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Friday, July 31, 2009

Bursa's Malaysia Enhancements

Effective 3 August 2009, Bursa Malaysia will introduce the following changes:

Offloaded Healthway Medical Today

After queuing for a week, I finally managed to sell off my remaining Healthway Medical shares at S$0.115 per share. The gain in the sale is a 15 per cent.

I am now left with just five stocks in my stock portfolio and they are Singapore Exchange, Singapore Technologies, SMRT, Marco Polo Marine and UMS Holdings.

I am still trying very hard to offload UMS Holdings.

Insurance funds need more transparency

Insurance funds need more transparency
Straits Times
31 Jul 2009

Distribution of bonuses is still a mystery to many policyholders

FOR a mass market product, insurance ranks among the most difficult financial products to understand. To raise the comfort level of consumers, the insurance industry has stepped up its efforts to better inform consumers, but there is still room for improvement.

For instance, policyholders are only now waking up to the fact that the way insurers go about operating the so-called participating (par) fund still remains largely a mystery. This is despite the past efforts of insurers to enhance the transparency and disclosure requirements of these funds.

To recap: The premiums that policyholders pay for their par plans, such as for whole life and endowment, go into a common pool called the par fund. This fund is invested in a variety of assets such as equities, property and fixed income to provide policyholders with a stable return.

As a participating policyholder, you get to share in the profits of this fund in the form of annual and terminal bonuses. These bonuses are determined on the basis of the fund's past and future potential performance, claims and expenses.

These policies are particularly popular in Singapore, with 3.5 million par policies with total assets of more than $50 billion. Yet, despite their popularity, many policyholders are dissatisfied with the way the funds are administered and bonuses are declared.

To their credit, insurers did take measures last year to close the information gap for these funds. Prior to the changes, most insurers did not disclose the returns (or losses) on their funds, their targeted rate of returns and payout levels, or the funds' investment strategy and allocation mix. As a result of the measures implemented in March last year, it is now compulsory for insurers to disclose annually how they invest the premiums they collect as well as the performance of the funds.

So why are policyholders still dissatisfied? It boils down to two reasons.

First, they are still in the dark as to how insurers decide the distribution of bonuses. It does not help that following a deterioration in financial markets late last year, several insurers appear to have cut both the annual and terminal bonuses this year. In some cases, the reduction in annual bonuses was as high as 50 per cent or more.

Annual bonuses are bonuses added to the policy annually. Once declared, annual bonuses increase the amount of money that policyholders are guaranteed to get back once their policies mature.

Terminal bonuses are meant as loyalty bonuses to reward policyholders who hold their plans till maturity. They typically form a large portion of a policy's projected value and are more sizeable than the annual bonus. So when insurers remove or reduce the terminal bonus, it usually involves a substantial amount. Both annual and terminal bonuses are not guaranteed.

While it is clear why there is a need to cut bonuses in bad years, insurers have explained that it is also necessary to set aside some surplus in the fund in the good years so as to ride out the bad years. This principle of 'smoothing' allows insurers to manage through good and bad times, and it also means that any bonus change will be gradual. As a result of cutting both the annual and terminal bonuses, many insurance firms have accumulated a large amount of undistributed profit.

This brings us to the second reason for discontent among customers. Policyholders are uncomfortable that insurers appear to have full control as to how they can use the par fund to fund their management expenses. After all, it is the policyholders' premiums that contribute to the par funds. The so-called management expenses may range from paying sales commissions to advisers to covering the cost of recruiting advisers.

Insurers can always justify that such expenses are for the benefit of policyholders. If the expenses serve to attract more premiums, more can be added to the par fund, and more can potentially be distributed as bonuses in the future. But how would such expenses benefit policyholders whose policies have already matured? Furthermore, there is no way for policyholders to find out if the distribution of bonuses has been fair.

It is no wonder that par policies have fallen out of favour in the United States and in Britain. The British government has imposed a lot of rules on the industry to make the policies more transparent.

For instance, in Britain, the term 'inherited estate' is used to describe the part of the par fund that is over and above what is needed to meet the fund's immediate liabilities, such as payments to policyholders and expenses. The term recognises that the 'inherited estate' has been built up over many years and would include past generations of policyholders' premiums that have been retained and not distributed. The 'inherited estate' may also include past injections of money from shareholders in the insurance companies.

The British authorities acknowledge that insurers do use some of the capital from the fund to support their activities outside the fund, such as to reduce general management costs. But the British authorities have decided that insurers can use the funds for such purposes only if they buy out the interests of the policyholders in the 'inherited estate'. Policyholders typically receive a one-off cash payment as compensation for the interests they are giving up. The payment can be paid out to policyholders and shareholders according to their shares in the fund. The payment can be in the form of increasing the value of the policy or as cash, and may be paid out at once or over a period of time.

Perhaps the authorities and the life insurance industry here can study the British system and consider something along the same lines here.

The recent saga over failed structured products has highlighted the importance of consumer confidence in financial institutions. It is always prudent to act proactively to protect consumer rights. After all, consumers do not want to be taken for a ride and it is only a matter of time before they get wiser.

Let us not wait for another scandal before we act.

Too tired to write about my complaint

I just made a complaint to Challenger on Wednesday on their very poor customer service. I guess I can only blog on this days later after my mind recovers from my current very lethargic state.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I am getting tired with my work. August will be a busy month for me and with milestones on almost every single day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Office Hours: How Bill Gates uses Office

The below blog post by Bill Gates reveals how Gates uses Office. Basically, he maintains 3 monitors at the same time while checking his mailbox, typing documents, online chatting and collaborating.

Office Hours: How Bill Gates uses Office [via]

Times Online article on Temasek Holdings Indecisiveness

"For now, the fund will remain under the control of its current chief executive, Ho Ching — unpopular because of her perceived mismanagement through the crisis. Her status as both head of one of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds and wife of the Prime Minister symbolises for many the overly cosy nature of Singapore’s political and financial elite."

Singapore’s Temasek scraps plan to bring in Chip Goodyear [via]

COE supply may fall to nine-year low

That's bad news. Decrease in supply will just mean increase in COE prices. Does this mean my plan in getting a car next year is to be postponed?

COE supply may fall to nine-year low [via]

Monday, July 27, 2009

SMRT issues 309 notifications of offences

Easy money for SMRT.

SMRT issues 309 notifications of offences [via]

Sun Yan zi - One United People

Best ever modern NDP song.

Bought Marco Polo Marine and SMRT shares

I bought Marco Polo Marine and SMRT shares today at a price of S$0.395 and S$1.75 respectively. Marco Polo Marine close price is S$0.385 from previous close of S$0.395 while SMRT close price is S$1.75 from previous close of S$1.82. In other words, I managed to buy SMRT at 3.9 per cent discount from last Friday's price. SMRT shares dropped by quite a bit because they exercise dividend today.

I shall keep SMRT shares for long term but will sell off Marco Polo Marine once there is more than 15 per cent profit.

Hai Leck Plunged as Expected

I managed to sell off Hai Leck shares at intraday high of $0.265 per piece on Aug 23. The sell off was made possible after an unusually high volume and an increase of almost 50 per cent over a month's period. The high volume was due to a married deal. I see the rally not sustainable and is not based on fundamentals.

As expected, Hai Leck plunged more than 14 per cent today to close at S$0.215. Those who have bought it higher than S$0.215 may need some time before they can breakeven.

No time for inputs

I guess I can only read on the move. I do not have the luxury of time now. Will it get worse once school term starts next month?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel Route from Home to Workplace

The above shows the travel route from my home to my workplace using Lornie Road. Total distance is 15.2km.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Buffett proves investment skill again

Buffett proves investment skill again
Business Times - 25 Jul 2009

WARREN Buffett showed again why he is known as one of the world's best investors, thanks in part to another prominent investor, Goldman Sachs.

Mr Buffett's stake in Goldman is now worth US$9.1 billion, or about US$4.1 billion more than what he paid 10 months ago, according to an analysis by Linus Wilson, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

According to Prof Wilson's calculations, Mr Buffett would realise an annualised return of 111 per cent, if he sold his Goldman stake, which is held by his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.

In comparison, the federal government received a 23 per cent annualised return for its Goldman investment.

Goldman turned to Mr Buffett last September, seeking a cash injection. In return, Mr Buffett negotiated what was considered even then to be very favourable terms.

Berkshire Hathaway received perpetual preferred shares in Goldman, which pay a 10 per cent annual dividend, or US$500 million a year.

Berkshire Hathaway also received warrants to buy US$5 billion in common stock at a strike price of US$115 a share, which could be used at any time within five years of the initial investment.

Prof Wilson ascribed a US$5.5 billion valuation to Mr Buffett's preferred shares and US$3.2 billion to the warrants. He also calculated that Berkshire's reinvested dividends from the Goldman stake are worth about US$400 million.

The analysis was based on Goldman's closing share price of US$160.46 on Wednesday. -- NYT

Petition to Prime Minister on Fair Compensation in Credit-Linked Notes Losses

Ex-CEO of NTUC Income, Mr Tan Kin Lian, is taking the lead in getting signatures from victims of credit-linked notes offered by the Singapore financial institutions and sending the petition to the Prime Minister of Singapore for fair compensation.

His attempt to seek coverage from 10 journalists from local media failed and none even dared to get back to him. Since none are willing to stand out and cover the news and be righteous enough for fellow Singaporeans, this news can only be passed around using social networking means.

Please broadcast this message to your contacts by email, Facebook and other social networks:

"Mr. Tan Kin Lian is organising a Petition to the Prime Minister to ask him to assist the investors to get similar compensation given to investors in Hong Kong. Please inform the people who are affected by the credit-linked notes to sign the Petition. The blog is"

The petition letter can be found below.

As of now, there are a total of 536 signatures.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Full-time NSF tried for not cutting his hair and consuming SAF food

PTE Madana Mohan Das was tried in court for not complying regulations to have his hair cut and consuming food provided by the SAF. Based purely on the article by MINDEF, I would feel the private deserves no sympathy for his court trial. He deserves to be charged and put behind detention barrack for his non-compliance. Each year, thousands of male recruits undergo 2-years of compulsory National Service (NS) and all are required to comply with the standards laid by SAF. I see no reason why PTE Madana should be exempted and treated differently.

MINDEF response to court trial of PTE Madana Mohan Das [via]

Just picked a stock

After some research on what stock to buy, I manage to single out one such company. I shall reveal the company if I manage to buy it next week.

The company being picked is expected to deliver approximately over 80 per cent rise in earnings estimates for FY10.

One possible reason for unusually high volume on Hai Leck shares

Yesterday (Jul 23), I sold off 10,000 Hai Leck shares at its intraday high of S$0.265 per share. Today, the price closed at S$0.25 unchanged from yesterday's.

I understand one of the reason behind the unusually high volume in the shares is because of a shareholder buying substantial amount of shares and increasing his ownership by 4.92 per cent all in a single day - Yesterday. The increase in share ownership is part of a married deal and I see it as a possible one-time increase.

Yesterday's high volume has increased interest on this stock but I am not sure how long will it last, given Hai Leck's corporate website does not give much information to investors.

Reds' skipper Gerrard found 'not guilty' of affray

I am very shocked and amazed by this outcome.

Reds' skipper Gerrard found 'not guilty' of affray [via]

Help Needed: Create GeoTiff Files


Anyone knows how to create a GeoTiff file? I have the below information.

WGS 1984
The Lat/Lon in degrees of a four-cornered image.
The rotation in degrees
Pixel size
Width/Length of image

A good reference is appreciated.

My question on Experts-Exchange

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live webcams for polyclinics

Queue Watch is designed to provide you with timely information to plan your visit. It displays the following for respective polyclinics:
  1. Number of patients waiting for registration and consultation

  2. Live webcam images showing the waiting areas for registration, consultation and pharmacy/payment

  3. Peak & non-peak periods
Quick Watch Service [via]

Exciting trading week

Monday profit taking on Koh Brothers continued today after I sold off all Epure International shares at a price of S$0.565 per share. Gain on Epure International is approximately at 14%. Reason for the sell-off is purely on profit taking.

An unexpected interest and high trading volume on Hai Leck shares made sell-off of my only 10,000 Hai Leck shares possible today too. The shares was bought at S$0.26 per share at IPO and is now sold off at just S$0.265 per share. This sell-off resulted in a small calculated loss inclusive of brokerage charges, however, this small loss is reversed into a small profit by an earlier distributed dividend. Reason for this sell-off is to get on with my life.

After three sell-off in a week, I am now left with just four stocks in my stock portfolio and they are Singapore Exchange, Singapore Technologies, UMS Holdings and Healthway Medical. I am planning to offload UMS Holdings and Healthway Medical soon.

你的愛情..在哪邊~?? ( 造成韓國轟動的廣告 )

Andy Xie view on current economic conditions

Stimulus, Storytelling and Bouncing Bears

20 Jul 2009

There is a saying on the stock market: Sell in May, and go away. Fund managers tend to take summer holidays. Before leaving, they tend to shift portfolios into conservative positions. In statistics jargon, this means decreasing the portfolio beta. When all fund managers do this, it amounts to a significant reduction in risk appetite that can push the market down.

What's occurring now seems to affirm this saying. Stock markets around the world (except China's A-share market) have been trending down since mid-June. The S&P 500 Index bottomed in early March at 676, peaked at 946 in mid-June, and declined to 901 by July 13. Similarly, the Hang Seng Index bottomed at 11,345 in early March, peaked at 18,888 on June 1, and declined to 17,663 on July 13. Other stock markets have shown similar trends. Odds are that the declining trend will continue into August.

At the end of 2008, I predicted a big bear market bounce in spring 2009. The bounce would fizzle out in the fourth quarter 2009 as inflation concerns trigger expectations of an interest rate increase. I modified this view two months ago to add a correction in the middle of the bear market rally, i.e. the market would be M shaped in 2009.

The reason for the change was that economic data failed to improve as fast as the market hoped. Disappointment would cause a mid-year dip. The market was excited by improving production data in the second quarter. I thought this was mainly due to the inventory cycle, and that final demand data would disappoint. Economic data so far has affirmed my expectations. I think final demand will improve only marginally in the third quarter due to the delayed effect of the fiscal stimulus, which will improve market sentiment again. Expectations for an interest rate increase will weigh on the market in the fourth quarter and bring an end to the bear market bounce.

All asset prices seem to be correlated to risk appetite. The most important is the dollar's inverse correlation with stock market performance. The dollar index peaked in early March at 89 and has been fluctuating around 80 ever since. Even though the dollar has been on a downward trend since 2002, losing about one-third of its value, it has staged numerous bounces along the way. These bounces reflect risk appetite in financial markets. The dollar remains a safe haven asset. When risk appetite falls, the dollar tends to rise. Rising risk aversion drives such dollar bounces.

Oil prices also show a high correlation with the dollar. They doubled to US$ 70 a barrel from a March low but tumbled to US$ 60 after the dollar began to bounce back in early June. I think the relationship between oil prices and the dollar is mostly correlation and some causality. In theory, if the dollar declines by one-third and everything else remains the same, it justifies a roughly 50 percent increase in oil prices.

However, the correlation between oil prices and the dollar is far more sensitive. For example, an 11 percent decline in the dollar index in spring was accompanied by about a doubling of oil prices. A mere 3 percent bounce in the dollar since has been accompanied by a 14 percent decline in oil prices. Liquidity, driven by risk appetite, drives the dollar and oil prices in the short term.

Risk appetite is determined by push factor-interest rates and the pull factor-economic growth. When growth and interest rates are high, risk appetite is moderate. When the growth rate is low and interest rates high, risk appetite is low. When growth is strong and interest rates low, risk appetite is high. This scenario fits the 2003-'07 situation. When economic growth rates and interest rates are low, which is the current situation in the world, risk appetite fluctuates on the basis of economic data and policy action.

I think the global economy bottomed in the second quarter and will start to show some growth in the second half due to the delayed effect of the fiscal stimulus. When a financial system is broken, monetary stimulus doesn't work well. The market thinks the global economy bottomed in the second quarter also but expects more growth in the second half. I think developed economies may show 1 to 1.5 percent growth in the second half after a 6 percent decline over the previous four quarters. The market was hoping for much more. Anemic data released this summer has brought some reality back to the market. Expectations are being adjusted accordingly.

However, when the economic data improves significantly, probably in September, financial markets may turn enthusiastic about growth prospects again. At that time, inflation risk could still appear low. Markets could conjure up a scene of strong growth with low interest rates. The enthusiasm could bring a second wave to this bear market rally. Stock markets and commodities could regain or surpass their spring highs.

Neither low interest rates nor strong growth is realistic. Instead, the world is moving toward high interest rates and low growth rates, i.e. stagflation. Before the financial crisis, the global economy experienced a nearly 4 percent growth rate with half as much inflation. In the coming five years, I think the best scenario will be half the growth and twice the inflation. A lower growth rate would be due to a lack of rising leverage as a driver for demand, and a lower productivity growth rate, as the beneficial effects of globalization and IT have been absorbed. Higher inflation would be due to a surge in monetary supply for coping with the financial crisis. Excess money supply will become inflationary over time.

Financial markets are discussing exit strategies for central banks -- when and how to retrieve excess money supply before it ignites inflation. Central banks are reluctant to discuss this factor because they fear it would lead to expectations of rising interest rates, which would dampen economic recovery. This willingness to err on the "loose" side could boost long-term inflation rates.

Central banks still don't recognize the nature of the current downturn. It's not just cyclical. Schumpeterian creative destruction is a big part of the current downturn. As outdated businesses shut, laid-off workers spend time hunting for alternative employment. This is why the global economic recovery will be anemic and "jobless." When central banks see high unemployment rates, they see economic "slack." Stimulus could lead to more growth without causing inflation. If central banks want to fight Schumpeterian creative destruction with easy money, it could lead to high inflation and, in some cases, hyperinflation.

In the same context, financial markets are speculating about a second round of fiscal stimuli, especially by China and the United States. The purpose of the speculation is to alleviate growth fear among investors; more stimuli could always be applied to cope with low growth and, hence, investing may proceed without fear.

But a second stimulus round is quite unlikely, in my view. Huge budget deficits in Japan, Europe and the United States could make more stimuli backfire. Bond markets may decide that governments would all go bust and refuse to buy more fiscal bonds. The political backlash against high budget deficits may be just beginning, threatening support for another round of fiscal stimulus.

China has a small budget deficit and could afford a second stimulus round, if it wants. However, China's budget deficit is not as simple as it appears. A massive increase in Chinese bank lending, for example, has increased the budget deficit indirectly; loose lending could lead to bank losses for which the government is ultimately liable.

Higher debt levels at local government-owned companies should be included in the fiscal deficit. Still, it's fair to say the Chinese government's overall financial situation is strong enough to support another round of stimulus. But it still wouldn't bring back sustainable growth. The current lending boom has led to increased economic activities related to government- or SOE-led investments. There are few signs the growth is spreading sufficiently to private investment and consumption to create a self-sustaining growth cycle. The current round of stimulus has improved economic growth, but has also increased imbalance in the economy. A second round may add more to the negative side than the positive.

Even though the second round of stimulus is quite unlikely for the foreseeable future, financial markets will continue to speculate on its coming, especially when economic data is weak. Investors need stories like this to work up the courage to take the speculative plunge. When enough investors believe a story, markets are affected and believers are rewarded in the short term. This is why the supply and demand for story-making is infinite. When the story of a second stimulus round becomes too old for believing, there will be another story to catch investor imaginations.

Imagination is important when interest rates are low. A low interest rate by definition subsidizes borrowing. Ceteris paribus, low interest rates increase demand for speculation. Such speculation is rewarded if low interest rates simultaneously lead to economic recovery. Over the past two decades, this was almost always the case. Western consumers would respond to it and borrow more to spend. Hence, low interest rates could quickly lead to broad-based recovery. It paid to speculate when the interest rate was low.

The difference now is that consumer leverage in the West is too high. Even when the interest rate is zero, western consumers could not borrow to spend. Hence, the mechanism that transforms low interest rates into creating demand has broken. On the other hand, the transmission mechanism between low interest rates and financial speculation is alive; indeed, it's never been better. Herein lies the danger for speculators: A broad economic recovery won't come this time.

Most speculation on short-term market movement is futile. Most, if not all, market folklore is coincidence. Statistical evidence is too sketchy to make the correlation meaningful. The "sell in May and go away" folklore is no more meaningful than other stories, even though fund manager summer vacations make it sound more plausible. There are just enough exceptions to make the relationship unreliable.

Herd psychology and structural bias are the only significant factors for making predictions. The stock market has a bullish bias. Most participants invest other people's money. As any bonus in a rising market far exceeds punishment in a falling market, structural asymmetry gives the market a bullish bias. This factor is especially important when interest rates are low. Savers are given incentives to look for alternative investments for banking deposits when interest rates are low. Bullish fund managers are more likely to attract cash flow from savers. When the market is rising, savers could be caught up by the momentum and shift more to the stock market from bank deposits. The combination of this herd behavior and the structural bullish bias of fund managers lead to market spikes from time to time in a low interest rate environment.

Such market spikes can reverse on their own. Any spike will attract profit takers. Companies want to take advantage of such opportunities to raise funds. The outflow can bring down the market. The correction we are seeing now falls into this category. As interest rates remain low, the correction will attract new inflows that lead to new spikes. This is why I expect a second leg to this bear market rally in the autumn.

So far, most of the improving economic data is on the production side due to the inventory cycle. Final demand data has yet to improve significantly. They could show an improvement in the autumn, which lends more support to bullish sentiment. Hence, the second leg in this bear market rally could be quite vigorous as well.

The bear market rally ends when interest rates rise due to inflation expectations. As I have argued many times, the global economy is more inflation prone in the future than it was in the past. Low growth doesn't mean absence of inflation. The excess supply of money released during the financial crisis will trigger inflation first through higher commodity prices. The pressure for cost-of-living adjustments in labor spreads the cost push to wage increases. This spiral turns all the excess money into inflation. When this prospect becomes apparent, probably in early 2010, market expectations will shift to big interest rate hikes. I think the Fed will raise interest rates by 300 basis points over the next 18 months. Other central banks also will raise interest rates, but probably less than the Fed. High interest rates kill the power of imagination in the stock market and will end this bear market rally.

Powermat - The future of wireless power has arrived

From Powermat website,

"Powermat technology brings safe, simple, and efficient wireless electricity to surfaces including walls, tables, floors and desktops. It is designed to replace the need to access multiple electrical sockets with the flexibility and freedom of wireless power for real-time powering and charging of electronic devices of almost any kind in almost any environment. Powermat technology revolutionizes the way energy is consumed in the every day course of interaction with our environment.

Powermat offers the only scalable solution to transform large work surfaces and wall areas into safe and efficient conductors of electricity and is easily integrated into building construction and furniture design."

Introducing Powermat

Sounds rather cool.

Windows 7 Released to Manufacturing

Microsoft has finally released Windows 7 to manufacturing and is scheduled to be made available to consumers on October 22.

Windows 7 Released to Manufacturing [via]

Microsoft Office Labs Vision 2019 Montage

Singapore Petition to Prime Minister on Fair Compensation in Credit-Linked Notes Losses

Ex-CEO of NTUC Income, Mr Tan Kin Lian, is taking the lead in getting signatures from victims of credit-linked notes offered by the Singapore financial institutions and sending the petition to the Prime Minister of Singapore for fair compensation.

The petition letter can be found below.

As of now, there are a total of 465 signatures.

An innovative Samsung commercial

Bungee jumping elephants in London

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Liverpool Tour of Asia 2009 - Thailand VS Liverpool

As part of Liverpool's Asian tour, they will be playing against Thailand today and then Singapore four days later. But loyal Asian fans will be disappointed that Gerrard did not make the trip due to an ongoing court case while Spanish stars Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso, are unlikely to play much part in the games because of their country’s appearance in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. These two Spanish players may just play part of the again towards the end.

I will be watching the delayed telecast against Thailand later tonight at 11:00pm on Channel 5. Thailand should play beautifully by tradition and I hope Liverpool will not play too many long-ball boring tactics in front of Samba football fans.

Goals and more goals please.

SFC, HKMA and 16 banks reach agreement on Minibonds

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and 16 distributing banks (the Banks) (Note 1) today jointly announce that they have reached an agreement in relation to the repurchase of Lehman Brothers Minibonds from eligible customers.

DBS Hong Kong is not on the list.

SFC, HKMA and 16 banks reach agreement on Minibonds [via]

What is solar eclipse?

As explained and illustrated below

Watched total solar eclipse on TV today

I witnessed today's total solar eclipse over China' Chengdu and Wuhan on Mediacorp 8 this morning. As the sun was slowly being eclipsed completely, Chengdu and later Wuhan soon turned darkness like night time. It's indeed a spectacular sight.

Simulation on a total solar eclipse

Total solar eclipse seen in Wuhan

The Google Wave Highlight Reel

Google new ambitious project, Google Wave, is set to rework email, instant messaging, document sharing, and blogging.

According to the official Google Wave Developer Blog, they'll be extending 100,000 invites to regular old users on September 30.

In the meantime, you may wish to take a closer look at Google Wave with LifeHacker's highlight reel and hands-on Wave Q&A.

Hong Kong Banks Agree to Repurchase Lehman Minibonds

Looks like Hong Kong investors are slowly getting what they wanted after fighting hard for months. Singaporeans affected by the Lehman default can only envy them.

Hong Kong Banks Agree to Repurchase Lehman Minibonds

22 July 2009

BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd. and 15 other banks agreed to pay at least 60 cents on the dollar to investors in notes linked to failed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. after a 10-month dispute that stirred street protests and forced lenders to change the way they sell investment products.

The banks will repurchase the so-called Lehman minibonds in two stages, Securities and Futures Commission Chief Executive Martin Wheatley said at a press conference today. The total compensation will amount to about HK$6.3 billion ($813 million), said central bank Deputy Chief Executive Y.K. Choi.

Hong Kong, where banks sold $1.8 billion of the notes, is an example of how the financial devastation resulting from Lehman’s Sept. 15 bankruptcy rippled across the globe. As the securities plunged and allegations of mis-selling mounted, citizens who lost their savings took to the streets and lawmakers scolded the heads of the city’s central bank and securities watchdog in public.

The minibond debacle “exposes the problems with both the regulations and banks’ selling methods,” Peter Wong, head of the Hong Kong unit of HSBC Holdings Plc, said in a July 13 interview.

HSBC, the biggest bank in Hong Kong by branches, and its local subsidiary, Hang Seng Bank Ltd., didn’t sell the notes.

Note buyers will receive at least 60 percent of the principal, Wheatley said. About 29,000 minibond investors are eligible for compensation. Banks’ losses related to the refunds are “difficult to estimate,” Choi said.

‘Not Acceptable’

Beyond the 60 percent floor, refunds will depend on how much collateral banks can collect from Lehman’s liquidators. If banks recover the full collateral, minibond investors will be fully compensated. Banks will use fees earned from the note sales to fund the recovery effort.

“If the agreement is accepted, the vast majority of investors will be able to get back 70 per cent or more of their original investments,” Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang said in a statement today. “The agreement will put an end to more than 10 months of distress for investors.”

The proposed compensation is “not reasonable,” Peter Chan, chairman of the Allied Victims of Lehman Products, said in a phone interview. The group, which Chan said represents about 8,000 minibond investors, will reject the proposal, he said.

“I can’t agree, and won’t accept the settlement plan as it’s not acceptable and fair to us,” Chan said. “How can the SFC let the banks get away with it so easily?”

Mentally Ill Buyers

Lehman’s bankruptcy caused the value of the notes to collapse, even though they were tied to the debt of other companies that remained viable. The minibonds were distributed by local brokerage Sun Hung Kai Financial Ltd. and sold by 19 Hong Kong banks.

The inquiry into the alleged mis-selling prompted the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to propose that banks physically separate deposit-taking and investment businesses at their branches and tape all conversations related to sales of investment products.

The notes, guaranteed by Lehman and linked to the debt of major Hong Kong companies like Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., were sold to more than 40,000 investors. Among buyers were elderly and poorly educated people as well as mentally ill individuals, according to an investigation by the city’s central bank made public by lawmakers on April 28.

Buyers of the Lehman minibonds were required to invest at least $5,000, compared with $100,000 for most bonds sold to institutions, making them popular among retail investors.

Yam Testifies

Sun Hung Kai Financial in February agreed to fully repay minibond buyers, putting pressure on other sellers to follow suit. Sun Hung Kai paid about HK$86 million and KGI Asia Ltd., the local unit of the Taiwan-based brokerage, spent about HK$1.5 million to repurchase the notes.

Backed by lawmakers and volunteer groups, investors have staged almost daily protests since October, demanding refunds.

At a July 1 march, about 2,000 protesters wore black T- shirts and carried placards accusing banks that distributed the products of fraud and betraying public trust. Some tried to cross a police barrier to break into the Bank of China building in the city’s Central business district.

The scandal touched some of the city’s most senior financial officials.

Joseph Yam, the outgoing head of the central bank, has testified six times in front of a special committee set up by the city’s parliament, and lawmakers accused his organization of negligence. Wheatley testified four times.

‘Give and Take’

On July 3, local newspapers including Sing Tao Daily reported that 16 Hong Kong banks had sent a formal proposal to the SFC offering investors compensation of 60 percent to 70 percent of face value.

Quizzed by lawmakers about the proposals at the time, Wheatley said partial compensation could be unfair to some investors.

“When you have a negotiation there’s bound to be posturing from both sides,” Regina Ip, an independent legislator who was involved in brokering the settlement, said in a July 16 interview. “At the end of the day if you want to get to yes, there has to be give and take.”

In Singapore, where a total of S$508 million ($352 million) of Lehman-linked products were sold to investors, the central bank in early July banned DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and nine other financial institutions from selling structured products for six months to two years.

The ban won’t be lifted until the central bank is “satisfied” that the institutions have taken steps to improve their processes for offering financial advisory services. A group of 204 investors in July sued DBS, Singapore’s largest bank, over losses on Lehman minibonds.

Monetary Authority of Singapore deputy Chairman Lim Hng Kiang said July 20 that a total of about S$107 million in settlement offers have been made to some 3,900 investors.

Hong Kong Banks Agree to Repurchase Lehman Minibonds [via]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hitler Slam Failed Investment

The below video is in response to the billions of dollars losses incurred by the Temasek Holdings.

Hitler Slam Failed Investment

Temasek Charles Goodyear walks away while Ho Ching stays as CEO

Temasek Holdings and supposedly incoming CEO, Charles Goodyear, have mutually agreed not to proceed with the CEO appointment that was to have taken effect on 1 October 2009. Mr Goodyear is to take the reins as CEO from Ho Ching but he now decided not to proceed due to differences in strategy.

I see this as a very big U-turn by Temasek. Is Temasek losing its plot? I personally do not have confidence in Ho Ching after she lost billions of dollars since she took over as CEO. Her track record before joining Temasek and in Temasek was very bad. Educated with a Engineering background, she joined Temasek Holdings as its CEO and that really puzzles me.

I wonder what made Goodyear changes his mind. Is it because of the "mess" Temasek is in now? Is it because of the transparent but not so transparent practice by a sovereign wealth fund? Goodyear departure means no more good years ahead. Will we see more losses again even in good times like before?

Temasek and Charles Goodyear agree not to proceed with CEO appointment [via]

Brookes fake RMIT certificates suspicion reported since 2007

A week ago, the Ministry of Education (MOE) cancelled registration of Brookes Business School after finding out the school issued fake degrees certificates from Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) for as little as S$12,000.

Today, ChannelNewsAsia reported RMIT had lodged complaint about Brookes to MOE as early as April 2007. MOE took two months to issue Brookes a warning for carrying misleading information on its website and other publicity materials. Two years later, hundreds of students are now left helpless, either without a school or worse still stranded with a fake degree.

I am not sure if the hundreds of students count is an underestimation or could there be several times more than that since the suspicion of such undesired behaviour was sounded out 2 years ago. Does this means RMIT issued degrees by Brookes for the past one or two years can be fakes? The number of private schools in Singapore for the past couple of years has grown exponentially and are they all "clean"?

Moonlighting is wrong

I am aware moonlighting is wrong and the consequences of getting found out by your main employer can result in getting the sack. I remembered telling a colleague that moonlighting is not right in a casual conversation but he ended up arguing with me otherwise. There were many other unnecessary debates between us because of his very lack in general knowledge.

Check with boss before taking on second job [via]

Monday, July 20, 2009

53% of flu cases in Singapore are H1N1 positive

53% of flu cases in Singapore are H1N1 positive

Channel NewsAsia
20 July 2009

SINGAPORE: More than half of flu cases here (53%) are H1N1 positive. The number jumped from just 13 per cent in a span of only four weeks.

The latest data by Singapore's Health Ministry shows that the country is well past the mitigation stage for the management of H1N1 flu cases.

Giving an update in Parliament on Monday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the virus circulating in Singapore currently is largely benign, with almost all patients recovering fully.

He added Singapore remains in Yellow alert because unlike seasonal flu, the at-risk groups involve younger adults with underlying medical problems.

Moving forward, Mr Khaw said H1N1 prevalence in the country should peak within a week or two.

He said more Singaporeans will get infected, reaching a peak before the numbers start to decline as in New York where the wave peaked in May and June.

Experts refer to this phenomenon as the community acquiring "herd immunity".

Mr Khaw said temperature taking in schools should step down from next month.

Army camps will also step down their H1N1 control measures according to their specific operational needs.

Hospitals, though, will remain on high vigilance. Visitation will continue to be discouraged and infection control measures will remain.

Mr Khaw also outlined three key priorities.

MOH will focus on high-risk patients and encouraging them to come forward promptly and not wait until their symptoms become too severe.

The ministry will also review its control measures and prepare Singapore for the next wave of H1N1 which may come when winter returns to the Northern hemisphere.

As for the managing of patients, Mr Khaw said doctors will treat them clinically rather than send every suspected H1N1 case for lab tests.

Most patients are being treated by GPs as outpatients and hospitalisation is the exception, only for high-risk cases.

Likewise, travel advisory, temperature screening at airports, contact tracing and home quarantine measures have been largely stepped down.

The 993 ambulance service for H1N1 suspected cases will also be wound up from Tuesday. Callers will hear an automated message telling them to visit their nearest GP or Pandemic Preparedness Clinic if the symptoms are mild or to call 995 if they have severe symptoms.

While the government has put in place orders for a H1N1 vaccine once it is available, Mr Khaw pointed out that the most basic strategy is maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene.

- CNA/ir

YouTube changes its logo to mark Apollo 11 40th anniversary

YouTube changes its logo to mark Apollo 11 40th anniversary.

Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong Moon Landing on 20 July 1969

Apollo 11 40th anniversary

Exactly 40 years ago on 20 July 1969, the United States Apollo 11 marked its first ever moon landing. No one had ever done that before previously. The then astronauts on Apollo 11 were Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Buss Aldrin.

Profit Taking on Koh Brothers

I just sold off all my 32 lots of Koh Brothers shares today for profit taking after it surged almost 20 per cent in just 2 trading days.

My judgement tells me to take hold of profit and not hold onto it waiting for it to climb higher, in anticipation of a possible better than expected financial result for previous quarter.

The global stock bourses had seen market rally since last Monday and I am not sure how long this will last before there is another correction. The climb in less than 7 trading days is just like a fantasy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

SMRT will not be soft on offenders eating or drinking in trains

According to the below video, there will be a total of approximately 500 enforcement officers patrolling in trains to catch commuters eating or drinking. Do note that eating sweets or drinking plain water are both not allowed too.

First time offenders will be slapped with a S$30 fine. This time round, offenders will not be let off with just a warning.

RazorTV - The Curious Case of the Cores

A lady was fined S$30 for eating a sweet on Singapore train

Singapore recently enforces strict NO eating/drinking regulation on MRT trains. LAst Thursday, an Indian lady was caught and fined S$30 for eating a sweet on Singapore MRT by a SMRT staff. The lady argued with the officer but her explanation was not enough to convince the officer. It is also said that even drinking of plain water is not allowed on trains. First offenders will be slapped with a S$30 fine.

Eating of food like cooked noodles, rice, burgers, and so on, and drinking of drinks other than plain water will carry a S$500 fine. This "NO eating/drinking" prohibited sign is displayed prominently on all trains since day one.

So, what's my view on this S$30 fine for offenders?

Initially, I felt the fine on drinking of plain water on trains is a bit too much. After some serious thinking, I thought drinking of plain water in trains should be prohibited. I understand even if plain water is spilled on the floor of trains, it can dirty the trains, cause discomfort and unnecessary inconveniences to other commuters. Some may argue that they may get thirsty, or mothers need to feed babies with milk from bottles while travelling, there is always an alternative solution. Water coolers can be installed on train concourse area for commuters to make use of if they get thirsty. Water coolers should not be installed on the platforms so the platforms will not get wet and slippery, posing a danger to commuters. Mothers who wish to feed babies with milk can do so on chairs fixed on train concourse. Water coolers with hot water facilities will come handy for the mothers.

Fine on eating sweets on trains should be imposed. However, fines should be on a case-by-case basis e.g. taking medicines should be allowed on trains.

There is no doubt that there will definitely be a grey line when it comes to what is to be allowed and what is not to be allowed. After years of trying to educate commuters to "behave" themselves on trains, I still see people eating Nasi Lemak, finger food like curry puffs. Commuters drinking bubble tea is a common sight too. From my observations, many such offenders are students. Shame on them!

It seems Singaporeans can only learn when their pockets are hurt.

RazorTV - Drinking water is forbidden!

RazorTV - $30 fine for eating a sweet

Fined $30 for eating sweet [via]

Financial Invention vs. Consumer Protection

Interesting article on Financial Invention vs. Consumer Protection. I guess it is quite difficult to strike a balance between the two.

Financial Invention vs. Consumer Protection [via]

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sold off all of my Indonesian Rupiahs

I finally sold off all my S$172 worth of Indonesian Rupiahs to a friend whom is planning to visit Jakarta in a few months time. Phew..

I hope the situation in Jakarta will be better and safer then.

Michael Jackson hair on fire 25 years old video leaked

25 years ago, Michael Jackson's hair was set on fire accidentally while filming for a Pepsi 1984 commercial. Mistimed pyrotechnics has resulted in his hair being ignited and him suffering from second and third-degree burns on his scalp and body, leaving him suffering from severe pains.

It has been claimed that painkillers prescribed to Jackson after the accident kick-started his addiction to strong medication, and the damage to his scalp explains rumours he was completely bald at the time of his death last month from a cardiac arrest. It was also rumoured that the incident kick-started his addiction to plastic surgery.

R.I.P. MJ.

Veteran Striker Michael Owen nets first goal for Man Utd

Michael Owen marked his Manchester United debut with a late winner to save his side's blushes in Kuala Lumpur.

Owen is the latest addition to Man Utd. He is being counted for his poacher instinct in front of goals. I believe he can deliver provided he is not met with too many injuries.

Malaysia XI 2-3 Man Utd: Owen nets first goal [via]

Singapore confirms first H1N1-related death

Singapore has just confirmed its first H1N1-related death. The patient died of a heart attack, contributed by severe pneumonia and H1N1 infection. H1N1, by itself, is not deadly, however, if a patient's immune system is weak, then it could pose a serious threat.

Singapore confirms first H1N1-related death [via]

Just A Nice Guy - Wong Fu Productions

Just A Nice Guy - Part 1 (The Problem) - Wong Fu Productions

Just A Nice Guy - Part 2 (The Lesson) - Wong Fu Productions

Just A Nice Guy - Part 3 (The Risk) - Wong Fu Productions

Maybank Singapore Dollar Term Deposit-i Interest Rates Up to 1.4%

More information below.

Singapore Dollar Islamic Term Deposit-i [via]

Jakarta Bombings Condemned

I condemn last Friday's bombings on Jakarta's two five-stars hotels. This terrorist attack was an coordinated well-planned effort to create havoc in the two popular hotels among the tourists. The two hotels being attacked were JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels.

According to news being reported, evacuation conducted by the staff of the hotels were calm and organized. If the terrorists responsible for the attacks wanted to see the tourists or/and Indonesians in disarray or chaos, then they will be very disappointed.

What impact would the bombings have on Indonesia? Very clearly, the now better improved Indonesia's economy with annual growth of more than 4 per cent, could be threatened. One of the first casualties are 100,000 fans who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Premier League champions Manchester United. The soccer team which was supposed to stay at Ritz Carlton when they arrive, had since cancelled their trip to Jakarta. Tens of thousands of soccer fans will be left disappointed. Hotel occupancy rates in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia will be affected by fearful tourists and cancelled business trips by companies.

I strongly condemn any attacks on the innocents.

Second Google Adsense Payment Scheduled

My blog and a long forgotten homepage hongjun.wap both contributed to my second US$100 Google Adsense earnings target.

For this second US$100 earnings, there are a total of 35,578 page impressions and 341 clicks, of which hongjun.wap contributed only 871 page impressions and 3 clicks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Not going to Asian Investment Conference and Exhibition 2009

Asian Investment Conference and Exhibition 2009 (AICE) is to be held in Suntec City from 18 - 19 July 2009. I believe this event is going to be just another avenue for companies to do their marketing on themselves. My personal opinion on this event is it would be biased and is going to be subjective.

Initially, I decided to attend Saturday's evening session since I am only free that time but now, I have decided to give AICE a miss.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What is “Chindonesia”?

Nicholas Cashmore, a Jakarta-based CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets economist, coined the term “Chindonesia”, which comprises of China, India and Indonesia. “Chindonesia” could be the next economic powerhouse after BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

CIT, a U.S. lender, likely to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Quite scary.

CIT's shares, bonds plunge on bankruptcy fears [via]

Epure investing in 38m yuan China project

I personally have invested on Epure International and it looks like it is bearing fruits.

Epure investing in 38m yuan China project

The Business Times
July 16, 2009

WATER treatment company Epure International is investing in a 38 million yuan (S$8 million) project in China's Shaanxi province.

The company announced yesterday the establishment of a wholly owned subsidiary, Yulin City Jingzhou Water Co, which would handle the investment. The subsidiary has registered capital of 11.4 million yuan.

Under the terms of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project, Epure and its subsidiary will be allowed to finance, design, construct and operate a municipal waste-water treatment in Yulin city for 25 years.

Incorporation documents for Yulin City Jingzhou Water were submitted on July 7 and approval was received.

Epure, which was named one of the 10 most influential water companies in China, is a leading water and waste-water treatment provider. It diversified into the management of water treatment plants and BOT project investment in 2006.

The Shaanxi project is the company's second in China in as many months. In May, it announced a joint venture with Beijing Sound Environment Group for a BOT project in Gansu province, with an investment value of 129 million yuan.

Epure posted a first-quarter 2009 net profit of 40.7 million yuan, up 32 per cent from the same period last year. Revenue totalled 136 million yuan.

Monetary Authority of Singapore Suffers Net Loss of S$9.2 Billion

SINGAPORE, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country's central bank, said on Thursday that it has suffered a net loss of 9.2 billion Singapore dollars (about6.43 billion U.S. dollars) in the last financial year ending March2009.

The loss represents about 3.5 percent of the central bank's average total assets, the MAS said in a press conference to unveil its annual report. In the previous year, the profits stood at 7.44 billion Singapore dollars (about 5.2 billion U.S. dollars).

MAS attributed the loss to the current severe economic crisis which has "pared back about 80 percent of the gains in the preceding two years."

Against the tumultuous external backdrop, the Singapore economy contracted sharply, posting an output loss of around 10 percent from its peak a year ago, the steepest decline in its history, by the first quarter this year, it added.

It also warned that despite improved performance in the second quarter, "The domestic economy is likely to witness slow and uneven growth, rather than sharp and decisive recovery."

For the economy as a whole, Singapore has revised the official growth forecast for 2009 to between minus 6.0 to minus 4.0 percent.

MAS also said that given weak demand and easing domestic costs, inflation for the year is expected to come in between minus 0.5 percent and plus 0.5 percent.

Going forward, the central bank says it is aiming to strengthen Singapore's financial system, of which one of the measures is to enhance the MAS standing facility to provide liquidity to financial institutions, adding that it will also review and intensify its supervision on financial institutions in the sale of investment products.

MAS also said it will continue to keep a strong balance sheet. It has increased its total capital and reserves to 28.74 billion Singapore dollars (about 20 billion U.S dollars), representing close to 11 percent of MAS' total assets, to help Singapore navigate through a potentially volatile financial market environment and to help stabilize its financial system should the need arises.

Singapore central bank suffers net loss of over 6 bln USD [via]

Apple Hit Back at Blackberry!!!

When Blackberry took the battle to Apple.. this is how Apple replied.. simply genius..

Singapore Merlion

Rally in Stocks

For the past 2-3 days, global stock markets, including the Singapore Exchange, rallied following U.S. indices. In Singapore, investors cheered after GDP for 2009 upgrade, Q2 GDP booster, and today's marginal rise in retail sales as compared to previous month.

At this point in time, the DOW Jones is trading higher by more than 2%. Time to sell soon, in a couple of days' time. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 in Videos

Microsoft is planning to unveil the new Office 2010 suite today and very quickly, their introductory videos are now on YouTube.

I will only selectively post part of Office 2010 package here.

Microsoft Office Applications Introduction 2010

Microsoft Word 2010

Microsoft Excel 2010

Microsoft PowerPoint 2010

Microsoft Access 2010

Microsoft Outlook 2010

The MrBrown Show Answer to NDP 2009 Theme Song - lekuasimi


All my friends say I’m a chiongster
Who like to drink Teh Si
My Civic may be lau pok chia
But can almost hit 50
I just minding my own business
Why the others all cut me?
They change lane don’t use signal and
They always challenge me
Le Kua Simi?
Le Kua Simi?

See the light when turn green, see my super chio rim
Even though your car faster than me, my Honda still more swee
You may think you reach there faster then can order your ice cream
Le Kua Simi….
My car more swee

I only earn 900 but my petrol 550
They say now is the downturn but my car got leather seat
I know my car is not last forever
Because of COE
But a man must have his vision, and his density
Wa Kua Simi
Wa Kua Simi

Find more ger at the bar, when they see my new car
You can feeling the tetno beat, my bass tube sibei tua
I will drive you to Mt Faber and together we see star
Le Kua Simi

Le Kua Simi tonight
Got sea and got mountain
You and me tonight
We going to reach Milky Way
Together we can join to make the downpayment
Get a better car than I can afford

Chor kang cannot keow kar, I must work extra hard
I must work in the sun until my face become chow tar
When patience is a virgin, you must wait long long time
No Ah Beng at the traffic light can hope to challenge me
Le Kua Simi
Le Kua Simi

Download MP3 here

Monday, July 13, 2009

NDP 2009 Chinese Theme Song - 就在这里

NDP 2009 English Theme Song (Electrico) What do you see?

What exactly are Cloud and Cloud Computing?

Cloud and Cloud Computing are in an identity crisis. What if The Cloud saw a psychiatrist? Listen in on the therapy session.

Scene: Office of Dr. Virgil I. Zation, a noted Silicon Valley Psychiatrist. Dr. Zation is having a therapy session with a new patient named Cloud.

Doctor: How can I help you, Mr. Cloud?

Cloud: You can drop the "Mr." and just call me, "The Cloud."

Doctor: Ok, Cloud. What brings you to my office?

Cloud: Doctor, I think I'm in an identity crisis. I just don't seem to know who I am anymore. On the one hand, I'm "The Cloud." I've got a handle on that identity, but now people are talking about "Cloud Computing," and it's really confusing me, and worst of all, it's confusing them!

Doctor: Well, before we get to your identity, tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do?

Cloud: That's just the point Doctor. I don't know WHAT I do. I've asked around and no one seems to agree on what I do or who I am. But I think I must be pretty famous, though.

Doctor: Thinking you're important sounds like delusions of grandeur.

Cloud: No, really. I think I AM important; after all, I'm even in Wikipedia, but I don't totally understand what Wikipedia says about me. If they just call me "The Cloud," then I'm a metaphor for the Internet, but if they add "computing" to my name, then they say, "computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet." What the heck does that mean? I'm getting confused. And don't even get me started when people talk about Private, Public or Hybrid Clouds. OMG, am I a split personality?

Doctor: Let's not go there yet. I think simpler is better when it comes to defining who we are.

Cloud: Yes! Especially for non-tech people. Like, with "The Cloud" definition, many people "get" the basic cloud metaphor. It's easy. I've even seen pictures of me drawn on engineers' scratch pads. I think I look elegant and simple.

Doctor: Of course. I've seen those drawings as well—easy to understand.

Cloud: I think I was pretty easy to understand then too, but now I feel like a split personality. They've added "computing" to my name and that's messing up what could be a simple message and metaphor. If I'm "Cloud Computing," no one seems to agree on who I am or how to define me. They don't know exactly what I do.

Doctor: Hmmmm. I see what you mean. Even the way some industry analysts define you is a bit obtuse. Take for example, James Staten of Forrester. He describes you as, "a pool of abstracted, highly scalable, and managed compute infrastructure capable of hosting end-customer applications and billed by consumption." Whew! So now you're a pool? I thought you were a cloud!

Cloud: I don't even know anymore: pool, cloud. It's all becoming Geek to me. And then some people say cloud computing is, "Internet-based development and use of computer technology." So does that mean if a 5-year old makes a simple web site, is that ME? But it gets worse. Famous people make fun of me.

Doctor: What do you mean?

Cloud: Larry Ellison of Oracle says I'm gibberish and doesn't know what the hell I am.

Doctor: I'm sure he didn't mean that….

Cloud: No, he did! You don't know Larry! But it gets even worse. Tim O'Reilly says I'm,"the movement of computing into the network of all connected devices." Then Steve Ballmer says I'm,"outside the firewall; software specifically architected to be managed and propagated in a certain fashion." I'm the Internet…I'm moving…I'm connected…I'm propagating…I'm outside the firewall! Does that mean I can catch on fire? I'm so confused! Who the heck am I?

Doctor: Well, I don't want to add to your confusion, but I heard that you are the "new SaaS."

Cloud: That's not very helpful or comforting when your own therapist says you're sassy.

Doctor: Sorry. Let's take a different tactic. Let's talk about your early upbringing. Any issues with your mother?

Cloud: Well, I don't really know who my mother is. But I do have father issues, of sorts. If I'm "The Cloud," then it's easy. Everybody knows that Al Gore invented me.

Doctor: Hmmm. Not sure on that one. Have you thought about demanding a paternity test?

Cloud: Not really, after all he is a Vice President. If he said it, it must be true. Funny, every year I send him an electronic Father's Day card, but he never writes back. But I might have a stepfather of sorts. If I'm "Cloud Computing," then Professor Ramnath Chelappa at Emory University is the first academic who talked about me, and he said I was, "a computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits." But that only makes me more confused.

Doctor: Yes, I understand your confusion, especially when you look at what they said about you at Wharton's Big Business Technology conference in Philadelphia. I believe one academic said you were, "large data centers that can be dynamically provisioned, configured, and reconfigured to deliver services in a scalable manner." Then another said, "A cloud is just a pool of flexible/on-demand 'resource,' a way of abstracting the underlying complexities of how things are executed or stored, provisioned." And, "a virtual server for application deployment by large/small companies."

Cloud: See! I don't even exist! I'm virtual! But am I SaaS? Am I data centers, the Internet, storage? I'm getting dizzy and more confused.

Doctor: I'm a bit confused by your identity as well. Here's a new tactic: you need to get away—get out and meet new people.

Cloud: But I am! That's part of my problem. I'm not just hanging around with wonks and geeks. I'm out there with small business owners, marketers, and consumers. And nobody knows who I am or what I do. They're so confused. Some are even scared of me! OMG! I'm scaring consumers! That is NEVER a good idea. I need a drink!

Doctor: No good ever comes from turning to alcohol! Why not wait a bit? I heard that The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on a formal cloud computing definition. Maybe that will give you some relief.

Cloud: I can't wait! I feel like The Three Faces of Eve. SAP says I'm one thing, IBM says another, HP, Microsoft, Oracle, SAS… my head is swimming! I can't even say what I am. Someone from a Virtualization conference asked me for my 30-second elevator pitch and I failed! I really do need a drink!

Doctor: OK, OK, don't unravel…it will affect applications. Alcohol will dull your thinking, but how about some drugs? I can prescribe Prozac to take the edge off.

Cloud: Are there any side effects? Will it affect my security or reliability or provisioning?

Doctor: Nope. Until you get a handle on your identity, I think this is just the thing to take the edge off The Cloud.

Cloud: OK, but only 5 MB.

Doctor: Don't you mean 5 mg?

Cloud: Oh...right. Thanks, Doc!

The Cloud leaves Doctor Virgil I. Zation's office still confused about his identity, but at least feeling a bit lighter.

Cloud Computing Sees A Shrink [via]

Swearing can make you feel better, lessen pain

A study conducted by the school of psychology at Britain's Keele University found that swearing can make one feel better as it has a "pain lessening" effect. So, it looks like there is in fact a inverse correlation relationship between swearing and physical pain.

The more you swear, the lesser physical pain you would feel.

Swearing can make you feel better, lessen pain [via]

Many whom I know of having their birthday this month

For this month only, there are quite a few whom I know of are having their birthdays this month. My younger brother and his girlfriend, my mother, and 2 of my friends all birthdays fall on July. Just today, I learnt that the near my house 菜饭 lady's birthday is on 12 July.

What a coincidence.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

List of Official Google Twitter Accounts - our central account - for Blogger fans - user tips & updates - news, tips, tricks on our visual image search - latest headlines via Google News - from our feed reader team - news & notes from Google's personalized homepage - news of interest to students using Google - for YouTube fans - en Espanol - solutions for IT and workplace productivity

Geo-related - Google SketchUp news - SketchUp's 3D Warehouse - 3D modeling to build your favorite places - Earth & Maps tools for nonprofits & orgs - uses, tips, mashups -Android app for the night sky

Ads-related - for online publishers - looking out for AdWords questions and tech issues - Google Guide for AdWords Help Forum - insights for website effectiveness - re building display ads - for retail advertisers - for U.K. tech advertisers - for German AdWords customers - for German ad agencies - info for Portuguese-language publishers - AdWords news & tips in Russian - Spanish updates from the Inside AdWords blog - AdWords API tips

Developer & technical - from our research scientists - Google Webmaster Central - latest updates for Google developer products - Data APIs provide a standard protocol for reading and writing web data - web apps run on Google infrastructure - our initiative for complete import/export of all data - about using Google Maps embedded in websites - Google's largest annual developer event

Culture, People - notes from our @Google speaker series - the voice of Google recruiters

Country or Region - news from the Google Arabia Blog* - Google activities in Australia & New Zealand - Google in Germany - Latin America (en Espanol) - Notes on Google policy issues in Italy

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