Posts filed under ‘Hacks’

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 4 comments

You Can Easily Buy Tamper Proof Screwdrivers

I have a long history of taking things apart; as a Child I had a reputation for never putting them back together. There is some truth to that, but somethings are more fun in pieces.

Before I understood how they worked, I saw things as magic boxes. I wanted to know how the engineers solved all of the problems that made the product useful; what were their secrets?

As an adult, I still like taking things apart. Sometimes, I want to know how it works; other times it doesn’t work and I want to fix it, or break it further.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to disassemble things.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried to disassemble something and then realize you don’t own a screwdriver that can turn a triangular notched screw-head. Or, maybe you have noticed funny looking screw-heads in public restrooms. Not the people, the metal screws used on fixtures and cubical walls. If you don’t recognize the pattern on the screw-head, they’re likely what we call “tamper proof” screws. (more…)

January 26, 2010 at 1:50 am 4 comments

Instantly Brighten Your Basement With CF Lights

This secret is great for garages, basements, crawlspaces and outdoor spaces — where you can always use more light.

This is a cheap and easy way to give you a light boost without installing extra light sockets.

Now, it’s no secret that the beautifully spiraled compact fluorescent (CF) lights use less energy than their incandescent counterparts, which saves you money and ultimately reduces our energy demand. But, even if you don’t care about saving electricity, CF lights may still benefit you.

When you replace an old bulb with a CF, take a close look at the socket. There is usually a silver sticker that indicates the maximum wattage light that can be used in that socket. Typical light sockets will be limited to 40, 60 or 100 watts.

You can replace a 100 watt incandescent bulb with a 26 watt fluorescent bulb, which gives you the same amount of light while using 25% of the energy the old bulb used. But, if you use a 42 watt compact fluorescent, you’ll still be well below the 100 watt max and the light will output the equivalent to a 150 watt bulb. Because the compact fluorescent produces more light per watt, you’ve got a much brighter room.

I use two of these lights in my garage light sockets and it makes a huge difference when I’m working out there. I also have one in my basement, which makes a big difference compared to the 100 watt incandescent it replaced — especially since there are no windows in the area.

I’ll remind you that it is extremely important to check the socket or fixture maximum and be sure the compact fluorescent bulb’s consumption is equal or lower (although the “equivalent” wattage will likely be higher, giving you more light).

BrokenSecrets.com

December 28, 2009 at 12:01 am 2 comments

Use Hot Water To Make Crystal Clear Ice Cubes

Ice made from cold water looks cloudy because air that is trapped in the water become suspended in the ice. If you boil water before pouring it in the ice cube trays, you release most or all of the air that would otherwise be trapped in the water — making the ice cubes crystal clear.

Crystal clear ice cubes look great when used with designer ice cube trays. For any holiday or event, designer ice cubes are a cool thing to entertain guests and spark conversation.

Ikea has a few designer ice cube trays that you can pickup or Amazon has hundreds available for delivery, including: Christmas Trees and Snowmen, Penguins, Ice Invaders, Peace Signs, Hearts, Homer Simpson, Stewie (Family Guy), Stars, Skull and Crossbones, Butterflies, Dinosaurs …etc.  They even have molds to make Shot Glasses and Stir Sticks out of ice.

Another secret: the ice cube trays can also be used as Jello molds!

Remember, you’ll have to boil water to make it hot because you can’t use hot water from the tap – explained here.

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources: Illinois Dept Physics

December 24, 2009 at 1:05 am 4 comments

Locking the Gas Pump Trigger

UPDATE: It is illegal in some places to leave the gas pump while filling your tank. After doing some further research, it appears this is done for two reasons. 1. To prevent you from getting back in your vehicle, which can cause a static buildup that could cause a spark (and fire) when you touch the pump handle again. 2. To ensure you are nearby if the auto-stop fails and fuel begins to spill. So, even if your station provides a locking mechanism, the safest option is to hold the handle while filling.

If you’re like me then you like to lock the fuel pump trigger so you can clean all the garbage out of your car while the tank is filling.

Some gas stations remove the device that locks the trigger so you can’t walk away from the pump while it’s filling. But, there is a secret to locking the trigger without the built-in mechanism: stick your gas cap under the trigger.

That’s it. Now you can do other things while your tank is filling, like tidy your trunk or complain about gas prices with some sucker who is attached to their pump.

Gas Pump Cap Hack

Keep an eye on your pump and use this tip at your own risk.

December 21, 2009 at 12:01 am 14 comments

The Fastest Way to Chill Drinks

Perhaps your guests just arrived and you forgot to put beer in the fridge. Or, maybe you just got a phone call and your hair appointment on Thursday has been canceled  Either way, you need cold drinks, stat. This secret will chill your drinks in 5 minutes flat.

  1. Half fill a container with your drinks.
  2. Fill the remaining space with ice.
  3. Add salt and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. In 4.5 minutes you’ve got cold drinks.

The salt speeds the melting of the ice. The melting ice absorbs heat from the drinks which in turn makes the drinks get colder.

Here’s a little demo from down under with a fancy thermometer:

BrokenSecrets.com

December 9, 2009 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

Opening a Bottle of Wine Without a Corkscrew

If you’re a wine drinker, a day will come when you go camping, tailgating or romantic picnicking and forget to bring a corkscrew. Open your wine without any special tools by combining these two tricks:

1. Remove the foil using the slide technique. It briefly appears at the beginning of the following video, although I suggest also watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s video here for a specific demo of this secret.

2. Remove the cork using the ram technique. Watch the video below.

Warning: Be very careful when bashing a glass wine bottle against a tree. As you can see in the video, you don’t have to do it very hard.

BrokenSecrets.com

December 8, 2009 at 2:07 am 2 comments

Headphones Can Be Used As Microphones

You forgot your microphone at home and you’ve got an online meeting in five minutes. This secret might save you.

While it might be hard to come by a spare microphone, the ubiquity of mp3 players makes it easy to find a pair of headphones. If you plug headphones into the microphone input on your computer (or other electronics), you can speak into the LEFT headphone as if it were a microphone.

This might sound crazy, but this is possible because microphones and speakers (or headphones) are very similar. A microphone converts sound waves to electrical impulses while a speaker converts electrical impulses to sound waves. Although they do the exact opposite function, they actually use the same principle and components to do so.

In a microphone, the sound waves hit the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate at a specific frequency. A magnetic coil attached to the diaphragm moves with the vibrations which induces an electric current in the wires. This current is often converted to a digital signal to be recorded or sent across the internet.

A speaker works the exact opposite way.  An electric current on a wire causes a coil to move; a diaphragm attached to the coil pushes air at a specific frequency which generates sound waves for your ear to pick up.

I discovered this secret a long time ago, when I lost the microphone for my Rap-Master Keyboard. I found a demo video you can check out:

BrokenSecrets.com

Photo Credit: steveyb (Creative Commons)

December 7, 2009 at 1:28 am 4 comments

Change Traffic Lights Like a Fire Engine

Most cities employ a system by 3M called Opticom. There are sensors on the light standards; when a strobe light flashes at the right frequency in range of the sensor, the lights change color almost instantly.

Before I go into the details, I should mention that it is illegal in most places for unauthorized users to change traffic lights, but knowing about it is very interesting. There are even systems that have a warning light attached to them so you know an emergency vehicle is approaching the intersection.

Fire trucks and police cars have a light mounted on their roof, but volunteer service members usually have a hand-held device. If you look in the right place, you can buy one and possibly even get fined or arrested for trying to beat your best drive time.

There are even reports that a universal TV remote is powerful enough and capable of generating the right frequency to change the lights (see the video).

Photo by: Elventear (used under CC attribution)

BrokenSecrets.com

November 25, 2009 at 12:17 am 1 comment

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