Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Avantree CGTR-520-W desktop power station with 5 USB charging ports and 2 AC outlets

You've probably read about my Belkin B2E027 4-port 2.4A full rate USB power charger before. It is still working fine and I am still using it.

Recently, I discovered something even better, which is the Avantree CGTR-520-W desktop power station. It comes with 5 smart USB ports, which each single port able to charge up to 2.4A and the total combined charging capacity is 8A.

It also comes with 2 AC sockets (maximum 10A loading) with surge protector of 1,700 Joule and power rating of 1,250W (for 125Vac) or 2,250W (for 225Vac).

You've probably seen it in action when I talked about my KCX-017 USB current and voltage tester in my previous post.

This power station is handy when you have limited wall sockets, as it won't occupy your wall socket and at the same time it extends another socket for your use. You can use its sockets to charge your laptop and other bigger devices that need to be charged with electrical socket instead of USB.

My KCX-017 USB current and voltage tester

Sometimes you will face problem with USB charging such as charging speed slower than normal, unable to charge, or worse still, you encountered a "reverse charging" whereby current is drawn away from the battery of your device instead of charging it.

The problem could be due to faulty charger, faulty USB cable, or faulty USB port of the device to be charged.

In addition, certain 3rd party USB cables are having quality issue with unstable current flow, or only allow low current flow through it.

A USB tester such as the KCX-017 will be handy to diagnose such situations.

This small gadget only cost around RM25, and works well with wall charger, car charger, power bank, etc. by connecting its attached USB cable to the charger, or by connecting the charging cable to its micro-USB port. It will measure the input voltage and display on its LCD screen.

Its other end is a USB port which you can use a USB cable to connect to a charging recipient such as mobile phone, tablet, GPS navigator, etc. Beside the voltage, it will also measure and display the current drawn by the recipient, and also calculate the mAh value of the charging session.

In summary, this gadget is used to:
  • Test no-load voltage of the power supply
  • Test output power of USB output devices
  • Test working voltage and current of the USB output devices
  • Test voltage and line loss of charging cables
  • Perform real-time monitoring of the charging status

Its specified working environment is as below:

  • Voltage range: 3-7V
  • Current range: 50mA-3,500mA
  • Capacity range: 0-19,999mAh
When the input voltage is lower than 4.7V or higher than 5.3V, its LCD screen will flash with an arrowhead indicating under-voltage or over-voltage.

This device can record up to 10 sets of readings. There is a button near to its LCD screen.
  • Double click the button, the display will start flashing. Single click the button to switch to different memory slot (from 0 to 9). Double click again to use the current memory slot displayed on screen.
  • Long press the button will reset the next memory slot reading back to 0000.
This device is able to memorize the last reading when unplugged. The next time when it is turned on again, that reading will be displayed on its LCD screen.

It is a handy device to troubleshoot USB charging problem, as well as to test for the charging quality of USB cables.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My VST-706 3-in-1 car battery voltage monitor, digital thermometer and USB charger

I have just bought this VST-706 car gadget which plugs into the car cigarette lighter socket and function as 3-in-1:

  • Battery voltmeter
  • Digital thermometer
  • USB 2.0 charger

This little car gadget cost less than RM30 and works with car using 12V battery or 24V battery.

The interpretation of its voltmeter reading is as follow:

Its thermometer measuring range is -9 ~ 80 degree Celsius.

The maximum output current of its USB charging port is 2.1A.

With it, you can always monitor the voltage of your car battery and be alerted of its faulty and timing for its end-of-life, before it went flat. The thermometer and USB charger are extra features that good to have too.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0

The price of USB flash drive has eventually gone cheap. Nowadays, you can get a genuine 16GB SanDisk Ultra dual USB drive 3.0 with plug-and-play support to OTG-enabled Android devices at the price of less than RM20.

This SanDisk Ultra dual USB drive 3.0 has 2 connectors. At one end is a USB 3.0 connector that is able to transfer file to computer at a speed of up to 130 MBps (or about 1 Gbps).

Note that there is another product called "SanDisk Ultra dual USB drive" without the "3.0" behind, selling at slightly cheaper price, which the USB connector is a USB 2.0 connector and the data transfer speed is much lower than the 3.0 version.

At the other end is a micro-USB connector that can work on the fly with OTG-enabled Android devices.

Similar with the warranty period of most SanDisk Ultra range of products, this SanDisk Ultra dual USB drive 3.0 comes with a 5 years warranty.

Once plugged into the micro-USB port of the Android device, this USB flash drive is auto-detected by Android as one of the external storages and is immediately accessible by File Manager of Android system.

SanDisk also provides a free mobile app called SanDisk Memory Zone for user to access the USB flash drive and to transfer file between it and the device's internal storage or flash memory card installed in the device.

However, I found the function of this SanDisk Memory Zone app is very limited. It doesn't work with the folders in the USB flash drive so you can only copy file to its root directory, and the copying process is pretty slow.

The only Android app I found that can work with it without hassle is ES File Explorer Pro (or its free version ES File Explorer).

ES File Explorer Pro is able to detect and use this OTG drive upon plugged in, and all file operations of copying, moving, renaming, deleting, creating, opening with associated app, etc. can work well without problem.

ES File Explorer Pro works equally well to access my SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 with my HTC One M8 smartphone running on Android 6.0 and my Samsung Galaxy Note 5.0 tablet running on Android 4.4.2.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

OCBC Bank launched open API for developers to integrate apps with their open data

In line with Singapore Government's Smart Nation Initiative and the Monetary Authority of Singapore's vision to create a Smart Financial Centre and move toward an open API architecture, OCBC Bank has on 17 May 2016 launched their open Application Programming Interface (API) platform, namely CONNECT2OCBC,  that allows software developers to integrate their apps or websites with OCBC's open data related to their products and services.

OCBC claims to be the first in Southeast Asia to introduce such open API service, playing a bigger role in growing the FinTech ecosystem.

For a start, 4 APIs are made available:
  • Branch Locator provides a list of OCBC Bank branches with their respective location details and operating hours.
  • Credit Card Advisor provides credit card suggestions based on user's lifestyle.
  • ATM Locator provides a list of OCBC Bank ATMs with their location details to facilitate users in finding them.
  • Forex provides a list of updated currency exchange rates by OCBC, allowing the integrated apps to perform calculations across currencies.
Although these 4 APIs looks limited, it is deemed as a good start. Hopefully more APIs will be made available for broader and deeper usage in the near future.

Click here for more information about the CONNECT2OCBC APIs.

Besides, OCBC has also established a new business unit called The Open Vault @ OCBC, which is a FinTech innovation center aimed to incubate FinTech startups, helping them make products and services that the bank can add to its digital banking arsenal or bring to the market.

The 5 areas of interest of Open Vault @ OCBC are:
  • Wealth management
  • Credit and financing
  • Insurance
  • Cyber security
  • Artificial intelligence
The center has partnered with Hong Kong venture capital firm Nest to run the OCBC FinTech Accelerator incubation program to provide selected start-ups with business and technical expertise mentorship.

Monday, May 9, 2016

SSPN-i declared 2015 dividend

The Federal Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, has just declared the dividend for Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN-i) of year 2015 on 6 May 2016.

The 2015 SSPN-i dividend payout rate is 4%, amounting to RM60.8 million. This rate is slightly lower than the previous 4.25% payout for 2014.

Historical SSPN-i dividend payout rate is as below:

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

If you have opened an SSPN-i account for your child, you should be able to check the amount of dividend received in the account by now (9 May 2016).

Click here to read about how to view your online SSPN-i statement of account.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Today is World Password Day

Today is the  first Thursday of May, the World Password Day! It is observed to create awareness of the need for good password security practice.

Nowadays, password is used everywhere,  being a commonly used security mechanism for:

  • identity verification
  • authentication of access control
  • encryption/decryption key to protect our private information

Here are the 4 steps action to secure your online experience, recommended by organizers of World Password Day:

Why the first Thursday of May? Perhaps this day itself is an interesting day, being observed in:
  • 5 May 2016
  • 4 May 2017
  • 3 May 2018
  • 2 May 2019
  • 1 May 2020

For more information, visit to :

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Warning! Touch n Go cards must be used at least once per year, or you will lose money!

Perhaps not many people aware that their Touch n Go card, if stayed unused for 12 months consecutively, will be deactivated and suspended into dormant state.

The dormant card cannot be used anymore, and your money balance in the card will be locked and rendered unusable, until you get Touch n Go to reactivate the card.

There is an admin fee of RM5 plus GST (total: RM5.30) to reactivate the dormant Touch n Go card.

If you continue to keep the card staying inactive, they will still charge you RM5 plus GST (total: RM5.30) of maintenance fee in every 6 months interval. The maintenance fee will be deducted from the balance in the dormant card, until it reached zero. Then, it becomes a junk plastic card.

In addition, every Touch n Go card has a lifespan of 10 years only, and the expiry date is printed behind the card.

Upon expiry, you can buy a new card and transfer your balance from your expired card into your new card. There is an admin fee of RM5 plus GST (total: RM5.30) for Touch n Go balance transfer too.

Today, there are several highways in Klang Valley that no longer receive cash as toll payment and made compulsory to pay with Touch n Go.

If you are staying outside Klang Valley and were forced to buy a Touch n Go card just to pay the toll during your visit to KL once in a blue moon, you are likely to be affected by this.

According to Touch n Go, you can avoid this situation by using the Touch n Go function in your MyKad instead of purchasing the standalone Touch n Go card. Your MyKad will not become dormant even if you don't use it as Touch n Go card for more than 1 year.

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