Tracking that’s so smart

There’s a surprisingly strong amount of suspicion, and wariness in the US/Silicon Valley towards the tech giants Facebook, Google, and other internet advertising companies. It’s way more than an outsider would expect. Firstly it’s already higher in US than other countries, and then again within the Silicon Valley-type, it’s even more intense.

As someone who just loves to the utility that Google products provided, it was quite confusing. Are these people just worked up over nothing? Are they competitors? Do they hate Google and Facebook because these two juggernauts are at competition with everyone else (eg Yelp)? Are Americans and Californian social justice warriors (SJW) just that into the entire privacy thing like they are into all kinds of bizarre activism that the rest of the world doesn’t really care as much about. Examples include US racial issues, marijuana usage, LGBT issues, and more.

I honestly still feel like amongst so many companies, at least Google keeps itself in check, and does more right than wrong. Compared to other companies. They have one important luxury – that of a good and high revenue and profit where they can choose to do the right thing, instead of prioritising profits. Example recent case in point – giving up Pentagon AI contracts to preserve their moral identity and continue to attract AI and engineering talent. It’s hard to take the moral high horse if you’re a startup trying to make every dollar it can, or if you’re in an average company who needs to be concerned about year to year revenue – ie the normal world that isn’t top 10 SV unicorns.

One of the greatest fears lately has always been people wondering if your phone is spying on you, whether the presence of people discussing a particular topic lead to the sudden appearance of related ads in your Facebook or ad pages even if you didn’t type it in. A lot of that is probably confirmation bias, but I pretty much guess now that it is the close geographic proximity (via location history) of you and your counterparts, and them doing the recent searches on their devices, that leads ad targeting to also suggest the same items to you. Nobody directly recorded your conversation (as wild a guess it is, I feel it’s way too much of an overstep for them to do it, too inefficient to record and parse everything), but it kind of seemed like it.

GDPR has the world in a mess, and the EU keeps dolling out fines and weird judgements. What will the advertising future look like? Would we ever go back to the straight up less-differentiated ads like print newspapers and tv channels? It was definitely also partly targeted, but less apparent, way less specific. But it didn’t require so much cookies and tracking over platforms.
No matter what, ads remain the most viable method of survival. You, me, anyone can’t keep paying subscription fees per source that we consume from. Over 100 news sources, over 100 applications are used in our lives, it’s economically impossible to subscribe to them all. And yet it’s odd because the marketing ad budget must have come from the things we pay for. So in a way we are still paying for the ad spend. Remember marketing costs go directly into the cost of goods sold to you. Less marketing = more value to you, usually.

Tracking that’s so smart


*I am not accustomed to apps that do not autosave. *

Writing, by the beach, facing the water. Seeing.

  1. A caucasian lady on a skate scooter, wearing horizontal striped long sleeves. In this weather? at the beach? Them caucasians must be crazy. She pauses in front of a banner, reads about National Park’s SG50 Concerts in the Park. Well, everybody’s got to do the Celebration isn’t it. She moves on.
  2. Desserts = happiness. They usually don’t last very long.
  3. A couple comes along. A young girl holding an umbrella in her right hand over their heads. It’s warm. He tugs two dogs on the leash in his right hand. His left hand seems to be holding on to her left. What an odd arrangement. If it works for them.
  4. A little girl playing with the sand on the beach, digging, or building, or something. Even at their age they understand that it’s not possible to finish digging it all.
  5. Two boys run along the beach, kicking up sand. They never sit still.
  6. An indian group seems to be celebrating something under the pavilion, they brought a flag. Weird.
  7. A woman stops near me, she pulls out her phone and calls her friend. “I’m here. Where are you?” “Keep walking, I don’t think you’re close yet. I’m going to tie my hair and come over.” Rather bizarre that she says she’s going to tie her hair. It took all of ten seconds which is pretty inconsequential since the friend is at least a few minutes away out of sight. Irrelevant information.
  8. Why do we tell kids fictional stories that are totally unreal? The kids are growing up, they are learning new things about the real world, and we force them to distinguish between the fictional worlds and the real worlds, and lies. Can people fly? Does Santa Claus exist? Where do babies come from? Why is the sky blue? Can I talk to the tiger? Does a happy childhood hinge upon fictional stories of talking animals and flying fairies? What if we told them stories of magical real life things? Like rainbows, furry animals, flying aeroplanes, beaches, sunsets.
  9. Incidentally do you think a child can appreciate a sunset/sunrise? Why and why not?
  10. Do humans even understand the physics of riding a bike? How does the body keep it upright? Is it so simple that everybody can get it right? I mean, cycling isn’t the hardest skill in the world to master, as long as you’ve spent a bit of time getting over a learning curve. Simpler than learning calculus? Simpler than cooking? Simpler than driving? Perhaps that’s less brain involved and more muscle memory? Simpler than tennis? Is there a huge margin of error allowed? But could you even explain how does forward motion offset falling left or right?

For Old Friends

For Old Friends | jh

Sunrise sunset, to rise to bed
A game of life, like a game of thrones
Where time is spent, and words are said

Seasons pass and hairs turn gray
Friends are lost and friends are made

Can’t find an appropriate line to close off the stanza. Not like it’s worth being called a poem anyway, just random words written out without thinking. I’m trying to think back to how I used to write. I guess I spent a fair amount of time doodling over the same few lines while in class or in camp or at home. I’ve left behind much of that past. (Perhaps I shouldn’t be too addicted to other things.)

Not sure why I started watching, and now reading Game of Thrones — perhaps a cursory fascination with the unabased violence and wanton striking off of main characters. Many shows hang on too hard to their main characters, for too long. Anyhow watching tv doesn’t take up much of my attention.

Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy? Season 10 Episode 24 just aired, to round off the season, and the departure of one of the main characters. *spoilers*
She said she felt “unfinished here”. That’s how it almost always feels – there’s that last little bit more to do, there’s something incomplete, something you can do more, do better, and lots of other things. I would want to stay, and also want to go – and it’s impossible to be in both places.

So much of life is like this. To be absurd, I would say “I miss everything”, I miss the now, the past, the yesterday, the just now, the moment that just passed, and the alternative that could’ve been. There’s never enough time to appreciate and savour every moment (the nice ones anyway).

For Old Friends


I’ve had better weeks, and that’ll be an understatement.

June comes around again. Hi zera.

If I would sleep a contented sleep, not a tired sleep.


Sometimes I cry


No I don’t think obsessively about death. (not anymore) (not lately). But I can still kinda appreciate it when I read about it. Appreciate it in a way that most tv shows and movies and people cannot describe. Perhaps I’ve always been more sensitised to this, perhaps it’s because of past events.

This is a really good article/whatever you call this 5 page long story. It’s really very real, it’s as real as told from the point of someone who knows too much about the truth and having to deal with the reality of it. It’s hard to avoid the underlying facts when one day it happens to you and it goes from theory to reality.

Our life together was gone, and carrying on without her was exactly that, without her. I was reminded of our friend Liz’s insight after she lost her husband to melanoma. She told me she had plenty of people to do things with, but nobody to do nothing with.


It turns out that Hollywood has grief and loss all wrong. The waves and spikes don’t arrive predictably in time or severity. It’s not an anniversary that brings the loss to mind, or someone else’s reminiscences, nor being in a restaurant where you once were together. It’s in the grocery aisle passing the romaine lettuce and recalling how your spouse learned to make Caesar salad, with garlic-soaked croutons, because it was the only salad you’d agree to eat. Or when you glance at a rerun in an airport departure lounge and it’s one of the episodes that aired in the midst of a winter afternoon years earlier, an afternoon that you two had passed together. Or on the rise of a full moon, because your wife, from the day you met her, used to quote from The Sheltering Sky about how few you actually see in your entire life. It’s not sobbing, collapsing, moaning grief. It’s phantom-limb pain. It aches, it throbs, there’s nothing there, and yet you never want it to go away.

Of course Hollywood has it all wrong. Most of Hollywood is a hopeless 2 hour farce of antics and stupid jokes. But sometimes there are incredible arthouse/indie films that just break your heart. (The TV series Grey’s Anatomy is so full of stupid accidents and stuff isn’t even scary or interesting compared to real emotions. pfft. cat man?)

Cancer treatments. Someday humankind will look back and wonder, all those years, what did we do with cancer, why did we do all that. Someday.

As always, the good line: when you are near death, what would you regret, how would you want to be remembered by, what do you want to remember having done? And, as I was telling S just earlier, and it’s probably something I say too often – there are only 50 sundays a year.

Sometimes I cry

Pasar Bella

This place is just…odd.

Maps: PASAR BELLA, Turf City, Singapore

Pasar Bella



So, heard a lot about it, never gone because it’s so far, finally been there.

1. Oh it’s an internal jumbled marketspace with stalls. thought it’s more of individual shops.

2. What an eclectic mix, don’t quite know what to make of it. is it for non food stuffs, wines, desserts, dinner, snacks, takeaways? jack of all trades and master of none.

3. Got turned away at 8.15 by a stall. oh you’re closed already?? I had thought you guys were all desperate for more business. Then encountered a not-exactly-that-friendly stallkeeper. What is wrong with everyone? Too much stress on a friday night?

4. Not enough variety for a complete dinner. Not enough lounging areas and late timing for dessert/drinks folks.


That said, the place is really beautifully designed.

IMG_20140509_195846 IMG_20140509_200750

IMG_20140509_195900 IMG_20140509_195917 IMG_20140509_200121

IMG_20140509_203326 IMG_20140509_210221 IMG_20140509_215036

The dark cherry cake and tea from ?Lana’s was really good. I was just awed by the tea cups. Real, proper, tea cups. All other cutlery and plates were plastic. Which is really ridiculous given that this is a fairly upscale place serving respectable food. Awkward plastic cutlery. The tea cups are really a winner. I can see that the people here quite like their food and are passionate about it, fancy organic foodporn video notwithstanding. I think they need to work on their identity, their location and opening times.

It’s really quite similar to Granville market in Vancouver. But Granville is fairly central in the middle of town, and it’s a huge art/touristy area. Lots of design shops, art shops, high traffic, great scenery, accessible. Turf City, is just one of the worst places in Singapore. An old abandoned horse racing building, deep inside private estate area, far out from the city and any other attraction. Far for workers, far from students, far for tourists, far for hipsters.

I would like to see ‘Pasar Bella’ or it’s successor as something more organic, more real, something that grew out of a real market, a real neighbourhood with actual people who live there work there sell actual food there. The current concept is too commercialised and planted. Cities grew up where trade beckoned, where ports were, where rivers flowed. People settled and set up businesses. Food sellers established themselves near to fresh produce, where the markets were. Culture is hard to buy and fabricate, the best you can do is to encourage, or give it space to grow.

Reminds me of malls. They said a few new malls are opening this year. (Well every year malls pop up all over Singapore, but they’ve got to find something to news about.) Malls. Malls in prime shopping districts, malls in suburban spaces. It seems that the same chain shops set up all over. The same few mall developers approach the same few fashion retail and the same few f&b outlets that can afford mall rent, mall opening hours, mall space. Malls open from mid morning till early evening, shops set up within their little air conditioned glass walls. It’s expensive, it’s sterile. It’s good for fashion, but it’s fairly bad for f&b and entertainment. It’s also bad for new businesses who cannot afford the high rent, it’s bad for shops who want to create their own identity and feel, it’s bad for those who want a laid back atmosphere. Unfortunately non-mall retail space seems to be on the decline. Old blocks are torn down, old market neighbourhoods get more run down and abandoned. The expensive and controlled Apple-esque SG govt culture is stiffling innovation. But if you have huge billion$ coffers like Apple and are enjoying it, why would you want to tear things up and make a mess, right?



Pasar Bella

Price Differentials

BmXYdqpCMAACWYf overpriced



According to news reports, MAS and MTI did a comparison of commonly seen products from Zara, Apple, Ikea and other companies across major cities and calculated the difference against SG. Well, general conclusion is that we are more expensive for half the items and less expensive for a quarter of the items. As you can see from the probably overcomplicated chart above, it’s not very straightforward. Different items from different shops probably compare differently, and this is only representative of some standardised commodities.

My observations: sg isnt really cheap, things have gotten expensive majorly due to shop rental, labor. The situation is much worse than the chart shows if you compare purchasing power, which takes into account the average income, versus the actual price of the item. Example I’m sure average salary in Paris, London, New York are higher than SG. Bangkok looks screwed though.

At the end of the day, compare prices and calculate potential savings.

[See, even HKG isn’t cheaper. Not that much of a headstart despite their no-sales-tax?]

Price Differentials