“Respect Explorer’s Heritage” | TechCrunch

September 1st, 2011

I was literally laughing my lungs out at this mockup interface. This should go on the fail blog!

I know of so many companies that did not do the upgrade from Microsoft Office 2003 to 2007 due to this same interface that made it so difficult for people to use as they had to relearn all the shortcuts and menu system.

Now, Windows explorer too?! Not to mention that this does nothing for enhancing the user experience and making it more user friendly.

Take a cue, M$, take a cue…

Original post at garry blogs

Where Tony Tan learnt his Chinese…

August 26th, 2011

’nuff said.

Original post at garry blogs

Thoughts on the Presidential Election 2011

August 26th, 2011

I was thinking to write down a note comparing the different candidates, and also to find a reason for my final choice of who I am going to vote for.


Tony Tan - Being a PAP stalwart for years, it is obvious to everyone (except the truly thick) that this is the PAP man. Why else would so many unions fall in line to endorse him. For most parts none of the unions have more than a few thousand members. These are unions which are impotent to begin with. I guess the only good reason to endorse Tony Tan is to bolster their leaders in the eyes of the PAP leadership. (yea, sycophant is the word that comes to mind).


But this is not the reason not to vote for Tony Tan. The following are the reasons why you should consider not voting for him.


a) There is an incredible being dredged up by the anti-PAP brigade online. I am not sure how much of that is true, but some of those non-disputed facts are indeed startling.

  • 12-years deferment, 
  • a Research Medical Scientist vocation which no one has heard of, and probably no one else has this vocation otherwise the person would have surfaced by now, 
  • the rationale given to explain this was that soil disease was plaguing the SAF. If this is such a problem, why would the SAF trust it to an A level about to study his undergraduate studies. Are there no other medical doctors or bacteria experts in Singapore, or even overseas? This is such a lousy reason, i wonder why they bother to offer this as a reason. 

so why is Tony not answering these questions and giving more details. Short of a full explanation for the above, one would hazard that there is nothing better to give to explain the lingering questions. Putting out a joint statement saying that they have complied with regulations and procedures is not helping, because it does not address why the circumstances are so special and why this procedure is so rarely applied for other NSman.


b) during a Q&A session shown online, Tony Tan interrupted Tan Jee Say to warn him about the need to back up his statements. This is an impromptu burst of emotion and belies what irks Tony Tan so much that he has to step up of line to stop Tan Jee Say from replying the interviewer’s question. This topic clearly riles Tony Tan and he is unusually defensive on the issue of the ISA and the Marxist conspiracy. This topic suggests that because he was in the cabinet before, he can never be truly independent.


On a side note, his comparison of Norway race-hate crimes to terrorists, to Marxists and to the need for ISA is troubling. It reminded me of the WMD reason cited by US lawmakers for invading Iraq. But where is the WMD? Even up to today, Mas Selamat is not charged in a court of law, despite the fact that those who harboured him have been charged and sentenced. But I digress. The fact that he is pulling this reason for ISA means that this man is still toeing the party line and is clutching at straws to support a untenable position on the Marxist arrests.


c) the reasons that Tony Tan has cited for his throwing in the gauntlet and joining in the race is that dark economic clouds are looming and Singaporeans are up for a rough time ahead. This one although an apparently plausible sound bites, is a hollow reason. If there are dark economic clouds ahead, why would the deputy chairman and executive director of the government investment arm, GIC stop doing what he knows best to manage this huge investment portfolio to perform a largely ceremonial role.


Tan Jee Say

- Tan Jee Say suffers from the fact that he is so closely affiliated with the opposition and SDP, having just contested in the General Election just a few months ago. He draws his support from the core group of 40% of Singapore voters who have voted for the opposition. Because of this he brings the vibes from this group, which generally has lots of complaints about the PAP government. I am not saying that this is bad, but this is not appropriate for the position of the Elected President. The President, in my view, should be above the usual political fracas of the day.

- The biggest strength of Tan Jee Say is that he brings a lot of interesting and new ideas for governing Singapore and in managing the economy. But this is a strength for a parliamentarian. He is still an activist at heart, and he seems ready to egged the country to his vision. This trait is good for a MP, again not a President.

- Because Tan Jee Say is the youngest candidate, he has a lot of the energy and verve of someone younger. This is good and he is energetic. However, because of the way he speaks, especially when speaking off-the-cuff, he comes across as combative and aggressive. And dare I say it, not very presidential.



Tan Kin Lian

- What impresses me most about Tan Kin Lian is his willingness to step forward when the minibonds saga hit. He rallied the people who have lost money. He helped the folks who put in money when they were clearly incapable of understanding the exotic financial products. He spoke when no one did. He took action when all the parliamentarians folded their arms. And for this, I respect this man.

- But he is not the choice of president I will choose.

- I will not cast my vote for him because he has demonstrated reluctance in confirming his candidacy. Before he finally announced his candidacy, he was fishing for support from the general public although he has already garnered Goh Meng Seng’s strong support. Even up to nomination day, we are still given the impression that he may pull out or the support from his family is less than 100% on his candicacy.

- I also object to the fact that he has put up mobile phone apps which purport to help ‘predict’ 4D results. I am not personally against gambling, but I do not see how this frivolous project can be fitting of a future president.

- He also has the presence, bearing, mannerism and speech which is least presidential of all the candidates. He does not come across as a person with natural charisma. To be fair to Tan Kin Lian, this is also not apparent in the incumbent (but that is another story for another day)



Which brings me to why I will cast my vote for Tan Cheng Bock:

- Dr Tan Cheng Bock is a MP for many years. Although he is from the PAP cut of the cloth, he is often cited as the most rebellious or most vocal critic of the government within the parliament. He has crossed swords with Richard Hu and also has been chatised by the cabinet for his views. But this only shows that he is a man with his own mind and will speak up. If there is a parallel PAP MP like Tan Cheng Bock, the person would be Lily Neo. Tan Cheng Bock speaks up for the common man.

- Dr Tan Cheng Bock has been supported by a lot of people from his constituency. The fact he has left parliament for some time now, and was never part of the cabinet, and yet he is able to garner so much ground support, means that this man must have touched a lot of hearts and people when he was MP.

- There are a lot of stories of how he refused to charge for seeing patients who are poor when he was a Ah Ma Keng doctor. And how he choose to work in the poorer and rural parts of Singapore. This seems to be a trait which has surfaced for a long time.

- Of particular interest to me was when he went public as to why he resigned from the board of directors of the Ng Teng Fong hospital. He made it clear (and in my mind rightly so), that we cannot have a society where we name a public hospital after a philanthropist just because some one throws some money in the way of the government to have his father’s name as part of the hospital’s name. Especially when NTF has himself not been associated with hospitals or healthcare in general in Singapore.

- He has championed for a Singaporean first mentality. And I think this is important, because he shows that he has figured out the frustration of most Singaporeans. The frustration that we as a nation are too caught up with KPIs and GDP growth, and yet focuses so little on the weakest members of society or on the implications of income gap widening.



This doctor, I think, has his mind and more importantly his heart in the right place. And for that, I will cast my vote for Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

Saw a good post by Tan Wee Liat, thought I would repost it for more readership as i fully agree and support his points.

Original post at garry blogs

Day 1 of the South Beach diet

August 22nd, 2011
In my quest to eat healthier, I got started on the South Beach diet today. I order my daily dose of food from magicmealsmobile.com, which serves 3 different diets. I chose the South Beach because it was designed to be heart healthy! So I thought I'd give it a shot. 

I'll be on South Beach phase 1 (read more at http://www.southbeachdiet.com/sbd/publicsite/how-it-works/how-it-works.aspx) for 2 weeks.

Today's (22 Aug 2011) menu:
  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg with asparagus, chicken chipolatas and spinach
  • Lunch: Tuna tataki salad with wasabi mayo dessing
  • Tea: Egg Mayo salad
  • Dinner: Roast beef with peppers and mushroom sauce with broccoli
  • Supper: Greek yoghurt
Tomorrow's (23 Aug 2011) menu, which just got delivered to my door about an hour ago as i reached home from work
  • Breakfast: Cheese omelette, veal sausage with cabbage
  • Lunch: Roast chicken salad with pesto dressing
  • Tea: Mixed beans and ham salad
  • Dinner: Baked cod fillet tomato sauce and kai lan
  • Supper: Panna cotta
Looks good? Sounds good! Doesn't look very good, coz it comes packaged in microwavable containers, lah. No nice white plates and nice plating of the food, duh.

However, to be fair and honest, it tastes pretty decent. First impressions were not that good but the food tasted fresh and well-prepared, which is definitely a plus. I'm looking forward to try the food tomorrow and I'll let you guys know how it goes at the end of the week.

Original post at garry blogs

Live life!

June 23rd, 2011

Something worth sharing. I’ve printed this out for my wall!

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Original post at garry blogs

Sick and tried of poorly designed IT products!

September 28th, 2010
I’m really frustrated with some of the 3rd party tools we use here. Sooooo ridiculously feature-packed and difficult to use!! The designer should be shot! Just because the end user (us) is not your customer (the bank), these guys just dump all the functionality in so that they can say “Yes we can do everything!” without appending “… After tearing out all your hair”.

In fact, after working in PSA IT for 3.7 years, it’s interesting to note that the only product I’m proud of producing during this time isn’t a PSA product - it’s StanChart Breeze, the best Internet banking experience in Singapore - now LIVE! http://bit.ly/aLpxI7. This product focuses on the overall user-centric experience of getting things done. The PSA products all focus on functionality because no one believes enough in HCI (human computer interface) to bother to hire any skill in that area. Backward, but I guess that’s the way non-consumer facing companies are. Some B2B 3rd party products we use in the banks are also similar; they remind me of the PSA apps we worked on - so ridiculously hard to use and clunky. Result - we use alternative means to get the job done coz everyone hates using them (unless you have none, like the poor PSA control room guys, then you just get used to it by hook or crook).

Why is it so hard to acknowledge the importance of HCI in system design? A good interface is 50% of battle won. This should be a compulsory course in IT school!

Original post at garry blogs

My Japanese (mainly Hokkaido) itinerary

September 2nd, 2010
Be warned - this is quite a rushed itinerary.

Day 1

Arrival in Tokyo at 9am. Activate 14-day rail pass. Travel to Kamakura, dump luggages at the JR rail station and pending the day exploring Kamakura. Overnight in Tokyo.

Day 2

Day trip to Nikko, one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Overnite in Tokyo/Sendai/Hiraizumi.

Day 3

Early morning, take train to Hiraizumi (depending on where you are staying - we stayed in Tokyo to minimize movement) and explore Chuson-ji. Back to Sendai to and spend late afternoon and evening, then overnight.

Day 4

Take train to Matsushima Bay for bay cruise and explore Matsushima, then spend afternoon and evening exploring Sendai again. Overnite train to Hakodate.

Day 5

Quick 3-hr visit to Hakodate’s morning market (superb super-fresh seafood!!) and then train to Shikotsu-Toya NP. Visit Mt Usu and Mt Usu-Shinzan, the volcano museum, the biggest onsen in Japan, then evening train to Asahikawa via Sapporo. Overnight in Asahikawa in the city’s oldest ryokan.

Day 6

Day trip to Daisetsuzan NP. We climbed Hokkaido’s highest peak, Mt Asahi, or Asahi-dake. Overnite in Asahikawa. Try the Asahikawa ramen! there’s a ramen village and a famous ramen shop, Ichikura, is open till 4am.

Day 7

Morning trip to Furano. There’s a cheese factory, farm tomita is a must to try the super nice melons, lavender ice cream and see the rainbow-colored fields of flowers. In the late afternoon, take the train to Wakkanai and overnight here.

Day 8 & 9

Take the first ferry to Rebun-to, the lower of the 2 northernmost islands. You have to catch the first ferry at about 6:30am coz the tour buses on the island are timed exactly to match the first ferry and the end right before the afternoon ferry. There is only one hike worth doing here, and its a 10hour ascend and return to rebun-dake, or mt rebun. So i took the tour instead coz i wasnt feeling up to it. Hop onto an island tour a and finish by noon, then take the ferry to Reshiri-to.

Spend the afternoon doing small hikes around the ferry terminal, then camp overnight and do a 4-hour hike at the northern tip of the island to see some gorgeous scenery. Grab the afternoon ferry back to Wakkanai, spend some time here if you want, and take the train back to Otaru via Sapporo. Overnight in Otaru.

Day 10

Explore Otaru, the “Venice of Japan”. Many music boxes, glassware and craft stores. Try the street side melon slices, freshly-grilled seafood, and steamed / grilled corn! Heavenly.

Overnight in Otaru / Sapporo.

Day 11

Explore Sapporo - the beer brewery, the park, tv tower, and Sapporo’s version of ramen. The bata-kon (butter + corn) ramen is worth trying. Evening train and overnight in Kushiro.

Day 12

Breakfast at the Kushiro morning market, superb seafood. Get a seafood donburi and choose your own toppings from many many selections of the freshest wriggling seafood.

Grab a rental car and drive to the various observation points of Kushiro Shitsugen NP. Short hikes are available.

In the evening, drive down to Akan Kohan, an Ainu village beside Akan Lake in Akan NP and set up camp, see the village crafts and traditional Ainu dances and music. There is a small museum but if you are going to the Northern People’s museum in Abashiri later, then give it a miss. There are many free foot onsens around so try them! This is an onsen town so many good onsens abound if you don’t want to camp.    

Day 13

Drive up to Kawayu Onsen, you can be based here. I chose to camp at Kussharo lake. Grab info from tourist centre, visit the nearby Mt Iowa where you can see many sulphuric discharges and mini-hot springs bubbling on the ground. You can also try a onsen-cooked tamago.

Drive to Mashu lake - don’t miss this out whatever you do. Then drive to Kussharo lake for sunset and that’s where i camped over.

Day 14 & 15

Sunrise at Mashu lake again. Drive up to Shari for lunch and to get NFL on Shiretoko NP. Over the next 1.5 days, drive around Shiretoko NP, Rausu and various sights and hikes in the area. Don’t miss the Shiretoko pass and kamuiwakka hot spring falls, which is only accessible by bus - bring a bathing suit!    

Day 16

Drive to Abashiri, see the Northern Peoples Museum and the Abashiri Prison Museum. Fly back to Tokyo in the evening.

Day 17

Morning flight back to SG

What i would have done differently - take a flight to Sapporo direct from SG and rent the car for a longer period. Hokkaido is very drivable.

Original post at garry blogs

Final petition to ban whale hunting - pls sign now!

June 18th, 2010
Whale hunting ban - final vote

I've just signed an urgent petition at Avaaz.org to protect whales. Read more below, or click this link to join me in signing: 


Dear friends,

In one week, the International Whaling Commission will hold its final vote on a proposal to legalize commercial whale hunting for the first time in a generation.

The outcome rests on whose voices are heard most clearly in the final hours: the pro-whaling lobby — or the world's people?

More than 650,000 of us have signed the petition to protect whales — but it's time to reach 1 million! At the whale summit in Morocco, an Avaaz team is setting up billboards, front-page newspaper ads, and a giant, constantly-updating petition counter — all to ensure that delegates, from the moment they step off the plane until they cast their votes, will see from our explosive numbers that the world will not accept legal whale slaughter.

Let's soar past a million. Click to sign, and then forward this email to everyone you know: 

Thanks to the worldwide outcry, many governments have already pledged to oppose the proposal. Each time the Avaaz whale petition added 100,000 signatures, it was sent again to the IWC and key governments — and some, like New Zealand, thanked all of us who had signed on.  

But pressure from the other side has been relentless — and now other governments, especially in Europe and Latin America, may abstain… or even support the proposal. The vote could go either way. 

Citizen pressure is our best hope. After all, it was an explosive worldwide social movement in the 1980s that led to the commercial whaling ban we're now trying to protect. As the International Whaling Commission meets in Morocco — they on June 17, and vote less than a week later — let's make sure the world's voices are there to greet them: 

After the global ban was first implemented on commercial whaling, the number of whales killed each year plummeted from 38,000 per year to just a couple of thousand. It's a testament to the power of humanity to move forward. As we move to confront the other crises of the modern age, let's cherish this legacy of progress — by joining together now to protect our majestic and intelligent neighbors on this fragile planet.

With hope,
Ben, Ben M, Maria Paz, Benjamin, David, Graziela, Iain, Luis, Ricken, and the whole Avaaz team

P.S.: Despite the ban, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have continued whaling — and are now pushing to make the IWC proposal as lenient as possible. Expecting permission to catch more whales than ever, Japan is reportedly planning to buy its largest whaling ship yet. Click here to sign the petition against commercial whaling: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/whales_last_push/98.php?CLICKTF


"IWC whaling proposal 'offensive'", New Zealand Herald:

"Conservationists condemn 'peace plan' allowing for limited whaling", Guardian: 

The other side: IWC Chairman defends whaling proposal

Original post at garry blogs

Arm your vuvuzelas: WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious”!

June 18th, 2010

Wordpress 3.0 is finally released! It actually merges MU (the multi-user version of WP) and Wordpress, and it seems like the UI has taken on quite a nice sleek feel!

Highly recommended for those already using Wordpress. In fact, I’m going to evaluate it as a replacement for all my Joomla sites!

Original post at garry blogs

SkyVille @ Dawson

June 8th, 2010