How to Stop Those Annoying Auto-play Videos on Websites

Howdy, and Happy Holidays to you – a little late! Our CHRISTmas and New Year were a blur with all the kids home and a quick trip to the Green Bay game on the 28th – one of our long-term bucket list items! Has been an amazing couple of weeks, but we’re ready to slow it down a notch now.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but one of my pet peeves online is visiting a website to read an article and hearing audio after a few seconds. Sure enough, somewhere on the site, there’s a video playing – that I did NOT ask for. Ugh!

I just learned how to stop that, at least in Chrome, the browser I use most. Turns out, it’s a change to a simple Flash setting.

In Chrome, you click the menu icon on the upper-right corner and select Settings. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the Show advanced settings link.

Scroll down further until you find the Privacy section. Click the Content settings button.

In the resulting Content Settings dialog box, scroll down to the Plug-ins section. Select Click to play, then click the Done button in the lower-right corner.

From then on, a Flash window will appear as a gray box with a jigsaw piece icon in the center. If you want to watch the video, click in that box. It’ll look like this:

0101 blocked chrome

Wish I’d researched how to do this long ago! It’s one of those little annoyances that’s just nice to turn off.

That’s it for now! God bless you and yours in the year 2015 AD!

(PS – If you’ve never been to Green Bay – GO! It’s an amazing experience!)

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

“All things new…” Rev 21:5

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Quick Tip: The Best Mousetrap Bait Ever!

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Hope you’re kicking back and taking some time off. Most of our kids are home for a visit today, and we are so abundantly blessed, all I can say is “Thank you, Lord”.

We just got about 9″ of beautiful, wet snow here on the hill, sticking to every twig. This is the season when mice love coming in and taking up residence in our 125 year-old cellar, and a snowstorm motivates them to do that in numbers that just don’t work for us.After checking the “trap line” in our cellar a little while ago, it dawned on me that some of you might not know the best bait for a mouse trap.

I’ve tried pretty much everything over the years, but hands-down the best bait to use is, surprisingly, Tootsie Rolls. Yep, good old T rolls. Our mice go after ’em like cocaine, and the sneaky little buggers can’t lick it off a trap like peanut butter!

Just chew a T roll up a bit or work it in your hand until soft, then work a gob onto the trap.

We should be saving all the pelts; could probably make a nice soft sweater, or something. 😉

God bless you,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

1 Thess 5:18

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Storing Wooden Sawhorses

We have a nice old pair of wooden, non-folding sawhorses, made for me by my master carpenter Father-in-law several decades ago, and I finally came up with a good way to store them out of the way when not needed.

I use them often so they need to be within reach while not taking up any valuable garage floor space, so they now hang upside-down from the ceiling rafters, back to back. Not sure why I never thought of this before!

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Our garage has a 9 foot ceiling, so I can walk under them without having my “bells rung”, but can easily reach up and quickly pull down one or both of them.

Not thrilled about drilling holes through the 2 x 4 truss rafter, I bent up a pair of simple hanger hooks from some 1/4″ mild steel rod salvaged from an old futon we scrapped a while back. The hooks just hang over the top of the rafter, prevented from sliding around by a couple of small round-crown staples on top. The hook ends fit through 1/2″ holes drilled in the center of two legs of each horse. 

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I’m pleasantly surprised by how well this has worked out. I’ve been walking around these horses for a long time, and with the limited space [cough] on my side of the garage, this is a big improvement.

Hope that’s helpful.

God bless you,

Dave
www.DavesRepair.com

Amos 4:13

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A Terrific Rust Removal Method – Electrolysis!

We’ve been cleaning out the barn and hauling old wringer washer “skeletons” and the other accumulated tons of miscellaneous scrap metal to our local junkyard this week. On our first trip there, I noticed this old, rust-caked hammer head lying on the ground where we backed in.

‘Been wanting to try a new (to me) rust removal method I’d heard about recently, and this was the perfect small piece to experiment with, so it rode home with us.

I didn’t hold out much hope for the process, because over the years I’ve tried most of the chemical methods for removing rust, but after seeing how well this works, I’m kicking myself for not taking a “before” photo of this hammer for you, so you could see the difference.

This little hammer head was a mess, caked with heavy, flakey rust, looking like it’d been lying there in the dirt for years (and probably was). After 2 hours in a simple electrolysis bath and about 2 minutes with a wire brush, the difference is dramatic, to say the least! I’m sold on this “rust resurrection” method!

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I recommend watching the YouTube videos on the subject for the details (search for “electrolysis rust removal”), but basically a rusty part is hung by a piece of wire in water that has a bit (I used about a half cup – the amount’s not crucial) of “washing soda” (sodium carbonate) dissolved in it – warm water works fastest – and another piece of metal is held in the water on the other side of the container. I used a 2 gallon plastic bucket, but most any plastic container or pail can be used as long as the work can be totally immersed.

Connect a regular 12 volt car battery charger’s negative terminal to the work, the positive to the “sacrificial” piece of metal, making sure they’re not touching each other in the solution. Plug in the battery charger and wait a while, and – wow! What a difference! Note: be sure the negative is connected to the work you want to clean of rust. If you get the terminals reversed, you’ll make the part *more* rusty!

I didn’t have any washing soda on hand, but we did have an old box of “20 Mule Team Borax” laundry additive here, so I used that, with great results. I assume this chemical just makes the water more conductive, not sure about that.

Note: This process generates hydrogen gas, so it’s probably best if it’s done outside, or at least with lots of ventilation. I ran this little experiment outside on our roofed deck.

Anyway, watch the details on YouTube, then give it a try. Best method I’ve found yet! A special thanks to my friend “MrPete222” for introducing me to it via his YT channel. 

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

Acts 4:12

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Another Terrific Headache-Saving Little Computer Utility

Via a passing mention in PCWorld magazine, I just found a real time saving little computer utility that I already LOVE after using it for just two days.

I copy and paste all day long, usually into Thunderbird email, and text formatting from other sources loves to follow it into Tbird, which can be  a real pain.

Ever since changing over to Win 7 and Tbird a while back, I’ve been copying text first into notepad, then copying it out of Notepad again before finally pasting it into Tbird (or any other software). That removes the formatting and makes it look presentable in an email.

Turns out, the free little utility called “PureText” removes this formatting in one step, without the extra copy/paste. That may not sound like a big deal to some folks, but if you spend much time on PC’s, you’ll know it’s a HUGE time and aggravation saver! (I copied this article from my word processor directly into this blog post using PT and [Windows-V] with none of the usual reformatting necessary)

A guy named Steve Miller authored and freely offers this handy software, and other utilities, at SteveMiller.net/apps. 

Many thanks, Steve! PureText’s a real keeper! 

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

Amos 4:13

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Making an Impact With an Electric Wrench

I recently had to replace ball joints on my old pickup truck, and since that experience and a few others with our vehicles lately, this has become a tool I never want to be without.

I have 3 air compressors around this place, but none of them provides the CFM to run an air impact wrench for very long, so I started looking around for another solution this summer.

The DeWalt 1/2″ electric version – this one’s model DW292 – fits the bill, and has effortlessly loosened everything I’ve thrown at it. Love this tool! No waiting for a compressor to catch up, or wondering if there’s enough air supply, just plug it in and go!

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There’s a short learning curve to properly retighten lug nuts and I still double-check them with the old T-wrench, but this things fast, fast, fast. No more loosening lugs with the vehicle sitting on the garage floor, then jacking it up and wrenching them off. Just jack her up, and in a few seconds the lugs are off. Not quite as fast as a NASCAR pit crew, but… 

Wish I’d known these were serious tools years ago. I always thought the electrics were more of a toy than a tool. Sure glad I tried one.

I bought this one via Amazon Prime, along with a set of deep sockets, and as you can probably tell, have no regrets. One tip, though: The little socket retaining pin was stiff and too sharp, making it hard to attach/remove sockets when this one first arrived. A little touchup with a Dremel tool softened the pin’s edges and solved that.

If you work on your own vehicles and don’t have a huge air compressor (or maybe even if you do), buy one of these! It’ll save you a lot of time.

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

Amos 4:13

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How to Easily Remove Jar and Bottle Labels

‘Been using this little trick almost daily for a while now, and thought maybe you could get some use out of it, too. I was just reminded of this when my Lovely asked me to get a stubborn label off a nice glass bottle she wants to re-use. Mineral spirits cleanly took it off in a few minutes, and I finished up with a bit of WD-40 to take off the last of the adhesive residue and give it some sheen. 

I have a small (3-1/2 gallon) parts washer tank here in the shop,  and keep it about half filled with ordinary “Low Odor Mineral Spirits”, sold as paint thinner by our local True Value hardware store. Not only is the stuff very good for degreasing small parts like Mixmaster worm gears, spindles, etc, it does a great job loosening those irritating bottle and jar labels, too (Note: don’t try to run this stuff through a parts washer pump – it’ll kill it pretty quickly. My little tank went pump-less many years ago). 

Back when I was taking gazillions of daily meds, I accumulated a lot of pill bottles, which are really handy around the shop.  Just drop them into a container of this and let them soak for a few hours, or even overnight. You’ll often find the label lying in the bottom of the tank, completely removed from the jar or bottle. 

I’ve been surprised that this doesn’t attack the plastics I’ve tried it with so far. Even thin peanut butter jars, etc, aren’t affected by the solvent, but the adhesive used in their labels certainly is. You’ll want to experiment with small jobs with whatever brand you use, just to make sure your results are similar to mine, but the True Value branded version works great for me. 

I do recommend using rubber gloves – Nitrile ones work best – and paint thinner is somewhat flammable, so use with care. 

Hope that’s helpful! 

God bless you, and Happy Independence Day to my U. S. friends! 

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

John 8:32, 36

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Like Jigsaw Puzzles? Change Your Ford Truck Brake Shoes!

About 20 years ago I did a job that I promised myself I’d never, ever do again. I got it done last Wednesday evening. I know, I know, but I learned some things, so the time and aggravation wasn’t totally wasted. One of the first things I learned, I confess, was that my patience level isn’t as much improved as I thought it was. It’s better than it was 2 decades back, but I’m definitely not “there” yet.

Anyway, I’m referring to replacing the rear brake shoes on a Ford truck, this one the 2000 E150 van with which I ran daily service calls back when I still did that. This time I actually had the right tool for the job, which always makes life better.

Knowing my 10-minute memory, I thought it wise to take a few digital photos of the jigsaw puzzle of springs, links, and cables before tearing it all apart, and I also left the opposite wheel assembled for a reference if needed. Turned out I did need one of the pictures to clear up one detail, and it was nice to have them availble.

It was still a nasty job that took half a day, mostly due to my re-learning the following fact the hard way: The front and rear shoes on each wheel are NOT the same. They look identical at first glance, while resting in the box, and with no notes or instructions of any kind included in the box to remind me of the fact, of course I didn’t remember that they are indeed different.

So, just in case you love jigsaw puzzles and ever feel a need to tackle this job yourself, be aware that the lining on the rear brake shoe is longer than the front one. In this case, the rears were about 11″ long, the fronts about 8″-9″. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’ll fit just fine reversed; they won’t work right. 

Another word to the wise: If you don’t already own one, when you buy the brake shoes, also buy one of the special pliers made for removing and installing the springs. I couldn’t remember whether I had one or not, so I bought (a second) one. That turned out well, though, because they differed just enough to make one more handy for removing the upper springs, and the other better for reinstalling them. Oh, and pickup a can of brake cleaner spray. Wash the whole area down with the stuff, then walk away for a few minutes while it dries. Makes the job a little less of a mess – and a lot less dangerous to your lungs than blowing all that asbestos dust around with compressed air (NEED I SAY IT? PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!)

They also sell a special tool to lock and unlock the shoe retainer springs from their pins, but it’s not necessary for the small springs on this 1/2 ton truck. Just compress the springs with a nutdriver – 3/8″ will work – then reach around behind the backing plate and turn the spring retainer pin 90 degrees with your fingers when it goes into the slot in the spring cap. That works well for me.

Anyway, that’s what I learned this week. Actually last week, but it was too traumatic to talk about back then ;-). The whole thing reminded me of that old James Bond movie title, “Never Say Never Again” (With the only GENUINE Bond, of course, Sean Connery)

So before my ADD gets any worse and I start to ramble too far out on the ridge, I’ll leave you for now. Hope that’s of some use.

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

Acts 4:12

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Two Quick Tips on Summer Bird Feeding

If you have sugar-loving ants getting into your Hummingbird feeders, try coating the feeder’s hanger with some ordinary blackboard or sidewalk chalk. For some reason, they hate crossing the stuff! I watched them try it again yesterday, and they refused to cross it to get to a feeder they’d been freely using before I did this to our hanger brackets.

Most of our feeders are under the edge of a porch roof, so rain doesn’t wash it off. If yours is out in the weather, you may have to re-apply it after a heavy rain, but it should last longer for me than the old method (kerosene on a piece of cloth, which worked, but dried out every few days).

I’ve mentioned how before how handy this home-made tool is, but I use two of these every day, and thought you could get some use out of it, too:

If you have bears and raccoons where you live, you already know how much they love to destroy bird feeders. Rubber buckshot is a wonderful invention, but the only lasting solution is to just bring the feeders inside overnight (One of the nice things about winter is just leaving the seed and suet feeders out 24/7).

This is no small job at our house, with over a dozen Hummer and seed feeders having to make the trip every morning and evening, but it’s a lot faster and easier using two simple “hook-sticks”.

Just a 3 foot piece of old broomstick (Note: ask your Lovely before commandeering her best broom for this!) with a row of 5 hooks attached about 8″ apart, one of these can make the job a one-trip affair. There are other uses for them, too, like carrying plastic bags of groceries, two per hook, from the car to the house, moving hanging baskets, etc.

Birdfeeder Hook Stick

It’s a simple but really handy tool. Make one, and let me know what other uses you find for yours.

God bless you and yours,

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

Acts 4:12

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Saying Hello to Linux

Having been blessed with several spare, older (previously XP) computers around here to experiment with, I’ve been able to try out a half-dozen Linux releases, or “distro’s” over the last year or so. I stayed with Linux Lite the longest, but another one that adds a lot of “eye candy” and polish is L. Mint 16 KDE, a really nice-looking, smooth-running OS. Have been using that one for several weeks now, and love it. 

I’ll probably end up a total Linux user eventually, because I use too many PC’s here to pay MS for Windows licenses for them all. And I have older hardware that refuses to die, but still works perfectly (an ancient HP laser printer, Epson flatbed scanner, etc), but with which newer Windows versions refuse to “play”. My tightwad side just can’t buy into the “change for the sake of change” mentality and scrap this stuff. And these workhorses work fine under Linux, so that’s where I’ll start heading. 

Also, since I’ve been rambling about computers lately, let me share two quick tips with you.

1) I can’t overstate the increase in productivity and time savings that result from using multiple monitors. I’ve been using 3 monitors here in the office for nearly a decade now, and wonder how in the world I ever got along with just one. Copying/pasting from one open app/window into another, rather than constantly opening/closing individual windows, is something you have to experience to appreciate! If you spend much time using a computer, do it! But be forewarned: you’ll never go back to a single monitor after trying 2 or more!

2) The second tip that’s really helped me a lot, especially with the limited space on my physical desktop, is a handy little piece of software called Synergy. I currently have one PC running Linux Mint connected to a monitor left of center in front of me. 2 more monitors, one dead-center, another to the right, are both driven by the same Windows 7 machine. With Synergy, I can use the same wireless keyboard and mouse on both boxes.

Amazingly, Synergy works seamlessly across networked Windows, Linux, and Mac machines this way, even allowing copy/paste to/from across them! If you have multiple Windows machines, Input Director is another good solution for this, and is a bit easier to initially set up than Synergy. As of this writing, ID only works across Windows, but it’s also a terrific little utility.

www.Synergy-foss.com
www.InputDirector.com

Hope that’s helpful. God bless you, and Happy Easter! 

Dave Harnish
www.DavesRepair.com

1 Corinthians 15:3, 4

 

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