Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Most COE prices end higher in latest tender

Most certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums ended higher in the latest tender on Wednesday.

Cat B, for cars above 1,600cc or 130bhp, rose by 2.7 per cent to finish at a four-month high of $80,710.

Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type but ends up mainly for bigger cars, climbed 3.8 per cent to end at $82,000, also its highest since November.

The only exception was Category A, for cars up to 1,600cc and 130bhp, which dipped by 0.3 per cent to $76,999.

Motor traders said last Friday's launch of the new Honda Odyssey contributed to demand for Cat B COEs, as did other new models such as the BMW 2-series Coupe.

Volkswagen Singapore general manager of sales Daniel Chong said: "Cat B has gone up, but the segment is still not all that strong. I think all the big boys in the market are determined to secure COEs for whatever bookings they have on hand."

High prices have cooled demand for Cat A cars, offset partly by demand whipped up by last Wednesday's launch of the new Mazda3.

Separately, dealers rushing to clear stock before a new emission standard kicks in may also be keeping COEs up. From next month, petrol cars must meet the more stringent Euro IV standard, up from the current Euro II standard that has been in place since 2001.

Meanwhile, commercial vehicle COE rose by 6.5 per cent to finish at a five-month high of $56,302. Industry watchers also attribute that to the launch of the Mercedes-Benz Citan compact van.

Mr Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "They don't need to sell a lot - just 20 to 30 units will already make up close to 10 per cent of the quota."

The premium that posted the biggest jump yesterday was motorcycle COE. In its eighth consecutive rise, the COE shot up by 14.3 per cent to end at $4,001 - its highest since December 1995.

Singapore Motorcycle Trade Association president Wilson Phoon put this down to a smaller COE quota.

"The supply of motorcycle COEs is 30 per cent lower than before," he said, adding that the new Euro III emission standard which will affect two-wheelers from October has also triggered "some panic buying".

Most motocycles here are merely Euro I-compliant.

Here are the latest Certificate Of Entitlement results from Wednesday's bidding exercise:
Category Current COE premium ($) Previous COE premium ($)
A - Car (1600cc & below)  76,999 77,201
B - Car (above 1600cc)  80,710 78,604
C - Goods vehicle & bus  56,302 52,890
D - Motorcycle  4,001 3,501
E - Open  82,000 79,000

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Bitcoin exchange boss, Autumn Radtke, found dead of suspected suicide in Singapore

Autumn Radtke & Richard Branson
THE American chief executive of a bitcoin exchange has been found dead at her home in Singapore.

Autumn Radtke, 28, was found dead in her apartment on February 28 and investigators are awaiting toxicology tests to confirm that her death was a suicide.

Radtke formerly worked with Apple and other Silicon Valley tech firms on developing digital payment systems before taking up the position with First Meta, an exchange for the digital currency bitcoin.

Douglas Adams, the non-executive chairman of First Meta, released a statement on behalf of the company expressing sadness at the loss of his colleague.

“The First Meta team is shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and CEO Autumn Radtke. Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends and loved ones. Autumn was an inspiration to all of us and she will be sorely missed,” the statement said.

Radtke started working in the tech sector at age 22 when she consulted for Virgin Charter and worked with chairman Richard Branson.

Tech wizz ... Autumn Radtke started working in the tech sector at 22, including a stint with Richard Branson’s Virgin Charter. Source: Supplied

Just two weeks before her death, Radtke posted an essay entitled “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship” and in it she said that “everything has it’s price.”

Her death is the latest in a spate of bad news for bitcoin, founded in 2009, and follows the collapse of the Japanese-based Mt Gox exchange last week after $400 million went missing and the closure of the Flexcoin bank yesterday in Canada after computer hackers robbed $600,000.

As soon as Mt Gox was set up, it started to fall victim to bank heists, with one in every 20 bitcoins in the world disappearing.

Kyodo News said debts at Mt Gox totalled more than 6.5 billion yen ($65 million), surpassing its assets.

Mark Karpeles, known as the “French Marck Zuckerberg”, resigned on Sunday from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation.

Karpeles and his staff have faced death threats.

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6 reasons to be excited for Batman: Arkham Knight

The Arkham games, with the exception of the slightly lacklustre and possibly unnecessary prequel Arkham Origins, have all been of the highest quality. The gameplay and story have been bang on and the evocative feel of getting to be Batman in a dark, gritty Gotham and battle against a myriad of villains has been a pure experience of adrenalin and pleasure.

Below are a few reasons why I am super excited for the next installment.

1. Batmobile

OMG! The Batmobile! Yes, we finally get to drive that bad boy all over Gotham. It is the sexiest way to hunt down the criminally insane and cause a slew of crime fighting related damage (which makes it OK). Serious fun.

2. Batman

He looks good in the trailer and, with the power of next gen gaming, is going to be even more amazing to play. I can’t wait to feel the wind zipping under the cape as I sneak attack henchmen.

3. Story

The storytelling for these games has always been strong, though that is not hard as the world of Batman has a plethora of characters and story lines to draw from. And going on story lines past, it is easy to put your trust in the fact that Rocksteady will do the last in the series justice. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

4. The villains

Scarecrow is one of my favourite supervillains so I am glad he is making a return. He is a psychopath with science on his side and he would literally love to scare you into insanity. He is also going to be joined by the likes of Penguin, Two-Face and everyone’s favourite crazy girl, Harley Quinn. The criminals of Gotham have the best work ethic I have ever seen so I really can’t wait to see what they challenge Batman with.

5. It is the last in the series

For this reason alone I think Rocksteady will have been intent during the creation of this game to knock our socks off so I am looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us.

6. The fact that it is next gen

I don’t have a next gen console yet, and the gaming releases so far have not excited me enough to stray from my PS3 or Xbox 360 but this trailer makes me want to lay down the cold hard cash now and get the game on pre-order (so I can play as Harley) and experience what I hope will be the best in the series. Graphically, and from a gameplay point of view, it looks like it is going to make the most of all that next gen consoles have to offer.

Side note – I love how in the trailer Thomas Wayne asks Bruce to not waste money on cars and extravagant clothes, when we know that is exactly what Batman likes to spend his money on…though I don’t think that Daddy Wayne would mind that much, being that it all contributes to keeping Gotham safe.

Are you excited for Batman: Arkham Knight? I know I am.

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Optimus Prime takes on a Dinobot in new Transformers 4: Age of Extinction trailer

The explosive new promo focuses on Mark Wahlberg’s character Cade Yeager, a mechanic struggling to make money who stumbles across a Transformer.

He soons finds government agents at his door demanding to know where Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, is.

Transformer 4
One scene shows them getting violent with Cade’s daughter Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz.

Father and daughter soon find themselves on the run as the action moves to Hong Kong.

Kelsey Grammar’s baddie Harold Attinger declares that ‘the age of the Transformers is over’ but we wouldn’t be so sure about that as the monster robot action sequences kick in.

Those missing Dinobots will be pleased to know that they feature in the trailer too as Optimus goes head-to-head with one at the end.

Stanley Tucci, BingBing Li, TJ Miller, Sophia Myles and Jack Reynor also make up the cast.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, directed by Michael Bay, is out on July 10 in UK cinemas.

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It’s Ash Wednesday; season of Lent starts

MANILA, Philippines—A Church official on Tuesday reminded the Catholic faithful to fast and to abstain as the Christian world on March 5 marks Ash Wednesday, which signals the start of the Lenten season.

The priest or a lay minister will apply ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead of each Church member while saying, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” or, “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.”

“With that dirt on your forehead, you declare to everybody that you are no different from the others who need to be converted,” said Fr. Genaro Diwa, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Liturgy.

According to Diwa, the observance of Ash Wednesday is very significant because it is during this time that the faithful admit they are now ready to repair whatever damage they have done in their relationship with God and with others.

“The ashes (from the burned palm fronds) of Palm Sunday signify or symbolize the desire of Christians to follow Christ,” Diwa told reporters.

Forego passions

He said that apart from desiring renewal, the faithful should also fast and abstain.

Fasting means skipping at least one full meal a day while abstinence means abstaining from eating meat.

But Diwa said the faithful should not just avoid eating meat but also abstain from their passions and desires.

“Fasting declares that even if you need food, which is a human need, there is something even greater than food and that is God,” he said.

Giving alms

Those who choose to perform corporal works of mercy instead of fasting or engaging in abstinence may do so, he added.

“If you decide not to abstain during that Friday, it must be replaced by a certain kind of corporal act of mercy, such as giving alms [or] doing something good,” said Diwa, who is also the minister of the Liturgical

Affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila.

“There are many things that we do during the Lenten season. We hope that all these activities will help us to be strengthened in our renewal of our baptismal vows,” he said.

Simplicity of life

In his Lenten message, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, focused on the beatitude of poverty, emphasizing that it teaches sensitivity and proper ways to respond to the poor.

According to Villegas, all are called to practice poverty in its material, moral and spiritual aspects.

Material poverty that humanizes and sanctifies is experienced in simplicity of life and works of mercy and justice, he said.

Moral poverty, according to him, can be exercised by strengthening one’s resolve to practice solidarity with the neglected, and to denounce injustice.

‘Spiritual poverty’

“Catholics should embrace spiritual poverty by ‘deepening our rootedness’ in Christ, whose poverty alone enriches us,” Villegas said.

The CBCP head called on the faithful to oppose and confront “dehumanizing” poverty by taking steps to alleviate it.

“This Lenten season, Christ invites all, but especially the laity, to oppose degrading and dehumanizing poverty and embrace humanizing and sanctifying poverty,” Villegas said.

“In other words, he invites us to imitate His example. We fight poverty with poverty only because Christ has shown us the way,” he stressed.

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The HUVr board or a HUVr hoax?

HUVr Board
Is it, though? I mean, this ad campaign is certainly convincing, but real life hoverboards? It seems too good to be true, which more than likely means, it is.

The video, jam-packed with celebrity endorsers, peaks our interest because there is no way our old pal Doc (Christopher Lloyd) could be lying to us, right??

And if pro skater Tony Hawk himself is vouching for this flying contraption, it simply must be legit.

So wrong. Really, a flying skateboard?

Turns out the brilliant minds behind Funny or Die is behind the latest viral sensation. Mashable reports that a costume designer who worked on the shoot posted the experience on her online resume, which has since been removed.

Don’t get me wrong, the ad is phenomenal, but not enough to convince us that this is real.

There were reports of fans saying that they can see a harness under Tony Hawk’s shirt in the video. With the wide-angle shots used to film the video, it’s hard to prove that there are no wires involved.

But if throwing a bunch of celebrities into one campaign ad is all it takes to convince America that this is real, then Houston, we’ve got a problem.

It’s the physics of the whole thing.

According to Gizmodo, a “real” hoverboard was created in 2010, but it only worked if nobody stood on it. How fun.

Then in 2012, discussed the potential of a hoverboard, comparing it with maglev train technology, where the train ‘floats’ over a track with magnetized coils. If this is the case, the hover board would not be able to hover over ordinary ground, concrete, water, pavement, etc. So the idea of the HUVr board using magnetics is out the window.

Another alternative would be to use the technology in the fashion of a marine or amphibious hovercraft so that it is almost like riding on an air cushion. The ‘Airboard’, a single-rider hovercraft is actually already on the market and retails at a cool $15 grand. No big deal.

So why the need for this obvious viral marketing scam? Some believe it’s a media stunt to promote the possibility of a Back to the Future IV. Some have the idea that there may be a new video game in the works. Or maybe with April Fools Day just around the corner, this is all just one big joke.

As much as we all want this to be real - because let’s face it, owning one of these babies would be awesome - it just doesn’t seem possible.

Throwing the DeLorean in there was a nice touch, though.

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