From The Tips Box: iPhone Cameras, Telemarketers, Updating iOS

Readers offer their best tips for taking pictures with the iPhone, screening telemarketer calls and quickly updating iOS.

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

Take Photos with the iPhone Headphone’s Volume Button

Photo by With Associates.

Jesuswhammy lets us know a new, lesser-known feature of iOS 5:

You can use your headphones volume up button to also take a photo in iOS 5. This is a great little trick if you want to stabilise the phone to get a better shot and get yourself in a photo!

Screen Telemarketers with a Separate Address Book

Jon shares his clever workaround for screening telemarketers:

The Caller ID feature on most mobile phones actually just uses the entries in the address book to ID who’s calling. So if a repeat telemarketer or wrong number calls, adding it to the address book can make it easy to know to avoid answering. However, this could quickly clog up the phone’s address book. So, I set up an extra address book with Yahoo (it can also be done with Google) which wirelessly syncs between my iPhone and the online service, but keeps the contacts out of my main address book. When I get a call I don’t want to answer it pops up “Telemarketing Crap – Chipotle Quality Assurance” or “Wrong Number – Tammy (Mitch’s Girlfriend)”. (I include something in the name to identify the different callers.)

I also set up template address book entries without numbers through the Yahoo contacts web app. That way I can quickly and easily “add [a number]to existing contact” in the correct address book without the hassle of setting it all up on the phone.

Jon’s method is nice if you want to see which telemarketers are repeat offenders, so you can try harder to get off whatever list they have you on.

Always Click “Download” When Prompted for iOS Updates

Robotguy27 shares a convenience that you may not have noticed was right in front of your face:

Just found an faster way to update one’s iDevice quickly. When you plug in the device and iTunes asks whether you would like to download and install the update or just download, choose just download. Then install the update whenever it is most convenient for you. It’ll save you the trouble of waiting for your iDevice to be backed up and checked.

This doesn’t necessarily work with something like iOS 5, where you want to update as soon as possible — but with minor OS updates, when you might not have the time to go through the update, it’s a good tip. Just hit “download” and it’ll be there when you’re ready.

Use a 20-Sided Die to Stay Healthy, Liven Up Parties

Photo by Fox Wu.

Annie Lynsen shares a way she made staying healthy a bit more fun:

Last week’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” showed the character Sheldon delegating all his small life decisions to a chance roll of a die, freeing his brain up for “more important” things.

Inspired by Jane McGonigal’s Superbetter game, I co-opted Sheldon’s idea to make a game that would help me make better health choices in awkward social situations.

For example, I’ve been cutting back on calories, and a big source of calories is alcoholic beverages. But going to a social gathering and turning down every drink just leads to a lot of awkward conversations: “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Come on, just one won’t hurt.” etc. (Amazing how peer pressure really doesn’t get better with age.)

So here’s what I do. Every time I go to a party of this nature, I bring a 20-sided die (d20, for those familiar with tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons). Every time someone offers me a drink, I roll. Depending on the result, here’s what happens.

20 = I get the drink.

10-19 = I give a neck rub to the person who offered the drink.

2-9 = I give a hug to the person who offered the drink.

1 = I have to sing a short, embarrassing song.

(It helps that I’m extroverted and I know the people at these parties fairly well. You may want to invent your own parameters depending on your situation.)

Once word spreads of the game, everyone wants to try it, and some people are tempted to make you roll again and again. So the rule is that each person can only ask you to roll once every half hour.

The end result is that people suddenly care a lot less whether you’re drinking or not, and get caught up in the fun of the game. I’ve had several people say they want to get a d20 so they can play the game alongside me. It changes the tenor of the situation and makes it so that everybody wins, and you don’t feel awkward or feel like you’re denying yourself something you crave.

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