My office recently hosted a “Hack-a-thon”, where we could build whatever we wanted to build. I spend some time on the first day learning some new technology from some co-workers, but the second day I started to build an app that I had wanted to build for a while: a spring planting planner scheduler. Basically, the concept is it tells you when to start seeds indoors or outdoors based on your local last frost date, which is critical because a miscalculation could kill your plants.
Inspiration and Data: Patrick at One Yard Revolution
There are similar apps out there, but the data from mine is from a YouTube gardener named Patrick Dolan. His channel is called One Yard Revolution and he’s my favorite YouTube gardener due to his philosophy of using free, local resources and using the least amount of effort for maximum yields. Patrick is willing to change his practices based on his own trials and peer reviewed research and he shares his success and failures on his channel. He transformed his backyard into a yearlong garden with raised beds, low tunnels, and a hoop house. That’s impressive since he lives in a suburb of Chicago.
A few years ago he released a similar tool, but it is build in Excel/Google Sheets and isn’t the most user friendly if you aren’t comfortable in Excel. It was supremely valuable to me, and was the main inspiration for my app.
For the location-based frost-date data, I’m using the Farmsense API data to get the nearest NOAA station and then the average last spring frost date. I chose to stay on the conservative side, using 30% probability at 36 degrees, which is the the highest temperature frost can occur.
You know I’m working on my basement and I wanted to share my thoughts on the product I’m using for the ceiling grid, CeilingLink. Generally, they have been very positive and I’d recommend it if you are in a similar situation.
What is it and who is it for?
CeilingLink is a direct-mount grid system for ceiling tiles. My basement has 7’2″ ceilings from floor to joist, so I needed something that would give me as much headroom as possible, being that I’m 6’5″. Classic drop ceiling was out of the question. I wasn’t interested in drywall for a variety of reasons: effort, cost, and access. With ceiling tiles, I can remove a few to access whatever I need to access that’s up in the ceiling. Plus, I’m not convinced that drywall looks much better than tiles. The other benefit is sound reduction, as ceiling tiles can help absorb some between the basement and the main floor upstairs. Finally, a lot of people leave the basement ceiling exposed. The primary reason we didn’t want to do this is spiders. There are a decent amount of spiderwebs in those joists and it feels warmer and cleaner having a real ceiling.
I’m a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and have been my entire life. I didn’t really get a solid appreciation and knowledge of what that meant from a historical and theological perspective until my college theology courses at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC). Through my study in coursework and research for papers, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my faith body and why we do some of the things we do. This deeper understanding includes the origin and traditions of our liturgy, as well as the concept of fellowship. More recently I’ve been thinking and reading more about why women aren’t allowed to vote or serve as voting members on boards in our church. What I found was more than I expected.
Most toilet paper holders are functional, but are frustrating. They are frustrating mostly, because they are overly complex. The other frustrating thing about traditional, spring-loaded toilet paper holders is living with people who are too lazy to replace an empty roll. The new roll just sits on top of the old one, making the entire holder useless.
Five years ago I wrote a post detailing my media server setup. The post is woefully out of date from a hardware standpoint, but only slightly out of date from a software standpoint. The endpoint of my systems is still a Roku with the Plex app, but now I have a almost three-year-old Roku 2, which is significantly faster than my old Roku HD. Currently I’d recommend the Roku Stick or Stick+.
When we moved almost 4 years ago, the old laptop I was using for a server would no longer turn on. Instead I’ve been using a low-powered Windows 8.1 HP Stream Mini desktop combined with an external hard drive. If I were to buy one today, I’d get a similar cheap PC or maybe a refurb desktop, since the HP Stream is discontinued. Since all of my media is directly played by the Roku/Plex, the computer can be wimpy since it doesn’t do any transcoding, just serving.
Ever since we bought our house, we knew we wanted to finish our basement. The basement is dry, ceilings are high (enough), and we want to maximize our living space. To facilitate the process, last summer we had our electrical panel upgraded as well as the electrical service buried (no more overhead wires!). Besides the financial impact of the electrical work, our daughter was born last May, so it wasn’t really in the cards for me to start working on the basement then.
Now is the time.
Even though I wasn’t going to start work on the basement last year, I did learn enough Sketchup to come up with some to-scale floor plans.
Since I do product reviews and lots of product research, I’m frequently posting Amazon links. To help me send better links and make me a small amount of affiliate money, I made a new Firefox and Chrome extension.
If you use it without adding any affiliate code, your purchases support me and this blog.
Based on a project I found on Github, Amazon Affiliate Linkerizer puts a button in your browser on Amazon pages. When you click it, it cleans up the link and add an affiliate code to the end. The code is customizable per the options page…otherwise it supports me with my affiliate code. If you use it without adding any affiliate code, your purchases support me and this blog.
If you want to try out this plugin, get it for Firefox or Chrome:
I could release it for Microsoft Edge, but I don’t want to pay the $25 developer fee. (My company paid the $5 developer fee for Chrome, since I had a work-related extension first.)
Every winter I get excited about gardening and get eager to start growing. A couple years ago I almost bought an Aerogarden. I didn’t because of its cost, but I resolved to learn about how it worked and if I could make one myself. As it turns out, the “Aerogarden” doesn’t actually use aeroponics, but “deep water culture” hydroponics. Not everyone agrees philosophically that we should be using hydroponics, but the science behind it is fascinating nonetheless.
Hydroponics, simply, is growing plants in a nutrient solution, without soil. There are various methods to do this, and the Aerogarden is an all-in-one consumer kit. Continue reading