Monday, August 11, 2008

The pedant in me: Where are the figures?

Where are figures 1 and 2? I thought that when one puts "figure 1" it means that there exists a figure labelled 1? Or are we to infer that the figures are implicitly labelled? I am more inclined to believe that this is the result of copypasta without checking what one typed/pasted, and the editor not catching this error.

Source: Straits Times

Monday, July 14, 2008

The pedant in me: RM60,000 == SG81,000?!

Such a glaring mistake, simply unacceptable coming from the national broadsheet. Since the source is Malaysian, I suppose it's the news people in Straits Times who added the currency conversion thing.

Source: Straits Times

Monday, March 3, 2008

sad day for me but i'm happy for my friend..

it's a sad day..

woke up with a painful right foot.. i must have kicked the wall while sleeping.. 'tis the second time it has happened to me.. probably too stressed..

just before noon, as i was walking down the stairs making my way to the computer lab @ the basement, i saw her and i think she saw me too but i got just couldn't recognise her from a distance.. as i walked closer i didn't bother to look her way as i don't like to look at people.. when i passed her i suddenly got a feeling that it's her so i stopped and did a double-take.. it was her indeed and now she must think that i ignored her on purpose..
trying to use wikidpad more extensively to manage my life.. will be installing on my desktop soon.. hope to fully migrate to my desktop asap..
i might change blogs yet again.. just don't like windows live spaces.. too much ajax's overkill n makes it feel laggy..
not all was bad though.. when i reached home i wanted to send some useful past year paper to my schoolmates so i opened msn and i saw my good friend's msn nick.. he's going to intern @ mountain view in 2 months' time to work on iGoogle.. i'm really happy for him.. i consider him as one of my best friends..

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Good and Bad Customer Service

My preferred method of communication with people I don't know is using the email. You'll realise that most big companies have a ticket tracker system in place. Whenever a customer has an issue, a unique ticket is created, and the ticket is closed when the issue is resolved.

Here's an example of a good ticket:
** This email is sent via the MySchool Ticket Tracker system. If you
** reply this email, please avoid including quoted text. For more
** information, check:

Hi me,

Glad to hear that. I shall close the ticket.

> Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 00:41:09 +0800
> From: "Me" <me@me>
> To: SvcRep2 <>
> Subject: RE: [TKT:11444] POSTSCRIPT ERROR(Me)
> Hi,
> I tried printing yesterday and it was okay.

Dear Me,

I have just tried and it is ok.

Can you please try again?

> Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 15:57:19 +0800
> From: "Me" <>
> To: <>
> Subject: RE: psl212-dx prt: POSTSCRIPT ERROR
> Hi,
> I tried to print this file:
> http://somefile.pdf from a
> programming lab but got the below message.
> Please advice.
> Yours truly, Me
> -----Original Message-----
> From: daemon@school [mailto:daemon@school] Sent:
> Friday, November 09, 2007 3:41 PM
> To: me@me
> Subject: psl212-dx prt: POSTSCRIPT ERROR
> Please correct the Postscript errors in the file and resubmit the job.
> Postscript error: %%[ Error: stackunderflow; Offending Command:
> exch]%%
> Job Name: Remote Downlevel Do
> Job Id: 35
> Printer: psl212-dx
> Time processed: Fri Nov 9 15:40:31 2007
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> Note: Please contact techsvc@school for further
> advice.

Basically I had a printing problem in November 2007 so I emailed the tech support at school. I kinda knew it was an isolated issue but anyway the next time I tried to print it was January 2008 and out of courtesy I replied to them. And they replied to me and said they will close the ticket.

Let's examine what makes this good customer service. Firstly, they have a ticket tracking system. Secondly, even though there's a lapse of two months, the ticket was not pruned. Thirdly, they replied to all my emails. Lastly, by closing the ticket (and by having a ticket system in place) it signifies that they take are committed to resolving and tracking all issues.

This is a bad ticket though:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for contacting the HP Customer Care Centre. This is an automated acknowledgement that confirms receipt of your e-mail. Your e-mail enquiry is logged as Ticket ID: 424868

One of our Technical Support Specialists will be responding to your enquiry. Usually this is within four (4) business hours of receipt.

To ensure we track and manage future correspondence correctly, please use the Reply function in your email application when emailing us about an existing ticket ID – this will assist in tracking your enquiry correctly. It is important that the identifier below is included in all correspondence.

It is our pleasure to be of service to you and thank you for choosing Hewlett-Packard, as your preferred vendor.

Please check out our tools and resources to support your products,

In addition, you may visit our web-based tool that provides diagnosis and resolution of your computer hardware and software issues

Yours sincerely,
Regional Customer Care Centre
Please include the following identifier in all future correspondence relating to this ticket.
TicketGUID: {3E24FDC9-25CA-45D3-A150-622D239A5FEF}

I had a driver issue and I explained it as best as I could. It was dated 12 July 2007 and I've not received a single reply to date even though there's a ticket tracking system in place. I couldn't have missed any email as I download all my email to my Inbox and I move unresolved issues to the @Waiting folder or flag them if the action required or waiting time expected to be relatively short. I've since reverted from Windows Vista to Windows XP and don't need the reply anymore but it's just wrong of them not to reply to me save for an automatic ticket acknowledgement system. does not seem to have a ticket tracking system. I've always have had this IP address issue whereby I'll get automatically logged out when I switch from using my ISP's proxy to using a direct connection. The first time it happened, I had it resolved. Recently, Singnet (my ISP) used other IP range and the issue returned. This time I sent an email again and the reply was (same as the last time): "Please go to and reply back with the result (not on the proxy)."

So I went to and replied the email on 23 January 2008. I've not received a reply or solution to date and I suppose I won't be getting any. Of course one can always assume that my reply email got lost but seriously, what's the probability of that? has a pretty good customer service. They always reply to my queries. My shipment didn't arrive over two weeks after the estimated date and they assumed that it got lost and cancelled my original shipment and made a reorder. However, this time the shipping for the reorder was changed to expedited mail and I was charged the difference. I didn't ask for an upgrade but as I was too tired of waiting for my books I just chose not to contest this issue. Eventually the original shipment arrived and I refused delivery of the reorder shipment (so that it would be returned to amazon at no cost of mine). It remains to be seem how much I'll be charged for this ordeal though. I do hope that I'll be charged (rightfully!) for the original shipment which is cheaper. As of now, I'm being charged for the new shipment and I realised that when they refunded me, they did not refund the gift certificate which I used. I shall wait a few more days before taking the issue with them.

I'm pretty happy with SingPost's customer service too. After sending them a parcel enquiry, I got an automated email acknowledging receipt, but most importantly, I got a call from them reassuring me that they'll keep a lookout for my parcel.

RecordTV has a satisfactory customer service too.


Ever been in an SBS bus before? If your answer is yes, you'll probably be able to identify with my grouses, and/or perhaps you're an offender.

One of the thing I hate most is that of people sitting behind me placing their kneecap at the back of my seat, making my back feel uncomfortable. To make matters worse, some like to move their kneecaps periodically. I know some of you have long knees, but please spare a thought for the fellow sitting in front of you!

The second thing I hate is that of the free fallers. This is especially irritating. I normally sit closer to the window so there's a seat near an aisle. I could, of course take the aisle seat and offer them the window seat but I'm just too kind. But these free fallers, they're just plain inconsiderate. If case you have not realised, the seats in SBS buses are of the rubber type, meaning that they semi-trap air. What these free fallers do that irritate me is that when they're taking the seat beside me, they suddenly go weak in their knees as if I'm some kind of superstar they swoon over (far from it. Sad) and let gravity do the work. The end result? The sudden displacement of air under their stinky bottoms is forced to my side, jolting me in the process. Why can't they sit normally? I don't see people doing that when sitting on wooden benches?! It a good thing that I do not have a slipped disc, otherwise I'll probably strangle them on the spot.

Anyway last Friday I was taking the bus home and the lady who sat next to me sat down gently. I nearly wanted to shake her hand and thank her for being such a considerate person but figured out that I don't want to be labeled as a nutcase.

A few days ago, while taking the bus to school, I saw someone who looked and dressed like Hebe.Red heart Heehee.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Warning — This post may be redundant!

I have many pet peeves.. One of the more irritating one is related to people doing redundant things.. Do note that there's a difference between repetition as a form of exercise and plain ignorance, which stems from the unwillingness to think..
Since young, I've noticed people pressing lift and traffic light buttons redundantly.. Among this group of redundant people, they can be further sub-divided into a few groups — one, two, three.. (this reminds me of a funny incident which I shall blog about later).. There are many variations between these group of people, namely, the different non-conflicting combinations of:
  • pressing the button when there's explicit sign(s) of the button having been pressed: lighting confirmation, seeing in person the button being pressed etc..
    • I sometimes find this very rude as if the person's not acknowledging the button presser's existence/effort..
  • pressing the button when there's implicit sign(s) of the button having been pressed: someone waiting for the lift/traffic light and standing reasonably close to the button..
    • slightly more forgivable than the above.. after all, it's just to play safe..
    • sometimes people understand the logic in the below point, hence they choose not to press the button..
  • pressing the button when it's a given (or highly likely, just to pre-empt the possibility of failure) that the event which you wish to evoke is guaranteed and its happening time is independent of pressing the button: a HDB lift that only stops at the 1, 6, 11 level is on the way down from either 6 or 11 level.. you're waiting at the ground floor level.. it's almost guaranteed that the lift will go all the way down as most people don't take the lift from the 6 to 11, so there's no need to press the lift button.. having lived in my flat for close to 20 years, I would hazard a guess that at least 99% of the lift trips are from 1 to 6/11 or from 6/11 to 1, instead of between 6 and 11..

So last week I was at the forum waiting for the lift to take me to the fourth level.. so basically this single lift services only the first and fourth levels, and at that time there were many people waiting to take the lift for both directions.. so I missed a turn and as the lift was on it's way up, some guy pressed the lift button.. I almost fainted from the sheer stupidity and redundancy of that brainless act.. needless to say, the lift went back down with a liftfull of people, indicating that regardless of whether or not that guy pressed the button, the lift will come down (given) and the speed will not be compromised (event independence)..

So why do people still do such things???

Habit.. habits can be useful.. they allow you to operate on auto-pilot, freeing your mind for the more important things.. good habits include but are not limited to: switching off the lights when you leave a room, flushing the toilet after use, washing your hands before and after your meals.. But when a habit makes you do something irrational or redundant (let's not consider whether the cost is negligible or not as that's not the point I want to make here..), it's time to rethink whether that particular event should be institutionalized as a habit, as a conditional habit, or to be treated as a unique event each time (I am current of the belief that most things should and can be classified to free our minds)..

Flashback to circa 2003, it was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) period and I was a student.. Everyone was given a digital thermometer to log our temperatures twice a day whenever a lullaby was played over the public address; once in the morning during assembly and another in noon.. So we were in the midst of our physics tutorial when the lullaby was played.. almost everyone took out the thermometers and popped it into ours mouths.. Later, our physics teacher told us a story about conditioning and Pavlov's dogs which salivate whenever it heard the ringing of a bell.. It was at this moment when I got inspired not to do things without giving much thought..

Of course there are also psychological reasons as to why people press the button.. sometimes they're in a hurry and pressing the button repeatedly is like some sort of nerve-calming exercise (or could it be the reverse? haha).. Sometimes I wonder if this people know that pressing a lift or traffic light button repeatedly will not hasten the event change.. I believe that most educated people are able to observe how the black box works through empirical observation and conclude correctly.. Perhaps some people hail from a land where the more you press the button, the faster the traffic light will turn green.. hey, that's an idea.. I'm gonna patent it..

And of course there're other reasons too..

So last Thursday after my haircut I bought a cheese waffle after a lovely girl who bought a peanut butter waffle.. Above the waffle machines was a printout that read, "Always put on gloves before handling the waffles", presumably for hygiene reasons.. So the lady who made the waffle put on the gloves as instructed.. But she collected my money with the gloves still on, making me wonder what's the difference between wearing a glove or not in the first place for her case.. So my moral of this story is: always think about the reason for doing something in a particular way.. you may just think of it once for the initial time (avoid redundancy, no need to keep thinking if it's always going to be the same.. remember?)..

Anyway the shop assistant thought that we ordered together as when the girl repeated her order she could not be heard and I helped to relay the message, and bagged our waffles in the same plastic bag.. *(act) shy* Hm.. and I said something like bag seperately.. we ordered seperately.. I don't know her.. ouch.. sounds like I'm trying desperately to disassociate from her.. that's me for you.. :( And I felt ripped off as there was so little cheese..

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First post~!

Hoorah, first post~!

Hm.. yet another new blog.. when i'm free i'll migrate the posts here and delete them for good.. i don't like the idea of having my stuff scattered all over the place (though sadly that's the state of my room and digital data)..

Don't you just hate the abuse of ellipses? it's the "..." punctuation in case you were wondering.. and its singular is ellipsis, not ellipse, which happen to share the same plural form.. confusing isn't it? anyway i'll be using ".." for most of the time, for good measure and for a reason which i prefer to keep private.. let's just say it's between a period and an ellipsis, so you get to guess which it actually means, not that it makes a difference since this is just a blog and not a novel by virginia woolf..