Household hacks: Fix home nuisances with your tech

Pigeons perched on your window? Cables cluttered? Use your tech to make your home life just a little easier.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogbomb/  (Creative Commons)

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dogbomb/ (Creative Commons)

Tweak Your PC's Sleep Mode, Cut Your Power Bill

You can put your computer in any of several different power-saving states, depending on whether you value your time or your electricity bill.

1. Know your power modes: Windows PCs support six different "power states": S0 (fully running), S1 (CPU stopped, RAM refreshed, running in low power mode), S2 (CPU off, RAM refreshed, running in a lower power mode than S1), S3 (traditional Standby, with the CPU off and RAM in slow refresh), S4 (Hibernate, with the hardware off and system memory saved as a temporary file), and S5 (Off). Note that S2 sleep mode is often disabled in computers and is accessed only when the computer is unable to go into S3 sleep mode.

2. Decide between Sleep and Hibernate: S3 is typically the default Standby/Sleep mode, while S4 is usually the default Hibernate mode. To access S3 or S4, simply click Start and then click the triangle next to the Shut Down button.

You can choose Sleep (Standby) or Hibernate from the menu that pops up. Resuming a computer from S3 sleep mode normally takes a few seconds, whereas resuming a computer from S4 sleep mode takes a few minutes, so use S3 for shorter sleep intervals and S4 for longer ones.

3. Speed up sleep with S1 sleep mode: If you're looking for an option that will save power and resume even faster than S3 sleep mode does, you can access S1 sleep mode. Resuming from S1 usually takes less than 2 seconds. To access S1, open your system's BIOS by restarting the computer and pressing the appropriate key during boot-up--typically you'll see a message similar to 'Press Del to enter Setup'.

Once you are in the BIOS, go to Power Management, Suspend Mode. There you will see an option to change the default suspend mode from S3 to S1. Change it and press Esc to exit the BIOS (be sure to select the Save option when it prompts you to save the settings).

From now on, when you choose Sleep from the Start menu, your computer will go into S1 sleep mode. Just a note for you conservationists out there: S1 sleep mode uses about 112 watts to S3's 5 watts, so it isn't as easy on your electric bill (or for laptop users, your battery) as S3 is.

Organize Your Cables

Though you can use your tech to fix all kinds of home issues, owning a lot of gear can create more problems--especially when it comes to the cables that connect your devices.

Fortunately, you have a number of ways to tidy up the jumble of wires behind your desk that don't involve buying overpriced "cable organizers" (or switching to an all-wireless setup). Try the following low-tech solutions to your high-tech problem.

1. Reuse your electronics' twist ties: Instead of buying pretty, color-coded zip ties to bind your loose cables together, reuse the twist ties that come with, um, every single electronic device you've ever bought. Gather a number of cables together (keep it a small number--three or four works perfectly) and wrap them with the twist ties.

197845-binderclips-kabels_original

2. Hang cables from binder clips: This is a neat little hack from David Bakker at Lifehacking.nl. Take a bunch of binder clips that are made for holding sheaves of paper, clip them on the back or side of your desk, and then thread your cables through them.

197845-binderclips-stappen_original

If your cables have plugs that are too large to thread through the silver part of the clip, you can remove the silver part--just squeeze the handle together until the wire pops out--and then reposition it once you've pushed the cable through.

197845-tp-roll-organizer-box-instructable_original

3. Use old toilet paper rolls to organize your unused cables: The cables behind your desk aren't the only problem--you probably have a ton of cables that you aren't currently using (but that you still need access to on occasion). Instead of throwing them into the bottom of a filing cabinet drawer, try wrapping and organizing them with this TP roll organizer box from Instructables.com.

All you need are a bunch of old toilet paper rolls and a shoebox. Fold up your cables and stick them through the toilet paper rolls, and then organize the rolls in the box in a honeycomb arrangement.

Figured out your own high-tech solutions to low-tech problems (or vice versa)? Post them in the comments!

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