How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Free Coding Lessons, DIY Grid-It Organizers, and Water-Based Document Disposal

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)


This week we’re looking at how you can score a free year of coding lessons, craft your own Grid-It gadget organizer, and how you can skip shredding sensitive documents if you’ve got a bucket on hand.

Free Coding Lessons


Samuel writes in with a tip to help fellow readers learn to code in the new year. He writes:

I’m a regular visitor to this site, and don’t know if I’m writing the right address but thought this info would be worth repeating.  A group called Codeacademy is offering a program called Code Year.  Basically, you send them your email, and they send a free programming lesson every week for the entire year (look like they’re starting out with JavaScript).  I signed up as a New Year’s Resolution, and thought there may be people who visit this site that would like to know.  Check Code Year for more details.

We took the site for a spin, the first set of lessons gets you started working with basic JavaScript, and we have to say it looks like a great resource for a non-coder to get started learning to work with programming languages. Nice find Samuel!

Create Your Own Grid-It Clone

Mark writes in with a DIY Grid-It clone:

I saw the link you guys shared back in November on how to make your own Grid-It clone. The Grid-It inside an old book was pretty fancy looking, I have to admit, but I like things easy and with duct-tape involved. A few months ago I made a Grid-It clone following a tutorial I found on YouTube. You can check it out here. You won’t have a fancy old-school book cover on your Grid-It when you’re done but it will look more true to the original.

We checked out the video, Mark. We can totally see why the guy in the YouTube video would make his own—$75 shipping to Sweden? That’s crazy.

Destroy Documents with a Bucket of Water


Nick writes in with his DIY paper destroying tip:

I never get around to shredding the papers that need to be shredded… I always end up throwing them in a plastic waste can under my desk with the intention of eventually shredding them. Last weekend we had an unseasonably warm day and I figured I’d haul the paper shredder and can out onto the deck and at least get a little sunshine while I shredded them all. I got the can out onto the deck, went back for the shredder, got distracted helping my wife with something, and forgot all about the project. A few hours later there was a huge rain storm and the can was completely filled with water. I just left it out there for the weekend and figured I’d deal with it later. Come Monday night, the water had so saturated the paper that it was just a giant pulpy mess. I laid the can on its side to let the water drain out and once it was all relatively dry it was like a giant block of wood pulp. There was no way to peel any of it apart in such a way that you could actually read the documents.

I did a little digging around online to see if other people had experimented with the water-disposal method and it turns out it’s an old Japanese method for destroying paper (in fact you can add powdered dish detergent to the water to accelerate the process). If you never get around to shredding or you hate the sound of the paper shredder, a bucket of water works just as well!

If you have the outdoor space to dunk and dry a big pile of paper before tossing it in the recycling bin, this seems like a pretty clever and low-noise way to trash a lot of sensitive documents at once. Thanks for sharing, Nick!

Have a clever tip to share? Shoot an email to and check back next Thursday.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/12/12

Comments (9)

  1. mackers

    My memory is to low for my webcam,can you tell me what I have & what I need?

    Thank you, Brian

  2. Barney Farcus

    People also use a similar method to destroying papers in a bucket of water to make ‘wood bricks’. It helps to put in some Borax (available in the laundry section of the store) to keep bugs from eating the bricks.

    To make it stronger, toss in a little cement and sand, but not so much it makes it hard to stir together. If you take a some boards, place it on the ground, and pour the ‘mix’ into it, it will shrink a bit as it dries.

    Check out or if you want to really get into it!

  3. Mike Carter

    Re: “Destroy Documents with a Bucket of Water”
    Yes, this does the trick. The next logical step for “greenies” and organic gardeners would be how to mulch that paper glob into soil enhancing material. DIY needs a bit more focus on this. Recycling is no longer a quirky, post-hippie, “in” thing; it’s becoming a necessity.

  4. Steve Furse

    This is OK as far as it goes. But how do you get rid of the pulp? And my emphasis is on getting rid of it. Recycling is OK (be specific please), but not at all a requirement.

    Thank you.

  5. Graham

    @Steve Furse
    The pulp is just paper mass, so recycle it (when dry) with your cardboard and newspapers.

  6. manuel matz

    Paper Mache the thing;you just need Elmers glue people!

  7. lu

    if you have a wood stove use it as start the wood stove

  8. Steve R.

    Soaking paper in water is one of the first steps used for paper recycling, so either bring it to a recycle facility or dispose of with your weekly recycling pickup.

  9. Ushindi

    Just tried my first lesson at the Codeacademy – interesting as hell to someone who knows nothing of writing any type of code whatsoever.
    I’m now signed up for lessons – thanks.

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!