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Category: General (page 1 of 2)

Jeff Bezos – High standards

Below is an excerpt from Jeff Bezos’s letter to share holders, which i find very meaningful.


One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something’s in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.

How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There’s no single way to do it – it’s a combination of many things. But high standards (widely deployed and at all levels of detail) are certainly a big part of it. We’ve had some successes over the years in our quest to meet the high expectations of customers. We’ve also had billions of dollars’ worth of failures along the way. With those experiences as backdrop, I’d like to share with you the essentials of what we’ve learned (so far) about high standards inside an organization.

Intrinsic or Teachable?

First, there’s a foundational question: are high standards intrinsic or teachable? If you take me on your basketball team, you can teach me many things, but you can’t teach me to be taller. Do we first and foremost need to select for “high standards” people? If so, this letter would need to be mostly about hiring practices, but I don’t think so. I believe high standards are teachable. In fact, people are pretty good at learning high standards simply through exposure. High standards are contagious. Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt. The opposite is also true. If low standards prevail, those too will quickly spread. And though exposure works well to teach high standards, I believe you can accelerate that rate of learning by articulating a few core principles of high standards, which I hope to share in this letter.

Universal or Domain Specific?

Another important question is whether high standards are universal or domain specific. In other words, if you have high standards in one area, do you automatically have high standards elsewhere? I believe high standards are domain specific, and that you have to learn high standards separately in every arena of interest. When I started Amazon, I had high standards on inventing, on customer care, and (thankfully) on hiring. But I didn’t have high standards on operational process: how to keep fixed problems fixed, how to eliminate defects at the root, how to inspect processes, and much more. I had to learn and develop high standards on all of that (my colleagues were my tutors).


Understanding this point is important because it keeps you humble. You can consider yourself a person of high standards in general and still have debilitating blind spots. There can be whole arenas of endeavor where you may not even know that your standards are low or non-existent, and certainly not world class. It’s critical to be open to that likelihood.

Recognition and Scope

What do you need to achieve high standards in a particular domain area? First, you have to be able to recognize what good looks like in that domain. Second, you must have realistic expectations for how hard it should be (how much work it will take) to achieve that result – the scope.

Let me give you two examples. One is a sort of toy illustration but it makes the point clearly, and another is a real one that comes up at Amazon all the time.

Perfect Handstands

A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn’t getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. “Most people,” he said, “think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you’re just going to end up quitting.” Unrealistic beliefs on scope – often hidden and undiscussed – kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be – something this coach understood well.

Six-Page Narratives

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of “study hall.” Not surprisingly, the quality of these memos varies widely. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum.

In the handstand example, it’s pretty straightforward to recognize high standards. It wouldn’t be difficult to lay out in detail the requirements of a well-executed handstand, and then you’re either doing it or you’re not. The writing example is very different. The difference between a great memo and an average one is much squishier. It would be extremely hard to write down the detailed requirements that make up a great memo. Nevertheless, I find that much of the time, readers react to great memos very similarly. They know it when they see it. The standard is there, and it is real, even if it’s not easily describable.

Here’s what we’ve figured out. Often, when a memo isn’t great, it’s not the writer’s inability to recognize the high standard, but instead a wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more! They’re trying to perfect a handstand in just two weeks, and we’re not coaching them right. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two. The key point here is that you can improve results through the simple act of teaching scope – that a great memo probably should take a week or more.


Beyond recognizing the standard and having realistic expectations on scope, how about skill? Surely to write a world class memo, you have to be an extremely skilled writer? Is it another required element? In my view, not so much, at least not for the individual in the context of teams. The football coach doesn’t need to be able to throw, and a film director doesn’t need to be able to act. But they both do need to recognize high standards for those things and teach realistic expectations on scope. Even in the example of writing a six-page memo, that’s

teamwork. Someone on the team needs to have the skill, but it doesn’t have to be you. (As a side note, by tradition at Amazon, authors’ names never appear on the memos – the memo is from the whole team.)

Benefits of High Standards

Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits. Naturally and most obviously, you’re going to build better products and services for customers – this would be reason enough! Perhaps a little less obvious: people are drawn to high standards – they help with recruiting and retention. More subtle: a culture of high standards is protective of all the “invisible” but crucial work that goes on in every company. I’m talking about the work that no one sees. The work that gets done when no one is watching. In a high standards culture, doing that work well is its own reward – it’s part of what it means to be a professional.

And finally, high standards are fun! Once you’ve tasted high standards, there’s no going back.

So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable, they are domain specific, you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic scope. For us, these work at all levels of detail. Everything from writing memos to whole new, clean-sheet business initiatives. We hope they help you too.

Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high.

— from the Amazon Leadership Principles

Origninally from: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm

Applying for China Visa in Singapore

Singaporeans do not need a visa to travel to China. Unfortunately, i hold a Malaysian passport so Visa is a requirement.  The official website for the Chinese Visa Application Service Center is here.  However there is still a lot of information to digest. The center is conveniently located in CBD. Upon arriving at the lobby, you will see signs that leads you the center.

  • Address: 80 Robinson Road, #16-01/02/02A, Singapore 068898
  • Business Hours: Monday-Friday.Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
    Submission of applications: 9:00to 15:00.
  • Payment and collection: 9:00 to 16:00.

Documents required

This is based on a Malaysian as a Singapore PR applying Chinese Visa in Singapore.

  1.  Complete the online application form and print it out. You can also download the PDF application form and fill out manually.
  2. A passport sized (43mm x 33mm) photo with white background. There is a passport photo machine at the center.
  3. Confirmed flight booking ticket/itinerary
  4. Confirmed hotel/AirBnB booking
  5. Re-entry permit (REP) for PR
  6. Singapore PR NRIC. For EP/S-Pass/WP holders, your corresponding passes
  7. Colour photocopy of the first page of your passport.  There is a color photocopying service behind the reception at $1.00

If you forgot to print out a document or a booking, the reception also provides “Email to print” service at $1.00 per piece.

Processing time and fees

  1.  Regular service: The processing time is usually 4 working days. (If you apply on Tuesday, you can get it by Friday 9:00am.) – $110 Single, $135 for Double entry
  2.  Express service: The processing time is usually 3 working days. (If you apply on Tuesday, you can get it by Thursday 9:00am.) – $175 Single, $200 Double entry
  3.  Urgent service: The processing time is usually 2 working days. (Submission before 14:00, you can collect next day 9:00 – 16:00) – $220 Single, $245 Doule entry

Payment is on collection day itself. Cash, NETS and Union Pay is accepted.

Protect yourself against Wanna Cry ransomware

Currently, there is no WannaCry decryption tool or any other solution available, so users are strongly advised to follow prevention measures in order to protect themselves.

Keep your system Up-to-date: First of all, if you are using supported, but older versions of Windows operating system, keep your system up to date, or simply upgrade your system to Windows 10.


  1.  If you are using unsupported versions of Windows, including Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 or 2008, apply the emergency patch released by Microsoft today.
  2. Enable Firewall: Enable firewall, and if it is already there, modify your firewall configurations to block access to SMB ports over the network or the Internet. The protocol operates on TCP ports 137, 139, and 445, and over UDP ports 137 and 138.
  3. Disable SMB: Follow steps described by Microsoft to disable Server Message Block (SMB).
  4. Keep your Antivirus software up-to-date: Virus definitions have already been updated to protect against this latest threat.
  5. Backup Regularly: To always have a tight grip on all your important files and documents, keep a good backup routine in place that makes their copies to an external storage device that is not always connected to your PC.
  6. Beware of Phishing: Always be suspicious of uninvited documents sent an email and never click on links inside those documents unless verifying the source.

Malaysia Tenancy Agreement Stamp Duty Fee Calculation

After getting your property paperwork sorted out and the daunting task of completing your renovation, investment buyers will quickly seek to collect rental from the property. Attracting and screening for a good tenant is not easy and it also boils down to luck. But i believe creating a home rather than just treating it as a rental house will increase your chances of finding a tenant that actually wants to live in it.

One of the things to note when renting out your units is to never rent your house without a tenancy agreement (TA), especially for direct (not through agents) rental to friends/family/friend of friends etc. The extra step in drafting a TA and getting it officially stamped at LHDN office forms a legalised document will save you much agony in the case of any dispute.

There is another added advantage by having a tenancy agreement. It will be a supporting document to prove that you are having additional rental income. This additional income can help you to acquire loan approval for your next property purchase.

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Setup VLAN on DD-WRT

Many of the routers on the market support third-party router firmware like DD-WRT or OpenWRT. These firmware add additional functionalities to you router if your network is more complex than a single flat network. It also allow you to tinker with many advance settings to customize for your needs.

One  such usage is to use DD-WRT to create multiple VLANs and link them together. This was done for a client when they have 3 VLANs from a legacy setup, but needed each VLAN to talk to each other.  I know it does seem counter intuitive since the usage of VLANs is to segregate your network into different segments, but for the case reverse engineering it allows 3 separate networks to talk to each other.

I assume you already have already installed DD-WRT on your router. If not, you can read my guide here on how to do so.

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How to create a Fedora Linux USB installer using Mac OSX

  1. Download a Fedora image if your choice from https://getfedora.org, choose a USB stick that does not contain any data you need, and connect it to your machine. This method should also work for Linux distribution installer images.
  2. Open a Terminal. It is located in Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal
  3. Run diskutil list. This will list all disks connected to the system, as /dev/disk1, /dev/disk2 and so on. Identify – very carefully which one corresponds to the USB stick you wish to use. Hereafter, we’ll assume it was /dev/disk4 as per my test rig’s environment – modify the commands as appropriate for your own USB stick.

    diskutil list

    The USB flash drive is mounted as /dev/disk4 with 8.0GB of space

  4. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk4
  5. Type sudo dd if=, then drag and drop the Fedora ISO image file from your Finder to the Terminal window.  This should autocomplete the Fedora ISO location to the command, so you do not need to type out the path yourself.
  6. Now complete the command with of=/dev/disk4 bs=1m,  but don’t hit Enter yet. You should wind up with something like  sudo dd if=/Volumes/Images/Fedora-Server-DVD-x86_64-23.iso of=/dev/disk4 bs=1m
  7. Double-check you have the correct disk number and you’re really, really sure you don’t need any of the data on the USB stick!
  8. Hit Enter and wait. Depending on your USB stick’s speed it can take 15-30mins.
  9. Wait for the operation to complete, then reboot your computer, and hold down the left Alt/Option key to access the boot menu and choose the USB stick – you should see a Fedora logo. Click this to boot.

EKEN H8R vs GoPro Hero 4 Silver – Photo quality test and review

EKEN’s latest action camera – the H8R (R for remote model) is quipped to be a Hero 4 killer at a fraction of the cost. Armed with the Sony IMX078 12.4 Megapixel sensor, 2″ rear live view LCD and front data LCD, it also takes 4K videos at 30fps (vs 15fps on Hero 4 Silver).

Here’s a comparison table:

Eken H8R vs Go Pro Hero 4 Silver

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How To Install DD-WRT on ASUS RT-AC68U (or any supported routers)

DD-WRT – What is it?

  • Open-source firmware that unlocks a router’s full capabilities and adds an enormous number of features generally not included by manufacturers in stock firmware.
  • Compatible with large number of routers like ASUS, Netgear, Buffalo, Linksys, TP-Link etc.
  • Standardises the user experience across multiple devices and brands so that any knowledge and skills a person acquires with DD-WRT are instantly transferable to any new device.

Choosing a router

ASUS remains my current favourite brand for routers. They may be a bit pricier but the build quality and industrial design remains attractive. The stock firmware is usually decent, and loaded with ASUS Merlin you actually have a robust, high-performance router to use with our local ISPs. (Singnet/M1/Starhub/Viewqwest/MR in Singapore), (Unifi/Maxis/Time in Malaysia). They release custom localised firmware for use with IPTV set-top boxes, so your SingTel TV or HyppTV will work.

The ASUS AC68U has a Dual-core 800MHz BCM4708 ARM-based SoC chip, compared to the dated BCM4706 MIPS-based SoC chip used on the AC66U (and the older N66U as well). For heavy VPN traffic usage, the faster SoC will be beneficial. It is available at S$319.00 (RM957.00) from Challenger.

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Procedures For Singapore Vehicles Bearing G / Y Plates To Be Licensed As Commercial Vehicles In Malaysia


 Approvals are solely by the Johor Road Transport Department Director.

1.  The requirements are as follows:-

      1. The registered owner, either a company or an individual, must have a company registered in Malaysia (in the case of a company one of the directors must be a director in both of the companies registered in Singapore and in Malaysia)
      2. Applications must be in writing addressed to the State of Johor Road Transport Department Director and should be sent by hand to counters number 13 to 14 at the Vehicles Registration Section of the Johor RTD in Taman Daya, Jalan Pasir Gudang Johor Bahru.

2.   The following documents must be submitted:-

      1. An Official Application Letter by the registered owner of the vehicle.
      2. A photocopy of Business Registration with the ROC of   Singapore and in Malaysia if   the owner is a company (If the owner is an individual, BR of business registered in Malaysia) only (Form 9 and Form 49).
      3. A photocopy of the Log Book of the vehicle or a letter from LTA.
      4. A photocopy of the insurance certificate for the vehicle to be licensed.
      5. A photocopy of an Identification Card or passport of the owner of the vehicle (if it is a company, the passport of the Director who is a director of both companies in Malaysiaand in Singapore).
      6. The Latest Bank Statement of the Malaysian Company of Business.
      7. Photographs of the vehicle (Front, Rear and Side Views).
      8. Photographs of the business premise in Malaysia (With signboard of the name of the company). 
  1. Upon receiving an approval, the vehicle has to be sent for inspection at PUSPAKOM Johor Bahru to get an Inspection Report.
  1. After passed the inspection, the owner can proceed to the Road Tax counters to get a Malaysian Road Tax at the rate of RM 10.00 per month or at RM120.00 annually.
  1. The licensed vehicle is subjected to a 6 month’s routine inspection but the owner can show proof that the vehicle has passed an inspection by the Singapore Authority, it could be considered as having fulfilled the requirement without bring the vehicle for inspection at PUSPAKOM.

If you have further enquiries, you may contact the Johor Road and Transport Department at the following address:

Kompleks JPJ , Taman Daya
Lebuhraya Pasir Gudang
80990 Johor Bahru
Telephone: 607-3606060
Fax: 607-3542805

Choosing the (super) ideal diamond

In my quest to find the perfect proposal ring for my girlfriend, i’ve embarked on a journey to learn more about diamonds. It is something that one rarely pays any attention to, only relevant when you need to get one for your partner. I started on the HWZ forums, where there is an active thread on proposal rings and diamond discussion.  It is also the the place where i picked up most useful and relevant information, mostly from users that went through the same thought process when breaking the cherry on getting a proposal ring. For most,  it is our first time (and hopefully last), and diamond is a huge monetary investment, so most would like to get the best bang for their buck.

Most are familiar with the 4Cs – Carat, Clarity, Color, Cut.



The social norm focus mainly on carat, which usually is mistaken as the size of the diamond, but is actually the weight(mass). Reason i pointed this out is that you can have two diamonds of the same carat weight but one will appear larger than the other depending on way the diamond was cut.


Diamonds occur naturally in all colours of the rainbow. Generally, the rarest diamonds exhibit no colour at all (apart from fancy colours). Polished diamonds are graded for minute variations in depth of colour, from ‘colourless’ to ‘light colour’. This is universally known as the D (meaning ‘exceptional white’) to Z (‘tinted colour) colour scale. D, E, F are considered colourless. From my personal experience, I would actually go all the way down to a “G” color, as you can’t really see the yellow tint unless placed directly beside a much whiter diamond.


When we speak of a diamond’s clarity, we are referring to the presence of identifying characteristics on (blemishes) and within (inclusions) the stone. It is graded as per below:

F – Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
IF – Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
VVS1-VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist. VVS1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and VVS2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
VS1-VS2 -Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification. VS1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and VS2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
SI1-SI2 – Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification. SI1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and SI2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
I1-I2-I3 – Included (three grades). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification AS WELL AS to the human eye. Not recommend buying diamonds in any of these grades.

Some common inclusions, as represented on the diamond’s cert, are Cloud, Feather, Pinpoint (the shape of the inclusions and blemishes).  My personal recommendation is at least get a VS2 diamond that is eye clean (can’t tell with naked eye looking VERY closely and carefully). Unless you are very concerned about the resale value of your diamond, you will need a 10x loupe to see the inclusions.

NOTE: Do not get blemish or inclusions that are near the girdle (edge of diamond), as it makes the diamond vulnerable to cracking when impact is applied. Diamond are the hardest element, but under these circumstances, can be brittle.



The cut is perhaps the most important factor in a diamond.  Cut is expressed in terms of the brilliance, fire and scintillation of a diamond. To maximise sparkle, a diamond must be cut to very specific parameters of angle and dimension with a strict attention to the polished finish of the diamond. General norm is that so long a diamond has a GIA Triple-Excellent or AGS Triple-Ideal (on Cut, Symmetry, Polish) rating, it is guaranteed to be a good diamond.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but a 3EX grading does not surely ensure a well cut diamond. This will only give you an Ideal cut diamond. To get the best diamond, we need to find the Super Ideal cut diamond.


Finding the Super Ideal diamond

If you inspect your GIA cert, you will see a number of values on the diamond. These values can help you filter out the great diamonds from the not-so-good ones. As the fire and scintillation mostly depends on light reflections, there are some values to take note of to ensure a well cut diamond. This will separate a Super Ideal cut from a normal Ideal cut.


1. Firstly, use the Holloway Cut Advisor (HCA tool) to determine it’s potential Light Return, Fire, Scintillation and Spread performance. A score of  below 1.5 is recommended. The lower the HCA score, the better the performance.

The Light Return, Fire and Scintillation should all return “Excellent“. Spread can be “Very Good” or “Excellent”.

URL: http://www.pricescope.com/tools/hca


2. Choose a diamond with values within these ranges for optimal performance

Pavilion Angle: range 40.3° – 41.1° (40.6° – 40.8° is optimum)

Total Depth: 59% To 62%

Crown angle: range 33.4° – 36.4° (34° – 35° is optimum)

Table Size: 53% To 58% (54%-57% is optimum)

Lower Girdle Halve length: 75% To 80% (77% is optimum)

Star Facet Length: 40% To 58% (45%-50% is optimum)

(values adapted from heartsandarrows.com)

To know more about what these values does, you can check out Hearts and Arrows DNA page.


3. Put the diamond under an ASET & IDEAL scope to see the symmetry of the cut. Nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes. Below is a reference comparison on the high performance diamonds compared to the rest of the common diamonds.


ASET scope and Ideal scope images comparison

The performance qualities in round brilliants are predominantly direct light (RED in both tools) contrast pattern (BLUE in ASET, BLACK in Ideal Scope) and leakage (WHITE in both tools) so both tools are well-suited to analyzing rounds.

High Performance (Rounds)

In high performance rounds RED is dominant, broken by an even BLUE contrast pattern. GREEN is present in small, symmetrical quantities. WHITE leakage should be minimized.

Brightness and Dispersion

Abundant RED indicates abundant light return, which most people find appealing. The balance of dispersion or “fire” seen will depend on the diamond’s configuration or “make” and must be assessed in-person. Large tables and shallow crowns have more whiteness then fire. Small tables and high crowns have more fire than whiteness. Middle combinations are balanced.


BLUE creates the contrast pattern in a round diamond. These areas are obscured by the observer in the face-up position. Tilt the diamond slightly and those areas erupt in light as others go dark. Tilt it more and they swap again. Keep tilting and the on-off sparkle you see is scintillation. In high performance diamonds the character of scintillation is influenced by the table and lower halves. Short lower halves result in fewer, broader flashes. Long lower halves create more numerous, smaller flashes. Middle combinations are balanced.


The Chosen One

After much tinkering, i settled on getting my diamond ring at JannPaul. I was not disappointed. The immense knowledge that they meticulously went through with me was definitely an eye opener. They have batches of Super Ideal diamonds for your selection, depending on your budget constraints and requirements. Below are the ASET and Ideal Scope images of the diamond i purchased.


JP Ideal Scope JP Aset Scope JP hearts and arrows JP actual diamond



There are of course more in depth research that you can do, but after reading pages after pages on selecting the holy grail of diamonds, i believe the points pointed out above is more than adequate for you to find a brilliant diamond for your beloved partner. Look out for her taking notice on any particular ring setting that she may like, be it vintage, tiffany-style, with 4 or 6-prongs etc. It will save yourself a lot less headache when it comes to figuring out what is it exactly that she will like.

When all else fails, ask. It is something that will be with her forever. The excitement of not know WHEN you will pop the question will still be special.

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