Thursday, March 30, 2017

Inside the Hunt for Russia's Most Notorious Hacker | WIRED

Inside the Hunt for Russia's Most Notorious Hacker | WIRED:

Interesting read. Just like watching a Hollywood movie.  :)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Japanese technique for overcoming laziness

Almost all of us periodically sets ourselves a new goal or challenge — and just as often in the end fails to achieve them. We end up telling ourselves that we’re just not ready yet, that we’ll do it next week, next year.
We might even pursue them with zeal at the start. But once we’ve made a small amount of effort, we’ll tell ourselves we’ve done enough, and it’s time to take this whole ‘starting a new life’ thing more slowly.
Why does it always turn out like this? The answer’s fairly obvious: Because we try to achieve too much, too fast; because we get sick of the new responsibility; because it’s difficult to change old habits and try something new.

Kaizen, or the one-minute principle

In Japanese culture there exists the practice of Kaizen, which includes the idea of the ’one-minute principle’ for self-improvement. At the heart of this method is the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time. Clearly, it shouldn’t be any trouble for absolutely anyone — even the laziest person — to carry out a given task for such a small amount of time. Whereas you will more often than not find an excuse not to do something when faced with carrying it out for half an hour or an hour a day, you should be able to do without any misgivings for just 60 seconds.
Whether it’s doing press-ups or reading a book in a foreign language, in this case the task before you won’t seem like something unpleasant which you have to get through, but will instead be an activity which brings you joy and satisfaction. In taking one little step at a time, you’ll will move on to the path of self-perfection and achieve great results.
It’s important to overcome that lack of confidence you might have in your own abilities, as well as free yourself from those feelings of guilt and helplessness. You need to experience a sense of victory and success to move forward. When you’re inspired by such feelings, you will gradually begin to increase the amount of time you spend doing the task which you have set yourself — maybe at first just for five minutes more, but then this will soon turn into half an hour, and then even longer after that. In this way, the one-minute principle lets you see the progress you’re making right before your eyes.
Kaizen originated in Japan. The word itself contains two roots — ‘kai’ (change) and ‘zen’ (wisdom). It was invented by Masaaki Imai, who believes this philosophy can can be applied just as successfully to the world of business as it can be to one’s personal life.
At first glance, this practice might seem doubtful and ineffective for people who have grown up in Western culture, with its emphasis on the idea that results can be achieved only by undertaking immense efforts. But elaborate, challenging programmes of self-improvement which deprive a person of huge amounts of energy can simply end up exhausting him, and leave no tangible results, whereas Kaizan is something that anyone can attempt in virtually any sphere of their life. In Japan for example, it is often applied to improve management techniques.
All you have to do is understand what it is you want to achieve, and you’re already set to go.

A Japanese technique for overcoming laziness:

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017


一分鐘手穴操, 保健十一式, 舒緩頭痛, 助腸胃 配上中文字幕,方便不懂粵語的,也能看得懂。 多做按摩有助腸胃及舒緩頭痛。
Posted by 總有路走。AdCare on Sunday, March 12, 2017
一分鐘手穴操, 保健十一式, 舒緩頭痛, 助腸胃 配上中文字幕,方便不懂粵語的,也能看得懂。 多做按摩有助腸胃及舒緩頭痛。

How to escape quicksand

What to do if you get stuck in quicksand

How to escape quicksand — it's easier than you might think.

Posted by Tech Insider on Tuesday, January 24, 2017
How to escape quicksand — it's easier than you might think.

A video posted in FB by Tech Insider.

The Things to Know About Bullet Journaling Before You Get Started | Apartment Therapy

Bullet journals (or BuJos for short) are definitely having a moment right now. Everywhere you look—Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest—there's bullet journal fever. If the cult-favorite organizational system has piqued your curiosity but you are not quite sure if it's for you, we're walking you through a few key things you need to know before you decide to BuJo or not to BuJo.

A Bullet Journal is Not a Diary

First off, don't let the word journal fool you. A bullet journal isn't a 'dear diary' type of thing where you write about your day for pages on end. Bullet journaling is a rapid logging organizational system that allows you to track all of your tasks, appointments, and goals all in one place. Unlike pre-made planners, bullet journals are a much more flexible, creative, and decidedly beautiful way to plan and organize your life.

Bullet Journaling is Not As Complicated as it Seems

Before you actually dive into bullet journaling, I highly suggest first watching this video where Ryder Carroll, the creator of the system, walks you through the basic elements. Yes, it seems a little overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze. There are four main modules you need to start off with, which include an index (basically, a table of contents), a future log for planning far in advance, and monthly and daily sections for specific tasks that need to be done. The rest is pretty much up to you, which brings us to our next point.

Bullet Journaling is Completely Customizable

Store-bought agendas are great, but the downside is that they don't offer much in terms of customization. They typically don't include too many blank pages and you're forced to cram your entire day into these tiny boxes. With a bullet journal, you pretty much make your own rules. You can add, tweak, and change things as you go.

A Bullet Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals

In addition to keeping track of your daily appointments and to dos, bullet journals will work wonders with helping you reach your goals and establish better habits. You can keep a gratitude log, track your workouts, meal plan, budget track, jot down ideas, write down wish lists, and so much more.

Bullet Journaling is for Creatives and Minimalists Alike

One of the many beauties of bullet journaling is that you can get as creative as you like in between the pages of your BuJo. It's become a therapeutic creative outlet for many. You can practice calligraphy, sketch, watercolor, play with stickers—the possibilities are endless. However, making your bullet journal look fancy isn't a requirement. So if crisp white pages with beautiful handwriting are more your jam, bullet journaling will work for you too.

Bullet Journaling is Super Affordable

Although you can go as crazy as you like buying creative tools to adorn your bullet journal with (Stickers! Washi tape! Markers!), all you really need to get started bullet journaling is a fresh notebook (any will do, even one from the dollar store!) and a pen, which makes this planning system super budget-friendly.

BuJo Curious? The Things to Know About Bullet Journaling Before You Get Started | Apartment Therapy: "The Things to Know About Bullet Journaling Before You Get Started"

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This artist engineers pop-up books that will blow your mind.

SciArts: Engineering the Perfect Pop

This artist engineers pop-up books that will blow your mind.

Posted by Science Friday on Thursday, October 6, 2016

Coding in a nutshell

Saw this on FB and sharing for all. Sharing is caring.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Wow. Back when I wrote about the Krisflyer devaluation that took place in May of 2016 I confidently said the program was safe for at least another year, since no one would devalue a program twice in quick succession (To be fair, the May 2016 devaluation wasn’t really much of a devaluation; award prices largely remained the same (with the exception of the consolidating Europe into one zone))
Shows what I know. Here’s SQ’s 70th anniversary present to you, a surprise email announcing a devaluation effective 23 March 2017. The old award chart is here. The new award chart is here. To summarize-

The Good

  • SQ has removed its much maligned fuel surcharges from award redemptions. I nearly fell off my seat when I read this, because the cynic in me has always seen that as an easy money maker for SQ.

The Bad

  • Award prices are going up across the board (we’ll look at how much in the detailed analysis) and there is no longer any 15% discount for online redemptions

Detailed Analysis

What you need to realise is that this devaluation changes everything.
That sounds dramatic, but the fact is that the underlying math has changed, and now we need to reconsider a lot of the conclusions I’ve come to in other articles on this site. They’ll be updated gradually, but let’s do some analysis here first.

How much have award prices increased?

Standard awards, saver/standard upgrade awards and premium economy saver awards have not been touched in one sense, but in another they now all cost 15% more because of the removal of the online redemption discount. 
I’ve put together the new and old saver redemption rates for comparison-

click to enlarge

  • Surprisingly, the awards that have gone up the most (in % terms) are Economy Savers to Japan/South Korea and Australia (ex Perth and Darwin) + NZ. These awards go up by ~30%.
  • But premium cabin awards to medium and long haul destinations have also been hit hard. Business and First Class to Japan/South Korea/Australia (ex Perth and Darwin)/ New Zealand/ Europe and the USA have all gone up by 25-30%
  • Short haul and China routes see the smallest increases- Business and First Class to South East Asia and China have gone up by 18%
A 30% increase is certainly not to be sniffed at, and it’s going to hurt those people who have been trying to save up for an award only to see the goalposts moved 30% further.
Why would SQ remove the online redemption discount? I’m sure the original reason for introducing it was because it costs less (in terms of customer service time and overheads) to issue an online award ticket than one issued over the phone. However, SQ’s crappy website meant that people had to call in to book the following types of awards
  • Upgrades that required waitlisting
  • Upgrading one leg after the first leg had been flown
  • Mixed cabin awards
In practice these would all receive 15% redemption discounts too because they couldn’t be done online. So perhaps SQ felt it was time to face that reality and simply stop discounting. Or perhaps the creation of a channel through which 15% discounts could be obtained created the idea in peoples’ minds that they should never be paying full price, even when they used the call centre for an award that could be easily ticketed online. It was probably easier for SQ to eliminate this altogether than have to deal with (admittedly unreasonable) customers like this.
That said, it would be unfair to straight away conclude that all Krisflyer award tickets are now “worse value” because we need to first consider the carrot that SQ has thrown us…

What are the implications of removing fuel surcharges?

Image result for Airplane refuelling
This has the potential to be a silver lining. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that fuel surcharges are the junkiest of all charges. They make absolutely no sense. It’s like a restaurant charging you separately for ingredients and saying your base price only includes the cooking.
I applaud SQ for removing fuel surcharges (the conspiracy theorist in me is now wondering if Singapore is going to introduce legislation ala HK, the Philippines and Brazil that outlaws fuel surcharges in the next few months…) because that’s the right thing to do.
The question then is- does the absence of fuel surcharges make up for higher redemption rates?
I’ve pulled out a few award bookings I made in the past few months to check the YQ (Fuel surcharge) component. Here’s what I found (fuel surcharges in SGD)
It seems that on long haul flights (SYD, JFK, IAH), the savings in terms of fuel surcharges do not offset the additional miles you need to pay. 
Take SIN-SYD for example. I now need to pay 16,250 more miles, for which i save S$195.30 in fuel surcharges. This values one of my miles at 1.2 cents, which is way below the 2 cent threshold. Same goes for JFK and IAH.
It’s interesting to note that for my Bali and Bangkok redemptions, I do get a bit more in the way of value per mile. I wouldn’t call this enough to make the increase less painful however, given that I don’t advise people to redeem miles for short haul routes.
Long story short- no. Fuel surcharges are annoying, but you don’t come out on top with their removal because the number of miles needed has increased.

Are premium economy redemptions now worth it?

When SQ made premium economy saver redemptions available in May 2016, I said that they weren’t worth it because they cost ~80% the price of a business class award. Given the huge gap in comfort and the small gap in miles, I advised people to save up just a bit more.
Here’s what the ratio between premium economy and business saver awards is before and after the devaluation.
As you can see, it’s still not a good deal. Premium Economy awards still require 75-85% the miles of a Business award. I’d stay clear of these.

Are Star Alliance awards better value now?

Star Alliance awards were not touched by this devaluation, and they never had a 15% discount for online redemptions, thereby leaving the effective price the same.
I wrote an article not too long ago comparing the cost of Star Alliance awards to Krisflyer awards. That obviously needs to be reworked, and the revised working is very interesting

click to enlarge. The % in the last 6 columns refer to the premium (in miles) that you are paying for redeeming via *A as opposed as to via SQ

It is now cheaper to redeem Star Alliance partner awards than Krisflyer awards for certain locations.  Ignoring fuel surcharges for a moment (some partner airlines will charge them, others will not)
  • Singapore to North America in F: 112,500 miles with *A vs 118-120,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Europe in F: 107,500 miles with *A vs 115,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Europe in J: 80,000 miles with *A vs 85,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Australia in F: 75,000 miles with *A vs 80,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Australia in J: 55,000 miles with *A vs 58,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Japan/S Korea in F: 60,000 miles with *A vs 65,000 with SQ
  • Singapore to Japan/S Korea in J: 40,000 miles with *A vs 43,000 with SQ
That’s a really, really interesting dynamic change, because I always assumed SQ was actively trying to encourage people to redeem awards on SQ metal rather than *A metal (to avoid having to pay *A partners a reimbursement fee). And now that SQ doesn’t even collect fuel surcharges on award tickets, does the elimination of more miles from their balance sheet outweigh the potential higher volume of cash outflow to *A partners for award redemptions?
More thoughts on this later. In the meantime I’d strongly consider you to think about a Star Alliance award if you cannot find saver space with SQ. It’ll be a good time to try some different products. 


I’ve always felt SQ’s award chart was much “better” compared to those of competitors because award costs were much lower. That evidently needs a rethink. SQ rightly pointed out that the last devaluation took place in 2012 and to their credit they didn’t try to spin this as an enhancement, but it does seem a bit on the nose to do this in the year they’re celebrating their 70th anniversary.
I will have a lot more to write about this in the days and weeks to come, I’m sure. How does this affect the valuation of a mile? Should you start looking at alternative programs like Asia Miles?
If you have an existing award ticket, my advice to you would be to hold on to it, because I don’t think when you factor in the additional miles required you don’t come out on top by saving fuel surcharges.
Breathe people. Breathe.
Please see the complete article at the following URL below: