How to cut corners on baseboards by not cutting corners

Cutting baseboards can be tricky. Rooms are rarely perfectly square, so just cutting baseboards at 45-degree angles on the ends doesn’t usually yield a perfect corner. So instead you usually have to fit the pieces into the corner, trace the outline of one onto the other, then trace the angle onto the top and bottom, then cut the outline with a coping saw–at the correct angle.

But what if I told you that you didn’t have to?

Read more

Replacing a Memopad HD7 screen

It probably was just a matter of time, but one of my sons dropped his Asus Memopad HD 7 and cracked the digitizer assembly. What we usually call the screen actually sits behind the breakable piece of glass, and more often than not, it’s the glass digitizer that breaks. I left it that way for a while, but once the screen cracks, the cracks tend to spread, and eventually the tablet will get to a point where it’s unresponsive.

Replacement digitizers are available on Ebay. Note the exact model number of your tablet (my kids have ME173Xs, so here’s an ME173X screen) because they aren’t all interchangeable. The part costs around $20. It took me about three hours to replace because it was my first one. If I did this every day I could probably do it in 30 minutes, and I’m guessing if I have to do another–ideally I won’t–it will take an hour or so.

Read more

A reasonably cheap fix for a Samsung LN-S2338W LCD TV

Last year I got a Samsung LN-S2338W 23″ LCD TV at an insanely low price. The catch was that it didn’t behave very well–the buttons didn’t always work, and the TV liked to turn itself off randomly, or sometimes it even turned itself on.

It wasn’t haunted–it needed a power supply. Samsung TVs of this era had a recall due to defective capacitors in their power supplies, but either this one never got fixed, or wasn’t fixed completely. But it’s not too difficult to fix it yourself.

Read more

How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

How to open an Asus Memo Pad 7 HD and fix the battery

My son’s Asus Memopad 7 HD would not power up or charge, and my earlier non-invasive solution wouldn’t fix it. Here’s how I opened it up to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

Always try holding the power button and volume down button first because that’s easier (see the link above for details), but if that doesn’t work, proceed to open the case.

While you’re in there, you can also fix an issue that may be causing the power or volume buttons to be hard to press or malfunction entirely. Dropping the tablet a lot makes this happen. If you have young children, you probably understand.

Another malady these tablets can develop is a battery with a question mark when charging. This will sometimes fix that issue as well.

Read more

Creative sourcing for O and S scale train layout figures

Hobby shops frequently carry a decent selection of figures for O and S gauge layouts, but if you look at the magazines long enough, you start to see almost all of them have the same figures–and they’re probably the same figures the shop near you sells as well.

There are ways to get a better variety of figures so your layout can have something distinctive about it–and the good news is you can save some money doing it as well.

Read more

Tips for using Dept. 56 and Lemax-type buildings with Lionel trains

A frequent question I see regards the proper scale of snow village-type buildings, like Department 56 and Lemax, and whether they’re suitable for use with Lionel electric trains.

The answer is that their scale varies, but the buildings work very effectively with traditional Lionel trains, or, for that matter, 1:64 S scale American Flyer trains. Many hobbyists have built elaborate winter-themed layouts using these buildings. Typically the scale runs from anywhere from 1:64 to 1:48, with lots of selective compression to make the buildings fit an approximate footprint. The very same thing is true of the Lionel trains of the 1950s, so, intentional or not, they end up being a pretty good match.

The figures sold with these buildings, on the other hand, tend to be much larger–very close to 1:24 scale. This discrepancy bothers some people more than others.

Read more

Macs aren’t the only computers that last forever

In the midst of Microsoft reminding everyone that Windows XP’s doomsday is less than a month away, Apple quietly announced that Mac OS 10.6’s doomsday was sometime last year, and no more security updates would be forthcoming for Snow Leopard.

That led to this piece about why anyone would still want to run Snow Leopard. Well, there are reasons for it–and for that matter, there are reasons why they would want/need to step back to 10.5 (Leopard). I don’t disagree with that part at all, but I do disagree with the point at the end, where he says that if you want a computer that lasts a long time, you have to buy a Mac.

Let me remind you that Microsoft is sending out reminders to people that it’s time to migrate off an operating system that hasn’t been generally available on new consumer PCs since 2007. Read more

How I fixed a Lionel RW transformer

How I fixed a Lionel RW transformer
Lionel RW
The Lionel RW transformer, produced from 1948 to 1954, is one of Lionel’s larger single-throttle transformers.

I had a Lionel RW transformer that I bought nearly 10 years ago, at one of my first estate sales. I’m sure I remember using it after I bought it, but it was far from in working order when I found it this time. The accessory posts all showed voltage, but the critical A and B posts showed zero volts when connected to the U post, no matter how I turned up the handle. So while the transformer could power accessories, I couldn’t run a train off it using the variable output.

And I was uncomfortable using it without knowing exactly why part of it wasn’t working.

Fixing turned out to be easy, however.

Read more

Speed up Android with these six tips

Speed up Android with these six tips

I’ve talked before about how to disable animation in Cyanogenmod 10.x, but I’ve done a few other things to conserve some scarce system resources on my gigahertz-ish, half-gig Nook Color. If you’re running Cyanogenmod on a phone that’s a couple of years old, these tricks can help you too. Here are some tricks to speed up Android. Read more

No, this doesn’t mean Ubuntu and Linux are giving up

This week, Mark Shuttleworth closed the longstanding Ubuntu bug #1, which simply read, “Microsoft has majority market share.” Because Microsoft didn’t lose its market share lead to Ubuntu, or Red Hat, or some other conventional Linux distribution, some people, including John C. Dvorak, are interpreting this as some kind of surrender.

I don’t see it as surrender at all. Microsoft’s dominant position, which seemed invincible in 2004 when Shuttleworth opened that bug, is slipping away. They still dominate PCs, but PCs as we know it are a shrinking part of the overall computing landscape, and the growth is all happening elsewhere.

I have (or at least had) a reputation as a Microsoft hater. That’s a vast oversimplification. I’m not anti-Microsoft. I’m pro-competition. I’m also pro-Amiga, and I’ll go to my grave maintaining that the death of Amiga set the industry back 20 years. I have Windows and Linux boxes at home, my wife has (believe it or not) an Ipad, and at work I’m more comfortable administering Linux than Windows right now, which seems a bit strange, especially considering it’s a Red Hat derivative and I haven’t touched Red Hat in what seems like 400 years.

What Shuttleworth is acknowledging is that we have something other than a duopoly again, for the first time in more than 20 years, and the industry is innovating and interesting again. Read more