From The Tips Box: iPhone Podcasts, Start Menu Folders, Failing Drives

Readers offer their best tips for listening to podcasts on the iPhone, putting custom folders in the Windows 7 start menu, and getting data off failing hard drives.

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. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Quickly Download Updated Podcasts on Your iPhone

4lex lets us know how to get podcasts downloaded over the air more easily in iOS 4:

Over-the-air podcast tip for iPhones: make a folder of podcasts in google reader and access that folder with a mobile app like reeder (iphone) for OTA listening. iOS4 already recognises Reeder as an audio source in the iPod widget, multitasking audio is only a few lines of code away. if accessed through Safari mobile, you already DO have multitasking, the advantage over using the iTunes store on the iPhone is that iTunes is a few hours behind pushing out new posts...not so critical on weekly podcasts, but sometimes frustrating on daily ones.

This will probably work on other phones too. Android users already have the Listen app from Google (which accesses Google Reader feeds), and BlackBerry and Palm users may be able to do something similar to the above tip.

Pin Custom Folders to Windows 7's Start Menu

Derek shows us how to put custom folders in the Windows 7 start menu:

I recently found a way to pin a custom folder to the right side of the Windows 7 start bar in a few simple steps. You will lose your default favourites folder doing this, but there might be a work around to prevent that (I didn't bother because Chrome doesn't use the default favourites folder). Anyways, here are the steps I used to pin Program Files (x86) to the start menu as a menu item on the right side (you can easily substitute things around to make it work for any folder).

- Enable favorites on the start menu.

- Open a command prompt.

- Type the command mklink /D "C:UsersDerekFavorites" "C:Program Files (x86)" (modify the directories as necessary).

- Right click favorites (on the start menu), hit properties, and change the name to Program Files (x86) (or whatever).

- When I first did this, it did not work. You will probably need to restart explorer.exe or your computer to get everything going. It has been working flawlessly for me for a few hours now. I'm fairly certain the steps I provided are the ones I used to finally get it working It was one of those things where I spent hours trying various different things though, so let me know if this doesn't work and I'll figure out exactly how I did it.

There are many similar methods of modifying the favourites link's target, but they do not work so well for things like program files. For example, the common method of changing the favourites folder's location - where you change the target location through favorite's properties - is a train wreck when you do it with a folder like program files.

Turn Hard Drives Upside Down to Squeeze a BIt More Life Out of Them

Photo by Willrad von Dommenstein.

Cartfisk tells us how he saved some data off a failing external drive:

My mom's hard drive (which wasn't backed up) started failing the other day, and she asked me to try and help save it. I tried to back up the hard drive, but file errors screwed up the process until I flipped the drive over. Having the drive sit upside down fixed it temporarily so I could copy everything over.

Use Alternate Spellings to Insert Apostrophes in Android

Complimentary to an older hint for the iPhone, Jamezspot shows us how to type common contractions on Android:

Just discovered this on my own. When using my Motorola Droid running Androd 2.1 when I type in "wer" or "wel" it autocorrects the typing to the appropriate contraction "we're" or "we'll".

[the keyboard supports autocorrect (for instance dont - don't) but since well and were are both actual words, the keyboard doesn't change these contractions.

This was always a nuisance for me because I usually try to type with proper grammar and taking the time to go to the apostrophe button often seems like a waste of time. I guess all Android users can just change their spellings of "we're" and "we'll" to "wer" and "wel" for the time being.


    i would like to know what theme Derek uses.

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