Android: Using your phone to play music as you drift to sleep is great. Finding out you left the music app running for eight hours is less great. Super Simple Sleep Timer solves this by killing or quieting your apps after a set time.
The app allows you to choose either specific media apps like your music player or Netflix, and set a timer that will force them to close after a set number of minutes. Alternatively, you can select "All" to close everything at once. The timer is fairly spartan, but it does what it does well.
In many parts of the world, temperatures are hitting record lows. Make the most of this winter cold by turning soda into slushies or slurpees.
All you need to do, as the video above demonstrates, is leave a bottle of soda out in the freezing cold for a few hours—to the point where it's really cold but not yet frozen. Slowly twist the cap off, and the soda will slushify itself. (Yes, that's a new word.)
For all those lucky folks who don't have to worry about defrosting themselves right now, just use your freezer.
Chrome: How productive are you, really, when you're online? Unless you track your time, you might not really know. Limitless is a new extension that not only tracks your browsing habits, it also inspires you to complete your goals.
Every time you open a new tab, Limitless greets you with a productivity tip, a pleasant background, and how much time you've spent on different site categories. You can edit sites' categories in case you want to put Lifehacker into entertainment rather than productivity, for example (but you wouldn't do that, would you?). When you first set the extension up, you tell the app your goals for the new year and can also add a daily goal, to be reminded of these when you open a new tab.
Limitless also displays how long you've been on a productive or time-wasting site with a green or red number in the icon.
If you tend to get really distracted, you'll probably need a more powerful site blocker, but for everyone else, this is a helpful tool, much like RescueTime, but for your browser. A Firefox version is in the works.
It's not just lack of self-control that keeps many of us from saving as much as we should. Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan tells CNN Money that it's human nature not to save, but we can get better at it.
He says our "scarcity of attention" keeps us from seeing what's most important and focused on urgent expenses rather than future priorities like retirement or college savings. You can beat that trap with automated savings (advice that surprises probably no one but bears repeating). Also, if you don't have a steady paycheck or during times of "extra" money, you'll need to trick yourself:
The question is what you do at times of abundance — say, if you get a tax refund. You have a magical opportunity to escape scarcity. But studies show that if I give you an abundance shock of $10,000, you don't just spend that $10,000. You end up spending $20,000, because you're thinking, "I have all this extra money."
You forget how you felt under the conditions of scarcity. You need to think, "Instead of using this windfall to buy something nice, I should put it in a savings account."
There's a cool website I've used, FutureMe.org. It lets you write an email to yourself to be delivered later. Say you are struggling to make a credit card payment. You send yourself an email to arrive in December, when you're going to get your Christmas bonus, saying, "Remember last March when making that payment was a pain? I don't want to be back there. As attractive as shopping is right now, let's put some of our bonus toward paying down the credit card."
Mullainathan mentions a Save More Tomorrow program which suggests that committing to save more in the future is more effective than trying to save more now. So doing something like the 52 Week Money Challenge where you're ramping up your savings slowly but surely could be a better approach for some.
The Sony RX100 II is the best point and shoot camera you can buy, and though it's not discounted today, Amazon is tossing in a $50 gift card with your purchase. That amounts to the best deal we've ever seen on this model. If you need something to spend that credit on, PNY's high speed 32GB SD card is at an all-time low $17 today.
Chrome: When you send a link through email it usually means a boring string of text without a lot of information. Clip Better is a Chrome extension that adds Facebook-like link previews to emails so there's actually a bit of context.
Clip Better pulls a page title, description, and thumbnail image from a link, and then formats it into a nice, descriptive little box. You can then drop that into any email client that supports HTML, and the recipient gets a link that actually has context. If you're in the habit of sending links to friends or family, Clip Better makes the process a heck of a lot more visual.