Thursday, October 15, 2009

the dangers of outsourcing

i've been in my new job for 3.5 months. Been to much data centres, and find that the ones that give somewhat bigger problems are managed by internal outsourced teams. 2 cases that i see:

- a well known household brand locally until it was absorbed into another financial institution in 1998. A not-so critical clustered logical partition failed with data corruption. The joke - sysadmin specialists requesting software support to recover a crashed OS, when they support their own software requests. Next joke - the backup was undated, and there were multiple ones. Next joke - the boot disk started to fail 4 months ago, and was only partially mirrored.

oh yes, the clustered system failed to work. High availability... indeed.

- a tyre brand. Server is in a particular off-site location, principally managed by a Blue team in China, co-managed by a local team. The local member asked for technical support insisting we go on site to look at a server that is down. Yes, down (lightning strikes). So we went on site but nobody was at the location. He was sitting nicely at Changi, happily acting as a middleman between me and the Chinese engineer using his phone. He was clueless as to what happened, saying "i'm not sure, i don't know" and kept asking his Chinese counterpart to call me all the time. The Chinese guy thought i'm part of his Singapore local team when i'm from maintenance, asking me to do things that i'm not authorised to do.

why the hell these sysadmin are employed for? What are the data protection policies for? If they are doing a lousy job for too long, it's time for the managers to take action and tell them to go.

on a more positive note, i have praises for...

- a well known electronics company based in Japan, you'd always pay a premium for their products. The server rooms are well furnished and managed. The staff are always seen using only products from the company, such as their monitors and laptops. When there's a disk failure, the sysadmin will do the necessary to move out all the data from the disk without any intervention on our part. The boot disks are always properly mirrored with another.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

secrets of Marsiling

i'm a happy resident of this little corner just beside the causeway for 13 years. When i was in secondary school, our PE teachers will bring us for a 2.4km run which starts from Marsiling Lane towards the road just opposite JB and back using Admiralty Road.

was reading up on Marsiling shrine, soon read about Marsiling dungeon and a possible network of bunkers from that lonely road facing JB to the area where SAF Yacht Club is. That's a huge network if it exists(ed)!

here are some postings made by medi in a forum, roughly 5 years ago...

Anyway to cut the story short, i wish to share with u in-depth of this mysterious Marsiling Dungeon that few people knew abt. Only those that lives in Marsiling and did some serious exploring of the forested area near the old Custom might knew it.

This thread might be a little long so bear with me ya!!

This happened when i was still studying in primary school. Since young, i've always toyed with the idea of adventurous explores... There is this stretch of road which faces directly opposite JB. Towards the end of the road, on the right hand side, lies this bunker-like structure. When I was young, my dad always droved past that stretch of road and I never fail to see taoist priests doing rituals at the 'bunker'. I decided to explore that place together with my void deck buddies...

The 'bunker' has 3 compartments.. the 1st one is very eerie,dark and seem to hide a passage within. The 2nd and 3rd one lies the opening of coffins.. I had absolutely no idea why the coffins are wasn't exactly coffins lying inside the compartment, but rather the 'End-View' of a coffin on the wall inside... the 2rd and 3rd compartments were visible from outside, so it wasn't that hard spotting..Though I found Guan Yin statues and some pray offerings thats left behind for a long time.. The 1st compartment is the interesting one... We went inside and boy was it dead silence... We can only hear water dripping..and its very clear..there were bats flying out too... then we slowy penetrated deeper and found a rectangular door lying flat on the wet ground... We suspected that was the coffin(but still cannot find a reason why coffins were there in the 1st place). There were 2 handles at both ends of the door. One of my buddies tried to open the door but it was really heavy...He only lifted half-way and all of us dun even freaking dared to look inside... The air suddenly turned really dead COLD and we began to have goose pimples, all of us... Felt something is amiss, so we fled...U know lah, when young, all scrammed and run for the exit, like there is no tommorow!


All of us didn't dare to even talk abt the spooky experience after that...Then we gradually went on to sec. sch... I wasn't that satisfied with the exploration and got together the same old buddies during the last expedition. We began to explore that place a bit and found out that there was this 4 buildings that looked like its for storage purposes.. It has got the British style in it. So i gathered those could be built by the british army during the colonial days... As usual, the 4 buildings were abandoned, nothing inside... but traces of condoms can be found (that was the 1st time i ever saw a condom!) and some ritual offerings, most likely to do with Satanism.. The reason was becoz we found really serious drawings of the pentagram and other satanic words...It seemed like we came to a dead end.... Until we chanced upon this uncle, believed to be in his 70s...jogging by the road.. He looked at us in a bewildered manner.. Later we had a small chat with that uncle. he told us the forest wasn't 'clean'. The offerings we found at the 'bunker' was to appease the spirits thats been disturbing the kampung people living in the Marsiling Area ( Thats the early 80s, there were still kampungs in Marsiling near the SHELL refinery there ) That gave us a head-start....

We were armed with only lighters( smokers that time ,so young smoke liao siah ) and began further exploration of the jungle. We found the remains of a normal kampung area, with bird cages... podiums.. and some parts of zinc roof. We didn't find anything unusual, kept on walking and walking...and were worried that we might lose our way back... Time wasn't on our side, becoz its already 6 plus and the sun was slowly setting down.. Then..suddenly I saw this trench on the right hand side of the hill and was quite curious abt it.. We followed this trench and to our freaking astonishment of our lifetime, We found this myserious bunker that was builded under a very big tree... its hard to explain how the whold thing looked like, but it was enuff to scare the lights out of us...

Its really eerie and the roots of the tree gradually blocked the gate of the concrete bunker.. The gate was seriously corroded and it was easy to gain access to it.. But we decided not was almost night time and we decided to head home... All of us had a hard time sleeping well for weeks, becoz of the image we saw inside the jungle...

Years passed by ,and i found out from the same group of friends that they actually went inside..and it was like going deeper like 100m...and there was many entrance, like a maze.. But they couldn't continue deeper... the tunnel was being covered up.. by concrete bricks.. Some of us heard that people saw bones...skulls inside...but dunno if its true or not....

The government had tried hard to erase any traces of the WWII remnants, including demolishing the infamous 'japanese gate' in the beginning of the road...and also sealed up the 'bunker' at the side of the road, with iron grilles.. But I seriously dun think the authorities knew abt the 'tree dungeon' that was situated deep in the jungle...

The last time i went there, around 4 mths ago....the forest grewed and covered up the bunker near the road. Unless u know the exact location, u wouldn't have realised its there.. As for the 'Tree Dungeon', I myself also forgotten the path...went there to search for it..but cannot find... its been over a decade and memories had faded...

Ok guys...thanks for bearing with me... Just wanna reveal the secrets of the marsiling jungle..Becoz nobody had NEVER talk abt it...all those red/blue/white/purple/rainbow houses, OCH...very 'commercialised' ...but not this 2 eerie places that I spoke abt...

Also hope that if there is anyone who knew abt this dungeons, maybe shed some light on it ( U gotta be a resident of Marsiling b4 to even know this! )


hey my friend.. I had revealed abt why the coffins were there.. It might not be a real coffin..but maybe duplicates of them, to appease the spirits and give them a home.. I went inside the compartment and found no coffins..only a door thats d**n heavy and most likely a passage-walk down......

One thing i found out too... from a most unlikely person.. Vietnamese refugee..! In the past, there was this Vietnamese Refugee camp, called 'Hawkins Camp', situated along the old Admiralty road... This vietnamese guy told me that he actually squeezed his way through the tunnel and come out of the 'bunker'.. from Sembawang!...i was impressed and told him can he demonstrate..but he wasn't that willing lah...haha



there is one heritage trail site named rotterdam gate that is located at the road mentioned above. is it the japanese gate where it stands opposite to another gate? there is a very very big and old tree beside rotterdam gate and a steel roof hut is located beside the gate. a shell refinery can be located up the slope. is that the location you are fascinated with?

that place is indeed mysterious.

i was there with my teammates 2 yrs ago on a heritage trail project and we were to find and do a report on rotterdam gate. we somehow or another located that gate on the road that is directly opposite johor bahru. that stretch of road hardly has cars passing through it. we decided to explore that stretch of road. we didn't go further, but we have seen quite a few things.

start from the gate itself. it stands opposite to another gate which is literally devoured by weeds. it is inaccessible above the point. the house that stands beside rotterdam gate is quite mysterious. we were wondering why was it there in the first place. check it out.

as we move along the road starting from rotterdam gate, we found lots of buddha statues. this raised lots of queries. initially, the trees grew so thick that we couldn't see what lies behind the undergrowth. but then we could see some rundown fence and some giant pipes above that cover. as we move more we found a path leading right into the jungle. we stopped and took a look at it. it was a house. a house with bloodstains on it. nice discovery. we didn't make it into the house though. thought we would be trespassing, so we backed off. and we didn't go beyond that part of the road.

we didn't find out about the house with bloodstains nor the statues nor the gate or house. are they somehow related to the bunkers in sembawang?

remember that the japs landed on northeast side and marched the causeway to singapore. battles took place on the coast. anything to do with this?

i am simply glad to find someone that explored that stretch of road. i heard that it leads to sembawang naval base. wonder if answers can be found...


anyway, i have bring this up to my encik b4...he use to live in SBW during the kampung days.

he said that the underground british bunker have been closed in many parts...esp since the development of Sembawang New Town thus doubt that people can now travel underground from Marsiling to Sembawang.

i understand from him that the bunker could be very huge in size, since he mentioned that it is also accessible from ottawa road( behind sembawang CC). My other seniors told me sembawang pk can access.

u pple say Marsiling can its indeed a huge huge system.

BUT, Ottawa road access is not available anymore due to the buildings there...and that place is rather heavily guarded and patrol by the Army and Police frequently thus i recommend no exploration and photo taking there... else sure will get into trouble.

there's a pictorial post on another person's blog.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

car audio saga

about half a year ago i went to upgrade the car audio system at AE. Changed the component speakers and then added an amplifier in 2 stages.

then recently, the right front speaker started to sound coarse and static. Initially it was when turning a sharp or wide left, all the sound will 'flow' to the left. Now even bumps and holes on the road can reproduce the problem.

brought it to the shop, they were quite nice to look at the problem for free. But they couldn't isolate the problem, and told me it might be the HU. Maybe a possibility, or maybe a sales pitch to upgrade my HU?

looked for some resources on the net, such as the audio connector diagram and steps to dismantle the right dashboard. Today's weather was almost perfect for the task...

The bottom panel below steering wheel

Bottom and top panel out

HU/aircon control panel out

The audio connector

the connector is strange. It's the original connector from the old Alpine HU, but the new wires from the amplifier are spliced into the connector. So prepared the tools and redid the particular pair of wires that lead to the front right speaker.


... there were some small problems too:

- 1 screw that secures the HU rack to the dashboard chassis is missing

- 1 clip that does the above was lying around (didn't know that clip's purpose until today)

- the whole HU wasn't properly secured as a result. Quite poor workmanship...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

door visor saga

end of august, i got a set of door visors from a person in the Civic forums. I'm a sucker for 2nd hand items, since i've gotten so many stuff as the 1st owner - the value drops incredibly upon handing over the cash.

The "normal" visors

Both 3M tapes, but the left is 10 metres at $10.
The right costs $9.50 and is only 1.5 metres.

the visors came from Kah Motor, probably thrown in free when he bought the car. Price was quite alright at $30, except for the mess of old tape that he didn't remove. Plus scratches that you normally see on plastic and acrylic surfaces. So got a bottle of Meguiars PlastX to do some touch up.

the sticky problem is actually getting the best tape to stick it onto the door frame. Got a roll of 3M black foam tape from a home-based automotive trader at $10, which offers 10 good metres of tape. Then waited for my car wash day to mount the visors up.

after a while, i came to conclude

- the 3M tape holds well
- the purple tint of the visor looks oldie and headache to me
- the Mugen visors look better in terms of design and tint. Design is gapless between the front and back doors, more stylish and tint is similar to sunglasses.

Notice the differences??

so spent another $40 on a pre-owned set of Mugen replica visors. The real deal will cost me $200 brand new, so it's definitely more worthwhile to get the $40 ones. At least i can use the bottle of PlastX to touch it up, and i already have the tape. I don't get any additional ego with spending extra, so replica is not an issue.

installed it, another problem - the 3M tape couldn't hold the front passenger and driver ones well, because i flexed it to stick strictly along the contours of the door frame. Obviously this can cause it to snap off and become a flying saucer on the expressway, so took them down and used a better 3M tape and less forced flex.

so far, so good. The last problem is that it's a replica, so there are minor cosmetic differences such as absence of clips, holes and of course the Mugen badge. Ah well, heck.