How to fly and store your motorcycle overseas for touring, without using a shipping company, cheaply

Ship your own motorcycle overseas by plane, don't get scammed by the shipping companies. In this blog post I will explain the steps required to ship your motorcycle overseas yourself, registration and insurance and all that kind of stuff, step by step, it’s not difficult. Continue reading “How to fly and store your motorcycle overseas for touring, without using a shipping company, cheaply”

How to avoid Paypal currency conversion / foreign exchange fees on eBay for international purchases

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By default, Paypal really wants to do the foreign exchange for you because they make a few percent off your purchase like most other banks and credit cards. Below I explain the steps required to avoid these fees.  In summary, it involves you signing up for a credit card with little to no forex fees, and following some steps to make sure that when you add a credit card to your Paypal account, you are being charged in the seller’s currency, not your local currency converted by Paypal at a fee.
Continue reading “How to avoid Paypal currency conversion / foreign exchange fees on eBay for international purchases”

Fast copy an Array (or text files) directly to a range of cells in Excel, VBA macro code.

In Excel it is much faster to write large sets of data to a spreadsheet all at once instead of using a loop, by copying an array variable to a range of cells directly. This can speed up an Excel macro significantly, especially in large complex workbooks. Continue reading “Fast copy an Array (or text files) directly to a range of cells in Excel, VBA macro code.”

Speed up Excel VBA macros by turning calculations off and on

In large Excel workbooks when you are executing VB macros that change cells in sheets, you can speed up the process significantly by turning workbook calculations off at the begining of your subroutine, and then back on again at the end. Here are some subs that can do this. Simply call the “Calc_Off” sub at the beginning of your code, and the “Calc_On” sub at end end:
Sub Calc_Off()
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual
End Sub

Sub Calc_On()
  Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic
End Sub

Excel, VBA macro functions to convert column number to letter, or letter to column number

I’ve tested these in Excel 2010 in sheets with over 16,000 columns and the functions work even for large numbers of columns.
Function ColumnLetterToNumber(ColumnLetters As String) As Long
    ColumnLetterToNumber = Range(ColumnLetters & "1").Column
End Function
Function ColumnNumberToLetters(ColumnNumber As Integer) As String
    Dim strLetters As String
    strLetters = Cells(1, ColumnNumber).Address(1, 0)
    ColumnNumberToLetters = Left(strLetters, InStr(1, strLetters, "$") - 1)
End Function
These functions are not necessary usually, because almost all things in Excel VBA can be done using ranges specified as numbers, for example,
Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(2,3).Value = "Hello"
Where 2 is the row number, and 3 is the column number, where column 1 corresponds to column A.

Defining global variables, and arrays of unknown variable length in Excel macro, VBA

It’s not usually recommended to use global variables because they make it more difficult for debugging or reading other people’s code.  However, they are handy sometimes when you’re in a rush to get your code done. At the top of a Module for example, simply type something like these below.  I’ve defined three Pipe Specification variables: two arrays of unknown length and one variable:
Public PipeSpecColNums() As Integer
Public PipeSpecNames() As String
Public LastPipeSpecName As String
You can update the size of the array on the fly in sub routines, like this:
Redim Preserve PipeSpecNames(20) 'Now 21 array entries (0-20),
                                 'and preserves previous items stored.

Redim PipeSpecNames(20)  'changes the size of the array without preserving.

Switching between HTML and Visual editor in WordPress, without messing up your custom HTML code

Preserved HTML Editor Markup is your solution, it is a plugin that preserves your custom HTML code.  By default WordPress’s TinyMCE will often mess up special HTML tags you use when you switch to the Visual editor even just for a second.  Preserved HTML Editor Markup stops this from happening.  It is particularly useful for people who like to embed snippets of highlighted programming code in their blog posts because this requires special HTML tags. I’ve tested it with Google Syntax Highlighter for WordPress and it works wonderfully.

Easy way to remove the plastic drain valve on a Kenmore Power Miser 9 hot water heater, even if you cracked the flats…

Plastic drain valve on Kenmore Power Miser 9 hot water heater, how to remove...
Hot water heaters such as the Kenmore Power Miser 9, come with a plastic drain valve that is most likely going to start leaking soon. Mine started leaking a few months ago through the plug valve washer, but recently the valve sprung a second leak and was leaking right at the threads so it had to be removed. You will likely have to replace the valve in as little as 7 years, as was the case for me. It is extremely difficult to remove these little bastards without breaking the things right off at the threads. If you break the thing off at the threads you may need to resort to special tools for removing broken bolts, or even perhaps painstakingly using a hacksaw blade to slowly split the threaded end so you can pry it out. Anyway, there is an easy solution, don’t break the valve off completely yet with anger! The trick to remove this bastard is to first remove the white/grey knob assembly (by twisting the white part) and valve plug washer… once that is removed, you can then find around your house a metal rod that you can insert into the open hole where the knob/plug assembly used to be… and now with your adjustable wrench and your rod together in each hand, it should turn! You should be able to remove the valve! Even if you cracked the plastic flats slightly trying to remove the valve with your adjustable wrench, this will likely still work like it did for me, I illustrate below…. once it’s off I highly recommend replacing the valve with a standard 3/4″ NPT brass nipple, full-port ball valve, and garden hose adapter as shown in the last image below. These water heaters all use standard 3/4″ NPT fittings which are readily available in your local hardware store, likely even cheaper than the replacement value of the plastic valve from Kenmore, and the brass fittings are a million times better quality and will last much longer. Even if they cost more I still think it’s completely worth the upgrade. In fact, if you buy a new water heater in the future, look for the stupid plastic drain valve and immediately replace it with brass fittings. It will make life easier years down the road. They drain faster too. Continue reading “Easy way to remove the plastic drain valve on a Kenmore Power Miser 9 hot water heater, even if you cracked the flats…”

Tax tricks: Join multiple CSV files, remove duplicate lines, and a spreadsheet trick to very quickly sort business transactions by keywords you choose.

Trick for sorting your business expenses using a spreadsheet, quickly Here is a quick summary of what will be covered in this article, useful for people that own their own small business but do not want to buy specialized financial software:  downloading CSV files of your transactions for bank accounts and credit cards, and how to batch concatenate (join) multiples of them together all at once, how to remove duplicate lines, and finally how using a spreadsheet you can quickly use keywords of your own to sort all of your expenses into categories like meals, entertainment, hotel and travel expenses.  This is not only useful for small businesses but good if you like to keep track of your personal expenses as well.   Continue reading “Tax tricks: Join multiple CSV files, remove duplicate lines, and a spreadsheet trick to very quickly sort business transactions by keywords you choose.”

Use your Android smartphone instead of a media center PC, with a $5-$11 adapter, 720p High definition.

Micro USB to HDMI, HHL generic adapter from eBay playing movies from the phone onto a TV in 720p To watch Netflix and movies on your TV in high definition, I highly recomend the cheap no-name brand Micro USB to HDMI MHL Adapters being sold on Amazon or eBay. The video is full wide screen, and good quality.  You can even show your friends how good you are at Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja in full wide screen HDTV glory if you like :)  If you don’t use Netflix, an app that streams movies over Wi-fi from your desktop computer’s hard drive, and proper video player app and codecs to play H.264 and DivX movies can be useful, I will mention as well at the end of this article.  A quality Bluetooth keyboard and mouse such as the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard can also be added to the Samsung Galaxy S II to more easily control the phone if it is located near the TV and you are seated far away. Continue reading “Use your Android smartphone instead of a media center PC, with a $5-$11 adapter, 720p High definition.”

In my opinion, the best free offline GPS navigation with voice prompts with free maps for Samsung Galaxy SII

There are so many options when looking for offline GPS navigation on Andriod phones such as my Samsung Galaxy SII. There are at least a dozen free navigation apps that use some form of the OpenStreetMap maps (OSM). I wanted to be able to use my phone as a GPS device without a data plan if I am travelling out of the country, I don’t want to have to be restricted to having a data plan, and I definitely do not want to use roaming data which costs an arm and a leg. I also wanted to be sure I could find an app that had VOICE turn-by-turn navigation, in case I need to find my way somewhere while riding my motorcycle with a Bluetooth headset. I found a free app and free maps for my Andriod phone that seem to work not too badly.  But sadly, my Nokia E71 with it’s OVI software with free OVI maps is still way better than any free offline GPS system on Andriod, and my E71 properly communicates with my bluetooth headset too, not wasting batteries, AND OVI maps’ voice navigation doesn’t suck.  But I’m writing this article anyways to let you know what Andriod has to offer even though I am displeased with Andriod’s offline navigation.  If you have a data connection and are ok using online navigation, Andriod is fine, it’s got some good tools.  Offline is a different story sadly for travelers. Continue reading “In my opinion, the best free offline GPS navigation with voice prompts with free maps for Samsung Galaxy SII”

How to get instant notification on your cell phone when an item you want is posted up on ebay, kijiji, craigslist, buysell… Even if you don’t have a smart phone.

If you want to have the highest chances of getting an item at the best deal, you have to be the first person to see the deal.  Problem is, people are very busy these days and don’t want to be bothered spending hours and hours checking online sites like ebay, kijiji, craigslist, autotrader, cycletrader or the many other public selling sites.  There is hope for you!  All you need to do is make technology do the work for you. Continue reading “How to get instant notification on your cell phone when an item you want is posted up on ebay, kijiji, craigslist, buysell… Even if you don’t have a smart phone.”

How to contact an ebay seller who does not allow contact.

can't contact an ebay seller Often an ebay seller can block you from sending messages, and you can’t contact the ebay seller.  You get a message that says “We’re sorry we couldn’t find an answer for you. Unfortunately, this seller is not able to respond to your question. We suggest reviewing the item again to see if your answer is in the seller’s listing.” There are various reasons for this, but I found an easy workaround. Continue reading “How to contact an ebay seller who does not allow contact.”

Minimal packing lists and gear suggestions for motorcycle touring – day, multi-day, multi-week, camping, Europe, Thailand…



Packing too much when traveling is bad, it can limit your options for what you are able to do on a trip because of limited luggage space on a bike.  I’ve compiled some packing lists below for the light traveler.
Also check out my blog post on how to ship your motorcycle overseas.  If you’re interested in such a thing.
Continue reading “Minimal packing lists and gear suggestions for motorcycle touring — day, multi-day, multi-week, camping, Europe, Thailand…”

How to tighten an old MOEN kitchen sink faucet, where the base flange is loose and wiggles around

  loose MOEN kitchen faucet This isn’t necessarily a very difficult problem to fix, but I thought it was a bit confusing with these old MOEN kitchen faucets.  This particular faucet is about 22 years old.  It has a U-shaped black plastic thing underneath, which at first I thought was missing some screws and thought the missing screws were the reason the thing was loose.  However, that is not the problem at all. Continue reading “How to tighten an old MOEN kitchen sink faucet, where the base flange is loose and wiggles around”

How to make your own open dry clutch cover for your Ducati, and tank protector

Ducati dry open clutch cover
In 2008 I wanted to personalize my Ducati’s dry clutch cover. After looking in the stores I was really disappointed with how expensive the off-the-shelf open clutch covers were, they go for over $200 typically. So I thought to myself, why not just buy a damaged or scratched up clutch cover off of eBay for $30 or less, and with my tools at home build my own?? Continue reading “How to make your own open dry clutch cover for your Ducati, and tank protector”

How to build a pots and pans rack cheaply that spans between two kitchen cabinets, and allows pans to be sideways…

  This isn’t really that difficult of a problem but I thought it was pretty slick and easy so I’m posting this up.  My requirement was that the pots and pans rod must be up and out of sight as shown in the images above, and that the S-hooks must be twisted 90 degrees so that the pans face sideways, and therefore save space. Continue reading “How to build a pots and pans rack cheaply that spans between two kitchen cabinets, and allows pans to be sideways…”

Step by step, how to import a motorcycle from the USA into Canada

I’m tailoring these instructions for people importing motorcycles, but the same steps will almost all apply to importing any other vehicle so if you’re importing a car feel free to read on.  The potential for saving money is good, particularly when the Canadian dollar is strong.  As an Alberta resident, I have imported a new 2007 Ducati 1098 in 2007 from Oregon into Alberta via an Alberta border crossing, and imported a used 2008 Honda CBR1000RR in spring of 2011 from Washington into Alberta through a BC border crossing.  I touch on some of the implications of being a resident of different provinces – you may be charged US sales tax if you are a BC resident for example (unless you buy from a sales-tax free state), or if your province has HST or PST you will have to pay those when crossing which is higher than just GST if you are an Alberta resident.  On each occasion $3000 was saved after all was said and done.  For a little effort and about 2 days of traveling and having a bit of an adventure, I think it is worth it.  Even if I wasn’t buying a motorcycle, the trip itself would have been worth it. I love road trips!  You can either fly down to the USA to get the bike and ride it back using temp registration that the dealership can help you obtain, or you can drive down there in a truck or with a trailer to bring the bike back.  Personally I attached a trailer hitch to my Acura Integra (~$200), and borrowed a very light weight motorcycle trailer from a friend.  Read on for all the steps required to import. Continue reading “Step by step, how to import a motorcycle from the USA into Canada”