Boo-ing Your Neighbors

Boo-ing Your Neighbors

For Family Home Evening on 10/3 my family decided to “boo” a few friends. I don’t know how popular this is where you live, but where I grew up in Folsom, CA, this is the thing to do in October. Pretty much everyone I knew would get boo-ed by Halloween.

The premise is pretty simple: put together two small baskets of Halloween novelties and treats, include a sheet with instructions and a paper to put up in your window or on your door, then doorbell ditch. The recipients are then expected to repeat the procedure with two people who haven’t been boo-ed yet.

Someone has put together a very clean and nice looking site called You’ve Been Booed that provides the printouts needed for this activity. Or you could make your own.

Anyways, we had a lot of fun doing this! Becca did the first house and came back to the car with her heart pounding. She said she had never doorbell ditched before, so it was quite a rush for her. I had a little more experience, but it took several rings and some knocking before the door was opened for me, so I was a little tense, too.

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8-bit Crafts

8-bit Crafts

A long time ago, in a work place far far away, a co-worker gave me some Perler beads. They’ve been sitting in my game cupboard for years, but my wife finally found something fun for me to do with them: make re-creations of 8-bit sprites!

For my first attempt, I’ve made a fire flower from Mario. It took an hour or so, mainly because the red I thought I was digging out of the tub of mixed beads was actually a translucent pink, so I had to start over part way through.

Anyways, I think it turned out great! I think I’m going to create a 1-up mushroom next.

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Fixing the digitizer on a Samsung Rogue

Fixing the digitizer on a Samsung Rogue

My touch screen on my wife’s Samsung Rogue U960 recently stopped working. There were no cracks or other visible damage, but it didn’t recognize touches on the left third of the screen. Because the phone was designed to be used almost exclusively by touching the screen, this made the phone pretty much useless for anything other than receiving calls or calling people already in her address book. She couldn’t set alarms, browse the web, or use any of her phone’s other fun features.

Samsung Rogue Digitizer

I decided this would be a fun time to learn how to fix a broken cell phone. With the help of Google and eBay, I discovered that cell phone touch screens have something called a digitizer that lays on top of the normal LCD screen. It is thin, clear, and is what actually “captures” your touches. The LCD screen itself is just a screen. Without the digitizer, touching it will just leave smudges. Turns out my wife’s digitizer was broken.

So I ran to eBay and found a US seller that had replacement digitizers for the Samsung Rogue for only $12.99. The price was right and I enjoy not having to wait for shipping from Hong Kong, so I bought it.

The picture on the right is what arrived. No instructions. No tools. Just the digitizer. Hmm. What to do with it?

I decided step 1 had to be “rip apart my wife’s cell phone while she was in the other room so she couldn’t freak out about said ripping apart of cell phone”. So that is what I did.

It was harder than I thought it would be. The Rogue has a piece of plastic on the back that covers/surrounds the camera. It is easy to get under the edge of it at the bottom, and really really hard to get under the edge of it from the top. What I didn’t know at the time is that it can only be removed from the top, so I’m pretty surprised I didn’t break anything trying to pry it off incorrectly.

The rest of the case came off pretty easy with the help of my trusty New Haven Public Library card. It easily slipped under the case and unlatched it without breaking anything.

Eventually I got the phone fully apart, took off some screws, and had the phone in 5 or 6 pieces sitting on my desk. With some effort, I removed the old digitizer. It was glued in pretty good. I put the new digitizer in place, but it didn’t quite fit right. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the cell phone had a plastic bump that my new digitizer didn’t have a hole for. “Stupid American parts. I should have ordered from Hong Kong,” I grumbled.

So I found a razor blade and started shaving off the plastic bump. It didn’t look like it was actually needed anyway.

This is when my wife walked in. Pro tip: Don’t let your wife walk in until you are done taking a razor blade to her phone!

After a few minutes of carefully removing the plastic bump (very carefully once my wife started watching), I was able to attach the digitizer, connect it to the appropriate daughter board, and screw everything back together. I put the battery in, hit the power button, and….

IT WORKED! Woohoo! I didn’t crack the screen or lose any screws or end up with too many screws or completely break the touch screen capability. I was pretty excited. Becca was, too, because it was like getting a brand new phone for only $12.99.

So before you suffer with a broken cell phone or ditch it for new one, consider searching eBay for replacement parts and fix it yourself.

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Jumbo Jenga: It is finished!

After nearly 2 months, my jumbo Jenga set is finished! I would have finished sooner, but it kept snowing and/or being below freezing nearly every weekend for weeks.

I rubbed the finished blocks with some mineral oil to protect them stains and splitting, and it had the beneficial side effect of making them look amazing! And they conveniently fit into two promotional Windows 7 bags for easy storage.

Anyways, check out the original post if you want instructions on how to make your own!

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Lock a Deadbolt without a Key

I found this fun Instructable today that shows you how to lock a deadbolt without having the key. I can think of a few situations where this could come in handy:

  • You are at a friend’s house and they leave you home alone but forget to give you a key (or they give you the wrong one). You can’t leave the house unlocked, so that means you are stuck at home until they get back.
  • You can lock your co-worker’s or roommate’s door to confuse/anger them.

Hmm.. I suppose those are the only situations I can think of where this would be useful…

Anyways, all you need is some tape (clear packing tape works great). Take about a yard of tape and fold it in half so that only a few inches on the end are still sticky. Securely attach the sticky end to the deadbolt knob, hold on to the other end, step outside, and shut the door. Pull the tape so the knob turns. Once the door is locked, tug on the tape so it breaks off so you don’t have a strip of tape hanging out of your door.

I tried it a few minutes ago and it was very easy to do and very effective.

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Jumbo Jenga

Jumbo Jenga

My friend Joey Novak recently posted about making some giant Jenga blocks, so I thought I’d give it a shot, too.

First, I needed to know what kind of wood to buy. Jenga blocks are 0.57″ x 1″ x 3″ (height x width x length). The easiest wood to get would be either 2×4 (1.5″ x 3.5″) or 2×3 (1.5″ x 2.5″) studs. So if we upsize the Jenga blocks with a 1 to 3 ratio for the width/length, then our Jenga blocks would be either 1.5″ x 3.5″ x 10.5″ (2×4) with a height/width ratio of 0.43″ to 1″ or 1.5″ x 2.5″ x 7.5″ (2×3) with a height/width ratio of 0.6″ to 1″.

So what does all that mean? It means I should go with the 2×3 studs if I want the most  Jenga-like blocks.

Next I needed to know how much wood I needed. Jenga has 54 blocks, and since I decided to use 2×3 studs, that means I needed 405″ of lumber. Lowe’s sells 2x3x96″ studs for only $1.83 a piece, so I picked up 5 (only $9.15!), giving me the ability to make 60 jumbo Jenga blocks.

The last preparation needed was tools. I was short a few minor tools, but for a few dollars off of a gift card I got for Christmas, I ended up with the following:

  • Cordless orbital sander with P80 and P220 sandpaper
  • Cordless circular saw
  • Backsaw
  • Square
  • Clamps
  • Kitchen table chairs

Not ideal, but it works. I clamped a 2×3 to my kitchen chairs, marked the cuts using the square and a pencil, then sawed through with the circular saw. For some reason, my circular saw is just a pinch too small to cut through a 2×3, so I had to use the backsaw to finish the cuts.

Next, I used the P80 sandpaper to smooth each surface and edge, and to remove any pencil marks or markings that came on the lumber. This was a tedious task because I had to hold the sander in my lap as if it were a bench sander, and I kept running out of battery power. A corded bench sander would have made things a lot easier.

Last, a quick sand with the P220 to make each block nice and smooth so they’ll slide easily while playing Jenga.

Because of my battery issues, I only had time today to cut and sand one of my pieces of 2×3 (12 blocks), but here are the results so far:

After pulling the wrong block

A block castle with Lego knights

I’m very excited to finish the rest of the blocks! I’m going to cut the rest of the lumber tomorrow, and work on sanding it over the next few days.

Do you have any ideas for easy wood working projects? Please let me know in the comments!

Update (1-2-2010): Today I cut the other 4 studs that I bought, so now I have 60 blocks total. I still need to sand 48 of the blocks, but it is a frigid 33° F outside, and lately I’ve become a bit of a wuss when it comes to cold. Perhaps Monday or Tuesday when it warms up a little.

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