Removing hot glue with rubbing alcohol

Today I learned that you can remove hot glue with rubbing alcohol. Just drop or dab some around the glue, and then start pulling or prying it off. The alcohol seems to get between the glue and the substrate, it doesn’t dissolve the glue and make a mess of it.

Of course this makes hot glue that much more interesting for temporary fixtures or jigs…

Adding GoodReads and the local library to Firefox Context Search

The Firefox Add-on “ContextSearch” lets you highlight text in a web page and then use search tools of your choice to search on the term. I have it set up with Google, Wikipedia (choose English or German), Google Maps and some other tools that came with it.
Goodreads is a website that lets users review books. It and wikipedia are usually my first stops when looking up a book.

Today it occurred to me that it would be nice to also use it to look up books on Goodreads.

I set up a new search engine option using the URL
     https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=
I got that URL by searching for a book on the site, then taking the URL
     https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=small+angry+planet&search_type=books&search%5Bfield%5D=on
and stripping off everything after the “search?”.

The fact that this works makes me think it might work for other search tools as well.

URL for Winnipeg Public Library paper books:
https://winca.ent.sirsidynix.net/client/en_US/default/search/results?q=

URL for Winnipeg Public Library ebooks:
https://winnipeg.overdrive.com/search?query=

 

Tape Gun Masking Tape Dispenser

wall mounted tape gun with masking tape

I use masking tape a lot to label stuff, tack stuff in place mark a spot when measuring. And of course for masking.

Finding the start of the roll is a nuisance.
So, I put some in a tape gun and mounted it upside down so it’s a dispenser when stored.
I was not sure at first how well this would work since the tape is mounted sticky side up. I have had this up for more than 6 months now, and sometimes the tape isn’t used in weeks. I am pleasantry surprised how well it still works after that.

Shin pads are moldable

I have been searching for new shin pads for soccer for a while. Most that are on the shelves here are thick and and awkward. I finally got some anyway (Nike Mercurial Lite), but hated them because they were way too wide in the bottom.
Then someone mentioned that hers were intended to be heat molded. I figured the chances of mine being a thermoplastic were pretty good. So, I put them into a pot of boiling water for about a minute and pushed them into shape over a pair of socks. They molded quite easily. Wrapped a velcro strap around them while they cooled down, and they now seem to hold their shape nicely.
The finish that used to be shiny on the outside is now a bit wrinkly; this may actually be a good thing, maybe it will make them less slippery.
Will have to see if they last and keep their shape.

Using wikidata to link to an article about a disease on wikipedia by ICD-10 code coded as property on wikidata

Wikidata is a sister project to Wikipedia that encodes much of the information on Wikipedia into discrete data values that can be queried.

I needed to document some ICD10 diagnoses and wanted to add links to Wikipedia as part of that. I did not know the actual names of the articles on Wikipedia, though. Manually, I could have found them using a search, but that would be a lot of work for >1700 diagnoses.

Turns out that Resolver will do this.  The following link will resolve the ICD10 code (P4229) with value K37 (corresponding to appendicitis) to send me to the Wikipedia article for appendicitis:
https://tools.wmflabs.org/wikidata-todo/resolver.php?prop=P4229&value=K37&project=enwiki

You could use similar code to link to a city by postal code or an animal by its taxonomic name, or using any of the thousands of properties available on wikidata.

See here for an example on how to use this with semantic mediawiki.

Zapier

An organization I am involved with does its internal communication and broadcasts exclusively through Slack. In my mind, Slack is “evil” because it lets communication in but doesn’t seem to provide tools to let communication out. For example, they don’t provide RSS feeds. I do most of my daily surfing through RSS feeds.

Today I figured I should look into this further and posted the question on the Slack Reddit.  Someone suggested I could do this through Zapier. I had never heard about them: they provide integration between different web apps. Sure enough, 15 minutes of tinkering later I now have an RSS feed from that Slack channel.

Update: It turned out very quickly that Zapier will only let you do so many updates for free. It doesn’t even reset over time. So, unless you are willing to pay for this, don’t bother with them.

Things should not be so complicated, but when they are, it is good to have a tool like that!

More remote switching on the backpack

I have had a remote switch for the light on my backpack for a long time (holding up well!). I thought it would be nice to add a remote switch to the garage door opener.

So, I opened the heat shrink up and solderedIMG_20160920_153503 another switch on the remaining two leads in the USB cable. Some more surgery on the other end to attach two connectors. Then open up the garage remote and add wires to each side of the IMG_20160920_152807momentary push button that opens the door. Taped a block over the original button so it doesn’t get pushed by other things pressing into it.

Connect, and open the garage door. Should have done this ages ago.

Two computers, one set of speakers

We have two windows computers in our kitchen. For a while now they have been set up so that you have to plug the one you sound in listen tabwant working right now into the external speakers. Today I finally looked into a better way. Turns out there is a free one, or free as long as you already have a male-to-male audio cable.
Plug one PC’s audio out into the second PC’s audio in. On the second PC (Windows 7), go into control panel, sound, recording, pick the plug you used, and click properties. Click the “listen” tab and check “listen to this device”. I had to set the levels way down to 5/100 to not get any distortion and just get a full volume output from the first PC.
No more plugging around!

Blackberry m4a audio files in Audacity software

I use use my Blackberry to record audio in meetings and such. It records as m4a.  I use Audacity to edit audio files.

Audacity doesn’t do M4A natively, and the error it gives just says that it can’t read the file.

Turns out they almost have it built in. I didn’t research the exact IP reason that forces them to do it, but the instructions how to finish setting up Audacity to be able to read your Blackberry sound recordings is here:
http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/faq_installation_and_plug_ins.html#ffdown