Where to find the best Do-It-Yourself tips

A review of “Black and Decker – The complete Photo guide to home repair”.

Maintaining and repairing a home can be quite expensive if you choose to use professionals for every repair, installment and maintenance task you would like to perform. Do-it-yourself sounds like a good idea, but many people do not have a clue of where to start to be able to the work necessary to perform many tasks to maintain their home or to perform home improvement. But do not give up. There exists solutions out there. A search on the web can give you a lot of advice, but how do you know if the solutions suggested are the best ones and that the result will meet requirements and standards?

This web site has been started by the same source that started the Face Book group “Home Improvement and Renovation” and we would like to recommend the best information on Do-it-yourself Home improvement we have found so far. It is provided by Black and Decker who also provide quality tools for amateurs and professionals who would like to fix as much themselves as they can in their home. There will still be some things you will need professionals for, but many things you will be able to perform yourself with the help of “Black and Decker – The complete Photo guide to home repair”. This guide is not only giving you instructions on how to do home repairs, but it is also created by a renounced supplier of home repair tools who know the performance and the limits of the tools used in the manual. Follow the below link to purchase this guide from Amazon:

Repairs

“Black and Decker – The complete Photo guide to home repair” will give you detailed advice regarding repairs of floors, carpets, doors, windows and ceilings. Many times we can get damages to our home for many reasons. Luckily, we do not need to redo all home improvement work every time we drop a screwdriver on the floor or when the kids accidentally scratch the floor with a toy. Instead you can use this guide to step you through ways to repair the damage to make it appear as good as new.

Installations

You can also find detailed instructions on how to install new windows and to install garage doors with garage door openers and for many other tasks. In our experience we can no longer remember how we managed to maintain our home without the help of this guide. Do not hesitate. This will help you through much of your home improvement tasks.

Remember. The key to Do-it-yourself Home repairs and home improvement is using the correct tools. That also refers to the right instructions on how to do the work.

Renovate a home with water damage


When buying an old home with a need for renovations, you sometimes have to deal with water damages. There are many reasons why old homes are sold, and in some cases all information about the building is not available. Because of this it is offered as-is, which require for you to inspect the building properly to know what you are buying and what you need to expect when it is time for renovations. Water damages often scares away buyers, but it is often manageable, and you may be able to fix minor damages without it costing too much. If you experience water damages in your current home, then you may be eligible for an insurance claim to cover the costs of fixing water damages, but when you buy a home as-is, you need to check the house thoroughly before buying, and if you cannot evaluate the house yourself, you need to contact someone who can help you with the evaluation. When you are about to renovate water damages, it is important to attack the situation in the correct manner to make sure you do not experience problems at a later time.

We bought an old house by the sea that was built in the late 1800s and we were informed of some water damage. We chose to risk it to get our dream house, but we didn’t know for sure exactly how serious the damages were. An advantage when you are renovating a house built by earlier building standards is that there is often much air flow throughout the building, and you may be lucky that the moist has not been trapped inside the walls, ceilings or floors, and that there isn’t too much damage. We had water damage that stretched from the living room floor up to the second floor, and we couldn’t know exactly what the damages were until starting to opening up the wall. How comprehensive the damage was would reveal itself only when removing the wall panels. The house was sold due to the passing of the previous owners, and their children, who handled the sale, could not specify what we would discover.

Preparations before starting the renovation

To make sure you get rid of all water damage, you need to remove or mend the wood or other building materials that have been damaged. You may need to remove everything down to the framework. After this you will need to dry all the moist before rebuilding the room over a longer period of time. But this may not be enough. If you have water damage, there is probably a reason for it even if you sometimes will experience that you may not find water leaking when you open the wall. In the house we bought, we for example discovered a water leak that were only present in certain types of weather. When wind came in from the North-East and it was raining heavily, water seeped in through our east facing walls. Most times when it is windy in our area, the wind comes in from the west, and therefore we do not see this water leakage very often. But if we would have fixed the damage on the inside, we would have got the same damage again within a year. Therefore, we needed to first fix the outer wall to make sure water would not get through it. Even if it occurs quite rarely, it is possible to simulate this type of weather if you know what causes the leakage with simple means like a garden hose.

You will not always see obvious signs of water damages on the inner most building materials. So, any signs you see of unexplained moist should be taken seriously to locate problems. If you have a leakage somewhere in the house, make sure you follow the water path to fix all parts of the walls, ceilings or floors that may have been damaged by the water. When you have removed all damaged building materials, dried up any remaining moist with a heater and have fixed leaks on the outer walls, then you can start rebuilding the room. You can use a simple humidity measuring device to determine when the surface have dried properly. If the moisture in the framework or on the concrete wall is down to 10-12%, then you may start rebuilding.

Find the reason for the water damage

If you have not determined what caused the water damage, then you are not ready to start rebuilding. There may be many reasons why you have water seeping into your house. It may be because of roof damage, it may be that your outer walls aren’t water tight, or you may have water seeping slowly through your foundation. What type of water leakage you have will determine what type of work you need to do on the outside.

Amazon offer a variety of Do-It-Yourself books. Check out this DIY manual by following this link Ultimate guide to Home Repair and Improvement.

Oracle license on VMWare – How implement to meet license requirements

I have been working as an Oracle dba for years with Enterprise customers who insisted on running VMWare for Oracle to have the same platform for all their IT systems, and security issues and regulations prevents them from moving their data into the cloud. A few years back we ran into the problem that Oracle changed the licensing rules for new versions of VMWare because of new functionality implemented in VMWare. This created problems for our dba team as the Operations department wanted to move to newer versions of VMWare, vCenter and ESXi hosts to take advantage of all the new functionality in VMWare for all systems not running Oracle, which is the main focus of their business. We presented the issue of the new Oracle licensing rules and what it would take to remain compliant, but as the number of systems benefiting from the new versions of VMWare and vCenter were far greater than those getting issues because they were running Oracle, we had to argue and fight the decisions being made all the way. Eventually this ended up with a decision to move away from Oracle to open source databases and to MS Sql Server for several systems. To make the necessary split for the Oracle clusters were just not beneficial for some customers, and they were not ready to move into the cloud just yet. All our attempts to find a way for Oracle to maintain their position as the preferred database provider were futile since it meant abandoning their IT optimization decisions.

The background for this issue is that when you moved from version 5.0 to version 5.x of vCenter administration software for VMWare you needed to license all your VMWare servers in the same vCenter with Oracle licenses. And when moving to vCenter 6.0 you had to license all VMWare servers inn all vCenter clusters as long as they were connected to each other in some way. As our customers were using Oracle Enterprise Edition instances, this would put them in an entirely hopeless situation when considering prices.

Versions of vCenter and ESXi hosts and Oracle licensing

Back in the day when VMWare were implemented on version 5.0, you were fine and you could just separate the Oracle cluster from the others in the same vCenter and then licensing the cores of the ESXi hosts located in the clusters specified for Oracle. It is actually presented in a diffuse manner for which version the license requirements actually changed. The Oracle white papers on this say that you on version 5.0 only license the cluster separated in vCenter, but at the same time they say that the license on version 5.x, which can be interpreted as also including 5.0, require you to create a separate vCenter for Oracle. But from 6.0 and above, they clearly state that all vCenters were there is the slightest possibility to migrate an Oracle server to, will need to be licensed. Which means that clusters sharing storage will also have to be licensed as Oracle servers.

How to get around the VMWare vCenter version issue

What do you do? What should existing customers do to continue to use a product they already bought from Oracle on a platform that has developed to a more flexible platform? The argument is that you cannot split servers resources in a proper manner, but it was good enough on earlier versions. Many customers struggle with this concept, and there are also many that are not aware that they are actually breaking these licensing rules, which will be discovered with an Oracle audit.

There are ways to get around it. You can try and split the solutions using firewalls and other implementations on software or hardware level to split the clusters to be able to still use the functionality across platforms. But for this to be an acceptable solution, Oracle need to approve your solution.

The other solution, which is not practical for a business who would like to optimize their solution’s resources for storage and all other hardware, is to implement a cluster with its own hardware, from storage to ESXi hosts, which has its own vCenter for administration. A better solution may be to move to ExaData or to move to the Oracle cloud, but this is not a possibility for all customers. Oracle is not a standalone solution that can dictate the choice of IT implementations for enterprise businesses. There are a large amount of other applications and systems that needs to be considered, and Oracle is just a small part of their total consideration.

Article sponsored by Economizeit.net. We use Amazon kindle for our Oracle documentation.

Renovate a moist basement

Renovating a basement in an old house may require some additional attention as building techniques have changed over the years. Today houses are built to keep all kinds of moist out so the house will not be subject to dry rot and wood decay. Older houses were built a different way. Instead of preventing moist to reach the most fragile building materials, the custom was to keep air flowing through the buildings to dry up moist before it can cause wood decay on the building materials. Many people choose modern building techniques when they renovate a basement, even if they do so in an old house, but that can cause problems as you may end up trapping moist. That can again be breeding ground to fungi and create an environment for accelerated wood decay. Even though you would prefer a modern house with moist and heat insulation, that may for an old house mean that you need to rebuild from the ground up.

When you would like to renovate a basement in an old house from a moist basement to a living area, then you should maintain the old building techniques which will ensure that you maintain air flow throughout the building, and also in the newly renovated basement.

Preparations

The first step when you wish to renovate a basement in an old house is to do the proper preparations. First you will need to prevent as much moist to get into the basement as possible. This process will start on the outside of the house. Drainage is important to lead water and moist away from the concrete foundation. If your foundation does not have any kind of drainage, then you will need to dig down to the edge of the foundation to drain water away from the wall, and also prepare the foundation to repel water instead of consuming it. If the water seeps through your outer wall, it is very likely that you will also get moist on your inner wall, which may complicate any attempt to build any wooden constructions in your basement. When this is done, you need to let any moist on the concrete on the inner wall dry up before you start building any framework for your renovation.

How to renovate a basement

When you start building your framework to construct rooms in your basement, you need to avoid trapping moist. Trapped moist will cause fungi to grow, which not only causes decay, but it may also create an unhealthy atmosphere in the basement for anyone who will be utilizing the rooms you build. Instead you should make sure to maintain natural air flow throughout the construction so any moist that still appear will dry up. You cannot expect to make a basement in an old house entirely moist free unless you rebuild the foundation according to modern building techniques. Instead you make sure to prevent wood from being in direct contact with the moist. You can do this by using a waterproof foundation insulation material between the concrete and the framework. To also ensure air flow, you may put a thin wedge between the framework and the concrete floor and build the wall framework about an inch away from the concrete wall. Also make sure to keep the insulation the same distance away from the concrete. That way you insure air flow behind the wall and behind the insulation. Do not put any vapor barrier against the concrete wall, but you can use that on the inside of the inner framework. To keep the air flow, do not let the vapor barrier go all the way down to the floor, but leave the lower part of the framework without vapor barrier. This way the air can flow freely. You also do not need insulation all the way down to the floor on walls that are underground. The ground will be an insulation. If you put insulation only to about 8 inches below ground level, you will avoid moist reaching your insulation which may cause decay and fungi.

With these kinds of precautions when renovating your basement, your chances of success increases immensely. You can find many good manuals and DIY books at Amazon. For example you can find a good DIY manual following this link Ultimate guide to Home Repair and Improvement.

The customer friendly alternative in the cloud

After years of working with different vendors who offer cloud services or web services, I realize that the different vendors have quickly reached a service level which mostly differs on price and customer service. Even the prices are closing in on each other when some vendors offer price match if a competitor offers better prices. When we started to test services in the cloud many years ago, there were some challenges that needed to be addressed to get up and running. To not struggle too much, we found that utilizing customer service could quickly enlighten some of the issues or concepts we were struggling with. Some of the cloud vendors were focusing on the fact that you should be able to perform your own services using either a website or using an app on a phone or on another mobile device. Two of the largest vendors in the marked, AWS and Azure, focused more on self-service than on extensive customer support, and therefore small businesses that would like to try cloud services without investing in expensive consultancy services, could struggle some with these solutions. They offer customer support, but their support could not compare to that of the first vendor we came across. The customer service of Rackspace (follow this link to try their services. The security certificate loads first time you visit their site) was unique, and it has continued to be just that until this day. They are very eager to help you if you have problems using their solution. They also offer just as extensive services as the other cloud vendors, and they also offer hybrid solutions that integrate with hosting solutions in their data centers.

Several cloud vendors with good solutions

Some cloud vendors stick out from the others, and Rackspace does because of their unique customer support and their ability to offer hybrid solutions. They have data centers all over the world, like the other vendors, and can offer solutions to handle all your IT challenges. One important factor in our eyes is a good mobile solution so you can manage your solution remotely in a simple manner. The two cloud providers with apps that can handle both create, monitor, start, stop and delete are Rackspace and AWS. As far as we can see the app offered by Azure only monitors, starts and stops services, but does not offer create or delete.

Customer service is important when you move IT to the cloud

On the contrary to what Larry Ellison of Oracle claimed on Oracle Open World when they started offering cloud services, moving to the cloud does not happen just by pressing a button. You will have issues you need to figure out on the way, and because of this, it is very important with a unique and extensive customer support.

How to renovate your house

Many people enjoy their home as it is and have no plans of doing renovation but prefer a home where they can move in directly as it is. In regards to home renovations the motivation for different people will vary from country to country, and will also depend of your position in society. When you live in areas where you spend much of your time indoors for large parts of the year, you may be one of those people who love to decorate, and it is actually a popular activity.

Find a house for a lower price

Many people choose a house for a lower price to be able to live where they have dreamed of living. That may mean that the house needs extensive repairs. Some people would like to buy a new home and move in directly without doing renovation but are looking forward to living in a new and modern home as it is. In regards to home renovations the motivation between people will vary between countries and age groups, and also between different groups of society. In places where you either have winter weather or other types of tough climates which keeps you inside most of the year, it is not rare to find people who love decoration activity.

Modernize your house

To get the house by the sea that you have chosen to buy up to standard, it may take some work to get it modernized. Bathrooms, kitchen and electricity is often where you will need to focus your work for a good result. Many people enjoy their home as it is and have no plans of doing renovation, but are looking forward to living in a new and modern home as it is. In regards to home renovations the motivation between people will vary for different people, and will also depend of what you were used to growing up. In places where weather is more harsh than other places in large parts of the year, it is not rare to find people who love to work on their home interior.

Renovation of old houses

People buy old houses for different reasons. Some to tear down the old house and build a new one, and others to restore an old house. Some buy a new apartment and they prefer to move in directly without renovation but are looking forward to living in a new and modern home as it is. In regards to home renovations the motivation between people will vary not only between different countries and parts of the countries, but it will also depend on your position in society. In places where weather is more harsh than other places in large parts of the year, you may be one of those people who love to decorate, and it will also actually be popular activity.

Some buy a new apartment and they prefer to move in and perform renovation while living in the house. Not everyone is as much into renovation as some, instead the interest in renovations will as mentioned vary between different countries and parts of the countries, so depending on where you live you will most probably have a different attitude towards renovation. In places where you either have winter weather or other tough climate which keeps you inside most of the year, renovating may be a solution for perfection.

Modernization

Most people who buy and old house today would like to introduce modern features for convenience. For example modern bathrooms or a modern kitchen. Regarding home renovations the motivation between people will vary. When living in cold or harsh environments where you live inside for most of the year, it is not rare to find people who love decoration activity.

Restore or rebuild

The question that arises when you buy an old house, is if you want it to be a new house with all new features, or if you want to restore it to its former glory. Restoring can become way more expensive. Which choice you make will depend on how you feel about keeping a window into the past alive.

Why would you like to renovate your house

Not everyone is as interested in renovation and decorating but are contempt with their house or their apartment as it is. The interest in renovation varies between different countries and in different parts of the society. In a country like Norway, where winters can be quite cold and therefore keep people in their homes for a large part of the year, renovating is quite a popular activity. Most Norwegians love to have their home modern and up-to-date. The choice of renovating can be made because of the rooms being out of style or because the functionality is outdated, but it can also be to renew materials that have a maximum recommended life expectancy.

In many other countries renovation is done when damages or problems appear, or if you would like to find a home that suits your dreams for a lower market price. In some countries much time is spent outdoors, and therefore it is not so important how the apartment looks. In many countries in Southern Europe, in South America, in Africa and in certain parts of Asia, there is a warm climate all year around and many people spend most of their days outside.

Save money by buying an old house

A common reason to renovate your home is if you wish to buy a house or an apartment you cannot really afford. To save money, one could then renovate the house or the apartment one self. By updating floors, repaneling walls and painting rooms, any home can quickly look a lot better than before. Bathrooms and kitchens require a bit more attention, and requirements for those rooms are different in different countries.

Modernizing kitchen and bathroom

Many don’t mind an old kitchen or an old bathroom as long as it works, but many would also love to have modern facilities with new features as kitchen islands, built-in stoves and refrigerators, hot-tubs, saunas and steam showers. But to renovate kitchens and bathrooms, you have to expect a high cost. Some countries have many regulations you need to follow when building a bathroom or a kitchen if you want it to be covered by your home insurance.

Renovation of the home by the sea

After we took over this home by the sea, time became scarce as we invested all we had in this home and we are therefore doing much work by ourselves and I continue to spend my workdays staring at an office wall in the big city. But things are looking up, and some rooms have been fixed so it is easier to stick with this project as long as it takes. For periods of times I need to work a lot to save up for the next renovation project or the next home improvement project.

Even though it has been a while since I wrote about this project now, the intention was to follow the home improvement and renovation project in a series of articles. But time has delayed the writing. The time issue is now a bit brighter, and we feel we have our head above water both with getting the time to do this and to earn the money it will cost. This home is only a common house that one would be able to find on the southern coast of Norway or Sweden, but it still has its challenges to go through this process. I will be writing here both about following the project step by step, or in the order of frustrations and about other thoughts and wonderings. This series of articles will also describe other challenges with the life in the house by the sea and the commute that gets us much of the income to get through all of this demanding projects.

Many rooms need renovation

As you can see in the images, there are some rooms that does not exactly seem appealing at the start of the project. This room has been waiting for a drainage project on the outside as the house is close to a small mountain and when the spring melts the snow, the water was collecting at half of the walls on the house, which made the basement walls moist. The drainage project was finally finish by hiring in a couple of guys to dig up the rocks down to the base of the house. After the drainage came into place, this room is the current project that is being upgraded. This is a hallway to a basement apartment with a storage room at the end, and it also contains a bathroom.

Today we have torn down all the walls in this hallway and torn down the entire bathroom. There were a lot of moist that needed to be dried up since the drainage was non-existing. The house has been built in stages from being a timber cottage built in the late 1800s. Additions were made until the 1950s and then the house had a living room double the size of the cottage, a kitchen, a hallway, and a second floor had been added. In the 1950s the house was raised to add a basement with a ceiling height to be able to utilize the basement rooms. In the 1980s an addition was made to the first floor to add a room, which we call the library, and a second bathroom.

Until today we have laid a new floor in the basement hallway in the picture, added wall paneling and put in 3 new doors. Still there is some wall molding left to finish the hallway and start the job with the storage rooms.

Long waits

Weekly commute to the big city to stare at the office walls makes the renovation work drag on. For example we have the kitchen which is outdated and causes much frustration to my girlfriend who would like a modern kitchen with all that follows. The wait for this is long as other projects get priority. As you can see this is not the most modern kitchen in the world, but we threw ourselves into this with a common understanding that things will take time. We have put priority on the children’s rooms and the living room. My girlfriend cannot wait as the kitchen will be started in a little more than a year. The anticipation is great, but the patience will still need to prevail. I am a computer guy and have had to learn carpentry to take on this renovation project.

The view makes it worth it

But the view from the area around the house and being able to get to the beach by walking for 2 minutes in the summer makes it worthwhile.

Follow our articles to come that will follow the renovation project, the commute frustrations and joys, and also other frustrations and joys related to the house and life by the sea!

Oracle licenses on VMWare skyrocketing

Even when you have been a dba and a computer consultant for 17 years, Oracle can still surprise you. Why are this software and database giant choosing such a hostile strategy towards certain technologies? A few years ago Oracle went head on in a disagreement with HP and the Alpha processor just after they acquired Compaq and with it the Tru64 Unix where they changed the licensing on the Alpha processor so you paid a higher price for each core in this processor than you did for other processors. This made it hard for HP to front their Alpha processor for Oracle products as they actually struggled internally to explain to customers what the price difference actually was and why it was different.

The latest battle is against VMWare which is the product of choice for many customers when they want to use virtual platforms. For each new version of the vCenter software and vSphere ESXi software that VMWare offers, Oracle chooses to make licensing for their software on this platform even tougher. The problem is that many customers aren’t aware of the licensing, and they end up in a legal dispute with Oracle because they don’t understand the license agreement that Oracle introduced regarding newer versions of VMWare.

It is understandable that Oracle wishes to move all their customers into the cloud, but they choose to do this by forcing them with impossible licensing agreements. What is the actual cause of this battle against VMWare? Because it is too expensive for customers to migrate to platforms where Oracle offers a normal licensing agreement, they choose to move to other suppliers instead of trying to find a solution to replace their VMWare. Microsoft SQL Server receives a great deal of the customers that do not wish to migrate away from VMWare.

Embarrassing strategy

What is the actual problem for customers of VMWare who wish to continue to run Oracle on this virtual solution? Before version 5.1 of vSphere ESXi, customers had adjusted to the fact that Oracle required them to separate the ESXi hosts they wished to use for Oracle, and then they could license the cores on those hosts for Oracle. It was an expensive solution, but it worked. Customers found peace in this solution, but it was not good enough for Oracle. Oracle wanted customers to replace VMWare with their own virtualization solution.

Impossible for customers

The problem for the customers started with the introduction of vSphere 5.1. From this version until 6.0, there was a possibility to move virtual machines within the same vCenter. Because of this, Oracle now wanted you to license all the cores available in the entire vCenter, even if you separated Oracle on its own ESXi hosts. Most businesses wished to use one vCenter installation to administer all their servers, Oracle or not. That was no longer possible. The solution was that they needed to move Oracle to its own vCenter. Impractical, but license saving.

But with vSphere ESXi 6.0 and higher, you are screwed if you are still using Oracle on VMWare. And of course you also have to upgrade to this to be able to use all other kinds of software. The new version permits you to move virtual hosts between different vCenters. This means that Oracle wants you to license all cores on all ESXi hosts, even if you never intend to use the other hosts. In large server environments, this puts customers in an impossible situation.

What they’re saying with this is; “Buy our hardware or we’ll sue the hell out of you!”. Is this a good strategy? Force your customers by fear of legal persecution to buy your new product line? Do you think they will choose Oracle, or use competitors which slowly but surely are becoming real competitors?