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Tech Review: Apps to help with Do it yourself home projects

The long cold winter meant many home improvement projects were put on the back burner. But now that spring is finally here, it's time to break out the blueprints. These apps may help ensure your DIY dreams won't end up DOA.

Handyman Calculator

(Android, free)

You may need a calculator just to add up the number of specialized and offbeat calculators this app offers. Along with basic feet-and-inches, metric conversions and fractions calculators, the app has functions that help you figure out costs and what you'll need to install drywall, carpet, wallpaper, tile and much more. Despite its number of functions, the app is easy to use and nicely designed. iOS users can check out the similar Handy Man DIY ($1.99).


(iOS, Android; free)

Nothing's less fun than getting down on your hands and knees and dragging a tape measure around your house to record the sizes of your rooms, walls and doors. With this app, you let your mobile device's camera do the work. MagicPlan creates instant floor plans and can map your whole home quickly. Most basic functions are free, but in-app purchases allow you to save the plans in various formats.

DIY Watch

(iOS, Android; free)

Need some ideas? Get some inspiration from the pros and shows on the DIY Network. This app, which is updated daily, offers full episodes and clips from the cable-TV channel. You will need to input the credentials you use for your pay-TV provider to access the app's content. Local providers include Cablevision, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon FiOS.

Home Design 3D

(iOS, Android; free)

This free version of the popular home design and remodeling app is more of a demo, because you can't save your projects and it is cluttered with annoying ads. An in-app purchase of $6.99 upgrades you to the full version that has an array of functions, including the ability to draw floor plans and drag and drop various items to see how they will fit. But even the full version is clunky and hard to use, although with patience you can design various rooms and see how they may look when completed.


Tech bytes


Super news for Mario fans

After long resisting making games for mobile phones, Nintendo will develop apps featuring its iconic characters for iOS and Android devices. The apps will be new and not versions of original games such as Super Mario Bros., although iconic characters Mario and Luigi are expected to be featured in new adventures. -- Los Angeles

Yahoo unveils 'on-demand' passwords

Yahoo is offering a new feature it calls "on-demand passwords." Instead of memorizing a password, a user gets a new verification code texted to a mobile device every time they want to log in. Security experts, however, say if someone else uses your phone and knows your Yahoo user name, that person can easily get into your account by simply asking Yahoo to text a verification code. -- PETER KING

Too much sharing

Those cute pictures of babies and toddlers proud parents share on social networks may exact an unintended price. University of Michigan researchers say the practice -- which they call "sharenting" -- poses safety and privacy risks. It also may prove embarrassing and lead to cyberbullying as the child gets older. Their advice: "Parents are responsible for their child's privacy and need to be thoughtful about how much they share on social media." -- PETER KING


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