Archive for the 'Projects' Category

How To Sew A Custom Chalkbag

This chalkbag design is inspired by Krieg chalkbags, a super company that will make you a custom chalkbag at a killer price. It’s a simple barrel design, but one of my favorites because it allows for full-hand dipping. Chalk up with one of these bad boys and I guarantee that you’ll increase your onsight grade a full number. Well, maybe not, but at least you’ll look wicked cool. You will need the following materials: more…

Working Wood

I’m finally getting my shop in the garage organized to the point where I can begin doing some more woodworking projects. At my old house I was able to crank out a few pieces that got increasingly better over time, especially as I bought the proper tools to use. Right now I’m using a table saw, jointer, planer, band saw, drill press, router and router table to shape my projects. My most recent project was a 38″x30″ picture frame with inlaid birds-eye maple, all my current wood supply comes from my uncle in Maine. Here are some pictures of my projects.

Picture Frame Picture Frame Detail Picture Frame Detail Empeg Dock Empeg Dock Empeg Dock

Cherry Cabinet Cherry Cabinet Router Table Fence Router Table Corner Cabinet Picture Frame

Handheld Video

For the past few years I’ve been using a video player for my Palm Tungsten T5 called TCPMP. This video player allows me to play video files on my mobile device from a SD card or internal memory. This is a great feature of my T5 because now I can watch my own movies when flying on an airplane, entertain my son when we are at a restaruant, or show a home movie to someone on my handheld. I can fit most movies that I watch between 256M and 512M, so I can get at least 2-3 on one 1G SD card.

TCPMP on Palm

To rip DVDs to files that you can load using TCPMP, you can use the free software Fair Use Wizard. This software will convert straight from a DVD to a file that the handheld can handle. I set the resolution to the native resolution of my Palm, which is 480×320. Two pass video encoding will take longer than a quicker setting, but you will get a better quality movie. Fair Use Wizard also works well for me in Ubuntu Linux using Wine, although it is slower than running it in Windows. A fast processor with a lot of memory will help in the conversion process.

I use TCPMP on the Palm platform, but this software is also available for Windows Mobile. The files that are generated from Fair Use Wizard will work on either platform. For my Palm, I use a clear protective case from Proporta that keeps fingers and other objects from smearing the screen and buttons.

Remote Controls

Monika and I like to watch a lot of movies, and I’ve always wanted a decent home theater setup to make it more enjoyable. When we moved, we bought a 42″ High Definition plasma and an upconverting DVD player to watch our DVD collection with. We use the Comcast HD DVR to record shows for Samuel and ourselves in HD. Recently I bought an XBox (to play Amped 2) and the component cables that allow HD gaming. All these components are either HDMI or component cables, so to switch between the different component inputs a component switch is required. Controlling all of these systems together to watch a DVD or watch TV can be annoying. In order to watch a TV show, the TV, DVR, Component Switch and AV Reciever must all be turned on and tuned to the correct inputs. To watch a DVD, a different set of inputs on each device must be selected.

Harmony Remote

This is where my remote control comes in. The Logitech Harmony 880 is one of the nicest tech purchases I’ve made in a while. It is a multi-function programmable remote control that does complex actions without the complex programming steps. The remote has a USB port to allow it to be programmed by your computer – just plug it into your PC and answer a few questions about your home theater setup and it will learn all the IR codes from it’s online database. The remote then presents you with “Actions” you can take on it’s LCD screen, like “Watch TV” or “Play Video Game”. Pressing one of these action buttons will turn on all the components you need and tune them to the correct inputs. If it is not working correctly, press the “Help” button and the remote will ask you a series of yes/no questions that will help correct the problem. has the Harmony 880 on sale right now for $150, and you can often find them new on eBay for the same price.

RSS Feeds

Something I’ve been using regularly for the past few years with good results is an RSS newsreader. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a way for websites you like to visit to summarize changes in a way that a news reader can understand. What this means for me is instead of visiting Wired News, Engadget, and about 20 other websites I like to read, I can view all new changes on their site in my RSS newsreader. Each feed can be updated every hour so I can stay up to date on my news sources.

My site now has an RSS feed, you can subscribe by clicking on the RSS Feed link on the lower right hand corner of this page. You can find other RSS feeds by looking for the RSS feed symbol on many websites. I have feeds for quite a few things, including the ski report for Colorado, the latest Dilbert comic, newly released movies on DVD, and recent pictures uploaded by my friends on Flickr. Whenever someone I know on Flickr uploads a new photo, it will show up in my RSS newsreader within the hour.

On Windows, a good RSS newsreader is SharpReader or GreatNews, I use Akregator on my Linux desktop at home. There are quite a few RSS newsreaders that are web-based also, and a few good RSS plugins for the Firefox web browser. I like newsreaders that will show you how many articles are unread, and allow you to organize your RSS feeds into folders so you can categorize them by topic. With Akregator, I can click on the Comics folder I’ve created to see all the latest comic strips I subscribe to.

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