Hacks Awe

Years ago, the term "hacker" carried a connotation of a malicious meddler who attempts to gain unauthorized access to sensitive computer systems to steal, change, or destroy information as a form of cyber-terrorism.

But today, it’s come to mean something entirely different and much more flattering. Now a "hacker" is someone who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations — someone who makes things work beyond perceived limits through unconventional means or skills. And there’s a whole new social culture of hacking that’s emerged as a result of information-sharing via Internet-based communities.

Some of our favorite websites to visit are hack sites, where off-beat, sometimes-radical thinking folks put forth creative ideas to make everyday things work just a little bit better, easier, and/or cheaper. Here are just a few:

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Lifehacker makes getting things done easy & fun with simple tricks for managing your information & time. If you don’t already have this site bookmarked, well, do it now!

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Danny O’Brien’s lifehack.org is a frequently-updated blog built around the theme of hacks, tips, & tricks that get things done quickly by automating, increasing productivity, & organizing.

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Asha Dornfest’s Parent Hacks is a collaborative weblog that collects useful parenting tips, recommendations, workarounds, & other bits of wisdom. It’s the stuff that would’ve been left out of the instruction manual — if there were one to begin with.

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ikea hacker is a a nifty site that offers simple tips on repurposing, tweaking, & otherwise improving the cool stuff from Dede’s favorite store, IKEA.

The Heat Is On!

A couple of weeks ago, I finally worked up the courage to replace our old crank-the-dial, manually-operated, & inefficient Trane thermostat with a new eco-friendly Honeywell programmable digital thermostat.   I’ve wanted to do this for some time now, but was a little intimidated about the whole thing…


Old thermostat

New digital thermostat

Turns out, it couldn’t have been easier.   This model was about $65, features a nice Indiglo-style backlight; big, easy-to-read display; and allows 4 schedule changes for Monday thru Friday and another 4 each for Saturday & Sunday.   Y’know, all the whiz-bang stuff that any gadget-lovin’, techie dude would want…

Been thinking about doing this yourself?   Hesitate no longer!   You’ll be helping the environment and your wallet — you can likely recoup the expense of the new thermostat within a few months thanks to lower energy bills.   And it’s a very straight-forward swap that even a rookie homeowner can tackle.   Read more about the steps required at DIY Network’s Guide to Installing a Digital Thermostat.

Ikea Haul Photos

Ikea logoFor the uninitiated, Ikea (Dede’s mostest favoritest store ever) might best be described as “the Old Navy of home furnishings.” (You can learn lots more about it via my Cult of Ikea post.)

We’re still reeling from our most recent pilgrimage to Ikea, having lumbered back home from our trip to Ikea Frisco piled up with more stuff in the back of the Element than we’ve ever managed to cram in there before. Here are a couple of photos showing just some of the goodies we managed to haul back:

Ikea Bjursta dining table

Ikea Lycksele LÖVÅS chair bed

Summer's Not Over

Ahh, the first few dry leaves have http://cialistadalafils.com/ dropped on the lawn, the days are getting shorter, the nights are a little cooler, and there’s just that feeling that Fall is upon us. Poets often romanticize about Autumn’s crisp air, earthy golden hues, and mellower tones with sentiments like:

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a lustre in it’s sky…”

“The mellow autumn came, and with it came the promised party, to enjoy it’s bounty.”

“What visionary tints the year puts on, when falling leaves falter…”

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”

Yeah, right. No sooner did the Autumnal equinox occur to officially signal the beginning of Fall did we get another near-triple-digit blast of blistering temperatures to remind us that, regardless of what the silly ol’ calendar says, Summer’s not over in West Texas just yet. And this just in time for the annual MCH Employee Picnic too!

And with the Summer-like temperature, there was also one last good opportunity to catch a few more glipses of dapper dudes sporting cool Hawaiian shirts. So, in continuing that series, here’s Harvey H. doing the stylish tropical shirt thing with a distinctive University of Texas flavor.

Harvey does a Hawaiian shirt a la UT style

The Office Remodel Continues…

We have the walls & ceiling painted, carpet installed, and windows replaced and have started moving back into our home office.   Of course, the first thing in was our computers and our new computer desks.   In fact, that’s about as far as we’ve gotten.   Once we were back up & running, we wanted to take some time out to catch our breath and enjoy the room – and post a few pics.

Click the new Mango Gold-colored square in the Our House” diagram to see our progress!

Keep an eye on the blog for more updates on the home office project!

Home Office Remodel

We started our home office remodel on Friday. Our plan was to pull up the old carpet and stain the bare concrete slab below and make new home windows. The best laid plans sometimes just don’t work out! After we pulled up the old carpet and pad, we found even older vinyl tiles. Under those vinyl tiles, we found some really stubborn old black glue. After some Googling, we read that acetone would help remove the glue. We tested this theory with a bottle of fingernail polish and a wire brush and found that the glue was tougher than we were! Time for Plan B…

Plan A - Still Looking Good!

Plan B – we got up Saturday morning and went carpet shopping. The new carpet will be installed next Saturday. As much as the file cabinets / kitchen countertop was functional as computer workstations, we are ready for something different. We had to learn more about the space management and did some new office furniture shopping – got furniture floor protectors as well – and found what we think will be our new workstations (pictures coming soon after carpet installation). We did a quick shopping spree at Home Depot and prepped the room for painting. We now have the room mostly painted. Since our main computers are down during the remodel, we have limited computer web publishing tools on the notebook so look for the full photo coverage once our office is back up.

Remember you can go to our “Photos” and Our House link to view pictures of our other home projects.


If you’re not up on the “Feng Shui” thang, don’t get put off by the Asian mysticism vibe. Even without digging too deeply into the subject, most of the concepts do make sense and can make for a more effective room layout. So, with that in mind, Dede was all about enhancing the “chi” in our newly reworked living room. While still looking for finishing touches, she had a Trading Spaces moment…

This was a bit tricky to capture because of the low light and size of the room, but you get an idea of the ambient glow that she created using these hard-to-find accent lighting canisters with the “natural light” bulbs that Topper recommended:

Nifty uplight from Lowe's Behold the ambience!


(Click here for a larger version of the above photo or click on the Living Room on this map to see more pics.)


Cut to the chaise

In the frenzied aftermath of our DFW trip, I forgot to mention that the re-ordered chaise for our new living room sectional sofa finally arrived. We picked it up from ADA the evening before we hit the road. So, be sure to click on the Living Room from this map to see the completed sectional set.