Thursday, June 05, 2008

Google SoC perks

         A few days back right after Google Summer of Code 2008 officially kicked off, I received my corporate charge card from Google and a "mystery" book. All i can say about the book is that it blew me away. Gave me a whole new perspective on code design. It was breeze to get the charge card activated (thanks Leslie, it sure beats last years payout scheme). Referred to the private mailing list and there were a number of methods used to get the cash out but unfortunately this varies depending on your geographic location. The idea of associating the charge card with PayPal is used by many but unfortunately the only bank in Malaysia which allows cash withdrawal from a PayPal account is Al-Rajhi bank which gives a really crappy exchange rate and a hefty service charge.I found out that contrary to popular belief, using your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM isn't such a bad idea since MasterCard uses current market exchange rates. There is a service charge of about 2.5% when you charge it directly to the card but only a 1% charge of the amount withdrawn if done at an ATM(CIMB ATMs accept MasterCard). It works out to be cheaper with the latter because I would end up paying only RM90(15 x 6 withdrawals) of service charge as compared to charging it directly and paying RM217 service charge for a new Macbook Pro(MB134ZP/A @ RM8,699).

                       The Google corporate charge card

Dirty hack to boost cell phone reception

Took a look at my aging Motorola V3i and realized that there is a rubber lid on the back of the phone which i found odd. After checking it out on Google, I found out that most phones have it and when removed, it is a point for an external antenna. I embarked on creating a makeshift external cell antenna for next to nothing. It would come in handy when needed.

Items needed:
1) Insulated wire
2) Wire Cutters
3) Ruler
4) Skewer

                 1. Cut out 20cm of wire

                      2. Measure out 5cm of wire and bend it to a 90                                        degree angle

                      3. From the bending point, wrap 5 times on the skewer

                      4. Pull the wire out

                      5. Measure and bend 2cm from the end

                      6. Remove the insulation

                      7. Your makeshift cell antenna is ready

                      8. Remove the rubber lid

                      9. Insert the end of the makeshift antenna to the antenna                        jack

                      10. Antenna mounted

                      11. Signal before mounting the antenna

                      12. Signal boost after mounting the antenna