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Shovel Part Duex by William

shvl_008So, I woke up to snow this morning. I sat inside and drank my crappy coffee. Yea, I not sure on that one still, as I posted earlier. Anyways, It's still just as crappy, I have half a cold cup left on the desk here. Anyways, I needed to run into town to take back some cans and get some frosting for the cake I made. German Chocolate if your wondering. I did not have enough to make it the way I wanted, and a second can ended up not being enough either. Oh Ya, back to the topic. This is an after picture of the shoveling and coming home, cause, well I didn't plan on writing this article before I shoveled.

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Turns out ole blue here is broke again! Right in the middle. I contemplated after a bit of shoveling with it to get back in the house. I used a different shovel to shovel because blue here sits in the back of my truck all the time. I must have set something on it to break it. I thought I heard a crunch the other night. So I pushed the snow away back up to the house here, and went assembled to team!


Grabbed an extra battery too as you can see for my 14.4V Hitachi Impact drill. It's been out in the cold for a while, sometimes they just don't last, but the drill impressed me with full power! Snap or zip ties, whichever you prefer to call them, or even cable ties for you fancy people. Some drill bits, and a shovel! I brought in two sizes of ties, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet.

I started checking over the shovel and decided I wanted to upgrade it a little. The top part where the handle comes in was starting to look a little broke. Using a steak knife, yes I know that seems weird, but I forgot the nippers, I cut the cable ties I wanted to replace and started drilling out the holes, and drilling the new holes as well.


You can see I have something stuck in there up at the top. The plastic was a little out of place so I used what I had on hand, which was a butter knife, to pop it back in, then just left it in there while the plastic warmed up a bit more. People really raged on me about leaving the tails on the zip ties when I originally did this, saying it looks tacky, but it's all about function, not form. I also got chastised about putting the snaps to the inside, not the back. You can see on the right side where the large tie is, there used to be 2 or 3 ties in front of that one that wore off quickly. This large tie was actually loose, so because I had left the tail on there, I was able to tighten it up easily in the end when I had everything ready to go.

shvl_004You can see here that I Kris-Crossed them. I'm not sure if this will help or not, but seems logical to me. I added all new large ties at the top by the handle. I really am excited this shovel is still lasting so long, So I am deciding to give it a little TLC with the tie upgrades.




There is a fish fry at the neighbors tonight, so I'm a bit distracted by that. Hope I didn't go to crazy on you guys with this one. Might be some beer drinking and pool playing going on, I have to keep on my game.  At least I got this all fixed.  Hope you like new format I'm trying out.

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Here is that final product for you. Since the ties are getting a bit outa hand, I sniped the tails off but left some behind incase I needed to adjust them later on. You can see how they look here on the bottom as well. I'm going to head out here in a few minutes and give her a trial run, or I might play a game of cribbage. It's seriously like 15 outside, I think I'm going to play cribbage.

Keep your stick on the ice.

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Salt and Vinegar by William


So, I was in the chip isle over at the soooper market, and I decided to grab some of my fav chips. Cape Cod - Sea Salt and Vinegar. I really dig the kettle-cooked style chip. They have a good snap, and generally are a bit thicker and their grease content seems … better to me. More licking of the salt off my fingers instead of wiping off the left over oil.


Well, I ran into a problem. Meijer advertising caught my eye. I'm a sucker for blue products. This one is one of my fav shades of blue! We ran into another problem here too, I wanted to stick the new chips on the left here and the text on the right, but it didn't work so hot. so this is what you get. heh. I could probably pimp out some tables and all that, but. Were going for the content here, not the game, content, were talking bout content. Which is what we are comparing! I decided to grab these chips, they had all the right things on the lable; Kettle Cooked, which is so bravely displayed, and salt and vinegar. The only bummer is it wasn't sea salt like the cape cod chips, which I remind you again, are my favorite.

Having ate before I purchased the chips, and then ate again when I got home, I didn't bust into either of these bags till the next day when I decided I had to see what the Meijer brand chips were all about. They had crunch, they had salt, they had vinegar, they were kettle cooked, everything their label had dragged me to them. They were delicious.


I managed to get a picture too. The hockey game was good with the chips. Unfortunately, the whole bag disappeared somehow. This cup of coffee really isn't that great. Blah. Anywho. These chips seemed a bit more thick then the cape cod chips. They had a bit more crunch then the cape cod as well. Almost to hard. They disappeared though, like I said, in one setting. I kind of screwed up there, I couldn't sit down and compare them to each other.


Then came the Cape Cod chips. Yes, it is the same picture. I am a little low on photo content on this article, so I'm just doubling up. These buggers had a partner in crime this night. We were watching the Wings play, so it was brewski time.


I was enjoying a great Keystone Light tonight with my Cape Cod chips, which also disappeared in one setting. You can always taste the great salt purity of the sea salt in the Cape Cod chips, they really touch me in my mouth, make it water, and I washed it down with the great taste of Keystone Light. (Yes, I want you to send me cases of beer Coors brewing company!) Oh, I should probably inform you that the "Wings" I'm referring to are our Detroit Red Wings, Michigan's NHL Hockey team, and defending Stanley Cup Champions. Booya! Actually, they lost in overtime this night against the Dallas Stars. It was a great game! Keystone Light drinkin, Cape Cod eatin worthy!

If you really like Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips like I do, the Meijer brand chips are quite comparable. I will not declare a winner because I really liked the new chips. They just didn't have sea salt, which made more of a generic taste compared to the Cape Cod chips. I imagine that the Meijer chips were cheaper as well. I just found the recipt! 3.29$ for the Cape Cod chips, and on sale I got the Meijer's chips which were 2.49, for 1.89. Cheep! You can almost buy 2 bags for the price of 1 Cape Cod bag! While if quantity is your goal, I guess this is a good thing. But Meijer's needs to step up the salt to sea salt to get rid of that generic salt and vinegar taste the chips have. Think of a salt and vinegar Lays, but just kettle cooked with a better quality potato and thicker. Same taste. Well I guess I'll declare a winner. I just kinda typed out how I felt, and it appears that Cape Cod is still my fav for Salt and Vinegar chips! I am sure I will purchase the Meijer's brand chips again though, they are still good chips.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

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Lenovo Ideapad S10 (20015) Netbook Review by Brett


Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy! UPS has found the midnightmods.com secret H.Q. again and delivered a 16”x9”x12” cardboard crusted, foam filled, package of pure intrigue, provided by our friends at Newegg.com. ‘What’s inside?’ you ask. Boy, you just skipped right over the title of this post and went straight to the pictures didn’t you?

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It’s another box! Inside is Lenovo’s new Netbook, the Ideapad S10. First thing we gotta do before turning it on? That’s right- rip it open.

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This Netbook has a 160GB SATA hard drive and 1GB of ram. First thing you’ll notice is half of that included ram is onboard. I’m not super excited by that. It’s a fact of life, RAM will go bad. I don’t want to have to break out the soldering iron when it happens. I’ll let it slide for now, lets continue exploring.

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Standard Norton Trial, MSN toolbar, and other garbageware installed. I appreciate the extra partition with the folder labeled ‘Drivers’ with folders inside labeled for each device. Made formatting it easy. I burned the folder to a CD (about 650mb) and reinstalled XP Home. Tons of boot options in the BIOS and you know how I love options.

CIMG0578 The Lineup: HP/Compaq l2000, Lenovo S10, Asus EEE 4G

So, how does it stack up against the ASUS EEE 4G? As you can see the footprint is slightly bigger to accommodate that nice 10” screen. We’ve got two separate buttons (that have a good feel) on the touchpad vs. the one stiff one on the EEEPC that rocked back and forth. The slightly larger keyboard is easier for me to type on and it too feels right.

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We lost a USB port, bringing us down to two, but gained an ExpressCard 34 slot. The USB ports number one on each side. This could potentially be a problem with required devices like external optical drives and hard drives that are powered solely by the USB ports and use short jumper cables that take up two adjacent ports. Thankfully though, due to the support of new USB standards, I was able to draw enough from one port to power my external drives and ditch the silly Y cable. The forward firing speakers in the Lenovo also sound a bit better than the monitor mounted EEE speakers.

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The power jack is located on the side with the new Lenovo. A smart move in my opinion. Seems like a better, safer place for it.

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Sadly, there were no big innovations on the power supply. Still looks like a mini brick from a full size laptop. Plenty of cord though. 20v and 2A, that’s a lot of power for a small Netbook. I think ASUS had it right the first time. The EEE AC adapter looks like a Cell Phone charger for goodness sake! Granted the power requirements on the EEE are only 9v, 2A.

CIMG0602 Before SkypeHQ Hack, Plenty of Wierd lines and such.

I must admit, the Atom processor is nice. I thought the EEE was fast enough, but as soon as I started playing with the S10, I could feel the power of the new CPU. I was holding on to some hope that the 1.3MP camera included with the S10 would be a nice one. Unfortunately, it’s just a cheap BisonCAM similar if not exactly the same as the EEEPC. The SkypeHQ hack helped the otherwise horrible video quality in Skype.

Given the onboard ram, the cheap webcam, and the power supply- it sure isn’t anything that’d stop me from buying one. The sub $400 price tag more than makes up for anything I was able to find wrong with it. Overall, it seems to be the happy medium I was looking for between hard to use tiny Netbook and hard to carry full size laptop.

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Tools of the Trade - Part 1 by William

A lot of you might be wondering, "how the heck do you guys do all this stuff!!!!" Well, it's pretty simple some days, but other days we really go crazy.

The Basics

Lets start out with the basics. Both of us use these tools essentially. Maybe different forms of them, but its the basic concept. Brett here has provided us with a picture of them all NIB!! (new in box for you newbies) I'll list them all off for you.


  • Heat Gun
  • Soldering Iron
  • Soldering Iron w/ Sucker
  • Solder
  • Picks
  • Rosin
  • Solder Wick
  • Tip Tinner / Cleaner

These are the basic tools we use in modifications. Not always for everything, but most modifications involve soldering. There are many different soldering irons and solder. 60/40 lead/tin solder is pretty common. Figuring out which one works best for you might take some trail and error though. Brett like's to use a big ole 45 watt iron, while I use an 18 watt. He's just compensating…… Naw, really, it is really personal preference. The difference is he can heat up larger components easily while that is not as easy for me to do. I generally do really fine soldering or wire soldering, so the larger caliber is not necessary in my case.

What is this other stuff? Wick, rosin, picks, tinning block? Rosin is usually in the solder, but rosin helps pull the solder to the components. It is useful with components that are giving you trouble, or are not as easily soldered as other things. The wick and the sucker are for cleaning up components for soldering if there is left over solder on the board or part. Do not use solder wick unless you know what you are doing!!! I can not stress this more. Wick will ruin components on boards if not used properly!!!! I don't want emails from you about how you sucked solder out of the layered board your soldering on because you used solder wick. The picks are for .. well picking. They are handy for opening up component holes, or, well whatever you can come up with honestly. I usually use a screw driver, I do not have a pick set, but I have a lot of micro-drivers. I will talk about screw drivers in Part 2.


Pliers and hemostats are great tools as well. I use my hemostats all the time to fish out parts or to hold things together, hold parts in place to solder, I also use them as a heat sync while soldering. That's info for a possible soldering lesson however.

Pictured here is also a pair of helping hands, which assist in soldering by holding parts together or just holding parts for you, wire, wire, more wire, clips, box cutters, Volt/Ohm meter, various adapters and such. Screws. The works, these would be most of the basic tools used by a person doing basic mods, or just repairs.  Oh don't forget about tape, that's important stuff too. These are just some basics though, there are many more tools then displayed here.

And no, we are not shooting up while modding out. The syringe is for oil. Using a syringe and needle can help you oil hard to get at parts with just that drop of oil they need, or oil a fan by pushing the needle though the rubber stopper at the oil point to give it a quick squirt. Thankfully I work with animals, so I was easily able to get these for Brett and I to use. I believe that the needle in the picture is an 8 gauge needle. I do not remember, he's been using it for over 2 years.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - Screwdrivers!!!!!

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How to Force Skype to use ‘High Quality’ Mode with Any Webcam by Brett

If you’ve experienced the new ‘High Quality’ video mode Skype has introduced in their latest versions, then you have no doubt been impressed. Chances are also good yourself or the person on the other end of your call bought a new Logitech 2 Megapixel camera to get this new 640x480 video quality. Wait? Is that right? My 5 year old Quickcam supports 640x480- what gives?

Okay, so maybe you might not want to use that old Quickcam, but at the very least, I own tons of Logitech 1.3MP cameras and I have a super-duper CPU- I want HQ!

Fear not. It can be had and you don’t even have to mess around with editing your configuration files manually thanks to the fine folks at Nodewave.

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Simply download the software and follow the instructions listed on the page and you’ll be up and running in no time. Even better, it’s WTFPL licensed software. Rock on guys, you are my hero.

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Just from my personal experience installing the required .Net files here, this part takes some time. Don’t be alarmed that it doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Just give it a few minutes, it’ll finish.

I don’t have anything against the new 2MP cameras like the Logitech Orbit AF- fact is they are great cameras. I would suggest picking one up next time you are in the market for a webcam, but I wouldn’t go out and buy one just to get a resolution my camera already supports.

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