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Website Updates

3rd January 2014 • Posted in Website

With the website approaching three years old, I look at updating the website by looking at the coding, changing, improving and amending it to make it more user friendly as well as a personal challenge to see how far I can go in web design technology.

With the website being stable, all of the designs and layouts complete as well as having a website that functions as it should be, you’d think I’d be more laid back and just let the website do its thing; attract visitors to my site, but the truth is this, I always like to ‘tinker’ with my website and would want to make it work better.

Currently my website is desktop orientated with my blog page mobile orientated with a different theme, but with many people using tablets and phones to view website information, it seems natural to aim for a website that is optimised for those devices.

So I’ve now come to the conclusion that I would like to optimise my website to cover mobile and tablet devices. Why you may ask? Well as I have mentioned earlier, more and more people use mobile devices but its due in part to potential employers having a quick view after meeting someone.

Imagine the scenario. I have introduced myself to a potential employer, I have talked about myself, I have given that person my details which includes my website. That person would then (depending on the meeting) may choose to investigate further and uses his/her phone or tablet to find out more about me.

It is that approach which is driving me to create a mobile friendly version of my website. But it does come at a cost. I spend more time to make it work and to do that I need to research the techniques to make it happen, test it and refine it so that it works effectively for all types of devices. The other matter is to make the design consistent throughout and not like the situation now with the blog posts in particular where in mobile format the default mobile theme for WordPress is used and not of my website design.

As I write in 2014, Farnborough Airshow is around the corner and for that I would like to impress potential employers that I do have the ability to be flexible and dynamic as well as being creative in the way I tackle problems. Sure it’s not actually a traditional engineering problem I’m solving but the techniques and the solutions gained in website design is similar to some engineering problems faced today.

2013 Review

31st December 2013 • Posted in Joseph Cheung

Joseph Ho-wing Cheung Logo

Joseph Ho-wing Cheung Logo

I take a look back over the past year and think what have I done and what I hope to do for my future career plans.

Volunteering

Volunteering in 2013 has been memorable for a few notable things including taking part in HMS Belfast’s 75th birthday celebrations, restoring an RAF Accumulator Trolley and being given a long service award at both HMS Belfast and at RAF Museum London.

HMS Belfast

With HMS Belfast celebrating 75 years I was there to help support firing the official rounds from the 4-inch guns whilst the BBC recorded live at the bow with the Sea Cadets and HMS Belfast Veterans.

Then during the weekend volunteers including myself continued the celebrations with simulated firings from the 4-inch guns to demonstrate what volunteers can do and also give visitors a dramatic experience as to what the gun firings can be like.

RAF Museum

Trolley Accumulator

Trolley Accumulator

At the RAF Museum London however, I have been busy working with other volunteers on the Trolley Accumulator. This project was given to me the previous year with the view of conserving the unit for the unusual nature of having the engine sitting on the trolley; in the eyes of the RAF Museum this is unique because no other example is known or shown in the RAF Museum itself.

The project started slowly as I was overwhelmed by the project and a distinct lack of manpower consisting of me and one other volunteer who was actually in charge of the engine on top while I was in charge of the trolley below it.

I received generous help and support from the vehicle crew which was only done because they recognized that I couldn’t do all the work by myself and as it is a ground vehicle, they felt it would be better to collaborate with me as part of the aircraft restoration team.

Trolley Accumulator Damage

Trolley Accumulator Damage

With that in mind most of the work was actually done by myself doing the simplest tasks of removing, paint stripping, rust converting and eventually painting with the obvious help of the volunteers at the time. But as with some projects there would be some problems and for me that included the accidental damage done to the bottom of the box in which I accidentally left a great big hole while trying to get the box of the chassis.

In the first instance it was a bad thing but it has taught me that accidents will eventually happen and so I took advantage of this by ensuring that whatever repair is done its done as properly as possible and so I used the knowledge of the various volunteer teams to get a consensus as to how to repair it.

Long Service Awards

2013 is the year I finally celebrated my long service awards with the two museums I’ve been with. At the RAF Museum I was given my bronze “wings” to help signify having been a volunteer for over 3 years (which was actually passed in 2012). Normally this type of award was to be given during the Director Generals meeting, I was given my “wings” on my volunteering day instead.

Joseph Cheung receiving Volunteer Long Service Award by the Director General (Diane Lees) of the Imperial War Museum

Joseph Cheung receiving Volunteer Long Service Award by the Director General (Diane Lees) of the Imperial War Museum

Volunteer Long Service Award [2013] (Joseph Cheung)

Volunteer Long Service Award [2013] (Joseph Cheung)

At the Imperial War Museum, I was awarded a certificate directly by the Director General at the Churchill War Rooms (CWR) in which I also spent time at the museum to uphold my citation at the event doing photography of the war rooms itself.

I look back at the awards and think that volunteering has been the greatest decision. This is so because I have never really had much luck in the past, but I think by being more open and willing to change as well as learn I can make the most of it and actually enjoy it.

It is that enjoyment that I get the most satisfaction and I will look back and think it is something I can transfer to a longer term job in the future.

Airsofting

2013 has also been an airsofting year with the help of my friend going to two Milsim events under the name of ‘Operation Gravity’ and ‘Operation Thors Hammer’ both using an army training area at Bramley.

During Operation Gravity it was the first time I used a head camera to capture footage during the event, much is rather similar to actual armed forces personnel who do the same thing in theaters of war but I chose to record to personally show what I do in my spare time.

One dramatic event was a surprise attack on an enemy base which was one of the highlights of the event on that week and this was done because part of the ‘special forces’ groups was restless and wanted to do something as well as demonstrating a show of force to the enemy.

One of the highlights in Operation Thors Hammer was to take part in the QRF role supporting one of the special forces by running towards their location this was so because they obviously was in trouble.

But my favourite was actually taking part of the reconnaissance patrol to gather intelligence which meant having to sneak around the enemy encampments and then listening to the instructions while having the feeling of apprehension knowing the enemy were about.

Joseph Cheung CQB Airsofting

Joseph Cheung CQB Airsofting

It’s not just milsim, there’s the normal skirmish stuff at airsoft sites and I tried out at ‘The School’ for CQB runs as well as trying out some newer stuff which included a helmet and a closely fitted vest which both helps when being shot at, at very close quarters as it can be a bit painful for a short time.

It was also at this point when I ask about the future of the armed forces for me.

I’ve been an air cadet in the past and actually enjoyed the special moments I was given but it also gave me perspective that it’s not an easy job to be a member of the armed forces.

Had I been given proper careers advise I’d probably would have considered joining the armed forces but in my current situation the reserves would be just as appropriate given that I already give voluntary time to two museums. Joining up as part of the reserves would be the same but done in line of military doctrine.

Computers

IMAG0252For years I have been looking at either upgrading or building a computer and in 2013 I had managed to get in place plans to fully build a new computer. A new computer was needed because the old computer was struggling to meet the demands of my current needs as well as the hardware about to fail.

Everything went to plan during research but the plans put in place were hurried when the old computer decided to completely fail as I was ordering the new computer parts. But as I had planned in advanced I was able to have a list of components to get as well as already saving money doing overtime at work.

I had managed to save the situation by pushing ahead the plans and eventually getting the computer up and running… For a few months that is…

One night the new computer just stopped working and when trying to find out what the problem is I thought it was one of two things. I thought it was either a motherboard problem or a power supply problem.

As it turned out it was the power supply problem, but not after damaging the motherboard’s CPU pins and buying both a new motherboard and power supply unit. So eventually the overall computer project actually went over budget as well as leaving a sour note but the up side is having a powerful computer which allowed me to do more as well as enjoy more.

Multimedia

2013 has been a quiet year for multimedia with the exception of doing video work during airsofting but also on a rare occasion to record at the Imperial War Museum including a visit to Duxford driving about in a modified tank.

It’s been quiet because of a lack of money to go to airshows and the money spent on building a new computer which at the same time was needed so that I could do multimedia editing as the old computer could not handle the loads.

It was also the time in which I had been experimenting on different types of recording, including recording on my mobile phone as well as recording test footage on my computer during a Kerbal Space Program game simulation.

The Cenotaph

The Cenotaph

As for photography there was only three notable exceptions in that two were at RAF Northolt during a night shoot photographing aircraft on the pan as well as a brief night shoot in central London.

Website

As the website had now reached two years old I had felt that there wasn’t much to do, especially in the early half of the year owing to a need for a new computer but as soon as I had a new computer I then took a short review to look at what else needed to be done.

In the blog section I had looked at how to make the category menu to work effectively, working similarly to the BBC News website menu structure, that is when you click on a menu link, if that link had sub categories then only those sub categories would show otherwise it would be left blank.

In the latter part of 2013 I had done some research and development on this idea and had a brief working example but decided to hold off until it was refined to work properly which means that in 2014 I hope to have it working if possible.

The other think that I did to the blog section was to include an index page links at the bottom of the page if viewing on the main blog page or in a category section or in archive mode. I also added on each blog post at the end a before and after post link to allow for continuity from one blog post to another.

Small features like this I think help to add value as well as giving me the satisfaction to make things work given the amount of time and effort needed to tackle a complex and sometimes confusing coding that is needed to work.

Careers

2013 hasn’t been much of a careers year which included a rejection from Monarch Aircraft Engineering’s apprenticeship position but also a few rejections from British Airways which also included one position which seems to be an administrative role supporting the line engineers in the paperwork process; something vital in aircraft maintenance.

However working in retail part-time I have slowly developed the softer skills and experiences to my life which included better communication as well as time and priority management and eventually taking a part-time role as customer services assistant which involves direct face-to-face talk to customers and other staff to resolve issues with the trick in not getting the customer to be angry if told they are not allowed to do a return or refund for any specific reason.

It wasn’t, however, until the latter part of 2013 when I then look back since leaving university and think what would benefit me more moving forwards career wise and it wasn’t until I thought that looking at education may help further.

In previous years I had gained extra qualifications in Aviation Heritage Skills which not only boosted my confidence and ability but also gave me extra depth and breath in how to apply education to employment. While I use what I know from my experiences in education in the past to good effect, concentrating on one subject (aircraft maintenance) and applying it has been difficult.

The Monarch Aircraft Engineering apprenticeship position is an example as I have a problem with mental aptitude tests because of my confidence with maths (in particular) is not so strong and I think that with a greater emphasis in improving my maths ability would probably have given me a better standing in getting a job.

Other problems in getting jobs included a lack of a driving licence as most of the jobs I have viewed need a driving licence. The problem with this is that I have a ‘chicken or the egg problem’. While I can get a driving licence its how that is the problem i.e. I can raise money from my part-time work to get a driving licence but it can take months to get but if done at a company who has given a job to me the pay would not only be better but can be used to get a driving licence.

Many companies reject me on the basis that I don’t have a driving licence and so I have a problem in that while I want to get a better job with better pay I can’t get that because of that simple limitation and to make matters worse, as I have said getting one will take time for me, so by the time I look at that job post it would be too late.

Final Thoughts

2013 hasn’t been the year I’ve broken new career grounds but 2013 has been a year of some investment and improvement for the future. It has also been something of a reflective year as I look and think what steps to take in the future.

On the career side, it hasn’t been successful, two companies in particular decided not to take my services but looking back it’s mostly due to either a lack of preparation or a lack of requirement such as a driving licence. Something I am very keen to now pursue for 2014.

Volunteering has gone from strength to strength, especially at the RAF Museum London with the Trolley Accumulator trolley. On board HMS Belfast it has been quiet with moments of interest around the 4-inch and 6-inch gun recordings but this quietness is due to part-time job restrictions, restricting the amount of time I can give on board during the weekdays.

Airsofting has increased my self confidence as well as self determination to act on something because it takes up time as well as investment into the sport, encouraged by a good friend of mine, the sport itself has re-ignited my interest in the military and the possibility for being part of the UK armed forces reserve.

I had previously tried to join the RAF as a regular but couldn’t pass the aptitude tests and it has been a problem ever since but with that in mind that is a problem with any other company I am looking to join, but with the reserves there are two things that interest me, the military ethos as well as the flexibility between normal day jobs and the military itself.

The flexibility is also something I am willing to do when considering the armed forces reserve because there isn’t that much of a time constraint for me, I can consider my final decision at a later time and it is something I can consider walking away from if need be; the same view when volunteering on board HMS Belfast as if I need to take a job that requires my time I can and will if necessary give up my voluntary position for that particular job.

Overall, 2013 has been a mixed but quiet affair as I now consider how to make 2014 work, I have already laid new foundations to make which includes the necessity of a driving licence as well as looking at ways to pass aptitude tests as I look at the possibility of going back to education. Fitness is something I’m now keen to look and work at, not just to feel better but to help me if I decide to be part of the armed forces reserve.

2014 hopefully is a year for advancement and development as well as continued investment and research into new and better career advancements.

IWM Volunteer Long Service Award

21st December 2013 • Posted in HMS Belfast, Volunteering

Joseph Cheung receiving Volunteer Long Service Award by the Director General (Diane Lees) of the Imperial War Museum

Joseph Cheung receiving Volunteer Long Service Award by the Director General (Diane Lees) of the Imperial War Museum

Every year the Imperial War Museum’s London Branches holds a unique event for Volunteers and until now has introduced Long Service Awards to those who have reached five years or more. I was given one in recognition for my services to the IWM at the Churchill War Rooms in central London.

I was awarded the certificate at the Churchill War Rooms (also known as the Cabinet War Rooms) (CWR) and had been warmly invited after coming in from the cold outside. I was surprised upon arriving to receive a list of other recipients along with a short excerpt in which mine was:

A Warship Conservation Volunteer on HMS Belfast. One of the younger members of the team, and a keen photographer, Joseph has been able to develop his interests in both engineering and photography in support of the ship during his time on board.

For me it seemed very fitting because I combined two of the most important subjects into one and help use my new experiences to support what I enjoy. It was at this point sitting chatting to other volunteers and staff that I look back and think of the experiences gained whilst volunteering.

In The Beginning

I’ve probably mentioned this a number of times in previous blog posts but how I became a volunteer with the Imperial War Museum came about after leaving university and wondering what to do. I was lucky to have a one-to-one session with a careers adviser at the Royal Aeronautical Society.

During the discussion one thing stood out. A lack of employment history. The advise was to look at volunteering organisations and in the end looked at a few places which included the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, the London Transport Museum and IWM Duxford.

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum initially interested me from an engineering point of view because of my engineering background but after contacting the museum it seemed they did not have any positions available at the time.

The London Transport Museum was on the list because I actually love London Transport and the history behind it but I also very interested in the vehicles especially buses and underground trains, but they turned me down.

Interestingly both of those museums understood my aviation engineering background and both suggested IWM Duxford but I rapidly dismissed this option because it was:

  1. expensive to travel
  2. it takes a long time travelling to and from the museum
  3. given the popularity at airshows it often attracts hundreds if not thousands of volunteers following the same career path as I want to now lead

All seemed lost until I actually was directed to look at volunteering on board HMS Belfast which at the time looked for volunteers who had a technical background and a passion for looking after a warship.

Warship Conservation Volunteer

As a Warship Conservation Volunteer I rapidly found out that I have some very interesting and exclusive access to the ship as well as working on interesting aspects of the ships armaments.

Working on a 40mm BOFOR gun, 4-inch Gun Mount, 6-inch Guns and the Gun Directors as well as helping out working on a crane, the Bridge Wireless Office and the Admirals Bridge during my five years has allowed me to view conservation and engineering in a very different dimension.

Copyright © 2012 (All Rights Reserved) Joseph Ho-wing CheungWorking on the 40mm BOFOR gun mount was interesting because it was the first project I worked on as well as using some engineering/technical knowledge to overcome a problem encountered on the project. The problem was that the mount had not moved for over 30 years. After inspecting the mount and looking at the available information for the mount I worked the problem by slowly de-greasing and moving the gun.

Over the years I had then grown an interest in photography, something I had experimented on when I was at college but then stopped. I took it up primarily because I was working in a photographic shop and had photographic equipment but also because I had access to HMS Belfast I took upon the opportunity to photograph the ship as well as learning the basics of photography in a very challenging condition.

Over time I became more and more confident in the photographic equipment and every now and again I would supply photos to the Imperial War Museum, in particular for the volunteer magazine.

The definite highlight during my time is two things. The first is helping to maintain the 4-inch guns, including loading, firing and unloading. It’s a great pride for me to be allowed to do such a thing because you could only do it if you had the passion, determination as well as discipline and trust because you are dealing with blank ammunition to fire the guns.

The other highlight is doing working maintenance to the 6-inch guns. While not so glamorous when you have to get your hands dirty, crawl in tight spaces as well as work while the public are watching you, its satisfying for me because like with the 4-inch guns I was trusted to work on the guns by climbing ladders up and down greasing and servicing the guns.

Long Service Award

Volunteer Long Service Award [2013] (Joseph Cheung)

Volunteer Long Service Award [2013] (Joseph Cheung)

The long service award was given to me by the Director General at the Churchill War Rooms. The award means a lot to me because when I had an interview to be a volunteer I was asked the question ‘how long could you give us?’ and at the time I had no answer but was suggested ‘six months’. After five years I now look back and think it has been the best decision I have made after leaving university.

I do think that during my time I have most definitely learnt new ways of working as well as learning. I have thought of volunteering as a go between work and career but actually can be successfully combined to be one as a stepping stone to greater things.

Working on interesting projects is not just work its pride and satisfaction and to also look after important and notable aspects of the ship has meant that I grow in ever greater confidence.

What Does This Mean?

I was asked at the event after my award what would happen if I was to get my ideal job (becoming an aircraft engineer) in relation to volunteering on board HMS Belfast. My reply was that if I had to choose I would have to take the career job first over volunteering HMS Belfast. The reason is simple. Career always generates better rewards both financially and personally whereas volunteering provides the satisfaction you know what you are doing given time to do it.

The average age of volunteers on the ship are of an older generation and from that I gather some very important insights into the past as well as an insight into the finer technical details of engineering from certain volunteers and staff members on the ship.

I would like to move forward into a career in aircraft engineering because that is where I want to be and having spent over five years volunteering I am kind of prepared to leave it for a future career when the time comes.

From a career perspective, skills and experiences count and from being a volunteer on board a ship there have been a few notable skills and experiences that I know would help me serve in an aircraft maintenance engineer industry. Things like learning how to move around structures; parts of the ship mean you have to watch where you step as well as where you move your head (I’ve lost count how many times I’ve bumped into things) put into context around an aircraft I now watch where I place my step and be more mindful of my surroundings.

I’ve learnt to be more self disciplined and to be trustworthy like dealing with blank ammunition, loading the 4-inch guns for simulated firings. I’ve worked to maintain the 4-inch guns and 6-inch guns alone, cleaning, fixing and greasing where necessary.

I’ve built a friendly and sometimes professional relationship between other volunteers and members of staff who’ve helped to give their valued advice as well as working together to work on special projects as well as being part of a team to get jobs done.

One of the most important skills and experiences I would like to share after volunteering on HMS Belfast is to keep an open mind and look at the possibilities given the resources and knowledge available. I’ve often used information from sources like the National Heritage Skills Initiative (NAHSI) a course taken whilst volunteering at the RAF Museum London and looking at how to use resources appropriately or where necessary to make a conservation project work.

Having an open mind for me means I can look at something in a different perspective as well as accepting any mistakes or suggestions that would make things work which makes me more open to future improvements.

I have always wanted to use volunteering as a way to break through the career barriers that the past have closed but I wouldn’t want to change it any other way because otherwise I wouldn’t have an interesting story to tell about my past.

Menu Madness

17th November 2013 • Posted in Website

Menus help users get from point A to point B in the shortest possible routes but also serve to help organise and manage links and information. For over a year I’ve been trying to add a sub-menu within the blog section of this page…

As I’ve said for over a year I’ve been looking at trying to make a sub-menu of category links so that when you click on a parent link and there are sub-menus (child links) then the sub-menu links show but no other sub-menus from other categories show.

For example if you clicked “Joseph Cheung” in the menu above and there is a sub-menu available, then that sub-menu should be shown but if there are other sub-menus in other parent links they are not shown unless the parent link is selected first.

Looking behind the scenes within the coding for the blog it’s complicated trying to decipher WordPress’s use of certain codes to make menus work. To make matters worse there are various methods to make it work.

What I would like to do is to create a menu system that follows a certain CSS code that is being used throughout my website but follows the rules in only showing sub-menus of a category that has it.

So for the time being I look into this matter and think how to resolve this but personally ask anyone who can help in giving suggestions I can make this work

The Computer Project: Headaches And Heartaches

18th September 2013 • Posted in Activities

So I have a computer, spent a lot of money, set it up how I wanted and then it goes pop! What do you do? How do you sort it out?

On the 23 August 2013 at approximately 2052 hours, my computer stopped working. Early indications indicated that while the computer was running the computer just powered off.

Further investigations led to either the motherboard or the power supply unit (PSU) had failed. Looking into more detail it was indicated that power was going through the motherboard with LED indications on the motherboard indicating power input but no power to the fans or the hard drive.

The first part of the problem was trying to identify if the motherboard was the problem, so I decided to remove the motherboard and send it off under warranty. The problem with that was as I removed the motherboard and placed the CPU protective cover, I placed the plastic cover onto the CPU pins on the motherboard and not on top of the cage latch instead. The meant that I had bent the pins and effectively damaged the motherboard beyond repair.

The other problem was getting a new motherboard at short notice. Once installed however it was realised that the PSU was the main fault and so the next problem was spending more money on replacing the PSU and this meant having to compromise after having no working computer for almost a month.

The headache comes from realizing that putting in a new motherboard without removing the previous motherboard’s drivers will cause some problems and I compounded that problem after installing the new motherboard’s drivers.

Even so, I have one major problem in that when trying to shutdown or restart the computer the operating system seems to fully shutdown the operating system itself but does not command the hardware within to shut down or restart forcing me to manually shut down or reset the power buttons. This is not ideal.

The other headache is noticing a few glitches in the way the software is interacting with the hardware, which in both cases indicates driver issues which I will be dealing with for some time to come. An example is that the driver is not controlling the fans, in particular the CPU fan which means I have a terrible whine and noise emanating from my PC case.

Two options are available. The first is to continue computer operations as normal (the computer operating system and general running is perfectly fine) the second is to reformat the hard drive and re-install the operating system and the drivers in the hope that would resolve the issues outlined (which is not preferable).

I’m for the former option as I have a working computer but the issues do not hinder the overall operation of use and sorting the problem could cause more problems than resolving it.

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