Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Double strollers: What are your choices?

This is not a review of double strollers but rather a guide on how to shop for one which gives you the most bang for your buck.

I am expecting a second child so I started looking for double strollers and one thing that is common of all double strollers is that they are expensive.

There are a lot available here locally. Brands like Peg-Prego, Quinny, Stokke etc are aplenty but when you look beyond that, you will see how we are actually being restricted to just a small pool of them as compared to what is available out there overseas.

If you cannot find anything you like locally, then you have to consider ordering one in. Even if what you like is available locally, ordering them in can actually save you a bit, maybe even up to 1/2 the cost. For example, the Phil&Teds Navigator is selling around $1.6k in an online store here. You can ship one in for $800.

Facts about ordering online.

1. It will definitely be cheaper ordering them from the source or origin of the manufacturer. For example, Graco, which made in US will be cheaper if you order them from there.

2. Many online stores do not ship them internationally which can be frustrating as some of them have really good deals. Try browsing through Tesco and you'll get what I mean.

3. Shipping rates can balloon up the total cost making them more expensive than local set.

4. Practically no warranty.

5. GST will be levied on orders exceeding SGD400 in total, including shipping etc.

So how you do know if it is worth it to buy from overseas and where do you start shopping?

The first thing you should do is find the origin of the manufacturer. For example, Jane (pronounced Ha-ne) is  from Spain and Hauck is from Germany. Do take note that almost everything is made in China though.

Once you find that out, you can start to find online stores from that country. If you have no clue whatsoever, two best source that I can think of is Amazon and eBay.

For eBay, if the manufacturer is from a European country, go to eBay UK. From there make sure you choose the option "European Union" in your location filter. This will include all the available items by sellers in Europe. It is easier this way than shopping at the localised site itself as everything will be in English.

If the seller in eBay do not specifically state that they can ship internationally, you can try to contact the seller and ask if they can ship the items here and what rates will be like.

If you know someone living abroad, you can have your item delivered to them (as shipping is normally free to the same country) and ask for a favour to have them ship the item over. However, from my experience, this normally cost more but still, do make the comparison with shipping them directly.

Some sellers have their own website outside eBay. If they do, you can ask them directly, out of eBay. The reason why is because in eBay, they will not be able to exclude the VAT from the price (which can be as much as 19% in Europe and 20% in the UK) if the item is not shipped to a European destination. So if the item cost 300€, you will save about 50€, which is about SGD$80.

As mentioned, shipping can negate all the cost savings, so make sure you get the correct shipping rates and factor that in your final cost.

Some stores accepts payment by PayPal which can be a good thing as they provide buyer protection in the event the item was not delivered or different from what is described. Sellers or stores may also give you further discount if your make the payment through PayPal. Just take note that when paying through PayPal, change the conversion option from PayPal to Mastercard/Visa. PayPay conversion option will usually end up higher.

You may also want to buy insurance for your purchase. All costs needs to be totalled up and once that is confirmed, convert them to SGD (include another 7% (in SGD) for orders about SGD$400 as levied by the ICA. Payment of the GST can be found here) and compare the cost with the ones available locally to see if it is cheaper.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Proposal for HDB to revert back to queue system

This is a proposal to HDB to revert back to the queue system instead of the current balloting system for the sale of flats.

Current balloting system has been a source of consternation among buyers for the lack of transparency and unpredictability. There are many cases where applicants were not successful even after many attempts. Having more chances is negated as balloting is still dependent on the luck factor.

QUEUE NUMBER SYSTEM

1. To kick start the queue system again, interested parties will have to register with HDB within a stipulated period of time for the initial phase of queue number allocation.

2. After the cut off date of the initial phase, all registrants will be put to a ballot where a queue number will be permanently assigned to them.

3. Those who registered after the initial phase will be assigned a permanent queue number based on the first come first serve basis.

4. Registrants with a queue numbers can opt to participate in any future sales launch where priority is given based on the queue number.

5. Registrant who do not participate in a sales launch will automatically move up the priority list for the next launch, based on his queue number.

6. Queue number can be revoked if chances to book a unit are not accepted.

7. Those who had their queue number revoked will need to register for a new queue number and join at the back of the queue.


SALES LAUNCH

1. When there is a sales launch, all applicants with a queue number can register their interest within a stipulated period of time.

2. After the registration cut off date, HDB will publish the list of applicants who registered in order of their queue number and demarcate those who has 100% chances of getting a unit (based on number of available unit) and those who do not.

For eg,

Available number of unit - 10
Registered applicants (in order of queue number) - 1, 3,4,5,6,8,10,11,12,15,16,17,19
Group A (applicants with 100% chances) - 1,3,4,5,6,8,10,11,12,15
Group B (applicants on waiting list) - 16,17,19

3. Applicants in Group A can choose their unit and priority will be given based on their queue number.

4. Applicants in Group A who do not book a unit at the end of the exercise will have his queue number revoked.

5. Once the list has been published and registered applicants informed accordingly of their grouping, another stipulated period of time will be given to those in Group A to book a unit.

6. Number of applicants to be placed in Group B can be fined tuned based on statistics.

7. Applicants in Group B has to the choice to opt out of this exercise at this point of time and still retain their their queue number.


SELECTION PROCESS

1. Selection process will continue as it is now

2. Any applicant who choose not to select a unit after he have accepted the offer to select will have his queue number

3. Available flat can then be offered to those on the waiting list.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Natural way to cure kidney stones

Just would like to share my experience as someone who had kidney stones.

First of all, a brief recap.

I had a horrible pain on my right lower back about a year ago. It was so bad I was on all fours and almost tearing. I had my wife rub Cajuput oil which did provide some relief before the pain goes away. It happened few times before I decided to see a doctor. He diagnosed that I had kidney stones by doing a simple test of punching my right middle back with moderate force which send me almost screaming in pain.

I was referred to a urologist who ordered an X-ray on me and confirmed a stone in my right kidney. I was scheduled for a lithotripsy procedure but did not go through it I experienced no more pain until recently, which is about a year later.

This time, I had difficulty and discomfort when peeing. I also experienced random sudden sharp pain in my right groin area. The doctor made a similar diagnosis and the urologist confirmed after an X-ray that the stone has gone down to my bladder and just at the end of the urethra. I was scheduled for a scope the next day where I will be put on general anesthesia and they will try to crush the stone by sticking a uretaroscope up my urethra (ouch!). However, when I got back home, I managed to purge it out without even realising it along with all the excruciating pain.

Before I go into how I managed to purge the stone out, I would like to list out some of the early painless symptoms I can recall.

1. The need to urinate more often than usual even though water intake regime do not change.
2. Unable to completely discharge urine. There will still be droplets leaking after you have zipped up.
3. Pinkish, thicker or cloudier than usual urine (abnormal colour)

All the above are sign of urinary disorder. For males, the most common reason for having a disorder is either due to STD or kidney stones.

If you really have kidney stones, you may experience some of the infamous excruciating pain such as

1. If you have belly and/or side back pain, you may have kidney stones in your kidney.
2. If you experience sharp pain in your groin, you may have stones in your ureter making its way down to your bladder
3. If you feel horrible burning sensation at the start and the end of your pee, you may have stones in your bladder.

All the above may be accompanied with chills, fever, nausea or vomiting.

So what did I do to help me pee the stone out?

When I experienced the symptoms the second time, I drank a lot of citrus fruit drinks like lime, lemon, all types of berries, grapefruit, orange etc on a daily basis, hoping that it will help by either making the pain go away and eventually peeing it out. However, after about a month, I gave up to the pain and made an appointment with a urologist.

After I got back from seeing my urologist, I decided to give it one last attempt to try to purge the stone naturally. I squeezed all the juice out of a lemon and drank it as it is. I then drink at least two cups of pure grapefruit juice from Natural Florida. After that I drank as much water as my stomach can take.

As expected, after a while, my body reacted and signaled the need for me to urinate. As I was tired of going in and out of the bathroom just to painfully expel just a small amount of urine at a time, I sat on the water closet and urinate as and when it felt like it. As I was sitting down, I had to hold my penis to point it downwards so my pee will go into the bowl.

It was the third or fourth time I had to urinate with so much pain that I suddenly feel that my pee just gush out  and it was not painful. It was then that I realised I actually peed the stone out. I fished the stone out of the bowl. and there it was this coral like stone measuring 12mm x 6mm.

While I do not know what actually help me to purge the stone out, I believe the grapefruit helped a lot and here's why.

Potassium citrate helps to dissolve the stones and according to this NCBI article, grapefruit has the highest citrate content. A separate study also concluded that grapefruit actually helps.

However, other websites says grapefruit increases the risk of kidney stones, so it is best to check with your urologist as there are many types of stones and not all react the same towards to citrate. Also, some may not be able to handled high level of citrate in their stomach.

Hopefully this article will be of help to anyone out there suffering just like I did. If you experienced any  urinary disorder, try increasing your water intake. And if it still do not go away, it is best to have it checked out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SMRT Mandarin station name announcements

I emailed LTA the following on the 16th of November this year

I took the North South Line today and noticed the bilingual announcements made in English as well as Mandarin each time the train approached a station. I would like to question the rationale for this change. 
Who are the targeted commuters of this new change? As far as I know, Singapore's main education and working medium is in English, and primary education is compulsory, therefore it is impossible that locals do not understand the simple English announcements that has been used since the day our trains start operating. 
If the targeted commuters are the older generation of locals who may not understand English, why was this change not done earlier? It it impossible that they lose their grasp of English as they grow older. It is also impossible that this change was not technologically possible before this. 
If the targeted commuters for this change are for the foreign workers and new citizens, are the figures that huge that it warrants this change? In that case, what are the figures like and are their understanding of English that bad that they do not understand simple English, like station names? 
Also, why are only the Chinese foreigners and new citizens being accommodated? Why not Telugu or Hindustan to accommodate those from India as well as Vietnamese, Tagalog and Thai? 
Appreciate a response.

And this is their reply, 11 days later.

Our Ref : LTA/VTL/PTR/TR/F20.000.000/4139
Date       : 26-NOV-2012
Tel         : 6553 5955
Fax        : 6553 5279

Dear Sir,   
SMRT Announcement
FEEDBACK NUMBER: 20121116-0348

We refer to your email of 16 November 2012.

We will like to share that the move to have the names of stations announced in Mandarin is part of a trial by SMRT which was implemented recently. As they have regularly received public feedback and suggestions to announce station names in Mandarin, they decided to adopt commuters' recommendations as it is a service improvement that would benefit passengers who rely on announcements during their journey.

SMRT have taken into consideration the request for the announcement of station names to be in the four official languages of Singapore, namely, English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. During their review, they found that the pronunciation for most station names, with the exception of Mandarin, sound similar when pronounced in English, Malay or Tamil.

We acknowledge the concern for announcements to be made in multiple languages and we will keep this in mind during future review.

Yours sincerely,

WONG HSIEN HAN
ASST MGR, MAINTENANCE
TRANSIT REGULATION

Sunday, November 25, 2012

HDB: Jan 2013 BTO pre-launch analysis

HDB has released information on the upoming Jan 2013 BTO.

For Ang Mo Kio BTO, it is near the confirmed future Mayflower MRT station of the Thomson Line

For Choa Chua Kang BTO, it is near the possible future Brickland MRT station of the North South Line.


The rest of the BTOs are far from any MRT Stations although they have some other attributes that may be attractive to buyers

For example the Hougang BTO is near the riverside and facing the Punggol Park so some units will have good unblock views. It is actually on the fringes of Sengkang and very near the KPE.

Yishun BTO is also near Orchid Country Club therefore some units will have good unblocked views too.

Tampines BTO is far from most except for Tampines Ave 10 which makes getting to the PIE and TPE easier.

Kallang/Whampoa is not near any MRT stations as well. Both the NSL and NEL are just as far. However it may be attractive to those who prefer staying near town.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Renovation: HDB Household Shelters

Nobody wants it and everybody hates it but like it or not, all HDB BTO flats will come with a household shelter. Only question is what can you do with it now that you are stuck with this so called wasted space as it cannot be hacked away?

Depending on where the location of the shelter is, it can actually serve some useful purpose. Below list out all the possible use of the space.

Location - near main door entrance.

You can turn the household shelter into a closet where you store all the footwear,  jackets, bags, umbrellas and all the things you often use when you step out of the house.

If you have kids, this can also be a good place to store the stroller(s) as well.

If your unit is small, then having a few spare fordable chairs will come in handy when you have a gathering. The chairs can be hung up nicely in the closet until there is a need for them.

Location - along the walkway to the rooms



Even though there is already a service yard, that area will most probably be wet making it not suitable to iron your clothes. So turning the household shelter into a central dry utility room would be practical especially if you have grown up kids who do their own ironing. With a central dry utility room, you do not have to bring the iron and ironing board in and out from room to room each time someone needs to use them or each room having their own iron and ironing board.

You can also store items like bedding, sheets, towels, pillow cases or even winter wears. Practically anything related to fabric. This saves you the precious space you have in your closet with the ever decreasing size of the rooms.

If you have babies, this will be a good place too to store stock of diapers and what not for those who like to buy in bulk.

Ikea's Gorm storage solution are cost effective for this purpose, as shown below.

Picture courtesy of loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.sg

Location - kitchen

Obviously, the best use of this space is to turn it into a pantry for all those things that you do not actually need to store in the kitchen cabinet itself. This includes stocks of canned/boxed/bottled food, packs of rice, garlic, onions etc. It is a life saver especially if your kitchen is small where it is not possible to have a big kitchen cabinet. It also helps to keep those things away and not spoil the look of your nifty kitchen.

Again, Ikea Gorm is suitable for you to create yourself a pantry





To store or not to store?

At the end of it all, what matters is how you use the space. Keeping it clean, tidy and organised is what actually counts. Don't treat the space as a dumping ground to store stuff for dust to settle.

On a side note, how do you know if the things you keep are a necessity? When it has never been used for more than a year, it most likely never will. Having an annual spring cleaning, normally before a festive season is a good way to throw unused junk out of your storage space.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Adult acne

I am not an expert but I just want to share my experience with whoever is facing it right now because it can really be demoralizing and a cause of low self-confidence and not to mention lots of sleepless nights

Just a short history. Throughout my teenage years, I had flawless skin. Then in my early to mid 20s, I had some small bumps here and there. I assumed it was because I rode a bike then. I guess my skin is a little more sensitive than most so the dust, the exhaust fumes etc on the roads clogged up my pores and resulted in pimples. I was a lazy guy who don't bother about my skin so much so it kind of served me right. Still it was manageable and nothing that affected me that much.

It was only in my late 20s that I experience an acne outbreak. It was really that bad that my face was full of big, red and painful pimples. Forget about looking bad, the pain from the breakouts itself can get really unbearable. I cannot forget how often I had to change my pillow covers because I'll wake up most mornings with them blood stained unless I sleep on my back all night. It is also a must to have tissues all the time because the pimples can just pop anytime and blood will ooze out. It was that bad. Did I felt like crap? I sure did.

Not to scare anyone out there but adult acne can happen to anybody for many reasons. So if you have flawless skin, be thankful and take care of it.

So back to me, my face now is way better. I still get approached by those skin care specialists each time I pass by them at the stores. I know it isn't perfect now but they do not know how glad I am that I cleared the worst stage of it. Sometimes when I see those with similar condition as I used to have, I feel like telling them how I managed to clear mine but then, I wouldn't like if a stranger does that to me too.

So let's get into the reason why pimples pop out. To the best of my understanding, this is how it goes.

Our face cannot be too dry. When that happens, our natural body mechanism will react and produce oil (sebum) to moisturise our skin. That is why sometimes your skin is oily. It's normal and it is not because you ate too much of this or that. The oil is produced because it had too. However, some people produce more than others.

Now, the problem occurs when too much of it is produced. The oil itself is not the actual problem. Problem is when there is too much it, the chances of your face trapping dirt is higher. Since you face is sticky with oil, dirt will stay put. If you do not clean your face fast enough, dirt can get trapped in your skin pores. When that happens, the oil produced through the pores will have no where to go and this is the reason why bumps appear. The bumps are actually accumulation of dirt and oil. If not rectified, it can be infected with bacteria and resulting in pimples.

Some think that because their face is oily all the time, washing often is good. It's not. The more often you wash your face, the more it will react. Dry skin, more oil. It does not solve anything. In fact it can get worse, with your face thinking it's too dry most of the time.

Key to maintaining an oil free skin is to prevent the oil from being produced too much and at the same time maintain the level of moisture in your skin. Face not dry, less oil. It is as simple as that.

So the first thing is to get a cleanser that do not dry your skin too much. For this, you have to try out and find the one that works for you. God knows how many I have tried and finally got one that works for me. Then get face moisturizer that will fool your skin and stop it from producing oil. What you get is moisturised skin and less oil. That itself will slowly help in preventing breakouts.

Drinking a lot of water helps too. How to know if you lack of it? See your lips. If they are dry, then chances are your face is dry too. Remember, dry face, more oil. Your face don't feel dry don't mean you are hydrated. It could be that is it covered with oil!

For those with really bad acne eg vulgaris, you will need special medication that will kill the germs residing under your skin, so see a doc. Try not to get them to prescribe you with medication that you need to take orally but rather those that can be applied externally. Oral medication usually have side effects, sometimes long term and irreversible. My doc prescribe me a lotion called Aknemycin which I applied twice a day. It dries up the skin (it had to, to kill of the germs) so you have to avoid the sun because it prevents oil from being produced too. Dry skin out in the sun is bad. If you work out in the sun, then use it only when you go to sleep. After about 4 months of usage, without fail, my big, red, painful acne are gone.

Now I am left with scars which possibly can be repaired with other form of face lotions. So far I have not found any that suit my skin, even after spending a lot.

For my daily face wash, I use T3 Acne Care Cleanser. It don't dry up my face too much. I wash my face twice a day. Once when I wake up and once before I go to bed. For those pimples that come and go, I use T3 Pimple Gel 1st Outbreak. Two days and it's gone. Other pimple gel simply don't work.

Like I said, try everything and stick to the one that works for you. Some get rid of the pimples but leave your face sore. Those are bad. I don't use moisturiser anymore but I do keep a pack of blotting sheets all the time to wipe oil off my face. I try to drink lots of water, especially in the morning. Two big glasses of them.

So if you have a similar problem, there is something you can do about it. You just need to work hard finding the right products for you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

HDB Loan Calculator

This file does a pretty accurate calculation of your HDB Loan, provided you key in the correct information in the blue cells. If you have not obtained your HLE, assume the full amount for the moment.

HDB LOAN CALCULATOR - DOWNLOAD

Take note that the maximum loan period is 25 years or until you are reach 65 of age, whichever is lesser.

The interest rate is based on the current concessionary rate of 2.6%. This rate is adjusted every quarterly, in January, April, July and October each year. Current HDB market interest rate is actually 3.38%

The file gives you 4 options

1. Calculate by loan period with a maximum of $40,000 (combined) parked in CPF-OA
2. Calculate by loan period without any amount parked in CPF-OA
3. Calculate by desired monthly payments with a maximum of $40,000 (combined) parked in CPF-OA
4. Calculate by desired monthly payments without any amount parked in CPF-OA.

You can choose to see either with maximum $40,000 (combined) parked in CPF-OA or without for the loan breakdown.


MAXIMUM OF $40,000 (COMBINED) IN CPF-OA

The option of having a maximum of $40,000 (combined) parked in CPF-OA is included because the first $20,000 in each individual CPF-OA earns extra interest of 1% making it a total of 3.5%, which is higher than HDB 2.6% interest rate. It means you are better off keeping that amount to earn that extra interest, if you can afford to*. Look at the calculated actual interest paid to make the comparison of having any amount parked or not.

Although the extra 1% interest goes into your Special Account and you will not be able to use it for other purpose except for retirement, it goes into meeting your Minimum Sum later on when you retire. That means, there is more of your Ordinary Account to draw out from when you reach the age of 55.

Having a maximum of $20,000 in your own CPF-OA on standby will also come in handy if you are unable to service your mortgage when there are no contributions to your CPF-OA for a period of time due to lost of income etc. The number of months that amount can help you out will be

Amount parked / monthly installment = number of months you are covered


MAXING OUT MONTHLY INSTALLMENT USING CPF-OA CONTRIBUTION

To know if you need to top up in cash on top of your monthly CPF-OA contribution to pay for your monthly installment, take note of the table below. All you need to concentrate on is the amount credited into your Ordinary Account (as highlighted in blue). If the amount is lesser than your calculated monthly installment, it means you have to top up the difference in cash.

Take note the percentage decreases as you grow older so if your income do not increase as you age, it means you have to top up more after every stage in the table. So take note if you plan to max out your monthly installment using your monthly CPF-OA contribution.

The file provides an estimate of the monthly cash top up that you may need to make.

Employee
Age (Years)
Contribution Rate
(for monthly wages ≥ $1,500)
Credited into
Contribution by Employer
(% of
wage)
Contribution by Employee
(% of
wage)
Total Contribution
(% of wage)
Ordinary Account
(% of wage)
Special Account
(% of wage)
Medisave Account
(% of wage)
35 & below1620362367
Above 35-451620362178
Above 45-501620361989
Above 50-551418.532.513.59.59.5
Above 55-6010.51323.51229.5
Above 60-6577.514.53.51.59.5
Above 656.5511.5119.5

 If you are a first timer, you may not have the luxury of  maintaining any amount in your CPF-OA as it will be emptied when you apply for HDB loan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Simpang New Town

Looks like URA is finally going forward with the plans for Simpang New Town which was put on hold till Punggol New Town is fully developed. Since plans for Punggol have already been announced, Simpang development can finally start.

The area between Sembawang Road and Yishun Industrial Park A is already cordoned off to make way for upcoming HDB BTO projects. It remains to be seen whether HDB will group this BTO as part of Simpang or Sembawang.

Those who are planning to apply for new BTO in either Sembawang and Yishun can consider waiting till the next HDB sales launch as the November 2012 sales launch do not include this Simpang BTO in the list. One good reason is because a new MRT station between the current Yishun and Sembawang stations will be built. This will be the missing N12 in the current MRT stations map.

The location of the station will most likely be where Canberra Link, Yishun Ave 2 and Sungai Simpang Kiri intersect, right in front of the upcoming BTO, as that is the equal distance between NS11 and NS13 stations. 


Those staying along Yishun Ave 7 in condominiums like Yishun Sapphire, Yishun Emerald, Eight Couryards and One Canberra and HDB housing block 165 to 175 will also benefit.



Friday, October 12, 2012

Renovation: Water Heaters

Getting heated water to your bathrooms nowadays is easy and affordable, depending on your needs and which method you choose. Most common method is by simply installing a POU (point of use) instant heater and you'll be showering in heated water in no time. However, a POU instant heater can only supply heated water to a specific area (for example the shower area) and you'll need one for each bathroom. If you need heated water from your sink, you'll need a centralised heater as a POU heater cannot perform this function (which will be explained later). You will also need the appropriate piping which can be costly, depending on the type of house you have and of course mixer taps (with hot/cold water inlets) Newer HDB flats where the wiring and piping are concealed already has the necessary piping taken care of. Same goes with most condominiums and landed properties. For older HDB flats however, there are no other options but to lay additional piping for heated water coming from the heater. Unless you are a plumber or have the necessary tools, you'll almost certainly need to call one to do the job. Once the necessary piping is available, all you need to do is to install a centralised heater and you'll have heated water in shower area and from the sink. Contrary to popular belief, there is actually more than one type of central heaters you can opt for. Most commonly used are the storage heaters where it is basically a heater with a tank to hold the heated water. The other type is a tankless instant heater that heats the water up as you use it. If you are wondering if the tankless instant heater is similar to the POU instant heater, you are not far off. The working concept is similar - which is to heat the water as water flows through it. However, you cannot use a POU instant heater as a central one because the POU heater is activated when water flows into the heater while the centralised one is activated when water flows out. That means you will need an on/off tap to supply cold water to the heater while it gets heated up and out from a hose etc. You cannot re route the heated water to another tap as then you will have to turn on two taps which will make it ridiculous So which is a better solution? To tank or not to tank? A storage heater is normally bulky, therefore can be unsightly and is also inefficient as it 1. heats the water up even when not in used to maintain the water temperature. This means you have to turn it on all the time or have it turned on for some time beforehand to allow it to heat the water up. Obviously the latter is not convenient. 2. heats up the whole tank regardless of the amount you actually plan to use. 3. can run out of heated water if the supply in the tank runs low as you are using it. Think of the electric thermos and you’ll get the idea. A tankless heater on the other hand is way smaller, therefore not that unsightly, and more efficient as it is turned on only when being used. This means, you can turn the main switch off when you are not using it and back on when you need to. If you think that it is inconvenient, then you just leave it on and it will only consume energy for the LED indicators which is negligible. There are two types of tankless instant heaters - one is electric and the other is powered by gas. You can install the electric tankless heaters almost anywhere you want but for one powered by gas, it can only be installed in an open area like the service yard. This effectively makes the gas heater not an option if it needs to be installed in the bathroom. Even if it can, having to lay gas piping into the bathroom can be costly and unsightly and even be impossible, due to the location of the gas pipe and the bathroom.

If your service yard adjoins to your bathroom (where the central piping inlet is located), then you can install a gas central heater in the service yard and extend the hot water pipe to bathroom. You have to drill a hole though so be careful that you do not damage any concealed piping as the cost to repair it will be astronomical. You have to also lay gas piping to the service yard. Check out City Gas for their range of gas heaters.

If your service yard is not adjoined to your bathroom, then an electric tankless heaters is your best bet. One such example is the Bennington C600. It is small and considered affordable at approximately $280. 

Take note that a tankless central heater is not a perfect solution and here's why. For one, it is not absolutely instant. Depending on the location of the heater and the length of piping it has to go through before it reaches the outlet, there will be a delay. However, this applies to any centralised heaters as well. So if you have never used a centralised heater before, this is expected. You will also see a drop in the water pressure. For most cases, this should not be an issue as no one uses boiling water in huge flow unless they want to scald themselves. So most likely, after mixing with cold water, the pressure should be just right, at a temperature most people use to shower or wash up. However, if it is an issue for you, it can be easily remedied by changing the shower heads or installing water saving devices onto the tap which will increase the pressure accordingly. Though it may be an inconvenience and even additional investments, the savings (both electricity and water) later on should make up for it. Whichever type of heaters you decide on, you may want to have heated waters in the kitchen or even the service yard since you already have a centralised heater. However, as far as I know, HDB flats with concealed piping do not extend to the kitchen and service yard. In this case you have, again, three ways to go about it. 1. You can extend and lay additional piping from your central water heater to the kitchen. This option saves you the cost of another heater but make sure that
- the piping works does not cost more than the heater 
- piping works are not unsightly. 2. Another way is to install another heater near the outlet to minimise any exposed piping. If you only need heated water for the kitchen sink, you can actually install it under the sink as show below




A storage heater is too big in this case therefore only tankless heater is possible. Since gas tankless heater cannot be installed in confined spaces like the cabinet under the sink, an electric tankless heater is the only option. In this case, the Bennington C600 will again be suitable. Though it will cost you another initial investment, this can be justified if: 1. Additional piping will cost just as much 2. Additional piping cannot be concealed and will look unsightly. However, do take note that you may need to lay a new wiring to support a higher ampere rating depending on the heater you choose. The Bennington C600 on a 13A socket can only run at mid power (3kW). It runs at a max of 4.5kW and requires a 20A socket. All the above options depends on the cost and aesthetic results. So below is a summary of all the available type of heaters


Heater typeHeatingComments
Point of use (normally called 'instant heater')ElectricalPros: Simple to fix without the need for expensive piping
Cons: Needs one for every outlet
Centralised Storage (normally called 'storage heaters)ElectricalPros: No drop in water pressure
Cons: Bulky, inefficient power usage and not on-demand.
Centralised Tankless (or called multipoint heaters')ElectricalPros: Small, efficient, available on-demand
Cons: Drop in water pressure
Centralised Tankless (normally called 'gas heaters')GasPros: Similar to its electrical cousin.
Cons: Similar to its electrical cousin. May need to connect to an electrical point for ignition. Can only be installed in a non confined space. Additional gas piping required.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Government is studying calls for change in parent's tax relief.


So they do take feedback seriously.

http://www.straitstimes.com/Parliament/Story/STIStory_756530.html
To: azacamis@xxx.com
CC: TAXQUERIES@iras.gov.sg
Subject: Fw: GTE11/IITE/12/175 Fw: Feedback on parents relief for personal income tax
From: Sumarni_SADALI@iras.gov.sg
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 14:14:54 +0800

Dear Mr Azhar,
We refer to your e-mail of 13 Dec 2011.
Thank you for your feedback. We will share your feedback with the Ministry of Finance for future review of the policy.

Regards
Sumarni Sadali (Mdm) Assistant Manager (Employee Branch-Individual Income Tax Div)| Inland Revenue Authority of Singaporehttp://www.iras.gov.sg ___________________________________________________________________ Our Taxes. Our Nation


Azhar Khamis 13/12/2011 12:26 PM
(Tel: )
To
cc
Subject
Feedback on parents relief for personal income tax
Dear Sir, 
1. I would like to provide my feedback on the above mentioned subject. 
2.  Referring to the following
http://iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04_ektid212.aspx
One of the condition for eligibility states that "No one else is claiming this relief" which means that only one of the dependants' children is allowed to file a claim regardless if the dependants lived in the same household or not, or if the dependant have more than one children.

3. 'Parent/handicapped parent relief' is a relief to promote filial piety and provide recognition to individuals supporting their parents/handicapped parents in Singapore. The above mentioned condition runs contrary to the statement because it encourages only one the dependant's children to support their parents.

4. While it makes sense if the above condition applies to cases where the dependants lived in the same household as dependants cannot live in more than one household at the time, it do not make sense however if the dependants lived in a separate household especially when the they have more than 2 children and all of them are supporting their parents. The condition as mentioned earlier do not encourage the rest of the children to support their parents.

5. IRAS should change the condition to the following to really promote filial piety and recognition to all individuals supporting their parents.

Only one claim is allowed for dependant living in the same household.
Multiple claims are allowed if dependant is not living in the same household.

Regards
Azhar Khamis
 
**********************************************************************"  
Privileged and/or confidential information may be contained in this email or its attachments. If this email has been sent to you by mistake, please notify the sender and delete it immediately. The retention or communication of this email's contents or its attachments to an unauthorised person is prohibited and may be an offence under the Official Secrets Act (Cap 213). " 

**********************************************************************

SingPass finally removed Java

From: Singpass-helpdesk@crimsonlogic.com
To:
CC: Singpass-helpdesk@crimsonlogic.com
Subject: RE: REACH RWEB Submission: #649383
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 03:39:14 +0000

Dear Azhar Khamis,

We are pleased to inform that you can login with your SingPass using the web browsers of Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Symbian and Windows-based mobile devices. For more information on SingPass, please visit www.singpass.gov.sg.

Once again, thank you for your valuable feedback.

Should you have any further query, please call us at +65 68877377 or email us at singpass-helpdesk@crimsonlogic.com.

We are happy to be of service to you.


Yours sincerely
Emily Lim
SingPass Helpdesk

CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd
(
Regn No: 198800784N)
31 Science Park Road, The Crimson, Singapore 117611
Main Line: +65 68877377
Visit us at www.singpass.gov.sg

===========================================================================

NOTICE
This eMail and any attachments are intended solely for the named addressee(s) only. It contains confidential and/or privileged information which should not be copied or disclosed without the consent of the CrimsonLogic group. If you are not the intended recipient or if you have received this eMail in error, you must not copy, distribute, disclose or take any action in reliance on it (or any part of its contents). In such case, you should inform the CrimsonLogic group immediately by eMail or telephone +65 68877377 (reverse charges if necessary) and delete this eMail and any attachments from your system.
The integrity and security of Internet communications and in particular this eMail and any attachments cannot be guaranteed. The CrimsonLogic group accepts no liability whatsoever in connection therewith. You are strongly advised to carry out all necessary virus checks and that you open this eMail and any attachments at your own risk.




From: REACH (REACH) [mailto:reach@reach.gov.sg]
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 3:07 PM
To: Singpass-helpdesk
Cc:
Subject: RE: REACH RWEB Submission:

QSM Crimsonlogic

The feedback is forwarded for your attention, please. When you reply to the contributor, please extend a copy to us.

Thank you.


S.Alageswari
(On behalf of Fiona Gee)
* Please copy your reply to reach@reach.gov.sg

  reach | Toll Free Line: 1800 353 5555| Fax: (65) 6354 8128

reaching everyone for active citizenry @ home    www.reach.gov.sg
      

WARNING: This email may contain privileged and confidential information. If you receive this email by mistake, you should immediately notify the sender and delete the email.  Unauthorised communication and disclosure of any information in the email is an offence under the Official Secrets Act (Cap 213).

From: reachadmin@reachadmin.com [mailto:reachadmin@reachadmin.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 31 May, 2011 10:36 AM
To: reachadmin@reachadmin.com
Subject: REACH RWEB Submission:


Hi Admin,

A public user has submitted his/her feedback RWEB2011053100001 via the REACH website.

Here are his/her personal details:
Name: Azhar Khamis
Contact Email:
Contact Number:
Contact Mobile:
Country of Residence: SINGAPORE
City:

Here is his/her remark:
It is time to remove Java from SingPass Authentication Service to facilitate logins from mobile or devices that are not Java capable. This will further encourage the use of online government services. All banks in Singapore have already done so since the past one year. When is SingPass going to follow suit?

Regards,
REACH Administrator

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let me terminate my Mio TV, please

If you look through SingTel FAQ, you'll find this.


How do I terminate my mio TV service?
For termination of mio TV service, please call our mio Hotline 1688.
Hotline operating hours:   Daily, 8am - 10pm


However, don't waste your time calling their Hotline.

There is no phone option for termination in the first place. You will instead be put through their phone options maze where you'll probably get hold of the customer service in the end. If not, try your luck by calling again. And after wasting your time asking for details, the CSO will transfer you to instead to the termination department.

You will be serviced by another CSO who will try to persuade you to not terminate their service. They practically hard sell not just to get you to keep your Mio TV service, but everything under the red umbrella.

The best part is when in the end they will tell you that the actual termination will only take place when you return their set top box to one of the four SingPost branch. In other words, you do not need to waste your time calling their Hotline.

I do not know who came out with this brilliant idea to piss customers off because it works very well indeed.

Anyway the four SingPost branch, correct at the time I posted this, are

1. Paya Lebar
2. Killiney Road
3. Woodlands
4. Jurong Point

Update: As mentioned in one of the comments, it is advisable to make a call to the branch first to check if they are able to process your termination request. Also, the items to return are the mio box, the power supply and the remote controller. Do make sure that your contract is over, else there will be termination fee. To find out if you are still under contract, call 1688.

Update: As mentioned by garfeel, you can also have it sent to SingTel Shop at Bugis and AMK

Update: SingTel customer service did say that certain Hello Shop are able to provide termination service. I guess it is best to call the outlet you plan to go first.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baby strollers

When we were expecting our first child, I did quite a bit of research on which stroller to get that will fit our needs.

By right carrying your child during the first few months is better for bonding and development of the child but there are times when you need your hands and arms free to do something else. So a stroller can be a necessity at times.

I love those designer looking strollers like Stokke, Quinny etc but then I had to throw practicality out of the window. Bulky and heavy stroller may be fine with me but it may be a hassle for the missus and our parents especially when getting in and out of the car.

So I decided to list out the criteria that a stroller should have

1. Lightweight
2. Small footprint when folded
3. For infant onward
4. Reversible handle
5. Swivel rear wheels.

Being lightweight is important especially for the ladies in our lives. You can't be there for them all the time so they will thank you for getting a lightweight stroller, trust me.

Being small when folded is important too especially when you drive, unless you have a huge boot. Else the stroller is going to cause problems when you go grocery shopping.

A stroller that can be use for infants onward means that the seat can recline to at least 170 because they are not able to sit just yet.

Reversible handle is great when your child is still an infant. It also helps to continue the bond between parent and child with as much eye contact as possible. Even if your child is no longer an infant, it comes in handy when they need to take a nap while you're out with them. The ability to keep a watch on them on the move is a great plus. 

Having all wheels able to swivel and locked when needed is important when the handle is reversed. There are many strollers that have reversible handle but not many have rear wheels that can swivel. The reason why this is important is because when the handle is reversed, the front and rear wheels change roles. It is not easy to push a stroller with the front wheels not able to swivel. Think of a forklift and you'll understand why.

As far as I know, only Combi and Capella has models that meet all the above mentioned criteria.

Capella have a few models namely S-228, S-705, S-707. They are distributed by Taime. Of the 3, only S-228 can be converted to a travel system when combined with S-1100 or S-1101 infant car seat.

Combi's version is called the Miracle Turn. It is more advanced than the Capella that two wheels will swivel (or lock) automatically depending on the direction of handle without you having to do anything. Downside is, it is expensive. There are 3 versions ranging from $400+ to $700+. Combi is distributed by Tai Sing.

Due to cost and the ability to combine with an infant car seat, I decided to go with Capella S-228.

Now it is not to say that the Capella is the best choice there is. It does come with its drawbacks. The following are some of it.

1. When a stroller can be double folded, the handle will be made up of two or more parts. Overtime, the joints will wear out and the handle will not be that straight anymore.

2. When a stroller comes with handles that can be reversed, the handle is almost usually one continuous piece. So if you plan to hook your shopping bags etc, you will spend extra on hooks.

3. With all wheels drive, you will normally lock the two 'rear' wheels from swiveling for easier steering.   This is the reason why Combi's Miracle Turn is easier as it does that automatically. Allowing all wheels to swivel while pushing is very difficult as you loose control of the direction. You also need to lock the wheels so that you can double fold the stroller. So having to lock and unlock often may be a hassle.

4. You will need to reverse the stroller at times, especially in crowded places such as lifts etc. Reversing the stroller can become difficult overtime as the wheels swivel locking mechanism have more play due to wear. This causes the 'rear' wheels to swivel to the side in opposite direction. I manage to overcome this by locking only one 'rear' wheel each time. This way, when you reverse, one of the rear wheels can swivel and will not try to move in opposite direction to the lock wheels.