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Showing posts from October, 2008

Employment Situation in Third Quarter 2008


Preliminary estimates show that employment grew by 57,800 in the third quarter this year. This was lower than the gains of 71,400 in the preceding quarter and 58,600 in the third quarter of 2007.


Preliminary estimates show that 2,000 workers were retrenched in the third quarter of 2008, up from 1,798 in the previous quarter and 1,827 in the third quarter of 2007.

Employment Situation in Third Quarter 2008 [via]

Wubi - Ubuntu Installer

Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click. Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu as any other Windows application, in a simple and safe way. Are you curious about Linux and Ubuntu? Trying them out has never been easier!

Wubi is perfect if you are not familiar with partitions and do not wish to mess with it. Ubuntu latest version 8.10 has just been released.

Wubi [via]

Alan Greenspan 看走眼 Folly

30 Oct 2008MyPaper 我报 has an article on former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, previous quotes on his wrong decisions that could have resulted in the current financial turmoil. He must have wished he never said those. I quote the article "Greenspan 看走眼" below.

“Improvements in lending practices driven by information technology have enabled lenders to reach out to households with previously unrecognised borrowing capacities.” - October 2004

“Even though some down payments are borrowed, it would take a large and histroically most unusual fall in home prices to wipe out a significant part of home equity. Many of those who purchased their residence more than a year ago have equity buffers in their homes adequate to withstand any price decline other than a very deep one.” - October 2004

“The use of a growing array of derivatives and the related application of more sophisticated approaches to measureing and managing risk are key factors underpinning the greater resilie…

Invest Is the Right Way to Fight Inflation

I quote from 30 Oct 2008 copy of MyPaper 我报 titled "Are stocks cheap now? Not really". The below is from Mr Bogle, founder of the investment firm Vanguard Group, whose low-cost index funds have made a lot for a lot of people.

There are some reasons to be optimistic about stocks, he added and that he also looks at the alternatives.

Savings accounts and money-market funds will struggle to keep pace with inflation. Bonds may, as well.

Stocks, however, are paying an average dividend of about 3 per cent, and stocks are almost certain to rise over the next couply of decades.

If that is your time frame - decades - this will probably turn out to be a perfectly good buying opportunity.

In the shorter term, though, it's a much tougher call, and it involves a lot of risk.

Gantt Charts in Google Docs Spreadsheets

As announced on Google Docs official blog, it is now possible to add a Gantt chart onto Google Docs spreadsheet. This is made possible by adding a gadget from Viewpath.

Recently, the Google Docs team started working with Viewpath, a company dedicated to providing project management solutions. In keeping with this commitment, they recently added a Gantt chart gadget to the spreadsheets platform. Here on the Docs team, we're thrilled to have this top-notch external developer contributing their expertise, and adding value to Google Docs. To introduce this gadget, we're happy to have Dean Carlson here as guest blogger. Dean is CEO ofViewpath, and helped in the development of Docs' Gantt chart gadget.

For instructions on how to add the Viewpath gadget, view the below video.

Gantt charts in Google Docs spreadsheets [via]

Classic Conversion of Infix to Postfix

I was doing a quick search on my name on Google and found quite a number of search results. One of them being a September 2002 posting on Experts-Exchange to help answer a C Programming question regarding conversion from Infix to Postfix notation.

The code snippet I posted below is exactly the same one I posted in year 2002. The same code was used during my Diploma days at Singapore Polytechnic.
/*****************************/ /* Programmer : Loh Hon Chun */ /* Adm No : 9852152 */ /* Class : 3A07 */ /* Description: Practical 3 */ /*****************************/ /*************************************************************/ /*************************************************************/ /* ASSUMING INFIX EXPRESSION */ /* IS VALID */ /* !!!!!!!! */ /*************************************************************/ /*************************************************************/ /* include necessary preprocessor header files…

Maybank S$100 Cash Credit Promotion for All Credit Cards

Maybank recently launched an attractive Credit Card promotion. If you were to sign up for a Maybank Credit Card before 31 December 2008, you will be able to enjoy a S$100 cash credit credited into your account when you make your first card spend within a month of receiving your Card. This is exclusive to new applicants.

I have a comment on this latest promotion. If you were to scrutinise through individual Terms and Conditions (T&C) for each card, you will notice eCard Platinum and eCard Vibes cards have a special clause. These 2 credit cards have a hidden clause in their T&C that says cardholder will incur a S$10 quarterly service fee unless there is at least one transaction of any amount being made within the 3 months window.

What will you be getting?You will be entitled a one-time S$100 cash credit credited into your account. This will be printed and confirmed on your first bill statement. T&C says you must make at least one transaction of any amount within a month of rec…

89 Ways for You to Become the Coolest Programmer in the World

Effectize offers 89 tips on how to become the coolest programmer in the world. The full list consisting of 89 tips is very comprehensive and will take quite some time to read and digest. If you are lacking in one or more of the 89 tips, this does not make you not a cool developer, at least in my opinion.

If you think you can, you can.

89 Ways for You to Become the Coolest Programmer in the World [via]

Microsoft Office Now On Web

Microsoft has finally pushed Office on the web. They call it Microsoft Ofice Live Workspace Beta

From the official site, the below are the things you can do with Office Live Workspace and it is all free!

Access files from anywhereAccess documents from almost any computer with a Web browserNo more flash drives—documents are there when and where you need themPassword-protected sharing; you control who can view and edit your workWork with programs you knowSave over 1,000 Microsoft Office documents in one online placeOpen and save files from familiar programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPointSynchronize contact, task, and event lists with OutlookMicrosoft Ofice Live Workspace Beta [via]

MayBank iSavvy Savings and StandChart e$aver Interest Rates

MayBank has just revised their iSavvy Savings Account interest rates. All previous revisions since launch were rate-cuts but this time round, it is an increase. The latest revised interest rates for deposits between S$5,000 and S$50,000 is now 1.08% p.a. from previous 0.88% p.a. effective from 20 October 2008.

iSAVvy's competitor Standard Chartered's e$aver is still offering at 0.50% p.a. for deposits less than S$50,000.

My previous post on e$aver and iSavvy [via]

Value of a Degree

I am writing to comment on today's value in getting a Bachelor's, Honour and Master degrees.

More than 6 years ago, the conventional way of getting a Bachelor's or Honour degree is from a local university, either National University of Singapore (NUS) or Nanyang Technological University (NTU), or from an overseas university. Getting into a local university was quite an achievement those days especially for those from polytechnics because only the top 5% of entire cohort are allowed into local universities. Getting into and graduated from local universities were proud for many.

The current situation is a lot different. Instead of having 2 local universities, we are now seeing 3. Instead of top 5% of poly cohort able to get into local universities, this number is now higher. For those not able to get into local universities or those prefer to choose another route, Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) option is now available. I heard of someone having got a Bachelor's de…

3 Land Investment Companies in Malaysia Raided

An article from the Malaysian Bar mentioned three land investment companies were raided by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). These companies were UK Land International (M) Sdn Bhd, Profitable Plots Sdn Bhd and Edgeworth Properties (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. They are suspected of offering investments in illegal land investment schemes.

More than 2 months ago, I posted an article on Land Banking. I have got no experience in this area of investment but at least I believe one should invest in something that is not structured, transparent and something you are familiar.

I notice Profitable Plots has been quite aggressive in marketing U.K. lands in Singapore. Not only are they doing road shows, they are making TV ads appearances as well. I do not wish to comment on this form of investments but I thought the Singapore government should ensure they are safe and legal.

Companies Commission raids three companies over illegal land investments [via]

Land Banking - Read This First [via]

Pay Comparison Between Singapore and Hong Kong Ministers

According to a 9 Jun 2008 source, there was an outcry on Hong Kong government over fat pay packets. The highest paid of all was said to be their Chief Executive Donald Tsang HK$334,758 (S$58,400) per month or S$700,800 per year.

From a 9 Apr 2007 source, Singapore ministers were said to get an exaggerating fat 60 percent pay hike. This hike was justified by the Singapore government as deemed necessary to keep pace with the private sector. With that, Singapore ministers will get an average of S$1.9 million a year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is said to be receiving S$3.1 million which will be five times the US$400,000 that U.S. president George Bush earns.

Singapore ministers get 60 pct pay hike to S$1.9 mln [via]

HK govt faces outcry over fat pay packets [via]

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew on "Assortative Mating"

According to Wikipedia,

Assortative mating (also called assortative pairing) takes place when sexually reproducing organisms tend to mate with individuals that are like themselves in some respect (positive assortative mating) or dissimilar (negative assortative mating). In evolution, these two types of assortative mating have the effect, respectively, of reducing and increasing the range of variation, or trait variance, when the assorting is cued on heritable traits. Positive assortative mating, therefore, results in disruptive natural selection, and negative assortative mating results in stabilizing natural selection.

Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew recently touched on his definition on "Assortative Mating" in Singapore Human Capital Summit 2008.

MM Lee comments:

“That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduat…

New Worm Found that Takes Advantage of Microsoft Latest Vulnerability

Just one day after a serious vulnerability [MS08-067] on Microsoft Windows that was so critical that Microsoft had to release a security patch ahead of its usual monthly automatic update schedule was found, hackers have taken advantage of it and come out with a worm. The new worm is named Gimmiv. That is just how fast hackers work.

Urgent Windows Security Patch Released [via]

New worm feeds on latest Microsoft bug [via]

Panic Grips Investor Psyche In World Markets

Asian markets plunged again on 24 Oct 2008 after fear of a global recession. The numbers below are scary.

U.S. (24 Oct 2008)Dow Jones IA Down 312.30 (3.59%)
Nasdaq Composite Down 31.34 (3.45%)
S&P 500 Down 51.88 (3.23)Asia / Pacific (24 Oct 2008)All Ordinaries Down 107.70 (2.73%)
Shanghai Composite Down 35.94 (1.92%)
Hang Seng Down 1,142.11 (8.30%)
BSE 30 Down 1,070.63 (10.96%)
Jakarta Composite Down 92.34 (6.91%)
Nikkei 225 Down 811.90 (9.60%)
NZSE 50 Down 28.79 (1.03%)
Straits Times Down 145.39 (8.33%)
Seoul Composite Down 110.96 (10.57%)
Taiwan Weighted Down 150.89 (3.19%)

Comments on Electricity Tariff Hike by The Electric New Paper

On 1 Oct 2008, the Singapore government announced a 21% electricity tariff hike despite Singapore Power reported more than S$1 billion net profit after taxation.

I posted an earlier post last month on Singapore Power and the local power generation companies profitability. They are public utilities companies and should be for-people instead of for-profit. The Singapore government could have done better like the Hong Kongers. Hong Kong instead of increasing electricity tariff, they lower theirs!

Singapore still has a long way to go.

Why 20% hike despite $1 billion profit? [via]

Gmail Emoticons Unveiled

Finally, adding emoticons using Gmail is now possible. This option is loaded automatically to all users who are using rich-text mode when composing email messages.

Do note that there are two page tabs filled with emoticons. Enjoy!

Urgent Windows Security Patch Released

It's time to update your Windows again. A major security vulnerability is unveiled in the Windows Server Service. This vulnerability applies to Windows XP, 2000, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Vista. The bug exposes one's computer to remote code execution and an intruder is able to wreak havoc without your doing anything.

Microsoft Security considers this vulnerability critical and serious enough to release the patch immediately to public instead of waiting for their normal monthly patch on a Tuesday. Microsoft recommends that customers apply the update immediately.

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 – Critical [via]

Convert PDF to Word Online for FREE

There is now a way to convert PDF files to Word format online and all these are FREE. is a free online PDF to Word converter. It's real simple to use and doesn't require your email address or registration. You just upload your PDF document and when the conversion is complete, download your Word document.

Free Online PDF to Word Conversions [via]

CPI for September 2008 at 6.7%

Singapore's consumer price index (CPI) in September 2008 rose 6.7% as compared to the same month of 2007. October's CPI could be higher than September's due to increase in electricity tariff and zero appreciation of the Singapore dollar. We shall wait next month for October's report.

From current inflationary figures, inflation rate is not going to ease as wished.

Consumer Price Index for September 2008 [via]

Bill Gates Has Started a New Company, bgC3

After stepping down as Chief Software Architect of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates has started a new company, called bgC3. The aim of the new company still remains unknown but speculators are speculating bgC3 could possibly act as a catalyst creating catalyst business ideas to spin off to Microsoft, the Gates Foundation or elsewhere. Gates' move is particularly secretive in the sense and no public website is created for it yet.

Bill Gates' mysterious new company [via]

Help for Minibond Investors

Maybank, Hong Leong Finance and DBS will to pay compensation with the 'highly vulnerable', including the elderly and less educated, heading the queue.

And those who do not fall into this category also had hopeful news on Wednesday when the MAS announced that two international institutions may take over the Minibond programme and let them run their course.

Help for Minibond Investors [via]

Advanced IP Scanner

Advanced IP Scanner is a fast, robust and easy-to-use IP scanner for Windows. It easily lets you have various types of information about local network computers in a few seconds! Advanced IP Scanner gives you one-click access to many useful functions - remote shutdown and wake up, Radmin integration and more! Powered with multithread scan technology, this program can scan hundreds computers per second, allowing you to scan 'C' or even 'B' class network even from your modem connection.

Advanced IP Scanner [via]

Gmail to Move Previously Auto-Added Contacts Out

Approximately 3 months ago, Gmail announced decision to stop automatically adding contacts to your contacts whom you may not even know who they are. Now, they have gone one step further. According to a post on Gmail blog, previously auto-added contacts will be moved into Suggested Contacts.

As part of this change, we're moving previously auto-added contacts back into Suggested Contacts. Only contacts that you've edited, imported or added to a group will remain in My Contacts. This will provide everyone with a clean slate and, we hope, a better point for syncing contacts with mobile devices (for example with Android). We'll be rolling this change out to everyone over the next few days.

More changes to Gmail contact manager [via]

Lehman Minibonds Prospectus Is a Lengthy 84 Pages Document

Many Singapore investors have lost life savings or retirement funds buying Lehman minibonds thinking they are safe but in fact were the other way round.

If you are curious to read the prospectus, you may do so from here. A warning to you is that the prospectus is a thick lengthy 84 pages document, filled with several business terms and jargon which are not easy to be understood by retail investors.

Minibonds 84 pages prospectus [via]

Warren Buffett Investment Tips - Buy American. I Am.

Op-Ed Contributor
Buy American. I Am.

Published: October 16, 2008

THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.


A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly l…

MAS Stance On Sale of Structured Investment Products

A couple of days ago, Minister for Trade and Industry and Deputy Chairman of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Mr Lim Hng Kiang, made a speech on MAS stance on the sale of structured investment products that have caused so much anxiety and anger in the Singapore community.

From a Straits Times article,

Mr Lim also said that if the issue is taken to court, 'nothing will move' amid the legal wrangling.

All financial institutions, everybody will freeze and take legal defensive actions and then your affected investors will have to wait weeks if not months, maybe even years before they can have recourse. I don't think that's the best approach.

The Minister said that the product's prospectus would have outlined the risks: 'These are explained in the first page or second page , that these are structured products and it's in bold print, that you can lose everything.

So MAS has never said that these are risk-free products or low-risk products or safe products.


My Master of Computing Application Accepted

After 2 months of wait, my Master of Computing (MComp) application is now approved. The specialization I have applied for is Information Technology Project Management (ITPM). MComp is offered by National University of Singapore, School of Computing. This is a 2 years part time programme.

As a "kiasu" Singaporean, I also applied for Master of Technology (MTech) offered by National University of Singapore, Institute of Systems Science. The specialization I have applied for is Software Engineering (SE). This is a 2.5 years part time programme. Though result of this application is yet to be released, I am pretty confident of it being approved since its selection criteria is less stringent.

I personally prefer MTech more to MComp.

One Milestone Down And More to Go

I was pretty busy for the past 1 week preparing for today's examination on ITIL v3 Foundation. Finally, I am now ITIL v3 Foundation certified.

From tomorrow onwards, I shall be moving on to clear my many planned milestones for the year. Recalling my Java skills followed by brushing up on UML and Windows Mobile development are my immediate priorities.

My milestones though tight are definitely achievable.

Comment On MAS Actions On Current Mini-bonds Issue

I quote a comment posted on a blog below. It shows how a Singaporean impression on the present government.

I think Singaporeans had faith in our govt all these years. This is the reason why they have always gotten over sixty percent of the votes.

It is also very clear that our obedience and preference for leaving it to our govt to do the best is not working very well. For example, I saw on TVBJ, a HK channel, how the HK governor spoke so convincingly and so strongly for the people, demanding that the banks hurry up to respond while here in Singapore the common folks are asking MAS to hurry up without a response. I conclude therefore that having highly paid officers is not the answer to an effective administration or govt but rather a balanced representation in parliament is. I saw how opposition legislators pressured the administration for results and how the common people are able to protest and get things done faster. Here, we just silently obey and get nothing, not even more good yea…

Singapore Government to Guarantee All SingDollar and Foreign Deposits

The Singapore government has announced decision to guarantee all Sing dollar and foreign currencies deposits in a recent press release. All along, the Singapore government has emphasized unnecessary of a full guarantee because the local banking and finance industry is sound and robust. Their decision as announced today is indeed shocking to me.

I quote an excerpt of the press release from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) site and highlighted some of my interest.

4. In the last week, several jurisdictions have taken extraordinary measures to stabilise financial markets and restart the flow of credit. In particular, recent plans by the European and US Governments to recapitalise their banking systems and guarantee bank borrowings in the wholesale markets have improved confidence.

5. Singapore has not had to undertake similar extraordinary measures, in view of the continuing stability and orderly functioning of the Singapore banking system. However, the announcement by a few juri…

Structured Products Saga to Resolve Quickly Else

The current structured investment products saga that have resulted in many including retirees losing substantial amount of life savings and retirement funds is certainly not going to help the image of the current Singapore government. If no reasonable or satisfactory resolution is agreed in regards to compensation to investors, confidence in the current regulatory body, government, banks and financial institutions are to drop.

I hope the Monetary Authority of Singapore can take more affirmative steps like their Hong Kong counterparts in handling this issue. I have read many from online cyberspaces voicing their displeasure.

We need the leadership of MAS badly.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3.1 Beta 1 Released

Yesterday, Mozilla released Firefox 3.1 Beta. To use the beta version, one has to install the new package. has unveiled a portable version of Firefox 3.1 beta. With the portable version, there is no need to perform any installation. To run, one needs to simply run the executable and bring Firefox along with you together with your bookmarks. This will not going to affect your existing Firefox installation.

I shall be trying out this portable version instead of the one from Firefox website.

Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3.1 Beta 1 Released [via]
Firefox 3.1 Beta Released [via]

Hong Kong Chief Executive Talks Tough On Minibonds

Today, the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, has voiced his concerns over the handling of mini-bonds by banks. His statement over this issue is very strong and has demanded banks to reply by this week. He appears to have lost his patience.

The Hong Kong chief executive appears to be losing his patience with banks over their handling of mini-bonds linked to bankrupt US bank Lehman Brothers - insisting they respond swiftly to a government buy-back proposal and warning the administration may fund legal action by mini-bond investors."They cannot keep dragging on," he said in a strongly worded message after delivering his policy address.

Mr Donald toughness over the banks has gained my admiration. He has exhibited his leadership and putting his ordinary men and women top priority. In comparison with Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) does not seem to have reacted in a way I would like them to be. Till date, MAS and banks in Singapore have not made progress …

Internet Usage Helps Stimulates Brain

Scientists have concluded usage of Internet would stimulate brain activity and serve as a potential benefit for middle-aged and older adults.

The team of researchers reached the conclusion that as long as we keep the brain stimulated with activities, we should be able to prevent it from losing its cognitive ability and help it preserve its health. The Internet seems to be the new crossword puzzle for adults, and this is just the beginning, as scientists now start to understand more of the benefits of technology on an aging brain.

That's good news!

Internet – The Stimulus That Keeps The Aging Brain Active [via]

Firefox 3.1 Beta Released

Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 is based on the Gecko 1.9.1 rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 6 months. Gecko 1.9.1 is an incremental release on the previous version with significant changes to improve web compatibility, performance, and ease of use:Web standards improvements in the Gecko layout engineAdded support for CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 propertiesA new tab-switching shortcut that shows previews of the tab you're switching toImproved control over the Smart Location Bar using special characters to restrict your searchSupport for new web technologies such as the and elements, the W3C Geolocation API, JavaScript query selectors, web worker threads, SVG transforms and offline applications. More information.New Firefox beta even faster than FF3

Firefox 3.1 Beta Release Notes

Mozilla, Ajaxian Partner to Create Developer Tools

Mozilla this week hired Ajaxian co-founders Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith to head up a new group that will focus on the creation of developer tools for the open Web.

From the below article, we could be seeing developer tools that are easier to use when developing compelling software. Details on the coming project is set to be released in the coming weeks.

Mozilla, Ajaxian Partner to Create Developer Tools,2817,2332465,00.asp

U.S. Government to Invest in 9 Major Banks

Yesterday morning, the U.S. government announced plans to buy stakes in 9 major banks to calm market. The government will directly invest up to US$250 billion in banks, and to guarantee new debt issued by banks for the next three years.

Half of the US$250 billion, which will come from the US$700 billion bailout approved by Congress weeks ago, will be received by Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York and State Street Bank.

Money Distribution

US$25 billion apiece
• Citigroup
• JPMorgan Chase
• Wells Fargo

US$12.5 billion apiece
• Bank of America
• Merrill Lynch

US$10 billion apiece
• Goldman Sachs
• Morgan Stanley

US$2-3 billion apiece
• Bank of New York
• State Street

One word to describe Google Reader

Official Google Reader blog made a post on how users describe the experience in using Google Reader. There were some rather interesting but not easy to figure out what they really meant. Some of these are like Wunderbar, Cromulent, creamy-goodness and Pineapple.

If I were to give my one word to describe Google Reader, Mouse-Free would be proper since I hardly use my mouse when using Google Reader.

One word to describe Google Reader...

RBS, HBOS and Lloyds TSB Nationalised

ROYAL Bank of Scotland (RBS), HBOS and Lloyds TSB, three of Britain's leading banks, have effectively been nationalised after the British government announced plans to take significant stake in these 3 banks to "save" them.

The picture above tells all on the stake.

HTC G1 Android Phone Already Secured 1.5 Million Pre-orders

With HTC G1 smartphone launch months back, it is set to be the first smartphone with the new Google Android OS.

According to eFluxMedia, HTC G1 Android phone has already received 1.5 million pre-orders. This figure is very much more than what the makers have wished for initially.

HTC G1 Android Phone Racks Up 1.5 Million Pre-orders

How to Start a YouTube Video Anywhere You Desire

Ever wish to embed a YouTube video and start and seek to somewhere in the middle which is interesting? It is now possible by passing in a parameter to 2 parts of the flash code block.

The parameter to include is &start=[seconds to start from].

I used the below YouTube video on how it is working in Google as my example. The video will start from the 27th second, skipping the introduction part and going straight to the exciting part of the video. The code fragment I used to embed the video is as below:<br /><object width="425" height="344"><br /><param name="movie" value=""></param><br /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><br /><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="t…

Monetary Authority of Singapore to Ease Monetary Policy

In view of current weak GDP data, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has decided to ease the Singapore dollar (SGD) for the first time since 2003.

Unlike many other central banks who usually adjust key interest rate, the MAS manages the Singapore dollar in an undisclosed, unadjusted weighted average value of its currency relative to all major currencies being traded within a basket of currencies. This exchange rate, a.k.a. Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER), is to be shifted from the earlier gradual appreciation band to zero-appreciation, as announced by the MAS. MAS will maintain the current level of the policy band, with no re-centering of the band or change to its width. This act is to attempt to to slow the appreciation of Singapore dollar to support the export-driven economy.

10 Oct 2008 - MAS Monetary Policy Statement

What does S$NEER Stands for?

Singapore 0.5% 3Q GDP Decline Brings Us to Recession

On 10 Oct 2008, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced that Singapore quarter-to-quarter GDP estimates for 3Q declined by 0.5%. As such, GDP for year 2008 is revised to a mere 3.0%.

This latest economic report effectively put Singapore into a technical recession.

MTI Revises 2008 Growth to Around 3.0 per cent

Piles of Bank Notes Needed for Shopping in Zimbawe

On July 2008, the Zimbawe central bank introduced $100 billion banknotes in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages. A $100 billion banknote which is equivalent to 1 USD is now only enough to buy four oranges. With such hyperinflation happening, the number of people living in poverty must have increased at an alarming rate. Someone who is relatively rich can end up in poverty the next day. This reminds me of those days in Germany after WWI in 1923 whereby banknotes were so worthless that it was cheaper to burn them than buying firewood. That time, they also had banknotes that hit 100 billion mark.

Zimbabwe reported an inflation rate of 2,200,000 (2.2 million) percent. Buying even a small item will require you to bring piles of notes. This is exactly what is happening to Zimbawe at the moment.

I attach some interesting photos forwarded to me via email.

Zimbawe Introduces $100 Billion Dollar Notes After 2.2 Million Percent Inflation…

Gmail Labs Introduces Mail Goggles

Google strives to make the world's information useful. Mail you send late night on the weekends may be useful but you may regret it the next morning. Solve some simple math problems and you're good to go. Otherwise, get a good night's sleep and try again in the morning. After enabling this feature, you can adjust the schedule in the "General" settings page.

Google Gmail Labs introduces Mail Goggles to prevent you from sending emails you shouldn't have sent if you are sober enough. Mail Goggles can be enabled from Labs section under Settings.

I personally feel this new beta feature is useless and utterly waste of time and resources. If one is "drunk", simply don't email.

Google Goggles prevents EUI – emails under the influence

New in Labs: Stop sending mail you later regret

Second Opinion On Side Effect of Short Selling

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has extended ban of short selling on securities of financial institutions to Oct 17. According to a release by the SEC, this move is to protect investors to maintain fair and orderly securities markets.

However, Ludwig von Mises Institute has a different view. Read their view here.

The SEC Short Sells Us Down the River

SEC: Extend Ban on short selling of securities on financial securities

Opera Browser Release Version 9.6

Opera browser just released version 9.6 and it says "fast" is the key improvement for this version. I ain't Opera fanatic so am now able to comment on the new version.

Opera 9.6 for Windows Changelog

Opera 9.6 for Linux Changelog

Opera 9.6 for Mac Changelog

Download Opera here

Monkeys work in Japanese restaurant

The below article and video by BBC is indeed interesting.

A restaurant in Japan has some unusual waiting staff on its books - two macaque monkeys.

Yatchan and Fukuchan serve customers hot towels and drinks, and are given soya beans as tips.

The monkeys are family pets who have been allowed to help in the bar. Animal rights regulations mean the premises have been visited to ensure the creatures are not being mistreated.

How to Get Back Desktop and Taskbar Without Rebooting?

A friend of mine asked if there is a method to get back lost desktop and taskbar so unsaved changes can be performed, all without the need to reboot. I bet this is a common problem among many.

I offered the below steps.Use Ctrl+Shift+Esc key combination to launch Windows Task Manager.From Windows Task Manager, click File -> New Task (Run...).Type explorer.exe.Click OK.Your desktop and taskbar are back!

Singapore Heading for Recession

Singapore appears to be heading for its first recession since 2002 amid global suffering its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Singapore government is expected to announce its 3Q GDP this coming Friday (10 Oct). The Monetary Authority of Singapore is expected to ease monetary policy on Friday to boost export since inflationary pressure is easing and manufacturing data is weak. Singapore manufacturing output for August 2008 dropped 12.2% and this does not look optimistic for the coming GDP report.

The possibility of a technical recession, which is two consecutive quarter-on-quarter declines in growth in the GDP is more prominent than ever.

Recession looms for Singapore: economists

Singapore Manufacturing Output Drops 12.2% in August 2008

Asia / Pacific Bourses Plunge Plunge Plunge

Asian markets plunged on 8 Oct 2008 after fear of credit crisis spreading to Europe. The numbers below are scary.

U.S. (7 Oct 2008)Dow Jones IA Down 508.39 (5.11%)
Nasdaq Composite Down 108.08 (5.80%)
S&P 500 Down 60.66 (5.74)Asia / Pacific (8 Oct 2008)All Ordinaries Down 228.10 (4.96%)
Shanghai Composite Down 65.61 (3.04%)
Hang Seng Down 1,372.03 (8.17%)
BSE 30 Down 289.51 (2.48%)
Jakarta Composite Down 168.05 (10.38%)
KLSE Composite Down 27.04 (2.71%)
Nikkei 225 Down 952.58 (9.38%)
NZSE 50 Down 55.88 (1.86%)
Straits Times Down 143.94 (6.61%)
Seoul Composite Down 79.41 (5.81%)
Taiwan Weighted Down 318.26 (5.76%)

The Seven R’s of Change Management

The below seven simple R's questions assist in assessing changed-related risk and in identifying any impact and the effectiveness of such changes in a change management process.

The 7 R'sWho RAISED the change?What is the REASON for it?What RETURN is required?What are the RISKS involved?What RESOURCES are required to deliver it?Who is RESPONSIBLE for build, test and implementation?What is the RELATIONSHIP with other changes?

A Look At Wall Street's Shadow Market - Credit Default Swaps

A recap on what exactly is Credit Default Swaps,

A credit default swap (CDS) is a credit derivative contract between two counterparties, whereby the "buyer" or "fixed rate payer" pays periodic payments to the "seller" or "floating rate payer" in exchange for the right to a payoff if there is a default or "credit event" in respect of a third party or "reference entity".

From the CBSNews video below, Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former director of trading and markets for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, said

It is an insurance contract, but they've been very careful not to call it that because if it were insurance, it would be regulated. So they use a magic substitute word called a 'swap,' which by virtue of federal law is deregulated

These complex financial instruments and very structured were designed by mathematicians and physicists, who used algorithms and computer mode…

Hong Kong Minibond Buyback Proposal

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government has proposed that banks to buy back Lehman Brothers minibonds from customers.

I thought this is something to cheerful about seeing Hong Kong taking care of retail investors Trustee, HSBC, commented the buyback will not be 100%.

CNBC Video - Lehman's Minibond Meltdown

Small investors who parked their funds in Lehman Brothers' MiniBonds have witnessed their savings evaporating with the collapse of the investment bank. As CNBC's Sri Jegarajah reports, they're crying foul and are demanding explanations as to why these structured products that were sold to them as safe investments.

CNBC Video - Lehman's Minibond Meltdown

Google Gears and Its Direction

Many have misconceptions towards what Google Gears is all about. When Google Gears was first introduced around one and a half year ago, many including myself thought purpose of Gears is to enable offline capabilities of web. However, if one were to venture to Gears website, it says otherwise. The overall goal of Gears is to make your web applications run as if you are running desktop apps.

From Gears website,

Gears is an open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser:Let web applications interact naturally with your desktopStore data locally in a fully-searchable databaseRun JavaScript in the background to improve performanceGoogle Gears

A Fresh Look At Google Gears

Vice Presidential Nominees Debate Between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden 2008

Vice Presidential nominees Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) participated in the one and only 2008 Vice Presidential debate.

The questions being discussed are as below:Financial Bill: Best or Worst of Washington?How to reduce polarization in Washington?Who was at fault in subprime mortgage situation?Why are your tax policies not "Class Warfare"?Due to financial situation, what Promises can't you keep?Do you support legislation to help homeowners in bankruptcy?What is true and false about causes of climate change?Do you support caps on carbon emissions?Do you support granting benefits to same-sex couples?What is your exit strategy for Iraq?Which is a greater threat: Nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?Should U.S. engage diplomatically with enemies?What has Bush Administration done right regarding Israel?When should nuclear weapons be used?Will American support sending troops to Darfur?How would a Biden/Palin Administration differ from an Obama/Mc…

Completed ITIL v3 Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management

I have completed my ITIL (Version 3) Foundation Certificate in IT Service Management today. It was a 3 full days course with an examination. I thought this is a good-to-know knowledge and so went for the course even though my organization does not really use ITIL extensively. However, some aspects of ITIL is being used and I believe it is relevant for many other industries as well.

Other interesting frameworks are Six Sigma, COBIT, PMBOK and CMMI.

Banks in Hong Kong in Private Talks With Investors to Avoid Lehman Suits

Three banks are secretly negotiating with angry investors to prevent being taken to court over the distribution of Lehman Brothers minibonds, according to sources.

According to the source, the banks involved are Dah Sing Bank, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) and Mevas Bank, which is part of the Dah Sing Banking Group.

Banks in `secret' deals to avoid Lehman suits

How to Disable Notification Balloon Tips On System Tray?

Below is a tip on how to disable notification balloon tips on system tray in Windows. Even though this will work, I do not recommend it unless you have a very good reason. Disabling notification balloon tips will end up not showing potential Windows System notification errors as reported by Windows itself.From Windows Start Menu, click Run
Type regedit
Press ENTER key
In the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
Create a new DWORD value and name it EnableBalloonTips
Assign the new DWORD value hexadecimal data value of 0
Restart Windows

DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund May Not be Guaranteed

DBS just sent out a letter to all customers who had bought fund called "DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund". This is a guaranteed fund that guarantees better interest as compared to the miserable fixed deposits.

In the letter, it mentions Banque AIG guarantees the fund to be guaranteed. Banque AIG being a subsidiary of almost made bankrupt AIG is possible of not honouring the guarantee and agreements that come with the fund should parent AIG were to collapse. Hence, "DBS Triple Happiness Capital Guaranteed Fund" will no longer be guaranteed and is thus exposed to all the stock indexes that DBS Asset Management invested in.

I bet no customers or even any Relationship Managers (RM) are aware of an involvement of a third party that fit into this "Guarantor" equation.

True Life Story of a Miser

The below depicts a true life story of a miser. Some may look hard to believe but they are of absolute truth. From Wikipedia,

"A miser is a person who is reluctant to spend money, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts."Managed to save $2.50 per week given 50 cents of allowance a day for a 5-day week during primary school days.
Amazingly able to maintain an average $10 spending on food over 5 working days. This amount will be reduced if there is a tea session planned for or no one eats with him because under these 2 hard to come by "lucky" days, money can be saved.
Pay day is one of the most "count-down" days.
Monthly expenditure account opening day is short-lived since it is closed almost immediately, complaining of negative budget yet again.
Newspapers soon become collectibles after knowing they worth quite a bit if sold for recycling.
Travelling by foot is the default mode of transport whenever wherever possible even if it means more than 15 …

21% Electricity Tariff Hike Justifiable?

From today (1 Oct 2008) onwards, Singapore's electricity tariff and public transport fares are to go up. Electricity tariff is to go up by a hard-to-believe 21% and transport fares is to go up by 4 cents for a single trip. These 2 increases will be difficult for many Singaporeans. The Energy Market Authority cited fuel price increase as the main reason for the 21% hike.

Singapore Power reported S$1.086 billion profit net profit after taxation for FY07/08. This is a 72.3% increase as compared to FY03/04. An extremely healthy gain. [via]

Power generation company, Tuas Power Station, reported S$177.163 million net profit for FY2007, an increase of 70.2% from S$104.086 million in FY2006. [via]

Power generation company, Senoko Power, reported S$130.204 million net profit for FY2007/2008. This net profit is a 6.9% drop as compared to FY2006/2007 partly due to an increase in income tax expenses. [via]

Power generation company, Power Seraya, reported 6% revenue increase (S$2.793 billion UP), …

Google Tenth Birthday Site

In its Google 10th year in the Web Search industry, they have come out with a site specially to commemorate this. Click on the "View Timeline" image button to view the major events that had happened for the past 10 years.

The 3 callouts under Google Timeline section show some of the interesting Google stories. Refresh the page to see different stories.

Google Tenth Birthday Site