Archive for October, 2013

31 Oct 2013

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family



The kids love the Boo!  Jack-o-lantern. It is a staple every year at our house on Halloween. This is how last year’s version of the Jack-o-lantern looked.


For extra value, last year we had a second pumpkin and I stuck a kerosene soaked roll of toilet paper inside and set it alight – that was some fiery goodness.


Not to be outdone by a gourd, Brenda put on her bright orange fright wig and matching scary eyelashes:


Nice night, though, +8°C with at bit of wind at 7:00pm. The snow we got last weekend has melted away and it’s a nicer evening than last year’s Halloween.

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27 Oct 2013

Posted by under Book Review,Dave's Thoughts

Create and Connect

Godin_Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception: how high will you fly? by Seth Godin, 2012, Portfolio/Penguin (ISBN: 978-1-59184-607-9)

I know, Seth Godinagain. It’s not that I go out of my way, but with life being busy, Godin’s writing style is easy to pick up and put down. In the case of this book, this strength is also a weakness in that the content feels quite repetitive. About halfway through the 240 pages it felt like there were just too many repetitions of earlier content. Godin’s style seems to have a “sound bite” quality that, for me, made it difficult to stay focused on the slowly developing theme of the book.

The good news is that Godin’s theme does resonate. The essence of the book is that as we have transitioned from the mid-20th-century manufacturing economy through the knowledge economy and look towards a “connection” economy the skills and abilities that are needed to thrive have changed and continue to change. Comfort v Safety2The command and control work world, with it’s strict hierarchy of leaders over managers over workers, has had a defined safety zone (behave like this and you will have “success”). Naturally, people align their lives and behaviours to keep their personal comfort zone within that safety zone. The “safe” behaviours have emphasized staying within the fences of following the rules, waiting to be noticed, accepting “cost of living” wage increases – being a reliable cog in the industrial machine.

But, the safety zone has moved. My Dad worked for one company for 38 years and then retired with a great pension. I have had 14 different jobs since graduating university and no pension at all. My kids? Who can say? Clearly, though, they will need the ability to innovate, create, build relationships and find connections in order to find success. In Godin’s terms, this is art. Not painting or sculpting – art in the sense of seeing differently and creating something that connects with others.

I see this all the time in my work, improving processes for engineering or project management depends critically on being able to get into other people’s shoes and then to develop new or different ways of working that really address the issues that cause ineffectiveness and frustration. It isn’t strict technical competence that will be required tomorrow, but the ability to apply that competence in creative ways that connect, add value and build relationships.

As the industrial age peters out, as the growth fades away, the challenge is this: training creative, independent, and innovative artists. We can’t use the old tools, because resorting to obedience to teach passion just isn’t going to work.

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20 Oct 2013

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Geekstuff,Mr. FixIt

Click of Death

DSC06282When we developed the basement, back in 2007, we included a home theater with a big (for the time) flat screen TV. We did quite a bit of research on televisions, eventually buying a Samsung 46″ LCD TV for a bargain price (for the time) of somewhere around $2600. A lot of money, both then and now. Enough money that you might believe that you had purchased a high quality item that would provide many years of reliable service.

But, no.

After only about 3 years, we had some kind of problem with the TV accepting certain kind of inputs (I don’t recall exactly what anymore). Although the TV was (just) out of warranty, I called Samsung support to see if there was a fix available – new firmware or whatever. Of course, there wasn’t. That wasn’t too unexpected, but the support tech’s recommendation ended up being, “Your TV is 3 years old, you should probably think about just replacing it”. As if! I found a workaround and we just carried on.

Until about six months ago.

It started gradually, not too noticeable at first – the TV would delay, just a bit, before turning on. Then the delay became noticeable and sometimes a soft clicking sound could be heard, but the set would come on and life continued. Fast forward, a couple of months and the startup delay went from a few seconds to a few minutes; the wait punctuated with a series of clicks emanating from the bowels of the machinery. Finally, one day in late September, it wouldn’t start up at all. Just clicking and blackness. The Samsung Click of Death had claimed another pricey victim. After the earlier experience with Samsung support, I didn’t think they would be too much help, probably a good assumption as at one point while searching for a fix, a local Samsung repair center gave me a ballpark estimate to repair of $300-$400. A current 46″ TV is less than $800 – not a cost effective repair.

Turns out that a lot of Samsung flat panel TVs had been assembled with faulty and/or undersized capacitors on the power supply board between about 2004 and 2010. In fact, bad capacitors from Taiwan affected a lot of electronics from about 2002 onwards. Mark actually figured this out and found some You Tube videos describing the problem and outlining the solution. Quite a simple solution actually, if you can manage a soldering iron. So, I took the TV apart one Saturday and found 5 blown caps on the power supply board. Then the trouble started – it turned out to be very difficult to actually find capacitors for sale in Calgary; wherefore art thou, Radio Shack!? Well there is always the interwebs- I found a place in Texas that sells Samsung TV repair kits and placed my order.

After 3 short weeks (!), the kit arrived in the mail and I got to work. It was a bit more challenging than I though it would be, since my 25W soldering iron just didn’t have the oomph to melt the industrial-strength solder on the power supply board. I had to head out at 10:00pm to buy a bigger soldering iron. However I did get the caps replaced without any particular drama and, when I reassembled the TV, it turned right on without any hesitation.

Total cost of the fix was about $65, including $50 for the new soldering iron and it took about an hour or so to do the actual job (not counting the shopping trip).

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17 Oct 2013

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family,Geekstuff

50% Married

On the day Brenda and I got married in 1988, I was 25 years, 1 month and 27 days old.

Today is 25 years, 1 month and 27 days since our wedding day. I have been married for exactly one-half of my lifetime today!

… now don’t be acting all surprised at this post – I am the guy who has been working on the number plate game for 10 years.
(Well, since you asked, 804!)

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