DIY · goodbye clutter! · hackin' it · IKEA · Kids

Day 223: Can’t hack it? Think again.

Sometimes the solution to a problem is just staring you in the face, and you don’t see it for what it is.

This weekend I decided to clean up one of the desks in our living room—the one where the family laptop is supposed to live. I started with the clutter, obviously: old papers, cups that should have gone back to the kitchen (even though there’s a no-drinking-near-the-computer rule,) and a mess of cables that weren’t even connected to anything. With those gone, I was dismayed to find that it still looked messy. I may have gotten rid of the unconnected cables, but there were still plenty of cables all over the place. It was still a mess. Sigh.

I decided to accept the mess for now and set about connecting the laptop to a full-size keyboard (better for typing practice) and a mouse. It became obvious that the laptop needed to be raised a bit for the screen to be properly positioned. Immediately my mind turned to how I could build a platform: I could use some of my scrap plywood, or maybe just some stiff cardboard, or maybe I should buy a fancy laptop dock…

I looked up for a moment, and the answer was staring back at me.

I had these two wooden magazine files (from IKEA, naturally) being used to hold some of my homeschooling papers and booklets. Those are basically boxes, I mused, and they have convenient holes on both sides… and I bet they’ll interlock nicely… a minute later I was emptying them and finding somewhere to stash the papers (if you visit my house, please don’t open the cabinet between the desks—you’ll cause an avalanche.)

As I suspected, the two magazine files fit together to create one long, rectangular box. I ran the power cord in through one rear hole and out through the other, to the USB-port side of the laptop. I ran the cords for the keyboard and the mouse through the front holes of the box and then out through the hole closest to a USB hub I scrounged up from the basement. Then I set the computer on top and hooked it up to the hub. Here’s how it looks now:

Much better. The best part is that it required absolutely no cutting, drilling, gluing, or screwing. It was fast, clean, and completely reversible anytime I want. And the worst part? These magazine files have been discontinued in Canada. What a shame—I have so many cool ideas for them now.

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