Readers offer their best tips for searching for files in Windows, playing old school video games on Android, and packing for upcoming holidays.
Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or send it using the contact tab on the right.
Give Your Phone a More Tactile Gaming Experience with Sticky Pads
Mogens finds a way to make touchscreen games a little less awkward:
If you play a lot of games on iPhone or other touchscreen devices, you’ll likely have encountered on-screen controllers — for instance on-screen “analog sticks” or d-pad buttons like you would find on a console controller.
The problem: without the tactile feedback of your finger on a controller, how can you tell where the on-screen button is? And how can you excel at the reaction based action games where a split second makes all the difference between clearing a pixel-perfect jump, and falling into a pit?
The solution: very easy. Go down to your local DIY market or hobby store, and pick up a packet of sticky fastcaps or some other type of small, sticky “buttons” that can be peeled off again. The ones I got are solid, but if you can get transparent ones, all the better. Though it doesn’t really matter. Your chubby meatsticks are going to be sitting on them!
Obviously, you shouldn’t get caps that won’t come off again. The glass screen on my iPhone seems comfortable with pretty much anything you stick on there, though, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
In this case (the game shown is “Super Crate Box”), you don’t need a cap on each of the touchscreen buttons. Basically what you’re aiming for is to give your finger a surface with a different tactile feel, so you can find your way around without looking away from the action — and for that purpose, one cap is actually sufficient for each set of on-screen controls, since you’ll always know that there is A) the cap you stuck on there, and B) there is the button right next to it.
Why does this work? F**k knows. (Well it’s probably just that the field that makes the capacitive touch screen work doesn’t actually need the finger to touch the screen, it’s OK if it’s close to it.)
So there you have it. Slightly more NES-style gaming, that allows you to not suck. Highscores ahoy!
Check out Mogen’s original blog post for more, and see the video above for a demo of this trick in action.
Pack Clothes That Don’t Require Matching for Stress-Free Vacations
Photo by Hillary.
Jvanderh shares a number of packing tips from his recent trip:
Some post-vacation thoughts:
I despise packing up too early and then needing something I packed, or buying unnecessary duplicates. Instead, I started a running packing list on Google Docs as soon as I bought the plane ticket. For odd/hard to find items (outlet converter, passport) I did throw them in a dedicated spot if I was home when I remembered them. Ditto with stuff I bought especially for the trip.
I packed all white shirts (several tank tops, a t shirt, a polo, and a nicer shirt). I liked not putting any effort into matching, and that as long as I had one clean shirt and bottoms, I had something to wear. If I were doing it over, I’d spritz them all with scotch guard the day before I left.
I didn’t regret my decision to only take five days worth of clothes and do laundry. We carried our luggage around a lot. To this end, nylon and stretch cotton were my friends. They didn’t really wrinkle and dried fast enough that I could wash them in the sink and hang them up when I needed to. I also took a few extra pairs of underwear so that I could do laundry when it was convenient.
The light reusable grocery bag I shoved in my suitcase at the last minute was constantly useful.
When packing up to move hotels and go home, I found pre-packing to be the perfect solution. I’d use a desk or the bed to organise my stuff. I’d fold all my clothes, put my toiletries back in their Ziploc, find a bag for my dirty laundry, etc, but I wouldn’t put anything in the suitcase until half an hour before we needed to leave. This gave me time to make sure I hadn’t left anything, but kept me from burying something and then finding I needed it or waking up early to pack.
Get People to Call You Back by Leaving the Right Message
Photo by Billy Brown.
Shawn shares a slightly evil tip with us for getting people’s attention:
I got this one from my wife, who caught someone doing it to her at work.
People will hesitate to call you back or avoid calling you back if they know or think you’re going to get involved in something difficult or time consuming. One way to get them to call is to leave a voice mail with a very simple request or question that they can handle quickly and easily. They’ll call you back thinking it’s going to be fast and, after they answer your quick-and-easy question, you say, “Hey, as long as I’ve got you…”
Evil? Yes. Effective? I’d bet so.
Increase Security on Sites that Don’t Allow Long Passwords
Photo by Marc Falardeau.
Security expert TheFushows us a way around poorly designed password systems:
Sometimes websites don’t allow strong passwords. No punctuation, spaces or over 20 characters in length, so what can we do to increase the security just a little?
Change your login account ID to something long and random. Often, user IDs don’t have to be an email address or your name — they can be anything — perhaps 30 characters long. So, use a long, random user ID for those websites that don’t allow long, complex passwords for whatever reason. Combined, the user ID and password will hopefully be more secure in this way.
In the end, you have
User ID: jpb67l7xn9ckgoytr5
Who will guess that user ID?
Hopefully, the random User ID won’t be emailed and intercepted along the way. In my testing, it doesn’t even show up on any web pages at the shorter-than-I-like-password website. Of course, you’ll want to use a password manager if you do this. Now I don’t know either my password OR my user ID for my most critical online financial accounts. I always have to look them up. That’s a bonus to me. If you don’t use a password manager, this is either the time to start or to be very afraid.
My blog has just a little more info and reasons, but probably isn’t worth your time.