Work and Personal development

As I’m being employed to an organisation for a long period of time, there is always room for personal/work development. Over time, new things appear and you’ll start in pursuit for such new technology and skills. Something to improve one’s skillset or work knowledge so that oneself can improve one’s contributions to an organisation. Having said that, such scenario usually happens in a very optimistic world or an organisation that loves to spend mindlessly. In truth, it’s hard work and a lot of convincing and coercing to do. Well, unless you are a seasoned ‘shoe polisher’, you have to wait. A very long wait. Acquiring resources (regardless it’s training or equipment) to commit my work more efficiently is a taxing effort. Asking approvals from a procrastinating management is like squeezing water out of a rock. A fruitful outcome usually took me more than a year to realise.

Learning from those bitter experiences, I’ve grown up. I’ve learned to uphold the good old saying, “If you want to do it, do it yourself” and have decided to invest my time, my finance and my own effort to get things done (of course I have to watch out my budget and monetary constraints unless trading dirt and old clothes are expensive commodity out there now). I’ll pay and I’ve paid my own training and equipment. That’s that!

So how does it feel? Satisfied, yes. A dent in my pocket, definitely a yes but it was worth it. Knowledge is priceless and they can’t take it away from you, unlike a company mobile phone; it’s not like I’m entitled to one anyways. ; )

Cyanogenmod 7 on Milestone

It has been a while since I upgraded my Motorola Milestone from its stock Android to a community mod Cyanogen. I must admit rooting it and run Gingerbread (ver 2.3) does open up my mobile performance and range of apps to play with.

Alas, not everything is perfect. The mod OS drains my battery faster than the stock. It even drains faster when my 3G radio is on. I’ve tried ways to knock down the power consumption but so far no success. The stock camera is acting up too. It froze after taking a shot. For now I’m relying on a third party app.

Ok, aside from those  gloomy whinges, there are brighter sides as well. It’s faster, less rebooting to flush over-gorging of memory and better apps memory handling. And yes, I can install apps to the SD card (Motorola stinged on Milestone internal memory, bah).

I’m still waiting for a newer release that will follow up the issues and hopefully addresses them.

But at the end of the day, it’s frustrating but it is still worth it. I happy with it….for now : )

WordPress and its releases

WordPress is updating its release faster than I can update! As of now, the lastest is version 3.1.2.

It’s a good thing the recent WordPress provides an automated upgrade of a defunct version to a new one. I remember those days I had to turn off each plugin one by one before I FTP’d the latest files to my blog. Oh, I must not forget to backup the database too!

Also, the theme I’m using is not as versatile with the new 3.xx. It was mean for the earlier versions. Sigh, more work.

Miscommunication or epic fail?


One of many frustrations we IT professionals have to face is miscommunication or misinformation. The outcome has a ripple effect; small insignificant misiplaced information will tend to produce a big crack in the project. It gets worse if the crack starts from the begining of the project life cycle. And yours truly have the honour to experience such eventful moments once too often. There’s this scenario with a recent project I was dealing with may not sound like a huge project that cost a lot of money but nevertheless, time was wasted.

It goes like this. According to the manager after a meeting with the sales team, they wanted a button (manager’s favourite term for anything that is clickable which sends you off to somewhere) that is attached to marketing emails which allow potential clients to download it onto the desktop like an application icon. Double clicking it will then trigger a web browser and navigate itself to a specific CMS website. The manager stated specifically, the button must have the company’s logo in it. In an IT nutshell, it’s a URL shortcut with a customised icon.

Sounds pretty simple enough huh, except a few critical areas he’s not aware of. As email technology advances, a lot of unfavourable things catch up as well. Virus, trojans, spam, you name it are used to attack users via emails. Attaching a URL shortcut is one of them. Antivirus/Spyware/Malware/Spam filters are very edgy and alert on these attachments and very likely they will be filtered as spam or blocked. Next bright idea (and also unfavourable) is attaching an executable file. That will definitely sound the alarm louder. Another problem is different OSes the clients are using. In the manager’s ideal world, M$ Windows is assumed the OS clients engaged with (loved it when a debate ensures with a ‘What’s the percentage of insert-operating-system-here that our clients are using?). Okay, let’s ‘assume’ every client is a Windows freak, what’s a quick workaround solution? Zipped it up, he said and pray the anti-virus will not find it.

Personally, I do not agree to such attachments (regardless a zipped or non-zipped executables/URL shortcut) but then again, I’m just a small voice in the organisation that only listens to themselves. A better solution was suggested: Tell the clients to bookmark the URL site, for goodness sake. It’s not rocket science to teach but it’s possible. It’s better than opening an email, download the attachment, unzip the executable file/URL shortcut onto the desktop and doubleclick the file. Simple keyboard shortcuts vs dozen steps instructions. Geez.

Having discover that I was totally against the idea of such attachments, the idea was apparently put off and quietly delegated to another person without my knowledge. Note: This incident happened within the period of two weeks. The graphic designer was assigned to this (I don’t know why) and the bitter cycle of trying out customised icons with an executable file via emails happens again. I caught the wind of it when the dude was trying to test it out by sending the attachment to my email via a zipped file!

During one lunch hour, a sales team personnel joined us and from the casual chitchat, we popped the question of the little project the manager brought up. That 2 minutes conversation cleared up a lot of things and it was a totally ‘OMFGWTF’ moment. What the sales team wanted is not an application/URL shortcut/executable file with a customised icon to be downloaded from emails onto the desktop. What the sales team really wanted is a GIF or JPEG of a web banner with a company logo in it so they can send these images to partner clients to use, say embedding the banner as a weblink in their website.

I’m not pinning blame to anyone (though subtlely I do lean against the management), but the point of this scenario is we could have save the time and effort if the needs of the person who requested it, is properly verified and confirmed. Man, epic fail.

Cyanogenmod 7 for Motorola Milestone

Update (4th April 2011): Found out that the mod is draining my battery as fast as within a day! There’s a fix on this and I’m going to try it out.

Installing a custom rom for an android mobile phone is quite a challenging move for me. It took a while for yours truly to take a big step forward and whack the Android mod rom into the mobile phone. I have a Motorola Milestone, running on a Motorola branded Android 2.1. All is fine and dandy until the lacking of disk space for my apps irritated me.

It took me two days to read in various forums/websites and figured out what to be done. I rooted my mobile sometime ago with SuperOneClick prior upgrading the Android OS. I don’t think I need to repeat what the instructions these seasoned dudes (here and here) have provided.

Note: Before you ever start rooting or installing a custom rom, please research properly and know what you are doing or else you might brick/mess up your mobile phone. I’m only passing my own personal experience of installing one and will not take responsibility of your actions.

What I did to mine was basically :

1. Copied the custom rom and Google apps into the SD card
2. Boot to OpenRecovery 3.3
3. Backup the current rom (in case anything happens)
4. Wipe  (davlik cache, cache, data)
5. Install the CM7
6. Install Google apps

I ran into a hiccup somewhere in step 5 when I came across with an error “E:EOCD marker occurs after start of EOCD E:signature verification failed”. Apparently, I have to fix the vulnerable recovery issue before I can proceed with the installation. That was where I almost pulled my hair out.

Anyways, I did manage to install everything  and it was worth the effort. Did I tell you it’s faster now? Hurrah…

Oh, to boot into system recovery mode, I read there’s various ways. Some said holding down Power Button and Camera Button and some said holding down Power Button and the ‘X’ key on the keypad. For me it’s the latter . It all depends the version of the bootloader your mobile phone has.

PS3 buying experience and upgrading hard disk woes

When the Playstation 3 first launched a few years back, it was mod and hack proof. It never crossed my mind to purchase one since one, I hardly play console games and two, it’s freaking expensive (I could build myself a nice PC with that price). Back to the present day, an offer at GraysOnline tempted me to an impulse spending mode; a refurbished 40Gb Playstation 3 for $300! The reason I took a ride to the PS3 console finally was  because it is finally hackable as long as you have the right firmware. (As of now, it is recommended to have version 3.41 and below. But 3.50 is also hackable to downgrade it back to 3.41).

When the PS3 arrived, I checked the firmware version. It was 2.76, an old system. Woohoo! Score 1 to Modding PS3. The thing to do is to buy and replace the oldie 40Gb into a bigger 500Gb hard disk (HDD). I decided on  a Seagate 500Gb Momentus 5400rpm which I got it for 50 bucks.

I read the online forums/articles and watched the videos of replacing hard disks and I thought it was an easy 15 minutes job. Boy, I was wrong. I have had a series of troubleshooting that took me the entire night to figure it out before I finally replace the dang HDD.

  • The hatch that host the hard disk was totally different – searched for videos of how to remove it safely
  • PS3 won’t reformat the HDD – unable to find the firmware on USB drive. So I thought the older firmware doesn’t recognise large HDD so I upgraded the firmware to 3.41
  • PS3 still wont reformat the HDD – still complaining about missing firmware. After hours of reading posts after posts in the forums, I found out I need to stick the USB drive (with the 3.41) firmware to allow the PS3 to reinstall all the core files into the HDD. &*#@^*&!^#!
  • I can’t remember how many times I had to swap the HDDs in between to test if the new HDD is faulty. Gah!

When the reformatting HDD ordeal was over, I thought everything went well. But nooo, the PS3 was acting up again; it was extremely sluggish and slow when booting up or shutting down. Spent another long hour to figure it out. Somewhere in between the irrevelant posts, someone mentioned that PS3 is unable to sync well with the new SATA HDD that runs at 3Gbps. I had to tune it down to 1.5 Gbps by setting the jumper. *slaps forehead*

The PS3 finally worked with a headache.

And this is not over yet. I’m still waiting for the programmable USB dongle to load the PS3 games and since it’s Christmas month now, I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything with my PS3 any time soon. I hope the USB dongle is not going to give me another headache.

VOIP fun

I’ve just signed up PennyTel for my VOIP service. After topping up some credits,  I decided to give it a try this morning and called for an appointment. Here’s my first VOIP encounter experience.

Lady A: “Good morning, XXXX. This is Lady A speaking”
Me: “Good morning, I would like to make an appointment.”
Lady A: “I’m sorry sir; you are in Sydney. We’re based in Melbourne.”
Me: “Um, I am residing in Melbourne.”
Lady A: “Sir, but your number is in Sydney.”
Me: “Oh, I’m using a VOIP phone. Think it points the call from Sydney.”
Lady A: “Huh?”

This is classic. Anyways, I managed to make that appointment after clearing up the confusion.

Drupal ponder

I have been playing Drupal CMS for a couple days of late and with all the bells and whistles, I’m tempted to merge this blog and my portfolio into one single entity. Having said that, I have yet fully researched the full extend of features and compatibility that I’m seeking.

Will take some time before the migration takes place. : )