Category Archives: Projects

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Project: Warm up a room with an Insulating Wall Hanging

When we moved into our new house, it quickly became apparent that we would need to do something to warm up the master bedroom. It was the coldest room in the house, and November weather in Cleveland is a pretty good motivator.

So I started trying to think of ways to warm up the room. Traditional methods of insulation were out of the question in the short term – the large open attic above was too big of a project to do at the time and we couldn’t use something like blown-in cellulose insulation because our stately Tudor duplex had knob-and-tube wiring. I came up with this fast, cheap, easy-to-build project instead. You can use it to decorate your room and even save you a few bucks on your heating bill.

Here’s a sneak peak at the end result:

Heat-reflecting and stylish

It’s basically a frame with some stylish fabric stretched over like the canvas in an oil painting. It’s backed with mylar which means it acts as a radiant heat barrier, keeping you toasty.

Here’s what you need:

  • Some 1×2’s – buy whatever is cheapest (and not warped) at your home improvement store.
  • Wood screws – maybe 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch.
  • Cloth – something that would look nice on the wall. Pick out whatever you like, it should be a little stretchy.
  • Aluminized mylar – better known as space blankets. Order it online or buy it at the store – it should be a dollar or two for a large sheet.
  • Duct tape (of course)
  • Some tools: A staple gun (and staples), tape measure, drill, screwdriver, saw.

So first, a tiny little bit of theory. Heat moves in three ways – convection, conduction, and radiation. Your house is losing heat in the winter because of these three along with air infiltration – drafts of cold air from windows and doors. Most insulation does it’s job by preventing conduction (by putting air pockets between materials) or by stopping convection in air pockets. Infiltration can be combated with storm windows, weather stripping, and vapor barriers.

Insulation is measured by R-value. This project will only help a little bit when it comes to convection or conduction – the main point here is to reflect radiant heat back into the room. So don’t ask about the R-value – like other radiant barriers, that’s not really the point.

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New WordPress plugin available – put tag clouds everywhere with Altocumulus

If you’ve gone to any of my Category pages on this blog (my Academic papers, for example), you might have noticed I have a tag cloud with just the tags related to that category.  After I figured out how to do it I packaged it into a WordPress Plugin, called Altocumulus.

This goes along with my research interests into folksonomies and information retrieval.  I haven’t had the chance to study tag clouds empirically but my guess is that one giant tag cloud for an entire web site or blog might be more cool looking that useful for navigation.  I think that making use of tag relationships a bit more might show the strength of folksonomies for navigation.  So now, if you click to see my design pages, you can see the kinds of topics my designs cover.

For another example of this in action, take a look at Unsought Input, for example the Innovation page.

Go ahead and download version 0.1 now.   It requires WordPress 2.3 or higher.  This is my first WordPress plugin so I’m sure I’ll figure out ways to make it better over time.  If you have any bugs, pointers, or suggestions please leave them in the comments below.