sim.plified.com

Chris Pollock

Chris Pollock - web developer & ecommerce entrepreneur
undivided… my thoughts on world, family, church, business, technology and Jesus Christ (all in all)

YouTube Sanitizer – No Suggested Videos

Has this ever happened to you: You're watching a perfectly acceptable You Tube video with your children, when the video ends you are presented with a nasty thumbnail of what You Tube considers to be a "Related Video".  My wife has asked me if there was a way to get rid of the suggested videos at the end of the You Tube videos – the fasetest solution was for me to create a quick tool that parents could use to create a playlist free from "Suggested Videos".

Banner ads will still show at the bottom of the video from time to time.  I haven't found a way to diable that yet.

Access this tool here:

http://sim.plified.com/youtubesanitizer/

 

How To Use the Tool

It's pretty simple to use.

Pull up the video you want to "sanitize" and copy the code from the URL:

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 5.42.37 PM

Enter the copied code into YouTube sanitizer:

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 5.45.59 PM

 

You can enter more than one code.  Put each code on a new line.

Click Submit and you'll be on your way to viewing your video without the "threat" of Suggested Videos.

Update 1: Bookmarklet Available

Now you can sanitize your videos even easier.  Simply drag the link below to your bookmarks bar.  Then, when you're on a YouTube video that you want to sanitize, click the bookmark link in your toolbar.  A new page will open with the sanitized version of the video.

YouTube Sanitizer

 

 

 

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DIY Portable Kid’s Climbing Wall

I have 5 boys, so needless to say there’s a lot of activity in our house.  Our 2nd son is by far the most active (at the moment anyhow) and Amy and I couldn’t resist buying him some rock climbing holds for his birthday.  Originally I was going to mount them on the back of our garage, or outside somewhere, but the other night the idea came to me.  Use some wood I had lying around to build an indoor climbing wall for the basement.  I literally thought of this and built it the next day.  The kids helped and within a matter of hours they were climbing away and having a great time!

Caleb's Climbing Wall

Here’s the finished product.

Idea

The ideas was to use two pieces of plywood I had lying around to make a triangle structure. The more I thought, the more refined the idea.  Using bolts to connect the wood accomplished a couple of things.

  1. Theoretically I could change the board length at the top and bottom to change the angle of the unit and make it steeper or easier.
  2. The bolts make the whole unit disassemble into a fairly portable unit.  This is great if you want to take it outside, take it to a family runion or just stow it away when not in use.

Another port of the idea was to attach indoor/outdoor carpeting.  This protected the kids from splinters (it was really rough plywood) and makes it a little more weather proof if I take it outside (If I take it outside I would also paint the side boards because they are not pressure treated.

If you build something like this I hope you’ll use your own creativity to improve the idea.

Parts List

  • 40 Climbing holds from EMS
  • 2pc.  4 x 8 plywood (I used B Grade)
  • 2×4 lumber – various lengths depending on the size of your unit
  • 4×4 lumber – for the base
  • 4pc. 4” Galvanized 1/2” Bolts
  • 4pc.  6'” Galvanized 1/2” Bolts
  • 16pc. 1/2” Galvanized Washers
  • 8pc. 1/2” Galvanized Nuts
  • 6’ x 8’ section of indoor/outdoor carpet
  • 8’ Poly Rope

 

Step 1: Build the Frames

Caleb's Climbing Wall

  • The frames are made of 2×4 lumber.  My wall was going to be about 5-1/2’ tall so I cut my 2x4s just a couple inches longer. 
  • I used a jig saw to round the ends of the height boards.  That allowed the unit to be pivoted and got rid of sharp edges when the kids were climbing.
  • I screwed the whole thing together with 2-1/2” in screws. 
  • I spaced the cross supports about 6” from either end.  A little bit longer on the top.Make sure you measure from one end.  Because the rounding of the he 2x4s will make them uneven, you don’t want to measure from both sides.

 

Step 2 – Cut and Drill the Support Lumber

Caleb's Climbing Wall

  • On the top I simply used some of the remnant 2×4 to create the connection points.
  • On the bottom I used some old 4×4 lumber that was lying around in the backyard.  This gives a nice solid base and also some durability if I do place it outside.

 

Step 3 – Drilling the Holes

  • This was hardest part of the project.  if the holes are off then the unit will not hinge properly.  In the end I basically made my holes on center in the 2×4 lumber.  So for instance a 2×4 is 3-1/2” wide.  So I centered my holes at 1-3/4” from the sizdes and ends. 
  • On the bottom I centered my holes more toward the top of the 4×4 so that only the 4x4s are touching the ground.

Caleb's Climbing Wall

Caleb's Climbing Wall

 

Step 4 – Test Fit

Once the holes are drilled then you can test fit the structure by inserting the bolts.  Everything should come together nicely.  If it doesn’t make your adjustments now before you mount the plywood

 

Step 5 – Attach Plywood

Caleb's Climbing Wall

Caleb's Climbing Wall

  • I cut my plywood down to about 5-1/2” feet.
  • I attached all over the frame using 2” decking screws.  If you built your frames correctly it should mount perfectly
  • I left a little bit of room at both ends so that the 2x4s just peak out on either side of the unit – this allows the carpeting to be tucked under the unit.

 

Step 6 – Attach the Carpet

  • I got some indoor outdoor carpet.  This stuff is really inexpensive and gives the climbing wall a very nice finish.
  • I cut the carpet to be a little longer so that it could be wrapped around the ends.
  • Glue the carpet down with some adhesive and then staple the carpet on the “bottom” of the plywood. 

 

Step 7 – Layout and Attach the Climbing Holds

  • I am no expert at climbing layouts, so we basically laid them out in a way that made sense for small guys. 
  • After laying them out, the boys and I screwed them down.

Caleb's Climbing Wall

Caleb's Climbing Wall

Caleb's Climbing Wall

 

Step 8 – Assemble and Finishing Touches

  • Once the glue has dried (the label says 24 hours, but my boys were not going to wait that long) then attach the top with 4” Galvanized 1/2'” bolts
  • Connect the bottom with 6” Galvanized 1/2” bolts
  • When talking this over with a friend, we talked about the possible need for an additional support to fix the angle.  After tightening down the bolts, I saw no need to to add the additional supports, but depending on your angle and and lumber its something you might want to consider.
  • To finish it off I attached poly rope by drilling a hole into one of the supporting 2x4s to add some interest and variety to the climbing. 

Caleb's Climbing Wall

 

Let the Fun Begin

Caleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing WallCaleb's Climbing Wall

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Selling a Great Car: 1995 Honda Accord EX Wagon

Update: Car has been sold.

It’s so hard to say goodbye.  Not holding too tightly to good things seems to be a prominent theme in my life right now.  Well, with the shift to working at home, we simply don’t need two cars.  We’re cutting back and it’s time to say goodbye to the Honda Wagon.  This has been a fabulous car.  So much so, I hate to even get rid of it.  I need to though… otherwise it will rot in my driveway.  So if you know of anyone in need of a great car, send them this link.

Here is some relevant information:

1995 Honda Accord EX 4D Wagon (Dark Green)
$3000

Features

· Only 130k (low miles for a Honda)

· A/C

· Alloy Wheels

· Power everything (windows, locks, seat, etc.)

· Recent brake replacement (front & back)

· Timing belt has lots of time left on it (at least another 40k)

· Great tires with lots of life left

· Back seats fold down for more cargo space

· Cruise Control

· Moon Roof

· AM/FM Cassette Deck

Flaws

· ABS and SRS lights are on (which means they may not be operational)

· Baseball size dent on rear driver side (over wheel well)

· Slight rust on rear driver side wheel well (unrelated to dent)

· Aluminum alloy rims have been known to slowly leak air (I am including my air pump with the car)

· Various slight scratches in the paint.

Maintenance History

· Standard Brake Replacement

· Oil changes regularly (every 5k)

· Shocks, Struts and Springs in front recently replaced

· Gas lines (front to rear) replaced

· New Gas tank installed when I purchased the vehicle (2003)

· Driver’s side door replaced (neighbor backed into it)

· Front, Driver’s side CV joint replaced

· Timing Belt changed at 92k

· Muffler replaced (currently in good shape)

See pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollocks/sets/72157606508463678/

Kelly Blue Book Value

Downloadable PDF Flyer

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Christian Medical Bill Sharing Program Comparison

Healthcare!  The mere mention of it can make the hair on the back of you neck stand up.  Recently, in my move to become self-employed, I dug into the topic.  Thankfully, I had a leg up by knowing that “Christian Medical Bill Sharing” programs exist.  The concept is pretty simple: Christians, who share convictions and beliefs, band together to help each other cover the cost of their medical bills.  As one brochure puts it, it is very similar to the Amish building a barn.  They band together to help each other in a time of need.   These programs are not motivated by profits, but by a desire to help their fellow brother and sisters.

There are several programs out there.  In the PDF below I compare the programs on several points that were important to me and my family.  The document makes no claims to being totally accurate, but I hope that it speeds you along if you are investigating these types of the share programs:

Download Comparison PDF

UPDATES (11/2010):

Recently Samaritans’ changed some of their details.  Here are the updates to the comparison PDF

$320/month -  monthly share for a family of 3 or more (as opposed to $285)
$170/year -  annual administrative fee per household
$250,000 -  maximum amount publishable per person/per incident (this is not per year)
$399 -  this is the annual set aside amount for Save To Share
$30/month -  new monthly amount for SamaritanMV
Maternity-  now published as a regular need if the conception is after the start date
$170 -  amount for referral credit

Eventually we had to choose a program.  We chose Samaritan Ministries.

Why We Chose Samaritan Ministries

Transparency

I loved the fact that we were going to send our money directly to the person in need.  While this creates more “bookkeeping”, it is also a much better way to stay connected to the reality of people and their needs.  Because we sent our monthly “share” to an actual person, there is a very transparent yearly fee that covers the administrative costs of managing the lists, helping members and sending out the newsletters.

Simplicity

Of all the programs out there, this one seemed the least like insurance.  Although other plans might be more “convenient” by paying you from the storehouse.  We thought the setup of Samaritans was simple and straight forward.  Costs and coverage seemed very clear.

Family Friendly

We liked their prospective on family.  My wife was pregnant while we did this investigation.  One program would not even allow a pregnant woman to join!!  Samaritan Ministries seems very straight forward about how they share maternity costs.  Even if you had a baby in the first couple months of joining, you would be able to share a portion of your maternity need.

Knew Someone Who Had Been in the Program

I knew someone who had used this program (only for a season of their life).  This certainly help lend credibility when trying to make a decision about “what program do I choose”.

I hope this post and document help you along in your decision making process.  Please feel free to comment or email with any questions you might have for us.

UPDATE:

Apparently there are a bunch of you out there who find this information helpful. That’s great!  If you decide to go with Samaritans like we did, please consider putting us down as the referral on your application.  You can request information about the program here.

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More about Simon

Look Alike

When Simon was in the bouncy seat last night I thought I was having déjà vu.  I looked up and there was a picture of Caleb from about the same time up on the boy’s bookcase.  I brought it down and put it next to him. 

Look alike contest.. Simon Wins

It might be hard to see in the picture, but he was a spitting image of Caleb.

Home on Day 1!

Amy and I were not eager to spend time in the hospital.  After doing this three times already, we have come to realize that there is “no place like home.”  We were very pleased to get the cooperation of the midwife, pediatrician and nurses so that we could bring Simon home on the day of his birth (it certainly helped that he was born at 5:30am in the morning).   Amy spent most of the day sleeping and feeding and we were able to be home at 5pm and eat around our dinner table.  In fact, after dinner we went outside and the boys declared they were having a “birthday party” for Simon.  Caleb even asked to have cake (which I might have gotten if I didn’t think I would have fallen asleep at the wheel). 

Simon's Birthday Party - home on the day of his birth!

Always learning about the system

Whenever we interface with the hospital system there are always some interesting things to learn.  For one, the nurse said that Amy was the first person to check in and out on the same shift.  I’m not for rushing out of the hospital if you really are in need of assistance, but it’s evident that the hospital would love for you to stay a bit longer than you need (in the words of our nurse “if we don’t provide you with services we can’t bill you for anything”).

While Amy was in the room, the nurse came in and asked Amy to “lean forward so she could check her back.”  Amy did so, not realizing why she was being asked.  The nurse was astonished to find no wound from an epidural needle.  The nurse informed Amy that 95% of births at their hospital are performed with epidurals, making it a matter of habit to check women’s backs.

It is interesting to correlate these two pieces of information.  Epidural = longer labor and hospital stay = big fat hospital bill to the insurance company.  I wonder how many people who choose differently if they were footing the bill personally? 

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A New Son and a New Name

First an introduction.  Simon Jacob Pollock was born on June 6, 2008 at 5:30 in the morning.   [This is where weight and height would be inserted.. but I’m not really sure why people give those stats, so I’m leaving them out.]  He looks just like a Pollock.  Below is his very first picture.

Simon Jacob Pollock

Now for the story of his name.

Simon’s name was not always to be Simon Jacob.  Just a day earlier it was to be Simon Clayton.  Clayton was a family name and so initially we thought it made a fine middle name for Simon.  The hours surrounding his birth would change all that.  On June 5th we traveled to be with friends who were celebrating the death of you their young son Jacob.

I say celebrated, and not mourned, because celebration definitely characterized the event.  The Fahmer’s believe, as do I, that a child who has not sinned is not subject to the demands of the Law and therefore the Wrath of God (not the case for the rest of us who have knowingly transgressed the commands of our loving heavenly Father).  It was a celebration because he is in heaven where he continually get’s to behold the face of the Lord Jesus and is free from the suffering that characterized his short life (138 days).

Jacob Fahmer was born with Trisomy 18, a life shortening condition (you can read his whole story here).  His life was short, by God’s own choosing, but it was not without value or significance.  He, like,all creatures made in the image of God, brought a certain reflection that is not limited by length of days. For one, the Fahmer’s life has forever been changed, by the gift of his life.  Secondarily, I believe (and you can read testimony for yourself in this post and in others on Jacob’s blog) that people have been caused to consider their lives and their God.   What other purpose and hope can one have?!  What else is lasting and enduring, than to have the effect of causing people to reflect on their standing with the Eternal God.?!

As we celebrated Jacob’s “home going” my wife began to experience the pangs of labor.  We gathered our children, said a few quick goodbyes and headed home (a hour and 15 minutes away).  On the way back, we could see that labor was beginning to set in. My wife’s contractions were becoming regular instead of fading away.  At one point I looked over to my wife and said “If we have this child tonight I want to call him ‘Simon Jacob’”.  My wife gave a quick nod of agreement.

Why the change?

I don’t believe in coincidence.  I believe that God orders our days, our death, and our birth.  It was not a mistake that my wife went into labor at Jacob’s funeral.  It was God’s plan.  It’s not just the timing of the event that leads me to see God’s hand, but also my understanding of God.  God brings life and death together.  He did it when His Son was crucified.  Jesus’ death brought forth eternal life.  The Creation testifies about this every day.  You have to be blind not to see that God has ordered death to life.  Plants & Animals that die and fall into the ground and nourish the next generation.  A simple walk through the woods could teach this to the attentive eye.  All through the Creation death and life are caught up together to point us to the revelation of Jesus’ death on the Cross and Resurrection three days later.

This is the story I want to characterize my life and the life of my family.  The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  He is embedding that story in our lives, even through the simple “happenings” of life.  Jacob’s death.. Simon’s life have been tied together in a narrative that God is writing.  I am happy simply to see it, acknowledge it, and worship because of it.

Simon Jacob – because God brings life out of death.

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Worm Hotel… Composting with Worms

Well since we have 3 boys (soon to be 4) we thought it only appropriate that we get well aquatinted with things slippery and slimy.  Actually, it was my wife who wanted to make the dive (or should I say squirm) into Vermicompost.  Now we have a hotel for worms in our backyard and lots of happy residents chowing down on our daily food scraps.   We have several small garden plots on our postage stamp size lot in the city, so I'm sure the ROI for compost is about 20 years at price it took us to build our hotel and populate it.  Cynicism aside, I have no doubt that the worm bin will not only provide us with some good compost, but hours on fun for our masculine element.  Check out the pictures below.  If you want to build your own hotel, here is one basic set of instructions.

Our New Hotel

CIMG6090

 

New Residents.. wait.. maybe not.

CIMG6087

 

The Real New Residents

CIMG6099

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Three Step Kitchen Stool (Popular Mechanics)

In thinking my three (soon to be four) boys I want to be able to teach to use their hands to make and fix things.  Being a computer programmer I know that in order to pass on these skills to my sons that I need to develop them myself. 

The kids are frequently in the kitchen trying to help mommy or washing their hands so a stool seemed like a useful project to start honing my skills.  I did some Googling and I found a plan to build a three step kitchen stool on the Popular Mechanics web site.  

Overall I was very satisfied with this stool.  It's rock solid and is definitely something that will be around for years and years (unlike something you would buy at Walmart or even IKEA). 

Here are a few things I learned while making this stool.

Don't be intimidated by new tools or processes – I never used a chisel, glued boards together, planed boards or recessed screws with wood plugs, but I found each of things steps to be fairly straight forward.  I dove right in an was able to learn a few things.

Lining up boards joined with dowels is tricky.  I think if I were going to join boards together on a regular basis I'd look into a joining tool. Lining up the holes where the dowels sit was not very straightforward (even though I marked the middle of the board, the drill seemed to shift). 

Be careful of different colored wood filler – I had some white color wood filer hanging around and decided to use it to fill in the gaps that were left by my cutting.  Bad idea, I should have gotten some wood filer that was the same color as my boards.  The result is that the filler did not blend in when the stool was stained.

Watch carefully if cutting a curve with a jig saw – I don't know happened, but I must have stopped paying attention for a second while cutting the bottom curve with my jig saw.  What I got a flat spot in the curve that I tried to smooth out with my Dremel tool. 

Overall the project was a success.  The boys watched the construction of the whole project (preoccupying them for many evenings) and now they have a piece of furniture that they helped to construct.  It was a learning process for Daddy as much as for them, but after all, that was the point of this particular project. 

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CSA Pickup Point in the 19th Ward

There will be a pick-up location for the Windy Meadow Farms CSA in the 19th Ward this year.  On Thursday evenings during the growing season, from 4-6 PM,  our house will be a pick-up site for this organic vegetable producer.  If you have interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or if you'd just be interested in a steady stream of local, in-season, organic produce, take a look at their website. http://www.windymeadowfarms.com/  Their site gives all of the pricing and contact information along with an online registration form for anyone who wants to sign up.

If you are interested in picking up at our house, please contact me and I will give you our address.

Michael Warren Thomas will be interviewing Brenda from Windy Meadows Farms on March 29th on his show Savor Life on WYSL 1040 AM

Michael also informed me that he is helping to organize a Farmer's market  in the 19th Ward on Tuesday afternoons/evenings. It will probably be located in the St. Monica's parking lot on Genesee St.  When the details are firm I will post them.

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If your dryer sounds like its grinding metal on metal, then it probably is!

CIMG5955

 

CIMG5957

Our family has been tormented by a metal on metal sound from our dryer for months.  It suddenly got worse and my wife wanted it fixed.  I delved into home appliance repair heads first deconstructing my dryer to find the culprit.  Props to my wife who did the research online to find the possible problem.  Our problem was that the back bearing was none existent (who knows how long its been gone) and then support axle was running metal on metal again the bracket.  You can tell from the pictures that it had been going on for quite some time.

I've got hand it to GE, despite all this carnage inside the dryer, it was still functioning quite well (just a little noisy).  I was also pleased to find out that inside a dryer is not a mangled mess of wires and equipment but a very straight forward system that I am sure just about any man with a mechanical mind could figure out (so save yourself the service call).  

I also want to express appreciation to the helpful people Affordable Appliance Service: http://www.affordableappliance.com  They helped my wife initially determine what the problem might be and they sent us a replacement part at a very good price and very quickly. 

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Next,

Things I see

#gocubs. I’ll root for them over the Dodgers :)PhotoBig stuff planned here tomorrow night. #alcsIt’s hot in these here parts.Hunting is one of the few activities that necessitates slowing down and becoming keenly aware of your surroundings.Magic hour #nofilterHunting time. #youthhuntWarming up his swing. GO #southsidelittleleague !!My first ever granny square! Why when I tried this years ago could I not figure it out? Probably YouTube tutorials dawned since then! Like a free craft class at 9:30 at night --- hard to beat it:blush:The house is set for next weekend. #youthhunt Mr SmilesHappy birthday facesNo wonder Lucas has been eating like a horse lately... he's growing like a weed!!! #lifewithboys #growthspurt #threeyearoldsarefunDecided to try and remember how to crochet. Top is my first attempt at a square :joy:. Oops!!! #droppingstitches #crochetingisfunHanging out w mom and Julie in the finger lakes for the weekend. Had a fun time at Naples Grape festival. #lifewithgirls #umbrellahatsarecool #naplesgrapefest

Chris Pollock

Web Developer - proficient in both PHP and ASP.NET.
Rochester, New York

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#gocubs. I’ll root for them over the Dodgers :)PhotoBig stuff planned here tomorrow night. #alcsIt’s hot in these here parts.Hunting is one of the few activities that necessitates slowing down and becoming keenly aware of your surroundings.Magic hour #nofilterHunting time. #youthhuntWarming up his swing. GO #southsidelittleleague !!My first ever granny square! Why when I tried this years ago could I not figure it out? Probably YouTube tutorials dawned since then! Like a free craft class at 9:30 at night --- hard to beat it:blush:The house is set for next weekend. #youthhunt Mr SmilesHappy birthday facesNo wonder Lucas has been eating like a horse lately... he's growing like a weed!!! #lifewithboys #growthspurt #threeyearoldsarefunDecided to try and remember how to crochet. Top is my first attempt at a square :joy:. Oops!!! #droppingstitches #crochetingisfunHanging out w mom and Julie in the finger lakes for the weekend. Had a fun time at Naples Grape festival. #lifewithgirls #umbrellahatsarecool #naplesgrapefest