Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Singapore to Bangkok by Train – FOOC

November 29, 2009

The BBC From Our Own Correspondent has a piece on traveling from Singapore by train. Actually two trains. The first from Singapore to the Thai border and the second from Sungai Kolok in Thailand to my favourite Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.

I wrote about the FOOC program before here.

They must have renovated the Malayan Railway (KTMB: Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad) Station in Singapore. It’s described as art-deco. When I was there it was run-down – it made Hua Lamphong look great by comparison. (I guess it could be both – I should check.)

Durian Flavoured Popcorn

Durian Flavoured Popcorn

The discussion about durian flavoured popcorn that she took on the journey but never ate was amusing. Although the fresh fruit smells strong products made from it are generally mild. It’ll be an anticlimax when she opens the bag.

It's Durian Season

Durian Fruit - Strong Smell

I should take that trip one day.

Durian Flavoured Mooncake

Durian Mooncake - Slight Smell


Singapore Vehicle License Plate Check Character Calculator & Validator

November 23, 2009

Here’s something extremely obscure!

A few years ago I spent a lot of time in Singapore and, as always, wanted to understand their system of vehicle registration places (license plates).

The basic system is easy to understand.Wikipedia has some basic documentation here.

Here’s an illustration from Wikipedia of a current private vehicle plate design (front and rear).

It’s British heritage is obvious but the Singapore Government made an enhancement that’s unusual. Almost every license plate (apart from military and diplomatic plates) has an alphabetic character at the end. It’s not a “year letter” like the old British system but a “check character”.

The check character is calculated from the values of the other characters in the plate and serves as a validator. If you make a mistake recording the plate the check character will be wrong.

As far as I know the Singapore Government does not document the check character generation algorithm for the public. I had a big database of Singapore license plates I’d observed and back in 2002 I tried to reverse-engineer the algorithm.

My mathematics isn’t the best so I got some help from somebody on the Internet. He quickly helped me understand the system and I wrote some Microsoft Visual Basic code to calculate check characters and to validate them.

I published a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with the code on my web site, but I closed it down in 2007 as an economy measure. When I discovered Scribd I decided to re-publish it as a service to anyone else who’s interested in the subject.

In the spirit of open-source I placed the code in the public domain under a GNU General Public License. I don’t know how many people are interested in this obscure subject but if you are, you’re welcome to the code.

After the break is an embedded form of the spreadsheet from Scribd. Don’t worry about the “VALUE” errors in the preview – Scribd rendered the preview incorrectly.

I am not a great Visual Basic coder so I’m sure many people can improve the code. I’ve tested it on hundreds of Singapore plates of all types including the new “SMB” bus plates and it works. But of course that isn’t a formal proof of correctness. As the license says – no warranty!

When I wrote the code I put lists of validated registration plates for the various classes of Singapore buses on the Singapore Buses Discussion Board on Yahoo Groups. They’re still there in the “Files” section over seven years later.


Singapore Picapps

October 30, 2009

Every so often I type something into Picapp to see what they have. The new pictures are not so interesting but again I found some old photos that I like.

I have spent a lot of time in Singapore so I like to see photos of the old city-state.

The French Stall Singapore

August 27, 2009

The French Stall

I loved this small informal French restaurant when I lived in Singapore. It’s in a most unlikely place on the Serangoon Road in Little India. I still receive their newsletter by email – one of the few I bother with.

This screenshot is from their web site: Somebody does some whimsical Flash authoring in Singapore.

I don’t know any reasonably priced, non-pretentious French restaurants in Bangkok. The only one I knew, La Boulange on Soi Convent, closed and now it’s a 24-hour Italian place.

The owners of The French Stall have also recently opened an Italian restaurant. What is it about Italian food that makes it so popular and thus a good business?