A READER OPENS THE DOOR

A reader wanted to use his phone as a garage door opener. What a great idea. That way, if you got a ride home from someone else, and don’t have the opener, you can use your phone to open the garage. So can anyone else in your family who has the app on their phone. We found out how to do this through a video tutorial on Lifehacker.com. Search on “Monitor and Control Your Garage Door with Your Phone.” Our reader said he got it going with the help of his tech-savvy son. All you need is a smartphone, a Bluetooth headset, a $1 transistor from RadioShack and a soldering iron. Oh, and you might need a smart kid.

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SAVING VOICE MAILS FOREVER

Sometimes a cell phone message from a child or loved one is so special, you want to save it forever. A $20 app called “Voicemails Forever” does just that. The catch is, it only saves an hour’s worth. To save an unlimited number costs $40. If you’re techie, you can do this for free. First install the free Audacity software from sourceforge.net. Then connect your computer to your phone through the headphone port using “mini to mini” auxiliary cables.

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USING OTHER LANGUAGES WITHOUT LEARNING THEM

We wanted to invite our new neighbors, a Japanese family, to dinner but the wife doesn’t speak much English. So we used Google Translate.

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8 SCIENCE PROJECTS KIDS WILL LOVE

Search on the words “8 YouTube Science Projects Kids Will Love” for some neat stuff.

One is called “Milk into Stone: Life in Plastic, It’s Fantastic.” It shows you how ordinary milk and vinegar can be poured into a cookie cutter or other mold. After a couple of days it’s as hard as stone.

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30 USEFUL CAR HACKS

30 Useful Car Hacks that Every Driver Should Know. If you’re driving an unfamiliar car, look for the arrow next to the tiny image of a gas pump in the fuel gauge indicator. It points to the side the gas tank is on. Soak a newspaper in warm water and place it over hard-to-remove window stickers. Use the car’s floor mats for traction to get out of mud or snow.

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FROM CASSETTE TO DIGITAL

If you Google “How to Turn a Casette Tape into MP3s,” (or click here), you’ll get a CNET article that walks you through every step. We found it after a reader asked, but we bet lot of people have old tapes they’d like to preserve and play on a computer, phone, tablet or digital player.

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ORGANIZING YOUR IPAD

If you’re like us, your iPad screen is so full of colorful icons for programs, it’s getting hard to find the ones you use regularly. Clean up by putting them in folders, and type a label for those folders.

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TIPS AND TRICKS

– If you find the daily load of email as overwhelming as we do, try this trick: Instead of deleting messages you don’t want, one by one, check the box that selects them all. Then go down the list and uncheck the ones you want to look at. Dump the rest.

— Pulling a snapshot from a movie DVD can be done with…

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MAKE YOUR OWN BOX OR GIFT BAG

Ideogram.nl/boxmaker has a neat free template maker for making gift bags, boxes, cones, envelopes, and other things out of card stock. Select any size or geometric shape and it will create a template that shows you how to cut out what you need and where to fold and glue it. (How about a dodecahedron? Twelve sides.) Paint it, color it or use fancy paper and you’ve got an unusual gift box.

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GOOGLE TIPS AND TRICKS

Quora.com is our favorite question and answer site. It recently had some great tips for using Google in little-known ways. Like these:

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