Saturday, April 23, 2022

Converted my Asus RT-AC86U router into AiMesh node and linked it to my new Asus RT-AX86U router to form home AiMesh system

Recently, I purchased a new Asus RT-AX86U router to replace my 4-years-old Asus RT-AC86U router. The main reason being I want to take advantage of the RT-AX86U's WiFi AX (a.k.a. WiFi 6) capability for some of the newer devices in my household.

What should I do with my old Asus RT-AC86U router after I have successfully replaced it? Well, I converted it into an AiMesh node to form a stronger, stabler home WiFi with larger coverage area, by creating an AiMesh system with the 2 routers.

Initially, I faced difficulty in getting my RT-AX86U to discover my RT-AC86U AiMesh node via wireless network, in order to add it into my home AiMesh system. I managed to resolve the issue by using a network cable.

Here are the steps to form an AiMesh system, with RT-AX86U as the AiMesh router, and RT-AC86U as the AiMesh node.

  • Make sure both the routers have already been updated to the latest firmware version. I am using  AsusWRT-Merlin firmware for both the routers, and the current latest version for both of them is 386.5_2.
  • Use a network cable to connect your PC or laptop to one of the LAN ports of the old RT-AC86U router. This is for you to use your browser to access the router's configuration web interface. Alternatively, you can also use WiFi connection to access the router's configuration.
  • Go to Administration > Operation Mode and select AiMesh Node. Click the Save button to confirm your selection.

  • Wait for your router to reset and restart itself into an AiMesh node, ready to join an AiMesh network.
  • Use your network cable to connect the WAN port of your AiMesh node directly to one of the LAN port of your AiMesh router.
  • Now, login to the configuration web interface of the AiMesh router, which should be the new router that links your home network to the Internet.
  • Click on the AiMesh button at the bottom of the Network Map page. The right panel will switch to AiMesh function.

  • Click on the Search button to search for your AiMesh node.
  • You should be able to find the old router as the search result almost immediately. If you don't use a network cable to join the routers together, but trying to use wireless connection instead, you might have trouble in finding the AiMesh node.
  • Follow the screen instruction to setup your AiMesh system. This process will take some time (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Once the AiMesh system is successfully established, you will be able to see the content inside the AiMesh function of the new router.
  • Congratulations. If you reach this step, your AiMesh system should be established. Now you can remove the network cable joining the 2 routers, and they should continue to link up with each other using WiFi connection.
  • Put your AiMesh node router to the location where you want to place it, and you are done.
You might want to configure your DHCP to give a fixed internal IP address to your AiMesh node router. You can find out its MAC address used to join the AiMesh system by clicking on its icon under the "List of AiMesh nodes in your AiMesh system" section, then click on More Config.

In future, you can update the latest firmware to your AiMesh node(s) from the AiMesh router's configuration page, under Adminstration > Firmware Upgrade.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

PERSOLKELLY Salary & Employment Outlook 2022 (Malaysia edition & Singapore edition)

Unlike the Jobstreet salary report 2022 (Malaysia Edition & Singapore Edition), which provides the insight of the current median salary figure in various popular industries, and also from the perspective of career specialization, the PERSOL Salary & Employment Outlook 2021/2022 (Malaysia edition & Singapore edition) provides a similar salary market value insight from a different angle.

PERSOLKELLY is a joint venture established in 2016 between PERSOL HOLDINGS (previously Temp Holdings) and Kelly Services. They are a prominent workforce solutions provider in the APAC region.

The PERSOL Salary & Employment Outlook report has listed down the market value range of salary by their minimum and maximum, according to the job title and job grade, coupled with the no. of years of experience.

Sample pages of the report are as follow:

Malaysia edition of the report has coverage of the following industries:

  • Banking & Financial Services
  • Engineering
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Human Resources & Administrative
  • Information Technology
  • Property & Construction
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Supply Chain & Logistics
Meanwhile, Singapore edition of the report has coverage of the following functions and industries:
  • Accounting
  • Customer Service
  • Human Resources
  • Office Support
  • Procurement, Supply chain & Logistics
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Banking & Finance
  • Engineering & Technical
  • FMCG & Retail
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Information Technology
  • Japan Desk
You can:

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Jobstreet salary report 2022 (Malaysia Edition & Singapore Edition)

Recently, Jobstreet has just released their salary report of Malaysia’s job landscape, and also of Singapore's, respectively. 

The reports aimed to provide insight of the current post-pendemic regional job market, as a reference guide for the hiring managers, HR, job seekers. as well as students planning for their tertiary education field of studies.

The information and statistics in the reports are analysed from Jobstreet own job advertising database, to come out with the median salary from various perspectives, and presented in multiple ranking by industry, by specialization, by position level, by location, etc.

From the reports, we can find out the current top 10 salaries by industry in Malaysia (figures in MYR):

and also the same in Singapore (figures in SGD):

In another perspective, we can also see the top 10 salaries by career specialization in Malaysia (figures in MYR):

and also the same in Singapore (figures in SGD):

There is also a section comparing the salary difference between SME and corporate, so that we can know how much is the salary gap between them.

The reports are pretty comprehensive and is a valuable tool for evaluating oneself whether he/she is well-paid, underpaid, or overpaid, comparing with the median salary of the peers in the job market at the same location.

You can:

Monday, March 14, 2022

My Youpin Suanglng JC-B18 2.5 litres mini washing machine

Do you remember my portable ultrasonic turbine mini washer that I bought at the price of slightly above RM40 that I used it to wash the mopping cloth of my Roborock S7 robot cleaner?

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that it cannot last long, and started to malfunction after about 3 months of daily usage. Maybe its motor is too weak to handle daily usage, and now it could hardly spin.

It is still a very good mini washer, probably for occasional use, such as when you're travelling.

Anyhow, I have found a more robust replacement for it, which is my Youpin Suanglng JC-B18 2.5 litres mini washing machine, which cost me around RM150.

This mini washing machine has a higher power motor than my previous mini washer, operating at 12V 10W.

It has its own bucket with touch power button. Other than the washing function similar to my previous mini washer, it also has voilet ray and ozone bubbles to sanitize virus and bacteria.

See it in action below:

Note that its bucket is pretty small, at the size of 165mm x 165mm x 187mm only.

Other than mopping cloth, it is also suitable to wash handkerchief, socks, underwear, baby clothes, saliva napkin, and other small items.

Hopefully this Youpin Suanglng JC-B18 mini washing machine can last for 2 years or more.

My Hericaine Twister R-6053 rechargeable portable dry and wet vacuum cleaner

It seems that vacuum cleaners nowadays have become more and more portable, light-weight, and more importantly affordable.

My Hericaine Twister R-6053 rechargeable portable dry and wet vacuum cleaner just cost me slightly above RM50 only, with full set of necessary components, and even with a 30cm x 30cm microfibre mopping cloth as free gift (not in the photo).

I like its carrying bag, which can store all of its components, making it very easy to store and to carry along. Everything in the photo above just has a total weight of less than 1kg.

I use this to vacuum my car, as well as tabletops, cupboards, cabinets, keyboards, desktop rig (outside and inside), printer, screens, corners, air-cond outlets, etc.

It is pretty small in size, and it operates with its own rechargeable battery without any power cord, making it easy to reach out to any place and any corner that you want to vacuum.

Upon full charge, it can operate up to 30 minutes. Its recharging time is quite long though, taking about 3 hours for a full recharge.

It has a pretty decent suction power of 3200kpa, able to suck in items such as paper clips and even small coins without much problem.

I like its wet vacuuming capability, enabling you to suck away spilled water on cushion, for example.

Its HEPA filter is washable and reusable. This HEPA filter is also sold as replacement item at the cost of around RM13.

Friday, March 4, 2022

My Okura 2-in-1 foldable aluminium ladder with clothes drying hanger rack

I believe every household needs a ladder for the purpose of ceiling fan cleaning, replacing faulty light bulbs, air-cond filter cleaning, reaching up to things at higher place, etc.

Your ladder would probably sit in your storeroom most of the time, until the moment you need to use it.

What if you have a ladder that has additional function to use it more often, such as being a clothes drying hanger rack?

The Okura 2-in-1 foldable aluminium ladder with clothes drying hanger rack would be the solution. It can function as a ladder, and it can also function as a clothes hanger rack, although you can't use both functions at the same time.

My 4-steps Okura ladder costs around RM150, slightly more expensive than ordinary ladder without the clothes hanging rack function. There are taller 5-steps and even 6-steps 2-in-1 ladders available in the market, selling at more expensive price.

This 4-steps ladder is good enough for condominium or apartment with not-too-high ceiling height. Its highest step is 96cm (3.15 feet) from the ground. It has a pretty tall and firm handrail for you to hold on. Being a ladder, its loading capacity is 120kg.

As you can see from the photo below, it is just slightly higher than a washing machine.

I find the length of this 4-step ladder just nice for it to be portable and easy to carry. Its weight is just 6kg, about the weight of a baby below 1 year old.

It can fit in ordinary sedan car, probably not in the boot, but with the car's back seats folded.

It is pretty robust and solid. Its handrail is covered with soft rubber, which is very nice to grasp. When you fold it and lean it against the wall, the soft rubber will not hurt the wall.

However, its rack is not able to hang too many clothes. The 5-steps or 6-steps model will have a longer rack to accommodate more clothes.

A use case for this rack is: to make use of the washing machine and clothes dryer for most of your clothes, while using the rack to dry your delicate hand-washed items, such as underwear.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

My Geekria 170cm stereo audio cable with noise-cancelling boom mic for my Sony WH-1000XM4 headset

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headset can operate in Bluetooth wireless mode as well as in 3.5mm audio cable wired mode.

The audio cable that comes together with this headset only support audio in but not audio out. As such, I believe the 3.5mm AUX port on the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset also does not have audio out function to transmit your voice collected from its microphone to the connected device when it is operating in wired mode.

The built-in noise-cancelling microphone of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset actually functioning pretty well. However, just like all other wireless headset without an attached boom mic, the location of its microphones is some distance away from your mouth. Your voice will sound a little bit "backwards" and much softer, compared to the situation of using a headset with a good boom mic. If the voice captured is too soft, it might become unclear to your listening party over the other end of a phone call or conference call.

To solve this issue, you will need another microphone, not belong to the headset, to take care of your audio out (which becomes the audio in of the receiving device, such as your computer or mobile device).

If the operating system allows separate handling of audio in device and audio out device, then you can make use of your headset to receive its audio out, while using a separate microphone to capture its audio in. Microsoft Windows can handle this kind of situation pretty well.

I believe all laptops nowadays come with built-in microphone, so you can make use of that for your audio in. For PC without built-in microphone, you can get a 3rd party microphone for its audio in.

There also exists another kind of solution, which is using an audio cable with a boom mic that can work independently on its own. This kind of solution is easier and more convenient to use, as you don't need to mess around too much with the audio settings of your computer's operating system and/or conferencing software. With this solution, you can turn your headset into a gaming or call-centre headset that can capture your voice loud and clear.

There are several brands available in the market, including V-Moda, Headset Buddy, Audio-Technica, Geekria, etc. I have chosen Geekria mainly because of its price of around RM35 only, and it works well like those more expensive counterparties.

My Geekria stereo audio cable is 1.7 meter long, which is a perfect length that is long enough for your convenience to use, yet not too long for easy storage.

Inside its packaging contains:

  • Reusable storage bag
  • The 1.7 meter audio cable with attached boom mic
  • Y adapter cord (to separate audio in and audio out, when needed)
  • Leather wire organizer strap
  • 2x microphone cap

Its boom mic is attached with an adjustable cord.

If your computer's 3.5mm audio port supports both audio in and audio out, you don't need to use the Y adapter cord, and can just plug it in as shown in the photo below.

If your computer has separate 3.5mm ports for audio in and audio out, you can plug it in by using the Y adapter cord, as shown in the photo below.

This Geekria stereo audio cable with noise-cancelling boom mic is fully compatible with the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset, as well as the earlier versions of WH-1000XM3, WH-1000XM2, and most other models of Sony headset.

With this, your voice will be recorded loud and clear, with unnecessary ambience noise filtered out properly, and with any echoing problem.

Try it out, and you will be able to notice the tremendous difference of using it than using the wireless microphone in the headset.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

EPF declared 6.10% (conventional) / 5.65% (shariah) dividend for 2021

After an even longer waiting time than last year, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF, a.k.a. KWSP) has finally declared the dividend rate for financial year 2021.

For year 2021, the dividend declared for conventional account is 6.10% while for Shariah account is 5.65%. The dividend will be credited into members' account soon, and you can check for it by login into your EPF i-Account.

Year 2021 was the 5th year of dividend declaration for Shariah account, while dividend for conventional account has been declared annually since 1952. The dividend for Shariah account in all the years from 2017 to 2021 were lower than the dividend for conventional account of the same year.

The 6.10% dividend for EPF conventional account in 2021 is 17.31% higher than the 5.20%  dividend declared for 2020 (last year).

Calculation: (6.10-5.20)/5.20 = 0.90/5.20 = 17.31%

It is 7.96% higher than the 5.65% Shariah dividend declared for the same year.

Calculation: (6.10-5.65)/5.65 = 0.45/5.65 = 7.96%

In year 2021, there are quite a lot of people has taken out a portion of their EPF savings through i-Sinar, i-Lestari and i-Citra schemes. Hopefully, their money withdrawn from EPF had put in good use. Otherwise, it would be wiser to leave the money with EPF to enjoy the 6.10% dividend.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Sony WH-1000XM4 on-ear wireless headset good for music listening, video watching, phone call handling, online conferencing and gaming

I believe there is no doubt about Sony WH-1000XM4 being the best consumer-grade foldable, stereo on-ear wireless headset with built-in internal echo-cancelling microphones nowadays (during 2021-2022) for music listening with superb active noise-cancelling (ANC) features.

Well, the following criteria are rules of thumb in determining a good wireless headphone/headset:

  • High fidelity of music playback
  • Relatively large driver unit (>=40mm)
  • Wide frequency range at both low end (<=20Hz) and high end (>=20,000Hz)
  • Good noise-cancelling function
  • Long battery life per charge, can last more than 30 hours
  • Support Bluetooth 5 or above. This is crucial for low power consumption as well as low latency between connected devices.
  • Simultaneous wireless connection to 2 or more devices
  • Personalize setting profile with artificial intelligence (A.I.) learning and adapting feature
  • Comfortability for long-hour wearing

There are several brands with top-range consumer-grade headphones that can meet all of the above, including Sony, Bose, Sennheiser, Jabra, Apple, etc.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is ranked the best among these best with its excellent noise-cancelling function, superb music playback (with the right equalizer setting), advanced A.I. personalization, and nice comfortability in wearing even for the whole day.

However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is at the same time losing score in its microphone function, bringing doubts of whether it is still good for handling phone calls and/or speaking in online conferencing.

After using it for some time with its latest firmware, I would say its microphone function is still above average, though not among the best. With a simple 3rd party gadget upgrade, it can even instantly be greatly improved to be ranked among the best in handling calls/meetings and also in voice recording for online gaming, podcasting, video narration, etc.

I had been eying for this Sony WH-1000XM4 headset for several months in 2021, but its price tag of around RM1,500 had made me a bit hesitant to buy it, until the last 2021 12.12 online mega sale, when I saw it selling at RM888 promotional price only, I've immediately bought it.

Now I have used this headset for more than 70 hours, most of the time for online conferencing, followed by music listening, and the least usage time is for answering phone calls. I think it's time for me to write my review about this Sony WH-1000XM4 headset based on my past 2 months of 70+ hours usage experience.

Unboxing the Sony WH-1000XM4 headset

This Sony WH-1000XM4 headset comes with a nice carrying pouch, which is a little bit bulky compared with some other headsets, due to its thick ear cups.

also come together with it in its packaging box are:

  • Stereo audio cable for 3.5mm port (without microphone voice out function)
  • Airplane in-flight audio adapter plug
  • Very short USB charging cable (good enough for charging using power bank)
  • Quick reference guide
  • Instruction for online registration of its 15 months warranty
  • Instruction to download the Sony Headphones Connect mobile app for Android and Apple devices
  • A voucher code for 360 Reality Audio 3-months free trial subscription in either one of Deezer 360, Tidal, and Artist Connection.

Adding a table-top tower stand for the headset

I have also bought a 3rd party aluminium headphone tower stand for it, at the price of around RM15 only.

Using the 2 buttons at the left ear cup

The Sony WH-1000XM4 left ear cup has 2 buttons. It is very easy for you to locate the correct button by touching and feeling around them with your thumb, without the need of seeing them. A brilliant UX design!

The upper button is a Customizable button that you can use to control either one of:
  • Ambient sound control
  • Google Assistant
  • Amazon Alexa
I have set this button for Google Assistant, and below is how the button works in this mode:

Continue pressing the button to talk or give command to Google Assistant.

When the headset is actively connected to a computer:
  • Press 1 time to toggle music start/stop
  • Press 2 times also to toggle music start/stop
When the headset is actively connected to your handphone:
  • Press 1 time to tell you the current time. Also to read out your phone's notification (such as SMS) for you, if any.
  • Press 2 times to stop reading the notification
The lower button is the Power button:
  • Press 1 time to tell you the current battery level
  • Long press to turn on/off the headset
By the way, the headset has a proximity sensor in this left ear cup. If it detects that you have removed it from your head, it will automatically pause the music and will resume the music when you wear it on again. It will also automatically turn off itself after you've removed it from your head for several minutes.

Using the touch panel at the right ear cup

For the right ear cup, its external surface is actually a touch panel, with the following functions:
  • Cover it completely with your right hand to enter into quick attention mode to let you listen to your surrounding ambient sound by greatly soften the music and temporarily turn off the ANC. It will go back to normal operation after you uncover the right ear cup.
  • Touch it with 2 fingers to toggle speak-to-chat mode on/off, to let you talk with somebody. In this mode, when there is a human speaking voice around, the music will be paused and the speaker will let you listen to the speech. This speak-to-chat feature can also be set to automatically turn on/off by itself based on A.I. detection of human talking voice, but you might face some minor issues with Microsoft Teams. Therefore, I prefer to manually control it using the 2 fingers method.
  • Tap 2 times (when call is incoming) to answer the phone call
  • Tap 2 times (in a call) end the phone call
  • Tap 2 times (not in a call) start/stop music
  • Long tap (when call is incoming) to reject the phone call
  • Long tap (in a call) toggle the call handling device between the headphone and your handphone
  • Long tap (not in a call) to start voice dial function
  • Swipe up to increase the sound volume
  • Swipe down to decrease the sound volume
  • Swipe forward for next music track
  • Swipe backward for previous music track
  • Swipe forward and hold at the edge to fast forward
  • Swipe backward and hold at the edge to fast reverse

Using the Sony Headphones Connect mobile app

The headset settings can be configured with your handphone using the Sony Headphones Connect mobile app which you can download from Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

The app is able to detect your Sony headset once the headset is paired and connected with your handphone via Bluetooth.

The Sony Headphones Connect app has 3 major pages under the Headphone bottom menu selection, namely: Status, Sound and System.

In the Status page, you can turn off the headphone from there. You can also view the current battery level of the headphone, its connection mode (Bluetooth or wired), the digital audio codec in used, whether DSEE Extreme is turned on, etc.

You can also perform the configuration for Adaptive Sound Control there. This is a very powerful A.I. enabled personalization feature which can adjust the sound output based on your detected action (either staying, walking, running or commuting), or based on your detected location (your home, office, favourite coffee shops, library, or any other places you frequently visit).

For each of the actions and/or recorded locations, you can have different sound settings for volume control, ANC level, speech handling, etc. Your headphone will automatically switch and adapt its sound settings based on its detection.

In this way, it can always optimize your music hearing experience by having adaptive settings that suit for your action or location. For example, you might want to maximize the ANC level at noisy places, but reduce the ANC level in places (such as your workplace) where sometimes you need to speak with people coming to you.

Scrolling down the screen, you can see information about currently connected devices (up to 2), and the current sound output is from which device. The headphone is able to automatically switch between the 2 connected devices based on the voice priority and importance, as determined by its A.I. You can also manually switch the sound output device here, or to select another device to replace one of the currently connected devices.

When you are using Adaptive Sound Control, the sound volume of your headset can be automatically adjusted to a just-nice level, not too loud and not too soft. The A.I. of the headset is able to fine-tune the sound volume for you.

Beside using the app to determine and change the 2 connected devices from the multiple paired devices, you can also perform manual connection directly from the devices itself.

For Android devices such as your handphone, you can perform audio switch from the Switch Audio notification tab.

and for Windows devices such as your laptop or desktop computer, you can do so inside the Bluetooth & Devices setting screen.

The headset is intelligent enough to determine which existing connected device to be replaced. The longer you use your headset, the more accurate its selection will be. 

In case it has disconnected the wrong one, you can always perform manual connection from either the mobile app or the connecting device to get the 2 connected devices as you want.

The last portion of the Status screen shows information of the currently playing music, and the current sound level. The information includes the singer's name, song title, copyright owner, and album name. It supports multilingual display.

My settings in Sony Headphones Connect

For your reference, here are my settings in my Sony Headphones Connect app.

  • Adaptive Sound Control: on
    • Detection of Actions: on
    • Ambient Sound Control: on with default noise-canceling settings for Staying, Walking, Running and Transport
    • Learning of locations you frequent: on
    • Registered Locations: I've registered for a few places where I use the headset, including home, office, library, etc.
    • Notification Tone When Switching: on
  • Ambient Sound Control: on
    • Noise-canceling set automatically by Adaptive Sound Control
  • Speak-to-Chat: off (suggest to turn this off if you frequently use the headset for online conferencing, particularly Microsoft Teams)
  • Noise Canceling Optimizer completed for:
    • Personal optimizing
    • Atmospheric pressure optimizing
  • Equalizer customized to emphasize on human vocal, with added clear bass for musical instruments. Below is my equalizer setting for your reference:

  • Analyze ear shape for 360 Reality Audio Setup completed
  • Sound Quality Mode: Priority on Sound Quality instead of Stable Connection
  • DSEE Extreme: normally off. Sometimes will turn this on while listening to Youtube Music.
  • Connect to 2 devices simultaneously: on
  • Function of Custom button set to: Google Assistant
  • Touch sensor control panel: on
  • Automatic Power Off set to off when headphones are taken
  • Pause when headphones are taken off: on
  • Notification & voice guide: on
    • Tips for language: if you want your headset to accurately read out non-English words, you need to firstly change the language to that language (such as Chinese). After that, you can change back the language to English.
  • Automatic download of software: on
    • Only when connected via Wi-Fi
  • Activity Settings: record activity
  • Automatic Synchronization of Settings and Records: enabled

Why Sony WH-1000XM4 is excellent for music listening?
  • Sony has the world's leading-edge noise-cancelling technology. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is superb in both passive noise-cancelling and also active noise-cancelling. After you put on this on-ear headset, you can immediately feel ambient noise around you to be much softer, a pretty similar experience with putting on the pilot headset when sitting in the cockpit of helicopter or propeller airplane. With ANC on, you can totally immerse yourself with the music, without disturbance from ambient noise. I have several experience taking a pee and flushing the toilet bowl while wearing the headset. Guess what? I can hardly hear the flushing sound.
  • This headset has a wide frequency range and able to playback the music in high fidelity. You can clearly distinct among the sound from different music instruments, as well as the human singing vocal, and feel their respective distance and position.
  • With its DSEE Extreme technology, this headset is able to improve the music from low bitrate and/or compressed music source.
  • This headset is very comfortable to wear, and you won't feel it "pressing" on your head or on your ears. The length of its band is adjustable, and I don't feel much discomfort even after wearing it for a whole day.
  • Similar to all other on-ear headphones, you can feel some heat around your ear after wearing it for some time. However, unlike most other on-ear headphones, the heat does not continue to build up, and it stays at a still comfortable state, even after wearing it for a whole day.
  • Its fully charged battery can easily last for more than 30 hours, even when you turn on all of its features, even with simultaneous equalizer and DSEE Extreme on.
  • It can work as wireless headphone, as well as wired headphone. It even comes with an airplane in-flight audio adapter plug for you to connect it to the airplane's in-flight entertainment system.
  • Although its 360 Reality Audio feature can only work with several selected online music streaming websites such as Tidal, if you happen to use any one of the supported online music streaming platforms, you will enjoy the great experience of listening to music with 360 degree surround effect.
  • This headset is intelligent enough to automatically pause your music when there is a phone call, or when it detects you take it off from your head. It can automatically resume the music from where it stopped after the phone call, or when it detects you've put it back on your head. It also has feature to soften or pause the music when you speak with somebody around you, without the need of taking it off your head.
  • This headset is highly personalizable. Its equalizer is working pretty well for you to fine-tune your music listening experience.

Why Sony WH-1000XM4 is good for phone call handling?
  • It's Bluetooth connection is pretty stable even though it is quite some distance away from your handphone.
  • It's microphone has excellent noise-cancelling function. Even when you are at a noisy place with lots of people talking, or with TV noise, renovation drilling noise, baby crying, dog barking, motor noise, strong wind blowing noise, etc., those noises will be intelligently filtered out for the other party on your phone. However, if you are in a really noisy environment, your own voice might sound a bit "mechanical" due to the filtering effect.
  • It's right ear cup has touch panel with pretty many features for you to handle your call.
  • Although your voice won't sound as clear and loud as with using headsets with a boom mic, it still can handle satisfactory normally conversation, especially with its latest firmware version. Besides, there is a solution to greatly improve your voice by using 3rd party audio cable with attached boom mic.
  • Other than phone call handling, you can also use this headset to communicate with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

Why Sony WH-1000XM4 is good for online conferencing?

I've used this headset in many video or audio conferencings in the form of Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom Meeting, Cisco Webex, etc. It can function well in all of them, by setting the conferencing application to use the computer system's audio as input and output.
  • I found that it's Bluetooth works better with computer (PC or laptop) than mobile device (handphone or tablet). Conferencing on computer using this headset has a more stable and better sound than mobile device.
  • Its features such as long battery life, comfortable to wear, does not heat up a lot, etc. makes it suitable for long hour video/audio conferencing.
  • Its excellent noise-cancelling features help you to filter out most of the ambient noise around you, so you can still comfortably have your online conference while you are in a pretty noisy place.
  • Your voice can be greatly improved by using 3rd-party audio cable with attached boom mic. Normally I use this when I am the main speaker/presenter in the online conference. Note that the original audio cable that comes together with this headset only support audio input but not audio output. When getting the 3rd-party audio cable with attached boom mic, you need to make sure the boom mic supports echo cancelling and noise-cancelling.
  • If you are working with multiple computers at the same time, you will find its ability to connect to 2 devices at the same time be very useful.

Why Sony WH-1000XM4 is good for video and gaming?
  • With the correct equalizer setting, this headset is capable to bring you great cinematic sound. It sounds so real to immerse yourself into the video or game.
  • This headset has very low non-noticeable audio latency when connected using Bluetooth, and no latency when connected using audio cable. Your screen's action is in sync with the audio you hear, without any noticeable delay effect.
  • For online gaming that you are going to talk a lot with your partners in the game, your voice will be loud and clear by using a 3rd-party audio cable with attached boom mic.

Some limitation of Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 will be perfect if the following shortcoming can be resolved, perhaps in the future version of WH-1000XM5.
  • It does not have a mute button. If you want to temporary mute it during a phone call or conference call, you need to do it on your phone dialer software or conference application.
  • Its original audio cable will be perfect if can support audio out, and comes with a good detachable boom mic.
  • It will be nice if its ear cups can be less bulky in design.

All-in-all, if you are looking for a good headset for music listening, video watching, phone call handling, online conferencing and gaming, you won't be wrong getting this Sony WH-1000XM4.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

PTPTN announced 2021 dividend for SSPN-i and SSPN-i Plus

The Malaysia National Higher Education Fund (Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional, PTPTN) has just announced quite a disappointing dividend for year 2021 for the education savings schemes SSPN (Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional, consists of Simpan SSPN Prime which formerly known as SSPN-i, and Simpan SSPN Plus which formerly known as SSPN-i Plus) on 22 February 2022.

The 2021 SSPN dividend payout rate is only 3%, amounting to RM206.25 million. This rate is the second-worst since inception, just slightly above the worst dividend in 2009 of 2.5%.

This 3% dividend will be credited into our SSPN accounts respectively on 25 February 2022.

According to PTPTN, the number of SSPN accounts opened to date is 5.24 million.

Historical SSPN-i dividend payout rate is as below:

  • 2021: 3.00%
  • 2020: 4.00%
  • 2019: 4.00%
  • 2018: 4.00%
  • 2017: 4.00%
  • 2016: 4.00%
  • 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%

You can proceed to the Online SSPN-i Statement of Account website to check the transactions and amount of savings in your kid's SSPN account.

You are also highly encouraged to read about Online paying PTPTN / SSPN-i with credit card through Boost.

Beside that, the Ganjaran Kesetiaan Simpan SSPN Prime 2022 campaign is now launched and active until 30 April 2022. You can enjoy a 1% return for new money exceeding RM500 that you put into your account during the period, provided that no withdrawal of any money from your account until 31 July 2022. Maximum amount to be given under this campaign would be RM8,000 per account.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

How to find a new job in IT nowadays

As one of the many IT professionals, do you feel that you are not that aware of your value in the market and do not know how to sell yourself? Are you just don't like doing sales?

It is especially difficult for those who were last interviewed quite a long time ago. Since then, the rules of the game in the job market have changed significantly.

The IT job market, in general, is somewhat different from other markets:

  • A very large online presence of job seekers and companies.
  • Very fast distribution of information about negative and positive developments.
  • In many specialties, demand exceeds supply, based on which companies are adjusting HR policies and ways to attract/motivate employees.
  • The too-rapid growth of salaries, if compared with other spheres.

At the start, it's important to let everyone know about you.

Only 20-30% of jobs are posted on job search sites.

These days, candidates respond to ads rather infrequently. Published jobs are only a small part of the job market.

The bulk of the work is with passive candidates. Hiring managers and recruiters scout the internet daily for the right people. To help them find you, fill out social profiles and clearly state what you're looking for.

LinkedIn - The primary job and professional search platform these days.

  • Specify the technology stack you've used to work with. To screen out the unwanted jobs, you need to clearly state your job title in the Title, mention your stack or programming language. For example: Frontend React Developer, Fullstack.Net Programmer, Senior Java Engineer, Java Team Lead. Then you will have fewer unnecessary offers from recruiters.
  • Be sure to write technical skills right in the About field. This will help you get a clear idea of your skills. Do not write long sentences. Give the reader a clear text structure about your skills. For example: programming languages, frameworks, databases.
  • Describe in detail your work experience. Under each job, clarify the essence of the project/product, your role in the project and tasks, technology stack. A common mistake candidates make is to limit their experience description to the job title, time on the job, and company name. All the information a recruiter needs is omitted.
  • Certificates by profession, courses are taken, recommendations from colleagues and clients - the more of these in your profile, the higher the level of trust for you. Certificates must be relevant and up-to-date. Things change rapidly in IT: it makes sense to expose information within 5, at most, up to 10 years. Certificates and course completion certificates are often not a requirement in the hiring process. However, constantly improving one's skills and qualifications, bringing programs and courses to completion, and being result-oriented will set a candidate apart from the crowd.
  • Don't forget to ask for a line or two of recommendations from colleagues and supervisors.
  • LinkedIn has special setting called #OpenToWork you need to turn on so recruiters can find you. 

Job Search Sites and Online Resumes

It's a good idea to upload your resume to popular job search sites, such as Jooble which has job coverage in over 70 countries around the world.

But keep in mind that not all firms have access to a resume database of different sites. By creating a resume on each of them, you broaden your search/resume for employers. The principle of describing technical skills and experience is similar. Put technical skills summary at the beginning, in the most prominent place. Describe your work experience in detail.

Try to avoid writing a monolithic text and using too long sentences. No one will read it. Make the description of your experience user-friendly, clearly structured, and understandable.

Add a link to your portfolio

If you're a developer or automation QA, upload samples of your decent code to Github and put a link to it along with your contact info on your CV and LinkedIn profile - this will help in the evaluation process of your technical skills since most employers are looking at what you really can do. Code samples say a lot more about you than thousands of words on a resume. Especially in the case of juniors. A designer or web developer without a portfolio looks really weird. 

If you don't have any projects to show, or have something very old that doesn't reflect your current level, it's better to put them away and not show them to anyone.

Google yourself for a job.

You already know that only 20-30% of market jobs are posted on job search sites. So be proactive in your job search - search LinkedIn for job offers, recruiters, and managers using keywords like: We are hiring, Looking for Java, C# developers.

Send out applications and resumes, and write to them directly, all the while showing your interest. Write about why you are a good candidate and what makes you different. Stay tuned for news about startups that are invested in, or companies that report good business results and expansion plans.

Visit IT companies, subscribe to their social media accounts and newsletters and stay up-to-date on their news.

Widen your search

Write to your former colleagues or ask your acquaintances. Personal networking is still one of the most effective job searches today.

Subscribe to Telegram channels and Facebook groups where job ads are posted. You can also make use of Jooble to have a centralized access to job opportunities posted in LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Craiglist, Glassdoor, Indeed, Jobrapido, Jora, Facebook, YouTube, etc.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Understanding headphones vs headset vs earbuds, on-ear vs over-ear vs in-ear, wired vs wireless vs true wireless, closed-back vs open-back

It seems that there are quite a lot of earphones related terms nowadays.

It is imperative for you to understand what the terms meant, so that, from their product description, you can understand the nature of the earphones you are aiming for. This will help you ensure that you won't buy the wrong type of earphones that is different from your real preference.

Headphones vs headset vs earbuds

  • Headphones - the sound device with 2 drivers, connected by a headband, to be worn over your head and covering your ears with its ear cups.
In terms of audio playback channel, they can be of:
    • Mono - single-channel audio. Both left and right drivers playing the same audio.
    • Stereo - dual-channel audio. The sound is divided into left channel and right channel. This enables the headphones to produce wider sound width, and the ability to create sound directionality, perspective, as well as simulation of real space.
The ear cups can be of type:

    • Foldable - more easier to carry in flatter pouch.
    • Non-foldable - more suitable to be used at fixed location.
The headphones can be of type:
    • Without noise-canceling treatment - you can still hear the external noise, mixing together with the voice coming from the headphones itself.
    • Passive noise-canceling - able to isolate external noise with the headphones structure and material used. This can minimize the disturbance and annoyance of ambient noise when you are listening through your headphones.
    • Active noise-canceling (ANC) - able to eliminate external ambient noise by producing sound waves with frequency that cancel out the ambient noise frequency. This can create a quiet listening environment for you to focus on the sound coming from your headphones only.
The headphones can be of type:
    • On-ear - the ear cups are put right on your ears. This type of headphones usually has smaller ear cups. Some of the disadvantages of on-ear headphones including:
      • Poorer ambient noise isolation.
      • More tendency of voice leakage - people near you can hear what you are listening to.
      • Need to clamp tightly onto your ears, will cause ears pain when use for long time.
    • Over-ear - the ear cups are larger and sit on your outer ears. This type of headphones are usually more comfortable to wear, has better ambient noise isolation, can prevent voice leakage. They usually have a more expansive sound stage. Depends on the material used, when use for long time, you might feel heat building up at your ears due to poor air ventilation.
The headphones can be of type:
    • Closed-back - the ear cups are fully covering your ears.
    • Open-back - there is a gap at the back of the headphones, so that you are still able to listen to your own voice more clearly when you speak. It also provides better ventilation to have less heat building up after long use.

  • Headset - is a kind of headphones with built-in microphone to capture voice input. This ability enables the headset to provide functions such as making/answering phone calls, voice recording/streaming, using voice commands to "talk" with A.I. virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa (a.k.a. Echo), Apple Siri, Alibaba Genie, Xiaomi Xiao Ai, Huawei Celia, Tencent Xiaowei, Samsung Bixby, Microsoft Cortana, etc.
The microphone can be:
    • Internal - inside the ear cups. Less external parts. Voice quality might not be as good as the one with external microphone, because the mic(s) are located further away from the mouth.
    • External - normally in a form of boom mic which can be positioned right in front of your mouth. The external microphone can be of type detachable or non-detachable from the headset.
Better type of microphone has echo-canceling feature to prevent echoing the sound coming from the sound output device.

Better type of microphone also has noise-canceling feature to filter out ambient noise such as the noise from wind, motor, fan, air-cond, moving vehicle, TV, etc.

  • Earbuds - are without headbands, small in size, fits directly into your ears. They are very portable, but usually have shorter battery life, and could drop off from your ear when you jump or move vigorously. They are also more intrusive in nature, and some people find uncomfortable wearing them.
The earbuds can be of type:
    • On-ear - less intrusive in nature.
    • In-ear - to be put into your ear canal. This can provide better passive noise cancellation.

Wired vs wireless vs true wireless

  • Wired earphones, regardless they are headphones, headset or earbuds, has audio wire connecting them to the sound-producing device, which can be a handphone, computer, MP3, musical instrument, etc.
The wire can be of one-way type, sending sound signal from the source device to the earphones. On the other hand, two-ways wire can also send sound signal from microphone of headset to the connected device.

Signal sending in the wire can be of analog type or digital type.

For digital type of audio, the coding format can be of:
    • aptX (Qualcomm)
    • LDAC (Sony)
    • AAC
    • SBC
    • FLAC
    • ...
but more importantly for the quality of audio is its bitrate in kilobits per second (kbps). The higher the better.

  • Wireless earphones communicate with the attached device using wireless communication, which can be of proprietary protocol, Bluetooth, or even WiFi. 
Bluetooth is commonly used, because it is easier to do pairing, consumes less electric power, but it is also limited by relatively short reaching distance.

Certain wired earphones can work without any battery, powered by the electric current in their own wire. But all wireless earphones need to have their own power supply, usually in the form of built-in rechargeable battery.

  • True wireless earbuds refer to earbuds without any wire. This is to distinguish from certain wireless earbuds that are still connecting the right earbud and left earbud to each other with a wire or a band.
Certain true wireless earbuds have internal microphone too, mainly for handling phone calls.

Certain wired earbuds consist of additional components such as:
    • Microphone that attached to the wire.
    • Control dial to control the sound volume easily.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

My Nippon II NP2-348T mechanical 24-hour segmented timer electric power switch

If you want a certain electrical appliance to be switched on during certain time period(s) of the day, and be switched off otherwise, this Nippon II NP2-348T mechanical 24-hour segmented timer electric power switch can be very handy to you. It cost only less than RM20.

Some examples of usage including:

  • Switching on your TV and set-top-box during day time, and switch them off at midnight.
  • Switching on a light during night time, and switch it off during day time.
  • Switching on a Wifi AP during day time, and switch it off at midnight.
  • Switching on a power charger for 3 hours, then switch it off.
This mechanical segmented timer switches is designed to work in a "set it and forget it" manner. You just need to set it correctly for one time, and it will continuously switch on/off the electricity supply of its socket according to your setting, on daily basis.

Programming this mechanical timer switch is pretty easy.

Each tappet on its dial represents a 15 minutes time interval. If it is pushed in, there will be electricity supply to its socket during that 15 minutes time interval; otherwise, if it is pulled out, there will be no electricity supply to its socket during that 15 minutes time interval.

There are 96 tappets on the dial. You program the timer switch by pushing in and pulling out the tappets accordingly.

When plugged into the wall socket with power switched on, the dial will rotate like a clock, and the electricity supply to its socket will be turned on/off according to your setting.

To make it works at the right timing, just locate an arrow at its top right corner, then dial its ring so that the arrow is pointing to the current time.

There is a bypass switch at its right hand side. If you switch it to "On", the timer will continuously supply electricity to its power socket, and ignore all the settings programmed with its tappets. This is handy when you want to turn on your electric appliance during the time period which it is programmed to be off.

If you switch the bypass switch to "Timer", then it will work according to your programmed time schedule.

If you want to switch off the electricity supply to your appliance during the time period which it is supposed to be on, you can just turn off the wall socket power supply.

However, turning off the wall socket power supply will also stop the dial from rotating. You will need to adjust the dial position to current time after you turned on the wall socket power supply again.

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