Readers offer their best tips for solving common annoyances, hiding Windows system files in Linux and waking up in the morning without annoying clocks.
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 lifehacker.com.au.
Load Up on Craft Supplies for Easier Life Hacking
Photo by JD Hancock.
Mmseng tells us how to make finding creative household solutions easier:
Give yourself more opportunities to find easy and creative solutions to simple everyday annoyances by keeping raw materials around.
I've found that some of the most useful little inventions I've come up with were birthed primarily by the ability to easily browse some handy artsy-craftsy materials. I like to keep a box full of simple, easy-to-work-with materials handy and tend to rummage through them when I find myself looking for that minor tweak to make my workspace more efficient and/or organized.
Thin plastic tubing, sheets of foam, paperclips and binderclips, some cork material, velcro, mounting tape, small tins or plastic containers, some wire, string, twist ties, rubber bands, sheet of thin plexiglass, cardboard, electrical shrink-tubing, safety-pins, any other little odds and ends that show up (e.g. lost rubber feet to some device). And of course some simple tools like tap, scissors, superglue, pliers, etc.
Most of this stuff is dirt cheap at any hobby store, so go grab a box full of random stuff, even if you think you'll never use it. Next time you find yourself wishing you had a better solution to some simple household problems, just look through your craftbox and you'll be surprised at what you might dream up. Even if you find you don't have everything you need immediately on-hand it can act as a spontaneous brainstorming method, potentially bubbling the answer up from the back of your mind. If necessary, you can go pick up that one last material at Walgreens.
Hide Windows System Files in Linux
Photo by ghitu2.
Barry knows CPR shares a lesser-known method for hiding files in Linux:
I use a NTFS partition to share media like videos and pictures between my Ubuntu and Windows partitions. Windows creates some pretty stupid folders like "System Volume Information". In Linux, you hide things by adding a period to the front of the filename. Doing this however, would mess up Windows.
To solve this, just create a file called .hidden and open it in gedit. Add the names of files and folders you want hidden. Literally - that's all you do. I do this to hide the nasty Windows folders and to hide the Firefox_wallpaper.jpg file in my home folder since I'm a perfectionist.
Use Your Phone's Ringtone as an Ear-Friendly Alarm Clock
Photo by Gustav H.
Haxxy lets us know a way to wake yourself up without annoying buzzing sounds:
Most of us dread the sound of an alarm clock in the morning, but we consider the annoying buzz or beep rather necessary to get us out of bed (as opposed to a more soothing sound). Here's an alternative: Set the alarm on your phone to use the same sound as your ringtone. For at least a second, you'll feel the jolt of alertness that comes naturally with the ring of a phone. The urgency of a phone ringing has become so deeply wired into our brains that you'll feel the "urgent" sensation for at least a split second, even though you consciously know it's just an alarm.
Addendum: The iPhone's default ringtone, if you use it, makes for a great alarm that is both easy on the ears and alerting.
Make a Bowl of Microwave Popcorn Without the Duds
Photo by Wallula Junction.
Dave-a-Flav shows us an easy way to avoid having unpopped kernels in the bottom of the popcorn bowl:
After making a bag of microwave popcorn, remove the bag and (being careful to avoid steam) pull on opposite corners of the opening until it's just wide enough for an unpopped kernel to fit through. Then, invert the bag over a trashcan and shake vigorously with the bag at a 45 degree angle to allow the duds out from the corners. Turn it so the other corner is facing up to get the rest of the kernels. If you do it right, you now have a bag of nothing but popped corn, and no nasty duds to crack your teeth on, all without getting anything dirty or greasy.