Wednesday, December 28, 2016

MyCelcom Postpaid App to track your Celcom mobile usages

Celcom is now at the final stage of developing their MyCelcom Postpiad App for Android, for their Celcom First postpaid mobile plan users. Apparently, this mobile app is going to launch soon, and already available for free download in Google Play Store.

This is how it looks like:

The app shows your billing amount due, and you can pay your Celcom bill directly in the app. It is also able to show your last 6 months billing history.

With the app, you can instantly check your up to date usage of the current billing month on Internet data (free quota - weekdays, free quota - weekends & top-up quota), phone calls (free quota & pay per use), SMS (free quota & pay per use) and international roaming.

If you used up your free Internet data quota, you can also buy add-on Internet quota in the app (2GB for RM18).

You can get the detail information about your Celcom postpaid plan in the My Plan Details screen as below:

Last but not least, you can also use this app to check for your SIM card PUK number.

Click here to download the MyCelcom Postpaid App for Android.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

File Manager + the free, fast, easy to use file explorer with simple GUI and great features

What is the file explorer app you use in your Android smartphone? The stock is usually primitive, and the famous ES Explorer has gone complicated.

My choice is File Manager +, which has a simple, straightforward, easy to use GUI, yet packed with some great features.

There are quite a number of apps in Google Play Store named as File Manager, look for the icon above to locate the right one.

In a simple screen, this app shows you the available and used storage space in your phone's main storage, and external SD card, if any. It also categorizes the files stored in your phone into Images, Music, Videos, Documents, Apps, etc. for easy navigation and access.

It can even link to network storages in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive), or remotely access via Windows neighbourhood sharing, FTP, FTPS and SFTP access. It also provide an option for you to make your phone become an FTP server, so that its files in internal and external storage can be access from PC or any other FTP clients.

It also has a Storage Analysis function to examine the storage occupying percentage analysis, and list out the large files that have taken up a lot of storage space.


The good news is, this app of high usability with neat and clean user interface, is free for download and use, and it doesn't contain any ads too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How to open the menu / more options in Android devices without the menu navigation button?

One of the problem I faced with my Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 (10.1", S Pen, LTE, SM-P585Y) Android tablet is that, although it has a Home button, a "Recent Apps" button and a "Back" button, it doesn't come with a "Menu" button which certain apps rely on to bring up their More Options menu.

Anyhow, there is a workaround solution for this, by using the Accessibility Assistant Menu.

To enable this, go to Setting > Accessibility and select the "Dexterity and interaction" option.

Then, select the "Assistant menu" option inside the "Dexterity and interaction" menu.

Switch on the "Assistant menu", and you will see this floating action button appear on the screen:

Tap on it and you will be able to see the "More options" soft button.

In your app, tap on this "More options" to bring up and access into its menu settings.

You can switch off this "Assistant menu" after use. The floating action button will disappear from the screen when it is switched off.

My 10.1 inches Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 with S Pen and LTE phone function (SM-P585Y)

I used to read subscribed electronic magazines with my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet when I am on the move. In many occasions, I found its screen too small to display the text in the electronic magazines to be readable without having to enlarge the pages.

Recently, Samsung launched a new Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet with 10.1" TFT LCD screen that comes with S Pen and supports both WiFi and LTE cellular network. It has full phone feature and can be used for phone calling and SMS function too!

I found its price of around RM1,500 to be reasonable, and therefore bought one to serve for my electronic magazines reading.

This Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 with S Pen (model: SM-P585Y) is a mid-range Android tablet, powered by the Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7870 14nm processor.

Specification wise, it is much better than the 9.7" Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen and LTE support. The 9.7" version only has a screen resolution of 1024x768 while this 10.1" version one is 1920x1200. In addition, the 9.7" version has quad-core CPU and 2 GB RAM, while this 10.1" version has octa-core CPU and 3 GB RAM.

However, being a mid-range tablet, its specification is lower than the high spec Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (9.7", LTE). The S2 has 2048x1536 super AMOLED screen and more sensors, but doesn't have S Pen.

What I like about this Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 with S Pen (10.1", LTE)?
  • Its 10.1" screen is large among the tablets in the market.
  • It has a high capacity Li-ion battery of 7,300 mAh which can last for long hours of usage.
  • It supports multi-user usage, whereby each user can login with separate account.
  • It supports split window and also multiview for multitasking.
  • Its S Pen is nice for drawing or writing quick notes. Comes with S Command function too.
  • It has sufficient RAM to run smoothly.
  • Its price is reasonable.

What I dislike about this Samsung Galaxy Tab A 6 with S Pen (10.1", LTE)?
  • It does not have a "menu" navigation button, which need some software workaround to bring out the setting menu in some apps.
  • It is quite heavy, probably due to its high capacity battery. It is even heavier when its book cover case (EF-BP580) is put on.
  • It only has 16 GB internal storage, which is pretty small. Its official firmware does not support for Android 6 adoptable storage, so even if you add in a micro-SD card to expand its storage capacity, most of its storage usage is still residing within the small 16 GB internal storage.
  • It does not have accelerometer, fingerprint sensor, gyroscope, geo-magnetic sensor, infra red blaster, NFC, etc.
  • Although the Samsung Exynos 7870 supports LTE Cat.6, it only support LTE Cat.4.
  • It does not support 2x2 MIMO Wireless-A WiFi. Its maximum connection speed at 5Ghz WiFi is 433Mbps only instead of 866Mbps.

Electronic password protected money saving box

To encourage my kid to save pocket money with fun, I have bought him an electronic password protected money saving box.

This money saving box is designed to store both coins and notes. It is quite large, about 7 x 4 x 4.5 cubic inches.

It operates with 3 AA size batteries, to be inserted into its bottom compartment.

Coins are dropped from its top aperture, just like most ordinary piggy bank. Bank notes are to be inserted from its front aperture. Interestingly, this saving box will roll the bank notes into it, with similar effect of automated parking machine.

It has a revolving vault door with password protection, working similarly to a real safe. The password can be changed too.

On top of it is a small LED light, when switched on in darkness, can provide good enough illumination for putting in the coins and slotting in the bank notes.

Christmas and new year is around the corner. At the price of around RM60, perhaps this is a good choice as present to the kids.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Clean and sanitize my washing machine with Xin Juke tub cleaning powder

Washing machine is commonly used in modern household to help us wash and clean our clothes without much hassle.

Over time, external surface of the inner tub of the washing machine will develop many of these contaminations, which might in turn contaminate the clothes in it:

  • Residue of detergent
  • Lint
  • Dirt
  • Mildew
  • Fungal
  • Allergens
  • Bacteria (including staphylococcus aureus, escherichia coli, etc.)

Therefore, it is advisable to regularly clean and sanitize your washing machine.

You can DIY your own homemade washing machine tub cleaning formula by washing it with the following one-by-one:
  • Baking soda powder (1 tea cup + full tank of water)
  • White vinegar (2 tea cups + full tank of water)
  • Bleach (1 tea cup + full tank of water) 
I use Xin Juke tub cleaning powder for this purpose, one 90 gram packet at a time. Each 90 gram packet cost RM3.90 only. This washing machine cleaning power is suitable for both the top loaded and front loaded types of washing machine.

Using Xin Juke or other similar washing machine cleaning solution can save some hassle, time, and water used. The Xin Juke doesn't cost much too, although some other brand of similar solution might cost a lot.

The steps for using Xin Juke in top loading washing machine are:
  • Dissolve one to two packets of the powder into warm water of around 40~80 degree Celcius.
  • Fill up the washing machine with near full tank water.
  • Pour the Xin Juke solution into the tank. (Alternatively, you can combine the above 2 steps and skip this step, if you can fill the washing machine with warm water. The temperature is suitable to fully dissolve the Xin Juke powder)
  • Put in one to two pieces of cleaning cloth so that the washing machine not running with empty tub.
  • Operate the washing machine for about 10 minutes.
  • Stop the washing machine and let the cleaning solution to work for 3 to 4 hours in still water (but not too long until more than half a day)
  • There might be dirty substances floating on top of the water. Remove them.
  • Continue the washing cycle until it complete. You can use the "tub cleaning" washing cycle if your washing machine support this mode.

The steps for using Xin Juke in front loading washing machine are:
  • Pour one to two packets of the powder into the tub and close the door.
  • Put in one to two pieces of cleaning cloth so that the washing machine not running with empty tub.
  • Fill up half the tub with water, preferably warm water.
  • Operate the washing machine for about 10 minutes.
  • Stop the washing machine and let the cleaning solution to work for 3 to 4 hours in still water (but not too long until more than half a day)
  • Continue the washing cycle until it complete.
The steps are different because once the front loading washing machine is filled up with water, you can't simply open its door!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stock fundamental ranking and screening with James O'Shaughnessy Trending Value

James Patrick O’Shaughnessy is the founder of quantitative money management firm O'Shaughnessy Asset Management, LLC.

In 1996, he wrote the best selling book "What Works on Wall Street", which has now evolved to its 4th Edition.

In the 3rd Edition of this book published in 2005, O'Shaughnessy unveiled the Cornerstone Growth stock screening method, which is based on the following criteria:
  • Market capitalization >= $225 million
  • 3-month average daily share volume >= 100,000
  • Price-to-sales ratio <= 1.5
  • 3-month total return greater than the median return of Russell 3000 companies
  • 6-month total return greater than the median return of Russell 3000 companies
  • Trailing 12-month EPS > 0
  • Rank by highest 12-month total return
Subsequent to that, the 4th Edition of the book, published in 2011, introduced the improved Trending Value growth stock screening method, which claimed to achieved 21.19% annualized return over the 46-year period between 1964 and 2009.
Trending Value uses “value composite” (VC) instead of just the Price-to-sales ratio to measure stock undervaluation, which O'Shaughnessy described as "the top stock-market strategy of the past 50 years".

The value composite is composed of 6 value factors:
  • Price-to-Book
  • Price-to-Sales
  • Price-to-Cashflow
  • Price-to-Earnings
  • Shareholder Yield
Listed companies in a stock market are divided into 100 groups (percentiles) based on the 6 value factors above. If a company's price-to-book ratio is in the lowest 1% of the dataset, it gets a score of 1. For some ratios it's the other way around, for instance EBITDA/EV. If a company belongs to the highest 10%, it gets a score of 1. If a value is missing, it gets a score of 50.

The same calculation is repeated for each of the ratios and then their values are summed up together. Companies are again divided into 100 groups based on this score. This final result is the so-called value composite.

A value composite of 1 means that the company belongs to the 1% cheapest companies according to these factors.
In the next filtering process, only the top 10% stocks ranked according to this value composite score are selected. Then these stocks are further filtered by a momentum factor, i.e. the 6-month price index. The result is an extremely cheap group of stocks that have been on the rise during the last 6 months.
O'Shaughnessy tested 3 different value composite scores as follow:
  • VC1: based on the first 5 ratios only, excluding shareholder yield. By using this ratio his backtests showed a return of 17.18% annually.
  • VC2: based on all 6 ratios. O'Shaughnessy uses this ratio in his trended value screen since his backtests showed an improvement in overall annual compound return of 12 basis points to 17.3%, a reduced standard deviation and downside risk.
  • VC3: same as VC2 but the last ratio is replaced by buyback yield. Some investors are indifferent whether a company pays out a dividend or want to avoid these since they can be very heavily taxed. This VC generates an even higher return of 17.39% annually but with a slightly higher standard deviation compared to the VC2.
At the time of writing,  ValueSignals website ranked KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLMR.PK) with the following scores:
  • VC1: 1
  • VC2: 1
  • VC3: 1

The value factors of KLMR.PK compared with the entire market, the Industrials sector, the Transportation group, and the Airlines industry, respectively, is as below:

However, KLMR.PK only ranked at 4,842 in Magic Formula screening method:

Anyhow, it still has a respectably high Piotroski F-Score:

ValueSignals website provides a very handy and straightforward online service for systematic value investing to perform quantitative stock screening, stock comparison and stock information, currently covering as many as 33,600 stock counters listed in 44 countries around the world.

Beside O'Shaughnessy Value Composites, ValueSignals website is also able to perform screening (including multifactor cross-screening) of:
The screening can be performed across all stock counters, or limited to within certain regions,  countries, industries, etc.

As a user of ValueSignals, I recommend this website to all serious value investors and fund managers to boost your stock screening and selection process.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Top 30 property developers in The Edge Malaysia Property Excellence Awards 2016

The Edge Malaysia has just announced the Top 10 winners in their Property Excellence Awards 2016, which are:

  • SP Setia Bhd
  • IJM Land Bhd
  • Sunway Bhd
  • Sime Darby Property Bhd
  • Mah Sing Group Bhd
  • Eco World Development Group Bhd
  • UOA Development Bhd
  • Gamuda Bhd - Property Division
  • IGB Corp Bhd
  • UEM Sunrise Bhd

Following the Top 10 winners above, the subsequent Top 11-30 are:
  • IOI Properties Group Bhd
  • Tropicana Corp Bhd
  • Eastern & Oriental Bhd
  • Paramount Corp Bhd
  • MKH Bhd
  • WCT Land Sdn Bhd
  • Selangor Dredging Bhd
  • OSK Holdings Bhd
  • Glomac Bhd
  • Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd
  • KSL Holdings Bhd
  • Wing Tai Malaysia Bhd
  • Matrix Concepts Holding Bhd
  • TA Global Bhd
  • Sunsuria Bhd
  • YTL Land & Development Bhd
  • Guocoland (Malaysia) Bhd
  • Hua Yang Bhd
  • SHL Consolidated Bhd
  • I-Bhd
On top of that, Tan Sri FD Mansor and Datuk Richard Fong, both from Glomac Bhd, won the Outstanding Property Entrepreneur Award 2016.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stock fundamental ranking and screening with Greenblatt Magic Formula

In 2005, Joel Greenblatt published a book titled "The Little Book That Beats the Market" and introduced his Magic Formula value investing method to the world. The book was supposedly wrote to teach his own children, in his Jewish family, about investment. That book became a New York Times bestseller with over 300,000 copies in print.

In 2010, the books content was updated, and its new edition is now called "The Little Book That Still Beats the Market" which you can still find in bookstores (both physical and online) now.

Joel Greenblatt is a hedge fund manager running Gotham Asset Management (formerly known as Gotham Capital) which claimed to have achieved an impressive annualized return of 40% from 1985 to 2006. He is also an adjunct professor in Columbia Business School teaching the subject of "value and special situation investing".

Greenblatt operates the Value Investors Club website for value investors around the world to freely join and share investment ideas. Another website of him is Magic Formula Investing, which is a free online stock screener (for stocks listed in USA only) based on his Magic Formula.

In his book, Greenblatt explained that in order to get above-average returns, one should buy companies with above-average return on capital at below-average prices. To find those companies, he first filters the stocks by eliminating certain industries including Utilities and Financials, which he found not applicable to his Magic Formula.

After that, he narrows down the search by filtering the companies based on market capitalization. Greenblatt suggests to apply Magic Formula to companies with market capitalization of above US$50 million. You can adjust this filter to search between large caps, mid caps and small caps targets.

Then he ranks the remaining companies based on 2 ratios:
  • Earnings Yield
  • Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)

Earnings Yield = EBIT / EV


Enterprise Value (EV) = (Market Cap + Total Debt + Minority Interest + Preferred Stock − Cash & ST Investments)

and that:

ROIC = EBIT / (Net Fixed Assets + Net Working Capital)


Net Fixed Assets = (Total Assets - Total Current Assets - Goodwill)

Net Working Capital = (Current Assets − Current Liabilities)

There are reasons why Greenblatt uses ROIC in his Magic Formula instead of ROE or ROA or other similar return ratios, and Hurricane Capital has written an article to explain about this.

At the time of writing, ValueSignals website ranked Sandridge Mississippian Trust II (NYSE:SDR) which operates in oil and natural gas sector at the top of Greenblatt Magic Formula screening.

However, SDR only scored a low 3 in Piotroski F-Score.

If you apply both the screeners of Greenblatt Magic Formula and Piotroski F-Score now, you will find magicJack VocalTec Ltd. (NASDAQ:CALL) on top of the list.

It ranks #4 in Magic Formula screening result, and scored a 7 in Piotroski F-Score test.

This combined screening is expected to produce better result than just using a single screening factor.

ValueSignals website provides a very handy and straightforward online service for systematic value investing to perform quantitative stock screening, stock comparison and stock information, currently covering as many as 33,600 stock counters listed in 44 countries around the world.

Beside Greenblatt's Magic Formula, ValueSignals website is also able to perform screening (including multifactor cross-screening) of:
The screening can be performed across all stock counters, or limited to within certain regions,  countries, industries, etc.

As a user of ValueSignals, I recommend this website to all serious value investors and fund managers to boost your stock screening and selection process.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stock fundamental ranking and screening with Piotroski F-Score

Piotroski F-Score was introduced by Professor Joseph D. Piotroski in his paper titled "Value Investing: The Use of Historical Financial Statement Information to Separate Winners from Losers" published in January 2002 while he was teaching as an assistant professor in University of Chicago. He is now teaching in Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and has just promoted from associate professor to professor in 2016.

You can click here to download that interesting 39-pages paper written by Piotroski on his F-Score.

Piotroski backtested his F-Score screening method in his paper and concluded that by investing in the low price-to-book ratio companies filtered by the F-Score, one could have generated a 23% average yearly return from 1976 to 1996.

Today, Piotroski F-Score is used by quite a number of fund managers as well as individual investors in their value investment stock screening process. The F-Score has also been applied in many other academic papers and has so far proven to be effective for stock screening, especially when combined with other fundamental stock screening methods, such as Greenblatt's magic formula, etc.

A backtest by Olivier Dambrine (owner of MFIE Capital which operates the ValueSignals global stock screening website) revealed that a European stock portfolio establised by their Piotroski price-to-book screener is able to achieve an impressive 525% return between June 1999 and August 2011, while at the same period of time the  S&P600 Europe including net dividends has a return of -15%. You can click here to read that article written by Olivier Dambrine on 1 September 2011.

The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) also revealed in an article titled "2008 AAII Stock Screen Roundup: Piotroski Strategy Defeats the Bear" by Wayne A. Thorp that the F-Score was the only one of their 56 screening methodologies that had positive results in 2008 (up 32.6% on average across 5 stocks, versus -41.7% for all of the AAII strategies over the same period).

Piotroski F-Score is the sum of 9 binary (meaning, either 0 or 1) scores in 3 fundamental categories of the stock, as below:

  • Did the company make a profit during the last 12 months?
  • Did it generate any cash?
  • Was it more profitable compared to the prior year?
  • Did it make more cash than the reported profit?
Leverage, Liquidity and Source of Funds:
  • Did the company increase its relative LT debt compared to the prior year?
  • Did the company improve its ability to pay short-term liabilities  (debt and payables) with its short-term assets (cash, inventory, receivables)?
  • Was the company not required to issue new shares to pay for its future obligations?
Operating Efficiency:
  • Was the company able to improve its margins on sales?
  • Was the company able to improve productivity?
The above 9 criterias are tested by the following financial conditions, comparing the current year with previous year:
  • ROA > 0, EPS > 0
  • Operating cash flow > 0
  • ROA growth
  • Operating cash flow > Net profit
  • (Assets / LT Debt) increased
  • Current Ratio increased
  • Share Outstanding remains
  • Gross Profit Margin increases
  • Asset Turnover increases
An example of stock counter having full F-Score is Forrester Research Inc. (NASDAQ:FORR).

You might want to double check if the counter is consistently scoring high F-Score throughout the years, or has been improving from lower F-Score to higher F-Score across the period. Below is the historical Piotroski F-Score Scorecard of Forrester Research Inc. as presented by ValueSignals website.

The scorecard above shows that the F-Score of the stock counter improved from quarter to quarter, from 5 in 2013 eventually to 9 in mid-2016. It also indicates which out of the 9 criterias had passed or failed the test in each of the quarters.

ValueSignals website provides a very handy and straightforward online service for systematic value investing to perform quantitative stock screening, stock comparison and stock information, currently covering as many as 33,600 stock counters listed in 44 countries around the world.

Beside Piotroski F-Score, ValueSignals website is also able to perform screening (including multifactor cross-screening) of:
The screening can be performed across all stock counters, or limited to within certain regions,  countries, industries, etc.

As a user of ValueSignals, I recommend this website to all serious value investors and fund managers to boost your stock screening and selection process.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mcdodo 2-in-1 USB type-c and micro USB fast charging data cable

If you bought a latest smartphone that uses USB type-c connector instead of the old style micro USB, you might probably want to search for some 3rd party fast charging and data sync cable for it.

If you still possess other smart mobile devices that use micro USB, a 2-in-1 cable that supports both USB type-c and micro USB will be very nice. If you also have Apple iPhone, perhaps a 3-in-1 cable that supports USB type-c, micro USB and lightning will be even better.

For this reason, I have recently bought some Mcdodo brand 2-in-1 USB cables. They have another 3-in-1 model as well with the Apple lightning connector.

This cable is 1 meter long, and supports fast charging with 2.1A current output. One end of it is normal USB connector, and the other end of it is a micro USB connector. What makes it special is it also comes together with an adapter that tied with it, which can be connected to its micro USB connector to convert it for USB type-c connection.

It also comes with a handy silicon belt that can be used to tie the cable up nicely in an organized manner for easy carriage.

Its cable is insulated with thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material, which is robust, durable, anti-abrasion, anti-pull, anti-wrap and has high resistance to heat, oil, direct sunlight, flame, water, acid, alkali, alcohol, etc.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Top 10 database security threats

Databases are among the most valuable assets in the information system as they store valuable and vital data and records of the business. As such, they are also among the most interested place of intrusion for hackers, attempting to gain access to confidential and sensitive information from within.

California based cyber security solution provider Imperva has been consistently publishing the Top 10 Database Security Threats white paper every year.

From year 2013 until 2015, this top 10 database security threats remained as the same listing, with the same ranking, as below:

  • 1. Excessive and Unused Privileges
  • 2. Privilege Abuse
  • 3. Input Injection (SQL Injection)
  • 4. Malware
  • 5. Weak Audit Trail
  • 6. Storage Media Exposure
  • 7. Exploitation of Vulnerabilities and Misconfigured Databases
  • 8. Unmanaged Sensitive Data
  • 9. Denial of Service (DoS)
  • 10. Limited Security Expertise and Education
According to Imperva, the top 9 threats above can be addressed by using an automated Database Auditing and Protection (DAP) platform, which is an approach that improves security, simplifies compliance, and increases operational efficiency. The 10th threat is "human factor" by negligent employee or contractor.

The white paper outlined a multi-layered database security defence strategy encompassing:
  • Discovery and Assessment: to locate where database vulnerabilities and critical data reside.
  • User Rights Management: to identify excessive rights over sensitive data.
  • Monitoring and Blocking: to protect databases from attacks, unauthorized access, and theft of data.
  • Auditing: helps to demonstrate compliance with industry regulations.
  • Data Protection: to ensure data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Non-Technical Security: to instil and reinforce a culture of security awareness and preparedness.
"Failing to safeguard databases that store sensitive data can cripple your operations, result inregulatory violations, and destroy your brand. Understanding the top database threats and implementing the solutions outlined in this paper will enable you to recognize when you’re vulnerable or being attacked, maintain security best practices, and ensure that your most valuable assets are protected." -- Imperva, 2015

You can download the complete white paper to find out more detail of this interesting defence strategy.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pisen TS-D192 4-in-1 presentation laser pointer pen and power bank (2nd generation)

If you do a lot of public presentation or classroom lecturing, you will find a presentation laser pointer pen as a very useful gadget for you to remotely control the flow of your presentation which run from your laptop and projected on a screen, as well as using its laser pointer to draw the audients' focus onto a particular area in your presentation screen.

I am using the Pisen TS-D192 4-in-1 presentation laser pointer pen and power bank for that purpose. In fact, it is more than just a presenter pen, it is also a 2,500 mAh power bank. It cost around RM70.

The Pisen TS-D192 has 3 buttons and can serve 4 features:
  • Laser pointer
  • Presentation remote controller
  • Video remote controller
  • Power bank

When you press its middle button, it will shoot up a red laser beam, with a long shooting range of up to 100 meters.

This Pisen TS-D192 comes with a nano USB receiver, which you can plug into your computer's USB port. It is really plug-and-play and can function immediately in Windows XP and above, even without the need of installing driver.

Its wireless transmission is using 2.4 GHz frequency band, with effective transmission range of about 10 meters. Unlike those infrared presenters that you need to aim the pen to the receiver, this Pisen TS-D192 which use 2.4 GHz wireless technology can work well regardless of its angle and direction, as long as it is within the 10 meters transmission range.

When your computer is running PowerPoint or Adobe PDF Reader, its buttons function like this:
  • Press top button to Page Up (go to previous slide)
  • Press bottom button to Page Down (go to next slide)
  • Long press top button will toggle full screen presentation
  • Long press bottom button will toggle a black screen on the display
  • The middle button will trigger its laser beam
When your computer is running Windows Movie Player or VLC Media Player, its buttons function like this:
  • Double press middle button to toggle between Play and Pause
  • Press top button for Forward
  • Press bottom button for Reverse

Most of the presenter pens in the market are powered by either AA or AAA size normal battery. This Pisen TS-D192 is powered by an internal rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery with capacity of 2,500 mAh.

It can be recharged using a normal USB charging cable connecting its micro USB charging port to either your computer or a USB charger. There is a USB charging cable included in its packaging.

It is said that you can use it as a presenter pen for about one year with just a single charge. With its abundant power, it can also serve as your emergency power bank with 5V 1A output to charge up your phone or gadgets.

This is an interesting USP for the product, as you can still making use of it as a power bank when you are not using it for presentation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Malaysia year 2017 national and state public holidays announced

The official 2017 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, and 2 of them fall on Friday, 4 fall on Saturday, 2 fall on Sunday, and another 3 fall on Monday. Most of the states will have around 4 state holidays in addition to the national holidays.

Chinese New Year falls on Saturday and Sunday (28th and 29th January 2017). Hari Raya Puasa falls on Sunday and Monday (25th and 26th June 2017). Deepavali falls on Wednesday (18 October 2017).
Click here to download the table of Malaysia year 2017 gazetted national and state public holidays.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Docasa DCS-BS02W non-electric water bidet for toilet water closet

I have just installed some Docasa DCS-BS02W non-electric water bidets in my residence's toilets. Each set of them cost only RM175 (or RM185.50 after GST).

This type of water bidet spray is pretty simple in design, and does not need to use electric to function. Just affix it onto the toilet bowl and attach its pipe to the existing water inlet of the water tank, and it is ready to function.

Its nozzle is able to spray water at the pressure of 0.05 MPa to 0.8 MPa, and its spraying angle is adjustable.

This Docasa DCS-BS02W is very easy to use. It has a level to adjust the high/low angle of water spray, and a big knob which clockwise is to spray the water at different intensity, and anticlockwise is a self-cleaning function whereby water is flowing down instead of spraying out.

This kind of water bidet is very popular in Japan, Taiwan and some other places. Normally they are electrical which can heat up and supply warm water, and the price is quite expensive. Although this Docasa DCS-BS02W is not able to heat up water, it is non-electric and very easy to install, and its price is much more affordable.

If you are still using toilet papers or external spraying hose, you might probably also want to switch to this type of bidet. It is gentle, clean and environmental friendly. I also makes your toilet looks modern and classy to your guests.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Johari Window

The Johari Window is a model developed back in 1955 by 2 psychologists Joseph Luft (Joe) and Harrington Ingham  (Harry), named after their combined first names.

It is a heuristic method originally used for self awareness, to examine your characters that you are aware of, and those that others are aware of. There is also a portion which so far nobody is aware of.

The Johari Window consists of 4 quadrants:

  • Open / Arena: represents traits of subject that both you and others are conciously aware of.
  • Hidden / Façade: represents traits of subject that you are aware of, but hidden from others.
  • Blindspot: represents your blindspot where others are aware of but not you.
  • Unknown: represents the mysterious area where nobody is aware of yet.
Nowadays the Johari Window is also commonly used in knowledge management, to examine the areas of knowledge between 2 parties (eg. superior and subordinate, supplier and customer, 2 different departments, 2 colleagues, 2 business partners, ...)

There are parts that known to both parties, and also parts that known to one party only, and also parts that unknown by both parties.

By sharing of information/knowledge with each other, i.e. ask for the parts in your blindspot, and tell about the parts in your hidden area, the open area can then be expanded.
At the same time, both parties will explore into the unknown area. The discovered parts will then be included into own hidden area, and if shared out, will further enlarge the open area. The parts discovered by the other party will initially fall into your bind area, and if shared out, will also become part of the open area.

Think of a person or a group in your mind, what is the Johari Window looks like? How you would like the Johari Window to look like? What action should you take to make that happen?

Monday, September 5, 2016

UniFi goodies: Switch to HyppTV Ruby Pack at no additional cost and get RM30 AEON Shopping Voucher

Today, I've received an email from TM Takeout with their HyppTV Mooncake Festival Ruby Pack Migration Campaign 2016 promotion as follow:

I have carefully checked the sender's email. It is not a scam and is really sent out from TM email server.

I clicked on the link and checked the URL of the webpage opened by the link. It is an HTTPS secured webpage, with valid SSL certificate issued by Entrust CA.

So, it is real!

I then checked on the Terms and Conditions that I need to agree in order to accept the offer.

The Terms and Conditions states that:
  • The Campaign starts from 1 September 2016 until 15 September 2016.
  • Only eligible to existing HyppTV subscribers of Aneka or Varnam Pack.
  • The migration to Ruby Pack is free of charge, and there will be no additional monthly charge as long as the migration was done within this campaign period.
  • Subscribers who have done the migration within this campaign period are eligible to receive a HyppTV Moon Cake Festival AEON shopping voucher worth RM30.

Its too good to be true as there is nothing to lose for the subscriber to accept the migration offer, and at the same time can get a RM30 voucher too.

Normally, the Ruby pack is RM10/month more expensive than the Aneka and Varnam pack for TM UniFi subscribers.

The Ruby pack consists of Chinese channels including tvN HD, Channel [V] Taiwan, now Baugu Movies, now Chinese Drama, now Jelli HD, Red by HBO, SCM, SCM Legend HD, SETI, Star Chinese Channel and TVB8.

So, if you also received this offer email from TM Takeout, think carefully first before trash it away. If you haven't received it, you might probably want to find it in your spam folder, or call 100 to find out from TM about your eligibility.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

MEGA cloud storage with 50GB free quota and secured RSA-2048 encryption

Nowadays there are at least twenty over cloud storage service providers. Some of them provides free quota usage, such as the famous Dropbox (2GB), Google Drive (15GB), Microsoft OneDrive (15GB), pCloud (10GB), etc. while some other don't.

If you are looking for large amount of free storage, probably to store your precious videas, photos, disc images, etc., you should take a look at MEGA which generously provides 50GB free quota.

MEGA was founded in New Zealand by Kim DotCom in 2013, who was also the founder of the famous file-hosting website Megaupload. Megaupload was shut down by US government after being accused for copyright infringement. Anyhow, MEGA says Kim DotCom has already resigned as director since August 2013.

MEGA has on 23 August 2016 announced that they've reached a milestone of 50 million registered users with more than 20 billion files stored in their cloud service.

There is an article in Cloudwards posted in 18 September 2015 comparing MEGA with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, SugarSync and SpiderOak, and concluded with the following comparison table:

(Comparison table from Cloudwards website)

MEGA can be accessed with any one of the following medium:
  • MEGA Sync client for Windows, Mac or Linux
  • MEGA mobile app for Android, iOS, Windows Phone or Blackberry
  • MEGA web browser extension for Chrome or Firefox
Its usage experience is similar to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. Its upload/download speed for free users is OK, I can get about 2 Mbps speed as shown below.

With its generous 50GB storage for free users, I find MEGA pretty attractive as a cloud storage for my videos, photos, disc images and other big files.

Note that users of Microsoft Office 365 are getting 1024GB bundled quota in OneDrive, which is much more larger than this 50GB. So, if you are genuine user of MS Office 365, you can make good use of your bundled 1TB space in OneDrive too.

HTC flagship smartphone users can also claim for 2 years usage of 100GB free additional storage in Google Drive through the pre-installed Google Drive app in the new phone. Beware that after 2 years, this 100GB additional storage quota will be revoked, unless you buy another new HTC flagship smartphone, and provided this offer is still available by then.

BC-01 multimedia bluetooth speaker with alarm clock and FM radio

I have purchased a BC-01 multimedia bluetooth speaker with alarm clock and FM radio for my kid. This made-in-China gadget is pretty cheap, with the price of around RM60 only, and its quality is not too bad.

The BC-01 has 2 colour options: white and black. It is pretty small, with surface about the size of the palm of an adult. This small footprint, together with its built-in 1,500 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, makes it very portable and easy to carry long, especially when travelling.

With a low power consumption of around 3W, the battery is good enough to support for many hours of continuous music playback. It can operate in clock display and alarm mode for a few days at a single charge cycle.

It has a pair of stereo speakers, which is pretty decent with sufficient loudness in volume. Do not unfairly compete it with Hi-Fi speakers, but its sound quality can really beat the speakers of most of the smartphones and tablets nowadays. However, probably due to the use of internal antenna, you'll probably be disturbed with some hissing sound when using it as a radio.

So, what can this small gadget do?

First of all, it is an alarm clock with pretty large LED time display, as you can see from its photo above.

Then, it is a Bluetooth wireless speaker for any multimedia devices that support Bluetooth pairing. It also has a built-in microphone and can act as Bluetooth hands free speaker for mobile phone, able to pick up calls and have phone conversation with it.

The phone recognizes it for phone audio (to handle phone calls) as well as media audio (to play music streaming from the phone).

It also has a micro SD slot that supports micro SD up to 32GB. You can store music files of MP3, WAV, APE or WMA format in a micro SD card, slot in the card into its slot, and use it as a music player.

It comes with a special USB cable with 2 split connectors. One of it is the USB connector used as external power source and for battery charging, another is an audio jack which you can plug into another music device, computer, handphone, etc. and use it as an external speaker for such device.

Lastly, it is also an FM radio with internal antenna. It is able to automatically search for radio stations and remember their frequency.

Despite its multiple functions and features, it only has 6 control buttons, as shown in its photo above. Therefore, it takes some time to figure out how to use it. It comes with a paper User Manual and I highly recommend you to RTFM before you start using it.

One thing I dislike about this device is that, it only uses a single button to sequentially rotate and switch among its functions as Bluetooth speaker, micro SD card multimedia player, FM radio, AUX line-in speaker, and alarm clock. So you need to keep on pressing its right button until you reach your desired function.

All in all, this is a pretty cool device for bedroom radio and alarm. It is a good candidate as Christmas or birthday present too.

Monday, August 22, 2016

GuardKey - your sensitive data protection solution for local storage, portable storage and also cloud storage (ie. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.)

"A lot of people use Dropbox.

A lot of people put a lot of valuable, sensitive and personal data inside Dropbox.

A lot of people make the mistake of not encrypting their valuable, sensitive and personal data before they put it inside Dropbox.

Which all adds up to a whole heap of trouble if Dropbox suffers a data breach."

-- Quoted from Graham Cluley's article titled "The huge Dropbox password leak that wasn't".

Yes, your data in cloud storage such as Dropbox needs a second layer of protection despite being well encrypted and taken care by Dropbox.

This is because most of the time, the data in your cloud storage can be easily accessed once your password is obtained or hacked.

Worse still, most cloud services such as Dropbox provides the convenience for you to stay logon once you successfully signed in from their apps, be it from a computer or mobile device. This means that whoever obtained physical access to your computer or mobile device with an active logon session to your cloud service, can easily access to your data without even the need to know your password!

Nowadays, most cloud services like Dropbox do provide option for additional security through 2-step verification which requires second verification through SMS, USB key, etc. beside your password. However, novice users find it difficult to configure and activate, and there is limitation in the USB key method, such as, can only be used when accessing the cloud service with Google Chrome browser. In addition, this 2-step verification doesn't solve the open session loophole as described in the above paragraph.

I found a wonderful product called GuardKey which perfectly fills this gap of needs by offering data encryption and concealing solution to not only your cloud storages, but also your local storage (eg. harddisk, NAS storage, SAN storage, etc.) and portable storage (eg. USB drive, SD card, etc.).

GuardKey is a USB dongle with the following components:
  • A unique AES-256 encryption/decryption key.
  • A Windows software to be installed in your computer to perform seamless data encryption and decryption to your Safebox (an invisible folder in your storage device that everything in it will be protected by GuardKey).
  • 8 GB of free empty storage, for you to use the USB dongle as normal USB drive.
This metallic USB key has a solid and durable look and feel.

There is always a trade-off between security and convenience. The higher the security measure, the more inconvenience for the user it become, and vice-versa. The beauty of GuardKey is it provides a wide range of flexibility level to the user to determine between high security and high convenience.

If user opts for high security, the Safebox can only be opened with the USB dongle and a password. In a more convenient level, it only needs the USB dongle without the need of entering password. Plug in your GuardKey dongle, you have access to your Safebox; pull out your GuardKey dongle, your Safebox will be hidden, and even if found, all the data inside it is encrypted with AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard with 256 bits cryptographic key length) encryption, which is a military grade encryption method that recommended by NSA for US government to protect Top Secret grade of information.

Alternatively, you can also make it possible to unlock the Safebox without using the USB dongle, by using the GuardKey Viewer mobile app. The mobile device running GuardKey Viewer needs to be paired with the GuardKey application running in the computer before it can be used as Safebox mobile unlocker.

There are 2 levels of mobile unlock security: by using a six digit one-time-password (OTP) which changes every minute, or by using a combination of random sequence of images together with the six digit OTP.

GuardKey supports the creation and usage of Safebox in local disk (including portable storage) and also in Cloud storage.

Supported cloud storages including Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, ASUS WebStorage, Box, SugarSync, and other cloud storages that sync with local disk, which the user needs to inform GuardKey about the location of the sync folder.

GuardKey supports one Safebox for each of the storage drive. The screenshot below shows I've created one Safebox for local drive D, and another for Dropbox.

The data inside these Safeboxes are encrypted and not accessible until they are unlocked by GuardKey. A virtual drive will be mounted with the Safeboxes now accessible as folders in the mounted drive. Once they are relocked, they will disappear from the virtual drive, and if all the Safeboxes are relocked, the GuardKey virtual drive will also be unmounted and disappear.

By using GuardKey, you can therefore ensure that all your AES-256 protected data in Safebox will remain be unreadable and inaccessible, even though your computer is stolen, seized or hacked. By encrypting your files and folders in cloud storage with GuardKey, you can also protect them from leaking and exposing through hacking or unauthorized access to your cloud storage account.

The same GuardKey USB dongle can be used in multiple computers to access the encrypted data in your cloud storage from different computer, so that you can access to your files from any one of the computers installed with GuardKey by using your dongle. In addition, you can also access your Safeboxes in cloud storages from within your smartphone by using the GuardKey Viewer mobile app.

GuardKey is a well thought product. In case you lost your USB dongle and you have not enabled mobile unlock option, you are still able to unlock your Safebox and rescue the data inside by using the backup AES-256 key residing in your local disk, which requires your password for its usage.

If you are concerned about this "backdoor" measure for emergency data retrieval, you can store your AES-256 key in another USB disk and lock it in a secured physical safe, then delete and wipe out the backup key in your local disk residing in data folder of GuardKey installed path.

Although the metallic GuardKey dongle is solid and looks durable, you might have the question of what if it is faulty and no longer usable. Without the key, how are you going to access to your valuable data protected by GuardKey? This situation has also been thought about, and there is a mechanism within the GuardKey software to allow you to duplicate the dongle to another USB disk.

As a conclusion, GuardKey is found to be very flexible between security and convenience, which you can adjust according to your need. In high security mode, I believe it is fit for commercial and industrial use. While in high convenience mode such as unlocking on the fly with USB dongle without the need of password, it can still protect your data, provided that your USB dongle does not fall into the hand of other people who at the same time also has your computer with them.

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