Thursday, August 31, 2006

PC got sicky

My personal laptop gets uppity all of a sudden. The graphics went haywired. The header, menus and everything else basically became black and striking in contrast. I was very sure I didn't turn on the accessibility function. The scrollbars also went missing. I boot it up again and to my horror, the Microsoft Office suite went bonkers. Icons and shortcuts went missing and they somehow became not available. I then reinstall Office but it turns out the installation didn't manage to complete itself. Anyhow, the office programs work again but now, fonts are missing. I download the fonts and redeploy them.

It seems fine again now, but Excel still can't open one excel sheet that contains macros regardless whether I enable or disable it. Rats. It feels like my pc now has got this disability, as if a finger is not working.

Now. How on earth do you explain something like this. I'm from an IT background but can't muster any acceptable reasoning for it. I can only blame it on it's old age. 4 years old.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Flustered but not sunken

I came back quite late yesterday. Missing two turns to go back didn't help either. I didn't know what was I thinking. I realised my mind was overwhelmed and occupied with work or whatever that happened during work that day even after settling back, sinking myself on the sofa.

Today wasn't a good one either. Wasn't feeling well, especially lunch time. That sucks, doesn't it? Having cold sweats and unable to concentrate. And I still had to quickly figure out and spit out answers eloquently when being questioned all of a sudden whilst walking back.

What it means to be a consultant? It means to be the bad guy. It means to see people disliking your presence. Yes, I can see that. It means cracking the whip and hassling a horde of others. But I do agree with what my mentor said. If we don't do that, all this shit is not going to run.

Perhaps like most things, it will grow on you. I certainly hope so. I'm not sure if this is the kind of career I'm looking at. Perhaps people are meant to adapt to their jobs, not otherwise, that is having the job carved out to fit the individual. There are certain perks and especially small little things that keeps you delighted to last you for the day.

This kinds of reminding me the dark and gloomy days of the past but which I used it again and again to justify my background as though with glory.

I certainly hate work bitching. But it makes up for blogging content at least.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Neighbourhood from the dark room

No tripods were used. Camera handheld bracing against the balcony grills.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

They will do the talking

Chilli in the sky

This mooncake by Mei Sum was sent to me by my friend from Hong Kong. That was uber cool.

A view from above

Not having photoshop sucks.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When +1% in BLR happens

Long term interest rates that remained historically low beginning after the 1997 recession as well as relatively low inflation has propelled house prices to their new elevated levels. As inflation is taking off and persistently so, albeit it might be cost pushed rather than demand led, interest rates must rise to levels that give a positive real return and to fight inflation.

By and large, houses are mostly financed by loans, so purchases are heavily affected by interest rates. BLR currently stands at 6.75% and so far, we had witness several hikes in the OPR by Bank Negara for it to reach at this level. From hearsay as well as bankers' prediction, the hikes are going to be continuous due to the high inflation and in sight, another 0.25% is well expected.

So in my moments of idleness, I used a mortgage calculator and did a little experimentation with fictional figures to actually gauge the real financial impact that would befall salaried mortals like myself. The industry practise for calculating the maximum monthly payment and therefore the amount of eligible loan is by using 40% of one's monthly income. From a simple spreadsheet populated with off the head figures, I had managed to come out with the following conclusions.

A hike in interest rate would basically affect debtors in two ways. Increase in the monthly payment or less principal to be borrowed. A 1% increase in BLR actually makes 10.48% increase in the monthly payment. While 0.25% hike in BLR increases monthly payment by 2.569%. So there. I had never realised that one hundred basis points have such an impact to the borrowing cost. In terms of the principal, every 1% increase in BLR would strip off about 10% of the principal one would be eligible to borrow.

So, for current homeowners still paying their home loans, a 1% hike would mean they'll have to absorb the 10% increase in their monthly mortgage payment by means of cutting back from other areas. And if they can't, they'll have to sell. For new borrowers, a 10% of principal would be slashed off from their eligible loan amount. Hence, their purchasing power is directly affected.

Borrowing cost should be viewed properly before one commits to join in the race. Before they know it, an oversupply situation emerges and houses come crashing down.


Yeah I'm boring. I know.

Lament the state

Excerpt from a local newspaper.

"..proactive step to speed up MyKad issuing process".

What a joke. After several years, MyKad applicants can get card within 24 hours. Well, 24 hours is certainly better than 3 months. But why would the streamlining and optimization process require such a long time? It is ironic really to have such inefficient system in our home ground when we promote ourselves to be technologically competent and a first class provider through our government's umbrella body MDC. We have managed to help other countries' government to issue identity smart cards within 15 minutes. Yes, you read that right. The moment an applicant gets a queue ticket until him or her receiving the spanking new card is under 15 minutes. The counter officers would have to be profusely apologetic to the applicants should a delay of 15 minutes is to occur. For all intents and purposes, should there be any problems whatsoever that would require the applicants to return the day after, they would need to have a bloody good reason and tact to do the explanation.

Freedom of information. I really hope we are not taking a few steps back. Dr. M kind of hinted of such a scenario to take place recently at the UTP press conference. LKY better get a firm grip on this as the ministry in charge and ensure he walks the talk. Do your part and sign this online petition, "Malaysian Freedom of Information Act".

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Needless moments of anxiety

Wanted to bring my camera to office tomorrow, so I'd searched for my camera to place it on my desk as an ostentatious reminder. The camera's missing from it's usual spot. Strange, I thought. So I went on to find it at other logical places and even not so logical spots within my room, my brothers' room, inside my car and even at the kitchen.

The search has been to no avail. Flashback of memories brought me back to weeks back when I last brought it out and I remembered clearly I did bring it back home safely. And I did what insane people do when they can't find their things. Go over all the spots and look again as if it might mysteriously and miraculously appear to my delight. It need not be said that that wasn't how the script went.

Major suspect is back. My mom. How can that be, you ask? There were many times where she would move my things around to my dismay and give me ludicrous reasons of which I cannot possibly accept. To illustrate an event of that, around 8 years back, I had leapt to my horror when two thousand ringgit were missing from my drawer. Of course, I was still a student and that was then a most ridiculous amount I ever had in cash. It meant the world to me. She gave me a polished remark that she took it for safe keeping on my behalf and that it's not safe to keep it in the drawers. Yeah, and that was the last time I had heard about my money.

So I questioned my mom.

Me: "Ni yiu na nga eh camera mau?"
(Did you take my camera?)

Mom: o.O? *lost for 3 seconds*

Mom: "Ohhh...yiu...choy nyia eh khui eh coat tippoi piang ten"
(Yeap, it's hidden inside your coat inside your wardrobe)

And thanks to smashpOp, that's how I found my camera which would otherwise be hidden in my jacket inside my wardrobe from me.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Boom or Doom

In my first sentence, I have to declare that I am no economist and whatever below are my personal opinion whether flawed or not. Let me get on with another attempt of an average joe's discussion about the economy. The government predicted a 6% increase in our economy and is still backing that figure eventhough other research house predicted a 5.2% with a rather handful of negative remarks. If the economy is measured by GDP alone, granted, that would be a possible figure to achieve, single handedly helped by our export of oil due to the phenomenal rise in price. But what would happen if we strip the oil factor out of the economy? Are we still looking at growth or a contraction? I'm more inclined to believe the latter.

Focusing on the vehicles sector, which is a big slice of the cake itself. Recent news reported that there is a glut of 250,000 cars in the market. An oversupply situation. In this case, it is not surprising that the multiplier effect would have given rise to the following news such as the EON VSS Scheme, component makers going bankrupt, second hand cars market in a dreadful state and so on. The figures released also indicated a contraction of the vehicles sector or at least, the passenger cars sector. Instead of a 2.5% growth prediction for year 2006, a contraction of 5% is registered for the first half of the year. So is it fair to say that there is a recession going on in this sector?

Even the almighty toyota has drop a 2-3% in sales compared to year 2005. One would shudder then what would befall Proton. I have been told and read from somewhere that the inventory of new Protons (although getting old fast gathering dust) unsold are earth shattering. On a much smaller scale, I had chanced upon a parking complex in Kota Kemuning parked full with brand new Chevrolet cars. Chevrolet may be facing a "Sei Foh Leh" time. It was definitely not a good sight.

My friend has been telling me that the tighter credit conditions imposed and not to mention the persistent rise in interest rate, are turning the tap of credit off. NPLs are creeping up and it is of no suprise the banks have to cut back on the unreasonable loans. People borrow much more than what they can actually afford these days.

Increasing cost of living are no doubt cutting into disposable income and hence affecting consumer spending. On another issue altogether, I am perplexed as to why properties prices have risen so much in recent years. It is pricing out the first time home buyers. I think the credit is a huge culprit here. It is unimaginable to even think of a 30/40 year loan years back. Who profits most from such scenarios? The developer pockets in the expensive sum. The banks happily reports loans growth and the house buyer saddled with an exhorbitant loan for 30 years or more, thinking that he has bought an upmarket property valued at such and such.

With the credit getting more expensive, I wonder how this crunch would affect the market. I've been told horrid stories of the recession as recent as 1997. In some way I seriously feel that the return of the valley is approaching soon.

"It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked. "

- Warren Buffett