From the Tips Box: International Gmail Calls, Standing Desks, and Dropbox Drives [From The Tips Box]
Readers offer their best tips for calling from Gmail overseas, making easy standing desks, and mounting Dropbox as a virtual drive.
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About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in—the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments, share it here, or email it to tips at lifehacker.com.
Make Calls from Gmail Outside the U.S. with a VPN
Abhijeet writes a blog post on how to make calls from outside the U.S. in Gmail:
Like many others outside the United States, I too was wondering how to get my hands on the cool call phone feature which Gmail introduced recently for its US users. There were reports that if you set your Gmail language settings to English(US), it should work. And yes, it did for many. But not for me (and for many others).
So, while hunting for a workaround, I thought why not try one of the free VPN clients we mentioned in our hide IP and browse securely article, and see if getting a US based IP address is all that's needed. And guess what, it worked like a charm!
Here's what I did.
1. Signed out of Gmail.
2. Fired up my favorite VPN client and got myself a US IP address.
3. Signed back into Gmail, and found a nice "Call Phone" option in the chat column.
It worked for me so I am assuming it should work for many others out there. Try it out and let me know if it does.
Also, it should be noted that as soon as I disconnected from the VPN and came back to my original connection, the call phone option was gone. So this isn't a permanent thing and would require you to stay connected using the VPN.
Turn Any Desk into a Standing Desk for $5
Use $5 bed risers from Target or Walmart for an easy DIY standing desk. They'll lift a desk with normal legs around 5 inches off the floor.
I'm 4' 11" using a Blu Dot Paperclip desk with 5' risers and it works great for me. Taller (read: normal height) people will probably need stackable or adjustable risers.
Manage Dropbox as a Virtual Drive
There is subst.exe utility in windows which creates virtual drives of paths associated with them. So I use it to manage Dropbox folder. You need to make a cmd or bat file with the these 2 lines:
subst /d X:
subst X: "C:\Users\[user]\Documents\My Dropbox"
and put the file in your startup folder ("Start"- type "shell:startup" in the search field) as the command file mounts the folder into a virtual drive. The first line deletes a substituted virtual drive. You'll see a drive (X: in this case) in My Computer which has Dropbox folders. Thanks to this thread.
Note: the command shown will work on Windows 7, for Windows XP the command has to be
"C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\My Documents\My Dropbox"
Note that you can do this with any folder in Windows, but it may be particularly helpful for some Dropbox users to visualize their Dropbox folder as a network drive.
Use an Old CD Spindle to Coil Wire
Use an old CD spindle to distribute wire from a loose spool. There's room in there for at least 2 more spools. Combine this with the under-the-desk CD spindle, and you'd be set!