Feb 15, 2018

What to Do During Down Times Instead of Staring at Your Phone

Downtime. Or, in same cases, dead times: waiting rooms, lines, traffic, the moments in between appointments. Those places where you get nowhere quickly, but live in effective purgatory, embracing neither productivity or relaxation. To the overly ambitious (or those suffering from some form of adult ADHD), these are the times that try your soul in that special kind of slow-drip water torture way.

Sure, you could kill your dead time by scrolling through Instagram. You may even decide to do something useful with your phone, like one-liner email replies or clearing out your old voicemail. But what if you want to occasionally limit your exposure to the little blue screen that wasn’t a crucial part of human existence before 2007?

In lieu of time-killers, here are four suggestions for time-fillers that you can perform with absolutely no equipment other than your mind and your body. These are especially helpful if you’re stuck in a situation where you really shouldn’t be using your phone, like stop-and-go traffic.

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Feb 05, 2018

Watch One the Most Powerful Rockets in History Take Off

If you're not familiar with SpaceX by now, maybe Tuesday's launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy will spark your interest. SpaceX, a private company that builds and launches rockets/spacecraft, will test-flight their most powerful rocket yet (and one of the most powerful rockets period) - the Falcon Heavy. Success or failure, it will be an awesome and potentially historical launch....

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Jan 25, 2018

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.    

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Jan 23, 2018

How to Curate Your Podcasts So They Work for You

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.

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Dec 14, 2017

7 Actually Listenable Versions of Truly Terrible Christmas Songs

Okay... Christmas music. It has the simultaneous ability to both 1) make you feel all present and warm inside and 2) repel you as far away from any valuing of tradition and seasonal good will as possible. The good songs are good because they're classics, or because some clever band you'd already like in non-December contexts decided to take their turn at a holiday record.

But the bad songs are bad in so. many. ways. At one extreme, they're aggressive mall music that only ever appealed the most simplest of you-can-buy-happiness consumerists. At the other, they're treacly, brusk and brash melodies whose only chance of working at all is being sung by large groups of squirmy children, and you've contributed DNA to at least one of them.

But, just for the fun of it, let's see if we reclaim some of those unbearable, seasonal drudges. Are there tolerable, even enjoyable, recordings of even the most noxious of holiday tunes? Challenge accepted.  

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Dec 01, 2017

Hey, ManMade Readers: Can You Please Help Me Pick a New Remote Control?

Hi, all. Chris here. I spent a bunch of time trying to research something last night, and I'm still not sure I'm any more informed than I was before I started. So, I thought I might solicit the very smart and helpful ManMade audience, and let the experts weigh in.

My household needs a new remote control. We've been using the stock one that came with our receiver, plus all the individual remotes for our streaming devices. Currently, it requires at least two of them to select a source, start a show or movie, and ride the volume. The main remote, which used to work with most features, has been slowly dying, and now it can't even select a source or change the volume. I tried opening it up and cleaning the contacts, but it didn't really make a difference. So, new remote time. 

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Sep 28, 2017

How to: Make a Simple Wooden Smartphone Speaker

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!

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Sep 08, 2017

How to Make a Rustic Phone Charging Stand from a Slab of Hardwood

DIY Wood slab phone charger dock

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!       


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Aug 17, 2017

This is the Only Way You Should Be Wrapping Up Your Headphones

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.    

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Aug 11, 2017

How to Stop That Annoying First Song from Playing Every Time You Plug Your Phone Into Your Car

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.... 


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:   

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May 30, 2017

How to: Everything You Need to Create a Great Backyard Movie Experience

created at: 06/16/2015

Remember when you were a kid, and you never went inside during the summer, except to ask permission from your parents to run around the neighborhood with that new kid you just met, or to get another PB&J, which you promptly marched right back outside?

Let's all do that again. Let's embrace bare feet, and staying up too late, and smell like chlorine and sunscreen. Let's have a summer.    

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May 17, 2017

8 Things I'm Totally Obsessed with This Month (May 2017 Edition)

 These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.    

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May 16, 2017

The 7 Best Apps for Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, and Other Outdoor Adventures

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. 

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Apr 04, 2017

9 Awesome Podcasts for Makers, Crafters, Artists, and Designers

created at: 05/26/2016

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

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Jan 05, 2017

8 Awesome Camera Hacks Using Things You Already Have On You

In the era of advanced smart phone filters, it's not difficult to make your images look like something more than a snapshot. But, more often than not, these images don't look textural or vintage or interesting, they just look... filtered. It's not a je ne se quoi, it's an I know exactly se quoi — it's also my favorite Instagram filter. 

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Dec 12, 2016

Tackling a New Project Doesn't Have to Be Intimidating

This post is sponsored by DIYZ 

The story goes like this: I'll wake up early...usually on a Saturday, or perhaps the Monday of a three day weekend. I'll pull on my work jeans — not the trashed, paint-splattered ones; just the wornout pair with the ever growing hole in the right knee I need to patch. I'll tie my workboots, and grab a few quick measurements before I head out the door. I always remember to put the tape measure in my pocket to take it with me. Today is project day. 

And I'll get to the home improvement store, and I'll wander the aisles, and I'll realize: I have no idea what I'm doing. I need more information, more measurements, more details. So, I'll desperately look up something on my phone, but the reception in the back of this huge concrete box isn't good enough. Plus, all those content farms have tricked the search engines so that the quality of information that comes up is poor, and so generic that I struggle to trust it. 

Plus, maybe I have the basic materials figured out, but what tools do I need? Do I have the right screws, or are all mine too short or have the wrong head type? And - for goodness sakes - do I need another pack of #2 Phillips driver bits? (Thankfully, that one is easy. Yes. The answer is always yes. )   

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Nov 07, 2016

Oct 12, 2016

How to: Make this Acoustic Phone Amplifier


Like many of our readers, I’m a huge audiobook and podcast guy. I actually have to set aside intentional space to just sit alone with my own thoughts and think, because if I’ve got any mundane tasks to do around the house and nobody else is home, I’m rocking some auditory learning…   

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Aug 19, 2016

How to: Hack a Google Glass Camera into a Much Better Looking Pair of Glasses

When Google Glass was first demo'd and prototyped among the public a few years ago, most of the cultural conversation was the same: it's super interesting and functional, and looks absolutely ridiculous.

But...what if they didn't? What if the same tech could be embedded into something way less....Google Glass-y?   

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Aug 15, 2016

How to: Make a DIY Streaming Music Speaker from a Vintage Radio

There's no better way to say: I freaking love projects like this. Reddit user mxmln23 used the case from a stylish vintage radio, and did some clever hacking that allows it to become a wireless speaker that can stream from Spotify, Google Music, SoundCloud music player, Apple Airtunes, web radio stations, and Last.FM.  

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