10 March, 2017

Suspended/Canceled Kickstarter Projects

The NexD1 - The first Multimaterial & Electronics 3D Printer 
A 3D printer with impossible specs. Exposed for passing off bought 3D-printed samples as their own.

The OV Smartwatch

01- 05 : Multi-Functional EDC Design Collection
Selling eBay ripoffs of previous successful Kickstarter projects

Panther Alpha - Small, 4K/2GB/32GB, All-in-One Supercomputer
Another one of those impossibly small pocket PC scams. See Tango.

ArcSling Motion Converter - Turn Movement into Electricity
See Ampy

Portable Console for PC games - PGS
Another one of those handheld console scams with impossible specs. Smach Z is another one that got funded - watch it, it's going to end up like this.

IBee Smart Modular Bracelet - The first of its kind

MOTI | Your Smart Companion for Better Habits

The Infinity Pen
Reselling something similar to the Beta metal inkless pen at a markup

"ULed" - Your powerful LED flashlight 


Boltivate Wireless Smart Lock

05 January, 2017

Things In 2017, Part 1

Wow, another year. This year I'm going to split this into several posts. It's a mess trying to keep a single post for a whole year.

A spate of drivers driving against traffic on Singapore roads, beginning with a man driving a Mercedes in the wrong direction on the AYE, at 120 km/h, leading to 1 death on 20 Dec 2016.
SAF's Terrexes returned from Hong Kong

Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un's exiled half brother, was murdered? assassinated? at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia on 14 February 2017. Situation between Malaysia and North Korea deteriorates to the point that they both expel each other's ambassadors from their countries, and prevent each other's citizens from leaving.

South Korean president Park Geun-hye removed from office
Brazil found to be exporting rotten meat in scandal
Some countries ban electronic devices with big batteries on flights, due to terrorists possibly hiding bombs in them
Man drives car into people then attacks people with knives in London

Bombing on St Petersburg Metro
US launches missiles at Syria
Singapore - City Harvest leaders who were found guilty have their sentences reduced on appeal 
Churches in Egypt bombed 
United Airlines forcibly evicts a seated, normal paying passenger from UA3411 for its crew because flight was overbooked. Outrage ensues (I was going to put his picture but I won't out of respect)
Tensions rise between North Korea and the US, after some missile launches and military drills

Vehicular Attacks

05 December, 2016

Blocking Advertising Servers

Most of our online services are paid for by advertising, so I don't want to block all ads. However, there are unscrupulous and even malicious ads out there that have to be blocked. Previously, we saw how to block ads on computers. Here are more options:

Block ad domains on your router
Advantages: works on all the devices on your network
Disadvantages: your router must support it. Might be a limit to the number of sites you can block. Doesn't work when you're mobile.

Block domains on OpenDNS
Signing up for a free OpenDNS account lets you blacklist certain domains/sites/addresses. You can set your router to use OpenDNS, or set it on individual devices.
Disadvantages: only works at home / doesn't work when you're mobile. I think there's also a limit to the number of sites you can block.

I just discovered an iOS app that can block addresses, anywhere on the device (so in all browsers, games etc.) called AdBlock by FutureMind. It's pretty clever, it sets up a dummy VPN that doesn't work, and redirects requests for blocked sites to that VPN. Sort of like redirecting to in the hosts file.
Advantage: only method to block sites when mobile that I've seen so far
Disadvantage: I think this prevents you from using other VPN.

29 November, 2016

iOS Bugs

iOS continues its descent. If you're going to say:
  • I've never heard of this, therefore it's not a problem
  • I don't use this official app that's built into iOS, therefore it's not a problem
  • You're using it wrong
Then you can save yourself some time and stop reading further.

iOS 9
You know, in the official iOS Calendar, in month view, there should be a dot under days with events. Should be.
iOS Calendar Dots disappearing
Calendar issue with the new iphone 6 plus

iOS 10
There are lots of ridiculous inconsistencies, both within iOS 10 itself and compared to iOS 9. Like Done/Cancel swapping positions, Up/Down in Mail becoming Left/Right and swapping functions, it's like they're not even following their UI style guide.

iPhone iOS 10 keyboard issues
After typing a punctuation mark or number and pressing space, the keyboard used to return to abc. Except for ', which would revert the keyboard to abc immediately without pressing space, but that inconsistency is as old as iOS. Now, sometimes it randomly doesn't return to abc and remains in the punctuation keyboard, causing you to type gibberish. How did Apple break something they didn't even touch?

Yes let's make something make noise when it didn't before
iOS 10 makes interface scrolling sounds even though interface sounds are turned off in Settings?
Turn off calculator keyboard sound iOS 10

Yes let's force the dark clock on everyone

25 November, 2016

Hello Hokkaido Fair

Hello Hokkaido, 18 - 27 Nov 2016, at Resorts World Sentosa
Posts by a couple of more famous blogs:
There are only like 2 days left so I hope this post comes in useful for someone deciding whether to go or what to eat there.

It's a small fair with food and handicrafts at the basement shops section of RWS. You know, outside the McDonalds, entrance to casino etc.

There are chairs and tables to sit and eat here! Yeah! And a sake bar.

As I said, it's pretty small. The blog posts by others pretty much cover all there is there. The good news is, the food is pretty authentic and hard to get in Singapore. I'm didn't go all the way there to eat something I can find in any shopping centre. It seems to be genuinely imported from Hokkaido. One complaint is you have to pay using their card.
You have to place a $5 refundable deposit - ok
Minimum value for new cards is $20 - er, ok
Top up in $1 increments - er..
No refunds for unused value - what? So I have to queue at least twice, plan how much to spend and possibly waste unused credits?

What food is there?
The Iberico pork cheek ($14) was nice. Wagyu beef (can't remember the price, either $13 or $18) was like good beef, but not wagyu good. Crab cream croquette ($5) was ok. They had several types of crabs but they were expensive (don't know if they are good or value for money, but I didn't want to eat $30 of crab). If I had known this, I would have tried the ramen instead of the beef.

Enjoy yourself!

18 August, 2016


Hemineglect is a wierd mental disorder, where, after brain damage in specific locations, people ignore things on one side.
The most interesting example is when asked to copy a simple picture, they omit one side, usually the left, as in this famous picture:
"Trouble In Mind" 2012, p.77, OUP, New York
The most interesting thing, to me, is how they justify this. When asked why she did not draw the fence in the picture above:
"I suppose I could if you really want me to, but it is sure to blow down in the next wind!"
One then wonders: patients are aware of the omissions. It seems more than a blank or ignoring their left side, it's like they are actively avoiding things. Are they subconsciously thinking fence = bad? What if you asked them to draw a picture left-right symmetric about the middle? What if you put a mirror on their left, reflecting the image on the right? (these 2 scenarios should generate the same image).

But I'm more interested in the rationalisation bit, which I don't think is related to hemineglect. In fact I think this is how the brain normally works, just that it works so well that we don't notice it. It seems related to cognitive dissonance, a relation nobody has made before, from a cursory search I just did. Consider how easily memories are altered and implanted. With doctored pictures and testimony from others, people can be convinced - can convince themselves - that things that didn't happen, happened. It's also how we justify our beliefs. It could be how we feel we are "one" and in control of the multiple thought processes in our heads. It might even have something to do with consciousness.

31 May, 2016

Tokyo Travel Tips part 2

  • BRING YOUR PASSPORT! Japan is very generous with tax-free shopping. You can get an immediate 8% (ok it's really 1/1.08) discount at most shops after spending ¥5000. They'll staple the receipt to your passport. IN THEORY you have to show the goods at the airport and can't use them in Japan. In practice, at the airport after the security check and before immigration (so after checking in your luggage), they just took the receipts from our passports and didn't even check the receipts.
  • You'll notice many shops span many floors. At first this sounds huge. For instance, Itoya, a stationery store in Ginza, spans something like 9 + 6 floors over 2 buildings. But the area of each floor is tiny. Yeah they have lots of tiny, not interconnected buildings. For instance, Bic Camera in Shibuya is separated into 2 narrow "buildings" A and B that are side by side but you can't cross between them above the 3rd floor. They're something like 7 floors high. One building, occupied by one shop, split into 2 narrow, tall... stacks?

  • There usually isn't any toilet on the first floor. Ok most places around the world are like that. Toilets might only start on the 4th floor. But the odd thing is they usually only have toilets for one sex on each floor. So 4th floor might be female, then 5th floor is male. Oh and all their toilet paper is 1-ply. The only 2-ply I saw was on the plane. Yet they have bidets and heated toilet seats. Some even play privacy music.
  • They say it's rude to rub your chopsticks to get rid of splinters in Japan. Too bad, because most of the chopsticks I used weren't that good, they had lots of splinters.
  • I thought Japan was pretty environmentally friendly, but they must use as much plastic bags as Singapore. Some shops will wrap your goods in a smaller plastic bag before putting them in another one, which is cute and polite and great for gifts, but wasteful.
  • Many shops are already in Singapore: Uniqlo, Muji, Ootoya, Watami, Ippudo etc. which takes out a bit of shine from traveling. For Muji, I couldn't find any differences in their stationery and cosmetics/toiletries. Maybe they sell more clothes / household / bigger items in Japan. The good news is if you miss Tokyo or want to buy more stuff later, you can get your fix in Singapore.

Ok I'll say it: their train system is a mess. It's reliable and accessible, but also indecipherable. At first you'll think, "Wow, each train line has an alphabet and colour, how organised!" Haha nope, that's only for the Toei and Tokyo Metro network. There's also the JR lines. Speaking of Toei and Tokyo Metro, if you use their app to search for directions, they'll only use their network, even if other networks have shorter and direct routes.
This is probably wrong, but I feel JR does more long-distance stuff, probably because they run the Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station. Then again, they also run the Yamanote Line, "one of Tokyo's busiest and most important lines".

I still haven't figured it out. My only advice I can give is get mobile Internet access and be prepared to use maps. Oh and the major stations have people who can speak simple English so you can ask for help.
Oh and if you're planning routes, Google Maps seems to be better since it calculates using all the rail networks.
If you have to transfer, lines in the same station may be far apart, so be prepared if you're carrying something.
Stations have multiple exits. I haven't found guides that tell you which exit to use, but if you know the direction (compass or road name), you can read the maps in the stations.

For example, this is Akihabara Station, according to Google Maps. But this is only the JR part, if you want to take the Hibiya line by Tokyo Metro, the entrance is difficult to find and not on the map.
  • The good news is there are toilets in all the train stations I visited, and they were surprisingly clean. Some of them are right on the platform!

30 May, 2016

Tokyo Travel Tips part 1

Internet access is more important than phone now. Decide how you're going to get it before you go. I bought this prepaid data SIM from U Mobile, from a seller in Singapore.
It's about SGD50, lasts 7 days with 200 MB a day. Above 200 MB, they reduce your speed. The speed isn't that great to begin with. Oh if you're using this, the instructions for setting the APN are wrong, I think "Umobile" is supposed to be "umobile" somewhere. Ideally you should use these with a 3G/WiFi/modem/MiFi (there isn't an official name for this type of device) device like the Huawei E5151. Or you can use it in a spare phone with tethering, or a dual-SIM phone if you have one.
Alternatives: buy one at the airport, you can even rent the MiFi device from them. You'll probably get faster access this way, I saw WiMax (their equivalent of 4G) devices on sale in Japan. Lots of shopping centres have free Wi-Fi.

Familiarise yourself with their money. Did you know Japan only has 3 denominations of banknote? ¥1000, ¥5000 and ¥10000. They make up for this with one of the highest value coins in the world, ¥500, which is worth about USD5. Coins come in ¥1, 5, 10, 50 (which is smaller than ¥5!), 100, 500.

I watched this on the plane, but you can watch it here first in case your plane doesn't have it:
It's a series of ~7 minute long travel videos introducing most famous parts of Tokyo like Ginza, Akihabara, Harajuku, the Sky Tree, Shinjuku... Now of course they can't cover every single thing to see in each of those areas in 7 minutes, they usually focus on 3 experiences for each location. But they give some good ideas.

And you know, the usual. Set up roaming, enable your cards for overseas use, change money, buy travel insurance, etc.

Highly recommended things to do:
  • Get your data SIM/devices if you haven't
  • Buy a pasmo card. This is their stored value contactless card used for public transport, like every major city in the world has. Tokyo actually has several competing cards (suica is another), each cheaper on certain train networks. So you could save a bit if you do your homework. Yes you can get a refund at the airport when you leave so don't worry about topping up too much. Yes you can use the card to pay at certain vending machines or 7-11, but cash is more reliably accepted.
  • Get the travel passes for unlimited travel, if you're planning to.

Also recommended:
There are lots of interesting shops in the public area, before the security checkpoint. If you have time, buy their "Tokyo Banana" and other souvenir snacks:
To sample during your holiday, decide which is your favourite, then buy them again as gifts when you return to the airport.

Check out the shop "Smith":
They sell things like bags, wallets, stationery, accessories... if you like this shop, you'll love Tokyo. There are shops like this everywhere. http://www.delfonics.com/en-shoplist.html

It's a huge temple in the city. If you're going, IT'S BEST TO APPROACH FROM THE HARAJUKU STATION. Harajuku is much nearer and there are MUCH MUCH more things to see starting right from the station, compared to walking from say Yoyogi. Personally I wouldn't mind giving this a miss though, it's basically a walk in a forest, then a courtyard and a few buildings. Maybe if you explore the temple buildings and museum there's more to see.

to be continued...

05 May, 2016

ShopBack Is Legit

What it is
ShopBack is a site you sign up on, which has links to some other shopping sites like RedMart and Groupon. If you click on the links, bringing you to those sites, then shop from there, you get a certain % of your spending back (varies by site). Sound too good to be true?

I mainly use it for RedMart. So, if I go to ShopBack, then click on their link to RedMart, then spend $100 in RedMart, I'll get 9%, which is $9 (as of now) credit back. What form of credit? It's real CASH you can receive in a PayPal account, but you need to accumulate a certain amount before you can redeem. So far, I've gotten $110 back.

How does it work? Apparently these sites have referral/commission bonuses. Have you ever seen a site linking to Amazon? They might say using those links supports the site. ShopBack seems to be collecting these and returning a portion to you.

Does it work? Is it for real? Sounds like a scam, but it's legit. You don't need to give them any credit card details or passwords. You only need a PayPal account to get cash back (but I think you can use a bank account too). The amounts you can earn are significant and withdrawals are fast and easy.

This is my referral link to sign up. I'm not a fan of poorly-disguised advertisements (I'm looking at you, SGAG), so sign up directly if you want. I didn't write this to earn money, it's for people wondering if this could be true.

20 April, 2016

Things I Didn't Expect To Work, But Do

  • Self-checkout counters. They're in almost all supermarkets now. I thought their cost + increase in shoplifting + reluctance of people to bag their own shopping would curb their popularity.
  • I didn't expect automatic taps would save water, but apparently they do.
  • Did you know they can remove the "ball" part of the hip joint for cats and other 4-legged animals and the animal can still function almost normally?

Picasa Merging With Google Photos

Google is killing the Picasa desktop program, and merging Picasa Web Albums with its Google Photos. It tried to merge it with Google+, which was.. not well received.., and now it's trying, harder, with Google Photos. It's a necessary evil. It'd be much worse to have 2 photo services.

Merging services is fine. What's not is dropping features.
Copy Image URL
Wish we could get a picture URL
One of my biggest uses for PWA was for photo hosting. Most sites/forums will let you display photos, but won't actually host them for you, because it's expensive. PWA used to officially support this, with direct links to different sizes of photos in the panel. Photos has hidden this feature, most probably because it's expensive and uses more bandwidth. I wonder what the TOS has to say about bandwidth? Because all these cloud plans from all the companies (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud etc.) only specify storage space, but in web hosting, I'd say bandwidth is a more important parameter.

Anyway, Google is hiding this feature and may drop it at any moment. Just like Apple doesn't like you to use Photo Stream as photo storage. FOR NOW, right-click and "copy image URL" works. Here's a good page with more details, and how to dynamically resize the image:

What about on mobile though? I've found a longwinded way:
  • In the Google Photos app on iPhone, make a shared album and add all the photos you want to share into it (photos can be in more than 1 album)
  • Open that album's address in Chrome (there's a command to copy album link or something)
  • In Chrome, open the photo you want to get the address of. You should be seeing only this photo, not the album.
  • Request desktop site. The site doesn't seem to change.
  • Press and hold on the photo. Now you'll see the photo's address, and "Open Image". This is your final photo's address.
  • IMPORTANT: for privacy reasons, it seems you can't trace back the shared album with the individual image URLs. EXIF and geotag data seems to be removed.

Another step backwards is, there is no way to manually sort photos OR albums in Photos. No wait, it's worse. THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY to sort photos and albums. Photos seems to be sorted by date taken, and albums by newest photo. This one-size-fits-all mentality is really stupid.

15 April, 2016

iPhone Volume Controls

(I'm specifically calling this iPhone because I don't know if it applies to the iPad)

How many volume settings does the iPhone have? I'm positive of at least 3 independent ones, and maybe 3 more that may also be independent. This is important, e.g. so you don't silence your alarm.
  • Ringer - the most important one, also the one you change when you press the volume buttons when the phone isn't doing anything. The screen says "Ringer". Affects: calls, SMS, notifications, alarm clock. Silenced by silence switch, and partially silenced by DND mode EXCEPT THE ALARM CLOCK. Alarm clock still rings even if the phone is on silent or DND mode. Seems to be overridden if e.g. you're using an app that has sound, but you set the media volume (next one) to 0, then the ringer won't ring either.
  • Media (speaker) - for music, games and other apps through the speaker. This is the one you control in Control Center. Doesn't seem to be affected by silence switch. If you press the volume buttons when sound is playing through the speaker, this is the one you control, instead of the normal Ringer Volume. Seems like the 3rd party alarm apps I looked at use this volume.
  • Call volume - how loud people sound when you're using the speaker that requires you to hold your phone to your face.
Others, could be linked to the first 3:
  • Ringer/media/call (headphones) - I know Macs have separate volume settings for the speaker and headphones.
  • Ringer/media/call (Bluetooth) - both headset and A2DP (music playback) profiles
  • Call volume (apps) - some apps use the smaller speaker you use when you make calls (NOT speakerphone/music playback/ringing). WeChat even uses it for voice messages, so you can listen to them discreetly. I wonder if the volume for this is the same as call volume.
  • Speakerphone - is this a media or call volume?
  • Find My iPhone - supposed to be able to override some volume settings, is it then always max volume or is it controlled by something else?

06 April, 2016

FBI: Unlock this iPhone. Apple: No.

In February 2016, the FBI asked Apple to do.. something, to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist. Now what they actually want and their motives and the implications and all that is all very complicated and wrapped under layers of politics, legal ramifications and PR spin so I don't know what the truth is, much like the school clock bomber case. Only know this - Apple's motives aren't so altruistic, they're motivated by PR and profits as well. Or the massive leak of celebrity pictures a few years ago wouldn't have happened. But this is a huge issue, much like net neutrality (oh my, another can of worms).

Ok so what does the FBI want?
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.
This makes no sense to me. YOU CAN'T INSTALL/UPGRADE IOS ON A LOCKED PHONE! If you do, you'll lose the data anyway.
Also, why does the FBI need Apple's help with this specific phone anyway? They've broken into locked phones before - look at the Wikipedia article,
It was revealed as a part of the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden that the NSA and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had access to the user data in iPhones, BlackBerry, and Android phones and could read almost all smartphone information, including SMS, location, emails, and notes.
They eventually got into this one without Apple's help. Heck, just go to any phone repair shop and they can probably do it too. This isn't FBI-level difficulty. So what was the FBI asking for?
Also, ok - maybe they want an insecure iOS, for this and future cases, so they don't have to send 1 person to the mall for a day to unlock an iPhone. Why can't they write it themselves? Why do they need Apple to write it?

27 March, 2016

Security In Terms Of Delay

Consider the following:
  • Time lock safes
  • Passwords can be brute-forced, their strength is measured in time needed to brute-force
  • When you lose your key, you call a locksmith
  • Repeatedly entering the wrong password on some systems forces you to wait before you can try again
  • High security areas need to be checked regularly
I'm just thinking, we can express how secure something is by how much time it takes to break in. Adding security can be thought of as delaying break ins. Interval between security checks needs to be less than the time needed to break in.

Spring Theory

When I made my own fabric phone pouches, I used elastic to close the opening. Now, the problem with elastic is that it can only expand so much, meaning there's a minimum length/size you have to use so that the opening can stretch to the size of the phone. This left a pretty big gap in the pouch, because the elastic couldn't contract to 0. Let's say the phone width is 10 cm, and 5 cm of elastic can stretch to 10 cm. This means if you sew a pouch with 5 cm of elastic, it'll barely fit the phone, but it'll leave a 5 cm hole. If you used less elastic, say 4 cm, the phone wouldn't fit. How can you increase the elasticity/flexibility/spring of a material, by design?

The alternative was to use drawstring, which didn't contract by itself, but you could pull it as closed as you wanted. I realised there's a trick to make elastic stretch more, and I'm sharing it here.

Normally people will sew a straight line of elastic in the direction they want to stretch: --------------
This is the simplest, most direct method. But as I tried to explain, it can only stretch so much.
The trick is to sew in a zig-zag: /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
By varying the angle and width/length of the zags, you can make it stretch as much as you want (at the cost of losing tension)

Basically this is how a coiled spring works. A straight wire will deform under tension or compression very easily, but the coil fits "more" wire in the same space, spreading out the deformation.

People already do this with solid springs:
This unibody carabiner designed for 3D-printing uses the flex of the material for the spring and gate. If the material were solid, either the gate would be too stiff, it would permanently deform once opened, or it would crack and fatigue quickly. By adding zig-zags, flexibility is greatly increased.

You've probably seen this on flexible toothbrushes:
From http://www.mariettadental.net/choosing-toothbrush-marietta-dental-advice/

The PB-9 Para-Biner has a similar spring:
But I don't think this is the same, as the bending isn't in the direction of the zig-zags.

What's my point? People have no idea how to make clips and they're paying way way too much for nothing. This can easily be solved with good design. Even the brittle 3D-printed steel can have flex, but the 3D printing resolution is too low to make good zig-zags.

Update: this titanium carabiner on Kickstarter has exactly what I'm talking about:
Grade 5 Titanium Carabiner with built-in Spring Mechanism
Naturally, I had to buy it. It wasn't that expensive, as Kickstarter carabiners go, and it was made by EDM, which is much more precise and gives cleaner cuts than the cheaper common waterjet. Here's mine:
It works beautifully when bent:

14 March, 2016

Things In 2016

FBI asks Apple to.. unlock an iPhone? Unsecure iOS? It's very confusing. I'm writing a post about it.

Terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium airport and metro
Terrorist bomb kills at least 70 in Lahore, Pakistan
Egyptair flight 181 hijacked. Passenger takes picture with hijacker. Hijacker had fake explosives and an issue with his ex-wife.
4-year-old girl beheaded in Taiwan, in broad daylight, in front of her mother
SMRT has fatal accident

Documents from Panamian law firm Mossack Fonesca leaked, exposing hidden assets of government leaders worldwide
PM Lee Hsien Loong and sister Dr Lee Wei Ling disagree on Lee Kwan Yew's commemorations
Death of Prince

4-year-old boy gets into enclosure of Harambe the gorilla in Cincinnati Zoo, officials shoot and kill the critically endangered ape. Of course people are split into approval and disapproval.
Japanese parents leave 7-year-old son in bear-infested forest as punishment, he gets lost for 6 nights. This is a bad month for parenting.

Death of Muhammad Ali
Alice Fong loses temper and rails at deaf and mute cleaner at JEM food court, then threatens to sue the internet
2-year-old boy snatched and killed by alligator in a lagoon near Disney World, Florida. What is happening to kids these days?
Shooting in gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 50 dead.
UK votes to leave the EU
SIA flight SQ368 to Milan turns back after 2 hours due to oil leak, lands at Changi Airport, then an engine catches fire.

28 June 2016 - Terrorist attack at Istanbul airport, Turkey. SIA flight SQ392 turns back 5 hours into its flight. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Atat%C3%BCrk_Airport_attack
15 July 2016 - Attempted coup in Turkey. SQ392 turns back AGAIN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Turkish_coup_d'%C3%A9tat_attempt

It's a bad time for lifts and escalators. I thought it was just China, but it's spreading to Singapore too. Compilation:
  • October 2015 - elderly woman's hand severed by lift in Singapore
  • March 2016 - lift at AMK shoots up 17 floors, trapping maid for >1 hour
  • May - man reverses wheelchair scooter out of lift, not noticing lift had stopped 15 cm above the floor, falls and hits head, dies
  • June - boy's toes caught in escalator at Toa Payoh interchange
  • June - 3-year-old boy's genitals caught in escalator in Malaysia
  • June - woman suffers spine fracture in 5th lift accident in 8 months in Singapore

It's also a bad time for parenting. Compilation:
  • March 2016 - 4-year-old girl beheaded in broad daylight in Taiwan
  • May - (U.S.) 4-year-old boy gets into gorilla enclosure, critically endangered gorilla shot dead
  • May - (Japan) 7-year-old boy abandoned by parents in forest containing bears
  • June - (U.S.) 2-year-old boy killed by alligator in Florida
  • June - (U.S.) Texas man leaves 6-month old (why isn't there a hyphen for month old but there is for year-old?) in hot car for 4 hours, then tries to save her - by placing her in the fridge
  • June - Singapore 2 y.o. abused to death
  • October 2015 Singapore - 3 month old Reyhana Qailah Mohamad Shiddiq had a broken skull, father admits to dropping her, and she dies in her father's care
  • August 2016 - (Japan) father stabs 12-year-old son to death for not studying
  • September - "Man found guilty of abusing his girlfriend's one-year-old baby, who suffered a broken skull"
  • September - "Malaysian toddler drowns in ditch after grandfather forgets about him"
  • September - "Baby allegedly left in car for 5 hours dies in Malaysia"

Famous people deaths:
  • Muhammad Ali
  • David Bowie
  • Alan Rickman
  • Gene Wilder
  • Prince 
  • Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej
  • Carrie Fisher

Controversy over SMRT sending trains back to China to repair cracks under warranty. Issues are why Hong Kong news reported this before local news and why the trains appeared to be secretly sent back.
Rise of scam calls in Singapore. What they do is a robot calls random numbers and plays a recorded Chinese message. It asks you to press a button to speak to someone, saving them man hours. These scams usually claim you have an illegal package of passports or credit cards, playing on people's fear of the law. THEY ASK YOU NOT TO TELL ANYONE! THIS IS A HUGE SIGN! It's gotten so bad that several banks and remittance companies have recognised the behaviour and actually preventing people from sending money to these scams.
NUS suspends orientation activities after complaints of raunchy games. Haha

Terror attacks:
Terrorist drives truck into crowd in Nice
Shooting in Munich shopping centre
Axe attack on a train in Wuerzburg, Germany
Machete attack in Germany
Bomb attack in Ansbach, Germany

Rio Olympics, Singapore wins first gold medal ever
Spread of Zika in Singapore
In May, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had a stroke. In August, PM Lee collapses during live National Day Rally.
Pokemon Go craze in Singapore

19 August - Samsung Note 7 released. 31 August - reports of batteries exploding. 12 September - first recall. 4 October - recalled phones begin to explode. 11 October - Samsung kills the Note 7.

Protests in South Korea against president Park Geun-hye, said to be influenced by and sharing national secrets with a cult. December - she is impeached

Trump elected next US president
Interference of unknown origin disrupts signals between MRT trains on the Circle Line, from September to November. It gets so bad they actually shut down mobile phone services in some tunnels on 2 September, then again on 3 and 4 November. In November they finally determined the source to be a rogue train number 46.
9 Singapore Armed Forces Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles are seized in Hong Kong on 23 Nov 16, on the way back to Singapore from training in Taiwan. As of 6 Dec there was still no official reason given.


Levels Of "Offness"

This was inspired by a conspiracy theory that our phones are spying on us, sending what they hear all the time, even when off. Now this would be obvious from the battery consumption, but it got me thinking: when is a phone really off? Usually not when you think. Now, in order:
  • Blended, burnt, destroyed
  • Battery removed - you'd think this was totally off, but most phones can keep the time without the battery, at least for a few minutes. I wonder if they just remember the time the battery was removed (which doesn't require power), or they actually have a working clock and some form of power besides the battery
  • Switched off, battery in. In this state, the radios and sensors are off, but some phones can still turn themselves on to sound alarms. This means they must be monitoring the time.
  • Switched on, "locked"/"standby". This is the state phones are in most of the time. The screen is off, but the phone is connected to the network and can receive calls (data in the case of smartphones). Other levels of activity vary (it may be playing music).
  • ON - screen is on, it may be processing something, in a call, etc. Most "active" state.

28 January, 2016

Tiffany T Wire Bracelet

Insider tip: they said "bracelet" refers more to the flexible chain type, and "bangle" is the hard type. I'm only talking about the hard types here, using both "bracelet" and "bangle".

There are 3 thicknesses. The 2 thinner ones flex. The thickest one has a hinge.

Narrow (thinnest one), small, white gold: SGD1850
Medium, small, white gold: SGD2500
The flexible one with diamonds (I think there may be another one with hinge and diamonds): SGD5000

There's a sterling silver one that isn't available in Singapore.

Sterling silver single infinity bangle: SGD655
Sterling silver double infinity bangle: SGD815

28 December, 2015

Nike Air Zoom Structure 18

I never paid much attention to shoes, but I just got these:
Lots of better pictures out there, so I won't compete.

  • Why is there a Texas shape on the front?
  • I never noticed shoes had well-defined names and release cycles, like, say, iPhones. They say this is the 18th year of this series. I guess it's not surprising, since they put so much effort and research and marketing into these models, I just never thought about it. I wonder if branded clothes have proper names or just article numbers.
  • I just started noticing shoes have started coming in different styles like barefoot, neutral, extra support, etc. I'm pretty sure it's a new trend, but apparently this is its 18th year so I don't know where I've been.
  • Catering to different feet is great. I should pay more attention to the fit of shoes. Previously my requirements were: loop on the tongue for laces to pass through to hold it in place, and a loop at the back to help pulling the shoe on. None of which this has by the way.
  • Queensway is for real. I knew they sold cheap shoes, but I thought they only had older stock. Nope. You can expect 30% off the normal price, that's like saving 50 bucks for these. It was very crowded for an old, out-of-the-way shopping centre that only sold shoes too. Oh and they also sell Casio G-Shock and Baby-G watches for about 20% off.
  • The trend in Nike shoes now is Flyknit. On paper it sounds great. A seamless, single-piece of fabric that can have tailored density and elasticity in different areas, like unibody for shoes. Less waste during manufacturing. But, they're SO UGLY. Flyknits have a face only a mother, or obsessive blogger, could love. They look like my old sofa's covering. On another note, you'd think variable density was a job for 3D printing, but very mature technologies like weaving and knitting can do it too. Looks like 3D printing has a lot of stiff competition.

I love this review:
for its technical details like the types of foams used.

Delete Photos From Camera Roll But Leave Them On Photostream

Also seen on Google as "delete from camera roll but not photostream". I looked through the hits from 2015 but nobody had a solution. I found one! First, a rant: iOS is doing down the drain. It's sad to see this once shining OS become a buggy mess. Apple is going the way of Nokia if they don't buck up. What's the difference between Photostream and iCloud photo whatever? How do you keep photos organised between multiple devices and the cloud? Why on earth can't you change the default notification sound, and how do they expect this to work in a household with multiple iPhones? It's as though Apple doesn't use its own products. But it's still better than Android.

Soo I want my Camera Roll (CR) to be a "to save to computer" list, and leave things on Photostream (PS) until they expire, to share among my devices. Apple doesn't like that. Because PS has unlimited storage, they don't want to give it to you for free. To be on PS, it has to remain on the CR of the device where the photo was originally created. Deleting it from CR forces you to remove it from PS. Unless you do this.

If you connect an iPhone to a Windows computer, it shows up as a camera device, a bit like USB Mass Storage, but with limited functionality. Anyway, it lets you delete things from the iPhone using Windows Explorer. This removes them from CR. But leaves them on PS. That's it. DELETE YOUR PHOTOS USING WINDOWS EXPLORER AND THEY'LL DISAPPEAR FROM CAMERA ROLL, BUT REMAIN ON PHOTOSTREAM. WARNING this directly deletes your photos, they don't go to the recently deleted album.

Update 15 Apr 16
I found another method, since, you know, Apple doesn't like people using PS and they could "fix" this at any time. Use the app Google Photos (hoo boy, Picasa Web Albums, Google+ and Google Photos is another mess). Open a photo, tap the 3 dots in the top right, then "Delete device copy". This deletes from CR but leaves the PS copy PLUS it appears in the Recently Deleted, if you make a mistake. Something deleting using Windows doesn't do.

While I'm at it, what deleting/copying things from where does:
  • Delete from CR - removes from CR, puts in Recently Deleted. Removes from PS, EVEN WITHOUT WIFI
  • Delete from PS - leaves in CR
  • Save from PS to CR - doesn't create a second copy in PS. But if you delete the copy in CR, it deletes the original in PS too