28 September, 2017

Reminiscing 2

Reminiscing, 18 November 2011

  1. Wow, this blog is 8 years old
  2. The wave of nostalgia continues, greatly boosted by SG50. Now there are all kinds of products inspired by history, not just the 90s. I'm perfectly ok with reminiscing, but not with pretending like you're part of a secret club that turned out ok despite the trauma of growing up without the Internet.


I was thinking about this mini-game in a Sega Genesis game, where there are 5 vertical, straight, parallel, narrow islands and you pick 1. You walk up the island, and there are bridges randomly connecting adjacent islands. If you come to a bridge, you must cross it. It's a random chance way of picking a bonus prize, like drawing lots. Read the Wikipedia article, it's got a better description.

Anyway the Genesis game is very old and I thought it was pretty small and unknown, but I still found it. It's called Magical Hat no Buttobi Tabo! Daiboken. Aah, this brings back memories.

22 September, 2017

Things In 2017, Part 2

  • Lee Hsien Loong has public disagreement with siblings over Lee Kwan Yew's Oxley Road house 

  • SMRT delays on 17 Aug evening and 18 Aug morning 
  • US protests by nazis? racist somethings? counter protests? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite_the_Right_rally and removal of Civil War statues 
  • Total solar eclipse over a large region of the US 
  • Hurricane Harvey, biggest hurricane in the US in 12 years, mainly in Texas
  • North Korea launches missiles over Japan on 29 August and 15 September

US Ship Collisions 


  • Gunman kills 60 and injures 500 in Las Vegas


Fractions Of Petroleum

I see that a lot of petroleum products are just mixtures based solely on molecular weight, nothing else. It's weird, right, petroleum is a multi-billion dollar industry and I can't find such a complete list of petroleum products, by increasing molecular weight, that contains terms used in different countries, that I had to make my own:
  1. Liquefied petroleum gas 
  2. Naphtha  (5-12 carbon atoms)
  3. Petrol/gasoline (5-8 carbon atoms)
  4. White spirit/mineral spirits/mineral turpentine/petroleum spirits (7-12 carbon atoms)
  5. Kerosene/paraffin/lamp oil (6-16 carbon atoms)
  6. Diesel (8-21 carbon atoms)
  7. Mineral oil/paraffin oil/liquid paraffin
  8. Petroleum jelly/Vaseline
  9. Paraffin wax (20-40 carbon atoms)
  10. Fuel oil
  11. Asphalt/bitumen/tar 

https://chem.libretexts.org/?title=LibreTexts/Sonoma_State_University/SSU_Chem_335A/Material_for_Exam_2/Unit_3:_Organic_Compounds:_Alkanes_%26_Their_Stereochemistry/3.8_Gasoline:_A_Deeper_Look has a good general classification:
  • 1-4 carbon atoms - gases
  • 5-10 - naphthas 
  • 10-16 - kerosenes
  • 16-60 - gas oils
  • >60 - lubricants
  • >70 - fuel oil
  • >80 - asphalt 

29 August, 2017

Types Of Memory

No, I'm not talking long term and short term, which seems to be the only differentiation.
It seems there are a few kinds of memory. At different times, some kinds are better than others. Here are some kinds I mean:

Self-Triggering / Reminders
Remember to do X when A happens. Siri, remind me to email Alex when I get home.

ToDo / Train Of Thought
Things I'm going to do next. Not so much a list as your next objective. What did I come into this room for? http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160307-why-does-walking-through-doorways-make-us-forget
For me, most commonly it's when I'm browsing something, I'll think "shop for X next" or "visit website Y next", then a moment later I can't remember what I was going to do.
This is the kind of memory I seem to have problems with the most, or the first kind to have problems.
Might also be related to the nagging feeling that you're forgetting something. This could be due to you really forgetting, or actually not having forgotten anything ,just having problems clearing the reminder in your brain.

Speaking of lists, I wonder if they're another type of memory. Certainly memorising lists uses a different kind of memory.

Tip Of The Tongue / Vocab
Inability/difficulty to recall the word of choice.

Did I lock the door? Turn off the tap?
There are stretches of our experience that simply aren't recorded.

Cyclic Culture

"Life is a dream" movies
  • The Matrix, 1999
  • Inception, 2010

Songs about Superman
  • Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down, 2000
  • Superman by Five For Fighting, 2001
  • Waiting For Superman by Daughtry, 2013

The Way I Are
  • by Timbaland, 2007
  • by Bebe Rexha, 2017

Superman, Batman etc. movie reboots

09 August, 2017

Pattern Names

It's hard to search for something you don't know the name of, like instrumental songs or these (usually fabric) patterns.

Also known as the pattern on Pizza Hut tablecloths


It's a popular Japanese pattern, with triangular symmetry, said to be based on the hemp leaf.

30 June, 2017

Credit Cards In Singapore

  • 8% off dining (Citibank)
  • 6% off dining (OCBC)
  • 8% off groceries (Citibank)
  • 3% off everything! (UOB)
  • 1.5% off EVERYTHING! (Amex)
There are a few (advertisement-driven) sites comparing Singaporean credit cards. And indeed, there are some nice-sounding offers. But none of them tell you this. $75. That's the magic number. $75 is the most you'll get back from every card every month. It doesn't matter what they offer, 3% cashback or 8% or even 100%. In all their terms and conditions, it's all limited to $75 a month.

"Oh what about Amex? They say they have unlimited cashback" Well they use a sneaky trick. Tell me, what's the usual credit limit? 2-3× your salary, right? What's your credit limit on Amex? Well it's conveniently so that if you use it all up, your rebate is $75. What a coincidence!

24 June, 2017

Alarm Clocks

I really want an alarm clock that tells you "alarm set for x hours from now" whenever you set an alarm.
  • I don't want sleep analysis of times, sounds or movements
  • I don't want to be woken during light sleep within a period of time
  • I don't want a reminder of when to sleep
  • I don't want night/yellow light modes
  • I don't want fancy sounds, weather or news reports 

Unfortunately although Apple has run out of ideas and is poorly implementing whatever they can think of (
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7668973?start=15&tstart=0) at the cost of good design (forcing the clock app to night mode). They haven't thought of this. 

And I had a look at 3rd-party alarm clocks, this feature also isn't very common. But it looks like even for apps that have it, they're a poor replacement for the iOS clock, because they can't override the silent switch, and maybe even Do Not Disturb. Also running in the background severely restricts their notifications. 
If I have to leave sounds on, what do I even need an alarm for? 

BlogTouch (Blogspot/Blogger app)

It's 2017, there's MORE social media available on mobile than on web browsers, but blogspot has been abandoned by google or something. I'm testing BlogTouch, a 3rd-party app that lets you post to blogspot blogs. It shouldn't be so hard!
  • Needs better previews 

09 May, 2017


Klik Belt
lol what? "Horrible design. Huge disappointment." https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1IBQEIF7Q2S2R/
You have to remove the buckle to put on and take off the belt. What terrible design is this? It also loosens by itself. What? Seriously? This is a worse belt than a piece of string.

Carbon Tactics' Cinchy
Originally a Kickstarter project https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/520589318/cinchy-20-carbon-fiber-belt-system
Now regularly shows up on Massdrop https://www.massdrop.com/buy/carbon-tactics-cinchy-cti
Very simple design, basically just a solid monolithic buckle. Unfortunately it seems the strap is too stiff and uncomfortable: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/carbon-tactics-cinchy-cti/talk/588858

Like the Cinchy, just a strap with a solid-state buckle. No one's mentioned this, but it also looks difficult to tighten. You know how all other belts have the excess belt on the outside so you can easily tug on it to tighten your belt? Yeah this belt has it on the inside, between you and the rest of the belt. It looks nice and seamless on the outside, but hope you have a strong pinch.

Update 24 Jun 17
New belt on Kickstarter by Carbon Tactics:
I'm backing this one since it seems to solve the problems of the Cinchy and Grip6. The buckle hooks onto a loop at the end of the belt, and you only need to move the buckle when adjusting the belt size. It saves your position. 

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
11-year-old Johor boy, Mohamad Thaqif Amin, beaten in school, gets infection, has legs amputated, dies

Singaporean Mr Jimi Cheong, on holiday with his family in Tokyo, has cardiac arrest while in Tokyo, needs $120,000 for medical fees and $120,000 for medical evacuation, which is raised by his family through crowdfunding. Unfortunately he died soon after arrival in Singapore.
"Ransomware" attacks, mostly in hospitals in England. This is actually pretty smart and profitable - they encrypt your computer, holding your data hostage, and charge you to decrypt it.
Bombing at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 23
Indian Actor Shrey Bhargava complains about Ah Boys To Men 4 audition after being asked to portray an Indian caricature. There is support on both sides - freedom of caricature, caricature isn't real, vs. racism, humour at the expense of others etc.
Clash between militants and security forces in Marawi, southern Philippines

Lone gunman attacks Resorts World Manila casino
Huge fire in Grenfell Tower apartment, London, killing at least 80. Said to be due to cladding on the outside to approve appearance, just applied last year.
Lots of delays on Singapore's train system during peak hours, because they're testing the signalling system, which has to be done during rush hour.

Vehicular Attacks
  • March, London
  • April, Sweden - 4 dead
  • May, Times Square - lone military veteran drives car into crowd at Times Square, killing 1.
  • June, London. Vehicle and knife attacks. This is the 3rd attack in the UK this year.
  • August, Barcelona 

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.