In the newly revised second edition of Simple Fly Fishing, Patagonia's founder argues that fishing with less is better.
This Titanium Coated Utility Shear gives both power and precision when cutting sheet metal. This past summer it was a huge help for fine cuts on complex corners and angles as we wrapped building soffits and fascia in aluminum panels. It also saw use on some HVAC sheet metal projects. The blade size, handle shape and spring contribute to give me excellent cutting control and doesn’t overly distort the cut metal. This tool makes the traditional tin snips seem like a clumsy meat cleaver.
-- Chad Cooper
Wiss 7″ Titanium Coated Utility Shear ($15)
Available from Amazon
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Maybe, you are in a regular job right now but dreaming of being a freelancer? I mean think about it. What can be better than being your own boss and escaping from petty blood sucking office politics?
But it’s not all sandy beaches and amber sunsets. As a freelancer more than often you are a one-man army. The circle of responsibility falls on your shoulder. You can’t cut slack on productivity and deadlines.
So, let’s use a mishmash of techniques and apps to stay on track with the critical habit pillars of any freelancer’s life that revolve around sleep, work, health, and finances.
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Early mornings are best suited for work that requires a high level of focus. You can start your day right with a wake up light that mimics sunrise.
The Wake-Up Light Alarm starts with a dim glow and gradually increases the brightness. The alarm will also start beeping with less intensity at first and then the volume picks up. A crude (and cheaper) alternative is to get up and open your curtains to let the sunlight filter in.
Alternative: Try a Sleep Alarm App Instead
Yes, you read it right. Alarm apps like Sleep Cycle help you sleep better and wake up rejuvenated. This app helps you get a grip on your Circadian rhythms or sleep states. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to track your movements in bed.
The app begins the wake-up phase 20 minutes prior to your wake up time. Then it identifies your lightest possible sleep state and wakes you up when that happens. Just place the phone on the night desk and ensure that the mic is not covered.
The Sleep Cycle App works in two ways, it uses the accelerometer to detect your movement or the mic to analyze the sound. The app also spaces out snooze across the wake up phase.
2. Plan Your Day With a Schedule
It is very common for us to wake up and feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of us. The best way to conquer this feeling is by planning your day in advance. Sticking to a schedule might be difficult at first, however things start becoming easy once you get the hang of it.
With the help of Asana, you can not only create tasks but also assign tasks to a service provider or your teammate. This is pretty helpful as everyone you work with can be held accountable for their respective tasks. Also, you will get all the updates in your Inbox as and when the Task is completed.
Want an Asana alternative? Check out Plan. It offers integration with Slack, calendar, JIRA, Salesforce, and Github.)
3. Track Your Time
As a freelancer, you alone are responsible for meeting deadlines and planning your work. A study by VocherCloud polled 1,989 office workers in the UK and estimated that an average worker is productive for only two hours and 53 minutes in an 8 hour work day.
I personally use Toggl, a time tracking app that lets you record the time spent on individual tasks or projects. By the end of the day or the month, the app will chart the total time spent by you on a particular project.
Toggl can help you decide the billable hours and how well you have managed your time. However, you can also have a look at other popular time management tools too.
4. Stay Focussed Against Distractions
Distractions and procrastination are always ready to pounce. The human brain is wired for procrastination and other shallow tasks. You can get stuck binge watching those cute cat videos or fall into a Netflix series’ for a little too long. Add social media sites to the mix.
RescueTime is very helpful for time management. With so many distractions in the digital workplace, it is beneficial to use a tool like Rescue Time. The best part is that RescueTime is completely automated and records the time you spend across different apps. The RescueTime also offers a Focus Mode which will block all the distraction while working.
RescueTime Lite is free while the Premium flavor comes with a 14-day trial.
5. Stand Up on Your Feet
Long hours on your desk eventually takes a toll on your health. Doctors advise desk workers to get up and exercise a bit at regular intervals of time. One of the best ways to do this is to get up and do light exercises. Sedentary alarm apps will nudge you to get up and help you move at work.
Standup is one such app that will help you take regular breaks by setting reminder interval. The best part is that you can also time how long you have stood. All the data is combined and presented in the form of a 7-day history.
6. Make Invoicing Painless
The financial aspect of freelancing is perhaps the trickiest of all. As a freelancer, you need to factor in a lot of possibilities and be prompt with bookkeeping.
Invoice is a document sent to clients in order to request payment for your services. Furthermore, the invoice also contains an itemized bill of your services and terms of payment.
Also, a wealth of simple invoice templates are available for free on the web.
7. Track Your Money
It is very common for freelancers to lose a track of their money and this usually ends up in a financial death spiral.
The Cash Flow app is a great way to keep a track of your money. This app will allow you to record the money in and the money out. Cash Flow app also lets you compartmentalize the source of income and expenditure by assigning a category to each.
8. Monitor Your Expenses
It pays to mind the numbers and freelancing in any type of businesses and freelancing is no different. I use Expense Manager on my iPhone to keep a record of all the expenses that incurs. It is wise to assign yourself a budget and then make sure to stick by it.
Download: Expense Manager for iOS (Free)
Manage Your Workload & Finances
Factors like Cash Flow and Expense Management take center stage when it comes to money management. But time management and health are just as crucial. You need to figure out what works best for you and accordingly design your day. A few more timeless tips for freelancers should hold you in good stead as you work your way to success.
Read the full article: Want to Freelance Online? 8 Key Habits That Are Vital for Success
Somewhere in the recesses of my memory there lives a small photograph, from one of the many magazines that fed my young interests in science and electronics – it was probably Popular Science. In my mind I see a man standing before a large machine. The man looks awkward; he clearly didn’t want to pose for the magazine photographer. The machine behind him was an amazing computer, its insides a riot of wires all of the same color; the accompanying text told me each piece was cut to a precise length so that signals could be synchronized to arrive at their destinations at exactly the right time.
My young mind was agog that a machine could be so precisely timed that a few centimeters could make a difference to a signal propagating at the speed of light. As a result, I never forgot the name of the man in the photo – Seymour Cray, the creator of the supercomputer. The machine was his iconic Cray-1, the fastest scientific computer in the world for years, which would go on to design nuclear weapons, model crashes to make cars safer, and help predict the weather.
Very few people get to have their name attached so firmly to a product, let alone have it become a registered trademark. The name Cray became synonymous with performance computing, but Seymour Cray contributed so much more to the computing industry than just the company that bears his name that it’s worth taking a look at his life, and how his machines created the future.
Inventing an Industry
The small city of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin would be both the birthplace of Seymour Cray and the place that would hold him and give him roots. From the day he was born in 1925, Chippewa Falls was his place. His father, a civil engineer, encouraged his obvious early interest in the technical world, with radio playing a central role in his interests.
Seymour’s first taste of the world outside Chippewa Falls came courtesy of the US Army in 1943. Reluctant to enlist, he ended up in the infantry and saw action in both the European and Pacific theaters. The Army found little use for his electrical talents in Europe beyond assigning him to a signals unit and having him tote field radios around Germany, but in the Philipines he was put to work on cryptographic analysis of Japanese codes, which at least harnessed some of his considerable mathematical powers.
With the end of the war, Seymour completed his degree in electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and stayed on for a Master’s in applied mathematics. With little idea what to do next, he took a professor’s advice to apply at a place called Engineering Research Associates in St. Paul, Minnesota.
ERA was one of the first companies created specifically to build computers. Formed during the war to concentrate on code-breaking gear for the US Navy, the firm was kept afloat by the Navy even when funding for other military contractors dried up after the war. ERA continued to build crypto gear for the military, but started applying their technology to service a new market: commercial digital computers. Their first product, the ERA 1101, came from the Navy’s need for a code-breaking machine that could be quickly reprogrammed. That machine would later become the UNIVAC 1101, after ERA was purchased by the Remington Rand Corporation.
Seymour’s first job at ERA was designing the successor to the 1101. The ERA 1103 was a behemoth of vacuum tube technology, weighing in at 19 tons. For RAM it used Williams tubes, CRTs displaying a matrix of dots for each memory location; the presence or absence of electrostatic charge could be sensed with metal plates on the tube’s screen. It was unwieldy but far faster than other RAM technologies of the day, and helped give the 1103 the edge over an IBM machine in a head-to-head test by the Navy to assess machines for weather prediction.
Back to Chippewa Falls
With the sale of ERA to Remington Rand and a concentration on machines and processes specifically for business, Seymour saw the writing on the wall. His interests lie in high-performance scientific computing, and so he left ERA to start his own company. Along with William Norris, another ERA alum, he founded Control Data Corporation (CDC) in 1957. The timing was perfect because commercially viable transistors were becoming available in bulk at reasonable prices. Using his favorite design tools – a blank notebook and a #3 pencil – Seymour sat down to create CDC’s first machine.
The CDC 1604 was basically the ERA 1103 redesigned with germanium transistors. A 48-bit machine rather than a 36-bit machine like the 1103, the 1604 was tiny compared to its tube-filled cousin – less than a tonne and only the size of two large refrigerators. It was the first transistorized scientific computer, and more than 50 were built. While some private sector companies bought the 1604, the military was its biggest buyer. The US Navy bought the first machine for weather predictions, and the Air Force put redundant pairs of 1604s in Minuteman silos for guidance and aiming calculations for the ballistic missiles.
Seymour leveraged the success of the 1604 to the hilt. He set the bar for his next machine very high – a machine 50 times faster than the already speedy 1604. To deliver, he needed freedom from the distractions of upper management and visiting customers, so he insisted on relocating his development team to his hometown of Chippewa Falls. With newer, faster silicon transistors, the CDC 6600, an order of magnitude faster than any other machine on the market, debuted in 1964. The 6000 series would sell over 400 units, and it would remain the world’s fastest computer until Seymour’s next machine, the CDC 7600, which he started designing when he got bored with the almost-completed 6600 design, knocked it off its throne in 1969. The age of the supercomputer had arrived, and Seymour Cray was at its forefront.
Seymour parted ways with CDC in 1972 on friendly terms to form his own company, Cray Research. The company’s R&D labs were built in the backyard of Cray’s Chippewa Falls home, and Cray would add manufacturing facilities in the city as well. Seymour Cray’s “star power” had investors begging to give the new company money, and in four years Cray turned that cash in the Cray-1. The supercomputer had an undeniable aesthetic appeal; with narrow racks arranged in a C-shape that framed a view into the backplane of the machine, it was like looking into its soul. The base of the machine was ringed by power supplies and cooling units housed in small enclosures topped with padded seats, giving the Cray-1 its reputation as “the world’s most expensive loveseat.”
The Cray-1 was Seymour’s first design based on integrated circuits, and everything about it, from the Freon-tube cooling system to the vector processor to those interconnections optimized for signal synchronization, screamed speed. It was sexy as hell, and became the must-have machine for big number-crunchers. Over 80 of the $8 million machines were sold. The Cray-1 and its descendants remained at the top of the supercomputer heap well into the 1990s.
Time and technology, not to mention the end of the Cold War and its lavish defense budgets, eventually caught up with Cray’s designs. It became more cost effective to throw racks of commodity computers at the kinds of problems supercomputers had been built to solve, and demand for his big machines waned. He resisted the massively parallel approach for years, but eventually relented and set up a new company, SRC Computers, to develop the new designs. Tragically, just as the company was getting started in Colorado Springs in 1996, Seymour’s Jeep was clipped by another car and rolled three times. Seymour was rushed to the hospital but died there three days later. He was 71 years old.
It’s sad to think about what the world lost when those designs died with Seymour Cray, and we’ll never know what might have been. But perhaps the amount of scientific knowledge that was generated thanks to the raw computational power Seymour gave the world was bequest enough, and then some.
This skill requires some self-control, but it’s the most effective way to recover hard-to-find pheasants
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Visit Uncrate for the full post.
Visit Uncrate for the full post.
The internet is a vast, wild land that caters to all your needs. But while its rapid evolution has opened several new doors, they have also spawned a series of annoyances you probably face every day. Thankfully, for every problem, there’s also a solution. Here are eleven common internet annoyances and how to fix them.
Problem: The internet is filled with spoilers for that movie or TV series you’ve been meaning to watch but couldn’t find the time for.
Solution: To avoid reading those spoilers, all you need to do is install a simple browser extension called Spoiler Protection. It is available for both Chrome and Firefox. You can manually add the name of the movie or series and the extension will hide any related content on the majority of websites like Google News, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Also, you can personalize the settings for hiding spoilers for a specific scene as well through filters.
Download: Spoiler Protection
2. Pop-Ups and Overlays
Problem: In an ideal world, websites wouldn’t flood your computer with a multitude of pop-ups as soon as you visit them. But in the real one, some of them do and even your browser’s built in protection can’t block them at times.
Solution: Again, a browser extension for Chrome is the way out of this mess. Along with pop-ups, they are capable of blocking overlays as well which a lot of websites tend to put up for purposes such as newsletters.
Download: Pop-Up Blocker
3. Auto-Playing Videos
Problem: Websites use auto-playing videos which begin playing without your consent.
Solution: Similarly, you can easily put an end to auto-playing videos by installing a free browser extension. There are a ton of options in the market for stopping auto-playing videos on the internet which are both effective and don’t impact your computer’s performance.
4. Trackers and Cookies
Problem: Online advertising platforms and websites are notorious for tracking your browsing. Two of the most crucial components in that process are known as trackers and cookies. Both of these are essentially little pieces of information that contribute toward your digital profile so that online services know what to show you even when you’re not logged in.
Solution: There are multiple ways you can handle trackers and cookies. You can either switch to a more privacy-focused browser like Mozilla Firefox or download quick extensions (like Ultrablock) that can automatically delete the produced data.
5. Obscene and Inappropriate Media
Problem: There are instances when even if you’re browsing regular websites like Facebook, you come across obscene or inappropriate media.
Solution: To ensure such media remains hidden even if the websites’ own algorithms fail to keep them at bay, try a third-party extension. Install vRate to automatically analyze the images on the page you’ve loaded and hide the ones which are explicit in nature.
6. Fake News
Problem: Misinformation and fake news have spread over the interwebs like wildfire. But unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward to figure out whether a story is fake or accurate.
Solution: While there’s no complete solution for this crisis yet, there are a few browser extensions which are capable of telling you how trustworthy a particular source is. The one we recommend downloading is a Chrome extension called ZenMate SafeSearch which lets you quickly check if an article is fake even when you’re scrolling through Google News.
Download: ZenMate SafeSearch
7. Too Many Passwords to Remember
Problem: With a lot of online accounts, comes a lot of passwords you’ve to remember and manage. And considering it’s always best to set a different one, that’s quite a task.
Solution: Thankfully, there’s a better way to do that—a password manager. A password manager allows you to configure a unique password for every account and login into them without having to type them manually. There are several password managers available but the one we would recommend is LastPass. It’s mostly free, comes with all the features you would need and can be installed on any operating system.
8. Too Many Subscriptions
Problem: With the shift toward internet services, came a flurry of subscriptions in your life. Music, TV shows, ad-free experiences, all demand a monthly charge. Keeping track of these payments and ensuring you don’t pay for an app you haven’t used in a while can be difficult.
Solution: To put an end to this snafu, take a look at a website called TrackMySubs. It lets you stay on top of all your subscriptions and keeps you up to date with every statistic there is to know. What’s more, TrackMySubs can also alert you before a subscription is about to expire allowing you to cancel before it automatically deducts the renewal fee.
9. Too Many Things to Read and Watch
Problem: The internet is swamped with content you wish you had enough time for. But you don’t.
Solution: This is where a save-for-later service enters. They let you simply save all your links and you can revisit them when you’ve time later. While you have a lot of options in this space as well, Pocket works best among all and is compatible with most platforms. In addition, Pocket can even recommend you new articles based on your activity and what’s trending.
10. High Mobile Data Consumption
Problem: With websites turning more interactive and graphical, the amount of data they consume has simultaneously grown as well. Unfortunately, your data packs are still limited.
Solution: While we obviously can’t suggest using the internet less, you can give a few data saving tips and extensions a shot. For desktop browsers like Google Chrome, there are tools like Google’s own Data Saver available which can dramatically reduce your data usage. For smartphones, there are a host of tricks and tips you can look into for preserving mobile data.
11. Searching Inside Your Browsing History
Problem: Your browser’s history isn’t that handy if you’re not sure which web page you’re looking for in the first place.
Solution: For that, try History Search, an add-on for browsers that indexes everything you’ve browsed. The search assistant enables you to directly look up content inside the web pages you’ve opened in the past. The extension works with nearly every type of site and browser since it’s logging the text they contain. It might not be a good idea though if you have optimized your browsing for maximum privacy.
History Search has free and paid plans.
Download: History Search
More Tips for Living an Organized Digital Life
Annoyances can be distractions. And your problems won’t end even after using these solutions. There are a number of hassles you will have to go through daily for managing your data and presence online. For those too you can employ a series of tips and services for staying more organized on the web.
Read the full article: 11 Internet Annoyances You Can Get Rid of Immediately
A few blocks west of the downtown Swansboro, North Carolina, waterfront, off a side street that curls behind a fast-food chain, beyond a long warehouse building where he rents a work space, next to an old Chevrolet Silverado surrounded by weeds, Wyatt Speight Rhue kicks his boot against a log that might be of great value.
“You don’t see a lot of elm around here anymore,” Rhue, wearing work pants and a flannel shirt, says softly. “I’m gonna see what I can do with it.”
The elm log is surrounded by dozens of others—pine, black gum, holly, pecan, plum, magnolia—that Rhue has collected from this low-lying region along Bogue Sound in Eastern North Carolina. The forty-three-year-old woodworker uses only native trees for his turnings for all manner of home goods and furniture, from bowls to consoles, which sell faster than he can produce them at galleries and fairs around the country.
photo: Geoff Wood
Rhue in his Swansboro, North Carolina wood shop.
This particular elm fell during Hurricane Florence, which soaked Swansboro with more than thirty inches of rain last September. The property owner didn’t want the tree. Rhue didn’t exactly know what to do with it either, but he took it anyway, just to see where it might lead him.
Rhue’s bowls and canisters and other turnings are rustic but refined, each piece highlighting the grains and shapes of materials, imperfections becoming signatures. Most of the wood he turns arrives soaked like a sponge inside (all trees are “wet” when first cut), and as it dries over weeks and months and sometimes years, it expands and changes and cracks. Some transformations are more dramatic than others. Oak, for instance, leaves wedge-shaped cracks that require butterfly joints before finishing to ensure a flush fit. Black gum, which grows in abundance here, is more resilient.
photo: Geoff Wood
A red maple flower vessel with a hexagonal rim, flanked by two holly vessels.
Rhue speaks with a subdued version of a Down East accent, his vowel sounds a little tighter after spending nearly a decade in Chicago and New York. But he still has the patience that comes from being of this place. He grew up in New Bern, about forty miles north, and spent most of his weekends here; his grandfather had a hardware store downtown along the White Oak River. Rhue’s parents now run an antique shop in the old hardware store space. Rhue’s other grandfather, Marvin Speight, was the longest-serving chairman of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission and a prominent member of North Carolina’s Democratic Party. Rhue remembers going to parties for power players at the family’s house on Indian Beach.
He cares deeply about his family and their roots, but he always felt out of place in the area’s schools. During lunch periods, he’d search out quiet tables where he could draw. An astute teacher recommended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Rhue transferred his senior year, and immediately things connected. “I felt like a black sheep in New Bern,” he says. “[UNCSA] was a really freeing place to go.”
photo: Geoff Wood
Rhue shapes a bowl on his lathe.
After graduation, he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later landed a job with the prestigious furniture company BDDW in New York, recognized worldwide for its sophisticated pieces made out of natural materials with a minimalist design. About two weeks after he started, Rhue asked BDDW cofounder Joshua Vogel if he could stay late and experiment on the lathe. Vogel, who now has his own studio, looked up and smiled.
“Do you like the lathe?” Vogel asked.
“Yes,” Rhue replied.
“Do you love the lathe?” Vogel countered.
Rhue paused, unsure where this quiz was headed. Vogel continued: “Because sooner or later, you’re either going to hate the lathe or love it. There’s nothing in the middle.”
Rhue has spent the past seventeen or so years giving a resounding answer. His feelings are obvious on a recent morning as he hoists a big slice of that salvaged elm tree up to his lathe in that nondescript building.
photo: Geoff Wood
From left: A black walnut dresser; more wood containers.
He applies techniques he learned at BDDW to his work today but says he’s always trying to hone his own voice. Place—and the wood native to this place—plays a big role in that fine-tuning. He returned to Swansboro in 2010 and has no plans to leave. Not only is he close to family, but also the cost of living is lower, meaning he can devote more time to the work he loves. Rhue makes elegant furniture, for sure, including a round coffee table that’s one of his best sellers. Those pieces keep his bills paid, although from a creative standpoint, he prefers experimenting with new turnings. Much of his work, for instance, is inspired by pottery he’s come across, from sugar jars to salad bowls. But he favors the process of woodworking over pottery. It’s all about subtraction, cutting away all the parts you don’t want and leaving only those you do.
photo: Geoff Wood
Chisels at rest in the workshop.
Rhue takes his lathe tool and presses it against the center of the spinning piece of elm, sliding toward the edge as the wheel of wood twirls, applying more force the farther he goes, the shavings piling into the bend in his elbow like a basket of curly fries. Chip, chip, he presses; round, round, the wheel spins. Soon the underside of a bowl reveals itself, and anyone can see the same potential in this elm log that he saw all along.
At a certain point, most whiskey drinkers make the leap beyond entry-level booze. Here are nine bottles to try next.
Are you spending more money than you have? These apps and sites will help you set a budget, reduce spendings, and save money.
Being wealthy isn’t about making more money, it’s about keeping an eye on what you make right now, and figuring out what you should spend it on. Saving money is one of the most common new year’s resolutions, and you can figure out how to do just that with a few choice apps.
Currently, Mint and You Need A Budget are the two heavyweights in the budget-making apps. But before you move on to these paid apps, try a few baby steps to understand the basics of personal finance and how to manage it.
To Make Or Not To Make (Web): Calculate Your Monthly Savings Goal
To Make Or Not To Make is the simplest version of a savings plan. It is a barebones calculator that tells you how much you need to make every month to meet your annual savings goal.
Here’s how it works. To start with, set an amount that you want to save by the end of the year. To Make Or Not To Make will turn it into a monthly target, divided equally. But when you miss the January target or overshoot it, the app will adjust the remaining months accordingly. Each month, you can add how much money you have saved, so you can see how close you are to your target.
You’re always free to change your annual goal and get a new calculation too. The budget is made on a link that is private for you, so don’t share the URL with anyone else. Bookmark it, and set a reminder for yourself to enter details in it at the first of every month.
Track My Subs (Web): How Much Do You Pay for Subscription Services?
Most of the things you “buy” these days are subscriptions, whether it’s your monthly cell phone bill, Netflix or Spotify, and so on. All of these add up to a big total. You can manage all these subscriptions in one place at Track My Subs.
The app doesn’t let you change or stop any subscription. Instead, it’s a dashboard to figure out these “invisible transactions” where your credit card is charged every month or year. For each subscription, you can set a category, its cost, expiry date, payment method, add tags and notes, and even set up alerts.
Once you set up all your subscriptions, you might be shocked to realize just how much you are spending on non-essential items like entertainment. Track My Subs is a good reality check for those who have plenty of subscriptions.
Trimm (Web): Simple Expenses Tracker
Every money manager recommends that you keep track of all your expenses, no matter how small. There are loads of apps for that, but if you want a free and simple one to start, try Trimm.
It’s a desktop-based app, so ideally, fill it out at the end of each day or the start of the next day when you are at your computer. Keep a regular schedule to add all your expenses to Trimm and you’ll soon get an idea of where your money is going, and what changes you need to make.
There are only four things you need to add to each entry: how much you spent, a description, a date, and a category. Default categories include Transport, Entertainment, Shopping, Bills, and Personal Care, but you can add custom categories too.
The important thing here is to stick to a ritual of filling out your expenses. After that, you might be able to shift to any of the better budget tracking apps or free spreadsheet templates to manage finances.
Financial Toolbelt (Web): Calculators for Every Financial Need
Financial Toolbelt doles out plenty of good advice on its blog about how an individual should manage their own money, but go there for its free calculators. Through seven different calculators, you’ll feel more in control of your financial future than ever before.
The calculators figure out the expenses of different aspects. One tracks how much you need to save for a good retirement (including a good FIRE calculator), another talks about how to do a side-job, others track savings goals or credit card debts. You can pick the one that matters the most to you right now, but I’d recommend giving all of them a shot.
Apart from the calculators, do check out the resources and the interviews to understand basic personal finance topics, and get some good tips on how to manage your money.
HoneyDue (Android, iOS): Money Tracking for Couples
If you’re a couple, you need an app that works on both your phones to track all your expenditures and finances. HoneyDue is an easy and free app to set a budget together and review your spendings.
The app’s features include almost everything you can think of as a couple. You can see your joint accounts as well as personal accounts (US only), set bills and payments, add monthly budgets and limits, split costs when you manage finances separately, and so on. It’s the dashboard that both of you can check at the same time, and decide what you want to do with your money.
These features are also available in some of the other, more robust budget and finance apps, but none of them are fully free, which sets HoneyDue apart from the rest.
Take Control of Your Finances
Each person has a different financial need at a time. You might be looking to save more money, or reduce your debt, or control your spendings. No matter what you’re looking for, one of the above apps should be able to get something out of the tools above.
In case you still haven’t found the type of app, website, or guidance you need, don’t worry. Try these other apps and free ebooks to save money and set budgets.
Read the full article: 5 Free Sites and Apps to Save Money and Reduce Spending
IMDb has launched a free streaming service called Freedive. The streaming service will offer a range of Hollywood movies and highly rated TV shows, all completely for free. How? By breaking the content up with the occasional advertising break.
Free, ad-supported streaming platforms are quite common. There’s Vudu Movies on Us, Tubi TV, and many more besides. There are so many we’ve compiled a list of the best free movie streaming sites. And now IMDb Freedive is another one to add to the list.
IMDb Freedive Offers Quality Over Quantity
At launch, Freedive doesn’t boast a big catalog of content. There’s around 130 movies and 30 TV shows available to stream. However, some of the titles are big names you’ll actually want to watch, so it appears IMDb is focusing on quality over quantity.
IMDb has promised that the catalog will be constantly changing too, so if a movie or show isn’t on Freedive at the moment it could be in the future. On the flipside, if there’s a movie or TV show available now you should watch it before it potentially disappears.
— Fire TV ? (@amazonfiretv) January 10, 2019
TV shows currently available to watch on Freedive include Fringe, Heroes, Quantum Leap, and The Bachelor. Movies available to watch on Freedive include Memento, Foxcatcher, The Last Samurai, and True Romance. IMDb has also produced a couple of original shows.
All Freedive content is supported by ads, and there’s currently no way to skip past them. IMDb also isn’t offering the chance to buy or rent these movies and TV shows. Instead, you’ll be directed to Amazon if you want to buy or rent the content you’re watching.
How to Access IMDb Freedive
IMDb Freedive is available on imdb.com/freedive as well as on Amazon Fire TV devices. To watch Freedive through the site you’ll have to log in to IMDb. Amazon Fire TV users will find Freedive under “Your Apps & Channels”. Freedive is only available in the U.S.
Nobody likes adverts, but sitting through the occasional ad break in order to watch movies and TV shows for free is surely a price worth paying. Freedive isn’t going to replace Netflix, especially with the increasing quality of Netflix Originals, but it’s a good backup.
Read the full article: IMDb Launches Freedive, a Free Streaming Service
You’ve spent years talking about how you wanted to write a novel. It’s time to finally make that happen, with the help of a few apps that show you how to get started, keep going, and break the book into achievable goals.
These apps and sites attack different aspects of writing. Some focus on forming a habit of writing regularly, which is what most beginners find difficult. Others are strong writing tools that break down your novel by characters, scenes, chapters, and so on, and let you add ideas accordingly.
No matter which of these works best for you, it’s a good idea to also check these sites to learn how to write and publish a book.
Prolifiko (Web): Guide to Writing Sprints and Daily Goals
Prolifiko recognizes that the biggest obstacle to writing a book is writing itself. Authors get caught up in thinking about their big idea, and re-thinking, and over-thinking. The act of writing takes a back seat.
The app’s purpose is to make writing a regular habit, and it uses multiple productivity methods to do this. It makes you set short-term goals, and provides motivational messages as well as tips on how to achieve them. It doesn’t include a word processor, so you’ll have to rely on Microsoft Word or the best alternative word processors.
In the free version of Prolifiko, you can try out what they call a “writing sprint”, which is a 7-day course to write as much as you can. It incorporates everything you’ll get in the final product, including the daily boosts and tips. If you like it, Prolifiko costs £5.99/month or £59.99/year, and works on desktop and mobile.
200 Words A Day (Web): Form a Daily Habit With a Community
Given how difficult it is to form the daily habit of writing, you might feel like a failure whenever you don’t do it. But there are thousands of people like you. And just talking with them at 200 Words A Day (2WAD) can help you get back in the groove.
This isn’t the first app of its type, as we have seen others like 750 Words with a similar concept among apps to break writer’s block. But 750 words might be a bit much for a daily writing exercise. Plus, 200 Words seems about the right amount if you want to write about something that’s not about your novel. Pen your thoughts, talk in the community, or go on a random rant. As long as you are typing a minimum of 200 words on the screen, it counts as progress.
Your posts can be private or public. 2WAD also has an active Slack channel where its members help each other with motivation, relaxation, or general distraction.
YWriter (Android, iOS, Windows): Jot Notes on Different Parts of Novel
Writing a novel isn’t easy. You won’t always write it linearly, from the first chapter to the last. You’ll need to make notes about characters, places, plots, scenes, and so on. Ywriter makes all of that easy on your mobile.
You can break the entire novel into different chapters. Each chapter has multiple scenes as well. And characters get their own pages with character details. Any time you get a new idea, jump into that section with a few taps and start writing whatever you think of.
I find YWriter to be best as a mobile app, but there is a robust Windows version too with all of these features. But remember that YWriter isn’t a word processing software, it’s more to keep all your ideas in one place.
Download: YWriter for iOS ($4.99)
True Novelist (Web): Free Online Novel Writing App With Statistics
True Novelist is a free web app that addresses most of the needs of any novel writer. This includes a full-fledged word processor, along with plenty of organizational features.
The novel is, by default, broken up into categories (like story and research) and sub-categories (chapters, characters, places, scenes, etc.) You can rename any of the sub-categories, and you are free to add as much or as little as you want.
True Novelist also makes you accountable. It keeps a track of how many words you have written on any day, as well as how long you took for it. Over time, this provides a good snapshot of your productivity and writing streaks. The app also includes the option to set a daily goal for how many words you will finish each day.
Don’t worry about privacy or copyrights. True Novelist encrypts your entire novel before storing it online, and only you can access it with your password. And yes, you own 100% of your work.
Edward (Web): Robust Online Book Writer and Organizer
True Novelist is great because it is simple. For some people with an epic tale in their head, that might not be enough. Edward is a more robust online tool for authors to organize their thoughts and write the novel.
Edward divides the writing process into four steps: plan, outline, write, and analyze. Each tab has its own tools to help you organize your thoughts into something more coherent than the mish-mash of ideas in your head. One of the best ways to do this is by creating tags in Edward, which can then be applied in any of the four categories so you can cross-reference them.
The free version of Edward is a good place to start your novel and trial the software at the same time since it has most of the features of the paid version. If you find it useful, you can pay to get online storage and backup of all your ideas. If you don’t find it useful, just download everything you’ve written and move to a different app.
Brainstorm With Mind Mapping
For any beginner writer, these apps will guide you to take the first few steps into writing your magnum opus. You won’t magically become a good writer with them, but they will help you do what needs doing most: the act of writing.
But there will be days when you feel like thinking and ideating, instead of writing. Even on those days, you might want to turn to a few apps. For instance, try WriteMapper, one of the best mind-mapping apps to brainstorm ideas, especially for writers and authors.
Image Credit: JanPietruszka/Depositphotos
Read the full article: Finally Write Your Novel With These 5 Apps for Motivation and Planning
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I have a large archive of film dating back to the 1970s. Black and white negatives and color slides. I have an Epson scanner with film holders, and while it does a good job, it can take a long, too long time per slide. I had tried a digital camera attachment and that worked ok, but scan quality varied depending on the background lighting behind the attachment. Plus the Nikon digital camera it worked with was quickly outmoded and replaced with newer, higher resolution, gear.
Then, a year or so ago, I found the Wolverine F2D Mighty [the newer version is called the Titan). It is a dedicated film scanner that can make a 20M pixel scan in a couple seconds. It has film carriers for 35mm, 110 and 8/Super8 film. It can scan color and B/W negatives and positives (slides). It has a LCD preview screen and is powered by a USB connection to a computer. It also has a SD card slot where it saves scans. You can upload scans to the computer over USB or just move the SD card (which is what I do).
The software is rudimentary but good enough for me since all I need is to get the image file to the computer.
At this point I am nearly done with my archive (at least I think I might be – you never know when you will find that forgotten shoe box full of negatives). My starving artist, cheapskate friends now are borrowing Mighty and happily and quickly digitizing their film too.
-- RJ Godin
Wolverine Titan 8-in-1 High Resolution Film to Digital Converter with 4.3″ Screen and HDMI Output ($137)
Available from Amazon
Though there was definitely an awkward phase in its third generation, the new one is back to being Defenderesque, in a good way.
Announced at CES 2019, Nikon's Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S is the first 14mm that allows for screw-in adapters.
You can make one of five craft beers: golden American Pale Ale, hoppy American IPA, dry Czech Pilsner, full-bodied English Stout, or zesty Belgian-style Witbier.
Jocelyn is a dear friend of mine and the force behind the fantastic podcast Hurry Slowly, as well the editor of one of my favorite newsletters. She is a thoughtful, smart, grounded and heart-forward human.
And I think she is onto something, pointing out, how we’re in the grip of a more, better, faster mentality that drains our energy and makes us feel like we’re never doing enough. Her 4 week course advocates for a new way of working — a heart-centered approach to productivity that’s nurturing, intentional, and inspiring.
It starts January 19th and is designed as a 4-week course, everyone starting at the same time. This allows Jocelyn to support you with live Q&As every week as you integrate the concepts. The course consists of 12 video lessons form the core of RESET — each lesson is about 15-20 minutes long. In total, watching all the videos takes just under 4 hours. Additional materials, like the “reset rituals,” are self-paced so it’s all about how much you want to put into the course.
I am signing up. I am ready for a cosmic tune-up!
A vintage British sportscar is a wonderful thing. Inimitable style and luxury, beautiful curves, and a soundtrack that could make even Vinnie Jones shed a tear. However, even under the most diligent maintenance schedule, they are known, above all, for their unreliability. As the value of such cars is tied heavily to their condition as unmodified examples, owners are typically reluctant to make modifications to remedy these issues.
However, things are starting to change. Cities across the world are enacting measures to ban fossil fuel vehicles from their streets, and sales of such vehicles are similarly going to be banned entirely. The automotive industry is preparing for a major pivot towards electric drivetrains, and no carmaker will be left untouched. In this landscape, it’s not just Tesla and Nissan who are selling electric cars anymore. Luxury brands are beginning to deliver electric vehicles, too.
What This Means for Classic Cars
Luxury brands trade on history and cachet; perhaps the former even more than the latter. There’s a reason why Ferrari and Porsche are household names, while Koenigsegg are more well known among the Top Gear set. Immaculate examples of historically relevant cars regularly change hands for millions of dollars, and brands will often invite only their most loyal and famous customers to buy their limited edition cars.
This strong focus on history is reflected in how automakers treat the glory models from their past. It’s possible to ring up Porsche and get just about any part you could imagine for a 911 from model year 1964 to 2018. Try calling Ford up and asking for a new gearbox for your 1988 Tempo AWD and you’ll likely be out of luck.
Aston Martin and Jaguar are two such brands with a storied history and are a huge presence in the classic car market. Unfortunately, they’re also known for their legendary unreliability and the spectre of Lucas electrics which haunts many British car owners worst nightmares. This can make it hard for owners to drive and enjoy their classics.
All is not lost, however. Jaguar is already selling the I-PACE electric SUV in several markets, and Aston Martin plans to launch the Rapide-E early next year. Both companies now have experience with electric drivetrains, and are bringing it to bear on some of their most celebrated past models.
The E-type, commonly referred to as “the most beautiful car of all time”, is the first car to get the electric treatment from Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works, an official department of the company dedicated to working on the older members of the fleet. Billed as the E-Type Zero, the package consists of a full drivetrain conversion, as well as a completely new dashboard with modern gauges and an infotainment screen. Power was limited to 295 horsepower to avoid having to update the suspension and brakes to cope with the extra power, changing the character of the car.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin is gearing up to retrofit the DB6, again with a full drivetrain swap, but limiting interior changes to a single screen added to the interior. The conversion is designed to fit as neatly as possible, picking up the original engine and transmission mounts. Figures aren’t available yet, but we’d suspect power to be less than 400 horsepower due to the limitations of the original chassis and handling package.
The simple fact is supply and demand. Owners of these classics have money to burn, and now that reliable electric drivetrain technology is within reach, a conversion package backed by the factory is an attractive prospect.
A key consideration is that both Aston Martin and Jaguar have stressed that their conversions are completely reversible — requiring no permanent changes to the original vehicle. This is key, as owners of investment-grade classics are reticent to drill holes in priceless original bodywork.
With a factory conversion, it’s possible to enjoy a classic sportscar in a whole new way, with improved reliability and no worries about dodgy workmasnship from an aftermarket supplier. No more shall the E-type and DB6 owners struggle with post-winter oil changes and can after can of starting fluid — it will be as simple as plug in, and go.
The Trickle Down, Or Not
It’s true enough that most automotive trickles down from the pointy end to the common commuter car, given enough time. Things like satellite navigation and power windows were once expensive luxuries, which are now de rigeur on most cars.
However, it’s unlikely you’ll see electric conversion kits from more mainstream automakers anytime soon, and once again, it comes down to basic economics. A full drivetrain conversion is expensive to engineer, and the labor costs to install are somewhere between painful and a house deposit — and that’s not even counting the parts.
There are packaging issues, too. Front-engined, rear wheel drive sports coupes from yesteryear like the E-Type and the DB6 had big, long 6 cylinder engines, or in some cases, even V12s. With the combustion engine and fuel tank removed, there’s plenty of space to work with. Contrast that with a modern front wheel drive hatchback, and things are a little more cramped.
Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars converting a mid-2000s commuter car to electric drive. Range would be short compared to modern all-electric cars due to the limited space available to retrofit a battery pack, and there may be safety concerns as to how to put in necessary battery cutoffs to aid emergency crews in the events of crashes and fires. For the cost of a conversion, it would make far more sense to buy a brand new electric car, rather than converting a not-particularly-desirable hatchback or SUV from the last 20 years.
What We Expect To See Next
There is a lot of work ongoing in this space, with both automakers and third-party shops developing electric drive packages for retrofit purposes. Typically, we see these going into passion projects, like the Electric GT Ferrari 308. There’s also madcap drag racing projects like this 1981 Honda Accord with a Tesla drivetrain — a truly impressive hack.
In the coming years, we expect to see packages for more of the classics, particularly those where the electric drivetrain can solve issues or improve performance above and beyond that of the original combustion motor. A drop-in swap for an air-cooled 911 might have a decent take rate, but the purists love those cars for the character of the engine above all else. However, a classic 4×4 Ford Bronco, already a darling for engine swappers looking for more performance, would be a perfect candidate — the low-down torque from electric drive would be ideal in many off-road scenarios.
In any case, the focus will likely remain on producing reversible swaps for the more popular classic cars out there, where sales volumes can help defray the development costs of the conversion. There’ll also likely be more off-the-wall motorsport and enthusiast DIY builds, too. However, the benefits simply aren’t there to convert the grocery getters and kid haulers of the world, and they’re likely best replaced with a nice new electric automobile from the showroom floor.
This log splitter ($115) was an impulse purchase at Harbor Freight, but has reliably split my knotty, gnarly oak firewood for 5 years now. Even large trunk rounds split easily with a bit of strategizing. I don’t go through a huge amount of firewood in a season — maybe 1/2 a cord or so. One thing that isn’t obvious: The left handle produces twice the piston movement as the right one. So you use the left one to advance the log into the bit, then once it tightens up you use the right one to power through it. Much safer than swinging a maul, and you still get a bit of a workout!
-- Jim Perry
10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter ($115)
The internet is awash with an unimaginable amount of data. Nearly every piece of information in the world today is available online. Not all of it is in dull datasets and spreadsheets. Creative data visualization has turned unknowable information into stories. You can check how diverse a city is or slip back in time to pour through archaic manuscripts preserved for centuries.
There are many websites working to present data in a more visual and interactive manner. Here are the eleven most beautiful websites for data nerds.
1. The Pudding
The Pudding publishes visual data essays on a wide selection of topics you wouldn’t normally find on other platforms. That includes questioning whether pop lyrics are getting more repetitive, a three-dimensional model of the world’s population across several periods, analysis of film dialogues by gender, and fantastic visual explainers.
Also, the majority of these are depicted in 3D. They’re also interactive so that you can explore by simply navigating around.
This data-centric website, as the name suggests, lets you study viruses and examine them through 3D models. Virus Explorer also offers insights on a host of other characteristics of a specific virus such as whether a vaccine is available for them, their structure, genome type, and more. What’s more, you can view them in relative sizes to further understand the differences.
Recommended: Browse through Click & Learn for more interactive educational resources.
3. Flag Stories
Flag Stories is the ultimate destination for people who are fascinated by the world’s various flags. The website comes with tens of intriguing illustrations which present flags like you would have never seen before.
Some of our favorites are the Most Used Flag Elements that tells you which shape is the most popular among flag makers (no surprises there, rectangle won), all the flags stacked like a Tetris game, dominating layouts, and more.
Recommended: World history in flags
Skyscraper Page compares each and every one of globe’s skyscraper on a scale that everyone can grasp. The website’s database houses tens of thousands of tall buildings, all of which are placed side-by-side on a common chart. You can, of course, categorize them based on cities or countries.
It also lists additional information on the skyscrapers such as when was it built, the designer behind it, height, and more.
PBDB Navigator is a goldmine for palaeobiology students, professionals, and enthusiasts. The service lets you browse the world through space, time, and taxonomy. It features all the essential and advanced tools you would require for visualizing the globe at a particular age whether it’s the Jurassic period or when an organism was first discovered according to geologic time.
Ever wonder how two locations differ in size but you can’t visualize it through sheer numbers? Try MAPfrappe. It allows you to put places on top of each other so that you can truly picture the differences.
MAPfrappe works by outlining the first place you’d like to include and then, select the second one. Once done, it overlaps both of them giving a concise understanding of the size variances.
Information is Beautiful is similar to The Pudding but with a lot more topics and colors. The website, as you’d expect, presents data from a vast number of subjects in attractive designs that help you make comparisons. You can grasp how trillion dollars look like, the story of the world’s biggest data breaches, and even get a scene-by-scene breakdown of true story-based movies to see how precisely accurate they are.
Recommended: Reimagine the Game
The Colors of Motion is another astonishing website for data nerds which explores the use of colors in movies. The site breaks down every frame to a color and stacks all of them together to form mesmerizing charts and posters of iconic films like Blade Runner 2049, A Beautiful Mind, and more. You can even buy the posters from The Colors of Motion for a starting price of $20.
9. Bird Sounds
Bird Sounds is part of Google Experiments and lets you play and learn sounds of over ten thousand birds. The app’s homescreen lists all the available sounds based on their frequency profiles which you can click to play and reveal the corresponding bird. In addition, there’s an option to search.
10. Pixel Chart
Pixel Chart comes with the ability to decompose any picture into thousands of pictures. Their color intensities are mapped on a histogram. The website is perfect for photography geeks who are looking to expand their knowledge.
Along with the snazzy animations, Pixel Chart also shows the maximum pixel count of a picture and can group the pixels by lightness, hue, saturation, and more.
The New York Public Library’s collection of ancient items in the public domain is another captivating data-oriented app you should check out. It contains hundreds of thousands of items dating back to the eleventh century. Letters by historical figures, the seventh map of Europe, vintage photos, and more treasures. The web app even lets you sort all of these by century, genre, collection, and color.
Recommended: The Mansion Maniac Game
Turn Information Into Knowledge
Data can be boring. But it also depends on the eye of the beholder. Visualizations reduce the overwhelm and can give you a bird’s eye view of rich data. But are you a data nerd who really wants to roll up your sleeves? Then don’t forget the vast open resources offered by the likes of Google’s Dataset Search tool.
Read the full article: 11 Beautiful Data Visualization Sites That’ll Impress and Hook You