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Cover image of Life Hacks – Spoken Edition

Life Hacks – Spoken Edition

Daily weblog on software and personal productivity recommends downloads, web sites and shortcuts that help you work smarter and save time. A SpokenEdition transforms written content into human-read audio you can listen to anywhere. It's perfect for times when you can't read - while driving, at the gym, doing chores, etc. Find more at www.spokenedition.com

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How to Customize Your Background in Microsoft Teams Video Calls

Microsoft’s big office communication app, Microsoft Teams, is getting a fun new feature that makes it just as wacky as Zoom. You’ll now have the power to pretend you’re on a beach, in some faraway city, on the moon, or sitting in front of your favorite meme when you’re on a video call—yes, custom backgrounds are rolling out, and it’s a silly feature that all videoconferencing apps should have.

2mins

22 Apr 2020

Rank #1

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Avoid Food Waste With an 'Eat This First' Shelf

Daily weblog on software and personal productivity recommends downloads, web sites and shortcuts that help you work smarter and save time. A SpokenEdition transforms written content into human-read audio you can listen to anywhere. It's perfect for times when you can't read - while driving, at the gym, doing chores, etc. Find more at www.spokenedition.com

3mins

14 Feb 2020

Rank #2

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This is the Smartest Zoom Hack We've Seen Yet

Leave it to a bored adolescent to come up with one of the most ingenious ways to appear “present” in a Zoom chat I’ve ever seen—especially if the chat is on the larger side and someone isn’t paying much attention to your webcam in the grid view. Now that we’re in week who-knows-what of the quarantine for most people, I feel like most of us would rather do just about anything else than suffer another videoconference.

3mins

18 May 2020

Rank #3

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Use Out of Office Messages Even When You're Not on Vacation

Email is something that consistently absorbs a lot of my day. I start everyday checking and responding to email, but as the day progresses, find myself checking my inbox pretty much constantly from my phone and computer. This week Fast Company made an interesting suggestion on how to combat that problem: Using an out of office message. One of the best pieces of advice in terms of not getting distracted by email is to only check your email at certain times.

3mins

13 Mar 2020

Rank #4

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Skip Grocery Delivery, If You Can

Grocery stores are a madhouse right now. The bottled water is gone, staples like milk, eggs and bread are flying off the shelves, and there’s barely a roll of toilet paper to be found anywhere. Added to this equation is the risk factor of navigating a crowded store. To counteract exposure, a lot of people are shifting to curbside pickup or delivery. Before you hit click on that list of groceries, take a moment to consider those who depend on grocery delivery.

3mins

1 Apr 2020

Rank #5

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How to Parallel Park Perfectly Every Time

Finding parking is always a hassle, but perfectly parallel parking? That seems almost impossible. If you street park a car in a large city, you may dread every time you switch on your blinkers and start to back up. So, in order to ease all this pain and frustration, we teamed up with our dear friends at Jalopnik to put together this easy video guide on how to parallel park like a pro. Our car expert, Andrew P.

2mins

5 Mar 2020

Rank #6

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These Free Mobile Games Can Help You Cope With Cabin Fever

Everyone needs a distraction right now. You know it. I know it. Game developers know it, too, and a few of them have generously decided to make their iOS games temporarily free for anyone looking for a fun distraction to help them stay sane while socially distancing. If you’ve never tried the tower defense series Kingdom Rush, an early iOS app store favorite, you’re in for a treat.

2mins

24 Mar 2020

Rank #7

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You Can Virtually Tour the Winchester Mystery House For Free While It's Closed Due to COVID-19

Like many other places around the country, the Winchester Mystery House is closed now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of physical tours, the house is offering a 40-minute video tour of the property for anyone that’s interested. The house’s website says that it is offering free video access until April 7th, the day the Bay Area’s current “shelter in place” order is set to expire.

2mins

30 Mar 2020

Rank #8

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The Internet Archive's VHS Vault Is a 1990s Pop Culture Goldmine

If you’re someone who has lost hours, if not days, watching old TV clips from your childhood on YouTube, block off some time in your calendar, because you’re about to lose another chunk of your adult life. The Internet Archive—aka the Wayback Machine—now has more than 20,000 VHS recordings available to view for free on its website.

2mins

10 Mar 2020

Rank #9

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How to Tell if an iPhone Bug Is Eating Up Your Data Plan

A strange iOS bug is eating up mobile data and spiking monthly bills for iPhone users. You might not be affected, but it’s worth checking out (just in case). The bug has been reported on all iPhone models that run iOS 13, and it affects nearly every major cell provider. Some users are only seeing a few kilobytes of their data plan affected, while others have reported losing several gigs of data to the bug.

2mins

25 Mar 2020

Rank #10

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What's the Fastest Way to Get Through a Traffic Jam?

Ah, there’s nothing like zooming down the highway on a bright, sunny day—wind in your hair, sunglasses on, and... all of a sudden you come to a screeching halt in a traffic jam. As you sit in traffic, it’s pretty easy to succumb to the urge of switching to a lane that appears to be moving faster.

2mins

12 Mar 2020

Rank #11

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Make Sure You Don't Look Like a Big Weirdo Before Jumping on That Conference Call

Now that many of us lucky enough to be working are working from home and hosting our meetings virtually, we’re hyper-focused on making video conference calls less terrible, starting with making sure we look good on camera. But how sure are you that you actually don’t look terrible or that there isn’t something embarrassing in view behind you? Don’t you want to check one last time before hopping onto that Zoom call? You should probably check.Hand Mirror is a Mac app that lives in your toolbar and allows you to perform a quick one-step check on the view from your webcam. Click the little mirror icon to instantly open a widow that offers a peek at whatever your webcam can see right now, allowing you a chance to smooth down your cowlick or move your underwear off of the bed behind you. It’s a pretty simple idea—so simple the App Store rejected it, according to designer Rafael Conde—which is why it’s so useful. Especially if, like me, you constantly mix up your keyboard shortcuts and end up searching in an active window instead of opening Spotlight. Or if you’re constantly getting pulled into a call right after eating, I dunno, a pile of raw kale.

1min

31 Mar 2020

Rank #12

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Uninstall These VPN and Ad-Blocking Apps That Spied on Your iPhone or Android

A recent Buzzfeed investigation discovered that several popular VPN and adblocking apps for Android and iOS secretly collected user data and sent it to Sensor Tower, a cross-platform data analytics service for app developers.

3mins

20 Mar 2020

Rank #13

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You Can Get Two Months of Stadia Pro For Free Right Now

The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us spending a lot more time at home, and many companies offering options for things to do while you’re there. This week Google announced that it’s offering free access to its cloud gaming service Stadia right now. Additionally, it’s giving anyone that signs up 2 months of free access to Stadia Pro, which scores you free access to nine different games.

2mins

27 Apr 2020

Rank #14

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How to Reward Yourself Without Spending More Money, According to Reddit

When you’re working toward a major financial goal, like paying off debt or saving a hefty sum, the general advice is to break that big milestone up into smaller goals. And each time you hit a smaller goal, you celebrate with a small reward, to keep you motivated to work on the next segment.

3mins

18 Feb 2020

Rank #15

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How to Help Your Kids Build Self-Esteem

Your child really is a special, fantastic little human. They’re an incredibly poised dancer or outgoing in a way you could never be or gifted in math. You know your kids are great; you just want to make sure they know how great they are. And it’s natural to want to praise them for all the wonderful, impressive things they do. But if we over-praise, we may actually be harming their self-esteem over time.

5mins

2 Mar 2020

Rank #16

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Find Out How Long Your Toilet Paper Stash Will Last With This Site

Toilet paper is now a more precious commodity than gold—or at least, that’s how I felt when a friend of mine reported that she was offered $40 the other day for a single roll (one roll!!!) upon leaving the sold-out supermarket.Assuming you have a pretty decent stash at home, the website “How much toilet paper” is going to be your new best friend over the coming weeks and months. As you hunker down during all things coronavirus, the site will help you get a quick estimate of how much your stash will last.Of course, there are plenty of variables at play, here. First and foremost are the aforementioned bathroom habits; if you act like you’re trying to take the finish off a table with sandpaper, you’re probably burning through number of extra (and unnecessary) rolls. You’ll definitely want to click on the site’s “Advanced Options” to increase your “average number of wipes per trip” and get a more accurate result (you savage).That’s also important for managing all the crazy configurations of rolls you can buy. The mega and ultra and super-mega and gargantua rolls usually say on the packaging what they’re equivalent in “normal rolls” happens to be, so make sure you adjust accordingly. And while none of us know how long our various quarantines will last, you can at least put in a decent estimate—30 days?—to see, percent-wise, how long your stash might last.Is this website silly? You bet. Do you probably have a good idea of how long your TP might last? Sure. But since you probably have a lot of time to kill while you work from home—and I have seen friends get meticulous about tracking every bit of food and possibly sold-out supplies in their house—why not spend a little time with the world’s most precise calculator of toilet paper?My advice? Screenshot your advanced options, then you don’t have to recalculate them when you revisit the site, which resets to defaults upon each load. That way, you can knock off your roll count without having to waste even more time thinking about how much you deal with your butt each day.

2mins

23 Mar 2020

Rank #17

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Get Notified When a Grocery Pickup Slot Is Available

The last time I got groceries, it only happened after a solid seven days of refreshing my cart periodically, sometimes constantly, in order to secure a delivery window. A new web-based tool could make the process a lot less painful for you, provided you live in an area where curbside pickup is an option.I have bad asthma that makes it difficult for me to wear thick masks for a prolonged period of time, transforming every grocery aisle into a potential war zone. Food shopping still has to happen though, a fact that has resulted in some creative dining at my house, courtesy of the local bodega that stocks a limited selection of grocery items.Getting a delivery or pickup window on grocery store sites is increasingly difficult, so much so that Amazon has started a waitlist for new customers to sign up to use its service in order to control the demand.If you’re like me and need to get groceries from a larger store without going inside, the new service Curb Run might be able to help. After you sign up and agree to receive texts, the site will let you know when a curbside pickup option is available at a grocery store near you.The idea here is that you’ll already have filled your cart on the grocery store website of choice, including your payment info. You can then set up an alert on Curb Run indicating how far you’re willing to travel for groceries, what store you want to get them from and what day you’d ideally want to pick them up. Enter your phone number you’ll receive an automated text when the site locates a curbside pickup option available.Unfortunately, the site only works with large chains—and not all of them—but it supports a pretty healthy list of familiar brands, including Wegmans, Safeway, Albertsons, Food Lion, Vons, Smith’s Fry’s, Ralphs and Fred Meyer.I gave it a test drive this morning and received a text about available curbside pickup options 20 miles from my house roughly 15 minutes later.That text doesn’t save you a spot, it’s merely lets you know one exists. Once you get that notification, it’s up to you to quickly load up that grocery store’s site and complete your transaction—hopefully before someone else snags the available pickup time. That means the best way to pull this off is to have the page open and ready to go and keep your eye on your phone so you can pounce quickly as soon as the text alert chimes.It’s not a foolproof system, but if you’ve been trying for a while, it might be just what you need to finally make eggs and milk happen.

3mins

29 Apr 2020

Rank #18

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What Actually Happens When You Block Someone on Your iPhone

Have you ever wondered what happens when you block someone on your iPhone? What really happens? You can block contacts through your Messages, FaceTime and Phone apps. Blocking a contact in one app will block them across the board. However, blocking doesn’t prevent someone from trying to reach you. They won’t get a pleasant “your number has been blocked” notification from Siri, but they might start to wonder why you aren’t answering their messages.

2mins

11 May 2020

Rank #19

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If You Want Grocery Delivery, Get on the Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Waiting Lists Now

If you were thinking about trying Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market delivery or pickup services for the first time, be aware that you might have to spend some time on a waiting list before you can use either service to shop for groceries—so you might want to put yourself on that list right now.

2mins

21 Apr 2020

Rank #20