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CERN Discovers New Particle Called The FERIR – Guest post by Steve Keen

Parody of Economics using Physics. 😀

Yanis Varoufakis

Steve.jpg

When humour becomes essential in understanding the farcical reality we live in, pieces like this are priceless.

View original post 1,022 more words

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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 Instead, bureaucracy & outdated law/compliance standards are to blame.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!

Solutions

Solving Contact/Calendar sync issue in Windows 10 Mobile

If you’ve recently upgraded your Windows Phone 8.x to Windows 10 Mobile, you may encounter some lag in synching your contact and calendar with your Outlook or Outlook.com. The lag may be a few hours to never. I’ve even read the Microsoft Support forums of people hard resetting the phone to solve this problem.

This problem seems to be especially pervasive if you’re like me and your primary Microsoft Account is NOT a Microsoft domain like Hotmail.com, MSN.com or Outlook.com.

In Windows 8.x, all we needed to do was to go to Settings -> EMail account and long-tap to Sync the account manually. However, in Windows 10 Mobile, this is not possible anymore.

I’ve just discovered the reason and the solution. It’s actually very simple, but it may cost some battery life in the short-term.

As you can see from the screen caps, my primary Microsoft Account has an alias to a now defunct domain. This means that I don’t receive ANY email to this email account anymore.

By default, your email accounts (& by extension, Microsoft Account), is set based on your usage as shown in the 3rd screen cap.

If you regularly send and receive email, Windows 10 Mobile will internally set your Sync frequency to “as item arrive”, so whenever you receive an email, it is automatically pushed to your phone or tablet immediately.

However, if you don’t receive ANY email and only occasionally change items in your Contact or Calendar, Windows 10 Mobile will try to save battery by toggling the Sync frequency to “daily” or less.

All you need to do is to go to Settings -> Accounts -> Your email and accounts -> Tap <your primary Microsoft Account> or any other accounts where you’ve chosen to sync Contacts and/or Calendar -> Manage -> Change mailbox sync settings -> Download new content -> change to “as item arrive” -> Done -> Save.

Windows 10 Mobile will immediately sync your Contacts & Calendars, and will continue to do so immediately when you make any changes in Outlook or Outlook.com.

Note that your battery life may suffer a little so if you have less active accounts, you should set those to “based on my usage”.

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! Buttons are all over my website just waiting for you to click them! :)

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Finance & Insurance, Health

MediShield Life & Integrated Shield plans updated

Sorry, it took a while but my MediShield Life & Integrated plan article has been updated.

I’ve fact checked, improved the grammar, added updated information after MOH has clarified certain questions and the claims example is much clearer.

Check it out!

*** MOH will be announcing more details on the new Public Hospital B1 Ward plans soon! Follow Button my blog to be the first to learn what’s in store for you & your family! ***

Finance & Insurance, Solutions

What to do if your S’pore car got into an accident in Malaysia

An unfortunate incident

It’s 11:59pm. You and your family has just celebrated a relative’s birthday and you’re driving back to Singapore from Malacca. Your kids are asleep at the back and you’re reminiscing with your spouse the great time spent with relatives & friends, many of whom you haven’t seen in years. It’s the end of a perfect day.

Bang! The car shuddered and the steering wheel jerked to the right, snapping out of your hands. You jammed on the brakes. The car swerved to the right and prowled into a ditch. Boom! The airbags deployed and a curse word left your mouth.

As your vision cleared, you begin to hear crying and car honks on top of the ringing in your ear. As you look around, you see 12:00am, your spouse looks dazed, your kids are up and crying but otherwise unhurt. You look outside and people & motorcycles are converging around your car and you thought, “What just happened?”

Motor accidents happen more often than you think

Events like this happen every hour of every day in Malaysia. According to statistics from Michigan University, Malaysia has a high road fatality rate of 30 per 100,000 people. There are roughly 6300 fatalities on Malaysia roads yearly. Obviously, the number of motor accidents with non-fatal injuries or no injuries are much higher.

My client recently got into an accident in Malacca. Fortunately, there was no bodily injury nor 3rd-party property damage. His car did its job and protected the occupants. However, it sustained serious damage to front-right suspension with cracked rim, destroyed tyre and tie-rod. There may be further damage to the undercarriage.

* For clarity, the information is accurate as of Feb 2016

Help is a few phone calls away

One of the first thing he did was call me. This is after 12am but I always tell my clients it’s ok to call me at any time if it’s an emergency. He wanted to know if it’s cheaper to repair his car in Malacca, or have it towed back to Singapore to be repaired at an AIG authorised workshop.

Since my mind isn’t exactly in gear yet, it’s almost 1am mind you, I gave him AIG 24/7 roadside assistance hotline so he can talk to the experts first. During this time, I pulled out his policy and went through the benefits.

AIG AutoPlus covers from Singapore to 80km north of the Thai-Malaysian border so towing back to Singapore (due to accident) is covered up to $500. Since he has NCD protector, even if he did an own damage claim, next year premium will not be adversely affected. With 50% NCD, he also has an excess waiver of up to $600.

I called the same AIG Hotline at around 1am to get additional information and to confirm the coverage terms & conditions but the call centre officer cannot provide claims information. They can only arrange roadside assistance, towing services and help manage emergency services if needed. They were also unable to quote towing charges in Malaysia because the service provider doesn’t operate at 1am, which is fair.

So next morning, I called AIG Claims department to confirm all the benefits for my client and also AIG Hotline to get the towing charges, which comes up to RM1450, of which RM200 is a non-claimable levy. The towing provider can provide towing service up to KL, so do take note if you intend to drive further north. The charges will be more!

AIG was very fast in providing these information, which I relayed to my client via WhatsApp.

SMSes gets expensive real fast when each message takes 3 SMSes to send! And these charges cannot be claimed under AIG AutoPlus. You need to buy a Travel insurance like AIG TravelGuard. And yes! You can buy a travel insurance when you self-drive in Malaysia!

Claims experience

For a normal car insured under AIG AutoPlus, the claim is pretty straight forward.

  • Report the accident to Malaysian police. This is important because it sets the facts right so in future, no one in Malaysia can send you a lawyer letter claiming you hit their car or property. Or if property damage occurred, there is document + photographic proof so the property owner cannot over-claim from you
  • Call AIG Hotline to arrange for the towing services from Malaysia
  • If you’re not following the tow truck, you need to prepare photocopies of your Passport, Driver License, Certificate of Insurance & LTA vehicle registration. This is needed for the tow truck driver to verify with Customs authorities the intention to send the car back to a Singapore workshop
  • (AIG didn’t mention this but I think it’s a good idea to photocopy the Malaysian Police report just in case)
  • Pay RM1450 to the tow-truck driver, you can claim back RM1250 from AIG or up to $500 depending on exchange rates
  • Repairs done at AIG Authorised workshop enjoy up to $600 excess waiver, so if your excess is less than $1200, you don’t have to pay anything
  • When you get back to Singapore, you get to enjoy up to 10 days of free Replacement Vehicle
  • Lastly, you need to produce the Malaysian Police report and file an Accident Report as per GIA guideline immediately upon returning to Singapore, or earliest possible if you or your occupant sustained injuries

What happens if you drive a high-cc or sports car and your excess is very high, like $3000? This is when it may make sense to engage a workshop in Malaysia if, 1) it’s a trustworthy workshop & 2) the damage is not too severe. So how do you calculate when it’s worth to repair in Malaysia? (This assumes SGD:MYR exchange rate at 1:3)

  1. If your car got into an accident north of KL, the towing charges increase beyond RM1450. Let’s say it’s Malacca, so only RM200 cannot be claimed
  2. At $3000 excess, the excess waiver only covers $600, so you need to fork out $2400 or RM7200
  3. If the repairs cost less than RM7400, you may consider getting it done in Malaysia if you know the workshop because it means you get to drive the car back
  4. If your NCD is NOT 50% and/or you don’t have NCD Protector, during the next renewal the NCD will drop 30%! Which translate to a huge increase in premium, meaning you may prefer to take the risk in Malaysia since it’ll take 3 years to get back this 30% NCD and you will suffer 3 years of high insurance premium

Getting your car done in Malaysia does carry the risk that the workshop may not spot all the problems and repair everything. If you return to Singapore and the car breaks down, you still have to send your car to an AIG Authorised workshop and you’d STILL incur the excess of $3000, which you have to co-pay $2400.

I don’t see much information on this topic when I searched online so I hope my article will help someone in future in this kind of unfortunate event.

So far, my experience with AIG Motor claims & Emergency Hotline has been very positive. I have no problem encouraging my AIG Motor insurance clients to explore Malaysia at their leisure. It’s a great country to visit, as I’ve done on numerous occasions with no problems at all, not to mention our favourable exchange rates makes everything cheaper! 🙂

Published: 8 March 2016
Update 1: 9 March 2016 – Grammer & new facts

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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