From The Tips Box: Faster Browsing, Local Businesses, Wish Lists

From The Tips Box: Faster Browsing, Local Businesses, Wish Lists

Readers offer their best tips for getting the quickest browsing experience out of bookmarks, checking out local businesses using Google Maps, and setting up family wish lists for holidays and birthdays.

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? Email it to tips at

Use IP Addresses in Bookmarks for Fast Browsing

rovert.haegenschlatt shows us another way to shave a few milliseconds off our page loading time:

When I bookmark commonly accessed websites such as Google, instead of typing the web address into the bookmark, I type in the IP address instead. This way, I can get around DNS and makes my surfing a bit faster.

To find the IP address of a specific site, you can use the ping command in your OS’s command line program (i.e. ping You can also do it in the address bar of your browser if it supports custom search engines. Also note that this only works for the domain itself –’s IP address will just take you to, for example – also, some sites (like Lifehacker, for some reason) just plain don’t work for some reason or another (at least when I tried it this morning). Pretty useful for some bookmarks, though.

Use Google Maps to Find Popular Local Businesses

soldstatic lets us know how to find local businesses in other communities:

There’s a google maps labs tool that puts a * in your search bar and searches for it. Kind of stupid, but what IS cool is that if you go to a residential neighbourhood and search for *, you’re likely to see some peoples’ home-based small businesses pop up. In Lenexa, KS my own small DJ biz popped up, but also a lady that does flowers who I’m going to contact about doing flowers for my own wedding.

Local small and home based businesses usually cost less than the big names, and you usually get more too. I’m all about bang for the buck, and this is a neat idea to find some other small businesses you may not have known you needed.

keep in mind, neighborhoods are NOT equal. Certain areas likely won’t have very many reputable businesses, small or big.

Use Wiki Software to Organise Christmas Wish Lists

dongola7 shares his family’s Christmas wish list method:

We’re now using a mediawiki installation to host all of the wish lists for my family.

Over the holidays, I set up an individual wish list for each of my family members and seeded the lists with their e-mailed Christmas lists (that way they would have a good starting point). Each wish list belongs to the “Wish List” category, making it easy to quickly find all of the pages.

For the holidays, each family member kept their wish list up-to-date. The rest of us used the discussion pages to list what we had bought or discuss future gift ideas. The owner of the list knew not to look at the discussion until _after_ the holidays.

This kept us organized and worked very well. We’ll be using the same system year-round for birthdays and other minor holidays.

Use Bubble Wrapped Mailers as a Laptop Sleeve

Stan sends along some instructions for a super cheap laptop sleeve:

I needed a laptop sleeve for my iBook, but didn’t feel like waiting days for a glorified computer glove. Using a bubble-mailer is a cheap replacement if you plan on carrying your laptop in a schoolbag.

The bubble mailer itself is a sufficient sleeve for the duties of a backpack. I wouldn’t want to drop-test it, but so far have no complaints. I also added a simple Apple logo to the front using transparent printer sheets. If you don’t already own these, it might be cost-prohibitive (at least in the sense of using a bubble-mailer to protect a laptop.) I bought my pack in the clearance section of Staples. My Mac is an iBook, so I picked a representative apple. Choose yours accordingly.

The last modification was the strip of Velcro. The section at the opening comes with a plastic strip protecting the sticky side. Over time the plastic strip begins to peel away and defaults to melding with the other side, turning your sleeve into a ready-to-mail package. I don’t want to mail my laptop, so I put Velcro on to repalce the glue strip.

That’s it! I’ve been using it for a couple weeks so far and it’s working great. I hear the occasional bubble pop once in a while, but for a total cost of three dollars it’s worth it.

Be sure to check out Stan’s original blog post (linked above) for more tips on the sleeve, including putting stylish logos on the front.


  • I really wonder about the value of distracting oneself to spend 30 seconds looking up and typing an IP address that might not work and will save precious little time if it does. Surely there are client side DNS caching solutions that handle this automatically for all addresses.

    The reason it doesn’t work for every site is that 1 IP address might serve multiple domains, so the domain part of the url becomes important for the web server to know what site you want if it’s configured as a virtual host.

  • What Mr Barnes said. If the site is running filters etc etc to direct content to certain servers when going to certain domains, then if you just type in the IP address, nothing is going to happen.

    I also have to wonder what, if any time is saved by ridding yourself of DNS lookups given that you should have a local cache. I must admit, I have seen no benefits when browsing by IP.

  • The most important thing about IP addressing is that it’s not always static. You really need to have a browser plugin/app/bookmarklet that can do this for you.

    I remember trying this trick thanks to a PC mag ten years ago. It’s a total crock and waste of time.

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