BOSTON (MainStreet) -- You too can be an office ninja and a hacker of everyday life.At its worst, the Internet can be a swampy wasteland of time wasters, misinformation and all-caps political rants. In unexpected places, however, the online hivemind can produce some intriguing ways to beat the system, streamline everyday tasks and solve problems. Think Hints from Heloise filtered through Rick rolls and cat memes.
Tired of waiting as your elevator makes constant stops on the levels below your 17th-floor office? To force an elevator to go direct from the lobby to your destination, try pressing the button for the floor to which you are heading and the "door close" button at the same time, holding them down for five seconds. Based on Web testimonials, this override technique works only on certain makes and models of elevators. In glass elevators, you also need to be able to deal with the confused, angry folks you might see as you zoom past. 2. Yawn stars
Paranoid that someone keeps staring at you in a coffee shop? Flattered by the thought someone might be checking you out at the bar? Annoyed by a co-worker you can "feel" snooping over your shoulder? If you need to determine whether you are in the sights of prying eyes, one quick trick may settle it: Let out a big yawn. The reflexive impulse to yawn when you see someone else doing it will zero in on your spying suspect.
If you are late for work, take a quick detour on the way to the office and grab a dozen or so doughnuts. As one commenter suggested when this tip was offered: "Then you're not the guy who's late, you're the guy who brought breakfast." 4. Plastic for your plastic
If you have a credit or debit card with a worn magnetic strip, the finicky scanners at some businesses will refuse to read it. Place your reluctant card into a plastic bag and swipe the covered strip. For some reason, the plastic shielding fixes the problem and the card is read as intended. When this happened to us the other day at a local supermarket, we were surprised to see the cashier execute the same remedy we had read about online. It worked. 5. Stashing your cash
One popular bit of wisdom passed around online and in emails suggests you should put $100 in a bank account and try to forget about it -- the assumption being that someday having that secret stash of cash could be a lifesaver. For those looking to build credit without abusing it, another unique and oft-repeated suggestion is to freeze your credit card(s) in a block of ice. Only a true emergency or unavoidable need to use a card would likely be enough to get most to chip out their credit line. And, while waiting for the ice to melt, a cooler head might still prevail. 6. Using your head
When parking in a garage, one helpful tip we frequently see is to snap a quick cellphone picture of your level and row. If you forget to do that, and can't find your car, a common approach is to hit your keyless entry remote's lock button and listen for the beep. In a larger parking area, you can extend the range of this signal by holding the device pressed under your chin, tilted upward. You are essentially using your skull as a parabolic reflector to boost the signal. You might not want to try this trick while walking with a client or business associate back to your car; the missing vehicle is probably embarrassing enough without trying to thick-headedly echo-locate it.
A good Cub Scout can tell you that, in the woods, one can tell in which direction they are walking by looking at the moss on trees. The clumps, the story goes, always grow on the north-facing side of the tree. While driving, moss certainly won't do much good. If your GPS or smartphone is on the fritz, though, you can narrow your choices (if the sun isn't rising or setting, of course) by checking out road signs. There are exceptions, but usually odd-numbered highways run north and south, even-numbered highways and interstates travel east and west. It may not help you find a specific street, but at least you'll know whether you are heading in the right direction. 8. Keyed up
There are a lot of so-called Easter eggs hidden away in programs, operating systems and within Web sites. Google ( GOOG), for example, has Klingon and Pig Latin search pages, as well as a flight simulator in Google Earth -- activated using Ctrl+Alt+A in Windows and Command+Option+A on an Apple ( AAPL) computer. There are also lesser-known and less entertaining keystroke combinations that can actually help you get work done. If an errant program refuses to behave in Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows, calling up the task manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del is how most people do it. To go directly to the list of running programs instead, bypassing other options, use Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Accidentally click off a Web page before you had a chance to bookmark it or memorize the URL? Hitting the combo of Ctrl+Alt+T will instantly recover a closed tab. 9. Friends in high places
It may not really be much of a trick or hack, but one of the top bits of advice for vendors, sales reps, employees or anyone else seeking access to the bigwigs in the C-level should start by making friends with their secretaries. Remembering their name, engaging in pleasant conversation and occasionally bearing coffee and snacks are among the acts of kindness that may help you get the true gatekeepers of the powerful to take your side and lend a hand. 10. For people who live in glass houses ...
When your clumsy co-worker shatters a glass all over the break room, a broom and paper towels may not catch all those tiny shards and splinters. A better way, according to folks who apparently break more glass than we do, is to use a slice of bread. The pieces will wedge into its soft mass, locked into place by the porous texture. -- Written by Joe Mont in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joe Mont. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/josephmont. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.