Wednesday, December 31, 2008

dec 25th to 31st

quite many things happened, but didn't have the time (nor sufficient photos) to blog them up. So i'll try my best to provide a coherent picture.

my pocket had 2 big holes. The first hole was made at Courts Megatex, a Toshiba Regza LCD (RV500 series). Fell prey to those bidding style selling tactics dangling ultra low prices with lots of free stuff. Luckily, that Regza was quite a good one; full HD 42', 3 HDMI ports, $100 NTUC vouchers for just $1399.

Colours weren't as brilliant as Samsung or Sony though

2 troublesome chores followed with this tv. Had to move the existing 34' CRT into my father's room, and prepare a spare PC so the new tv can play Bukit Timah movies or surf net on it. The CRT was damn heavy, and i kinda pulled my muscle while carrying it.

i couldn't remember doing anything useful on Xmas. Maybe i did something but forgot. Update this later if i can recall.

boxing day was with army peeps, dining at AMK's famous crab stall. That stall has taken over the entire coffeeshop space after renovation. Diedie must make reservation unless you prefer to stand outside and queue until you salivate by looking at people eating crabs for 1-2 hours.

Lined up with crabs, literally

Quite a nice dining ambience



27th was at JB. Was having a bad headache (the case recently), took painkillers and slept but still no use. Decided this was no good, took a cold shower plus some of my own methods to get myself better. Indeed it was gone by the time we got past the causeway jams and City Square crowd. The photos are with the various people, i felt so in pain that i just brought myself and my passport in.

28th was the day my pocket burnt a 2nd hole - Vaio Z. Below photos courtesy of my brother, the innards are taken by me. So you can see an obvious difference in quality.


"I can last long, or i can finish it quickly... "

The Apple-d keys

Innards (bottom left the hard drive, right side is optical)

The keyboard

didn't really want to open it up, but the Toshiba 5400rpm hard disk was feeling laggy. I have my Hitachi 7200rpm screamer, so there wasn't any reason not to swap.

changed the OS to Vista 64 bit after burning out my recovery discs. Hit some snags because 64 bit isn't officially supported on the Z series yet, but the 64 bit signed drivers are still available online. After getting them installed, the whole experience was as normal as my previous laptops.

other than that, this model is a good buy despite being the first generation of the Z series. The current upgrade to this Z17 is Z27, which comes with a 7200rpm hard disk default from factory, Blu-ray optical drive & premium carbon lid. Both are retailing at the same price of $4299, but i got a hefty discount from mc2.

i can now safely say ThinkPads are reliable (i dropped mine few times, proven) and has a good support and drivers base, LifeBooks are simple to use and upgrade but software support is not that top notch. Vaios look absolutely stylish, but software support is rather poor. Also notable, Sony disabled VT permanently, so for those who need hardware assisted virtualization especially on 64-on-64 platforms will be out of luck.

lastly, my driving revisions are in overdrive mode. It's getting more stable now, and i hope it remains this way for the test next week.

Friday, December 26, 2008

xmas lunch

so many things happened on the day of the lunch; xmas eve.

1st was the train fault. a 2 mins wait became 20 mins. Good thing was, i managed to board the first train that came in from Marsiling. Bad thing was...

i reached driving centre on time, despite the rain and the train. To my horror my name didn't appear on their TV. So went to check my account... and realised i forgot to make payment for the trysell slot the day before. Wasted trip...

pants was 1/5 wet by the time i 'completed' the walk to NYP, via a longer loop.

Huge spread

Tuck in!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

release of results - 2008/2009 s1

i can call it my last semester, the parting shot:

CS1280: S
CS3266: B+
CS3267: B+
ST2334: C

Examination Status: Fulfilled degree requirements. To be awarded Pass Degree

time to look for job.

does the Minister know his portfolio?

several online blogs such as The Online Citizen, and forum posters have attacked our Transport Minister Mr Raymond Lim, after his comments recently:

Mr Lim tempered hopes that current falling oil prices will translate into a similar drop in fares, saying that there is no direct correlation between the two.

my take is - maybe he is saying there is still a link, which was the basis for some fare hikes in the past. Noticed he has used the words 'direct correlation'. Maybe there's really no link... but this meant our transport companies have been lying to PTC (and the people taking public transport) for years?

i'm quite confused what he meant. Maybe it's too scholarly for me.

our wish is that our politicians need to be better in touch with the ground - so i would hope he has already sensed the confusion going on, and clarify his comments through his press secretary or some other communication means. If he failed to address this wave of comments, it is yet another failure by the government to listen to its people.

another take from me is to split the Transport Ministry into 2; hive off land transportation from the current ministry to be managed alone. Air and sea transportation, traditionally viewed as important assets to Singapore, have a even better focus if separated. Let another capable Minister champion for local issues instead.

ps: he made a promise to increase GST to 8.5% in return for free public transportation. Maybe it was a threat? Careless remark? A very careless politician making gaffes in the making!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the army linkage

had a small gathering with some army friends, at Jason's place. Has been quite a while since i met up with some of them, because everyone's busy.

realised time has passed a great deal, it's about 4 years since we knew each other. In Dec 2003, we were just out from BMT, posted to Signals Institute, then accidentally got bundled into the same infosys platoon because of our education background. So, we are from the engineering/technology sector (and still is, for those employed), except for the JC mates. After training for 2 months, 95% of us went to 3 Signals.

the rest of 2004 and 2005 was spent in the unit, then later with the higher ranks of my unit's division level. As the same goes with any army guys, the worries were mainly on time outside camp, physical fitness and unit exercises plus saikang. Later on at the division, the time outside problem was gone, but was quite tiring due to transportation - wake up at 5, take 1st bus at 5.20, reach camp at 6.30, end at 6, reach home at 8). Then there was girlfriend to worry about - so many things!

luckily for us, the entire division was mobilized for NDP 2005; the large scale of preparations for the 40th year of independence meant constant book-outs to City Hall, only a minimal number of military exercise; better welfare in general. I followed my superior to all parts of Singapore for his meetings and rehearsals, and even got to view a 'sample' of fireworks at Tanjong Gul Camp. In short, without the NDP preparations, it would be plain boring for 2005.

closer to ord, we all had our plans then. Those who could make it to local university were prepared to put rusty minds to use, Elvin even started studying part-time before getting out (Signal battalions traditionally have a higher number of well educated soldiers, so the culture is different compared to that of an infantry or combat engineer battalion, for instance.) The rest were getting ready for working life.

after ord, there were the frequent kopi sessions where we talked about girls, rather the lack of them, studies, career, etc etc.

now those who are studying are almost done, those working ones are doing well in terms of career advancement and earnings. Jason and Dan have gotten married, many of us are happily attached. There are new goals in life now, no more pursuing of IT gadgets crazily, but to plan for more serious stuff; personal set of wheels, marriage, having children, just to name a few.

suddenly, age is catching up. Getting closer to the number 3. Cannot play play as though we are still 20 or 21. A wrong step and we will be left behind.

let's see where we are again when we reach 30.

ps: butties, i want my kayak sessions to come back!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kastam Sultan Iskandar - poor planning and testing

Forum talk

if you drive, you're screwed with the narrow lanes and the use of their Touch n Go card. I have no issue on the TNG card, though. The infrastructure was flawed from the start - just need a car to break down anywhere along the bottleneck-ed flyover, the rest you can observe when you're stuck there. 76 lanes? No use. The immigration staff will be catching mosquitoes instead.

if you take public transport, you're further screwed with the free-for-all boarding area. Queue? Malaysia does not believe in that. Actually, things has not changed since the olden times. Except that the sheer amount of people waiting for a single bus has accumulated to cause a stampede.

if you walk, you're gone ******. There is no pavement for you to walk into the CIQ.

if you swim, you're the champ. Wait a minute, the coast guards are lurking by.

the best? Perhaps is to get a train ticket.

1. Malaysia, truly Asia...

2. Going by the frustrations of the CIQ users and denials by various officials in Johor, i think naming the CIQ after the Sultan is degenerating into an extremely embarrassing decision. I would think, oh even with the Sultan's support and guidance even though in name, people get this kind of (horrible) standard?

3. Business opportunity for Singapore - ask Johor to outsource the operation of the CIQ. Some commercial entity from Singapore (read: GLCs?) takes over the day-to-day operations. Pray and hope for 100 days there are some changes for the better. Meanwhile let Dr M charge at us with his crooked bridge pet project.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prudential - avoid at all costs

i have yet another story to tell, and that is regarding Prudential.

Change of agent statistics
Policy #1 - 2 times

Policy #2 - 2 times

both in a space of less than 2 months. I'm not very pleased when i see letters from Prudential nowadays, because it is about some darn bad news - new agent taking over my policy, and now the last straw - policy #1 got suspended.

some investors should know about the restriction of investment of monies from ordinary account that took effect earlier this year. I told my former agent, he said it will be settled. Come months later, i received a letter that the CPF premium is due. Knowing my instruction probably got lost because i'm not a very high value customer, i ignored it and waited to see what would happen.

now the company has suspended the policy.

i blame the company for not training their agents properly - a basic instruction wasn't conveyed from the customer to company. Secondly, they treated customers like clothes - an agent leaves, assign another. That another one leaves, assign yet another.


damn angry. Going to call and fry their asses tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

always online

there are some ironies in this video...

- the growing popularity of netbooks (small notebooks). Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is used by the female character

- sad yet eerie feeling

everything will be ok
three two one
i'm always online
和你one to one
three two one
more and more即是深刻
i'm always online

you can listen to the track here:

Always Online - Lin Jun Jie 林俊杰

marina barrage

went to view the new tourist destination a month after it opened, the marina barrage.

took the free shuttle bus from Marina Bay mrt station, directions available at prominent turning points. The only problem is the dust around the area, due to the Marina Sands construction. Once inside the bus and at the barrage, the air is better. Saw lots of locals having picnic, while the rest simply hung around at the green patches, water outlets or viewing pod.

This was where the shuttle loading point was

Photographers should love this place

The barrage from the top

Why the reservoir water is so ....

Live demonstration of how the barrage works to solve 3 problems

had a belated birthday celebration, but the date didn't matter at all.

Thank you! muack!

Monday, December 15, 2008

vista x64 - an evolution coming near you

Full 6GB of goodness

1 or 2 years ago, we observed the prices of memory (DRAM) fall. We thought the initial fall was temporary, some expert users even part-timed as investors, buying up more memory sticks than they need. But when they hoped to sell it off later, the prices slid even further. Now, you can get a basic 2GB stick at only S$30. This price level was unheard of, only until recently.

now new desktops and laptops offer a minimum 3GB of memory, some vendors even pump it up to 4GB. You may ask, why 3GB - because of the 32 bit operating systems that most of us use can only address up to 3.2GB of memory, the remaining portion is sitting idle unless 64 bit editions are running.

what other factors to upgrade?

for software developers, the increased horsepower gives momentum to virtualization, which is the emulation of additional platform(s) on an existing base platform. Using a selected operating systems as a base, we can run some other systems on top of it, saving computing resources, electrical energy, real estate space, etcetra.

the technology behind this evolution is; surprise surprise, AMD64, from AMD (duh). Initially created by AMD, it was later adopted by Intel for the mass consumer segment, after the Intel-HP IA64 initiative failed to gain traction. The greatest selling point of AMD64 is the support for both 32 and 64 bit computing by adding 64 bit support on top of the x86 architecture, which IA64 failed miserably. Demands for increased performance and better support for 64 bit drivers and applications should accelerate the adoption further.

what are the benefits to the average user? Besides removing the memory addressing restriction, there are some improvements on operating system security, such as the Data Execution Prevention (DEP), requirement for more reliable signed device drivers, and finally better preparation for future operating systems, such as Windows 7 which should be more 64 bit oriented in future.

how to go about doing the upgrade? Since a Vista product key should work on both 32 and 64 bit editions, there is no extra cost to move between the 2 architectures unless you're upgrading from older Windows versions. Hardware wise, minimum requirement is (only) a 64 bit capable processor plus 64 bit signed drivers for any internal and external devices you plug into the system. Factor in your ancient stuff, such as USB scanners, printers, keyboard/mice combo, card readers, etc. All of these shouldn't be a problem if they were purchased in the last 2 years.

software wise, except for Starter edition, all other editions from Home Basic to Ultimate have 64 bit counterparts. Just get hold of the 64 bit DVD installer, legitimately through Microsoft or not-so-legit through Bukit Timah.

Microsoft - compare editions
Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows: Windows Vista feature focus: x64 support
Windows Vista 64 bit computing

Friday, December 12, 2008

JJ Lin and 阿 Sa - 小酒窝

have not put up songs for a long time. Here's one:

(JJ)我还在寻找 一个依靠和一个拥抱
谁替我祈祷 替我烦恼 为我生气为我闹

(sa)幸福开始有预兆 缘分让我们慢慢紧靠
然后孤单被吞没了 无聊变得有话聊 有变化了

(合)小酒窝长睫毛 是你最美的记号
我每天睡不着 想念你的微笑
你不知道 你对我多么重要
小酒窝长睫毛 迷人得无可救药
我放慢了步调 感觉像是喝醉了
终于找到 心有灵犀的美好
一辈子暖暖的好 我永远爱你到老

(sa)幸福开始有预兆 缘分让我们慢慢紧靠
然后孤单被吞没了 无聊变得有话聊 有变化了

(合)小酒窝长睫毛 是你最美的记号
我每天睡不着 想念你的微笑
你不知道 你对我多么重要
小酒窝长睫毛 迷人得无可救药
我放慢了步调 感觉像是喝醉了
终于找到 心有灵犀的美好
一辈子暖暖的好 我永远爱你到老
小酒窝长睫毛 迷人得无可救药
我放慢了步调 感觉像是喝醉了
终于找到 心有灵犀的美好
一辈子暖暖的好 我永远爱你到老

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

xmas lunch

so many things happened on the day of the lunch; xmas eve.

1st was the train fault. a 2 mins wait became 20 mins. Good thing was, i managed to board the first train that came in from Marsiling. Bad thing was...

i reached driving centre on time, despite the rain and the train. To my horror my name didn't appear on their TV. So went to check my account... and realised i forgot to make payment for the trysell slot the day before. Wasted trip...

pants was 1/5 wet by the time i 'completed' the walk to NYP, via a longer loop.

The nice spread

Tucking in...

Camera shake!

taipei december 2008 - thoughts

if there was some pre-planning prior to going there, i believe some 'show-stoppers' would have been detected:

1. Sweet Dynasty is no longer a 'celebrity' restaurant; Jacky divested his share already

2. Jay Chou didn't open any shop, we couldn't find that Omni shop either.

3. Metro Muzha Line is closed on and off in December for Neihu line integration testing.

4. Maokong cable car is closed due to mudslide in Oct 2008.

5. Shifen Waterfall at Pingsi is closed indefinitely due to land dispute with government.

those who went to HK would have been spoilt by the friendly tourist maps and direction signposts all over the territory. There are even signposts in Tai-O!

this was the main difference i felt on reaching Taipei - it tried to be tourist friendly, but unfortunately there aren't many signs everywhere. Furthermore, the railway system is quite cumbersome to move around, especially when making transfers. The lack of integration with EasyCard has intensified the confusion.

the people i came across was generally helpful, you can trust us on that because we asked for directions along the way. They are different from our local people, who puts on glum faces everywhere. The disappointing episode was obviously on the theft case; although i wouldn't blame the Taiwanese fully for that.

wish list
i missed out on Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge. Hope i can visit them the next time.

taipei december 2008 - day 7

home sweet home!

had a longer rest in bed. Had a lunch gathering in XMD, before going to airport via hotel bus/Free-go transfer. Since the group was split into SQ/3K airlines, we bid farewell at Taoyuan itself.

This stall seemed nicer

Taoyuan T2 - SQ at 2A

Niu rou mian!

The departure hall of T2

SQ879 - returning

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

taipei december 2008 - day 6

places: Longshan Temple, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, ZX Dunhua (Sweet Dynasty) and ZX Xinsheng (Taipei Leechi cake shop)

had a full day shopping. Browsed NOVA computer arcade too, but paled in comparison to Guanghua.

xr came over to dine with us, but unfortunately something bad happened.

Longshan Temple

Crazy sale in this building

NOVA computer arcade in the background

Sweet Dynasty desserts


Taipei Leechi cake shop

Bought bings here




The thiefs

zw's shopping bag with his personal stuff was stolen while we were in a clothing shop. It was rather an oversight, but disappointed at the above 3 whom we suspected to have taken that bag away. Called the police and yada yada... and a good impression of Taiwan turned sour...

Monday, December 8, 2008

taipei december 2008 - day 5

places: XMD, Muzha, Taipei 101 and Shilin

had a brief moment in Ximen for lunch, at the modern toilet restaurant. Nice concept.

Toilet style, add urinal container for $30

No joke!



then we wanted to go towards the direction of zoo, which required us to transfer to Muzha Line. But...

Muzha Line CLOSED! Why???

then we wanted to take the Maokong cable car - also closed!!! Quite disappointing that tourism board didn't put up notices to say its closed. Actually it's our fault since we didn't do much homework before going.

Maokong cable car also closed!! WHY????

Giraffe chimney in the background

went for our long awaited Taipei 101. NTD400 to fully browse all floors, 88F, 89F and 91F (the highest floor subject to weather conditions). Worth the money.

Shuttle bus to 101

Nice damper babies

Only my camera can zoom in perfectly! =p

On the lift up - fastest lift in the world, 1010m/min

Getting dark...

Night view around SYS Memorial Hall (i think)

The big damper at the 92F, stabilizing the top

Open view at 91F

The peak of the tower

went to Shilin for late dinner, had chops for dinner. I had pork chop, keong had steak, zw had chicken chop. It's nice! Stall 140 or 341.

Back to Shilin NM

The locals' favourite - chicken cutlet - too floury for my taste

This drink is nice

BBQ prawn stall

No need to peel shells!