Monday, September 30, 2013

RMPrepUSB Turns a Spare USB Drive into a Multi-OS Boot Disk

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Noteworthy+ Is a Free, Keyboard Driven Notes App for Your Menubar

Noteworthy+ Is a Free, Keyboard Driven Notes App for Your Menubar

Mac: You won't find a shortage of notes apps for the Mac of all shapes and sizes. Noteworthy+ isn't all that different, but it sits in the menubar, comes with handy keyboard shortcuts, and is completely free.

Noteworthy+ isn't packed with a lot of features like syncing or various themes. Instead, it keeps things simple with just a few settings and options. You can create a new note, add some formatting, and that's about it. The whole app can be used with keyboard shortcuts, so it's easy to navigate without futzing about in menus. Noteworthy+ certainly isn't for everyone, but it's worth a look if you just need a simple and free notes app that lives in your menubar.

Noteworthy+ (Free) | Mac App Store via One Thing Well

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Turn Your Phone Into A GPS Using K'nex!

0.8398670118367497IMAG3482.jpgImagine this: your lost in the wilderness on a lonely back road. You have no idea where you are and no way to find out. If only you had a way to find your way home! Luckily, you still have your cell phone and a box of K'nex in the trunk. It's time to make the (emergency) K'nex GPS/phone holder! This holder works for any rectangular device, such as the HTC EVO, iPhone, or Droid.* This can also be used as a dashcam to take video of any notable incidents while driving.0.3049666484996859IMG_20130615_210437.jpgYou will need: 16 white connectors; 8 blue connectors; 11 yellow connectors; 10 grey connectors; 8 green connectors; 14 red connectors; 75 green rods; 52 white rods; 5 blue rods; 4 black caps; 5 blue separators; 4 grey separators; 6 blue caps; and 2 green bendy rods.

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Make Your Own Delicious Ice Cream with Old Coffee Cans

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Creating Basic Floor Plans from an Architectural Drawing in AutoCAD

0.1 initial.PNGThese instructions will help you create clear and accurate floor plans from complicated construction documents. In today’s world the simpler and more concise a drawing or map is, the better and faster a person can use it for its intended purpose. These instructions can help you achieve this given you have a basic understanding of Autodesk Software/vector based computer aided drafting and, specifically, the commands and procedures within AutoCAD.

If unfamiliar with AutoCAD software please refer to  FlowJet Series parts 1 to 6  found on the Instructables website. 

Creating understandable floor plans from an architectural drawing will help you complete a Utah State University standard working single floor plan of a of approximately 10,000 square feet in 1.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your AutoCAD proficiency. The floor plans created may be used to calculate space and direction data for any and all who rely on them. These plans may even be able to provide hours of enjoyment when printed on paper that can be folded into a paper airplane!

Ensure that the following things are at your disposal:
AutoCAD software installed
Architectural CAD file of building you wish to clean up/convert
Existing standardized floor plan CAD file

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

How to Augment Your Computer with an iPad

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Let's Build a Robot!

I've been building stuff like this since I was about ten or so years old... and I love it!

It's amazing how fabrication techniques have improved in the last few years. Inexpensive hardware, 3D printers, and awesome boutique electronics stores like Adafruit, SparkFun, and Seeed Studio have opened a Pandoras-box of Awesome.

Are you ready to build your robot? Please make sure to read through the entire Instructable before making any purchases - parts are listed throughout. 

If you have any questions, let me know - I'll do my best to help. Want to see ROBOB (ROB-OB) in action?

Ding ding ding... let's go!

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When Obscurity at Work Is a Good Thing

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Make JPEG Droplet Is the Fastest Way to Convert Files to JPEGs

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HomeMade Modern DIY Puzzle Stool

¾” Plywood
Purchase at Home Depot
There are many types of plywood with different laminations and surfaces. I used ¾” furniture-grade plywood with a sanded finish. I had 12” wide scraps left over from another project, but if you are going to buy plywood I would recommend doing it at Home Depot and having them cut the plywood into strips that are the width you want. A single 4’ by 8’ sheet of plywood cut into 12” strips is more than enough to build 2 puzzle benches.

Purchase at Home Depot
1¼” wood screws are ideal. It's possible to use longer screws and connect multiple pieces at a time, but you have to be careful to avoid gaps.

220 Grit Sand Paper
Purchase at Home Depot

1” Diameter Dowels – 48” Long
Purchase at Home Depot

1/2” Diameter Dowels – 48” Long
Purchase at Home Depot

Wood Glue
Purchase at Home Depot

RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill

RYOBI 6.1 Amp Variable Speed Jig Saw with Speedmatch™

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Five Best Grills

With the summer grilling season upon us, you may be looking for the perfect backyard cooking surface for your next cookout, or you may just have strong opinions on which grills do the best job at helping a skilled cook turn out the best dishes. Whichever it is, we asked you for your picks for the best grills on the market, and you responded. Here are five of the best, based on your nominations.

Earlier this week, we asked you which grills you thought were the best—not just the fanciest or that had the most burners, cooking surfaces, or options, but the ones that were all around the best bang for the buck, the best at what they did, offered great build quality and speedy heating, and were overall easy to use and easy to clean up. Of course, we know there's a difference between grilling, barbecuing, and smoking, but we're using "grill" as the catch-all for backyard cooking appliances. Most of you picked up on that, and here's what you said:

The Weber One Touch series is one of the most popular, tried and true backyard grills on the market. The One Touch is a perhaps Weber's most iconic grill. Its kettle style is almost synonymous with charcoal grilling, and the One Touch is available in a number of sizes and corresponding price points, from the 18.5" ($79 at Amazon) to the 26.75" One Touch Gold ($299 at Amazon). All of the One Touch models offer steel plated cooking grills, ash catchers for easy cleanup, wheels for portability, and a self-cleaning system. The higher end One Touch Gold models also feature charcoal reservoirs in case you need more fuel, a removable aluminum ash catcher for even easier cleanup, a reinforced handle, tool hooks, a built-in thermometer, and a stainless steel cooking grate. Those of you who nominated the One Touch line noted there's a model for every price point or preferred size, and they're exceptional at both direct and indirect heating based on where you put your coals. Easy cleanup and solid build quality is extremely important too—so much so that our friends at The Sweethome (an offshoot of The Wirecutter) think the 22.5" One Touch Gold is the best chargoal grill you can buy.

The Big Green Egg is, as the name implies, a big green egg-shaped cooker that can serve as a grill, a smoker, and an oven. It's available in five different sizes, from the free-standing 24" "XLarge" that sports shelves on the sides and plenty of room to cook enough food to feed a crowd to the 10" "Mini" egg that's perfect for picnics, camping trips, or grilling on an apartment patio, with three more sizes in between. The Egg is a Kamado-style barbecue, namely it's made of an earthen material (ceramic, in this case) and is a charcoal cooker with a design meant to contain the heat and only vent it through a small vent at the top (somewhat similar to the Kettle design). In fact, there's a whole page dedicated to how the egg works, if you want to read it. With the right accessories, the Egg is perfect for indirect cooking, grilling pizza, grilling the perfect steak, even roasting chickens and turkeys. They're well-loved and have developed a bit of a cult following, but they're not cheap—the Large and XL will set you back around to $1000 (possibly more, especially if you spring for accessories at the same time), and the Mini is closer to $400. Those of you who praised the Egg pointed out that while they may be expensive, they'll likely be the last grill you ever buy, not just because they cook so well and offer incredible temperature control, but because they're incredibly versatile and built incredibly well. If you want one, you'll have to find a dealer near you that sells them, or a barbecue retailer that ships to your location.

The Weber Genesis line of premium gas grills designed to offer solid build quality, great design, and it heats up extremely fast and stays hot for the long haul. The Genesis models can cook with liquid propane gas or natural gas, depending on the model you purchase, and depending on your choice come with (S Series) stainless steel or (E Series) cast iron cooking rods, shroud, and trim. All models sport built-in thermometers, three massive burners, and plenty of cooking space. The S-330/E-330 offers a center "sear station" that cranks up the heat to give you the delicious browning you want on grilled meats, and a side-burner that can keep a pot or side-dish bubbling while you work on the grill. All models offer two stainless steel work stations on either side of the cooking surface, tool hooks, a fuel gauge (for propane models), and a massive 637 sq. in. cooking surface. You'll pay for that cooking surface and the convenience of gas though—the E-310 will set you back $699 at Amazon while the S-310 bumps that up to $849. The E-330 is closer to $800, and the S-330 is close to $1000. Still, they're huge, high-end, and solidly built—again, likely the last grill you ever buy.

We should note that our friends at The Sweethome point out that if you're looking for a bang for your buck gas model, you might want to step down from the Genesis to the Spirit line, specifically the Weber Spirit E-310, which we've highlighted before.

The Char-Griller Akorn Kooker is Char-Griller's only Kamado-style grill. It's not even listed on their website anymore (although accessories for it are), but it's widely available at retailers and online ($300 at Amazon). Because it's a Kamado cooker, it features a single vent at the top and an insulated, all-ceramic body that's meant to keep the food inside hot for the long haul, even if you don't use a lot of charcoal. The Akorn Kooker is most often compared to the Big Green Egg, since it's a Kamado grill and available at a fraction of the price compared to the size, but even the reviewers at Amazon will openly note that it's not as good and not quite built as well, but there's no way you can look at it that the Akorn Kooker isn't significantly cheaper for a similar style cooker. Regardless of your take on the competition, the Akorn Kooker features a cast iron cooking surface, two work surfaces on the sides, and durable wheels to help you move the thing around. Those of you who praised the Akorn highlighted its price, it's bang for the buck, and its portability as highlights—especially if you must have a Kamado-style grill but you don't want to spend a ton of money to get one.

The Weber Q Series is a line of compact, durable gas grills that are designed for portability, ease of use, and quick grilling. They don't have the most powerful burners around, and depending on the model you get, they need to rest on top of a sturdy surface (since they may not have legs or wheels of their own), but they're affordable (the Weber Q 100 is $149 at Amazon, while the high-end, free-standing Weber Q 320 is $379 at Amazon) by comparison to some of Weber's other models and offer many features that apartment dwellers or people who don't cook outside that frequently will love and appreciate. All of the Weber Q models feature one-touch electric ignition switches, porcelain enameled cooking hoods and cast-iron cooking grates, and feature one or two burners (two on the higher-end models), and the higher-end models feature built-in thermometers and side-mounted work surfaces for platters or storage while you work. Those of you who praised the Q series noted its portability, ease of setup, and its ability to cook for four or five people at once without a problem, no matter where you set it up. If you're looking for a grill you can toss in the back of the car with you when you go camping or head out on vacation, the Q may be the one for you.

Now that you've seen your nominees, it's time to vote for the all out winner:

The honorable mention this week goes out to Traeger's Wood Pellet Grills and Smokers, which earned several nominations but not enough to get into the top five. You praised the Traeger models for using a different type of fuel, eliminating the need for charcoal briquettes or propane refills and hoses, and for their design and build quality. If you're looking at charcoal versus gas and wishing you had an alternative, here you go.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at!

Photos by Phil Gwinn, Bart Everson, and Mike the BBQ Guy.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Recycled T-Shirt Journal - with Donkey Kong, Harry Potter, and other Nerdy Things

My husband loves to wear witty, ironic, awesome t-shirts, but he tends to go through them pretty quickly. Once the armpits get all weird and crunchy the thrift store won't take the shirts, so the clothing is destined for the trash.

There are hundreds of ways to reuse t-shirts all over the interent, but if you are a never-ending DIY-er like me, you have a vast collection of refashioned t-shirts dresses, t-shirt quilts, and t-shirt shopping bags.

I wanted to figure out another way to reuse the cool graphics of the shirts that could be replicated quickly and would appeal to the masses. 

I also kept seeing Star Wars and Nintendo shirts at the thrift shop that were fifty cents and size XXL, so I grabbed as many nerdy shirts as I could and started selling the finished journals at a local coffee shop. Maybe you can do the same.

We all have piles of shirts that we don't wear anymore, but for sentimental or hoarder reasons we are unable to get rid of a single tee. I'll show you how to use an old shirt to make a cool fabric-covered journal, and BONUS! These make great presents!

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How to Decode "Menuspeak" and Navigate Any Restaurant Menu

Eating healthy is particularly tricky at restaurants, since even healthy sounding dishes can harbor ingredients that add hundreds more calories than you'd expect. This effect is known as the health halo. Of course, if you want to splurge every now and then I more than encourage it. The trick is making sure you know when you are or aren’t making healthy choices, and doing so intentionally.

Below is an excerpt from my new book, Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, on how to decode the secret language of restaurant menus to avoid unnecessary healthstyle pitfalls.

Deciphering what is healthy on a menu is not always straightforward. Restaurants have made an art of luring you in with their words and making dishes sound absolutely irresistible, regardless of how they actually taste. Another problem is that dishes that should be healthy, for instance, a Thai chicken salad, are often loaded with secret ingredients (usually extra sugar, salt, and processed oils) that actually cause them to clock in at way over the number of calories you’d expect (according to the nutrition facts, the Thai chicken salad at California Pizza Kitchen has 1,160 calories). To avoid these traps you need to first learn to decipher menuspeak, and then tailor your ordering and special requests to remove the worst offenders.

You already know to avoid foods that are obviously very processed, focus on whole foods, and make sure there is something green on your plate. Once you’ve gotten that far, the biggest issues are usually sauces and toppings. Sugar, oil, and salt make foods taste better, and when restaurants use low-quality (i.e., bad-tasting) ingredients, they aren’t shy about compensating for this by using as many sweet or creamy sauces as possible. Think of these ingredients—the flavor trifecta of sugar, fat, and salt—as makeup for your food. A small amount of the good stuff (e.g., butter or cheese), used tastefully and with restraint, can enhance and beautify a dish. But too much of it is a sign that people are covering up something they don’t want you to see.

How do you know if a restaurant is trying to mask its food with shameless flavor enhancers? Several code words and descriptions can tip you off to this sort of culinary cover-up. Sugar, for example, tends to be sticky, so words like “glaze” and even “sticky” itself are a good sign there is extra sweetener around. Similarly, anything that’s “crispy” or “crusted” has likely been covered in a batter made from processed wheat or corn and soaked in oil at high temperatures. Fortunately, there are also words that signify more healthily prepared dishes. “Roasted,” “grilled,” or “spiced” foods have extra flavor without extra calories.

How to Decode "Menuspeak" and Navigate Any Restaurant Menu

Sometimes it’s hard to find something on a menu that isn’t smothered in sugar or dredged in bread crumbs. At this point try to simply find the dish that sounds the best and ask your server to leave off the crispy wontons and bring you a side of spinach instead. Once you know what to look for, making the right call will start to come naturally.

Decoding Menuspeak: Navigating the Perilous World of Restaurant Menus | Summer Tomato

Want to see your work on Lifehacker? Email Tessa.

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How to make a Turk's head engagement ring

1. A print out of the knot we're going to tie. I'll show you how to get this in the next step.

2. Any kind of clear tape.

3. 3/64" drill bit. The hardware stores I checked only stocked bits down to 1/8". You can find these on amazon:

4. Wire cutters.

5. Jewelry pliers. These are needle nose pliers with round tips.

6. Ring sizer. Any local craft store should have one of these. This actually isn't absolutely necessary, but it can be handy.

7. Wire. I used 28 gauge, 18K dead soft gold wire. To practice you'll want to pick up some beading wire from your local craft store. I experimented with many different gauges ranging from 20 down to 32. 32 was a bit too tiny for my taste, and 24 and above makes for pretty rings without needing any reinforcement (you'll notice a gold band reinforcing the ring I made). Make sure to get plenty of practice before moving to gold wire, which you can find on etsy. Many of pictures I'll show will be of the beading wire. I was pretty focused when I was using real gold wire and didn't take many pictures.

8. T-pins. You can pick these up at any office supply store or steal them from work like I did. 

9. A drill or dremel. If you use a drill you may need a chuck to fit your 3/64" bit. I got mine on amazon:

10. A hammer, this is only necessary if you get the ring stretcher that requires it (see #9).

11. A small diameter dowel. Anything 1/8" diameter or below. A skewer or strong toothpick would work. We'll use it to tie the basket around. 

12. A ring stretcher. Again, amazon is great:

13. A pool cue. Get the cheapest one you can find. I went to a local billiards store and asked the owner for a cheap cue that I wouldn't even be using to play pool and he went in the back and came out with this. He didn't even charge me.

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Paiute Deadfall Trap

100_0323.JPGWe all need to eat, but the problem is getting it. Sure, we can survive on pine needle tea, but for how long before we need meat? Here's the answer: a deadfall trap made from mostly natural materials. It was invented and made by the Paiute tribe, and I'm carrying on their tradition here. Please note, the legality of making traps with natural materials may vary from place to place. In fact, it may be illegal in most states except for a desperate survival situation. So please, please, check with your local laws. Don't say I didn't warn you, and I'm not responsible for any injuries or trouble you may get in. However, I don't think it's illegal to just make one for fun, as long as you don't catch anything in it.100_0324.JPGChoose or cut a relatively straight, strong stick. The height will vary depending on what animal you're trying to catch. Mine ended up about eight inches in the end. Using your knife, make a dovetail in one end, which is when you widdle one side of the top of the stick down, and the other side, to make a point.

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Bendy Straw Statement Necklace

139 copy.jpg I love this necklace because it's bold and trendy, yet it can be made from things around the house! Sure, you could just buy gold beads. But walking around knowing that you're secretly sporting expensive looking bendy straws is just too amusing to miss out on!068.JPGYou're going to need about 10 straws, scissors, toothpicks, a piece of cardboard, gold spray paint, long shoestrings (or long black nylon string), and gold hex nuts.

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NES Coin Purse, 3.0 (Yet Another, revisited and improved)

DSCF9512.jpgThe first time I stumbled upon a NES purse instructable, (here) I made one of myself right away. In the process, and in the daily usage, I found many glitches that I tried to overcome. Such as: coinage make the case rattle too much, and the purse can be opened halfways wide open, dropping all the content. So, this is my third NES purse (v 1.0 was stolen (too cool to let in my backpack unnatended), v2.0 was rendered as a gift to my girlfriend (also stolen from his backpack, thievemagnet this thing is)), so in v 3.0 I managed to backup the whole construction process, to end up with a fully capable and wearable object.

I just worked on a borrowed idea. Credit given where credit's due.


...and keep it safe. It's a wonder how the regular people feel impelled to steal this little gizmo.

DSCF9480.jpgYou will need the following:

- an old NES controller. Prefferably not-working. I still have my NES console with a pair of working controllers. Do not use those kind. Go to a flea market or something.
- a jacket zipper, 35 cm (13.8 in) long. To match the NEs scheme, I selected one in red.
- phillips n°1 screwdriver
- nose-end pliers
- vinilic glue (like the one used in plastic water pipings, or acrylic scale models).
- Instant glue.
- EVA foam sheet for insulation.
- book paper binders (many of 'em)

Later on I ended needing the following

- X-acto or tip-top crafts knife
- Red sewing thread
- Sewing Needle

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Don't Peel the Skins When You Snack on Fava Beans

Don't Peel the Skins When You Snack on Fava Beans

In addition to being great pea replacements in recipes, fava beans make for great snacks on the go. But if you're peeling the beans before eating them, you're just making the snack too difficult.

While it's pretty easy peel fava beans in bulk by freezing them, this doesn't really help you if you're just enjoying them as a snack. It turns out that the skin of the beans is completely edible, and tastes pretty much the same as the beans themselves. In fact, peeling the beans is really only a French and American custom, according to Anjali Prasertong at The Kitchn, and all it does is create extra work and mess. While adult beans might be a little tough to bite through, younger ones shouldn't pose any issues.

Time-Saving, Mind-Blowing Tip: You Don't Have to Peel Fava Beans | The Kitchn

Photo by eye-blink (Shutterstock).

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Building A Subwoofer

Parts that are required:
Circular saw
A computer
Long wood clamps (length depends on what size you are going to build the box)
Pencil or pen (to mark measurements)

Items that are optional but are highly recommended:
Sandpaper (to smooth surfaces)
woodscrews (to ensure a good tight bond)
Drill (to screw in the woodscrews)
A large ruler (to measure wood)
A helping Hand (if you need to move heavy objects)
Access to a truck (to move boards of wood around)
Router (this is used to cut the circles that the subwoofer will be sitting it, while getting a router is optional it is very helpfull to have one to get dimensions right)

Items you need to buy:
Suboofer of your choice
Speaker wire Terminals
Speaker Wire

Optional Items you can buy:
Subwoofer box feet (optional)
Paint or stain or box carpet (optional)
Insulation (optional, what insulation does is help dampen the box, this can give clear and deep sounding bass)
Speaker grills

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SKY CACHE: Mobile Aerial Geocache

This is my completely autonomous Mobile Aerial Geocache, or MAG. I'll show you how to make one, and participate in this project yourself.

I wanted to create a new kind of interactive cache that would have the ability to travel through the sky, and be tracked in real time with a small GPS device.

My goal is to give the community the ability to track, find, and relaunch this cache to keep it ever wandering

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. -

I will be updating this Instructable in the near future as this project progresses, and invite all of you to follow along and participate. Please comment with your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge, and lets make this a collaboration!

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Store Multiple Fishing Rods with a DIY PVC Organizer

Store Multiple Fishing Rods with a DIY PVC Organizer

Fishing rods can be unwieldy to pack and carry around, especially if you're transporting a lot of them. Luckily, you can keep them organized and upright with this DIY PVC holder.

Instructables user TampaGeek created this modular system that he can customize to suit the number of fishing rods he's transporting. The rod holders themselves are off the shelf, but the PVC base is custom. It can be expanded out into a stand to set the poles in your garage, or broken down into a mount to attach to the side of a cooler or wheeled cart. The specifics of the build will vary depending on how many rods you're storing and where you want to keep them, but the Instructable gives you a great overview to get started.

PVC Modular Fishing Rod Holder | Instructables

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50 Cents Heart Key Pendant Necklace

This project outlines how to make a custom pendant necklace from zinc. I got bored and like to work with metal so I figured I would try out making some jewelry. This method for making this necklace doesn't involve casting, but can if you want to make it for less 50 cents.

1) Zinc (You can buy it in a store as a slab, or pour your own)
2) Emery Black Polishing compound
3) Never Dull Polishing Wadding

1) Hacksaw or Jewelers saw
2) Metal File
3) Sandpaper (80,100,120,150,200,300,400, ect)
4) Vice
5) Dermal Tool with metal rasp wheel, and polishing wheel attachment
6) Drill Press
7) Time: Probably 3-4 hours

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Preserve Insects In Resin

13, 7:19 PM.jpgDo you have an insect you would like to display in a cool and interesting fashion? Then, you might be interested in preserving it in resin. Work in a well ventilated area. Make an attempt not to get any on your hands. It is very hard to clean off. I'm aware that another Instructable has been posted on this but my way is simpler and appeals to those that don't have a table saw. 13, 7:19 PM.jpgCasting resin, Specimen, Ice cube tray or other ideal mold, Catalyst, Mixing cup (DO NOT USE STYROFOAM), Stirring stick

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pulled pork recipe

I am not lying to you when I say that following this recipe will give you the most perfect and succulent pulled pork you could ever get from your oven. I am so so pleased with it. :D It's literally years in the making!

I've tried so many pulled pork recipes over the years, always trying to take shortcuts and have pulled pork quicker and easier. I've done crockpot pulled pork, pressure cooker pulled pork, wrapped it in aluminum foil and roasted it at high temps, tried braising it and then roasting, etc. 

It was pretty silly, now that I think about it. Good pulled pork requires serious patience and willpower. :D

Keep reading and I will share alllllll the secrets and you'll be eating the most amazing pulled pork very soon.

P.S. Want a sauce or rub for your pulled pork? I've got them:

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

This Week's Top Downloads

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Hang a Laundry Hamper on The Back Of Your Closet Door to Save Space

Hang a Laundry Hamper on The Back Of Your Closet Door to Save Space

If you have a small closet, a laundry basket or hamper can take up a ton of valuable floor space. Luckily, you can take it back by hanging the hamper on the back of the closet door.

This tip is obvious in hindsight, but the idea had never occurred to me. For implementation, you can buy a dedicated hanging hamper like this one for $12, or you could just hang a mesh laundry bag from the door if you don't want to spend any money (though it would be harder to open). You'll also need an over-the-door hook for this to work, but those only cost about $2. Apartment Therapy has a larger list of back-of-the-door hampers to check out if you want to comparison shop, so head over there for more info.

Small Space Solution: Back-of-the-Door Laundry Hampers | Apartment Therapy

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Masterful Mojitos

mojito.jpgThese instructions will make you master of that refreshing summer beverage: the mojito! Why? Because I care about humanity, refreshment, and summer happiness. These instructions will allow a mixed drink newbie, or even a general kitchen one, to become an expert with just a few swipes of a smartphone! Take twenty to thirty minutes of your day and learn the art of the mojito. Soon you will be on your front porch with a summer read, your favorite pair of sunglasses, and a fabulously refreshing mojito in your hand. Happy summer!

Photo credit:

• Sugar
• Water
• Fresh Mint
• Fresh Limes
• Bacardi Rum
• Lime or Lemon Juice Concentrate
• Ice
• Club Soda

• Saucepan
• 2 Wooden Spoons
• Shot Glass
• Margarita Shaker
• Lime Juicer
• Several Bowls
• Highball Glasses
• Straws

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Flashify Sends Web Sites Between Android Browsers

Flashify Sends Web Sites Between Android Browsers

Android: If a web page isn't rendering correctly in one of your Android browsers, normally you would need to copy the URL, go to your home screen, open a new browser, and paste the URL. Flashify removes all this friction by adding alternate browsers to Android's share menu.

Android bafflingly doesn't include browsers in web pages' share menus, so Flashify essentially corrects this issue. Unfortunately, your installed browsers won't show up in the root of the share menu; you'll need to click the Flashify icon, and then select your desired browser, but this is still way faster than copying a URL and moving it over manually. Once you select a destination, your new browser will open and your page will load without any more friction.

Flashify (Free) | Google Play via Ghacks

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Designing and building an synthesizer with Meeblip and Arduino, added videos!

So, synthesizers are pretty cool instruments, making the sounds for the most of the music I listen to right now. Yet they are quite limited in where and how they can be used. For instance, I can play my guitar at home, but I could take it to the park or to a friend for a quick jam-session. Not so simple for a synth: I'd have to plug it out of my studio setup, take a midi keyboard or laptop and just hope the place where I'm going has the right connections to plug in again.*

Another point where I feel synthesizers are performing worse than traditional instruments, is in their connection to the user. Where I can feel the vibrations of my guitar resonating through my hands and body, the sound of a synthesizer comes from a speaker a few meters away from me. Similar on the control interface; A guitar is quite clear in the fact that if you pluck a string,a sound comes out. But for a synthesizer you will have to learn the function of dozens of knobs which often have several layers of functionality.

On the other hand the palette of different sounds coming from a synthesizer is bigger than that of most traditional instruments. Also the possibilities for programming the notes allow for things not possible on traditional instruments. So why choose one or the other? I wanted to create a synthesizer which has the flexibility and direct connection of a traditional instrument.

As I've done this project for Meeblip, one thing was certain, I would use a Meeblip Micro as the sonic centerpiece. Other than that, everything was still open. Would it become a drumbox or rather a guitar-like synth? After looking at a lot of different synthesizers, reading up on synthesizer design literature and sketching lot of variations, I came up with something.

After making a lot of prototypes of all the individual pieces (interface, electronics, sequencer etc) I finally found the 'final form' which is made in the next steps. All functions are directly accessible through the knobs and switches on the interface The internal speaker allows the instrument itself to vibrate, which, especially when you place the instrument in your lap, help you feel what your playing. The instrument is controlled through a circular sequencers, in which you set the notes form a range of -12 to +12 semitones from a center note set by the base knob.

My design is meant to address the issues I have with synthesizers in a few ways. Most obvious is the fact that it runs on battery power and includes a decent hifi amplifier and speaker, allowing it to be used anywhere. By using prettily grained wood, the instrument looks a lot more delicate than if I'd used plastic. This also references its appearance more towards acoustic instruments, which are usually made of wood. Last thing I did is make the interface as direct as possible. It didn't need to be intuitive, (who makes great music on a guitar the first time (s)he picks it up) but it does need to be reliable and consistent, so you can really learn the instrument. (Please discuss whether or not you feel like these points are valid!)

*Companies like Korg and Casio did make portable synthesizers running on batteries and including a speaker, but these are, at least to me, seen more as toys than as serious musical instruments; Their plastic encasing doesn't really place it in the same line as for instance an acoustic guitar or a Moog. While the small portable synths often sound great amplified, their raw sound is nearly always weak and I've never seen them used in a song. 

View the original article here

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Burger Bites with Real Potato Slice Buns

These bite-sized burgers will be a hit with the kids & company! This delicious mini burger sits upon a nice slice of potato - grilled to a crisp (yet soft on the inside) - with a little ketchup and cheese to top it off!

Everyone I know loves french fries. If my son and I get fast food, I like to steal a few of his fries and put them on my burger (in between the buns). Yes, that may sound weird! But, it's really good! You eat fries with your burger - why not put your favorite things all together into something bite-sized and delicious! And, although potatoes have carbs in them, I still think this is healthier than eating a real bun with your burger.  Lastly, my son (who hates burgers) absolutely loved these. Who knew you could make things bite-sized and fun and suddenly kids love them!

If you like this - please vote for me - thanks!

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Sweet Corn Chowder

1. Peel and dice the potato and begin to saute it in a large soup pot with the butter for about 5-10 minutes.

2. While the potatoes are sauteing, chop the remaining vegetables and add to the potatoes when you are finished. Saute for another 5-10 minutes.

3. Carefully sprinkle the flour over of the vegetables and mix very well. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable stock, stirring briskly. Simmer for 10 minutes. While the other vegetables are simmering, you can prepare the corn by shucking and removing the kernels from the cob. I like to cut the corn kernals directly into a colander so I can rinse them easily.

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Raw Vegan Blackberry Jam

To make this Instructable which yields 2 jars of jam,  you will need the following:

2 C blackberries
1/4 C chia seeds*
1/4 C agave nectar*
1/4 C filtered water
2 TB lemon juice concentrate

Canning jars 
Jar rings
New lids
Large pot, mixing spoon & bowl
Measuring cup/spoon, tongs and ladle, potato masher,  veggie steamer (optional)
Cooling rack


Although this is a vegan recipe intended to use agave nectar, you can substitute any sweetener of your choice. In one of my trials, I used local raw honey as pictured.

Also, chia was used to thicken and stabilize the jam. I chose chia seeds over the typical pectin for its supreme nutritional value. According to 

Gram for Gram chia seeds provides . . .

325% more fiber than oatmeal
800% more Omega-3 (ALA) than salmon (EPA/DHA)
30% more antioxidants than blueberries (based on ORAC values)
1500% more magnesium than broccoli
200% more potassium than bananas

View the original article here

Earbits Offers Fast, Completely Free Streaming Music

Web/Android: With all the talk of streaming music services vying for your headphone time, it's easy to overlook some of the ones that are simple, fun, and pump out a stream of good, interesting music when you fire them up. Earbits is one of those services, and it's available for Android and the web, completely free.

On your Android device, Earbits will scan your device for music and load up blended channels and radio stations that combine your music with the free songs that Earbits has to offer. On the web, you just click "Listen to Editor's Picks" or "Browse Channels" to start the music, no questions, no sign-ups (unless you want to save your preferences), no hassle. Browsing channels takes you to a tiled selection of genres, each with their own subgenres that you can select to further narrow the songs Earbits plays for you, but at most it's two or three clicks before the music starts flowing.

From there, Earbits works like some of the other great, underrated music services we've mentioned—your play history is in the sidebar, you can favorite songs to make note of them, and you can sign up for an artist's mailing list, like their Facebook page, or otherwise connect with them right from the song you're listening to. When you do, you earn "Groovies," a currency that lets you play specific songs whenever you like, bypassing the radio feature. Best of all, Earbits is completely free.

Hit the link below to try it out, or grab the Android app from Google Play. When I tested it out, I found the Android app was particularly useful at generating blended stations that fit all of my music tastes together in one. It helps that the Android app is really good looking, too.


Google has updated its Play Music app so it's now both faster and less of a bandwidth hog.

Google has updated its Play Music app so it's now both faster and less of a bandwidth hog. Sweet! [via Talk Android]

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3D printable microscope for home or lab

You need to locate 4 copies of a disposable camera. The best place to go is a local photography shop or wherever you can get them developed. Ask nicely and people are probably going to be very willing to help.

(CAUTION there is a significant shock hazard if you plan to open a flash camera from the capacitor!)

You will need to print out a different optical tube for the Kodak lenses vs the Fujifilm lenses, STLs for both are attached in the next step. I have tested this design with the following camera models:

Fujifilm QuickSnap Outdoor
Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash
Fujifilm Flash

Kodak FunSaver Flash
Kodak unaned
Kodak Max Outdoor

Use some pliers or otherwise to remove the faceplate on the camera and remove the objective lens. Once again, if you plan to get it from a flash camera, be really careful with the capacitor. Non-flash cameras are trivial. Take good care not to scratch the lenses.

View the original article here

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Calipers for wheel truing stand


The caliper is mostly made up of steel scraps that I had on-hand, but if you had to buy everything it’d probably cost about $20-25 from your local hardware depot.

1 in. x 1 in. x ? in. steel angle, total of 12 linear inches
1 in. x ? in. steel flat bar, total of 6 ½ linear inches

2 x #6-32 x 1” machine screws
4 x #6-32 nuts
1 magnet (I used a 40mm 15 lb pull round magnet from Harbor Freight, but anything similar would be fine)


You’ll need the following equipment:
- angle iron notcher
- drill press, 5/32 in. bit
- cold saw or vertical bandsaw
- welder
- Dremel tool with cutting disk
- hand file
- grinder

View the original article here

Raspberry Mead

This is hands down the best mead I make. It's easy and DELICIOUS. And it won the praise of my local homebrew guy, who also happens to the be National Meadmaker of the Year for 2003. So I must have done something right!

This instructable is for a 5 gallon batch (roughly 25 bottles). You can scale it up or down to whatever you plan on making. You'll need 3 pounds of honey and roughly 6 ounces of raspberries per gallon. Honey is expensive. I have since made a Raspberry Wine, exactly like this, but with Dextrose (Corn Sugar) as the fermentable sugar instead of honey. It's considerably cheaper. BUT, you can no longer call it a Mead. And there will be obvious texture/mouth-feel/flavor differences. But they are both delicious. If you do end up going the sugar route, you don't need 3 pounds/gallon, closer to 2 pounds/gallon. Use your hydrometer to fine tune, you're aiming for about 1.10 or so as the starting gravity. I think I ended up needing about 12 pounds of dextrose. Anyway, on to what you'll need. I'm assuming you've brewed before and already have basic brewing equipment. If not, take a look at my other Instructables, or any of the other ones on this site to see what you need.

5 gallons of honey. I got my honey from These are the nicest people in the world, and their honey selection is AMAZING. I've also used Dutch Gold for bulk (60 pound bucket), or worked out deals with local apiaries. What turned me on to Flying Bee Ranch was their selection and prices. Really good. I went with the tried and true Orange Blossom. But I imagine if the Raspberry honey is available, that would work quite nicely as well.

32 ounces of Raspberries. It's hard to say precisely how much I used, I was very fortunate that my Aunt had several raspberry bushes and would pluck the best ones for me. I asked for about 2 pints. Store bought bags are just as good. The trick I've mentioned before is to freeze them. Allegedly this breaks the cell walls of the raspberries, which caused them to release more flavor. Whether that's true or not, I can't say. But that's what I do.

Yeast. For this first batch, I used Lalvin 71B. I read that it's supposed to be a nice pairing with fruit. But it fermented extremely fast and had some initial off flavors that took a while to tame out. Some of that was because it was quite hot. Since then, I used Lalvin D47. I've never had a problem with this yeast, everything has always came out delicious.

Yeast Nutrient. This is a good one. I've also had success using regular yeast nutrient/yeast energizer. And frankly, I'm not even sure it needs it. The raspberries will provide a decent amount of nutrition.

Spring Water to fill the rest of your carboy up. I'd avoid city water since it has some chemicals in it. Not to say it won't be good, but if you can get a good, clean water source, use it.

View the original article here

Convert Pandora Stations to Spotify Playlists with a Chrome Extension

Convert Pandora Stations to Spotify Playlists with a Chrome Extension

Chrome: If you're a frequent Pandora user who also likes Spotify, you know that it kind of stinks you can't get the two services working together. Pandora to Spotify Playlist Converter is an extension that makes this more possible by bringing your Pandora likes and radio stations into Spotify.

Pandora to Spotify Playlist Convertor works in a few different places in Pandora. With the extension installed, just head over to your Pandora page, and select either an artist radio station or your likes. Then Click the Pandora to Spotify button, and the extension builds a playlist for you. Copy the link and enter it in Spotify. Whether you're bouncing around between different stations or you just want a collection of all the tracks you've liked on Pandora, this extension does the job.

Pandora to Spotify Playlist Converter | Chrome Web Store via MakeUseOf

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Weotta Finds Activities Based on Your Location, Schedule, and Interests

Weotta Finds Activities Based on Your Location, Schedule, and Interests

Plenty of sites exist to find restaurants and activities, but generally speaking you get a list of options and sort through them. Weotta takes your current situation into account, as well as your interests, to find you the best thing to do when you want to do it.

On top of information and events Weotta curates automatically in about 400 U.S. cities, you get more if you sign in via Facebook. Weotta will pay attention to what your friends do if they also use the app and make suggestions based on their interests, too. You can quickly provide tips about a place or event you liked, too, by quickly rating the activity. If you don't want suggestions, but rather want to find something specific, you can search from it and Weotta will provide you with options based on your query. For example, if you wanted a good restaurant near a concert open late, when the show is over, you can search for just that. Results never get limited to the big and obvious—smaller, lesser-known yet great activities and restaurants show up in your suggestions as well. If you're looking for new stuff to try, fire up Weotta and follow a suggestions. It might just help cure your boredom this weekend.

Weotta (Free) | iTunes App Store

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What's the Fastest Way to Peel a Bunch of Garlic?

If you've spent any time in the kitchen, you know how to knife-smash and peel a clove of garlic. But what should you do when a recipe calls for a whole bulb or more? The chefs at Stack Exchange have the answer.

How should I approach peeling a clove of garlic to get the skin off quickly? Is it different if I'm doing a bulb whole?

See the original question.

Even with a whole bulb, break it into cloves. Put clove(s) on a cutting board. I usually cut off the root end of each clove. Lay a large chef's knife flat on the clove, then smack the knife to crush the clove. This breaks the skin of the clove and makes it much easier to peel.

Note: Be sure NOT to use a ceramic knife. It can easily break.

The trick is that you're bruising the clove of garlic a little bit so the paper will release easier. If you're using a bulb or less, it's not too bad to do the side of the knife press method, but if you're cooking up a recipe that calls for a dozen heads, there's an alternate trick:

Break the head into cloves.Put the cloves into a sealable hard-sided container much larger (10x or more) than the garlic.Shake the hell out of it for about 15-30 seconds. Pull out the cloves, and the paper should come off easily.If cloves are still difficult to release, shake longer and more vigorously.Repeat for the remaining bulbs. You can do this with two metal bowls of the same size, pressing together the lip on the rims while shaking.Note: I don't recommend plastic containers, as you might impart a garlic flavor to them that will be difficult to remove.

Check out this great video on peeling garlic. It's basically the same method as that described in Joe's answer: Smash the head, put it all (if you need a whole head of garlic) in a large metal bowl, put another metal bowl on top, but upside down (so that the rims overlap), and shake hard for several seconds.

I call them "Garlic Cannoli." (Actually, they're called, simply, "garlic peelers.") For Christmas, I gave my wife one of these as a stocking-stuffer. I had seen them in kitchen gadget stores for years, but was always reluctant to get one, believing it was another useless, cheap gadget. I was wrong! I used to peel garlic using a knife, but now, I can peel a clove every five seconds.

It's essentially a silicon or rubber tube. You place the clove inside and lightly press it and roll it on the counter, like you're forming a baguette. Penny for penny, I've never had such a useful gadget (except maybe a silicon spatula).

Disagree? Find more answers or leave your own at the original post. See more questions like this at Seasoned Advice, the cooking site at Stack Exchange. And of course, feel free to ask a question yourself.

View the original article here

What's the Best Life Hack Your Dad Taught You?

This Sunday, many of us are celebrating an important person in our lives. That's right, good old Dad. In honor of the occasion, let's share some of the wisdom or just smart tricks we've learned from our fathers.

Maybe your father was a role model of ingenuity, introducing you to the myriad uses of duct tape. Maybe he taught you the value of spending less than you earn and the magic of compounding. Maybe he had a ton of MacGyver tricks up his sleeve.

What's the best life hack you learned from your dad?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

white bean soup

IMG_3194.JPGThis is a super simple version of white bean soup with tons of veggies. It's a good meal when you're getting down to the end of your groceries. :D That was my problem today! All I've really got left is dried beans, vegetables and bacon.

You can also switch out the vegetables with your favorites or add more. I'll be making this white bean soup in a pressure cooker, but you can do it on the stovetop too! Bacon is optional but awesome and makes it more filling. You could also use ham or chicken.

Ingredients: 1/2 pound dried white beans (I'm using great northern)3 carrots3 stalks of celery1 onion3 garlic cloves1 tomato4 cups chicken stock + more as needed (I used 6 cups total)2 big pinches of thyme1 big pinch rosemarysalt and pepper as neededbacon + bacon fatSteps: Chop up onions, celery, carrots and tomato. Mince the garlic.Saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic in about a tablespoon of bacon fat until nice and soft. (We'll add the tomato later!) Then add the herbs and mix until they're nice and fragrant. (No bacon fat in the fridge? Shame on you! Guess you'll need to cook the bacon first.)Add in the beans and stir to coat them with the fat.Pour in your stock - you want enough to cover everything by an inch or so, since the beans will be expanding.Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high for 35 minutes - release the pressure naturally.Open the pressure cooker and check the seasonings - add some salt if needed, a little hot sauce, whatever you like. Then pop in the tomatoes and stir.Lock the lid again and cook for 5 more minutes on high pressure - quick release the pressure when done.Serve with crumbled bacon on top for best results.I also made cornbread muffins to go with the soup and it was excellent. :D

If you will be making the white bean soup on the stovetop, simmer the beans and veggies for about an hour or until the beans are soft. (It'll depend on how old your beans are!) Once they're soft, add the tomatoes and some salt and simmer for another 15-20 minutes.

View the original article here

LED Origami

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!

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MagicanRest Makes Scheduling Breaks a Breeze

MagicanRest Makes Scheduling Breaks a Breeze

Mac: We've seen plenty of daily break reminders before, but MagicanRest is a break reminder that offers up enough options to make it worthwhile for just about anyone.

MagicanRest's purpose is to remind you when you're overworking, and tell you to rest your eyes. You can set up intervals throughout the day and create different schedules for different days of the week where MagicanRest will remind you to take a break. When MagicanRest turns on, you're locked out of your system until the break interval is over (there's an emergency button if you need it). It's not packed with features, and certainly struggles with the English translation a bit, but it has enough customization options to make it worthwhile over some of the other simpler timers out there.

MagicanRest (Free) | Mac App Store via Addictive Tips

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The 50 Best Booth Babes of E3 2013

Legit Event Reviews

Hello again to another special episode of “Booth Babes”!  This week we are coming to from sunny Los Angeles, California where another tremendous E3 Expo has just concluded.  As it was with last year’s E3 Expo there was tons of news about new consoles and controllers and headphones and games, but we know what enthusiasts really want to see coming from a show like E3…yep, the Booth babes that were hired to model at this years show!!

Being that we were in L.A. for the past several days, we saw so many babes that we were forced to narrow our presentation to you to just 50. We hope that you enjoy this year’s E3 Edition! Don’t forget to check back with us and let us know who your favorite was!

Of course if you want to compare previous years, feel free to go back and look:

Enough talk, bring on the models!

** Legit Reviews has be contacted by a couple 'executives' that threatened to bash Legit Reviews to their PR list if we don't remove this article. This article was done to show the hired models that were being paid to be at E3 to work in the vendor booths. By taking pictures of these professional models and some fans at the show we are not trying to 'send women back to the dark ages' or anything like that. If you feel that women should not be 'put on display' we suggest that you contact the companies that hired the women to model in the first place. To threaten Legit Reviews over taking and posting these images is crazy. We have always believed in equal rights and when there are men modeling at booths we take pictures of them too! **

E3 Booth Babe






E3 Booth BabeE3 Booth BabeE3 Booth BabeE3 Booth BabeE3 Booth BabeE3 Booth BabeE3 Booth Babe

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Important Family Days Frame & Print

A present I gave to my husband for our anniversary, I was able to make this framed piece of family history in a couple days.  It took me longer to select 25+ photos to choose from to place on the mat than it did to actually put this personalized portrait together.  I had to go through a few years of photos to get ones that had small enough faces to fit on the actual size of the mat.

The frame was free (more in Step 2), the photos were $0.19 each (after a few hours of looking for them on the computer,) and I spent about three hours coming up with the Power Point file to print.

The original idea came from here: Pinterest
The thing that tugged at my heart strings was the very last line ~ what a difference a day makes.
I've got nothing to say to top that.

You don't have to put the photos on the mat.  I did that because I wanted to but it's totally optional and would certainly save time if it didn't get done.

If you’ve got a handle on power point, hopefully this framed art work will be easy for you and all you have to do is type in your family's info.
If you don’t know power point well, I’ve tried to make the Instructable as clear and simple as possible, BUT, you may run into a snag or two where I assumed that the person reading this knows how to use power point, “enough to get by.”

Here's a run-down of the steps in this Instructable:
Step 1 - Materials, Equipment and Tools Needed

Step 2 - Change the Color of the Frame (Optional)

Step 3 - Download the Power Point File

Step 4 - Create your own Power Point file to make a Personalized Dates Printable

Step 5 - Add photos to the mat (Optional)

Step 6 - Put it all together 

The main photo shows a flash spot over one of the dates.  I tried taking a photo without the flash, but just couldn't get it right.  I think you get the idea though....

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What's the Best Smartphone for People Who Aren't Good with Technology?

Dear Lifehacker,
My parents could really use an upgrade in the cellphone department because they're still using dumbphones. Is there a particular smartphone that's better for non-tech savvy users?

Luddite Phone

Dear LP,
Getting a non-tech savvy person into a smartphone isn't an easy task. While it's partially about finding a good fit for them on a usability level, it's also just about figuring out which features really matter to someone. While you have a ton of options out there, we'll stick to the big three here: Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone.

What's the Best Smartphone for People Who Aren't Good with Technology?

It might sound silly to those of us who've had smartphones for a while, but the fact is, not everyone wants one. Nor does everyone need one. In fact, for a lot of people, a dumbphone is still the best option.

A bunch of reasons exist for this. For one, smartphones are usually more expensive because they come with a data plan that adds to their bill. As CNET points out, the bill alone is worth considering, and it's a deal breaker for many:

The bottom line is that iPhones and really any smartphone are expensive devices to own. So unless your parents plan to use the features of these device, it's probably a waste of money. A less-expensive option for them would be to get a pay-as-you-go service on a basic feature phone and then buy a small tablet like the iPad Mini, the Nexus 7 Android tablet, or a Kindle Fire, which can be used on Wi-Fi networks for free. This way they can access the Internet and all kinds of apps, but they won't have to pay for the expensive data services associated with owning a smartphone.
There's also the simple fact that less tech-savvy people are, by their nature, less interested in technology. This means things like games, fancy apps, or email with push notifications just don't matter to them. While it's great that the iPhone is easy to use, the fact that it has 900,000 apps means nothing to most people.

The point is, before you even consider which smartphone is best, think about whether a smartphone is needed at all. If so, then it's time to decide which smartphone will work best. If not, then it's likely best to just save the cash and stick with the dumbphone.

What's the Best Smartphone for People Who Aren't Good with Technology?

The best smartphone for people who aren't great with technology is really going to depend on a lot of factors.

As we've noted before, the Windows Phone is a really good option for people looking for what essentially amounts to a dumbphone that can also surf the web, check email, and navigate you around town. The interface is easy to use at a glance, and if someone's coming from a dumbphone they're not going to struggle too much to use the phone at first.

The nice thing about the Windows Phone is that it's a really good mix of the better features of the iPhone and Android. It has the ease of use of the iPhone where anyone can pick it up and use it, but Windows Phones also have a bunch of model options like Android, so they can find a bigger screen or nice hardware if they want. Essentially, a Windows phone is a win-win for anyone who doesn't really care that much about apps or features.

The iPhone is nearly as simple as the Windows Phone, but it also comes packed with a gigantic App Store. The App Store is a huge selling point for techies and non-techies alike. If they're looking to download that new app they heard about from their friends, play the latest games, and so on, then the iPhone does it better than anyone else.

On top of that, the iPhone 5 is also Wirecutter's pick for best cell phone. Even if you're not a techie, most people understand how to use an iPhone in a couple minutes. It might take a little work to get things like email, the calendar, and contacts set up initially, but once it's working they won't have to worry about it.

The iPhone also hooks into Apple's operating system and iTunes really well, so if you're already using a Mac (or at the very least, iTunes), an iPhone is dead-simple to set up and start using right away. They'll also have access to Apple's Genius Bar for any help they need, which might at least partially cut down on the tech support calls you have to deal with.

We'll be honest: despite our love for Android, it's at the bottom of our list for the non-geeks among us. It's a little bit harder to use, every handset is a little bit different,and you're going to be on the hook for all that tech support. However, if your parents are extremely entrenched in the Google universe, require certain advanced features the iPhone doesn't have, or something similar, then obviously Android's your best bet. However, you'll probably find those features are the exact features non tech-savvy people don't need.

That said, Android has come a long way in recent years, and manufacturers like Samsung are really trying to make their phones appealing to more than just the geek crowd. If you're thinking about Android, maybe take them to the store and let them try it out first. It might be a fine choice—it's just a little riskier, since Android is a bit more complicated than Windows Phone or the iPhone. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course—it's what tech geeks like us love about it—but it's might be a little overwhelming to the non tech-savvy crowd. (From my personal experience, my dad, who's a smart enough guy but not remotely interested in tech, struggled to really appreciate anything about the Android phone he had for work).

So, what's the bottom line? It really depends. As a universal recommendation, Windows Phone is definitely the easiest to use and has the right amount of features to make it useful without being overwhelming.

Of course, the iPhone and Android both have plenty of strengths, so it's worth popping into a store with your parents and messing around with different phones for a little while before making that choice. You also want to consider one very simple thing: which phone do you know best? You're likely on tech support duty, so you'll want to pick the phone you can provide support for. If that's not possible, then consider the smartphone that most of their friends have because that'll make it so they always have someone around to help with questions.

While you're there, don't forget that hardware is important too. Anyone upgrading from an indestructible brick of a Nokia dumbphone to an easy-to-destroy smartphone is likely a bit hesitant to mess around with the expensive smartphone. It might also be one of those instances where a smartphone case is a good idea.

Good luck,

Photo by Everett Collection (Shutterstock), Sklathill, Carlos Varela.

Get iBoostUp for Half Off Today

OS X: Previously mentioned iBoostUp, the powerful system cleanup utility, is on sale at 50% off today only. While we initially review the free version, you can get the $10 premium version with its extra features for only $5.

While the free version cleans your system, iBoostUp's premium offering does a more thorough job. It can clear out your memory, find duplicate files, remove unnecessary code from your apps that make them take up extra disk space, locate files you aren't using, and much more. You can get these options through the free version through in-app purchases, but iBoostUp Premium automatically includes everything now and in the future. This way you won't have to pay for upgrades you want as time goes on. A couple of in-app purchases add up to $5 already, so if you like a few features you might as well just get them all. Discount or not, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than competitor CleanMyMac (which is also a very nice option that winds up in app discount bundles frequently).

iBoostUp Premium ($5) | Mac App Store

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14th

This week we tackled all the new Apple news, hacked our cars, figured out why we're so tired all the time, and learned everything Google's voice commands can do. Here's a look back.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

iOS 7 won't be coming to your iPhone and iPad until this fall, but a lot of its best features are available through third-party apps and jailbreak hacks right now. If you want to get in on the action early, here a few ways to add some of the new functionality right now.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

You spend an awful lot of time in your car every day, especially if you have a long commute—so why settle for what you're given when you can make it better on the cheap? Here are 10 ways to do just that.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

Dear Lifehacker,
I get a good 7–8 hours of sleep every night and exercise at least 3 times a week, but somehow I still feel tired every day. What’s sapping my energy and what can I do about it?

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

If you carry around a multitool in your bag or pocket for quick fixes, repair work, or just in case you need a sharp edge, a screwdriver, or pair of scissors, you're in good company. Many of you do, and this week we wanted to take a look at some of the best available—the ones that pack useful tools, are still portable, and offer great bang for the buck. Here are five of the best, based on your nominations.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

Voice search is one of those features that seems silly, but is awesome once you start using it. Not convinced? Here are a few ways to turn voice search from a silly gimmick into a useful productivity tool.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

Today, Apple announced iOS 7 with a ton of new features, a complete overhaul to the interface, and plenty more. Here are all the new features.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

We've all hit that point where we can't figure out exactly what we really want to do with our lives. It can come when you're 18 or when you're 50, and it's always a difficult process to work through. It's not hopeless, though! Here are a few ways to help you figure it out.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

Dear Lifehacker,
I like Apple hardware, but it doesn't run cheap and I'm not sure I want to use OS X. I know I can run Windows, but am I wasting money purchasing a Mac if I'm not using it as a Mac? When does it make sense to buy Apple hardware instead of a standard PC?

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

Back in 1991, Warren Buffett met Bill Gates, though as he tells career community website Levo League, neither of them were excited to see one another. But it turned out they had a great time talking—and during the course of the conversation, Buffett pulled out the little black date book that he carries in his pocket. He flipped through it: The pages were practically empty.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

If you haven't heard yet, Gmail is rolling out a new tabbed interface for the inbox on both desktop and mobile. At first glance, this looks great for email organization. On further inspection, these new tabs are confusing as hell. Here's how to make sense of the new tabs and customize them for your own filters.

This Week's Most Popular Posts: June 7th to 14thS

The internet is aflame with the news that the National Security Agency may be spying on phone calls and internet access of American citizens, and the possibility that they've partnered with some of the biggest tech companies in the world—Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Skype, and others—to request and access data directly whenever they want it. Let's take a look at what exactly is going on, how long it's been happening, and what—if anything—you can do about it.