Information & Tips

5 DIY Backyard Project Ideas To Add Flair To Your Patio

5 DIY Backyard Project Ideas To Add Flair To Your Patio

Any homeowner wants a patio that looks extravagant, that too without having to spend a penny.

While an elegant patio is necessarily an expensive venture, it does require an eye for design and aesthetic to acquire the most appeal. You can easily convert any forgotten backyard into an elegant spot where you can enjoy the outdoors with family and friends.

That’s why I’ve compiled these best DIY backyard project ideas to help you frame your patio and transform it to add to your home’s appeal.

1.     Stone Path

A backyard without a stone path is like a body without a soul. You might call that a dramatic analogy, but that’s just how crucial a stone path is to a backyard.

Are you wondering why?

Well for one, a stone path protects your grass. Do you remember intentionally trekking over your garden? Neither do we, but that’s how many times you’ve run over your grass. A stone path allows you and your guests to move through various parts of your garden without having to step on the grass itself.

Secondly, a stone path allows you to traipse through high grasses without destroying your garden, which lets you truly experience the outdoors.

2.     A Fire Pit To Cozy Things Up

A fire pit may sound like a naïve idea, but adding one to your backyard can s the mood, and make the atmosphere more homely. Who needs to go to the woods to build a campfire when you can do it at home?

Whether you buy it from a nearby store or craft yourself it yourself, a fire pit adds charm and appeal to your backyard. All you need are marshmallows and some cocoa before having your friends over.

3.     Adirondack Chairs For Added Comfort

Whenever I need to relax, I find there’s no better spot than my Adirondack chair in the backyard. It makes my backyard so much more soothing and peaceful.

If you’re looking to make your garden elegant and tranquil, Adirondack chairs are a must-have!

Coupled with some warm blankets, an afternoon nap in your personal outdoors never seemed so serene. These backyard chairs withstand harsh weathers too, which makes them a great addition to any backyard.

4.     Add Pops Of Color

Matching a modern-day barn isn’t an easy task, but you can come up with a stylish festive by using a colorful lantern collage across your backyard.

You can start off with chicken wires to form the structure’s basis. Proceed to attach your lanterns with the shipping tape.

When you do this, make sure to mix and match different lantern by their size and colors, so you get the best match for your desired aesthetic. Join the parts with the glue leaving no gaps in-between.

By the end of it, you’ll only have to tie it up using fish wire and nails – and you’re good to go!

5.     Build Your Pergola

You might find that a pergola is a costly attempt to raise the aesthetic appeal of your backyard.

While that is true to an extent, it can be pretty inexpensive if you build one on your own.

The best part? If you do decide to DIY, it’s a pretty budget-friendly project to take on. Of course, the size and dimensions will differ according to your backyard. However, you can modify the design to fit even the smallest of spaces.

Now that you have some simple DIY backyard project ideas to go on, your dream backyard isn’t too far off. These pocket-friendly ideas should help you spruce things up without breaking the bank while you’re at it.

Photo credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Get Over Your Espresso Woes – Easy DIY Ways To Repair Your Coffee Maker

Nothing can beat the refreshing effect of freshly brewed coffee as it not only gets you up and moving but also sets your mood for the rest of your day.

But what if you wake up one day and find your coffee maker is not working anymore? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

Relax, because there’s an easy way out, and it doesn’t involve missing out on your favorite beverage. You can repair your coffee maker by following some simple yet effective DIY methods.

Easy DIY Ways To Repair Coffee Maker

Repairing your coffee maker is no rocket science. In fact, most coffee maker repairs techniques are easy to apply and involve fundamental tools, such as screwdrivers, multi-meters, etc.

Here are some of the common issues you can face with your coffee maker, alongside simple DIY methods to repair them:

Check The Knobs!

I’ll tell you exactly what my father says every time I ask him to repair my coffee maker: “Did you check the knob?”

If your coffee maker doesn’t turn on, chances are the problem lies with the knob, i.e., the dial.

To test the knob, switch off your unit and remove the cover. Then, if you find your coffee maker’s knob lopsided, adjust it. Or, if it is defective, consider replacing it.

Unscrew the knob and change it with a new one – and your coffee maker is good to go!

Maybe It’s The Broken Power Cord?

If the knob works fine, look into the power cord of your coffee maker. Over time, the wire connection is subject to wear and tear, which may result in inadequate electrical supply.

Much like any other electrical appliance, this is one of the most common issues faced by coffee makers.

To change cords, toss your unit upside down and remove the screws first. The power cord is attached with a clip; if you want a better view of it, pull it out.

Now, after you have detached the power cord, trim the wire where it is connected with the board and rotate it onto your new cable.

Faulty Switches

Another problem that plagues coffee makers is faulty switches. The buttons on the outside don’t synchronize with the internal switches – depriving you of your fine morning espresso.

To set the switch problem straight, take out the carafe and reverse it upside down. Try different power switches within the available connections and attach them back.

Heated Fuses

When you’re tired and fatigued, you simply can’t go on anymore without some rest. The same is with your coffee maker: it stops working if it becomes too hot.

Thermal fuses block your coffee maker’s power flow when overheated, to avoid damage to the core components of the machine.

To replace it, open the unit to get a better view of heated parts, and use a multi-meter to ensure that the fuses are working fine. Replace them if necessary.

Broken Control Board

There might be a minor issue with the control board that is easily fixable if you just look into it calmly.

Let’s walk you through each step.

Your coffee maker’s control board has many components that can break down easily.

To detach the board from the maker, carefully flip the unit and remove screws. You’ll set the board securely in place with screws and a bracket. Disconnect the wire assembly from the board and connect the new one.

Change control board components with the screws and a bracket and reassemble your coffee maker. And you’re done.

A Defective Thermostat

If everything works and your coffee maker continues to act up, the problem may very well lie with a defective thermostat.

Thermostats are small white devices within your maker, attached with a metal clip. Use your screwdriver to remove the clip.

In case thermostat wires are fastened, a new terminal end will be required to connect the new device with the current set of cables. Trim the wires and fold them back in the terminal ends.

Don’t forget to attach the metal clip back to keep the thermostat secure.

 

There you have it – some basic DIY repair techniques to fix coffee maker. So next time you face a problem, don’t let it ruin your morning. All you need are a few tools, and you can go back to enjoying your coffee just the way you like it!  But remember, if these ideas don’t work, it’s best to see your local technician and have them fix your coffee machine.

Photo credit: Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

Got Scratch Marks On Your Car? 4 Steps To Getting A Spotless Finish

Discovering a dent, scuff mark, or a scratch on your vehicle can be downright frustrating. It can happen for many reasons; chief among them are car accidents, parking mishaps, and vandalism.

The trouble is that paying a body shop for a new coat of car paint can be expensive, costing you hundreds of dollars to fix a seemingly minor flaw. On the other hand, the DIY route has its risks as well – using the wrong fix can further deteriorate your car’s paint job.

But don’t freak out just yet. If it’s a minor scrape or scruff, you can fix it by yourself at home. Keep reading to find out how.

At the same time, it is also essential to understand that these small touch-ups won’t work for significant nicks and abrasions. You’ll have to get professional repairs in that case.

How To Tell If A Scratch Qualifies For DIY Repair

Here’s what you need to do to tell light scratches apart from deep ones: glide a fingernail in the direction of the scratch – if the nail seamlessly glides on it without catching, the scratch can be buffed out easily.

However, if it catches the fingernail, be prepared to set aside some cash for professional repairs.

DIY Remedies For A Spotless Finish

Here we’ve listed down some quick and reliable fixes using ingredients that are most probably in your home already.

They don’t cost much either, so sourcing them won’t be a problem.

Let’s learn how to remove the scratch marks on your car with these easy, affordable ways:

1-    Shine With The Shoe Polish

Use soapy water to clean the scratched surface thoroughly, and then leave it to completely dry. Next, apply shoe polish in and around the scratched surface, be sure to get a shade darker than your car’s paint job.

The polish should fill the void left by the scratch and spread around it.

Now get some sandpaper and very gently sand down the paint in the surrounding area.  Don’t exert too much force when sanding; otherwise, you might end up making the scratch even worse.

Keep sanding until there is no polish left behind, and it all looks like one uniform color. Once done, use a soft cloth to buff the area. By now, the small scratch should have disappeared.

2-    Nail Polish That Blends In

Many car owners prefer this method as its nail polishes are available in hundreds of colors, making it possible to get a good match for your car’s paint job.

And you won’t even need to buff or sand the affected area in this case — fill the scratch with nail polish until it starts to match with its surrounding. Put another layer or two of nail polish if need be.

3-    Sand In With Toothpaste

Back when CDs and DVDs were a thing, people used to buff them with a bit of toothpaste to cover any scratches that kept them from playing smoothly.

The idea here is the same; smear some toothpaste on a soft damp cloth to effortlessly erase the minor scratches on your car. But before getting started, clean the area with soapy water and let it dry some. You don’t want to buff the dust and dirt into your paint.

Toothpaste helps even the car’s glossy sheen. It fills in the tiny microscopic dents to make the paintwork look even again.

4-    SuperGlue It

Superglue has the innate capability of smoothing itself out, filling up any tiny dents, holes or scratches that may come in its way. And since it’s transparent, color matching won’t be a problem either.

Carefully fill the scratch up with it, and then once it’s semi-dry gently sand it. In a couple of hours, the scratches will pretty much disappear and won’t be discernible to the naked eye.

What About The Deeper Scratches?

The methods mentioned above are quick remedies for light scratches, and they won’t be of much help when it comes to deep ones. However, you can give it a go and try out some of the ideas mentioned above.

But at most, these quick DIY fixes will tide you over until you bring your car over to paint professionals.

For guaranteed results, it would be best to drive down to the local garage and get experts to buff out the paint scratches and refresh your car’s paint job for the best possible solution.

How To Repair And Restore Windows 10 In 6 Easy Steps

You have some urgent work to do, but your laptop is acting up. It won’t boot, and when it does manage to start up, the Windows OS crashes after every few minutes.

Sure, you could take it down to the technician first thing in the morning, but what can you do now to get things moving?

Windows 10 is a powerful OS that is easy to troubleshoot and usually recovers from problems itself. But sometimes human intervention becomes necessary; this may be one of those times.

Let’s explore what can be done to get your computer in a proper working state without losing any data.

6 Ways Of Troubleshooting Windows 10

PC problems creep in when least expected, and it always happens when you have a lot to do. We have detailed some commonly used DIY fixes for a Windows 10 computer that’s been acting up.

Try them all and see what works for you:

1.     Repairs With System File Checker (SFC)

The SFC can scan and verify the working versions of all system files, making it possible for you to quickly find if anything is wrong in there.

Go to start menu, search for ‘command prompt’ and enter ‘SFC/scannow’ at the command line. Make sure you do it as an administrator.

It’ll be a good 10 minutes before the scan completes, but might take longer depending on the hardware on your PC.

Next, this command will also attempt to repair the files that may be damaged or incomplete, by replacing it with a recent copy.  And if the cache file is also corrupted, the SFC command will try to fix that too.

Typically Windows 10 PCs start working a lot faster once the SFC cycle is complete.

2.     Repairs With DISM

Here’s the deal, SFC is faster because it’s a more cursory check.

If you believe there’s a need for a more in-depth and authoritative check, use the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) command. It can fix issues that SFC won’t detect.

But you’ll need to know basic file repair syntax to use DISM properly. Don’t worry, though, it’s easy to figure out, and you can find relevant tutorials online.

Open command prompt as an administrator and then enter individual commands or enter a complete set to check and repair. For example, try the ‘/checkhealth’ command to discover any loss or corruption in the running image of your OS.

So the syntax should read something like this:

dism/online/cleanup-image/checkhealth

On the other hand, the ‘/check’ command lets you know if the damage is fixable.

The ‘/restorehealth’ command attempts to repair the image as long as you can provide a viable source for a healthy image. Otherwise, it will try to find the necessary files online.

3.     Use Windows System Restore

If the system restore function is enabled, Windows automatically creates and saves various restore points on your behalf – you could also specify the time and date for creating this perfect copy of your system.

And when your computer starts acting up, simply go back and reset the system to this perfect copy. Hopefully, things will get back to normal again.

To access it, type “restore point” in the search bar, then click on the system properties tab, and access the system restore wizard. If the system restore tab is not clickable, it means that you do not have a restore point.

However, if the wizard opens up, you can see all the restore points made to date – choose an instance – and click on Scan for affected programs.

It would now show you what changes would be made to your current system. Next, run the restoration process. It should take about an hour to reinstate your system to its former glory, depending on the system and the amount of data that needs to be restored.

4.     In-Place Updates

This is one of the best methods of updating your Windows without losing any important files and folders.

You’ll need another version of Windows 10 on a bootable USB, disc, etc.; make sure it is the same version as the one on your system.

Now, login into windows from an administrator account and remove all antivirus software other than Defender. Then run the upgrade from the setup.exe file, and accept the terms and conditions and license agreements.

It should take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, and your system would be upgraded, and all issues will be resolved.

5.     Factory Reset

If all else has failed, try this move to revert your Windows 10 to its original state, i.e., what it was like right after installation. But know that you might lose your apps, programs, and settings, etc. as a result of a reset, so do it only when necessary. Also, don’t forget to save any critical files and folders on an external drive.

Follow these steps for a factory reset:

  1. Log in as an administrator
  2. Go to settings, then update and security, and then recovery
  3. Right on the top, you will notice it says “Reset This PC,” and a clickable button which says “Get Started”
  4. Click on it, and you will be moved to a new menu where you choose between keep my files or remove everything
  5. Then let it run, and your PC will be reset with or without your files and minus all the apps and settings

6.     A Clean Install

If your system is inundated with malware, and viruses, or ransomware — it would be best to go for a clean install. Also, a fresh installation makes sense if you want to create new drives and delete old windows files that are of no use!

You can use a Windows 10 CD or bootable USB for a fresh install. Once complete, you’ll have a clean virus-free PC.

Please know that your data will not survive a clean install, so it would be best to backup personal files on an external drive before you begin the installation.

Key Takeaway

Hopefully, these ideas will help you resolve your issues, and your PC will work at its full potential so you can get back to work.

However, if all this seems too overwhelming, it’d be best to talk to an expert. Visit your local Windows tech to get your OS fixed ASAP.

 

Remote Working 101 – How To Fix Common Zoom Mistakes

2020 has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride — we have faced some of the most unusual scenarios in the past couple of months while fighting to curb the spread of COVID-19. Chief among them were the precautionary measures that mandated people maintain a physical distance from others.

As a result, many businesses and educational institutions had to close their doors for their staff and customers alike – resorting to working from home where possible.

This created an unexpected dependency on digital platforms that help people communicate and collaborate with ease. So, it comes as no surprise that Zoom usage has been up by 21% since the end of 2019 – there were 12.92 million active users in February this year, and the number keeps increasing.

That explains why Zoom has become the most popular video conferencing tool for organizations of all sizes that are struggling to stay in business despite the raging pandemic.

The good news is that using it is quite straight forward. However, like all things technical, it has some vulnerabilities that can frustrate users, especially those with little to no experience in dealing with technology.

Common Zoom Issues And Easy Fixes

We have explored some of the most common issues that users face and have provided instructions on how to solve them.

Audio Or Camera Troubles

Does it ever happen that you join a Zoom meeting but can’t see and/or hear others?

Don’t worry; it’s probably because you are in such a hurry to get started that you close the window that pops up before entering the conference, without caring for what it’s telling you.

Next time, do not close it, and just press “Join with Computer Audio Tab.” However, if you closed the window by mistake, press the join audio toggle on the bottom left, and then press “Join with Audio Computer.”

If people still can’t hear you – press the space bar – or click the microphone icon on the bottom left and unmute it.

If your camera is not functioning, click the camera icon in the taskbar to enable it. If it still shows an error, go your system’s camera settings and permit it to be accessed by apps.

Gatecrashers

Whether you are heading an online class or having a team conference to check progress — these sessions are private, and only relevant people should be allowed to participate.

Sadly, Zoom bombing has become a thing – it’s where unwanted individuals gatecrash your online meeting to cause chaos and put you off track. Despite the many security layers, some people manage to enter meetings where they aren’t welcomed.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your Zoom sessions remain secure:

  • Update to the latest version of Zoom — many new security measures have been put in place to prevent Zoom bombing. Now, apart from the ID, a password is also required, plus all participants first get placed in a waiting area and need to be allowed by the administrator to enter.
  • Don’t share your meeting ID and password on public places like your companies social media account. Instead, it would be best to send it privately via email, WhatsApp, etc.
  • Lock the meeting once everyone has joined by clicking on participants
  • Delete people who are not meant to be there by clicking on participants, then choosing the particular ID and then delete
  • Disallow deleted people to come back in, by going to the meeting tab under account settings

Don’t See All The Features

Did you just join a call and can’t see all the features that can enhance the experience for you?

You are either using a way old version of Zoom that needs to be updated, or you are accessing via your browser and not the dedicated app.

There is a simple fix, just download the app and use it to hold and join meetings – this way, all the features will be visible to you.

Distorted Videos And Audio

Since most of us are working from homes, it is quite common to a considerable amount of distortion in your meeting.

There can be several reasons for this: the internet connection may be glitchy, other participants may have rowdy children playing in the background, or they may have just left the TV on. Any of these circumstances can lower the quality of your Zoom experience.

So make sure that only one person talks at a time while everyone else keeps their mics off. In fact, next time, when hosting a meeting, deactivate all participant mics so they will be muted by default.

To do so, click on “Participants”, then “More”, and then select “Deactivate Participants” at the entrance. You also have the option to “Mute All” mikes during the call, by choosing Mute All under the participants tab.

Not Receiving The Activation Email

If you sent out a request to join but are unable to receive the email – wait a little – it can take up to half an hour.

However, if you haven’t received the email for more than 30 minutes, check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, you have to whitelist [email protected] with your email provider. That should solve the issue.

Call Cuts After 40 Minutes

This is not a problem per se but a limitation built into the Zoom app. However, if you get the premium subscription, the conference can stretch for as long as you want.

Moreover, the free plan also does not allow you to record the meeting on the Cloud. Instead, you can record on your personal device, then upload the file to the Cloud, which is far from convenient.

So next time, you call cuts after 40 minutes, simply create a new meeting, or to avoid the issue upgrade to a premium plan.

Bottom Line

Zoom is definitely a savior in these troubles times and has been helping many to communicate efficiently. Next time you face an issue during a call, follow the instructions detailed above to ensure that all your virtual meetings and conferences go on without a glitch from here on.