Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Report card: Chicane Live

To be honest, its quite a relief having finally caught Chicane Live. Having first heard him just before I went off to study in Oz, the Behind the Sun album has been one of my favorites ever since.

The Chivas event was jam packed with people and the queue opposite Clarke Quay stretched on for a couple of hundred meters.

However, it was definitely worth the wait. The show kicked off around midnight with a track from their new album - Bruised Water. Many familiar tracks were played - Offshore, Saltwater and Don't give it up.

But the best moment for me had to be when they did Halcyon live, using a mesh of track samplings, decks and am actual band playing the guitar and drums. Man, I've heard so this many times but never played this way before. It was awesome!

I didn't get any vids or pics at the event but here's a clip of how it was done:

My only gripe was that it was over too quickly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cool Kicks

I love basketball shoes and on Saturday, I dropped by Queensway Shopping mall and got myself a nice pair of Adidas Team Signature Lightswitch Gils. Part of a series of 20 designs, the Lightswitch Gils are fronted by Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas otherwise known as Agent Zero or Hibachi. I love that these shoes are low cut and in white/black.

They're supposed to be customizable and you can use the included dry erase marker to add cool graffiti on the shoe. Only mine didn't come with the damn marker. So much for buying shoes from Queensway. But I did get a 25% discount from the retail price.

Check out all the designs here

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Avenue Q

Avenue Q is coming to town. Currently one of the hottest shows in the West End and on Broadway, Avenue Q is a fabulously furry and fun-filled romp featuring an ensemble of actors and some very adult-minded puppets.

It’s essentially ‘Sesame Street’ with a very grown up twist!

Tickets available at Sistic

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Online Trading for dummies

The best online trading platform in Singapore as far as I'm concerned is DBS Vickers Online. The commission charges for online trades are reasonable (I am using U.S and Singapore market as a benchmark here) and Vickers has also got some pretty extensive market data, online tools, data and research all neatly packed into its high intuitive and user friendly trading platform.

Best of all, there are no custodian charges for U.S market stockholdings - which is something all the rest of the brokerage houses and banks charge.

Nuff said. Find out more or visit their branch at Level 2, PWC building at Cross Street to open an online trading account.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's your point of view

I love golf and I love funny advertising. So when I first saw this a while ago, it made me crack up and I regularly revisit it just for laughs. From a marketer's perspective, this is truly a great branding campaign. HSBC's global advertising campaign was positioned along the lines of how different people had different points of view, and whatever it is, HSBC understands it and will work with you to meet your financial goals.

This ad is about how different people have different golf swings. And some of them are really just too funny.

View it on youtube here

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

ETFs are really the way to go if you want to invest in an extremely flexible, transparent and cost efficient manner. They trade like shares on the stock market but are more diversified in nature like unit trusts.

Most fund managers that managed unit trust funds rarely manage to outperform the benchmark index. So in that case, why not just purchase the same components in that index. Hence the slow raging popularity of ETFs.

The enjoy high liquidity just like stocks, with low cost (low management fees and no sales charge - only brokerage commission). And there is typically an ETF for every index available in the market.

Some prime examples include the SPDRS Trust Series 1 (Ticker: SPDR) that trades in the U.S market. This ETF tracks the S&P 500 and holds the same component stocks in their respective quantums. Closer to home, there's the STI ETF (Ticker: ES3.SI) that tracks the STI Index.

Investing in ETFs is as simple as purchasing a stock and you can do it quickly and rather cheaply via online trading.

Click for more details on ETFs listed on SGX.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mobile Mail

Fancy checking your email on the go? Singtel offers MobileM@il, a basic push-email service that enables users to send and receive emails on their mobile phones. Enjoy almost instantaneous email access while on the move and you can link multiple accounts - Singnet, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail etc.

This service used to be free (supported by advertising) but recently Singtel (as sneaky as they are) have started charging S$1.99 for monthly subscription plus the assorted data charges. Now, I'm considering if I should still keep this service.

Find out more here

Google Lanyard

I got this super cool lanyard when I attended an insightful banking and finance briefing by Google last week. The topic was on search marketing strategies and a whole bunch of banks, insurance companies and media agencies turned up.

They flashed the first slide of the powerpoint and the speaker went..."No worries, the slides for today's briefing are available in the thumb drive attached to your lanyard". How cool is that!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free movie tickets every month

HSBC calls it an all in one banking programme to met your every financial need. I just like the card because on every first thursday of the month, I can sms in and get a free pair of Golden Village movie tickets for that month. Super or what?

Sign up here

Chicane's coming to town!

One of my favourite acts, Chicane is coming to Singapore courtesy of Chivas Live on 26 Sep at the now defunct River Valley Swimming Pool (opposite Clarke Quay).

I missed his gig in 2000 when I was studying in Australia due to exams and I must say I am very much looking forward to this. His music is a blend of progressive trance/ambient and tunes like Halcyon, No ordinary morning and Offshore are some of my favorite tracks.

Tickets available at www.chivaslive.com.sg.

Create your own Wordle

Wordle takes casual doodling onto a whole new level.

Paste a bunch of words into a textbox and Wordle instantly creates a "Word Cloud" layout for you. You can modify the layouts, fonts and colour schemes and if you have a web page or blog with an RSS feed, it can even create the word cloud directly from the page or blog (The example above is taken via a feed to this very blog).

Check it out here

Achmed the Dead Terrorist

Another one of my favorite comedians Jeff Dunham, is an American ventriloquist and stand-up comedian who uses puppets in his acts.

His usual puppets include a woozle named Peanut; a bitter old man named Walter; José Jalapeño, a talking jalapeño pepper on a stick; Achmed the Dead Terrorist; and an unusual superhero named Melvin. Check out the sample clip below:

Russell Peters Live!

Everyone's favorite comedian is coming to town! Russell Peters will perform live for 2 days on Nov 3 & 4 at the Rock auditorium at Suntec City.

Tickets available for booking online at Sistic.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Getting term insurance

As I've mentioned before, term insurance is possibly the cheapest way to get maximum protection without hefty premiums. Its more efficient as the premiums you pay go directly into getting maximum coverage unlike other investment linked or endownment plans.

The downside however, is the limited period or fixed term of the plan. However, most people get term insurance as a complimentary plan, alongside other whole-life insurance plans. They do well to give additional coverage during the most critical points in your life (young children still studying, aging parents etc).

For me as the quintessential Singapore male, the best term insurance has to be the SAF Group Insurance scheme underwritten by Aviva. For a mere S$81.20 a month or S$974.40 a year, I get S$400,000 coverage for term life and Total Permanent Disability and S$300,000 for Critical Illnesses.

To me, this is the ultimate form of peace of mind - Knowing that your dependents and loved ones will be well-taken care of should anything *touch wood* happen to you. Which is what insurance should be all about.

*A caveat though - Only Singaporean males who have served national service qualify for this. So, apologies to the ladies. But my take on term insurance applies nonetheless.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Petrol Saver

I carry 2 cards in my wallet most of the time. Actually, when I go to work, I carry a card case and a money clip so that there are no unsightly bulges in my pants. Don't want people to get the wrong idea. Oh and I digress...

The UOB One card is essentially used for all purchases, with the mindset of consolidating all my payments to qualify for the quarterly cash rebate. However, for petrol, the best card has got to be the DBS Esso Mastercard.

Along with the current station discount, this card will give you 10% on all fuel purchases at Esso and Mobil. Simply brilliant and if you think about it further, its an additional $15 savings (on top of station discount) for every $300 fuel purchase (my monthly average), a much better usage/reward yield than the UOB One card.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The One card

There are many credit cards available in Singapore and banks are offering a multitude of perks and offers to get people to sign up for yet another one.

The card that offers the best usage/reward yield has to be the UOB One Card. True to its name, the card encourages you to consolidate all your payments to it. The reward is simply a cash rebate credited back every 3 months to offset your credit card bill.

All you need to do is spend at least $300 a month on the card for 3 consecutive months and you will get a $30 cash rebate for that quarter. Spend $800 a month and you get $80 for that quarter.

A yield of 3.33% with no points or redemptions necessary. Its as simple as that!

Ever since its launch last year, I've swapped my previous main card of choice, the HSBC Platinum card (I believe in just using one or 2 cards regularly and consolidating my spend to get better rewards from the card issuers).

From a rewards perspective, the HSBC Platinum card then gave me the best yield ($20 Isetan voucher for just S$3,000 spent). I still keep the card as it offers free golf insurance.