Monday, February 29, 2016

Robots replacing the white collars

Read this NYT article which was also printed in our Sunday Times over the weekend.

And saw this in my email this morning. So what is the plot? It is in the next picture.

Preparing our kids of new jobs. To be able to talk to and instruct a computer will become basic and likely there will be a severe shortage of such people around.

and are they changing the way they do things? Because what they wanted to do but was impractical has now become possible and will give them a leg up against their competitors. It is not a matter of doing the same faster and more reliably. It is doing a differently and better.

This is the outcome of the changes that is ongoing in the workplace: a very small number of high-paying jobs destroying a very large number of fairly high-paying jobs. Even Warren Buffett in his latest chairman's letter is openly worrying about this trend. This problem cannot be dealt with without strengthening social safety nets.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Another way to lose a million in currency trading

When I browsed through this article I discover it is the same old thing. Yet another way to lose a lot of money whilst trying to guide you away from losing a lot of money.

Many of the important lessons cannot be taught but must be caught. Additionally you need to personalize this for yourself as well i.e., nobody can teach you these bits. So what does it mean? You have to learn by failing at least a little. Controlling your losses and learning your lessons is the practical way to go. And for the vast majority of people the risk of huge, even catastrophic losses is never theoretical.

Someone left me a comment a few days ago if I do futures trading which he/she is doing full time. I can't find his comment now to reply. Well my approach is thematic and not product focused. As one cannot be equally familiar with all products there is considerable risk with this approach as well and usually the best way is to keep things simple. In other words I am not a day or technical trader.

iwannagohome and having money

We have never bought a thing from them before. Always passed by them as we enter Cold Storage at Parkway Parade but never browsed what they have. The only thing that fascinated us was simply, iwanngohome. That is exactly what the children loved. Each time I had pointed out their sign and asked if the kids were hoping that we could go home soon.

Because they aren't shoppers they have a healthy bank balance. Many of their friends are perpetually broke.

Marriage Equality Grows, and So Does Class Divide

A telling chart from the NYT article I just read.

The story goes on to explain why but one must always appreciate that for a news article of this sort there is often insufficient data to make a reliable story. Inference and speculation are all stirred in the the pot and served to readers.

Marriage somehow depress the earnings of women. Speculating why is irresistible because we live it we deem to know it. What we don't know is the picture when the data are aggregated.

Perhaps we are already living the consequences of this chart picture i.e., people are marrying late or not at all. If married they prefer to have no kids. It would be more interesting if the chart had also a path for married couples with kids. My guess is this third line would lie below the two shown.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

USD 4.53 earphone

Ordered on eBay this tear drop shape bluetooth earphone on Feb 5, arrives today.

Cost? Only USD 4.53 and the sound quality was quite good!

Can't tell how durable it would be but look at the price!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Policy Making: Need skin in the game

Form a high level committee with many subcommittees reporting to it. Collect feedback and then come up with strategies. We have used this approach for as long as I can remember. LKY SPP Adrian Kuah pointed out that such an approach may no longer be as effective as before. I tend to agree with him but not his idealistic approach of getting the ground to surface solutions. To me the crowd doesn't even have a radar to see over the horizon. This is not the wisdom of the crowd problem which you ask them to guess how many marbles there are in a glass bottle.

This article had helped me focus my thought toward one conclusion. This government will not change its approach without learning that it doesn't work the hard way. In other words the hardship would be on the people. I think structurally it is vital that policy makers must have skin in the game. They must suffer the pain of failure sooner than us otherwise we would all learn lessons the painful way.

Update: 11am

These property developers used not to have skin in the game. Like the government they could play heads they win, tails we lose. Not any more since Khaw as previous MND minister subject them to market discipline.

Now they are crying for help and asking for assistance. Their leverage as usual is to play the "too big to fail" game with the authorities if they could. In this way they could get what they want, a real moral hazard for us. Egregiously the PAP also play the same game with us as well. That is why they are falling short on accountability.

Dengue coming close to us

This is very bad especially when I found out that the daughter's school is part of a dengue cluster with most of the cases reported in the last two weeks, i.e., it could be worse and easily tipped over into the red zone.

The folks living next door in the condo have been careless to give the Aedes a chance to reproduce there.

Insect repellent must be selling very well! She and her classmates are wearing that to school every day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mom: Thirteen years already

Thirteen years ago my mom passed away.

Sometime last year I found the missing orchids photo I took with my second generation Sony Mavica which amazingly was equipped with Carl Zeiss lens. I can't remember but I must have shown this photo to my mom. She loved flowers and when we were less well to do especially orchids because they out last nearly all other flowers.

SG50 last year had a wonderful display of orchids at the Gardens by the Bay. She would have loved to be there.

Sinking car rescue: Not there yet

This reminds us the tragic accident outside Valley Point mall which a mom and daughter inexplicably drove their car into the canal and drowned.

Today Online brought us a similar story with an ending that could not be more different. Reminds us that we are not there yet except that I could easily imagine my brother and brother in law would most likely have took the plunge to save them were they there.

See the video. These days everything is on video!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Car video cam is here

Ordered this car video camera with eBay for about USD 22 at the end of last month and it arrives today.

Cheap but the built quality is not fantastic. It should do its job like the previous one. I would be happy if it is good for between one to two years. This one has several additional functions, a superior interface and wider capture angle than the old one.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The future of Singapore's Otters

The family of five have now become a troop of ten according to an article by Mothership.

I wonder what might happen if they could they become hundreds or even thousands of them?

I think people responsible for this need to be more far seeing and do some homework about this isn't it?

Think about the possibilities of human-animal conflicts.

I have no time to study this further. Hopefully the ecosystem is able to manage their numbers but being hopeful is not good enough. Most busy folks like me would only react when the problem is at our doorstep. You do your job and I do mine or else this place cannot function. Now I wonder who is looking into this.

Bits of history we missed

I would love to but have no time to go for such interesting talks. What struck me about this and this is happening with increasing frequency is how ignorant I am. We read curated history made popular in paperbacks, got the broad strokes but there are many less well known and even almost forgotten facts we have missed. This is the latest of a countless stream that will come which  I had bumped into.

I quote from what NLB sent us,

From 1565 to 1815, galleon ships routinely made Trans-Pacific roundtrip voyages, carrying American silver (mined in Mexico and Peru) to Manila. There, the largely Hokkien traders and settlers in the Parián, Manila's Chinatown, acted as intermediaries in the trade of American silver for Chinese silk, porcelain, spices and other precious commodities from the larger Indian Ocean and Nanyang world.  Chinese and other Asian goods also made their way from Mexico across the Atlantic to Spain and Europe. 

Join Dr. Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History, American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University, USA, as she shares the critical role of the Parián in the establishment of the global trading system.

As I think about the TPP, this is a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.

Uncertainty in US national elections

I have been waiting for a very long time for tidal voters backlash to a dysfunctional and self serving Washington DC. Looks like it has arrived! The only thing I knew was this would come before they could do anything substantial about gun ownership.

Hillary Clinton should consider herself fortunate that it has arrived at this point. She gets her wake up call here.

No more theater for any of us outside America. The race is getting scary. More people should understand why this story made it to the front page today.

Well in the end it is the uncertainty that is frightening us isn't it? Whoever occupies the White House will as usual discover his or her hands are tied but this is untrue in matters of foreign policy and security, i.e., the impact on folks like us. However everyone in the House and on the Hill must not underestimate how angry the voters have become. Change will come better late than never.

Bought the cheapo HP Stream 13

Paid $271 ($289 - $17 from funny money; also comes with Office 365, McAffee and a 5,200 mAh powerbank) for the HP Stream 13 at Popular yesterday. I have never gotten a PC at such a low price! There was a time when a reasonable machine cost at least 3K. I still remember my IPC 80386 laptop which I paid 3.4K for. I paid between $900 to $1000 for Acer i7 about four years ago. It is working very well except for the power supply which kaput several months back. Fortunately I could cannibalized an old power unit as replacement. It works despite being a little under powered. I think it would just charge up the Li battery (still working!) more slowly. That is the love the machine gives back when you take very very good care of it. But I didn't know how to care for its power supply.

Saw this in the paper yesterday, it is ten times more expensive than my cheapo. To be fair this is an i7 machine but to be practical I no longer need such a powerful work horse. No more app development or intensive graphic work for me.

Meanwhile I have not figured out how to concurrently use my Acer i7 and this new HP Stream 13. Perhaps I shouldn't have bought this HP Stream eh? But it has several usability advantages which the Acer cannot offer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

CNY 2016

Lovely temperatures this CNY from the eve to this morning which I hope will last throughout the day.
Made it a point to drop by here yesterday for lunch. We have not come here for many years. Used to come here after CNY visits with my late father.

We would have liked to be here first thing in the morning as it gets crowded later in the day. Perhaps next year we return to our practice.

Some of the dahlias used in the Flower Conservatory were grown at the Hort Park. We happened to make a brief visit on the Eve of CNY.

Update: Feb 11 12pm

This is the fourth day of the New Year, the beautiful weather lasted longer than we expected :-) Simply wonderful.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quantitative Easing coming to Singapore?

LOL! What was I expecting from all my friends in this year of the monkey. All sorts of funnies.

But this is what others are doing: Quantitative Easing.

Front page: IT talent shortage

Must be surprising to most ST readers that a story like this makes the front page today. This is actually a very serious matter.

My perspective is that things are so fast now that you cannot plan and train the people you need. This is a huge problem as it means we will have to rely on the global pool of human resource.

It would be wonderful if planners could anticipate or manpower needs but we have never really succeeded here and looks like it has not gotten better. Therefore the brutal but realistic approach is talent mobility except that I don't think tiny Singapore can survive this because we would have too many foreigners here and at the same time many of us would be living and working elsewhere.

Why are we still using decades old methods to determine manpower needs? This is not serving us well at all. What is the use of being top ranked in education metrics when we are not meeting such basic needs? But are we prepared to be bold and revolutionary when present approaches are not working well.

Inside the ST today is another manpower story. This one is about not having enough doctors and bringing locals who had gone overseas to obtain their medical qualifications.

Computer reading glasses

Turned my very old pair of spectacles into my computer glasses on Saturday. Cost me $80 with Crizal lens at the neighborhood optician.

Gold is amazing. It never tarnishes, all my other spectacles have aged but not this one.

Friday, February 5, 2016

MWS: Poverty Simulation

I first came across this in TODAY and Mothership picked it up as well.

What do I think? It is not important since I am only blogging for myself.

I think for too many participants this will give them a false sense of knowing what it is like to be poor. Short of living it yourself, great art and literature especially the latter is what transport us into their realm.

Sorry, to me this is mostly gimmick and I applaud some SICC members for calling it out as such albeit with more political correctness.

Update: Feb 7 7:55 am

My elder daughter pointed out this article on AsiaOne to me early this morning.

MP Tin Pei Ling put it across very diplomatically, a reminder to me that how politics have changed. It was inevitable that our leaders will often play "customer service" these days. A more confident leader will have left us some more memorable sound bite which would go viral and some character values that is good for us.

That was how TNP reported her,

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling also saw the programme as a "fresh idea".
"I am glad Singaporeans care for one another, though I would also encourage more people to volunteer with VWOs (voluntary welfare organisations) or the community to have a better and more rounded understanding of how being poor is like in Singapore," she told TNP yesterday.
But for someone who has earned her right to speak candidly, this is the unvarnished version. Madam Fion Phua, 45, founder of volunteer group Keeping Hope Alive

Madam Phua urged those who are sincere to help the needy to put kindness and compassion into action and not role-play it. "Do you think acting like a man who has lost his arms by tying yours behind your back for 24 hours is going to help? 

I told my daughter I completely agree with Fion Phua. I even reminded her years back when she was in primary school they had set up a stall in the canteen to sell some home made jewelry, I told her to ignore what some of the parents and teachers said about entrepreneurship. It was just for fun and she had learned next to nothing about selling, much less entrepreneurship.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Benjamin Lim's death: Trust in Police damaged

I wanted to write about this last night but was too upset to find the words. So many thoughts ran through my mind and much of it is best not published. Today I decided I shall write this for my kids. I will pass on my attitude towards the police to them.

I was thirteen years old and only a few months in secondary one and not to familiar with how to get around because primary school was just beside my house. So one day I got lost along Tanglin Road and desperate I flagged down a Police patrol car for help. The two officers were very nice and took me in their car to find the place and sent me there, which was actually nearby.

Sadly over the years especially from around the turn of the century my view of the police worsen over time from my encounters with them, watching how they work and especially from my friends in the press.

I like to think the police officers of my youth would have treated Benjamin Lim with more sense. The police officers rarely made mistakes then, at least from the many occasions I have to complete paperwork with them. My last time engaging with them was totally frustrating. That was in 2010. My dad had just passed away in SGH. I went across the road to the Cantonment Complex to obtain a death certificate which the undertaker needed. To cut a long story short and with the help of computers the two careless officers printed me a death certificate with no serial number. I didn't realize until at 3am in the morning the kindly undertaker explained to me the document was unusable. I had to double back to the Cantonment Complex to get it fixed. On hindsight I should have known better and be more meticulous with their work as by then I had already heard too many bad stories about them. It didn't help that the Police I was told had been starved of officers, i.e., they were generally over worked.

My point to my children is very simple, don't trust the Police too easily. Stand your ground with them regardless, they are not above the law themselves. If you must trust, verify first. If they try to intimidate you record what is going on with your phones. I feared Benjamin's parents might have made the mistake of trusting the Police too much and paid the most tragic price.

The stories in the media on what had happened is noteworthy for much missing information and desperately trying to paint a better picture of the Police. The ball is in their court to show that they are professionals and deserving of the trust I used to have for them.

Update: 4:20 pm

Just spotted and read this, an open letter by Benjamin Lim's father which he submitted to TOC. No surprise such a latter didn't appear in the mainstream media eh?

Link to the letter at TOC.

Update: Feb 8 5:55am

We cannot turn back the clock, still what we need is time.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reading glasses @ $2.05 each

These reading glasses are incredible value if you buy them from the local distributor Valu$ store. They are only $2.05 each.

I bought my first two at Sim Lim Square for $5 each and I thought they were great value. Now this is reminiscent of buying souvenirs in China. You thought you had great value only to discover you could have gotten a better price.