Cutting Large Gapped Brick Tutorial for Dioramas

I’ve been working on my brownstone project for a while and thought I’d do a quick tutorial on how I did the larger gap bricks. I hope you enjoy and you find this video helpful.


Ultra Thin Foam Board Tutorial for Dioramas


Hey everybody, here’s another tutorial video I did on cutting very thin foam boards for your diorama projects. I’ve had some folks ask me on the Diostructure facebook group about how I did my thin accents for my Brownstone project I’m working on so I thought I’d whip up a quick tutorial on it. I hope you like it.

Frosted Glass Tutorial for Dioramas


A quick tutorial I did to show one way of making a frosted glass effect for your diorama windows. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more. I plan on adding to my library of tutorials often.

Ripping Wood Tutorial for Dioramas


I’ve been delving into the world of diorama making over the last year and I’ve noticed there are a lot of folks, myself included, looking for how-to tutorials on some of the techniques folks use to make their dioramas and the props and such. This brought me to decide to start making some of my own videos. Here’s my first video in what will hopefully become a large library of instructional videos. I hope you enjoy. It’s very simple, but a good place to start I think.

Creating Desktop Shortcuts to PowerShell that Pass a Parameter

Previously I wrote about how to create a Dynamic PowerShell Profile which allows you to choose upon execution of PowerShell whether you are running your scripts in a DEV state or PROD state.

In this article, I’ll go one step further and show you how to create a custom Desktop Shortcut that will automatically pass the parameters you’ve identified in your Dynamic PowerShell Profile so you don’t need to enter them when you double click the shortcut.


In this scenario, I want to have 2 desktop shortcuts. One that will open PowerShell using my DEV profile and one that will open my PROD profile. Technically, the shortcuts are opening the same PowerShell executable, and are running the same profile. The difference is in the parameter/s it is passing when it executes.


  1. Click Start and Enter “PowerShell” into the search bar (this is assuming you’re running Windows 7 or higher)
  2. Right Click the “Windows Powershell” result
  3. Choose Send To > Deskop (create shortcut)
  4. Right Click the new shortcut on your desktop
  5. Click Properties
  6. Click the Shortcut tab
  7. Place or cursor at the end of the text in the Target: field
  8. Enter the following text:  -noprofile -noexit -command . $profile -inpType DEV
  9. The entire string will now look similar to: %SystemRoot%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -noprofile -noexit -command . $profile -inpType DEV
  10. Click OK

What Did We Just Do?

Let’s take a look at the additional text we added and break it down.

-noprofile = This tells powershell not to load the $profile we have created and associated with PowerShell. We’re not loading this initially because we want to easily pass a parameter without needing user interaction

-noexit = This tells PowerShell to stay open after executing. If you don’t include this, you’ll see the PowerShell application open and then it will disappear just like that. Allowing PowerShell to close right away is useful when you’re doing silent installs or other tasks that you don’t want/need the user to interact with the application once the process is complete.

-command . $profile = This tells PowerShell to run a command which is the . $profile command which is actually telling PowerShell to run the $profile script.

-inpType DEV = This tells PowerShell that you’re going to pass the $profile script a parameter with is named “inpType” which is created in the $profile script we created previously (you can name your parameters whatever you want). DEV is the parameter itself. You could pass PROD if you wanted instead.

Now, you can change the name of the shortcut to something like “DEV – Windows PowerShell” then copy and paste, rename the new one as “PROD – Windows PowerShell” then change the Target path entry to reflect a PROD parameter entry and now you have 2 shortcuts that will allow you to quickly run in DEV or PROD mode.

I hope this is useful to you. If you have questions or need assistance, feel free to post a question. If you need help adding to your profile, by all means post the question and hopefully I’ll be able to help you out.

DIY Rain Barrels

I couldn’t hold back the tidal wave of requests to see my finished rain barrels so I decided I needed to write a post about it and include the plans I used.

**I really only had one person request it so go take a look at Koko’s blog. There’s a really yummy post about a braided bread that’ll make you want to quit your diet right now (but don’t quit, because that would be bad).

Where To Find The Plans

I found the plans for my rain barrels on Pinterest and that brought me to this article called “How to Build a Rain Barrel” so I cannot take credit for the idea, though I used a little more re-purposed materials than they did, so I made it my own in that respect. It’s not pretty by any means, but that’s some of the character.

Photo from

These are the plans which are extremely helpful. I actually didn’t need the article to walk me through the planning and build process because this one image is good enough to get you through it.

Lessons Learned

  • Re-Purpose materials if you can. As you can see from my pictures in the gallery, I chose to re-purpose some old pallets I had. I also got my barrels from a guy off Craigslist for $5. This part of the story I must say, be very careful about the barrels you pick. They should be food grade so you’re not getting oil or other dangerous chemicals in your rain water.
  • Inspect the barrels you choose top to bottom. The blue one I got wound up having a hole cut in the bottom. I was so mad when I found that. Luckily, I was able to flip the barrel upside down, plug the one spout hole and bam I was back in business.
  • Put your rain barrels on a slab of concrete otherwise use a stand similar to my pallet design. A table like the one in the picture (above) will work great on a slab of concrete, but on dirt the table will settle and potentially sink making the stand uneven, or even cause it to collapse. You do not want 100+ gallons of water dumping out like that.
  • Make sure your stand/table is level. Completely level. This will help prevent your table from collapsing so you’re not putting too much weight on one side of the table.
  • Ensure you put your rain barrels near your gutter spouts. You’re not going to collect much rain if you aren’t taking the runoff from your roof.

Finished Product

So far, we’ve had quite a bit of spring rain, so I haven’t had to use the rain barrel system too much. The barrels fill evenly when it does rain which is awesome. The couple times I’ve been able to use the barrel, I’ve found the water pressure is pretty minimal so you’re not going to use a hose to water your plans unless you’re doing it downhill from the barrels. Our house has a walk-out which means the front yard is about a 1/2 level higher than the backyard. I can use the hose with good success to water our garden in the back, but for the front, I pretty much have to use a watering can. I’m ok with this, but don’t get false expectations that you’re going to have the same water pressure you would from your water spout.

I threw some pictures of our backyard too so you can see what all we need to water. Most of those pictures are from last year. The one with the little playhouse with the door missing is from this year. Stupid wind blew the door off so I had to fix it. Hadn’t done that yet, but it’s back on now. The panoramic shots I don’t think are going to turn out very well in the gallery, but maybe they will.

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Microsoft Office Resources

Microsoft Office has been the productivity suite of choice for a large majority of businesses and organizations for years. The biggest challenge is training and keeping staff and other users trained on the products.

In this day and age, users are expected to be Self-Learners, thereby reducing the overhead in terms of training costs. This, however, isn’t always a natural personality trait for all users. This article isn’t intended to tackle the ins and outs of why or how to address this. It simply is intended to show users a quick easy resource to access to help become a Self-Learner for Microsoft Office products.

Microsoft has created many different versions of their Help/Support sites over the years to help users learn about their products. This latest version seems to be the most user friendly and intuitive of them all.

I strongly invite all users of Office products to check out the link below to learn more about their Office Products so you can better utilize these resources our employers have provided us and become or continue to be a Self-Learner.

End of QTR JMC Tips & Reminders

We hope these helpful JMC end of Quarter tips, tricks, and instructions help you as you do your end of quarter grade processing and submissions. If you have questions or comments feel free to leave them below or e-mail us.

*Click here to download a printable copy of these instructions*
Be on the Right Term

Check to make sure you are on the right TERM before entering any grades or information


  1. Click TERMS
  2. Select correct Quarter

Office to Teacher

Your first step should be to perform an OFFICE to TEACHER

*If you don’t do so, any comments you entered will be erased*
  1. Click File
  2. Click Office to Teacher

Scores/Assignment Scores

Enter your scores and grades

  1. Click Edit
  2. Click Course Grades


You must calculate your grades from scores before proceeding!

  1. Ensure you are in the Course Grades
  2. Click Options
  3. Click Calculate Q# Grades from Scores
  4. Click Yes to the “Will Modify” message.
  6. Repeat for each course (Use the Drop Down Arrow to switch to the next class)

Don’t Print

There is no need to print anything anymore.

Click Done

When you have completed all of your grade/score entry you can click the Done button

Teacher to Office

When you are ready to submit your grades to the office you will need to perform a Teacher to Office in JMC.

  1. Click File
  2. Click Teacher to Office

End of Semester

The only difference from Quarter to Semester is you must calculate each quarter and do the weights

  1. Click Edit
  2. Click Course Grades
  3. Select the correct course
  4. Click Options
  5. Calculate both Qtr 1 and 2 or Qtr 3 and 4 depending on the Semester you are in
  6. Click the Weight Button
  7. Enter your grading weights (typically 50%-50%)
  8. Proceed with normal processing as usual

Shrinking pictures to upload to the web

By now most, if not all of us have had the opportunity to upload a picture to our website or e-mail a picture to a friend. Many times these pictures are from our own camera that we’ve taken. Sometimes these pictures are far too big to be uploading to the web or e-mailing to friends. Either the picture is rejected or it takes so long to upload that it’s not worth the time to do it.

How big is too big?

Typically a picture that you e-mail or upload should be no bigger than 100kb. Anything larger and it is truly bigger than it needs to be for a webpage or e-mail. If you need to share pictures at a higher quality then you should consider sharing the pictures in a different manner.

The solution

It is called Microsoft Office Picture Manager and it is installed on all of the district computers right now as a part of the Microsoft Office 2007 Suite.

This product allows you to manage your pictures and change the size of these pictures as you need. Watch the below video to see how to adjust the size of your pictures so that you can upload it easily to your webpage or send it via e-mail.