Archive for the ‘Chatter’ Category

Today’s rich kids

May 10, 2007 2 comments

This is what I saw today at a MacDonald’s during lunch time.

A teenage boy made an order at the counter.  As he was leaving with his order, he dropped his change of 3 10-cents coins.  Being aware of his dropping the coins, he kicked them closer to the wall of the counter, and walked away.  He didn’t bother to pick up his change.  The 30-cents was nothing to him.

It just shows how some kids do not appreciate the value of money, nor how hard their parents have to work to earn the money.  It also shows how some parents are not educating their kids the right things in life.  Maybe one day he will learn the hard way.

So what happened to the 30-cents?  I picked them up after my meal, and put them into the Ronald MacDonald’s Children Charity box.  There are some kids who can benefit from them.

The curse of software programming

May 10, 2007 Leave a comment

This is what I think is the worst curse in software programming.

When you feel that you are close to solving a programming issue, or cruising along towards the solution, you are unable to or find it difficult to pause work and call it a day.

I miss the days when I could just continue working until I solve the issues, or until I’m too tired to think. Married, or with kids will know that obligations to the family calls for a “clock-out” from work for a balanced life.

I don’t advocate overtime or over-worked. But I do miss the satisfactions and triumphs over finishing a piece of work on a single track.

That’s why this is a curse. Torn between the urge to continue over a piece of work and the need to balance your life.

New washing machine

April 19, 2007 4 comments

I had to get a new washing machine.

The old one started to stain clothes with small black oil stains, or huge orange ones. These stains couldn’t be washed or bleached off. I suspected that the seals at the steel drum’s joint to the motor had worn out, hence the occasional oil and grease leak. Thank God that only old T-shirts and some underwear were stained! I’ll be so sad if one of my business shirts were stained.

So now I’m poorer. I settled for the Panasonic NA-V80 model. It’s the one with a 45-degree tilted drum for water saving purposes. There’s a dryer capability in it that uses an inverter, so it supposed to be electricity saving; and doesn’t need an air-exhaust. Mrs wanted the dryer for the long and wet monsoon seasons in Singapore when clothes won’t dry.

I have already tried it, and it uses so little water! I was worried that it wouldn’t wash the clothes clean, but it looked alright. Due to the low amount of water used, the detergent was cut down too. Now I can foresee my detergent lasting double the washes.

Oh well, the old one was more than 10 years old, and we are one step closer to environmental care. Consolations for the pain in the wallet. 🙂


Ok, by special request, here’s a picture of the washing machine.


Product Description, if you are interested. 🙂

Categories: Chatter, Panasonic, Review

My singing tea cup

March 30, 2007 Leave a comment

In my recent trip to China, I bought a tea cup with a removable tea leaves well.   It can allow tea leaves to be soaked in hot water within the well, and the well can be lifted out when the tea is ready to drink.  This tea cup was supposed to have been made in China’s Yi Xing (宜興) and made of fine purple clay (紫沙).

I just realized an interesting phenomenon  with my tea cup.  After pouring hot boiled water into it, it started to sing in a low-volume, celestial-kind, high-pitched song!  Almost like a solar wind passing through kind of tune.

My first guess was that the porous clay could have created the sound with air trapped in it, but I didn’t see small bubbles lining the walls of the cup, and bubbles usually give a bubbling sound.  My second guess was that the air trapped in the porous clay was expanding and escaping from somewhere else, instead of bubbling, hence creating a sort of whistling tune.  What’s your guess?

I’m starting to love my tea cup. 🙂

Categories: Chatter, Funny

After 3 days of Mio

March 22, 2007 2 comments

Here’s what I have found out so far.

Network bandwidth is good. Video streaming is still smooth. I haven’t encounter a hiccup yet.

The loopback for the phone line sucks. The loopback allows you to connect your phone to any phone wall-socket in your house. As it goes through the DSL/HPNA micro-filter, when you connect your phone to a wall-socket, you can hear the interference from the DSL/HPNA. The interference was bad enough to cause the Mio to not understand the phone dialing. So no calls could be made. The phone works best through a direct connection to Mio.

Mio has a firewall. Lots of presets for games, so you could just scroll down the list and enable your selected game traffic through. No logs though, so you can’t see who’s trying to screw you.

Wireless is set to default WEP-Open for encryption. That needs to be changed, because WEP is not secure enough.

Wireless can be disabled! That’s something that most wireless modem doesn’t provide. The need to disable is there if you are not using it. Surely, less microwaves, it’s good. Chances are higher that you won’t get sterile.

I found out what the USB connection is for. It’s another way for you to connect a computer to the Internet.

The gateway’s password is not set by default. So remember to set it! Otherwise with the weak WEP encryption, the wireless SID being broadcast, and the DHCP server dishing out IP addresses to anyone, someone could hook into your network and mess you up.

So after 3 days of Mio, I am still satisified, and a little disappointed with the loopback issue.

Categories: Chatter, Review, Singtel

I got my Mio!

March 20, 2007 6 comments

Yes! It’s finally here! My Mio has just been installed, after a wait of 3 weeks. The demand is so great that the queue to get it installed took so long.

You can get all the pictures at Singtel’s website.

So far it seems to be faster. My streaming of YouTube has not chocked, or hiccuped yet.

I’ll just tell you what was not covered in Singtel’s website.

It has:

  • 4 ethernet ports at the back. So you do not need a switch anymore. Ok, it has wireless too. So you do not need a wireless switch anymore. One less equipment to power up.
  • All kinds of extensions. Sorry, I got excited.  There are ethernet sockets, phone-in socket, phone-out socket, and USB socket.  If you need something to connect to your switch, the technician is very kind to entertain you. Or extra phone, or loop back to your house’s phone sockets, he’s able to help you.
  • There’s also a USB socket. I don’t know what it’s for yet. Hmm… I just realised that there’s no manual!
  • Telephone out socket. Just like the old ADSL modems.
  • Male version. Yeah, there’s a black and white Mio. The white Mio, featured in Singtel’s commercials as a smarty-pants push-over bitch, is the female version. I’m glad I got the male version.

I’m happy so far. I hope the Internet doesn’t get bogged down at night, like it used to when I had the Starhub connection.

Categories: Chatter, Review, Service

Back from China

March 7, 2007 1 comment

A very happy chinese new year to you too!  Especially to those of you whom messaged me while I was in China.

Yes, the trip was a safe and sound one.  Thanks for your prayers!

When we touched down in Nanjing, the first thing that hit us was the cold.  Thank God that we brought warm clothing with us, even though my in-laws told us that the weather was turning warm.  Apparently it turned cold again with those grey-skies-and-light-drizzles kind of weather.

Nanjing airport seems big.  From the air-bridge to the customs, we had to walk about 10 minutes.  You’ll be amazed to know that there are only 2 baggage carousels and your baggage will take 30 minutes to appear.  Ours was the only plane that landed at that time.

Onwards to Yangzhou.  My wife told me to wait aside while she negotiated fares with the taxi drivers.  She said that I’m too obvious as a foreigner and will mess up the negotiations.  So I told way aside from her negotiations, and she returned triumphantly with a rate for 360RMB straight to Yangzhou.  So we boarded the taxi and onwards to Yangzhou… not!  Along the way, I whispered to my wife… seems like it’s heading towards to Nanjing.  My wife didn’t know any better.  She’s bad with directions.  I was right.  The taxi driver took us into Nanjing, told us that it was along the way, stopped at a major bus station and searched for another driver that was heading towards Yangzhou.

So we switched vehicles somewhere in Nanjing.  My wife still didn’t know where.  Fortunately the second driver was a Yangzhou local, and my wife struck up a conversation with him.  He said that the taxi driver could never earn money from the 360RMB, it was too cheap.  It is possible for him because he was heading back to Yangzhou anyway.  In the end, for an extra 20RMB, he drove us all the way to our doorstep.  That wasn’t so bad after all.

Chinese New Year celebrations in a remote village in China is interesting.  They just won’t stop firing off crackers and fireworks.  Major fire crackers sessions fall on the first, the fifth, and if I understood the Yangzhou dialect correctly, on the twelve day of the first lunar month.  At night, they fire off fireworks.  You know those mega ones that you see at fireworks displays?  Those were the kinds that they fire.  They used those for birthday celebrations too, so I wasn’t sure if they fired them for the new year, or for their birthdays.  If it was for their birthdays, there were lots born around the Chinese New Year in that village then.

Visitations just won’t stop.  It goes on and on.  Neighbors and relatives dropped by.  It was definitely different from Singapore.  No wonder they need 15 days for the celebration!  I didn’t know most of them well, and my stupid grin was starting to freeze in the cold temperature.

My father-in-law, a vet, is now into rearing pigs.  I promised you that I’ll take a picture of a pig humping on a wooden bench.  I had an opportunity and took a picture.  I’ll put it up once I am able to.

My mum wanted me to buy some of China’s famous Wu Liang Yi (五糧液).  On a trip to Yangzhou city, we were fortunate to stumble across a shop operated by the company that manufactures this liquor.  We went in and asked for this Wu Liang Yi.  Yes, they do have stock for 56% and 68% in alcohol content.  No, they ran out of stock for the 38%.  What do you want it for, asked the sales lady.  I’m now sure that her intention was to determine what the occasion the liquor was intended for, because most people will buy this liquor as a gift.  When I replied that my mum wanted to use it for making herbal wine, her eyes popped and pursed her lips rapidly when she realised that your mouth was dropping open.  But alas, that was the truth.  I would like to assure everyone that my mum changed her mind after she learned how expensive that liquor was.

On the way back, we hired the same driver that drove us to Yangzhou.  This time round, he had a problem with the clutch pressure.  We detoured to a mechanical shop when we reached Yangzhou city.  The driver scolded the mechanic.  Apparently it wasn’t a new problem.  After repairs, we were on our way again.  As we neared Nanjing, the same problem came back.  After filling up the oil reservoir for the clutch system, it leaked empty again.  The driver drove and called the mechanic to curse him.  He said that he couldn’t stop, else he would have problems to engage gears to start the car again.  So he just drove on and on, and tried not stop as we approached traffic lights.  He managed to bring us some 6km away from our final destination, and with apologies, helped us onto a city taxi.

We spent a night in Nanjing, because the flight was at noon.  We didn’t want to rush from Yangzhou.  We wouldn’t have made it if we had technical problems like that.  So the rest of the day was spent at Fu Zhi Temple ( 父子廟 ), already a very touristy place.

When we touched down in Singapore, we lost our salted pork at the customs.  My wife who was carrying the box that contained the pork that was laboriously prepared by my mother-in-law, was stopped by a hawk-eyed customs officer.  No pork allowed (now you know!).  It was a dumped into a bin.  For your information, chicken and duck are not allowed either.  My mother-in-law is still sore over the loss of the pork.  I didn’t feel so bad, for I had a taste of it while I was in China.  It was very good, but I guess if I didn’t go through all the effort to prepare it, I won’t feel the pain as badly.

It was a good trip, with lots of experiences.  It’s also good to be back in Singapore.  The cold was too much for me.

Categories: Chatter, Vacation

Off to China for the Chinese New Year

February 16, 2007 2 comments

Mrs and I will be flying off to China today at 7am for the Chinese New Year!  That’s why I’m writing at this hour.  Packing up the last few items, and sealing up the house.  We have to be at the airport at 5am.

Even though I was in China for 2 years, this is my first CNY in China.  While I was there, CNY was a time to fly back to Singapore and nurse that home-sickness.  It was also a good time to fly off from work due to the week-long holidays imposed by the Chinese.

So this year, I will be braving with the millions that are moving home to spend this time with their families.  Please pray for a smooth journey for us!  Until then, God bless you too! 🙂

Categories: Chatter

Buying a monitor in Sim Lim Square

February 8, 2007 Leave a comment

A few days ago, we were at Sim Lim Square shopping for a 20″ monitor. Here’s an example of how not to sell a product.

Most of the shops were displaying (still are) their range of monitors, connected to a single PC with the video signal distributed through a switch. Surely, you’ll know that this method is unable to support all the monitors in their native mode. If PC’s video is configured to support a 17″ monitor with 1024 x 768 resolution, then that same resolution will be used for a 20″ monitor with a maximum resolution of 1680 x 1050. The result is that the 20″ monitor is displayed with thick and crude graphics, and not in its native mode.

So I asked if they could display the 20″ monitor in its native mode. ALL of them said no. The reason was that their PC could not support higher a resolution higher than 1024 x 768.

Alright then, how about if we bring our own laptops to test out the monitors?

So we brought our laptops down to try. Only 2 vendors were willing to let us try with our MacBooks, but the problem was both of them didn’t have a DVI cable. At least they managed to borrow one.

There was this young chap that I remembered who insisted that he didn’t have a DVI cable and went into a speech about how they cannot open up new boxes just with the intention to test the displayed monitors. “Like that how to sell the monitors with the opened boxes!”, he said. We didn’t ask him to do that, but mentioned that he could borrow it from somewhere else, like the rest did.

Kudos went to the young lady promoter for Philips monitor. She brought us to her display area and made all the arrangements for us to test out the Philips monitor. We almost bought the Philips monitor, until she brought us back to the dealer who can’t sell an opened box.

In the end, we bought a Dell 2007WFP monitor on the Internet. So far, I’m very pleased with it. The monitor has 3 USB, DVI, VGA, S-Video, Video and audio inputs. The display is bright and cripsy. My MacBook recognises it immediately, and the monitor responds to the MacBook. The monitor’s control buttons are nicely arranged on the bottom right of the screen, making it look quite professional.  Here’s a picture of it:


Therefore, if anyone wants to sell something, put your heart into it.  Otherwise, don’t bother.

Categories: Chatter, Singapore

My mum, the Qi Gong Master II

February 5, 2007 2 comments

After the first session of tui-na (Chinese massage) and qi-gong (Chinese’s understanding of life force), the subsequent sessions weren’t so bad anymore.  The bruises were restricted to isolated areas.

The sessions were definitely beneficial, for I no longer have chest constrictions and I feel a lot healthier nowadays.  I am also certain that the regular jogs are helping.  But how I hate jogging.  After a week of jogging, my muscles ache and feel the fatigue.  On a weekend, I will go through a session of tui-na and qi-gong, after which I’ll spring back with vigor and go through another week of gruelling jogs.

If you are not feeling so well, I would recommend giving my mum’s tui-na and qi-gong session a try.

Categories: Chatter