Pork bones? Delicious

Most people think of ramen as a staple food of college students and those on an extreme budget. The soup evokes memories of blocks of barely-edible noodles reconstituted in boiling water — flavored with a tiny pack of unknown seasonings.

Real ramen, though, is totally different than the freeze-dried, prepackaged stuff you might remember from your college days. (It’s a creamy, flavorful Japanese soup, full of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, meats, soy, and other tasty and non-dehydrated ingredients.)

One of the best places to get real ramen in the East Bay is Ramen Hiroshi. With locations in downtown Walnut Creek and…

My laptop, Kindle, and toothbrush run on California sunshine

What would you do if your power went out for three to four days at a time, several times per year? My slice of the San Francisco Bay Area is subject to Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPSs), where our utility (PG&E) kills the power to whole communities for days at a time in order to prevent deadly wildfires. I know the shutoffs are an essential safety measure, but they’re also incredibly disruptive. In 2019, the town where I live lost power for several three- to four-day stretches.

To weather these shutoffs, I built a private DIY solar microgrid. …

And reduce energy consumption even if your dryer is working properly

Even fancy dryers are ultimately pretty simple devices. There’s a big, spinning drum filled with wet clothes. Hot air (heated either by natural gas or electricity) blows into the drum as the clothes spin. The heat evaporates water from your clothes into the air, and an outlet hose carries the damp air away, venting it outside your home. Your clothes emerge dry and (hopefully) unwrinkled.

Although dryers are simple, lots can go wrong with them. When this happens, your clothes might not come out fully dry. …

Why talking to your microwave isn’t always silly

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 20, 2021, all this week I’ll be sharing stories about the importance of accessible tech.

I’d like to start with the Amazon Smart Oven. The Smart Oven is a $250 voice-controlled microwave and air fryer sold by Amazon. It’s part of Amazon’s drive to put its Alexa voice interface into basically everything, from smart speakers to watches to, well, microwaves.

When the Smart Oven first came out, it was met with a lot of ridicule. Many reviewers derided the oven for integrating voice control features which appeared silly. “Do we really…

Change your lightbulbs, change your life

When I first bought my house in the San Francisco Bay Area late last year, the place was like a museum of energy inefficiency. Nearly every light fixture in the house used a different kind of power-hogging incandescent or halogen lightbulb. When we got our first monthly electric bill, I nearly fell over — it was $868.

I knew that we needed to make a change. So I researched, bought, and installed modern, highly efficient LED replacements for every fixture in our home’s motley collection of random lights. …

Send in the ghost (kitchens)

It used to be that if you wanted food from trendy San Francisco restaurants like Curry Up Now or Senor Sisig, you had to venture into the city, deal with parking, and often find an outdoor place where you could eat your meal. And if you lived in the city but decamped to the ‘burbs to WFH during the pandemic, getting your fix of fusion tacos or Indian street food meant driving back over the bridge.

Now, through the launch of Local Kitchens on Lafayette's Mount Diablo Boulevard, several of San Francisco’s trendiest and most popular restaurants have a presence…

#2: Exit Signs

When I was a kid, I remember opening up a smoke detector and finding the international symbol for radiation printed on its innards.

I knew that nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons and Spiderman all used radiation. But really, a smoke detector? Was that true, or was there some kind of printing error?

It turns out that a surprising number of everyday items use nuclear radiation to do their jobs, or are inherently radioactive. Here’s a short list of everyday items that are surprisingly radioactive--and what that radiation means for you.

Smoke Detectors

Yes, many smoke detectors really are radioactive. According to the…

This DIY project probably won’t make you rich, but it will help you understand how Bitcoin works

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about mining Bitcoin on any PC and also shared the details of a cryptocurrency mining PC I built in 2018. In mining a little Bitcoin of my own, I developed a much deeper understanding of how cryptocurrencies and the blockchain work (and made over $1,600 in the process).

What if you want to graduate to the next level, though, and build your own basic cryptocurrency mining PC using modern parts in 2021? I decided to find out, so I enlisted the help of my friend Adam, a computer engineer at a security company…

Blended in-person/virtual meetings, weddings, birthday parties, whisky tastings, and more

Over the last year, we’ve all become Zoom experts. My four-year-old knows to shout “Unmute yourself!” at people he can’t hear on video calls. Much of daily life has gone virtual, from meetings and conferences to weddings, happy hours — even, for better or worse, court appearances.

Now that more people are vaccinated, Covid-19 case rates are dropping, and the world is beginning to open back up, though, all that is changing. According to TechRepublic, 2021 will be the year of the “hybrid event.” …

Save money, reduce consumption, and support local businesses

Tech Shortcuts for Life is a weekly column from Thomas Smith on Debugger exploring the apps, automation, gadgets, and other tech tricks that can make your life more efficient.

In 2019, my family and I challenged ourselves to reduce the amount of trash we threw away with the goal of getting as close to zero waste as possible. Despite being a family of three at the time — and cooking about 30 meals per week for family and members of our community — we leveraged tech and used simple shortcuts and hacks to reduce our landfill waste from 96 gallons…

Thomas Smith

Co-Founder & CEO of Gado Images. I write, speak and consult about tech, privacy, AI and photography. tom@gadoimages.com

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