Monday, July 25, 2016

LED light bulb that fit in PLC downlight fixture

I have been wondering for a long time if the PLC downlights in my house that use CFL (compact fluorescence) bulbs can be replaced with LED light bulb without much modification. Today, I've finally found the answer.

One of my PLC downlights is faulty and I need to replace its 18W CFL bulb. While searching for its replacement at the shop, I found this...

Yes, it is the PLC light bulb with 2-pin leg that fit with the fixture of my downlight. Instead of CFL tubes, this product is using LED as its lighting source.

So, this is exactly the LED solution that I've been searching for years. Even better, this kind of LED light bulb fit exactly to the existing PLC fixture, and totally no modification is needed.

This LED light bulb is more environmental friendly than the CFL, as it contains no mercury. It also claims to have longer lifespan than CFL, and consume less electricity to obtain the same amount of lumen output. In addition, LED light generates much less heat than CFL. It is also said that LED light does not attract insects, which is a desirable feature. However, this LED bulb is a little bit more expensive than its CFL counterparts.

I have purchased one to replace the faulty CFL bulb. See it in action below:

Finally, I've found the solution to change my PLC based downlights at my house to LED type.

I have been gradually changing the CFL bulbs with E27 base to LED type, as LED light with E27 base has been around for a few years.

Eventually, most if not all the lamps at my house will be LED based, when the CFLs are gradually replaced after they have reached their end of life.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Changed my car battery with The Battery Shop

I've just changed my car battery today with the service from The Battery Shop.

My old battery was still able to crank up the car engine, after serving for about 2 years. I decided to make an appointment with The Battery Shop for a free onsite checking, after experienced 2 times of car clock reset itself to 12:00 and 1 time of all the radio station preset memory gone. Yesterday, the VST-706 voltmeter in my car has shown unstable voltage that kept on changing within the range of 13.0V to 14.8V when the car is running.

2 young men arrived at my home right on time of the appointment. They called me about 40 minutes earlier to conform the appointment before they came.

They checked my car electrical system and informed me the car alternator is working fine. They found greenish residue developed at the anode terminal of the old battery. Decision was then made to replace the old battery with a new Korean brand Atlas BX 75D23L sealed maintenance free (SMF) battery.

They kept my car engine running during the changing of battery. The whole process was less than 5 minutes. All the settings and memory of the car's clock and radio system are still remained after the battery swap.

Here is my car's new battery, up and running at its place. The voltage supplied is now stable at around 14.2V when engine is running with this new battery.

The Battery Shop's onsite service (delivery, inspection and installation) at Klang Valley area is free of charge. The 2 young technicians I met were polite and the job was professionally done. I was given a RM20 discount, and the new battery cost me RM310. This price is quite reasonable, as 75D23L battery is of higher spec than 55D23L and therefore carries a higher price tag.

The new battery comes with 12 months warranty with warranty card and a car sticker. The technicians informed me that if they see this sticker on my car's windscreen during their next service, they will provide RM20 discount for the next battery change.

I am aware that The Battery Shop is in direct competition with BateriKu. The brands that they carry are different, and the team is also different. If you prefer Atlas BX or GP, you can contact The Battery Shop; if you prefer Century, Yuasa or Astra, you can contact BateriKu.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Wireless-AD - the next generation WiFi (WiGig) with Gigabit per second speed

Perhaps many of you have just upgraded your WiFi network from Wireless-N to Wireless-AC just like me, the next generation of wireless network namely IEEE 802.11ad has already come to the market.

Instead of operating at the highly congested 2.4 GHz band or the less congested 5 GHz band, wireless-AD (a.k.a. WiGig) operates at a new 60 GHz band. The key selling point of this wireless-AD network technology is that it is able to provide an unprecedented  throughput as high as 7 Gbps, which is even much more faster than the wired Gigabit Ethernet network!

However, the wireless-AD network, operating at 60 GHz band, has even shorter range than the 5 GHz band WiFi, and it find itself more difficult to penetrate through walls and other physical obstacles. In addition, its performance is degraded by the amount of oxygen in the air!

With these limitation, wireless-AD might require an open space environment with less oxygen in the air (such as at high altitude places) to transmit data at high speed to nearby devices that support the technology.

Some possible uses of wireless-AD could be media server transferring super UHD movie to nearby TV, "wireless external SSD hard disk", "wireless thumb drive without USB need", etc.

TP-Link has already come out with the Talon AD7200 Multi-Band WiFi Router that supports wireless-AD technology. However, many wireless devices are yet to catch up with this new technology.

Anyhow, it is already supported in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor which is inside the Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, LG G5, Moto Z, Sony Xperia X Performance, XiaoMi Mi 5, and the newly launched HTC 10.

It is expected to be also supported in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 7. However, it is still unclear whether Apple iPhone 7 will support wireless-AD or not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to Boost Your Rainy Day Fund

A rainy day fund is important as it will serve as your back up plan if you lose your job or when unexpected expenses arise. Get started as soon as you can even if you only have a little to put in. What matters is that you are doing something now that will benefit you in the future!

1. Prevent Late Payment Fees

Late payment fees may not seem like much, but you will be surprised at how quickly they add up. Put the money supposedly for the payment of late fees into good use by putting it in your emergency fund instead.

2. Automate Your Savings

Stop making excuses for setting aside your savings by having automated deductions from your payroll account to your rainy day account. You can always control how much you put in, this is just a sure fire way that money is being added to your fund monthly.

3. Avoid Debt

Avoid spending money that you do not have to avoid debt. Although there are good and bad debts, it is still important to assess if you really need to borrow money or if you are thinking of unnecessary expenses. You will be able to save more money when you have less things to pay for.

4. Treat Your Monthly Savings like a Bill

Think of your savings as a bill that you cannot afford to miss paying, just like your rent, electricity,
or phone bill. Better yet, once you have finished paying for something costly, such as credit card debt, car payment, or student loan, shift that payment to your savings account instead.

5. Review Your Daily and Monthly Expenses

It is easy to overlook expenses such as your daily cup of coffee, weekly manicure, monthly TV/movie subscription .Going over your expenses will help you realize what is really worth spending on and what is not. This will help you cut off on your spending give your savings a boost.

Note: This is a guest post by, dedicated to raising financial literacy in our country and to helping everyday Malaysians make smarter and well-informed financial decisions in life.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My TP-Link AC2600 wireless dual band gigabit router Archer C2600 with TM UniFi and Maxis Home Fibre support

I have been using TP-Link TL-WDR3600 dual band wireless-N router for home Internet access for about 3 years, and have just changed it with a new TP-Link AC2600 dual band wireless-AC router.

The TL-WDR3600 router is still functioning well, and I changed it for better home network experience. The reason for the change includes:

  • The 5GHz WiFi band of TL-WDR3600 has a short coverage area. I can only connect to this 5GHz band when my mobile device is near to the router. Further away, the connection speed on 5GHz band dropped drastically, and I ended up only have the choice of using the 2.4GHz band.
  • The TL-WDR3600 is a wireless-N router and does not support wireless-AC connection. As more and more wireless devices at my home are supported with dual band and wireless-AC, I have to retire it and change to a newer router with wireless-AC support to enjoy the benefit of wireless-AC network and new features such as Beamforming and MU-MIMO. I have chosen the Archer C2600 as its successor.
  • The price I paid for the TL-WDR3600 3 years ago was RM17x. Depreciating this cost over a 3 years period, it cost me less than RM60 per year. I don't feel financially guilty to replace it with a better one after using it for over thousand days.
Other than the limitation on 5GHz band coverage and lacking of wireless-AC support, I would say the TL-WDR3600 is a great WiFi router with stable, consistence and quality performance.

Coming on stage is my new TP-Link Archer C2600 router, which I purchased online at the price of RM68x (RM64x +6% GST) with Hari Raya promotion. At the front cover of its packaging box, there is a red sticker about its 2 years warranty support, and a blue sticker stating its UniFi and Maxis Fibre support.

At the back of the box, there is a comparison table for Archer 2600, Archer C9 and Archer C5.

I have also made a comparison table for Archer C7, Archer C8 and Archer C9 in March 2016. (Yeah, I have been surveying and researching around for the router replacement for quite some times, before finalized to this Archer C2600.)

The size of this Archer C2600 is larger than I expected. It is 10.4" X 7.8" which is about the size of a 10-inch netbook.

It has a larger power adaptor than the WDR-3600 too, and is of the same type with the laptop power adaptor. The adaptor converts AC current from wall socket into 12V/4A DC supply to power up the router.

The Archer C2600 is a MU-MIMO router with 4 antennas, which mean it is able to individually serve up to 4 MU-MIMO supported devices at full bandwidth on the 2.4GHz band and another 4 MU-MIMO on the 5GHz band. If the connecting wireless device does not support MU-MIMO, or the amount of MU-MIMO connections at the router has reached the maximum, the connection will fall into SU-MIMO mode, which means its connection bandwidth will be shared with other SU-MIMO connected devices. (For MU-MIMO routers, the more antenna the merrier, so this type of wireless routers usually have more antennas than the older non-MU-MIMO routers)

The Archer C2600 also comes with a modern looking web user interface, which looks nicer than the traditional TP-Link web interface for router administration. Anyhow, there is not much different in features and functionalities between the newer and older interfaces.

Setting up for UniFi IPTV is much easier than before, just a 2-step action of select and save.

Special note on turning on the UniFi IPTV setting:
  • Do not access the router administration web interface by connecting your PC to LAN Port #1 of the router, you should connect your HyppTV STB to that port instead. If you connect your PC to that port, you will end up unable to access the administration web interface after you click on the Save button, because that port will be assigned to a separate VLAN.
  • There is an option for IGMP Version 2 and Version 3. If you choose IGMP V3, your Internet link will be down. Your Internet link can only work properly with IGMP V2.
  • Certain function of the router, such as QoS, will need to be disabled once you enable the IPTV setting. Probably because they are not compatible with each other.
This Archer C2600 also supports the TP-Link Tether mobile app for you to manage it with your smartphone.

My experience of using the Archer C2600:
  • The LED is less brighter than the WDR-3600, which is good after you turned off all your lights for sleeping at night. In fact, the LED of the Archer C2600 can be configured to turn off by itself during sleeping time too. There is also a button on it to manually turn the LED lights on/off.
  • The 5GHz band coverage improved a lot. Now my Samsung UHD 4K smart TV downstairs is able to connect with it using the 5GHz band. Previously it can only connect with my WDR-3600 using the 2.4GHz band.
  • The overall WiFi coverage (2.4GHz band and 5GHz band) is much larger than the WDR-3600 too. Previously I can only get a poor 2.4GHz connection with very low speed at my car poach area outside the building, which is a few walls and some distance away from the location of the router. Now my mobile devices still able to detect the 2.4GHz WiFi with moderate signal at the car poach, and able to connect to the router at speed of single digit Mbps only. The 5GHz WiFi is also detected but signal is much weaker than the 2.4GHz. 
  • The connection speed improved a lot too. My HTC One M8 smartphone used to get a 150Mbps connection at home, now can get a 433Mbps connection. My newer Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone is able to get a 866Mbps connection, with its dual channel support.
  • My external harddisk connected to the router's USB 3.0 port has faster read/write speed too. Time taken to copy large file is shorter.

Therefore, I can say that the performance of this Archer C2600 wireless router is as advertised. At the price of RM68x, it really worth the upgrade from WDR-3600.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Understanding Wireless-AC bandwidth you can get from 802.11ac WiFi routers

Wireless-AC (IEEE 802.11ac), a.k.a. Very High Throughput (VHT) is the successor of the Wireless-N WiFi technology, and is the mainstream technology supported by today's WiFi routers and wireless networked devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC wireless cards, smart TVs, smart CCTVs, etc.

As a layman, we always see the wireless-AC device rated with AC followed by a number, such as AC2600. What does that number tell us about the supported bandwidth of the device? Well, the number is actually a close figure to the total bandwidth of all its wireless bands added up together.

Bandwidth is the maximum available network connection speed of two connected devices. The actual connection speed (i.e. throughput) between the two connected devices is equal or lower than the supported bandwidth of the connection. The throughput is usually lower than the bandwidth due to shared connections, distance, surrounding interference, obstacle in-between, etc.

The wireless-AC network can operate in both the "traditional" 2.4GHz frequency band as well as the 5GHz frequency band. The 2.4GHz band is usually congested with the older wireless-b/g/n networks using the same band for wireless data transmission.

Wireless-AC routers or access points are dual band WiFi devices, supporting wireless connections with both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.

The newer AC3200 and AC5300 routers support two 5GHz bands instead of one, making them a triple band WiFi devices.

The table below shows the bandwidth of each of the bands for the common wireless-AC types.

Let's say your smartphone is connected to an AC600 router (the 1st one in above list) using the 2.4GHz band, the maximum connection speed the phone can obtain is 150Mbps. If it is connected to the same router using the 5GHz band, the maximum connection speed is 433Mbps.

If you are buying an AC2600 router (last 4th in above list), you can expect your wireless-AC supported devices connected with it using 2.4GHz band to have WiFi speed of up to 800Mbps, and if connected using 5GHz band, can reach a maximum speed to 1733Mbps, which is even much faster than the Cat-6 cable wired gigabit network (1000Mbps) connected to its gigabit network port.

Note that the maximum bandwidth in each of the bands in the table above is a combination of bandwidth delivered by one or multiple channels running in Channel Width of 20Mhz, 40Mhz, 80Mhz or 160Mhz. Connection of two linked WiFi devices must be established using the same channel number.

In wireless-AC network, each channel in 2.4GHz band supports a bandwidth of 150Mbps or 200Mbps; and each channel in 5GHz band supports a bandwidth of 433Mbps.

An AC2600 router such as the TP-Link Archer C2600 could support 4 channels in 2.4GHz band (4 x 200Mbps = 800Mbps) and 4 channels in 5GHz band (4 x 433Mbps = 1732Mbps). If your smartphone only support 2 channels in 5GHz band, then the maximum connection speed with the AC2600 router is only 2 x 433Mbps = 866Mbps instead of the full channel 1733Mbps. If your smartphone also support 4 channels in 5GHz band, then it is possible for you to achieve 1733Mbps connection speed.

Note that WiFi is a kind of local area network (LAN). The internet access speed you can get from the router is still restricted to the bandwidth you subscribed with your ISP, which is normally lower. Anyhow, a fast wireless-AC connection enables network data transfer between devices within the local network to be speedy. This will enable smooth ultra-high definition video streaming to your 4K smart TV from another device.

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