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Seven cool design solutions to everyday problems

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Tom Fordy
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Most of us face everyday problems… erm, every day. But you don’t have to suffer any longer. 

The world is full of things to help you out – stuff you use on a daily basis include little design quirks to make life that little bit easier.

Here’s a list of seven great design solutions you probably never noticed.

Your Mac charger also opens bottles

The Mac charger is one of the most familiar designs of the 21st century – a little white box that clutters up the living room, occasionally trips you up and always falls off the sofa with a wallop because it’s too ruddy heavy for its own good. It does have a neat hidden trick, though. Detach the lead from the transformer and you’ll find the metal pin actually doubles up as a beer-bottle opener. We’re not sure it’s a stroke of genius, or the greatest booze-related accident in the history of tech-design.

The secret ‘57’ trick on ketchup bottles

Ever wondered what the raised numbers on glass Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles are for? It might look like just another nod to the brand’s famous 57 varieties, but it serves a very practical purpose. The 57 is strategically placed – a sweet spot for tapping the bottle to get the ketchup out. Just get the bottle at the right angle, hit the 57, and wait for a stream of the delicious red stuff. Which means no more desperately banging the end of bottle and looking like a wally when it rushes out and floods your burger all at once.

The versatile Post-it note

To the untrained eye it’s just a square of yellow paper with a sticky bit on, but the Post-it note is a craftily designed work of art. Not only is it good for writing rude messages on and sticking to your mate’s back (always hilarious, admit it), the Post-it note is also good for DIY – fold in half and stick to the wall below any drilling to catch dust – and even for cleaning up your keyboard – just pat the sticky end along your keys to pick up any dirt for a shiny-looking work station.

Measuring spaghetti with a spoon

Knowing how much spaghetti to put in the pan is one of life’s great mysteries. Put in too little, and you’ll end up with a paltry-sized helping of spag bol; put in too much, and you’ll be scraping great wedges of unused spaghetti off the pan for hours. Here’s another of life’s mysteries: what the hell is that little hole in the pasta-serving spoon for? Turns out, the hole is the exact size for measuring one serving of spaghetti. Two great mysteries boiled down to one of life’s great answers.

The colander ice bucket

It’s not much to look at, the colander. Just a big dish with a load of holes in – good for draining pasta, but not much else. How wrong we were. In fact, the colander makes an ingenious ice bucket – and the most unexpected must-have piece of party paraphernalia. Just fill with ice and leave it standing in the sink. It’s the only way to keep those rocks strictly rocks, without them swimming around in water and diluting your drink more than necessary when you top up. And when the ice is gone, the colander also makes a superb comedy hat. But you already knew that.

The ‘keys in laces’ method

Whoever invented the humble shoelace could never have imagined its potential many years later – especially for runners. There are lots of ways to criss-cross or tie laces, depending on your feet or running needs. But that’s not much good if you’re running with a bunch keys in your pocket – either digging into your arse, or threatening to fall out and be lost forever. One great thing about how laces are designed, though, is that you can tie your keys straight into them by threading your lace through your keyring. It’ll change your life, with hours of worry-free (not to mention key-up-the-arse-free) running. 

How to bake off on Taco Tuesday

Baking’s so in right now, but be honest, fellas – most of us still approach with trepidation, worried that a) we don’t have a clue what we’re doing, and b) our masculinity might be somehow compromised by banging out little pink fairy cakes by the oven-full. Balance it out by using your cupcake baking tin to cook one of the manliest of all foods – tacos. Just flip the tin and nestle your soft tacos between the bumps, so they make little pockets for filling, then bake. The secret method for cooking’s most allusive treasures – perfect crispy taco shells. If that’s not a legit everyday problem, we don’t know what is. On Tuesday or any other day, quite frankly.

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Tom Fordy

Tom Fordy is a London-based writer. He is former men's magazine editor and is now works as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and opinionated beard for hire. His interests include the great literary works of the 20th century, New Wave European cinema and the career of Hulk Hogan. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TheTomFordy

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