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Showing posts from May, 2008

Market Roundup 26-30 May 08

For the whole week, STI ended on higher grounds up an approximately 2% due to cooling crude oil prices and better than expected US Q1 GDP data. However, overall trade volume on Singapore Stock Exchange is still quite low.

We experienced weaker performance in the beginning of the week after Singapore and US reported dismal reports. The Singapore's EDB (Economic Development Board) reported a 26% decline month-on-month manufacturing output for the month of April 2008. If you are interested in the details, you may read this. US home prices continued to fall logging a record y-o-y (year-on-year) drop of 26%. US consumer confidence hit a 16 year low and this is certainly not good news. Financial big boys like Goldman Sachs Group, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Morgan Stanley earning estimates were all being slashed by analysts. US personal spending slowed in April due to inflation and fuel costs, a slump in home values and the ever deteoriating job market. There was a 4000 increase in first t…

What is pwdump?

pwdump is the name of various Windows programs that output the LM and NTLM password hashes of local user accounts from the Security Account Manager (SAM). In order to work, it must be run under an Administrator account, or be able to access an Administrator account on the computer where the hashes are to be dumped; so pwdump does not compromise security.

Please note that you will require pwdump when using Ophcrack - a tool to crack Windows passwords.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pwdump

Equitable Life VS NTUC Income

The near-collapse of Equitable Life shocked not just the firm's policy holders, but the whole life insurance industry. Now the report of Lord Penrose has laid open what went wrong. Equitable Life was promising its policyholders more money than it actually had for more than a decade, according to one of the most striking findings in the Penrose report.

Where Equitable Life went wrong?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3547441.stm

NTUC Income is not like Equitable Life
http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/ntuc-income-is-not-like-equitable-life.html

Adobe Flash Player Prone to Remote Code-Execution Vulnerability

Adobe Flash Player is prone to a remote code-execution vulnerability. A hacker can exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code. Failed exploitations can result in denial-of-service conditions. Adobe Flash Player 9.0.115.0 and 9.0.124.0 are known to be affected. Other versions may also be affected.

To find out the what version of Flash you are running, click here.

To disable or re-enable Flash in Internet Explorer, follow below's registry tweaks by F-Secure.
http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/Disable_Flash_IE.reg
http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/Enable_Flash_IE.reg

Report from PC Magazine
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2310320,00.asp

Vietnam - Heading for Currency Crisis?

According to Bloomberg, Vietnam is heading for a "currency crisis'' similar to that of Thailand's baht in 1997, because the central bank has kept the dong too strong as inflation soars and the trade deficit widens. If that is the case, are we heading for another crisis besides the current subprime problems?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aTsaEi_5ljqk&refer=asia

IE7Pro - The Ultimate Add-On for Internet Explorer 7.0

IE7Pro is a must have add-on for Internet Explorer, which includes a lot of features and tweaks to make your IE friendlier, more useful, secure and customizable. IE7Pro includes Tabbed Browsing Management, Spell Check, Inline Search, Super Drag Drop, Crash Recovery, Proxy Switcher, Mouse Gesture, Tab History Browser, Web Accelerator, User Agent Switcher, Webpage Capturer, AD Blocker, Flash Block, Greasemonkey like User Scripts platform, User Plug-ins, MiniDM, Google sponsored search,IE Faster and many more power packed features. You can customize not just Internet Explorer, but even your favorite website according to your need and taste using IE7Pro.

http://www.ie7pro.com/

Collective Protest on NTUC Income Recent Bonus Cut Called Off

According to insurance veteran, Mr Tan Kin Lian, the collective protest on NTUC Income recent bonus cut is called off for the time being. This is after a meeting between Mr Tan and the current management. The current management has assured the best interest of policyholders and reputation of NTUC Income. Hopefully, a win-win solution will be drafted out very soon.

http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-set-aside-for-time.html

Read my previous post for details on the bonus cut
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/04/ntuc-income-annual-bonus-cut-is-it-fair.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/04/ntuc-income-annual-bonus-cut-but-up.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-against-ntuc-income.html
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/is-ntuc-income-spending-millions.html

Tiger Airways to charge for all checked-in baggage after May 29

Low-cost carrier Tiger Airways will begin charging for all checked-in baggage for bookings made after May 29. Those who booked before that date will continue to enjoy 15 kilogrammes free baggage allowance.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/350505/1/.html

With this unwelcoming arrangement, I expect their passenger capacity to fall. Among all of the budget airlines in Singapore, I hear incidents of flight delays from Tiger Airways most. This is just going to make them more unpopular. There are more than 1 budget airlines in Singapore.

Google Code AJAX Libraries - Hosting Most Popular JavaScript Libraries for You

What is the AJAX Libraries API?

The AJAX Libraries API is a content distribution network and loading architecture for the most popular open source JavaScript libraries. By using the Google AJAX API Loader's google.load() method, your application has high speed, globaly available access to a growing list of the most popular JavaScript open source libraries including:
jQueryprototypescript.aculo.usMooToolsdojoGoogle works directly with the key stake holders for each library effort and accept the latest stable versions as they are released. Once we host a release of a given library, we are committed to hosting that release indefinitely.

The AJAX Libraries API takes the pain out of developing mashups in JavaScript while using a collection of libraries. We take the pain out of hosting the libraries, correctly setting cache headers, staying up to date with the most recent bug fixes, etc.

jQuery
http://jquery.com/

prototype
http://www.prototypejs.org/

script.aculo.us
http://script.aculo.us/

mootoo…

Facebook to Open Source Facebook Platform for OpenSocial

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will turn the year-old Facebook Platform into an open source project, multiple sources have told us. The immediate effect will be to allow any social network to become Facebook Platform compatible - meaning application developers can easily take their Facebook applications and have them run on those social networks, too. It makes sense to do it now: the Facebook Platform just hit its one-year anniversary, and while it remains extraordinarily popular, developers have found an alternative in OpenSocial. Created by Google and then spun off into a nonprofit organization, OpenSocial is an open-source developer standard that any participating social site can use. Most of the big players in the scene, including MySpace, LinkedIn, and Google's Orkut, are on board--but not Facebook.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/26/facebook-to-open-source-facebook-platform/
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-9952311-36.html

The Great Singapore Sale 2008 (23 May - 20 July)

SMRT Train Fare Structure - Leaves Me Puzzled

Dear Person-In-Charge,

I am writing for justifications on how SMRT calculates train fares. Personally, I am puzzled on what formula SMRT uses because I am not able to accept how SMRT charges commuters. In the below examples, I shall assume adult fare price using ezLink card.

Scenario 1 : MRT to MRT

Journey 1 : Ang Mo Kio - Buona Vista

Using route Ang Mo Kio -> Jurong East -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 16 stops.
Using route Ang Mo Kio -> Raffles Place -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 17 stops.

Summary: 16/17 stops = $1.44

Journey 2 : Ang Mo Kio - Admiralty

Using the only one possible route Ang Mo Kio -> Admiralty, there are a total of 5 stops.

Summary: 5 stops = $1.33

Journey 3 : Admiralty - Buona Vista

Using route Admiralty -> Jurong East -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 11 stops.
Using route Admiralty -> Raffles Place -> Buona Vista, there are a total of 22 stops.

Summary: 11/22 stops = $1.55

Questions

1. Why Journey 2 of only 5 stops cost almost the same a…

Photos of Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip

Regine at foot of mountain


Myself at foot of mountain


Myself on the way up


Myself half way up (cold, very windy, rainy)


Regine half way up (cold, very windy, rainy)


On the way down


Back at foot of mountain

Unit Testing Transact-SQL Code

TinEye - Image Search Engine

What is TinEye?

TinEye is a brand new image identification-based search engine currently in private beta. To be able to use and try out their service, you will need to request for an invitation. I have personally got an invitation and have tried their service. I just uploaded an image that has a portion of it showing picture of Earth and amazingly, TinEye pointed me 2 search results that made me wonder if the image I have got was from one of the 2 results. Could TinEye one day be used to check for copyright and plagiarism?

What does TinEye do?

TinEye does for images what Google does for text. Give it an image, and it shows you where else that image appears on the web!


TinEye
http://tineye.com/

Request for an invite
http://tineye.com/request_invite

ICJ Awards Pedra Branca Sovereignty to Singapore

International Court of Justice has just awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore while the Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Pedra Branca is an island that sits at the eastern entrance of the Straits of Singapore. It lies about 24 nautical miles to the east of Singapore. Its location has long been of strategic importance to us as it commands the entire eastern approach to the Straits of Singapore, through which almost 900 ships pass daily.

Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore)
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&code=masi&case=130&k=2b

Pedra Branca, South China Sea
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_Branca%2C_South_China_Sea

Singapore Inflation at 7.5% for April 2008

Inflation in Singapore for the month of April 2008 hits 7.5%, a 26 year high. Food, housing, transportation and communication contribute most to the increase in inflation. Whatever goes up will not go down for this case. I believe prices will remain unchanged for cooked food even if prices ease. When do you see price of chicken rice ever goes down?

Singapore inflation rate hits new 26-year high of 7.5% in April
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/349581/1/.html

Singapore Consumer Price Index (With details broken down)
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080523997.pdf

OCBC and StandChart Emerge Winners to Take Care of Children Development Accounts

Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) has appointed OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank as the two banks to host Children Development Accounts (CDA). Existing CDAs will be transferred from DBS Bank to one of the 2 newly appointed banks by parents. This is a very lucrative new business for OCBC and StandChart and it totals up to $400 million. It seems DBS is going to lose $400 million deposit.

Started by the government in 2001 to encourage couples to have children, the baby bonus scheme has two components: an outright cash gift and matching contributions to the CDA. For the third and fourth child, the total bonus from the government can go up to a maximum of $18,000.

Parents to choose OCBC or StandChart by 30 June 2008
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20080521995.pdf

The DBA Daily Checklist

Simple-Talk has compiled a checklist for DBA. They are as below:
Connectivity: Make sure each database is available and accessible both by logging in via user applications, as well as running test scripts.Backups: Check database and log backups, archiving and offsite storage.Events: check all database logs, application logs and system logs, Agent history, device logs, NIC logs etc. Investigate any job failuresProcesses: Check that all required processes on the server are running, including ReplicationIntegrity: Perform all database and server integrity checks; look for objects that break rulesIndexes: Check on indexes to see if they are being used, need re-creating, or if any are missingVolumetrics: Check resources on the server such as files sizes and disk space, and monitor growthPerformance: Check application performance, and performance statistics, using the Perfmon tool; research and resolve any issues.Procedures: Check all Disaster Recovery PlansSecurity: Look for security policy…

Back from Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip

I am back from Mount Kota Kinabalu Trip. The climb up Mt KK was memorable and definitely refreshing compared to my army days. I shall post some of the photo taken once I got hold of them. I will pen some of the moments here when I got the time.

Poor Service Encountered at Army Market

I went to the army market this evening for Cargo Net. There was this particular shop owner who really annoyed me.

I asked for a cargo net and the rude uncle replied yes he had got stock. I requested to have a look but he said it was those standard type of cargo net and insisted on not showing me. He even questioned me I should know how it looked like if I had been to the army. Yes I did know how it looked like and I even once owned one myself. However, couldn't I have a look first? I even argued that if he really wanted to make a business, he should leave his arse off the chair and show it to me.

In the end, I walked away and bought it from another stall. There're so many alternatives around.

At Johor Bahru City Square McDonalds

It seems McDonalds offers free WiFi in Malaysia as well. McDonalds offered free WiFi in Singapore but stopped after Singapore launched the free Wireless@SG programme islandwide.

Is McDonalds offering free WiFi in other countries as well?

Standalone Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Image for Download

To update Windows XP to Service Pack 3 (SP3), one can do it using Windows Update. However, you will not be able to keep the download for future installation should you need it. You end up having to re-download using Windows Update again. Furthermore, you risk getting the download interrupted should network is unreliable.

There is a better method and is definitely recommended. It is recommended to download SP3 images and burn them onto disc so you will never have to re-download them again. You can even use a 3rd party download manager to resume / pause download. This is extremely helpful for huge files.

You can find Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) download list in several languages from the below link.
http://www.ghacks.net/2008/05/07/standalone-windows-xp-sp3-download-list/

Is NTUC Income Spending $2,000 Per Chair True?

A comment posted on a blog reveals the chairs in the board rooms (beside the CEO’s room) cost an unbelievable $2,000 each. There are a total of 20 such "gold" chairs and so this makes it a total of $40,000 just for chairs alone.

If the comment posted is true, then I wonder if it is necessary. In my opinion, the account books of NTUC Income should be audited by an independent auditor and made known to the public.

The comment I mentioned
http://tankinlian.blogspot.com/2008/05/collective-protest-action.html?showComment=1210258260000#c6281288562425041307

Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited Buy ST Engineering Shares

According to Singapore Exchange, Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited has bought ST Engineering Shares. ST Engineering shares is in a downtrend in line with the recent financial market's sentiments. Aberdeen is known for their strategy in buying value stocks at cheap price and this move just shows ST Engineering is now value for money.

Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Limited Buy ST Engineering Shares
http://info.sgx.com/webcorannc.nsf/0357d11048060bb84825735f0028e25b/eb45ba8c699bd7774825744200260a2a?OpenDocument

Is NTUC Income Spending Millions Extravagantly?

Is NTUC Income spending millions extravagantly on renovations, meeting room venues, retreats, etc at the expense of policyholders? All these changes are initiated after the departure of former CEO, Mr Tan Kin Lian. Despite a high investment yield in year 2007, annual bonuses are cut. Is this right for a co-operative to do that?

NTUC Income management will have a busy evening in their upcoming 30th May 2008 AGM.

I quote a comment posted on http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/05/05/former-ceo-of-ntuc-income-calls-for-collective-protest/#comment-27589

"hi there, i was an Ex-Employee.

To tell u the truth, i have seen such extravagrant spending by the management.

The meeting rooms are all renovated to look like lounges. The CEO’s room is the most impressive. If u dun believe me, do go there and check it out. It’s on the 6th floor of Income Centre.
The lobby of the 6th floor looks more like a hotel lobby than an office.

Meetings that were previously held at Kreta Ayer during Mr Tan Kin Lian’s er…

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Available for Download from Windows Update

Finally, Microsoft has made Windows Service Pack 3 (SP3) available for download via Windows Update (Web).

Service Pack 3 will contain all previously released Windows XP updates, including security updates, out-of-band releases, and hotfixes. SP3 will also feature four Vista features. Network Access Protection (NAP) is a policy enforcement platform meant for enterprise use that blocks systems attempting to access a network until they meet whatever security criteria the corporation has in place.
"Black Hole" Router Detection helps detect and protect end users from a router that drops packets without returning the specified Internet Control Message Protocol response.
Microsoft Kernel Cryptographic Module incorporates cryptographic algorithms in a single module other kernel mode drivers are capable of hooking into and accessing.
The new Product Activation module allows users to install XP without entering a product key at installation.
Article from ars technicahttp://arstechnica.com/…

Deepest Condolences to Victims Affected by Myanmar Cyclone

Millions become victims of the recent cyclone that hit Myanmar. Myanmar is already one of the poorest country in the world and yet now they are enduring this kind of ordeal.

They need emergency aid. I hope international and regional aid will reach them quick. The current military ruler must also give it all they can including monetary assistance.

Collective Protest Against NTUC Income Recent Arbitrary Annual Bonus Cut

If you are unhappy with the recent NTUC Incomearbitrary cut in annual bonus, you can take part in a Collective Protest against this action.

Mr Tan Kin Lian, former CEO of NTUC Income, has drafted out a petition letter for this protest. You may visit his blog for more details on how to go about doing this. Just take note that the petition letter is to reach Mr Tan for consolidation by 25th May to make it in time for NTUC Income AGM which is to be held on 30th May 2008. The more signatures collected, the better it is.

This is not a movement. I call this freedom of expression on our disagreement. Ask before you take our money. This is very basic.

Details on the Collective Protest
http://www.tankinlian.com/faq/collectiveprotest.html

Microsoft Withdraws Proposal to Acquire Yahoo!

From Microsoft's press release, Microsoft has decided not to go ahead with acquiring Yahoo!. I quote the letter by Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, to Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo!.

*****************

May 3, 2008

Mr. Jerry Yang
CEO and Chief Yahoo
Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089


Dear Jerry:

After over three months, we have reached the conclusion of the process regarding a possible combination of Microsoft and Yahoo!.

I first want to convey my personal thanks to you, your management team, and Yahoo!’s Board of Directors for your consideration of our proposal. I appreciate the time and attention all of you have given to this matter, and I especially appreciate the time that you have invested personally. I feel that our discussions this week have been particularly useful, providing me for the first time with real clarity on what is and is not possible.

I am disappointed that Yahoo! has not moved towards accepting our offer. I first called you with our offer on January 31…

The ABCs of Securing Your Wireless Network

One of the recommendations by ars technica is to use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) instead of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA and WEP are the two encryption standards that are widely used in today's wireless devices. WPA is far more superior than WEP in many aspects. The below article tells you why.

The ABCs of securing your wireless network
http://arstechnica.com/guides/tweaks/wireless-security.ars

Are Singaporeans Taking Public or Private Transport?

The Singapore government encourages more to travel using the public transport like buses or trains in a bid to ease traffic flow and better air environment.

A series of measures, like increasing ERP charges and installing more ERP gantries at various "strategic" locations, have been implemented to discourage owning a car. To encourage more to take public transport, LTA has come up with a masterplan to make travelling easier. Higher frequencies of buses and trains between intervals especially during peak hours are ordered by the LTA to transport operators.

Question comes down to "Are Singaporeans taking public or private transport?" Now, all transport operators are privatised and the big players like SMRT, SBS Transit and Comfort DelGro, are all listed on the stock market. They will need to answer to shareholders and ensure y-o-y profit are improving, if not maintained.

How many times have we read, seen or heard of complaints from commuters because of overcrowded train…

Raffles Place Ghost Turns Out to be a Hoax

The Raffles Place Ghost in Lift case is closed and it turn out to be a hoax. On May 1, the person behind the video posted on http://www.rafflesplaceghost.net/blog/ that all is a hoax. It turn out to be a marketing stunt to promote a recuitment agency - GMP. I thought he must be sick to come out with this joke.

Quoted from the blog itself,

"After ten days of thorough investigation and the help of the public, we have concluded our investigation. Whilst there is a lack of consistent evidence to accurately prove the existence of a ghost, one key finding across all leads is that strange things do happen at night. Which is why, NO ONE SHOULD WORK LATE EVERY DAY. Watch this video for a summary and the truth behind the alleged sighting of a ghost at Raffles Place. It is just the sort of report you’d want to hear on Labour Day. Thank you for being a part of our blog."

Asia Paranormal Investigators also concluded that the Raffles Place Ghost in Lift is not true and revealed 3 possibiliti…

Labour Day - An Opportunity to Express Themselves

Labor Day, on May First is an American Holiday so feared by corporate interests, they have suppressed it in it's home country. Today, May First is celebrated through the world as Labor Day, but not in the USA. The first week of May in 1886 marked a turning point in the struggle for Justice in this country. The fair treatment of the worker - the originator of all economic value - is the cornerstone of our freedoms to the extent that we still enjoy them today.

On May First, Labor Day Was Born in Chicago
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/04/30/18495886.php

An earlier post by myself
http://hongjun.blogspot.com/2008/05/labor-day-in-us-first-monday-of.html

Below are just some of the many rallies happened on May 1 2008:

Singapore

The opposition Singapore Democratic Party marked May Day by distributing flyers and getting Singaporeans to sign two petitions.

SDP marks May Day by distributing flyers in Toa Payoh
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/344996/1/.html

Indonesi…

Labor Day in US - First Monday of September

For many countries, May 1 marks the Labor Day. Labor Day is often regarded simply as a day of rest. However, there are countries which celebrate Labor Day in another day e.g. United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The US celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

Controversies of Labor Day from Wikipedia:

"The Knights of Labor organized the original parade on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. In 1884 another parade was held, and the Knights passed resolutions to make this an annual event. Other labor organizations (and there were many), but notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association, many of whom were socialists or anarchists, favored a May 1 holiday. In 1886 came the general strike which eventually won the eight-hour workday in the United States. These events are today commemorated as Labor Day in virtually every country in the world, with the notable exceptions being the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zeala…

Singapore's GIC may invest in more banks

Recently, the chairman of The Government of Singapore Investment Corp told Bloomberg TV that GIC may invest in more banks in Europe and the United States if it gets the chance, adding to its already billion dollars stakes in bank UBS and Citigroup. The stakes in the 2 earlier mentioned banks have already eroded significant percentages off their initial values.

Personally, I am fine with GIC investing in banks for the loooooooong term. Below is an interesting blog entry on this issue. I am with the blog writer.

Lee Kuan Yew Ain't No Warren Buffett
http://utwt.blogspot.com/2008/04/lee-kuan-yew-aint-no-warren-buffett.html