Posts filed under ‘Be Efficient’

Diesel Fuel Nozzles Don’t Fit in Standard Fuel Cars

Diesel cars are not popular in North America. But, diesel engines are fairly popular in pickup trucks and are becoming more popular in North American cars.

Although they have a limited history in America, foreign car manufacturers sell many diesel models in Europe.

Diesel engines are generally very efficient and that behind their new found demand. As diesel becomes more popular, you will likely see more diesel pumps.

This is good if you have a diesel car, potentially bad if you don’t. Diesel pumps present a slight risk to your standard gasoline vehicle — you do not want to put diesel fuel in a car that uses standard unleaded fuel.

Standard engines use spark plugs to burn the fuel, diesel engines use pressure and heat to cause a reaction in diesel fuel. That means standard engines will not burn diesel fuel. If you inadvertently put diesel in an unleaded car, the engine will stop very quickly. It’s not usually a total loss, the fuel system will have to be cleaned, filters will need to be changed and the whole process can cost as much as $600.

But, there is an easy way to avoid this costly mistake. First, diesel fuel dispensers are usually clearly marked with text and with a special color handle (the color varies by station).

Second, the nozzle on the end of a diesel fuel pump is slightly larger than a standard fuel nozzle. That means it won’t fit in your car’s gas hole, at least not that way you’re used to a pump nozzle fitting. If you notice that the nozzle isn’t going as far in as it usually does, check the pump, you might be holding a diesel trigger.

This same principle was used in the 80s when we transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Leaded fuel nozzles wouldn’t not fit in unleaded gas holes.

Checkout some other gas related Broken Secrets:

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Answer Bag, WTSP, Dixon Nozzles (PDF)

Photo: teachernz (cc)

June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 9 comments

How to Buy the Right Shoes for Your Feet

Considering how much time you spend wearing shoes, how much time have you spent understanding what’s unique about your feet?

Unless you’re an avid runner or maybe work at a shoe store, you probably don’t know how to buy shoes that compliment your feet and the way you use them. It can be hard enough to find a shoe that looks good, fits on your foot and feels comfortable, but it takes even more to find a pair that fits your arch and the angle of your ankles. But there is a way.

Even if you don’t run, you can still benefit from buying the right running (or walking) shoes — especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or at play.

For example, the only “running” I do is running errands, but I often wear running shoes because they’re comfortable and lightweight. With the right shoes, there is less stress on your feet, ankles, knees and hips.

When you walk, the heel of your foot will touch the ground first and as you roll your foot forward, your weight will be transferred to the front of your foot. Depending on the angle of your foot, you may be putting more weight on the inside or outside of your foot. Doing that hundreds or thousands of times a day can lead to pain and discomfort in your feet and other parts of your body.

If your hips, knees or ankles produce external rotation, you will be more likely to angle your feet as you walk (known as pronation of the foot). Your shoes can compensate for natural irregularities or make them worse and that’s why it’s important to get the right shoes.

Good shoe stores will help determine your arch type and level of pronation. Once you know your arch type and pronation, there are different shoes that will suit you. A local running shop is a good place to start, they’re generally the most knowledgeable retailers of shoes. Some websites with good fitting advice are: Road Runner Sports, Zappos, Dick’s and New Balance.

One way to determine your arch type is by standing (to put weight on your feet), then sliding your index finger under your arch. If you get your finger up to 1/2 an inch under your foot then you’ve got a low arch. 1/2 inch to 1 inch is a medium arch. More than an inch is a high arch.

The other way to determine arch type is the paper bag test. You wet your feet and stand on a paper bag. Looking at your wet footprint and the size of the gap left by your arch, you can tell if you have a low, medium or high arch. This way is pretty common, but it’s a bit more subjective than the index finger method.

To determine your pronation (ankle roll), you’ll need the help of a friend. They will stand behind you to see how your ankles behave as you walk. If your ankles stay very straight, then you have neutral pronation. If they roll slightly inward or outward then you’re considered an under-pronator. If they roll inward excessively, then you’re an over-pronator.

Another way to determine pronation is to put a used pair of your running shoes on a flat surface and see if the shoes tilt inward towards each other, or tilt outward, away from each other.

Shoes are divided into three categories for different feet type: stability, motion control and neutral. Stability shoes are for under-pronators. Motion control shoes are for severe over-pronators and perhaps obviously, neutral shoes are for neutral pronation.

Most online retailers categorize shoes into these groups. A good shoe store will be able to tell you which shoes are your type as well.

The other approach to running footwear is: barefoot. There is a popular book on running called Born to Run which suggests that we are literally born to run in our bare feet and the best runners in the world come from tribes of barefoot runners who run well into old age without injury.

For now, I think I’ll stick with my runners.

Thanks to Kristen for suggesting this secret!

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Foot type), New Balance (Running Gait), Zappos, Dick’s

Photo: Jason Alley (cc)

June 7, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Exhaust Fans Help Cool Your Home During Summer

The upper floor of your home is likely the warmest place in your home. It’s not usually a big deal in the winter, but it can be very uncomfortable in the summer. It happens because hot air rises.

The ceiling of your upper floor also has the most insulation of any place in your home. It’s there because hot air rises — in the winter, you don’t want to lose that heat. It’s the same reason you put a hat on your head in the winter.

In the summer, that thick insulation in your attic is doing the same thing it does in the winter, trapping that heat on your upper floor. If you have a central heating/cooling system, it should suck hot air from the upper floor and mix it with cooler air. But, it’s not always running and it can’t always keep up with the hot air that is produced inside your home, from people, electronics and appliances.

A good solution is to run the ceiling exhaust fan in a central bathroom on the upper floor during the hottest hours of the day. To help, you can get an automatic timer control light switch; these can be used to run the fan and have it automatically shutoff after a certain amount of time — this might also be useful after somebody uses the toilet.

In some regions, it is even part of the building code that an on/off switch for the upper floor hallway bathroom fan is placed next to the thermostat on the main floor. It’s there so you can turn on the exhaust fan when you turn on the air conditioner (there is also a switch in the bathroom to control it from there). This is not a widespread building code, but it’s worth having a look beside your thermostat. If you’ve got a light switch there that doesn’t do anything, try it again and listen for the hallway fan.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: MSU, About.com

June 2, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

You Can’t Grow Hemp in the US But You Can Import It

Hemp is a plant with a long and interesting history, especially in the United States.

Farmers cannot freely grow hemp in the US, but many companies import hemp products for resale, mostly from Canada and the UK.

The problem is that hemp is from the same plant family (genus) as marijuana. But hemp is not a drug, it is a raw material that is used much like cotton. We all know that cotton is great, we use it for making: t-shirts, socks, denim for blue-jeans, fishnets, coffee filters, paper and many other things. Considering everything we use it for, it’s a miracle plant.

But, cotton has some limitations. It can only be grown in areas that get a lot of sunshine, have consistent rainfall and long frost-free periods. Cotton also requires a lot of pesticides: 50% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton.

Imagine a plant with all the benefits of cotton, but it has even stronger fibers, could be grown anywhere in the country and doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.

That plant is called hemp.

At the risk of sounding like a huge hippie, hemp is a perfect plant. Frankly, I am not a hippie — I only own one hemp product: hemp protein powder.

Hemp as a food source is one example of why it’s so perfect. The seeds contain all of the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids required for a human to be healthy. It also contains a lot of fiber, another essential part of the human diet.

When used as a textile, hemp is stronger and more mildew resistant than cotton. For that reason, hemp is an excellent material for making canvas boat sails, and it was used for that exact purpose by Christopher Columbus. (more…)

June 1, 2010 at 5:00 am 12 comments

Punctuation is Not Allowed in Mailing Addresses

Whether it’s a personal or business letter, every piece of mail I receive has the address formatted differently. Some even have the return and destination addresses formatted differently.

Since the post office has very strict requirements for addressing a letter, they should all be exactly the same. The post office guidelines are recommended for fastest delivery and I’ve compiled a list of rules that are the most surprising or commonly abused.

Since most of my readers are in North America, I’ve compared the requirements from the US Postal Service and Canada Post — they’re very similar and they contain good practices that are applicable to sending mail in most places.

Mail is typically sorted by a machine, but if the machine can’t determine the address then it will be dropped in a bin for a human to sort it. Most of the requirements are design to make it easy for the machine to understand where you’re trying to send your letter.

No Punctuation Allowed

One rule that will surprise most people: no punctuation is allowed. I know your third grade teacher said you should put a comma between the city and the state, and maybe she was right at the time, but that’s not right anymore. Don’t use periods either, using punctuation will only slow the mail down. It’s going to be a tough habit to break, I know. There is one exception, and that is when the name of the City, Street or Town contains punctuation, such as an apostrophe (for example: St John’s). (more…)

May 4, 2010 at 12:17 am 9 comments

iPhone and iPod Tricks

Apple has sold 50 million iPhones and 35 million iPod touch devices, so there are a lot of people who can benefit from these secrets.

This is by no means a complete list, but I wanted to provide some of the most useful and least well known iPhone tricks. Most of this list also applies to the iPod touch; if you know someone with one of these, be sure to send them a link to this article.

Double Click the Home Button

The button on the front of the phone is called the “home” button. You can choose what happens when you double click it. Mine is set to go to my phone favorites, making it quicker to dial my people. You can get to this screen by going to Settings > General > Home.

As you can see on the option screen above, there is an option for “iPod Controls.” When those are on and the phone is in standby mode (blank screen), you can double click the home button to see the current song/artist/album cover and show audio controls (volume/forward/back/play/pause) — see below for example. If you want to fast forward or rewind, hold the forward/back buttons respectively.

(more…)

May 3, 2010 at 12:11 am 19 comments

Stop Cords from Falling Behind Your Desk

At some point, everyone with a rechargeable gadget will curse gravity as the cord falls behind their desk. This is extremely annoying, mostly because you never want to go under your desk if you don’t have to; although, you’ll probably find some other lost treasures when you do.

A friend shared this secret with me recently and it blew my mind: use binder clips to catch the cables.

I bought a pack of Medium Binder Clips at Staples (24 @ $2.79) and I weaved my cables through — they work perfectly. If your cable slides through easily, you may need to tie a very loose knot in the cable or even better, put a couple zip-ties around the cable to stop it from falling through.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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April 20, 2010 at 12:01 am 9 comments

Extend the Life of Printer Ink Cartridges

If you’ve got an ink jet printer then you’re likely spending a lot of money on ink. Most of these printers use expensive and sophisticated ink cartridges. These cartridges monitor usage and estimate the amount of ink remaining. The estimate is usually conservative, meaning it indicates you are out of ink before you’re really out of ink.

Printer_Ink

If you reset this memory then you can keep printing until the cartridge is actually empty. Depending on the brand and model of cartridge, this reset is actually really easy. If you look above the small circuit board on the cartridge, there is sometimes a pinhole reset button, kind of like the paperclip eject hole on most cd rom drives.

Check out the following video to see a demonstration.

I should also note that not all cartridges can be reset in this way. Here are a couple of sites that show other methods of resetting some cartridges.

Doing a cartridge reset is also useful if you refill your own cartridges, since the cartridge may report that it’s empty even after you refill it. If you do a lot of color printing, you may consider generic cartridges or even a continuous ink system:

Continuous_Ink

I should also mention that laser printers have become extremely cheap. I rarely print in color, so a black and white laser printer is very cost effective for me. When I need to print photos, there are lots of drug stores or department stores that do a great job for a low price. If I need to print color documents, there are many great places to get that done at a reasonable price too. With a $100 laser printer, you’re often able to print thousands of pages of text on the toner cartridge that is included.

Big thanks to Derek Santos for sending the video and inspiring this post.

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April 16, 2010 at 12:28 am 25 comments

The Gas Arrow

Rent, borrow or commandeer an unfamiliar car and you’ll need to gas it up eventually.

You know your own car like the back of your TV remote, but you’ve got nothing on this car. The gauge is near empty when you realize you have no idea which side the gas cap is on.

You’ve got a 50/50 chance, so you wing it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that says, “this ain’t my car” better than stopping on the wrong side of the pump.

That’s why they invented the gas arrow. Look for the arrow on the gas gauge, it points to the side of the car where the gas hole is.

Of course, not all cars have this arrow. Some people will also say that the pump icon indicates the side of the gas cap with the pump handle, but that’s not universally true.

My Dad shared this secret with me a few years ago.  I shared it with a few friends, some of them shared with a few friends and if all goes well, everybody will know about the gas arrow and other little known facts. That’s what this site is all about.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Source: My Dad

April 13, 2010 at 12:01 am 5 comments

The Space Bar Scrolls Down in Your Browser

This is an awesome week and I mean that figuratively. The Book of Awesome arrives in stores this Wednesday and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some broken secrets from the website 1000AwesomeThings.com.

One of my favorite “Awesome Things” is “Learning a new keyboard shortcut.” Since I’m talking favorites, I want to share one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts: the space bar.

If you’re reading this in a web browser or you do a lot of reading on the web, this is one shortcut you should learn before all others. To scroll your browser down exactly one page, press the space bar.  To scroll up one page, hold shift while you press the space bar.

It’s that simple, happy reading.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Photo: jakebouma (creative commons)

April 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm 5 comments

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