Friday, August 22, 2014

Windows Phone - Hidden Nokia Diagnostics app (great for testing if you phone still works properly)

A few months back I took my Nokia Lumia 900 phone for servicing as it was having problems charging*. During the servicing, I noticed that the Nokia technician installed an app on my phone call called, "Diagonistics", which is a really useful app for testing the basic functions of the phone to make sure it's running properly.

Now, as I want to reset my phone to factory settings I thought I would run a quick google search on it to see if I can bring it up again if I ever need it in the future. Or whether I should just remove apps manually so that I can keep the app around for when I may need it again.

After my search, I can confirm that the "Diagonsitics" app is available to bring up again using the instructions below on your phone.

Hopefully this helps you understand your possible phone problems further!

(*typical problem for any phone when the bottom of the phone where the charging port is has been worn down or moved a little from normal usage).

Windows Phone 7
Nokia Diagnostics app
Nokia Windows Phones 7 devices have a "hidden" diagnostic app. This app can be used to confirm that device functionality is present and working as expected, and is particularly useful for verifying whether "odd" results are due to your code or to information from the hardware.

The tools can be accessed for the first time by entering ##634# on the call screen/dialler. Subsequently the app is listed with all your others under the title Diagnostics. The app is (anecdotally) present on other devices from other manufacturers, but may require an alternative key combination.

Windows Phone 8
There is also a video and a diagnosics tool available for Nokia Windows Phone 8 as well. Just check out their website:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting to and around Sungei Buloh wetland reserve in Singapore

ASEAN Heritage listed park
Like Pulau Ubin, Singapore has a few other hidden wildlife and nature based environments to offer you to explore.

Sungei Buloh wetland reserve based in the northwest area of Singapore, and with an area of 130 hectares, it is often a place of tranquility and serenity. There are many natural wildlife to be seen, including crocodiles, turtles, snakes, and more.

It has global significant and importance as a stop-over point for migratory birds was recognised by the Wetlands International's inclusion of the reserve into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network.

Sungei Buloh sign by the main entrance
What to do at Sungei Buloh wetlands?
The place is great for seeing nature in it's normal state. Just like visiting the zoo, if you're quiet enough and stay at a place long enough you will see animals, reptiles and birds.

Sungei Buloh wetland reserve map

What to bring? 
Best time to go?
As with everywhere in Singapore, it's hot. So the earlier in the day, the better (aim to arrive between at least 8-9am so you can depart gracefully before lunch). I recommend bringing an umbrella (for rain and extreme sun), some sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent (as there are tonnes of mozzies around).

It takes about 2.5-3-hrs to leisurely explore all of the Sungei Buloh (main side - not Kranji walk). You will find it is quite noisy at the start where everyone starts off and then quieten down as you go further and further out. Not everyone goes out to the far ends of this reserve, so if you're looking for more peace and quiet, I'd suggest heading further out and looking for viewing stations to take a quiet view of the surroundings.

A snake just hanging around at a viewing station not often visited..

A crocodile at Sungei Buloh

So how do you get to Sungei Buloh wetland reserve?
Bus schedule for the 925 from Sungei Buloh back to Kranji - for Sunday and Public holidays
By Bus:
Bus stop - 49209 Sg Buloh Wetland Reserve
SMRT Bus 925 at Kranji MRT Station - Board the SMRT Bus 925 at Kranji MRT Station.

Sundays and Public holidays the buses will drop you off at the main Reserve’s entrance. For the rest of the week (Mondays to Saturdays) the bus will disembark about 15-minute walk from the main Reserve’s entrance.

You can also take the Kranji Countryside Express bus from the MRT station, which will bring you just outside the Reserve. I believe the fee for this Express bus is around 4-6 SGD.

By Car:
If you are driving, take Lim Chu Kang Road, turn into Neo Tiew Road and then into Neo Tiew Crescent.
Alternatively, take Kranji Road and turn into Neo Tiew Crescent. There is free parking at the Reserve.

Destination: Sungei Buloh wetland reserve, near Kranji/ Woodlands, Singapore
Admission/ costs: Free entry
Opening Hours:  7.30am to 7.00pm on Monday to Saturday, 7.00am to 7.00pm on Sundays & Public Holidays
Important phone number: 67941401 (After hours 1800-471-7300 Nparks hotline)

Theatrette show screenings: Mondays to Saturdays - 9am, 11am, 1pm & 3pm including weekends and public holidays

Emergency number if you ever need it
Photos: More photos on Sungei Buloh, you can see them here in this FB photo album.

Helpful websites:
Check to plot your route ;)
National Parks - A Guide to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve -
Sungei Buloh Wetlands -
The Kranji Countryside Express Bus -
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve -

How to email a document on Microsoft Word Online

Every new user interface takes a while to learn and get used to. Just as it is when you move to a new home where you will find your old drawers, wardrobes, furniture, and rooms all in different places and as with every change, it takes a while to get your head around it.

This is the same for Microsoft Word Online. You may have noticed here that there are some things there and some things are aren't.

If you have looked in the options on Word Online, you may have realised that the 'Send using email' function that you are used to is not available. Instead when you click on File then Share, you see the options "Share with people", "Embed" but no direct function to email the document you have written to someone**.

So how to we email a document on Microsoft Word Online?

How to email a document on Microsoft Word Online
Part one - First download the document file off OneDrive*
1. Visit
This is the screen you see after you log into OneDrive

2. Click on Documents and find your document. In this example this is "Test document.doc"
This is the document we want to try download
3. Click on it and to select it (as shown below)
Document we want to download is selected

4. A menu will pop up showing you the actions you can do now.
Menu options when "Test document.doc" has been selected

5. Click on Download to download the document. Download simply means, bringing a copy of the document to your local computer (as it is currently stored on Microsoft's servers)
This is the download button that you press (after you have selected the document/s you want to download)

Now that you have downloaded a copy of the document to your computer, all you need to do now is  simply find the document you have just downloaded and email it out as you would when you normally attach attachments for your emails.

In case you are not sure, here are some quick steps for this using

Part two - Email the downloaded document (by attaching the document to your email)
1. Visit menu

2. Click on New (Compose new email)
Click on "New" to Compose a new email message
3. You will see the following screen
You will see your New email screen

4. Click on "Insert" and select "Files as attachments"** 
Click on "Insert" followed by "Files as attachments"

5. Find the document file, select and attach it (Click "Open" when you have found it). In this example, the file that we have downloaded is called "Test document". 
Find document file and attach it to your email
6. Just fill in the rest of your email and you are pretty much set to send your document via email. Well done! 

*This will only be available if you have been writing a document online on Word Online. As all documents that you work on, on Microsoft Office Online will be automatically stored on your own OneDrive on Microsoft's servers. These will be accessible anywhere you have an internet connection and your log in details.
**Share from OneDrive will only share a link to the file and allow you to let whoever you send the link to "Edit" or "View" only the file. This is great if you want to work on a document together online (and edit it in real time!), but for most people who may not be as tech savvy or users of OneDrive or Word Online, it may be easier to send them a traditional document via email. It's completely up to you which method you would like to try.

Other useful guides:

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to use Microsoft Office online on Ubuntu/ Lubuntu

A friend of mine recently asked me to help him to use Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint) on his laptop which is running on Lubuntu (as I helped install this on an old laptop of his).

To keep things simple and easy, as he didn't need to use all the advanced features that may be available in Microsoft Office (desktop version), I directed him to use Microsoft Office Online.

Microsoft Office Online is an online version of Microsoft Office that is a free to use online and provides basic document editing and writing functionality. Sufficient for most everyday usage.

It is different from Microsoft Office 365 online (which will give the full features as you would on a desktop version of the same), however, for most people who normally only use the basic features most of the time - this is sufficient (Just as it is for those who are comfortable using Google Docs - which is also slowly improving it's free online features as well).

If you're interested, here's some quick steps on how to use Office online.

How to use Microsoft Office online
Requirements: A desktop web browser. As long as your desktop computer/ laptop has a web browser it should work. This includes most Linux platforms (e.g. Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Fedora), and Macs.

1. All you need to do is go to
Screen you see on
2. Click on what you would like to use
Click a program tile to:

  • Create and share Office documents (Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, or OneNote Online)
  • Store, open, and share online files (OneDrive)
  • Send and receive email (
  • Maintain an online calendar (Calendar)
  • Manage your contacts list (People)
Choose the Microsoft program you would like to use online

3. Sign in (you'll need an account to use this - if you don't have one you can sign up here.*)

4. Start using Office online
Once you’re signed in, the documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and notebooks you create in the Office Online programs are stored in your OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive).

The great thing about Office Online is that it runs in your web browser. So there’s nothing to download or install.

I use it on my Ubuntu and have encouraged my friend to use it on his Lubuntu as this allows him to use the same document writing interface that we have all grown and loved.

*An account will login will give you access to OneDrive (online storage), Word Online, Excel Online, Powerpoint Online, etc. This is useful as document you create and write in Word Online will be automatically saved on Microsoft's servers so that when you need it you can just download it or edit it online on

Here's also a video showing you their way of using Microsoft Word Online for your reference below.

Getting started at office^link:

Office training
There is also a whole bunch of training material available free on Microsoft's website. Though, most of these I have found tailored towards the Microsoft Office desktop version. Nonetheless, some of the learnings can be helpful in understanding how to use the online version.

Other useful guides:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What are the differences between EZLink card and NETS FlashPay cards?

So you are probably wondering, what are the differences between EZLink card and NETS FlashPay cards?

They sell them both at train stations, so what are they?
EZlink card
The EZ-Link card is a multi-purpose contactless smart card used for the payment of public transportation fares in Singapore. It started with a strong focus within public transportation (MRT/LRT, public buses) but also has some exposure in the small payments retail sector - mainly around MRT/LRTs.

NETS Flashpay card

NETS Flashpay
NETS Flashpay card is also another multi-purpose contactless with stored value smart card that can be used for a huge variety of quick payments. It can be used on the MRT/LRT, public buses, and at ERP gantries (for road tolls).  It also has some coverage in food courts.

Both cards can be used at 7 Eleven convenience stores, supermarkets, on all MRT/LRT, public buses, Comfort; CityCab and SMRT taxis, for ERP and CEPAS-compliant car park charges.

Current market environment
NETS Flashpay is still fairly new and only getting traction in the past 12 months with a rebates promotion to push their cards out. NETS Flashpay also good coverage in food courts and areas outside of public transportation, while EZlink is very strong in the public transportation environments.

There is not too much differences between the two only that I find EZlink well known to most people including cab drivers, which makes it easier to do a fast payment and go. Whereas NETS Flashpay is new, so it takes some time educating a cab driver or shop attendant on what it is.

I personally use EZlink more often, but I did use the NETS Flashpay when it first came out and I tested it for the second half of 2013. They had a good rebates promotion then and seem to be gaining good traction in the market. I see many tourists with the red NETS Flashpay cards and EZlink now also rolling out a rewards program to encourage consumers to stick with them.

Most new credit cards now offer NETS Flashpay or EZlink, so you can decide which one you want to use or both when selecting a credit card.

For a further discussions on on this topic, please see this local forum:


Related posts:

Equities Trading in Singapore - How to get started

So you have heard of your friends and family trading shares and am not quite sure how to get started.

This article is to give you a quick overview of what you need to know about trading in Singapore, whether you are new to trading or not. As there are different rules around trading in every country.

First of all, trading shares is essentially trading a 'share' ('stock') or portion of a business. So you are essentially buying into a business and becoming part-owner of the business.

As a normal shareholder (i.e., one that owns shares in a business), you own part of the business and receive a share of the profits (via dividends) from time to time. You are not involved in any day-to-day operations for the business.

Most everyday people trade what we call 'equities'. Equities, as defined by Investopedia is:

  • An instrument that signifies an ownership position, or equity, in a corporation, and represents a claim on its proportionate share in the corporation's assets and profits. (Source: Investopedia)

These equities are traded in marketplaces, and each is different for each country. For Singapore, this marketplace is called the, "Singapore Exchange" (SGX).

In Australia, this is called the, "Australian Stock Exchange" (ASX). In the US, this is called the "Dow", "Nasdaq", and "S&P 500" (the US has three large trading markets).

These markets (sharemarkets) are only open for trading at certain times. They are often closed on public holidays in that country as well. For Singapore, the SGX trading hours are from 9am to 12.30pm and 2 to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.

Getting started
How to start equities trading in Singapore
In Singapore, you will need a Central Depository (CDP) Securities account. A CDP account is the most basic thing you need before you start investing. It is a securities account for the settlement of trades and need one of these accounts to be able to buy shares in Singapore. It's similar to Computershare's Investor Services in Australia.

This means that: Central Depository (CDP) will maintain all the securities/ shares you will buy on SGX, and electronically records the movements of the shares in and out of your account as you buy and sell them.

Opening a CDP Securities account is free and you only need to open one of these accounts. You will need to be 18 years of age.

So how do we open a CDP account? 
There are two ways to open a CDP account.

Option 1. Open one directly via

Option 2. Apply for a CDP Securities account as the same time you are signing up for a trading broker (details below).

Separate to the CDP Securities account, you will also need a brokerage (brokers) trading account that will allows you to trade shares in the stock market. As the CDP only maintains your securities trading records and you normally would not log into them often except to check these records (so no trading charts, etc. that you may see others using).

So, what is a broker?
A broker is a middleman that will execute your order and handle all other details on your behalf. You tell your broker what shares you want to buy. Alternatively, as most people do, you can carry out your transactions online through the stockbroker’s online trading platform.

Who are the brokers?
You probably have seen a number of different trading brokers in Singapore. Like different banks and their varied banking products, when you choose a broker you are choosing someone to facilitate and manage your transactions.

Who you plan on selecting depends how you plan on trading as to which trading broker you should use. Each has different platforms so the user interfaces and functionality available will vary. Most brokers also allow you to trade on your mobile or tablet.

You can have more than one broker. These are linked to your CDP account when you sign up with a broker.

Here are a list of some common brokers in Singapore

Considerations when selecting a broker

  • Local shares - do I want to trade local shares?
  • International shares - do I want to trading International shares (e.g. shares in the US, Japan, Thailand, etc.)
  • Brokerage fees - fees will vary from broker to broker. 
  • Functionality of trading platform - is there an online or desktop platform that you can use? What sort of functionality and types of trades does it support? 
  • Mobile/ tablet access - is it important for you to be able to trade on your smartphone or tablet?
As there are many things to look at when considering a broker, here's a great forum to read up on what other fellow traders are using. Here you will find a simple comparison among all brokerages in Singapore in term of product and services provided- updated 2014


Related posts:

Banking in Singapore - What to know when selecting a bank account

There are a variety of different banks in Singapore that you can bank with. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and may work well with you depending on what you plan on doing with your money.

Drive-thru ATM in Singapore's West

This is a quick guide and list of considerations for you to think about.

Documentation - When you would like to open a bank account in Singapore, you will need to bring the documents with you:
  • IC (Identification Card) - You will need your identification card to set up for an account. Employment Pass (in-principle letter is generally not accepted) for foreigners. For locals (Singaporeans citizens and PR), you will just need your IC (Identification Card). 
  • Passport - You will also need to bring your passport if you are a foreigner
  • Minimum initial deposit: The initial deposit ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 SGD, depending on which bank you choose.
Considerations - Here are some things to think about when you are looking to select your own bank account:
  • Interest rates: These will vary. Right now it is around the 0.5-1% mark
  • Minimum account fees - Fees if bank account amount falls below a particular amount (normally minimum $500 SGD)
  • Transferring money overseas - Do you want to travel money into or out of Singapore? If so, it may be worth considering banking with a global bank as they often let you transfer between countries for free or at a very low rate. Though, I have noticed that some local banks, while not allowing you to transfer money overseas for free - they have better foreign exchange rates. My personal favourite is DBS/ POSB.
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) - Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is the Government body that regulates the financial industry in Singapore.
  • Depositors insurance set up by the Government via Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) - Depositors insurance set up by the Government via Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC) covers depositors for up to $50,000 SGD. This is to maintain public trust in the financial industry. The exact coverage is: 
  • In the event a Deposit Insurance Scheme member bank or finance company fails, all of your eligible accounts with that member are aggregated and insured up to S$50,000. Trust and client accounts held by non-bank depositors are insured up to $50,000 per account.
  • Moneys held in bank deposits under the CPF Investment Scheme and CPF Minimum Sum Scheme are aggregated and separately insured up to S$50,000. (Source: SDIC

List of key banks - Here are a list of banks in Singapore that you can choose from.
Singaporean banks
  • POSB / DBS (Two merged banks, and the most widespread as POSB was Singapore’s homegrown bank)
  • OCBC
  • UOB
International banks
  • ANZ* (Australian bank)
  • Citibank* (Global bank)
  • HSBC* (Global bank)
  • Maybank* (Malaysian bank)
  • State Bank of India* (Indian bank)
  • Standard Chartered Bank*
  • Bank of China (Chinese bank)
  • RHB (Malaysian bank)
  • CIMB (Malaysian bank)
  • Others - there are other smaller banks around as well. But with limits on the banking licenses available in the country, these are the main ones for individual banking. 

*These banks are part of the atm5 network, so there is free bank withdrawals with any of these bank's atms in this network. The applicable atms are marked "atm5".

Here are some great websites out there that will show you how you can compare the various bank accounts:

Happy banking!
-Vu ;)

Related posts:
Public transport - How to set up your Ezlink enabled credit card in Singapore

The basics
Finances - Banking in Singapore - What to know when selecting a bank account
Finances - Share trading in Singapore - How to get started

Basic toiletries - Where you can buy cheap toiletries in Singapore

Places to see/ Events in Singapore
National events - Chinese New Year in Singapore
National events - National Day - August 9
Leisure - Pulau Ubin Island - Getting to and around Singapore's nature island (great for biking riding)
Leisure - Sungei Buloh wetlands reserve - Getting to and around Sungei Buloh (a global stop-over point for migratory birds)

Places to see (outside but near Singapore)
Travel - Genting Highlands, Malaysia

The greatest gift you can give is a smile

It is easy to go about each day working through each task or activity each day. All without thinking too much about the world around us and the people we interact with.

The world is constantly changing, so while it can be challenging it is important to be open and be willing to change. Sometimes we feel like we can't do to much when we hear the news about the events around the world and even your local area.

Little do we realise that we can still do something. Even if it is quite small and that is to smile.

Everyone has their good days and bad days. So while it may not seem like a big thing, sometimes the greatest gift you can give to someone else, is a smile. That friend, that colleague and that stranger that we come across. It doesn't take too much effort or it may make that person's day.

So go out there and just smile, for it is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone :)

National Day in Singapore

Folded plastic bags are turned into roses before using them to make a giant Singapore flag. (Straits Times photo)
National Day in Singapore happens August 9th every year.

The theme is red and white as these are the national colours and the colour of the Singaporean flag.

It's a public holiday and often a long weekend for everyone in Singapore (depending on when it sits during the working week).

With the long weekend on, some Singaporeans plan holidays, some stay in town and celebrate. I would too, if I am luckily drawn some tickets (as you sign up to join a ballot for the National Day parade and Eve of National Day practice celebrations). So what can you do if you do choose to stay in town?

Here's my list of things that I have compiled from what I have seen advertised this year, as this should help you plan your time with family and friends next year - as most activities remain the same.

Visit Museums - The National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Philatelic (stamps) Museum will be holding open houses on National Day where visitors and families may enjoy the programmes for free. This is free for foreigners as well. This year, the ArtsScience Museum was also open to the public for free. There are also generally many workshop and activities for kids and young adults (e.g. face painting). So there is something for everyone.

Movies under the stars at Fort Canning
Fort Canning Green is often the location for an open-air cinema. Past screenings have been Audrey Hepburn classic ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and Keanu Reeves’ surfer heist flick ‘Point Break’.

Find a place to view the fireworks
There are many spots to view of the National Day Parade fireworks. Most people go to Esplanade Outdoor Theatre/Waterfront Promenade, Marina Bay Sands Boardwalk, Marina Barrage, Stadium Waterfront, The Helix Bridge. However there are rooftop bars, restaurants, hotels and other locations where you can view the action.

Watch the fireworks and celebrations on TV (on Channel 8)
Depending on your style, you may want to spend the day with family and friends indoors and watch the fireworks on TV. Perfect for those looking to avoid the crowds and to eat some delicious food.


Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Scale model of Genting Highlands (from Wikipedia)
I recently with to Genting Highlands, Malaysia for a one day trip earlier in the year. I have always heard people talk about the place but hadn't been there before so I went to see and explore a bit more of Malaysia.
Genting Highlands, Malaysia

The place seems okay. It's a bit run down these days, but being based in Singapore, I see it is a good place if you want to explore and see a bit of nature. I would only go there for a day trip or to stay there only one night and would only recommend this place to those who are okay with some form of heights. It is safe in the cable car, but as any cable car, it swings and does move along reasonably fast. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the top and what you find is that it is the primary way for most people to go up. As buses no longer go all the way to the top as they used to, due to several past accidents, etc.

Normally people go here to take their kids to the themepark, to relax at the hotels and to gamble here (as you can't gamble in Malaysia normally and in Singapore you need to pay as a citizen/ PR to get into the casino).

So you'll find family and tourists here looking for a place to relax. 

Cost: Many buses take you here for about 60-70 RM (both ways). 
Tip: It's best to buy the round trip - as I hear it may be a challenge to buy a ticket back from there.



View from cable car as you go up to Gentings

View from the cable car

Map of Gentings First World area (zoomed in a little)
Map of Gentings First World area
Map of Gentings First World area
Candy and dried fruit store at the bus/ cable car terminal
Candy and dried fruit store at the bus/ cable car terminal

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Commission structure of insurance agents in Singapore

I was reading an article on some recent events in Australia with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, whereby financial planners were involved in practices that weren't always in the interests of their clients.

So this made me want to think about what was motivation my insurance agent/ financial adviser. As I always wondered whether they were truly looking out for my best interests or their own and what is motivating them in to purchase this policy type over another.

So after some quick research on Google, I came across these two interesting links. Here's a quick table I found on some possible commissions that you could earn as a insurance policy agent. If you're interested in a career in insurance, depending on how well you can sell, then it may be a good career path for you ;)

Note: please note that the Singaporean Government is looking to change the commissions/ payment structure for insurance agents. But it's always good to know how things are (and maybe soon to be 'were').

Commission structure of insurance agents
A good insight into possible commissions based on the term and type of product sold. Not too bad if you manage to sell to someone who can stick with the plan for the long run (at least six years for this company - based on the 6th Policy year % commission earned).
Commission structure of insurance agents in Singapore
Source: "$1Million Personal Financial Diary" Blog,

Read the interesting comments here
There's also some interesting insights on this site.

Well, as a buyer of insurance, I hope this helps enable you to have an understanding of why certain products may be pushed more than others to you.

Related posts: