From the Tips Box: Ethernet Cheat Sheets, Wi-Fi Cantennas, and Easy Holiday Package Tracking

By Jason Fitzpatrick on December 15th, 2011

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Once a week we dump out the Tips Box and share some of the great tips you’ve mailed in. This week we’re looking at Ethernet wiring cheat sheets, Wi-Fi cantennas, and easy holiday package tracking.

Tuck an Ethernet Cheat Sheet in Your Tool Box

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Philip writes in with the following tip:

I’ve finally given up on ever getting a good Wi-Fi signal throughout my old thick-walled home. For the last few weekends I’ve been running cable through the walls and have found my DIY Ethernet color coding cheat sheet to be invaluable. I took the images from this Ethernet tutorial, printed them in color, and then laminated them (back to back). They’re about the size of a 3×5 card and great for quick reference when you’re up late wiring. I’m sure if I did this long enough I’d have everything memorized but when it’s 2AM on a Saturday and I a bit off my game the cheat sheets really help. If anyone has higher resolution or alternate images I’d love to see them!

That’s a clever way to put together a quick and dirty cheat sheet Philip. Thanks for sharing!

Boost Wi-Fi Reception with a Cantenna

2011-12-15_130036Holly writes in with the following Wi-Fi boosting tip:

I’d seen builds for “cantennas” for years but never thought I’d need to geek out and build one myself. I recently installed a computer out in my workshop (a pole barn about 50 feet off the back of my house). I didn’t really want to run network cable all the way out there but the Wi-Fi signal from the house was spotty at best. I followed the simple instructions here and (after I’d bought a couple cheap but special order parts) I was in business. I plugged the cantenna right into the Wi-Fi card in the computer and now I get a great signal out there in the pole barn. The whole project only cost me about $15 and took less than an hour once all the parts had arrived.

Cheap, effective, and built MacGyver style? What’s not to love about about this project?

Track All Your Holiday Packages with PackageTrackr

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Rick writes in with the following holiday tip:

Normally I only get a few packages delivered a month (so keeping track of them isn’t a big deal). Around this time of year, however, the packages come flooding in. My favorite tool for keeping track of them all is PackageTrackr. It’s a web app with a great mobile interface. You can see all your packages and get feedback like… the package has left the shipper, is in transit, is held up, is out for delivery, has been delivered, and so on. Not only that it works with more than just the big names (like UPS and FedEx). If you look at the pulldown menu of shipping providers it can track there are like 40+ entries. I ordered something from Hong Kong earlier this month and PackageTrackr handled it with no problem.

PackageTrackr looks awesome Rick! You left out a pretty sweet detail: once you sign up for an account you can forward your tracking notices to track@packagetrackr.com and it will automatically add your packages to your account. We’ll be back in a bit; it’s time to plug in some Christmas packages.


Have a tip or trick to share? Shoot us an email at tips@howtogeek.com.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/15/11
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