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Please stop wasting our public money

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For a couple of years now, I’ve been increasingly annoyed by the poor use of taxpayer dollars by the Singapore government for frivolous or impractical things, while cost of living continues to shoot up and everyone is unhappier than ever with the state of things.

Today I read a news story which really took the (50th birthday) cake. Continue reading

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Should I Ride A Motorcycle In Singapore?

In recent months, I’ve seen more people considering taking up motorcycle riding lessons in response to the dismal Certificate of Entitlement (COE) situation for cars.

It’s a natural outcome, given that riding is always going to be a cheaper transport solution than cars, even though the motorcycle COE premium is now hitting new highs of over $4,000 (nearly three times of what it was last year).

But I’ve also heard many people express doubt and uncertainty, because motorcycling is seen as an undesirable and dangerous form of transport. I’m writing this to help shed light on some important things before you make the decision to go on two wheels.

You might think that my immediate answer to the question “Should I ride a motorcycle in Singapore?” would be “Yes”. Actually, serious bikers focus so much on safety, that you should be asking “Am I able to commit to being safe on the roads if I want to ride a motorcycle?”.  Many inexperienced bikers think that the Traffic Police is too preachy when it comes to road safety – well, you wouldn’t think that way if you know more about road riding.  Continue reading

The humble 125cc scooter may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.

The COE system is now hurting motorcyclists too

This letter was published in Today, 22 Mar 2014. Note that the COE increase for motorcycles was 240%, but was mistakenly edited to 140% in the printed letter.
This letter was published in Today, 22 Mar 2014. Note that the COE increase for motorcycles was 240%, but was somehow edited to 140% in the printed letter.

Most people may not know that between 2003 and 2013, the car population jumped from 405,328 vehicles to 621,345 vehicles, a staggering 53% increase, according to official Land Transport Authority data.

In the same period, the motorcycle population only increased from 134,767 vehicles to 144,307 vehicles, a 7% increase.

Private cars now form 64% of the total vehicle population, while motorcycles make up 15%.

A 125cc scooter like this Yamaha Zuma may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.
An affordable and efficient 125cc scooter like this Yamaha Zuma may soon be an endangered species on our expensive Singapore roads.

Despite the minimal impact of motorcycles on road congestion and pollution, in the past four months, the Certificate of Entitlement premium for two-wheelers has increased 240% to $4,289 as the LTA has applied its one-size-fits-all formula to capping vehicle population growth in Singapore.

While the LTA is doing the right thing in correcting the over-supply of COE in the past decade, it may not realize how its myopic approach in severely restricting the release of motorcycle COEs  is hurting the motorcycling population and intensifying a growing social equity problem. Continue reading

Image from Wikipedia

How to drink to lose weight and save money

There is one common thing that I’ve frequently observed among people who find it difficult to lose weight and those who wonder why they don’t seem to be able to save much money – they’re simply not very self-aware of their own habits, and they often complain that it’s hard to lose weight or save money.

This post is more on our drinking habits, so I won’t talk much about how to save money because it’s different for everyone. Some people have big necessary bills to pay, some have big unnecessary bills, and some people find it tough to get a good job. (What I do each month is to simply carve out my forced savings the minute my pay cheque gets deposited into my bank and transfer it into another account.)

Now to jump to my conclusion about healthy, economical drinking – just drink plain water all the time (duh).

People know that plain water is beneficial to the body, but you need to look at the economics of commercialized water – you may not be aware of how much money you are literally pissing into into the urinal and helping to fund the huge advertising campaigns of beverage makers to get you to drink even more sugared water. Continue reading

The Fitbit Zip activity tracker

Thoughts on Fitbit and activity trackers

I recently started using a Fitbit Zip activity tracker because I was intrigued by this whole idea of doing 10,000 steps a day to keep fit. At S$78 (before the Challenger member 10% discount), it’s not cheap but it’s not expensive either for a tiny pedometer that comes with Bluetooth wireless capabilities and built-in user account.

To be clear, it’s not like I need a pedometer, because I already jog regularly two to three times a week and I watch what I eat most of the time. I weigh myself daily now with a Fitbit Aria scale that logs my weight to my personal account and I can always study my weight variations anytime on my phone or PC.

But once you pique my curiosity and it involves tech and fitness, I just have to try it out to gain an understanding of what other people are raving about. Continue reading

Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013

Gorgeous Skies at Upper Peirce Reservoir

Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013

I often wake up early about 6am to go for jogs or to wait for the sunrise, and today I decided to go to Upper Peirce for the first time at such an hour to check out the sunrise. I was stunned by what I saw, and here are some photos all taken within a few minutes of each other. God truly creates beautiful things we cannot fathom.

Please feel free to download these images for your own desktop and smartphone wallpapers, and I’m not going to spoil them with watermarks because my ego isn’t that big. But if you’re going to share them or use it on your own site, please remember to credit me and the date with location (Ian Tan, Upper Peirce Reservoir, Singapore, 4 Jan 2014).

Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013 B

Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013 C

Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013 D

Monster at Upper Peirce 4 Jan 2013
And of course, I won’t forget to have a shot of my Ducati Monster 1100 Evo when the sky is so beautiful. This is the only photo where I had to use the HDR mode on my camera so I could bring out some details of the bike’s form.
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Garmin Forerunner 620 review

I recently wrote my first article for Geek Culture, a fantastic blog site for us tech pseudo-nerds and gaming fans. It’s a review of Garmin’s latest flagship running watch, the Forerunner 620.

If you’re serious about running, you’re probably already using a GPS running watch to track your weekly progress. And if you’re a geek, I would wager you are also wondering if somebody has fixed the various technical shortcomings of your current watch.

Issues like heavy weight, ugly looks, bulky size, inconvenient battery charging, short battery life, limited data displays, slow GPS lock-on to poorly designed websites, I’ve experienced all of them in the past four years since I started using different wrist devices to record my runs.

That’s why when Garmin first announced its latest flagship running watch – the Forerunner 620 – the geek in me sat up and noticed. From paper specifications alone, the watch appears to have been designed to fix most of these niggling issues. Even with its high price (USD449 with the improved and advanced Heart Rate Monitor, more on that later), it seemed too good to be true.

Check out the rest of the review here. Since I bought the watch, it had better be good, and hence my review is going to be pretty obvious.

Upper Peirce 31 dec 2013

Goodbye 2013, when meaningless gained meaning

Upper Peirce 31 dec 2013
Upper Peirce Reservoir, 31 Dec 2013. It was a surreal scene with mist and light rain, as if we had stepped into another dimension.

I’m glad to see 2013 come to an end. It’s been a year of many new experiences, many learnings and even more sobering realizations of the human condition. You might say that’s a good thing, but it wasn’t a fun year.

The biggest change in me this year came with the Great Clean-Up Diet, where I discovered how easy it was to lose weight (and keep it down). I still can’t believe how this massive transformation came about due to a bad case of bad foot fungus – I was forced to examine my entire diet and exercise regime and that’s when the snowball started rolling. Continue reading