Category Archives: Life

Protect Your Electronics

By Marc|November 30, 2017|Life|

If you are a practitioner, or a fan, of coding and technology, I am happy to hear from you. Meanwhile, join my blog and help me spread the word to a new generation of programmers. There are many out there that need to be brought up to date. The world of computers is not as undecipherable to the layman as it may seem. The more you learn, the better you can make use of the Internet. Whether programming is your cup of tea or not, surely electronic equipment is. We all have many devices that we must keep in top running condition. We depend on these marvels for many things. Tablets, laptops, iPads, iPods, and whatever you own in the way of a mobile phone are our entrée to the world at large. We keep in touch with people, places, and things through them. My advice today is to keep them clean and working properly. How? There are surge protectors, anti-static cleaning products, and my recent discovery, dehumidifiers.

Electronic gear will not take care of itself. If you drop it, spill soda on it, forget it in the rain, or otherwise harm it, you will immediately miss its services. One way I like to attend to my stuff and prevent theft is to store it in the basement when I am not using it. If it is there for long periods of time, I need to turn on the basement dehumidifier to keep moisture and mold out – I bought it from If you don’t take precautions, your money is going to waste. You will have to run out and buy something new. Protection means many things, but the first order of business is to buy a good case. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors so you can customize your electronics according to your taste. The better the quality, the longer it lasts. This is vital.

Next on the list of protective measures is a cleaning cloth. While you have to keep your digital friends away from pets, food and water, there are times when it is too late and a cleanup job is in order. Some tips about cleaning: don’t keep gear in the kitchen when you are cooking. In a pinch, a bag of uncooked white rice will do the job of draining away invading water. Hopefully, this will happen before the damage is done. Leave it in for ten minutes or more and then test it. Obviously, the bigger the gadget, the bigger the bag and the more rice you need.

If you are super diligent, you will invest in a cleaning set. For a few dollars, you can acquire a kit that includes a special rag and the appropriate chemical treatment. For smudged screens, a protector is a good preventative. Otherwise you can remove smudges, dirt, and the like with the cloth. I know people who even get squashed bugs on their screens. My, my.

How Nerds Learn

By Marc|December 8, 2016|Life|

How many times have you taken your watch in for a new battery or cleaning—maybe some major repair. You end up paying a lot for the service. I presume that it takes a certain skill and years of training to work on timepieces, so why not try my hand at it. I am pretty handy with technical things. Some would say I have a gift. Recently, I decided to take apart my automatic watch to see how it ticks, literally. The technology in these newer watches is fascinating. I will no doubt progress by trial and error. I bought the best watch repair kit in the store so I would be sure to have all the right tools. Not having done this before, I didn’t want to be caught by surprise and have to rush out and buy the correct implement. When I get into a project, I like to run with it until it is done. My goal was simply to understand the mechanisms behind a quality watch. This is how nerds learn.

My brother wanted to watch this event. He was curious to see if I would succeed. I heard through the grapevine that he even placed a bet with friends that I wouldn’t get far. I should consider that rather insulting; after all, I am known for my mechanical mind. I am a computer programming whiz and can solve most any software problem. If you want a custom program, you’ve got it. I wanted to ban my brother from the premises but finally decided to let him in. He sat quietly as all the pieces of my automatic watch were displayed on the kitchen table. I had a lot of room to work. I would let him know when his presence became annoying. Many hours passed from morning into night. I was enjoying the challenge and was not about to stop. My brother ran out for some dinner and left me to my task.

The deluxe watch repair kit lived up to its name. It was easy to dissemble the watch, but I knew it would be harder to put back together. The tiniest parts were begging to be relocated. I considered it to be a kind of puzzle, but I have a great memory and knew where everything would go. I observed what piece lay next to another and how the watch was deemed automatic as there was no winding mechanism or battery. It was a sort of mystery at first that yielded an immediate resolution. I think I had got it even before my brother returned, so we celebrated over take-out Chinese food. He had been skeptical but I had turned his thinking around. He couldn’t tell how the watch work himself, but he took my word for it. He was impressed enough to say that he wanted an automatic watch. Okay, now I know what to give him for his next birthday. It will be a welcome surprise.

Outside During the Day

By Marc|September 4, 2016|Life|

I would be surprised if the beach is not tops on everyone’s list of favorite places to spend a nice vacation day. It is only a good choice on a nice sunny day and it can get pretty cold off season. No one wants to sit below dense foggy clouds. Sure, you can always take a walk in the sand and do a little wading in the water if you can bare the cold. You want to warm your bones and give them relief from the past winter’s gloom. You chose your days appropriately like everyone else. No wonder the sand is swamped in the middle of summer or even early fall. Indian summer can be a great time to catch a few rays. If you are subject to a cool day, you can always wrap yourself in a big beach towel after some body surfing. I have been known to visit the beach on windy days as well. They can still be sunny but the wind plays havoc with your beach umbrella. You better get a sturdy one that doesn’t fold up inside out at the least gust. They are impossible to set right. You want an umbrella that can handle any elements like strong breezes. They don’t make special beach umbrellas just for wind; they just make good ones that you can use for any conditions. So don’t get something flimsy and fragile.

If the wind is strong the umbrella begins to teeter totter and you have to constantly grab the handle no matter how well you have secured it in the sand. This is all part of beach preparation 101. You learn after a few breezy encounters. Most of the time it is not a problem, however, and I accept whatever weather exists. If it is a warm day, the umbrella is not much protection; and if it is a cold one, you would rather be somewhere else. A really windy day might merit a tent. It is all how you like to experience your beach adventure. Do you like to be out there in the elements, sporting a waterproof jacket, or do you like to bundle up? Some people avoid the problem altogether by going in the late afternoon or early night. Then you don’t have to tote the umbrella at all. Some people love the cold so they can enjoy a fire pit if it is allowed on the beach. I have no preference. I love the beach and will take whatever conditions it has to offer. Roasting wieners is my idea of a nice summer night.

Meanwhile my beach umbrella, whether for sun or wind, is poised and ready at home in the garage awaiting the next outing. I have yet to have it fail any test the beach may offer. I doesn’t get super windy where I go and there are places near the rocks that are natural shelters on their own. Just get yourself a decent umbrella whether it is for you alone or family and friends. They will appreciate the added comfort afforded them during their beach outing.

High Tech Paint Sprayer

By Marc|March 22, 2016|Life|

My interest in technology goes beyond just computers and coding. For example, I like to figure out how things work, whether it be Teslas induction motor or the code to a great program. I am always trying to improve myself and my programming skills so sometimes even improvements on an idea intrigue me.

For example, I was in the market for a paint sprayer and realized there were several different kinds. There were pneumatic sprayers that worked off of air compressors, electric versions that had their own turbines, high volume low-pressure models that are more environmentally friendly, and airless versions with a pressure pump. So many options! I looked at information for all the different types of sprayers and attempted to narrow the field down a little. I ruled out one whole type right off the bat: I wasnt interested in any sprayer that required an air compressor to run. Although they can be cheaper, I would need to buy a compressor, which would negate most of the savings I might have incurred in getting a sprayer that did not work under its own power. This considerably lessened my options, leaving my only choice to be electric sprayers. From there, the choice seemed to center mostly on HVLP models vs airless paint sprayers. HVLP paint sprayers use compressed air to mix with the paint and atomize it. Airless sprayers use force to do the same thing. Airless sprayers can handle paints with higher viscosity, but HVLP paint sprayers can be easier to maneuver. All of the reviews I read did say that if youre doing things around the house, an airless sprayer would be better because it has the ability to handle more types of paint. The reviews said that the job gets done quickly, too.

That solidified my decision to go with an airless sprayer. I read reviews of specific models and chose one that works on a bag system?instead of having a siphon to suck up the paint, it basically creates a vacuum to force the paint out of the bag, and the bag collapses as you go. I thought this was an excellent feature because no siphon meant one less thing to be cleaned, and it also prevents the paint from drying out?in other words, I can paint a little, take a break (or nap, as it were) and then start back up again. I am also able to spray at any angle because there is no gravity feed or siphon tube. Not that I think it is incredibly useful to have the capability to spray upside-down, but it is really cool to be able to do it. I imagine that if I were painting the underside of a heavy piece of furniture that might be helpful, or if I was painting a ceiling or something. It was really easy to get started, too. You just prime the pump a little and then start spraying. For someone with as little patience as I have, it is great not having to wait a long time for enough pressure to build up before I can start.

All in all, I think the research paid off and I got the product I needed.

Weekend Project: Chairs Actually Comfortable Enough to Sit On

By Marc|December 19, 2015|Life|

I got an assignment. One I didnt particularly relish doing. Sometimes you have to go with the flow and be a good sport. I dont mind taking a minute or two away from coding and technology, my preferred passions, but this time it got carried a little too far. I was asked to help my parents fix some old furniture so it could be refurbished and reupholstered. I am mindful of how much money it saves to do things yourselves. In their case, it means having your son do things himself.

I am not particularly adept in the fix it department but I can get by. I dutifully agreed to the task and showed up to the garage on time. This was to be my temporary work area, not having one at home I was willing to spare. Computer work areas are quite a different matter. Dust and debris are their mortal enemies. Nevertheless, I took my handy tools kit with me and expected the worst.

In the garage were a few overstuffed club armchairs and a small loveseat in the same fabric. It was all old and frayed and clearly had to go. I knew my role instantly and I started to gnaw at the staples on the underside of each piece. Pick, pick, pick. The stapler remover did its job. Out came the old, making room for the new. After quite some time and a sore right hand and forearm, the fabric was stripped away revealing some ancient padding and lonely bare frames.

Now the fun part–adding new fabric back on. I had agreed to phase one and here I was expected to do phase two without a fight. Dont you want to see the results? I was asked. Dont you want to see it through? I didnt reply, just straightened my shoulders and set my sites on the work ahead. In the corner of the garage was a big bolt of brand new fabric, rather nice actually, if a bit garish. It wasnt hard to cut it in three pieces for the two chairs and the loveseat. Then these pieces were subdivided into seat and back cushions.

My mother had the sewing machine on the kitchen table outfitted with the heavy duty needle. I am glad I was not tagged for the next job. She deftly put piping around the various cushions and it was time to staple the seat fabric to the wood frame beneath. Because I don’t do this all of the time, I decided to settle for a manual staple gun?and it was the savior of the day for this part of the job. It held the fabric securely to the frame until the next round of upgrading some time in the distant future (when I am not around). For the moment, things were looking up. New cushion and seat padding gave the furniture a nice comfy feel and luxurious look. These were chairs actually comfortable enough to sit on.

After all the complaining, I was pretty proud of my contribution and the outstanding, if not stellar, results. With the right tools (a staple gun and the corresponding remover can loosely be so designated I think), you can do just about anything.