Delayed again.

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Not my wife. Well I hope she is but that is another story. πŸ˜‰

I have already made up my mind that I am going to get a MSI Wind NB when it comes out but it seems that the shipment date has been delayed again. With the battery shortages and Atom processor presumed shortages, I might end up getting one in September as originally planned. πŸ™

My wife is already kidding me that I would never get to own an ultraportable since by the time the Wind shows up, something better would be cooking in the background. The sad part is she might be right with the impending release of Acer Aspire One, Dell E (tentative name), and the currently planned MSI Wind NB Mark II!

But I am so going to get my hands on an ultra-portable on September. Or October. πŸ™‚


The office NTP server

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I started the day in a bad mood, again due to draconian IT policies in the office but this real-life instance made the day a bit better and worse at the same time.

Noticing that I am always a couple of minutes early for international conference calls, I asked my counterpart for their local time and found out that my system clock is 12 minutes in advance. I asked around and found that we have varying system clocks so I asked Mike, a junior member of my team, to log a support ticket for the steps to configure our machines to synchronize with an office NTP server as I know the local domain server has that service. I know because I already did it once using w32tm on my previous project but I can’t remember the name of the server that I used. Besides, it’s the support personnel’s job.

After some time, I was already in the call. I noticed that somebody was hovering near my station. He said something about a clock so I let him do his stuff on my machine since I only need the phone. I had to restrain from laughing when the support engineer started moving my trackball like a wireless mouse. Since if I let this continue I might blurt out laughing in the call, I just pointed to the clock and when he nodded I took over the trackball and double-clicked the system tray clock. I was already wondering what options are there for NTP synchronization since I already inspected it a while ago and didn’t see anything.

And then the unthinkable happened, the support engineer adjusted my clock by 8 minutes and pressed the Apply button. I was shocked but couldn’t say anything as my Madrid counterpart was discussing something important. I just heard the engineer talking to Mike about closing the ticket so I frantically waved my hand to get their attention, and hastily scribbled the characters “N T P ?” in a scratch paper. I just let Mike do the talking as I needed to focus on the call.

After the call I asked Mike what happened and he said the engineer stated that he just took a look at his system time before coming over and synchronized all of our machine clocks. Our system clocks are still surprisingly different (duhh!) but the engineer apparently said that it’s OK to have some discrepancies. Millisecond discrepancies perhaps may be alright but a full minute? And I didn’t know that we have a gifted engineer in the company that has his body clock attuned with the network’s NTP server.

I feel so safe in the reliable hands of our support personnel. /lol


Extra Joss: Apple Black Currant

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Among the numerous energy drinks available in the market, the only thing I have tried is the “Extra Joss” brand mainly because of the packaging. It is very convenient as it comes in a sachet that you just add to a cold glass of water.

The last time I drank one was years ago when I had to stay with my mom in the hospital when she had a stroke episode. I would like to think that the energy drink gave me some boost in that week long “endurance” and little sleep. The citrus taste and fizzy texture was a very pleasant experience.

A couple of days ago I saw the TV ad that there were two new flavors: club soda and apple black currant. I have been wimpy and stressed for the previous week and really tired so I bought 3 packs (one of each, including the original) from the convenience store at the ground floor of the office.

The first I tried was the “apple black currant” variant because I don’t know what “club soda” really tastes like. I got a black mug from the pantry and labored with opening the sachet. In the defense of the packaging, this is really stupidity on my part. I saw two dots in the middle that I took as perforation marks so I tried to open it from there. Only after thinking it through was I able to spy the real perforation marks near the corner. πŸ™‚

Back to the preparation, I dunked the contents on the mug and added some cold water from the dispenser. The powder fizzled so I gave it ten seconds to settle down somewhat before drinking. I first tasted apple but it might be because that is the first smell that registered in my brain. About halfway with the drink the bitter taste hit me head-on that I nearly spat the liquids in my mouth. I just swallowed what I already have in my mouth and then inspected the contents of the mug. I was surprised to see that some of the powder was still solid at the bottom. I don’t remember seeing this insolubility before. I added more water and swirled the mug a couple of time to shake things up. When I drank the remaining energy drink the taste was already too diluted but the bitterness was still there.

I am no longer sleepy so the drink must be working, but I don’t think I will try the black currant variant anymore. Once is enough. I am used to drinking black currant flavored drinks (Absolut vodka comes into mind /lol) but I can’t say that they taste bitter. Hopefully the club soda variant is going to give me a better tasting experience.


Pesky CD/USB Auto-play


I imagine that at first the Auto-play feature is the best thing since sliced bread. I think I first encountered it when I used Win98(?) wherein if you pop in a CD with the autoplay file it will start the named executable which is usually the main installer of the disc.

Then come WinXP (or Win2K, I can’t remember) wherein some brilliant developer/designer proposed to take it one step further, by making sure an autoplay dialog pops up to display a list of possible actions whenever the user puts in a media in the CD/DVD drive OR if a USB storage device is plugged-in.

I find that feature as very irritating, especially since I am a keyboard-centric user and I have a multi-partition USB HDD enclosure. I have four partitions in my 120GB WD driver so it means every time I use it in Windows I have to contend with eight windows (4 drive scanning dialog boxes, and the actual autoplay window). Somewhere along the four autoplay window is an option to set this behavior off (Do nothing+Do this every time) but somehow it is very elusive so I end up hitting the escape key vigorously to cancel these autoplay actions. These combative behavior does not always work since sometimes the windows do not have focus.

Even for DVD and CD media, I don’t like this option even if my next action will be to open an explorer and navigate to the inserted media. I don’t like it because the pop-out windows by their nature interrupts my train of thought. I prefer that the media be read in the background and I will press WinKey+E to launch an explorer.

So last night I finally got fed up and searched for a way to turn off that irritating feature. It was very easy actually and got a lot of hits; the keywords I used were “disable autoplay windows”. In a nutshell the steps are:

  1. In the run command, execute “gpedit.msc” which launches the group policy editor.
  2. Navigate to the User Configuration->Administrative Templates->System item. If you want this to be system wide, use the Computer Configuration instead. My wife may want this feature so I opted for the user-limited settings.
  3. Double-click on the “Turn off Autoplay” and set it to true.

Presto! No more autoplay nag boxes for me. I think KDE also have a counterpart for this in the kded(aemon) but I use XFCE so I don’t really have this problem when I am in Linux.



The problem is mine alone.

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Scenario At Work: A required resource service is not functioning properly.

Manager: Get somebody to fix it. ASAP!
Me: Will do.
[Me contacts internal support]
Me: Did we change something in the configuration? Product X is borked.
Internal Support: Nope. Everything is dandy. Try contacting the provider.
[Me contacts provider’s support hot line]
Me: Your service is not working properly. Please check.
ABC Support: Thank you for contacting Company ABC’s support hotline where (long spiel about how they are $DEITY’s gift to my poor existence). We’ll ask our technical team to look at it. Here is your cookie reference number.

[after an hour]
Manager: Well?
Me: (looking up from the pile of tasks being worked on) Err, ABC support hasn’t called back yet. Ill follow it up.
Manager: Should have done that eons ago…
Me: right! (whispering inside my head: and i am just twiddling my thumbs here… )

[calls ABC hot line]
Me: Im calling regarding reference number 123456. Any updates?
ABC Support: Thank you for contacting Company ABC’s support hot line where (long spiel about how they are $DEITY’s gift to my poor existence). Tech team has stated that they don’t see any problem with your service. It must be something internal (read between the lines: you are a stupid customer. all of your problems are your imagination. ITS NOT OUR FAULT, ITS YOURS). Please check your lines again.
Me: [groan]

[calls internal support]
Me:ABC said there is no problem from their side. Are you sure there isn’t any test that we need to do to isolate this?
Internal Support: We already executed all tests. Everything is still dandy.
Me: (whispering in my head: Oh crap) Uhhh, ok.

[puts down phone, somebody speaks up from behind]
Manager: Well?
Me: (startled) uhh, wait a second.

[pulls open the drawer, takes out the gun, points it in my temple and pulls the trigger]

Problem solved.

Note: Manager, ABC company, and Internal support are all fictitious characters. But they represent somebody real though may not be their literal counterparts.


Sau daw ako.

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Katrina Tan == mapang-matang tao. Porke nasa singapore lang. Sau daw ako. Di ko naman alam kung ano ibig sabihin non.

Feedback: CD-R King LSY709 Laptop Cooler

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My laptop developed some problems late 2007 which causes it to freeze regardless if I have Linux or Windows running. I initially thought it has something to do with the installed operating systems but reinstalling various Linux distributions didn’t help. My initial suspect was a heat problem. I turned Lala upside down and proceeded to vacuum the bottom side with the help of a couple of toothpicks to help remove the lint (and two years of use can accumulate a lot of those!).

LSY709 Cooler - Courtesy of CDRKing

Last February I walked by a CDR-King shop and decided to get a laptop cooling pad. The models available are only the slider ones which I don’t want. I wanted something that I can use as a prop stand while doing portable computing in the bed. The only non-slider model they have is the LSY709 so it is the model I got after being assured that it can accommodate a 15 inch laptop. If I remember correctly this peripheral is given a 7-day warranty.

First off, the cooler pad is able to hold Lala but not by much. The laptop is protruding by almost an inch on both sides, and 1.5″ at the hinge side. I don’t think the shop contains any cooler that is bigger so this is not something that can be helped. The pad’s construction is slanted which raises the back portion higher. It also has two plastic “stands” at the top corners that elevates the placed laptop a little further and gives a little air pocket between the pad’s metal surface. Overall the pad still fits in my laptop bag quite comfortably but I am anxious on the bare edges because even if they are smooth they may still rip the padding if placed incorrectly and forcefully,

One thing that is not shown in the site is the view from below so here it is:

The wires are pretty open which can be something to worry since I want to put this in my lap. Fortunately the fans are protected by grills so there is no possibility of my leg skin getting into contact if I place it on my lap while it is in operation. But the wires is still ugly as it is something that looks like what I would have done if I constructed it myself.

This cooler, as can be seen from the image posted in the cdrking site, has three quiet fans in the middle that pulls the heat from the laptop placed on top. Unfortunately my laptop’s bottom vents are on the top portion near the hinge so they don’t really line up. Again this is something that I don’t think can be helped because I reviewed all the cooler pads in the site (at the time) and all of them has the cooler in the middle. I think it is the laptop design (a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pro V7100) that is at fault here. I need to check the other laptops if the placement of the heat vents are in the middle. Nevertheless the air pocket between the laptop bottom and the cooler pad surface is enough to produce a swirling ventilation.

I have used the pad whenever the laptop is in use. The elevation works great especially when I am placing the laptop down on the bed. As everybody who owns a laptop should know (yes Boi, that includes you), putting laptops on top of fabric or paper is not recommendes as they are soft enough to block the vents. The cooler pad gives the laptop enought elevation that even if the fans are blocked, the laptop vents are still free to swirl the air around. I haven’t experienced any lock-ups yet.

Now the bad parts:

  • While the fans are quiet, their output must not be that strong. I can barely feel the airflow when I switch on the fans.
  • The bare metal approach is not comfortable if you put it in your lap. I get dent marks on my legs whenever I forget to put a throw pillow on the edge that touches my skin. The laptops weight (~2.5 kilos) might also have something to do with it.
  • Shabby wiring. As of today, the fans are dead. I think I can see where the wires got damaged and may be able to fix it if I get the time, tools and inclination. Right now this pad is only good for elevation. πŸ™

This pad is now due for replacement. Will I get the same model? Probably not. It was a value for what I paid for it but I think there might be something better out there that provides the right balance of price and functionality.