Archive for the ‘Home maintenance’ Category

Beware of Toaster Fires

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

toaster fire bigToaster fires are common, and they can happen to anyone. What may look like a fairly harmless and standard appliance still has the potential to cause major damage if used incorrectly, so always make sure to follow the safety instructions found in your appliance’s manual and keep your kitchen outlets and fuse boxes in working order. Do not operate your toaster underwater, near puddles of gasoline, or when there is newspaper stuffed in the little slits for bread. With that safety message delivered, we can move onto other topics and short stories.

Gina has dated her boyfriend for a few months and found a rare and exciting pattern carved deeply into his personality; for every amazing thing about him, there is a balancing negative thing about him that keeps him from being a jerk about being good at something. For example, he’s very intelligent, but his dyslexia kept him from ever being a teacher’s pet in school. He is attractive, but he grew up with a cross-eye so he wasn’t taught to expect everyone to want him around. He has amazing physical abilities, but his short legs keep him from being able to run too fast. He went to Berkeley, but he majored in philosophy. The list goes on.

toaster firesHowever, she’s worried because many of his balancing negative traits seem to be dying with time; he can read now, and his cross eye has been surgically corrected. He may have upward momentum that will push him into a realm that is too good for Gina, who recently got divorced and then a bad haircut.

Her insecurity boils over when he goes missing during a rowdy college party where drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous women with good haircuts abound. Her boyfriend goes missing but his friends are still at the party, leading her to believe that he may be in one of the many bedrooms cheating on her.

She runs around the student housing searching for him and finding clues that only lead her to discover other awful people. She comes to the conclusion that because his friends are all hanging out and hot girls are missing and he is neither in her bedroom nor any of the bathrooms, that when he finally does show up, she cannot listen to his crap and cannot believe him if he makes something up about where he was.

She checks her room a final time and finds him laying in her bed. She assumes he is pretending to be asleep, acting like his disappearance can be explained by him being in HER bed all night. She thinks differently, yelling at him and yanking the covers off the bed.

toaster fire3Upon doing this she realizes that he has shit her bed and that he must have been toggling between the bathroom and her bedroom, his indigestion perfectly timed so that she always missed him during her search. She is briefly suspicious of this being a well-planned diversion and then, seeing him moaning in his own feces, realizes that his cross eye and dyslexia and baby legs will never die, that the balancing traits are part of his being, that he is a true unicorn.

She accepts him deeper into her life, less insecure and ready to love him more intensely.

Fabio Stars in Ad for Crazy Toaster

Monday, July 25th, 2016

fabioFabio, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and a toaster than can print pictures onto the toast have teamed up to grace television with an absurd commercial for an absurd product.

Television watchers of the 1990’s may recall that Fabio starred in a variety of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter advertising campaigns. One of which involved Fabio fighting free from the butter sculpture of himself that was constraining him. Last March, he returned to the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spotlight to make yet another insane appearance, during which he was launched out of a whale’s blowhole.

Now he’s back again, and he’s showing off a brand new toaster called the “UnbelievabBot” that has Wi-Fi capabilities and can print images onto toast.

“This is a brand we have fun with. We don’t take ourselves very seriously at all, but we’re really serious about taste,” said Benjamin Crook, the marketing director for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Apparently the brand’s use of Fabio in far-out situations is an effort to create a “Land of Can’t Believe” for viewers that want to live in a world full of absurd situations and synthetic dairy products.

crispy toastI Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter hired a research and development team to make the toaster over the course of eight weeks. According to Crook, the fake butter brand was intending to provide an alternative to the increasingly unrealistic expectations of what someone should accomplish over the course of a morning (run 10 miles, read a novel, etc.):

“We’re juxtaposing that by saying it should be fun. You should just be able to get up, relax, have a piece of toast with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on it and have that ability to enjoy pleasure and not feel guilty about it.”

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter hopes that its new toaster will provide a new way for people to enjoy their mornings and have a sense of humor about the day ahead of them. They can use their smartphones or internet connections to pick a fun design for the toaster to mimic, whether it’s a woman being affectionate with her dog, large block letters saying “YOU WILL DIE ONE DAY” or “A TOAST TO YOU,” or a cartoon image of another piece of toast, for meta mornings.

mt rushmoreEither way, Fabio has one, and it’s my honest hope that the power doesn’t go to his head. It’s hard to imagine what Fabio would want to print on a piece of toast, but it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for television, nor would his choice of spread. As for me, I would probably keep my toast images simple and uplifting, like a sparsely detailed sketch of Mt. Rushmore (four smiley faces next to each other), two pieces of toast each adorned with a walkie-talkie that I can pretend to speak into, or maybe a geometric design that I can get lost in before my morning coffee.

It’s a stupid idea, but I think it could be a pretty fun way to start the day.

The Secret Behind Walkie Talkies

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

walkie talkieWalkie-talkies aren’t appreciated like they ought to be; after all, they work even without the convenience of cellular towers. That means for people living off the grid, a walkie talkie can be as much of a household appliance as a landline. Accordingly, this article will teach you a little bit about how walkie talkies were developed and what exactly goes on inside them.

First-off, what is a walkie talkie? A walkie talkie is basically just a wireless, hand-held radio that is made to be portable and fit into a decent sized pocket. They’re a lot like cell phones, but their body is composed of a basic microphone and speaker, as well as an antenna. Unlike a cellphone, a walkie talkie is generally laid out so that its speaker and microphone are directly next to each other, as it’s not normal to hold a walkie talkie up to your ear; they’re basically like big speaker phones.

So how do they work? One way to think of a walkie talkie is to see them as battery-powered transceivers. A transceiver is something that can both send and receive radio messages (meaning it has both a receiver and a transmitter). Walkie talkies use something called a half-duplex channel, which means that only one walkie-talkie on a given channel can transmit a signal at any one time, even if many radios can receive that same signal. Thus the familiar (if somewhat inconvenient) push-to-talk (PTT) system- if you want to talk, you have to press a button to speak, and if you want to listen, you have to release that button to allow sound from other units to travel through your device.

walkie tWalkie talkies present another helpful advantage over cell phones in that you don’t need to dial a number every time you want to send a message; they’re easier to use in this regard, and it’s much easier to have a “group call” as multiple listeners can tune into the same frequency to share a conversation. And again, it definitely helps in the forest when you don’t have cell service to pull out a walkie talkie.

That said, walkie-talkies are made for people to use when they’re within a few miles of each other; they’re generally used by security guards or wilderness lovers, not biyaag city dwellers.

But what electronic components are responsible for this handy little device? All walkie-talkies have a few basic components: a speaker, a microphone, a battery, an antenna, some circuity, and the PTT button. When you press your PTT button to say hello to someone else with a walkie talkie, the walkie talkie converts your voice into radio signals, which travel at the speed of light. Walkie talkies work on different channels (of frequency bands) so that you and your friends can tune into the same channel and not receive signals from the unlimited amounts of other radio frequencies permeating the air.

All walkie talkies are built to work on specific radio frequencies. In the United States, these frequencies are composed of the Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). They operate at the 460-MHz range.

How Does Bleach Work?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

bleachYou can find it in basically every laundry room in America, and yet very few people really understand what bleach is and how it works. Here’s an article to make it a little clearer what one of the most commonly used mixtures in the world actually is.

There are two different kinds of bleaches; there’s chlorine bleaches and non-chlorine bleaches. Both of these fall under the category of oxidative agents, meaning that they cause oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when bleach comes into contact with certain kinds of stains, germs, organisms, and sometimes (often unfortunately) clothing dyes.

As you’re likely aware, this oxidation tends to come in handy in the laundry room and all around the house. Bleach helps remove stains on clothing and whitens your laundry. It can disinfect linens and surfaces, remove mold and mildew, keep food preparation surfaces safe and clean, disinfect your blender, and maintain hygiene in pools and hot tubs.

bleach2This last use is reserved for chlorine bleach in particular. Chlorine bleach is even kept in small amounts in municipal water supplies to help keep public water free of any harmful organisms that might cause disease. Companies sometimes add chlorine bleach to industrial waste water to reduce odor. All together, chlorine bleach in particular is used by a huge amount of industries including the glass, chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, agriculture, paint, and paper industries.

So where did this stuff come from? Bleach was first manufactured in the US in 1913 and used as an institutional disinfectant and a water treatment. Before that, chemicals like borax, ammonia and lye were more commonly used and bleaches using chlorine were difficult to manufacture and thus too expensive to really be worth using.

Because chlorine bleach is the most commonly used kind of bleach, it makes sense to get into the way this bleach is made and what exactly it’s made of. It contains the active ingredient sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), but non-chlorine bleaches have a lot of different active ingredients that serve different purposes. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, is a bleach that is safe to use on colored clothing as it doesn’t have an active ingredient that will degrade clothing dye.

bleach3But how does bleach make the blood stain on your shirt go away? What’s actually happening there on a chemical level? It all has to do with the physics of light. Light is unique because it can be seen as both a particle and a wave. Its particles are called photons and they are said to travel in waves. Not all of these waves are visible to the human eye, and the waves that a particular substance emits has to do with that substance’s chemical makeup. The electrons in some of its chemical bonds are capable of absorbing late at particular wavelengths dependent on the characteristics of the chemical bond itself.

Chlorine bleach is able to oxidize many of these bonds, breaking them and making the substance’s ability to absorb certain kinds of light inert. When this happens, the stain becomes undetectable to the human eye.


Make the Most out of Your Refrigerator

Monday, February 8th, 2016

fridgeRefrigerators have become a staple of the American kitchen, and European for that matter. But who truly knows how to use one? Yes, you can keep your refried beans cold in one of the drawers, but how does that make a refrigerator that much different than a drawer full of loose ice? Is a refrigerator really a refrigerator if the item was never cold to begin with? The answer to these questions and more will be found in the following article:

Refrigerators have been around since 1866, but they were just boxes filled with ice and didn’t have electric components yet. It took a while for Benjamin Franklin to invent the refrigerator because he was distracted by the prospect of making the world’s first self-righting hat, which would adjust itself so that it was always straighten themselves on the wearer’s head, even if the wearer was to break into a cold sprint, jump up and down, or roll around on the floor. He later learned that these hats already existed in Japan and that bringing them to America was more of a business venture than an opportunity to prove his intellectual prowess by coming up with a new invention, causing him to lose interest in the project. Accordingly, he moved on to the modern refrigerator.

Refrigerators have a lot of different parts and use tubes full of coolant to chill out the air around stuff you want to stay cold. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and requires a lot of electricity, which is why most refrigerators were located near rivers and dams where they could be powered by mills and the like.

fridgeBecause most people had come to terms with the fact that they couldn’t store meat or other perishables long, it took a while for them to think of prolonging the life of their food by putting it in the refrigerators. People mostly used them as “chill closets” where they could take a quick respite from the baking heat of the afternoon sun. Once someone left their lunch in there and came back a day later and found that the meat hadn’t spoiled, people realized that food storage could be an extremely handy use for the device. Thus, Franklin built some shelves and begun to sell the refrigerators with the cabinets built-in, putting an end to “chill closet” culture but creating a new way for people of the time to avoid starvation and illness from spoiled food.

Nowadays refrigerators are getting pretty complicated. Samsung recently released a refrigerator that has a TV screen built into it and can stream music from your phone so that you can get bumping in your kitchen. It also comes with a camera that allows you to see what’s in your fridge without opening the door or from your phone if you’re in a supermarket, which is exceptionally helpful if you’re so forgetful you even forgot to make a shopping list. All of these new capabilities would have never been possible without Ben Franklin!

DIY Cabinets; You Can Do it!

Monday, January 18th, 2016

diy cabinetPaying for carpenters or contractors to create your cabinets is a difficult and stressful process. You have to do a lot of research to make sure that you can find a trustworthy builder that won’t overcharge you, and even the fairest prices are extremely expensive. Even if you find the right worker and agree on a decent price, you have to plan your schedule around theirs so that you’re present while they build, and you have to deal with the noise and hassle of big projects happening in your home.

So why not save on the cost of labor while learning a thing or two about carpentry? Believe it or not, you don’t have to be an expert carpenter to make simple cabinets (if you want something more elaborate you ought to opt into paying a professional, however) and it really is satisfying to do the work yourself. Intimidated by the prospect? Here’s a straightforward set of directions for how to build your own cabinets that will keep your head above water throughout the process.

1. Figure out what you want.

Determine which cabinet dimensions are best suited to your space and your needs. Keep in mind that cabinet width is generally determined in 3″ increments and that you should always take the door size into account when you plan the width.

2. Cut out your panels and braces.

Once you know your dimensions, you can begin to cut out the sides, bottom, and front and back base panels, top brace panels, and facing panels of your cabinet. For materials, you can use MDF, plywood, or any other appropriate type of laminate. The sides won’t be seen, so don’t pick your material based on appearance. Strength and durability are key to this choice. If your cabinets are upper or wall cabinets, you won’t need a toe kick. If your cabinets will sit on the floor, be sure to cut a toe kick that will end up being your bottom front corner.

diy cabinet3. Join the panels.

Start out by joining the base panels to the bottom. Use wood glue and align the panels so that one flat face is flush with the back edge of the panel and the other is 3″ or so back from the front end. Then screw the cabinet base to the edge of the panels using butt joints. Use pilot holes if you want.

Next join the sides to the bottom with the same glueing and screwing process. Again, be sure that the edges are flush and fit the toe-kick in with the gap you made if applicable. Keep edges flush. A clamp and angle measuring tool makes this entire process easier.

4. Secure the top brace panel.

Glue and secure using the same process, making sure the brace panel will sit flat against the wall. The front brace panel should sit flush with the countertop. Then nail on a back panel. Measure and screw a 1/2″ plywood back panel into place, 3/4″ for a wall cabinet.

5. Reinforce.

Add corner brackets to all joints to reinforce them.

6. Install the shelves.

Measure and mark level locations where you want shelves. Add screws or brackets and put in appropriately sized surfaces here.

7. Add the facing panels. Assemble them the way you would assemble a picture frame. Nail and countersink the nails to attach completed faces to the cabinet.

8. Place the cabinet where you want and screw the back panel into wall studs to make sure the cabinet is secure.

9. Install the doors. You’re welcome!

The Circuits That Make Your Appliances Work

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

circuitsAll electrical appliances function based on the manipulation of electric circuits, which allow them to be powered by electricity to varying degrees and turn on and off based on whatever controls you program onto the device. Have you ever wondered exactly how this happens? If so, this article is for you:

When you slip a battery into your electronic gadget, you’re allowing for negatively charged electrons to have a path to travel to the positive portion of the battery. They don’t simply flood from one side of the battery to another; they’re forced to take a roundabout path to the other side and, along the way, they manage to power your device.

Any time you’re using a battery, fuel cell, or solar cell to rev up a device, three fundamental principles are going to be in play. The source of the electricity you’re using is going to need to have two terminals, one of which is positive and the other is negative. Additionally, the source of the electricity will need to be set up in such a way that it wants to push electrons out of its negative terminal at a particular voltage (pressure by which the electrons are pushed). To put this in perspective, a double A battery generally wants to push electrons out at a rate of 1.5 volts. Finally, the electrons are going to have to flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal via a conductor, likely a copper wire.

Given all of this new information, you can now better understand the definition of a circuit, which is a path that goes from a positive to a negative terminal in such a way that electrons can flow through the wire.

So long as whatever you want to have move around is attached to the circuit somewhere in the middle, the movement of electrons (electricity) will have to pass through whatever hoops you’ve set for it in order to reach the end of the circuit. That’s how you manage to spin a shaft (for a motor, like the motor in our blender) or generate heat (like for your toaster) or whatever the heck you want to do.

details of the electronic circuit tracks on a printed circuit board, once of 20 images on our "electronik" design pack

Electricity is generally way more complicated than these rudimentary explanations, but know that regardless of what you’re doing, if you’re using electricity to power something, you’re going to have a source of electricity, a wire to the load (or thing you want to power) and a wire back to the other side of the source of electricity. Electrons always move from the source, through the load, and back to the source.

So just to go over it all again, know that moving electrons have energy. As they move from one point to another, they can do work along the way. This work can involve creating heat, which in turn can create light. They can also do the work of creating a magnetic field, which can then interact with other magnets to create motion. Motors, by the way, are basically just working generators in reverse.

Get Blending

Friday, December 4th, 2015

blenderBroken blender? Not a problem; with just a few basic tools and a continuity tester, you don’t have to be an electrical engineer to diagnose and fix a problem with your small appliance. Here’s how to about fixing your first blender:

Keep in mind that the fundamental task of your blender is to spin the motor shaft that in turn allows the blender’s blade to spin. The best way to keep this process problem-free is to refrain from over stuffing your blender and to keep all seals nice and tight. If it’s too late for preventative measure talk, don’t worry, we’ll get to how you can fix it up again.

But first let’s quickly go over the multispeed switch in your blender. It sends currents to the motor based on which speed you chose (which turned the rheostat to a certain level). More current equals faster, more powerful chopping.

The jar of your blender holds liquids, but also must be able to disassembled for cleaning purposes. This means that the blender has to be equipped with seals to keep liquids from escaping into the circuitry. The blender also has a seal around the coupling to make sure liquids don’t seep into the motor.

Ok, time to repair stuff:

blender insideSay the switch is broken, which is pretty common in blenders. Unplug the blender, remove the blender base, and notice that the multispeed switch is attached to the base with clips or screws accessed from underneath the base’s faceplate or from inside the base. You may not need to remove the switch entirely; oftentimes switch issues are caused by loose terminals that can be tightened back up in no time. If, on the other hand, you see a blackened terminal or wire, you have a switch problem.

Whip out your continuity tester and see if that multispeed switch checks out. If not, some compressed air can help to dry and clean out a switch that has suffered some liquid damage. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to replace the switch.

If you’ve got a blown fuse (blenders are made so that fuses will blow before excessive current is sent to the sensitive and more expensive motor; replacing a fuse is much easier and less expensive), remove the blender base and find the fuse in the wire from the multispeed switch to the motor. Disconnect the wire and check it out with your continuity tester. Open circuits mean blown fuses, so if that’s the case your best bet is to replace the faulty in-line fuse with one of identical rating.

Worst case scenario, your motor is malfunctioning. It’s easily tested: use an ohmmeter to test whether the circuit is complete by placing a probe on each cord prong, selecting a speed control button, and reading the resistance on the meter. If the resistance changes when you rotate the drive stud clockwise one turn, the motor needs service. Let an appliance repair shop handle this one.

However helpful this has been so far, it’s important to remember that the most common problems among blenders are caused by jars leaking liquids. You can tighten the base, but if this doesn’t work you may need to replace the gasket.

Looking for the perfect washing machine? Try this!

Monday, August 24th, 2015

At the point when putting resources into another clothes washer, there’s a considerable measure more having an effect on everything than how well it cleans. To begin with, you’ll consider the kind of machine you need — a conventional top loader, a top loader without a fomenter, or a front loader. Financial plan, obviously, is another concern. What’s more, which extraordinary cleaning elements may be super-useful to you? Here’s the manner by which to approach the machine path equipped with a reasonable perspective.

You might want to try out an LG washing machine which has similar features.

On the off chance that you have a little pantry (or only a clothing corner):

Full-sized washers can be 24 to 30 or more crawls wide (and a few machines sport cumbersome, shaped fronts that add to the width), so begin by snatching your measuring tape. Scribble down the measurements of your space, additionally watch that the washer will fit through the lobbies and entryways in transit into the room. What’s more, consider other restricting components, for example, a washer entryway that will slam into the divider each time you open it. In case you’re confronted with a super-thin space, a front loader that stacks with the dryer may be your most solid option.

  • On the off chance that your pantry isn’t in the cellar:

Initially, verify the floor is legitimately strengthened for the heaviness of the machines. You may need a calmer model with elements that lessen vibration and clamor amid the twist cycle so it’s not problematic to your day by day life. What’s more, think about going overboard for a “style” shading, since it’s presumable your machine may be seen by visitors more regularly than if it were concealed ground floor.

  • In the event that you have a huge amount of wash to do:

The tub measurements are most essential, and can run from around 2.45 cubic feet up to 5.6 cubic feet. You’ll locate the biggest limit on a front loader or in a top loader without the focal instigator. Furthermore, consider fancy odds and ends like programmable settings (so more seasoned children can assist do their clothing easily) or a platform that will spare you once more from interminable stooping.

  • On the off chance that you would prefer not to spend a great deal:

A little spending plan doesn’t essentially mean a penance in execution, however you’ll likely get less favor highlights. Furthermore, don’t be influenced by in vogue hues: You’ll spare $100 to $200 in the event that you settle on a white model. Customary no-ornament top loaders are the least expensive, yet they utilize more vitality to run. Utilize the Energy Guide evaluations to consider your vitality costs over the 10-to-15-year life of the machine.

  • In the event that you need to moderate water and power:

Front loaders utilize way less water than conventional top loaders, which need to top off totally for the wash and flush cycles. Decide on an Energy saving model in an LG washing machine, which diminishes power and water use by 20% and 35%, separately, over non-evaluated models. What’s more, look at those Energy Guide names as a premise for correlation from model to show. In any case, recall that your genuine expenses will shift, in view of your utilization and the utility expenses in your general vicinity. An