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14 Aug 08:00

Fabric Wallet with Zippered Coin Pouch

by Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home

Someone told me the other day he believed money would soon become completely digital and we'd be trading electronic credits online. It's happening already to a limited extent with Bitcoins, but it still seems so sci-fi to me. I think I'll hold on to a wallet for now, like today's pretty version with multiple compartments for cash, coins and cards. I like having physical money with me; a couple paper dollars and some coins just makes me feel happy. I think it goes back to being a kid, when every hoarded dime and nickel put you that much closer to a giant gum ball from the shiny red dispenser. I still get a little thrill when I find a quarter in my coat pocket, although I worry what a gum ball would do now to my dental work.

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10 Mar 17:55

Naan Bread with Curry Butter, Yogurt Dip and Spicy Hummus

by Meseidy Rivera

I have a love hate relationship with daylight saving time.  I love the extra hour of sunlight, but I hate loosing an hour of sleep and the week it seems to take for my body to get back in time. Even though I really wanted to sleep in I got my tail out of bed... 

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The post Naan Bread with Curry Butter, Yogurt Dip and Spicy Hummus appeared first on The Noshery.

21 Aug 20:00

Read All Of The Books: The Fall 2013 Queer Books Preview

by Carolyn
The 50 most essential queer books coming this fall.
26 Jun 14:00

Why Being a POC Author Sucks Sometimes

by Guest Contributor

By Guest Contributor Ellen Oh, cross-posted from Hello Ello

When I do my diversity presentation for high schools, I open with this chart:

It’s an immediate attention grabber. Why? Because this highlights the gap in diversity of caucasian and POC authors. This is an informal survey taken by author Roxanne Gay that breaks out authors reviewed by the NYT in 2011 by race. Nearly 90% are caucasian. This by no means shows a complete breakdown of publishing. But I would venture to say that a more accurate number of published books might even further compound the gap between caucasian authors and POC authors.

Ms. Gay states in her article that “These days, it is difficult for any writer to get a book published. We’re all clawing. However, if you are a writer of color, not only do you face a steeper climb getting your book published, you face an even more arduous journey if you want that book to receive critical attention. It shouldn’t be this way. Writers deserve that same fighting chance regardless of who they are but here we are, talking about the same old thing—these institutional biases that even by a count of 2011 data, remain deeply ingrained.”

I am a person of color, a minority, and I am a published author. Did it feel like it was harder for me than a caucasian author to get published? I can’t answer that. I have no idea what their path to publication felt like. But I can talk about my own path and the roadblocks that I came across. I can talk about being told over and over again by other writers and publishing professionals that no one would buy a book about ancient Korea. I can talk about having my writing ridiculed by saying it reads like a bad translation of a Chinese book, even though English is my native language, and I’m not Chinese. I have numerous tales of the type of dissuading I endured, but I didn’t give up because I believed that there needed to be more books like mine out there. And I was extremely lucky to get published by a wonderful publisher.

I wrote a children’s book. Historically, children’s books have always been a wonderful place to find multicultural books… at least compared to other areas of publishing. With librarians and teachers looking for diversity, there have been many more multicultural titles in children’s publishing. Although I would not say it is the same for YA. In this aspect, I am speaking most specifically about chapter, picture and middle grade books. Or so I believed. But now I have a new graphic to share in my diversity presentations.

This is a new graphic by Lee & Low books that put an end to my rosy colored view of diversity and publishing in children’s. The percentage of books by and about people of color has hovered around 10% for nearly 20 years. When I first saw this graphic, I was absolutely stunned. I had no idea how little had changed. And when I read the accompanying articlehere, I found myself nodding my head in dismay.

Betsy Bird, School Library Journal blogger at A Fuse #8 said “The public outcry for more multicultural books has so far been more of a public whimper.” And I have to ask, why? Is the problem supply or is the problem demand?”

From the viewpoint of a minority woman, I believe the demand is there. But maybe the default of “white culture” is so ingrained that even minorities don’t know to demand for more. We read what is there. What’s available to us. They say girls read boy books but boys don’t read girl books. Is the parallel POC read white books but whites don’t read POC books? I don’t think so. I think that the truth is, they are not exposed to them.

Publishers seem to believe that multicultural books just don’t sell as well. But do they get the same marketing push as non-POC books? Are all things equal when they are sent out into the world? I would hazard a guess that they are not. Because if you do not believe that multi-cultural books will sell well, then you will not put the marketing money behind them and thereby you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now I have been lucky, my books have had terrific marketing support from my publisher. So the question then goes to the other side of the coin. Where are the booksellers, the librarians, the teachers on pushing the multicultural books? It’s not just enough to ask publishers to publish the books, there must be help from the other side. There has to be a support system for these books once they are published, to help get them into the children’s hands. And that is not all up to the publisher.

I once asked a YA librarian if she thought there were enough diverse titles and she said that they were there, but you just have to know how to look for them. Isn’t that part of the problem? That they are invisible and no one knows about them? How are they shelved in bookstores and libraries? How easy are they to find? Of the 112 titles chosen by YALSA for the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list, less than 10% were by POC authors. The 2013 list is looking like it may fare even worse. So if teen librarians are looking to these lists that are so woefully underrepresented, does this not aggravate the underlying problem?

One thing that really stood out for me is this series of questions by Ms. Bird, “Finally, we need to officially address how we feel about white authors and illustrators writing books about people of other races. Is it never okay? Sometimes okay? Always okay?”

To this – I want to offer up a response from writer Claire Light because I couldn’t say it better:

What I want to add to the debate is a small piece of truth that gets glossed over. In response to the complaint of white writers about writing about people of color: “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” I want to say: Absolutely.

It’s absolutely true. You’re damned either way. Race and racism exist in this society, and if you ignore them, you’re expressing a racial privilege…

If you do do it and get it “wrong”, you’ll get reamed, and rightfully so. It’s presumptuous of you to think that you have the right to represent a culture you don’t belong to if you can’t be bothered to properly examine and accurately portray that culture.

Further, if you do it and get it “right”, or rather, don’t get it wrong, you’ll still get reamed by members of that culture you’ve represented who rightfully resent a white writer’s success representing their culture. After all, every American ethnic minority has its writers: good and bad. The good writers are mostly ignored. Inevitably, some white writer will come along and do a bang-up job portraying that culture and will get–in one book, in one section of a book–more attention than the poc writer got over the course of three or five or ten books.

You’re a white writer trying to do the right thing, but no matter what you do, it’s wrong. And that’s so unfair to you, isn’t it?
Welcome to a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a person of color.

I want to tell you an honest truth people, because of all the racism I have endured in my life (and even seeing the racism my own children have had to face) I cannot help but resent when caucasians write about Asian culture. Yes, I resent them. I absolutely do. Yet, at the same time, I appreciate them for at least trying to do it, when they do it right.

It is a complicated situation. There is no easy answer. We need diversity in literature. We need it desperately. Diversity is not only for the under-represented—the truth is, diversity is important for everyone. All people need to be exposed to other races and other cultures in positive ways. All people need to learn tolerance and acceptance of differences. When we promote only a homogeneous view of society in our literature and our media, and deem books or movies about minorities as unsuccessful, it harms everyone. And so it is important that all authors include diversity in their books.

But there is that part of me that wonders why is it that when I see a list about what Asian fantasy books are out there, the books are predominantly by caucasian authors. Are POC writers not writing them or are they being passed over for books written by non-POC authors instead? And why is it that books by or about POC don’t tend to sell as well as other “mainstream” books. What is the difference? Is it the difference in how they are marketed? Is it their cover art? Where they are placed in the bookstore or library? How they are pushed or not pushed by the booksellers, librarians, and teachers?

The reality is, there are just not a lot of POC authors out there. We are not representing the 37% of our population when we only amount to 10% of publishing. When you look at diversity panels or even the YA tag in racebending.com, the authors tend to be predominantly white because they reflect publishing.

This is why I can’t help but be resentful. I freely admit it. It sucks being a POC author sometimes. You feel invisible. You feel passed over. And true or not, it feels harder for us to get to tell our own stories. And that shouldn’t be the way things are.

I want to see more of me in publishing. I want to see more POC authors overcoming the publishing barrier and writing about their cultures. I want to see diversity panels filled with… diversity! We need to be performing on stage with our counterparts, not just watching in the audience.

We need to represent.

We need to belong.

07 Jun 15:00

Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout

by Melanie Pinola

Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout

If you haven't heard yet, Gmail is rolling out a new tabbed interface for the inbox on both desktop and mobile. At first glance, this looks great for email organization. On further inspection, these new tabs are confusing as hell. Here's how to make sense of the new tabs and customize them for your own filters.

How the New Tabbed Interface Works

Google describes the new tabs as a way to "put you back in control so that you can see what's new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read and when."

You get five optional tabs, described by Google below. Google automatically sorts your inbox into these tabs using its special algorithms (essentially matching many of Gmail's existing Smart Labels, which automatically filter incoming messages):

  • Primary: person-to-person conversations and messages that don't appear in other tabs
  • Social: messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, and other social websites
  • Promotions: deals, offers, and other marketing emails
  • Updates: personal, auto-generated updates including confirmations, bills, receipts, bills, and statements
  • Forums: messages from online groups, discussion boards, and mailing lists

You can also choose to force starred emails from all tabs to display in the Primary tab (in addition to the other tab).

How to Enable and Use the Tabs

To enable the new tabbed view, go to the Gear icon and select "Configure inbox." Once you do that, you'll be prompted to choose which tabs to enable and Gmail will start doing its magic, auto-sorting your inbox.

You can drag-and-drop emails from one tab to the next; when you do that, Gmail will ask if you want to create a filter for that sender to send messages in the future to that tab. Handy! It doesn't, however, move existing emails into that tab.

You can also create your own filters to send emails into specific tabs, as we'll see below, but that's tricky if you don't understand how the new tabs differ from Gmail's existing labels and which messages get sorted into tabs.

Why the Tabs Are So Confusing

The tabs do give you a convenient way to automatically sort your inbox according to Gmail's preset categories and get notifications at a glance for when new emails come in. However, the tabbed view introduces a new, not-so-clear element in Gmail called "categories."

Everything You Need to Know About Gmail's New, Super-Confusing Layout

The tabs are based on these new categories. When you create a filter, in addition to being able to label a message, you can now categorize it as: Personal, Social, Updates, Promotions, or Forums from a drop-down box. These, as you see, match the tabs.

The problem is, you already have labels that also match these categories. Gmail, for example, adds Social Updates, Promotions, and Forums as SmartLabels in the left menu. The "Notifications" SmartLabel corresponds to the Updates tab (I wonder why they didn't just call the tab Notifications), but SmartLabels are not the same as Categories. Gmail's pre-designed SmartLabel filters makes it seem like that, but they're really two different things.

I also noticed one problem where certain messages would show up under a SmartLabel, but not a category. For example: Some auto-labeled "Notifications" didn't show up under my "Updates" tab.

It turns out the tabs only include emails from your inbox, not archived emails. In other words, the tabs are really just another view of your inbox. You can have more emails in the corresponding label than in the tabs if some of those emails are archived.

So, a few things we've discovered from testing:

  • If you have filters for daily deals emails and similar emails that would get categorized by Gmail as "Promotions" but have it set to skip the inbox (archive them), you won't see them in the Promotions tab unless you change those filters. The same goes for the other tabs.
  • If you want to filter messages into a specific tab, you'll have to use the new "Categorize" option, not the labels.
  • Gmail has added a new "Categories" label in the left menu with sub-labels for the categories, which match the tabs. In other words, all the messages under specific tabs are also in the corresponding Categories sub-label. Tip: If you want to briefly switch away from tabbed view and see all the emails at once across all the tabs, click on the Categories label.
  • Now you'll have labels and categories with the same names. If you want to avoid confusion, you can just delete the old SmartLabels, since you can still access them through the categories in the sidebar. Alternatively, you could just hide them from the sidebar so they don't clutter it up.
  • If you want to see the unread count for messages in the tabs, you have to click the Categories label name to expand the sub-labels. The tabs themselves only show when you have new messages, not the number of unread messages.
  • Continuing on that theme, the unread count in the inbox label and browser tab only show the Primary tab number of unread messages, not all of your unread messages. That is by design.
  • As mentioned above, when drag-and-dropping across tabs, you can create a new filter for future messages. However, this doesn't work if you select multiple email messages and drag them, unfortunately.
  • Confused yet? Gmail's SmartLabels aren't perfect, and neither are the tabs. Gmail has been consistently labeling some personal emails as Promotions and putting some promotional emails in the Primary tab for me. It also seems like there's a fine line between Social and Forums messages.

All of this said, it may be possible to harness the organizational power of the new tabbed interface to suit your needs better.

How to Customize the Tabs with Your Own Filters

As mentioned above, you can now create your own filters to categorize messages, thus putting them in one of these tabs. So if you have no use for the "Forums" tab, you can instead use it to collect messages from specific senders or keywords. Unfortunately, there's no way to change the tab name.

The key is to make sure the filter doesn't overlap an existing filter that might counteract what you're trying to do. For example, you can't have "Skip the inbox" on a matching filter, otherwise it won't appear in the tabs at all (since the tabs are organization for the inbox).

To customize the tabs:

  1. Create a new filter for the messages you want moved to one of the tabs. (For example, since I have no use for the Social tab on my work email, I'm using it instead to store emails I send to myself from my personal email address. In the search box, I put in "from:[my email address]" and click the down arrow in the search box to find the "Create filter with this search" link.)
  2. In the filter options in the next screen, choose the category that matches the tab for the "Categorize as" option. (E.g., I chose "Categorize as: Social.")
  3. You'll also have to check "Exclude from SmartLabels" just in case Gmail tries to categorize your email differently (as it did for one of my test emails to myself). Then hit "Create filter."
  4. If you also want to prevent Gmail auto-categorizing other messages in that tab, you could also go into your Settings > Filters and scroll to the bottom for the SmartLabel Filters and disable or edit the corresponding filter. However, do this with caution, as it seems there's no easy way to restore the built-in filter. It might be better to configure Gmail's SmartLabels so they skip the inbox and thus skip your tabs. About.com's Email site has the list of each SmartLabel (e.g., "label:^smartlabel_promo" for Promotions). When creating your filter, search for that "label:^" term to filter it out as you'd like.

At the very least, the new "Categorize as:" filter can help you correct any Gmail errors when it comes to SmartLabels. For example, by creating a filter to categorize fellow Lifehacker editors' emails as "Personal," they now appear in my Primary tab, instead of, oddly, the Promotions or Forums one. They're still strangely "Smart"Labeled as Promotions, but at least they're in the right tab.

Thinking about Gmail's new tabs, SmartLabels, regular labels, and filters can feel like you're trying to solve an annoying circular reference error in Excel. However, the new tabbed view might come in handy if you know how to harness it.

And, if it's not for you, it's easy enough to get back the old, non-tabbed view if you prefer that Priority Inbox or other option.

26 Apr 21:00

What to Look For When Buying a Fixer-Upper House?

by Joshua Rivera

Buying a new home is one of the most rewarding things you can do. And then comes the work — more than you think if you've bought a "fixer-upper." Make sure you ask the right questions to make sure the work is worth it. The DIY experts at Stack Exchange are here to help.

Illustration by Stack Exchange.

My fiance and I are considering buying a fixer-upper house rather than an apartment when we get married.

Obviously things like location, neighbors etc. are important, but what should we be looking for in terms of fixing it up ourselves? Neither of us have much DIY experience.

1) What are the huge hidden expenses? Broken water heater? Bad foundation?

2) What things can we simply not do ourselves?

3) What sort of things can we do with little experience and little cash?

4) What are the "Gotchas" the realtor might not mention?

- asked by BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft

This question has been edited. See the original question.

Find a Good Inspector by Chris Cudmore

Most of your questions are the same question, just asked in a different form.

Before you even start looking — Before you even find a realtor — Do your research on a good home inspector in your area. If you are looking at an old house, make SURE to tell the home inspection service that you want someone who knows about houses xxxx years old. Most inspectors of newer (1-40 years) houses think everything in an old house needs replacement and will give a bad review of everything. Then get references and talk to people he's worked for. If he's not willing to give you references, then move on. When you find an inspector, go with them to the house & follow them around. You will learn a lot more than what will be written on the report, whether you buy the house or not.

Generally, you've got to look at the following areas:

  1. Structure - Will it stand up
  2. Membrane - Roof, cladding - Will it keep water out and heat in.
  3. Foundation - is the basement dry? does it have cracks.
  4. Electrical - Enough power, and properly wired.
  5. Plumbing - Leaks and pressure.
  6. Heating - Primarily this is the age and type of the furnace.
  7. Doors and Windows - These cost more than you think, so get an estimate before buying.

Essentially, you don't want to mess with 1 and 3 at all, and the remainder, you need a good estimate of the costs.

The next important detail is Architecture. Are the rooms of appropriate size or is the floor plan easily convertible to something you can live with and enjoy.

I haven't included cosmetics at all. Because this is where you are going to do it yourself.

Money you can't avoid spending:

  1. Roofing - This needs to be replaced every 20 - 30 years. It can range from a re-shingling to a full wood and insulation replacement.
  2. Furnace - Again, 20-30 year replacement.
  3. Electrical - IF you're hunting for a bargain, you'll probably need electrical work. Most of it is easy and you can DIY if you know what you're doing. (lights and sockets, pulling wires if the drywall is off) Talk to the guy at Lowes or Home Depot for a good book for your area. Get an electrician in for stuff around the box.

An Inspector's Perspective by shirlock homes

Danny, I respect your enthusiasm. I am a certified home inspector and general contractor in Maine. There's some great advice in the answers here, and I won't repeat the obvious.

I will warn you, however, learn realtor language. "Fixer-upper" means a train wreck about to happen! Get a real good inspector that has building experience. DO NOT take a recommendation from your realtor for an inspector. Find a qualified builder/inspector. I have always felt inspectors that often work for realtors do not have the buyer's best interest in mind as problems found nix sales and rrealtors don't like that. I personally only work for buyers, never for realtors.

With all that said, renovations can add up fast. Roof $5,000-7,000, electrical or plumbing $85/hour, bathroom $6,000, kitchen $15,000-20,000, electrical service upgrade $2,500, windows $300 each, structural repairs, mold, insects, water damage, septic/sewer...

Unless you learn what to look for and are able to calculate the costs of repair or renovation before you buy, you are headed for stormy waters. The joy of home ownership will quickly turn into an unbearable nightmare.

You mentioned you didn't want to spend $30,000 on a house that you already spent that much on. Where in the world are you going to find a livable house for $30,000? If there is really such a thing, I will buy 10 of them tomorrow and rehab them myself and make a mint, even in this housing market.

I apologize for sounding a bit negative here, but rather be bluntly honest with you considering you admitted you have minimal skills and resources.

Get Serious by Jay Bazuzi

This isn't really a "fixer-upper" question, as every house needs work. Every home buyer should get a good inspection. Every home buyer should be prepared to deal with the responsibilities and burdens of repairs and ongoing maintenance.

However, if you want to do more than minor, occasional work:

1. Decide that you want to live in a house under construction.

You will have areas of the house that don't function, tools everywhere, and lots of dust. Are you OK with that? For a long time? Consider living elsewhere while you do the work. Parent's basement, small apartment, RV in the driveway. Or live in one part of the house while working on another part.

2. Decide what work you want to do.

Instead of asking what issues to avoid, decide which issues to accept. Anything else that a good inspector finds is either something to hire out, or a reason to reject the sale. Personally, I enjoy doing electrical work (like adding subpanels!), so I wouldn't mind if there are electrical issues.

3. Be realistic about how long it will take.

If you're working full time, then your house project will only be in the marginal hours. You'll spend a lot of time learning, and a lot of time fixing your mistakes. As others have pointed out, you may be better off financially working for a paycheck and paying a pro to do the house work. The horror story I think of is the time my landlord replaced the roof, as described here: What projects should never be DIY?. Are you OK with that happening?

4. Seek professional help!

Find a friendly builder who will guide you through the process. Maybe they'll spend a day each week on site with you, helping with tasks, giving advice. Also, if you have the humility to recognize when you're getting in over your head, you'll be better off than if you wait until things are really screwed up.

5. Be prepared for marital strain.

People are emotionally attached to their homes. As newlyweds, you'll just be starting to figure out a new relationship (even if you've lived together for many years). The additional strain of living in a construction zone may be too much.

If a child joins your family, you'll have almost no time to work on the house, and safety will be a concern. And parenthood triggers more deep emotional stuff around shelter, etc.

An alternative is to rent a small apartment (saving money & workload) and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. You'll learn skills while contributing to your community. You'll also get to find out whether this kind of work really suits you.

My home is cheap because we decided to lower our standards - much, much lower. Now I get to putter around with home improvement projects at my own pace, watching our comfort gradually improve. Plus, I love learning new stuff.

Good luck, hope it works out for you.

Find more answers or leave your own at the original post. See more questions like this at Home Improvement, the DIY site at Stack Exchange. And of course, feel free to ask a question yourself.

07 Apr 23:00

Send Links to Friends In Three Taps with Launch Center Pro

by Shep McAllister
Click here to read Send Links to Friends In Three Taps with Launch Center Pro iPhone: We've discussed using Launch Center Pro to navigate through apps quickly on your iPhone, but that's just scratching the surface of what the app can do. A little javascript can pull up the app to send links to friends instantly. More »