Just because something breaks doesn't mean you have to throw it away. A lot of DIY projects can take materials from a broken item and turn it into something functional and new. This weekend, check out a few of these projects and see if you can give your broken crap new life.
You can do a lot with a broken computer—especially laptops. You don't need every part to work, but just enough to repurpose it as a desktop PC, silent home server, keyboard PC, tablet, a projector, workout companion, all-in-one machine, arcade cabinet, or pretty much anything else you can think of. The parts don't have to exist in their case, so you can move them into something else if it suits you. If you have a broken part, you can probably find an easy replacement on eBay or just save the working parts for another project down the road. Of course, you can manage many of these projects with desktop parts but you'll obviously need a bit more room to work with.
You can even do a lot with just the hard drive, even if it doesn't work. You should try to recover the data first if you need to, but afterwards you can start on a bunch of fun projects. Our favorites include a steampunk clock and speakers.
Headphones and Speakers
You can do a lot with busted audio equipment, but you should try to repair it first. You might find it's easier to accomplish than you think. A soldering iron and a new plug can fix a busted one in minutes and heat shrink tubing can do the same with a bad cable. Sugru can repair all varieties of serious damage. Of course, you can also hack your headphones to provide removable cables for easy replacement when needed. Some headhpones even have crazy lifetime warranties and you can just get a free replacement, so you might want to check yours before you do any work.
Speakers can have new life, too. While not the most attractive solution, masking tape can fix a worn-down pair. If they just don't work anymore, you can use the cabinets for media storage instead. If the cabinets are the problem, just hide the speakers in floor lamps. They might not sound as good as they did before, but they'll take up no extra space.
You can do a lot with old clothing. My favorite? Turning a hoodie into a laptop (or tablet) sling pack. You can also make a wine tote out of a skirt, make a rug out of t-shirts, make a laptop tote out of a suit, turn t-shirts into reusable shopping bags, a necktie as a wallet, and make a dog toy out of any old fabric. Mostly you can just make a bunch of different kinds of bags—some without any sewing necessary—but you can get creative if you really think about what you've got on hand.
You can create new things from lots of other old crap, too! An old umbrella can become a delta kite. If a BIC lighter dies out, you can still use it to open bottles. You might think to throw away those bottles, but you can create some awesome lights with them. Even soda can tops and water bottles shouldn't go in the trash, as they can make a picture hanger and smartphone bike mount (respectively). You don't have to throw away much. You can often repurpose it, even if it seems like garbage. Before you toss something in the trash or recycling, consider how you could use it first. You may be surprised by what you discover.
Nobody likes a cluttered bathroom counter, but digging through cupboards isn't exactly pleasant either. Over at The Family Handyman, they've put together a tutorial on building a swing-out shelf (and more) for easy access to all your toiletries.
The swing-out shelf is definitely our favorite of the bunch, and it's pretty easy to build if you have a little experience with DIY. All you need is a few pieces of plywood and hardboard, some screws, and a piano hinge. Hit the link to check out the full instructions, as well as a few other ways to maximize (and simplify) your bathroom storage.
Most of us have a category in our budgets that's devoted to generic spending money. It might go to impulse buys, eating out, or indulgences. As finance blog Get Rich Slowly suggests, though, your monthly budget should have all money allocated and accounted for.
The idea is simple: if you make sure that you put every dollar to good use before you get paid, you'll be less likely to spend it on money drains. If you have excess in your budget after bills, put it towards debts or savings. If you feel the need to save up for something expensive, give it its own category in the budget. Leave no dollar unspent:
In my opinion, a zero-sum budget is superior because it forces you to “spend” every dollar that you make. And, no, I don’t mean you should spend it on dinner at Outback or a weekly mani/pedi. Instead, you allocate all of your earnings into the different categories that your finances require.
Obviously unplanned expenses will always come up (which is why an emergency fund should be one of those allocated categories), but this approach allows you to be much more intentional about your spending.
Most of us spend way too much time wading through email every day. Blogger and reader Doug Belshaw solved this problem by turning on his "out of office" email responder—for an entire month.
Instead of notifying his co-workers that he was out of the office, though, Belshaw used it as more of a reminder that he isn't attached to email all day, and as peace of mind that he could keep working without anything urgent slipping away:
Thanks for your email. I’ll get to it during my morning ‘internet ablutions’ (as William Gibson would put it).
If you need a quicker response than asynchronous communication can provide, please do consider one of the following (in order of preference):
...where he listed his IRC, Twitter, and Skype handles.
How well it works will depend on your workplace and colleagues, but Belshaw found that it worked surprisingly well. The few people that needed him urgently sought him out through other means, while the rest of his co-workers were very respectful of his work/life balance (and some even supported his commitment to avoiding email). Other issues just resolved themselves.
Android: Chrome's new beta version has a useful new feature: the ability to quickly add application shortcuts to your home screen.
You could always do this by adding a site to your bookmarks first, but this new method—available in Chrome's menu—is much faster. However, it gets cooler: if that webapp is designed to be used on its own, launching it from your home screen, will open it up in its own window without tabs, buttons, or Chrome's omnibox—essentially making it feel more like a regular app.
It doesn't look like a ton of popular webapps have this feature just yet, but hopefully more will add it soon (especially those whose webapps are better than their actual apps). Hit the link below to read more, or check out the Chrome Beta to see it for yourself..
We've featured a few tools that make it easier for you to find a great beer, but this massive chart puts most of them to shame. Organized by type and and specific sub-categories, it'll help you find a great beer based on the ones you like, and also show you pick the perfect glass to enjoy it in.
The chart really is huge, so make sure to click "expand" on the image below to blow it up to full size. Worst case, open the image in a new tab to see it in its full glory. The chart starts out by breaking beer down into two basic categories: ales and lagers, and then takes off from there, going into German ales, American lagers, Pale ales, stouts and porters, and so on. Then it goes even deeper, to specific types of each of those, like Munich lagers (a subset of German lagers), or English porters and Russian Imperial stouts (as a subset of stouts and porters). You'll see categories you're probably familiar with if you're a fan of craft beer, and if you're not, there's a whole world to explore.
Then, as you narrow down to specific beer names and labels, follow the thin orange lines to see what type of glass those beers are usually enjoyed in, from the old school mug-handled beer steins to standard pint glasses, all the way up to the beer boot and the good old 40oz.
If you use a lot of webapps, Chrome's new app launcher is a great addition to your taskbar. Weblog Google Operating System shares a tip for making it even more useful: give it a keyboard shortcut for Start-Menu-like quick launches.
Just right-click on the shortcut for Chrome's app launcher, head to the Shortcut tab, and give it a Shortcut Key. This tip is nothing new, but it's particularly useful for Chrome's app launcher: now you can just invoke it with a shortcut, start typing the name of the webapp you want to launch, and open one up—just like you would with the Windows key and the Start menu. It'll even show you suggestions form the Chrome Web Store, which is nice.