Demonetized currency, re-examine our ports, winds is changing


I sometimes write about wider topics before the weekend.

I travelled to India in late 2016 amid the aftermath of the Indian government sudden announcement that the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes are obsolete within a short period of a month or so. I was only able to exchange limited (government directed restriction and limited supply) new notes at the money changer at the Bangalore airport and barely enough to last for the three days I was there to conduct training and I had to find places that accept credit card to preserve whatever amount of rupees I had on me. When I travel to Philippines, the same happened for older peso notes but fortunately the timeframe to demonetize them was longer and so there was not much impact except those old pesos that my wife kept cannot be used anymore. There are good reasons to ban the old notes and I shan’t go into them here. It is the inconvenience and pain that the law abiding citizens and we tourists had suffered.

Analog modems, com ports are gone from the computers. Ok, pun intended.

I think we need to also look at shipyards and dry docks in Singapore.

Singapore in the 60s and 70s needed all the infrastructure it had inherited from the British to keep everyone at work. The ports are the bedrock on which a world leading ranked Singapore shipping hub is born from, and the shipyards and dry docks created two world leading oilrig builders – Sembawang Shipyard and Keppel Offshore and Marine.

There was this story regarding the Saudi government seeking advice from then PM Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) about the new economic city of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and LKY was told that top foreign advisors had advised the Saudi government to line the coast line with industries and build high class residences on the hills further inland. LKY told them this advice from those advisors are rubbish, instead the coast line should be lined with high class residences. Background is the oil producing facilities are on the east coast of the Saudi peninsula and KAEC is on the west coast and it will not have oil refinery nor lots of heavy industries. So LKY’s advice was adopted and appreciated given that he had the interest of the Saudis at heart and he is viewed as a dear friend ever since.

Our Singapore coast line, in the east side is lined by the East Coast Park. However, the western end is dominated by port, docks, and dry docks. There are some high end condominiums in around the famous Sentosa area but majority of the southern to western coast line are industrial.

There were good reasons when we began with what we had, i.e. shipyards left by the British armed forces, but the Singapore economy has been less reliant on manpower intensive industries and large scale manufacturing has nearly all but shifted out while Singapore embarked to re-positioned our economy to more brain-driven sectors in services, pharmaceuticals and so forth.

It is also strange that two Temasek (i.e. state) owned oilrig builders duke it out in our tiny island state. I mean we don’t build two national airlines to compete against one another, why we need two oilrig builder giants compete against each other and the world which are cheaper and faster?

A shift of thinking on the big picture level is needed, nothing is sacrosanct to refit our economy’s engine, and this creates opportunity to re-draw the Singapore coastline and bring greater value and enhance our position in the new economy winds.

Lastly, to steer this post towards my favorite topic of data center, some of those land are prime and close to one of the subsea cable landing station and thus will give more choices to data center site selection! Ok, it is not totally related but this is my article. šŸ˜‰

Have a good weekend ahead.

Demonetized currency, re-examine our ports, winds is changing

The best crew I have flown with


Today is the eve of the lunar Chinese New Year (27th January 2017), and it is time to recall the things that happened over the course of the last 365 days. Despite the tragedy, the faces of the crew members and the helping and concerned passengers warms my heart till today.

I sent the below email to Xiamen International Airline email contact today (27th January 2017).

= = = = = = =


Today at 10:30


I am a passenger on MF855 from Tianjin to Singapore on 9th December 2016 with stop-over at Xiamen International airport.

After the flight took off from Xiamen International airport and shortly after dinner was served on board which is about 7pm, a passenger near the emergency row had problem and needed medical attention which the crew quickly responded and took turns giving CPR. Announcements were made to all passengers to seek for medical expertise but no one is clearly available.

The crew gave CPR non-stop until the airplane touched down around 11pm and the medical doctor from Singapore Changi Airport is on board. While the passenger not gaining consiousness and passed away, the effort of the well trained and responsive crew members are all to be commended. Besides family members of the passenger-in-distress, two other passengers also rendered help and the crew members expressed their gratitude to them.

I am proud to have seem the great professionalism, dedication, and warmth of the crew of Xiamen International airline MF855 that night.

Please forward this letter to the crew with my gratitude.

I apologise for taking so long to write this note.

With best regards,


= = = = = = = =

Just to add, all the passengers on board co-operated to wait patiently and quietly, as the crew had announced to let the doctor from the airport to get on board quickly to assist the passenger-in-distress. We disembark the plane at around 11:45pm.

The best crew I have flown with

Movie or TV programme that featured a Data Center

Published 2 September 2016

I intend to write less business-like post before the weekend about a month ago. So here is this week’s contribution which is about how data center are being presented in movies or TV series.

Halt and Catch Fire is a popular AMC programme that fictionalized how tech start-ups were like in the 1980s. The show got me piqued when it featured a data center in one of the episode 3 in season 2 and a data center I worked back in 1995 looked almost the same with shelves for manuals and folders in the same data center space, cabinet size tape machines humming along. It is quite a realistic depiction of data center back then in the period of 1980s as per the timeline of the episode.

However, I also watched the pilot episode of Scorpion (about a team of geniuses) that has a very bad depiction of data center. A data center building entrance door is a roller-shuttle style door and protected by a lock that can be disabled when the neighbourhood power cabinet was shutdown. Hmm, shouldn’t any electronics on premises be protected by UPS or battery-powered? When the team enters the data center room, lo-and-behold two rows of racks are there with gaps between every rack and its neighbour. Now who would place racks in this manner? Perhaps they are short of budget and couldn’t find sufficient IT racks. Sigh. And the team enter a caged area where the door has no electronic lock of any kind? Now the worst part of the show about IT is that they are trying to locate a file and somehow they identified a particular hard disk to contain that file in a NAS appliance that houses 14 hard disks. Now we should know better that usually hard disks are configured in a RAID array and data from a file will be split across the hard disks in fixed-size fragments with duplicated checksum so that it can be rebuilt should any of the hard disk fails.

Slightly off angle from data center field are TV series like HBO’sĀ Silicon Valley, CSI:Cyber (about cybercrime) and Mr Robot (hacking). In one of the episode of Mr Robot in season 1, Mr Robot sits in the Steal Mountain (phew, a play of the name Iron Mountain which do have data center business) which is pretty authentic and most likely filmed in an actual data center.

If anybody remember a movie called SwordFish, it features a programmer’s workstation with 7 computer screens, now tell me who program with 7 computer screens? The Terminator movie Terminator: Genisys has a pretty futuristic depiction of a data center that has time travelling machine right in the middle. Hmm, well artistic license. And the most entertaining (and still remembered by many people) is the scene whereby Tom Cruise hangs in the air when trying to steal data from CIA computer room.

By the way, lots of live TV programmes, movies are delivered over the network through cloud network (Netflix sits on Amazon Web Services), content delivery network (CDN) and data centers and companies like Akamai, ChinaNetCenter and others have grown on the back of image/file/video caching. And product placement by technology company like Huawei, Cisco, Apple are common these days. But I digressed.

I like Sneakers (hacking including social hacking) and there is interesting scenes of stealing the voice print, retinal image and fingerprint of a computer scientist to enter a secured room. The Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles series has some scene of computer company and servers, I seem to recall it was not too glaringly wrong or something like that. Live Free or DieHard (2007) has a pretty cool mobile containerized data center cum operations center which I was impressed.

Now which movie or TV programme I will like to watch during this weekend, perhaps one that features a data center or a computer? 2001:A Space Odyssey (1968) or Transcendence (it featured a underground data center, 2014). I may watch both of them anyway.


Movie or TV programme that featured a Data Center