Saturday, September 27, 2008

driving #3

my lucky number was 125 on friday, with Mr Leong as my instructor. Mr Raup was on morning shift, so i couldn't get him. But soon i found out, having different instructors really worked in getting poor habits improved...

was taught stopping and moving off from kerb, which were alright to me. Got it right on 1st try and every subsequent tries, quite surprising.

my turning during sharp bends weren't good. Had a tendency to full lock too late. The trick was to turn when the mirror meets the kerb, but only improved after many many turns round a small area of the circuit.

the good news, have never mounted kerbs (so far). Touch wood touch wood...

he then brought me to the road, and soon i found myself driving around St 62, Ave 9, St 63 and St 64. The experience is different; i got bullied by experienced drivers, especially taxis. The road experience was alright, except for the bend from St 64 back to driving centre. Either i was too fast, or my turning was kns.

he said lane changing is heavily emphasized by SSDC. I agree with him, and don't wish to harm others by changing lanes irresponsibly. So i must get it right quickly.


- improve on turning at sharp bends, avoid crossing onto next lane
- only change lane after checks are done (this is a poor habit of mine that refuses to go away)
- look over shoulder, really.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

driving #2

my second lesson just now, coincidentally it was with Mr Raup too. I'm comfortable with his instruction, so no problem. The car is different now, lucky number 116.

learnt turning right, which is roughly the same except for the turning radius. Also, accurate stopping behind the white line.

the concept of blind spot was introduced to me. But to coordinate the turning with mirror and blind spot checking is quite tough. Also taught lane changing and lane discipline. Not a very knowledge intensive session, but the coordination is not easy to master.

made a few small mistakes, but was quite serious for the actual test - didn't adjust rear mirror during pre-drive check (2), didn't put on seatbelt after the tutorial on accurate stopping (4). Of course, he warned that failure to check mirror/blind spot when turning out from minor road (immediate failure).

had a small incident though. Unlucky number 90 went too fast when going through a bend, overshot onto my lane in the opposite direction. Lucky i was not so near when it happened. I think it was her first lesson though. But i made it a point to steer further away from that car whenever it came towards me from the opposite direction =x

some takeaways, as usual.

- when checking blind spot, really turn and check, keep steering wheel straight
- only execute lane change after checking blind spot
- don't oversteer when lane change

- apply for turning and lane change

- above small mistakes

goodbye, my lenovo

finally sold it off. My ultraportable and sturdy Thinkpad x60s, with the good old IBM logo.

the Fujitsu works fine, it's faster, have bigger screen estate. But the weight can never be compared to the former. Plus the quality of the built.

anyway, the buyer was a nice guy. He said he was getting it for his younger sister for her studies, while i showed him all the receipts, manuals, discs, accessories etc. There is still 10 months warranty, so i will be on hand to help in RMA if there is.

In memory of my first and only Thinkpad...

for those interested to get Lenovo laptops, beware - only Thinkpad models can be serviced at the IBM Changi Business Centre. That place has one of the best technical service and support around, since ThinkPads cater to mainly business users. And it's IBM, not Lenovo. For how long, i think until mid 2010 only.

for example, i sent in my faulty battery to Lenovo (IBM) service centre in my campus. I remembered my friend saying that his colleagues from Changi is assigned to the campus service centre, rotated periodically.

4 hours later, the new battery is already at NUS.

the IdeaPad and 3000 series are supported by another service centre at Bukit Timah. The service is terrible, according to a number of people who tried them. You can't bring these laptops to IBM/Changi - they will reject it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Japan - the country with the highest public debt in the world

the public debt is a whopping 195% of GDP. I don't consider Zimbabwe to be the actual top in the list, because the country is in such dire straits due to the rogue leadership under Mugabe. Japan on the other hand, has changed leadership several times, but the debt has never went down.

Surprisingly, Singapore is in the top 10, at 101%. I'm not a trained economist, so no comments on the possible implications of such high public debt for both Japan and Singapore.

this is an article reproduced from Yomiuri Shimbun - Fixing state's finances new govt's main task.

Japanese politicians being self-concerned and corrupted as they are, they have always postponed major reforms and left to their successors the task of looking at a way to limit expenses and pay back the already gigantic government's debt.

I doubt that much will be done to tackle this very serious issue, as nothing has been done for decades and Japanese politicians aren't known for their initiative in solving problems. Historically, all the major political changes that happened in Japan were caused by foreign pressure and civil wars. The last one was the US occupation of Japan after WWII. Nowdays there is nothing to push Japan to change, so it won't.

What worries me is that the Japanese State is already near bankruptcy, and if the Japan Post is privatised as the PM wishes, it will only worsen the government's solvability. It is years that observators wonder if the Japanese State will really go bankrupt. Every year, more debts accumulate, and more creditors are left with less hope of ever getting paid.

There are talks of raising consumption taxes, but that won't suffice to balance the budget. In fact, the debt is so bad that raising all taxes by 10% and cutting the government's budget to avoid any further debts, would take almost 20 years to pay back the current debt, while putting enormous strain on the economy and individual wealth.

In other words, Japan has created money artificially during the past few decades, and this money has accumulated in the form of debts, both public and corporate. If Japanese banks had to conform to the same rules of accounting as in Western countries, most of them (and all the big ones) would be bankrupt. The same is true of the Japanese government. So, the money deposited by individuals in Japanese banks (including the Japan Post Bank), is virtual money that only exist because those banks are not allowed to go bust, but in fact are completely insolvable. That means that Japanese people do not possess a fraction of the financial assets they have on paper.

The Japanese GDP per capita has been decreasing a lot since the bubble burst in 1990. Japan that once had one of the highest GDP/capita now ranks 17th in the world. If we consider the public debt and insolvanility of the banks, the real GDP per capita should be much lower than what it is already estimated now.

There was no economic miracle. The Japanese economy rose quickly because the country was in ruins in 1945, and hard work to rebuild it could only mean economic growth. After that, so much money was created artificially through real estate and financial speculation and the rise of the yen, that Japan became rich... on paper. The fact is that most people still lived in ugly, non-insulated cardboard or wooden houses (some with or corrugated iron walls or roofs) that would be called hovels in Western countries. On top of that, Japanese houses are much smaller, and salaries per hour are also considerably lower due to the very long overtime hours required by most big Japanese companies. The GDP per capita of all other prefectures than Tokyo is 1/3 to 1/2 of Tokyo's. This creates an illusion of wealth for visitors coming to Tokyo, while in fact, Japan itself is far from being a rich country, even just on paper.

This rant is not to disparage Japan itself, but the people who caused the country to put itself in this abominable situation, i.e. the Japanese government. This is probably what happens when a country want quick economic growth but tries to hamper democracy (see this thread, especially the summary in post #4).

Vain politicians tried to manipulate the international image of Japan by trying to boost the GDP by overspending and generating a collosal public debt. Then, the same government failed to properly manage urban planning in the following ways :

1) by allowing electric lines to spoil the scenery and cause serious hazard in case of earthquake.

2) by giving permits to poorly constructed building that fall apart in typhoons and eartquakes, causing many deaths to this day.

3) by allowing asbestos to be used in housing and train stations until 2005 (see thread Asbestos used in at least 20% of Japanese homes, causing lung cancers for thousands of people, and probably millions more to come.

4) by allowing industries to dispose of toxic wastes in rivers and next to rice paddies, causing numerous fatal diseases.

5) being to lenient of medical malpractices, encouraging the isolation of lepers or people with mental disorders, etc.

As long as the Japanese people will not understand the importance of politics in their daily lives, they will continue to elect people who care so little about them that they allow these dangerous things to happen. Japan may be a safe country regarding crime, but it certainly isn't regarding the general environment, be it natural disasters or human-induced disasters.

often, people like you and me will dream to go any part of Japan for a long holiday. High flyers will want to go there to work or even migrate there.

i guess we have to look harder before making any long term moves.

tampopo restaurant

someone recommended me to try a japanese restaurant, so we went. The original one shifted to Jurong West apparently, but she said the alternative one is also nice - tampopo.

according to an article in 2005, the Liang Court store was opened by Mr Takaaki Takagi, a former CEO of Pokka Singapore. Now, there is an additional Tom Ton branch at central, a reduced range of japanese cuisine (but still packs a punch). The must-try, as recommended by themselves, is the shabu shabu ramen, which uses ramen from Kyushu, black pig slices, and pig bone soup that is prepared 2 days beforehand.

given such laborious preparation, everyone should give it a try. I tried it, the pork slices are not really fatty, yet tasted unique. Also ordered a maguro temaki. Generous serving of maguro slices.

Chilli powder is added on request, non-chilli lovers can enjoy too!

Black swine, my family.

ot abit - i saw my frog at kino! Too bad i don't know their native language!


Giroro on the left, Tamama and Keroro!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

john and trina's birthday dinner

met my friends up to dine yesterday. Went on quite smoothly, except i had to bluff the receptionist that some of my friends (5/10) are at the carpark waiting. I was quite dishonest actually! Well, that's what i really thought..

there was a minor unhappiness though. Shall not mention it here...

Dong Po Pork at the left, DXE crispy tofu beside it.

Tried nu er hong - 18% ALC

Went to mac to chat

Doraemon cake!

The couple cutting doraemon up!

Friday, September 19, 2008

1st driving practical

i was not quite awake, because of a late night before.

was at the airport earlier, saw the welcome home session for our Paralympic Games sports people. The person under the spotlight was Yip Pin Xiu, a 16 yo swimmer who achieved a Gold medal for Singapore. Congratulations to her, i hope the authorities can offer her a reward package that is as attractive as our counterparts from Olympic Games. No, wasn't there for this reason lah.

my practical was at 0815, the earliest timing. Rained really badly when i reached yck, had to run in the rain to SSDC.

saw my car allocation at the television at the entrance, then went to find my lucky 134. Gong gong walk in the rain across the car park without brolly. Later on i found out, blue brollys are provided at the zebra crossing for students. The instructors use red ones.

the lesson went on fine, told the friendly instructor Mr Raup that i'm really a newbie. So he carefully explained to me all the installations in the car, seating posture, mirror adjustment before letting me try. Then i went a few rounds in the outer right lane, practising my left steering and centering.

luckily, not as scary as expected. Never tio meh, but my steering was kns. He taught me hand-over-hand and push-pull method, but the former seems better. I couldn't figure out the push-pull nicely. He pointed out that we shouldn't grab the steering wheel using 'undergraft', that is more for lorry and bus drivers.

true or not, it's always debatable i guess. I'm comfy with his first method.

i'm not looking far enough, so it's something to fix immediately too. So key takeaways for this class -

1. steering and centering
2. anticipate and look far appropriately
3. right pressure on the pedals

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

extremely busy

i'm doing last minute preparation for final theory test next week. Come this friday, is my first practical lesson.

that's on top of my coursework which i'm playing a catch up game now.

have i mentioned about job hunting and the graduation trip, plus plus plus .....?

we all know about the financial thunderstorm that is happening (if you're not aware, paint yourself green and be the frog in the well, especially for any business/banking student. Yeah, quit your course as well.), and how the potential collapse of a huge financial institution such as AIG can affect our daily ricebowl.

there are surely layoffs - which company cares about human or talent resource management when dollars and cents are more critical? But will these companies continue to employ? My guess for the ones in deep trouble - yes. For those in not-so-deep trouble, no. Which means the entire job market will still shrink no matter what. Maybe it's time to think whether we are indeed aiming too high at the sky, and pick only prestigious companies to develop a career with.

update: the US Government has bailed out AIG by pumping in USD85b. They know an AIG collapse will dwarf any other recent institutions' failure, because the global economy will go down with it. But i don't think they can be Santa Claus and offer to save every other similar company that threatens to sink in the ocean.

i'm not comfortable with bailouts too, because i believe in this problem - 换汤不换药 changing the soup not the medicine. What the government has done for AIG doesn't mean it will successfully weather the storm, it is just prolonging the storm.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

mega update - dan's wedding, east coast hawker, tree top walk

i found a number of photos from my handphone camera, so it's time for a longer post.

Dan's wedding

dan had his big night last sunday at Qian Xi Restaurant, Tanjong Katong Complex. The quality of the food? Thumbs up. I felt bad then, but maybe i'll make it up during the housewarming (if he invites). Met wq and faizah there, both were his Ngee Ann classmates. Who will be marrying next, in our orbat? CCIS elvin? hahaha....


Changi beach

Terminal 3

XS coke and medium ice tea

had a mini gathering on tuesday before andrew enlisted yesterday. We planned Changi Village as our makan place, but to my shock it was closed. And it was open when i went to the boardwalk last Saturday. Never mind, we have the car - called a number of dishes at East Coast Park hawker centre instead. Had stingray, bbq chicken, char kway teow, hokkien mee, satay, rojak and lime juices! What nice food, EXCEPT i had terrible ulcers.

then we drove through Changi Coast Road, stopped briefly at Changi Beach where he had to use my laptop to rescue his server. Went to sit down at T3's mac, my favourite hangout till midnight.

7200rpm screamer for my Fujitsu

upgraded my Fujitsu's hard drive with 70GB more space and faster rotations per minute. It feels the same though, probably because of Vista's SuperFetch caching technology.

went for tree top walk just now. Was really warm, because we started just after noon.

Tree top walk

MR Reservoir

Competition lanes?

Carpark lots?

4.4km to go

Once again, trees and trees


I thought the greenish buildings belonged to SAF

The entrance to ttw via Pierce

Facts & figures


Plant #1 - grows horizontally

Plant #2 - chickenpox leaves

Colourful fungus

Thursday, September 11, 2008

terrible ulcers

i accidentally bit an area near my lips few days ago. It seemed okay, but i bit the same area AGAIN. Then anxious to chomp my food down, i made another bite there AGAIN.

now my mouth is a warzone. Too painful to open my mouth to talk or eat. Had to eat non spicy versions of my favourite dishes, and eat less.

what a great way to slim down and save money.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

beware - faulty nvidia graphics chip in your laptop

Source - New York Times

Nvidia has uncovered a problem with some older graphics chips that shipped in "significant quantities" of laptop PCs, the company said Wednesday.

Nvidia hasn't determined the exact cause of the problem but said it relates to a packaging material used with some of its chips, as well as the thermal design of some laptops. Modern processors generate considerable amounts of heat.

To tackle the problem, the company is releasing a software driver that will cause system fans to start operating sooner and reduce the "thermal stress" on the chips. The driver has been provided to laptop makers directly, said Derek Perez, an Nvidia spokesman.

Nvidia will take a charge against second-quarter earnings of US$150 million to $200 million to cover the expected cost of repairing and replacing the products, which include graphics processing units and media and communications processors. It didn't say specifically which of its products were affected.

The products have been failing in the field at "higher than normal rates," Nvidia said. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it said it was talking to its supply chain about getting reimbursed for some of the costs.

The company also had other bad news on Wednesday. It said it was lowering its revenue forecast for the second quarter due to pricing pressure and delayed product ramps. The company now expects revenue to be between $875 million and $950 million.

- HP gets some of them: HP announces BIOS update, repairs for faulty Nvidia GPUs

- Dell gets even more of them: NVIDIA GPU update for Dell Laptop Owners

- Quote from: APC

If you bought a laptop with either the NVIDIA Geforce 8400M (M for Mobile) or 8600M in it, you can now stick yourself in the pile for people with bad luck. This includes laptops from the following brands (take a deep breath): Acer, Apple, Asus, BenQ, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, LG, MSI, NEC, Sony, Toshiba... to name a few. Now it's not with everyone, of course. If you hit your Control Panel and find yourself using either the 8400M or 8600M graphics processor, you're affected; everyone else can move on.

What's wrong with your computer might you ask? Something small that can affect it in a large way. Quite a few of the graphics chips NVIDIA have been producing are defective. We know that the rumour of every 8400M and 8600M chip being bad is probably true, but now we're hearing that it might extend to other models like in the mobile NVIDIA chips running off of the 6000 and 7000 designs. That's a lot of graphics chips and this can cause your computer to overheat, lock-up, and possibly not work.

this is extremely serious, i'm surprised Nvidia has not faced massive court action or class lawsuits in the US. The company has clarified only a small number of chips are faulty, while most manufacturers are keeping mum. However the failure of the GPU can be disastrous for laptops warrantied for only a year - replacement of the GPU involves changing the entire motherboard, which costs as much as a brand new budget laptop. If your GPU has not failed, the BIOS update will keep the internal fan running longer than usual, which brings another reliability problem later.

no wonder many new Montevina laptops carry ATI discrete graphics.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

pictures of esplanade

went drinking on thursday - some personal issues. Went Holland Village's wala-wala. Quite a nice ambience, happy hour set the stage for booze. I had Erdinger, a portion of Asahi and Chimay Bleue. Nice, except i sensed some headache then.

Chilli and tomato sauce for beer?

saw someone familiar with a girl, it was Richmond. zw knows him too, but during army daze.

had a hangover immediately on friday, a bad headache right after i woke up. It was really a sore morning, no appetite for breakfast. So, i stoned at the helpdesk until i decided to pop in my painkiller. By lunch, the headache was gone. Phew.

went funan to buy a non-privacy screen filter plus transparent skin from Challenger. By the way, i have the Challenger member discount - please contact me if you're interested to buy anything there.

the screen filter is alright, i simply cleaned my screen with alcohol and scotch-taped all the lint away, then applied it on. The skin was a disaster - air bubbles as i didn't really know how to apply. Most of the air bubbles went away the next day, but i threw away the first portion. Wasted money.

Nice sky despite days of rain

The new outdoor theatre


had a day of sunlight and rain with dearest just now.

Changi Boardwalk

Friday, September 5, 2008

fujitsu s6520 dissembly

the experience is fair so far - had problem cloning my data over from my x60s, because of the Acronis software on the Fujitsu. I finally have a Western Digital hard disk on my laptop, but it seemed slow. Slower than my 2 year old x60s with a 3 month old Seagate hard disk. So i swapped the drives between my laptops.

some photos on the Fujitsu chassis.

The classic top

The inside

The bottom

Dust filter (i don't see any sponge though)

2x2GB DDR3-1066 RAM

The hard disk enclosure

I think this is an insulator

The hard disk with a cover. Shock sensor protection?

1 full height and 1 half height PCI-E slots, latter taken by Intel Wifi 5300AGN

The blower and CPU heatpipe assembly

Below this heatpipe is the Core 2 Duo processor


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

梁靜茹 - 小巨蛋 (Taipei Arena) concert in june 2008

she has performed at the Taipei Arena for the first time, 2 months ago.

a breakthrough - she dances now!! Look at the news clip and you'd see her efforts.

2 new singles -




have been quite occupied with my school work, and _____.

cs3266's ticketing system is causing quite a fair amount of stress. Yes, it's an e-commerce project, but closer to what Sistic, GV, Cathay, etc are doing. So you can guess, the difficulty should be on the logic programming for the seating and reservation subsystem.

statistics seem to be fine, but as we progress through the weeks i think the learning curve will get steeper.

i don't know what i'm doing for the other 2 modules, and i hope i can address the problem issues quickly.

having meals below my place are a problem now - heard a fire in one of the stalls that went unsupervised caused an explosion and short circuit. The whole place looked okay, but it seems there were much damage in the stallholders' area - electrical cables burnt, blackish water around the kopitiam. Chicken chop was cursing the kopitiam to close the day after he paid $0.50 more for his chicken chop, and he got his wish. Damn funny...

sent sp to her place just now. Apparently she got a bad scare due to two friendly people following her from bus stop all the way to the same corridor. I was having dupper at the market, walked over and accompanied her up. As much as i want to put on a brave front, but there's always a risk lah. Luckily the duo wasn't there anymore. Had a nice chat before heading home. And Miss Tan and Mr Ng, how come she know so much huh? huh??? lol..

suddenly i've old friends as my neighbours. Nice :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

comex 2008 hoot

no hoots. Only a hoot - Sandisk Ultra II SDHC 8GB card for my Fujifilm camera.

a snapshot that includes flash is faster now - no more blank screen when i attempt to take a picture right after the previous one. The transfer is also faster, close to my Sandisk Cruzer. If you're still not aware, buy only Sandisk thumbdrives - they're somewhat faster, especially in terms of writing smaller files. I remember frantically copying my CS3214 netbeans project into my Sandisk and Imation (licensed from Trek) 1 minute before submission - gave up on the latter. I have not seen a single error on Sandisk thumbdrives before.

wanted to get the Sony SR from Courts, apparently they were throwing in the Acer Aspire One netbook for every laptop purchase. It would be a good steal, but apparently my Fujitsu Lifebook S6520 order has been confirmed. It's coming this wednesday.

the Lifebook is slightly better spec-ed, having a 14.1' LED screen in a 13.3' chassis, DDR3 4GB memory and Intel Wifi 5300AGN wireless adapter (3 antenna configuration), and best of all 1.7kg. The Sony SR uses 13.3' LED screen, DDR2 4GB memory and the 5100AGN adapter (1 antenna configuration), weighs roughly 1.9kg. Despite the hardware differences (and $490 pricier), i still like the branding of Sony. No fate though, maybe my 4th notebook will be a Sony.

if you're wondering why the Lifebook costs lesser than the SR, i'm getting it from here.