Friday, April 25, 2014

Redeem Prizes with Sentosa HarbourFront's Great Egg-Venture!

Media Invite
(Daddy hunts)

The Easter long weekend may have came and gone, but that does not mean the fun needs to stop! In fact, the Easter festivities at Sentosa HarbourFront are just getting started.


Good Friday saw the official launch of The Great Egg-Venture, Singapore’s biggest Easter Fiesta at the Sentosa HarbourFront. And when I say Singapore's BIGGEST Easter Fiesta, I mean it. For one, it encompasses the largest Egg Hunt activity that Singapore has ever seen - one that will take egg hunters on a journey up a hill, across the harbour and onto an island resort!

The Great Egg-Venture kicked off over the weekend with a Sentosa Egg Fiesta at Emerald Pavilion on Siloso Beach, and it was one boisterous affair.


There were loads of arts and craft activities for the little ones... all which centered around the Easter Egg theme, for obvious reasons.


A special Egg Garden was also specially set for children to go on a mini egg hunt of their own.


But it was a garden with a twist - the kids had to walk on eggs in order to search for the eggs!


And yes, those were real eggs that Ash and Ayd walked on. I was tempted to give it a go, but I was afraid the organisers would run out of eggs.

For the younger kids, a separate Egg Hunt area was set aside for them to burrow through the sand to look for plastic eggs. I thought that was a very nice touch.


Ale though, was more interested in snapping a photo with good old Mother Goose.


While Ayd even found himself on stage to help out in a magic show!


Although the Sentosa Easter Fiesta at the Emerald Pavilion has since ended - DO NOT GO this weekend, it will be empty! - the Great Egg-Venture Hunt is still very much on... all the way until 5 May 2014, actually.

For the first time, 100 eggs have been planted around the entire Sentosa HarbourFront area, which includes Sentosa, St James Power Station, RWS, VivoCity, Harbour Front and even atop Mount Faber! The eggs measure 1.5 metres by 1 metre, so they should not be too hard to spot. They have been colourfully decorated by local artists from various associations, charity groups and schools, and this is one such example.


All eggs have a unique QR code on them. Using the QR code reader in your smart phone, scan the QR code on the egg you have found. Do note that you have to visit http://www.bit.ly/shbaegghunt to register via your Facebook account beforehand in order to store the eggs that you have located.

The more eggs you find, the more eggs you will see on your “Egg Found” screen in the Facebook app. And when the hunt ends on 5 May (11.59pm), the person with the most number of eggs found will be crowned the winner of the inaugural Great Egg-venture Egg Hunt and win $5,000 Cash and & a FOZAILOFF JEWELRY Pink Sapphires & Diamond Egg Pendant worth $5,890! Participants with the second and third most number of eggs found will win the 2nd prize ($3,000 Cash) and 3rd prize ($2,000 Cash) respectively.

But the fantastic thing about the Egg Hunt is in addition to the top 3 prizes, you can also redeem prizes as you go about on the egg hunt. The more eggs you find, the more prizes you can redeem. 

There are different tiers of prizes that one can redeem; for example, if you found 18 eggs, you can redeem it for a $50 Starbucks Gift Card or a One-Day Adult Pass for Two to Adventure Cove Waterpark for 28 eggs. Or how about a One Night stay in a Deluxe Sea View Room including buffet breakfast for two persons at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa in exchange for 88 eggs found?

Sounds good, no? But hurry, because prizes are limited so do go on your egg-hunting adventure really soon!


Useful Information

The Great Egg-Venture
Dates: 18 Apr - 11 May 2014; All Day
Venue: Sentosa HarbourFront Precinct

The Egg Hunt
18 Apr - 5 May 2014
To view the locations where the eggs can be found AND all of the prizes redeemable, visit www.shba.org.sg/events/easter-2014/the-egg-hunt.html

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Plight of the Self-employed and Freelancers in Singapore

(Daddy blogs)

Whenever I mention to people that I am a Financial Planner by profession - and hence, self-employed - the most common response will be, "Wah, very good right? Work at your own timing, and no need go into office everyday!"

While that may be true to a certain extent, there are also many struggles these group of self-employed people face that many are not aware of. Come to think of it, freelancers are in the same predicament too... and what do you know - I am also in this group by virtue of my moonlighting as a blogger.

Of course, freelancers and the self-employed encompass a much larger group than that and they include tour guides, tuition teachers, taxi drivers, sports coaches and real estate agents. And as an integral part of the workforce in Singapore, this growing pool of freelancers and self-employed do face certain key challenges in our daily lives.

No CPF, Medical and Annual Leave Benefits

Compared to employed workers, freelancers and the self-employed in Singapore are not entitled to Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, annual leave, medical leave, and rights under labour legislation such as the Employment Act and the Work Injury Compensation Act. Full-time employees are also given basic insurance protection but for us, we are on our own. And don't even get me started on the '13th Month Bonus' payout!


Legal Protection

Freelancers are the most vulnerable group of the two, in my opinion. And more often than not, it has to do with timely payment for services rendered. Many freelancers all have their own horror stories to tell: the client that refused to pay because "the work was atrocious", or the client who perpetually delays payment just because there usually isn't any binding penalties for late payment. Legal action is difficult to pursue because it may just not be worth the said freelancer's time (and money).


No Stable Income

Freelancers and the self-employed are never assured of a steady stream of income. They depend on the number of clients and/or amount of work assignments in order to support our families. So in times of economic crisis, these groups of people will be the hardest hit. And unlike employess whose annual pay increment is usually a given (no matter how small), freelancers and the self-employed do not enjoy this privilege and often have to justify an increase in their rates... or face having business being sought elsewhere.


Unable to Gain from Upgrading Schemes

Compared to salaried workers, freelancers and the self-employed usually do not have the luxury of being sent for certification courses on the company's expense. Any costs arising from enrollment into a skill certification course comes out of one's own pocket. Even then, there seems to be a perceived lack of recognition accorded to the upgraded skill qualifications.


Suffice to say, more can definitely be done for this group of workers in Singapore. And at the forefront of it all, Mr Ang Hin Kee, Assistant Secretary General of NTUC, has highlighted the concerns of this group and how more support should be given to them in his Budget Speech in March 2014:

1. Recognize and appreciate capabilities

There may be more freelancers and self-employed taking on certifications such as Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ), but yet still struggle with its recognition among employers. This is because it is still uncommon to see WSQ as a criterion in job advertisements or skills specifications in tenders. So hopefully, the Government, employers & buyers can speed up the recognition of such training certifications, and do more to raise the public awareness of these skills qualifications.


2. Create Business Opportunities

A collective effort could be spearheaded by NTUC and the Government to explore new business opportunities for this group, so that their services could be marketed via different platforms.

Absorbing new technology, raising productivity, improving the quality and competitiveness of services – these not only apply to companies and businesses but more crucially, they are equally as important to the freelancers and self-employed. So in order for new business opportunities to grow, these group of people must be enticed to want to crave in upgrading their skills set. This where the Government can come in – by heavily subsidising (or dare I say, even free) many of the upgrading skill courses open to the freelancers and self-employed.

When it comes to one’s own business, the organization of marketing is typically one of the weakest links due to it being a one-man show. So I would like to see either NTUC or the Government set up a distribution system for some of the services that these group of people offer, like the sports coaches and private tour guides. More feasibility studies will definitely have to be done, but I feel this will go a long way in ensuring a steady stream of business for them.

3. Provide support to save up for personal contingency

As a result of the instability nature of a freelancer's or self-employed's income stream, more support can be given, so that they can do more to save up for contingency planning such as paying for housing, healthcare, dealing with temporary loss of income and saving for retirement. Granted that these are challenges faced by almost every worker in Singapore, the freelancers and self-employed have to make provision for these contingencies on their own.

The Finance Minister had announced in Budget 2014 that the Government will defray the employers’ share of the increased CPF contribution rate for employees age 50-55 with a Temporary Employment Credit. Mr. Ang had urged the Government to consider giving the same quantum under the Temporary Employment Credit to the group of freelancers and self-employed who make voluntary contributions to their CPF Medisave as well. In addition, he had also called for the same amount of Workfare Income Supplement payout to be given to the self-employed, should they qualify for Workfare.


In truth, no job is easy and every career path requires work and effort - even more so for a freelancer or self-employed individual. These group of people form a unique category of workforce which contributes to the economic growth of Singapore. And as Singapore approaches her 50th Birthday, we should not neglect this group of the workforce so that all of us can move forward in the same direction.

Photo Credits: Troll MEME GeneratorWomen as entrepreneursMeme GeneratorPositiveaddictionboston.com, and Cheezburger

KidZania Singapore Updates

Media Invite
(Daddy blogs)

KidZania, the theme park with zero rides or arcade attractions, is on track to open in Singapore in 2015. And come next year, we will all have another fabulous reason to visit Palawan Beach at Sentosa... especially my monkies, I think. 

The boys had their first taste of KidZania when they visited the Kuala Lumpur branch in 2012 and they loved it so much that we followed it up with another visit - this time with our buddies - six months later! So you can be sure they will be eagerly waiting for KidZania Singapore to open really soon.


Yesterday, KidZania Singapore announced more industry partners to be part of the educational and entertainment theme park. Because it combines role-playing with real life experiences in a kid-sized city that emulates the workings of a real city - think bank, university, fire station, radio station- to provide unique ‘edutainment’ fun, it is essential that KidZania Singapore ties up with the appropriate industry partners who share its vision of educating, empowering and inspiring 4 to 14 year olds in a safe and self-contained city environment.


Adding to the previous 6 industry partners (Maybank, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, Yakult, Canon, The Soup Spoon, Killiney Kopitiam) announced last year, another 8 had come aboard to offer a diversifying range of career options for the little adults.


KFC
Children who visit the KFC Restaurant will play the role of a KFC Crew member, learn the importance of hygiene in the Food & Beverage Industry, prepare a KFC meal and bring it home to enjoy!

The Learning Lab
The Learning Lab University will be the gateway for children to acquire distinguished academic credentials. Armed with these prestigious qualifications, they can earn extra KidZos at selected establishments.

LoomiFunz
Children at the LoomiFunz Painting School will get to unleash their creative flair on the Mural Wall or take home their very own KidZania painting - all created with glow-in-the-dark paint!

Nickelodeon
Visitors to the Nickelodeon Acting Academy and Theatre will get to role-play as their favourite Nickelodeon characters. The aspiring thespians will be able to attend acting classes at the Acting Academy, wear character outfits and then perform for an audience at the Theatre.

PictureAir
Together with Canon, Pictureworks aims to capture the best memories of visitors in KidZania Singapore, with photo printing services for visitors to purchase in the form of photos, stamps and even key chains.

Pizza Hut
Young chefs will get to knead and shape pizza dough, add on their favourite toppings, before sending it to be baked at the Pizza Hut Restaurant. They will also be able to pack their pizzas into boxes to take home and enjoy with their family!

Spritzer
The Spritzet Bottling Plant offers children to play the role of an engineer, learn safety and hygiene matters, how natural mineral water is made, and the ingredients and processes that water has to go through before it is bottled and dispatched.

WTS Travel
At the WTS Travel counter, visitors can choose to be either a Tour Guide or purchase a ticket to be a Tourist for an in-depth city tour of KidZania Singapore. Each tourist is allowed to be accompanied by one adult to go on the tour with them. This is one of the activities that parents are able to participate with their children.


KidZania Singapore will span 7,600 square metres and be part of the new Family Entertainment Centre development at Palawan Beach, Sentosa Island.


Exciting, no? Let's get to 2015 already!!!


Can't wait for more KidZania Singapore news? Stay tuned to our blog and/or Facebook/Instagram/Twitter accounts to stay updated for more updates!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's go Dutch at Tulipmania 2014

(Daddy blogs)

Over the past week, the feeds on your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts must have been inundated with tons and tons of tulip photos. Which is hardly surprising, considering that the success of last year's Tulipmania was extremely well-received. 

So for this year, Tulipmania had returned to the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay... with more tulips on display than last year!


And judging from the crowd over last weekend, I think it is safe to say that Tulipmania is Gardens by the Bay's most popular flower display. Ever.


Billed as Asia's biggest tulip display and inspired by Madurodam - a miniature park and tourist attraction in the Netherlands - the centrepiece depicts Dutch canal scenes, houses and windmills set amidst spectacular blooms of tulips and hyacinths. Of course, the star of the display will be the 50,000 tulips bulbs of assorted varieties flown in from the Netherlands, in a myriad of colours including red, yellow, orange, purple and white.


Previously, only Ale and I had the chance to do some tulip-planting of our own... which obviously made the boys terribly envious. And with the wifey loving all things tulips (and Miffy), a trip down to the Flower Dome was always on the cards.


Suffice to say, everyone loved the colourful tulip display... so I shall just let my photos do the talking.


If you ask me, one can never get bored looking at these tulips. And here is a further piece of evidence that everyone - young and old - loves the tulip display: Tulipmania is by far the only flower display that both Ash and Ayd did not clamour to leave after a period of time.

During our previous visits to the other flower displays in the Flower Dome, the boys grew incredibly restless and bored after 15 minutes. This time around though, we hung around within the dome for more than an hour and they still didn't mutter a single complaint.


Thanks to all these pretty flowers blooming for you and me, I'm sure.


For Ale, she was looking forward to another kind of attraction.


Yes, Miffy it was. An Easter Egg Hunt with Miffy was held over last weekend because what better way to spend the Easter weekend than to hunt for some chocolate eggs hidden withing the Flower Dome... with the monkies' SengkangBabies buddies, no less!

Photo Credit: SemgkangBabies

Actually, I think the air-conditioned comfort also helped alleviate the fun too. Or at least it did for me.

Photo Credit: SemgkangBabies

It looked like everyone was utterly happy with their loot then.


And equally happy were these scores of people, who managed to snag a photo with the popular Miffy.


If you have missed the chance to say hello to Miffy, your FINAL chance to do so is THIS SATURDAY (26 April 2014). Miffy will be making her last appearance in Singapore in the Flower Dome at the following timings: 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

And in celebration of all things Dutch, Gardens by the Bay will be organising Tulip Cheer where there will be lots of performances and activities that will showcase the Dutch culture, including savouring of  Dutch Gouda cheese! Here are a listing of activities to expect:

TULIP CHEER (26 and 27 April 2014)

Crank it up! 
Venue: Mediterranean Garden
Time: 10am - 6pm (First 20 minutes of each hour; break from 12pm - 1pm)
To complement the visual feast of the Tulip Field, treat your ears to a performance using a hand-held organ, for an aural bliss!

Say Cheese!
Venue: Entrance of Flower Dome
Time: 12pm - 6pm
Food is something that Singaporeans have a love affair with every day. So get set to taste some lip-smacking Dutch Gouda cheese and buy some home for the family to enjoy!

Game On!
Venue: The Canopy
Time: 10am - 6pm
Come watch demonstrations of the popular Dutch board game, Sjoelen.

The Therapeutic Gardens
Venue: The Canopy
Time: 10am - 6pm
An interactive art activity for all, come create your own artwork inspired by the Tulipmania floral display!


We will definitely be paying Tulipmania a final visit before it ends on 4 May!


Useful Details

Tulipmania
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
14 Apr - 4 May 2014
9am - 9pm
Admission charges apply. Click HERE for rates.
*Special Senior Citizens Discount for Tulipmaina: 50% discount off Senior Citizen Local Resident ticket to the Flower Dome only (UP. $8/Senior Citizen)

Visitors to the Flower Dome will receive a Miffy postcard as a souvenir. Collect yours as you enter the Flower Dome, while stocks last.

For more details, visit www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/whats-on/calendar-of-event/tulipmania-floral-display-details.html


Related Activities

Tulipmania Garden Trail
Learn more about the world of bulbs in this very special Garden Trail, Tulipmania, and stand a chance to walk away with a souvenir, while stocks last! This Garden Trail is part of the Tulipmania floral display. Trail map is free and available (while stocks last) with every conservatories ticket purchased.

KLM brings Miffy to Singapore Campaign
Want to win exclusive KLM Miffy merchandise and Tulipmania tickets? Keep your eyes peeled at KLM Singapore's Facebook page where you can answer questions about Miffy’s adventures in Singapore and stand to win fantastic prizes!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy Typing with Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini

Advertorial
(Daddy reviews)

Tablets seem to be the norm for most people nowadays and for many, typing using the on screen keyboards of tablets is a bit of a chore. More so if you are one of those people who utterly depend on your iPad... like me.

As most of you would already know, I am a Financial Planner by day and moonlight as a Daddy Blogger by night so whichever role I assume, the one thing I cannot do without is my iPad Mini. I need it for my work and in between meeting clients, I try to squeeze whatever time I have to complete my blog posts on my iPad. 

But the one thing that irks me is the typing using the on screen keyboards of my iPad. A few sentences I can live with, but when it comes to churning out a full-length blog post using my iPad... let's just say my fingers will be threatening to break up with me after I complete one post. So it was happiness when I found out about the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini, which is essentially a 3-in-1 cover - a protective case, a stand and a KEYBOARD. Woot!

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the cover was how light it was, considering that it housed a keyboard! At 285g, it adds very little noticeable weight to the iPad Mini. Dimensions for the Folio are 215mm x 149mm x 19.3mm if you must know.


Snapping on the iPad Mini to the Folio was a piece of cake. In fact, Ale could even do it. To remove it from the Folio, just a small amount of force pulls it back out. No trickery or hard clasps to undo. It really is that easy. When it comes to accessibility, the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio tops its class.


But the one thing that impressed me was even after adding the case and keyboard, the Folio did not add much to the thickness, which is fabulous since I carry my iPad Mini everywhere with me. And since portability matters a lot to me, it is a good thing too that the Folio covers both the back and the front of the iPad Mini to prevent any unwanted damage should the dreaded accidental slip occurs.

Oh, and I have to give a special mention to the material used for the Folio. The external layer is made from a durable, soft touch, water repellent material which makes it easier to grip - perfect for those tiny hands of Ale too!

Thanks to a clever magnetic clip, the Folio locks the iPad Mini securely in place. And when I say securely, I mean it. You can pick the case up by the iPad and shake it without it breaking loose. This means that my iPad is not going to flop around once I put it in place to type.


Once clicked into place, pairing of the iPad Mini with the Folio via Bluetooth is painless and unbelievably quick.


A small power button on the side of the case turns the keyboard on and off to save battery power when it is not being used. With an average use of two hours per day, the Folio can go for up to three months on a full charge, with recharging the keyboard using the included USB cable.


Of course, the most important aspect of the Folio has got to be its keyboard. Logitech has changed the design slightly over older models, to make the case smaller and sleeker I reckon. The tradeoff is that the Caps Lock and Tab keys are shared with the A and Q keys, something which took me a while to get used to.

I too loved the nice touch of the loop (Logitech label) to hold a stylus or pen.

I don't know about you, but I love keyboards that go 'click click click' instead of a dull 'thud thud thud' as I furiously go about my typing. With the Folio's keyboard, I could type as fast as I would on a laptop complete with the reassuring 'click' of real keys. Woot!



Plus, it features time-saving iOS shortcut keys combinations for cut and paste, searching, volume, and more. Even the boys could not resist in giving the Folio keyboard a try!


I - and the boys I must add - really like using this Keyboard Folio as its usage was functional and practical without adding bulk to the iPad Mini at the same time.

No doubt it protects my iPad really well, but the keyboard of the Folio definitely takes the cake for me. I have always been skeptical of iPad cases that come with keyboards, but the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio makes it so easy for me to type document after document, blog post after blog post on it.


In fact, even Ash and Ayd have requested to do their online homework using my iPad Mini and Folio!


At S$129, it is not exactly the cheapest cover around but if you are scouting for a keyboard for your iPad in addition to having a cover that offers good protection, then this Keyboard Folio from Logitech is definitely worth its price.

OR you can just win a cover from Logitech! 

I have ONE Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (Aluminium cover with a Bluetooth keyboard, worth S$119) and ONE Ultrathin Protective Folio for iPad Mini (worth S$59) to give away.


Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini
Logitech Folio Protective Case for iPad mini

All you have to do is leave a comment in this blog post to say why you would like to win one of the two covers and I will pick the best two comments! Easy peasy!!!

Giveaway ends on 18 May 2014, 2359 hoursGood Luck!


The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini is available in three colours: Carbon Black, Green Leash and Veil Grey and retailing at most Apple Premium Resellers, Challenger and other Logitech authorized resellers for S$129.00. The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio is available for iPad Air as well and comes in colours of Carbon Black, Midnight Blue and Mars Red Orange at S$139.

For more information on Logitech's range of Ultrathin Keyboard Folios and Covers, please visit http://www.logitech.com/en-sg/tablet-accessories?overview

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