3 counterintuitive tips

I love Lifehacker’s tips. Especially the odd ones that make you wonder how people came up with them.

There are a plethora of odd tips and tricks out there on the Interwebs. Here are three of my favourites.

1. Put your breaking harddrive in the freezer.

“Many hard drive failures are caused by worn parts that no longer align properly, making it impossible to read data from the drive. Lowering the drive’s temperature causes its metal and plastic internals to contract ever so slightly. Taking the drive out of the freezer, and returning it to room temperature can cause those parts to expand again.”

2. Put your broken video card in the oven.

“Solder joints sometimes crack over time, cutting the connections between electronic components and causing hardware failure. Expose those joints to constant heat, in an oven set to 200 to 275 degrees centigrade, and the lead will melt, clearing out any cracks and reconnecting the joints. After the card has seen enough baking, leave it to cool for a few hours, and it should be working once back in a computer.”

3. Put your drenched mobile phone in rice.

“Use a desiccant to wick away any leftover moisture. The most convenient choice is uncooked rice. Just leave the phone (and its disconnected battery) submerged in a bowl of grains overnight. If you’re worried about rice dust getting inside your phone, you can instead use the packets of silica gel that often come stuffed in the pockets of new clothes. But acting fast is far more important than avoiding a little dust, so don’t waste time shopping if you don’t already have a drawer full of silica gel.”

Join the (right) queue

A perennial frustration of mine is picking the wrong lane on the highway, or the wrong queue at the shopping centre. You make a choice only to realise, minutes later, that you’re stuck in the slow lane.

I can’t help you out with the highway scenario. It’s a mystery. But I can point you in the right direction for the shops – thanks to this Lifehacker post which links to this little mathematical analysis..

“When you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person!”

I don’t have to worry about this quite so much now that our local Woolies has a self service lane. I think people are scared of the technology, I haven’t had to queue for it yet.

Ice magic

Lifehacker posted a list of tips for getting a coffee on the cheap (mostly from Starbucks or other mega-chains).

But they had a couple of tips for those of us who know that the cheapest coffee is the coffee you do yourself at home. The more do it yourself the better…

I particularly liked this tip:

If you’re an iced coffee fan, but you hate how it gets watered down, you can make ice cubes out of black coffee and use them instead of ice.

Homebaked: Cookies in the car

Did you know that you can bake biscuits in your car? Me neither.

It’s summer in the US so the US Lifehacker is featuring great tips for "surviving the heat".

Here’s a car cookie recipe (if you don’t just want to buy pre-mixed cookie dough)… here’s the original source of this baked goodness.

Car-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Air lines

One of my favourite things about Lifehacker is that it will often provide a little gem of information amidst a bigger piece of information.

Lifehacker Australia’s editor Angus Kidman has been trying to live out of just one bag for a couple of weeks – because airlines are now taxing checked luggage – which has been an interesting experiment in and of itself. This post is a list of small things he learned on the way

And this is my favourite…

“Qantas never has enough ginger beer on its domestic flights. If you like ginger beer, you’ll need a seat near the front.”

I’d never considered picking a seat on a plane based on having the full range of menu items available (or in fact being close to the front so that you get off quicker)… I’m much more concerned about trying to snatch an exit row seat.

Any flying tips you’d care to share?

Also, my other favourite tidbit of info that the writer picked up was this one:

Far too many hotels still think it’s acceptable to offer International Roast coffee.

Egg centric

Lifehacker is often full of useful tips and tricks to make your life better. Their posts can be pretty random and eclectic – today there’s a scientific analysis of the preparation of boiled eggs with a link to a flash application developed by someone at the University of Oslo.

Here is the formula.

Here’s a picture of the flash app which does all your eggciting calculations for you- and a link to a translated version of the original page.



Thanks to my father I’ve spent the last few weeks (actually, probably my whole life) discovering my inner geek – thanks mostly to –  which I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Anyway, in that short time i’ve significantly improved my “internet” experience through Firefox add-ons. If you’re not using Firefox 3 – you should be. Firefox’s strength is that it’s incedibly customisable. So here are my 5 favourite add ons:

1. Better Gmail 2.0 – makes Gmail more awesome by scripting out all the ugly, pointless stuff and applying funky skins.
2. Firebug – a funky little design tool that has been particularly useful for me and my wedmastery at work – it allows you to look at the elements that make up a page (design and content) and edit/tweak them in real time – any site, any time – which makes tweaking your own site, and stealing things from others a real breeze.
3. Piclens – a very, very cool image gallery viewing plug in. get it. Seriously cool.
4. Clipmarks – I’ve used this for a few posts lately – if you see something you like on a webpage you can highlight it and send it straight to your blog. Awesomeness. 
5. Ctrl + Tab – allows flicking between tabs within the browser in a breeze. I used to hit alt+tab trying to switch between tabs and would find myself increasingly frustrated when it changed windows on me. But no more.

Honourable mentions go to Delicious Bookmarks – which now make up the “what I’m reading” links in the sidebar, Facebook’s toolbar – which keeps you up to date on Facebooky goodness, if I could get it to work I’d love the FireNes plug in that brings about 1000 Nintendo Entertainment System games into your browser. I’d also recommend a number of plug ins that allow downloading from YouTube – but I’d have to pick the best.

I’m using the AeroFox skin in full screen mode and I feel like I’m in the future right now. There’s also a program out there that reskins Windows XP into Windows Vista like goodness – all the nice design elements without the performance sapping components.

I’ll probably put links up to all of these at some point – but right now I have to go. Farewell.

Very useful websites

I have been trawling the internet a little bit today – I’m in limbo on a couple of work related projects and I came across these two sites (well dad pointed me to one of them) – that are possibly the coolest sites on the internet. I can’t believe I hadn’t found them before. 

This one – is a series of step by step instructions to just about everything – from uber geeky through to ultra practical

This one – is mostly geeky but all about improving productivity and functionality of our tech filled lives. There’s also an Australian version

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