Saturday, February 15, 2020

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. How often should temperature be taken for every person?
2. Who should take the temperature?
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WOTC - Will you wear a face mask?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 22% of respondents want to wear a face mask when they go out, 27% will wear only when they go to a crowded place. The others do not find it necessary.

WOTC - Will the coronavirus epidemic disappear by summer?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 55% of respondents expect the coronavirus epidemic to disappear by summer. The others expect it will last for a longer time.

Temperature should be taken once or twice a week

Dear Kin Lian

With the COVID-19 now in orange , do you think that almost all In camp training,Enlistment and etc should be temporary suspended/ cancel ? Or should they be carried on with temperature taking or reducing the number of those who are about to enlisted ?

The second is on temperature taking,should all places like shopping mall ,bus interchange,mrt stations have temperature taking like those we see in the airport?

With warm regards.

Yes, all incamp training should be suspended.

Temperature taking should be done at all places with many people. but it should be done by specially trained people (supervised by M of Health) and only once or twice a week. The person who has been screened should be given a sticker to last a few days.

There is no need to duplicate the work and take temperature several times a day.

Agree or not?

US govt - a model of inconsistency

Yahoo Finance briefing.

The U.S. government has never been a model of consistency—these are the folks who brought us ‘military intelligence’ after all—but maybe that makes sense. With something as big as the federal government, there’s bound to be some conflicting interests. (And we all remember our Emerson, right? “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”)

But lately the inconsistencies—foolish and otherwise—emerging from Washington directed at the tech industry have become truly mind-blowing.

“Some chaos is normal, [but I’ve] never seen an administration this unpredictable,” says Larry Downes, an author and fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy.

Spot on Larry, though I have to add, it’s getting worse.

In fact this week has been particularly insane. Enough to make a fair mind fairly reel.

Chapter One.

Let’s start with the most jaw-dropping development, the U.S. government charging Chinese telecom giant Huawei with violating the RICO or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is usually reserved for prosecuting the mafia. I say usually because while the Feds tapped RICO to go after the Gambino, Lucchese and Bonanno families in New York, it’s also been employed against the likes of the Hells Angels and Michael Milken, as well as Major League Baseball, the LAPD, oh and don’t forget, Donald Trump (in the Trump University case). Where RICO hasn’t been used is against a major corporation, never mind a foreign one.

DOJ alleges Huawei was acting as a criminal enterprise by conspiring to steal secrets from a number of unnamed U.S. companies, including perhaps the likes of Cisco and Yahoo’s parent company Verizon. (Huawei is also suing Verizon over alleged patent violations.)

‌Does it make sense to use the same statute against Huawei that was used against John Gotti and Donald Trump? Who knows.

There’s more news on the Huawei v. U.S. government front to consider though.

On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal reported that “U.S. officials say Huawei Technologies Co. can covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world through ‘back doors’ designed for use by law enforcement, as Washington tries to persuade allies to exclude the Chinese company from their networks.” Huawei denied the allegations and those ‘U.S. officials’ didn’t provide much evidence, though they could well be right.

“Huawei of course has the capability [to spy and steal secrets] but Huawei can say with a straight face that there’s no evidence of them having used the capability,” says Nicholas Weaver, staff researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, University of California, Berkeley. “Countries with 5G have a choice: Go with Huawei and let China have an easy mode [to access telco networks.] Or go with European competitors and spend more money.”

Of course the Snowden leaks showed that our very own U.S. government has been accessing telco networks to spy on foreign governments, a point which Huawei made this week.

Also this week came a blockbuster story from the Washington Post which revealed that the CIA—through an encryption company it owned named Crypto—had been reading the secret communications of foreign countries, some of them allies, for decades. A contradiction, yes, but maybe all’s fair in the world of spycraft, just understand we wear no halo.

Also remember that the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Barr himself, has recently been urging Apple to create a back door for the iPhone to help in its investigation of the Navy base shooting in Pensacola last year. Apple has pointed out that if it creates such a back door, inquiring minds from around the globe—including the People's Liberation Army—will look to crack iPhones too.

Chapter Two.

‌A federal judge ordered that Microsoft cease work on the $10 billion cloud-computing Jedi contract for the Pentagon, a victory for Amazon, which had challenged the awarding of the contract. Naturally the contract had been awarded previously to Microsoft by another branch of the federal government, the Department of Defense. That the contract was not awarded to Amazon, but to its crosstown-Seattle-rival Microsoft, came as a shock to those following the bidding, until one considers President Trump’s state of mind.

Amazon’s 103-page suit alleges the contract was awarded to Microsoft, because of “improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS [Amazon Web Services] to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS's parent company,, Inc. ('Amazon'), and owner of the Washington Post.”

At some point this will get sorted out and either Amazon or Microsoft will be running the $10 billion contract, but consider what this litigious maw is doing to the competitive position of the United States in the meantime.

Wait, I know! It’s detracting from that!

Please note that President Trump doesn’t always hate on Amazon. This week POTUS delighted in pointing out that the first four letters of the trillion-dollar-market-cap tech giants’ names; Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon, spell MAGA. (Sorry Facebook.)

Chapter Three.

‌Also this week the Federal Trade Commission announced that it would begin investigating all manner of acquisitions made by Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The point here is the FTC is concerned tech giants have been acting anti-competitively by buying up small companies and start-ups (the Feds typically review only deals over $90 million) to squelch potential threats to their businesses. It’s a point I made last year when I noted that FB, GOOGL, AMZN and AAPL had bought some 500 companies over the past two decades with much of that buying over the past five years.

Chapter Four.

‌While it’s nice to hear that the government is getting tough on antitrust, except that also this week a federal judge approved the takeover of Sprint by T-Mobile, clearing the way for a merger that had been in the works almost since the days of the princess phone.

Is the Sprint/T-Mobile deal different from Facebook buying British AI start-up Scape Technologies, which TechCrunch reported it did for $40 million late last week? Sure. Is the Sprint/T-Mobile deal better or worse for consumers than the Facebook-Scape deal? I have no idea. Bet you $40 million Washington has no idea either.

Of course a federal judge approved another big telco deal not that long ago—the AT&T-Time Warner merger—but did so over the objections of the Department of Justice, which to my mind and others’ was acting at the behest of President Trump because of his dislike of TimeWarner’s CNN. (See a trend here?)

For a moment I thought I saw some kind of logic or pattern to the greenlighting, blocking or investigating of these tech, media and telco deals. Then I realized it was just my hobgoblin acting up again.

Chapter Five.

This one may be the strangest yet if you can imagine. Are you up to speed on chipmaker Qualcomm and its bizarro legal battle which played out in a San Francisco courtroom this week? The twists and turns of this case will make your head spin, but the bottom line is that the Federal Trade Commission has accused QCOM of monopolistic behavior in the smartphone chip business. But get this, taking the side of Qualcomm and fighting the FCC is none other than the Department of Justice! That’s right. The DOJ is arguing that the FTC’s actions against Qualcomm “threaten competition, innovation and national security.”

Unbelievable right?

Yes, it is unprecedented.

Yes, it is your tax dollars at work.

I know what you might be thinking. That Donald Trump is a disrupter. That he’s shaking things up that needed shaking. Maybe. But that’s not what I see. What I see when it comes to oversight of tech, media and telecom companies is policy driven by personal vendettas and conflicting agendas.

“What have we done,” asks Downes of Georgetown University. “Nothing. Has Congress passed laws? None. [Any] court cases? Zero. A lot of sound and fury, noise. From a concrete standpoint, nothing.”

In January 2017 Denmark appointed the world’s first ambassador to the tech industry. It’s a new twist in the history of diplomacy and a bit of a gimmick, but Denmark understands that American tech companies are a force unprecedented in scale and scope. “These companies have become a type of new nations and we need to confront that,” said Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen. I bet Metternich would approve.

As for U.S. lawmakers, they 1) don’t understand the power of these companies, 2) are in complete disarray and 3) are using metrics and analytics from pre-digital times.

But wait, didn’t the government do something this week?

Chapter Six.

Two U.S. senators introduced plans (again, it was quite the week) to reign in big tech. Senator (and former presidential candidate) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) proposed the creation of a new independent government entity, Data Protection Agency (DPA), to oversee Silicon Valley et al. “The tech giants — Google and Facebook among them—have been the clear winners of our transition to the digital age,” Gillibrand said in her blog post outlining the measure. Will anything come of it? Probably not. “Congress has been skeptical about the establishment of a brand-new agency for data protection,” the Verge writes.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has another idea. He put forth a plan to roll up the FTC, which he said “is in no shape to ensure competition in today’s markets, let alone tomorrow’s,” into guess where, the Department of Justice. Remember this is the same DOJ that’s snuggled up with Qualcomm and carried President Trump’s water trying to block the AT&T/Time Warner merger.


Is there a plan here, or any consistency at all? No and not a single iota.

Commentary by Andy Serwer, editor-in-chief Follow him at @serwer

Friday, February 14, 2020

Reduce overproduction and wastage

Maria May said:

I believe there is a collective urgent need to recognize our priorities and bring our focus right.

Today, the world is over producing, advertisements manipulate consumers to buying more then necessary, wastage etc.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Will Tesla shares hit $1,000?
2. Is it good to have autonomous buses without drivers?

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WOTC - Did the central govt hide the severity of the coronavirus epidemic?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 71% of the respondents said that the central govt in China was not involved in hiding the severity of the coronavirus episode. 29% think that they were involved.

WOTC - Should face masks be mailed to recipients?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 76% of the respondents said that the face masks should be sent to the homes by mail, rather than ask the recipients to queue up and collect them .

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should manual jobs be reserved for locals?
2. Is temperature screening a good approach to stop the spread of the virus?
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WOTC - Source of the coronavirus

Wisdom of the Crowd: 46% of the respondents said that the source of the coronavirus is the wet market for live animals in Wuhan. Another 46% said that it escaped from the biological research lab in Wuhan. 8% said that it was planted by a malicious foreign power.

WOTC - Should Singaporeans support stalls operated by locals?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 77% of the respondents said that Singaporeans should patronize stalls based on the quality and price and treat all stalls equally, regardless of the nationality of the stall holder. 23% said that they should support stalls run by locals.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Get everyone to have a temperature screen once a week

This is what I gathered from reading many sources.

When a person is infected with the coronavirus, it may stay in the body for several weeks or months before they become serious ill.

So, many people may be discovered quite late, way beyond the 14 day incubation period. If so, quarantine is not useful.

It is better to make everyone go through a temperature screen at least once a week. It will identify those people with symptoms of the coronavirus. They can be sent to hospital.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should we allow PMDs back on foot paths?
2. Should we give a new name to footpath?

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An alternative approach to temperature screening

When DORSCON Orange was activated, workplaces have to activate temperature screening of their workers. Schools have to activate screening of their students. This has caused long queues and chaos at many locations.

The chaos can be described as "teething problems" and after a while, the problems can be sorted out. However, it will continue to require a lot of time to be spent by staff and teachers to carry out the daily temperature screening. Worse, it may not achieve the purpose of identifying people who are infected with the virus and sending them for treatment.

The same person may have to be screened several times during a day, e.g. at the workplace and the mall. Some people may not be screened as they do not visit the places that require screening.

Wisdom of the Crowd

Vote on these issues and win a prize.

MAS should give guidance to banks on how to observe money laundering regulations

This is based on my understanding. If I am wrong, the finance minister can apply POFMA and give a correction order.

I understand that MAS expects banks to observe the money laundering regulations but do not give guidance to the banks on what are acceptable and practical measures. They leave this matter to the banks to decide.

How to pay to a China manufacturer

Here is my finding on how to pay to a manufacturer in China (outside of the Taopao or Ali Express website).

a) Do not pay by PayPal - they usually charge a service fee of USD 18

b) The best is to get a friend to pay in RMB from a WeChat or AliPay wallet. You can reimburse your friend with SGD using PayNow.

c) Do not use DBS Remit. They ask you to give the bank code CNAP), bank account number, NRIC, name of the payee in English and Chinese and the address. (Actually, they only need the bank code and account number. the other details are to give hassle to their customer and chase them away. It is typical of kiasu Singapore practice).

d) Use Transferwise. They ask for the Union Pay credit card number. (This is easier than getting the bank code and account number).

WOTC - Intermedia media reporting on Wuhan virus epidemic

Wisdom of the Crowd: 54% of the respondents said that the international media has reported the Wuhan virus epidemic fairly. 46% said that they were biased and have sensationalised it.

WOTC - Beijing govt transparency on Wuhan virus epidemic

Wisdom of the Crowd: 54% of the participants said that the Beijing govt has been transparent in telling the world about the Wuhan virus epidemic. 46% said that they have not.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

So much hassle to use DBS Remit

I wanted to send some money to a manufacturer in China through DBS Remit.

I had so much trouble. I am convinced that the person who design the system is an idiot.

Stop the spread of coronavirus

Here is a more efficient and effective way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

What is the impact of coronavirus being airborne?

There is a post that the coronavirus is now airborne. The experts said that the spread through surface contact is more active than the airborne virus.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Are we adopting the correct strategy to deal with the spread of coronavirus?

I listened to this video where health minister Gan KY explaining about the coronavirus.

It seems to me that our strategy of quarantine and contact tracing is not a good approach. I offer an alternative.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. What are suitable as quarantine centers?
2. Should we intensify temperature checks?

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WOTC - How to avoid being infected

Wisdom of the Crowd: The respondents chose the following options to avoid being infected with the Wuhan virus - wash hands often and stay away from people who sneeze (50%), stay at home (28%), wear a face mask (12%), don't visit malls (9%).

WOTC - Temperature check at Johor checkpoints

Wisdom of the Crowd: 52% of the respondents said that temperature check should be implemented at the Johor checkpoint for our safety. 48% think that it is not necessary.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Take sensible measures to reduce the risk, but do not be alarmed

Up to now, I am still quite relaxed about the risk of coronavirus in Singapore.

It is still quite safe in Singapore, because the number of infected people is less than 100 and nobody died yet.

I know that there is a small spread of infection, but the scale is still small.

It may get worse, or it may not.

I think we do not need to worry excessively for these reasons:

a) Unlike Hubei which is now in winter, Singapore has a hot climate all year round. The harm from the virus should be lower. Many people died because of the cold weather and the infection from the virus causing pneumonia.

b) Most of the infected people will survive. Some will reach a severe stage, but they will also survive. Some may die, but it will not be in alarming numbers.

(Don't tell me about the rubbish that every life is precious - it is not a logical way to deal with the problem).

So, for the time being - no face mask for me. And no scramble for groceries. (I am speaking for myself. My family may not agree with me, but they are more typical Sinkie).

So, I don't agree with the code Orange, but anyway, the harm is done, and panic has been caused. Th groceries in most supermarkets are sold out.

Some people said that the situation in Wuhan and Hubei is very serious. I agree. But it does not mean that Singapore or the whole world is in that situation. We need to see what our real risk is. We should not use the situation in Wuhan as the basis to plan our response.

Looking ahead, I think the govt should use the army barracks in Pulau Ubin and Tekong, the university hostels and hotel rooms are quarantine centers to handle the 30,000 workers from China who are returning to Singapore.

I do not agree with the govt's plan to quarantine the 30,000 workers at home. It is too risky and unfair to the workers and their landlords.

We should allow the workers to return to Singapore in batches that can be accommodated in the quarantine centers. These centers should be manned by specially employed people who can manage the quarantine procedures.

Although I may appear to be unalarmed, I would support sensible measures, such as quarantine, to reduce the risk.

The situation may get much worse than I expect, but it may not. Let us wait to see what really happens. We should not project the worse case and plan on that basis.

So, i will not be wearing any mask for the time being But I will wash my hands 10 times a day - I promise.

Tan Kin Lian

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Was it appropriate for the minister of health to issue DORSCON Orange?
2. How should the govt deal with 30,000 returning workers from China?

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WOTC - Stop the spread of fake news on coronavirus

Wisdom of the Crowd: 83% of the respondents said that the govt should give the facts of the virus to combat the spread of fake news. 17% suggested other measures. None opted for POFMA to be applied.

WOTC - Evacuate citizens from Wuhan

Wisdom of the Crowd: 84% of the respondents said that the govt should evacuate all citizens from Wuhan and bear the full cost of the evacuation.

Use hotels for quarantine

30,000 workers from China will be returning to Singapore after the Chinese New Year holidays. Some of them may be infected with the coronavirus.

The govt has decided that they should be placed under 14 days leave of absence. This is probably due to the lack of accommodation to place so many people under state supervised quarantine.

I suggest the following measure to deal with the challenge.

Give more information about coronavirus to assure the public

Give more information about coronavirus to assure the public

I hope that the minister can give the answers to the following questions:

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