Thursday, October 31, 2013

Malaysia year 2014 national and state public holidays announced

The 2014 national and state public holidays in Malaysia as distributed by Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) is as below.

There are 14 days of national holiday, and 2 of them fall on Sunday and 3 fall on Saturday. Most of the states will have around 3 state holidays in addition to the national holidays.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Astro price hike again for sports pack and family pack

From 24 November 2013 onwards, Astro will increase their Sports Pack by an additional of RM6 per month, and also their Family Pack by an additional of RM2 per month.

The last Astro price hike was in mid-2011.

If you are subscriber of Value Pack or Super Pack 3, this price hike will not affect you (yet) and your subscription fee should be the same as existing.

Click here for the announcement in Astro website.

For enquiry and protest to Astro, click here.

You can also post your comment in their Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

UTOO S2 (3000mAh) and S3 (5000mAh) Li-polymer power bank

With more and more mobile devices come into our lifestyle, most of us already have portable power bank to provide supplementary and/or emergency power to our mobile devices.

Majority of the power banks available in the market nowadays are still using Li-ion 18650 battery cells. Those power banks are at least 2cm thick, pretty bulky to carry along.

The UTOO Li-polymer power banks attracted my attention with their slim and lightweight design. Li-polymer is the same type of battery used in smartphones nowadays, normally rectangular in shape and can be razor-thin.

The Guangdong based UTOO manufactures several models of Li-polymer power bank. At the moment, the more widely distributed models are S2 (3000mAh) and S3 (5000mAh), both come with 1 year warranty.

The shape of UTOO resembles a modern smartphone (but without a screen). On the left is UTOO S3 with higher capacity of 5000mAh, and on the right is UTOO S2. The S2 is only 8mm in thickness.

They are slightly bigger than the standard size of credit card, name card, membership card, and the like. What if UTOO co-brand with some touch cards, like this...

Both S2 and S3 are buttonless and using 4 LED lights to show charging/discharging status. S2 has red LEDs while S3 has blue LEDs. The LED on the left denotes 0-25% of battery capacity, 2nd LED denotes 26-50%, 3rd LED denotes 51-75%, and 4th LED denotes 76-100%.

Being buttonless in design, the UTOO Li-polymer power banks automatically work when one or more of their USB ports get connected, and automatically off when they are disconnected. The charging/discharging operation is regulated by an S-Power smart chip inside the power bank to prevent from over-current, overload, overvoltage, overheating, over discharge, short circuit, etc.

Note that both S2 and S3 don't come with any power adapter. This should not be a big problem as they can make use of the power adapter that come with our mobile device.

The S2 also doesn't come with any USB cable, while the S3 has one attached charging cable at its side.

The S3 is able to charge 2 devices simultaneously with its attached charging cable and its USB charging port working at the same time.

Although the USB charging port of both S2 and S3 only has maximum current output of 1A, they are still able to charge up my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 which needs 2A charging. However, the charging speed is slower than using the Samsung 2A wall adapter.

This is considered a very nice feature, as most of the power banks in the market which don't come with 2A charging port are unable to charge up tablets that need 2A input.

Another different between S2 and S3 is that, S3 comes with a somatosensory system. It is able to show its current battery capacity by shaking it with our hand when it is not connected to any devices. While it is in charging operation, sidelay it and the LEDs will indicate the charging speed. All its LEDs will be off when you turn it upside down.

The UTOO Li-polymer power bank is able to recharge the battery in my HTC One from 15% to 100% in 3 hours time, which is comparable to charging with wall charger.

When the power banks are fully discharged to 0%, the S2 takes 4 hours to recharge to 100%, and the S3 takes 6 hours and 20 minutes.

I have done an experiment to connect the power bank to the wall charger and at the same time also connect its charging port to my handphone. The device is smart enough to charge itself to 100% first, then continue on to charge the connected handphone using the power that comes from the wall charger.

This means you can have both the power bank and your mobile device charged by "looping" them to one wall socket. They won't get charged together at the same time, and the power bank will regulate in such a way that it will get itself fully charged first, then pass over the charging current to the attached mobile device.

If you are looking for a power bank that is easy to carry, with nice design, high quality Li-polymer battery, good safety feature and 1 year warranty, perhaps you can consider UTOO.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Latest firmware update XXCMI1 for Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 (GT-N5100) seems to have fixed the S-pen misalignment issue

Samsung has just released a new firmware update (build number: JDQ39.N5100XXCMI1) for Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 (GT-N5100) in Southeast Asia region including Malaysia (XME), Singapore (XSP), Thailand (THL) and Indonesia (XSE) today, which users can get it through OTA update or from Kies software.

After the update, the Android version remains as 4.2.2, the firmware version becomes PDA: MI1 / PHONE: MI1 / CSC:MH2. Kernel version becomes 3.0.31-1475545 dated Mon Sep 16 2013.

This firmware update seems to have fixed the S-pen misalignment issue introduced by previous firmware of JDQ39.N5100XXCMH1.

I believe the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 users have been waiting for this bug fix for long. Finally, it has come.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My HiMedia Q5II dual core Android 3D smart TV + media player box

The China made HiMedia Q5II Android 3D smart TV + media player box is the second generation of the famous HiMedia Q5 Android box.

It is officially announced to be powered by HiSilicon 3718 STB chipset (HiSilicon is a subsidiary of Huawei), but the current Q5II boxes are very likely powered by the HiSilicon 3716c V200ES chipset, integrated with ARM Cortex-A9 1.6G Dual-core CPU and Mali-400 GPU, comes with IGB DDR3 RAM and 4GB NAND flash internal storage. It is running on Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS.

I got it with a promotional price of RM3xx, which is very attractive for an Android STB claimed to be the world's 1st dual core STB that supports 3D Blu-ray ISO replay.

Beside being a powerful media player that is able to play many kind of video, audio and picture format, this HiMedia Q5II also function as Internet TV STB preloaded with hundreds of China TV channels (Live TV), connected to major video streaming sites (HiTV). We can also install 3rd party media streaming apps such as XBMC onto it.

Being an Android box, we can also use it to browse the Internet with its web browser, run Android apps such as social media apps, Android games, etc.

Input wise, it has 3 USB ports, a 2-in-1 SD/MMC card reader, one SATA interface. It is able to connect to the network using network cable or 801.11N WiFi.

Beside normal 2D videos, it also support both side-by-side and up-and-down 3D videos.

It can link up with our computers and smart mobile devices using UPnP, Samba (Windows network sharing), NFS and UPnP. It can also interact with smart mobile devices using DLNA, AirPlay, Miracast and its own apps called HiControl and HiShare.

HiControl transforms our Android smartphone into a HiMedia remote control. By utilizing the sensors in the Android smartphone, we can use it to play motion sensing games on the TV.

HiShare enables the Android smartphone to share out its multimedia content onto the TV screen.

I use NFS to let my HiMedia Q5II to access the files in my PC. This is achieved by installing the haneWIN NFS server in my PC and put the files I want to share to HiMedia Q5II into the configured shared folder in the PC. The HiMedia Q5II can auto discover the NFS server and the shared folder, as long as the PC and the Q5II box are connected to the same LAN network.

You might notice that I put a G-Shark GS-NC860 tough cool laptop cooling fan pad below my HiMedia Q5II box. This cooling pad cost me RM25 only. Without the cooling pad, the HiMedia Q5II is pretty hot on its aluminium surface after switched on and running for some times.

The HiMedia Q5II has an intuitive GUI, which can be controlled by its own remote control or with Android smartphone installed with the HiControl app. You can also control it with 3rd party accessories such as air-mouse, game controller, keyboard, mouse, etc.

This is really a feature rich Android box, selling at an attractive price.

MyDigi and MyMaxis Android apps

Quite some times ago, Digi released MyDigi Android app for their postpaid and prepaid subscribers to manage their account, particularly to monitor their payment status and Internet quota usage. Prepaid users can also perform reloads with the app.

In order to use this MyDigi app, user need to have an active Online Customer Service (OCS) account, which Digi subscribers can register for one here:

Today, Digi has also released the MyDigi mobile app in Apple App Store and Windows Store beside Google Play store.

In early 2013, Maxis follow suit and released MyMaxis Android app for their Maxis postpaid and Hotlink subscribers. Beside Android, they have also released the app for iPhone/iPad and Blackberry Z10 subscribers as well.

However, the MyMaxis Android app is as bulky as 13MB (compared to only 2.8MB for MyDigi). Generally, MyDigi users give good comment with a rating of 4.1 to their app, while MyMaxis users have more complaint and only give it a 3.3 rating.

Celcom is yet to come out with their official mobile app for subscribers. This is pretty disappointing.

My YS-189 3-to-1 HDMI switcher

My 7-years-old LCD TV only has 1 HDMI port at its back, and I have 3 audio-visual devices that can connect to it with HDMI cable.

Previously, I used to unplug and re-plug the HDMI cable to the TV to switch among the AV devices to display onto the TV. Now, I no longer need to do that as I have bought a YS-189 3-to-1 HDMI switcher at the cost of around RM50 only.

This small little HDMI switch can accept up to 3 HDMI input ports and let us select one of them to output to the TV via its output port.

Selection of channel can be done by pressing the small button beside its LED I, II or III. It can also be done by pressing the button I, II or III on the remote control that comes together with it. Better still, this HDMI switch can intelligently switch itself to the correct channel if only one HDMI source is having signal (whereby one device is turned on while the other 2 devices are turned off).

Better still, this small little HDMI switch does not need to connect to any wall socket in order to function, as it can be powered by the power source from the HDMI input. It also comes with a DC 5V connector to receive additional power source, but no power adapter is supplied together with this HDMI switch.

The back of its packaging has quite comprehensive description about this product.

This YS-189 HDMI switcher serves it function well. It is cheap in price compared with most other HDMI switches available in the market.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fixed IE 10 unable to download, Windows Update not functioning, MS Excel web query broken problem

Recently, one of the harddisks in the RAID 1 storage of my PC had given out S.M.A.R.T warning, and I've replaced it with a new harddisk.

The RAID was successfully rebuilt with the new harddisk, but I noticed something was not functioning well:

  • The download function of Internet Explorer 10 in my Windows 7 stopped to work. Whenever I tried to download something, all the options in the IE 10 download prompt greyed out, and I can choose none of open, save nor cancel. In addition, pressing Ctrl-J in IE 10 to view downloads had no respond at all.
  • Windows Update also not functioning and unable to check for updates from Microsoft site.
  • All the web query links in my MS Excel worksheets were broken and unable to refresh data from the web.
These problems were fixed after I downloaded and installed the latest version of Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST)  RAID Driver from Intel Download Center.

If you are also having the same problem after you made change to your PC storage (i.e. replace harddisk, add new harddisk, etc.), hopefully this solution is also workable for you.

Inauspicious dates to avoid for wedding/marriage in 2015

I have posted the list of auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2015 quite some times ago, and here is the reverse, namely the inauspicious dates to avoid for wedding/marriage in 2015. The list below is produced based on the Chinese almanac Tong Shu. (Click the image to enlarge)

If you are concerned, then you should probably avoid getting married on the listed days above.

Bear in mind that although the Tong Shu is a compilation of Chinese astrology and calendaring studies gathering wisdom of thousands of years, we should use it wisely and rationally, but not be too superstitious on it.

Related articles:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2015

Many couples plan for their wedding more than 1 year ahead in order to have sufficient preparation time.

Here is the list of auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in year 2015 (year of Goat), which is produced based on the Chinese almanac Tong Shu. (Click the image to enlarge)

Bear in mind that although the Tong Shu is a compilation of Chinese astrology and calendaring studies gathering wisdom of thousands of years, we should use it wisely and rationally, but not be too superstitious on it.

Related articles:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How to fix portable air-cond "P2" error

If you have a portable air-cond, and one day it's compressor automatically shut off and stopped functioning, showing the error message "P2" on its display panel, don't be panic.

Your portable air-cond normally has a self-evaporative system to recycle the condensing water to cool the condenser. However, if the self-evaporative system is not functioning well, water collected at the container below the appliance will get full, and the portable air-cond will shut itself off with the "P2" message.

When you see this message, you can try to empty the water container by disconnecting the portable air-cond from wall socket, moving it to a place suitable to drain out the water (such as your bathroom or outside your house), then unplug the water draining outlet at the back bottom of the appliance to let the water flow out. You might need to tilt the portable air-cond a bit to ensure the water is totally drained out. Then, put back the drain plug to its original location.

You might also want to clean up the portable air-cond to ensure no blockage caused by dust or dirt inside the unit that might prevent the self-evaporative system from working efficiently.

Try switching on the portable air-cond again. It should function well if the "P2" error is really due to water tank full problem.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.