It’s always nice to win a prize in a competition. We don’t enter that many, actually only two this year, but you always hope one of your images will do well. One of the honors I hadn’t received yet was a Best of Show, until now. I got the BoS at the Underwater Images competition.
The image is of a Lizardfish being cleaned by a small goby taken in the US Virgin Islands. It was a coincidence that I even took the image. We had entered the water to take photos of mating hamlets at dusk. On our way to the spot where we had seen Hamlets we crossed some coral heads, and on one of them I noticed a Lizardfish with its mouth open. At first I figured I was too late, but as I got closer it just stayed there. For the next 15 minutes the goby kept coming back to clean this Lizardfish, and I got quite a few shots. Eventually it became too dark and I stopped, but it was a very cool experience.
Fifteen years ago we were preparing to turn on a small machine in the back of a closet. The next day we were going to open the first public ISP in The Netherlands, and one of the first in Europe. We did not think we’d get many customers as Internet was not as we know it now. It was before browsers, before websites, wikipedia or any other part of Internet we now take for granted. It was all text based, with e-mail as the primary service. We were wrong. On the first day we got more customers than we had projected for 6 months and for years to come we scrambled to keep up.
In 1998 XS4ALL was bought by KPN telecom, the best suitor in a long line of companies interested in XS4ALL. This shocked almost everyone as KPN had been seen as the enemy by many. How could XS4ALL allow itself to swallowed up by this faceless, heartless monster. In the years to follow, we have shown that this choice had been the right one. As many small ISPs from that era have disappeared, XS4ALL has flourished under KPN, remaining as one of the most respected ISPs in the country.
But times are catching up with XS4ALL. The market is consolidating and growth is harder to achieve. We are trying to maintain our high level of service, but this is becoming increasingly harder as competitors are slashing prices to below that of sustainability. So we have to change as well. Become leaner, slash costs, while at the same time keeping our reputation intact. Time will tell if we’ll succeed, but it’s been a great 15 years so far.
We’re sitting in the living room watching TV when we hear this loud thunk. We go over to the back of the house where we see some feathers dropping down on the patio. Then we look up and on the window we see this extremely obvious image of a bird. Made us chuckle. Looks like the bird survived.
About a year ago I bought an Acer L100 core 2 duo box to function as a simple Linux desktop computer. It’s been working fine, until one morning it would not turn on anymore. When I contacted the supplier where I bought it, i was told that since it was a few days out of warranty, Acer would not repair it under warranty. Granted, I probably could not have sent it under warranty repair anyways, because I can not send one of my desktop computers in without removing the harddisk. I can not risk anyone getting a hold of any type of data related to my company.Â Sending it in for out-of-warranty repairs would probably cost way too much for a box that only costs a few hundreds dollars in the first place.
So the only logical step at this point is to just try and figure out what’s broken. I asked a colleague to help me out, since Im not a hardware guru, and together we opened up the box. We immediately noticed what was wrong. One of the capacitors had expanded and opened up, oozing out electrolyte. Several years ago this was a real plague, as lots of vendors had used a faulty electrolyte formula. I’ve had lots of computers, but never had one ooze out electrolyte on a capacitor. This just doesn’t happen much anymore, as vendors should be using proper capacitors. So why is my Acer, which has never really had to work hard as i merely use it to run X with a few Xterms, blowing out capacitors. Is Acer skimping on materials? No wonder they’re so cheap.
We bought a 60 cent capacitor, replaced the broken one, and my Acer is working again. So instead of spending lots of money to have a factory fault fixed by Acer, i spent 60 cents (and a home made apple pie for my colleague).Â I don’t think I’ll be buying Acer anymore.