It’s the end of the financial year (yes, Simply Jean does have a financial year) and there’s going to be some changes in which the blog will be run. Starting from today tomorrow, only the latest entry will be available via browser. This is because of a Loof Virus that’s spreading around on the host server that is currently still attacking all the Wordpress blogs. This is the same virus/code that brought down various blogs in recent weeks, including Kevin’s. While the administrators are working on it, all users will only get to see the first post via an internet web browser. The alternative is for readers of Simply Jean to subscribe to the feed.

However, the authors at Simply Jean are perplexed at what the feed url is. However, we suspect it’s something along the lines of feed://http//feeds.feedburner.com/simplyjean, but seriously, we don’t use feed readers ourselves, so we are not too sure. Any help from any kind souls will be much appreciated.

At the same time, the familiar face that the blogosphere has seen – who was the "official spokesperson" for Simply Jean may also change. Jean (the current spokesperson) will be stepping down with effect from 15th April 2008. The blog will be undergoing a revamp soon to reflect the new dynamics that an almost new panel of authors will present. Some of these new and exciting features are described below.

As the cost of operation is rising (we just received an email stating that we have to upgrade our service plan), we are considering opening to any opportunities of advertising with us. While Simply Jean’s Alexa rating is only in the range of 220,000 to 230,000 (although usually nearer to 220,000), we also boast a Page Rank of 4/10 which rose steadily since the inception of Simply Jean last year. As of the new financial year, Simply Jean will be registered as a business entity. We hope that through various innovative ideas, we hope to generate revenue that could be returned to the readers or people.

For a start, we may consider a subscription plan that another popular aggregator also considered last year. However, instead of using that revenue for our operating costs, we hope to collect enough per year to return it back to people who need the money. We feel that this is an innovative idea that no other blogs or aggregator has tried. The actual cost of the subscription is still under discussion, but we will make it affordable to everyone.

We also realised that the recent flood of advertisements from our advertisers have slowed the loading of the first page somehow. While this is also temporarily solved by the first-post only solution as described above, we at Simply Jean believe in providing some form of premium service to our readers. In addition to our subscription plan that we will be introducing, readers may also opt for a speed-on-demand feature that allows them to download our pages at a faster speed. For as low as $5, our users can opt for faster loading during peak hours at 8:00am to 11:00am, and 5:30pm to 10:00pm. These hours will be revised every 3 months as we monitor our web statistics. More details will be available at a later time.

As for the closing of Simply Jean, this is still being discussed. If the business plan pulls through (amongst other plans that cannot be described yet due to our non disclosure agreement with our VCs), Simply Jean may be maintained by a totally new panel of authors, as mentioned above. We understand that there may be some apprehension about the subscription plans and the speed-on-demand feature. Thus, should any reader require any subsidy, we may provide as much as $2.90 per month.

Meanwhile, we welcome any flaming feedback from any of our readers. As you can see, we are still as humourous as ever and we believe that this will keep our blog alive and commercially viable. We look forward to a good year ahead and a strong mandate from you, our reader.

Simply Jean was there when they were testing out the F1 car. I have only one word to describe it. Noisy! If I have to use 2 words to describe it… it’d be…

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Food glorious food! Dinner was great and you simply have to be there to taste and to savour the taste! =) If you are a scallop person, you will definitely not want to miss this part at all!

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From top left down, we have salad, yummy-licious dressings for the salad, onion rings-scallops(yummy!)-fish, chicken!, crab meat and spaghetti (just look at that overflowing sauce!), salmon on french (can’t remember what that’s called), diced tomato on french and mushroom on french (can’t remember what they are called too) and forks and spoons (sorry, these are not edible). =P

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Some of us decided to pay nostalgia a visit and played some games. Do you remember 5 stones? Or old maid? Frankly, I can’t remember how to play old maid. They should have brought zero-point there as well! =P

 

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Half way through all the gossiping interacting, Yebbers decide to call everyone together for a round table speech session (and showed various video clips of the Yebber Ambassadors) and a round of bingo. At first… I was thinking "fwah! so high tech ah? got program leh!"… then… I saw…

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Today’s the Yebber 1st Anniversary Party which was held at Mint Museum at 26 Seah Street, located just across the road from Raffles Hotel. There are 5 storeys and a roof top at the Mint Museum, which hosts a collection of old toys and games from way back. At the basement is the restaurant while the 2nd floor hosts the collectibles.

When I arrived at the party, the Yebber team were still preparing their stuffs and there was nothing I could do except to take photos! Haha… enjoy the photos! There will be more later =)

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If you couldn’t find the place, you couldn’t possibly miss the Yebber sign! Thanks Yebber for making my life much more easier! =)

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The Yebber Ambassadors @ Work to prepapre for the arrival of guests

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And in the background is a projector rotating the photos from past Yebber outings. Did you see yourself there?

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The Yebber counter and the program sheet for the evening. Did you drop your name card for the lucky draw? I hope you won something ;)

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I didn’t know that the mint museum is an official place! Apparently it’s officially opened by Mr George Yeo, the then Foreign Affairs Minister

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If you look down once you are inside, you’d see the restaurant; else you can just make your way to the lift inside. So cool right? =)

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And while you are inside, do observe the no outside food, no pets, no smoking and no photography rules. Oops! NO PHOTOGRAPHY?! Yikes! No wonder they had been staring at me!

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There’s even a mint shop that you can get some souvenirs from! Too bad, by the time I was back to the counter, it was closed. =( There was also a shelve of stuffs (I didn’t catch what it was) but again, by the time I returned, the shelf was cleared. =( Sigh.

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Feeling lost at where to go? No worries! There’s even a directory with HUGE FONTS! For the Yebber’s Party, we are heading to the 3rd floor! Yeah! Childhood favourites!

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At the 3rd floor, you’d be welcomed by exhibits of soft toys and games from the early 1900s. Wow! It was really relic! I won’t have known any of these existed! It was on display at the door as well as the back of the room, where our food was. Argh… the food made my stomach growl…

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Took a nice photo at the party? Don’t worry, there’s a Canon Selphy which was brought by the team for you to print out that Kodak or Canon moment. So  thoughtful right? Too bad it doesn’t take in MS Duo Pro. If you have a Sony camera, you are "in luck". =P

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At the back of the room is where the speeches and prizes are going to be. Hey, what are the guys looking at?!

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Hailstones! Lots of it! In Singapore! I knew that there will be hailstones in Singapore this year given the extremely cold weather in March this year and that the weather everywhere had been going haywired recently. Indeed, hailstones have been spotted in central Singapore, in areas such as Bishan, Braddell and Toa Payoh. The hailstones were like those lime-flavoured ice-pellets that some ice-cream company used to sell, except that it’s plain ice and melts when you picked them up.

It’s one of the rare times that it "snows" in Singapore. Now, only if it is finer (so that it’s like snow) and lasts longer.

PARTS of Singapore were pelted with hailstones during Thursday’s afternoon’s heavy downpour.

The weatherman confirmed that these pellets of ice were reported in central Singapore between 3.15pm and 3.45pm.

Roughly three-quarters the size of a Singapore five-cent coin, they caused a stir among those living or working in Bishan and Toa Payoh.

Hailstones, formed in thunderstorm clouds, usually melt before they hit the ground, but strong downward gusts of wind occasionally send them ground-wards before they melt.

A managing director who wanted to be known only as Mr Goh was in his office in a flatted factory building along Braddell Road said that when the hail started falling, he thought it was just raining heavily.

‘But the sound of the rain was different – it sounded more like solid things were falling,’ he said.

On going out to the corridor in front of his office, he and his staff saw tiny bead-like objects bouncing about on the floor as the rain poured down.

They became excited when they realised the beads were solid pieces of ice which melted as soon as they were picked up.

Mr Goh, who said it was the first time he had seen this weather phenomenon, added that at first, there was ‘quite a lot of ice’, but as the minutes went by, they petered out and only rain fell.

He reckoned the hailstones fell for about 10 minutes.

Another witness, IT consultant Stuyvesant Lim, 35, was observing a quiet game of chess at a Residents Committee Centre in Bishan East when he heard a commotion outside.

He said: ‘I thought it was kids throwing ice from the block. Then we all realised it was falling from the sky.’

He realised one other thing – that had the hailstones been bigger, the windscreens of cars could have been damaged.

Mrs Evelyn Chan, 53, who runs a machine tools business with her husband but was home on Thursday, said the strangely ‘hazy’ atmosphere made her step out of her kitchen into the backyard of her house in Carmichael Road, off Braddell Road.

She said: ‘When I looked at the ground, I saw crystals. I thought it was snow! But when I picked up a piece, I realised it was ice.’

The last time hail fell here was in July last year.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th March 2008

For everyone who’s been reading my blog, they’d know that I almost never delete any comments unless they are spam and even when people advertise their blogs in the comments form, I usually keep one eye close unless it’s very outright. However some proclaimed "anti-terrorist" took a step too far that I just couldn’t stand it any more.

I deleted his comments.

Now you see it:

image

Now you don’t!

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Good riddance. It was so damn irritating. I was already tolerant by letting his first comment stay, but I guess some people don’t know their limits, especially when commenting on others’ blogs. Deleting comments never felt this good. =) I wonder why is it that some people never grow up.

Are you thinking of bringing in that DVD from that… ahem, shop across the causeway? Are you thinking of bringing in just a packet of cigarettes that’s almost 1/2 the price in Singapore? Are you eyeing on that packet of weed that you had been dying to try and perhaps grow in your backyard? Well… you’d better think twice.

No, make it many times.

With Mas Selamat escaping from the detention center (or lying dead, whichever camp you belong to), security (has been given an excuse) to step up and strict, mandatory checks are carried out anywhere, everywhere.

If only Wireless@SG is even half as pervasive.

When the stricter checks were first implemented at the causeway, illegal immigrants were caught and – not deported back to Malaysia, but sent to the prisons in Singapore for caning before they are sent back after serving a prison term (during which, no toilet breaks will be allow, I reiterate).

And when this search and destroy and arrest was carried out in empty buildings, more illegal immigrants were caught and sent to The Gallows Cane. Indeed, Mas probably made more enemies after his escape than when he was still in detention.

Now, the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) has seized over 2000 cartons of contraband cigarettes hidden in Malaysian vehicles; and the fine to be levied – up to 20 times the amount evaded.

So, before you smuggle that DVD from across the causeway, do think twice. They could jolly well pull an Adelaide on you.

MORE than 2,000 cartons and 619 packets of contraband cigarettes were seized at Woodlands Checkpoint on Tuesday.

This is the largest haul of contraband cigarettes seized this year by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers.

The duty unpaid cigarettes were smuggled on a lorry driven by a Malaysian man and woman, who claimed to be transporting dustbin bags and calcium carbonate – a basic material for limestone and marble.

But further checks by immigration officers led to the discovery of the contraband goods hidden beneath the dustbin bags and calcium carbonate.

The potential Customs duty and GST value on the cigarettes amounted to over $160,000.

In a separate case on Tuesday, ICA officers uncovered 366 cartons of contraband cigarettes hidden in a Malaysian registered car at Woodlands Checkpoint.

The cigarettes were stuffed into the rear left panel of the boot, bonnet, seats, door panels and side skirting of the car, which was driven by a Malaysian couple.

The Customs duty and GST on the goods amounted to over $30,000.

The 21 year-old driver claimed to have been offered RM20 (S$8.60) to help smuggle the cigarettes into Singapore.

Both cases have been referred to Singapore Customs for further investigations.

If found guilty, first time offenders can be fined up to a maximum of 20 times the amount of duty evaded.

For second or subsequent convictions, offenders can be jailed for up to two years, as well as being fined. The offenders also face further fines based on the amount of GST evaded.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 26th March 2008

Update: The Singapore Currency Act states that any person who prints or stamps or writes any mark, word, letter or figure on banknotes is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $2,000 – so all of you who write telephone numbers on your money – especially the uncles and aunties, be prepared to lose more than the face value of your money. =P

Yes, apparently, not all $50 are equal. Some are worth more than its face value (the ones with special numbers, or well preserved old notes), some are worth what they are while others… are not worth a single cent at all. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has clarified that some of the notes which have the letterings "KF" imprinted on them are worthless. Yes, they are not worth a single cent and if you have any of these notes, you are pretty much screwed.

Ironically, some of these notes were withdrawn from an OCBC machine. The owner of these notes have since stomp’ed the picture of the notes. An article was also published in the Straits Times, with a clarification from MAS that these notes are multilated on purpose and are considered worthless. In the meantime, MAS has agreed to take these notes back as an act of grace and anyone with such notes may return them to the banks.

Worthless-$50

So, do check your money properly and reject any notes that are defaced. As a consumer, you have the rights to do so – even if it means receiving a bag of $1 coins because the cashier ran out of other notes. =)

WHEN Mr G.S. Lee withdrew some money from an OCBC Bank ATM at Compass Point earlier this month, three of his $50 notes seemed a bit strange – the letters ‘KF’ were on the top right hand corner.

The bank told him then that there was ‘no problem with the notes’, he said, but the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has since clarified that such notes have been mutilated on purpose and are therefore worthless.

The letters looked ‘legally imprinted’, said Mr Lee in an e-mail to The Straits Times online portal, Stomp, asking what the letters might mean. But ‘KF’ is not part of the $50 note’s design, said MAS’ spokesman, adding it did not know what ‘KF’ stood for.

‘Notes with such markings are considered to be deliberate mutilation and they command no value,’ she added.

Anyone who has notes with the markings can take them to the banks to be exchanged, she said, and MAS will take the notes back as an ‘act of grace’.

When contacted, OCBC’s head of group corporate communications Koh Ching Ching said currency could have become defaced while being circulated.

She said the bank’s ATMs will be checked so any other mutilated notes can be retrieved.

She added that OCBC’s tellers are ‘trained to look out for defaced or mutilated notes and handle them as per guidelines provided by MAS’, and that it has reminded its staff to be vigilant.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 26th March 2008; picture courtesy of Stomp

Mas Selamat has wrecked havoc after his escape from the detention center. It was a non-tested method but it worked and caught the national security off-guard totally. They were probably expecting him to bomb a building, hold an important person hostage (having said that, there’s a chance that the important person might be left to die – remember, nation above self), bomb more buildings, set the Istana (for our foreign readers, the Istana is where the President of Singapore reside – and unlike most countries, he doesn’t hold much power in reality except to pardon a prison’s life) on fire and the likes; but no, he did something worse.

He disrupted the lives of 4 million people. Well, not everyone is affected, but just look at the inconvenience he has caused – jamming up our causeway, making the immigration process horrible, wasting manpower on his escape and all. Speaking of which, this reminded me of the plot in the movie Vantage Point (spoilers alert!) where this suicide bomber bombed the lobby of the hotel were the U.S. President was staying so as to draw attention and manpower to ground zero so that the assassin has a chance to kidnap the president. I am just wondering if Mas Selamat’s escape is part of a bigger plan to terrorize Singapore.

At first, everyone was surprised that this even happened (is it a prelude to an April Fool’s Day joke?), but most were confident that at the end of the day, he would be caught in Malcom Park and everything will be back to normal. Then 24 hours came, 48 and 72. Still no sign of him. Security at exit points were increased, fingerprints now have to be taken of almost every single person that leaves Singapore – and we were so glad that we don’t travel to U.S. that often (U.S. immigration takes all finger prints of all visitors). The Home Team deployed men all over Singapore , particularly empty buildings and forested areas – yet, Mas Selamat remained elusive.

While it seemed that the Ministry is not giving Mas Selamat a chance, it’s only a matter of time before fatigue takes over. I mean – if Mas Selamat is in hiding, or dead, for 1 year, it’s either we have to "rely on accurate sources" to determine if he’s really dead or not in Singapore, or our guys will just literally die from fatigue. See? The terrorist kills a few good man without having to bomb himself up.

Amidst all these, some people in Singapore – and I am pretty sure that it’s just a handful, say 100 out of 4 million people, who are asking for someone to be responsible – with Mr Wong Kan Seng being the most popular choice. However, as most of the other 3,999,900 people can see, it’s really an honest mistake and therefore, no one has to be sacked. Some people also questioned about the choice of people who are seconded into the Board of Inquiry. Out of 3, at least 2 were somehow linked to the Police Force or the Home Ministry. These complaints were dismissed as noise.

It’s been almost a month since Mas Selamat has escaped – probably the same amount of time that detainees are devoid of toilet breaks. It’s strange that there are still no findings as to how Mas Selamat could have possibly escaped – not even the crawl-down-the-toilet-bowl conspiracy theory. Some even factored his escape through the use of black magic, or something more probable – digging really deep into the ground and coming up from the other side. It’s really a wonder how he managed to get out of a place that’s supposed to be tightly secured.

In the mean time, monetary awards are being put up by private organizations for any information leading to the arrest of the escapee. The Home Ministry, however, declined to do likewise because it does not believe in monetary rewards not to the tune of $30 or $3mil. Of course, being Singaporeans, no one will expect anything of this sort from the government. This is after what we expect. Thankfully, other Singaporeans are more innovative – with a duo promising INSTANT ORD (Operationally Readiness Date? a term used to describe the date that army conscripts are released from their 2 year national service) to any NSF (National Service Force? – a term used to describe army conscripts) who can lead to the arrest of the escapee. How they are going to convince the Defence Ministry to do so is anyone’s guess.

So… where’s the terror? Well, without doing anything substantial, Mas Selamat has created havoc in our once peaceful and serene city. Not only are the people inconvenienced – particularly at the causeway, but the armed forces are dragged into it as well, instead of preparing for war that can happen anytime.  Look at the causeway – 4 hours just to get across! Thankfully that doesn’t happen at the airports, so at least air travel is still a viable option (as I am typing, I hear truck loads of army personnel being deployed at Terminals 1,2 and 3 and the Budget Terminal; especially the Budget Terminal – where all the passengers are left to their own device).

However, there is some silver lining though. Now that crossing over the causeway is such a hassle, Singapore gets to keep all the expenditure to herself – i.e. money will no longer be spent buying cheaper essentials like oil, rice and sugar across the causeway and food connoisseurs will be subjected to the sometimes ridiculously priced India crabs at seafood restaurants. No cheaper petrol for the car owner who forgot to factor in fuel costs as a burden for his newly-bought-50-cents-per-step-on-the-accelerator BMW too – and with security this tight, it’s unlikely he can pass through immigration without getting his boot, bonnet and fuel gauge checked. Hack, they might even X-ray his car! Wait… isn’t this silver lining only for the government and none for the people? Darn…

In the meantime, all you complain-kings and complain-queens will just have to bear with whatever inconveniences that the government might decide to impose, even if you feel deeply that Mas Selamat could well be killed and buried in the detention center. After all, it’s all in the name of security. Failure to comply could jolly well land you in the detention center to keep the up-and-coming JI leader company; but if you are suffering from incontinence, you’d better consider twice about non-compliance because there will be no toilet breaks for you. Indeed, Dr Chee would be one of the last person that you’d want to model after. =)

Simply Jean had been running for about a year and 3 months. A blog that was initially started so that friends would be able to blog anonymously under a single moniker grew to be a blog commenting on almost everything, particularly Singapore social issues. Some have thought Simply Jean to be a political blog, but that’s… a little far from the truth. The fact is, Simply Jean is as political as the man on the street – which is quite apolitical if you ask me. Besides the usual ramblings, Simply Jean serves no more than just the daily news and discourse. Amongst the most popular topics are ERP hikes, petrol hikes, taxi fare hikes, Mas Selamat, the Li Hongyi episode and the Pedra Branca fiasco.

However, here’s where the problem lies. These daily news and discourse are usually available here, here and here; or if you have a deeper pocket, here too and we are thinking if Simply Jean is still serving any purpose at this moment. While it is common for other personal blogs to post pictures of their authors, it’s a little different here. Simply Jean wasn’t meant to be a personal blog.

In terms of "political comments", Simply Jean is lacking in many areas. In terms of the daily discourse, it’s almost what everyone else on the streets is saying. In a nutshell, Simply Jean is beginning to be of little substance. As one reader puts it:

Author: unknown

Comment: your blog is getting more and more boring…. zzz

Thus with a heavy heart, Simply Jean will breathe her last breath on 15th April 2008, yes, that’s the day when the last post will be published and Simply Jean will be history thereafter. To make it easier to remember, it’s also the last day that you guys should be filing your income tax. =)

So hurry now and unsubscribe Simply Jean from your RSS feed reader. The last thing you want is a dead feed.