Saturday, November 17, 2007
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The Week's Best Posts

This week’s best posts include: Speed up White Pages Searches Sometimes the simple hacks are the best – a reader shows us how to speed up searches on the White Pages website by using the text version of the site. Find Candidates, Polling Booths with Google Maps The election is right around the corner – but Google Maps can help you track down the vital information to get you to your nearest polling booth informed and ready to vote! Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800 “If the high price tag for Apple hardware has kept you from buying a Mac but you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get adventurous, you can build your own “Hackintosh”–a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard.” Hackintosh vs. Mac Pro vs. MacBook Pro Benchmarks “How does my Hackintosh stack up to the Apple-built competition? To find out, I put my Hackintosh, a Mac Pro, and a MacBook Pro through the paces.” Top 10 Quicksilver Plug-ins “Launching applications and documents is just Quicksilver’s gateway drug: The more you get used to doing things with Quicksilver, the more things you want to do with it.” Extend the Life of Your Razor Blades “Sick of dropping cash on new, pricey razor blades every few weeks because you can only get a couple weeks of use from a new blade before it shaves about as well as sandpaper?” De-Pixelize Your Images with VectorMagic “Web site VectorMagic turns virtually any image into vector art that can be resized as much as you want without any nasty pixelation–perfect for creating your scanned signature, for example.” Double Your Productivity with a Serial Workflow “While there’s something to be said for multitasking, a serial workflow–completing one task after another in order of priority–can be much more conducive to getting your work done.” Set Up a Self-Cleaning Mac with Hazel “Let’s take a closer look at how Hazel can keep your Mac’s hard drive free of files you don’t need anymore.”

Track Recurring Tasks with Sciral Consistency

Windows and Mac OS X: Task manager Sciral Consistency tracks to-do’s that don’t have hard and fast deadlines, but need to be done on a regular basis. Keep on top of when it’s time to clean out the fish tank, balance your checkbook, get a haircut, an oil change, a teeth cleaning, or simply when too much time has passed since you called Mom with Consistency, which creates a time-based horizontal grid of days. You enter a task and the minimum and maximum amount of time that should pass between each time you do it, and Consistency marks which tasks need doing and which you’ve still got time on for a given day. Sciral Consistency is a free download (with limited use) for Windows and Mac OS; a licence will set you back $25.

Sciral Consistency [Sciral via 43F]

Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week

If a four hour workweek isn’t a possibility for you (and it’s not for most of us), CEO Michael Hyatt offers a few ways to achieve more realistic time-savings: 10 hours less work per week. He lists a few strategies he uses to cut down work time, like skipping unimportant meetings, stopping projects short that aren’t worth finishing, and taking control of your own calendar by proactively scheduling when you’re getting work done. There’s no magic wand you can wave to lessen your workload, but these realistic practices anyone can start today. How do you reduce your work time (and increase your life time)? Let us know in the comments. How to Shave Ten Hours Off Your Work Week [From Where I Sit]

The Trusted Trio in O Magazine

Oprah Winfrey gets her life hacking on in the December issue of O Magazine, which includes Lifehacker’s very own Trusted Trio email organisation system! In a section entitled “24 Shortcuts: Do everything faster, better, easier,” there’s an “Organizing Email in a Snap” item (page 336) that lists our three folder system for getting your email under control. Ok, so the term “life hack” never appears, but still! After the jump, check out a scan of the page.

Master Your DSLR Camera, Part 1: Program Mode

Editor: When photographer and reader Scott D. Feldstein offered to write a tutorial on how to put your digital SLR camera to good use this holiday season, we couldn’t pass it up. Our new Canon’s dial never budged from Auto mode—until now.

You ponied up for a digital SLR camera because you hated the shutter lag on your little point-and-shoot. The good news: Your photos have improved! The bad news? You know they could be even better—if only you dared to let go of the camera’s “auto” mode. It’s as if you’ve been creeping around the neighbourhood in a new Mustang using only first gear. No more! It’s time to take control, hit the highway, and learn what you can do in program mode.

Best of Luck to Wendy!

All of us here at Lifehacker are sad to say goodbye to our fearless weekend editor, Wendy Boswell, who’s escaping our clutches to concentrate on client work (and actually get a weekend or two off!). Wendy’s an old-timer: She’s been writing for us in some capacity for over two years now. We’ll miss her upbeat (virtual) smile, search fu, and Simpsons references. Good luck, Wendy!

Put Your Finances on Autopilot

The money blogger at Retire at 45 stopped worrying about paying bills on time using automatic transactions and overdraft protection. He writes: My checkbook has been on financial autopilot for so long now, it’s hard for me to imagine it any other way. I spend almost no time at all paying bills, timing my cash flow, or remembering due dates. This enables me to focus more time on my investments, my career, and my family.

He uses his Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) as his checking account’s overdraft protection—a controversial choice that works better for folks who don’t overdraft that often, and who will pay back the HELOC right away when it’s been hit. See also how I automate my finances.

Financial Autopilot [Retire At 45 via Get Rich Slowly]

Calculate with Spotlight

Mac OS X Leopard only: Run quick calculations from Leopard’s Spotlight search box. Enter your formula and the answer will appear as you type, similar to how it works in Firefox’s Google search box. Google’s implementation is a tad better; it can do metric conversion (try 24km in miles), but Spotlight’s good for pure math.

Spotlight [via Hawk Wings]

Steam-Clean the Microwave with Vinegar

Before you start holiday cooking next week, get rid of the burnt-on splatters inside the microwave with a simple technique: Clean the microwave by boiling a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar until it steams up. Wipe clean.

Vinegar’s an all-around useful solution for cleaning; you can also fluff your blankets, de-mildew towels, and more with it.

Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of [Amazon via Cool Tools]

Stop Death by PowerPoint

Presentation consultant Alexei Kapterev put together a must-see slideshow on creating great presentations. Hit the next button above to flip through it and see how to stop killing your audience with boring PowerPoint presentations (no audio, the slides speak for themselves). This one’s essential (and entertaining) viewing for students and professionals alike. See also how to rock your presentation with the right tools and apps.

[via From Where I Sit]

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