Posts filed under ‘Hacks’
By Chad Upton | Editor
Perhaps this is why they call them “Blender Jars” — the thread on the bottom of the jar is the same as a mason jar. That means you can remove the blade assembly from your large blender jar and attach it to a mason jar for small recipes, quick smoothies, baby food, etc.
If you’ve already got a blender, that’s just a few dollars in mason jars. Otherwise, you could shell out $50 for a magic bullet:
By Chad Upton | Editor
Most shirts used to have an irritating tag inside the back of the neckline. Some tags were particularly jagged and became increasingly torturous throughout the day.
The tags are useful because they displayed the shirt size, fabric type and care instructions. But, the shirt size is the only one that really needs to be there since it’s a convenient place to look when you’re browsing the rack for your size.
Thankfully, many shirt makers have started screen printing the size on the inside of the neckline. In those cases, the protruding tags are often moved to a more comfortable position — on the inside of the left seam near the bottom of the shirt. Not all garments have a side seam of course, but you will frequently find the tag there when they do.
I bring this to your attention not for superfluous trivia, but rather for a “landmark” you can find when you’re getting dressed in the dark. You may not want to turn the light on when your roommate or spouse is still sleeping, but you still want your clothes on correctly.
So far, this has held true for men and womens shirts, sweaters etc. Although I haven’t found any yet, there will likely be exceptions.
By Kaye Nemec
For those of you with babies approaching the age of movement, it is time to start opening up your eyes to all of the dangers hidden within your once perfectly safe home.
Stores like Babies ‘R Us, Buy Buy Baby and Target have shelves full of products designed to help protect your baby from sharp edges, hot surfaces, poisonous cleaners, toilet bowls etc. Buying all these products can be expensive. There are ways to help keep your budget in check by baby proofing with products you probably already have at home.
- Sharp Corners – Once you start looking for sharp corners in your house you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of foam corner cushions you need to buy. To protect fire place corners, coffee and end table corners, counter top corners, kitchen table corners, vanity corners etc. etc. use tennis balls. Make a cut into them with a saw or very sharp knife and wedge them onto the corners.
- Cupboards – Your kitchen and bathrooms are full of cupboards that your little one will be curious about. The problem is, you need to keep him out while still being able to get in yourself. Store bought cupboard locks can be expensive and difficult to use (although you should still use them on cupboards with cleaning materials and medications). To baby proof on your own use rubber coated hairbands. Just wrap one band around both handles of the cupboard. Bungee cords or the thick rubber bands often found around produce like lettuce and broccoli also work well.
- Doors – Trying to keep your little one from opening doors and getting into our out of rooms on his own? As you close the door, place a washcloth between the door and the door frame. Place it high enough so little baby arms can’t reach it. Even if your baby is able to turn the door knob, she won’t be able to pull open the door due to the washcloth wedged between it and the frame.
- Power Outlets – For a quick and easy way to cover up outlets use Duct tape or masking tape. Tape is easy for you to move if you need to access the outlet but difficult for your baby to figure out. This is also a great way to cover outlets when you are traveling and didn’t bring outlet plugs with you.
- Miscellaneous – Velcro certainly won’t work once your baby really starts using their muscles, but it can help at early movement stages to help keep some knick knacks and small objects in place. Try using Velcro to hold down remotes, telephones, household decorations etc.
Of course you should also move sharp and dangerous objects out of reach and use baby gates or barriers to shield off-limits areas. To make sure everything is completely baby proof, take a tour of your house on your hands and knees so you can see your home from your baby’s view. Look for objects that are easy to grab, easy to run into etc.
These DIY solutions are also great for friends and family who don’t have babies, but have occasional baby visitors.
Special thanks to Daniella for suggesting this post!
By Chad Upton | Editor
The batteries in most consumer electronics produce 1.5 volts each.
Different products use different numbers of batteries to achieve different voltage requirements. For example, a TV remote might be designed to run on 3 volts, so two 1.5 volt batteries will provide the necessary voltage when connected in series.
Larger devices, such as radios with large speakers or large kid’s toys, typically have larger batteries, like C and D cells. Smaller devices often use AA and AAA batteries, allowing the devices themselves to be smaller. All of these batteries output 1.5 volts, but the larger batteries have much higher capacities, meaning they last longer. D batteries have four times the capacity as AA’s. So, if you’re going to be blasting music on the beach, you’ll change fewer batteries if your radio uses D batteries.
There are many other types of batteries that are not 1.5 volts. One of the most popular is the nine-volt battery, which is technically called a PP3 battery. Smoke detectors, garage door remotes, transistor radios and a variety of other devices use these batteries.
They’re pretty convenient, giving you the voltage of six batteries after only inserting one battery. In fact, that’s exactly what they are — they’re just containers that link six smaller batteries together. Here’s a picture of a nine-volt battery that I took apart:
Each of the six batteries outputs 1.5 volts, giving a total of 9 volts when connected in series. The name brand nine-volt batteries usually contain six quadrouple A batteries (AAAA) which are rather uncommon in consumer electronics but find a home in medical devices such as glucose meters.
Some of the lesser known battery brands may contain 6 flat cells which are not easily reusable. As you can see in the picture above, AAAA batteries are very close in size to AAA cells. That’s worth noting since they could save the day if you’re short on AAAs:
Keep in mind, device manufacturers often use standard batteries in their rechargeable products and you can replace them yourself.
In the United States it is very common for supermarkets to offer discounts to shoppers who present their loyalty card at the checkout. Price tags in the aisles often quote two prices, with and without the discount card.
The loyalty cards are usually provided by the retailer at no charge. However, they’re not free.
Although you don’t pay any money for these cards, you do handover your entire purchase history at that store. Your information is often used immediately at your time of purchase to determine which coupons should be printed out for your next visit.
Marketers frequently target consumers who buy their competitors products. For example, if you frequently buy Uncle Ben’s Rice, you may get a coupon from Rice-A-Roni. The manufacturer is trying to entice you to buy their brand the next time you shop.
Purchase history may also be used to determine the dollar value of the coupons you receive. For example, if you normally buy Dannon yogurt, then Yoplait may offer you $0.50 off your next Yoplait purchase. If you’re already a Yoplait customer, you may only get a $0.10 coupon or none at all.
Obviously, you don’t need a loyalty card for the store to recognize that you’re buying Uncle Ben’s today, but it is important if they want to know if you have bought that brand before or if you typically buy another brand.
When you sign up for a loyalty card, you often fill out a short survey of personal information, including your home address. They say they want your address so they can mail other offers to you, which they may. More importantly, your address allows them to understand a lot about you, including the average income of your neighborhood and even how much you paid for your house. In some cases, these programs are run by outside companies. Your address will help them combine your shopping information from multiple stores, assuming you always use the same name and address.
By comparing your personal information with information about other people’s shopping habits, average income and other demographic information, they can predict which products you’ll most likely try if they provide a coupon a for it.
Many stores will give you their loyalty card and let you use it right away, then they send you home with a survey to fill out and mail in to register for the card. I can tell you from experience that you can use your loyalty card for years without ever mailing the survey in. Although they’re collecting your shopping history, they don’t know much else about you.
There are also studies that show stores with loyalty cards don’t always have the best price, even when you use your frequent shopper card. In fact, one study even showed that sale prices went up after the introduction of a loyalty shopping card. It’s a good idea to keep track of the prices of a few items you commonly purchase to see if the regular price is better at other nearby stores.
I usually shop at a co-op, which does not use a loyalty card but has better prices than any other store around. They even have better prices than Target on items that they both carry, although that is one of the few places I cannot use my credit card to get cash back — they only accept cash or debit, one way they try to keep their costs down.
It’s not just grocery stores that provide you with sponsored coupons. I stopped at target yesterday to pick up some envelopes, on my way to the cash I spotted a new iced coffee drink. From other posts, you know I am addicted to coffee, so I couldn’t resist. At the register I was given a $7 off coupon for Crest Whitening strips. I doubt the envelopes triggered that.
Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton
I did a previous post about how speed enforcement radar works.
There are two primary types, laser and tradition (Doppler) radar. Even if you have a radar detector, laser is the most difficult type of radar to avoid getting caught by. Laser radar gives officers a near instant reading on your speed, so you don’t have time to slow down before they get a reading on you.
Your best defense is reducing or even preventing the laser beam from bouncing back to the radar gun. The front license plate and your headlights are the most reflective thing on the front of most vehicles. If you’re not required to have a front plate in your area, get rid of it.
The next best thing is laser jamming, although it’s not legal in all places. But, if it is allowed in your area then you can buy laser jamming or scrambling units which prevent the radar gun from receiving a usable laser reading.
Reflectors on the back of your car are also an ideal reflector for Laser radar guns. For safety and legal requirements in some areas, you should probably keep these reflectors on your car.
I hope that some these tips will help you avoid some speeding tickets.
Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton
Source: Wikipedia Laser Lidar
By Chad Upton | Editor
WD-40 was created in 1953 by Norm Larsen. It was originally designed to prevent corrosion caused by water — the WD stands for “water displacement.” Norm’s 40th formula was successful and that’s where the “40” comes from.
The formula is so secretive, they decided not to patent it. This may sound counter intuitive, but filing for a patent would require disclosing the ingredients.
I did some digging and found the material safety data sheet for WD-40 (PDF).
The main ingredient is Stoddard solvent, which is also known by its own brand name, Varsol. CO2 is used as a propellant and mineral oil is another main ingredient.
It was first used to protect the Atlas missile from corrosion and it became available to consumers in 1958. Since then, consumers have found over 2000 uses that the WD-40 Company endorses (and many more it doesn’t).
There is a popular email circulating that you may have seen. It states WD-40 is primarily fish oil, but that’s not true. The email also lists a number of uses, although the WD-40 company only recommends about half of those. Some of the 2000 recommended uses include:
- Stop squeaks (doors, bike chains)
- Remove and prevent rust (lawn mower blades during off season, cookie tins/sheets)
- Remove gum, glue, ink and lipstick from fabrics and other items
- Lubricate metal parts (zippers, tools, machines)
- Loosen nuts and screws
- Cleaning (shower doors, tools, lime stains in toilet bowls)
Check out the full list of 2000 uses (PDF).
PS – The WD-40 company has an affinity for product names with numbers. They also make 2000 flushes, X-14, 3-in-one-oil and a few other products.