Daily Archives: August 24, 2009

Icon-Only PermaTabs Collection Streamlines Your Minimal Gmail, Google Reader Tabs [Tip Testers]

Firefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): Last week we showed you how to set up space-saving, permanent Gmail and Google Reader tabs in Firefox, a process requiring four Firefox extensions to get up and running. Now it’s a touch easier.

Our industrious Gina Trapani put Mozilla’s previously mentioned Collections feature to good use to pull together all of the necessary extensions for one quick and easy install. So just head over to the Icon-only PermaTabs collection, install the necessary extensions (they’re all really solid extensions in their own right, so you won’t necessarily only be installing them for this purpose), and head back to our original post if you need help setting it up from there.






Yahoo Upgrades Mail, Messenger, and Search [Yahoo]

Yahoo Mail users are getting 25MB attachment limits and easier photo uploading, a new Messenger beta allows for full-screen video chat and social network link-ins, and searchers will get refinement and analytic results as part of Yahoo’s big Monday announcements.

The big thing that everyone will find use for is an increase in Yahoo Mail’s attachment size limits from 10 to 25MB. Multiple photos and images can now be selected for upload, and rotated and previewed before they’re sent. Yahoo’s also allowing Mail users to hook in third-party applications like Flickr, PayPal, Picnik, Xoopit, and ZumoDrive, and adding a consistent header to all its applications. These features, available in “New Yahoo! Mail,” should be rolling out to all users shortly.

Messenger actually has a whole new app out, one that allows for full-screen video chat and a side-panel Updates view that shows what your contacts have been up to on Flickr, Twitter, and other web spaces. The beta, for Windows only, is a free download.

Finally, certain Yahoo searchers will get results that offer both filtering by topic/subject, and contextual follow-ups when you search one term after another. As Yahoo explains it, if you search for “cat” and then “jaguar,” its engine should know that, based on the “cat” search, your “jaguar” is much more likely a creature than a luxury vehicle.

Tell us what you like and don’t about Yahoo’s bushel of new changes in the comments.






Make Firefox Faster by Vacuuming Your Database [Firefox Tip]

Firefox tip: Firefox 3.0's Awesome Bar added all kinds of features to the 'fox, but unfortunately it's also created some performance issues—for example, by upping the default history time, leading to larger, fragmented databases. This quick hack speeds things up.

All-things-Firefox weblog Mozilla Links previously detailed how to defragment SQLite databases with a vacuum command, but the whole process was a bit clumsy, and it required a restart. Now they’ve updated the technique with a simple bit of code you can run inside Firefox’s Error Console that requires no restart.

  • Open the Error Console: Tools menu/Error Console
  • In the Code text box paste this (it’s a single line):
     Components.classes["@mozilla.org/browser/nav-history-service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.executeSimpleSQL("VACUUM"); 
  • Press Evaluate. All the UI will freeze for a few seconds while databases are VACUUMed

Once the process is complete, you should notice a big improvement in performance, especially when using the Awesome Bar to search for a web site. While you’re tweaking away, you may also want to take a look at how you can speed up Firefox by limiting your history size.






From the Tips Box: Tire Patches, Itch Relief, and Underwear Firestarters [From The Tips Box]

Lifehacker readers teach us how to patch our bike tires in a pinch, how we can relieve itching with meat tenderizer, and that burning bras could save our lives.

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Fix a Bike Tire without a Repair Kit

Vigleik shared a way to fix a flat bike tire in a pinch:

My friend and I went biking in the mountains, and his tire went flat.. it was a three hours walk back to civilization. No repair kit or spare tube in reach. Just a strap on my buddy’s sunglasses. I tied lots of knots around and besides the hole in the tube, put it back in the tire and we were on our bikes in no time. Completely air tight for two hours!

dizzytired followed up with another way:

A friend of mine got a flat on his mountain bike once and also without tube, patch kit or anything, yanked the tube out and stuffed the tire with leaves from the side of the trail. Rode on it for another hour, no problems. Although he never said anything about the mess afterward.

Use Underwear as a Firestarter in the Wild

Photo by midorisyu

Terry points out that undies are a great survival tool:

On starting a fire – I read somewhere that many hunters found frozen to death have matches in their pocket. The problem is that they couldn’t get any wood burning (usually because it’s too wet). The point being that [it] isn’t getting a spark that’s difficult, it’s getting the spark to ignite your fuel. The solution? Burn your underwear. They say it goes up fast, and burns hot enough and long enough to ignite even wet tinder.

Print PDFs Straight to Dropbox to Save Time

Sara’s got a clever way of saving a step when she needs to stick something into Dropbox:

I have just set up this combination of Mac’s Print to PDF function and Dropbox. I thought of this because I always seem to be saving PDFs to the web receipts folder (Order confirmations, boarding passes etc.). I’ve been using Dropbox, and thought I should be able to print a PDF to my Dropbox instantly. And it is real easy to set up:

  • Make an Automator script that just uses the Copy Finder Items and select Dropbox (or an underlying folder) as the destination.
  • Save this script in the folder Library/PDF-Services. Whatever you name it will be the option in the menu.

Now when you print this script will be one of the options.

Relieve Mosquito Bite Itching with Meat Tenderizer

Photo by Dano

This weekend MacGyver taught us a few ways to relive itchy bug bites with uncommon materials. Now reader dafairlie shares another way of curing that frustrating mosquito bite itch:

My wife is a pediatrician and to [relieve] itchiness from insect bites she always recommends meat tenderizer instead of any other over-the-counter medicine.

The explanation goes something like this:

Insect bites itch because their saliva (an anti-coagulant) causes an allergic reaction on the “victim”. The meat tenderizer breaks down protein in order to soften the meat, but the insect’s saliva is also a protein. So, if you break down the saliva protein, the itch will stop.

Identify Unused Junk with a Two Box System

Photo by allygirl520

Andrew shares his way of identifying which ol’ junk should be tossed out:

When I read your article about 30 Day Lists it reminded me of my own system of how I keep junk down in the house. I have a box, all these miscellaneous things I cannot find a place for go in that box, the rubix cube, presents from grandma, etc. I have another box along side of it, if I use something from the first box, it moves into box number two. About twice a year, anything that has not made it into box two is thrown out, and the cycle repeats. Just saw it as an interesting method for all the other organizers out there.

Better Butter Stays Fresh Twice as Long

Photo by iLoveButter

Sandwich found a great way to keep butter fresh longer (and we love the name of the recipe!):

There’s an easy way to get butter that goes twice as far, stays spreadable when refrigerated, and is healthier for you: Better Butter! My mother taught me this (and made sure we grew up on it), but a quick Google search shows that we’re not the only ones who know about it – from USA Weekend:

Better Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil

Put butter and oil in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. This “Better Butter” will be the consistency of yogurt or thick cream. Spoon it into a bowl, or mold. Cover and put in the refrigerator to firm. Makes 1 cup.

Variations: Add herbs or fresh crushed (not powdered) garlic.

“Better Butter” has half the saturated fat of regular butter and, unlike most margarines, negligible amounts of hazardous trans-fatty acids. Another advantage: It spreads well at refrigerator temperature.

Per teaspoon: 37 calories, 5mg cholesterol, 4g fat (1g saturated fat when made with canola oil, 2g when made with olive oil).

I have to say though that adding canola oil is more seemly than olive oil… unless you like your butter to have a greenish hue, Sam I Am. :)

Also, you don’t have to waste a perfectly clean blender for this… just soften the stick of butter on a warmish surface, like on top of the fridge, in the sun, etc, whip it up until it’s liquidy, and then gently whip in the canola/olive oil.






Read Your Résumé from the Bottom Up to Reduce Errors [Resume]

Getting a job in this tight economy necessitates making a great first impression, which leaves little-to-no room for typos and other résumé mistakes. The Washington Post details some ways to help outline your credentials more accurately.

Photo by kafka4prez.

While most of their suggestions aren’t revolutionary (see: printing out your résumé), one of their tips seems like an interesting way to help avoid glaring errors. According to the post, prospective employees should review their résumés from the bottom up. The writer contends that this backwards approach will more fully ensure that you don’t skip over sections, as opposed to reading from the top down, which may lead to skimming more readily than working your way up.

The article also offers some embarrassing résumé gaffes to watch for. Hit up the full link to check them out, then let us know what you do to ensure that your résumé appears spotless in the comments. And remember to ditch these six words from the fold when creating yours.






Search Speedcine to Watch Movies for Free [Movies]

Want to watch movies for free? Speedcine indexes movies and where they can be watched for free—and legally—across the web.

Speedcine indexes feature length movies—by their definition at least 60 minutes long and not television shows—they currently have 13,000 movies in their database. When you search for a movie, you're provided with multiple ways to watch the movie.

The primary link is to the free streaming source—movies come from providers like Hulu, Jaman, and Crackle, all of which are authorized to stream the movies. Other links, when available, point to services like iTunes, Amazon VOD, Netflix (Watch Instantly), and so on. Part of Speedcine's revenue stream is generated by referrals to these services, although if you already have a Netflix account, for example, you can just sign in and add the movie to your queue.

Speedcine is a free service and requires no login.






Complete Guide to Making Outlook Faster (Than Molasses) [Microsoft Outlook]

If you are stuck using Microsoft Outlook to send those TPS reports at work, you've already experienced just how painfully slow it can get—but with a few quick tips you can make it usable again.

Install Service Pack 2 (or later)

While you might keep up to date on all of your Windows patches, too many people are running outdated versions of Microsoft Office (not to mention other applications). You'll want to install the very latest service pack—because Service Pack 2 has fixed a ton of performance issues for users with large mailboxes or anybody using IMAP to access their email.

The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2) [Microsoft]

Download Complete IMAP Items (Like POP Does)

When you are using IMAP to access your Gmail (or other email) account, you'll probably notice that Outlook can hang, stutter, and just generally become completely unusable—but it works just fine with POP accounts. You can make the whole experience a lot better by telling Outlook to download the entire message every time you synchronize so you won't have to wait while it slowly grabs the message off the server. Head over to the Send/Receive Groups panel by using the Ctrl+Alt+S hotkey, then drill down into your account and choose "Download complete items including attachments". The first time Outlook syncs with your mail server, it might take a little longer, but you should notice a significant improvement overall.

Force Outlook 2007 to Download Complete IMAP Items [How-To Geek]

Set up Auto-Archive to Clean Your Mailbox

Keeping a nice, clean mailbox is probably one of the most obvious, but also most overlooked aspects of speeding up your Outlook experience. You can do it yourself by setting up a separate personal folders (PST) file, and then moving old email over there on a regular basis. If you don't feel like managing the archiving process yourself, you can turn on the built-in Auto Archive feature by heading into Tools -> Options -> Other and setting up your preferences for when to archive—you may need to tweak them to fit your own emailing behavior, but the key is to keep your daily mailbox nice and small.

Configure AutoArchive In Outlook 2007 [How-To Geek]

Compact Your Personal Folders (PST) File

This is one of those tips that almost all long-time Outlook users know, but it's still important to mention. All of your email is stored in a single .PST file that grows larger and larger as time goes on, but deleting messages isn't good enough because the file never gets any smaller. You'll need to head into the Files -> Data File Management menu, then using the Settings button to take you to the dialog where you can actually compact your mailbox, shrinking the file down and potentially saving you a ton of disk space.

Quick Tip: Easily Compact Outlook Data Files [How-To Geek]

Run the Inbox Repair Tool

You’ve probably never thought of running the built-in Inbox Repair tool unless you absolutely have to, but if your Outlook frequently crashes and requires restarting from Task Manager, you should probably give it a run to fix all the errors you didn’t even realize were there. Since your personal folders file is effectively a database, it’s important to keep it clean and free of errors. You’ll need to head into your Outlook installation folder, and then find the scanpst.exe file to start the repair process.

Fix Your Broken Outlook Personal Folders (PST) File [How-To Geek]

Disable Outlook’s RSS Feature

If you aren't using Outlook to read your RSS feeds, you might not realize that it's still synchronized to the Internet Explorer common feed list. There's really no reason to keep this feature enabled, and you can easily disable it by heading into Tools -> Options -> Other -> Advanced and removing the checkbox from "Sync RSS Feeds to the Common Feeds List". Don't forget to delete any RSS feeds once you are done.

Make Outlook Stop Using Internet Explorer’s RSS Feeds [How-To Geek]

Save Attachments (So You Can Delete the Messages)

Chances are good that the majority of used space in your mailbox is taken up by all those attachments that everybody keeps sending you. After a while, your inbox is going to get so gigantic that Outlook can't help but slow down a little, but you can easily find all of the attachments and save them somewhere else before you go through a big mail cleanup—just use the free OutlookAttachView utility to save them to a folder easily and quickly.

OutlookAttachView Lets You Save All File Attachments

Use the Mailbox Cleanup Wizard

It's not that difficult to sort a few columns in your inbox and figure out which messages are wasting the most space—but if you've got a complicated set of folders that you use to organize your email, you can quickly view all email that is older than a certain date, or too large to keep around. Head into the Tools -> Mailbox Cleanup wizard that gives you loads of options to quickly find and delete messages you really don't need to keep around anymore.

Quickly Clean Your Inbox in Outlook 2003/2007 [How-To Geek]

Disabling Plug-ins Can Seriously Speed Things Up

There are loads of great add-ins for Microsoft Outlook that add all sorts of great features, but often there are add-ins installed that are unused, unnecessary, or just pointless—and those are most likely the biggest cause of Outlook slowing down to a crawl no matter what you seem to do. You'll need to head into Tools -> Trust Center and click the Go button to edit your COM Add-ins, though Windows 7 or Vista users might have to open Outlook in administrator mode to be able to disable some of them. In my experience dealing with Outlook problems, this is the hidden one that most people never think of, but gives the biggest benefit overall.

Make Outlook Faster by Disabling Unnecessary Add-Ins [How-To Geek]






Import Facebook Phone Numbers into Your Google Contacts [Contacts]

Android users, iPhone users (anyone using Google Sync, in fact), and Google Contacts users in general with Facebook friends who list their phone number in their profiles will love this:

Brad Fitzpatrick offers a Greasemonkey script that exports those phone numbers to AddressBookr and offers to add/merge them into your Google Contacts. Even though this was posted last November, I just gave it a test run and it worked like a charm. Thanks, Nick!

Smarterware is Lifehacker editor emeritus Gina Trapani’s new home away from ‘hacker. To get all of the latest from Smarterware, be sure to subscribe to the Smarterware RSS feed. For more, check out Gina’s weekly Smarterware feature here on Lifehacker.






Zoho Notebook Gets Search, Moving, and Export [Notes]

Not one to stop tweaking and improving, Zoho‘s integrated notebook tool recently added universal search, HTML import and export, and tools to move your notes around between notebooks and pages.

Search is the big new thing here, because without a reliable search tool, notebooks lose their ability to help you quickly recall things you once had a dash of inspiration to write. Zoho’s right-hand search bar grabs notes from particular notebooks or all of them, and clicking on any results opens that note in a new tab, so you can try a few different spots to find what you’re looking for.

The import/export tools make it easy to pull in notes from other web sources that support HTML formatting. Are you a Zoho fan, or a Notebook user in particular? Tell us how you use it, and what still needs adding, in the comments.






Learn to Use a Seriously Sharp Knife [Video Demonstration]


Chef Roger Mooking believes your hands are “your most powerful tools in the kitchen,” but he also advocates using only the sharpest knife. He demonstrates in a short video how to use them together.

Mooking is showing off a hand technique similar to the chef we shot for tips on dicing an onion like a pro, but, to be honest, the camera work here's a little steadier. There's also a good verbal explanation and mental reminder on what you should be doing—"cupping" the hand next to the knife, without having it feel tensed or squished.

Mooking’s got a way with a chile pepper. What other knife skills have you picked up in the kitchen, professional or home? Enlighten your fellow chefs in the comments.






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