Ninja's Reviews > Life Hacks: Any Procedure or Action That Solves a Problem, Simplifies a Task, Reduces Frustration, Etc. in One's Everyday Life

Life Hacks by Keith Bradford
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did not like it

I read this book, so that you don't have to. There are 1000 so called life hacks in this book. When I got to the first false hack, I thought, generously, "One factual error I will give him." After all, everyone makes mistakes. But when I got to the second one, his credibility was strained for me.

Right out of the gate, two of my all time favourite false claims show up as hack numbers 11 and 12: Putting batteries in the freezer to make them last longer and putting a wet cell phone in rice to absorb water are both untrue. In the case of batteries, you could ruin them because of condensation that quickly forms once you remove them from the freezer. In the case of rice, it would be better to ask this question in your favourite search engine: "How to Save a Wet Phone" and follow the advice that doesn't include rice.

By the third false claim, I was going to put down the book, then I thought I'd entertain myself by doing my own fact checking. I didn't check every one. I skipped the ones that I knew were true and ones I didn't particularly care about. The book turns out to be little more than a random selection of mostly unsubstantiated noise direct from the internet with only a few useful hacks. In one case, he lifts a statement verbatim from an online quiz. To wit, hack number 317: "Daytime naps help to improve your memory and cut the risk of heart disease." You can find it at ynquiz.com. In any case, I couldn't find any solid proof for this claim, and factors such as how long you nap for and when, are important in determining its health benefits. Another problem with some of his hacks is that they are misleading. Another example is hack number 18: "Putting your phone on airplane mode will stop ads while playing games." Yes. This is true, but because airplane mode turns off access to any networks including the cell network, if your game depends on being on the internet, you may not be able to play it at all. So this hack doesn't always work.

Here's another one. Hack 56: "Drop a battery from six inches off the ground. If it bounces once and falls over it’s still good. If it bounces around more than that, it’s dead or on its way out." Because of the section this hack appears in, I am assuming he is specifically talking about cell phone batteries. In any case, I don't understand how this is a hack. If you feel you have to drop your battery on the ground, I'm guessing you already have a problem. Another issue this example highlights is that he frequently neglects to be specific about the circumstances and context of many of the hacks.

Describing hacks such as number 54 are sloppy and confusing for the reader: "To move frame by frame on a YouTube video, pause it and then use J or L to go backward or forward." Either this one is out of date or he doesn't know what a frame is. The character L advances the video 10 seconds and J backs it up 10 seconds. I was particularly concerned about hack 250: "Honey, when mixed with vinegar and water, can remove worms and other parasites in your body". I could not find anything to support this claim. Consult a medical professional if you suspect you have a parasite.

Do not depend on hack number 227 either, which claims, "It’s completely safe to eat the stickers that are on fruit. Even the glue used to put them on is food grade." According to Snopes, this is mostly false. Sure you can eat one or two stickers from time to time without any ill effects, but in general don't be eating paper and glue. It's not a good thing. Take off the sticker and wash your produce people.

Some of the hacks are indeed woefully out of date, especially the ones that refer to specific websites or google search terms. Hack 25: "Turn the Google search page into pirate slang by typing in 'Google pirate' and clicking the 'I’m feeling lucky' button [sic] 'Settings' will now be referred to as 'Me likes an’ dislikes'". The instructions don't work, but a little investigation proved that the so-called hack is found by using the URL: google.com/?hl-xx-pirate, albeit not as he describes it.

When I read hack 118 "Poke a fork through the creamy part of an Oreo, so that you can dip the whole Oreo in milk without getting your fingers wet", I wondered, Were you raised by wolves?

There were a few hacks I really loved and did find useful. For example, hack number 2: "Want to download a YouTube video? Just add 'ss' to the URL between 'www.' and 'YouTube'". It's clunky but it works. But my favourite is hack 38: "Go to https://www.youtube.com/disco and enter in an artist’s name. YouTube will auto arrange an awesome playlist based on uploads of that artist". This truly is an awesome hack. It's even better than he describes it. You can use any search term and experiment with what you can get. For example, type in "David Bowie Heart's Filthy Lesson". You will get results for uploaded versions that Bowie did of that song. Type in "cover of What's going on and you'll get versions of that song by various artists.

These last examples do not make up for the errors and sheer sloppiness of this book. Despite the disclaimer that the author and publisher accept no responsibility for misadventure caused by following any of these hacks, this reader thinks that it is extremely irresponsible and unethical to publish this book without rigorous fact checking. There is no excuse for propagating false, incomplete, or misleading information. And the author shouldn't be profiting from it. If he wanted to maximize his credibility, citing sources and proof would have helped. Save your money and time and skip this one altogether.
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Reading Progress

January 14, 2020 – Started Reading
January 15, 2020 – Shelved
January 15, 2020 – Finished Reading

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