Life Hacks – Spoken Edition
Summary: 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
When it comes to packing, I’ve gotten my routine down to such a perfect science that can I can pack for a two-week international trip in 15 minutes or less and not forget anything I need. That is except my toothbrush. That I accidentally leave behind pretty much every single time I travel — until this week when I brought three with me thanks to a little planning from past me. I’m not entirely certain why I can’t manage to pack a toothbrush.
I travel a ton, which means I tend to skip scheduling things like future haircuts while I’m at the salon because I’m not sure I’ll actually be in town when it comes time for the appointment. It makes sense, but it also leads to me looking in the mirror the first day of a two-week trip and realizing I’m desperately in need of a trim.
Alexa is designed to work with your voice, but sometimes yelling out to the virtual assistant isn’t exactly ideal. Now you can talk to Alexa and use most of her abilities right from Slack. It’s called SilentEcho. Developed by Bespoken, the bot (which is in beta right now) uses text-to-speech to take the words you type and turn them into speech.
You have a splitting headache, but the only medicine you have expired six months ago. Should you take it or toss it out? The jury’s still out, but a recent ProPublica investigation found that most medicines still work beyond their marked expiration dates, though it stopped short of recommending that consumers go ahead and take expired drugs. A few drugs they tested did actually expire, but most expired 5.5 years past the listed date—some even worked up to 20 years after the date.
If it feels like there are a lot more commercials on network TV these days, it’s not just because you’ve become accustomed to ad-free Netflix. A thread on AVS Forum from 2013 found that TBS sped up episodes of Seinfeld by 7.5 percent to air more ads.
At some point, most of us have tried to use a chore chart or wheel, or maybe just a list, to get our partners and housemates and families to do their share of the tasks that keep our homes running. But we also know the sinking feeling of seeing the dishes pile up—and then rolling up our sleeves to do it ourselves. Well, maybe the reason you’re stuck doing all the chores is because you’re using one chart. When really, you need two.
Signing up for an online account is something we do so often that we lose track of all the websites we’re subscribed to. You’ll only remember when they send you an email with a promotion. I know I always do. But there are many online tools that can help you clean up your footprint online. A new tool I recently came across is Deseat.Me, a web app that scans your email accounts for services you’ve signed up for, and then puts them on a list for you to delete or keep.
It’s a bad day to breathe in a city. As I write this post, there are air quality alerts in D.C., NYC, Louisville, Columbus, Sacramento, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, and honestly I got sick of listing these so just find your home on this map. In all these areas, children, the elderly, and people with existing breathing issues should limit outdoor time. This is just one data point in a persistent problem. In New York City alone, air pollution causes over 2,000 premature deaths a year.
Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, I’ve been dreading the day notifications to add someone I’ve never met to my professional network pop up in my screen. Turns out that day is here, with LinkedIn announcing its Windows 10 app that comes complete with notifications about whatever professional bullshit you don’t care about. Luckily, you can change what apps demand your attention in the Windows 10 Action Center.
Mechanical problems, a lack of funding, and inconsistent schedules are turning the MTA into a nightmare. What’s worse, on the off chance you’re blessed with a seat, you’re probably running into more manspreaders, people (guess what kind) who decide their self-confidence requires more seat than they paid for.
Ridesharing services have made many of our time-strapped lives easier, but with these conveniences come a host of other problems: issues with driver and passenger safety, corporate scandals, and of course, the potential for vehicular accidents. Whether the car you’re in gets into a fender bender or rear-ended, here’s what you need to know.
You will never accomplish everything you want. It’s a hard truth to deal with, but if you don’t, you’ll waste your life on unrealistic, unnecessary projects: renovating your entire home, writing a novel, repealing and replacing Obamacare. Sometimes it’s time to give up, like Mitch McConnell did last night after two more senators dropped support for the bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. We’ve written a lot about the art of quitting.
Telecommuting is pretty easy now. Skype, Slack, and good ol’ Gchat—excuse me, Google Hangouts—make communicating with your colleagues down the hall or around the world a breeze whether you’re in the office or not. But if you’re concerned about starting a telecommute program, or want to start a trial run with your boss, be sure to start small, and provide feedback that’ll help you work from home again in the future.
Wrapping up the work week on a beautiful summer day sometimes feels like a slog, and for good reason. The days are hotter, you aren’t getting much done, and your weekend plans are getting closer by the minute. It might sound inefficient, but the increasingly popular early dismissal “Summer Fridays” work perk benefits not only you, but your employer as well.
Some of us just aren’t great at remembering faces, which can result in an awkward moment when we think we’re meeting someone for the first time and they say we’ve met before. Or even worse, we think we’ve met someone before and greet them that way, only to find out they have no idea who we are. Here’s a one sentence trick to avoiding these embarrassing moments.