Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SoGoSurvey - free unlimited online survey platform for students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Investing in ICULS (loan stock) in Bursa Malaysia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RM0.100 x 2 = RM0.200.

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

Premium at percentage = 0.045/0.155 = 29.03%

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

RM0.100 + RM0.05 = RM0.15

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

Discount at percentage = 0.005/0.155 = 3.23%

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

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

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

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