PhoStreet @Paradigm Mall

I finally managed to dine here after planning to do so a few times. I recently went there with Ban and his brother. Previously, I looked through their menu and determined that the prices were reasonable.

PhoStreet 1

PhoStreet 2

I chose their Pho Beef Combination (RM18.90) as a test case of their food.

PhoStreet 3

When it arrived, I had expected to be able to smell the beef soup but I couldn't and so I was a little apprehensive. Fortunately, the soup was quite delicious and more fragrant than the usual.

PhoStreet 4

Another feature that set it apart was that beansprout and mint leaves were already inserted into the soup (rather than on a separate plate). Both looked fresh.

The noodle itself was quite normal. Beef ball was tasty but seems small. There was, however, a clump of rather tough beef: quite a glaring aberration.

Overall, its soup is better than that of Vietnamese Kitchen but portion seems smaller.

Since it wasn't too bad, I would try again to ascertain its consistency. Incidentally, sadly Du Viet has closed down :(

Passport & IC

In the process of applying for a job in Singapore, Ban discovered that his passport had expired nearly 6 months ago @@. We were worried because it was a hassle then to renew passport due to limited number of passports issued at each immigration office. If I'm not mistaken, this whole debacle came about because the passport vendor printed passports that didn't meet the new features. So that resulted in severe shortage of passports.

After enquiring with friends and family, Ban decided to start queuing at the Kelana Jaya office by 6am @@. The poor guy didn't sleep well the night before and ended sleeping only about 4 hours :( There was already a queue when he reached there. As these queue slots were so precious, an attempt by a man to jump queue was quickly rebuffed and reprimanded. Yay!

Once office opened, Ban managed to get queue number 41. Despite lack of sleep, he was alert enough to ask the officer at the queue counter whether it would be a problem if the chip on his IC couldn't be read (had that problem before). He was advised to get a new IC before renewing passport. Unfortunately the NRD is not at the same building.

The plan was to get new IC and rush back to the immigration office to renew his passport using the queue number he obtained earlier. By the time he set off to the nearest NRD office, it was already office rush hour and so there was bad traffic jam :( Not only that: due to the change of traffic flow on certain roads (one-way street), it took even longer to get there.

Once there, there was a sign that system was "offline". Oh gosh. He was given a queue number anyway. Fortunately, it was "online" soon after. Phew!

After doing what he could, he was told to come back in 2 hours to collect it. So he went home, rested and then had lunch with me and his brother. After lunch, I drove him to collect IC and then off we went to try our luck with the immigration office at Kelana Jaya. I dropped him there and went looking for parking space.

Meanwhile, in the office, he was questioned about the longer-than-expected time he took to get a new IC. He just pointed out to the 2 hours wait and thankfully they just proceeded with his passport renewal. More than an hour later, he collected his passport. Yay!

Atlas Reactor: Aurora

When I first started playing Atlas Reactor, it was still free-to-play but restricted to a handful of freelancers on a rotational basis. I gravitated to the only support character available during that particular rotation: Aurora.

Soon I found her quite difficult to play, despite the supposedly "easy" difficulty classification. Later I found out that except for Quark, all supports do not have any Dash ability. Hence, playing support was difficult without that obvious escape mechanism.

Perhaps because of this or not, Quark became my choice for support. But much later, for reasons that I forgot, I tried Aurora again and prioritised trying to survive should she be cornered or chased by enemies. Hmmm I vaguely remember one particular game where I was amazed by how good an Aurora player survived onslaught by enemies. Perhaps that was an impetus to revisit this character.

Aurora Shock Therapy

Her main ability (with no cooldown) is Shock Therapy (Blast), which damages enemies and heals allies in a fairly straight line. The default mod is Vain which heals herself for 5. I use this mod since it is a consistent way of healing herself slowly.

Aurora Ion Cloud

Ion Cloud (Blast) deals direct damage to enemies in a 2x2 square on cast and indirect damage to enemies who pass through it or starting their turn there. It lasts for 2 turns.

The default mod, Overcast, reduces its cooldown by 1. I tried and actually favour Invigorating Cloud which also heals allies in the cloud but due to choice of mod for her ultimate ability, I choose Radiant Mist which reveals enemies for 2 turns. This is useful against enemies who hide in the brush or have abilities to be invisible.

Aurora Healing Flare

Healing Flare (Prep) heals allies or herself and then knockback enemies next to target in Blast Phase. I stick with the default mod, Seeking Flare, which enables this ability be cast through walls i.e. don't need line of sight. This is very useful to quickly help allies in need and yet she herself is safely behind walls.

Another popular mod is Surging Flare which provides significant additional health if cast on allies with less than 50% health. Sounds great but I would think that the default mod is more consistently useful i.e. target could be behind wall and/or health is hover above 50% (could be killed by focused fire).

Aurora Paralazer

Paralazer (Prep) weakens enemies and shield allies. Useful debuff and buff combo. Since I also use this as one of the means of surviving attacks (the other major one is of course Healing Flare), I stick with the mod, Gravity Well, which also slows enemies.

Aurora Heart of the Storm

Her ultimate ability, Heart of the Storm, shoots out quite broad cross-shaped beams that damages enemies and heals allies. The default mod, Focused Radiance, increase the damage/heal if the beam only hits one target. Instead, I use the mod, Sudden Jolt, which reduces all active cooldowns by 1.

So in conjunction with the catalyst, Brain Juice (reduces all active cooldowns by 2), I increase the frequency of which I can cast the 2 Prep abilities above that are lifesavers.

I have come to enjoy playing Aurora and I believed that I'm quite competent too. Maybe as competent as I am at playing Quark, despite both being wildly different.

Below are the stats of a game my Aurora had the highest contribution:

Atlas Reactor Aurora 1

Atlas Reactor Aurora 2

Potential move

Back in June, I tried to renew my REP online (expiring in Sep this year) but predictably it wasn't successful. "Are you currently living in Singapore?" No. "Are you currently working in Singapore?" No. (N.B: questions aren't verbatim).

However, recently I re-read the e-mail response and noted that I will lose my Singapore PR if I remain outside Singapore without a valid REP. In other words, I get to keep my PR if I stay in Singapore, right?

I then e-mailed ICA on a Friday night asking this question and stating that I plan to move back to Singapore in a few weeks time. In addition, I would establish (have to do this anyway) a sole proprietorship business to provide freelance actuarial work for qualified actuaries in Singapore. On Saturday morning, I then re-applied online to renew my REP but this time adding some information explaining why I was not working in Singapore and that I plan to move back to Singapore after my dad's surgery in September.

To my amazement, ICA replied on that Saturday afternoon itself in 2 e-mails: one was a direct reply to my e-mail enquiry and the other notified me of the result of my online application. In short, after having considered my situation, they renewed my REP until end of this year to give me time to relocate. Subsequent renewal depends on my contribution to Singapore's economy and status of my residency.

Consequently, both Ban and I were headless chickens on that Saturday, trying to figure out the best way of doing this. After a few twists and turns, we decided to wait for the outcome of his job application (there is only one job in Singapore for him!) and then get accommodation. If all go well (including my dad's recovery from surgery), I'll be in Singapore by 1st week of October and be there continuously at least until late December.

Wish me good luck!

Love and care

Uncle Saba's 1

My mum bought this recently from Tesco and knowing that I like this snack, she left some for me. The taste is quite good. Not too salty and can taste the lentil.

However, what was more interesting was the writing on the package such as "guilt free", "And all this stuff also lah..." and the best part was in its list of ingredient: "plenty of love and care".

Kudos to designer!

Overwatch: Torbjorn

Similar to Bastion, Torbjorn is also a scourge of newbies. Actually, it is both Torbjorn and his turret and at times, it's only the latter that matters.

His turret is unique because it'll automatically turn and shoot, with unerring accuracy, at enemies that come into view. Obviously that means positioning matters but that itself is not easy to determine because ideally it should be positioned such that it can shoot as many enemies as possible and yet protected from range guerrilla attack. Consider corners and rooms. Maybe even on higher ground but you have to watch for enemies walking up the same way you did to place that turret.

When Torbjorn first places the turret, it's only level 1 and has 150 hp with slow firing rate. With 6 swings of his hammer (when it's at full health), he can upgrade it to level 2 with 300 hp and faster firing rate. Level 3 (800 hp and even faster firing rate) can only be temporarily obtained by using his ultimate ability Molten Core.

Torbjorn's rivet gun left-click fires arching projectiles while its right-click fires shotgun projectiles. Newbies often underestimate the potency of his rivet gun, especially the shotgun projectiles.

Unique to Torbjorn, he can collect scraps dropped by fallen enemies, allies and Torbjorns' turrets. Using these, he can fashion wearable armour pack that gives 75 armour, which is a lot.

His ultimate ability, Molten Core, not only temporarily upgrades his turret for 12s, it also temporarily gives temporary armor and additional health to Torbjorn and increases his attack speed. I often use this to repel enemies' big push, whether I'm there or not. Also, when this ability is up, I can go even further away from the turret (instead of being close by to repel enemies trying to destroy it and to repair it) because I can use Molten Core at a pinch to save the turret if needed. In this mode, Torbjorn is monstrous and the general advice to newbies is to just wait out this period.

Here are some highlights/Play of the Game/Play of the Match:

Quadruple kill (plus a rip tire) during molten core. Unlocked "Raid Wipe" achievement :)

OAM (youtuber) said there are several factors in choosing PotG. One of them is the time close to the end of the match, with some kills. Think this is a good example of it.

In this PotG, I was so tired horsing around with my turret that I had to nap :P

1st time played Torbjorn in competitive match and this was King-of-the-Hill map. Didn't change throughout the 3 rounds. Yes, team won first 3 rounds. Got Play of the Match :) Thanks team!

False alarm

Actually, it's not an alarm. Turns out that my lucky break is false :(

My agent said that the (potential) new tenant didn't confirm. He had been quite meticulous in his job so far and hence for this to happen (i.e. to tell me he had "secured" a tenant and yet later fell through) is quite puzzling.

So now we're back to marketing my condo unit for sale and rent. Upon my request, he sent me links to the advertisements he put out in a popular website. I noticed that unlike the one for rent, the sell advert had old photos that were taken when I was still staying there. They were the same photos used for the rent advert almost a year ago which resulted me in requesting more recent photos to be used.

I immediately asked him to use the most recent photos (or at least the same ones as those in the rent advert) for the sell advert.

Hopefully I'll get a genuine lucky break soon!

Lucky break

Sometime last month, I received bad news from my agent that tenant that we got since Feb had invoked the diplomatic clause because his company his sending him back to home country :(

As usual, I checked Propertyguru and URA to get some data on current market rental rate but this time I also checked market selling price too. To my surprise, although the former had dropped significantly the last 2 years, the latter hadn't changed by much. Doing some calculation, I determined that the proceed of a sale at current price - less money to be returned to CPF, outstanding home loan, legal fee, agent commission - could earn more than the current rental rate (net of relevant ongoing expenses and taxes) if invested in shares with dividend yield of 5%.

So far, the historical dividend yield of my portfolio is 6% and so 5% is a little conservative. Sounds good, right? However, that would mean all my investment will be in shares and that's scary given the fact that I'm not an expert at prospecting shares (which is why I go for diversification as one of the safeguards).

On the other hand, I did not wish for yet another long wait (it was 3 months previously) for a new tenant and so I had asked my agent to look for either tenant or buyer, whichever comes first.

Recently, I received a piece of good news: my agent has secured the next tenant, with a nominal 2% increase in rent. They will move in right after the current tenant leaves i.e. there will be no gap in between. Fantastic! However, the downside is that they asked for a ceiling fan with lights to be installed in the master bedroom and that their employer (once again) requires the 6-month diplomatic clause despite the 1-year contract. Normally such clause appears in contract of at least 2 years. Times are bad. Renters' market. What to do.

However, I am grateful to have this piece of news. Hopefully they'll be good tenant and stay much longer than the current one.

Ongoing thievery

Imagine you own a company that manufactures and sells bread making machines. You're approached by another company that wants to make and sell bread but doesn't have the machines to do so. They want to lease your machines to do so. You then proceed to make the appropriate calculations and quoted them a leasing fee, which they accepted.

Years later, your client decided not to renew the leasing agreement. In fact, they are going to make their own machine just to produce and sell bread. They then propose to engage you to perform regular quality assurance checks on both the machine and the bread. You determine that this cost much lesser than leasing out your machine and so quoted a significantly lower fee for such checks.

In the course of your review, you notice striking similarities between their and your machine. In fact, they even copied your unique identification number of the machine you leased to them before. How will you feel? Furious, right? You would have earned so much more if they purchase your machine - machine that you had spent time and effort to create and refine.

That's what happening in the consulting world, especially in the less developed country. Actuarial spreadsheets and reports are copied abundantly without appropriate compensation. Often these spreadsheets/reports are created and refined without being charged to any particular client (how would you feel if you are charged very high fee simply because you're the very first client?) and the cost is slowly recouped through providing consulting services, teaching clients how to create sample spreadsheets (not the full version) and reviewing them, or simply outright sell such products (if permissible). To just steal them is morally and, usually, legally wrong.

This recently happened to the actuary and I but the thief in this case could have been our associate (we worked together with another consulting firm in that foreign country). There is no way that the client could have gotten those spreadsheets. Since neither the actuary nor I did it, only suspect left is our associate. It may be common practice in that foreign country but this is detrimental to all actuarial consultants as that just make us poorer (by not getting fair compensation) and perpetuate the notion that this is acceptable practice. Humph!

Children and colouring book

"-grateful that he's healthy," Rahim Khan was saying.
"I know, I know. But he's always buried in those books or shuffling around the house like he's lost in some dreams."
"I wasn't like that." Babab sounded frustrated, almost angry.
Rahim Kahn laughed. "Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors".

- "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.