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Friday, 6 January 2017

Christmas in Kuching


Over Christmas this year I spent three days in Kuching in Sarawak, Borneo. The initial impression you get when walking around the city centre: everything looks a bit run down and could do with some fresh paint. The Batik Boutique Hotel where I stayed was getting old but the staff was very accommodating, happy to upgrade me to a better room and helpful with planning excursions.

Christmas period is very quiet. Most shops are closed. Coffee shops are still open though.


Surprisingly the town is much more animated at night: woke up at 3am when a group of car tuning dudes were trying out their engines right outside the hotel. They looked like they were preparing for a Fast and Furious night race. There is an active motor racing culture in Kuching. Several cafes have a garage or car racing theme. The best one is Feast and Furious which shows off actual racing cars and motorbikes collected by Alex 'Stmrock' Wong, a local biking fan.


Lots of quirky little cafes. Even in low season people queue up at Black Beans Coffee to buy some freshly ground Sarawak coffee.

If you're into lavish dinner buffets you can find good ones for under MYR100 (SGD30) at the Carvery, the Hilton Waterfront Cafe and the Pullman.

Going to Kuching from Singapore is quick (the flight lasts a bit more than an hour). I paid SGD360 return during the Christmas period when booking 2 days in advance.

Going from the Kuching airport to the city centre by taxi is less than MYR30.





Monday, 31 October 2016

How to Choose What to Eat? Three Easy Guidelines




How do you pick what you eat?

"I listen to my body, I eat what I feel like eating" this is tricky since our natural drives (hunger, cravings, feeling full, feeling sick) are evolutionary traits that make sense in the context in which we evolved: food scarcity. When food is available all the time some of those natural drives are harder to read.
"I count calories" is a model that doesn't quite fit the purpose as discussed in a previous video...

Sources:
  • For details behind glucose metabolism, fat storage, muscle gain through short high intensity weight training: Body by Science by Doug McDuff who also gave a number of talks and interviews available on Youtube
  • Video from What I've learned describing visually the chemical reactions that take place in the body when you eat either alcohol or sugar.
  • Self-tested techniques for fat loss, slow-carb diets, blood sugar stabilisation using low GI food and muscle gain using short high intensity weight training: The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris.
  • Healthy eating in general with justification for each food type, detailed explanations on the role of hormones in fat storage: The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor.
  • Detailed explanations for the reasons behind cardiovascular disease, the role of sugar in inflammation as well as oxidation of certain categories of lipoproteins (cholesterol) and why it's not about saturated fat: The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden. 
  • Nutrition and metabolism from a scientific point of view, detailed explanation of why thermodynamic calorie counting is wrongly applied to food, the risk in misinterpreting statistical results from scientific papers. The World Turned Upside Down by Richard Feinman.
  • Food choices and supplementation specifically aimed at improving general mood and mental performance through fine-tuning of neurotransmitters, look up all Youtube videos by Steve Fowkes, in particular this Google talk. Steven's detailed breakdown of how body energy metabolism works is here (in the context of Alzheimer's). 
  • For cutting-edge info about nutrition, health, self-experimentation (bio-hacking): the Dave Asprey's podcast Bulletproof Radio.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Autonomous, Trustless and Unstoppable (Part 4)

How does a blockchain system establish distributed consensus?



Shooting location: Senjogahara marsh and Yuno Lake, Nikko, Japan

Sources:
Mastering Bitcoin Andreas Antonopoulos (free on-line reading, ebook on Safari Online Books).

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Autonomous, Trustless and Unstoppable (Part 3)

What functions of a bitcoin node help with building a consensus about the state of the distributed ledger?



Shooting location: Robertson Quay, Singapore

Sources:
Mastering Bitcoin Andreas Antonopoulos (free on-line reading, ebook on Safari Online Books).

Part 1
Part 2

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Investing in Singapore

Indexes

The main index ETF (What is an ETF?) in Singapore is the one that tracks the Straits Time Index SDPR STI, which lists 30 Singapore blue chips.
The STI went down recently (over the past 2 months) therefore it would look like a good time to buy. 

Other indexes available in SG:
  • US: tracks the US S&P index: SPDR S&P500 ETF
  • China: United SSE 50 China ETF
  • ASEAN: CIMB FTSE ASEAN 40

Brokerage Firms

You have to open 2 accounts: 1 with a brokerage firm and one CDP account as explained here.

Outlooks

ETF recommendations 2016:
  • buy Korea/China
  • buy Indonesia
DBS ETF recommendations 2016:
  • Thailand: expect a rebound because of low oil prices.
  • Philippines: strong Peso because of steady stream of remittances coming from foreign workers.

Books

Global Expatriate's Guide to Investing (Safari Online Books)

Crowdfunding

  • CrowdCube is a UK-based company.
  • Kickstarter.



Saturday, 14 November 2015

Autonomous, Trustless and Unstoppable (Part 2)



Applications of the blockchain beyond payment. This is part 2. Click here for part 1.

Shooting location: Malapascua and Kalanggaman Island, Philippines

Links:

Ethereum Frontier

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Autonomous, Trustless and Unstoppable (Part 1)



Those sci-fi tech thrillers are about to get real. 

Shooting locations: Phuket, Thailand and Lembongan, Indonesia.

Sources:
Blockchain (by Melanie Swan)
Bitcoin clients



Monday, 5 October 2015

How To Use Your Air Conditioning (For Westerners in Humid Countries)

I used to hate air conditioning... until I read the user manual.




Sunday, 30 August 2015

Make Decisions Based on Estimates


My current job involves quantification activities, in particular to estimate the impact of process improvement changes. I have been browsing a book called How to Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard that brings a whole toolset and methods to go about this.

The main idea in this video is that you can make decisions based on simple calculations rather than relying on human judgement alone. There are at least 3 tools to help with measurement: decomposition, confidence intervals, and Monte-Carlo simulation.

The lush greenery in the background is Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.