Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Octagons for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXVII

octagon birdhouse construction
Several Antisocial Network staffers make little wood craft projects for around the house, and one of them is also an armchair birdwatcher. That means she sits in her chair and watches the birds at the feeders on her deck... When it comes to building birdhouses, they've learned that the critters have fairly exacting standards, so they typically research the plans at a site like Audubon.org. It's for darned sure, though, that eHowian Patrick Williamson didn't do much research, however, when creating the plans he barfed up for "How to Build an Eight-Sided Birdhouse" (now at GardenGuides.com without his byline).

We aren't absolutely sure because Williamson didn't include a reference, but we suspect he simply cribbed some plans for a regular rectangular birdhouse and doubled the number of sides. [Author's note: you can find a discussion of building an octagonal birdhouse here...] We say that because, in almost 500 words (479, to be precise), Patrick never once uses the word "miter" or the phrase "at 22½ degrees"! In other words, all you do (according to Williamson) is
  1. Measure out eight pieces of wood 6 inches high and 4 inches wide.
  2. Cut out those pieces of wood with a scroll saw.
  3. Take one side panel and put a thick layer of glue down the vertical edge.
  4. Stand a second side panel up next to the first and push the vertical edge into the glue you put on the first piece. The two pieces should stand up together, like playing cards.
Besides questioning why Williamson specifies a scroll saw, we have to wonder just how stupid is the guy if Patrick thinks you can glue eight boards together in an octagon when all the edges are right angles! The edges have to be mitered, moron!

Williamson also skimps on measurements: one instruction is to
"Measure out two octagon-shaped pieces of wood with each side of the octagon being 4 inches long."
Sadly, that's not very helpful. What would be helpful is to mention that the apothem of an octagon with sides 4" long is 9.65 inches, give or take, so your "piece of wood" will need to be at least 20 inches across! Good luck finding that...
And then there are the holes:
"Drill a hole in one of the eight pieces of wood where the door will be. Use a scroll saw to cut the hole larger. Drill a second hole below the door one 1/2 inch in diameter, for the perch."
Ummm, Patrick? A) you're supposed to specify hole size depending on the bird species; B) you seem to have confused a scroll saw with a jig saw, and C) that's a mighty big perch! (not to mention a mighty big birdhouse!)

No, folks, it's pretty obvious that Williamson, despite his management degree; doesn't know jack about birds, knows nothing about woodworking, and probably hasn't thought about geometry since eighth grade. Patrick's alleged "plans" for an octagonal birdhouse are, to be blunt, worthless. Now you know why he's the Dumbass of the Day. right?     


Monday, November 20, 2017

Homemade Gold Sluice Box for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXVI

wooden sluice box
The original sluice box as botched by Gomez (and Fleury)
We're told that the "rules" of Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) precluded the use of Wikipedia articles as references; not that most of the self-appointed "freelance writers" didn't go straight to en.wikipedia.org first when "researching" a topic. It's interesting that, somewhere about 2012, DMS prohibited using its own content as a reference. That message apparently didn't get to eHowian Vivian Gomez, however, since Gomez seems to have merely reworded an older eHow article for her post titled "How to Build a Wooden Sluice Box," now firmly ensconced at OurPastimes.com.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Heating Oil for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXV

When we looked this morning, the thermometer at Antisocial Network HQ had dipped below freezing again and the furnace was running full bore. We use natural gas here, but several of us have lived at one time or another in homes heated with oil furnaces. That's why, when one of our research team spotted Brenda Priddy holding forth in a HomeSteady post about "Oil Used to Heat Homes," we took a closer look in hopes of learning something. Unfortunately, though, our two-time DotD winner dropped the ball... just as we expected.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Least Squares Linear Fit for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXIV

line of best fit
A staffer who, for a while, wrote for Demand Media Studios (DMS¹) says that it was common for a freelancer to "claim" many similar topics and rewrite the same post several times. Of course, if – like eHowian Ryan Menezes – the freelancer didn't know the answer in the first place, subsequent answers were likely to drift ever farther from factual. Such seems to be the case with our J-school graduate when he attempted to explain "How to Calculate the Slope of a Line of Best Fit."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Propeller Pitch for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXIII

propeller pitch diagram
No one of our staffers knows everything (none of them is a J-school grad, after all), but all of them are smart enough to know what they don't know. That's why we don't mess much here with questions about medicine, law, and high finance. None of us has ever owned a boat, either, but even total landlubbers like us could recognize that Cecelia Owens was full of hooey when she attempted to explain "How to Calculate Prop Pitch" for OurPastimes.com.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dredging Gold for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXII

homemade dredge on water
This is a dredge, Melanie...
One of our staffers noticed that as the Leaf Group migrates old eHow content into new niches, they usually keep the images submitted by the original author. In this case, that was the forst thing that tipped our staffer off that she'd spotted a good candidate. That's because for an article titled "How to Build a Gold Dredge" at OurPastimes.com, eHowian Melanie Fleury submitted a picture of pyrite. Yep, the aptly named "fool's gold."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shimano Flight Deck for Dummies - The Freelance Files MXXI

Shimano Flight Deck Computer
Sometimes you have to read all the way through a freelance post before your dumbassery detector sounds the alarm, and sometimes the condition is pretty much in your face. Today's DotD candidate was closer to the "read all the way through" end of the spectrum for the staffer who turned it up, but the Antisocial Network's chief bicycle mechanic recognized the thread of bull immediately. The awardee? returning candidate Matthew Ferguson (tapped twice already for misinformation about bicycles). The topic? Healthfully post "How to Shift Gears With a Shimano Flight Deck Shifter"...