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SIAMF tricks - BCS Service Integration and Management Foundation Updated: 2024

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Exam Code: SIAMF BCS Service Integration and Management Foundation tricks January 2024 by team

SIAMF BCS Service Integration and Management Foundation

Format of the Examination

 60 minute ‘closed book

 40 multiple choice questions

 Pass mark is 26/40 (65%)

The examination will be based on the syllabus in this document. Examination questions will
be drawn from all topics in the syllabus, and coverage of any given topic can be expected to
be in proportion to the amount of time allocated to that topic in the syllabus.

Question Weighting

Syllabus Area Target number of questions

1. Introduction 4

2. SIAM Roadmap 8

3. SIAM Roles and Responsibilities 4

4. SIAM Management Practices 6

5. SIAM Processes 7

6. SIAM Challenges and Risks 7

7. SIAM Other Practices 2

Total 40 Questions

BCS EXIN Foundation Certificate in SIAM™ Syllabus


Candidates should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental concepts of
Service Integration and an understanding of bringing together multiple service providers to
strive for a common goal, in order to support the client organisations agreed objectives for
service delivery.

Specific Learning Objectives of the SIAM™ Foundation Certificate

 Introduction to Service Integration and Management (SIAM)

 SIAM implementation roadmap

 SIAM and its relation to other management practices

 SIAM roles and responsibilities

 SIAM practices

 Processes to support SIAM

 SIAM challenges and risks

The following roles could be interested in this module:

 Chief Strategy Officers (CSOs)

 Chief Information Officers (CIOs)

 Chief Technical Officers (CTOs)

 Service Managers

 Service Provider Portfolio Strategists/Leads

 Process Managers

 Project Managers

 Change Managers

 Service Level Managers

 Business Relationship Managers

 Program Managers

 Supplier Managers

 Service Architects

 Process Architects

 Business Change Practitioners and

 Organizational Change Practitioners


For each top-level area of the syllabus a percentage and K level is identified. The
percentage is the exam coverage of that area, and the K level identifies the maximum level
of knowledge that may be examined for that area.

1. Introduction to Service Integration and Management [SIAM] (15%, K2)

1.1 The candidate can outline the SIAM fundamentals

The candidate can:

1.1.1 outline the purpose and value of a SIAM approach

1.1.2 describe (business) drivers for SIAM

1.2 The candidate can describe the SIAM methodology and the various structures
suggested for the service integrator layer.

The candidate can:

1.2.1 explain the SIAM layers

1.2.2 describe the SIAM structures, advantages and disadvantages for a
hybrid service integrator, an internally and an externally sourced service
integrator and a lead supplier integrator

2. Service Integration and Management Implementation Roadmap (20%, K2)

2.1 The candidate can list the SIAM implementation key stages and explain the
main objectives and activities of these stages.

The candidate can:

2.1.1 distinguish between the different SIAM implementation key stages

2.1.2 outline the main objectives, triggers, inputs, activities and outputs in the
discovery and strategy stage

2.1.3 outline the main objectives, triggers, inputs, activities and outputs in the
plan and build stage

2.1.4 outline the main objectives, triggers, inputs, activities and outputs in the
implement stage

2.1.5 outline the main objectives, triggers, inputs, activities and outputs in the
run and improve stage

3. Service Integration and Management roles and responsibilities (10%, K2)

3.1 The candidate knows the different SIAM roles and their responsibilities (6%)

The candidate can:

3.1.1 explain SIAM roles and responsibilities.

3.1.2 explain the SIAM structural elements.

4. Service Integration and Management practices (15%, K2)

4.1 The candidate can explain different practices of SIAM

The candidate can:

4.1.1 describe the people practices of managing cross functional teams.

4.1.2 describe the process practices of integrating processes across service

4.1.3 describe the measurement practices of enabling and reporting on End
to End Services

4.1.4 describe the technology practices of creating a tooling strategy

5. Processes to support Service Integration and Management (17,5%, K2)

5.1 The candidate understands processes in a SIAM ecosystem
The candidate can:

5.1.1 outline the function of processes in a SIAM ecosystem

5.2 The candidate understands the objectives and SIAM considerations of the main
processes that support Service Integration and Management

5.2.1 indicate what the process purpose is

5.2.2 outline the SIAM considerations

6. Service Integration and Management challenges and risks (17,5%, K2)

6.1 The candidate understands the main challenges within a SIAM ecosystem,
their associated risks and potential mitigation

The candidate can:

6.1.1 describe the importance of building the business case, the associated
risks and mitigations.

6.1.2 describe the importance of culture, collaboration and cooperation, the
associated risks and mitigations.

6.1.3 describe the importance of level of control and ownership, the
associated challenges and mitigations

6.1.4 outline the importance of security, the associated risks and mitigations

6.1.5 describe the challenges associated with measuring success and its

6.1.6. describe the importance of trust/eliminating micro-management and
level of control, the associated risks and mitigations

6.1.7 define the commercial challenges, the challenges with legacy contracts
and their mitigations

7. Service Integration and Management and other practices (5%, K2)

7.1 The candidate can outline the importance of other practices to SIAM

The candidate can:

7.1.1 describe the contribution of the following frameworks and standards to a SIAM ecosystem: IT service management including ITIL® and ISO/IEC 20000, Agile, including Agile Service Management, DevOps, COBIT® and Lean.

BCS Service Integration and Management Foundation
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BCS Service Integration and Management Foundation
Question: 34
How can ISO/IEC 20000 best be used during the execution of a SIAM roadmap?
A. as the SIAM model
B. as the standard for prospective service providers
C. as means creating a collaborative culture for SIAM ecosystems
Answer: C
Question: 35
What is a mitigation for the risk of ineffective data segregation?
A. designing and implementing end-to-end security management
B. documenting the expected benefits
C. implementing clear policies for data, tooling and processes
D. regularly reviewing reports to confirm they are still fit for purpose
Answer: A
Question: 36
In which SIAM roadmap stage are roles and responsibilities allocated?
A. Discovery and Strategy
B. Implement
C. Plan and Build
D. Run and Improve
Answer: B
Question: 37
What is the focus of the customer organization layer?
A. delivery
B. integration
C. operation
D. strategy
Answer: D
Question: 38
The service desk for a particular SIAM ecosystem is provided by an internal service
provider. Who is responsible for managing the performance of the service desk against
their service targets?
A. customer organization
B. internal service provider
C. retained capabilities
D. service integrator
Answer: D
Question: 39
What is an objective of the Discovery and Strategy stage of the SIAM roadmap?
A. appoint the service integrator and provider
B. establish a governance framework
C. manage day to day service delivery
D. manage processes, teams, and tools
Answer: B
Question: 40
Which process manages escalations regarding the performance of a service provider?
A. business relationship management
B. incident management
C. service level management
D. supplier management
Answer: D
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Exin Integration tricks - BingNews Search results Exin Integration tricks - BingNews 15 little-known Google Assistant tricks for Android
Google Assistant Android memory

Android Intelligence

Google Assistant's forgotten memory magic

Your Android device has a powerful system for helping you recall almost anything imaginable, but — oh, yes — it's up to you to remember to use it.

Tue, 12 Dec 2023 21:01:00 -0600 en text/html
22 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Try

Google Maps has changed how we navigate the world. Its desktop and mobile apps have become more than just a way to get from point A to B via car, public transportation, or on foot: The ubiquitous Google service is also a geospatial search engine for the world around us.

Google continues to revamp and improve its map product, but there are a ton of customizable tools and hidden functions already baked into Google Maps that you may not know about, such as Incognito Mode. Check out our tips for how to maximize your Google Maps power.

1. We're Doing It Live

screenshots of Search with Live View in Paris

Search with Live View (Credit: Google)

You can get an AR view of the street you're on, if that street is in Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, or Venice. Open Maps, click the camera icon at the top, and hold your phone up to scan your location. You'll get an overlay of all the places you'd see on Maps, so you can easily find restaurants, shops, and more.

Meanwhile, Immersive View for routes, which rolled out in October, gives you a bird's-eye view of your route complete with 3D imagery along the way, whether you're walking, cycling, or driving. Look for it in select cities, including Amsterdam, London, New York, and Tokyo.

2. Inside Access

Google Maps zoomed in to Directory tab on JFK

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Google Maps isn't just for the great outdoors. You can navigate through malls, airports, and other big buildings by finding the location in Maps, clicking on it, then scrolling to Directory. You'll never get lost looking for a Cinnabon again. This feature is available in over 10,000 locations worldwide.

three screens showing how to use Live view

Navigating with indoor Live View (Credit: Google)

Some places even support Live View inside, where animated arrows will guide you around airports, train stations, and malls. It launched in 2021 in the US, Zurich, and Tokyo, and in early 2023, it announced plans to expand to more than 1,000 new locations in Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Paris, Prague, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, and Taipei. Just lift your phone up in a supported region to jump into Live View.

3. Plot Multiple Locations on Google Maps

file path for plotting Multiple Locations on Google Maps

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Rarely do car trips consist of going from point A to B; more often, they are something like A-to-café-to-library-to-Joe's-house-to-B. Thankfully, Google makes it possible to anticipate real trips. To add multiple destinations in the Google Maps mobile app, enter your starting point and your ultimate destination, and then click the three-dot menu in the top-right corner. This prompts a pop-over menu with the option to "Add stop." Click that, and you can create a route with multiple stops. You can even drag and drop stops within your itinerary. (Note that this doesn't work when you're using the mass-transit option.)

4. Customize Your Vehicle Icon

screenshots of changing the car icon that shows up in the google maps app

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

When you're driving, Google lets you choose what kind of car shows up on your navigation in the iOS and Android apps. In the app, plug in your destination and start up driving directions. Tap the icon that shows your current location, and a pop-up menu appears with several car-icon options: a sedan, a pickup truck, or an SUV.

5. 'Hey Google, Where Am I Going?'

google assistant prompts in the google maps app

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

You might want to interact with Maps while you're driving, but you don't want to take your eyes off the road. With "OK Google" voice commands in the Google Maps Android app, you don't have to. For example, if you notice you're running low on gas, say "OK Google, find gas stations," and it will show gas stations on the map (which you can look at when you've come to a red light or pulled over). You can also ask questions like "What's my next turn?", "What's my ETA?", and "How's traffic ahead?" On Android, set up Google Assistant, and you're good to go. (You'll need a phone running Android Version 9.0 or higher with 4GB RAM or more.) On iOS (pictured above), tap the microphone icon at the top-right, then ask your questions via voice.

6. Access Google Maps Offline

screenshot of the download option in the Google Maps mobile app

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Today, Maps is most useful on mobile, which brings up a problem: When you're in need of Maps, you may find yourself somewhere with limited (or—gasp—nonexistent) coverage. To help, Google Maps supports offline access. Type in an address or area, swipe up on the menu at the bottom of the screen, tap the ellipsis icon on the top right, and select Download offline map. If you have enough storage on your device, the map in question will be saved. To access it later, tap your avatar > Offline maps, and you can then get information about businesses in the region and turn-by-turn directions within the downloaded section.

7. Get Your Groceries

Get Your Groceries

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Google has incorporated grocery ordering and pickup functionality into Maps for select brands. Things kicked off a few years ago amid the boom in curbside pickup during the pandemic. That's still an option; in early 2023, Google touted the improvements it's made to the ETA function inside Google Maps for Kroger pickups. But grocery stores can also add a Place an order option to their Maps business profiles. In addition to Kroger stores (which also includes Fry's, Ralphs, and Marianos), it's also available for Albertson's and Fred Meyer locations.

8. Let Other People Drive

screenshot of Lyft options within the Google Maps app and then in the Lyft app

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Ride-sharing services are a big part of the modern transportation mix, so Google added ride options from companies such as Lyft (sorry, no more Uber) to its mobile app. Once you enter your destination, tap the little figure attempting to hail a taxi or the mass-transit option. You'll then be presented with nearby rideshare options, along with the estimated time of arrival and fare. Tap Open App to book your ride.

9. Find Accessible Transit Routes and Locations

screenshot of accessibility file paths in google maps

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Those with mobility issues can search for wheelchair-accessible transit routes by tapping Options > Wheelchair Accessible when looking for train or bus directions. When you get to your destination, meanwhile, the Accessible Places setting offers up wheelchair-accessibility information about that location.

Turn it on via Settings > Accessibility > Accessible Places. "When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance, and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms, or parking," Google says. "If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well."

10. Change The Font Size

Change The Font Size screenshots

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

If the words on Google Maps are too small to read, make them bigger.

On an iPhone, make sure you have iOS 15 or higher via Settings > General > About. Then go to Settings > Control Center. Under More Controls, you'll see Text Size. Tap the green plus icon on the left, which moves it to the top under Included Controls. Now, open Google Maps and swipe down from the upper right where you see the battery icon. Tap on the Text Size button (an icon of a small A next to a large A). On the bottom, select whether you want to increase the font size on just Google Maps or across all apps. You can then increase the font size with the white bars. Close out of Control Center and your font adjustments should update automatically.

On an Android, you can change the size of the font or display but this is going to be a universal change across all of the device's apps. Open Settings, then select Accessibility. You can make words larger by tapping Font Size and then setting your preferred letter size or change the display size by tapping Display Size and then setting your preferred icon size.

11. Remember Where You Parked

dropping an 'i parked here' pin in google maps

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Remember when the Seinfeld gang spent the whole half hour wandering around a parking garage looking for their parked car? That episode (along with many others) would not work in 2024, thanks to Google Maps.

At your destination, tap the blue location dot, and select Save parking, which adds a label to the Maps app identifying where you parked. On Android, tap that to add details such as the parking garage level and spot or the amount of time left before a meter expires. You can also set meter reminders, add a photo of where you parked, and send your parking location to friends.

To find it later, tap the search bar at the top, and select Parking location (Android) or Saved parking (iOS). Or tap the Driving arrow below, and look for Saved parking on iOS. Google will automatically delete the parking reminder after 8 hours, though you can manually get rid of it by tapping You parked here on the map and selecting Clear (iOS) or More info > Clear (Android).

12. What's the Parking Sitch?

google maps labels about whether parking is busy or not

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Google Maps can provide turn-by-turn directions based on live-ish traffic data, but it can also provide you with a glimpse of the parking situation. When you search for driving directions to a location on iOS or Android, you might see a P logo at the bottom of the screen along with one of three designations: limited, medium, and easy (plus On-site for retailers with large parking lots). This can help you decide how much time you'll need to allocate for parking or even whether another form of transportation would be a better option.

13. Share Your Location

Share Your Location on ios

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Google Maps lets you share your current location with people for specified periods of time. When you share your location with a certain contact, they'll see your icon moving in real time on their map. On mobile, tap your profile icon on the top right, and select Location sharing. Then choose with whom you want to share and for how long. (You may need to first allow notifications from Google Maps in your phone's settings menu.)

14. View (and Delete) Your Google Maps History

screenshot of the settings in the ios mobile app for deleting google maps history

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Google maintains a very detailed record of your digital activities. If you'd rather it lose your Maps data, you can erase it on desktop or mobile. On a desktop, go to Click the hamburger menu, and select Your data in Maps. You'll end up on a page titled Google-wide Controls, where you can go to Location History > See & delete activity. You'll see a map with a timeline of your activity. On the bottom-right of the map, click the trashcan icon to delete all your location history permanently.

As of December 2023, the first time you turn on location history, Google will default you to auto-delete your history every three months. To adjust that, navigate to Click Location History > Choose an auto-delete option, and choose how often Google will delete your data (every 3, 18, or 36 months) or turn auto-delete off completely.

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On mobile, go to Settings > Maps History, which will bring you to a Maps Activity page. Look for the Delete drop-down menu, where you can opt to delete your history from today, all time, or a custom range. Tap Auto-delete to select a timeframe for when Google will automatically delete Maps data

15. Go Incognito

incognito mode inside the google maps ios app

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

For a quick way to poke around Google Maps without leaving any obvious footprints, go Incognito. Google Maps won't save your browser or search history in your account or send notifications. Your searches and movements won't be added to location history or shared location. And Google won't use your activity while you're in Incognito Mode to personalize Maps. This mode has advantages when you want to peep a location without having it tangled up with your search history, but just as on web browsers, it doesn't make you invisible. To turn the mode on, tap your avatar and select Turn on Incognito mode; the Incognito icon appears in the search bar. Tap it and select Turn off Incognito mode to switch it off.

16. Time Travel With Google Maps

screenshot of the time travel feature in google maps on ios

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Street View has amassed a huge collection of street imagery over the years. In 2014, Google introduced Time Travel, a way for users to see how Street View has changed over time. And in 2022, it expanded from the desktop to mobile. To look back at a particular address, enter Street View and tap anywhere on the screen. At the bottom, tap See more dates. Where available, this should produce a series of photos. Scroll through and select the date you want to see.

17. Add Some Music

screenshot of music settings in google maps

If you've always got Google Maps navigation open while you're driving (or walking), you can add music to your trip without leaving the app. Sync music apps such as Spotify or Apple Music by opening the menu and navigating to Settings. On iOS, tap Navigation > Music playback controls to connect Apple Music or Spotify. On Android, tap Navigation settings > Assistant default media provider, where you can link a number of music-streaming services, including YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Deezer. Once you do, a pop-up to your app of choice should appear as you're driving for a quick tap to get your music started. Be sure to create your playlists beforehand so you can keep your eyes on the road!

18. Find Electric-Vehicle Charging Stations

screenshot showing how to search for EV charging stations on Google Maps

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

More and more electric vehicles (EVs) are taking to the road, and Google Maps is adapting. You can search "EV charging" or "EV charging station" in Google Maps, and it suggests the best station for you based on traffic conditions, your charge level, and the expected energy consumption. You can filter by types of plugs, and if you're in a rush, you can select Fast Charge to find the charging stations with the most voltage. If you use Android Auto in an EV, meanwhile, it will no longer show gas stations.

19. Request Fuel-Efficient Routes

fuel efficiency settings in google maps

(Credit: Google/PCMag)

Want to make sure that next road trip is fuel-efficient? Turn on this setting in Google Maps and the app will prioritize fuel- or energy-efficiency over other factors like real-time traffic and road conditions. "So besides showing you the fastest route, it will also show you the most efficient one, even if they aren't the same," Google says.

Go to Settings > Navigation / Navigation settings and toggle Prefer fuel-efficient routes to on. Here, you can also tell Google Maps your engine type: gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid. Google will then serve up routes based on that engine type to help you save fuel.

20. Find Safe Drug-Disposal Locations

Find Safe Drug Disposal Locations

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Google Maps is doing its part to fight the opioid crisis with a search tool to help users find safe drug-disposal locations. Type "drug disposal" into the search bar to pull up pharmacies, medical centers, and local authority locations where you can safely dispose of excess pills.

21. Share Your Favorite Places

screenshots of creating a list and sharing that list within the google maps ios app

(Credit: PCMag/Google)

Google Maps lets you share some of your favorite places with a friend. Just tap the share icon on the location's Google Maps card to send it to them via text, email, or your app of choice. Save favorite places by tapping the Save icon; they then show up in the Saved option in the menu bar.

If you want to share more than one favorite location, you can create a Pinterest-like list within Google Maps. When you save a favorite place, tap New List to create a collection (like "Thai restaurants in Brooklyn") or add it to an existing collection. You'll find them in the Saved tab under Your lists; tap the three-dot menu and then Share List to send a link to friends.

22. Become (or Consult) a Local Guide

Think you know your neighborhood better than Google's algorithm? Then consider becoming a Local Guide. Although anyone can leave reviews and tips in Google Maps, being a Local Guides allows you to earn points for leaving more insights and data, which—as you go up the ladder—can result in "rewards and early access to new features," Google says.

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Sat, 30 Dec 2023 10:01:00 -0600 en text/html
26 Hidden Roku Tips and Tricks for Streaming Success

You probably want a streaming device for your TV, whether you're a cord cutter or not. Roku is a popular choice, particularly as it ramps up its own original content.

Roku devices offer plenty of variety and portability, from the budget Roku Express to the feature-packed Roku Ultra. Whichever one you have, there's more to know beyond the basics. Here's how to get more out of your streaming device.

Our Top-Rated Roku Devices

1. One List to Rule Them All

TV with detail page for House of the Dragon showing Add to Save List feature

(Credit: Roku)

You have watchlists for all of your streaming apps, which means you have to scroll and scroll when you want to find something to watch. Instead, you can save everything to one universal list with a Roku. Use the Roku OS to search for the shows and movies you want to watch, and on the details page of each, select Add to Save List. Find the list by going to the Roku home screen and selecting What to Watch.

2. Pick Up Where You Left Off

Have you ever wanted to resume watching a movie or show where you left off, but you've forgotten which streaming service it was on? Just go to the Roku Home Screen, click What to Watch, scroll to Continue Watching, and it'll be listed there.

3. Watch Free Movies and Shows on The Roku Channel

Video-streaming services are great, but the majority aren't free. With The Roku Channel, you can sign in and access those premium channels (including Max and Netflix)—but the channel also offers free access to thousands of movies and TV episodes, if you can handle a few commercials. Roku has been adding more original content as well. Go to The Roku Channel, and scroll down to the Live TV Channel Guide for hundreds of choices. You can also watch in the Roku app, whether you have a Roku device or not: Just download it, sign in or create an account, and start streaming.

4. Search Thousands of Channels at Once

Roku search screen

(Credit: Roku)

Instead of searching every Roku channel individually to find what you want, search across them with Roku Search. Enter your search term via the Roku remote, Roku mobile app, or via voice search, and you'll see results from over 4,000 channels. Search by title, actor, or director, and you'll get a comprehensive list. Similarly, use Roku Search to compare the costs of streaming content: Type in a movie, show, or star for a list of available titles and the prices for each across channels and services.

5. Get in the Zone

roku zone screenshot

(Credit: Roku)

Roku Zones are collections of movies and shows from across channels that are organized by genre or topic. Go to search, type in a search term such as "comedy," and scroll through the zone that pops up. Roku added a Live TV Zone for quick access to live TV streaming services like Hulu, fuboTV, Philo, Sling, and YouTube TV, to name a few. 

6. Photos as Big as Life

TV displaying photo of people hanging out at night under a string of lights

(Credit: Roku)

If you want to get a closer look at your photos or share them with a group, you can add Google Photos to your Roku. Go to, sign in (you may have to verify your email), and you'll see a link to connect to Google Photos.

7. Turn Your Phone Into a Roku Remote

Roku app on remote function

As great a device as the Roku is, navigating via the remote could be a better experience. To get around that, download the Roku Official Remote Control app (iOSAndroid), and get the benefit of a keyboard, easy searching, and streaming from your phone or tablet.

8. Talk to Your Roku Remote

That said, you could always talk to your Roku directly with a Roku Voice Remote Pro, Voice Remote, or the Roku mobile app. On the remotes, press either the microphone icon and hold down as you speak your request. On the app, select the magnifying glass to get to the search page, then tap the microphone, let it go, speak your request, and tap the middle of the screen.

9. Ask Alexa or the Google Assistant

adding roku to alexa screenshots

Connecting Roku to Amazon's Alexa (Credit: PCMag/Amazon)

If you have an Amazon Echo and a Roku, ask Alexa to control your Roku. First, you'll have to link both accounts by opening the Alexa mobile app, selecting Skills & Games, and searching for Roku. When you find it, tap Enable to Use, sign in to your Roku account, and select the Roku device you want to link (or Select All if you have more than one).

Close your Roku account, and Alexa will search for the device on the Device Discovery screen. Once it's found, tap Manage, Link Devices, and select the Roku you want to connect to Alexa. Then add the Roku to a group by selecting the Devices icon. Either add it to an existing group or create a new one by tapping the plus button. In the Alexa app, tap on the Roku device, and make sure it is enabled. Then you'll be able to use commands such as, "Alexa, open Netflix on living room Roku."

You can also use Google Assistant to make voice requests. First, check that your Roku player is running Roku OS 9.0 or higher or that your Roku TV has Roku OS 8.2 or higher. Set up your Google Assistant on your Google device or app. Open the Google Assistant mobile app, tap Explore > Settings > Home Control > Add Device > Find > Roku. Sign in to your Roku account and then choose which device you want to control with Google Assistant.

10. Find That Lost Remote

speaker grille on the back of the roku remote pro

Speaker grille on the Roku Remote Pro (Credit: Will Greenwald/PCMag)

The Roku remote is easily lost in couch cushions and under coffee tables. If you've spent far too much time hunting for it, we have some solutions.

  • If you have a remote with a speaker grille, open the Roku app, tap the microphone, and say, "Hey, Roku, find my remote." The remote will emit a beeping noise.

  • If you have a Roku Ultra, long-press the button on the right side of the device, and the remote will emit a beep.

  • If the remote you've lost is the Voice Remote Pro, say, "Hey, Roku, find my remote," and it will start beeping.

  • To stop the beeping noise once you've located your remote, press any button on the remote.

To change the noise your Roku remote emits when it's lost, open the Roku app on your TV and go to Settings > Remote > Change Remote Finder Sound. To hear what it sounds like, click Preview Remote Finder Sound.

11. Make Your Roku at Home(Kit)

For iPhone and iPad owners, Roku devices support AirPlay and HomeKit, so you can send videos, photos, and music from your device to the TV and supported speakers. Set it up in the Roku menu by navigating to Settings > Apple AirPlay & HomeKit > Launch Apple AirPlay & HomeKit setup. A QR code will pop up. Scan it with your iPhone or iPad's camera and follow the instructions on your Apple device to finish setup. HomeKit, meanwhile, lets you control your Roku using Siri and the Apple Home app ("Hey Siri, play jazz on the living room TV").

12. Let Siri and Roku Chat

Three screens with Siri Shortcuts process described below

Your Roku and iPhone can work together, with Siri acting as the interpreter. The Roku iOS app has Siri Shortcuts that let you control your Roku with your voice. Open the app on your phone, tap the account icon at the top right, and select Siri Shortcuts. You can turn on the ability to open the Roku remote, play or pause Roku, search Roku, and turn a Roku on and off for certain models. Click on each option to keep the suggested phrasing or come up with your own commands.

13. Roku Screen Mirroring

With AirPlay enabled, you can mirror your iPhone or iPad screen via the Control Center to Roku, though most Roku devices support screen mirroring from Android and Windows devices too. To hook it up, press the Home button on your Roku remote, then go to Settings > System > Screen Mirroring. You’ll have the option to choose between Prompt or Always Allow.

14. Practice Casting

If you prefer Google's Cast technology, you can send music, videos, and photos from mobile devices to most Roku-connected devices easily as long as both are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Open the content you want to share on the device, and look for the cast icon. Click it, and you should see all available Roku devices pop up in a menu.

15. Automatic Volume Leveling

How many times have you been lulled into somnolence by a show only to be jolted awake by a commercial? On most Roku models, you can turn on Leveling, so a commercial or a channel change doesn't result in a spike in volume. You can also choose to have soft sounds increased and loud sounds decreased with Night mode.

Turn on the feature either from Settings, if you have a Streambar or Smart Soundbar, or while streaming with other Roku devices. For Streambars and Soundbars, press the Home button on the remote and go to Settings > Audio > Volume Modes. For other devices, press the star button on the remote and navigate to Sound Settings > Volume Mode.

16. Use Roku Private Listening

Roku Voice Remote Pro with wired earbuds plugged in

Roku Voice Remote Pro (Credit: Roku)

When you want to watch something on your Roku without disturbing those around you, use Private Listening. The Roku Voice Remote Pro, Enhanced Voice Remote, and Gaming Remote include built-in headphone jacks; just plug in and keep watching. Or download the Roku mobile app, connect your headphones to your device, and tap the headphones icon.

17. Save That Screen

roku screensaver options

(Credit: Roku)

Maybe you paused whatever you're watching and walked out of the room. Or you fell asleep, and now the Roku logo is bouncing around your screen like the flying toasters of yore. Give yourself something nicer to look at with Roku's screensavers. Click the Home button on your remote, then go to Settings > Theme > Screensavers.

Recommended by Our Editors

18. Get Your Game On

Roku games

(Credit: Roku)

It's not a Nintendo Switch, but your Roku is still in the game. Hit the Home button, go to Streaming Channels > Games, and you can go retro with Snake or go on a sugar-fueled rampage in Candy Bear. The Roku Enhanced Gaming Remote with Voice Search supports motion-control gaming.

19. Move the Apps on Your Roku Home Screen

Roku displays channels in the order in which you add them, but you can move them around. Find the app you want to move, press the star button on your Roku remote, and select "Move channel" from the pop-up menu. Use the directional pad to move it to the desired location.

20. Say What?

Roku remote with replay button circled

(Credit: Roku)

If you missed those last few lines in a show or movie, there's a quick way to catch up. Set up instant replay by going to Settings > Accessibility > Captions Mode and selecting On Replay. Then, when you hit the Instant Replay button on the remote, you'll also get the text on the screen.

21. Stream Your Own Stuff Via Plex

family sitting on a couch navigating the plex interface on a TV

(Credit: Plex)

Though Roku offers a ton of different channels and things to watch, you'll probably still want to access your locally stored content on your TV. Sign up for Plex Pass ($4.99 per month, $39.99 per year, $119.99 for a lifetime), and you can. Plex organizes your scattered content and lets you watch it from tablets, TVs, phones, and more; you can record and watch live broadcast TV, too.

Download the Plex app. Then install the Plex channel on your Roku, launch it, then go to Log in and enter the code from the Roku Plex channel on the website.

22. Tap Into Live TV Streaming Services

Cable Alternative or Streaming Channels > Watch With Cable

(Credit: Roku)

New live TV services are popping up regularly to meet your sports and Hallmark movie needs. To see what's on offer, click the Home button on your remote, and go to Streaming Channels > Cable Alternative to log into services including Sling and Hulu, or go to Streaming Channels > Watch With Cable to log in with a pay TV provider, such as Comcast or Spectrum. You can also go to the Roku Channel, scroll down to the Live TV Channel Guide, and flip through hundreds of channels without paying for any of them. That includes NewsOn, which streams local news broadcasts from outlets nationwide.

23. Show Your Team Spirit

screen for a Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes game

(Credit: Roku)

You can follow your favorite sports teams on Roku by going to the Home screen on your device, scrolling down to Sports, doing a search for an upcoming game, going to that page, and then selecting the heart icon next to your team's name. That will create a My Favorites row under Sports with all upcoming games.

24. Cloud DVRs

A number of live TV streaming services offer cloud DVR, meaning you can record live TV and access your shows later via the service's Roku app.

  • If you have an antenna to watch live TV, you can record it with a device like the Tablo TV. Set it up, download the app to your Roku, and you can watch, pause, and record.

  • YouTube TV subscriptions come with a cloud DVR that holds an unlimited number of hours of programming for nine months.

  • Sling TV customers get 50 hours of free DVR storage. Upgrade to DVR Plus for 200 hours of storage starting at $5 per month.

  • DirecTV Stream comes with a cloud DVR that holds 20 hours of content for nine months.

  • Included with Hulu with Live TV is the ability to record unlimited live news, sports, shows, movies and events, which are saved for up to nine months.

  • Philo subscribers can save anything that streams to the service's included DVR for a year.

  • fuboTV provides subscribers with a DVR function that can be set even partway through a show's airing to capture the entire thing. How much is stored depends on your plan.

25. Be Our Guest

roku guest mode

(Credit: Roku)

Your guests can make themselves at home by accessing their Roku settings without disturbing yours. All you have to do is enable Guest Mode (previously Auto Sign Out Mode). Go to, set up a PIN, and then press the Home button on the Roku remote. Go to Settings > System > Guest Mode > Enter Guest Mode. Then enter your PIN and select OK. When guests come to stay, direct them to the Roku guide on using Guest Mode

26. Stay Up to Date

To get the most out of your Roku, you should install the latest software version. The device generally handles this on its own, but if you've recently added a channel, or your Roku has been disconnected for a while, you might have missed an update. In that case, you can update manually by going to Settings > System > System Update.

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Wed, 27 Dec 2023 10:00:00 -0600 en text/html
SteamWorld Build: Beginner Tips & Tricks No result found, try new keyword!Establishing a steam-powered city from the ground is complicated, but these beginner tips equip SteamWorld Build players with the necessary knowledge. Create a city with manageable RCI demand. In ... Sun, 10 Dec 2023 10:00:00 -0600 Three magic tricks for the ultimate faux-casual flourish

Along with Scalextric parts left strewn on the carpet and a chemistry set that involves leaving something to go off behind the radiator, a magic set gathering dust is a Christmas present rite of passage.

Harry Potter was a mere twinkle in JK Rowling’s eye when I opened my own (or possibly my brother’s) and dabbled with the cup-and-ball trick a few times, tapped the wand, then moved on to something a bit more instantly gratifying.

It’s a gift suited to the kind of child who understands that the word magic is a bit misleading. Far from instantaneous to master, it takes study and application.

My husband was one of those children. He actually read the magic-set manual and practised the tricks. It’s always been a source of great amusement to me that he used to force his parents to watch him give magic shows, assisted by his two younger, biddable siblings. But then, he thinks it’s tragically uncool that I can tap dance.

That youthful magician may have grown up and forgotten his secrets, but he still has one excellent card trick that can wow a room: managing to find your seemingly randomly chosen card no matter how many shuffles of the pack one does. I have to concede it’s a great skill to have. Just one, very good, gasp-inducing trick.

Which is why I’m wheedling a few secrets out of magician Tony Middleton – hopefully I’ll come away with something to show my husband, formerly known as the nine-year-old magician Magibanco.

Middleton (stage name Sonic) is the resident magician at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane, where he hosts a weekly show called The Magic Hour. When we meet in the glitzy lobby, he’s in full tails and white bow. Dynamo (real name Steven Frayne) and David Blaine may have rewritten the rules of magicking so that you can look like an ordinary bloke in a hoodie, but if you see a man in a waistcoat at 10am, chances are he’s a magician.

Tony Middleton (stage name Sonic) is in full tails and white bow - Clara Molden

My excitement is quickly subdued, though, when Middleton informs me that he’s heard from the Magic Circle and they have vetoed his teaching me a trick and revealing it to you all. I wonder how many bunches of flowers pulled from top hats I’d have to give him to change his mind, but the fear of the Magic Circle is very real.

“Penn and Teller weren’t taken into the Magic Circle because they’ve shared secrets – but they don’t even care because they’re massive,” he sighs. “For them it’s probably useful publicity.”

Less so for Middleton.

The only trick they will agree to his showing me “is a bit corny”. The wobbly pencil.

Middleton taps a pencil on the table to show it’s solid, then holding it between his thumb and forefinger he gives it a waggle, and lo, it is floppy.

A special prop, perhaps? No, it’s all in the loose waggling technique that creates an optical illusion. It is, I concede, rather lame.

And so, I stop pestering him and agree to actually learn a skill.

But first, a trick of his own design, inspired by the seances that were popular at the tail end of the 19th century.

Middleton reveals a “spirit cabinet”, famed for their trickery and concealment. First he magics a ball into a sherry glass. Then he makes the “spirit” appear, a skull suddenly dominates the centre of the cabinet. It’s a trick that he put together with his magic prop builder. Although the ball into the sherry glass is an old trick.

Magician Tony Middleton and his 'spirit cabinet'

“Some of the best tricks invented back in the early 1900s are still being used today, because they’re very effective and they work. Obviously technology has moved on so magicians have fun and new ways to do things as well.”

Unless I get my own Jonathan Creek to build it, I’m hardly going to be pulling this off over Twixmas. His speciality is parlour magic. Not close-up and not stage, but somewhere between the two.

“The most effective type of magic to experience is close-up,” explains Middleton. “People like to experience a bit of wonder.”

Whereas with stage shows, he says, the audience always ends up thinking there was probably a mirror or a trap door at work.

Earlier this year I saw Derren Brown’s show and was stupefied along with the rest of the audience. A credulous colleague, well known to readers of the Telegraph, who shall remain nameless and with his dignity intact, actually thought the only logical answer was that the whole theatre had been put to sleep for 10 minutes. Nonsense, I thought, and proceeded to find a Reddit thread that discussed how it was really done.

The internet has obviously taken some of the magic away.

When Middleton started, though, there weren’t any YouTube tutorials. “You had to go to the library and try to find books on party games and see if they had a chapter on magic. Eventually you find out there are magic shops where you can buy a trick.”

The first trick Middleton bought was on a family holiday in Las Vegas when he was 11 years old.

“I saw them do a trick that completely blew my mind. And then they said it cost $11 to find out how it was done. I paid my money and all I got was a piece of paper with the instructions on it.”

Buying secrets is standard because it helps maintain secrets. “And secrets are important for magicians, because without them there’s no magic.”

As his magical powers grew, and his piggy bank dwindled, he found an older magician to mentor him; now, he has become one himself.

“If someone shows they are dedicated to learning, then over time you will gradually feed them information and help them on their way. It’s important the next generation is helped because being a magician is a very strange career path. You can’t go and get a BA in magic, it doesn’t exist. So it’s important that the master teaches the student and they keep that knowledge going for future generations,” he explains.

Which brings me to the actual “tricks” Middleton is going to teach me: card flourishes. The kind of snazzy fans, cuts and shuffles that provide a classy tee-up to the trick’s big denouement. Turns out they are a time-intensive, steeply curved skill to learn. Middleton is actually delighted that I can’t do any of them. “It shows there’s some skill involved. It gives the craft some credit, rather than it just being a simple trick that we don’t know what it is until it’s revealed.”

The Charlier cut in particular – which involves flipping segments of the deck with one hand – looks rather neat. Very Bond villain-esque. It’s the sort of faux-casual flourish one might break out over Christmas pudding and brandy, or a New Year’s Eve soiree.

There’s still some time to practise… I’ll certainly look a darn sight cooler than I would wobbling a pencil.

Take a pack of cards and split it in half.

“Start with your fingers on the outside and your thumbs on the inside. Take your forefinger and put it on the middle of the long edge of the cards; now you’ll find you can bend the two packets. What you’re going to do is interweave the two corners.

Push it so they are a little bit closer together. Put your thumbs on the back, take your forefinger, put it underneath and squeeze with your fingers underneath.

Squeeze the top and bottom of the pack in the palm of your hand. Now if I open my fingers underneath slowly, you’ll find the cards will release.”

“This is a one-handed cut. You start with the pack in your hand quite high up.

Forefinger and little finger on the short edges, middle finger and ring finger on the bottom long edge and thumb on the top long edge, making a basket with your hand.

You drop a portion of the cards down by releasing pressure with your thumb very slightly.

About half the cards will fall from your hands. Put your forefinger underneath the dropped deck and push. When you get to this point you just open these fingers very slowly so it hops over, and then you can close it like a book.

Drop, push, open and close. And that makes the Charlier cut.”

“Also known as ‘springing the cards’, this is a skill you’ll have to practise, but the way to do it is to start small and build up to something bigger.

What you’re essentially doing is running the cards off the end of your finger tips.

I’m going to place the cards in the palm of my hand. So I’ve got the bottom into the heel and the fingers are on the top of the deck. I’m going to pull back my fingers very slowly and I’m going to use my other hand like a basket to catch all the cards.

Buckle the cards nice and firmly and very gradually pull your fingers back to allow the cards to slip up.

When you can do that smoothly you can start to open your hands very slowly and increase the distance. And finally you can get the full effect.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.

Fri, 29 Dec 2023 01:01:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Upgrade Every Season of Your Life With These Wellness Tips and Tricks

The top of the year is a great time to reflect and make some major changes. While doing so it's also important to shift your mentality for that change. We all go through seasons in our lives, and depending on what area of self-care you're focusing on, grounding your mind, body, and/or spirit can help you attain these goals more easily. Rather than making one potentially unattainable goal, adjust to the season and let your senses guide your journey.

Instead of forgetting about that resolution by March, try a full system refresh that's easy to maintain. Between making a few lifestyle changes and using the vitamins and supplements from Nature's Sunshine, you'll be able to keep your goals intact for longer and see results you can be proud of this time next year.


Adjust Your Sleeping Habits to Enhance Your Fitness Goals

If your "new year, new me" manifesto includes working on your fitness goals, then you may first want to examine your sleeping habits. It may seem like common knowledge, but making sure you're getting enough restful sleeping hours is important for its energetic benefits. Giving your mind and body enough time to recharge and reset for a new day will promote more alertness and optimal functioning throughout the day. Utilizing Power Beets — a superfood performance booster — will also enhance your daily activity as nitric oxide (for heart health, circulation support, and energy) can help enhance endurance and recovery time. Just mix one packet of Power Beets with water and you're good to go.

With the added energy, you'll be able to exercise more effectively rather than feeling like you're dragging your body along. To give your body additional support, try magnesium complex; it can assist with energy production and fatigue reduction. Getting in three to five workouts a week may be a great place to start for your fitness goals, but definitely go at your own pace and find a schedule that works for you while also giving your body enough recovery time. It's all about balance.


Practice Daily Meditation For Spiritual Clarity

Life comes with a diverse mix of stressors, and while many of them are out of our hands, we can control how we emotionally react to each situation. Meditating is a great practice for clearing the mind and grounding yourself into your body to avoid that spiritually disjointed feeling and to slow down racing thoughts. Sometimes all it takes is placing your feet firmly on the ground and taking a few deep breaths.

Another great way to clear the mind is journaling, allowing your subconscious thoughts to flow out of you and onto the page. To elevate your writing experience, you can rub lavender oil — known for its relaxing and calming properties — onto your temples or add a few drops into a diffuser. This simple aromatherapy practice will ease your mind and deepen your connection to the page. The great thing about aromatic oils is that you can utilize them anywhere, whenever you need a slight reminder to calm. For additional assistance with stabilizing your nervous system, try ashwagandha. Known for its cognitive performance benefits, taking a couple of these vitamins a day may result in reducing cortisol levels (for added stress relief) and supporting a healthy mind-body connection.


Take Your Vitamins to Jumpstart Your Gut Health Detox

Understanding your relationship with food can answer many of your tummy's ailments. We're not saying it'll solve any and all issues, but getting in tune with your diet can garnish many benefits, including helping with the digestive system's functionality and lowering the chance of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It's important your food intake works for you, but you also need to ensure you're getting proper nutrients and vitamins.

This can look like eating intuitively — essentially eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full — and taking daily multivitamins or additional supplements such as Power Meal, that's packed with plant-based calories from whole foods, roots, herbs, and mushrooms. You can also utilize a probiotic vitamin, like Probiotic Eleven, which can assist in digestive regulation thanks to 11 strains of rebalancing bacteria. And if you're an avid social media user, you've probably heard of many people discovering the impressive gut benefits from drinking chlorophyll, which include intestinal, digestive and immune wellness.


Embrace Gratitude For a More Holistic Elevation

Even if you're not focused on a specific sector of your life, keeping up with your mind, body, and spirit is essential to holistic health. No matter where you are in your wellness journey, sticking to a healthy eating practice will keep you physically and energetically prepared to face any of life's many challenges. For daily foundational nutrition, Power Greens will provide you with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants you would get from two servings of vegetables, herbs, prebiotics, and natural fiber. You might also want to consider Super Omega-3 EPA for its brain and circulatory benefits.

Another daily practice could be as simple as stretching and participating in any type of weekly physical activity that your body is able to handle. Ask anyone over the age of 30 — stretching is your best friend. Even walking around the block will do wonders for your heart — literally and figuratively. And finally, nothing is more important than gratitude. Taking time to reflect on the beautiful things in your life, the people you love, and the simple things we may take for granted will gain you greater appreciation for life and all that it has to offer, in every season you choose to grow in.

Mon, 01 Jan 2024 20:41:00 -0600 en text/html
These Tricks for Softening Butter Actually Work No result found, try new keyword!Don't worry, because we're here to help with some quick and easy tricks for softening butter. But first—why exactly do you need to know how to soften butter? If your butter is too cold ... Thu, 21 Dec 2023 08:32:00 -0600 en-us text/html The 10 Best Viral Cooking Tricks We Tried in 2023

Best Cooking Hacks of 2023

There's no doubt 2023 will go down as a big year for viral cooking hacks. People love to share their ideas online, and food tips, tricks and hacks seem to be an especially popular category for sharing. And we're not complaining. This year there certainly was no shortage of innovative tips and techniques that turned familiar culinary concepts on their head. And naturally, we ran to the kitchen to give these hacks a whirl. Some failed to deliver on their promise, but some actually worked. (And yes, we were as shocked as you were.) Here are the 10 cooking hacks we tried in 2023 that we're taking into 2024—and beyond.

Related: 90 Best TikTok Recipes and Food Trends of 2023

1. Grill your eggs.

Out of all the ways to cook eggs, grilling is not the method that immediately comes to mind. But this year, Babs Costello of @brunchwithbabs fame, shared that it's her secret to making the best hard-boiled eggs and the tastiest egg salad, so we gave it a shot. We were shocked by how well this grandma-approved trick makes the perfect, never-over-cooked hard-boiled eggs.

Try it: The Grandma-Approved Trick to the Best-Ever Hard-Boiled Eggs

2. Meal prep your brown butter (yes, you read that correctly!)

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Did you know that you can make a big batch of rich, nutty brown butter in less than 10 minutes and then stash it in the fridge or freezer for later? We were shocked that we hadn't thought of this sooner, but luckily the Internet provides. We've added this to our meal prep routine so we can level up our chocolate chip cookies, make our pasta better, turn frozen cooked corn into brown-butter corn or just make our morning toast a lot more fun.

Try it: Make-Ahead Brown Butter

3. Smash your baked potatoes.

Ever feel like baked potatoes are creamy, dense, and never as fluffy as you want them to be? Martha Stewart is here to put an end to your starchy woes. According to the culinary queen, smashing a baked potato against the counter fresh out of the oven is the necessary step to get the potato to be its fluffiest. "That smashing breaks up all the fibers, and makes the potato a delightful, fluffy creation," says Stewart.

Try it: Martha Stewart's Trick to the Fluffiest Baked Potatoes Ever

4. Add orange juice to banana bread.

Give your favorite banana bread or another quick bread some more personality by adding a few tablespoons of OJ to the batter. The breakfast beverage provides a bright flavor contrast against the warming spices in those easy bakes and it also makes your treat extra tender.

Try it: The Secret Ingredient for Better Banana Bread

5. Make your own brown sugar.

Never ever run out of the baking staple ingredient again! Mixing regular white sugar with molasses is all you need to do to create a fresh batch of baking-ready brown sugar.

Try it: The Two-Ingredient Trick to DIY Brown Sugar

6. Start your pasta in cold water.

Courtesy of Jessica Wrubel

Here's a trick we were sure wouldn't work: the cold water pasta cooking hack. Cooking pasta for carbonara or mac and cheese is so easy, do we really need another way to do it? Turns out, we do. Instead of heating up a huge pot of pasta water, when using this hack, you cook your noodles in a skillet full of cold water in just 20 minutes from start to finish.

Try it: A Quicker Way to Cook Pasta

7. Cut your peppers in a cool new way.

If you have to break down a bell pepper, there's a way to do it where you don't have to deal with the seeds. We came across a TikTok hack where you cut off the stem, stand the veggie stem-side down on a cutting board and make slices down the pepper that align with the sections of the veggie. Once those cuts are made you can open the pepper up like a flower, revealing seed-free segments.

Try it: Be a Better Pepper Prepper (Try Saying That Three Times!)

8. Shred your chicken in the stand mixer.

You can mix a plethora of things in the stand mixer, but one thing that might surprise even the most avid home cook is that you can (and should) use your stand mixer to shred chicken quickly and easily. Simply insert the paddle attachment in your stand mixer, add cooked chicken to the bowl, turn it on low-medium speed—and watch the magic happen. No more going at a whole bird with two forks.

Try it: The Genius Chicken-Shredding Trick You Need to Know About

9. Don't toss stale croissants.

Fight food waste and level up your lunch salads with this viral hack that shows you how to make hearty croutons with stale, day-old croissants. Simply tear the buttery pastries into bite-sized bits, arrange them in a baking dish or on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and crisp.

Try it: How to Turn Your Stale Croissants Into Croutons

10. Add cream cheese to your sugar cookies.

Decorated sugar cookies


The secret to achieving perfect sugar cookies, as we found out this holiday cookie season, is to simply add a bit of cream cheese. The high fat content of cream cheese ensures that the flour in the dough doesn’t absorb too much water while baking and creates a softer, airier cookie texture. The fat also adds a tangy flavor that helps to keep the sweetness of the cookie in check.

Try it: The Secret Ingredient to the Best Sugar Cookies

Up next: 13 of the Best Aldi Finds of 2023

Sat, 30 Dec 2023 00:00:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Insider tricks to nab the best holiday and flight deals in the January sales

Travel experts at have shared some of their tips for keeping costs low when booking a holiday this January, including when to book and how to access deals reserved for people in different countries

These six tips could help you save money when booking a holiday

Knowing when to buy and how to hide yourself from sneaky airline pricing tricks could save you a packet when looking for cheap flights.

On cold, damp January days, casting your mind to a warmer, sunnier place can be a helpful and much needed way to banish the gloom. Given the state of many people's bank accounts post festivities, getting a good deal is key. The demand for travel since the Covid pandemic has led to a steep rise in airline ticket prices around the world. Air fares rose by 20% between April and May 2023 alone, with some of the highest rises for European flights.

Luckily, there are still deals to be found - and the experts at have shared some of their best travel tips for keeping costs low when booking a holiday.

Booking on the wrong day of the week can prove costly (


Getty Images)

Shahab Siddiqui, founder of said: "With the cost of living taking a toll on people’s budget and flight fares increasing by a staggering 20%, those hoping to get away on the cheap are concerned. Even so-called budget airlines are increasing prices, and combined with the cost of additional add-ons like luggage, booking a holiday can be excruciatingly expensive. Brits should watch out for any last-minute deals for getaways while the boxing day sales are on."

Go incognito

While it doesn’t always make a difference, searching in incognito or private mode may drive down prices for flights by stopping airlines from clocking that you're as keen a customer as you may be.

Use a VPN

Downloading a VPN can unlock lower airline prices as some holiday companies use location data, as well as other browsing habits, to alter on-screen prices. VPNs can make it appear as if you are in any country, opening up a much bigger range of potential bargains.

Compare airline prices

It’s not always just the budget airlines which provide the best prices, especially if you're willing to alter your route or fly from a different departure airport. It is always worth searching around to find which deals work best for you and considering a connecting flight, which could knock hundreds off the overall travel price.

Discount codes

Checking for discount codes online is a quick and easy way to bring down costs. Check airline social media sites, dedicated coupon websites and travel forums. Students, NHS staff and the military may also be able to get unique perks.

Book mid-week

Tuesday and Wednesday nights are often the best times to book the cheapest flights, with midnight recommended as the right time to secure a top bargain. This is because airline tickets are sold on through an elastic, demand led system which sees prices rise and fall at different times.

Check last-minute choices

Sometimes flight providers bring down costs to fill empty seats or cancellations just before a plane is due to depart. This is unlikely to be the case during peak travel and holiday seasons, so it is best to book in advance for popular destinations. If you are happy to travel in a less popular time of the year and are able to hold your nerve, then booking later may save you some cash.

Mon, 01 Jan 2024 21:02:00 -0600 en text/html

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