Sunday, July 04, 2010

Tan Kin Lian's Blog: Cheques

Tan Kin Lian's Blog: Cheques

I've posted a comment on this thread. Here is the full text of what I wrote:

The fact is that general ad-hoc payments between any person or company/entity is still 'best' done by sending cheques.

If I can pay a person/company by writing their name on a cheque together with the amount and a signature, why can't I do the same thing electronically, with equivalent measures of security and accountability in place?

Concerns about security of online payments, I feel, are quite adequately addressed by the use of two-factor authentication.

The fear about revealing account numbers for online payment, while irrational, can also be addressed by using some form of unique textual identifier (like an email address, just for example). Since cheques only have a recipient name, they are also subject to ambiguity.

Vincent Sear made a very valid point - that companies/entities who issue cheques already reveal their account numbers which are printed on the cheques!!!

The e-cheque system is just a wrapper around the same archaic, inefficient system that still sends paper cheques around. The fundamental issue doesn't get solved. Even some internet banking payments ultimately send a paper cheque on your bahalf! This defeats the whole purpose of having electronic payments in the first place.

Clearing cheques between banks do take time. There is a delay before getting your money, not to mention you have to physically visit the deposit box in the first place. Furthermore, you are also subject to the delay introduced by the postal system, which means you will never know whether your "last-minute" payment will arrive on-time.

More payment modes => higher costs? Not necessarily because electronic payment doesn't incur any work/cost beyond the initial setup.

In fact, a convenient electronic payment system is already upon us. Think PayPal, but integrated into our local banking system.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bay Area Business Trip 2009

Visiting my company HQ in San Jose these two weeks. Flew in to SFO at noon via Seoul, got my rental car, a green Toyota Corolla (a potential Mazda 3 turned out to be a hatchback, can't accommodate my luggage).

Was initially a bit jittery driving again after such a long break, but it soon came back after 5 minutes. Thank goodness for the GPS, I didn't get too lost. Found my way to the Embassy Suites on 901 E Calaveras Blvd, about 2 miles from the office, and successfully checked in.

Just remembered that an old friend of mine was working in Apple, so I dropped him a SMS, and luckily he was using the same number! We met up for dinner at a Singapore/Malaysian restaurant called Banana Leaf (it's a 20 minute drive from Cupertino), walked around, and parted ways then.

I thought Banana Leaf was way too popular. I didn't know the people here enjoyed Singaporean food so much. A good thing we went in early, because about half an hour later, the place was packed with people who had just got off work. We had spring roll, pineapple rice, and chicken rice.

A mundane two days passed meeting and greeting in the office later, it was Saturday again. Feeling rather refreshed after sleeping at 6:30pm the day before, I actually woke up at 5am, but couldn't get back to sleep, and finally got up at 6am. Hit the treadmill at the gym for 25 minutes and had breakfast. I planned my itinerary to last the entire day, covering all the places I had hoped to visit.

Enough with the boring fluff. I set out at 12, and visited these places:

  • Intel Museum on 2200 Mission College Boulevard
  • Broadcom and Yahoo Santa Clara were just up the street (near six-flags!)
  • Computer History Museum at 1401 N Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View.
  • Google Headquarters at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View.
  • Apple Headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino.

Photos and videos to follow!

Ended the day going to Mark's house, going for a hike to a hill top where there is a stunning night view of Silicon Valley (there are photos, of course), and having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Mountain View to celebrate Mark's birthday - Happy Birthday Mark!

Met Patty while walking around after dinner. Turns out that she lives in Mountain View. Haha, I actually could not recognize her outside the office, but she managed to spot me and came up to say Hi.

Plans for Sunday? Shopping maybe?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Exciting Trip

I've had a pretty exciting Taiwan business trip so far:

  • On only my second night in Taiwan, I was awakened by a Richter 6.2 earthquake.
  • A typhoon brushed by Taiwan a few days later.
  • I went hiking on Yangming mountain.
  • I went para-sailing in Jinshan.
  • I was woken by another earthquake (this one made it to the news in Singapore)
  • Some people in a neighboring hotel room decided to simulate their own earthquake shortly after.
  • I attended the 2009 computer applications fair in Taipei.
  • On the eve of my departure, my flight was delayed for a day due to typhoon Morakot.

Now how exciting is that!

Taiwan 3C

Taiwan has several computer and electronic retailers that sell a wide range of computers, communications, and consumer electronic products, thereby the term 3C.

A lot of products from homegrown Taiwan brands like Acer, Asus, and Dlink are not sold outside Taiwan, or they might be cheaper in Taiwan. These websites will provide a good comparison shopping exercise.

This is a list of the online storefronts from a few of these retailers.
  • 名人3C量贩 (Ming Ren); Website:
  • 灿坤 (Can Kun); Website:
  • 全国电子 (National); Website:
This list is not comprehensive, but is a good start. There are some pretty good bargains to be had, especially if you pay cash in full or take advantage of some of the online special deals.

For example, I bought my Acer Aspire Revo R3600 (Linux edition) from Ming Ren in Hsinchu at a rather good price. At the time of writing, this product is not sold in Singapore. I had to say that their service was good, personal, and friendly. They even offer free delivery to my Hsinchu science park location.

Update 2010-04-14 - adding some more to the list:
  • 顺发 3C -
  • ePrice 比价王 -
  • 欣亚数位3C -

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Commuting in Taiwan

Getting from HsinChu to Taipei via High Speed Rail is faster than getting to work in Singapore using public transport.

In Singapore:-

Trip to train station (< 2km away): 30 minutes
Train Ride: 25 minutes
Bus ride: 10 minutes

In Taiwan:-

Trip to the train station: 15 minutes
Train Ride: 20 minutes

Bam! You end up right in the middle of Taipei city, with MRT connections to anywhere. Better still, base yourself in TaoYuan if you need to travel to Taipei or HsinChu equally.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hsin Chu Assignment - Day 1

Lunch was in the office canteen. We were still not used to the large portions of food being served here, and I had a hard time finishing my food. We had to leave the office with tons of reports left to be submitted by 2359. We used the first of our dinner coupons in the hotel's Monet Garden Restaurant. Sushi, sashimi, 新竹米粉, were the order of the day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hsin Chu Assignment - Arrival

Landed at Taoyuan Airport after an uneventful flight on a half-empty SQ876 (the entire middle section in the economy cabin was empty). We found our driver pretty quickly and were driven to the familiar Lakeshore hotel. We were surprised to be given a whole month's worth of breakfast coupons (not that they were necessary anyway). For our tremendous support of staying for 23 days, we received 3 complimentary dinner coupons (1 coupon for every 7 days of stay)

Dinner was supposed to be Thai food, but it was changed back to 醉月楼 at the Lakeshore at the last minute. We were thinking, if all dinners were this large, then I would gain at least 5kg by month end. During the end of the dinner, I was getting a headache and falling asleep, so I was relieved when it was finally over and I could crash.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pulse Transformer

This is a confusing article. Nobody is going to know what I am talking about.

Transformers (cartoon) fans would scratch their heads wondering which character was actually called "Pulse". Well, there isn't any!

Electronic engineers would be wondering why someone like me, who has gone over to the dark side, would be talking about a Pulse Transformer. And on a personal blog.

Alright, on with the story!

Girls have a penchant for Gucci, LV, Coach bags (yes, these are supermarket brands I know, I have not reached that level of sophistication required for the other brands), but guys have their weaknesses too.

I got a laptop bag! I was more driven by vanity than practicality, but well, in my defense, I was not extravagant, because I did NOT get an expensive bag (though it may be 'branded' - even calling it branded might be a stretch - for goodness sakes, it is a laptop bag!!!)

Why vain? For starters, it's a convertible. It's a Pulse Convertible Case. Take a look.

It looks like a normal sling bag, but keep the sling, turn it vertical, extract the shoulder straps from the back compartment, and hook them to the bottom, and you have a ready-to-carry backpack!

I've long been unable to decide whether I should get a side-sling bag, or a backpack. Side-slings will curve your spine lop-sided (and they are waaay tiring) while backpacks, though good for your skeletal structure, have too many compartments and pads and what not.

I've been putting off the purchase for a while since I don't bring my laptop (my sexy Sony Vaio SZ483) out much, but now I'll need to carry it to and from work (and to who knows where). The current bags I have are either too big, too old, too uncomfortable, or just look plain inappropriate.

I spent the last couple of days, when I finally could leave work ON-TIME (hurrah!!!) shopping around for a suitable bag. I was originally quite fixed on the Tucano Workout, but it was too pricey and too small. I almost bought the Targus Revolution Convertible (up to 15"), a close cousin of the Pulse yesterday, but the huge velcro-ed frontal flap and uncomfortable weight made me hesitate

Today, I looked around in Funan Center again, and saw the Pulse (first at South Asia Computer). It was going for $79.90 as opposed to $45 for the Revolution. So I thought I may get the Revolution, considering the lower price, and also that my company issue laptop would be a 14" Dell Latitude D630 (I think)., so having a larger bag won't hurt.

I decided to walk around in a few more shops for a second or third opinion, and I was rewarded. Inforcomm was selling the Pulse at $49.90. Challenger had it for $79 (member price). In the end, I realized that the Pulse was more suitable for the following reasons:
  • It was lighter at 960 grams (the Revolution was almost 1.2kg)
  • It was just the correct size at 14.1" (Revolution was 15")
  • It was a more professional black than the Revolution's casual brown/red.
  • It was VERY affordable at just $5 more than the Revolution.
It was a no-brainer from then. I made my way back down to Inforcomm, and paid my money. I'm stroking it on my lap as I type. :) I'll be carrying it to work tomorrow, speaking of which, I should be turning in already!

My only issue? The carry handles cannot be kept, so they would always dangle out on the side when carrying in backpack mode.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What to do in Singapore (again?)

Some people have stumbled upon my old blog entry while looking for things to do in Singapore, so I thought I'd offer a bit more information on this topic.

I recommended this site at visitsingapore a while back, and I've found some more links that might be interesting.

As I was looking for more material to embellish this entry with, I found Timeout Singapore.

Happened to stumble across this website detailing some of the events that are happening in Singapore. Seems like these are submitted by the event organizers themselves, or as a form of (free?) advertisement.

Be warned, however, this is hardly the most comprehensive list by far, but still, it is a good link to add to your collection when looking for things to do in boring Singapore.

Couple this with a food and restaurant guide for the local dining scene and you should have quite a few good resources to plan your next weekend or days off:

Personally, here are some recommendations:

Sentosa - get an Islander membership for $20 a year and enjoy unlimited rides on the Sentosa Express light rail system at Vivocity to and from the island. You can cycle along the beaches (although it is not very bicycle friendly and people are walking everywhere on the cycle path, and NEVER, EVER roller-blade there), watch the hunks and babes playing beach volleyball, and chill out at one of the many pubs and restaurants along Siloso beach. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, then Tanjong Beach would be a good choice. I live 5 minutes from Vivocity, so it's well within my reach. For those of you living along the North-East Line, Sengkang to Harbourfront is only 24 minutes apart. What other excuse are you looking for? :-)

Pasir Ris Beach Park - It's still a bit out of the way, and not as bustling as East Coast Parkway, or Sentosa, which makes it a good idea if you really want to try some place new. But be warned though, the Fisherman's Village is now gone. Fear not, after your walk/cycle/blade has made you hungry, you can proceed to Downtown East for some night-time entertainment. There is food to be eaten, movies to be watched, karaoke to be sung, games to be played, not a bad place to kill some time.

Alright, I'm tired. Another time then. :-)

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Well, it's not too long till the next post, is it?

Alright, whoever invented the crap to make resolutions only during new year must have been really lazy. Goal setting should be continuous. Time and tide waits for no (wo)man.

Now I shall update my resolutions:
  1. Cut my cubing times to under a minute. I've been doing the vanilla method for 15 years. No value has been added apart from the 1 week learning the algorithms and 3 months of practice. I'm going to learn a new method, starting NOW.
  2. Improve my running times to 12:30 for 2.7km. Yeah, you can laugh, but I am only competing with myself. Once I reach this milestone, I'll be aiming for A grade for 2.4km, and finally Gold Standard.
  3. Spend my free-time more productively. I've been wasting away my free time. Where has all the fire and energy gone? I'm getting too comfortable I guess, this is why I am not making an impact. 这匹千里马何时会遇见他的伯乐? (Alright, I know this is vague, but my mind is constantly brimming with ideas, making it hard to focus, this is one of my weak points I guess)

There are still a couple of areas in my life that I still cannot get a grip on, guess this is the drawback for being so left-brained. What's wrong? Do I really have to figure it out for myself? Why do some people seem to tell you a lot, but also have a lot of things hidden in the closet?

There are sometimes when you are confused with certain things, and people often want a straightforward answer. But the other parties concerned refuse to come straight to the point, because they are afraid to hurt your feelings, don't they realize, this by itself is also rather damaging?

I've learnt to accept, over the years, that some answers do not need to be spoken, and would better be kept ambiguous, but then this would leave a lot of issues pending without closure, or if there is a misunderstanding, then it might lead to a lifetime of regret.

Is closure really that important?

Long Time No (Up)Date

Guess I am not that prolific a talker both in real life and online. What have I been busy with? enjoying life no less. :)

Alright, most of my disappearance these 2 months can be attributed to a few things:

  • Red bombs (yes, an awfully large number of wedding invitations, I've had 4 events in a row over one weekend from Thursday to Sunday, woot!)
  • Sickness (I've fallen sick twice already, in fact I am just recovering from a mild flu attack right now)
  • Reading (The World is Flat, 2nd Edition, has really enlightened me. To keep writing without reading others' works is a sure route to deterioration. I hereby encourage whoever is still reading me, to also update yourself)
  • Kids (well, not my own, but still, I like others' children more than having my own, how perverse is that?)
  • Running (I've been running at least once a week; fortunately, I am still improving on my timings. When will I take my IPPT? My window just opened, and if I pass this, I might slump into complacency and not exercise for almost 2 years, *gasp*)
  • Murphy's Law (My laptop has broken down, the hard disk crashed, so it is back at the service center. So far the experience has been nice, Go Sony!)
What else? Hmm, should you really take such interest in my uneventful life, perhaps you can ask me personally. Ahh, so much for now. Till the next post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wing Chun Demonstration at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

佛牙寺 is having a Wing Chun 永春 kungfu demonstration on Aug 30, 2008

Date: Saturday, 30 Aug
Time: 3 - 5 pm
Venue: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, 288 South Bridge Road

Come, come!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rubik's Cube Singapore Open 2008

This is for the information of Cube enthusiasts out there. The 2008 Singapore Open Rubik's Cube competition will be at Suntec City Entertainment Center Atrium on Sunday 7 September 2008 from 10am to 6pm. Registration is on till 31 August 2008.

Considering my mediocre skills, I shall be a spectator rather than a participant. I shall consider to try when I can go under 30 seconds (even that is NOT going to get me anywhere at even the regional level).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Typical Singaporean Annoyance

This is one of the issues that have been bugging me for a long time, our world-class public transport system.

Mr Brown's latest post prompted me to make this post as well, because I share the same experience everyday, which also makes me want to swear.

On a good day, it takes me 50 minutes to get from home to office, from the time I leave the house, to when I get to the office. Sometimes, it can take up to 1 hour. The journey is a typical walk->bus->train->bus->walk routine. In particular, getting from home to the MRT station is a 'short' 3 bus stop affair. But let me break this journey into the timings of the respective segments.

The train journey takes a very reliable 20 minutes. The following wait for the bus, and the bus journey (2 stops) itself, takes on average 5 minutes, and the walk to office takes another 5 minutes.

Doing the math, this implies that the bus journey (plus waiting time) takes from 20 to 30 minutes JUST for 3 bus stops! It is easily as long as the entire train segment!

The problem is, as you would have guessed, that the bus just takes soooo loooooong to arrive. During peak hours, there is still a 15 minute interval between arrivals.

Compounding the problem is the overwhelming graciousness of Singaporean commuters. At this point, I cannot be sure whether the offenders are Singaporeans or foreigners, but this definitely is a national phenomenon - people simply refuse to move to the rear of the bus.

Countless times, the front of the bus is tuna-packed. It is amazing that 3 to 4 people can squeeze into 1 meter length of the bus aisle at the front of the bus, and 6 people can cram onto the area in front of the driver, including the steps. The back of the bus, however, from the exit to the rear, has a grand total of 5 standing persons.

Some (able-bodied) people simply like to board the bus, and stop RIGHT at the exit even when there is tons of space at the rear. Alright, you are in a hurry, you want to get off the bus FIRST, fine. But more often than not, these people take up almost the entire width of the aisle, meaning that people boarding the bus after them are not even able to squeeze past to get to the rear of the bus. Yes, you can say 'excuse me' to get past them, but come on, who is in the wrong? So not only are these people being selfish by standing at the exit, they are also being inconsiderate by not allowing more gracious people to pass.

If it was an old person who has problems walking, or if he or she had a trolley, luggage in tow, then it makes more sense to stay at the exit. But sometimes, the offender can be a well-made up, nicely dressed lady with nice hair and a pretty face, or a smartly dressed executive. You'd wonder what's the point.

Everybody wants to get to work, or school on time. I do not blame the people who keep wanting to squeeze onto the bus even though there is obviously no more room. How can I, when the next bus will come in another 15 minutes, which would also likely be jam-packed (well, at least at the entrance anyway)? Why should I, when the back of the bus is so spacious, with the passengers there oblivious to the plight of their fellow passengers.

Best Place to have Breakfast in Kuching

The Kuching Food Awards over at Kennysia.Com has chosen

6. Best Place To Have Breakfast

Winner: Choon Hui Cafe, Jalan Ban Hock.

Here's an excerpt from the review:

Located close to town, right next to Grand Continental Hotel, Choon Hui is as authentic as it can get to a old-fashioned Kuching Chinese-style coffee shop. It is open during breakfast hours only, starting business very early in the morning and finishes around 11am.

Why did I mention this? Well, because this cafe is run by my uncle. Personally, I've never been to Kuching before, and I didn't know my uncle's coffeeshop can be THIS popular, and they are only open for breakfast. Man!

So if you are visiting Kuching anytime, do drop by to try the kaya toast (I heard it is a sell-out item everyday).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Low Income Earner

This chart indicates that gross wages have shot waaay up in the past year. Seems like engineering and IT are in favor once again, at least at the managerial level.
  1. Research and development manager - $9,385
  2. Computer operations and network manager - $9,300
  3. Computer and information systems manager - $8,930
  4. Technical manager - $8,595
My gosh, this makes me grossly underpaid. What to do, when your company is in the declining electronic manufacturing industry?

These are gross wages, so there may be some large AWS component in there for 2007. Maybe next year we would see something different as widespread decline affects most industries.

As the report shows, electrical and electronics engineers bottom out the list
  1. Electrical engineer - $4,665
  2. Electronics engineer - $4,615
Scopes up!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Random Shots

Look at the sky, and say "wow"!

Is that a flower?

Let me sin, just this once!

Where is he drinking from?