Saturday, May 31, 2008

Notes from my 10 over years riding in Singapore

Inspired by Mr. Brown’s blog entry Things I Learned Riding Every Day to Work for a Year in Singapore, here are some notes from my 10 over years riding to work and many places in Singapore and sometime to JB. Although I like it and find it usually faster than public transport, I don't encourage ... friends to do likewise because the danger is very real.

1. I sense improvement in the attitude of drivers towards cyclists since 1996, but majority still quite poor.

2. TIBS buses seem wider than SBS ones, so be careful.

3. Those CatEye front light seems not economical if I were to switch it on throughout regular night trips. Those white LED lights are more suitable since bicycle front light in Singapore is not really for lighting up the road but to let people/drivers see us.

4. I know how to change inner tube, but usually took 20-30 minutes, while nice uncles do it in 5 minutes and workmanship ~S$1 only. By the way, if a new inner tube leaks after few days, it is time to change the tire.

5. The trip that triggered me to ride more often is when I was trying to find a safe parking for my bike in Clementi as I need to go to Tanjong Pagar, but eventually decided to cycle there. It took me 45 minutes on a 24” MTB. Indeed, it isn’t that far as I thought. After I lost the 24” bike and gotten a 26”, I realized it is faster and easier to ride bigger wheel bikes. No wonder those Ah-bek bikes are 28”.

6. I learned clouds analysis to decide what kind of rain and the direction of rain. First time, when the rain has stopped, I just moved on wondering why those motorcyclists still not moving out? I rode into the rain a few minutes later. Thus, I realized that rain don’t stop, it is the clouds that move away. Rain also don’t start and stop, it is some holes in the clouds that passes my location.

7. Once upon a time, riding bicycle to cross the causeways during peak hours is the fastest way. However, after the improvement on Singapore side, I have to jam together with the motorcyclists.

8. I managed to attain silver award for my IPPT without any training before the test during those years that I cycle regularly average of 1.5 hours per day when I need to go out.

9. Many bicycle facilities and rules are designed by people who don’t ride bicycles. Our bicycle stands is not secured enough easily only front wheel remains. To ask cyclists to dismount before using pedestrian crossing a road is like asking drivers to stop at stop signs, which I think 99.9% don’t. It is safer, less space occupying to ask cyclists to slow to walking speed when approaching, and crossing pedestrian crossings.

10. Wearing rain coat keep me from the rain water but doesn’t keep me dry. I will still be wet from the trapped humid and sweat.

11. Indeed, helmet and gloves are no substitute. The minimum standard is zero accident and zero almost accident situation. I find gloves are inconvenience to carry and use. I only used a helmet during my 80 minutes trips to and fro Toa Payoh and NTU, for safety and also, actually more, for blocking the sun.

12. Racers are fast and light, but it is meant for racing. I find it not suitable on non-racing paths/roads. Tumbling over a fist size object at the high speeds of racers should be quite bad.

13. Send clear signal, not hand signal which reduce your control and responsiveness. E.g. I filter rightwards riding into the left lane when I don’t expect drivers to overtake me. I stopped few meters away from zebra crossing when I don’t need drivers to stop for me.

14. Pavements are more dangerous than roads to the cyclists because it is not built for wheels and pedestrians don’t have walking rules to follow, and no need license to walk. I trust drivers more. However, this is not always true when the pavements are well maintained and pedestrians are less or used to share it with cyclists. Nevertheless, I don’t expect pedestrians to give way to me, and when I am a pedestrian, I don’t give way to those cyclists who keep ringing bell or expect me to give way. I will give way when I am ready, the cyclists slowed down.

15. Another reason that pavements are dangerous, and it also applies to cycling lane is that drivers usually are unaware of what’s happening on pavements and cycling lane and do not expect cyclists to ride on to the road suddenly.

16. An advice to pedestrians: if you want to give way, don’t do it suddenly and immediately. Take your time. Remain on your original route, direction and speed. Decide on the safer side you would like to move towards, and filter slowly.

17. Just as pedestrians are angry when a cyclist rode pass them at close distance even though the cyclist had made proper judgment and therefore didn’t hurt the pedestrians, cyclists are angry when a driver drove pass them at close distance even though the driver had done it safely and no one is hurt. Nevertheless, it is better to overtake at comfortably safe distances.

18. I think having driving experiences is an important advantage for riding safely on roads.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's your manga character name?

In the manga Bleach, the name of the character Ichigo Kurosaki is related to the story. Ichigo literally means "First Guardian". His father said it means "he who protects". He could sees spirits, and he is somehow destined to protect the spirits.
To find out more about Bleach, you may consider watching... or rather participating in the event, Bleach the Movie on 11 and 12 Jun 2008.
Thinking of names, or nicknames, it reminds me of the signoff I used to have during the early Internet days: E Z A M ... take a minute to guess what I want it to mean , which could also be used as a manga character name.

Most people would think that it is related to exam, as I was a student then. It is just the reverse of the word maze. Reversing it means the maze is cleared, or I am no longer in a maze, or unclear state. You know, it is much easier to find the solution to a maze if one starts from the exit door. The spaces in between letters symbolize roads, and also to make it less like a Malay name.

Sponsored by NCM Fathom

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is penalty for theft a discrimination?

Alert! Alert!
[British] Foreign Office instructs embassies to push LGBT rights - The British government has adopted an official programme to support the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people in other countries.
Do [habitual] thieves have human rights? Yes, they do. Does that mean there shouldn't be penalty for stealing? No. Then, aren't they being discriminated? ... No.

I agree with an argument that I have read. We talk about discriminant against certain race because people don't choose to be of their race. We may talk about discrimination against people of certain religions, because usually, in these religions, the believers didn't or can't choose their religions, e.g. they are borned into it.

However, nobody is borned a thief, and even if it was so in some very rare cases, the person can still choose not to be a thief. Similarly, nobody is born a LGBT, and similarly, the person can still choose what type of life they prefer. Thus, it isn't valid to talk about discrimination against thieves and LGBT.

Criminalizing the act of stealing does not go against the rights of a person who steals, or likes to steal. It discourages such acts which is bad for the larger community. Those who find it difficult conforming to any society's expectations are naturally find it difficult living in that society. However, this itself is not discrimination against them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is common in these movies?

Recently, I watched the movie about Muhammad Ali. I just finished watching the movie Malcolm X, which took me two nights.

I haven't done much further readings, but I believe Malcolm X was mentioned in the movie Ali. [Just read it at wikipedia]

Anyway, I find a common point in these movies that hasn't been ... talked much these days, or at world level. I wonder has the historical grudges between Africans who were brought to America as slaves, and their descendants. Yes, they were liberated, but is that enough? I would like to know what else has been done to indemnify the historical errors.

All eggs in one basket

A quick thought I had today. The saying that it is unwise to put all eggs in a basket. However, I think there are situation when this might not be that wise ... .

I am thinking about extreme case where you have only 1 egg. So, is it wise to break it and put a several portions of it into different baskets? Oh, basket leaks, use bowl instead. Still, in this case, these portions have to be consumed soon or else they will be spoilt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Foldable bicycles aren't that special

In the General Guidlines for the Fold it and ride it, a six month trial to bring foldable bicycles on trains and buses, I find some of the guidelines are too general to be place under this trial. Let me list them here ... :
c) Foldable bicycles should not exceed 114 cm by 64 cm by 36 cm when folded.
Why is this size limitation only apply to foldable bicycles but not other bulky items that have already been brought on to the train and buses, such as lugguage?
d) The wheels of the foldable bicycles should be wrapped up if they are dirty or wet.
What about dirty or wet wheels of other devices such as prams?
e) Protruding parts likely to cause injury or dirty/damage property to be covered up.
Shouldn't this under general safety guidelines?
g) Foldable bicycles should be carried in an upright position.
Isn't this quite common sense? However, I believe sometime it might also be sensible to lay a bulky item horizontally, e.g. under the seat.
h) Only two foldable bicycles are allowed on each bus at any one time.
Strange, is there a limit as to how many pieces of lugguages allowed on each bus? Thus, a family going outing with 3 foldable bicycles will need to travel on different buses?
f) Foldable bicycles should not block the aisles and doors or impede commuter movement at any time.
i) When travelling by train, cyclist should use the first or last car, which is less crowded.
j) Cyclists should use the lifts and wide fare gates at MRT / LRT stations where these are available.
k) Foldable bicycles are not allowed on the upper deck of a bus or placed on the staircase leading to the upper deck.
These should also apply to anyone carrying bulky items, that may cause blockage, slow down walking speed, or require wider gates/path.
m) For the trial on trains, off-peak hours during the six month trial period, 24
May to 24 November, are defined as:
- Mon – Fri: 9.30am – 4.30pm, 7.30 pm to end of revenue service
- All day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
This point is quite redundant given the power of staffs make situational decisions as stated below:
SMRT / SBS Transit station staff and bus drivers may disallow foldable bicycles if the actual situation within an MRT/LRT station, bus interchange/terminal or on board a train/bus does not permit foldable bicycles to be admitted safely and without inconveniencing other commuters.
l) From 24 May to 24 August 2008, foldable bicycles are allowed on buses all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. They are not allowed on Mondays to Fridays. This will be reviewed after three months.
It is good for LTA to act promptly, but isn't this a bit too promptly? A news release on 21 May for a trial starting 24 May. There could be many who want to give it a try, but may take them a week or longer before they get a foldable bicycle. Thus, the trial will have a mixture of results due to a mixture of people and usage, from mainly existing foldable bicycle users in the beginning, mixture of more novice users in the middle stage, and unclear proportions at the latter stage.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Read about Symbian here is a blog that talks about Symbian OS, the OS in Nokia Nseries. I shall be visiting it often as I have been a user of N80 for about 1.5 years, and a friend just bought a N82 recently. My next phone, hopefully in a few months time could be ...
N83, if it is ready. I like Symbian OS as it is specially designed for its intended use rather than by modifying from an existing OS. Similar reason why I like gmail.

From the blog's tags, I recognize that N80 is history as it is not appearing as a tag there. A particular article that I enjoyed is NSeries - How it all began.

From it, I learn more about myself: an early adopter when it comes to technology and innovation; gadget freaks and technology stylists who are always on the look out for new devices and gadgets.

I also learn that Nokia Nseries are multimedia computers. In the 90's, I had an idea of introducing mobile phone into computers just like sound card was introduced into PC in the 80's. I didn't expect that the opposite happened. Computer was introduced into mobile phones. I guess the trend of introducing mobile phone into PDA achieved lesser degree of acceptance than giving a phone the computing power.

Transiting into the next chapter

It has been exactly two months since I last saw this state:where all earnings are paid. It means that I haven't been able to grab any opportunity from PayPerPost for more than a month :)

This may be the end of getting opportunities from PayPerPost, after my PR was hammered down from 3 to zero in January.

I hope the next chapter with SocialSpark will be a prosperous one :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

What is good?

Enjoy a Fathom event featuring DeathNote at VCM Fathom. Then, think about what is good?

NCM Fathom and Viz Pictures bring Live Action
nationwide in US - May 20th and 21st at 7:30 PM!

To have some supernatural power is a dream not only fancy by kids because adults ... too wish to have more power to do good. In this movie based on the successful Japanese manga about the owner of a notebook of a death god can end the life of anyone whose name he writes in the notebook. What seems to be an evil power was put to "good" use by the main character, Light Yagami, who vowed to use it to get rid of evil people. However, he is being hunted by a legendary detective, L, when people, even though criminals, started dying mysteriously.

This reminds me of a line by Martin Luther King, Jr., "We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy be getting rid of enmity." Thus, sending the evil people to hell is not a solution. Emptying hell is.

Sponsored by NCM Fathom

Friday, May 16, 2008

Approaches are different

It started from an article about youths and teens getting AIDS/HIV in Singapore last week. The author prefers safer sex message over abstinence. Then, there were three articles published in oppose to her article, all published on Monday. Next came two articles highlighting the issue in relation to business organisations, on Tuesday and Friday.

All of them concerns about AIDS/HIV. However, there are two groups being concerned here, the employees, who are typically adults, and the youths and teens. As such, I question is the approach towards employees by corporate management for the sake of business, suitable? ... when applying to the youths and teens.

Employees are adults. Thus, management won't want to influence their attitude towards their sexual life. Employees are not with the company for life. Thus, management is mainly interested in their wellbeing during the years they are serving the company. In the corporate context, the main concern is business performance. Thus, if an employee, regardless being HIV negative or not, can remain productive for the company, managment is happy.

Youths and teens are not adults. Thus, adults of this society share some responsibility in their good wellbeing and upbringing. I agree that judging others by our standard is not nice and unproductive. However, that doesn't mean that we should shunt from expressing what our standard is. I am quite sure that in general, no extra-marital sex is still the best preference by vast majority, even though many may not think that this should be the only preference.

Youths and teens will be in this society, or world whole of their life. Thus, our concern for them shouldn't be limited to when they are young, although our influence on them will be very limited when they are older. When they became adults, they will be influence the youths of their time. Thus, our concern should also not be limited by the youths of our time, but all youths at all time.

In society, we are here to live our life, and work is only a part of it. Getting married with our life partner, building a happy family, and parenting next generation are some of the other parts. Thus, being infected by HIV is not simply a health issue, but it affect many other parts of one's life.

I can understand that managment doesn't have the position and the need to promote abstinence lifestyle to their employees. Doing so has little or no business value for the company. It is also quite unlikely that employees will care about such messages as these are not job or career related.

Thus, from the perspective of management, it may be OK as long as the employee is productive during the employment with the company, and the company can manage when many of them are infected with AIDS/HIV. How getting AIDS/HIV would affect the employee life, family, future, next generation (if any) are quite out of the scope of the management.

However, youths and teens are learning and observing about this world and what is life from those who have been here longer than them. They may not like us to indoctrinate them, but they are still being influenced by adults in many ways since the society they live in have been built by us.

Thus, as adults who care about the society and its future, our concern is much more than that. We don't want just to delay their extra-marital sex behaviors until they are old enough, but we should at least mentioned that extra-marital sex is bad. We don't want just to reduce their risk by teaching safer sex, but we must clearly present the simple logic that risk avoidance is much better than risk managment.

Thus, the corporate's approach in raising awareness about AIDS/HIV among their employees should not be used when targetting youths and teens.

Standing in Yahoo!Answers

I am recently given the "Top Contributor" title after having 30% of my answers voted or selected as the best answer, and earned enough points to Level 4!Too bad no $ attached :(

I should consider solving maths problems as my hobby :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Abstinence is not to say no

Clarification: Abstinence is not to say no.

Abstinence is need not to say no.

I have been educated since I was young that smoking is bad and I shouldn't smoke. They didn't need to tell me how to say no when someone offer me a cigarette. In fact, nobody has offered me any cigarette. Why? ... Because people around me knows that I don't smoke. In addition, most people around me, or I let myself to be with when I have the say, don't smoke.

That is abstinence.

Another analogy. If a guy decided not to play basketball this month, what should he do? Does he need to brush up his skill of rejecting invitation to basketball games? Most likely, there is a reason why he makes the decision, or there must be many other things that he wants to spend his time on. Thus, he should be spending time in all these other things, which quite likely is not related to basketball, such as study, reading book, playing playstation, etc.

That is abstinence.

Abstinence is not for me to always hang around with people who smoke, or carrying a lighter, matchbox, or whatever other smoking peripherals with me whereever I go, or to be interested in discussion on the various brands of cigarette, etc.

Abstinence is not for that guy to carry a basketball, go out in basketball attire, to a basketball court, and keep telling everyone that he does not want to play basketball that month.

Thus, abstinence from extra-marital sex is not to say no, but is to have no need to answer such a question.

Have this decision/intention of not agreeable to extra-marital sex clearly display in your daily behaviors, attire, interests, and etc. Be with friends and people that clearly show similar intentions. Thus, people you meet will not need to ask you questions that you need to answer no.

This is abstinence.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An innovative platform for bloggers

I am happy to tell people about SocialSpark! I have been seeing this name for many months, wondering what is it but didn't really read up about it. Finally, I was among the very first people they invited to join in their invite-only Alpha version 9 Apr. Since then, I started to understand better about them through own experience in using it.

They have started the successful PayPerPost about 2 years ago, recently launched IZEArank, and now this latest brainchild ... what's this brainchild about?. After using it, I think I have a much better idea of what is SocialSpark.

There are many community sites such as friendster, and the very recent FaceBook. I think SocialSpark is also a kind of community site -- community of bloggers. Doesn't matter if you are interested in blogging for money, you can too join. As it itself is not a blogging platform, unlike most community sites that also offers a blogging features, you don't need to create and maintain another blog to interact with the bloggers here. You can also list your blogs from various blogging platforms here.

As for those interested in blogging for money, you will like this very innovative place for you to earn, both by advertising for other people, or advertise your own blog or products to increase your revenue.

SocialSpark allows several types of opportunities. Other than normal money paying per post type called sponsored posts, there are also blog sponsorships where you allow a 'welcome mat' and persistent sponsorship banner on your blog for a period of time. Also, there are Sparks, which are free opportunities that serve as ideas/topics for blog posts, but many offer to blog you back if you blog about the suggested topic.

Sponsored by SocialSpark

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Now, who are being discriminated?

The word "homophobia" has been used in most articles about homosexuality in the media. I have always felt this word is inappropriate and unfair to many people like me, who have homonegativity. Thus, I did a search and found some material at Wikipedia.

I hope journalists and writers can start to use more appropriate terms than homophobia ... , which does not describe most heterosexual people. Here I quote from the section "Similar terms" (emphasis mine):
Similar terms such as heterosexism have been proposed as alternatives that are more morphologically parallel, and which do not have the association with phobia. Heterosexism refers to the privileging of heterosexuality over homosexuality.

Some recent psychological literature suggested the term homonegativity, reflecting the perspective that behaviors and thoughts that are frequently considered homophobic are not fear-based but instead reflect a disapproval of homosexuality.[15][16]

Seeking to avoid both the focus on individual psychology of "homophobia" and the focus on collective cultural factors of "heterosexism," psychologist Gregory M. Herek has proposed the term "sexual prejudice" as referring to "all negative attitudes based on sexual orientation, whether the target is homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual."[17]

The term homophobia is often used collectively with other terms denoting bigotry and discrimination. In a 1998 address, Coretta Scott King asserted that, "Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood." Likewise, George Yancey, writing in Christian Ethics Today associates "sexism, racism, class distinctions, or homophobia" with one another and views them all as "varieties of discrimination," although he argues that they are not identical.[18]

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Using N80ie with a bluetooth keyboard

Few months have passed since I bought from ebay a bluetooth keyboard (photo) for use with my N80ie. For the first few days and weeks, I was quite excited and carry the keyboard out for lunch so that I can use it whenever I can. This excitment cools down after a month or two ... .

Today, a friend who just gotten a N82 very recently enquires about the keyboard. So, I took it out and use it just now. If not for my work where I am in front of a desktop all day round, the keyboard should be very useful.

However, some reasons that I didn't use it more frequently is not its fault, but due to the limiting features of my N80ie. With the little internal memory, I can only have certain combinations of 2 or 3 applications running, including the BTKB software. Also, with the short battery lifespan, after using BT, and usually together with wifi applications for a while, the phone will need charging.

N82 shouldn't have the internal memory limitation, but I doubt its battery capacity, judging from the phone's size, is sufficient for such kind of usage.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A plaster on a face means...

A scene from a cartoon show a little kid with a plaster on his face. The character is some kind of heroic type. Thus, by drawing that plaster on his face should mean to suggest that he is rugged.

However, to me, I think otherwise ... . Drawing a cut on his face should suggest rugged, while a plaster suggests he requires care for little wounds.

Knowing the ideal and trying to do achieve it are good. However, ensuring the ideal at all instances may be unwise. After we, humans, learned about germs and bacteria, we know that what seems clean is actually not. Now, we know the ideal of clean is when even these invisible to naked eyes germs and bacteria aren't around.

Then, we behave in more hygienic ways. Keeping clean has quite a different meaning since then. So, we have been trying to achieve the state of clean.

Then, we invented ways to kill all these. By pasting plaster over little cuts so that any germs there can be killed by the chemicals, we achieve the ideal at the wound. That, I think is somehow over doing it.

I think that behind all the sciences is the acknowledgment that all existences are results from design. I trust our designer much more than human inventors and inventions.

A scheduled post

Just testing out this exciting new feature of blogger.
Post written on 3rd May, scheduled to appear on 4th May.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"You can't" and "I can"

What are the differences between these two phrases: "You can't get good score" and "I can get good score"?

The former focus on "you" and what you "can't" achieve, while the latter focus on "I" and what I "can" achieve.

What is the reason to make the first type of statement? When it is more likely to focus on "you" then "I" and "can't" than "can". What kind of situations could that be? ...
When there isn't much to say about "I" and/or about "can".

When a person can achieve something, would he be interested in telling people that who are the people who can't achieve it? I don't think so. Thus, when someone is telling the world who can't achieve something, I bet the unmentioned fact is that this person also can't achieve it.

Thus, when we read news such as Abstinence [programmes] 'not effective', I bet the opponents also didn't achieve effectiveness, else shouldn't they mention it? Also, it should suggest that there are growing number of supportive people and beliefs that abstinence programmes work, which typically imply there are evidence that abstinence programmes work. Furthermore, by conducting studies targeting on some selected abstinence programmes, but none of other programmes, is quite a bias approach.

More importantly, the results only suggest that the situation is quite bad, and I don't think they are showing that the situation is getting worse. In addition, abstinence programmes are not controlled experiments where the subjects are not allowed to be influence by many other things that they are exposed to in their daily life. I would say that common sense should point towards the argument that when abstinence programmes are not effective yet, shouldn't we reinforce them, and tune down other counter influences, especially in media and adults' behaviors, that are undermining the effectiveness of such programmes.

E.g. "Have sex without love is wrong, or isn't ideal" should be a better and correct message than "Have sex before the age of 16 is not allowed" which is obviously a way for adults to hide from guilt.

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