Hot tech life hacks to make the most of summer

Hot tech life hacks to make the most of summer

Credit: Roddy Blelloch for USA TODAY

Yes, you really can turn a hoodie into a laptop carrier.

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by Jennifer Jolly, Special for USA TODAY

KING5.com

Posted on July 12, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Ah, those lazy days of summer. Now that the chill is well and truly gone from the air, it's time for some serious fun and sun-kissed selfies. We've already shown you a whole round of tech-life hacks, and back by popular demand are even more fast and free quick tricks to get the most out of the gadgets you use everyday.

1. Chin up!

Lost in a parking lot at the beach? Hold your car key remote under your chin to amplify your car's remote's signal. All the fluid crashing around inside your head make it a great antennae. It sounds downright bonkers, but it really works!

The oral cavity and liquids in your skull do some kind of crazy wizardry to the remote signal when you're holding the key fob to your chin. You're mostly water, after all, and fluids can be great conductors. It's kind of like the reason why those ancient "rabbit ear" TV antennas gave you better reception when you were touching them.

2. Snap better selfies

Snapping a selfie with an outstretched arm is so 2013. I've already shown you how to use your headphones to trigger the shutter remotely — but did you know there are apps that do this, too? That's why FaceSnap, in all its simplicity, is a great tool to have around. The new iOS app, priced at 99 cents, is a photo timer for your smartphone. It times snapshots of your mug with small breaks in between that you can use to strike a new pose or make sure your hair hasn't fallen askew.

But that's not all the sleek selfie snapper can do: There's also a Party Camera mode that will scan your room for faces and snap a series of photos to capture all the social excitement. FaceSnap can also play policeman with the Room Surveillance feature, that captures the faces of whoever walks in front of it, which is half cool and half creepy.

3. Time out!

Can't get anyone to put down their gadgets long enough to crowd around the table for a decent meal? DinnerTime (Free, Android and iOS) will change that. The app is designed to be installed on both parents' and kids' smartphones. When Mom or Dad has prepared the evening meal to be chomped on, all they have to do is activate the DinnerTime app and the youngsters' gadgets will not only tell them dinner is ready, but will activate a lockdown timer so smartphone distractions are eliminated during mealtime.

As an added bonus, the app has bedtime and "take a break" features that keep phones quiet during sleep hours and whenever you feel like your kids are experiencing screentime overload.

4. Get paid to surf

Surfing the Web is something we all do every day. The average person spends at least 70 minutes a day just looking around for who-knows-what online. If you use Bing to search — you can rack up rewards credits and get stuff for free — no strings attached. I like to think of it as "frequent-flier miles" for the Internet.

If you sign up on Bingrewards.com, your surfing habits will begin to count toward fabulous freebies. Over time, the credits you earn will accumulate, and you can trade them in for awesome gift cards to Starbucks, Amazon, Sephora and GameStop, among others. You can even score a free tank of gas for your car to take the ultimate summer road trip.

5. Hoodie makes the case

Once you're done riding the wave to summer sales, pack up your laptop using an awesome do-it-yourself tote bag by transforming your hoodie into a fun, relaxed boho-chic summer laptop case for easy transport to the beach, backyard, party or pool. Here's how to do it:

● Lay your hoodie face up. Place it front-side-up on a table, with the hood and arms outstretched.

● Place the laptop width-wise on the chest section of the sweatshirt, just below the neckline.

● Fold the bottom half of the hoodie over the computer and tuck in the sides and edge of the bottom half under the sides of the laptop.

● The bottom half of the hoodie will wrap around the laptop like a burrito. The laptop should not be visible after tucking the bottom half around it.

● Fold the hood over the top of the covered laptop. Then, slip the laptop into it.

● Flip the laptop over so that the back of the hood is now touching the table.

● Tie the neck of the hoodie to tightly enclose the laptop and secure it. Make sure the knot is tight, so the laptop does not fall out.

● Knot the sleeves. Grab the wrists of the sleeves, and tie them into a very tight knot to make a carrying strip.

● Sling it over your shoulder, and you're good to go!

With these super simple tips, it's easy to enjoy the warm weather, snap selfies and soak up the sun while making the most of your tech toys.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at techcomments@usatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.

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