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February 2009
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Cleaning your LCD Screens

If you have any LCD screens, either monitors or TV’s, they attract dust and dirt. You cannot clean them with standard glass cleaners, especially those with ammonia. Ammonia dissolves the plastic.

There is an easy, cheap and effective solution.
You need Distilled Water and Isopropyl Alcohol. About 3 bucks.
LcdcleanerYou need distilled water, as it has all of the crap that is in tap water removed. The alcohol should be at least 91% without any additives like perfumes or dyes. (No Rubbing Alcohol) You also need a lint free cloth of some sort, old clean t-shirt, hanky, microfibercloth.

To clean your LCD Screens
Turn them Off.
(you will destroy them if you try cleaning while they are on)
Mix a solution of distilled water and alcohol 50-50 in a container that you can label and store.
Lightly apply the solution with your cloth, with soft strokes.
Lightly wipe the screen to remove any residue.
Put your stuff away and you can go back to what you were doing.

Here is an explanation at WikiHow if you don’t like mine:)

By the way, you can use this mix on glass, plastic, and other hard surfaces.
Easy, Cheap and Organic.

Shower Valve Replacement

Josh at Bungalow 23 has a great tutorial on replacing a shower valve.

Housing Downturn

The housing market continues its downward plunge. Here in Phoenix it has dropped 45% from its peak.

My property tax assessed value dropped 50% since last year. Silly me, I thought that living in the ghetto would offer some protection. Houses in the 'hood are selling for less than the land value.

Drywall ‘Kicker’

‘Modern’ platform framed houses have walls that start out being over 8′
tall. the 92 5/8” for the vertical stud, the 4 1/2” of the bottom and
top plates, giving you 97 1/4” roughly. Most  drywall is 48” tall giving you 96”. Hold that thought. No we are not having the 54” drywall discussion, since why the hell would you build a house that 1/3 of your cubic footage has to be cooled and heated that you get no benefit from (and how many of you are between 6 and 8 1/2 feet tall?) except being able to brag to the neighbors that your utility bill is bigger. This is not on your top ten list of things to accomplish on remodeling.

Hanging drywall is a procedure, that goes ceiling then walls. Drywall doesn’t care which way you hang it. I do. You can hang drywall parallel to your framing, but it is not recommended as wood moves, and on ceilings if it does you will have cracks that run the entire length of the sheet, requiring you to fix over your head. Trust me, you are not going to like taping the first time around, the second time around there is more stuff to work around.

If you stand the sheets up on your walls, not only do you have a crack problem, but it is a lot harder to tape. By hanging your drywall perpendicular to your framing, you will minimize  cracking and being able to tape the wall seam at 4′ is a lot easier than getting up and down sawhorses and ladders.

One of the lesser known drywall tools is the ‘kicker’, or floor drywall lifter.

Remember the 48” tall drywall? Two sheets are 96”. Even with 5/8” drywall on your ceiling, your wall is around 96 1/2” high. the top sheet gets pressed to the ceiling and nailed off. The bottom sheet sitting on the floor has a serious gap. This is where the ‘kicker’ makes its entrance.

This is the most common variety. It is a noisy steel contraption whose sole purpose is to lever the bottom wall sheet tight to the upper sheet on your walls. You kick it into place, and push down with your leg and nail or screw the sheet tight to the upper sheet.

Better seams, better taping, better job.

This is also handy for short lifts like lining up solid doors to slip in hinge pins, lining up cabinet faces.

It is one of those tools that most folks do not need for small projects. Check with your neighbors. There is an alternative using a wonderbar.

Safe Surfing for Windows Users

Sorry about the lack of posting. In addition to remodeling things for folks, I also build and maintain websites and small computer networks.
Computer security is an arms and armor problem. You can build a better tank, and someone will build a better rocket. Better armor, better rocket…

Part of this has me keeping up on new threats to my clients and myself. And now you. If your computer is screwed up you can't visit:)

The Conflicker worm is the latest one to infect Windows Machines.

To give you an idea of how serious this is, Microsoft is offering $250,000,00 for the capture of the folks who created this. A quarter million from a company known for it's denial of criticism of it's products until it gets slapped around by the independent security community.They are getting better, but not all that much.

There are solutions from Microsoft. The first link will patch the code that Conflicker uses to infect your machine. The second is the latest version of Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 – Critical
Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (958644)

Microsoft® Windows® Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830)

These are not a replacement for having an anti virus program on your machine. These only deal with this problem, today.(there is already a new version of conflicker showing up) and no this is not of one of those deals that you can or should wait until they issue more patches or fixes.

If you want to keep surfing safely and hopefully visiting here, this is what I use. These are also what I recommend and install on my client machines.
All these programs are Free. Some have paid versions, which if circumstances warrant, and you can afford it, are worth the money.
My browser is FireFox
My Email Program is Thundebird
My Anti Virus program is AVG which is free for personal use.
My personal fire wall product is COMODO
I also use Ad Blocker Plus, because I visit a lot of sites, and am not going to respond to ads. Pages load faster without waiting some ad server to load crap and tracking cookies on my machine.

These work for me, and may work for you.

Links and Sites of Note

Having been sidelined for the last week and a half with my van having the electrical problem from hell, which turned out to be the alternator after all, I had some time on my hands.

From Green by Design comes:
When Less Is More: Overhauling the Appraisal System which is a look at how houses are appraised and why changes to this system are needed. How your house uses energy, either  by design, retrofitting, or remodeling, should play a significant role in value in the market. This dovetails nicely with The Real Cost, The Real Deal, featuring Michelle Kaufmann, whose designs look at the energy usage over time as well as green construction techniques.

For fans of Frank Lloyd Wright and the 'Prairie' style is a new blog, Prairie Blog which has a wide variety of articles surrounding this style.
Recently is this article about a student project, the Mod Fab house. (Be advised that the Prairie Blog is a giant time suck)

Super Eco has a posting on dimmer switches for CFL's. Nice idea but dimmable CFL's are still expensive. Something to think about for the future.

Meanwhile I am off to straighten some tall cabinet doors.

Remodeling Chic

Pizza Pro 3000

Hat Tip to Charles and Hudson for this one.

Remodeling? No, I don’t have a problem.

Remodeling is like any other human activity. You can get addicted.
Some sure signs that you are getting there.

Stopping by the 'home depot' on your way home from work.

Bringing baked goods to the neighbor with a pick up truck.

Going for saturday coffee at the building supply store.

Your shop vac is your most important cleaning tool.

You buy tools for Valentines Day.

You never leave the house without a tape measure.

All your friends have paint spattered clothing.

You Tivo the Home and Garden Channel

You are reading this and nodding your head.

Home Depot closing Expo Stores

Home Depot has had an upscale group of stores called EXPO, Part design center, part warehouse showrooms. They are closing. May be a few deals here.

They were a weird blend of products from the  companies whose names are familiar to most home depot shoppers, but were the products that were more upscale in design and price.

Home Depot also tried warehouse type building materials with their HD stores, that I really liked, as they were building materials up to the paint, in large quantities, like when you needed 150 sheets of plywood, or a couple of miles of wire. Sort of a Costco for building materials.

Tough Times.