From The Tips Box: Smartphone Signal, iTunes Mini-Player, Gaming Mousepads

From The Tips Box: Smartphone Signal, iTunes Mini-Player, Gaming Mousepads

Readers offer their best tips for phones that keep searching for signal, a new iTunes mini-player, and cheap gaming mousepad solutions.

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

Switch in and Out of Aeroplane Mode to “Reset” Smartphone Network Searches

Photo by Yutaka Tsutano.

Envador lets us know a quick way to solve smartphone signal problems:

Sometimes the iPhone falls into “Searching…” mode for a cell signal and NEVER finds it, forcing you to restart your iPhone. If you don’t want to wait for a reboot, you can also go into Settings and turn Airplane Mode on, then off. That’s always fixed the problem for me.

Of course, if you really don’t have reception, this isn’t going to solve anything, but if you’re driving down I-5 and KNOW you should be getting signal to make that quick call, this can be a real time saver.

Use iTunes 10’s Album Art Viewer as an Alternate Mini-Player

Artblanc shares a hidden feature in the new version of iTunes:

In iTunes 10, you can control your tunes from the previously useless artwork windows, and after a few moments the window’s chrome will disappear and only sports the artwork. Cool but kinda redundant, cause it duplicates the function of mini-player. But I love this better than the mini-player.

Use a 3-Ring Binder as a Gaming Mousepad

Bryan.a.kendall tells us about a good, cheaply available mouse surface:

I went to the store today to look for gaming mouse pads. I found one by rocket fish for $US20, but it didn’t have any special features or secrets, just a plain black mouse pad. The front of the package had a place where you could feel it, so I did, and it instantly reminded me of a matte 3 ring binder (the ones without the glossy, clear cover sheet protector on the front).

Knowing that this rocket fish surface was supposed to be good for laser mice, I grabbed a binder from my supplies, and taped one flap down to my desk so it wouldn’t move. Using this for my mouse pad has been the best experience I have had with the mouse, and I plan on taking the cover off the binder so I can preeminently affix it to my desk (and use the other cover as a travel gaming mouse pad!). Just something that I found today, and wanted to share! Made my life easier while gaming and I hope other people looking for high mouse control can try this out!

Use Department Store Samples as Travel-Friendly Toiletries

Monsterblue shares how he saved space while on holidays:

On a recent weekend trip, instead of using the hotel’s low quality soap and shampoo, my wife packed the samples of the good stuff she gets while shopping. The samples took practically no space to pack, and all fit in a Ziploc bag.

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