Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A family trip to South Island of New Zealand

Isolated from the rest of the world, New Zealand is a beautiful country with amazing sceneries, flora and fauna. The outdoor scenes of the movies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits were taken in the beautiful scenic places in New Zealand. The people living there are generally friendly, sincere and helpful to visitors too.

Being an agricultural country, you can also see a number of sheep, cows, and sometimes horses eating grasses on vast farmlands. It is said that the population of these livestock is more than the population of people in New Zealand.

After landed at Christchurch International Airport, we were picked up by the free shuttle van from Airport Gateway Motel which we stayed that day. After check-in, the motel was kind enough to shuttle us to Juicy Rentals nearby the airport, where we rented an MPV as our transport throughout our tour in New Zealand.

We ate a very relaxing breakfast at Terra Viva Café & Deli nearby Juicy Rentals. The Café is attached with a beautiful garden with lots of flowers.

We visited the Canterbury Museum, which exhibits the Maori culture, Asian arts, dinosaurs, birds and Antarctic lives, a young lady mummy, meteorite stone, etc. There is also a historical Victorian Christchurch street near its exit.

We had picnic in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens located next to the Canterbury Museum. There is a river in the botanic gardens, and you could see flock of ducks and birds living in the habitat.

Eating in restaurant or café in New Zealand is pretty expensive, so most of the time we prefer to do our own cooking in the place we stayed. Groceries can be purchased at hypermarkets such as New World, Countdown, etc.

We visited Re:Start, a shopping mall where shops are made out of cargo containers. We also visited the Cardboard Cathedral Church. The roof of this church is made out of cardboards. It is a transitional church building, as the original Cathedral Church was badly damaged in an earthquake happened in 2011. Near to the church are hundreds of white chairs, installed there in memorial to the death killed by that earthquake in 2011.

We visited the Ohoka Farmer's Market on our way from Christchurch to Rangiora. There are lovely people, nice food and fresh vegetables.

We had a farm stay in a cottage house in Pete's Farm Stay. Pete brought us to walk around his farm, watched his dog Jessy shepherded his livestock, fed the lovely sheep, calves, alpacas and cows. He even demonstrated to us how he shears a sheep.

The next morning, we had breakfast with Pete's family in his lovely house, together with another family from Canada who also stayed at Pete's Farm.

Then, we travelled all the way south from Rangiora to Ohoka, Ashburton, Timaru and reached our destination Oamaru. We stayed at the Ambassador Motor Lodge.

We visited the Steampunk HQ museum located near to the Oamaru Harbour. It features the steam-powered technology of 19th century Victorian England.

We went to a viewing platform at Bushy Beach to watch the yellow-eyed penguins returning from sea. The platform is high up at a cliff, quite some distance away from the penguin landing beach. It is very windy and cold there. We only managed to see a few penguins.

Then we went to watch the blue penguins at Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. While watching penguins at Bushy Beach is free, watching penguins at the Colony requires purchase of entry ticket. But it worth the money, as we could see hundreds of small blue penguins returned from the sea, gathered together, queuing up and walking crossing the beach in front of us to return to their nests.

Departed from Oamaru, we went to see the big round rocks at the beach in Moeraki Boulders. We had our lunch in a nice seafood restaurant there.

We continued south to Dunedin, but we missed the opening hour of visiting Cadbury World. We also missed the departure hour of Dunedin scenic train tour. Anyhow, the Dunedin railway station is beautiful, and we took quite a lot of photos there.

We went to Baldwin Street, which is considered as the world's steepest residential street.

We continued our journey to Otago Peninsula, driving through kilometres of unpaved road at a swampy area, before we reached Bettys Bach. It is a waterfront cottage down a steep slope, with very nice scenic view. The slope is so deep that our luggage needed to be carried by an electrical lift connecting the small parking area on top with the cottage at the bottom.

There is a Larnach Castle in Otago Peninsula, but due to time constraint, we didn't enter into the castle. We went to Te Rauone Beach to watch the sea lions. The beach is very windy. We dodn't manage to see any sea lion that day.

We visited the Royal Albatross Centre and saw hundreds of albatross resting and flying around the place.

After that, we headed west to a small town beside a huge lake called Te Anau. We stayed in a nice lakeside holiday house there.

There is a Miles Better Pies bakery shop nearby that sells really delicious pies. There are also several souvenir shops that sell merchandises at reasonable price.

We drove north along the Fiordland National Park from Te Anau to Milford Sound for our cruise tour. It is a scenic highway with lots of sight seeing stop points, including the Mirror Lakes, Knobs Flat, The Divide, Hollyford Valley, Monkey Creek, The Chasm, etc. Our car passed through a long Homer Tunnel which only allows one way traffic at a time, controlled by traffic light at both side of the tunnel.

At Milford Sound, we went sight seeing on Mitre Peak Cruise.

On our way back, we visited the Underwater Observatory of Milford Discovery Centre.

We didn't have much choice for our lunch in Milford Sound. We found only one Blue Duck Café & Bar there. The food is quite nice, although a bit expensive.

Departed from Te Anau, our next destination was Queenstown. We stayed at Panorama Terrace apartment there.

Queenstown is a more dynamic and happening place in New Zealand, with bars and casino in the town centre. We had a fun time in Below Zero Ice Bar.

We went up Bob's Peak by riding on Skyline Gondola. Really very nice view up there.

Departed from Queenstown, we visited the historical Arrowtown nearby. There is nice ice-cream selling in Arrowtown, and a narrow Arrow River.

We also visited the Gibbston Valley Winery and had a nice wine tour in its large wine cave. We watched bungy jumps at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre.

We settled down in Manuka Crescent Motel in Wanaka. Wanaka is a small town at the shore of the beautiful Lake Wanaka. We walked from the motel to the town, following the track in Eely Point Recreational Reserve. There are beautiful pine trees and lupin flowers along the way, and also ducks and birds in the lake. Recreational fishing boats were sailing in the lake. At the other side of the lake, far far away, are ice mountains forming a beautiful scene.

We had our dinner at Bombay Palace Indian Restaurant. The food was really nice, but also pretty expensive.

I had an amazing 1 hour trial flight above the Mt Aspiring National Park and its surrounding with my flight instructor from Learn To Fly NZ. This is my first experience flying a plane on the sky!

We also visited the Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World before leaving Wanaka to Aoraki Mt Cook.

Before arriving Mt Cook, there is a very long Lake Pupaki. There are nice and fresh salmons selling in Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Shop beside the Lake Pupaki Information Centre, located at the south of Lake Pupaki.

We stayed in Hermitage Family Motel in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. There is free shuttle service to bring us to the Hermitage Hotel located about 800 meters away. Inside the hotel, there is a small museum with a 3D theatre and planetarium.

We just purchased the ticket once, and it entitled us for unlimited entry to the museum and theatre throughout our stay in the Hermitage. We watched the Primeval New Zealand documentary, Tycho to the Moon 3D cartoon, and Infinity Express.

We visited the Tasman Glacier terminal lake in our Glacier Explorers cruising tour.

We also walked into the Hooker Valley, a track that passed 3 suspension bridges and took us more than 4 hours from Hermitage Hotel to and fro. I noticed that even deep inside Hooker Valley, there was still one or two bars of handphone signal available.

Leaving Mt Cook, we headed east to Lake Tekapo and stayed in Lake Tekapo Motel.

We visited the heritage Church of Good Shepherd and the Mackenzie Sheep Dog Statue.

We had lunch at Kohan Japanese Restaurant and dinner at Thai Tekapo.

We planed to have stargazing at night at Mt John University Observatory, but the weather was too cloudy. Anyhow, we had nice coffee and ice-cream at the Astro Café there.

Before leaving Tekapo, we went to Tekapo Springs and soaked ourselves in the three tiered hot pools there.

Then, we drove to Geraldine and took the inland scenic route back to Christchurch. There are farms and farms and farms along the way.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

A family trip to Sydney, Australia

Sydney was the first place I visited in Southern Hemisphere.

The Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport Terminal 1 is very busy. When we are landing, we could see airplanes queuing up at the runway, taking turn to take off one by one.

There are a lot of arriving passengers queuing up at the immigration customs counters. Besides the Incoming Passenger Card, we are also required to fill up a Travel History Card for Ebola contingency tracking.

We stayed at Railway Square YHA hostel located next to the Central Railway Station. It is well equipped with a big self-catering kitchen, spacious dining area, laundry room with washing machines and clothes dryers, luggage lockers, and even a small swimming pool. We met with quite a lot of young people from around the world who stayed there too.

You might want to have a nice experience staying in the hostel room modified from train cabins, as shown below. We stayed in double room with attached private bathroom, which is located inside the building, beside the laundry room.

Chinatown is just nearby the Railway Square YHA hostel. The food there is pretty expensive.

We visited Circular Quay, which is the founding site for Sydney. There are several ways to go there from the Railway Square YHA hostel, which we've tried all below:
  • Taking the free shuttle bus number 555
  • Taking the non-free bus
  • Taking the double decker Cityrail train
We joined the I'm Free Tours city walk, guided by a young lady wearing a bright green I'm Free T-shirt. She brought us to various historical places around, which blended nicely with this modern city. She told us about The Rocks history, and the story behind various buildings we visited.

And we saw this sculpture named Still Life With Stone and Car by artist Jimmie Durham, created by dropping a large rock onto the car.

We had dinner at the famous Pancake On The Rocks near the Harbour Bridge.

There was Chuck Close art exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) which we wished to visit, but unfortunately we missed its opening time.

The next day, we went back to the harbour near Circular Quay, and took a ferry to go to Manly. There is nice ice-cream at Manly Wharf Pub and Restaurant.

Manly has nice beaches at both side of the Manly Corso street. We had a nice time at Shelly Beach, which really has a lot of shells on the beach.

This Sydney night view photo was taken from the ferry on our way back to Sydney Harbour. You might be amazed that the ferry has free WiFi service, even when it is travelling in the middle of the sea.

We also visited the Sydney Fish Market to enjoy the fresh seafood there. We went there by Sydney Light Rail tram.

There are a lot of seagulls at Sydney Harbours, near the Sydney Opera House, as well as at the Sydney Fish Market. They are not quite afraid of people close to them.

Another place we visited was Queen Victoria Building, which is a historical building with a historical lift in it. This building is now a shopping mall in Sydney.

We did planned to go to the Royal Botanic Gardens, but in the end couldn't make it.

Our Sydney trip was a short stay, before our journey to New Zealand.

You might probably be interested to also read about:
  1. Applying for ETA online to travel to Australia

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Comparison of the new Celcom First Basic plan with OPTIMISER and existing Celcom First plans

Celcom has just launched a new postpaid plan for smartphones with voice and data component, which has an OPTIMISER mechanism to provide flexibility for subscriber to use more data or more voice and SMS within a billing cycle.

Under the plan allocation, the subscriber is given a quota of 2 GB Internet data usage, 2 GB Celcom WiFi usage, 100 minutes voice call, and 100 SMS.

Once you have used all of your allocation above, OPTIMISER will automatically adjust to give you complimentary additional quota of either Internet or calls and SMS. You can either get an additional 2 GB of Internet data usage + 2 GB of Celcom WiFi usage, or additional of 150 minutes voice call + 150 SMS.

If your OPTIMISER allocation is also fully utilised, you will be charged 15 sen/minute for voice calls thereafter, and 15 sen per additional SMS. You can also get additional 1 GB Internet quota at the cost of RM15.

Lets compare this new Celcom First Basic plan with the existing Celcom First Prime plan with mAdvance data (probably no longer available for new subscription now), and the Celcom First One 5 GB data plan.

In the table above, you will notice that the Internet data quota increases from plan to plan, starting from 2 GB to 5 GB. When you get more Internet data quota, you will at the same time have less voice and SMS quota as a trade off.

It seems that the new Celcom First Basic plan with OPTIMISER is pretty good if you use more data than voice/SMS, but occasionally might need to use more voice/SMS in a particular month.

Anyhow, the Celcom First One 5GB plan is still the cheapest one if don't make a lot of calls and send very few SMS. I think nowadays we use more Whatsapp, Line and WeChat rather than sending conventional SMS/MMS, don't we?

If you are existing Celcom First Prime subscriber with mAdvance data plan, you can make use of the table above to consider whether you need to switch over to the new Celcom First Basic plan with OPTIMISER, or to stay along with your existing plan.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My SKROSS World Adapter MUV USB

If you travel to another country, it is a common problem that the power socket is of different type from your home country, and you need a power adapter as a converter to be able to plug in your electrical device to the wall socket.

My SKROSS World Adapter MUV USB designed in Switzerland (and made in Thailand) is my handy travel companion that can be used in more than 150 countries with its unique all-in-one sliders system.

It can be used with unearthed 2-pole devices, including charger for mobile phone, tablet, digital camera, GPS, razor, voice recorder, MP3 player, and even my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro multimode ultrabook laptop.

However, it cannot be used with earthed 3-pole devices which normally have higher power rating, such as hair dryer, water heater, etc.

It does not convert the input voltage, and can work under voltage between 100-250 volts with maximum current of 2.5 Amperes (maximum power of 2.5 x 250 = 625 Watts). This means that if your device can only operate with less than 125 volts, and you try to plug it into a 220 volts socket, it will get burnt.

The SKROSS World Adapter MUV USB has a built-in T2.5A 250V fuse, which will break the circuit if the power drained exceed its maximum limit.

The SKROSS World Adapter MUV USB also has 2 built-in USB charging ports, which provide up to 2,100 mA charging power. Therefore, it is capable to connect to 3 devices at the same time, when 2 are charging with its USB ports and another using its output socket.

If you have a lot of devices that need 2.1A or 2.4A fast charging, you can plug in the Belkin B2E027 4-port 2.4A full rate USB power charger to get more full rated USB charging ports.

This adapter comes with 2 years warranty. Its price of RM149 is not cheap, when compared with non-branded alternatives, but you can have more peace of mind using this branded Swiss product.

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Belkin B2E027 4-port 2.4A full rate USB power charger

With more and more mobile devices and gadgets at home, which commonly use Type A USB for battery recharging, I've bought a Belkin B2E027 4-port USB power charger to charge up to 4 devices at the same time.

This Belkin USB power charger doesn't come cheap, but it is not as expensive as it listed price which you can notice in the photo above. I bought it for RM88.

So, what's the different of this 4-port USB charger from other cheaper alternatives, other than the Belkin brand which is a symbol of reliability?

Firstly, all the 4 USB charging ports support fast charging up to 2.4 Amperes each at full rate. Therefore, all of them are equally capable to charge tablets, iPad, and other devices that need 2 Amperes charging which won't charge on the normal 1 Ampere USB charging port.

Secondly, it comes with a $2500 Connected Equipment Warranty from Belkin.

Thirdly, it is attached with a 6 feet long power cable. The advantage is, it can be place at a nice location some distance away from the wall socket. The disadvantage is, you might find the cable too long to keep, especially when you are on the way bringing it with you from one place to another.

However, its size of about 5x4 square inches is quite big and takes up some space on the table.

See it in action below, when one of the ports is in used...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Travel tips to New Zealand (South Island)

I have just completed a family vacation to South Island of New Zealand. Here are some travel tips that I would like to share with you, if you are going to travel to New Zealand too.


  • Even though I went there during near summer time, the weather most of the time is cold with temperature around 5-15 degree Celsius. You will experience cool breeze at places near the seaside or large lakeside. Therefore, warm jacket in your luggage is a must regardless which month you travel there.
  • The customs check at Christchurch airport is pretty strict. If they suspect you to bring in or bring out forbidden items in your bag, your bag will be quarantined for thorough checking. That will cost you quite a lot of time. Forbidden items include any liquid in your hand carry bag.

Tourist information:
  • Remember to collect a free copy of Arrival Magazine at the arrival hall of the international airport. You can find some coupons which is able to save you some activity cost in New Zealand.
  • In every major town and popular attractions, you will probably find the New Zealand visitor information center called i-Site. You can ask for information, make booking, and get free maps and tourist booklet there. The toilet at i-Site is also available for your use (the toilet in petrol stations, restaurants, shops, ... only open to their customer only, if made available)
  • Check for tickets at BookMe website for the attractions you plan to visit. You might be able to get discount price as high as 99% (in other words, pay only 1% for the ticket price).

Mobile telephony and Internet service:
  • Free WiFi is available at Christchurch airport. Need a simple web-based registration before use.
  • I purchased a Spark prepaid value pack SIM card at the price of $29 that come with 150 minutes talk time, 500MB data plan and unlimited SMS. The coverage is good, even got one or two bars of signal deep inside Mt Cook Hooker Valley. I always get the availability of Spark WiFi (free for Spark users, with daily quota of 1GB) at YHA various hostels, on top of the free WiFi provided by YHA.

On the road:
  • The best way to travel around is to rent a car. There are a few car rental companies near Christchurch Airport. You will need a valid driving license issued in your country. You won't encounter any traffic jam in New Zealand South Island, and there are a lot of road signboards along the way.
  • If you plan to rent a camper van, beware that it would be more difficult for you to find parking place. Besides, camper van can only park overnight at designated areas, normally located near major attractions.
  • If you plan to rent a car, a GPS navigator with most recent New Zealand maps will be very useful. The mobile Internet data plan there is expensive for high quota usage. I would advise you to bring a Garmin GPS with you instead of using online map and navigation apps in your smartphone.
  • The speed limit in town area is normally 50km/h only. The speed limit on highway is 100km/h. The highway speed limit that cross certain small towns is 80km/h.
  • There are kilometres of unpaved road in farm areas. If you want to avoid going into such route, set your GPS avoidance accordingly.
  • New Zealand drivers are generally courteous. Always follow the speed limit, obey the traffic light, give way to pedestrians at zebra crossing. 
  • I didn't see any highway toll in New Zealand South Island.
  • Passenger cars in New Zealand normally filled with RON-91 petrol. RON-95 is considered premium petrol in New Zealand. I didn't see any RON-97 or RON-99 pump there.

  • Most roadside parking is free, but has a maximum parking time from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Certain parking places in Christchurch need to be paid by feeding the machine nearby and display the parking ticket.
  • Parking at shopping mall such as Countdown also has maximum parking time.
  • Do not park exceeding the maximum time. You might get fined, and need to pay the penalty at the town council.

  • If you are looking for cheap accommodation with free WiFi internet facility, YHA hostel could be a good option. They are equipped with shared kitchen that have the necessary cooking utensils, dishes and glasses, coin operated washing machine and clothes dryer.
  • There are quite a lot of motels in New Zealand. Make your booking early while there is still vacancy available. Note that not all of them come with free WiFi and laundry facility. You need to find out the availability before confirming your booking.
  • If you want a motel that provide free shuttle service to pick you up from Christchurch airport to the motel during arrival, and from motel to Christchurch airport upon departure, and the pick-up time can be any time (even at midnight), try to look for Airport Gateway Motor Lodge.

  • The prices you see in New Zealand are inclusive 15% GST.
  •  If you want to buy honey or chocolates, the price in small town could be cheaper than the price in airport's duty free shops.
  • Don't forget there are discount coupons in Arrival Magazine, and Internet booking discount for certain activities at BookMe website.

Credit card:
  • Credit card can be used at most of the places.
  • Certain place will impost additional charge if you pay with credit card rather than cash.
  • The credit card security measure in New Zealand seems to be very loose. Sometimes the shop doesn't even need your signature. Internet transaction also not making use of the 3 digit validation code at the back of your card.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Applying for ETA online to travel to Australia

I am going to travel to Australia, and I need a visa to enter into the continent. The fastest and easiest way is to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online.

The ETA provides authorization for visitors holding a valid passport from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, Japan, Korea, USA or Canada to travel to and enter Australia.

The ETA is valid for 1 year from the date of application, or until the expiry date of your passport, whichever earlier. With an ETA, you will be able to have multiple entries to Australia until its expiry date. for each entry, you can stay in Australia for a period of up to 3 months.

The service charge to apply for an Australia ETA is AUD$20 payable online with credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, or JCB) when making the application. If your ETA is rejected for any reason, this service charge is non-refundable.

You need to be located outside Australia when making an ETA application. You need to provide your personal detail, contact detail and an email address to receive the letter of confirmation. If you are travelling with your family members staying in the same house, you might find it a bit cumbersome as you need to apply ETA for each of them, and need to repeatedly enter the same contact information (address, phone numbers, etc.)  during each of the ETA applications.

I received the email confirmation almost instantly after making the online credit card payment.

For each of the ETA applications, you will be given a reference number, enabling you to check for the ETA status and expiry date in the same website.

Click here to go to the Australia ETA application and checking website.

Conditions apply to the Australia ETA:
  • Working is not allowed.
  • Taking short term study course is allowed, but you must not study for more than 3 months.
  • You must be free from tuberculosis.
  • You must not have any criminal convictions.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ten questions you should ask during a job interview

The following is an inspiring list of 10 questions that job interviewee should ask during the interview session.

    1. How will this position change after I’ve been here a while?
    2. If this is not a new position where has the prior person gone? Did they get promoted or leave? How stable is the group that I am being hired for?
    3. How will you use my skills if the activity I am being hired for is stalled or something unexpected arises?
    4. What is the career path for this position? — to jobs with more responsibility? Management posts? Positions that require specific technical expertise?
    5. What is the project/product road-map for the next one to three years?
    6. What kind of training and support for ongoing education does the organization offer?
    7. Is there an open door policy to communicate with upper management levels within he organization?
    8. How will my role contribute to the overall mission of the company?
    9. What outcomes will you use to measure those contributions? What metrics will be in place to measure personal and team performance?
    10. Will I have opportunities to work directly with the line organization outside of my group?

Source: the blog of Janco Associates.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Index call warrants and put warrants listed in Bursa Malaysia

The stock market has gone volatile recently. During a volatile market, sometimes it could be a better option to trade on index warrant, which is a structured warrant that is issued by warrant issuer (such as CIMB, Maybank, RHB, Ambank, Kenanga, Macquarie, etc.) over an underlying stock market index, such as the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBMKLCI, 富时大马指数), Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (HSI, 恒生指数), etc.

There are 2 kinds of index warrants listed in Bursa Malaysia. If you feel bullish on the market, you can look into the call warrants, and if you feel bearish on the market, you can
 on the other hand look into the put warrants.

Each of the index warrants has the following information:

  • Expiry date: You can buy and sell the warrant in the market until its expiry date. Upon expiry, the warrant issuer will pay you money if your cash settlement amount is positive. Else, you will get nothing and your money invested in the warrant will be burnt.
  • Exercise level (a.k.a. strike level): the index points to exercise the warrant. For call warrant, the lower the better. For put warrant, the higher the better.
  • Exercise ratio: this is the leverage element of the warrant. It is the amount of warrants required to exercise one underlying index.
  • Settlement level: the index points on the settlement day.
The cash settlement amount (CSA) is calculated based on the formula below:

where FX Rate is the forex exchange rate to convert overseas index warrant settlement value to RM.

The current index warrants listed in Bursa Malaysia is as below:

It seems like FBMKLCI-HB deserves some attention. You will break even if bought it at RM0.145 and KLCI drops to 1753.50.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for sharing of point of view only. It is not an advice or recommendation to buy or sell any of the mentioned stock counters. You should do your own homework before trading in Bursa Malaysia.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inauspicious dates to avoid for wedding/marriage in 2016

I have posted the list of auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2016 quite some times ago, and here is the reverse, namely the inauspicious dates to avoid for wedding/marriage in 2016. 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:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2016

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 2016 (year of Monkey), 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:

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Edge forum on 2015 Economy and Investment Outlook

The Edge Malaysia is organizing a forum on 2015 Economy and Investment Outlook - Make Better Decisions.

Date: Saturday, 1 November 2014
Time: 10.00am - 12.30am
Venue: Security Commission Malaysia, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
Admission: Free

The speakers are:

  • Jason Chong from Manulife Asset Management Services Bhd
  • Chen Fan Fai from Eastspring Investment Bhd
  • Datuk Tong Kooi Ong from The Edge Media Group
Are you shocked with the recent market turbulence and want to listen to the view of these renowned fund managers and/or investors?

Click here for more information and online registration to The Edge forum on 2015 Economy and Investment Outlook.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fixed Windows 8 boot into black screen with mouse cursor problem

This morning, I found my laptop unable to boot up to Windows 8.

During boot up, it stuck at a black screen with mouse cursor. The mouse cursor is movable. There were harddisk activities which eventually stopped, and nothing happen next. No Windows logo shown, and no login screen.

I've tried the following but nothing worked:

  • Press ctrl-alt-del, nothing happened.
  • Press the Power key to turn off the laptop, then press the Power key again to start up. It went to the same situation.
  • Press F8, F12, shift-F12, etc. during boot up, nothing happened. There was no boot menu shown up.
I searched the Internet and found that this is a problem faced by many. I fixed it by having an abnormal power off in the black screen with mouse cursor, and let Windows heal itself during the next boot up progress.

To do so, unplug the power cable, and remove the laptop battery while it is still in the black screen with mouse cursor, after the harddisk activities stopped. Wait for 30 seconds, then put back the laptop battery and plug back the power cable. Press the Power key to turn on the laptop. Viola! Finally Windows is back to normal.

The key to this fix is that, you need to abnormally power off the system. The problem won't fix if you press the Power key to shutdown properly and restart.

I checked the Event Viewer, can't find anything logged about this problem. Microsoft, why your Windows always caught us by surprise, and yet left us clueless to troubleshoot the problem???

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Download and read the Handbook for Goods and Services Tax (GST) for Businesses

Malaysia government is going to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on 1 April 2015.

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department has published a Handbook for Goods and Services Tax (GST) for Businesses, which is a very good reference book for everyone in Malaysia to have better understanding about this upcoming GST. You can download its e-Book for free from their website.

Click here to download the Handbook for Goods and Services Tax (GST) for Businesses.

The content of this 183-pages handbook consists of:

1. Salient features of GST

  • What is GST?
  • Proposed GST model
  • Basic elements of GST
  • Registration for GST

2. Accounting for tax
  • Charging output tax
  • Entitlement of input tax
  • Apportionment rules
  • Credit note & adjustment
  • Debit note & adjustment
  • Bad debt & adjustment
  • Filing of GST return & payment
  • Record keeping 

3. Implementation of GST and business preparation
  • Preparation for implementation of GST
  • GST implications
  • Tax code
  • Business preparation for GST
  • Supplies spanning GST
  • Non reviewable contract
  • Special refund
Beside this handbook, you can also find many information about GST implementation in Malaysia from this official website:

Top 30 property developers in The Edge Malaysia Property Excellence Awards 2014

The Edge Malaysia has just announced the Top 10 winners in their Property Excellence Awards 2014, which are:

  • Sunway Bhd
  • Sime Darby Property Bhd
  • SP Setia Bhd
  • UEM Sunrise Bhd
  • Gamuda Bhd (Property Division)
  • Tropicana Corp Bhd
  • IGB Corp Bhd
  • Eastern & Oriental Bhd
  • Mah Sing Group Bhd
  • IOI Properties Bhd
Following the Top 10 winners above, the subsequent Top 11-30 are:
  • UOA Development Bhd
  • I&P Group Sdn Bhd
  • Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd
  • IJM Land Bhd
  • KLCC Property Holdings Bhd
  • Glomac Bhd
  • YTL Land & Dev. Bhd
  • Eco World Development Group Bhd
  • Naim Holdings Bhd
  • Bandar Raya Developments Bhd
  • WCT Land Sdn Bhd
  • Selangor Dredging Bhd
  • Wing Tai Malaysia Bhd
  • MKH Bhd
  • Paramount Corp Bhd
  • KSL Holdings Bhd
  • PJ Development Holdings Bhd
  • OSK Property Holdings Bhd
  • Plenitude Bhd
  • TA Global Bhd
Congratulation to the Sunway Group for winning this award. Besides, their Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat also won The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014 newsletter RM25 one year subscription special offer

In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of, this newsletter run by Mr. Tan Teng Boo is now having a special promotion of RM25 for one year subscription (normal price: RM720), a very generous 96.5% discount!

This newsletter, available in English and Chinese language, in printed and online platform, contains detail analysis of local and regional macroeconomics observation, their view on equity markets in Kuala Lumpur, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, company news and analysis, several stock portfolios, trading picks, etc.

Considering the amount of effort, intelligence and skill required to produce this weekly newsletter, I believe RM25 is really value for money for all stock investors in Malaysia.

For the printed version, postage charge is free if you choose ordinary POS Malaysia service, and you will need to pay extra for other faster and/or safer delivery service.

Even if you choose the ordinary mail option, you can still access the updated content online while waiting for your printed copy to reach your doorstep.

Click here to find out more detail and online subscription to the RM25/year special offer

Besides, Capital Dynamics is going to have their 2014 Investor Day on 11-12 October in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. You can click here for more detail and online registration to the event.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Full report for free download: ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia (June 2014)

Are you working in the ICT industry or as an ICT personnel in your organization? Or are you a student studying an ICT related subject now? If yes, you might be interested in this newly released  ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia (June 2014) by PIKOM in collaboration with Jobstreet and MDEC.

Given the orientation towards a service focus economy, the ICT Service (ICTS) segment in Malaysia is projected to register significant growth in 2014.

The ICTS segment grew at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.4%, lifting its value-added services from RM11.77 billion in 2000 to RM59.83 billion in 2013. The ICTS segment is poised to reach the mark of RM67.99 billion in 2014 by registering a repeat annual growth rate of 12.4%. In tandem, the share of ICTS in the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 3.3% to 6.4%, almost doubling over the period of 2000-2014.

The average monthly salary of an ICT professional in Malaysia in 2013 was RM7,152. This represents an increase of 7.2% from RM6,673 in 2012. The growth continues steadily, and this figure shows that ICT professionals in Malaysia, generally earn a higher salary in average than most other professionals.

The average salary over then past 3 years, by job category ranging from fresh graduates to senior management, is as below.

Interested to find out more detail? Click here to download the full report of ICT Job Market Outlook in Malaysia (June 2014).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Restrict apps network access in Android smartphones with Firewall Plus

Do you want to block the mobile advertisement from appearing in the screen of your standalone (can work locally without network connection) apps or games?

Do you feel suspicious and insecure when you discovered there are network activities from some of the apps installed in your smartphone, even though you didn't open them, or the apps suppose to work locally without the need of connecting to the network?

Would you like to restrict certain apps that consume a lot of network data usage, such as e-Magazines, e-Newspapers, etc., so that they can only use WiFi connection to access the network, and not using your precious mobile data plan?

If you have already rooted your Android device, you can install the free Firewall Plus.

I found this Firewall Plus very straightforward and easy to use, and it has a very small file size of 239kb only.

It will list down all the apps in your Android device, which you can select to allow the apps to have WiFi access, or 3G/4G mobile access, or both, or none, respectively.

It has 2 modes, the Blacklist mode is useful when you want to allow majority of the apps to have full network access, and the Whitelist mode is useful when you want to disallow network access to all the apps by default.

Firewall Plus works on top of the built-in iptables firewall in Android.

If you haven't rooted your Android device, you can also try another app called NoRoot Firewall. NoRoot Firewall leverages on the VPN function of your Android device to perform its firewall function, which I think is less efficient than Firewall Plus.

By the way, if you have installed 3G Watchdog or its Pro version in your Android device to monitor your network usage, it is able to show you the usage by apps very clearly.

Of course, you can also make use of the Data Manager inside the Android Kitkat system to check for network usage by apps.

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