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:

2015-01-12 19.52.42

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.

Read More

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.


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.

2015-01-05 17.25.01

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….


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


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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.
Read More

Donating to charity by shopping at Amazon

Donating to charity by shopping at Amazon

Amazon has a cool program called AmazonSmile. Whenever you shop through AmazonSmile, they’ll donate 0.5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice. They have just about every charity you can think of, including the LDS church.

The prices at AmazonSmile are the same as at the normal Amazon site, but your charity will only get the donation if you use the AmazonSmile site. To make sure I’m always on the right site, I installed the Chrome Smile Always extension. It is also free, and magically changes any normal Amazon link you go to into an AmazonSmile link.

Read More

Bitcoin Faucets

Bitcoin Faucets

Need something to do while you are sick in bed? How about getting some free Bitcoins?

A Bitcoin faucet is a service that gives out tiny tiny bits of Bitcoins for free, typically 50 to 1000 satoshi at a time. A satoshi is 0.00000001 BTC, or about $0.000006557 USD (at the moment.. prices are always fluctuating), so it really isn’t much money. The owners of these services earn money by selling ad space.

To keep you from racking up the Bitcoins too fast, these services only let you earn satoshi once every 30 minutes to 24 hours.

You need at least 5500 satoshi to get paid due to Bitcoin minimum transaction size requirements, and some services require a little bit more just to make it harder to get a payout. Many faucets send micropayments to an aggregator, which then pays you when you get 5500 satoshi.

So here are a few of my favorites (some of these give me a referral bonus.. using these links won’t reduce the amount of Bitcoins you’ll get though..):

Bitcoin Zebra – If you are only going to try this once, then Bitcoin Zebra is the one to use. It lets you earn once every hour and has a Chrome extension that gives you a heads up when it is time to earn some more. They only pay out once a week, but you’ll earn more for doing less than you would with other faucets.

Bit Chest – This aggregator uses many faucets, including 8coin which gives 500 satoshi at a time. I really like this one because: A) it lets you know when you can earn more satoshi, B) it is easy to get to 5500 satoshi in a single day, and C) it pays out each night. – They have a bunch of little faucets that get aggregated into this one site. They have a full list of faucets on their homepage. They pay out daily, but it takes a LOT more work to get to the minimum 5500 payout because their faucets don’t give out much at a time.

There are PILES of faucets out there, but these are the best I’ve seen (particularly the first two).

Read More