Annoying aspects of renting in Singapore

Every major city has its own renting horror stories. I've rented all my life, and I must say our recent move in Singapore had points of note. Lets start with most annoying:

No standard contract (or deposit scheme)

Contracts are often one sided, copied and pasted from somewhere and basically not seen or properly analysed until a letter of intent is done. Lets just say the basic Singapore contract is not consumer friendly, much like any buying experience in Singapore. For example a typical landlord's contract states: if you are renting for two years and if you don't like the place, you basically can't get out of it. Rationale is the agent/landlord are preventing you from renting some place cheaper in the next two years.

What's the letter of intent aka Goodfaith Deposit (booking deposit)? That's an initial deposit made by you the tenant to basically put a block on the property for a week. You should get the deposit back if negotiation of finer points of the contract fail (e.g. you might want to negotiate diplomatic / break clause, right to sublet), but that's often not clear at all either.

Update: I've come to notice Backup. Section 9c and (removing) 6c is of interest to me.

Agents & agents

In Europe you typically deal direct with the Landlord.

In Singapore, you generally always deal via agents.

If you are very unlucky you can go through TWO agents. I.e.:

  • (your) agent who found the property for you
  • the landlord's agent who represents the landlord

Typically an agent's fee is half month for a one year lease. A friend of mine actually got done for twice for agent fees.

If you manage to negotiate an early termination clause, typically agents will pro-rata bill their fee in to you, the tenant, since landlord's do not want to pay it.

I guess it's just a cultural difference here in Singapore. Landlord's seem very hands off and greedy which is very worrying. Have PLENTY of patience for a negotiation and take the initiative and WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WANT. Do not let them write down the clause if possible. Even it goes your way, it's not unusual for it to be re-negotiated again and again since they have the control over the words.


Yes, racism is legal in Singapore. Basically if you are a foreigner / expat you might not get access to HDB properties (quota system). Other than that, Expats are largely treated as fair game by property agencies and landlords. The reverse can be true, 'Ang mohs' might get preferential treatment. It just feels a bit weird to me.

Also realise that most Singaporeans don't rent. Only foreigners do. The odds are not in your favour.

Finding a property

There is where most agents list & dotCom darlings like basically just plot their data on a map. is a good site if you are relatively new to Singapore and you are looking to minimise your commute. Singapore is quite strange in the sense that even fairly central places can be VERY difficult to commute from due to no or poorly placed bus lines or SMRT links.

In practice these services are very far from comprehensive and you end up constantly dealing with very little information and if you're organised, your own spreadsheet. For example layout plans are very rare. It's only when you have taken the trouble to make an appointment with an agent and time off you can actually figure out what they mean by "two room".

Forget doing stuff efficiently asynchronously over email. Tip: Try to get the landlord's email / telephone without the agent involved, since agents are often slow down the entire process.

Some random tips I am throwing in here

Many landlords view the deposit as a way to refresh their apartment’s paint and curtains every 2 years or so. So take a lot of pictures as you move in. Some expats honestly advise simply not paying the last month's rent.

Agreements often state that if an item above ~150SGD needs repair, the landlord pays. Though some agreements are quite shifty in the sense that if your fridge dies, you need to pay the first 150SGD or the landlord only pays 150SGD.

Some bus and SMRT lines are simply not practical to commute in with. For example: Bus 67 & the Green line are usually overcrowded in peak times.

How I organise my media

Following up from How I organise my pictures, there has been some changes:

  • I don't like running the proprietary blob of the Dropbox client, not btsync
  • is now on AWS S3

So this is the current workflow (or plan since I haven't got in the rhythm yet):

  1. Dump media in ~/media/{iphone6,gopro} - I use an Apple lightning cable & ifuse for getting my iPhone media off onto Archlinux - rsync -Part --exclude ".*/" /mnt/iphone/DCIM /home/hendry/media/iphone6
  2. Run to put things in a YYYY-MM-DD organised staging area called uploadme/
  3. git annex add my media in uploadme/, see git-annex
  4. Run sxiv with ~/.config/sxiv/exec/key-handler, using C-x C-d to delete images
  5. uploadme/ media is archived to 2 external hard drives
  6. Using htmlvideo to convert iphone6/.mov to uploadme/YYYY-DD-MM/.mp4
  7. Uploading photos to flickr: flickcurl upload /tmp/foo.png title "Just a test" description "Just testing" public tags "foo, bar"
  8. Uploading MP4s to S3.. since I want to resurrect sometime in the future

UPDATE: I bought nearly 600SGD worth of XI100DUSB-HDMI & the ATR2100-USB and here is my first video using obs-studio!

I have been researching for months now, how to get a live HDMI feed in from a camera, like my GoPro Hero 4, into my computer. Capture comparison video


  • live broadcasting e.g.
  • better Webcam ... I want to allow my parents to see me through a good camera, not the crappy 480p on the inbuilt camera in my laptop lid!!
  • better sound, I should be able to mux in audio into a HDMI feed from my camera source
  • optimising video editing work flows - if it is recorded, doing it live as much as possible is such a time saver

The solutions or lack thereof

Adobe Premiere Pro and FCPX

Initially I looked to how popular video editors expected me to import video frames. In a very non-standard awkward manner. Often requiring special equipment and their own proprietary drivers. I have no idea why they don't support standards.

Capture products

I've tried:

They only work with own special drivers on MacOSX or Windows. In fact, to my surprise the Live Gamer Portable was simple unable to stream via to on MacOSX, but it can on Windows. Special driver nightmare.

The video input standards (I think)

When I plug in a video source I expect to come up on my Archlinux system as simple as vlc v4l2:///dev/video0. A lot of Web cams implement this under the moniker of UVC.

So after a search for UVC and HDMI miracously I found just two options:

The INOGENI 4K2USB3 4K HDMI to USB 3.0 Converter looks perfect. It's just that it is quite expensive.

The FEBON198 guy from Taiwan seems to think it won't work in Linux, do interlaced input and of course offers no refund. However since I'm in Singapore, I doubt I realistically get a refund from B&H.


After months of research... seriously, there seems just to be one standard driver-less solution, the Inogeni, which should work seamlessly with FFMPEG and other opensource tools on my Archlinux on a Lenovo X1C3. It's great that there is such a product, but I'm almost mystified why there is just one product that does this, and cameras like Canon do not implement UVC.

Is there something glaringly wrong with UVC that I don't know about?

Better internet manifesto

Recently I have felt inspired by Internet's Own Boy and Citizenfour, to pen my thoughts on how I view and judge Internet services. Just as Aaron Swartz called us to action on Open Access, I wish to define three guiding principles for a better Internet:

  1. Open data - Choose services where I can get the data out quickly and is it in a usable format? - git interface allowing pull and ideally push (write!) too
  2. Decentralised - Avoid services where there is a concentration of power
  3. Opensource - Choose software where I can transparently see changes, has manageable source code so that it can be forked - using git with full history

Notice that I haven't requested some encryption adoption or privacy here. I feel if things are sufficiently decentralised, that would satisfy me for needs of privacy, since it raises the cost of mass surveillance.

Some examples:


Gmail is not opensource. It's incredibly centralised so that if an enemy had access to Gmail, and lets imagine most people use Gmail as their email client, by and large that enemy could read your email. Gmail does make it possible to get your data out, so score is 1 of 3.

What is the alternative? Using another email provider. Email is an open standard designed to be decentralised, so this should be an easy task. Sadly most email providers suck. I've chosen, since they aren't as big as Gmail. This is decentralised in my book, since it raises the cost of mass surveillance, since now NSA/GCHQ has to work with Fastmail to read people's email. So Fastmail gets a score of 2 of 3.

Ideally I would host my own (and my for friends&family) email, but it takes too much effort for me.


A lot of people lately are saying, lets chat on Slack! Fail! Although Slack does allow you to get your data out, it's obviously centralised and it's not opensource. Why even consider it?

The alternative is clear in my book. IRC, which is 3 of 3. Though don't expect private communication.

Social networks

Before someone criticizes my "guiding principles" of my usage of Facebook or Twitter, can I just point out that I do not expect privacy on either platform.

Twitter (1 of 3) is better than Facebook (0 of 3) since their APIs for 'Open data', i.e. getting your data back out are sane compared to Facebook. Case in point:

Final word

An online life is complex. I tried to keep these 3 principles; Open Access, Decentralisation & Opensource as simple as possible, to help me and hopefully you make better decisions that should aid privacy and increase competitiveness of our wonderful Internet!

Further links: I noticed a project called redecentralize that echoes my sentiments.

Archlinux on a Lenovo X1C3

So I bought the X1 Carbon Generation 3 !

It arrived 2015-02-17 after ordering it on the 2015-02-09. It feels like bloody Christmas !!

I love how quiet this machine is.


The model number on the order is 20BTCTO1WW. Lenovo's Safety and Setup Guide refer to this as Machine Types: 20BS and 20BT. Serial number is R90F6C3B which is confirmed by /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_serial.

# for i in /sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/*; do echo $i: $(cat $i); done
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/bios_date: 12/01/2014
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/bios_vendor: LENOVO
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/bios_version: N14ET25W (1.03 )
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_asset_tag: Not Available
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_name: 20BTCTO1WW
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_serial: W1KS52410G3
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_vendor: LENOVO
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/board_version: SDK0E50510 WIN
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/chassis_asset_tag: No Asset Information
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/chassis_serial: R90F6C3B
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/chassis_type: 10
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/chassis_vendor: LENOVO
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/chassis_version: None
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_name: 20BTCTO1WW
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_serial: R90F6C3B
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_uuid: 01DA4854-B754-CB11-BF15-8F9604DEA04D
/sys/devices/virtual/dmi/id/product_version: ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3rd

X1C3:~$ hostnamectl
   Static hostname: X1C3
         Icon name: computer-laptop
           Chassis: laptop
        Machine ID: 2e68738c559147e2a181d4fb70f030c5
           Boot ID: a6f72f88e4e443e1898be5a4f615c16a
  Operating System: Arch Linux
            Kernel: Linux 3.18.6-1-ARCH
      Architecture: x86-64


The purchase and delivery UX was frankly terrible. Really not looking forward to communicating with Lenovo, in the case there is some issue that requires customer service. :/


Usual bunch of stupid pieces of paper and ugly fingerprints!

It's well packed though. The X1C3 feels like it might not survive a drop as well as my X220. It also worryingly doesn't have spillage holes.

I am wondering about a sleeve to put it in, in order to prevent scratches and the sort whilst it travels in my pannier.

The rectangular yellow power supply connection is a bit of a disappointment. Feels stiff, fallible and why is it so similar to have USB connector? Brain dead. I also miss the loud BEEP when I gain or lose mains power. :/

Installing Archlinux

Sadly I found the Archlinux dual boot documentation a bit lacking. I was going to attempt dual boot, but I couldn't understand how to resize the Windows NTFS partitions. So I just gave up.

Also I was put confused by the UEFI BIOS stuff. Oh well.

I was hoping that Lenovo would include some sort of recovery USB stick, instead of their weird partitioning they ship with. Bye bye Windows and shitty preloaded Lenovo software ! Confirmed by HN

I went for the "modern" GPT method of partitioning and admittedly I have no clue what GPT means. I now have just one big partition formatted with ext4:

/dev/sda1   2048 500118158 500116111 238.5G Linux filesystem

Syslinux install was also a little confusing. Do I run it in the arch-chroot or not? syslinux-install_update -i -a -m worked from within the chroot, but the default grep root /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg was APPEND root=/dev/sda3 rw and not /dev/sda1.

Startup finished in 1.547s (kernel) + 519ms (userspace) = 2.066s

X1C3 mouse buttons not working

# echo "options psmouse proto=imps" > /etc/modprobe.d/psmouse.conf

WARNING: Will disable synclient! Couldn't find synaptics properties. No synaptics driver loaded?

Thanks to:

I've also disabled the trackpad since it was resulting in odd selections. I wonder if I can configure it just to scroll ?

UPDATE: Synclient might actually work in Linux 4.0

Annoying network interface names

X1C3:~$ networkctl
IDX LINK             TYPE               OPERATIONAL SETUP
  1 lo               loopback           carrier     configured
  2 wlp4s0           wlan               routable    configured
  3 enp0s25          ether              no-carrier  configuring

3 links listed.

Somewhat annoyingly my wifi0 is called wlp4s0 and my eth0 is called enp0s25. Got to thank systemd for that.

Both interfaces "just work" and perform great!

Hint if /var/run/systemd/resolve/resolv.conf is missing, you need sudo systemctl status systemd-resolved and then enable it.

Tethering from my iPhone6 works once usbmuxd is is installed, the interface name is enp0s20u1c4i2.

I've experienced a wireless issue, but I think it's more a TP-LINK AP issue. Update: Frequently get thrown off the wireless network, so I'm relying on the ThinkPad Ethernet Expansion Cable heavily.


by Kai Hendry, on Flickr">Key popped out from my new X1C3 2015 :(

Different spacing to the X220. I don't like the grease marks my sweat leaves behind. Thankfully this machine runs cool, like 42C atm, so already that's way way more comfortable than my old X220 Thinkpad.

I'm now also using a US keyboard layout setxkbmap -model thinkpad -layout us -option ctrl:nocaps from setxkbmap -layout gb -option ctrl:nocaps. Need to report back how it goes...

I've discovered I need function lock on, enabled by Esc+Fn with a green light coming on on the Fn, in order to use the function keys.

Thanks to I think this tip, when Function is not enabled the:

  • wifi kill button works
  • Mute works

But not the volume or brightness buttons AFAICT. :/

X220 to X1C3 keyboard remapping

I've overrided mapping the Thinkpad keys as above using Xmodmap to help me find the Home/End keys better.


I'm enjoying the 1920x1080 screen so far, especially since I more room to tile two windows side by side in dwm. Didn't have to do anything special so far to resize anything. google-chrome-unstable and st's static char font[] = "Terminus:pixelsize=18"; is serving me well!

This is how much bigger my irssi/tmux session is now compared to my X220!

Here you can maybe see the colour reproduction difference with a side by side comparison against the X220. Tbh, I'm not that happy with the way the X1C3 reproduces yellow. It's way too close to white.

When I slouch, I notice the viewing angles are not good.


Can't get sound to output on HDMI.

When I attach my iPhone headphones, the voice recordings are awful. I've even tried my Rode SmartLav+. There is just no sweet spot on pavucontrol to get noise/levels properly adjusted for a clear recording. I suspected windows employs some high pass filtering and that's why no one complains about the microphone under Windows. :/

GL performance

ioquake-git works better than quake3 from AUR.

seta r_mode "-1"
seta r_customwidth "1920"
seta r_customheight "1080"

At least I can go full screen now. Just that my mouse doesn't work. It seems to be locked to 60fps and I haven't worked out how to turn off vsync.

USB 3 performance

I needed to backup a nearly broken exfat 1TB USB3 drive to a newer USB3 2TB drive formatted in glorious ext4. Using sudo rsync -Part --exclude=".*" --exclude ".*/" . /mnt/2tb/recovery/ I'm getting 90Mb/sec across the USB3 bus.

Actually it seemed to speed up since it copied the 400+GB in 2 hrs, not the calculated 11. Any ideas how to better calculate this?

Other issues

I ran into this Archlinux slow DNS resolving bug. Since disabled ipv6.

Other resources:

Thinkpad or Macbook Air

As mentioned on, my computer for last couple of years has been a X220 and I've been using Thinkpads since 2001, erm 14 years!?

I resisted the X230 upgrade because of the inferior looking chiclet keyboard and the X240 had a serious issue with the mouse pad, so that was a no go.

Like many, I've been hanging on feeling a bit miserable. Almost accepting that my next computer would have to be a Intel from Apple. Though the comparable models like the Macbook Air, which I extensively tested runs Archlinux... I really didn't like the keyboard and most importantly lack of Trackpoint.

Waited long enough

Lately I've been developing an Android app. My 4GB of RAM of my X220 is simply not enough. I need an upgrade to be productive!


Generation 2015

Thinkpad Keyboards now with physical mouse buttons

Thankfully Lenovo reversed their earlier poor design decision and re-introduced physical mouse buttons across their Laptop product line up, which I have been studying.

Naturally I wanted to upgrade from my X220 to the X250, but on closer inspection I'm put off by the X250's:

  • Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic
  • Still the same 1366x768 (16:9), 12.5"

I'm sore that Lenovo seem unable to make a Thinkpad where there aren't huge bezels on the side of screen and keyboard. Shame they can't make it flush and like the original design intention of a Bento box. :/

X220 to ThinkPad X1 Carbon (3rd Gen) ?

The Intel Broadwell based ThinkPad X1 Carbon (3rd Gen) i5-5300U or i7-5500U looks like the one.

  • Carbon X1 re-assuringly is made of Magnesium/Aluminum, and hence I'm assuming a better build quality than the X250
  • The 14" sized displays starts at FHD 1920x1080 (16:9), not sure I want to take the leap to WQHD 2560x1440.
  • I prefer the HDMI port instead of the VGA port, since all my screens around my house are HDMI compatible, since 2010 ;)
  • Quite bummed that there is NO SDCARD slot ! :(

Can't help but think a high resolution screen 2560x1440 will be an absolute pain to setup with Xorg and likely to drain my battery faster.

My concerns with going for the X1 Carbon is that the hard drive is not replaceable AFAICT. A reddit user says the hard drive is a standard M2 and therefore should be replacable. I inevitably want to upgrade the hard drive like I've done on every Thinkpad I've owned.

I'm worried that the external Ethernet is just a poor performing USB3 to Gigabit adaptor. I'm assured the ethernet port is a real one. I prefer to work on a wired connection.

What next

Apple have yet to update their Mac product line to Intel's delayed Broadwell generation. Apple might be getting better Broadwell reference hardware from Intel than Lenovo... or have some other hardware innovation. I really like Apple's charger cables and that would make like easier around my family since all have Apple hardware.

Nonetheless even though I'm a ashamedly happy IOS iPhone6 user, I do want to use the best alternative to Apple hardware and software. Got to Think different!

Will that be the X1 Carbon Gen 3 & Archlinux? I'll let you know. A lot will depend on reviews and price points of the Air vs X250 vs X1 Carbon Gen 3. I can tell you I'm not looking forward to ordering it on Lenovo's horrible Website and I won't be purchasing an extra plan since Lenovo are absolutely hopeless at service & support.

Update: Although Dell's Broadwell Ultrabook, the XPS 13 lacks a Trackpoint, it looks worthy of a mention. Carbon fibre and the low bezel screen looks amazing.

Update: DoubleDown pointed out that Intel's next next generation Skylake is due in a few months (Q2) since Broadwell has been so delayed.

Update: Despite emailing Lenovo Singapore and asking about the X1 Carbon Gen 3 and their sales guy saying they will let me know as soon as it's released... I've just noticed for 2433SGD. GULP! More expensive that a

The price has shocked me a little:

  • 2433SGD in Singapore... not far from a 15" Macbook Pro!
  • 1200GBP in UK which is 2447 in SGD
  • 1200USD in US which works out to be 1614SGD, but it only has 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD!?
DFS versus Cold Storage

So I bought some wine & beer returning from the Philippines at DFS at Changi Airport.


48.95SGD for Oyster Bay at Cold Storage

DFS prices correspond to that on their Website, that is 36.20SGD for 0.75L of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

I checked the price with Cold Storage, which was 48.95SGD. So that's almost a 30% saving!


6pack Carlsberg at 16.70SGD at Cold Storage

If you don't buy spirits, you can buy 2x3 cans of beer. 2x6.30SGD of the cheapest beer there, Carlsberg is 12.60SGD. A 6 pack of Carlsberg in Cold Storage is 16.70SGD, that's a 28% difference.

So how much is tax?

Hat tip: Thanks Valentine for explaining the duty to me.

In Singapore, duty on alcohol is $88.00 per litre of alcohol.

So for a 13% alcohol, 0.75L bottle of wine, it's $8.58. Goods & Services Tax is $3.20 per bottle. 48.95-8.58-3.20=37.17SGD. So ignoring tax, DFS is still a dollar cheaper than Cold Storage.

What about the UK?

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 75Cl at Tesco is 11.19GBP, which at best is 22.62SGD. That's with UK tax.

That's almost a 50% saving on Singapore duty free prices. Crazy.

Singapores Internet of Nothing

Since I work at, occasionally the topic arises of how to keep your embedded device connected to the Internet in Singapore.

Basically it's a huge PITA.

Wireless@SG doesn't work reliably. It's a long running joke. If you miraculously authenticate and get online, you will probably be kicked off.

Getting connected on 4G LTE is expensive and a HUGE PITA. The cheapest way I've discovered so far is to get a "Long expiry plan". The longest being 30 days for 1GB for 20SGD, You have to manually renew it every month from the device itself. Good luck scripting the SMS to top up! No one I know has managed it.

Getting wired connected for a little thingie is generally impractical. OpenNET aka NetLinkTrust can take MONTHS to get their contractors hooking you up. ISPs contract is 1 year minimum. Next you will have little headaches like VLAN tagging to worry about.

There was an initiative for an "alternative" low power connectivity with SIGFOX but that fizzled out and besides... it's one way & non-IP so lacking in versatility.

And no IPv6

Even if you somehow get inexpensively connected to the Internet in Singapore. You won't have IPv6. You won't be addressable. No Internet service I've found does IPv6 natively in Singapore, leading to horrible stop gaps like where I have to keep an expensive socket connection open just to be able to get at my device.

IPv6 workarounds like HENET aren't great because they are usually very slow, expensive and badly routed. IPv6 needs to be natively supported by ISPs and routes need to be constantly tested and maintained.


So the above connectivity challenges really need to be sorted out for Singapore to have an "Internet of Things" revolution. Initiatives like "Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN)" & "Wireless@SG" sound awesome. But the devil is in the detail. A lot more work & consideration must be made to get the Internet of Things sanely online and addressable.

Switching to StarHub

Update: 2014-12-18 FINALLY StarHub flicked the switch! You can tell VoLTE works by Tapping About→Carrier

Switching to a better mobile deal is quite tricky in Singapore.

I compared Singtel, M1 & StarHub by their 3GB plans, but there are some hidden costs.

Firstly, you need take a chunk of time out of your day to re-contract. Despite what StarHub might say, to open your new line, you need to go to a StarHub shop. I darkly predicted a 3hr mission to Bugis. I was not far wrong. The wait, signup and payment took almost exactly 90 minutes, we are now exhausted!

Things you need in order to switch

  • A Singaporean Identity Card with at least 6 months of validity
  • Proof of address, ideally a bill

You need to ensure you are "not contracted" still if you are switching. The terminology is very confusing in Singapore. Since on some plans after an initial 1 year contract, you automatically get migrated by your current operator/carrier (mine was M1) to a typically more expensive "rolling contract".

A rolling contract means you are not contracted. If you are not contracted StarHub can take care of the switch, but they can't tell if you are contracted or not contracted. You must find out beforehand, or risk losing your money.

The little gotchas

The StarHub 4G "3" plan we switched to from M1 is 34.32, but Caller Display ... a fundamental feature is astonishingly a 5.35SGD a month addon / "Value-Added Service". So your bill ends up being 40.09SGD a month.

The other big gotcha is that you need to pay for the new SIM cards + "activation cost". So this the switching cost to look out for. So that is 37.45SGD per line. So for my wife and I, out came the cash card, nervous looks and a painful swallow for 74.90SGD.

After 12 months, the line loses the initial 20% discount and ramps up. So every year, to save 20%, you should recontract. I.e. spend an afternoon in a Starhub shop.

While you are signing up aka the assistant typing in all your details into a baroque PDF form (since they use PDF for their business processes, I think this proves they don't use Web forms / i.e. an online process yet), you can and should ask for:

  • No advertisements
  • No to reselling information
  • No to voicemail - accidentally dialling voicemail on your iPhone costs about 20c / per minute

The next few days

Previously we had free calls between each other, and StarHub has a similar feature, however you need to call customer services to nominate the numbers in their HappyTalk scheme. You can't do this online. Update: Since we get 150 free minutes a month, I don't think we need HappyTalk which I later figured out cost 10SGD to activate.

Furthermore, you need to call and setup E-billing. Bit of a shame they can't setup an online account there and then in the shop.

Update: The porting was announced via SMS on M1, that it would happen on the 1st Dec. I noticed about midnight on the 1st no service on the M1 card so we switched to the StarHub SIM card. We tried calling each other, but it failed. In the morning, however is working fine! There was a confirmation SMS that the port was successful at 9AM.

The StarHub staff implies the switch should be smooth and we shouldn't be double charged. We lay in wait for the next M1 bill!

Where you sign 6 times without seeing what you are signing

The last and probably most annoying thing, is that to setup a UK style "Direct Debit" or Giro as it is called here in Singapore, you need to do some legwork with your bank. It's not an automated process, and StarHub doesn't do sane things like present you with a pre-filled bank instruction. Which is surprising, because that means StarHub won't know when they will get paid and leads to all sorts of other costs like sending reminder letters to pay. sigh

M1 versus StarHub

I heard from a couple of sources that StarHub is currently the most modern network and the first and only operator supporting HD voice in Singapore.

What's HD voice? It's actually an interesting 4G VOIP implementation locked to the carrier, so you can't "SIP2SIM" away to a 3rd party sadly. An easy way to tell if you have it or not, is to make a call and watch the 4G symbol. Did the call drop to 3G data speeds? Yes? You don't have HD then!

UPDATE: I've noticed my reception dropping to 3G when taking calls, so AFAICT StarHub have messed up HD audio on my new line. I'm trying to get through to someone sane in support and failing.

4G speeds atm from Geylang seems roughly the same, about 40mbit/sec down. However StarHub's upload seems a little more capped than M1.

Therefore it takes roughly just 11 minutes of full speed downloading to blow the 3GB monthly included data. Each extra 1GB is charged at 10.70SGD, which caps at 168SGD.

StarHub might be on Twitter, but whoever is handling the account is absolutely useless:

The $$$ saving

My wife calculated that through switching we should save about 96SGD for the year, compared to just re-contracting with M1 for the 3GB plan. Is that worth an afternoon in a Starhub shop? I'll let you decide. ;)

Smart Circuit breaker wanted

Switch board at HSG

My dream hardware project, the project I check periodically for, is a "smart" MCB that could fit in a typical circuit switch board, but with two additional features:

  1. Wifi IoT connectivity so I can at least TURN OFF that switch
  2. An API to read out of how much power the circuit is pulling in kilowatts, like wireless-electricity-meter-idea

Close up of MCBs

Use case

Ever left your home with the Iron or Air-conditioner on?

I want a simple Web application to be able to see a total & break down of how much power my home is using. If I noticed some grave irregularity (like leaving an iron on!!), I can just switch the power off for that circuit altogether.

Update: Kickstarter projects like the electricity monitor are a step in the right direction.


Thank you for commenting !