Monday, June 06, 2016

Coffee and cigarettes

Cost of living and lack of savings seem to be big issues in Malaysia. I offer two simple suggestions: Quit smoking, and significantly cut down on "fancy" coffee and other drinks.

Let's assume you spend RM10 every day on cigarettes and RM10 on "fancy" coffee, that would be RM20 every day, or RM600 a month or RM7,300 a year just for coffee and cigarettes. Over 10 years, that would be RM73,000, enough to buy a decent new foreign car! Or even make a housing down-payment.

Now, RM73,000 is a substantial amount, and that was assuming you had just kept it "under your matress" (no investments). If you had invested that money instead, 10-year compounded interest at 3%/year (considered low for FD rate these days) would turn that RM73,000 to over RM83,686.

You can check it out for yourself with this useful Compound interest calculator.

I'm always amused when certain people cry out, "Where did all my money go?" or "How come I've worked for 10 years and have no savings?"

Maybe just quit smoking and fancy coffee?

Credit: Rae Aleen/flicker/CC

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Direct link to Adobe Reader X, Adobe Reader 10 (Acrobat Reader)

Reader Phil Ng alerted me about the latest direct link to Adobe Reader.

One of the major annoyances about Adobe Reader, which I have written about previously, is that Adobe insists that it can only be downloaded from its own servers.

The installer stub will force you to download unwanted toolbars and programs. Plus, it also installs Adobe Download Manager (ADM), which I do not want or need.

Here's the direct link:

Friday, July 29, 2011

A final request is not the same as a death wish

I was quite appalled to read this headline for a story about an ex-PM of Vietnam:

A Malaysian death wish for ex-PM

This story is among the "Most Viewed" online and has presumably made it to print. You only have to read the lede to realise that what the writer meant was "final request", "last request", or "last wish". None of these death wishes! Here's the dictionary definition of death wish, which has very negative connotations:

death wish n.

1. A desire for self-destruction, often accompanied by feelings of depression, hopelessness, and self-reproach.
2. A suicidal urge that presumably drives certain people to put themselves consistently into dangerous situations.

* death wish. The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company (accessed: July 28, 2011).

If you want to use an idiom, make sure you know what it really means!

Monday, November 01, 2010

LCD TV prices expected to fall

The AP reports that LCD TV prices are expected to fall due to reduced demand.

AP: LCD TV companies see falling prices as demand down

SEATTLE (AP) — Companies that make huge flat-screen televisions and their LCD panel components are alerting investors that demand is dropping in the U.S. and other developed markets.

If you're planning to buy one of these, wait a while more. I'd suggest holding out for the Xmas or New Year sales. If you're selling your LCD TV though, you'd better get rid of it soon!

In related news, The Star reports that the Malaysian consumer retail market is expected to be weak in the second half as consumers are becoming more cautious with their spending.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teh tarik, soft drink prices should NOT go up

Practically all servings of popular drinks like teh tarik and kopi/teh ais are prepared using condensed milk, which already contains a lot of sugar. So there is no justification for any rise in prices for these drinks even with the recent 5 sen/kg increase in retail sugar prices.

There is no excuse for condensed milk factories to raise prices either; they should only be using bulk sugar supplies which are not covered by the subsidy. If these factories complain about rising sugar prices, it implies that they are "stealing" from the consumer (retail) supplies of sugar.

The same goes for soft drink and other bottled/can drink factories. They should also be using bulk sugar only. Anyway, a number of these factories have switched to using high-fructose corn syrup as a sugar substitute. So again, there is no justification for any rise in prices.

Monday, October 05, 2009

It's not a battle royale unless...

One source of annoyance for editor-types is when writers repeatedly use "battle royale" when they mean to write "battle royal".

For example, check out the headlines for these two stories which cover the tiff between the Negeri Sembilan and Johor royal families.

To clarify:

Battle Royale is the title of a 2000 Japanese film directed by Kinji Fukasaku, which is based on the novel of the same name by Koushun Takami. The film was quite controversial when it first came out. It is known for its violent scenes and dark humour.

The intended phrase, battle royal, is a very old idiom, and it means "a fight in which more than two combatants are engaged" or "a heated argument".

The Star apparently knows the difference between the two phrases and has not used it in recent months (though they've let it slip into their the citizen's blogs and letters to the editor).

In the case of the duelling royal houses, I suppose you could invoke the film title because apparently, a gun was involved.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

List of Banned Publications in Malaysia

Just in time for Merdeka - here’s a list of banned publications in Malaysia which I culled from the Kementerian Dalam Negeri (Ministry of Home Affairs) website. This includes books, magazines, letters and even music. You can check it out for yourself at this link. KDN calls it the “Ileagal Publisher List”; note that they have misspelled “illegal”. Quite ironic.

Anyway, their website is very unuser-friendly, so I wrote a little program to scrape all the pages and dump them all into one neat Excel file. Plus, I’ve translated some of the terms from B.M., fixed the inconsistent date formats, and fixed most of the ALL-CAPS words.

This list is current as of Aug 31, 2009 and you can view the complete banlist here at the Zoho Viewer website; no special program is needed. You can also download the Excel file from there, if you want to slice-and-dice it in your favourite spreadsheet program or database program.

Thanks to Erna for reminding me about this list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

List of diploma and degree mills

In the age of Google, when info is so easy to verify, you'd think jobseekers would avoid buying fake credentials from degree and diploma mills. It would also be a pretty bad idea to post your fake credentials online, or to provide them to the press.

Unfortunately, thousands of people still choose this risky shortcut, as reported by The Star:
Dodgy Degrees

One "university" which wasn't listed in the Sunday Star story is Washington International University, which is also a well-known diploma mill.

See the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization website, where WIU is clearly listed as a degree mill:

WIU is also listed on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's page of "Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas":

You'll also get an idea of other "colleges" to avoid by browsing the above links. Obtaining a real degree takes time, effort, and commitment. Don't let your company hire anyone with one of these "degrees," and if you have a colleague with one of these credentials, you should report them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Onion skewers pessimistic news stories

This wickedly funny "story" from The Onion is an excellent send-up of all the gloom-and-doom stories in the media.

Solitary Crow On Fence Post Portending Doom, Analysts Warn

Friday, June 05, 2009

Piece be with you

In America, where gun rights are almost a religion, one should not be too surprised to read this report:
Gun-loving pastor to his flock: Piece be with you
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Kentucky pastor is inviting his flock to bring guns to church to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment.

New Bethel Church is welcoming "responsible handgun owners" to wear their firearms inside the church June 27, a Saturday. An ad says there will be a handgun raffle, patriotic music and information on gun safety.

This headline goes straight into my Headline Hall of Fame. Kudos to the writer or editor!

Also, who could resist gun-toting pastors?

UPDATE: My pal Riggy, an arms expert of sorts, has identified the pastor's gun as a Walther P99. It seems the pastor has James Bond aspirations! In recent Bond movies, this gun has replaced Bond's classic Walther PPK.

(AP Photo/Aaron Borton, The Courier-Journal, Story by By DYLAN T. LOVAN, Associated Press Writer)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"New Media" Business Template

This Non Sequitur comic strip by Wiley Miller nicely summarises the problem with many "New Media" business models.

(click on the thumbnail for the full strip)