My first intro to the world of video surveillance came when, in a flurry of poor economic decision-making, I purchased a Toshiba network surveillance camera which I installed as part of my mission to keep dogs from pooping on our lawn (daily). Although that camera turned out to be problematic, it got my feet wet in video surveillance. After limping along a few years with a single camera that crashed seemingly more than it ran, I decided it was time to upgrade the surveillance system to multiple cameras, and document that process for HomeFixated readers. In the content below, you’ll find essential tips and suggestions on everything from network switches to budget-conscious network video cameras that perform well. [Read more...]
Johnson Level sent us their fastest growing level for a review. By “fastest growing”, I don’t necessarily mean market share. I’m talking literally here. Johnson has a new line of levels made out of bamboo (which, by the way, is technically a grass and grows insanely fast). We checked out the 24″ version of the 1601 Eco-Tech series bamboo levels, and they also make a four foot version. [Read more...]
Before I get started on my in-depth analysis, let me say that the Ratcheting ReadyWrench by Black & Decker may be the single greatest hand tool I’ve ever used. Here’s the basic information: The Ratcheting ReadyWrench is a double ended closed wrench/ratchet. Each end of the ratchet is capable of pivoting to give you four different sizes per end. Sure, I’ve used dog bone wrenches similar to the Ratcheting ReadyWrench, but none so nice. Oh, by the way, it’s not just four sizes but eight. The Ratcheting ReadyWrench is machined to be able to properly grip both standard size bolts and the nearest equivalent metric. For example, ½” and 13mm can each fit in the same hole. But to make this tool even better, Black & Decker added ratcheting mechanisms to both ends. So instead of removing and resetting the wrench to turn more, all you have to do is crank backwards just like a ratchet.
Several years ago we embarked on a fateful remodel project. It was a questionable use of resources, but now we have at least one section of our house that is less likely to instantly crumble in the next earthquake. As with many job sites, we had a fascinating cast of characters, including a carpenter named Phil. He was from the UK, took great pride in his work, and he also introduced me to the Werner work platform. I don’t think I have ever seen someone so excited about a ladder-ish thingamajig as Phil, with the possible exception of the Little Giant ladder folks at various trade shows. Phil would tell me about how great this thing was, daily. The remodel ended (eventually), and Phil rode off into the sunset with his Werner Work Platform tucked under his arm. Years went by, and then I spotted a Black Friday special at Lowes. The pricing was insanely low, and I could hear Phil’s accented voice telling me I would be equally insane not to buy it. [Read more...]
I like closets, at least in my mind, but often they get forgotten. Like mine did. Shortly after Christmas I had an issue with my hot water heater that is stored in the downstairs closet. The hot water heater definitely had to go, but once I removed the junk that our closet held, it got me looking at how awful the closet actually was. Closets in general seem to get the very least attention of any space in the house. You throw in your clothes or shoes, a random vacuum cleaner, odds and ends, the occasional tool, etc. They really are the junk drawers of the house. Because of their red-headed stepchild status, closets tend to be neglected and can fall into disrepair quickly. As I see it, there are at least three reasons why you shouldn’t neglect your closets.
Yep, it’s time for more news of up and coming, clever and time-saving tools! In this edition of Tool News Nirvana, we’ve got items that will save you the mess of bags and rags, a couple of high-end tools for more ambitious products, a light that might become your new best friend, and a cool new website for outdoor tools of all varieties. Plus some non-tool news we unscrupulously snuck into this Tool News Nirvana edition. [Read more...]
Often times in life, good things are born from seemingly bad situations. And so it goes for homeownership too. We recently had some roofing repairs done to our Spanish tile roof. When the roofers began to tackle a leak around our chimney, I heard the dreaded words you never want to hear from your roofer, “Marc, I think you might want to come up here and take a look at this.” Up the ladder I went, and there to greet me were several gaping cracks in our vintage 1936 brick and stucco chimney. I’m no mason, but I knew it was bad. In fact, I had pretended not to notice them from ground level in the past, but now that I was up close, it looked like the top of our chimney was just about to split in two or three pieces before crumbling down. [Read more...]
Okay, so it’s not technically a true split rail, but it’s a sturdier alternative. This split rail looking fence with wire mesh was a necessity for us since the arrival of two puppies not long ago. The “Dog Whisperer” I am not, and I was clearly delusional in thinking I could have them trained to stay on command by the age of four months. Whether you need to keep puppies in or pests out, this just might be an appealing alternative to the traditional split rail fence. [Read more...]