Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to reset forgotten luggage lock code

If you have a luggage bag which you have forgotten the lock code, this video will show how to reset the lock code.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

NS6 Sungei Kadut station

Streetdirectory has jumped the gun and placed NS6 Sungei Kadut station of the north-south line as U/C (under construction)


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dell home support - inefficiency at the customer's expense

I have only good words when it comes to Dell business support and would not hesitate to recommend Dell business products not only because they are good products but because it is backed by good support. However, the same can't be said for their home products not because their products are bad but because the support for home products seriously can piss you off.

I bought an Inspiron Desktop 20 3000 Series All-in-One a few months back and noticed an issue a few days later. So I contacted Dell and after a series of standard email that request me to perform some updates etc, an appointment for an onsite engineer was set as issue was not resolved.

I then received another call from a Dell representative who wants to set an appointment to have some parts sent down. I was confused because I just had an appointment set earlier but was told that this call was from the logistics team and they are only in charge of sending the parts over. I asked if the parts can be sent on the same day but was told that it was not possible and so someone had to be at home on two separate days.

The onsite engineer came clueless as to what the issue was and his instructions was to simply replace the parts. After the replacement was completed, I noticed that the screen was not the right fit and the engineer agreed with me. Although I was not exactly happy with that, I will not mind if the issue is resolved. It was not. So I got him to revert back to the original display which he kindly did.

I then asked him what is to happen to the unused parts and was told that another appointment will be arranged to collect the parts. He said that engineers are on public transport so they are not able to bring parts along.

So Dell home support needs 3 separate appointments if an onsite service requires parts to be replaced in which you will also need to take similar number of days leave.

I do not mind taking a day's leave for the engineer to be onsite but I absolutely find it ridiculous to waste an additional 2 days of leave just to be home to receive the parts and then wait for the parts to be collected on another day. It is even worse when the timing is from 9 am - 5 pm, which practically means the whole day when the process itself probably takes less than a minute.

For my case, the issue is still not resolved and another appointment is being arranged but this time, no way I will waste another 2 days for such an inefficient process.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Smart TVs - What choices do you have?

What are Smart TVs?

They are basically TVs that has Internet access and can provide online contents like videos through web browsing or applications like YouTube etc.

Every manufacturer has their own offering but more and more are getting on a open platform and the following are the 3 main platform now.

WebOS


This open source platform is currently being used by LG to replace their NetCast propriety platform. LG first used webOS version 1.3 and has now moved on to version 2.0 which is a marked improvement in terms of speed and features.




FireFox OS


Currently being used by Panasonic to replace their Viera Cast / Connect platforms.



Firefox OS can do more than just TV. It is a platform that is suitable for any screened devices




Android


A successor (though not that successful) to Google TV. Currently being used by Philips, Sharp and Sony and is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop but with a customised UI.

Don't be confused with those Android smart boxes that comes with pretty standard Android OS UI.





Note: Toshiba has a range that comes with Android. However, those are based on Google TV, a predecessor to Android TV

Tizen

Another open platform based on Linux currently being used by Samsung on their newer range of smart TVs.






Comparison

This video gives a brief comparison between all the platforms.




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Buying a private passenger car in Singapore


NEW CARS


For new cars, there are two types of dealers - authorised and parallel importers.

Authorised dealers 


ADs have the backing of the car manufacturers therefore in terms of servicing, maintenance, recalls etc, you can have a piece of mind. The catch? They are generally more expensive and they will only bring in models that can sell.

Buying a car from authorised dealers are generally pretty transparent. The advertised prices should include GST, COE, road tax and registration fee but exclude car insurance as that may vary according to drivers. You will have to fork out a 50% deposit and the rest to be serviced by car loans. Don't forget to ask for freebies like window films, petrol vouchers etc.

Parallel importers 


PI can bring in almost any model you fancy and they are generally cheaper. The catch? They may not have the resource in terms of servicing, maintenance and recalls etc therefore if the dealer is no longer around when a recall is made, you have to fix the issue yourself. Choosing the right parallel importers is key because choosing the wrong one may end with endless headaches.

Buying from parallel importers on the other hand may include hidden charges. That is why it is important to list out all the charges on paper as well as what the dealer is expected to provide including freebies etc.

USED CARS


Buying used car on the other hand can be a headache or fun at the same time. Apart from checking for the car condition, you need to be aware of the financial part of it.

There are two types of used car - PARF or COE cars. PARF cars means the cars are less than 10 years old and still has a PARF value while a COE car means it is over 10 years old and no longer has a PARF value.

PARF value is the amount of money you are eligible to when you deregister the car at the end of its COE lifespan which is 10 year. You can choose not to deregister the car but take note of the following:

- if you decide to renew the COE for the car, you will have to forfeit the PARF.
- if you renew the COE for 5 years, you will not be able to renew the COE again at the end of that 5 years.
- if you renew the COE for 10 years, you can renew the COE again at the end of the 10 years at the prevailing PQP, which is the average COE price for the last few months.

For cars registered before March 2008, the PARF value is 55% of the OMV, otherwise it is 50%. OMV can be obtained from the car registration details with LTA which the dealer will provide.

For used car, the depreciation value is the most important factor when it comes to the financial part of the purchase. A depreciation is calculated based by the following formula

Car price - minimum PARF value / 10 - car age = depreciation value

Eg

$50,000 - $10,000 / 10 - 5 = $8,000

Obviously, the lower the depreciation value, the better it is. What it simply represents is the amount that your car loses every year in terms of resale value. So if the depreciation value is $12k/year, then it means the car loses $100/month in terms of resale value.

Depreciation value is greatly affected by demand. So the current high COE and MAS car loan regulation, buyers are turning to used car instead and driving prices up.

Used car requires a 40% deposit of the car price. You may try for a lower deposit by applying for car loan with finance houses instead of banks.

In terms of the condition of the car, there are a few areas you can concentrate on

1. Mileage.

Lower should be better but not necessarily.

2. Number of owners.

Lower should be better because a car with too many previous could mean that the car is problematic hence the change of hands. Still, it does not necessarily mean so.

3. Physical outlook

Like body panel, the interior cabin, seats, panels etc.

4. Paint job

Some cars have been involved in an accident and may be repainted. You can check the engine mounting to see if the colours differ.

5. Alignment.

Straighten the wheels and view from the front and back. If the tyres are not aligned visually, it could means serious problems or the car have been involved in an accident.

6. Engine.

Turn the engine on and hold the steering wheel. A car with damaged engine mounting will vibrate.
Open the bonnet and look for loose wiring etc or worn out belts etc and look out for any funny noises.
Turn on the aircon and check that all fans are working.
Let the engine run for a while and check for oil leaks. Best done after a test drive. Oil leaking from the top of the engine are fixable by changing the gasket. Leaks elsewhere could be a crack in the engine housing which could mean serious problems.

7. Tyres.

Check if they are worn out for which you may ask for replacement. Check also that they are worn out evenly. Uneven wear could mean alignment problem which could mean additional cost for it to be fixed, if it is fixable in the first place.

8. Suspension.

Best to bring your family along for a test drive and load the car with maximum passengers and get their feedback on comfort levels.

9. Aircon.

Ensure it is working and cold enough.

10. Lights

Ensure all are working including the indicators.

11. Stereo

Ensure all the functions like disc playing and all speakers are working.

Should any of these are not working, try to get the dealer to agree to fix it or come to a compromise. Else, look elsewhere.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Midea multi-split air conditioning

When I moved to my new place, it already has a system 4 air conditioning. Although working, it is an old non-inverter system and hence electrical consumption is pretty high.

With the haze greeting us again this year, the aircon is used more. And judging by recent days, it looks like it may get even worse and so will my pocket.

While looking for a replacement, I came across this offer from Gain City for the Midea system 3 for $1799 which consists of

Indoor unit - 3 x Oasis 9K BTU MS11MI-09
Outdoor unit - 21K BTU M3OA-21CDN1-QC4 (2 ticks from NEA)



It comes with a 2/5/6 years warranty (for parts/installation/compressor respectively) with the option to extend the warranty for parts to 5 years at $299. I thought it was attractive, considering that a similar package for other brands can cost as much as $600 more.



Both the indoor and outdoor units are one generation before. The latest indoor/outdoor units currently are the Opal SMKM-09/12/18-I-04 range and the SMKY-21/28/32-O-04 compressor range which attain 4 ticks under the ELS (Energy Labelling Scheme)

Cooling Capacity

For those who are clueless on what to look out for when purchasing an air conditioning system, apart from the ELS ticks (the higher the better) the main point to take note is the cooling capacity rated in BTUs.

It may seem that the higher BTUs equals better cooling. However, EnergyStar website states that
"an oversized air conditioner is actually less effective — and wastes energy at the same time. Air conditioners remove both heat and humidity from the air. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but only remove some of the humidity. This leaves the room with a damp, clammy feeling. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools"
Having said that, getting an undersized air conditioner will overwork the outdoor unit (compressor) reducing its lifespan and at the same time unable to provide the cooling capacity needed. Therefore it is best to refer to the recommended BTU to room size chart below

Cooling capacity
(BTU/hr)
Max room size
(m2)
5K
14
6K
23
7K
28
8K
33
9K
37
10K
42
12K
51
14K
65
18K
93

  • If the room is heavily shaded, reduce capacity by 10 percent.
  • If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10 percent.
  • If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs for each additional person.
If you notice, most indoor unit (fan coil) is rated at 9K, 12K and 18K while the outdoor unit (compressor) is normally rated at 21K, 28K and 32K. These are the maximum cooling capacity of the units.

At the same time, a lot of packages will normally pair the fan coil and compressor as such as the total BTU of the fan coils exceeds the max BTU of the compressor. 

For the package I bought, the total BTU for the fan coil is 27K (3x9K) while the compressor can only generate 21K BTU. This means that if all the units are used at the same time, the max BTU the system can generate is still 21K. Therefore the fancoil will generate lesser BTU at 7K instead.

For a standard HDB bedroom, especially one that is with the curtains drawn, 7K BTU should be sufficient as it can cool a room up to 28 sqm in size. That is way bigger than any HDB bedroom that I know of, especially those newer BTOs.

Branded vs no-brand

Midea originates from China hence many consider it as a no-brand and inferior to the Japanese and Korean counterparts. However, some Japanese or even Korean brand products are not made from country of origin and actually made in China too.

Midea may not be as well known as Mitsubishi or Panasonic but Midea actually has a joint-venture with Toshiba/Carrier, a well know HVAC producer, sharing each other's technology. This is the reason why Midea is not unknown to other parts of the world where Carrier or Toshiba has made a mark.

If aesthetics and/or functions does not really matter to you, then getting a branded system may not make a difference. In terms of operating cost, the ELS rating is a good gauge therefore the cost will be the same to operate for systems with the same ELS ratings regardless of brand

Even if you purchased a branded aircon for reliability, you will still have to service it regularly for it to remain in working condition within the warranty period. This applies to any brand too.

Once the warranty period is over, the cost to maintain the system may just be as costly considering the parts and labour cost. It is also possible that after 5/6 years, aircon technology may have improved further warranting that you make a replacement hence negating the investment you have made earlier.

So if the Midea can last for 5 years, it is worth the lower cost after which you can replace it.

You can read my review of the system here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

HDB Sep 2015 BTO Preview

HDB will be launching two sites for the upcoming Sep BTO - Punggol and Bidadari.


Punggol


The Punggol development is expected to be hot as it is at exactly at the fringe of the Punggol reservoir. This is the development that you can really label as seaside living which is mostly reserved for private development.

It is practically 3 development at one go comprising of

- 1,020 units of 2R, 3R, 4R & 5R
- 900 units of 2R, 3R, 4R, 5R & 3GEN
- 790 units of 2R, 3R, 4R, 5R & 3GEN

That is a total of 2700 units! Huge. However, there are 3 parks within the development separating each of the 3 development sites. This helps to reduce the impression that is it is one huge development.

As for accessibility, TPE is close by. Although it is not exactly in front of any public train network, Samudera and Punggol Point LRT Station is not exactly that far as it is only a junction away.

Bidadari

This development which also comprises of 3 sites, is on the old site of Bidadari cemetary which was exhumed in 2004. 



It has a total of 2150 unit, comprising of 

- 1,250 units of SA, 3R & 4R
- 530 units of 3R & 4R
- 370 units of 4R & 5R

Although is not as huge as the Punggol development, it still is a pretty big developement. 

It also has 3 parks within the development although it is unknown how big they are.

Two of the sites are sandwiched between two MRT train station - Woodleigh and Potong Pasir which will also make this development a hot favorite as it is 4-5 stations from town.

Friday, May 29, 2015

HDB BTO May 2015 - Eastlink I & II @ Canberra

This development is expected to be hot as it is right smack in front of the future NS12 Canberra MRT station.

There are only 2,3 and 4 room units available so those planning for a 5 room will be disappointed.

Of the two, Eastlink I will be favorable as it is the nearest to the MRT station and there is a neighbourhood centre within it which faces the station acting as a buffer between the station and the units to lessen noise and dust from the main road. The carpark is also just just two storeys high with an underground car park which means you can simply park your car, walk to the lift and go straight to your unit floor.

Except for some units in block 118B in Eastlink Two that faces north-east or south-west, all other units are either south-east or north-west facing. I personally will choose any east facing units as the morning sun is always better than the afternoon sun.

All units are also either facing internal compound or facing the road. Most of those facing internal compound in Eastlink I are too close for comfort as the opposite units are about 20 m apart. Similar units in Eastlink II are better as is it twice as far - about 50 m which is pretty acceptable.

Even those units in Eastlink II facing the drainage reserve only has about 30 m to the opposite unit in another development which is under constructions.


Choice Units


Unit 51, 53, 67, 69, 71, 73, 87 and 89 in Eastlink I will have unblock view as it is facing Sungei Simpang Kiri and a park connector. Although it will face future high rise industrial development, it still will have at least 100 m of buffer. Another plus side is that it will be south-east facing. This is should be hot units for 4 room units.

Units 75, 77, 79, 81, 83, 85, 568, 570, 572 and 574 in Eastlink I will face the internal compound but will have a huge buffer and the roof garden between the opposite units. This should be choice units for 2 and 3 room units.

Unit 342 and 344 in Eastlink II may be facing the internal compound but the opposite unit is at least 100 m away. This should be choice units for Eastlink Two.

All other internal facing units except for 364 and 376 in Eastlink II should be pretty fine as there is enough buffer between the opposite units and a roof garden view to boot.