Nikon D90 and Canon DSLR Price Drop

After having my first DSLR — the Nikon D40x — for almost 2 years, I got myself a Nikon D90 in late November 2009. Priced at RM4050, it was my biggest investment in this money sucking hobby. Having said that, I believe the Nikon D90 body will serve me well for many years to come.

If you have always wanted to buy a DSLR or upgrade to a better body, now is probably a good time to do so. I received a promo newsletter from ShaShinKi stating that there is a price reduction for the Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 500D models.

ShaShinKi is now selling the Nikon D90 kit (18-105mm lens, 4GB SD card and bag) for only RM3495. That is a price reduction of more RM500 compared to the price I paid previously at another shop. You may want to check out other stores for the best bargain.

A newer model may be introduced soon to replace these models, which explains the price drop. It may also be due to price war between the two. Either way, the choice to buy now or wait is yours.

Updated 17/04/2010:

I just read on Gizmodo that there may be 3 new DSLR models released by Nikon very soon. One of them could very well be a D90 replacement.

Honda Safety Technology – Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)

I have just bought my very first car about six month ago. With the price of petrol soaring to RM2.70 per liter at one point almost a year back, I had my target set on a foreign car. Although it will cost twice as much compared to a local car, I thought it would be worth the price for tangible and intangible reasons. Having said that, my first set of wheels is still local made. I decided not to take the recession lightly and to not underestimate the liabilities of owning a vehicle.

To me, one of the most important reasons to opt for a more expensive foreign car is safety. Before this, I have only heard from others saying how one car looks safer compared to another. If it wasn’t because Honda has engaged me to do a research on their safety technology, I wouldn’t know that the safety aspects developed in Honda cars goes beyond its looks.

For example, Honda has been committed in researching and developing safer vehicles since they first introduced disc brakes in the early 1960s. Ever since then, they have introduced leading-edge equipment and systems that features intelligent technologies to be fitted into their vehicles. Honda’s commitment towards safety is proven when the Honda Accord has been re-accessed as one of the safest cars as reported by Euro NCAP after a new independent crash test was reported on the 27th of February 2009.

Honda’s safety technologies can be divided into three categories – active safety, pre-crash safety and passive safety. These technologies help prevent accidents from happening. At the same time, they also focus on minimizing injuries to all parties involved when an accident does happen.

Honda’s road vehicles go beyond protecting the driver and passengers riding in Honda cars and motorcycles. The designs of their vehicles are built to protect even the passengers of the other vehicle, cyclists and even pedestrians in the event of an accident. The introduction of the pedestrian injury-reduction safety body in the year 1998 is an example of such great innovations by Honda.

The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system is another technology introduced by Honda together with two other technologies on the 2nd of July 1997. The VSA system is an active safety system that consists of three technologies. Two of them are existing safety systems – Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Traction Control System (TCS) – previously offered in Honda vehicles. The third technology in a VSA system is a Side Slip Control feature.

An example of when side slip may occur is when a driver engages a corner too quickly on a wet road. When the cornering forces of a vehicle are greater than the available tire grip levels, side slip occurs. If the front wheels are slipping sideways, the car is understeering. On the other hand, if the rear wheels are slipping sideways, the car is oversteering.

Sensors are placed around the vehicle to help detect when a side slip is occurring. These sensors include wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor, yaw rate sensor and lateral acceleration sensor. The intelligent unit that detects and controls the VSA system to correct a side slip is the VSA-ECU component. This component detects understeers or oversteers by comparing the target yaw rate by the driver with the actual yaw rate of the vehicle.

The yaw rate used to detect understeers is calculated using the steering angle and vehicle speed variables collected from the respective sensors. When this happens, the VSA system reduces the engine torque and may even apply the brakes to the inner front wheel to correct the understeer. On the other hand, the yaw rate used to detect oversteers is calculated using the lateral acceleration, steering angle and vehicle speed variables. The VSA system applies the brakes to the outer front wheel to correct such oversteers.

In short, the VSA system helps to prevent accidents by preventing vehicles from sliding sideways caused by sudden changes in vehicle behavior or wet road. Such safety features is definitely worth the money that one has to fork out when buying a Honda.

If you need more information on Vehicle Stability Assist or other Honda safety technologies, you can always drop by Honda’s official website at www.honda.com.my/advancedtechnology for details. A few Honda Advanced Technology road shows are scheduled in the coming months across Malaysia. Do check those out as well.

Until then, drive safe and stay safe.

Remove Dusts On Heatsink Solves CPU Overheating Problem

I noticed my CPU was running at very high temperatures a few weeks ago. Just the other day, I decided that I had enough with the CPU overheating problem. I took out a screwdriver and proceeded to removing the heatsink from the motherboard. The screwdriver wasn’t used to unscrew any screws (there isn’t any screw to the heatsink and fan) but to help remove the fan from the “cage”.

It has been many years since I last did anything like that. It took me a few minutes just to remove the heatsink and fan! Once I have successfully removed it, I was staring at the motherboard where the heatsink and fan used to be and felt really strange. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what was the problem.

Motherboard without a processor

Can you spot the “problem”?

That is when I realized my real problem has just started. I turned the heatsink that I was still holding around and found what I was looking for — my Pentium 4 processor. The processor was stuck firmly onto the bottom of the heatsink. It was as if the two were “glued” together by the thermal paste applied in between them. The overheating problem must have sealed them together.

Processor stuck to heatsink

I tried to separate them with my hands but they were dead stuck to each other. I had no choice but to continue with my plan to clean the heatsink and fan while leaving the problem to be solved later.

I removed the fan that was attached to the top of the heatsink. It was my first time doing it so I proceeded cautiously. I didn’t want to hurt myself but more importantly, I do not want to drop it causing damage to the processor. I was shocked when I saw the condition of the heatsink.

Heatsink covered with dusts

No wonder the CPU was overheating! There was a thick layer of dust covering the top of the heatsink. The air blown into the heatsink was somehow disrupted by them. I removed the thick layer of dust with a few pieces of tissue paper. You have no idea how much dust they were.

Heatsink looks as good as new after cleaning off dusts

That is a spanking clean heatsink. There are still some dusts in between the heatsink plates but I have removed most of them. It was time to solve the processor problem now. The only option I had in my mind at that time was to carefully place the heatsink back onto its slot. Since the processor was stuck to the heatsink “in the right position”, theoretically, the processor would slide into its slot correctly too.

It was still a huge gamble because the processor pins could easily bend when I am sliding it back and forth hoping that it would slide into its slot. When I was quite certain that the processor was in place, I had to “lock” the heatsink and fan into its slot. This will then push the heatsink firmly down. I said a short prayer before doing this because if the processor wasn’t in place, all of its pins will be bend causing maximum damage.

An error message greeted me when I booted up the computer. It mentioned that “CPU wasn’t found”. I thought I must have caused some damage to the processor or it wasn’t in place properly. However, I also noticed that it was able to detect the presence of a Pentium 4 3.0Ghz processor. I knew there was still hope. I entered BIOS and exited it while saving the changes. My computer booted up like normal the next time around.

Operation Successful

Everything is back to normal now. I notice that my CPU is running at a much lower temperature as well at around 50 degrees most of the time. It used to run at 60-70+ degrees previously. My CPU fan speed can now reach over 3,000 rpm compared to previously when it was stuck at only 2,700 rpm max.

Speedfan stats

This little clean up saved me from buying a new heatsink. If you have CPU overheating problems as well, you can try cleaning your heatsink and fan. Just make sure you know what you are doing before attempting to try this though. You do not want to make things worse.

What To Do When CPU Is Overheating

I suspected my CPU was operating at very high temperatures a few days back. I entered the BIOS to check the CPU’s temperature the next time my computer hanged. I was shocked to say the least.

BIOS showing that CPU temperature is very high

My CPU was running at 70 degrees Celsius! No wonder the heatsink was untouchable. I guess some CPUs are able to withstand slightly higher temperatures but I wasn’t even doing any “heavy” before the computer hanged due to what I suspect is overheating.

I searched the Internet to find out the maximum temperature my Pentium 4 3.0GHz can run at before frying itself. According to the report by Heatsink Guide, Intel Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPUs have a maximum operating temperature of between 64 to 78 degrees Celsius (P4 EE 3.2GHz being at 64 degrees). I wonder if that means that my P4 3.0GHz has a maximum operating temperature of about 60 to 70 degrees too.

CPU temperature monitoring software

I searched for a CPU temperature monitoring software and found SpeedFan 4.33. I installed it and configure it to display my CPU temperature in the taskbar. That way, I can keep an eye on the temperature at all times. I also configured the software to alert me when the CPU temperature rises above 70 degrees Celsius.

SpeedFan CPU temperature monitoring software

The above is a screenshot indicating my CPU temperature. Temp2 is the temperature of my CPU. Do you notice the icon with a fire beside it? That indicates what 72 degrees Celsius does to my CPU. LOL.

Solution (to be) taken to solve this problem

I notice the CPU fan is running at about 2657 RPM. I have no idea if that is normal. I wonder the CPU is overheating due to some dust collected around the heatsink and fan. I plan to give them a good clean up when I have the time. I hope that helps to reduce the temperature a little.

GMail Slow When Using Internet Explorer

I notice there are some changes in GMail these two days. The ones that I notice are visual changes.

GMail slow when using Internet Explorer

The “more actions” drop down list looks different. I think the font type and size were changed. The drop down list looks more “boxy” too. The next thing I notice that could have been changed is the message alert box. I am not too sure about this but it feels different to me.

Anyway, here is the serious part.

When I am accessing GMail using Internet Explorer, everything I do seems to be very slow. For example, clicking on the checkbox takes about 3 to 5 seconds before it is selected. In fact, clicking on anything takes that long to be done. I also notice that during this period, my CPU usage shoots up to more than 50%.

I don’t know what Google staff has done to GMail but it seems to be killing my CPU resources everything I try to do something in it. Strangely, there is no such problem when I am using Firefox.

Are you experiencing the same problem? Could this be a way Google is supporting Firefox?