Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sentosa - An Island of Construction?

Went to Sentosa to do some location searching two weeks ago. Oh my, in my old old memory, Sentosa was a place where you can have some nice sandy beach, and some natural environment, and some fun. And today's Sentosa?

When I took the new Sentosa Skytrain to go into the island, the first scene welcoming me is the huge construction site of The Resort World at Sentosa, the much touted integrated resort, a casino to be more blunt. Many rumours, but at least we could see some workers working on the site, and the buildings are coming into shape. That's a good sign.

Then as I walked along the three major beaches, I am not that impressed. Siloso is usually the most popular beach, but then it is being 'renovated'. You might wonder how to 'renovate' a beach? Sentosa's sandy beaches are all man-made. They bought sands from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, and then lay the sands nicely at the 3 Sentosa beaches, that's how we get our nice and beautiful sandy beaches.

A small mountain of sand is seen in Siloso, so I guess they are trying to 'renovate' the beach, or some sand sculpting acitivities are coming. Anyway, quite a bit of construction work there, in a nutshell.

So the crowd now goes to Palawan beach. Crowded on a weekend afternoon. Further down, the Tanjong beach, which is less popular, has nothing.

At this moment, Sentosa is one huge construction site, almost everything is under construction, not really a good time to pay it a visit. A good time may be after the opening of the Resorts World at Sentosa, more life and more attractions hopefully by then.

What Did You Do During Earth Hour?

What did you do during Earth Hour?

I switched off all the lights in my flat, which is not that many anyway. But I left my fridge on, my dry cabinet on, my fan on, my internet on, and my computer on.

The lights I use are around 40W each, so in total, they don't consume much electricity. The real power sucker is the fridge, and my electric kettle. Another major power sucker is the water heater for showers.

Of course, air conditioning will consume lots of power too, but I only use my air conditioner like once or twice a month, just to make sure that it is still working :)

Then I looked out of my flat, to see how many actually switched their lights off. I couldn't tell actually. The coffee shop lights were on, street lights were on. I couldn't tell the lights on the opposite housing block are less or more during the Earth Hour.

So is Earth Hour a success or a failure? Mmmmh..... I don't know.

New Way for Upload @ Dreamstime

Dreamstime just introduced a Java plug-in for submitters to submit their new photos. Fairly convenient, now you can choose multiple photos from your hard disk and directly upload them using that Java FTP uploader. It is a great step forward comparing in the past you have to upload using the webform uploader and upload one photo at a time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour is Today!

In 2.5 hours time, Earth Hour will arrive in Singapore. During this Earth Hour, you are supposed to switch off ALL your electrical appliances, including your handphone, your internet router, your computer, your ipod/mp3 player, basically everything that needs electricity, be it in battery form or power main form.

I wonder, if we really follow the rules strictly, what can we do during that Earth Hour? Going to the park for a one hour jog? Will it still be safe to jog in the dark? I assume the street lights should be turned off as well :)

You can't and should not escape to the shopping centres, as they are the biggest carbon emission contributors by having the air conditioning on all the time.

Or go to the beach to enjoy a candle light picnic with your family? That sounds like a good idea, but then a bit too far away for me to go to any beach. And Singapore's beaches will have lights lah....

What will you do during the Earth Hour?

The Kangxi Emperor Exhibition

There is this 'The Kangxi Emperor" Exhibition going on at the Asian Civilisation Museum at the Empress Place, with exhibits coming from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The normal admission is S$8.00, but if you are a OCBC credit card holder, you can get a 20% discount. I went down today specifically for this discount, then when I arrived, I got a positive surprise: Free.

The museum will be open for free to all visitors for this weekend (28/29 Mar). In addition, if you visit the Kangxi Emperor exhibition, you can get a free ice cream too! There are also performances on level 2 of the museum to entertain visitors.

Ok, back to the main topic, about the exhibition. The displays are borrowed from the Palace Museum in Beijing. I specifically mention Beijing, because ever since China is split into two parts, the mainland and taiwan, many things have doubles. For example, there are two Palace Museums, one in Beijing; one in Taipei. The one in Beijing has the Forbidden City, and 1/3 of the treasures; the one in Taipei has a new building, but 2/3 of the treasures. Others such as Tsinghua University, there are two, too. Again one in Beijing, one in Taiwan.

There are quite a number of official portraits of Emperor Kangxi, Empress Dowage Xiaozhuang, Emperor Yongzhen, Emperor Qianlong on display. I was amazed by the sheer size of those portraits. They are big. The elegance of the painter's skills are also of great excellence. I thought I had seen enough of them in books, but then only when I saw them with my own eyes, when I saw the real stuff, then I realised how great they are.

They showcase two long strolls, one depicting the 60th birthday celebration of Emperor Kangxi; another depicts the welcome ceremony of Emperor Kangxi when he was touring Jiangnan. Both long strolls again are stunningly great.

Emperor Kangxi's calligraphy is great too. Looking at his hand writings, I just feel ashamed of myself. Look at the Heart Sutra that he copied, wow, it looks like a piece of print work. The characters are elegantly written.

Another interesting point is the 'modern machines'. Have you ever seen a Qing Dynasty calculator? There are one or two on display. They are big, but then they look very nice.

I am very happy with this exhibition. I recommend you to pay it a visit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

SMRT New Info System

I noticed in some of the SMRT trains, a new info system has been installed. The old system only shows you a static MRT map, but you will have no clue which station or direction you are heading, neither do you know which side the doors will open.

The new system now has LED light-up to show you the direction the train is traveling, the station it is approaching, the stations that the train has passed. There are two additional indicators to inform the passengers which side the doors are opening.

The new info system is much more passenger friendly, especially to people who are not familiar with Singapore's MRT system. Definitely it is a great improvement. However, it is only available in some trains, but not to all the trains yet. I hope they will roll out this new system to all the trains soon.

Well, but then just a reminder, similar systems have been available in Guangzhou's, Hong Kong's, as well as Shenzhen's metro for quite a number of years. We are not leading, we are just catching up with others, so don't boost :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SMRT Citibank credit is not Citibank Credit Card?

Some time ago, I made a purchase at Timberland Centre Point. They were having a storewide discount of 15%, and additional 10% if pay by Citibank credit cards. I happily paid by my Citibank SMRT card, as the cashier had been very nice to remind me that Citibank cards were eligible for additional discounts. But, when the cashier swiped my card, nothing happened, no additional discount. I was puzzled, but didn't ask further.

Then today, I received a promotion pamplet from Citibank for Calvin Klein jeans promotions with certain discounts. I looked carefully at the four cards listed under the 'Official card' list, my SMRT card is not there. It seems like SMRT card is a cheapo card and it does not have the same previllages of other Citibank cards.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Business Ethics

An unpleasant experience over lunch. We went to a stall with long queue in rainy days. As we wanted to get our food quick, so three of us ordered 3 plates of fried rice.

We waited and waited and waited, our fried rice never came. Looking at the queue, people who ordered their food after us have got theirs, but we were still waiting. I asked the boss, the unfriendly raised his voice and said it takes longer time to cook our fried rice, so his cook prepared other food before tending to our order.

I am quite unhappy with this. Service should be rendered to people who come first. We come to eat at your stall, that means we are putting money into your pocket, we should be treated at least fairly. For food such as chicken rice, or soup, which is already ready to be served, it is understandable that people who come later may be served first. However, for people who order food that requires on the spot preparation, such as fried rice, it is very unfair that people who come later get served first.

The boss of the stall in this case, has no business ethic to talk about. The only thing in his mind is just money, money & money. With such an attitude, I don't think he will gain many customers. At least for me, I won't go back to eat at that stall anymore, as I have been unfairly treated. I am sure I am not the first customer being treated this way, nor the last one. By doing so, that stall owner is just digging his own grave and when the hole is deep enough, he will just fall in and bury himself.

A little business ethic will last you long, without it, that's the path to your own demise.

A note to myself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lower Rate @

After the drive to have more 'exclusive' photographers to, those non-exclusive photographers are now having a lower rate.

Previously, the lowest on-demand rate is $0.33/dl for XS size, now it is $0.30/dl for the same size, which is equivalent to a 10% reduction. For subscription downloads, the rate remains at $0.30/dl.

This means if you are not an exclusive photographer with them, you have to work 10% harder than before to get back the same amount of pay.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are you Self-Sabotaging?

According to Dr. Van Tharp, if you have one of the following symptoms, you probably have a major problem with self-sabotage.

1. You keep buying things instead of cutting expensese, even though those things have nothing to do with maintaining your lifestyle

2. You develop a plan and adopt several workable strategies, but you cannot follow them.

3. You cannot seem to control one particular emotion that repeats over and over again.

4. You repeat the same mistake over and over again.

5. You persist in doing things that you know are not in your best interest.

6. You feel numb to your feelings and believe that you neer get emotional

7. You don't do the preparation that you need to do well even though you know that it is important.

8. You keep procrastinating on the action steps

9. You want financial freedom, but you don't seem committed to it.

10. You have very little joy in your life.

11. You feel depressed.

12. You feel glued to the negative news on TV.

13. You watch TV for 3 hours or more each day.

14. You feel insecure. You worry that everything will crash around you.

15. You experience internal conflict. Part of you knows what you should do, but another part of you pulls in another direction.

16. You don't feel worthwhile.

17. You are a perfectionist, but you never seem to get things right.

18. You have to be right all the time.

19. You hate one or both of your parents (a major symptom of self-sabotage).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Home Team Strong Man Challenge 2009

Home Team Strongest Man Challenge 2009 is a body-building contest, which forms part of a Ministry of Home Affairs road show. As it is only one of the programs in the show, the scale is smaller than Muscle & Fitness War 2009, organized by NUS. There are only about a total of 12 or so contestants, divided into two groups. One group is the home team from MHA, while the other group is the so-called invitation group. I did see some faces from Muscle & Fitness War 2009 appearing in this event too. No surprise thought, Singapore is a small country.

Another draw back for this body-building contest to be part of a bigger event is that you have to make some comprise. As there are other home team programs such as a contest to pull a car, so the stage has to be able to accommodate such events. As a result, they block out the entire area directly in front of the stage, all the audiences have to watch from the side.

Friday, March 20, 2009

OldTown White Coffee

I frequently see OldTown White Coffee chain stores in Malaysia. I always wonder: What is old town? What is white coffee? In a previous entry, I have found my answer to white coffee, so in this entry, I will try to find the answer for OldTown.

What else will be better than starting my search from OldTown White Coffee's own web page? There page here gives you a glimpse of the meaning of OldTown. Ok, it is a bit stupid, OldTown is the 'name' of an old town in Ipoh, Perak State, Malaysia.

It is said that in OldTown, the pace is slow, even the birds don't fly, instead, they walk. OMG, I get worried about those birds :P In the past, I only know that Ipoh is famous for producing oriental beauties, I didn't know Ipoh also produces white coffee. Now I am getting very tempted to pay Ipoh a visit, to experience the good feeling.

New Format Earnings Page @ today unveiled their new format of the earnings page, the most important & popular page to all photographers.

The new format now indicates the price of the photo, what kind of license, is it subscription or on-demand download, the photo size of the download. It has all the interesting information included in the earnings page.

I like the new format, it contains more information, a fresh look, however, I don't really care how it looks, I care more about how my earnings go. No matter how good that the format of the earnings page looks, it my earning sucks, that page still looks ugly. :P

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Breaking Down

My Dell Axim x51v PDA is breaking down bit by bit, day by day. First, the WiFi stopped working, without informing me. In terms of value for money, it is really not worth the S$600 I paid for this PDA. I only used the WiFi for a couple of times, and then now it just refused to work, and goes on permanent holidays.

Then the Adobe reader on the PDA, seeing that the WiFi can stop working, stopped to work too. I uninstalled the software, installed it again, but then it just refuses to open any PDF file for me.

I only used this PDA for about 3 years plus, and then now it has turned itself into an expensive piece of paper weight. Or the only use is it will act as my personal entertainment device when I take those cheap budget flights.

Times have changed, and electronic gadgets also change. The morale of the story is that when you get a piece of new electronics, make sure you use it to its full capacity, to get back every single dollar's value from the electronic gadget, before that piece of once expensive gadget become a piece of expensive paper weight.

Slow Sales at

There is a noticeable slow down in sales for me at I was a couple of dollars away from the minimum payout amount around a month ago, and I am still a couple of dollars away from the minimum amount now.

The downloads at Dreamstime is almost at a standstill, although I have a number of new photos just came online.

Actually, out of the many microstock agencies, Dreamstime is one that I notice slow down after we are into this current financial crisis. No matter how diligently for me to upload to dreamstime, the download number just doesn't seem to move.

Maybe a new strategy is needed for me, and the sales team at

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Merlion Back to Normal

Saw it in the news that the Merlion statue at 1 Fullerton has been repaired, and the water jet in its mouth started to pump out water again. However, the waves below the statue are still under repair.

When the Merlion was struck by lighting, some Feng Shui master said it might have helped Singapore bear the brunt of some bad luck, now the Merlion is repaired, I am wondering what would the Feng Shui master say this time.

There are two possibilities:

1. The Merlion recovers, so Singapore has also weathered its worst financial crisis and going to recover.

2. Since the Merlion recovered, the Singapore has to bear the brunt of the whatsoever bad luck :P

Anyway, whatever the master says, let's hope for a better tomorrow :)

Day Trip to Kluang - Part III

OldTaste Cafe

Last time I tried OldTown Cafe, which was just so, this time in Kluang, I tried the OldTaste Cafe at Kluang Mall.

Fried rice with fried chicken drum stick was what I ordered. Didn't expect much actually, especially the fried chicken drum stick. Usually fried drum sticks are very dry and taste like chewing rubber. However, the OldTaste fried drum stick gave me a positive surprise. The outside is crispy, yet the inside is still juicy and tender. The essence of the chicken drum stick has been skillfully preserved under the crispy cast.

They also use minced shrimp shells in their fried rice. The shrimp shells gives the rice a special frangance. The rice is soft yet delicious.

I must say I quite like the food at OldTaste. It gives people a feel of the old & dreamy colonial days of Nanyang, a name referring to South East Asia in Chinese. The calm and peace of enjoying a cup of local Nanyang white coffee in a hot, dizzy Sunday afternoon.

Oh, here I must make a special mention of 'white coffee'. You will see this term bumping up almost everywhere in Malaysia. 'White Coffee' in Malaysia means coffee produced roasting the beans with magarine. White coffee is quite a hit in Malaysia. Many people like white coffee. White coffee powder is also readily available everywhere. A packet of white coffee only costs you RM6.00 at Kluang Railway Station.

You can find Part I here & Part II here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Earth Hour - 8.30pm, 28 March

Saw a poster about Earth Hour, asking people to switch off their lights for an hour starting at 8.30pm, 28 March.

I still support this movement, although it is mostly symbolic, without any substance. The amount of energy saved by switching off the light for an hour will not be too significant. If people are serious in saving energy, then they should do it everyday, on everything in their daily life.

Just look around where you live, do you see all those lights shining bright like sunshine from 7pm to 7am in our HDB blocks? Is it good? Of course it is good. People who come home late will never worry about walking in the dark. Is it energy efficent? Of course no. Can we do something to save some energy? Yes! But the will to do so? Mmmmh.... In doubt.

If you are serious about saving life, then you should never have excesses, which is quite on the opposite of stimulating economy. Just walk around the food court or hawker center you frequent, how much left-over food do you see? Our ladies are so health conscious that half of the rice in their plates are left. In the older days, people used left-over food to feed pigs, hens & roosters, but now what do they do with the left-over food? Rubbish bin. Everyday there is so much wastage of precious produces from our Mother Earth.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day Trip to Kluang - Part II

You can Part I here & Part III here.

Kluang Railway Station Cafe

The prime reason we went to Kluang is to try the food at Kluang Railway Station Cafe. How can we give it a miss then? We arrived at around 11am, yet the cafe was still packed with people, most of them Malays with families.

We ordered Nasi Lemak, Roti Bun, Kopi Susu and some green stuff which I don't know the name.

The Kopi Susu is not the ordinary coffee, it is very strong in AFTER taste. When the coffee first went into my mouth, I didn't feel much, but after it went down, then I felt something strong going up my spine and then all the way to the top of my head. And then I felt a bit dizzy, sleepy for the rest of the day. Oh, don't worry, that's my normal reaction to strong coffee. The only other time that I got such a strong coffee was when I was back in Milan the other time. However, this Kluang roasted coffee does not have much aroma smell, a pity.

The way food is being served in the Railway Cafe is very much based on trust. For example, we ordered Nasi Lemak. The waiter just put a few packets of Nasi Lemak on a plate and then put it on our table. We can eat as much as we want, then later on when we pay, we just tell them how many packets we have eaten.

Do you see how small in size their Nasi Lemak is? One packet is just for 3-4 mouthful. Two peanuts, around 5 ikan bilis. The chilli sauce is not bad, but quite common to me.

What I like most is their Roti Bun. The secret is in their Kaya. It is sweet and smooth, combined with the softness of butter, and the crispiness of the bun, it is just a perfect combination.

We also ordered this green stuff which I know no name. Basically it is the sticky kind of rice wrapped in banana leaves. In the rice, the filling is coconut with some yellow ginger (?), not too sure. Maybe when it was served to us, it was already cold, so the taste was not that fantastic.

There are two Kluang Railway Cafe shops. One, of course, is at Kluang Railway station itself. It is also the original shop. The cafe itself is just two small wooden sheds. The other cafe is in Kluang town centre. The shop space is much bigger & cleaner. If you don't want to fight with the crowd at the railway station itself, you can go to the one in town. I have not tried the food there, so I can't really comment.

Tomorrow, I will write about other food found in Kluang. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day Trip to Kluang - Part I

Part II is available here & Part III here

Got up at 6 o'clock in the morning, reached Kranji MRT station at 7.30am, then took Bus 170 to JB, arrived at JB CIQ building at 7.50am, then reached JB train station at 7.55am, bought train ticket to Kluang at 7.59am, which cost RM14.00/ticket for 'superior class'. Everything went according to our plan.

Then we discovered KTB, the Malaysian train operator, is one of the greatest teacher in the world on patience. It constantly tests its passengers' patience. Our train was supposed to depart JB station at 8.28am and arrive in Kluang at 9.43am. That was the very reason why we got up so early, arrived in JB so early without having our breakfast. Guess what happened? At 9.30am, 13 mins from the time that we were supposed to arrive in Kluang, we boarded the train at JB station. It was more than 1 hour late! My Malaysian travel companions' comment: You should count yourself lucky the train has actually arrived :)

JB Railway Station, Waiting anxiously for the train

Instead of 9.43am, we arrived in Kluang railway station at 11.00am. One of the reasons why we wanted to go to Kluang is we want to try the food at the famous Kluang Railway Cafe. We enjoyed our hearted, although a very late, breakfast at the Railway Cafe. The food was not bad. I will talk about it in Part II tomorrow.

Kluang Railway Station

Kluang Railway Station

Kluang Railway Station Cafe

Kluang is an easy to navigate small town. From the railway station, there is one straight road. At the end of it, you can see a tall building with the word 'PRIME' at the top (you can actually see it from the railway station). That is where Plaza BCB is. Plaza BCB is an older shopping centre in Kluang. It is small in size, yet there are still a lot of shops vacant :) The archor tenant is The Store.

The road in front of Kluang Railway Station

Right next to Plaza BCB is Kluang Bus Terminal. If you can't get a train ticket to your destination, you can try to get a bus ticket here. Plenty of buses.

Diagonally opposite the bus terminal, that is Kluang Parade. Giant hypermart is within Kluang Parade. Kluang Parade opened in February 2007, so it is more modern than Plaza BCB, but there are more vacant shops in Kluang Parade than in Plaza BCB :P On the 3rd floor, only about 20-30% of the shops are occupied. It looks like business is bad, but what I don't understand is I kept seeing advertisements pasted on shop fronts looking for shop assistants. Interesting...

If you walk a bit further from Kluang Parade, you will see a building with a big word 'Pacific' on it front. That is Kluang Mall in Jalan Rambutan. Kluang Mall opened in January 2009, so it is newest mall in Kluang. As you can expect, people all flock to the newest, biggest mall. Business in Kluang Mall seems to be much better than the other two malls.

As a whole, Kluang is a dreamy, sleepy small town in the center of the Malaysian state of Johor, about 100km north of Johor Bahru. The pace is slow, life seems to be very relaxing, the food is not bad. It is convenient to walk around without a car. I kind of like this small little town.

In terms of photography opportunities, I can say there are many and at the same time, there is none.

If you go to Kluang speicially for photography purpose, maybe you would like to bring along your many props, and model(s). There are lots lots of nice place to shoot with your model(s) in this rustic town. If you are there for relaxing, for the food, then you can just leave your camera at home. Just shoot with your handphone camera, that's about enough, if you are not too critical.

As we couldn't get a train ticket for the return trip, we took the bus. The cost is RM9.75 per person from Kluang to JB Larkin Bus Terminal. We departed at 4.30pm, arrived in JB at around 6pm. From Larkin, we took SBS bus 170 to JB CIQ. Immigration clearance was fast, but the queue for Bus 170 was terribly long. It wound around many times. You could hardly tell where the end was. Luckily there was no serious traffic jam on the causeway, so we managed to board a bus at around 6.55pm.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attack on Microstock Sites

iStockPhoto got an email phishing attack recently. You can find more details at this link:

Another site, Dreamstime, has recently implemented a verification code when you submit new photos.

Looks like economy is bad and more scams and con artists are at work...

Crazy Racer

Crazy Racer is another Chinese comedy. The story is about a stupid bike racer who was set up by some bad guys and lost his racing career, and then the story develops about his stupid life after that. It has some underground society elements, too.

This movie, in terms of language use, reflects what is happening in people's daily life in mainland China. Black humour type of dialogues. Using noble words for total non-noble meanings.

The story is a bit messy and without a very obvious theme.

I didn't finish watching the entire movie, as I didn't want to torture myself :)

My rating: 2.5/5


Safe Strategies for Financial Freedom

Title: Safe Strategies for Financial Freedom
Authors: Van K Tharp, D R Barton Jr, Steve Sjuggerud
Publisher: McGraw-Hill 2004

This is a book published back in 2004, teaching people how to get to financial freedom through some simple strategies, reveal the true face of mutual funds, and most important, how people should take FULL responsibilities for their own doing.

The book first introduces to you the financial freedom number. This number tells you how far away you are from financial freedom.

Financial freedom number is calculated as: your monthly passive income - your monthly expenses.

For example, if you have a passive income of $250 a month, be it interest from your savings account, or renting out of your spare room; and you have a monthly expenses of $2500, including your mortgage, insurance, kid's education, etc, then your financial freedom number is 250 - 2500 = -2250. What it means is that you need to get another $2250 a month passive income to become financially free!

Then the books continues to teach you how you should cut down your expenses and debt to immediately improve your financial freedom number.

The book dedicates its Part II & Part III on strategies that you can employ to increase your wealth. Many strategies may not actually apply in Singapore, as the law is different, the economic conditions are different. However, you can still get an idea of what you can do to achieve higher revenue.

The authors advocates a 15-year cycle theory. It says that markets go in 15-year big cycles. The current cycle is bear market cycle, and it started back in year 2000. This bear market is expected to end in 2015-2020. For stocks to be considered to be of great value, Dow Jones has to go down to 2700 points, S & P to 186 points, to achieve a P/E ratio of 7.

Next, the book introduces the concept of expectancy and position sizing, which are, in my opinion, very important in risk control.

The book further goes into the psychology side of investing, the key message is everybody must be responsible for his/her own actions. If you think you are a victim of other's doing, then you will never ever get out of the trap.

The book concludes with the emphasis on action! Nothing is going to happen if you don't act!

This is a very good book if you are serious to gain financial freedom. Highly recommended.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Build Your Own Fixed Income Fund

It is very sad to read in the news people lost their life-time savings to the Lehman brother mini bonds. Those investors are not even greedy, what they asked for was only 5-8% return per annum, or even just enough if they can beat the fixed deposit rate.

And the 'professionals' convinced people that as an individual, they will never be able to have the time and knowledge to manage their own money. Money has to be turned to the 'professionals' so that the 'professionals' can have a high salary, fat bonuses, and at the same time, lose YOUR money.

Why don't people just ditch those scumbags and build their own fund? It is not difficult to build your own fixed income fund, and even less difficult to beat the fixed deposit rate, as some of the funds benchmarked against.

Let's say you have S$100,000 in capital to build your own fixed income fund, what you can do is:

1. Get a Fairprice Plus credit card issued by OCBC. It comes with a savings account that lets you do all your bankings through ATM or internet (no over the counter service though). The savings accounts offers 0.5% p. a. interest for accounts of less than S$50,000; 1% p. a. interest for account of S$50,000 and above. What is the fixed deposit rates now? Don't think it is more than 1%. See, you can easily beat the fund managers.

2. To diversify your risk, you should buy some Singapore government treasury bills. You can make such purchases at the banks. Just tell them you want to buy Singapore government treasury bills, nothing else. For sure they will try to convince you to buy something else that gives them higher commission. Treasury bills are short term instruments that varies from 3-6 months normally. The return is quite low, but at least your money is 'safe', as long as Singapore government does not go bankrupt.

3. You should have some substantial portion of your S$100,000 invested in 1 & 2. After that, you should look for something that will give you a bit higher returns. One option is to buy the preference shares from all the 3 big local banks.

OCBC offers 4.5% pa & 5.1% pa preference shares, UOB offers 5.05% pa preference shares, DBS offers 6% pa (up to 2011) preference shares. You can purchase those shares in the open market as like any other shares. However, you should be reminded that preference share prices will go up and go down in value, and when they go down, it can drop quite a lot. For example, OCBC 4.5% shares has gone down from around S$104.00/share to the current price of ~S$80.00 a share. You must be prepared to stomach the capital loss, and have the confidence that the local banks won't go bankrupt!

4. Then you may allocate about 5% of your total investment capital into some high yielding stocks.

With the above, you can easily construct your own fixed income fund, and easily beat the performance of many 'professional' fund managers. Some claim the fund under their management JUST dropped 20%, better than STI's performance. And the investment return of <1% performance by those so-called 'professionals' is really a joke.

Disclaimer: The above is my personal opinion only, no liabilities in whatsoever form are assumed or born by the auther. Invest on your own risk!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Looking for TFCD Models

TFCD stands for Time for CD. Basically it means the photographer and the model will dedicate some time for a shoot. At the end, both the photographer and the model will get some nice photos for their personal keeps, or portfolio, or whatever.

I see TFCD as a win-win deal for both parties. It is in particular useful for model wannabe to build up their portfolio without spending too much money. A properly done model portfolio may cost quite a couple of hundreds dollars even here in Singapore.

For the photographer, it is good opportunity to try out new techniques, new ideas, even a new genre of photography, a new style.

And here I am looking for TFCD models. Gendre does not matter, guys or girls, both are welcome. If you are a couple, boyfriend/girlfriend, or soon-to-be-wedded, you are even more welcome.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Microstock: Stolen Photo

I chanced upon a web forum and to my surprise, I found a photo of mine is there. The photo is stolen from

How do I know it? The Fotolia watermarks are still on the photo, all over it.


What to do?

Intelligent property is really hard to protect...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

JB Wedding Fair Show

Went over to JB City Square to watch the 'Love Desire - Wedding Fair' bridal show. The 8 biggest bridal shops in Johor each designed three sets of bridal gowns, night gowns for the show today.

I think bridal shows should be the most enjoyable event for people in love. Girls like to wear beautiful clothes, guys like to watch beautiful girls. Bridal shows have both. Girls will focus on the gowns, guys will focus on the models.

JB, the third largest city of Malaysia, is still not an international city, the quality of the design I think is just so-so. All those paraded gowns are not too bad, but they don't look unique, stylish, nor do they make people feel dreamy, fairy-tale like. Somehow it has a bit of kampong feel :P

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Interview with Dr. Van Tharp

This is an interview of Dr. Van Tharp back in 2006 by

In this interview, Dr. Van Tharp briefly mentioned about money management or position sizing, which is the key to successful stock trading. Another key point he mentioned is about a trading system, which is a set of rules to define entry, exit and sizing.

The interview is old, but the concepts Dr. Van Tharp talked about is applicable basically to all market conditions, be it bear or bull.

You can find the interview here.

It is a must read if you want to be successful in stock trading, or trading in general.

What Type of Trader Are You?

Found an interesting test by Van Tharp Institute. I supposed it is founded or funded by another legendary stock trader Dr. Van Tharp.

You can find the test here. It is interesting and you should give it a try. It tries to analyze what kind of trader you are, what are your good points and what are your potential pitfalls. It is not only useful for you as a stock trader, but also in other aspects of your life.

Good things must share :)

The Rape of Nanking

A movie documentary of the Rape of Nanking is said to be very popular these days. Just watched it, nothing really new. It supplied lots of old photographs and footage related to the Rape of Nanking, however, none is crystally clear that the photo or footage is taken during the Rape of Nanking. And many of them are old photos, old photos means the same photos have appeared in different media numerous times. There is no new discoveries.

That aside, what the documentary portraits is nothing than a living hell. People living in the current peace time will never be able to imagine such inhumane actions would be taken so lightly in war time. Humans had been reduced back to barbarians. War crime is shocking!!!

In addition, this documentary explicitely points to the Japanese Imperial family for their direct involvement in the war crime, especially Emperor Hirohito and his uncle. The documentary accuses Emperor Hirohito being the mastermind behind the instructions/directives of the Japanese invasion and the inhuman treatment of POWs and Chinese civilians.

Every Chinese should watch this documentary, to remind us that if we don't have a strong defence force, that is what you will get in times of war. Under the current financial crisis, and the wealth of the new China, it can't be ruled out that again someone is eyeing China, even at the risk of starting a war, to grap the wealth. And don't forget that the last Great Drepression only ended with a war, prior to that, all the so-called economic policies to save the economy actually failed.

Time to ponder...

Friday, March 6, 2009


Endurance, I always wonder how do people handle unfairness in the work place. Let's say if you are assigned to a low priority department or project. From the start, you know as you are assigned to a low priority project, now matter how you try, the best you can get is just average performance, even if you make a great success in that project. The projection of the project itself has already decided that the best amount of money it can bring in is only so much. Nothing you do will make any change, unless you can change the total value of the market in the whole world.

How do you deal with unfairness such as unfair resource allocation? Unfairness in support? All these unfairness should not be stranger to many, these unfairness is happening in almost every work place. What I want to know is how people actually deal with it, and continue to work happily, living with the unfairness.

I am always very lousy when it comes to deal with such unfairness.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How Low is Low? How Cheap is Cheap?

Somebody admitted that they 'bottom fish' too early, too greedy. Now they are left with a substantial paper loss. Ok, they are the 'experts'. The experts are wrong this time. Not only those experts are wrong, but many many experts are wrong, even Warren Buffet is wrong this time. He made some dumb mistakes, as he admitted in his letter to the shareholders.

How low is low? How cheap is cheap? What do you think the current financial crisis compared to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997/98? Which one do you think is more severe?

Back in 1997/98, US was still enjoying a boom in tech sector. If you walked around Singapore, the shopping centres were jam packed, food courts were jam packed. Very hard to believe there was actually a crisis going on. Then prime minister, Mr Goh, commented on the use of Singapore's reserve as totally unnecessary. Did you remember anyone saying Singapore's economy may contract by 8%, 10%?

This time round, drawing from the reserve is like a 1st resort, not the last resort. Now Senior Minister Mr Goh said if now is not the rainy day, then he doesn't know when is a rainy day. Do you see jam packed shopping centres? Do you see jam packed food courts?

Then you look at the STI, what was the STI during 1997/98? In the range of 800 plus. What is the STI now? Still 1500 plus. It is really not too difficult to figure out there is still plenty of room for STI to fall, the first target should be in the range of 1200~1300. After that, nobody knows, maybe the 97/98 low of 800 plus is a good indication.

How low is low? How cheap is cheap? Mmmmh.....

Disclaimer: For personal entertainment only, no liability in whatsoever form is assumed or born by the authoer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Japanese Part-time Pay

This is an advertisement I saw at a shop in Japan. Basically it is looking for part-timers, the pay is also indicated in the ad. The hourly rate is 1000 yen; for high school students, the hourly rate is 950 yen. Minimum 3 hours per day.

Well, by part-time standard, it is really not too bad. In Singapore, the part-time is more like S$3.50 to S$10.00 per hour (more on the S$3.50 end than the S$10.00 end). 1000 yen is about S$12, which is much higher. By Japanese standard, it is still some good money to be made, especially for a student who just need some pocket money. No wonder Japanese youngsters can afford some funky, trendy stuff.

History Repeats Itself

History repeats itself. In my case, it has repeated at least 3 times, and I fall at the same mistake 3 times. If once is an incident, then 3 times is systematic.

You start a project, and build up the team, then your boss comes to you and say hello, your project is a low priority project. It is setup for fun only and keep you guys busy for a while. Now, I have another high priority project that needs manpower, I will take all your guys away, you project is cancelled. This is what will happen with scenario 1.

Scenario 2 is the boss comes to selectively take away some people, the good ones. You will either be left with the lousy guys, or the vacancies will be replaced with lousy guys. And then if you manage to turn some lousy guys to good guys, then those good guys will be re-assigned to somebody else's project.

Scenario 3 is you bring your whole team to work on other's project. After you do all your best to complete the project, if the project is successful, that project's leader can claim good credit for the work; if something goes wrong, all faults are yours.

Scenario 4 is that someone takes up a new project, enjoys the honey moon period with the customer. Just when the project goes into some actual work, that someone disappears, and leaves all the hard work to you. And worse, that someone makes 'good' decisions to please the customer but he/she him/herself can keep up the promise, you have to deliver the impossible. Typical 'shit-cleaning' work. I work as a janitor!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lighting Setup for a Studio Shoot

I received a message asking me how I did the lighting setup for the above photo. I sketch the setup as below.

I placed a light at 45 degrees to the model at the back on the right as my main light. A second light in the front left, again 45 degrees to the model, as my fill light. The backdrop is a piece of simple black cloth. The output power ratio of the main light to the fill light is 4:1 so that I can have good contrast.

I used a light meter to check the output power of each studio light individually first, then the combined power. The final camera setting is based on the light meter reading plus some on-the-spot adjustment by looking at the preview photo at my Canon 20D. I actually over-exposed the photo by 1/3 ~2/3 stop, and then I brought it back in photoshop, again this was done intentionally to have a bit more contrast.

The lens I used is a Canon 28-135mm zoom lens. I like to use this lens for my studio work as it is very versatile, the optic quality is not bad too.

There is one draw-back of this lighting setup. As the main light is coming from the back, it will easily cause some lens flare, especially when your lens is a bit dirty. For this particular shoot, I had to remove my UV filter to reduce the lens flare.

I hope this short write-up is useful to you :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

At first, I had no intention of watching this movie, as it is a movie about the life of people living in the Mumbai slums. I don't like such movies much, as they are depressing, I always feel very upset after watch such movies.

Then I can't resist my friend's persuasion, I watched it. Actually it is pretty good. I don't feel depressed at all. People living in the slums, they have their worries, hardship, but they also have their way of finding happiness, their way of surviving the hardship. Look back at our own life, it is about the same. We just worry as much as they do, and we experience the same kind of emotions. The only difference may be their living environment is worst, they live in a slum! Our city, to a certain sense, is nothing more than a 'clean' slum :P

The story is interesting, the acting is natural. You don't feel the actors/actresses are actually 'acting', like what you see in all those MediaCorp CMI TV series. There is no self-righteous judgements or criticism. Oh, yes, they did portrait a bit of the stupidity of American & Asian tourists to India :)

This movie is all about India, but you can tell it is not an Indian movie by the distinct difference in that there is no Indian dancing and singing scenes, like what you see in a typical Indian movie.

My rating: 4.5/5

Watch it if you can. Nice movie.

Merlion Struck by Lighting

The icon of Singapore, the Merlion statue at Singapore river, was struck by lighting yesterday between 4-5pm. The statue is damaged with a football-sized hole in it.

Alama, bad omen. The last time the pump in the Merlion malfunctioned and then we got tech bubble burst & 9.11. After that, they moved the Merlion statue from the bad Fengshui location to its current location for better luck, then we got SARS! Now we got a lighting strike, don't know what we are going to get this time. Anyway, whatever will come will come.

The only concern I have is why there is no lighting protection facility installed for the Merlion statue? It is a hot tourist spot, if anything happens, it may cause serious consequences to the tourists flocking to the Merlion, ie. public safety is in danger!

You can read the more detailed report on the lighting strike here.