Finance & Insurance, Health, Solutions

New series focusing on major illnesses, treatment, costs and insurance

These past 3 years, I have had quite a number of clients diagnosed with major or even critical illnesses. Thankfully, all of them survived due to early detection, good healthcare in Singapore and adequate insurance that they have bought.

I will highlight some of the most interesting cases in a series of blog posts over the next few weeks to share with you some salient points I have learnt from each of these clients’ cases.

I will discuss the cause of their illnesses, the treatment regime, its short-term and long-terms costs and how much insurance can cover some of these costs.

The first case in this series is about “Cleo,” who was diagnosed with Colorectal cancer at the beginning of this year. Thankfully, she survived to tell her story and it is interesting because, even if you think you live a healthy lifestyle, you can still get cancer!

cancer-in-colon-rectum BW


Click here to see her story.


Man Matter, Reviews

Ghost in the Shell 2017 Review


Ghost in the Shell (1995) was a ground-breaking anime movie that was not successful in Japan initially because the idea was so ahead of its time. But it gradually gained a cult following through word of mouth and people started to realise its philosophical underpinning. Eventually, an unknown pair of director brothers watched it and created “The Matrix Trilogy.”

After “The Matrix,” many other directors copied the concepts and visuals but all had to pay homage to Ghost in the Shell (GitS.) So how does the live-action adaptation holds up to the original?

Score: 7/10
Pros: Visually stunning but not ground-breaking. Holds true to the basic idea of the original. Well-acted with good pacing and superb cinematography. Good score although I personally prefer more of the original music from the 1995 score by Kenji Kawai.

Cons: The Story is a mess and not because it doesn’t follow the manga or various movies and anime in the GitS franchise. Another case of not pushing the envelope in order to sell the movie to more people, even though I suspect the box office will be better if they did. Ultimately, I guess the Director Rupert Sanders wasn’t deep enough to understand the 1995 movie.

No Spoiler Summary: GitS 2017 is a modest attempt to remake the 1995 masterpiece into something that will appeal to the wider global audience. I personally love the original movie, giving it a 9/10 for its deep philosophical question of what it means to be alive if only your brain is left of your ‘self.’ Do you still possess a soul, which is supposed to be at your heart, or is your entire being, including your soul, just some electrical impulses firing in your neurons?

GitS 2017 doesn’t go that deep but go in the other direction of your self or soul being your action and how you+your action relate to others and the emotional impact that it generates. Suffice to say, the movie lost almost all of the deeper meaning and spirituality of the 1995 anime in order not to confuse the audience. I get the feeling that the director and writers don’t get the original movie and tries so hard to explain everything (and doing a bad job at it) that GitS ultimately becomes a much shallower action sci-fi movie. Because the story is so obsessed with explaining everything, it didn’t have time for self-reflection or give the audience an introspective narration of where all these concepts are going to culminate. Unlike the Major, who is seeking her Ghost (her soul) and ultimately finding it, the movie comes across, ironically, as completely soulless. Something the Wacholski brother nailed in “The Matrix.”

The redeeming factors obviously are the visuals, stunningly animated, taking cues from Blade Runner (which GitS 1995 copies), the dark foreboding themes from GitS 1995 itself, the Major’s cyborg body, Batou’s part human/part-implant body, the action sequences which pay fan service to the 1995 movie but modernised with the CGI of today. Awesome!

The acting was good as well. Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Mira/Major was intentionally uncertain in Act 1, loosening up in Act 2 as she discovers more about her past and almost human in Act 3 when she finally come to realise who she actually was before her transplant. The white-washing is way overblown, beside Scarlett Johansson’s Major being caucasian looking (she resemble ‘Major’ in the 1995 anime), the rest of crew are multi-national. The city is also obviously Hong Kong but the inhabitants speak Japanese like the 1995 movie as well, which is weird.

The scores and SFX are effective for this type of narrative style so it supported the movie in a good way, so the action part of the movie is well taken care of.

Go watch if you’re a fan of sci-fi or action movie. It’s still worth the ticket.

Spoilers Review:

Ghost in the Shell 1995 was NOT a fast-paced action anime movie, like Attack on Titans. Director Mamoru Oshii (PatLabor) had very little money to do a manga-movie adaptation so in order to save money, he rushed the project and completed a normally 3 year project in just over a year, using a combination of CGI, cell drawing and other tricks like slow-mo to pad the screen time. This severely restricted the ability to have many action sequence, which are VERY time-consuming to draw. He got creative and used nudity, short but intense fighting sequences, philosophical twists and internal struggle of the protagonist to move the story forward, and what a masterpiece he created, even though it was not understood by many upon release.

Those slow introspective moments are cheap to draw and animate, and the dialogue are also purposely kept to a minimum to let audience gather their thoughts as the plot thickens and twists. Using the brilliant atmospheric score from Kenji Kawai and stunning hand-drawn backdrops, he did a Stanley Kubrick (2001 A Space Odyssey) for Ghost in the Shell and over the year, got a global cult following, which granted him the chance to do GitS 2: Innocence, which had a lot more action but ultimately couldn’t top the first movie. “Less is more” is definitely true here.

Now that you have some background of GitS 1995, it’s time to see what worked and what didn’t in GitS 2017. The story is completely different from the 1995 movie. There are fan service scenes like the Major kicking the punk in the drain scene where she fought him whilst being naked & invisible, and the scene where she jumped off the roof of a high-rise naked and shooting someone through the windows. The Geisha bots are from GitS2, the final Act where the supposed villain turns out to have a crush on Major, the Spider tanks are all there.

The universe (story) is completely different too. Instead of the Puppet Master aka Project 2501 (an information gathering Sentient AI), they lumped up the Hideo Kuze character with Puppet Master to become Project 2571 (the Ghost in the Shell project.) This movie is played out more like an origin story where Major just joined Section 9 instead of the 1995 movie where she’s well established, confident and kicking ass.

Being an origin story, it’s very important to establish an emotional connection with the main characters. This worked out well as I was genuinely emotionally invested in Mira (a nickname given by Dr Ouelet – her creator). How she became “Major”, a military rank was never explained.

In Act 1, her brain has just been inserted into a cyborg shell. She (and the audience) has no idea of her past. Our past memories defines our soul, so at this point, she has little soul because it was erased. However, glitches/flashback/feedback started appearing in her consciousness without reason and Dr Ouelet would keep erasing them.

However, her investigation into the murder of the scientists at Hanka Corp, which made her shell, soon attracted the attention of a dangerous cyborg criminal called Kuze who view her as an equal. After trapping her in his human brain driven private network/lair, he revealed that he was a failed iteration of her own shell, which the Hanka Corp tried to kill. This prompted Major to seek out the truth of the origin of her organic brain that ultimately led to the discovery that her real name was Motoko Kusanagi. She was declared dead a year ago and is survived by her mum.

She was a runaway with Hideo Kuze, her lover and they were harvested along with 97 others by Cutter, a Hanka Corp senior executive who wanted to create super-human soldier weapons for sales. After Major discovered the truth, Cutter ordered her back to Hanka to have her killed too. For unknown reason, she complied and returned to Hanka Corp where Dr Ouelet injected a serum to release her memory block instead of the poison as ordered by Cutter. Cutter then kills Dr Ouelet after she helped Major escape and he ordered a kill-strike on all of Section 9 personnel.

Fortunately, Section 9 is an anti-terrorism group and they made short work of the strike team from Hanka Corp. The final showdown in Act 3 starts when Major went back to the place where Cutter kidnapped her group. She meets Kuze, who can sense her after he hacked into her Ghost previously, and they discovered that they were lovers. The romantic moment was interrupted when the spider tank fired a shell which crippled Kuze. Major tried to fight the tank with an automatic rifle to no effect. She finally goes invisible and jumped on the tank to pull out its control unit, thus disabling it but not before also tearing off one of her arm and rupturing dozens of muscles.

After remembering, she finally reclaimed her home and return to her real biological mother and goes on to become the confident Major Motoko Kusanagi that we know from the 1995 movie.

The one part that I didn’t understand was Kuze told Major he will always be with her in the networks and then switches off. So did his ghost die? Major shedding a tear suggested he did but she should still be able to feel his presence on the Internet, so why did she cry?

I think Scarlett Johansson was correctly casted because she was convincing as Major. So are her co-stars like the famous Takeshi Kitano’s Aramaki-san (Battle Royale), tender yet tough sidekick Batou played by Pilou Asbaek. Special call out to Chin Han (2012) as Togusa-san. The Section 9 outfit is newish when the movie started but their dynamics grew as the movie progressed. I would really love to see this team get more chances to work together in future. Yes, I want a sequel for sure. I think Scarlett Johansson deserves her own franchise instead of being just “Black Widow” in the Marvel franchise. That will depend on global receipts for this movie.

If there is a sequel, I’m hoping they will do an Iron Man where the first movie is the origin story and Iron man 2 explores some of the “skeleton in the closet” situation so that they can flash out some of the philosophical question raised by GitS 1995.

I think a new director is required because Rupert Sander doesn’t seem to grasp the opportunities presented by the ability to separate your soul from your body and uploading it onto the Internet, which is what GitS 1995 is about. The problem is also endemic to the rest of the crew and even Scarlett Johansson. When interviewed, she struggled to explain the deeper implications of mind out-of-body. Her answer in that interview was deeply unsatisfying philosophically.

This is in contrast to Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving, who were able to explain very clearly their roles and the deeper implications of their being in “The Matrix”. This is a testament to the geniuses of the Wachowski brothers and it really shows in the screenplay.

The ordinary happy ending is also unlike GitS 1995 which ended with the Puppet Master AI being merged with Major’s organic brain to become a new entity that exists both in the real AND virtual world with all the information and networks on the Internet as her playground. Plus she got a new shell from Batou as a parting gift.

In conclusion, I think GitS 2017 hit enough of the right buttons to be a good enough adaptation but it really didn’t have or didn’t devote enough time to explore any of the really interesting concepts that deal with the mortality of human beings if your brain can be separated and placed in a cyborg body that doesn’t die. Or the director and script writers simply aren’t equipped to answer deep philosophical questions. Fans of GitS 1995 will probably hate this movie but non-fans will appreciate the 2017 version because it isn’t as mind-bloggling.

Fatherhood, Man Matter, Opinions, Reviews

Beauty and the Beast (2017) An honest in-depth look

I LOVE the Disney animated movie (hand-drawn cartoon) Beauty and the Beast (1991). It is my favourite Disney animated movie of all times. (Not counting Pixar 3D-animated movies.) I was a kid back then but I can still remember the ballroom scene that composite hand-drawn cartoon with the 3D-CGI ballroom and chandelier. It resonated with me because the visuals were stunning, the song was sung with such feeling and it just builds and builds to a crescendo, leaving me breathless and watery-eyed at the same time. And I was in love with Belle. 😉 She’s smart, beautiful & has a mind of her own. Oh, and she’s French!

The new BatB “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) made a heroic effort to turn a fantasy cartoon into a live-action movie and while it gained a lot of realism, it lost a lot of charm & grace… and a little bit of comedy. This doesn’t make it a bad movie because I still scored it a 7/10 for explaining much of what the 1991 movie passed on without explaining, and the shear size and technical achievement of making the castle & fantasy characters believable in the real-world. However, I wasn’t able to be fully immersed in the story or suspend my disbelief until the final act of the movie when the pace picked up and the emotions swelled.

Score: 7 / 10
Pros: The story does work and filled in a lot of missing details from the cartoon movie. The sets and characters are well animated and looks real. The acting was decent and towards the end, you may even shed a tear. There are more songs for the title characters, which really helped you care for them towards the end.

Cons: The Director’s or Producers’ pacing is too uneven, starting out slow, plateu in the middle, then shoot you to space right at the end. Fans of the 1991 cartoon knows what to expect next but new viewers may get lost. Major plot points can be condensed. This even affected some of the songs which develops the individual character’s story arc.

More Cons: Emma Watson was really wooden in some scenes and I blame it on the Director. See the Chip blows bubble scene…

Spoilers ahead!

Let’s go in-depth into BatB (2017)

With the remake of any beloved movie or franchise, the new crew has the unenviable task of living up to the expectations of fans, while coming up with something new that can stand on its own. Unfair comparison is inevitable because when you watch a movie as your younger self, you are more impressionable compared to your older jaded soul. This is called nostalgia and it affects almost all of us. With that in mind, I will try to be as impartial as possible. If it’s my preference vs the director’s choice, I will highlight that! Other than that, I will review this movie like any other.

The movie opens differently from the original. Instead of a monologue of the story with a stained glass “slideshow,” BatB (2017) opens with a ballroom party where the Prince was dancing & swooning guests until the old haggard lady came in looking for shelter from the bitter cold. The opening scene sets the tone of the movie and it completely fell flat emotionally.

It could have been set as a fantasy (flashback) scene like in the Labyrinth (1986) with a dreamy whimsical tone or it could have been dark & foreboding like Maleficient (2014). Instead, the director went for a Prince not accepting a rose and getting turned into a goat-head giant sprouting orang-utan fur. It was neither fearsome nor sad. The cartoon stained glass at least show the Prince in anguish. This is just boring… like so many other reviewers who noted the director just going along for the ride, not taking any risks or driving a singular vision that could make this movie great.

If you’re coming into BatB for the first time, you will be wowed by the baroque costumes and the grandiose castle and that’s great. What I’m saying is the director could have taken these sets & settings and made them GREAT. And that is my biggest problem with this movie. After Maleficient, I was ready to see more grandiose in Disney life-action remakes and I was disappointed in that respect.

This opening scene could have been done in a much darker note showing the terror & decay of the inhabitants and the amnesia that befalls their loved ones at the neighbouring village with the aftermath of the villagers losing their children, who became teacups. It would also be a much sharper contrast when Belle starts her whimiscal “Little Town” song showcasing her loneliness and dissatisfactoion of living in a village without teenagers. The issue of not going “the extra mile” continues in Act 1 & 2.

After this, it cuts to Belle’s opening number and that is my second-biggest issue with this movie. Throughout the movie, Emma Watson’s singing was heavily synthesize with Auto-Tune. Being the title singing role, I would rather they get a professional singer like Ariana Grande to dub over Emma’s singing rather than hearing an unnatural synthesized voice, if Emma really can’t sing. Disney has done this in many of their movies where the singing voice is different from the speaking voice. I’m a fan of Emma Watson and her Auto-tuned singing really irritated me on many level.

My third biggest issue is with Emma Watson’s acting or Bill Condon’s direction. Animated Belle was spunky, intelligent, compassionate and graceful. Hermione (Harry Potter franchise) was spunky, intelligent & compassionate (but not graceful). So what happened to Emma Watson? Her performance was pretty sub par in many scenes and I’m willing to bet it’s the director’s fault.

I heard Emma had a very active role in redefining Belle to cater to the feminist movement. However, not all the scenes worked and it’s the director’s job to decide what scenes to keep or cut. Animated Belle was really into books and she seem to have gotten a lot of that from the bookstore, hence she’s smart but innocent. Emma’s Belle showed much less interest in books and the movie show her going to a church for books? And there was less than 10 paperback size books on the counter. How many of those are bibles I wonder… And just like that, the fountain scene was cut. Emma’s Belle did show she can use her smarts with her own invention and that worked for the movie.

The 1991 cartoon movie skipped many plot points to maintain a very focused pace including cutting the entire fantastically animated sequence with the wonderful song “To Be Human Again” from the theatrical release. When I watched the Remastered BatB (1991), I completely understood why it was cut in the first place. It didn’t contribute to the movie story-wise and inserted a 5-minute break to the pace. All the characters had overtly mention their longing for Belle to break the spell multiple times, which meant turning back to human again. There isn’t any need to waste 5 minutes of screen time to reinforce something the audience already knew.

This is the next problem I have with this movie. The pacing is slow. The songs are longer, even the “Be my guest” sequence didn’t get interesting until the last 15-seconds, but the first minute of the build-up was so slow! And Belle STILL didn’t get to eat anything except for the pudding that was not trashed by the Dishes & their Friends. For some reason, the director wants us to wait and wait till the end before he blast us with everything the CGI department can throw at us! He could just increase the tempo to match the animated movie & it’ll be fine! So I didn’t really enjoy most of Ewan Mcgregor’s “Be My Guest.” Also, Ian McKellen’s Cosworth was quite boring.

It’s the same with the entire movie. Act 1 & 2 was slow & draggy, and while I appreciate the story really being fleshed out to explain so many questions we had from the cartoon, the build-up could have been better handled. There were so many padding in Act 2 between Gaston and Maurice when a brief scene would suffice. I mean there’s a 2 minute sequence of Gaston trying to kill Maurice and Le Fou trying to stop him. Then a 3-4 minute sequence of Gaston framing Maurice and getting him locked in a cart bound for the asylum. The cartoon’s way was much more effective in this instance and moved the story quicker. Of course, it could be the producers wanting to give the wonderful Kelvin Kline more scenes, in which case, I feel the script was really weak with respect to Maurice, Agathe & Gaston. They should either cut that section out completely or show how Agathe is involved in all of this.

So, I just wasn’t emotionally involved in Act 1 & 2. Even the humour fell flat.

At this point in time you’d be wondering with so many negative comments, how the hell I gave this movie a 7?

Well, it’s because despite the director’s best efforts to dumb and slow down the movie, all the main cast did put in a really decent performance especially during their introduction and character development sequence when they’re singing. Besides Emma’s Auto-Tuned singing, everyone else’s was fine, which is weird since they only did it for Emma Watson.

Dan Stevens’ Beast was spot-on as a reluctant tyrant led astray by his father. Emma’s Belle was spunky & somewhat intelligent and she did shine in a few scenes (Act 1 & 2), although not graceful or genuinely curious (or excited) about living in an enchanted castle. Kelvin Kline’s Maurice’s tragic back-story of his wife’s death to the Bubonic Plague and his over-protection of Belle was believable & touching. Luke Evans’ Gaston is well portrayed as a megalomania & schizophrenic war-hero. Josh Gad’s LeFou lost the comedic sidekick role and became Gaston’s lover-in-the-waiting + moral compass.

Gaston’s self-admiration in the mirror scene was a highlight and it really contrasted with the director/producer not going all the way for each and every scene, like when Belle was teaching the little girl to read. They didn’t show the girl’s parents summoning the other villagers to pull Belle and the little girl apart with the girl being scolded by the parents and the rest of the villagers trashing Belle’s donkey-driven washing machine (which is a brilliant device that could have washed half the town’s laundry at a go!) This would have added 10 second of Belle’s disbelief and disgust of their petty small minds and added emotional depth in Act 1 that arc towards Act 3 when the townspeople were manipulated by Gaston to “Kill the Beast.”

The pivotal scene where Belle and Beast felt something inside them and Belle sang “Something There” started slow but build up faster than “Be Our Guest.” It worked and we gained more insight into why Belle could ever learn to love the Beast. The Beast was starting to melt and it showed in Dan Stevens’ performance, even beneath all that orang-utan fur. 🙂 By the end of the song, he had even learned to laugh and shot Belle down with a giant snowball, one of the few scenes with unexpected humour.

The most important scene of the movie has to be the ballroom dance scene where their love blossomed. The set was very well done and the mood/lighting was impeccable. Belle’s gown was BEAUTIFUL and the Beast suit was well-done. However, as with the rest of the movie, the magic isn’t turned on till the very end of the ballroom scene . I think it has to do with the cinematography being too choppy. There just wasn’t enough of the grand sweeping pans and pullback + zoom-ins from the dance to a wide-angle shot of the ballroom. The camera was dead set on the couple dancing and it cuts in and out of the scene instead of the original slow panning and zooming. However, the last 1/3 of the sequence did work when the music swells and the magic starts with the Beast sweeping Belle off her feet. Some may prefer this although I personally prefer the original 3D animated sequence.

I also prefer Angela Lansbury’s Mrs Potts rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” because everything just felt heightened. The notes soared higher, the musical crescendo was more majestic, so much so that you feel your soul being lifted as well. And it ended so sweet and gently. Emma Thomson did a decent job but Angela Lansbury did it with 1 take, hitting all the right highs and lows. I also prefer Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson’s rendition of “Beauty and the Beast”, although Ariana Grande & John Legend take was awesome too.

After this, the final Act starts when Gaston locked up Maurice & Belle and the pace picked up considerably. The music and singing also somehow picked up several notches with “Kill the Beast.” The director seemed to be in a rush to finish the movie and it seemed to make the movie MUCH more enjoyable! The plot was tighter, the action was swift and decisive. Mrs Potts recognised her husband from the village during the castle lobby fight sequence! Belle and the Beast tag-team to fight Gaston and Gaston’s cowardly act of begging the Beast not to let go, then shooting the Beast in the back made more sense than the original.

All the actors also seemed to wake up and really pulled their acts together. Belle suddenly became fearless and compassionate, Beast truly showed his aggressiveness and resolve, Gaston became the jealous & cunning nutcase he truly is.

After the last petal fell, BatB (2017) did something unexpected and pulled a tear-jerker by showing all the castle inhabitants turning to lifeless object in addition to the beast dying. Belle cried and finally confessed her love for the Beast. At this moment, the mysterious enchantress returned to break the spell, resurrecting and reforming the Prince. The castle staff reanimated & returned to their human form while winter turned to spring. And as a bonus, the village invaders suddenly remember the castle and their loved ones working there. This absolutely made a lot of sense retrospectively.

This last 10-15 minutes of the movie really saved it. While it’s still not great enough for me to give it 7.5, it made me feel it was still worth my money bringing the family to watch it. Without it, I would have rated this movie a 6. It’s interesting to note that when I watched BatB on 16/3/2017, IMDB showed 6.1, but as of 18/3/2017, IMDB shows 7.6. Rotten Tomato also went up to 71% while Metacritic remains at 65.

I would recommend you go watch it. You will probably enjoy this more if you’ve never watch the animated movie first because there’s a reason the 1991 movie is rated an ‘8’ on IMDB.


How Full Windows 10 running on ARM CPU will affect computing future

So it finally happened! I have been predicting x86 emulation on ARM CPU ever since Intel stopped product development for Atom for mobile SoC.

@WinHEC 2016, Microsoft showed Windows 10 running on ARM

A few major things happened over the year to make this happen.

  1. Windows 10 Mobile Continuum
  2. Intel ending development of Atom SoC
  3. Qualcomm adding virtualisation support for SnapDragon SoC
  4. Various bridges for developers to easily port their apps to Windows 10
  5. Windows 10 Common Core (or why there’s no 64bit mobile Windows 10)
  6. Some special sauce from the brains @Xamarin
  7. Microsoft letting go of the last vestiges of Nokia

Let’s look at this point by point.

First point. Windows 10 Mobile Continuum feature has always been this dream of making your smartphone act more like a PC when connected to a large display + keyboard/mouse. However, people quickly notice far too many icons don’t work because the developer hasn’t written their app in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) format or their mobile app isn’t optimised for a larger display yet.

Rather than waiting for mobile developers to get around to adding UWP support, why not ask PC developers to scale their apps down? And at the same time, support legacy Windows program through the Desktop to UWP bridge so it’s possible for Windows 10 to run these UWP on ARM64 SoC.

Second point. (This is my speculation.) Intel has made a terrible mistake in ending Atom SoC development. They pushed Microsoft to seek an alternate SoC and they are the probably the reason Qualcomm added virtualisation support. I don’t remember Google/Android asking for x86 capability.

Third Point. Despite how fast Snapdragon (SD) SoCs are, the Atom X7 can keep up with it easily & in fact outperform it, albeit using slightly more power. The reason is every core of Atom can process SIMD (DSP) SSE instructions which gives it an advantage in terms of mathematical calculations. The letdown of Atom is in the GPU. Unlike Qualcomm, Intel obviously doesn’t want to put a flagship class GPU to compete with their Core CPU.

Recently, Qualcomm announced DSP & Virtualisation support for their next-gen SD835 SoC with an even faster GPU. This allows Microsoft to enable many of the desktop class features that required DSP to accelerate their functions. Many of Windows 10 Mobile functions like its User Shell & Cellular functions will be integrated into full Desktop Windows 10 as shown in the video. Finally, full Windows 10 can compete with IOS & Android for Tablets.

Fourth point. Microsoft is a software company at its core. Their oldest and strongest products are their OS and Visual Studio development environment. It comes as no surprise they can create conversion tools to directly take other platform codes and make it work on theirs. It’s also no surprise when you consider the fact that Windows NT (which Windows 10 is based on) was created to run on multiple CPU architectures.

Fifth point. For the longest time, Windows Phone fans had been wondering why Microsoft refused to create a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Mobile. I have always argued that mobile platforms don’t need 64-bit at all because no single mobile app will ever use 4GB of memory. Now we know the reason is because Microsoft has been concentrating in making full Windows 10 even more mobile.

We already know that Windows 10 shares the same kernel & some of the hardware stacks between PC, Xbox, Mobile, Hololens and IoT. However, what most people don’t realise is Microsoft has been breaking their Service Stacks into smaller and smaller pieces with every new revision of Windows 10.

Just look at your Services manager in Computer Management, there’re more and more Services running in the background. However, RAM usage hardly increase. The reason is to allow more services to be compartmentalised so Microsoft developers can pick the services relevant to that particular platform and reuse as much code as possible. This isn’t possible if the services are large and monolithic in nature.

My prediction is, instead of emulation, Windows 10 will run natively in ARM64 mode. Not surprising since Surface RT IS running an ARM version of Windows 8. This means all (desktop) Windows 10 services AND first-party apps will run at full speed since they’re compiled for ARM64.

All UWP apps can run in either native ARM or virtualised x86 mode depending on the developer. Also not surprising because when you run a 32-bit program in 64-bit Windows, Windows will launch the program in Windows on Windows 64-bit mode (WoW64). So now, instead of apps running in an x64 sandbox, it’s a Windows app running in an ARM64 sandbox.

Sixth point. I bet the brilliant minds at Xamarin had been cross-pollinating with the minds at Visual Studio to create the most powerful x86/x64/ARM cross-compiling toolkit possible! I’m guessing these are the people convincing Qualcomm to add virtualisation support for the latest SD. The power of software!!!

Seventh point. I’m guessing former Microsoft staff of formerly Nokia mobile division still have a static mindset about the future of mobile and smartphones. It’s probably good they’re let go to work on other worthwhile projects like the new Nokia-branded smartphones ODM by the China firm that bought over from Microsoft, or SailFish for the Russian bloc.

However, we also know that certain key ex-Nokian went to work at Microsoft Research. I wouldn’t be surprised if these are expert in camera and cellular tech.

The future. This part is my speculation about Microsoft’s strategy moving forward.

If Intel had continue to invest in Atom SoC, we’ll probably have the mythical “Surface Phone” by now that can run UWP & Legacy programs through Continuum.

Qualcomm seem to have fill that gap but I’m still skeptical over the emulation performance. However, if the Adobe Photoshop presented by Terry Myerson in the video is running in emulation mode and the video wasn’t edited, then I’m cautiously optimistic. The “Surface Phone” can now get back on track but don’t expect it to ship until end of 2017.

This is also the first time desktop Windows 10 gain cellular radio stack and mobile-context specific features related to voice calls and sms. The Skype Preview app is already hinting at the direction Windows 10 is taking so it’s more proof of mobile features added to Windows 10, rather than more desktop features added to Windows 10 mobile. Microsoft is moving in the opposite direction as IOS & Android.

With a Cellular stack built into Windows 10, Windows will finally become a full fledge mobile OS. With ARM’s more simple RISC architecture, power management should be easier to manage and Windows 10 should have much better standby time. Intel Atom (Enhanced SpeedStep) has great running time but the standby time still lacks far behind Qualcomm’s Snapdragon high/low-power cores. It’ll be interesting to note how Windows 10 handles the ‘big.LITTLE’ Kryo 28x Cores.

Windows 10 Continuum will also have a combined dual-shell or a morphable shell (called CShell) that switches interface depending on the screen (not device) context. Maybe now we’ll finally have a Landscape mobile Start Screen, and of course, multi-screen is naturally supported. It better support dock-able Windows for larger 5-7″ screens too!

Ultimately, the “Surface Mobile” can be your only computing devices. So what kind of a device is this Surface Mobile? Well I think it’ll be running a SD835 clocked at 1.9Ghz on battery, and 2.45Ghz when plugged into the Microsoft Display Dock. It should have 4GB of RAM and has a 5.5″ – 6″ display to allow adequate space for heat spreading. A 1440P display is good enough, a 4K display will be a waste of battery and GPU cycles. Now, Windows 10 requires a lot of space, so 64GB of eMMC 5.1 Storage is required.

Where does that leave Intel or even AMD? Well, Intel has abandoned Atom because they have probably figured out how to make a Core series based SoC hit the 2W TDP but their 10nm fab is having yield issues, which is why CannonLake is postponed. AMD has also announced new APU that can step through the clock at 25Mhz increments thus providing more aggressive power management but being fab on a 28nm process, I reckon power consumption will be higher than KabyLake.

What this means is, Intel is trying to make their Core m CPU fit into a mobile environment so the CPU wouldn’t fry your smartphone. And AMD new Ryzen CPU isn’t ready for mobile.

Qualcomm just released information on their latest Snapdragon 835 SoC.

Based on the information released, SD835 supports new 3D audio processing and enhanced camera image processor. It looks like a future Microsoft Hololens 2 could be powered by the SD835! The Surface 4 could also be based on a SD835!

In the meantime, you can check up my past predictions which has come true below.

How Windows Phone 8 & Windows 8 can share software

OEMs can’t do it, so Microsoft DID IT!

Samsung losing patent case is Good for consumers!

Update 03 Feb 2017: Updated with the product codenames for future Windows features I have corrected predicted, like CSHELL and clearer explanation of CPU terminology.

Finance & Insurance

AIA Increases Premium and Benefits to HealthShield Gold Max

So it finally happened! I wasn’t expecting an increase in premium due to AIA being profitable but to move with the times and match AXA Shield’s 365-days Post-hospitalisation benefit, AIA had to increase premium for HealthShield Gold Max A to enhance the benefits.

The Max A plan isn’t the only changes AIA made. Find out more here!


Finance & Insurance, Solutions

[SG only] How to Reset your SingPass?

I was talking to my client over the phone about planning to buy an HDB flat while still servicing a mortgage for his Australian house and he couldn’t remember his SingPass to access his CPF statement. (I just remembered I can’t remember my SingPass too!) 😀

Now he needs to reset his SingPass but he hasn’t updated his 2FA (2-factor authentication) and he’s leaving for Australia tonight. What to do?

Well, the fastest & easiest way is to go to the nearest Community Centre in this list.

But what if you’re too busy to go to one of these centres?

Well you can now reset your SingPass online, if you have completed the 2FA registration, like you would for your Microsoft or Google Accounts with 2FA.

The procedure is fast and straightforward. You just key in your personal details + CAPTCHA (to proof you’re not a robot.) A One-Time Pin (OTP) will be sent to your pre-registered mobile number. Key in this OTP and on the next page, just key in your preferred SingPass.

Take note the SingPass needs to have a minimum of 8 alphanumberic characters so I suggest a good password manager that integrates with your browser and smartphone.

The last resort is to do it the old fashion way, which is to reset your SingPass without a mobile number here. After completing the form with CAPTCHA, CPF will mail the temporary PIN to your registered residential address. You will need to login within a specific timeframe and complete the 2FA registration with your mobile number upon login because 2FA is mandatory now. Finally you’d have to key in a new SingPass if I’m not wrong.

Any errors or updates, please leave a comment and I’d update the post.

All comments and questions are welcome. Be sure to like this article if it’s useful and share it with your friends and family, or colleagues who can benefit from it! Button are all over my website just waiting for you to click them! 🙂

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My Blog has been upgraded!

Hi all! This blog was started late 2011 as a hobby, and as a way for me to disseminate important messages & information for my insurance & IT clients.

Since then, I have also shared my views & opinions on science & technology, and even recipes and solutions to everyday problems. My solution posts are immensely popular!

My readership has grown quite a fair bit even though I don’t publish consistently and that’s because I simply do not have the time. My main obligation is to my clients and this wouldn’t change.

Recently, I was invited to upgrade my blog with its own domain and a chance to monetise through Ad impressions and I thought why not. If the blog generates some revenue, I can generate more quality contents, keyword being ‘quality’.

I have read some posts from other bloggers and it seems that the revenue is miniscule based on my current projected traffic and Ad Impressions. Due to that reason, I have turned on Optimised Ad to see if the impressions goes up. I will probably also send out an appeal for readers to switch off their Ad Blockers because at this rate, the revenue wouldn’t pay for the domain and WordPress charges!

Having said that, this blog will still be my hobby and I wouldn’t do anything to game the system, like posting click-bait articles. I know controversy sells but that’s not the purpose of my blog. I might increase the frequency of posts to see if there’re measureable improvement in traffic and Ad Impressions so I don’t have to pay for this “hobby.”

So starting from 23/11/2016, my blog will be transferred to! Yay!!! 🙂

Now I have no idea what kind of Ads were shown before the change but moving forward, WordPress has assured me that the Ads will be relevant to my content and not be too intrusive. I have opt to keep the number of Ads to a minimum and see how much revenue that generates. I don’t think I can do A/B testing with this site to gauge readers impressions on the number of Ads so I will take things slow and see how it works out.

I’ve seen some of the Ads and in Singapore, they are repetitive. I wonder how it’s like for my US and UK readers. At least, the Ads are decent so I have seitched on Optimised Ad.

Remember! My blog will remain the same. The extra revenue will allow for better content (more graphics and maybe animations & video). The mission will also stay true to my original intention for my blog to provide good information in Finance/Insurance, Tech and cooking.

Having said that, I don’t expect to receive any payment from WordAds for at least a year due to WordPress paying out only when my site revenue hits USD$100. So maybe next year, I’d go back to the free tier. Hehe…

Update: 29/11/2016 – updates for the 6 days my blog is on the premiere tier “supposedly” earning Ad revenues.

Singapore Smart Nation initiative is slow because government & private sector top management can’t work fast enough


Update 19/6/2016: spelling/grammer corrections, clarification of opinion & headers to make for easier reading

I’ve just read this piece at ZDNet titled “Singapore needs mindset change for smart nation success.” The piece is about Singapore (residents) needing to change their mindset to ensure Singapore can stay competitive.

There are so many things I disagree with in this piece. Let me explain.

Singapore aunties & uncles also use Smartphones

The smartphone penetration rate is very high in Singapore. (This is why hackers love to target Singapore users.) So why is that? It’s because PC & broadband(fixed/mobile) penetration is also super high. The Singapore people is used to technology in their lives and now that you can bring the power of a PC inside your pocket, we all naturally want that capability & flexibility.

The problem is NOT with Singapore residents’ resistance to doing things the Smart Nation way. Instead, bureaucracy & outdated law/compliance standards are to blame. This usually happens at the top level of government & the private-sector. Since top-level government is pushing change, I’m sensing mid-higher government agency/stat-board resistance. Top-level Private-sector officers may also be resistant due to potential compliancy issues & probably lack of funding for large and complex government functions. Software development is a VERY expensive undertaking after all.

Examples of grassroot & SME support of a (Smarter Nation)

I can give 2 examples, my children’s childcare teachers started using WhatsApp Groups many years ago instead of the Comm-book to communication with parents, and the principal acted as the moderator. It was super efficient and has a level of engagement, including support amongst the childcare operator and parents. It brought us closer and any issues can be resolved quickly. (And since the entire history can be retrieved from anyone’s phone, keeping of records is not much of an issue.)

There’s even a sense of camaradie between the teachers, principal and parents, not to mention a sense of respect, sadness & understanding for the principal, which poured out from everyone when she left the school. (Due in no small part in what I think is her disagreement with the management style of the new owner.)

When the center was bought over by a “high-end” government accredited operator, we soon went back to the comm-book, which was a hassle to follow and update the teacher-in-charge. Because of that, we missed a few notification when our child forget to let us read it at the end of the day when we were all tired.

The operator’s excuse is the management has to follow the government’s guideline to qualify for subsidies to the center and the comm-book is part of that requirement. Naturally I wrote in to the new principal to “complain” but to no avail.

If the center management actual reason is to prevent parents from “ganging up” against the center, they’re sadly mistaken because almost all of the parents still continue to participate in the WhatsApp Group even without the center’s participation. We have also created parents’ WhatsApp Group for each new class that our kids move into. The primary purpose is to help parents in the class to keep up with all the homework/activities/reminders that our young kids easily forget.

Example 2: Many readers know I’m a financial advisor but besides providing financial advisory to clients, I also provide IT consultancy services to my insurance clients if they ask for it. (I used to be a *systems programmer when I was a Product Development Engineer. *it means I talk to machines)

One of my triumphs was when I help my SME client selected a WMS system and converted his entire operation to Microsoft Office 365 Business due to cost vs reliability/scalability considerations for his high email volume. As his operations expanded, OneDrive for Business is increasingly important in disaster recovery scenarios as well. All these from a company last than 20 strong.

Much of his operations were made easier because MOM & LTA has made a lot of issues easy to complete or resolve online.

How Singapore Smart Nation initiative can take off

The ball is in the government court for sure. CPF, LTA, MOM, IRAS, Sport Singapore services have been getting easier to use over the past 3 years and should be applauded. Other government agencies like HDB, Traffic Police/SPF, NEA, HPB need to catch up. (The list is not exhaustive since it’s from the top of my head those .gov services I used in the last 3 months.)

Besides providing e-Application & e-Payment portals, the website performance also needs to be upgraded and possibly move to the cloud where it’s easier to scale and is potentially cheaper in the long run when you factor in maintenance contracts. (Microsoft Azure resources can be dynamically scaled/priced and Amazon is cheap.)

Of course, sensitive portals like CPF, ICA & IRAS may never move to the public cloud but I’m sure parts of the website that doesn’t directly access sensitive databases can be moved to Microsoft Azure or even Amazon AWS.

Heck, Microsoft Azure can even be deployed in your Private cloud, as are solutions from VmWare & IBM Watson.


So my point is, on the ground-level, people (including elderly in their 50-60s) are ready if the change simplifies their lives by making things more convenient and secure. (2FA is VERY important, go activate your SingPass!)

Appeal for traffic offense online? Yes, great! Updating your child immunization record online at NIR? Not working! HPB take note! Reporting broken lamps to town council? Yes, awesome!


All the people need is a website for desktop & smartphone to transact with the government and it’ll make these agencies more transparent to everyone! You don’t even need to develop an app for each platform (Windows 10/IOS/Android 2-7/BlackBerry) when a mobile website that renders properly in HTML5 is sufficient.

If there is to be a mindset change, it’s not with the people. The people are ready.

Agree or disagree with my opinions? I’d like to hear from you!