There are plenty of little home remedies for jump-starting balky gadgets.
There’s the blow dryer technique to warm the ink in an old toner cartridge to get it flowing; or the register at the supermarket checkout that only works when the cashier wraps the credit card in a plastic bag. My personal favorite is the trick where you use your head as an antenna: let’s say you’re pushing the button but you’re out of remote range for your car door opener. Touch the metal part of the key fob to your chin, hit the button again, and this time you’ve got it.
Nothing tops the kitchen when it comes to tech support.
It’s a treasure trove of fix-it potential. There’s wood and metal; things that cool and things that heat; hard surfaces and soft; sticky and smooth. Combine a little patience with some ingenuity and a well-stocked pantry, and look what you can accomplish.
Boost your home Wi-Fi
Most home routers project the signal in a circle. But most routers sit near the wall where the connection comes in to your home. That means that half of its signal is drifting outside through the wall. A couple of cookie sheets or a semi-circle of foil will redirect the signal back into your house.
Keep your phone charged
Did you forget your cell phone charger again?
Put the phone in a cold place—the freezer compartment of the minibar fridge in your hotel room, or just a nice cold windowsill in wintertime. The cold will slow down the chemical processes inside the phone’s battery and extend the life of the charge.
New life for old iPods
Early generations of iPods were plagued by temperamental hard drives that would lose their alignment. We’d constantly power up and power down, give them a shake or a gentle smack. Sometimes it worked; most of us moved on to newer, more reliable models.
A night in the freezer might bring it back to life; the hard drive contracts from the cold, and more often than not it reseats itself properly as it thaws.
Safely fix scratchy disks (better than the method you use now)
CD and DVD lasers read data from a metal disk protected by a thin layer of plastic. When that top layer is scratched, a lot of people reach for an abrasive cleaner that makes the scratches shallower by rubbing off more plastic. Not the safest for data, but it works. Better still is a method that restores the protective layer: peel a banana and rub the fruit on the disk; then rub it in with the inside of the peel. Wipe away the excess and it’s indistinguishable (to you or to a laser) from the plastic coating.
Dry a wet cellphone
Studies tell us that one in three smartphone users bring their phones with them into the bathroom, and eventually, more than half of them will drop it into the toilet. Act fast and it might be resuscitated.
Take out the battery, wipe it all dry, inside and out, and put the phone and battery in a bowl of rice. It’s the same principle as a few grains of rice in a salt shaker—rice has a kind of magnetic attraction for water molecules and if you leave the phone in there overnight the rice will pull out all the moisture. As long as the battery didn’t get soaked, the phone should be fine, although considering where it’s been, a little cleaning might be in order.