Monday, December 15, 2014

Smappee: Just got it delivered to Singapore

Just got the smappe and managed to plug in to my HDB. It's not very easy as the fusebox is of old model and the wires are cramped like lan cables in a dc rack. Anyway finally managed to do and I don't have huge expectations on it to recognize items individually.

I am planning to "teach" it probably over weekend or holiday period. Looks quite exciting :)

Update#1: So far it managed to detect 8 devices and my attempts to 'teach' the rest are not going great. Especially with the low utilization (?) devices such as LED lights, Ceiling Fans, TV, Laptops are not really detected.

Here goes some screen shots on how it looks on Mobile + Web Interface. Not too good or 'wow' stats yet but worth having a look without changing any of the electricity wirings.

Singapore Gov using IPv6? Atleast ICA seems to be...

Since yesterday/the day before upgrade I couldn't open ICA website. I tried to ping the FQDN name and then realized they are using IPv6.

Here is the screen shots and good job guys. By the way, it would be great if you could 'make it work' :)

Still appreciate their effort and moving in to the next phase.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ICA: Status verification

Though I love the efficiency and practical approach of Singapore government service, I must say I started to hate the high handedness of some agencies. I liked ICA when I requested VISA, or used their services on-line but I started to feel a big annoyed when I hear the answers "we'll let you know" or "it's work in progress". This is regarding a friends son residency application and the status is 'pending' for just over an year. What is the point of having an online verification system, or call centre when the result is the same. For this reason I hated middle eastern countries, as the rules are known to them and not public by any means. So our friends are moving in to that direction it seems.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to do surveys - always in your favour :)

Today I got an invite/pop-up from a local TELCO. As I am always keen to provide feedback to improve the situation, I tried to spend couple of min to give my honest feedback.

But when I saw this page (screen shot below) I end up leaving the page. They knew that the "survey organizer" which in this case the website admin or outsourced company (i guess) need to get good marks.

Good & may be Hard way - listen to the customers, users and update.
Easy & simple way - Skew the survey results in their favour and claim that they are doing a great job.

So the survey asks questions but gives options to choose -
Poor - Average - Above Average - Good - Excellent
(-1)        (0)                    (+1)              (+2)       (+3)

We normally see,
Poor - Below Average-Average-Above Average - Excellent/Good
(-2)        (1-)                    (0)              (+1)       (+2)

So you see how it end up.. They remove the far negative and the end score would be way better than the reality. No wonder these days social scientists, data scientist jobs are in demand. :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sports - India: Russel peters may be correct

There is a show where Russel Peters joked about Indians - sports.

If we see the performance in CWG 2014, or any sport shows that's not far from truth. I just tried to put the CWG medal tally and the top countries list across...  Here is the map where we stood much below than countries like NZ, AU, EN..

By the way anyone dare to draw a graph for Olympics ?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

OCBC Internet banking: Slowness or "just dead"

I've been trying to use OCBC Internet banking since last night but couldn't login. At first I thought it was my internet connection issue or laptop issue. Then got the same issue on my mobile.

While trying again, I saw the 'small print'. I am ok if the service can't be offered 24x7 and I do accept that "failures happen".

But why try to "hide"? I am sure OCBC IT team (Who did a great job with the website) are pretty aware that the website is dead. So why the confusing, beating around the bush kind of attitude?

This is irritating OCBC. Just say that there is/are problem(s) and will solve by noon or some time.

Update#01: Now it's 2:30 PM, still the same status..

Now I am curious on what exactly is their "network" problem and if this is caused by the network provider or internal. When I asked the contact centre the answer is a confusing 'it's not a problem but intermittent issue (as expected).

Anyway, it seems OCBC is hosted with StarHub (I may be wrong) and when I try to do a HTTP request the packets are going pretty normal to the host. It seems there is some other problems within the IT systems of OCBC. Let's see what is their official reply.
inetnum: -
netname:        OCBC-SG
country:        SG
descr:          Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd
admin-c:        NS110-AP
tech-c:         NS110-AP
changed: 20060221
mnt-by:         MAINT-AS4657-AP
source:         APNIC

Sunday, June 22, 2014

MLAIS Note Pro - Octa core Android Phablet

I've just purchased this Phablet MLAIS Note Pro to replace my two years old Samsung Galaxy Y Duos. It's working fine but I wanted to get a bigger screen so the same phone can be used as a 'mini tablet' during travel. Without much 'talk' will jump in to the experience.

  1. Screen: It comes with 5.5" screen, 720P display, and 320ppi. Screen looks pretty neat and sensitive too. Compared to iPhone, the screen is more bright, and colours are more saturated. No qualms and I am quite happy with it. Positive marks here
  2. Performance: No complaints, memory is 2GB and processor is octa core mediatek clocked at 1.7Ghz. For my usage, this is more than sufficient. Positive marks here
  3. Call Quality/microphone: Yes, this is a drawback. Often the other party hear my voice coming from a well. It improves a bit with headset but overall this area can be improved. So I'll go with Neutral
  4. Battery: When I use the phone for zero calls, zero texts but as a hotspot, the battery gives me a full day. i.e. approx 8 hours. This is great but the moment I start making some calls or reading something on the screen, the battery goes like the taxi meter in Sydney. It drains almost a pointer every minute. The phone comes with 3200mah but must be some thing wrong with the software or processes. I've dimmed the display to bare minimum but still I can run the phone only for 4 hours of reading or watching video. This is a big negative to me
  5. Connectivity: No LTE. But UMTS(3G) is good enough for me with download speeds of ~ 3 Mbps. In Sydney I managed to get 11Mbps on Optus network, while in Singapore the throughput dropped to 3Mbps in City area. Upload is not bad either. There are other features like NFC, which I am still trying to find how that is useful to me or what purpose they achieve. Acceptable
  6. Camera: Not a great fan/doesn't really take too many snaps. I've tried to take few snaps using the front camera, and I am surprised with the quality. They are a bit grainy, but good quality pic. Acceptable
  7. Others: Looks are great and the phone build quality is great. It doesn't feel like a budget phone at all. The phone came with a screen protector on top of a gorilla glass, a sub-par eatpiece, cables etc. Good thing is I purchased a cover/case together from China, so I am not going to spend a fortune on accessories. There are some minor issues (bloat ware, software update etc) but as the name says, they are minor. Acceptable
Overall, I am happy with the phone and considering the US 200 price I paid for phone+case with NFC+addl battery, I must say this is a great value for money. 

Some tips/comments:

  • Get a good headset/ear piece. 
  • 1st SIM slot is Micro SIM and supports 3G. 2nd SIM is regular SIM. So keep a SIM adapter can be handy to change the slots when you travel. 
  • Custom ROM is not available at XDA and drivers are not available from MLais site. Note that the website is in Chinese. Limited support options
The folks at XDA are quite keen to get hold of this phone and overall there is a tremendous interest in the phone. So I am sure, we can see custom ROMs cooked very soon. Hopefully that can solve the battery issues.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Indian city trying to offer WiFi - A city where pollution is 10x of China, Potable water guarantees diarrhoea & building collapse and kill people.

Source: NDTV

Good money making opportunity for the new government & IT firms. A city where one can't find potable water, or good sanitation or 'safe air to breathe', the government wants to give WiFi to public.

Shame on the leaders, and media for even publishing it. First focus on basic needs/rights. Indian is in such dire state due to this 'wrong priorities'.

Not even a single city offering WiFi realized that the invested money is worth the tax payers money. Be it SFO or Singapore or any other place on the planet. There is/are no tangible benefits demonstrated in any manner. So why the Gov is trying? No one knows.

But I can say, shame on you leaders. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Security - You can't take it for granted. Over 1,500 SingPass accounts potentially accessed

Source: CNA

It is really amusing that the Singpass is not using 2FA. OneKey, which is a Gov backed initiative is active and I believe many people received the Key. Even without onekey, Mobile phone can be a good 2FA device, and if SMS costs are huge (which is not the case but still), Googla 2FA or other software based 2FA can be used pretty safely.

Remember, SingPass let's the user access almost all kind of personal, confidential and private information. So I am disappointed with the SingPass provider. Wish there is some change soon and we can start to use 2FA. Atleast optionally.

Shipping with SingPost - Real "shipping" and not via air

Source: SingPost

Not quite sure if this is a good choice for 'shopping' as the price seems to be quite high. Also the T&C need to be checked on the 'bundling discount'. I am going to get some solar panels /kit if it's allowed :)

There is a base charge of $39.90 for every single item you ship and a per kg charge of $3.90, depending on whether chargeable or actual weight is higher. There’s no bundling discount for this option and the same customs rule applies that is if your total CIF is above SGD 400, a 7% customs tax will be charged and collected. This service is available only for packages with a chargeable weight of 10 kg and above.

Free Server to practice opensource apps or development works from Cloud - AWS Free Usage Tier

Source: Amazon

If you badly need a server to practice some development or some hobby programming, then this is probably the best one can get in Singapore.

The terms & conditions clearly states the details, and the pricing is pretty competitive if you choose to upgrade. For myself, I wanted to give a try to OpenFlow and wondering how best I can do it with RDO. I started with a Micro (Free) but soon upgraded to M3.Medium (Western US) at 0.157 per hour. After a month, my bill came ~ eight dollars. That's less than a meal at a foodcourt in Orchard :)

Amazon does offer services from Singapore, but as I tend to travel most of time I opted for US. Also, with Fiber from home the speed is not a big challenge even from home (I've a M1 200Mbps and my speed to AWS is ~25Mbps)

Overall this is a good deal if you want to start some 'hands-on' or practice some system stuff. Finally, I wish SingTel or a local company starting such 'time based' or 'pay-per-use' model for our local needs. I am sure this is a huge untapped market which our local telco's can profit from. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Narendra Modi - Prime Minister of India.

A happy day it was and I can't forget it so easily. The way Mr. Modi started the campaign, the way he systematized, the way he cared for every single vote and the projection of 'image'. Whatever it is, it's going to be a 'metric' to be measured against in the near future.

Now, I see some of his priorities are going in the much needed direction. i.e. Basic Infra. Glad to hear that, and I am sure solar, alternative energy production would gain a huge support in India. So does the japanese companies and investments.

Here is a wish list I am keen to see. These are no means in an order or priority. Also I am excluding the basic infra as it is almost 'given'. So Roads, Electricity and Clean water is not included.

  • "clean & green" mindset. Create a culture of 'cleanliness' in the mindset of our children. The current generation is so spoiled, not an easy task to get rid of the mindset. Love to see a clean india atleast in 2050.
  • Reduce "cost base" of Indian manufacturing or services. Today India is a very expensive place to tour, or travel to, or even to do business.
  • Change the mindset of "private=bad"; or "companies=profit". The job of company is to make profit and employees are getting paid for it. No company = no job. Get away from communist, 70's mindset where companies means eating the flesh and drinking the blood of poor people.
  • Create "nationalism". Start from the top and children. So one case, would love to see Modi to do a symbolic change to Mahindra instead of "A.B. Vajayee" introduced B.M.W. 
  • Create good relations with Asia and create "Asia First"
  • Make North-East "real part" of India. Hope to see India is a place where every Indian can live irrespective of religion, language or region.
  • Reduce/remove the huge bureaucracy created by decades of in-efficiency. Good example, is putting an "automatic ticketing machine" but employing two people to issue tickets from the machine. What a waste. 
  • Reduce Tax burden but expand the tax net. A study done by M&S showed that even a 7% GST on every transaction could remove all other personal and consumption taxes in India.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

SDN - A myth or reality

In my industry, we see some hype about some cutting edge technology every 3-5 years. I recall from the recent past IMS (IP-Multimedia System) as one of the most hyped item which fell apart. Now a days the most hyped (or abused) word is SDN.

SDN stands for Software Defined Network and it's been positioned by many vendors as the next big thing in Telecom/networking industry.

After listening to the same 'promises' for over an year and after speaking to many Tier-1 Telco CTO's/Architects, I deduce that SDN is not going to change any of the market dynamics(atleast in Asia) in next decade. Now, the problem is the attitude and the business models in APAC. Almost all the operators (expect some in Korea, Japan and now China) are modelled after a business entity which need to look in to cashflow in the short term. There are many, led by accountants, or finance folks but not by engineers. I don't see any great engineers in these firms but more of administrators 'managing' the networks with 90% help from the vendors. Also they are looking for 'cost efficiencies' but not some sort of innovation. Also another key issue is the 'risk avoidance/transfer' at all costs. i.e. it shouldnt go down, if it does then there has to be someone responsible.

Also the size of the networks (unlike USA/Australia our geography, and demands are diff) makes a big deal. If it's in the pure data centre model, then some operators may take a chance but how many of these operators going to implement a 'OEM' switch to carry mission critical applications? IMHO, almost none.

So here you go. SDN. Not so soon for us.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Networked Readiness Index (NRI) by World Economic Forum - India, IT power house?? with ranking of 83rd??


** the website seems not updated yet as the data is still showing from 2013 **

I see the 2014 market release and India took 84th position. Both Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway kept their top positions sequentially from last year.

Horrible part is the "emerging" economies fail to invest and use the technology to grow. But these countries see the 'IT' for money making, spectrum as huge asset to monetize but not to benefit the end user. Look at India, virtually "codes" the world programming lines but couldnt improve the necessary infra to support internal growth and markets.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fibre to the home - Thanks to the Gov vision in 2010.

200/200 Mbps Download/Upload speeds and unlimited data volume. For a price of SGD 39/Month. This is what Singapore managed to do with Fibre to the Home. I was a bit sceptical originally in 2010, and the project itself went in to many challenges (still ongoing with lead times to install fibre, or change operators) but end of the day it is a great boon to house holds. I've checked my bills and I found out that in year 2003, I paid SGD 58 to a cable operator for 3 Mbps broadband connectivity. Followed by SGD 41 for 6 Mbps ADSL, then SGD 39, and SGD 72 for 20 Mbps before I subscribed at SGD 31 for 30 Mbps Fibre to home in 2011.

It's a good experience overall and I know I can't ask for more given my current services comes with free residential telephone with unlimited local calls, and a free WiFi router.  

World tallest Ferris wheel - It's not Singapore Flyer any more. Las Vegas got a bigger one now..

Source: Here

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel opened on the Las Vegas Strip on March 31, 2014. Standing at 550 foot tall, the Ferris wheel named “High Roller” sports a 520-foot diameter giant wheel and is taller than the previous record holder, the Singapore Flyer by 9 feet and almost 100 foot tall than the famous London Eye. The wheel is located across from Caesars Palace, adjacent to Flamingo Las Vegas and The Quad Resort & Casino.

Looks good and I am not sure if soon the "ferris wheels" will be removed or scrapped. I don't understand the business case and I still see no business here in Singapore, and many other places. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Optus Prepaid $2 Days SIM Card Validity period

Source: Optus Web

Due to business purposes, I end up travelling in the region and Australia is one of the country I visit every alternate month. One of the challenge is to keep a local number so it's easy to reach local friends. I've been using Optus for $2 days and I love it. At a fraction of cost, or may be at the cost of 1Day Bridge data roam plan or 5 min roaming call, I can enjoy 5 days of unlimited voice, sms and 2.5GB data. By the way it's LTE ready too :)

So one of the interesting thing I found out is the SIM card validity vs. Amount validity. Optus says the validity of the card is based on the top-up (normally I do $10 for 5 days) and it lasts for 10 days to 100 days. However this is only for the "VALUE" and the SIM card is valid for longer periods with zero value in it.

For example, this is what I observed. I bought a SIM with $10 value on 1st Feb 2014. So the "validity" shown by Optus in SMS/internet is up to 11th Feb. But when you try to recharge the card or do a status check (with a SMS 1 to 9999) the return message shows that the SIM card is valid till 1st Sep 2014 which is great. I don't have to queue up at the airport or try to find a optus store. All I need to do is to top-up online right before I get on the flight :)

The number continues and I am using the same number for over an year, and yeah love the convenience and peace of mind it brings. It works great for voice, and atleast on Android it supports Hotspot. So no more roaming charges, or Boingo kind of WiFi charges, frantic "free ad based" wifi at airports.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Top paying jobs in Singapore - CIO/CTO Wages


The info might give a wrong info as this is almost 2-3 years old. The report was based on MOM Occupational Wages table. The MOM table was released in June 2013, but the data is based on info from 2012.

Anyway based on the "new info" the top dollar is obviously paid to Financial professionals, and Specialists (e.g. Surgeon, Lawyers etc). One thing caught my eye is the supposedly low compensation to CTO/CIO. The position is @ 19th rank with a third quartile pay of $10,648. By the way this is gross wage.

Either the number is skewed by too many "false" designations in small companies or the 'value' offered is too low compared to a Trader or Sales manager or Marketing manager.

If I compare the CTO pay with average/median worker pay in other countries,

* USA median salary is USD 195,450 (Source - Payscale)
* USA median salary is USD 310, 200 (Source - Glassdoor)
* Australia median salary is AUD 280,700 (Source - Glassdoor)
* HongKong median salary is HKD 1,500,000 (Soruce - Michalpage)

So I guess my assumption is correct and the 'designation hype' is causing the number to skew to lower ranges.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MH 370 - Surprised to see such a huge confusion. Is it none of the nations monitoring their borders?

I am not sure what's going on with the MH-370 Flight. But I am really surprised with the state of FAILED security of all the nations.

If I're to take the call that the flight went missing around Vietnam, then I can understand the "failed" radar monitoring from Vietnam. They are still running soviet era, Vietnam war remnants infra.

Based on the second case, if the flight indeed crossed Malay peninsula then what exactly happening with the Malaysian Airforce or Army? Nobody working on monitoring their borders?

If I go to the final case (as of today) and take that the flight went near Andaman. This is a huge disappointment. India got a huge deployment in Andaman & Nicobar, and they are supposed to be on very high alert 24x7 under a "central command" covering Army, Navy & Airforce. Also the Bay Of Bengal is monitored (or atleast on paper) from Visakapatnam, a Coastal City in South-East India which is Indian Navy eastern command centre.  Aslo their Spy Satellite should be watching very closely on both Arabian Sea & Bay Of Bengal. In this case, the satellite missed? Or its busy broadcasting movies and cricket?

Total failure from them?

Or is it "intentionally" hiding the information from public?

I can only say there is only one Country who is sad & happy at this stage. Must be China, sad to see such a tragedy to its people; but happy to learn that the entire south & south-east asia forces are not watching their borders. Forget about Stealth, just a huge 777 can't be identified by them.

Only one word to close. DISAPPOINTED.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Opal card - Sydney's own EZ-Link card or Octopus card. But the deployment shows what Australia can learn from Singapore, HK


Ok, Finally I see some effort and actual implementation of a simple store value card in Sydney public transportation.

I know, public transportation in Sydney is not comparable to what Singaporeans enjoy but it is great to skip horrendous parking charges in the city or if you are trying to beat the traffic during peak hour. I love it especially to go to the north sydney or towards the Central areas.

But what really surprised me is the 'planning' and the way NSW choose to sell the cards. First of all you need to register online and top-up with a credit card so it can be mailed to you. Then you need to go online and 'activate' the card.

Compared to Opal, lets look at our own EZ-Link card. I know people may compare with HK and

MH 370 - No idea what's going on

Source: Strait Times

My prayers and hope some miracle unfolds.

But I am still puzzled by the lack of technical advancement finding place in airlines industry. I am a layman, and don't understand the complications of airlines but still puzzled to see why we can't have GPS tracking on different modules, blackbox or real time updates of FDR/CVR to near by control tower or even through satellites. Finding the information is so critical, I believe the investment can justify.

Hopefully there will be some changes soon.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

India - Going back to mediaeval period

What a sad state of politics in this great country. I won't blame the politicians but the PEOPLE who are quite educated, and have seen the world but who failed to understand a simple thing that "Strength is in Unity".

I've seen a comedy bit in a movie recently. Some folks asks a foreign tourist, "How is India, and indian hospitality". Seemingly american, he answers the question - India is good but I haven't seen Indians in India and neither experienced Indian hospitality. And elaborates,

- I've seen North India, South India, then
- I've seen Punjabi culture, Punjabi food, Tamil culture, Tamil food, Jain food, Bengali food, Gujarati Thali, Assamese dance, Rajasthani heritage.

But I am yet to see anything Indian.

----Sad but true----.

When the world is breaking boundaries and trying to remove barriers, we are creating new. For the whole benefit of some people selfish reasons. If we're to go by the 'political news', Indian political parties are supporting new small states. Based on Wiki, and other news the list seems to add atleast 50 more states. Which means 80 states in India.

One may say, this is the decentralization which India needs badly. But the problem is this is something like creating new boundaries administratively and increasing the cost unnecessarily. We are already wasting spending close to 17% on public administration(Reference - TOI/Link is dead but will update). If you've the reference which stated post budget 2014 with Salaries, Administrative spending/board, plz share).


So how much more burden is added on the middle class of India to support these new states, bureaucracy ? Why can't we simply keep the linguistic states as it is? 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why not allow local roaming within country when an operator network fails

Ok, I agree this is not going to be easy to live without Mobile network for hours. Atleast in Singapore. Where people use 2.3 Peta Bytes a month, spend on an average 6 hours on mobile phone (calls), and carry 2 or more connections to be online all the time.

From the news itself I recall there are more than 

Minister says Telcos should raise their game during disruptions. But mere 'communication' doesnt help solve the problem. One way is to use a Dual-SIM card with multiple numbers but this is going to be expensive and cumbersome to maintain two different numbers. Perhaps future technology may allow a 'soft-sim' where the single SIM card can allow dynamically change the service provider. But until then a more practical way to let the affected parties roam to another operator could help.

So the 'national roaming' - how does this going to help and what are the challenges. I have seen this approach by many countries in developing nations. Especially in India, it is very common since the 2G nation wide launch in early 1990's. This was started mainly from coverage point of view, but slowly operators realized that they can share the resources to scale. The case in Singapore differs slightly and for us coverage may not be a big issue (though i still have plenty of dark spots or blind spots throughout my mobility areas)

From resiliency point of view, there is a good paper from European Union here. This is more in tune with our requirements in Singapore. So what happens is very simple

When the M1 network goes down (be it nation wide or specific areas), the subscribers can automatically switch over to SingTel or StarHub networks assuming it is a Radio network failure or Radio(core) nodes failure at central exchange. The billing can be settled based on Inter-op agreements or via a central party.

If in case of other failures like the Data centric nodes failure, the voice network still works but customer suffer no data connectivity. Again , depending on the scenario a subscriber may be roamed in to backup network. Technically this is more complicated and need many cases to be explored. So I doubt this can happen in Singapore. But for the basic voice connectivity and SMS connectivity should be supported.

Today most of the 2G networks are under utilized given the fact that 90+% subscribers running on 3G or LTE. So until IDA decides and takes back the spectrum or Operators decide to close the 2G toally, they can use the 2G as a backup network to roam. Basically this is for voice + SMS which 2G does a great job.

Any thoughs...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Creative Customer Care Centre - As good as a Chinese imitation product

I wanted to get a good value headset for VoIP/Skype communications without breaking my wallet. So after some recommendations I purchased Creative HN-900.

I've used it mainly for VoIp/Voice calls and the product is good value for money. However less than an year of spare usage, the product started to give problems.

It's a classic issue - i.e. only one side of the headset is working and it's randomly disconnecting voice. So I reach out to Creative support. By the way did I mention that you need to work hard to find the actual creative 'contact us' or feedback form in their website?

Anyway the e-mail support is quite fast and normally I managed to get same day reply. However after 10 days of e-mail communication where they tried to "solve" the problem, they finally advised to visit the support centre and also told that I need to pay SGD 40 for 'repair' even it is under warranty period. I am fine with that as this is supposed to be 'international warranty' which creative doesnt provide. (?)

I am angry but as I've no choice, I decided to lose 40 bucks to get it repaired or replaced. After a tedious 1 hour journey to the remote place, I managed to find the physical room with the name "creative customer care centre". But I didn't realized that this is the beginning of the problem.

First of all I got a shock when the place is unmanned. Then I managed to find from a security guard that the support person went out for lunch (it's 3 PM by the way). After an hour of waiting I saw the person sitting at the desk. Then the person repeatedly said 'sorry lah' for over a dozen times and go through all the story.

Another 30 min wasted. Finally he went inside to the store to check the stock and returned with a sheepish smile. Guess what. Sorry lah, no stock of this model. Come again next week or some other time.

What the hell.. There is no assurance at all that and worse, the person is not even trying to make an effort to find the stock arrival date and asking me to visit or send the item to me via post.

What a shame Creative. For a company who claims to be Worldwide leader in entertainment products. Atleast there should be some effort to improve the support.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Air Quality in India

Here is a screenshot captured. Actually if you ever been to India & China one could easily see the horrible air quality in Indian cities. Be it the Metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi or 2nd tier cities like Hyderabad or Pune or Towns far from any industries - the air quality in India is so horrible, it's hard to feel that India can solve this problem any time soon.

Even in highly advanced places like Gurgaon (kind of all MNC's setup their offices here near New Delhi) or Bangalore where the crowd is supposed to be highly educated and IT folks - the problem is the same. I can see smog filled skies, dusty roads, and horrible vehicular pollution.
Why is it so?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The case of Devyani Khobragade - Many unanswered questions, but the way India handled need tons of improvement

I am not sure what happened behind the scenes or the 'political' motives or 'religion motives' or 'national motives' or 'racial motives' but I can say the way this case has been handled by India - The image of India & it's citizen dropped to a new low.

The views of many Indians and my Ex-Indian (Indian origin, PIO, etc) friends are that India over-reacted and tried hard to protect a criminal with fake news, emotionally driven news articles in media, and unnecessary hype.

The claims of the accused is not proven and for the details Wiki got an updated article here.

After reading through the document and going through Indian and American news papers, I can only deduce that both are at fault
- USA, for going 'extra-mile' to prove one as a criminal. I won't agree that it's the fault of USA for keeping the diplomat in prison with other criminals or hand-cuffing, or physical checkup as faults here. This is a standard process and the hue & cry is due to "indian VIP culture".
- India, for everything else. Be it the fake documents, false claims and most importantly the loose attitude when it comes to signatures, and taking oath, lying, false documentation, mis-representation of news and emotional reporting.

Shame on the Bureaucrats and Media for giving a different picture to the nation. Trying to protect a criminal with massive resources and money. It's all tax-payers money and shows if you are a well connected person, the nation can save you. But the poor people, workers in Middle East, Asean countries - they are left to suffer. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bing Rewards - My first Amazon gift card redemption

For the people staying in USA, Bing has been offering an 'incentive' to jump ship :)

The program is quite reasonable and within two months I became a gold member (where you can get bragging rights, and 15% discount for gift redemption) and also withdrawn USD 10 Amazon gift cards (2x5).

This is something with minimal effort. I've changed the default search engine to Google in my firefox and that's all I did. For every 2 searches, the user gets 1x point. Also, time to time BING creates some offers where users can get more points. Or referring friends, and get 200 points when they reach silver status.

Not a bad idea to use BING too. Especially I like their homepage pictures and it is kind of refreshing at times.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A week of holidays in Singapore with two young kids...

Ok, perhaps this is the first time we stayed back in Town over X-mas & NY period. Thanks to the mandatory shutdown of my company, I've no choice but to take a forcible holiday. I still hate this "forced holiday" which is a terrible idea from some western folks sitting in their offices.

Anyway, this holiday period gave us a challenge to keep the kids occupied. So this is what we did. Felt it's good to share with my friends and for my own future reff . Especially with my 5 year old & 2 year old kids, we are not able to go to many so called "family places" which are typically for young kids or kids older than 6 years. So I'll share the details and most importantly some of the experiences/lessons learned, and some tips. You can find the good stuff from their web sites anyway :)

Day-1: Visit to Singapore Zoo.

The crowd was amazing, and we tried to beat the crowd by going early. Buying online tickets helped a lot as we avoided standing in queue. Also the tickets comes with a validity of a month so you don't have to plan it perfectly. Just buy and you can visit whenever the weather is good and you've the mood to spend four-five hours showing yourself to animals :)

It's a great place for kids & toddlers. Avoid going on a hot day and even on a cloudy day bring plenty of water. Let me repeat.. Plenty of water.. for kids and yourself. You may not able to buy water at dispensers, as they tend to run out very fast and most of the dispensers only accept coins. Also the rates are exorbitant at $3/bottle. These Dasani bottle can be bought at 40-50c at NTUC or super markets.

Second, pack some food. May be some rolls or some snacks. You can eat at the Zoo, by paying double the price but the horrible part is waiting period and crowd. With young kids this is not going to be a good idea to sit at the table or wait for the table as there is a mad rush to food between 12 noon to 2 PM. Also the quality of food is mediocre.

Now about the Zoo - Follow a path and try to avoid going to the 'middle areas' i.e. primate kingdom, komodo dragon etc. Elephants, Tiger, Giraffe, Horse, Kangaroo & Monkeys are great hits.Then keep the "kids play area" for the last. One idea is once you finish the rest of Zoo, go to Kids area then take the Boat and let the wind makes you feel fresh.

Lastly bring an umbrella or poncho. This is assuming you are going on a cloudy day and it tends to drizzle or pour all of a sudden.

Overall 5 hours at Zoo; Using public transport and there is a direct bus to Ang Mo Kio Interchange which is quite fast.

Day-2: S.E.A Aquarium/Resort World Sentosa

Most important thing here is "crowd'. Avoid weekends, public holidays as this place tends to be a huge headache. Horrible crowd management worsens the situation and camera flashes irritates not only the fish but rest of the masses.

Buy the tickets online and you can save few min to hours waiting at the queue. But my recommendation is to do it on the same day and not to buy the express ticket. We did the mistake of buying Express tickets by paying 15 per person but the "express queue" is not even opened as there are too few people. Also the express card allows to enter the place a little bit early but that's where it ends. But one can buy the pass even when you are inside if there is huge crowd. IMHO, not worth.

Then, the place is horribly crowded and you should try to make your own way with young kids. Be careful as the lighting is dim, and watch out for 'stroller warriors' pushing their way, while trying to take photographs.

Dolphins are not visible that easily as the priority is given to the guests who pay to spend time with them out side. So tough luck..

Coming to the journey plan/trip - Easy way is to take public transport and reach Harbour Frong; Then take the board walk to stroll for 10-15 min to reach the place. I found this is much more easier than taking the mono-rail; Or taxi will bring you right at the casino basement.

Try to be earlier as the crowd tends to be very little and you can have some good experience. You may not buy any food there as the food offered in side the aquarium is horrible with 3x-4x the price.

Once again - Bring water.. Lots of water as there are no stalls selling water and no taps to fill up. I hate to see public places not offering water to the guests in Singapore. You can buy water from Cold Storage @ Harbour Frong/Vivo City.

Total time spent - 3 hours at aquarium; Public transport to Harbour Front MRT. Then you have Circle line, North East line.

Day-3: SingKids PlaySystem

I have seen one SingKids at Changi but never visited the town versions. So finally we made a trip almost after ~ two years of its opening at United Square. It's wonderful place for toddlers and the best part to visit this place is we managed to create some good occupation for our kids during a heavy rainy period. December in Singapore is pretty predictable in terms that it's going to rain almost every day :)

Nice place but I'd suggest to buy membership (16 visits @ SGD 198) which is shareable. Means you can share this with your friends and doesn't have to be for your own. So this puts the price at each trip ~ 13 vs a regular trip of SGD 18. I am sure you will do visit few times. The big hit(s) with my kids are,

  • Ball pit
  • Slide with flowing water inside (not wet one but transparent one with water flow)

Crowd is average but one minor challenge for us is to pass time roaming outside. They only allow one adult at a time so we have no choice to walk around till the kids are tired.

Secondly, watch out your kids and they may hit to something (it's a safe place but we need to be cautious) or hit some other kids or get hit by some excited kids.

Day-4: Gardens by the Bay

This is the most recent and there is lot of buzz about the Far East organization Children Playground too. So we thought this could be a great place to go with kids to show them the gardens and let them spend some time at the play ground. But I am disappointed with the FEO Playground. It's not for toddlers but for kids older than 6 years. They do have some for toddlers, but not really need a trip to visit the place.

Rest of the trip is a hit with my kids loving the gardens, and especially the Flower Dome.

Tips - Again, bring lots and lots of water and keep an umbrella.

That's all for now folks. I think I am going to spend another 15 days in Singapore over Chinese New Year and got to plan few more trips. Will update then.