Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: April 2005

Garbage in ...

Seems I'm becoming more and more a full citizen of Singapore (No it's not the Singlish lah). My indicator of home town is: do I bump into people I know. Yesterday at the food court I bumped into my friend Alvin Lee. We had a chat about team, organisation and mental models. Alvin does team building and motivation training. We found that two popular acronyms KISS and GIGO are related.  KISS stands for Keep it simple stupid and GIGO for Garbage In Garbage Out.
During our chat we realized that it should be KISS and GISS. "Keep Incoming Shit Short "and " Garbage In Shit Sticks". When you keep your Garbage In to long it turns into shit. And then you might need to go for colon cleansing. Your mind rather might need GTD.

Posted by on 28 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Business

The ASIA MVP Regional Sumit 2005

Microsoft hosts the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Regional Sumit here in Singapore starting today until Wednesday. Some of my sgdotnet friends will participate there. Their blogs are already buzzing from excitement. And I'm jealous. While I was in Germany (last century) Denug was providing similar events, there are plenty of good events in the US and Europe still. But over here?
SILENCE. No IBM IPG (incredible professional geek) award or event, no best of LotusSphere, no community. When I hit Google and search for Donut Singapore (our local Lotus user group) the first (and only) hit is the link to a presentation I gave 4 years ago (and it leads back to my website). No wonder Lotus is considered legacy here.
IBM please do something!

Posted by on 24 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: IBM - Lotus

Buying Broadband - Closing chapter

I'll give it a try. 400m to the MUX should be Ok even with an unknown cable quality. Hopefully I don't need to reopen the saga.

Case ID: 1392853

Dear Mr Wissel

Thank you for the reply.

My apology for the delay as I've to seek our ADSL Installation team
finding and feedback on this.

Based on their finding, your ADSL line has to be serve via local MUX. The theoretical loss
from the local MUX to the DP will be around 4 db. (Distance
approximately 400 metres).

We seek your understand that we are unable pre-measure the ADSL line
loss as it not terminated the local MUX yet. However, when you sign up
for 3500kbps plan, we can do a measurement from your premise for

Thank you for your kind understanding.

The other parts of the Saga
New (April 2007): Getting customer service for Broadband:

Posted by on 23 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

Beyblade for beginners

Japanese and Korean toy makers follow an unique (or would be uniform the right word?) approach to push their toys to the market: create the TV comic series together with the toy and let kids pressure parents after adopting one of the comic characters as (luckily temporary) role model: Pokemon, Gundam Seed, Beyblade, Grand Seizures, Ultraman, Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers -- you name it.
Yesterday I had to give in <g> on a year long pressure to buy beyblades. When they came out here (1-2 years ago) entry level pricing was at 30 dollars, which is now down to three, so the damage was controllable (Make your pick: Ice-cream or Beyblade). The fun thing: beyblades need assembly. As you see in the instructions above, this was well described for a non Kanji reading person <g>.

Posted by on 17 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Twins

Now listening

Seven Chakras
I am feeling a bit imbalanced and exhausted recently. Nothing wrong said the physician, so something more subtle needs a fix.
Playing this every evening for bedtime now, seems to help. From the cover:
Aeoliah: The Seven Chakras - Crystal Illumination is an interdimensional musical journey through the seven vital energy centres in man also known as chakras and energy vortexes. Each centre radiates a particular energy and activity that directly corresponds to all our emotions, feelings, desires and thoughts. Each centre also corresponds directly to our bodily functions especially the endocrine system which regulates the glandular and metabolic activity in our bodies. When these seven energy centres are in balance and alignment with each other, they radiate a purity of health, vitality and energy that reflects in our aura as crystal rainbow-white light. Each musical section corresponds directly to each chakra, starting at the base of the spine, harmonizing and balancing the energy in that area.

Posted by on 15 April 2005 | Comments (2) | categories: After hours

You have a personal legend to fulfill, period.

Found @ Warrior of the Light:

Respect for a man who at that moment is recalling a very important lesson: you have a personal legend to fulfill, period. It is of no matter if others support you, or criticize, ignore or tolerate you – you are doing that because that is your destiny on this earth, and the source of any joy.  

Posted by on 14 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: After hours

What Is your Dominant Intelligence?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Interpersonal Intelligence

You shine in your ability to realate to and understand others. Good at seeing others' points of view, you get how people think and feel. You have an uncanny ability to sense true feelings, intentions, and motivations. A natural born leader, you are great at teaching and mediating conflict. You would make a good counselor, salesperson, politician, or business person.


Posted by on 14 April 2005 | Comments (3) | categories: After hours

Buying Broadband - Part 7

The turnaround cycles get shorter and it looks like the sales department run out of (patience|answers|clues|excuses). I got a reply from the technical department:
Case ID: 1392853

Dear Mr Wissel

Thank you for the reply.

I will address your concerns on the transfer loss due to overheads (such
as cable condition, distance from exchanges, etc), as you are familiar
with all the factors that affect a broadband connection's downloading

You may wish to know that our Broadband 3500Kbps plans can only be
used on ADSLs activated line for 3500Kbps. If the existing line served
by exchange MUX has a dB loss of more than 30, it is not within
specification. Under such case the line will be converted to local MUX.

I seek your understanding that although we own the cables,
condition of line wiring within users' premises may vary. When you sign
up for our 3500kbps plan, we will need to ensure that the line
condition is within the required specification.

Thus, I regret once again that we are not able to guarantee that you
will receive the maximum download speed.

Getting close... So I asked back:
Hi Support,

thank you for your reply. I realize being persistent enough finally gets me the answers I'm looking for.
To rephrase my question: I want to know if the LINE can support 3500Kbps. I didn't ask if I can achieve maximum download speed all the time.

So the current conclusion is:
a) The signal loss between ADSL modem and MUX must be lower that 30db to be able to support 3500Kbsp. And ideally a measurement would be performed on a hot day since copper cables have higher losses with higher temperatures.
b) Cable length and quality is a big issue. If cabling in my block the MDF room looks like the one above it might not work at all.

What do I need to do to get a measurement and assessment of the line quality? Since there is a specification, there must be a measurement to verify it.

I seek your kind understanding, that I want a verification BEFORE I sign up as a customer. You have sufficient fine print in your contracts, so I would end up paying the subscription even if the line doesn't match the specifications.

So how?

Posted by on 13 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

Buying Broadband - Part 6

It turns out to be quite funny. The reply to my last answer:

Case ID: 1392853

11 April 2005

Dear Mr Wissel

Thank you for your reply.

I seek your understanding that we are not able to guarantee that you
will receive the maximum doanload speed. You may wish to refer to the
following factors on why your broadband download speed may sometimes not
be optiomal.

a) Your access speeds may be affected by the content providers'
bandwidth connection to the Internet, especially when accessing oversea

If this bandwidth connection is insufficient, you may experience slow
access speeds.

b) Slow connection speeds are sometimes also due to overseas routing
delays/congestion. Unfortunately, such delays are usually beyond the
control of SingNet.

c) Computer system configuration.

d) Transfer loss due to overheads (such as cable condition, distance
from exchanges, etc) (highlight by me)

e) Whether you are running any other Internet monitoring software  (such
as a firewall)

f) PC infected with 'hidden' programs, such as 'Spyware', 'Malware'
and 'Adware'.

At the same time, you may wish to refer to IDA's website with regards to
the speed issue:

I hope I have addressed your concerns. For further clarifications,
please reply to this email or you may visit our webpage at
http://.. . to send
us an online feedback form.

I look forward to serving you.

Yours sincerely

So slowly we get somewhere. My reply then:

> d) Transfer loss due to overheads (such as cable condition, distance
> from exchanges, etc)
THAT is what my question is ALL about!!!!
You own the cables, knows the network, runs the exchanges etc. So you are supposed to be able to
make a statement if a certain location can support that speed of ADSL. If you read my previous messages carefully, that is what I repeatedly highlighted.
And I would like to have a confirmation that the line to my flat CAN support the speed. If you need to send a technician and do a measurement I'm ready to pay a reasonable fee for that (or you do that instead of the installation --- don't need that service).
If the cable conditions, distance from the exchange etc. don't support the speed at all it would be selling me a service you can't deliver. Would you want to pay for a service you can't use?

So again: How can you check and assure me, that the overheads don't limit the maximum ADSL speed at my location? And that is not a GENERAL question, but a very specific for ONE location. Once that question is answered I'll be a happy subscriber.  

Posted by on 10 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

You Really Won't Know Until You Build It

Building new software requires an estimate for the project owner how long it will take (and how much it will cost). This is one of the dark arts in System Architecture. Unless you repeat a previous exercise 100% you are limited to guesstimates. And you NEVER repeat a previous project 100%, since there would be no need, just use last times results.And guesstimates are a waste of time!
On my Sunday blog tour (while Anthony and Ernest mess up the house <g>) I came across a very true quote:
" We spent so much time arguing whether or not it work, and when we prototyped it, it worked remarkably well. We could have saved so much time, if we had just build it sooner." Another reason to do paper prototyping.  

Posted by on 10 April 2005 | Comments (2) | categories: Software WebDevelopment

Buying Broadband - Part 5

No Katharsis but another round of not answering my question:

7 April 2005

Dear Mr Wissel

I refer to your email of 5 April 2005.

I have tried to contact you earlier at around 9AM via your mobile number
but did not manage to get through you.

I wish to clarify that the download speed for our Broadband 3500K
plans will reach to a maximum of up to 3500K, while the upload speed
will be up to 350K.

Please refer below on the maximum download speed that each of our
subscription plan can achieve.

BroadBand 3500kbps offers a download speed of up to 3500kbps  
BroadBand 1500kbps offers a download speed of Up to 1500kbps
BroadBand 512kbps offers a download speed of up to 512kbps

The upload speed for each of our subscription plan will be as follows:-

Broadband 512kbps offers an upload speeds of up to 256kbps
Broadband 1500kbps and 3500kbps offers an upload speed of up to

Please note that under normal circumstances, your service will be
activated within 4 working days, after submitting the Application form.
However, subject to telephone line conditions or locations, it may take
about one month or longer for the service to be activated.

You may also wish to know that our BroadBand is not applicable for
residential which has PABX, hunting line, ISDN, DID, key telephone
system, Auxiliary line.

For a more detailed information on SingNet Broadband service, you may
wish to visit our Frequently Asked Questions at the following website:

[faq that doesn't answer the question]

We strongly recommend that you follow the minimum system requirements
stated herein or those specified by the ADSL modem you have purchased,
whichever is more stringent.

For PC Users

- Win98 2nd Edition, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000
Professional and Window XP Home Edition
- Intel Pentium Processor II 233 MHz, Intel Celeron 300 MHz, AMD K6 233
MHz (or higher / compatible)
- 32 MB RAM
- 70 MB free hard disk space
- 4x CD ROM Drive
- One built-in powered USB port with Intel Chipset recommended (for
users with USB ADSL modem) OR One 10 Base-T Ethernet port (for use with
Ethernet ADSL modem).

For Mac Users

- Mac OS 8.6 to OS X
- PowerMac G3s Blue/White, PowerMac G4s, iBooks and PowerBooks
64 MB*
- 70 MB of free hard disk space
- Built-in Ethernet Port
- 8X CD ROM Drive
* For Mac OS X, min 128MB RAM required. Additional RAM may be required
to improve your video streaming running.
Mac Users with OS X, it is recommended to upgrade to OS X Version

For further information on the minimum system requirement, please visit
our website at [repetition of the info stated above]

To do an online check on whether your personal computer meets the
minimum requirement for SingNet Broadband service, please visit our
website at:
[Another page not answering thw question]

For further clarifications, please reply to this email or you may visit
our webpage at
[had that page before] to send
us an online feedback form.

Thank you and I look forward to serving you.

Seems to mutate from a drama to a soap opera:

Dear sales,

thank you for pointing out the details. I've studied the websites extensively and are aware of the requirements. I'm currently using cable for Broadband and we are willing to switch. However when I look at your price plan/promotion: the minimum contract duration is 20 month. The monthly subscription SGD 83.90. So I have to commit SGD 1678 to your organization when subscribing (plus installation cost). That is a lot of money.
The nature of ADSL limits the maximum speed by the length and the quality of the copper cable from the ADSL modem to the network entry point. So while it WILL work at my home, it is not clear to me if it can work at 3.5MBit. Eventually it only works up to 1.5Mbit or 512Kb due to the copper cable leading to my flat. What I simply want to know: how can you confirm that it will work at 3.5Mbit? Of course I could subscribe and hope the best. Since you don't offer a trial period I rather not take that 1678 dollar gamble (remember gambling is illegal in Singapore).

So how?

Posted by on 08 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

NewSpeak: What is Quality?

The most stunning concept in Orwell's 1984 was NewSpeak: the redefinition of terms to eliminate concepts. Can you think freedom if there is no word for it?
I recently worked with the different quality initiatives ISO9000, EfQM, CMMI. While I think the initiatives have good value for their purpose, they all conduct NewSpeek when talking about quality. Funny aspect: the all see it in the same way.
Quality in their sense are repeatable constant outcomes/results, that are achieved with constant and repeatable processes. While repeatable results are important for conducting sustainable business I resent to call it quality. Put it boldly: My friend runs a French Fine Dining. When the cook had a bad day it is so so, when he has a good day, you're in heaven. On the other hand: walk into an average Mac Donald's anywhere on this planet. You can expect and will receive a Big Mac that tastes the same for 20+ years. From a quality management point of view Mac Donald's is the champion. However if I ask my taste buds, even the worst mood of my French cook produces food with far superior quality.
This results is a subconscious tension for all quality people: since the (process) quality definition doesn't match the layman's understanding of quality a lot of quality initiatives are perceived as management fads; perceptions lay the foundation for results, so TQM often goes nowhere.

Anybody pick up the challenge and come up with a good term instead of newspeaking quality?  

Posted by on 08 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Business

Buying Broadband - Part 4

A classical drama has five acts. Since we arrived at instalment , I have hope that the climax of act 3 will end in act's 5 katharsis and a new broadband connection at home. In act 3 I was told, that broadband might not work all the times, but not if it would work at all. Since I did write a rather angry reply I got a nice formal "You are so important to us" message and still no answer to my question:

Dear Mr Wissel

Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to let us know your
feedback and observations/suggestions.

You are whom we ultimately serve and therefore the best source of
feedback, please be informed that feedbacks from valued customers such
as yourself are treated as material for our continuous process of
providing better service.

As an Internet Service Provider, we strive to provide reliable,
affordable and consistent services to all our valued customers. Please
be assured that we are constantly revamping our services to stay

Should you have any further clarifications with regards to the
connection, please feel free to call our Technical Helpdesk at [pathetic helpline] for their better assistance.

We hope we have addressed your concerns. For further clarifications,
please reply to this email or you may visit our webpage at
one with the password] to send
us an online feedback form.

We look forward to serving you.

So how? Since other are on a similar quest, I decided to continue:

Hi there,

Thanks a lot  for your kind reply.
So let us start over:

How can I find out, that a ADSL Modem plugged into the phone socket in my flat (in the store room to be precise) will connect using your ADSL at 3.5 MBit?

We found out so far:
- Singtel would like to sell me that service
- I would like to buy it
- It might not work all the time
- Advertisement and Terms of use do not match
- Technical question online can only be asked by your EXISTING subscribers

Still the question stays open: Can it work at my specific location? Your current promotion requires me to subscribe for 20 month and I want to have this very basic question answered.

What is the procedure? Do I have to pay a fee or is it included in the installation work?

Best regards


Posted by on 06 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Buying Broadband

I want a better browser for my Tungsten

I'm quite happy with my Tungsten T3. I sync to Notes using Pylon Pro and run some custom Notes databases. I use Agendus as a beefed up contact and appointment manager and Verichat for instant messaging. I develop applications with Simplicity and the J2ME Plug-in for Eclipse. I even started fancy stuff using thinlets (you might need to go to the Yahoo group to get the midlet version). I even did some XML over HTTP stuff using kXML.
My only grievance is the browser. It is OK to see some basic stuff, but I can only jealously peek at Nokia phones, Psion organizers etc. who use Opera. If you share that grievance, head over to Petition Spot and sign the petition " Opera for Palm OS".

Posted by on 06 April 2005 | Comments (0) | categories: Software