Picking a Security Camera

I don’t like monthly fees so when home security companies offered their services to me, I quickly said no. Instead, I bought a security camera. Now I have 3 brands of security cameras and they all have their pros and cons. If you’re in the market for a security camera, I think any one of the 3 below will do you well.

Nest Cam

https://nest.com/cameras/

Pros:

  • Offers 24/7 cloud recording with the ability to easily scrub through the timeline
  • When browsing the timeline, you can easily find motion points indicated by markers
  • Ability to create a time lapse
  • Ability to create custom clips up to 1 hour long
  • The 4K models allow for zooming in on subjects
  • Once set up, you can leave it alone. No batteries to charge.
  • 1080p video resolution

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires a power cable
  • The narrowest part of the power cable is 7/8″ in diameter so if you need to drill holes in walls, they’ll need to be at least 1″ in diameter.
  • Requires a monthly fee of at least $10
  • Some models only support 720p video resolution

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Headings

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

This is heading 2

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum. Read More

How to Enlarge a Hole in a Wall

The other day I was drilling a hole in a wall to run a 3-prong extension cord through. I thought a 1 inch spade bit would do to create 1 inch diameter hole. Unfortunately, the plug end of the cord was still too big to fit through the hole. I couldn’t enlarge the hole using a hole saw bit

because that requires some material for the center shaft to bite in to.  Read More

Quick ‘n Easy Morning Breakfast Sandwiches

I discovered this new mini appliance by Hamilton Beach. It’s a dual sandwich maker and costs $40 on Amazon.

Here are some sandwiches you can make with it, all in an English muffin.

Note: all meat must be precooked.

  • Egg, spinach, Hollandaise sauce, Colby cheese (like Eggs Benedict)
  • Egg, corned beef, and cheddar cheese
  • Egg, green onion, diced roasted tomatoes, cheddar cheese, avocado
  • Egg, tomato, spinach
  • Egg, caramelized (fried) onion,  sliced sirloin steak (like a Philly cheese steak sandwich)
  • Egg, caramelized (fried) onion, ground beef patty, cheddar cheese (like a patty melt)
  • Egg, tomato, roast beef

Simple Trip Planner with Google Docs and Sheets

There are many tools that can help you plan a trip. Sometimes I’d even use Google Calendar. But when I want something that includes additional information such as a table of expenses, links to websites, and pictures, then I use Google Docs with an embedded Google Sheet. The workflow goes like this:

  1. Create a new Google Doc (or clone the example below)
    In the Google Doc, I use tables to create a 2-column layout with times on the left and details on the right. This makes it easy to read and looks more like an itinerary or agenda view.
  2. Uncheck Print Layout
    If you’re like me, you probably don’t print on paper much anymore. And why would you, when you can just save a copy or view the original version of a doc on your various devices (phone, laptop, etc). Print layout is intended for print so you’ll see gaps between each sheet. This is annoying when you want to just see all of your content as you scroll without any large gaps. To eliminate these gaps, in the View menu, uncheck the “Print Layout” menu item.
  3. Add content
    When it comes to content, I find it helpful to add the following bits of information

    1. Screenshots of Google Maps showing travel time and path
    2. Links to directions in Google Maps
    3. Photos of destinations, activities, and food
      Google Docs lets you paste images from the clipboard so you can simply take screenshots of pictures on your computer and paste them right into Google Docs
    4. Special notes about each activity
    5. etc
  4. Create a Google Sheet (or clone the example below)
    I use the Google Sheet to list all expenses and easily calculate the total using the sum function.
  5. Embed Google Sheet into Google Doc
    The nice thing about Google Docs and Sheets is you can embed a Google Sheet into your Google Doc and have it updated when you update the Google Sheet. In Google Sheets, you’ll have to hover over the embed and click the “Update” button. Nevertheless, it’s still super useful and may even auto-update if you want long enough, e.g. 5 minutes? To embed a table of costs from Google Sheets, select the table in Google Sheets and then paste it where you want it embedded in your Google Doc.
  6. Publish
    If you want to share your trip plan with others, you can share the Google Doc itself. Or, better yet, since who you share it with won’t need to edit anything, you can publish your Google Doc as a web page so your recipients can just see a clean, simple view of the trip plan.

Below is a hypothetical example.

Easily Remove Background From Photos

When building a website, you’ll often find yourself needing to remove backgrounds from photos of people. This can be especially difficult when a person’s hair is wispy and its color blends in with the background. Though not perfect, there’s a free, quick and pretty decent online tool to remove backgrounds from photos of people. No login is required. Just go to remove.bg and upload your photo.

Here’s an example of a subject that would be hard to remove the background from manually. As you can see, Remove.bg does a pretty good job but they’re also modifying the subject’s hair somewhat. This is most evident when you replace the background with a solid color of high contrast compared to the subject’s hair color.

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Test and Debug Websites in Internet Explorer 11 on a Mac Using VirtualBox and Serveo

As of this posting, the global usage of IE 11 stands at 2.5% according to caniuse.com. If that percentage is still too high for you to ignore, then you’ll need to test your website in IE 11.

Many developers use Macs for web development. Though you can test websites in Chrome, Firefox and Safari on a Mac, you can’t install and therefore test IE 11 on a Mac. You can get a separate Windows machine for testing IE 11 but that’s a hassle and overkill. Here are some steps to test and debug websites in IE 11 on a Mac using VirtualBox and Serveo.

1. Set Up VirtualBox

  1. Go to https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads and download VirtualBox for OS X hosts (Macs) and install it.
  2. Get Windows 8 Virtual Machine
    Go to https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/ and download a precompiled VirtualBox for Windows 8 with IE 11

2. Open Website in Local Browser

On your Mac, open your website on your local web server in any local browser (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) and not the URL. It may be localhost or localhost:8080 or localhost:3000, etc.

3. Set Up Tunnel Using Serveo

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Run the command ssh -R 80:localhost:3000 serveo.net using the correct local URL and port number
  3. You will see a response saying “Forwarding http traffic from https://abc.serveo.net” where abc may be different
  4. For more information, go to http://serveo.net. You can also use ngrok but Serveo is easier with nothing to install.

4. View Website in IE 11

  1. Run the virtual machine you just downloaded by double-clicking on it. Open IE 11 and enter the Serveo forwarding URL, e.g. https://abc.serveo.net
  2. Make changes to website files
  3. Reload IE 11 in VirtualBox to see the changes

Remove DRM From eBooks (Kindle) and Convert to PDF

Having to read an ebook, e.g. a Kindle book, in a special app, e.g. the Kindle app, can be annoying, especially when you want to copy and paste lots of text. Also, sharing your book can’t easily be done. To fix this these issues, you can remove the DRM (digital rights management) copyright protection from the ebook and then convert the decrypted file to PDF.

Remove DRM from Kindle (azw) file

One program I’ve tried that works is Epubor Ultimate. The version I used was 3.0.10.1025. This initially didn’t work with the version of the Kindle for PC version I had installed but the customer support people at Epubor gave me a link to install an older version of Kindle for  PC (1.24.53) and that worked. I had to delete the Kindle book (azw) folder and then in the Kindle for PC program, redownload the ebook. Then, in Epubor Ultimate, I was able to remove DRM from the file.

Convert Kindle ebook (azw) to PDF

In Epubor Ultimate, I was able to easily convert the decrypted azw file to PDF. Now, I can read the ebook anywhere and easily copy and paste text.

How to Price Work in Other Countries

I occasionally use Upwork (formerly eLance) to hire contract workers in other countries to work on some projects. Considering that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which happens to be one of the most expensive places to live, I have to constantly remind myself to price my projects according to the economy and cost-of-living where I hire workers overseas. Here’s an example cost analysis.

US Cost
Let’s say that, based on the type of work you need done, a fair US wage would be $10 per hour. Let’s also say that you expect the work should be done in no more than 17.5 hours. Therefore, the total project cost in the US would be $175.

Target Country
Let’s say you hire someone in Egypt to do the work. You’ll need a way to fairly and reasonably convert wages in the US to wages in Egypt. One way to do this is by comparing each countries GPD per capita, which is an estimate of the average salary in a particular country.

GDP Per Capita
According to the World Bank, as of July 6, 2018, the GDP per capitas of the US and Egypt are:

  • 2018 US GDP per capita = ~ $60,000
  • 2018 Egypt GDP per capita = ~ $3,000

https://goo.gl/wG6AAd

In other words, the average annual salary in the US and Egypt are $60k and $3K, respectively. Read More

How to Get Rid of Acne … Cheap!

Do the following before going to sleep at night:

1. Salycilic Acid 
Wash and clean your entire face using salycilic acid.
Clearasil Rapid Rescue Deep Treatment Wash 6.78oz – $6.00

2. Skin Moisturizer
Apply skin moisturizer to your entire face. This is necessary because the next step using benzoyl peroxide will make your skin red and very dry. The moisturizer will help prevent redness and dryness and will only slightly limit the effectiveness of the benzoyl peroxide.
Up&up Daily Moisturizing Lotion – $2.00

3. Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) 10%
Apply a thin layer of 10% benzoyl peroxide (BP) to entire face. Don’t go out in the sun with BP without sunscreen as sunlight hitting the BP could darken your skin. Don’t get BP on your eyes and hair. BP has a bleaching side effect and can cause dark fabric, e.g. towels and clothes, to appear bleached. BP is considered the best OTC (over the counter) acne medicine.
Max. Strength 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Gel Acne Medication – 1oz – Up&Up – $3.50

4. Sleep
Put a pillow cover, ideally one that is benzoyl peroxide resistant, over your pillow.

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