From The Tips Box: iPhone Videos, Hard Drive Sleeves, Alarm Clocks

From The Tips Box: iPhone Videos, Hard Drive Sleeves, Alarm Clocks

Readers offer their best tips for playing just the audio of video files on the iPhone, cushioned sleeves for external hard drives, and making sure your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning.

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

Play Just the Audio of iPhone Video Files

Photo by Dan Taylor.

Rick Betita shows us how to stop the video from playing and draining battery on iPhones:

One of the most annoying things about the iPhone is that you can’t listen to the audio of a video file unless the video is playing. Let’s say I’m watching a TEDTalk video podcast where the visuals don’t add much to the content: if I lock my phone or press the home button, playback will stop (rather than continue underneath like an audio file).

To get around it, I lock my phone while I’m watching the video (stopping the playback) and double-tap the home button to bring up playback controls on the locked screen. From there, I can press play and lock the phone again, allowing me to listen to my video file with the screen locked.

If I want to do something else on my iPhone while the audio of the video plays in the background, I press the home button during video playback and lock the screen immediately afterwards. Then I double-tap the home screen as before, hit play, and unlock the phone. It brings me to my home screen while the audio continues to play.

Use Drink Insulators as Hard Drive Sleeves

kamosaurus gives us a nice clever use for our portable external hard drives:

I have found that the collapsible koozies are perfect cheap sleeves for portable external hard drives. They fit snug and they give you a little “bump” protection without you having to go buy an expensive portable hard drive case. I’ve never had a case where the hard drive got too hot from being in the koozie but it’s more about the transport anyways.

The best part of all is that they are cheap and customizable!

Move Alarm Clocks Around to Ensure Waking in the Morning

Photo by Bernt Rostad.

virtourist shares his tips for waking up in the morning:

The problem with my alarm clock is that I’ve gotten so used to the ‘off’ button that I can turn off the first alarm and cancel the second in my sleep. I have a roommate, so I can’t do something ridiculous like put the alarm clock on the other side of the room.

My solution: Wrap the alarm clock in a t shirt and always place the clock in a different orientation/location on the nightstand. That way, I have to be awake and coherent enough to do some searching for the off button without just using muscle memory.

grewal12 adds bhis solution to the mix:

I have the same thing going on…kind of. I have two alarm clocks. One is the regular kind, right next to my night stand. The other one is my phone which is on the other side of the room. They both go off at the same time. BUT, I have another alarm on my phone that goes off 15 minutes later. So I have to go through the menus and stuff to turn it off. Because if I don’t, it goes off while I’m in the shower and wakes everyone else up.

Take Bathroom Breaks on Different Floors to Get Heart Rate Up

Photo by Russell J. Smith.

fisher.seth lets us know how he keeps from feeling lethargic at work:

To get my heart rate up multiple times during my otherwise very sedentary working day, I only take restroom breaks on the ground floor of a five-story building (of which I’m located on the 5th floor). I take five flights of stairs down, use the restroom, then back up the stairs, two-at-a-time, as quick as possible. After a quick stop at the top to catch my breath, I’m back at my desk within 3 minutes.


    • I always have my nokia 6230 as an alarm.
      I change the alarm tone every odd week so that I never get used to it and sleep through it. That way I can have it quieter and not wake everyone else up.

      It also has an auto-snooze function after 2 min ringing.

      the best thing is that there is only one button that turns the alarm off – the rest all are snooze so one has to be functional in order to turn off. I also do not need to set the alarm every night, I can set it to ring every weekday and let me sleep in on the weekend.

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