Fixing the Mazda 2 AUX jack

So my 2010 Mazda 2 started to act up on me a few months ago – At first I had to jiggle the Aux cable a few times to be able to switch to Aux  input, but after a whiIe I had to use one hand to hold the plug in at just the right angle and another hand to press the Aux button on the control. A bit difficult to do while driving…

As it turns out, this is actually a common problem in Mazda vehicles, caused by their use of two pins to detect the insertion of the jack. The pins are supposed to be shorted out when the jack is inserted but after a while the pins wear down or get loose and the stereo is not able to sense that an AUX cable has been inserted. According to this YouTube video, the solution is to short out the two pins permanently, so here goes…

First, we have to open up the console. Press in and pull up the front of the console:

This will reveal the cables connecting to the lighter and the auxiliary (AUX) port. Carefully pull out the connector for the Aux port and note the wires connecting to the Aux connector. On my car, there were five wires: pink, black, white, red and green. The middle black, white and red wires presumably carry the audio signal while the pink and green wires are used to detect the insertion of the plug.

According to the video mentioned above, pins 2 and 6 have to be shorted, but note that that video refers to a US (?) Mazda 3 and other forum posts mention different pin numbers for other Mazda models. So, first thing to do is to check which pins to short. I just used a short length of wire to short out the pink and green wires and confirm that I could now select AUX using the control button.

VERY IMPORTANT ! The method I used is a destructive method so be very, very sure that you have the correct wires before cutting them.

I cut the pink (#2) and green (#6) wires and shorted them together. In retrospect, I think the green (#6) wire was actually ground and shorting wire #2 (pink) to ground is probably the signal to indicate insertion of the Aux plug. It would have been smarter to cut the wires 1 cm away from the connector and use a crimp connector to short the pink and green wires together so that it would have been easier to reverse the process, but that’s 20/20 hindsight. This is what I actually did: I just cut the pink and green wires, stripped a little bit of the ends and wrapped them together.

After putting everything back together again, I am now able to switch between radio and AUX using the button and even though I cut the green (ground ?) wire there doesn’t seem to any static or other interference so far.

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Watching the watchers


Originally published under the title “An eye for an eye” in the Computer Times supplement of The Straits Times on Aug 13, 2003

In 1991, the Law Reform Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law proposed that Singapore adopt a Data Protection law to complement the Computer Misuse Act.

Over the next decade, many countries such as Canada, Australia and Hong Kong introduced new laws or strengthened existing laws on Privacy and Data Protection.

Singapore, in contrast, chose not to adopt any omnibus Privacy or Data Protection laws even though it enacted a far-reaching Computer Misuse Act.

This reflects the fact that, in Singapore, the balance between individual and group is tilted firmly in favour of the group. This was clearly seen in the Government’s response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak.

Surveillance cameras were installed in the homes of persons under quarantine. Confirmed and suspected Sars patients were compelled to reveal details of their movements and contacts under amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act.

During parliamentary debate on the amendments, only one MP, Mr Chiam See Tong, voiced concerns: The possibility that information collected by Health Ministry contact tracers could be misused.

He supported the Bill, on balance, and in view of the urgency of the situation. But Mr Chiam’s concern over possible abuse of personal information is certainly justified.

Several police officers have been convicted for using the Ministry of Home Affairs database to illegally obtain personal information about other people.

Sars contact tracers are covered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) but the OSA has primarily been used to guard the Government’s secrets not individuals’.

Other laws such as the Income Tax Act and Statistics Act specifically prohibit the disclosure of information obtained under the respective Acts.

The Census Act also provides that information collected during a census cannot be used as evidence for prosecution of offences under other Acts. It is unfortunate that no similar safeguards were built into the Infectious Diseases Act.

One positive development in Privacy protection in Singapore has been the incorporation into law of ‘fair information principles’ as they apply to the Consumer Credit Bureau.

The bureau is required to ensure that all the data it collects is used only under specified purposes. They are: accurate and up-to-date; accessible to the subject; kept secure; and destroyed after a specified time

The right of access to our own credit reports is a landmark in Singapore privacy law. Up until now, individuals have not had a right of access to personal information held on them by government departments or businesses.

Ironically, while we have no right to view our own medical records, health care providers are not legally obliged to protect the confidentiality of our medical records.

In the Simon Shorvon scandal, pharmacies at two hospitals released the names of patients taking a certain drug to Dr Shorvon even though he had no legitimate use for that information. Had the pharmacies put more robust patient confidentiality rules in place, the scandal might well not have taken place.

The National Trust Council has finalised its Data Protection Code but because it is voluntary and intended primarily to promote e-commerce rather than to protect individuals, it is of very limited value to people seeking to protect their privacy.

Some recent events illustrate the difference in the Government’s response to surveillance technology when it is used by individuals rather than by the Government itself.

In the first incident, a Raffles Junior College (RJC) student used a personal digital assistant to videotape his teacher berating another student and tearing up the student’s notes. This video eventually made its way onto the Internet and resulted in a reprimand for the camera-wielding pupil.

The college’s principal spoke of ‘betrayal’. Indeed, government ministers lost no time in admonishing the student for the irresponsible use of technology.

Barely two months prior to the incident, the Government had been busy installing video cameras in the homes of people placed under Sars Quarantine Orders.

The Police have also announced that they will be setting up a network of 30 video cameras in Little India, Boat Quay and Newton Hawker Center to deter trouble-makers.

It seems odd for the principal of RJC to assert a right to privacy in the classroom when, by design, a classroom is filled with students who are supposed to be taking notes. The ‘privacy’ that the principal is talking about is really the freedom from accountability.

In the words of author David Brin: ‘Whenever a conflict appears between privacy and accountability, people demand the former for themselves and the latter for everybody else.’

In his book, The Transparent Society, Brin recognises that advances in technology are inevitable and that they result in ubiquitious surveillance.

In a controversial leap, he then argues that this may be a good thing and that we should welcome it but only if the surveillance is two-way.

If governments and corporations have the power to shine a torchlight onto the lives of individuals, citizens – all individuals -must also have the power to shine the torchlight back at the mighty and the strong.

The question facing society, then, is not whether it should ban cameras (a moot point as it’s not negotiable), but rather who should control the cameras.

Disconcerting as his arguments may be to privacy fundamentalists, Brin poses a key question: is the loss of privacy that technology brings acceptable – even desirable – if that same technology leads to greater accountability for those in power

In Singapore, what would happen if the Land Transport Authority (LTA) takes a different approach to privacy in Electronic Road Pricing and asks its CEO and board of directors to install satellite-based in-vehicle units (IU) in their cars, and to publish their real-time locations on a publicly-accessible website – just as the authority can monitor the movements of other motorists.

Changes in technology may be inevitable. But it is people who write the rules that govern how they use technology and where to delineate the boundaries of privacy.

To paraphrase Acting Minister for Manpower Dr Ng Eng Hen, individuals must be responsible in their use of technology – and the government even more so.

Ngiam Shih Tung is an engineer in a multi-national aviation company.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza in perspective compared to Singapore

image

Map of reported Israeli airstrikes and ground engagements in Gaza, overlaid on map of Singapore. Gaza is even smaller than Singapore, roughly 40km long x 6-12 km wide, in comparison to mainland Singapore’s, 40 km x 20 km. Israel has declared 44% of Gaza off-limits in the present offensive, so 1.8 million Gazans are squeezed into an area of 200 sq km, less than one-third of Singapore. In that light, the 1,000-plus Palestinian casualties, most incurred over the last few days, are hardly surprising. Though I suppose Israel’s defenders would argue that the casualty rate would be even higher if Israel did not follow such strict rules of engagement.

Red areas in the Singapore map represent what the URA calls “special uses” in its Master Plan. What that usually means is military facility. Note the presence of SAF bases immediately next door to Jurong West, Woodlands, Yishun and several other HDB estates.

Sources:
http://www.mapmash.in/gaza.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28458377
URA Master Plan

Singapore’s DNC exemption is not a soft opt-in

The Personal Data Protection Comission (PDPC) has argued that the existing customer exemption was introduced to give consumers the choice of receiving promotional messages and also that other countries such as the UK had similar exemptions. These arguments are red herrings: Even without the exemption, individuals always had the choice of giving consent to receive promotional messages and the UK “soft opt-in” rules for existing customers require that individuals must be given a chance to opt out at the time their data was initially collected.

Had they wanted to, the PDPC could have implemented a “soft opt-in” in Singapore even without an exemption order. Considering that businesses had more than a year to prepare for the implementation of the DNC after the Act was passed, the PDPC could have encouraged businesses to make use of that window to get consent from their customers. Instead, the PDPC created a permanent exemption which inverts the basic premise of Data Protection that individuals have the right to control how their personal information is used. Instead of the default position being that businesses should not use a person’s data without permission, the default has been inverted such that the company has the right to send promotional messages until consent is withdrawn.

Granted, the fact is that most businesses did not prepare in advance and did not get express or implied consent to send marketing messages even to customers with whom they had an on-going relationship.  A hard stop once DNC kicked in may have been quite disruptive to many companies. Had a public consultation been held, I could have lived with a time-limited exemption under which businesses would be given a limited time, say one year, to get consent from their existing customers to send marketing messages. This would not be unduly onerous to businesses – If they claim to have an “ongoing relationship”, they should certainly be contacting that customer at least once a year anyway. Unfortunately, there was no public consultation so now we are stuck with a permanent exemption which subverts one of the basic principles of Data Protection.

Of the DNC, the White Paper and Our Singapore Conversation

Six MPs have submitted questions for Monday’s Parliament sitting regarding the implementation of the Do Not Call registry. Unfortunately, none of the questions directly address the fact that the government changed the regulations at the last minute without any public consultation. To recap, the government announced in 2011 that it would finally be introducing Data Protection legislation, some 22 years after the government first created a committee to study the issue. A Do Not Call (DNC) registry was to be included in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and three rounds of public consultation were held before the Act was passed by parliament in 2012.  The DNC registry opened for registration on 2 Dec 2013, but one week before the DNC rules were due to come into effect on 2 Jan 2014, the government announced an exemption that would allow businesses to SMS and fax existing customers. Telemarketers cheered but individuals were shocked and dismayed by the sudden weakening of a long-anticipated law that Singaporeans had hoped would protect them from junk calls and messages.

We can argue over whether the exemption is in fact “pragmatic” and “reasonable” or similar to other country’s rules, but the fact is that the government changed the rules at the last minute, without warning and without any public consultation, in stark contrast to the far more open and transparent manner in which the PDPA and DNC rules were originally drafted. Three rounds of public consultation were held, and unless the commenter requested otherwise, all comments were published on the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), now Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), website.  It was very much the open, transparent, consultative approach to policy making associated with the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) and which Singaporeans hoped to see more of.

Yet once the rubber hit the road, the government fell back to its old, familiar method of formulating and implementing public policy.  The government decided what was best for us behind closed doors and that was that. In other words, it’s the Population White Paper all over again.  Just as the government views us as economic digits in calculating its target population for Singapore, the PDPC refers to us as “consumers” rather than as “individuals”. But of course, to be “consumers”, we have to consume and companies have to have a way to sell to us.  The PDPC’s repeated claims that the exemption was made in the interests of consumers is at best paternalistic and at worst an attempt to turn black into white, just as they initially claimed that businesses never raised the issue of existing customers until after the close of public consultations. Ironically, one of the members of the PDPC had suggested that a public message board be created to take in ideas, views and comments as part of the National Conversation. In Arun Mahizhnan‘s words, “Such transparency will go a long way to pacify the widespread perception that the government is selective in its hearing and self-serving in its sharing. After decades of careful orchestration of what the public says or hears in public, the completely transparent modus operandi on the part of the government will be refreshing and reassuring.” He goes on to say, “If the government explains its rationale for selecting only certain ideas for further consideration clearly and carefully, the fallout should be manageable.”. While not completely open, the Data Protection public consultations held in 2011-2012 were fairly close to this ideal. In contrast, the process by which the existing customer exemption was created in 2013 was policy-reversal by fait accompli. The PDPC only grudgingly acknowledged there was even a policy reversal at all, let alone give a rationale for making the change. We most certainly were not given any chance to present counter-arguments against the exemption.

We have seen in 2013 two contrasting faces of the PAP. There was the PAP of the White Paper – arrogant, paternalistic, top-down – and the PAP of the OSC – open, consultative, touchy-feely.  Much as the DNC exemption is, on the scale of things, a storm in a teacup, we can again see both sides of the government. During the initial public consultations for the Data Protection Act, we saw the open, consultative PAP of the OSC but when the DNC exemption was inserted without prior warning, we saw again the old arrogant, paternalistic, top-down and secretive PAP . So which is the real PAP ? Come 2016, which PAP will be voting for ?

What do Doctors know ?

During my first year at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, I sat chatting one day with some classmates about the program’s difficulty. A professor overhead us and tried to allay our fears. “Don’t worry too much about grades,” he said,

When you think you know everything, they give you a Bachelor’s degree. Then when you realize that you don’t know anything, they give you a Master’s. And when you find out that you don’t know anything, but neither does anyone else,” he continued, “they give you a Doctorate.”

Reader’s Digest, May 1991, p145, “Humor in uniform,” contributed by Blake D. Huguenin