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Great Way to Organize Bulk Spices

Spice JarsHave you ever wanted to organize your spices and dried herbs better? The grocery store containers don’t just cut it – they are expensive and not uniform in size, making it difficult to organize. Special spice racks and jars aren’t very flexible and usually don’t provide enough jars or storage.

So what’s the solution? This how-to over at Instructables provides it. The author simply re-uses the small glass bottles that many popular drinks come in. Featured is the same bottle that piles up at our house – Starbucks Frappuccino. It is the perfect size for spices – not too small, not too large. You can probably find other drink bottles that work as well. The Instructable goes even further by coming up with an elegant and permanent means of labeling the bottles as well – etching the names into the side of the glass itself. The author uses a lettering stencil and which is a glass etching cream. It looks fast and simple to do.

You can go hog wild with this idea. In addition to organizing and beautifying your heretofore haphazard spice rack/cabinet, you could make great Christmas gifts or even sell them on Etsy or at craft shows.… Read the rest

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How to Insert Code into Your WordPress Blog

If you do any coding whatsoever – either for a website, your blog or an Arduino, you have seen code blocks in a web page. Every now and then I need to do the same in this website. My first thought was – this is WordPress, the most popular blogging software in the world. The functionality I need is either built-in or a plug-in is readily available. While I found that belief to be true, it was not nearly as easy as I had expected it to be. Instead of readily finding a quick and simple solution, I found a lot of confusing and non-working ideas and articles. I have put together what I consider a simple and straightforward solution which I will detail here. It requires two plugins and is a WYSIWYG implementation.

Fixing TinyMCE

The first thing you must do is to make some changes to the default TinyMCE configuration. This is the editor called Visual in your WordPress admin page. This is easily done with a very safe plugin called Visual Code Editor. This plugin basically facilitates writing code in the TinyMCE editor. Some of its more necessary features are:

  • Adds <pre> and <code> to block
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Are Boy Scouts Anti-Makers?


I was recently reading an article about soda-can stoves and was dismayed to discover that the Boy Scouts are more concerned about safety at all costs instead of providing a means for boys to be ready for any contingency. Despite the project depicted in the picture, the article states:

The Boy Scouts of America now prohibits “equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning ‘can’ stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed.”

While I am not opposed to safe practices, our society has become such a worshiper of safety and security that we have become slaves of our current corporatocracy. The Boy Scouts prohibition of handcrafting such simple alcohol stoves in just another example of this lunacy. This type of thinking is exactly the kind that ProvideYourOwn opposes.

We want people, especially boys, to make their own stuff. While we don’t quite go as far as the tongue in cheek quip over at Make magazine – “poke your eye out”, we come pretty close. We don’t advocate avoiding risk, only unnecessary and foolish risks. We want people to become as self-sufficient as … Read the rest

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Cheap Alternative for Hard to Find CDS Light Sensor

CdS (Cadmium Sulfide) photo-resistors are commonly used for detecting light levels. Their resistance varies considerably depending on the intensity of light striking them. They are common, fairly cheap and easy to use. So what’s the problem? They are becoming hard to find. The reason is because of the RoHS directive. Since CdS cells contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, this important component is no longer stocked by major electronics distributors. The good news is that not only is there an excellent alternative, but it is more versatile and vastly cheaper.

If you guessed photo-diode you are close, but even better is the humble LED. If you are building an analog circuit, then you will be limited to photo-diodes and photo-transistors due to their greater sensitivity. If, however, you are building a micro-controller based circuit such as a PIC or Arduino, then you can use a simple LED to achieve the same end and even more.

Photo-diodes and LEDs

Both of these devices are essentially the same. Both are diodes enclosed in a translucent case. They will both permit a small amount of reverse current to flow through them when they are reversed biased. The difference is that the photo-diode … Read the rest

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