Tag Archives: How To

The Essential Tools You Need for PC and Gadget Repairs

No matter how great your PC or phone is, something will inevitably go wrong one day. The “Right to Repair” movement has been gaining considerable traction lately, and with the right knowledge and equipment, you can fix a whole lot of things yourself. Here are some essential items every DIY gadget geek should have in…

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Here’s The Best Guide On How To Paint Your Valve Cover

Engine bay decoration is an under-appreciated art because, well, it sits in the dark under the hood most of the time. But painting your valve cover and other engine parts are a great way to add automotive easter eggs to your car and this video is the best guide I’ve ever seen on how to do it easily.

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How Not To Fix Something

It’s been a while since I last dug into my car, which might explain why I got antsy and decided to tear into another fiddly old machine instead: an old camera with a seized lens. This will be a fun little project, I thought, picking up some lithium grease at the hardware store. Needless to say, not only has everything…

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The Lifehacker Guide to Surviving Black Friday

The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year to score deals on everything from TVs to gadgets, but braving the swarming mass of shoppers is a challenge. These tips will keep you on your toes and ready to snag the deals you have your eye on.

Last year, 60% of Americans went shopping on Black Friday and spent about $67 billion. If you want to get in on the deal hunting action, here’s what you need to know:

  • Get in line early: Some stores will open as early as Thursday afternoon, and many steadfast shoppers will start getting in line for other stores six to eight hours before they open. It might seem like long hours, but you could net savings of up to $70 per hour.
  • Do your research: Know what deals you want and know where they’ll be inside the store. That way you can get in, grab the goods, and get out.
  • Dress appropriately: The more layers you can put on the better. It’ll be cold while you wait in line, and a little extra padding can help you fend off feisty shoppers.
  • Stay calm, comfortable, and humble: Tensions will be running high, so it’s important to keep a level head as products go flying off the shelves. Stay hydrated and bring a snack so you don’t get hangry. And if you manage to grab an awesome deal on a limited product, avoid gloating to other shoppers. You never know what they might do.

Of course, the best way to take on Black Friday is from the comfort of your own home. There will be tons of Cyber Monday deals, so skip the crowds and shop in your pajamas. You save yourself a bunch of money and a whole lot of stress.

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master

Memorial Day marks the start of the serious grilling season, and there’s no better weekend to bolster your grill-master game. Luckily, honing your outdoor culinary skills is a lot more simple than it seems, given the right tools, a little preparation, and a few tips on technique.

This post was originally published on May 23, 2008.

Get the Right Tools

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master
  • Lump charcoal or briquettes?: This is one of those endless, both-sides-are-right-and-wrong debates (kind of like Mac vs. PC), but there is some fairly common ground. As The Virtual Weber Bullet puts it:
    The general consensus is that lump tends to burn hotter than briquettes, but not as long or as consistently. Some lack of consistency is to be expected, given that the content and piece size varies within an individual bag and between bags.

    Personally, I recommend briquettes for anyone just starting out with their grill, as lump can be finicky in lighting. Of course, you can save yourself a lot of effort and frustration by investing in a chimney starter, which you can also use for flash-cooking.

  • Choosing a gas grill: Ignore the BTUs and heat for the most part—unless you really need to cook a whole bird or roast this weekend, most grills have got your steaks and burgers covered. Consumer Reports’ blog recommends bringing a magnet with you to gauge the quality of steel used to contain the heat. If the magnet sticks, it’s likely a cheaper grade that will rust more easily. Feel free to give a test model a few shoves and shakes, as an unstable grill is a recipe for serious problems. The Wirecutter has some good recommendations to get you started.
  • Multi-use utensils: The three-tool grilling sets you see at big-box stores have all you’ll need for basic grill work, with long-handled versions of a spatula, tongs, and a carving-type poker. A long-handle brush would be your next purchase, and then a grilling basket and skewers when you start branching out. Make sure your tools feel heavy and firm in your hands, as clumsy handling creates the kind of BBQ stories you don’t want repeated.

For more grilling gear, our gadget-crazed brother site Gizmodo runs down 10 awesome grills you can buy for the ultimate Memorial Day barbecue.


Get Ready

  • Clean that grill: If there’s black crust on the grill bars, you need to get it off to ensure no-stick cooking and easy food flipping. You can use a grill brush or an onion if it’s being particularly stubborn. The video above shows you how to do a deeper clean, and if you’ve neglected your grill for years, it may need a bit of repair, which you can do yourself.
  • Make your own sauce: Most of the pre-bottled sauces you see on grocery shelves are over-sweetened, and none match the taste of homemade. Making your own isn’t that difficult, either. Use one of BBQ Recipe Secret’s three sauce bases as a starting point, and build your own flavor ideas into them. It’ll give you something to talk about while you’re waiting for the ribs to finish. You can even give bottled sauce a boost with a few household ingredients, if you don’t want to start from scratch.



Hone Your Technique

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master
  • Use your grill’s “zones”: Not everything goes right over the fire. Different types of meat (and vegetables) will work best on different parts of the grill depending on how much heat they need. Check out this infographic to see where everything goes.
  • Use a cheat sheet: Experience is the best indicator for knowing the precise moment to yank your food off the rack, but Real Simple offers a super-helpful cheat sheet you can print and bring to this culinary test. Here’s a sample that covers the basics of red meat and sausages:

    How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master

    While you’re at it, don’t forget about the palm test for determining the doneness of a steak.

  • BBQ chicken: As my fellow editor Adam can attest, eHow’s technique for grilling whole or partial chicken results in some juicy bird. The basics: Oil the grill, cook the chicken uncovered slightly off the heat center, and, for Pete’s sake, don’t put your sauce on until the last few minutes.
  • Perfect burgers: Our commenters don’t necessarily agree on cooking great burgers, but they do have some common wisdom to share. Use meat that’s as close to room temperature as possible for even cooking. Don’t press them on the grill, unless you like your meat dry. And the best “secret” to great burgers is buying good meat, preferably ground by a butcher while you watch. And if you want them to cook evenly, a shallow indentation in the middle can help avoid the hockey puck look.
  • Seriously salt your steak: Got filet mignon dreams for the weekend, but only a Quarter-Pounder budget? Buy a cheap cut of “choice” meat, then salt, salt, salt the heck out of that thing—for only one hour before grilling, and then pat it dry. By doing so, your salt is breaking in your meat and loosening some of its protein strands, making it hold flavor better and cut like the steakhouse commercials of your dreams. You can also freeze it for 30 minutes for that perfect seared crust.
  • Hot dogs with maximum toppage: Spiral-cut your hot dogs to ensure it cooks perfectly straight, with more surface area for that nice grill flavor and plenty of room for all your favorite toppings. You might even consider marinating them for a boost of flavor that goes beyond the ho-hum hot dogs everyone’s used to.
  • Let it rest: You’ll be eager to slice open your tender steak or succulent chicken, but you’ll lose a lot of juicy flavor if you do so. As the food techies at Cook’s Illustrated point out, cutting into your food right off the grill releases a significant amount of juice, which would be re-absorbed for better succulence if you let it sit a few minutes.








Recover from a Rain-Out

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master

All that planning, cleaning, and purchasing, and Mother Nature calls an audible on your perfect grill day? You’re not finished yet. As the New York Times’ food guru and cookbook author Mark Bittman points out, your oven broiler can sub in for your grill with a little prep-work, with results almost as satisfying. Brown your meat in the pan, roast or braise it slowly, then use the broiler to give it that grill-like finish. Check out his oven-based pork ribs or brisket recipes if you need convincing.

Document Your Success

How to Become the Ultimate Grill Master

When you’ve put all this effort into creating a great fire-cooked feast, you’ll want more than just compliments to remember it by. Break out your camera (or pass it off to a trusted friend) and try the following tips to take some great grilling shots:

  • Tell a story: A BBQ-friendly shooter named Nika notes that a lot of grilled food might look good to the human eye, but smoky crusts and perfect charring can look like unappealing dark nothingness without good framing. Try to capture moments of “drama,” such as when the meat’s being pulled, or focus on the tools used to make the meal to get shots you’ll remember.
  • Get in close: At the same time, Flickr user Another Pint Please…, also known as Mike and who shot the steak picture you saw at the top of this post, recommends being brave and getting up-close and personal with your heat source—while being safe with your lens, of course. You’ll have time to take wider-angle shots when the cooking’s done, but those sudden flare-ups and perfect glistening angles only happen once.

Happy Memorial Day, and enjoy the barbecue!

Photos by Mike, Rick, Robert S. Donovan, and Christopher Aloi.

An iPhone User’s Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

When you buy an Apple product you buy into the ecosystem more than with any other company, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with only what they offer. If you’re a lover of wearables you’d be remiss to overlook Android Wear, even if you’ve chosen iOS as your primary mobile platform.

Is Android Wear for You and Your iPhone?

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

I wanted to love the Apple Watch. While wearables never seemed incredibly useful to me, the idea of a smart device on my wrist seemed incredibly cool. But the Apple Watch felt like a major disappointment. I never liked the look of it. Square watches never jived with my personal aesthetics. Beyond that, the Apple Watch just felt like a dumbed-down phone with a tiny screen. I’m not sure what sort of product Apple thought they were making.

While Google’s Android Wear is no perfect alternative, the platform understands its limitations and focuses on what it can achieve despite them. Even on an iPhone, Android Wear offers a lot of great functionality. I even found it kept a more reliable connection with my phone than my Apple Watch. That said, the two platforms are very different. Android Wear focuses on cards and actions, while the Apple Watch focuses on apps. I think the app paradigm makes great sense on a phone but works poorly on a watch. Google’s actionable cards make a lot more sense, and Google Now provides tons of information at a moment’s notice through simple voice commands. That said, if you want to use your watch as a secondary screen for your phone you shouldn’t choose Android Wear. If you want a quick information screen with simple actions and access to quick answers on your wrist in a fashionable package, it is.

Pick a Watch and Set It Up

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

You don’t really need a step-by-step explanation of how to set up an Android Wear watch with an iPhone because the watch will take you through the process. Instead, I’ll give you the basic overview and how to get around some of the quirks.

First things first, you need to buy an Android Wear smartwatch that actually works with an iPhone. I went with the LG Watch Urbane because I got it on sale. If money hadn’t entered the equation, I might’ve chosen the Moto 360 v2 for its smaller profile. Those are my two favorites that work with iOS, but you have others to choose from as well:

As time goes on we’ll surely see more iOS-compatible options, but as of the time of this writing these are the ones to choose from. For reference, here are some popular models that DO NOT work (so DO NOT buy them:)

  • LG G Watch
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Moto 360 (v1)
  • LG G Watch R
  • Sony Smartwatch 3
  • Asus ZenWatch (1)

Once you pick out your watch, setup goes by pretty quickly. Here’s the gist:

  1. Charge your new watch, or at least stick it in the charger during setup.
  2. Download the Android Wear app for your iPhone and open it.
  3. Tap the three vertical dots in the upper righthand corner and then tap “Pair with a new wearable.”
  4. Check your watch for a pairing code, then tap “Pair” in the Android Wear app. Wait a minute or two for the confirmation message.

After you do that, you’ll get to set a few things up. The phone and watch will walk you through this process and you should pay close attention. If you don’t go through the setup process successfully it won’t go away, so just deal with some of the annoying teaching moments Google imposes on you. It may help in the long run anyway.

When choosing your notification settings, you’ll want to consider a few things:

  • Google apps work best and offer more features, so you should use them as much as you can. For example, all apps can display notifications but almost every non-Google app cannot provide actionable notifications. For example, if you use the Gmail app on your iPhone you can archive a message straight from your watch. If you use another email app, you can’t. There’s a workaround, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, just know that if you opt to use Google Apps—particularly Gmail and Google Calendar—your watch can do more.
  • Card previews are helpful but intrusive, so you might want to turn them off. By default, previews are on and you can disable them in the settings either on your watch or through the Android Wear app. Basically, card previews sit at the bottom of your watch waiting for you to interact with them and cover up part of your watch face. Since the watch at least vibrates to notify you when something comes in and you can quickly swipe up to access your notification feed, I see no reason to clutter things up with previews. You may disagree. Either way, you should know that you can choose to turn previews off if you find them more annoying than helpful.
  • Definitely enable Google Now or you’ll miss out on the majority of benefits with Android Wear on iOS. Google Now provides a ton of information based on what Google knows about you. It also helps provide answers in better context when you say “Hey Google” and ask your watch a question. If you miss enabling this during the setup process, you can always jump into the watch settings or the Android Wear app to turn it on.

With all of that out of the way, you’re pretty much set up and ready to go. You don’t have to organize anything, but rather just wait until you get some notifications and do what you wish with them. If you have a request, say “Hey Google” and give it to your wrist. (Note: some watches require you to tap the screen to wake them up before they’ll listen.) While you can scroll around to check weather and other information as well, these are the two ways you’ll interact with your Android Wear device the most. Keep that in mind as we move along and learn about how to get the most out of your watch.

Get to Know the Menus

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

Your Android Wear device hides its features and settings behind three different corners of the screen. Let’s take a look at how to access each of them and what you can do once you get there.

Quick Settings

If you swipe downward from the top of the watch, you can access a few settings quickly. These will vary depending on the watch, and you can pick and choose some of what shows up, but you’ll most likely be greeted with volume settings. I keep my watch on mute all the time so it only vibrates, but you can set whatever you want there. Swiping from right to left will reveal more options. The only other one worth highlighting, in my opinion, is Theater Mode. When you go to a movie, play, presentation, or anything else that your watch could disturb, just turn Theater Mode on and the watch will turn its screen, sounds, and vibration functions off until you reactivate them. Finally, swiping all the way to the end of the Quick Settings allows you to open up the full settings in case you didn’t find what you were looking for.

App Menu

Swipe the watch face from right to left to bring up an app menu. While I don’t really think of Android Wear as an app-based platform—especially since you can’t officially install apps when paired with an iPhone (without sideloading, discussed later)—you do have a few things available, like Weather, Calendar, Fitness, Alarm, Timer, and Translate. If you swipe from right to left from this menu, you’ll bring up Google Now and can use voice commands to get what you want. Of course, you can just say “Hey Google” for the same functionality and avoid all that swiping. Again, some watches require you to wake them up with a tap before you start barking commands so keep that in mind.


When you swipe up from the bottom of your watch face, you’ll bring up your latest notification. If you keep swiping up, you’ll move on to the next one. Swiping from left to right will dismiss that notification. Swiping from right to left, however, will bring up any available actions. Because of Apple’s limitations, actionable notifications on your watch aren’t really possible with most apps. However, with Google apps you’ll have more options. Check out the next section if you want more information on how to have actionable notifications even if you don’t want to use Google’s apps on your iPhone.

Make Your Notifications More Useful

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

Actionable notifications make your watch much more useful, but you pretty much only get that functionality with Gmail, Google Calendar, and phone calls. You can answer and dismiss calls from your Android Wear device regardless, but for mail and calendar stuff you need Google apps installed on your phone. With this you can respond to calendar invites and archive email with a swipe and a tap on your wrist.

But what if you don’t want to use Gmail and Google Calendar? What if you like, say, Airmail and Fantastical? Well, you can still use those apps on your phone, but also install Gmail and Google Calendar as well. With a tiny bit of setup you can block notifications in the right places so you’re not seeing double:

  1. Install Gmail and Google Calendar on your iPhone. Set them up.
  2. Open Settings on your iPhone and disable notifications for Gmail and Google Calendar in the Notifications section. (If you run into any trouble going forward, you may need to disable notifications but still allow them to show on your lockscreen. This shouldn’t be necessary, but some people have issues and you should try this first if you wind up troubleshooting a lack of notifications on your watch.)
  3. Open Settings in your Android Wear app and go to the “Blocked app notifications” section. Tap the “+ Add apps to block list” down at the bottom and choose your email and calendar apps. Alternatively, just wait until an app you want to block displays a notification on your watch, swipe that notification from right to left, and then tap “Block App.” That’ll do the same thing.

After you’ve got that all configured, you’ll get actionable notifications on your watch from Google’s apps and the notifications from your preferred third party apps on your iPhone. You can also use blocking the way it was designed so you don’t have to see notifications from apps you don’t care about. When you set your watch up, you may want to consider blocking some other apps for peace of mind as well.

Customize Your Watchface

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

One of the coolest parts of Android Wear is the ability to customize your watch face. While you can do this with a most smartwatches, you have a lot more control on Android Wear. Google limits your choices on iOS to a variety of options you can choose in the app, but there are ways around it and we’ll get to that in a minute.

In the meantime, you can press and hold on your smartwatch’s screen itself to flip through all the different watch faces available to you. If that’s not enough, open up the Android Wear app on your iPhone and browse the watch face gallery for additional options. You’ll have some limitations and the installation process is super slow, but some are pretty cool and there should be something suitable for most people.

But I’m not most people. I like certain styles and information on my device screens, so I decided to go full-on custom. We won’t get into those details here, but I wrote up some specific instructions on the process should you want to go beyond the options Google permits for you in the Android Wear iOS app.

Explore and Get To Know Your Watch Features

An iPhone User's Guide to Falling In Love With Android Wear

Android Wear does, indeed, have limited functionality on iOS. You can do quite a bit more with an Android phone, but that shouldn’t preclude you from enjoying this focused product. If you like to mess around and explore, you have options. If you want to do more you should check these resources out as well:

  • If you want to sideload Android Wear apps, you can follow pretty much the same instructions for watch faces I wrote here. If you want specific instructions (which really are almost exactly the same as the ones I gave you), check out this video. Be aware that not all apps will work when sideloaded for a variety of reasons, including that many require an internet connection that your phone provides (unless that watch has its own Wi-Fi or cellular data connection, but that’s a big if). An old XDA developers thread used to keep track of what worked, but nobody maintains it anymore. You can use it as reference, but prepare yourself for a lot of trial and error here.
  • If you want a kind of convoluted route to more features and happen to have an Android device handy, you can use Aerlink. WonderHowTo offers some solid instructions on how to set things up.
  • Naturally, you can unlock your bootloader and root your device to enable more possibilities. The usual risks of potentially bricking your watch, losing data, or generally messing things up apply. Keep that in mind before diving in.

There’s a lot to enjoy in this simple platform—even with Apple’s restrictions—and you can expand your options as you see fit. While Android Wear with iOS will likely never match the functionality it has on its native platform, you can still get a lot of value out of your smartwatch with these tips and hacks.

Get the Newest Version of Windows Forever with Windows Insider

Get the Newest Version of Windows Forever with Windows Insider

The Anniversary update to Windows 10 is rolling out later this summer, but you can try out all the new features like Bash and notifications from your Android phone right now with the Windows Insider program.

Stay On the Cutting Edge With Windows Insider

Get the Newest Version of Windows Forever with Windows Insider

The Windows Insider program is designed to give adventurous users the chance to try out the newest version of Windows before anyone else does. For example, the Anniversary update brings a full Bash client, a smarter Cortana, a dark color scheme, and more. Insiders are the first to receive feature updates like these, but they also shoulder a lot of the risk of untested software (since you’re the ones testing it). However, with a few tweaks you can avoid most of those risks.

You’ll need to be running Windows 10 in order to enroll. Then follow these steps:

  1. Open Start menu and search for “Insider.”
  2. Click “Advanced Windows Update options.”
  3. Under “Get Insider builds” click “Get started.”
  4. Restart your PC to apply updates.

From this point on, you’ll be on the Insider channel and will be notified of new updates as they roll out. If you used the trick above to guarantee a Windows 10 license even after July 29th, then not only do you get Windows 10 for free, but you also get to check out any new features without paying a dime for upgrades. At least until Microsoft changes its policies.

What You Can Do As An Insider

Get the Newest Version of Windows Forever with Windows Insider

Being an Insider doesn’t just mean that you’re first on the list for free updates. Microsoft uses Insiders to get feedback on what’s working and what isn’t, and to tweak features before they’re released to the public. If you want to get involved in the feedback process, you’ll want to install the Insider Hub by following these steps:

  1. Search for “Apps & Features” in your Start menu.
  2. Click “Manage optional features.”
  3. Click “Add a feature.”
  4. Find the Insider Hub on the list and click Install.

If you don’t plan to actively contribute feedback, it’s safe to ignore this app most of the time, but it has a few useful purposes:

  • Get Preview Build Announcements: Click on the newspaper icon on the left side of the Insider app to read announcement posts. These are often a lot more detailed than what you’ll find on the Windows Blog. You’ll find information on updated Preview apps, known bugs, and release notes for new Preview builds.
  • Do Quests to Explore New Features: Whenever Microsoft adds new features to the preview builds, you can find Insider quests that walk you through how to use some of them. No, you don’t really need to follow these quests, but they’re a handy place to discover new features you might not have realized were added.
  • Provide Feedback and Vote On Changes: The Insider program also comes with the Windows Feedback app, which you can find either by searching for it from the Start menu, or clicking the shortcut in the Insider Hub. Here, you can browse feedback from other Insiders. If you’re having a problem with Windows, or are just annoyed by a change, you can probably find someone else who has the same problem here, or add it yourself.

Of course, if you’d rather ignore the Insider features and use the program to live on the bleeding edge of Windows, you can do that. The worst you’ll get is a very rare nag that asks how you like a certain feature. Beyond that, the Insider builds work just like regular Windows. I’ve been using the preview builds for over a year and my computer hasn’t melted. If you really don’t want to pay for Windows and you don’t mind living on the edge a little, this method should give you free Windows for as long as Microsoft keeps the Insider Program going.


First, You’ll Need Windows 10 to Join the Program

To become an Insider, you’ll need to have a copy of Windows 10 on your machine. Right now, you can still get Windows 10 for free, as long as you have a license for Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. After July 29th, the price will go up to $119 (though you can get an OEM version for $100). However, if you upgrade right now, you can “reserve” a license that you can use again in the future, as How-To Geek points out. When you upgrade to Windows 10, your computer is given a “device entitlement” which is sort of like an invisible, hardware-specific activation key. This allows that hardware to upgrade again in the future. You can secure your entitlement one of two ways:

  • Upgrade your computer like normal and roll it back. Microsoft’s nag icon makes sure you don’t forget how easy it is to upgrade to Windows 10. Once you do so, there will be an option in the Settings app to revert back to whichever version of Windows you upgraded from. You have a month to do this. Even if you revert back to an old version of Windows, you’ll keep your device entitlement and can upgrade again for free in the future. This method may uninstall some of your apps, so if you’d like everything to stay exactly the way you left it, you can try the next method.
  • Clone your system, then restore after upgrading. With this method, you’ll want to create a full clone or disk image of your system before upgrading to Windows 10. Once you’ve upgraded, you can restore your system from the backup you made to ensure everything is right where you left it, and you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 again in the future.

For now, you can still use Windows 10, even if you don’t pay for it. Unlike previous versions, Windows 10 doesn’t stop working entirely if you don’t activate it. You’ll just be nagged with a watermark, and a few personalization features won’t work until you pay up. Switching to Insider builds may remove some of the nags, since each periodic update resets the clock on the nags Microsoft sends your way.


Adjust Your Settings As An Insider to Limit Your Risk

Get the Newest Version of Windows Forever with Windows Insider

Microsoft doesn’t advise using Insider previews as a daily driver, but you can tweak a few settings in order to limit the risk to your machine.

Change Your Insider Level

There are three different levels of Insider builds, depending on how much risk you’re willing to take. The Fast level will give you the most bleeding edge, potentially broken updates Microsoft releases. The Slow level will take it easier, minimizing risk but still giving you pretty early updates. Finally, the Release Preview level (which should be the default when you first sign up) is the safest update channel. These are the builds that are ready for final testing before going out to the public at large.

To tweak these settings, search for “Insider” from the Start menu and choose “Advanced Windows Update options.” At the bottom of the window that opens, adjust the Insider Level slider. We recommend staying on Release Preview if you’re planning to use this machine regularly.

Defer Upgrades

You can also slow your update process down even further by deferring updates. This feature exists in Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise, and Education, but Windows 10 Home users don’t normally have the option. Ironically, becoming an Insider lets you “defer upgrades for several months.” This is especially handy if you want to get into the Insider program without the risk.

You can find this feature in the same menu where you adjusted your Insider level. At the top of the window, enable the checkbox that says “Defer upgrades.” Unfortunately, you can’t determine how long upgrades are deferred (and security patches will continue to rollout no matter what), but it at least gives you a long time to make sure Microsoft fixes any critical, computer-breaking bugs.

Stop Opera’s New VPN from Leaking Your IP Address

Stop Opera’s New VPN from Leaking Your IP Address

Last week, Opera added a VPN to the dev version of its browser, which was certainly good news. The bad news is that unlike the more robust VPNs it tries to replace, it leaks data that should be encrypted all over the place, namely your private IP address. Here’s how to fix it.


Reader Jeff Baines emailed shortly after our story to let me know that he’d tested Opera’s new VPN, and sure enough, discovered that it does leak your private IP address even when you have the VPN running and you’re connected to one of Opera’s exit servers. You can check for yourself over at Roseler’s WebRTC IP leak tester, which we mentioned the last time we discussed how to check if your VPN is leaking your IP.


Sure enough, once the VPN is enabled, you’ll see Opera’s IP address in the browser, but the WebRTC leak test will reveal your actual, ISP-provided IP address. (Seen in the image at the top of this post.)

Luckily the solution is just as simple: Install the WebRTC Leak Prevent add-on for Opera. Enable it, restart your browser, and try the test again. Your local IP address is blocked now, but your private, ISP-provided IP is still leaked.

Stop Opera’s New VPN from Leaking Your IP Address

To fix that, head into the add-on’s preferences, and click the drop-down at the top and choose “Disable non-proxied UDP (force proxy).” Then check the box that says “Prevent WebRTC from using non-proxied UDP.” Try the test again, and you’ll see now that the leak test won’t report ANY IP addresses from you, since WebRTC is being blocked. The end result is you’ll see something like the screenshot below:

Stop Opera’s New VPN from Leaking Your IP Address

This is probably the reason many of you reported that using Opera’s VPN doesn’t get you around content blocks like Netflix’s or Hulu’s. Of course, this isn’t Opera’s fault entirely—most web browsers will leak your private IP via WebRTC when a STUN request is made, including Chrome and Firefox. Either way, the add-on is a simple fix that’ll improve your privacy, and one that—if you’re going to try Opera’s new built-in VPN—you should make sure you do as soon as possible.

Thanks to Jeff Baines for sending in the tip!

How to Choose and Procure the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for You

How to Choose and Procure the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for You

Navigating the world of medical marijuana proves difficult when it comes to dosing properly. You have multiple ways to administer the drug and even then you have to figure out how to do it accurately. Let’s take a look at the different types of marijuana you can purchase and what can help provide the most relief for you.

This post is the third in Lifehacker’s Green Week, a series where we’ll be discussing medical marijuana, its benefits, drawbacks, and everything you need to know. Keep in mind, we’re not doctors, so you should check with yours before trying it, and similarly, obey the laws and regulations in your area regarding the procurement and use of medical marijuana.

What Different Types of Medical Marijuana Can I Get?

How to Choose and Procure the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for You

Medical marijuana literally comes in all sorts of different shapes, forms, colors, and styles. If you smoke or vape it you will have a greater selection of different strains and you can learn how each one affects you. Vaporizing, at least so far as we currently know, poses a significantly lower risk than smoking, which I personally wouldn’t recommend. If you want to choose an exact strain responsibly, go buy a quality vaporizer and skip the joints. If you want to avoid any potentially unknown risks of vaporizing, you can purchase sprays and tinctures for equally simple dosing. Marijuana products also come in the form of topical waxes, food, and drinks. Let’s discuss your seriously insane number of options.

  • Vaporizers: You can get a cheap vape pen at pretty much any dispensary or smoke shop for about $15-20 and it’ll do the trick. You can also buy a high quality vaporizer if you see a real benefit in spending around 10 times more. With a vaporizer you insert a cartridge, press a button, suck in the marijuana vapor, and blow it right out. Unlike smoking, you do not need to hold the vapor in your mouth. Suck it in, push it out, and you’re done.

    How do you know how much of the drug you just got with one “hit” (a puff on the vaporizer, basically)? The cartridge you inserted will say how many hits you can get from it and how much marijuana it contains (usually 150mg, 200mg, or 300mg). With some easy math you’ll find that you probably got between 1.5mg and 3mg per hit. We’ll discuss this later on when cover dosing practices, but you’ll probably want to try no more than 4-6mg your first time (whereas a person with a moderate tolerance would take 10-20mg for a dose). Vaporizing/vaping offers the advantage of a quick onset of effects (5-30 minutes) and easy and accurate dosing.

  • Tinctures and Sprays: Tinctures are bottles of liquid that you suck up with an eye dropper and administer each dose sublingually (under your tongue). You administer sprays sublingually as well, however you just push the cap like any spray bottle and out comes the medicine. Both supposedly take effect very quickly (5-30 minutes) like vaporizing, although in my experience it took closer to 45-60 minutes (half of the time of an edible). Neither the sprays or tinctures taste particularly good, but sprays often come with a burning sensation whereas tinctures do not. Still, I prefer sprays because they are very portable, discreet, and simple.
  • Edibles: I prefer edibles over any other form of medical marijuana because although they can provide a dosing challenge, you have a variety of cost-effective (and fun) options. You also don’t have to waste your time figuring out a specific dose because you can just buy a specific dose with your edible.

    A company called Kiva makes my favorite option—chocolate bars with segments containing a specific amount of the medicine, and even better, a tin of chocolate covered blueberries (or espresso beans, if you prefer) that contain 5mg of THC and make dosing straightforward and predictable. Cheeba, another company I like, makes taffy chews that also offer easy dosing. When looking for a combination of CBD and THC, or even solely CBD, Cheeba has a very good, simple set of taffy options. They do not, however, taste good.

    If you don’t have access to these or prefer something else, don’t fret. If a food exists in the world, you can probably find a version of it infused with marijuana. Despite how much I prefer edibles, they take longer than anything else to work. You’ll have to wait two hours to know how they’ll affect you and you absolutely should not ingest more until those two hours are up. Most people find the intensity of edibles to be much greater than any other form of marijuana. In my case, edibles provided more pain relief long after the “high” went away. I could use them before bedtime, sleep well, and wake up pain free without the any high whatsoever. Smaller doses also tend to be more effective, which is in turn more cost effective. Finally, edibles don’t always provide a consistent experience. Some companies, like the ones I mentioned, do their best to ensure that you get the amount of medicine specified on the package. Many edibles get it wrong, either providing more or less than advertised. You can usually guess by the quality of the packaging which edibles you can trust, but trial and error is the only way to know for certain.

  • Pills: If you don’t want to taste marijuana, or anything at all, you can purchase pills containing marijuana oil to swallow instead. They often look like vitamin E supplements and are pretty discreet. They work similarly to edibles in that they take time to work. Additionally, pills usually cost much more than their edible equivalents. On the upside, the amount of medicine in each pill tends to be more accurate.
  • Topical Wax (Balms): Do not confuse topical wax with wax (something we’re going to ignore in this article because it’s not relevant.) Topical wax is a balm that you rub on your skin. You would consider using topical wax or other marijuana balms if you have pain in a specific area. It takes around an hour to work and it smells strongly like—you guessed it—marijuana. Most people won’t find this worthwhile, but some people suffering from skin conditions that cause pain, soreness, and migraines appreciate its somewhat localized effects. If the topical wax contains THC, it will still get you high.

While edibles worked best for me, something else might work best for you. The only way you’ll ever know for sure is to try your options, and try them multiple times. Different edibles, vaporizer cartridges, sprays, and tinctures work differently than their counterparts. In some cases, you may find the exact same product works differently because a dose was a little off for one reason or another. Remember, none of these are pharmaceutical-grade products, and they all lack that level of consistency—even the good ones. Just as I recommend giving a new television show a few episodes before you judge it fully, you should give any medical marijuana product a few tries as well. Just make sure you don’t have anywhere to be for the next 4-16 hours. Until you know how the drug will affect you, don’t make plans you might not be able to keep.

How Do I Actually Go Buy Medical Marijuana?

How to Choose and Procure the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for You

If you live in a state where marijuana is legal—again, only on the state level, not federally—you can just go into any dispensary and buy some. At the time of this writing, that includes Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. Other states have decriminalized marijuana use, meaning they won’t arrest or prosecute you on charges of possession (up to a certain amount), and have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Every state has different rules and regulations as well as implementations of those rules and regulations. If you’re not sure how your state or region treats the issue, there’s a great rundown at Wikipedia here that’ll tell you.

If you are not in one of the four states where marijuana is more or less legal, you’ll need to be in a state where medical marijuana is, and you’ll need to get a card before you can buy it. Here’s how to obtain one:

  1. Go to your primary care physician and obtain a prescription, or a diagnosis of a condition that medical marijuana can be used to treat. Here’s a helpful list of conditions that usually apply. Most medical prescriptions are handed out by medical marijuana doctors who don’t really give a crap what you’re going to do with your prescription. That said, they need to follow the rules and will not diagnose you with a condition.
  2. Write down the contact information of your doctor and the condition you were diagnosed with. Then locate a medical marijuana prescription doctor. Leafly can help you find one.
  3. Once you find a marijuana-prescribing doctor, schedule a visit (or walk in) and fill out some forms. You’ll need to supply your diagnosing doctor’s information for the marijuana-prescribing doctor’s records, and the visit itself will cost you anywhere from $25-200 for a visit.
  4. Answer a few questions. The prescribing doctor will call you in, read your forms, ask you about your situation, and then give you a stamp of approval.
  5. Get your card. You’ll go back into the waiting room to get your prescription (and marijuana card, if you wish to pay extra for that convenience) and they’ll send you on your way.
How to Choose and Procure the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for You

Once you have a medical marijuana card you can immediately visit a dispensary and shop. If you don’t know where to go, or have no idea where your closest dispensary is, visit WeedMaps and find one near you. Once you find one, new patients have a few more hoops to jump through:

  1. Once you have a dispensary you’re considering, do your homework. Research specific products, choose which method (edible, vaporizer, tincture, etc) you want to try first, and look up the dispensary on Leafly or just via a web search for reviews.
  2. Visit the dispensary and tell them you’re a new patient. This will require your state ID/driver’s license, your marijuana prescription, and your prescription card. The prescription card is not necessary but if you want to use it to get in with your government-issued ID later on you’ll need to give it to them for a photocopy. Regardless of the card, you still need to have your actual prescription with you every time you visit a new dispensary. They need to keep a copy of it on file.
  3. Fill out a (lengthy) new patient form. You will need to supply a lot of information (normal stuff like your name and how to contact you,) but you’ll also need to explain what talents you can bring to the “collective.” That’s because you can’t actually just buy marijuana from someone who produces it. Instead, you’re enjoying the “free” work product of a collective to which you (will) belong. Most dispensaries will ask you how you can aid the collective, so just have literally any skill in mind. It can be web design or fertilizer research. No one really cares, but it’s always good to be up-front about it. Just put something down that you actually can do
  4. Bring cash. You cannot pay for marijuana with a credit or debit card (in most places) for a lot of reasons, but the one that matters here is that you’re not actually buying marijuana, but rather donating money to your collective. Certain donations warrant gifts. Those gifts are medical marijuana. So instead of buying marijuana, you’re donating money and getting marijuana as a gift. It’s a game of semantics, kind of like donating to public radio—you give them money and they send you a gift, as opposed to you “buying” that tote bag or DVD set. Make sense?
  5. Wait your turn. Most dispensaries only allow a certain number of people to enter the big marijuana room at one time. When you get there, you’ll probably have to wait a few minutes (at least) until you’re called and can go in. It helps to have some idea of what you want, so you don’t make everyone else wait while you choose. Ask any questions you have, but note that the people helping you here may or may not be qualified to answer them (but they’ll certainly have opinions.) Furthermore, even if you tell them you have no tolerance they’ll suggest a dose that’s too high. Be very careful with any recommendations you get from dispensary staff members, and err on the conservative side of any dosing or usage suggestions they offer (more on that in a moment.)
  6. Let them know you’re new, and enjoy the free goodies. If you’re visiting any dispensary for the first time, or if it is your one year anniversary (they have to reprocess you after a year because most states require a prescription renewal), ask them what new patients get for free before you donate. You’ll often get a few free treats. If they give you something you don’t want (in my case, a joint), tell them you don’t want it and ask if they have anything else.
  7. Find out if they have a mailing list or text messaging service to notify you of any discounts. They probably do, so sign up. You’ll save at least 10% every time you go.

Congratulations, you now have medical marijuana! We’ll go into how to use it responsibly shortly, but one more thing first: You need to learn how to store the drug so it doesn’t go bad. Some edibles require refrigeration. Some last forever, and some expire. Some products require specific temperatures (usually room temperature). Find out how to store what you purchased and what kind of shelf life you’re dealing with so you don’t waste it. The folks at the dispensary actually know about storage, so you can ask them about each product you buy. They won’t tell you, so make sure you do ask how to store your products and when/if they expire.

You can stock up on long-lasting products and get a few of the ones that expire if you want to make sure you always have medicine available. I’ve never enjoyed frequent trips to the dispensary, so I always kept enough pills, candies, and sprays around in case I ran out of the cheaper, expiring options. That way if you get a little lazy—which is not a possibility with marijuana but a guarantee—you’ll still have medicine until you get off your butt and purchase more.

As Green Week continues we’ll be learning about responsible medical marijuana use and making your own edibles, so stay tuned for more!

Images by ByEmo (Shutterstock), Oleg Baliuk (Shutterstock), Eric Broder Van Dyke (Shutterstock), and Sherry Yates Young (Shutterstock).

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

Marijuana offers some helpful medical benefits when used well, but thanks its current (and unusual) legal status it’s hard to obtain and use effectively. Once you learn the basics, however, you can overcome these hurdles. Let’s take a look at how medical marijuana works and the laws surrounding it.

This post is the second in Lifehacker’s Green Week, a series where we’ll be discussing medical marijuana, its benefits, drawbacks, and everything you need to know. Keep in mind, we’re not doctors, so you should check with yours before trying it, and similarly, obey the laws and regulations in your area regarding the procurement and use of medical marijuana.

What You Need to Know About Marijuana’s Legal Status

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

The current state of marijuana legality poses a larger problem than you might think. By itself, you’ve got a potent drug that offers several medical benefits with a variety of side effects—most of which many people enjoy recreationally and others, like myself, consider unpleasant. Whether you like getting high or not, or support a person’s right to recreational drugs, marijuana does have medical value, but not without significant downsides. For example, marijuana can lower the frequency of seizures in children with epilepsy. Certain marijuana products (mostly tinctures, which we’ll discuss later), such as Charlotte’s Web and Jayden Juice, focus on one component of the versatile plant (cannabidiol, also known as CBD) to provide seizure prophylaxis without the side effects of “getting high.” It also helps a subset of people with chronic pain issues live virtually pain-free.

But Jayden Juice and Charlotte’s Web were not discovered in a traditional lab, and they’re not pharmaceutical products. In a way, that’s an exciting form of progress, because we’re all familiar with some of the unethical behavior pharmaceutical companies exhibit, and it’s nice to have outsiders doing research that matters. Nevertheless, marijuana holds a lot of healing power that we can’t tap into without adequate financial resources, which means the labs and talent those companies have in droves. With them, we could discover new drugs that treat a large variety of conditions with fewer side effects than current medications on the market.

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

For a prime example, consider pain management. With few exceptions (primarily inflammatory pain), narcotic drugs known as opioids make up the majority of the pain management market. You probably know them as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin), tramadol (Ultram), and codeine. (Tylenol 3) They’re the drugs that pop up in dialogue when television shows and films discuss addiction. Opioids help you ignore the pain and feel euphoric, but you can only take them for a short period of time before your body builds up a tolerance and you need more and more just to feel “normal.” Ask any recovered addict and they will tell you how terrible the withdrawal symptoms become and how quickly they begin after stopping. Many people don’t understand the risk of taking opioids, and develop a physical dependency quickly before they even know it’s happening. On the other hand, marijuana doesn’t come with such a high level of risk and dependency. While you can develop a tolerance, you risk far fewer side effects and can manage that tolerance more easily.

Despite the potential benefits of marijuana over often more dangerous legal drugs, the US government still lists it as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone fall into the Schedule II category, which means only a limited amount can be prescribed in the country per year. It also makes it much harder for someone who needs these drugs to get them. Despite the dangers opioids carry, they’re still considered to have medical benefits whereas marijuana—despite actual evidence to the contrary that the government actually acknowledges—is not, and keeping it a Schedule I drug doesn’t just make it illegal to possess, buy, or sell, but makes it near-impossible to study or research in a legal, medical setting.

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

As a result of the federal government’s stance, states have enacted medical marijuana laws to allow individuals to grow a limited number of marijuana plants, for personal use. If you receive a medical marijuana prescription, you can join a collective and “donate” money to receive some of their “work product,” which simply means you can buy marijuana by using silly terminology to pretend you are not. Some states, such as Colorado and Oregon, have fully legalized the drug. Nevertheless, the federal government still considers it illegal, and that means you assume a variety of risks if you choose to use it for medical purposes. For example, a prescription in one state usually does not transfer to another, so you cannot travel and fill a prescription while you’re away from home. Furthermore, if you travel by air, you have to deal with the Transportation Security Agency, or TSA—a federal agency—and you are not subject to state laws even if you are traveling within the state where you received your prescription. Chances of prosecution are low, but these examples demonstrate that disconnect between state legalization and federal illegality.

Obviously, this process needs to change. It’s also probably obvious that I think the government should not oppose medical marijuana use. We need to study marijuana further and learn how to create more effective drugs with fewer side effects that can help people manage pain without getting them high. We need doctors to learn how to use marijuana as a treatment, and patients don’t have to rely on dispensary employees, who often know more about recreational uses than medicinal ones, to provide advice on a powerful drug. At the very least, we need to eliminate the risk of fines and imprisonment for people who currently use marijuana for medical purposes. Many people believe imminent change is around the corner, and hopefully that prediction will become true. For now, before you go get yourself a medical marijuana prescription, know these risks and limitations exist. Although small, they are just the legal issues. You need to acquire a lot of knowledge to use medical marijuana safely and effectively. My goal, here, is to help you do that so you don’t have to go through the trouble I did.

How Does Medical Marijuana Work?

How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

Before you do anything else, you need to understand how medical marijuana works, how it can help you, and what kinds of other fun things it does that you should expect. First, let’s go over the major types of the plant:

  • Sativa: Known as the “head high,” sativa tends to have more psychoactive and euphoric properties. Most people who use marijuana recreationally prefer sativa because it won’t put you to sleep as readily as its sibling (indica, discussed next). While I personally found less medical benefit in sativa, some people have the opposite experience.
  • Indica: Known as the “body high,” indica tends to relax you and put you to sleep. Some people report feeling fused to their couch or bed. Indica often serves as a better option for people with medical issues because it works well as a sedative. This, however, may offer the opposite of what you need. If you don’t want to get sleepy, don’t use indica.
  • Hybrid: This won’t come as a surprise, but hybrid strains of marijuana contain both sativa and indica. You may find this more effective for medical purposes because it provides the best of both worlds.
  • Ruderalis: You’re almost definitely not going to encounter cannabis ruderalis by name. It’s an uncommon type and originates in Russia. It has a higher concentration of cannabidiol (also known as CBD—more on that later) than indica or sativa. If you end up purchasing a high CBD product, it’s possible it was derived from cannabis ruderalis. You don’t need to worry about this type, though, as you shouldn’t ever have to ask for it by name.
How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

The first time you use any marijuana you will have a very different experience from subsequent times. Some people don’t get high at all and others get so high, even from a tiny amount, that they never want to touch the stuff again—that was me! You may fall somewhere in between as well. But you don’t have to get high to get the medical benefits from marijuana. Marijuana contains a large variety of compounds called cannabinoids, most of which fall under two headers: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While at least 85 types cannabinoids exist, for the sake of this explanation we’re going to take a reductive view and just wrangle them all into the THC and CBD categories.

  • THC: If your goal is to get high, THC will do it. The psychoactive properties of marijuana lie in THC. But beyond that, THC can relieve stress, pain, nausea, glaucoma symptoms, and insomnia. It can also stimulate your appetite (you know, give you the munchies) and calm asthma and anxiety attacks. Some people who use medical marijuana need THC and will have to deal with (or enjoy, if you fall into that category) the side effect of, well, getting high. Depending on the strain and your reaction to it, that can involve feeling paranoid or feeling relaxed, falling asleep, giggling, eating too much, and everything else usually associated with recreational use of marijuana. You’ll have to use medical marijuana products that include THC multiple times to get a good idea of what will happen to you over the long term.
  • CBD: If you don’t want to get high at all, you want CBD. Most medical marijuana products for children either include only CBD (Charlotte’s Web) or a very high ratio of CBD to THC (Jayden Juice) so that no psychoactive symptoms present themselves. CBD can aid in seizure prophylaxis, but also help with nausea, some chronic pain, inflammatory pain (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, and more.
How Medical Marijuana Works, and Its Complicated Legal Status

If you want to try medical marijuana, even if you know you want the benefits of THC, you should start with CBD products first. This way you can find out if CBD helps you at all and then you can incorporate THC based on what you learn. You’ll get no judgment from us for wanting to enjoy your medicinal marijuana, so long as you put your medical needs first. Understand what you’re doing so you can use responsibly.

Next, let’s discuss what happens to your brain when you use medical marijuana. Here’s an example timeline for edibles, my prefered method of treatment:

  1. You eat, and wait up to two hours for something to happen.
  2. Presuming you ingested a marijuana edible containing THC, it will start to work on your brain. As previously mentioned, this can take some time, but when the process is underway you will become very aware of it. Compounds like THC do their thing by telling neurons to send neurotransmitters along pathways in the brain called synapses to do their job. Most neurotransmitters are made in your body, but compounds like THC mimic these neurotransmitters for various effects. THC, for example, mimics anandamide.
  3. Once THC starts binding, you will start to feel that “high,” but you’ll also feel its medical benefits—calmness, pain relief, relaxed anxiety. THC, mimicking anandamide, begins binding to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, which blocks some normal brain activity. Because anandamide and dopamine work together, THC causes a significant disruption. Your otherwise adequate memory, coordination, and learning abilities suddenly don’t seem so adequate, and they’re replaced by hunger, euphoria, painlessness, and in many people, impaired cognitive function. This ramps up over the course of two hours for most people, with the second hour being the most significant. This first time can feel intense, especially with an edible. You will most likely fall asleep, especially if you start with indica or a hybrid. If you start with sativa that may also occur, but not before you (potentially) experience some odd hallucinations.
  4. Depending on your tolerance, you will recover somewhere between 4-16 hours later. Plan ahead, and don’t try this (especially edibles) for the first time if you have somewhere to be during that timeframe—especially if it involves driving.

But what about smoking and vaporizing? What about sprays and tinctures? We’ll get there later in this series, but if you want an idea of how this all changes when smoking or vaping, it happens over a much shorter period of time (5-30 minutes) and the effects are significantly weaker because you will ingest less of the drug in a puff of smoke or stream than you will by eating it.

Of course, this is just how you may feel. It also helps to know how marijuana affects your brain and body, scientifically speaking. You’ll also want to take a more responsible approach to using the drug for medical purposes. As Green Week continues, we’ll discuss that and more. Stay tuned!


Images by Pogorelova Olga (Shutterstock), Sira Anamwong (Shutterstock), Susan Montgomery (Shutterstock), mikeledray (Shutterstock), David Smart (Shutterstock), molekuul_be (Shutterstock), (Shutterstock), KateMacate (Shutterstock), KateMacate (Shutterstock), and a katz (Shutterstock).