This is where I will talk about my various projects. This includes home improvement, woodworking,, robotics, and more.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cool Web Stuff

In an attempt to better tell the story of my most recent work trips, I used a couple of new (to me) web tools. First, I used the My Maps feature on Google Maps to create a storyboard of my journey (with my coworker and friend, Andrew) around Cape Canaveral Air Force Base looking for the Apollo I launch pad. Next, I used Zooomr to create a couple of picture boards that allow you to see a more detailed image by hovering over or clicking on 'portals' in the image. These things are described in more detail in the Life Blog (first entry & second entry) or you can look directly at the Google My Map and the Zooomr pictures of the Vehicle Assembly Building and Mercury Monument. Sorry if they don't work for IE users, I'm not sure why I had trouble.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Google Analytics

Some of you probably know that I am a bit obsessed with all of the tools, toys, and services that Google has to offer. Well, I've just made a basic update to the web page to take advantage of yet another. It is Google Analytics which lets you view statistics about traffic on your site. I've been using Stat Counter from the beginning and I haven't gotten rid of it. The little number at the bottom right of every page is my unique visitor count from Stat Counter. My only complaint is that I only get to see the last 100 page loads with the free subscription, but I just thought I'd add Google's free tool as well to see if I like it.

By the way, I've got some other projects to update you on. E just dumped a month or so worth of pictures off her camera so hopefully I'll be able to give you some updates soon.

Edit (4 Aug 08): fixed broken links.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Customizing Outlook Today

This post talks about how to customize the Outlook Today page. This is something I worked on a while back when I was trying to increase productivity at work. I wanted to have everything that I look at in one place: calendar, tasks, unread mail, and mail marked for follow-up. Here's a screen shot of what my Outlook Today page looks like.

Custom OT Screen Shot

So, it's not beautiful but it is functional. It just uses basic HTML along with a bunch of special Outlook stuff. At various times, I've had the weather, a Google search bar, and other basic things on the page. The other warning before I give you the file to download is that I just patched this together from the default Outlook Today page and various custom pages I found on the web so the HTML is very ugly. Please, no complaints about how poorly it is written. It works and that's all I was going for. I'd be happy to see improvements, however, if anyone wants to send them to me. Anyway, here is a my custom Outlook Today page and associated files.

To install, you just unzip the files anywhere on your computer, open Outlook, right click on your mailbox, select properties, go to the home page tab, and browse for the Custom_OT.htm file. When you apply the setting, you might get an error message that you can ignore. The first thing you might notice is that because of the embedded email windows, the page doesn't work particularly well if the embedded email folders have the Reading Pane active.. You can turn it off by selecting the email folders (by default, Unread Mail and For Follow Up) and then View->Reading Pane->Off. Next, I'll talk a little about customizing this page and give you refer you to some more information.

To customize the folders that show up in the Messages section, how the calendar looks, and how your tasks are organized, you need to edit the registry (Start->Run->Regedit). Outlook Tips defines the registry keys that affect the appearance of Outlook Today. Defining the folders isn't as hard as the site makes it seem though. For instance, one of my entries is just "Search Folders\Unread Mail". Let me know if you have any trouble setting things up. The other thing you might want to customize is the mail folders that show up at the bottom of the page. For that, open Custom_OT.htm in notepad (or your favorite HTML editor) and search for "Search Folders". You'll find it twice. I have "Search Folders\Unread Mail" and "Search Folders\For Follow Up" and you can replace them with whatever you wish.

If you are interest in more information, slipstick has some. The links on that page might be of particular interest. I also collected various parts of my custom page from other sites that I can't seem to find again so sorry to the people I ripped off without crediting. Good luck!


Thursday, January 18, 2007


I've been wanting to setup our desktop computer to act kind of like a server for the laptop. Basically, we'll store all important data on the desktop and the laptop will access it through the network and use Windows' offline folders capability to make sure the laptop also has a local copy. I figured that before switching to this approach, I would change my current setup of 2 independent serial ATA (SATA) hard drives into a mirrored set (RAID 1) which provides automatic backup of data in case of a hard drive failure.

Sounds simple enough...I found a cheap PCI card (from Rosewill) that supports SATA RAID and tried to install it. As Windows is booting, I got a blue screen and then an automatic restart. It didn't even give me time to read the data on the blue screen. I tried everything I could think of to get it working without success and the best part is that when I returned everything to the original configuration, Windows still wouldn't boot properly. It took several attempts and the painstaking process of reloading Windows including all patches before I could successfully restore my backup. So a week later, I'm back where I started!

It appears that all of the reasonably priced cards use the same RAID chip so I'm not confident that just trying a different card will help me and I can't upgrade my motherboard without replacing a bunch of other, I'm still trying to figure out my next step. I'm open to suggestions.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Site Feed Issues

I recently 'upgraded' to Blogger in Beta. It has tons of great new features most of which are completely useless if you publish to your own website like I do. That doesn't bother me though because I wasn't looking for new features, I was just upgrading because I figured it needed to be done at some point. What does bother me though is that there are site feed issues that have appeared.

First, Blogger in Beta organizes your posts in the order of their update date instead of their publish date. This means that correcting an old spelling mistake or other minor issue brings the post back to the top of the queue. This is why Broken Garage Door appears before Computer Desk: Part II - 'Oops!' in the list. Second, I use FeedBurner for my feed and since the Blogger in Beta switch, subscribing to the feed using a Google reader shows the posts in an unexplainable order. I am working on the problem (including this test post) and will hopefully have the problem fixed shortly.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Coffee Table Design

Once we had the ottomans built, we had to decide on a table design. E and I had talked about several but I had a real hard time picturing the one she liked most so I looked for drawing programs that would help. I stumbled on POV-Ray, a ray tracing program with which people can make some amazing images. I figured if people could make such incredibly realistic images, that I could pull off something representative of our table designs. Here are a couple of designs:

table design in POV-Raytable design in POV-Ray
Ottoman in POV-Ray

I don't remember but I think those may have been my designs which is why they are not as good as the final product. ;-) Of course, how could I possibly visualize the finished product without a simulated ottoman? Okay, at this point your thinking I have way too much time on my hands, which is not entirely untrue, but really it is not nearly as hard as it may look. I think I only spent a week or so working on POV-Ray, which is not bad considering I had never heard of it when I started.

Anyway, the final design is shown below with and without the ottomans. It was very helpful to have the 3D model of the table because not only did it help me see what E was talking about but it helped us tweak the design. Yes, believe it or not, it wasn't perfect from the start. For instance, I added the center piece so that it wouldn't just fall over. Also, we used the program to help us decide how thick the wood and aluminum rods should be. I'll talk about the construction and show you the finished project soon.

table design in POV-Raytable design in POV-Ray

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Thursday, July 27, 2006


I've updated the syndication for this page and for Elizabeth's ISU Blog. We are now using to provide additional feed services. I also added more options for subscribing in the sidebar. If you have already subscribed to the feeds on either of our sites, simply eliminate your previous link and use the new links provided in the sidebars of our blogs. Sorry for the trouble.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006


I have updated Taylored Truth, including the blogs, to support switching stylesheets. If you are using a capable browser like Mozilla Firefox, you can switch the style through the menus. I have also added links in the sidebar (of pages that have sidebars) to allow the switching. This setting will affect all pages you view at Taylored Truth including future visits, but you must have cookies enabled. I am still working on the Photo Album so it may be a few days before it reflects the updates.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Taylored Truth Updates

So it has been a while since I have posted but I am not just sitting around. I've been out of town for a few days and now I am working on updates to the web page. I guess that counts as a project of sorts. Anyway, I have already made a few changes that you might have noticed, particularly to fonts. I am trying to improve the readability of the site. The next step is to allow readers to select alternate stylesheets. This is primarily to help the readers who struggle reading the white text on a dark background.

As far as reporting on my other projects, I am currently in the planning stages of building a desk for the kitchen (to go in the breakfast nook). I may be in the planning stages for a while though because it is a big project and not easy to design. Of course, E has already set out the overall look, I just have to figure out how to make it happen.

I plan on continuing to update the site with descriptions of already completed projects. Next on the list are the ottomans and coffee table.

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