The little Toshiba sneezed...... H1N1 virus?

Subject was discovered to be feverishly warm and
unable to perform its expected task

Further diagnosis revealed subject to be experiencing
severe fits of sneezing, with mucus everywhere.
(Pls refer to stain on the floor)

Until further notice, subject has been taken to
ICU for further observation.

So, when the dealer called me, it was already past lunchtime. It seemed that one of their customers had experienced "System Down". Unfortunately, this is one of the models I am familiar with and so, the job was assigned to me. Also, so save time, I have to wait for my tech to arrive (instead of me driving all the way back to the Office) so that he could deliver a spare system to replace the current one. We're taking no chances as then it comes to System Down situations, we always have to prepare for the worst.

Seems like the TNB was the culprit because apart form the destroyed PABX, their air-cons and network were gone too, not to mention some other electrical equipment and PCs as well. As usual, TNB absolves from all blame. Putting in the spare PBX is no use either because the customer's tech said the voltage is running at 249v AC instead of the usual 220-240 volt range.

Amid the acrid smell akin to a hospital disinfectant, I knew the system was not going to make it. Its two main capacitors have blown. When it comes to blown capacitors, its a serious sign (in this case) that the power supply is gone and maybe some interface cards too. And yo do not want to be there when it happens. The sound and pyro effect might be dangerous but in this case, since it is housed in a case, all you would every notice was some firework cracking sound, minus the shrapnel.

The meaning of Booger

A Booger is something that comes out of your nose
when you sneeze. Kaelynn is the only one in the
family who can sneeze a complete booger out of her
nose. Unfortunately, she does not know how to
sneeze into a piece of tissue paper.

A boogie is a form of dance. Here, Kaelynn
is showing how to boogie after cleaning off
the booger.

Revell's 1/100th scale Snaptite Nautilus

While rummaging my stuff the other day at the other house, I came across this model which I have forgotten so long ago. And I also forgot where (Miniature Hobby in 1Utama) and why I bought it (too much cash as a single Engineer). Its a very simple model, where you just snap in all the parts and close the two halves together to get a sinkable submarine......

OK, I also forgot why I wanted to have LEDs fitted into the model too. But revisiting this model ten years later, it was so embarrassing. Sort of like you suddenly saw your own photos in the 80's, wearing THOSE hairstyles and clothes. Maybe it was the timing or coincidence but this model did alert me to a few things:

1) The LED technology at that time and also at Pasar Road was still in its infancy. These LEDs were dim by today's standards. So, I will have to redo the lighting and this time, use White LEDs, something which does not exist at that time.

2) The wiring is the same as Kal's recent project. All the LEDs were soldered in paralled and I forgot what voltage I wanted to put in there, most probably 5 volts as opposed to the 1.5 volts which was not enough at all.

3) I still suck at modelling.

These green wires were my favourite. Its actually
called wire-wrapping wires and it costs a bomb.
Also, its damn fragile too and you cannot just use
a blade/cutter to shear off the plastic sheath but
to melt it away. The cutters would "encourage"
the thin wires to snap off when you least expect it

OK, just for fun, I gave it 1.5mA. OK, so it glows

Then I pumped in 15mA and the lighting got better

At the maximum of 150mA, it was ideal. But here, if you
look at the LEDs, their lens are clouded and so, does not
give a spotlight effect. I might have to change that and
mix clear LEDs into it. This also means re-doing the
interior ceiling.

The LEDs are so old that even its lefs (black) have oxidised.
And this particular square LED does not light up anymore
and so, the mysterious power supply orb is not supplying
any power.......

Well, one day, when I have the time, I will definitely get this model done. Its just the lighting that I am not pleased with and I so wanted to motorised the propeller too. This model did not come from any 20,000 Leagues movie to show, if I recall correctly and thus, no reference photos of the model.

Which also means, I have total artistic freedom in doing this model with some 1/100 scale figures. Maybe I will build some extra rooms since the other side of the model is completely empty and you cannot see much from the view port as well. Perhaps a room where they steer this fine vessel. Or maybe a crew quarters with very "active" crews. Ha ha ha ha.

For Kal

OK. I have hit into a snag. After seeing the original item, I have doubts as how its going to be lit with just a 1.5volt battery. Perhaps there is something missing here. The problem is this:

Let's say each LED takes 0.025A or current and since there are five LEDs in there, wired in parallel, the total current consumed would be 0.1A. And by my calculations, I don't even need a current limiting resistor to do anything. Either that or the 1.5 volt battery I have is exhausted. Man, sometimes I really want to kick myself for not getting that RM400.00 adjustable power supply. But that's another story.

Anyway, once its ready, I wll give you a shout and let you try. Unfortunately, I had to use thicker cables since the more flexible thinner cables were being sold for about RM35 per roll (instead of per meter) and this would mean RM70 down the drain. But don't go connecting the green LEDs yet, OK?

OK, this is the original circuit and if I slot in a normal
1.5volt "N" sized battery (a half-sized AA battery la)
the LEDs were so dim, even you could barely see the
glow. But using a multimeter to pump in 15mA, the
LEDs were glowing moderately bright. So, this means
the "N" seized 1.5 volt battery or any other 1.5 volt
batteries cannot be used since the red LEDs needs a
minimum of 1.82 volts (or so) to light up.

I tried with the new circuit and the result was the same.
I even put in a 1 ohm current limiting resistor bit it still
glowed like a sick LED. Oh, don't get me wrong but
these red LEDs do glow brighter than the original
ones given to me. And so, in conclusion..........

The small battery holder might have been meant for a
12volt 23 (whopping) Ampere battery, the same ones
you use for your car alarm remote. Doing some rough
calculations, 100Ohm resistor would do the job but as
the red LEDs are very bright, I upped the resistance
to 470Ohms, which more or less still gave the LEDs a
nice little glow. How it will affect the green LEDs, well,
we will have to use another set of resistors after all.
Aha! This will certainly throw out all the available
cramped space in there out of the window, of course.
But in the long run, perhaps an actual designed PCB
circuit board might do the trick.

[Update 30062009]
I just found some green LEDs and connected to the whole circuit. Using the initial 470Ohm resistor, the green LEDs were quite dim. So, I reverted back to using the 100Ohm instead and everything looks fine but I worry about the red LEDs being a bit too bright.

I do not like Coffee

OK, I do not like coffee much. I only like them when I am in the mood to like them. I mean, sure, they do taste nice but somehow, its never the same as compared to drinking Nescafe. For one, Nescafe has that strange feeling of leaving you asking yourself, "Did I just drink that Nescafe?" and the oft feeling that the drink felt so thin, as if its flavoured water with sugar added. NEver mind if the latest A mentioned its full of antioxidant. But I just do not really like coffee unless:

1) Its mixed with chocolate (or even durian, yes, it does exist at one time in 1Utama) and ice blended

2) Its from those Chinese restaurant, "Kopi Peng" which is so thick, you suspect they added cornflour

3) Chek Hup 3in1 Creamy Coffee

4) Just plain black coffee and bits of sugar, especially on a cold day.

Other than that, for the rest of 24x7x265 days, I cannot bring myself to enjoy it. Sure, occasionally I would mistakenly spit the word, "Nescafe Ais" when I was supposed to order "Limau Ais" but there you go, I still won't like it. Another thing is, compared to Tea, which one sip would turn me into an Owl for the rest of the Night (and morning), Coffee offers me two choices: Stay up slightly later or sleep like a log when I least wanted to do so.

Which comes to this morning's story. A lot of people think I like coffee inclusing myself, sometimes, to which, in actual fact, I do not. While I was mixing my cup of Chek Hup cofferr, Mom came in and saw me doing that. Sometimes, she sees me eating of drinking some stuff and that would just be the slightest excuse to buy them by the container loads which would mean, I have to finish them off. OK, so I exaggerrated but this is also one of the reasons which I would like to have my food and drinks in private, if I can. Since I do not talk much, everyone would assume whatever I ate, would be my favourite............

Me: la... la..... la.... la...
Mom [rushed in]: You're making coffee?
Me: Yeah. MY coffee
(as in my own preferred brand, no those dangerously-increase-your-heart-rate green packs of Nescafe Coffee)

Mom: Here, you should try this. I bought it for you.
I took a look at it. [Hokay. Its pink. And this sets off the testosterone alarm]

Me: No thanks. I prefer my own brand
Mom: Well try it. Its quite mild

Me: Mild?
Here is where double meaning comes in. Mild as in what? Unfortunately, I could not
asked further as my Mom rushed out of the kitchen. So, let's have a closer look at the bag.

The word, "Power Root" on a pink background is never a good sign. Maybe my Mom is hinting at something. You know. "Power". "Root". Get it?

What the.......?
So, is it for me to drink and thus end our
family line or for my Wife so we can conquer the World?

Or maybe, its because of this. Nevertheless, I am NOT drinking this coffee. And the very idea of spending RM100.00 for a bras is really not my cup of.....

Trip to Mid-Valley

And so, today, after weeks of waiting, we finally get to do our shopping at Mid-Valley. I suspect we could have gotten there sooner. But I fell asleep. Then when I woke up, THEY fell asleep. Haih.

Yeah, I was so tired for the rest of the week as it was just work, work and work. The funny thing was, we only had enough time to have dinner and shop at Carrefour there. Being tired and with the aircon off at Carrefour did not dampen our spirits, which was quite weird.

The girls waiting while Mommy was getting ready.
Kristine's choice of music was a mix of funk jazz
and classics played by a playful monkey high on
sugar sitting on a small chair.....

Took some shots of these models.
But funnily enough, the girls were
not into them although the do like
the Barbie DVDs.

I particularly loved this dress though.

Clowing around in Carrefour

Back home, minutes before their bedtime. Kristine
with her new hairdband and I suspect, glasses as
well. Kaelynn was not interested although I think
Mommy got her a new hairband too.

While I was away at work.....

When I came back, Kristine told me some Auntie came by and gave her something...

Me: Which Auntie?
Kristine: The one we go to dinner when Kaelynn was fever
Me: Which one again?
Kristine: The one with glasses
Me: You mean Auntie XXXXX?
Kristine: Yeah, fat fat Auntie XXXXX?
Me: Oh, THAT fat fat Auntie, ah........

The photo was so beautiful, and I am trying to now
go on a quest to get that prime lens, whatever it
meant. I'm a sucker for these type of portraits.

And she was so happy with the postcard

Stuff from the 100yen store

While I was on the way to the customer, I could not help but stop by the Damansara Uptown's 100 yen store. This was also the store where I got those nifty boxes to store my memory cards and other mini whatnots. And so, I spotted these two really must-have items; a torchlight and another box. The only downside is that these items are supposedly selling at 100 yen each (RM3.70) but I have to pay RM4.90 for it......

OK, so, for less then RM5.00, I got this nifty looking
torchlight. And although it has a very loose switch
(a plastic slider which moves up and down to touch
the two metals) it was the design which attracted me

It has a nice stand, where you can fold it about and
then use it to point the light to where you want it.
Just standing there, I am already having ideas.....

The construction of the torch is very simple. Think of it
as a tube with covers on both ends. In the middle would
be the battery case, the bulb (yes, bulb!) and switch.

Here is the other item I bought, which is another case

Back home, after getting some batteries, the torch looked
very bright thanks to the reflector and has a nice weight
to it. So, what are my plans for this? I am not sure yet but
I plan to put some running lights into it and perhaps, some
RF remote receiver so I can change the running light order
from far. Unfortunatetly, its going to be one of those space
versus power issues again as the remote receiver uses a
standard 12volt voltage and there is not much space inside
the torch unless I gut the whole battery casing and really
customise it from scratch. Hey, thats a very good idea!
Very good indeed!

And so, this time, the box will be used to store my precious
microprocessor chips which always disappear when I really
needed them. (And when I do find them, I would curse as
they would appear in two's or three's) And these fragile chips
and not cheap either. No cheap chips to chip cheap cheap.

The new bathing routine

Once again, the girls have come up with something new. This time, it was to brush their teeth halfway into their shower. They would get their hair washed, then brush their teeth before continuing with the shower. I do not mind this but if they did this before dinner, I would have stopped them because it would be a waste.

And so, by tackling the teething problem, the girls
managed to find the root cause of hygiene

Kristine demonstrating how NOT
to wear pyjamas. First, you drape
everything onto her, like how you
would a gunny sack over a victim
before throwing them into the sea

Then you would stand up,
and this wold automatically
stretched the, dress
and the head would just pop up

And behold! There it is! Now, we just have to find
the hands....... Not easy with her running about.

New lighter

Its a new lighter. Yes, a new lighter! And when I first look at it, I was filled with a burning desire to get it. Just looking at the design sparked my very interest in turning it into something else. Maybe it was my flaming passion for taking things apart but after shelling out RM9.90 for it, I got the hot little thing in my hands.

Sssssmoking! (and I don't even smoke)

What if I make a prop out of this? Oh, the small arrow
shows that, if you slide it to one side, it will keep the
flame burning until the gas runs out or some plastic
part melts, ignites the gas and give you an forgettable
burning sensation in your hands or pants.

While I was in South City Plaza.......

I was supposed to meet an ex-colleague of mine for some reconditioned phones. And so, he suggested South City Plaza. Its one of those places that I always pass by without going in there as there was no reason to do so. All I knew was that when it first opened, there were a lot of people. And so, today was my chance to enter this curious place.

And not suprisingly, its running down. The main tenant, Parkson Grand has closed. And even the Toy City shop has moved/closed as well. And such signs meant slow demise for this place, similar to that of UE3. How can I tell? The moment they set up those temporary shops or area selling antique Chinese stuff, that's how. But luckily, my friend told me that they do have some colleges using the place and also, Giant was there as well. Compared it with The Summit and UE3, South City Plaza is still surviving. But if you ask me to go there again.............

Saw this outside a tattoo shop. A very
different kind of Batman.

Breaking down . . . . .

I am not sure what is happening to me. But things keep breaking down this week or, is about to break down. If its not the car, its something else. Last week, it was the car's remote. Then a few days later, it was the automated gate remote which has been acting weird. I have the urge to take them things apart and start to repair it myself. But with so much work at the office, its a miracle that I still manage to find the time to reflect on all this. Then again, at three in the morning, its too risky to run out to the car in the streets and take it apart in the dark.

I mean, what if I could not finish it in time and every parent sending their kids to school would just stand there watching me trying to undo what has been done? Or maybe they would find me sleeping on the roadside halfway repairing something which I am not familiar with.......

And so, for today, after re-soldering the connection
for the Nokia 5800's car charger, the fuse melted. Sigh.

The Solar Toy

I can't even remember what to call this anymore and so, to me, until I find a better name, is just a Solar Toy. In a nutshell, you feed it photons and it will rock left and right. And it only works best during the day due to some Labour Dispute about not being allowed to Moonlight.........

Ha ha ha.

Anyway, I've been wanting one of these toys since it came out in the last Century. But Bandai and Jusco still maintained the prices at RM39.90 every year without fail. Oh, they'll keep coming out new models but the price is still the same or even higher. And why would I want one so badly? I can't even answer that simple question but here is a close enough analogy:

You never wanted a small soft toy until you find the same one in one of those arcades machines where you empty all your Life's savings into it just to manipulate the grappling hook to free the dumb thing out.

OK, so its not a nice analogy. I think Mount Everest is be better one; "Because its there!"

And so, for RM12.90 I got one. Actually, I got two because
I forgot that the first one was nto working, I could have it
exchanged for another one within three days since I still
have the recceipt. And on the second day, I got another
one until the next day, I realised I had the first receipt.....

Anyway, its going into my Wife's car. You can take the base out, and put in the air freshener that comes with the toy but I just threw it away (The air freshener! The air freshener!). What it does is that the small little circuit in there would collect the free energy from the Sun, store it in the two capacitors and release them into a copper coil at a fixed interval and push the magnet held in place which connects to the two heads. In short, the two heads would violently jerk to the right with a soft high-pitched "shwerhk" sound every two seconds or so to start the momentum.

Just another girly night

Tonight was a bit funny but everyone was in high spirits. Especially Kaelynn. She is starting to be as happy and (unfortunately) as wild as her elder sister.

Kaleynn's literal interpretation of David Cronenberg's
1991 Naked Lunch. OK, so it was a hot day anyway.

After bath, all by themselves, the girls kept to
their promise of sharing stickers as Mommy
only bought one book since I bought them a
lot last week. We keep telling ourselves that
this will be the last time we're buying them
stickers as they stick them almost in every
place unimaginable.

Oh, and her bed's so soaked with wee-wee days in
a row, I sent Kristine to sleep with Grandma (which
she gleefully agreed). There were no mattresses
left as both beds have been nicely signatured done
by the infamous I-wee-already-before-going-to-bed
serial bedwetter Kaelynn

We're done doing it

Finally, our own Technical office/room is complete! But because I was busy with a customer for days, I did not really have the time to sit down and appreciate everything except today. Still, it was nice to sit in a corner with the air-con blowing behind me and my Techs on my left. Not only that, we'll have a repair area on my immediate left and also a testing bench behind me.

Yes! (No, I am not trying to be sarcastic here)

Only problem is, I am not sure if we're going to have
a door or not. But then again, this would not make
any difference at the moment. See the big box on
the right of my chair? That's all my junk which I'll
have to sort come this Saturday or else it will
be one big pile of crap which blocks everyone.

Of Professionalism and Ethics

While working on the customer, I noticed that they have spent quite a bit on cabling. And although the PBX system we're relocating for them is just temporary, it was done right. And I am impressed by the team who did the cabling. Not that we could not do the same but it would have taken us longer and there's only two guys in the company against an experienced team.

Still, I would very much like them to do such jobs but after seeing a Professional team at work, they were very much disheartened at the "David and Goliath" mind-set. Somehow, I have to get them to overcome this hurdle and boost their confidence. But the main problem is for them to think out of the box, plan their job and not take the easy way out.

I do not mind them taking shortcuts if its to complete the work faster AND in the PROPER way. Its the only way to ensure everything goes well. Because in this line and in any other service line, if you take shortcuts for the wrong reason, its going to come back to haunt you and possibly lose a customer too. And let me tell you this, in all honesty, Customers are not stupid.

Even if they act and look stupid. Trust me on this.

There was a problem with their old connector module
which I discovered after relocating their PBX system
and AFTER reinstalling back in place.

The problem was that one of the pins are not properly
aligned. This is not a good sign. I could take the easy
way out and leave it alone since the customer is going
to use it or two to three weeks before implementing
their own system (and effectively end our business
with them). Or, I could do the right thing even though
its a lot of work. What do you think?

The answer is obvious, of course! This one of the
why our customers keep calling us again
and again.

Whoever did this cabling, is a
Master. Its all arranged so
nicely.Must have taken them
a week to do this or even less.

And its all colour coded. Yellow
for voice and blue for data.