Posts filed under ‘Hacks’

Caller ID Can Be Hacked

If you rely on caller ID to screen calls, you should be aware that the number you see cannot always be trusted.

There are a few services available that let people choose the caller id number that appears when they make a phone call.

Telemarketers and collections agencies are not allowed to change their number, but some still do.

I share this secret because caller id spoofing is becoming popular among fraudsters. You should be weary of any caller asking you for something, especially money or personal information. If a caller claims to be from your financial institution or another company that requires personal information, ask them some information that confirms they are who they say they are. For example, if it’s your cell phone company, ask them which calling plan you’re on.

(more…)

March 8, 2010 at 12:46 am 3 comments

The Mall of America Does Not Have a Central Heating System

By Chad Upton | Editor

In case you’re not familiar with the Mall of America, it’s a 2.5 million sq. ft. shopping center in Bloomington Minnesota, a suburb of the “Twin Cities” (Minneapolis and Saint Paul). The mall opened in 1992 and contains more than 520 stores, two seven story parking garages with a total of 20,000 parking spaces, a giant aquarium and of course an indoor amusement park.

Photo by Dave Wallick

I was there in 1993 on a big family road trip and it was amazing. A building of this size seems like it should have a massive heating system to stay comfortable during winter months. But, the engineers had a much more creative solution in mind. (more…)

March 2, 2010 at 12:35 am 31 comments

Warm Your Car Up Faster

My friend Todd told me about this secret many years ago. He has rebuilt more cars in his suburban home garage than anyone I know.

I met Todd at my first part time job, we used to work early weekend mornings during high school. I was too young to have a driver’s license, so my dedicated parents would always drive me.

That was before remote starters, so I would usually start the car a few minutes before leaving. Actually, that’s not true — my Dad was usually the one starting the car a few minutes before I was ready to leave, which was about 10 minutes after I told him I would be ready to leave.

It didn’t make much difference to the car — it was still cold for at least half the trip. On the rare occasion that I started the car, I would turn the heater to its hottest setting and turn the fan to full blast. That’s actually the slowest way to warm the car, so lets talk more about the fastest way. (more…)

February 24, 2010 at 1:09 am 35 comments

Some Rechargable Products Use Standard Batteries

I normally shave the old fashioned way, with shaving cream and a razor. Although, a couple times a week I use a rechargeable electric razor.

It doesn’t shave as close as a straight blade or cartridge razor, but it does shave time off my morning routine. It’s an easy way to catch up when I’m running behind or anxious to get working earlier.

I’ve had the same electric razor for about 10 years. I got it as a gift and it has worked really well, but its ability to hold a charge has degraded significantly since it was new. When it was new, I could travel for a week and not recharge it. Recently, it has required a charge after every use.

A couple weeks ago, it failed to run for more than a few seconds. I charged it again, and had the same result.

The internal rechargeable battery had finally failed. (more…)

February 16, 2010 at 12:27 am 1 comment

You Can Buy Your Own Dental Tools

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that you can buy your own tamper proof screwdrivers. Ownership of tamper proof screwdrivers ups your do-it-yourself status to a new level; but, you can’t earn your DIY badge without having your own set of dental tools.

Maybe you’ve got a deep pocket in a molar that you can’t floss or brush clean, or maybe you just want to descale your pet’s gum line.

There are so many uses for dental tools. Hobbyists use them for carving, cleaning and hooking small objects. Technicians and mechanics may use them for removing tiny o-rings and gaskets. Perhaps you will use them to pick locks or scratch lotto tickets, poke the CD-ROM eject hole or spread glue in a hairline crack on the ceramic you broke last summer.

I found a 5 piece set on Amazon at a great price. Heck, for $2 (see “other sellers”), I’m not sure there is a more versatile set of tools for your toolbox. Best of all, you probably don’t own these tools yet and we all know it’s fun to get new tools.

Buying a new tool is like buying a new skill. It empowers you to put yourself in the way of new dangers and abstain from doing new things that you never dreamed of avoiding before.

So go ahead, have your popcorn and eat it too.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

PS – I’m really excited for fellow blogger Neil Pasricha’s new book: The Book of Awesome. Pre-order it now (or if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t already, at least checkout the blog)!

February 15, 2010 at 12:34 am 3 comments

Rescue a Disc From Your CD Drive With a Paperclip

Most CD/DVD drives in computers have a secret eject button. It allows you to open the CD drive when a disc gets stuck and cannot be ejected normally. It’s also helpful if you need to remove a disc and you don’t want (or have time) to power up the computer — the force eject works without power.

You’ll need a thin sturdy object to operate the manual eject, a straightened paperclip works well. In rare cases, the hole will be slightly smaller than a paperclip and a sewing needle will be required.

Look for a round hole on the face of the CD drive that is just large enough to feed a paperclip through. The following photos show the manual eject hole on a desktop and laptop CD drive.

Once you have found the hole, push a straightened paperclip through the hole and when you feel it stop, push a little harder and it should push open the motorized drive tray (desktop) or release the drive lock (laptop).

If you’ve got a Mac, most new models have a slot load drive (there is no tray that the disc sits on, similar to most car CD players). Some of these drives are particularly bad at ejecting CDs with uneven edges (if yours does this then you’ll know what I’m talking about) and there is a paperclip method for these drives too. There is an Apple support document for this issue; you’ll have to click here to view it since I can’t use their material.

Maybe you’ve seen that hole and wondered what it was for, maybe not. Frankly, it doesn’t matter, because you know now and that’s what we do here.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

Available on Kindle | Share Your Secret!

February 11, 2010 at 1:39 am 2 comments

There Are Only 14 Possible Calendar Configurations

At the beginning of every year, I get a tropical island wall calendar. During the winter, it makes the days seem warmer; during the summer, it inspires me to enjoy the long sunny days.

Until a few days ago, my January 2010 calendar was really small. I hadn’t bought a new calendar yet, so I was squinting at the tiny January 2010 layout in the corner of my December 2009 calendar.

If only I kept my 1999 calendar, I could have used that this year.

You see, there are only 14 possible calendar configurations. This year, January first was a Friday and next year, it’s a Saturday. In 2012 it’s a Sunday, but in 2013 it’s a Tuesday. (more…)

January 28, 2010 at 12:15 am 3 comments

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