Volvo 940SE and the Junk Yard Adventure

Jeffrey and Becca at the YardMy oldest daughter and I spent our Saturday at a junk yard for the first time.  It was good times.

I had made a list in my Evernote Notebook of things we wanted to find.  We had some neat finds, some success and some frustrations.

Finds

We found one 960 sedan and one 960 wagon.  Both are gold, and have great, rust free doors (I need the drivers side door at some point – but didn’t feel like I was ready to pull it this time.)  We found a red 1996 960 wagon.  You can tell they really did make the 960 more of a luxury car – much more nose insulation; a much nicer steering wheel.  I also did confirm (which I’ll write here as I can’t seem to find confirmation about this out on the web) that my 940SE (940 SE) is really a first version of the 960.  Short of the fact I have the Turbo 4 (sorry, Volvo aficionados – don’t have my exact engine model number handy) and doesn’t have the upgraded interior trim and noise insulation, its interior design changes are all 940.  It was neat to explore these cars and learn more about them.

Donor Volvo 960 Wagon

Successes

We found the rear seat with the kid booster (that I want to find a way to put in the 940SE to be Charlie’s future seat.  We found the desired instrument cluster bezel (some previous mechanic tour mine up to no end), as well as better looking trim (will show in another post), and new headlight lenses (yay!  Finally!  With those and the new grill from ebay I can start reducing the ghetto look!).

Frustrations

We spent a lot of time on two items (being the amateurs we are).  The back seats took us a lot of time to get out.  And, now, looking at my 940SE, it looks like the latches and the way the seats connect is significantly different. (Sounds like a phone call to Allison Customs again!)

We also spent a lot of time getting the glove box door out.  We ended up in a Passenger Air Bag Equipped car, and getting the glove box and door out of that was basically impossible.  Upon post research, and as demonstrated by getting my glove box out in about three minutes, finding a non-airbag car would have made for an easy win.  Oh well, live and learn.

Over All Excited

All and all, I’m excited that we have some good parts to keep the project moving forward.

The Project and The Accomplishment

Driving the New Purchase Home

Several months ago, I got back into my “tied for first place” dream car.  I purchased a used 1991 Volvo 940 SE Turbo Wagon.  I love these cars.  They are fun to drive; they are comfortable; they are versatile with their room.  The plan was for this to be a project car and rebuild it / build it into what I’ve always had in my mind’s eye.  Well, with the move to New Mexico, that got put on hold until recently.

Necessity required me to get “back into the grease” recently.  From day one, the car’s interior electronics would not come on until you revved the engine to about 3 or 4 grand.  I kind of always wondered what would happen if you didn’t.  A friend of ours borrowed the car one day and, well, we found out.  It dies; completely draining the battery.  I’ll write the rest of the gory details below for anyone who is interested.

I was able to figure out and fix the “revv or die” issue – which felt good and has motivated me to push on with the dream car.

If you are interested in following along, keep an eye out here.  Also, I’ve set up an Evernote notebook for the project.  Make sure to sort by “Note Title – Ascending” to see the notebook in the right order.  The numbered notes are my “To Do’s.”  The rest are self explanatory.

https://www.evernote.com/pub/jeffreywcox/Volvo940SEProject

 


The Repair Details

I started to do some testing and found that the alternator was not charging the battery until you did the revved up.  More research, plus input from my buddy at Allison Customs, told me that either the alternator was bad, or, the “exciter wire” was not connected.  So, a couple of weekends ago I pulled the alternator (an accomplishment for a code monkey like me as it required pulling apart the intercooler to get it out) and had it tested.  It tested good.  So, it must have been that exciter wire.  I found a post in the Inter-web that said it goes through the instrument cluster – directly connected to the “Charging Problem Light.”  I did a quick test to confirm that there was no connection.  More searching revealed that Volvo, sadly, did not do a good job with their solder joins.  So, I pulled the cluster, resoldered all the joints, and, victory(!), the instruments all work and the car charges on start.

Specifics about what to resolder, as well as pictures of my situation, are in my Evernote notebook above.

Funny, though – with all the warning lights working again, the Brake and ABS warning lights are now on – ah, just some more TLC to perform. ;-)

Evernote for Tasks

As many know, I wrote an add in for Microsoft Outlook to help with task management for business users.  Alas, that’s water under the bridge.  So, now I use Evernote for this task.

I love Evernote.   I love that I can:

  •  Capture everything.
    • Mobile – if I’m out and around, the Evernote for Android client let’s me get things into my Inbox quickly and off my mind, especially:
      • Receipts using the Page Camera.
      • Quick notes to remember to do something.
      • Sometimes an audio note if I’m driving.
    • Email – I use Outlook for work and Gmail for personal.  Both have Evernote add-in’s that let me quickly throw an email into the InBox.
    • Web – If I’m browsing the web in Google Chrome and see something I want to keep, Evernote Web Clipper let’s me capture it in a form that will work for future reference.  Sometimes I send these to my InBox, or sometimes I send it straight to my Reading notebook for future reading.
      • I like to cook.  I will look up or find recipes and throw these right into my Recipes notebook.

You may have picked up on “InBox.”  Yup; I use David Allen’s GTD.  And, if you want a step by step “getting started” guide, go buy David’s “Evernote for Windows Setup Guide.”  It’s worth the $10.  I had things fairly figured out, but I picked up some tips and tricks from this, as well as simple motivation.

Prior to this, I had started with (okay, don’t laugh at the title), The Secret Weapon.  It brings in lot of good GTD concepts and is a great jump-starter as they did everything in videos.  (Make sure to check out their About Page for an overview.)  I ended up not staying with this system.  The issue – everything is more “priority” based, but as David says, and as we know, priorities shift on an hourly basis.  I was finding that keeping priorities set was a struggle.  Everything always went to urgent.  Other stuff never surfaced.  So, I’m pretty much on David’s guide’s method now.

Struggle is a good word to wrap up with here.  I again love (just no better word for it) Evernote as I can search (anywhere, on my phone, jump on a web browser in a hotel), organize, have everything protected up in the cloud, share.  Once you really start putting everything in Evernote, it’s very powerful.  But, overload and priorities are where I’m currently struggling with task management (not Evernote the tool).  I have things coming at me every minute of every day in my day job (home too).  I don’t feel 100% in control and that’s very stressful.  Alas, as I write this, I remember a couple of things:

  • If you are a person of Faith, well, then you are not supposed to be in control – He is.  Let Him control it and he will guide your way.  If you try to control it, you will just screw it up. :-)
  • I had the opportunity once to attend a GTD class David ran.  After words, I asked him about the over load and he said something to me that was profound (and, sadly, I forget from time to time until moments like this) – “You have to get comfortable with the fact that you have a lot of things on your lists.”  You have to just let it go and trust that the system will bring you back around to these things at the right time and place.

“Mind like water.” That’s where we have to get to.  Evernote has proven to be a great tool to let me “cast things off” and work on getting to that state.

A Great Chromebook Alternative

Related to my other posts about liking then having problems with the Chromebook, I wanted to post about my new favorite Ultrabook.

Walmart sells the Acer Aspire S3 for $395.

This hits all the things I said about the Chromebook that I love.  Light.  Instant on. Great keyboard.

It seems a hair more solid than the Samsung Chromebook.

It comes, of course, with Windows 8.  That’s been a bit of a paradigm shift – something for another post.

All in all, if you are looking for an inexpensive yet fairly powerful and comfortable notebook, this is what I would recommend.

Why You Will Not Like a Samsung Chromebook

A while back, I wrote this post on why I loved my wife’s Samsung Chromebook.

Well, funny how things change…

About a month into the Chromebook experience, it decided that it didn’t like staying connected to Wi-Fi.  It would disconnect and reconnect over, and over and over.  Sometimes this would happen right when you fired it up.  Sometimes it would stay connected for an hour before it would start having its fits and make the Chromebook useless – especially as it is completely dependent on the Internet.  (A feature I still appreciate.)

And so began the saga with Samsung…

It actually first started with Best Buy.  I went back to them asking if they could help.  They were willing to ship it back at no charge for repair.  But, then, that same day, a Geek Squad guy called me and interrogated me, saying “these types of problems are always with customer’s routers.”  I explained to him my level of expertise and that no other device in the house (Android or Windows) was having this problem.  Then, he said, “well, then we always flash them back to their original state.”  I told him I had Power Washed the device; something he had never heard of.  (Huh?!)  I capitulated and let him do his thing.  I got back a Chromebook that was on a really old version of the OS, and still disconnected.

I found out about and contacted the Google Ninjas.  That was useless.

Samsung at first seemed like they were going to step in.  They paid for shipping for it to be returned for repair.  I told Samsung, “please don’t let the technician just fire it up, see it connect, and declare ‘no problem!’”  Well, that’s what they did.  Many calls and emails later over like three months and Samsung finally agreed to refund our money.

I love Samsung products.  We’ve had a Plasma TV since 2010 we love.  I love my Galaxy Note II (though Samsung support was useless on a calendar problem – Recurring Appointments made out of time zone do not show at the right time.  Samsung’s “senior technical support” people shrugged their shoulders and hung up on me), and when the Chromebook worked, it was great.  But, service to the customer, from any organization, has to extend beyond the product to make raving fans.  Samsung is not there.

Rich in Faith

Living Word Bible Church, Mesa, Arizona

A repeating theme in my life lately is that wisdom is critical.

Personally, I believe in being a Life Long Learner to help gain that wisdom, and, I believe that teaching is one of the best ways to learn.  So, I wanted to exercise that and share what I learned today – that it’s a huge myth that God and Jesus wants you to be poor.

Today, in church we looked at Luke 19:1-27 NKJV.  In the first part, it shows how Jesus didn’t look down on the rich tax collector; instead, he embraced him.  As Dr. Tom said, “Jesus had a choice – he could have gone and hung out with the poor and have porridge (which, of course, all kidding aside, he certainly would and did), or, go hang out with Zacchaeus and have a steak.”  Turned out that the tax man was an okay guy.

Next, he related a parable where basically he (Dr. Tom says the guy in the parable is Jesus) gave ten minas (about $9,000) to each of his ten servants and told them to “go on and do your business,”  or, in other words, use this money and make it grow.  When he came back later, only three decided to show back up with the money.  You can read it below; he praised the two that grew the money and let them keep it (they grew rich).  The one who thought he should just “stuff the money in his mattress?”  Jesus said, “you goof ball – why didn’t you grow it?  Give it to the first guy!”

A related theme today was “you grow in your blessings as you grow in Faith.”  All goes hand in hand and was very impactful and meaningful to me today.


Luke 19:1-27 NKJV

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there  was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”  So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’  But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’  And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’  (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)  ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ ”

Swype Ditches Beta Tags, Lands in Google Play | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Saw this today in the news

After a lengthy beta phase, the Swype virtual keyboard has finally made its way to the Google Play store for Android devices.

I tried Swype a couple of years ago and was very impressed with it.  It was always dead on.  However, I’ve moved on to SwiftKey.  Their prediction capabilities are unparalleled   After a reboot of my Samsung Galaxy Note II, its default keyboard with its “predictions” are there and I always give it a try.  But, I always, and quickly, fire back up SwiftKey – it’s just that much better.

Swype Ditches Beta Tags, Lands in Google Play | News & Opinion | PCMag.com.

Sara and Balloons

Once the girls, Kimberly and I took Sara to the park. We brought with us a big beach ball for us to horse around with. Sara got it, pushed and chased it all around the park. It was hallarious, including when she popped it. I though I would have her reenact it with the balloons from the Baby Shower.

Instant On and Where Microsoft Windows Missed The Boat

Well, where they missed at least one boat.

Every morning I grab some on-line device.  My Samsung Galaxy Note II; my HP DV4 Windows 7 Machine, or my wife’s Chromebook. This morning, all three were right in reach, including my Windows computer as I left it on the couch the night before.  (Usually it’s in my office, because it needed charging).  What did I grab?  I went right for the Chromebook.

The Chromebook is like my phone.  It’s instant on – it’s ready to go.  Windows?  Well, Windows 7 is sure better than the past when it comes to booting and resuming, but, it’s just not the same.  I love grabbing a device and being ready to go with what’s on my brain right at that moment; not “kill the excitement” waiting for the Windows World to come to life.

At some point I want to write a manifesto about how Microsoft really got it wrong with Windows 8.  However, here is one main point – Microsoft should have focused more on making Windows 7 better, like making it instant on, as opposed to radically changing it.