Put rice in your cell phone

Pax Arcana

diyAs we tumble screaming and red faced into our new Great Depression, we’re all going to need to learn to do a few things for ourselves. No more taking the car into the shop because you can’t figure out how to put wiper fluid in it. No more asking your Hungarian manservant to pick all the carraway seeds out of your loaf of rye bread (really, the essence of carraway is enough, am I right?).

Thankfully, the New York Times is here to the rescue with a series of tips for solving complicated technical issues with simple solutions. Warning — some of these solutions will make you look very, very foolish.

For example, consider the grave problem of not being able to unlock your Prius from a half mile away:

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.

Unfortunately the same trick applied to your spouse does not unlock the eternal mysteries of womanhood. Trust me.

The Times also says you can rescue data from a seized hard drive by freezing it overnight — which is true — and that you can milk your printer’s ink cartridge for a few extra drops by warming it up with a hairdryer. If your cell phone drops in the toilet, take out the battery and fill it with rice. Then steam for 20 minutes and serve garnished with parsley and black olives.

Oh there’s more.

Dirty CD’s can be cleaned with vodka, which is a waste of good vodka when you’re unemployed and reduced to cleaning your copy of The Low End Theory to remember what good times feel like. Your home Wi-Fi reach can be extended by placing a rounded cookie sheet behind the router. This little trick will also nicely complement your feathered mullet and brown bomber jacket, MacGyver.

I have a few of my own suggestions to add. For example, an empty milk jug with the bottom removed makes an excellent megaphone. Old newspapers (who doesn’t have a bunch of those lying around?) can easily be folded into attractive hats that keep the rain out of your eyes when you’re panhandling in inclement weather. You can line your hat with aluminum foil for increased durability, but be aware — this may interfere with your remote car door opener.

Low-Tech Fixes for High-Tech Problems [NYT]

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