The Ultimate Error Message

I recently spoke with a user who was having problems with one of my web sites. He claimed to be getting an error message that said, “it doesn’t work”. Of course, Apache and IIS do not return messages like that and there is no custom message on my sites that say this, but it got me thinking.

This would actually be an interesting universal error message for web sites and apps. It doesn’t help the developer narrow down the problem, but its straight to the point that a feature failed. Fortunately, no developer would use an error message like this since it makes our lives more difficult in identifying a problem and replicating it.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that when a user claims to get an error that’s impossible, we need to remain polite when speaking to them. Keep customers happy by solving their problems and don’t make them feel like fools when they make mistakes, don’t use features correctly, or find bugs. Our customers pay our bills, so be nice to them. 🙂


B.C.’s First Scramble Intersection

The City of Richmond recently opened the first scramble intersection in the province. A scramble intersection will allow pedestrians to cross the road in any direction, including diagonally. The $600,000 crossing can be found at No. 1 Road and Moncton Street. I go to Steveston frequently and never really understand what this intersection was until it was pointed out to me.


There is just one button to press to stop all traffic to cross the road in any direction.


There are more plans for scramble intersections in B.C. They are definitely a great idea since it makes crossing roads considerably safer for pedestrians.


Well Water at Levity Artesian Spring

Water is essential to life. Unfortunately, most of the water we drink is treated heavily with chemicals and transported long distances in decaying pipes. Water filters are common in household to eliminate the dangerous elements that flow through our taps. Another problem with water filters is that they remove minerals which we need for optimal health.

When the world was a smaller place, people traveled short distances to get their water. This water was typically from a well and the quality was high and rich in minerals. I recently discovered find a where I found a well, Levity Artesian Spring, just 23 minutes from my home.

You can find the spring at Burns Bog near a truck stop. GPS coordinates are approximately N 49.112125, W 122.906776; these were taken from the truck stop since its unlikely that a GPS would work properly in the forest. You can find also get information on the site locate at the page.

Using Google Maps to find the spring.

NOTE: The city of Delta has recently closed the spring due to the large number of people that were illegally crossing the train tracks from the truck stop. From what people have reported, the spring has been blocked. Join the Save the North Delta Watershed Park Artesian Spring FaceBook page to re-0pen it. If you decide to contact the Delta municipality regarding the spring, BE POLITE when speaking to them. Rudeness rarely attains a positive outcome.

The following are a couple of photos of what you’ll see around the spring:

Scenic view along the way to clean water.

An old building by the well.

The Levity Artesian Spring! Its a 12 inch high pipe with water spraying out near the top. I always thought a well should be a large hole in the ground with a bucket that you lower, but we get a pipe instead. 🙂 There isn’t much room for collecting water so you should be using a small water jug.

The Levity Artesian Spring.

I collected a small amount of water just to try it out. Once home, my family tried the water and it tasted great. The water did taste different from tap water and from water from my Brita filter.

Well water is among the healthiest water that you can drink. Do we really need this kind of water? In Richmond, BC, our water comes from lakes in the mountains and the water is the cleanest in the world, but the journey from the lake to my cup does add contaminants. This isn’t a problem when your cooking with it and if you filter it, minerals may be removed from it as well. Well water doesn’t have these problems, other than the trip to get it and the effort to collect it.

I recommend that you go to so you can find a well. You may be surprised by the quality of the water.


Looking Inside an Olympus D-535

My old Olympus D-535 camera stopped working after years of operation. This was the first digital camera I bought and replaced an Olympus Stylus film camera I had previously. The camera worked well and took good photos, even though it was just 3.2 MP.

Olympus D-535 camera.

I gave the camera to my kids to play with and recently noticed that the battery door wouldn’t close fully anymore. With fully charged batteries, the camera wouldn’t power up, so it was time to throw it away. But, being the curious person that I am, I wanted to take the camera apart and look inside.

Opening the Case

The capacitor for the flash is quite large and you need to be careful around it. They can still hold a large even though the camera is off. I removed the lens and lifted the capacitor to reveal the circuit board below.

Looking inside an Olympus D-535. The lens removed and capacitor lifted on an Olympus D-535.

The lens and circuit board at the bottom of it.

 Top view of the lens of an Olympus D-535. Bottom view of the lens of an Olympus D-535.

The LCD screen and circuit board. I took apart the LCD it consisted of several layers of transparent sheets which is what makes up the twisted nematic display. The nematic liquid crystal display works in between two plates of glass.

The LCD circuit board of an Olympus D-535.  An LCD disassembled.


This is the most important part of a digital camera: the CCD. It was a real surprise to see this circuit and the photo below doesn’t do it justice. The CCD looks like a shiny jewel. The lens send optical images to this devices and the image is translated into 1’s and 0’s before being stored in xD card. DSLR’s have a much bigger CCD which gives better quality photographs.

The CCD of an Olympus D-535.

The Olympus D-535 is a low end digital camera, but it always worked well and it would have continued operating  for years more if it wasn’t physically broken. I highly recommend Olympus products and I’m currently using a digital Stylus camera. I’m planning on buying a DSLR, but I will continue using a small point and shoot camera because this they are portable and are easy to take anywhere.


The Pumpkin Patch at Richmond Country Farms

As surprising at it may seem for someone who grew up in Canada, I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch until last week. I’m originally from Czechoslovakia and eastern Europeans don’t recognize the British traditions related to Halloween which include picking and carving pumpkins.

Richmond Country Farms hosts a pumpkin patch each year around this time. I see it each year, but this year I took my family there during a professional development day at school. The Richmond Country Farm is a great place to buy fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. They also offer organic produce which is local as well which is a better choice for healthy eating.

The pumpkin patch is open from October 9 to 31 and there is dedicated parking for it beside the farmer’s market. The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $5 for kids and they accept credit cards. You’ll get one bag per person to carry a pumpkin that you pick. I advise you to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting muddy and boots, of which I came with neither and left the farm very dirty. 🙂

Overall, it was a great experience and I’ll make it a tradition to go each year to a pumpkin patch.


You have to walk by a few animals before entering the gate and paying the entrance fee. I think that’s the sheep from the Real Player software. If you’ve never seen a lama close up, this is a great place to view one.

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Homes for the farm animals.

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The ducks have a place to live too.



Vegetables welcoming you at the entrance gate.

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The bridge to the fun area.


This is the first time I’ve seen a corn and pumpkin dance.


Finally! The ride to the pumpkin patch, accompanied by singing and country music along the way.

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The pumpkin princess and her castle.

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One of the three pumpkin patches available. Its muddier than it looks.