Readers offer their best tips for making your tablet easier on your eyes, quickly calling or texting people on your phone, and using Dropbox for photo slideshows.
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.
Make Your Smartphone or Tablet Look Like E-Ink
Abeyer lets us know one way to make your gadgets look more like the eye-friendly E-Ink screen you find on Kindles:
I use a matte screen protector and using an app like Cool Reader (since I'm on Android). I change the background to a moderate to light grey and the font to a dark grey about 25% -30% lighter than black. Turn down the screen brightness to about 75% outside and 45% in doors. Then change the font by adding fonts to the system fonts to a more soothing type face like "antipasto". Increase line spacing to about 125%-150% and margins to no more than 10pt on all sides.
See the above image for what this looks like. It isn't exactly like E-Ink, but it is nicer than staring at a bright white screen. This trick should work with any app that lets you tweak the text and background colours, on iOS or Android.
Create a Custom Shortcut Page for Calling and Texting on Your Phone
MsCassLopez adds some handy shortcuts to her smartphone:
You can use URL schemas on your iPhone/Android to make yourself a spiffy phone shortcuts page — something that's a bit lacking on the iPhone. This isn't particularly perfect but it is open to further ideas.
tel://1234567890in a web page on your phone calls that number. Likewise,
sms://9876543210opens your SMS app. There are a couple of other useful ones on an iPhone such as starting your music player (
music://), sending an email (
mailto:[email protected]) or checking your Facebook. You can also just put a link to another page full of shortcuts.
You can make your own HTML page full of these — each with a picture and display it in the browser on your phone. Put the HTML file and any associated images in your Dropbox public folder and copy the public link into your phone browser and bookmark it, home page it, or put it somewhere else. This lets you edit on your computer and see the changes instantly on your phone. Note: It looks crap on a laptop — it's meant for a phone and the links won't work.
Here's one I made earlier. It's formatted for display in Chrome on an iPhone with that full screen add-on, I forgot what it's called but you get the idea. Format it how you want. Just copy that page's source code into an HTML file, save it to your Dropbox, and edit it with your own contacts and images on your computer. I'm not very good with HTML/CSS so my code is pretty basic, but it works.
Use Dropbox for Collaborative Photo Slideshows
Girish Tewani finds a clever use for Dropbox:
I just recently got married and one of my friends gave me the idea to have a live photo feed at the wedding reception. I had no idea how I was going to set this up. He had suggested using Picasa to have people email in there pictures and then have them show up in a slideshow. But, since I'm not a Picasa user, I was thinking of another way to accomplish the same task.
I figured out that I could use the service Send to Dropbox. My guests would email in their pictures at the reception, which would download directly to my Dropbox on my computer and get separated into folders by email address. Then, I just got a slideshow app to read that directory for pictures! It was a really great way to have the guests have a sort of interactive experience at the party and I got to keep all the pictures they sent in.
Combine a Split Keyboard and Magic Trackpad for an Ergonomic Setup
Antonio Piccolboni discovers the perfect ergonomic setup for his workspace:
I spend long hours at the keyboard, like many people. My right wrist doesn't like to be rotated out so I've been using a split keyboard for a long while, but I could never find a pointing device to match. Finally, it hit me: stick a Magic Trackpad vertically between the halves of the keyboard. Perfectly centered and the orientation puts my hand in the handshake position. I since replaced the tape, which doesn't last, with an eraser stuck between the halves of the keyboard. It's a little wobbly but perfectly usable. A properly engineered version would be better, but this is what I use all the time now.
To the gory details: keyboard is a Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard. You'll need to reverse the orientation of the trackpad with the following command:
sudo defaults write com.apple.MultitouchSupport ForceAutoOrientation YES
Stick five open fingers in the trackpad in the desired orientation and hope for best. Try again, again, again. Then it works. Repeat this procedure every now and then. I'm not sure when the orientation reverts itself, but it occasionally happens — annoying, but better than wrist pain!