I tend to travel with a fixed amount of cash whenever I am out of Singapore, and use, where possible, a debit or credit card for my payments. I used to think that the banks do not offer really good exchange rates, but with the uncertain economy and foreign exchange nowadays, this seems to be quite negligible. In fact, there were also a couple of times when the exchange rates given by the banks are a whole lot better than what I would have gotten from a money changer.

Of course, there are times when I have to withdraw from my bank accounts in Singapore, and that’s when the great hunt for the Cirrus and Plus signs come. Even then, with some luck, the Auto Teller Machine (ATM) will display the remaining balance in my account after i make a withdraw. Most of the time, I don’t have such luck.

This is probably one of the reason why I carry a small netbook with me whenever I am overseas; and of course, not forgetting to purchase the country’s prepaid card (having said that, if you are travelling to Taipei, please remember to get your prepaid card from the airport because you will not be able to get it anywhere out of the airport without a local ID).

Having said that, I learnt about Citi Alerts over the radio because Citibank had been running their ad campaign prominently. I thought this was rather cool because an SMS is sent to me every time I make a transaction on my cards. For those of us who enjoy pubbing (“cheonging”) on Friday and Saturday nights, this is a great plus because there could be times when we don’t really know what our cards get swiped for. A friend of mine got his card swiped a few times a visit and he didn’t know about it even when the bill came. It was only when the staff was caught that he knew about it.

Tsk. Tsk.

However, when Citi Alerts came out, I was hoping for something better – such as having mobile banking facilities. After all, I had opened a new account with Citibank, which does not charge for sending you a replacement ATM card, nor levy a charge/fine for not maintaining a certain minimum balance in your account. Indeed, I think they have came a long way.

CitiMobile by CitiBank

CitiMobile by CitiBank

It was almost like a prophecy fulfilled, but Citibank recently launched their Citi Mobile – a service which allows me to carry functions as if I was logged into my Citibank Online Banking! It allows me to:

  1. Check my account balance (a big must if you like to keep tabs on your spending)
  2. Search for discounts (particular when some shops like to hide their Citi Privileges)
  3. Funds transfer (to allow me to pay back dinner money; or for me to pay for bills)
  4. Locate the nearest ATM and branches (to withdraw money for shops that do not accept credit or debit cards)

But best of all, Citi Mobile does not require me to sign up again if I have already signed up for Citibank’s Online Banking facilities; nor does it require me to download cumbersome applets or applications! This is a great plus for me because I keep losing track of my PINs whenever they are sent to me. With this auto-inclusion, I can just log into Citi Mobile (I’d like to personalise this and call this MyCiti… haha…) and have all the online functions as if I was logged into my netbook.

In fact, I found out about Citi Mobile by accident because I was trying to locate the nearest ATM; but the website that was loaded on my mobile phone kept asking me to log in. It was only after logging in that I realised that I had full-fledge facilities via my mobile phone, right at the tip of my fingers, indeed!

The CitiMobile Widget on the iPhone

The CitiMobile Widget on the iPhone

Now, I can really just leave my netbook in the hotel when I am overseas. The only thing I am hoping for is to get my hands on an iPhone because I think Citi Mobile looks really cool on the iPhone 3G[S].

Hmmph!

Editor: You know how we always talk about fine prints? Well, here, we rather talk about bold prints! Look out for the bold prints below to stand a chance to win for yourself $200 cash + vouchers! :)

I have had a long history of changing phones every other year – not because I am a phone fashionista, but really some times the phone that i have seem to fail just a day after their warranty. Of course, I have to admit that it’s not always through – and that’s because I secretly want to have the coolest gadget in town (but a broken phone is nonetheless a better excuse) :P

INQ Mobile Phone series

INQ Mobile Phone series

It was brought to my attention that a new phone may soon be visiting the shores of Singapore. Apparently, a phone that’s been released by INQ Mobile is going to be the new kid on the block – if it does land here. Unlike other phones that comes with the standard applications (including those that we do not normally use), this series of phones are marketed as – if I may call it, a 2.0 phone.

You see, it comes packed with applications that can connect you to the different social networking sites – Facebook, MSN (now Windows Live Messenger) and Skype and collates everything into a nice interface from which you can access your accounts from. At the same time, it also allows emails to be pushed to you while you are on the go. I have not used a Blackberry before, but that sounds pretty close to one.

Now, some might wonder what’s so great about that, and probably think that these applications are readily available on the Internet for download. Well, the truth is, I am still running Fringo for Skype on my mobile and it just doesn’t quite feel like the real thing. I have not used the INQ Mobile phone series, but the interface does look yummy! :)

Of course, that’s not all. The series of INQ Mobile phones do come with all the bells and whistles – GPS, a 3.2MP camera and of course expanded memory. The built-in 3G/HSDPA modem will also allow the user to surf the Net not only on the phone, but on his laptop as well. While not specifics have been give, I am thinking that it’s probably going to be a modem connection over Bluetooth; although I am not discounting the possibility of a modem connection over USB. However, what seriously shocked me was the standby time.

A whooping 329 hours standby time, and 324 minutes talk time.

This is almost equivalent to 16 days of standby and over 5 hours of talktime! Now, that’s something I know that my current phone can’t beat. I really can’t wait to get my hands on one to see what it’s really made of.

Bold prints!!!

So, here’s what I am going to do. I am going to get INQ Mobile to know that we know what they had been doing behind our backs and we want them to bring the phone in to Singapore (at a really low price, I hope). So, if you could also join me to tell them what you like about their phones, I’d also give you a chance to win *$100 CASH and $100 shopping vouchers*.

It’s really simple. All you have to do is to leave comments after this post on what you like about the phones. From here, I will get them to take note that there’s really a demand for them to bring their phones in. Well, at least enough to go around :P And to make sure that you really get a really good chance of getting heard (and winning that $200 cash and vouchers), you may want to twitter/plurk/facebook/MSN the following phrase:

I have discovered a new phone on @simplyjean! Go check it out and you may win $200 cash + voucher! Details at http://pea.to/inqsj #inqmobile

Well, having a phrase like this makes it easier for me to track that it’s from you (else any other phrase may not be easily searched); and don’t forget to include your Twitter ID, Plurk ID and Facebook URL so that I will also be able to keep an update of where you helped to spread the message.

Also, please leave a valid email address so that I can contact you when you win the $200 cash + vouchers. And no worries, no one else will know about it. This reminds me of a contest that I ran some years back. The winner didn’t leave his email address in the comment box and I had a hard time trying to look for him. It’s a pity that I couldn’t contact him in the end.

And because time is really tight and I don’t want to leave you hanging for too long, I will close this contest at 11:59pm on the 14th September; which means you will know if you are a winner by the 15th! That’s cool, isn’t it?

Speaking of which, I might just have another surprise for you… Heh heh…

So hurry, there’s only 1 week left! Go forth and spread the phrase! :)

And oh, here’s the fine, fine print… this contest is only open to Singapore Citizens and PR. No discrimination here, but it makes it all easier for the prizes to be awarded :)

It’s a boy!

Personal September 5th, 2009

“It’s a boy!” That was the simple answer that the lady in the room was looking for.

The group of us were shown a picture of a boy who was wrapped up in a towel and presumably had a wet towel on his forehead. He was lying on a bed and was holding on to a small, white bucket. The group was asked to make some observations on the picture. It was a sample of the Problem-Based Learning question that is asked at the Sydney Medical School.

The group was rather quiet, so I started by making some remarks on the blanket and the towel, and how “he” was probably feeling cold and possibly having a fever. Another guy from the group said that he could have been “regurgitating” – a rather bombastic word for “vomiting”. However, the lady seemed to be looking for more answers; so I gave the obvious.

“It’s a child”

“Yes!” She exclaimed. “It’s a boy!”, and she continued to narrate what the scenario could have been. This simple answer that she was looking for reminds me of how people, in general – including myself, perhaps, tend to look at things beyond too deeply. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I was just thinking that sometimes we (or just I) get to caught up in “critical thinking” that we might just overlook the most obvious.

And if you have watched enough “House”, “E.R.” or “Gray’s Anatomy”, you’d probably know that that the paramedics begin by describing the patient to the tune of “6-year-old boy/male, found [somewhere] in [what state]” – and it’s important for the doctors to know how to treat the patient and what course of actions to make.

Back to the situation above, I probably think that no one wants to say something that they think may sound stupid. However, like I always tell my students, there’s no such things as a “stupid question”. So really, if you think that your question/statement/answer may sound stupid but if it helps you, you should just say it.

Another person may just benefit from it :-)