I’ve already mentioned one good tool for research papers, so here’s another that might be helpful.
Most schools have a set format for their dissertations and theses. My school was the same. They provide a manual showing what they expect your formatting to be. Many people have trouble with this. You must make a meeting with a specific faculty member in the graduate school and she will take a ruler and measure your margins, and go over in extreme detail the spacing, numbering, etc. of your document. Many many people get rejected and I’ve even talked to people who pay lots of money for other people to format the documents for them. They don’t provide an exact template for any specific software, but using the google machine can help you find Microsoft Word or LaTeX tempaltes. Personally, I like LibreOffice it is completely cross-platform (works on windows, mac, and linux systems) completely free, open source, has lots of great plugins and it lives in the world between Microsoft Windows and LaTeX. It is GUI-based (WYSIWYG, visual) like Microsoft Word, but also much more powerful like LaTeX. I dislike LaTeX because it is incredibly buggy and you have to program your text documents. I program other stuff all day long, I am sick of that!
Anyway, I made my own template and write up a very detailed explanation on how to use it and my best tips and tricks for modifying the basic template if you want. I also have a chart of suggested plugins to make your papers look amazingly good and professional. Again, I used LibreOffice, so it can be used in OpenOffice as well. This is specific to my school, so be sure you double check your school’s documents to see exactly what kind of margins and page numbering they require. (Note it is in Open document Format and though I haven’t tested it, it *might* work in other programs like Microsoft Word).
Archiving family photos can be a monumental task. Scanning tons of photographs, editing them, and keeping track of what information might be on the backs of those photographs is generally an incredibly tedious process. Especially when there are hundreds or thousands of photographs to scan!
Using the GIMP scripts and plug-ins described in our earlier posts, you can easily improve your throughput when dealing with these images. This post will discuss a few things to keep in mind to help make the process even faster.
Sometimes photographs have important information written on their backs such as who the image is of, and when and where it was taken. Keeping track of which backs-of-an-image front match can be maddening if you have hundreds or thousands of archival images. Using the method described in a previous post, you can scan multiple backs at once and have them automatically separated and then use the method described in this post to combine the fronts and backs automatically in the same image side-by-side, saving you a lot of time and hassle!
I found a GIMP script online that combined and scaled multiple images. In archiving, scaling is a “four-lettered word.” I modified the script to keep the original scale and to have the options to automatically save the resulting files.
First you need to install the script. Open Gimp, and go to “Edit–> Preferences–> Folders–> Scripts.” This will show you the directory to download the following scripts to : Adams Combine.scm.
Load two images (the front and the back of a particular photograph) in GIMP. Then, select “Filters–>Archiving–>Adams Combine Images” from the top menu bar. A new window will pop up. Select which image you want on which side. You can select to automatically save the images with the settings below and to automatically close the resulting image, or you can keep the image opened for editing.
Simply go to “Filters–>Archiving–>Adams Combine.” A new window will pop up allowing you to select which image you want on the left, and on the right. You can either save the resulting combined image automatically, or you can leave it opened for editing and manual saving later. The default file type is TIFF, but you can change this if you want to reduce quality and file size. Feel free to change the default file name to match your archiving scheme. If you are saving more than one image, make sure to change the file name. The script will overwrite files with the same name without asking you about it so always enter a unique file name.
Once you click “OK” the script will work its magic. The resulting image will consist of the front and back of the two images you opened. Once this new file is saved, you can delete the originals If you want to save space.
Recently, I’ve taken it upon myself to archive some of my grandmother’s pictures of our family. Archiving photos is a daunting task for anyone who does it correctly. Hundreds of images, (many of them with important information on the back such as names and dates) need to be scanned (matching both front and back image), and cataloged in some way. I am not a person with a lot of time on my hands, so I came up with a more automated solution to archiving by modifying some GIMP plug-ins to help me with most of the tedious parts. This is the first part of a series dealing with archiving and genealogy.
For archiving scanned images of family photographs, I modified some scripts to use with Gimp to speed the process along. This post will explain how to install these scripts to the correct folders in order for them to work.
First, You need to install Gimp photo manipulation software. This is similar to photoshop, but it is free and open source. Gimp is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. Since I run Linux on my computer, I can’t easily install photoshop, and Gimp does just as well once you learn to use it. Instructions for downloading and installing Gimp can be found on their downloads page.
If you want the script to automatically attempt to straighten your individual images automatically before saving them to file, you will need to install the ‘deSkew’ plug-in. You can find which folder to install it in GIMP in a similar fashion to above “Edit–> Preferences–> Folders–> Plug-ins.” Note that this is different from the scripts path! For some reason the original host of this plug-in has disappeared, but the files are available in links in the comments of the ‘deSkew’ page of the GIMP Registry.
Linux: Download this project by clicking the “Zip” button on the GITHub page. Unzip the folder and read the install instructions from the README file. You have to make the project, but it isn’t complicated. You will need to give the resulting program executable permissions, and then copy it to your /…/gimp-2.0/plug-ins folder.
You can download the archiving scripts I modified from our GitHub Code site. You will need both of the scripts shown on the webpage. If there are multiple version, be sure to get the ones with the latest dates. Simply install these into the “scripts” folder in the gimp installation directory as shown in the video.
This video explains where and how to install all of these files:
Currently, NASA allows or direct donations however, as you can see in the next link, it is complicated to figure out to whom make the check out and mail to.
I think we should campaign to get NASA listed on a great site called Pay.gov. Pay.gov allows everyday people to donate directly to United States government agencies. One example is to help pay down the national debt. <via NPR>
By making it easier for citizens to donate to NASA, we won’t raise enough funds for a mission to Mars, but even if a conservative estimate of 1% of working Americans (134.8 million people according to wolfram alpha) donate just 10 each, we would have we would have 134,800,000 * 1% * $10 = $13.48 million dollars. That’s not a lot compared to the cost of a space mission, but it is a small help to a struggling agency that should be the jewel in the crown of America. NASA has generated a good return for investment in the past and there is no question that investment in science and technology helps strengthen our nation’s economy and morale which is needed in this time of economic uncertainty.
Moreover, an investment in NASA is an investment in the future of our nation in terms of future engineers and scientists. NASA has achieved some of the greatest feats ever accomplished in the history of mankind. Landing men on the moon, as well as increasing our understanding of our place in the universe with missions like the Mars rovers, a multitude of space telescopes, and planetary probes have all served as inspiration for people who strive to be the best the world has to offer. They are inspired to pursue man’s long passion for exploration and curiosity.
NASA has helped develop technologies that improve and even save lives every day such as MRI machines, and many other fantastic technologies. This neat site lists a new innovation from NASA every time you refresh the page. NASA has a positive impact on the world as a whole. It should be funded as such.
Lets get NASA listed on Pay.gov, not because it is easy, but because it is worth the effort! The way to do it is to get this post seen by someone who knows someone in charge at NASA who can suggest it to them.
A few years ago, we got a deal on some low-end recreational (Old town Otter, now replaced by the Old town Heron model) kayaks. Instead of opting for the model with all the bells and whistles, we got the base models. For years we were fine with them paddling on flat water (lakes and such). We’ve been using the kayaks a lot lately, and getting more into small rapids (in which foot braces are incredibly helpful).
I researched online for the best foot braces out there. The Old Town foot brace kit is $50! That price is ridiculous. I settled on Harmony Slidelock foot braces. Everywhere I could find them online they were $33 per set. Just by chance, a friend of mine flew to Florida for work and happened into a great kayak outfitter store, Canoe Country. He was able to get me the exact same Harmony foot braces for $16 per set– half price! They have great prices on dry bags too. I had to buy some neoprene washers from the hardware store, but they were very cheap. Overall It was a great buy.
Once I got the foot brace kits, I had to figure out how to mount them in the kayaks. The first step was to sit in the kayak and hold the braces against my feet to see what felt comfortable. Remember to wear your water shoes and life-preserver during this step so the braces will be the correct distance. I neglected to do this. Mounting position isn’t critical since the braces are adjustable, but try to at least keep them even with one another.
I mounted the braces by looking at pics online of my kayak model with foot braces and tried to use a little math to figure out the distances from major features on the kayak. I measured where I wanted them to go, and drilled a 3/8” hole in the kayak. This was worrisome for me because I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I don’t want to ugly up my boat with a bunch of holes in the wrong place, etc. Drilling was very easy. The Otters are made out of a single layer linear polyethylenethat machines like butter, though it is very strong and generally deflects anything that might try to scratch it. I suggest using a knife to cut a small starting hole before using the drill bit to prevent it from wandering. I should have angled the drill to be perpendicular with the mounting hole on the foot brace, but I didn’t think about that until later. Once the first hole was drilled, I screwed in the first screw just until I could feel it penetrate the inside a little. On the inside, I placed the neoprene washer on the end of the screw before aligning the mounting hole of the foot brace. From the outside to the inside, it is mounted like the image below. This will keep the boat water tight.
To align the second hole, I held the brace up inside the boat to the approximate place I wanted it to be, then used a bright laser pointer from the inside of the boat to help me find where to drill the second hole (this was my friend Daniel’s genius idea). It worked great! The foot brace needs to bend a bit to be able to screw tightly to the side of the boat, so don’t worry about that when installing them. After the first brace was installed, the second one went in much quicker. We just mirrored the measurements and it was a breeze.
After installing them on my boat, it was time to install the braces on Jessica’s boat. Now, this wasn’t visible on mine, but her kayak had some spots from the mold that shows where the standard foot braces should be mounted. These holes didn’t match up with the new braces I got, so I just centered my screw holes to be along a line that connected the visible dots on the boat. Once again, I drilled the lower hole and screwed that in (with the neoprene washer) and used the laser to help me find the correct spot for the second hole.
The next day, we went on a two-day kayaking/camping trip. We paddles 16 miles down the Uwharrie river! Those foot braces made navigating the rapids a breeze and increased the overall comfort of the overall trip. The next step will be to add a seat pad and maybe even some knee padding. Future plan also include kayak sails, and a keel of some type as well. Keep checking for updates on trips as well.
Dick’s Sporting goods has Coleman brand cockpit covers and spray skirts on clearence for what seems to be the Coleman Rebel. We picked up two cockpit covers for $5 each and two medium spray skirts for $5 and $15 from different locations. These don’t seem to be available anywhere online, and you can’t really call store to check for them but get them if you can! They fit our Old Town Otters perfectly. These Spray skirts feel a bit cheap and aren’t made for hardcore kayaking, but at the very least they keep the paddle drips out of the cockpit and when they start to fall apart we can make our own using them as a pattern. The cockpit covers seem to be of a slightly better quality and do the job of keeping creepy crawlies out of the kayaks while in storage.
So what is a transit anyway? A transit is when an object like an interior planet (one closer to the sun than the Earth) crosses in front of the sun that is visible to the Earth. This is one of the ways we can spot planets around other stars too. If we can watch the star long enough, we might see a dip in the star’s intensity, which might mean a planet got between us and that star. In fact, by looking at the different wavelengths of light we receive during one of these dips of intensity, we can determine the components of the atmosphere of that planet! Science is amazing right!?
Anyway, back to the phenomena at hand; the transit of Venus…
For the longest time, we’ve wanted some kind of light above the sink in our kitchen. We finally settled on a simple DIY solution to this problem using the IKEA Hemma cord set. The cord set comes with a long electrical wire that has a normal 2-prong plug on one end, and a light socket on the other. The light socket has a removable screw piece to allow you to attach a lamp shade. The screw piece holds the shade securely onto the light socket end of the cord. The cord itself is quite strong and can easily handle a glass shade hanging from it.
The cord set comes with an open eye hook, but it didn’t work in our situation because there was no stud in the ceiling where we wanted to hang the light. We ended up buying a hanging plant hook kit. We had to modify the hook slightly because the plastic wire hanger that came with the Hemma was too small to fit over the end of the planter hook.
To fix this, I simply cut the end off of the hook with a small hacksaw. The metal was very soft and this took only seconds. If you don’t have a hacksaw, you could possibly use heavy duty wire cutters to cut the end off.
These hanging kits are designed to hold hanging planters which are pretty heavy and come with the parts to install on either a stud or directly into drywall. The drywall anchor is a spring toggle bolt, which is capable of hanging a lot of weight. This is a bit overkill for this project, but it doesn’t hurt. For other projects, you may want to check out which kind of drywall anchor would be right for you. To install this toggle bolt, I used a half-inch spade drill bit to drill a hole in the ceiling large enough to accept the toggle bolt when it is folded.
We planned to power the light using a power socket under the kitchen cabinets by the sink but we didn’t want the plug just hanging down from the ceiling for two reasons; 1) Because it is unsightly and 2) because the Hemma wire was several feet too long. What we decided to do was to run the wire inside our cabinets and leave the extra wire on top of the cabinet. To do this, we used a larger drill bit to drill a hole bottom shelf and the top of the cabinets as close to the back corner as possible.
We threaded the wire through the holes and tied a knot just before the bottom hole leaving enough on the other side to reach the plug under the cabinets. This knot should prevent any extra wire from coming through the hole.
We got a shade from a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $2.00. These stores are great because they have a wide variety of random construction pieces and furniture for great prices and the money goes to help Habitat for Humanity. The particular share we got was a bit too big to fit on the screw part of the hemma, so I filed down some of the plastic on the hemma’s light socket to make some room. I was only able to thread a couple of threads on the socket with the screw piece, but that was plenty to hold the shade.
All in all, the IKEA Hemma proved to be a great solution for us. There are tons of really great examples out there using it as well. It allows you to be creative and still coming up with a professional look. If you have used the Hemma for a DIY lighting project, we’d love to see what you did! Leave us a comment with info and a link.