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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips for travelling abroad

Here are a few tips that typically make a trip to a foreign country easier. This is not legal advice. Use common sense, do your research and follow all laws and requirements of countries you visit.

As soon as your are thinking about travelling:

1. Check your passport to see if it is valid and for how much longer it would be valid. Many countries do not let you enter if there is less than 6 months remaining on the validity of your passport.

2. Check if a visa is required to visit the country you would like to visit. If you already have a visa, check that it is valid for a sufficient amount of time for you to return from your trip. Also check for travel advisories for the country. There may be workers protesting, a natural disaster or even worse going on so beware of what is going on to keep yourself safe.

3. Check the condition of your luggage/suitcase. Bags and suitcases are flung around harshly while being loaded and unloaded. If you any signs of weakness which cannot be mended then get another suitcase. If the suitcase opens while being handled you have a good chance of losing your belongings since the workers may not have time to repack and transport it. Also attach a bright ribbon or sticker so you can identify it.

4. Consider how much foreign cash you plan to spend and how you can acquire it. Some foreign currency is very hard to get from banks and your may have to make several trips to get the amount of cash you want. You can avoid this issue by using your credit card or traveller's cheques during the trip.

5. If you will be using your T and T phone on your trip, double check with your provider if roaming is enabled. If you are staying more than a couple days and you will using your phone for calls then you should probably purchase a new SIM in the country you visit because it will probably work out cheaper that way instead of paying roaming rates. You can also use messenger apps like WhatsApp to make calls and send messages for free if you can connect to WiFi for free. Also check if your phone is capable of the type of network and frequencies used in the other country.

While travelling:

6. If you or someone you are travelling with gets motion sickness then take some medicine to treat it. It is cheap and would make the trip much more pleasant.

7. Write down the name, address and phone number of the person or place you are going to visit on a small piece of paper and keep it in your wallet. This will allow easy reference to the information when answering questions in immigration and be a life saver if you get lost on your visit.

8. Use your phone to take pictures of your luggage so you can identify it later on or can show it to the help desk if it gets lost.

9. Travelling is stressful for everyone. Expect long lines, cramped seats, loud people, and unplanned delays. You should know what keeps you calm so carry it along with you if possible. Pack some snack bars, a book, music, neck pillow, phone charger etc in carry-on luggage to try to have some comfort if things do not go as planned.

10. Pack an overnight kit with at least toiletries and underwear in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost or delayed. Do this especially for two conditions-
   i. If you are going to a place where you will be on your own and it will be challenging to get supplies very easily. If you are meeting friends or family at your destination they will know where you can get things easily or would have spare to give you, otherwise you may have to look around or perhaps you arrive at a late hour when things are closed.
   ii. If you have a connecting flight you may have a long wait inside the airport between connections or your luggage may be lost or delayed. You may be lucky to get to your hotel when you arrive but you would wish you had a change of underwear and a toothbrush.

11. Ask all the questions you think you need to. If you do not understand a form or signs then ask someone for help. Many people around you are in the same situation and are generally friendly and willing to help.



Topics:
How to feel comfortable while travelling
Tips to make going abroad easier
10 things to make a long trip less stressful

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kia Sorento power window not working

I had a problem with the power window switch on a Kia Sorento. This solution may work for any other car as well. Many problems can cause the symptom described below.

The window would work if I controlled it from the driver door but not from the button on the passenger door. The issue in my case was that the contacts for the switch were dirty and worked properly after being cleaned. The same problem may happen if a switch gets wet for any reason. After the car was retinted I had to open the switches to let them dry out because the cleaning liquid used to remove the old tint dripped into the switches.


The method to access the switch is similar for most cars. The piece of trim that the switch sits in can be popped out usually. Other pieces of trim may have to be taken out first like I had to do.


The switch assembly comes out of the trim. The driver switches are all on one assembly. A small flat head was used to pry the switch assembly off the trim. The switch has notches on all sides to keep it in place.


The switch is basically 3 layers. The screwdriver was used to carefully separate them. The top layer is a cover which is what you press and pull to control the window. The middle layer is mostly electronics. There are tiny parts involved so you should work on a large flat surface where any parts that fall can be found easily.


 The bottom layer has 2 contacts for the main power used to drive the window motor. Over time the contacts become dirty and no longer close.  In this particular switch the 2 thin flaps get pressed down to meet the round pads to close the circuit. Dust and dirt accumulates here as well as the contacts wear away over time.


I used a scrap cloth  and a flat head screwdriver to wipe the contacts clean. The parts were reassembled and the window is once again working properly. There are many other problem that can cause the same issue but this worked for me.

Topics:
Power window not going down
Cannot control automobile powered window from passenger door
Back seat left right window malfunctioning
Rear front power window switch dirty
How to clean switches on car door
Hyundai, mazda, nissan, toyota, honda, acura, ford power window not working

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to renew drivers permit

When I renewed my Trinidad and Tobago driver's permit the process was very simple:

1. Go to one of the licence offices and fill out the renewal form which is available at the counter. The offices are in:
Arima
Chaguanas - Ramsaran Street
Point Fortin
Port of Spain - Wrightson Road
Port of Spain - Western Main Road, St. James
Princes Town - Naparima Mayaro Road
San Fernando - Pleasantville
Sangre Grande
Tobago - Milford Road, Shaw Park

2. Go to the first counter to submit the form and confirm if you will be renewing for 5 years or 10 years. You surrender your old permit at this point to the clerk so you can take a picture of the back and front for personal records.

3. At a second counter, pay either $500ttd for 5 years or $1000ttd 10 years renewal at the cashier for your light motor vehicle class. Other classes have different prices and may include a medical fee to have your blood pressure and eyes tested. There is no advantage of choosing one or the other except the time span. Walk with cash since many times no other form of payment is possible and there may not be an ATM close by. If I owned a bank I would install one at each license office.

4. Wait to be called to have your picture taken and signature recorded. You will be asked to verify your permit information printed on a slip. Look at the spelling of each word carefully to be sure it is correct.

5. Wait for your new permit. Double check that all the information is correct before leaving.


Tips:
-  I would avoid the Wrightson Road and San Fernando offices because they are usually very busy. Also call the office before you go to confirm they are operating properly. Click here for phone numbers.
- Go at an off peak time like after 9.00am. There is usually a line first thing in the morning. Also do not go too late because some cashiers close early at noon, 2.00pm, 3.00pm etc.
- You are expected to be properly dressed when going to the office. Decent short pants to your knees and slippers may be allowed but no vests, caps and tank tops, strap tops etc, basically your shoulders should be covered. Avoid excessive makeup.
- Walk with cash because that may be the only accepted method to pay since linx and credit card machines may be out of order and cheques are not accepted and there may not be an ATM close by.
- Call before going to the office to verify they are open and the cashier's closing hours. An office may be closed due to an HSE issue, no water or electricity or workers are sick etc.
- The entire process actually takes 20 minutes assuming there are no lines.
- Parking for some offices are non existent so ask your friends about the area if you have never been there before.
- Carry a pen for your own convenience.


Topics:
How to renew your Trinidad and Tobago driver's permit
Process to get driving licence
Location of license offices
How long does it take to renew my licence
What is cost of driver's permit in Trinidad and Tobago

Friday, May 6, 2016

How to become a morning person

I recently changed the way I wake up in the morning and if I can do it I think anyone can. My goal was to have more time in the morning because I liked sleeping in and it seemed like I had a shorter day than other people.

In order to accomplish this I did the following:
1. Go to sleep on time.
I set a time that I would go to sleep by in order to get enough sleep to be fully charged the next day. This is a critical part of waking up early. You should not be lacking sleep when you wake up earlier, you are changing your waking hours and this starts from the day/night before. Also avoid caffeine or sugary drinks before going to sleep which might affect your sleep.

2. Wake up with the first alarm.
I used to press snooze on my alarm and take a few minutes more sleep then maybe press it a second time and sleep some more. This had to change and I now get off the bed as soon as the first alarm wakes me. This will seem difficult at first but is an essential part of changing your habit.

3. Put the alarm out of reach.
I forced myself to come out of bed to stop the alarm and this helps waking me. Moving after you wake up is a big step toward waking up. What works well for me is twisting side to side at my waist and rolling my shoulders forward and back.

4. Do this consistently for a month.
Part of changing a habit is being trained in the new routine. Your body will learn the routine and remember it. After this you would become accustomed and not want to press snooze anymore.

Topics
How to wake up early
How to become a morning person
Learn how to be an early riser
How not to be sleepy during the day
Train yourself not to sleep in late on mornings
I want to program myself to wake up on time and  not miss classes
How to avoid being late for work
Solved problems waking up in the morning

Monday, May 2, 2016

How to block unknown callers

I have heard many stories of people being harassed via calls to their cellphones. There may be some easy ways to stop this if the victim owns a smartphone.

Most people do not know the full potential of their own smart phones. The phones may have a built in option to block numbers whether they are known or unknown. The exact method to block a number would be different for each phone and version of operating system they run.

You may have the option to long press on a number in the call list and then get a popup asking if you want to block the number.

You may have to go into your settings and find an option for a 'blocked' list. Add the number you are avoiding to that list.

These may or may not allow you to block unknown numbers. Another option may be if you are able to whitelist specific numbers. This would only work if you have a short list you want to receive calls from.

Another option is to download an app that gives you the ability to block numbers. Do a search in your app store whether it is Android, Microsoft, Apple or anyone else and see what comes up as a popular app and has good reviews. You do not need a data plan for this as it can be done over WiFi. 

If this happens with your landline or you do not have a smartphone I suggest you report it to your provider (Tstt, Digicel etc.) and perhaps also the police. There is not much you can do to block calls on your landline.

If the calls persist or you still feel threatened then do not hesitate to make a report to the police. There may be little they can do according to the law but you need to do your part and report it.

Topics
How to stop harassing calls to my work nokia cellphone
Can I block unknown calls on my digicel samsung galaxy phone
I want to stop stalker from calling my bmobile tstt  iphone
App to block stalker calls to my personal home blu phone

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trinidad overlay on different cities

I wanted to see how the size of Trinidad compared to different cities around the world. This is purely an academic exercise and not meant to imply anything.

Trinidad overlay on Jamaica

Trinidad overlay on London

Trinidad overlay on Miami

Trinidad overlay on New York

Trinidad overlay on Toronto
Trinidad overlay on Abu Dhabi

Trinidad overlay on Canberra

Trinidad overlay on Caracas

Trinidad overlay on Tegucigalpa

Trinidad overlay on Malaysia

Trinidad overlay on New Delhi

Trinidad overlay on Paris

Trinidad overlay on Tokyo




Topics
 How big is Trinidad compared to New York City
Map overlay or Trinidad and Tobago on Toronto


Digicel DL755 and DL810 review

I recently got my hands on both of these and here are my thoughts.

Digicel DL755
Pros
- Android 5.0.1 Lollipop
- 8GB internal storage
- SD card slot
- Flash on camera (can be used as flashlight)
- Clear colourless silicone case included with phone
- Option to choose order of buttons back,home,preview or preview,home,back
- FM radio available with headset plugged in

Cons
- Very narrow viewing angle on screen (screen cannot be read easily if looking at it from any angle except directly ahead)
- Phone feels slow even though it has a 1.2Ghz dual core CPU it has a lot of lag and apps are slow to open.
- Calls were stable but the speaker and mic were low volume during calls.
- No update for OS yet
- Quadrant score of 4744

Digicel DL810
Pros
- Decent sized 1780mAh battery giving a long standby time
- 8GB internal storage 
- SD card slot
- Flash on camera (can be used as flashlight)
- Screen has a wide viewing angle and is responsive when touched
- Speakers loud and clear
- Android OS version 5.1
- Quadrant score of 9648 (double the score for DL755, higher is better)

Cons
- No case or screen protector included
- No OS updates yet
- Screen is not very sharp as it is 480x854 on a 4.5 inch screen.

Final words
If I had to choose between these phones I would choose the DL810 since it runs more smoothly, has a better screen, better camera and newer OS version. If you take a M or higher post paid plan it is definitely worth the $99 extra for the handset.

Topics
compare digicel dl755 and dl810
should I buy Digicel dl 755 dl810 phone
quadrant scores for digicel handset