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  • steve918 8:36 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    $20 lighting upgrade 

    Below are some before and after pictures of my kitchen lighting project. After picture looks really black in the shot, but it is oil-rubbed bronze. Total cost was around $20, $5 can of paint, and 5 light hoods at $3 each.

  • steve918 7:35 pm on May 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pirate party, pirate ship, pvc pipe   

    Pirate Ship 

    My son’s 5th Birthday party was pirate themed, but no pirate party is complete without a pirate ship with a plank to walk!

    The sail is PVC pipe and some cheap red fabric.  The bottom of the boat is a couple of pieces of scrap 3/4″ plywood I had left over from building some garage shelves.  The sides are some really cheap paneling I got from home depot along with the 1″ strips I used for ribbing.  The bench and plank were cut from the same piece of 2″x10″.  Then I used some left-over stain and house paint I had in the garage.  Total build time was around 16-18hrs, total cost not counting scrap materials was about $50.



  • steve918 12:53 pm on August 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    1/12th Scale Canoe 

    Built from the free 14′ Canoe plans available on from the back of a legal pad, some scotch tape, whiteout and Sharpe.


  • steve918 10:40 pm on July 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: desk, IKEA, workspace   

    $51 Standing Desk 

    Below are some pictures of my office in my new house. The piece I’m most proud of is the standing desk I put together from cheap parts purchased at IKEA. Overall I have $51.50 in parts.  To keep cost down it’s mounted on one side and the back to the wall using standard shelf mounts I paid $0.50ea for.  The top is an IKEA Vika Amon for $20 and the single leg is a Vika Byske  priced at $30.00.  You could save some money if you came up with a cheaper option for the leg, but this one looks good and is adjustable up to the height I needed.

    Attaching the legs to the bottom of the table. Notice three sides are attached to the wall with $0.50 shelf mounts.

    Using the file cabinet to support one side, nothing attached to the wall yet, just getting it level.

    The final result! Being used to write this blog post.

    I spent some time and searching a experimenting with different heights by stacking my file cabinet and some books on the side opposite the leg. I settled in around 44.5″ and screwed it into the wall with the assistance of a laser level.

    I’ve drilled a hole through the top with my hole saw and just need to find a grommet to stick in it to finish it off.

    • Duncan MacIntyre 8:37 am on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Neat solution Steven, looks very solid too.

    • chad 4:40 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      how much did apple pay you for all the advertising in the last photo? methinks you are a fanboi.

    • chad 5:02 am on July 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry. I just realized what a jackass I am. Thanks for the post.

  • steve918 8:46 pm on October 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: amazon, books, , kindle, reading   

    Read Sync 

    While riding the train home I finished a book I had been reading and immediately went in search of something new. I quickly became frustrated with Amazon’s suggestions which included every Django book ever printed because I once bought a book on the subject. It also included many irrelevant items, including scrap-booking items that were a result of my wife sharing my account. So I did what I usually do and asked my friends on IRC what the recommend. This produced immediate results. I had a good recommendation from a trusted source.

    This experience motivated me to improve this process and make it easier for people to share what they are reading and discover new content. There are other great services like Goodreads that have similar goals, but in the age of e-readers, I should be able to share automatically and effortlessly.

    The real problem is that none of the popular e-reader companies (including Amazon) offer an API that would allow someone to build something like this. But what kind of hacker would let something like a lack of API hinder innovation? So I spent a few days taking apart the Kindle App for Android, taking it apart until I had a service that could mimic it and register itself as another Kindle device.

    The result is Read Sync, a simple Facebook application that allows you to share your Kindle reads with friends, see what books your friends have read and recommend and which of your friends own a particular book.

    The screen shot above is an example of a book two of my friends have on their Amazon bookshelves. On this screen I can see details about the book, related titles, and what friends have read it. If I click on one of my friends pictures it takes me to their bookshelf where I can explore what they have read.

    • Scott Blomquist 2:05 am on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, I got as far as where you ask me for my Amazon username and password (the same one that you could use to change my one-click setting or set yourself up a payphrase on my account), and then abandoned the process. Sad that Amazon doesn’t have an OAuth API for this kind of thing.

      Can you tell us a little more about how you manage to not store our credentials? Also, does associating your app with Kindle count against the 8-device lifetime limit that books can be read on?

      Love the idea. Wish Amazon made it a little more possible to do cleanly.

      • steve918 3:55 am on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Hey Scott,

        Read Sync passes your credentials to Amazon, from there they return a key pair which is used to access their Kindle API. This key pair cannot be used to make purchases or changes to your Amazon account. Read Sync registers the same way any other Kindle reader does and would therefore count against any device limits.

    • RandomizeME 9:50 am on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Can you do one that works with Twitter instead of Facebook?

      • steve918 4:58 pm on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        It’s definitely a possibility, but it will be a ways out. For now I’m focused on polishing up the Facebook version and working out all of the bugs. Once that’s done I’ll start looking at integrating with other devices and platforms.

    • Sam Alexander 12:56 am on February 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I love it. Do you have plans add a method that lets me hide my Nora Roberts & Danielle Steele collection from my friends?

    • Lynn Williams 4:35 pm on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I can not get ReadSync to open. Are there any other applications that sync Kindle and Facebook?

      • steve918 4:14 pm on October 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Sorry ReadSync is now offline. It wasn’t gaining a lot of interest and I didn’t have the time to maintain it.

  • steve918 1:02 am on September 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dalvik, dex, disassembler, disassembly, java, smali   

    Decompiling Android Apps 

    Once you have an APK you want to take a look at you need to extract the contents of it. An APK is really just a jar/zip file. To extract it’s contents just

    unzip YourApp.apk

    This will give you a directory with all the resources in it along with a classes.dex file. This file is the compiled Dalvik code. There are a couple of good tools for decompiling the dex. Below is a link to each of them along with instructions on how to run it.


    The following will decompile classes.dex into the out_dir of your choice. Just download the Dedexer jar from the link above and rename the jar to ddx.jar or change the command below to reflect the new filename.

    java -jar ddx.jar -d out_dir classes.dex

    I also recommend taking a look at this presentation on Dedexer on slideshare.


    Smali is ‘assembler’ in Icelandic and Baksmali is ‘disassembler’. All we care about right this second is disassembly so you want to download the baksmali jar. I also recommend downloading the wrapper script and the example below assumes you are running baksmali via that wrapper. This will place the decompiled results into a directory called ‘out’.

    baksmali classes.dex

    Doing this is almost a violation of the terms of service for any application you look at so be-careful and use these tools for good.

    Update: I created a Textmate bundle for syntax highlighting smali, check it out:

  • steve918 9:12 pm on July 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


  • steve918 6:16 am on May 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    Android 2.2 isUserAMonkey() check 

    Per the documentation: Returns “true” if the user interface is currently being messed with by a monkey.

    There is another gem in the Log class, they’ve added a new log level ‘wtf‘ which in this case means “What a Terrible Failure”

  • steve918 7:04 pm on May 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Email is Evil 

    I’ve had my suspicions for a while, this settles it.


  • steve918 3:47 am on May 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    DropBox on Android 

    I’m a huge fan of Dropbox so android support is a welcome addition.

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