Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Unique and beautiful tree in Kota Belud

On your way up north to Kota Belud (the town of the 'Eastern Cowboys'), look out for a big but not-so-tall rain forest tree by the road side as you approach Kg Kelawat.

The locals have stories to tell about this tree but we couldn't confirm or verify if they are legend, myth or just a bedtime story. The umbrella-shape tree was captured by a niece of mine who stays not far away from this tree and I have the permission to publish the pics.

Looks green; unfortunately those leaves don't belong to the tree. They are parasites.

Sense of size? Maybe she should be standing next to the tree

Happy Labour Day from TheGreenMechanics. That'd be tomorrow.

Champions League semi-final result: Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid

The first leg of this semi-final at Santiago Bernabeu ended 1 - 0 to the advantage of Real Madrid, with Karim Benzema scoring the solitary goal.

In this second leg, Bayern Munich play host to Real Madrid in the mouth watering encounter at Allianz Arena, Germany. Bayern Munich, who must beat Real Madrid if they are to reach the final, have never lost a home match against the Spanish side. But I'm hoping Real would get the result this time around!

Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben will face off against Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Image & statistics courtesy of WhoScored

Date: 29th April 2014, Time: 2.45am Hongkong/Malaysia time. Live on Astro Super Sport

Half-time result: 

Bayern Munich ( 0 ) - ( 3 ) Real Madrid

Full-time result: 

Bayern Munich ( 0 ) - ( 4 ) Real Madrid

: :     : :     : :     : :     : :     : :

Aggregate: Real Madrid ( 5 ) - ( 0 ) Bayern Munich

Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos both scored twice to destroy Bayern Munich on their way to the final. Real will meet the winner of the other semi-final between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top 10 U.S. utilities that added most amount of solar capacity in 2013

Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has come up with its latest utility solar report, which ranks the utility companies in the country that added the most amount of solar capacity in 2013.

In the U.S., California is in front with more than 5.5 GW of solar capacity installed so far. Image: REW

The top 10 utilities accounted for 82% of all integrated solar capacity in that year. Additional report findings show that 4.2 GW of solar capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2013, bringing total cumulative capacity to more than 10.5 GW.

“Large scale installations dominated the landscape and represented well over 50 percent of the capacity installed in 2013. The increase in percentage dominance among the top 10 utilities is not indicative of those beyond the top 10 slowing down, but is instead a sign that top ranking utilities are building more on a large scale."
- Eran Mahrer, SEPA VP of Research and Strategy

Top 10 Utilities by installation (MW)

  1. Pacific Gas & Electric (CA) - 1471 MW
  2. San Diego Gas & Electric (CA) - 643 MW
  3. Arizona Public Service (AZ) - 417 MW
  4. Southern California Edison (CA) - 373 MW
  5. Duke Energy Progress (NC, SC) - 137 MW
  6. National Grid (MA, RI) - 111 MW
  7. Public Service Electric & Gas (NJ) - 103 MW
  8. Hawaiian Electric (HI) - 98 MW
  9. Georgia Power (GA) - 59 MW
  10. Duke Energy Carolinas (NC, SC) - 58 MW

Watts per customer

The watts-per-customer rankings calculate the number of customers served in relation to a utility’s installed solar capacity. What this does is that it levels the playing field and enables an across-the-board comparison between utilities.

Top 10 Utilities by Watts-Per-Customer

  1. Sterling Municipal Light (MA) 831 W
  2. San Diego Gas & Electric (CA) 461 W
  3. Silicon Valley Power/City of Santa Clara (CA) 427 W
  4. Arizona Public Service (AZ) 368 W
  5. Hawaiian Electric Company (HI) 329 W
  6. Pacific Gas & Electric (CA) 281 W
  7. Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HI) 182 W
  8. Maui Electric Company Ltd. (HI) 178 W
  9. Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (HI) 167 W
  10. Imperial Irrigation District (CA) 159 W
You can read further at REW

TheGreenMechanics: In comparison, Malaysia's solar PV cumulative installed capacity so far is only at 109 MW (Source: SEDA portal, April 2014). But we have plan in place and we are optimistic that we will become one of the top Renewable Energy nations in South East Asia in time to come.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

No end to the kidnappings since 1998

This statistics would be enough to scare a lot of people - the tourists, investors, the genuine citizens, you, me! How can one live in a place where people treat others worse than animal!

Sabah-based Daily Express, April 24, 2014

You can grab your copy of today's local daily - the Daily Express - and read the full article, but I'll spare you that and I'll summarise the kidnapping incidents around the vicinity of Semporna town since 1998:

September 1998 - two Hong Kong Chinese and a Malaysian Sabahan were reportedly kidnapped on one of the islands near Sabah-Philippine boarder in Semporna

April 2000 - a band of six men armed with M16 rifles and rocket launchers staged a quick raid on Pulau Sipadan off Semporna, and took 21 hostages including ten foreign tourists in two junk boats around dinner time.

September 2000 - an armed group struck at a resort in Pandanan just six month after the Sipadan kidnapping, involving 3 Malaysian hostages

October 2003 - six foreign workers (three Indonesians and Filipinos) we're kidnapped by a group of ten armed men, believed to be pirates, from the Borneo Paradise Eco Farm and Resort on a Sunday night.

April 2004 - two Sarawakians and an Indonesian were kidnapped by a group of armed men, believed from Abu Sayyaf group, off Pulau Taganak, while heading to the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.

March 2005 - a group of five armed pirates abducted three Indonesian crew of a Sandakan-based sea transporting company near Mataking Island, off Semporna.

January 2010 - a crew of six to eight men fishing bout was captured by gunmen, when their boat strayed into the Philippine waters near Boan Island.

February 2010 - a manager and supervisor, aged 35 and 43, of a seaweed cultivation farm in Semporna were kidnapped by four armed men in Pulau Sebangkat about eight nautical miles off Semporna.

May 2011 - ten gunmen kidnapped a Malaysian businessman on a troubles southern Philippine Jolo Island, a known stronghold of Islamic militants.

November 2012 - a 33-year-old plantation manager and his 25-year-old assistant, both cousins, we're inspecting a swiftlet house in the plantation near Felda Sahabat 15, 50kma way from Lahad Datu! with two workers when they were abducted by five armed men who dragged them into a waiting boat.

August 2013 - nine fishermen claimed that they wee kidnapped by a group of 20 armed men off Semporna waters.

November 2013 - a Taiwanese tourist was shot dead and his female companion abducted by an armed group at the Pom-Pom Island Resort located some 14 nautical miles off Semporna.

April 2014 - a 29-year-old Chinese tourist and a 40-year-old Filipina resort employee, were abducted by a group of seven armed men from the Singahmata Adventure and agreed are sort located some 10 minutes boat ride from Semporna Town.

So, please tell me how to explain this to a tourist intending to cancel his trip to Sabah, or, how can I convince my friends and family that it is safe to visit these areas in the East Coast.

Figures don't lie.

Champions League semi-final result: Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich

The first semi-final match yesterday between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid ended with a goalless draw. 

With Manchester United having been eliminated at quarter-final by Bayern Munich, my attention now would be on the clash between two of Europe's bests. No doubt Bayern played great football this season, but at this stage I'll rally my support for Real Madrid.

Playing at 2:45am Hong Kong time, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich meet at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in what promises to be a pulsating tie.

Half-time result

Real Madrid ( 1 )  -  ( 0 ) Bayern Munich

Full-time result

Real Madrid ( 1 )  -  ( 0 ) Bayern Munich

Benzema scored the winner for Real Madrid on 19th minute.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SESB to conduct load rejection test on Kimanis IPP today

The independent power producer (IPP) in Kimanis, Papar will be conducting a load rejection test today. Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) said the test would be conducted for 30 minutes from 5pm and involve an energy load of 72 MW.

Load Rejection Test (LRT)

To understand what is LRT, I've quoted Hurricane193 here: "Load rejection test means to test the engine performance with no load condition after running with full load. Simply, the test done to check the engine and generator performance in case generator circuit breaker suddenly trip due to fault in upper network."

You can see the typical procedure explained by Hurricane193 at: Load Rejection Test

"The test process is very important to the IPP station to begin channeiling the Sabah Interconnection Grid System. It involves load rejection by the IPP and sudden reduction of the grid system frequency to a controlled level." - Muhamad Nazri Pazil, Senior General Manager (Asset management) SESB.

SESB would take early initiatives, including making a computer simulation of the MW loss to the grid system to ensure there was no impact on the consumers when the test was being conducted.

Consumers were encouraged to contact the SESB at 15454 or 088-515000 if their area experienced a power failure. SESB assured that immediate action would be taken on all complaints sent through the official channels.

TheGreenMechanics: This should be good news as we've been waiting for the excess capacity to cater for the increasing energy need in Sabah. Finger crossed, this will be successful.

On the issue of power failure, there is also an emergency line you can contact SESB during 'emergency' cases.

But from personal experience, the staff maning the call centre (emergence number) would insist that you call 15454 or 515000 instead before they can mobilise the stand-by team. I strongly believe SESB should give exception when it involve facilities that concern the public such water works, hospitals, etc.

Good bye Moyes, move on Manchester United

It's now official - David Moyes is sacked by Manchester United.

I could see it was coming for sometime now as rumours has been circulating - his days at Old Trafford was numbered. It's sad to see him go but I believe the timing is perfect - United has 4 more games to cool down before the end of a torrid season.

For the players, they could do themselves a bit of favour in earning some respect by winning the remaining games. The paying fans deserve it!

My collection: Been a United fan for some time now.

Was it right to give him the sack?

They did this a lot of time at other Premier League clubs but sacking a manager 10 months into a job is not the United way.

But while some may disagree, I will sit on the other side and say that sacking him was a no brainer. 

Failing to qualify for the prestigious Champions League for the first time since 1995, losing in all 3 domestic competitions, failed miserably in his attempts to sign top players, and worse of all losing big to the club he previously managed. Losing to Everton means that someone is doing a better job than he did during his days at Goodison Park, and that he fared poorly at Old Trafford.

What this also mean is that the board was left with little option but to cut their losses.

Moyes's last game in charge was a 2-0 loss at his former club Everton, which confirmed that United would not compete in the Champions League next season. It was a pain watching that game; United moved the ball very slowly and when approaching the opponent penalty box, they lacked creativity. They were vulnerable to counter attacks and the defense was in disarray numerous times. It was sooo not United!

Start afresh

People say when you are at rock bottom there is only one way: Up!

Let's start afresh and bring back the glory to Old Trafford. This is one of the biggest clubs with great tradition and it takes some beating to write them of completely.

Alex Ferguson is a big gap to fill but there are many coaches out there who can do great jobs. GLORY GLORY MAN. UNITED!

TheGreenMechanics: Goodbye David Moyes. In Malaysia we say 'Selamat jalan Moyes'.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Asus Zenfone - affordable Android phone for SE Asia market, starts at RM299

South-East Asia market is not short of high-end smartphones, and a lot of users in this region are using either the latest Samsung flagship, the Galaxy series or the top-end iPhone. But it is also in need of mid-priced to low-but-well-equipped phones. Asus meets this requirement with its latest Zenfone offerings.

The computer maker has launched the dual-SIM Zenfone series, comprising the Zenfone 4, Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 6, all named for their respective screen sizes, for the SEA market.

Asus Zenfone 6: RM899

Asus Zenfone 5: RM599

Asus Zenfone 4: RM299

Asus Zenfone 4, 5 and 6 Specifications

On paper, the Zenfone series specifications are comparable to the medium to high-end models from oher brands such as Sony, Samsung, LG and Apple. Time will tell, however, if the user experience and durability are up to expectations.

Zenfone 4 Zenfone 5 Zenfone 6
Screen size 4-inch 5-inch 6-inch
Resolution 800 x 480  pix 1,280 x 720 pix HD 1,280 x 720 ix HD
233 ppi 233 ppi 233 ppi
Processor Intel Atom Multicore  Intel Atom Multicore  Intel Atom Multicore 
O.System Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) Android 4.3 Android 4.3
RAM Memory 1 GB 1 GB 2 GB
Storage 8GB internal  8GB internal  8GB internal 
Additional  5GB Asus Cloud 5GB Asus Cloud 5GB Asus Cloud
Camera PixelMaster PixelMaster PixelMaster
18 camera modes  18 camera modes  18 camera modes 
Battery 1,200mAh  2,050mAh  3,230mAh 
SIM card dual-SIM dual-SIM dual-SIM
Price RM299 RM599 RM899

New in the offering are features such as What’s Next, which presents the user’s most important information on the lock screen, home screen and notification drawer. Also, there is the Do It Later feature which allows users to focus on the current task at hand by automatically creating reminders to help them follow up on things they may not have been able to attend to.

In real life, this is how the Zenfone measure up in the hand of a user.

Asus Zenfone: Prices and Availability

The phones are expected to be available in Malaysia from end-April 2014. Asus stated that the operating system can be upgraded to the latest Android 4.4 version (KitKat) by the end of the year. Recommended retail prices are as follows:

Asus Zenfone 4: RM299
Asus Zenfone 5: RM599
Asus Zenfone 6: RM899

Read more at Tech News.

TheGreenMechanics: More choices for consumers. Hopefully performance-wise, they are up to standard. Asus is pretty well known in the consumer electronic goods, in particular, computers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunset at Tanjung Aru beach, Kota Kinabalu

Take sometime off during good weather and if you are lucky, you will be able to see the sun 'sinking' slowly into South China Sea. While the sun actually move in a slow motion, you find yourself running out of time. You realised that you were not actually watching it; you were just hiding behind the camera lens and miss the actions all together.

I have some shots to show, but you can also look at more of them here.

In the mood

Some sort of fiesta going on here?

D90 + Nikkor 18-200mm. Versatile lens but may not be the best glass for shooting this.

So, don't be like me. I capture the whole episode but wasn't actually watching the sunset.

Anyway, this is a must-visit attraction when you are in Kota Kinabalu. We have three beaches and this one (First Beach) is the longest of the three, most equipped, and most visited beach.

Just stone-throw away from the beach is the Perdana Park if you prefer to jog, walk and do a little exercise. It is fully lit and the jogging tracks are comparable to the modern builds elsewhere in the world.

Visit my photo-blog here to see more pics.

Chinese solar module prices may increase by up to 20% in 2014

Solar PV modules were said to have been over produced in 2011 through 2013 and as a result, prices dropped unrealistically low.

Then there was this 'dumping' of cheap modules from China that caused the trade dispute between western nations (especially US) and Asia.

Research service provider GTM Research noted however, that 2014 is going to be the PV market's tightest supply year and expect higher pricing.

PV module prices increase by as much as 20%

GTM Research expect prices for solar PV modules delivered to the US by Chinese suppliers could increase by as much as 20% by the end of 2014 due to supply constraints, rising input costs and the ongoing US-China solar trade case.

                          Source: Global PV Pricing Outlook: Q2 2014 by GTM Research

The primary driver behind the likely price increases, according to GTM Research, is the ongoing US-China trade case, which has already led to import duties on China-produced solar cells.

Further duties on China-assembled modules as well as Taiwanese solar components would push up US pricing beyond current levels, as Chinese firms pass tariff-induced penalties onto customers, or resort to contracting out cell and module production to OEM vendors based in higher-cost regions such as India, South Korea and Malaysia.

With Chinese suppliers shipping almost 3 GW of modules into the US in 2013, this development could result in meaningfully higher solar costs for US-based developers and their customers.

Also mentioned in the report:

  • Global polysilicon spot pricing increased 15% quarter over quarter to $21.20 per kilogram at the end of Q1 2014.
  • Q4 2014 base-case forecast estimates polysilicon prices reaching $24 per kilogram and wafer prices 26% per watt.
  • Current Tier-1 Chinese module pricing across the globe ranges from 56 cents per watt in Chile to 80 cents per watt in the EU
  • Pricing for Japanese modules in the Japanese residential market is still as high as $1.50 per watt, but has fallen below $1 per watt in the commercial segment.

The full report can be found at GTM Research.

TheGreenMechanics: Malaysia has several China-base solar module manufacturers, or factories that are co-owned by Chinese investors. The US pricing may not affect us directly but it is a good indicator of how the future of global solar PV industry is shaping up.

If you are in the solar supply chain (manufacturer, exporter/importer, project implementer, end-user, etc), this should be a good read.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Samsung brings in mobile printers for mobile Malaysian enterprise

Samsung has recently introduced the NFC-enabled colour laser printer and multi-function printers (MFP) Xpress C410W series, pioneering the mobile printing solution and NFC printer market in Malaysia.

[NFC: Near Field Communication; devices can only communicate if placed close together]

"Print directly from your smartphone" - Launching of the Xpress series printers.

With the innovation in Samsung's mobile printing solution, users are able to print high quality photos and documents from their smart devices (smartphones, tablets, etc) with ease.

The new printer Xpress C410W series consists of the C410W colour laser printer, the C460W colour laser MFPs with print, copy and scan functionality and the C460FW colour laser MFP with print, copy, scan and fax capabilities.

These three models are able to print up to 18 pages per minute (ppm) in black and white and four ppm in colour.

The Xpress C410W series printer is easy to set up with just three quick steps without the need for a USB connection between printer and computer.

The Xpress C410W series connects wirelessly with mobile devices via WiFi-Direct, allowing users to effortlessly and securely print pictures, documents, e-mails and web content by simply tapping their smart devices on the printer.

With Samsung Mobile Print app, users are able to print everything from PDF files to Microsoft Office documents such as Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations directly from their smart devices.

Who will use them

Samsung Malaysia Electronics said these printers are intended mainly for mobile enterprises, SMEs, and entrepreneurs.

"Our latest printing solutions are grounded in business owners' desire to print photos and documents directly from their smart devices. As enterprises rapidly expand their businesses, we want to empower them with innovative technology that helps them to evolve and grow their business with a competitive edge." - Samsung Malaysia Electronics president Lee Dong Yong.

Printing from smartphones?

The Xpress C410W series connects wirelessly with mobile devices for fast, integrated and convenient printing on the go. Users can effortlessly and securely print pictures, documents, e-mails and web content by simply tapping their smart devices on the printer. Scanning and faxing documents is also made easy as users are able to sync the contacts on their smart devices with the printers.

With Samsung Mobile Print App users are now able to print everything from PDF files to Microsoft Office documents such as Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations directly from their smart devices.

Owners of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy Tab series will be able to print images from the gallery app, documents, email and web browser pages.

Price and availability

Available from June onwards, the recommended retail prices for these Xpress printers are:

C410W   : RM665
C460W   : RM1,095
C460FW : RM1,250

TheGreenMechanics: Pretty competitive pricing for laser printers, but I've read somewhere that NFC printing on the Xpress printers is confined to Samsung smart devices only and Apple smartphones are not supported. This should not be too big an issue though, as WiFi direct printing is supported by Samsung Mobile App for Android, iOS and Windows.

One downside is the costly toner. At the time of posting, colour toners (3 toner per set) costs $54.99 (about RM178) and black toner costs $63.99 (about RM207).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Distributed generation (DG) to help address Thailand's energy issues?

This is an article about distributed power generation (DG) in Thailand written by Wärtsilä Power Plants. Thailand being our close neighbour, and due to the fact that it has similar situation to ours in transmitting electricity through challenging terrain, this should be a good read.

What is Distributed Generation (DG)

Distributed generation is also known as embedded or dispersed generation, or on-site generation. DG is electricity generating plant that is connected to a distribution network rather than the transmission network.

There are many types and sizes of DG, including Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, wind farms, hydro electric power, solar PV, or one of the new smaller generation technologies.

: :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : :          : : 

I have summarised a long article here, but if you want to read the full writing, I've provided a link at the end of this posting.

Implementing a large central power plant present us with economic of scale but the downside is that it is extremely challenging in terms of site availability, power transmission as well as public concern about environmental issues.

Electricity generation today is moving towards a more decentralised model where generation is close to demand. Possible benefits are diminished transmission and distribution losses and investments, improved energy efficiency, and increased security of supply.

In the case of Thailand, the government incentive schemes such as the feed-in tariff, DG will be more attractive for developers and investors going forward. Small Power Producer (SPP) and Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) programmes are examples of success stories under the DG schemes. Both programmes promote primary energy savings and encourage the use of alternative energy.

Thailand has release power purchase agreements or PPAs (as of December 2013) for:

SSP licences     : 129 projects totaling 11,988 MW in capacity
VSPP licences  : 888 projects totaling  3,727 MW
Still in the process of licencing: 3,250 MW

Thailand's power generation mix

Thailand's total power generation was 33,681 MW as of December 2013, with growth in power demand averages around 4% annually. Thailand's generation system consists of:

1) The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) - 45%
2) Independent power producers (IPPs) - 38%
3) Small Power Producer (SPPs) - 10%
4) Imported electricity - 7%

Renewable energy sources, being the main contributors to the Distributed Generation, is given emphasis in Thailand's plan for power generation growth. The following Table summarises the incentive for renewable energy power plants, in the form of feed-in tariff:

You can compare this with our Feed-in tariff rates here.

Source: For a complete reading of this article, go to REW portal.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Farmer builds space shuttle and rocket on his roof!

About two years ago I posted a couple of interesting pictures of a 'missile' on a roof top I saw at Wired Aperture. It was actually a dismantled fighter plane oil tank that a man in Yantai (China) turned into a solar water heater for his home. The man's wife said her husband found the tank in a pile of iron scrap at a local recycling station.

This time, also in China, a farmer build a giant 'space shuttle and rocket' on his roof top.

Huang Yuzhan spent more than a year building the 7m high rocket and 3.8m high shuttle.

Realizing his childhood dream

He had always dreamed about building his own space shuttle ever since being a child. But while most people would give up such an ambition as impractical, this Chinese farmer could just not let the dream go.

Mr Yuzhan spent more than a year building the 7m high rocket and 3.8m high shuttle at his home in Xiapu village, in southern China's Guangdong Province. The rocket, complete with two boosters on either side, is now a prominent feature of the Xiapu skyline, rising high above the surrounding buildings.

Not really a 'giant' structure as claimed by Daily Mail

The impressive structure, which appears to be made of ceramic tile, sits proudly on the top of the farmer's house. Earlier this week, Daily Mail reported on former Chinese military man Jian Lin, who built a fully functioning replica of the People's Liberation Army's Type 63A light tank, featuring a cannon that actually fires.

Mr Yuzhan had always dreamed about building his own space shuttle ever since being a child

You can read further about this and see more pics at The Daily Mail.

TheGreenMechanics: That's one pretty cool hobby and imagination put into reality.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Briefing on 2014 Feed-in tariff Application Administration Guidelines

The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program for renewable energy now covers Sabah FT Labuan. For the interested parties there will be briefing on the 2014 FiT Application Administration Guidelines in Sabah as follows:

Date : 16th April 2014
Time : 9.30 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.
Venue : Mini Theaterette, 2nd Floor, Wisma SESB, Kota Kinabalu
Registration fee : FREE

Following the announcement by the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water on the 1st April 2014 on the quota allocated for Feed-in Tariff programme, SEDA Malaysia will be having a briefing session with members of the public and the industry on the upcoming release quota commencing 2nd May 2014.

The briefing covers update on the recent changes to the rules, regulations and administrative guidelines related to the Feed-in Approval (FiA) applications . SEDA portal stated that Registration is free, however seats are limited and you need to register early to book your seat.

Tentative Programme:

8.30 am : Registration
9:30 am : Briefing on Quota Feed-in Tariff application and other requirements by  Ir. Dr Ali Askar Sher Mohamad, Chief Operating Officer, SEDA Malaysia
10.30 am : Dialogue between SEDA Malaysia and Industries and Q&A
11:30 noon : End of dialogue session

TheGreenMechanics: If you've been asking how your application is being administered, and what is the process involved, this is a good time to catch up with things.

Jump here to register.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Windows XP end-of-life: how do you survive

I am one of those who still cling on to the old trusty Windows XP operating system. I still have this in my old desktop PC which is now mostly resting on the side of the table, but otherwise is still functioning.

I may not be using this as my working computer anymore but there could be slight chance it will come into service should my personal laptop, and the other working laptop go kaput.

If you are XP user like me, you'd have already noticed by now that Microsoft's support of Windows XP has ended on April 8, 2014.

What does this mean to users

Windows XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

This means that any new vulnerabilities discovered in Windows XP after its "end of life" will not be addressed by new security updates from Microsoft, leaving users vulnerable to malware attacks and countless security risks

What now?

Many of us would now be either scrambling to figure out what to do with it, or in some state of blissful denial, determined to continue riding out the storm. PCworld recommend you to upgrade. But whichever fate you choose, you'll need some key information to survive the event unscathed.

Okay, I'll upgrade. Help me!

If you choose to upgrade, you still need to choose between buying an entirely new PC or just upgrading the operating system (OS) on your current machine. Buying a new PC is by far the easiest route, because the OS will be pre-installed and the hardware will be up to current standards.

Microsoft Malaysia, in conjunction with several vendors and telcos, is wooing consumers with a trade-in campaign called 'Good Bye XP, Good Buy Windows 8' which offers small and medium enterprises in the country up to RM600 (US$185) savings when they buy a new Windows 8.1 device from 1 April - 30 June 2014. View story link here.

Here is a quick rundown of the 5 things you should consider as you prepare to shop for a new Windows system. Also, find out this handy checklist for setting up your PC the way you like it.

It is also possible to keep your PC and just upgrade the OS, should you prefer to, but your OS upgrade choices maybe limited by insufficient CPU power, RAM, or storage capacity.

No, I will stay with XP!

If you decide to stay put with Windows XP, your main concern is online security. You can take precautions to keep your XP system secure after Microsoft stops issuing security patches, but there are no guarantees.

There were warnings that as soon as the XP is no more supported, hackers will start their 'adventures' of hacking into people's computers. This is just caution but it could prove to be a catastrophic truth.

TheGreenMechanics: This is PCworld's verdict: Upgrade from Windows XP, it is not a ploy to get you to buy a new system. Ok, with a pinch of salt, I say I'd rather upgrade than face the music of the ever increasing cyber threats.

My personal laptop is running on Windows 7 and it works fine with support still available from Microsoft. This could be a cheaper upgrade compared  with Windosw 8.

Source: pcworld

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Split Mechanical Seal reduces downtime and installs fast

If you are in the business of rotating equipment, this would be of interest to you. I receive an update from my online subscription of HydroWorld magazine and I thought I'd share this with you.

Many of the mechanical seals in our application are brand specific, i.e. seals that are specified by the pump manufacturer, but this could prove to be an excellent alternative if it stand up to the pressure in our system.

                      "Split and easy" - the new 442C split mechanical seal from Chesterton

This is essentially a cartridge mech seal but with the benefit of much faster installation and better pressure handling, as claimed by seal specialist Chesterton.

If your main concern is downtime then this could be your answer as the manufacturer claims you can install it in just a matter of minutes. Similar to ammeter clamps for busbar in electrical panels which require lengthy shutdown, solid round mechanical seals are a nightmare to install especially on critical equipment.

Ammeter clamps have came a long way in inventing split clamps, although accuracy would be slightly affected. But for non-billing applications, split clamps are more than sufficient.

I would think that split mechanical seals would serve the same purpose. Sealing capability would inprove with every introduction of 'facelift' for the existing model/platform.

Says Chesterton:
The 442C uses an interlocking face design with a unique holder that self-aligns the face halves in the rotating assembly. This ensures proper face alignment, which is critical to sealing success. Springs energize after installation, allowing for maximum space between seal faces during installation.

The seals have been used on pumps and other rotating equipment with shaft sizes ranging from one inch to 30 inches.

The design simplifies installation and repair by using a standard spare parts kit, allowing the user to lower inventory costs, enhance operation flexibility and speed up equipment turnaround.

Further info and details

There is an Android App for you to see it in action which you can download here.
Details can be obtained at PumpnSeal and Chesterton brochure.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Schneider Electric's Efficiency Quotient to help customers with energy assessments

Energy management specialist Schneider Electric wants Malaysians to use its online Efficiency Quotient tool to help improve energy conservation.

The quick and easy online questionnaire that was launched last year, provides customers with an energy management assessment, including cross-user comparisons and recommended steps for reducing energy costs and improving efficiency.

           It covers industrial plants, data centres, buildings and energy & infrastructure

Although the tool is just a fundamental guide (available at the company's website) but it is useful enough and it can help Malaysians conduct their own energy management assessment to compare their spending to other users.

"According to the International Energy Agency, we are the third largest energy consuming nation in the Association of South-East Asian Nations and as our economy continues to grow, so will our energy needs."
- Soo Pow Leong, Schneider Electric Malaysia country president

Upon completing the survey, the corporate and individual users will receive their energy efficiency 'score' on a rating of 1 to 5 and they can share and compare their scoring against other participant in the survey.

Based on this score, Schneider Electric will provide them with recommendations and access to relevant educational materials including relevant white papers, links and other tools to help guide their energy efficiency improvement process.

Interested users can consult Schneider Electric specialists to further assist them to plan and implement technologies, strategies and services to increase business performance and efficiency. This way, the assessment would be more suited to specific requirement of the orginasation.

Try it today at Schneider Electric EQ Survey Centre

TheGreenMechanics: At the very least, the Efficiency Quotient tool will be useful in educating users about effective ways of using energy and help them identify easy steps to lower energy bills.

I tried to register online today but the server seemed to have some issues and I got stuck at the country selection drop-down menu, even after several attempts.

LED the most promising technology - SME Corp

"Most promising technology.... demand to grow 34% by 2020"

This is what SME Corp Malaysia said during the recent Light+Building Show, the world's biggest event for lighting and building-related services technology, in Frankfurt .

LED lamps can be designed into many different attractive shapes and sizes

It's about time entrepreneurs put more effort in innovation, to promote more applications of LED and solid state lighting (SSL) in industry and commercial sectors as well as home use.

Also, we must find ways to make LED lighting more affordable. For example, for an approximately equivalent lumen, a 60W incandescent bulb would cost just RM2.00, a CFL would cost RM18.00 while a 8W - 10W LED bulb would cost around RM36.00

While LED lamps would save a lot of energy (and money) throught their significantly longer life, many people are not ready yet to pay upfront for energy saving lighting.

For future reference, I'll share an excerpt of what was reported by Bernama during the Frankfurt Show in Germany:-

The Malaysian Government has identified light emitting diodes (LED) as the most promising technology in terms of commercial viability from among several kinds of clean technology such as photovoltaic solar power, wind power and electric vehicles.

Keeping in view this growth potential, the government was supporting LED and solid state lighting (SSL) companies and also helping them penetrate the global markets, thereby ensuring that the Malaysian LED industry grows in tandem with the world demand.

The demand is expected to grow by 34 per cent by the year 2020. Malaysia is considered to be one of Asia's leading LED manufacturing nations.

In an interview with Bernama on the opening day of the Frankfurt Show, Datuk Hafsah Hashim, the Chief Executive Officer of SME Corp Malaysia, said SME Corp was an Entry Point Project under the electronics/electrical part of the National Key Economic Area (NKEA), with emphasis on the LED/SSL segment.

"The LED/SSL segment has been posting double-digit growth though the quantity exported by Malaysia is still small. LED/SSL technology is the most efficient energy form to bring down the carbon dioxide component. The LED is widely used today."
- Datuk Hafsah Hashim, CEO of SME Corp Malaysia

The SME Corp sees "great potential" for LED products in the emerging markets, including China, India, Africa and the Middle East.

The SME Corp's networking event was attended by designers, architects, distributors and retailers.

Garreth Jones, Managing Director of the UK-based LUX-TSI, provided signposts at the networking event on how to establish and implement proper testing processes for safety and performance of LED lighting products for the European markets.

Though Malaysia's LED exports presently may be small, many German trade visitors at the Light+Building Show were confident that the exports would grow in future.

LED exports appear in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry statistics under the broad product grouping electrical and electronic products.

Friday, April 4, 2014

1,000 postings and counting

I realised that I've reached another tiny milestone today with my 1,000th post, which, unfortunately talks about the last thing you want on a hot dry afternoon - load shedding by SESB.

Right now, though, I'll talk about blogging.

Writing, and in particular, blogging has become a passion as it has taught me more than I has imagine when I first started about five years ago. It made me read more to get my facts right and along the way I get the benefit of learning new things everyday.

Think of it this way - when you write, you learn something but when you read to get your facts right, you learn ten times more.

My header for the past one year. Mt Kinabalu taken from a suspension bridge at Kg Damat, Tuaran Sabah.

Green living?

I started of with 'green living' concept at the back of my mind and with the data explosion that was to inevitably happen, I also had one tool of interest - mobile device. Technology that dictates the way data (and information) are shared move forward at  exponential pace especially one that concerns development of mobile devices. That is why I'm a gadget guy who keep himself updated with the latest that the technology has to offer (although I wont be able to afford them, LOL).

In 'green living', I am talking about sustainable lifestyle, sustainable sources of energy, energy efficiency, and saving mother earth from early demise. Okay, the last one will happen eventually no matter what, but I sure can contribute something to delay the inevitable, can't I?

My earlier postings were ( I should put it) a bit hasty perhaps, but I have matured into (I hope I have) a more responsible blogger now. And I intend to keep it the way it is now - 'blog responsibly'.

Renewable Energy in Malaysia

I have kept myself updated with Malaysia's path in making renewable resources significant part of the nation's energy generation mix.

5% of the total electricity generation capacity is our target for Renewable Energy in the generation mix come 2015. With the current pace of RE development, this seem a tall order but with the right strategy it is not an impossibility.

SEDA Malaysia is on the right track with its dynamic approach to the implementation of the FiT mechanism. Too rigid a policy and we would be outdated in our approach before we realise it, so SEDA has to revise its strategy often (which it currently does) and keep itself alert of the changes in the critical success factors along the way.

My team had an attempt at bringing solar PV project into the state a couple of years ago hoping Sabah would be included in the coverage of the Renewable Energy Act 2011, only to find ourself disappointed at the exclusion then. Now that Sabah and FT Labuan are in, we would try again to get things moving and mobilise our resources towards winning some quota.

2 percent surcharge in your electricity bill?

Next thing that SEDA (the statutory body administrating and managing the implementation of the feed-in tariff mechanism in Malaysia) need to do is to ensure there is sufficient fund to keep the Renewable Energy industry going.

I can see that you'd hate me for this but I believe that 2% levy will be the way to go, not too far in the future already. Two percent is still very low compared to other countries with FiT implemented but it is also one of the hardest variables to get people into agreement.

TheGreenMechanics conclude: I will keep writing, if not for others, I'd do it for myself as it'd in a way 'force' me to keep abreast with things of interest and in a small way the advertisement on this website help me pay for my subscription with web-hosting provider, GoDaddy. I've received a couple of cheques from Google for my participation in AdSense.

Load shedding due to Pangi Hydropower plant under capacity

If you've been experiencing power supply disruption the last couple of days, you probably were located within the area where load shedding was being carried out.

The current 22MW turbines at Pangi hydropower plant. Pictures taken by The Borneo Post during working visit at the plant November last year.

SESB said that load shedding had to be carried out on Tuesday due to Pangi Hydropower plant in Tenom unable to generate optimal power. Dry weather during Tuesday's peak hour had resulted in slow water flow at Sungai Padas, hence affecting Pangi's power generation capability.

Power generation went down to only 35MW, whereas the full capacity of the power plant is 66MW.

Apart from that, several other independent power producers also faced outage such as in Libaran, ARLT and SBPC. Load shedding began at the peak hour of 12.50pm while power supply was restored in stages beginning 2.50pm on the same day.

Two days in a row now, and counting

Already on Monday, SESB had to resort to load shedding as it observed high demand for power by consumers. If it was not due to failure of its generators then you can only deduce that we are now in the critical stage of power deficiency.

The commissioning of the 100MW IPP by SPR Energy Sdn Bhd in May this year and the first block of Kimanis Power Sdn Bhd generating 95MW in June, may not be sufficient in the medium term! SESB gave assurance this will help solve the problem, but it wont be for long.

The Green Mechanics' two cents:

We've read that Pangi hydropower plant is currently undergoing sprucing up project and a bit of upgrading which would increase the generating capacity from 66MW to 75MW. That's good, but that may be only good enough for the surrounding area.

The utility company is also looking at building a non-destructive 180 MW hydropower plant at Ulu Padas, Kuala Tomani and this, I think would be a better bet at solving the acute power shortage, compared to the small, ageing Pangi hydropower plant. This should (at the least) put Tenom area in a 'safe island' during islanding mode of operation due to major power disruptions.

On IPPs with fault-prone generators, someone should really look at the procedures on how IPP monitoring by SESB is being carried out, if there was one. Well, it's crazy to assume there's none, but can you help but think something is not right with the preventive maintenance after several major blackouts in a span of just a couple of years?

Look at some of my articles pertaining to blackouts and power supply issues in Sabah:

  • SESB offers explaination on the 30 April 2012 total blackout - Link
  • Sabah power blackout due to Shutdown of 4 turbines by IPP - Link
  • IPP Shutdown: SESB load shedding on the card - Link
  • Power outage: SESB vs SEB - Link
  • Fancy a long Earth Hour this weekend? - Link
  • Privatisation of SESB a failure? - Link

On a positive note, one must appreciate the efforts put in place by SESB to address the power supply issues in the state. Several bigger power plants are currently on the pipeline and some of them are nearing completion (in stages), plus, the utility company is also looking at getting better control over the IPPs, especially the upcoming ones once the terms of the existing ones expire.

Also, don't forget; SESB is also spending a lot on upgrading its transmission grids.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Consumer demand for LED lighting rises in 2014

Overall demand for LED chip or also called semiconductor chip is expected to grow from 17 billion in 2012 to 61 billion in 2014, according to NPD Display Search.

LED chip is the integral part of the fabrication of LED bulbs.

Locating the LED chip: The heart of an LED is the semiconductor chip of which one side is attached on the top of an anvil (attached to negative power lead), and the other side connected with a whisker/post (attached to positive power lead). Photo source

More than three-fold in demand growth

Although demand for LED chips for backlight applications in display screens is expected to decline, LED lighting sales are growing, and total shipments of LED chips are on the rise. According to the latest NPD DisplaySearch, worldwide LED lighting chip sales reached $1.1 billion in 2013 and are predicted to reach $3.4 billion in 2017.

Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly LED Lighting and Display Supply/Demand Report

Demand for display back-lights slowing but demand for LED lighting to increase

While consumer demand for LED lighting will continue to increase in the coming years, the demand for LED backlight chips for TVs and other display applications will start to decline after 2014.

Demand from backlights is falling due to a combination of slower growth in LED-backlit LCD TV sales and efficiency increases that have resulted in a reduction in chips used per backlight. LED backlight chip sales reached $2.0 billion in 2013, but are forecast to decrease to $1.4 billion in 2017. By comparison, consumer demand for LED lighting has increased since 2012 and is expected to keep growing through 2017.

Significant growth in consumer lighting is helping to keep the LED market on an upward trajectory, even with ongoing declines in backlight demand.

LED fluorescent tubes

As costs fall for LED fluorescent tubes, they continue to replace traditional fluorescent lighting, especially in certain offices and garages, where lighting is required on a 24-hour basis. DisplaySearch noted that, the LED tube is currently the most popular LED lighting product because, unlike traditional fluorescent lighting, LED tubes do not contain mercury, are 50 percent more energy efficient, and boast a longer lifespan.

Source: NPD Display Search

TheGreenMechanics: Very well. The Mayoy's pledge to install more LED lamps in and around Kota Kinabalu city is indeed timely. The lower power tariff for public lighting should also incentivise more lamps at strategic places.