Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time to Start Thinking Outdoor Home Improvement Projects

With Winter Finally and Officially Behind us It's Time to Start Thinking about Outdoor Home Improvement Projects

By Mark J. Donovan

Winter is officially over. Thank God. It's been one heck of a winter. So much for having to listen to the Global Warming politicians and all of their hot air. Now that I think about it, it's probably their own hot air that's been the leading cause and concern for their fears of global warming. Being an Electrical Engineer since my college days I've always believed in James Joule's "Conservation of Energy" law and the related "Conservation of Mass" law by Antoine-Laurent. Basically they mean that the amount of energy and mass in a closed loop system, e.g. Earth, remain constant. Thus, there could be periods of time of increased heat, or cold, on the Earth depending upon various conditional changes in the Earth's closed loop system. Yes, there could be outside forces that influence the Earth, such as the Sun or a meteorite hitting the Earth, but factors such as those are certainly not man-made, no matter how much the politicians try to argue it is. Enough said on that subject though.

The main reason I started to write this blog post was that I wanted to remind people that with the warmer weather it's time to start acting on those outdoor home improvement plans you've been formulating this long, cold winter. Weather you are planning to grow a garden this year or start your lawn off on the right foot, it's time to start buying the seed and fertilizer now. It's also a good time to break out the yard tools, particularly the lawn mower and give it a tune up. If you can't do it, then send it to a shop that can. One of the most frustrating things is to go out to mow the lawn and find you can't start the lawnmower.

Outdoor home improvements are not limited to the yard. Spring is also a good time to take a look at your home's roof and house siding. Check if the asphalt shingles have been damaged during the winter months and if they are in need of replacing. Also check the house siding for damage and whether or not it is in need of a paint job. If so, start ordering paint now so when the weather gets a bit warmer you can tackle the project promptly, before the weather gets too hot.

Check your deck as well. Make sure the deck boards are not rotting and have any popped nails or fasteners. You may also need to refinish the deck, particularly with the brutal winter we just went through.

So get those outdoor home improvement plans out and start to rev your DIY engines. Spring is here and its time to go outside and get to work!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Planning a Home Addition? Then Read This on Estimating Room Addition Costs

Pointers to a Excellent Source for Building a Room Addition and Estimating Costs

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are planning a home addition project then you will want to read this article on estimating house addition costs from It provides a plethora of useful tips and considerations for the homeowner that enable him or her to come up with a back of the envelope estimate of expected room addition costs.

The article also recommends purchasing a Room Addition Contractors Hiring Guide/Bid Sheet that can help a homeowner find the right contractor for the project.

So whether you're looking to add on to your house a new bedroom, family room or sunroom this article on room addition costs is worth taking a look at.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Replacing Rotted Out House Apron Trim and House Siding Clapboards this Weekend

Roof Run-Off has Caused the Exterior Apron Trim and Clapboards to Rot Near House Entranceway Steps

By Mark J. Donovan

This weekend I have another home repair project to tackle. I’ll be replacing a 10 foot length of old exterior house trim board and some masonite house siding. More specifically I’ll be replacing a section of my home’s  trim apron and couple of rows of house siding that sit directly underneath the front entrance way of my house. Water that runs off the roof and splashes off the granite steps bounces up onto the house siding and has caused some minor wood rot. Approximately a 6 foot section of house apron trim, along with a few rows of house siding near the steps, have become punky and rotted. Hopefully the sill is not rotted behind it. At least from the inside the sill looks in good shape. I expect the sill may be a little damp on the outer side, but I doubt there will be any real wood rot. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

To tackle this project I first need to slide about a 1,500 pound granite slab back from the house. The granite slab is the top piece of the staircase abutting the house entrance.  I need to slide it back about a foot so that I can get access to the rotted apron trim. I bought a three foot long crow bar to move the granite slab and have already tested its use. I was able to move the granite slab back a couple of inches with little effort.

Once the granite slab has been pushed back I’ll use a small power hand saw to cut vertical lines in the apron trim for the section I want to remove. I’ll then use a pry bar and hammer to remove the old apron. Once the old apron is out, I’ll inspect for water sill damage and if lucky replace the old apron section with a PVC based trim product known in the industry as AZEK. This material won’t rot and is paintable.

After fastening and painting the new piece of apron trim, I’ll then remove a few rows of the house siding back about two to three feet from the door. I’ll then splice in new pieces of masonite siding making sure to stagger the seams as I work my way up the house. 

Prior to installing the new masonite house siding, I will replace the rusted out drip edge that hangs over the apron trim. I’ll also make sure to use a silicone caulk sealer on all cut ends and above the drip edge to prevent any water from splashing up and getting behind the wood.

With any luck I will complete the entire project in a day.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Release of Mark Donovan's Debut Novel "Nano Surveillance"

My debut novel, "Nano Surverillance", is now available in paperback and Ebook form at and Barnes and Noble.

"Nano Surveillance" is about a group of engineers and a news reporter that expose the corrupt alliance between a ruthless President, a national press corps, and foreign billionaire allies, using nanotechnology surveillance devices/materials they've developed. If you like Michael Crichton, Ayn Rand and/or Clive Cussler you'll fully enjoy this fictional book.

“Nano Surveillance”, a fast paced political techno-thriller. “Nano Surveillance" is a 352 page novel that offers a frightening glimpse into the possible future of surveillance using nanotechnology. Where a government, or others, can silently infect specific targets or an entire population with bio-nanoscopic material that renders its unwitting victims’ lives an open book to be overseen and controlled.

“Nano Surveillance” is a technical thriller that takes the reader on a journey to places all over the western hemisphere. It’s also replete with aeronautical scenes that aviation enthusiasts will fully enjoy.

Set in the northwestern part of the United States, engineer and pilot Dave Henson and his team of high tech entrepreneurs operate a nanotechnology surveillance company out of McCall, Idaho. After witnessing the economic collapse of the country, Dave and his team are intent on reversing the political and economic direction of the country. Ultimately they plan to bring a new level of transparency between the federal government and the public.

To do so they’ve developed fantastic new nano surveillance technology to expose the corrupt alliance between the current political administration, the national press corps, and a handful of international billionaires with global political and financial agendas.

While NSurv, and news reporter Dana Cogswell, work to expose the corruption in Washington D.C., the President announces new plans to end global climate change and restore the country’s economy. However, the President’s plans run sinisterly deeper, and include the required use of personal tracking sensors to be installed in every automobile and product sold in the country. If the President’s plans become law, Henson’s team is convinced it will destroy the country and provide the government with unfettered surveillance of the public.
The NSurv team quickly finds itself intertwined in a deadly war with the President and his allies. As NSurv works to capture and report the ultimate story to topple the administration, the President and his allies stop at nothing to protect their self interests and to capture NSurv’s new surveillance technology.

“Nano Surveillance was a marvelous read…It held my interest during the entire fiction,” said Ken Admire, one of the first to read the novel.

 Availability and Pricing

“Nano Surveillance is available in paperback and ebook formats and can be purchased at and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are Google’s Penguin and Panda SEO Algorithms Hurting its Top Line?

Could there be a Correlation between Google’s Revenue Miss and its Cost-per-Click Decline

By Mark J. Donovan

There were a couple of interesting facts that came out of Google’s first quarter earnings report today. Facts that on the surface may seem positive or innocuous at best, but in reality could signal that there is something amiss at the leading search engine company. Google reported that they saw a 20% increase in paid clicks from the year before. They also reported the cost-per-click decreased 4% year-over-year and sequentially.

On the surface the 20% increase in paid clicks sounds great. However, the question that first came to my mind after reading this fact was why? Why would people be more frequently clicking on advertisements nowadays? Most people when browsing a webpage filled with advertisements have conditioned themselves to unconsciously ignore them. Moreover, internet browsers frequently block ads from even showing up on webpage results.

After thinking about this for awhile, I began to wonder if Google’s Penguin and Panda SEO algorithm changes over the past year or two have something to do with it. Trying to be objective here, I can’t help but notice that Google search engine results have declined dramatically over this same time frame. Consequently, I am wondering if people are finding themselves increasingly directed to useless websites, via Google search engine results, and then clicking on ads simply out of frustration and desperation to attempt to find what they are looking for.

Is this such a crazy notion? Maybe not when you also think about why the cost per click went down by 4%. Cost per click is what the advertiser is paying for the click every time a person clicks on their Google Adwords advertisement. If the cost per click is declining, then it means advertisers are not bidding as high on keywords as they use to. So again, the question is why?

It could simply be due to a declining economy and tighter advertising budgets. However, it could also be due to the fact that advertisers are feeling that they are not getting as decent a return on investment in their advertising budget as they once were from Google Adwords, and consequently are not bidding as high on keywords. If this latter reason is the case, then it could be the result of advertisers experiencing higher click rates while at the same time experiencing lower conversion rates. Conversion rates relate clicks to actual sales generated.

Based upon this back-of-the-envelope analysis and theory, I can’t help but wonder if Google’s Penguin and Panda search algorithm engine enhancements are now beginning to impact Google’s top line revenue figures. If so, for Google’s stockholders’ sake, let’s hope they change their search engine algorithms yet again, before they destroy their own business model, like they did to so many thousands of small companies over the past 2 years.