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Technology to fix common household problems

From saving energy to controlling your home remotely

Technology and gadgets aren't just for work. They can actually help you fix some common households problems, such as your extortionate energy bill. Here are a few household hacks to help Here are a few household hacks to help you organise your life.

Blast music without bugging the neighbours

Want to rock out without annoying the people next door? Here are a few tips that will help you improve the quality of your computer's sound without turning up the volume.

Set up your speakers
For this step you'll need external speakers, either a 5:1 (five speakers and a subwoofer) system or a 7:1 system. Place the front centre speaker directly underneath your computer screen, in front of you. Put the front left and right speakers on either side of your desk, as close to listening level (the level of your ears) as possible.

Finally, position the back left and right speakers in the back left and right corners of the room, at listening level or above. You can put the subwoofer anywhere in the room, except a corner (directly underneath your desk is ideal).

If you buy a 7:1 system, you will have two additional speakers. Place these in the middle of the room, on opposite sides, facing each other and as close to ear level as possible. You won't notice a difference between a 5:1 system and a 7:1 system unless your room is larger than 25x25ft.

Configure your machine
To set up the sound, right-click the volume control in your taskbar and select Sounds (you can also go to Sound in the Control Panel). Click the Playback tab and find your speakers/headphones. Right-click your sound device and click Configure Speakers. If you have a 5.1 or 7.1 system, configure your speakers for 5:1 Surround or 7:1 Surround accordingly.

If you have just two speakers, you're not completely out of luck. Configure your speakers for Dual Stereo or Quadrophonic sound instead of Stereo sound, and you'll get a little more depth.

If you have a solid audio card, you can also get the illusion of surround sound with the card's preset effects - for example, Creative offers a number of 'EAX Effects' that do a good job of creating the impression that you're listening to music in a concert hall.

Splurge on some speakers
Unfortunately, if your computer lacks an optical input or stereo inputs, or a decent audio card, your surround-sound choices may be limited. You have a couple of options, though - you can purchase an adapter so that your 5:1 system will be able to plug into your computer's headphone jack, or you can splurge on surround-sound computer speakers.

Soundproof your space
Tried all the audio tricks in the book and still not satisfied? You have a few ways to 'soundproof' your space without installing extra drywall/Sheetrock. First, cover your windows with long, heavy drapes; you can also cover walls with heavy drapes, to cut down on sound bouncing.

If you have the budget for it, replacing your single-pane windows with double-pane windows will dramatically improve your sound insulation. Also, make sure your space is carpeted (at least 25 percent should be covered) and furnished.

NEXT PAGE: Tweak your PC's sleep mode, cut your energy bill

  1. From saving energy to controlling your home remotely
  2. Blast music without bugging the neighbours
  3. Tweak your PC's sleep mode, cut your energy bill
  4. Organise your cables
  5. Keep your windowsills bird-free


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