Competent guys should be ready for everything, from hooking up HDTV to sharpening a knife. Are you one of those guys? If you are one of those unfortunates who never fixed a bicycle puncture as a kid (weird as it sounds, there are more of you than one might think), you really need to get cracking on your core expertise.
(1) Patch a radiator hose
Steam hissing from a ruptured radiator hose? Here’s a relatively easy, temporary fix with duct tape. Wait for the engine to cool off. Open the bonnet and locate the source of the steam – that is, the rupture. Clean and dry the area around the fissure; the tape won’t stick as well on a damp, dirty surface. Wind a couple of turns of duct tape around the hose over the hole; press firmly. Overwrap the patch (the hose will be under intense pressure) from 5 cm above the original piece to about 5 cm below, then work your way back. Check your radiator level before cranking the engine. “If it’s seriously low and you don’t have a can of coolant, use water or, in an emergency, diet soda,” says expert Tony Molla. “Avoid using fruit juice or anything with sugar or acids in it. It’ll corrode the radiator and hoses.”
(2) Protect your computer
Viruses and spyware can unleash a host of evils upon your PC, ranging from annoying pop-ups to a zombie system takeover. Security expert John Pironti of the non-profit security agency ISACA (in the US) suggests a layered approach to safeguarding your computer. First, lock it down: “Go to the security section of your Control Panel and enable the firewall before your PC ever touches the Internet,” Pironti advises. Then install a virus protection program and set it to download virus signatures every week. Clean it up: Once a week, do a full virus scan with a program such as Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus (www.symantec.com), McAfee VirusScan (www.mcafee.com) or AVG Anti-Virus (www.free.grisoft.com). Pironti also says you should run a free spyware checker, such as SpyBot-S&D (www.safer-networking.org) or CCleaner (www.ccleaner.com).
(3) Frame a wall
It’s the basic partition – an interior, non-load-bearing wall with a door opening. Here’s how to frame it so you can divide a room into a really useful storage area and a totally indulgent space – for example, a big-screen sports den.
Hold the base and top plates together with their ends aligned, then measure 40 cm from the end farthest from the door opening. Draw a line across the edge of the plates and mark an X right of the line. From here, mark a series of lines – one for each stud – spaced about 42 cm apart, with an X to the right of each. Mark the plates to indicate a door opening.
Separate the plates and nail studs to the right of each line. Use two common nails driven through the plate at the top and bottom of each stud. Single-frame door openings require four pieces of timber. Measure your door; then make the opening 5 cm higher and wider. To remove the sill plate in the opening, use an eight-point crosscut saw to cut almost through. (Protect the floor with masking tape.) Knock out the piece with a hammer and clean it up with a chisel.
Expert tip: “Each stud has a slight arch known as a crown. Position studs with crowns facing the same way when you nail the wall together. This prevents the wall from looking wavy after it’s complete.”
– Merle Henkenius.
(4) Rescue a boater who has capsized
When you come upon a capsized boat, approach with caution: the cause of the accident or debris in the water could render you a victim as well. Before attempting to rescue a boater in the water, call the police or (if he’s in the sea) the NSRI, then approach the victim by putting the bow into the current and the wind; swing the bow toward him and, when you get close, put the engine in neutral to minimise danger from the propellers. If the swimmer is conscious, tie a rope at the middle and stern of your boat and put it in the water; the victim can use the loop as a step.
If the victim is unconscious, position him at the stern and manoeuvre him so he faces away from the boat, arms in the air. Grab his wrists and bob him up and down; on the third bob, use the momentum to pull him into the boat. Elevate his legs and cover him with a blanket-this will help treat him if he’s in shock. Stay at the scene until help arrives.
Expert tip: “Don’t get into the water to get someone out. If you get into the water, you put yourself at risk for hypothermia or injury. You don’t want to become part of the recovery.”
(5) Reverse with a trailer
If you’re doing this without a spotter, put your right hand at six o’clock on the steering wheel and drape your left hand over the seatback. As you reverse, move your steering hand in the direction you want the trailer to go.
Expert tip: “If the trailer is too low to see, tape sticks or flags to the rear corners.”
– Mike Allen.
(6) Retouch digital photos
Some shots are too flawed to fix with a click on autocorrect. Here’s how to perform surgery on digital images with nearly any photo-editing software.
Colour temperature: If the colour adjustment can’t fix unnatural colours, such as a sickly green from fluorescent lights, and there’s no time to tweak the red, green and blue levels, there’s a last resort: declare yourself an artist and switch the image’s mode to black and white.
Cropping: Even a small spot of deep black or bright colour can throw off a program’s ability to balance an image’s light or colour levels. Crop out unwanted elements before making image-wide adjustments.
Lighting: Too much flash? Reduce the brightness and increase the contrast. For poorly lit images, do the opposite, boosting the brightness and reducing the contrast. To avoid grey, hazy images, make sure the photo’s black elements are still black and the whites still white.
Red-eye: If your software doesn’t have a red-eye reduction feature, zoom in on the offending eyes until you can see individual pixels. Select the desaturation tool and dab at the red portion of each eye. This drains the colour, turning reds into greys, while retaining highlights so the irises don’t look artificial. The results probably won’t be pretty, but boring grey beats demonic red.
(7) Fillet a fish
Set the scene with a flat surface and an appropriate knife – any long, thin, flexible and sharp blade will do, but for larger fish you might need a stiffer blade. Make your first cut behind the pectoral fin or gill cover, angling the tip of the knife slightly toward the head. Cut down to the spine, but not through it. Next, turn the fish end to end and run your knife head to tail along the dorsal fin and backbone, pushing the knife deep enough to bounce the blade off the fish’s rib cage. Then run the knife carefully over the rib cage until you reach the spine. Pull the fillet back as you cut, which will help you see what you’re doing. Repeat the process through the bottom half of the fish, and you’re done with that side. Flip and repeat for two boneless fish fillets.
Eapert tip: “One side of the fish is always easier to cut than the other. It’s a matter of physiology: Right-handed people find it easier to cut from left to right; lefties, vice versa. Do the harder side first. The fullness of the fish will make it easier to control on the cutting board.”
– John Steadman.
(8) Navigate with a map and compass
Although GPS may seem ubiquitous, it doesn’t work everywhere. Mountains and dense tree cover can knock out satellite signals – and batteries can die. Here’
s how to roam the bundu with a compass and topograp
(10) Sharpen a knife
A knife may be the most elemental of all human tools – but only if it’s sharp. Hone it the way your grandfather did, with a steady hand and a combination stone that has a coarse side and a fine side. The trick is to hold