Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chrome Font Smoothing

I'm not a big fan of OSX's font smoothing and I'm not fond of Chrome on OSX's font smoothing either so I end up turning it off with the following:

~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/User StyleSheets/Custom.css

body { -webkit-font-smoothing: none }

Other options are:  subpixel-antialiased and antialiased.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Garage Workshop

Even before we moved into our house, I had been planning an area to be my workshop.  I wanted a place that was organized, comfortable and had the space for me to work on projects big and small.

Everything is against one wall or on wheels so they can be moved against the wall to help conserve space.

It felt good to have built a lot of the things myself (with some assistance from a little helper) including the workbench, carts and some of the shelving.

I'm looking forward to being able to build some stuff here.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mitre Station in the Workshop

While the Kapex isn't a large compound sliding mitre saw, having it on my workbench effectively took up most of the available work surface so I've been wanting to build some kind of miter station for it.  Originally I thought about building a mobile mitre station, but after some thought decided to just build a stationary one next to the workbench at the same height so the workbench can double as a work piece support extension.

It's essentially just a box with an compartment underneath being used to house the dust collector.  The main challenges for the build were making it level since my garage has a pretty steep slope and getting the height right so that the Kapex is at the same height as the workbench.  I used shims on the back to and on the front I used some machine levelers to make it easier to adjust the height.  I was able to get it even with the workbench.

There is an opening in the back for the hose, power cord and air to flow through.

The other side of the station still need an extension so I'm thinking of building a folding extension that I can pull out whenever I need to use it.  Also, some shelving next to the station would be useful and would complete my work space "L".

Dust Collection for Router Table

I have a list of woodworking projects that I've been wanting to do and last weekend I planned on completing a couple of them.  My work area is in the garage and shares space with the car.  To do any work requires that I back the car out and setup my tools each time.  This isn't a big problem as most of time since I have most of my tools on mobile carts and setup time is minimal.  The project I had planned on doing involved cutting down full sheets of plywood so there was some extra setup assembling my cutting table.  While this takes away time that I'd like to spend working on the projects it's a minor annoyance.  Now what is frustrating each time I get to time to do some work is the dust clean up especially when I work with the router.  So much dust is generated that I always have to cut my working time so I can clean and vacuum up the mess and while I can keep the car outside during the weekend I have to clean at the end of each session since I don't want the family to have to go through all the dust.  This meant that I probably spent a couple of hours out of a few hours on cleaning.

I decided that I need to do something about this otherwise I just won't be able to get much done, so I started to see if I can put some kind of dust collector into the router table.  Most plans show a dust collector connected to the back or base of the router, but a lot of people also mentioned that this didn't work very well in actually capturing the dust.  Also, a lot of dust actually accumulate above the table..  Buying a Festool 1400 and the CMS module isn't a realistic option, so I did some  more searching and found the Keen Dust Collector for Routers.

Essentially this is a little rubber cut that you put on the underside of your router plate so that dust doesn't fall down into the router and router table.  By limiting the space where dust can spew a vacuum's section is a lot more effective in capture the dust.

I have a Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop Contractor Benchtop Router Table which is an enclosed router table so setup involved drilling a hole in the back to run the vacuum hose through.

There is is plastic sheet that sits between the router base and the router table.  It has a velcro ring that the blue rubber cup sticks to so the cup doesn't move around.  Mount your router and put in the rubber cup and then attach the hose.

Conclusion?  It works very well!  I cut multiple dados through 3/4 in plywood and very few dust got on the floor or into the router cabinet.  It was good enough that I felt comfortable going right back into the house after a slight dust off with my hands for some dust that did get on to my shirt and pants.  For about $40, you can have  a pretty effective dust collector for the router table that can save hours of clean up.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mobile MFT3 Cart with Boom Arm and Storage

My "workshop" is, like many people, in the garage and one stipulation from She Who Must Be Obeyed for letting me indulge in my hobby is that the garage must still be able to function for its intended purpose for at least one car.  That means being able to move stuff around and out of the way.   While the MFT/3 is not super heavy, it doesn't motivate me to want to me to move it.  Besides moving the table itself there is the vac and other pieces of equipment that needs to be moved as well.  I decided that what I need is a mobile cart with storage that will keep everything together and I just need to roll one thing around.

The result is this mobile storage cart for my MFT3:

I got a lot of the inspiration from others especially those who posted on the Festool Owners Group.  I added a boom arm to hold up the vacuum hose and power cord so they stay out of the way when I'm cutting.  There are 3 compartments for storing things in the front and a small storage place in the back as well.  The caster are machine leveling casters from WoodRiver which keeps it stable and stationary when, but when I want to move it I can lower the wheel.

Finding a place to keep the saw between cuts has always been a pain so I decided to have  space next to the table to put it down.  I put in some sides to prevent it from accidentally falling off.

I haven't done too much since building the cart, but I have some projects in mind if only I can find the time... :-)

Shuttle XH61

The trend at our house has been to move away from having large desktop machines to smaller specialized devices (e.g. having a NAS instead of a server with big drives).  My wife's primary machine, which she used mostly as a desktop replacement, was an older Thinkpad x300 that started to show its age especially when it came to watching HD videos.  I decided to upgrade her machine but it must meet her criteria that it be small enough to fit into her desk drawer (don't want clutter) and at the same time powerful enough to run her apps (including Photoshop, Picasa, etc.), and watch videos. It also needs to be able to access all the various peripherals such as the printers and scanners that we currently have.

For portability we already have the Android tablet and a Google Chromebook (CR48) so portability was not as crucial as when we bought the Thinkpad.  At that time, mini PCs were non-existent or a joke of a machine.  Now, there are small powerful options that can do everything short of playing super high-end games.  My first thought was get a Chromebox.  I really like the ease and convenience of ChromeOS.  It's small, fast and does the majority of the things that people use their computers for these days (browsing the web and using web applications).  Another benefit is that it really have zero to low maintenance.  However, the one shortcoming of the Chromebox is its peripheral support.  I don't think it's able to use my network printer and scanner directly so I reluctantly gave up on the little beauty.

The next obvious option is the mac mini, but after mulling it over it feels underpowered for the price.  The starting price is not too bad, but the memory upgrade is expensive, there is no optical drive and I've been disappointed with Lion and Mountain Lion.  I also worry about the direction that Apple is going which seem to be to put a lot of restrictions on a general purpose PC to make it not general purpose.

After searching around for the mini-desktop PC, I finally decided to buy the Shuttle XH61 barebones system and put together a machine myself.  Along with the kit, I had to buy a CPU (Intel Core i7 2600S), memory (8GB), bluetooth adaptor, solid state drive and an optical drive.  The i7 comes with an integrated GPU so I don't need to buy a separate video card unless I plan to do highend gaming, but this is not the rig for that.  For the OS, I ended up going with Windows 7 instead of Linux simply for the ease of running my wife's apps.

Putting the system together was surprising easy.  Putting all the components (CPU, memory and SSD) in took about 30 minutes and it had no problems recognizing the external USB DVD drive on boot-up.  The machine is super quiet and the i7 is a speedy little sucker.  Installing Windows 7 was fast on the SSD, memory and network so her new machine was up in less then an hour.

Some shortcomings of the system include it doesn't come with any video cables for this video output (VGA or HDMI).  It doesn't have DVI (just analog VGA and HDMI), but fortunately I had a spare HDMI cable lying around.  It doesn't come with  bluetooth (needed for keyboard) or WIFI support (does have gigabit ethernet which is what I'll be using anyway).

All-in-all, it is a fine little system that runs super quiet and makes my wife happy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Vundle to manage my VIM plugins.

To avoid getting too dependent on a VIM plugin that might not be available on the different machines I access, I've avoided having too many of them.  I mainly look for plugins that will make writing code faster since I do most of my development on just 2-3 machines.  Recently, a project required me to get back into Java programming.  Java projects are one of those that really seems to benefit from using some form of IDE especially for navigating through the code, but after trying Eclipse (which is pretty nice) I still felt that writing code is faster in VIM for me.

That lead me to Eclim which is an Eclipse and VIM plugin combo that allowed VIM to access Eclipse's functionality.  This is pretty cool as it allowed me to do most of my work in VIM and switch to Eclipse when I needed to.  While this solution works, I started getting the itch to see how VIM can handle some of the tasks I was depending on Eclipse for so I started looking at various VIM plugins which led me to research how to manage plug-ins in general.

Initially all the info I found talked about Pathogen which allowed each plug-in to be stored in its own directory and address the big problem of having all of your plugins clumped together in the .vim directories.  However, you still had to manually download and install each plugin.  Most users of Pathogen went the path of using Git to manage the plugins pulling each plugin from Git as a submodule.  I was about to give Pathogen a try when I came across Vundle.  Vundle take Pathogen and take it one step further by integrating the downloading and installation of your plugins.

Essentially, you install the Vundle plugin and then in your .vimrc list the plugins you want to use.  Start up VIM and do a ":BundleInstall" and it will download the plugins to their own directory and install/upgrade each one.  It's all very clean.

set nocompatiblefiletype offset rtp+=~/.vim/bundle/vundlecall vundle#rc()
Bundle 'gmarik/vundle'
Bundle "bufexplorer.zip"Bundle "snipMate"Bundle "SuperTab-continued."Bundle "taglist.vim"
Bundle "bufkill.vim"Bundle "Command-T"
 Having this at the top of your .vimrc and you can immediately see what kind plugins to use (remove one and Vundle will uninstall it for you as well).  If you share your .vimrc across multiple machine (i.e. through github) you don't have worry about keeping copies or download the plugins yourself since vundle handles all of that.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Uninstalling MySQL on OSX

If you use the package installer to install MySQL (as opposed to building from source, from macports, etc.) then do the following when you want to remove MySQL:

sudo rm /usr/local/mysql
sudo rm -rf /usr/local/mysql*
sudo rm -rf /Library/StartupItems/MySQLCOM
sudo rm -rf /Library/PreferencePanes/My*
sudo rm -rf /Library/Receipts/mysql*
sudo rm -rf /Library/Receipts/MySQL*
sudo rm -rf /var/db/receipts/com.mysql*
rm -rf ~/Library/PreferencePanes/My*

Remove the line "MYSQLCOM=-YES-" from /etc/hostconfig
Remove entries in /Library/Receipts/InstallHistory.plist