Saturday, December 12, 2009

Theme Builder Creates Document Themes for Office 2007

I think I found this on

Windows only: Standalone application Theme Builder creates themes for Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and even Outlook emails—allowing you to create a consistent look and feel across all your documents.

Downloading the application requires using Microsoft's annoying File Transfer Manager, which usually requires Internet Explorer, and once you get past that hurdle you need to make sure that you've got the .NET Framework 3.0 and Office 2007 Interop installed—but once you've successfully navigated through all of those, the application is relatively easy to use.

You can make a copy of the themes under your Office Install -> Document Themes directory, and then open them up in the Theme Builder application to customize just about any aspect of the theme. Once you've finished, you can save them out to your documents folder and use them from any Office application by choosing the Browse option under the themes panel's drop-down menu. If you want them globally available, you can save them out to the Office installation directory where the rest of the theme files are.

The application is a bit of a pain to get going, but could be a huge timesaver for making sure all your Office documents have a consistent look. Theme Builder is a free download for Windows only.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Make Your Own Chalkboard Paint


Chalkboard paint is a childhood-recapturing tool and a great way to repurpose cruddy furniture. Finding it, and finding it in non-black colors, can be a challenge, so two different sites write up recipes for mixing your own.

Photo by Francis Bourgouin.

The Craft at Home blog has a recipe that makes any acrylic paint of your preference chalk-friendly, though darker colors are still more effective as an actual writing surface. That recipe requires powdered tile grout and glazing medium, which you can usually find at your local hardware store.

If the glazing medium is hard to get at, or you just want fewer steps, Martha Stewart's site explains how to make DIY chalkboard paint with just the tile grout. What's more, her site offers some seriously inspiring ideas on how to implement chalkboard paint in all sorts of spots around your home—we're staring somewhat jealously at the calendar-like pattern shown here.

other interesting links:

Make Custom Color Chalkboard Paint []
How To Make Your Own Chalkboard Paint [Crafts At Home via Lifehacker AU]

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I worry too much, and officially have "anxiety". I just read today, on, about how a person can use strips of paper to manage worries. However, I have had a thought that may build upon this technique. I have created a spreadsheet, with examples. Anyone is welcome to use it.

It uses the filtering (drop-down lists) feature in excel. If you get to a point where you're not seeing things you think you should see, check the data tab, and the filter funnel (or clear). Then, make sure you have only one cell selected and click on the filter funnel again. And besure to unclick "yes" in the "am I done with this worry forever" column.

Directions for inventorying worries:
  1. enter one worry per line
  2. fill out column B for every worry. for the "no"s go to step 3, and for the "yes"s go to step 6.
  3. for all the "no"s in column B, fill out column C. You can find all the "no"s by selecting the drop-down in cell B1, and select "no". Just be sure to go back and "select all on that column when you're done
  4. for all the "no"s in column C, put a "yes" in column E; then filter column E so you can't see "yes" rows - this is the same as throwing that worry away
  5. for all the "yes"s in column C, think about when you might be able to do something about it and put that info into column D (of course if you put "never" in column D, you might as well have put a "no" in column B instead - see step 4)
  6. for all the "yes"s in column B, get to work! This is where you are empowered! Do your thing! If you come back to the list at some later time and your worry was not taken care of, you'll need to see if you're still worried about it. Think about if you can do anything about it today, etc, and you're back at step 2.
Directions for using the worry list as a tickler:
  • make sure all data is showing except the "yes" entries in column E
  • click on the drop-down in column D and browse through it, selecting things that you want to focus on; things for which the date or event has passed, for instance
  • look at the the worry listed in column A and reconsider it, going back to step two in the above list

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Find the Hate Groups in Your State

Find the Hate Groups in Your State

The Southern Poverty Law Center created an interactive map, detailing the whereabouts of the 926 active hate groups in the United States.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

An Engineer’s Guide to Cat Yodeling

They've done it again! Paul and TJ from An Engineer's Guide to Cats have made another video, this time with tips on their cat yodeling technique.

Can't see the video above? Click here to watch it on the site.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Custom Printed Shower Curtains from Your Digital Photos

from unplggd:

060109curtainmain.jpg Ever wanted a shower curtain printed with a unique design or photo? Honestly, no really. But now the possibility is available via, we're pretty intrigued with the idea of doing an x-ray themed shower curtain or finding a vintage wallpaper design we like and using it fancy up our bathroom shower decor...

060109curtainmain2.jpgUsing a dye sublimation printing process, can recreate any photo in high and vibrant detail onto waterproof shower curtain fabric in a 2-4 weeks turnaround. This service seems perfect for a partnership with Flickr and/or other image hosting sites, don't you think? Any high resolution image can be used, so no camera phone or pre-megapixel cam photos alongside a policy against "images considered to be obscene, vulgar, hateful, an invasion of privacy, or otherwise objectionable" (invasion of privacy? It's my shower curtain!). Prices range from $149 for a stall size curtain and $199 for a full tub wrap around for those looking to decorate their bathroom with something uniquely their own. [via Trendhunter]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The 10 Best U.S. Cities to Live and Work


Personal finance site Kiplinger has released their annual list of the best cities in the United States to live and work. The key this year: It's all about where you can find—and keep—a good job.

(View Best Cities for Jobs in a map)

Here's the quick list:
No. 1: Huntsville, Alabama
No. 2: Albuquerque, New Mexico
No. 3: Washington D.C.
No. 4: Charlottesville, Virginia
No. 5: Athens, Georgia
No. 6: Olympia, Washington
No. 7: Madison, Wisconsin
No. 8: Austin, Texas
No. 9: Flagstaff, Arizona
No. 10: Raleigh, North Carolina
When our numbers guru, Kevin Stolarick, evaluated U.S. cities for their growth potential, he looked not just at the overall number of jobs, but also at the quality of those positions and the ability of cities to hold on to them when the economy softens.

Hit up the Kiplinger link for the full run-down, including stat sheets on each of the cities that made the top 10. If you've spent any time in the cities that made the short list, let's hear more about them—whether or not you think they belong on this list—in the comments. Meanwhile, if this year's list didn't excite you, a quick look at last year's list may provide some solid alternatives.

Best Cities: It's All About Jobs [Kiplinger]

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In defense of distraction: Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, YouTube, Facebook, endless email, and the subtle benefits of overstimulation...

something that forwarded me to:

The Internet is basically a Skinner box engineered to tap right into our deepest mechanisms of addiction. As B. F. Skinner's army of lever-pressing rats and pigeons taught us, the most irresistible reward schedule is not, counterintuitively, the one in which we're rewarded constantly but something called "variable ratio schedule," in which the rewards arrive at random. And that randomness is practically the Internet's defining feature: It dispenses its never-ending little shots of positivity—a life-changing e-mail here, a funny YouTube video there—in gloriously unpredictable cycles [more]

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


forwarded from my Aunt & Uncle:
  • Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop.
  • Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink .
  • For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer .
  • A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rollingover and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
  • If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives; then you'll be afraid to cough.
  • You only need two tools in life - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use the WD -40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
  • Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  • If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem

Daily Thought:


Friday, May 15, 2009

Study: time kids spend online not wasted after all

A large survey of studies that explore the use of the Internet by children in the second decade of their lives find that, in general, it's acting as just another social tool, while providing them new outlets for learning and creativity.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Understanding the outbreak: an influenza biology primer

from Ars Technica:companion photo for Understanding the outbreak: an influenza biology primer
Swine flu, bird flu, H1N1—tracking the influenza virus can be a confusing task, not generally made easier by the fact that most people only attempt to do so when addled by flu symptoms or in the midst of worries about a potential pandemic. We recognize that the latter appears to apply to the current situation, but we'll do our part to try to explain a bit of the biology of the virus. Putting together this explanation was made a bit challenging by the fact that anyone we could find who has detailed knowledge of the influenza virus appears to be busy actually working on the current outbreak.

On the surface: the HxNx nomenclature

Like most viruses, the currently spreading swine flu virus has a coat formed of proteins which surround the genetic material that allows the virus to hijack a cell and reproduce. These coat proteins are critical in a variety of ways: they determine which cells the virus can latch onto and infect and, being exposed, they're the things that antibodies recognize when your body generates an immune response to the virus. For the flu virus, the major coat proteins are called hemagglutinin and neuraminidase—the H and N of the commonly used nomenclature for identifying these viruses.
Click here to read the rest of this article

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Before iTunes, This is How Computers Could Play Music

042309_tf_bohemianrhapvid.jpgWe spotted this YouTube video from user bd594 embedded on Geekologie and instantly fell in love. You see, this guy has far too much time on his hands and has composed Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody using an orchestra of out-of-date technology. Come on inside to hear what an Atari 800XL on keyboards, Texas Instruments TI-99/4a on lead guitar and an HP ScanJet 3C on lead vocals sound like...

The nerd brilliant artist who created this masterpiece has this to say:
This is dedicated to all fans of Queen and hey let's not forget about Mike Myers and Dana Carvey of Wayne's World. No effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?) Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar 8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass 3.5 inch Harddrive [sic] as the gong HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 seperate [sic] times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30. I keep hearing parts of the song are out of tune. Keep in mind the scanner and floppy drive are not musical instruments. These are mechanical devices whose motors tend to drift and can cause some notes to be out of tune.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

my dog has OCD

(as if all dogs don't)

Ever since my sister brought her dog to stay with us while she and hubby travelled around the northeast in preparation for her starting Vet school (about 10 years ago?), and her dog ate the end of my dog's rawhide bone off (her dog's 10-20 lbs bigger than my 10 lb dog), my dog has protected this rawhide bone. She has to bring it to bed with her, and after dinner she has to have it on the couch with her during TV time.

WELL . . . yesterday my husband brought home new rawhide bones. Seems our dog had tried chewing on this petrified rawhide bone and didn't seem to like it. Either it tasted bad (but whenever has that stopped a dog from eating something?!) or she felt bad about chewing on what we've dubbed her "most prized possession". So he was thinking she might like a new bone to chew on.

She is so traumatized.

Now she has TWO bones to protect!! She won't even come out on the porch (which she loves) because she needs to protect these two bones. She actually went back to bed this morning so she could be with the two bones. So I brought the two bones out to the family room and put the new one with her on a chair. I'm thinking about phasing out the old one (but at this point even WE are used to it being around).

What to do, what to do . . .

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Convert PowerPoint Presentations to Video at authorStream [Sharing]


authorstream_cropped2.jpgWant to share a presentation with friends, co-workers, or the web at large without worrying about who does or doesn't have PowerPoint installed? authorStream, a free presentation sharing site, offers the same kind of embed-anywhere utility as previously-posted SlideShare, but also provides options to download presentations as MP4 video files, putting slideshows with or without audio one step away from YouTube, iPods, DVDs, or whatever format comes in handy. To work as video, presentations must have either recorded narration or rehearsed timings added in PowerPoint, which the Digital Inspiration blog explains in detail at the via link below.
AuthorStream [via Digital Inspiration]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hands on: Zoomii breathes life into Amazon's bookshelves


Miss the comfy chairs and endless aisles of knowledge your local bookstore offers? Zoomii knows the feeling, and it brings the wandering back to shopping Amazon's shelves.

Read More...,


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fizy Finds and Plays MP3s on the Web Quickly


Free music search engine and player Fizy doesn't do playlists, offer downloads, or fancy looks. What it does have is more than 75 billion MP3s in its index (supposedly), and a really fast search function.

For those moments when you're just looking to dig up a certain song and play it for friends or your nagging memory, Fizy is just about perfect. If there's a video to be found on YouTube or other sites, you can pop it open to play alongside the song, or close it down without skipping a beat. It's small, simple, fast, and it covers a lot of MP3s floating around on the web. For a more robust interface to queue up and play the web's MP3s, try Adam's own Fizy is free to use, no sign-up

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

National Anthem


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Tom Cobble
Do not let your heart be troubled, There is hope for the future........:-) Tom

-----Original Message-----
From: Robin Blankenship
This was at a Texas Tech basketball game on February 9th. The National Anthem is sung by five young girls (ages 6-8). The two young ladies on the right are six years old. The two in the middle are seven and the one on the left is eight. LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE!!! An entire arena remains completely silent throughout the song. You could hear a pin drop. Take a moment to listen to this. You will enjoy it...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Designer Cardboard Office: Not Just a Concept Anymore

I like the idea of being able to write on my walls with no repercussions . . .

031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_01.jpgOffices that look like cubicles are terrible. I know, I've worked in plenty. They always feel very cramped and getting a window is not always a blessing. If there are no drapes or shutters, you get a lot of sun. I love how new offices are coming up with new ideas for their workspaces. The cardboard office isn't something new. We've already featured one in the past. However, this is one that's actually being used right now in Amsterdam, making it really interesting. Corrugated cardboard can be made fireproof and waterproof, so health and safety aren't an issue. 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_02.jpg

031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_03.jpgNothing is a commercial creative agency from Amsterdam that was formed by Michael Jansen and Bas Korsten. They used the idea from the company name to come up with something to furnish their office. Taking nothing and turning it into something. This included creating walls, signage, beams, tables, shelving and a small set of stairs that are all made exclusively out of cardboard. 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_04.jpgThe actual design was done by Joost van Bleiswijk and Alrik Koudenburg. The walls will also double as blank canvas. Visitors are encouraged to leave their mark on the surfaces. Illustrator Fiodor Sumkin was the first to liven up Nothing's brown color scheme with some nice penmanship. Once they get bored, the studio can replace individual sections of the workspace cheaply, basically for nothing at all. Makes a lot of sense. 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_05.jpgEven though you'd think that a cardboard office would look temporary and disposable, it actually looks quite homely. Maybe it's the brown, but I've also noticed some great additions to the whole design, like a conference room and a cafeteria, which are all made out of cardboard. [via core77, photos by Joachim Baan] 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_06.jpg 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_07.jpg 031009_rg_designercardboardoffice_08.jpg MORE CARDBOARD The Incredible Cardboard Office

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Create a Color Palette from a Single Image


Colors Palette Generator turns a picture with a pleasing look into a palette of equally pleasing colors for your web site or design project.

Similar, although more sophisticated, than previously reviewed Colr, you can turn a selected image into a color scheme for your projects. You can upload any PNG, GIF or JPEG that is less than 1MB in size and Colors Palette Generator will extract colors from it. The application creates three basic palettes of the light, medium, and dark colors, as well as a grid of 49 shades from the image if you're not satisfied with the palettes it has created. Once you've got the look you like, you can export it as either a Photoshop swatches file or as a CSS stylesheet. Free to use, no sign-up required. Colors Palette Generator [via Download Squad]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Three Plants that Give You Better Indoor Air


Kamal Meattle used three just three indoor plant species to increase oxygen, filter air, and boost general health at a a New Delhi business park. You can use them, too, in any indoor environment.

Meattle's presentation at the TED 2009 conference details a large-scale success, using thousands of plants for hundreds of workers. In any living or working space, though, the three plants—Areca palm, Mother-in-law's Tongue, and a "Money Plant"—can be used to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, remove organic compounds, and generally filter and freshen the ambient air. A single person looks to need a minimum of 11 total plants, and certain climates with less sunlight could require a bit of hydroponic growing, but Meattle swears by the health, productivity, and atmosphere benefits. Check out the detailed slides from his TED talk:

How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air - TED 2009 Talk

How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air - TED 2009 via Hacks Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

Global Power Barometer

from the Washington Post:
In the 21st Century connected world, those with the greatest material power (e.g., powerful militaries, nuclear weapons or strong economies) aren't always the most powerful or successful at moving events in the way they desire. Players with less material power have learned to compensate for the imbalance in part by using smart strategies, making maximum use of the newly connected Internet world and/or forming unique alliances.