to be in Singapore ;)

If you guys don't know what is PHB, you are not a qualified Engineer. Anyway below are some good lines of examples. What will happen if a nerd-to-be is in charge of writing stuff. No wonder this is owned by Government :)

• Sound technical knowledge of network architecture and object-oriented analysis and design

An Engineer (Network Planning/Design) should have a good understanding of network operating systems such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) technologies and network management systems such as HP Openview, IBM Tivoli etc. The engineer should be familiar with network, security, wired and wireless LAN and routing technologies solutions from CISCO, Alcatel etc. 
Project Managers should also possess:
• Ability to lead by example and a hands-on approach to problem solving 

The IT Manager should possess the following:

• Ability to perceive and understand the client (internal) requirements
• Ability to accept more responsibilities as the job scope increases to keep pace with the growth in the business 

Premium or Private Bus Services to Changi Business Park

Another week @ CBP and few more complaints from my colleagues who end up late due to this morning rain.

I did some complaining couple of weeks back on the lack of public transport facilities to CBP here, and just realized that even the LTA website Publictransport doesn't show all the premium bus services to CBP. So I started watching around me and given my little work load (thanks to the early CNY holiday mood) I end up with below table.

Most of these buses end up @ the same place at CBP. Also I didn't updated the return trip but they are available in the evening around 5.30 ++++. If you are one of those lucky guys / girls staying around Sengkang you can find plenty of buses till 9. 

Also most of the buses accept Flashpay cards or the new EZlink cards. By the way in my observation the old SMRT Creditcard (EZ-Link) failed to work. So better keep some cash :).

Try to take the earliest bus (you need to wake up few min earlier) as these buses tend to be crowd free. The last buses or peak period buses are pretty busy and often I see people standing (??) which is not allowed as per LTA. But seems people prefer to stand for 30-45 min rather than getting squeezed for hours in MRT.

Also take note of morning traffic jams along TPE (Now a days it seems a MUST between Jalan Kayu to Pasir Ris). So give some buffer if you've options. 

On top of these services, there are plenty of small buses or vans carrying 10-15 people. May be these are adhoc services or kind of carpool or vanpool services.

I'l update as and when the latest info is available or if I see some new services.

Happy traveling :)

Operator NameBus NoTimeStartingEndingInterim StopsPriceComments$- No bus number now. Will update if there is any
N.A8:30SembawangCBPYishun, Khatib$-
N.A8:30Pasir RisCBPSimei$-
N.A8:15BraddelCBPToa Payoh$-, Khatib$3.50
7407:40SembawangCBPYishun, Khatib$3.50
7407:50SembawangCBPYishun, Khatib$3.50
7417:30Yio Chu KangCBPAng Mo Kio$3.00
7417:50Yio Chu KangCBPAng Mo Kio$3.00
7418:00Yio Chu KangCBPAng Mo Kio$3.00
7427:25Serangoon NorthCBPHougang, Sengkang, Punggol$3.00
7427:40Serangoon NorthCBPHougang, Sengkang, Punggol$3.00
7427:55Serangoon NorthCBPHougang, Sengkang, Punggol$3.00
7429:00SengkangCBPHougang, Sengkang, Punggol$3.00
5939:50PunggolCBP$3.00$- No bus number now. Will update if there is any
N.A8:30WoodlandsCBPAdmiralty, Sembawang, Yishun, Khatib$-
N.A8:15Jurong EastCBPBt Batok, Bt Gombak$-
N.A7:10Chao Chu KangCBPGiant Tampines$-
N.A9:00Pasir RisCBP$-