Tuesday, June 29, 2010

26/06/2010 - Rectifications

Because of certain people's distinct lack of attention to detail, if you want things done right, you have to do it yourself! Yes, I am pedantic and I don't care what anyone thinks about this. Over the weekend, I began sorting out the issues with the car that had manifested after the hail repairs. So, first thing on the agenda - my malfunctioning reverse sensors. I sought advice from Nissan and Dan (c2888) and they confirmed that the orientation of each sensor unit is important, otherwise it will incorrectly detect objects. So with the help of Dan, we set out to fix this issue.

From the images above, you can see that the sensor has two ribs protruding along its length. When the sensor is mounted into the rear bumper, one rib must be facing up and the other facing the ground. The repairer had put the sensors back into the bumper the wrong way, causing it to detect objects along a vertical plane. It was then detecting the ground and constantly beeping. So we rotated the sensors 90 degrees and all is good again.

Next up, the power windows. After the car was put back together, the power windows were behaving seemingly erratically. When the switch was pulled up to raise the window, it would move up about 1 cm and then go down again. You would then have to hold the switch up in order to raise the window, the auto-up was not working. According to the service manual, the limits of the window motors had to be reset.

The door trim had to be removed. Then the reset switch on the window motor could be accessed through a hole in the module assembly (as indicated by the arrow above).

The reset procedure is as follows:
  1. With the door open, lift up and hold the power window switch until the door glass is fully closed.
  2. Get inside the vehicle and close the door. You need to close the door so the door switch is fully depressed.
  3. Press and hold the reset switch. While holding the reset switch, press down and hold the power window switch until the door glass is fully opened.
  4. Release the reset switch.Then, lift up and hold the power window switch until the door glass is fully closed.
  5. Open the door to release the door switch. The door glass should partially move down.
* Do not use the window auto function.
* Do not release the switch before the window is fully stopped.

With daylight waning, I addressed one more issue and called it a day. The bonnet was not held down tightly by the latch when closed. There was enough slack for the bonnet to lift by a couple of millimetres. I found that the latch had not been attached as it was from factory. It was a couple of millimetres too high, as evident by the now visible clean section of metal that used to be covered by the bolts. So by repositioning the latch, the bonnet is now held down tightly with no slack or gap between the rubber seal and front bumper. The sound of the latch releasing the bonnet is also now back to normal.

Now all that remains to be done is to seek a replacement piece of foam for behind the front bumper from the repairer.

A big thanks to Dan for all his help and thanks for reading.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The watering hole

In their natural habitat...

Photo by my friend Shaun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hail damage saga, more delays, conclusion (sort of)

Continuing on from this previous post, more waiting was required...

4th June 2010
I called up for an update as it was two weeks since I last spoke to the repairer. He said that painting was going to commence on the car that day and that they were aiming for all work to be completed by the middle of the following week.

9th June 2010
"The middle of the following week" arrived so I called up again for an update. The body of the car had been painted, but the bumpers still remained to be painted and reassembly of all dismantled parts was required. Still "plenty of work to do" according to the repairer. *sigh* I said I would call back again on Wednesday the following week.

16th June 2010
Wednesday - called for an update - everything was painted but all parts were still not fitted to the car. The repairer wouldn't commit to it being ready on Friday and asked me to call again the next day.

17th June 2010
Everything except the windscreen has been fitted back on to the car. They were expecting the windscreen installation person to come in on Friday the 18th, but there were no guarantees due to their workload due to "all the hail damaged cars". The repairer indicated that the windscreen person would be in by Monday the 21st and I should be able to collect the car on Tuesday afternoon after the glue on the windscreen had set. So Tuesday the 22nd of June was the plan.

21st June 2010
I called up expecting more delays, but to my surprise I'm told that the car is all done. All that remains is a clean. So I made arrangements to pick up the car the next day.

22nd June 2010
I went to pick up the car. Overall, I'm happy with it however there are little things that I'm not happy with. My fears of leaving my car in the care of others have inevitably been realised. When you let someone dismantle parts of your car, it will never be the same again when it is reassembled.

So, my assessment...

Dent repairs - 10/10
Paint finish - 8/10
Fitment of parts - 9/10
Attention to detail - 7/10
Service - 8/10

I had to take points off for the paint because there were some specks in it that looked like trapped dust. The front bumper could have been sanded back better as some chips are still visible despite it being fully resprayed. I deducted a point for fitment because the bonnet does not sit on the front bumper with their edges perfectly aligned. Attention to detail is the most lacking in this instance. The spoiler has some scratches and a chip on the corners where they have rested it on the ground without any cushioning. The reverse sensors are malfunctioning and the passenger power window does not behave as it used to. Service-wise, I found that communication could have been better although to their credit they did not make any promises with regard to the progress of the repairs that they could not keep. They are also going to address the electrical issues with the reverse sensors, window and headlight washers; so let's see how that goes...

The cost to me...
Time without car - 43 days - that's 6 weeks or 11.78% of a year!
Mental turmoil - Ongoing.
Hatred for nature - Eternal.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Computer user stereotypes

As a programmer, my job also entails supporting many users of the software we create. I respond to support requests relating to the software, as well as internal requests for general help with computers and other IT related matters. It can become extremely frustrating when the same questions are asked over and over. In the time that I have dealt with support requests, I have been able to identify common traits in computer user behaviour and compiled a list of categories - this is my perspective.

A. The learner
This is my favourite kind of user - one who requests support only after they have first tried everything they can. The learner is also inquisitive and asks questions that help them expand their knowledge about the software or computers so that they can apply the new knowledge gained in a more generic sense in multiple scenarios. Learners are also proactive and often help to stem the wave of support requests from B's, C's, D's, F's and G's by helping them before they contact me. Sometimes, the learner is also a G, but this can be forgiven because they learn to check their notes/help documents before asking again.

B. The always innocent
These are cunning users, everything they say about an issue must be questioned before being believed. They will often provide very little information and just say that something is not functioning correctly. When asked what steps they took to encounter the issue and it is found they made a mistake, they will feign innocence, become defensive and make a multitude of excuses including:
* Not being told about it before
* The documentation not being adequate
* The process being confusing
"Innocents" are often also C's, D's and G's.

C. The accuser
There are very few accusers (from my experience), but they do exist. Accusers will play the lawsuit card and they will play it very quickly, practically immaturely. They will threaten to sue your company because the software they bought from you "isn't working". These threats are mostly likely empty and are made in an attempt to exert some dominance because they think the customer is always right. After some further discussion and being shown what they need to do to overcome their issue, accusers will then back off rather sheepishly. Accusers can also be B's, D's and G's.

D. The one who finds it too difficult
The typical attitude of D's is "this issue is software/computer related, therefore it's not my problem and I don't need to attempt to overcome it myself." They will immediately approach you with their problem as soon as they encounter it. Also, because I'm a programmer, they assume I am the IT support department and can answer every IT related question under the sun. That's like assuming that all Arabs are terrorists and know how to construct a bomb. D's can also be B's, C's and G's.

E. The one who will never understand
These users can be annoying and a source of extreme frustration, but cannot be blamed entirely. Despite their best efforts to understand how overcome their issue, they will never "get it". A support call with an E often starts of with me attempting to give them step by step instructions, which they will fail to be able to comprehend or follow. After an alternative process is spelled out to them, E's will still fail to understand. From this point, I have no option but to end the interaction by asking them to seek the help of one of their colleagues.

F. The dangerous
F users are those that know the basic concepts about computers and software. What makes them dangerous is that they will call me for support, explain their issue and then preempt my response by suggesting "possible" causes or solutions that are unrelated or irrelevant. Not only is this a huge waste of time for both of us, it might also detract from them actually comprehending what I have to say because they are so self absorbed in their "solution". Dangerous users can also be quick to take action when I am giving them instructions, they might perform extra steps that are actually detrimental to the chance of a successful outcome. Dangerous users can also be B's, C's, D's and G's.

G. The illiterate
Illiterates are one of the worst. They seem to lack the ability to read anything, whether it be a pop-up message or written instructions. If a confirmation message window appears, they will click OK without reading. If written instructions are supplied, they will conveniently not notice or claim they did not receive them. As illiterates are quite common, they are often also A's, B's, C's, D's and F's.

Here is a Venn style diagram of how I think the above user groups are structured.

Please let me know if you think there are any user stereotypes that I have missed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Silver Streak

This is an art piece by David Mach - a statue of a gorilla made of coat hangers.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Saturday, June 5, 2010


My manager showed me this great tool for making UI mockups today.  It's called Balsamiq and is available as both a web and desktop application.

More information on Balsamiq can be found here: http://www.balsamiq.com/products/mockups