Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To the portuguese policemen and military men

This protest banner reads:

"Policemen and military men

How will you face your children on the day they ask you:
Father, why have you protected the politicians and bankers who have stolen my future?

Do not stay on the wrong side of history
Refuse to use force"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting GPS to work on the Samsung Wave S8500

When I bought this mobile phone, I was very excited with the prospect of using the GPS feature, especially while driving. However, the GPS feature was very disappointing in the sense that the phone did not come with a working GPS application, you have to buy a license for the one pre-installed in the phone, or buy another one on the Samsung Apps store. Additionally, the phone took a huge amount of time getting a GPS lock (5 minutes or more), which for me is not acceptable.
Fortunately, after a lot of research on the web, I found out how to get a lock in just a few seconds using only the GPS receiver embedded on the phone (this means that I am not using any of the Assisted GPS features, thus avoiding any costs related to the exchange of data with my mobile operator).

So, here is how you can do it:
  1. Dial *#4097*4097# to access the GPS menu;
  2. In the menu go to the “Application Setting”, scroll down, and in “GPS Device-Type” select “BUILT-IN” to use only the GPS receiver on your phone.

At this moment we have our phone using its embedded GPS hardware. Now, here is the thing, In order for you to get a fast lock, your phone needs to calculate the position of the satellites, and it is capable of doing this a lot faster by getting a packet of data with updated information on the satellites position. This data is valid for about 167 hours, meaning that after that it does take a lot longer to get your GPS position. So, if you want to know where you are, fast, my advice to you is that you update this data everytime you leave your home.

So, without any further chit chat, here is what you have to do:
  1. Make sure you have your phone connected to the internet (tip: use the wireless connection on your phone to avoid extra costs);
  2. Dial *#4097*4097# to access the GPS menu;
  3. Select “Delete GPS Data” and press “Yes” when the pop-up menu asks you if you want to delete this data;
  4. Back in the main menu (*#4097*4097#), go to “Test Application”, “GPS+” and select “Download Data” and a small text message should appear saying “SUCCESS to Get GPS+ Data”;
  5. Go back to the previous menu (“GPS+”) and access the second item “Check Valid Time”. If you get a small text message saying “GPS+ Remain Validity Time: [167]” you are OK to go.
Now you can disable any 3G or Wireless Internet connections and use the embedded GPS to get your position quite fast. It usually takes me less than 10 seconds (tip: when using Samsung LBS as your GPS application, remember to enable “Activate Location Services” only when the pop-up menu appears once you start the application; remember to disable it after you have finished using your GPS if you want to have extra battery time).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Basic soup recipe

Portugal is a country with a strong history in the field of agriculture. Having a small garden where you can grow your own vegetables is still a matter of survival for some people, as it was many years ago. Combine our love for growing things with a Mediterranean climate and you get fresh vegetables available all year long. I am going to show you how you can cook a basic soup with fresh vegetables.

Basic Ingredients:
- Water;
- 1 clove of garlic;
- 3 table spoons of olive oil (my grandmother used to put an entire soup ladle of olive oil, but this is too much);
- Salt (I used half a table spoon, but remember that the less salt you use, the healthier the soup gets).

Vegetables (remember to wash the vegetables before using them):
- 14 chunks of pumpkin;
- 1 half of a turnip;
- 1 half of an onion;
- 7 carrots with the ends cut out (leave the peel of the carrots because it has plenty of vitamins);
- 1 leek;
- 1 zucchini with the ends cut out;
- 1 half of a cabbage.

Notice that you can basically use whatever vegetables you have at home, experiment for yourself and check out the results. Using plenty of vegetables also gives this soup a kind of purée consistency. This consistency can also be achieved by using potatoes or chickpeas (although potatoes have a lot of calories in them, so that is why I did not use any in this soup).


Fill half of a pressure cooker with water.

Place all the vegetables, sliced, in the pressure cooker and finish with the salt and the olive oil. Let it cook according to the instructions of the pressure cooker (Note: pressure cookers can be dangerous if not handled properly; It is not mandatory to use one, you can cook this soup on a regular metal pan, it just takes longer to cook the vegetables). After the cooker has finished its job and it is safe to open the lid, use a hand blender to purée the soup.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cottage cheese cake

Here is a simple cake that goes wonderfully with a cup of coffee, or tea, in a cold winter day.

250g of butter
250g of sugar
5 eggs
150g of cottage cheese
250g of flour
1 table spoon of cornstarch
1 tea spoon of yeast
Chopped almonds (or walnuts)

Mix the butter with the sugar in a bowl (I used a wooden spoon for the job). Separate the egg whites from the yolk. While beating the egg whites, mix the cottage cheese and yolk together with the sugar and butter. Afterwards, add the flour, cornstarch, yeast and the almonds in the bowl and mix everything.
Place the cake in a greased cake pan. I know some people use some king of aerosol for this job. I do not. The method I use is to grease the cake pan with butter and then spread some flour over the walls of the pan, removing the excess flower afterwards.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fiat Punto 75 idle problem fix

I have recently bought a Fiat Punto 75 elx. The car is 16 years old, and when you buy a car this old and cheap… let me just tell you that quality comes with a price.
Recently the engine began to shutdown at low RPM. Whenever I had to stop the car at a STOP sign, traffic lights or when arriving at a roundabout, the ignition lights would come up and the car would shutdown. This is really frustrating, especially if you have to make low speed maneuvers.

Two trips to a car mechanic and 130€ later, the problem persisted and manager was telling me the problem was probably related with the injectors, and cleaning and tuning them would cost me almost as much as the car itself.
However, one of the mechanics at the shop asked me what was the status on the car. We chatted for a while and he told me something like this: "It is my belief the problem is related to the idle air control valve".
This statement remained on my mind, so I had to make a decision, either sell the car to someone who would fix it later on, or, I could try to fix it myself. I felt an obligation to at least try and learn a little bit more about cars by fixing my own.

After some research on Idle Air Control valves, I found descriptions of symptoms that I could relate to with my car:
- Low idle RPM (lower than usual; in my case, RPM would stay as low as 700-800 RPM when it used to be at 1100RPM);
- Engine shuts down at low RPM (what I noticed later on was that it was shutting down at low speed and when my foot was off the acceleration/gas pedal);
- It was difficult to start the engine (I could only do it by pushing the gas pedal even further).
- When releasing the gas pedal, sometimes the RPM gauge dropped to 600RPM and then goes up again to 800RPM.

So, here is what I did (special thanks to everybody exchanging info on car repairs through the internet):

1. Open up the hood of the car;

2. Remove the bolts (red circle), the clamps (blue circle) and disconnect the small hose (green circle; it was enough for me to set aside the air filter assembly and gain access to the throttle body located beneath);

3. On the right side of the throttle body you have the Idle Air Control valve (or IAC; circle in red). Remove it with a Torx key. Clean it up with a carburetor cleaner spray such as STP carb cleaner. After cleaning the valve, clean the throttle body hole where the valve fits. Clean it really well (use a tooth brush and a cloth) until you remove all the dirt. Also, take the opportunity to clean the big butterfly valve on the throttle body. Afterwards assembly everything back again. There are videos on YouTube that explain you what you have to do.

As soon as I started the car... it was like I had just replaced the whole engine... a clean startup. The throttle remained at 1100 RPM, very stable.
It has been 2 weeks, over 500km and the car has given me no further problems.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thank you FINLAND!

Today it was mentioned in the news that the Finnish people are not very fond of the idea of giving money to help the economic crisis in Portugal.

Being a portuguese citizen, i must thank Finland for this decision. Here are some of the reasons:

- In the last 25 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been called 3 times to help Portugal. Has it helped? Temporarily, yes. Long term, NO!

- Our government has a tradition of bad management and corruption among some of its members. Me, and my generation, have a hard time believing anything our politicians say.

- Our government has too many people on it that have done nothing else but being politicians. That's right, NO REAL LIFE WORKING EXPERIENCE!

- Our current government, knowing the state of our economy, continuously lied to the portuguese people saying, among other false statements, or as the government calls it know "Non-truths", that they would not raise taxes (AMONG MANY MANY OTHER LIES).

- Do you know that the portuguese government wants to build an airport and a high-speed rail train line? Think about it for a second, if you could not afford a new car, knowing that your children would starve if you bought it, would you buy it anyways? NOT IF YOU ARE A SANE PERSON!

There are many other reasons, the list goes on and on. So, thank you Finland, for realizing that giving more money to a homeless man does not necessarily means that the homeless person will manage the money to improve his situation.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Election day

Today is the day Portuguese people choose their new president. To mark this special occasion, I would like to quote a classic Portuguese writer:

"Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and always for the same reason."

- Eça de Queiroz