Monday, 31 October 2016

Whip Up A Batch Of Homemade Gift Tags With Your Home Improvement Leftovers!

When I was growing up, my mom always taught me that, at least once a season, you should gather up all of the things that you never use and donate them to charity.

As an adult, I mostly try to adhere to that same policy. The only exception? All of the stuff I have thats just one step above being junk, like the shrunken sweater that I turned into mittens!

That kind of DIY upcycling is, in my experience, a great way to make use of old stuff that just isnt worth donating. This year, I even applied the same logic to making tags for my Christmas presents!

Instead of going out to buy the whole expensive pack, I went the Martha-Stewart-meets-MacGyver route and set about trackingdown a few things perfect for turning into adorable cards!

Eventually, I hit on a pile of old paint chips left over from when I painted my kitchen. If you don’t have anyat home, these can usually be picked up for free at the hardware store!

With a little ingenuity, glue, and leftover craft paper, those paint chips quickly turned into stunning and one-of-a-kind gift tags!

Check out the video below to see how these cute and simple cards are made.

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Hard to see home improvement in NYC FCs Yankee Stadium makeover

Patrick Vieiras team have changed formation to adapt to the confines of their home stadium but results have not improved

Under normal circumstances a run of four home games within your first five matches as head coach would count as a favorable start but for Patrick Vieira its been more of a headache than an opportunity.

Not that Vieira has lacked imagination in dealing with one of his teams most difficult opponents the tight Yankee Stadium pitch. His 3-4-3, or 3-2-2-3 home formation has gamely tried to make virtue of necessity in imagining his side as a narrow, technically-proficient passing team gutting teams up the middle of the park.

So far, the experiment has had only limited success the promising, if puzzling home opener against Toronto, that had most of us in the press box scribbling new team sheet diagrams, saw NYC FC score twice, only to concede on the stroke of half time, and again in the second half, as Toronto tucked their own wide men inside.

A few days later Orlando scored early, then boxed out New York en route to a road win. And on Saturday, facing New England, New York again took the lead, again got pegged back, and even with a man advantage in the second half, could not find a way to take more than a point from the game.

So after three of their four-game home stand, New York are still winless at Yankee Stadium, and making little headway on improving on the record that dogged them last year when they were one of only two teams to go below .500 in their own stadium. Their only win of the campaign so far, was the wild opening day shootout in Chicago, when the Fires nine debutants lost a battle of the least worst defenses.

The Fire have stabilized a little since then and will be New Yorks next opponents at Yankee Stadium in a couple of weeks, as Vieira searches for a first win in front of the home fans.

Its not time to panic yet though theres a general awkwardness about New Yorks approach that suggests players being asked to staff a restrictive formation, rather than making the most of the virtues of available personnel. Vieira seemed to confirm as much when he intimated that the delay in giving last years breakout player Poku a start was due in part to him struggling to adapt to the teams tactics. Poku got that start this weekend, in the absence of Mix Diskerud, but faded badly.

There are bright spots Tommy McNamaras goal added to his lively start to the season, and David Villa remains faultless in his workrate and inventiveness as captain. But the decorative touches dont conceal deeper structural truths that still hold true: NYC FC cant keep clean sheets, and dont win enough at home. GP

Vancouver have finally fixed a glaring weakness

There was a point last season at which the Vancouver Whitecaps became the most beatable team in the league. There was a playbook on how to get the better of Carl Robinsons men sit deep, plug the gaps to deny them space and jump on Pedro Morales at every possible opportunity. Robinson has done his best to rip up that playbook in the time since, with much of that focus falling on Morales.

Whilst the Chilean playmaker is so often the dynamo through which everything flows for Vancouver, he is also their Death Star weak spot from a defensive perspective. That no longer looks to be the case, though. Morales has become a much more rounded player over the off-season and that improvement came to the fore in Saturdays 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Morales seems to have added a work rate to his game that had been previously missing, tracking back, hassling and harrying as much as anyone else on the pitch. It was a stark contrast to the player who was frequently pilloried for too quickly passing on the defensive buck. Robinson might have finally found a way to nullify his teams greatest weakness whilst also preserving their greatest strength.

Stylistically, the Whitecaps are still the same team they were last season, with Robinson keen to maintain his side as MLSs most impulsive outfit. Everything they do is designed to make the most of their natural assets in the final third and much of that comes through Morales. That has not changed from 2015 to 2016.

Saturdays result made it back-to-back wins for the Whitecaps, but there is still a sense that components are yet to settle. Kekuta Manneh has endured a difficult start to the season, for instance, with the Gambian still lacking game intelligence. The addition of Fraser Aird the on loan Rangers wing-back has proved a highlight of the campaign so far.

Benito Floro probably watched Saturdays game at BC Place and thus must have been impressed with what he saw of Aird, with the 21-year-olds crossing particularly potent. With Canada using square peg in a round hole, Doneil Henry, playing at right-back against Mexico Floro will surely consider using Aird there in future. But it is Morales who has brought about the most profound change at Vancouver. GR

Fifa date has minimal impact this time

Its one of the perennial conversations in and around MLS how to construct a meaningful schedule in and around the demands of the Fifa calendar particularly in a land mass of such extremes in distance and weather, not to mention one that is being targeted aggressively by most major European teams when they arrange their summer promotional tours.

Add in the fact that MLS often persists with its schedule in international weeks, and the further fact that the leagues celebrated diversity of playing staff raises the potential for senior roster members to be scattered to the four winds to play for national teams, and you can see the potential for the Fifa schedule to have a disproportionate effect on domestic outcomes.

Not so much this weekend only three MLS games were played, and none looked unduly skewed by key absences. Houston might have had the best case for a grievance, in being without the attacking trio of Giles Barnes, Erick Torres and Boniek Garcia for their visit to Vancouver, though the Whitecaps were even more compromised by six absences including Tim Parker taking leave of the center of defense to try and help the US Under-23s qualify for the Olympics.

DC United missed Steve Birnbaum in the heart of defense, but by the looks of it they were missing a lot more than his aerial ability as they were swept aside by a Dallas team themselves dealing with the absences of a host of Concacaf players playing key roles elsewhere: Moises Hernandez in particular was a visible, snarling presence for Guatemala as they earned a first ever World Cup qualifying win over USA, while Kelyn Acosta will be hoping for some reinforcements after a rough outing at right back for the US U-23s.

In fact if there is to be a fallout from this international break, it may come in the form of a hangover. Thus far the likes of Acosta and Diskerud will not have found the international break to be much of a break at all. Itll be interesting to see how the midweek games impact on the returning players in a virtually full schedule next weekend. GP

How long will Ben Olsens evolution take to evolve?

Take Ben Olsens DC United tenure on the whole and his record makes for favourable reading. In his five full seasons in charge he has made the playoffs three times, also winning the US Open Cup in 2013. Factor in that such success has been delivered at a time when financial strictures have curbed the franchises transfer market clout, and Olsens leadership shines even brighter. Soccer is seen through a narrower viewfinder than that, though.

For all DC Uniteds relative success under Olsen there are frustrations concerning the former USA midfielders stewardship, and they are coming to a head early on this season. They have yet to claim a win this season, drawing three and losing three. Until Saturday RFK Stadium had been something of a refuge, but the fortress crumbled (much like the RFK) with the 3-0 defeat to FC Dallas.

Of course, such a difficult start to the campaign might have been expected. Olsen lost Perry Kitchen and Davy Arnaud over the winter, leaving DC United short of drive and nous in the centre of the pitch. There has also been a perceived ideological shift, even if Olsen himself denies much has changed in that sense. What he does admit, however, is that his team is currently in evolution.

Thats the one constant in this: Every season is completely different, and all the problem solving is based on similar things, but each circumstance is different, he said in a recent FourFourTwo interview. Its always changing, and the games changing and evolving. But how long will he be given to evolve his DC United side? Patience is already wearing thin among some sections of the clubs support.

Olsen has been long been knocked for his tactical unintelligence, and this season has provided the ideal case study in such criticism. His continued experimentation with Nick DeLeon as a central midfielder while on loan Boca Juniors youngster Luciano Acosta sits on the bench idle is just one example of baffling tactical tweaking. Fresh ideas are needed at RFK, but too often Olsens are the wrong ones. Evolution may be necessary but DC United make sure their 2016 doesnt become another 2013 in the process. GR

Road form will decide the success and failure of FC Dallas regular season

Heading into Saturdays game, both DC United and FC Dallas found themselves in a similar scenario. Both teams have been most comfortable at home this season, with Oscar Parejas side still smarting from the 5-0 El Capitan hammering at the Houston Dynamo two weeks ago. The new campaign might be only a few weeks old, but this weekends trip to the capital was an early season test for FC Dallas and they passed.

The Texans pulled off a comprehensive 3-0 win, piling misery on the hosts. FC Dallas learned lessons from their Houston humbling and made good on them at RFK, playing aggressively from the start and not allowing their opposition to settle on the ball. On the basis of this performance, its not hard to envisage Pareja forcing his players to analyse endless reruns of the collapse at BBVA Compass Stadium in preparation for their next road trip.

Momentum can be difficult to build when wins on the road come so rarely, and thus Saturdays victory is of significance to FC Dallas, who are looking to rediscover their groove after The Houston Incident. It wont be the first time that some sort of profound meaning is taken from an away game for the Texans. Road form is conventionally the litmus test for most teams, but even more so when it comes to FC Dallas.

Take their last two trips to the capital, when Parejas side lost successive games 4-1. Or the 4-0 beating at Sporting KC last season. Or the 3-0 battering meted out by the Seattle Sounders. Playing away is tough for everyone, but FC Dallas find that to be the case perhaps more than most.

Of course, in the play-offs last year the script was flipped as FC Dallas suffered home defeats in both Western Conference semi-finals and finals, redeeming themselves on the road instead. That coupled with Saturdays win at DC United suggests that Parejas side are gradually becoming more certain of themselves away from Toyota Park. How many road wins they collect could define their regular season. GR

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TV home improvement expert Bob Vila sues Illinois man over false representation

Television home renovation expert Bob Vila is suing an Illinois public relations specialist whom he claims falsely purported to represent him to sell celebrity endorsement rights to promoters of Midwest home improvement shows.

A federal lawsuit filed this week says Robert Smith of Loves Park unlawfully sold or licensed Vila’s likeness for thousands of dollars and led promoters to believe Vila would appear at their shows.

The Rockford Register Star reports that Vila is seeking $2 million in damages for each unauthorized use of his image and likeness.

The 69-year-old Vila of Palm Beach, Florida, is best known as the host of “This Old House,” ”Bob Vila’s Home Again” and “Restore America with Bob Vila.”

Telephone numbers for Smith were disconnected and he couldn’t be reached for comment.

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Hacker Unlocks High Security Electronic Safes Without a Trace

“High security” consumer electronic safes could certainly be pried open with power tools, but they’re marketed as reasonably robust for daily-life scenarios. On Friday, though, a hacker known as Plore presented strategies for identifying a safe custom-selected keycode and then using it to unlock the safe normally, without any damage or indication that the code has been compromised.

At Defcon, researchers regularly give talks about picking and hacking locks, and there’s even a whole “lock picking village” where people can learn basic skills or share sophisticated techniques. But there are always new locks to investigate and what makes Plore’s techniques interesting is what they lack: any physical or even algorithmic sabotage.

Plore used side-channel attacks to pull it off. These are ways of exploiting physical indicators from a cryptographic system to get around its protections. Here, all Plore had to do was monitor power consumption in the case of one safe, and the amount of time operations took in other, and voila, he was able to figure out the keycodes for locks that are designated by independent third-party testing company Underwriters Laboratory as Type 1 High Security. These aren’t the most robust locks on the market by any means, but they are known to be pretty secure. Safes with these locks are the kind of thing you might have in your house.

In practice, Plore was able to defeat the security of two different safe locks made by Sargent and Greenleaf, each of which uses a six-digit code. “I chose Sargent and Greenleaf locks due to their popularity. They are the lock manufacturer of choice on Liberty brand gun safes, among others, and safes featuring those locks are widely available at major stores,” Plore told WIRED. Plore said he didn’t have time before Defcon to try his attacks on other lock brands, but he added, “I would not be particularly surprised if techniques similar to those I described would apply to other electronic safe locks, other electronic locks in general (e.g., door locks), or other devices that protect secrets (e.g., phones).”

For the Sargent and Greenleaf 6120, a lock developed in the 1990s and still sold today, Plore noticed that when he entered any incorrect keycode he could deduce the correct code by simply monitoring the current being consumed by the lock.

“What you do here is place the resistor in series with the battery and the lock, and by monitoring voltage across that resistor we can learn how much current the lock is drawing at any particular time. And from that we learn something about the state of the lock,” Plore explained. As the lock’s memory checked the input against its stored number sequence, the current on the data line would fluctuate depending on whether the bits storing each number in the code were a 0 or a 1. This essentially spelled out the correct key code until Plore had all of its digits in sequence and could just enter them to unlock the safe. Bafflingly easy.

For the second demonstration, he experimented with a newer lock, the Sargent and Greenleaf Titan PivotBolt. This model has a more secure electronics configuration so Plore couldn’t simply monitor power consumption to discover the correct keycode. He was able to use another side-channel approach, though, a timing attack, to open the lock. Plore observed that as the system checked a user code input against its stored values there was a 28 microsecond delay in current consumption rise when a digit was correct. The more correct digits, the more delayed the rise was. This meant that Plore could efficiently figure out the safe’s keycode by monitoring current over time while trying one through 10 for each digit in the keycode, starting the inputs over with more and more correct digits as he pinpointed them. Plore did have to find a way around the safe’s “penalty lockout feature” that shuts everything down for 10 minutes after five incorrect input attempts, but ultimately he was able to get the whole attack down to 15 minutes, versus the 3.8 years it would take to try every combination and brute force the lock.

“Burglars aren’t going to bother with this. They’re going to use a crowbar or a hydraulic jack from your garage or if they’re really fancy they’ll use a torch,” Plore said. “I think the more interesting thing here is [these attacks] have applicability to other systems. We see other systems that have these sorts of lockout mechanisms.” Plore said that he has been trying to contact Sargent and Greenleaf about the vulnerabilities since February. WIRED reached out to the company for comment but hadn’t heard back by publication time.

Even though no one would expect this type of affordable, consumer-grade lock to be totally infallible, Plore’s researchis important because ithighlights how effective side-channel attacks can be. They allow a bad actor to get in without leaving a trace. And this adds an extra layer of gravity, because not only do these attackscompromise the contents of the safe, they could also go undetected for long periods of time.

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Orca-friendly products could be coming to your home improvement store