Posted on Mar 28, 2019
Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem.
If possible, buy a house built after 1978 to avoid lead paint.
Plaster walls were used to finish interior houses up until the 1950s at which time it was replaced with drywall. Plaster walls are like stucco. Since they are hard, cutting and drilling a hole for, say, hanging a picture is difficult.
If possible, buy a house after the 1950s to avoid having to deal with plaster walls.
Avoid Old Wiring Systems
Old homes used knob and tube wiring till around 1920. After that, flexible cables were used till the 1940s. After that, cables were run through metal conduit till around 1965. Around 1965, homes began using modern NM cable commonly called Romex.
If possible, buy a house after 1965 to avoid having to deal with old wiring systems.
Roofs are one of the most expensive parts of a house. Replacing the shingles on a roof can cost around $10,000. Shingle roofs commonly have a lifespan of 25 years.
If possible, find out when the roof was installed to determine whether the roof will need replacing soon or not.
Posted on Mar 22, 2019
When an economic recession occurs, one thing that happens for sure is the unemployment rate goes up. You can see a graph of the California unemployment rate since 1967 on the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s website. Below is a copy of that graph until 2019-01-01.
The shaded areas indicate a recession. As you can see, the unemployment rate has jumped up during each recession. Logically, as unemployment goes up, incomes go down since fewer people are working. Following is the graph of median household income in California over the years.
Posted on Mar 21, 2019
Posted on Mar 20, 2019
Buying a house can be stressful, especially in a hot market. If you wait too long to put in an offer, it may be too late as the buyer may have already accepted a previous offer in which case previous buyer would be “in contract” (pending sale) in which case the seller can’t entertain other offers while in contract. Therefore, getting “in contract” quickly prevents blocks other buyers.
Of course, the more you offer to buy a house, the more interested the seller would be to accept your bid. However, you don’t want to offer too much as you could be overpaying. Let’s say you find a duplex on sale for $360,000. You then do some research to determine if $360K is the market value.
According to Redfin, you find that the house is estimated at $360K. However, Redfin shows you how they came up with that estimate using comparable properties in the area. After looking at the comparables, you find that Redfin’s automated estimation algorithm is using single family homes as comparables instead of duplexes. Obviously, single family homes are not good comparables to use if the subject property is a duplex. Read More
Posted on Mar 17, 2019
Posted on Feb 26, 2019
If you need to only create 2d house floor plans, I personally have found Lucidchart to be easy to learn and intuitive to use.
If you need to create 3d house floor plans, I have found Live Home 3D to offer the best features for the price. At $10 (on sale), you can easily create 2d and 3d home plans. You download and install the program which allows for faster 3d rendering. My typical workflow to design a home is as follows:
1. Create a room by clicking the Room button
2. Draw a room (2d) by dragging the shape of a rectangle
3. Pick a door style
Posted on Feb 24, 2019
I’ve been playing around with taking videos and video editing. My main issues with taking videos are
Following are some action cameras worth considering.
What I primarily like about this camera is the gimbal-like”Hypersmooth” video stabilization. It doesn’t use an actual gimbal but it does an impressive job performing as if using a gimbal. However, it’s not as good as using an actual gimbal. The primary downside is the huge price tag at $400.
This camera costs only $50 and comes with basic EIS (electronic image stabilization). It’s still not as good as GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilization but it’s significantly cheaper.
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a tiny camera with mini holder than offers true gimbal 3-axis stabilization.
The GoPro Shorty is a stick with an integrated tripod.
The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is a smartphone holder with a gimble. It has many features including the ability to follow a moving subject.
$20 on Banggood
When you compare GoPro 7’s HyperSmooth image stabilization to DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal stabilization, the latter is better, as expected. If you watch this video at time 5:08, you’ll see that the horizon stays level in the Osmo Pocket video but it sways a bit in the GoPro 7 video as if you are on a boat. For the GoPro, you’d have to get a holder with a gimble to achieve the same level of stabilization.
The GoPro Hero 7 seems to have better low-light quality.
With a wider field of view (FOV), you’ll obviously be able to see more. The GoPro Hero 7 appears to support a wider field of view compared to the Osmo Pocket.
With the GoPro, you can replace the batteries. With the Osmo Pocket, you have to charge the embedded battery.
For infrequent use, I’d just get a gimbal for my smartphone that also supports the GoPro Hero in case I ever get a GoPro. After reviewing the Moza Mini-Mi, Zhiyun Smooth 4 and the Osmo Mobile 2. The Osmo Mobile 2 is the best.
For frequent use, though I like how small the Osmo Pocket, I think I’d get the GoPro Hero 7 since it includes Hypersmooth stabilization, a wide field of view, and supports replacing batteries. To get gimbal-smooth videos, I’d just buy a holder with a gimbal for use with the GoPro.
When filming with a regular action cam, you have to point the camera at what you want to film. If the person holding the camera doesn’t aim well or is on a moving around a lot, e.g. on a roller coaster, the subject can easily get cut off. To solve this, you could get a 360 degree action camera. They record everything around you regardless of which direction the camera is facing. In post processing, you can choose which direction you want the final video at face at any given time frame. This is called “reframing” the video to convert it to normal a flat video.
When traveling, you don’t always know when you’ll come across a scene you’d like to film. Fortunately, many cameras are small enough to put in your pocket. However, it’s nice to be able to record hands free. There are many mounts and accessories available including
At the very least, using a lanyard would be wise in certain situations like on a roller coaster so if you drop the camera, you won’t lose it.
Posted on Feb 21, 2019
Following is some advice regarding major life issues I would offer to every average person (the majority of people) based on my experience and the experience of others. Unfortunately, these are things they don’t teach you in school.
People don’t like saving money and generally aren’t good with money. If you choose to rent instead of buy a house for a long period of time, you will for the most part lose money and not end up with much money. Your rent will keep increasing and the money spent on rent will just be gone – given to your landlord. Conversely, if you buy a house, even with just a 20% down payment, while you may feel like you’ve lost a huge amount of money from paying the large down payment, in most cases you haven’t lost any money at all. You’ve just moved that money from one place (a bank account) to equity in the house. When you make your monthly payments, though some of the payment amount will be lost to pay interest to a lender, e.g. a bank, the remainder of the money will be yours, albeit in the form of equity in the house. Furthermore, the house will likely increase in value which increases your equity in the house. In hot markets like the San Francisco Bay Area, one can realize an impressive gain in house value due to appreciation, e.g. $200K over a few years of doing nothing but paying your mortgage.
Most people are not good investors, whether in the stock market or in running a business. While it’s easy to invest in the stock market, it’s extremely volatile and more akin to gambling. Running a business is a lot of work which most people can’t handle. Therefore, most people would be better off just investing in real estate and becoming a landlord. While it does require some work, it’s much less than running a business and more predictable than the stock market. Having a rental property would allow you net worth to grow much faster than if you just owned one home as your primary residence. In other words, if you had to choose between buying one dream home for $1M as your primary residence versus buying two average homes, each costing $500K, where one would be your primary residence and the other a rental property, you’ll end up having a higher net worth faster in the latter case as your tenants in your rental property will be paying that property’s mortgage for you.
Posted on Feb 18, 2019
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 document scanner is one of the best sub $500 scanners. Unfortunately, the documentation isn’t good. I tried scanning a document over wi-fi to my laptop, which normally works fine, but one day the blue light would keep changing to orange. I ended up having to uninstall and reinstall the installation software. Fortunately, my scanner’s wi-fi settings were still saved. Here are some tips which I’m writing more as a reminder to myself but which may be of help to anyone reading this.
On Windows, in your system tray there should be a ScanSnap icon. When the scanner is off,the icon is grayed out and the tooltip message says “ScanSnap is not connected.”
To scan over wi-fi to your laptop, do the following
If you want to scan to a laptop over USB, e.g. if you are having wi-fi problems, do this: