Sunday, October 20, 2013

Moment Simplifies Posting Photos and Status Updates to Facebook

Moment Simplifies Posting Photos and Status Updates to Facebook

OS X: Moment lives in your Mac's menu bar and provides a stupidly simple method of checking Facebook status updates and posting your own. It's also one of the best ways we've seen to upload your photos.

When you click Moment in your menu bar, you get notifications from Facebook. Choosing one takes you to its page so you can reply, like, or share it. You can also post your own updates quickly from the app. While convenient, this doesn't add anything we haven't seen before. How Moment handles photo uploads, however, sets it apart. You can add a photo to any status update easily by dragging it to the menu bar. If you drag several photos, however, you get album creation tools. I've used a ton of Facebook photo uploading apps and many of them failed to operate as designed or provided few options (like things as simple as creating and album). Many uploaded albums I couldn't even edit afterwards. Moment, on the other hand, handles this all through in an instant without taking up space on your desktop.

If you want a quick way to interact with Facebook and only visit the site when necessary, Moment will get the job done. Although $4 is a bit pricey for a menubar app, alternatives just don't work as well. Hopefully we'll see a price reduction in the future, but if you like what Moment can do it's a small price to pay.

Moment ($4) | Mac App Store

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How Can I Keep My Family from Disturbing Me When I Work at Home?

Dear Lifehacker,
I love my family and I love working from home, but these two things don’t always go well together. Now that school’s out and my wife and kids are home more often, I’m afraid the noise and interruptions while I’m trying to work might drive me insane. How can I limit disturbances so I can actually get work done?

Distracted Dad

Dear Distracted,

It’s almost funny, isn’t it? Working from home is often lauded as one of the best ways to achieve work-life balance, yet the biggest hurdles to working productively at home are disturbances or demands for your attention from family members. Significant others and children often don’t realize that being at home doesn’t mean you’re available to hang out or play.

While there’s no solution for getting rid of family distractions entirely (and, no, you can’t tie them up or lock them in a sound-proofed room), a few tricks can make this situation a lot easier on everyone. These are things I’ve learned over fifteen years of working from home, as well as good advice on Twitter from Lifehacker readers.

How Can I Keep My Family from Disturbing Me When I Work at Home?

The first thing to do is have a discussion with your family to make sure they know how important it is for you to actually be able to work when you’re at home. You might say something like, “I love having you near me while I’m working, but I have trouble focusing when I’m interrupted or there’s a lot of noise in the background. I’d really appreciate it if you could help me by keeping the noise down and pretending I’m not even here during my work hours. Otherwise my boss will kill me!” (Point them to this study if you have to.)

Make it crystal clear when you’re in your no-interruption zone. If you have a separate office (a real must if you work from home often with others around!), keep your door closed or even hang a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign on it. On Twitter, tbanting says he uses a red post-it note on the door as a signal he’s busy, while Lea Antonio says: “I wear my 'I’m working' hat which means no interruptions unless fire or blood is involved.”

That brings me to another point. Sometimes family members should interrupt you, but the key is to get them to know which interruptions are okay and when. Give them examples of things that are both urgent and important that you can be interrupted for immediately (disasters and emergencies), as well as important but not urgent things that can wait until you take a break. Urgent and important: someone broke a leg. Important but not urgent: someone needs new shoes. Neither important nor urgent: someone found the remote that went missing two minutes ago.

Your home office door can also be a signal system, as Joel Falconer writes on Speckyboy Design Magazine:

My system is simple: if it’s closed all the way, leave me alone — unless one of the kids is dying or the house is on fire. If it’s half-closed, interrupt me for important things — for instance, if my wife needs my card to go get some groceries — but not for anything trivial. And if its open, it means it doesn’t really matter. I’m catching up on industry news or taking a break and I don’t care if one of the kids wants to come in for a game of Angry Birds. Set your boundaries and enforce them.

Someone comes in for a pointless chat while the door is half-closed? Use a flamethrower or whatever it takes to dissuade future infringements.

You can also apply classic tricks to curb distractions from co-workers in the office at home: wear noise-cancelling headphones, give them a chore to do when they interrupt you, or move your work area (maybe to the farthest, most uncomfortable room in your house or even the garage).

How Can I Keep My Family from Disturbing Me When I Work at Home?

Your work-at-home boundaries should also include time. Set a consistent schedule with clear times when you’re working, taking breaks, or officially off the clock. In effect, set office hours. These can be flexible (e.g., a couple of hours in the morning with an hour break, then a few more hours of work with fifteen minute breaks) so you get some quality time in during the day with your kids or partner. Again, just make sure everyone’s in on this program.

If a set schedule isn’t working, though, you might have to break up your day or change your work hours to get real focus time. That might mean getting up earlier or working late at night. When my daughter was younger, I used to schedule phone calls during her nap times (oh, how I miss nap time), and I still find the midnight-to–3am writing slot to be the most peaceful. There’s nothing like working while your loved ones are sleeping soundly in the next room.

How Can I Keep My Family from Disturbing Me When I Work at Home?

An alternative is to find a way to occupy restless or needy kids and spouses. This is especially important if your job involves talking on the phone or has similar needs for real quiet. Kathy Jimenez recommends, for example, reserving TV time for times when you need to be on Skype for a meeting. (And then close your office door and be ready with the mute button.) Jessica Reeder says that in addition to a closed door, it helps to plan meals and activities ahead. Anti-boredom activity boxes keep school-aged kids engaged. And, yes, this goes for adults, Reeder says: “e.g., ‘You’ve got the day off? That’s great, why don’t you go gamble all day and bring home some pizza’.”

For working at home with young kids, child care is a must, at least part-time for those hours you need to concentrate. Many kids are good at entertaining themselves, but that only works up to a point. You might feel pangs of guilt dividing your attention between work and your child. That’s where childcare comes in. Encourage the caregiver to take your kid outside, if possible, because it can be just as hard hearing your child laugh and squeal in the next room without you as it is to constantly say “No, I can’t play right now.” (Actually, this kind of distraction applies to significant others too, such as when your spouse is watching the latest episode of True Blood without you.)

Also, while it’s nice to be needed sometimes, it’s aggravating to be interrupted for things the other person can do on their own. Identify those weak spots ahead of time so you can wean your family off of your help. For example, keep snack packs in reach of little hands, create a central location for supplies (so that mom’s not the only one who knows where the tape is) or even information (e.g., share the passwords for important sites so you don’t have to hear someone yelling from downstairs, “What’s the password for…?”).

How Can I Keep My Family from Disturbing Me When I Work at Home?

Finally, dealing with distractions is something all workers struggle with, no matter where they work. In addition to the tips above, a change in perspective might help you when you get stressed by the interruptions. As Jose says on Twitter, “I can’t tame the #homeworking interruptions, but I can shut them out and ignore them.” Father of three kids, Geof Hileman, says: “just embrace it - kid interruptions are my water cooler time.”

If worse comes to worst, you might have to leave the house for a brief stint working from a coffeeshop (or, as Jafet.js jokes, “don’t tell them you are working from home, pretend going to office, get back through the bathroom window, and then hide somewhere inside and work.”)

But hopefully you won’t have to go to that extreme.


Photos by pagetx, Joshua Blount, Rituparna Choudhury.

Sea Horse from a Pool Noodle

Sea Horse 14.JPGSummer time is pool time and pool noodles are cheap and fun.  So let’s add an fun twist to the plain old pool noodle (available right now at most dollar stores) and turn it into a fun and water proof “Sea Horse”, and this is how to do it.Sea Horse 1.JPGSupplies:
A pool noodle (the thinner ones work better)
12” x 4” (30cm x 10 cm) strip of felt (color to go well with the color of your noodle)
E-6000 glue (I got the new white glue, don’t like it was well, it is waterproof though)
Paring knife (sharp)
2 glass pebbles (available in the floral department of your local craft store)
Clothes pins
Straight pins
Yarn (mine is 100% cotton white)

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Try Doing Some Creative Work When You're in a Bad Mood

Try Doing Some Creative Work When You're in a Bad Mood

When you're feeling cranky or upset, it might feel like the worst time to tackle a problem or do something creative. A study by the British Psychological Society implies that may not be the case.

The researchers found, while examining 100 creative professionals, that those who were in bad moods at the start of the day were be more persistent in trying to find a solution to problems. Being cranky at the start might suck, but once you've begun, that energy and momentum can keep you going even when your mood has long-since simmered. Or, to put it more science-y:

The narrow, alert focus on issues can be useful by focusing on things that are in need of a solution and spurring motivation to act on these; previous research does suggest that negative emotion can lead to more persistence in problem solving. Once this focus has been set, allowing the negative emotions to slide away and positive emotions to explore the possibility space is a good recipe for getting to innovative solutions.

Of course, doing things to upset yourself for no other reason than to be in a bad mood won't help, but next time you find yourself frustrated or angry, find a way to funnel that energy into something productive or creative.

In a Bad Mood? Tackle a Creative Task | Inc.

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Bike-Portable Shopping Cart

EcoShopTot8002.jpgThis project shows a way to bring the groceries from the cash desk in the supermarket into the house. To do so, I designed a stable shopping cart that can be carried on the rear rack of a bicycle. The wheels can be folded down to use the cart at standing height. Beside shopping cart it can also be used as a child stroller with room to store things. No modification at the bike is necessary to use this cart in a simple and versatile way. Simple, because you can easily take the cart on and off the bike. Versatile, because you can think-up many applications. The wheels are nearly 20 cm or 8 inch, so you can drve with ease on streets and sidewalks. Also low thresholds are no problem, that different from the usual shopping cart. The container is made from 9 mm or 0,35 inch thick multiplex board, glue'd and nailed together. All parts of the cart you can buy at the local diy market. I used the castors of an old  rollator. The weight of the cart is 11Kg or 24,25 pound. The volume is 50 liter or 13.2 gallon. A building plan, an instruction video and many photo's are making this project easy to replicate.
                                                                           The movie BikeBoxtxt3.jpgI like working with wood. It fits in well with this project. You can buy it in the local DIY shop and you can edit with common tools. I took a 61cm by 122cm or 2x4 foot multiplex board. See picture 3. Birchwood 8mm or 0.31 Inch at the outside and the stronger 9mm or 0.35 inch standard multiplex at the inside. See picture 4. Now we can start drawing the sizes on the board.

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Q&D Trellis

DSCN4113.JPGThe scene: Father’s day, my wife and son had gone to church. At home by myself, I was bored. My wife had decreed that I wasn’t to work on my boat until some things were done around the house; that sounds bad, she’d have let me get away with it on Father’s day… I think. Not wanting to scrape and paint the house’s windows, I decided to see what else was about that needed doing. We had discussed removing a bit of what was probably once white picket fence (the house was built in the 50’s afterall) and replacing it with a trellis for some as yet to be determined climbing plant. I did have a bunch of thin strips of wood leftover from building spars for the boat… I wonder if I could build a trellis from them???Tools:
Hand saw for cutting strips to length
Wire cutters

Thin strips of wood approx. 3/8-inch x 1/4-inch, size not critical – thin bamboo would work nicely
2 large plastic wire “zip” ties
16 small plastic wire “zip” ties – more if you screw up or break some

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