New Year, New Resolution

Does it really work? According to Wiki, popular goals include resolutions to:

  • Improve well-being: lose weightexercise more, eat better, drink lessalcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money
  • Improve career: get a better job
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy,manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play less sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity

However, how long do people stick to it. Studies show that nearly 90% of the people who set goals, fail to achieve them. Many sign up to the gym and diet programmes in January, but give up after 3 months. So, is there a way to encourage people to stick to their goals? There have been apps developed to help people with that – setting a goal and having a commitment contract. Therefore you will have something at stake (usually its monetary as people react more if there is money at stake). Stickk is an example of an app, designed to help people with their goals.


Late Night @ Science Museum

Every last Wednesday of the month, the Science Museum (Exhibition Road, South Kensington) hosts a late night, for adults only!  Yes, adults only! Walking down exhibition road on this day will find you wondering what the queue is for…fear not, it does not last that long. The queue moves pretty quickly when it starts at 6.45pm. For just more than 3 hours, the whole museum is open, for browsing and also filled with activities! Today’s activity was focused on being happy! They was a talk about what makes people happy, a comedy sketch (although I think this was a bit kiddish) on how happy some pictures and acts make you feel. There were also hula hoops and silent discos for those wanting to dance! Some activities were filled up pretty quickly , with long queues and limited spaces 😦 What’s more is that you can drink (yes, alcohol), whilst browsing. Albeit being on the pricey side (what do you expect?), you can be walking around with a beer or wine whilst enjoying the late night at the science museum.

Western vs Eastern Culture

A friend shared this link and I thought I will share it here:

Western vs Eastern Culture

It is rather interesting to see how these two different regions approach different things in life. To a certain extent, this is so true. However, with globalisation many people/corporations/cultures are learning from each other and it will be interesting to see how much of these differences exist in the next century or even half a century!

Feed in Tariffs to be proposed in Malaysia

Reports produced in 2010 state that Malaysia is going to be proposing Feed in Tariffs for Solar, Biomass, Biogas and Hydro. This will be debated in the Parliament during the second quarter of 2011. There is a growing interest for renewable technology in Malaysia and the target is to achieve 11% by 2020. The proposed tariff structure is shown in the table below:

It’s nice to see the goverment taking positive action towards encouraging renewable energy generation. However, it is also important to weigh the cost and benefits in the long term. We do not want certain parties to benefit whereas others have to bear the cost through higher taxes and higher overall retail tariffs.

If anyone has any idea how the electricity tariffs are broken down (i.e. proportion of energy cost, transmission cost, environment levy(if any) and supplier margins), I would be grateful if you can send me a link.

Mega-farms, cheap food, major supermarkets?

With the economic downturn and increasing food price all over, major supermarkets are continually expanding. Not only in size (square feet or number of products), but also in profit! All this while maintaining their profit margins. How do they do this? Well, using their size, they have a big bargaining power with farmers and suppliers in general.

BBC’s programme, Supermarket: What Price Cheap Food? shows how these drive for big supermarkets have caused mega-farms and battery-styled farming. Not only are chickens caged, but cows and pigs are kept in relatively small areas, not allowing the to roam. Reason? To increase the number of animal per area to enable lower prices. But who actually drives this cost down? The supermarket or the consumers?

There is a two-way argument to this. Firstly, consumers are always seeking to pay less. Most (not all) do not care about the supply of the product as they trust their supermarkets. They go for deals and offers in store and drive the demand for cheaper products. The supermarket sometimes cut down certain prices, even if they are making losses to lock the consumers in. You wouldn’t want to drive around to different places to get different things, would you?

All in all, if these practices continue, we might not be able to turn back. Major supermarkets act as middle person and squeezing as much as they can from the consumers and the suppliers! In time, small suppliers and small grocers will be driven out of the market.

Piled Higher & Deeper

I had the privilege to meet Jorge Cham at Imperial today. He was down to give a lecture due to the Graduate School’s 10th year anniversary. Such a good speaker who initiated phdcomics.  Although most engineering grad students will relate 100% to the comics, all grad students should have a look. It is witty, true and you really can draw upon personal experiences with these comic strips. It really does help overcome depression knowing that people out there are going through the same thing!

Well, we had a book signing event after that and I got a copy of the first book and a signature by the author himself! What a charming personality he has!

Dependence of the world on China

Many countries depend on China’s exports these days and with any changes in China, the world will feel the ripple effect. The Economist has depicted the dependence of some of these countries as can be seen by the figure below:

As can be seen, Malaysia seems to have a high percentage at nearly 10% of the total GDP!!! This is not a good sign as we need to diversify the source of resources in order to maintain security and decrease reliance on certain countries. Are the government aware/doing anything about this? One can only wonder…

The Secret Life of the National Grid

Most people take electricity provision for granted, especially in these modern days. In actual fact, there is a wide array of processes that go behind the scene. One of it is transmission of electricity form the generating plant to the point of consumption, i.e. indiviual homes, industrial plants, offices etc. BBC has created an hour long programme on the history of the National Grid, which is the connecting network and also the company managing these transmission lines. It is very impportant as these lines provide the connection and allow more people to access electricity, which is vital in many things. It is quite a good programme for a high level understanding of the history:

Kindle versus Ebook

Being a technology enthusiast (at least amongst my non-engineer friends), I was eager to catch up with the digital book revolution. Having an iphone, ebook is easily accessible. So is Kindle app by amazon. Well, you don’t technically need a hardware (Kindle) to use the application as they have revolutionised the applications to fit PCs, MACs, iphones, ipads! So, they (Kindle and ebook) are in direct competition as ebook is focusing on Apple users.

Smart of kindle to target the mass market. Any economist or business savvy consumers will realise  that the hardware is key as that will attract long term buying of ebooks, where the revenue really lies. Looking at the prices of the digital books and the selection itself, kindle wins hands down. Although Ebook has the flipping of the pages feature that might interest some, but it is not important. Reading via the iphone is so easy! You can customise the font size, background colour etc to suit your style. The best feature of ebook is the search function, which is not available in conventional book! So, reading is made easier without bulky books to be carried everywhere. And, you can sync between your devices and all will start at the page you left off! So, let the reading begin!!!

I started with ‘The Girl with The Dragon Tatoo’ and finished that in one week!

One problem I have is the issues of sharing books that you have downloaded. Anyone has any ideas???

MIA for long

I have been missing in action for a while now. Well, many things have happened in the last months. Was a good summer in the UK. However, we are heading towards a COLD COLD winter, which I am definitely not looking forward to.

Few updates for the last few months:

1. Studies wise, not much changed but I need to speed up my completion

2. Travel wise, it was a good year with travel to China and US this year

3. Movies wise, haven’t watched much but I would strongly recommend Toy Story 3, maybe Endhiran(Tamil) – do not go in with high expectations though, Inception (confusing, but good story)

4. Books, I haven’t read many but will recommend Eat, Pray, Love and The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo (I haven’t watched the movies), but the books will generally be better.

5. Things to do in my list -I only managed to go to Nottinghill carnival, failed wimbledon :(, but managed to add other things onto the new stuff done which include deep dish pizza(chicago), capoeira classes, zumba classes, tried more badminton clubs across london, consultation for laser eye surgery (more open to it now).

6. New things to do include more baking, cooking (new recipes), do new things, read more (academic books for now), snowdonia (still haven’t done it)!

More articles to come, of I find time to pen it down.