New enhanced modified NFC arrives in Singapore

Mobile payment services using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will be launched in Singapore at the end of August.
This means consumers can pay for purchases by tapping a reader with their mobile phones, as long as the user has a NFC-enabled SIM card.
NFC is a short range wireless communication technology that transmits information between a mobile device and a reader.
Comprising consortium partners Citibank, DBS, EZ-Link, and all three mobile operators in Singapore – M1, SingTel, StarHub – the multi-bank and multi-telco partnership will launch nationwide NFC services through a secure, third party infrastructure.
The consortium will be rolling out three credit, prepaid and stored-value payment services through NFC-enabled mobile phones in the coming weeks, with respective partners announcing the launch details of their specific services including how consumers can apply for and make use of these NFC services.
NFC-enabled SIM cards can be obtained from the three telcos.


By the end of this month, consumers will be able to pay taxi fares and bills for purchases at retail outlets with mobile phones that are equipped with near field communication (NFC) capabilities.
NFC is a short range wireless communication technology that transmits data between a mobile device and a reader.
The transmitted data can be either an advertisement or payment info.
The new payment service, developed by a consortium including Gemalto, EZ-Link, DBS, Citibank, SingTel, StarHub and M1, offers credit, pre-paid or stored-value options for mobile phone users. More than 30,000 retail points around the island will accept the new NFC payment service at its launch.
Retail outlets such as Watson’s and G2000 as well as Comfort taxis will be among the first to adopt the new mobile payment service.
In addition to a phone with NFC capabilities, the service will require an NFC-enabled SIM card that will be available from the three telcos.
Consumers will just need to tap their smartphones against the NFC reader to make payment.
A password can be added for more security.
The maximum amount per transaction may be capped at $100 to begin with.
And the tap and pay mobile device services will also be tried out in public buses and the MRT system by the end of this year.
These NFC devices has enhanced security that will not let your ID be copied when your phone is lost, I suspect two way authentication is built-in to the phone and simm card, so it is virtually impossible to hack, on top of other features which I have yet to get my hands on one to play with. – Contributed by Oogle.

What does this news tells about the aviation industry against market sentiments

AFP  |  Fri, Aug 3 2012
SINGAPORE – SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines (SIA), said Friday it would buy 54 new Boeing planes in a deal worth US$4.9 billion (S$6.1 billion), with an option to buy a further 14 aircraft.
The airline said the order is the largest in its history and “remains subject to the negotiation of a final purchase agreement”.
SilkAir said the firm orders will cover 23 737-800s and 31 737 MAX 8s, in a deal worth US$4.9 billion based on Boeing’s current list prices.
The B737-800 is the best selling variant of Boeing’s popular next generation family of single-aisle aircraft, and the 737 MAX is currently in development.
“Deliveries are due to begin in 2014 and continue to 2021, by which time the airline’s fleet will have more than doubled in size,” the carrier said.
SilkAir currently operates 21 Airbus A319s and A320s, with three more A320s due for delivery by the end of 2013. It said the new orders will cater for both growth and fleet renewal.
“We continue to see very strong growth within the region and these new aircraft will position SilkAir well,” said SilkAir chief executive Marvin Tan.
“They will enable us to spread our wings to even more destinations and increase capacity on existing routes, contributing to the overall SIA Group network,” he added.
“The selection of the B737 follows detailed evaluations and extensive negotiations with both Airbus and Boeing.”
SilkAir is a wholly owned subsidiary of SIA and flies to popular holiday destinations in the Asia Pacific region.
SIA also has a long-haul budget carrier called Scoot and owns nearly 33 percent in low-cost carrier Tiger Airways.
Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst with Standard & Poor’s Equity Research, said the purchase will enable SilkAir to expand across the region as it gears up for tougher competition with rivals like Garuda and Lion Air of Indonesia.
“Strengthening SilkAir will enable the carrier to become a bigger regional player and allow parent firm SIA – which is also facing fiercer rivalry – to focus on long-haul routes,” he told AFP.
“There is a huge intra-Asia travel market that has not yet been tapped and so this would indicate to us that SIA is using SilkAir to compete against the likes of the low-cost carriers in the region,” Shukor said.
“I expect to see SilkAir penetrate more destinations in emerging markets in Indonesia, Myanmar and also in China and India.”

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, the costs of longhaul flights will drop due to competition and the race to offer direct flights instead of transit, which will change the whole aviation landscape due to higher fuel prices where transit airports will be bypassed, creating the need to revamp existing air routes/airports and the competition from budget airlines will create new demand for new airports especially in domestic china.
– Contributed by Oogle.

Router alert! My router has been hacked

By Tim Greene, Network World
August 04, 2011 10:40 AM ET

LAS VEGAS — A researcher at Black Hat has revealed a vulnerability in the most common corporate router protocol that puts networks using it at risk of attacks that compromise data streams, falsify network topography and create crippling router loops.

The problem is serious not only because of the damage an attacker might do but also because the protocol, OSPF, is used so pervasively that many networks are vulnerable. Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) is the most popular routing protocol used within the roughly 35,000 autonomous systems into which the Internet is divided.
Typically large corporations, universities and ISPs run autonomous systems.
The only remedies are using another protocol such as RIP or IS-IS or changing OSPF to close the vulnerability, says Gabi Nakibly, a researcher at Israel’s Electronic Warfare Research and Simulation Center, who discovered the problem.
Nakibly says he has successfully carried out an exploit against the vulnerability on a Cisco 7200 router running software version IOS 15.0(1)M, but that the exploit would be equally effective against any router that is compliant with the OSPF specification. He says he chose a Cisco router to underscore the extent of the problem, since Cisco dominates the router market.
The flaw lies in the OSPF protocol itself which allows uncompromised routers to be tricked into propagating false router-table updates known as link state advertisements or LSAs. The attack is such that the false tables persist over time.
The false tables can be crafted to create router loops, send certain traffic to particular destinations or snarl a network by making victim routers send traffic along routes that don’t exist in the actual network topology, he says.
The attack requires that one router on the network is compromised.”[T]he true novelty of the attacks are their ability to falsify the routing advertisements of other  routers which are not controlled by the attacker while still not triggering the fight-back mechanism by those routers,” Nakibly says in an email.
He and his team initiated the attack from a phantom router connected to their test network – in this case a laptop.
The phantom router sends to the victim router a spoofed LSA that appears to be the last one the victim router sent out. The spoofed LSA is accepted as legitimate because it has been crafted to have the appropriate LSA sequence number, checksum and age – the three things OSPF checks to determine the legitimacy of LSAs.
At the same time the phantom sends to a second router on the network an LSA that looks like it came from the victim router. The LSA is tagged with the sequence number that will be assigned to the next LSA that the victim router sends out.
Meanwhile, the victim router rejects the spoofed LSA from the phantom router and sends out a fight-back LSA, which is a copy of its last legitimate LSA.
When the fight-back LSA reaches the second router, it appears identical to the disguised LSA the second router just received from the phantom router. This is because the fight-back LSA and the disguised LSA have identical sequence numbers, check sums and age.

State of art traffic pricing and monitoring system using special video cameras

State of art traffic pricing and monitoring system using special video cameras

State of art video cameras will be used islandwide
To replace our old ERP pricing system
To automate and control our road traffic systems
By correctly control every traffic lights 
And monitoring every user
Even in our mrt trains
Face recognition and objects identification
Even our entry and exit points
At our airports and across the causeway
I have previously desmonstrated a video on this technology
The latest security is built into the software
For real-time image verification
Straight into the 21st century.

– Contributed by Oogle.

Slower growth on technology as expectations miss estimates

By Sinead Carew and Tarmo Virki | Reuters
(Reuters) – If Apple Inc’s weaker-than-expected quarterly result is anything to go by, the global smartphone industry is a lot more vulnerable to economic shocks these days than during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

In developed markets, every other person already owns a smartphone. In emerging markets, penetration rates are much lower, but cheaper phones that cost under $100 are squeezing profit margins.
That was not the case during the last recession, when Apple’s iPhone and Google Inc’s Android were still in their infancy. Smartphone demand remained strong even as sales of other electronics declined because consumers felt it was worthwhile to upgrade to a device with so much to more to give – touchscreens, email and full Web browsers.
Without a technology breakthrough such as touchscreen – made popular by the first iPhone in 2007 – people are in far less of a hurry to upgrade their phones this time around, analysts said.
That was evident from Apple’s June quarterly results, which showed a much bigger hit from the European debt crisis than Wall Street expected.
“The economy is having an impact on all electronic goods. Even Apple, which did defy gravity in the last recession, is not escaping now,” said Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst.
Smartphone users, who typically upgrade their phones every 18 to 24 months, are now holding on for three months longer than usual, according to Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.
“The reason to upgrade is less urgent” she said.
Overall smartphone shipments rose 32 percent in the second quarter, their slowest pace since 2009’s 16 percent increase, according to Strategy Analytics. The research firm forecast annual smartphone shipment growth would slow to 40 percent in 2012 from 68 percent in 2011 and ease further to 23 percent in 2013.
Analysts say demand from emerging markets will support smartphone shipments even if the global economy takes a turn for the worse, but a growing supply of lower price devices from vendors such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp will pressure prices even if the economy improves.
“We’re forecasting ASPs (average selling prices) to dip in 2013 and accelerate from there on,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston. “If the economy continues to flat line or dip that will accelerate the move to lower cost models.”
The popularity of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy S will give these companies some pricing insulation, analysts said.
But there could be much more pressure for price cuts at already struggling smartphone vendors, such as LG Electronics Inc, HTC Corp, Nokia Oyj and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd.
“Apple and Samsung’s ownership of the high-tier and intense price erosion means the fight among others will be cutthroat,” said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.
The tough road ahead for smaller vendors became more apparent this week, when market leader Samsung reported its best quarterly smartphone sales in history as it outsold Apple and won customers from smaller rivals. Samsung’s bigger size allowed it to drive down costs and still make a profit on phones that would generate a loss for smaller rivals.
Some of Apple’s earnings miss was attributed to consumers postponing purchases in anticipation of a new iPhone model hitting store shelves this fall. LG did not have that excuse – its cellphone division, which accounts for around one-fifth of sales, posted a quarterly loss as competition forced LG to spend more on marketing for cheaper phones.
According to Gartner, about 35 percent of an estimated 1.9 billion cellphones sold this year will be smartphones. Between 20 percent and 25 percent of people in the world already own smartphones, with the penetration rate rising to 50 percent to 55 percent in the United States.
“The first wave is selling expensive models to affluent buyers. The second wave is selling lower cost models to less affluent buyers,” Strategy Analytic’s Mawston said.
Gartner’s Milanesi said Huawei and ZTE are in the best position among the lower-tier smartphone vendors.
“If price is the first driver I’m going to pick the Chinese,” said Milanesi, who said LG and HTC are most vulnerable to price declines as they “need more to stand out.”
Also putting pressure on handset makers are the wireless service providers on which they are heavily dependent in many regions such as Europe and the United States for promotions. Carriers often subsidize phones to encourage their customers to commit to long term contracts.
In Europe, some operators such as Telefonica have been dropping subsidies entirely. The top three U.S. operators, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp have all been improving profit margins because they cut down on their subsidy costs by offering customers upgrades less frequently.
If consumers do have to cut spending because of the weak economy, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said: “There’s smartphone available for just about every single budget out there.”
(Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; editing by Tiffany Wu and Andre Grenon)
The next milestone will be on October when Microsoft completes Windows 8 and upon it’s launch, will it meets expectations? What will the take up rate be like? Do we see bells ringing this christmas for the new tablet version of the software? Google Andriod’s OS for tablets is a hard nut to crack.
– Contributed by Oogle.

Soy and Corn prices set to rise globally

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans are concerned by the higher cost of living, stemming from higher housing, certificate of entitlements (COEs), and crude oil prices.
However, we may also see an increase in raw food prices, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a Cheng San-Seletar division National Day dinner celebrations on Saturday.

“One thing which I would like to alert you to if we look ahead is food prices. So far, it is actually not so much of a problem. But if you look forward over the next year or so, I think we may have to be concerned because in America, they are having a big drought now,” he said.
He said the drought, the most severe one in nearly a hundred years, is affecting their crops.
“So when you buy tao huay zhui, I think you have to be prepared maybe it’ll cost you five cents more. When you have ice kachang, maybe there will be less jagung (Malay for sweet corn) in the ice kachang,” he said, referring to the reports of soya bean and corn supply crunch.
“But I think as long as the Singapore economy is doing well and as long as we have resources, we will deal with this,” he added.
PM Lee also urged Singaporeans to tap on possible areas for success that will allow the country to stay ahead of the race in an ever-changing globalised world.
“Take advantage of these new opportunities to keep on moving forward,” he urged, noting the importance of working together as one people and having the determination to advance.
‘This is Singapore, we are special, let’s show the world what Singapore can do,” he said.
His message was echoed by Member of Parliament for the Cheng San-Seletar division within the Ang Mo Kio GRC Ang Hin Kee, who reminded residents to work with one another for the progress of Singapore.
“Everyone has a stake in this country of ours, so even as we pursue to build a better future for one and all, let’s do it the Singapore way – which is the friendly way,” he said.
Close to a thousand residents who attended the dinner had the opportunity to meet PM Lee face to face as he went round the community club toasting and mingling with them.
Residents also sang the national anthem and recited the pledge to commemorate Singapore’s 47th birthday, which falls on August 9.

Bring back the COE Category for 1000cc and below

Does the Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) system still achieve its objectives or does it need to be reviewed in today’s context?
From August 2012, the number of vehicles allocated for COE quota will increase by no more than 1 per cent per annum and no more than 0.5 per cent per annum from February 2013 through to January 2015.
Initially, the cut was to be from 1.5 per cent straight down to 0.5 per cent from next month.
Overall COE supply will be cut and public anticipation includes a rise in the already high COE prices.
We each have our own opinions but for me, I feel that the COE system serves its purpose in many ways. In others, it’s outdated and some components can be reviewed.
Here what’s wrong with the COE system:
1) Favours the wealthy
COEs are allocated based on a person’s ability to pay rather than his/her needs.
The auction-style system favours the wealthy who can afford to bid with higher prices for COEs, even affording multiple COEs, while lower income families which may need a car more, are forced to pay the demand-driven high COE prices.
The COE system has made cars a luxury good and COEs are going to the rich rather than to those who may really need it.
Of course, those who need it may not necessarily be able to afford it, but that’s another can of worms.
2) No segregation of user groups
COEs are segregated according to engine size and cars of smaller engine capacities are supposed to be cheaper. But that has been negated due to premium car brands launching small-engine models. The different income brackets are also not taken into consideration.
3) No redistribution of resources
The COE system encourages inflation. For example, service businesses that require vehicle ownership pass on the increased costs to consumers. Also, the money put into the high COE prices could have been re-invested into innovation by entrepreneurs.
4) May lead to bad driving behaviour
It encourages a “I want more” or “Must have car” thinking.
For example, COE for large cars in December 1994 was S$110,500.
If  adjusted for inflation, it will be much higher than today. It is people’s expectations of their needs that have changed.
Also, it can lead to really ugly driving behaviour where drivers think they own the road simply because of the high prices paid to obtain their cars.
5) Drastic changes in COE prices every fortnight cause instability
This leaves little room for prediction and destabilises automotive-related businesses. For example, the aftermarket car segment follows the cycles of the COE prices.
When COE prices are high, people will spend more on parts and accessories for their cars. Conversely, when COE prices are low, people will just switch cars every three to four years.
The pre-owned car market may be a viable option as there is the prevailing COE tagged to it, but if COE prices go too high, people end up not even buying any car, new or pre-owned.
6) No vintage car scene in Singapore
At the end of 10 years, renewing the COE life for an existing car is simply too much for some people. As a result we don’t have a very vibrant vintage car scene.
Another issue is also the modern classics, such as the Toyota AE86, which lends significance in feeding people’s passion for motorsports for instance. (Another can of worms there.)
Some suggestions that have come about to tweak the COE system are:
– Creating a separate COE category for taxis and/or luxury cars
– Segregating COE categories according to income brackets and/or household needs
– Balloting
– Queueing system
– Pay-as-you-bid model where successful bidders pay the same figure they bid rather than pay the highest figure of all the bidders
I feel that the overall transportation model (ie. walking connectivity, bicycles, buses, train, car sharing, private run buses, district planning etc.) needs to be enhanced and the COE system is instrumental in the entire system of mobility.
The public transportation system needs to get more superior, to match the conveniences of that in Hong Kong for example — a similar cosmopolitan city without the need for such a COE bidding system for cars.
Again, it is the mindset of the people as well as the convenience of the public transportation system.
Let’s not forget the COE is only one significant part of vehicle ownership in Singapore — there are still other components such as road tax, insurance, ERP, parking and getting summons.
There is also the influx of population that has not been matched by a similar rise in road capacity. There are only so many roads Singapore can build to cater to the increasing population so population management must be looked at as well.
In conclusion, the COE system does not need to be scrapped totally, but there are some policies which warrant review.
Another related issue that needs reviewing is vehicle usage, which will help with vehicle growth as well.
Traffic jams stem from too many people wanting to go to the same place at the same time. While increasing costs of attaining a car, building a better road network and improving the public transport systems do help, but it is the mindset and the usage of the vehicles that need to be taken into greater consideration.
For me for example, I drive a seven-year-old Mitsubishi Lancer which happens to be my first car.
I will drive it to the end of its COE life and at that point in time, then decide if I can afford to maintain a car in Singapore. If vehicle ownership costs (including maintenance) get too high, I will have to turn to public transport.
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at
It is with everyone’s full knowledge how our enterprising taxi drivers are abusing the rigid COEs to use taxis for own personal use with business, which accounts for most of the disappearing acts during peak hours when a taxi is needed the most, not withstanding without a small car COE category(1000cc and below), everyone is using the business category of COE van for their private personal usage also, artificially jacking up the COEs of this category.
– Contributed by Oogle.