Wednesday, September 07, 2011


"Nothing weighs on us so heavily as a secret."
-Jean de La Fontaine"

Hacking fantasy
Hacking is a sort of oddity; its like outlaws in the late 19th and early 20th century, or Robin Hood. People know its wrong and bad, but somehow for many people, hacking has a romance and exciting quality about it, like breaking into a candy factory or Disneyland. Sure, its wrong, but I wish I could.

There's a term used now that's related, called "Life Hacks" which basically are clever ideas you can use to make life easier or to get things you otherwise do not usually have access to. Some of them are pretty cruel (like rebooting a credit card station at a store, something I've not tried so I don't know if it even works), but many are just handy to know. Here's a few I have found and know about from life:
  • Eat a banana from the other side. This one is sort of odd, but its how monkeys do it in the wild. If you peel from the stem, you get all those annoying strings, but if you do it from the other end, you tend to get fewer.
  • Ladies, this is an old trick my mom uses, and it saves a ton of money. Rinse your hair in lemon juice or vinegar after you wash it and leave it for thirty seconds or so, then rinse it out. Your hair will shine and have vibrant color without those expensive chemicals from the shampoo aisle.
  • Related: shampoo will not build up on your hair. The entire purpose of shampoo is to clean your hair, which includes any shampoo on it. What will build up is conditioner and all the rest of that crap you put on it, so consider using less of that.
  • If you get gum on your clothes, freeze them, it peels off when frozen.
  • If you get off to a bad start or someone is just in a lousy mood when you first meet them, ask to borrow something inconsequential but useful from them, like a pencil. That will give you a bond and allow them a feeling of being useful yet in a position of authority without meaning anything and tends to break the ice.
  • You can usually tell how interested someone is in you or what you're talking about by gestures. Fold your arms or put your hands in your pockets, brush your hair back or something simple; they'll tend to do the same thing if they are really into you.
  • You can show someone the exact moment you want to in a Youtube video by right clicking on the video and choosing "copy video URL at current time."
  • If you pay for things with cash rather than check or plastic, you can feel the money go away, see it diminish in your wallet, and it seems less "imaginary" which helps keep your finances under control.
  • Fewer people do this, but when you record your spending, write down the amount rounded up to the nearest dollar (or five, ten, even twenty-five dollars for very large purchases). This will tend to build a buffer in your account. This used to be a really useful way to help with checking accounts, but I don't know how much people actually reconcile their spending these days.
  • If you measure your hand from the tip of your middle finger to the base your palm at your wrist as an adult, you'll have a useful measuring stick from that point on. Remember that length, and you can guesstimate sizes just by comparing to your hand (even if you don't use your hand, you'll likely remember its general size).
  • On some elevators, if you push the floor you desire plus the "close door" button at the same time, that will force the elevator to your desired floor first. Not all elevators even have a close door button and it doesn't always work, but its worth a shot.
  • A lot of people carry hand sanitizer around these days. If you find a lock frozen from the cold, spray a bit of the sanitizer in the lock; alcohol has a higher freezing rate than water and it will tend to defrost the lock.
  • Astronomers have known this for a long time. If you need to see in the dark but don't want to spoil your night vision, use a red light.
  • If you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth when you get brain freeze (from, say, eating ice cream too fast) it will help end the freeze.
  • If you have a pimple that you need to get rid of fast, wash that one spot with soap and rinse it, dry it off, then apply Hydrogen Peroxide to the spot and let it evaporate. The zit should be gone by two days, tops.
  • Although it tastes awful, Hydrogen Peroxide will also make sores and tongue bites inside your mouth heal faster. Just rinse your mouth with the stuff like mouthwash.
  • This one is a bit shady, but most lost items in hotels are never recovered, especially this sort. If your cell phone charger dies, go to a nearby hotel and tell them you left it in your room. They'll have a bin of recovered ones, because that's one of the most forgotten items in rooms; chances are you'll find a replacement there. This also works with sunglasses, lighters, and nearly any cheap, common item that's easily forgotten.
  • You can't really write much on a thumb USB drive, but if you put a text file with your contact information on one, if you forget it somewhere or lose it, there's a much better chance of getting it back.
  • Here's one I saw on an image once. Turn your hangers backward so the gap is toward you and you have to hook them from behind the bar. When you wear an outfit, put it back normally. After a year, see which pieces of clothing are still hung backward: you never wore them; either its time to mix things up or donate them to a nearby charity.
  • The spaghetti that develops behind electronic components can be insane, particularly when it comes to the plugs. Here's a simple trick: when you get bread, keep that plastic tag that holds the end closed, not the twisty ties, but the tab. Write the name of the component on it with a Sharpie then clip it at the end of the wire by the plug. That way, every plug will have an identifier on it.
  • You can stick a drier sheet into shoes, luggage, gym bags, anywhere relatively enclosed and stinky and it will tend to deodorize over a short period of time.
  • Ants hate cinnamon. If you have an ant problem, you can sprinkle some cinnamon at the spot they are coming from or around things you want them to leave alone (like cat food) and they'll stay away.
  • You can de-wrinkle clothes by putting a wet towel in the drier with the wrinkled clothes and running it for 10 minutes or so.
  • Aluminum foil has two sides. One side is shinier than the other, and that's on purpose. You can use the extra-shiny side to either reflect heat back onto the item wrapped up, or to deflect some of the heat away from it. The shiny side will tend to bounce heat, so if its facing the food, it will bounce it back into the food.
  • I thought this was kind of obvious, but both aluminum foil and plastic wrap boxes have tabs on the ends that can be punched into help the roll stay inside.
  • Most people can become greatly refreshed and renewed by a simple 20-minute nap. Twenty minutes is long enough to get some stage-2 relaxation sleep but don't push it past 45 minutes or so or you'll start to slip in to REM sleep and be miserable when interrupted.
There are more, and as I think of them or remember things I do, or my aunts and mom do (they're from the depression generation and nobody knows better how to save money and be efficient than they do) I'll keep track and maybe do another one of these.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Those are excellent. Here is one I learned many years ago that helped me:

-If you have a habit of saying "um" a lot when you speak, try making a conscious effort to say "see" instead. It almost always fits, it sounds much better, and by paying attention to the change you end up doing it less.