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Archive for April 2009

Refunds, Replacements and Legal Obligations

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We recently had a new addition to our family: a shiny new Samsung 2233SW LCD monitor. Father and baby are doing well (Mother couldn’t care less).

Despite the joy of having 21-and-a-half inches of shininess, there was a minor problem. The monitor rattled whenever it moved; an uncomfortable metal-against-glass type rattle. I put up with it for about a week, but after that I felt compelled to try to get it fixed, just in case it decided to die on me after the warranty period expired.

My first call was to Samsung Support. Since it was reported within 14 days of purchase, Samsung Support Guy said it is considered “dead on arrival” and I needed to return it to the Store to get it replaced.

Second call: the Store. Monitors are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, said Store Guy. Call Samsung and they will provide a replacement. Sigh.

Third call: Samsung Support. Store Guy is right, said Samsung Support Guy, but only after 14 days. Under Fair Trading law, the Store is obligated to provide a replacement within 14 days of purchase. Double Sigh.

Fourth call was to the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (1300 30 40 54). Here’s the official word from Friendly DFT Lady:

There is no “14 day” rule under the Fair Trading laws. However, by paying money you effectively entered into a contract with the seller to provide a product that is free from defects and acceptable for use. If the product is not defect-free, then the seller is obligated to rectify the problem, be it a replacement, repair or refund.

Is the seller still obligated to rectify the rattling, even if it doesn’t affect the performance of the monitor? Friendly DFT Lady says Yes:

Since you would not expect a monitor to rattle, then the seller is still obligated to resolve the issue.

So the final call: the Store again. After discussing Friendly DFT Lady’s advice, Store Guy agrees to provide a replacement. Huzzah!


Written by Richard

30 April, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Incredible Crepes

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Crepes are another weekend morning staple in the Ho household. Preparation is simple, but it does take some practice to make them consistent.

The original recipe came from Alton Brown. Alton is the host of Good Eats, an American cooking show that explains the science behind cooking – highly recommended for all you culinary engineers out there.


  1. 2 eggs
  2. ¾ cup milk
  3. ½ cup water
  4. 1 cup flour
  5. 45g melted butter


  1. Mix everything until smooth. Tap the mixing bowl on the benchtop to break up the bigger bubbles. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes, overnight in the fridge if you can wait that long. This will allow the air to rise out of the mixture.
  2. Heat up the pan on medium heat and coat with butter. Don’t forget to coat the sides – this is important for flipping. I like to use a 24cm pan as it is exactly the right size for 2 tablespoons of mixture.
  3. With a ladle, scoop up and pour mixture into pan. With a wide motion, cover 50% of the middle of the pan with mixture and then lift the pan vertically to spread the mixture around the pan. Don’t worry, it will stick to the pan and not make a mess. I like to use my 2-tablespoon ladle.
  4. When the top goes from moist-looking to dry-looking, it’s time to flip it over. Here’s how to flip crepes successfully:
    1. Shake the pan from side to side to loosen the crepe from the pan. If you coated the pan with butter before, this shouldn’t be a problem.
    2. Shake the crepe so that one side is touching on the edge of the pan furthest from you.
    3. Flip it! It is one quick circular motion, a bit like digging with a small shovel.
  5. Give it another 15 seconds or so and it will be done.


Written by Richard

23 April, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Posted in food

Fixing GHWT Cymbal Sensitivity Problems

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When Guitar Hero World Tour came out in the States, many people reported that their drumpads were either too sensitive (triggering more than one hit), or not sensitive enough (not detecting hits). Activision’s response was that the problems were limited to only one batch of drumkits, so I thought I would be safe (being in Australia). But I guess my faith in tech companies was misplaced. Silly me.

My kit had problems with the cymbals. They were the “not sensitive enough” category – in particular, the yellow cymbal, which, unfortunately, is the most used pad in the game. For a number of months I just lived with it, tweaking it unsuccessfully with the midi USB cable (which Activision will send out for free if you report the problem on their website). But inspired by Jason’s success, I thought I’d put in a bit of effort and find a more permanent solution.

Unlike Jason’s problem, my solder points were solid. I tried the tape-and-springy-cardboard fix suggested on PowerTunesPlus, since I wasn’t keen on permanently gluing the sensor down at first. For me, neither the tape nor cardboard made a difference.

I then took the plunge and tried the hot glue gun fix, also suggested by PowerTunesPlus. This worked great. I still had to tweak the sensitivity a little using the tuning software, but at least now it is around 99% accurate.

Here’s what the cymbal looks like with the back cover removed, and a close-up of my dodgy hot-glue gunning skills. My yellow cymbal needed two blobs of glue, whereas the orange cymbal only required one.

Now I can no longer blame the hardware for bad drumming.

If you decide to fix your cymbals, a word of warning: Don’t overtighten the screws! The screws screw directly into the rubber, so if you’re not careful you might end up seeing the pointy end of the screw poking out of the top of the cymbal …

Written by Richard

16 April, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Posted in tech

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Internet Scams via Instant Messaging

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It has been a while since I received a scam email (I love Gmail), but yesterday I received this one from the email address of an old work colleague I hadn’t seen in years:

From:        Mike (surname removed) <(email removed)@hotmail.com>


Date:        6 April 2009 12:40

Subject:    Hello

mailed-by:    hotmail.com


How are you doing? I am so sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling to UK to visit my ill cousin. I am presently in London with my ill cousin, whom is a student here. she was diagnosed with a critical uterine fibroid. xray and scan states that her condition is deteriorating because the fibroid has done a lot of damages to her abdominal area, and an emergency hysterectomy surgery must be carried-out to save her life. I am deeply sorry for not writing or calling you before leaving,I took first flight to london, the news of her illness arrived to me as an emergency and that she needs family support to keep her going. I had little time to prepare or even to inform people about my trip, I hope you understand my plight and pardon me.

I will like you to plz assist me with a soft loan, of £1500 urgently to sort-out my Cousin’s bills, the hospital manangement is demanding for a deposit of £1500 before they will implement the surgery, i am travelling with little money because I never expected things to be the way it is right now. What scares me the most is that she is going through a lot of pain at the moment and the doctors have adviced that, it is necessary that the tumour is operated soon to avoid anything from going wrong. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with, since i don’t know your financial status at the moment. I’ll pay back as soon as i return.

I’ll be pleased to hear from you soon regarding my request and also my phone is currently off please i will call you when am back,i couldn’t roam the phone to uk,There was no time for that,reach me back through this email ASAP……..

Best Regards


Even though it was signed Michael, it was obviously a scam email because of the poor grammar. Plus if he really wanted money, he would have contacted me directly. I just ignored the email.

However, today I was contacted via instant messenger from Mike’s instant messenger account! “Mike” said that he was still in the UK and whether I could help him out with the email he sent yesterday. Unfortunately I didn’t save the actual chat log, but it went something like this:

Mike: hello

Me: Hi Mike, still in the UK with your sick cousin? 😛

Mike: yes

Mike: still in uk

Mike: can you help me with the email i sent you yesterday

Me: Are you still at ERG? (this is where we worked before, but he doesn’t work there any more)

Mike: ok

Mike: can you help

Me: I don’t believe you are Mike. Where did we meet?

Mike: erg

Me: What else can you tell me?


Me: If you are really Mike, give me a call

Mike: from uk

Me: yes. This conversation is over.

Cheeky scammers. After that I deleted him from my contacts and contacted the real Mike via Facebook to let him know his account was compromised. All the more reason to:

Update: A few days after receiving the scam email and IM, I lodged a scam report to the ACCC via their ScamWatch website.  They contacted me via phone a few days after that, saying that there is nothing they can do as it is from an international scammer and out of their jurisdiction.  Comforting, eh?

Written by Richard

7 April, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Posted in tech