Readers offer their best tips for using scum-free soap, easily switching rows and columns in Excel charts, and using mobile phones as remote baby monitors without using minutes.
About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, 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. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at lifehacker.com.au.
Easily Switch Rows and Columns in Excel Charts
Purna shows us how to save time with a one-click axis-switching solution:
Often we make charts only to realise that the boss wants us to switch the rows and columns. For example, we might show sales and profits year-wise, but the big guy asks us to show the chart grouped by sales and profits.
There is a handy little trick in Excel where this can be done without a panicky run to the espresso machine or nearest excel guru. We can use the "switch rows / columns" button in Excel 2007 Design tab to do just this. (In Excel 2003, the button is in the toolbar area).
Use Mobile Phones as a Baby Monitor
Joe shows us how to save money on baby monitors by making your own:
I have a small child, and live in an apartment - so I never had much need for a baby monitor (since you can pretty much hear the kid anywhere in the apartment when she's screaming). However, I have had occasions where I'm alone with a sleeping child - where I'd like to be able to run downstairs (to accept a delivery), or out to my car, or even to a neighbour for a minute. In the past, I would hesitate to do it, since I couldn't hear the baby if she woke up.
I have a mobile phone with speakerphone - which also happens to have a friends & family allowance (unlimited calling to 5 numbers), my home phone being one of them. I have a cordless handset, that also has a speakerphone. Now, if I need to run out for a minute - I'll call my mobile phone from my home phone, put the cordless phone in the baby's room, put both phones on speaker and mute the mobile phone. That way, if the baby cries, I'll hear her.
I realise that this isn't a legendary hack, but it is quick, and clever - and the range I get using this hack is far greater than the range of most baby monitors. Of course, I don't recommend leaving a sleeping child alone, and going far enough where it will take a long time to get back - but thought that this hack was pretty cool - and saved me the money I would have spent on a baby monitor for the rare occasions that I actually need one.
Put Your Calendar in Your Signature for Easy Scheduling
ThePioneer shows us how he keeps other people on top of his schedule:
Create a Link in your email signature that links to your GCAL. To make it look nice, use Bit.ly (or other site) and shorten it up and make it personal. Mine says "School Calendar" and it has gotten many compliments from people that I email. It's really handy for people to take a quick look and see when I'm available to meet.
Note that any calendars you want to share will have to be public on Google Calendar.
Avoid Soap Scum with Bath Gel
Photo by Andy Butkaj.
njefferson tips us off to a way to keep soap scum out of the bathtub:
If you use bath gel instead of bar soap, you will not have soap scum, at all! Synthetic soap does not have the ingredient that creates the soap scum, and reportedly all liquid soaps are synthetic. We have tried this for five months, after my wife made me start using Irish Spring gel instead of bars, and we have NO soap scum, at all!