Autel Maxiscan MS300 OBD-II Code Reader

One thing that I brought back home was an Autel Maxiscan MS300 OBD-II Code Reader that is used to read diagnostic trouble codes from cars. My father’s aging 2000 Toyota Echo had its check engine light on and bringing it to a mechanic to read the code costs >$70, so we decided to try an inexpensive code reader instead and at around $20 on Amazon, the Autel reader fit the bill. This post contains some pictures of the code reader and how well or not well it worked for us.

Autel Maxiscan MS300
The Autel Maxiscan MS300 OBD reader with manual and CD

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2011 Fall Term in Review

I am at home now waiting for Christmas, and that means another semester of graduate school had come and gone. This was my third term as a grad student and also my final term as a Masters student. Because I had to take my doctoral qualifying exams and finish my Master’s thesis, I only took two courses in the past semester rather than three for my previous two semesters. As always, here are my thoughts on the courses.

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Back Home for the Holidays Once Again

It’s the holiday season once again, and like millions around the world I traveled back home to spend my winter vacation with my parents. I managed to get off my exams slightly earlier than last year so I was able to travel yesterday (Dec 20) versus last year where I flew back on Dec 22. Since the place I study at is rather far from Vancouver, traveling back will always be a bit of a pain, but the prospect of spending almost a month at home is well worth the effort.

I don’t have any big plans for my winter break. My adviser expects me to do work, so I can’t just bum around and do nothing. I’ll probably just stay around Vancouver/Richmond. I’ll likely be eating out a lot given that the town I go to school at can’t compare with Vancouver in terms of the Chinese food. On the other hand, it means I’ll probably gain a few pounds during my vacation. I’ll have to make sure that I get enough exercise even when I’m at home.

I wish all of you a Happy Holidays :grin: .

Done with Master’s Thesis and Black Friday

My second Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the States has arrived. Before the holiday weekend, I finished up my Master’s thesis and handed it in to my university. Before handing the thesis in, I did a presentation on my research for my adviser and a small number of professors and colleagues in the department, and I think that went pretty well. Unlike a PhD dissertation defense, I’m not being evaluated on my presentation, so there wasn’t much pressure. My thesis went through a couple of revisions to make sure that the content, spelling/grammar and formatting were correct, so hopefully the university won’t reject it because the margins are 0.1 inch off or something. If the thesis is accepted, then all I have to do is to pass my two courses for the semester and I shall receive my Master’s degree diploma in the mail in January. Even though my thesis is done, I’ll probably still continue to work on the project to add features and fix bugs.

I was pretty happy to finish my thesis before Thanksgiving, because it meant I had more free time to enjoy the holiday and go shopping for Black Friday deals. I went to the nearby outlet stores on Black Friday midnight to buy some clothing, and I bought a couple of t-shirts, two pair of jeans and a pair of runners for about $100 which is pretty good considering that they are all from decent brands. There were a fair number of people braving the winter chills at the outlets, but it’s not really crowded or crazy like some Wal-Marts and big box store that sell electronics. I don’t think I’m ever going to those places to line up for Black Friday sale. On the downside for shopping in the wee hours of the morning, I was pretty much half-asleep during the day time on Friday because I didn’t get enough sleep. Besides clothing, I also picked up a vehicle GPS from an online retailer because my car doesn’t have navigation. I’ll probably write a post on my new gadget once I receive it in the mail.

I hope all of you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend as well.

Now Officially a Doctoral Student

I haven’t posted for a while. One reason was that there really wasn’t anything too interesting to write about in the last months or so, and the other reason was that I have been really busy studying and then taking my doctoral qualifying exams. I’m currently still working on my Master’s, but I plan to do my Ph.D at the same school and thus had to take my qualifiers this semester. My department has a pretty tough exam format which involves multiple oral exams on a bunch of different focus areas. We can choose the focus areas, but there is a ton of stuff that can be asked on each area so there is a lot to study for. I studied for at least two months prior to my exams, and thankfully the effort did pay off and I managed to pass. I didn’t do well in every subject, but I did well enough in my main area (electrical power systems) to pass and now I am officially a doctoral student.

The qualifying exams were one of the bigger obstacles in my pursuit of a doctoral degree and it’s a big weight off my shoulders now that I’ve passed, but there is still plenty more to do. Now that the qualifiers over and done with, I need to focus on writing my Master’s thesis and making sure I get my degree on time.

My First Year in Graduate School

It’s been a year since I’ve left home and started pursuing graduate studies in the United States. It seems like the older I get, the faster time passes. This one year anniversary is the perfect occasion to write my yearly reflections article. Since I had to relocate and settle down in a new place, my first year in graduate school has been quite eventful… when you compare to my years as an undergrad student at least. The article actually starts from the summer of 2010 after I graduated with my bachelor’s. Keep on reading if you want to find out what I’ve been up to in the past year.

Read More Fifth Year on the Net has been on the net for half a decade.

Writing that sentence makes me feel old, but at the same time I do feel a sense of accomplishment for keeping my domain online for five years. Due to my busy life of being a graduate student, I really haven’t done much to my website in the 2010-2011 period, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing worth noting down. For one thing, traffic and ad revenue underwent some substantial growth. Read on to find out the details.

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My Car Was Attacked By a Rodent

The title says it all. Today I noticed my car’s check engine light was on, so I decided to pop open the hood. I wasn’t expecting to find anything since most of the time check engine lights come on because some sensor malfunction, but what I found was a mess inside my engine compartment. There was insulation foam all over the place, and a plastic compartment was clearly chewed open (see pictures). I popped the hood a week ago and the car was perfectly fine, so it must have happened in the last few days. Judging by the damage, the culprit is likely a rodent. There are lots of squirrels where I live, but it could be rats as well. I’m not sure why they suddenly decided to attack my car now given I’ve had my car for three months now and park at the same lot. The good news is that the car still drives, but that doesn’t change the fact that this sucks since it’ll probably cost at least a couple hundred to fix if not more, and who knows if whatever did the damage will return after the repair. Maybe it’s time for me to start shopping around for rodent repellent. In the meantime, I decided to park on the street to see if it’ll stop our little furry enemies from coming back.

Car Rodent Damage 1
The culprit chewed open the plastic box and left pieces of grey foam all over the place.
Car Rodent Damage 2
The engine bay after I cleaned up some of the foam. Notice that there is more damage above the engine (yellow foam).

2011 End of Semester Vacation

I survived my first academic year as a graduate student, and my adviser was nice enough to let me have a bit of a vacation before I start my summer research work. My parents came to visit, so it was a family vacation. Over the last three weeks, we went to New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Boston, so basically the major cities in the northeast/eastern part of the United States. As always, the post contains an account of the trip accompanied by some thoughts and photos.

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