Monday, September 30, 2013

India property show in Singapore - More golden than gold..

"Golden than Gold" - an asset class which depreciated 21% YTD.. that summarizes what Indian real estate returns for many folks in foreign currency in the last 5 years.

Then Indian rupee - Probably the worst performing currency in the world this year. What would you have when you combined the "Currency risks" with sky high property prices of India, 10-12% interest rates on mortgages, 1-1.5% yield,

Ok, now the scary stuff: Government changing laws, and potentially charging retroactive taxes. Most of the Indian house holds are paying 3-5 years old electricity charges, because there was a mistake in calculation 3-5 years ago.
Also "no guarantee" that the asset will be on your name after an year;

Finally, limited legal ways to bring back money to Singapore or overseas. If you can, then extremely high taxes (30% tax on rental income/interest income on NRO accounts), or 10% spread Forex rates through banks.

My conclusion: Invest in Singapore or some other 'safe' markets. If you can take risk for higher returns, then invest in US. or go Forex markets.

Real estate in India - Bleeding ground for locals. So as a foreigner what can you expect..

Friday, September 27, 2013

M1 200 Mbps Fibre home broadband speeds - measured by Samknows

WoW.. that's all I can say. NGN brought a great change to the market. I still remember the "student plan" in early part of 2000 which used to give 35 hours free Dial-Up for $20. Or the 256Kbps unlimited DSL for $55.

Now I am using a 200Mbps fiber connection and it comes with a 'unlimited' calls to singapore phones too. Oh yeah, a Wi-Fi router thrown for free as well. All this for $39 per month. It's slightly expensive compared to my original $31 plan for 50Mbps but I see it's a good bargain. The Wireless router costs atleast 50 in market and if I take it over 24 months contract period, it's already 2/month. So effectively I am paying ~$37.

I've a throughput measurement device at home, thanks to IDA/Samknows and below is the screenshots taken. As you can see the speeds to local content hits almost 200Mbps. Not only the automated tests, but when I try to download from microsoft or Google documents, I can hit 170-180Mbps which is more than sufficient.

So some tips.

  • First and foremost, make sure there are no Fast Ethernet equipment that limits your throughput to 100Mbps theoretical max. Every thing must be a min Gigabit Ethernet or GigE that can run at 1000Mbps.
  • Check your Router, Computer NIC card etc
  • Most important / often missed. Physical cables. If your LAN cable is cat-5 then that's another bottle neck. Min Cat5e or Cat6 is needed
  • No Wi-Fi. My Wi-Fi gives me a max of 120Mbps but again that's not consistent. I've attached a Wi-Fi heatmap of my home and you can understand why I can't hit more than that ;)
So that's all. I don't plug in my notebook all the times to a physical cable but this is good enough speed for me on Wi-Fi. 

Only grouse with M1 is the billing system. Over the 26 months of relation, I had more than 5 billing issues. It's minor ($2 or 1) but it takes away the confidence. That's all folks..

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Youtube background play in iphone - IOS 7

Back in IOS4 or 5 days, this is an interesting use for youtube. i.e. let youtube run in the background while keeping the phone in your pocket. In this way many music videos, or music lists can be enjoyed. One might wonder why there is a need to do and suggest to use Apps like Pandora or other streaming services.

But this is pretty popular in developing markets like India, Indonesia etc. You can find Hindi music compiled for 2-3 hours or all hit songs in a playlist as typically the streaming services are not available in these countries.

So now with IOS 7, this is a cool development. If you are using youtube in Safari or Chrome, then it lets you use in background. Just click home button (the play black stops) then bring the control center (swipe from bottom to up) then press the play button. That's it. The music / stream starts in the background.

Happy listening folks.

Monday, September 23, 2013

SingTel Rewards - New program launch. Basically it's removing their loyalty program

You might have observed the changes to SingTel Red rewards, through their website or SMS push.

Come August 2013, you can look forward to a fresh new rewards programme. In the new programme, you can enjoy a variety of exciting lifestyle treats that would appeal to everyone in your family, every month. This is our way of thanking you for being with SingTel. Look out for more details at

Now, the so called "new programme" is nothing but removal of their existing program and saying that you guys suck for being SingTel "loyal" customers. On the other hand their CEO-Consumer and their Optus MD seems to have focusing on "Customer retention" and NPS which means giving more value to loyalty. Also during their conf call in August, they stated clearly loyalty is important and it costs more to get a new customer than retaining one.

However the 'walk' seems to be totally diff to the 'talk'. So now SingTel expects you to chalk-up bills worth 250 every month to quality for their 'elite loyalty' program. Rest of the bunch are just a losers. So if you are spending 200 every month then you are not a good customer in their eyes and doesn't warrant any loyalty bonus.

It's no wonder as SingTel loyalty program was the worst five years ago with their red rewards program. Also they don't even bother to "keep" you as their customer after your contract. They simply charge "existing price rate" and force you to sign up new contract.

If you look at StarHub or M1, they are no saints but atleast I've received mailers, e-mails and calls when my contract is about to expire. StarHub even sent me a voucher to use it in their store. that's a good gesture.

So now I am using SingTel only for my mobile and chalking up bills averaging 150 for the last three months. Now it's high time for me to go back to M1 or SH and enjoy some bundling promo. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Samknows - Singapore

If you guys ever visited Hardwarezone forums, you might have seen a very active thread on Samknows. It's
Samknows - Singapore Campaign

It's really a great tool which can monitor the internet performance of your residential broadband. This gives the theoretical maximum throughput you can expect and nicely put in a graphical format.

But I've only one problem. Which is the feedback loop. When I feedback or complain about packet loss, or slow throughput with my ISP, it's almost the same answer from them.

"Internet performance can be subjective and varies greatly with overseas server".

Common my dear ISP friends, customers are not idiots and they are technically pretty good these days. So better prepare some answers or try to entertain instead of shooting them down with some standard answer.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Big Bang Theory - Sheldon T-Shirts

If you guys like or fancy getting the t-shirts from BBT, then you can give DX a try.

Cheap, good quality and most importantly free delivery world wide :)

Change of Credit card rules in Singapore

Source: CNA

In a nut shell, the new changes are

  • Limiting the 'credit' to 12x months of income across all credit cards, credit lines (and all unsecured credit)
  • If it's hit then no more 'credit'
  • Banks need to ensure it.
More info, check MAS website.

But I feel the 12x months income is still pretty high. Most of the unsecured credit facilities charge "2% per month" or around that period. So for example, if a person takes 12x months, then he would end up paying almost 24% of his monthly pay for "interest". Not even minimum balance. If we take a fair assumption of $50 then it still stays around 25% for "credit card payments". Then what about others?

I would guess MAS to further tighten this and IMHO, keeping it to 6 months or lower would be better. Especially with the 'high' interest rates.