Recomendo

Free Tax Software/Short bits of advice/How to load a dishwasher

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Recomendo: issue no. 187

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Free US tax software
You can access federal tax filing software for free from the IRS. The IRS Free File webpage is hard to find because paid tax software vendors like Intuit’s TurboTax overwhelm Google with ads for pseudo-free software. Intuit successfully lobbied the US government to prevent the feds from making free tax software widely available, and in a compromise, Intuit offers IRS Free File by Turbotax, free tax prep software for anyone earning less than $36,000 per year. — KK

Short bits of advice I’ve collected
“If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room.”
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
“Don’t argue with a stranger unless you’re prepared for them to pull out a gun and shoot you.”
“Before buying anything expensive online, keep it in your shopping cart for 24 hours. You may end up changing your mind.”
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
— MF

How to load a dishwasher properly
Finally, a definitive “How-to” on how to load the dishwasher. Consumer Reports shared an interactive graphic and a video on the best method for most machines. I was surprised to find that dishes and pots with baked on food CAN be placed faced down toward the spray arm. I was always told to not block it. — CD

Reviving spray cans
Don’t toss a can of spray paint out — or any spray can — because it’s clogged. I keep a bunch of inexpensive replacement caps (mostly sold to graffiti artists) on hand to fix this problem. Swap a new cap in and the can is like new. I’ve mentioned this hack before but this sample bag from The Yard Art Supply ($14) has a better variety of 50 male and female caps to fit any can. — KK

Use Feedly for real-time keyword alerts
I’ve been a long-time user of Google Alerts to help me track internet mentions of anything work-related like “Recomendo”. Google Alerts are free and easy to set up, and every week I get an email digest of new results. And if you’re a paying customer of Feedly Pro like me, you can fine-tune your keyword searches to get real-time alerts and create your own custom newsroom. These Feedly tips will help you refine your keyword searches, discover more results and weed out whatever is irrelevant. — CD

Unclog sewer drains
We live in an old house and the sewer pipes get clogged a lot. I got tired of paying a plumber $150 to clear the pipe every time it clogged, so I bought this $22 hose attachment, called a Drain King. It’s a rubber bladder that you insert into the sewer line opening. When you turn the hose on, the bladder expands, forcing the water to push the clog out. It has never failed me. Read the glowing testimonials on Amazon for this thing. — MF

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 03/1/20