Compression utilities on my Mac

In the end of semester flurry of activity, having to move and exchange files requires compression to save space or to reduce multiple files into a single archive for transfer and security.

As I receive data, some file formats defy OSX’s built-in Archive Utility which is otherwise conjured up with a double-click. Happily there are plenty of free utilities each time I look. I appear to have kept just two couple updated all this while, The Unarchiver, and StuffIt Expander (originally Raymond Lau’s 1987 pre-OSX utility).

Windows users who send me secure compressions tend to use 7-Zip, which produces 7z file formats. As a Mac user, I need something like Keka to open those files.


Gotta love the logo!

There are always new options – I have just started using Infinit, which seems lovely, as it can sends large files and folders to a Windows PC, iPhone, Android phone and other Macs, of course. Infinit promises secure encryption and transfers too.

It might just be the best thing since Wetransfer.

Skitched 20151125 233006

I’ve not examined the security issues yet, but have no international transfers to make. So I can stick to old school methods for exam matters – keep relevant files offline and on encrypted disk images, and conduct transfers by hand.

NUS VPN on OS X EL Capitan? Install Pulse Secure (version 5.1.6)

I was getting repeated prompts for Keychain passwords on my Mac, and repairing Keychain Access, which Red Sweater had promoted me to try earlier (04 Nov 2015), wasn’t working anymore. I even tried resetting Keychain but no joy either.

I sniffed around and fingered the culprit as Juniper Pulse, my VPN for NUS access as the culprit. Indeed it had beach-balled when I tried to initiate a connection.

Earlier, I had updated Juniper Pulse to what was now Pulse Secure version 5.1 (04 Nov 2015) from the installer on the NUS Comcen link. This worked on OS X El Capitan (10.11). I had to take the additional step of delete the existing NUS VPN profile, restarting my mac, and adding a new profile.

Early this morning (14 Nov 2015), the installer on NUS Comcen was now Pulse Secure version 5.1.revision6 build 61491 (5.1r6.0-b61491). Aha – a new version! So I installed it and replaced the profile, and my problems with Keychain were over.

What are the UN’s Global Goals for sustainable development?

World’s Largest Lesson – ‘Global Goals for Sustainable Development are 17 goals to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years – End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. If every school in the world teaches children about these goals, we will help them become the generation that changed the world.’

UN News Centre, 25 Sep 2015 – UN adopts new Global Goals, charting sustainable development for people and planet by 2030 [link]

“The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly today formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of bold new Global Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.

“The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home,” declared Mr. Ban as he opened the UN Sustainable Development Summit which kicked off today and wraps up Sunday.

The UN chief’s address came ahead of the Assembly’s formal adoption of the new framework, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

The Goals aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which in September 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty.”

Singapore’s Sustainable Development Programme was announced by Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at this summit:

“Singapore will partner UN agencies, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to provide technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries in the areas of leadership and governance, sustainable cities, and water and sanitation solutions.”

St Andrew’s alumni unhappy over mixed development name [Channel NewsAsia] / Thanks for the name change!

Updates – Thank you MCC Land and Street and Buildings Names Board!

This is regarding the development along Meyappa Chettiar Road, next to St. Andrew’s Village where St. Andrew’s Junior School, St. Andrew’s Secondary School and St. Andrew’s Junior College are located.

I hope MCC Land (Singapore) and the Street and Building Names Board can reconsider the names.

St. Andrew’s School was founded on 8 September 1862 by Rev Edward Sherman Venn of the Anglican Church.

The name of a new development in Potong Pasir has raised the ire of some members of the St Andrew’s school community. The project includes a condominium called The Andrew Residences and a mall, The Andrew Village.

“It’s really taking away from our history, just for the convenience or expediency of having a name for this commercial entity,” said school alumnus, Mr Isaac Leong.

“The names are not copyrighted, so they can name it anything they like,” said former teacher Yee Teck Peng. “But the developers should be sensitive to the feeling, the ethos, the heritage, the environment, they should consider all these if they are building the mall and naming it ‘Andrew’.”

The development, comprising a condominium named The Andrew Residences and The Andrew Village mall, is set to be complete in 2019. 

Full article and video at “St Andrew’s alumni unhappy over mixed development name,” by Kenneth Lim. Channel NewsAsia, 23 Oct 2015.

St Andrew s alumni unhappy over mixed development name  Channel NewsAsia

Recover the Cmd-[1..9] bookmark shortcut in Safari which ver 9.0 sets to tab switching instead

Even if you have not switched to El Capitan, chances are your Safari browser was updated to version 9.0. If you have been using Command–[1..9] to bring up favourites, you will find this no longer works but instead, switches between tabs.

To recover this function, go to Safari’s preferences > Tabs and turn off the default mode.


Monkeygirl Joys Tan on the brink of making the jump to El Capitan!
2015 10 23 11 49 23

Mentioned this earlier this month on twitter, but worth putting it down on the blog.

Kallang River’s smooth-coated otters at St. Andrew’s Village


This is a photo of Bishan5 taken at Kallang River near the Jacob Ballas Bridge of St. Andrew’s Bridge. the family group have been moving between Lower Pierce and Kallang and leaving the vicinity of the river to explore adjacent areas for days.

This lovely photo was taken by Jeffrey Teo and kindly sent to the principals of St. Andrew’s JC, St. Andrew’s Secondary School and St. Andrew’s Junior School – Mrs’ Lee Bee Yann, Lucy Toh and Wong Bin Eng.

St. Andrew’s is fortunate to have the river in such a lovely condition, and this is due to the efforts of so many people before us. It was a black, anoxic and unyielding river in the 70’s when I was a student there. But now, we have otters!

The school is not indifferent to the work of predecessors – the school hymn says,

“They reaped not where they laboured,
We reap what they have sown;
Our harvest may be garnered,
By ages yet unknown.”

The river presents challenges still – the otters have been entangled in raffia, hooked by an illegal fishermen and were chewing on and vomiting out styrofoam. We still have lots of work to do along the river.

See also:

  • The cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977-1987) [link]
  • Otter Watch – Otters in Singapore [link]

Keith Hillier nature guide and volunteer manager extraordinaire, RIP

NewImageI was notified by How Choon Beng via What’sApp of the obituary for Percy Keith Hillier.

Keith Hillier was a lovely gentleman, active in managing volunteers in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore Botanic Gardens and he also ran some activities for Nature Society (Singapore). He was also member of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) Master Plan Working Group in 2008-2010.

He burst into the scene when he decided to volunteer after he half-retired and was such a warm figure to everyone he met. Ria Tan chronicled Keith in her Wild People series from 2004 – his photo above is from that post, made 11 years ago.

Of working for nature, he said,

“It proved to be a very satisfying job – there was almost always at least one person in each group that I took round, that expressed appreciation for new insights into nature that I had imparted. “

He was a volunteer manager, which are a rare breed and we loved how he did this, sweetly querying guides about their next duty if they’d been away for awhile. How to resist such a charming invitation?

I am thinking of his congenial laughter now. Every time I bumped into him, he’d have warm words for me, we’d have lovely chat and I’d leave feeling uplifted and motivated about nature in Singapore.

We were blessed to have him. He will be truly missed, by all of us.

20151022 KeithHillier

See “RIP Keith Hillier – Mentor to nature volunteers,” by Ria Tan. Wild Shores Singapore, 23 October 2015.

S. K. Ganesan writes,

“I am very sad to hear this. Keith came here from UK to serve his National Service during the Malayan Emergency. He loved the forest and my first trip to Gunung Panti was with him in 1990. He once told me that he was chased by an elephant who was with her calf at Panti! Can’t believe that he has passed on.”

Airani S writes,

“I’ve has the privilege of having Keith Hillier as my wonderful volunteer manager when I was actively volunteering at the SBG. He always knew to make one feel appreciated; through all his gestures. RIP Keith.”

Fam Shun Deng writes,

“Keith Hillier was a mentor of mine, a gentle man who taught me to guide groups of people, and who taught me to teach. Once, after one guiding trip at SBWR, we spent hours talking over lunch about elephants and grasses. His passing is a great loss to all NParks guides. RIP Keith, thanks for the memories.”

Bhavani Prakash writes,

“Very sad to hear the passing on of a very special person. I met Keith Hillier for the first time in September 2003 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. He inspired me to be a volunteer guide there, which – long story short – changed my life direction completely.

I had lost touch with him for several years. Keith had out of the blue sent me a Facebook invite last year. I was delighted and went to meet him, his wife and his wonderful cats in April this year. I was so glad I finally had the opportunity to thank him for the impact he had made on my life (He had no clue what I was talking about!).

I also thanked him for sending me a Facebook invite, and for remembering me. He said, “I didn’t do anything! Facebook asked me to add you as a friend.” I can’t thank Facebook enough!

RIP Keith. You will be dearly missed. “

Obituary in the The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2015

Percy Keith Hillier (9th September 1929 – 19th October 2015)

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind”

– William Wordsworth”