Posts by eugene

Shooting T

I always believe in the power of the still image. An experienced photojournalist can capture a moment that can evoke powerful emotions for the viewer. As I shoot a variety of subjects, from products to people to weddings, it’s often necessary to be professional and detach your feelings from the event happening around you. This is more so when I shoot for Hospis Malaysia. Many of these people have a measured lifespan and are usually at the end of their lives. Quite a few of the people I’ve taken photos of no longer walk this earth. A sobering thought. But it keeps you grounded. Mortality reminds you to assess what is truly important in life.

On a bright Monday morning, as I drove to the shoot location across town, I expected it was going to be a tough shoot. I did receive a patient brief the week before. Photography challenges are expected but I don’t worry much about such things. Emotions are a totally different situation.

Today, I’ll be facing a two-year-old girl, toddler T, diagnosed with stuff I can’t even pronounce properly. I arrived early. Rang the nurse and waited. Took a few moments to calm down, check the gear, and walked to the lobby of the public housing flats.

The flat was small. The baby cot was prominently in one corner of the very small living room. Also obvious is the whole IV drip stand with the controller, brackets, oxygen tanks, and equipment surrounding the bed. This was no ordinary toddler. Emotionally, it felt gloomy and it was dark. The mother, perhaps reading my mind, opened the drapes and sunlight streamed in. Got the cameras out, and immediately started to frame and shoot. Detach. Focus on telling her story. Her cries of distress, obviously due to her discomfort, were unsettling. Shot a few more frames. The nurse and doctor tried to calm her, take their measurements. Only her grandmother managed to calm her. It didn’t help when the pulse oximeter didn’t register readings on her fingers and they had to try several times.

I know toddler T knows what’s going on. I took some frames, flipped the camera around and her eyes would follow the LCD screen. There was a flicker of recognition. That’s me or mummy and me on the screen. It was heart-wrenching looking at her. At one point, she was asphyxiating. The mother got to the oxygen tanks and her smooth, fluid motions told me that this was just another day and that it came from experience and practice.

After the shoot, we parted ways, I stroked her head and said goodbye to toddler T. Got back down the flats, and walked back to the car, locked the doors, and just let the tears flow. That evening, when I picked my son who was only a month older than toddler T, I held him tight. He gave me his usual cheery smile and “Hello Daddy” and I only held him tighter. “Daddy loves you very much.” Any terminal illness is awful but for me, acceptance is easier when the person is 90. I’m also a parent with a child about the same age. Toddler T should have toys in her crib and should be running around with her sister and brother. She should not be tethered to her crib by an IV line or oxygen tubes. How does one ever come to terms with this? I know editing this shoot is going to be painful.

It is amazing work that these people from Hospis Malaysia do. Truly. When you are that parent who sees your child in this state daily, how are you going to cope each day? Who is going to give you that lifeline? I cannot imagine what’s like to be toddler T’s parents and may never will. It does demonstrate what people at Hospis Malaysia can do, a beacon of hope and life when all else seems bleak. It also reminds you of the power of a still image. It is all the loved ones have, at the end of it all.

This shoot was done early 2013 and this article was written several months later but was never published until today, March 24, 2021.

Current Production Disks

As a follow on to this post here, the list below is what I have in all my current running systems including production client “remote backup” services (on QNAP NAS systems). I’ve also changed my storage architecture (another post on that) but primarily, I’m currently mostly on SSDs and WD Red NAS disks.

Currently running in “production” systems (excluding laptops)…

  • Samsung
    • Evo 840 – 250Gb SSD – 2 drives
    • Evo 850 – 250Gb SSD – 1 drive
  • WDC
    • WD Black 2TB – 1 drive
    • WD Black 1TB – 1 drive
    • WD Red 3TB – 6 drives
    • WD Red 2TB – 4 drives
  • Plextor
    • M6S 250Gb SSD – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-669 Pro)
    • WDC Red NAS 2TB – 6 drives
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro II)
    • WDC Red NAS 1TB – 4 drives
  • QNAP NAS (TS-251)
    • WDC Red NAS 1TB – 2 drives
  • QNAP NAS (TS-231P)
    • WDC Red NAS 1TB – 2 drives
Retired drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 DM001, 2TB – 7 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid – 2 drives

WD and Seagate RMA Experience Part 2

Ok, I’ve gotten the disks all shipped out and the RMA status finally was updated to show processing complete.

I’ve got a Seagate tracking number. Excellent. I know where my disks are. I’ve no idea what WD is doing with my disks.

We had a studio assignment outside so off we went and during the three hours, UPS arrived and was not able to deliver. They had the disks from Seagate. Whoops. No biggie. It was Thursday. UPS promised to deliver the next day. Awesome. We had lots to complete on Friday so we’d be mostly in.

2013-01-11 18.52.59

The weakest link

Friday morning came. UPS’ website showed an exception. No further updates were forthcoming from UPS.

At 11am, Citylink Courier (a local Malaysian courier company) rang the bell. Unexpectedly, I got the WD disks back. Wow. They website wasn’t updated, I had no notification of shipping or status. But they delivered. Awesome.

Buoyed by this positive development, I held up hopes that UPS would show up as well and it will really make our day as I could put the disks to tests over the weekend before committing them into one of our test or work-in-progress servers. We don’t use re-certified disks in any mission critical systems.

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

UPS never showed up.

I called them and they promised Saturday delivery.

Nope. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Website kept showing delivery exception, re-deliver the next day which was Friday. Called them Saturday and they promised to call me back. Sunday came without a call from UPS.

Called UPS Monday morning. Said they’ll redeliver and call me back to confirm. No call. Nothing. Called them a couple of times and the call center didn’t seem to be authorized to change the delivery address. That week was bad for the studio so I need to have the delivery shifted to the design studio instead. Escalated via Twitter and social media go. Status now went back to Exception.

Tuesday came. Called again and finally managed to get the address changed. UPS said that the change requires one working day. Fine.

Wednesday still no changes to the tracking website.

Thursday finally saw the UPS guy at 4pm. One full week later from the original delivery date.

What a waste of effort and time on my part.

Score: Western Digital. No matter how good your entire process, the final link to the customer can break that experience.

Yeah, UPS screwed up. But Seagate chose them so, unfortunately, to a customer, it’s Seagate that screwed up. I will have to add here that I’ve never had good experience with UPS in Malaysia. They were decent in the US but over here, they were horrible. In fact, I’m more impressed with the local postage services’ courier options (Poslaju) than UPS. If I need something fast and reliable, I’ll go with FedEx. On a smaller budget, I’ll get DHL. UPS? Never on my own money.



The RMA Experience – WD and Seagate

RMAs. Return Material Authorization. Warranty. Whatever.

It’s like insurance. You rather not use it. When the time comes to use it, it can be a savior.

Recently, I have a bunch of disks with issues. I happen to have lots of hard disks. Lots means lots. Excluding office and client systems, there’s quite a few in NAS boxes (4-disks usually), servers, PCs, media players, etc.

I’ve had bad experience with Western Digital hard drives for a long time now. They somehow don’t work for me. Maybe it’s my workload, maybe it’s just me. WD disks may be fine for you but it never seems to work out for me reliably. I still risk them from time to time as I prefer to diversify my disk collection. That is supposed to reduce the risk of a manufacturer going through a bad patch. Here, you will see that I have two WD disks and four Seagate disks for RMA. I have more Seagate disk failings due to the fact that about 21 of my 28 disks are Seagate…

RMA Process:

Both WD and Seagate are quite clear on the process. Login via an online portal, give you a bunch of FAQs and stuff to do before you RMA the disk. Check warranty status. Both were clear on the entire process down to creating the RMA and printing shipping label.

Score: Tie.

Once you’ve sent the disk, you do want to make sure that the disks got to their destination. Sorry but this is Malaysia and the local postal service isn’t the best but they can be pretty good (see part 2).

Monitoring the RMA Status:

Both WD and Seagate have their portals where you can check the status of an RMA. Great. After three days, Seagate’s portal showed that the drives were received. Two days later, it indicated processing was completed and even indicated what replacement drives I would be getting. Awesome. They list shipping times as 7-10 days. Not great but hey, I have a timeline and know what to expect. WD’s portal was the same for the next five days. Concerned, I sent an email. To their credit, response was by 24 hours and confirmed the shipment was received. Interesting the next day, the WD website status was updated. It took them another three full days to update the status to say that processing was done and moved to shipping. A few days later, it was updated to mention that the RMA will be shipped status as TBA. The WD updates stopped there. Eight days after Seagate listed the status as to be shipped, I got an email from Seagate saying that the RMA has shipped and the tracking number. Awesome.

Score: Seagate. All the customer wants to know is what is going on. Give me an accurate and reliable status and I’d be simply happy.

The next thing is actually beyond Western Digital or Seagate’s control. The shipping part but as Part 2 will show, it’s equally or more crucial than actually the first part. So, part 1 winner is Seagate.


[to be continued…]


Disk Failures, Updated

As a follow on to this post here, the list below is what I have in all my current running systems (excluding client and other systems under maintenance contracts). It does include systems I maintain for friends & family though.

Currently running in “production” systems (exclude laptops), like my MBA which has a Samsung SSD…

  • Corsair
    • F60 – 60Gb SSD – 2 drives
    • F120 – 120Gb SSD – 1 drive
  • Intel
    • Intel 330 – 120Gb – 4 drives
    • Intel 330 – 180Gb – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro II)
    • Samsung F3, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (QNAP NAS)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 / DM003, 1TB – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Synology DS-212J NAS
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 DM001, 2TB – 7 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid – 2 drives
Retired drives
  • Seagate Barracude 7200.9, 7200rpm, 500Gb – 3 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740, 10000rpm, 74Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD1500, 10000rpm, 150Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus 5400.2, 100Gb, SATA (2.5″) – 1 drive

RMA’d or Failed:

  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD2001FASS, 7200rpm 2TB Black – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EZEX , 7200rpm 1TB Blue – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EACS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD10EARS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Samsung EcoGreen F2 1.5TB, – 3 drives

2012 Christmas Ginger Bread house

Last year, we managed a time-lapse of the construction (see here). This year, with a toddler roaming around the house, a camera on a tripod wasn’t a good idea so it’s just a couple of photos whenever I remember to grab the camera.

Instead of a regular standard house, we decided that we’ll make a larger house using two Ikea ginger bread house kits. A couple of cracks in the second box meant that we had to make some changes and adjustments. Now that we’ve gone for size, perhaps next year will be more upgrades instead of size!