John Malkovich on Politics

7 Feb 2012 In: Interesting, Quotes

John Malkovich once said:

This is what politics is to me: Somebody tells you all the tress on your street have a disease. One side says give them food and water and everything will be fine. One side says chop them down and burn them so they don’t infect another street. Thar’s politics. And I’m going, “Who says they’re diseased? And how does this sickness manifest itself? And is this outside of a natural cycle? And who said this again? And when were they on the street?” But we just have people who shout, “Chop it down and burn it” or “Give it food and water.” And there’s your two choices. Sorry, I’m not a believer.

Herbert Hoover on Engineering

27 Jan 2012 In: Interesting, Quotes
Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States said the following about Engineering:

“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.


The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned…


On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope. No doubt as years go by the people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts hs name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other people’s money . . . But the engineer himself looks back at the the unending stream of goodness which flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.”

He was originally a professional mining engineer and was the first US president to serve with salary.

More quotes from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association.

Add a lock screen icon to menu bar: Mac OS X

10 Jan 2012 In: Geek, Mac, Tips

To quickly lock a screen on Mac OS X, add a lock screen icon to the menu bar.

Lock screen icon in menu bar of Mac OS X

Lock screen icon in menu bar of Mac OS X

  • Access the KeyChain Access utility. Using Spotlight seems to be the quickest way with the term “KeyChain”.
  • From the menu, access KeyChain Access -> Preferences. (or ⌘,)
  • Activate Show Status in Menu Bar

And we have a quick icon to lock the screen as and when we need to leave the screen unattended for a moment.

Source of Geographical Knowledge

4 Jan 2012 In: Geek, Interesting, Theories, Travel

Having around several countries in the past few years, I conclude that the following could be true.

Source of Geographical Knowledge Chart

Possibly true and sad

Skunk Works Rules of Operation

9 Jan 2011 In: Geek, Interesting

According to Wikipedia:

skunkworks project is one typically developed by a small and loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project primarily for the sake of radical innovation. The term typically refers to technology projects, and originated with Skunk Works, an official alias for the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs.

A skunkworks project often operates with a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. These projects are often undertaken in secret with the understanding that if the development is successful then the product will be designed later according to the usual process.

And with reference to the official site:

Skunk Works Rules of Operations:

  1. The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.
  2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.
  3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
  4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
  5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
  6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.
  7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.
  8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.
  9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn’t, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.
  10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
  11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
  12. There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor, the very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
  13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
  14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.

Looking at the rules, it appears to be a “hack” to a highly bureaucratically system. And with the “hack” sufficiently mature and accepted by the system, it forms a particular pattern which the system can accept.

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

- John Adams

Of Misdialed Numbers

21 Oct 2010 In: Geek, Random

Most of us have received calls from innocent parties who misdialed the numbers or simply recorded someone else numbers with yours by mistake.

Or simply the new number that we have are simply recycled by the Telcos without an insufficient inbetween period.

Nobody like misdialed calls, especially if it is repeatedly misdialed. And we are not very good at remembering which numbers are misdialed.

Hence on my phone, I keep a “misdialed” contact and this contact have as many numbers as there is for people who misdialed repeatedly. It is provided that you have Caller ID enabled.

So when the misdialed number comes ringing in,  I simply can ignore the call.

Engrish Engrish

19 Sep 2010 In: Geek, Singapore

I am a fan of

And here is my contribution to Engrish.

Engrish on a toy hat

Engrish on a toy ha

Some propaganda here. Please follow your local government!  Not surprising that I found this toy hat in Singapore.

And here is my contribution to Engrish.

ERP, Foreign Cars and Taxis

26 Aug 2010 In: Singapore, Theories

ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) is one of the method that Singapore use to control road usage. It has it own merits and I will take a look at its current state.

For a start, Singapore registered cars require a IU (in-vehicle unit) to be installed. Or any other vehicle to have an IU should they wish to drive into streets with ERP gantries. For cars without an IU, and here we are referring to foreign cars, there have several options which is to install a temp IU or to use ERP roads under the Fixed ERP Fee Scheme.

More information can be found over at LTA website (direct link to FAQ). At $10 per day, foreign cars without IU can use any ERP roads and they need only pay upon leaving the country via the 2 road based checkpoints. While LTA cited that the $10 is derived from the average ERP usage of foreign cars in Singapore, $10 to someone who need to drive in and out of the CBD several times during the course of the day sounds like a good deal.

Such parties who drive in and out of the CBD several times include and not limited to taxi drivers, traveling salesman (cannot resist writing the geeky term) and delivery drivers/riders.

If such parties can enjoy a day pass system, they could enjoy cost savings which will save business cost. Singapore after all is pro-business.

Looking at cab drivers, if there is such a system for them, it could reduce the peak hour fare for commuters. And taking out ERP rates which are currently passed onto the consumers, cab ridership could potentially go up during peak hours, which is the golden period for taxi drivers with the current 35% fare surcharge.

At the same time, cab drivers need no worry driving through ERP roads in search for fares, especially during the evening rush hours.

But having a day pass system may have its flaws. For example ERP main purpose is to control usage of road during peak hours. It is to encourage planning of trips to non-peak hours if possible. And such non-critical delivery services or non-essential trips should not be made during the peak hours. Hence any proposed day pass system for local vehicles should factor this in. A refined version is to have the day pass applicable to trips made outside of the peak hours, and this alternative day pass priced at a lower rate.

For taxi drivers, their customers have to travel during peak hours (Have to get to office DUH!) and hence a day pass scheme should help them more than anyone else. Consumer get to save on ERP rates. And taking ERP out of the equation of picking between a cab and owning a car, the usage cost of taking a public cab can be much lower than owning a car. This can motivate more drivers to take public transport.

It was some time since I last took a train to work.

Having send my trusty scooter to the workshop the day before and by a series of unfortunate miscommunication, did not manage to collect it the same evening and end up taking public transport for another half a day.

What was interesting is that it seems that the stations  name announcements are made in English only. I find that perfectly fine. What was interesting that for the morning ride towards town, there as this announcement with the content something along this line:

“If you see any suspicious characters or unattended bags, please report to the station staff or contact us via the on train communication system”

The message was announced in Chinese and there was no English version of it. It left  my mind thinking of which demographic was deem more suspicious. I could be thinking too much.

On a totally unrelated note, a Chinese gentleman gave up his seat to an old lady on the train. The old lady refused saying that she will be only travelling for 2 stations. The gentleman insisted and the old lady took the seat.

To this gentleman, welcome to Singapore.

About this blog

ThinkingNectar talks about the interest of Chin Yong, a PHP/Python/Web developer residing in Singapore. Life, society, and codes should entails most of what goes between the ears of this coffee drinker.

What makes you think?