We have all seen some of our geek friends doing something cool on the computer and wondered, “How the heck did they do that?” Well, being a geek has its advantages. It means usually knowing stuff that the average person does not. It is kind of like a geek’s super power. But why not learn some of these useful computer tricks yourself and up your geek street cred? Let’s geek.
In this post, we will teach you how to do some super cool computer tricks and hacks that will be sure to get you labeled as a bonafide geek. After reading this you will be the one amazing your geek friends and not the other way around.
1. Atari Breakout Trick (Google Tricks)
Nothing says “geek” quite like retro games, especially Atari games. It is hard to believe that Atari’s popular game Breakout is over 35 years old now. But just like Pacman, Breakout is a timeless classic. Adults still enjoy playing it no matter how many modern games are released today and probably will undoubtedly continue enjoying it well into the future.
So how can you scratch your retro gaming itch? Well, if you want to play Breakout on Google, also known as the “Atari Breakout Trick,” simply do a search for “Atari Breakout” and then click “Images” in the Google search bar, the watch the magic happen.
If anyone from Google reads this… get to work on Space Invaders please. Until Google comes through, I guess for now we will just have to settle for playing the game here.
If you do not want to go through all that trouble just click this link and play Atari Breakout on Google right now! Through this link you can also access a bunch of other Google games and Google tricks. Have some Google fun!
Some other cool Google tricks include typing “fun facts” or “I’m feeling curious” into the Google search bar for some fun facts. For Lord of the Rings fans, type in “The Shire” in the Google search bar and then click on the link to Google maps. Or for Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy fans, maybe you want to know “the answer to life the universe and everything.” Or you could just type in “find Chuck Norris” into Google and hit “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Try them out, let us know in the comments which is your favorite Google trick.
2. Control Your Windows Computer with Your Mobile Phone (Monect)
If you thought this was just a fantasy, think again. The Monect app and software allows you to use your smartphone to control your computer in various ways. This is great for geeks who are looking for ways to bridge and integrate their devices. So far though, this only works for Windows operating systems.
- Play PC games directly on your phone
- Turn your device into a keyboard or gamepad
- Play music stored on your computer on your phone
- Use your phone to move PowerPoint slides in a presentation
- Browse through files and folders on your computer
- Copy documents to your phone
- Monect PC Remote (Android app here at the Google Play Store or iOS app here through the App Store)
- Monect PC Remote Receiver Software (Windows version here)
- A WiFi router / hotspot (or Bluetooth connection)
- Install the Monect app on your Android or iOS device and the Monect receiver software on your Windows PC
- Connect your PC and Android/iOS device to the same WiFi / Bluetooth network
- Start the receiver on your PC
- Start the app on Android/iOS device
3. Watch ASCII Star Wars (Windows or Mac)
Did you know you can watch ASCII Star Wars (Star Wars Episode IV) using Mac terminal or the Windows command prompt?
This is an easy computer trick that’s great if you are bored and looking to kill some time. It works on both Windows and Mac, but for newer versions of the Mac OS you will have to a do a little bit of work.
If you have a Mac and already have telnet installed, it is pretty simple to get this going. Just boot up your Mac and open terminal. Select the shell theme you want to watch the movie in (I use Homebrew) and then type “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” and the movie will star playing. Sit back, relax, and enjoy ASCII Star Wars.
How to Install Telnet for Mac:
For some reason newer versions of the Mac OS do not come with telnet installed. The simplest way to install telnet it is to boot up terminal and type the following code:
/usr/bin/ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)”
Press enter and then type:
brew install telnet
After installing telnet you can go ahead and launch ASCII Star Wars through telnet by typing “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” (same as above).
For Windows Users:
Open the Start menu, type cmd, and press enter. Type “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” into the command prompt then enjoy the show.
This is the least productive thing you will do all day but if you are anything like me you will be amazed by this neat computer trick.
Note: Some Windows users may need to enable telnet in “control panel,” “programs,” “turn Windows features on or off,” and then place a check next to “Telnet Client.”
Interested in other telnet tricks? Check out this site for more.
4. View Incognito Browsing History
This computer trick is an easy way to what sites have been visited in incognito mode by using the command prompt. This is possible because Windows has a program that stores domain links visited, even in private mode.
Follow these steps:
- Open a command prompt in Windows (easy way: press Windows-R, cmd, enter)
- Type “ipconfig /displaydns” then hit enter
- To save a text output type “ipconfig /displaydns > dns.txt”
This displays all websites that have been stored in the DNS cache. Please note that this includes everything, which means websites in all web browsers, regardless of whether they have been opened automatically (e.g. by a script on the site or manually by the user).
5. Find Your Forgotten WiFi Password
Ever forget the password of the WiFi you are connected to? You can access the Wifi password using “Network Connections” but you can also do it in the command prompt like a pro.
Follow these steps:
- Open the command prompt in administrative mode
- Type the following: netsh wlan show profiles
This command will list all the saved WiFi profiles on your computer. Copy the network profile name that you need the password for.
- Type the following: netsh wlan show profilename=”network_profile_name” key=clear
- Replace “network_profile_name” with your copied network name
You should now be able to see the password for the WiFi network.
6. Windows Shutdown Timer in Command Prompt
Of course you can use task scheduler to create a shutdown timer, by why would you want to when you can get totally geeky about it. Windows users who want to set a shutdown timer manually can do so easily in command prompt.
Follow these steps:
- Open the command prompt in Windows
- Type the following: shutdown -s -t XXXX
The “XXXX” will be the time in seconds you want to elapse before the computer shuts down. For instance, if you want the computer to shut down in 2 hours, the command should look like shutdown -s -t 7200.
If you want to restart your computer on a delay, use shutdown -r -t XXXX instead.
7. Mac Shutdown Timer in Terminal
Setting up a shutdown timer is pretty simple on a Mac. All you have to do is open terminal and type the following:
- sudo shutdown -h +X
Then just replace the “X” above with whatever number of minutes you want. Your computer will then shut down in “X” minutes.
For some other commands that you might want to use try:
- -r (reboots the system)
- -s (puts the system to sleep)
- sudo kill [pid number here] (pid is created when you set up the timer)
8. Simple YouTube Video Download
A lot of people resort to getting software for downloading YouTube videos but you do not have to go through all the trouble just to download a video on Youtube. All you have to do is insert the letters “ss” after the “www.” and the rest of the link to the YouTube video you want to download.
Let’s say I wanted to download this YouTube video on better ways to Google Search: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erZ3IyBCXdY
If I want to download that same video I’d just type https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=erZ3IyBCXdY to download the video.
Although this brings up an app to download the video just click where it says “download video in browser” and there you have it, the full YouTube video for your offline viewing pleasure.
9. Run Android Apps on Windows / Mac
There’s nothing more geeky then running the one device’s software on another device that it was not designed for (like running Windows on a Mac and vice versa). Enter BlueStacks. BlueStacks is a cool software program for Windows or Mac that will allow you to run Android apps.
10. Turn an Unused Mobile Device into a Security Camera
You may have an old camera phone or tablet that seems like it is no longer useful. Not anymore. Make good use of those old devices by turning them into security cameras that you can access from anywhere. By simply installing a simple app you are on your way to a more secure future.
Lots of apps are available for turning your phones in camera:
- Alfred for Android / Alfred for iOS
- Manything Android / ManyThing iOS
- Presence Android / Presence iOS
We recommend Alfred since it lets you turn any phone (not just a smartphone) into a security camera.
11. Unlock Old School Games in Mac Terminal
Put your Mac terminal to use by playing some of your favorite retro games like Pong, Snake, Tetris, Solitaire and more.
Follow these steps:
- Open Mac terminal
- Type “emacs” and press return
- Hit the “esc” key
- Type “x” without the quotation mark
- Type the name of the game: “tetris” or “landmark” or “pong” or “snake” or “solitaire”
To see a full list of games available to play open Finder and then hit “Command + Shift + G” then type “/usr/share/emacs/22.1/lisp/play”
12. Useful Wikipedia Tricks
Tired of the sifting through jargon on Wikipedia just to get to the nuts and bolts of what you want to know? Simply go to https://simple.wikipedia.org. Any article you search for will be much more simple and much more condensed as compared to the original version. This is great for geeks who just want to get the gist of something without delving in too deep.
Running out of ideas or just bored? You can get a Wikipedia article at random by going here: https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
These are just a few of the many basic tips, tricks and hacks for geeks. If you have a favorite geek hack, tip, or trick that you would like to share, please put it in the comments below.