Month: December 2015

TV Stand – DIY

TV Stand from Reclaimed Wood
“Build-Don’t-Buy” Project


Call me old-fashioned, but I have this thing about Christmas gifts where I want them to be special. So when it comes around to the Christmas season every year, I start thinking about things that I could give my loved ones that maybe they can’t give themselves.

This criteria considered, giving Christmas gifts that are worthy of my incredible friends and family is always a unique challenge. But this year, I am particularly proud of a few gifts that I was lucky enough to give the people I love, and I want to share a couple of those with you.

And in this specific post, I’m going to show you how I pulled off this rustic-style, DIY TV stand from reclaimed wood.

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Tufted Headboard – Round 2

For the next headboard I made, I decided that I wanted to try something a little different.

It’s still a tufted, fabric headboard…But I cut this one into three sections and upholstered each section individually.

That was really the only difference in the process with this headboard and the process with the first headboard I made.

Well…and the design was a bit more complex! But I thought I would share this one as well just to show you how creative you can truly be with these DIY headboards! Seriously, once you get the hang of it, there isn’t any design that you can’t do…

So I hope this one is a little inspiration for you!

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I cut out the three sections first, and then I laid them all down side by side and drew the curve of the design.

 

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This is how the three sections looked together. Tip: After I cut out the first side section, I traced it onto the other side section and cut it out from there. That’s how I managed to make them perfectly symmetrical.

 

   

links within the same post

I was trying to create a post the other day that had a list of terms at the top of the page, and definitions for each term below. But I didn’t want people to have to scroll through and find the one term they were looking for…Lightbulb! Create a hyperlink! Like, you click on the term and it jumps down to that definition. Brilliant!…Except I had no idea how to do that.

But I figured it out! So here’s how, in case you wanted to know!

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mplus commands

This is a list of the commands you can use in Mplus and a brief description of their purpose. For more detailed descriptions (e.g., available options for each command), follow the link to those posts.

There are a total of nine (9) Mplus commands:

  1. Title Command
  2. Data Command
  3. Variable Command
  4. Define Command
  5. Analysis Command
  6. Model Command
  7. Output Command
  8. Savedata Command
  9. Plot Command
  10. Montecarlo Command

The Title Command allows you to specify a title for your current analysis. This title will print on each page of the output file.


The Data Command tells Mplus where to locate the data to be used in the current analysis. This command also tells Mplus the format of the data and the names of variables.

Valid Data Files – Mplus can read tab-delimited text, space-delimited text, and comma-delimited text. The input file must be one of these formats.


The Variable Command names that columns of data that Mplus should use as variables.

You can also subset variables for analysis by using a sub-command “USEVARIABLES”


The Analysis Command tells Mplus what type of analysis will be performed.


The Model Command allows you to specify the parameters in your model, or how the model should be constructed


The Output Command specifies optional output. Standard output occurs regardless of whether this command is used


The SaveData Command tells Mplus what data to save from the analysis and where to save it.


The Plot Command tells Mplus what plots to produce for this analysis


The MonteCarlo Command allows you to perform monte carlo simulations to investigate the performance of statistical estimators under various conditions


The Define Command can be used to specify new variables for use in analysis.

Upholstered, Tufted Headboard

Not too long ago, we decided that our bedroom looked a little drab. So I started shopping around for a headboard that would fit our king-sized bed…And I was quickly reminded why I never bought one before. Those things are crazy expensive.

[want to see a different headboard design?]

So instead, I opted to do it myself and save some cash. Overall, this headboard ended up costing me <$100 and it took about two hours to make once I had the materials. So without further ado…

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Extracting Records from a Database: Part One

When you’re working with a large database with many variables, it can be tricky if you ever need just “certain” records from the database. The following are some examples of how you can make Excel work for you if you are trying to extract data from a large database.

Part One: The Basics

For the sake of these examples, let’s say that we work for a health-insurance company, and our job is to deal with people renewing their coverage every year. Our database may look something like this:

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  • Customer (Column A) = first and last name of customer
  • Coverage (Column B) = what kind of coverage the customer has
    • Can be personal or company coverage
    • Can be basic or premium coverage
  • Plan Expiration (Column C) = date that their current coverage will expire
  • Renewal Reminder (Column D) = whether or not the customer wants a reminder to renew their plan
    • Can be yes, no, or “auto”, which means the plan is already set to automatically renew

Let’s start simple. Pretend that you have been asked to generate a list of customers who have asked for a reminder to renew their plan (i.e., Column D = “Yes”). Here’s how you could easily do that.

1. Define your search criteria.

You know that you’re looking for customers with a “yes” in Column D. I know that you’re looking for a “yes” in Column D. The key to making Excel do the work is telling excel that you are looking for a “Yes.”

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Give yourself an area to generate your list of customers. In the same Excel sheet, to the side, create something that looks like this.

What are we looking up? “Yes.” So tell Excel exactly that.

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You have now “defined” your search criteria.

2. Enter that big, scary function.

Yeah, I’m not going to lie. This function is scary. So for now, I’m just going to put it out there. If you want an explanation of how the function works and why we are using it, go to the very end of this post.

First, you have to enter this function in the cell where you want to start your list of results (in this case, G2).

=IF(ISERROR(INDEX($A$1:$D$101,SMALL(IF($D$1:$D$101=$G$1,ROW($D$1:$D$101)),ROW(1:1)),1)),””,INDEX($A$1:$D$101,SMALL(IF($D$1:$D$101=$G$1,ROW($D$1:$D$101)),ROW(1:1)),1))

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This is what that big scary function looks like in the function bar.

 

However, if you’re paying attention to your data (and hopefully you are), you will notice that something goes awry as soon as you enter this function.

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You’ll see that your first match (Jaidyn Huff) is the first name in the database and that the customer’s response in column D was not “yes.”

Don’t panic yet! This is totally normal, because you are not done entering the function.

What we are using is called an array command, and anytime you enter an array function, you have to press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER. And for those of you just skimming, I will reiterate…

 

SUPER INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT STEP!!!
DO NOT SKIP THIS!!!

3. Type the function. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER.

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Not you’ll see that your function is enclosed with “{ }”, which means you did it right. Excel is recognizing this as an array function.

 

Look at how the results have now changed…

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The first “match” is Rayna Fields; if you look at your database really quickly, you can see that she is indeed the first customer in the database (first meaning “from top to bottom in the list”) who does has a “yes” response.

Now it’s all pretty straightforward.

 

4. Drag the function down to copy it.

“Drag” the function down by grabbing the corner of the cell (below)…

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And pulling down as far as you can.

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When you “release” the mouse, the cells will generate your list of matches.

Note: Keep pulling the function down until it returns blank cells. Blank cells = no more matches in the database.

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You now have a list of clients in your database who have asked for a renewal reminder….Go you!


 

I created this video to help explain the “big scary formula”. It’s about 15 minutes are super dry…but it does break down the entire function. So if you have the time or interest, here you go!