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Three Low-Tech Hacks for Phones and Tablets 286

Bennett Haselton writes "Here are three hacks that I adopted in the last few weeks, each of which solved a minor problem that I had lived with for so long that I no longer thought of it as a problem — until a solution came along, which was like a small weight off my shoulders. None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
1. Fully charged spare batteries for your smartphone

OK, now before everyone starts shouting "DUH!", I can tell you that I was at a conference right before New Year's, and every day from about 11 a.m. onward, I heard people saying that their phones were about to die, that they would either about to drop off the grid or would have to spend the next half-hour shackled to an outlet via their phone charger, etc. I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends, none of them have ever tried it either. But that conference was my first trip after ordering two spare batteries for my Stratosphere from Verizon ($10 each), and it was also the first trip where I never had to waste a second thinking about how to stretch out the phone's battery life or how much time I had left. Just swap in the second battery at around 3 PM, and then swap in the third one at around 10 PM, if there was still anything worth staying out for.

You could instead get "extended life" batteries for certain models of phones as well, but they cost much more than the standard batteries, and some users report that they make the phone noticeably heavier and bulkier. There are also portable phone chargers — which charge themselves from wall outlets, and then carry a charge that can be used to re-charge the phone through the micro-USB connection — but of course they're bigger and heavier than spare batteries, and you have to leave the phone connected to it while the phone is recharging. I didn't see the need for either of those products after picking up two regular spare batteries.

The most inconvenient part of the process was recharging the multiple batteries at the end of the day — since I didn't have a standalone battery charger, I could only recharge the batteries by charging them in the phone itself, swapping each one out after it had spent an hour charging (if I stayed awake that long). To that end, it would be convenient if more phone manufacturers would make battery-only chargers, so that at the end of the day you could plug your depleted spare batteries into their own re-charger at the same time that you're using the normal phone charger to charge the battery currently in the phone, then go to sleep and let everything charge up overnight. There standalone chargers for some phone batteries, like the Blackberry, but they're in the minority. (Meanwhile, iPhones do not have user-serviceable batteries at all; when the battery dies and becomes non-rechargeable, you're supposed to take it to an Apple repair center to be replaced.)

It seems odd to me that phone manufacturers spend millions of dollars figuring out how to extend the battery life of their phones, and here's a solution that works for almost everyone who has a zippered pocket for spare batteries (and a phone other than an iPhone). But I didn't think of it for years, nobody else that I've talked to ever thought of it either, phone manufacturers don't steer people toward this option, and most of them don't make standalone chargers that would make the process easier. Well, now you know.

2. Hacked furniture to hold a tablet PC above your bed

For years I'd occasionally watched movies on my laptop in bed, and I always felt bit of a strain on my back or neck while sitting up and leaning against a pillow, but eventually the movie would distract me if it was any good at all. Then a week ago, in an act laden with heavy-handed but unintentional symbolism, I dumped all of the books out of one of my bookshelves to make it easier to watch TV without getting out of bed:

The protruding shelf is attached to the bookcase with a pair of metal clamps, and then weighed down with some heavy books to counterbalance the weight of the tablet. (You want the clamps tight enough that the shelf can't move at all, relative to the bookcase.) The tablet holder, a Zuwit 360 Degree tablet stand, is attached to the end of the shelf using its own built-in clamp, and then bent into a downward arc to hold the tablet.

In case you're wondering why I didn't just clamp the tablet holder to a nightstand next to the bed, the answer is that none of the tablet holders I looked at had a flexible gooseneck that would extend far enough. (Remember, the gooseneck doesn't just have to reach from the edge of the bed to above your head; it has to arch up and then bend downward to hold the tablet from above, all while giving you enough slack to reposition the tablet in the air if you want to.) I assume there's a practical upper limit on how long the manufacturers want the gooseneck to be; if it's too long, then when it's extended sideways it could bend under its own weight plus the weight of whatever it's holding. Hence the shelf extending out over the mattress.

To make this work, you need a gooseneck tablet holder like the Zuwit that specifically has short teeth protruding over the edge of whatever it's holding, to grip it so that it won't fall when the tablet is held upside-down. (I'd originally tried this with a BESTEK tablet holder, but the tablet gripper didn't have teeth coming down in front of the screen, so the tablet would occasionally fall out and land on my head.)

It was a bit of work to put together, but I've never felt rested in a more comfortable position while watching a 2-hour movie. All cheaper than installing a flatscreen in your ceiling, and better, actually, since you can reach up and rotate the tablet whenever you change position.

But as a proof-of-concept only, this is a pretty ugly piece of furniture, and while I'm able to get in and out of bed easily without hitting the protruding shelf, it gets more complicated if you're ever have "company." In my case, there's enough space behind the bookcase that I can tilt it backward, moving the protruding shelf and the tablet holder so that they're no longer over the bed. This solves the problem of how to get it out of the way, but not the fact that it's still a pretty ugly conversation piece. You can un-clamp the protruding shelf from the bookcase and hide it away, but you're still left with a bulky, empty bookcase oddly perched at the end of your bed, and that's too much of a pain to lift and move some place every time you want to assemble the tablet holder or disassemble it when you have company coming over. I want to take another go at it using a shelf attached to a stack of milk cartons — which would be even uglier, but much lighter and easier to disassemble and move out of the way.

Speaking of milk cartons and ideas that make my chiropractor happy:

3. Hacked furniture to hold a tablet in front of an exercise machine

So that's what I did with the BESTEK tablet holder that didn't work for holding the tablet upside-down in bed; it works perfectly well attached to a stack of milk cartons, where the tablet only has to be held sideways. Again, ugly. But again, easy to disassemble and hide if I know company's coming over.

Of course there's a space on the elliptical trainer (underneath the control panel) for holding books, tablets, and other reading/viewing material, but it requires you to crane your neck downward to focus on that space, and I always felt uncomfortable looking in that direction for more than a few minutes while exercising. The obvious idea was to hold up the tablet by attaching the gooseneck tablet holder to the control panel of the elliptical itself, but (a) the body around the control panel is mostly hollow plastic, which has too much "give" for the clamp to attach to it securely; (b) if the tablet is attached to the machine directly, then it jiggles while the machine is moving, making it hard to watch the screen; and (c) the gooseneck still doesn't reach far enough to hold the tablet higher than eye level, which is best for your posture if you're looking at it while exercising.

Hence, the tower of milk cartons. Now when I first went to the local Container Store and was told that a stack of five milk cartons would cost $60, I assumed I was being subjected to the usual downtown Bellevue yuppie price-gouging that also gave us $500 "minimalist" bookshelves available in the same store, but, no, that is actually what non-stolen milk crates actually cost. (They're so easy to walk off with, and useful as "modular furniture," that the International Dairy Foods Association as launched a campaign to get people to stop stealing them.) With a bit of experimenting, you can find the right height for the gooseneck tablet holder, and position the tablet so that it's far enough from your face for comfortable viewing, while still close enough that you can touch the screen. (The stack of books in the topmost crate keeps it from tipping over from the weight of the tablet.)

Of course if you work out on an elliptical at a gym, it's a bit less convenient to carry a stack of milk crates in with you. Maybe a tablet accessories company should come out with a portable, collapsible tripod that rests securely on the ground while extending upward to provide a thick, flat surface about 5 feet above the floor — where a gooseneck tablet holder could be clamped onto the flat surface and then hold the tablet itself in front of the user's face at the right altitude.

Then if you start watching a movie on the tablet while working out and you don't make it all the way through, you can finish the movie on the tablet while it's suspended above your head in bed. Gives you something to do while swapping out the batteries in your phone and waiting for them to recharge.

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Three Low-Tech Hacks for Phones and Tablets

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have multiple batteries and its great. One of the main reasons i don't like Apple hardware.

    • by Krojack ( 575051 )

      Some non-Apple phones are starting to switch to this as well though. Before I buy a new phone I check to see if there's an extended battery available. If so then I should be good to go.

    • but... they don't cost $10 is the problem + you need to buy a charger for them... assuming all this is available for your phone and you know how to open your phone (tons of business people don't), it'll run you $80-$100 for OP's set up. Or... you can charge your phone at night, or during morning rituals if you don't like having your charger plugged in. I get at least a couple of days out of my phone, less with heavy usage obviously, but I've never gotten to under a day.
      • Depends on the phone... I agree that the "solutions" proposed in TFA are a colossal waste of bandwidth, but the problem of not getting a full day out of your cell phone is a real problem for some people, and it's not a problem that's limited to older phones with older battery technology..

        Newer big screen phones especially tend to draw a *ton* of power just for the backlight. This is made worse in some cases when phones either don't have an automatic brightness adjustment or people turn it off (I've turned i

        • Nice, I've used somebody's portable generator to recharge before, but a solar powered charged sounds nicer, and more portable, just be careful to not leave your phone out in the sun with it, it will fry. Just like with cell phones of not-so-long-ago, the lithium-ion can't hold as great of a charge as time goes on, buying a battery at the 1-1 1/2 year mark makes a lot more sense to me than hauling two around. But, I just suffer till I'm eligible to upgrade again, my old atrix got about a day's worth of lif
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jason.sweet ( 1272826 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:38PM (#42657953)
    I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:49PM (#42658075)

      I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.

      ... there are those who believe this has already happened.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

      by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:07PM (#42658303) Homepage

      "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached"

      Fear not...there exists a clamp hack for that.

    • r.e. original author: ok writing, though content / concepts seem like it would a better fit for the [] crowd. Maybe take the constructive criticism from here, like the "portable charger" idea below, revise accordingly and see if lifehacker will publish it.

      r.e. "news for morons who couldn't find their ass..."
      There's an an app for that: blutracker-locator [].
      Attached ass or not, blutracker should help.

      I think we just went from "news for nerds" to "news for morons who couldn't find their ass if it wasn't attached" in one post.

      • The tablet tower isn't a bad idea, though I could see the milk crate tower easily buckling and collapsing, breaking the tablet when it falls from that height. You can get a package of cheap zip-ties to tightly connect the milk crates together, then put the heaviest items in the bottom crate for a safer, stabler 'tower'.
    • I know. I actually clicked to "Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts, and I feel so unclean right now. .The fact that I'm posting this and adding two more minutes to the sum total of time I'll never be able to get back just makes it all the more worse. On the plus side, I only read the boldface, so it isn't all bad now; is it []? Never mind. Yes. Yes it is.
      • Looking at your posting history, Mr. Six Digit UID, you really shouldn't worry about the minutes lost. You've lost hours, days, nay months here.

        Oh. Wait.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:40PM (#42657969)

    1. get a spare battery.
    2. get a long arm to hold your device for you.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:12PM (#42659103)

      Seriously, this "story" has GOT to be the worst thing I've ever seen on Slashdot's front page. Stupid shit that they post on April Fools isn't NEARLY this bad.

      Slashdot - now "Hey, I thought of a half-assed, ugly-as-sin way to make something slightly easier."

      Hack 4: Using the clapper to turn the lights off in your room. No more getting up for YOU!
      Hack 5: Keeping forks, knives, AND spoons in the same drawer instead of in separate rooms around the house!
      Hack 6: Get a coffee maker with a timer. COFFEE READY IN THE MORNING, OMG HAX!
      Hack 7: Resting your elbows on a surface instead of holding your arms straight out in front of you to read.
      Hack 8: The clapper! Because hey, duplicate hacks are FUN!
      Hack 9: See hack 8.
      Hack 10: Putting a clock on your wall so you know what time it is WHENEVER YOU WANT TO KNOW!
      Hack 11: Keep your shoes near your front door, so you don't have to go as far to get them.
      Hack 12: Drink water and eat food occasionally so you don't die
      Hack 13: Blinking is useful for moistening your eyes
      Hack 14: Charge your cellphone when you're not using it, or alternatively don't attempt to use it when there's no charge
      Hack 15: My ass actually ISN'T a hole in the ground. Who woulda thunk it?

      But seriously, does anyone know of any sites like Slashdot, but 5-10 years ago?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:41PM (#42657975)

    What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:43PM (#42657995)

    Clearly you're not a musician or you would have found this [].

  • by Andy Prough ( 2730467 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:44PM (#42658007)
    I used to carry the spare batteries, but the portable phone charger can charge my phone AND other devices about 3 or 4 times. My ear is not tethered to my phone, so it's not a big deal to have my phone plugged into a plastic device that's about the same size as my phone. If you can't put your phone down for a few minutes at a time, then go for the spare batteries - but then you've got to figure out when you are going to charge them. Want to spend your whole evening in the hotel charging a variety of batteries in your phone?
    • I agree, plus many new phones are coming with batteries that are not removable, or at least not removable by the general public. I had two spare batteries for my old phone with a wall charger for the batteries. My wife uses them now. My new phone requires the removal of 6 screws to get to the battery and plug on the motherboard. I paid $32 for a 4600 mAh battery about the size of a phone. I can charge my phone to 85% twice with it. Totally the way to go, I can also charge my iPod and other phone model
    • by wile_e8 ( 958263 )

      I used to carry the spare batteries, but the portable phone charger can charge my phone AND other devices about 3 or 4 times. My ear is not tethered to my phone, so it's not a big deal to have my phone plugged into a plastic device that's about the same size as my phone. If you can't put your phone down for a few minutes at a time, then go for the spare batteries -

      I don't know about that. I have a portable charger, and while it was nice to be able to charge any device, it takes more than a few minutes to get any significant charge out of it. So if you're only charging for a few minutes at a time, you're charging for a few minutes at a time several times for the rest of the day. And if you're using your phone so much it needs a recharge in the middle of the day, you're less likely to be able to set it down and let it just charge. It was nice when I got my Galaxy Nexus

      • If you get an underpowered portable charger, you've thrown away your money. My charger has both a "fast" port and a "slow" port for lower power items, and charges my phone as fast as plugging into the wall.
        • by wile_e8 ( 958263 )
          Mine does too. And even plugged into a wall, it takes well more than a few minutes of charging to last more than a half hour in the type of usage that drained the battery by the middle of the day. If I'm using my phone that much needing to charge it every half hour is a pain. Sure, if you don't need to use your phone, your method is fine, but every time I run out of battery early I'm on the go and doing lots of things with my phone.
    • by JWW ( 79176 )

      Agreed. A spare battery becomes too much of a hassle. I used to use one for my laptop, but keeping the swapped out battery charged was a hassle, and eventually you end up always plugging in to charge.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:44PM (#42658009)
    1. Carry a spare battery.
    2. Clamp your replacement tablet over your bed so you can masturbate without the tablet slipping off the bed and breaking.
    3. Clamp your tablet in front of your treadmill - fuck it, you're never going to use that thing. Forget 3.
    • Seriously? OP has not heard of spare batteries or standalone chargers? You can find one for any phone, with an stand alone battery charger for 10 bucks on ebay or aliexpress. The standalone battery charger that comes with these works with ANY battery (well any rectangular shaped three port battery, that is the standard for smartphones). Did OP even look at ebay before concluding the lack of standalone chargers?

  • Some of us can't swap batteries!

    • that's the downside to getting an apple device *ducks and puts on fireproof body armor*
      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        Meh - I've replaced the battery in four separate iPhones in a total of five occassions. The 1st-gen, 3G, and 3GS were tricky to get into, but the 4 and higher are trivial, even if they have pentalobular screws. I wouldn't plan on doing it on a daily basis, but the vast, overwhelming majority of phone users don't burn through a single charge in a day. For the outliers there are external batteries. Yes, the slashdot crowd is different: your mileage may vary. But isn't the slashdot crowd all about consume
  • Ugh (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthBling ( 1733038 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:50PM (#42658089)
    Soulskill is killing my soul with this "story".
  • You can't tell me that he was the first to have these ideas:

    - Swap batteries! How could I NOT think of that! To be honest, I *did* buy spare batteries for my phones. But I never used them. Part of the problem is the loooong boot process of most current phones, another part is the flimsy back cover - and the fact that I use an additional leather cover for my phone. And the aforementioned rule of the USB chargers. Makes changing multiple batteries *very* inconvenient. I just pack a small 2xUSB / 2A charger an

    • I don't use extra batteries for my phone but I do always get an extended battery for my netbook. Between that and the battery it comes with, that's about 14 hours of use before needing a recharge. Also bonus hardhack, stick in a 4gb class 10 SD card into your slot and let windows use it to boost the speed, it does make quite a difference on low RAM machines like netbooks, where you can max out your memory fairly easily. What's not to love!

    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      I wonder what dimwit coined the word "hack" for that.

      Probably some guy with a hacksaw.

  • Three obvious suggestions, three sarcastic responses:

    Changing batteries has also been available for laptops forever. It is totally inconvenient. How much time per day do you spend managing your batteries?

    Why are you watching movies on your tablet? Don't you have a nice big screen? Wouldn't a study pillow be easier?

    And finally...real geeks don't exercise.
    • And finally...real geeks don't exercise.

      A real geek will understand that without regular exercise, their brain will not run at optimal speeds and efficiency.

      Being sedentary is how you underclock your brain and reduce your lifespan.

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
        Only if you eat breakfast.

        Skip breakfast, and stick to carbs like potatos. Your body won't shift in to physical mode so takes all that energy and has it available for your brain which will then overclock itself seeing the body isn't being used.

        Eat breakfast and you become a dumb jock.

  • redefining "hack" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:53PM (#42658131)

    In my day, a "hack" was building a serial interface to an IBM Selectric typewriter to turn it into a printer...

    Today, a "hack" is buying a spare battery for your phone.

    You're still standing on my lawn.

    • Getting that spare battery installed into your tablet computer or your phone is MORE of a hack than wiring up an old typewriter.

      • I disagree, replacing a battery in a tablet: soldering 3 wires at most and some screws.
        Hacking a typewriter to act as printer: Figure out the internal workings, make a controller for it, make serial interface logic.

        My latest "hack" was hooking up a network analyser to a tablet so I could control it while I was near the actual setup. Though I use quotes cause it's not exactly difficult to hook up a run off the mill Bluetooth PHY, a microcontroller and GPIB interface. All without using a single Arduino or
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:55PM (#42658141)

    I just found a new way to hack my desktop computer and you simply MUST try it!
    For years I have been annoyed by having to bend down and turn my computer on or off.
    I hacked it by putting a power strip between the plug and the wall and now can turn it on and off by stepping on the power strip's switch.
    Of course I get all kinds of disk errors, but Windows does that anyway and almost always fixes things for me.
    Now I don't have to do all that stretching anymore! /end sarcastic parody post
    Makes as much sense as the asinine article posted up there.

  • I have a two generic external batteries that interface via USB cable. The only power it can't provide is to my laptop. Otherwise whatever device I have can be charged. It is imune to the mobile USB zoo., mini A, B; micro A, B. Just carry four cable, and one is sure to be set. Of course really 6 cables, as Apple has the dock and the new tiny one.

    That an a multipot wall plug. And the charger for the battery as the requires a unique charger, and does not charge through the USB. I guess we can never wi

  • Ugh (Score:5, Funny)

    by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:00PM (#42658217)

    I think I'm lost. Is this Pinterest?

  • I got sick of scooping dog food for my puppy out of the bag with my hand, so I grabbed a plastic cup and started using that instead. I call it the "puppy food cup".

    Sorry to "cool story bro" you, but that stuff is kind of weak. "Buying a new battery", "overcomplicated solution to replicate this. (note the standing function. Works great for me while in bed.) []", and "I just bought college dorm room furniture" don't really qualify as hacks. Unless the slippers I bought this weekend qualify as a "temperature hack for keeping my feet warm."
    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      > Unless the slippers I bought this weekend qualify as
      > a "temperature hack for keeping my feet warm."


    • I made up a little angled tablet stand out of cardboard/duct tape that works well. It isn't as pretty as the $14.95 one in your link, but all it cost me was an hour of time. :^)
  • by zentigger ( 203922 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:01PM (#42658229) Homepage

    The battery tip is great, but even better than "more manufacturers making out of phone chargers" would be standard sized batteries, or at the very least, standard battery connectors, so anyone could make out of phone chargers, or one charger fits all.

  • Headboard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by B'Trey ( 111263 )

    Aside from the "this is a hack?" issue, get a headboard and clamp the tablet holder to that.

  • "Get a spare battery" is a hack now?

    OK, now before everyone starts shouting "DUH!", I can tell you that I was at a conference right before New Year's, and every day from about 11 a.m. onward, I heard people saying that their phones were about to die, that they would either about to drop off the grid or would have to spend the next half-hour shackled to an outlet via their phone charger, etc. I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends,

  • while I'm able to get in and out of bed easily without hitting the protruding shelf, it gets more complicated if you're ever have "company."

    Funniest line in the whole article, not a concern on /. especially not after installing the "camera mount" over the bed. At least have the discretion to install a tiny web cam instead of trying to use an ipad for your "home movie making"

    Seriously though been there done that with the exercise machine, and milk crates are rickety (and $10 a piece?) but concrete construction blocks from home depot work better and are cheaper. Nice and heavy. Unless you're really hard core and use mortar, my advice is use ch

  • I got a virgin mobile 3g/4g hotspot. I got the 2GB for $35/mo, which comes with unlimited wimax. Now, after 10GB/mo they will throttle you to 2mb/s, so it won't compare to Google Fiber, FIOS, or anything of that nature. In my experience it's more reliable and better speeds than Clear. So what I did was take my service-less Android, set up Google Voice, and downloaded Groove IP for Android. [] . So now I can make outbound and take inbound calls u
    • I got a virgin mobile 3g/4g hotspot. I got the 2GB for $35/mo, which comes with unlimited wimax. Now, after 10GB/mo they will throttle you to 2mb/s, so it won't compare to Google Fiber, FIOS, or anything of that nature. In my experience it's more reliable and better speeds than Clear. So what I did was take my service-less Android, set up Google Voice, and downloaded Groove IP for Android. [] . So now I can make outbound and take inbound calls using Google Voice, carry the wireless hotspot in my pocket, disable 4g mode, and basically have phone and internet for $35/mo. As a single guy, this is pretty sweet. The virgin mobile is a little hard to activate, but the investment in terms of effort is worth it.

      I'm 'grandfathered' in to VM's $25 plan, but there is a "hack" for you to get the same plan you have for $25.

      After you've been a VM customer for a month or two, call them and tell them you would like to cancel your service with them because you found the same plan somewhere else for cheaper. VM will offer you the same plan for $25, because they want to keep you as a customer. It's worth a try, worst that can happen is they don't make the offer and you stay at $35.

  • by dietdew7 ( 1171613 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:17PM (#42658409)
    Store your extra cell phone battery in your front pants pocket along with paper clips, foil gum wrappers and loose change. You never know when a fire in your pants will come in handy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What the fuck is this?


    I'm AC because I can't be bothered to log .. I mean .. what the FUCK is this?

    Why not go the whole way? Why not title the piece 'Three Secret Hacks No-one That Will Add Five Years To Your Life'. That's *real* link bait. $NUMBER $VERBS That Will $OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM.

    Hacks? These aren't hacks. Someone had a vague idea, couldn't fit it into a tweet so instead shit it into a word-processor and scrabbled around to fill it out with more ideas. Yet they couldn't make it beyo

  • Slashdot is rapidly degenerating into the Geek tab at FARK.

  • Forget the nonsense and pay for the extended life battery, when available for your phone. They're worth it and changing a battery in the middle of a conversation is not an option. My phone works for hours more with my elb. Heaven.
  • None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier.

    I take it it's "Slow News Day."

    I'm going back to bed. Zzzzzz ...

    • by tqk ( 413719 )

      Depart not from the path which fate has assigned you.

      /., wtf?!? There is so much stupid in that, I can't even begin to say where to start on it. It's Tuesday already. Don't do this to me on a Tuesday!


  • Seriously, mounting a tablet in front of an elliptical? I find ellipticals generally useless anyways but if you have the spare energy and focus to browse the news on your iPad then you're just fucking around. Congratulations. You built no new muscle, burned 50 calories and wasted 30-60 minutes of your life. Go reward yourself with a Starbucks or something.

    Seriously, go pick up heavy things or do some interval training. It takes the same amount of time, takes much cheaper equipment and setting up your tablet

  • I do not think it means what you think it means (at least by the standards of this community).

  • USB Battery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:37PM (#42658667) Homepage

    I use a USB external battery. I'll charge it at night right alongside my phone and then I carry it along with me. It connects to my phone using a standard USB->microUSB connection. (Apple users could use a USB->Apple cable, but I have an Android phone.) I get two "30%->100%" charges out of this battery. (I'll rarely let it dip below 30%. Given that, with heavy use, it usually will take about 4 hours to deplete my phone's battery this much, I can wind up going for 12 hours before needing a recharge. (Since I bought mine, other models came out which would give me 3 or more phone charges.)

    The poster says that USB external batteries are bulky, but how much bulk would keeping 2 batteries on you be? Not to mention the inconvenience of having to open your phone's case, shut down your phone, open the phone itself, replace the battery (making sure to remember which is the charged and which is the depleted), put everything back together, and boot your phone back up.

    This is the one I bought [] ($30 on Amazon) in case anyone's interested.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:39PM (#42658681)

    And it's a work HACK, a HACK to use at WORK! I noticed I got hungry around 4pm so started buying a bag of biscuits when I was out for lunch. It's not much but it's certainly slashdot material.

  • by cyberfunkr ( 591238 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @01:55PM (#42658899)

    "Hack" #1: So that I'm not tethered to a wall outlet, or go off the grid, I stay up late so I can manually swap out batteries and wear out the plastic clips that holds them in. Assuming I own a phone that has changeable batteries.
    Better solution #1: Buy a universal external battery charger which is usually a small box that can easily fit in your pocket with a 9-volt battery and a charging cable.

    "Hack" #2: Empty an entire bookcase of books, buy a bulky and expensive holding bracket, and jury-rig the whole thing together just so I can watch a movie that I may or may not even enjoy. But at least I put some of those books to good use as a counter-balance. Although I hope I don't sit up quickly in bed and headbutt my expensive tablet.
    Better solution #2a: Read one of the books on my bookcase. When tired, or when I have stopped enjoying it, put it down. Plus now I can get out of bed much easier.
    Better solution #2b: If I really need to watch movies at night, but a $20 goose-neck lamp and use some bent coat hangers to suspend the tablet. Or if I don't like the movie, take the coat hanger bracket off, and use the lamp to be a bedside lamp so I can read a book. See #2a.

    "Hack" #3: Buy milk crates (hey another place I can put all those books I displaced and don't read), and attach failed device from "Hack" #2.
    Better solution #3a: Use a portable music player and listen to music or listen to an audio book.
    Better solution #3b: Using a bungee cord and a decorative plate holder, and place the tablet over the console. You don't really need to watch the clock.
    Better solution #3c: Buy a sheet music holder (under $40 for even an expensive one) and place it just in from of the elliptical. It collapses down much more compact than 4-5 milk crates.

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:10PM (#42659085) Homepage

    " I never once heard anyone mentioning swapping in a spare phone battery, and according to my own survey of my friends, none of them have ever tried it either."

    You need to expand your circle of friends. Before the iPhone, pretty much all cell phones had replaceable batteries. My old Nokia had a desk charger you could park the phone on for charging, and it had a slot to charge a second battery. This phone would go 3 days between charges (IIRC).

    BTW - google "ipad holder treadmill" and you'll get a lot of options, including DIY versions.

  • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross&quirkz,com> on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:21PM (#42659245) Homepage
    Whose phone dies at 11 a.m.? And again at 3, and then at 7 p.m? A smartphone that can't even last a full day isn't worth carrying around.
  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:29PM (#42659331)

    I once valued having multiple batteries. Until I realized that remembering to keep them charged was more effort than simply having a spare cable with me. And, if it weren't for Apple and their proprietary connector I wouldn't even need that because everyone would just be using USB. For at least 80% of a usual day I'm near a charger, if I'm on top of things the phone will be charged enough to comfortably carry me through the other 20%. I do appreciate that for a small subset of the population who fly on a regular basis the dynamic might be a little different, but that's not most people.

    The tablet stand for exercise equipment is a neat idea. I might have to try something like that some day.

    • The thing is, there are separate chargers available for most phone batteries, and it's fairly trivial to keep one battery in the charger and one battery in the phone. A friend that has a ...4S or 5 or whatever is the most recent Apple toy, complains about forgetting to have put his phone on the charger the previous nite, and having to keep it on the charger on his desk while he goes to meetings. I opine that it takes less than 15 seconds to bring my phone to a full charge. Pop off back, pull battery, sna

  • by deckblad ( 2821717 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @02:39PM (#42659487)
    After being a constant reader for the last 15 years, I've finally registered a user with your site. All in an effort to poo-poo your editorial staff for allowing such hogwash to pass to the front page. I expect this kind of grade level writing and subject content from LifeHacker, not you guys.
  • I only read two solutions.

    1. Have extra batteries and
    2. Use a tablet holder where you don't want to hold your tablet - Attach it to some furniture. - Stretching this out to 2 different solutions is like patenting "...with a computer"

  • It amuses me how overused the word hacked is used now days. 1.) You found a logistical method for keeping communications up throughout the day. (You didn't hack anything) 2.) You Found a way to clip your tablet above your bed. (You didn't hack anything) and enjoy your sore arms. 3.) Much the same as 2. I can see where you might be able to construe any modification as a hack. But, quit being a GD hipster and telling everyone you hacked this or hacked that. Good effort on the engineering and what not but th
  • I discovered early on that the small "5th pocket" in a standard pair of jeans is a perfect place for a spare phone battery. I use the Kindle app extensively on long plane trips, and being able to swap out the battery is a godsend.

  • I got a pretty good laugh reading the article and the comments.

    Don't feel bad man. But seriously. Like everybody else said.. spare batteries ? Everybody that have a phone which can't last at least one full day (you can charge your phone when you're sleeping) already are aware of the fact that you can actually carry spare battery with you.

    It would be more creative if you said carry a 9" laptop in your backpack and hook up your phone to its usb connection while laptop is in stand-by mode.

    And those mounts.. ar

  • I carry around a spare battery for my Android phone. Often, I'm traveling or otherwise away from home for long periods of time and I find it to be a lifesaver.

    I got this cheap universal charger [] and it works great. I plug the charger into the wall and then plug in the dead battery. The charger also has a USB port, so I don't need a second charger for my phone. Overnight, just plug the phone and the second battery into the charger. When I wake up, both are charged.

    It's only 650 mA, so it takes all night to f

  • Is this an early April Fool's Day joke? This is the worst 'article' posting that I've ever seen on slashdot. I don't jump on the "slashdot has gone downhill" bandwagon, but...seriously? A spare battery and extremely ugly furniture? Thanks, but no thanks.

    If you have an ugly furniture setup in your home, then please, please don't post pictures on the internet and encourage others to copy it. You should be slightly embarrassed of your setup. Very poor aesthetics. No wonder you don't have to worry about "
  • A couple of years ago, phones with replaceable batteries (let's ignore Apple phones here for a minute) were actually quite common and if you are going somewhere where you can't mains charge (or charge off another device, which is an obvious trick, but you may need the right cable), then a charged spare battery makes some sense.

    Fast forward to now and most new (non-Apple) phones have sealed batteries, which is quite deplorable because it's a trick to make your phone "disposable" at the end of your contract (

  • Hate to break the news to you, dude, but according to the dairy association link you provided, each milk crate costs approximately $4, so the $60 price you were quoted for 5 of them is in fact for naïve yuppies.

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