Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wise Auto Shutdown - Freeware to schedule automatic Windows shutdown / restart / log off / hybernate / sleep

You might be running something in your Windows PC and you want to go for sleep or go outdoor, therefore you need a simple tool to help you shutdown your computer at a scheduled time.

In another case, you might just want to automatically restart your Windows PC or server at midnight on daily basis.

Well, Wise Auto Shutdown is such a lightweight freeware tool that serves for this kind of purpose.

It has a very straightforward user interface for you to schedule for a shutdown / restart /log off / hibernate or sleep action with 4 options of triggering time as shown below:


Once you clicked on the Start Task button, this application will stay on your Windows System Tray waiting for the selected task to be triggered. You can always cancel its action before the task is triggered by opening it and turn it off by clicking on [X] to close the application.

Pretty handy, isn't it?


Friday, August 4, 2017

The trick to delete unwanted last empty page in Microsoft Word document that stubborn to be gone

If you have a Microsoft Word document with a table that ended until last line of of the page, and so happen that it is the last page of your document, you will find a blank empty page below which cannot be deleted.


This is because any table in Microsoft Word document must end with a paragraph mark, which is a non-printing character that normally won't show up in Print Layout view. This paragraph mark is required by the table and cannot be deleted unless you delete the entire table.

When the last line of the table reached the end of page, the paragraph mark will have no choice but to flow over to a new page below it, forming the last blank page. You can eliminate this last blank page by reducing the height of the table to leave some space for the paragraph mark to stay at the end of the same page, or alternatively, you can keep your table untouched and hide out this paragraph mark, which will magically make the last blank page disappear by itself.

The steps below is the method to hide out the paragraph mark at the last empty page so that there will be no last blank page when viewing the document on screen as well as when it is printed out.

Since the paragraph mark is normally invisible, we need to firstly display it on the page.

Inside the Paragraph ribbon under the Home tab of Microsoft Word, you will be able to find the paragraph mark toggle as shown below. Click to toggle it on.

 

Then, scroll to the last page which is the stubborn blank page, highlight that paragraph mark, right click and select Font...

 
The Font setting window will pop-up. Inside Effects setting, you can set the highlighted paragraph mark to be Hidden. Click OK when done.
 
 
Now, go back to the Paragraph ribbon and toggle the paragraph mark off. The last blank page will disappear.


That's the trick! The page is still there but is now hidden. It won't display out, and won't be printed out too.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Boost WiFi coverage with TP-Link RE450 AC1750 WiFi Range Extender

As I have more and more WiFi devices that support 5Ghz wireless band, I have upgraded my TP-Link TL-WA860RE range extender with a new TP-Link RE450 AC1750 range extender.


Running on Qualcomm Atheros QCA9558 (Scorpion) WiSoC platform, this range extender has 3 antennas (2 dBi) for 2.4Ghz network and another 3 antennas (3 dBi) for 5Ghz network. It supports MIMO 3x3:3 wireless with speed of up to 450 Mbps on 2.4GHz band and 1,300 Mbps on 5GHz band, totaling to 1,750 Mbps.

It has the same CPU with famous routers including Asus AC55U, TP-Link Archer C7, D-Link DIR-863, etc.

It is able to smartly allocate 1 antenna to communicate with upstream WiFi router, either using 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz network, while the other antennas serving the connected WiFi device. In this way, the effective bandwidth will not be halved as happened in the case of most WiFi range extenders.

It also supports "high speed mode" to use 1 band to send data and another to receive data concurrently, to optimize the overall WiFi speed and performance.

Its size is larger than my perception. The actual size is slightly larger than an adult's palm.


It comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port which can connect to a wired device or a network switch using network cable.

It has the modern TP-Link web user interface, and setting up is pretty easy. However, being easy to set up also comes with a trade off that there is not much advanced configuration for you to play around in the web user interface.


It allows you to control 3 ranges of WiFi signal power. You can also schedule to turn off its LED lights during certain period of the day.



Its maximum power consumption is only at 9W, which is about the same as an energy saving LED light bulb. You can schedule for it to automatically switch off at a particular time, and switch back on again at another time. This can save electricity during the time period when it is not likely to be used, such as during midnight.


This TP-Link RE450 range extender can be controlled and monitored from smartphone by using the TP-Link Tether app.


This WiFi range extender works pretty impressive, particularly in extending the reach and connection speed of 5Ghz WiFi network. I am quite impressed with its performance.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SoGoSurvey - free unlimited online survey platform for students

Nowadays there are quite a number of online survey platforms available in the Internet, many allow you to sign up a free trial account which will restrict you on the features and functions available, and most importantly, on these 3 crucial quotas:

  • The maximum number of surveys you can have.
  • The maximum number of questions per survey.
  • The maximum number of responses you can accept.
SoGoSurvey allows you to sign up a free for life Basic Plan account with 15 surveys, 30 questions and 125 responses, which is pretty generous compared with most of its competitors. With these combination of quotas, you can probably run 1 or 2 serious online surveys and perform in-depth analysis to the responses using its built-in reporting tool.



If you are a student and your coursework requires you to conduct surveys, good news is you can request to upgrade from Basic Plan to Student Plan for free,  provided you've fulfil some simple requirements (click here or here for more detail).

With a Student Plan account, you'll get all the features and functions available to their Plus Plan (click here or here for more detail of available plans and their comparison), and most importantly, you can now conduct unlimited surveys with unlimited questions and receive unlimited responses, for free. This will enable you to make use of SoGoSurvey to conduct all the surveys needed in your entire course of study.

If you need to use more advanced features and functions, you can also further upgrade to Pro or Enterprise plan with big student discount. Beside students, SoGoSurvey also provides special discount for academic institutions, universities and non-profit organizations.

There are at least 3 steps in using SoGoSurvey. First, you design your survey, either creating from scratch, or copy from existing, or making use of ready made template in Survey Bank.

 
Then, you publish your survey and distribute your invitation to your target respondents. You can have each of the target respondents having a unique URL to access to your online survey, or to use a shared general URL. After you've collected some data, you can start analysing the responses using the Report tool.

You can also export the data to your own computer for your own keeping and analysing/reporting using your own tool such as MS Excel, SPSS, PSPP, etc.

Beside putting up surveys with Survey Tool, there are also step-by-step Poll Tool and Assessment Tool for you to conduct poll and/or assessment, which structure is less complicated than a survey.

SoGoSurvey's designer is WYSIWYG type. You can create single-lingual, bi-lingual or even multi-lingual surveys with it. You can organize your survey questions into separate pages. The survey pages will show nicely on browser screen, tablet screen and smartphone screen, which you can preview in the designer.



Simple branching of questions is available in Basic Plan. More complex branching is available in Student Plan, Plus Plan and onwards.

You will see a green colour keyhole icon for all the features and functions not available in your current plan. For example, available and unavailable question types for Basic Plan is as below.



Once you successfully upgraded to Student Plan or Plus Plan, your available question types will become as below.


With the Student Plan / Plus Plan, you are able to generate 2-level or 3-level cross tab reports, which is very handy in analysing data with relationship, particularly when linked with demographics, such as "how many females agreed with this?" and even "how many females at age 18-24 agreed with this?".

Some remarkable features in SoGoSurvey that I like including:
  • It has an option to allow participants to print out a copy of their own survey response.
  • Even after the survey has gone live, minor editing to the survey, such as making change in wording, is still possible.
  • You can customize your survey's looks-and-feels by using the Visual Settings.
  • It can generate beautiful reports, enabling you to perform in-depth analysis to your data collected.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Investing in ICULS (loan stock) in Bursa Malaysia

When a public listed company wanted to raise fund from shareholders and/or investors, it can either do it by issuing new equities (rights issue, private placement) or by issuing new loans (ICULS, bond).

Normally, to encourage subscription, free warrants are attached together during issuance, which will be detached and traded individually in the share market upon listing.

ICULS (Irredeemable Convertible Unsecured Loan Stock) is a kind of loan stock with the following 3 features:

  • Irredeemable: you cannot redeem it for cash.
  • Convertible: you can convert it into ordinary share at any time before its expiry, using the predetermined conversion method(s).
  • Unsecured: it is not supported by any collateral. In the event of bankruptcy, there is no guarantee that you can get back any money from your loan stock holding.
On top of that, ICULS has the following entities in common:
  • Expiry: similar to warrants, the ICULS will be burnt and of no value after its expiry date, if not converted into ordinary share. There may be a mandatory forced conversion upon expiry.
  • Coupon rate: a predetermined fixed coupon interest rate, payable periodically at least once per year to its holder.
  • Conversion method(s): traditional ICULS comes with a conversion ratio for its conversion to ordinary share. For example, a 2:1 conversion ratio means you need to use 2 ICULS to get 1 ordinary share. Nowadays, certain ICULS also provides a second option for holder to convert 1 ICULS into 1 ordinary share, by paying a predetermined conversion price (similar way with warrants).
  • Premium/Discount: similar to warrants, the ICULS is trading with a price. When the ICULS conversion cost higher than its mother share price, it is said to have a premium. Otherwise, it is at a discount. If an ICULS has more than 1 conversion methods, each method will have individual premium/discount.
ICULS can give you the benefits of a bond that pays interest, until it is converted into equity.

For example, PUC-LA (0007LA) is a 3-years ICULS listed in Bursa Malaysia within the period of 2016-2019. Click here to read its profile for important information about this ICULS.


It has a nominal value of RM0.05 and a coupon rate of 4% per annum, payable on annual basis in arrears. This means if you have PUC-LA, you will get an interest payment of RM0.05 x 4% = RM0.002 per ICULS per year. If you have 1 million PUC-LA, you will get RM2,000 per annum as the interest payment.

Its maturity date is on 15 February 2019, which is 630 days from today (26 May 2017).

Its conversion price is RM0.10, which can be exercised using either one of these 2 options:
  • By using 2 ICULS (nominal value at RM0.05 each) to convert into 1 ordinary share.
  • By using 1 ICULS (nominal value at RM0.05) and top up RM0.05 cash to convert into 1 ordinary share.

Upon expiry, any remaining ICULS not converted will be mandatorily converted into new PUC shares at the conversion price (RM0.05).

Today, PUC share price closed at RM0.155 and PUC-LA closed at RM0.100.

For Option 1 (2 ICULS for 1 mother share):

RM0.100 x 2 = RM0.200.

Since mother share is only at RM0.155, it has a conversion premium of RM0.200 - RM0.155 = RM0.045.

Premium at percentage = 0.045/0.155 = 29.03%


For Option 2 (1 ICULS + RM0.05 for 1 mother share):

RM0.100 + RM0.05 = RM0.15

Since mother share has higher price at RM0.155, it has a conversion discount of RM0.155 - RM0.15 = RM0.005

Discount at percentage = 0.005/0.155 = 3.23%

If you want to convert now, definitely you will choose Option 2 for conversion.

If a stock has an ICULS and also a warrant at the same premium/discount rate, ICULS will be a better option because:
  • Warrant won't get any interest nor dividend, while ICULS will get interest despite not getting any dividend.
  • There is only one way to convert warrant to mother share, which is by paying the conversion price. For ICULS, there can be flexibly more than one ways.
  • Warrant will definitely be burnt upon expiry if not converted. Certain ICULS such as PUC-LA will not be burnt as there is a forced conversion mechanism upon expiry.
So, in what situation you can consider buying an ICULS?
  • When the ICULS is in the money (has zero premium or at discount), and mother share price has the tendency to move up. You will be benefited with the gearing effect.
  • When mother share does not declare dividend. You will get coupon interest in ICULS.
  • If there is a premium, when the expiry date is not too near from now.

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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How to remove all hyperlinks in Ms Powerpoint presentation file with one click

When you copy-and-paste a picture from your local disk or from Internet source to your Ms Powerpoint presentation slide, you might unconsciously also created an embedded hyperlink inside the picture which link back to its source.

You might want to remove/delete all those hyperlinks in your presentation slides, as you don't want them to surprise you (and your audiences) in the middle of your presentation, in case you accidentally clicked on the picture and it starts to open up your web browser, searching and connecting to the source of that picture.

Well, you can remove the hyperlinks one by one, by right clicking on the picture and select "Remove hyperlink" from the popup menu.


However, it will be extremely tedious and inconvenient, as Ms Powerpoint unable to tell you which picture got hyperlink and which one doesn't have. You will need to check and unlink all of them one by one, and you are very likely to miss out some of them.

Here is a method which enable you to remove all those hyperlinks in the entire Ms Powerpoint presentation file at one go.

In this method, you create a simple macro program to automatically remove all the hyperlinks one by one at the background, and report back how many hyperlinks removed when it finished. When you save your presentation file, the macro won't be saved together so your file remains clean.

Step 1: Open your Ms Powerpoint presentation file.

Step 2: Press Alt+F8. That will open the Macro window.

Step 3: Enter "Rmlinks" as macro name (or any name you like, as it is for temporary use only), and click the Create button.

Step 4: Copy and paste the following codes into your macro editor.

Sub Rmlinks()
 Dim slide As slide
 Dim index As Long
 Dim counter As Long
 counter = 0
 For Each slide In ActivePresentation.Slides
    For index = slide.Hyperlinks.Count To 1 Step -1
       slide.Hyperlinks(index).Delete
       counter = counter + 1
    Next index
 Next slide
 MsgBox ("Removed " + CStr(counter) + " link(s).")
End Sub


Step 5: Press the F5 button on your keyboard to run. If it pop up another window, just click on the Run button to run.

Step 6: Press OK after seeing the result of how many hyperlinks successfully removed.


Step 7: You can now close the Macro window by clicking on the [X] in red at its top right corner, the same way you close any other windows.

When you save your file, the following dialog box might appear. Just press the "Yes" button.


Now, you have your Ms Powerpoint presentation slides the same as before, but clean from all the unwanted hyperlinks.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The 5 Steps required to make your right decisions


Every now and then, we make decisions. Some are just small decision with minimal future effect, while some are significant and will change the history.

While we are aware that make the right decision is important, all of us cannot escape from having numerous occasions of making decisions which we regret later.

Patrick McDaniel of WiseInsights.net has written a report called "The Scientifically Proven 5 Step Process To Making Better, More Successful Decisions" which you can freely download here.

Below is my summary of what I've learnt from McDaniel's report.

1. Be open minded to all possibilities and options

  • If you have bias, your favoured choice could be a disaster.
  • Listen carefully to your inner self, or your God's guidance.
2. Expand your choices
  • Do not rely solely on single option, because that single option has 65% chance of likelihood leading to a bad decision.
  • Instead of looking through binoculars and fixating on the single, apparent option before you, it is better to take a 360 degree, 3-dimensional panoramic view of the situation and your possibilities.
  • Ways to increase your perceived options including:
    • Talk to others
    • Consider your opportunity costs
    • Remove the current option and think about what other way you could have
    • Mix and match possible options
3. Expose your bias
  • Don't be fooled by your own confirmation bias by:
    • Arguing the opposite with yourself
    • Seek a contrarian
    • Ask tough questions of your favoured option
    • Run a test to dip your toe in the water
4. Escape your emotion
  • Beware of your exposure effect (automatically and instinctively cling to the familiar).
  • Your fear of loss can be irrational.
  • You can be more rational by:
    • Prospecting the future
    • Defending your decision
    • Counselling others
5. Prepare for the worst
  • Beware of overconfident bias.
  • Run a premortem.
  • Set a tripwire, which could be time based or situation based.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hush Puppies Apparel warehouse sale 2017 @ Puchong

Redina Malaysia Sdn Bhd located at Jalan TPK 2/3, Taman Perindustrian Kinrara, Puchong, Selangor is having the Hush Puppies Apparel warehouse sale now, offering discount as high as 80%!

As usual, they have put up a big red Hugh Puppies balloon on top of the air of the location for you to locate their direction when you are near to them. You will also see banners along the roadside of Bukit Jalil Highway (a.k.a. Puchong-Sungai Besi Highway or Federal Route 217).

This promotion started on 28 April 2017 and will end on 7 May 2017. The opening time is 10am - 7pm daily.

 
If you purchased more than RM200 in a single receipt, you will get a free drinking bottle as gift.

If you pay using your Public Bank credit card, you will immediately get an additional 5% discount for all the items in your receipt. If your payment is above RM400 in that receipt, you can also claim a set of Easy Lock container at the Public Bank booth near to the entrance.

Items on sale are apparels for men, women, children and todders, which include Hush Puppies shirts, casualwears, pants, innerwears, underwears, socks, etc. There are also accessories, bags, luggage, stationeries, bed & bath, etc.

For the apparels, I found that for this round of Hush Puppies apparel warehouse sale, there are more items for women and girls than for men and boys.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

HLeBroking 1Trade - stock trading account with the best of both world

There are several types of stock trading account available for HLeBroking service provided by Hong Leong Investment Bank in Malaysia.

ValueTrade is a type of cash upfront account in which you can only buy with cash in trust account, with the advantage of low brokerage fee of 0.106% (including GST) and also interest to cash in trust account above RM1,000 at the rate of slightly lower than fixed deposit rate.

PowerTrade is a type of collaterized trading account which allows you to trade up to 2x cash in trust account and 2x share collateral value.

1Trade is a hybrid trading account that combine the best of both ValueTrade and PowerTrade. For 1Trade:

  • If your purchase contract is fully covered by cash in trust account, the brokerage fee is 0.106%, same as ValueTrade.
    • If you sell within T+3, your selling brokerage fee is also 0.106%.
    • If you sell within T+4 and T+7, your selling brokerage fee is 0.1908% if the transaction amount is above RM100k, less than that the brokerage fee is 0.4028%.
  • If you purchase without cash upfront, the brokerage fee is still 0.106% for day trading. If you don't sell within the same day, your brokerage fee will become 0.1908% (transaction amount is above RM100k) or 0.4028% (transaction amount is below RM100k). There will be force selling after T+7 if you still haven't settle the contract.
  • If you do day trading, the brokerage fee for both buy and sell transactions within the same day is 0.106%.
  • Regardless how the transaction is done, the minimum brokerage fee is RM8.48 including GST.
Therefore, with 1Trade account, you can:
  • Enjoy low brokerage rate for day trading and T+3 cash upfront buying.
  • Enjoy the flexibility of 2x trading limit like other collaterized ordinary trading account, with the trade-off of higher brokerage fee.
I would advise for you to stay disciplined with ValueTrade trading account if your overall portfolio value including cash and shares is below RM300k. If it is above and you got tendency to trade stock in amount of at least RM100k in a batch, then you can take advantage of 1Trade by converting to it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Instruction manual for S-Sport Coolboss 30m water resistant watch

I have bought an S-Sport Coolboss 30m water resistant watch for my small kid. This made in China watch cost only RM11 at online store.

It is splash proof but not water proof, which means it can resist rain water, but cannot be worn for diving.


This watch has 4 buttons:
  • L: Light
  • M: Mode
  • S: Start
  • R: Reset
It is pretty tricky to set the watch without referring to the instruction manual, and that manual is just a piece of paper.

I am copying down its important instruction here, just in case the paper cannot be found in the future. If you also have this watch (or similar Coolboss watches) and you lost its instruction manual, you can bookmark this page and come back to here for future reference.

Displaying the date:
  • In Normal Time mode, just press the "S" button to display current date.
Displaying the alarm time:
  • In Normal Time mode, just press the "R" button to show the alarm time currently set.
Switching time display between AM/PM and 24 hour mode:
  • In Normal Time mode, press "M" button 3 times to enter Time Adjustment mode.
  • Then, press "R" button 2 times to enter Hour Display Adjustment mode.
  • Press the "S" button to adjust the hour digit and the desired time display mode.
  • When finished, press "M" to return to Normal Time mode.
Adjusting the time:
  • In Normal Time mode, press "M" button 3 times to enter Time Adjustment mode.
  • When the second figure is blinking, press "S" to adjust the second value.
  • Press "R" to make the minute figure blinks, then press "S" to adjust the minute value.
  • Pressing "R" continuously will switch among the hour, day, month and weekday value to be adjusted. Use the "S" button to adjust the blinking figure.
  • Press "M" to return to Normal Time mode.
Setting the alarm time:
  • In Normal Time mode, press "M" 2 times to enter Alarm Adjustment mode.
  • Use the "R" button to toggle between hour and minute figure.
  • Use the "S" button to adjust the blinking figure.
  • Press "M" to return to Normal Time mode.
Using the stopwatch:
  • In Normal Time mode, press "M" 1 time to enter Stopwatch Function.
  • Press "S" button to start the stopwatch. Press "S" button again to stop the stopwatch.
  • Press "R" button to reset the stopwatch.
  • Press "M" to return to Normal Time mode.
Turn hourly chime on/off:
  • In Normal Time mode, press and hold the "R" button.
  • While holding the "R" button, press "M" button to toggle hourly chime on/off. When it is on, all the weekdays on top of the screen will have black background.
Turn alarm on/off:
  • In Normal Time mode, press and hold the "R" button.
  • While holding the "R" button, press "S" button to toggle alarm on/off. When it is on, the alarm indicator at the bottom will be shown.
Alarm snooze and stop:
  • When the alarm is chiming, press "S" button to snooze. The alarm will chime again after 5 minutes.
  • When the alarm is chiming, press "R" button to stop it.
Cold light lamp:
  • Press the "L" button, the cold light will be on for 3 seconds.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Repaired my Alpha Smart 18EP instant shower water heater

Few days ago, the Alpha Smart 18EP instant shower water heater in one of my bathrooms failed its start-up test. All its LEDs were blinking in red colour.

This water heater has different warranty period for different parts as follow:

  • Heating element: 5 years
  • Brushless DC motor: 5 years
  • Brushed AC motor: 1 year
  • Anti-leak tank: 10 years
  • Other internal parts: 1 year
My unit has already been used for more than 1 year. I tried my luck and called the company to send technician to my house for inspection and repair, which possibly cost much cheaper than buying and replacing with a new unit.

Alpha customer service supports reporting via Whatsapp, which I found is very convenient. You can find their Whatsapp / SMS number in this webpage. Alternatively, you can also report a problem using email or direct phone call too.

Since my water heater lifespan has already passed its 1 year warranty period, it cost me RM53 (including 6% GST) for them to dispatch a technician to my house for checking and repairing.

After the checking, a circuit board inside the water heater was found faulty and need replacement. That cost me another RM68 (including 6% GST).


So, the total cost of repair is RM121 (including 6% GST). This is indeed much cheaper than buying a replacement unit and get someone to change it for me.

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with their service, particularly the availability of Whatsapp as one of the customer service channel. Their respond is fast, and the repairing cost is reasonable. Now, my water heater is up and running again.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Converting video files to be playable from USB drive in Sony XAV-W650BT double DIN player

Sony XAV-W650BT is a decent double DIN (Duetch Industri Normen) car head unit with DVD player. It has all the functions you need: radio, USB, AUX, Bluetooth, NFC, DVD/VCD player, steering control support, reverse camera support, etc.

It is able to play 3 types of multimedia files in a USB thumb drive: MP3 music, JPEG photo, and XVID/MP4 video.

Playing MP3 music and viewing JPEG photo is pretty straightforward, but playing video file might need some conversion work done to its compatible format, as it will face difficulty playing video that exceeds its maximum supported video resolution of 720x576. It also requires the video to have compatible codec and frame rate.

The conversion can be performed using a free software called Freemake Video Converter.

You need to convert the video file into MP4 format, with the following custom settings:

  • Frame size: 720x576
  • Adjustment: Auto
  • Video codec: MPEG4
  • Frame rate: 30 fps
  • Audio codec: AAC
  • Bitrate: maximum 4096 kbps


Even if your source file is already in MP4 format, it might not work well with the head unit if the setting is different from the above. Therefore, conversion is still required to ensure it will work well.

Now, you can run your conversion and put your favourite music videos, movies (MV), recorded TV programmes, etc. into a USB thumb drive that can be played in your Sony XAV-W650BT or similar head unit in your car.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New 2017 formula to determine amount of EPF Account 1 money that can invest in Unit Trust funds

If you want to diversify the money in Account 1 of your Employees Provident Fund (EPF, a.k.a. KWSP) by taking it out to be managed by local Unit Trust fund managers and invest in EPF approved unit trust funds, which then invest in various markets locally or globally or both, depends on the funds' prospectus, the first thing you need to know is: what is the maximum amount of money you can take out from your EPF Account 1 to invest in those approved unit trust funds?

Begining 1 January 2017, EPF has enforced a new formula for this calculation, and the old formula used before was no longer valid.

While the old formula only allowed you to take out a maximum of 20% of your (Account 1 - Basic Savings) for unit trust investment, the new formula allows you to take out more. The maximum is now 30%.

The new table to calculate your Account 1 Basic Savings is as below:


For example, if you are borned in 1982 and your EPF Account 1 has RM100,000, your Basic Savings is RM50,000. Maximum amount you can take out for unit trust investment is (RM100k - RM50k) x 30% = RM50k x 30% = RM15k.

Same as before, you can withdraw your EPF Account 1 money for unit trust investment once every 3 months.

To make the case simple, assume that your EPF money does not increase.

Amount in Account 1 after the withdrawal = RM100k - RM15k = RM85k

3 months later...

Available amount for unit trust investment = (RM85k - RM50k) x 30% = RM10.5k.

You can continue the process every 3 months until your available amount for unit trust investment become zero or negative.

Note that:
  • Normally, there will be around 3% one time charges by the unit trust company for this kind of investment. Subsequent years' management fees of around 1.5% are reflected in the fund price.
  • Make sure at the end of the year, you are confident your fund can give you return higher than your EPF dividend. Otherwise, it is better to let your money stay in EPF.
  • You are not necessary to withdraw the maximum amount. Any amount less than the maximum allowed is OK.
  • You are not necessary to withdraw every 3 months. You can adjust the timing based on market conditions.
  • You are not necessary to invest into the same fund for each withdrawal. You can choose different fund to invest, as long as approved by EPF.
  • Once you sell out your unit trust, the money will go back to your EPF Account 1.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Neato XV-11 all floor robotic vacuum cleaner

Talking about robotic vacuum cleaner, you might first thought of the famous iRobot Roomba. It is fantastic but it is quite pricy too.

There are many other robotic vacuum cleaners available in the market now, but not so many can perform as good as the iRobot Roomba. I found Neato as the one which is much cheaper than iRobot and also many people commented that it performs even better than iRobot.

Neato has several ranges of robotic vacuum cleaners. I purchased the basic one called Neato XV-11 from Corvan Asia at the online price of RM1,732 only. This company normally selling this model at the price of RM1,888, so you have to patiently wait for special discount occasion to get the RM1,7xx price tag.


Unlike most other round-shape robotic vacuum cleaners, the Neato robots are D-shape, specially designed to clean the wall and furniture lining better.

The Neato XV-11 consists of 2 main parts: the robot vacuum itself, and its charging station. The robot is intelligent enough to be able to find this charging station provided there is no obstacle (leave at least 3 feet clear space) at the right, left and front of the charging station.


The robot will automatically find its way to this charging base whenever its battery is low, or when it has completed its vacuuming job. It will then recharge itself and get ready for the next mission.

When operate, the robot sounds like a hair dryer. Some people might find it a bit noisy, but thinking on the positive side, the noise enables us to locate the position of the robot easily. Sometimes it might need a little bit help from us to escape from being stuck in places with a lot of obstacles.

I noticed one interesting thing about this cute robot. It is able to step down from dining area to my kitchen floor, which is a bit lower. However, it is unable to climb back up to the dining area later to return to its base. It will keep on trying to climb up the level. A little help from me to lift it up, then it will continue with its journey.

Unlike most of the dumb robot vacuum you see in the market, this Neato XV-11 is really intelligent with a laser based navigation system. It has eyes to scan through your house layout and furniture position, then plan its path to vacuum in a systematic way. You won't find it wandering randomly like those dumb robots. It will seldom knock on something too, and it won't fell down from staircase, since its eyes are able to tell it to avoid hitting on walls and things, and not to fell down a cliff. I believe this is where I paid for its price, compared with those dumb robots that you can get at a few hundreds ringgit only.

The Neato XV-11 can be scheduled to work automatically at a user defined time. Its scheduler is by day of the week, so you can set different schedule for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The limitation is only one schedule can be set for one day. Anyhow, you can always press the Start button for it to work immediately outside the scheduled time.

The dust, dirt and debris collected are stored in its transparent plastic container, which is pretty easy to take out and clean.

Like some other robot vacuum, we can use magnetic stripe to block it from going to the region which it not suppose to go, such as the bathroom. Note that this Neato XV-11 works indoor on dry floor. Excessive water on the floor might cause damage to the robot, so bathroom with potential wet floor is its forbidden place.

One thing I don't like about this Neato XV-11 is that its battery is of NiMH type, which is considered old battery technology. Neato does produce robots that use Li-ion battery for its higher end models, at more expensive price.

Corvan Asia is giving a generous 5 years warranty plus 5 years of free yearly service to Neato robots, which I think is irresistible to bring home this robot vacuum at such a good price. Currently, the seller is also giving an upgrade from normal brush to combo brush to its online buyers, and an upgrade from normal filter to HEPA filter to buyers who reviewed and rated the Neato product at the e-Commerce website where it was bought.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Online renewing Malaysian passport with MyONLINE*PASPORT website

Renewing Malaysian passport at the immigration office has been a time consuming process that can easily cost you half a day to even a full day.

The good news is: now Malaysian can renew their passport using the online service provided by the  MyONLINE*PASPORT website.




With this service, you can complete your password renewal application, together with its payment, anytime and anywhere by using your web browser. Then, you just need to go to the immigration office of your choice to collect your new passport, which will take you probably less than 30 minutes counted from the time you step in the immigration office.

The prerequisites to use this online passport renewal service for Malaysian are as below:
  • You must have a valid Malaysian passport with electronic chip.
  • For children under 18, the renewal applicant must be the same person who applied for the existing passport.
  • You must get ready a JPG file of your recent passport size photo that fulfil the requirement, to be uploaded during the online renewal application.
  • You must have a valid credit card to make online payment.
  • You must have a printer to print out the receipt, to be used to collect your new passport at the immigration office.
The steps are as follow:
  • Get ready your photo.
  • Use your web browser to go to MyONLINE*PASPORT website.
  • Read the terms and conditions, and click on the "Agree" button.
  • A popup window will appear, click on the "OK" button.
  • Fill in your existing passport and IC detail. Specify your choice of location to collect your new password. Search for your passport detail in the system.
  • Fill in the online application form, upload your photo, and submit your application.
  • Make online payment using your credit card. For normal 5-year Malaysian passport, the fee is RM200. Senior citizens above 60 years old will get 50% discount.
  • Print out the receipt.
  • Bring the receipt, your existing passport and your IC to the designated location to collect your new passport.
You can also go to the same website to check for your passport renewal application status.

It seems that many are still unaware about this online passport renewal website, because the website currently shows the number of online application so far is only 3380. Feel free to bookmark this article and share it with your family, relatives, friends and colleagues.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mobile LTE network: moving forward from 4G to 5G

5G is the next generation mobile network coming after the current 4G LTE-Advanced. It is still under research and development, but we can expect it to hit the market in near future.

What can we expect from 5G enhancement from the current 4G technology?

  • Up to 1000 times increase in bandwidth per unit area
  • Up to 100 times more connected devices
  • Up to 10 Gbps connection speed to mobile devices in the field (see picture below for comparison with older technologies)
  • Perceived network availability of 99.999%
  • Perceived 100% network coverage
  • Maximum of only 1ms end-to-end round trip latency delay
  • Up to 90% reduction in network energy utilization


So, 5G is the next generation mobile technology well prepared for the world of IoT, with significantly improved bandwidth, connection speed, stability, reliability, coverage, etc.

With 5G, the necessity of laying fibre landline will be greatly reduced. The world will truly enter into Gigabit Internet era.

Huawei which has just received the "Outstanding Contribution for LTE Evolution to 5G" award at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 is among the industry leaders who lead in the worldwide 5G development. (Unfortunately to investors, Huawei is not a public listed company)

Monday, February 20, 2017

EPF declared 5.70% dividend for 2016

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF, a.k.a. KWSP) has just declared the dividend rate for financial year 2016 to be 5.70%, which is 11% lower than the 6.40% dividend declared for 2015 (last year).

Calculation: (5.70-6.40)/6.40 = -0.70/6.40 = -11%

This is the 2nd year of dividend decline since the historical highest dividend payout of 6.75% declared for 2014.


If you have already registered as an EPF i-Akaun member to access your EPF account detail with their online service, you can login to your online account now and check the actual amount of dividend in RM added to your EPF account by viewing your 2016 online statement.

With this dividend rate, it seems that those who have withdrawn their EPF Account II savings to reduce their housing loan during 2016 might be regreted to do so, as the effective mortgage rate is generally lower than 5.70% in 2016, due to a lower housing loan financing rate along the year (around 4.35% offered by most banks).

If you have withdrawn your EPF Account I savings for investment in unit trust or fund, your fund manager has outperformed EPF if your 2016 ROI in the fund is greater than 5.70%. Otherwise, you might want to meet up with your unit trust agent or fund manager to find out what's wrong.

Note that in 2016, EPF has recognized a net impairment amounting of RM8.17 billion, compared with RM3.07 billion in 2015 to reflect lower equity prices (meaning, paper lost in share market)!

If you had gain money (had positive return) in share market during 2016, you were indeed doing better than the fund managers of EPF in share market investing.


Monday, February 13, 2017

PTPTN announced 2016 dividend for SSPN-i and SSPN-i Plus

The Malaysia National Higher Education Fund (Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional, PTPTN) has just announced dividend for year 2016 for both the education savings schemes SSPN-i (Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional) and SSPN-i Plus respectively on 13 February 2017.

The 2016 SSPN-i and SSPN-I Plus dividend payout rate is 4%, amounting to RM76.74 million. This rate is the same as previous payout for 2015.

According to PTPTN, the number of SSPN-i accounts opened to date is 2.7 million, with deposits amounting to above RM2.6 billion.

There are only 53 thousand SSPN-i Plus accounts opened since its launch on 8 June 2015, and the deposited amount is RM15.8 million.

Historical SSPN-i dividend payout rate is as below:

  • 2016: 4.00%
  • 2015: 4.00%
  • 2014: 4.25%
  • 2013: 4.25%
  • 2012: 4.25%
  • 2011: 3.75%
  • 2010: 3.25%
  • 2009: 2.50%
  • 2008: 4.00%
  • 2007: 4.00%
  • 2006: 4.00%
  • 2005: 4.00%
  • 2004: 3.00%

You can proceed to the Online SSPN-i Statement of Account website for checking of the transactions and amount of savings in your kid's SSPN-i account.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A family trip to Kuala Sepetang (Port Weld), Perak

Kuala Sepetang is a fishing village located just 16km at the west of Taiping, Perak, Malaysia. It is about 72km drive from Ipoh, and 99km drive from Penang. Nearer to the confluence is a Chinese village which most of the houses are wooden and built half on top of the water and half on the landside. There is also a Malay village (a.k.a. kampung) at the adjacent inner land.

The Chinese village is pretty traditional. Most of the houses are wooden. There are several temples around the village. There is also a private independent petrol station at its center.

There are quite a few homestays available in Kuala Sepetang, of which most are not advertised in the Internet and they prefer to be contacted for booking information by phone. There is also a larger scale one called The Happy 8 Retreat @ Sepetang which is well advertised in most of the major online hotel booking websites in the Internet.

Right before arriving the 2 villages of Kuala Sepetang, there is a small junction on the left of the main road, leading to several charcoal factories. The larger and famous one is owned by Khay Hor Holdings Sdn. Bhd, which is free for tourists visit. They can also arrange a guide to explain about the charcoal manufacturing process to the visitors if the crowd is keen to know more about their operations.


There are quite a number of charcoal kilns inside the factory. The entrance (which is sealed as bullet shape on the whiter lower part of the kiln in the photo below) is taller than an adult.


Beside the factory is a small river, which mostly dried out during our visit. Right at the entrance of the factory, you can buy some charcoal soveniors, and a kind of unique natural vinegar with multiple functions.

After visited the charcoal factory, we went straight to our accomodation, which was the Happy 8 Retreats.


This wooden building with an eagle figure in front has already become a famous landmark of Kuala Sepetang. It is a multifunction building, which in front of it is a fishery wholesaller. Inside ground floor is the Happy 8 Retreat receptionist, lobby and dining area.

Do you notice the "cage" outside the wall, on top of the blue signboard? It is actually a lift, accessible from inside the building.

Its 1st floor is a Chinese restaurant named as Makanan Laut Kang Kao. 2nd floor onwards are the rooms of Happy 8 Retreat.


The Happy 8 Retreat at Sepetang is very artistic with wooden theme. Below is the photo of one of its dining table surrounded with decorative wooden designs. We had our next morning breakfast there. The breakfast was included in the accomodation package. It is fixed for each day, instead of buffet style.


Despite its rustic wooden theme, you might be surprised to find out this retreat is well equipped with modern contactless keycard system similar to those used in 5 star hotels.

Our room was river facing with a queen size bed below and 2 more single beds on top, big enough for family stay. The room is equipped with modern electrical system and attached with a modern toilet. WiFi password was provided and its signal was pretty strong and stable.


After settling down, we went to walk around the village.

There is a KTM train station sign which is another famous landmark in Sepetang, which formerly known as Port Weld. In fact, this is the 1st train station in Malaysia which commenced operation in 1885, with a short railway track connected to Taiping. Notice that during those good old days, the sign has 4 languages on it. Today, the train station has already ceased operation and the railway track had been demolished, leaving this sign as memorial.


Nearby, there is a Chinese hawker stall selling the famous curry mee, laksa, red bean drink, ice kacang, etc.


The stall opened at 3pm, and always crowded with long order queue. Outside the stall is another hawker selling prawn crackers which is pretty famous too.

Beside the riverbank, there is one multi-storey brick house which is actually one of the homestays. The price per room per night is RM100 only.

There are houses on both side of the river. We were told by the villager that last time, there was no road linking the 2 sides. Villagers need to take water transport to go over to the other side. A few years ago, a new bridge was built linking the 2 sides. Now the villagers can cross over to the other side by walking or riding on motorcycle, which brings much convenience to them. The photo below was taken at the middle of the bridge.


There are 2 kinds of boat owned by the villagers in Sepetang. One is the fishing boat, and another is the tour boat. Each of the fishing boats is marked with a large alphabet, either A, B or C. The villagers informed that boats of type A are for fishing in the sea, and the boats normally went out for a few days before returning; B is for prawns and crabs catching, while C is for clams and cockles catching.


We went for river sight-seeing on one of the tour boat. Tickets were sold at counters near the jetty.

The first destination is eagles feeding. There are many eagles at the spot hunting for food.


Then, we went to a floating fish farm for fish feeding activity. The fishes are breed in nested cubicles. The workers on the fish farm also shown us some wild animals found there, including puffer fish and horseshoe crab, for photo shooting.


Then, the boat brought us went along the village before returning to the jetty.

At night, we took another tour boat for fireflies seeing at the mangrove forest researve area, which departed at 7.30pm. The tour was slightly more than 1 hour. There were many fireflies on the trees at both side of the riverbank. The fireflies blinked synchronously, which is different from the asynchronous fireflies we saw in Cherating few years back.

The next day, we visited the mangrove forest reserve in the Matang Mangrove Eco-Educational Centre, located diagonally opposite the junction to the charcoal factory. This mangrove forest reserve is said to be the largest of it kind in Malaysia.


Before entering the mangrove forest reserve, we need to purchase ticket at the guard house. We were given a passbook which we can stamp at each of the visiting stations inside the forest. There were quite a lot of monkeys outside the guard house.



Jungle tracking inside the forest is pretty easy and should not be getting lost, as we just need to follow the wooden bridge built on top of the swampy forest to complete our track.


Deep inside the forest, there are also huts and houses for homestays, as well as camping area for campers.

There is also a jetty beside the river, with tour boat service going to sight seeing activity similar to those offerred by the tour boats at the Sepetang village.


If you are interested to have a trip to Kuala Sepetang, you can download the tourist map below (click to enlarge) to plan for your itinerary.


This trip of my family did not cover all the attractions. We didn't visit the Matang Museum nearby, we didn't visit the cockles factory, we didn't visit the Kuala Sangga fishing village, which is a small village only accessible by boat. We also didn't go for dolphin watching, as we were told that dolphin is hardly seen at the season.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

REMAX RC-FC1 handphone/GPS/tablet holder mount stand with magnetic charging cable for car dash or table top

I have just purchased this REMAX RC-FC1 car dash or table top mount stand for handphone, GPS, tablet or other similar gadgets. Beside being a mount stand for the mobile device, it also comes with a magnetic charging mechanism to keep the battery of the mobile device charged.


I found this REMAX RC-FC1 to be very innovative and useful. Its non-slip silicone base can stay firm even on curved surface.

It is very flexible and fit for most mobile devices up to 10" size and not too thick after wearing their case. If the mobile device is too thick, then it might not be able to slot into the 2 holders, which consist of 4 legs each to be attached into the holes of the base.

The base consist of multiple holes to make it very flexible to configure the holder position for different size of mobile device, which you can make them closer for smaller device or for upright screen display, and to make them further apart to support for larger device in landscape display mode.

The magnetic charging cable consists of 2 charging connectors: micro-USB for most Android devices, and Lightning connector for iPhones. Therefore, this car holder is suitable for all mobile devices that use either one of these 2 charging connectors.

The cable is 24cm long, which might be too short to reach the USB port of large tablet in portrait position. It is designed to be magnetically attached to the charging base, so that you can lift your phone or device from the holder without worrying of dragging the whole thing, as the cable will be easily detached from the base if you pull it too far away from the base, to reach your ear, for example. This will ensure the base is still staying firmly on its place, and nothing will be dropped or harmed due to the pulling.

The charging mechanism is essential for your phone or other mobile device to keep its screen on (in "car mode", if possible) and not worrying about its battery being drained out.

Although its main use is for putting your mobile device on car dash, you can also use it to place your phone or tablet on your table top at home or office. In this way, you can make your phone or tablet to be your digital clock / calendar / photo frame, or any other creative display gadget.

You might be interested to watch the video below to know more about this product and its usage.


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