Miscellaneous tips


  • When packing to move, you obviously want to pack your fragile stuff appropriately, and mark your boxes as such. A few other tips:
  • Pack like things with like. Yes, you will inevitably have a few boxes of random stuff, but it pays off if you can minimize this.
  • Mark your boxes extensively. We actually marked 5 sides of every box (leaving the bottom blank) so that we could identify boxes pretty much no matter what. With the more miscellaneous boxes, we also put a pretty complete list of contents on the top.
  • Mark your boxes by priority. Some things need to get unpacked quickly; some don’t. We used some weird tape to mark all our high-priority boxes.
  • Have an “immediate deployment” box. This is the first box you’ll unpack. It should probably include a tape measure, flashlight, paper towels, cleaning fluid, disposable tableware, and basic toiletries.
  • Kinko’s is a great place to get free boxes. Big-box booksellers may also have a recycling dumpster with nothing but clean, flattened boxes. I think Gwen and I bought exactly two boxes for this last move (for framed art), although we did splurge on 20 pounds of clean newsprint. Note that the boxes you get from these sources are relatively small; if you’re hiring movers, that will increase your total box count, and they usually charge by the box. Still, it’s probably cheaper than paying money for bigger boxes.


I used to have the beloved Radio Shack six-in-one. Eventually it died, and I tried replacing it with its successor, the eight-in-one. For whatever reason, the newer model lacks the codes for my receiver. (I learned that I could fix this if I bought a special cable and had a Windows computer with which I could run a special app to re-program the remote. Oy.) After looking around, I broke down and bought a Harmony 659. This is an expensive remote–I got it on markdown from Amazon, but it’s still pretty expensive.

It was worth it. You actually set up how the remote works on a website by stepping through a little interview process; the site creates a setup file that you download and then transfer to the remote via USB. Apart from one minor hitch (the TV didn’t turn on when it should–the remote asked me if it was on, and when I responded No, it tried again, successfully, and asked me if that worked–brilliant), everything Just Worked. Now, with my old six-in-one, I was able to make things More Or Less Work the way I wanted, but only with considerable nerding around. When you add up the time investment involved in that, this remote was a good deal.

If you get one of these, though, don’t bother installing the software off the included CD, because it will quite possibly be out of date, and you’ll need to download a newer version anyhow. Jump straight to the download.

1 thought on “Miscellaneous tips”

  1. Ha! We bought that same remote and love it. Actually, Gary made the mistake of putting it on his Amazon wishlist, so I bought it (ostensibly for him) for Valentine’s Day. No more remote juggling. Special buttons for our Tivo (the treasured commericial-skipping 30-second jump) are programmed right in. Whenever we think of another button we need, Gary runs upstairs and plugs it in. Push one button and it’s movie time, complete with receiver and correct TV inputs. Push another and it’s back to regular TV. Worth every penny so far.

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