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. ūüėČ 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. ūüôā 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.

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Opinions

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.

Opinions

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

Overview

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.

Conclusion

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!

Opinions

2015 – Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!!!

As the year 2016 approaches, I look back at my year as a Father, a Financial advisor and Blogger.

As a full time Financial Advisor, my main concern is taking care of my clients. 2015 has been a rather average year in terms of production, mainly because a large bulk of my time has been used to solve many teething issues caused by AIA’s upgrading of backend systems.

I’m grateful to you, my clients and friends, for bearing with the lag¬†while I process your requests and claims. Thank you!

And also, I have to thank AIA Claims Department for being very supportive, and for promptly processing all of my clients’ claims despite some system issues.

These upgrades allows advisors such as myself to have an Integrated Point-of-Sales (iPOS) + Customer Relations Management (CRM) platform that is mostly offline. This improves the customer experience because data can be accessed quickly and is consolidated in an easy to understand manner.

The new platform enhances the current experience where most requests (including client signature) can already be made via iPOS and uploaded to AIA for processing immediately.

Moving into 2016, we are looking forward to the new CRM system which will really improve the professionalism of our advisors while reducing our workload. Currently, Policy Reviews and Financial Planning is done by hand with Financial calculators and Excel Spreadsheets. The new CRM will consolidate client’s¬†current portfolio and highlight any shortfall or surplus during review.

As a Financial Advisor and¬†Tech Blogger, I’m personally VERY EXCITED about this new iPOS+CRM system.

As a blogger, year 2015 saw the biggest increase in viewership since I started blogging in Oct 2011. As of now, I have more than 44000 views for 2015, a more than 100% increase from 2014. I’m quite happy with the result so far. Your most popular blog-post is “How to Cheaply convert an Air-con into an Air Purifier”, with more than 13000 views! My posts on MediShield Life also received huge viewership numbers!

Thank you so much for repeat visitors who come back regularly to see if I have added anything new and of course, those of you who explored the content of my blog! You can always subscribe to my blog by clicking on the Follow Button Follow button! I promise NO SPAM!

Moving forward, I will try to post more blogs (time permitting) about saving money by having an alternate use for common items. And of course, since I’m having positive responds for my insurance related posts, I’d post more of those so you can¬†benefit from experiences shared by the beneficiaries.

As a father, the year has been great! My kids are older and more responsible, and they are surprising my wife & myself with their independence and understanding of their surroundings.

And obviously, I have to thank my wife for taking care & educating our kids. I can’t do the good cop / bad cop routine without her! LOL…

For car nuts, I got new shoes for my car! Pilot Sports 3. I’ve also changed the leaking power-steering pump and topped-up the air-con gas. The air-con is super cold now without changing the whole air-con compressor. Now I just need to find a mechanic to repair the leaky connector since the compressor itself is not spoilt, despite what 4 mechanics have told me! Good thing I used to be an engineer! ūüôā

Here’s to 2016!

Finance & Insurance, Health, Opinions

MediShield Life & Integrated Plans

MediShield Life is slated to be launched by end of 2015. It supersedes the current MediShield plan by providing better coverage for all Singaporean & PR while making concessions to premium by subsidizing premium for the elderly.

Many of my clients have asked me if it’s worth to continue their Private Medical Insurance Scheme (PMIS) integrated plans (IP) and my answer to them is YES! MediShield Life does not change the reason for buying an IP in the first place.

The reason is simple. A PMIS policy from any of the 5 insurers is meant to cover an individual who wants to enjoy a higher level of service from hospitals in Singapore. MediShield Life doesn’t provide adequate coverage for this group.

To read more, click here to continue reading my article.