Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jump start the flat battery of a car

It is always a good idea to keep a set of jump start cables in your car, in case somebody in the car park with flat battery need your help, or in case you are the unfortunate one. Try to get a thicker jump start cables which supports 400 cold crank Amps or above.

Here are the procedure to jump start a car with flat battery that I've learned.

Before jump starting:

  1. Check the dead battery. Does it suffered from loose connection to alternator? Does it need to top up with distilled water? Fix the possible problem that has caused the battery to be flat. Sometimes you might find that replacing the dead battery directly is a better and/or safer solution than jump starting.
  2. If there is white/green residue developed around the battery terminal, clean them out first. Don't touch it with your bare hand, wearing glove is a good idea.
  3. Bring the car with charged battery to the front of the car that need jump starting, position so that both the batteries as close as possible.
  4. Ensure the engine of both the cars are off. All the lamps, radio, air-conds, etc. should also be off.
  5. Ensure that the hand brake of both cars are engaged.

Performing the jump start:
  1. Clamp one end of the red-handled/positive jumper cable to the positive terminal (the one marked with the [+] sign) of the charged battery.
  2. Clamp the other end of the red-handled cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  3. Clamp one end of the black-handled/negative cable to the negative terminal (the one marked with the [-] sign) of the charged battery.
  4. Clamp the other end of the black-handled/negative cable to the metal part of the car with the dead battery. Clamp it somewhere where the current can ground out, such as unpainted bolt or bracket in the chassis. Caution: do not attach the black-handled/negative cable to the dead battery itself.
  5. Start the car with the charged battery. Wait for a while.
  6. Start the car with the dead battery. If it still doesn't start after several attempts, the jump start has failed, and it is time to call a tow truck or bring a new battery to the car for replacement.
  7. Keep the engine of both the cars on.
After the jump start:
  1. Remove the clamp of the black-handled/negative cable from the grounding point.
  2. Remove the other end of the black-handled/negative cable from the negative terminal of the charged battery.
  3. Remove the clamp of the red-handled/positive cable from the jump started battery.
  4. Remove the other end of the red-handled/positive cable from the charged battery.
  5. Put back the jump start cables into the car.
  6. The car with dead battery should be immediately driven to workshop for checking. Do not turn off its engine before it reaches the destination. If the battery is still usable, it needs at least half an hour for recharging. Try driving the car at higher RPM for faster charging.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

HISC5 of a typical middle class person

"HISC5" is a new term created by me, which describes the main things a middle class of my age is living for. These 8 basic elements that make up the life of the middle class are:

House - this is our shelter, our home, where our family live and rest. For most people, it is also one of the largest expenses they've spent in their lifetime. Middle class like us always strive to earn a better life, and our house can always reflect our living taste from this endeavour.

Insurance - this is a necessity nowadays, we just can't escape from it. When we own a car, auto insurance is compulsory before the car can go on road. When we mortgage our house, the bank always make fire insurance a must. When we work for a company, we are somehow insured as part of the benefit package, covering medical, hospitalization, accident, life, etc. And most middle class purchases some insurance products - medical card, whole life, investment linked, education, endowment, annuity, ... just to name a few.

Spouse - this is our lifetime partner which light up our lives. Lives would be somehow incomplete without the involvement of spouse. Your voyage shouldn't be alone without a companion.

Children - your offspring which grows your family tree, bring you joy, bring you fun, and sometimes bring you anger too. You nurture them, see them grow and develop. Together with your spouse, they make up what you call a family. And living together in your house, making a home sweet home.

Career - this is the successive course that make up your working life, enable you to contribute your skillsets, bring you remunerations, build your professionalism, develop your reputation, and so on.

Car - this is the piece of metal with roof, seats and wheels which enable you and your family to travel around, seek for foods, visit to places, and go to work. It shelters you from rain and sun, even protects you to certain extend in case accident happened. Your family lives would be much more fantastic with it, especially during your vacation.

Credit card - this plastic card is convenient, for you to pay bills online, act as deposit mechanism to check in hotels, substitute your cash to buy things, and earn you some points for reward redemption. When used with care, it also helps you to build up your credit integrity, useful when you apply for loan.

Cash - you need this current assets to maintain all the above, and you should make your cash work hard for you to grow more and counter inflation.

Your social status is pretty much measured by your "HISC5", but there is something much more important that forms the underlying foundation to all of them. Can you guess what is that? Yes, it is your health. The 8 elements above are basic that make up your life as middle class, and health is the essential element for all classes of mankind. Of course, there are other elements which are equally important as well, such as parents, brothers, sisters, neighbours, bloggers, relatives, friends, pets, etc.

Since these are the basic elements in our life voyage, you will notice that the sharings in my blog are encompassed with these "HISC5+health".

Tiles are different from each production batch

My house originally comes with 1x1 floor tiles. One of the main reason for me to changed them to 2x2 during renovation was because I couldn't find the matching 1x1 floor tiles, not even from the house developer, because the tiles of the same batch was finished.

Tiles are different from each production batch, especially in term of pattern and colour tone. The variance in batches for good quality tiles might be minimal, while the variance for ordinary tiles might be obvious.

Therefore, for new house owners, if you can foresee any renovation works that require additional tiles, be it floor tiles or wall tiles, you should quickly get from your house developer while the stock of the same batch is still available, or ask your renovation contractor to source for the same batch of tiles from the market while they are still available.

The same could be happen to paint. Different production batch of paint with same colour code is still slightly different in colour. The difference for good quality paints might be minimal, while the difference for poor quality paints can be obvious.

The problem in paint can be easily solved by repainting the whole wall with the new one. Same method applies to the problem in tiles, but involve in more cost and effort, i.e. to replace all the tiles of the same area with new one. This is exactly the reason why I changed the floor tiles downstairs to 2x2. Since the original tiles need to be replaced due to non-matching colour tone of different batch, might as well upgrading them from 1x1 to 2x2.

Dining table set

My Polo-Elle dining table set is purchased from Hugo Furniture in M.E.I. Furniture Fair, Desa Petaling.

Polo is the name of the 5' rubber wood dining table, and Elle is the name of the 6 cushioned dining chairs. On top of the table lays an 8mm tempered glass to protect the table.

Here are the tips for buying dining table set:

  • the colour, size, shape and make of your dining table should match with your dining room.
  • the foot of the table and chairs should be firmly stand on the floor and shouldn't be shakeable. Shakeable foot indicate poorly design joints or uneven length.
  • during delivery, all the parts should come in original boxes, nicely and firmly wrapped with plastic. If they are not in original boxes and the protection plastic is obviously wrapped by hand, there is a high chance that you are getting a display set instead.
  • ask for the tempered glass that match with the table, produced by the same factory. The table is subjected to scratches after use if without the tempered glass protection on top of it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Toyota Avanza enhancement - Ultra Racing bars

This is a major modification I've done to my Toyota Avanza. It is significant in term of cost, which is RM1xxx for 4 state-of-the-art powder coated steel bars from Ultra Racing (M) S/B. It is even more significant in term of enhancement in safety, handling, comfort and performance of the car. Driver and passengers of the car will feel a completely different ride experience after the installation.

The original Toyota Avanza already comes with a front anti roll bar to tie together the 2 front wheels suspensions. The 4 bars I've installed are:

1. 4-points strut bar (stabilizer bar): provides better handling and control by tremendously improves in stability and road traction, especially during cornering or driving with high speed. Strengthening the chassis to reduce chassis flex and improve reaction to sterling movement.

2. rear anti roll bar (anti-sway bar): tie the lower suspension components together across the 2 wheels. It keeps the car flat in turnings instead of leaning over to one side, and keeps the traction by preventing understeer or oversteer. Also makes the suspension feel stiffer, therefore effectively reduce in bounciness.

3. front lower arm bar: increases overall rigidity and reduces body flexing of the car's front body. Improves suspension effectiveness and eliminates unwanted car rolling movements.

4. rear lower arm bar: increases overall rigidity and reduces body flexing of the car's rear body. Improves suspension effectiveness and eliminates unwanted car rolling movements.




Ultra Racing bars work together as a system, therefore it is recommended to have all of them installed to the car, although they can also work individually with lesser effect. These products are widely used by AOCM members and proven to be effective in transforming the Toyota Avanza ride to a totally new experience. The Toyota Avanza will feel like other sedan cars, and you'll notice the bounciness and body roll has been greatly reduced.

Kindly be reminded that there are many similar products in the market, some even imitate the Ultra Racing products. Not all of them can produce the same result and performance. Only the original Ultra Racing bars are highly recommended by AOCM. These bars come with at least 3 years warranty and guaranteed trade-in value.

My feelings to the car after installation:

  • bounciness reduced substantially.
  • body rolls eliminated.
  • great improvement to handling and response.
  • feeling like driving sedan car, and still maintain the high clearance view.
  • driving at the speed of 110km/h has the same feeling as driving at the speed of 50km/h. The handling is the same, and you won't feel the car is "floating" at high speed.
  • driving on curvy road has almost the same feeling as driving on straight road. The handling is superb. There is not much body roll, and you don't need to press on the break as much as before.
  • cornering (eg. going down highway) can be made at the speed of around 80km/h and the car is still stable.

Suspension system - of bumpy or bouncy ride

If any of your friends are complaining about the ride comfort problem they experienced with Toyota Avanza, please refer them to this article.

It is a known issue that the suspension system of Toyota Avanza does not give a promising ride, although improvement has been made for the 1.5 version from the earlier 1.3 version to minimize the effect.

Some people says it is "bumpy", while some other says it is "bouncy". For my experience, it is not bumpy but bouncy.

A vehicle is bumpy if its suspension is stiff. Stiffer suspension makes the car feel more responsive and more direct to the road condition. When the suspension encounters a bump, you will feel the car is "jumping", and in severe case, you will feel your buttock lifts up from the seat a bit whenever a bump is encountered. Normally, cars designed for performance ride (eg. sports cars), those designed for off-road driving (eg. 4WD), and those designed to carry heavy loads (eg. trucks), have stiffer suspension and might bring you a bumpy ride experience. This is not true for Toyota Avanza.

A vehicle is bouncy if its suspension is soft. When the suspension encounters a bump or running on uneven road, you will feel the car is bouncing up and down. The ideal condition for a car to cross a bump is to rebounce once, but a bouncy car will rebounce more than one time before the suspension stabilized again. This is exactly what happen to the Toyota Avanza.

To overcome the bounciness problem of Toyota Avanza, one can modify the original suspension system with the right combination of coil springs and shock absorbers. Several options can be found in AOCM, which vary in different pricing and level of comfortableness.

In addition, you can also enhance the ride comfort, increase stability and reduce the bounciness of Toyota Avanza by installing Ultra Racing bars, which is highly recommended by AOCM members. These bars can really make a big difference to the ride comfort and drive handling of Toyota Avanza. I'll share about my experience on installing and using the Ultra Racing bars in the next article.

WCIT 2008 will be held in Kuala Lumpur soon

The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT), a global IT event held every 2 years, hosted by Malaysia this year, this event will be held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on this 18-22 May 2008. It is jointly organized by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (PIKOM), with the support of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia.

Themed “The Global Impact of Information and Communications Technology: Enable Businesses, Empower Societies, Enrich Economies”, this five-day event is expected to draw more than 2,500 delegates from over 80 countries. Keynote speakers are expected to include some of the most respected and admired names in Government and industry.

If you are in the IT industry, you shouldn't miss out this event.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

HOMEDEC 2008 is around the corner

HOMEDEC (Home Decoration Exhibition) 2008 will be held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre just beside the Petronas Twin Towers on this 1-4 May 2008, 10am-8pm.

More than 200 exhibitors will showcase their products and services on interior designs, furnitures, lightings, landscaping, home appliances, home accessories, home security, etc.

Speakers for seminar in this event including Eric Leong, Henry Fong, Toh Chee Lip, etc.

If you plan to perform renovation or upgrade your home, you could probably get some idea from this event.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Information on the tyre wall

The car tyre is marked with various information on its wall, including the tyre size, load rating, speed limit, place of manufacture, time of manufacture, etc.

For example, the tyres originally come with Toyota Avanza 1.5 has the designation of 185/65R15 88S. This denotes the tire has:

  • section width of 185mm
  • aspect ratio of 65, which is calculated by its (height/width)
  • "R" for radial construction
  • rim diameter of 15 inches
  • load rating of 88, which can carry maximum weight of 560kg
  • speed rating "S", which the maximum safe speed is 180km/h






There is also a 4-digit batch number, or a code longer than 4-digit and the last 4 digits are numeric. The first two digits are the week of manufacture, and the last two digits are the year of manufacture. For example, a batch number of "1007" indicates the tyre was manufactured on the 10th week of year 2007.

The rubber of the tyre will degrade over time no matter it is being used or not. It is recommended to change tyres at most 6 years from their manufacture time. When you purchase new tyres, ensure that the tyres are manufactured less than 1 year so that you can use them for a longer time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Toyota Avanza enhancement - cargo net

The boot space of Toyota Avanza is flexible. It could be just enough to store small things when the 3rd row seat is locked in place, and it could be very spacious when the 3rd row seat is folded forward.

To prevent things from falling out of the boot space when the door is opened, you can install a cargo net like this.



This cargo net is made with extensible Nylon ropes, and is slung to 4 hooks attached at each corner. It is easily detachable when not in use. The hooks can be attached to the car body with 3M double-sided tape, or optionally can be firmly secured with screw.

I could hardly find this cargo net in most car accessories shops, and finally found and purchased it with Eneos at 1-Utama.

Toyota Avanza enhancement - wing mirrors with LED signal lamp

The original wing mirrors of Toyota Avanza does not come with LED signal lamp. Recently, this wing mirrors with LED signal lamp is made available as an optional accessory by UMW Toyota.



Similar products are also available in car accessories shops such as Brothers, JE Automart, etc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Car compass on dashboard

I sticked this car compass on the dashboard of my car as a useful tool for navigating the direction, especially when driving in a new area.



Its liquid filled compass ball will rotate automatically to indicate the facing direction. It is a handy poor-man's navigator when GPS system is not available.

I rely to it quite a lot of time when driving inside housing area which I've never been before. By remembering the direction of the main road, I can always return back to the main road from the housing area later.

The AXA Affin Turning Point Contest

AXA AFFIN Life Insurance Berhad is having an online Turning Point contest now.

It is a game that lets you experience life by managing your wealth while balancing it with the quality of your life. This game will challenge you to manage your wealth through four different life stages, i.e. fresh graduated, newly married, married with children, and golden age, which are represented by four levels in the game. Each level will take 5 minutes to complete.

The contest begins at 2pm on 22nd April 2008 and closes at 11:59pm on 30th June 2008. Participants must be Malaysian and be aged 21 and above.

1st prize winner will get RM50k, 2nd prize is RM10k, 3rd prize is RM5k, and 5 other consolations will get RM1k.

To participate, go to http://www.myaxaplan.com.my.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Toyota Avanza enhancement - rear bumper step guard

The rear bumper step guard for Toyota Avanza is an essential shield against unseemly scratches and scuffs from frequent loading and unloading. This blackie step guard also enhances the overall outlook of the car's rear view.



You can get this rear bumper step guard from most car accessories shops, including Brothers, JE Automart, etc. Now, it is also available in UMW Toyota under the item named as "rear bumper protector".

Toyota Avanza enhancement - D-pillar reflector

To further accentuated the rear profile of your Toyota Avanza, you can install reflector onto its D-pillars.



This will make the car's high body become even more visible, especially at night or in the rain. It will make the rear view of the car looks even nicer, as well as able to increase the safety factor from being accidentally "kissed" by the car behind.

You can get these D-pillar reflectors from car accessories shops, such as Brothers, JE Automart, etc. Now, it is available in UMW Toyota too.

Skim coating the walls to be painted with Pearl Glo

If your wall isn't smooth enough, consider skim coat it with a layer of plaster to make it really smooth and looks nice from every angle.

Skim coating is important especially if you plan to paint the wall with Pearl Glo paints, or to install wall paper on it. Uneven wall will look wavy and not nice when painted with shiny paint or installed with wall paper. The effect is even maximized under the light.

During renovation, I had done skim coat treatment to all the walls downstairs of my house (excluding those in the kitchen with ceiling height tiles) before applying the ICI Pearl Glo paints on them. That had costed me for a few hundred ringgit only.

Toyota Avanza enhancement - seat locking system

The Toyota Avanza 1.5 provides versatile seat configuration. Both its 2nd row seats are foldable, and of course, its 3rd row seat is also foldable.

It is found that once you fold down the seat, you need to slam it pretty hard to lock the seat back in place. If the seat is not locked back to the car floor properly, it might flip up when you step on the break of the car later.

A simple modification to the seat lock position can enable the car seat to hook back easily to its place. Now, instead of slamming the car seat to lock it in place, you just need to gentlely push it downwards, and it will hook back firmly with a "click" sound.

The trick is to lift the rod of the locking system a little bit higher with washers. You'll need 2 washers to lift each side of the rod. As there are altogether 3 foldable seats, you'll need a total of 6 washers for this modification.



Just unlock and remove the rod from the car floor, put the washer in, put back the rod, and fasten the nut. Then, test the position by locking the car seat.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Toyota Avanza enhancement - rubber door seals

If you ever sit in a Toyota Avanza with original specs, you might have noticed that its noise insulation is very poor. Noise from outside is pretty loud, especially when motocycles pass by. The feeling is as if the car window is not closed, although it is.

This problem is due to a gap of about 10 mm found between the door and the car body when the door is closed. All Toyota Avanza doors with the original grey colour seal will suffer with this problem, because that grey door seal does not have a ring part to fill up the 10 mm gap when the door is closed.

It is found that all the 4 doors of Toyota Avanza 1.3 model are using that grey door seal; whereas the 2 front doors of the 1.5 model are using another black colour rubber door seal which comes with the ring, while its 2 rear doors are still using the grey door seal. This means the 1.5 model already addressed and fixed half of the problem.

The solution:


  • For 1.3 model, replace all the 4 grey door seals with the black rubber door seal with ring.

  • For 1.5 model, replace the 2 grey door seals with the black rubber door seal with ring.
You can get the solution from AOCM at the cost of less than RM50 only (for 4 doors). The rubber door seals are also available in most car accessories shops. Once the rubber door seals are installed, the noise level in the Avanza cabin will be about the same as in other car makes.



You can get even better noise insulation by applying special insulating material inside the doors, but that will be another story.

Toyota Avanza enhancement - lights on alert

Have you ever experienced draining out your car battery due to forgetting to switch off your car headlights?

Today, many newer car models already come with a light on alert buzzer, which will sound and alert you whenever you turn off your car engine and trying to get out of the car with the headlights still turned on. With this, you will never forget to switch off the headlights and later having trouble to start the car engine with drained battery again.

Unfortunately, this light on alert is not found in the original factory make of both Toyota Avanza 1.3 and 1.5 models. Owners of Toyota Avanza need not be worried, because the solution can be found in AOCM and the total installation cost is less than RM50 only.

This light on alert modification requires a 12v DC 2-pole Type-A relay, a buzzer, some flat cable lugs, some wire cables, and PVC tape, and the same way of installation is applicable to both the Toyota Avanza 1.3 and 1.5 models. For the schematic diagram and more details, please refer to the AOCM forum.

Please beware that any modification done to the car has the tendency to void certain parts of the 3-years warranty from UMW Toyota.

Your camera handphone is handy in the car park

Most handphone comes with camera feature nowadays. You can make use of it to snap a picture of the location where you've parked your car in the car park, like these:



This will help you to remember the parking bay location of your car in the car park, especially in those big shopping malls. Now, you don't have to memorize the pillar number anymore, and shouldn't have trouble finding for your car in those big car parks again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

D-Link DSL-G604T wireless ADSL router

At home, I use this D-Link DSL-G604T wireless ADSL router to access the Streamyx ADSL service and connect to the Internet. By the time I bought this ADSL router, the D-Link DSL-2640T model wasn't available in the market yet.



I heard that this DSL-G604T ADSL router with earlier version of firmware was having some connection stability problem, but I never encountered such problem, and I have upgraded its firmware to version V1.00B02T02.MA.20050303, which is pretty stable.

This is an all-in-one ADSL router, with the following built-in functions:

  • 4-port 100Mbps Ethernet switch
  • 54Mbps 802.11g wireless access point which supports both WEP and WPA encryption
  • DHCP server
  • NAT
  • UPnP
  • DMZ
  • Virtual server
  • basic firewall
  • NTP client
  • Dynamic DNS
  • SNMP
  • Web GUI interface and also text based SSH/telnet interface for administration

My PC is directly connected to its LAN port, and my laptop can get connected anywhere in the house via its wireless access. I protect this ADSL router from surge and lightning with the Belkin SurgeMaster.

The LHDN e-Filing system for 2007 assessment

Have you submitted your 2007 income tax assessment yet? The closing date is near by now.

I have been using the online e-Filing system of Inland Revenue Board or Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN) since last year. Many people complaint about flaws and problems of the system last year. I was among the lucky one who didn't face major problem with their system last year, other than not able to save a copy of the form once the submit button was clicked.

To be frank, there are improvements seen in the e-Filing system this year. At least it supports Firefox and other browsers, rather than just locked-in to Internet Explorer only as of last year. The submitted tax form is retrievable in PDF format, rather than the poorly formatted and wrongly paginated HTML last year. So far, none of my friends experience the flaw of showing wrong information of other people, which is a very serious problem happened to many taxpayers last year.

More strength to the system security is still required. For example, it is too simple to reset the password. Should have more measure to identify the person before allowing password to be reset. The system should work with our MyKad chip, and it seems that the system was designed to work that way, but somehow this measure is not yet implemented.

The improvement seen must be the merit of our new Chief Secretary to Government or Ketua Setiausaha Negara (KSN), Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, and the new CEO of LHDN, Dato' Hasmah Abdullah. Both of them have been well known to be serious in productive and quality public service governance.

Before I forget, here is the URL for the LHDN e-Filing system.

Rowenta tower fan

This is the Rowenta tower fan I bought from Harvey Norman few years back.



It has many fancy functions with large choice of settings, and remotely controllable. For example, it has air flow variation function to create different experience of wind effect; it supports air flow reduction in stages; it has timer function too.

However, I urge you to think twice before deciding to purchase any tower fan, and you should test them out throughly at the shop. The reason being, tower fans are generally more expensive than table fans or stand fans, but they cannot blow the wind as effective as table fans or stand fans. The breeze produced is just too weak compared with its counterparts.

Panasonic SC-HT330 5.1 channels mini home theatre system

I bought this Panasonic SC-HT330 5.1 channels mini home theatre system 2 years ago. It only cost me RM7xx, which is slightly higher than a branded DVD player.

I'm not an audio-visual enthusiast, and this mini home theatre system suit my need. It supports HighMAT standard. Audio wise, it sounds decent and good with the 400W amplifier output from its 1 central speaker, 4 surround speakers, and an active subwoofer. Of course, with its price, you can't expect too high for its performance.

Video wise, it is able to playback DVDs and VCDs which sometimes can't even be read by those non-branded DVD players. Its built-in FM radio does not sound as good as from Astro, probably due to reception problem. We haven't used its karaoke function yet.

If you plan to spend a few hundred for a good DVD player, might as well spend a little bit more to get this mini home theatre system. The sound playback from this system is definitely very much better than the TV speaker, good for watching great movies with Dolby sound.

The backyard fence

This is my backyard and its fencing. The pebble wash floor at the backyard (as seen on the lower left part of the photo) is non-slip in nature, and maintenance free.



Then fence comprises bricks and mortars portion at the bottom, and Chengai wooden stripes on top, arranged in the order such that one stripe is inside the iron horizontal bars, another is outside the bars, then inside, and outside, ... They are fasten to the bars using stainless steel bolts and nuts.

This kind of wooden stripes arrangement makes the fence able to see through when viewed from its side, and blocked when viewed from right angle in front. It allows breeze to freely flow through the gaps, forming harmonic Qi as told by the Feng Shui master.

The door chime system

There are 2 types of door chime system, ie. the wired and wireless. I found that the bell of wired door chime system comes with pretty standard sound of "ding-dong", and the wireless door chime system has more variety of musical sound.

I use a wired door chime system, which the wiring had already been done by the developer. I installed a door bell switch with big button and water resistance circuitry, next to my letterbox, on the pillar which holds the main gate of my house.




Mounting a good and durable door bell switch is essential to ensure the door chime system continues to work for a long period of time.

The 2x2 floor tiles

Most new houses are installed with 2" x 2" floor tiles nowadays. These large surface tiles make your floor having less lines, and bring the visual effect to make the room looks more spacious.

Workmanship is very important for 2x2 tiles flooring. The tiles should not have any hollowness, the lines between tiles should be very slim and straight, and all tiles must be evenly laid flat and smooth.

Here are a few considerations for choosing and laying the 2x2 tiles:

  • Feel the edges and corners of the tiles with bare hand or foot. The edges of good quality tiles won't give you much "cutting feeling".
  • Good quality 2x2 tiles are normally thick and firm. The thicker the tile, the less likely it is to crack or break. However, the actual robustness is determined by their modulus of rupture measurement.
  • The tiles should have satisfactory level of resistance to stain, abrasion and chemical.
  • Avoid too slippery tiles. Use only non-slip tiles in kitchen, washroom, etc.
  • Use light colour tiles for living room.
  • Use dark colour filling for the gap lines between the tiles. If you use the white colour filling, it will eventually turn black when dirts are collected in it, and that would make your floor looks ugly.
  • Most building materials contain minimal radioactive elements in them. Some poor quality tiles made in China have higher level of radioactive elements, which is bad to your health.
  • Insist to use contractor with good workmanship to install the tiles.

Timber stripes floor

The upstairs of my house come originally with timber stripes floor. The timber stripes are 4 times larger than parquet, making them to have more glueing surface and stick firmer with the floor. But other than that, they are just like parquet, having the same weaknesses.

Special care need to be taken to the timber stripes, to protect them from scratches, termites, water, direct sunlight, etc. I only use roller chairs upstairs to prevent the timber stripes from scratches when pulling or pushing the chairs. The floor need to be mop as dry as possible. It is advisible to mop it with a mixture of some white vinegar or methylated spirits with cold water.

I spent RM500 to polish and wax the whole timber stripes floor before moving in. There are 2 types of wax applicable, the glossy one (which is used on the timber or parquet floor of most houses) and the matte one. We'd chosen the matted finishing, and the floor looks more natural and resillent.

Inverter technology

Nowadays, inverter technology has been vastly used in electrical appliances working on compressor, such as air-conds, fridges, etc.

Inverter systems can help to save on electricity cost by optimizing the compressor efficiency so that it consumes just as much energy as needed at any given time.

How the non-inverter compressor works?

  • it turns itself on and off to maintain the temperature level. When the temperature is above the preset level, the compressor starts working until the temperature is slightly below the preset level, where it will automatically turn off itself.
  • whenever the compressor start up, more electricity is needed to bring it to work.
  • its capacity is constant, and will consume the maximum amount of energy to produce a maximum amount of cooling at all times.

How the inverter compressor works?

  • it will speed up and slow down to maintain the conditioned space temperature level.
  • the compressor is always on.
  • its capacity is variable and changes as needed. The amount of energy consumed by the inverter compressor is directly related to the amount of cooling required.

As a result, the inverter technology brings the following benefits:

  • the electricity consumption is optimized.
  • due to the inverter efficiency, overall electricity cost is lesser, especially for long hour usage.
  • temperature fluctuation is maintained within a smaller range and kept uniformed.

Therefore, it is a wise choice to buy air-conds and fridge with inverter technology.

Belkin SurgeMaster

I use this Belkin SurgeMaster as power extension to connect my PC and its peripherals. It cost higher than ordinary power extension, because it comes with superior surge and lightning protection function.



In addition to the MS188 Power Saver which can provide minimal protection against power surges for up to 400 volts only, this Belkin SurgeMaster is able to provide surge protection of up to 6,000 volts and maximum spike of 19,500 Amperes. It comes with a lifetime Product Warranty, and also a £50,000 connected equipment insurance.

Beside providing surge and lightning protection to the equipments connected to its 4 power sockets, it also safeguard my ADSL modem with its surge protected telephone jacks. It has a green LED to indicate whether its surge protection is functioning properly, and another yellow LED to indicate if the electrical circuit is earthed properly.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The 3 burner hob

This is the 3 burner hob in my kitchen. If you believe in Feng Shui, you will know that 1 or 3 burners is better than 2 or 4.



This hob makes use of a 9V battery underneath for ignition, which is pretty handy. If you plan to install built-in hob like this, you should plan for air ventilation underneath it, to provide better burner combustion and to dissipate the heat underneath the hob. In fact, the traditional type of hob with stand that can directly put on top of the stove, is better than built-in type in terms of providing air ventilation during cooking.

You should connect the hob with the gas tank using good quality pipe and regulator with safety feature that can prevent gas leakage. The hob burners should also have safety feature to shut off the gas supply in case the fire on it was accidentally put off.

Cooker hood on top of the hob

This is the Pacific Magic AutoClean AC-9800 cooker hood in my kitchen, with autoclean feature and air suction power of up to 1440 metre cube per hour.



It is advisible for Asian family to use Asian made cooker hood, which normally designed to have higher air suction power than the European or American made. This is because Asian way of cooking can produce much more smokes than Western style. You have the option to choose among the brands of Taiwan, China or Japan made, such as Pacific, Fotile, Rinnai, etc. The chosen hood should have exhaust airflow of 950 metre cube per hour and above.

Hood with automatic self-cleaning system is handy and good for lazy people like us. Noise level during operation is also an important consideration.

When you renovate your kitchen before moving in, you should plan for the exact location of your hood and hob. The cooker hood requires one power point to operate, and exhaust pipe connected to the top of the hood to suck away the cooking smokes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shower heater in bathroom

You might probably notice about the shower heater in the photo of my recent post about the tempered glass shower screen. It is the Alpha brand Shower Plus SH-88EP.


We did consider between this electrical shower heater and the roof top solar water heater. We found that the price of the solar water heater was too high, and the electrical shower heater is easier to control the water temperature according to our need.

When purchasing shower heater, here are some of the considerations:
  • Must come with Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB) and lightning protector as safety measure.
  • Auto thermal cut-out feature to prevent over heating.
  • Water pump that can be switched on and off. The pump will be used when several places in my house are using water at the same time, affecting the water pressure upstairs.
  • Acceptable noise level of water pump.
  • Pump speed can be controlled.
  • Easy to control showering water temperature.
  • Anti leaking tank.
  • Can work with water pressure as low as 2 psi only.
  • Several modes of shower jet spray option.

Tempered glass shower screen in bathroom

This is the 10mm frameless clear tempered glass shower screen with stainless steel header. It costed RM11xx and come with 2 years warranty. It is clear because adding pattern to its surface will cost additional price.




The shower screen will prevent water from splashing all over the bathroom. We had chosen shower screen with this kind of door because:

  • Sliding or folding door requires a rail on the floor, which is more tedious to install, will gather dirts on the rail, and subjected to wear-and-tear over time.
  • The horizontal external door handle can be used to hang towel.

LCD vs Plasma TV - 2008 1st quarter update

The market warfare between LCD and Plasma TV continues. Lets do some comparison between them based on today's technology.

Viewing angle:

Plasma used to win on this, but today both of them are equally having viewing angle close to 180 degree.


Pixel response time:

Plasma used to win on this, but LCD is catching up fast, coming up with new models that have response time as low as 5ms only.


Contrast:

Plasma has higher contrast ratio, and LCD is catching up with "dynamic contrast ratio".


Screen resolution:

LCD of same size usually able to produce higher screen resolution. This is important if the TV were to connect to a computer and act as monitor (eg. for playing games).


Burn-in image:

Plasma used to suffer from this weaknesses. Today's technology such as "pixel orbitor" has been used to address this problem. LCD doesn't have burn-in problem.


Product lifespan:

New generations of plasma are catching up with the LCD's lifespan of 60,000 hours.


Glare:

Plasma screen surface still reflect glare. LCD never has this problem because its screen surface reflects very little light.


Weight:

Plasma of same size is still heavier than LCD.


Power consumption:

Plasma still consumes more power than LCD.


Price:

The price gap between LCD and Plasma of same size is getting closer and closer, while LCD still cost cheaper in smaller size models, especially below 40".

Bacfree drinking water filter

You might probably seen the photo of my Bacfree BS-1 Swiss-Tech counter top drinking water filter in the post about my giant-size jumbo kitchen sink before.

Same with the Bacfree outdoor water filter, the housing of this drinking water filter is also made up of food grade SUS 304 stainless steel. It performs 3 stages of filtration removing bacteria, sediment, chlorine, organic chemical and heavy metals in the water.

The filtered water is drinkable directly, and my family members have been drinking with it for years. Working together with the outdoor water filter, its filter element need to be washed with tap water every 2 weeks (should be more frequent if without the outdoor filter). This Swiss-Tech element need to be replaced every 1.5-2 years (replace every year if without the outdoor filter).

This counter top drinking water filter is inexpensive, and its cost of RMxxx is cheaper than many other similar products in the market.

Beside this counter top model, Bacfree also has the under sink model with the same price. Counter top model is preferable because it is easier to take out and wash its filter element.

Bacfree rocket-style outdoor water filter

This is the Bacfree ER-19 rocket-style outdoor water filter in my house. The date of photo taken shows that I have installed it for quite some times. This water filter comes with 10 years housing warranty and 5 years media warranty.




It is contructed with food grade SUS 304 stainless steel, durable and will not deform, decolourize or degrade under the hot sun. The cylinder volume is 42.9 litres, with flow rate of 1,900 litres/hour. Its working water pressure is 10-100 psi. Inside the cylinder is 6 layers of filtering media, ie. stone, crystal, coarse quartz sand, fine quartz, anthracite and coal base activated carbon. It comes with a water pressure meter, handy for us to monitor the water pressure level.

The Bacfree people washed my water tank for free when the came and installed the filter. They had even taken some sample water from my tap for lab test after installation, and here is the result they sent to me:



Click the image to enlarge it

The filtering media of this outdoor water filter is maintenance free. I need to perform backwash with its 3 valves once per week. With this outdoor water filter installed, I can have peace of mind that the water flows into my house is clean and safe. The little filter on my washing machine is still maintaining its white even after years.

Check your driving license expiry date online

The Malaysian Road Transport Department aka Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) provides an online service for us to check for our driving license expiry date with their web portal.

To my surprise, that website has a domain name of portal.jpj.gov.my but it doesn't work, so we have to access it using its IP address of 202.190.64.96. Pretty weird.

Here is the complete URL for you to check for your driving license expiry online:
http://202.190.64.96/v5/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=74

It is pretty simple and straightforward to use. Most importantly, its data is pretty up-to-date.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Check for blacklist status with PDRM and JPJ

If you haven't settled the fines in traffic offence summons issued by Polis DiRaja Malaysia (PDRM) after a specific period of time, you might not be able to renew the road tax of your vehicle until you removed yourself from the blacklist by settling the fines.

Here is the website that you can check for the blacklist status of yourself or your vehicle with PDRM or JPJ:

http://www.jpj.gov.my/blacklist/

Click on the PDRM crest to check in the PDRM's blacklist system, and click on the JPJ crest to check in JPJ's system. They should be linked up, so the result should be the same.

The Ubuntu Open Week on IRC in #ubuntu-classroom

The Ubuntu Open Week will take place from this Mon 28 April - Sat 3 May, virtually online on IRC channel in #ubuntu-classroom.

Ubuntu is a simple to use, complete Linux desktop and/or server operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. It is among the most popular Linux distribution today, always ranked #1 in DistroWatch.com. You can download it for free, and you can also request Canonical to send you original Ubuntu CDs for free.

Ubuntu Open Week is a series of online workshops for us to collaborate directly with the core teams, key contributors and developers of this Linux project.

Click here for more information about the Ubuntu Open Week.

Bed sheet for mattress

My wife always prefers 100% cotton bed sheet. Cotton is natural fibre that makes the bed sheet feels cooler, softer, smoother and more comfortable to sleep on. This material also produces less wrinkles after wash.

Thread count is one of the major consideration when buying bed sheet. It refers to the number of horizontal (weft) and vertical (warp) threads in one square inch of the fabric used to produce the bed sheet. Good quality bed sheets always indicate their thread count number on their packaging. However, bed sheets with higher thread count number always come with higher price tag. Thread count between 300-350 should be good enough for most people like us.

Every year, there are certain periods whereby bed sheet will discount for up to 50%-75% in specialty or departmental stores. That will be the good time to shop for bed sheets, which can probably save you hundreds of ringgit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sleeping with natural latex pillow

Our pillow plays an equally important role for good sleep, besides the mattress. Natural latex pillow are among the type of high quality pillow that we can get for an affordable price.

Here are some of the common features of natural latex pillow:

  • Latex material is known to be uniquely supportive and comfortable.
  • It is antibacterial, mildew proof and dust mite resistant in nature.
  • It will not compress or lose its shape (contrast with feather pillow).
  • It contains cavities which keep ventilation and prevent sweating.
  • It is durable, resilient and can last for many years.

It is important to try out the hardness of the natural latex pillow when buying it. Certain natural latex pillow are quite hard, and some other are softer. My family's preference is towards the softer type.

Sleeping on good quality mattress

Most of us spend approximately 1/3 of our life sleeping on our bed. Therefore, a durable good quality mattress makes a good investment to our comfort, sleep quality, body relaxation and spinal health.

What makes a good quality mattress then?

  • you feel relax and comfortable sleeping on it.

  • it should be firm and rigid enough to support our body evenly. There should be very little gap, if any, between our body and the mattress when we sleep on it. Mattress without enough support for our spine can lead to muscle fatigue, backbone problem, poor night sleep and even insomnia. Mattress which is too firm until we're feeling like sleeping on plywood or piece of rock is discomfort and brings the same problems too.

  • its inner material (usually pocket springs) will not damage or deformed, even when a 100 kg adult jumping on it. This should be true for all parts of the mattress, including its central part, and its edges.

  • you should feel its heaviness to lift and/or carry.

  • it should come with at least 10 years of warranty period.

My mattress comes with 15 years warranty

When you purchase your new mattress, the shop should allow you to:

  • sleep your whole body on the mattress to experience your comfort level with it.
  • jump on the mattress or throw heavy object on it to test its quality.

Well, not all shops allow you to do that. The shop which I bought all the mattresses in my house, encouraged us to try that though. The name of the shop is called Debono Design, located at 1st floor of M.E.I. Furniture Fair in Desa Petaling.

Autogate system

If you plan to install autogate system, it is wise to have the autogate wiring ready before you move in, because it will involve in hacking of wall and floor to lay and conceal the cable.

Several kinds of autogate system are available in the market - swing, arm, sliding, fold, etc.

The swing and arm types are suitable for normal gates. Sliding type is used in sliding gate, which requires a rail on the floor and the wall next to the gate must be long enough for the gate to slide in when it opens. Folding gates also require a rail on the floor. It will fold up when open, and this kind of gate is the one which save the most spaces when opened, but also the most expensive one.

I have normal gates, and I opted for the arm type instead of the swing type, because the motor of swing type autogate system is normally burried into the floor, which is more difficult to service, and could be damaged by water entering into it. The motor of the arm type autogate system is installed on the supporting pillar of the gates, and the whole system is on top of the floor, won't be submerged by water.

The autogate system can be linked to the pillar lights circuit, so that your pillar lights will be automatically switched on whenever you open or close the gates, and swiched off when the open/close operation has completed.

Normally, autogates are opened either using remote control or switches inside the house. The remote control can be duplicated by locksmith if you require more units.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stainless steel main gate

It is common for linked house owners to change their basic iron gates installed by the developer to better and more stylish steel or wrought iron gates during house renovation.

If you plan to install a steel main gate, opt for the stainless steel material to prevent it from rusting. The normal grade of stainless steel used for making gates is 304, and this kind of stainless steel is non-magnetic in nature. Therefore, you can check for it by using a magnet, although this simple method of checking is not fool proof.

When I installed my stainless steel main gate, here are the few preferred features:

  • Pattern of the grille rods should be plain and simple. I have chosen the simplest smooth rods without pattern or carving, because its price is cheaper, and it is easier to clean and polish.
  • Make the bottom part of the gate to have grilles put closely together, to prevent cats and dogs from outside entering into the house, and also to prevent your pets from escaping away from your house.
  • Make a door in one of the gates for easy access, especially if you plan to install autogate system.

You can see the stainless steel main gate of my house from the photo in my other post - Car compass on dashboard. That picture was taken when the car is parked in the carpoach of my house.

Roof security

Roof security is an option provided by my developer when we purchased the house. It is inexpensive and the measure is pretty simple.

When the developer builds the roof top, they'll put additional frames on it so that a normal human body cannot simply go through the gap in between the frames. This can also be done by 3rd party contractor after the house is built, in case your developer doesn't provide this kind of option.

This measure, working together with the motion detector of the home alarm system, should provide some basic protection against roof intrusion.

Home alarm system

If you plan to install home alarm system, it is wise to have your contractor to lay down all the related cabling and conceal them in the wall, before you move in.

The alarm system should connect to every single grilles, windows and doors of the house perimeter. You might also want to install motion detectors on top of the ceiling underneath the roof top, and also in area inside your house where nobody will probably walk pass at night. Your motion detector will probably damaged by high temperature in short period of time, unless you installed the turbine ventilators to cool down your roof top.

You should plan for the location of the control panels, normally near the entrance and also inside your bedroom. You must also plan for the location of the siren units, and have the units located both outside your house and also inside your house (which the burglar cannot disable before entering your house and find it). You must also plan for the location to hide the alarm central unit. If you want the alarm system to alert you via telephone, call police automatically, or enable you to control it remotely using your handphone, you should have your telephone line linked to this central unit too.

Then you must plan to divide your house into different monitoring zones for the alarm. Normally, 4 zones is enough for single storey houses, 8 zones is suitable for double storey, and 12 zones is required for bungalow.

You should install vibrating sensor for the grilles, magnetic sensor for windows and doors, motion detector for roof area and living room. Your alarm should be triggerred if any one of the wiring to the vibrating sensors is cut off.

For additional home security, you might also want to install monitoring camera in your house.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Using Google Analytics for blog performance analysis

I use Google Analytics, a free web analytics online service provided by Google to analyze visitors and traffics to this blog.

The reasons of using Google Analytics are:

  • It it an online service. I just need to add-in the tracking codes into my blog template, and it will do its job automagically. I don't need to install any software, and can access it anywhere with the Internet.
  • It is free and linked to my existing Google account. Simple and easy to get started.
  • It has continuous improvement. It evolved from the renown Urchin 5 Analyzer, and continuously add in new functions, features and supports.
  • It produces sophisticated and comprehensive reports. Unlike most web analyzers which just translate the raw data into presentable information, Google Analytics' report goes broader and more indepth.
  • It has nice customizable dashboard. I like its geographical map that shows visitors' location, which can be detailed up to the city level.

Click here to learn more about Google Analytics features.

Check up the hollow tiles in your new house

When you carry out your new house inspection together with the vendor during the handover process, don't forget to check for hollow wall tiles and floor tiles.

This is a common defect to many houses and apartments. You should get the developer to fix this problem before you move in, because it involves hacking the original tiles and replacing with new one.

To check for hollowness underneath the tiles is simple, but tedious. You just need to knock at the tiles with 50 cent coin, and listen if they give out sounds that indicate hollowness. Hollow formed when there is not enough plaster underneath the tiles. This problem might cause the tiles on the wall to fall off one day, and the floor tiles easy to crack or break, especially when hit by dropped objects.

You should knock at the 4 corners as well as the center of the tiles. Hollowness is usually found at the corners.

Sometimes, hollowness found in certain wall tiles could be acceptable, if you know there is concealed piping underneath the tiles which cause the hollow sound.

Using Power Saver to reduce electrical consumption and stabilize voltage

I have an MS188 Power Saver plugged into a socket near to the circuit breaker box in my house. This small device is effective, SIRIM tested, and legal to use.



This device works by fine-tuning the electrical system in the house. The fine-tuning process reduces heat generation, reduces amperage and results in reduction consumption of electricity. It causes less waste of electrical energy while increasing the life of the inductive equipment in the house. It protects against power surges for up to 400 volts and increases the capacity to the electrical panel by making it run cooler.

It helps to save in electrical bills quite substantially by reducing power wastage. How? It achieves this by increasing the Power Factor, which is the ratio of working power (kW) to apparent power (kVA).

I use this device for the following 3 main purposes:

  1. Improve electrical efficiency and Power Factor, and hence reduce electrical bill charges.
  2. Provide baseline protection against surge and brown to all electrical appliances in the house.
  3. Stabilize the current and hence prolong the lifespan of electrical appliances in the house.
If you are interested with this Power Saver as well, click here for more info.

I notice it has a new look for the current version, slightly different from mine. The ads below shows its new look. You can place your order online there.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tint film with safety and security features

Most people in Malaysia has installed tint film for their car to battle against the hot sun. My car is installed with Armorcoat security tint film for RM1xxx by the Tint Shop.



This tint film is comparable to V-Kool standard in terms of heat repellent, also comes with 5 years warranty, and is quite transparent to also meets the JPJ's light penetration requirement.

If you are considering tinting your car, it is wise to consider for the additional safety and security feature too. With the security tint film, people can only break the window in certain way using certain type of device. Your windows will be pretty robust and unbreakable by helmet, hammer, throwing stone, etc. And with its safety feature, even if the window glass is broken, the pieces will remain sticking on the film, instead of scattering all over and might injure people sitting in the car.

The minimum acceptable robustness of car security film is 4 mil (100 micron). An 8 mil (200 micron) security film can withstand most kind of impacts. If it is 20 mil and above, your windows can be bulletproof.

Tint film that makes your windows cannot be seen through from outside

If you are looking for a solution to make your windows can't be seen through from outside, both during daytime and at night, you might want to consider the solution I installed for my house here.

I found this solution in Care Kool Tint Shop. It is a kind of solar window film for building which can reject heat, infrared and ultraviolet from the sun. It price is not too expensive, compared with the solar window film for car. I mean, I have many windows and glass doors in my house, especially downstairs, and the installation for all the windows and glass doors downstairs costed me RM8xx only.

This solar film really works to repel heat from sunlight. I installed it before the installation of turbine ventilators. However, the turbine ventilators are greater solution to keep the house cool, because the solar film does not block the heat dissipated from roof top and then down the ceiling.

The solar film has many combinations of tint colour which come in pairs, one colour for its outer layer, another for inner layer. The colour combination that plays the trick to make your windows can't be see through from outside is silver/gray. This combination will make your window looks like a mirror from outside. People will only see their own image when looking at your window from outside, and you can look out clearly from inside. This is true during daytime or night time, with or without light on inside your house.

Another colour combination which has less mirroring effect is silver/blue. However, this combination enables people from outside to slightly see through during night time when light is on inside your house.

RadioShack telephone answering device

I have a RadioShack telephone answering device with speakerphone upstairs, using the same splitted phone line with the Panasonic cordless phone downstairs. This phone also not expensive, costed me for RM1xx only.

It looks like a normal phone with LCD display. Nothing special in appearance, so I decided not to include its photo here.

With its price, I'd say it is valued for money, because it has all the neccessary features including CLIP display, address book, memory dial, hands-free speaker, connectable to headset, answering machine features, voice memo recording, remote dial-in control, etc.

It operates on AC electric supply, and also includes a 9 volts backup battery to cater for power failure.

Panasonic cordless phone

This is the Panasonic cordless phone located in my living room. It was the cheapest cordless I could find, with a price tag of 2-digit RM only.



It doesn't have much fancy features, but good enough for my family. With a cordless phone, my family member can talk over the phone comfortably anywhere in the house, even walking around. It can also easily be passed around to other people since it is cordless.

I purposely chosen this model which is quite big in size with big buttons, because my parents prefer the big one so that they can easily see and press the buttons without hassle.

My Panasonic washing machine

This is my 9 kg Panasonic washing machine with filter for water inlet.



Here are some of the considerations when buying washing machine:

  • You need to plan for the location to put the washing machine carefully during renovation, because the washing machine requires 1 electrical plug point, 1 water inlet (pipe) and 1 water outlet (drain).
  • Front loading washing machine can work better and use less water than top loading one. However, their price is still expensive. It is less convenient to put in and take out the clothes. When the clothes are being washed half way, you cannot open the door (even when electricity or water supply failure), else the water will flush out. Therefore, I still chosen the top loading one.
  • Generally, the top end models have stainless steel tubs which is more durable than plastic tub. The tub should have anti-mold feature.
  • If you buy a washing machine with bigger capacity, then you can gather the clothes of your family for a few days before washing, and hence can wash the clothes less frequently, which mean less work to hang, dry and collect the clothes, also iron, fold, and organize back into the wardrobe. Using the washing machine less frequently also means lesser electricity and water consumption.
  • It is better to have a washing machine that can wash and spin dry in the same tub.
  • If you don't have an outdoor water filter, consider buying a washing machine with a small water filter to prevent your white shirts become yellow or brownish due to poor water quality. Even if you have an outdoor water filter, it is no harm to have filter in washing machine too, and the price difference is around RM50 only from the model without this feature.
  • The washing machine should have as many water levels as possible, working together with fuzzy logic machinism, to ensure its efficiency.
  • The washine machine should work with minimal noise level.
  • Other general considerations including programmable washing modes, timer function, child lock, etc. Besides, only certain model of washing machine supports hot and cold water inlet and perform washing with different water temperature.

My Toshiba 3-doors fridge

This is the 470 litres Toshiba 3-doors fridge in my kitchen. Toshiba fridge has been famous for their Hybrid Plasma technology which can effectively keep food fresher, kill bacteria and eliminate bad odour.



When buying a fridge, storage capacity is an important consideration. You should look at the net (internal) storage capacity instead of the gross (including its walls). For example, this 470 litres fridge has a net storage capacity of 395 litres, comprises the freezer on top (104 litres), the refrigerator (201 litres), and the vegetable compartment at the bottom (90 litres). This is lower than the 2-doors model of same family from Toshiba, which has net storage capacity of 410 litres.

Below are the pros and cons of having a 3-doors fridge instead of the 2-doors.

Pros:

  • Bigger compartment to store vegetables.
  • Drawer-type lower compartment which can pull out widely, convenient to put in and take out the vegetables.
  • Save electricity - When you open the fridge door, the cool air escapes and the fridge need to work hard to maintain back the temperature in the compartment. By dividing the vegetable compartment from the refregerator, the refregerator's door is smaller hence less cool air escaped when you open the door just for a while, and the temperature in vegetable compartment is also not affected when the refregerator's door is opened. This is the same that opening the bottom compartment will not affect the refregerator compartment's temperature.

Cons:

  • Net storage capacity smaller by 15 litres.
  • Less space to store drinks as the bottom row of drinks shelf behind the door was compensated to the vegetable compartment.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Choosing the type of downlight

For the lighting solution to various places in my house with plaster ceiling, I have chosen to use the 6" cone stainless steel finished reflector housing with PL-C (square base) vertical mounting lampholder base and round open stainless steel trim, using 18 watt energy saving compact fluorescent 2-pins PL-C lamp that emits warm yellowish light.

Here is how it looks like:



The reasons being as follow:

6" downlight - downlight with bigger aperture is brighter. 6" is just nice and 8" will looks too large unless the ceiling is very high. By using 6", less downlights are required to light up the area. My living room just has 4 downlights only, located at each corner of the ceiling.

Stainless steel housing and trim - unlike chrome or other finishing, it will not rust or discoloured.

Vertical mounting position - convenient position easier to install and remove the lamp.

Round shape trim - cost is cheaper than square trim. Also, square trim are normally covered with glass.

Open trim - light is brigher than covered with glass lens. Also, small insects might be trapped inside the downlight with glass lens, and later the downlight will be filled by their dead bodies. Replacing the lamp inside requires to remove the glass lens too.

18 watt energy saving compact fluorescent lamp - 18 watt is just nice for the required brightness. Energy saving compact fluorescent saves 80% of electricity from incandescent bulb with same brightness.

PL-C lamp - easier to install (just push in) and remove (just pull out). It works with ballast that enable its lifespan to be twice as longer than the exposed spiral or U shaped counterparts.

Warm yellowish light - actually its brightness is the same as white light, but we have less glare and better eye comfort with warm yellowish light. It is suitable for long time reading too.


This kind of downlight can be installed with emergency option unit, whereby a small rechargeable battery is hiding on top of the ceiling and connected to the light. In case of electricity blackout, the downlights can still be switched on for a few hours by using the backup power supply from the emergency option unit.

Position your ceiling lights far away from the fan

I learnt about this from my contractor too, but I noticed some of my friends were not aware of this and did not done it right for their house. They are suffering from the flicker effects.

You should position your ceiling lights far away from the ceiling fan. This is because if the fan is close to the lights, when its blades is moving, it will have shadow under the light, causing the room to have a flickering lighting effect, which is irritating and bad to your eyes.

If the room is small and there is a ceiling fan on top, you'd better opt for wall lights instead of installing ceiling lights.

Increasing the efficiency of your air-cond

Increasing the efficiency of your air-cond can save you money in your electricity bills, as well as being good to the world environment too.

Here are the measures that I have taken to increase the efficiency of my air-cond:

1. Ensure the outdoor compressor unit blows the hot air away from your house

Some people made the mistake of hiding the compressor behind a pillar or wall. I almost made the same mistake too, if not my contractor reminded me that this will be bad for the dissipation of hot air blown out from the compressor. There should be no obstacle in front of the compressor unit.

Other than that, some people put the compressor unit close to a window, on a wall forming 90 degree with the window. Some other people just put it under the window (remember, hot air rises). This will make the hot air from the compressor blowing towards the window front. The hot air should be blown away from your house, and best located parallel and on top of your windows.

2. Place the indoor unit close to the outdoor compressor

This will not only save you cost in laying the air-cond hose, which normally charges per feet of installation. It will also make the refrigerant gas travels in shorter distance and faster to reach the indoor unit.

3. Confine the cool air from escaping the room

This is a common sense that most people awares. When using the air-cond, close up all the windows and doors to restrict cool air from escaping.

4. Tint the glass of those big sliding windows

There are tinting films available to install on the windows glass, blocking the heat, infrared and ultraviolet radiation of the sun from entering your house. This is particularly effective if the windows are facing west.

5. Switch on the ceiling fan together with the air-cond

This will tremendously increase the airflow, making the room cool down much more effectively, and in turn the air-cond unit need to work less harder.

6. Wash the air filter of indoor unit regularly

The air filter surface will fill up with dust over time. Take it out and wash it with tap water. Rinse it, dry it, and put it back. If the air filter is blocked by dust, your air-cond need to work much more harder.

The cleaning frequency depends on your usage. If you use the air-cond everyday, should clean the air-filter at least monthly. If you use it occasionally, then can clean it bi-monthly or at most quarterly.

7. Service the air-cond at least every 2-3 years

Servicing the air-cond includes disseminating its indoor and outdoor units, and clean with chemical. This will maintain its cooling efficiency.

8. Install turbine ventilators on your roof top

I seldom need to switch on the air-conds in my house eversince the turbine ventilator system is installed. The neccessity to switch on air-cond only come when the indoor temperature reaches above 30 degree Celcius, which is very rare.

And because the turbine ventilator system can effectively improve the air circulation in the house, it does help to make the air-cond works more efficiently the same way like the ceiling fan does, although the effect is certainly not as much as the ceiling fan.

To learn more about the turbine ventilator system, read my other article here.
To learn more on how to select air-conditioner wisely, read my other article here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How to select air-conditioner wisely

It is obvious that the world's temperature has been rising over the years, and nowadays most family has installed air-cond in their house. I learnt about the following when I planned for the air-conds in my house before I moved in.

Disregard the brand and additional features, when selecting an air-cond which main function is to cool down the room, there are 3 major ratings to look for, beside the Horse Power (HP).


BTU/hour - measurement on cooling capacity:

This is the actual cooling capacity unit of the air-cond and must match with the room size to be cooled. The room won’t cool efficiently and cost effectively if the BTU/hr rating is too low or too high for the size of the room.

BTU/hr is proportional to the Horse Power of the air-cond, but there is no fixed conversion formula between them, and varies from different models and brands of air-cond. Among air-conds with the same HP capacity, the higher the BTU/hr the better.

In general:

  • 1 HP air-cond has BTU capacity ranging between 9000-10,000.
  • 1.5 HP air-cond has BTU capacity ranging between 11,000-13,000.
  • 2 HP air-cond has BTU capacity ranging between 15,000-25,000.
  • 2.5 HP air-cond has BTU capacity above 20,000.

An effective rule of thumb to determine the BTU capacity required to cool a room effectively is to multiply the square feet of the room by 25; add 1,000 for every window and 400 for each occupant in the room. If the window is facing west directly shined by the sunlight, add 10% to the calculated result for cooling during daytime.

For example, if your bedroom is 12' x 12' with 2 windows, 2 people will be sleeping there at night, the suitable BTU capacity for the air-cond in the bedroom will be:

(12x12) x 25 + 2 x 1000 + 2 x 400 = 3600 + 2000 + 800 = 6400

Therefore, a 1 HP air-cond should be enough for this bedroom.


EER - measurement on efficiency in electricity consumption:

The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is calculated by dividing the BTU capacity by the number of watts. The higher the EER number the more efficient the air-cond unit should be. The EER rating generally ranges from 8-11.5, and should not be lower than 5.


Airflow - measurement on cooling speed:

The cooling speed of air-cond is determined by the ability of airflow travelling in cubic feet per minute (CFM). In normal words, CFM is the volume of air moved by the air-cond blower per minute.

For 1 HP air-conds, airflow generally varies between 210CFM-300CFM. Higher airflow provides faster cooling as well as better air circulation.


Related article: Increasing the efficiency of your air-cond

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The EPF / KWSP online service

I believe many have been aware that they can use the online service of Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) also known as Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) here:

http://www.kwsp.gov.my/

In case you haven't make use of this service, here are the steps to create a user account in this online system.

1. Go to the EPF website, and click on "Pendaftaran Baru".
2. Click on "Daftar sebagai Ahli".
3. Submit the registration form online.
4. Go to your nearest EPF office within the registration timeframe.
5. Get the activation code using the Kiosk Pintar or from the counter. Beware that this code has a limited lifetime.
6. Go to the EPF website, and click on "Login Kali Pertama".
7. Accept the terms and conditions.
8. Activate your online account with the activation code.
9. Create your username and password to use the system.
10. You can now login the system with the account you just created.

The EPF online service enables you to:

  • Change your personal profile.
  • Inform EPF about your latest contact address.
  • Review your updated statement of account.
  • Review your fund withdrawal details, including the withdrawal application status and history.

Tracking your electricity usage records online

You can actually check the details of your electricity account with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) , including the history of billing, meter reading, and payment made, with this URL:

https://e-services.tnb.com.my/


Here is how one of its screen looks like:



If you have an existing Maybank2u account, you can also pay your electricity bills with its online payment facility. Other than that, you can also make use of the website to send e-Request for Change of Tenancy.

How you disconnect and reconnect car battery terminals?

Have you ever bother about the right sequence to disconnect and reconnect the battery in your car? We need to do this when changing battery, installing gadgets such as voltage stabilizer, grounding cables, etc.

The right sequence to disconnect the cable from the battery terminals is:
1. Disconnect the -ve terminal first
2. Disconnect the +ve terminal then

To reconnect the cable to the battery terminals:
3. Reconnect the +ve terminal first
4. Reconnect the -ve terminal last

If it is done in wrong sequence, there is a chance of short circuit when the disconnected terminal accidentally touches the metal part of the car body, and there is possibility that sensitive electronic equipments in the car could be damaged.

There exist something called a "memory keeper" to be plugged into lighter socket, which will help you to keep the setting of radio, clock, etc. for a short period of time, while the battery is temporary disconnected.

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