Building a wood storage rack above my garage door

After picking up a new woodworking hobby during COVID-19, I needed a good way to store wood in my garage, so I came up with this storage rack that I installed above my garage door.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve taken up a new hobby/skill in woodworking. Now I’ve found myself collecting some common lumber ready for if I suddenly want to undertake a project, as well as off-cuts from previous projects. Trouble is, I don’t have much room to store it, not to mention that lumber can be hard to store neatly.

That’s where my new wood storage rack comes in.

I’ve been meaning to make more use of the ceiling in my garage for storing some larger, less-commonly-used items. I decided that lumber fits into this category perfectly. So, I did a bit of research to get some inspiration for how to help build some storage that I could use to keep my lumber at bay and I found surprisingly little information about people using the garage ceilings for this use.

Continue reading “Building a wood storage rack above my garage door”

Create direct link to chat in Microsoft Teams without going through browser

This is a guide for the most efficient way to link directly to a chat with a specific person in Microsoft Teams

Lately, for my engineering projects, I’ve been creating “project dashboards” in OneNote for colleagues to find all of the key information, contacts and documents for the project.

I wanted to be able to link the names of key people directly to a chat window in Microsoft Teams to that you can just start chatting with them immediately.

I found a few guides online which recommend a URL scheme utilising https://teams.microsoft.com. I tested it out and it does indeed work, but it does so by opening a browser window first. Not only does this add to the delay, but it means opening extraneous tabs which need to be closed again. Since I’m all about efficiency, I wanted to find a way around that.

Continue reading “Create direct link to chat in Microsoft Teams without going through browser”

What Trump can teach us about Constitutional Law

I feel it is my civic duty to share with you my absolute favourite new podcast: What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, or Trump Con Law for short.

Before you see the word Trump and instantly start forming opinions for yourself about what this podcast is, let me inform you. The beauty of this podcast is that it gives a really deep dive into constitutional law with a lot of case law, assuming that you have next to no knowledge of the Constitution, and the topics are prompted by the things that Trump says or does; that is, it takes current affairs, and looks at how the Constitution applies to them and provides the case law that establishes the precedents.

One of the main values of bringing Trump into the equation is not too rally behind him, or rail against him, but rather to give us context for these constitutional principles and how they apply to our lives.

Continue reading “What Trump can teach us about Constitutional Law”

Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

Continue reading “Becoming an American citizen”

Why I returned my Nest in favour of an Ecobee

I got a Nest thermostat about 18 months ago. I wanted to take advantage of its smart home capabilities and to use that to help reduce our electricity usage (both for its cost benefits and for the good it does the environment).

Nest seemed like a great choice. With all of the great rebates that were on offer to us in the Portland area, we paid very little for it, and we were excited about how we could customise our thermostat to do whatever we wanted.

Except, we couldn’t.

Continue reading “Why I returned my Nest in favour of an Ecobee”

The logistics of a cross-country move in USA

It’s coming up on nearly three years now since our family moved from Florida to Portland, OR. I wish I had written this post a little sooner, but alas, we’ve been out exploring and enjoying our new home!

While this post is mostly about the logistics of a cross-country move, I have a separate post going over the route we took and the places that we saw over here.

Our move was very much a DIY move. We didn’t have any packers, no trucking company, no nothing. We did everything ourselves, and we learned a few things along the way, which I’d like to share with you to help you avoid some of the inconveniences and pitfalls that we hit.

Getting ready to move

Once you know you’re moving, some planning and organising can really help you out and help you to save some money.

We needed to have a good sense of how much this whole thing was going to cost, so we started looking at costs early on. In doing so, some of the bigger expenses were targets for finding savings. The most obvious of these in our case was the moving truck.

Continue reading “The logistics of a cross-country move in USA”

How to get trip data from Automatic into Google Maps

I’ve had Automatic for a few years now and it’s quietly been collecting a wealth of information about my driving habits. Usually, I’ve never had too much reason to want to use it in great detail, but after my cross-country road trip, moving from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR, I really wanted to recall my route and use it to illustrate my travels.

I didn’t know until I started digging into it just how hard that is to do. Automatic stores the paths (routes) that you take as an encoded polyline, which makes sense for them, as it reduces the size of this information considerably, however it makes the data really hard to utilise and manipulate.

Here’s an example of what an encoded polyline looks like:

{[email protected][email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]

Any idea what to do with that? Yeah. Nor did I. But after some perseverance (because I really wanted to use that data from my 4,100-mile trip!), I figured out a solution.

Continue reading “How to get trip data from Automatic into Google Maps”

1Password: Stop being outright dangerous with your passwords and online security

Computers are much smarter than us now. Using your first pet’s name followed by your year of birth stopped being sufficient as a password about a decade ago. There’s only way to really stay safe online these days: a password manager like 1Password.

It’s 2018. If you’re still under the impression that putting a number at the end of your password, or switching Es for 3s or As for @s in your password is the answer to password security, you’re probably very susceptible to having your passwords cracked.

This is the age where computers are now able to guess 350 billion passwords a second. 350 billion. Every. Single. Second. That means that if you have an eight-character password using only lowercase numbers and letters, a computer can guess every possible combination in about 8 seconds.

And of course, there’s been enough high profile hacks in recent years (Target, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Equifax) that there are databases full of login credentials for billions of accounts. If you’ve used the same password on multiple websites and your login credentials have been uncovered on any single website, a would-be hacker potentially has access to all of your online accounts.

With computer power doubling every 2 years, computers are getting very powerful very quickly. The trouble is, if you’re relying on your brain to remember all of your passwords, your brain isn’t getting too many upgrades in its processing power from year to year, no matter how many acai smoothies you drink. You’re fighting a losing battle.

Continue reading “1Password: Stop being outright dangerous with your passwords and online security”

Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)

I don’t usually play games on my phone, but when I found Mini Metro, which let me build my own subway system and improve it, I found a treasure.

I just came across a new game for iOS which has me embarrassingly addicted.

Let’s be clear: I don’t play games on my phone. The only exception is Chess. However, as a big old nerd with autistic tendencies, building my own Metro/Subway/Tube system, refining it, expanding it, making it more efficient and watching it run makes me happier than it should. So when I came across Mini Metro, I found a new pastime. Continue reading “Mini Metro: the perfect iOS game for nerds and engineers (or nerdy engineers!)”