Yesterday, I offered the thesis that if you're only going to learn to tie one knot, it should be the bowline: it's simple, can be easily untied, and is incredibly versatile for all sorts of situations.
And all that is true. But, it's not the "knot" I employ most often. Because the reality is, most of us don't handle rope on a daily basis. We do, however, in the age of smartphones and podcasts and the entire history of recorded music available at your fingertips, engage with another long, stringy thing that needs to be dealt with on the regular: your headphones.
Or ear buds. Or ear phones. Or whatever you call those wired transducers that deliver all that sweet, sweet audio to your brain. And because you take them with your everywhere, they regularly get knotted and tangled up in your pocket or bag.
This is completely unnecessary. Because there's a five-second "knot" that can completely eliminate this problem, and it doesn't take any longer than other storage methods. So, now, I present to you, the actual most useful knot in the world.
Podcasts. You know 'em. You listen to 'em. You're moved by them. You laugh and are entertained by them. But are you inspired by them? Do they light a fire under your butt and make you want to get into your work space as fast as possible? Do they make you want to complete your workout faster so you can get home and make stuff? Do they make you thankful for your creative bent, and the creative work of others?
Here's our thinking: podcasts, as a medium, are great accompaniment for a lot of things. There are certain podcasts you listen to on your commute, specific shows that work best for cleaning the house or cooking dinner, those to
Guys—I love space.
Growing up, I was always the kid with my head in the clouds (I'll admit I've been called a "space cadet" more than once) but my actual interest in the objects outside of our atmosphere didn't launch until I fulfilled my college science credits with two semesters of astronomy. It was one of my favorite classes of all time: learning about different planets and galaxies, observing the moon through powerful telescopes, and—shockingly for an artist—working the calculus of space physics. These days, I dip my toes into the pool of astronomy with a set of apps.
Read on for our top picks of best free apps for space fans!
I got this idea soon after some friends visited and forgot their charger cords for their phones. Since I had my own to use overnight, we had to fish around for other solutions. One day, in my shop I was reflecting on this dilemma when I remembered there were these new USB wall sockets that would be perfect to turn into a portable DIY charging station whenever I need it.
Remember that old clubhouse in the vacant lot of your childhood neighborhood that the local kids hand-built from scrap wood and castoff rusted sheet metal, with "KEEP OUT" scrawled in red paint on a sign nailed over the threshold, which you could only cross by whispering the secret phrase of the day?
OK, my childhood never really had that, either. But as this millennium's second decade blazes to a close and the tangible machinery of my life increasingly vanishes into the vapory world of binary code, it feels like several new secret forts pop up every month. Not only does each online account demand its own covert entry key, but with cybercriminals stomping on the gas for data breaches every year, it's becoming more and more important to be able to create unique, hard-to-crack passwords for each one. It's a tall order to balance security with memorability—let's explore how to do it!
I've stated it before: I'm a total workshop rat. There's something about spaces where skilled work gets done that invigorates my spirit. At various points throughout my life, I've wandered into blacksmith shops—on my great uncle's farm in southern Ohio, at a permanent exhibit on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, at the dead end of a street on the outskirts of my college town in West Virginia—and each time I've quieted with reverence, among the tongs and hammers and slack tubs, as if walking in the glow of stained glass windows.
Short of actually hanging around the shop, smelling the hot metal and hearing the clank of a hammer on an anvil, I get my forge fix by following metalsmiths on Instagram. Here are thirty of ManMade's favorite accounts that we totally recommend.
I'm a firm believer that tools are like personal strengths: the user's attitude determines the outcome. You can take a neutral tool and channel it for good or evil; a candlestick can class up a dining room table, or it can kill Professor Plum in the billiard room. Not only that, but the more power a tool holds, the more care you have to take with it. (It's like the main takeaway from Spider-Man: with great power comes great responsibility.)
The smartphone is a prime example. Sometimes when it's better to leave it off, like we suggested in our article on filling downtime without staring at your phone. But lest you label me a Luddite, let me admit that I use my phone all day: emailing, listening to music (currently: Spotify app, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers), shooting and editing photos, keeping in touch with overseas family on Facebook, professional networking on Instagram and LinkedIn, mobile banking, making note of future ManMadeDIY articles, and so much more.
In fact, I use my phone so much that I need to give myself guidelines to help keep me from staring into it all day. Here are some of those tips.
Why It's Important We Still Print Our Own Photographs...and Why You Should Be Taking More in the First Place
We live in an era when everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times. One that would have cost $500-700 a decade ago. And you can use it literally with a click of button, and chances are, you'll get a decent exposure.
So it’s easy to see our photographs as only pixels on a screen. This is why a community like Instragram works so well: it makes photography special again. When you can take a photo of anything at any time absolutely free and be able to send it up into the cloud with zero effort, editing, curating, and capturing become the new acts of care that give smartphone photos a new sense of meaning.
For me, getting into podcasts was like easing into a warm tub on a cold winter's day. At first it seemed uncomfortable and a little too much, and now I can't imagine getting out. I'm in deep. And it might be too deep if I hadn't worked out a way to take control back from the unending feeds of too many good shows. Liberation is possible when we take control of our own podcast destinies and create a program for how to listen––to make podcasts work for you, instead of sitting on your phone or computer like a homework assignment you dread to complete.
Whether you're loading up your podcatcher for the first time or are a seasoned pro, you're familiar with the mass of stuff available. The waves and waves of quality content, the extraordinary, out of the box topics, the brain-tickling, the heart-tearing, and the tear and laughter-inducing episodes that begin to fill your playlists can freeze you in your steps.
Happy Monday, ManMakers! Today, I'm super excited to share an exclusive project with you. It's an excerpt from the new book Build Stuff with Wood, which is all about making cool woodworking projects with the most basic of tools.
The book is written by Asa Christiana, the former editor of Fine Woodworking magazine, and, I'm proud to say, a close friend of mine and all-around good guy. It features a variety of everyday objects you can make armed only with a cordless drill, a circular saw, and a jigsaw, plus a small palm router on one or two. There's a section on setting up a workspace, building a basic tool kit, and how to get great furniture-quality results from construction-grade tools. (Plus, a nice section on shop safety featuring a few photos of yours truly.) Plus, the intro is written by Nick Offerman, so...enough said!
Sponsored by the DIYZ® app
I love the idea of combining modern technology with natural textures. I keep my tablet in a case made from an old linen-covered notebook, and my sleek and shiny DSLR in a worn brown leather bag. So, I wanted to make a simple place to house my smartphone, while warming it up a bit. I went with the most natural thing I could think of: a big slab of forest tree.
I like this design for a DIY wooden smartphone charging station because it fits the charging cable nicely, but it isn't stuck in place, so you can remove and use it elsewhere without the stand.
Enough talk! Let's make one!
It might not happen with every smartphone and car stereo combo, but if you know what we're talking about, this tip is for you. You get in, you fasten your seat belt, you turn the car on, you plug in your phone, and....
THE. SAME. &*$%. SONG. COMES. ON. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Of course, you've figured out why this devilish contrivance occurs. It's the song who's title comes first alphabetically in your library. On my phone, it's A.M. 180 by Grandaddy; on my wife's, it's Vampire Weekend's A-Punk. And I actually And it just... starts playing, at whatever volume your stereo is set to.
Here's how to stop that first song from playing when your plug your phone into your car:
Most of the time, the whole point of going on a hike or camping trip is to get away from technology. We couldn't agree more. But the truth is, most of us still carry our smart phones for emergency calls, wayfinding, and camera possibilities, all in a single package. Our vote? Turn off the email and the Twitter alerts, and take advantage of the way your phone can enhance your trip. Just make sure your protect it from the weather.
It's a whole lot easier to remember to charge that phone when it's secured in a spiffy looking block. We made a simple cube charging station out of reclaimed pallet wood.
Spotify has completely revolutionized my music-listening experience. Their browsing feature and Discover Weekly playlist has made into a much hipper dude and generally increased my quality of life, no joke. However it was only recently that I discovered a whole host of new Spotify streamable options, turning the widening gyre all over again.
The To Resolve Project is a different take on the New Year's Resolution: well-designed and inspiring creative mantras that give you a beautiful reminder everytime you switch on your smart phone or tablet. Whether you wanna read more, eat better, meet an exercise goal, or just be generally more creative and productive, you'll be good to go for the next fifty ringtone/wallpaper changes, at least.
If you're more of a minimalist with your daily carry items, and prefer to keep everything in one front or jacket pocket, check out this leather smartphone flip wallet project
You know the experience. You trek off to some great view, or deep lush forest, or vast scenic view, grab your phone and say, "I just have to get a picture of this." You snap a shot or two, and look at the screen, and it looks absolutely nothing like where you're standing.
Yep, us too.