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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Considering changing Private Shield plan

It seems to me Aviva MyShield is no longer the best private medical shield plan in the market. Aviva has just announced an across the board increase in its annual premium by an approximate 10%. A quick comparison points me to Prudential and NTUC as the better choice.

Snapshots to external links restored

Vanguard's Next Move

没得吃 mango sticky rice


以为可以吃到泰国的 mango sticky rice but then because my service is required at CAB, I have to give mango sticky rice a miss. A friend of mine is supposed to have brought mango sticky rice all the way fresh from Bangkok.


Day trading is a bad idea

Day-trading is one of the dumbest jobs there is. According to one academic study, 4 out of 5 people who do it lose money and only 1 in 100 do it well enough to be described as "predictably profitable".

This includes day trading in the stock broker's office or at work.

Here's What Day Traders Don't Understand [via]

Is Las Vegas Sands involved with triads?

I shall leave the guessing of the answer to you.

High-rollers, triads and a Las Vegas giant [via]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Malicious executables embedded in PDFs run silently on Foxit Reader

PDF researcher Didier Stevens has just found out a security vulnerability that it is possible to execute arbitrary code out of PDF files. This means an executable can be embedded in a PDF and get it to be run once the document is opened. Some PDF readers e.g. Adobe reader and Nuance's free PDF reader will show a warning dialog but when opened but NOT for popular Foxit Reader.

This is worrying.

Malicious PDFs Own Foxit; Adobe At Least Warns [via]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Actually got hardcopy format of financial report

The chance of receiving financial report from a company is 50/50 and the chance of getting it in hardcopy format is even lower.

I have received financial reports from ST Engineering, CapitalMall Asia and today, Mapletree Logistics Trust. Only Mapletree Logistics Trust is still distributing hardcopy format annual book to its shareholders.

For the past 2-3 years, Qian Hu Corporation still ranked highest in terms of connectivity to its shareholders. I remember Qian Hu's Kenny Yap actually signed on every single desk calendars which were to be sent out to all his shareholders as part of his well wishes on a Chinese New Year.

Way to go, Qian Hu.

Fatty Foods May Have a Drug-Like Effect on Your Brain

Research has shown that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain and could lead to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction.

Fatty foods may cause cocaine-like addiction [via]

My schedule for school

Just a reminder for myself.

Challenge for school

  • 02: CS5322 Quiz 1
  • 03: CS4236 Project deadline
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 12: CS5322 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 15: CS5322 choose research topic
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 1
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 2 (75%)
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 13: CS5322 Quiz 2
  • 15: CS5322 Project deadline
  • XX: CS5322 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 27: CS4236 Exam
  • 28: CS5258 Exam
  • 03: CS5322 Exam

Shall start CS4236 Assignment 2 and CS5322 Project deadline concurrently soon.

Strikethrough means I am done with it.

Do try out the new Google Search Box

It is AJAX-enabled.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Code Snippet misalignment resolved

Blog layout revamp results in Code Snippets misalignment

I apologise for misalignment layout on all posts with Code Snippets. I will resolve them asap.

Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Are you using Blogger? Do you link to Amazon in your blog posts? Now, Blogger has made integration with Amazon Associates easier, and can even earn you some money!

Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates [via]

Parkway Holdings rallied yet again

Parkway Holdings (P27.SI) rallied yet again on last trading day of the week to close 2.366% higher at S$3.460 per share.


Life insurance in Asia

Stephan Binder of McKinsey, a consultancy, thinks that people should be insured for 10-12 times their annual income. By this measure, Asians (and, for that matter, everybody else) are woefully underinsured.
In that case, I am seriously underinsured too.

Life insurance in Asia [via]

Reporters Without Borders tells Singapore leaders to stop suing journalists

Media rights watchdog Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) has urged the Singapore leaders to stop suing journalists to respect press freedom. RSF is registered in France as a non-profit organisation and has consultant status at the United Nations. RSF is Reporters Without Borders translated in English.

Open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Published on 25 March 2010

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Prime Minister’s Office
Orchard Road
Singapore 238823

Paris, 25 March 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

A foreign news organisation has yet again been forced to apologise to you and your father and pay you a large sum of money for publishing an article you did not like. This time it is the New York Times Co. that is a victim of this double punishment because of a compliant judicial system that always rules in favour of you and your family in all the lawsuits you bring against foreign news media.

Before the New York Times Co., you succeeded in punishing the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER),, The Economist, International Herald Tribune and Asian Wall Street Journal for their coverage of the political and economic situation in your country.

Threatened by a trial, the New York Times Co. apologised to you and your father, Lee Kuan Yew, for the article “All in the Family,” written by Philip Bowring and published in the 15 February issue of the International Herald Tribune. As well as an apology, this US media company had to pay 114,000 US dollars in damages.

Your lawyer, Davinder Singh, said Bowring’s article violated an “agreement” between your family and the International Herald Tribune, which was sentenced in 1994 to pay a large sum in damages for an article entitled “The claims about Asian values don’t usually bear scrutiny.”

The now defunct Far Eastern Economic Review agreed last November, after a long legal wrangle, to pay you and your father 290,000 US dollars in damages. Despite a lack of evidence, Singaporean judges ruled in favour of your family both in the original trial and on appeal without a thought for media freedom.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the judicial harassment which you and your father have practiced for years in order to prevent foreign news media from taking too close an interest in how you run your country. It does serious and lasting harm to press freedom in Singapore.

Your government has repeatedly displayed a disturbing inability to tolerate foreign journalists. Last October, for example, Ben Bland, a British freelancer who strings for The Economist and The Daily Telegraph, was denied a visa and permission to cover an APEC summit in Singapore. “I was forced to leave Singapore after the government refused to renew my work visa without any explanation,” Bland told Reporters Without Borders.

But the censorship has above all affected local media and local artistic production. In October 2009, for example, the ministry of information, communication and arts upheld a ban on a documentary by Singaporean filmmaker Martyn See about government opponent Said Zahari. Watch the video:

In response to the publication of the Reporters Without Borders 2009 press freedom index, in which Singapore was ranked 133rd out of 175 countries, your law minister, K. Shanmugam, described it as “absurd” and “disconnected from reality.”

Unfortunately, the facts show that we are right.

In the six years since you became prime minister and said you favoured an “open” society, we have seen very few improvements in the situation of free speech.

We therefore think your government should take the following measures as a matter of urgency:
  1. Put a stop to the libel actions which you and your relatives have been bringing against Singaporean and foreign media that cover Singaporean developments in an independent manner. As the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression recently said, the prime minister, his minister and high officials must refrain from suing journalists over their articles and comments.
  2. Amend the criminal code so as to abolish prison sentences for press offences.
  3. Amend the press law, especially the articles concerning the granting of publication licences. The current restrictions are preventing the emergence of independent media. The film law should also be relaxed.
  4. Reform the national security law so as to abolish administrative detention, which allows the authorities to imprison people because of what they think.
  5. Reform the Media Development Authority so that it is no longer able to censor and can solely make recommendations about TV programmes and films.
  6. Allow government opponents and civil society representatives unrestricted access to the public media.
  7. Guarantee the editorial independence of all the media owned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Media Corporation of Singapore (Mediacorp).
  8. Transfer the money that your family has obtained in damages from foreign and Singaporean news media to a support fund for imprisoned journalists that Reporters Without Borders proposes to set up.
We regret that you, the members of your government and your father keep citing the need to guarantee Singapore’s stability as grounds for controlling the media and maintaining its draconian laws. Countries that show the most respect for press freedom, such as Finland and Norway, are peaceful and prosperous democracies. Freedom of expression is not a source of political unrest. Quite the contrary.

You have perpetuated your father’s legacy by continuing to harass and intimidate news media. As a result, aside from a few websites specialising in Singapore, no news outlet can publish independent news and information about issues affecting the political situation in your country.

We would be very honoured to be able to meet with you in order to talk about our observations and our proposals for guaranteeing press freedom in Singapore in person.


Jean-François Julliard

Open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,36832.html

Stop suing journalists: RSF tells Singapore leaders [via]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Suddenly missing instant noodles from Taiwan

Grabbed from here.

All the President's Pens

Really learnt something today. I learnt U.S. Presidents actually have the tradition of using multiple pens to sign papers. Those pens will then be passed to those who have put in effort to help pass the bill or treaty. And since the current President Obama is a lefty, pens for him are custom made for him.

I am also a lefty but then I am using an ordinary Parker and Sheaffer Pen.

Singaporeans are leaving Singapore at a worrying rate

Ever increasing standard of living, expensive education, expensive housing, expensive cars and influx of foreign workers, but stagnant wage increase could be the reason behind more Singaporeans leaving Singapore for other countries e.g. New Zealand.
Even as Singapore continues to attract expatriates from all over the world, its home-grown skilled professionals and graduates are leaving for bigger nations at a worrying rate.

4,500 - and still counting [via]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Parkway Novena Medical Suites See Strong Demand

The soft launch of the medical suites at Parkway Holdings Limited’s (Parkway’s) upcoming hospital and specialist centre at Novena, officially named Parkway Novena Hospital and Parkway Novena Specialist Centre, has seen strong interest from the medical community. Units available in Phase One fully booked up!

Parkway Holdings (P27.SI) ended yet another high to close at S$3.460 per share or 2.37% higher.

Which Browser Should I Use: Firefox or Chrome?

Lifehacker published an article to compare Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, in an attempt to help readers decide which of the two browsers should be used.

Which Browser Should I Use: Firefox or Chrome? [via]

How To Live Longer?

What should be done?
  1. Exposure to sunlight
  2. A little alcohol every day
  3. Big breakfast
  4. Eat more vegetables
  5. Eat a lot of tofu
  6. Have a social circle
  7. Choose your friends well too
  8. Get married
  9. Sleep 7 hours a night
  10. Have a purpose in life
  11. Be optimistic
What not to do?
  1. Exercise too vigorously
  2. Smoking
  3. Diet programs
How To Live Longer [via]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parkway Holdings rally again with Fortis Healthcare buy

Parkway Holdings (P27.SI) continued its rally to end higher by 2.424% to close at S$3.380, with Fortis Healthcare increasing its stake from from 24.67% to 24.81%.

This is good news since my buy price was S$2.140 back then on 7 Oct 2009.

'Last Supper' discovery shocks experts

A pattern found in 52 paintings of Jesus' final meal may shed new light on a troubling trend. This finding suggests that the phenomenon of serving bigger portions on bigger plates, which pushes people to overeat, has also occurred gradually over the same time period.

Super-sizing the "Last Supper" 'Last Supper' discovery shocks experts [via]

COE prices shot up by as much as S$14,000

COE prices shot up by as much as S$14,000 in the latest bidding exercise.
The biggest increase was in the Open category, where the premium closed at S$42,001, an increase of S$14,411. The COE for big cars also saw a significant jump. It rose S$9,700 to S$36,089. For small cars, the new premium stood at S$28,389 - up S$7,587.
It just looks more silly to buy a car now. For the past 5 years, the Singapore government used ERP gantries tactics to control traffic conditions on the road, charging based on usage rather than ownership. This resulted in increasing number of cars on the streets. Now, they are beginning to control ownership by reducing the number of car quotas, and resulting in increase of COE.

Failed policies. Ridiculous!

COEs for all vehicle categories surge in latest bidding exercise [via]

Detecting suspicious account activity

Google Gmail will now display a label whenever your account is logged on from a third party country. E.g. if you are usually logged on from the United States but then one day your account is logged on from Poland, a label in red will be shown at the top to alert you.

I thought this new security feature is pretty useful and practical.

Detecting suspicious account activity [via]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parkway Holdings share price increased with Fortis Healthcare investment

Share price of Parkway Holdings (P27.SI), one of the region's leading providers of healthcare services, ended higher by 1.538% to close at S$3.300. The push in share price coincides with Fortis Healthcare, India’s fastest-growing healthcare company, investment on the company. Mid March 2010, Fortis Healthcare announced its interest to acquire 23.9% of Parkway Holdings in a bid to expand its footprint in Asia. To date, Fortis Healthcare owns 24.67% of Parkway Holdings' shares.
Since 1 March 2010, share price of Parkway Holdings' has climbed from S$2.830 to the current S$3.300, and that's 16.6% in a month. October 2009 share price was in the range of S$2.140.

Going concern concept and Rickmers Maritime Trust

In accounting, going concern concept simply implies that the business will continue to operate for the foreseeable future. In essence, this concept assumes the business remains in existence.

I was reading an article published on 23 March's The Business Times which mentioned Rickmers Maritime Trust (B1ZU.SI) is warned by its auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of its ability to continue as a going concern. PwC said the ability of the group and the trust to continue as going concerns depended on the outcome of the refinancing of the trust’s outstanding US$130 million ($182 million) facility of which the entire outstanding amount of US$128.70 million falls due on 30 April 2010. We are now into April 2010 very soon.

With that news, Rickmers' share price plunged 25.609% today to close at S$0.305 per share. I used to own Rickmers' share when they used to give out almost 10% dividend yield in just one quarter. It is lucky I have none of them now but then, I thought there were preamble warnings since mid last year?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UMS Holdings extended yet another 6.380% today

UMS Holdings (558.SI) extended yet another 6.380% today to close at S$0.250%. Previous two days of trading ended higher too, at 6.818% on Monday and 7.317% last Friday.

UMS has risen more than 47% since two months ago. Since Mar 15, it has risen more than 31%.

Should I sell?

Monday, March 22, 2010

UMS Holdings extended a further 6.818% again

UMS Holdings (558.SI) extended a further 6.818% in today's trade to close at S$0.235 per share. On Friday itself, the stock also ended in bull, closing 7.317% higher.
Observe the sharp increase in share price in March. The stock has since rose close to 40% in just two months.

Schedule for School

Just a reminder for myself.

Challenge for school

  • 02: CS5322 Quiz 1
  • 03: CS4236 Project deadline
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 12: CS5322 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 15: CS5322 choose research topic
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 1
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 2
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 13: CS5322 Quiz 2
  • 15: CS5322 Project deadline
  • XX: CS5322 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 27: CS4236 Exam
  • 28: CS5258 Exam
  • 03: CS5322 Exam
Am currently working on CS5258 Assignment 2.

Strikethrough means I am done with it.

The Expats Will Rule Singapore

I totally agree with Adam Khoo's published article on the likelihood of foreign expatriates ruling Singapore.

The Expats Will Rule Singapore [via]

Facebook Scam Alert: Facebook Profile Spy

Early this year, I made a post on a spam alert "Profile Spy", asking to advice users of Facebook to not to join the group. The group is said to send notification whenever someone visits your profile page. I am here reposting this because I still notice people are adding or joining the group/application.

The lesson to be learnt when using Facebook is not to add any applications that are not trusted. Once an untrusted application is added, the application may be able to do a retrieval of your personal information that are not protected. When I say not protected, I mean to say private information not set with the correct privacy settings. Many such information are by default not set private.

This is a "social disease". Let's be prudent and cautious. If I have the time, I may make a quick post on Facebook security/privacy issue.

Facebook Scam Alert: Facebook Profile Spy [via]

COE prices of cars to shoot up so ...

I actually woke up from a drunkard state thinking the high COE prices of cars. COE should go up more when the new formula to compute quotas kick in soon. It may go as high as $30K.

Yet another one strong factor to stop me from getting a car. Let's all take public transport. No wonder public transport operators' shares e.g. SMRT are rising each day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Analects of Confucius

eBook download here

Considering adding one more stock to my current portfolio

What should it be? Sector?

Weekly Address: Time for Action on Financial Reform for the Economy

Less than 2 months to go

Less than 2 months to go before the next vacation arrives. It is getting near!

Big O notation

To whoever may be interested in the mathematics, computer science, or computational complexity theory topic of Big O notation, read the article by wikipedia below.

In mathematics, computer science, and related fields, big O notation (also known as Big Oh notation, Landau notation, Bachmann–Landau notation, and asymptotic notation) describes the limiting behavior of a function when the argument tends towards a particular value or infinity, usually in terms of simpler functions. Big O notation allows its users to simplify functions in order to concentrate on their growth rates: different functions with the same growth rate may be represented using the same O notation.

Big O notation [via]

Benefits of increasing the school week

A great WSJ article on the benefits of increasing the school week. We should resist reduction as much as possible.

The Case for Saturday School [via]

Laozi 老子 - The Mystic Light

The Mystic Light

In order to contract, it is necessary first to expand.
In order to weaken, it is necessary first to strengthen.
In order to reduce, it is necessary first to build up.
In order to receive, it is necessary first to give.
This is called the mystic Light.
The soft and gentle overcome the hard and strong.
As fish stay in the deep water,
so sharp weapons of the state should not be displayed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What type of programmer are you and should you be one

Signs that you're a bad programmer
  1. Inability to reason about code
  2. Poor understanding of the language's programming model
  3. Deficient research skills / Chronically poor knowledge of the platform's features
  4. Inability to comprehend pointers
  5. Difficulty seeing through recursion
  6. Distrust of code
Signs that you are a mediocre programmer
  1. Inability to think in sets
  2. Lack of critical thinking
  3. Pinball Programming
  4. Unfamiliar with the principles of security
  5. Code is a mess
Signs that you shouldn't be a programmer
  1. Inability to determine the order of program execution
  2. Insufficient ability to think abstractly
  3. Collyer Brothers syndrome
  4. Dysfunctional sense of causality
  5. Indifference to outcomes
Above extracted [via]

Nondeterministic Polynomial (NP) Problems

Interesting concepts. 

Investor Alert List

MoneySense published a list of companies that are NOT regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to carry out financial activities. The list is not exhaustive and will be updated. Some familiar ones I see are for example land banking The Profitable Group (Profitable Plots Pte Ltd) and MLM Sunshine Empire Pte Ltd.

A separate list of financial institutions regulated by MAS can be found here.

Always do your homework before you have any dealings with a financial company, especially those from the Investor Alert List.

Caveat emptor.

Investor Alert List [via]

Google Chrome latest release comes with translation service

The latest stable release of Google Chrome provides a feature to auto detect foreign languages displayed on a webpage and allows the capability to translate it to your preferred language.

Chrome is getting convincingly a better ever browser.

A faster, simpler, and safer browser goes polyglot [via]

Is Bangkok getting dangerous?

Within this week, 6x40mm grenades fired to army compound and 4 exploded, 1x40mm grenade fired to house, and total 40 rounds at least of M16 fired to 2 houses.

Is Bangkok getting dangerous? I have a friend going to Bangkok next week for a holiday and I hope situation there will improve by then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

UMS included in Top small-cap picks by CIMB-GK

CIMB-GK is my most trusted analyst.

UMS Holdings ended 7.317% higher

UMS Holdings (558.SI) ended 7.317% higher to close at S$0.220 per share. The stock has since rose 30% higher in just two months.

Fundamentally, the higher confidence on UMS Holdings and its peers could be due to the improving semiconductor and electronics sector. On downside, technical analysis reveals the stock may be overbought.

Fab tool book-to-bill jumps

Mark LaPedus
(02/18/2010 7:15 PM EST)

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The fab tool business is heating up after a major downturn.

Tool bookings are up and at their highest levels since April of 2008. But many ask a simple question: How long will the party last before the next downturn? Some say we are in a two-year super cycle. Others see a slowdown in mid-2010.

In any case, North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.20 in January, up from 1.07 in December, according to SEMI. A book-to-bill of 1.20 means that $120 worth of orders was received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

"Semiconductor capital equipment bookings are at the highest level since April 2008," said Stanley Myers, president and CEO of San Jose-based SEMI, in a statement. "The book-to-bill ratio of 1.20 reflects the robust capex spending plans announced by semiconductor device manufacturers over the past several months."

The three-month average of worldwide bookings in January 2010 was $1.13 billion. The bookings figure is up 24.1 percent from the final December 2009 level of $912.7 million, and more than three times higher than the $277.2 million in orders posted in January 2009.

The three-month average of worldwide billings in January 2010 was $946.3 million. The billings figure is 11.3 percent greater than the final December 2009 level of $850.1 million, and 62.0 percent more than the January 2009 billings level of $584.2 million.

Some wonder if the party will soon end. U.S. weekly leading economic indicators are pointing to a weakening of the U.S. economy in mid-2010, resulting in a slowdown in semiconductor revenues, according to The Information Network, a research firm.

Semiconductor revenues will grow 11.2 percent in 2010 to $245 billion, up from $220 billion in 2009, according to the firm.

Forecasts are pointing to global capex growing more than 50 percent in 2010. With the slowdown in chip sales, semiconductor manufacturers will reduce capital spending to the 20 percent range, according to the firm.

Still, fab tool vendors are seeing an upturn. Vendors are posting mixed results. As reported, Applied Materials Inc. this week posted strong results in the quarter amid a rebound in the fab and LCD tool markets.

Japan's Ulvac Inc.'s ''results were announced last week, and were better than expected, in our view. Sales were under plan due to delays in shipments in solar gear, but profits were over plan,'' said David Motozo Rubenstein, an analyst with MF Global FXA Securities Ltd., in a report.

''The key takeaway from Q2 results and our conversations with Ulvac is that the LCD equipment business is very strong, and that the 2H company forecast for LCD orders is conservative. We understand that China LCD panel projects have not been decided by the Korean majors, but are official at three non-Korean companies,'' he said.

Ion implanter supplier Axcelis Technologies Inc. reported third quarter revenue of $35.0 million, compared to $33.6 million for the second quarter of 2009.

Net loss for the third quarter was $15.9 million, or minus $0.15 per share. This compares to a net loss for the second quarter of 2009 of $22.4 million, or $0.22 per share of which $4.1 million ($.04 per share) was attributable to restructuring charges.

In the corresponding quarter for the previous year, the company reported revenue of $46.5 million, and a net loss of $24.7 million, or $0.24 per share.

Metrology tool vendor Nanometrics Inc. said revenues were $26.3 million, up 2 percent from $25.8 million in the third quarter of 2009 and up 29 percent from $20.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Net loss was $0.3 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, compared to net income of $1.6 million, or $0.08 per share, in the third quarter of 2009 and a net loss of $2.6 million, or $0.14 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Rival Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd. said revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 were $15.2 million, an increase of 145 percent relative to the fourth quarter of 2008, and an increase of 34 percent relative to the third quarter of 2009.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported quarterly net income of $2.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, or $0.13 per diluted share. This compares to a GAAP net loss of $1.6 million, or $0.08 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, and a net income of $1.7 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2009.

On the materials side, photomask maker Photronics Inc. said sales for the first quarter were $98.2 million, an increase of 12 percent compared to $88.0 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2009.

GAAP net income was $0.2 million, or $0.00 earnings per diluted share, compared to net loss attributable to Photronics, Inc. of $10.2 million, or $0.25 loss per share for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

In a statement, Constantine Macricostas, Photronics' chairman and chief executive, commented: "First quarter sales improved sequentially in what is normally a slow period seasonally and marked the sixth consecutive quarterly increase of high-end integrated circuit photomask sales. Improvement in sales of both high-end flat panel display and integrated circuit photomasks confirms the continued success of our market penetration strategy."

Stay vested.

CapitalMalls Asia ended 2.575% higher before 22 Mar entry into STI

CapitalMalls Asia Limited (JS8.SI) ended 2.575% higher today before planned 22 March 2010 entry as a component of the Straits Times Index (STI) to replace Cosco Corp (F83.SI). Cosco Corp ended 1.574% lower today.

Once included as part of the STI, fund managers who are tracking the index will have to offload Cosco and stock up on CapitalMalls Asia instead. CapitalMalls Asia ended to be the 10th most heavily traded stock, 15,160,000 shares in volume or S$35,924,990, on the Singapore Exchange.

Trip to USS postponed till 30 April

Long wait !



Quick preview on Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft has announced their plans for their new Internet Explorer 9.0. This new browser is still in its infant stage and the interface is still pretty barebones e.g. there is no proper address bar but just a simple "go to" popup window. This is a developers' test tool, really. If you eager to test it out, you may find it here.

Some of the new promises of IE9 are native H.264 streaming support through HTML5, SVG rendering, faster JavaScript engine, and many more.

Windows Internet Explorer 9.0

Internet Explorer 9: A Fresh Start, With HTML5 [via]

YouTube allows stop buffering video feature

YouTube added a new feature to stop buffering a video. Previously, if you were to pause a video, the video continues downloading itself. However, there can be times when the played video is not interesting and so a stop buffering feature would be great to save some bandwidth especially for slow network connections users.

This new feature is useful but then it is a shame that YouTube did not get it work properly. The download should stop once "stop buffering" is selected but the player should still continue playing the frames already buffered. And to make it more perfect, there should also be a "Resume downloading" option.

the mrbrown show: pok-kai face

Popular blogger Mr Brown posted a podcast on how expensive it is to own a house or car in Singapore. Enjoy!

Top 10 Things That Annoy Programmers

An article from a blog talks on the top 10 things that annoy programmers. I sort of agree on most of them.

Top 10 Things That Annoy Programmers [via]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Considering in taking courses related to personal finance

I am considering in taking courses related to personal finance after I completed my Masters end of this year.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New CPF Changes in 2010

As announced on CPF website [via].

Something to cheer for

Almost all the stocks in my portfolio are seeing more than considerable amount of profit. This is really something worth cheering for. The below statistics include dividends.
  1. Cambridge Industrial Trust [J91U.SI] +0.000%
  2. CapitalMalls Asia Limited [JS8.SI] +1.740%
  3. Koh Brothers Group Limited [K75.SI] -3.850%
  4. Mapletree Logistics Trust [M44U.SI] +32.540%
  5. Neptune Orient Lines Limited [N03.SI] +5.510%
  6. Parkway Holdings Limited [P27.SI] +49.070
  7. SMRT Corporation Limited [S53.SI] +15.610%
  8. Singapore Exchange Limited [S68.SI] -32.830%
  9. Singapore Technologies Engineering Limited [S63.SI] +19.330% *Does not include employee shares
  10. UMS Holdings Limited [558.SI] +20.590%

My next bus will be arriving in 44 minutes time

I think I can take a nap first.

Mah Bow Tan defends HDB policies on Talking Point

Is public housing still affordable and will the recent measures help to reduce the property fever? Watch Singapore National Development Minister, Mah Bow Tan, defends HDB policies on Talking Point.

Reds complete blood ritual

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship on Tuesday performed a ritual to bring down the government, pouring blood taken from its supporters at all four gates of Government House.

I thought pouring of blood is unhygienic.

Reds complete blood ritual [via]

Mondrian Multidimensional K-Anonymity

Have decided to do research and implementation on "Mondrian Multidimensional K-Anonymity" algorithm. I just hope the algorithm can be formulated with reasonable amount of effort.

Inproceedings (DBLP:conf/icde/LeFevreDR06)
LeFevre, K.; DeWitt, D. J. & Ramakrishnan, R.
Liu, L.; Reuter, A.; Whang, K.-Y. & Zhang, J. (ed.)
Mondrian Multidimensional K-Anonymity
IEEE Computer Society, 2006, 25

Access: [IEEE] [pdf]

Bumpy flight

Whenever I fly, it rained. Weird.

But I just love bumpy flights ;p

No one is indispensable

There is this saying "No one is indispensable" to describe no one in a company is absolutely important and given time, someone else can definitely take up his or her role.

So, how true is the proverb "No one is indispensable"?

At work, I am assigned to two projects and out of the two, I am basically the only one in charge of almost all its software. The system engineer, the firmware engineer in charge of the controller and I myself are usually the three who are always present in every integration test at site. The three of us are always planned to fly in every flight trials.

Taking the coming acceptance test for software portion for instance, I am the only one setting up the test and conducting the test.

Yes, I am getting worried. Worried on the theory of key-man assumption. I will press on and give my 200% effort and hope to clock as many man hours as possible, to clear as many backlogs as possible, to close as many requests as possible, to ...

I still believe in "No one is indispensable".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Different ways to access Gmail

Different ways to access Gmail in case of outages or for some other reasons.
  1. Plain HTML

  2. Safe mode without labs

  3. Mobile (normal)

  4. Mobile(iPhone)

Internet ‘In Running’ for Nobel Peace Prize: BBC

The BBC reports that ‘the internet’ is among a record 237 individuals and organizations nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, up from even last year’s all-time high of 205.

Internet ‘In Running’ for Nobel Peace Prize: BBC [via]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hope my friend's auntie can survive

Whenever I hear someone else's life is hanging on a fine thread, it always makes me feel rather down and sad. I hope my friend's auntie can survive the coming bone marrow transplant. Despite the chances of survival is a mere 10%, the transplant must still go on since it is the wish of the patient.


Am waiting for 1 Apr visit to the Universal Studios


The Best Jobs in America

The top is totally unexpected.

System Engineer = Highest low stress?!?! So does that mean ranking criteria has higher weightage on stress level?


How Google Works?

Google tries to explain how Google really works and their three core businesses in three videos.
As a company, Google focuses on three key areas: Search, Ads and Apps. Search is our core technology; ads are our central business proposition; and apps are the umbrella over our web-based software that you can access anywhere, any time. While each of these has a lot of technology under the hood, the basic tenets for Search, Ads and Apps are very simple. We've created some short videos explaining the principles behind our core services.

How Search Works

How Search Ads Work

How Google Apps Work

How Google Works

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disasters - How to Stay in Business

I was doing research on articles relating to Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and I came across the following interesting article by Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

It is just a 4-pages PDF article. Read it at your own free time :)

Alonso winner, M. Schumacher 6th

Formula One new Ferrari driver, Fernando Alonso, finished on pole in Bahrain, alongside team mate Felipe Massa. With due respect, seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, finished the race 6th picking up 8 points. This showed Michael Schumacher still what it takes after a three years hiatus.


How to stop Buzz from sending you emails into your inbox?

Gmail has added a new configuration setting to allow users to choose not to allow Buzz from sending emails to your inbox whenever there is a new posting or reply.

You can find the new settings from the Buzz tab of Gmail Settings.

Better controls for buzz in your inbox [via]

Dick Lee -- National Song

Daylight Saving Time & Spring Break

Daylight Saving Time is here again and this means 1-hour less of sleep time for some northerners. This is certainly not affecting me since I am near the equator.

Daylight Saving Time: Remind me again why we 'spring forward'? [via]
Wikipedia: Daylight saving time [via]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lehman Brothers and their US$50 bllion creative accounting

Read on below on Lehman Brothers and how they tried to hide US$50 billion assets in their balance sheet in 2008. The question now is could auditing firm Ernst & Young be the next Enron?

Should you are interested in the Enron case, read the wikipedia.

Could Lehman be Ernst & Young's Enron? [via]

Robert Shiller on market sentiment

“It ultimately comes from people watching the markets, seeing the prices change and then changing their opinions, and then there's a contagion that drives the economy into a difficult period for a while.”

-- Professor Robert Shiller, Economist & Author, Yale University

Robert Shiller on possible double-dip recession in USA

Yale University economist Robert Shiller is a perhaps America's pre-eminent academic expert on fluctuations in both the housing and stock markets. He was the first to warn explicitly of the looming subprime disaster in 2005.

Here, Prof Robert Shiller joins Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in an interview and commented on a possible double-dip recession in USA.

Transcript in full can be found here.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: It was the bursting of the American subprime housing bubble that triggered the Global Financial Crisis, and while the US is slowly climbing out of its worse slowdown since the Great Depression, with house prices edging tentatively upwards with the recovery, unemployment in America is still stuck at close to 10 per cent and some of the country's most credible economists are still refusing to rule out a slide back into recession. But while Australia these days is able to rely substantially on Asian markets, particularly China, to feed our ongoing resources boom, the fragility of America - and Europe, for that matter - are still capable of hurting the stronger economies.

Yale University economist Robert Shiller is a perhaps America's pre-eminent academic expert on fluctuations in both the housing and stock markets. He was the first to warn explicitly of the looming subprime disaster in 2005 and co-founded America's leading home price index. I spoke with Professor Shiller earlier today. He was in his Yale office.

Robert Shiller, how do you read the American economy right now?

PROF.ROBERT SHILLER, ECONOMIST & AUTHOR, YALE UNI: Well, we had a serious recession, the most serious since the Great Depression. Everything looks much better now, but there are still worries ahead and I think we might have a double dip. That means another recession, possibly.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So what's the risk of that happening?

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: Right now, 90 per cent of the housing market is supported by the Government. And the Government is committed to withdrawing that support. Housing is an important component of our GDP. Confidence has come back, but it still remains at low levels, so we don't know that consumer confidence will support a lot of consumption and expenditure, and we don't know that investment expenditure will go at a high rate as long as this kind of economic uncertainty continues. And I also think that home prices, while they're rising, they may fall, because we have a huge overhang of homes that are likely to be foreclosed and be dumped on the market.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How vulnerable do the banks remain?

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: Well, the banks have been bailed out by the Government. Things are coming along better. But if the mortgage crisis gets - if home prices decline, the banks will continue to see losses. Because the foreclosures will get worse if home prices decline again. There's been some resurgence of confidence. One thing that I've been saying in my recent book called 'Animal Spirits', that there is a fundamentally unpredictable component of human nature and human confidence, and right now it's coming back. So I don't know. I could see either scenario of a recovery or of a turnaround and bad times ahead.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But what happens when the stimulus package runs out because so much of the climb back has been based on that?

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: Well that's one of the downers, one of the issues, because the stimulus package is becoming more and more controversial. Same thing that happened in the Great Depression. (Inaudible) about 1937-'38 when the economy fell into a recession again, Roosevelt was not able to get as big a stimulus package as he did earlier. People were starting to think, well, this wasn't working, we're still in the Depression, and they doubt that they want to see the national debt increased. Concerns about the national debt start to become more prominent and it makes it harder to do a stimulus package. And we might repeat that scenario.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Obama has obviously tried to restore confidence and a number of times now he's invoked Roosevelt's line of, "Nothing to fear save fear itself," but the magic of Obama does seem to have waned somewhat.

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: Well, that's what happened to Presidents after they're elected: they turn out to be real people, and it's declined a little bit more than with other Presidents. There's also - I am troubled by the amount of anger in the United States, and the Tea Party movement has assumed amazing proportions. That's something that I couldn't have predicted. There's hostility toward the establishment in the United States right now. It's the kind of thing that goes along with massive unemployment and feeling that somehow the Government has failed us. And this sense of disappointment is part of my worry about the economy as well, because this kind of angry, disappointed, worried mood is not good for business.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well unemployment is still hovering around 10 per cent, much worse in some important parts of the national economy like California. Can you see what's going to drive unemployment down in the near future?

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: I don't know that it is gonna go down in the near future. Even in the past recessions, it's been slow to recover, and it seems that we are more damaged than usual. This was a crisis that distributed all of our major financial institutions and it left people wondering whether the too big to fail institutions, which are zombies in some cases, that are being kept alive by the Government, whether they are the future of this country. So it's not a good situation for long-term growth. And ultimately it's entrepreneurship, it's innovation that propels the normal growth that we have. We can't be living in an economy where it's difficult to innovate and expect to have even normal growth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: If America does fall back into recession and it happens relatively soon, one would imagine that could be quite crushing on the nation's psyche, really, in terms of confidence.

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: Well, I don't like to do this. You're making me do a double dip scenario, 'cause it might not happen. We're kind of in a wishful thinking mode right now. I mean, because if I spell out a scenario, that's exactly the kind of thing that diminishes confidence and we're hoping to have confidence come back. On the other hand, I am a scholar and I don't shrink from telling what I think is a truth or what is a possibility. I mean, the scenario for me would be one in which financial markets decline and housing prices decline again. Home prices can decline again. It works like a feedback mechanism. It's kind of a social academic. Some kind of minor bad news starts prices down and then people see prices falling and there'll be (inaudible) talk and negative stories start to assume prominence. There might be some financial failures that are naturally caused by declining prices, and it just cycles downward. That's the thing: you know, you asked what would be the trigger? There is no clear trigger for any of the major financial crises. You talk about the Asian Financial Crisis, you talk about the Great Depression: there is no clear trigger for any of these things. It ultimately comes from people watching the markets, seeing the prices change and then changing their opinions, and then there's a contagion that drives the economy into a difficult period for a while.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Australia's housing downturn was relatively short-lived and we're now heating up again quite substantially in most cities. What's your instinctive reaction to that?

PROF. ROBERT SHILLER: I would imagine that it has bubble aspects to it. But, you know, maybe I shouldn't say; I'm a foreigner, I'm not ... I was recently in China and I got to talk to a lot of people. And I could smell and sniff a bubble there. What I mean by that is I could see that people's judgments were influenced by rising prices, and the rising prices were amplifying for them optimistic stories, and that's what happens in a bubble. We've seen this happen in the United States. I've been doing questionnaire surveys, and during the - in 2003, when our boom was going gangbusters, we were seeing 15 to 20 per cent expected returns for 10 years. People thought it's gonna go on forever. I know because we've done questionnaires and asked them. And it was a wild expectation. It was generated out of excitement from the real estate price increase. And we know that the cities where prices were going up more, there were stronger long-term expectations. These expectations were ultimately violated because the prices came down, but - so I don't think they were rational expectations; they were bubble expectations. And there's an easy tendency for this to happen again. So when I hear that in Australia prices are going out rapidly, I'm inclined to suspect that something similar to what has happened in China is happening. And I think that the Australians may well be deceived, just as we were in the United States, by the sense that prices never fall here. That Australia hasn't seen any significant drop of prices, that seems to mean, in a very intuitive way of thinking, that it can't happen here. But that's exactly what ultimately makes it happen.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Robert Shiller, thanks very much for talking with us.


KERRY O'BRIEN: Food for thought.

Jack Neo's press conference on recent scandal

I hope the reporters stop reporting news on Jack Neo's recent scandal and let the family get on with their lives. There are people who commented this very dramatic less than 5 minutes press conference staged but no matter what, I still feel whether Jack's wife and 4 children can live normally largely depends on if the public are willing to forgive and forget Jack's wrongdoings.

Of course I am NOT saying have extramartial affair is a right thing to do.

Pleased with myself

I am actually quite pleased with myself for being able to get through the past two weeks. Though there weren't any hiccups, it was not easy either. 1 group project, 2 individual assignments and 1 quiz pretty much kept me occupied and busy for 14 full days.

The next challenge would be work. Schedule for work, at least till end of March, is now confirmed. 16 & 18 flight trials; 19, 20 (Sat) & 22 internal software acceptance test (SWAT); 23, 24 & 25 software acceptance test; 26 lab acceptance test. So, I am going to be stationed at DSO, CAB or/and PLAB on a single day i.e. it is highly possible I need to split myself into two to be present in two different locations on a single day. I hope I can still make it for my evening classes.

Challenge for school

  • 02: CS5322 Quiz 1
  • 03: CS4236 Project deadline
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 12: CS5322 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 15: CS5322 choose research topic
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 1
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 2
  • 13: CS5322 Quiz 2
  • 15: CS5322 Project deadline
  • XX: CS4236 Assignment 2 deadline
  • XX: CS5322 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 27: CS4236 Exam
  • 28: CS5258 Exam
  • 03: CS5322 Exam
Strikethrough means I am done with it.

Pay TV providers SingTel, StarHub now required to cross-carry exclusive content

The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) has revised the Media Market Conduct Code (MMCC 2010) today to enable mandatory cross carriage of exclusive content in the Pay TV market. This new rule requires qualified pay TV licensees like SingTel and Starhub to cross carry each other’s content that is acquired or renewed on an exclusive basis on or after 12 March 2010.

For example, if SingTel acquires a new exclusive channel, it must make this channel available to StarHub and other qualified pay TV licenses. This means consumers can watch an exclusive channel through just one Pay TV retailer without having to install multiple set top boxes.

Media market conduct code revised to better serve consumers and create more opportunities for industry growth [via]

NTUC Income increasing expenses?

Is NTUC Income, a cooperative, increasing its expenses?

Worrying NTUC Income Rising Expenses? [via]
Luxurious trip to Beijing [via] and their unbelievable itinerary [via]

Fortis Healthcare to acquire 23.9% of Parkway Holdings

Fortis Healthcare, India’s fastest-growing healthcare company, it would buy 23.9% of Singapore’s Parkway Holdings in healthcare service provider Parkway Holdings from TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group). Parkway has a network of 16 hospitals having 3,400 beds spread over six countries, including India. The deal size is estimated to be about US$685.3 million ($959.4 million). This deal will give the Indian hospital chain a foothold in Singapore and Malaysia and make it the biggest private hospital network in Asia.

Separately, Macquarie has raised Parkway Holdings target price to $3.45 from $3.19 on back of earnings forecasts upgrades. Macquarie believes Parkway remains the best proxy to Asian healthcare and Singapore’s medical tourism drive. It also tips imminent launch of medical suites at new Novena hospital as share price catalyst. Today, Parkway Holdings announced a soft launch for the phase 1 of the sale of Novena medical suites.

Look at the climb and the increase in trade volume for the past one week!

CapitalMalls Asia to replace Cosco in STI after half-yearly review

The Singapore Exchange has announced that CapitalMalls Asia Limited will replace Cosco Corp Singapore in STI after half-yearly review. After this news is official, CaitalMalls Asia ended higher by 1.282% to close at $2.370 whereas Cosco Corp ended lower by 2.830% to close at $1.230.

The STI reserve list, comprising the five highest ranking non-constituents of the STI by market capitalisation, will be (in order of size) Keppel Land Ltd, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, Yanlord Land Group Ltd and Parkway Holdings Ltd. Companies in the reserve list will replace any constituents that become ineligible as a result of corporate actions before the next review.

The possibility of CapitalMalls Asia entry into the STI is one of the main reasons as to why I bought the shares a week ago. I am also glad that Parkway Holdings is mentioned even though it is in the reserve list. Parkway Holdings is still in a strong position at $3.110 per share.

CapitaMalls Asia to join STI after half-yearly review [via]

Olivia Ong 王儷婷 -- You and Me

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SMRT Corp rated top transport operator in Singapore

Deutsche Bank has rated SMRT (S53.SG) as the top pick company in the public transport sector in Singapore. Recently, SMRT posted a 4.4% on-year increase in February train ridership, and an increase of 9.3% year-to-date ridership. SMRT, as a defensive stock and with a decent 4.4% dividend yield, the broker maintains a "buy" rating of $2.34 price target.

Separately, JPMorgan has upgraded SMRT to "overweight" from "neutral" to $2.25 from $1.90, on the expected acceleration in rail ridership with the opening of new train stations along the Circle Line (CCL).

Gates deposed by Slim; Slim is richest in the world now

Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, is now the world's richest man, overtaking philanthropist Bill Gates. Following behind them is yet another respected philanthropist, Warren Buffett.

I respect both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for their philanthropy work and their willingness to give back to the society.

The World's Billionaires [via]

Bing shares on search market is up again

The latest data from comScore on the U.S. search market came out today and it shows Microsoft's search engine Bing continued slow but steady crawl to number two, rising from 11.3 to 11.5 percent of the search market. This is at the expense of Yahoo search engine. Yahoo fell from 17.0 to 16.8 percent from January to February. Meanwhile, Google, managed a slight increase for the month of February, from 65.4 to 65.5 percent of the U.S. search market.

February Search Results Are In: Bing Is Up Again, Yahoo Is Down Again [via]

Am surprised oral constitutes such a high percentage

From 2012, the oral component of the Mother Tongue languages will be given greater weightage in the "O", "N" and "A" level examinations. For "A" level, it will be 50 per cent, significantly higher than the current 30 per cent!


More marks for Mother Tongue orals at "N", "O" & "A" levels from 2012 [via]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Research papers reading again

I am doing research papers reading once again. This time round, I am expected to compare the below two literature papers, write a critic on them and make comparisons between them.

Tough papers.
  1. “Executing SQL over Encrypted Data in the Database-Service-Provider Model”, H. Hacigumus, B. R. Iyer, C. Li, S. Mehrotra, In Proc. of SIGMOD, 2002. [acm] [pdf]

  2. “Balancing Confidentiality and Efficiency in Untrusted Relational DBMSs”, E. Damiani, S. DeCapitani de Vimercati, S. Jajodia, S. Paraboschi, P. Samarati, In Proc. of ACM CCS, 2003. [acm] [pdf]
Deadline: Mar 12, Fri.

Shares ended mostly higher

  1. Cambridge Industrial Trust [J91U.SI] 1.111%
  2. CapitalMalls Asia Limited [JS8.SI] 1.777%
  3. Koh Brothers Group Limited [K75.SI] 4.444%
  4. Mapletree Logistics Trust [M44U.SI] 0.620%
  5. Neptune Orient Lines Limited [N03.SI] 2.564%
  6. Parkway Holdings Limited [P27.SI] 1.333%
  7. SMRT Corporation Limited [S53.SI] 0.510%
  8. Singapore Exchange Limited [S68.SI] 0.910%
  9. Singapore Technologies Engineering Limited [S63.SI] 0.946%
  10. UMS Holdings Limited [558.SI] 0.000%

Finally done with my CS4236 Assignment 1

After a few days of sleepless nights and long hours of work on my CS4236 Assignment 1, it is finally over. I must admit it is a tough project, requiring many hours of commitment and hard work. Not only it requires implementation towards a security problem, it also requires a report on the implementation.

Nevertheless, this project, which requires intensive readings of research papers and fairly deep understanding of encryption algorithms like RC4, on cracking of WEP keys, is an interesting, practical and challenging one.

I wonder what would the Assignment 2 be based on. It's time to catch few hours of rest before embarking on clearing the next deadline - CS5322 Assignment 1.

  • 02: CS5322 Quiz 1
  • 03: CS4236 Project deadline
  • 10: CS4236 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 12: CS5322 Assignment 1 deadline
  • 15: CS5322 choose research topic
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 1
  • 05: CS5258 Assignment 2
  • 13: CS5322 Quiz 2
  • 15: CS5322 Project deadline
  • XX: CS4236 Assignment 2 deadline
  • XX: CS5322 Assignment 2 deadline
  • 27: CS4236 Exam
  • 28: CS5258 Exam
  • 03: CS5322 Exam
Strikethrough means I am done with it.

Gmail does not allow executable attachments, not even in a zip file

For security reasons, Google Gmail does not allow attachments which are executables, not even if they are contained in a compressed zip file, for both incoming and outgoing emails.

Unlike Gmail, Yahoo! Mail allows executables attachments, meaning to say, Yahoo! Mail allows both sending and receiving of emails with executables attachments.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hellen Keller classic quote

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

-- Helen Keller, US blind & deaf educator (1880 - 1968)

Palm oil stocks: Are the good times ending?

By the way, I do not own any palm oil stocks though I used to more than a year ago.

Palm oil stocks: Are the good times ending?
Written by Thomson Reuters
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 10:09

Shares of Asia’s palm plantation companies have rallied over the last one year, riding a rebound in the prices of crude palm oil (CPO) due to lower seasonal production and dry weather conditions.

However, growth of at least 50% in the plantations index has lagged a rise of 55% in Malaysia’s benchmark index fuelled by bank stocks after the central bank raised interest rates last week.

And CPO prices may not stay high much longer because temperatures are set to cool and soybean oil, a rival vegetable oil, is expected to flood the market in the second quarter from a bumper harvest in South America.

Benchmark CPO futures on the Malaysian derivatives exchange are now trading at around 2,680 ringgit ($1,124) a tonne, or about 40% off a March 2008 record of 4,486 ringgit.

A January Reuters poll showed that average palm oil prices in Asia were set to rise more slowly this year and the next as gains from strong global demand are curbed by record vegetable oil output.


CPO prices are expected to face significant downward pressure in April when a bumper crop of South American soybean is harvested, analysts said.

Palm oil, a cheaper substitute, is now trading at a 5% discount to soybean oil and if that gap narrows, analysts expect consumers to switch from CPO to soy oil, a healthier option.

Macquarie Research said the rebound in plantation stocks gave investors a good opportunity to reduce their exposure.

It rated IOI and Sime Darby as underperformers because both trade at 18 times 2010 earnings in a sector that trades at an average multiple of 17, and have the lowest production growth over the next three years.

“We believe the recent strength in CPO prices is largely seasonal, with the trend likely to reverse from the second quarter onwards,” it said in a note last week.

Concerns that recent dry weather will limit CPO production and keep prices high may be misplaced as plantation owners have not reported any abnormal impact from the lack of rainfall, said analysts.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department reported lower-than-usual rainfall in February, but it is predicting average to above average rainfall from April.

Drier-than-normal weather worsens biological tree stress and reduces the amount of fruit produced by a tree to make palm oil.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are the only markets in the world where stocks of palm plantation companies are traded. Shares of Indonesia’s Indofood Agri jumped the most, up 310% from a year ago, followed by London Sumatra, up 183%. Singapore’s Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil producer, rose 126% and Sime gained 57%.


“The weather is one factor that cannot be predicted, but our view is that plantation stocks will still do well this year,” said Ang Kok Heng, chief investment officer at Phillip Capital Management.

Strong consumption growth in China and India, the world’s top two importers of palm oil, will hold up demand for the vegetable oil this year, he said.

Global demand for CPO in January jumped 19.4% to 1.46 million tonnes, driven mostly by China’s stocking for the Lunar New Year.

Investors looking for long-term exposure to the sector should consider mid-cap Malaysian planters, such as IJM Plantations and Kulim, said Ang.

“There are opportunities to add (buy),” he said.

Standard Chartered Research, which recently initiated coverage of the plantation sector, is recommending a “buy” on the purer plantation companies.

“With their higher relative plantation exposure, lower valuations and higher betas, our preference is for Indonesian planters,” analyst Adrian Foulger said in a note, naming London Sumatra, Indofood Agri and Golden Agri.

HwangDBS prefers plantation stocks listed in Singapore or Indonesia over their fully-valued Malaysian peers, said David Ng, its chief investment officer.

“We are looking at non-Malaysian planters and would buy on weakness,” he said.

Google Buzz Desktop

If you are using Google Buzz but would like to use it without going through Gmail, now you can do so by installing an application called Google Buzz Desktop.

However, do not that Google Buzz Desktop is built by a Spanish developer, someone not from Google. The desktop application is based on the Adobe AIR platform. Since the application is built by a Spanish developer, you may spot labels used in some of the icons and buttons to be in Spanish.

Google Buzz Desktop

Minister Mah Bow Tan being "worshipped"

Read for yourself.

Appreciation to Minister Mah Bow Tan [via]

NOL rose 4.232% and nearly breached $2.00 per share

Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) rose 4.232% to end at $1.97 per share today. Its intra-day high of $1.99 per share is a mere 1 cent shy to breach $2.00.

Impressive bull run for NOL. Certainly the best performer among its blue chips peers in the Straits Times Index (STI).

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Beauty of LaTeX

This person focuses on typography. Ain't too sure if LaTex is really better than a WYSIWYC editor. But it indeed caught my attention.

The Beauty of LaTeX [via]


Hungry Beast, a news program from Australia, had an article on Google that defines Google as an advertising giant whose main goal is to track users and deliver targeted ads.

Do note that some statistics from the article are outdated.


Efficient swapping of values using XOR

A more efficient method in swapping values of 2 variables can be done using XOR operation instead of creating a third variable for temporary storage.

The below C# code snippet illustrates just that.

byte a, b; // May use other datatypes like int

a = 1;
b = 2;

a ^= b;
b ^= a;
a ^= b;

// Now a and b are swapped

Yuan, the renminbi, may rise against the U.S. dollar

Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan remarked that China may allow the Yuan (元), also known as the renminbi, to rise against the U.S. dollar. Inflation in China is picking up as the economy recovers, a problem that could result in social unrest. A stroner currency could help address inflation.

Zhou Signals Yuan Policy Shift [via]

And the Oscar Goes to... Apple?

The reason why Apple "won" an Oscar award is because nine out of the 10 films up for Oscar awards in the two documentaries categories were created with the help of Apple's Final Cut Pro Software.

And the Oscar Goes to... Apple? [via]

Jack Neo admits affair

Jack Neo has confessed to a 2-year affair with a freelance model less than half his age. His wife knows about it but chooses to 'close one eye'.


Jack Neo admits affair [via]

YouTube Makes Captioning Available to All

YouTube has moved its automatic speech-recognition and closed-captioning technology out of beta and have now made it available to all. It also includes two BETA features, on-the-fly language translation and audio transcription, and both are still quite buggy from my observation.

You may watch the video below and play around with the new Captioning feature. Play with the two BETA features and you should observe the many "bugs".

YouTube Makes Captioning Available to All [via]

Looking into buying CapitaMalls Asia Limited

I am looking into adding CapitaMalls Asia Limited onto my stock portfolio.

Hope to get it on Monday.

Answer: How to find a set of coordinates in a bounded 2D space?

3 days ago, I posted a Mathematics problem on finding a set of coordinates in a bounded 2D space. I promised to offer my solution to the problem on the coming Sunday which is today.

Given 4 known coordinates, length and breadth of a bounded 2D space, find the set of coordinates (in RED) with its x and y offset in units as shown above.


Using the method of interpolation,
= (103.69926-103.72147)*263/1000 + (103.708975-103.72147)*2017/4000 + 103.72147
= 103.70932816625

= (1.34192-1.34504)*263/1000 + (1.433975-1.34504)*2017/4000) + 1.34504
= 1.38906491375

It took me quite some time before I recalled there exists a method called interpolation to come out with the answer myself. BTW, this problem is work-related and not school-related.

References to interpolation

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Interesting research papers to read on WEP key recovery attack

Research papers (Consolidated)

Upgrade to Office 2010 for free if you have Office 2007

Microsoft announced its "Technology Guarantee" program for Office 2010 on Friday. As part of the program, anyone who buys and activates Office 2007 between now and September 30 will get to upgrade to Office 2010 for free when it becomes available in June 2010.

From TechNet blog:

All you need to be eligible for this program – Office 2010 Technology Guarantee – is the following:
  • Purchase Office 2007, or a new PC with Office 2007, and activate it between March 5, 2010 and September 30, 2010.
  • Have, or create a Windows Live ID.
  • Redeem your Tech Guarantee before October 31, 2010 by visiting
Get Office for Today or Tomorrow [via]

Current stock portfolio

  1. Cambridge Industrial Trust [J91U]
  2. Koh Brothers Group Limited [K75]
  3. Mapletree Logistics Trust [M44U]
  4. Neptune Orient Lines Limited [N03]
  5. Parkway Holdings Limited [P27]
  6. Singapore Exchange Limited [S68]
  7. Singapore Technologies Engineering Limited [S63]
  8. SMRT Corporation Limited [S53]
  9. UMS Holdings Limited [558]
RED means currently at paper loss.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Received Letter of Commendation

I received my third Letter of Commendation with incentive in as many years today. I appreciate that.

Treat paying citizens better at casino

Jamie Yeo shares about her recent trip to the Sentosa IR casino and tells us why she will not visit the casino again. She also felt Singaporeans who are paying the hefty $100 entry fee should be treated better instead of making Singaporeans go through cumbersome and segregating procedures, which are often made to feel like animals, being herded and checked like 2nd rate citizens.

Treat paying citizens better at casino [via]

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