Monday, June 30, 2014

Practical considerations for new home renovation

Going to renovate your new home before moving in?
Below are some practical tips for your consideration before you call your contractor to start the renovation work:-
  • Always make your home convenient for old folk, pregnant lady or disabled people, particularly on the design of steps, stairs, etc. Think about having proper handrails along staircase and in toilet. Use non-slip flooring materials especially in toilets and bedrooms.
Living Room:
  • You will need quite a number of wall sockets near your TV for all your audio-visual equipments.
  • If you plan to subscribe to satellite TV such as Astro, plan for the location of its dish and conceal a signal line from the dish to your TV.
  • If you have an apartment/condominium/studio unit with open kitchen concept, or you plan to have an open kitchen in your house, you need to plan properly to avoid cooking fumes from wide-spreading all over the place with its smell and grease. Some major considerations include proper external ventilation, installing a cooker hood with high air suction power, etc.
  • Normally, fire accident starts from the kitchen. Make sure your house has fire extinguisher, smoke detector and fire blanket placed nearby the kitchen.
  • If you are going to have an open kitchen, make sure your smoke detector will not easily give you false alarm from the kitchen's cooking fumes.
  • Without the isolation of walls and fire-resistant door, fire from open kitchen could spread faster and fiercer. To reduce the risk of fire, consider using electrical cooker instead of gas cooker.
  • Plan for the location and size of your washing machine, dish washer, etc. These machines need power supply as well as water inlet and drainage.
  • Dustbin that will conceal behind your kitchen cabinet might look cool, but beware of the smell. It is better to have ordinary dustbin with cover, located outside the cabinet.
Toilets and bathrooms:
  • Most of the time, we use shower much more often than bathtub. Shower saves more water than bathtub too. If your house does not come with a bathtub and you plan to install one in your bathroom, think carefully either it is a "need" or "want".
  • Most of the time, people with Jacuzzi in their home does not use it often too.
  • However, bathtub can be useful to soak and wash your bed sheets, curtains, etc.
  • Ceramic basin is a better choice than glass one. Dirt and stains are very visible on glass surface.
  • It is always a good idea to have ceiling fan on top of your dining table, and/or air-cond in your dining room.
  • Install water heater with built-in pump. It won't cost much more for the pump function, and you will appreciate it when water pressure is low.
  • If you want to have washlet toilet (electronic toilet seats with water spray feature) either now or in the future, make sure there is wall socket around to supply the electric power. 
  • If you want to have hot and cold water piping, include them in your renovation before you move in.
  • Install some hangs and hooks inside the bathroom. There is always clothes, towels, etc. that you need to hang.
  • New couples that plan to have kids, make sure to allocate some space in your master bedroom for baby cot beside your bed.
  • Dressing room with open wardrobe looks nice, but get prepared for the dust. Wardrobe with doors is more practical. Flipping doors are more durable than sliding doors.
  • It is better to have more wall sockets than having to pull power extensions later. Plan the position of your wall sockets properly. Some wall sockets might be wasted if you put big furniture and cover them up later.
  • Plan for all air-conds location, and conceal their piping.
  • Energy saving light bulbs are de-facto standard, and LED lighting could be an even better choice.
  • Buy an aluminium ladder and keep it in your store room. You will need it for house cleaning and maintenance, for example, cleaning ceiling fans, dismantling air-cond filters for washing, replacing light bulbs, etc.
  • Floor colour in living and dining halls should be light, and floor colour in kitchen should be deep. This will make your floors look cleaner.
  • Plan for as much storage place as possible. You need to have sufficient cabinets and cupboards in kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms, etc. There is always a lot of things to keep.
  • Crystal lights are beautiful, but difficult to clean. Most of the time, you won't switch them on too.
  • Bookcase, cupboard with doors can isolate dust from settling on your books and whatever thing you put inside.
  • Up-facing lamp shade will collect a lot of dust too, compared to traditional down-facing lamp shade.
  • Use black filler for floor tiles instead of white one, because after some times, the white filler will become black too.
  • It is a good idea to have a small cabinet on top of washing machine to put detergent and laundry accessories.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Headphone, speaker out and headset selection for Realtek combo audio jack on laptops

If you have a laptop that comes with a single 3.5mm combo audio jack that controlled by a Reaktek audio chip which supports the connection of headphone, speaker out or headset, you will probably see the following dialog box automatically popup when you plug your audio device into that 3.5mm combo audio jack.
Now, what is the difference among the 3 types of audio device that is supported by the combo audio jack?
  • Headphones - a.k.a. earphones, are pair of small speakers that are designed to be worn close to your ears. There are headphones that sit at your outer ears, and also in-ear type (a.k.a. in-ear monitors (IEM) or canalphones).
  • Headset - is a pair of headphones with attached microphone, normally used for voice chatting.
  • Speaker out - external speaker or sound bar, normally with sound amplifier.
If you find that your laptop's 3.5mm combo audio jack is not functioning, you might need to install the correct Realtek audio driver for the combo audio jack to work properly. The driver is normally preinstalled, and its installation file can be found either in the CD that comes together with the laptop or from the manufacturer's support website.
With the Realtek audio driver and software properly installed, you can use Realtek HD Audio Manager to configure your computer sound system.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Revive the gadgets functionality in Windows 8 / 8.1 with Windows Desktop Gadgets 2.0

Desktop gadgets was introduced in Windows 7 but removed from the subsequent Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

I find desktop gadgets functionality pretty useful and handy in monitoring statuses and activities such as real time CPU usage, GPU usage, memory usage, network usage, hard disk usage, temperature readings, etc.

If you miss the fun of having desktop gadgets in Windows 8 / 8.1, you can get back that functionality by installing a 3rd party software called Windows Desktop Gadgets Revivied 2.0.

When it is up and running, you will get back the Gadgets option in Windows Desktop context menu and the Desktop Gadgets setting section in Control Panel's Appearance and Personalization. It behaves very similar to the desktop gadgets functionality in Windows 7. With it, you can now install those gadgets designed for Windows 7 into your Windows 8 / 8.1.

Get back the Start Menu in MS Windows 8.1 with the free IObit Start Menu 8

Microsoft has removed the Start Menu since version 8 of the Windows operating system. The Start button at the bottom-left corner of the screen now acts as a toggle between Windows Desktop and the Metro UI interface.

If you are using MS Windows 8.1 and you miss the Start Menu in previous versions of MS Windows, you can get it back with 3rd party software.

I use IObit Start Menu 8 to achieve this, as it is free, and very easy to customize and use.

This is what you can get with IObit Start Menu 8 installed in Windows 8.1:

The appearance of Start Menu can be configured to use the Default Theme, Classic Windows 7 Theme, or the Windows 8 Theme.

You can also select your favourite Start Button, as it is configurable.

Similar to the Start Menu in Windows 7, you can customize how the links, icons and menus look and behave on this Start Menu.

With this, you can get back your user experience in using Windows operating system the same style as before.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 soccer match schedule

The FIFA World Cup Brazil has just started and will last for one month until 13 July 2014.

You can look up to the schedule of all its matches in this website:

The time shown on the webpage is Brazil local time. Just click on "change to your time" to switch it to your local time. Remember to adjust the date yourself because the date shown on the webpage will remain as the date in Brazil.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.