×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Three Low-Tech Hacks for Phones and Tablets

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the your-super-thin-phone-doubles-as-a-terrible-bookmark dept.

Editorial 286

Bennett Haselton writes "Here are three hacks that I adopted in the last few weeks, each of which solved a minor problem that I had lived with for so long that I no longer thought of it as a problem — until a solution came along, which was like a small weight off my shoulders. None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.1. Fully charged spare batteries for your smartphone

OK, now before everyone starts shouting "DUH!", I can tell you that I was at a conference right before New Year's, and every day from about 11 a.m. onward, I heard people saying that their phones were about to die, that they would either about to drop off the grid or would have to spend the next half-hour shackled to an outlet via their phone charger, etc. I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends, none of them have ever tried it either. But that conference was my first trip after ordering two spare batteries for my Stratosphere from Verizon ($10 each), and it was also the first trip where I never had to waste a second thinking about how to stretch out the phone's battery life or how much time I had left. Just swap in the second battery at around 3 PM, and then swap in the third one at around 10 PM, if there was still anything worth staying out for.

You could instead get "extended life" batteries for certain models of phones as well, but they cost much more than the standard batteries, and some users report that they make the phone noticeably heavier and bulkier. There are also portable phone chargers — which charge themselves from wall outlets, and then carry a charge that can be used to re-charge the phone through the micro-USB connection — but of course they're bigger and heavier than spare batteries, and you have to leave the phone connected to it while the phone is recharging. I didn't see the need for either of those products after picking up two regular spare batteries.

The most inconvenient part of the process was recharging the multiple batteries at the end of the day — since I didn't have a standalone battery charger, I could only recharge the batteries by charging them in the phone itself, swapping each one out after it had spent an hour charging (if I stayed awake that long). To that end, it would be convenient if more phone manufacturers would make battery-only chargers, so that at the end of the day you could plug your depleted spare batteries into their own re-charger at the same time that you're using the normal phone charger to charge the battery currently in the phone, then go to sleep and let everything charge up overnight. There standalone chargers for some phone batteries, like the Blackberry, but they're in the minority. (Meanwhile, iPhones do not have user-serviceable batteries at all; when the battery dies and becomes non-rechargeable, you're supposed to take it to an Apple repair center to be replaced.)

It seems odd to me that phone manufacturers spend millions of dollars figuring out how to extend the battery life of their phones, and here's a solution that works for almost everyone who has a zippered pocket for spare batteries (and a phone other than an iPhone). But I didn't think of it for years, nobody else that I've talked to ever thought of it either, phone manufacturers don't steer people toward this option, and most of them don't make standalone chargers that would make the process easier. Well, now you know.

2. Hacked furniture to hold a tablet PC above your bed

For years I'd occasionally watched movies on my laptop in bed, and I always felt bit of a strain on my back or neck while sitting up and leaning against a pillow, but eventually the movie would distract me if it was any good at all. Then a week ago, in an act laden with heavy-handed but unintentional symbolism, I dumped all of the books out of one of my bookshelves to make it easier to watch TV without getting out of bed:

The protruding shelf is attached to the bookcase with a pair of metal clamps, and then weighed down with some heavy books to counterbalance the weight of the tablet. (You want the clamps tight enough that the shelf can't move at all, relative to the bookcase.) The tablet holder, a Zuwit 360 Degree tablet stand, is attached to the end of the shelf using its own built-in clamp, and then bent into a downward arc to hold the tablet.

In case you're wondering why I didn't just clamp the tablet holder to a nightstand next to the bed, the answer is that none of the tablet holders I looked at had a flexible gooseneck that would extend far enough. (Remember, the gooseneck doesn't just have to reach from the edge of the bed to above your head; it has to arch up and then bend downward to hold the tablet from above, all while giving you enough slack to reposition the tablet in the air if you want to.) I assume there's a practical upper limit on how long the manufacturers want the gooseneck to be; if it's too long, then when it's extended sideways it could bend under its own weight plus the weight of whatever it's holding. Hence the shelf extending out over the mattress.

To make this work, you need a gooseneck tablet holder like the Zuwit that specifically has short teeth protruding over the edge of whatever it's holding, to grip it so that it won't fall when the tablet is held upside-down. (I'd originally tried this with a BESTEK tablet holder, but the tablet gripper didn't have teeth coming down in front of the screen, so the tablet would occasionally fall out and land on my head.)

It was a bit of work to put together, but I've never felt rested in a more comfortable position while watching a 2-hour movie. All cheaper than installing a flatscreen in your ceiling, and better, actually, since you can reach up and rotate the tablet whenever you change position.

But as a proof-of-concept only, this is a pretty ugly piece of furniture, and while I'm able to get in and out of bed easily without hitting the protruding shelf, it gets more complicated if you're ever have "company." In my case, there's enough space behind the bookcase that I can tilt it backward, moving the protruding shelf and the tablet holder so that they're no longer over the bed. This solves the problem of how to get it out of the way, but not the fact that it's still a pretty ugly conversation piece. You can un-clamp the protruding shelf from the bookcase and hide it away, but you're still left with a bulky, empty bookcase oddly perched at the end of your bed, and that's too much of a pain to lift and move some place every time you want to assemble the tablet holder or disassemble it when you have company coming over. I want to take another go at it using a shelf attached to a stack of milk cartons — which would be even uglier, but much lighter and easier to disassemble and move out of the way.

Speaking of milk cartons and ideas that make my chiropractor happy:

3. Hacked furniture to hold a tablet in front of an exercise machine

So that's what I did with the BESTEK tablet holder that didn't work for holding the tablet upside-down in bed; it works perfectly well attached to a stack of milk cartons, where the tablet only has to be held sideways. Again, ugly. But again, easy to disassemble and hide if I know company's coming over.

Of course there's a space on the elliptical trainer (underneath the control panel) for holding books, tablets, and other reading/viewing material, but it requires you to crane your neck downward to focus on that space, and I always felt uncomfortable looking in that direction for more than a few minutes while exercising. The obvious idea was to hold up the tablet by attaching the gooseneck tablet holder to the control panel of the elliptical itself, but (a) the body around the control panel is mostly hollow plastic, which has too much "give" for the clamp to attach to it securely; (b) if the tablet is attached to the machine directly, then it jiggles while the machine is moving, making it hard to watch the screen; and (c) the gooseneck still doesn't reach far enough to hold the tablet higher than eye level, which is best for your posture if you're looking at it while exercising.

Hence, the tower of milk cartons. Now when I first went to the local Container Store and was told that a stack of five milk cartons would cost $60, I assumed I was being subjected to the usual downtown Bellevue yuppie price-gouging that also gave us $500 "minimalist" bookshelves available in the same store, but, no, that is actually what non-stolen milk crates actually cost. (They're so easy to walk off with, and useful as "modular furniture," that the International Dairy Foods Association as launched a campaign to get people to stop stealing them.) With a bit of experimenting, you can find the right height for the gooseneck tablet holder, and position the tablet so that it's far enough from your face for comfortable viewing, while still close enough that you can touch the screen. (The stack of books in the topmost crate keeps it from tipping over from the weight of the tablet.)

Of course if you work out on an elliptical at a gym, it's a bit less convenient to carry a stack of milk crates in with you. Maybe a tablet accessories company should come out with a portable, collapsible tripod that rests securely on the ground while extending upward to provide a thick, flat surface about 5 feet above the floor — where a gooseneck tablet holder could be clamped onto the flat surface and then hold the tablet itself in front of the user's face at the right altitude.

Then if you start watching a movie on the tablet while working out and you don't make it all the way through, you can finish the movie on the tablet while it's suspended above your head in bed. Gives you something to do while swapping out the batteries in your phone and waiting for them to recharge.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

286 comments

battery tip is great (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42657933)

I have multiple batteries and its great. One of the main reasons i don't like Apple hardware.

Re:battery tip is great (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658203)

Which would be a good point if power cases and power packs didn't exist for years for iPhones. But they do, so why hassle with swapping a battery when you can just stick on a case or plug in a cable?

Re:battery tip is great (1, Insightful)

solidraven (1633185) | about a year ago | (#42658263)

Cause I don't like encasing my phone. Just use a screen protector to ensure your keys don't destroy the screen if they accidentally end up in the same pocket. No reason to spend another 50 euro on a damned case if you can buy 5 batteries for that price!

Re:battery tip is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658763)

Sure there is: convenience.

Re:battery tip is great (1)

solidraven (1633185) | about a year ago | (#42659053)

No, the added "convenience" you see is what I see as a limitation. I can have as many extra batteries as necessary while I don't need to fiddle with cases.

Re:battery tip is great (2)

Krojack (575051) | about a year ago | (#42658239)

Some non-Apple phones are starting to switch to this as well though. Before I buy a new phone I check to see if there's an extended battery available. If so then I should be good to go.

Poor slashdot. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42657935)

Slashdot, oh how you have fallen. What is this shit?
-s

Wow! (5, Funny)

jason.sweet (1272826) | about a year ago | (#42657953)

I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.

Re:Wow! (4, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#42658075)

I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.

... there are those who believe this has already happened.

Re:Wow! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658233)

9/11. Never forget.

Re:Wow! (5, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | about a year ago | (#42658303)

"news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached"

Fear not...there exists a clamp hack for that.

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658315)

I think we should change the name to "news for people who didn't live in the 90s".
The poster is either senile or too young to have had a phone like the Motorola Star Tac.

Number 3 is kinda stupid too. My gym's elliptical machines have a "book rack" just below their built-in TVs. Strangely enough I was able to "hack" the book rack by placing my iPad on it.

There's an app for that... Re:Wow! (2)

Fubari (196373) | about a year ago | (#42658365)

r.e. original author: ok writing, though content / concepts seem like it would a better fit for the lifehacker.com [lifehacker.com] crowd. Maybe take the constructive criticism from here, like the "portable charger" idea below, revise accordingly and see if lifehacker will publish it.

r.e. "news for morons who couldn't find their ass..."
There's an an app for that: blutracker-locator [engadget.com] .
Attached ass or not, blutracker should help.

I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.

Re:There's an app for that... Re:Wow! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658517)

r.e. original author: ok writing, though content / concepts seem like it would a better fit for the lifehacker.com [lifehacker.com] crowd. Maybe take the constructive criticism from here, like the "portable charger" idea below, revise accordingly and see if lifehacker will publish it.

You might want to also include a section on using coupons from the Sunday circular to save money.

And how about one of cruising dumpsters for quality used furniture?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658615)

I agree with Jason.Sweet this is more of a hack in a derogatory way than in an impressive creative way.

2 out of the three are the same. (5, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#42657969)

1. get a spare battery.
2. get a long arm to hold your device for you.

Re:2 out of the three are the same. (-1, Flamebait)

McGruber (1417641) | about a year ago | (#42659015)

1. get a spare battery.

Can't be done for Apple devices.

2. get a long arm to hold your device for you.

Thereby making the iPad look as stupid as possible by trying to support itself like the Surface

How much did Microsoft pay for this article?

Re:2 out of the three are the same. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42659103)

Seriously, this "story" has GOT to be the worst thing I've ever seen on Slashdot's front page. Stupid shit that they post on April Fools isn't NEARLY this bad.

Slashdot - now "Hey, I thought of a half-assed, ugly-as-sin way to make something slightly easier."

Hack 4: Using the clapper to turn the lights off in your room. No more getting up for YOU!
Hack 5: Keeping forks, knives, AND spoons in the same drawer instead of in separate rooms around the house!
Hack 6: Get a coffee maker with a timer. COFFEE READY IN THE MORNING, OMG HAX!
Hack 7: Resting your elbows on a surface instead of holding your arms straight out in front of you to read.
Hack 8: The clapper! Because hey, duplicate hacks are FUN!
Hack 9: See hack 8.
Hack 10: Putting a clock on your wall so you know what time it is WHENEVER YOU WANT TO KNOW!
Hack 11: Keep your shoes near your front door, so you don't have to go as far to get them.
Hack 12: Drink water and eat food occasionally so you don't die
Hack 13: Blinking is useful for moistening your eyes
Hack 14: Charge your cellphone when you're not using it, or alternatively don't attempt to use it when there's no charge
Hack 15: My ass actually ISN'T a hole in the ground. Who woulda thunk it?

But seriously, does anyone know of any sites like Slashdot, but 5-10 years ago?

Mr. Haselton... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42657975)

What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Re:Mr. Haselton... (1)

cshark (673578) | about a year ago | (#42658291)

Ah come on. A little harsh, don't you think? And that bit about the exercise machine was kind of cool.

Re:Mr. Haselton... (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | about a year ago | (#42659003)

I was going to mention that I feel stupider having read this article, but I think your comment sums it up much better.

Jesus Christ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42657977)

I hardly see a recommendation for carrying an additional battery, or using bendable clamps to "hold things" (btw, how the f_ck does this count for 2 hacks?) a "hack". If that's the case, I hacked my radar-detector to stick to my dashboard, using only Velcro-tape! Oh the duct tape hacks....

news for herds, stuff that flatters.....

Portable phone charger is the way to go. (4, Insightful)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year ago | (#42658007)

I used to carry the spare batteries, but the portable phone charger can charge my phone AND other devices about 3 or 4 times. My ear is not tethered to my phone, so it's not a big deal to have my phone plugged into a plastic device that's about the same size as my phone. If you can't put your phone down for a few minutes at a time, then go for the spare batteries - but then you've got to figure out when you are going to charge them. Want to spend your whole evening in the hotel charging a variety of batteries in your phone?

Re:Portable phone charger is the way to go. (2)

AzTechGuy (1108805) | about a year ago | (#42658295)

I agree, plus many new phones are coming with batteries that are not removable, or at least not removable by the general public. I had two spare batteries for my old phone with a wall charger for the batteries. My wife uses them now. My new phone requires the removal of 6 screws to get to the battery and plug on the motherboard. I paid $32 for a 4600 mAh battery about the size of a phone. I can charge my phone to 85% twice with it. Totally the way to go, I can also charge my iPod and other phone models with it. That hot chick with a dead phone will appreciate you letting her charge her phone with your portable charger. No I just need the cable kit so I can jump start my car with it. :D

Re:Portable phone charger is the way to go. (2)

wile_e8 (958263) | about a year ago | (#42658749)

I used to carry the spare batteries, but the portable phone charger can charge my phone AND other devices about 3 or 4 times. My ear is not tethered to my phone, so it's not a big deal to have my phone plugged into a plastic device that's about the same size as my phone. If you can't put your phone down for a few minutes at a time, then go for the spare batteries -

I don't know about that. I have a portable charger, and while it was nice to be able to charge any device, it takes more than a few minutes to get any significant charge out of it. So if you're only charging for a few minutes at a time, you're charging for a few minutes at a time several times for the rest of the day. And if you're using your phone so much it needs a recharge in the middle of the day, you're less likely to be able to set it down and let it just charge. It was nice when I got my Galaxy Nexus with a spare battery - take a minute to swap the battery and then I don't have to worry about it the rest of the day.

but then you've got to figure out when you are going to charge them. Want to spend your whole evening in the hotel charging a variety of batteries in your phone?

Assuming you get a charger that can charge the battery outside of the phone, this shouldn't take any longer than charging the portable charger.

Re:Portable phone charger is the way to go. (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year ago | (#42658799)

Agreed. A spare battery becomes too much of a hassle. I used to use one for my laptop, but keeping the swapped out battery charged was a hassle, and eventually you end up always plugging in to charge.

My summary so you don't have to subject yourself (5, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#42658009)

1. Carry a spare battery.
2. Clamp your replacement tablet over your bed so you can masturbate without the tablet slipping off the bed and breaking.
3. Clamp your tablet in front of your treadmill - fuck it, you're never going to use that thing. Forget 3.

what is wrong with people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658017)

God forbid you mouth breathers go without entertainment while exercising or laying in bed.

When I exercise, I do it outside and look at nature while contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
When I'm in bed, I reflect on my day, week, month, year, life, etc. before falling asleep.

I cannot imagine finding enough decent entertainment to want to trade those two things for staring at a screen. What do you guys do on tablets?

Re:what is wrong with people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658053)

parent here,

P.S. These are not "hacks" I don't think that word thinks what you think it means

Re:what is wrong with people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658109)

Pr0n, obviously. The downside is that it makes the screen of touch devices a little sticky, but hey, you can manage

Re:what is wrong with people? (1)

solidraven (1633185) | about a year ago | (#42658351)

Heh, I sometimes do use a rowing machine or treadmill when the weather outside is horrible. Like with the ice right now I wouldn't make it 1 km outside without breaking a leg. So what did I do? Put the treadmill in front of the TV, hook up laptop, and watch a movie. Can't really contemplate the universe in your own living room when your cat is trying to attack the treadmill you're on. At least I've found it difficult.

Then again, when I do go running alone I do listen to music, but that's mainly to keep a rhythm for interval training. Otherwise I found this great entertainment form called asking a friend if she feels like going along! Though I guess we're too old fashioned.

what the fuck is this shit? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658039)

Carry a spare phone battery! herp derp.

You insensitive clod! (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#42658049)

Some of us can't swap batteries!

Re:You insensitive clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658173)

Then use a charger case or carry a power pack. Neither of which are any more cumbersome than carrying around spare batteries.

Re:You insensitive clod! (2)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | about a year ago | (#42658271)

that's the downside to getting an apple device *ducks and puts on fireproof body armor*

Re:You insensitive clod! (1)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#42658641)

Meh - I've replaced the battery in four separate iPhones in a total of five occassions. The 1st-gen, 3G, and 3GS were tricky to get into, but the 4 and higher are trivial, even if they have pentalobular screws. I wouldn't plan on doing it on a daily basis, but the vast, overwhelming majority of phone users don't burn through a single charge in a day. For the outliers there are external batteries. Yes, the slashdot crowd is different: your mileage may vary. But isn't the slashdot crowd all about consumer choice? Don't like Apple's implementation, take your cash elsewhere. I won't fuss, throw anything, or flame.

Re:You insensitive clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658673)

Luddite.

BTW, is it just me, or would the ideal phone use AAA (or possibly even AA) form factor batteries? This would be the pinnacle of mobile tech achievement, IMHO.

I know the industry isn't going that way, but a defector who took a user-friendly position could probably make some sales.

Someone has a serious problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658051)

Dude. Really? Ditch that crap and get a life for a change.

Re:Someone has a serious problem here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42659115)

Dude. Really? Ditch that crap and get a life for a change.

Dude. Really? Ditch that crap and get a life for a charge.

Extended Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658085)

You know one of the pluses of having an extended battery is that you don't have to fight with charging multiple spares - you just charge the phone as normal. Sure, a phone will be a bit heavier and bulkier with an extended battery in it, but that should still be better than carrying around a phone and multiple loose spares. Didn't a guy at Defcon have a loose battery set the ass of his pants on fire? You're not supposed to just carry them around in "a zippered pocket".

Milk Crates? (0)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#42658087)

Milk crates? Really?

Dude, can I borrow your car? There's an AWESOME stack of milk crates behind the Kwik-E-Mart just achin' for the takin'

We could build them into a sweet tablet holder.

Come on... (1)

zazzel (98233) | about a year ago | (#42658097)

You can't tell me that he was the first to have these ideas:

- Swap batteries! How could I NOT think of that! To be honest, I *did* buy spare batteries for my phones. But I never used them. Part of the problem is the loooong boot process of most current phones, another part is the flimsy back cover - and the fact that I use an additional leather cover for my phone. And the aforementioned rule of the USB chargers. Makes changing multiple batteries *very* inconvenient. I just pack a small 2xUSB / 2A charger and cables wherever I go. It's a good conversation starter to have another USB cable for the person sitting next to you (with the same problem). Plus, my phone would literally suck the batteries empty within a few hours.

- Hacked furnitures: I wonder what dimwit coined the word "hack" for that. But I guess that, just like me, there must be more people doing this kind of thing. Hold a tablet above my bed? My SO would literally KILL me. Exercise machine vs. tablet computer: I have that. But for a laptop, since I still don't own a tablet. And my phone is obviously too small.

Re:Come on... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#42658785)

I don't use extra batteries for my phone but I do always get an extended battery for my netbook. Between that and the battery it comes with, that's about 14 hours of use before needing a recharge. Also bonus hardhack, stick in a 4gb class 10 SD card into your slot and let windows use it to boost the speed, it does make quite a difference on low RAM machines like netbooks, where you can max out your memory fairly easily. What's not to love!

rnal battery like 10K mah Ravpower (1)

flydeep (923300) | about a year ago | (#42658105)

I think swapping batteries is a pain, try using an external charger like Ravpower which has a 2A usb port for quick charging and can charge 3-4 cycles equivalent of S3/iphone. As for the extenders/arm .. they are pretty low tech and obvious to many folks. Thanks for the sharing thought though.

Hmmmm.... (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | about a year ago | (#42658107)

Three obvious suggestions, three sarcastic responses:

Changing batteries has also been available for laptops forever. It is totally inconvenient. How much time per day do you spend managing your batteries?

Why are you watching movies on your tablet? Don't you have a nice big screen? Wouldn't a study pillow be easier?

And finally...real geeks don't exercise.

Re:Hmmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658333)

Or if you really want to look like a nerd.... Prism glasses!

http://www.amazon.com/Prism-Glasses-Eye-Bed-Spectacles/dp/B000RZNBF4

Re:Hmmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658697)

Geeks don't exercise, but geeks don't have technical skills either. They just wallow in their own filth to make the rest of us feel better about ourselves.

Smart people have strong bodies and minds, because they understand how to take care of themselves.

Pico-projector woul've been better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658125)

An inexpensive pico-projector woul've been a better solution to the last two problems and given him a bigger image to boot. The solutions look likely to drop the tablet onto the floor / his face at any moment.

redefining "hack" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658131)

In my day, a "hack" was building a serial interface to an IBM Selectric typewriter to turn it into a printer...

Today, a "hack" is buying a spare battery for your phone.

You're still standing on my lawn.

Re:redefining "hack" (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about a year ago | (#42658489)

Getting that spare battery installed into your tablet computer or your phone is MORE of a hack than wiring up an old typewriter.

Re:redefining "hack" (1)

Frontier Owner (2616587) | about a year ago | (#42658573)

apparently, hack these days is doing the obvious. Then again, he did qualify it by saying "Low-Tech", just didn't mention how no-tech it was...

Re:redefining "hack" (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#42658685)

Low tech hack (in my mind) is splicing a cable to change pinout for an AC adaptor or something. This is a strange blend of the least appealing aspects of consumer gadgetism and Steal this Book aesthetics.

Brand new hack! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658141)

I just found a new way to hack my desktop computer and you simply MUST try it!
For years I have been annoyed by having to bend down and turn my computer on or off.
I hacked it by putting a power strip between the plug and the wall and now can turn it on and off by stepping on the power strip's switch.
Of course I get all kinds of disk errors, but Windows does that anyway and almost always fixes things for me.
Now I don't have to do all that stretching anymore! /end sarcastic parody post
Makes as much sense as the asinine article posted up there.

Re:Brand new hack! (1)

NerdyLove (1133693) | about a year ago | (#42659039)

I know this is meant to be comical, but most BIOS/UEFI implementations have a setting to allow you to power on by keyboard. I never shut my PC off, but it's a nice option.

New low for slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658157)

So you use spare batteries... great "hack" there. So uber 1337.
And for rest of the article, you just bought tablet stand and used them.... to hold tablet or notebook? wow... I would have NEVER though about that!
Welcome to year 2013, yet another year of idiots calling any stupid advice hack.

Jesus H. Christ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658189)

How does this utter shit get splattered on Slashdot?

What imbecile calls these bailing wire rigs hacks?

external battery is great (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42658191)

I have a two generic external batteries that interface via USB cable. The only power it can't provide is to my laptop. Otherwise whatever device I have can be charged. It is imune to the mobile USB zoo., mini A, B; micro A, B. Just carry four cable, and one is sure to be set. Of course really 6 cables, as Apple has the dock and the new tiny one.

That an a multipot wall plug. And the charger for the battery as the requires a unique charger, and does not charge through the USB. I guess we can never win.

Oh I get it! (1, Funny)

kamakazi (74641) | about a year ago | (#42658207)

This article was really a very subtle commentary on the misuse of the word "hack", using a parody of creative reuse of household objects to point out that common sense doesn't require any special qualifications.

I am afraid that it is too subtle for most people to understand, especially those who normally use the stuff they own to accomplish what they want to do, as opposed to those who use the things they own strictly for the use pictured on the box.

Oh, also, don't most geeks have a camera tripod around somewhere? Wouldn't that have saved the ridiculous expense on the milk crates and the emotional stress of the ugly bookshelf?

I came up with a good hack the other day too... (4, Funny)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#42658219)

I got sick of scooping dog food for my puppy out of the bag with my hand, so I grabbed a plastic cup and started using that instead. I call it the "puppy food cup".

Sorry to "cool story bro" you, but that stuff is kind of weak. "Buying a new battery", "overcomplicated solution to replicate this. (note the standing function. Works great for me while in bed.) [amazon.com] ", and "I just bought college dorm room furniture" don't really qualify as hacks. Unless the slippers I bought this weekend qualify as a "temperature hack for keeping my feet warm."

Batteries (2)

zentigger (203922) | about a year ago | (#42658229)

The battery tip is great, but even better than "more manufacturers making out of phone chargers" would be standard sized batteries, or at the very least, standard battery connectors, so anyone could make out of phone chargers, or one charger fits all.

Re:Batteries (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#42658297)

There are plenty of battery chargers that has a simple usb connection to it so you can swap your charger cable to whatever your phone uses for it's plug.

Headboard (1, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | about a year ago | (#42658243)

Aside from the "this is a hack?" issue, get a headboard and clamp the tablet holder to that.

Replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658289)

My first "smartphone," the Samsung BlackJack was very up front about it's battery deficiency. It came standard with a spare battery AND a standalone charger for that spare battery. Every phone that I've purchased since, I've wished came with that.

Another feature I'd like to see, is some temporary power storage outside of the phone (maybe an extra cap or something) that could provide a few seconds of battery-less power to swap batteries without restarting the phone.

Really? These are "hacks"? (1)

NiteShaed (315799) | about a year ago | (#42658309)

"Get a spare battery" is a hack now?

OK, now before everyone starts shouting "DUH!", I can tell you that I was at a conference right before New Year's, and every day from about 11 a.m. onward, I heard people saying that their phones were about to die, that they would either about to drop off the grid or would have to spend the next half-hour shackled to an outlet via their phone charger, etc. I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends, none of them have ever tried it either.

Yeah, I'm going to shout DUH anyway. The reason people don't bother with spare batteries/portable chargers is that both of those things are one more thing to carry around that you're almost never going to actually use. Nobody wants to carry extra batteries around on the off-chance they'll die before they can recharge (which is why most iPhone users don't care about removable batteries), and in the case that someone actually predicts that their battery will die before they can recharge they do actually buy a cheap portable charger, or, more likely, they just say screw it I'll live until I can charge again. In the case of the former, it probably gets used once (maybe), and then tossed in the junk drawer never to be seen again.

As for the "furniture hacks"....dear god. We used to call this kind of half-assery "jury-rigging", which pretty much implied an ugly temporary fix that lacked elegance but got the job done. "Temporary" is the key word here. If you're going to use one of these solutions on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, put a little effort into the damn thing. Using wood-clamps to hold your furniture together might work, but it's hardly something to proudly show off to the world.

I appreciate a clever hack as much as anyone, but the battery thing isn't a hack, it's obvious, and the furniture stuff is really just sloppy, lazy jury-rigging for someone who doesn't want to put in a minimal amount of work for something just a touch less trashy. If you're okay with this kind of stuff in your house, that's fine, I don't care and if I came over I doubt I'd give it a second thought, but to showcase it on Slashdot? I don't get it.

Concrete block (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42658329)

while I'm able to get in and out of bed easily without hitting the protruding shelf, it gets more complicated if you're ever have "company."

Funniest line in the whole article, not a concern on /. especially not after installing the "camera mount" over the bed. At least have the discretion to install a tiny web cam instead of trying to use an ipad for your "home movie making"

Seriously though been there done that with the exercise machine, and milk crates are rickety (and $10 a piece?) but concrete construction blocks from home depot work better and are cheaper. Nice and heavy. Unless you're really hard core and use mortar, my advice is use cheapie orange cargo straps to clamp the bricks together, otherwise collapse is inevitable. You don't need DOT rated 5000 lb straps, just enough that "washing machine vibration" won't slowly gradually topple them. Duct tape might work too. Obviously this is more appealing in the "homemade basement" home decorating class of gym than the "I'm trendy let me show off my shiny new expensive unused gym" upstairs. The truly hardcore who build their own power rack out of cedar 4x4 landscaping posts in their basement will probably attach the tablet to the power rack. I don't have enough ceiling height for a power rack in my basement so I don't have this "problem". (and no a weight lifting power rack isn't 19 inches wide unless your body is totally weird)

For a couple decades I've done the treadmill in front of the TV and behind the couch thing. The idea was walk while watching TV. Rather than walking a lot, I ended up not watching TV a lot. Almost as positive of an outcome, I guess. Anyway a phone/tablet with hdmi out is an obvious solution to the treadmill display desire.

Please don't post a story like this ever again. (0)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | about a year ago | (#42658335)

I keep coming here, looking for physics, astronomy, and engineering stories.

Sometimes I get some good stuff.

Today, I want to cut somebody.

My own "hack" (not really a hack) (2)

msheekhah (903443) | about a year ago | (#42658373)

I got a virgin mobile 3g/4g hotspot. I got the 2GB for $35/mo, which comes with unlimited wimax. Now, after 10GB/mo they will throttle you to 2mb/s, so it won't compare to Google Fiber, FIOS, or anything of that nature. In my experience it's more reliable and better speeds than Clear. So what I did was take my service-less Android, set up Google Voice, and downloaded Groove IP for Android. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gvoip&hl=en [google.com] . So now I can make outbound and take inbound calls using Google Voice, carry the wireless hotspot in my pocket, disable 4g mode, and basically have phone and internet for $35/mo. As a single guy, this is pretty sweet. The virgin mobile is a little hard to activate, but the investment in terms of effort is worth it.

Lanyard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658393)

Having a wrist lanyard on my phone has saved it from countless screen-shattering drops, and is very useful when riding the bus, etc. It frees up my hand if I suddenly need to grab a hand rail, or do anything with that hand while the phone dangles from the lanyard. It's a shame most phones are eliminating the possibility to attach a lanyard.

Pro tip #4 (2)

dietdew7 (1171613) | about a year ago | (#42658409)

Store your extra cell phone battery in your front pants pocket along with paper clips, foil gum wrappers and loose change. You never know when a fire in your pants will come in handy.

I .. what the .. ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658419)

What the fuck is this?

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?

I'm AC because I can't be bothered to log .. I mean .. what the FUCK is this?

Why not go the whole way? Why not title the piece 'Three Secret Hacks No-one That Will Add Five Years To Your Life'. That's *real* link bait. $NUMBER $VERBS That Will $OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM.

Hacks? These aren't hacks. Someone had a vague idea, couldn't fit it into a tweet so instead shit it into a word-processor and scrabbled around to fill it out with more ideas. Yet they couldn't make it beyond three. Hacks? Changing the batteries in your fucking phone? Which of you unbelievable cunts upvoted this? It has appeared on the FRONT PAGE OF SLASHDOT, like a turd hung on a rainbow.

Is this the same Bennett Haselton who founded Circumventor? Who is dedicated to combating internet censorship? What irony, I now want to censor your post.

Metal clamps? COUNTERBALANCED BY HEAVY BOOKS? Is this April 1st? Did I accidentally fall into some timewarp and miss winter? And you'd tried it before but had to change your method because the tablet kept falling out and slamming into your head? How many times, Bennett? Did it damage the part of your brain that assesses quality of submissions on the internet?

MILK CRATES? $60? STACKED ON... I ... running ... WHAT THE FUCK.

I'm kidding. Well done. Ingenious. Do you have a blog?

Re:I .. what the .. ? (-1, Offtopic)

boundary (1226600) | about a year ago | (#42658569)

Had I not squandered all the mod points I had yesterday, I would donate them to your cause.

FRIST PSOT!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658497)

AMIRITE?!?!

ELBs (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#42658525)

Forget the nonsense and pay for the extended life battery, when available for your phone. They're worth it and changing a battery in the middle of a conversation is not an option. My phone works for hours more with my elb. Heaven.

Blogs. Ptheh! (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42658545)

None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier.

I take it it's "Slow News Day."

I'm going back to bed. Zzzzzz ...

Re:Blogs. Ptheh! (1)

tqk (413719) | about a year ago | (#42658621)

Depart not from the path which fate has assigned you.

/., wtf?!? There is so much stupid in that, I can't even begin to say where to start on it. It's Tuesday already. Don't do this to me on a Tuesday!

Jeebus.

First World Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658559)

'Nuff said

Re:First World Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658661)

Don't worry, the First World is spending their way into Third World territory. Sadly, the resulting schadenfreude of this situation seems to be enough for many. Misery loves company.

Cardio Bunny Much? (1)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | about a year ago | (#42658565)

Seriously, mounting a tablet in front of an elliptical? I find ellipticals generally useless anyways but if you have the spare energy and focus to browse the news on your iPad then you're just fucking around. Congratulations. You built no new muscle, burned 50 calories and wasted 30-60 minutes of your life. Go reward yourself with a Starbucks or something.

Seriously, go pick up heavy things or do some interval training. It takes the same amount of time, takes much cheaper equipment and setting up your tablet just right to watch stupid Youtube videos will be the last thing on your mind. Oh, and DON'T actually go for that sugary "coffee" swill afterwards.

Re:Cardio Bunny Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42659087)

Keeping fit is not a waste of time. I bring my tablet to the gym and watch whatever content I would like to watch vs. the drivel that passes for TV today (like Amish Mafia). In a typical 45 minute session I burn 350-400 calories on the elliptical and I am either entertained or informed while doing it, depending on what content I happen to watch. There's a ton of great stuff on iTunes U.

Running on pavement outside in the Florida heat--now that's a waste. Running is way harder on your knees than the elliptical machine and plus it's kinda hard to watch a video and dodge cars at the same time.

Making a shorter tablet holder work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658571)

You can also clamp the tablet holder upside down to a higher shelf, then you would only need 1/4 as much flexi cable to get it facing downwards.

(I confess I spent the last year trying to work on a zero gravity hard science fiction novella (and failed utterly). At least the brain damage from not having a fixed gravity well based coordinate system to think in could be useful in this context.)

PIONEERS

I find your lack of Duct Tape Disturbing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658589)

I am also surprised the milk crates look store-bought and not stolen.

USB Battery (4, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#42658667)

I use a USB external battery. I'll charge it at night right alongside my phone and then I carry it along with me. It connects to my phone using a standard USB->microUSB connection. (Apple users could use a USB->Apple cable, but I have an Android phone.) I get two "30%->100%" charges out of this battery. (I'll rarely let it dip below 30%. Given that, with heavy use, it usually will take about 4 hours to deplete my phone's battery this much, I can wind up going for 12 hours before needing a recharge. (Since I bought mine, other models came out which would give me 3 or more phone charges.)

The poster says that USB external batteries are bulky, but how much bulk would keeping 2 batteries on you be? Not to mention the inconvenience of having to open your phone's case, shut down your phone, open the phone itself, replace the battery (making sure to remember which is the charged and which is the depleted), put everything back together, and boot your phone back up.

This is the one I bought [amazon.com] ($30 on Amazon) in case anyone's interested.

I have a HACK! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658681)

And it's a work HACK, a HACK to use at WORK! I noticed I got hungry around 4pm so started buying a bag of biscuits when I was out for lunch. It's not much but it's certainly slashdot material.

We've been duped! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42658833)

I can only assume that Slashdot has thrown everyone a blow up clown punching bag.

So let's get this straight... (4, Informative)

cyberfunkr (591238) | about a year ago | (#42658899)

"Hack" #1: So that I'm not tethered to a wall outlet, or go off the grid, I stay up late so I can manually swap out batteries and wear out the plastic clips that holds them in. Assuming I own a phone that has changeable batteries.
Better solution #1: Buy a universal external battery charger which is usually a small box that can easily fit in your pocket with a 9-volt battery and a charging cable.

"Hack" #2: Empty an entire bookcase of books, buy a bulky and expensive holding bracket, and jury-rig the whole thing together just so I can watch a movie that I may or may not even enjoy. But at least I put some of those books to good use as a counter-balance. Although I hope I don't sit up quickly in bed and headbutt my expensive tablet.
Better solution #2a: Read one of the books on my bookcase. When tired, or when I have stopped enjoying it, put it down. Plus now I can get out of bed much easier.
Better solution #2b: If I really need to watch movies at night, but a $20 goose-neck lamp and use some bent coat hangers to suspend the tablet. Or if I don't like the movie, take the coat hanger bracket off, and use the lamp to be a bedside lamp so I can read a book. See #2a.

"Hack" #3: Buy milk crates (hey another place I can put all those books I displaced and don't read), and attach failed device from "Hack" #2.
Better solution #3a: Use a portable music player and listen to music or listen to an audio book.
Better solution #3b: Using a bungee cord and a decorative plate holder, and place the tablet over the console. You don't really need to watch the clock.
Better solution #3c: Buy a sheet music holder (under $40 for even an expensive one) and place it just in from of the elliptical. It collapses down much more compact than 4-5 milk crates.

I know a ton of great hacks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42659035)

Here's another great tip, how to use your tablet as a base in baseball:

step 1 - Put the tablet where the base goes.

Here's another amazing hack, courtesy of Steve Wozniak: how to use your tablet as a plate.

step 1 - Put food on it.

Here's a great hack for those of you who use the bathroom, it's a little more complicated:

step 1 - Buy a bunch of milk crates, and put them in your bathroom

step 2 - Put the tablet on the milk crates.

Note, that with a little ingenuity, all of these hacks also work for laptops, nettops and even macbooks! That is an advanced topic, though.

Stepping back 10 years... (2)

MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) | about a year ago | (#42659085)

" I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends, none of them have ever tried it either."

You need to expand your circle of friends. Before the iPhone, pretty much all cell phones had replaceable batteries. My old Nokia had a desk charger you could park the phone on for charging, and it had a slot to charge a second battery. This phone would go 3 days between charges (IIRC).

BTW - google "ipad holder treadmill" and you'll get a lot of options, including DIY versions.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...