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kottke.org posts about hacks

Hack 2 Work, tips for designers

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 09, 2009

Hack 2 Work is a series of tips and tricks for designers from Core77. Looks good so far. Check out Liz Danzico’s How to Learn About Your Clients From Their Table Manners (to be taken with a grain of salt, I’m sure):

When the food arrives, does your client salt and pepper the food before he or she tastes it? If so, this is a clear sign that your client is potentially closed-minded, not open to new ideas, or set in his or her ways. If your client first tastes the food, and then adds salt or pepper, tremendous. This suggests your client has opinions, and is not afraid to exercise them-but only after the voice of the “creator” (in this case the chef) has been fairly given a chance first.

and How to Make Your Client’s Logo Bigger Without Making Their Logo Bigger from Michael Bierut:

Like all con games, this one is based on the illusion that the sucker has the advantage. In this case, it’s the conviction that this kind of client always has that it’s your job to do as they say. Little do they realize that your final allegiance is not to them, but to the quality of the work, something that you cannot in good conscience permit them to jeopardize with their lack of taste.

Update: James Grimmelmann shares his similar tip for lighting designers:

The lighting-designer version of this is to tell the director that yes, you can make the lights brighter, but you’ll need to turn off the power for a few minutes while you change some of the wiring. Turn everything off, wait fifteen minutes while the director’s eyes adjust to the dark, then turn everything back on. It sure does look brighter now, doesn’t it?

We Work Remotely

Emergency cuff links

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2009

If you have two pair of small binder clips:

Binder Clips

then you also have a pair of emergency cuff links.

Clever low-tech hacks

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 19, 2009

Paul Boutin shares a number of low-tech fixes for high-tech problems.

Suppose your remote car door opener does not have the range to reach your car across the parking lot. Hold the metal key part of your key fob against your chin, then push the unlock button. The trick turns your head into an antenna, says Tim Pozar, a Silicon Valley radio engineer.

Mr. Pozar explains, “You are capacitively coupling the fob to your head. With all the fluids in your head it ends up being a nice conductor. Not a great one, but it works.” Using your head can extend the key’s wireless range by a few car lengths.

Regarding the solution for too much camera flash (tape a piece of paper over the flash), I’ve also seen people hold a spoon in front of the flash and bounce it off of the ceiling or a nearby wall.

Charging an iPod with an onion and Gatorade

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2008

How to charge your iPod using just an onion and some Gatorade. Oh yeah? When we were kids, we ran digital clocks off of potatoes and loved it! Fear the power of the tuber!

Update: It’s a myth, busted by Mythbusters no less. Like I said, tubers rule. (thx, everyone)

Ikea Hacker is a site that highlights

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 18, 2007

Ikea Hacker is a site that highlights using Ikea furniture and products in creative ways.

Paul Ford has some fun at Business 2.0

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2005

Paul Ford has some fun at Business 2.0’s expense and invents Blogverthacking[TM] in the process.

Clive Thompson on Life Hackers in the

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2005

Clive Thompson on Life Hackers in the NY Times. I’d informally heard about the benefit of larger screens on productivity (I feel more productive with a larger screen), but this article describes some study results: “On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly - and some as much as 44 percent more quickly.”

Solution for those scratches on your easily-damaged

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 10, 2005

Solution for those scratches on your easily-damaged iPod nano: polish with Brasso liquid abrasive and seal with invisibleShield.

Frustrated with his morning personal grooming routine,

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2005

Frustrated with his morning personal grooming routine, man creates an all-in-one solution that speeds his morning along. Convergence is here, my friends.

The popcorn hacks post seems to have

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2005

The popcorn hacks post seems to have struck the wrong note with the humorless but elsewhere people have gotten into the spirit, contributing their own useless household hacks (I added the “personal locomotion” hack)…although the name hack (“Google Image Search exotic names to determine if they are male or female”) is actually pretty clever.

Fun little read on how a guy

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 08, 2005

Fun little read on how a guy named Michael Larsen hacked the Press Your Luck game show: “In November of 1983, he recorded every episode of Press Your Luck over the course of several weeks. He studied these videotapes, slowed them down, and froze the images to examine randomized tile sequences frame by frame. If you haven’t already guessed, Michael Larsen discovered that the Big Board on Press Your Luck was not a randomized display, but an iterative, sequential pattern which gave itself away once you knew what to look for.” (via cyn-c)

Popcorn hacks

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 07, 2005

If you’ve got a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s Butter microwave popcorn on hand but no microwave, there’s no need to panic. Just tear open the bag and pour the kernels into a large pot. Put over medium heat. The kernels will be in a big clump of congealed butter-like substance…break them apart with a wooden spoon as the pot heats up and the “butter” starts to melt.

When the “butter” is melted, stir the kernels around with the spoon so they don’t burn. At this point, you may want to don some protective eyewear so that when the first kernels pop, you don’t get hot butter-like liquid in your eye; I just put on my sunglasses. When the first kernels pop, cover the pot and shake it across the burner so the kernels don’t burn. Stop periodically to listen for pops and to exclaim, “I can’t believe this is actually working!” When popping stops, quickly remove from the heat, and get it out of that hot pot into a bowl. Eat. As good as microwaved.

The folks at Work magazine cooked up

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 22, 2005

The folks at Work magazine cooked up an Excel spreadsheet that will allow you to search for jobs at Indeed.com, thus fooling the boss into thinking you’re working. Just another way in which kottke.org makes you less productive at work.

Using your favorite Flickr photo, you can

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 19, 2005

Using your favorite Flickr photo, you can use this handy widget to make your very own magazine cover. I knocked up an issue of Hello, Cowboy! magazine featuring Tom Coates wearing a gigantic hat. Magazines have never been so much fun.

Short profile of British guerilla artist Banksy

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 03, 2005

Short profile of British guerilla artist Banksy.

Elevator hack: hit “door close” and your

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 03, 2005

Elevator hack: hit “door close” and your floor at the same time and it takes you right to that floor, express-style.

Directions for setting up a Bayesian spam

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2005

Directions for setting up a Bayesian spam filter to play chess.

Whoa, each key on this keyboard is

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 15, 2005

Whoa, each key on this keyboard is a little computer screen. I’d love to use the typeface of my choosing for my keyboard.

More than 100 quick and easy healthy foods

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 14, 2005

More than 100 quick and easy healthy foods. “An excellent list of healthy foods which need less than 30 minutes of preparation and cooking times”.

Steve makes prison wine out of moldy

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 08, 2005

Steve makes prison wine out of moldy bread, ketchup, grape juice, raisins, garbage bags, and tube socks. “It’s hard to believe this started out as a bag of fruit snacks and grape juice. Yet somehow these ingredients went from sweet and child-like to harsh and alcoholic quicker than Lindsay Lohan.”

Reimagined covers of romance novels

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2005

Reimagined covers of romance novels. My favorites are “For the Love of Scottie McMullet” and “Lord of the Tube Socks”.

Crosswalk button hacks thing a hoax from BBspot joke site

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2005

Crosswalk button hacks thing a hoax from BBspot joke site. Shoulda known it sounded too [something] to be true.

Pedestrian hackers discover how to click those

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 01, 2005

Pedestrian hackers discover how to click those crosswalk buttons to get the walk signal at any time.

How to open a bottle of wine

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2005

How to open a bottle of wine when you don’t have a corkscrew.

Google Maps hack: Iraq War casualty map

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 30, 2005

Google Maps hack: Iraq War casualty map. “This page shows the progession of US military casualties from the Iraq war. Each click displays 30 more casualties, starting from the beginning of the war. Each soldier is shown in at their home town. Click their icon for more details.”

Thoughts on turning the Sony Libre into

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 29, 2005

Thoughts on turning the Sony Libre into a “Universal Game Board”.

Fun new book from O’Reilly’s Hacks series: Astronomy Hacks

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 21, 2005

Fun new book from O’Reilly’s Hacks series: Astronomy Hacks. “This handy field guide covers the basics of observing, and what you need to know about tweaking, tuning, adjusting, and tricking out a ‘scope.”

Cassette tape DJ mixes music with his custom-built cassette decks

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 15, 2005

Cassette tape DJ mixes music with his custom-built cassette decks.

How to become an early riser

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 02, 2005

How to become an early riser. “The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week).”

How to fake a fingerprint

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2005

How to fake a fingerprint.