Archive for September, 2008

If it ain’t broke

29/09/2008

After working without any problems for many months now, my Apple router decided to stop working properly with my Windows XP laptop, refusing to let it onto the internet.

After making sure I was running the latest firmware on the both the Airport Extreme and Airport Express and reconfiguring things from scratch, things seemed to work again. The only thing that had changed, prior to that, was an upgrade to iTunes 8. Hmmm.

Now, however, music streamed from iTunes to the AirPort Express is cutting out occasionally. This used to happen when I first bought the AirPort Express – what fixed it was locking the Acer’s wifi settings to 802.11b. Doing this now, however, means that the AirPort Extreme then stops working again with the Acer – no internet access and no AirTunes.

My MacBook continues to work perfectly.

So, I now have the joyous task of isolating the cause of the AirTunes problem.

First step – lock the Acer to 802.11g.

Future steps, should the first step fail – try different firmware, test with wired connection from AirPort Express to AirPort Extreme, test a new network card in the Acer.

It was all working fine before and I don’t want to spend time fiddling!

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Eid it is

29/09/2008

Just heard on the radio that tomorrow will be the first day of Eid, so tomorrow, Tuesday, it is!

Eid it is

29/09/2008

Just heard on the radio that tomorrow will be the first day of Eid, so tomorrow, Tuesday, it is!

Eid Mubarak

29/09/2008

Eid Al Fitr may be tomorrow. Or it might be Wednesday.

In the past, dates for the beginning and end of Ramadan have always been unclear, due to the fact that the start of the month is based on the sighting of the moon. This year was a bit different – it was announced at least two weeks before that Ramadan would begin on September 1. For this reason, I had expected that the dates for Eid would be confirmed well in advance as well, but that hasn’t been the case.

Eid is still expected on Weds in the UAE, but due to announcements or expectations in Egypt and Saudi, it may be tomorrow. I’ll find out tomorrow morning if I have Tues and Weds off, or if it’s Weds and Thursday.

Mrs Saul was expecting to have Monday 30 to Thursday 2 off. That has stayed the same. On last Thursday evening, the ministry announced that Sunday 28 would be a holiday for schools as well. This late announcement was probably welcomed by pupils, but it did mean that it was too late for people to make use of the full holiday period. If this had been known earlier, I’m sure lots of people would have made use of the longer holiday period to go away for longer. It wasn’t much of a holiday for teachers – most seem to have used Sunday to rearrange all their lesson plans!

There seem to be two schools of thought in the Islamic world, as far as I can see. One group prefer the traditional option of actually being able to see the new moon with the naked eye. The other prefer to use scientific methods to predict a new moon.

Coming from a culture where we are used to knowing the dates of holidays and other events well in advance, I would prefer the latter for its convenience. I can understand the preference for the traditional approach though.

Yucky beaches

28/09/2008

Dubai and Fujeirah’s beaches seem to be taking a pounding at the moment.

We went to Snoopy Island on the East coast on Friday, only to find the seabed extremely oily – my flippers and feet were covered with sticky crude. The normally clear waters were very cloudy, making for disappointing snorkelling. I’m not sure if the cloudy water was linked to recent oil spillages or not, but the whole visit was a disappointment. The oil is caused by tankers illegally sluicing their tanks offshore, to avoid having to pay for proper cleaning at Fujeirah port – at least that’s what I understand is the problem.

Back on the Dubai side of things, raw sewage has been dumped into storm drains and has washed back ashore, putting beaches off limits.

I feel sorry for the tanker drivers who have to wait for hours to drop their ‘cargo’ off at the sewage treatment plant, but dumping sewage into the sea? Idiots. Someone’s going to get in real trouble for this…

Sadly, this means that a dip in the sea won’t be an option for thousands of people during the Eid break.

Shark fight!

27/09/2008

A bit more info here on the mall opening up next to us.
I still feel odd saying ‘mall’, but the British English ‘shopping centre’ just doesn’t summon up the right mental image. This just isn’t a Tesco metro, one pound shop and a fried chicken place, with obligatory predatory teens on BMX bikes being menacing…

Mega mega mall

27/09/2008

This beige shopping behemoth is supposedly due to open in October 30, about 15 minutes’ walk away from where we live.
On the one hand, it’ll be great to have all this stuff nearby. On the other, I’m a bit concerned about traffic. Given that our building’s promised ‘ample visitors’ parking’ is already so full that visitors in the evening are having trouble finding somewhere to leave the car, I don’t really believe that this new mall will have enough road access and parking places.
I foresee us sitting for hours trying to get in and out of our development. I’m happy to be proved wrong on this one, but past experience suggests the developers will completely undersize road access and parking requirements.
Fingers crossed that they’ve looked at all the other places where things have gone wrong and have made the right decisions this time around.

Madame check – ultimate quality control

25/09/2008

Two simple words, that mean so much – ‘Madame check’.
Yesterday the workmen had finished repairing various bits and pieces. I said that I wanted to wait before signing some things off as I wanted my wife to look at what had been done.
At first, the head painter looked a bit confused – why would I want to wait, if it looked ok now? Then he grinned at me in complete understanding and said ‘Ah yes sir – Madame check!’.
Important decisions I have to make, particularly house related, all have to be submitted to ‘madame check’. It would probably save husbands a lot of time if certain products and services came madame check approved.
Only yesterday, a madame check returned a negative rating after I failed to clean the kitchen hob properly.

Camouflage at work

25/09/2008

My father has a great picture up today on his photo blog.
Go here.
I couldn’t see the parrot until I enlarged the photo – once I’d spotted it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it first time.
I will have to accept that I will never be able to get a job poring over satellite photos looking for WMDs.
It’s quite strange seeing these parrots flying around Richmond.

Too much fixing fixing

22/09/2008

Thanks goodness for Sun’s work from home programme. Goodness knows how Dubai residents with ‘normal’ jobs manage to get any work done.
Yesterday the workmen were in to do a number of jobs.
Fix ceiling that had to ripped open to remove water heater –
Noone even looked at this and by the time I’d got a straight answer as to who was doing what, the job had been shifted shifted to today morning for doing the same. The guys are allegedly working on it now. If I hadn’t rung up and got cross, goodness know whether anyone would have turned up today to do anything.
Paint cracks on bedroom wall –
Two nice men turned up and painted the wall a different colour, leaving white flecks showing through. They are back in today fixing fixing so that colour is same same and white flecks no is.
Fix water heater and access hatch –
The fixed water heater wasn’t hotting, so a man came to fix it so that it would hot. He claimed it was fixed and left. I then took a shower and realised it still wasn’t hotting. They’re back in today to make it hotting properly. Sadly the access hatch being replaced has to be kept its original size – this means that if the water heater needs removing again in future, they will have to rip the ceiling down yet again. I have asked the developer why they can’t make the access hatches large enough to allow for common parts to be removed without taking most of the ceiling with them. Apparently this cannot be done, as it is ‘a design issue’. This is a special catch-all used to describe idiotic workmanship that the developer can’t be bothered to rectify themselves.
They did kindly inform me that I can avail of this fixing service at my own cost, which was nice of them.
Fix plug in bath not draining properly –
This turned out to be the comedy moment of the day. My favourite sub-sub-contractor Raju turned up to fixing fixing this. After a few minutes clunking around in the bathroom he told me he was finish. Alert to his wily ways, I decided to do some testing testing before signing signing. The look on his face as the water drained out of the supposedly fixed plug even faster than before was priceless. To my astonishment, despite the visual evidence, he simply smiled at me and asked me to sign the completion form.
I refused, he spent another ten minutes and fixed it. Why he thought I’d accept something he’d make worse is beyond me.
Water patch on living room ceiling –
Raju looked at this yesterday and disappeared. Daljit looked at it today and told me it was dust. After explaining it to William, who is very helpful, proper investigation will be done. There are no pipes in that part of the ceiling, but the patch looks exactly like the patches that formed when it last rained. These leaks were allegedly fixed – I suspect that at the time, Daljit, for it was he, simply painted over the water patches and claimed it was fixed, having made no effort to investigate whether the roof above was properly waterproofed or not.
Reseating and repainting light fittings –
When a transformer in one of the four dining room spotlights failed, the light fitting had to be removed in order for it to be replaced. As the fittings had been painted over, this involved ripping flakes of paint off. I asked for this fitting to be repainted and for the others to be removed, cleaned, painted and reseated properly so that they can be removed without damaging the ceiling, should this be needed in future. Apparently the one damaged fitting can be repainted, but the other can’t as…. they are not damaged. This is being negotiated.
Currently the flat is filled with the sound of drilling drilling, fixing fixing and painting painting.
Let’s see where we are after today’s work is finished. Goodness knows what’s going to happen when the warranty expires on October 6.
I love living here – the development is beautiful and the apartment is lovely. I just wish that those involved in its construction and maintenance could realise that doing things properly the first time around would save them an enormous amount of money and hassle later on.