Soccer Training Videos

inside chop:
outside chop:
low juggling:
front pull:
yo yo:
Soccer Tackle:  This and This

double cruyff:
drag cut:
backpedal warmup:
tic toc rake:

back 90 change:
cruyff stop and go:
super cruyff:

Apple User Design and UI is Not Perfect

Apple is often regarded as one of the best companies for user design and usability of their products.  However, over the years I found a few examples of where their designs need refinement.  This is not an Apple bashing post and I use all of their products daily.  This includes iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, AppleWatch, iMac and MacBookPro.  For the most part, I love their products and prefer them over Android and Windows, but there is always room for improvement.

Mac OSX Dashboard Widgets:  This has been pretty much abandoned by Apple and the widgets that are available are old and extremely simple.  The dedicated portal boasts over 1700 widgets, but there is no such functionality to rate or even search!  I would love to see some way to leverage the single-use functinality of iOS in the Mac OS dashboard.

iOS Safari Back/Forward Buttons:  I’m sure Apple’s marketing plan is that you own an iPhone AND an iPad.  However, on the iPad they put the Safari back/forward buttons on the top while on iPhone they are on the bottom.  Lets be consistent Apple.

Back to [original app]:  This was recently released in iOS9 and although it adds some functionality, the way it was hacked into the left hand side of the title bar is a complete hack.  What I hate most about it is that it blocks your cell/wifi signal.  Also, it gets very confusing when you are in Safari and you are thinking “Do I want to go back one page” or “Do I want to go back to the last app?”.

Apple Watch Txt Bugs:  Reading txts from your watch is probably one of the best features of the watch.  However, the feed it shows you is extremely buggy (Even a year later after release).  Usually it will show you a stream of recent txts, but unfortunately it grabs tags from like a month ago and then sticks the newest one at the end.  This is very confusing and you can easily mistake the prior texts as being from a recent conversation.  Also, there is a bug that it misidentifies the name of the person that texted you with someone else in your contact list.  I see a txt on my Apple Watch from someone that never has txt’d me and then I check on my iPhone and it’s someone totally different.  Lastly, every time I try to reply to a txt from my Watch, it always fails (phone is next to me)

Multiple Apple Id Logins:  This is an absolute mess.  Here are all the ways you need to login on your iPhone in Settings:  iCloud, iTunes, Messages, Facetime, Music, Game Center.  There might be more but you get the idea.  Now for anyone that has tried to setup a Family Plan, this is almost an impossible task unless you are tech support pro.  I have no idea why Apple needs to have you login to all these different programs with many of them using the same ID!

Siri:  This is probably my biggest frustration.  Siri was first released in 2012 and my expectation was that it would slowly be refined over time.  However, it doesn’t seem like Siri every learns anything new unless it’s tied to a major Apple OS release.  Unlike Alexa (Amazon’s version of Siri), which sends you an email weekly on what new things it can do, Siri pretty much continues to struggle. Since Siri is a cloud based service, I don’t understand why the maturity cycle for Siri has to do be tied to anything iOS related.  Here are some examples of why Siri drives me crazy.

  • If you dictate a message and Siri doesn’t know who you are, she will ask “I don’t know who you are, please let me know”.  However, you can’t do that via voice and can only do it manually in the settings!
  • You can’t change volume settings
  • {need to think of a few more}

Apple Music and iTunes:  I really don’t know what Apple is doing here.  The two programs are horrible.  Here are some examples:

  • On iTunes I can “Heart”/favorite a song, but that same song does not appear on my iPhone.
  • If I search for an Artist on my iPhone, there is now simple option to “Play All Songs from this Artist”.
  • Why are there no lyrics!?!



Star Wars Figure Display Cabinet

I recently started collecting vintage loose Star Wars action figures and soon I started to run out of space in my closet. While they didn’t look bad in the closet, I was questioning the point of collecting one hundred or so figures if they are going to be hidden behind a closet door all the time.  I also didn’t want to have to worry about dust so I started thinking of ways to keep them clean, but viewable.

Star Wars Display in Closet

Old closet shelf display

Inspired by the awesome cabinets of and members of the Vintage Star Wars Facebook Group I decided to build my own cabinet to display my loose Star Wars Vintage collection.  I did seriously consider buying a cabinet, but wasn’t prepared to spend the money.  I also wanted a cabinet that didn’t look that Star Wars themed.  I modeled it after the decor of the house which is basically white moldings and pretty simple design.

The display itself is pretty simple and cheap to build. The size of the cabinet was defined by the size of the acrylic plastic I found. My goal was have about 8 shelves which could display 10-14 figures per row.  Not including variations, you need space for about 100 figures if you want to display the four vintage lines from 1977-1985.

Materials list:
32×44″ acrylic plastic  ($25)
1x 2×6′ Premium Pine
1x 2×8′ Premium Pine
1x 3×6′ Pine Select
1x 3×8′ Pine Select
2x 2′x4′ Birch Plywood
Strong Earth Magnets

Main Tools:
Slot cutting Router Bit ($25)
Router Speed Control ($20)
Chop Saw
Brad Nailer and air compressor
Band Clamp
Circular Saw
(drill, chisel, level, etc)

While this is not a complete list of tools, not all of these are necessary. It depends on how fancy you want to get. I’m not a huge fan of Harbor Freight tools either, because most of their stuff is low quality. However, the items I linked to here actually are a great deal and are highly rated and worked very well for me.

When selecting your pine stock, you can try to get the lower grade (cheaper) wood, but ensure it is straight and not warped. Rest it on a flat surface to ensure you won’t have any issues with squaring up the cabinet doors or cabinet.

The total cost of materials to build this cabinet is around ~$100 USD, not including tools. While the instructions below should help, they are by no means 100% complete. This article is meant to inspire and give you ideas on how to make your own cabinet, that will hopefully be better than the one I built!

Start by making the front window for the cabinet. I had to pick through about twenty pieces of acrylic plastic at Lowes to find one that was not damaged. Most had cracks on the sides or the protective wrapping was gashed. Whoever handles the stock must be a caveman. Using the size of the acrylic plastic as your guide, miter your 1×2″ at a 45 degree angle. I made the inside edge a 1/2 inch smaller so that when I cut the slot, in the next step, it would slip into the slot.

After you cut the 4 pieces, use the slot bit cutter to cut a groove into middle edge of the trim. Since the blade is rather large, the tools manufacturer’s recommendation is not to use a router that goes above 16k RPM. If your router is single speed (like mine), then buy a speed control dial like I have linked above. Ensure that after you cut the pieces and before you glue and nail the ends that the frame is a perfect square. Do this by measuring diagonally from each corner and ensure that the measurements are the same. Use the band clamp to clamp while the glue dries, but don’t over tighten as it will bow the wood. I used a brad nailer to tack the pieces together until the glue dries the next day. I also left the plastic film on the acrylic so I didn’t have to worry about damaging. One tip is that you might want to paint the slot so that it is white inside. I didn’t do that, but if I had to do it again…

Star Wars Cabinet Display Window

The frame is basically just 1×3″ mitered at the ends. In order for the plywood backing to sit flush, use the slot bit about 1/16″ from the base to cut a notch. It essentially is being used as a rabbet router bit. Be careful to ensure it doesn’t hit the router base though, but try to get it as close as you can. You might have a slight paper thin, sliver of wood left after you complete your cut that will easily come off with a razor knife.

Since you are using two pieces of birch for backing, think about where the two pieces meet. What I did was create a template block and marked the locations of my shelves on the cabinet frame. I then cut the piece of backing so that the joint would be behind the middle shelf so there would be no visible seam. The height of my shelves were 4 7/8″ but don’t forget to include the width of the shelf as well (3/4″) when you start tempting the positions. You don’t want to go much lower than this or IG-88 won’t fit! Also, if you plan to run lighting inside the cabinet, drill holes in the back corners of the shelves so you can run a wire later. I didn’t want to have to deal with a plug, so I purchased a battery operated string of LED lights.  Don’t expect it to provide a ton of light, but it does give it a nice ambient glow.

Since the backing is flush to the back, a 1′x3 shelf will protrude slightly. You can either cut the shelf down by about 1/4 inch and make it flush against the frame (easy to do if you have a table saw). I opt’d to create a little router jig and using a straight bit, cut out about 1/2″ from each side. Here is picture of the jig I made. Just measure from the end of the router bit to edge of your router fence and add the amount you want to cut. Test first on a scrap piece! This allows the shelf to almost butt up directly to the window without a gap.

Router Jig

Star Wars Cabinet

Unfinished Shelves

Star Wars Cabinet unassembled

To attach the front window to the cabinet I simply used two screws plus some strong magnets glued in along the frame. The weight of the window frame rests on the screws while the magnets hold it tight against the cabinet frame.

Star Wars Cabinet window attachment

To mount to the wall, I used a 22″ Z-Hanger which allows you to catch two studs on the wall and easily mount the cabinet on the wall while still keeping it relatively flush. There will be a 1/4″ gap at the bottom so just use a filler piece behind the cabinet to keep it flush.  This z-hanger I bought from Home Depot actually has a built in level which is pretty cool.  If you want to just screw the cabinet directly into the wall, then make sure your design has a backing block at the top so you have some meat to to drill through and mount into the wall.

Star Wars Cabinet z hanger

Star Wars Cabinet z hanger

Star Wars Cabinet magnet and lighting

This is the battery pack for the LED lights that is hidden on the wall side.  You can also see one of the magnets that flush mounted into the cabinet frame.  On the oppose side of the window is another magnet.

Star Wars Cabinet Cabinet View

The finished cabinet that needs a lot more figures

Star Wars Cabinet work view

My view of my display as I work

Star Wars Cabinet work view

I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time planning, designing, building and painting this piece. I didn’t track the total number of hours spent, but I finished it working on and off in about two weeks. If you like using your hands, then this is a fun project with the byproduct meaning an awesome display for your figure collection. Good Luck and contact me if you have any questions!

Augmented Personality

While I consider myself a technologist and not a futurist, I had the inspiration for this idea on the car ride back from the kid’s soccer practice.

It occurred to me that in the future, the phone, which is a means of communicating orally and via text input, will become transparent and evolve into a form of communication that combines the power of a layered communication grid beyond the Internet.

Your connection to the cloud will be a wearable device, most likely attached to your nervous system and fueled by your body.   The clumsy interface of miniature keyboards on screens will be replaced by our own thoughts.  Our conversations will become altered as we are able to have augmented communication in real time.  The ability to speak one language and have the other person hear their native tongue asynchronously will bridge a gap between cultures like never before.  Just as today, we customize our ringtones, backgrounds and social channels with pictures of our families our interests, we will alter our personalities by adding the equivalent of emoticons to our speech.

The opportunity to augment your communication on the fly will bring the same type of richness you expect in a Word document to your speech.  Similar to how you bold/animate/typeface your written communication, you’ll be able to punctuate your communication with music, voice overs, cloud sourced knowledge.  It may sound scary, almost Max Headroom like, but it will happen as the technologies around us mature into instantaneous computing.

Eventually, the oral communication that we depend on today, but avoid by using text messages and emails will be replaced with a telepathic form of connecting with each other.  It might sound unnatural that a personal interaction, like talking to a friend, would become even more amplified by connecting with them directly.  Cities will be eerily silent, but in your mind, dozens of conversations will feel as though there is a symphony of songs playing in your head.  Scientists will discover that it doesn’t take thousands of years for humans to evolve and we will naturally become more adept at our new form of communication.  System halts in the layered cloud will bring pockets of society to their knees similar to modern day power outages.   Communities will form which only allow natural communication and ban any augmentation devices from their way of life.  People will pay to hack other peoples thoughts for theft, for love and maybe just for curiosity.

The world that will exist in 100 years from now is going to be so different from the world we live in today and it’s going to happen quicker than you can imagine.   I hope to see that world one day.  I hope to help build it.

Reading your Smart Meter

My electric service in Connecticut is provided by United Illuminating.  They recently replaced my old electric meter with a new smart meter when I had my solar panels installed.  If you have a Landis+Gyr Focus AX smart meter, then you can use this cheat sheet to understand what the display codes are that it cycles through:

Landis Gyr Focus Smart Meter Display Codes

Lightweight Camp Shoes For Backpacking

I got the idea to make these DIY camp shoes from a thread.  The blue foam pad only costs eight dollars in Walmart.  They weight in at 1.6 ounces for a pair, size 12.  I probably could get them a little smaller and down to 1.3 ounces.  With one pad, you can probably make at least three pairs too.

Lightweight Camp Shoes

Lightweight Camp Shoes

Some tips:

  • If you have an existing set of flip flops, then try to use that as the template otherwise trace your foot on the back of some old wrapping paper
  • I thought of making a velcro adjustable strap but that’s not needed.  Just duct tape it and you’re done
  • Be sure to fit it with your socks on.
  • Once you make one, trace that one and flip it over to make the other side.

Most ultralight backpackers are against camp shoes of any kind, but at 1.6 ounces, how could you resist?  I’m looking forward to changing into dry socks and my camp shoes while making dinner the next time I go backpacking.

Two Night Backpacking Loops in the NorthEast

Surprisingly, it’s hard to find good backpacking loops that you can do in 2 nights, 3 days.

1. Mt. Marcy: Adirondacks.  Lean-tos, water falls, cantilevered bridges, a wooden dam and climbing the highest point in NY are all some of the highlights for this trip.  I have done this trip two times and it was awesome every time.

Lake Colden Lean-To

You’ll start your hike at the Adirondak Loj parking lot near Heart Lake.  Their is a fee to park and you’ll need a bear canister and possibly crampons if there is still snow.  You can rent them there, but call to make sure they are not out.  They also have a gift shop, food, supplies and hot showers for after your hike (50 cents?)

Day 1:  Arrive Friday afternoon and hike to Marcy Dam.  Take Avalanche Pass to the tip of Lake Colden and snag a lean-to.  Visit the gigantic park ranger’s log cabin and talk to him about recent bear sightings.  ~ 6 miles

Days 2:  Head East toward Lake Tear of the Clouds and ascend Mt Marcy, the highest point in NY. Enjoy awesome 360 views and your lunch.  Head back down the North face towards Indian Falls.  Find another lean-to at Marcy Dam  ~10 miles

Day 3:  A short 2 mile sprint out of the park and back to the car to shower.  Remember to bring some soap and a towel with your clean change of clothes.  Head into Lake Placid for breakfast/lunch.

Please see the map for the route described above.


2. Stratton: VT.  At first I wasn’t excited to hike to the top of a ski mountain, but it’s nothing like that.  You wouldn’t even know you were on Stratton mountain until you get the fire tower and see the lifts on the other side (barely).  This loop features a 20 person shelter as well as beautiful Stratton Lake and classic Vermont hiking on the Long Trail.

Mount Stratton Peak

Day 1:  Park at Old Rootville Road just off of Route 30.  Note that the road is named “Rootville Road”, but the maps incorrectly shows “Old Rootville Road”.  There are a few small parking ares by the water tower on the right.  Hike up Rootville road and stop at Prospect Rock and enjoy the views of your early ascent.  Catch the Long Trail heading SE towards the South side of Stratton pond and hopefully grab a bunk at the spacious Stratton Pond shelter (sleeps 20!).  Always bring a tent just in case, but chances are if you get there around 4pm, there will be room.  You might consider cooking/hanging out at the shelter and then sleeping in a tent.  The reason is that it can be quite loud with twenty or so people milling around.  We also had some quite rude people show up at midnight which can be quite noisy.  Hopefully you’ll meet a few AT thru hikers which will be more than happy to eat your extra food.

Day 2:  Leave most of your gear except your lunch and wind breaker at the shelter and ascend up to the top of Stratton Mountain.  Climb the fire tower and enjoy views all the way up to Killington.  You’ll descend the way you came up again and pick up your gear before you head towards Bourn Pond.  At Bourn Pond, head North on Branch Pond Trail to the WIlliam B Douglas Shelter.   It only sleeps about 5-6 so you’ll need to get there around 4pm to have a good chance of having a spot.  Otherwise there is plenty of tenting spots.

Day 3:  Quick hike out to the car.  Head to Bob’s Diner and enjoy a great meal before heading home.

Here is a map of the route.


  • Camp fires ARE allowed so think about bringing some steak to grill for the first night.
  • Each one of the lean-to sites has a privy, but bring your own TP.
  • There are plenty of places for water, just remember to always chemically treat or filter

If you have any other suggested loops, please post in the comments.  I’m always looking for new hikes.  As always, make sure you are practicing ultralight backpacking as well.

Prius Home Generator

My original home generator system consisted of a 7000w power generator hooked up to a manual transfer switch which would power ten circuits in my house.  It was a perfectly fine setup, but once I started researching other alternative options, I knew I had to change my approach.

After doing a LOT of research, I was able to find examples of how I can have my Prius power my house.  What’s unique about my setup is that it takes the 110v that the Prius generates and transfers it into the 220v manual transfer switch.  The flow is: Prius -> Inverter -> 15amp plug -> 30amp plug -> 10 circuit manual transfer switch.

The four main components of the system are:

Lets go into detail on some of the items:


Inverter:  The inverter I chose can generate 1000w of electricity and peak at 2000w.  After doing several tests, I knew that I didn’t need any more than 800w so a 1000w inverter would be more than sufficient.  Additionally, I opted for a more expensive Pure Sine Wave inverter because I wanted to be able to to power electronics such as the TV, cable box, cable modem and routers.  I also wanted a quick an easy way to connect the inverter to the Prius.  You could go with alligator clips similar to how you would jump start a car, but after finding Woodman’s setup, I knew this is how I would need to set it up.  I have more info in the video, but here is the parts list:

I won’t repeat Woodman’s instructions, but do watch my video for a few tips on actually putting the cables together.  Also, the crimping can take some practice, but this crimping video should help.

Manual Transfer Switch:  Even though I didn’t have a lot of circuits to power at one time, I did have at LEAST six circuits I wanted to power.  You can find 4 circuit transfer switches which are made to work with 110 volt cables, but it doesn’t seem like they make 6 circuit’s anymore.  My setup allows you to power ten different circuits using a 120volt input

Custom Cable:  They do not sell 15a to 30a power cords.  If you want to mimic this setup, you’ll have to create your own.  I followed the great instructions provided by hazardjk.  In my video I talk a little bit about it, but there are a few things you should note:

During the installation of my manual transfer switch, my electrician found some serious issues with my subpanel.  I had double tapped breakers, no grounding to the main panel, neutral and ground bars mixed up and multiple MBWC.  I actually paid him to rewire the subpanel to sort out those issues which needed to be fixed regardless of generator setup.

Watch the two videos which show how I setup everything:


Through my research I found many folks who thought that using a Prius as a generator was not worth risking the car’s durability.  Here are my thoughts:

  • Why would you risk your $30k+ as a generator when you can buy one for 500?  For me, it was a fun project and I wanted to be able to user my existing car as a way to power my house.  The cool factor for me outweighed any potential risk I was putting on my car.  If I think about how often I have lost power in the last 10 years it’s probably been only ten days total.  To be able to use the Prius in-case-of-emergency is not going to put a burden on the car or the traction battery for the few times that it would be needed.  Also, I can always switch to portable generator like a Honda EU2000is in the future if I sell my Prius or don’t have a hybrid car in the future
  • The Prius is not an efficient generator.  Actually it is!  I can’t find the link on at the moment, but from the spreadsheets that I saw, it was as efficient as a conventional generator (non inverter type).  This means that with a full tank of gas in the Prius, I should be able to power the house for a few days.
  • The Prius can’t generator enough power for the home.  That’s simply untrue and really depends on how much power you need to generate.  While there aren’t a lot of videos on Prius’ powering the home, a lot of people have successful powered their homes with small Honda generators:  BillyNewport powers his Home with a 2000w Generator (and subzero fridge!), Honda EU2000is connected to a home, Another Honda powering a home,

So now I wait for the first power outage and we’ll see how my setup performs in a real life situation.  I tested the setup a few times and everything worked flawlessly so I’m excited to try it out.  However, if I never have to use it, that’s ok too, at least I’m prepared.



Email Productivity

I don’t think anyone every says that they are getting less email.  Over the years I developed an efficient system for managing my email and thought it would good to share with you.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. At the end of each day, you should not have more messages in your inbox than you can see WITHOUT scrolling. This is a very important because your inbox is your tool to figure out what you need to DO. If you have 10k emails in your inbox it’s impossible to know what you need to do vs what you need to learn.  Yes, there is search but it’s not useful when you want to search in generic terms. e.g. ppt digital marketing (1001 results found)
  2. When an email comes in, do not immediately answer unless the circumstance calls for it. Certainly don’t answer right away if it seems haphazardly put together. The reasoning is as follows:  1)  A lot of URGENT emails are not well thought out and the direction or task is not clear. Rather than trying to decipher what the sender was implying, let them think about it. If they later respond asking for answer, kindly let them know their request was not clear. Don’t be a enabler for this type of behavior.  2) Conversely, you might be trying to answer as quick as possible but miss the point of the email or a few of the subitems. Give yourself some time so that a few more emails are not generated. Be concise and to the point.
  3. Your email filing structure should match your physical files structure. This will help you not only organize your emails, but your notes and artifacts (files) that are related to the project. For example, under Inbox create folders for each one of your projects. Prefix the important projects with a “1.” or “2.” so they are listed first. Within your documents folder, create the same folder structure. A few months later you’ll be confident that any project related items are either in the email folder or the file folder.
  4. Only file one copy of the threaded email. If you have a 10 reply email conversation going, no need to keep every iteration in your project folder. Delete the prior emails and file the last email in your project folder. You’ll always have the replies in Sent items as well.
  5. If the email is valuable and you don’t know where to file, but still want to keep it, then simply put it into an _Unfiled folder that you had created under Inbox. This is the catchall place to put items that are miscellaneous in nature. They don’t clutter your inbox, but still enable you to refer to them in the future. The next time you have some Internet down time, you can open up the _Unfiled folder and start putting those emails in their place (or delete them)
  6. If the email contains a follow up task that you can’t complete that day, you have three choices. 1) File the email in the project folder AND then create a task. The task should be specific on what you need to do. 2) File the email and send yourself an email with the task. The email will serve as the reminder. A third option is to mark the email unread which signals that there is a follow up to reread later.
  7. Remove the preview feature of viewing an email without opening. This will only distract you. The “unread” feature of emails is critical to train yourself to know when you need to respond back to someone. In the instance when you view an email and you don’t have time to fully respond, close the email and then mark it as unread and try again later.
  8. Organize your emails by Date with the newest email up top. Items that on the bottom are either things you have been procrastinated on or need some help in completing.
  9. At the end of the day, do a bottom up scan of your emails. This does a few things:
      • Highlights items that are lagging (oldest items at bottom)
      • It helps you keep a “mental inbox” of outstanding items that you need work on.
      • It helps you set what your goals are going to be for the next day.
      • Lastly, it helps you find any emails that you may have forgotten to answer