08 Dec
2016

John Craig

By

Our list of must have tech toys for Christmas

Tech toys for Christmas

Are follow-me drones, Fitbits, Apple watches on your Christmas list? How about a home automation/home security system? Sylvain Marcotte, CEO of 14 Oranges, reviews this year’s list of must have tech toys for Christmas with Jared Thomas of Evolution 107.9’s Plugged In.

07 Dec
2016

John Craig

By

Single this Christmas? We have the rundown on apps to get you back in the game!

Dating Apps

Whether you just read our post on ending your relationship using technology, and you are now back on the market, or you are single and looking for that special someone for the holidays, we have your needs covered in this edition of Plugged In. I speak again with Mike Turcotte from Evolution 107.9 about the latest apps available for finding love. Not me mind you … I woo’d my fiancé using traditional analog techniques: dinner and dancing.

06 Dec
2016

John Craig

By

Technology to help you end your relationship before the holidays

Dumped by Technology

The Christmas holidays can be particularly tedious if you are in a relationship that is going nowhere. Buying gifts for your not-so-significant-anymore somebody before the holidays can be stressful chore. But there is hope … the Relationship Transfer Deadline. Coined by BBC Radio 1’s Scott Mills it’s the last day before Christmas when you can safely let go of your significant other and open up your holiday schedule and bank account for your own commercial cravings, and technology can help you get it done! I sit down with Mike Turcotte from Evolution 107.9 and talk about the pro’s and con’s of tech breakups in this edition of Plugged In.

30 Nov
2016

Sylvain Marcotte

By

How to build the 55” IKEA Frankenstein Sit and Stand Desk It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

IKEA Bekant Frankenstein

A while back we did a review of the IKEA Bekant Sit and Stand Desk. As you probably know, the IKEA Bekant desk in its standard configuration comes in a 63” width which in our case was too wide for our working cubicles. Too wide by 3” to be exact. When we purchased one we noticed the way it was was built, and figured out that it wouldn’t be too hard to reduce its size, albeit with a few hacks. In this post, we will discuss how we were able to hack the 63” Bekant desk using the IKEA catalog and build a 55” variation of the IKEA Sit and Stand desk which we have dubbed the Frankenstein. Scary sounding, but honestly, it was worth the effort!

1) Purchasing the parts at IKEA

Maybe the most difficult part of this whole process is actually purchasing the parts. It used to be that the parts for the Sit and Stand desk were all in the self-serve area of IKEA so getting them was easy-peasy, but it seems that IKEA keeps changing where they store those items. We figure they don’t like customers buying up inventory generally meant for one purpose and used for another, or maybe they are onto us! I always figured I was being tracked via my iTunes purchases of ABBA’s Greatest Hits …

The first time we did this (yes, we’ve done this a few times), the 55” table top was in self serve and the underframe was available at the pickup area (where you pay for the item first, and then someone brings them to you). That was easy. The second time, both items were in the pickup area so we had to visit a few different clerks and get two order sheets for the pickup area. Looking at their website today, it appears the underframe is now available in self serve but the tabletop is under pickup.

In any case, you need to be a bit clever in order to get what you need. The key is that you have to go twice to see a clerk and request just the item that you need, because (as mentioned previously) they might get wise to the inventory hack you are performing. I suggest you come up with a story that you bought a Bekant before and it got damaged and you just need that part. I mean, come on … didn’t we just beat the Swedes in the Olympics Hockey finals?! I think they owe us this one without getting suspicious.

Once you have the parts, the rest is straightforward as long as you own or can borrow a bench saw,a drill and the right bits for cutting metal (more on that to come).

2) Purchasing the parts at hardware store

Unfortunately because the 55” Bekant tabletop does not have the same hole patterns that are used on the 63” tabletop, we need to buy some screws and a few washers. You will need 12 size 10 – half inch screws.

img_20160401_190235

Just to be clear. They are size 10 (the size of the screw head) and are half inch long. You will also need 12 half inch washers. Note I am not 100% sure of the size. They were in a bulk pile when I picked mine up. Look at the picture for an idea of the size. If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you can figure this out.

img_20160401_190303

You can also use a few tie wraps. 5 to 10 will do. You can substitute other types of restraining straps like twist ties or rubber bands instead if you prefer.

3) Making the cuts

The way the underframe is built, it relies on two long bars that hold the two motors that allow the tabletop to move up and down. By simply shortening those bars, you are effectively reducing the size of the underframe. Everything else (more or less) works per normal.

bars

To make the cuts, you don’t even need to measure anything (well note we are using 55” tabletop. Other sizes might require measurements). You just need to line up the two bars side by side and then slide one of them so that the outside hole lines up with the inside hole (see figure). You then draw a line on the piece you need to cut and you repeat the same exercise for the other end of the second bar.

the-cuts

Make sure you don’t cut the same bar twice because you would then be SOL with one long bar and one short bar. To make the cut, make sure you use a blade that’s designed to cut metal. And safety goggles! Google Glass doesn’t qualify here. Once you have done your cuts, you can use a file to remove any shards.

4) Drilling the holes

Once you have made your cut, you need to drill holes for the bolts. For each side, you will need to drill 2 holes. Those holes are meant for the bolts that hold the motor to the bars A small hole through and through both layers a tad bigger than the size of the thread part of the bolt but smaller than the head of the bold. And then a bigger one for only the top layer of the bar.

the-holes-cross-section

The position of the hole is simply done by matching the position of the other bar’s inside hole.

the-holes

5) Attaching the table to the desk underframe

Once you have your adjusted bars, you can bolt them to the motors just like the regular IKEA instructions tell you to do. You can then bolt the end pieces to the each side of the bars/motor assembly. With the tabletop upside down on the ground, put the middle piece and lower the bars/motor assembly on the underside of the tabletop. Use a small drill bit to drill 16 lead holes (4 per each end sides and 4 for the middle piece). Use a washer and screw per hole to affix the underframe to the tabletop.

img_20161121_080426

6) Putting it all together

You can now plug all the necessary wires and affix the up/down control to the table just like you would on the normal setup. Again follow the IKEA instructions. One of the drawbacks of this setup is that you can’t use the mesh netting provided with the desk to hide all the cables and the power adapter. I use a few tie wraps to affix the power adapter to middle of the middle bar. I use a few twist ties to neatly bundle the excess wires.

img_20161121_080030

7) Voila!

You are now ready to use your IKEA Frankenstein Sit and Stand desk and amaze all your friends.

Cautionary Notes

Since the motors are pretty heavy and that the screws used to affix the underframe to the tabletop are pretty short (and can’t be much longer), be gentle when carrying the table as you don’t want the underframe to come off. It hasn’t happened to us yet but best to be safe and use your fingers to hold the end parts of the underframe when carrying the table.

23 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

Dad! There’s a drone at the door!

Drone Delivery

Knock, knock! One-way drone delivery of packages under 5 pounds has the economic potential of becoming a very useful service for retailers and for the delivery/collection of medicines and medical samples. However, before our skies can be filled with drones, regulators will have to set standards for the management of these services. On this edition of Evolution’s 107.9’s Plugged-In, I spoke with Levi Sinclair about drone delivery, and what it holds in store for consumers in the near future.

21 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

Look Ma! No Hands! Autonomous vehicles are coming

Autonomous Cars

Autonomous vehicles are coming. We’ve enjoyed numerous safety features added to our vehicles over the last 25 years, including anti-lock breaks, lane departure warnings and back-up camera systems, but the next generation of cars will be able to help us to eliminate or eradicate driver errors caused by fatigue, distraction or dangerous driving.

I sat down with Levi Sinclair on this week’s edition of BCIT’s Plugged-In and had a chance to discuss the benefits of these systems and how they will work.

16 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

When will the Internet of Things really help me get ahead!?

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers us all a way to better our lives. As an example, by gathering health information through devices such as Apple Watches, we can better track and manage our well being. However, there is a dark side to the Internet of Things as evidenced by the use of insecure network connected devices to generate DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on critical service points on the Internet. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Shaleena Nand in this edition of Evolution 107.9’s Plugged In podcast.

15 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

UBC On a Quest To Provide a Better Outdoor Laboratory Experience

Questogo

UBC posted this terrific article on how they are using the 14 Oranges Questogo mobile scavenger hunt application service and applying it to soil labs for their students.

It’s Pokémon Go applied to learning in the real-world, and is creating a truly innovative education program for the forestry students at UBC.

14 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

How will Artificial Intelligence shape the next 10 years?

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised for a renaissance as cognitive computing services such as IBM’s Watson and natural language processing agents such as Apple’s Siri become more prevalent in day-to-day applications that make our lives easier. I explored this topic with Shaleena Nand on this week’s edition of Evolution 107.9’s Plugged In podcast.

07 Nov
2016

John Craig

By

Electronic voting: Strong authentication is the path to mass deployment

Electronic Voting

Are technologies such as e-Voting and touch-screen voting machines ready for prime time in Canadian elections? I spoke with Spencer Paul on the relatively successful deployment of e-Voting technology in Canada, and how the issues of vote authentication have been handled to date, and how they might be handled in the future. Join us in the consideration of if our trust based approach to date when e-Voting technology is deployed is strong enough, and if the risk of a machine being broken or hacked is worth discarding the tried and tested approach of a folded strip of paper pushed into a ballot box.