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Geeky Valentine's Day: Hack Your Partner's Tech

Haven’t organised a Valentine’s Day present and want to share your love in a geeky way? Surprise your significant other by putting those romantic messages in the last place they’d expect to see them: their tech.

I’m not talking about sending her e-cards or something lame like that. There are a lot of things you can do that will surprise and melt the hearts of those less tech-savvy, and if you can get to their phone or PC without them noticing before the big day is over you still have a chance to make an impression. (And these are also good tricks for use outside the Valentine’s context — after all, you should be able to say “I love you” more than once a year.)

Create a Rotating Wallpaper Message

Both Windows and OS X allow you to rotate wallpapers on a regular interval, say 5 or 10 minutes. It’s great for those of us that can’t pick just one wallpaper, but you can also use it to send well-timed messages — especially if you know your significant other is going to be on their computer for a little while. To pull this off:

  1. Put together a string of two or three wallpaper-sized images that make a complete message. Something like:

    Wallpaper 1: Roses are red, violets are blue

    Wallpaper 2: The first time I saw you…

    Wallpaper 3: My heart just knew.*

    *Or something better. You get the idea.

    If you need to brush up on your Photoshop skills first, check out our complete guide to Photoshop.

  2. Put those images in a folder somewhere on your beau or belle’s hard drive that they won’t find immediately (in other words, not the desktop).
  3. On a Windows machine, right-click on the desktop and choose Personalize. Click on desktop background, then choose “Browse” and browse to your newly created folder. If your valentine uses a Mac, head to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver, hit the plus sign in the bottom left corner, and choose your folder of images.
  4. Under “Change picture”, choose an interval. I’d choose something short like every 30 seconds or every minute, so they don’t get bored. I’d also make sure your images have vastly different colour schemes, so even if they have a window open, they can tell their wallpaper has changed and will go back to the desktop to check it out.
  5. Sneakily return their laptop and wait!

With luck, they’ll log on to check their email/send a Facebook message/get driving directions and see your cute message!

Send Sweet, Automated Text Messages

While it’s a bit less surprising, the sending of cute text messages throughout the day is a classic, that you can pull off with a tech-savvy twist that won’t distract you from work. Instead of manually sending a bunch of romantic messages, you can schedule them to send later with something like previously mentioned Auto SMS for Android, or biteSMS for jailbroken iPhones. If you’re using a feature phone or a non-jailbroken iPhone, you have fewer options — though if you find a good web-based one, share it with us in the comments — but setting a few alarms throughout the day and pre-planning your messages can help make the whole thing a little easier on you, too.

And if you want to make this one a bit more unique, you could try making a customised heart candy image using the ACME Heart Maker. Then (again, with access to his or her computer or phone), you could add that heart image as the avatar for you in their address book. That way, when you send them their Valentine’s Day text messages, they get a little bonus surprise message along with it!

Make A V-Day Playlist Interspersed with Cute Messages

Lastly, if they have an iPod or other MP3 player that they use to listen to music, you can sneak into their media player and insert a few spoken messages into their favourite playlists. Or, better yet, you can make a Valentine’s Day playlist with your romantic messages and make it easy to spot, so they’ll listen to it at some point during the day. If you’ve already got a preferred method of recording audio on your computer, use that, but for the rest of us, here’s the easiest way to do this:

Head to web site Record MP3 and record your message. It will spit out an MP3 of your recording, and you can put that into any media player you want (like iTunes). Then, just put it into their playlist of choice, sync it up with their iPod, and hope for the best! If their music taste is a bit more unpredictable on any given day, you can try inserting it into multiple playlists to make sure they hear it — or even start playing it so that when they turn the device on, it’s the first track that pops up.

Got any romantic geek plans of your own you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments.


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