Monthly Archives: May 2011

Why is it so hard to figure out what’s wrong with an appliance?

Yesterday morning the house suddenly went black – except for the oven clock, which made it clear that the RCD had been tripped.  I went out and reset it, and then the fuse for one of the electrical circuits tripped.  After resetting that and having it not trip again, I checked a few suspects out and discovered that my washing machine was dead.  With a full load of water.  I powered it off at the wall and went about the rest of my morning, later siphoning it empty.  Checking again showed it still dead.

The next day I pulled the user interface off the front to diagnose which module had blown (fearing it was the notorious front panel), and in powering it up to check with a multimeter it came good.  Ish.  It mostly worked, but ended up lighting up the display in a way that was clearly an error code, and various combinations of functionality checking seemed to me that the agitator motor wasn’t working.

I suspected that the error code could tell me what exactly was the cause of the motor not working, but finding a Fisher & Paykel MW058U service manual is no easy task.  Finding the model number is surprisingly easy – wiggle the machine forward and on the back, helpfully slapped on upside-down is the full details of the machine (why it couldn’t be printed on the front panel art is beyond me).

Reading the manual made it clear that something bad had happened (one of motor wiring bad, motor bad, motor controller bad), and phoning a helpful call-out tech I discovered I could expect something around $300 to repair.  This is half the price of a new machine… so I guess we’ll go with repair.   As an aside: if I can provide a broad diagnosis, or at least model and error codes, why can’t some firms even provide a guesstimate on cost?

Skype: will it stay multiplatform?

So, as of today, Skype is available for:


  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux


  • Android
  • iPhone/iPad
  • Symbian (some Nokia and Sony Ericsson)

Now that Microsoft has bought Skype, it’ll be interesting to see which platforms are supported in, say, 6-12 months time. I bet Windows Phone 7 will be there, but will any disappear?

As Office Watch speculates:

Skype has benefited from being independent of any operating system or platform. If there’s sufficient users for an operating system, Skype made the necessary software. Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android etc, all have Skype downloads because it was in Skype’s corporate interest to have broad based coverage.

Now, that corporate interest has changed. Any Skype development will go through the filter of serving Microsoft’s broader corporate agenda. Despite Microsoft’s assurances, that will gradually change Skype into something that gives preference to Windows, Windows Phone and other Microsoft products.

Wired also has a good piece pondering why MS bought it.