Lifestyle tips, from the weird to the useful

On Blogs

October 09, 2005|By TROY MCCULLOUGH | TROY MCCULLOUGH,SUN REPORTER

A lot of bloggers have been busy collecting and posting tips, tricks and - as they've come to be known - "hacks" to help people live, work and play more efficiently.

Think of these sites as small-scale self-improvement guides or advice columnists for the information age.

Heloise would be proud.

"Lifehacker" (lifehacker.com) emphasizes getting the most out of your technology, but the site's advice often goes far beyond the high-tech arena. Recent visitors have found methods for increasing gas mileage in their cars, microwaving frozen dim-sum-style buns and herding lampreys.

Similar in name and theme, "Lifehack" (lifehack.org) calls itself a "daily digest and pointer on productivity." Recent posts include tips for e-mailing a professor, a guide for four ways to knot a necktie, and advice on safe and healthy eating while traveling.

"Tricks of the Trade" (trade tricks.org) compiles insider tips used by various professionals to make their work easier, such as this hint from a window washer: "Wash each side of a window in a different direction, e.g. left-right in the inside, up-down on the outside. Afterwards, if you see any streaks, you'll immediately know what side of the glass they are on."

"Slacker Manager" (slackermanager.com), on the other hand, offers tips on how to be more effective at being less productive. A recent post outlined The Four Hour Rule - a truly brilliant plan to impress your boss with your solid work ethic by skipping out on a half-day's work.

"43 Folders" (43folders.com) believes that efficiency and technology don't always go hand in hand. The site's creator set off an Internet buzz recently with an innovation he called The Hipster PDA (43folders.com/2004/09/introducing_ the.html) - a plan for using a pack of file cards and a binder clip as effectively as a $500 digital personal organizer.

For those seeking help at home, there's "Apartment Therapy" (apartmenttherapy.com), dedicated to helping people make the most of their living space. The site highlights innovative and stylish furniture and suggests how to enhance what you have. Recent posts have included advice on where to find a comfortable sofa and how to enhance exposed brick walls.

Likewise, "Deeper Motive" (deepermotive.org) offers many home-improvement tips, but its focus is on getting more for less. A recent post offered a tip on how to find and use copyright-free photos as inexpensive wall art. An earlier post showed how to make an iPod shuffle armband for $4 - about $20 less than the store version.

"Make Blog" (makezine.com/blog), from the do-it-yourself gurus of Make Magazine, has shown how to make a laptop sleeve out of an old sweater and how to make dog toys.

"Ask MetaFilter" (ask.metafilter. com) is a subsection of the popular "MetaFilter" group blog (metafilter.com) that taps into the collective knowledge of the group's 26,000 members. The site follows a basic rule that any question asked deserves an honest answer. Questions range from the practical - "How do you fall asleep when you're not tired?" - to the bizarre: "How would one remove one's own tonsils in a safe fashion?" Both questions - and thousands of others - have been asked and answered.

But back to Heloise for a moment.

The original purveyor of tips, tricks and hacks has also found her way online. Her Web site (heloise. com) offers advice ranging from hurricane cleanup to tattoo removal - but, unfortunately for all of the "how-to" bloggers, no hints on how to attain widespread success.

troy.mccullough@baltsun.com

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