How I Take Ridiculously Close Macro Shots With an Android -DIY

To start, or rather, to prove that the photos I take with this phone are insanely closeup, take a gander of these photos before I show you how I took them.

Ready? You’re going to need an old camera and some hammers. No. I’m not kidding.


However you obtain these small little lenses is beyond my jurisdiction. I’ll tell you this though; if you dont happen to have any of these little lenses lying around on your desk, find an old camera rip it to shreds! (Just a heads up, watch out for shock hazards! Old internal camera batteries hurt.)


Before I made this a permanent add on, I’d simply stick one of these lenses in between my fingers and go around with my newly created macro-droid. Only recently did I make this little copper contraption to clip onto my phone.

As always, there’s a retail version of this that’ll save you some headaches, but it was a fun experience for me and I’m willing to share the complex planning on how to make it. Here is how you make it:

  • Find a thick piece of copper wire.
  • Crudely bend it around a camera lens and then bend it around to fit your phone.
  • Put some tape on the end so you don’t scratch your screen.
  • The end.

Go crazy and enjoy.


Who needs electricity!? This handheld crank radio powers my surround sound system!

Now, I’ve had this little radio for over a year now and pretty much right before hurricane Sandy hit my area, I had just broken its built in speaker. Do not ask me how, It’s just the way things go. If this idea had crossed my mind, say, before October 29th, maybe my experience through the storm would’ve been a tiny bit more enjoyable.


To make this contraption, I started out finding which wires went to the speakers – easy enough. A smart person would then solder the wire to that connection, but of course, tape would suffice. After many attempts to get the speaker wires to stay even when pulled a bit, I closed up the casing and there you have it, a working crank radio that actually handle some real bass.


I don’t know why I didnt try my entire speaker system at this point, probably a lack of faith for the little contraption, but eventually I realized it’s true power.

Running 11 full sized speakers, the radio can’t handle such a long time without needing a crank or two (You can obviously figure out why) but here are my results:

10 minutes of music = 50 cranks. How long does it take to crank it 50 times? Give me 20 seconds.  As a secondary attempt, I got 25 minutes of music after a minute of cranking. Cranking is such an odd verb.

Regardless, that’s pretty awesome considering it’s running completely off the grid. Now if I could just get it to run my phone….


Solar Technology More Utilized in Ethiopia Than in America. Why?

A few days ago, I saw this image in Wired magazine. It’s amazing that there have been so many efforts to bring 3rd world countries to better standings, but why don’t we rely more on solar technologies? Well. Lucky for you, you’re reading this very post. I’ll tell you why. We [a collective word representing both our own government and the oil companies that hide behind it] don’t want to use it.

From a business and governmental perspective, why switch? We’re funding a war, which funds the economy right out of a recession. We’re funding hundreds and thousands of truck drivers and ship captains who import and localize oil. We’re funding the jobs in refineries. We’re funding practically all of our nation’s power plants and electrical workers.

Imagine the size of the infrastructure shift if we ever tried to switch from oil to solar!

The efforts to completely replace all oil tankers ships and trucks for the entire country would be a couple hundred thousand arms and legs to begin with, but hell, that’s not even the half of it. Gas stations nationwide would have to be closed to be converted to electric fill up stations. Then comes in the factor that ALL power plants would have to be converted to be able to receive these power-in-a-ship battery contraptions for distribution to homes so that the current power line system would still be utilized. Yo. Scientists. Good luck with that.

Now, solar energy isn’t completely a dud in this country! By all means, taking matters into your own hands is always an option. Good luck with paying for the installation though. The federal grant is only so much help.


A Journey to Find the Perfect Tablet PC

UPDATE 2: The laptop below is actually my old(er) tablet. I found a newer HP TC4400 for only a tad bit more and sold that one.

Tablet PC’s round 3:

Well, my cherished 60 dollar laptop decided to cut out on me short, so it was time for me to upgrade. The new laptop, an HP-Compaq (because they still haven’t figured out what to name themselves) TC4400, was similarly acquired on eBay, but the price tag was a bit higher. It was only $78.89 for the laptop + $7.05 for the adapter + $3.50 for some stupid cover that wasn’t included and + $21.99 for a hard drive, since this is my first SATA laptop (I’ve finally stepped into the “future” and the only SATA hard drive I actually had was coincidentally broken.) I added another GB of ram with a stick that I had lying around, why I had it is beyond me, and I already had a stylus for it because I have two older tablets. All in all, it cost me $115, much lower than any computer on the market today, but I can already tell that it was well worth it! The computer comes with a fingerprint reader, which has been a nerdy dream of mine since I first heard of them, and a fancy dual core processor (although they’re up to quad core by now, I’m sure.) It was also my first laptop that actually ran Android 4.0 without a problem, something I hadn’t expected to work at all, to be honest! For once, I bought a laptop that actually has a mousepad and actually has decent battery life (around 3 hours), so it’s a great feat in my book. But chances are, I’ve bored you to death reading off all the specs of a laptop and how amazing I am for getting it. So, in lieu of your boredom, here are some pictures to make you more jealous:

Now, a lot of people always ask me how I get things for such a cheap price. I always say that I got it from ebay and immediately I get death stares that scream, “How could you” or “You fool!” Who’s the fool now?

UPDATE: The laptop below is actually my old tablet. I found a more unique HP TC1100 for the same price and sold that one. Tablet PC’s round 2:

The TC1100 is unlike any PC i’ve ever seen. It’s a slate with an attachable keyboard, not a laptop. I loaded mine with Windows 8, and it couldn’t be a better experience. (And I have less than 1GB of RAM.) If I didn’t know any better, I would say this laptop is from 2009. Its design is amazing, and for a PC from 2003, it’s thin! I wouldn’t DARE go back to the tablet I boasted about above! There’s literally no comparison to my new toy! Go buy one and shove it in an iPad lover’s face!

Laptop 1:

Recently, I set out on a quest to fulfill my childhood dream of owning a Tablet PC. I’m cool, I know.

Now, if you’re trying to find a tablet PC under $100, ebay is the first place to look. (I got mine for $60 on ebay and +$30 for the special stylus (NO, a DS stylus will NOT work – lesson learned) and an IDE hard drive.) Just for my own use, I bought 2 1GB RAM sticks for $15 each, but that’s not at all required.

It’s sad to see that a laptop once worth $2,450 USD is now worth barely a cracked iPod touch.

And you would think the battery would be crap by now, but I still get around 2 hours worth of use – that’s actually more than one of the newer laptops in my household!

Finding Dick: A Truly Comic Moby Dick Parody

Don’t want to read the 135 pages of pure America? Fine with me!
This video sums it all up in 10 minutes, rather than sitting there for countless hours of your life only to find out in the end that ——wait. I won’t give away the obvious.
Regardless, this video actually makes Moby Dick entertaining by making fun of “finding bigfoot” shows while filling your mind with both insightful allusions to the book and countless witty remarks. Enjoy!

WordPress keeps bugging me to post an about page, how’s this for one?

A few years ago, my mom wrote an essay for a college class that would not only shock her teacher, but me. Sure, it’s no challenge to know how much your parents love you, but when you read almost 1,000 words about yourself, it really makes you think. Why share it with all of you? A blog is a place to put my thoughts, no? I think this is a beautiful piece. Call me bias 😉

My son, James, is 15. These days, I can see his wing tips spanning over the nest, flapping, growing impatient with curiosity and wonder. Before he takes flight, I want a snapshot, a frozen record of who he is at this moment, before time adds another inch to his frame or fires another synapse. My words and my memories are all I have, and all I need.

If James were a character in “Peter and the Wolf,” Prokofiev would have needed to invent an instrument, one whose notes cascade and whirl and fly off the musical staff to unknown heights and depths without looking back. James is that independent and creative. As an American teenager who attends a football thumping high school, his interests are photography, antiques, computers, and hiking. He blasts Italian pop music in his museum-like room, as the glass shelves lined with ancient coins, antique electronics, and delicate crystals rattle to the beat. He can skate circles around Gretzki, but hates the game of hockey. He sees the world as a potential photo, even when his camera is safely tucked away in its case. James is a square peg in a world of circular holes, and accomplishing that is a triumph to him; nothing could horrify him more than being ordinary.

There’s a purity to James that society has not yet spoiled, a purity that emerges at the least convenient of times, but which has reminded me of my own tarnished spirit. He has halted our sprint in the pouring rain to snap a picture of rain droplets suspended to the underside of a handrail in New York City, swept aside homework to blog his interests, and broken countless electronic devices while chasing the learning curve, including “accidentally” formatting the hard drive of our computer (at age 11) BEFORE backing up my work in an effort to upgrade, and bending the prongs of the CPU while “dusting” (at age 8), an $80 fix. In this way, James, like the Little Prince, has taught me about “matters of consequence;” he’s shown me that finding beauty, pursuing interests, and learning new things are as important as breathing.

A problem, to James, is something that has a solution, and simply lacks a link between the two. He tries to be that link. James holds the distinction (to my horror) of being the first student in his middle school to “jail break” his iPod Touch, the unlocking of the device that allows for the illegal downloading of applications and customized themes. He has struggled through challenging classes, social pressures, familial tensions, and teachers who just didn’t “get him” to be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. After learning last year that he can not depend on others for excellence, he took the reins with his Science Research project this year, and developed a sociological experiment on the effects of social pressure on morality. My hypothesis predicts Intel Award, but regardless of the outcome, I’m simply proud of the idea and the effort he put forth to develop it. If failure is the problem, James has defeated it over and over again by finding his own success.

Although I am proud of his achievements, my favorite stories about James pertain to his kindness. As a young child, he would line the bathtub with bottles of his dirty bath water to donate to the poor (I dumped it, of course), and wrote me loving notes that I would find waiting for me when I came home from school long past his bedtime. When he was 4, I brought him to the AIDS‍walk on Long Island, where we volunteered to direct foot traffic through Heckscher State Park.  The event was apparently still fresh in his mind a few days later at a party for my friend’s son. The clown they’d hired was feverishly twisting balloons into swords and princess crowns, but not for my son. As the boys gallantly dueled each other, and the girls pranced about on their tippy-toes, my son scurried over to the table where I was seated with a red balloon tied in a loop, and proudly announced, “Look Mommy, an AIDS ribbon!”

The time he punished himself is also a great story. While I was on the phone with the local Boy Scout leader inquiring about their program, James began yelling at the top of his lungs that he would never join. (In retrospect, James in the Boy Scouts? What was I thinking?) When I hung up the phone, I was so upset with him that I told him I needed time to determine his punishment.  A half hour later, while we were driving to the grocery store, he told me through tears that he thought he should be punished for two weeks with no TV. I obliged, yet with the addition of a sorry card. If only all discipline were that easy.

As a young mother, I used to sneer at the seasoned parents who‘d warn, “Enjoy every moment,” their eyebrows raised in judgment, “they grow so fast, you know.” My contempt for their wisdom was surely fed by my insecurity as an unmarried, unprepared teenage mother, but also by their ignorance. I was young, but not stupid, and I resented their repeated assumption that my son was doomed. I didn’t need their sage advice to cherish him, but in the 15 years, 6 months, and 2 days since James was born, I’ve realized just how right they were.

-Nadia Brako


Android’s Face Unlock Feature – Proposed Change

Yes, we all love the new face unlock feature. That’s a given. But Google has to realize that it isn’t a surefire-perfect feature, and it’s design is its biggest fault. No one is going to be sitting down, completely still, at the perfect angle to be recognized all the time.From sun glare, darkness, to movement and bad days, this feature is very touchy with recognition.

A simple change would remedy this problem: Show the passcode lock as the main screen and move the time over a tad bit to allow for an icon sized front screen image. If it works, it works. If not, you’re not sitting there making faces to your phone hoping it recognizes you. Just a suggestion.

(No, That’s not me. Making that crystal clear.)


Why Are Hand Dryers So Much Better?

“What makes a hand dryer eco friendly? The power consumption of the dryer or watts used. Most eco friendly hand dryers tend to cut out the heating element therefore reducing the wattage. The American Dryer EXT model is only 540 watts of power and cost 18 cents per 1000 dries.”

-Taken from

Now, that sounds fine and dandy, but I find it pretty difficult to comprehend the claim that an electric device is more eco friendly, especially from a site that sells them. I’m going to do quite a bit of researching, to prove or disprove the above, because unlike 95% of Americans, I actually sit there drying my hands, pondering whether or not this is the right way to go.

It’s no question that it costs less to run a hand dryer, which require about $14.58 per month to run, saving you more than $60 per month as a business  but the actual environmental friendless is nowhere to be found online, or so I thought.

I stumbled across an MIT study which conveniently answered all my questions in one foul swoop.

“This study clearly concludes that the Dyson Airblade™ hand dryer has the lowest environmental impact compared with all other possible hand drying systems – collectively scoring the lowest across all possible measures. This examination includes not only GWP but also potential human health impacts, ecosystem quality, energy demand, water consumption, and land occupation, and including all life cycle stages, from cradle to grave.”

Yes, it focused on three specific hand dryers, but those three make up the greater part of our country’s offices, stores and restaurants but also took account for the general heated dryer.

Simply put, there is NO comparison to the energy consumption from the making of a paper towel roll that will have to be replaced in a matter of days to the energy consumption from creating and running a newer dryer. I never thought I’d say this, but: In terms of environmentally friendliness, land occupation, and pretty much every category tested, the dryer wins hands down. Take a look at the full study to see more of the comparisons.