Saturday, June 03, 2017

Solving a Sudoku puzzle

Calling Soduku fans.
Do you have a puzzle that you cannot solve?
Enter the numbers in this website, click on "Solve" and let the website solve for you.
If you enter an invalid puzzle or an extremely complex puzzle, it will return "No solution". But most time, you will get the answer in 3 seconds!
You can also ask the website to generate a puzzle - with the number of blanks that you specify. You can then solve the generated puzzle.

Problem with MRT signalling system

James Lim said:
The real shocker is that there's actually no need for such signalling system for use on SMRT's NSL and EWL because both lines are driven by humans.

From an engineer perspective, the "Moving block" signalling system used by SMRT in its current "upgrade" uses sensors to create a bubble of safety region for the train to travel. If the train exceed the bubble, electricity is automatically cut off and the train can't move causing a jam. Such system relies heavily on sensor and all the train speed on the railway. Since it's man driven, some trains travel faster / slower than what the computer required unlike unmanned trains like CCL/NEL/DTL which computer dictates the speed. Sensors can fail easily (e.g. bird fly pass / something blocking the sensor and it think it's a train)

The fact is we don't need such a system for NSL / EWL and it's a giant waste of money. If SMRT had implemented a timetable system (use in Sydney trains / Japan trains) and each train follow the timetable to arrive at the destination with drivers PHYSICALLY looking ahead for safety, there is no trouble / signalling / track fault at all.

Sadly SMRT don't want to implement this system.

I sometimes wonder if we are spending a lot of money unnecessarily. However, we do not have sufficient information to make a judgment. The information is not shared with the public. This is governance, Singapore style. The elites knows all the answers. They also knows all the excuses when something goes wrong.

Include name of organization in Caller ID

The Singapore Civil Defence Force is arranging for its number "995" to appear on the mobile phones of called parties ('995' now displayed on phones' caller ID; June 1).

Apart from showing the number, it should also try to get its name reflected.

If the called parties know the identity of the caller, they are more likely to pick up the call.

Recently, I received a call from the Singapore Exchange and the number was not reflected. I did not take it, thinking it was someone trying to sell me something.

I am not aware of any telephone company that provides this service, but the SCDF might want to look into it.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, June 02, 2017

Professional engineer moves to Kuala Lumpur

I met a woman who is a professional engineer and boss of a company that employs three staff.
She is moving to Kuala Lumpur where the business prospects are better., She finds the business in Singapore to be too competitive and the cost to be too high.
I agree with her. I told her that the government introduces many wasteful activities that are costly. Recently, they wrote to companies to appoint a Data Protection Officer under the Privacy and Data Protection Act. This requirement applies to all companies and associations, including those that do not have any full time staff.

Is Singapore not competitive for aircraft maintenance jobs

I met a young man in his mid 20s. He graduated from a polytechnic with a diploma in aeronautical engineering and went to serve his National Service. On completing his full time NS, he could not get a job. He had to work as a part time cashier to earn $6 an hour.

I find this strange. There should be business for the aircraft maintenance industry, due to the explosion in air travel, particularly for the low cost airlines.

This is an industry where Singapore should be competitive. The planes are costly, so the airlines should be able to pay a high fee for aircraft maintenance of a high standard.

He told me that the aircraft maintenance requires a lot of space and Singapore is short of space. That is why not many jobs are available in Singapore.

I do not accept this reasoning. Perhaps the cost of rental of space is a major factor. I do not think the aircraft maintenance companies are using foreigners, as the expected salary of this young man is quite modest.
There is a problem here. I do not know what is the real problem.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Show the name of the caller making a call

I find it ridiculous that companies hide their telephone numbers when they call their customers.

Recently, I received a call from a large company to my enquiry. My mobile phone showed the number as "unknown". I did not answer because I thought it was a marketing call? Why do they have to hide their number?

They should show their number. In fact, they should show the name of the company, i.e. "XYZ Company". Surely, the telephone operator can provide this feature? It is not difficult.

I read today that the Police hotline did not show "995" when they make a call to the public. They are now correcting it with this change. But why did it take the Police so long to realize this shortcoming?

If the telephone operator provide this feature, individual users may also opt for this service. If I call another party, I like my name to be sent to their mobile phone so they know who is calling. Currently, the number is shown, but a name would be better.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Comedy of the Elected President - uniquely Singapore

The race for the Elected President starts on 1 June 2017 (tomorrow). It looks like another walkover. This will be an additional chapter in this unique Singapore comedy. It is run to watch the various acts over the past 25 years.

Bad excuse for poor management of bus services

I saw this poster on the bus for one year. I see this as a sad example of the quality of Lee HL's government.

I see a hidden message. It says, "LTA is not able to use the data to plan better bus services because concession card holders do not tap out of the bus, so the data is not complete".

What nonsense! Even if the concession card holders do not tap out, there is sufficient data from the ordinary commuters to do proper planning.
I see that our bus schedules are somewhat chaotic - some services have many buses and are poorly utilised while other services are short of buses.

I wrote to the Ministry of Transport to ask for the occupancy rate of the bus services to be shown on a website and the data be used for planning. MOT passed my suggestion to LTA. Nobody bother to contact me to discuss this proposal.

Well, I blame Lee HL because he does not appoint the right people to head our agencies and allow their bad attitude to pervade the public service.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

LTA should optimize the bus services

I waited for bus 162 at 5.30 pm today. It arrived after 15 minutes. During this interal, I saw 4 buses for 52 passed by, most of them quite empty. Bus 52 is not a feeder service. How can they afford to run so many buses at short intervals on this route.

I changed to bus 70 at Yio Chu Kang station. It arrived after 20 minutes. The queue was very long.

The Land Transport Authority is now responsible to set the schedule of the bus services, as all revenue goes to them. They pay the bus operators a fixed fee to run each bus, based on their tender price.

Is anyone in LTA monitoring the punctuality and the load factor for each service? I suspect that nobody is paying attention. (Previously, the bus operators would be monitoring it to optimize the profit).

It is not difficult for LTA to appoint somebody to be responsible for this operation. They can use the data collected on the bus service to optimize their operations.

I hope that someone in LTA is paying attention to this matter.

Wasteful to issue many credit cards that are hardly used

Rex Hsu said:
There is another widespread practice by banks which absolutely confuse you. Many banks issue 3 or more different visa/mastercards. Card A can get special discount at retail and dining, Card B can use for mrt discount, card C can use for petrol discount, Card D is a ladies special card, each card also can have a supplememtary card, each card carries a different annual fee, which you can ask to waive by phone call (if you remember). Many banks tell you, get a great discount for joining after that can cancel one card, or both card to avoid annual fee, no problem. My wallet is full of cards, i dont know which card to use, even the same bank issue 2 cards at a time to you. Such is the confusion and low productivity in Singapore.

It is a wasteful practice. The product managers have KPI on number of cards issued. So they work to issue many cards (and allow waiver of annual fee) to meet the KPI. I get the impression that Singapore is a wasteful society.

Monday, May 29, 2017

How can Singapore Airlines improve its service through innovation

What can Singapore Airlines really do to restore their profits? They have already formed two subsidiares, Tiger Air and Scoot, to compete with the low cost airlines. They have to remain in the premium travel category. Perhaps they should cut cost and improve their efficiency? At the same time, they should make it innovative for passengers to enjoy their flying experience?

Their cabin crew continue to provide good service. But they really need to know what the travellers really appreciate today. It is not the same as 50 years ago. Times have changed.

Here are some of my ideas.

1) All travellers now carry mobile device.
2) Allow them to charge the mobile devices on the plane.
3) Allow them to watch movies, news and music on their mobile device.

This is only possible if WiFi is safe to use on the plane. I assume that it is, as some planes already provide it for a fee.

Access to the Internet will be expensive, so it has to be charged. But WiFi for access to the server on the plane should be free.

The passenger will probably enjoy their mobile device better than the console on the plane - which they find difficult to navigate.

Do you agree? Any suggestions from your experience?

Show the operating hours of Transit Link office

I have a PAssion card which can be used for public transport. I have to activate the card at a Transit Link office before 31 May. (I had the card with me for a long time but did not use it).

I searched the Internet for the operating hours of the Transit Link office. I could not find it. Someone, Transit Link did not consider this information to be important. They stated that their hotline operates form 8 am, so I thought that their office would be open at 8 am.

I took a bus to Yio Chu Kang MRT station where there is a Transit Link office. I arrived at 8.30 am. The sign said that the office is closed indefinitely. I have to go to another Transit Link office.

I took the MRT to Ang Mo Kio station. I know they have a Transit Link office there.

I went to the interchange and asked for direction to the Transit Link office. The customer service counter was open but they cannot activate the card. The counter for activation will open at 10 am. I could not wait 1 more hour, so I have to come tomorrow.

It is quite common to see the ordinary people waste a lot of time to do simple things. They have to wait for several hours in the polyclinic. They waste time, like I did, with unhelpful information on services.

If the Peoples Association were to wonder why there is a low activation rate for their PAssion card (and I assume that this is the case), they should learn from my feedback.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Beware of this type of life insurance promotion

Several investment linked policies, offered by a few insurance companies, follow this structure. It is easy for the consumer to fall into the trap, and to regret their folly.

1. The agent tells them about a limited period promotion, which offers bonus units for their investments.
2. The customer ask many questions about the promotion, but FORGOT to look at the important aspects of the underlying policy.
3. They were not aware about the high annual and penalty charges.
4. When they realize the fact, it was too late. They have invested more than $10,000 and would have to suffer a part of it when they terminate the policy, or to suffer a large loss each year.

This product analysis shows how the charges work.

New issues for voting at Wisdom website

Here are the issues for you to vote:

1) Will Donald Trump complete the first term in office?
2) Did Donald Trump back down on global trade at the G7 summit?
3) Should single mothers be allowed to get subsidized HDB flats?

Give your vote at

How can Singapore Airlines improve its revenue and profits

Singapore Airlines is facing big challenges. They suffered an operating loss during the last quarter. Their service is not as good as previously. Their prices are too high. The cost is probably too high also.

Here are some suggestions on how the airline can improve its customer service and experience and hopefully increases its revenue.

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