Earthtainer – use it to compost too!

I’ve had a niggling thought in the back of my mind for a while, and it finally came into the light recently.

It seems a bit of a waste of space to have both the Earthtainer and a compost pile. Don’t get me wrong, having a separate compost pile is great if you’ve got a lot of waste, or even a lawn to mow, but what about those that lead smaller-scale lives? The people who live simply and don’t create a lot of waste over time.

My thought: Collect ingredients for the compost, but put them in the dirt section of the Earthtainer! If you grab a few worms while out for walks on rainy days, you’re set!

This is also ideal for tomatoes – when you plant them you’re better off half burying them a few weeks later (they put out more roots from the buried stem), and when veggie waste breaks down it shrinks.

Here’s the how-to:

Create the Earthtainer’s bench (the platform that has the wicking basket in the middle and holds the earth out of the water) like normal and put in the landscaping fabric like normal (keeps the dirt out of the water). Then put a big mound of dirt over the wicking area and surround it on all sides with compostable material. Repeat until the Earthtainer is 1/2 to 2/3 full, then top it off with a layer of dirt and toss in some worms.

The core in the middle will wick the water like normal, the worms will go into the scrap veggies and gorge – creating compost (vermicompost, technically).

EarthTainer – my customizations

The EarthTainer is a wonderful idea, but over time I think the Rubbermaid totes in the stores will get thinner and thinner (and less and less opaque) as the corporation cuts costs; this may make my tweaks required instead of preventative steps.

1.) After the main tub has been prepared (holes drilled and such) use the landscaping fabric to make an inside curtain from the top of the tote to the bottom in a full circle (if you like the look, feel free to do it on the outside – the black will absorb the heat from the sun).
This curtain should slow the sunlight and algae growth.

2.) Put in your support bench and cover all inside surfaces with the landscape fabric – much like a fabric cup. This should make it easy to pick up the soil as a package (no digging in the fall) and may keep most of the roots out of the water.

3.) Do NOT drill a hole for the feeder tube but cut an upside down U just below the bench level – best on the side facing away from the sun to slow algae and evaporation. This stiff flap stays closed until top up time.
Random tip: drill the ends of the cut so the cut doesn’t turn into a travelling crack as the plastic gets more brittle.

I plan to use a flexible hose (that’s stored away from the sun) to top up the water. I will probably have rain water in a large bucket and use a simple syphon to move the water.

Also: the second cup-like wrapping of landscape cloth will come in handy shortly… I forgot to drill holes in the bench for drainage into the water section. Heh, oops.

Dollar Store Gardening

I’m an avid fan of dollar stores, and with good reason: the ones in my area ROCK.

Here are some of my plans for uber-cheap gardening:

1 Plastic window box (these come in 1/4 round, square or long. I prefer the long ones – they disappear fast, though.)
1 nylon scrub pad cut in 2 pieces (the ones that don’t include soap)
1 packet of nasturtium seeds
1 packet of lettuce seeds
1 packet of calendula seeds
1 kid’s watering can
1 sheet of emergency blanket (the thin reflective kind. cut into smaller pieces – this is to reflect the sun back onto the plants)
1 package of bamboo sticks (the long ones – to support climbing plants OR to hold the reflective blanket)
And if I wanted to I could buy the soil in the dollar store too, but it’s cheaper in big bags.

Assembly:
Take the window box, flip it over and gently carve the recessed O’s out for drainage.
Flip it back to right side up and place the halved scrub pad over the holes; this acts as a filter to keep the soil in.
Fill with your choice of soil
Water with kid’s watering can (if you can’t get one with a sprinkling head, place a small square of scrub pad on the surface of the soil and pour on / into it; it absorbs the force of the water.)

Let your box drain for 5 minutes and then plant the seeds.
Put the box in a WARM place until the seeds germinate – the lettuce should pop out in a day, the nasturtiums shortly behind them.

Or: keep in a dark spot to encourage root growth (a day or two), then harden off or just stick them in the window.

My only concern is that the plastic may contain something that should not be in food / has chemicals the plants will absorb.

Cure multi-page articles with Repagination and Adblock Plus

I don’t know about you, but when I see what should be a one page article spread across 6 pages in tiny chunks, it drives me nuts! Call me crazy, but I don’t want to wade through ad-saturated page after ad-saturated page just to read a simple article!

A few examples of this are:

  • computerworld.com
  • environmentalgraffiti.com
  • ew.com
  • gamesradar.com
  • instructables.com
  • itwirecom
  • maximumpc.com
  • rd.com

While Adblock Plus usually makes short work of the ads, there are also self-promoting ads on every page as well. I may be interested in these on the first page, but by the second, third and fourth pages they’re nothing but the visual equivalent of static noise.

Repagination (a Firefox add-on) stitches all of the pages together, much like taking a report and taping the pages end to end to create a large ribbon.

Add in Adblock Plus’ side kick “Element Hiding Helper” to zap the noise, and you can actually do what you set out to do – read the article!

How-to:

Requirements:

The first thing you’ll need to do is stitch the pages together:

  1. Right-click on the Next link
  2. Choose Re-pagination
  3. Choose All
  4. Wait as it loads (you should see your scroll bar shrinking and jumping up)

Then I’d recommend scrolling down to the second page, or even just the last page.

before-part-of-page-1-some-of-page-.png image by AmandaKerik

Once you’re there, you’ll want to use Adblock Plus’ Element Hiding Helper to target the areas that are not related to the article (header, footer, “you might be interested in” links, etc.)

The way I target each annoyance is:

  1. Right-click on the Adblock Plus icon and choose “Select Element to Hide”
  2. Move your mouse over the offender
    starting-selection.png image by AmandaKerik
  3. Hit W (wider) on the keyboard until it outlines an area that affects the content
    go-one-step-too-far.png image by AmandaKerik
  4. Hit N (narrow) to go back down a level
    final-target.png image by AmandaKerik
  5. Hit B (blink) to see what removing that selection would affect.
    after-first-selection-applied.png image by AmandaKerik
  6. Hit S (select) to choose that area
  7. Go into the advanced editor
    selection.png image by AmandaKerik

Here’s the tricky part… I, personally, don’t like the first page affected by the slimming process.

In the advanced editor,

  1. scroll up the tree until you’re just under the body area,
  2. choose the one that’s the ancestor of your target
    direct-ancestor.png image by AmandaKerik
  3. then find the ancestor with the SAME name on the same level.
    selection3.png image by AmandaKerik

Troubleshooting:

Every once in a while Repagination inserts a frame for the next page, which foils adblock’s selection.

The easiest solution to this is to go into Adblock Plus’ Preferences, finding the rules for the site, and replacing (as an example):

instructables.com##*#container + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + *#container > DIV#sidebar

with

instructables.com##*#container ~ *#container > DIV#sidebar
after-tilde.png image by AmandaKerik

The tilde (~) means “any sibling after”, and so this would target all of the “container”s after a “container” that are on the same level. It’s usuall shift + `, which is called a “back tick” and is in the very top left of most keyboards.

Problems with Uninstalling Google Toolbar

I’m writing this quick note from a computer I’m fixing – the previous owner had various things installed, and one of them was the Google Toolbar.

Now, I’ve always thought of Google in a positive light, but after today… there will always be that thread of frustration tainting the view.

Ok, short version: The computer had Google Toolbar installed, and I tried to uninstall it. It uninstalled fine on the Admin account, but on a different account with near admin privileges it just wouldn’t get lost!

I tried a total of 7 times (uninstall, restart, check to see if it’s there) to get rid of it and it wouldn’t get the f—- off the computer, so I went into the folder on the harddrive that holds the extensions and found the folder that held the Google Toolbar. Hit the delete key and check? Gone…. FINALLY!

Details: I tried to uninstall it from the add-ons area as well as the uninstall option hidden in the toolbar itself. Each time it promised me that it would be gone, and each time I came back it was in my face insisting I set the search engine, etc etc etc.

Extra annoyance factor: it wouldn’t go away by clicking on the close button. Google: sometimes I have better things to do than to answer your stupid questions about which search engine I want and if I want to “help” you with stuff.

KOL GM Scripts – My picks from OneTonTomato’s huge list

These are the OneTonTomato scripts I can see myself using, ymmv.

Please note that some, but not all, are on the wiki so there may be duplicates to my previous post.

Repost – run greasemonkey scripts in all browsers

run greasemonkey scripts in all browsers

* Greasemonkey, an extension for Firefox. Make sure to restart the browser before trying to add the script.
* Trixie, one of the best Greasemonkey-like plug-ins for Internet Explorer
* SIMBL and GreaseKit for Safari
* no additional software for Opera, but you need to enable the feature from Opera’s interface
* Konqueror Userscript for Konqueror
I mentioned my doubts on Greasemonkey scripts working in all these browsers as GM scripts use GM-only commands. The Trixie looks promising (but don’t say I said that)