Thursday, November 30, 2017

Automatic incoming and outgoing calls recorder for Android phones

Have you ever encountered any situation that you wish to record down your phone conversation for future reference?

It could be a negotiation talk, or a sales order through phone, or any conversation containing message which you need to record down that typically you'll quickly search for paper and pen and asked the other party to repeat it. It could also be a scam call that you want to keep evident, or any other phone calls that you just want to save.

I use Automatic Call Recorder developed by Appliqato Software for this purpose. It is free for use (with ads), and you can also purchase the ads-free Pro version which will also unlock some of the unique functions not available in the free version.

Take note that there are quite a number of "call recorder" apps that can be found in Google Play Store. The one that I mention here is developed by Appliqato Software which has already achieved a few hundred million installation.

The beauty of this app is that once installed with automatic recording turned on by default, it will automatically record all your incoming and outgoing calls on its own without the need of prompting you. You can also temporary turn off this automatic recording function in its Settings.

Recorded calls will appear in its Inbox which you can replay and perform further action, such as save it permanently (will move from Inbox to Saved folder), jot down a title and notes about what is the call about (for your search reference), delete it, share the recorded audio to another app (such as sending to Whatsapp, Telegram, email, cloud drive, another phone through Bluetooth, etc.).

This call recorder can save the recording in either one of AMR, AAC, MP4 or WAV format. The default AMR format is suitable for voice recording, which produce relatively small file size. In case the recording sound volume is too soft, you can make configuration to increase the loudness.

You can configure the app to automatically save a copy of the audio record to your Google Drive or Dropbox, and you can specify for this synchronization to happen only when the phone is connected to WiFi.

Under Storage setting, you can specify how many number of recordings to retain in the Inbox, and the storage location path of your Inbox.

Under Filters setting, you can specify whose phone calls to record, and whose phone calls to skip recording. By default, all calls will be recorded.

In case you find the app failed to record some of the calls, it might be due to battery optimization function of your phone, which you can set to ignore battery optimization for this app.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My Snapware Eco Grip 600ml glass drinking water bottle

To keep myself well hydrated at work, I have bought a Snapware Eco Grip 600ml glass drinking water bottle at AEON department store. This drinking bottle with premium quality comes with a price slightly higher than normal plastic or aluminium drinking bottle. Luckily AEON was giving a 30% discount when I made the purchase.

Anyhow, its price is still comparatively cheaper than glass drinking bottle for some other brands.

This drinking bottle is FDA compliant, totally free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), and dishwasher safe too. It can be used to contain either hot, cold or warm water and beverage.

I prefer glass bottle than plastic or metal as glass is non-toxic and has non-porous surface that won't accumulate bacteria or residual. Besides, the glass is transparent in nature, easier for us to detect any contamination or change to the liquid inside the bottle. Glass material also won't have chemical reaction to the liquid it contains, which could be neutral, alkaline or acidic in nature. It also won't melt or release harmful chemical under direct sunlight.

The type of glass used for this Snapware product is borosilicate, which has higher resistant to thermal shock and less dense (weight lighter) than normal glass. Borosilicate glass is commonly used in laboratory glassware, medical devices and cookware. Its working environment can go as low as -20 degree Celsius to as high as 400 degree Celsius. However, being a glass material, it is not recommended for it to undergo a sudden huge temperature change within short period of time (don't take it out from a freezer and directly heat it up in a microwave oven).

Being a glass bottle, it is easy to break if not handled with care. The Snapware Eco Grip comes with a Neoprene sleeve with nylon strap. This non-slip sleeve covers most part of the glass bottle, protecting it from accidental breakage to a certain extend. It also provides a comfortable and easy grip, couple with the ergonomic bottle design.

Neoprene is the same material used in diving suit and certain swimming suit. It is waterproof and heat resistant in nature. This means you can hold the bottle without much problem even if the water inside is cold to freezing point or hot to boiling point.

The cap of this bottle is very easy to open and close, without the need of much twisting and turning compared to normal bottle cap. It is designed to be leak proof too.

Its size is just right, easy to put in bag and carry along. With only 600ml capacity, it won't feel heavy even when fully filled with water. Some people might prefer bigger capacity such as 1 litre, 1.5 litre or even 2 litre container, which will be heavier to carry. However, 600ml is not enough for whole day drinking. It needs refilling during half-day.

Snapware has another similar product called Eco Flip which is taller but thiner. Take note that the Eco Flip drinking bottle has even smaller capacity of 500ml only.

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.

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