Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Best Dashboard Apps to Start Your Morning Right

Like it or not, the first thing a lot of us look at in the morning is our phone or tablet. To that end, a slew of different apps have popped up that seek to get your morning off on the right foot. Here are the best depending on what you're looking for.

If you're hooked into the Google system with Gmail, Calendar, Maps, or any of its other services, the Google Now (Free) is easily the best option you have for a morning dashboard.

Google Now lives inside the Google Search app. With Google Now, you'll automatically get a dashboard of up to date information about your day, the weather, and a ton of other things you care about automatically. Just load up Google Now, pull up the cards, and everything you need is right there in front of you. It's perfect if you're deeply invested in Google's ecosystem because it'll show you everything relevant to your upcoming day. That said, if you're not big into Google, it's a pretty worthless feature.

The Best Dashboard Apps to Start Your Morning RightSMorning for iPad ($2.99) is probably one our favorite direct alternative to Google Now because it manages to emulate a lot of what Google Now does without requiring an account. Like Google Now, you get access to pretty every upcoming event in your day on a single screen.

Unlike Google Now, Morning requires that you set it up a little. You have eight options for your main dashboard, including weather, to-dos, calendar appointments, stocks, news headlines, commute and travel time, the current date and time, or a countdown timer. You can customize the app within those options so you're only shown what matters to you. The basic idea here is to get you just the information you need as quickly as possible.

The problem with Morning is that it's not particularly powerful and you can't really do much else with it. That's part of what makes it great, but power users are going to wish it could do a bit more.

The Best Dashboard Apps to Start Your Morning RightStatus Board for iPad ($9.99) is a powerful dashboard app that has a ton of customization options so you can use it however you want. Like most dashboards, you get access to email, tweets, to-dos, the weather, or mail, but you also get great visualizations of all that data so you can really understand what you're looking at.

If the standard old info on Status Board isn't enough, you can also graph your own data if you'd like, or create your own HTML snippets. Essentially, you can turn Status Board into the perfect dashboard app if you're willing to do a bit of work.

Status Board also has output through Apple TV or HDMI, which means it's great if you need to display a bunch of information to a group of people and not just yourself. It might be a bit excessive for the common user, but if you need the extra features and power, Status Board offers enough customization that you can serve up all kinds of data on the screen at once.

If you're looking for a completely different way to start your morning, Pindolo for iPhone offers just that. Instead of supplying you with a ton of useful information about your day, Pindola serves up inspiration quotes, songs, and more.

It might sound silly, but we've seen before, cuteness can actually make you more productive, so Pindola's not totally off the mark. Instead of boring you with your email or the weather, Pindola gives you an inspiration quote, or a song and happily sends you on your way.

How to Make Colorful Flowers with Curling Ribbons

Here is what you need:

1.    An assortment of different colored curling ribbons, approximately 10 meters long in each color (10 meters is enough to make two flowers). I have three different width ribbons: 0.75", 0.5" and 0.2". The wider ribbons can be used to make the larger sized flowers.

2.    16 gauge by 18" long pieces of floral wire. If you don’t have this size, you could use 18 gauge. I need 20 wires for my bouquet of 20 flowers.

3.    A ruler.

4.    Medium size vase. Mine is 8" high, clear glass with ruffles.

5.    A roll of floral tape (optional).

6.    Pliers.

7.    Scissors.

8.    A cluster of daisies (optional).

9.    Small size clothes pins. You can find these in the scrapbooking section at your craft store.

10.  Iron (not in the picture).

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Simple Leather Purse

Here are instructions for a simple leather purse. No sewing is required, just some leather cutting (which is easiest if you have access to a laser cutter) and some lacing.

The purse is about 9" x 9" x 3" when finished.

Materials required (all are available at Tandy Leather)
1) leather (I used a large scrap of vegetable tanned leather): $20
2) lacing (I bought a 35 yard roll of lacing, but only about 3 yards were needed for the purse): $35
3) a lacing needle ($5-$10)
4) a razor (for cutting lacing)
5) a laser cutter (if you don't want to cut the leather by hand)

Attached are four files with the specific pattern I used:
1) a .dwg file (autocad file) at full scale (inches)
2) a .dxf file at full scale (inches
3) a 1/4 scale pdf with a few dimensions
4) a 1/4 scale pdf with no dimensions

I made it at Techshop:

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WakeVoice Is an Alarm Clock That Talks To You (and You Can Talk To)

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GEEK molds with 3D print #1

G3D-SF-molds-stormtrooper.jpgSo you are one the us geeks who were always searching for cookies shaped like Donkey Kong or soap shaped like computer mouse? Well search no more, because you can do all of this in house...I present my series of GEEK silicone molds easily done in your own home with awesome 3D print technologies...

For the first GEEK mold instructable I've chosen the Star Wars Stormtrooper mold for "casting" ice "cubes" or chocolate or anything else you can think of - the cool thing is to fill the mold with some fruit syrup and have some improvised popsicle...

G3D-SF-molds-stormtrooper-11.jpgAs always with 3D printing, you can not do anything without 3D model created by 3D modeling or 3D scanning - I use Rhinoceros for all of my modelings but you can use anything you like - there are bunch of free modeling tools out there so go and explore. One thing you need to take care of, when talking about 3D printing, is creating a so called "water tight model" or WTM. 

This WTM in plain words marks that your design should have no holes and "leaks" where water could came out if in theory you would fill it up. You should not have objects without volume (plain surfaces or curves) - everything needs to be a solid so the printer can make it. 

The best way to make sure you have no errors (holes, overlapping triangles, bad edges, etc) which could affect quality of the print, is to use some of the specialized softwares for 3DP preparation - a good free solutions are MiniMagics and MeshLab.

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Wrangle Your Cables with Paper Towel Tubes

Wrangle Your Cables with Paper Towel Tubes

While it might not be as effective as a rain gutter, a paper towel or toilet paper tube can get the job done for simple cable management behind your desk.

All you have to do is cut the tube open lengthwise, and feed your cables through. You could do it without cutting, but this makes it a lot easier to work with. Once you're satisfied, just attach it to the back of your desk to filter all of your cables through one spot. I set mine on a windowsill behind the desk because I didn't have any duct tape at home, but that would work well assuming there's not too much weight or tension on the cables inside.

Obviously, this isn't going to solve all of your cable management needs, but it's a free, halfway way to route them somewhere a little less visible. This trick doesn't have to be limited to just desks, either. As we've previously mentioned, these tubes also work great

for holding your spare cables in storage without any tangles.