You had asked questions and here are the replies from our professional community members who gained the experiences first-hand! We love to listen more from you.

Water Heaters

Q: What is needed to maintain a Water Heater?
A: It is very simple and very satisfying (both environmentally and long term cost savings points of view) habit.  Twice a year you may drain a gallon or two of the heater water to keep the anode (the element which attracts the corroding materials from water which otherwise could corrode the tank instead) clean.  See the Diagram below. The “drain valve” is shown as a regular water pipe end at the bottom right of the picture.  You may drain out (only a gallon or two) the required amount of water by opening the valve shown.  You can connect a regular water hose to the end of this valve and the other end of the hose may be emptied to lower level sump pump water connector something like that. Remember the “Gravity Rule,” the water can only flow down (gravity assisted, right?)

AO Smith Gas Water Heater
Gas Water Heater

 

Q: What is your opinion on Tankless Hot Water Heater?
A: A 2008 Consume Report study does not favor a tank less hot water heater to a regular gas type one.  The study focused on upfront cost, comfort, and maintenance  in their comparison.  Read On

Gas stove or Electric Range?

When it comes to stove or oven, is it gas or electric? Read On 

Tips

Q: Honey in the container bottle freezes in winter, what can one do?
A: Well try this out. Heat a pan of water to 100 degree F (do not hard boil). Loosen the bottle cap and let it sit in the hot water for a while.

Cyber

Q: Anything about protecting oneself from identity theft?
A: Identity theft? We do not know,: let’s try some buzz words to keep an eye on, I guess . Lets make a list of events and see what we can do.

One way Identity thieves get you (Is that identity theft?):e-mail

Your e-mail address everywhere and easy to get hold of, right?  When you sign on to a Job site, or Safeway site, or even Health Record keeper site they ask for your “ID” you want to use ,or let you use your e-mail address as your ID.  As this kind of “Sign in” numbers grow, for convenience, you opt for e-mail. That’s BINGO for bad guys. Next, they use your e-mail address (stolen earlier) to sign on to the site and request a new password and happily keep on dancing (in the meantime you are getting love letters!) as long as you have not signed on to the site.  And thought you really forgot your password and reset it or get a new password.  Next they do it again! Got it! And you repeat the same thing you did till you get sooooo… old you  give up, otherwise you will end up with a Psychiatrist and he may not understand what’s going on. The doctor bills your Medicare/Medicaid as the case may be! If you received an unsolicited e-mail offers, you can forward the messages to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov. The usually do not take any action if no money exchange has taken place, even if it may be as small as a $.

Keeping home in order

Clutter free home? …. well some help here.

Tips to get the odor out of the shoes: If you have tea bags you are not using put as many tea bags in each of the shoes and leave there for 2-3 days. Or put a Fabric Softner sheet one in each shoe overnight or longer as the case may be. Or prepare a ball of Baking Soda in a clean cheese cloth and leave a ball in each of the shoes for day or so.

Q: How to whiten yellowed pillows?
A: Excellent inexpensive idea that really works well. One of the products, “Borax” is available in Sateway grocery stores and young workers there may not even know the name. Read on

Q: Job Security?

A: Read this.

Q: Where can we find instructions on getting a Maryland Driver License?
A: Read the Manual here.

Gardening

Q: How do you prevent weeds in environmentally safe method?
A: Spread news papers (under, if mulch is also applied) in garden…..Read on

Magestic Palm

Q: I got my fourth majestic palm from home depot yesterday. The 3 before died on me even though i thought i took good care but not sure if I over watered. Does any one have a success formula or schedule to keep them healthy and alive ?? Please help!  -Sameer

A: The majesty palm, or majestic palm known botanically as Ravenea rivularis, is a fast-growing tropical outdoor plant that reaches 10 feet at maturity. Majesty palms tolerate partial shade and will grow in the understory of taller trees where they receive dappled sunlight. Majesty palms like abundant water and require regular doses of fertilizer to maintain their deep green hue.

                  Majesty Palm

It is difficult to maintain them. From our experience with different tropical plants including palm there are couple of things we can suggest. Those include:

  • keeping the bottom of the plant (root ending part) moist and not water if soil top is not dry, and
  • frequent watering

You may try it out.

Suspicious Garage Door opening

Q: I arrived home after running an errand about 7:45 pm this evening following a gold Chevy 4-door pickup. As they passed my home the garage door went up and back down. Not thinking too much about it, I backed into my driveway as the door closed. They turned around at my neighbors driveway as I pulled in.
2-3 males with dark hair. This occurred on Joshua Tree Road. Please keep your eyes out.

A: I had to pay $125, I call it an Idiot Tax (I paid for calling my Home Warranty to fix it). The incident may have happened (rather randomly common) for another neighbor’s wireless key. Disengaging the door may cause further problems “if” the cause is what I said because the door will get engaged again
and door may break. First Solution: “Change the password(s) for the door opener!” You may visit www.odishagateway.org for such tips.

How long a non-sticky frying pan can last?

Q: How long even a Calphalon or Le Creuset frying pan can last?

A: Not long according to Tom Roston, a non-stick pan user questions his own devotion. The cheaper ones do-not last at all (may be a year or lass).

Keeping house water from freezing on very cold days

Q: I am going on a vacation in the winter.  What could be a precautionary measure to keep water supply lines in the house from freezing?

A:  American Red Cross society recommendations are provided here

Sound file extensions for WordPress sites

(Q-1) According to your instructions the page should work without any plugin. Why is it not working?

(A-1)   You are doing _almost_ everything right to play back audio without a plugin on the Selected Songs page. The problem is that the source files you have uploaded are all .wma files, which is to say they are encoded in Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio format (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Media_Audio).  This format is old and proprietary to Microsoft, so support for playing it isn’t generally built into most Web browsers. So when you hit the play button in the audio player for that file your browser doesn’t know what to do with the data it gets back, which results in the player not working.

There are ways to work around this. I would recommend the following:

a) Switch from using WordPress’ “playlist” shortcode to embed your audio to using the “audio” shortcode (see https://codex.wordpress.org/Audio_Shortcode). This gives you a bunch of audio-specific options that you don’t get with the “playlist” shortcode.

b) Switch from using WMA-format audio files to using more open formats. Because WMA is a format proprietary to Microsoft, support for it is rare outside of Microsoft products. This means that the vast majority of browsers won’t be able to play the audio back if it’s only provided in WMA format. For maximum compatibility across all browsers, I’d recommend providing two versions of each file: one in MP3 format, and another in OGG format. You can then use the “audio” shortcode to embed a player in your page that will play back whichever version is most compatible with each user’s browser.

For an example of #2, let’s say you took your existing “02-Track-2.wma” audio file, converted it to MP3 and OGG versions named “02-Track-2.mp3” and “02-Track-2.ogg” respectively, and then uploaded both those new files into your Media Library. You could then embed these files into your page using the “audio” shortcode like this:

[ audio mp3=”02-Track-2.mp3″ ogg=”02.Track-2.ogg” ]

The result will be a player that will stream the MP3 version to browsers which support that format, and the OGG version to browsers which support that one. Between them that should cover every major browser in existence, and most minor ones too.

If for some reason you can’t convert your source files from WMA to MP3/OGG, you’re going to have to use a plugin to move forward. There are plugins that can perform this conversion internally, taking a WMA file and converting it to a format the user can actually play back as needed. This conversion is a computationally intensive process, though, so it can slow your site down and increase its usage of resources on the server; for this reason, I recommend just doing the conversion once up front and using the “audio” shortcode as described above.

(Q-2) I also have read somewhere it is better to use a third party audio (like youtube for video). If that is so, what audio streaming (right?) do yo propose?

(A-2) There can be benefits to hosting your audio files with a third party service, instead of hosting them on your own server (which is what happens when you upload them to the Media Library). The main one is that audio files can be large in size, and when you host with a third party service the file is downloaded to the user via that service’s bandwidth rather than your own. If your hosting plan has tight constraints on how much bandwidth you can use, or charges you extra fees based on your bandwidth usage, hosting the files externally can save you money. Additionally, your hosting environment may not be optimized for serving large static files like audio files, so you can get performance increases by moving them to an environment that’s set up to serve such things.

The main downside to depending on an external service is that you really are dependent on them — if something goes wrong on their end, your audio can suddenly stop working, and your only recourse is to reach out to them and yell at them until they get it working again. Depending on the service and whether or not you’re paying for it, they may or may not offer things like uptime and performance guarantees; you’d need to check with any individual service you’re considering to see what they offer in that respect.

In terms of free services, I don’t have a lot of experience with that segment but I’ve heard decent things about SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com).

If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can get the same performance benefits you’d get from an audio streaming service by hosting your files with a Content Delivery Network (“CDN”). These aren’t audio-specific, but they are optimized for serving all kinds of large, static files so audio is a natural fit. There are good CDN services available for very little money these days, such as:

For basic usage, though, while these are all inexpensive I think they’re overkill as they can be complicated to set up and get comfortable working with. For this reason I generally recommend starting out hosting your audio files yourself, and then consider moving if and when you run into problems with performance or high costs from your hosting provider.

Hope this helps!

– Jason

(Q-3) What Freeware are available to convert music files (.wma for example) to .mp3 files?

(A-3) We use NCH freeware

(Q-4)What Freeware are available to convert music files (.wma for example) to .ogg files?

(A-4) Read the Wiki article here.