Archive for February, 2009

A Beginner’s Guide to Storage Sheds

February 28th, 2009 No comments

Storage sheds are the ideal, multi-use space. In addition to providing loads of storage space for anything from gardening supplies to Christmas decorations, they may serve as an workshop or private getaway.

Storage Sheds

The great thing about storage sheds is that they provide additional living or storage room for your home, yet cost a fraction of what a home addition would.

Storage sheds can be wired for lights, heating and cooling, and can serve as the ultimate catch-all for your household goods, especially if you don’t have a usable shed or garage. Storage sheds may be constructed of wood, steel or vinyl, and may be sold as a kit, may be built on site, or may be delivered in one piece. (more…)

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Tips to Build a Backyard Deck : The Ultimate Weekend Warrior Project

February 28th, 2009 No comments

A backyard deck is a great home improvement project which will not only add practical, outdoor living space, but also add value to your home. Building a deck is a popular project for do-it-yourselfers, yet this doesn’t mean that it is a simple or quick project.

Backyard Deck

Building a deck is both physically demanding and tedious, and requires exact measurements and cuts. If you think you’re up to the job, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before getting your project underway:

1. Make sure you have the correct tools to get the job done properly. Having the proper tools, with sharpened blades and safety extension cords will not only make your job easier, but safer, as well.

2. Use only hot-dipped galvanized nails, bolts, screws and fasteners to prevent rust. You may also use aluminum or stainless steel fasteners, although hot-dipped galvanized fasteners are much less expensive. (more…)

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February 28th, 2009 No comments

I wonder how common it is to have a job where you are regularly asked and expected to do things you have no idea how to do?

I’ve never worked outside of my industry. The only significant non-programmer job I’ve ever had was working tech support for an ISP – which didn’t last long as I eventually ended up being their webmaster. Even worse, the closest thing I’ve had to a non-computer-related job was all the non-computer-related class homework I and everyone else had to do while in school. So you might say I lack the needed perspective to answer my own leading question – but that’s not going to stop me from speculating!

Training is something that I hear of frequently in relation to jobs. I believe training is usually presented (or interpreted) as if it is everything a person needs to know about a topic. From what I can tell after dealing with people my whole life, it’s often used as an excuse not to engage the brain. It seems when people are asked to do something that they haven’t been told beforehand how to do, their first instinct is to make it someone else’s problem – someone “more qualified.”

Often this enforced ignorance is encoded within the org chart in the form of authority. Just because the person lower on the totem pole is not allowed to offer up solution XYZ doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t know how to do it – yet they cannot act on it without approval from above and that makes them feel stupid. People don’t generally like to feel stupid, so if this goes on long enough, the easiest and mentally safest thing to do is to just stop knowing stuff.

I believe that most people get their spirit broken somewhere in or just after high school. They redirect their energies toward entertainment or distraction rather than personal improvement. They stop learning skills on their own and wait for approval from an authority beforehand. This might be in the form of sanctioned training classes by their boss, or even just the appearance of a so-called expert on Oprah trying to sell a book. Somewhere along the line they learned that it was better and safer to be told what to do than to try to do anything on their own initiative.

This works out pretty well for the corporate world which most often wants easily replaced cogs in their machines rather than thinking individuals – but cogs can only solve the problems they’ve been programmed to solve. That implies that someone else solved it first. What if the problem has no known solution or you simply cannot find someone else to do it for you? Do you just give up and leave the task undone?

When I’m building things on my own time, experimenting with code, playing with some concept I read about on Wikipedia or whatever, I often hit tough roadblocks and end up stopping. My cover story is that I got “bored” of it or I discovered some new idea I liked better. Things like that. But I suspect the truth is that I, too, am infected with a certain amount of “this is out of my league”-ness.

I bet I could learn anything I needed to solve any of the problems I’ve come across when playing with hobby projects. I’d even bet that some of those ideas were golden had I kept working on them. The reality is that I did not, though. I may have had some idea 10 years ago that today is a million dollar company – but I did not act on it then and I lost. It’s hard to remind myself that this is true, that the fault for things like this is mine. I don’t want to accept that because accepting failure is difficult. I want to blame someone or something else – that is easier.

Successful people never give up. They fail, fail, fail, fail, and then finally succeed. And often they go on to fail many more times in search of the next success.

True success can only be achieved by people who take on the hard problems, the unknown problems, and do them in spite of their lack of formal training or education. They might get motivation from a desire to “stick it to the man who says it can’t be done” or simply through ignorance. How often have you heard of people talking about a famous accomplishment only to hear them say, “I didn’t know it was impossible?”

So do the stuff you don’t know how to do. Make your own success. Fail as often as you must, but strive to succeed because success is good for everyone – especially you.

A Look at the National Home Show

February 27th, 2009 No comments

It’s the last weekend of the National Home Show in Toronto, a massive display of Home Improvement vendors and more. From fireplaces, to kitchen counter top surfaces, luxury whirlpool spas, and smaller knicknacks, you’ll find it all.

Here’s a look of the Dream House, presented by the Toronto Star, sort of like a funhouse maze for grown-ups.

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Don’t forget to watch out for the new Prius.

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You Don’t Have to Be An Expert in Construction to Assemble a Steel Building

February 26th, 2009 No comments

There are several factors to take into account before deciding to build with any specific kind of material. In the US, more and more construction is being done with the highly popular material: steel. First factor to consider is how easy you can fulfill the requirements of the Building Code. Second factor is the time allotted in the construction. It will take less time to assemble a steel building since all component parts are pre-welded and pre-drilled. It is more efficient to calculate for the final cost of the project using the standard building system design which can be adjusted with the help of computerized design and engineering system. Maintaining a traditional structure demands a large amount of money. For steel building, high quality materials are used to ensure minimum effects in the building brought about by harmful elements. For general value preservation, a steel building will provide you with a more effective and efficient service. (more…)

Infrared Sauna: How Is It Different From Normal Saunas?

February 26th, 2009 No comments

Infrared saunas make use of a special heater that produces infrared radiation rays. The person using the infrared sauna is being heat up by the heaters such as ceramics, charcoal, and the like that give off far infrared radiant heat. The difference between a traditional Finnish sauna and the infrared sauna is that the former uses steam which increases the air temperature, and in that way the occupant, while the latter uses infrared radiation to immediately warm up the user. The objective of the deep infrared rays that infiltrates through the body is to make sure that most of the body parts, if not the whole body, are targeted. This method is called conversion. (more…)

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Alert in Casinos – Track the ‘Card-Counting’ iPhone App

February 26th, 2009 No comments

Alert has been sounded in casinos across Nevada and gambling regulators across the city has been warned against a blackjack card-counting iPhone application that can counts cards. Even though reports of such application use is still unheard of in the casino city Las Vegas, information about the app has been traced to an Indian casino in Northern California, where the operators after discovering customers using the card-counting iPhone program, alerted the California Bureau of Gambling Control.
Even though counting cards is not illegal in Nevada, gaming regulators are taking this seriously; considering the fact that using a device for counting is ethically unacceptable and illegal.

How the Card Counting App Works

Even though not much is yet revealed about the iPhone application, the application presently available at the iTunes App store, works on Apple iPod touch and Apple iPhones. It works by keeping track of the cards that has been seen in blackjack (with machine accuracy); thus helping users tip the chances in their favor. Preliminary reports have suggested that the application which looks like an uncomplicated application uses four different strategies for card counting. It basically operates in the ‘stealth mode,’ in which the phone’s screen is shut off. However, the user can run the program with ease without revealing if the key positions are known.
This application has however cooked up a storm on the issue of banning or allowing cellphones (including iPhones) inside casinos and gaming zones. The decision however, is subjective to individual casino owners. In a memorandum sent to casino operators in Nevada, the Gaming Control Board has warned of the iPhone application program, which it says can evaluate the true card count and that too accurately.

iPhone Users at Casinos beware – You are Being Watched!

If you are an iPhone user and gambler intending to use the iPhone card-counting application on your next visit to the casino, Beware! You may be apprehended by casino operators and put behind bars by state gaming agents. The whole casino industry is taking the invasion of this electronic method for cheating in a card game quite seriously and has pledged to take out an awareness mission about the application to every casino.

However, casino operators are skeptical about banning the application or restricting the use of iPhones in a casino at this stage, considering financial outfall in an already troubled economy. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that some deterrence about the iPhone app will definitely exhibit restraints amongst the high-tech gamblers.

In The Darkness Bind Them

February 24th, 2009 No comments

Here’s a pointless little bit of trivia: On Sunday I got my wedding ring cut off my finger.

I’ve recently started waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. They were being caused by a sudden and irrational fear that my ring was cutting my finger off because I could no longer get it past my knuckle. I kept having images of trees growing into and around things like tires or old cars and imagining my finger doing that around my ring. It didn’t matter that I could still rotate the ring relatively easily or that it was more loose when I was cold, etc. Panic attacks are not logical – doubly so in the middle of the night.

By Sunday I had had enough, but I could not get it off – no matter how hard I pulled and how much it hurt while pulling. I tried holding my hand above my head to drain the blood, using ice water to shrink my fingers, and using Windex (which is surprisingly slippery) to help slide it off. Melody even tried pulling on it with both hands. Nothing worked. In fact, after looking at it closely and measuring the width of my knuckle as compared to the inner diameter of the ring, I became convinced it wasn’t physically possible to remove it. (Sure, I’ve gained weight since we got married – but apparently my knuckle bone somehow got larger as well, which seems odd.)

After failing to remove the ring, my finger started to swell up from the abuse. I had to fight mild panic as it kept growing, changing color, and I stopped being able to rotate the ring itself. We left as soon as we could for the jeweler so they could cut it off.

It was such a relief to get it removed. Odd, though, because I kept feeling as if it was there. The skin under the ring was all destroyed and broken and my entire finger looked very deformed. It’s all cosmetic, though. It’s been two days, and while the skin that was under the ring still hurts a bit and needs to heal, the general shape of my finger is seemingly returning to normal. It’ll be about 2 weeks until I get the ring back, so that should be plenty of time for everything to settle down. (The ring will be a full size larger, too.)

What ‘living within your means’ means

February 24th, 2009 No comments

Question: I’ve been having an argument with a co-worker about the difference between living “within your means” and living “below your means.” I’m hoping you can settle the issue for us. What do see as the difference between the two terms? Mark E., Peoria, Illinois

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Stimulus: What’s in it for retirees

February 24th, 2009 No comments

Question: What does the new stimulus package do for people receiving Social Security benefits? –Bonnie, St. Petersburg, Florida

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