Wednesday, October 18, 2017

REMAX RC-FC2 Letto handphone/GPS/tablet holder mount stand with 3-in-1 magnetic charging cable for car dash or table top

The REMAX RC-FC2 Letto car holder is apparently an upgraded version of the RC-FC1 holder.

It is improved to support 360 degree rotation for easy adjustment of the device's viewing angle. Its nickel metal plate can also lean forward and backward with 90 degree adjustment. It now comes with a 3-in-1 cable connector consisting lightning port, micro-USB port and USB Type-C port.

A sticky PU cushion is placed in front of its metal plate holder to hold the device placed on it at firm place to prevent dropping during situation such as emergency braking or sharp turning at high speed. Its round shape base is made of same material. This is how it looks like after assemble:

You can put it on your car dash, mainly for navigation purpose. You can also put it on your table top and act like a charging station.

It is strong enough to hold a 10" tablet firmly without much problem.

When you use navigation app that makes use on GPS function and will keep the screen always on, such as Waze or Google Maps navigation, your phone/tablet battery will drain out pretty fast.

The magnetic charging cable of the REMAX RC-FC2 is able to help you maintain the battery level or even to charge it to higher level. When charging, its LED light at the receptacle will turn red. When the device is fully charged, or the RC-FC2 is not performing charging action, the LED light at the receptacle is blue in colour.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Prolink PWP107G wireless presenter with air mouse function

Did you buy anything online during the recent #MYCYBERSALE event? I have bought a Prolink PWP107G wireless presenter with air mouse function at the cost of less than RM100.

This presenter is very straightforward and easy to use. Its wireless USB receiver is stored in a compartment at its bottom, which is plug-and-play in the Windows system.

In front of it, there are 6 buttons which their respective function is well explained behind the packaging front cover as well as in the user's manual booklet.

Its laser pointer button is located at the back, which can be easily controlled by your index finger.

At its right hand side, there are volume up and volume down buttons to control the sound volume.

At its left hand side, there is a power on/off toggle switch. You can switch it off when not in use, to save the battery lifespan.

Also come together inside the packaging box is a nice carrying pouch and 2 AAA alkaline batteries. It's documentation said that the 2 batteries can last for up to 100 hours of usage as a presenter, and up to 66 hours when its air mouse functions are also being used.

It works very will with Microsoft Powerpoint to start presentation (similar action to pressing F5 on keyboard), end presentation, page up, page down, blank the screen, and control the sound volume. However, it doesn't seems to work with LibreOffice Impress nor Adobe Acrobat Reader.

When it operates in air mouse mode, it works with all applications in Windows. You can use it to move the mouse cursor by your hand movement, and also to perform right click and left click with its respective button.

I would say it has all the necessary functions as a wireless presenter, with main limitation of only working well with Microsoft Powerpoint. At the same time, it is also a pretty nice air mouse which function similarly with a basic 2-button mouse. Yet at the same time, you can use it to control the sound volume.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book: How Business Works - A Graphical Guide to Business Success by DK

DK of Penguin Random House is a publisher that differentiate themselves by producing a series of books that are very colourful, full of graphics and charts, and not so wordy.

How Business Works - A Graphical Guide to Business Success is one of them. It explains many important business concepts in a fun, easy to understand way. Its content is up-to-date with today's business environment, covering topics about leading-edge information system, modern business practices and industry standards.

I find this book very suitable for the busy start-up entrepreneurs, students who are planning to go to business school, business school students who need a quick revision, traditional businessmen who want to keep abreast of today's business world, managers, investors, or anyone who are interested to know about how businesses in this 21st century work.

This book is divided into 4 major sections with their respective chapters as follow:

1. How Companies Work
  • Business ownership
  • Start-ups
  • Buying and selling business
  • Who's who
  • Corporate structure
  • Human resources
2. How Finance Works
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Measuring performance
  • Raising finance and capital
3. How Sales and Marketing Work
  • Marketing mix
  • Marketing approaches
  • Outbound marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Business development
  • Information management
4. How Operations and Production Work
  • Manufacturing and production
  • Management
  • Product
  • Control
  • Supply chain
This is how the pages content in the book look like:

This book is pretty comprehensive, covering a broad overview of essential business knowledge and concepts, though not going in-depth to the very detail.

One thing I found for this book to improve in future edition is that: in certain topics, it will mention about some interesting statistical statements, such as "44% of US companies had distinct CEO and chairman roles in 2012 - up from 21% in 2001". The book actually cited the sources of those statements in its Acknowledgements section at its very back, behind all the Index pages. While reading the book, readers like me have no idea about where are the sources of those statements because it is not mentioned anywhere that there is a "hidden" subsection called "sources of statistics, facts and quotes" under the Credits section inside its Acknowledgements. If you don't read until the last word of this book, you might possibly unaware of such subsection and wondering where the quotes are coming from. I suggest the editors of the book to mention about the location of this subsection in the Introduction so that we readers can be aware of it.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book: Cracking the Coding Interview (6th Edition) by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced software developer, if you are thinking about landing your dream job in the software engineering team of one of the world's top IT companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Palantir, etc., this is the book for you to get well prepared for your job interview.

In fact, this book is suitable for anyone who want to secure a software engineering job in the global IT industry, regardless of level from coder to development team lead to manager to even director or VP.

If you are already working in the industry, the author also alerts you that in the event your company undergoes acquisition or acquihire by those IT big gun companies, eg. the recent case of Google-HTC deal, existing staff of the acquired company (which could be including the CEO himself) are likely required to go through similar interview process, as "they don't want acquisitions to be an easy way into the company" (page 19).

The author, Gayle, is a talented software engineer herself, having working experience at Google, Microsoft and Apple. She had gone through the experiences of being an interviewee as well as interviewer in those companies. Now, she is the founder and CEO of consulting company

For computer science graduates, this book will walk through a very quick revision of the important topics you have already learnt and passed in your college, things like the Big "O", data structures (such as hash tables, linked list, stack, queue, tree, graph, etc.), algorithms (such as sorting, searching, bit manipulation, etc.), object-oriented design, system design with scalability, programming logic such as recursion, etc.

If you are not a computer science graduate but have learnt about computer programming and is eager to enter into the software engineering industry, these topics give you some idea of what your computer science graduated counterparts have gone through in their college studies (of course, the whole course covers much more topics than the above list. Those are just some of the fundamentals which they learnt during the first 2 years of their study). You might not be required to know in-depth of such knowledge to secure a software engineering job, such as how to apply them in assembler design, compiler design or operating system memory management design, but it is good for you to know the concept of those knowledge in order to pass the technical interview test. It is out of the scope of this book to teach you such topics. It highlighted them for you to pick up the knowledge from other sources such as computer science textbooks or online courses.

This book contains 189 programming questions and solutions to give you an idea of how you will be tested during your technical interview session. Well, don't be frightened by the questions as they are the level used at Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and those top-notch IT companies who only target to hire highly talented employees. You will probably be tested with less challenging questions, but yet within the domain of similar computer science knowledge. At least, you should be able to write simple function such as listing out the Fibonacci sequence.

Bear in mind that technical knowledge is just a portion of the interviewee assessment. There are other area of evaluation such as soft skills about handling ambiguity, customer focus, communication, passion for technology, teamwork, leadership, etc. before you are offered the job.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

KidoCode HoC Computer programming class for young children and teens

I came across KidoCode in an education fair. KidoCode is a computer coding and maths training center targeting children of age group from 6 to 18, founded by 2 Iranian (Hossein a.k.a. Unclecode and Maysam) who are very passionate in educating the young generation about computer programming, logical thinking and mathematics.

I have brought my kid to attend their 4 hours free trial class at their HQ in Solaris Mont Kiara (above Cold Storage supermarket). That 4 hours session enabled us to know more about them, took a look and feel about their learning environment, let the kid to have hands-on introductory class about computer programming, which included simple programming to create mobile app in an Android tablet, and electronic programming on an Arduino kit. This is essential to ensure the kid likes the learning environment and the curriculum before making decision whether to enrol with them or not.

Parallel with the kid's 4 hours free trial class, there was also a 1 hour session for parents for them to introduce their value proposition, their unique way of running the classes, curriculum and syllabus. I am pretty impressed with their holistic vision, mission and plans to train Asian children to be competent in computer programming for fun and profit (yes, they encourage entrepreneurship after the kid has created something awesome in their journey of codings). As a result, I have enrolled my kid to their 50 Hours of Code (HoC) programme.

The 50 HoC is an introductory course for the kid to build up the necessary foundation in computer programming. A minimum of 50 hours is allocated for the kid to complete the course. 50 hours is the minimum because they'll give bonus hours to the kid based on several promotional criterias, at no additional charge, which could added up to over 80 hours.

This 50 HoC introductory course comes with a K-Box which the kid can bring home for own practice and continuous development, which contains:

  • Arduino board with electronic components
  • Raspberry Pi 2 with WiFi adapter and Case
  • Android smartphone for mobile apps and games programming
  • Some free gifts

All the following subjects will be covered in the 50 HoC programme:
  • Python programming language with Turtle graphics using online KStudio IDE

  • Mobile apps development using MIT App Inventor
  • Electronics programming using Arduino and Raspberry Pi
  • Web development using Cloud9

  • Game programming
  • Information security

The HoC is consumed at KidoCode training centers. The kid will learn at his own pace. Fast learners will learn more in-depth and given more challenging exercises, while slow learners are still able to go through the breadth of learning though not as deep. Beside the kid, the parents (both father and mother) are also given the same amount of HoC at no additional charge, for them to optionally learn the same course together with their kid, and each of daddy, mummy and kid will be learning at their own respective pace and could go through different learning path.

KidoCode is opened from 10am to 10pm daily including weekends and public holidays. Other than the first Welcome Session which needs to make appointment prior to attending, the kid (and parents) can walk in anytime during the operating hours to consume their HoC. A dedicated computer will be allocated, and personal trainer will attend to the kid (and parents) throughout the session. Students can take their break at anytime, which will stop their HoC hour glass counter, only to resume when the break is over. Free flow of food and drinks is provided at the premise.

 After the 50 HoC course, the kid can proceed with more advanced courses including:
  • Code and maths (30 HoC)
  • Mobile apps development (100 HoC)
  • Electrogramming (80 HoC)
  • Game coding (70 HoC)
  • Web development (100 HoC)
  • Computer security and cryptography (40 HoC)
  • Geek coding (100 HoC)
  • BioInformatics (50 HoC)

You can find out more information about KidoCode by visiting to their website.

If you are also interested to attend their 4 hours free session, you can click here to locate the online registration form.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Education is possibly not the key factor to good income

On the basis of Professor Jesse Rothstein's research paper, American journalist Rachel M. Cohen has posted an interesting article in The Atlantic with argument that "Education Isn't the Key to a Good Income". Her article is based on the American society, which is pretty much recognized for its meritocracy culture.

Rachel's article has brought me to Jesse's earlier write-up posted in Washington Center for Equitable Growth website titled "There is more to equal access to a good education than sound school budgets" containing more insight about her research and findings.

So, are you having an equal chance to climb up the economic ladder with enough education and hard work? If this is not the case for America, what about the other parts of the world?

If education is not the key determinant of equitable economic opportunities across generations, what will be the more likely factor that can contribute to better income? Take a look in the diagram below.

Researcher opined that in this subject matter, the structure of the labour market is more likely to be a much bigger driver that the school quality.

It seems that the key determinant for labour income is the supply-demand factor of the skills matching with the market. Non-labour income and spousal earnings indeed play a significant part as the determinant too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CCleaner official download was hacked and infected version containing malware released to public - how to fix

CCleaner by Piriform (recently acquired by Avast) is a famous software that comes with both free and paid versions, made available to Windows, Mac and Android users to do housekeeping in their computer or Android smart mobile device to clean up junk files and junk registry entries, in order to optimize the computer to maintain running smoothly. It claims to have achieved over 2 billion of downloads now. There is also a cloud version available.

If your computer has CCleaner installed, you need to be aware that during the period between mid-August to mid-September 2017, the official download site of CCleaner was hacked, and the official CCleaner installer had been replaced with a version containing malware that will compromise your computer. The "contaminated" CCleaner version had been distributed to all the 3rd party download sites as well!

If you installed or updated your CCleaner with the version containing the malware, then your computer is infected.

This is a kind of supply chain attack, will is considered a very effective way to distribute malicious software into target organizations or general public. The attackers are relying on the trust relationship between the supplying source (such as official release source) and the consumer. This trust relationship is then abused to attack organizations and individuals.

Which versions are affected?

  • CCleaner v5.33.6162
  • CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191
It is said that the affected versions were for 32-bit Windows PCs, and the CCleaner for Android is probably safe. Newer official released versions of CCleaner (version 5.34 and above) are also safe as there will be no malware included (finger-crossed).

What the malware possibly do?

This malware was detected and reported separately by Cisco's Talos Intelligence Group and also the Morphisec's security team.

According to their analysis, this malware will collect information in your computer, including network connection detail, running processes, installed software, anything running with administrator privileges, etc. It will encrypt the information and send back to the hacker's server using HTTPS posting method.

The hacker's server can make use of backdoor created by the malware to send codes to be executed with administrator privileges at the infected computers.

How to fix?

If your Windows computer is installed with CCleaner, you should uninstall it immediately, regardless of the version. After that, if you still want to continue using CCleaner, you can download and reinstall the uninfected latest version (version 5.34 and above) from its official download site.

Reference sources:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Norton Family - parental control and monitoring software to enforce Internet house rules with kids

Norton Family is one of the bundled components in Norton Security Premium subscription offered by Symantec. There is also a standalone product called Norton Family Premier selling at cheaper subscription price but without other components in Norton Security bundle.

With an active subscription of Norton Family, you can install it in multiple devices (computers, smartphones and tablets) up to the maximum number as stated in the subscription package, for multiple headcount of kids.

With Norton Family, you can communicate with your kids and set individual house rules for them to use the computer and smart mobile devices, including what and where they are allowed and disallowed to access in the Internet.

Norton Family comes with a set of generic house rules for your kids according to their age group, which you can customize and fine tune further.

The house rules are formed by the following categories of supervision:
  • the kind of websites that are allowed and disallowed to visit
  • the time periods that are allowed to use the device
  • the maximum number of hours allowed for each individual day in the week to use the device
  • monitoring of keywords typed in search engines
  • content filtering for search engines
  • monitoring of social network activities
  • monitoring of online video streaming
  • monitoring of text messaging activities
  • monitoring of mobile apps installation and uninstallation
  • monitoring of device location

The default web supervision house rules by age is as below:

The default time supervision house rules by age is as below:

Norton Family will email you weekly and monthly reports about your kids' monitored Internet activities. Whenever there is possible violation of house rules, you will be informed too.

Norton Family is able to help you as parent to safeguard your kids from:
  • Getting addicted to computer and smart mobile devices by enforcing reasonable daily time limit.
  • Accessing to online information that you don't want them to access, such as 18+ contents.
  • Phishing, scamming and cyber-bullying by restricting leakage of personal information and monitoring of social network and messaging activities.
  • Installing or uninstalling mobile apps without your notice.
It can also track the device's location for you to know its whereabouts.

This software is no doubt loved by parents and hated by kids.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Geert Hofstede 6-Dimensions model of national culture

Professor Geert Hofstede, a well-known Dutch social psychologist, has devoted most of his life in a very comprehensive study of worldwide cultural differences and how the culture will influence the values in the workplace.

He analysed a large database of employee values scores collected by IBM, between 1967 and 1973, covering more than 70 countries, from which he first used the 40 largest only and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions. The study continues covering more and more countries and regions.

Hofstede defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others”.

He and his research fellows Gert Jan Hofstede and Michael Minkov have written some books to discuss and explain about his cultural studies, including:

  • Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, Third Edition (Business Skills and Development)
  • Culture′s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations
  • Masculinity and Femininity: The Taboo Dimension of National Cultures (Cross Cultural Psychology)
  • Cross-Cultural Analysis: The Science and Art of Comparing the World′s Modern Societies and Their Cultures

Hofstede's research team have developed the 6-dimensions model of national culture, deriving each dimension of a country by comparing many other countries in the world.

The 6 dimensions are:
  • Power distance - the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism - which people feel independent, as opposed to being interdependent as members of larger wholes.
  • Masculinity vs. Feminility - the extent to which the use of force in endorsed socially.
  • Uncertainty avoidance - deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.
  • Long-time orientation - deals with resistance to change.
  • Indulgence - about the good things in life.
Hofstede has put up a website for you to find out the 6 dimensions score of a particular country, with detail explanation of each of the 6 dimensions in the context of that country. In that website, you can even compare the 6 dimensions of a country with up to 2 other countries.

The URL of the said website is:

Interestingly, you will find out cultural differences exist among countries that are close with each others, such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

In fact, cultural differences also exist among China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which their society are all Chinese majority - supposingly should have a lot of common in culture.

And here is the comparison among India, Bangladesh and Pakistan...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Malaysia year 2018 national and state public holidays announced

The official 2018 national and state public holidays in Malaysia has been announced by Cabinet, Constitution and Inter-Government Relation Division (BKPP), Prime Minister Department.

There are 14 days of national holiday (12 national holidays, whereby Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa have 2 days of holiday respectively, and all the rest are 1 day).

3 of them fall on Friday, 2 fall on Saturday, 2 fall on Sunday, but none of them fall on Monday. However, there are 6 of them fall on Tuesday, so you will enjoy a long weekend if you take Monday off before the Tuesday public holiday. Most of the states will have around 4 state holidays in addition to the national holidays.

Chinese New Year falls on Friday and Saturday (16th and 17th January 2018). Hari Raya Puasa also falls on Friday and Saturday (15th and 16th June 2018). Deepavali falls on Tuesday (6 November 2018).
Click here to download the table of Malaysia year 2018 gazetted national and state public holidays.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Freeware to measure the true WiFi speed to your connected computer / smartphone / tablet

Although modern WiFi routers or access points nowadays are able to support gigabits per second of wireless connection speed with multi-bands MU-MIMO technology, the actual network speed obtained by your connected computer / smartphone / tablet is always lower than that maximum possible speed, and is determined by the following factors:

  • The location (which includes sub-factors of distance, obstacles and surrounding interference)
  • The wireless chipset used and its driver efficacy
  • The antenna quality
  • The amount of other devices concurrently connected and sharing the same WiFi router or access point, and their network activity

There are many software tools available to help you measure your Internet connection speed, which typically involve uploading and downloading a big file to a designated server in the Internet. However, software tools that are able to measure your WiFi connection speed within your LAN using similar method are still very rare. I will introduce you 2 of them, namely DownTester and LAN Speed Test (Lite).

DownTester by NirSoft is a lightweight freeware that is able to test the download speed but not the upload speed. It performs the download speed testing by using a URL, which you need to put a large file (recommended at least 200 MB) in the computer /smartphone / tablet to be tested running either one of FTP server, HTTP server or Windows network file sharing. The ability to test using FTP or HTTP server also means that DownTester is not only able to test your LAN connection speed, but also your Internet speed when you are testing with a server located in the Internet.

Normally if you are testing the WiFi speed to a Windows laptop, you can test using Windows network file sharing. If the laptop is running Linux, you can test using its FTP, HTTP or Samba service. If it is an Android smartphone or tablet, you can install the File Manager + app which include an FTP server in its "Access from PC" function.

Then, you just need to run DownTester from a Windows laptop or PC which connected to the same LAN with your WiFi network. DownTester even comes with a portable version which can run straight away without needed to have any installation.

The screenshot above shows the DownTester result of a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet, all connected to my WiFi network using 5GHz band from different location. Although the theoretical speed of the Wireless-AC network they are connected to is up to 433Mbps (single band) or 866Mbps (dual band), their actual download speed obtained is much lower.

One thing I noticed is that, if your device is too near to your WiFi router or access point (less than 2 meter), you will get a much lower speed than when you place it further away (yet not too far until the signal is weak).

By using DownTester and test for WiFi connection speed obtained in different locations in your premise, you can find out those locations with higher speed and those with lower speed for better planning (such as where to put your 8K super-high resolution smart TV that can run YouTube and stream video from Internet).

LAN Speed Test (Lite) by Totusoft is another lightweight freeware, and it is able to test both the upload and download speed to a computer connected to your WiFi. There is another paid version called LAN Speed Test which perform almost the same thing, so I think the freeware Lite version is good enough.

LAN Speed Test (Lite) will generate the file for testing, and is able to auto delete the file after testing, so you don't need to prepare for the file. It supports 2 modes of connection: using Windows network file sharing, or connecting to a LAN Speed Test Server running in the target computer. It does not support testing using FTP or HTTP.

If you are testing using the LAN Speed Test Server method, you can perform the testing across the Internet too. However, the LAN Speed Test Server is not free.

LAN Speed Test (Lite) is portable and does not need installation. It has both Windows and Mac version.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SPACE Analysis with Strategic Position and Action Evaluation Matrix

The SPACE (Strategic Position and Action Evaluation ) analysis developed by Alan Rowe, Richard Mason, Karl Dickel, Richard Mann and Robert Mockler is a strategic tool that can be used for strategic planning or to evaluate whether a strategic plan is making sense or not.

This analysis assesses 2 internal environments (Financial Strength and Competitive Advantage) and 2 external environments (Industry Attractiveness and Environmental Stability) and map them into a SPACE Matrix diagram. Based on the analysis, the strategic position of the company can be seen bias towards conservative, aggressive, competitive or defensive.

Factors affecting Financial Strength include:
  • Return on sales
  • Return on investment
  • Liquidity
  • Debt ratio
  • Available vs required capital
  • Cash flow
  • Inventory turnover
  • Use of economies of scale and experience
Factors affecting Competitive Advantage include:
  • Market share
  • Product range
  • Product quality
  • Product lifecycle
  • Innovation cycle
  • Customer loyalty
  • Cost levels
  • Vertical integration
  • Speed of new product introduction
Factors affecting Industry Attractiveness include:
  • Growth potential
  • Profit potential
  • Financial stability
  • Technological know-how
  • Resource utilization
  • Complexity of entering the industry
  • Labour productivity
  • Capacity utilization
  • Bargaining power of manufacturers
  • Customer power
Factors affecting Environmental Stability include:
  • Political uncertainty
  • Technological change
  • Inflation rate
  • Interest rate
  • Currency exchange rate
  • Demand volatility
  • Price range of competitive products
  • Price elasticity of demand
  • Pressure from the substitutes
  • Cyclical issues
A score of 0 to 6 is given for the company's strength in each of the factors for Financial Strength and Industry Attractiveness, and a score of -6 to 0 is given in each of the factors for Competitive Advantage and Environmental Stability. The higher the score, the stronger the company is in respect to the evaluated factor.

The score for each of the 4 environments is the average of all their underlying factors, which need to be plotted at their respective axis. Then, 4 lines are drawn joining all the dots.

The quadrant with the largest area of the drawn quadrilateral shows the favourable strategic position to be taken.

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
       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.

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