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12 tricks to solve common online problems

Become a digital spy with these top tips

Check out these 12 tweaks and tricks that can turn you into an online private investigator. From send emails that self-destruct to seeking revenge on a laptop thief, these top tips will ensure you gain the upper hand online.

Read books on the sly at work

The problem: Whether or not you've got any work to do, most employers frown on cracking a book at your desk.

The trick: Read at Work is a website that offers a full-screen Flash application, which mimics a Windows desktop and serves up public-domain works in a format that resembles PowerPoint presentations. Classics by Twain, Fitzgerald, Dickinson and Tolstoy are all yours to read on company time. (Well, if it's Tolstoy, you might rather just work).

The effectiveness: To the casual onlooker, Read at Work convincingly looks like a standard Windows XP. Whether or not your boss will believe that the Oscar Wilde you're reading is actually a PowerPoint presentation depends on your boss. And it helps if reading PowerPoint presentations is actually part of your job.

Say it with self-destructing email

The problem: Email is forever. If you fire off an angry or ill-thought-out message, the recipient could hold on to it and hold it against you, indefinitely.

The trick: Send a self-destructing email message by going to the website DestructingMessage. Just specify how much time you want to give the recipient before the message implodes (15 seconds to 5 minutes), write your message, and send it.

The effect: DestructingMessage can send the email anonymously, or you can send a link to the message yourself. Either way, the recipient has a limited time to read it before it's gone for good. If the recipient is quick on their feet, though, they could grab a screenshot before it's gone forever.

Go straight to voicemail

The problem: Everybody's been there. You'd rather leave a voicemail than deal with a drawn-out phone conversation. Or you're a coward with bad news to deliver.

The trick: SlyDial connects you directly with your contacts' voicemail, whether they've got their phone turned on or not. Just dial 267-SLYDIAL, enter the number you want to leave a voicemail with, and then, when prompted, just leave your message.

The effect: SlyDial works exactly as advertised. Use SlyDial gratis as much as you want, but if you tire of the in-call advertising, premium plans get you to voicemail faster and ad-free. SlyDial voicemails, however, are only available to US residents and they don't self-destruct - I guess they haven't thought of that yet.

NEXT PAGE: Spoof your email address

  1. Become an online private detective with these top tips
  2. Making a laptop thief regret their actions
  3. Find out if a recipient actually read your email
  4. More top tips
  5. Spoof your email address

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