Archive for Abril, 2009

Indicator whoes

Quarta-feira, Abril 15th, 2009

Last week my 11-year-old Rover 200 iS just lost it’s indicators. The hazards also didn’t work.

This weekend I found some free time to look at the problem. The indicators did not light up when the stalk was moved. No green arrows on the dashboard. The hazards switch lit up the triangle on the dashboard, but it did not blink (and the indicators also did not light up). I could also not hear the distinct relay “click-click” sound when the indicators worked. I checked all fuses first, but everything was fine.

Then I realized there was an initial “click” sound coming from the relay on the fuses’ board, when the stalk was moved or the hazards’ switch pressed. I suspected the relay might be having problems, and took it out.

It was very easy to open, and inside I found a small copper tab broken. I think I found the culprit!

Unsurprisingly, my local supplier of auto parts did not have the Rover (actually, a Lucas) relay in stock, but could provide me with an electrically equivalent. I brought it home, but alas, it did not fit the slot on the board. Although unable to fit the new relay, I was able to test it (and use it temporarily) by creating a home-made adapter with a few copper tabs and a couple of “crocodile” leads. It worked, proving the relay was the only bad piece of this puzzle.

A few days later I finally got hold of an original Rover/Lucas relay, and now everything is working as it was for the past 11 years.

At first, instead of fiddling with it, I thought of leaving the car for service at a garage near my work place, but I’m a little eery of having people messing with my car. Firstly, I have to leave the car there, and only God knows what happens after I leave. Secondly, the problem might even be simple and cheap, but they decide to charge me 4 hours work and some replacement parts that weren’t. I have nothing to hold on to, and pay.

In fact, once I left the car in for service, but went on shopping with my wife in a nearby shopping center. After I came back to fetch the car, they charged me 5 hours work. This happened less than 4 hours after I left the car there. If I just left the car for a whole day, there was no way I could know, and payed happily.

We have to defend ourselves from this type of “robbery”, so I’m getting a Haynes service book to try and solve the small problems my car will start to develop. After all, it is 11 years old… and I want it to last until I get a brand new PHEV. Wich will hopefully happen in 2 to 3 years time.

I always loved my Rover 200 iS, because I think it is a great, balanced car. It was also very dependable through all these years. I’m glad to see it back on the road again! :)

Explosão de Sabores

Quarta-feira, Abril 8th, 2009

Nesta Páscoa, como em todas as outras Páscoas que passámos em Vale de Cambra, fomos abastecer-nos de doçarias à Criju. É sempre uma maravilha para os sentidos…

Este ano trouxemos um sortido de “amêndoas” digno de uma família real! O interior das drageias eram variados: além das típicas amêndoas havia avelâs, noz, noz pecan, banana, o interior dos Maltesers, e chocolate. Os revestimentos eram igualmente emotivos: chocolate preto, branco e de leite, chocolate picante, açúcar, cacau em pó, café e moka. As formas, de redondas às típicas amêndoas, passando por ovos e “clusters”, evidenciavam a panóplia de sabores e texturas que iríamos descobrir.

Além dos doces divinais, a Criju tem também “pacotes de amêndoas” muito originais e criativos, longe de qualquer coisa que se possa encontrar em hipermercados ou centros comerciais. Coloridos, divertidos, sofisticados, fofos, grandes ou pequenos, é fácil encontrar a nossa felicidade na diversidade proposta.

Altamente recomendada, a Criju reflete aquilo que eu gosto de ver no comércio tradicional: propõe produtos diferentes, únicos até, muito difícil ou dispendioso de encontrar no comércio em massa. Além disso é dinâmica, propondo sempre coisas novas. É assim que conquista a sua clientela, e a mantêm. Um exemplo para muita gente.

Quando passarem por Vale de Cambra, não se esqueçam de dar um saltinho à Criju; quando provarem um dos seus deliciosos bolos-rei de frutos secos, vão ficar convencidos…

PVR #1 - Media Center - PVR #2

Segunda-feira, Abril 6th, 2009

Last week, while watching Un dîner presque parfait on M6 (a french channel), me and my wife realized it was a pity we couldn’t catch all of the shows during the week. We have a very busy life, and even when we are home when the show airs, we usually cannot just sit down and watch it. So we decided to get a PVR, and on our next visit to Aveiro we purchased a Samsung DVD/HD PVR (for 222€). When I finally found time to install and test the machine (about a week later), we realised just how much noise the fan on the back of the device made… still, that was not the worst of it. The DVD drive made an amazing whirring sound when reading a standard commercial DVD disc (matrix-created, not a recorded one). I could clearly hear it above my floorstanding speakers while watching Asterix contre Cesar. Assuming my unit was normal and had no defects, someone took a couple of awful engineering decisions…

We returned the PVR (thankfully, MediaMarkt is a great store, and gave us our money back). Then I started wondering about building a Media Center arond one of my old Macs and an Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus. But my old Macs are really, really old Macs (no USB 2.0), so using the EyeTV was not an option. Getting a new MacMini would be much more expensive, so I finally decided to postpone the Media Center to next year, when the Digital TV is settled here in Portugal (yes, we still don’t have digital here…).

After thinking a bit, we decided to purchase a PVR anyway, because we will make good use of it for the time being. We’ll hopefully be moving out in a year or so, and I’ll think about our Media Center by then. So, next time we were in Aveiro we searched around a bit and got a Panasonic DMR-EH58 PVR (for 215€).

 Panasonic DVR

What a diference! The fan protrudes from the machine’s case, but is essentially silent. In fact, I can actually hear the hard drive spinning up! The DVD drive is not only silent (all I can hear is the laser seek movement), it is actually faster than my Sony DVD player when detecting discs and moving in menus. The remote control is very well designed, the commands are clear and easy to use. The case is very well designed, sleek and stylish.

As for performance, I’m very happy; menus respond immediately to remote buttons (slow-responding and slow-redrawing menus are a personal pet peeve of mine with appliances), power-on is quick, recording quality in XP mode is amazing (I see no difference from direct cable TV), programming the thing to record at a certain date is easy and quick (and complete, like recording every work day, Monday to Friday, or on every weekend), the menus are intuitive (and so is the remote).

All in all a joy to use, and recommended!