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Assistive Touch

Apples biggest downfall in its iPhone and iPad design is the ‘Home’ button, with repetitive use it is the first part of the device to brake or become less responsive and even though it can be replaced at a costly £120 would it not be better to find a solution that would put less usage on that poor little button? Turns out there is.
Not only that, but there is a way to access Siri and multitasking without needing to use the Home button, rotate the screen and simulate shaking of the device without actually moving it, and adjust the ringer volume and mute function without using the audio buttons.
It is called AssistiveTouch.

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AssistiveTouch is a convenient feature that lets iOS users access buttons and trigger features that require movement without having to push buttons or lift the iPhone. AssistiveTouch is an Accessibility feature that is often used by people with various levels of disability. As it turns out, AssistiveTouch is also the perfect solution for an iPhone with broken buttons.

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How to activate AssistiveTouch
Step 1: Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch
Step 2: Toggle the switch to the “On” position.
A transparent icon will appear at the top of the screen. It is dark grey and has a series of circles inside of it. Touch the icon to access the AssistiveTouch features.

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Note that the AssistiveTouch icon can me moved around the screen to a more convenient location. Just tap on the icon and drag it wherever you want on the screen.
How to use AssistiveTouch to activate Siri, simulate the Home button, and access Favourites
Step 1: Open AssistiveTouch
Step 2: Tap Siri, Home, or Favourites to perform the action.
When you tap “Favourites,” you can access custom gestures that you create for one-tap actions. For example, you can create a custom gesture to scroll down while you are browsing the Internet.
How to create AssistiveTouch custom gestures
Step 1: Open AssistiveTouch > Favourites
Step 2: Tap an empty gesture box.
Step 3: Tap or swipe to create the custom gesture. Tap Save.
Step 4: Name the New Gesture
Step 5: Open AssistiveTouch again
Step 6: Tap Favourites. You will see your new gesture.
Step 7: Tap the gesture to perform it.
Step 8: Tap the menu button to stop using the gesture.

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Use AssistiveTouch to activate the Sleep/Wake button, volume controls, and screen rotation
Step 1: Open AssistiveTouch > Device
Step 2: Tap Lock Screen, Rotate Screen, Volume Up, Volume Down, Mute or More to perform the action.
When you tap “More,” it will call up a third menu.

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How to use AssistiveTouch to take a screenshot, or open App Switching (Multitasking)
Step 1: Open AssistiveTouch > Device > More > Gestures
Step 2: Tap Shake, Multitasking, or Screenshot to perform the action.
You can also perform a swipe or drag that requires two, three, four, or five fingers with the multi-touch gesture feature.
How to use AssistiveTouch to activate multi-touch gestures
Step 1: Open AssistiveTouch > Device > More > Gestures
Step 2: Tap the number of fingers needed for the gesture.
Step 3: When the circles appear on the screen, swipe or drag in the direction required.
Step 4: Tap the menu button to stop using the multi-touch gesture.
Now you know how to access a variety of buttons with AssistiveTouch. If your Sleep/Wake, Home, or volume buttons are broken, you can use this feature instead

Passcode

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If you are like many people, you may not have a passcode to lock your iPhone. Many people do not bother enabling them. If you do have a passcode on your iPhone, you are likely using the iPhone's "simple passcode" option, which brings up a number pad and requires you to enter a 4-digit number to access your iPhone. Given that most people's phones now hold as much (or possibly more) personal information on them then their home computers do, consider something a little harder to break than 0000, 2580, 1111, or 1234. If one of these numbers is your passcode you might as well just turn the passcode feature off because these are some of the most common and easily guessed passcodes in use today.
The iPhone iOS operating system provides a more robust passcode option. Finding this feature can be a challenge because it's not the easiest setting to locate.
You are probably thinking to yourself "phone passcodes are such a hassle, I do not want to spend forever typing in a password to log into my phone". This is where you have to make the choice between the security of your data or the convenience of quick access. It is up to you on how much risk you are willing to take for the sake of convenience.
While creating a complex password is always recommended, most people don't want to make things overly complicated. Simply changing from a simple passcode to the iPhone complex passcode option will boost your security because enabling the alphanumeric/symbols instead of just numbers-only significantly increases the total possible combination that a thief or hacker would have to try in order to break into your phone.
If you use the simple 4-digit numeric password, there are only 10,000 possible combinations. That may seem high, but a determined hacker or thief will probably guess it in a few hours.
The total number of possible combos for the complex passcode option is mind bogglingly huge and could take a hacker several lifetimes to figure out, even adding a few more characters (6-8) is a huge roadblock to overcome for a hacker trying to guess all the possible combinations.

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To enable a complex passcode on your iPhone / iPad / or iPod touch device:
1. From the home menu, tap the settings icon (Grey icon with a couple of gears in it).
2. Tap on the "General" settings button.
3. From the "General" settings menu, choose the "Passcode Lock" item, if you own and iPhone 5s then it will say “Touch ID & Passcode.”
4. Tap the "Turn Passcode On" option at the top of the menu or enter your current passcode if you already have a passcode enabled.
5. Set the "Require Password" option to "Immediately" unless you wish to have a longer window of time before it is required. This is where you have the chance to balance security versus usability. You could create a longer passcode and set a longer window of time before it's required so you won't be constantly entering it or you could create a shorter passcode and require it immediately. Either choice has it's pros and cons, it just depends on what level of security vs. convenience you are willing to accept.
6. Change the "Simple Passcode" to the "OFF" position. This will enable the complex passcode option.
7. Enter your current 4-digit passcode if prompted.
8. Type in your new complex passcode when prompted and tap the "Next" button.
9. Type in your new complex passcode a second time to confirm it and tap the "Done" button.
10. Press the home button and then press the wake/sleep button to test out your new passcode.

Recalibrate

It is easy to forget about your iDevice’s home button while you are mesmerised by it’s gorgeous display. No matter what, the home button may be the most important part of your iDevice. It enables you to multitask, quit applications, and use Siri, just to name a few things. After a while, your home button may start to seem a little laggy or unresponsive. Luckily, you can fix that problem in three easy steps:
Step 1: Launch one of the stock apps on your iDevice (Weather, iTunes, Stocks, etc.).
Step 2: Press and hold the power button until you see the “slide to power off” prompt, then release the power button.
Step 3: Press and hold you home button until the “slide to power off” prompt disappears and the app force quits.
You should now be on your home screen and your home button should be recalibrated! Recalibrating your home button this way will work on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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Other Domains

When typing a web address into Safari just hold down the .com button and a pop up will appear with a selection of domains that are related to specific country’s domain - just drag and select the one you want.

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Calculator Hidden Features

A surprising number of iPhone users do not realise that the built-in Calculator app actually offers a scientific calculator, too. To find it, just rotate your iPhone from portrait to landscape mode.

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Siri. What's That? Who's That?

Okay lets start off with something that has been on everyones lips, it is Siri.
The biggest selling point to the iPhone4s has been Siri, but what is Siri or as some have said, who is Siri?
Siri is your personal assistant, butler, gofer or whatever word you use for that person that lurks behind you and in front of you doing all of your mundane tasks.
What Siri does is not science fiction and it certainly is not magic, well Apple magic maybe. It is the old and still-developing technology of speech-to-text analysis and the old and fairly mature technology of simple grammatical analysis and string matching.
So if Siri is my artificial intelligent assistant, what can it do to help me?
You can get Siri to do the following listed below.

Ask for a reminder.
Ask to send a text
Ask about the weather.
Ask for information (from Yelp, Wolfram|Alpha, or Wikipedia).
Ask to set a meeting.
Ask to send an email.
Ask for a number.
Ask to set an alarm.
Ask for directions.
Ask about stocks.
Ask to set the timer.
Ask Siri about Siri.

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And for a more graphic look to what Siri can do then check out Apples Siri site.
If you thought that Siri was smart with doing the above tasks, then wait until you really start to use Siri within your applications and you will soon find that Siri can go that little bit further.
Address Book has an option to customise a contact, which is in the relationship field of the contact. You can add a custom label such as “Honey Pie”, “Sweet Thing”, “Me Bitch”, “My Boyfriend”, “My Girlfriend”, “My Wife”, “My Husband”, “My Lover”, “My Mistress”, “My Slave” and so the list could goes on to indicate your whatever. Now if Siri hears you say, “Honey Pie”, “Sweet Thing”, “Me Bitch”, “My Boyfriend”, “My Girlfriend”, “My Wife”, “My Husband”, “My Lover”, “My Mistress”, “My Slave” Siri can recognise that contact and act appropriately to the command you give Siri. You could say to Siri; for example “Siri text my lover”, “tell him I am running about 15 minutes late, but I am on my way”. Siri will then confirm with you what you have said and ask you if it ok to send the text.
Siri can also just be your friend who you can have that personal one on one with that no one else can offer quite like Siri can. If you check out the website ‘Shit That Siri Says’ you will soon find some interesting ways you can speak to Siri.
It has also been noted that depending on the country you are in, Siri could be your female personal assistant or your male personal assistant. Over here in the UK we have a male personal assistant who happens to be the very talented voice artist of Jon Briggs.

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Six years ago, tech journalist Jon Briggs recorded over 5,000 sentences of spoken word for Scansoft, a text-to-speech company.
To Briggs, it was just another voice acting gig, like his work for BBC Radio2, TomTom, and Garmin.
But when he heard his voice (called "Daniel" by Scansoft) in an iPhone4s Siri commercial, he knew it was his work. Sometime afterwards, Apple contacted Briggs and told him to keep quiet about being the voice of Siri in the UK. Briggs was not having any of it and told the press that he had no association with Apple. It turns out that Scansoft was purchased by Nuance, the company Apple relies on for Siri's voice recognition technology, which Apple bought out. Nuance chopped up Briggs' words into tiny "phonics," which it pieces together to create Siri's responses to your questions.
So there you have it, Siri.

Blocking It

It has been a long overdue feature that has plagued the best of us, there is nothing worse than having to change and email address, phone number or even contract to avoid some pestering idiot. But now Apple have finally realised it is a growing problem that they need to tackle to keep its fan base happy, maybe one of the CEO’s was being pestered to much by a disgruntled employee and so message blocking was available. 
Unfortunately for this to work the person or persons bothering you needs to be in your contacts list. I have found the best way to deal with this is by creating a contact group simply called ‘Blocked’ and dragging those idiots to this group, the only draw back that hopefully Apple will tackle in the future is the fact anyone and everyone is still shown in your ‘All Contacts’ list. To only show certain contacts you can hide groups so that even though they are still there in a ‘Blocked’ group you will not see them in your direct line of sight.
To start, fire up the Messages app on your Mac and look towards your Mac’s toolbar.
From here, click on the Messages button, and from the drop down menu, click on the Preferences button.

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From the Preferences window, click on the Accounts tab located towards the top of the menu.
Now look towards the centre of the screen and click on your iMessage username.
Towards the centre of the screen you will now see a button labeled Blocked.
Click into this menu and you will be able to block people from your Address Book from iMessaging you by pressing the “plus” button that’s located towards the bottom of the window.
That’s all there is to it! Now sit back, relax, and enjoy a spam-free iMessage inbox on your Mac.

Spam Slap

It seems no matter what you do to combat spam mail, somehow, someway some items get through. There is however there is two ways to combat this annoying nuisance.
First, any emails that are marked as junk or dragged into the Junk folder are automatically reported to Apple. This is true whether you are using Mail.app on your Mac or iCloud webmail. It is rather easy to accomplish in Mail.app you can just click on the message and then click that thumbs-down button to mark it as spam and for iCloud webmail, just select the message, click the Mark As pop-up menu (or the "flag" in iCloud) and choose Junk Mail.
Another method is to forward your junk email as attachments to spam@icloud.com.
To do this, select the message in Mail.app and then choose Message > Forward as Attachment. Type the above email address in the "To:" field, and send the message on its merry way to Apple, which will use the information to filter future missives from the spammer.

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For those who only own an iPhone or iPad, do not think you are safe from this announce, everyone seems to be the target but do not worry because Apple has put measures in place to help those on iOS devices to combat this same problem.
To report unwanted iMessage messages to Apple, send an email with the following details to: imessage.spam@icloud.com

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1. Include a screenshot of the message you have received.
2. Include the full email address or phone number you received the unwanted message from. 
3. Include the date and time that you received the message.

To take a screenshot on your iOS device, press and release the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time. The screenshot is added to your Camera Roll album.

Alpha In Preview

Preview is the application that opens by default when you double-click on a JPG, PNG or other image file on your Mac. As OS X has matured, Preview has taken on some interesting features that are not immediately obvious but that provide some of the functionality of bigger image editing programs. The ability to identify areas of an image that are of similar tone and colour is one such tool, and can be used to cut parts of a picture out of their background. It works with the alpha channel, which is a part of a digital image that stores information about transparency and the way that existing colours overlap. You do not need Photoshop to work with the alpha channel, you can do it from Preview in just a few easy steps.

Step 1: Open your image. Take an image where you want to cut something out of its background or remove an element from the whole picture, leaving only the background.

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Step 2: Choose the tool. Go to the Select button in the Toolbar in Preview and click on it to reveal the additional tools. Select the tool called Instant Alpha.

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Step 3: Select the background. Click somewhere in the background and drag the mouse to choose a larger area. The detection works best where the background colour is quite uniform.

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Step 4: Redo if necessary. If Preview has included some incorrect areas, click once to undo the selection. Drag the mouse while holding to increase or decrease the sensitivity of the tool.

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Step 5: Hit backspace. With the areas selected, hit backspace on your keyboard. The selected content is deleted. With complex backgrounds it’s better to work in stages.

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Step 6: Keep removing background. It is rare that one or two selections will clear a whole background so you may need to keep selecting areas and deleting them manually.

Title Bar Icon

When you have a file open, such as an image in Photoshop or pixelmator or even a letter you are writing in pages or Microsoft Word, you may want to see where that file is saved or move it to another folder. In the titlebar of a window, most programs have an icon to the left of the filename (as shown below). These icons actually represent the file. If you click and hold on the icon for a moment, then drag it to a folder, your desktop, wherever, you will actually move that file! Please note that some apps work differently. For instance TextEdit makes an alias to the file instead of moving it or in Preview you will be able to Lock the file, Duplicate or see all Versions.

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To locate where the file is, hold Command and click on the filename in the titlebar. As shown below, a menu will pop-up displaying the folder structure of the file’s location. Choose one of the folders to open it in the Finder. In OS Lion you can also Right-Click or Control-Click to get this menu.

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Redeem Yourself

A real time saver and in my minds eye, an awesome touch in the new iTunes 11.
Apple will now allow you to redeem iTunes gift cards using your iMacs built in camera.

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For now it is just a privileged feature that Mac owners can use, sorry no Windows devices yet. On closer inspection It does however seem like it will require the newer type of Apple gift cards.

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The Spice Of Life

Turmeric is a popular spice for cooking, but it has a long history of medicinal uses, too. It is one of the most researched natural remedies available and there are numerous studies validating the healing properties. Turmeric provides a wide variety of benefits and once you know about these benefits you will be eager to add the spice to your diet.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is known as a powerful antioxidant. This means it targets dangerous free radicals in the body and reduces the damage they are able to cause DNA and cells. When cells are healthy the body is healthy, which means turmeric offers general wellness benefits, as well as targeting specific health problems.
Curcumin also has anti-inflammatory qualities. This makes it effective for fighting heart disease, osteoarthritis pain, and other health problems related to inflammation (researchers believe there are many links between inflammation and chronic illness). Curcumin is believed to reduce certain enzymes in the body known to trigger inflammation.

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Turmeric reduces the risk of blood clots and prevents the build up of plaque in the arteries, which helps in the battle against stroke and other clot-related problems. There are also studies showing turmeric is beneficial for reducing bad cholesterol and improving good cholesterol, both of which play a role in a person’s heart health.
Researchers studying the effects of curcumin in relation to Alzheimer’s cite the health of those living in regions that consume turmeric in high quantities. People in India aged 70 and older have a much lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease than those in the same age group in the United States. Many believe this difference is due to the high intake of Indian curries, which are made with turmeric. Further research points to turmeric’s ability to remove amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain, which is believed to put people at risk for developing the Alzheimer’s.
An article in the July 2009 issue of Time magazine points to a study conducted at the University of Arizona. Researchers found rodents injected with a material known to cause joint pain suffered less when the injections were paired with curcumin. The article also cites anecdotal evidence singing the praises of turmeric for fighting a variety of pain that would otherwise be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.
So as you can see it really is the spice of life.

Just Because It Is Stale

Do not throw out your old scones. Stale scones are great ingredients for cooked desserts and you will find below a quick guide on how to prepare something similar to bread and butter pudding dessert. Do not just follow my recipe but use it as a guide and try to understand what you do and why you do it. There are no exact quantities. To make more sense of the recipe, you need to know what scones are made of. Because they are mostly made of lots of flour and a small amount of butter and sugar (the proportion being 15g of butter and 5g of sugar for 100g of flour). So, you will need to add eggs, butter, more sugar, some flavouring (vanilla or even liqueur if you like it) and some “wetting agent” in the form of milk as the scones are stall and need moisture put back in. You can also add cream as an optional ingredient to give it a more luxury feel to it.

Cut the scones into slices and put into a dish and then cut some butter into thin slices (enough only to randomly place over the scones) and place over the scones

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Add 1 egg, 30g soft brown (or white) sugar, 80-100g double cream, about 100ml-150ml milk and some vanilla essence

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Push down the scones with a fork to soak up the milk mixture

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Cook at 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes

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If you like almonds, add 1 or 2 tbsp of ground almond to the milk mixture. You could also add 1 or 2 tbsp of liqueur such as Rum, Brandy or your favourite tipple. You might also want to add other dried fruit such as chopped dried apricot but I prefer using just raisins myself. If you experiment and end up with something really nice, you will be very proud of your achievement. Above all have fun and be proud of yourself for not wasting those scones you may of otherwise thrown out.

What Is Good For Bug Bites?

It is not just in the hot summer weather than we tend to get bitten by nasty bugs and ticks but an all year round problem and it affects some people more than others. When I get bitten by a bug the bitten area can swell to an alarming size and most of the time can be very itchy and inflamed and the medications help to fight and relieve the problems do not always work, if anything I feel at times I am being exploited by the drug market. We hear of the so called old wives tales of remedies and as quick as we dismiss them, they really do work, take my word for it I have tried and tested some and below your find the best of the best.

Salt
This seems to be the quickest of all home remedies for mosquito bites. Simply moisten the bite area and then rub table salt on the moistened area. Itching should cease immediately.

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Apple Cider Vinegar
To relieve the itching, rub apple cider vinegar directly on the mosquito bites.

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Toothpaste
Toothpaste is another one of the fastest home remedies for mosquito bites. Just dab a bit of toothpaste onto the mosquito bites and the itching should stop very quickly. Peppermint toothpaste is by far the best.

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Calamine Lotion
Apply calamine lotion to relieve the itching caused by mosquito bites.

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Witch Hazel
Make a paste out of witch hazel and baking soda. Apply it and leave it on for about 15 minutes.

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Lemon
The biggest problem derived from scratching one's itch is the threat of infections.
So, for itching that just won't stop, and if you just have to scratch, cut a lemon in half and scratch your itch with the soft pulpy side of it. This will reduce the chances of getting an infection from scratching with your fingernails.
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Vitamin E
Vitamin E has proven to be one of the best home remedies for bug bites from ticks. Just rub vitamin E directly on the tick bite.

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Could White Bread Be Making You Fat?

If you are watching your weight, you may have to watch your white bread consumption, too.
When white bread is a diet staple, you may be more likely to become overweight or obese than if you favour whole grain bread, according to a new study.
Researchers tracked the eating habits and weight of more than 9,200 Spanish university graduates for an average of five years.
Participants who ate both white and whole grain breads were not at increased risk for weight gain. But those who ate only white bread and had two or more portions of white bread a day were 40 percent more likely to become overweight or obese than those who ate less than one portion of white bread a week, according to the study authors.
There was no significant link between eating whole grain bread only and becoming overweight or obese. This may be because of the types of carbohydrates, fibre content and other ingredients in whole grain bread, according to Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, a professor at the University of Navarra in Spain, and colleagues.
"Consumption of white bread of two portions per day or more showed a significant direct association with the risk of becoming overweight or obese," they concluded.
The study was scheduled for presentation Friday at the European Congress on Obesity in Bulgaria. The research does not actually show a cause and effect relationship between white bread consumption and weight gain, just an association. And study results presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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Droopy, Rubbery And Squishy

Do you have Droopy Celery?  Rubbery Carrots?  Squishy Potatoes?  Think you need to throw them out? 
Well stop right there as you can revive them!
I am embarrassed to let you see my celery, but the good news is that I had learned how to rejuvenate soft celery, carrots and potatoes a while back, so I did not have to throw it out.

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I never like to throw food out, so I decided that I needed to figure out how to revive my carrots, celery and potatoes and preferably without needing to take up to much space in my refrigerator.
With a little experimenting, I learned that you can revive limp celery, carrots and even soft potatoes in room temperature water, but for that extra crispy crunch it is best led overnight in the fridge and here is how to do it.
For Celery:  cut a bit off the bottom end before putting in the water.  Place bottom down in the water.
For Carrots:  cut a bit off the top end before putting in the water.  Place top (fat end) down in the water.
For Potatoes:  Peel and cover with water.
Left whole, it will take two to three hours to make these veggies crisp again and if you cut the veggies into strips or pieces and totally cover them with water, it will take as little as thirty minutes.

Soda Does The Job

Removing labels from a glass bottle results in gunk that you need to deal with. But there is one household solution to remove labels without gunk: a water bath of soda crystals.
My grandmother used to swear by soda crystals to do most job, she would say it was great to get grease out of clothes, great to get your whites white, an ideal drain and sink un-blocker and an all round good household cleaning product.
You can buy soda crystals very cheaply from your local supermarket and it is normally found in the laundry isle.
Simply fill the kitchen sink with hot water, dropped about half a cup of soda crystals into the water and let dissolve then submerge the bottle to soak for half an hour, the label will then just slid off easily.

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Hidden Items

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Over the last year, Apple has worked to expand the Apple TV's offerings with content from HBO, The Weather Channel, Smithsonian, and others. While this helps make Apple an alternative to cable, the sheer number of options can quickly clutter your home screen.
Fortunately, it's very easy to hide apps you don't want to see.
There are three simple steps.

Step 1: Go to the Settings screen and select General.

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Step 2: On the General screen, select Restrictions.

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Step 3: You will see a list of all the channels with Show written next to them. Simply click Show to switch it to Hidden. With just three simple steps you never again have to be bothered by apps or channels you don't use.