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My notes and information about the ATT Free Msg: Your data usage is among the top 5% of users. Data speeds for this bill cycle may be reduced.

(Note: if AT&T’s throttling is affecting you too, please follow me on twitter as I’ll be continuing to broadcast my investigation there)

Looks like AT&T has a new system to rid itself of the remaining unlimited data plan accounts: throttling.

Last month, I got a troubling text message from the cell phone carrier with some news — not one of their updates to let me know that the card on file has expired — this was something new, something domineering in its faux-friendly tone.

ATT Free Msg: Your data use is approaching the top 5% of users. Avoid reduced data speeds, use Wi-Fi where available. Visit att.com/dataplans or call 8663447584.

A confusing message — I’ve been with AT&T since the early iPhone days, and still have their unlimited data plan. Who were these “top 5%?” What type of use were they seeing? Had someone hacked into my phone account and started torrenting BlueRay movies? I checked my data usage for the month: a very mediocre  2.4gb — and this was about three weeks into the billing cycle (btw, I’m on a family plan, but data is reported separately).

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Some New Photos of Salman Agah’s Pizzanista in Downtown Los Angeles

A few months ago I checked out a new pizza joint in the gritty, industrial part of downtown LA called Pizzanista. Whole pizzas and slices made on a rich, flavorful dough that stands high above what you find at most pizzerias. And for me, the best part was the pre-made vegan slices.

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Reshaping An Old Surfboard Into New

Hilo surfer/shaper Robert Patterson gives a 80’s relic an extreme makeover, changing the game and breathing new life into an old friend.


7’5 to 5’5

Welcome to the bonus round…

Great concept: take an old surfboard, peel the fiberglass off, reshape it and give it new life. These guys did it with an old 7’5 single-fin (as did the dudes in the fantastic surf film Picaresque — one of my faves). Check out the interview with the surfer who received (and then rides) this board in this video too.

Related: A little over a year ago I inherited a 9′ longboard that looked like it had been used for target practice AND batting practice — possibly on the same day at times. I started removing the raised areas where the fiberglass had separated from the foam underneath, and soon had a board that looked like a zebra. Finally I decided the best bet would be a full restoration. I’m halfway through it, and honestly I don’t have much confidence that it will turn out well, but seeing that it’s a first attempt, I have no expectations that I’ll be able to shape the like pros do. My point is this: You gotta start somewhere, and where better than with a busted up board?

This video gives me inspiration to head down to my workshop and get messy. You know where to find me.

Peeling the fiberglass off. Lots of foam tends to come up with it. Especially on the rails.

Free Workbench Plans – The $175 Homemade Workbench

Need a workbench for your shop, something solid that will likely last longer than you will? Something you can do serious woodworking on? Mount a vice? Build shelves and cabinets and a crib for the new baby? Well, be prepared to plunk down a ton of cash,  because workbenches like that don’t come cheap.

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Upcoming Kenmore Blogger Summit Visit – And a Chance to Win Some Prizes

I’m pretty excited to be heading to Chicago next weekend (Jan 20/21, 2012) to meet with the bigwigs at Kenmore and hear about some of the new things that they are getting up to. They’ll be flying me and a few others out and showing us their latest in home goods. Most of the stuff I focus on in this site is gadget, tool, and build-related (and I’ve helped out with similar events for Craftsman, another Sears brand), but I do let my pizza fascination influence some of the posts I make on this site, and am intrigued if Kenmore has anything pizza-related in the pipeline (not that there’s any reason for me to think so).

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Shaping the Perfect 40-Minute Surfboard

Wonderfully shot video piece by The Surfers Journal from a couple years back with iconic board shaper Terry Martin. While not a brand new, it’s always awesome to watch a master at work. Martin has shaped over 75,000 boards, spanning many decades. He’s a true legend.

“Terry Martin and the perfect 40-minute board”

Having started with wood as a lad in ’50s San Diego, on through to shaping sleek Phil Edwards Models, to the now – where he finds himself an in-demand builder of boards of all denominations for Hobie- Terry Martin is the consummate craftsman. In this episode of TSJ/POV Shorts, Terry shapes a perfect traditional noserider, talking us through his philosphy and technique as he works.
Terry was featured in a “Soundings” interview in TSJ 14.4.

Block planing the wooden stringer
Checking the tail for square

Check out all of The Surfers Journal videos here.

Illustrated Map of Los Angeles from 1932, a Note about the Perry-Castañeda Map Library, and the Award-Winning US Map by David Imus

I’m a huge map nerd and a history buff, so finding this illustrated layout of early Los Angeles (the city I’m currently living in and exploring) is like unearthing an ancient treasure map of fun discoveries. Los Angeles is an interesting place as it didn’t grow to prominence until recent times — things only really started clicking around 80-90 years ago, thanks to the oil and entertainment industries. This map from 1932 is interesting as it shows how many landmarks were already in place then, yet still shows the large tracts of undeveloped areas that remained in this region in those times.

Maybe the most fascinating thing about this map: NO FREEWAYS. No 101 cutting through Hollywood. No 405 crawling past LAX. Heck, no LAX for that matter. Remember, the Model T Ford had only been introduced 18 years prior, and the winding Arroyo Seco Parkway (Interstate 110, otherwise known as the first freeway in the USA) wouldn’t be built for a few more years. It’s no wonder the map maker drew Pasadena, Burbank and Universal City as far-off destinations, approaching and beyond the horizon — it must have taken a full day to drive to any of those spots. Not that it’s much better now.

One other interesting note is that Los Angeles hosted the Olympic games in 1932, and you can see the Olympic Village drawn in just south of USC’s campus.

Click and zoom on the map, explore, pan around. I haven’t seen zoom.it before, but I love the functionality. Make sure to go full screen on this thing.

You can also find this map on bigmapblog.com, which has a number of their map findings available for purchase. I might look into getting this one for my wall.

And next time you need some maps for your project, historic, modern, or otherwise, check out the amazing collection available at University of Texas’ Perry-Castañeda Library. It’s an amazing resource that has just about everything I can imagine online to browse through.

Here’s an image of 1902 Hollywood/Silverlake area Los Angeles

and 1915 San Francisco Bay Area (no bridges back then).

Finally, for you map geeks, make sure to check out David Imus’ award-winning map of the US. He spent 6000 hours over the course of 2 years to make it, working along at home, then won “best of show” against the huge map makers (Rand-Mcnally, National Geographic, CIA, etc) in 2010.

From slate:

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See
The longer you look at Imus’ map, the more deeply you feel the complexity and the artistry.
It is delightful to look at. Edifying to study.
– Slate.com

Read the full article about Imus here — this is one of those “ultimate DIY” accomplishments.

That Time I Shot a Pumpkin Thief With a Pumpkin Cannon (no, not really)

About a year and a half ago I helped some producer friends shoot a “punkin chunkin” themed segment of a popular cable TV show. I had initially talked with them about building a catapult for the scene, but they were able to locate a guy who has his own oversized pumpkin-launching “potato gun,” so they asked if I’d just help out by appearing in the bit as one of the good ol’ boys having a laugh and firing off some shots of the cannon.

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The DIY Princess Leia-Style Vapor Screen ‘Hologram’ Projection System by Chris Weisbart

If you like DIY tech stuff, make sure to follow me on twitter — thanks!

My pal Chris Weisbart is a huge inspiration. Creatively minded, handy in any workshop, great cook, loves surfing at 6:00am, and always able to get a room full of people laughing anywhere he goes. The best type of guy to hang with.

Chris recently posted a few of his art projects online. Some of these are pieces that he’s put together in his day job as an event tech at a local museum in Los Angeles. Others are personal endeavors done for art shows or just for fun. All of them have Chris’ signature aura of “cool.”

One of my favorite of his projects is the vapor screen display. Remember that scene in the first Star Wars when R2D2 projects the video of Leia pleading, “Help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope?”  This’s like that. It’s based on the same concept used by commercial units, but built instead with everyday items (drinking straws, scrap PVC pipe, a kid’s humidifier from the thrift store, some scrap computer fans). The device creates a thin sheet of vapor mist that catches projected light from a forward-facing projector, which generates an eerie, floating hologram effect that almost looks 3-D.

The brief how-to from his video:

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