Thursday, December 20, 2012

Air Purifier

Happy End of the World!

I bought an air purifier lately. You know, the air in Kuala Lumpur is polluted. An air purifier – sometimes called air cleaner – removes contaminants from the air, and helps boost our health.

There are many types of air purifiers in the market. If you are shopping for one, but are confused of the various technologies used, I give you some clues here…

HEPA Filter

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. An air cleaner using HEPA filter removes up to 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles. This is the most commonly used technology.

One drawback of this technology is that HEPA filters need to be replaced after a year or two, and they are costly.


Ionizers disperse negative ions into the air. These ions attach to airborne particulates. The electrically charged particulates in turn bond with each other and settle to the floor or wall.

Moisture discharges the ions. Therefore, this technology is less effective in humid places. In Malaysia, this essentially means ionizers only work inside air-conditioned rooms.

Another concern is that ionizers generate ozone, a lung irritant.

Water-based Air Refresher

A water-based air refresher, like the one shown above, sucks air into the water. Presumably the pollutants will dissolve in the water.

I have got one such device. I found its air flow to be quite weak, compared to a typical air purifier with HEPA filter. While I observed that the water was dirty after a day in use, it was not as effective as I wish to be.

Note that I added aromatherapy solution to the water, and the air which came out of it was very revitalizing. This device failed as an air cleaner, but it did serve other purposes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Now Everyone Can Drive an SUV

(source: Wikipedia)

Tony Fernandes, the founder of budget airline AirAsia and budget hotel Tune Hotel, has teamed up with Renault to produce sport utility vehicles (SUV).

I expect Tony to give us the cheapest SUV in the market. But the base model will be without air-conditioner, music player, power steering, power windows, air bag, cup holders and spare tyre. You may add some or all of these items – at additional charges.

Also, Tony will not appoint resellers for the SUV. You place order online and pick up your vehicle from the warehouse. Alternatively, pay a fee for it to be delivered to your doorstep.

Are you excited?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Uniquely America

Many years ago, when I was working in the US, I had a co-worker who came from China. One day, when we were having a chat, the Chinese guy said, “The US is different from the rest of the world.”

To some degree, he was right. Take, for example, measurement units: the world has adopted meter, kg and Celsius for a long time; Americans stubbornly cling to foot, pound and Fahrenheit. (I must admit that properties in Malaysia are still measured in square feet. The developers are probably concerned that switching to metric system would affect their sales.)

Back then, mobile phones in the world mostly ran on GSM networks. American carriers used a mix of GSM and homegrown technologies such as D-AMPS. It is worth noting that SIM card was essentially a European invention which is absent in American-developed D-AMPS, CDMA2000 and WiMax. The Americans never quite understand why we need it. Some think that we could simply store our PIN online rather than on the SIM card. But beware: if someone steals your PIN, he/she could make free calls while you bear the cost. Hardware authentication should be more secure.

Apple has just launched iPhone 5. The general consensus among the techies is that the iPhone 5 is a worthy upgrade of its predecessor, but lacks ‘wow’ factors. Yet it sells like hot cake – at least in the US. Take a look at the pie charts below…

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P/S: In case you are unaware, the tagline for Singapore tourism is Uniquely Singapore.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Apple – losing its mojo?

I had a gathering with my MBA coursemates two weeks ago. There were seven of us. Aside from one who still used an old Nokia cellphone with physical keyboard, there rest all had Samsung. No a single one of us had an iPhone…

Just two years ago, iPhone was the must-have item among gadget lovers. Today, it is being challenged by the Android phones in general, and Samsung Galaxy in particular. Last quarter (Q3 FY12), Apple sold 26 million iPhones, a significant drop from the 35.1 million in the previous quarter. While Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, attributed the dismal sales to consumers holding out for the next-generation iPhone, I suspect there were other factors at play.

Of course, iPad still dominate the tablet market, and Apple will soon strike back with iPhone 5 (the new iPhone?). Let’s see if the Fruit Empire will be able to regain its past glory.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Some time ago, I wrote about acupuncture in my blog. Acupuncture is effective in treating certain syndromes, but not everyone is comfortable to prick needles into his/her skin. There is an alternative: moxibustion (艾灸).

Moxibustion works in the same principle as acupuncture, except that it uses heat instead of needle. There is subtle difference, though. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the principle of yin and yang. Moxibustion is most suited for treating syndromes caused by deficiency of yang, e.g. menstrual pain. As for whether it can used to treat syndromes caused by too much yang, e.g. fever, the books I read seem to give different views. In such situations, it is advisable to consult qualified TCM doctors.

In Malaysia, you can buy ‘moxa rolls’ from Beijing Tongrengtang (北京同仁堂). The moxa rolls produced a lot of smoke, and not everybody likes it. There are also some ‘smokeless moxa rolls’ sold in China. I intend to order them online.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Symphony of Lights – in Malaysia!

People who have visited Hong Kong must be familiar with the show known as Symphony of Lights. The show is played at Victoria Habour at 8 o’clock every evening.

In conjunction with Lunar New Year 2012, Thien Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur had staged a similar show. Though on a much smaller scale, the show was no less interesting…

The temple…

Playing with zoom…

Here you go, the show of lights…

As in the past years, Thien Hou Temple was decorated with large number of lanterns…

One thing I like about Thien Hou Temple is that devotees are told to burn just 4 joss sticks – one for the Deity of Haven, and one for each of the three in-house deities. Traditionally, Chinese burn 3 joss sticks for every deity. By burning fewer joss sticks, Thien Hou Temple is considerably less smoky. This is good for the health of the people and the environment…

Friday, February 03, 2012

In praise of Introverts

The February 6, 2012 issue of Time Magazine features an article: The upside of being an Introvert. As I am an introvert, this article immediately caught my attention.

Our society has not been very kind to the introverts. People don’t pay so much attention to us; and we are less likely to be successful salespersons – that is, unless we sell online. However, according to the Time article, introversion is not all bad. Throughout history, there have been many great people who are introverts. See the list below:


  • Mohandas Gandhi
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Moses
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Warren Buffett
  • Manmohan Singh
  • Bill Gates
  • Mother Teresa
  • Barack Obama


  • Bill Clinton
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Steve Jobs
  • Boris Yeltsin
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Winston Churchill
  • George W. Bush

It is worth noting that America’s two richest men – Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – are both introverts. Among athletes, Joe DiMaggio (baseball player) was an introvert, while Muhammad Ali was an extrovert. Former President Bill Clinton is extroverted, but his wife Hillary is introverted.

The author also says that introverts often prefer to express themselves in writing. Maybe that’s why I am blogging here…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Pick Stocks

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about the investment strategy of Peter Lynch, an American fund manager. Some of you are probably interested in it, and want to learn more.

I recently bought the stocks of Padini, an apparel maker. I made the purchase based on the guidelines given by Lynch. Now I will tell you how I came up with this decision:

  • In the past few years, Padini’s revenue has been growing at about 9% annually, and profit has been growing at more than 20% annually.
  • P/E ratio was about 9.5, which wasn’t too expensive. (According to Lynch, if the profit growth doubles the P/E ratio, the stock is a bargain.)
  • The company has more cash than debt.
  • PADINI is not a hot stock. (Hot stocks tend to be riskier.)
  • We buy clothes even when economy is bad.

Of course, I am not an investment guru; I may be wrong. The picture is not all rosy. For one, Padini’s brands are relatively weak. Uniqlo, the Japan-based apparel maker, has a much stronger brand. Then again, Uniqlo may not pose a serious threat. Clothes sold by Uniqlo are often too warm for Malaysian climate.


P/E ratio is short for Price/Earning ratio. We compute P/E ratio by dividing the stock price with earning per share.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My Hong Kong Trip (VI)

Recycling in Hong King

Recycle bins are common sight in Hong Kong. Here are some…

In Ocean Park…

In Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center, Wanchai…

Foreigners in Hong Kong

Before visiting Hong Kong, I already knew that there were many Filipino workers in the Chinese territory. It turned out that there were plenty of Indonesians too.

While Filipinos congregate in Central on Sunday, Indonesians do so in Causeway Bay, not far from my hotel. I later learned that Thais meet at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Indonesians in Causeway Bay…

Hong Kong Girls

I didn’t see many pretty girls in Hong Kong. Which came as a surprise, given that the SAR was an affluent and trendy city.

Occasionally I came across pretty girls. But chances were, they were Mandarin speakers…

No Clear Sky

As an avid photographer, I like to take landscape photos with blue sky. Unfortunately, during my 8-day trip to Hong Kong, the sky was almost always shrouded in haze. The wind had blown the polluted air from Mainland China to the SAR.

Colonial Era Place Names

Unlike Malaysian Government who wasted no time to rename most of the streets after independence, Hong Kong still retains many of the colonial era place names. We came across such names like Jordan, Nathan Rd, Wellington St, Shelter St...

I suspect Hongkongese miss the days when they were ruled by the Brits, especially when the two SAR chiefs, Tung Chee Hwa and Donald Tsang, disappoint them.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

One Up on KLSE

I am learning to invest in stock market, and I have just finished reading this book:

One Up on Wall Street, by Peter Lynch

Lynch is a former fund manager. He shares many similarities with Warren Buffet – both of them are long term investors who ignore short-term market fluctuation; both of them invest in companies, not in the market.

However, Lynch differs from Buffet in some other ways. Buffet likes to invest in companies with durable competitive advantages. Such companies would have very good track record; they would have been profitable for many years. The problem is: stocks of such companies won’t come cheap.

Lynch, on the other hand, groups companies into 6 categories – slow growers, stalwarts, fast growers, cyclicals, turnarounds, and asset plays. He has devised a strategy for each of these categories.

Lynch likens a potential fast grower to Harrison Ford. The Hollywood superstar was a carpenter before he joined the cast of Star Wars. A stalwart, on the other hand, is like a lawyer. A lawyer’s wagers, while high, don’t come close to Ford’s income.

In his book, Lynch guides on how to pick a winner, when to buy, when to sell etc…

After reading my post up to here, some of you are probably getting excited, and want to get a copy of this book. Those who have read this book may want to resign from your job and become a full-time investor. But let’s be realistic, can you become a millionaire by investing in stocks?

Let’s say your initial capital is RM10,000, and you invest in just one security. (Few people put all their eggs in one basket!) Within five years, the price of this stock rises by 10-fold. Your investment now values at RM100,000 – not bad at all! Even so, you’re still just a 0.1 millionaire.

I have invested in a few stocks, but I still can’t retire, yet…