Tip: Smooth Mouse Scroll Wheel

Here’s a tip for those with scroll mice. Take the clicker out of the wheel. Scroll mice usually accomplish the clicking of the scroll wheel by means of a spring or metal stick that press inside the wheel. Take this out, the wheel will turn nice and smooth. It may take a little getting used to, but it will soon feel great.

Of course you should realize that the clicking serves a function: to limit the movement of the wheel. If the scroll wheel is too loose, it may spin out of control without it, but normally it won’t. In fact, in some mice, the clicker may cause unwanted scrolling, so removing the clicker will eliminated that.

(The little metal stick inside my mouse broke recently, and I panicked because it was a fairly new, expensive mouse, but before I knew it I was hooked—pun intended. I never want to use a clicker again.)

Clean and Oil Those Fans

Computers are not invulnerable to dust. They have a tendancy to get clogged up with plenty of dust which at best causes overheating. It is a good idea to regularly clean out all the dust in a system to keep it as cool as possible since dust is an insulator. Removing the dust will allow better airflow, especially through fins on heatsinks and lighten fan blades, allowing them to turn faster.

Another tip to keeping a computer running in peak condition is to oil fans. Anything that moves should be well lubricated to allow it to do so smoothly and fans are no exception. Every once in a while (at least once a year, depending on how dusty your environment is) you should remove the fans in your system, take them apart, and oil them.

To oil a fan, you need to disassemble it. This is the tricky part. To disassemble a fan, you need to remove any stickers that cover the capstan. Next, remove the washer that holds the capstan. You will need a pointy knife or something to do this. Usually they will be made of plastic, but sometimes metal. They will almost always be a small flat disc with a hole in the middle and have a cut (think of a “C” where the ends meet but do not attach). Once this is off, you can remove the fan blade assembly. Before oiling it, you should thouroughly clean it. All kinds of grime and grit can get in there and cause it to make noise, as well as slow it down and create friction heat. Once you’ve cleaned it, then you can oil it. The type of oil does not matter too much depending on the fan. Most fans are cheap anyway so you do not need to shell out for top of the line lubricant. Even vegitable oil is better than nothing in a pinch. Synthetic teflon lubricant can be found in any bicycle shop and works great. You should oil the parts that touch and move. This includes the capstan, and the hole in which it goes. You will also want to oil the joint where the capstan attaches to the blade hub and where the blade hub rests on the washer. Do not over-oil since that will just make a mess with no extra benefit. In fact you should probably clean up any excess before putting it back. Put the blade assembly back into the fan and give it a test spin. Make sure that it is running smoothly. Now place the holding washer back on the end of the capstan and finally the sticker. Put the fan back, plug it in, power it up, and watch it spin. You may want to consider comparing fan rotation speeds before and after. Also, make sure to notice the noise level after oiling.

Cheap Multi-iPod Recharger

With the growing popularity of Apple’s iPods, a booming field of iPod accessories has evolved. Unfortunately, most of these accessories tend to be on the expensive side since the logic goes that if one can afford an—expensive—iPod, then one can afford to pay a lot for it’s accessories.

A main problem with iPods is their rechargeable batteries. They have proprietary batteries built in so you cannot just pop it out and replace it. Instead, you must pay a lot of money to have it shipped to Apple (or some other unauthorized third party) to replace it for a fee; some rechargeable. Even when the batteries are still good and can be recharged, there are not too many options on actually doing so.

Some people resort to purchasing expensive power adapters that allow you to plug an iPod into the wall to charge it. Most people just plug it into their computer.

There is another way, a way that allows you to charge the iPod anytime, anywhere without the need for a computer—just an electrical outlet—as well as being cheaper than an adapter: a powered USB hub.

The best way to charge an iPod is to purchase a USB hub. These are essentially USB splitters that allow you to daisy chain multiple USB devices into a computer. Using one of these you can simply plug the iPod’s cable (or the iPod Shuffle itself) into the hub and plug the hub into an outlet. This has a few other benefits as well. Because you are using the hub only for charging (no data transfer), you do not need USB 2.0, so a cheaper 1.0/1.1 hub will do. Since the whole purpose of a hub is to allow multiple devices to connect, you can charge multiple iPods at the same time.

So instead of getting costly power adapters or using a whole computer, just get a single, small, inexpensive, USB hub to quickly and easily charge multiple iPods at the same time.

When to Ding The Bus

Unfortunately I have been—and still am until I can afford a car—restricted to taking the bus for transportation. I have taken many trips, at many times, in many places, with many people. One thing I have noticed and been interested by is the judgment—or lack thereof—that people use in determining when to pull the stop-request cord.

Some people pull it immediately after leaving the stop prior to the one they want—some even earlier than that. Some people pull it exactly halfway, others wait until the bus has all but passed the stop—or even after—and the rest pull somewhere in between.

The ideal time to pull it is simply a case of common sense. You do not want to pull it too early because then the bus driver will slow down right away to avoid passing the stop, thus delaying your arrival. You do not want to pull it too late or the driver may not have enough time to stop and will just pass it and stop at the next one. There is no specific number or fraction that I can give since inter-stop distances vary as do road conditions and traffic, but ideally, you will want to pull the cord as close as possible to the stop while giving the driver enough time and space to safely come to a stop. A general rule of thumb could be to wait until you are about 2/3 of the way to your stop from the previous one.