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  • Breckenridge Trip 2015

    2015 - 08.17

    Our vacation this year was again in Breckenridge, Colorado. We zip lined, rafted, rode a mountain roller coaster and alpine slide. Watch the video below to see more of our trip.

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    The iPhone Business Card Case

    2015 - 07.18

    So what do you do with an old out of warranty iPhone 4S? Well, you could sell it to one of the online services like Gazelle, but they only offered me $15 for it. You could use it as an iPod, but it only has about 13 gig of storage, and that wouldn’t even hold half of my iTunes library. Or better yet, you could upcycle it into something new. I realized that the iPhone 4S is just slightly larger than a business card, so I decided to make a case to hold my cards. My goal was to make the case indistinguishable from a working iPhone, even if someone was to hold it in their hands and examine it. I didn’t want any glue or hinges showing from the outside, and all the buttons and screws should be in place. Of course, you could also use this to hide credit cards, money, keys or anything else small that you want to protect from prying eyes…

    Here’s the steps I took to create a unique Apple business card case.

    Step 1: First, get your hands on an old iPhone and remove the 2 tiny screws on both sides of the charging port at the bottom. Then you can easily slide the screen off. Keep the screws as you’ll want to glue them back in place once you’re finished. Once it’s opened, go ahead and remove everything you can from the inside. The largest piece you’ll find is the battery. Keep pulling parts out until you’ve got everything removed. Don’t remove the buttons, charging port or sim card, as you’ll want them intact when the case is completed.

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    Step 2: Once everything is removed, it’s time to use the greatest tool known to man; the Dremel. Use the Dremel to flatten and smooth out the inside of the case, removing any screws and pieces of the frame that you couldn’t remove in step 1. Test the case to be sure it will hold your business cards or valuables, and keep smoothing out the frame until you’ve got the space you need.

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    Step 3: Glue some strong circular magnets to the case at the locations marked below. Use a strong glue like Gorilla or Super glue. This takes some trial and error depending on the size of the magnets you use. I found that glueing 2 magnets to opposite corners of the case, and 1 magnet to opposite corners of the cover worked perfectly. The goal is for the cover to snap closed without any space showing. You want it to look like a regular working iPhone with no hints to what’s inside.

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    Step 4: I went ahead and added a bent paper clip to the case to keep the business cards from falling out. I decided to do this after noticing 2 screw holes at the top of the case that perfectly hold a paper clip securely in place. A little super glue and some bending should be all you need.

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    Add that’s it! Check out the video below to see the completed case. Mine holds about 6 business cards, but my cards are pretty thick. It will hold about 10 if your cards are thinner.

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    Open Mic Nights (updated frequently)

    2015 - 06.25

    I recently discovered the local open mic scene thanks to my buddy and bandmate Steve Greenberg. Open mic nights are where a band lets anyone come up and play with them for a few songs. It’s an absolute blast, as you never know what you are going to play, or who your are going to play with. We’ve seen many guitarists, bassists, drummers and harmonica players, but also a few trombones, saxophones and even a guy playing a saw. So we’ve started to head out to various venues during the week. A previous post talked about the Levee, where we played along with our band member, Vic. Tuesday night Steve and I checked out another bar in south KC called Llywelyn’s. Click below for images and videos of Steve playing a very bluesy harmonica, and me playing drums along with some very talented strangers. Keep this page bookmarked, I’ll be adding new videos here as we get them! The newest videos will be at the top of the post. Here’s a link to the OPEN MIC PLAYLIST ON YOUTUBE where you can easily watch or listen to all the open mic videos that I post.

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    Brianna’s Dance Recital 2015

    2015 - 05.24

    Brianna performed onstage with the Legacy dance academy at the Lied Center in Lawrence, Kansas. This was her 5th time onstage with Legacy and she’s been taking dance lessons from various places around town since she was two. Take a look at the pictures below (click each pic for a larger version) and watch Bree perform her 2 dances by clicking the video link at the bottom.

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    Conviction Gigs

    2015 - 05.14

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    My band, Conviction, played a couple of interesting gigs this month. We played at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center for their Stroke Fundraiser. A few of us also went to The Levee in Westport for their open mic night with the Brandon Miller Band.

    Click the pictures below to watch us play. Click the Conviction logo above to go to the band website.

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    Apple ][+ Signed by Woz!

    2015 - 03.04

    As many of you know, I tend to keep old Apple products around our house way past their usefulness. I’ve turned old machines into cases for new machines, G5s and Mac Pros into shelves and benches, hard drives and Airport cases into candy dishes, broken circuit boards into pads of paper, picture frames, coasters and even stranger things if you dig deep enough into this blog. But this time, I wanted to do something very different. I wanted to take an old iconic and personally very meaningful computer and get it signed by the creator. I started looking online to see what would be involved in trying to get Steve Wozniak to autograph my old original Apple ][+ and Apple ][e computers. I knew from the many interviews I’ve read by Woz that he loves his fans, and is usually very accommodating when asked to do things like this. After all, he did give away the original schematics for the Apple I for free to the members of the Homebrew Computer Club before Steve Jobs floated the idea of staring a company.

    After some searching I came across signedbywoz.com. This site offers the service of having Woz sign any item you want (at his discretion I imagine) for a set fee. To say Steve Wozniak is an incredibly busy guy is a huge understatement. He travels and gives lectures constantly, invests in interesting startups, plays Segway Polo, did a stint on Dancing With the Stars (I didn’t watch…I just couldn’t…), and is even looking into moving to Australia. Everyone seems to want a piece of him, and that feeling grew even more intense after his original partner, Steve Jobs passed away in 2011.

    So in early December 2014 I sent off the covers and nervously waited, hoping the postal service didn’t choose this particular package to lose track of. A few back and forth emails with his assistant followed and then, just a few weeks ago, I finally received the case covers signed by the man himself, with an included note of authenticity attached. It felt so strange and surreal to know that my Apple ][ that started me down the path of computer consulting and Apple fandom almost 40 years ago was actually in the hands of the person that invented it and started the personal computer revolution.

    Here’s me proudly holding my original Apple ][+ signed by the one and only Steve Wozniak. I sent the Apple ][e case to my cousin Dustin, owner of Mac MD Los Angeles. This is one obsolete computer that I will only be recycling into cherished wall art, hanging happily above my Powermac G5 bench. Thanks, Woz!

     

     

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    Conviction Band Blog is now LIVE

    2015 - 02.10

    Check out the blog I created for my band, Conviction. We are a 5 piece band featuring vocals, guitars, bass, percussion and harmonica. Lately we’ve been having a blast playing covers of songs such as 867-5309/Jenny, Behind The Wall of Sleep, I Don’t Wanna Be, some Tom Petty stuff and many others. Click the image below to check out the blog, and book us for an event!

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    Halloween 2014: Rush, Polygons & Keyblades

    2015 - 01.14

    This year I decided to go as myself for Halloween. No, I wasn’t just being lazy and choosing not to wear a costume, I actually created a mask of…me.

     

    I found a printable paper craft mask on the cool website Thingiverse (click here to download). After printing out the files on good thick paper and assembling it, you have a very generic looking low polygon mask. I then got some flesh colored paint, some wire for the glasses and hundreds of black, white and gray dots later, I have me. This is my go to look when using FaceTime.

    Here’s Jacob being “me” While sitting at my computer. I think my spellcheck is broken…
    My pumpkin this year was a simple and classic Rush logo from their first album.
    Broken drumsticks were added for effect.

    Jacob and I created a very lifelike Keyblade from the great Playstation 2 game Kingdom Hearts 2. We bought a wig and transformed it to look like the games’ main character Sora. Here’s a comparison, I think we did pretty well!

     

    The Upcycled Mac Pro Bench

    2015 - 01.14

    Apple's aluminum Powermac G5 / Mac Pro case is definitely a thing of beauty. The case alone can be found on eBay for as much as $200, proving that people still find this case intriguing even with all the guts removed. Apple used this same basic case design from June 23, 2003 all the way until October 22, 2013 when they introduced the new trashcan shaped Mac Pro. That's over 10 years of the same basic case design. I've used a few of them in the past as stacking cabinets to store cables, extra hard drives and other assorted tech. But after seeing this creation by Klaus Geiger on a German website, I knew I had to have one of my own.

    So I mentioned this strange project to our amazing contractors Wayne and Jill who had just finished completely remodeling our kitchen. I provided the gutted Mac Pro cases and they took care of getting some seriously gorgeous wood pieces and expertly crafted and assembled the bench.

    Wayne used 3 types of wood to create this masterpiece: African mahogany, Wenge and Padouk. He chose these specific wood types based on the natural color of the wood (absolutely no stain was used) and the cool grain detail of the pieces.

    After picking out the wood, Wayne cut and glued the pieces together, sandwiching the reddish Wenge and purple Padouk between the lighter African Mahogany. After letting the glue set, he took the piece downtown to use a special wood planer to get the piece completely smooth and the right thickness. Then he used a very specific router bit to get the edges to exactly match the tops of the Mac Pros.

    Next Jill applied many clear coats of sealant to the piece to bring out the natural colors of the wood and protect it. They then screwed the piece to the cases from the inside so absolutely no hardware is visible from the outside.

    The amazing results can be seen in the pictures below. After delivery, I installed a long strip of LED lights inside the units to illuminate them from the inside. I also used some old memory foam, plywood and an old comforter to create a soft spongy backrest to lean against while sitting on the bench.

    This unit is definitely one of a kind, so I had Wayne and Jill sign the underside of the piece for posterity.

    Do you have old Apple tech that is simply too gorgeous to throw away? Upcycle it into something new…take a look at some of the other projects on this blog (use the links on the right) to see how I created some interesting projects including iPad and MacBookPro cases, Halloween costumes, shelves and more.

    Thanks to Wayne and Jill for their hard work and expert woodworking skills!

     

    Amazing Brown Sugar Bacon Jerky

    2014 - 10.03

    Yes, you read that correctly. Brown sugar bacon jerky. If you’re a fan of bacon, then this is an amazing snack you should try. All you’ll need is some thick cut peppered bacon, tons of brown sugar, an oven and a food dehydrator. You can definitely skip the dehydrating part, but then the bacon will be much less firm and chewy, and it won’t last as long in storage. This recipe is very easy, but does take a long time (6 hours of baking/drying time) due to the very low cooking temperature and drying in the dehydrator.

    First, get yourself some good thick cut bacon. Turkey bacon works just as well. We like the nitrate-free peppered bacon at Trader Joes. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s cut pretty thick and seasoned well.

    Get a large cookie sheet, preferable with sides so nothing spills or drips into your oven. Cover the pan with a thin coat of brown sugar. Cut each strip of bacon in half, and then coat both sides with the brown sugar. While you’re getting your hands messy with sugar and bacon, pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees.

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    Cover another cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with Pam or some other non-stick spray, and place the brown sugar coated bacon strips on it, being careful to not overlap them. Bree had way too much fun doing this part.

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    Once the bacon is coated and ready, bake it in the oven for 1.5 hours at 225 degrees. Then flip the bacon strips over, and cook them for another 1.5 hours.

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    After the 3 hours in the oven, the bacon will have an amazing dark brown color and it will smell incredible. Transfer the strips (that you haven’t already eaten) to a food dehydrator, pat them with a paper towel to remove some moisture and dry them at the highest setting for about 3 more hours.

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    Check the bacon every hour or so, and flip them over while patting them with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.

    When you’re done, you should have crisp, firm and delicious candied bacon. You can store the bacon in ziplock bags in the refridgerator for up to a week, but trust me…they won’t last that long. Eat them plain, try them in a BLT or crumble them up in a salad. Ooh…I think I’m drooling…

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