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New Starhub set-top box at my mum’s place

24/07/2017 Leave a comment

I was surprised when I went over to my mum’s place a couple of days back. I found out that she had a nw Starhub set-top box. Apparently, my mum’s old one was not working so Starhub, in their indefinite wisdom, decided to send two of their incompetent technicians / engineers to my mum”s place to check what was the issue. They told my mum her set-top box was spoilt and told her that they will be giving her a new one.

And give her a new one they did. But here is the catch. The new one does NOT have a built-in hard drive. No. My mum has to BUY a new external hard drive, one that was specially prepared by a sub-contractor of theirs. And she had to cough up $99 to but that 1Tb Western Digital hard drive. Now. I am not against external hard drives. I use them and I find them very convenient and useful. BUT…and here is a big BUT. I draw the line at external hard drives being used in this fashion. All that is powering the drive and accessing the data on that drive, is a single USB cable. Now. Singapore is very humid….and you know what that kind of humidity does to external hard drives, and their respective cables. That drive also is at mercy to the whims and fancies of that set-top box. What happens when my mum switches off that set top box. Will the hard drive be unmounted properly? Will the hard drive still tun even though the set-top box is on standby? I asked Starhub that question but they were unable to answer the questions. But then again, I was expecting that.

Then came the connection behind my mum’s TV. My mum’s old connection was via a 5 x RCA component and L + R. connection. When they changed the set-top box, they had to get rid of the component cables that were connecting to my mum’s connection. Now all they had was a HDMI connection. I mentioned something about humidity in Singapore and how it fouls up connections behind things like TVs and VCRs. My mum’s TV has a problem with the HDMI input because it is oxidised. So now with the new box, the picture is bad. But did that bother Starhub? Nooooooo….

So I asked Starhub to give me an explanation via email. They said they would.

Dredging the canals of Amsterdam

23/07/2017 Leave a comment

I came across and got the picture above from this site and the first thing that came to my head was…so this is a problem that happens elsewhere too. We have some mischievous people here in Singapore who throw bikes, especially bike-sharing bikes, into our rivers and canals. So it looks like this deplorable act happens overseas as well. Apparently, according to the website, the city recovers as many as 20,000 bikes (and lots of other junk) from its waterways every year. Now that is a lot of bikes!

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Washing cars in Johor Bahru

22/07/2017 Leave a comment

When my friends go to Johor Bahru, or JB as it is more affectionately known, they go at night. This is to avoid the crowds that stream into Malaysia during the daytime. When my friends go there, it is mostly to pump fuel, have dinner and to wash their cars. There are many such washing companies in JB, like the one pictured above. I went there with a friend of mine some time back and after pumping petrol and eating, he went to wash his car. The car washing took some time, to be honest. There were many Singapore cars waiting for a car-wash as well, as can be seen here. Finally after what took an hour, we came back to Singapore.

Why do we do that, you may ask. First of all, it is about the Malaysian ringgit vs the Singapore dollar. For quite some time, the exchange rate hovered at about 3 ringgit to one Singapore dollar. That means, stuff in Malaysia is much more inexpensive, if we compare it to stuff bought in Singapore. Plus, the food is good, and comes with free entertainment!

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First-aid kit on an LRT train carriage

21/07/2017 Leave a comment

I saw this first-aid kit at the bottom of a seat on the LRT a few days back. I am glad to see that they have one but from where I was sitting when I took this picture, I did not notice anything like bandages, lotions and the like. All I see is a fire extinguisher and a torchlight. I wonder if the rest of the first-aid kit in that white thing, which I presume is box? I do not know. I sure hope that it is checked regularly and old, expired stuff is removed and changed. It is a far cry from the first-aid kits of old that I saw on buses and the like, back in the day. The contents got full of dust and looked pretty grimy. I would not use them to even treat a wound in the first place!

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It is literally a shitty job but someone has to do it

20/07/2017 Leave a comment

I was at a construction site of a client yesterday and I saw some of these portable toilet guys replacing a faulty portable toilet with a new one. Not the easiest of jobs to do. In fact, some can call it a “shitty”job. But it is an honest living and people that do jobs like these are essential in our lives. To the guys doing this, you provide an invaluable service to the industries like the construction sector. I personally salute you

Categories: etcetera

Whirlwind PodDI

19/07/2017 Leave a comment

I have seen it too often when I am troubleshooting installs. Some idiots always try to sum two stereo outputs into one, to convert to a mono signal. Rane has an excellent article on their website  named Why Not Wye. Every installer worth his salt NEEDS to read this and commit it to memory.

If however, you need to sum a stereo output to a mono input, get one of these Whirlwind PodDIs. I have never tried nor owned this piece of equipment above but if it is from Whirlwind, I would trust it. You can always build your own and the Rane website gives a schematic diagram on how to do so. From Whirlwind’s website, this is described as:

The podDI is a single output summing direct box. Use it to connect CD and MP3 players, computer sound card outputs, DJ mixers, etc. to professional equipment with balanced inputs such as a mixing console. Accepts stereo inputs and sums them into a single mono output.

This would be a great addition to the DJ toolkit. Sometimes, you cannot always get two XLR channels on a soundboard for your controller for example. The channels all may be used up or maybe all they can spare is one channel. I might get one of these. It looks like something very useful

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Martin Landau has passed away

18/07/2017 Leave a comment

When I was a little kid, there used to be this awesome sci-fi programme named Space: 1999, about a nase on the Moon named Moonbase Alpha, and the adventures facing the crew there. Martin Landau played Commander John Koenig. He acted in other films like Mission: Impossible but it was Space: 1999 that really got me. I mean, to a young kid growing up…sci-fi captured the imagination. The zany suits they wore. I used to dream about getting the suit that Commander Koenig wore. Sad to say, he has left this world at 89 years old. Rest in peace Martin. You will be missed…especially by those that grew up on that TV programme.