Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Make Cold-Brewed Coffee in Your Hotel Room

Make Cold-Brewed Coffee in Your Hotel Room

Most hotel rooms these days come equipped with a cheap coffee maker, but let's face it, that's not going to do the trick for everyone. If cold-brewed coffee is more to your liking, you can make it yourself right in the room.

Kent Brewster shares this clever idea on Medium. The only extra material you'll need is a tumbler of some kind, but you could probably get one from room service, or pack your own for a long trip. Just put one of your room-provided coffee filter packs in the bottom of the cup, and fill the rest with water. Then (carefully) place a coffee pot over the cup, and turn it upside down overnight.

Come morning, you'll have a highly concentrated batch of coffee waiting for you. If you want it hot, just run some water through the coffee maker and directly into the pot. Be sure to check out the source link for more details.

Cold-Brewed Coffee in Your Hotel Room | Medium via The Kitchn

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Homemade rocket with rocket fuel and engine

I really like and enjoy estes rocket, and I decided to make one myself. 
I also made the fuel and the engine. All is made from the materials you can easily obtain or even have at your house right now. 

They can go up to 300 meters (1,000 ft) on this fuel. 

Making the fuel involves working with the ammonium nitrate, please before you do it, read this article -
Especially the "What are the immediate health effects of ammonia exposure?" paragraph, so you realize the risks you are taking and I am not responsible for the consequences.

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How to Sew a Bow Bracelet

Here you can download the pattern for the bow bracelet. You don't need to use it - as you can see you will need to cut out a piece of material that is approximately 7 inches by 5 inches high. And an extra piece about 1 1/2 inches by 4 inches wide for the band. Please read this step of instructions before you cut out your material - so you know how to do it right!

About the material: I used a very soft stretchy material - a cotton spandex mix. Try to use something that has a good three inches of stretch to it. Please measure around your wrist before you cut out the piece. Everyone is different and you may need this to be larger or smaller around your wrist.

When you cut out the main piece, be sure the material is stretchiest along the direction that it will go around your wrist. And, if you can use a material that does not fray, that would save you some trouble in sewing. My cotton-blended spandex material doesn't fray, so I did not need to do any sewing along the edges.

My striped bracelet in the image is a cute vintage style. I cut the material out of an old vintage shirt that was uncomfortable and never worn. It was a little stretchy, but not that stretchy compared to the cotton-spandex material. It also needed the edges sewn in. So, I did a narrow hem along the edges with my narrow-hem presser foot (I also adjusted the tension to make it looser so it was easier to sew). Sewing the edges made this even less stretchy - so be aware of that. It is still super cute. But, I won't be using it as a hairband.

So, I would recommend using a stretchy, non-fraying material. Now, please cut out your pieces.

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Homemade Sparklers for the 4th of July! - (Improvised Hand-Held Fireworks)

51. Homemade Sparklers INSTRUCTABLES.jpgIn this project, we're making hand-held sparklers for the 4th of July.  When it's time to celebrate with fireworks, you could just buy them.  Or you could improvise, and make your own.Instructables seems to be having technical difficulties with embedded videos right now, so in the mean-time, you can just CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SPARKLER TUTORIAL VIDEO

WARNING: There is a very real risk to health and safety.  This project should not be attempted without adult supervision and adequate training.  Pyrotechnics are not toys, and should be handled with extreme caution and respect.  High temperatures on the stove or oven may cause auto-ignition of the pyrotechnic composition which may lead to serious injury, death, and/or permanent damage to equipment and property.  Ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area, and resulting damage may not be covered by your insurance.  Check city laws and ordinances before attempting.  Use of this video content is at your own risk.??

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Five Best Cloud Storage Providers

Free cloud storage is easy to come by these days—anyone can give it out, and anyone can give out lots of it. However, the best cloud storage providers give you more than just storage. They offer availability, multi-platform support, security, app integration, and more. This week we're going to look at five of the best cloud storage providers on the market, thanks to your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you to nominate the cloud storage providers you thought were the best. You came in with tons of great nominees—way more than we could highlight here. Regardless, some definitely stood higher than the others, especially considering the last time we asked you about cloud storage services. Here's what you said:

If you're reading this, you probably already know what Dropbox is. We've covered Dropbox and services that support it extensively, and most of you here have followed along with our tricks to get as much space as you possibly can. Many people bemoan Dropbox's position at the top of the pack as being a matter of popularity and the fact that they were one of the first to really popularize cloud storage (referral links and storage bonuses didn't hurt), but it's not just popularity that makes Dropbox special. Support for virtually every operating system, both desktop and mobile, experimental and beta builds that add tons of useful features, and a vast third-party developer community taking advantage of its open APIs to build applications on top of it make Dropbox a great cloud storage service, whether you use it for your files and just sync with the desktop clients, or you have another favorite app that uses Dropbox to keep your files synced across devices. Dropbox has its woes (especially with regard to security), but it's a stellar option—if it weren't, people wouldn't keep using it. Plans start with 2GB, but you can get way more than that via referrals, mobile app use, photo and video uploads, or by using an EDU address. You can check out their plans here.

Google Drive's inclusion in the top five came as a bit of surprise, especially considering some of the older contenders that fell off due to lack of votes. Drive has only been around for about a year, but the fact that it combines the tools that formerly known as Google Docs (Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Drawing), all of your files created with those tools, and 15GB of storage for anything else you want makes it a strong contender. After all, if you're using those tools in your day to day work, it makes sense to use Google Drive for file storage as well. Plus, the fact that it's available in OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android makes it useful at your desk or on the go. Plus, with the right plugins, it can be even more powerful than other services you may also use. Those of you who nominated Google Drive almost unanimously praised its tight integration with the Google services you already use, and of course its pricing. 15GB for free, and you can go here to check out their other plans (as well as see your current utilization) or go here to read more about Drive.

SkyDrive used to be pretty clunky and difficult to use, but Microsoft's cloud storage service has come a long way since those days. It's tightly integrated with Windows now, especially Windows 8 for desktops and tablets, and if you use Office 2013 at all—either on the desktop or on the web—using SkyDrive as cloud storage for all of your files is quick and seamless. SkyDrive also has mobile apps for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android, so you can stay up to date on changes to your files and access them on the go, anywhere you have an internet connection. Desktop clients for Windows and Mac make working with your saved documents and syncing them easy too. If you got in while the latest iteration of the service was still in beta, you probably have a cool 25GB of storage, but even if you signed up today, you'd still walk away with 7GB of storage, 10GB if you're a student, with the option to buy more storage if you need it or run out. SkyDrive also has a third-party app ecosystem and open APIs, and a number of tools that tie nicely into it. Those of you who nominated Skydrive praised it for its Microsoft integration, especially with Office and Windows, and its third party app support.

SugarSync has been around for a long time, and it's incredibly richly featured. It's not as widely used as some of the other big names, but in some ways, it really should be. SugarSync has insanely detailed syncing options, and can back up or sync any files or folders you choose on your system, not just a single folder and all of its contents. SugarSync can work like a backup client, automatically backing up your files as you change them, or you can use it like a traditional syncing cloud service, complete with a drive on your system you drop files in. The service keeps an impressive revision history for each of your files, lets you share, lock down, or password protect individual files on the web or on the desktop, and even makes streaming media to your mobile devices easy. While they don't really put their free plan up front, you can get 5GB for free, and make use of the service's wealth of features, along with their desktop apps for OS X and Windows and their mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. If you need more storage, their pricing plans are pretty attractive.

Bitcasa was surprising contender, considering some of the names that fell short of the nominations, but it's a great service to mention. Aside from having virtually unlimited storage options—we mean in the terabytes, easily, Bitcasa has syncing clients for Windows and OS X, and mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone (including tablet versions of all three). Bitcasa knows that you'll probably use that wealth of space for photos, music, and movies, and makes it easy to stream that content to your mobile devices when you're on the go, or to your desktop when you want to use it. They even have a Chrome extension that lets you use Bitcasa as your downloads folder. Bitcasa is free for 10GB, but if you're willing to pay, you can get infinite storage for $99/yr. Seriously—just keep uploading files and they'll be there. If storage is what you really need—not extra bells and whistles—and you're willing to pay for it, Bitcasa is worth a look.

Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to a final vote to determine the community favorite:

We have to give an honorable mention this week to everyone who suggested you Do It Yourself, essentially using a NAS or other storage device at home packed with disks and any free software that lets you access them anywhere you go from any computer whether you're on your home network or off of it. It's super easy to roll your own cloud storage solution with tools like OwnCloud, or just by giving your NAS locked down access to the internet so you can get to your files when you're away. Either way, hats off to those of you who choose to just do your own thing. Besides, someone has to keep the NSA on their toes, right?

Another honorable mention this week goes out to Box (formerly, which barely missed the top five, and earned high praise from many of you for shoveling out up to 50GB of free space to new users in some cases, and you can still pretty easily find services and promotions offering tons of free space with Box just for signing up and downloading the client. It's not new—it's been around for ages (and was a contender the last time we asked you about cloud storage services), and walks the line between being a consumer-friendly storage and syncing solution and an enterprise-level document management service.

Speaking of referral links, one contender that also missed the top five (but wouldn't, if its supporters had voted correctly instead of just pimping referral links) was Copy, a relative newcomer who's only distinguishing feature, as far as we can tell, is really just that you get 15GB to start, and there's no real cap on how much more you can earn if you get the world to click on your referrals—you get 5GB for each person you get to sign up. Note: Please don't spam the discussions with your referral links. Comments with referral links will be dismissed.

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!

Velis Auto Brightness Offers Total Control of Your Screen Brightness

Velis Auto Brightness Offers Total Control of Your Screen Brightness

Android: We all know that screen brightness has a huge effect on your phone's battery life, but Android's built in auto-brightness setting isn't always accurate, and doesn't offer anything in the way of customization. Velis Auto Brightness on the other hand oozes customizability, and gives you more control than you could ever need over your screen's brightness.

The app's main screen basically consists of a curved graph and two handles. Dragging the handles changes how bright your screen should be based at different levels of ambient light. If you want to save on battery life for example, you could make sure that your screen never jumps to 100% brightness, even in direct sunlight.

Digging deeper, you can create custom profiles for different situations. So for a typical day where you could plug in your phone at your desk, you might allow the screen to be brighter than when you're out on a camping trip. There are literally dozens of other minor settings to dig through if you really want to get technical, but for nothing more than the customizable profiles, this app is a no-brainer for all Android owners.

Velis Auto Brightness (Free) | Google Play via Ghacks