From The Tips Box: Ditching Email Limitations, DIY File Holders

From The Tips Box: Ditching Email Limitations, DIY File Holders

Readers show us how to escape the limitations of university (and work) e-mail accounts, turn a dryer rack into a file holder and remind us that music is a great timer in a pinch.

Time Yourself With Music

Photo by 37Hz

Michael wrote in with a neat reminder that songs can be a used to time things in a pinch:

There is a red-light that I often sit waiting for near my home in Tennessee, and I have always had the impression that it is a VERY long light. My watch doesn’t have a timer on it, but one day I realised that I could start a song on my MP3 player and measure the amount of time the light took by tracking the amount of time that elapsed on the MP3 player. Since that moment, I have started using the MP3 player to track other times as well. It works very well and I always have it on me.

It wouldn’t be too difficult to create a playlist of songs based on length and use that when you need to time something without a timer/alarm or the ability to watch a clock. For example, Coldplay’s Shiver is just a few seconds over the five minutes mark and a wonderful tune at that.

Turn a DVD/CD Spindle into a iPod dock

Christopher shows off how he repurposed a DVD-R spindle:

I got ambitious and decided to make an iPod dock today. Basically this is the cover of a DVD-R spindle cut in half at a slight angle. I cut a hole in which to mount the actual docking piece included with the iPod at the lowest point of the slope on the spindle cover then attached it in place with nothing but hot glue. I also had to widen the hole in the docking pieces base so that I could snugly fit the data cable in. It was quite snug, but it still popped out when I plugged in the iPod, so that too was latched in place with hot glue. Overall, it was a very simple and fast project (less than an hour). I plan on going to my uncle’s later this week to make the bottom perfectly even with his large disc sander, then I’ll paint it white so it doesn’t look like total arse.

Turn a Dish Drainer into a Folder Holder

Michael has a neat trick using a dish rack:

My wife Elaine Fine came up with the great idea of using a dish drainer to hold working folders. Don’t laugh — it looks great and works well.

Get Google Groups Notifications for Single Threads

Rupert tells us about a feature he discovered in a Google Group thread:

Much of the time I find that I don’t want to subscribe to a Google group because I am only interested in the posts in threads that I reply to. However, in the membership settings for a group, there is no mention of how to set such a thing up.

To get email updates for just a single thread, simply open the thread, click on “options” underneath the title and then click on “Email updates to me”. Please note this is only available on Google Groups and not on Usenet forums.

Get Google Tasks in a Full Window View

Rupert writes in with a trick similar to something we’ve mentioned before:

If you are a bit of a Google Tasks junkie (like me) you can link to it directly with the following:

It then opens up in a full page in all its glory. It’s a nice, lightweight homepage since it doesn’t seem to load the entirety of Gmail or you can keyword bookmark it.

Escape the Limitations of University (or Work) E-mail Accounts

Cardcrusher drops us a reminder that there’s no reason to be limited by university e-mail storage:

I was reading an article in Time magazine about how Google and Microsoft are competing to provide email support to universities and colleges. Specifically, schools that provide their own email accounts are only able to provide very small inboxes in terms of megabytes, so they outsource to Google or Microsoft to get cheap or free email. I actually found a way around my university’s small inbox. I have a Gmail account to which I set my school account to forward. Mail goes straight to my main Gmail account so I don’t have to check it on their inconvenient student centre and it saves space in on the university server. Also I only have one email account to forward to my Blackberry.

It sounds like Cardcrusher’s university e-mail account not only forwards his e-mails, but deletes them as well. So be sure to check if yours will do the same, otherwise you’ll have to occasionally pop in there for a cleaning to prevent bounced e-mails.

Other than that, it seems that between IMAP, forwarding, and Gmail fixing that annoying “on behalf of” issue, there’s not even a reason to log into your oh-so-limited work or school e-mail account any more often than necessary to keep it active.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox (tips at, but for various reasons—maybe they’re a bit too niche, maybe we couldn’t find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn’t fit it in—the tip didn’t make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption.

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