A miscellaneous collection of ideas and discoveries that may reduce friction in your life.
UPDATED: OCTOBER 15, 2011
LIFE HACKS here INCLUDE:
- Avoid car passenger motion sickness
- Unclogging bathtub and sink drains
- Your smartphone is a superior Kindle
- Tired of Seeing "Only Secure Content is Displayed"?
- A peanut butter brand that stores better
Avoid Car Passenger Motion Sickness
Like many, I am susceptible to motion sickness if I read while riding in a car or other vehicle. Googling the issue today, it seems there is no reference to the solution (or, rather, the solution that works for me). Many years ago I solved this problem by simply realizing that car sickness while reading is caused by the difference in motion (vibration) of the book you're reading and the motion of your eyes. When that motion is out of sync, nausea follows.
The solution is simple: don't support your elbows while reading. By holding your book or Kindle with your elbows not on the arm rest, there is a damping effect of the vibration transmitted from the car to your book.
I have personally found over the years that it's not a big deal to hold up the book this way. If it works for you, too, enjoy reading on your trips.
Unclogging Bathtub and Sink Drains
After years of extracting gross hairballs from our bathtub drain or costly plumber bills to unplug a drain, a plumber asked me if I'd like to know how to avoid the high cost of calling him out for jobs like this. Sure. He recommended that I purchase a bottle of Thrift drain cleaner. Available online and at local plumbing houses, I followed his advice. Now it takes just a couple of minutes to get a slow drain to flow freely again. I've not had another plumbing bill or gross hairball experience in the years since then.
- Don't breathe the fumes from Thrift.
- Don't touch the Thrift crystals with bare hands—it's very hard to clean the residue.
- Follow all cautions on the product label.
- I've never had a problem with this product, but I obviously cannot take responsibility for any damage or injury.
- Fill a large bucket with hot water.
- Pour a quarter cup of Thrift granules into the drain. Use a spoon or anything similar...even a stick...to push the granules into the drain.
- Slowly pour hot water into the drain sufficently to dissolve the Thrift crystals so they go into the drain. You'll hear gurgling sounds as it works.
- Wait a couple of minutes and then run hot water into the drain. It should be clear already. If not, repeat these steps. I've never had to repeat the steps. Finish by running a lot of hot water into the tub/sink and down the drain to flush it and to clean the slippery residue of the Thrift crystals.
Your Smartphone is a Superior Kindle
I love to read and I love gadgets. But while it appeals to me, I never purchased a Kindle. Too big, no backlighting...
Then I installed Kindle software on my Blackberry Storm 2. It has been a change of life experience. Now I have my book(s) with me all the time because I have my phone with me. Any time a "wasted time" situation pops up, out comes the Kindle phone. Reading in bed or other dark places is great with the phone's backlight. Reading outside works well because the backlighting goes brighter as the ambient light increases. The phone is small enough to hold in one hand. The phone's battery still lasts all day. The Kindle software allows you to change the size of the text to whatever is easy for you to read. Even large text is fine because paging is so simple.
Not all is perfect: When my wife is trying to sleep, the click...click...click of the Storm 2 screen can be annoying. Adding a bit of white noise, like a small fan, seems to solve that problem. And there are other annnoyances with the Storm 2's touch screen; e.g., pressing the side of the screen to turn the page sometimes results in a weird sort of multi-click that returns to the previous page.
Then I installed Kindle software on an Android phone. I am amazed at how much advanced Kindle is on Android as compared to the Blackberry. Paging is quiet. Searching, highlighting, and changing the screen orientation are now at your fingertips. Bookmarking and changing the size of the font are much easier. Not even considering other things about Android that are superior to Blackberry, this alone could be enough to switch.
If you have an extra smartphone around, use it for your Kindle. And if the phone supports wi-fi, you'll still have access to the web, email, etc. even without a cell phone network connection.
Tired of Seeing "Only Secure Content is Displayed"?
Are you tired of seeing this message when you go to some secure (https) sites?
To stop it from happening, go into Internet Explorer (mine is IE9), open Tools and select Internet Options. Click the Security tab and then click Custom level.
Scroll down to the section titled Miscellaneous and look for Display mixed content. Click Enable.
Click ok to exit, confirm the change, and then "Ok" to complete the action.
A peanut butter brand that stores better
October 2011: Recently we opened a 16 oz plastic jar of Skippy creamy peanut butter that we had put into storage in 2004. It was rancid. So we opened a 5 lb container of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter purchased in 1999 and it was as fresh as new.