Friday, March 30, 2018

Patty Melts

When you make a new recipe twice in one week, you know you have a winner, and these will get a permanent spot on the dinner rotation.  They are a perfect use case for the griddle on our gas stovetop, making it much easier to smash things down to the desired thickness.  As you can see below, no cheese is spared, it's covered with caramelized onions before topped with the second piece of marbled rye.  This lives up to its name, "The Greatest Patty Melt In The Country"!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

AfterShokz Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

Bone conduction headphones don't go in your ear, they lay on the side of your head on your cheekbones, vibrating sound to the inner ear.  No wires (i.e. bluetooth), so light you can wear them for hours and they include microphone pickups so you can take that phone call.  These are my answer to not being able to keep a bud in my left ear or using headphones that block out every drop of external noise.  Awesome magic!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LED Tube Lights

I was at the edge of my mechanical and electrical talents (and bravery) replacing three hanging florescent light fixtures with these flush mount LED updates.  I even installed a new electrical box and figured out what wires needed to be connected together, although full disclosure requires me to say it took me an hour's puzzling to make that happen.  We're very happy with results as the laundry room feels bigger, brighter and less cluttered.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Print Alexa Shopping List

It's nice to add items to your Alexa shopping list hands-free, but fiddling with your smartphone in the grocery store is a pain as is copying them to paper.  But since we have an HP wireless printer already setup with its own e-print email address, adding this IFTTT (IF This Then That) applet enables you to say "Alexa, print my shopping list" and shortly (can take a minute) your printer spews out your list, ready for shopping.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Tom Hanks Center For Motion Pictures

After a meeting last winter at Wright State University, I decided to stroll around my alma mater, in spite of the snow, ice and cold, and was surprised to see Tom Hanks name featured on a building next to the library.  I didn't realize he has ties to WSU, including a performance here in Shakespeare’s “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” back in the late 1970s and donating money in 1998 to launch a scholarship fund in his name.  He agreed to co-chair a fundraising committee back in 2014 and the renovated building was dedicated to him in 2016.  Walking around campus is like a box of chocolates...

Friday, March 23, 2018

Beef Marsala Stew

Meat and potatoes, real comfort food, done up right.  Marsala wine, cipollini onions, button mushrooms and thyme are the secret ingredients.  And there's just something real nice about doing all the cleanup, except the crock pot, hours ahead of dinner, especially when a meal like this makes you want to couch potato for awhile.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


My wife had this cute techno-geek idea to decorate the wall behind my home office desk and I ordered these three black, 6 inch high, 1/8th inch thick wooden characters, in a Times New Roman Bold font.  They are so light I was able to scissor and stick little pieces of Command brand adhesive strips to their backs and mount them near-flush to the wall.  Less than $28 total for this unique, and totally me,  adornment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Adding Preview File Types For Text Files

The Windows Preview Pane will display ".txt" files, but many others files are really text but have other extensions.  For the slightly brave at heart, there's a fix for that, but it takes some changes to the Windows registry.

Open the registry editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.ext, where ".ext" is the extension you want to add, such as ".bat" in the example below.  Add two new string values of type REG_SZ named "Content Type" and "PerceivedType".  Note that one of these has a space in the middle and the other does not.  Set the value of Content Type to "text/plain" and PerceivedType to "text'.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Windows Explorer Preview Pane

In Windows Explorer, the shortcut ALT+P brings up the preview pane, as shown below on the right.  For any file type that Windows has a preview function defined, you get a preview.  Since I have Microsoft Office on my work laptop, it knows about Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, and others, like Text files, will also display.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Three-Way Light Bulbs

Add converting lamps from 1-way to 3-way as a skill I didn't know I had.  But really, it's simple, with the hardest part removing the existing socket from the screw post.  Only costs a couple bucks for the new socket.

Look closely at the sockets in the picture below.  The socket on the left is a 1-way switch, the one on the right the 3-way.  The 3-way has a silver tab on the black tab at the bottom, and that's the extra connection that's needed.  The 3-way bulb will have a matching connections.  Those two connections allow for the three levels of light.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cheesy Vegetable Manicotti

No meat?  No problem.  And this is a great make-ahead dish.

The yellow squash and zucchini are cut up into small pieces, the onion and garlic are cooked until softened and it's all combined with ricotta, parmesan and an egg to stuff the shells.  Surround all that loveliness with tomato sauce, more parmesan and a heaping helping of mozzarella on top.

Drooling yet?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Chrome Task Manager

Every once in a while my web browsing slows down, usually accompanied by the Macbook Air's fan coming on, a sure sign its twin-core i5 processor is being asked to do too much.  To find the tabs causing the most demand (because I always have lots of tabs open), I use Chrome's Task Manager, found in "More Tools".  In the particular case below, the Weather Channel and WDTN News were clearly the big users, so I closed them out to relieve the CPU stress and return the other tabs to their normally snappy behavior.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I play only only game on my smartphone, the Klondike Solitaire version from Softick.  I like its smooth animation as you drag cards and piles around and the clean look, better than others I've tried.  There are a ton of options, including a left-handed mode which flips the game 180 degrees.  I tried that once and found it very discomforting, as my brain is "programmed" the other way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Voice Notes With Google Keep

Sorry, Android only.

The Google Assistant can be used to add notes to Google Keep.  Just say "Take a note" and the Assistant will ask, "Sure, what's the note?"  Whatever you say will be converted to text and added to Keep.  On my Google Pixel 2, all I have to do is unlock the phone with my fingerprint and squeeze the sides on the bottom half to bring up the assistance, enabling single-hand operation.  This is my favorite new technology buddy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Taste Of Wine

This was a great venue for last weekend's bridal shower and the owner, Urmila, did an awesome job of setting up the store and helping in every possible way.  Located in downtown Miamisburg, Ohio, it's also a great place to stop in for a glass of wine.  I'm looking forward to the outside patio as soon as we can drive winter back north where it belongs.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Oh baby!  Yes, this is as good (and big) as the picture shows.  Besides the very visible inclusion of bacon, this recipe uses milk-soaked bread instead of bread crumbs.  Add a unique tomato sauce (brown sugar is one of my favorite food groups) and this will happily feed a large group.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Medicare Coverage

This graphic provided the simple overview of Medicare I needed for retirement planning.  You start by selecting one of two paths.  For Original Medicare, the feds pick up the cost of the Hospital Insurance and you pay for Medical Insurance (e.g. doctor's visits).  Then you decide if you want Prescription Drug Coverage and a Medigap policy, which pays all the copays.  Medicare Advantage has a lower monthly cost, but runs like an HMO with a selected doctor network, copays and deductibles, but comes at a lower monthly cost.  All the details are in this PDF document from the Medicare website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Collage Makers

I normally build photo collages directly in Google Photos, but its lack of options to place photos where I want them led me to look for other online tools.  FotoJet does a nice job, it's simple to use and its basic free (I love free) collages are fine for most purposes, but you can get fancy.  Also check out Canva, Fotor and BeFunky and see which you like the best.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Screen To GIF

So yesterday I introduced you to Solari displays and the Flapper demo.  To capture the display on my web browser screen I used the free (I love free) ScreenToGif utility, which allows you to record a selected area of your screen, edit it, then save it as a GIF or video.  So as not to bore you with a repeat of yesterday's animation, I took a YouTube video from my personal channel of surfers in Munich, Germany trying to navigate man-made waves.  Dudes were crazy.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Solari Displays

I've always been fascinated with train station displays that clicky-clack and flap through characters as they update.  Thanks to Justin Sheckler, who wrote a jQuery plugin and some CSS to emulate that physical display (known as a Solari display), you can create a display like the one below, or you can get brave and use his code to build one to your liking.  He provides it free (I love free) under the MIT license.

Tomorrow I'll show you how I built the animated GIF below.  If you don't see the animation, try clicking on it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

7 Layer Salad

Get up early, get out your favorite knife and start cutting, chopping and cubing to prepare this delicious bad boy to satisfy company.  If there's a vegetarian in the house, keep the bacon to one side.  The dressing turns this from your average dinner salad into a "can-I-have-another-scoop?" pleaser.

  • For the salad
    • 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
    • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 english cucumber, cubed (small)
    • 4 stalks celery, chopped
    • 16 ounce bag frozen peas
  • For the dressing
    • 1 ½ cups Hellman's mayonnaise
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • 3 tbsp vinegar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
  • For the topping
    • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
    • 12 ounces applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • 1 bunch of green onions, finely minced
  • Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
  • In a 9”x13” dish layer the salad ingredients. Start with a layer of romaine lettuce, then a layer of tomatoes, a layer of cucumbers, a layer of celery and a layer of peas.  
  • Pour the dressing over the top of the peas and spread to cover, bringing the dressing all the way out to the edges of the dish.
  • Sprinkle the cheese, bacon and green onions on top.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cigar Humidifier

For years I've messed around with those expensive cigar humidifiers that attempt to reach the proper 68-74% humidity range, and the picture at the bottom right shows the I didn't achieve.  Those I threw that out and bought a couple of plain kitchen sponges, put a dry one on bottom and placed a wet one on top.  The picture at the bottom left notes my success, now in clearly the good range.  On top of that, it's now so much easier to maintain than before.  Double score!