How-To Geek

From the Tips Box: Automatic Headphone Volume Adjustment, Compact Windows ReadyBoost, and Secure Phone Charging

Tips-How-To-Geek-TemplateOnce a week we dip into the tips box and share some of the great reader tips that come our way. This week we’re looking at protecting your ears with automatic volume adjustment in Android, a compact way to take advantage of Windows ReadyBoost, and secure phone charging on the go.

Automatically Adjust the Media Volume for Headphone Use on Android Devices


Javier writes in with the following tip to save you from blasting your ears whenever you switch to headphones:

I frequently use headphones with my Android phone while commuting on the train and sitting at my desk. It’s super annoying to have the discrepancy in volume between the phone’s speaker and the headphones be so high that it startles you and/or hurts your ears. For awhile I would just turn the media volume all the way down, then plug in the headphones, then adjust it back up… but that’s a waste of time! I found this great app, Hearing Saver, to do the work for me. You install it, run it once, and adjust the volume to your comfort level with the headphones plugged in. You can even set it to mute the ringer and notification sounds, as well as adjust the volume to a certain level when you unplug the headphones. It’s a little thing, I know, but it saves me a few minutes of fiddling a day.

Nice find Javier; we’re big fans of simple applications that solve nagging problems. This one looks like it nails the speaker/headphone differential problem. Thanks for writing in!

Use Your Computers SD Card Slot for Windows ReadyBoost


Tony writes in with the following tip about getting more mileage out of an under-utilized SD card slot:

I never use the SD card slot on my Windows 7-based laptop. I’d been experimenting with Windows ReadyBoost and I found that it actually helped out. The only problem was that I hated having a big USB drive sticking out of the side of my laptop. A few days ago it dawned on me that I never used the built in SD card reader which is really just a skinny USB drive, when you think about it. I grabbed a cheap and decent sized SD card from Amazon and now I’ve got the boost without the bulk!

The SD slot on a laptop practically begs for this. For readers unfamiliar with ReadyBoost but interested in giving their laptops a boost make sure to check out our previous guide to Boosting Your Netbook Speed with an SD Card & ReadyBoost.

Securely Charge Your Phone While Travelling


Bill, a frequently traveler, writes in with his tips for keeping your smartphone charged and secure:

I fly all over the country for my job and put some serious miles on my smartphone. I need to top up the battery frequently but I’m paranoid about losing my phone and/or exposing it to security risks. Here’s my two-part strategy:

I always have a small wall charger that accepts the battery for the phone. This way I can plug in the primary or secondary battery into the wall without having to leave the phone tethered to the outlet. Nobody is going to steal a non-descript battery plugged into an out of the way outlet at the airport… where as they would definitely steal a nice smart phone.

I also keep a power-only USB cord with me. Maybe I’m paranoid but I don’t like plugging my phone into those USB charging stations that are popping up around airports. Sure the port is probably just a power port with no data connection… but I’m sure we’ll here about machines that push malicious software to the smartphones attached to them at some point in the future. By using a power-only cable (the cable only has the wires for power, not for data), I never have to worry about that.

Great tips Bill, we especially like the wall-charger idea. We’re way more comfortable with a single battery left plugged in and not the whole smartphone.

Have a tip to share? Shoot us an email at and you just might 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 08/18/11

Comments (11)

  1. Blarg

    Wow, Bill is ahead of the game. I gotta look into getting those things.

  2. Mark

    Malware installation on smart phones is one concern – here is another. A coworker went to one of the recent hacker conferences. He told that they had a “phone charging station” set up. One of the presentations was about how the people who set it us were able to access data off all the phones that were connected to it.

  3. The Shockwave

    Well anyone that goes to a hacker conference and plugs there phone into a cable at a charging station rather than into their own adapter is just asking for it. The charging stations that I see at airports are basically just power outlets where you have to provide your own adapter and cable. I haven’t seen the USB ones (but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist) and wouldn’t use one if I did.

    If Bill has a phone that uses a mini-USB, they sell USB cords that are for charging only (no data pins, just the power and ground), which would remove the fear of a USB charging station. I have an iPhone, so I don’t have that choice.

  4. The Shockwave

    Aww, crap. I just saw his last sentence.

  5. Zippy

    Wouldn’t TSA get nervous about an unattended “non-descript battery plugged into an out of the way outlet at the airport”?

  6. Wayne

    How about keeping a spare, fully charged battery? That way, you can wait until you get to your hotel room to charge the used up battery without having to plug it in at an airport for the TSA to get nervous about and potentially detain you.

  7. pbug

    I added a 2 gig SD card to a HP laptop running Win 7; the unit was limited to 2gb ram. Adding the readyboost made the system far less prone to hang or crash when too many windows are left open.

  8. RABO

    The TSA actually searched us because we tried to bring a 2-in X 1in piece of fudge on a plane, they would definitely go after a battery plugged into a wall.

  9. nonosh

    Traveling spelled with two l’s — British writings standards!

  10. FloridaDave

    v. trav·eled or trav·elled, trav·el·ing or trav·el·ling, trav·els

    Noun 1. travelling – the act of going from one place to another; “he enjoyed selling but he hated the travel”

    English language standards as well as Old French.


  11. joethestampede

    I love the idea of using ReadyBoost from an SD card. I already use one to keep a portable Chrome because I share the laptop with my girlfriend and we don’t have to worry about interrupting each other’s previous sessions. I’ll just have to get a bigger card and partition it.

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