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With winter looming, van-lifers have one of two choices: park the rig for a few months and end the road trip season, or continue cruising through the cold. No matter which category you fall into, you’re here because you’re looking for information on how to winterize your camper.

If you’re staying put, you’ll need to ready your rig for several months of sitting, potentially in wet or freezing temperatures. If not, you’ll need to figure out how to keep your vehicle cozy as temperatures drop.

We’ll start by looking at how you can stay warm on the road, then provide a few essential tips for readying your van to hibernate for the winter.

Seal everything up tight

To help ensure your van retains as much heat as possible during cold winter nights, make sure there aren’t any spots where heat can leak out and cold air can slip in. This is also essential if you plan to store your van, as it prevents water from leaking in and causing mold and other issues.

The job is largely a matter of checking that your windows and doors are sealed properly. You should be able to see if the rubber around them has any wear or gaps, and you can also check for water leaks after it rains. If you find any holes, you can close them up with the window sealant available at any hardware store. For more severe problems, like large sections of missing rubber or no seal at all, consider replacing the rubber seals entirely. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to do this yourself, but some seal brackets require specific tools and you may need help from a shop.

Cover the windows

Uncovered glass allows a lot of heat to seep through, so cover it up. The van life community’s preferred solution tends to be Reflectix, which is easy to cut to size and doubles as a window cover to provide privacy. This flexible insulation not only keeps heat inside your vehicle during the winter, but it also blocks the heat of the sun in the summer, so you can use the stuff year-round.

[Related: The safest ways to stay warm in a power outage]

The shiny aluminum surface, however, can make the atmosphere inside your rig feel a bit sterile and claustrophobic when it’s in place, so most people paint it to add a dash of color and make things feel homier. I recommend painting the exterior face black so your van will look less conspicuous when parked in an urban setting, then painting the interior side whatever color you enjoy most.

Insulate all around

Paneling the interior walls is a common way to improve a van’s aesthetics (you’ll feel less like you’re living in a car), but you can add insulation at the same time. This is easiest to do the first time you panel the interior, rather than waiting until you’ve put some miles on your rig. As you put the panels up, fill the space behind them with spray foam, boards of polystyrene foam, or even just recycled fabric. If you already have panels in place, you may have to take them down to get the job done.

The more insulation, the better, but keep in mind that every inch of insulation you add takes away an inch of livable interior space. Try to strike the right balance based on your vehicle’s design.

Get a carpet

Whether your camper’s floor is uncovered or you’ve layered on wood paneling, that surface will get cold and uncomfortable. Covering the floor with some sort of carpet will not only help retain heat, but it will offer a cozier surface for your feet, hands, knees, and anything else that touches the ground. Thicker is better, but a small area rug will do well in a pinch.

Use a quality sleeping bag

While a lot of van-lifers prefer to feel more at home by sleeping in a bed that has normal sheets, you may find you prefer a well-insulated sleeping bag when winter hits.

For moderate temperatures, I really like the duck down sleeping bag that Marmot made with the renowned fabric designer Pendleton. It looks and feels great, which helps make your van life feel less like typical camping. If you’re looking for a more spacious double-wide sleeping bag, the Kelty Tru.Comfort 20 is outstanding. For extreme cold, you’ll want to look for something with a cold rating of zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower, like the Kelty Mistral 0.

Set up a space heater

For most van-lifers, keeping warm on a day-to-day—and night-to-night—basis involves merely bundling up. For some, however, long nights without a source of heat can make the lifestyle unbearable. That’s where a space heater can become essential.

Space heaters tend to be an imperfect solution, however, because they require a constant source of fuel. Propane heaters are the most effective, but they require you to lug around a bunch of fuel, operate inconsistently at high altitudes, and some models have safety issues. Electric heaters offer more safety and function more reliably, but they suck up a lot of energy from your power station, and high-efficiency models won’t heat larger vans. And while there are some out there who take on the potentially difficult task of installing wood-burning stoves, doing so requires lots of space and can have safety issues. So it’s really about weighing pros and cons and choosing the option with the flaws that least discourage you.

If you’re looking for options, Lasko makes a portable space heater that won’t suck your battery dry too fast. The Mr. Heater Buddy is a popular propane option. And if you have the space and budget for it, Cubic has some solid wood stove setups.

How to prepare your van for storage

If you decide to park your van for the winter, first make sure there are no air or water leaks. I discussed this in more detail above, so if you skipped that section, go back and take a look. Otherwise, run through this checklist before you let it sit:

Test the engine coolant mix to ensure proper antifreeze levels. A ratio of equal parts coolant and water will work in most climates, but if you plan on parking in colder temperatures you can adjust that to 60/40.

Drain your plumbing system, if you have one, including the water tank, heater, and lines, to keep it from freezing and bursting. This water should be pretty clean, so feel free to dispose of it by watering plants or pouring it down a sewer drain.

Remove the vehicle battery and power station and store them someplace warm, or keep the battery plugged into a Battery Tender. Batteries can lose their charge when sitting for long periods, or become corroded if sitting in wet weather.

Store your rig in a garage or outdoors covered with a heavy tarp, if possible.

Check your van monthly for condensation, mold, pests, and other issues. Maintain it as necessary.

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It’s Time For Public Libraries To Get Creative

In the current recession, many public libraries are laying off staff, slashing budgets, and closing down. Library supporters respond by becoming more vocal, insistently demanding greater funding from legislators. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone, though. It’s not as if legislators don’t care about libraries. There is no money to be allocated. The money isn’t there, no matter how loud you shout.

How do you reach the top of that wave? You start using the library space as a collaborative space to make things: books, music CDs, instructional videotapes, screencasts, art, inventions, software, and so on. And then you start selling those creative things to fund the library’s operations. You sell those creative products via Amazon’s Create Space, Apple’s iBookstore, Lulu, and countless other Websites that have sprung up to empower creative producers.

Half of a library’s operating budget could be generated by the creative output of the people who use that library. Writers, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, artists, inventors, and other creative types could all get their start working on collaborative projects for their own neighborhood library. Established creative talent could donate some of their works to add value to anthologies and other group projects.

Library staff would be hired based on their creative talents as well as their other competences. So a job offer for a library job might sound like this: “Mr. McCartney, I understand you like composing songs. We’re thrilled to have you join our library staff. Ms. Dickinson, your poetry is truly distinctive, welcome to our library staff. Mr. da Vinci, your drawing talent will be a big asset to our library community. Mr. Wright, we’re so happy to have someone interested in building flying machines join our staff.”

Suppose your library wanted to start producing books for Apple’s iBookstore. How would you and your library do that? A Web service named Lulu has you covered.

Who would buy iBooks created by people in your library? Some of the purchasers would be people right in your neighborhood — and those neighbors’ family and friends. And if your iBooks have literary or practical value, the books will be purchased by people outside of your state and outside of your country.

Libraries themselves are not well-situated to handle the monies that come their way, but Friends of the Library groups are. If you care about supporting libraries, maybe the thing you need to do today is contact your local Friends of the Library group to see how your own creative talents might be put to use to support the library you care about.

If your library does not currently subscribe to MAKE magazine, a question to ask is: Why not? What took us so long to understand the value of this publication?

Should public libraries be welcoming homes to ingenuity?

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Pirate Bay Operators Get Prison Time

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Four men behind The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s biggest free file-sharing websites, were each sentenced to a year in jail on Friday for breaching copyright, and ordered to pay $3.6 million in compensation.

Analysts said the guilty verdict in the closely-watched test case could help music and film companies recoup millions of dollars in lost revenues, though they doubted it would stem the tide of illegal downloading.

In a broadcast on The Pirate Bay’s website one of the four defendants, Peter Sunde, taunted the court, holding up a mock IOU note for 31 million Swedish crowns ($3.6 million) followed by the initials “JK” — Internet lingo for “just kidding.”

“That’s the closest they’re going to get to getting money from me,” Sunde said.

International trade body IFPI, which represents some 1,400 record companies across the world, reported earlier this year that about 95 percent of music downloaded in 2008 was illegal.

On its website, The Pirate Bay scorned the ruling, calling it a “crazy verdict.”

“It was lol (laugh out loud) to read and hear,” the message read. “But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing Hollywood has ever taught us.”

IFPI Chairman John Kennedy welcomed the court sentence which he said in a statement provided a “a strong deterrent” against copyright infringement.

“This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from creative activity and who needs to know their rights will protected by law,” he said.

The men linked to The Pirate Bay — Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom — were charged early last year by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offences. They denied the charges.

Companies including Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI also sought damages of more than 100 million crowns ($12 million) to cover lost revenues.

The Stockholm district court said in a statement the four were found guilty of breaching copyright laws and each sentenced to a year in prison.


Lundstrom’s attorney, Per Samuelson, told journalists he was shocked by the verdict and the severity of the sentence.

“That’s outrageous, in my point of view. Of course we will appeal,” he said. “This is the first word, not the last. The last word will be ours.”

The lawyers defending Sunde and Neij told Reuters their clients would also appeal the verdict.

The group that controls The Pirate Bay, launched in 2003, says that no copyrighted material is stored on its servers and no exchange of files actually takes place there so it cannot be held responsible for what material is being exchanged.

The prosecution said that by financing, programing and administering the site, the four men promoted the infringement of property rights by the site’s users.

Industry experts were not convinced the verdict would have a lasting effect.

“Every time you get rid of one, another bigger one pops up. Napster went, and then up came a whole host of others … The problem of file-sharing just keeps growing year on year, and it’s increasingly difficult for the industry to do anything about it,” said music analyst Mark Mulligan of research firm Forrester.

“Pirate Bay was brilliant at self-publicity, but the reality is there are lots of other torrent-tracker sites,” he said.

“The closing of the one that shouts the loudest won’t make any difference.”

What To Do When Your Mac Displays The Wrong Time

Have you ever ran into a scenario where your Mac displays the incorrect time? It can throw a lot of things out of whack across all of your apps.

Despite all the things that can go wrong when your Mac’s time is incorrect, it can be pretty easy to fix the problem. We’ll walk you through some possible fixes in this piece.

Why is my Mac showing the wrong time?

Your Mac may show the incorrect time for a number of reasons; some of the most common are:

Software glitches

Location services can’t determine your correct time

The Mac hasn’t been powered on for a long time

The Mac might have been brought into a new time zone

Someone may have changed your time on you

More scenarios are also possible, but these are typically the most common. Regardless of what caused it, the steps to fix it are outlined below.

How to fix incorrect time on your Mac

To fix a Mac displaying the wrong time, take yourself through the following troubleshooting steps:

Restart your computer

This one should seem obvious from anyone involved in IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again? This can sometimes fix this problem without any headaches.

Check your date and time settings

Look at your date and time settings from  → System Preferences → Date & Time. Check to see if the Mac is set to change your time automatically based on your location or not. If it is, and your Mac is showing the wrong time, continue through the steps below. If it’s not, turn it on and allow your Mac to set your time automatically based on your location.

Make sure you have location services enabled

Setting your time and time zone automatically requires location services be enabled on your Mac. You can double check you have this enabled by going to  → System Preferences → Date & Time → Time Zone and then making sure the Set time zone automatically using current location check box is enabled.

Make sure you have an internet connection

If you have your Mac set to set the time automatically, make sure it has a solid internet connection so it can refresh your time based on your location. If it can’t connect to the internet properly to check your date and time, things like time zones and daylight savings can throw it off and keep it from updating when the time changes.

Keep your time zone in check as you travel

If you moved from one side of the country to another, or even did something as simple as cross a state border, then you may have crossed a time zone. These are fidgety things that rule the time of day based on your position in the world. If you move out of your time zone, then your Mac might still be showing the time from your previous time zone and needs to be updated accordingly.

This will be done automatically when you connect to the internet if you have automatic time enabled, but it may need to be done manually if you don’t have automatic time enabled by going to  → System Preferences → Date & Time → Time Zone.

Set your date and time manually

In the case of some software glitches, you might need to set the time manually. You can do this from  → System Preferences → Date & Time by un-checking the Set date and time automatically check box. You will then need to fill in the time manually based off of your knowledge of what time it is.

Keep your Mac’s battery charged

If you keep your Mac powered off for a long period of time, then all of its on board power source may be depleted. Some Macs may rely on a system or PRAM battery to keep certain functions like timekeeping in check. When the PRAM battery dies, your Mac will try to source power from the system battery instead. In cases where both have died, timekeeping may be affected. You should probably contact Apple for hardware support if you suspect PRAM battery issues.

Reset your Mac’s NVRAM

If your Mac is having trouble keeping track of your time no matter what you do, you may want to try resetting your NVRAM. This component in your computer deals directly with timekeeping and some software glitches related to your NVRAM can trigger problems with the time that gets displayed.

Contact Apple

In almost all other situations where any of the above suggestions can’t fix a timekeeping issue on your Mac, you should probably call Apple and see what they have to say.

Good to go?

In most cases, one of the steps above should have fixed your timekeeping woes on your Mac. If it didn’t, then your best bet is to check with Apple.

Also read:

How To Use Your Fitbit To Wake Up On Time, Every Time

Fitbit alarms are a blessing for those who struggle to wake up in the morning, but how do you set them up on your Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker? We have an in-depth answer below, whether you own a Sense, Charge 4, or Inspire 2.

From your clock, swipe through your apps. Tap on the Alarm app.

Tap + New Alarm to add a new alarm.

Swipe up and down to set the time. Be sure to tap am or pm if you’re using 12-hour time.

When you’re happy, tap the time to set your alarm.

You can also turn on Smart Wake, which will attempt to wake you during light sleep up to 30 minutes before your alarm. Take this into consideration when setting your alarm, too.

Choose the days you want the alarm to sound by ticking the checkboxes.

Finally, swipe right to save your alarm and view your alarms.

Fitbit Versa 2, Versa, Versa Lite

From your clock, swipe through your apps. Tap on the Alarm app.

Tap + New Alarm to add a new alarm.

Tap the time, then swipe up or down on the minutes and hours to set the time. Tap am or pm if this setting is enabled.

Here, you can turn on Smart Wake by tapping the checkmark.

Choose the days you want the alarm to sound by ticking the checkboxes.

Finally, press the button to save your alarm and view all alarms.

Importantly, the Sense and Versa lines won’t sound alarms if they have less than 8% battery. Be sure to charge these devices before going to bed.

Fitbit Charge 5 and Luxe

From your clock, swipe left through your apps. Tap on the Alarm app.

Tap New Alarm to add a new alarm.

Swipe up and down to adjust the time, and select am or pm if required.

Enable Smart Wake if need be, and choose the days you wish the alarm to sound in the Repeat section.

Finally, swipe right to save your alarm and view all alarms.

Fitbit Charge 4

From your clock, swipe left through your apps. Tap on the Alarm app.

Tap + to add a new alarm.

Swipe up and down to adjust the time, and select am or pm if required.

Finally, tap the sides of the Charge 4 to set the alarm and view other alarms.

See also: The best Fitbit smartwatches and trackers you can buy

Use the Fitbit app to set alarms

You have to go through the Fitbit app to manage alarms if you own an older or simpler Fitbit device. This includes the Inspire 2 and Inspire HR.

Open the Fitbit app and tap your profile image in the top-left.

Tap your device name.

Tap Silent Alarms, then select Set a New Alarm.

Finally, select the time, am or pm, and the days you want the alarm to sound. Save the alarm.

How to dismiss alarms on your Fitbit device

To dismiss an alarm, you can tap the button displayed on the screen for most Fitbit smartwatches. You’ll need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the dismiss dialog if you own a Fitbit Charge 5 or a Luxe. For Inspire 2 and Ace 3 users, tap both buttons on the device simultaneously to dismiss an alarm. Oh, and one more tip: turn down your Fitbit’s brightness so you can avoid burning your eyes when you wake up to the alarm!

How To Check Screen Time On Android: Make Sure You’Re Using Your Time Wisely

We use our phones daily to communicate with people via text, phone call, email — you name it. But we are also guilty of wasting time on our phones. These little gadgets are time-sucking machines that can keep you staring for hours. How much time do you spend on your phone? You might be surprised to learn how much screen time you clock daily. Here’s how to check screen time on Android devices.



How to check screen time on Android

What is Digital Wellbeing?

How to use Digital Wellbeing on Android

Editor’s note: Steps in this article were put together using a Google Pixel 7 running Android 13. Some of these instructions may differ, depending on your hardware and software.

How to check screen time on Android:

Open the Settings app.

Select Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.

Hit Dashboard.

Check the time under Screen time.

How to use Digital Wellbeing on Android

Using Digital Wellbeing on Android is as simple as opening it. It comes pre-installed on your device, and you don’t have to log in to anything to access your screen time information. It will also show your recent screen time for all your apps. If you tap on a specific app’s name, you can see a breakdown of your historical time spent on that app.

There are a few different features within Digital Wellbeing that you can customize to fit your needs. For a brief overview, keep reading.

Digital Wellbeing App timers

If there is a specific app that you can’t force yourself to stop using or cut back on, this feature is excellent. You can allow yourself a particular amount of time each day on various apps. Once you’ve hit your screen time limit for the day, you cannot use that app until the timer resets at midnight.

How to set app timers:

Open the Settings app.

Select Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.

Hit Dashboard.

Tap on Show all apps.

Find the app you want to set a timer for.

Select the hourglass icon to the right of the app.

Pick how long you want to be able to use the app daily.

Press OK.

Digital Wellbeing Bedtime mode

Bedtime mode can do multiple things to help you keep screen time to a minimum. For starters, you can turn Do Not Disturb mode on, set the screen to grayscale, and keep the screen dark. Bedtime mode allows you to pick which of these features are activated. You can set the times and days you want to use bedtime mode, and it’ll automatically turn on and off, so you don’t even have to worry about remembering it. Additionally, you can make it so that Bedtime mode only turns on while the phone is plugged in during charging.

How to set Bedtime mode:

Open the Settings app.

Select Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.

Hit Bedtime mode.

Select what you want the phone to do during Bedtime mode. Tap Next.

Select when you want Bedtime mode to be activated. Hit Done when you’re finished.

Hit Customize.

Pick which features you want to be turned on during Bedtime mode.

Digital Wellbeing Focus mode

Focus mode is one of the best things Digital Wellbeing has to offer. Focus mode grays out disabled apps. This forces you to stop using your phone as a crutch and get stuff done. You can choose which apps are allowed and which apps are not.

Of course, you can turn Focus mode off and on whenever you please. So it will ultimately be up to you to exercise willpower and not turn Focus mode off until you finish your task. When all of your apps are grayed out, it serves as a reminder that you need to focus. Hopefully, that will motivate you to keep screen time to a minimum!

How to use Focus mode:

Open the Settings app.

Select Digital Wellbeing and parental controls.

Hit Focus mode.

Tap on Show all apps.

Select distracting apps.

Hit Turn on now.

You can also tap on Set a schedule to automatically pick when you want Focus mode to go on and off.

Digital Wellbeing Parental controls

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Digital Wellbeing is a great way to monitor your child’s screen time. To use the parental controls through Digital Wellbeing, you must download the Family Link app from the Google Play Store. You’ll have to set everything up on your phone, and then on your child’s phone.

Once everything is set up, you can monitor your child’s screen time, set time limits for them, disable their apps at bedtime, and more.


There are multiple reasons why spending too much time on your screen isn’t the best use of your time. For starters, too much screen time is usually linked with health issues. This is generally because we don’t tend to be physically active if we stare at a screen all day. Not to mention screens tend to affect our sleep. Also important is the fact that it eats your time, though. Instead of endlessly scrolling through social networks, you can spend that time with your family, working, exercising, and more.

There is no magic number of hours that can be considered healthy for screen time. According to the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults should limit their screen time to less than two hours a day (outside of work). Otherwise, people should spend that time exercising or doing other activities.

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