Some Powerful Paint

house_painter_1Ever get suspicious of your neighbors ‘sharing’ your wi-fi internet connection when you are at home or at work. Ever feel like your neighbors ‘sharing’ overloads or compromises your wi-fi connection? Researchers say that they have found a way to solve your problems with paint. That’s right: Paint. Researchers have developed a type of paint that protects your wi-fi connection from being used by other people outside of your home or office building.

It means security-conscious wireless users could block their neighbours from being able to access their home network – without having to set up encryption.

The paint contains an aluminium-iron oxide which resonates at the same frequency as wi-fi – or other radio waves – meaning the airborne data is absorbed and blocked.

By coating an entire room, signals can’t get in and, crucially, can’t get out.

Developed at the University of Tokyo, the paint could cost as little as £10 per kilogram, researchers say.

Instead of companies investing in complicated and expensive encryption software, this simple and inexpensive paint could prevent hackers from having access to secure information.

While paints blocking lower frequencies have been available for some time, Mr Ohkoshi’s technology is the first to absorb frequencies transmitting at 100GHz (gigahertz). Signals carrying a larger amount of data – such as wireless internet – travel at a higher frequency than, for example, FM radio.

“I’m working on a material that can absorb a larger range of frequencies. We are capable of making a paint that can absorb over 200 gigahertz.”

He hopes that soon the technology could be woven into clothing.

“We’re not sure about the true effects of electromagnetic waves, in this range, on the human body.

While I’m not sure if I’m ready to dip my clothes in paint, I sure am glad that there are reserachers out there working on keeping our information safe.

Fun Halloween Tips and Ideas

Halloween is coming up around the corner and its time to start thinking about costumes and crafts for celebrating the holiday. If you’re having a hard time of thinking of ideas, check out DLTK, a website full of holiday ideas and crafts, including pumpkin carving patterns that you can print off for free. Among the patterns are Aliens, Bats and even Blue’s Clues patterns.

Make sure you take your kids and get out to a pumpkin patch. Enjoy making some apple cider together, enjoy a hay bale ride or corn maze and celebrate the season. Check out the innovative pumpkin cannon for an enjoyable way to get into the mood for the season.

Heiser Farms Pumpkin Canon – Willamette Valley Cyclocross Series from nwduffer on Vimeo.

Time Saving Tip Tuesday: Putting Newton’s Laws To Work

freeimages.co.uk photos of objectsWelcome to another Time Saving Tip Tuesday! Another chance for you to enact a strategy to save you time throughout your day. Another chance to form a transforming habit that will free you up to enjoy life and not have that overwhelming feeling that there is too much to do and too little time.

This week we’re going to use a little science to help us with our time saving tip. I was never all that great at science in school, but I think that this simple law can be used as we consider how to save time throughout our day. One of Newton’s (a really smart dead guy) laws of motion was this: Objects in motion, tend to stay in motion and objects at rest, tend to stay at rest. While I’m sure Newton said it much more eloquently, the general idea is that something that is sitting still will not move unless an outside force makes it move and something in motion will not stop unless an outside force makes it stop.

What does this have to do with saving time? Everything. Because so often, we can find it difficult to get started on a project or to-do list. We are ‘at rest’ with that particular project or even ‘at rest’ completely, sleeping or sitting on the couch. While rest is necessary, resters must beware. The longer you stay at rest, the harder it will be for you to get into motion.

So this week’s time saving tip is simple: Get moving. Don’t allow the illusion that there is too much to do to keep you stationary. Find a small, simple task that is easy to do and start with that, then allow the momentum of completing that action to propel you into the rest of your day. You will find that as you continue to stay in motion, the momentum of your action will give you the energy you need to continue on with the rest of your day. Your list will seem shorter and less daunting when you make the decision to ‘begin motion’ and get started on what you have to accomplish that day.

Gaming Glasses Keep Your Eyes Fresh?

550As technology grows and more and more people are looking at various types of screens, whether they are computer screens, phone screens, tv screens or gaming screens, one has to start to wonder what that staring at screens will do to our eyesight. Enter Gunnar Optiks, a company that is promoting and advertising ‘technology glasses’ that reduce glare and relax and create healthier eyes for technology users.

But how are these glasses any different that regular eye glasses? Is there anything to these strange, overpriced glasses?

Arstechnica interviewed optometrist Krista Anderson. Her take? “Really, it looks like a great marketing strategy for stuff I tell patients everyday.

“The tints are pretty standard in the optical community. The advantages stated are all true… they haven’t reinvented the wheel, so to speak,” she explains. The amber tint is going to increase contrast when looking at computer or television screens, and the anti-reflective coating will also help. Anderson says that should help you “get back 8-10 percent of the 12 percent of usable light that we lose to glare, when worn in front of a light-emitting source such as a computer or oncoming headlights.”

She goes on to explain that the other features are also solid. “The AR coating and hard coat are nothing that I don’t recommend to everyone ordering glasses in my practice,” Anderson tells Ars. “The ‘hydrophobic and oleophobic’ components are no different from the premium coatings I use in my practice.”

In other words, the glasses do in fact have benefits for your eyes, but it’s more a case of a handful of well-known optical techniques all aimed at helping your eyes when you look at a computer or television screen for hours at a time.”

So how should gamers and IT workers alike take care of their eyes?

1. Make sure you get annual eye examinations and have proper glasses or contacts for your eyesight.

2. If you’re interested in the Gunnar Optiks, find out how much they might cost with the size and style you’re interested in, then ask your local optometrist if they can beat the price.

3. If you can, take five minute breaks away from comptuer screens. While these breaks seem small, they relax your eyes and renew their ability to focus. Also, eye drops can help keep eyes moist and less strained.

Fun and Unexpected Calorie Burners

274000_1093Exercise is important for a healthy body and brain but the cost of a gym membership is a bit too much for most these days. Ever since we had to sadly cut our gym membership from our budget, I have been looking for ways to burn calories and keep in shape. Over at divine caroline I found this article on fresh ideas for fun calorie burners.

Here are some of divine carolines ideas:

Solo

  • Hula hooping – up to 600 calories burned an hour.
  • Hacky sack – 263 calories burned an hour.
  • Sledding – 461 calories burned an hour.
  • Tai Chi – 263 calories burned an hour.

With a partner

  • Playing catch – 164 calories burned an hour.
  • Ping pong – 263 calories burned an hour.
  • Fast dancing – 316 calories burned an hour.
  • Slow dancing – 197 calories burned an hour.
  • Sex – 104 calories burned an hour.

With a group

  • Ultimate Frisbee – 527 calories burned an hour.
  • Water volleyball – 197 calories burned an hour.
  • Kickball – 460 calories burned an hour.

Around the house activities

  • Gardening – 263 calories burned an hour.
  • Raking the lawn – 283 calories burned an hour.
  • Painting – 296 calories burned an hour.
  • Mowing the Lawn – 362 calories burned an hour.
  • Grocery shopping – 151 calories burned an hour.

For more on Fun and Expected Calorie Melter’s click here.

Time Saving Tip Tuesday: Making A List, Checking It Off

stockvault_4704_20070301Ever wish that there were more hours in a day? Maybe 28 or even 30 hours? Just enough so that those things you never have time to do you could actually get done, shorten your to-do list a little bit, ease the stress of having ‘too much to do, and too little time’?

Learning how to save time and be efficient with tasks that we must do throughout the day is an important skill to acquire. Companies and businesses invest millions in trying to get employees to work more efficiently, and families and individuals wrestle with feeling rushed and having too much to do.

If you’ve ever had any of those feelings or been in those situations (and you’re lying to yourself if you say you’ve never had those feelings) then check out HackALife every Tuesday this fall. We want to provide you with ‘Time Saving Tips’ that, if applied, will make your life more efficient and ease the stress of a ballooning ‘to-do list’.

Our first tip is a great place to start: Make A List.

Making lists serves multiple purposes:
1. A list takes the things bouncing around your head that you are trying to remember and gets them out on paper so you don’t spend brain power trying to remember them.
2. Lists help you organize the tasks from priorities to optional items that need to be done.
3. Lists help you visually see the tasks that you’ve laid out for that day.
4. Lists communicate to your family or co-workers the things you’d like to accomplish that day.
5. Lists make you feel good when you cross the items off.

So now that you know the benefits of making a list, here are some steps to make a list.

Step 1: Free write all of the things you’d like to get done during the day. (Be realistic…there is always tomorrow)
Step 2: Organize your list. Place the items from most important to least important, then structure times that you’d like to accomplish those tasks. (Remember the other things you need to do that day and structure your to-do list around them)
Step 3: Start on one thing. Your list can only be accomplished one step at a time. Getting started creates the momentum you need to feel good and get going.
Step 4: Cross items off your list. Nothing feels better than crossing those items off and visually seeing the progress you are making.
Step 5: Live the day! Make sure that you control your to-do list and your to-do list doesn’t control you. Life is more than what you can accomplish that day. Don’t forget to breathe deep and smile a few times throughout the day.

We’d love to hear about what you think about this time-saving tip and others you might share with us! Join the conversation and leave a comment below.

10 Alternative Uses for Vodka

31701_1395Vodka is not just for drinking anymore. In fact its been used for many many years as medicine, having been sold by druggists to cure everything from infertility to colic and the plague. I was surprised when I read these 10 weird uses for vodka on the Daily Green.

Here are 10 alternative uses for vodka:

  1. Treat Poison Ivy – Immediately pour vodka on skin that has come into contact with poison ivy, and the alcohol will wash away the itchy culprit. Some say the vodka needs to be at least 100 proof to work.
  2. Freshen Laundry – You can keep your clothes smelling fresher with vodka. Spritz your duds with the stuff, then hang to dry in a well-ventilated area. (Do a spot-test first to be safe.) Vodka kills odor-causing bacteria, but doesn’t leave a scent when dry.
  3. Shine your Fixtures – Its easy to get your chrome, glass and porcelain fixtures shining just moisten a soft, clean cloth with vodka, then apply a little elbow grease.
  4. Preserve Flowers – Add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar to the water in your flower vase. It should help keep your flowers fresh longer. Change out the mixture with fresh ingredients daily.
  5. Repel Insects – DEET is no longer a safe repellent so give Vodka a try. Pour a little of the saucy spirit in a spray bottle and squirt on the little buggers, or yourself as a repellent.
  6. Soothe Jellyfish Stings – Vodka can also disinfect and alleviate some of the bite of a jellyfish sting.
  7. Get Great, Shiny Hair – Try this remedy for healthier, lush hair: Add a jigger of vodka to a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo.
  8. Clean Away Mold – Instead of harsh chemical sprays, try filling a recycled spray bottle with some bottom-shelf vodka. Spritz on, then let sit for 15 minutes. Scrub away with an old toothbrush (please don’t use your sister’s).
  9. Make a Soothing Lavender Tincture – Fill a clean glass jar with fresh lavender flowers, then top off with vodka. Seal the lid tightly and place in the sun for three days (same idea as making sun tea!) Strain the resulting liquid through a coffee filter, and poof! You have a homemade tincture to rub into aches and pains. You can pour into smaller bottles, decorate them and give them as unique gifts.
  10. Ease a Toothache – Try swishing a shot of vodka over the affected area. It can help disinfect, and should numb some of the pain in your gums. Just beware that your honey may accuse you of smelling like a saloon.

Find A Festival Near You

carnivalFall is a great time for weekend festivals! The weather has cooled down and your kids need something on the weekend to get them out of the house and moving about your community. So do some research and find a fun and entertaining festival nearby where you live and go check it out! Festivals are usually cheap and usually even free, family outings that are active, enjoyable and educational for your whole family.

If you live in the Portland, OR area, here is a list of some great festivals going on this weekend.

-Green Sprouts Organic Baby & Family Fest-Saturday, September 26 (10am-5pm)

Green Sprouts Festival is a fun, festive and educational one-day event for the whole family that celebrates and promotes the nurturing of life through nature. From pregnancy to childhood, parents can learn about and explore eco-friendly, community-involved, natural, and healthy options to raising their families.

-17th Annual Portland Juggling Festival, September 25-27

The Portland Jugglers is a rich community of people from around the globe that use the Portland, Oregon area as a place to nurture juggling as a hobby and a lifestyle.
Once a year, we focus our collective energies to put on the biggest regional juggling festival in North America, which draws jugglers from around the world to come and see what is happening this year.

-27th Annual Grape Stomping Festival at St. Josef’s Winery, September 26 (12pm-6pm)

The Original NW Harvest Festival- complete with fun music, homemade food, casual & lively crowd- and of course stomping.  Owners Josef & Lilli started the festival to honor the ones they grew up with in Europe. Wine tasting of the reserve wines and new releases,  plus the ‘famous’ tours by the winemaker.

-2009 Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, September 26-27

Activities for the whole family
The 2009 Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival is scheduled for Sept. 26-27th with workshops on the 25th. Next year’s featured breed will be Primitive sheep, including Icelandic, Jacob and Navjo Churro. Naturally, primitive sheep produce the perfect fiber for the featured handcraft — rug making.

Insomniacs Inquire Here

cant-sleep-transferLast night my wife and I had a wonderful evening back in our college town, enjoying one of our favorite restaurants and walking around campus. And, as a treat on our way out of town, around 7pm, we stopped and got some great $2 Tuesday Milky Way Blended Coffees at Dutch Brothers. Since it was $2 no matter what the size, I ordered the LARGE…and enjoyed every sip.

However, the enjoyment ceased when it was 3:30AM in the morning and I was as wide awake as a deer in the headlights. But, here are some advantages to my late night episode of insomnia:

1. I got A LOT of work down on various tasks that I had fallen behind on, and, not only could I not sleep, but the large blended coffee which was coarsing through my veins, create a hyper-speedy me.

2. I got caught up on all, and I mean ALL, of the late night shows, the late late night shows and the late late late night shows. I can now write a master’s thesis on the comparitive comedic techniques of Lettermen, Ferguson and Leno…(and yes, I intentionally left Jimmy Fallon out…he’s just not that funny…trust me, I have my masters in comedic techniques). Finally, at 5:10AM I decided to give sleep another try. I laid down for 37 minutes and 12 seconds and was just about to doze off when my wife’s phone rang for a substitute teaching job today. So, having what I deemed ‘sufficient’ amount of sleep for the night, I am sitting here telling you about my insomniatic, hyper-speedy, strangely productive, late-night-analyzing all-nighter.

3. The final advantage to this insomniac episode is that in three months time, my wife will be giving birth to twins, at which point I will not sleep for the rest of my life, making this night a moment of training for the future.

So here’s my question? What is it that keeps you up at night, aimlessly changing channels or wearing carpet into your floor by pacing up and down waiting for the tardy sandman to show up? Is it caffeine? Midnight snacks? Stress or anxiety? A desire to live like a racoon?

I know that this pattern is not healthy or one that I will continue (God-willing) but I’ve never got a post done this early in the day, so that’s got to count for something.

Join in the fun and let us know what keeps you up at night.

(The author of this post apologizes in advance for all random thoughts, comments and structure. Bolds and Italics were intentionally used to create a sporadic environment which is the current state of the author’s brain, inevitably resulting in a dramatic crash around 2pm this afternoon)