Friday, November 28, 2014

How to fix a defective laptop LCD screen?

In Singapore, it is easier to just get a new electronics rather than fix/repair it. To repair an item will cost more than to buy a new one (especially when warranty period is over). For example, you will be charged with a diagnostic fee, then the repair fee, and the not-so-cheap replacement parts (that are always not available in Singapore) and need to be ordered.

Sometimes, for a fault that cost only a few dollars can escalate to more than SGD 50 when service charges are included. Other instances, to save time, the repair shop will suggest to change the whole module without determining the component fault.

For this blog, I will share my experience regarding my laptop and its LCD screen (that has gone black).

A visit to several repair shops suggested that the LCD need to be replaced. When I asked them if it could be back light or LCD inverter that is not working, they said it is possible. However, they will need to test it. Diagnosis will cost SGD 30 (others quoted SGD 50), and if I decide not to go on with the repair, I still have to pay for the service fee. Wow, the inverter only cost SGD 10 to 15 in my case (from eBay which I browsed earlier). It was just not worth the repair, unless if I decide to change the LCD screen that will probably come with its bundled inverter! That would cost me at least SGD 150.00.

So, I have decided to go on with a DIY project (that will cost me less than SGD 20). I guess if it doesn't work, I can comtemplate changing the LCD later.
  • The first thing that I needed to do was to disassemble-and-reassemble the LCD panel and be very comfortable with the process. Fortunately, Youtube provided plenty of examples from contributors in this regard. Update: I found it easy to do that with my laptop model (thank you Acer).
  • Secondly, I needed to purchase the backlight inverter from eBay (SGD 19.31 plus delivery) for my laptop model. Most of the parts are readily available from China and Hong Kong (with free delivery sometimes) whereas those from US or UK has higher delivery charge which is more than the price of item (and took longer time). I studied the reviews from the seller before committing the purchase. When that's done, I just waited for the item. It will take at least three weeks to a month for the item to reach Singapore. Update: the item reached my home on the second week. Note that the item doesn't come with a warranty, but it was mentioned by the seller (personal warranty for limited time).
  • When the item arrived. I removed the old inverter, and replaced with the new one. Update: it worked and the LCD was not at fault. I saved plenty with this DIY. I will wait for couple of days to leave a positive review to the seller, just to be certain that the inverter is working :)

All in all, I have spent approx. SGD 20 and had a great experience trying out a simple DIY to change the inverter. I just hope the inverter will work for at least a year.

Just to share.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A sound advice is adults should never hit children out of reactions

I'm referring to this article "if he loses hearing, I'll just pay compensation" (Asiaone, 17 Nov 2014), and from Stomp "Man arrested after allegely slapping 3-year-old kid at Toa Payoh" (17 Nov 2014).

The father who hit another child did it out of reaction (impulse). He could be an over-protective dad who loves his child, BUT his knee-jerk reaction and action were not proper. Kids will be kids and as adults, we should be more patient and level-headed when dealing with them.

I gather, from readers' responses that most of us who are angry at the slapper, are also susceptible to reacting the way the father did (just a hunch). Our shock and anger over this news, and our subsequent comments such as "I'll punch him if that's my kid", or "I'll whack him if I see him", suggests that we are no better at controlling ourselves emotionally if the same thing were to happen to us. Fortunately, not all readers responded in the negative. For those hating the father, let us show a little slack for him. This episode will be an unforgettable lesson to the father, and will serve as a reminder for the rest of us to treat children with more patients and never hit them out of anger/reaction. If you subscribe to some caning in your parenting style (for serious misconduct), at least do it properly and especially after a TIME-OUT (when you are no longer clouded by emotion) so that you won't "lose" yourself.

As parents, our kids are everything. Protecting them is natural. Anger (of ourselves or others) over our inability to protect them from harm/hurt will happen. However, over-reaction is not good, although it will happen sometimes (as we are just humans). Let this episode be a reminder to us that we shouldn't hit a child out of reaction.

There are several examples I would like to share and ask readers what would your reactions be when you are dealing with them:
  1. You walked with your 6 months pregnant wife home from work via an HDB void deck. Several kids (from primary school) played soccer there (which is not allowed as indicated by the warning sign) and one of them kicked the ball so hard that it accidentally hit your wife's belly. She cried out in pain. What is your reaction?
  2. You walked with your 2 years old daughter in the market around your HDB (where no cycling is allowed in the vicinity). Suddenly, at a corner, a man turned his bicycle and knocked onto your baby girl. She got bruised and cried out loudly. What is your reaction?
  3. Your kid came home from school with bloody uniform. His two front teeth got chipped badly and whatever trauma had caused them to wobble. He told you later that one of the school bully (he had been telling you for sometime) pushed him down the staircase in school. How do you feel? This happened to a friend's child, and the teeth had to be extracted because it got infected. According to the dentist, the trauma had caused the other teeth to move out of position. So, in the future the kid will have to come visit for orthodontic treatment to correct the alignment. How do you feel?
If you felt angry at some instances, that is a normal response. We are after all humans and we do tend to err in emotion and judgement (just as how the father who slapped the 3 years old kid erred). His alleged retort "If he loses hearing, I'll just pay compensation" didn't help him a bit BUT I hope we can give him the benefit of the doubt that he spoke with sane mind (considering that he could have been clouded by anger when he spoke).

Being unreasonably angry at him only reflects our susceptibility to ending up the type of person we hated. Let us remind ourselves not to be "short-fused".

Just a thought.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

HDB ceiling leak in bathroom

If you noticed that the ceiling paint inside your bathroom(s) is peeling, don't assume that it is due to Singapore's humid weather (or the humidity in your bathroom). That is because, most paints are resistant to humid condition and will not peel due to exterior condition.

A most likely reason for the peel is due to a leak that resulted in wet ceiling that caused the paint to deteriorate and peel.

Now, how can a ceiling be leaky? As I got to find out, bathroom in HDB is layered by water-proof membrane (it is just paint-able waterproof polymer that will solidify and function as a water-proof layer). This waterproof layer act to direct excess water to a sink (or drain), while preventing water leak to the lower unit. See the figure for explanation. Due to wear and tear, the water-proof membrane need to be replaced.

 Fig. water-proof membrane (dark gray) and the bottom layer is the concrete scaffold holding the whole bathroom unit. A sink/drain is shown. Please don't be misled to think that the water-proof membrane is thick; they are not and comprise just a thin coat of paint!

 Fig. 2 dimension representation of bathroom floor layers. The uppermost is the tiling, the layer immediately down to the tile is the concrete/screed (for support?), the dark gray colored layer is the water-proof membrane. The bottom-most layer is the strong scaffold/concrete supporting the bathroom unit. The blue arrows are the water-flowing to the sink/drain whereas the red arrow shows a leak when the membrane is worn out.

I was surprised (if not shocked) to know that the water-proof membrane can only last 10 to 20 years. That is a short time as compared to a 99 years leasehold for HDB home. It means that we will have to repair our bathrooms at least 5 times throughout the lease. Well, that's not actually a bad news, considering that some of us (not me yet) tend to renovate our home after some time. Having said that, please remember to ask the contractor to repair the waterproof membrane too the next time you decide to renovate your house (especially bathrooms). This is to prevent unpredictable leaking to the lower unit that will cause a revamp/redo of your newly renovated bathroom! A competent interior designer (ID) will be able to advise homeowner about this (to save future cost and headache).

Fortunately, any bathroom leak in HDB unit will be "subsidized" by HDB in their Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRA) scheme, in which HDB will co-pay 50% of the repair cost and the the remainder is shared by both vertical neighbours at 25% each. For more information, refer to HDB website pertaining to "repair of ceiling leaks".

All the following took 2-3 months time (and it depends on the speed of home owners to response to HDB because HDB is powerless to "compel" owners, and so being responsible neighbour is important):

Once you report a leak, an officer will come to your home and inspect the leak. Once the leak is confirmed to be due to ceiling leak, they will send request for GRA scheme and repair. You will receive a letter confirming that HDB will co-pay the repair and an HDB contractor/surveyor will visit to assess the bathrooms and write prescription about the repair work and they will show you the type of tiles, toilet bowl and explain the procedures. When we agreed to the repair, the surveyor will arrange a convenient time for the repair work.

For the repair, the first day will be very noisy and dusty. The contractor will provide a protective sheet for you to cover your bed (up to king size about 6.1 inch in width). You might need to prepare more protective sheets for your other items on the master bedroom (if that's the case). The first day will likely fall on a weekday, and ideally on a Friday (so that you will only need to take one day off work). Your bathroom will be demolished along with your favourite toilet bowl (you can't salvage it UNFORTUNATELY!). Any fixture at the bottom will be removed. However, anything that can be salvaged will be removed with care (that's how good the HDB contractor is; at least what I experience that day).

On the second day (ideally on Saturday), there will be two visits per day. The first visit is to paint the water-proof material (black in colour) to the slab of concrete layered on the first day. When the water-proof layer is dry, the next visit on that day would be to layer the subsequent void with concrete (or screed). That will be left to dry for two days (because Sunday is off day).

On the third day (or rather fourth day because it fell on a Monday), your chosen tile will be laid. Now, if you don't prefer to have the 20 x 20 cm tiles (and would prefer a larger 30 x 30 cm tiles or larger still), you will need to source it elsewhere. A minimal fee of SGD 80 will be charged for the tile work (if they are not from HDB specification). I don't understand why HDB is not providing a minimal 30 x 30 tiles (because that will ease the contractor's work during laying down the tiles (rather than having to repeat many times for the smaller dimension tiles). Furthermore, the price difference is not a lot for these tiles (see different types of tiles in Singapore). For those owners with concealed piping for sink or other fixture, you will not be able to conceal it once HDB contractor finish their work. If you insist on having them concealed especially those "ugly" piping, you can arrange with the contractor (but with added cost). That is because HDB only allowed basic repair work that fix the problem while preserving the function of your bathroom, rather than to "beautify" your room. HDB contractor can advise you about added work but they normally will not "hard-sell" you of their added services (due to HDB regulation I guess, which is good because you are assured to get the best of what HDB expect, while better than best would require your own insistence).

The work comes with a warranty (10 years).

A letter to therealsingapore highlighted a ceiling leak of a 20 years old building, the title was "HDB not taking responsibility for building defects" (19 May 2014). The complainant was unaware that waterproof membrane is not forever, and HDB does help owners to subsidies the repair work. Any warranty for the waterproof membrane on the new HDB unit is for 10 years and it is owners' responsibility to repair the leak thereafter (but co-paid by HDB on Goodwill scheme). The complainant was unaware of his role and blamed HDB for defect without approaching HDB for help and clarification.

Here are several responses from readers (of therealsingapore):
Khor Wee Siong · Top Commenter
"This accusation is based on assumptions which may not be accurate - namely - that the building work was defective and that the leak was caused by defective materials and/or workmanship. The normal warranty for waterproofing is only 10 years. So, if the slab remained watertight for over 10 years, it has already performed beyond the warranted period. This leak is thus fair wear and tear. The cost of repair should thus fall upon the owners, not the HDB."

Tempest Abraham · Top Commenter
"Seriously dude, your ceiling has started to leak after close to 20 years. Poor initial workmanship or not, likewise premium quality construction materials or otherwise, it is not unreasonable for them to start failing now. How often do you get life time warranties?"


Do I like my bathroom now?
Well, I preferred my previous bathroom because it was sleek and beautiful BUT I don't dislike the current fixed bathroom because the work was surely not done shoddily. The officer-in-charge, the surveyor, and down to the contractors and workers were friendly, helpful and professional. Based on all these, I would give 4 out of 5 stars, with one star left out to encourage continued effort to improve.

My hope is that the waterproof membrane will last for 10 years plus plus.

Just a thought.

Updated (20141129)
  • HDB ISN'T DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THE LEAKING PIPES IN MY CEILING (TRS, 2 Jan 2014) - I guess it's really difficult to expedite some repair, especially severe leakage that causes drips (if not pour), and it is important to spot the fault early so that immediate action can be taken. Fortunately, the above neighbour cooperated (as according to the contributor). We need to understand that HDB is powerless to compel people to act according to being neighbourliness and responsible because there is no law for HDB to act upon to compel owners to cooperate. It all boils down to being responsible neighbours. For example, in my case, when HDB informed me that my unit was leaking water to my neighbour at lower level, I immediately followed HDB recommendations to repair the leak. It was all done in less than 2 months time. As for my upper level neightbour unit that is causing my ceiling leak, it was difficult for HDB to contact them for several weeks but when HDB did, this neighbour followed the recommendation to fix the bathroom and the expected repair took about 3-4 months time. Considering that repairing leak (plus the paper works) takes longer time, it's always good to spot the fault before it gets bigger. However, there is also a hotline to call HDB in case of emergencies, e.g. ceiling pouring down water overnight instead of drips (e.g. 1800-225-5432 from 8.00am to 5.00pm on Weekdays). I guess we should hope that there is no emergency on weekends... All in all, we should understand that HDB is not superman (who can fix any problems immediately), the importance of being good and responsible neighbours, authorities act within bound of law (and not "common sense"), e.g. HDB don't hand-cuff people because they failed to cooperate.

Vigilante & mob attack is a double edged sword

Netizens might get into trouble for harassing Sim Lim’s Jover Chew: reports (Yahoo News; 8 Nov 2014). Although it's FUN and (spiritually) LIBERATING to see Jover Chew suffered and got what he deserved (I felt GOOD too knowing that he got harassed, shamed, among others), but what "SMRT Ltd (Feedback)" did was illegal and wrong. 

Awww.... what the hell am I talking about??? I guess most of readers will shout out, "SHADUPPPP.....BRAINLESS".

Well, I am still right. The authorities are still right. It is illegal, wrong, and preventive action should be taken to discourage recurrence (before someone gets hurt).

SMRT Ltd (Feedback): From Troll Group To Internet Vigilantes. From this news (or interview), SMRT Ltd (Feedback) felt that their action was PROPER (if not RIGHT), and the victims DESERVING. They felt that when the authority is not doing its job, it's alright to fill the VOID. SMRT Ltd (Feedback) felt no wrong to initiate "Operation Airkangkang" to promote online vigilante and online mob attack. The attack on Jover Chew is not the first. Anton Casey was another victim that got attacked. I don't think both of them will be the last victims. Will online vigilante be the trend now?

The reason I don't feel comfortable about online or offline vigilante...
  1. What if certain groups target individuals who went against their beliefs, e.g. transgender, homosexuals, act of close-proximity (e.g. public kissing/hugging), etc? 
  2. How about the case involving a Malaysian teen who received death threats after 'Liking' Israel on Facebook (where a screen-shot was taken and published by his teacher
  3. How about having a SOCIAL JUSTICE LEAGUE sites targeting individuals deemed to be socially despicable, obnoxious, and irresponsible? E.g. those walking smokers, reserve-seats "sleepers", litter bugs, etc.
  4. Edited.... I guess whatever vigilante movement is possible here. 
I don't think any vigilante movement will have the ability to self-regulate. What they deemed right (sometimes) might be wrong. Vigilante is not right and will never be alright in any learned/civilized society (not in Singapore). History told us vigilante movement is flawed (because innocent can fall victim).

Cheongsam lady and Anton Casey.

About Anton Casey (my previous blog; 29 Jan 2014), My take on Anton Casey case is that, someone could have disliked him. That person was Anton's Facebook friend. That person exposed Anton with his "dry-joke" that easily offended many Singaporeans (especially those not rich as him). As predicted, Anton got into BIG trouble, loss (or quit) his job, and moved out of Singapore. To me, Anton is a bad joker and politically incorrect... I don't think he deserved attack because he it was a bad joke not meant for others (but his peers).

In Jover's case, how his particulars were acquired was scary. His friends, workers, acquaintances, neighbours and other people who knows him EXPOSED him. This included information about his family, Facebook photos, addresses, and phones. SMRT Ltd (Feedback) was the "contact center" to acquire such information from the public. I guess such method was used on Anton Casey and Cheongsam lady too? Or am I wrong and was there another way?

Fortunately, no one got hurt. However, if the trend persist, I worry that someone might get hurt.

Just a thought.


Edited several times to get to the point.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Freedom in Singapore doesn't mean freedom from responsibility and liability

Refer to this news and what the defense lawyer Mr. Ravi used as material to help the defendant. He invoked Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression to try to defend Roy's action in the libel/slander case.

I guess defense lawyer will try to invoke the rights of freedom of expression as a shield in most cases of libel/slander. I guess for common person, we will all fall trap to the misconception about Freedom of Expression/Speech and other freedom prescribed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The misconception is that, "It is all right to curtail other people's freedom but not our own".

So, is it all right to speak with mischief, malice, ill-intent, hatred, bully, malign, and other vile intent (just to preserve your rights) to destroy the life of others (or curtailing the rights and freedom of others)? Bear in mind I'm referring to the question in general (not just in Roy's case).

There are several examples of individual freedom versus other people's (or public) freedom:
  1. Freedom to move and reside. A group of people decided to park their butts in front of your house, wandered around, and made tents. Their rights however encroached and curtailed other people's rights. Similarly, how about an individual decided to scale your property wall and entered your house just to invoke his rights to freedom of movement to the judge/jury when he is pressed with intrusion (for paparazzi)/trespassing (for robbers) charges?
  2. Freedom to express/speak. In major religion, there is a prohibition/warning about the danger of speaking with ill-intention or malice (or rumour and slander). Such "freedom" had been known to start wars, killed innocents, and sacrificed plenty. Is it all right to speak untruthfully (without fact/evidence) and malice to degrade and harm someone? Is individual rights more precious than others? Is there no responsibility? To be more specific, is freedom to express free us from responsibility/liability as well?
  3. If human basic rights provide freedom of movement, most of the prison inmates including dangerous murderers, rapists, and war criminals shouldn't be locked up against their will. They have their rights! How about freedom of individuals with Ebola being prevented from flying to other countries (note that they are being quarantined against their will and against their basic human rights)? Aren't their freedom being curtailed?
  4. Freedom to express. When a friend was killed in an accident, a mob of people expressed their anger (freedom of expression?) that ended up a riot with damaged properties (but fortunately no casualties). In this case, are their rights to express freely justifiable to removing the rights of residents and property owners to a peaceful and safe environment? 
If we allow the rights of certain people to be preserved but cared less about the rights of other people, then what will happen next will only be disorder and disregard for the law (and logic). If the Western press who are protected by rights to express freely can end up paying millions to several celebrities, politicians and others, then it is not surprising that Roy will have to bear the responsibility for his action too. He was given the chance to minimize the damage, but he insisted to charge forward to be accounted for his action.

As for the CPF issue, to my knowledge (in "pre-Roy" time), it had been an ongoing work by opposition and ruling parties to deal with the issue involving feedback from contributors (pertaining to several discontents). The debate had been professional and there was none so stupid or audacious as Roy to insinuate a misappropriation in CPF (which is totally unrelated to this prior works). I think it was a mischief gone wrong...  I guess the Malay proverb rings true here, "kerana mulut (or blog) badan binasa" (or bad repercussion from "slip of tongue"). Also, "Better the foot slip than the tongue ". Fortunately, there had and will always be freedom of speech/expression, but it is never too far away from responsibilities.

I would like to point out that whatever changes pertaining to CPF (seen during Roy saga) is the result from hardwork of thinking opposition party (for several years) and cooperation from ruling and not by mere blogger who stuck his head in and ended up in libel/slander. The real people who worked out the CPF issues are the ones who sat and thought before speaking out. It is unfair that Roy is getting the credit for things he did not participate in. Isn't it akin to "spiritual adviser" making a "rain dance" and later got credit for the subsequent rain that was the result of cloud seeding?

Just a thought.

Update: Keypoint (of this entry) is that freedom of expression is not free from responsibility/liability (in general sense).

Opposition party hard work on CPF issues (random picks)
  1. Speech on CPF (Amendment) Bill – MP Png Eng Huat (12 Nov 2013)
  2. MP Sylvia Lim’s Budget 2012 Speech
  3. Speech by Low Thia Khiang on CPF changes, 18 Sep 07

Digital TV transmission in Singapore

MediaCorp started transmitting free-to-air (FTA) channels in digital format (i.e. the Is and Os) since Dec 2013 using the Digital Video Broadcasting - Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2; previous version being DVB-T) standard. The analog transmission will cease operation once the switch to digital transmission is completed (expected to be around 2016-2020). This blog is just to educate myself about the transition from analog to digital TV reception, especially considering that my TV is not digital TV-integrated. I tried to research on this topic..

The benefit of digital transmission versus analog can be referred to this site (briefly, better resolution and sound quality, unclog/clear the radio-frequency being transmitted in Singapore [for other commercial purposes], richer content [more function for viewers and content provider], et cetera).

What must I do (or what had been done)?
Fig. Progressive rollout of DTV transmission from 2013-2016 (sourced from MediaCorp)

  • What will I need to get to enjoy DTV? A digital TV antenna and also a tuner/converter.
A digital TV antenna (that can bandscan or search VHF and UHF). For example, Philips DTV tuner/antenna (Model SDV1125T/27) that cost USD 15 (output is via coaxial connection). Ebay Singapore produced several hits when search input was "Philips digital TV antenna" and the price range was around SGD 30 and above. The antenna will be connected to a tuner/converter before being fed to the TV.

A digital tuner/converter box with several output connections, e.g. coaxial, S-video (or RCA), HDMI, USB, etc. Things to look out for are support options (aspect ratio, resolution, closed caption, parental control, etc.. A search in Ebay produces an example, e.g. Supersonic SC-58 DTV Digital to Analog Converter box +HDMI Output (1080P) +USB for reference. It cost below USD 50. The output connections for this item are HDMI and RCA (aka A/V jack).

I guess the next step would be to search for an antenna and tuner/converter. In the US, the transition from analog to digital was sponsored by the government, with a "voucher" at USD 40 to get the antenna and converter/tuner. Not sure if Singapore is going to sponsor the transition to digital when the analog transmission is ceased (considering that many household will be affected)? For those who can't wait to enjoy better TV experience, I guess they will be looking for one right now (or had got one). I'm still deciding...


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Updated: 4-year-old's death from eating tainted food a misadventure, says coroner

Updated from the previous post re: 4-year-old's death from eating tainted food a misadventure, says coroner. Yesterday news reported that NEA will take action against the stall owner in court (Straits Times; 1st Oct 2014). Under the Environmental Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, the stall owner faces a fine of up to SGD 2000 for each charge. In addition, Kopitiam was also reported to be taking action against the stall owner by terminating the license agreement with the said operator. On top of that, the boy's family could also take legal action against the stall owner, as pointed out by criminal lawyer Justin Tan. However, the boy's family was reported to have decided not proceed with that course of action.

I hope that this incident will provide a strong reminder to all food stall operators/owners to be extra vigilant and responsible in terms of ensuring that food safety/hygiene is followed. Owners should also ensure that all of their staffs handling food are well trained, certified and responsible. They should be made aware of stool-to-food transmission of lethal pathogens, in this case Salmonella spp. and never handle food when they are feeling unwell.

I remember that there was a case of Salmonella poisoning (or Salmonellosis) reported in 2007 and affected PrimaDeli product, in which scores of people were affected by the contaminated food product. Fortunately no lethality was reported. Sadly, the transmission of this bacterium was due to poor food hygiene practices and was attributed to food handlers (in which two were tested positive for Salmonella Group C) and management.

Food poisoning is not life-threatening to majority of adults, but I would like to remind food operators that food poisoning could be detrimental/lethal to certain susceptible group of people, such as children and elderly.