diy

Replacing the foam speaker surround on my JBL speakers

About ten years ago, I bought a pair of used JBL J520m bookshelf speakers. They have nice, wood cabinets, a great-sounding woofer and tweeter, and a classic look (they don't really look dated, like 90% of 80s and 90s-era speakers).

JBL J520m speaker wall mounted with grill cover next to TV
Doesn't it look stately?

Whenever you buy used speakers, you should check the woofer cone and foam surround, as these are usually the first parts to deteriorate and cause terrible distortion in certain situations. In my case, the speakers had been stored in someone's garage for a few years, so I knew the foam wouldn't last long. When purchased, the foam flexed okay, but this year I noticed both speakers started making funny noises during explosions or low bass notes during movie and music playback.

Reviving an old dresser by rebuilding the wooden drawer rails

My wife and I needed an extra dresser to keep up with the growing family (third baby is on the way in a few months!), and since we would rather buy things that last—but not buy new if we can save a bundle of money—we bought a used wood dresser on Craigslist:

Craigslist wood dresser

First lesson: always inspect every last bit of furniture before loading it up and hauling it away! Most of the rails were in not-great condition, and the guides on the drawers weren't in great shape either:

Craigslist dresser with old broken wood drawer rail guide

We decided to make the best of the situation and make as good a repair as possible, resulting in much improved (like new!) rails:

Tips for Staying Sane while Working from Home - phptek 2016 session

Jeff Geerling - Standing at desk in home office in his basement

I delivered a session on Tips for successfully working remote/working from home—both for employees and employers—at php[tek] 2016 in St. Louis today. This session was a bit shorter than yesterday's session on a HA Raspberry Pi cluster, but I had a lot of content I've been putting together for many months.

Latest DIY project: Fireplace/Chimney removal for a nicer living room

Every year, my wife and I try to tackle one or two large projects to improve our house and make it a more functional space for our growing family. This year, we decided to remove a giant brick chimney/fireplace that took up 30 square ft. of floor space both in the basement and on the main floor. With the regained space, we installed a TV/media center on the wall that had the fireplace, and arranged the room to have more seating so we could do more family activities in the room.

Here's a picture of what the room looked like with an old brick fireplace (it was wood-burning, but had been converted to gas logs prior to our purchase of the home):

Fireplace and brick chimney DIY removal picture - before

DIY project - removing floor-to-ceiling mirrors from a wall in our house's dining room

Between projects at work, I decided to take a week's vacation and attempt a rather ambitious DIY project at the house. After working through some plans for the main rooms in our house, my wife and I decided we wanted to convert what was originally the formal dining room at our home, complete with a low-hanging chandelier and wall of floor-to-ceiling tinted mirrors, into a functional schoolroom with tons of storage and a teacher desk area.

So we started with this:

Mirror wall before

And ended up with this:

Functional wall with Ikea BESTÅ storage system after

A new year, a new standing desk

For the past eight months, I've been working at a cubicle, sitting around 8 hours a day, at my new job with Mercy. Prior to this job, I had gotten up to about 6 hours a day standing at my home office standing desk (see how I made the standing desk), and reverting to the sitting position has taken its toll on my back and neck!

I decided to start working from a standing position at work, but was presented with a challenge: how can I work standing at a cubicle that was built for sitting? Additionally, I couldn't drill any holes in walls or modify the cubicle structurally in any way. Challenge accepted!

Standing Desk in cubicle at work

Build a Wood Standing Desk for your Cubicle

I've written previously about my simple $50 standing desk that can be installed on a wall. That standing desk worked great at my house, where I worked full-time as a remote employee for a few years. I started a new job for a local company in April 2013, working on-site, and was relegated to a cubicle with a decidedly un-adjustable sitting-height desk top. Even when using a Pomodoro-esque technique of standing and moving around every 20 minutes or so hasn't been much of a help.

Not to be kept sitting down by 'the man', I eschewed the provided office chair and adjustable-height keyboard tray, and built a small surface on which to work in a standing position, while still working in the cubicle to which I was assigned. Behold:

Standing Desk in cubicle at work

Tips and Tools for New Homeowners

Note: many of my suggestions are linked to products I recommend from Amazon.com—using these links when you purchase one of them helps me keep this article and site fresh!

In the past few years, I've moved three times; from a dorm room to a two-bedroom apartment, from that apartment to a two-bedroom condo, and from that condo to a house. I'm not claiming to be a moving expert, but the moves have gone very well every time.

Garage full of stuff
It's nice to know that pretty much everything we own fits in a two-car garage (for now!).

The physical move itself is a very small part of migrating to a new place—it's the weeks of work getting 'settled in' afterwards that can make a move a nightmare, or a great experience. The tips, tricks, and tools I recommend below are things that have really helped me make the days and weeks following the move be a great experience.

Making an old iPod Mini Awesome Again

What's better than having every song you've ever purchased available wherever you are, without worrying about an expensive MP3 player getting stolen?

I've had my music library on my iPhone and iPad for some time now, but I find it cumbersome to listen to music on one of those devices, and I don't like taking them with me for a run, or setting them somewhere they might get stolen (like at a party, plugged into a stereo or sound system).

And I'm not going to buy a brand-new iPod mini or iPod touch just to play some tunes from time to time.

Enter the iPod mini—The best little MP3 player I've ever held (the click wheel was perfect, the texture was smooth, and the size was just right for my hands).

I just bought one for $20 from eBay (a 6GB silver edition), and the battery was dead. Plus it only held half my iTunes library. So, I wanted more storage space, and a longer-lasting battery (10 minutes of listening to music is rather boring).

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