Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cedar Deck

The first step in any building project is to create a structural grid. Lacking advanced survey equipment, we will use string lines and a line level to establish an imaginary plane over the building site that represents the surface of the future deck. This plane will then become a continuing reference throughout construction, keeping the disparate elements coherent to one another.

We wanted our deck to be centered on the door in the side of the adjoining building. I established a level ilne by measuring 1-1/2" down from the underside of the lintel beneath the door (to accomodate the deck boards), setting the level, and tracing a line. We bolted two 12' 2x10s (cut to 141") to the wall, aligning the top of the boards with that level line and one end with the center of the doorway. Adapt these measurements to match whatever building you may be attaching to; if attaching into masonry, use expanding-sleeve masonry bolts (RedHeads) every 12" to secure the 2x10s. If attaching to wood framing, use a pair of 1/2" lag bolts every 16", connecting with studs whenever possible. 

At one end of the 2x10s, pound in a 3" nail. Tie a string line to it and stretch it out, roughly square, about 20'. On either side of the string, pound in two 2x4 stakes, about three feet apart. Put the line level on the string line and pull taut against one of the uprights. When the line level bubble is dead in the middle, trace the string's location onto the stake. Screw a piece of 2x4 level across the pair of stakes, with the top of the board aligned with the pencil mark.

The resultant H-shaped arrangement is called a batter board. The top of the cross bar should, theoretically, be level with the top of the 2x10 rim joist attached to the building. Pull the string line tight again, with a helper holding the framing square against the rim joist. Once the string seems square to the building, make a mark on the 2x4 cross bar on the batter board. Put in a screw and tie off the string.

Repeat at the other end of the rim joist. Measure along the strings to make sure they are an even 23'6" apart, all the way along their length. Make a mark on each string at 186" out from the wall. Measure from that mark to the opposite corner, where the other string meets the rim joist. If the strings are square and parallel, those diagonal measurements should match. 

Establish the outer string line at the 186" mark, measure diagonals to ensure it is parallel to the wall. Pull two centerlines, shifted 5-1/2" off of perfect center to accomodate the width of the 6x6s. You should now have a grid of strings, all level, with six points of intersection. 

View the original article here

Arduino Web Enabled RGB Lighting

finished_closed_1.jpgI just happened to see some large strips of LED lighting when I was picking up some parts at Maplin which were on sale (if I remember correct they were around £12 per approx. 2m strip) however the controller/driver was still around £40, so I thought I would just build a better one myself.
I wanted it to be a web enabled controller as there are a lot of cool things that can be done with a device once it is accessible over HTTP, and I am working on a home automation server project so it would be good to have some devices which I can test this with.

Anyway, let's get started, here is a basic parts list, some of the components may change depending on the nature of your lighting installation (i.e. if you are driving more LEDs you may need higher power transistors, etc.): Arduino (Duemilanove, Uno, etc., can be done with a Mega but it is overkill) Ethernet Shield 12v to 5v switchmode DC-DC converters (my LED strips rat at 12v but the Arduino needs 5v and this is more efficient than a linear converter) Assorted resistors (for transistor protection, usually around 100-500 ohms) NPN transistors (I just used basic NPN transistors as I was only switching around 300mA per channel) Push to make button Various connectors and cables Stripboard (goes by various other names, I used this to make my driver circuit into an Arduino shield) Enclosure (optional but recommended) Fuse and fuse holder (optional but highly recommended for permanent installations) Scrap materials to make any mounting hardware needed (I used HIPS to mount my Arduino in the enclosure) Tools I used which would help: Soldering iron Multimeter Small flat screwdriver Small posi-drive screwdriver Laser cutter (drills and a file will suffice if you don't have access to one) All the code for this project is available at this GitHub repo.

Here is a quick demo of my installation at uni using an Android app for control:

driver_schematic.pngNOTE: Please read the next two steps before starting any work mentioned here, I had to do some modification to my original shield because of power issues, they are described on the next step.

Here you will want to build the driver circuit depicted in the schematic below, this can be done in the same way I did it and made into a shield to stack on top of the Arduino and Ethernet shield, or can be a separate board, either way will work, but I don't see any advantage to not making it as a shield.

Some minor points, you will want to have three power cables coming from your shield: One +12v cable going to the 12v pin on the LED strip output One +5v pin going to the 5v pin on the Arduino, and One ground going to the ground pin on the Arduino The reason for this is explained in the next step.

There are some good guides to building a shield from scratch using stripboard on YouTube, alternatively you could use a (semi) pre-built prototyping shield.

View the original article here

Antique Chai Recipe

P6200484.JPGBefore my grandparents moved to Norway during the 60's and 70's, their ancestors had been living on the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. With them, they brought this recipe for chai, passed down through generations since medieval times. I find this to be the best chai I've ever tasted, and think that more people should have the possibility to taste it. Therefore, I'm sharing this recipe with y'all. So, yeah, let's make chai!P6200469.JPGThere are two ways to brew chai. You may brew it in milk, which is most common in India/Pakistan, or you may brew it in water. In this case, I chose to brew in water. Later on, you add milk to taste. The ingridients are simple, but they include spices that you may have to track down before you can make the chai. Powdered spices do not give the same taste, so whole spices are recommended.

- About 5 dl/2 cups of water.
- 1 star anise. (If you can't track it down in "normal" grocery stores, try International food stores. They are almost certain to have it, if not you can order it cheap on the Internet. Try for example iHerb)
- 3 pods cardamom.
- A small piece of cinnamon. (About 3 times 3 centimeter/1 inch times 1 inch)
- 3 spikes of cloves.
- 3 teabags. (Not pictured)
- Milk. (No exact amount, use as much as you want)
- Sugar to taste.

This recipe makes enough tea for two-three persons.

View the original article here

Go Incognito and Keep Financial Sites from Caching Your Sensitive Data

Private browsing, a.k.a. incognito mode, is useful for more than just porn. It can protect you against sites (including online banks, health sites, and insurance companies) that are storing your sensitive data on your hard drive when they shouldn't be.

When you visit a site that uses the HTTPS or SSL encryption protocol to protect sensitive data, you might expect that sensitive information to be cleared once you close the browser. You know, things like your customer account number, account balances, prescription history, canceled checks images, statements, credit reports, and more.

Unfortunately this isn't the case, according to a recent study by security firm Independent Security Evaluators. They found that twenty-one of the thirty sites evaluated (70%)—including Verizon Wireless, PayPal, Allstate, Equifax, and Scottrade—are saving sensitive data to users' disk caches.

That means if you ever share your computer with someone else, or if your laptop is stolen, that data is completely unsecured. According to ISE:

The fact that the unencrypted, disk cached data is only stored on the user's personal machine should not be discounted. The possibilities for this information to be exposed are numerous: malware infections, theft of laptops and mobile devices, theft of physical backup media or compromise of “cloud” backup services, shared machines and user accounts, and of course, shared computers in libraries, hotels, and Internet cafes.

The sensitive information is stored on your computer and easily retrievable (even if you didn't know it's saved to disk).

The problem stems from the way browsers and web servers communicate about caching content to disk. Web servers—especially the financial ones we're talking about—are supposed to send a standard "Browsers Control: no store" header to tell browsers not to cache the content. ISE found that some don't send any caching instructions. Others do send a "no cache" header, but are using antiquated, non-standard instructions that only work with Internet Explorer and not Chrome or Firefox. All three browsers enable disk caching by default even for HTTPS sites, rather than letting you opt-in. So, in short, there's plenty of blame to go around between the browsers and the websites themselves.

There are two things you can do to prevent your sensitive information from being saved to disk: The easiest is to just use private browsing mode for your financial and similar sensitive accounts or restrict disk caching for encrypted sites.

Alternatively, ISE offers these recommendations:

To End-Users. Users should make the following configuration changes, depending on each browser:

Internet Explorer. Internet explorer already abides by most web application attempts to prevent disk caching. To further restrict what can be cached, a user can open Internet Options, choose the Advanced tab, and under Security, check “Do not save encrypted pages to disk”. This option may have unwanted side effects, such as interfering with file downloads from HTTPS sites. Alternatively, use InPrivate Browsing mode.

Firefox. Install our “HTTPS Caching Controller” Firefox add-on, which adds a toolbar button allowing disk caching of SSL content to be disabled or enabled at any time. This add-on works only on the desktop version of Firefox. Manually, or on the mobile version, navigate to "about:config," enter the preference "browser.cache.disk_cache_ssl," and double-click to switch the value from "true" to "false." Alternatively, use Private Browsing mode.

Chrome. ISE could not locate any settings in Chrome to easily limit disk caching of HTTPS requests. Instead, use Incognito mode.

Safari. Safari users (both desktop and mobile) need not take any action, since, as of this writing, Safari does not cache any content transferred over HTTPS.

In addition to taking these precautions, never log into account-related or other security-sensitive sites from a computer or other device you do not own and control.

You could also clear your browser's cache whenever you close it or on a schedule. For example, you could run CCleaner after browsing or create a cleanup script to run after your browsing session. Firefox users can set their browser to automatically clear the cache when the browser closes and Chrome users can use the Click & Clean extension to do this. Here are instructions on WikiHow for clearing the cache manually for all browsers. This, however, wipes out everything cached by your browser, including stuff from regular HTTP sites.

Until browsers and web servers get their act together, it's better to be safe than sorry and keep your sensitive info safe from being saved to your computer unencrypted.

Industry-wide Misunderstandings of HTTPS | Independent Security Evaluators via LA Times

View the original article here

Super cute birdhouse from used or broken tile

instructable birdhouse 006.JPGBirdhouses are not that difficult to make. However adding a touch of flare can be fun, creative and inexpensive.

This project utilized used( clean of grout) and mismatched tiles  as well as grout that were reclaimed from the Habitat For Humanity Store. Not only is it good for the environment that this material did not go to landfill, and I helped out a great organization fund housing projects for the less fortunate. Ideally, I would have preferred using reclaimed wood to make the birdhouse but time was not on my side. I opted for purchasing a cheap house from the dollar store. Future houses will be reclaimed.

Instruct birdhouse1.tifI would have liked to build my own bird house out of reclaimed wood but I ran out of time. When i had gone to The Habitat For Humanity store they did not have any wood that was thin enough for my purpose and I did not have time to return another day. So, I opted for buying a cheap house from the dollar store and modify it to be habitat friendly.

View the original article here

Come watch the Ask Lifehacker Podcast live, starting in just a few minutes!

Come watch the Ask Lifehacker Podcast live, starting in just a few minutes! If you've got a question, post one to the comments on the YouTube live stream and we'll get to as many as possible.

View the original article here