Kristian Widjaja’s Blog

31 Dec, 2012

DIY – Digital Piano Key Repair

Posted by: Kristian In: Do-It-Yourself|Technology

Digital pianos are great, aren’t they? Today, you can get pretty close to the real thing, while not  having to worry about tuning every 6 months, sound volume, and maintenance. Or do you?  I used to own a Roland FP-1 digital piano and after a few years of use, I found that several of its keys started to malfunction. Keys got stuck, or would refuse to play a note. What was going on here? Because of the so-called “hammer action” technology, these keys use a hammer action lever to simulate real piano keys. However, unlike real piano keys, these levers in my Roland FP-1 piano were made of plastic instead of wood. Over time, the plastic wears out, cracks, and eventually breaks apart.

I opened up my digital piano, found the problem, and fixed these broken keys by replacing the broken hammers with new ones. Here is a video of how I did it.


Have you ever shopped on-line only to find out a few days later that your package was missing in action? This happened to me in January when I bought some merchandise from The UPS tracking information showed that my package was delivered at my home, but the package itself was nowhere to be found!

Fortunately, I have security cameras installed at my home so that I could find out what happened. UPS did drop off the package at my home, but never ringed the bell. I was actually home at that time and could have easily received the package had I known it had arrived. What’s more, my security camera revealed that within six minutes after my package was dropped off, a thief walked onto my property and stole my package straight off my porch! (For the full security camera footage, check out my video on YouTube:

The UPS driver, dropping off the package.

The thief, stealing my package six minutes later.


The Weakest Link

As I shared my experience on Facebook and YouTube, I found out that I was not alone. In fact, several of my friends and team members have had packages stolen off their property in the past or knew someone to whom this happened. While eBay and PayPal have invested heavily in their e-Commerce and Payment platforms, we are still at the mercy of shipping providers. Shipping providers all have their own policies and may or may not handle your package properly or make sure that a person receives the package. Even with tracking systems, we cannot fully prevent negligence. Therefore, I believe that Shipping is the weakest link in E-Commerce.


How do we overcome this weakest link? I don’t think there is a solid solution yet, though there are several workarounds:

  • Have packages shipped to the office. (Increases mailroom costs.)
  • Wait at home for the package. (Takes away time from work or other activities. Doesn’t work if the shipping provider doesn’t ring the bell.)
  • Require a signature for every delivery. (This option is not always available.)
  • Post a sign to always ring the bell, like the one I posted below. (Shipping providers tend to ignore this sign.)

Sign for mail carriers to leave ring bell.

In my case, I filed a police report and shared the security footage with UPS, the merchant, and the police. Given that UPS repeatedly neglected to ring my doorbell when delivering a package which my security cameras show, UPS offered to mark my address in their system as “always requiring a signature”.  I gladly accepted this offer, and this should solve it for me. But how can we solve this for you or any other consumers?


I challenge you to put on your innovative hats and come up with creative solutions to strengthen the weakest link. If somehow, you can ensure that any shipments are guaranteed to reach their buyers safely; this would be an awesome win for E-Commerce at large!


22 May, 2010

Did you see the “Fire Rainbow” today?

Posted by: Kristian In: Science

Today (May 22, 2010, 2:20 PM), as I was driving in Union City, my son asked me: “Is that a rainbow?” I looked up and saw what looked like a rainbow “belt”. I had never seen anything like it!

At home, I did some research, and found out that this phenomenon is quite rare, and is actually called a “Circumhorizontal Arc“, also known as a “Fire Rainbow”. I was glad that I had my iPhone with me to capture this occurrence.

Has anyone else seen this before?


15 Feb, 2010

The Thermos Warranty

Posted by: Kristian In: How To ...

Do your kids’ Thermos bottles every break? If so, you might be in luck! The lids are easily replaceable and can be bought directly from Thermos. However, even if the bottom cracks or falls off, you are covered by Thermos’ 5 year warranty.

Just send in your defective item to:

Thermos L.L.C. – Warranty Service
355 Thermos Road
Batesville, MS 38606

Thermos will send you a replacement for free, and even refund your shipping charges. Just include a cover letter describing the problem, your mailing address, and shipping charges.

I have done this for two of my Thermos’ Funtainer products, and received two new ones for free. The check for shipping charges arrived several weeks later.


itunesGiven that Apple has won many people’s hearts on the Windows platform via their iTunes / iPod products, you would think that migrating an iTunes library from Windows to Mac would be a breeze, right?

Think again! Instead of a simple wizard to do this automatically, there is no easy way to migrate your iTunes Library from Windows to Mac. After searching on the web, and some trial and error, I finally found this 6-step procedure to do this migration. It worked fine, though I would recommend computer novices to get a little familiar with some simple UNIX shell commands and file / folder manipulation.

After I followed these steps, my iTunes library on my Mac was identical to what it was before on Windows.


13 Dec, 2009

The Apple Migration

Posted by: Kristian In: Gadgets|Technology

apple-logo1It all started with one innocent iPod. A couple of years ago, my wife, Yuli, gave me a nice 30 Gb iPod Video. That was my very first apple product. I used it, it was cool, and that was it. Then, we got an iPod for my son so that he could have white noise when sleeping. Last year, Microsoft provided cash back on eBay purchases, and since Yuli’s computer was near its end-of-life, we decided to get a 13″ Macbook for just about $500 (after discounts).

Earlier this year, my company started to provide iPhones as an option in addition to the Blackberry phones that it normally provides. I, of course chose an iPhone (3G S) because of all the Apps! After Yuli saw what cool things my iPhone could do, she wanted one too. Also, my home-built Windows XP PC was starting to crash very often, so I was eyeing for my new computer to be an 8-core Mac Pro. So on Black Friday, 11/27/2009, I bought Yuli an iPhone and myself a 3.0 GHz 8-core Mac Pro.

The Apple Migration has come full circle.


09 Dec, 2009

Selling on eBay for Charity!

Posted by: Kristian In: Charity|Service

Christian_Laboutin1My company (eBay) is doing something really cool for this Holiday season. They have provided a number of items to employees to be sold on eBay as long as 100% of the proceeds will benefit a Missionfish approved charity. eBay Givingworks is what makes this all possible.

Most of these items are high valued items, such as Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo shoes, as well as watches, and even an iPhone.

A team of co-workers have posted the following items to benefit various charities of our choice. We expect that the total amount of these 20 items will bring well over $4000 to these charities!

Check out these items and hurry to bid on them. Most of these listings will end in the next few days so that they may be shipped in time for Christmas!

Link Charity Price Sold
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black Jazz Pigalle 120 Pumps – 40 Second Harvest Food Bank  
JIMMY CHOO Black Patent Lumiere Pumps – 37.5 Second Harvest Food Bank  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black patent 120 Pigalle Pumps-40.5 Overseas China Education Foundation  $325.00
JIMMY CHOO Lumiere Patent Shoes BLACK 39.5 NIB Overseas China Education Foundation  $155.50
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Declic Nappa Black Pumps 39 NIB CityTeam  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Pigalle Point-Toe Pumps 38 ½ NIB CityTeam  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Pigalle Point-Toe Pumps 39 NIB CityTeam  
JIMMY CHOO Lumiere Patent Shoes BLACK 37 NIB
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital   
AIR JORDAN XX3 Black / Varsity Red-Stealth – 11.5 NIB CityTeam  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black Jazz 120 Pigalle Pumps – 41 GrX Fremont  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black Patent 120 Pigalle Pumps – 37 CityTeam $808.00
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black Patent 120 Pigalle Pumps – 39.5 CityTeam  
iPhone GrX Fremont  
JIMMY CHOO 073 Lumiere Patent Black 35 GrX Fremont  
TOPAZ Swiss Quartz Watch CityTeam  
CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Black Patent 120 Pigalle Pumps – 42 CityTeam  
Lumiere Heels Jimmy Choo Black Patent Leather Shoes 8 CityTeam  
Lumiere Heels Jimmy Choo Black Patent Leather Shoes Save the Children  
Lumiere Heels Jimmy Choo Black Patent Leather Shoes Save the Children  

Myer Briggs test on FacebookI recently took a Myers Briggs type test on Facebook and the result that I got was ESFJ. This was not surprising as I took the official test in 2002 and also got an ESFJ at that time. So,  it looks like this application is pretty accurate.  The application’s result states:

ESFJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judgment)

You are warmhearted, conscientious, and cooperative. You want harmony in your environment, and work with determination to establish it. You like to work with others to complete tasks accurately and on time. You are loyal and follow through even in small matters. You notice what others need in their day-by-day lives and try to provide it. You want to be appreciated for who you are and for what you contribute. Famous people with your ESFJ personality include: Bill Clinton, Sally Field, Danny Glover, Terry Bradshaw, Mary Tyler Moore and Nancy Kerrigan.

Back in 1999, I also took this test as part of my Bible Study home group at Christian Layman Church, and my result was more like an ISFJ. As a kid, I was pretty shy, and I only had a few close friends.  Since then, many things had changed: I experienced a turnaround in my Christian Faith, started to be more outgoing, building relationships with people easily. It felt like the Holy Spirit was awakening me from introversion into extroversion, which was quite amazing. And I believe this change has a purpose!

Over time,  most people will probably stabilize and score consistently in the Myers Briggs test. I’ve been fairly consistent with my ESFJ, but who knows?  God may have something else in mind, and change me again…


11 Aug, 2009

How to get a US Passport within One Day

Posted by: Kristian In: How To ...|Travel

Our trip to the Netherlands was planned months in advance. We were ready to go and made it as far as the luggage check-in. Then the airline agent uttered these horrifying words: “Sir, your son’s passport is expired. You cannot board the plane.”

At this moment, my world sank. All plans fell into the water, and I tried to plead for mercy. But the agent sympathetically said that she couldn’t do anything about this.

This was a humbling experience, since I was in charge of checking the passports. I only checked mine and my wife’s passport which were valid for 10 years, so I thought that our young kids’ passports should be fine and neglected to check their passports. Little did I know that kids’ passports are only valid for 5 years! Thankfully, my good wife did not make a big deal about it; she thought it was pretty funny.

I, however was quite anxious and was figuring out what to do. After some phone calls, I figured out that we could get a new passport for my son using same-day service at the Department of State in San Francisco.  This is what we did to get that passport, plus some tips in case you face this same predicament:

  1. Book the next international flight.
  2. Print out the itinerary, so that you can show proof of travel requiring a passport.
  3. Get 2 passport pictures. I got my son’s at Costco for a very affordable price.
  4. Get other required paperwork, such as proof of ID, birth certificate, etc. See this full list of required items.
  5. It will be helpful to fill in your passport application form beforehand, but it is not required.
  6. Go to the Department of State and line up before it opens (8:30AM). We went to the Department of State office in San Francisco at 95 Hawthorne Street. (Do not bother with making an appointment by phone. The line is always busy.)
  7. Get your queue number.
  8. Submit the passport application form (available there) when your number comes up.
  9. Come back at the indicated time to pick up your passport (3PM in our case).

The overall cost of getting a new same-day passport was not that bad. It only cost $60 more to get this same-day expedited service. However, changing the tickets for our family cost us a total of $1800, which was very painful. On top of that, our vacation was cut short by 2 days, foregoing some of the activities that we had planned.

I think it would make great sense for the Department of State to have a passport issuing facility on the premises of the Airport itself. I wouldn’t mind paying a bit extra for this service if it meant I could still board a plane at the original planned time.

What do you think about having such a passport issuing facility available at the airport? How feasible is that?


07 Jun, 2009

So many white Toyota Priuses!

Posted by: Kristian In: Cars


What do you think is the most popular color for the Toyota Prius Hybrid? I have reason to believe that the most popular color is white. I have a white Toyota Prius myself and I love it. However, at my office’s parking lot, there are at least three of them, which sometimes caused me to try to enter the wrong car!

Recently, I also had a birthday party at my home, and I could count 3 white Toyota Priuses on my driveway! Everyone that I know who owns a Prius absolutely loves the car. I would agree with them: Excellent gas mileage & driving on the carpool lane!

What’s interesting is that almost everyone I know who owns a Prius, owns a White Prius.

Three white Toyota Priuses at my Birthday Party at home

Three white Toyota Priuses at my Birthday Party at home


25 May, 2009

How to fix aspect ratios on YouTube

Posted by: Kristian In: How To ...|Technology

Today I have discovered a cool feature in YouTube that allows you to fix aspect ratios of uploaded videos without having to re-upload the video. You can enter “yt:” formatting tags in the YouTube tag field of any video. With these “yt:” formatting tags, you can remove black borders, fix incorrect aspect ratios, and even default the YouTube quality to HQ.
The commands used for these respectively are:


See the following video for examples on how these work.

I used this technique on Eric and Cynthia’s wedding video, which originally had an incorrect 4:3 aspect ratio, and now the video plays back correctly at 16:9.


22 May, 2009

Blu-Ray loads a lot slower than DVD!

Posted by: Kristian In: Gadgets|Technology

panasonic-blu-rayI recently bought a Panasonic DMP-BD605 Blu-Ray player. When I tried to play a Blu-Ray movie, I found that it loads a lot slower than DVD! Some google searches reveal that slow loading is a common problem amongst Blu-Ray players. The quickest Blu-Ray player happens to be the PlayStation 3.

The following video demonstrates how long it takes to load a disc and navigate to the main menu, using a regular DVD and a Blu-Ray disc. I used a Panasonic DMP-BD605 with firmware version 1.5 and Quickstart enabled

Here are the summarized results :

Load Times (min:sec)
Initial load Go to Top Menu
DVD 0:31 0:06
Blu-Ray 1:10 1:03

As you can see, the Blu-Ray takes more than twice to initially load a disc versus a DVD. What’s worse, navigating to the Top menu takes over 10 times longer on a Blu-Ray disc versus a DVD. I cannot believe that people tolerate this kind of latency when they are used to the shorter times on a DVD. It gets to a point that it is way too slow for my taste and I am seriously considering to return this Blu-Ray player.

The picture quality of Blu-Ray is unmatched for sure, but I’ll be happy to wait a few more years until load times become more acceptable.


12 May, 2009

Genuine Childlike Faith

Posted by: Kristian In: Christianity|Family

On Mother’s Day, we had church service as usual at Great Exchange Fremont. At the end of the service, our kids joined us to give the moms gifts. When it was time for the benediction, Joshua ran on the stage and kneeled down in prayer… totally unexpectedly.

Whenever I see kids acting in genuine faith like this, I remember what happened when little children came to Jesus:

Mark 10:13-16 The Little Children and Jesus

 13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

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11 May, 2009

So much to do, so little time!

Posted by: Kristian In: Leadership|Technology

Have you ever wished you had more hours in the day? Did you ever find yourself juggling many things at once? I struggle with this often, and find myself spread thin at times. When there are so many things going on, it is also a challenge to focus on priorities, and to remember all tasks that matter. One principle that stuck with me from Servant Leadership is the principle of focused prioritization.

Although I have tried to manage priorities before using todo lists, it had been somewhat a challenge to do so using off-line solutions. What I needed was an on-line solution that was easily accessible anywhere. I found this app in Google Tasks.

Google Tasks allows you to jot down your todo list, and access it on-line or through your mobile device. I thought that it was quite useful as an orgnizational tool. Here is a screen shot of what such a task list would look like:



06 May, 2009

National Day of Prayer

Posted by: Kristian In: Christianity

girl-prayingMay 7th, 2009 is the National Day of Prayer! In 1952, congress established the National Day of Prayer to be the first Thursday of May.
Let’s all come together to pray for our Nation, our leaders, and our local communities.
Read the rest of this entry »



My name is Kristian Widjaja and I am married to my beautiful wife, Yuliany Widjaja. We have two kids who keep us busy at all times!

I have started this blog, primarily to jot down random thoughts that I have, as well as to document some interesting projects that I have done around the home.