Use an old cell phone as a baby monitor

Use an old cell phone as a baby monitor

When my first child was on her way I bought a fancy baby monitor. It had pan, tilt, zoom, night vision, a temperature sensor, etc etc. It did everything. It had two huge problems though: it severely degraded my wifi whenever it was on and the battery in the monitor went bad before the second baby arrived. Lame.

For my second child I switched to using an old Android. It doesn’t pan or tilt. It doesn’t have night vision. But it works, it is free, and it uses junk I already had laying around.

On the old Android I use IP Webcam. It is a free app that streams your phone’s video/audio.

On my current phone I use VLC for Android beta. It is also free, and lets me stream the audio from IP Webcam (which is all I want at night anyway). I leave it going all night so I can hear my son in case he gets up. It also makes it easy to go out and do yard work without worrying about him waking up without anyone inside to hear him.

To stream the audio on VLC, use the IP from your IP Webcam phone and add audio.wav to the end, like this: http://192.168.1.133:8080/audio.wav

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During the day, when I’m in my home office working, I can use my browser to watch/listen to him when he is down for a nap. Again, I can’t pan or tilt, but all I really care about is whether he is awake or asleep. I don’t really need pan/tilt for that.

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Add geotagging to any camera for free

Add geotagging to any camera for free

Ever since I got my DSLR, I’ve wanted to geotag my photos. Unfortunately, the GPS module for the Nikon D7000 is expensive, bulky, and has mixed reviews. Instead of using the bulky Nikon GPS unit, you can use your cell phone. This works for any brand of camera, even point and shoot models.

Synchronize the date/time

The first step is to make sure your cell phone and camera are set to the same date, time, and time zone. Syncing the time on the two devices will ensure your photos are tagged correctly.

time

Log your photo shoot

Before starting your photo shoot, start a GPS recording app, such as the free My Tracks. Wait to get a good GPS signal. Leave the app running during your entire shoot. This will track where you are with your camera.

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When you are done taking photos, save your GPS track to your computer. My Tracks makes this easy by syncing with your Google Drive. Sometimes this doesn’t work automatically and you need to choose the Export option. Open your Google Drive and download the file.

Convert your .kml to .gpx

My Tracks exports kml files. Most software expects a gpx file. To quickly and easily convert your kml to gpx, use the GPS Visualizer converter page.

Apply your track to your photos

I like to use Adobe Lightroom. If you don’t have Lightroom, you can use Pictomio for free.

In Lightroom, select the photos from your shoot in the Library section.

Go to the Map section, then load your gpx file by going to Map→Tracklog→Load Tracklog….

tracklog

Click the tracklog icon and select Auto-Tag Selected Photo.

autoapply

BAM! Your photos are now geotagged and you didn’t even have to buy anything! Yay!

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OhLife is dead, long live MyLife!

OhLife is dead, long live MyLife!

I started using OhLife, a free journal-by-email service, in October of 2011. Every morning I received an email asking me about my day and showing a snippet of my past journal entries. I just had to reply to an email in order to add an entry. I was very sad to hear, 3 years later, that they were shutting down. Fortunately a pile of OhLife clones have popped up to take its place.

My favorite is MyLife. It is free and provides an experience similar to OhLife. It runs on Google App Engine so there is little risk of the service going down in the future. Setup takes a bit of effort, but the author has provided step-by-step instructions.

MyLife is written in Python and is open source. I’m not great at Python but the code is straightforward enough that I was able to submit a bug fix. It should be pretty easy to add additional features if you’ve always had the itch to customize OhLife to fit your exact needs.

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Get Amex Offers automatically

Get Amex Offers automatically

American Express is constantly offering special deals to their card holders. For example, I’ve gotten extra cashback over the past few months for purchasing from Enterprise, Wal-Mart, Office Max, Staples, Macy’s, Panera, and Amazon. This is in addition to the cashback I normally get from using my Amex.

In order to take advantage of these deals, you have to add them to your card. This used to be a manual process, but thanks to OffersBot, it is now fully automatic. OffersBot will track new and existing promotions and make sure they are all added to your card. And best of all, the service is free!

offersbot

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Get a free .edu email address even if you aren’t a student

Get a free .edu email address even if you aren’t a student

A lot of the best deals online are only for students. To make sure you are a student, you often have to enter your .edu email address. But what if you are a student without an .edu email address? I’m always taking courses online, studying technical manuals and books, and actively learning. I feel justified in wanting the same discount that traditional students are given.

This means I have a few options: 1) go back to “real” school, or 2) use this trick to get an .edu email address from California.

If you followed the instructions at that page, you now have an .edu email address. So what to do with it? Here are a few of my favorite deals:

  1. Amazon Student gives you 50% off of your Amazon Prime membership.
  2. Adobe Creative Cloud for 60% off the retail rate for students.
  3. Camtasia Studio for 40% off the retail rate for students.
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Hide Kindle books on FatWallet

Hide Kindle books on FatWallet

I like to browse FatWallet for hot deals and free stuff. Unfortunately, some people think every free or discounted Kindle book they find should get posted to the forums because it is the most amazing thing in the universe that you can get a poorly edited book about something you don’t even care about for free on the internet. Weeding through this crazy amount of junk can be time consuming, so instead I wrote a userscript to filter out anything with “kindle book” in the title.

To use it:

  1. Get a userscript manager for your browser. Popular options include Tampermonkey for Chrome, Greasemonkey for Firefox, and GreaseKit for Safari.
  2. Go to http://www.jacoballred.com/userscripts/fatwallet-kindle.user.js. If you have your userscript manager installed then you should be prompted to install the userscript.

That is it! Whenever you visit a FatWallet Hot Deals or Free Stuff page, Kindle books will be removed from the list of posts. This userscript is also on GitHub in case anyone wants to help make it better or just wants to make their own version.

I tried posting this on FatWallet because I know I’m not the only one annoyed by the flood of Kindle books (I’ve seen dozens of complaints but FatWallet doesn’t care) but my post was removed by a moderator. Seems there were a few issues: I’m not allowed to post my own stuff (that is reasonable I suppose), and they’d rather me exclude the entire books category using the forum’s built-in features rather than just hide Kindle books using a userscript (huh?). So, according to FatWallet, if you like real books but you don’t like garbage e-books, then maybe FatWallet isn’t the right forum for you.

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