From the Tips Box: Splitting Speakers, Glow in the Dark Ports, and Focusing with Earplugs

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By Jason Fitzpatrick on June 9th, 2011


Every week we round up the tips you’ve submitted to and showcase them here. This week we’re looking at a simple trick to split your speaker output, finding your headphone and charging ports in the dark, and workplace friendly earplugs.

Splitting Your Speaker Output

2011-06-09_145856Earlier this week in our Ask HTG column we answered a reader’s question in regard to how they could simultaneously use their speaker output and headphone jack. While the reader in question may have had specific reason for wanting to use both physical jacks, Alex wrote in to highlight a much simpler work around that isn’t dependent on hardware drivers:

I read your Ask HTG article about outputting simultaneously from the speaker and headphone jacks, and it made me want to describe my setup:

Another way to get simultaneous output is just to use a headphone splitter out of the main output. I use a Belkin six-way splitter coming out of my PC but not so I can output to multiple speaker sets, but instead so that I can input multiple devices to my speakers. The splitter hubs run both ways, so I leave the six female ports sitting on my desk and can then plug in whatever I want into my speakers with ease. My Xoom, phone, visiting friend’s phone, whatever. and because one of the cables goes to the output on my PC, I can also plug in headphones, unplug the feed that goes to my speakers and voila, quiet listening.

Using a simple cable splitter is definitely the easiest way to achieve the end if your setup isn’t dependent for some reason on using two physical ports. Thanks for writing in Alex!

Glow-in-the-Dark Ports for Easy Nighttime Charging


Mark writes in with his solution for plugging in cords in the dark:

I came up with a novel solution for locating ports in the dark. I pilfered some of my daughter’s glow in the dark nail polish and painted the outline of the ports I use frequently at night. For example I painted around the charging port on my cellphone, the power port on my netbook, the headphone jack, etc. When the lights are on you can’t see the nail polish at all (on very close inspection and at a 45 degree angle to a bright light you can see a little bit of gloss) but when the lights are off there is a faint glow around the places I want to plug stuff into. It’s not super bright but it’s bright enough to make it easy to plug stuff in. Every few weeks I usually need to reapply it; you can buy glow in the dark hobby paint for only a few dollars so some time in the future I’m planning on upgrading from the bottle of nail polish to a brighter glow in the dark paint.

Clever! While we often fish an LED mini keychain light out of our pockets in such instances we completely see the utility of having the object itself glowing—especially when all you want to do is just plug in a cord without fumbling around.

Perfect Earplugs for the Workplace

2011-06-09_152533Robin writes in with great tip for people working in noisy environments or who prefer things extra quiet when they’re trying to focus:

I recently bought some ear plugs for concerts. They’re from a company called Etymotic and they’re designed for musicians. Unlike earplugs for things like shooting sports and mowing the lawn they’re not designed to totally block sound they’re designed to lower the sound levels while preserving the quality of the sound.

At any rate I had them in my purse and tried them, on a whim, at work the next day. They worked so well! I could still hear my coworkers if they came up and asked a question but on a whole the entire office was around 20 dB quieter. The best part is that the stems are clear and not neon colored like safety ear plugs so it isn’t immediately apparent that I’m wearing ear plugs (and since I can hear people when they talk to me I don’t have to take them out.) The best part was they were only about $10 and I can use them for practically any situation where I would like things to be a little quieter without being totally muffled.

We’re big fans of the Etymotic brands because, you as note, they’re really cheap for the quality you’re getting. They’re also definitely a great in-between measure if you work in a noisy office and want some quiet without resorting to putting on ear muffs or headphones. Thanks for writing in!

Have a tip to share? Shoot us an email at and you might just see your tip on the front page.

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 06/9/11
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