From The Tips Box: OS Reinstallation, Siri Nicknames

Readers offer their best tips for reinstalling your operating system, syncing your iOS devices over Wi-Fi, and giving nicknames to Siri functions.

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

Keep a Written Log of All Your Applications for Future Reinstallations

Geekgirlbarbie shares a tip that helps us OS reinstallers remember what apps we need:

Might seem a bit "duh," but it's one of those things you tend not to think of til it's too late:

I recently had to re-install my OS (and re-do all my partitions... and install the OS's on them), anyway, as much as a bitch as it was it was significantly easier thanks to my making a few prep documents on a whim a few months ago:

  • A list of all downloaded software for each operation system (separated into two groups "Available on NiNite" and "Not") with a link to the download page.
  • A list of user scripts and cross-browser extensions, plus any individual browser extensions-with download links to everything (ie. Chrome Web Store, Firefox Add-Ons Page).
  • A list of preferred settings and customisations for any software (ie. uTorrent settings).
  • A list of any plugins for anything-with the download page (like Pidgin or Thunderbird).

Thanks to the lists, I was pretty much able to fly through re-installing and configuring everything and didn't have to waste any time trying to remember what programs I used and how I liked them set up — it was all there.

Stop iTunes From Opening Automatically When Syncing Over Wi-Fi

Wyatt Kirby solves a popular iTunes annoyance for iOS 5 users:

Like a lot of people, I've got an iPhone that I sync at home. My work computer has iTunes, but nothing I want to sync with my phone. Since iOS 5 and Wi-Fi sync, my work computer is constantly opening iTunes in the background to check for Wi-Fi Sync devices. To keep it from iTunes from opening without your say so, open up iTunes and head to Preferences->Devices and check "Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically."

And that's it! No more iTunes in the background, blinking away in my taskbar.

Clever Uses for Siri's Nickname Function

Cmchap discovers a clever way to use Siri's nicknames:

Siri can make custom relationships and make online updates a snap.

Tell Siri "(contact name) is my (any word/phrase)".

She will record a note on your personal contact card that (contact name) is your (any word/phrase).

Use Case:

I have Facebook set up as a contact with a mobile phone number for making status updates.

I told Siri, "Facebook is my the world".

Now I can tell Siri, "Tell the world that Siri is awesome," and Siri formats a text to Facebook that says "Siri is awesome"

Keep Your Feet Warm in the Car Without Warming Up the Entire Interior

Photo by César Rincón.

Ben Mordecai shares a trick for keeping his feet warm in the car:

When your feet are cold in the car, but you don't want the car to get stuffy, blast the heat on the floor, crack the driver side backseat window, and the passenger side front seat window. This will cause a diagonal draft from front to back and suck out the stuffy air.


    Ninite just rocks. If you install numerous computers per week, it might be worth looking at investing in Ninite One. It locally caches the downloads to wherever you run the executable from and lets you choose from within a program, rather than a web page. Great for a flash drive or even have it sitting on a mapped network share (make a folder read/write to everyone, though.)

    of webOS 1.2 last week, Palm has rsealeed webOS 1.2.1 for the Sprint Pre which fixes iTunes sync as expected as well as fixing issues with Exchange-based sync for some

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