A Tale of Two Repairs

In the last six months I have had the pleasure with my washing machine and dishwasher both having issues. I’m a person who enjoys tinkering and problem solving which meant I met this challenge with both excitement and dread. My wife on the other hand was not necessarily as thrilled with the prospect of a machine needing repair or replacement and the associated costs.

The excitement for me was in learning something new and troubleshooting an issue. The dread was the cost of the repair versus buying new debate that waged. Where did I turn in a time such as this to solve the problem? It was a combination of YouTube, a local appliance repair store, and my father.

The first step in solving any issue is determining the issue and the symptoms. In the situation of the washing machine the machine would fill with water, go through the cycle, and drain. It would not how other spin or agitate which left the clothes soaking wet. This provided enough information that I could begin a search on the Internet for resolution of the issue. I had a guess as to the issue based upon listening to the machine but I needed evidence and validation in order to confirm the issue.

One possible issue could have been a bad switch and clogged line. This switch and line tell the system when it is time to turn off the water and move to the next stage. Through testing we confirmed this not to be the issue. The next possible issue could have been that the motor needed reset after a power surge. This involved turning the power off, back on, and lifting the lid rapidly five times in thirty seconds. This did not resolve the issue.

In talking with my father we both thought that the issue was the motor had gone bad (washing machine is 12 years old). In talking with the local appliance store they thought the same thing but they wanted me to check one more uncommon item. This is where having a local and honest store is an attribute to a town. The motor cost $300 and a new belt was another $30. They could have sold me a new motor and belt right then and there but there was a chance it wouldn’t have solved the issue.

My washing machine includes a wire that has a built in fuse which could have gone bad. They recommended cutting the fuse out and splicing the wire back together and see if it worked. We went home and tried this but it didn’t work. This meant that the next step in the troubleshooting process was a replacement of the motor.

The instructions provided for both the removal and installation of the motor were slim. I was able to locate a YouTube video the detailed this process with ease (it is always easier in the video). My father in law came over and helped put the belt on and the washer was repaired.

I tell this story in order to demonstrate how technology and human interaction must coexist in the world today. In the few hours I spent searching online trying to resolve the issue no resource had mentioned the fuse. The fuse could have saved me $350 and a few hours of work. It was through an experienced person in the field which mentioned the fuse as a courtesy when he could have sold me parts for $350 on my first visit. Life and the skills we learn are a series of experiences which all add value. We must learn to embrace technology but not quickly cast away the local store or the person with multiple years of experience.

AWS Connect

The upcoming weekend weather forecast is calling for inches of rain in the Ohio area. It would appear that we will be staying inside this weekend unless someone has a boat we can borrow. There are many activities which can occupy time when stuck in doors but I am plan on researching and building out an AWS Connect setup for fun.

AWS Connect is a call center offering from Amazon Web Services. Additional information can be found here. I am particularly interested in this service as a way to setup a voicemail box that doesn’t ring my regular phone. The idea is that you keep the cell phone number assigned private but instead could sign up for services which may sell the information without worry of the robocalls. Another example would be a number that would handle phone calls if you were in an accidental and the ambulance chasers kept calling.

Another question is how could I use this in my work or personal life? Stay tuned.

The Year of the Certification

As a lifelong learner I am constantly learning in an informal manner. The professional learning I focused on in 2019 centered around project management, regular expressions, and Python. These courses were completed through Udemy (www.udemy.com) and are of high quality. The Udemy courses created a just in time learning model which benefited me greatly. I took a course for Amazon Solutions Architect course in Udemy which was taught by the team over at acloud guru and I plan on purchasing a year subscription.

There are numerous resources online where I could have learned this information but the Udemy model stood out to me for a variety of reasons.

  • User Reviews
  • Question and Answer Forum
  • Quizzes
  • Videos (pause/rewind/rewatch)
  • Different “instructors” for the same topic

If I was in a Career Tech school setting I would be seriously looking into how Udemy could supplement the existing curriculum. This leads into the core subject of this post which is certifications .

In my experience, whether it is a fair assessment or not the real world values higher education diplomas and/or industry certifications for a job. If I’m hiring someone a diploma or certification may assist in helping me pair down candidates but there are other skills I’m looking for when doing an interview. A few of these skills are listed below:

  • Communication – How do they communicate with peers to explain an issue? This includes how do they explain an issue in a technical manner with their peers but also how do they explain that same issue in a non-technical answer?
  • Teamwork – How do they work in a cross functional team? Do they listen to feedback? How do they handle feedback?
  • Critical Thinking – We rely on standardized tests to determine how a student or district measures against another. The issue with relying on a standardized test though is that there is always a right answer. We know though in life there may not always be a right answer. When the answer for an issue isn’t a standard response how does a person react? How do they arrive at a solution?

The diploma or a certification certainly indicates commitment and understanding to a topic but in my opinion it doesn’t tell the entire story. In recognizing both sides of the equation my goal for 2020 is to obtain certifications in the areas listed below.