• Craftsman PGT9000 Lawn Tractor – Starter won’t engage the Motor (Kohler Starter 3209801)

    I have come to despise Craftsman since purchasing this lawn tractor. The mandrels that spin the blades which turns the blade break off very easily, the blades use a terrible pattern to fit to the mandrel making to easy to strip, and now this mickey mouse design of a starter!

    In my case the start does turn over but will not engage the engine so therefore you cannot start the tractor. The starter is listed here on Amazon but can be found cheaper on ebay.com (but I refuse to buy one unless I have no other choice):

    The culprit


    Why do I refuse to buy one? Because its a disaster of engineering that will just keep wasting your money. The piece of rubber spacer that the teeth sit on is a sad excuse for poor engineering. This rubber is not very strong and breaks off very easily, therefore causing the starter to no longer engage the engine when it pops up (it can’t reach high enough).

    I already fixed the rubber spacer once by putting hurricane tape around it to hold it together but now that is no longer enough to keep it together.

    – The old rubber spacer stabilizes the teeth on the starter so it does not have much play (too much play and the teeth can get stuck when engaged in the motor).
    – The old rubber spacer needs to elevate the teeth about 35mm (less is better, about 30mm)

    – Find a rubber o-ring washer that can stretch over the teeth and fit below them to elevate the teeth 25-30mm

    An O-Ring can fit over the top and replace the previous rubber spacer

    That’s all it took for me, now I can start my lawn tractor as the starter engages the motor once again.

  • RipRunner – a free (as in Open Source) 911 Fire Fighter communication suite

    For the past number of years I have been a volunteer fire fighter at the Salmon Valley Volunteer Fire Hall near Prince George, BC. As with many halls, I noticed the technology options are fairly slim and the Radio communication system (Depending on your location) can be quite poor.

    As a software developer, I decided to put together something that would improve the communication at our Fire Hall and provide my solution free to all other Fire Halls who desire to use it.

    I have published all of the source code along with installation instructions on github located at the link below:


    The solutions consists of PHP code for the server, and a few SMS providers to handle mobile notifications as well as an experimental Android app (which does not require SMS but uses the free service Google Cloud Messaging).

  • The Tech Kings – Scammers

    Warning to anyone buying software on the internet. http://www.thetechkings.ca/ (.com etc..) is a scammer. They advertise as an authorized Adobe Reseller (among other things) and they are NOT. I just went through a process with paypal to get my money back as they sold me a license key that is already assigned to someone else. I also confirmed with Adobe that they are NOT an authorized reseller. There are many sites like this out there and not sure why companies like Adobe don’t have them shutdown, but beware. You can always check if they are truly what they say they are. In my case it was hard since there was no prior reports that I could find that these guys were not legit. For example after doing a google street view I saw that their ‘headquarters’ was an apartment building in Brooklyn and not what they advertised on their website.

    I contacted ‘The Tech Kings’ after this chat and they did not answer me. I proceeded to make a dispute on paypal to get my money back citing the adobe response as well as google street view showing their ‘head quarters’ was an apartment building not a business.

    Google Street View

    My chat transcript with adobe support:

    Mark Vejvoda: Your order have been upgraded free of charge to Adobe Design Premium CS5.5
    Mark Vejvoda: it says that in the emaiul i posted above
    Laishram: I am sorry, the serial number is already registered under someone else name
    Laishram: And please be informed that the educational version software ownership cannot be transferred.
    Laishram: Please contact the reseller from where you have purchased in regards to the issue that you are facing/.
    Mark Vejvoda: can you confirm that The Tech Kings is a legit adobe partner?
    Mark Vejvoda: http://www.thetechkings.ca/
    Mark Vejvoda: they show the adobe logo at the top
    Mark Vejvoda: an authorized reseller
    Mark Vejvoda: hello?
    Laishram: Could you please confirm the name of the person with whom the serial number is registered?
    Mark Vejvoda: it should be me
    Mark Vejvoda: Mark Vejvoda
    Laishram: I am sorry to inform you that the Tech Kings are not an authorize resellers. For product purchased from resellers, you need to contact them in regards to any issues.
    Mark Vejvoda: they are scammers?
    Mark Vejvoda: see the logo at the top of their site
    Mark Vejvoda: your logo
    Laishram: .Please contact them in regards to any further issues.
    Mark Vejvoda: ok can you double confirm they are NOT resellers
    Laishram: An educational software's ownership cannot be transferred.
    Mark Vejvoda: i did not purchase education version
    Mark Vejvoda: so again.. can you double confirm that this company is not an authorixzed adobe resller?
    Laishram: The serial number you have provided is an educational version and is already activated on Jun 7, 2012. Please contact them if you have any issues.
    Laishram: Is there anything else I can help you with?
    Mark Vejvoda: ok, at this point yes you can
    Mark Vejvoda: CAN YOU DOUBLE CONFIRM that http://www.thetechkings.ca/ is NOT and authorizer adobe resller
    Laishram: I am sorry, we do not provide support to customers who purchased the software's from unauthorized resellers.
    Mark Vejvoda: so they are not authorized correct?
    Laishram: Yes, they are not, An authorize resellers will not sell educational software that is already registered under someone else name/.
    Mark Vejvoda: ok thank you

  • Java applet debugging – multiple java consoles and havok!

    To spare you the sanity, if you need to debug your java applets, since JDK 1.4 there is a new syntax required in the runtime parameters in the control panel applet side:

    New format:


    Old Evil format:

    -Xdebug -Xnoagent -Xrunjdwp:transport=dt_socket,address=5555,server=y,suspend=n

    There is a bug with the -XDebug parameter that causes multiple java consoles to open for each applet you load and thus you cannot connect to the right JVM session (most of the time) and you lose your mind trying to determine what is going on. You can connect to the debugger but stepping through breakpoints does not work.