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Sunday, 27 January 2008

M1's spotty 3G coverage

Most times, when people compare mobile phone telcos in Singapore, I can only think of one company: M1. Its price plans are reasonable, its islandwide reception is excellent, and I've never had problems using its roaming service when overseas.

Having said that, there is one sore area that has bugged me for two years: its 3G coverage, or rather, its non-existent 3G coverage in certain parts of the island. My biggest peeve is that I can't get a 3G reception at the Shenton Way / Raffles Place area. As soon as I enter this "dead zone", my 3G Internet connection dies. It just disappears. It doesn't matter if I was surfing just fine along Nicoll Highway. As soon as I cross Fullerton Bridge, 3G reception vanishes. Which doesn't make sense since I'm in town and reception should be optimal there.

This has baffled me for the longest time. Surely the spotty coverage would've been solved in two years, right? Also, M1 provides islandwide wireless surfing through its 3G network, so that means that it should be a reliable provider anywhere. My other theory is that if I can get normal mobile phone coverage, then I should also have 3G reception. (Of course, engineers will tell me that having one service does not necessarily mean having the other due to different technologies involved. But try telling that to a layman.)

Then why is it that I can't get a decent 3G connection? Why do I have to hope and pray that my download goes through every time? This is an especially sore point because M1 has enticed me with free video streaming for one month. But if I can't connect to the network, then this freebie is basically worthless. (Perhaps that's why it's free!)

3G has been around in Singapore for a few years already, and telcos are already promoting the next version, 3.5G. Meanwhile, 3G seems to be languishing. Which is sad because the government and telcos had been hyping it up for the longest time.

I still trust M1 and would continue subscribing to it. I just wish that they'd fix their 3G network as soon as possible. At least before they roll out their 4G network.


Monday, 21 January 2008

Construction worker tried to look up office lady's skirt

I had just gotten off the bus and was walking to the pedestrian bridge. In front of me was a woman in normal female office wear: blouse and knee-length black skirt. Next to the bridge was a construction site, with some workers hanging around (break time?).

As the woman approached the stairs up the bridge, I saw some movement among the workers. One of them, with long hair, quickly rushed to another worker, who was sitting on the roadside kerb. I don't know what he said, but from his gestures and tilted head, I could tell that he was looking at the woman.

Maybe he was admiring her beauty. But as she ascended the stairs and I followed behind, I saw him dart under the stairs! The way pedestrian bridge stairs are built is that there are small gaps between each step. The gap isn't tremendously big, but a person standing below would have a vantage upskirt view.

Which is what Long Hair had. He looked up, with a small smile on his face. I glared down at him, seeing just how far he'd take it. He went all the way; he kept looking up as the woman continued climbing the stairs.

At some point, he saw me staring at him. He knew he'd been caught and quickly glanced away. But a second later, he looked up again. And saw me still looking down at him. This time, he wised up and left his position. Anyway, the woman had already reached the bridge, none the wiser about what had just transpired.

I wish I'd taken a photo of Long Hair. I'd submit it to LTA, Stomp and anyone who'd teach him a lesson. Leave our women alone!


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Rejected ST Forum letter: "Unfair of HDB to demand $18k back for its mistake"

Since the Straits Times chose not to print my letter, I'll publish it here.

I refer to the article, "HDB wants $18k payout back from ex-hawker" (ST, Jan 12).

It states that the Housing Board wants Madam Lee Ah Muey to return $18,000 that it had given to her after she closed her stall. However, she was not entitled to this compensation since she had signed a contract agreeing to it. Four years later, Mdm Lee now has three weeks to cough up the huge amount.

This incident reeks of heavy-handedness and coercion. It is unfair of HDB to demand the money back for three reasons:
  1. It was HDB's mistake in the first place. So why is it forcing its former tenant to pay for its mistake?
  2. The incident happened in 2003. That is longer than necessary for HDB to realise and investigate its mistake, especially for such a large amount of money.
  3. Mdm Lee is a senior citizen living off her savings. It is unlikely that she can return the money in time and will probably be forced into debt by borrowing from others. The article even states that she may be forced to crawl back to HDB to rent a stall. Yet it is not her fault to be in this predicament in the first place.
I realise that the issue is about HDB's accountability of the usage of public funds. However, accountability can go both ways. HDB should admit to its screw-up and write off the payout. It is the only logical and compassionate avenue available to it.

For the sake of its brand and reputation, I advise HDB to take the high road in this issue and not pursue the matter any more. It should also ensure that processes are put in place to ensure that no such mistakes occur again, so as to ensure proper accountability of public funds.

If this incident had happened in a private company, the CEO would most likely have apologised for the mistake, then fired the employee responsible for it. The savings from the employee's salary would more than make up for the wrongful payout!
Background on the issue (from Today, because Straits Times doesn't have the article freely available on its website).


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Singapore Slingers vs Wollongong Hawks - entertaining but uninspiring

Inside the Indoor Stadium
I went to my first Singapore Slingers game this evening. Singapore's only major league basketball team played against the Wollongong Hawks at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Though I am no avid basketball spectator, I thought that the game was played in a scrappy manner and the players on both sides weren't up to standard. But there were some good moments, which showed overall promise for Singapore's basketball dreams.

Firstly, I should add that I was there only because Daphne scored a free ticket for me. And it turns out that bloggers get media-like privileges. I guess we're obligated to blog about the game, so as to increase the Slingers' share of voice in the blogosphere. Though we didn't get to sit in the box seats as we were supposed to (because AIA had booked them for its family day), we still got free entry and free drinks. And we could apparently go down to the court-side to take pictures!

Free throw shot
Slingers vs. Hawks
Ok ok, enough gushing about the privileges. Back to the game. As had been pointed out to me at the start of the game, there are only three Singaporeans on the team. The others are foreigners. During the game, only one Singaporean got to play for the last few seconds of the second quarter. I'm not sure of the rational for such player selection, but it did seem like we were rooting for a foreign team.

I thought that, with these foreigners, the Slingers couldn't be that bad, right? Well, how about dribbling across the court, only to let the ball slip from your fingers -- and there's no opponent around you! Or missing (relatively) easy shots. On the other hand, the Slingers seemed to defend well, forcing the Hawks to shoot from outside the three-point line several times.

During the second half
During the second half
The only Slinger whom I remember was No. 7, McDonald, who played pretty well during the third quarter. He stole the ball a few times and sunk it twice. The crowd went wild when he scored. Then again, the Slingers had its best show in the third quarter, when things were just whizzing all around the court and the points were racking up.

But if the Slingers played badly, then the Hawks was the punching bag. Even those whom I talked with agreed that it was a lousy team overall. Lost possessions, multiple fouls, and - most importantly - failing to score, even for the free throws! Sure, it had a few bright moments, but as mentioned before, the Slingers' defence pretty much shut it down for most of the game.

Cheerleaders - unintentional butt shot
Another consolation for the spectators: the cheerleaders. No one can fault a contingent of pretty ladies wearing short shorts that show off their legs. Daphne mentioned that they were probably professional dancers hired to be cheerleaders. Whoever they were, they made for a good break from the game.

Link to video

Link to video

Slingers mascot
In the end, the Slingers won, as it deserved to. It led most of the time, usually trailing by a few points. I think it has two strengths: good defence with tight marking, and a few stand-out individuals. Looking at the scoreboard, I couldn't help but notice that there were only two or three players who were scoring. But then, wasn't it the same with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls?

By the way, the organisers need a better announcer/host. The only thing I remember him saying was "Everyone, big D!" (as in "defence").

Incidentally, this was also my first time to the Indoor Stadium. I'm so suah-ku!


Saturday, 12 January 2008

Whither Singapore's Internet grassroots organisations?

After attending the Singapore PHP User Group meeting, I started thinking, "What has happened to all of the other Internet grassroots groups?" It seemed like such groups, or at least the ones that I knew of, had either died or gone into extended hibernation. Which is a shame because it doesn't bode well for the future of such organisations.

Today, I did a mental checklist of the groups that I'm familiar with.

  1. (ok, not strictly a group, though it was organised by the folks at
    Objective: To promote the local blogosphere and educate Singaporeans about it
    Conceived as an annual conference, nothing happened after the first one in 2005. There was talk of another in middle or late 2007, but that was just it -- talk.
  2. Web Standards Group (WebSG)
    Objective: To encourage web designers/developers to use Web standards in their work for cross platform compatibility
    This was apparently the third incarnation of the group when I joined. Unfortunately, the "phoenix" burned up after the third meeting. I attempted to restart things, but was met with a deafening silence.
  3. The Digital Movement
    Objective: To build a community of Web 2.0 and social media leaders
    This one-year-old group had organised three events in 2007 with apparent success. And then... nothing (unless it organised PopOut! in October). Besides, I'm out of the picture too. I was involved in one meeting, but felt shafted after that for offering dissenting views.
  4. Mac Meetup
    Objective: To bring Mac users together to discuss Apple news and provide support
    The original group died after Meetup ended its free services. A second group was started and I attended some of its meetings, but it died again because of cost. The original group is supposed to live on through a blog, but I haven't heard of any more offline events.
And there you have it: four grassroots groups that have seemingly died. I don't count because the people who are actively involved are more like friends who organise get-togethers informally. The only one formal event it had was to celebrate the website's first anniversary.

Of course, I realise that some naysayers would say that I jinxed all of these groups, since I participated in them. Hmm, if that's true, then that's bad news for the Singapore PHP User Group...