Posts tagged ‘broken’

Broken Secrets: Phase 2

Today, I want to talk about Broken Secrets — where we’ve been and where we’re going.

I started this site back in November of 2009. The first post was You CAN Use Foil in the Microwave. In fact, if you want to see a list of all the secrets, checkout The Secret Archive.

For those who don’t know, my name is Chad Upton and I’m the creator of Broken Secrets. I’m a 31 year old guy, living in the Midwestern United States. I have a pretty normal day job and I write this site in the evenings, usually after dinner or when my wife Kristen goes to bed.

A lot of people ask me if I make money from Broken Secrets. The answer is a vague, but accurate, “not really.” Technically, the blog generates a small amount of money through amazon referrals (if you buy something) and through kindle subscriptions. Frankly, I’ve spent more on the site than it has brought in, so I think it’s fair to say that I don’t “make” money from the site. Which is fine, I didn’t start the site because I need the money — it’s a hobby.

I don’t believe most people think about the time it takes to research, write, edit and find photos or videos to make a single entry come together. But, most posts take 2-3 hours to create. There are some exceptions, a few posts were created in less than 2 hours and a few took more than 3 hours (especially some of the videos).

Creating content and promoting the blog is a lot of work, but I’ve been lucky. The site quickly gained in popularity. It now gets more visitors each day than it got in the first month of operation.

All of the readers have different tastes and expectations. Some people love the really long, very detailed posts. Others prefer the short, sweet and glossy ones. Therefore, the topics and lengths of posts vary widely. What some readers find useful, others find elementary. What some find informative, others find useless. It all depends on your perspective, and everyone’s is different.

It’s tough to please everybody and that’s OK, the response has still been overwhelming. Up until now, I’ve written every post and delivered one every weekday for the past 9 months (166 posts). That makes for a long workday, every day.

Although the pay is negligible, the rewards are priceless.

Broken Secrets recently won a Webby Award for best personal blog/website. It has been featured by local and national media around the globe. It’s highly ranked in the Amazon Kindle store for blogs and between Facebook, Twitter, Kindle and email, there are thousands of people who subscribe and read daily. Frankly, it has exceeded all of my expectations and passed all of the milestones more quickly than I could have imagined.

The Webby Awards are by far the biggest compliment, they’re like the Oscars of the Internet. They’re the highest award a website can win; I’m honored to have won and had the support of so many of you. At the award ceremony, I got to meet Jimmy Fallon, Buzz Alrdin, Jason Bateman and many other great people.

All of this success means that it’s time to make the site bigger and better. The first step: more high quality content. As I concentrate on more quality content, the site will continue to get updated several times per week, but I may have some other contributors helping out. This will be great, we’ll have some fresh ideas.

I appreciate all your feedback, suggestions and support. You can always contact me by clicking here.

As always, thanks for reading.

Broken Secrets | Chad Upton

Subscribe on: Facebook | Twitter | Kindle

Photo: zagatbuzz (cc)

July 8, 2010 at 5:00 am 10 comments

You Can Buy Your Own Dental Tools

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that you can buy your own tamper proof screwdrivers. Ownership of tamper proof screwdrivers ups your do-it-yourself status to a new level; but, you can’t earn your DIY badge without having your own set of dental tools.

Maybe you’ve got a deep pocket in a molar that you can’t floss or brush clean, or maybe you just want to descale your pet’s gum line.

There are so many uses for dental tools. Hobbyists use them for carving, cleaning and hooking small objects. Technicians and mechanics may use them for removing tiny o-rings and gaskets. Perhaps you will use them to pick locks or scratch lotto tickets, poke the CD-ROM eject hole or spread glue in a hairline crack on the ceramic you broke last summer.

I found a 5 piece set on Amazon at a great price. Heck, for $2 (see “other sellers”), I’m not sure there is a more versatile set of tools for your toolbox. Best of all, you probably don’t own these tools yet and we all know it’s fun to get new tools.

Buying a new tool is like buying a new skill. It empowers you to put yourself in the way of new dangers and abstain from doing new things that you never dreamed of avoiding before.

So go ahead, have your popcorn and eat it too.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

PS – I’m really excited for fellow blogger Neil Pasricha’s new book: The Book of Awesome. Pre-order it now (or if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t already, at least checkout the blog)!

February 15, 2010 at 12:34 am 3 comments

Getting The Most For Your Charitable Donation

By Chad Upton | Editor

With the recent disaster in Haiti, I have been thinking a lot about charitable donations. My wife and I wanted to make a donation, but had no idea where to start. We wanted our donation to provide as much aid as possible by giving to a trustworthy charity with minimal administration costs and decent buying power. Our questions was: which charity meets our standards and how much should we give?

I have done some research, learned some secrets and wanted to pass them along. This should be helpful for making any type of charitable donation, not just Haiti relief.

Give Cash

It might be tempting to buy blankets for a homeless shelter or give food to a food bank, but it’s actually better to give cash. Firstly, you don’t know what that charity needs most. The homeless shelter may have more than enough blankets, but not enough soap. If you give cash, they can buy what they actually need. Of course, if you already have a stack of blankets, call first to see if they can use them or if you should hang on to them for a later donation.

Secondly, your buying power is minimal. If you brought $50 worth of food to the food bank, they’d be very grateful. But, if you gave them $50, they combine that with their other cash donations to get a bulk discount and get more food with your $50 than you can.

Texting Is Actually a Slow Way to Donate

While it is extremely fast for you to initiate a donation by texting from your mobile phone, it can take 2 – 3 months for that money to get to the Charity. From the time you send the text to the time you pay your bill, 30-45 days may pass. That’s the first delay, the second delay is your mobile carrier. According mgive.com, the mobile giving foundation, carriers release donation money to mgive every 60-90 days. Then mgive takes 10% (processing fee) and distributes the money to the charities. Most of the charities take donations at their website, this is the fastest way to turn your money into help and cut out the middle man.

Know What You’re Buying

If you can’t decide how much to give, it may help to understand what your money can buy. Here are some of examples of what a donation to Unicef can get.

  • $67.79 – Water purification tablets, cleans 50,000 liters of water
  • $232.86 –  School in a box, enough school supplies for 80 children
  • $500 – Water pump, provides clean water for an entire community
  • $1,994.77 – Maternity kit, enough supplies to safely deliver 50 babies

In other words, you’re not giving $68, you’re giving 50,000 liters of clean water.

Donate To a Reputable Charity

There are some great websites to help you find a charity that provides the help you want to give. These sites also rank the charities and provide transparency by including information such as charitable institution’s financial statements. Here are some sites, and what I like most about each one:

  • Charity Navigator – Helpful ranking of charities. Good list of Haiti charities and their ranking.
  • Network for Good – Quick links for some of the most popular charities.
  • Just Give – Great search engine for finding a charity in your own community, also has a wedding registry for charitable donations.

You Don’t Need Money To Donate

Many local charities can use your time. Use Just Give to find a charity in your community.

The Largest Charities Are Not Always The Highest Rated

The largest charities usually do the best job of raising awareness, but that often means less of your money actually goes to the cause itself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, awareness is a very important part of fund raising, and many charities allow you to designate your gift. This is ideal if you want to ensure your money is used for aid rather than further fund raising.

Click here for a list of some of the highest rated charities you can donate to, all of these are rather large charities but few of them are charities you usually hear about. Click here for a list of the charities participating in Haiti relief (4 star charities are at the top).

Privacy

Using some of the sites I mentioned above, you can ensure your charity of choice has a written privacy policy that will protect your information. It is especially important that your information is not sold to other charities — they know you’ve given before and your phone will be ringing off the hook.

Avoid scams

The FBI recently released some tips to avoid charity scams. It is very important that you don’t reply to or click on links in any spam email. Donate directly to the charity when possible, not through third parties. Verify the legitimacy of the charity with one of the sites I mentioned above. The rest is common sense, but you can read the entire list by clicking here.

Tax Benefits

One of the best parts about giving is the tax benefit. Most donations are tax deductible and many people also take advantage of a free efile, further adding to their refund. For a few countries, I have provided links to better understand the tax benefits and implications of giving to charities: USA, Canada, UK

Giving to a charity that you believe in can be one of the most rewarding things you do, for you and the people that you help.

Broken Secrets

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Photos: Zoriah, DVIDSHUB (creative commons)

Sources: Charity Navigator, Just Give, Network for Good, mgive, school in a box, Unicef Health, Unicef Water,

January 18, 2010 at 12:59 am 1 comment

Casino Carpets Are Ugly So You Gamble More

The same goes for the ceilings. Look at the carpet and ceiling in the photo below.

The carpet is so busy and obnoxious, it’s actually hard to stare at — so you look up. The ceiling does the same thing with bright lights and focusing shapes, so you look down. What do you see? People gambling. That’s the only thing they want you to think about.

There is even a professor at the University of Nevada who wants casino carpet hermeneutics as a legitimate academic discourse.

Fitting a bland or unsightly carpet, along with bright, sterile lighting allows the player to focus on any number of games, whether it is a bit of Texas hold’em or even a spot of Omaha Hi. Garish flooring designs of this kind have also been proven to offer players something of a ‘wake-up’ effect without the need for coffee or other less natural stimulants.

It all adds to the bright lights and big inviting noises that make casinos such a great place for poker games, slots and familiar games like roulette and blackjack. This assault on the senses not only ensures that players remain alert, engaged and enthralled but that they also keep coming back for more.

The effect of this combination of lighting and carpet is further enhanced by the lack of windows within the majority of casinos – with proprietors eager to confuse players into not knowing what time it is and how long they have been gambling.

The busy carpet has another advantage, it camouflages stains. Casino carpets get vacuumed once a day, usually between 3am and 6am so they need to hide dirt the rest of the time. In fact, anytime you see really busy fabrics in high traffic areas (office buildings, hotels, malls, theaters, etc.), they’re often selected for their stain hiding abilities.

Big thanks to Todd M for submitting this secret!

Photo: Old Shoe Woman (CC) | Sources: AC, SFGate, MeetingsNet

December 17, 2009 at 1:23 am 2 comments

Defog Your Bathroom Mirror In 30 Seconds

You’re running late, so you try to have a quick shower. Then you get out of the shower and the mirror is foggy. That means you can’t do your mirror activities (shaving, hair, makeup…etc). Forget wiping it with a towel, that leaves a lot of streaks and the mirror will still be a bit foggy.

The secret to defogging your mirror quickly, without any streaks: use a hairdryer. Set both the heat and blower on high and aim at the mirror directly in front of your face. In 30 seconds, the hot air will perfectly clear a big enough space to get you back on track.

If you’ve ever stayed in a fancy hotel, you may have noticed that part of the mirror never fogs up. These hotels have a mirror heater installed behind the mirror so it never fogs up.

There are some sites that claim wiping foam shaving cream on windows keeps them fog free, but I haven’t confirmed this. Please comment if you’ve tried it. You can also buy Rain-X anti-fog for your bathroom mirror or car windshield from amazon.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

[available on Kindle]

Photo: add1sun (Creative Commons)

December 16, 2009 at 12:22 am 14 comments

One Side of Toilet Paper is Softer Than the Other

This is important, because most people are pretty adamant about the proper orientation of toilet paper.  There are two ways you can put toilet paper on a roll. According to the following video, there is a right way and a wrong way.

They believe the over method is the right way, because it’s easier to find the end of the roll. I agree, it is easier to find the end of the roll using the over method.

Based on a poll at families.com, the over method is most popular.  However, from reading the comments it looks fairly even, perhaps even more people are in favor of the under method.

For most of my life, I thought over was the correct method. But one day, someone on the under side revealed a secret: one side is softer than the other, and if you use the over method you’re probably not using the soft side.

I was in disbelief. There was no way I could be wrong on this issue. Why would anyone intentionally hang toilet paper in any way other than the way that is easiest to find the end of the roll?

I checked my toilet paper immediately. I rubbed each side on the back of my hand and it was clear, one side was much softer than the other. Then I roll played.

I acted out how I normally unroll toilet paper. It was true, I was not using the soft side!

I instantly changed my preference from over to under. It wasn’t until later that I started to think about how long I had been using the rough side.

The really cheap and thin commercial toilet paper is torture on both sides, but if you have anything but that stuff then it’s most likely softer on one side.  Check it out for yourself.

People with cats often prefer the under method because it’s much more difficult for cats to get it off the roll. It’s a good thing we’re smarter and more dexterous than cats.

BrokenSecrets.com

Photos (creative commons): Aaron Landry | s e l v i n

December 11, 2009 at 1:23 am 3 comments

Headphones Can Be Used As Microphones

You forgot your microphone at home and you’ve got an online meeting in five minutes. This secret might save you.

While it might be hard to come by a spare microphone, the ubiquity of mp3 players makes it easy to find a pair of headphones. If you plug headphones into the microphone input on your computer (or other electronics), you can speak into the LEFT headphone as if it were a microphone.

This might sound crazy, but this is possible because microphones and speakers (or headphones) are very similar. A microphone converts sound waves to electrical impulses while a speaker converts electrical impulses to sound waves. Although they do the exact opposite function, they actually use the same principle and components to do so.

In a microphone, the sound waves hit the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate at a specific frequency. A magnetic coil attached to the diaphragm moves with the vibrations which induces an electric current in the wires. This current is often converted to a digital signal to be recorded or sent across the internet.

A speaker works the exact opposite way.  An electric current on a wire causes a coil to move; a diaphragm attached to the coil pushes air at a specific frequency which generates sound waves for your ear to pick up.

I discovered this secret a long time ago, when I lost the microphone for my Rap-Master Keyboard. I found a demo video you can check out:

BrokenSecrets.com

Photo Credit: steveyb (Creative Commons)

December 7, 2009 at 1:28 am 4 comments

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