Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Highlighting some online entries about GPF Malaysia

Would appreciate help from anyone to keep this list updated if you know of more, Thanks!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I miss Singapore

Recently, when I am out on the streets, in the malls, or at East Coast Park, the feeling keeps coming to me. I miss Singapore. No, I am not overseas. I miss Singapore in Singapore ... .

Once, in a food court, the drink stall staff didn't speak like a local. People at tables besides me were speaking in either non-local languages, or non-local slang.

On the street 9 out of 10 who spoke in Chinese were not in the familiar Chinese that I speak, unless some times when I am speaking to my friends from mainland China.

Another time, early morning at East Coast Park, there was a Muslim family at a quiet beach. I can't say for sure that their official nationality(ies), but they are not Malays. The man fair skin suggests Caucasian, so does the daughter's blond hair. Although can't see much of the woman, who was in traditional Muslim attire, in such attire at the beach suggests she is not the typical local Muslim lady.

I also saw a maid, an Indonesian I guess, helping to do BBQ. Her lady boss, was sitting at the table, in a dress and wearing a high heel. The man boss was following their son, who has just learned blading, on a tandem bicycle. The man was in shirt, pants, and leather shoes.

Actually, in East Coast Park, Toa Payoh Town Garden, and I believe also in many other parks in Singapore, if we only consider families, it seems that majority of the families are not Singaporeans or the typical Singapore families.

I bet there is no way to get rid of this feeling of missing Singapore.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - Skills for on the road riding

Basically, I don't encourage others to ride bicycle on roads because of the possibility of fatal accidents. However, if someone decides to do so, then my main advice is to have some driving experiences first.

Next, note that the minimal skills required to cycle on roads is much higher and more than that to cycle in a park. Basically, absolutely NO mistakes are allowed on roads as a simple mistake might cost a life. Some skills I find useful are ...
  • Able to ride on a narrow path, typically within the two double yellow lines. However, I am not saying that you must ride between the yellow lines as some times you need to take the lane, i.e. cycle in the middle of the lane. This is not required when cycling in parks.
  • Able to ride really slow, e.g. slower than walking. This is not really for on the road cycling, but on pedestrian crossing or pavements which to avoid requires very high discipline. Thus, when riding along with pedestrians, move at their speed. This is more for your own safety than theirs.
  • Able to ride without hands holding the bar. Of course I am not suggesting to do it on roads at all time, and even in parks unnecessarily. This ability proves that you don't rely on your hand but your waist and body to balance and manoeuvre the bicycle. However, this is something just for learning and not for using, and when learning, please wear full safety gears.
  • Able to watch behind while keep riding parallel to the side of the road. You will need to check blind spot, i.e. turning head to check behind, regardless if you have a mirror or not, and I recommend having a mirror mounted in a non-protruding manner.

Close interval multiple thresholds system

We are in a digital age, and ironically, digital advancements allow less digital systems with multiple thresholds at close intervals.

A good example is the gradual increase and decrease of the ERP charges, instead of just one threshold timing that separates two periods of with and without ERP charges initially. Another not so direct example is some telcos charge by the seconds instead of minutes. These would not have been possible if done manually.

Sadly, that's about all I know about such systems. Here, I just mention one area where close intervals multiple threshold should be implemented: ... incentives cut off date, especially when the incentives are high.

E.g. before or after 17 Aug 2008 borned 1st and 5th child meant a difference in maximum matching government contribution of S$6000 and S$18000, respectively! Thus, a minute different of recorded birth between 16 Aug 2008 2359hr and 17 Aug 2008 0000hr makes a big difference.

I would like suggest a gradual increase by an amount small enough that virtually no pain would be felt, over a period of 1 or 2 months is much better. E.g. $5 increment over a period of 30 days. Thus, it will require 6000/5=1200 increments, for the case of the 1st child in the example above. This means 30/1200 = 0.025 days or 30*24/1200 = 0.6 hours or at 36 minutes interval.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - Right turn

Many years ago when I first rode a racer on roads, I made a right turn on the right most lane because I was too short and needed the road divider when I stop. I find this way of making right turn unnecessarily dangerous as you need to keep left after the turn, and worse if the vehicle on your left want to make a U-turn.

Later, I made right turn on the left most right turning lane so that I will end up on the left lane after the turn. However ... , you need to take the lane for those lanes that allow both forward moving and right turning. Even when the lane only allow right turn, beware of drivers who still wanted to go straight. However, on junctions where there isn't a right turn only signal, it is quite dangerous as you have to judge the traffic and trust that your bike won't break down half-way crossing.

Both ways described above require filtering to the right, which may not be possible on heavy or fast traffic roads. I strongly discourage the first method and do not encourage the second method.

When friends carried me on their motorbikes/scooter in Taiwan, I realized that they seem to be disallowed to travel on the outer lanes (i.e. left lanes in Taiwan). So when they needed to make left turn (corresponding to our right turn), they would have to do a L-shape route. If it was green, they moved to the opposite and wait for green on the perpendicular direction. If it was red, and crossing allowed, they would cross over, and cross again and turn to the left.

Since then, unless at junctions that I am very familiar and find it very safe to use the second method, I would be using the L-shape method. However, when cycling across pedestrian crossing, do it at walking speed and watch out for traffic situation. Especially for the 2nd L-shape method. In Singapore, right turning vehicle can turn when there are no on coming vehicles and pedestrians are still crossing the road. Drivers determine no pedestrians with the assumption that pedestrian travel at walking speed. Thus, if one runs or cycles across at significantly higher speed than walking, collision is very likely.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My cycling in Singapore experiences - on pavement

I have only been cycling on pavement more often since 3 years ago mainly because along the route I am traveling on frequently it is obviously a better choice for me and other road users, and there are very very few pedestrians on the those pavements. Also, it isn't a long journey so I can ride leisurely. However, I still feel that a better choice is to reserve at least a third of the left lane for cyclists to use the roads.

With these little experiences, I would like to share some opinions regarding cycling on pavements: read on...
  1. Since it is illegal to do so, cyclists should understand that we have absolute no rights to deserve pedestrians to give way to us.
  2. Even if it is legal to do so, cyclists should not expect pedestrians to give way to us by ringing bells.
  3. Just as a jogger, or a fast walker on pavement, if someone is blocking your path, just be patient and wait for opportunity to overtake, or made your presence known, but NOT by using bell.
  4. Cycle beside cars is safer (in the sense of less [near] accidents/collisions) than with pedestrians because the former are predictable, controlled by licensed drivers who seldom panic when they see bicycles. Whereas the latter are unpredictable, without license and traffic rules to follow, and easily panic.
  5. Avoid overtaking as much as possible, and only do so when really really really safe. I suggest the following criteria be all met:
    • You are riding at near walking speed
    • You are about 2 to 5 meters behind
    • Pedestrian noticed your presence
    • Pedestrian recognized your intention to overtake
    • Pedestrian gave way to you
  6. Beware of the common trap when there is another approaching pedestrian(A) in front of the pedestrian(B) who is unaware that you are behind. Naturally, A would want to give way and walk on the same side as B so that a path is open for you to ride through. However, also naturally, B not knowing you are behind and saw that A is approaching him will move to the other side of the path to give way to A. Thus, I suggests:
    • For cyclists, ride behind B in such scenario until A passes both of you, then you start to consider overtaking B.
    • For pedestrian in A situation, avoid creating the above trap.
    • For pedestrian in B situation, be aware that when a pedestrian shift to your side of the path, watch your back as it could mean something is approaching on the other side.
  7. Slow down to walking speed before reaching openings where you have to cross a road junction or use the zebra crossing or any pedestrian crossings.
That's about it for now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Replicating Paris Vélib' in Singapore

Interested people please contact kaustuvghosh1972 :)

One directional correlation

When high oil prices were cited as reasons for transport fare hikes, we all thought that was logical.

When oil prices dropped but not the fares, it was explained that these two were not linked directly.

Hmmmm... linked or not linked?

It was further explained, “If there is a direct link, it must go both ways. If we have that system, there would (have been) a 40-per-cent increase in public transport fares.” What commuters got, instead, was a 0.7-per-cent average increase.


Firstly, I doubt anybody believe a "direct" link such as that described above. If there were some who believed so, then they have probably been misled into thinking so when high oil prices were cited as reasons for fare hikes.

Secondly, there is indirect link. Thus, if a 40% increase in oil prices correspond to 0.7% average increase, then when oil prices drop, there should be some decrease.

Are the audience being treated as primary school kids?

The new CEPAS-compliant ez-link card

I read a letter in TodayOnline about the new CEPAS-compliant ez-link card by LTA. The author claimed that the new card would require him to make more top-ups. I scratched my head..

In the old system, there is a S$3 deposit and when stored value (excluding the deposit) is less than S$0, one cannot board a MRT train or bus.

In the new system, there won't be any deposit, and when stored value is less than S$3, one cannot board a MRT train, while for buses, minimum stored value must be more than that required for the rest of the journey of the bus.

I really don't see this change can lead to more frequent top-ups necessary for anyone. ... why? The current top-up procedure ask how much one wants to top-up. Thus, regardless if there is deposit, or the amount of deposit, or the amount of minimum value (for MRT), there is no reason to do more top-ups. Unless, the author has been using a procedure that I have not come across where he was asked how much stored value he wants in the card, and he doesn't intend to change this amount when using the new card. However, I don't think there is such a procedure.

Even for those who mainly travel by bus, they may instead top up lesser, but by only 0.1 top-up lesser assuming that their minimum value is S$2 instead of 3 and each time they do S$10 top-up.

However, if the S$3 deposit on existing EZ-Link card will not be refunded, then yes. Similarly, it would still be just an additional 0.3 top up, using the above assumptions.

I believe there are many not so good or correct letters sent by many, but to be selected for publication is slightly more than the common excuse of human err. Instead of thinking that it was some mistakes by the editors, I suspect it was intentional to create some heated discussions. They are facing low volume of letters to Voices and needed to take articles without asking from blog. There is one from reclaimed.wordpress.com but I couldn't find the article in this inactive blog.

By the way, I pity the LTA and TransitLink being wrongly accused by many. From what I understand, it was the IDA initiative and directive to adopt the CEPAS standard that led to the change, while many unhappy comments were targetted at TransitLink and LTA.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Like a giant size vending machine

How to have something like this in Singapore? I am sure we have the technology for it, but ... don't expect anyone build it before there exist the high demand for it. Basic economic. Thus, start cycling :)

Be paid to rant about your good and bad experiences

Information is valuable. Indeed, I am just being paid by writing a review by ReviewStream. Check it out!

It isn't too difficult unless ... you try to fake it. We all use products, and many times we have something to say about the products we used, we bought, or we discarded. Why not share with others your experiences and opinions. I believe doing so will be helpful to both consumers and producers.

I have benefited from reading reviews and experiences sharing/cursing by others on products that I consider buying. Now, I am more encouraged to give my reviews, especially when I can get paid.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The if-then logic


This Chinese idiom sounds wrong, but if so, then it wouldn't be one.

Logically speaking, it is correct, or true.

However, in most cases, we prefer the then to be false. For e.g., if you don't study, you will fail the exam. Thus, that makes not studying a bad choice.

On the other hand, consider this: if we don't punish children, they will not learn. Here, is punishing good or bad? Many would think obviously it is good. Actually, this depends ... on what they will be learning?

Thus, whether 人不为己 is good or bad depends on if 天诛地灭 is good or bad, or if the current "天" and "地" are good or bad. If these are bad, then 天诛地灭 would be good, and therefore 人不为己 would be good.

I think, instead of sustaining a world where 人不为己 is bad, isn't destroying, or actually transforming such kind of world into one whereby everyone is 人不为己, better?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ego & rain coat

I attended the talk on 22 Feb, "HINDUISM REDISCOVERED: A Religion in Vogue" by Vivekacharya Pavan Choudary, CEO, Vygon India.

It was interesting during the Q&A session, where he shared his wisdom in answering the questions. I would like to share some of them here.

Wisdoms from a talk by Vivekacharya Pavan Choudary -- Part 3

Someone was telling [or showing off] how he has learned so much from many gurus. He finds them mainly teaching ways to get rid of ego. He was talking for quite long time.

When the speaker finally has the turn to speak, the first statement was roughly saying that all his teachers don't qualified to be gurus. Ego is something that you cannot get rid of. Ego is ... like rain coat, keep it at home, use it only when necessary.

I think this applies to many other things such as anger, unhappiness, desires, etc. How to manage them is the way, while getting rid of them is an illusion.

Similarly, relating to health, we need to learn and be trained to live with and overcome sickness, bacteria, virus, fever, pain, etc. instead of finding ways to live without them. In recent episodes of the drama series Heroes, the cheer leader (what's her name?) with never die capability was complaining that she doesn't feel pain after Syler opened her brain. Then, later, during an eclipse when all lost their special capabilities, she was wounded and later died, not directly from the wound, but from infections. Why? The nurse/doctors asked why she doesn't seem to have any immunity? Don't tell me she hasn't been sicked for her whole life?

Part 2

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sell your teaching skills online

Many things can be sold online now and I just come across BrightStorm (see ads above) that allows teachers to sell their lessons!

A sudden [small] fortune

This blog has very low traffic, and thus I don't expect much from Google AdSense. Actually, I don't understand the funny spikes of earnings. After many months, actually some years, my earnings is still only $2+. Just recently, with two spikes on
4 and 9 Dec, my earnings shoot up by $0.82 and now it is above $3 :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alpha Brain Waves

Just read about something new to me, but it was discovered some decades ago together with the invention of the EEG. I first read about the Alpha Brain Waves from an advertisment of The Silva MethodTM. Later, I searched the Internet and learned more about it.

So, seems like science is showing more and more evidence to things that were once thought to be "spiritual" ... such as yoga and meditation. In a recent scientific seminar I attended, researchers have observed rise of temperature at the hands of a Qi-Gong Master when he was asked to concentrate his Qi at his hands.

Amazing! Actually, Science doesn't negate many spiritual phenomena. It is the misconception of many who wrongly think that whatever Science hasn't proved is false. Ooops, by the way, Science can never prove anything absolutely, but just to state how impossible something is not true.
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