Categories
DIY

Using an eSim on Google Pixel 4a

The normal process for Android 11 is to go to Settings > Network and Internet, and hit the + sign beside “Mobile network”. The problem I faced was that there was no plus sign on my wife’s Pixel 4a. I could not install an eSim on top of the Sim card she already had on her phone.

I searched the web but found no good answers, so I’m documenting my fix here for anyone who needs it. Here it is:

Turn on aeroplane mode. Then turn it off. There will be a really brief moment when the plus sign will appear beside “Mobile network”, so you need to be fast to tap it. After that you’ll be able to add your eSim.

Hope this helps!

Categories
Singapore

Covid Tech Review

When Covid-19 hit last year, governments around the world leaned heavily on technology to keep its citizenry safe. A little more than a year has passed and it’s a good juncture to review what the Singapore government did that worked, and which ideas were good attempts at experimentation but ultimately fell by the wayside.

TraceTogether + SafeEntry

TraceTogether lies at the core of our efforts to manage the pandemic. It would greatly speed up the contact tracing capabilities of the government, enabling them to ring-fence and quarantine infectious clusters. At the beginning, physical tokens were distributed at local community centres and neighbourhood hubs as app downloads were initially slow to pick up. The allure of getting a device at no cost drove lines of people to collect their tokens.

Over time the mobile app adoption rose. Although the alternative media sites raised their voices at the privacy snafu, the heightened attention was probably a good thing. Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s open and sincere apology went well with the public, and people seemed satisfied that a minister would seemed adequately concerned that he did not communicate that the data gathered could possibly be requested by the police in cases where a person’s life or safety was at risk.

Enabling small businesses, workplaces and religious institutions to set up an automated visitor log through SafeEntry, more than 90% of people in Singapore use TraceTogether as part of their entry and exit routine to any public space.

Communications

Being an government comms alum, I’m definitely biased, but I think the Singapore government did an amazing job providing everyone with timely and useful information. Communications is an absolutely crucial function, and the complexity is baffling. Just imagine the different audiences who would have informational needs. From the employee wondering if it is safe to head back to the office, to families who may need help getting digital devices for their kids to attend school online – the permutations are close to infinite.

Small units were set up, such as CPRO that handled queries from and clarified guidelines for churches, mosques, temples and other religious organisations.

Citizens could receive daily updates on multiple instant messaging or social media platforms:

The Covid-19 Situation dashboard provides more detailed information, such as hospitalisation numbers and number of individuals under Stay Home Notice.

Geo

There were quite a number of geo apps and sites set up, such as MaskGoWhere (so people would know where to pick up their free masks), FluGoWhere (where to get tested if you think you have Covid-19) and Space Out, which tells you which malls are crowded so you can avoid getting caught in a squeeze.

All in all

The government has been consolidating their tech outreach efforts, and it is really heartening to see how things are shaping up. I’m glad to have spent an early part of my career in this space, back when these collaborations were community-driven and scrappy.

GovTech and the wider Singapore dev community have many reasons to be proud. There are still many areas we could improve services, and it looks like the cavalry has arrived.

Categories
Singapore

12 Months On

It’s been more than a year since I last wrote, and it feels like the world remains stuck in this dystopian dream. We continue to speak of how things could go back to “normal”, and some countries have relaxed all restrictions, hoping that the new variants of Covid-19 won’t bypass their vaccination efforts.

We’re slowly re-emerging from our second round of tight safety measures. Dining in for 5 resumes next Monday – a welcome relaxation of the rules, especially for the F&B industry, I’m sure.

We owe a great deal to the many frontliners who have made our lives possible. I’m really glad that we are honouring their hard work and sacrifice this National Day.

Categories
Singapore

A Note of Thanks to our Public Servants

Dear Public Servants of Singapore,

I have had the privilege of working with many of you during my time in the government, and I consider many of you friends. I know that helping the country navigate through Covid-19 has been some of the most back-breaking work anyone could have ever undertaken in their careers. Some of you had to consider a multitude of factors, opinions and possible impact on affected people as you try to draft new legislation to protect our most vulnerable; while others worked on ramping up Covid-testing facilities, making sure the process is dependable and accurate at scale. These are just two of the millions of different duties undertaken by our public service, and you have been working so hard, above and beyond a reasonable call to duty.

I found it really hard to read the announcement that civil servants would receive no bonus this year. I understand the policy and its intent: that civil servants have their pay tied to the economic performance of the nation, and in this time where many Singaporeans suffer economic losses, it is not a time to financially reward civil servants.

But I just wanted to say thanks. It’s not worth much, I know. It won’t put your child through school, or pay for your groceries. Thank you for working so diligently to keep us safe. That we have vegetables and eggs in the supermarket; or good internet access for our work calls; or adequate financial support to keep many small businesses alive. I’m not taking any of these for granted. None of us should. It is the result of the hard work our public servants have put in.

The list goes on and on: whether in healthcare where our sick are taken care of, or how our educators have had to pivot almost immediately to teach online, this generation of public servants have proven, and continue to prove that excellence is the hallmark of Singapore’s public service.

As a Singaporean son, husband and father, thank you so much for all that you do.

Categories
Uncategorized

Why it took me so long to say BLM

Black lives matter. There. That’s my first time typing it out. I didn’t want it to be a trite expression to me where I was just echoing social media sentiment. I wanted to give it deliberate thought.
I’m sitting here in Singapore, far from the movement’s epicenter, watching in horror as the fear of coronavirus gave way to a total breakdown in society over in the States. Mind you, we have our own baggage and should never take the unity of the people for granted. A careless word could be the flint that lights a fire fueled by undercurrents that have been building up over time, and fanned by the winds of emotion.
It took me so long to type out “Black lives matter” because it an obvious thing that didn’t need stating. I was also a little fixated on the negative space around the phrase. Do other lives not matter?
After some reflection I realised my error in attributing meaning to the words that aren’t said, instead of focusing on what is being said. Saying “black lives matter” does mean that other lives do not matter, or that black lives were somehow more valuable than other lives. In the same way, saying an apple is red doesns’t make an orange any less orange.
Saying “black lives matter” is important, because in today’s current climate, this truth isn’t self-evident. It isn’t self-evident in the unequal treatment of black people in America and many parts of the world. This inequality has been so exacerbated that we are fighting for an equal right to live. It breaks my heart that we have come to this.
It is easy, being so far away, to just be an observer and pass judgement, but prejudice and bigotry towards people unlike us is a sin that grips every human heart. The need for a come-to-Jesus moment to confess and confront our own biases is so necessary. The moment should be now, whether you are in Atlanta or in Asia. No one should take the life of another, and definitely not this callously.

Categories
Uncategorized

Unprecedented

“We live in unprecedented times.” Almost every politician, celebrity and talk show host has used those lines in the last month as the global pandemic sweeps through parts of Asia, then Europe and then the U.S. We are still in the thick of it as numbers continue to climb, and we quietly hope that early action by the Indian government can help mitigate the spread of the disease across the densely populated sub-continent.
Not to downplay the amount of human suffering caused by COVID-19, but we should not let the lessons of our current circumstance go unheeded. Where we pushed our healthcare systems to optimise for efficiency, times like these do make us wonder if there was wisdom in having a bit of slack to give us the headroom to deal with the unexpected.
In our necessary reaction to stem the spread of COVID-19, we have undertaken many measures which would have been deemed unfeasible social experiments.
1. How would our planet heal if we took a very drastic cut in global air traffic? Once theoretical, the results can now be observed in reality. Whether we can untangle global emissions from the global economy remains a puzzle we need to solve.
2. What will we learn about the nature of work? Do firms actually need to rent large swaths of office space, or will a remote workforce prove effective enough for business operations to continue?
3. Is it possible for education to move entirely online? I had my doubts, but just last week my son’s Chinese tuition centre moved to an entirely online delivery, and I was very impressed by the level of engagement the teacher was able to garner via live video conferencing.
4. Now that less traditional forms of socialising, such as online video chats and instant messaging, have become the only acceptable forms of socialising, does it open the window for introverts to take the lead a bit more? Can we help our extrovert friends navigate and find a home here? Or will our cozy corners be run over as millions move from pubs and malls to subreddit threads?
It is safe to say that we all hope for COVID-19 to go away. Its ubiquity has been an odd equalizer in society. The virus discriminates against no one; and while the rich may have their palaces in which to retreat while the poor may not have access to good healthcare, the fear of contracting the virus is so universal that we are all caught up in this shared experience —carrying this shared anxiety.
May we not sit impotently waiting for this time to pass. We can act on the many things we have learned here. Now that habits and routines are all being reshaped, we can make connecting with our loved ones a part of our daily lives; we can be better neighbours, better customers, better parents and better children, better caregivers and recipients, better employers and workers. Let us use this opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We can be better.

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Uncategorized

Remembering Uncle Bobby Sng

<a href="https://www.allsaintsfunerals.com/online-memorial/october-2019/dr-bobby-sng">Dr. Bobby Sng passed away on October 14th, 2019</a>. Many Christians in Asia knew him as the President of the Bible Society in Singapore, or one of his <a href="https://saltandlight.sg/news/former-president-of-bible-society-and-church-historian-dr-bobby-sng-goes-home-to-the-lord/">many pivotal roles</a> in helping the Christian community reach out to the larger society. I knew him as Uncle Bobby Sng who spoke monthly at church. <a href="https://invernest.wordpress.com/my-journey/wilkie-terrace-christian-assembly/">Like many others</a>, I looked forward to his sermons because they were not overly verbose or complicated, and communicated the simplicity of a living faith in Jesus Christ.
Over the years I began to serve in church, and had the privilege of speaking to Uncle Bobby more. A lot has been shared during his memorial service, as to the person he was and the effect his words and life had on others.
If I were asked to describe Uncle Bobby, the word that first comes to mind is &#8220;translucent&#8221;.
The conversations I remember most vividly are the ones where I asked Uncle Bobby for advice.
When you ask advice from most people, they go straight into problem-solving mode, breaking down the problem into smaller components, and working on solving those. Or they&#8217;d regale you with life experiences and wisdom they have gathered over the years, and how they think the issue you have just described is similar to something they went through a long time ago.
I never got any of that with Uncle Bobby. Instead of telling you what to do, he&#8217;d always smile, and encourage you to pray, ask God and discover His will for yourself. He was very careful not to allow his own passion and expertise &#8212; which were evident &#8212; to direct the decisions and actions of younger Christians who came to him. He had a reverence for God&#8217;s work, and knew intimately that only God could accomplish what He intends.
Uncle Bobby was translucent in the sense he had this ability to fade himself away and allowed God to do the speaking to, the conviction of, and the directing of the lives of His saints.
Even as we gathered around his death it didn&#8217;t feel like we were mourning the passing of a great leader or monumental figure, much as we tried to shape the service to a format we are more accustomed to. There was a lightness in Uncle Bobby&#8217;s passing, and I suspect it is because he understood what it meant to be a modern day John the Baptist. He always deferred to the Lamb of God, and worked hard at decreasing himself in order that Christ may increase.
I found myself marvelling at how little death took away that day. &#8220;Where O death, is your sting? Where is your victory?&#8221; When Uncle Bobby passed away, it felt like little had changed. His life had always been a journey towards more of Christ and less of himself.
The time of reflecting upon Uncle Bobby&#8217;s life was a reflection of what Christ has done in Asia. And though Uncle Bobby has left us, Christ continues to work here amongst us even now, calling us all to be translucent, that He may shine through.

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For Her Uncategorized

My Time Traveling Companion

My dearest Faith,
How quickly the years go by. The day-by-day passing of time may quietly escape our notice, but we are reminded when we see our children take their steps into teenhood, and we are left futilely holding on to the last vestiges of babyness.
It has been a while since I wrote to you, but I've really really enjoyed our morning breakfasts together, or the late night chats after the lights go out in our children's rooms. We are aware of how few of these we might have left, and I'm desperately imprinting them into my heart and my mind that its taste might always be familiar to me should dementia attempt to steal these before death takes either one of us. Having you by my side has been a deep study to the manifold blessings of God. It is impossible to pen down how much these years have meant to me.
You, my beloved, are more beautiful today than you have ever been. The laughter we've shared over the decades has etched lines on the corners of your eyes, and the white streaks in your hair shine like shooting stars in a twilight sky.
I am so blessed to be the one beside you as we observe the sunset of our lives, and the sunrise of an eternity in Christ Jesus.

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Uncategorized

The State of Digital Health Today

The democratisation of media has been one of the largest events in recent human history. The power to speak to the masses, once available only to a privileged few, is now made commonplace in the pockets of everyone with a mobile internet connection.
We are now surrounded by the products of this reality: blogs, social media posts, tweets, YouTube videos, Instagram and Snapchat photos and stories. Many of us share almost as a force of habit.
It has become time to rethink that habit.
Don&#8217;t get me wrong, many amazing and wonderful things have come forth from being able to share our experiences and perspectives, but I have been thinking hard over the past couple of years as to where things might have gone awry. The relentless push to make content generation easier and easier has led to a proliferation of overly-simplistic and malformed ideas; which in turn has incapacitated us with infinitesimal attention spans.
We have become a society that is not only unable to produce competently crafted content, but also to appreciate its complex flavours. The ramifications of this are widespread and dire. Politics – an arena that draws power from populism – is reduced to a pandering to the emotion du jour, and less about solving real societal issues which are endeavours that outlast the lifespan of a viral post or tweet.
That is the core of the issue, isn&#8217;t it? That in our drive to make content more easily generated and shared, we have shortened the lifespan of issues ideas, but the implementation of solutions to real problems require much longer timeframes. The twitchy and fickle waves of social sentiment become counter-productive to the ones who put their noses to the grindstone. It is slowly becoming impossible to find anyone who would devote large portions of their lives to solving big problems, both because the personal cost on these individuals is too great, and it is easier to focus on short-term project-based work because the risks are lower and the rewards more immediate.
Looking at my own online evolution from frequent long-form blogging to tweeting to instagramming, this has been true. I have often neglected writing in lieu of the quick photo, and many ideas and opinions have dissipated because of a reluctance to rigour. I am appalled at the deterioration of my ability to find words or construct sentences to convey thought.
Some things have to change.

Categories
Uncategorized

Which way is up?

A lot has been said in speculation over why <a href="http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/tan-chuan-jin-to-become-new-speaker-of-parliament-desmond-lee-to-helm-msf">Minister Tan Chuan-Jin was nominated by PM Lee to take over the role of Speaker of the House</a>.
Well-liked by many, the general sentiment is that he has been a very down-to-earth minister, often seen with his constituents or hanging out with sportspeople representing our country in international competitions. This move came as a surprise to almost all of us, and quite a number of armchair pundits have mooted that it <a href="http://www.todayonline.com/tan-chuan-jin-speaker-be-once-seen-key-member-4g-leadership">amounted to a demotion</a>, and that he must have fallen out of favour at some point in time.
Some things have changed from the days where every Singaporean child had to grow up to be a doctor, lawyer, or architect (we all know the architect was a reluctant compromise for our parents). The education system offers many more pathways than before, but change that needs to happen within us has clearly not taken place.
We are obsessed with status ladders and assume that climbing it is the universal purpose of life. We don't understand why DPM Tharman isn't the next Prime Minister and conjure conjectures of conspiracy theories. It could very well be that he doesn't want the job and reckons he serves better in his more specialised role.
We've applied the same lens to Minister Tan. It's amazing how we try to figure out where the rungs on our imaginary ladder are. People have pulled out the salary scale to compare if the Speaker of the House makes as much as a full cabinet minister in a bid to determine if this move was lateral or downward.
This is something I too grapple with in my own life. Am I moving up? Am I stagnating? Where is my career headed? Faith, who has spent the last few years of her life as a homemaker has it even tougher because the ladder as we know it doesn't exist in her world. Well-meaning friends and relatives often coax her to go back to work because corporate work gives one a "sense of value".
How sad our lives must be, that we are so easily taken in by this race that causes us to perpetually feel inadequate, to continually assess our own worth against that of others, and to push others down in order that we may hold our own heads high. We place these cares of the world on our shoulders, and a lot of it ultimately amounts to nothing. The admiration (or jealously, really) of our peers means nothing at the end of the day when we dial it in and meet God.
I'm still learning how to step back from this all-consuming tunnel vision and allow God to show me a glimpse of the larger picture. His plans for us often seems counter-intuitive, and His paths aren't the ones we would choose. I'm discovering that He is more interested in what we are than where we are, and to take the time to reflect on how I can spend the little time I have left to serve something more tangible and lasting than the satiation of my own ego.
Chuan-Jin's move might not make sense to us if we only look at it as "up, good, down, bad". But I believe this is a man who will serve with his utmost wherever he is. I thank God for the person that God has made him, and pray that we all will find the path that leads to eternal value.