Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DIY Copy of Houzz Consigned Chinese Black and Red Moon Face Nightstand

People need a horizontal surface to put things on next to the bed. Not having nightstands was a glaring omission from our AirBnB. I did some googling to rectify this situation and found a set of nightstands that would match the overall Japanese/red-black theme of the apartment.

Well, I found these gorgeous nightstands on Houzz, but there's no way I'm willing to pay $900 for two (let alone $450 for one)!

I had an idea to find the cabinet hardware from Aliexpress (which was pretty simple) and then make the nightstands out of plywood with faux door and drawer openings. I don't need storage space in these nightstands, I just needed a place for people to put their things by the bedside. I used a big piece of paper to work out the balance of the drawer to door spacing for the front of the cabinet and traced on the lines with a pencil. Then using a chisel and a hammer, I made a groove on the fronts and sides of the cabinet where the "doors" and "drawer" would be. The plan was to fill in the groove with gold paint as the last step.

I used Rust-Oleum semi-gloss black paint for the body of the nightstand (the same paint I used on the headboard frame) and a red enamel paint for the drawer/doors.

After adding several coats of paint, I sanded with a 440 grit and then painted again. The door/drawer hardware arrived in the mail eventually. I installed the hardware and then painted the grooves gold with a fine tipped paintbrush and a gold paint I bought at Michael's.

I'm very pleased with how they turned out. They look great in the bedroom and the enamel paint is very hard wearing. I have about $100 or so in parts/paint/hardware invested in these nightstands, so it wasn't exactly cheap to make them, but it's certainly a lot cheaper than the ones for sale on Houzz.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Concept To Reality - Queen Size Shadowbox Headboard

Say for example you've decide to join the bandwagon and turn the vacant apartment over the garage into an AirBNB (primarily because you don't want to be a full time landlord). All the AirBNB advice online says to make your place stand out, make it different, make it INSTAGRAM WORTHY. No pressure, right? Suure.

Through hitting up great estate sales, we'd settled in a Japanese theme for the apartment furnishings. Most of the furniture was in place and I'd already made the noren curtains for the front porch. The final thing I wanted to make a focal point was the headboard for the queen size bed. I'd researched ideas online but didn't find anything that fit with our theme. 

One morning I couldn't sleep. I woke up at 4:30 am, didn't want to get out of bed. I laid there and turned over ideas for a headboard in my mind. Discarding each iteration as taking too much time, costing too much in supplies or being far too complicated to execute.

I thought back to the geisha doll in a glass box that my mom used to have and thought THAT'S IT! I'll make a shadowbox headboard! I turned this idea over and over in my mind to imagine how it should look, what should be in the shadowbox? 

When it was a reasonable hour to get up, I went upstairs and drew the mock-up of the idea I had on my office whiteboard. The idea for the mountains, sun and cherry blossoms in the shadowbox came from the shutter stock banner graphics I purchased as inspiration for the noren curtains.

The noren curtains I made were inspired by those you see outside traditional ramen shops. I found UV resistant canvas fabric by the yard and a pattern (which I could modify).

Now that I've explained the history of the noren curtains, we can get back to the headboard. I then began researching where to buy a 30x60in piece of glass. Turns out a piece of glass that large is really, really heavy and expensive. Scratch that. Maybe clear vinyl might work? Researched that, found the stuff they put in sailboats for "windows". Nope. That's not right either. Turns out Lowes stocks 30x60 pieces of Duraplex for $45. Sold. That sheet of Duraplex is exactly the right size and won't require any cutting!

There's plenty of documentation online for how tall and wide a queen size headboard should be. I took that information along with the actual measurements of wood sold by Lowe's (a 2x4 isn't always 2x4) and began sketching out the pieces of wood I'd need to buy.
Many calculations later, I knew the finished headboard would be 57 1/4" tall, 23 1/4" from the bottom of the feet to the bottom of the shadowbox, and 65 1/2" wide. Basically I was centering the wood around the 30x60 Duraplex sheet and if anything wasn't quite centered, the nail holes would be covered up by the final trim I'd use to frame the edges of the Duraplex.
The sides of the shadowbox were 4x4 pressure treated fence posts and they were quite damp with the pressure treating chemical when I purchased them. I let them dry out for a few weeks (laying them flat on the garage floor). After two weeks' time, I cut the posts to size and sanded all the sides, prepping it for painting with Rust-Oleum Black Satin enamel paint.

I used a pocket jig for the screw holes because I didn't want screws to be visible from the outside of the headboard. I attached the top and bottom 1x4x10 board to the two 4x4 posts with two pocket jig/screw holes on each side (8 total, 4 top, 4 bottom). Not everything lined up perfectly, but I knew any imperfections wouldn't be visible once the headboard was complete, so I kept working. As long as all my wood was flush at the front of the shadowbox where the Duraplex would go, all would turn out well.

The shadowbox has tree branches (taken from the tree in the front yard) which I wrapped in strips of black satin (I already had 3 yards of inexpensive polyester satin on hand) and hot glue silk cherry blossom flowers to the branches (continuing the theme of cherry blossoms from the noren curtains on the porch)

The background of the shadowbox would be a section of the canvas fabric I had left over from making the noren curtains, painted with imagery of a large red setting sun and a large black mountain range opposite the cherry blossoms. The paint I was working with is by Jacquard and worked extremely well with the outdoor UV-resistant canvas.

David gave me the great idea of illuminating the scene with an LED light kit from IKEA, giving our guests the option of having the ambient light on or off in the headboard with a simple toggle switch.
The backing of the headboard is a section of hardboard which I spray adhered the canvas fabric to once the painting was completed. Working on the flat concrete floor of the garage, I used a rolling pin to firmly adhere the canvas to the hardboard and flatten out any uneven areas. I trimmed off any excess fabric with a razor blade and then used shiny brass trunk nails to secure the hardboard to the frame of the headboard. (no photos taken of this process as it took two people and four quick hands to apply the spray glue and smooth out any lumpy areas!
I used Gorilla Glue to secure the branches into a section of styrofoam glued to what would become the inside base of the shadowbox. I used strips of masking tape to hold the branches at the desired angles and depths while the glue set.
Once the glue was cured, I could then begin to attach the silk cherry blossoms to the branches. These are technically peach blossoms, but they had the look and colors I desired.

I used a snap blade knife to carve away some of the styrofoam rectangle, giving the base of the branches a more organic shape. Using the same black satin material, I cut a large rectangular section of cloth and began to cover the styrofoam base with it, securing the fabric with sewing pins.
Using the hot air from an embossing tool (rather than a heat gun, which would be too hot), I was able to make the frayed edges of the fabric covering the branches appear less messy. The hot air made the frayed edges shrink/melt/vanish.

The lighting section from IKEA was the perfect length to fill the center of the shadowbox with ambient light from beneath.

I drilled small holes every few inches apart at the perimeter of the Duraplex sheet. The diameter of the drill bit was big enough to allow for a small finishing nail, but not so large that the head of the nail would pass through the drilled opening. The sheet of Duraplex was affixed to the front of the shadowbox with finishing nails and David sealed any openings with crystal clear caulk (so no little critters could make a home inside the shadowbox).

The wood framing the front of the Duraplex sheet is a decorative pine trim from Lowe's, miter cut at the corners and an extra strip of thinner, similar wood trim at the bottom of the shadowbox to further obscure the light source.

The fence post finials are the Harbor design from Home Lumber Company on eBay. I bought the 4x4 size but I should've ordered the smaller size due to the dimensions of the fence posts not really being 4x4 but are 3.5x3.5. Not a huge problem overall.

I'm extremely pleased with how this project turned out! It has been a long time since I dreamed up something I wanted to make and had the time/ability/skills to see it to fruition! 

 There are still a few little things the AirBNB needs (end tables for the bed, for one) but overall it is nicely kitted out. The rest of the pictures of the place are on AirBNB!: http://bit.ly/minshuku

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

HPE Discover - London 2015

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I was invited to take part in the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover event in London recently. This event was the first expo since HP acquired Aruba. The event was much larger than I'd anticipated - there were at least 16,000 people in attendance. Dozens of demonstration zones were sprinkled throughout the show floor. 

The demonstration of MU-MIMO was well done through an animated video equating spatial streams and airtime fairness with fast, small and big cars traveling down the highway. The video was well done and would be useful for non-English speaking attendees of the event.

The show floor had stacks of networking hardware on display (in areas where there was no accompanying demonstration space) which I suspect would fall a little flat for the attendees who were not familiar with the newly aquired line of Aruba access points and wireless controllers. The diplay stack should have had signage to lead the attendee to where they can view this hardware in action or have an HP/Aruba TME explain the intracacies of the hardware.

I used the HPE Discover 2015 Tours application which was created for this event (for iOS and Android). The show floor had HPE(Aruba) bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons distributed at the thirty-eight (38) strategic locations where the self guided tour could be utilized. At first launching the app crashed when I selected Demo 1212 "Securely integrate IoT deployments". When I relaunched the app, it worked and I was able to listen to the recorded narrator or read the transcript to get more information on the demonstration spot. Out of curiosity I searched the application for the four digit number on a nearby demonstration screen to see if that demo was also part of the app. My search results were blank, so I could only assume that it was not included. I think that the app should have been programmed to indicate that my selection was invalid or that the search query was not part of the app demo program.

The Collaboration demonstration of the interactive conference room was quite compelling. The demo tablets provided to the people taking place in the demonstration allowed their pseudonyms to be welcomed aloud by Cortana which was also launching the video meeting once all of the attendees were in the room. Once the conference started, lights on the outside of the conference room turned red to indicate the room was in use. When the conference ended, all meeting notes or chat session transcripts were automatically emailed to the attendees. The combination of the Aruba BLE beacon in the conference room with the Microsoft/Cortana enablement made a compelling story for automating conference call greetings as well as distributing the meeting notes automatically post onference call.

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The big announcment from HPE Discover was the Aruba BLE Sensor (in my opinion). The Aruba Sensor is a device which plugs into any electrical outlet (the plug connector types are modular and are available for any plug type). It has a BLE beacon in it as well as a wireless capabilites which allow the sensor to manage up to 10 BLE beacons. This means that if a BLE beacon requires reprogramming, physical proximity is no longer required. The Sensors are managed through a web UI and changes to nearby Aruba BLE beacons can be done over the air. It is also possible to monitor the Aruba BLE beacon status from the same web UI as well as setup notifications/alerts when BLE beacons are no longer detected or if the BLE beacon battery status changes.

It is in the roadmap to bring this Aruba Sensor application into AirWave and use the mapping/location placment of the BLE beacons from the application into the single pane of glass management GUI which is AirWave. What is interesting is that the Aruba Sensors do not require an Aruba wireless infrastructure. Since the application which allows the remote managment of the Sensors and BLE beacons is standalone, it can be used in any wireless deployment situation.

The Aruba Sensor has a small form factor with a micro USB slot as well as an on/off power button (for regulatory compliance) as well as a four pin serial port interface. The serial port is to support legacy connections as well as debugging of the sensor. The BLE beacons that the sensor can manage are either small, standalone beacons which are battery powered, or USB beacons which are supported by recent models of Aruba access points.

I sat in on the session "How tomorrow moves: Mobile-first, cloud-first networking, transforming the digital workplace" led by Dominic Wilde VP of Product Line Management for HP/Aruba and he had a guest speaker (Doug Crawford VP of Global Network Services for WB/TimeWarner) who exolled the virtues of an all wireless office and how deploying a pervasive, location aware wireless infrastructure had enabled the WB to speed the turnaround time for wardrobe requests as well as catering deliveries. These two examples alone is saving WB thousands of dollars that would've been lost due to the length of turnaround time for these tasks previously. The are working to make the WB studio even more interactive through the use of BLE beacons at the major soundstages to bring video clips and interviews of who has used which soundstages and for which films or movies to the guests who are taking a backstage studio tour of the property. I think Mr. Crawford's presentation would have been more captivating and personal than the scenarios presented during the keynote.

My key takeaway was that the wireless capabilities that Aruba offers post acquision should have been highlighted more prominently at HPE Discover. I say this due to the large number of people who stood up and left during the Day One keynote when the topic of a mobile workforce became the topic of discussion. Many people seemed to miss the importance of the joint forces of Aruba and HP because they literally got up and walked out. It could be that all wireless offices haven't caught on yet in Europe (which I find hard to believe) or that the business use cases used during the keynote did not come across as compelling.

Full disclosure: HP/Aruba invited me to attend HPE Discover and paid for my airfare and hotel during my time in London for the HPE Discover event. I received gifts including an umbrella and jacket. The sponsorship of my travel or the gifts I received in no way influenced my opinion of the HPE Discover event.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Teaching Yoga Is Unlike Anything I've Ever Done!

Today I taught my first 60 minute yoga class. I spent weeks planning the asana sequence, timing the breaths, counting the in-between spaces. More hours choosing an exactly timed playlist, even calling upon my beau to assist with a recommended playlist, knowing he has a better grasp of recording artists who create primarily instrumental tracks.

I deconstructed every yoga class recording I had. I was attempting to distill the essence of what makes a good yoga sequence and a rewarding yoga class.

What I can tell you is that there is no app that can make sequencing easier (at least not for free or one that works offline), there are no hard fast rules for how long you should hold Warrior I versus the first Utkatasana. I came up with some general guidelines based on the excellent classes I've taken at Breath and Body Yoga in Austin TX.

Online resources:

I took class audio recordings and put them through a speech to text translator, creating a written transcript of an excellent yoga class/sequence. With this transcript, I could see how many words fill the spaces where we are holding poses and breathing. I had practiced at home many times to these video/audio classes but I had never actually watched the video to see how the instructors words are landing with the students. As I began to dissect a class recording and note what pose we were in (including drawing my own stick figures) and counting how many breaths we were taking in while in the pose, I realized how many students make time for fixing their pony tails or straightening out their mat towel for the tenth time (guilty as charged!).

Armed with this timeline information I created a spreadsheet which I used to keep track of each pose and how long each pose would take, or should take to equal out to a 60 (or any other variant) minute long class. I also resisted the temptation to copy the class pose for pose (that was hard!).

Each time I would practice the planned sequence at home, it never seemed to add up to 60 minutes. I wasn't talking myself through each pose out loud when going through the asanas, but I probably should have - so speaking the verbal alignment cues would be familiar.

Turns out when teaching this sequence for real at Jai Dee Yoga in Tampa, I had to cut a couple of poses for sake of time. A couple of asanas got done out of the planned sequence, but nobody was the wiser.

Of course, doing all of this pre-planning is completely overkill for preparing to teach an hour long yoga class, but as they say "How you do anything is how you do everything". I typically break things down into their smallest common denominator (the breath in this case) and then figure out how best to put it all back together. 

Now I know that I have a solid foundation for building, time checking and playlist creating for the next opportunity to teach on the mat. I made an audio recording of my first time teaching and I'll post it once I've checked the audio levels.

Also, sticking the printed sequence on the wall to look at while teaching was a great help!

Here's the sequence in an image layout:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mail Order Film Developing: 110, Minox 8x11 cassettes and more!

I've been solely shooting film for the last few months and the time had come to mail away my 110 cartridges for developing. Several years back I could get 110 film developed at Wal-Mart but that's not possible anymore. C'est la vie, I'm saved from having to step foot in Wal-Mart, there's no down side to that!

I use Blue Moon Camera for my mail order film processing. They're consummate professionals when it comes to their customer service and the quality of their prints.

Much to my surprise when I landed on their site was this advert for the MINOX spy camera film they make!

Shop SPY FILM for MINOX Cameras

Typically I'm not the target audience for advertising, but they got me. Hook, line and sinker. I've seen MINOX cameras for sale on eBay for years and years. I never thought anything of them, since what is the point in buying a camera if you can't get film to put in it?

Well, that's all changed. I'm late to the game on this one, Blue Moon has been an authorized MINOX film manufacturer for a while now. It was news to me.

What did I do? I immediately found a MINOX C with a reasonable Buy-It-Now price on eBay, bought the battery adapter for the MINOX C and two cassettes of film from Blue Moon.

Now I must wait patiently for it all to arrive.

Here are some shots I've taken with the Pentax 110. It's a fantastic little camera and I'm super excited to see how the MINOX shots turn out!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wireless Field Day Approacheth! #WFD8

I received the good news that I'll once again be attending a Wireless Field Day in San Jose. This time around we'll be visiting Aruba, Cisco, Fluke Networks and Zebra so far. As the event gets closer the full list of sponsors will be unveiled. I will be spending quality time with some familiar faces, and getting to socialize with a couple of delegates whom I've only met once or twice. It's always sure to be a good time!

The full details on the event will continue to expand on the Tech Field Day website for WFD8. Bookmark the site and check back to see how things are unfolding.

The full delegate list for WFD8 is thus: 
Blake KroneChris LyttleDrew LentzJake SnyderJennifer HuberKeith R. ParsonsLee BadmanPeter Paul EngelenRichard McIntoshSam ClementsScott McDermottShaun Neal

Friday, August 21, 2015

How To Restring an Oil Rain Lamp

I am the proud new owner of a Creators Three Goddess Oil Rain Lamp! Sadly, one of the monofilament line got broken during shipping and I had the seemingly odious task of restringing the lamp foist upon me.

Searching online yielded very little information about how to take apart the lamp and what to expect upon doing so. There are two PDFs online describing the process of restringing and one describing repair of the lamp, how much mineral oil to use, but none with helpful photos.

Prior to taking apart the lamp, spread out a large trash bag  or plastic sheeting to catch any oil which might still be in the bottom of the lamp.

Disassembling the lamp is done by removing the three brass acorn nuts which hold the bottom of the lamp (the oil reservoir) to the center portion of the lamp. The lamp pump assembly is affixed to the bottom of the center portion of the lamp. Unscrew the top nut of the lamp where it joins the electrical cord/chain and slide it down the electrical cord and away from the lamp center. Working on the lamp from a position where the lamp is still suspended in mid-air is extremely helpful. Tying a knot in the electrical cord at the top of the lamp will allow you to suspend the lamp while you work on it.

The monofilament line is held taut by a series of interlocking brass couplings. The larger, outer brass couplings are the portion you can see sticking out of the top of the lamp, where the monofilament line appears to come out of the top of the lamp.

The smaller brass coupling is what holds the monofilament lines taut as the filament is threaded through the holes in the bottom of the lamp base and then back into the brass coupling in the top of the lamp. Make note of the threading pattern, you will replicate this pattern when you're replacing the monofilament line.

Using a small chisel or tool with a beveled edge, pry the smaller fitting out of the center of the larger fitting. Collect all small fittings and place them in a lidded container containing a mix of hot water and Fantastik (or some other grease cutting cleaner). Once all of the small fittings have been removed, remove the monofilament line from the lamp by unthreading it from the holes. Remove all large brass fittings and place them in a lidded container with a grease cutting mixture and let them soak. Clean the center of each small brass fitting, ensuring there are no clogs or blockages present. Set aside the small brass fittings to dry. Repeat the cleaning process with the large brass fittings. 

When all fittings have been cleaned thoroughly, restringing the lamp can begin. Work from the inside out to make the process simpler.
I tied the "starter" end of the monofilament line to a pencil to keep a good length of filament on the bottom of the lamp so I wouldn't have difficulty making a good knot in the filament when I'd finished threading it through the lamp.

I used 40 pound clear, monofilament line to restring this lamp. Monofilament line is also commonly referred to as fishing line. Do not use anything heaver than a 40 pound line, as you will have difficulty reinserting the smaller brass couplings (I'll cover this a few paragraphs later).

The inner circle rain pattern on this lamp is diagonal. The filament was threaded from the bottom of the lamp and then two holes to the right of the hole which would create a vertical rain line. The length of the inner circle rain pattern filament line was approximately 24 feet in length. This length will allow for a foot or so extra length at the bottom. This will make knotting the thread at the end easier.

The outer circle rain pattern on this lamp is vertical. The filament was threaded from the bottom of the lamp and straight up into the hole in the top to create vertical rain lines. The length of the outer circle rain pattern filament line was approximately 40 feet in length. This length will allow for a foot or so extra length at the bottom. This will make knotting the thread at the end easier.

Each run of filament is tightened by pulling on the filament enough to stretch it enough to allow you to press the small brass fitting into the larger brass fitting with the filament pinched in the center. As the filament is pulled/stretched, the diameter of the monofilament will decrease by a very small amount, allowing you to pinch the filament in place with the smaller brass fitting. Use a tiny hammer to tap the smaller brass fitting into place. It does not require much force, tap gently.

When you've successfully threaded the new monofilament line through the lamp, tie a knot in the filament underneath the center of the lamp. Tying three tight knots, one after the other will be sufficient to keep the filament in place.

The oil ran lamp uses mineral oil to give the effect of rain drops cascading down the monofilament line. Mineral oil is readily available at drug stores or grocery stores. The typical cost of a pint of mineral oil is just over $5.00. The lamp will take about 2 pints to fully submerge the intake hose of the pump in the base of the lamp (2 pints = 32 ounces). This equals ~$15 in mineral oil. People are selling 32 ounce bottles of mineral oil labeled as Rain Lamp Oil for $24.95 plus $13.00 S&H. Don't be pulled in by this tactic! Buy your oil rain lamp oil from your nearest grocery/drug store! 

If the pump is the problem with your rain lamp, replacement pumps have been seen selling on eBay for $65.00 plus S&H.