Category Archives: DO-IT-YOURSELF

Using spreadsheets for home economics.

I love spreadsheets.  With a few formulas you can calculate your budget, right down to the earth’s gravitational field.

They can also help you calculate the TOC of an operation, in realtime, and make more accurate analysis when doing logistics.

This is especially useful when you’re moving to another city. Especially if you’re someone who travels light, is a practitioner of simple living and just want to know just how much you have and how that will affect your personal economy.

Well for me, since I am currently moving to another city, I wanted to know how much moving in my new  place would cost.

So I did a new workbook and divided it into three sections. The first is belongings, the second is groceries and installation fees and the last is “Grand total”.

In the “belongings” sheet I put the item name, the quantity and the Cost and if I had already acquired it or not. In “groceries” I had put the same.

The two, I linked their totals to the Grand total sheet, that way each time I changed a value on either of the pages, I would be able to quickly know how much money it had cost .

While simplistic, this can help one to be organized and really help you erase the stress of moving, or at the very least see how much this is costing you and what adjustments you will need to make financially.

The very same can be applied to all kinds of home economic projects, I will include these links to other useful excel workbook templates;

http://christianpf.com/10-free-household-budget-spreadsheets/

http://exceltemplates.net/

http://www.spreadsheetzone.com/

And for the libre-office/Open-office calc fans

http://templates.libreoffice.org/template-center

http://www.kaaredyret.dk/openoffice_links.html

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WRIST WATCHES AS TOOLS OF LIFE MANAGEMENT

I love my wristwatch. It’s more than a timepiece for me, it’s a tool of time management and therefore life-management. If you can manage your time, then you can manage your life.

How so? Let’s look at the current wristwatch I have. It’s a  Timex T5K413 Ironman 30 lap. It comes with some really cool features that I find are underused: The Chronometer and the Timer.

What I like about these two features? I can measure how long something is happening (say like how long the laundry room washer and dryer take) and later on set my timer later so that while I am multi-tasking I can keep track of of it.

Now some people do this with their phones, or even there computers, but the thing it about watches is that they are not overwhelming unlike PC’s and cellphones. And it can be there with you at all times.

Now some watches have become far more sophisticated over the years,some including GPS and health monitors. In all these new timepieces I will list you 5 of my favorites and why.

1)      Casio Classic Calculator Watch

You can’t go wrong with a watch that enables you to make quick basic arithmetic. While lacking in the many features of the more modern watches, if you remember anything useful from your science and math class, this makes a good companion.

2) http://www.usbwatches.com/

This watch, with an analog faceplate, has usb memory inside. This is useful for those with medical conditions who want to have a copy of their [[http://www.medictag.com/|medical record]] on hand and you can even stuff it with some portable apps. You never know when you need some usb space or that tool you use.

3) I’m Watch.

It’s an android os watch. I am not making this up!! All the goodness (and gripes) you’d expect from a wearable android device. And it’s also a phone, an mp3 player. It’s basically an android phone that’s wrist-mounted. Calling Dick Tracy, Calling Dick Tracy!!

With a host of devices and sensors in it, all it needs is the timex’s Healthwatch system and a decent camera and you’d have the perfect augmented reality platform.

4) MTM BLACK HAWK™

You can’t go wrong with military watches. They are big, ugly, and resiliant time-pieces. And they have added features, that can be useful for the common civilian who doesn’t want a watch that will crap out on them.

The blackhawk has several features that I like. It’s got internal and external lights (pretty useful if you need to find something in the dark), Lithium Ion battery (guaranteed for 10 years) and a neat recharging system that I like. A “electro-magnetic Induction” system. Nice.

5) Portable astronomical ring

Ok, so it’s not exactly a wristwatch, but you got to love the idea that it will never run out of battery power, and that it will last a lifetime. Also, imagine the fun learning how it works and that sense of controling your time.

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Cat’s Meow – My Favorite Open-Source Replacements.

The Digital Cat's Meow

In my line of work, I get often asked if I can give them a copy of “XYZ” software, for home use. It’s the problem that many IT pro’s face, it’s the idea that you can be milked for free software, and who can blame people, software is ridiculously expensive.

Of course, there is the issue of licensing and other workplace “no-no’s” that come into play, but I have found a wonderful way to remedy the matter.

And for this I must thank the open-source movement for providing IT pro’s a myriad of tools that can be giving away for free without fear of the licensing hordes coming knocking on your door with pitchforks and torches.

But of course, I faced another problem. That one of compatibility. Sure a OSS (Open Sourced Software) that does the same function as a popular software is nice, but you have to be able to share your work with others? It has to be compatible with what they got!!

And that is one gripe that many users are confronted with. They would switch to a OSS, heck they would switch to a OS operating system (Linux) but the dark specter of compatibility rears it’s thrice cursed head and what seems to be a wonderful idea, turns into yet another headache for the helpful IT pro.

But I found a way around it. Well, not exactly. I found a method that works in coping with that unfortunate fact.

What I do, is find the OSS that comes the closest in look and feel and compatibility with a “commercial” software, and I make sure in can save in file formats that are universal. PDF’s are a good example. I haven’t seen an OS that adobe reader didn’t like.

Still, over the years I have found a few favorites, that fit the bill and that brought a twinkle to my client’s eyes, and my own.

 

Open Office/Libre Office

This M$ office clone is the OSS personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

I use it both at work and at home. I actually recommend it to everyone who wants it at home. It’s perfect, it never failed me when I needed something done and I didn’t feel like using M$.

My only gripe with it, is that they haven’t found a way (yet) to be compatible with M$ ACCESS. It would be nice though. But as far as the three basics are concerned (Text, Spreadsheets and presentations), it does a job an a half.

 

The GIMP

GIMP stands for  GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s roughly a “Photoshop clone”.  Which has some good strengths, it’s got the same tools, the same capabilities and then some.  With some of the extensions I was able to batch-process a whole wackload of cliparts that were in WMF format (photoshop didn’t recongnize them somehow) into PNG with no loss.

The interface takes some getting used to, and those missing Photoshop can use the “Gimpshop” modification, which enables you to have gimp ‘look and feel’ like Photoshop.

 

Dia

A M$ Visio clone. As you will see on the site, it claims that is roughly like Visio. I will say this. It reminds me a whole lot like Visio 2003, only a whole heap better.  It’s a handy tool to have around if you want to remodel a kitchen or want to build a dungeon for a good ol’ fashion game of dungeons and dragons.

 

Thunderbird

I am not a big fan of M$ outlook. I find the 2010 version is confusing, and suffers from a case of user-friendliness deficiency.

So I recommend highly Thunderbird. It’s like outlook 2003 in “general” appearances, hence a little less confusing and, therefore,  less prone to generate headaches while using it. With extensions to enhance it and customize the user experience, it makes a great replacement for outlook.

 

Finally, if you need a specific software, but don’t know how to “replace” it, I can recommend osalt.com

It’s a nice way to learn about what’s out there and save a few bucks.

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Old ideas with new tools

 

As an IT professional, I am often confronted with the question of productivity not only at work but also at home. With the trend of telecommuting coming into play, and the advancements in technology, it’s all in seeing the computer as a set of tools and not as “just a magic box that gives us the internet”.

Let’s use an analogy;

If you think of your computer as your “workshop/workbench” the tools you will have at your disposal are near identical to what you’d find in scrapbooking or even your basic arts and crafts;


SCRAPBOOKING

COMPUTER EQUIVALENT

Table

Computer

Scissors

DESKTOP PUBLISHING SOFTWARE

Glue

Photos

 CONTENT

(pictures, videos, mp3, i.e MEDIA!!)

News articles

Keepsakes

 

Now from there, we can easily see the computer as not only the tools, but also the receptacle of media. This in turn can help you in your day to day life. How? Here are some examples;

1) You can have your home computer email you some documents to your smartphone. You’re on your way home and members of your family need you to do a stop at a grocery store? Presto! Here’s the shopping list!

2) You can create some spreadsheets for home use, such as for planning meals, personal finances and sport pools

3) Use QR codes to track your home inventory (especially useful if you’re moving)

And those are only a few examples. People have computers at home, but they have no idea how they can enhance their lives with it, with a few simple tools.

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