Friday, 11 May 2018

A Bout of Chicken Pox

Time heals everything, even time itself.

I heard a speaker who once said that if you wanted to know the value of each second, ask someone who had a close call with accident. I never had the chance to ask one. But I might have a luck in asking a random husband that I see sitting next to a women’s clothing shop in the mall. He probably knows the true value of every second he spends to get by the time waiting for her wife to return from shopping.

This is what my scar-ridden face looked like in the aftermath of a Chicken Pox attack. The picture is a bit over-exposed so much of the scars aren’t visible but if you look closely, there are lots of dark spots around my temples and cheeks. The person behind me is Prabin, our new Nepali manager. We hitched a ride on the back of a small truck on the way home.

It’s a good thing that we only get infected by Varicella Zoster virus a.k.a. Chicken Pox once in our life time. No one likes to have troublesome scars from time to time. But according to the doctors, even after a successful bout with the virus, not all of which are eradicated from our body. Some of the surviving viruses can hide in our body and avoid the detection of the immune cells. Later on in life, when our immune system gets weaker due to old age, they can travel back to the skin surface and inflict on us a slightly altered version of skin condition called shingles.

Setting what the palindrome was saying aside; these days, I am following a not-so-strict exercise routine. I usually exercise on every other day. The physical regimen involves riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes, followed by doing three sets of different dumbbell exercises. I finish the routine by working on the abs roller. 

This is the second time that I have peeled off a medium-sized pineapple. The first was when I was nine years old. I don’t like eating pineapple that much not because peeling its spikey skin off is a bit challenging, but because I didn’t like the taste and texture.  

Here’s a fake tattoo that I drew on my left arm using a small brush dipped in an India ink. I find it difficult to draw on the human skin as opposed to drawing on paper. Unlike the sedentary paper, human skin is elastic, it responds to room temperature and has contours that differ from person to person. Someday, I’m thinking of retiring as a tattoo artist. But given my age right now, I would be too old by then. 

That begs a question, who would want to have their skin tattooed on by an old man with shaky hands anyway? Not me sir.

Here’s an egg recipe that I invented. I like to use the word “invented” because it feels like I have done something so relevant in the history of mankind. I didn’t have a name for it yet but the basic recipes are: oil, garlic, onion, salt, potato and egg. 

Here’s a Mechado that I cooked. This and Ginisang Munggo are the two recipes that I always like to cook every now and then. The reason being that is so I can whipped out a dish of this or two at any given time without having to ask Google for the recipe.

These days, I’m eating a bit hefty to recover the weights that I lost during the Chicken Pox bout. Remember that when you get infected by this virus, there is nothing that you can do much. You are in the mercy of your own immune system. You can increase its efficacy by eating healthy foods and drinking lots of fluids, but the flu and fever that come along with the infection will keep you, most of the time in bed, and make you feel weaker that you’ll hardly feel hungry at all.

But luckily, time is your best friend. Your body will heal in time. The total period of recovery is just around a week although some may take it up to two weeks.

That’s all for me this weekend. Bye!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Attendance Program and CinchPro Payroll System

In 2013, the management in the company that I am working with bought a couple of attendance biometric machines from overseas. It didn't have an attendance software to go with it and it would be a waste if we couldn't use it.So what I did was that I asked the company to give me a whole fortnight (14 days) to program an attendance software that can automate our existing manual time sheet calculations.

This is the software that I came up with. It gets the data from what the biometric machine yields and could do rapid calculations of the total time incurred as well as figure out late penalties. The note on the leftmost side at the bottom says it's already in its 4th revision.Since 2013, the reason why it's very easy and fast to generate time sheet reports has largely been due to this. We didn't have to calculate time from the time cards manually.

This is just one of those biometric machines, and it remarkably held in time. For five years, the company that I'm working with is still using these machines together with the attendance software that I have created for them.

This is the Payroll System that I developed from scratch. In the early years leading up to its creation, I had an intermittent opportunity to help our accounting office with payroll works for quite some time. Those good times had helped me earned a considerable amount of knowledge in payroll stuffs, which then led me to the creation of this latest software, the CinchPro Payroll System in 2017.

The CinchPro Payroll System works in tandem with my Attendance Program. With so many things going on in the payroll, one could easily make a mistake if it's done in Excel. Also, the repetitive tasks can be tedious. By using CinchPro, one can easily generate reports on the ply.

The modules in the CinchPro Payroll Systems include:

  • Staff Recording
  • Unique Position Monitoring
  • Money Booking
  • Bread or Item Booking
  • Uniform Deductions
  • Loans
  • Other Deductions
  • Taxes
  • Entitlements such as Leave Pay, Finished Pay and Long Service
  • Monitoring absences through Medical Certificates 
  • Generation of Pay Slips and other reports
  • Payroll for Factory workers that gets paid by pieces of work.
  • Generating Excel file counterparts for sending payroll to BSP or ANZ bank for processing.

Friday, 4 May 2018

A Short Work in Daru Island

Daru Island reminds me of the old Palayan City that I used to live when I was a very much younger version of me. From the familiar unpaved roads and to the homochromous vegetable stalls that lined up the sidewalk, the whole scenery is like a blue pill for the mind. One can think about ingesting that pill as a wonder drug that can instantly bring forth a recollection of experiences in the past, and the most apparent effect is a blissful feeling of having been transported back to the time when almost everyone else is living in simplicity.

Back when the words mobile phones and tablets do not exist in the dictionaries.

But in Daru Island, the unpaved roads and small makeshift houses do not equate to being held back in time. While most people there don’t own a mobile phone, a number of residents and visitors from the mainland that come from all walks of life do carry a communicating device with them. 

While I’m happily expecting a kind of communicating device of local ingenuity, the advancement in technology in Daru is catching up to the latest trend. Gone is the era when empty tin cans hooked up to a short distance by a piece of string is used as a phone. The influx of overseas items there has brought people to get closer to using touchscreen phones or tablets.

This is the room that was assigned to me for the duration of my stay. It’s a bit spacious and has its own bath and toilet.  I have a window that is facing towards the beachfront. In the night, I always have enough time to admire the beauty of the seas, but during such time, everything outside is engulfed in total darkness.

Here’s the old shop that our company is replacing with a much bigger shop within the compound. At that time, it’s still operating.  Part of my job there is to install the network that new POS machines will use.

This is kuya Levi and he was showing me things around the old shop. One can buy almost anything from there.  At one point in time, I even saw one customer buying a set of wheel bearing from our shop. I didn’t know we’re selling bearings.

Now, that was nice. 

The cashiers in the old shop are all using cash registers to record sales. In the new building that we were setting up, all of these cash registers would be replaced by POS machines.

Here’s the new building for the new shop. The guy wearing a red hat is Sirigi and the guy in the black hat is Kelly, and what they were working on at the time was grinding holes underneath the POS counters to make way for the network and power cables. I took the measurements beforehand and drew some rectangle patterns at the bottom of the counters so Sirigi could easily cut them out.

Buried within the floors are networks of cables that go out to these golden ports.  Once the counters are placed over them, they will cover up these ports and it will defeat the whole purpose so my idea was to cut out holes at the bottom.

Cutting out a hole at the bottom wasn’t an easy task because the metal sheets are a hundred times thicker than an average paper. It required us to use a grinder and a pair of sturdy hands. In this case, Sirigi has that pair.

While Sirigi was doing all the relentless cutting, I assigned Kelly to help me with the installation of conduits on the walls through which external cables would go.  

Hey look! I think that was Levy trying to show Kelly where to drill the tucks into. 

The new shop features new type of shelves and has sufficient number of ceiling fans to cool the place down. I was also tasked of installing speakers and CCTV cameras on the ceiling.

My strategy at the time being was to work on what’s important the most. Our POS supplier, Harsya, had only 2 weeks to set his POS up. He’d be needing all the help that he could if he wanted his job done on time. We agreed about letting him work on his POS while I did the cabling. 

I’m a network enthusiast and even though I seldom do network cabling installations, I have network tools that I buy just so I can have one to use. For example, I have bought this LAN tester as a gift to myself when I had an extra money. This is a bit pricey compared to the other types because this model can also test for continuity in coaxial cables.

Kelly is the kind of person that you can depend on in the workplace. If you showed him once how things are done right, he’d catch up easily. 

Installing CCTV cameras in Daru is quite an enjoyable thing to do,  it doesn’t require much effort if you already know what you’re doing. Actually, I only remember drawing something like a floor plan on a piece of paper and using a little math for calculating the length of cables. 

Just kidding. Installing CCTV cameras require a certain degree of effort. First, you need to know what type of CCTV System suits the place well. Next is to estimate the amount of cables to use based on the camera locations if you prefer not to use a wireless system. Another thing to consider is how you’re going to power up the cameras. For Daru branch, I chose to use the 18-port 12-volt power box that could supply all 16 cameras at once. 

Here’s the power box that I’m discussing about. It’s straightforward and easy to install. Each port has female sockets to which there are two clips that the wires can be plugged into.

The only thing that you need to watch out for is the strictness in polarity.

I took care of soldering the BNC connectors to the cables. How do I know these things? In 2008, I took up short courses in practical electronics and automotive electronics at TESDA in the Philippines in two different occasions. 

Here’s what our cameras looked like after the installation. Pretty neat huh?

For outdoor cameras, we used pvc pipes and chemical pipes as conduits to hold our cables in place. 

The black box on the top left is a 24-channel public address system. I’m testing its sound quality with two speakers. For some reason, there are some people who prefer to place the speakers under a series connection. But I digress, because speakers are better off in parallel connection.

I showed Kelly how to affix the speakers to the ceilings and as expected, he picked up quickly. Back in the old days, we used to make perfect circles in elementary school using a cheap compass. It's pretty surprising that even after more than two decades, the way we make perfect circles didn't change that much.

My conclusion is that it is much easier and faster to install a public address sound system than the CCTV systems.

Here’s Alejandro, a Filipino manager in the shop, trying out the quality of the sound system after the installation. He seems happy enough after the initial testing.

And here’s Harysa (on the left) and Levi (on the right) giving thumbs up after the successful installation of Airpos POS machines on the counters. 

That’s all for this week. Until next time.

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