Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Consolidate your computer and TV

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

This is a great way to save on clutter and expense. We live in an apartment, so the computer is right where an entertainment center would be anyway. Rather than buying a big, heavy, expensive TV plus a big, heavy, expensive monitor, put all the cash into a nice LCD monitor. You’ll need a TV tuner card – but they can be picked up pretty cheaply now, even for good quality modern cards. Apparently software like Beyond TV is pretty cool, but most cards come with basic software included. There are HDTV / Digital TV solutions as well, but that whole story is too complicated for this Minimalist – we’ll wait another year or two before looking into it again.

But what about your laptop? Digital Media Thoughts pointed us to the amazingly small and simple Compro USB TV Tuner Stick. It looks like a USB thumb drive, but you plug it in, and it is a full TV tuner. No need for external power or an antenna. Yow. If it actually tunes in well, that looks like a pretty nice solution.

“The Joys of Clutter” – Oh, the horror!

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Loyd’s basement office sounds like my worst nightmare:

At times, it can be difficult to navigate through piles of hardware. With various PC cases littering the floor and every tabletop surface holding heat sinks, CDs, manuals, game boxes, and other assorted small hardware, the basement lab will often look like the Tasmanian Devil just whirled through.

But it’s my space, and I like it.

Hie thee to an electronics recycling service!

Tiny little dishwashers

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

Anyone know if these little Japanese dishwashers actually work? Also, does anyone know whether dishwashers really save water over hand washing, or is that an urban myth? (Via Engadget)

Baking bread today

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

We’ve started baking our own bread, mostly because it is interesting, and we use exactly the kind of flour we want; it is hard to find good premade whole wheat challah, even at Fresh Fields. RecipeZaar has a decent challah recipe we’re modifying. We make four or so loaves at once, and freeze most of the dough so we can bake it when we don’t have time to make it from scratch. So we’re trying to learn about all the different kinds of flour, and were wondering how “Unbleached wheat flour with added germ” compared nutritionally to stone ground whole wheat flour. We came across this site, which seems to go a bit overboard on getting fresh flour:

What is the solution to this problem? Ideally, one should buy wheat in sacks, grind the grain at home and quickly bake it into bread.

Um, yeah. I think that might just kill the fun a bit. We’re trying to zero in on a tasty recipe that uses a minimum number of easily available, cheap ingredients and is really healthy, yet isn’t too hard to make. We’re zeroing in, but each experiment takes a while, so it’ll be a while yet. We’ve moved the challah to half whole wheat and are trying to reduce the oil next.

This just in: long pointy knives a stabbing risk

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

Bruce Schneier points us to two articles about pointy long kitchen knives being dangerous. Now, as Bruce points out, the call to ban them is ridiculous, but his other comment is more interesting to a minimalist:

I do a lot of cooking, and have all my life. I never use a long knife to stab. I never use the point of a chef’s knife, or the point of any other long knife. I rarely stab at all, and when I do, I’m using a small utility knife or a petty knife.

Okay, then. Why are so many large knives pointy? Carving knives aren’t pointy. Bread knives aren’t pointy. I can rock my chef’s knife just as easily on a rounded end.

True, true. There are probably some situations when a big pointy knife may come in handy, but for the most part, the pointy part just scares me when I’m using a big chef’s knife. My theory: although it is of limited value, the pointy end is an extra feature. And aren’t more features always good? Well, no. Extra features have unintended consequences – everything you add to a design has a cost as well as a potential benefit. My next big kitchen knife will probably be blunt – I had just never thought about it before.

Using bats (the black flappy kind) to kill mosquitoes

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

We were really disturbed by the non-minimalism inherent in this battery-powered insect smashing tennis racket. Then in boingboing’s followup we learned that electric bug zappers can atomize all the crap (literally) stuck to the outside of whatever you smackzap, and we were really grossed out. Luckily, treehugger comes to the rescue with a much simpler solution. A bat house. Bats eat insects. Give them a friendly place to live, and they’ll eat “thousands of insects” every night. People & bats: 1 Nasty biting insects: 0.

Cat litter is darn heavy and annoying

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

We don’t have a car, and lugging cat litter home is a major hassle. Plus, it generates lots of waste, and get tracked all over our apartment. I’d heard of this before, but Cool Hunting has a blurb about a device to train your cat to use the toilet. Sound like a potentially messy and annoying process, but if you start ’em young, this would be a boon for years and years. You’ll just have to explain to houseguests that putting the seat down is very important.