Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yahoo Auctions Singapore Might Really Be Going Down

I won't be surprised if Yahoo Auctions Singapore goes down. Ever since they closed their US auction site on 2007, I have a feeling that this might happen.

Few months ago, my account, with over 190 ratings, stopped functioning properly. Managed to post something but the item couldn't be found when doing a search. Today, searches done on the site returned with no titles.

Emailed their support staff on my account issues and they replied they were working on it. After multiple weeks, I've given up.

But the auctions sites, the other one is Hong Kong's, are least on Yahoo's mind right now. I don't even know if they are going to fight Microsoft or work with them.

After all, auctions isn't their core business.

Guess it's time for me to hop over to eBay Singapore. Wait, I've an account there already.

Johor petrol stations against ban

Johor petrol stations against ban

JOHOR petrol station operators and businesses are up in arms over a move by authorities there to ban foreign-registered vehicles from Singapore and Thailand from buying fuel at stations within 50km of its borders.

Without business from Singaporeans, petrol kiosks say they "will die" since as much as 90 per cent of their business comes from foreigners, said The Straits Times. Other businesses like hypermarts and restaurants will be affected too, as they depend largely on Singaporeans.

The fuel ban is due to take effect on Friday, and is aimed at preventing foreign vehicles from benefitting from heavily-subsidised fuel, which amounted to RM40 billion (S$16.8 billion) last year. The move will affect about 300 petrol kiosks.

BH Petrol kiosk assistant Chai Shao Chin, 37, said half of the kiosk's customers are Singaporeans, adding: "Business will be down. There are so many kiosks, some will even have to close shop."

Agreeing, Shell chain dealer Sallehuddin Saidon, 46, said: "Surely there will be lower volume. This ruling is going to cripple Johor's economy badly." Forty per cent of his 1,000 weekday customers and 1,500 weekend customers are Singaporeans.

The Straits Times confirmed their fears. Most of a dozen Singapore motorists interviewed yesterday said they will cut back on trips across the Causeway.

According to the Land Transport Authority, about 16,000 local vehicles leave Singapore via the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints daily.

Subsidised petrol, regardless of brand, costs RM1.92 a litre, and diesel, RM1.58.

But Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman had told the media yesterday that the ruling will not hurt the state's tourism industry, as Johor has other attractions for foreigners.

Most petrol kiosks say they will have to comply with the ban because the fine of RM250,000 is just too hefty to risk getting caught.

The intellectual move would be to sell the petrol at market prices to foreigners. This would then actually not kill off their own people and actually do something positive for their economy.

I'm very surprised that they didn't actually do that. Amazing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Am I A Workaholic

Am I a workaholic?

  • I'm secretly jealous of people who work more than 12 hours a day, 7 days per week.
  • Sometimes I wish I can just grind my meals and drink them. That way I can be back to work.
  • I'm getting more and more impatient. I wish I can teleport to places rather than having to take public transport.
  • What's wrong with taking leave to work, on non-official work?
  • I go to sleep listening to business podcasts.


  • I take a 15 minute walk to the bus stop instead of taking a feeder bus. Not to save money, just because I want to listen to business podcasts.
  • I take the train when I have something to read.
  • I don't have time to read stuff at home.
  • I won't spend an extra minute at my official work if I can help it.

88% Exceptional Execution of an Ordinary Idea

Two interesting quotes that I spotted on Time's Myth of the Fearless Entrepreneur.

Columbia University business professor Amar Bhidé found that only 12% of growth-company founders surveyed attribute their success to an "unusual or extraordinary idea"; 88% reported that their success was due mainly to "exceptional execution of an ordinary idea."

E.g. If you have Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson are working together to start a company regardless of what they are selling, you'll probably want to invest in it.

The evidence suggests that as entrepreneurial leaders become more successful, there is a tendency for them to become more risk averse--a concept called "loss aversion" made famous by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who studied behavioral economics.

Well, there's more at stake on the table.

What is Education? What Is It For?

How much is too much?

ARE schools being too tough on students by setting hard exam papers? So hard it's bruising students' egos and hurting their confidence?

Ms Jessica Chong, mother of a Primary 6 pupil at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls School, seems to think so.

In a letter to The Straits Times, published on the Forum page on Tuesday, she claimed that half her daughter's class at the school failed a mathematics paper recently, while in another class, only four passed.

Ms Chong said the 'atrocious results' had affected her daughter's 'desire to study hard, her creativity and her self-confidence'.

The New Paper made several attempts to reach the school's principal and the head of its mathematics department for their views. We waited 45 minutes at the school's office yesterday, but could not speak to them.

We spoke to six other parents whose children are sitting for the PSLE this year, and four felt schools were setting exam papers that were too tough.

Mrs Nah Kiat Yong, a homemaker in her late 40s, said: 'It's going from bad to worse. Even an adult (can't) answer some of the questions.'

Dr Lai Ah Eng, an expert in family and demography studies, who also has a son in Primary 6, said some school exams are harder than the PSLE exams.

'Why? It will not necessarily mean the students will do better in the PSLE with more difficult exams,' she noted.

'It could put them off studying and make parents more anxious. Everyone ends up feeling demoralised.'

Dr Yeo Seow Woon, a mother of four, said that in her daughter's junior college, 80 per cent of the cohort failed the biology paper.

'You want to challenge students, that's fine, but teachers must know where to draw the line,' she said.

Madam Aini, 45, a civil servant, said her son goes for extra classes in school three times a week and also has extra tuition. He has been complaining of headaches and feeling 'stressed'.

'Kids are being pushed very hard now. It's a bit ridiculous,' she said.

Ms Jenna Luen, 25, a social worker who counsels primary school pupils and their parents, said that after juggling remedial classes in school, tuition and a heavy load of homework, 'the average PSLE student has no time for rest or relaxation'.


But some parents are all for tough exam papers. A housewife who wanted to be known only as Mrs Cheng said: 'Every year, there will be two or three trick questions in the PSLE. School exams must be more difficult than that, so students still have a chance of getting A-stars.

'Schools want students to know the PSLE isn't easy. They want to encourage the students to work harder. If you set an exam that is too easy, they may get complacent and won't study.'

Mrs June Yee, 46, trusts the schools and teachers with taking care of their students' academic well-being. 'The teachers are experts in their field, I think we should respect their expertise, instead of making a fuss,' she said.

Madam Heng Boey Hong, principal of Nanyang Primary School, who is known for setting challenging exam papers, said there are ' different levels of readiness among the children'.

'Many of those who come to my school are ready for challenging tasks, and they would be extremely bored if they get questions that are too easy,' she said. 'We have to stretch the ones who are strong, but we also have to manage those who need more time. It's an extremely fine line to manage.'

Madam Heng also said that for the preliminary exams, the teachers would not set papers which are too difficult, because with the PSLE looming, the children 'need a morale booster'.

Last year, no one in the school failed their PSLE, though 20 to 40 children would fail the school's exams, she said.

However, Mr Yong Cheng Huat, principal of Stamford Primary School, said: 'There is no necessity to set harder exam papers. We just need to make sure the students are prepared.

'I don't see them having a stronger advantage even if we set harder papers... Doing poorly in an exam may discourage the students.'

I happened to actually see the Math problem associated with this story. None of my 3 colleagues could solve it. What does that prove?

Albert Einstein if he were to be put in Singapore, probably won't have the chance to be the genius he is. For those who are in the education system, they don't even know why they are in the education system. There has to be a cause for education. And if the cause for education is to get good marks during exams, I say the cause is lost.

I read a lot of business books and magazines. I can say with 100% confidence that the amount of marks you get in school is not directly related to the salary you're going to draw in the future. When you look at executives, some of them are highly educated. But also note that some are there not because they are highly educated but through sheer hard work.

Parents are worried for their kids. An increasingly number of parents are worried for their kids. They are also worried that the education system is too tough for their kids.

Would all these tough questions make a difference to their lives 5 years later? 15 years later?

What are they learning exactly? What is education?

To quote Albert Einstein, "Education is what's left after you've forgotten everything you learned in school."

More comments from the public

Monday, May 26, 2008


Great website if you're searching for inspiration of any kind.

Well, this website has submissions of advertising concepts from the public. Do check out the blog for the monthly best-of.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The New (TNP) Art Room

We're in the midst of pasting up out past artworks onto the wall at the art department.

Here you see Simon Ang trying to frame up his work.

The fantastic Jay Chou movie collaboration. It was portrayed in amazing manga style.

I figured that after all the work has been plastered onto the wall, the room would look a lot smaller and busier.

I've brought my unused 17" LCD from home to the office. The productivity gain from so much screen real estate is great.

Dual monitor setup is highly recommended for everyone who needs to look at lots of information simultaneously.

Check out my beautiful green snake.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Singapore inflation rate hits new 26-year high of 7.5% in April

Singapore's annual inflation rate rose to a new 26-year high of 7.5 percent in April as food, housing and transportation costs soared and is now a risk to the economy, the government said on Friday.

Story continues at Singapore inflation rate hits new 26-year high of 7.5% in April

This increase in inflation is particularly frightening, especially to poor people, whose food budget is often a percentage of their monthly income.

If the inflation carries on, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Government call out to companies to increase employee wages. That would be the most drastic situation I see.

The other way, mentioned in the story, is to strengthen the Singapore dollar.

That would in effect mean increasing the cost of doing business in Singapore. Exports will suffer. But current oil prices are already increasing the cost of doing business.

It would be very interesting to see how MAS tackles this problem.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Online comments: Line drawn at religious, racial-sensitive issues

Story source: Online comments: Line drawn at religious, racial-sensitive issues

THE GOVERNMENT is willing to listen to contrarian views expressed online, but the kid gloves will come off where Net postings that threaten the nation's racial and religious harmony are concerned.

The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrisnan, said on Thursday that the Government is willing to 'listen to honestly-held views of responsible people, especially when they are different'.

However, he warned that it takes seriously its duty to 'maintain the integrity and security of the State'.

This was the reason 'recent events' transpired, he said at a new media conference on Thursday.

He did not specify what the 'recent events' were, but it was likely that he was referring to the arrest two days ago of a 24-year-old Chinese man accused of making racist remarks on his blog, or online journal.

In his speech at the seventh annual PR Academy's conference on Thursday, Dr Balakrishnan, the guest-of-honour, made clear what he thought of new media: 'It is a source of tremendous opportunity, both economically and socially.'

It gives users the ability to communicate and express themselves, find like-minded people and mobilise online, he said.

And though it has made governing a country a much harder job, this is a good thing, he said.

He explained that thanks to new media, governments no longer have a monopoly on information, and cannot simply decide and act as they previously could.

Here's the thing about communicating through whatever medium, be it phone, tv, youtube videos or online forums. If you cannot say the same thing you said on that medium to a live person, don't say it.

E.g. You make a racist remark on someone. Are you able to say it in front of the person you're talking about?

E.g. You accuse someone of fraud. Are you able to say it in front of the person you're talking about?

Many people get the impression that you're anonymous behind the Internet. YOU'RE NOT! You're not especially if you doing illegal stuff, such as threatening racial and religious harmony, like in example 1. You're not if you're slandering someone, like in example 2. Both of which will get you into trouble with the law.

That's how I consider if the things I write on the Internet are safe. Regardless of the medium, I can tell every person the same version of the story every single time.
Sure people might not like what you say, but at least what you say is not against the law.

Freedom of speech is only within legal boundaries.

(By the way, Paul Graham has a great essay on how to disagree with people online.)

HDB targets frivolous applicants

News source: HDB targets frivolous applicants

THINK hard before you apply to buy a new Housing Board flat: Lodging frivolous applications will now get you sent to the back of the queue.

New HDB rules unveiled yesterday target flighty first-time buyers who have been hedging their bets by applying for flats when they often have no intention of closing the deal.

The HDB said the move 'will encourage applicants to consider their options carefully'. It also addresses concerns that the thousands of applications that pour in for HDB projects bear little relation to the actual take-up rate.


Read the rest of the story here

I don't really see what's the problem with people adopting the apply-first-and-see-how attitude. If you don't like the flat, you should have the right not to buy the flat. You're not buying a bowl of fishball noodles. The flat cost many times your salary. The buyer should be at least entitled to a moment of painful doubt.

If it cost many times your salary, the 1 year penalty is relatively light compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Again, how will this help the genuine buyers? Or how does the frivolous applicants hurt the genuine buyers? If buyers before them backed out, these genuine buyers would naturally move forward in the queue. Of course, your choices might be limited because you're still somewhere at the back. But hey, you're now presented with an opportunity you previously had not.

It's funny. Would the policy makers themselves buy a flat they do not like? Do they actually talk to people who are going to be affected by their policy?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blu-ray XBox 360 In the Future?

Well, it really depends on how much Microsoft thinks their XBox 360 gamers are using their console to watch Blu-ray movies.

What's the motivation for Microsoft to have an in-built Blu-ray player for their XBox 360 anyway? Even though HD-DVD was dropped, that doesn't mean HD-DVD games are going to die. Unless, the cost of producing games in HD-DVD is going up, or the cost benefit of having games in Blu-ray disc are better, there's really no reason why XBox games can't still be stored in HD-DVD.

StarHub 'blocking file-share program'

News source: StarHub 'blocking file-share program'

From a business perspective, it makes sense to block BitTorrent file-sharing. It is however a different story if you're touting a 8Mbps when you're getting an average speed of much less. It's not misrepresentation, sadly, since theoretically the speeds can reach 8Mbps.

Starhub has to disclose that they are blocking BitTorrent file-sharing or is capping download speeds for whatever application. Failure to disclose information, when seen in a bad light can just mean deceiving their consumers. This is very evidently seen as it even made it to the news.

What Starhub is doing is not wrong. It's just that consumers what want they are paying for. If they can't get it, why are they paying?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Will Saving Money Make Me Rich?

Do I put aside my salary for savings each month? I do, although I don't really have an amount set out in mind.

It's not that I like saving, it's just that I don't like spending money. I'm not a shopaholic. During my US trip to New York last year, I bought only 1 polo t-shirt. That's right. ONE t-shirt. Had some problems even when deciding to buy it because it's not that I can't get it in Singapore.

Recently during reservist in-camp training, a friend said that everyone can be a millionaire if they save on their $2000 per month salary. After deducting $500 for utilities and stuff, that's about $1500 per month of savings. That would take 55 years to make you a millionaire. Of course, your salary might increase overtime to give you a savings of $2500 per month, that will make it 33 years.

Technically speaking, you can be a millionaire. The variables here are time and salary. Saving money is much more easy than making money. If you have a dollar, you can save. But before that, you'll have to make that dollar. You cannot save money without first making it. Therefore, saving money is less important to making you rich, relative to making money.

Then you have to take care to earn more than you spend. The super rich make more than they can spend.

Rather than taking the slow way to become a millionaire, through savings, I would rather take the supposedly faster way of finding ways to increase my income.

Also, a rich person has the skills necessary to become rich. It's important to have that skill. It also goes in line with my thinking that it's not what you have, but what you do. If you're a poor guy with great business sense, you'll be rich in the future even if you're poor now and have nothing.

I wonder what will I think of this post in the future when I'm reading this.

S'poreans prefer to relocate than travel 45 mins to work

CNA story source: S'poreans prefer to relocate than travel 45 mins to work

WORKERS in Singapore will grumble if they have to commute some distance to work, but they will readily pack their bags and fly to the ends of the earth for the right job, according to a poll by Kelly Services.

Two in three of more than 2,000 employees here polled by the recruitment firm said they were not prepared to commute more than 45 minutes each way to work, The Business Times reported yesterday.

Nearly eight in 10 of those polled would consider relocating to another country to work.

This shows that despite their reluctance to spend more time commuting, Singapore workers are highly mobile when it comes to securing the right job.

More than half - 56 per cent - of the workers polled were even ready to uproot and move to unfamiliar territories where they don't speak the local lingo.

'With a more globalised workforce, there is increasingly a recognition that people may have to relocate to find the right work, or to advance their career,' saidMr Dhirendra Shantilal, Kelly's senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific.

'There are many skills that are easily transferable across borders, including in areas such as banking and finance, IT, science and engineering.'

Those willing to move, not surprisingly, are in the younger age group of 25 to 34.

'Typically, they have fewer family and other commitments that prevent them from relocating,' said Kelly Services.

'Males were more willing to relocate than females.'

It added that 'family' was the overwhelming issue when workers polled were asked to rank the main obstacles for them to work overseas, with 72 per cent citing it as a factor.

Other factors were language barriers (49 per cent), children's education (27 per cent), tax complications (24 per cent), property ownership (20 per cent) and pension/super-annuation rights (14 per cent).

'The finding that many workers are willing to be highly mobile in their search for work is good news for employers,' Kelly said.

'At a time of relative skills shortage, globally, targeting employees from another city or internationally can be one of the most effective ways of filling gaps in the labour market.'

Some 13 per cent of the workers polled said that they had already relocated to a country where they did not speak the language to find the right job.

This is probably due to the fact that traveling is becoming more uncomfortable nowadays.

Why is it that I get the idea that SMRT trains were less crowded in the past? The rise in population is making public transport a bit uncomfortable.

Also not mentioned in the story is whether the surveyed would choose owning a car since the car will most likely reduce traveling time.

This is something that's pretty simple. Just compare the motivation of relocating versus the motivation to not travel 45 minutes every working day in crowded public transport.

There are probably other variables in question that I might have left out.

Book Review: Online Marketing Heroes

This is a great book for everyone who has a website of any kind and wants to create more traffic for it. Online marketers, business executives would benefit most from it.

I really like the interview style, similar to Founders at Work, when applied to business books. You get the full excerpt and can interpret it yourself. It's great when for people who have been there done that and wants to share their knowledge. Of course, it's also marketing for themselves in a way.

For a full summary, you might want to check out their website at

Thursday, May 15, 2008

BBCode Generator for Flickr

If you're like me who likes to upload photos to Flickr, and then post them onto forum boards, this is for you.

This Firefox plugin will generate the BBCode for your Flickr photo. Most forum uses BBCode.

1. You'll need to have Firefox web browser. The download link for that is on the right most column at the bottom.

2. After you've installed Firefox, visit Greasemonkey plugin to install Greasemonkey. Greasemonkey is needed for you to install the BBCode generator.

3. Next visit to look for a "Install this script" button. Click on it.

4. Greasemonkey will install the script necessary to generate the BBCode.

5. Then from your Firefox menu bar, go to Tools->Greasemonkey->Manage User Scripts...

Under your included pages, add http://**/*/sizes/*/

6. You're done. Next time you visit the Flickr photo page where all your photos are shown in different sizes, you'll get a form box with the BBCode ready for you to copy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Euro 2008 on Calendar

Next month is going to be pretty intense with Euro 2008. 7-29 June non-stop except for 2 days before the final.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot

Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot

This is very very good. Spoof of infographics.

Closing the Door to Microsoft Vista

This is from a Businessweek article "Closing the Door to Microsoft Vista".

Deciding whether to upgrade to Vista is so easy.

Technology is suppose to help people save time and money. Is Vista going to help people save time and money? Ok, repeat the same question and compare it with another OS.

The answer is so clear.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Making of Iron Man 3D

Check out The Art of Iron Man artbook that I've reviewed on my blog also.

3d iron man infographics
This Iron Man infographic appeared on The New Paper on 30 April 2008. It was done by Simon Ang, Fuzz (aka Fadzil) and me. I modeled the main suit. Simon did the layout and Fuzz modeled the internal of the suit.

The modeling process took 2-3 weeks.

hasbro iron man
I got my blueprints from Simon's toys (shown above), and from movie trailers and the Iron Man computer game. The computer game model has pretty a pretty high level of detail.

It had been established from the start that it would be impossible to accurately re-model Iron Man. If I can get it to look almost close to the movie, it should be considered job done.


I took a lot of photos of the toys in all profiles. Next I created the blueprints. The toys looked roughly similar to the movie version of Iron Man. There were rotating joints on the toys so you'll never get the real profile.

These line drawings (above) were then saved as Illustrator 10 files for import to Maya 8.5.



And the laborious time consuming process of modeling started.

Firstly, I modeled the general shape of Iron Man. As I have more detail, I cut out the polygons into separate pieces as determined by their coloured sections.


To save time, I modeled stuff that's eventually going to be seen by the readers. I didn't model the hands.


After one half of Iron Man is done, I combined all the polygons together and duplicated it. Next I mirrored it by giving X-scale a -1.

The two halves were then combined.

Before I smoothed Iron Man, I selected the vertices to merge them. I applied a smooth to the normals for the edges in the centre, as shown below.




If you don't smooth the normals of the edges, you'll get something like below. Note the hard edge on the face.


Here's the low poly count Iron Man and it's smoothed version.



For textures, I used a very simple combination of bumps and chrome. Remember that I've cut out the polygons based on their colours earlier. Basically, I applied the material as if I'm applying colour swatches.

Planar mapping was done on the polygons before applying the material as the modeling process stretched the UVs. Doing so ensures that the bumps, when modeled, are evenly distributed and not stretched.


Finally, I rendered Iron Man in high resolution for print. Of course, there were some post Photoshop work done. Such as adding the glow in the eyes, chest, the shine on the metallic body and other stuff.


Other information and graphics on the page were sourced by Simon.

------------------- Downloads ----------------------

Because a lot of people have asked me for the model, I've made it available for download. It's created using Maya 8.5.

The model isn't 100% because the job doesn't require it to be. You can just add on from there.

Please link back to this back if you have decided to use the model in your work. Thanks.

Here's the Iron Man 3D model download link at my deviantart page.

------------------- Books -------------------

Here are some Iron Man stuff from, including the concept art book.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dirty Thunderstorms

This is lightning that comes after a volcanic eruption. Out of the world.

Source: Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash and Lightning

$23K Housewife Fantasy

That's what housewives really earn if they live in a fantasy.

Well, $23K is the high end. $8K is the low end. For the high end, I guess you're probably taking care of Donald Trump's kid.

The numbers are abysmal.

You're only worth as much as your next pay cheque. That being said, those HR executives should really help these housewives find these high paying jobs before sprouting such numbers out of their mouths.

Besides, the numbers on the ST photo graphic doesn't add up to $23K. If you just want to single out certain jobs, please say that you're singling certain jobs out.

It's very irritating to read these kind of stories where there's no concrete evidence and everything is just conjecture.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Time Magazine Photo Essays

Time Magazine online has one of the best collection of photo essays.

Transport Overloading

Due to the nature of my job, working hours are not your usual 8-5. As a result, I don't really have to squeeze with people on trains and buses during peak hours.

Additionally, I prefer taking buses to trains when I feel like having a seat on my trip. Trains are typically crowded at all hours nowadays that unless you're at the interchange, you'll never see an empty train arriving.

Trains are for people who like predictability in their travel routines.

I dread the day when our train trips become something portrayed in the following video.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cool Infographics

You'll be able to find a lot of cool infographics on this blog. This is especially useful for graphic journalists!

Visit this website at

Mr Sanguine's Photo Essay

One of my favourite photo essays website. Seems that the author/photographer is no longer updating his site.

Visit this website at

Haunting Photo Essay of 911

One of the best photo essays I've ever seen.

Source: 9/11 WTC Attack Photojournal (Set)

Back From Reservist

Going to reservist In-Camp Training is becoming a pain for me ever since I started treating time like gold.

Today, 6 hours was wasted waiting for out-processing. That's just me. There were around 200 people. That's an equivalent of 50 full days wasted on doing nothing.

Time is so f*****g cheap.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bookmark this website immediately if you're a designer. This has one of the best collection of everything related to graphic design. Just look at the tabs to see what it offers.

It updates regularly so you might want to subscribe to its RSS feed.

A beautiful website that talks about all things typography. Has lots of useful resources. It updates regularly so you might want to add its RSS feed.

Is It Time for Macs to Go Corporate

(Picture sourced from Flickr)

This week's BW Cover Story podcast talks about the opportunity of Mac gaining corporate sales.

Businessweek story: The Mac in the Gray Flannel Suit and the accompanying podcast download link.

It's pretty easy to know the outcome if you know the principle of technology.

Technology is all about saving time and money.

So is using Mac in the office going to help you save time and money? And what are the alternatives out there compared to the Mac?

Business needs require business software. Are there available software that your business needs? For example, if you're using Microsoft Office on a Windows computer, there is also a Mac equivalent version of Microsoft Office.

Although Macs can run Windows, it will require an additional Windows license (think extra money!). You'll also have to boot up into Windows (think extra time!). If you constantly switch from Mac OS to Windows OS, your productivity will take a hit. Of course you can run Windows OS inside Mac OS via virtualisation, but note again you need to spend extra money again on the virtualisation software.

So if you really need to switch from Windows OS to Mac OS frequently, don't get a Mac. You won't be saving time.

Both Windows OS and Mac OS are pretty stable. But stability not a factor in deciding whether to buy. The factor is whether the stability will translate into time/cost savings. Do you see what I'm trying to say? All the features count for nought if they are unable to translate into time/cost savings.

Some argue that Macs are more expensive. It's a very sound argument. Let's go back to the principle again. Is that expensive Macs going to help you save time and cost more than the less expensive computer?

Note also that there are two variables, time and money. You'll value one more than the other. It's the reason why people pay more for cabs and some take the bus to work.

If I were a CIO for a company, making purchasing decision will take seconds.

Users of computers don't really care about anything else other than getting their job done, and done fast.

I use a Windows computer at work. It used to be a Mac but it didn't support a particular software the new workflow required.

The Killer Application in iPhone is Safari

Safari is the web browser supplied by Apple for their computers and for the iPhone.

Steve Jobs probably won't want you to install MSN onto the iPhone. But guess what, you can log on to MSN from! supports MSN, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger and etc! All these chat messengers on the web browser! Yes, you can now be online while you're at Starbucks!

Want to work on your iPhone but can't install the applications you want? Now with Google Docs, you can work on word documents, presentations and even spreadsheets. But you probably won't want to do that on a small screen. But it's possible if you want to!

Say you took a photo with the iPhone. You can fire up and instantly upload your photos onto the the Internet. Yes, instant publication and blogging!

Given the tons of rich Internet applications out there, you can practically do anything with a web browser.

You can download songs from You can book cinema tickets online. You can find the best Laksa or Hokkien Mee on Google Maps. You can search up anything on Wikipedia. You can stream music from

I can go on and on but I know you got my point.

When Did The Negativity Creep In

Had a very interesting talk with a friend yesterday over dinner. Our talk almost always consist of some business related topics. Let me highlight just one that I think is very interesting and true.

We were talking about the negativity that surrounds Singaporeans when it comes to starting a business or making money.

The first thing that comes to mind when I ask anyone about the possibility of starting a business would be cost. How much is it going to cost running the business? What's the startup cost? How much will it cost to run everything? I don't come from a rich background to fall back on when the business fails.

See anything similar in the responses? All they think about are the forces that are out to take the business down. They don't even have time to stop and think for once about possibility of an opportunity. So adverse are Singaporeans to taking risk.

The problems comes from social conditioning that our education system and parents have put upon us. Most of them will tell you to study hard, find a good and stable job for the rest of your lives. If it works for them, it'll work for you too.

They'll give you examples of people who have studied hard and made good money. But they never tell you the examples of people who made it through to the top with little education. Even if they do, they'll say that those were the exceptions but do they encourage you to be an exception?

After years of conditioning, or brainwashing, one naturally forgets that there are other paths to be taken in life. And this typically takes place when you're in secondary school and slightly later. In the university, if you're lucky, you'll get to meet speakers who actually have been in the world of business and speaks to you about their real life experiences.

Everyone can see negativity so you practically have no advantage over others there. But not everyone can see opportunities.

I believe

This is a quote from John D Rockefeller in 1941. It's found on the plaque in front of Rockefeller's plaza which I happened to chanced upon. Gives a little insight into what would be the world's richest man if he had still been alive.

- I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;

- I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty;

- I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master;

- I believe in the dignity of labour, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living;

- I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs;

- I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order;

- I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man's word should be as good as his bond; that character - not wealth or power or position - is of supreme worth;

- I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free;

- I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual's highest fulfilment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will;

- I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.

Podcast perfection: Businessweek podcasts has one of the best podcasts in the world right now. Just check out the 5 star ratings on iTunes.

I've a couple of hundred BW podcasts in my iPod that I listen every time I commute to work. So much so that the time I spend listening to these podcasts is more than that of what I spend on music.

What makes these podcasts work is because they have personalities. They are character based. The same reason that made the Mr Brown Show podcasts so popular.

Let me take my favourite podcast title of all, Behind The Cover (BTC). BTC is a weekly podcast that takes readers behind the scenes of the cover story. Chief executive editor John Byrne talks with the writer/s who wrote the cover story.

Each podcast is about 10 to 20 minutes. The discussion will touch on how they approach the story and their personal opinion on the topics. You literally go behind the scenes with the writers. You get to know how they tackle their stories. What difficulties they have to surmount and things that they wanted to put on the magazine but can't because of space. Each week, different writers will talk on the podcast, bringing with their their personality on air.

At the end of the podcast, you'll get a clear picture of what happens behind all the story gathering to make up what you see on the magazine. Although you'll probably never see these people in real life, but after the podcast, you will feel as though you have met them.

BW has managed, through the podcast, to break down the barrier of mystery that surrounds the news making industry. But that's not to say that they reveal all the secrets of their trade. But other media companies can definitely learn something useful from them.

Pony tailed CEO has a blog

Of all the CEOs I know, not personally of course, there's only one with a pony tail. That's Sun Microsystem's CEO for you, Jonathan Schwartz. He happens to be the only CEO who blogs, as far as I know. I found the link from Wikinomics, a book which I finished reading months ago.

Interestingly and coincidentally, his latest entry is on how the issues surrounding the print media and software companies.

I find it pretty remarkable for someone of such a high status in the corporate ladder be doing something like blogging. Isn't blogging for the hip and trendy younger folks? And you're a businessman, you'll immediately ask the value of blogging, from a CEO's perspective.

Blogging is actually just another medium to communicate to readers. When you're a CEO, you can categorise your readers into different segments. Very noticeably, the two main segments will be your own employees and the public.

Schwartz obviously is using his blog to be more accessible more personal to his employees. Sun is a large company with close to 35,000 employees. There's no way that people will know how the CEO is like or what he's thinking or more importantly, understand the actions he takes.

That's where the blog come in. Employees who read the blog will be able to identify his ideology. They will know at least which direction the company is heading towards and the plans he has for the company in the future. When you're down in the trenches, you will want your employees to know where to go.

The other advantage is you get to find out how your readers feel. You can also gain insights to ideas replied as comments by readers. Granted that you won't know who the readers are since they are anonymous, but at least you can see generally which camps the readers are coming from.

Saving Time With RSS And Readers

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Basically, it gathers news feeds in the form of title and content. No ads or other unnecessary stuff that usually take up more space than the content itself.

RSS saves time by giving you all the headlines with short accompanying summaries. It's all the news in one page. RSS has been around for years and many websites have RSS links that you can bookmark.

Just look for the keywords "RSS" and "Feeds" on the web pages. Another way to tell if the page has RSS is to look at the address bar for a small icon on the right. Depending on the browser, it might look different or don't even have it. Below are how it would look on Firefox and Safari.

There are many RSS readers available on the Internet for free.

I'm using Google Reader because it loads from the website. That means I can use Google Reader anywhere where there's Internet. Also, I have a Google account.

There's nothing like keeping up with the news in seconds.

Book Review: What Really Matters

This is no doubt one of the best business book I've read this year. Even after reading the first chapter, I knew I had to give it 5 stars.

John Pepper is the ex-CEO of P&G from 1995 to 1999. He is now the chairman of the board at Walt Disney Company and a CEO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

As you can see from the cover, the book talks on service, leadership, people and values. Throughout the book, you'll be be presented with never ending life experiences from John Pepper over his 40 over years of service in P&G.

The book is divided into three parts, Foundations for Success, Staying in the Lead and How We Live Our Lives.

In the first part, he talked on the principles behind brand building. He drew on numerous examples to make his point.

For the second part, he touched on how P&G was involved in community building and the important role it played for the company.

In the last part, it was about management in general and how he lead his company and what he learned during the years at P&G.

Even though you may not have worked for P&G, after reading the book, you will have a very thorough understanding of the guiding principles of P&G.