My mom just called me (she works for the Fred Meyer book buyer) and let me know that the new Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. No release date yet, but it’s kind of cool to get information on the inside track.
I’m always on the lookout for tools, tips, and tricks to make my life easier. I read Life Hacker. I follow Hanselman’s Ultimate Tools List (I think I’m on the list). The thing is, I hate cleaning but I haven’t seen anyone provide a list of ways to help me so I don’t have to clean my house. I’ve found a few things I use and like, so here’s my list of things I use to make it easier to keep a clean place.
- Roomba is my #1 weapon in my passive-aggressive fight for a clean home. Roomba is an automatic vacuuming robot made by iRobot. It has a home base that it charges its battery on, and when you’re ready to vacuum, you pick it up and put it in the middle of the floor, turn it on, and away it goes. When it’s done, it parks back at the home base and recharges for the next time. All you have to do is empty the dust bin and periodically clean the brushes (which I find easier and, frankly, more novel than pushing a vacuum cleaner by hand). I have two of the Discovery SE models (so I can do two rooms at once) and I love them. They do a great job (and you won’t believe it until you empty the dustbin and see how much it picks up). Plus, if you ever have any issues, iRobot customer support is actually a great experience. I’ve called them twice (once I had a problem with one of the wheels and once I had a home base charger issue) and both times were hassle-free and satisfying. Any issues I had - resolved, no questions. If you have to choose just one of the things on this list to pick up, make it a Roomba.
- Scooba is the cousin of Roomba. While Roomba vacuums, Scooba mops. Most of my downstairs is hardwood and it gets nasty. Scooba to the rescue! Technically Scooba does some vacuuming, too, but not as much as Roomba. I usually run Roomba over the hardwoods to pick up any debris and then follow up with a Scooba run. Again, you won’t believe how much gunk this thing picks up until you empty the dirty water tank and see it
- it does an awesome job. The only thing I’ve run into is that on a large floor like mine you need to break it up and run in sections - something easy to do with the “virtual walls” both Scooba and Roomba have.
Kaboom! Never Scrub - I found this one by accident at the local supermarket and figured I’d give it a run. The idea is that you put this device in-line with the pipe that fills your toilet bowl and the water runs through a chlorine filter to kill any bacteria and add some bleach to the water to stop anything from growing. This thing is amazing. I have one of these in every toilet in the house. You still have to clean the outside of the toilet, but nothing grows under the rim or in the bowl. Note that if the toilet doesn’t get used (never gets flushed, or doesn’t get flushed often), then water won’t be running through the filter and stuff will eventually start to grow. We have one bathroom that rarely gets used; we flush the toilet once or twice a week to make sure it stays clean.
Caution: if you have pets that like to drink out of the toilet, this isn’t for you (or you’ll have to make sure you keep the lid closed).
- Hang this in the shower and, when you’re done, push the button. Fifteen seconds later, it sprays a cleaning solution around in the shower that gets rid of soap scum and mold. Do this daily and it’ll clean up a dirty shower or keep a clean shower clean.
Placement on this is key - if you put it somewhere so the spray head can’t shoot solution to one area of the shower, it won’t get clean; if you place it too low, it won’t reach everywhere because the spray head isn’t a fire hose. It generally is supposed to hang from your shower head, but we have one of those removable massage heads so I put a plastic hook in the shower.
I’ve found that, while it keeps the orange soap scum out, you do occasionally have to give the shower a good scrub to get rid of some of the more built-up scum. We have glass doors on the shower and still have to pay a little attention to them. Not as effective as the Kaboom! Never Scrub, but pretty darn good.
- Less a cleaner and more of a freshener/deodorizer. Drop one of these in your garbage disposal and run it to get rid of the stink and give it a nice fresh lemon scent. You still will have to clean out your garbage disposal as usual (you do clean it out, right?), but in the interim you can get rid of the stench.
What gadgetry and doo-dads do you use to keep your house clean?
UPDATE: It appears that the “youparklikeanasshole” site I visitedis actually an infringment on an existing product that has been sold for a while. I’ve removed the link to the site out of respect to the original idea distributors, however my two cents:
First, when I was in grade school a friend of mine gave me a “leave-behind” that looked veeeery similar to this. It didn’t actually say “you park like an asshole” on it, but it did refer to the driver as an asshole and had a checklist of infringements on it. That was over 20 years ago, and somehow I’m in doubt that it was produced by Cold Cocked Cards. It looked like one of those jokes you see posted on the wall of your local auto body shop, photocopied to death. If I recall correctly, it had Mickey Mouse on it with his middle finger out.
Second, the addition that the youparklikeanasshole site provided that made it cool was the ability to upload and categorize photos of the asshole parkers. Connecting the real-world leave-behind to the online world is a great idea and is what pushed it over the top from an “interesting idea” to a “cool site.” It might be in Cold Cocked Cards best interest to either partner with youparklikeanasshole or settle or something because the photo upload thing is an idea that shouldn’t be missed.
Anyway, it sucks when someone steals your idea, so I hope things pan out for everyone involved.
There have been all sorts of power issues since a windstorm that hit last Thursday, but on Saturday a transformer caught on fire and blacked out the entire city where I live. We had gone out to dinner Saturday night and all was well; coming home, it was like driving into an abyss. No street lights, no traffic signals, no lights in any home. The airport by us also had no power, which was pretty crazy because it always has lights going.
We drove around downtown Hillsboro to see how far the blackout went, but we never really found the end. It was sort of like a crazy science fiction movie where a giant EMP goes off. Power was restored for us at 5:53 the next morning.
I picked up some new CDs on Saturday because I was needing a little bit of new tune-age. I can’t see buying from iTunes anymore because I can’t un-DRM it (haven’t really mucked with myFairTunes, but Stu says he can’t get it to work) and I’m really not satisfied with 128kbps compression.
- Sleeping With Ghosts*](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008AWOD/mhsvortex): I actually bought the import version of this, and not for the *Sleeping With Ghosts album, but for the bonus second disc the import version comes with containing cover songs Placebo has done. Specifically, I was after their cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” which is absolutely stellar. The rest of the bonus disc is good, as is the Sleeping With Ghosts album, but the killer tune for me is “Running Up That Hill.”
Nelly Furtado - Loose: The song “Promiscuous” just would not leave my brain so I had to get this. The rest of the album is pretty good, too, though I feel like the first half is stronger than the second half. The first half feels sort of hip-hoppish, while the second half feels like it takes of on this latin tangent that I’m just not as into. Still, it’s pretty good, and I think it’ll grow on me.
Real Life - Send Me An Angel (The Best of Real Life) - These guys were one-hit-wonders with the song “Send Me An Angel” and I’ve only ever had a worn-out tape with it, so it was time to step up to digital. The rest of the songs on here are pretty lame, but the two versions of “Send Me An Angel” make it worth it (for me).
Most of the rest of the weekend was spent in last-minute scrambling about in preparation for Christmas this coming weekend. The 24 marathon is at my house on Saturday, so the weekend is totally out of commission for anything last-minute. I got a little bit of gaming in on the ol’ Xbox 360, but not much. I think I’ll try to play a little more tonight because I miss my digital buddy.
I’m really not sure what this is - if it’s some sort of “viral marketing campaign” that I’m not smart enough to get, or just some experimental thing - but it’s tied to Microsoft Windows Vista somehow and it’s intriguing. There are these episodes telling the story of this guy, Demetri, and his odd psychological issues. I haven’t watched all of the episodes yet, but I will. How can I not?