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What the Heck is Sugru?

JasonC —  December 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Every once in a while I’ll come across something new as I’m looking for a solution to a problem.

This is one of those cases and I thought I’d share my experience with you.

Sugru – self-setting rubber for flexible repairs

What is this stuff and what can you do with it? Sugru is a really cool material that comes in small packets. You can shape it

with your fingers (or with tools) into just about any shape and then as it “cures” with air contact over the next 24 hours, it sets permanently to your shape, but remains flexible. It is silicone-based, so it is quite heat-resistant as well. It is also insulating like rubber and silicone, so it has a lot of potential uses.

I bought some Sugru about a year ago (along with some InstaMorph) on Amazon.com with the intent of repairing some Ray-Ban sports sunglasses that I wear to play tennis. These sunglasses have a place where they rest on your nose which is made of rubber, but one side had come off and I lost it. I thought Sugru or Instamorph would be reasonable materials to shape a replacement part. Plus it’s inexpensive stuff. Today I’ve been inspired to go ahead and make that repair as well as repairing some Apple In-Ear headphones.

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There are a ton of products out there to help with the creativity process. Everything from pencil and paper to a high-end pressure-sensitive display with various creative apps exist. And they ALL work. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you, but then also keeping that with you so you can get busy when the creative streak hits you.

Many people have iPads, and they’re great for a lot of things. Browsing and email work great. It’s even getting a little easier to do some creative writing on the iPad (especially if you have a keyboard for it). But there’s no denying that trying to create any graphics on the iPad ends up feeling like you’re literally finger-painting. Do it enough and you can even do OK with “finger-painting.” But it can be frustrating and maybe not everyone is meant to be an iPad VanGogh.

Now you have another option: The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus (ICS)

Wacom creates awesome products that are geared towards bridging the gap between traditional media and digital media. Intuos tablets have been around for years, letting you “draw” with pressure sensitivity, though you’re drawing on a tablet and looking at your computer’s screen. Then there is the Wacom Cintiq line which basically puts a pressure sensitive tablet on a screen, so you can literally draw where you’re looking with a high degree of precision. But they’re expensive. Last year they released the Wacom Inkling, which is a special pen and sensor that you can clip to your notepad and draw like you would with a pen, then hook it to the computer and download a digital version to your computer, which you can then manipulate with your favorite applications. (I’d love to get my hands on one of these for detailed review…)

 

Intuos Creative Stylus 1

Sitting atop my Leuchtturm 1917 5×7″ notebook you’ll find (L->R, Top->Bottom in the middle) iPhone 5, Case for the ICS, Intuos Creative Stylus, Cintiq Stylus, Amazon Basics stylus, Uni Kurutoga .3mm mechanical pencil, Palomino Blackwing 602, and finally the box for the ICS.

 

The Intuos Creative Stylus is a $99 stylus that you can use with your iPad to create art or manipulate images. It aims to turn your iPad into something approaching a Cintiq. Here’s my review.

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Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Folks, This Ain’t Normal is an excellent exposition on what is wrong with our nation’s farming and food infrastructure system. If you participate in big agriculture (the industrial agriculture complex), you’ll probably hate this book.

But if you’re an individual who is focusing on feeding your family. Raising your children to be healthy. Providing SAFE food for them, then reading this book is not only essential, but is a call to action in the political realm.

The first step in the process is becoming educated. Being enlightened to the fact that there is a problem, a major problem, with the way the food system in America works. Just knowing that there is a problem opens one’s eyes to see what comes next. The problem is that “the system” in America is set up for the profit and benefit of big agriculture. NOT for the benefit of the consumer (which is the mistaken understanding that most people have). And that creates a false sense of safety and therefore compliance in the sheeple of America who just buy what’s available in the supermarket, assuming it is safe and of high quality.

The second step in the process is to learn more about WHY there are problems, the nature of those problems, and how we got there in the first place. Learning about the evens of the past century or so which resulted in the U.S. Government creating oversight of America’s food production. And the way those regulations severely hurt the American farmer while padding the profits of big agricultural business. The way the federal government has actually set legal precedent that says you, an individual, do not actually have the right and freedom to choose what you eat. And how regulations limit both the quality of food available to you and prejudicially infringe on the ability of small farms and farmers to enter the market.

The third step in the process is to see that there is an emerging movement to create change. Once educated, we the people still have in our power the ability to reclaim this government for the good of the people (as opposed to the good of big business). And this book is definitely a call to action to that goal.

Joel Salatin writes with an excellent easy-to-read style. There is plenty of fact and tons of humorous real-world examples to illustrate exactly what is going on in our food system. This book is genuinely a fun read.

As you can tell, I’m fired up about the content of the book. I don’t see how anyone could read this (unless they are part of Big Ag) and NOT be fired up in the same way. We all want good food. Safe food. Healthy food. And after reading Folks, This Ain’t Normal, your eyes will be forever opened to the fact that our very own government is set up against this very goal, while claiming they are doing us a service. And the lack of personal responsibility that pervades our culture HAS TO CHANGE. Maybe a little education will do the trick.

Read this book!

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I have wanted a Wacom Cintiq for as long as they’ve been available. Dabbling with computer graphics, photoshop, and sketching, there is just something about the concept of drawing directly on the screen with pressure sensitivity that is extremely desirable. But these things have always been pricey. For the past few years there has been the 12″ WX, but it was very low resolution and reviews complained of tracking issues and color issues, so I stuck with my aging Intuos 3 9″ tablet.

After having the Wacom Cintiq 13HD for almost a week now, I can honestly say this thing is incredible. This is definitely the model I’ve been waiting for. Maybe that applies to you, too.

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Doctrine: What Christians Should BelieveDoctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sadly, most Christians rarely, if ever, put a second’s thought into the doctrines of Christianity. Many may even find the title (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe) to be offensive or controversial. Many, if not most, self-professing Christians may not even know what “doctrines” are or where they stand on the important doctrines that make up the Christian faith. All the more reason that every Christian should read this book (or listen to the audio version). No, not all Christians believe the same thing.
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About a year ago, I saw a new product that I thought was a slam-dunk at first sight: The Nest Learning Thermostat.

Nestlogo

 

At the time they were a little difficult to purchase because they had limited distribution channels and Honeywell was suing them to try to keep their product off of the market. So after researching the product diligently, I did what any red-blooded American would do: I went to eBay and bought two of them. At the time, I think I paid roughly $300 each for my 2 Nests.

The kicker is that I knew I wouldn’t even be installing them in my house. Shocker! OK, to be fair, it was because I knew I was moving to a new home in about a month, so I chose to wait. Shortly after we moved to the new house, I installed the first Nest on the main floor.

Before you buy the Nest, check their website for compatibility. From what I understand, it works with MOST home heating/cooling systems, but not all of them, so do a little research to insure yours is compatible. All you have to do is take the face off your current thermostat and check the wiring pins. They have a simple compatibility checker that makes it a breeze.

Nestbox

The Nest comes tightly & securely packaged. Very Apple-like.

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The Ultimate Guide To Building And Marketing Your Business With Google (Adwords, YouTube, Google+, Google Analytics, Google Apps, Google Places)The Ultimate Guide To Building And Marketing Your Business With Google by Gabriela Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last August I was provided a complimentary copy of Gabriela Taylor’s book Google: The Ultimate Guide to Building and Marketing Your Business With Google . It’s been a busy several months but I’ve worked my way through the book and would like to put it to review.

The Set Up

The first thing you should know is that I went into this review with the mindset of finding out how best to utilize Google to help my wife’s direct sales business. I’ve heard at various meetings that other girls with Thirty-One have been using Google ads with success in driving their business and recruiting and desperately wanted to discover the key to this for her business. The title of this book seemed to be directly in line with my goals. The subtitle: A Step By Step Guide To Unlocking The Power Of Google Tools And Maximizing Your Online Potential cinched the deal. This has to be a must-read book for someone in my position.

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One of the gifts I received this Christmas was the VuPoint Magic Want III portable scanner. Considering I just did a small series of posts on “going paperless,” I thought it would be a good focus of a review oriented towards that role.

 
VuPoint Solutions PDS-ST441-VP Magic Wand Portable Scanner w/ Preview Display, 900 DPI Resolution, USB 2.0 (Black)

Overview: 

The Magic Wand is an extremely portable full-color document scanner that you can use to scan papers, receipts, images into your computer for archiving, graphics, etc. It’s about 1.5″ tall and wide and roughly 10″ long, which is TINY compared to most scanners you’ll come across. 

It runs on 2 AA batteries (included) and saves the images is scans onto an microSD card that you supply. It also has a 1″ color display for settings and preview.

Set-Up:

Honestly, setup was super easy for me on my Mac. I literally just installed the batteries and inserted an 8Gb microSD and turned it on. I scanned a few sheets then connected it to my Mac using the included cable. The Mac automatically detected the device and offered to import the images into iPhoto. I ignored that and imported into Lightroom instead. Worked like a charm.

Usage:

This scanner is a manual scanner. Whatever item you want to scan you will place on a flat surface, then place the scanner on top of it, then push the scan button and using your hands, pull the scanner down the page as steadily as you can until you get to the end. It works best on a flat surface and it’s important that you pull very straight, or the image you produce will have some distortion. That may not matter if you’re scanning a receipt or simple document. There are rollers on the bottom of the device that seem to help you pull it straight, so maybe I’ll get better at scanning over time. I’ve only had it a few days, after all.

Each image you scan takes several seconds to scan. The lower resolution scan (which is a usable 300dpi) in color takes about 3 seconds for a letter-sized sheet. 600dpi is 6 seconds. 1050dpi (Fine resolution) is 11 seconds. This isn’t bad at all, but it certainly doesn’t touch the ScanSnap.

I noticed on Amazon that you can buy a “Scanning Stand” for these devices. For scanning photos, I think that would be a good investment (the stand is only $13.75) if you are planning on doing a lot of photo scanning.

It will save your files as JPEGs or PDFs.

Discussion:

Would this be an ideal solution for going paperless in your home office or small business office? After all, that’s the focus of this review. I don’t think it’s ideal, but it would function. 

What keeps it from being ideal?

1. It scans a single side of your page at one time. This may not be a big deal for your particular use, but I find that dual-sided scanning accounts for about 30% of my scanning or more.

2. Scanning a pile of documents becomes tedious. Sheet-fed scanners like the Scan-Snap are perfect for scanning a pile of papers. You just load them up and hit the button. With this, each individual sheet (and each side of it) is its own chore.

3. Scan quality is highly dependent on the user. Maybe the scan table would help with this. Also, if you’re scanning receipts, this doesn’t matter one bit, as long as you can read it (which should never be a problem). 

Where do I see myself using this in my paperless workflow?

The really cool thing about this scanner is its size. It’s so small, I can see taking it on business trips and scanning receipts at night instead of waiting to do it at home. This will definitely fit in whatever laptop bag you have. Or your purse. Plus, it’s not heavy so why not bring it just in case. For scanning a few items at a time, it works great.

The other thing I think this scanner is uniquely suited for is scanning items in place. For instance, if you want to just scan the cover of a book, you can do that pretty easily with this scanner, whereas you’d have to essentially destroy the book (taking off its cover) to do the same with the ScanSnap. A flatbed scanner will work for that purpose well (probably even better) but takes 4 square feet of your precious desktop space (which is why the ones I own aren’t even in use currently). I can also see utility in scanning items where they lay. Like something hanging on a wall. Or a magazine spread. Or a piece of wood that you’d like to scan for the texture.

Pros:

Super portable! 
Easy Set-Up (it just works!)
Can scan an item where it lays.
Expandable memory 

Cons:

Image distortion is common.
Software de-skewing isn’t as good as ScanSnap
Multi-page scans get tedious. 

Paperless Office Utility: 3 out of 5 stars.