Friday, November 17, 2017

Malaysia schools terms and festival holidays (Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri & Deepavali) in 2018

Here are the Malaysia schools' term holidays in 2018 as announced by Ministry of Education (a.k.a. Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, KPM).

Schools in Group A (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu) will start their term holidays 1 day earlier than those in Group B (Perlis, Penang, Perak, Selangor, N.Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, KL, Putrajaya, Labuan).

As a result, Group A will have 1 more day of Year End Holidays than Group B.

As you can observe from the tables above, certain public holidays will fall within the school term holidays.

Below are the Malaysia schools' festival holidays in 2018 for Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali, as announced by Ministry of Education (a.k.a. Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, KPM).

Note that individual school can apply for additional off days  during these festival holidays period, which might subject to having replacement class for the additional off days applied.

The 2018 festival holidays for schools in Group A, which weekends fall on Friday and Saturday, are as follow:

The 2018 festival holidays for schools in Group B, which weekends fall on Saturday and Sunday, are as follow:

You might notice that the number of days for all these 3 festival holidays in 2018 are much shorter than 2017, which has 9 days for each of the festivals respectively.

Besides, since Hari Raya Aidilfitri in 2018 fall within the Mid-Year Holidays period, and also Hari Raya Qurban in 2018 fall within the Term 2 Holidays period, there will be no extra holiday for the schools during these 2 festivals.

For your knowledge and information:
  • Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the first month of a new Chinese lunar calendar year.
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri (a.k.a. Hari Raya Puasa) falls on the first day in Shawwal (the 10th month in Islamic calendar year) after the last fasting month of Ramadan (the 9th month in Islamic calendar year).
  • Deepavali celebrated in South-India, which followed by the Indian race in Malaysia and Singapore, falls on Ashvina Krishna Chaturdasi which is the lunar day before the new moon (Amavasya) in the Hindu lunisolar calendar. The date is between mid-October to mid-November every year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fixed Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro laptop screen flickering at random time problem in Windows

This problem had been troubling me for quite a long time. Ever since a certain day, the screen of my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro laptop running on Windows 10 will flicker at random time while I'm using it.

It seems to be related to a bug in its Intel HD Graphics display driver, but even though I kept on updating to the latest driver, the annoying screen flickering problem remained, until I performed the following setting.

The solution: disable Intel HD Graphics panel self-refresh function.

Your Windows account needs to have Administrator rights in order to successfully perform the following steps.

Step 1: Login to Windows and right click anywhere on your Windows Desktop.

Step 2: Click on "Graphics Properties..." in the pop-up menu.

Step 3: Select "Power" in the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel.

Step 4: Select "On Battery" in the left menu bar.

Step 5: Make sure Panel Self-Refresh is set to Disable.

Step 6: Click on Apply, then answer "Yes" to confirm saving the setting.

Hopefully, the screen flickering problem will be gone after this.

If you are also being troubled with the same screen flickering problem in your laptop which uses the Intel processor graphics accelerator, perhaps you can try out this solution and inform me whether it works for you or not.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Samsung printer business is now under HP

If you visit to Samsung printer support webpage now, you will find yourself eventually landing in HP website!

This is the indication of the completion of HP acquisition of Samsung printer business.

The two companies have been in competing position in the worldwide printer business for years. HP has been well-known in producing reliable printers for household and business use, while Samsung had been producing many award-winning printers that are affordable with up-to-standard performance and features in the same target segments.

In 2016, HP is the largest player in the worldwide printer market, while Samsung was the 10th.

In September last year (2016), the two companies announced this acquisition plan valued at US$1.05 billion. HP had explained the reason of this acquisition, being able to expand its portfolio and help to disrupt the US$55 billion A3 copier market with multi-function printers that are simple to use but have the same high performance level as that of copiers.

For Samsung investors:
  • Samsung had made the decision to dispose their printer business as they opined that this business is gradually declining.
  • As part of the agreement, Samsung will make a US$100~300 million equity investment in HP through open market purchases. 

For HP investors:
  • HP will gain access to more than 6,500 print patents from Samsung and a workforce of nearly 1,300 researchers and engineers that are experts in laser technology, imaging electronics and supplies and accessories.

For Samsung printers customers:
  • Samsung printers' customer support service will continue under HP.
  • All of Samsung’s existing printer products will continue to be sold under Samsung brand until the second half of 2019.
  • Samsung will keep on providing toners, parts and supplies for existing printers for another 5 years.
  • All discounts and programmes previously agreed between Samsung and customers will now be honoured by HP, and these will remain in effect through to all previously agreed end dates.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

RACI and ARMI responsibility assignment matrix for GRPI teamwork

In teamwork (work done by more than one person) with clear goals, roles, processes, and interpersonal relationship (GRPI), such as a DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) project or a DMADV (define, measure, analyse, design, verify) project, the responsibility assignment matrix (RAM) can be used to clearly define the role and responsibility of each of the members in such teamwork.

One of the commonly used responsibility assignment matrix is the RACI matrix, which breaks down the teamwork into tasks, and map out who is responsible, who is accountable, who should be consulted, and who must kept informed for each of the tasks.

R - Responsible
  • The person who is assigned to carry out that particular task (the doer).
  • Each task must have at least 1 responsible person.
  • A task can have many responsible persons.
A - Accountable
  • The person who holds ownership of the task, and is responsible for its success or failure.
  • That person is authorized to make final decision on the task.
  • That person has the power to accept the completion of the task.
  • Each task can only have 1 accountable person.
 C - Consulted
  • Person who can be asked to provide opinion or input about the task while it is being worked on.
  • Normally a subject matter expert (SME).
  • The consultation should occur before decision or action is taken.
  • Each task can have either none, one, or more than one consulted persons.
  • If there are more than one, they should not be too many.
I - Informed
  • Person who needs to be kept informed that a decision or action has been taken.
  • Each task can have either none, one, or more than one persons to be kept informed.
  • If there are more than one, they should not be too many.
The RACI model can be extended to RASCI or RASIC by including a support role.

S - Support
  • Person who is able to help Responsible person in getting the task done.
  • The person possesses resource that can be shared out, or taking part in a supporting role.
  • Each task can have either none, one, or more than one support persons.

Beside RACI, the ARMI is another model that serves the similar purpose to define the level of support assigned to each stakeholders.

A - Approver
  • The person who sign-off a milestone and approve to move on towards the next milestone.
R - Resource
  • Persons who have the expertise or skillsets that are required in the project.
M - Member
  • Persons who are the project team member.
I - Interested Party
  • Persons who need to be informed about up-to-date status along the project.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Top 30 property developers in The Edge Malaysia Property Excellence Awards 2017

The Edge Malaysia has just announced the Top 10 winners in their Property Excellence Awards 2017, which are:

  • 1. SP Setia Bhd (2016: #1)
  • 2. Sunway Bhd (2016: #3)
  • 3. Sime Darby Property Bhd (2016: #4)
  • 4. IJM Land Bhd (2016: #2)
  • 5. Eco World Development Group Bhd (2016: #6)
  • 6. UOA Development Bhd (2016: #7)
  • 7. Mah Sing Group Bhd (2016: #5)
  • 8. IGB Corp Bhd (2016: #9)
  • 8. IOI Properties Group Bhd (2016: #11)
  • 9. UEM Sunrise Bhd (2016: #10)
  • 10. Tropicana Corp Bhd (2016: #12)
Note that there are 2 developers ranked the 8th position in 2017. Most of the Top 10 winners in 2016 remain in the 2017 Top 10 list above, the only drop off is Gamuda Bhd - Property Division. IOI Properties Group Bhd and Tropicana Corp Bhd have successfully advanced into the list. Congratulations to SP Setia Bhd which managed to secure its 1st position for another year.

Following the Top 10 winners above, the subsequent Top 11-30 are:
  • 11. Eastern & Oriental Bhd
  • 12. MKH Bhd
  • 13. Matrix Concepts Holding Bhd
  • 14. Paramount Corp Bhd
  • 15. Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd
  • 16. OSK Holdings Bhd
  • 17. Glomac Bhd
  • 17. Selangor Dredging Bhd
  • 17. TA Global Bhd
  • 18. Sunsuria Bhd
  • 19. KSL Holdings Bhd
  • 19. WCT Land Sdn Bhd
  • 20. Land & General Bhd
  • 21. Hua Yang Bhd
  • 21. I-Bhd
  • 22. Wing Tai Malaysia Bhd
  • 23. Selangor Properties Bhd
  • 23. YTL Land & Development Bhd
  • 24. LBS Bina Group Bhd
  • 24. Malton Bhd
  • 24. SHL Consolidated Bhd
  • 25. Guocoland (Malaysia) Bhd
  • 25. Titijaya Land Bhd
  • 26. MCT Bhd
  • 27. Ivory Properties Group Bhd
  • 27. Ken Holdings Bhd
  • 27. Plenitude Bhd
  • 28. Symphony Life Bhd
  • 29. Eco World International Bhd
  • 29. MK Land Holdings Bhd
  • 29. Naim Holdings Bhd
  • 30. Tambun Indah Land Bhd

There are 2 winners of Outstanding Property Entrepreneur Award 2017:
  • Datuk Lee Tian Hock from Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd
  • Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap from Sunsuria Bhd

There are 2 winners of Outstanding Property CEO Award 2017:
  • Datuk Khor Chap Jen from SP Setia Bhd
  • Sarena Cheah from Sunway Bhd - Property Division, Malaysia & Singapore

Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting is awarded with Outstanding Contribution to the Housing Industry Award 2017.

The following properties are awarded with Property Development Excellence Award 2017:
  • Mid Valley Megamall - Excellence in Suburban Family Mall
  • 1 Utama Shopping Centre - Excellence in Suburban Family Mall
  • Sunway Pyramid - Excellence in Suburban Family Mall
  • Pavillion Kuala Lumpur - International Luxury Shopping Mall
  • Regeneration of George Town - Excellence in Urban Regeneration

Friday, November 3, 2017

Typical types of procurement contracts

Procurement is the acquisition of goods, services or works from external source. A procurement contract is a legal binding agreement between the buyer and the seller.

In general, there are 3 broad categories of procurement contracts:

  • Fixed price (FP)
  • Time and material (T&M)
  • Cost reimbursement (CR)

Firm Fixed Price (FFP) or Lump Sum
  • Specifications or requirements are well-defined with clear statement of work.
  • There exist sufficient competition to determine a fair and reasonable fixed price.
  • If actual cost is more than agreed upon, seller bear the additional cost.
  • Buyer has the least cost risk.
  • To be fair to both parties, both buyer and seller need to have complete know-how of the work for precise price fixing.

Fixed Price Incentive Fee (FPIF)
  • Profits are adjusted based on seller meeting performance criteria in a progressive manner.
  • Performance can be measured in term of cost, time, and quality.
  • Successive targets are given to the seller.

Fixed Price Award Fee (FPAF)
  • An award (a.k.a. bonus) will be paid based on performance.
  • The total possible award amount is determined in advance and apportioned out based on actual performance.

Fixed Price Economic Price Adjustment (FP-EPA)
  • Normally applicable to long contract with uncertainties in future prices.
  • Price is adjustable depend on future cost of supplies and equipment required to be used.

Purchase Order (PO)
  • Simplest type of fixed price contract.
  • Only needs to be signed by buyer (unilateral party signing).

Time and Material (T&M)
  • Commonly used for service efforts whereby the level of effort is difficult to be determined when contract was awarded.
  • Buyer pays on per-hour or per-item basis.

Cost Contract (CC)
  • Cost is unable to be estimated accurately for fixed price due to exact scope of work is uncertain.
  • Seller receive no fee and make no profit. Charge as per actual cost.

Cost Plus Fee (CPF) / Cost Plus Percentage of Cost (CPPC)
  • Seller makes profit on top of the cost.
  • Fee varies with the actual cost.

Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF)
  • Fee is pre-negotiated and fixed before work begins.
  • Fee does not vary with the actual cost.

Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF)
  • Target cost is estimated and target fee is determined before work begins.
  • Seller will earn incentive from the savings if actual cost is less than the target cost.
  • Meanwhile, seller will also need to share cost overrun with buyer.

Cost Plus Award Fee (CPAF)
  • Buyer pays all the cost and a base fee plus performance bonus.
  • The award amount is pre-determined and apportioned out depending on actual performance.
  • Seller has the least cost risk.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My Jean Perry coating cool gel comfort memory pillow

I have just bought some Jean Perry coating cool gel comfort memory pillows for my household.

As described in the product's description, the pillow is made with high density memory foam that is able to provide nice comfortable neck support for all kind of back, side and stomach sleepers. It has highly ventilated 3D mesh gusset allowing the memory foam within to "breath" thus minimizing heat build-up.

On one side, it is coated with a layer of cooling gel (the dark blue layer in the photo), material similar to those used in fever cooling pad. The other side of it does not have this cooling gel layer. As the pillow design is flat on both side (non-contour design), you can sleep with either side of it. When the sleeping environment is warm, you can sleep on the side with cooling gel to enjoy its cooling effect; when the environment is cold (such as on top of highlands), you can also sleep on the side without the cooling gel.

The pillow comes wrapped with a blue colour compact cooling satin stripe cover which is said to be naturally hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and dust mites resistant. Just like the fever cooling pad, the cooling gel has a kind of chemical smell. But after covered with this cooling satin stripe cover, you can hardly smell it. So don't worry about the smell with this Jean Perry pillow, as it might be an issue with certain competitors but for this Jean Perry pillow with satin stripe cover, the smell is mostly eliminated.

This is what inside the packaging box: the pillow nicely wrapped in plastic.

Sleeping with this pillow is really comfortable. You will not feel too cold at your head, as the cooling effect is more on eliminating heat from building up rather than providing ice cooling type of effect, so it is just nice and perfect for sleeping. Perhaps the effect can prevent people who used to sweat on pillow from sweating again.

You might note that below the "Jean Perry" trademark logo there is a word "Paris". I believe that "Paris" is part of the branding, rather than a place on earth. Jean Perry is actually a Malaysia product made by public listed company Yoong Onn Corporation Bhd (YOCB, 5159). Other brands of products by this same company include Novelle, Ann Taylor, Louis Casa, Genova, Niki Cains, Diana, Cotonsoft, Red Danielle, etc. The same company also has retail outlets called Home's Harmony which you can find in certain shopping malls, mostly in Klang Valley. Nevertheless, their products are of good quality and match with their price tag. Price discount is given during their sales promotional roadshow event in particular shopping mall, and sometimes in their online shop in Lazada.

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.

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