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.

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