Q&A / 

June 12, 2012 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

I've been holding off on two projects here at my house this past week because of the never-ending rain. The rain clouds went away, and this past weekend I cleaned my lower deck and washed down the siding on the house. Kathy is very happy!

I discovered years ago a fantastic brush I use to wash down painted wood siding. It's a brush made to wash RVs and large trucks. The bristles are tough enough to clean away dirt, long enough to match the profile of what you're cleaning and soft enough so they don't scratch glass or painted surfaces. Here's a photo of it.

Long Handle Brush

I don't have a brand name of my brush, but the closest brush like it I could find on Amazon is the Camco 43633 RV Wash Brush with Adjustable Handle. My brush is so important to me, I have it stored in a special location in the garage so it doesn't get damaged or lost.

On another note, last week I sat for the exam for my General Class Ham Radio License. I'm proud to say I passed with a 94%. This means I now have privileges on several high-frequency radio bands that allow me to talk with people all over the world.

I know what you're thinking. "Tim, you can do that with Skype for free without a license." But when the Internet is down, there's an emergency, etc. I'll be able to communicate while the masses will be in the dark.

That's why you should consider getting into the hobby.

Tip of the Week - Pipe Dope

Three weeks ago, a good friend had several leaks develop on new shut off valves that were threaded onto male adapters. He had used Teflon tape to prevent leaks. Well, he ended up with some leaks.

I'm a master plumber, receiving my license back in the 1980's, and I gave up on Teflon tape long ago. If you don't apply it just right, you can have problems. I've always preferred using pipe dope or pipe thread sealing compound. The pipe dope I use contains Teflon.

Pipe Dope

Pipe dope is a paste you apply to the male threads of a male-female threaded connection. You don't need much, but you should completely coat the male threads.

I've NEVER had a leak when I've used this compound. EVER.

Groupon ALERT

Do you use Groupon? Be careful. A close friend called me on Friday. He felt his girlfriend in San Francisco got hoodwinked with a classic bait and switch.

She bought an $89 deal where a duct cleaning company said they would clean her air ducts. The company shows up, cleaned the SUPPLY ducts only and then tells her, "If you want your RETURN ducts cleaned, that will be an additional $300.00."

Under pressure to make a decision, she gave them the extra money.

I don't have access to what the wording was in the Groupon deal. It's entirely possible the written offer said that only the supply ducts would be cleaned, and in fine print said there may be additional charges. If you decide to use Groupon or any other online coupon crowdsourced deal, read and understand the offer.

When it comes to duct cleaning, you don't just clean part of the ducts. It would be a waste of time. You clean all of them.

Milwaukee Drill/Driver and Grinder Videos

Please watch these short videos:

Milwaukee Half-Inch Cordless Drill/Driver

Milwaukee 4.5-Inch Grinder

Kickstarter Shed Video Project Summary

I want to thank you for supporting my first Kickstarter project - assuming you were interested and were able to pledge. I received many emails from folks who wanted to help, but couldn't. I totally understand. The project is now closed and you can't pledge or donate to it.

Here's the good news. It was a learning process for all of us - especially me. I've never done a project on Kickstarter, but can tell you I'll be doing many more. See below what Project #2 will be.

I goofed up on the rewards for this first one. Future projects will have the rewards set up differently. Once a project is launched on Kickstarter and one person chooses a certain reward, you can't go in and modify that reward. You can create new rewards as the funding is happening, but that can get tricky.

Next time the rewards that have videos will be priced closer together. I don't know what I was thinking in this last project. In the future, one reward might be a fun one including all the bloopers that happen during that project. It's easy to get flustered or tongue tied while on camera. I'm sure in this shed project, there will be plenty. I'll create a blooper roll for that.

I've also decided that the project funding time is going to be no more than two weeks. That's plenty of time for you to decide you're all in.

Creating great rewards is challenging. That's why next time YOU will be part of the process. Yes, you're going to help create the rewards. I'm looking forward to that!

I can tell you the next project will be rebuilding a ceramic tile shower - Start to Finish. That video series will have some incredible detailed ceramic tile instructions.

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas

Do you need a hint on some gift ideas for your Dad? Or, are you a Dad that likes to leave hints?

Here are two:

Do you want the tool storage solution I use in my garage and work area?

Or how about a RotoSaw? This is a really handy tool that allows you to make precision cuts. It's a combination of a small router and a jigsaw in one tool. That's the best way, I feel, to describe it.

Need more ideas? Use my Gift Guide! Yes, I know it says Christmas on it. The suggestions and links are still good. Go ahead, download it and get something nice for your Dad now.

Handyman Work

I received an email from an out-of-work craftsman last week. It's a long story, but I told him about a friend of mine who retired to the Del Webb community in Hilton Head, SC. Two or three days a week my friend helps a neighbor. This neighbor started a robust handyman company doing minor repairs and painting for many in the community. In fact, the Del Webb community is so big there are several competing handyman companies that are operated by residents who live in the community!

With the Baby Boomer population starting to swell and retire - well some are retiring, I'm still working and will be for a while - there's a huge opportunity in your city or town.

If you have some skills and are looking for work, think about this: Would you be interested in me hosting a live online TV course about Handyman Businesses? If so, REPLY to me and let me know. I can make it happen pretty quickly.

Australia Stain Solver

Do you live in Australia? Reply to me if you want to buy Stain Solver in Australia.

Cleaning Tip of the Week - Picnic Coolers

Friends of mine are already camping and July 4th is around the corner. Is your picnic cooler grungy looking, smelly or ???? You don't have to buy a new one.

You can make it like NEW and smell fresh with Stain Solver.

Password Tips

Last week I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine - Leo Notenboom. He operates the great website: www.Ask-Leo.com.

Leo produces a fantastic newsletter each week like this one, but it's all about computer stuff. If you're a PC user, Leo's got you covered. He doesn't delve into Apple or Mac issues. If you use a PC, you *need* Leo's newsletter. But I digress. I have Mac newsletter tips for you too, as I use a Mac. But that's another week.

Leo and I were talking about passwords because of hackers trying to get into my website. At the server level, you can see this happening. They haven't gotten in *yet*, and we're trying to make it very tough for them.

Undoubtedly, you have to use passwords for all sorts of things you do online. The discussion turned to what should I be doing at AsktheBuilder.com. Here's exactly what Leo said. Understand there was discussion in front of what you're about to read, but it's not that important.

What follows is the best part of the conversation. What you're about to read is VERY IMPORTANT. I can tell you that I've already changed many of my passwords to the type Leo describes below. Here is part of what Leo said to me:

"S0meT1me" is a much better password. One type of attack (dictionary) thwarted. However there are 221,919,451,578,090 possible combinations, and a brute force attack from an offline compromise (of the LinkedIn variety) could crack it in probably under an hour.

"--S0meT1me--" is WAY, WAY better. How much better? 546,108,599,233,516,079,517,120 possibilities, and using the same calculation that got me the "under an hour" figure above now returns 1.74 thousand CENTURIES. And yet it's JUST as easy to remember.

There's actually a strong argument that says:

----password----

(16 characters, the word password preceded and followed by 4 repeating, arbitrary characters) is even more secure. 21,930,887,362,370,823,132,822,661,920 possibilities and almost 70 million centuries.

BOTTOM LINE: when in doubt go long.

So there you have it. Think about your passwords.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Tim Carter

Founder, www.AsktheBuilder.com

Do It Right, Not Over

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